My Sweet Mamaw

Today marks one year since my Mamaw (daddy's mother) drew her last breath and went to be with her Savior. On October 14th, I was traveling home from Lansing, MI where I'd been for two weeks for training for my job with Auto-Owners Insurance. Longest two weeks of my life. I left my husband and 3 month old baby at home. I knew my grandmother was ill and no one knew for sure how much longer she'd live. When the two weeks were up, I was beyond excited to get home.

Rewind about 3 months. Waylon was less than two weeks old. My mom was at my house helping wherever she could. She agreed to watch Waylon while I went to get my haircut (my first time to leave him since he was born). When I got back, I found my mom rocking Waylon in his room with tears running down her face. Of course I was alarmed and asked what was wrong. That was the moment I learned my 91-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was numb. I don't think I cried at all. I tried to comfort my mom. But I couldn't digest the news I just received. I sent my mom home so she could be with my dad and assured her we would be just fine.

Jake, Waylon, and I traveled to Albertville the next weekend. I wanted Mamaw to meet Waylon. If I could do it all again, I would've gone a thousand more times. I am just grateful that she got to meet my baby boy and for the memories we captured.

Over the next couple of months, Mamaw was in and out of the hospital. They wound up doing a mastecomy, but the cancer had already begun to spread. My sweet dad and his siblings did everything in their power to help combat each epidsode. Finally, after the last trip to the hospital, they decided to take her home and make her comfortable. That was October 14, 2011.

When I received the phone call to update me on her condition on my way home from Michigan, I had a decision to make, and one that I've wrestled with for awhile. I landed in Birmingham in the late afternoon/early evening from a two week trip away from home. This was also about the time Waylon started getting fussy and needed to eat. I talked with my mom and she said nobody knew how long it might be but that hospice had been called in and it was likely a matter of days. After much discussion, we decided it would be best for Waylon and myself to get a good night's rest and head up the next morning. Mamaw passed away between 2:00am and 3:00am on October 15th. My decision to wait meant I didn't get to say goodbye or be there with the family in those final hours. When I got the phone call in the wee hours of the morning, I immediately knew. And I felt guilty. But my mom reassured me I made the right decision for my family at the time and everything would be okay.

Although I wasn't there, I was fortunate to hear the awesome stories of my family who did share those final moments with my sweet Mamaw. They brought her home the afternoon of October 14th. They had a hospital bed set up in her living room/dining room area. My sweet daddy whispered in her ear that he wished she could hear him tell her she was home now. Mamaw loved being at home and she loved having all of her family around her. So that is exactly what happened during her final hours on this earth. All of the family sat around her and reminisced good times we'd had together. There were lots of laughs. And lots of tears. They prayed. They hugged. They were together. The hospice nurse told them she could hear even though she couldn't respond. I believe she heard everything that was going on. And I believe that brought her to the place of peace she needed to let go because during the wee hours of the morning, when everyone had gone home and the house was quiet, she breathed her final breath and went to be with Jesus.

One of my cousins (Tammy) and her daughter (Julie) stayed with Mamaw after everyone left. Julie was studying to be a nurse and had been given permission by the hospice nurse to take vitals and things like that. Around 2:30am, Tammy woke Julie so they could check on Mamaw. I'm not exactly sure what woke them at that moment, but I am glad they did so that the family could have the first hand account of what happened next. They said Mamaw opened her eyes and had a big smile on her face as she took her last breath. I have no doubt what she was smiling about...she saw JESUS face-to-face for the first time! And I believe right beside Him were my Grandaddy and Jack waiting to hug her neck. (Jack is my daddy's brother who he's never met. He was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle when he was 9, before my dad was born). I KNOW there was a celebration in heaven on October 15, 2011.

While I mourn the loss of my precious Mamaw, I rejoice knowing that she is pain-free and worshiping the KING of KINGS hand-in-hand with Gran and Jack. I know she is perfect and happy. And I know I will see her again some day. I rejoice knowing she doesn't have to suffer another day. She doesn't have to miss Gran another day. She is home.

I still miss my Mamaw everyday. I have a couple of rocking chairs that used to sit on her front porch. I can't sit in those without thinking of her. I think of her often when I sing Waylon to sleep. I can almost hear her voice singing those familiar hymns like "Just As I Am." I always think of her while reading Proverbs. If she told me once, she told me a million times to read Proverbs everyday. That was good advice. I think of her when I make a good, Southern home-cooked meal because that's what she did every single day. I think of her in the afternoons when the sun starts to set because she loved to be outside during that time of day. I always smile when I think of her because she was obedient and faithful to her God. And for that, I'm grateful.

A lot has changed in the year she's been gone. Her house now belongs to someone else. That baby she held when he was just two weeks old is walking and talking. She now has another great-grandchild to add to the enormous number she had. It's crazy to think about things changing so quickly without her being here to enjoy it with us, but that proves the point that what you have or how much you have doesn't matter in the end. Mamaw didn't care about status or money. She valued her faith, her family, and her friends. And because of Mamaw's faithfulness to teach her children the ways of the Lord, we have hope and faith in Jesus and we know we will all be together again someday. This one sweet, short, fiesty little lady affected many generations. She has 6 living children of her own, 19 grandchildren, approximately 40 great-grands, and several great-great grands. My prayer is to be the strong, faith-fulled woman that she was.

I could go on for days about the lessons she taught me and the memories I have of her. Summers. Swimming lessons. Piano. Weekly phone calls from Arkansas. Flower gardens. Mashed Potatoes and cornbread. Family. She was one in a million. She absolutely adored Jake and oftened ran to hug his neck before she acknowledged I was in the room. That always meant so much to me. I didn't get upset because I never doubted how much she loved me. She had enough love to go around, that's for sure. She'd be proud to know I'm working toward staying home full-time and doing my best to cook, clean, and take care of our home for Jake and Waylon. She always told me those "jobs" were more important than anything else. Once again, she was right.


Dear Waylon: 13 months

My little man,

Month 13.

You are:





We made a lot of fun memories this month.
We played with birthday toys a lot.
And spent a lot of time outdoors.

You kept me laughing with your hilarious sense of humor.
I love to see you crack yourself up.
Or if you get really excited and start acting silly. My favorite.

You took your first trip to Trade Days at Tannehill.
We pulled you around in your wagon, which you loved.
So many people stopped to say how cute you are.
We even had a couple of ladies request to take your picture. A little strange, yes.
Anyway, we found some great buys.
new tupperware sippy cups.
an Alabama checkerboard.
a HUGE watermelon.
tools for Daddy.

You've discovered the art of messiness.
You like to "finger paint" with milk when Mommy's not looking.

We took you to the zoo for your birthday.
You loved it! Even though it was hot, you were such a trooper.
We talked about the animals, what they were named and the sounds they make.

You aren't walking yet, but you are oh so close.
You can stand in the middle of the floor without help.
You have a lot more steadiness and confidence with your balance.
You will take steps if you're holding someone's hand.
I suppose you're just not ready yet. And that's okay.
I know you'll take off when the time is right for you.

You are quite the talker.

I love how you raise those blonde eyebrows. That's when you know it's serious talk.

In other news....
You are learning to be a good listener. You mind really well.
You respond to commands and word clues, like "off limits" or "stop".
You are so flexible. You don't flip out if we get off schedule sometimes.
You are not a picky eater and you sleep really well.

Quite honestly, you are such an easy baby I'm a little nervous about having another one.
Not to worry, you will have at least one sibling (more if I can convince your dad ;)
I'm just enjoying you right now. I'm not in a hurry for baby #2, although I get asked about that often.
Not anytime soon people. Unless the Lord decides otherwise.

We went to your one year doctor appointment. You weighed 22 pounds 7 ounces and were 29 3/4 inches long. You've grown right at 8 inches this year. You are spot on with the average for both categories. We still get comments about how big you are, but I think it's just those sweet, juicy cheeks that fool everyone.

You are wearing 12-18 month clothes for the most part.
You can still wear some 9 months and some 18 months are too big.
You don't wear shoes very often, but you are in size 3 now.
You are still wearing size 3 Huggies.
You have 4 teeth.

You like:
morning jogs
throwing the ball
playing peek-a-boo
our puppies
silky blanket

I am so grateful that your daddy works so hard to allow me to be at home with you. It's the hardest job but I love it with every ounce of my heart and no amount of money could make me any happier than I am taking care of and playing with you. I cherish this time with you, sweet boy.

I love you to the moon and back.



This Guy

This is my sweet husband. Isn't he handsome?
I don't "feature" him on the blog as much as I should.
But he pulled off a date night that is blogworthy.

We try to make date nights a priority.
They are usually low key, which is fine with me.
Sometimes they don't turn out the way either of us planned.
But we always have fun and we are firm believers they are necessary.

Moving on.
With slam-packed weekends this month, date night was headed to the back burner.
But, little did I know, J had something up his sleeve.
He surprised me with tickets to see WYNONNA JUDD in concert.
Umm, hello, this girl loves Wynonna Judd! (and I happen to love surprises, too)
He arranged for my parents to keep Waylon.
The icing on the cake: J decided to forgo a concert of his preference to take me to this concert.
Sacrifice, friends. That is the mark of a real man.
This guy knows how to treat his girl.

my iPhone didn't like the lighting or having to zoom so it took the crappiest pic ever.

I took a short video to share of one of my favorite Judd songs ("Young Love") but blogger would not cooperate and I didn't have the patience to figure out how to upload through another alternative. 

But it sounded a lot this....


The best part of that song was sitting next to handsome groom and singing it together.
It reminds us both of "us."

One of my favorite date nights ever!! Thank you to my sweet lovie for treating me to dinner and Wynonna on a rainy Friday night. I loved every second because I got to spend it with you!

If you don't currently go on regular date nights with your spouse, I highly recommend it. There are few things that will benefit your family and children more than making sure you take care of your marriage first.


He only turns 1 once

My baby turned a year old on July 8th. I love a good party and I love to plan so this occasion was heaven for me. I started jotting down ideas and planning his birthday party months in advance. I had a lot of fun creating my vision and seeing it come to life. Hubby thought I went over the top, but I say there is no such thing when it comes to your first baby's first birthday.

I decided on patriotic sailboat decor. I wanted to incorporate red, white, and blue since 1) his birthday is so close to our nation's birthday and 2) my patriotic heart cannot resist an opportunity to stir up some patriotic creativity. I used a nautical theme because it's cute and Waylon is loves the water.

All decor was homemade. I listed references at the bottom of the post.

birthday boy

birthday boy's attire

Guests signed their birthday wishes for Waylon in a book. I love that he has a
keepsake from his first birthday that he can enjoy for many years.

Pictures of Waylon from newboarn to 11 months hung with ribbon

Smash cake

Nothing says patriotic like a good ole bottled Coke

The menu included food you might take on a sailing trip - sandwiches, chips, dips, fruit, and cookies

Little man was a tad overwhelmed by all of the people.

He was not sure about the smash cake.

Uncle Cody pushed his head into the cake when he wouldn't try it himself.

When the crowd dwindled after singing happy birthday he started to get a little messy.
Guess he didn't like being the center of attention in front of a lot of people.

Check out the cake in his hair. Ha!

Riding with Eli in his new wagon

Our sweet friends, the Roddens, drove all the way from Memphis to surprise us.
We didn't think they were going to be able to make it. Such a sweet surprise.

C-man & Waylon

Waylon's friend Anna Banks. He loves her.

Waylon playing in the homemade sailboat.

I love that almost everyone is wearing red, white, & blue. That wasn't planned.

Thank you to all of our friends and family for helping us celebrate Waylon's first birthday.
Having each of you there made it so special.

Invitations: scrapbook paper, skewers, and ribbon - from my craft supplies
Party hat & bow tie: homemade - used this tutorial for the bow tie
Cake/Cupcakes: a dear friend made them for me
Cupcake wrappers & topper: found them on this blog
Smash cake topper: paper straws I had & chipboard number from Michaels
Guest "book:" Toy Boat by Randall de Seve from Amazon
Pennant banner: twine and scrapbook paper from my craft supplies
Large Engineering print: ordered print from Staples and taped it on foamboard
*note: Staples website says not recommended for photos but it worked for my purposes.
Cardboard sailboat: tutorial in Parents' magazine


To The First Man I Ever Loved


July 30th will always be a special day on my calendar. It's not just another day for me because it's YOUR birthday, a day to celebrate you. And there is much to celebrate.

How do I tell the very first man I ever loved how amazing he is? How do I thank him for raising me and for doing it well? Words are hardly sufficient but I will attempt to use them nonetheless.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

I believe you have obeyed this Scripture with all of your children. While we are not perfect, I believe all three of us are positive reflections on you and mom and you have a lot to be proud of (this is not intended to toot my own horn but a statement of gratitude to my parents for doing their job well).

You are a man of God, instilled with Biblical principles and equipped with His word. I thank you for your faithfulness to equip your children with Bibical principles and for preparing us to love and serve the world as Jesus commanded. It is by your example that I learned what it looks like to love and serve others. It is by your example I learned the importantance of studying Scripture and prayer. You also taught me the importance of finding a church home and getting plugged in, no matter where life takes me. These things have shaped who I am today. You were a huge part of that. Thank you for sharing your faith with me and for believing in the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus.

You are my biggest fan. From coaching my softball teams to supporting my musical pursuits to encouraging me to do my best in school, you were (and still are) my voice of reason and encouragement telling me that I could do anything I put my mind to doing. And I know you believed that. In school, B's & C's were hardly acceptable, not because you were harsh or unforgiving, but because you knew I could do better. You taught me to always give it my best despite doubts, fears, and obstacles because in the end, my efforts would pay off. You pushed me because you wanted the best for me.

You are selfless. You went without so that your family could have. You are a picture of sacrifice. In every family, there will be sacrifice and someone has to decide who will make the sacrifices. I can say with an honest heart that you chose to be the sacrificer in our family. You drove old junker vehicles so that the rest of us could drive nice cars. You never bought the farm you wanted so that we could go to college (maybe you'll be able to get one before long). You served your country faithfully as a solider in the Air Force. You sacrificed your life to protect our freedom. You taught me the importance of exercising my right to vote, not to take it for granted because people paid the ultimate price to give me that right and freedom. I do not take that responsibility lightly. After you served your country, you gave up everything to move to a small Alabama town to take care of your elderly mother. You gave up income, security, familiarity, and privacy. You gave up comfort to serve. That was no easy feat but you made the right decision. Nothing will ever be able to replace the time you had with Mamaw and the example you set because you chose to be selfless. There are treasures in heaven with your name on them, no doubt.

You are a jack of all trades. I love that you've remodeled three houses now and you learned it by teaching yourself. You can fix just about anything on a vehicle and you keep them squeaky clean. You are a landscaping and gardening extrodinare. You can make a mean fire to warm the house in the winter. You can fly airplanes. And the list goes on.

You have a great sense of humor. Anytime you're around there is laughter. I love to hear you get tickled and laugh out loud. It warms my heart. Your light-heartedness and sense of humor are contagious.

You are a true source of wisdom. Anytime I face a fork in the road or have a difficult to decision to make, I consult you. Or if I'm just in a rut or bummed out I know I can always talk to you and you'll lift my spirits. Not only will you give me advice and listen when I need you to, but you will partner with me in prayer. And that means the world.

You are a man of intergrity.
You are a picture of strength.
You are a leader.
You are a friend.
You are a supporter.
You are an encourager.

You are the first man I ever loved. And you were my standard for qualities to look for in my husband. Trustworthy. Loyal. Gentle. Man of God. Wise. Kind. I am blessed immensely in the husband department and I know that is a result of your prayers and your example.

Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for believing in me and wanting better for me than what you had. Thank you for sacrificing for me. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for all of the lectures and for being more stubborn than me. Thank you for allowing me to make mistakes and for loving me through them. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for sharing Jesus with me. Thank you for loving Mom in front of me. Thank you for taking me to church and for studying Scripture. Thank you for being the kind of man that I want my son to grow up to be like. Thank you for being you because there is no one in the world like you. I am so very thankful you are my daddy. And I am proud to be your daughter.

I love you with all of my heart now and always.

Happy birthday Daddy!



Dear Waylon: 12 months

My little lovie,

Man alive, the past 366 days (leap year) have been the fastest, sweetest, busiest, and most treasured days of my life. I can hardly believe you are a year old. It is bittersweet. Bitter because your baby days are behind us and the evidence you are now a toddler grows with every passing day. Sweet because I love who you are as a one year old. I have enjoyed watching you learn and grow and become the sweet, sensative, smart, handsome little boy you are today.
Floss anyone?

Your 12th month was slam full of fun. We were busy people.
We welcomed baby Abel on 6.12.12
We visited Daddy for Father's Day weekend 6.16 through 6.18
We had a small case of hand, foot, & mouth right before we visited Daddy (on 6.14.12). That is the first time you've been really sick. You've had a cold here and there, but nothing serious. You just did not feel good and you were not yourself. You ate very little. No wonder, the doctor said you had blisters on your throat. You cried a lot. And you ran a constant fever between 101-103. Thankfully, it only lasted 24 hours and we were still able to make the trek to Nashville to spend Father's Day with your daddy. You were such a trooper and bounced back really quickly.

Waylon & Abel

Country Music Hall of Fame

12 month highlights:

You can follow instructions - "get the ball" "come here" "say duck"
You are officially a cruiser. You are experimenting with standing without help.
New words/phrases: "hey dad" "hey hank"  Hank is Meme & Pop's pup.
You attempt to repeat what we say and sometimes surprise us with your ability to.
Your sense of humor is so funny. Your expressions are priceless.
You are learning body parts (nose, mouth, eyes). Instead of just touching, you like to wedge your finger up or into the body part (i.e. up the nose hole or in the mouth). You always surprise me with your timing and I can't help but laugh.
You've figured out how to play peek-a-boo using furniture.
Your 'drag-a-leg' crawl has gotten MUCH faster.
We weaned you off the bottle in just a couple of days (while we were at the beach)
And you LOVE whole milk.
You are beginning to assert your independence big time. You will push our hands away if you think you've got it handled.
You weigh 22 pounds and 7 ounces and are 29 3/4 inches long. You are cruising right along the 50th percentile in both categories.

Let freedom ring

I am so thankful to have such an even-tempered, laid back, happy baby. You have spoiled me. You entertain yourself so well. When you get too quiet and I check on you, I frequently find you looking through books or quietly playing with toys. And you aren't just this way at home. It makes me really proud to know you behave with other people, too. Your Sunday School teachers brag about how well-behaved you are every Sunday. Speaking of well-behaved, we have not "baby-proofed" our house and really don't plan to (with the expection of poisons & toxins which are already kept out of reach for the most part). We are firm believers in teaching you what is off limits so that when we are in other people's homes you know your boundaries. We have to keep a closer eye on you but I think it will pay off in the long run. You already know certain things are off limits, like electrical sockets.

LOVE that smile

We went to the beach with Granna and Grandaddy. Although it wasn't technically your first time, you were only 2 months the official first time so we were excited to see your reactions to the water and sand. You weren't sure about either at first. By the end of our stay, we probably could have buried you in the sand and I think you would have taken off into the ocean if you could have walked. We also tested out a "big pool" and you loved it too. You swam like a little fishy. I dunked you under water once to see how you'd react. You didn't cry, but you weren't a fan. We had such a great week relaxing and playing with my family. Your daddy didn't get to stay with us the whole week, but he was able to come by several times because he was working in the area (divine intervention).


Waylon with Granna & Grandaddy

with Daddy

Look at that hair - blowing in the breeze

got it made in the shade

somebody loves the water

My fam minus Ash, Matt, Abel. We sure missed them.
Hubby is taking the picture.

football time w/ Granna & Uncle Kyle

jumping waves with Daddy

Your birthday was on a Sunday.
You woke up in a great mood and we brought you into our room sang "happy birthday."
While Daddy got ready for church, I found a YouTube video and we sang "happy birthday" a second time. Then at breakfast,  we stuck a candle in your banana and sang "happy birthday" a third time.
After all of the birthday singing, we headed to church. We planned to go to the zoo, but it rained. So we played in the rain instead - your choice - and it was so much fun.

Birthday banana

Playing in the rain

Your first year has come and gone. I wish I could slow down time, but I sure have enjoyed every minute as your Momma. Your sweet little smile can wash all of my cares away in an instant. Snuggling with you melts me into a puddle every time (and I love that you still want to so I take advantage of every opportunity). Hearing you call my name makes my heart skip a beat. There is nothing in the world like being a mommy and I am so glad the Lord blessed me with a handsome blue-eyed baby boy with sweet cheeks and the cutest nose. You've absolutely stolen my heart and I love you a million times a million.