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Initial Summary:

Where were you when 2016 began?
At home!

Who were you with?
Close family – we smashed our gingerbread house and Eli played on his new toy horse.

Was 2016 a good year for you?
It was, sort of. It was pretty rough. It was long. It was life changing.

What countries/states did you visit?
We visited Alan, Mandy and Ethan in Oklahoma as a family first half of the year.  Then Justin and I took an awesome mini-vacation where we drove through Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions? 
I did not make any, so, yes. One of the interesting things, when I was asked last year what I wanted in 2016 that I lacked in 2015 I said more camping, more friends and a church home.  Luckily, I can add all of those to my list of accomplishments. We went camping 3 times (spring break, summer, and thanksgiving), found a new church home, and I’ve developed some friendships at work.

Did anyone close to you give birth? 
Cory and Erin added baby David, aka Boog, to the family!

Did anyone close to you die? 
No.  Lots of other people did, though, it was a rough year.

What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 1st, 2016, the day Lilly came to live with us AND the day that I started my new career at the Police Department.

Experiences:

What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
We took my niece in for the school year to help her out.  Justin and I got to visit the east coast, which was pretty awesome.  I became the Accreditation and Compliance Coordinator at my job, which is a completely different job than dispatching.

Did you have fun in 2016?
I believe the phrase that best sums up this year is: “All joy and no fun.”  We did get some good camping trips in this year.  My new job is pretty amazing, too.  I enjoy it a lot.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d spent more time living instead of responding and surviving.  I wish I’d been more empathetic and given more grace to Justin.  It’s been a pretty rough year.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I’d been less judgmental, less controlling, less bossy.  I wish I’d spoken less and listened more.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 32! I worked, because the last few birthdays have kind of sucked and I was tired of trying to do something special.  So my brother-from-another-mother Gabe and some of the other guys took me to lunch.  That evening was our very first Community Group with our new church, and that was a pretty great birthday present.  That’s been a worthwhile and awesome investment.

What did you want and get?
A break from dispatching. Leslie got me a really awesome coffee mug from my Pinterest wish list, too!

What did you want and not get?
Debt free.  And I see no sign of that in the near future.

Others:

Whose behavior merited celebration? 
My families. Lilly has shown a willingness to grow and change and become more self-aware, which for a 13-year-old is pretty incredible. Justin has stepped up and really helped mitigate some of these changes with grace I can’t comprehend. Benjamin has taken on the task of having a big older sister with a good sense of humor and a willingness to grow.  It has been QUITE an adjustment for him, but he’s done amazing.  Eli has kept everyone smiling and shows compassion that I didn’t think a 2 year old was capable of, but there he is every day asking me how my day was.

Whose behavior made you appalled, depressed, or sad?
People who put their needs over the needs of others, people who refuse to listen to loved ones, people who won’t change. People that choose to take dark paths because they’re easy. People that scream that they’re being judged and no one will tolerate them, when they’re the ones who aren’t tolerating others.  Also my own behavior, which was characterized by impatience.

Did somebody treat you badly in 2016?
Yeah but I probably deserved at least some of it.

Who were some new people you met?
Beth!!!!!!!

Favorites/Least Favorites:

What was your favorite month of 2016? 
That is actually easy this year.  April we went to go visit family in Oklahoma, I was given an award at work for my work to help victims of domestic violence, I got to teach at the APCO/NENA conference, AND we got to go to NASA. Oh, and I had a lady’s weekend with my family.  I’m gonna have to go with April!!!

What was your favorite moment of the year?
The entirety of Justin and I’s vacation together. Also, Benjamin learning how to ride his bike. That was a pretty incredible experience with him in front of the house.  He just kept trying and trying until he could do it. And then, he did!

What was your least favorite moment of the year? 
There are a lot of least favorite moments this year.  Most of them involved dealing with things out of my control.

What was your favorite TV program? 
One Piece!

What was the best book you read? 
Hmm. Tough decision, as always.  Non-fiction I really liked “Drive” by Daniel Pink. Fiction I really liked “We’re all Damaged” by Mathew Norman.

What were your favorite films of this year? 
The new Star Wars!

What was your favorite video game you played this year?
I haven’t played any this year.

What was your favorite new technology/application?
My fitbit was pretty awesome for most of the year!

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Aviccii.

What was the best thing you bought? 
New tires for the truck #oldlady

Self-reflection:

What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
I took in a teenager. Pretty much everything pales in comparison to that.

What was your biggest failure? 
I could be doing better at the teenager thing.

Did you suffer illness or injury? 
Not really.  Luckily I paid attention to my body a lot better this year and didn’t have any major injuries.  Eli had a lot of illness, but he’s doing good on his medicine this fall so we haven’t had nearly the sickness we did last year (thank you Jesus).

Where did most of your money go?
Kids and gasoline.

What kept you sane?
I’m not sure I kept it…

Who did you miss?
My husband.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
CAMPING!

Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder? Sadder
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner!
iii. richer or poorer? POORER!

Did you fall in love in 2016? 
Yes, with a temporary daughter!

Did you lose anything important this year?
Yes.  We lost the previous family dynamic. But, it’s being reshaped into something new and different, and sometimes losing something important isn’t a bad thing, just a thing.

What was your proudest moment of 2016?
Listening to Benjamin try to teach Lilly about God. Getting my new job.

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2016?
Telling my boss he shouldn’t worry about being sloppy with his Y’s, as long as he’s not sloppy with his wives *facepalm*

Gauge your:
(On a scale of: Very Good, Good, Fairly Good, Fairly Bad, Bad, Very Bad)
• Relational Health – Fairly good
• Emotional Health – Fairly bad
• Physical Health – Good
• Social Health – Fairly good (this has consistently been bad, but this year we really improved it)
• Spiritual Health – Good
• Intellectual Health – Very good!!! This new job is really helping that!!!
• Financial Health –  Bad. Almost very bad. But not quite!

It seems to me, each year, that one of these things is bad. Balance is a terrible, terrible thing.

In the future:

How will you be spending Christmas? 
We already had it! We spent Christmas Eve at our house, and it was absolute chaos. It wasn’t nearly enjoyable enough considering how much effort was put into it! Next year: everyone opens presents ONE AT A TIME.  Christmas morning we were at Aunt Tina and Uncle Scott’s and we had a great time.  The kids got some really fun presents.

How will you be spending New Years? 
Already done (I am totally late this year filling this out).  We went to visit Aunt Charla and Uncle Brad and Alexis in Bastrop where they camped, and then drove over to Gabe and Rachel’s house for the nights.  We rang in the new year with all the kids and I kissed my husband at midnight.  We hung out with friends, laughed, talked, snorted with laughter and made some great memories.  I loved it.

What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? 
More organization in the house. I would really like it a lot if Justin and I could work out a way to balance and prioritize our life a little more.  Adjusting to this year has been ridiculously difficult, and while I know we’ll come out stronger on the other side of this, it’s definitely been a challenge.

What are your plans for 2017?
To spend a lot of time outdoors, to get Eli potty trained, to log more time on my bicycle, to get my BMI to 27.4 (170 lbs, right in the middle of “overweight” instead of obese). To improve my relational and emotional health to the “very good” categories.

Will you make any new years resolutions for 2017?
Yeah – I gave up candy, cakes, and cookies for the first 11 months of the year, with a few exceptions (like the kids birthday).  I gave up candy in 2015 and it helped a lot with my awareness.  This is a big more extreme, but I think it will be a good experiment.

In Conclusion:

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016: 

I am still learning it.  I think it’s something about the importance of listening, and shutting up, and servant leadership.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: 

I have two:

All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don’t make any sudden moves
You don’t know the half of the abuse

And:

You’re the reason that I feel so strong
The reason that I’m hanging on
You know you gave me all the time
Oh, did I give enough of mine?

Hold on, darling
This body is yours,
This body is yours and mine
Well hold on, my darling
This mess was yours,
Now your mess is mine

 

Initial Summary:

Where were you when 2015 began?
At home, with family.  We were celebrating Eli’s first birthday the next day!

Who were you with?
The Sullivan family, Scott family and Breese family!

Was 2015 a good year for you?
Yes.  I had a great year! Not being pregnant, not working night shift, and not having a new baby does wonders for the ability to rest.  There was a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, isn’t there always though? But it was a great year!

What countries/states did you visit?
Justin and I took a cruise with some family to Cozumel, Belize and Honduras.  It was an awesome, relaxing, revitalizing experience.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions? 
Sort of. Yes, mostly. I wanted to go a year without eating candy – which I mostly did! No candy at Easter or Halloween, which are my two big holidays with stuff I love to eat. However, I did take a day off in May so everyone in the family could eat Wonka candy while watching Willy Wonka – Benjamin and I read the book, and followed it up with the movie.

Did anyone close to you give birth? 
Finally, NO. But next year Cory and Erin will be adding a new baby to the mix!

Did anyone close to you die? 
Not particularly, but one of the Lieutenants that retired from Cedar Park passed away, and that was very sad because he was really an amazing guy.  Also, we lost one of the Fire Department administrators at work, her name was Debbie and she was SO incredibly sweet.  They both will be missed!

What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don’t think I have had any particularly standout dates.

Experiences:

What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
Taught my first “Train the trainer” in February for SAFVIC, which was an AWESOME experience!! Took both boys to their first baseball game in April. Sent my son to school – although that’s really more of a first for him than me!  We bought a truck!

Did you have fun in 2015?
Yes!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Found more time to be a Husband and Wife instead of just Mom and Dad.  Being married is a lot of fun, but if you don’t take time to have dates you really miss out on connecting.  I exercised a lot, but I wish I had done more, more consistently.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I’d been injured/sick less.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31! We drove out to Houston to visit family. It was a quick turnaround trip, and I ended up offending one of my family members inadvertently, so I spent most of my birthday feeling like absolute crap over a breakfast plan misunderstanding.  That’s the second year I’ve had a bad birthday experience for at least part of the day, so I think next year I’m going to make my husband take me away for the day!  This year he bought me (besides the truck) a nice flannel shawl.

What did you want and get?
Justin and I have needed a vehicle with one more seat for some time, for the times we need to transport 4 kids and 2 adults (which is more often than you’d think). So we debated what to buy and finally pulled the trigger on a 2013 Chevy Silverado with low mileage and leather interior.  I’m in love with it and we’ve already been camping once in it!

What did you want and not get?
Debt free. But my priorities shifted this year, and it is worth it to remain in debt because now I have the vehicle necessary to go camping.  Also, did not get to spend more time outdoors. Spent a lot of time the end of the year working, and unfortunately all the days off I did get were usually bad weather days!

Others:

Whose behavior merited celebration? 
Amanda. She doesn’t see me watching, but she’s turning into an incredible young lady.

Whose behavior made you appalled, depressed, or sad?
All the folks that left dispatch (Vanna, Charitie, Jared, Jen, etc) made me very sad.

Did somebody treat you badly in 2015?
Not particularly. I think there were a few situations where Justin wasn’t treated like he expected, and that had a significant impact on me since we’re married – so, sort of, but only as a bystander.

Who were some new people you met?
Vanna, Ginger and Jono.

Favorites/Least Favorites:

What was your favorite month of 2015? 
Probably August.  We took the kids to the beach, Benjamin started school and Justin and I started our cruise (and finished it in September).

What was your favorite moment of the year?
Probably Benjamin starting school, when he looked at me and said he was good for us to leave him. So big!  I’d also have to list Eli finally saying “I love you” back to me!  Also, buying the truck with Justin!

What was your least favorite moment of the year? 
Taking Eli to the hospital because he was having difficulty breathing.  That was stressful and terrifying.

What was your favorite TV program? 
STARGATE! Who’d have thought?

What was the best book you read? 
Tough call. I read a BUNCH of books this year – it’s been really awesome having the kindle, I read so much more.  The most EDUCATIONAL book I read this year was “Parenting your powerful child” by Kevin Leman.  The most ENJOYABLE book I read was Ready Player One. And the book that was the most well written was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

What were your favorite films of this year? 
Big Hero Six (I know I technically saw it for the first time the year before, but I watched it a LOT this year) I also really enjoyed Age of Ultron and Inside Out….I really missed a lot of good movies this year though due to schedule, so hopefully  next year we can watch a few more.

What was your favorite video game you played this year?
Diablo III!

What was your favorite new technology/application?
My fitbit! I got it at Christmas – so not much time to use it – but it’s already been well appreciated!

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I really enjoy the following songs this year:
Maps – Maroon 5
Let her go – Passenger
Honey I’m Good – Andy Grammar
Counting Stars – OneRepublic
Shut up and Dance with me – Walk the Moon
Thinking out Loud – Ed Sheeran

What was the best thing you bought? 
THE TRUCK!

Self-reflection:

What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
I made some good strides in priority evaluation and I lost quite a bit of weight.  I also received an award at work for “Distinguished Leadership” which is an amazing honor that made me feel recognized in my efforts at improving relations between employee and employer.  I’m so blessed to work where I am, and this award means quite a bit to me.

What was your biggest failure? 
I just can’t eat healthy for nothin’! At least, not consistently.  I keep trying!

Did you suffer illness or injury? 
I got most of my PF under control but broke my ankle (well, hairline fracture, but it still hurt a lot!).  I also got sick ALL of November and half of December with Bronchitis and sinus infections that would NOT end.  Then I had tinitis (ringing in ears) until Christmas morning.  However, it did make me more greatly appreciate my health and I’m going to try really hard next year to spend more time appreciating my good health when it’s around.

Where did most of your money go?
Medical bills. We were crazy sick this year, especially the boys.  School starting and allergies did a number on our wallet!

What kept you sane?
The boys.

Who did you miss?
Friends. All of them.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
CAMPING!

Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner!
iii. richer or poorer? POORER! But – happier. I’m willing to make the trade off.

Did you fall in love in 2015? 
I usually say “over and over again” but I would have to say no – this year was one of the years where we worked hard to maintain – not in a bad way, just in a “we’re in this for the long haul and not every year is all roses” kind of year.

Did you lose anything important this year?
My church.  I’m still feeling the effects. I’m heartbroken and I believe this is the right decision for my family, but it’s not an easy one and I’m so very, very sad.

What was your proudest moment of 2015?
Benjamin’s first piano recital!!!

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2015?
Calling someone “Fellatio” over the radio

Gauge your:
(On a scale of: Very Good, Good, Fairly Good, Fairly Bad, Bad, Very Bad)
• Relational Health – Good
• Emotional Health – Good
• Physical Health – Fairly Good
• Social Health – Very Bad (My status did not change AT ALL in 2015, so I’m downgrading this and planning on working to address this next year!)
• Spiritual Health – Fairly bad
• Intellectual Health – Good
• Financial Health –  Fairly good

In the future:

How will you be spending Christmas? 
Already had it! We spent it at home, with the family, and it was awesome.  Aunt Lynn, James, Teresa and Amanda joined us and there was lots of presents and lots of fun.  We spent the day playing with the boys playing with all their new toys/games.  I got a new Fitbit Charge HR, which I’m looking forward to having!

How will you be spending New Years? 
Not sure – I work at 6am New Year’s day, so we will probably stay in with the family, maybe play some games, and enjoy time with them.

What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? 
Hmmmm.  I would like some more friendships.  I would like to have a church home – which I did have for most of 2015, but lost at the end.

What are your plans for 2016?
To spend more time outdoors, to get Eli introduced to the potty (not trained, persay, but at least on his way), to get Benjamin riding a bicycle with no training wheels, to log more time on my bicycle, to get my BMI to 27.4 (170 lbs, right in the middle of “overweight” instead of obese. I previously set a goal at the start of 2015 to be at 185 by the end of 2016, but since I made it to 208 by the end of this year I decided to go ahead and aim for lower for the end of next year…we will see!

Will you make any new years resolutions for 2016?
Maybe. I don’t know yet – I am seriously considering taking a year long social media break.

In Conclusion:

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015: 

You only have one life to live. This is it, folks, a few trips around the sun and then you’re dead. I believe this life is just a jumping off point for eternity, and I know not everyone believes that, but either way I believe and really learned this year that you have to make the most of it. Live hard, love harder, work hard, and push yourself. This is the only chance. You’re worth it to make the most of it.

So worry less about the bank account, but save as much as you can.

Try to be as healthy as you can, but enjoy a piece of cake now and again.

Set goals, push yourself, and strive for greatness.

I know that’s all really cliché advice but this year I really realized how true it is.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars, yeah we’ll be counting stars

Dear Benjamin,
Six days ago you turned three. My mind still can’t wrap around that entirely. Where did the last year go?!

Year two was definitely the year of the superhero. You have embraced a world where superheros exist and it is weaved into the fabric of your life.

You have learned so many things in this past year.

You have learned about cancer. You have learned about hospitals and beeping machines and how Nanny is sick and there’s nothing we can do to fix it but take her to the doctor and pray.

You have learned about death. Having to explain to you that Mimi (your Papa’s Mommy) had died was difficult for us. Making that decision on whether or not to take you to the viewing was a tough one to make. And now, just a few weeks later, you’re in the car traveling again to Senatobia for her husband’s funeral.

You have learned how to sing. It makes me so happy to hear you in the back seat of the car singing about how the Wonderpets are going to save the baby deer. “Wonderpets! Wonderpets! We’re on our way! To help the baby deer and save the day…” Even though I think that show is a bit obnoxious.

You’ve learned about counting. We’ve been teaching you about counting for ages, but you’ve finally learned how to *actually* count things. You can tell me how many fingers I’m holding up, and if I ask you to count how many of something there are (like, apples, or shoes on the floor) you can usually count each item and give me a relatively close number. Instead of just counting to 12 really fast, you’re taking the time to count now.

You’ve learned to say “I love you,” and “you’re pretty,” without prompting. Oh, my, how you melt my heart when you do.

You’re so young, and the world is still so full of magic. I hope we can keep that alive in you even in spite of tragedy, struggle and heartbreak.

You have a baby sibling on the way – you keep telling me you want two baby sisters. I keep telling you that you only get one, but I’m not sure you’re convinced. We had initially only planned on having you, and adopting another child, but the more we thought about it the more we thought you’d benefit from another sibling earlier in life. We’re still open to adoption or fostering, but we’ll see how this new baby fits into the family first. Girl or boy, I have high hopes that you will be a great older brother.

You have a lot of friends, you’re quite social. You call all small children “my kids!” If Aedan and Kaylee show up to play: “My kids are here!” If Dylan and Noah show up: “My kids!” When you leave church, “I had fun with my kids!”

For your third birthday I asked you what kind of party you wanted. You said, “I want a Batman party!” When I asked you a week later, “I *said* I wanted a Batman party!” So we had a batman party, and we invited Batman to come to the party. We spent WAY too much on a really good Batman costume rental, but considering the adults had as much fun as the kids did, I’m calling it a success. You were afraid of him at first, when he picked you up and tried to take you away from me you burst into tears and snuggled into my neck for safety. Once he introduced himself to you, though, you warmed up to him. It was amazing. He played with you and “your kids” in the backyard and through the house. I’ll probably never tell you that “Batman” was played by your Uncle Cory.

Oh, son. This was such a fun year. You’ve been a beast for quite a lot of it, I won’t lie. You’ve spent lots of time in the corner with your hands on the wall for various transgressions. But you’ve also spent a lot of time having FUN. Running, playing, swimming, jumping, and going on adventures. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us.

Love,
Mama

For those of you who don’t follow the news (and these days I don’t blame you) it has been a rough week for those involved in Public Safety. 

  • Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron from Austin Police Department. Shot and killed after responding to a drunk at Walmart. End of watch April 6, 2012.
  • Deputy Sheriff Ryan Tvelia from Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office. Motorcycle accident. End of watch April 10, 2012.
  • Deputy Sheriff Robert Paris from Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. Shot while serving an eviction. End of watch April 12, 2012.
  • Police Chief Michael Maloney from Greenland Police Department. Shot while serving a drug related search warrant. End of watch April 12, 2012.

I don’t have words to express the heartbreak I feel for the the people in these agencies.  For those in the public safety sector these names – whether or not we know them personally – represent brothers and sisters.  These are people united in a cause of justice and community service.  I have grieved a similar loss.

It’s easy to forget that cops are usually people just like you and I that want to go home to their family at the end of the shift.  They post pictures of their kids on Facebook.  They’re not always crooked or bad or focused on putting people in jail.  They like to go to concerts.  They want a safe place to live and raise their families, they want to see justice done, they want to help society catch bad guys.  They dress up for Halloween.  They like mexican food and sushi and drinking beer.  They love football.  Sometimes they drink.  They go to church.  They have husbands and wives and parents.

They serve, but they still cherish life.  And when someone takes that from them… it’s difficult.  I’m not a police officer, but I work side by side them every single day.  I go to church with them, I talk to their wives, I smile when their kids succeed.  I pray when they struggle.  They’re humans.  Now, granted, they’re humans who carry guns, but generally that’s only 40-50 hours a week.  The other 120ish hours they’re sons and daughters and mothers and fathers.  They’re friends.  They’re usually good people (I say usually: I know some cops are bad, but they’re few and far between and not the focus of this writing). 

Please, when you get the chance, when you see that patrol car flying code somewhere or driving behind you, please take a second to think about their job. The risk they take putting that vest on every day.  If you see a police officer eating lunch, don’t ask them about the parking ticket you got last week – just thank them for trying to protect you.  Nod and smile.  Don’t break the law.  Don’t shoot them and take their life. Is that so much to ask?

I wanted to write something about how this week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week – the week that dispatcher’s are recognized for their support of Police, Fire and Ems responders.  But I can’t because my heart is heavy and broken and I wish there was more I could do.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Yesterday we really wanted to go eat out with a friend (who we randomly ran into) for dinner but we couldn’t because we hadn’t budgeted for it.  I’m not going to lie, it sucked.  If not for the strength of my husband, I would have caved and put it on a credit card. 

So we didn’t eat out and the credit card was saved that expense.  We went home and ate hamburger helper. And today, when we got paid, I sat down to pay bills saw how much money I had for groceries the next two weeks… and I was thankful my husband talked me out of eating out yesterday. 

See, we are really trying to get our finances under control after all the health issues we had last year.  Rebuild our savings, pay off the credit card (whoops), etc.  It would be much easier if we didn’t have three weddings – two of which I’m an integral part of – and a new dog.  Trust me, I am not complaining, I’m blessed to be a part of this important day for two people I care deeply for.  And the new dog is adorable to watch.  I’m just saying, it’s hard to save money when you want to spend extra money on fun stuff.  Saving money is not fun.  But sparkly things (and things that go ruff! ruff!) are definitely fun.

Luckily, my husband is a strong man who stands by me as I pout about not eating out.  And pout about not buying cute shoes. And pout about not eating steak anymore.  In the long run, he makes my life much, much more rich!

I’m going to try to start a new tradition: Miscellaneous Monday. On any given Miscellaneous Monday I will share something (or two) I’ve found on the Internet that might pique your interest. Today we’ve got two things!

The first: The Simple Wife ( http://www.thesimplewife.typepad.com )

Let me tell you, don’t click this link without grabbing some tissues first. The Simple Wife is the blog of Joanne Heim, a woman living in Denver who recently suffered from a massive stroke. I don’t really have appropriate words to convey what has happened in this blog since her stroke on January 11th… you’ll have to read it for yourself. Suffice it to say that the love that is expressed on the pages of her blog have literally made me weep. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big crybaby anyways, and anyone who knows me very well knows that nothing makes me cry more than the triumph of the human spirit. Seeing people be strong in the face of adversity – in real life, not in the imaginary world of books and movies – has warmed my heart. Go, follow her husband as he provides updates and speaks lovingly about his 19 year companion. Cry. Pray for her and their family. Take a minute to thank God for your own family.

Also, they have a separate blog that isn’t updated as often that deals with their marriage, specifically dealing with a marriage in which the husband is bipolar (it’s linked on the main page). Can I just tell you how much I am loving reading these archives? Man. What an amazing couple.

Ok, that one’s done, now for the fun one.

Rosewell, Texas ( http://www.bigheadpress.com/roswell?page=1 )

A graphic story by L. Neil Smith and Rex F. May detailing a alternate universe where Davy Crockett survives the Alamo and Santa Anna dies, resulting in Texas being its own country. The story surrounds the UFO landings in Roswell and while it took a bit for me to get into it, I absolutely fell in love with it about a third of the way through it. It paints a picture of Texas that any libertarian would love to see, as unrealistic as it might be. And if you’re a fan of history you’ll love the characters the pop up randomly throughout the story – my favorite was Gene Roddenberry, but then, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Go, read, enjoy.

The hour is quiet. It’s just a hare past midnight on my Friday. Yes, I know it’s Sunday night (aka Monday morning) but today is the last day of my long work week. I love working Sundays because even though I’m at work, it’s still kind of a day of rest. Criminals don’t do a lot on Sundays – and if they do, they get caught pretty quickly, which is nice. The world is quiet in calm preparation for the week ahead.

At work I have a rotating schedule every two weeks. One week I work a WHOLE LOT Monday through Sunday (64 hours) and then the next week I work Wednesday and part of Thursday (16 hours) and am off the rest of the time. While this setup leads to one exhausted Jennettiee for the long week, it also leads to a very happy Jennettiee during the short week. I love having that many days off – days I can spend up and awake with Benjamin and we can make up for the lack of time together the previous week. Days I can have lunch with my friend Leslie and watch a movie with my husband. Ahh, sweet serenity.

So today is my Friday. I have lots of plans for next week! Starting at 9:30 tomorrow morning we go back out in search of a home to raise our family in. We’ve been searching since Octoberish, and haven’t found the perfect house yet. We found several that were perfect – but for whatever reason they weren’t perfect for us. And that’s OK. It’s easy to get frustrated or feel like we have to find something now now now ! But we’re in the luxurious position of not having a time table. Sure, we’d like to find a house before the interest rates climb into the sixes, but if that’s how long it takes then we’ll be OK with that. We’re more interested in finding a good home we can love and build and grow in. A home that preferably has room for us, Justin’s brother, his parents, the dogs, the pool table, and maybe a little nook for me to have some space to myself. Maybe.

I’m also planning on baking some bread! I’m a test baker for Peter Reinhart’s new cookbook – Gluten Free, Carb Free breads. I’ve received the first few recipes and I am SO excited! This is a huge deal to me for several reasons. One, I’m a HUUUGGEEE Peter Reinhart fan. Two, I haven’t been able to eat bread lately since I’m low-carbing my way to my target weight. Three, because I haven’t been eating bread, I haven’t been baking bread. I’ve missed it a lot… bread baking makes me incredibly happy, so I’m eager to get back into it. For those of you who care, he’s ataining GF/CF by utilizing many techniques that people have already used, almond flour, flaxseed, xantham gum, etc… he’s just (hopefully, probably) doing it better and more awesomely. One of the things I really respect about him is his passion for bread, and I can’t wait to see how that translates into these healthier breads. It’s a good week to be low-carbing it at my house!

Anyways. Also planning on going to the doctor. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I’ve essentially gotten to the point that I have to get something to fight the ridiculous infection in my head. I’m pretty sure it’s sinus related, but it’s been progressively getting worse and now my ears are starting to ache too. So, after much fighting it, to the doctor I go. I’m hoping they’ll be able to suggest a solution other than antibiotics, but I’m not very hopeful.

So there are some of my plans. Ahh, to have them written down! Speak of plans, I find it funny the way our minds work. Justin can’t stand plans. If he gets a day off work, he doesn’t want to make any plans. He wants no commitments, no schedules, nothing to stress him out. I’m the opposite. I want to maximize my time to relax, so I’ll plan my relaxation around the duties and must-dos. I like to have order. That drives him crazy sometimes, but luckily I don’t force my plans on him too often. I wonder, times like this, when I’m busy planning away, which side will Benjamin take to? Will he be like his Daddy, impulsive and carefree? Or will he be like his Mommy, obsessive and detail-oriented? Time will tell. In an ideal world, just like Justin and I balance each other out, Benjamin will be a good balance of the two of us.

Anyways. I keep reading all these amazing blogs from these people who make a living doing this. Can you imagine?! I think if I was going to do that I’d have to have more focus. And be a better writer. And blog more. And since I don’t see any of those things happening anytime soon, I guess I’m just going to have to be happy writing mediocre to a few readers, knowing that in the end, the blog is more for my sake than anyone elses.

Nyah!

I’m still not feeling the holiday spirit, so I started reading some random Christmas quotes in attempt to find my Christmas spirit. I learned in the process that my Christmas spirit is firmly entrenched in the past and not ready to come back to reality. You’ll have to forgive it. It’s had a rough few years. Despite feeling kind of grumpy about the end of the year I’m definitely enjoying this time with Benjamin. He doesn’t understand what’s going on, of course, but he likes the tree and the lights and the new fun toys. And since I’m not feeling up to telling you about how great the holidays are, I figured I could share some of the quotes about today that I liked. The cynical part of me doesn’t really agree with them, but I’m trying.

“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.”
Taylor Caldwell

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!”
Hamilton Wright Mabie

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”
Dale Evans Rogers

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year.”
Charles Dickens

“Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.”
Lucinda Franks

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some find morning and suddenly saying to myself: “Why, this is Christmas Day!”
David Grayson

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Last year I decided that from now on I will wear purple every day of October to honor my Mom, who was killed by my Dad in the most permanent kind of domestic violence.

It didn’t have to end that way.

But life is complicated and sometimes people don’t get the help they need. Sometimes it’s because they have their own demons they’re fighting, sometimes it’s because they don’t think they’re worth it, and sometimes it’s because they don’t realize how badly they need it.

People are broken.

It’s the way of life on earth. We live in a fallen, broken, sin-stained world.

But there is hope.

My faith has sustained me through many periods of grieving. God has been gracious and has helped me to love instead of hate. He has helped me to grieve for what I lost instead of get angry at what was stolen from me. I wouldn’t be the woman I am now without Him.

So in the month of October I will wear purple every day. I will wear it and think of my Mom, whose smile is fiercely missed. I will wear purple and I will think of the women and men who are in abusive relationships and for whatever reason see no escape. I will wear purple and I will pray for broken souls to find healing. I will wear purple and share my story. I will wear purple because some can’t.

I will wear purple so that the silent will have a voice.

On Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, the world lost one of it’s most amazing individuals. I was in California, I was sitting in Starbucks with my friend Cai and my sister Jean. I checked my phone and noticed a missed call and a missed text message from Sara, my boss. “Jennet, call me immediately.” I figured I was in trouble – that’s always my first assumption – so I was afraid to call but her message sounded important. She told me with a shaky voice that Reed (my favorite officer, but don’t tell the others) had been involved in an accident. It wasn’t good. He was in surgery. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of his smiling face, his laugh, his “hey sunshine” and his insistence that I wear my hair down because it was pretty. We couldn’t lose him. There was no way. He was such an integral part of my day to day activities at work. I remembered his attitude as he came on duty “twwweelllve seventy seven, teeeen forty-one” and my response, ‘twwwweellllve seventy seven, go ahead.” It always made me smile. We couldn’t lose him.

But we did.

After I talked to Sara I was pretty much sobbing in the middle of Starbucks. My sister and Cai looked at me, concerned, and I explained the situation. We prayed, and Cai gave me a beautiful necklace to “think of him, anytime you wear it, no matter what happens.” I put it on right there. It was pretty fitting – a silver mold of an acorn nut surrounding a solitary pearl. She didn’t realize then how much it fit, because Reed was always a bit of a nut – and the necklace looks like a bell… a bell that doesn’t ring.

I was shopping with my sister and I talked to several coworkers on the phone as we went through the store. We expressed concern. We talked about how amazing he was. And as we got to the car, I got a text message. He didn’t make it.

I looked at the words and I don’t think it was really real to me, even though I immediately burst into tears. My sister knew immediately what the message was and wrapped me in a hug and prayed quickly for God to comfort me, his family and his friends.

I still haven’t recovered.

I’ve lost officers before – when I worked at Harris County I lost one of my officers to suicide. He was off duty but it was still heartbreaking. I didn’t know him nearly as well as I knew Reed. He would brag on his wife and kids to us, he would cheer us up and bring us food when we were busy in dispatch and desperate for something other than microwave fare. He could cheer up a room no matter what was going on.

His funeral was a week ago. It was an all day event including a beautiful service, a harrowing graveside service and a wake the likes of which I’ve never seen. There was officer after officer from other agencies there to honor him; I never realized how much it meant until that day. Those officers did not know him; they knew of his sacrifice and that was enough. Sara did the last call on the radio and it was one of the most beautiful moments of the service to me (I’m sure it didn’t mean as much to some, but as a dispatcher it was incredibly meaningful and significant). When she said to show Leonard Reed 10-42 (off duty) I started sobbing. I’m crying now remembering. He’s only 10-41 (on duty) in heaven now.

When we were at his burial it was beautiful and holy and solemn but it was super hot and humid and I kept picturing him in my head going “Sunshine, I really appreciate all this, but y’all need to get into some air conditioning and DANCE!”

Reed was a dancer.  Pretty much any opportunity he had he would groove a little bit, give us a head bob or an arm wave. He was a free spirit who was passionate about everything he did. He once tried to help an old lady across a flooded roadway… he grabbed her hand, tried to walk with her…. slipped and caused them BOTH to tumble into the water, him on top of her! It was comedic genius, he couldn’t have planned it better. We teased him about that forever after it happened… every once in a while we’d ask him if he’d fallen on any old ladies lately. He would get that look on his face and go “Yoouuu!!!” and shake his fist at us like he was angry (but he wasn’t).

When my parents died he took me aside and told me about losing his mom, and told me how much it hurt and how eventually it does get better.

On the one year anniversary of my parent’s death he made a tacky joke (not remembering) about murder and I kept shaking my head at him.  “What??” he kept asking, and I kept shaking my head until I eventually dissolved in tears. I said “I’m sorry, that’s just not cool, it was a year ago today…” and just started sobbing. He ran around to where I was sitting and enveloped me in a hug and whispered he was sorry in my ear. He smiled at me. “You know I love you sunshine,” and I did.

He went out of his way to help people. I’ve seen a lot in my line of work and sometimes it’s easy to forget about the humanity of the people we deal with. He never did. He ALWAYS tried to help, even when it was a lost cause. He said all he could do was try to help, the rest was up to them and God.

I’m sure he’s up in heaven now catching up with his momma and all the others that went before him. I’m just so incredibly sad I don’t have him around anymore to smile at me and cheer up everyone he came in contact with. One of my other officers said it so well “I could absolutely hate you, but if Leonard was here with the two of us, everyone would be getting along” and that’s so true, you couldn’t hate him or hate anything when he was around.

I think the world would be a better place if we all tried to be a little more like him.

There’s been so much written about him and some amazing videos done about him (most of them posted to my facebook), but I just wanted to get some thoughts down about him. I’m absolutely serious when I say that more people should try to be like him. He had bad days, everyone does. But even still he always kept his smile around. He was a faithful friend. He was quick to help out a coworker. He was my friend, and I miss him terribly. I have faith he’s in a better place, but gosh I’m going to miss him.

Rest in peace, my friend.  Dance with Jesus.  I’ll see you in a while…