Losing a sister

It’s been hard to be a weekly or even monthly blogger lately. These last few months have been especially busy. Along with the craziness that December typically is, with planning and attending parties, cooking, visiting family, Christmas shopping, etc. the last thing that I was prepared for was the death of my step-sister, Lisa.
2014 year has been the year of deaths for our family. I had never in my life been to a funeral, and then I went to my first funeral in the spring in Va for my Grandfather, and then Dan’s grandmother Ming died, and we traveled to Colorado in the summer, and then I got some very sad news about my step-sister Lisa on December 10th, that she had passed away.

Lisa and I weren’t as close as we had been as kids, but it was a huge shock to hear of her passing. The toxicology results are still pending, and they have yet to determine the cause of death. What we do know is that she wasn’t feeling well, and that she had been on pain medicine from her back surgery in the past, and had continued to use it for pain relief. Her medication usage, along with some preexisting health conditions (infection in her foot, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea) and her general well being (her friend mentioned that she had recently had the flu) is the best guess we have for her cause of death. She was found unresponsive at a friends house in the morning.

It’s really heartbreaking. She was only 36 years old and had so much life to live. So much she wanted to do, dreams that went unfulfilled. That week between her death and the funeral was tough for me and I can only imagine how tough it was for her mother. It was a time of reflecting on the good times we had together as kids, the time we spent together as adults, and wondering if I made it clear enough how much I loved her and how much of a good person she was. I wanted to do something in her memory, so I decided to make Memory Boards in her honor to have at the funeral, and for her mother Rennie to keep.


I struggled with whether or not I was going to talk at the funeral. Those that know me well know that I am not very comfortable with public speaking. You know, some people have their gifts, and I just know public speaking isn’t one of mine. It’s just not my favorite thing to do. I much rather be where I am right now, typing my thoughts down on screen, so I can hit the backspace at will, and delete and restate the thought more clearly and concisely if I need to.

However, the craziest thing happened the morning of her funeral. I woke up, and I felt like God was giving me clarity on what to say. I told Dan and I quickly walked over to my writing desk, and wrote down exactly what I felt like the holy spirit was telling me to say. Nothing super-inspiring, just a few sentiments from the heart. More importantly, he gave me a peace about speaking in front of a group, and I was no longer nervous. The holy spirit gave me a calm reassurance and that peace carried me through to the podium.
This is what I wrote down and said:

When Rennie and my Dad married, Lisa and I became sisters.  I was a young girl at the time, and we were both excited to have this new found sisterhood.

She was so accepting of me, loving and caring. Coming from a single Dad and a brother (and somewhat of a Tomboy) she helped to turn me into a girl and showed me the world of hairspray and teased bangs- only things a good big sister would do.

She later moved on to live with her Dad but we never lost touch. We later reunited when I moved back to Atlanta and I eventually got married.  She was always very supportive. I recall on my wedding day,  her pointing to me and proudly saying with a smile ‘That’s my sister!’.

The busyness of life got to me several years later and after three kids the visits became less frequent. However, she loved being an Aunt, she loved our kids very much, and we loved seeing her, even though it wasn’t as frequent as we would’ve liked.

Lisa had quite a few challenges in her life between her health and her relationships, but she never lost hope.  It comforts me to know that she is now resting in the arms of Jesus. Free from pain, and feeling the most wonderful love of all, the everlasting love  of our heavenly father.

We all know how much Lisa loved Winne the pooh, so after looking through her pinterest boards, I found this quote that she pinned and I see it quite fitting.

‘If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart and I’ll stay there forever’7c280f6408ad3956851106431b302c30


What happened to Lisa is tragic. Death has a funny way of forcing you to think about life, how precious it really is, and it also forces you to stare at your faith right in it’s face. Do you believe in me? Do you trust in me? Do you have faith in life after death? It brings this questions that I would venture to say EVERY human asks, and it makes you face them. Ponder them. Mourn those facing the afterlife and wonder what it’s all about. Grasping at what it teaches us to be human and have the human experience.  It’s hard.

Those of you that reached out and called, and messaged, sent flowers, and gift cards for dinner. THANK YOU. It is a hard time in our household with lots and lots of sadness and reflection.  It is comforting when you are reminded of the goodness in life when you’re feeling loads of sadness.

Lisa Seymour Shrader, you will be missed. XO

Brain Dump

It’s been a while since I’ve done a good brain dump, to clear out all the thoughts that have been on my heart and mind to write about.  So, here it goes in no particular order.

  • We’ve begun  to get the ball rolling for Sienna’s nursery.  We haven’t done a lot since Mason is still occupying the room.  We’re not ready to make the transition for Mason to move in with Parker just yet, but we’ve begun ordering some things anyway.  We found a great deal on a rug on Overstock.com that we went ahead and snatched up.  I think it’s pretty cute. 
  • We also decided on “COLLECTION B” for baby Sienna’s quilt (from the choices in previous post.  I just thought “COLLECTION” A lacked the pizazz that I really wanted for her room, and was just playing it too safe.
  • We paid off our Lexus SUV this week! Sounds like something silly to be excited about, but I am really proud of us that we no longer have a car payments at all (we bought our honda accord outright).  We got the car when Parker was around 10 months old.  Look how cute he was then.  We bought the Lexus with a six year warranty, so now we have a little more security while we ride out the remainder of the car’s life.  I still really love this SUV, and it’s comfortable, and practical, with a little style and best of all… it’s PAID OFF! Woohoo!
  • It’s officially “summer break” and Parker is out of school. We’ve been staying busy with the two play groups that we frequent.  It’s been fun meeting new faces in a playgroup that Sarah started, and getting to know them and their cute little kiddos.  The boys have been having a blast too,  and have enjoyed the social time. Here’s us at the Spray ground at Riverside park this week.  I’m on the left in the white sun dress, looking like a giant per usual, sporting my chonky babe Mason on the hip and baby bump in the middle.  My boys are also on the far left in the bottom photos. I love all the cute babies!

  • Last Friday night I joined a few friends and had an awesome girls night.  No it wasn’t the typical “Let’s out and have dinner” kind of girl’s night (although I love those!).  It was a “Let’s drink a little too much and dance” kind of girls night.  Of course, with me being preggers, I couldn’t get my drink on (and who doesn’t love a volunteer DD?), but I definitely love to dance, and dancing is what I did.  Even with a little belly bump and it being the first year out of my twenties, I decided to give it a whirl.  I wanted to support my friend who recently decided to call off her wedding, and this happened to be the night that she was supposed to get married.  She had never been to a club before, so it was a fun experience for her.  The six of us had a blast, and none of us held back.  There was a stage at Opera night club in the center, and every one of us got up there in our high heels and wedges, and tore up the stage.  It was a great time with some great gals, no drama, nothing crazy, just some hot Mamas having fun and dancing the night away. 
  • I took Mason in for his 15 month Dr’s appointment today.  He is a beast! He’s 29lbs (only two pounds less than his older brother who is two and a half) which puts him in the 95th percentile.  I asked if I should be concerned with his growing stature, and she said absolutely not.  He’s also 95th for height too, so he’s proportional.  I feed him 3x a day with 2 snacks, he just LOVES to eat!  He’s not very picky, but can be weird about things you wouldn’t think, like hot dogs, and needs food before his milk (otherwise the sippy cup is thrown) and doesn’t love the consistency of rice.  Otherwise, he loves green beans and most veggies.  He also loves exercise and playtime and he’s not a fan of just being an observer in the stroller.  So, I think he’s in great health and gets plenty of nutritious foods and activity.  I’m thinking over the next six months he’ll start to lean out, but will also be big in stature like my side of the family.
  • I’ve started to hit the gym again.  Wohoo!  Since Mason is officially down to one nap, it’s easier to take both boys to the gym and have them enjoy play time without feeling overly tired.  Mason still isn’t in love with being left, but he’s been warming up to it! There are only a few tears when I drop him off, and he’s fine by the time I take Parker to the potty and leave for my work out.  Baby steps of progress!    It’s been somewhat of a challenge just getting used to Mason’s personality since he is so different from Parker.  He’s so sensitive to being left that it breaks my heart.  I’ve enjoyed doing 30 mins of cardio and some weight training.  Taking advantage of my energy in the second trimester before I get too big!
  • There was something else that really broke my heart this week.  I found out some horrible news Monday night.  There was a friend of mine that I worked with when I used to wait tables at Perkins named Arvin. He brought so much happiness to the workplace.  He was a cook behind the lines, but not only that, he was a source of happiness and laughter throughout our shift always bringing smiles to our face, and just a kind good-hearted person.  He was full of so much positivity and being around him just put you in a good mood.  I ran into him again on facebook a few years ago and we started following each other’s posts and status updates. I found out that he had a young son, and within the last year or so, had a daughter.  Recently, he was preparing for his upcoming nuptials to his fiance Paula and even had a Pinterest board that showed off some of his ideas for the wedding.  He was so excited about getting the napkins in that had their names on it.  One of his lasts FB posts was of him joking around about how broke he would be after the wedding, but that they would be having a blast enjoying their big day.  Their wedding with their kids and family alongside, was set for early August.  Sadly, that won’t be happening, because tragically, Arvin died June 4th from a car wreck.  As the news article states in the local paper, his body was recovered the next morning after his family had reported him missing (when he never came home from work).  He was in his vehicle which had veered into a nearby creek after over correcting (possibly to miss an animal in the road).  He was not the type to drink heavily, so they aren’t suspecting alcohol to be a factor in his death.  He landed in the creek, and wasn’t able to get out.   I’m someone who hasn’t encountered a lot of death in my life.  My dear Nanny (my Mom’s Mother) died of breast cancer in her 50s, but other than that, I’ve never had anyone close to me die.  This is somewhat of a new feeling.  It is just so tragic and my heart breaks for his family.  He was such a sweet person, and gave the best “bear hugs”.  He will be sorely missed!  It just reminds me to hug my boys and husband every day and tell them I love them, because you just never know what life will bring!
  • I’m so excited to be visiting my friend Catie who lives in Chicago in July.  I’ve been to many cities, but I’ve never been to Chicago, so I’m really looking forward to exploring the city with her.  I went to Interior Design school with Catie, and she was my partner in crime the whole way through until we graduated.  She was also in our wedding, and she’s a sweet and dear friend of mine that I don’t get to see enough of.  We’ll be staying at the Palmer House, which I’ve heard great things about, and we plan to visit all the local attractions including doing the architectural tour.  I’m so excited!
  • I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with the hubby celebrating Father’s Day.  He’s had a rough last week or so since his Crohn’s has been flaring up and giving him trouble again, but he’s always strong and pulls through.  He’s been traveling a lot and sacrificing a lot for the family, and I’m excited to celebrate him, and all the wonderful things he does for us each and every day.  I made him this mixbook for Father’s day (I gave it to him early) and he loved it! Father’s Day Mixbook