One more reason I'm longing for Heaven

Today, my grandmother went to be with Jesus....and so many others she has been longing to see.  Right about now, she is snuggled up to a sweet baby boy...making up for lost time; laughing and loving on my grandpa and my dad.

She hasn't been doing very well the past year.  Her health had been declining and she had been in and out of a nursing home and the hospital.  There were several things going on - liver failure and fluid on her lungs along with diabetes.  A couple of weeks ago, we were called in to see her because she had been taken to the hospital with difficulty breathing.  We all, including her, thought we would be saying goodbye that day, but she improved and seemed to be doing very well.  Then, this past Sunday/Monday she started going down very quickly - disoriented, blood pressure and heart rate lowered.  Yesterday, we were called in because it looked like her time with us was drawing to an end.  We had been at the beach and were on the way home when we got the call, so we just kept driving to get to her and love on her all we could.  I'm so, so glad we were able to be there.  She wasn't able to talk much and was having a hard time breathing, but she looked me in my eyes and recognized me.  She squeezed my hand and reached for me; she knew I was there.  I knew the look in her eyes...that "I love you" look.  I knew I was seeing my grandmother (I call her "MaMa") in her last moments, and my heart was heavy, but I couldn't help but breathe sighs of relief for her....and feel a twinge of jealousy that she was going home.  She would soon be in the presence of the Lord and once again be with so many who have gone before her.  2 weeks ago in the hospital, she named every single person she could think of that she was looking forward to seeing!  She was ready, and her tired body is no longer tired.  She is dwelling in glory, and although I will miss her terribly, I rejoice for her and the reunion she is experiencing right now!

For 30 years, she was one of my very best friends.  She and I have always shared a close connection.  And she has always had me wrapped around her little finger.  She taught me to value family and always put your family first.  She also believed in Christ and had a strong faith.  I loved to listen to her quiet and meek but strong and true.  She and my grandpa had such a loving and funny relationship. They leaned on each other and depended on each other.  She had the best laugh....gosh I will miss that.  MaMa kept kids for many, many years....up until she was 76 years old.  She played large part in raising me and I credit her with a lot of the traits that make me who I am today.  I am very much like her....stubborness is probably the #1 trait I get from her! haha  I used to love to sit with her and just listen to her tell stories.  She could tell a story and fill it with such felt like you actually lived that  experience.  We would talk on the phone often....usually just to say I love you and "I just wanted to hear your voice."  I called her recently for potty training advice....figured if anyone would know it would be her!  I could go on and on....  I'm so thankful she was able to know all of my children.  She always told me that Ayden was the most beautiful baby she had ever seen.  She was enamored by Collen and Charlotte, and I'm thankful that we visited her often and they knew her well.  She taught Collen one of his favorite little sayings.  We say it every night at bed time - "A bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck."  Then Collen will say, "Great MaMa says that."  He loved her so very much - the feeling was definitely mutual on her end as well.

I realize with each loss that the rest of my life will be filled with losing those around me.  That is a very somber and sad realization, but it is the nature of the world in which we live.  If I didn't have hope and the assurance of eternity in Heaven...the knowledge of seeing my loved ones again....the world and the loss I have experienced in 30 short years would have crushed me by now.  Please keep our family in your prayers as we come together to remember my grandmother - Barbara Tyson - and honor her memory.  Here are some pictures of MaMa - one of the sweetest ladies I will ever know. <3 p="">

I have always, always thought my grandma was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen!  I love this photo of her - this is actually her wedding dress. :)

Love birds then....

 ...and 50 years later.

 MaMa with Ayden (above and below)

MaMa and Collen

My dad, MaMa, me and Collen

 MaMa and Charlotte - PURE JOY in this photo!  The last girl in the family had been my sister...27 years prior to this moment!  

 Me, MaMa, my sister, Megan, during a visit in the nursing home

 Her 80th birthday this past April

One heart beat - that's how it felt sometimes when I was with her.  She will always be a part of me.

I was able to spend some time alone with MaMa last night.  I was there with my Great Aunt (her sister) until after visiting hours.  Leaving her was so difficult because I hated to leave her by herself.  I stayed a little longer after my aunt left....just me and MaMa.  I held her hand, stroked her hair, put some chapstick on her lips and told her I loved her...that everything was going to be okay.  My voice was the last one she heard.  Last night, I didn't know that would be the case and I certainly didn't think it would happen that way because I very rarely got to be alone with her.  But I am so very, very grateful that I got that time with her...just me and her. As I sat with her, I read the verse below to her.  It has brought me a lot of hope and encouragement lately.  I repeated the end to her... "you will restore my life again." She is restored.  She is rejoicing.  She is fulfilled. 

Psalm 71:14-21

New International Version (NIV)
As for me, I will always have hope;

    I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,

    of your saving acts all day long—

    though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
    I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
    and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,

    you who have done great things.

    Who is like you, God?
Though you have made me see troubles,
    many and bitter,
    you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
    and comfort me once more.

The time I asked for a plane ticket for my birthday....

....and it was the best gift, ever!

Four years ago (next month), our lives were turned upside down and changed forever.  I, personally, felt most would upon losing the most precious thing in your life.  There was no one in our hometown that we knew of that had experienced the loss of an infant to SIDS.  I'm not one to reach out to others, but even if I had wanted/needed to...there was no one.  I began searching online...grasping for any source of hope and familiarity that I could find.  It helped to read the stories of others; to read about their journey and see how far God had brought them; to see that there was hope and light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

One of the first blogs I stumbled upon was To Bring Him Glory.  This blog is written by Cari, wife to The Captain and mother to three beautiful children.  Her daughter, Caden, is with Jesus....and I'm certain a great friend of Ayden's. :)  Cari and I connected quickly.  I left a comment on one of her posts and from there, a correspondence began, and we soon started chatting on the phone every now and then.  It was so nice to find someone who understood.  Someone I could connect to.  Another mother missing her baby. As time passed, we continued to keep in touch.  We shared the joys of our children - she has had 2 boys since having Caden.  We've also shared struggles....her husband's battle with cancer and the loss of my dad.  She continues to be a source of encouragement, light, and hope.  On days when I am just low...and not willing to open my eyes and see the goodness all around me, reading her posts just lift me up and remind of how good our God is - even when we aren't willing to see it.

For 4 years, she and I have said, "Someday, when we meet....." For my birthday, I decided I wanted to make that "someday" happen, so I asked for a plane ticket to Indianapolis.  We set a date and planned a trip.  I took Charlotte with me (because she and I are pretty much attached at the hip), and on we went to Indiana.  Charlotte did remarkably well on the flights!  She slept on one, and on our flight to Indiana from Charlotte, we actually got a row all to ourselves!  She got to sit like a big girl and LOVED it!

We got to Indianapolis on Friday, the 5th and spent the weekend with Cari and her family.  It was surreal to actually be there, face-to-face with one of my dearest friends whom I had never officially met!  It was one of those moments when you just pick up and go with it....don't skip a's like you just saw each other the week before.  That's when you know a friendship is meant to be.  It was a weekend of just hanging out....eating leftovers (which Cari continued to apologize for, but I loved it because I was there to just be there with her....I had not a care in the world about what we ate!)...watching movies...playing with the and a trip to the Cheesecake Factory.  I got to visit Cari's church, which was very much like ours here at home.  I saw several parts of Indianapolis, which is a HUGE city. Wow!!  I'm used to our little population of around 125,000....and they're looking at a million in population!  I also got to meet some of Cari's friends - I tried to mind my southern accent around them so I didn't sound like too much of a hick.  haha  Cari got to hear some of it come out, though. ;)

Having a friend like Cari is such a blessing, and I'm so incredibly thankful we could make this trip happen.  It almost didn't because my grandma had just been hospitalized and things were not looking good.  However, she continued to improve....and I had changed my flight abruptly because we were certain she would not make it through the weekend.  But, as she has so many times before, she toughed it out and improved!  So, I had to change my flight back, which took several phone calls....a lot of pleading...and Jeremy finally telling a U.S. Airways manager/supervisor our entire story to get them to change the flight back without charging me again.  (I know...I'm a lucky lady)  THEN...July 4th evening...our dog went missing.  She got spooked by the fireworks and ran through the invisible fence. So, off I went to Indiana worried about our dog.  I was determined, though, that I was going on this trip!  We had waited far too long to meet and actually make this a reality!  God was looking out for us and allowed us to have a wonderful visit!  And....our dog is home safe and sound. :)

Here are some pictures from our visit.  I hope we meet up again very soon!  God places people in our lives for specific purposes, and I'm so very glad he brought me and Cari together. <3 p="">

Here are some photos from the trip.  I didn't take nearly enough.  We were having too much fun!

 Charlotte charmed everyone on the plane.  There and back, she did amazing!  So proud of my little jet-setter!

 Enjoying some yummy food! Charlotte ate bananas for the first time and LOVED them.

 The boys were in love with Ms. Charlotte.  Having a big brother, she ran with it and made herself right at home.

A beautiful person inside and out.  So blessed to call her my friend!  Love you, Cari!

Absent from the blog....but definitely not from life!

What have we been up to?  Well....some lazy days, some vacationing, working, football, and a little bit of everything in between.  I've been fortunate in my new job to still get the summer home with my kids.  My schedule is a little different since I do have to work some days here and there instead of being off for a big chunk of time.  However, as of today, I have a whole month before I return to work full time.  Again...very fortunate to have this time!  I know so many moms would love to get the time I get, so I don't take it for granted one bit!

I could tell you everything we've been up to, but I'd rather show you.  Here you go:

Our first vacation was with Jeremy's family.  We spent a week in Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, TN.  It was a nice break from reality, but anyone with kids knows that traveling with kids isn't really a vacation.  At least I wasn't responsible for cleaning the house we stayed in.  That part was just relax a bit and enjoy being together.  I didn't take many pictures, but these were from our pool day.  The kids have swim lessons starting next week, so this was a good practice. Collen is getting more courageous.  Charlotte was ready to dive in head first...kept putting her face in the water.  I'm learning I have to watch her....she's quite spontaneous and brave for her small size!

We signed the kids up for Kindermusik this summer!  This was Collen's 2nd time, and he was much more comfortable and in his element.  He loved it.  He was the oldest one on the class, and I so loved watching him interact with his peers.  When he's at home, he's full-force...100 miles a minute, but around his peers, he is very the point of insecurity at times.  I already see that we're going to have to be careful about being sure we build him up and positively reinforce him.  I see SO MUCH of me in him.  I know what makes him tick...and seeing him in this class just brought my suspicions to light.  He is tender-hearted and sensitive....words will hurt him more than anything else, just like I sweet, sweet boy.  I love this about him, but it will be a task to be sure we aren't hard on him just because he's a boy and should have "tough skin."  Going to fight that stigma now so it doesn't follow us and him! We have always encouraged him to be whoever he wants to what he likes...even if it means he isn't rough and tumble like other boys.  He is Collen, and we love him and his sweet, sensitive, tender-hearted self. 

Charlotte enjoyed music class as well!  She hasn't had much time with babies her age, so it was nice to see her with other kids.  She was stuck to me for the first couple of classes, but you can see in this picture that she got in there with the group and joined in like a champ.  She's so quiet and reserved....yet she has no problem making herself heard.  I think she had the loudest squeals in the whole class!  I'm still learning her ways...what makes her tick....what she likes and doesn't like.  She is a lot like Collen in her silly personality, but she is also very different.  She is a thinker and an observer, much like her daddy.  

 We are getting so close to Collen being completely potty trained!  I would daresay he is ready to say goodbye to the pull-ups and go to big boy undies, but he is still resistant to #2 in the potty, and I'm afraid of it leading to an accident....which would then lead him to regress.  He's getting better about going by himself...he's even done #2 all by himself (without prompting).  So, we're getting close!  We continue to use positive reinforcement....even when it can be so frustrating after he's held it for 3 days in a row but continues to complain that he doesn't want to go.  We've brought in a prize bag for #2.  That has helped a lot!  Dollar Store toys have become a staple in building up his confidence!

My sister moved recently. :(  For the past 6 years, she's lived in the same town as me.  She is my absolute best, best friend, and it has been tough to not see her every Sunday....or do dinners during the week.  However, she's still working part-time at the hospital here, so when she works, she comes and spends the night with us!  And she gets to enjoy snuggles like this....  These snuggles are coveted because Charlotte doesn't do this with many people.  Aunt MiMi is a favorite in our household....our kids love, love, love her (and I do too!).  They are so blessed to have her as an aunt and a friend.

 Uncle J came and surprised us (well...he came to see Megan, really...) with a visit!  Collen was SO excited!  Next to Daddy, Uncle J is his 2nd favorite buddy!!

The dogs are enjoying being lazy this summer.  We've had to board them a couple of times while being out of town.  They did fantastic!!  Got great reports and we were told about how friendly and sweet they were.  No pics of Gracie...sorry...but the boarder gave us a picture from her pool party time.  She looked like she had a ball! I bet she'd prefer us to go out of town more often!  Scout is still getting acquainted with the family and how things go.  She's still very much a puppy, so she is high-energy, but she's quickly learning when it's time to slow down and when it's okay to play. :)  She is a sweet, sweet dog.  She and I snuggled up and watched a movie this week.  She's a party pooper....never makes it through the whole movie.

Collen has been very into dressing up and puppets lately.   He loves cowboys, so it's not unusual to see him in this get-up as he runs around the house.  He was being a pouty cowboy in this one.

Speaking of Charlotte's dare-devil nature...documentation of her first boo-boo.  She started crawling and pulling up, so she's getting into more things and sticky situations.  Her eyebrow met the table a few days ago.  She cried for a minute then went back to playing.  Not much phases her...

She enjoys feeding herself, too.  We're working on solids....she's not a fan of the texture and tends to gag most of the time.  She does well with puffs, noodles, and very soft carrots. :)  She prefers baby food, still, over anything else.

Pulling up and cruising (this happened this week)
 Loving the doggy...
 She turned nine months on June 4th (a little usual).  Her 9 month stats were:

Weight: 18 lbs 5oz (50%)
Height: 29 1/4 in (90%)

Still tall and skinny.  She does NOT get this from me. Lucky girl!

I am settling into my new job well.  It was the right choice for me to make this move.  That's becoming more apparent every day.  I enjoy the atmosphere and the low stress (compared to teaching).  I miss the classroom...a  lot.  I miss my co-workers at AGHS even more.  But I'm starting to fall in here...feeling more comfortable and confident with my position.  A lot of that has been because I've found a kindred spirit.  I had to put this on here because it was just too funny.  When I was hired, I kept hearing, "She looks a little like Emily doesn't she?"  This is Emily.  And we dressed alike this day (not on purpose).  We've decided we were separated at birth.  In some other universe, we are twins.  She and I were cut from the same mold apparently, and we have become fast friends.  Work is always so much more fun when you have people you connect with. :)

I still have a month left of my summer vacation.  We have a beach trip coming up at the end of July.  Expect the obligatory "first beach trip for Charlotte" pics to come soon.  Football is in full swing and about to get even busier.  The life of a football wife is always busy....I've gotten better at juggling it all, but I have loved having Jeremy home more this summer as he enjoys some of his break!

I feel like we're always on the go.  I've had several blog posts I've wanted to write about some heavier things.....getting back to the core of my blog....but it takes a lot of energy and time to get those posts written.  I'll get there.  I'm making notes...writing down ideas.  One day I'll transfer them.

Hope you are all well and enjoying your summer.