Little Whispers

I’m so grateful for little whispers from Heaven. The little messages from Mamie that let me know she’s still here. Still sees her Baylor. And that knows we talk about her, pray for her, think of her, and say her name every day.

From the moment Baylor was born, Mame would tell Baylor when you are a little bigger, you can walk down to my house and we’ll make biscuits with butter and grape jelly. We’ll put chocolate milk in tea cups and we’ll have a party. 

When I got Baylor’s snack schedule for January, I nearly fell over my own feet reading it. Today is Baylor’s snack day and her assigned snack was biscuits, butter, grape jelly and milk. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh, cry or both.

Thanks Mamers. We miss you and love you too.

Not One More

Listening to Richard Martinez speak after his son was killed in the Santa Barbara shootings gave me chills. And not the good kind. When he asked when does the madness end?? When do we decide that we don’t have to live this way?!  – the words echoed in my head.

Why do we think we need to live this way? Why does sending our kids to college, high school even preschool have to be tainted with the fear that someone may make a horrible decision and our kids would be sacrificed? And for what?

Now before you get up on the second amendment horse, you should know that we are gun owners. I grew up in a house with guns and I have shot guns of all kinds since I was a child. I was taught that they were not only dangerous, they are capable of complete destruction and that they should always be treated with caution and respect. Peter has been through the training to obtain a concealed weapon permit and is an avid hunter. So,we get it.

This is a call to a conversation from both sides to figure out what we can do to prevent further shootings. And honestly, not limiting ownership can’t be a solution. Some people should not have guns. Period. And just because people could steal guns is not a reason not to have some controls in place. You have to have a license to have a car. You have to have that car registered. Yes that car may be stolen, but if we didn’t have laws against stealing cars, how would we prosecute a thief? No action is not a solution. Something has to be done. We don’t have to live this way and more importantly, we shouldn’t live this way.

I signed a post card on asking our law makers to do something. Gabby Gifford’s Americans for Responsible Solutions is working to tighten criminal background checks and stop gun trafficking. We have to start somewhere. Our politicians need to know that Peter and I who are registered voters, gun owners and parents want change. We want a safer place for our kids and that they can’t let people like Joe the Plumber talking about how dead children don’t trump his right to own a gun scare them into not acting.

Do something. Say something. Not One More.

Fur Face

I think I can finally write this without tears streaming down my face…ok, without a lot of tears streaming down my face.

Two weeks ago we unexpectedly had to say good bye to Bear. Honestly it had been coming and we knew that, but no one was willing to make the decision so he made it for us. He had what we think was a stroke and the vet told us it was probably one of more to come and that he wouldn’t make it through the night.

It was so sudden and unexpected – Peter and I couldn’t look at each other without crying. Bear started out as my mom, sister and my dog 13 years ago. When PW and I got married and moved to DC, both Bear and Travis came with us and that was 7 years ago so Bear was as much his as mine. And in a lot of respects, he was Peter’s because Bear chose Peter – litereally. He should have been named Judus because as soon as we were marrried, it was like all the love, feeding and caring for him that I had done didn’t mater, now he had a man to hang out with.

After several long cries, the gallows humor started. Growing up in my house my mom taught us that it’s good to cry, but sometimes you need to laugh instead of cry because there just aren’t any tears left. Peter and I laughed through tears saying that Bear was probably in purgatory watching films of all the terrible things he had done throughout his life; stealing tissues out of the trash and shreading them, peeing on the rug repeatedly despite the open dog door, tearing into bags of trash and slinking away just as his brother Travis discovered the treasure and thus making it look like he did it, wagging his tail on approach to another dog and then trying to bite their ear off, stealing baby toys, willing Baylor to drop him food, snarling through baths, learning how to open the gate to our back yard and taking himself for a walk…the list goes on. We always said he was such a smart dog, he just chose to use his brain for evil rather than good.

But despite his flaws, he was a faithful friend who was always quick with an ear kiss, a crazy welcome,  a paw to shake (but only if you had a treat) a black nose to kiss and big brown eyes that let you know that there was a lot more going on in his furry head than he was willing to let you know.

Sweet Baylor crushed me that night by asking me through sobs where Bear’s bed in heaven was. She was incredibly upset about where he would sleep since his bed was still in our room. I let her know that he had a big, fluffy bed next to Travis and Mamie. She asked if his room was close to Jesus’s and when I said yes, she calmed down and drifted off to sleep.

I still catch myself saying good bye when we leave, throwing an ice cube on the floor for him, and calling for him when I drop a carrot on the floor. I miss him when the house is quiet and he would sit in the office with me and work. I miss the clip of his nails on the tile and the jingle of his collar. How he shnuffled and stretched each morning and “combed” his hair by rubbing his face repeatedly on the bed skirt. 

B and Bear didn’t agree on much – except treats, tents and tea parties

Always the perfect tea party guest

Cotton-y fur and snow never mixed…

Add “drinking from the ice bucket” to the list of things he’s watching in purgatory

Live it Up

I learned Saturday night about the tragic death of a sorority sister. Sarah was a year younger than me, and while we were merely acquaintances,  I don’t think I ever walked past her without seeing a smile on her face along with a sweet greeting.

The shock of thinking someone that is my age is gone was all consuming. Sarah was an incredibly sweet girl and to think of her not growing old like her friends makes me incredibly sad. I can’t even begin to go to the place Sarah’s parents must be emotionally –

I sat in the office getting a few things done on Sunday afternoon and started to get the anxious feeling that dealing with angry customers gives me. I was suddenly struck by the fact that what I was working on, while important and necessary, really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is to get the job done and get back to kissing my kiddo, hugging my friends, snuggling with PW, scratching Bear’s ears, feeling the baby squirm and not worrying about the things I can’t change. Living life is what is important and those are the things we will look back on and be happy about, not about how we handled calculating a deposit.

AOE Sarah ❤


Compartmentalizing is the name of the game today. It’s been a year since we lost Mame and I just can’t do it today. I can’t disolve into to tears. I can’t think about how much I miss her and all the other sad feelings that would overwhelm me if I let them. I had an ugly cry (a really ugly cry) on PW’s shoulder last night so that I could face today and the tasks at hand without puffy eyes (it’s not going to great so far). I just need to get through today in one, non tear streaked piece and can and will accept and feel whatever emotions come my way on another day. It’s just too much today.

I have a voice mail from last May on my phone from Mame and I can’t delete it. It’s so funny – it’s her telling me that she swears there is a bird in her yard and when he chirps, it sounds like he’s saying “Baylor! Baylor!”. She ends the call by noting that she has yet to take her pain meds so it is clearly real and not a hallucination. It makes me laugh and cry all at the same time.

So, no sad comments please. No long hugs or “how are you?” questions. Only jokes, snarky comments and funny stories today. I’m terrible at hiding my feelings so I need all the support I can get. We’ll deal with the sad stuff later, ok?


The other night while driving home from swim lessons, I noticed that the sky was particularly beautiful. There was a dusting of clouds that glowed with the soft warm colors of the setting sun. It was spectacular.

I pointed out the clouds to B and we sat silently admiring the beautiful site. A few seconds later, we had this conversation:

“I think that’s where Heaven is.”

“I think you’re right kiddo.”

“I think that’s where mine Mamie lives. Waaay up there. I wish she would come back and live in her house so I could go and play.”

Trying not to cry: “I wish she would too.”

In true toddler form with no hint of sadness, but rather hopefulness she said:   “I hope she has someone to play leggos with. Maybe great grandma. Or Jesus.”

I hate that she has had to learn about death and loss and heaven at such a young age. I hate that heaven has to be a part of our daily conversations. But I don’t want her to fear death or heaven, I want it to be an open, easy and welcome conversation for her. I want her to remember Mame and to know that it’s ok to miss her and that we can talk about her and remember all the good times and good things about her. I just have to learn to do it without having to choke back tears each time.

I Believe

I believe in miracles. I believe in signs. I believe in the warm and fuzzies and gut feelings. I believe that God gives us little whispers, hints and reminders that we are loved and that someone is listening.

This week Baylor moved up to the “big pool” at swim lessons. It was bitter-sweet for me because it meant that I no longer had to get into the super chlorinated pool only to get doused several unwanted times. But it also meant that I didn’t have to get into the pool with her for swim lessons anymore. After watching her lesson, I saw how great she did with her instructor because she was getting spread her wings and it was amazing to watch. I was so happy, so proud… and so comfortable in the cool air conditioned room.

I realized on the way home that our second call after Peter to tell him how great she did, would have been to Mame. Mamie always loved watching and hearing about Bay’s lessons. She bought her goggles, a kick board and her first swim suit – followed by many other swim suites. She was always so excited to hear how she did and loved watching her “kick, kick, kick and float, float, float”. When she was able to come to lessons, Baylor made a point to climb out, run to the sidelines and give Mamie a kiss. Even though it was not what she was supposed to be doing, even her teacher couldn’t get mad because it was so cute.  I was sure to note that night during prayers with Baylor, how proud Mamie would have been of her.

Saturday morning I was greeted by a sweet, smiling two-year old shouting “AWAKE!! MOMMY!! AWAKE!!”. I picked Bay up and took her to the changing table where she asked me for her “Mamie angel”.  I handed her the wooden figuring that Mame had given her on her first birthday. She kissed it, and then looked at me and said “I saw you”. I stopped mid diaper change. She said it again and this time smiled at me. Baylor has never said that before – she usually says “see you” or “momma, see”, never a full sentence and never in the past tense.

My only conclusion is that it was a little sign from Mame that she’s watching. That she sees how amazing Baylor is and that she’s proud. I tried hard to hold in tears and said a little prayer of thanks for knowing that she’s still here and that she still sees how much she is loved and missed.

How Fast Life Changes

Last Thursday, we were celebrating Baylor’s 2nd birthday. My sister Ali, Mame (Baylor’s Godmother and so much more), Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Beth were gathering at our house to celebrate.  It was a great night filled with presents, really ugly home-made cake pops and lots of love.

This Thursday we were attending Mame’s funeral.

The juxtaposition between the two weeks is horrific. I can’t get the fact that life has changed in such a short period of time. I am struggling to write this post, but I want to pay tribute to a wonderful woman.

Mame’s real name is Mary. She was our nanny since before I was born and quickly became part of our family. Ali couldn’t say Mary so she came up with some cross between Mommy and Mary and got Mame or Mamie. The name stuck. In fact I remember learning that Mame wasn’t her real name around age 6. I usually referred to her as my aunt because it was just easier to explain, but truthfully, there wasn’t a fitting description for her role. When Baylor was born, it was clear there was no better Godmother than Mame and she took her role very seriously. It was nice to finally have some sort of description that people would begin to understand.

Mame learned that the ovarian cancer she had battled seven years ago was back for another round last September. It came looking for a fight and it got one. She underwent some of the nastiest chemotherapy out there and still managed to go to work for a few hours each day and have Baylor over for “Camp Mamie” at least once a week. Even when we didn’t see each other, we talked daily. To say she was a fighter was an understatment.

Last week her pain became extremely elevated and the weekend after attending Baylor’s party, her body gave up to the cancer, medicine and pain. Truthfully, we knew things weren’t going to get better. But the shock of loosing her so quickly is crushing. The worst part is that Baylor is struggling with understanding where her friend, playmate and Godmother has gone. We have explained as best and as gently as we can, but it’s an ongoing process as an innocent little two-year-old’s mind and heart cannot fathom death and forever. It is a constant conversation as she asks if we can call Mamie or if Mamie is home. She is now answering her own question by getting very quiet and saying “Angel Mamie” which is quite literally killing me.

One of the bright spots in this week has been the enormous outpouring of support from family and friends. I have always known how amazing they all are, but it’s not until I’m falling apart do I really realize how blessed I am to have them. They have brought cookies, muffins and tequilla. Facebook messages, text messages, emails and cards. Offered to babysit, make arrangements, sort and pack up belongings and sit and listen. They planned a birthday dinner for me for this weekend because they knew I’m not my normal birthday-loving-self this year. To say that they are the best is not enough. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve them, but I know I need to keep it up.

I have also been reminded what an amazing man I married. You never quite know what the “for worse” part of your marriage vows are going to encompass, but this week would sure qualify. Peter has been the constant shoulder to cry on, dealt with my crabby attitude, my constant feeling of being overwhelmed, made dinner, worked from home, helped organize documents and been the soft spot to fall for both Baylor and I. When I told him what my mom was planning to put together for food for a reception, he insisted on handling the food himself. He made all the arrangements and brought Mame’s favorite mexican food for everyone to enjoy. He has done all of this with a smile and compassion far greater than anyone should have to have in this situation. I have always said if I could clone him, I would make millions. After this week, it would be billions.

So today we all pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and start to move forward. It hurts. It’s sad and it’s hard, but it’s necessary. The world is a little sadder and a little dimmer, but there are so many people who are better for just knowing Mame. We laughed tonight thinking about her sitting at a table surrounded by family and friends in Heaven, drinking Amaretto Sours, listening to Cheap Trick and enjoying every minute of it.

Ode to Mr.T

Last week, we said good bye to our dog Travis.  I think I’m finally able to write this without the words blurring from tears and hoping it makes me feel a little better.

We were lucky to have had Trav in our lives for twelve years. He has been there for so many life events for us – he licked high school and college graduation invitations. He chewed up a few wedding invitations. Drove across the country from Phoenix to Washington DC four times happily panting in the back seat of our car with his brother. He was totally terrified of Baylor when she was born, but knew she was his to protect so he always sat inbetween her and any visitor. And while he was always gentle and even a little skittish, he always was up for a good game of “pin the yard guy to the wall”.

Travis was a volunteer with Pets on Wheels and visited many infirmed and elderly always greeting them by sitting sweetly next to them or with gentle paws on the side of their bed. We called him the love sponge because it was impossible to pet him too long – he could have gone bald and would have been perfectly happy to stay there a little longer. We were warned by the breeder that he was “kinda bad” and he lived up to that now and then. He couldn’t leave a giant cube of Costco toilet paper sit idly on the floor – it had to be shreaded into a million pieces and some of it consumed. Upon discovery, he would only look at us with a happy face and wagging tail and an expression that said “isn’t this AWESOME?!”. It was always hard to get mad at that face.

Travis had kidney failure that started several months ago and it became noticeable that it was getting worse over the last few weeks. We knew it was time. Our house feels off balance without him stretched out on the bed, snuggled in the closet, barking at the window, sneaking goldfish crackers with Baylie or enjoying his rediculously tedious meal of kibble, beef broth and ground turkey “al fresco” on the patio. The thought that he’s not just around the corner is crushing.

Travis went by many names: Travis, Trav, Trav Trav, Travie, Trav-meister, Mr. T, Little Man Tate, Tatetells, Tate…he answered happily to all of them.

Some of my favorite pictures of our buddy.

Painting our house in DC

Always the guard dog

Always willing to wear the stupid antlers I had for Christmas

Always watching over his girl


Enjoying a Greenie in the sunshine