We grew up going to her house. It was this big, wonderful wonderland for us. It always had the same comforting Jeanie-smell: warmth and light and ease.
She remembered all the details of our lives and never let us get away without updating her on everything going on. She was quick to laugh and slow to judge. Visiting her was always fun and full of good food, walks on the beach, and movies curled up on the couch.
It was at her house that my parents, about to leave on a trip and leave us with Jeanie for the week, told me that my classmate’s mom who had had a seizure during a presentation to our class had died. And I cried and felt scared and lost, but thankful that I was at Jeanie’s house. Thankful that she was warm and loving and full of activities.
It was at her house that we had countless Christmases and Easters and Thanksgivings. We did white elephant gift exchanges and tamale dinners and overnights.
I always think of her as a bit no-nonsense. Which I love. Everyone needs that in their lives.
She was so much love and light. She was always our biggest cheerleader. She was like a grandma and an aunt and a sister and a friend. And losing her to cancer was so deeply devastating. To her husband and her daughters and grandchildren. To my mom and my dad and her other brothers and sisters. To all of us who knew and loved her so.
But we said goodbye to her in a church packed full with friends and family and no dry eyes. She will always live on in our hearts and minds and in heaven: that space all around us.
After months of renovation and unexpected time and money, we moved into our new little condo in mid-February. Before we moved in, it was a dark, VERY dirty, one bedroom place. But after 5 months of work, Brandon turned it into a light, clean, simple, two bedroom (with a teeny tiny office) home. He did most of the work himself, working in between showings and after the kids were asleep at night. It was a labor of love and we were so thrilled to finally walk through the door of that condo for good.
(Side note: renovations are totally not for me. Where Brandon saw potential and excitement, every time I walked into that condo before it was done, I could see nothing but destruction and mess. I had to stop going because it was so overwhelming to me. Brandon did not appreciate my attitude.)
We are finally mostly settled, with the final 10% left to do. Which, if we’re being realistic will probably never get done. I’m sorry storage closet, we had such big hopes for how organized you’d be.
Every day I wake up, make my coffee, open the blinds, and sit at the beautiful table Brandon built, and drink in deep breaths of thankfulness for the long journey that got us here.
Some before and after pictures:
Old house (trust me, there were layers of dirt and spiders that these pictures don’t show).
What boys room looked like:
2016 was a year of lead poisoning, moving, being unsettled, losing a lot of our stuff in flooding, and going to countless doctor appointments and blood draws. We lost Brandon’s grandmother and watched my dear aunt struggle with cancer. It was a year of turmoil personally and globally.
It was also the year that Jax turned 1 and Kelton turned 4. It was a year of reindeer cupcakes and Paw Patrol cakes. It was a year of welcoming two sweet baby nieces and spending a lot of time with family.
We started homeschooling. We went to Washington and Alabama and San Francisco. We had a lot of sleepless nights (but let’s be real, have we ever not??) and a lot of laughter and a lot of painting.
We said too many goodbyes in 2016 and early 2017. But we also had new beginnings: moving into our new home, taking a trip to Aruba for our 10 year anniversary and my dear college friend’s wedding. We laid on the beach and read books and went to the gym and slept. We recuperated from a hard 12 months. And I missed my boys like crazy. But I loved the time with Brandon and friends and Netflix.
Kelton is all about Legos and Paw Patrol and Jungle Book these days. He is always telling me to “keep an eye on Jax” and “watch out for the street!” and “don’t touch the bee!!!!” Super cautious and very careful about his younger brother, I appreciate his caretaking and caution, but am trying to encourage him to not be too afraid of this big world too. Yesterday he saw Brandon hiding from him around the corner and he yelled, “OH SNAP!” WHERE IN THE WORLD DID HE GET THAT? Never in my life have I uttered those words.
Jax is definitely almost two. He is feisty and sassy and repeats every word we say. He still likes to cuddle with his mama as much as possible and either wants to be held all the time or be running around with his brother. His favorite words are two, cheese, Elmo, mama, daddy, Da (for Kelton and Scarlet), and “whole bag” for pretty much any snack we give him. He is the most strong willed child. I struggle every day to know how to parent him well, and also how to not lose my cool with all the crying. But then he makes his scrunched up little smily face at me and all is forgiven.
And now? Well now I’ve decided to close this blog down. I haven’t had the time or creative energy to write like I used to and I feel like as the boys get older, I want to protect their privacy and the stories that are theirs to tell. It feels sad to say goodbye, but also like closing a good chapter. We’ll still be on Facebook and Instagram too much. Thank you for letting us in and letting me tell you all our stories, sad and funny and boring.
Here’s to a year of strong coffee, spring flowers, family celebrations, and remembering that we just keep on going, one step at a time.