“No way. Kindergarten already?”

That’s what I said to myself numerous times scrolling through Facebook seeing all of the cute smiles and big backpacks in the back to school photos this August. And then it hit me…

These sweet smiles are all of the same bundles of joy I saw announced while scrolling Facebook as a visitor at the hospital myself. 2017 was a lot of time spent keeping my dad company. The hardest year watching such happy moments for others while my world was crumbling as the months went on.

October 3rd… five years since my dad passed. My grief is in Kindergarten. This year feels like quite a milestone, just as that first year of school. When grief is brand new, it’s like a newborn baby. Keeping me up at night, I’m clueless on how I’m going to do this. Grumpy. Irritable. Lots of crying. But we slowly got here, to five years later.

My grief is now matured enough to know its triggers, but still needs a big hug and a juice box (iced coffee) on a tough day. Just like the sweet littles starting their elementary journey this year, my grief is still learning to tie its shoes, but is gaining its footing amongst the other responsibilities of life.

Five years seems to be hard in a whole new way because it feels like a long time. And that hurts to know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen and hugged my dad. It’s enough time for a child to be born and go to school. Enough time to enter a new decade. Enough time to lose others along the way since then.

But this is still the loss that’s shaped me. It’s the one that continues to teach me and that I will continue to grow with as a daughter, wife, friend, and mom. so while my grief may know its ABC’s and 123’s by now, it really is just getting started, knowing we’ll never fully graduate.

I miss you every single day, Dad. Go Braves ♥️

A Quarantine to Remember

A Quarantine to Remember

We got the voicemail. A positive covid case and we were told Charlie’s class was to quarantine to minimize any spread. Once I heard it, I did what any parent might do in 2021… panic. I thought of everything that had been scheduled that was now being tossed out the window (including my own appointments). I’d have to add calling and rescheduling those to my growing list of responsibilities. Not to mention, figuring out the balance of a lively, busy toddler and my workday. How was this going to work?

In my head, all I could see was a week of stress, tears, and frustration. Most likely there’d be some fights and time outs. The 3 of us would be dreading the next day before it even began.

But… my fears could not have been further from the truth. Because what really came out of our 10 days together was a gift. Everything being cancelled meant no plans. No plans meant playing together all day. And I was able to complete my work during the afternoon naps. We had no distractions and watched the sweetest little personality blossom as he showed us his interests and hobbies. We were there as little light bulbs came on when we worked on our colors, numbers, and letters. We watched movies and actually ate our meals together everyday as a family. It was magical and so, so fun. We laughed and laughed and then laughed some more at Charlie’s silly side. And then we ended the night with race cars, building Lego towers, and reading books.

In today’s world, very rarely does anyone have a reason to stop what they’re doing and just live without thinking about the to-do list. I started the week so anxious, but I ended the week so very grateful. I was afraid of letting anyone down by having to fully give my attention to the Mom Life. But our boy is changing and growing everyday and I’m so thankful I got a chance to take this front row seat and soak in his little voice and his giggles; even if it included singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider many, many times. On our last day, it hit me that Charlie had no idea we were even quarantining. To him, it was just a never-ending weekend of jammies, fun and family. And because of that, it was definitely a quarantine to remember ♥️

A Mother’s Love

A Mother’s Love

It’s been 77 days since we lost my Papa at 77 years young. I miss him so incredibly much, his calls, his laugh, his stories. But I do find peace knowing he’s finally with the love of his life again… my Mema. Papa loved this blog of mine and it is my goal to honor him today by sharing an excerpt of my words from his memorial service in March. I love you, Papa!

As a family in this last month, we’ve been looking at pictures of Papa growing up and there was one that you will see shortly that struck me differently than when I’d seen it before. It was my great grandmother, Ferne McNealy, holding a 5 week old Ken. When I saw it, I was instantly taken back to a discussion we just had at Thanksgiving where my Papa graciously told me that motherhood looked so natural on me, so easy with his great grandson, Charlie. Remembering those remarks, I felt an instant connection to this sweet photo of Papa and his mom because I too have held my 5 week old baby boy. I now know the pride and the love that shows on her face, but I also know all of the many questions going through her mind about this little one’s life:

“Who will you be?”

“Will you be kind?”

“Will you have friends?”

“Will you love your family?”

And I’m sure every mother here knows this one… “Am I doing it right?”

Well, Great Grandma Ferne, I’m standing up here today to answer the questions I know were in your head about your little Kenny Jay. You raised the man that became my grandpa, my Papa, one of the most special people in my life. He was a mentor and a coach to so many. He delivered the mail and learned the names of the families who lived on his route. He was a devoted husband, so in love with Marilyn. They celebrated 53 years of wedded bliss together. They had two children whom they love very much. They had family dinners at Frisch’s after games, they were at the ball fields… a lot, but what amazing memories they made. He took care of his kids, there were rules to follow, but they were always taken care of. And then his grandkids came, and as far as I can tell, the rules went out the window! There were bags of gifts at Christmas, there were the warmest hugs, and a happy birthday song every year via a phone call. We have laughed and laughed at every visit, there was always a good story or a new joke. And we’ve had great breakfasts and visits with his brothers, hearing the stories of their childhood. There’ve been so many trips to the Ohio State fair where I’d ride on his shoulders, but more recently that turned into speed walking to keep up with his scooter. And then he became “Great Papa” to our Charlie where he said, and I quote, “you know I love my granddaughters, but it is SO nice to buy trucks for somebody!” And then there was Valentine’s Day weekend 2021 filled with chocolate covered strawberries, Cheryl’s cookies, and visits with his favorite people. Since we live in Georgia, we received our last phone call full of laughs, talking golf, and wrapped it up with I love you’s and sending kisses through the phone. Papa spent what he didn’t know were his last days giving back and showing gratitude to those who have done so much for him, one last lesson for us all.

So, in summary to my great grandmother Ferne…

“Who did that baby turn out to be?” One of the best people on this earth

“Will he be kind?” A heart of gold

“Will he have friends?” I’m not sure he ever met a stranger“

Will he love his family?” SO, SO much

And lastly, we’re all here today as proof that you did it right.

Papa, we’re all drinking from our saucer, because thanks to you, our cup has overflowed. 🖤

The Bright Spots

The Bright Spots

Whew! What a year, am I right? I am all to familiar with the idea to wish a year away when it feels like so much went downhill so quickly. Between losses, grieving, illnesses, and multiple natural disasters, it felt like it was never ending. But what I’ve learned through my own trials in life is that’s when you grow the most. And hard times can push the positives to really shine. So while this year felt impossible to get through, we made it because of the bright spots. These are what I hope we keep around in 2021… 

  • First, selfishly, this introvert loves a limited crowd. I mean… less people? Yes please! But in all seriousness, some attractions are just nicer to enjoy at a leisurely pace (I’m looking at you, Atlanta Botanical Gardens) instead of shoulder to shoulder. I know, I know, this one is less likely to happen, but a girl can dream!
  • Celebrations! The seniors of 2020 didn’t go to prom, but I hope they felt the love of their communities. Pictures all over town, local Chick-Fil-As gave shout outs to their graduating employees on social media, principals delivered yard signs to their students, and families proudly made banners and cakes! Why can’t every graduate be celebrated this way from here on out? What an accomplishment! College seniors worked so hard! Let’s lift up the Class of ‘21 and beyond! Which leads to my next takeaway…
  • Less can be more. I wish I could have kept track of how many friends said their kids “had the best birthday ever!” this year. Why? Because of the attention and thought, not because of the size of the party. I’m even guilty of this. For months I had my son’s first birthday in my head. A big pool party, lots of friends and family. But that idea turned into a small cookout with immediate family, playing outside with Charlie, and a smash cake. We had the best time and he got so much love in return. Some bride’s transformed their weddings from grand affairs to a more intimate evening, which proved to be a symbol of a beautiful commitment for them.
  • Essentials. While your need for toilet paper grew, hopefully so did your appreciation for healthcare workers, school staff, grocery stores, and more. These things and these people make our current world go round! I certainly will not let them feel unappreciated going forward. If you’re reading this and have continued working face to face, you’ve kept us going. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Our communities need you and we couldn’t do it without you.
  • And finally, LOVE. The family time we’ve all been given. The opportunity to call grandparents and friends and really catch up has been a true gift. Ask anyone who’s lost someone, this is a time to cherish. And when schedules pick up, I hope we all remember to tell someone we love them. To hug BIG every time. And that love doesn’t end with others, but we need to extend that love to ourselves! Self care is so important to get through whatever phases come next, take time for you in whatever way you need!

Because of these key learnings, I’m proud of the growths I’ve made this year. I’m proud of what I’ve learned about myself as a person and as a mom. I mean… my son is a thriving 17 month old in a pandemic! Go us!

I made it and you made it, too! Ready or not, 2021… here we come! Cheers, everyone and Happy New Year!

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

A pandemic. How is one supposed to react in a global health crisis? I’ve watched the news and numbers rise, I’ve panicked, I’ve let anxiety creep in. With my hands chapped from obsessively washing, I’ve sheltered in place for WEEKS, not even leaving my neighborhood. Why had it been so hard to follow my past advice of FAITH OVER FEAR?? How could I get back to the trust that I had just six weeks prior?

When I have a question, it’s not long until life gives an answer. That answer came last weekend. I found myself on Saturday not feeling quite right. My Apple Watch proved something was off with a high heart rate. I also noticed a dull, constant pain in my side. After monitoring with some Tylenol, I knew what I had to do. I drove myself to the Emergency Room, abiding by the current rules of no visitors or extra support. By the end of the night I was diagnosed with an infection in my colon and mild sepsis, earning me a stay in the hospital overnight.

Sunday morning, I watched the sunrise through my hospital room window. I had been so careful to stay in place, to socially distance… but it didn’t matter. I was in our local hot spot. Every medical worker wore a mask the entire day, every tv station mentioned the virus, there was no escaping it. It was time to face it and I realize that it is what it is. I could have let myself cripple with fear and emotions in that moment. But watching the skies turn pink, I realized that there will always be tough times, that’s nothing new given what I’ve been through in past years. But just as before, it’s what we learn in those tough times that make it worth it. It’s the strength we gain and the knowledge given. Here’s what I’m taking with me going forward:

1. First, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! I’m so glad my Apple Watch was a tool to monitor what I felt was wrong. But I’m thankful that I’m in tune with how my body works. Are there things I want to change? Of course! But I still know the body I’m in. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s my responsibility. It’s mine.

2. Did that previous anxiety help anything? NOPE. Worrying did nothing. I still ended up sick and in the hospital. Sweet and simple: I can only do what I can do and I know God’s got the rest.

3. Even if you’re up against a challenge you have to face alone, your support system will get you through. I was loved from afar. Adam and Charlie made me a sign and came to “visit” outside of my hospital window. My mom and sister brought me clothes to the front desk and picked me up at discharge. Even though I had to be strong and do my part, they leaned in and gave a nudge to keep me going. I am, and always will be, so grateful for my tribe ♥️

4. Kindness goes a long way. For anyone. Anytime. The nurses simply appreciated my please and thank you’s. Colleagues around the country appreciate a check-in email. I’ve texted “have a great day” to each of my DoorDash delivery drivers. This can be stressful for all of us, so I’ve learned a smile or a small gesture goes such a long way. AND… it’s easy!

This week has been so refreshing post-hospital stay. I’ve relaxed, I’ve slept better, I play with Charlie. I handle all that I can and I don’t sweat the rest. And when we’re all on the other side of this virus, I’ll be thankful for my time in the hospital. I’ll be thankful for my lessons learned.

Thank you Wellstar Paulding Hospital


Benign. You don’t know how much you love the word benign until it’s given to you on your own piece of paper. I’m so thankful to have received that notice officially after a December thyroid nodule biopsy. But what got me to that Benign result?

It’s true that I’ve learned a lot through supporting my family through a series of hospital stays, traumas, and now my own experiences. But what surprised me is that through each of these instances, one word continued to surface repeatedly: ADVOCATE.

While the odds were in my favor, the nodule was stealing moments of joy with my new family. The “what if’s” camped out in my brain for weeks. I waited for a call to schedule a biopsy, assuming they were on top of things. Surely it’s important to me, so it’s important to them, right? Not quite… After I initiated a phone call, I realized I needed to become the squeaky wheel to get it done. I fought for peace of mind and I fought for this result. I advocated for me.

With large patient files and case loads, I’ve learned that it is up to YOU to fight for your care and to stay on top of it. Once I learned this, I realized how many in our society have no one in their corner. I challenge each of you to help a loved one in the same way.

Doctor wants a biopsy? Call until it’s scheduled. Something doesn’t make sense? Question it! Get your answers. Find a lump? Get the appointment, don’t wait. It’s worth it. You’re worth it.

Like a Mother

Like a Mother

To my baby boy as we transition from maternity leave to our new normal,

On December 8, 2018, that positive pregnancy test was the first time I was able to dream of our future together like a mother.

Nearly every day for 7 months, I conquered morning sickness like a mother.

You were growing and healthy, so I happily dealt with the usual aches, swelling, and carpel tunnel, even when it hurt like a mother.

July 24th came, I met you for the first time, and I knew unconditional love like a mother.

We were readmitted to the pediatrics unit for jaundice treatment and I cried all night wishing I could take it away for you, like a mother.

Every day of your life, I’ve tried to teach and to comfort like a mother.

No matter what comes on a daily basis, I try to greet it with gratitude and positivity like a mother.

And today, with the click of a button, maternity leave will be over. I will re-enter the working world a changed person knowing it’s what is best for my family, just like a mother.

While I adjust to my days not spent with you exclusively, I’ll tearfully sit at my desk in Atlanta and stare at your pictures, like a mother.

I’ll wonder what you’re doing. I’ll think of you every single second, but I’ll get the job done and get to you as fast as I can, like a mother.

And starting now, I will give my trust to others as we begin to build our village. A village where I know you’ll thrive, you’ll learn, and you’ll grow. And in this village, I have just one wish when I can’t be there… that they love you like your mother.

I’ve got this. We’ve got this ♥️ I love you



Today my Dad would be 60 years old. He actually was looking forward to 60. It would be Vegas: Round 2. And this time my sister and I would’ve been old enough to join in. But, instead,  this is our third November 6th without him and the heaviness on this day will probably always be there. Each year, this day has had its challenges. But 2019 is the hardest for a new reason – my son, Charlie. 
He wore a flannel button-up shirt today in the same plaid that my dad had. The sleeves were rolled up and his shoes were canvas slip ons. It was a mini replica of the regular weekend ensemble for Scott Frost. I took cute pictures, I beamed with pride. But Charlie won’t get it. Not   just because he’s 3 months old, but because he never saw that Saturday outfit in person. He doesn’t get to know first-hand why his grandpa is so funny. We’ll try and tell the same jokes, but we won’t do them justice. He doesn’t know the plans Dad made for the two of them before Charlie was even a thought. I’ll try to take him to as many stadiums and National parks as I can, but the original vacation planner won’t be there to take the credit for his itinerary. It will be up to me and my family to teach Charlie about his grandpa. It will be up to us to share the many life lessons that Dad taught us: 

Never open a new ketchup before the old one has been used. 

Always finish what you started.

If a team is counting on you, see it through.

If there’s cake, then you should go.

Dad, I promise it won’t be perfect, It won’t be as good as if you were here to teach him yourself, but I’m still going to try. 

So, while ten years ago we thought we’d all be in Vegas celebrating another decade of Dad, this year we found ourselves in a corner booth of our local Carrabba’s. We toasted him with waters as they packed up our food very quickly because our baby was out past his bedtime and was making it known. It wasn’t perfect, but we tried. And we always will. 
Happy 60th Birthday, Dad – We miss you everyday.
Even If

Even If

37 weeks. That’s what I had originally titled and drafted for this post. I knew that the weeks in my pregnancy were dwindling and I wanted to summarize all I had learned in weeks 8-36. But now? Now it’s ALL about week 37 and what it taught me.

I actually had a scheduled c-section for week 38, on July 31st. So I was ready to savor week 37 and all it had to offer. The last 7 days with my son on the inside. I will 100% tell anyone that I am one of those women who LOVED pregnancy. Did I throw up a lot? Oh Yes. Was it challenging juggling all of the appointments and numbers? Sure. But it amazed me everyday that I was growing a little human. Not just growing him, but doing it better than even I thought I could. Every week we got another thumbs up because of the effort I was putting in. I felt like superwoman and I knew I had 7 more days of those kicks, the belly movements, elevating the feet and finishing the nursery. But there was another plan at hand.

On Wednesday, July 24th, I had a routine check-up. I was tired, so I let myself sleep in. I threw on some comfy clothes, no makeup, no washing of my hair, and went on my way. During my drive, I decided to skip around some radio stations and landed on our local Christian channel. I was so happy to hear the beginning of “Even If” by MercyMe. That song got me through a lot of bad days after losing my dad and it felt like a bit of a hug from him. That song always reminded me that even if my best scenario isn’t God’s plan, it’s still going to be ok and I still have faith and trust. I remember listening to the whole song and really enjoying it since it had been a year or so since I’d heard it on the radio.

I arrived to my appointment and we did our usual ultrasound. The nurse and I laughed at the amount of hair my baby had. She took a picture for me to show the family. Fluids looked great and my little guy was moving and grooving. But then she took my blood pressure and said we’d have the doctor check it out because it was quite elevated. I was shocked, I had never had BP numbers that high. Without another check, doc decided to call my OB to discuss and let me know that he thinks week 37 would be it for me. Naively, I thought they’d just reschedule my c-section for the end of the week instead. He came back and said “well, she agrees… you’re going to head to labor and delivery.”


I said something along the lines of “oh wait… like today?” He found that pretty funny and responded:

Oh, you’re 100% having a baby TODAY.

I was stunned. I didn’t have my hospital bag, my husband was 90 minutes away, and I’m alone. My heart started racing. He reminded me that it was going to be ok. This healthy baby is what I worked so hard for and we were going to keep him that way. We hugged and I left the office in a fog of disbelief.

I started to make calls to Adam and my mom, but looked down and realized my phone was calling my Dad’s cell. I paused, quickly hung up, and I walked the 100 yards to L&D to check myself in while trying to remember to breathe. This was not exactly how I pictured myself starting the whole process of meeting my baby. I waited for a nurse to come and get me, was taken to my room, and from there I changed into the very fashionable hospital gown and socks. I had a few moments to myself, realizing that all of the plans I had for this week were quickly being thrown out the window as each wire was connected and IV was being set up. I mentally said goodbye to the thought of the 31st as my son’s birthday. To me, it was perfect because It was 13 backwards, dad’s favorite number. I said goodbye to the idea of driving to the hospital with my husband and holding hands for the last time as a family of two. The only certainty I had was that I was about to meet my son… today. And that was scary.

That’s when it hit me… the song from that morning:

But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

Sure, I could believe my own plan was ideal for when this baby should come, but it wasn’t. My obsession with what I thought should happen was replaced with faith and excitement for what WAS happening.

Family members arrived, Adam just barely made it (phew!), changed into scrubs and I walked into the OR. We met our sweetest gift, our baby boy, at 2:05PM on July 24th, 2019. After time in recovery, they wheeled us up to our room… P413. There was my 13! ♥️

I knew in that moment that my dad was with us and he knew all along that this would be happening. From making sure I heard the song that morning, calling his phone, and to our room we’d call home for 4 days. He was there and wanted me to know it was all ok, even if it didn’t go according to my plan. And he was happy his grandson was now in my arms!

4 weeks later, I still look at this sweet face we created and can’t believe he’s here and he’s mine. His smirk reminds me of Dad’s at least 50 times a day and I can’t imagine him coming a day later than July 24th.

This new chapter is so great and is teaching me so much daily. The biggest lesson? That Even If it’s taken me at least 2.5 weeks to write this post (#MomLife), Even If some days feel long and I’m frustrated that I felt clueless, I’m so grateful for them. I prayed for them, that prayer is here and answered, and I will cherish every second and give thanks for them…

Starting with this next nap (I hope). 🙂

The Gift

The Gift

Well…it’s certainly been a few months since I’ve written. I just re-read my last post and am still in awe of how good God is. The last few months have held some of the highest highs of my life, but not without doubt or some hardships. Writing my last post on choosing Faith over Fear was all I needed to jumpstart the journey we’re currently on. It was the last piece of the puzzle God was putting together. I just didn’t know it then…

If you recall, my last post discussed a dr’s appointment. On November 12th, Adam and I visited a fertility practice to look into our future of having kids. Things hadn’t been happening on our own and we just wanted to make sure all was good. I was nervous, but the doctor was very sweet and said, with his help, we should have no issue getting pregnant in 2019. we made a game plan for testing, but that wasn’t God’s game plan…

Let’s rewind just a minute and visit an important piece to this story that I’ve yet to write about. Since losing my dad, my family and I have met with a medium a couple of times. Whether you believe or not, it does bring a sense of comfort that none of us can explain. It just helps bring Heaven a little closer. And, in our experience, there’s so much accuracy that it can be a little eery. Throughout 2018, Adam and I were flustered with ovulation tests and charting and it seemed that kids weren’t going to happen for us easily. I had thought about other possibilities and giving up. In our June session, my dad could tell it was bothering me. He communicated to me to calm down, take it easy, eat more vegetables, and gather information. He always believed in having all the details to make a good plan. He reminded not to put the cart before the horse, that there was no reason to give up yet. But, he said, it’ll happen for you and perhaps in the next 6 months. And when it does happen, I was to know that he and God had a hand in picking the perfect baby. Looking back, Dad knew in that moment that I had more grief work to do. My body wasn’t at all relaxed, I was angry and heartbroken. Not a healthy habitat for a little one. Fast forward 5 months to that last November blog post… I was finishing grief share, we found a church, and I had really done the emotional work. I was on the way to healing. I knew I was ready to gather more information. Horse, then cart. Faith over Fear.

So we had our appointment and I felt good, at ease. What will be, will simply be. I’m not in control. So, Thanksgiving came and went, Christmas shopping began, and the company Christmas party had arrived. But something else hadn’t come yet (are you with me? 😉). I was looking forward to a fun night with coworkers and margaritas, but something in me said “let’s double check that this isn’t a fluke.”

And on December 8th, 2018…

Our lives changed! I was shocked, elated, in disbelief, crying. I didn’t know if I’d ever see the day this could really happen for me. I immediately thought of Dad. I took this test 3 days shy of the 6 month period he had hinted at. There is no doubt in my mind that this is my gift. My Christmas gift, my gift for doing the hard work, a gift to lift some sadness. A piece of him handpicked for me, a recipe of putting Faith over Fear.

After a blood test confirmation, we got to surprise our families for Christmas. Neither of them were expecting this little miracle, knowing the journey we had been on. It was emotional, but so exciting!

On January 3rd, we saw our baby for the first time…

And ever since then, we just keep reminding ourselves of Faith over Fear. We saw baby C again on Adam’s birthday, growing so much already. (Have you ever seen a cuter nose??)

And just this past weekend, we found out our little bambino is a BOY! 💙 We are thrilled and can’t wait to meet him in August.

Please know I don’t tell this story to gloat. I know all too well the pain of watching friends start families so easily. Wondering when will it be my turn. Will it ever be my turn? I needed to write this because I never want to forget. I want to always remain grateful. So, so grateful. With every bout of morning sickness, I give thanks. No matter what hurdle comes, I put my hand on my stomach and thank God. And if any reader of this is looking for a glimmer of hope, I hope that this is your sign. Horse, then cart. Faith over Fear. God’s got this. God’s got YOU and your puzzle is coming together.

Thank you for the reminder, Dad ♥️