An accidental artist

My sister and I were recently visiting the Christian bookstore and stumbled across a new little place called The Accidental Artist. Shops have been opening and closing in this shopping center, so we just looked past this one. It's a place where you can go and paint pottery. You pay a studio fee and you pay for the piece you paint, BUT the piece I painted would have easily cost twice as much if I bought it already painted in the store. This one has my personal touch to it, which you can't buy in a store.

I hope they are able to stay in business because I think they have an awesome concept going here. My sister and I started on our projects around 3, and we stayed until closing time - 6pm. In that 3 hour time span, so many people came in to look around, inquire about birthday parties, work on projects, finish projects, etc. I will definitely be going back. I found it very therapeutic, which is great for me these days.

I have had a better few days. It seems that when I have a "bad" week, a "good" (as I say, define "good") week follows. However, I can quickly feel my spirit beginning to lower as a few good days go by. It's inevitable that I will have bad days. I just take them in stride and let them come. I'm learning to live with grief and be okay with the way it affects me. I know it's okay to have bad days. And I know it's okay to have good days. I just take them as they come; it's all I can do.

Take a look at my first piece of painted pottery. I was happy with it, and I think I've found my "signature" for all future projects:

I chose a bowl - this is the inside. I got a little off with my polka dots, but it was trial and error, and it was my first time, so now I know how to fix it in the future...

The outside of my bowl
The bowl will be glazed and fired in a kiln and available for pickup in 4 days. I'll show you the finished product once I get it.

My "signature"


7 months


7 months ago, this was our life.....

7 months ago, as of Friday the 27th, we became a family of 3.

He would be 7 months old.

7 months later, our little family is broken because someone is missing.

The 25th marked 3 months without him.

He is missed every day.

We will miss him with each passing second, minute, hour, day, month, year, milestone, holiday, and tradition.

He should be here, with us....his it's supposed to be.

The three of us will always be a family, but we will never be whole again until we see him again.

Thank God we know we'll see him again.

Happy 7 months Ayden. We love and miss you more and more with each passing day.

-Mom and Dad

26, 27, 28


Happy Birthday to this guy.......

Jeremy turns 27 today. He keeps talking about how close to 30 it is. I don't feel like we're that close to 30, but 3 years is pretty close. We have celebrated birthdays together since we were seniors in high school, so this marks the 9th birthday I've celebrated with him. He's definitely worth celebrating. And although neither one of us feels much like celebrating anything these days, I hope he enjoys today. He deserves it. Let me share some things with you about Jeremy.
1. He appears quiet and reserved. Those of us who know him best know better....
2. He loves football, and he is an awesome coach. He knows what he's talking about.
3. He loves kids. He is so good with kids. When I first saw him interact with kids, I knew right away that he was going to be a wonderful dad....and he is.
4. He is very patient with me. I can't say he is patient in every area of his life (driving.....), but when it comes to me, he is patient, kind, and compassionate. I love that about him.
5. He is corny and sappy. He laughs at his own jokes and will buy the sappiest card in the store for me. I love both of these traits.
6. He's a thinker and a ponderer. He is married to an impulsive woman who doesn't think much before she does anything. Imagine how that goes sometimes....
7. He loves his family and mine. He truly cherishes the family he has around him.
8. He is protective of my watch out.
9. He has a big, tender heart and is willing to help anyone who needs it.
10. He loves his much that I can see the pain in his eyes. I know when he is thinking of Ayden; I can see it. We may not talk about it much because we are both reserved when it comes to grief, but we know each other so well that we don't have to talk all the time about it. This affects him just as harshly as it affects me, and although he may not be as vocal about it as I am, it's there.

There is so much more I could tell you about Jeremy. He is a great guy, and I'm so blessed to have him in my life. I've thought a lot about "what if things had been different." Would this have happened IF..... and then I realize, we were brought together for this reason. God knew it 9 years ago when we met. He knew it when we were both born. He knew we would need each other. I can't get angry at God for his timing and for giving us Ayden when he did because if it had been any other month, we wouldn't have been given Ayden. It would have been a completely different child. We couldn't have asked for a sweeter, more perfect baby.
Jeremy is an awesome dad. To see him with Ayden just lit up my day....and Ayden's. Ayden had a connection with Jeremy that he and I didn't have. It was just different. I was his source of comfort and that sweet, cuddly mommy/baby love. Daddy/baby love is different but just as sweet. They had a playful relationship. Jeremy could get Ayden so excited and so happy. He could make him laugh and smile like I never could. Ayden would sit in Jeremy's lap and just "talk" to him....babbling on and on.....and Jeremy would just listen and talk back. Ayden thought it was the greatest. People tell me all the time that Ayden looks just like me. He may look a lot like me in the face, but everywhere else....he's Jeremy. He has big hands and feet (he never wore newborn size shoes...his feet were too big from the get-go) just like Jeremy. He has a long torso and high chest, just like Jeremy. He is laid back and easy Jeremy.
Jeremy and I have been through so many ups and downs together, and we've always pushed through together. This isn't something we ever anticipated, but we know that together, we'll make it through. I don't tell him enough how thankful I am for him, but I hope he knows. I love him more every day, and I truly don't know what I would do without him.
I titled this post "26, 27, 28" because those are our birthdays - mine is April 26, Ayden's is April 27, and Jeremy's is November 28. When Ayden was born, we realized that our birthday dates have an order....with Ayden in the he should be. We love that we share this with him.

Happy Birthday Jeremy! I love you and am so thankful for you. Ayden loves you, too and is so proud of his Daddy!


Fondant Cake: Part Three

Well, my fondant cake-making venture has come to an end. A successful end. It's not perfect by any means, but it's my FIRST try, and I'm proud of myself. I can't say I didn't get frustrated, but I didn't get as frustrated as I might have normally. It was hard, but I have to say I enjoyed it. Below are pictures from today and then the finished product. Next time around, I will practice my writing skills before decorating a cake! That's the only part I don't like.....

Jeremy is happy with it, and he can't wait to eat it. I could have gone out and bought a cake, and it would have been close to perfect. But I did this for him...for his day....and I did it by myself (well, I had a little help....). As long as he likes it, I'm happy.

Prepping for rolling out the fondant

Rolling - MUCH harder than I thought it would be

Didn't get a picture of me actually putting the fondant on the cake. That was the hardest part. It tore a little, but I was able to cover it up pretty well.

Pretty yellow dots :)

Starting to come together

Finished product - a girly football cake

Thank you to my mom for helping me with this part.....definitely needed more than 2 hands!

And a special touch on the back.
He will always share every holiday, birthday, celebration with us....


Cake decorating: Part 2

I've been watching Cake Boss a lot. Can you tell? If I start using a northern accent, you'll know why.
This morning, I got up and baked the cake. Jeremy picked out a chocolate fudge cake mix. I'm not brave enough to make the cake itself from scratch yet, but I'll get there. When the cake was almost finished, I started the icing. I have never made icing. If you had asked me how to make icing, I would have looked at you so confused because I have only known icing to come in a can. Now, my mom makes her I know it can be done, but I am all about convenience....well, used to be.
So, I began the icing making process. One thing I learned from this process - I will never BUY icing again!!! It turned out to be so incredibly delicious and fluffy! I was very proud of myself. Once the icing was done, the cakes had had time to cool off (thanks to Jeremy helping me out by sitting them outside to cool off....he's good at helping :) ). The next step was icing the cakes. This is the part of cake decorating that I hate. I almost never get the layers on straight. So, I put the filling icing on first and tried to even out the sides. Jeremy so kindly told me that the Cake Boss cuts the top off of his cake before he layers them. He told me this AFTER I had put the layers together. I guess I missed that part on the show. It was too late....the top layer would have fallen apart. So, I had to compensate with icing. I don't think anyone will complain. After I iced the cake....oh, let me use cake boss terms....I "dirty iced" the cake. After I dirty iced the cake, I put it in the fridge to let the icing crust.
I'll leave that in until tonight, then I will put the fondant on. That's going to be the scary part. I'm so proud of myself so far, though! I think I have a knack for this stuff. My mom is really good at the "from scratch" stuff, and so is my grandma, so I guess I come by it honestly. I at least have a small percentage of "knack".
Here are some pictures from this morning:

Cakes baking....(please excuse the pan and pizza stone...)

Icing ingredients

Crisco and butter....mmmmm (I had to ignore this part)

Mixing the Crisco and butter

Finished cakes!

The rest of the ingredients ready for mixing
Mixing the icing
Finished icing - look at that fluffy goodness...

Icing the cake

Part Three: Covering with Fondant - coming tomorrow...or tonight.


Ayden's "lellow" balloon & Thanksgiving

From the mouths of babes....

Jeremy's little cousin, Makinzie (3), was with his mom the other day at the grocery store. The lady at the check out gave her a yellow balloon. She tied it to her wrist, but when they were getting in the car, it got away from her and flew up in the air. Makinzie got a little upset, but Jeremy's mom (or as Makinzie calls her, "Aunt Vonne" - her name is Yvonne) explained to her that since it had helium in it, it would fly away if you didn't hold on to it. Makinzie's response,

"That's okay. I will let baby Ayden have my lellow balloon. Do you think Ayden will like my lellow balloon?"

I'm sure Ayden smiled when she said that. He always thought she was funny. I would watch him watch her. I believe he smiled at her a few times. What precious words spoken from a small little girl.

I was right about Thanksgiving. The anticipation was worse than the actual day. I woke up this morning and immediately thought of I do every morning. However, this morning, I spoke to him. I told him how thankful I am for him. How thankful I am for those 4 short months I had with him as his mom. How thankful I am that I know we will be together again. And how thankful I am that all he will ever know is a perfect world and the purest love. I asked God to please allow him to hear those words and to know just how much we love and treasure him. We already have treasure in Heaven, and neither Jeremy nor myself feel the need to store up anything else in this world.

Anyway, after sharing with Ayden how thankful I am for him, I realized that my spirit felt lighter than it had felt in weeks. For the past week or so, I have woken up feeling so heavy and burderned. Today, I felt peace. I attribute that to the prayers of all of you who continue to read my blog and stick with me through this journey. I received several mesages today, online and on my phone, from people telling me they were praying for us today and thinking of us and of Ayden. Wow....that helped so much.

I'm not saying it was easy. It hurt to drive up to Jeremy's grandmother's house without a diaper bag, without a carseat, without Ayden. It hurt to be able to sit there and only be concerned with myself. I ached to hold him, feed him, realize he was sleepy and needed a nap, to pick him up and make him smile and laugh. It hurt to feel his absence. It hurt to feel so empty. I should he feeling whole and full today. I should be thankful. But it's hard. Jeremy said something the other day that has stuck with me. "There is a difference between thanksgiving and praise." He's right. The two usually get paired together, synonymously. But they are so different. I can be thankful to God for many things, but praising him, especially now, is difficult. I want to credit Him with so much, because He truly deserves it, but out of fear....and probably a little resentment....I find it difficult to praise Him right now. I've shared this with God many times, and I know He understands. I know He will be patient with me.

Today was the first time I have seen my nephew since before we lost Ayden. I thought it would be hard for me to see him because he and Ayden are 7 weeks apart....and although he was younger, Ayden wasn't much smaller than our nephew, so I imagine Ayden being close to his size. It was tough to see what we are missing out on with Ayden. I longed to hold Ayden today and to just see him. I was able to hold our nephew, though. I so enjoyed the time I got to spend with him. I had to walk away at times, but I got through it, which was my goal for today I succeeded. It was hard to see everyone carrying on with life as we continue to feel as if time has stopped. But, I realize that that is life and the nature of this circumstance. All in all, it was a good day, and I'm thankful for that.

As we were leaving, today, I found myself humming a tune in my head. I couldn't remember where it came from, and then it hit me. It was a song I had heard numerous time. It was a song from Ayden's play would play from a smiley face that would light up. It came back to me as if I had just heard it yesterday. It broke my heart. I immediately thought of this video....

(I'm working on the video....blogger is not cooperating right now.....)


Domesticity & a favorite Ayden pictures!

When I became a mom, something changed. A switch was flipped, and I was no longer the "old" me. However, it remained idle for a little while. When Ayden was born, I decided against nursing. I regret that decision. However, I know why I chose to do formula. I am extremely modest by nature, and I know I would not have felt comfortable. (*Sidenote: we did actually try it....Ayden was not a that doesn't make me feel SO bad.) We also chose disposable diapers because that's just what you do. Who uses cloth diapers anymore? Well, formula and disposable diapers cost money. If I want to be a stay-at-home mom with a husband who teaches, something's going to have to give. Next time around, I will be a nursing, cloth-diapering mom. It just makes sense. Before we lost Ayden, I had been thinking ahead to when he would start eating solids. I wanted to make his baby food. Domesticity had hit me, and I loved it. I loved the idea of making the food myself instead of buying. What a sense of accomplishment to be able to do that for my child! To know that my efforts led to his nourishment. Sadly, I never got to make baby food for him as I had so looked forward to doing. I did get to feed him rice cereal. He had begun to like it, and I have some cute pictures of it. Since then, I've continued to feel this sense of "domesticity" be a homemaker and live simply. Not that you have to use cloth diapers, make your own baby food, or sew clothes in order to be a homemaker, but those are the things I've been drawn to.

He reminds me of my Uncle Joseph here.....those eyes.
It's a coveted Tyson trait, and Ayden and I both share it.

Beautiful, beautiful boy.....

These were taken the Sunday before Ayden went to Heaven. I will always remember this day. I had put him in his highchair, and I went over to the counter to get his cereal. All of a sudden, I heard him laughing...just cackling! I looked over, and I said, "What is so funny over there silly boy?" He was looking down at his bib, and then he looked nothing.....and just laughed and laughed. I've thought long and hard about that moment....and I'm just not sure what I believe about it yet. He would often look away...almost drift off....and then "come back to reality" and look back at me as if had seen someone else. I believe that children, because of their innocence, can see things we can't. I like to think Ayden was often visited by angels and that an angel was making him laugh that day, but I'll never know. All I know is a moment with him I will treasure forever.

Back to domesticity......

Jeremy's birthday is Saturday, so I asked him a few days what kind of cake he wanted. He loves fondant, so he asked for a cake that has fondant on it. Well, those cakes are not cheap. I told him if he wanted that kind of cake, I'd just have to try to make it.

Fondant is not easy....

I have never worked with fondant. Heck, who am I kidding....I've only baked a cake out of a box. If it has clear directions, and I don't have to rely on any kind of instinct, I'm there....I can handle it. So, making a cake with fondant - so not up my alley. But, for Jeremy, I decided to try it.

I found a recipe online. It looked easy enough, so I set out to do it. Tonight, after we got home from Thanksgiving festivities (more on that later....), we went to get the ingredients and hardware needed. Let me just say - it would have been cheaper to pay for a cake. BUT - I now have what I need for future cakes, so it all balances out.

The recipe for the fondant turned out not to be as hard as I thought. It was interesting, though. I don't like to get my hands dirty. This required slathering my hands in Crisco and then using my hands to mix and knead melted marshmallows and powdered sugar. Once that had been constructed into a "dough", I had to knead in food coloring. My fingernails now have a nice purple tint to them. Jeremy is a big ECU fan - he even walked on to the football team and was a member of the team for a year - so I knew purple and "gold" (yellow) would be my primary colors. I couldn't take many pictures because my hands were my tools, but Jeremy pitched in and took some pictures at certain intervals.

In the end, I had much success with my first "from scratch" experience. Tomorrow, I will be making buttercream icing and cake (the cake will be from a steps....) and let that sit overnight in the fridge. Then, Saturday, I will cover the cake in the fondant and add the finishing touches. I'll try to take pictures along the way and of course of the finished product. I'll just be happy if it's edible.

My next attempt at domesticity: sewing. Details on that journey to come soon....

Fondant Making:


Crisco (used as a base on the countertop so the fondant doesn't stick)

Powdered Sugar and melted Marshmallows = Fondant

Food coloring

Crisco covered countertop and powdered sugar waiting for the melted marshmallows


More have to knead for about 8 minutes

My purple fondant!

The yellow!

Purple fingernails....(and me wearing Jeremy's pajama pants)


I would like for you to meet my friend...

... Amber.

She sent this picture to my phone. I told her to be careful what she sends me. haha I told her she might just see it again. Well, here it is. But I love this picture. You know why? Because THIS is Amber. Carefree. 100% herself. Silly. A child at heart. She is one of my oldest friends. We go all the way back to the age of 5. Let me do the math for you --- that's 21 years of friendship. We met on our elementary school's playground. Since that day, we've been spirit. Life has taken us each down different paths, but we've remained close despite the distance. Amber will always be one of my favorite friends. She gets me. You would probably look at the two of us and wonder how we fit together, but we do....better than any two friends you could ever imagine. Amber taught me how to imagine. We always went on adventures, and we had so many plans for the future. We were going to be spies together (if you ask my students, they'll tell you it's still one of my join the CIA). We were going to do so many things. Then life happened. One of my favorite memories we have together is us riding her bike around her neighborhood. I was peddling, and she was on my shoulders. I, I would flip out if I saw some kids doing that.....but we didn't think about how dangerous it was. It was fun! Another memory....she convinced me to let her fold up a sleeper sofa with me inside. I look back and see how dangerous that actually was, but again....we didn't think about those things. We have so many other memories together....many that we will laugh and laugh about. Others make us when she moved away. I don't think either one of us has found another friend like the other. I don't think we ever will. Childhood friends are irreplaceable. I'm fortunate to have kept a lot of my childhood friends, and we still keep in touch with each other. I love all of my friends and keep them close to my heart, but Amber is my first and most favorite friend, and I can say without a doubt that we will be friends for the rest of our lives....not matter where life takes us next.

Amber and I text each other every day....throughout the day. She is going to Chile on a mission trip in December. She will be gone for two months, and I know we won't be able to keep in touch while she's gone. She has played such a huge part in my healing process. We can relate to a lot of things, and she can just tell when I've had a bad day. We know each other so well, we don't need words. She has been such a comfort, and although I hate that we had to be brought back together through this, I'm so thankful to have her back in my life after years of barely communicating with each other. We were able to pick up where we left off and just keep moving. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing this picture. I think I know her well enough to know she'll laugh and not think much of it....I hope.

We all need "Amber" friends in our lives....I'm so thankful for mine.


The only Christmas tree I need this year....

These are pictures of the Butterfly Tree some of our students put together. Members of the FCCLA sold butterflies and the contributions went to support First Candle/SIDS Awareness. The butterflies were $1.oo each, and they raised $638.00. That's a lot of butterflies. They decided to use the butterflies to decorate a tree at the Greenville Convention Center. I went by there yesterday to check it out. They did a great job:

This is my favorite butterfly. Look closely; you'll see why....

I'm so proud of these kids. I know that Ayden was a big part of their decision to do this, but they also wanted to honor all of the babies who have fallen victim to SIDS. They did research and projects for SIDS Awareness because most of then had never heard of it before. Sadly, a lot of people don't know much about it. I don't understand why the #1 cause of death for infants each year (although SIDS is not a is just a conclusion because there is no real "cause" that they know of) is still so mysterious. It's as if people ignore it....pretend like it isn't real just because they know so little. It doesn't seem right that money has to be contributed in order to further research on this. It should be a primary focus; it should hold precedence. I know not all babies who pass away are affected by SIDS. The loss of a child, whatever the cause, is terrible. I just wish more was known about SIDS, and I wish more attention was given to it in medical research. Maybe it is given a lot of attention. It just doesn't seem that way to me. They have all of these "risk factors", which are no more than suggestions. They don't KNOW that these suggestions will prevent SIDS. I can tell you....they don't; they won't. We took every precaution. Every. single. one. So, when I hear people say, "Back to sleep", I get extremely frustrated. They make it seem like, "If you do "x", your baby won't become a victim." Well, we covered all the bases.....explain to me how it still happened and how these "suggestions" were supposed to help.

Okay, I've gone off on my tangent again. How about I leave you with some cute pictures? My sister, Megan, and I went to visit a friend of ours yesterday, Jill. This is Jill's daughter's dog, Marzipan "Marz". She really likes Megan, so got some pictures of Megan and Marz having a moment. Many of you proably didn't know I had a sister. She's 25, and she is a NICU nurse. She is awesome at her job, which is why I never, ever worried when Ayden was in her care. She's single...waiting for the perfect guy to come along. He's going to be one lucky guy, and if she loves her future children as much as she loves Ayden, they're going to be some blessed kids. I think Megan reminded Ayden of me because he would respond to her much like he would to me. Not exactly. I was still the only one who could calm him down. You can't compete with the "mom touch", but she could get pretty close. We look more alike now that we're older, and we sound alike sometimes. I would have never told you 10 years ago that my sister would be my best friend, but she is, and I love her dearly.