We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Three Years

Three years ago today I took the last pictures of sissy and me together. She was laying on the couch, so sick and hurting so badly from the cancer. She knew it was her last Christmas and as much as I tried to keep that thought at bay I knew it was too. I kept taking picture after picture of us together, trying to get one where our eyes weren't so sad. I finally gave up after about five or six.

It has been about 2 years and 11 months since I looked at those last photos.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Dinner Menu

You know how our family doesn't really plan things? Or if we do plan things we undo our plans just as quickly as we planned them. Thanksgiving was always a prime example of how we "plan". We could never decide what we were going to do for Thanksgiving until usually a day or two beforehand. There was one year where we had everything for dinner but planned on going out to eat. That morning we decided to make dinner but we were missing a few key ingredients, you know because we weren't sure we were going to make dinner. Norm managed to find rolls, cranberry sauce and at least one other thing at Rite Aid.

Since sissy died we've been able to plan Thanksgiving but not Christmas.

Thursday night found mom and me at the grocery store to get the stuff for Christmas dinner.

With no menu.

"Mom, we need to know what we're having to buy what we need" I said to her in the middle of the produce aisle. There were people rushing around us, lists all made, menus all planned.

"What should we make?" Beya asked.

"I don't know. What should we make?" I echo'd.

"I don't know."

Do you see a running theme here?

Right there, clogging up the produce aisle, Beya and I made our Christmas dinner menu.

2012 Christmas Dinner Menu

Beef roast
Roasted carrots
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Jen's moms green bean casserole

There we have it. Big, big thank you to Jen's mom for making such an amazing green bean casserole recipe that we kind of planned our meal around it. We will be thinking of all of you while we stuff our faces with it and how amazing Aviana is and bossing around her elves! The things that little girl can inspire is beyond all imagination! And props to her mom who does and lives through what no mother should. The Hodder family is truly incredible!!!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Season

The holidays are hard. There are no two ways around it, they are hard. Every time we do anything even remotely holiday related I'm reminded of how it was when sissy was here. And that she is no longer here. 

That said, my situation can't come close to the families of the Sandy Hook horror.

I am so grateful that I have the remaining members of my family. That they are ok. That we all have our health. I cannot begin to imagine what the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, nieces, nephews, cousins and other family members are having to endure not just now, what was supposed to be the happiest holiday for their children, but for the rest of their lives. And not just the ones who were killed but those children who saw what happened and escaped or heard what was happening.

That is completely unimaginable to me.

So while I have a hard time with holidays I am also thankful for the multitude of things I DO have.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Me - Ugh, this commercial is driving me crazy!

Mom (without missing a beat) - I thought you already were.

I love my mom :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Feliz Navidad Fotografias

I recently did my MexiGhetto Christmas photo shoot with the kids. I took 84 pictures and these are some of the highlights. I actually like most of the outtakes because they showcase Asa and Valentina's personalities. 

I think this one is great.

Unintentional jazz hands.

Asa has ALWAYS had a tendency to choke Valentina in photos. He doesn't do it tight, he just loves her so much that he tends to grab her around her neck to pull her close to him.

"Say WHAT?"

Turn about is fair play!

I LOVE this one, I just wish I could see more of Asa's face. You can just see the love they have for each other. They are so close.

Ok, starting to get silly here.

I'm losing them!

Yep, they're gone :)

The last one I got and it's one of my favorites even though the carpet is stained and you can see my sweats in the corner. I'll photoshop it later but they were giggling so hard they couldn't breathe.

Oh how these children melt my heart.....even though it took a lot of yelling to get the 6 out of 84 "normal" pictures of them! Yes, there were lots of threats and bribes. Funny, I just remember having fun with them.

Eyes Wide Shut

I ordered new glasses yesterday. It has been a little more than four years since I got my last pair. Sissy always used to go with me to pick out my frames. The last time I got a pair of glasses we decided on the ones I have after we agreed they weren't too "Sarah Palin-ish".

Yesterday I picked them out with Beya.

This afternoon I was looking at my old ones and finding a glass case to put them in when I thought "Ha! Sissy is going to love that my new glasses are Michael Kors to match my new Michael Kors purse! Wait. Why didn't I already tell her this? I did this yesterday. Wait, why wasn't she with me? Why didn't she help me pick out my glasses?"

And yet yesterday all I could keep thinking of is that it should have been the three of us looking for frames for me. Mom is amazing, I don't want to take ANYTHING away from her. There are just some things I used to do with sissy and sissy alone.

It's just plain wrong that she isn't here to do these things with me.

It's wrong that it's been almost 35 months since she could do anything with me.

It's wrong that next month will be 3 years.


There are times when all I want to do is forget. Forget that she was ever here. Forget that I had a sister. Forget that there was another half of me. Forget that most of my identity was ripped away.

There are times when I think "I need to go to sissy's house" or "I wonder when her and Asa are going to come over" or "let me call sissy to tell her Chez Norm is open for Sunday breakfast" or "holy shit, I can't wait to tell sissy!"

There are times when I think I should be at the hospital with her. That I should be sitting with her and giving mom a rest. That I should be talking to her doctor. That I should be asking more questions.

Instead I squeeze my eyes shut to keep the tears from coming.

Instead I keep my eyes open to see that I have two wonderful children, my parents are still alive and a husband who loves me.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Talk Shit

I was in the grocery store a week or two ago and had an urgent recipe question. I immediately called one of my best friends who would have the answer. She didn't answer the phone so assuming everyone else is like me and never checks their voicemail I didn't bother to leave a message.

About a half hour later I was in the car waiting for mom to finish when I saw that I had miss her return phone call.  For some unknown reason I actually listened to the voicemail she left. In her trademark quiet, calm, easygoing, unassuming voice she left the following message:

"Hi. It's me. Just calling you back. Wondering if you wanted to talk. I want to talk to you. Is that what you wanted? Did you want to talk to me?


I literally laughed out loud when I heard the last part. I was all alone in my car laughing so hard.

Thank you, Jen, for never ceasing to say something so off the wall that I have no other choice than to laugh! We both have so much loss in our lives and extreme emotional pain that manifests itself into physical problems (me physical pain, you, determined to bake any and every pie ever thought of and even some that haven't....and maybe shouldn't, haha) that when we laugh together it means that much more.

I love you stripy Jen!