Friday, 28 October 2011

I Remember - Je Me Souviens

In honour of Remembrance Day in a few weeks I want to share a story about my Grandpapa, a proud veteran of the second World War.

My Grandpapa was an incredible man. He was the life of any party and an incorrigible flirt. He was also well educated, fluently bilingual and well traveled. For us grandkids he had his own way of winning our hearts. We lived in the same city so he had time to etch out quiet traditions that were so small then but leave me with a deep sense of his unspoken love. Like most men of his generation he wasn't one for big emotional moments. My memories with him involve a very sweet nursery song that involved tickling, ringing the bell from one of his ships, Sunday trips to Swiss Chalet, and Cherry Blossom chocolates. For the record I hate the taste of cherries, but will never say no to a Cherry Blossom because that taste is a memory I refuse to shake. To me personally he gave a little silver anchor on a necklace that I still proudly wear it now.

I forget some times that my grandfather had a whole life before I came around. Sadly just as I was old enough to ask him about it dementia swept in and stole him from me. Excluding a few days of clarity over the drawn out years of his illness he didn't know me. In the early days of his dementia he mistook me for my mother, but near the end he often would confuse me for my Nonna who passed when I was 4 years old. I have no memory of what he sounded like when he spoke my name, though I vividly recall being called Gerine or Francine more than once. Even though he didn't know me I still joined my father visiting at the Veterans Hospital every few days. As the only living family member who lived nearby my Father visited him every day from the day he was admitted until the day he died. My Father was the most dutiful and caring son any parent could ask for, even or especially the days he was a stranger to his own Father.

As Grandpapa's memory regressed further back he finally reached a point that he was left terrorized by events of his days in the Navy from World War II. My Father informed me a few years ago that he used to field my Grandpapa's anguished calls in the middle of the night as he was clearly re-living a memory more persistent than his dementia. He would call my Father begging him to call the coast guard, firmly believing he was in a sinking ship and that his fellow sailors were drowning. He would say between uncharacteristic tears that he could hear the voices of dying men calling for help. Why would no one save them?

The details of this terrifying moment were all found in one particular story. In his early days as a sailor one of the ships he served on was torpedoed (this was actually one of two times his ship was sunk). Somehow, by chance or miracle, he landed on some floating debris. His body was utterly broken and he could not move let alone swim. As he lay there awaiting death, capture, or rescue, many if the men around him drowned. In particular an older man, the ship's cook, who had taken a liking to him and always gave my Grandpapa an extra apple on board, cried out for him by name, begging to be saved. Gradually his voice got quieter until it fell completely silent. My Grandpapa was fortunate enough to be rescued and even returned to service.

This tragic event haunted my Grandpapa. When all else was lost he remembered and relived it, drowning in his guilt and helplessness. My charming, confidant, flirtatious, cherry blossom loving Grandpapa carried that memory to his grave. It seems so unfair that he should lose so much of his memory but remain the prisoner to this moment of intense guilt. He sometimes would weep when he saw an apple, the unexpected reminder of the man he couldn't save.  He was one of many who returned home from the war physically whole but emotionally broken. A little piece of him died out on the water that night as he heard his friend's life fade along with his desperate cries for help. The rest of us gained peace, but those who returned home were left at war with their memories. Their joy to see their families was paired with unfathomable darkness from all the death they had witnessed and somehow managed to survive.

So this coming Rememberance Day I will proudly wear my poppy and participate in the ceremonies however I can. Our veterans will never forget what was lost, and neither should we.

For You, Grandpapa, I Remember. Pour Toi, Grandpapa, Je Me Souviens.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Join the Club

As I was walking to our Church for a young parents group today (after taking the bus with all four kids in tow!), I met 2 members of a not very common club. It's wasn't the Red Hat Ladies, or the Stonecutters, or even the Illuminati. As a member I can tell you we don't have a secret handshake nor do we whisper suspiciously in an ancient code while plotting world domination (not that I would lump the Red Hat Ladies in that category, you lively, lovely ladies! But then, again you never suspect the butterfly!). Members of our club are very noticeable up until we're in our 50s, but after that we look like any other person.

Our club doesn't have a fancy name (probably because we're too busy to think of one) but we are easily identified. We are the parents of many children. For whatever personal reason, at some point in our lives we decided it would be a good idea to have more than the average two kids. We joined the club when we had 3 and some of us kept going. The couple I met today were older than my parents, but once they had established that yes, all four children were mine, spoke to me at length about the huge blessing it was to have had their own five children in five years. The rare occasions on which all your kids are crying at once (which are nothing less than spirit crushing and usually result in Mommy bawling too) are more than made up for by the daily experience of having children who are never at a loss for a dance partner, someone to chase or giggle with, a confidante or, in other words, a best friend. If they're fighting with one sibling they can always play with another. While I do employ the electronic babysitter, I can trust that when I turn it off my kids will have some sort of wild, incomprehensible game going without any need of me in minutes. They feed off each other's imagination and energy. All of that is fabulous and the greatest gift I feel we've given our children. My Dad was an only child and he's told me more than once that the downside of that was that if something got broken his parents always knew whose fault it was. With 4 or more kids it would take the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes to figure out who unravelled all the toilet paper or got marker all over the table. I'm relatively certain that that's because they're all accomplices and instigators.

It only took a few moments of conversation with the older couple we met while out on our walk to know we shared a common experience that's becoming all too uncommon these days. So to those of you out there thinking about having more kids I invite you to join the club. We have plenty of kool aid on tap (unless my kids have figured out how to open the fridge door) and we always love company. Sometimes it's better to live an uncommon life when that means there's always someone clamboring to say I love you, give you a peanut butter kiss, then get back to whatever mischief his or her siblings are up to. I promise once you join our club you'll find a hundred reasons every day to be thankful for your membership.

Crazy, Loving, Beautiful Life

I'm currently applying for a position as a blogger with Today's Parent and as such I have written this post about what makes me unique as a Mom and as such as a blogger. In many ways I feel the same as every other Mom out there but I realize that being a SAHM to 4 kids ages 4 and under my experience is unique and hopefully engaging. I have included at the bottom of this page links to my 3 favourite blog posts.

I live in a crazy house. Every day is wild and fun and entertaining. I'm lucky enough to be the Mom of four beautiful children between the ages of four years and two months. Amongst my friends I am living a rare life. Some have as many kids or more, but they're all older. Others have kids the same age but have fewer kids right now or they're spaced further apart. We are asked so often how we do it that I sometimes wonder myself! When I sit and reflect I realize more than anything that the more kids we have, the less I care about looking like a perfect Mom. There are days when I am the image of domestic bliss. My floors are washed, I have three crockpots on the go and all the kids are experiencing the rare simultaneous nap. The more kids we have the rarer those days become. The crazy thing is that I'm more than fine with the deterioration of our home into the children's playhouse. When we get to pair the daily madness with the priviledge of parenting these four incredible children l am not so easily fazed by the cheerios that seem to multiply daily, piles of unfolded laundry, and whatever crusty stuff that is in my hair.

My kids act like every other kid, but with four of them under foot our house couldn't operate unless we let them entertain each other. Any given day they're dancing, singing and playing hilarious games of pretend play in every spare moment. Now, the other side of this is that in a flash things can turn ugly. There aren't enough corners in any room to put the big kids in time out some days. Someone's crying, or bleeding or just plain sulking. With anything you have to take the good with the bad. 

Even then the bad isn't really that bad. As soon as someone falls down another sibling runs to the rescue. I watch on with tears in my eyes as the big sister cradles her littlest brother to comfort him when he trips. Or the oldest brother sings a sweet cooing song for his baby sister when she's out of sorts. I am the fortunate witness of the kindness of my children, especially when they were the guilty party behind the tears of another. When they're not fighting over whose truck that is they sit together on the floor, leaning on each other and talking their crazy kid talk.

I am a blessed spectator to the family they have given me. Life is crazy here every day. There are many days I'm ready to throw in the towel, but in the end I can't help but see what a tremendous gift I'm given every day to be a part of all of this joyful wildness. My life is unusual by today's standards, but I don't mind being unusual if I get to be surrounded by these loving, crazy, perfect little children.

Confessions of a Not So Super Mom (Why I'm Okay I'm Not a Super Mom)

4 Under 4 (10 Signs You have 4 kids under 4)

Happy Birthday to Me (Seconds Chances and Thankfulness)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Thirteen years ago today I had a birthday like no other. I didn't have an incredible party or take a special trip. I was in an accident. I was crossing the street and a car struck me and then sent me flying 10 feet. All I really remember is that in the ambulance I overheard the paramedics whispering about how surprised they were that I was conscious and relatively uninjured. Besides a mild concussion, a broken tooth and road rash on my face I wasn't hurt at all. One of them said with a smile I was lucky to be alive. I was doing so well I was back to school the next school day. 

Ever since that day, which seems like a lifetime ago, I've struggled with the feeling I should make good of my second chance at life. For a long time I was planning on becoming a nun. When the time came to join a religious order I dove in head first. It was on my birthday six years ago that that plan went out the window. There I was, a nun in my habit sitting next to one of the monks in our order more than a little distracted. It was a few weeks later that he and I decided religious life wasn't for us. The next year we were married the same month of my twenty-fourth birthday. 

Here I am a mere five years later and it's my birthday. I just (finally!!!) put my 9 week old baby to bed after a long day of family fun. I did nothing except for spend time with my husband and our four hilarious, wild, adorable children. Just like every other day since we welcomed each of them into our family my day was full of laughter, tears, diapers, dancing, singing and fun.

As I reflect on the past thirteen years I can't help but think that I truly have made good of my second chance at life. I've surrendered myself completely to the life given to me. I may not always be the perfect woman, wife or mother, but I'm trying every day to be what I need to be in that moment with my whole heart and soul.

I had a million little reminders again today how lucky I am to be alive. How lucky I am to have this life. And how lucky I am to be reminded every year to be grateful for every second.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Yes, They're All Mine

Whenever I go out with the kids I pump myself up mentally for what I'm about to face. The words, the comments, and, for better or for worse, the judgements. It usually starts with a glance, then a double take, then an opening comment. Sometimes it's just "Woah". We get that a lot when my husband is with me too. We are clearly a family. A crazy, big, happy family! If we're not moving too quickly we get a follow up comment. First an amusing "Your hands are full!" which often has the corollary "They must be twins!" while pointing to either our oldest two or the boys. Now that we have our baby girl the next comment is inevitably "Oh! There's another one!". Apparently she wasn't visible from the snugli. All this is well and good, if not a little bit tedious.

Now when I'm out alone with the kids I get the same repetitive series of small talk. There is however another series of comments to follow. It's starts sigh "Are they all yours?" followed by "You must be busy!", and, my favourite, a variation of "Well, you must be happy to be done now!". I reply as patiently as I can but it's gotten to the point I'm thinking about making t-shirts, or buttons... Or a large flashing sign I can attach to our stroller. You know, some kind of subtle cues for strangers that would inform them immediately all the salient information they clearly require to satisy their curiosity about our circus show.

What do you think about these?

1. Yes, They're ALL Mine
2. I've Heard of Birth Control
3. I'm Not an Accident (but I may have just had one)
4. We're a Handful!
5. I'm with Mom
6. We're Not Twins
7. Less Small Talk, More Coffee

Any more ideas?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Not Too Occupied To Occupy

Believe it or not I still find time to watch the news. Or a least get the snippets from my twitter feed. The Occupy movement sweeping North America has me thinking. Firstly it has me thinking how unsurprised I am that more people on my feed were up in arms about their Blackberry service than the state of our country. But I digress. As I was pondering the state of our country, with its crumbling social services and an electorate that cannot be bothered to come out en masse to select its government, I stumbled across an article at Parent Central that surprised me. It spoke of a recent study from UBC that showed young families are struggling to do more with less money than their 1976 counterparts, even amongst 2 income families. Did you hear that, folks? As our housing market creeps up, as the price of commodities sky rocket, we're stuck with a minimum wage that is rising slower than I could waddle at 42 weeks pregnant.

Our government is standing by while we are drowning and the best life life preserver they can muster is a few more daycare spaces and an embarrassingly low maternity leave for those qualified. It's no wonder so many stay at home Moms are racking their brains for marketable talents, business ideas, or ways to monetize our blogs or become product testers. While a few are very successful, I'm sure there are many more skipping meals so they can afford a box of no name mac and cheese for their kids. We became stay at home Moms so we could raise our kids, not so that we could spend our days trembling with fear that our mortgage (if we're lucky, more like rent) cheque will bounce. Or staring down our budget trying to decide if we can put off paying our power bill one more week. Or standing in line for a payday loan just so that we can buy a carton of milk.

Our generation of parents is more aware than ever of the necessity of good nutrition from organic food sources instead of cheap processed foods, safely crafted toys, time reading and playing. We understand intellectually that our kids deserve from us every opportunity to succeed and be healthy. And yet many of us simply can't afford the best of everything. So we compromise. And compromise. And the kids lose. And we lose. And we sit up at night full of guilt and worry and fear.

How, then, can we be complacent? Why aren't we rising up demanding more? More free programming. Higher minimum wage. Lower food costs, especially for the healthier, local selections. We don't make the time to join movements like Occupy or Mom the Vote because we ourselves are occupied with the demands of our daily lives. We fight every day to survive our circumstances while giving our kids those advantages we can. That's important and needed. But we can't stop there. More of us need to speak up and join together to make our voices heard. I felt during the last election that maybe we could make a difference. The Mom the Vote movement caught the ear of our media and politicians. Why did it have to stop when the ballots were cast? I truly believe it didn't. Our activism can continue between diapers changes. A few of us could step up and make a movement for real change. If our voice is authentic and we can engage the parents just like us fighting every day to make ends meet, we could make some real change. Change that could make our lives better and give our families a chance to live in a country that seems them as an asset worth investing in and not just a prop for a photo shoot. So to all you Moms, Dads, guardians, grandparents and those who love the families struggling in your community, I say let's not be complacent. Let's not be too occupied to Occupy. Let's find our voice and let out a cry so great the powerful in our country hear us and heed us.

{Wordless Wednesday}

A chance to remember this moment that needs no words.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Two Kids Ago

In the spirit of nostalgia I was remembering how different things were when we only had two kids. That's literally half the kids we have now. We had really gotten settled into a rhythm and routine at this point. We were renting a fabulous 4 bedroom townhouse and had just upgraded to a mini-van. My husband had just gotten a hard earned pay raise and we finally had a kind of financial balance despite constantly rising gas prices. I was a Mom with 2 kids and a tidy little house. Both kids were reliably sleeping through the night and so were we. We both had energy to spare. For the few months before I became pregnant with baby I was Inspired to live another kind of motherhood than I do now. I'd get up and have my hot cup of coffee and hit the ground running. I think this lasted a ridiculously short time. Maybe 3 months. In those 3 months I:

1. Showered. Daily. And got dressed in more than pajamas.
2. Made 4 loaves of home-made bread twice a week and several batches of chocolate chip cookies.
3. Made yoghurt in my crockpot weekly.
4. Washed, folded and put away laundry. Sometimes I would hang it out on the clothesline.
5. Washed, dried and put away the dirty dishes. Daily.
6. Made 2 special home-cooked meals. Home-made baby food for the kids and something fancier for we adults.
7. Swept the floors. Vacuumed the furniture. Dusted. All daily. I'd wash all the floors on my hands and knees weekly.
8. I slept when I wanted. Or read a book. The kids lived by my schedule.

The other side of this litany of insanity is that we almost never went out. I also didn't spend as much time enjoying my kids. I ended up switching to formula because I couldn't keep breastfeeding and have a clean house. My oldest son's first year is a blur to me because I was too busy trying to be something akin to a Stepford wife to acknowledge all his needs and little milestones. I wish now that I had let the laundry wait and sat down to cuddle him when he was still able to sit still in my arms. When we had our third, our second son wasn't thriving on breastmilk and it wasn't caught until he was around 4 months old. After switching him to formula I ended up dedicating every free second to giving him as much fatty food as he could tolerate. I was so stressed I stopped all my extra baking, cooking, cleaning and self-pampering to be there for him. As stressful as it was at the time, once I dropped these (unquestionably excellent in principle) habits, I found myself with time to rediscover my older children. My priorities shifted dramatically. I didn't have to drive myself crazy with housework. It all needed to get done, but never at the sacrifice of the needs of the kids. When they're babies they need an extra hug more than they need a cookie. I'll take time later to build my legacy as an immaculate housekeeper. For now I'm happier building my legacy as the Mommy who thinks there's nothing in the world more important than kissing your boo boos, hearing your funny stories, dancing with you, and telling you "I love you" knowing those words feed your heart in ways unseen but lasting. So when people marvel at how we manage with 4 kids, I can't help but reflect that it's actually easier than when we had just two because along the way I've learned that another chance to enjoy a new baby while our house goes to pot again isn't a burden, it's a gift.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Confession of a not so Super Mom

I think all of us Moms have once looked at other Moms around us and thought how they seemed to have it all together. Then we look at ourselves and see nothing less than a mess. Maybe we haven't showered in days, there's oatmeal stuck in our hair, the kids are screaming and one of them has a distinct reek about them. SuperMom over there looks like she stepped out of a fashion magazine and her polite children are all beautifull dressed and clean. We can't help but feel so awful when we compare ourselves to these gorgeous put together Moms. They have it all figured out and we're still struggling to find a matching pair of socks for our kids.

The truth is, we can't be that SuperMom. But it's not because we aren't good enough to be a SuperMom. It's because SuperMoms don't actually exist. They may have it together in this moment, which is so wonderful, but chances are she's got the same pile of laundry and dishes at home that we do. SuperMom isn't telling you these details because either they're not important to her or she's, like us, embarrassed. When people ask US about motherhood chances are we'll say we love it. We might make a few jokes about sleep deprivation and untidiness, but few of us would tell someone that we have a more cheerios on our floor than in the box and that we've eaten take out more days this month than we can count.

We also need to remember that we can be guilty of coming across as a SuperMom to other folks too. When we have friends coming over, even if they're our dearest friends, we still do the flight of the bumblebees to get ready. Our livingrooms are immaculate, just don't look in the closet or under the couch. Not to mention the fact that the neglected pile of laundry on our couches migrate to behind closed doors. We also come across as the perfect hostesses because we already have snacks and drinks set out in our pristine livingroom. We wouldn't admit that that's because we don't want our guests in a fit of unexpected helpfulness to go in our kitchen and have to wade through the cloud of fruit flies hovering by the unruly stack of sticky dishes and sippy cups with congealed milk in the bottom. We Moms put on a good show when folks are watching but at least in the earliest years of our precious babies lives we've earned the right to let the house go to pot while we cuddle, kiss and snuggle our way through as many moments as we can before they're too busy to appreciate us. Our children crave our time when they're little and we have a duty to give it to them. We should at least catch up while they're napping, right? Wrong ladies. So wrong. Nap time is our time. We should use that time to sleep, read or do nothing. What about bed time you ask? Don't be ridiculous dear friends. That's when those of us with husbands should be spending time with them, reminding ourselves of why we wanted to make a family with them.

So next time you see a gorgeous put together Mom don't be jealous. Just be happy for her that she's having a good day. And who knows, tomorrow it could you that's inspiring awe and jealousy in friend and stranger alike. Just remember, no one has the right to make you feel lesser, not even yourself. Celebrate your victories but remember too we all share the same challenges of diapers, laundry, dishes, etc. What really makes you a SuperMom is being able to carve out a life with your kids. None of us is ever %100 perfect even with that, but the fact that we keep getting out of bed each day struggling to raise these precious gifts well means we are SuperMoms enough.

So quit worrying about looking perfect to world and go give your kids a big hug. That'll make you a SuperMom to your kids, which is all that really matters.

Friday, 14 October 2011

4 Under 4

For about three weeks after we had our 4th baby we were in the special parenting bracket of 4 kids under age 4. Just to be clear we are not one of those families blessed with multiples. We don't even have the fabled Irish Twins. Each of our babies came one at a time, no less than 15 months apart. I was reflecting as I ran another load of dirty cloth diapers that clustered families like ours have special challenges and gifts. So, in honour of the past 4 years of or being parents I give you this list:

Signs that You Have 4 Kids Under 4

1. You find yourself pregnant and one of your first discussions is whether your infant car seat can handle another baby before it expires.

2. You determine that after 3 excitable and bouncy kids, you need to retire your old crib.

3. You have one kid potty trained, one in progress, and two entirely in diapers.

4. You know how to take the cover off of your toddler car seats (yes, seatS. We have three!), wash and reassemble them with your eyes closed. You or your spouse has mastered the art of squeezing three full sized car seats in the back row of your van.

5. Speaking of vehicles, you've already long since upgraded to a mini-van and started researching the price of a Dodge Sprinter.

6. You cry when you get a dishwasher, but only for a second before you promptly fill it with sippy cups.

7. Not only do you have sippy cups in every shape and size, but the quantity of plastic dishes and utensils rivals your regular dishes.

8. Your bathroom has three toilets and only one of them flushes.

9. You didn't buy cloth diapers for the sake of the environment, but because it was financial common sense.

10. It's not unusual that you have three crockpots going at once (Yes we have three. Two are full-sized and one is small. We gave our second small one away)

For all the things that become common place, from spit up to minor illnesses to poop, there are some things that never get old. I still had tears in my eyes the first time our newest baby smiled at me. I'm also taking just as many pictures as I can each day and showing them off like there's never been a group of kids so darn cute. I'm tired of laundry, dishes and no sleep, but I will never get tired of being a Mommy. So bring on the adventure!

Friday, 7 October 2011


It's Thanksgiving weekend and as I watch my social media feeds I have the great honour of reading about what all my Canadian friends are thankful for. I read in all the posts many similar threads of gratitude for family, support and the unbelievable privilege of the every day blessings of the first world. Whenever I reflect on what I'm thankful for I can't help but remember the Gospel parable where a Pharisee, seeing the tax collector who was too ashamed to raise his eyes to heaven in his prayers, proclaimed he was thankful he was not like other men. Such a strangely isolating statement.

This thanksgiving as I read through my feeds I can't help but be thankful than I AM like other men and women. I am thankful for our similar blessings but also our similar struggles. I'm thankful I'm not the only one up all hours of the night with my new baby. I'm thankfully I'm not the only one with 4 kids. I'm thankful I'm not the only one with toddlers. I'm thankful I'm not the only one working hard on my marriage. I'm thankful I'm not the only one who is wrestling with finances. I'm thankful I'm not the only one who is lucky enough to have my friends to lean on and learn from. I'm thankful that I'm not the only one whose house is crazy and I'm thankful I'm not the only one who loves every second of it.

So let me join all of you by saying again how thankful I am that we're all in this together.

Run Down the Aisle

Today is our 5th wedding anniversary. 5 years ago today it was unseasonably warm and the sky was blue and clear. The leaves were a wash of yellows, reds and oranges. Just like the leaves were changing, so was my life. That day meant so much more than a pretty dress, nice music and a party. It was only one sweet day but it had the power to change everything. That day I knew I couldn't live for just myself anymore. As I walked up the aisle arm in arm with my husband to be I was reminded of a childhood game we all played at my elementary school. We used to play "wedding" (how we got the idea is beyond me). We'd pair off arbitrarily and walk down a winding strip of pavement and at the end say some surely hilarious vows and then we'd be "married". At least for the rest of recess. Being "married" back then meant ignoring each other completely after our "wedding". I couldn't help but reflect 5 years ago today how different a real marriage is. Besides the fact that I wasn't wearing overalls, hand-me-down pink California Raisin hightops and a jaunty blossom hat, I couldn't promptly ignore him or throw a rock at him if I got bored (which I haven't been for a moment sweetheart!). I was getting ready to dedicate the rest of my life to our marriage. A marriage of friends. A marriage of soulmates. I knew that from that moment on I would spend my life living for not just myself but for my husband too and any children we might be blessed with. After 23 years of only having to think of myself it was a strange feeling to know how everything was changing just like the leaves on the trees.

As we walked down the aisle I wasn't nervous or scared. I was giddy even. If I could have found an appropriately classy way to do it I would have run down the aisle and into the wide open arms of our future. In a way I feel like over the past five years we've done that together. Since our wedding day we've had 3 different cars, moved no less than six times (always while I was pregnant or had an infant in tow), and have had 4 beautiful babies. We've had our fair share of struggles to keep things afloat but I have always been confident knowing by God's grace I had my sweet husband by my side. We have been blessed with so many friends and our family always supporting us through our trials and victories. God's providence has taken on names in our 5 full years together.

We started out very much in love. We were dedicated to the idea of our future and how exciting it would be even though we had no idea what God had planned for us. We haven't always felt it, but my overwhelming feeling looking back has been that we've faced the first 5 years of our married life together with trust and joy. Every blessing deserved that joy and every challenge needed that trust. I pray that we can keep running towards our future with open arms with that same joy and trust. I wouldn't want to face that future with anyone else but my husband and this family we've been blessed with. So for today and every day I know that it's no longer "I do" but always "We do".

Thank you for joining me as we keep running down the aisle towards our future. I love you more than I thought possible. Always and forever!