Monday, December 29, 2008

Yes...There Truly is a Happily Ever After

Not long ago, I was talking with one of my best friends and she said that sometimes she hates looking at people's blogs because it makes her depressed to see everybody else's "perfect life". Naturally, that is what we as human beings put forth for everyone to see - all the good. We wouldn't want anyone to know that we have problems or that our life is not perfect, that might make us look weak or unsuccessful. The more I thought about it, I realized this was true and that even I was guilty of "putting on a show". I made it my own personal goal to show our life as it is - the good and the bad.

When Sean died I understood the apprehension of showing the world our "not-so-happy" side. Not because I wanted to hide it, but because it hurt. It took me days to actually write about that experience, even though I had it swimming around in my head non stop. Putting those thoughts and feelings out there for everyone to see made me feel vulnerable, everyone would see that we are not always strong and confident, we have struggles that sometimes are so hard make us question our own faith and ability to continue on.

After sharing our experience about Sean I had a hard time continuing to share our life's journey. I couldn't bear the thought of looking at our blog and not seeing his face, like I shouldn't or maybe even couldn't continue. How wrong I was.

I am so fortunate to be blessed with a husband, who during his darkest hour, has the ability to help me recognize and understand all of the amazing miracles that have come from our hardships. He has taken the hard, bad things and has learned from them. Instead of dwelling on the pain, he has taken that energy and found ways to become a better person. He has taught me that life does go on, regardless of our circumstances and it is our responsibility to decide what we are going to do with the situations that are handed to us in this life. He has helped me understand that "Happily Ever After" is not determined by our circumstances, it is determined by our attitude and what we do as a result of our circumstances.

I want my children to look back on this and see that life is full of ups and downs and good or bad we keep on going and somehow we make it through. Most important, I want them to know that they have the ability to create their own "Happily Ever After".

A Tree to Remember

This year we didn't put up a Christmas tree because we were planning on spending Christmas and the New Year in El Paso, TX. We didn't want to take any chances with a dried out tree left in our house for over two weeks while we were gone! We did, however, decorate everything else in the house to help bring in the Christmas spirit!

As we were driving home from El Paso after Sean's funeral my sister, Julie, called me to see how we were doing. As we were talking I realized that Christmas was only a few days away and I started rambling on about how much I still needed to do to get ready. I remember crying to her that I felt so bad because my kids didn't even have a Christmas tree and I had no idea how I would find time and honestly, the motivation, to decorate a tree for them. Little did I know that my wonderful family had already taken this into consideration and I had nothing to worry about.

Two days earlier my youngest sister, Katie, realized I was going to run into this problem (in my opinion, I think she was inspired). She was determined that her nieces and nephews were going to have a tree for Christmas and she was going to make it happen. As a result, my parents, my sisters, their spouses and kids, my brother and his sweet girlfriend had family night at our house and decorated a tree for our family.

When I walked into the house late that Tuesday night all I could see was Mark standing in our kitchen, facing the family room with a look of awe on his face. At first I was worried about what could be wrong, but then I rounded the corner and was greeted by the warm glow of our Christmas tree, or as I like to call it, our Christmas miracle. I know it might seem a small act of kindness, but for our kids who came in screaming with excitement over something I could not provide them with, I like to call it a blessing.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for raising such amazing children who are always looking out for each other and who have been taught the true meaning of love. I know that it is through your example that small miracles like this happen in our family all the time. Thank you to my brother and sisters and their families for loving us so much and for doing all that you do! My family is truly blessed because of you.

I cannot even count the many blessings and acts of kindness shown to us during this difficult time in our life. Our shoveled walks and driveway, the breakfast and dinner left on our porch, the meals brought in, the phone calls of concern, the listening ear and many, many other responsibilities taken on by others to help make our load lighter. Mark and I would like to express our thanks to all of you, you know who you are and we are grateful for the angels that you have been in our life.

My heart is full of gratitude knowing that God lives and that he watches over us in our times of need. He provides miracles and blessings and most important he fills our hearts with love - not only to those who are in need, but to those who give of themselves and it is my hope and desire that you feel of God's love and ours.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In Loving Memory of Sean D. Taylor

On December 9, 2008, Mark's brother and best friend tragically passed away. There is no way to describe the heartache and devastation felt by this loss. Although we miss Sean dearly, we know that he is at peace and that brings us great comfort.

There are so many things that we are going to miss about Sean. His unconditional love, his friendship, his great sense of humor and his example. I think one of the things I will miss most is Mark and Sean's daily phone calls. Mark would always get this cute smile of complete happiness and excitement and greet Sean by saying, "Hey Paco!" I don't even know what "paco" means, knowing the two of them it could be some naughty word in Spanish! Regardless, that phrase will truly be missed in our household.

Sean has been a great influence in our life and in the lives of many others. While we were in El Paso we were able to meet many of his friends and employees who all had nothing but wonderful things to say about him. He was always willing to help any one of his friends in any way that he could whether it be giving advice, providing others with things they otherwise could not afford or just lending a listening ear. Sean always made it a point to end every conversation with, "Is there anything you need? Or is there anything I can do for you?" and was always sincere in his asking. He truly desired to do all he could for others. It is our desire take his example and carry on his legacy of being genuine and thoughtful of those around us and doing what we can for others.

We are so grateful for the many wonderful people Sean brought into our life. Leeza is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. She is strong, courageous, caring and full of unconditional love. I know that she is an angel, sent to be with Sean during his last days on this earth and I know that he loves her with all of his heart and is full of gratitude for the friend and companion she was to him. I also believe his son Christian, is an angel sent to Sean and Lisa. He may be a cute little baby, but his spirit is strong and comforting. I will always treasure the spirit that we felt just being with Leeza and Christian as we sat in Sean and Leeza's room talking about Sean and all of our great memories of him.

We are also happy to have all of Sean's friends surround us during this difficult time. He truly has amazing friends who are all just as caring and giving as he was. We cannot express the gratitude we feel towards those who came and supported us during those first difficult days and who continue to each day. We have made new friendships with so many people who we now consider our close friends, even though we have only known each other for a short time. We heard it said several times that Sean had many friends and they were all friends because of Sean. It's like he was the "hub" of all of the friendships and kept everyone connected together. In honor of Sean we would like to continue those friendships and are happy to be the "hub" that links everyone together!

We love you Sean and we miss you! You will always be in our hearts and in our thoughts! Thank you for being the wonderful person and friend we could always count on. During our hardest moments I like to think of the chorus to one of my favorite songs by Kenny Chesney. I hope that it can also bring comfort and peace to all those who are also mourning your loss - "...the only thing that gets me through is I know, I'll see you again someday."

Sean and Leeza

Mark and Christian

Bill, Sean and Mark - Austin, TX ~ Oct. 2008

Leeza, Sean, Jamie and Mark -Austin, TX ~ Oct. 2008

Mark and Sean - Lake Austin, Oct. 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Martina McBride Concert with the Girls!

Clear back in August when the sun was shining and the days and nights were warm my sisters, my mom, Katie's friend, Kristen, and I went to the Martina McBride concert! It was so fun! Probably one of the best nights - ever! I love Martina McBride, her songs have been so inspirational and uplifting to me throughout my life. I would have to say one of my favorite songs is "I Have Been Blessed" I call it "my song" because it describes my life perfectly, I even insisted that we have a hardwood floor in our house to go along with the song! Fortunately I have a wonderful husband who pretty much complies with whatever I want! I love you, honey!!!

The concert was absolutely amazing! Julie was able to get awesome tickets on the floor, only a few rows back. Katie and I wanted to get some pictures so we walked right up to the stage and no one stopped us so we stayed there. Soon everyone else joined us and we danced and sang all night long! It was so fun to be right up front and feel the energy and excitement of the band and the crowd. It was fun to actually have Martina see us and wave at us! Katie, Kristin and I were even on the big screen several times - call us vain, but it was fun to see ourselves on the huge t.v.!!!

I am so lucky to have such a close family! I love that we are all best friends and that we enjoy hanging out and doing things together! You guys are the best!

Martina McBride

Jamie, Kellie, Julie, Mom (Tracie)

Martina, again!

Katie, Jamie and Kristen

Katie, Julie, Tracie, Kellie, Jamie and Kristen

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Macie!!!

I can't believe Macie is already four years old! She had her first "friend" birthday party this year and it was fabulous! We went to Chick-fil-A, along with 8 of her friends and had a great time! She loved having her friends and cousins there, and all of the fun new presents were an added bonus! She was even more excited to give out the party favors we brought for all of her friends, I love that she is so giving! She and I were at the store on her birthday when she found the cute birthday hat she is wearing in her pictures. It looked so cute on her that I couldn't resist buying it and I'm glad I didn't because she wore it all day and looked absolutely adorable! Aunt Kellie made her a real homemade cake for her party! She was so happy and so was I! I hate making cakes, probably because I'm not very good at it! I usually go with store bought cakes or brownies, so when Kellie offered to make her a "real" birthday cake I was elated! Macie wanted a pink and blue purse cake and was very happy with the results! Watch out Kellie- I have 3 other kids who are now going to want "real" birthday cakes!
Mae also had a family birthday party that night at our house and was completely spoiled, as usual. We got her the Cupcake Maker she has wanted for about 2 months. She was so excited when she opened it that she started screaming! She also received tons of baking accessories from Grandma Tracie and Grandpa Ed, I think our kitchen is going to turn into "Macie's Bakery". Her many other gifts included Tinkerbell and Hannah Montanna products galore, barbies, magnet dolls, clothes, a little piano and of course, princess goodies!
It is so amazing to see her grow and watch her turn into such a beautiful little girl! She is not at all a baby anymore and I am just not ready to let her grow up yet! To me she will always be my sweet little baby
! I am so proud of her and love being her mommy!
Macie is full of life and energy and is ready explore this new world of being four! I know she will enjoy every moment to it's fullest! Happy Birthday my Little Princess!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Life Is Good!!!

Mark and I went to LasVegas the first weekend in November for a DRI convention. I know that sounds boring and quite frankly, it is! Who wants to go sit through legal mumbo jumbo when there is so much other fun stuff to do?! Really I'm not complaining, it's actually pretty awesome! Each year Mark's firm sends us to one of these conventions and we get to choose where we go. After going to places like Miami, San Diego, New York and resorts in Arizona (where I want to live-in the hot, hot sun!), I was quite disappointed when Mark forgot to book our trip and we ended up headed to Las Vegas. We can drive there any day!

As usual, when I have a pessimistic attitude, Mark proves me wrong! We had such a great time! We stayed at the Bellagio, which is absolutely amazing! The morning that we left, Salt Lake had it's first HUGE and unexpected (at least to us!) snow storm of the year. After sitting on the road for forty minutes in stand still traffic, getting the kids to my parents and the dog to the doggy sitter we missed our flight by ten minutes and had to buy new plane tickets! Needless to say, it was wonderful to walk into our executive tower suite that over looked the city from one side of the room and the pools from the other side. We even had a huge window with an awesome view over the jetted tub! Talk about relaxation!

Tim, another attorney at the firm, and his wife, Allison were there also. It was so fun to hang out with another couple and tour the city together! We had tons of fun shopping, eating out, sight seeing and yes, even a little gambling! Mark bet on the U football game and the Denver Broncos while we were there and I was totally stressed! Both teams played at the same time so we went to the ESPN Zone for dinner to watch both of the games, they were both losing for most of the night and finally in the fourth quarter they both came through for us and won. I think Mark will be betting on a lot more games in the future because for the first time I was actually into the game, yelling and everything! Football is much more interesting when money is at stake! We took $20 of our winnings and I learned to play 21, which I am not very good at - we played $2 tables and I lost, won and then lost all $20 within two hours! Allison, on the other hand, is a pro - she more than doubled her money! I am so happy to have made such great new friends! Thanks Tim and Allison for such a fun time!

We also went to dinner with one of my best friends ever! Danielle and I have been friends for over fourteen years and it was so great to spend time with her! She currently lives in Vegas and knows all of the "in" places to go! She even took us dancing at a club with a live band - way fun! We love you Danielle!

I think the best thing about this trip was that Mark and I were able to spend a lot of time together just talking about life and kids and all of that other stuff that we sometimes forget when we are trying to survive this crazy thing called raising a family. It was nice to refocus on all that we have and what a wonderful life it really is! Our children are amazing and Mark is absolutely incredible, he has to be, he has me for his wife! We truly have been so blessed with such an amazing family! I am so grateful to be surrounded by family and friends who are absolutely the best ever! I really have to say "Life Is Good!"

Our first day atBellagio

Tim, Allison, Mark and Jamie

Jamie and Danielle

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pumpkin Pictures!!!

This year we didn't have time to go to the pumkin patch for pictures and I was so stressed out! Difficult life, I know! I was so determined to get the pictures that the day after Halloween I insisted on dragging everyone to the pumkin patch for the yearly ritual, which I think was skipped last year - maybe that's why I was so stressed about it! Anyway, we went to the deserted patch and gathered up as many good pumpkins as possible and staged our own little photo shoot. It was quite stressful and I think everyone thought I was about to rip their heads off, which may explain all of the painful faces!!! We did discover that the pumkins are FREE after Halloween, which Maya and Macie took full advantage of!

Happy Halloween!!!

We had a great Halloween!!! The kids were off track so Matt and Jacks were able to play at the tree house with their friends and, of course, with their PS2. While the girls were at work with Mark I was able to spend the early afternoon visiting with our neighbors, the DeMie's - how relaxing! After Mark and the girls came home we went to a late lunch at one of our favorites - Red Robin! Yum!!! When it was time for trick or treating the boys informed us, in a round about way, that we are no longer "cool" and they insisted on heading out with their friends. Mark and I had a great time watching the girls run from house to house getting their treats. Macie was so funny, if someone gave her a candy she didn't like she would sit down then and there and take the candy out of her bag and give it to Maya - we wouldn't want it to contaminate the good candy! Maya tired out pretty quick, but Macie was not giving up so easy. She kept saying, "Next one!" then would run off without Maya, who was in her dress up shoes and simply could not run. She was a princess and everyone knows that princesses just do not run in their glass slippers! In the end though, the desire for more candy kept Maya going long after Macie had Daddy carry her home!

Two New Attorneys to Help Dad!!

Macie is always begging Mark to take her to work with him. On Halloween Mark was only working for half a day so he brought his two little attorney helpers. They were elated!!! They love going to his office and coloring with highlighters, which is something they can only use at Daddy's work. They also love being adored by Mark's secretaries and getting sodas out of the office fridge, for some reason they taste better! Mark is such a great Daddy!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I would definately say this is happily ever after!

Cabo San Lucas, August 2008

Yeah!!! We finally have a blog! Thank you Heather!!!

Today Heather Baldwin, my friend since 2nd grade, helped me set up my blog! I'm so excited to finally be "in" with everybody else! I'm so computer challenged that I thought this would never happen! Thanks Heather for being such an awesome friend! I can't wait to share my cute family and our happily ever after with all of our friends and family!