Tag Archives: Family

My Mom Had A Stroke (Actually, She Had Two)

The last seven days have been the most terrifying of my life. Mom flew in one day after I did, and when she arrived I told her that we needed to go to the Emergency Room. The right side of her face was droopy, and she was having a hard time saying her words. She refused to go.

She lost her job (and healthcare benefits last year) and has looked all over to find work. She’s approaching her mid-sixties, and even with her incredible work background and education she hasn’t found work. She was willing to do things way beneath her level of expertise, but she lives in a very small, oppressive area where life has been hard over the last year.

My mom carries the stress of her family on her shoulders. She’s the strongest person I know, but she’s tired. My aunt Debbie has been incredibly sick for over a year, and before that her granddaughter was fighting cancer. Mom cares about them and worries about them. She’s been under a lot of pressure, though who knows if that’s why she had the stroke?

A couple days after refusing to go to the ER, my aunt called me and urged me to convince her. I left work knowing that Mom would protest, but this time she didn’t. She knew things were getting worse, so I met her at the ER.

The next several days were rough. My sister caught the next flight out when I texted her that Mom’s CT scan showed that he did, in fact, have a stroke. (Mom assumed it was Bell’s Palsy.) She spent that night at her local hospital, and they released her. Before she arrived at home, which is only a few minutes away, my sister brought her back to the ER because she couldn’t lift her arm and leg. She had experienced another stroke.

At that point they sent her to a hospital near my home in New Orleans. She went through several tests, and they confirmed that she had a blog clot in her brain. It’s really small, so the doctor prescribed meds that should dissolve it over the next few weeks.

My sister and I brought her home last night, and she seems much better than she did when she entered the hospital. She had two strokes in one week though, which makes the risk much higher that she’ll have another one over the next few weeks. They gave her a pretty strong dose of medicine, which should (hopefully) counteract that.

I know that God is in complete control of this situation (and that He’s here in spite of my fears.) I just want Mom to be okay, and I am praying and believing that she will be.

My sister goes home tomorrow, which means that I’ll spend as much time with Mom as possible. I’ve missed several days of work, which I wouldn’t change for a minute. I just want to be sure that she’s okay too.

I’ve never been so scared in my life. I wish I could say that I wasn’t worried at all, but I’m human…and I’m trying to have faith. I’ve felt a lot of peace, which seems like enough.

We’ve been surrounded, supported and uplifted by people who love us and were willing to put that love into action this week, and I’m so utterly thankful for that. If you’re a person who prayers please pray for my family, especially for Mom.

 

Friend Makin’ Mondays: All About Family

This week’s FMM is coming to you from Colorado! I came out to celebrate my niece’s 7th birthday, and, as always, we had a great time together.

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The theme of her party was the “Wizard of Oz,” so I baked ruby slipper cookies. We played games and ran around in the snow, and I’m already looking forward to seeing them over the summer.

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snow feet

This long weekend was all about family for me, so naturally, FMM is going to be all about family too.

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If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

All About Family

1. How many siblings do you have? Tell us about them. I have one sister. She’s a teacher, and she’s married to a cool guy. They have two daughters, who just happen to be my favorite little people in the world.
2. Do you have kids? If so, how many? Nope, but I have two awesome nieces. I adore them!
3. Share one thing you love about each of your parents. My mom would do anything for me, and she requires nothing in return…ever. Dad and I don’t always agree politically, but it’s a lot of fun to talk about it with them.
4. How close do you live to your nearest relative? I live about an hour and a half from my mom, which is awesome.
5. Does your family have any particular traditions that you’d hate to miss? If so, what are they? I just enjoy being around my family, so I take every opportunity I can to spend time with them.
6. Share an odd fact about your childhood. When I was really young we lived in Louisiana, but I didn’t grow up there. We traveled across Lake Pontchartrain to visit family, and for a while I had a recurring dream about trees quickly growing up from the water and snakes dangling from them. I also thought the lake was loaded with sharks.
7. Did you have pets when you were growing up? Do you have any now? If so, tell us about them. I had kittens, and I even had a dog once as a kid. I’d love to have another cocker spaniel, but my home and lifestyle just aren’t conducive to it. Many people around me do it, but I plan to wait until I no longer live in a high-rise building.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and leave your link in the comments!

Happy Monday!

 

An Open Letter to Chris McClarney: Thank You

I wrote this intending to send it as an email, but when I didn’t find one I decided to post it here. I’m thankful for the music and lyrics and how it will forever remain in my mind now. I don’t know if Chris will ever see it or not, but I had to let it all out.

Dear Chris,

Last Saturday was an emotional day for my family and me, and your song, “God of Miracles” played a powerful role in it. A dear family friend, Charlene, went on to meet Jesus a week ago, but my mom and I spent her last moments in this life with her first.

She had been sick for several months, but I didn’t realize how ill she was until she chose to move into a Hospice facility in New Orleans last Friday.
Charlene was an amazing woman of God, and several years ago while I was steeped in sin, shame and bitterness, she told me that God had a plan for my life. I scoffed at her with condescension as she said, “He’s never going to stop pursuing you, and I’m never going to stop praying for you.”

A few years after that conversation, I realized for the first time (even though I grew up as a pastor’s kid) that I’d never be able to earn salvation; it was God’s free gift for me, and I didn’t have to work for it. I simply had to accept it. That realization changed my life, and as a result of my relationship with Jesus I’ve surrendered the anger, self-loathing and bitterness that I carried for far too long.

Now, as a worship leader at NOLA Church, a place I swore I’d never go to when I was initially invited, I listen to a lot of amazing music, and our bass player added “God of Miracles” to my playlist a few months ago. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times since I first heard it, but it helped shape my view of death and eternity over the weekend.

When we arrived at Charlene’s bedside my mom sang one of her favorite songs, “He Touched Me.” (We always sang when we were together.) I thought she’d ask me to follow up with a different Southern Gospel tune, but instead she said, “sing the song you were playing on repeat in the car.”

Charlene was on morphine to ease her pain, so I assumed she wouldn’t know what we were singing anyway. In spite of that I sang the song a cappella, struggling to get through it without breaking down. At the same time Charlene began to lift her hands, and though she had not been responsive before that, her sister asked her to give us a thumbs up if she knew we were there and wanted me to continue the song. She gave a feeble, yet distinctive thumbs up, and at that moment I realized that the Holy Spirit was empowering me to walk with her through the painful moments shortly before all of her pain would cease. By the second verse, the four of us in the room, knew that God’s presence was there and filling in what would be the last few minutes of her life.

“Let faith arise, and see the kingdom come, I lift my eyes, for the battle has been won. My God is faithful, and every single word He says is true.”

As I sang those lyrics I thanked God for His mercy and comfort and for the example of unwavering faith that I saw first hand as my precious friend went on to see Jesus.

Today I sang at her memorial. I woke up heavy hearted, knowing that we’d all be saying goodbye to her a few hours later, but what happened instead was a celebration of her life and her choice to live her life fully surrendered to Jesus.

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“God of Miracles” is the last song that she heard before moving on into God’s glory, and I’m forever thankful that I was able to worship through her last moments with her, filled with the promises and truths that exist in those lyrics.
Thank you, Chris…

Sincerely,

Kenlie

Family, Love Updates, Grown Up Coloring and Hand Knitting

Last week had some bright moments and some not so bright moments. I talked about the rough part here last week, and I’m happy to say that we talked today. I didn’t know that I was going to see him, but I’m glad I did. I was able to share my thoughts and feelings (and French press) with him, and I was filled with a sense of relief when I saw him. He was relieved and happy to see me tooI don’t know what the future holds, but I’m happier today than I’ve been in the last week.

The fun parts of last week came as a result of my sister and nieces. They visited Mom’s house, so I spent most of my time there.

Baby Niece

oldest niece

We did some cool stuff in my neighborhood too. My friend, who is a veterinarian at Audubon, brought us behind the scenes and let my nieces feed the giant turtle. We watched them feed the stars as well, and we ran around in the fountains after that.

New Orleans Aquarium

They headed back home Friday evening, so I returned home and caught up on things that I didn’t do during the week. I went to church, spent time with friends, and did some meal planning.

I went to an Outcry concert last week too, which featured some of my favorite Christian artists including Kari Jobe, David Crowder, Hillsong and more. My friends and I sat in a suite, which is my favorite way to enjoy any event (except Pearl Jam because I need to be in the front row for that.)

I also decided to join the grown up coloring book craze. I colored with my nieces last week, but I picked up an adult book at Michael’s too. It’s fun and relaxing, and i finished my first page today.

Is anyone else here doing this to destress or relax?

Is anyone else here doing this to destress or relax?

Sunday afternoon I decided to try something new, so I signed up for a hand knitting class at Michaels. It was an inexpensive way to spend the afternoon, and I left with a finished infinity scarf. I already know how to knit, but I did this without needles. Actually, I used my wrists and hands as if they were needles, which was an interesting and easy concept.

hand knitting Michaels

It looks like a loose braid.

Last week I said that I was going to focus on all of the positives in my life, and I did that. I’m thankful that there are so many reasons to enjoy life, and I’m looking forward to the month of August. It’s typically the hottest month in New Orleans, so I’ll be okay with it when it’s over. I’m also ready to start school again even though I enjoyed the summer break.

I’m not sure what the future holds. I have some things to figure out, but I feel hopeful. I’m pretty sure I’ll sleep a lot better tonight too.

 

Fitbloggin’ 15 and Family

I’m making some changes here, but I couldn’t wait to share my Fitbloggin’ recap.

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After spending a glorious week in Colorado, I’m back home in New Orleans. I haven’t really had an opportunity to process everything yet because as I was departing yesterday, I became ill. I’ll spare you most of the details, but let’s just say that I now have a new “worst flight ever” to remember. I’m pretty sure the people sitting next to me would agree too.  Thankfully, we were in the air before the decided to call a medic, otherwise I’m not sure I would have made it home at all yesterday.

I’m not 100% yet, but I’m far less miserable than I was. I have no appetite, but I no longer feel so putrid that I can’t even think of food. A sweet someone brought me dinner and meds, and I’m on the mend now.

Fitbloggin’ didn’t officially start until Thursday evening, so I spent the afternoon with my sister and nieces, and Leslie and Jaason joined us. It was awesome to let my worlds collide for an afternoon by introducing my family to friends who feel like family. We walked around downtown dinner, chatted for a bit, and relaxed.

Leslie Steph and More

My oldest niece, Hannah, knows how to make her auntie feel good. When she spotted me she ran through the lobby of my hotel to greet me. I love that kid. She’s so awesome! My youngest niece, “Haddy,” took a while to warm up to me. She’s only one, and she didn’t know me. Thankfully, through offering her a bite of a cookie, we became instant BFF’s. I definitely think she’ll remember me when she’s here in a few weeks.

Westin Denver

They loved that I let them jump on my bed too. (What can I say? They’re adorable.)

I didn’t spend a lot of time at the opening mixer because I had dinner plans with Leslie, Jaason and David, which I’ll discuss more in a moment. I did stay long enough to say hello to a lot of people whom I adore and to make my official Fitbloggin’ badge. It’s a fun way to kick off the conference every year, and this year we were instructed to place a star on our badge for every year of attendance.

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They’re some of the coolest California people I know.

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Five years of Fitbloggin’. Wow..

I’ve attended this conference for five years in a row, and there’s one specific reason for it: the people. I don’t care about blogging now nearly as much as I did when I started attending this conference, but enjoying a friendly reunion weekend never gets old.

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J’s pretty good at taking selfies. I’m glad he’s tall.

Everyone should have a friend like Kris.

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After hours…

I wouldn’t have gone this year if Leslie hadn’t agreed to go as well because it’s just not the same without her, but I’m glad she did. I’m glad we all went. Thursday night we ate at Mercantile Dining & Provisions inside Union Station. We shared several appetizers, and I chose the Boulder Natural Crispy Half Chicken heirloom grain porridge, shaved asparagus & morel mushroom salad, spring onion crema.

Mercantile Denver

My chicken is definitely fancier than your chicken…

Earlier that day I had breakfast with some of my other Fitbloggin’ pals, Kris, Deb, June and Julie.

Fitbloggin Breakfast

Julie, Me, Kris, June and Deb

The conference offers some cool sessions and opportunities to work with various brands, but some of my favorite things happened after hours this year.

My friend, Kelly at No Thanks to Cake, decided to have an impromptu chat Friday evening, and people filled the room to listen. I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening at the time, but it led to an amazing conversation with friends in the other room.

Fitbloggin Women

Deb, Pauly, Dani, DeAnna and me

We talked about life, self-love, love from others and a myriad of other things. Pauly shared the most amazing beer ever with me too, Hell or High Watermelon by 21st Amendment. (It’s probably good that I’ve never seen it in New Orleans because it’s too delicious!) Anyway, these women all come from different backgrounds, cities, etc., but they reminded me that we all want the same thing at our core. Moments like the ones we shared that evening are the reason I go to Fitbloggin’ every year, and I’m so thankful for them.

After the conference I picked up a rental car and drove to Colorado Springs. My favorite thing about the conference this year was the proximity to my sister’s house. It was great to spend time with her family, and we filled every moment with something fun.

One of the highlights of our time together was a little hike we did near their house. We had an amazing view of Pike’s Peak and Pulpit Rock, and the weather was perfect! Colorad Springs  We did a lot of other fun things, including mani/pedi time with Auntie, a cupcake date with Mom and Auntie, shopping at Trader Joe’s (because I can always use more Belgian chocolate) and breakfast that included a flight of pancakes.

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I’m so thankful for the week that I got to spend surrounded by people I love. I left to conference with some insight into where I’d like to take my blog in the future. (I kind of regret trying to merge the two.) I also created some small, reasonable goals that I hope to share here soon.

My first year at Fitbloggin’ will probably always be my favorite, but this year gave it a run for its money. I can’t count on both hands how many people I know and love as a result of this community, and I can’t wait until it’s time to see them again.

Until next year…

 

 

 

28 Days

I had a great visit with Dad last week. He met several of my friends, and He went home on Friday, then some friends from Fitbloggin’ made their way to New Orleans for a Mardi Gras weekend. I didn’t eat well at all, and I gained 1.4 pounds as a result. My plan is to take it off this week, and I’m doing that by making healthier food choices and time for exercise.

If I am what I eat, then today I’m leafy greens. Last week I was king cake, kobe beef sliders, and pork roast. Ha! My point is that I’m taking the reigns back today because I am happier with myself when I’m in control. I’m tracking everything that I eat, which makes it easier to stay accountable.

One of my goals for the month of February is to match the loss that I had in January. I want to lose 10 pounds again this month, but I have another goal too that isn’t related limited to my weight.

I’ve talked about my church a zillion times here, and this month they posted a challenge social media. NOLA Church’s 28 Days of Love gives us a small challenge each morning, and I’ve following along on Instagram and completing them each day for the last ten days. (You can see each day’s challenge at: instagram.com/nola_church if you want to.)

NOLA Church 28 Days of Love

I plan to complete each day because these little steps add so much joy and satisfaction to my life, but Day 10 impacted me in a major way. “Learn how to love yourself.” It sounds so simple doesn’t it?

I tried figuring out how to love myself for years, and so many of you told me that I couldn’t love someone else until I learned to love myself, blah, blah, blah…I searched for love through relationships, some of which were completely wrong for me. I looked for love/acceptance/joy by lying to myself and others about who I was. I was so steeped in shame that I couldn’t feel love, then that changed.

I began to love myself when I realized who GOD is and what He did for me. I started to understand that I could and should love myself when I realized that GOD sent Jesus (who was perfect and sinless, by the way) to feel every bit of shame, hate, anger, hurt, sin, and every other thought or emotion that we as humans would feel to die for us…to die for me.

Sunday, my pastor, Monte, said, “Jesus loved us so much that it killed Him.” The amazing news is that it didn’t stop there. He conquered death, hell, and the grave for us…for me.

It gets a lot easier to love myself when I think of GOD’s never-failing love for me. GOD loved the world so much that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:16-17)

GOD is love, and He loves me. That led me to repentance, which ultimately led me into a relationship with Him. I love Him, and when I started placing my focus on others instead of myself, I began to see His goodness up close. That realization showed me that if GOD loves me, who am I not to love myself?

God loves you, and He’s never going to stop. if you don’t believe me, come spend a week or two with me.

Later friends…

 

 

 

 

 

An Update On My January Goals and More…

I can’t believe it’s already February, but I’m happy to report that I accomplished the goals I set for January. One goal was to refrain from all desserts/sweets for 21 days, and I did it. Sugar is like air to me, at least it feels that way sometimes, but I didn’t cave. I used the times in which I craved desserts to pray and to read my Bible. It may sound silly to some, but I drew closer to God during that time. It was awesome. I felt so empowered by my actions that I’ll make a similar goal for February.

I accomplished another goal as well; I lost 10 pounds in the month of January. I may have lost a little more than that because I reached the goal last week. I won’t step on the scale again until next Monday. I can’t express how awesome it feels to be moving in the right direction, and it feels good to have several weeks of control under my belt. My doughnut-free streak continues as well, and I need to buy new jeans as a result. I love that.

Dad arrived in New Orleans today, and I’m so happy that he will be spending the week with me. I had planned to go and see him during Mardi Gras, but I’m so happy that he’s here instead!

He met me at Starbucks because I was there most of the afternoon. The weather was nice enough to sit through a conference call outside, but it quickly turned cool. I tutored at City Greens, a farm-to-table restaurant next door, ate fruit, drank too much coffee and lots of water, and waited for him to arrive.

Eating fruit and drinking sparkling water always feels indulgent. I love that it's satisfying and positive for my health.

Eating fruit and drinking sparkling water always feels indulgent. I love that it’s satisfying and positive for my health.

I haven’t seen him since April. (I seriously refuse to go that long without seeing him again.) We went to Ulta, where we found some makeup deals. (“We” being me, but thanks for being a good sport, Dad! Ha)  I got two Laura Geller sets that included two bottles of primer, two foundation powders, two brushes, mascara, blush and brightener, and concealer. The bottle of concealer typically costs more than the entire package, which made it feel like a no-brainer.

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After that we went to dinner at one of my favorite spots, then dropped my car off for an oil change at the dealership. (That worked out well because he won’t have to pay $49 a night to park, which is what they raise the prices to when events like Mardi Gras are about to happen.)

Dad was exhausted after his day of travel, so I finished up my work for the day while he went to sleep. I typically do not allow myself to bring my laptop to bed, but I made an exception tonight.

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It was a productive day, and I got a lot accomplished tonight as well. Now it’s time to get some sleep because I plan to enjoy as much time with Dad as I can. Most other things will be secondary this week.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to make buttermilk biscuits, eggs, and bacon for Dad and friends, and I’m so happy that he will be seeing and meeting people who mean so much to me.

If you live far from your family, you know how it feels. I’m just so glad he’s here…

Until later….

 

 

I Can’t Believe That It’s Been Almost Three Years

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three years to the day since Uncle Wesley died. I was pretty lost during that time.  I lacked faith in myself and in God. I struggled with my beliefs, my utter disdain for people in church and my lack of understanding in why someone like Uncle Wesley had to suffer so viscously.  I also struggled with guilt because I was so relieved that my parents were both healthy.

I was in a bad place, and one Sunday after a week that we were’t sure if he would live through, my uncle preached an entire sermon about faith. I talked about it on my blog right after it happened.  He believed in God, and he had faith that God’s will was best until his last breath.  It’s still hard for me to think of the last night that I saw him without getting teary-eyed.  He told Mom that he loved her, and with one tear streaming down his closed eye, he smiled as he went on to meet Jesus.

He knew how I felt about church and God, but he never failed to remind me of God’s love for me. He accepted me even though I was a complete mess, and it was obvious that he was at peace in spite of his imperfect life. I talked about that on my blog as well.

…feeling the peace that surrounds him already and the faith he has as he spends his last few days on earth has truly been a testament of his authentic belief to me.  People professing to be “christians” usually just piss me off, but Uncle Wesley has shown me what an imperfect human’s life should look like at its best and its worst.

I was filled with a lot of bitterness and anger at that time.  I was completely lacking in direction, and I was hanging on to hope by a thread.  I had no idea that the next few years would lead to extraordinary life change, but it did.

In December of 2012 I met my friend, Jeff, at the mall through my friend, Shannon, and I couldn’t have imagined that he’d become such a close friend!  As we stood by the makeup counter at Macy’s (waiting for our friends) he invited me to church.  Here’s how it went:

Jeff: Hey, you should come to church sometime.

Kenlie: Uh, I’ll be friends with you, but I’m not going to your (expletive) church.

Jeff: Okay.

During that conversation I explained to Jeff why I thought GOD was real, but I also explained why there was no way in hell I was going to church.

As a kid, I was in church (or church activities) several times a week. My dad was the pastor so I was there for EVERYTHING whether I wanted to be or not. I had to put a smile on my face and go regardless of what was happening in my life. I had to sing whether I wanted to or not.  I saw good things happen, and I saw a lot of horrible things happen – things that hurt me, things that made me angry. I did what I was told to do because well-behaved kids do that, but I was never overly concerned about GOD’s presence in my life.

After meeting Jeff I spent the next several months going out of my way to curse and drink in front of him. I waited for him to judge me or tell me off, but he didn’t.  Instead we became friends and eventually, because it’s hard to say no to Candi, who is now his wife, I walked into church.

Now it’s no secret that I have a relationship with God. I love Jesus, and I often talk about how incredible it is that He loves me in spite of myself.  Uncle Wesley’s birthday passed earlier this week, and I smiled as I thought about what he would think of me now. The truth is he’d love me now just as he did then, but I wish he was still here so he could see the changes that have taken place in me.

I wish I could tell him that he was right, that I get it now, that I know God loves me, and that I love Him back.  I wish he could be here Sunday as I lead worship at my church because he loved hearing me sing and because he loved worshipping Jesus. I wish I could have conversations with him about faith. I wish we could sing southern gospel together like we did even when I was far from God. I wish I could talk about the verses in the Bible that have impacted me recently.  I just wish he was here.

Uncle Wesley and Me

There’s a lot of hope, peace and contentement when you believe in God. You get to cling to the fact that you’ll see your loved ones again in Heaven. I’m able to acknowledge that what’s happening in Uncle Wesley’s life today is far better than what would be happening if he were still alive.

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since he left earth. My life is different now, more settled…I’ve gained some weight, but I’ve also gained peace, friends who know all of my junk and love me anyway, a church family that is filled with other imperfect people who are working on being faith distributors. I’ve begun the process of healing from a time in which my entire world was rocked. I have a steady routine that I didn’t have back then, and I’m more honest with myself and the people around me than I’ve ever been before.

I miss my uncle, and many people that I love still miss him too. I know, in as much as my human brain can comprehend, that Uncle Wesley is in a far better place where he is.  I know that, but I miss him anyway.

 

 

 

 

Missing My Family

My parents are divorced, and being the product of a broken family caused me a lot of heartache as a teenager and into my twenties. I eventually dealt with that, and I’m close my Mom and Dad now. The hardest part now is that they live nearly a thousand miles apart, and as I left Dad to return home earlier this week, I wished that I could live closer to him.

Moving to New Orleans meant that I could be close enough to visit Mom regularly for the first time as an adult, and I take advantage of that. I visit her almost weekly, and I love being close enough that she can visit me too.  I felt like seeing her yesterday so I drove to her house and stayed for a few hours before returning home.

My sister lives over a thousand miles away (in another direction) with her beautiful family too, and we all have our own lives. I love the life that I have created for myself in New Orleans, but often times, I wish that I could be close to all of them.

Do you live close enough to your family to see them often? Do you wish that you could live closer?

 

I’d Like A New iPad Mini, But…

I have so many reasons to be thankful this year. I have a cute little place to live, and I am lucky to be loved by many of the people that I love.  Sure, I’d love a new iPad or a fancy handbag, but I wouldn’t trade what I already have for those things.  Family and friendship makes me happy, and I’m thankful for it everyday.

Kenlie Friends

As we enter the holiday season (which is officially here so bring on the Christmas songs) I want to thank you for being a part of my little life….xoxo