Sunday, November 15, 2009

Favorite Memories 101

The time was my brother Jim's and his new bride Judy's wedding reception. It was many years ago and there are few that may remember this one part of the reception. The whole day was memorable, don't get me wrong, but there was a moment after dinner, after the cake and the other wedding traditions that four men got up to sing. It was my dad (Dick Howard), Pat McKenna, Jim Daly and another man, that my dad knew when he was a Chicago cop. There they were, one held a microphone and the other bent over to get their voices in. They sang a song called "Heart of my Hearts", I think that was the title (now I will have to search the song title to make sure). At any rate, they were quite good and everyone was having a blast. I was somewhat amazed as I never saw my dad sing. The gist of the song was harmony and man, they harmonized.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Taking care of others...

To my fellow Americans: I was sitting on the throne today, just thinking, when a thought popped into my head about the Health Care issue. An issue, may I honestly state, too overwhelming for the two brain cells that I have left floating around in the gray matter in my skull to totally comprehend. I have a theory ideas are floating around our world, they pop in and out of brains, floating, landing, perhaps holding on to one brain, where the person runs with the idea, perhaps they will succeed, maybe even fail, but they run with the idea. It takes courage nonetheless, to act on a idea.

Part of my thinking has to do with the sermon in church today, though the topic has been brewing for some time now. Although, I don't totally agree with the Pastor's exegesis of the passage, I do believe we should look out for the interests of others, not only are own (Philippians 2). I think the passage is speaking directly to the church (brothers and sisters) and not necessarily the world at large. Even so, the Good Samaritan is an example of loving your neighbor, so I took hold of that idea as more on line about taking care of others.

So, here is my proposal, for those that do have health insurance, if we were somehow, able to share our coverage with another family or individual for one year? This would give enough time until the powers that be, have more discussions/fights/confrontations to figure this mess out and not be so concerned about getting something passed before they take a break or whatever it is they have to do? It would fulfil the moral/spiritual obligation pressed upon me, if would not upset the tax payers (taking from their pocket), but it would be volunteerism at its finest, because we are the land of givers. Yes, I said it, the people of the US, we are a giving country. Of course, we would have to convince the insurance companies to go along with this (somehow), but it would be something to provide the basic coverage. I would then ask the IRS to give us volunteers a tax break of the equivalent of the one year premium that we pay. Let's say you pay for your insurance coverage $6,000 a year, your work may pay the equivalent or more, that doesn't count your out of pocket expenses (co pay), but you and your workplace would get a break, somehow on the additional health care costs, whether it be up front or on the back end. As I think about this through though, perhaps I'm upsetting the tax payers, since I'm asking about a tax break. That isn't my point though, my point is getting care to the millions that can't afford it right now, adults and children! We'll discuss the tax issues later, as we always do as Americans. Let me add if we can fund for wars, we should be able to fund for health care in our own country.

I, admittedly, am an idealist, a foolish heart and a product of my environment. All you need is love, was the rallying cry when I grew up. Dang, what an idiot I was in believing it. Well, I still do. People helping people. It wouldn't be for a life time, but time enough to give the lawmakers and the President to really get around the issue, from tort reform to costs. Perhaps even time for that fellow American to afford their own insurance.

I don't want more government control. I lived through it the last few months. The rules change, you get shackled and are afraid to do business. Don't get me wrong, government is good, but too much can be derailing (if you are wondering which side of the fence I'm on, I think like a Republican sometimes, I'm a registered Democrat, so you can say I'm mixed up or a centrist). I'm for what works.

So, perhaps this idea was floating around for awhile, from brain to brain, people waived it away thinking it absurd. Obviously, I don't have it well developed, but there has to be someway to find a solution right now and work on a long range plan without selling ourselves to the devil and regretting it in years to come.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Fathers are amazing, they are so much different than Mothers, there are the obvious differences of course. But for me and my my Dad and my husband, they seem to be a heck of a lot calmer! And funnier!

My Dad's sense of humor is world famous these days and has kept the four of us in stitches all our lives and my Mother just rolling her eyes. They say women tend to marry men like their Fathers and I most definitely did! Bill is calm like my Dad, deep in thought and smart like him, loves baseball and makes me laugh like no one else! But the best part is that I see how much he loves our children, each in their own way. Just like my Dad does. I am not sure exactly how he managed to keep all of the feelings for each of the four us different, but he did.

I remember he called my older brother "pal" and me "kid". I loved being called that, I loved that my Dad had his own pet name for me. My Mom said it began at birth because I was pretty sick and in the NICU that all through my childhood he had a hard time punishing me or saying no, because all he could remember was that I was that sick little baby. Even though I was probably throwing some giant fit because I didn't get my way. But all I remember and all I still know is the love I have felt.

A few years ago I had gone through MANY trials and although my Mother always loved me, my Dad was always there, no matter what. He always has been, whether it was a tennis match, a swim meet, walking me down the aisle (telling jokes of course) or holding my newborn daughter. Now he loves my son very much, that I know, but he adores Punky. When she was a newborn he actually argued with my Mom about who got to hold her first!

And those are all the things I see in Bill as a Father, the pure love and joy he has for his kids. Watching Connor run to meet him at the train everyday and Regan's open arms when she sees him. He is their Daddy and I know they will go to him for advise, just as I did/do with my Dad and I know he will give it with love and humor, as only these two wonderful men can!

Happy Father's Day Billy! And Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you both dearly!

Love Always, Melinda

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Estes Park!

This past Saturday we decided to take a family trip up to Estes Park. I hadn't been there since early May and it was a bit cold & windy that day! And Bill had never been there. So after Connor's swim lessons we drove up (by way of Northglenn where the closet Cracker Barrel exists!). We walked around a path near the golf course right off of Lake Estes. The big attraction were the Elk lounging and grazing on the course and this is common practice for the Elk of the town. They get to go more places than my own dogs would be allowed!

We also drove up near the Stanley Hotel, very beautiful, but CREEPYYY!! We also took in the scenery around us, the spectacular mountains and the beautiful wildflowers. All I could think of was how blessed I felt to live in such a beautiful place! We tried to drive into town and park so we could walk around the shops, but it was a weekend and there were many things going on around town. So we decided to go up again on a weekday where we could park and also do a bit of hiking in the park. But it was a nice diversion from the chaos of life as of late for us.

See ya,

Billy's Birthday and those kooky kids...

We tend to have low key birthdays here. Well I personally like (and so does Connor) a big deal made out of my birthday, but Bill is more of a low key guy than I am. Which is probably why the two of work so well together!

So this year it was just the four of us! We had grilled steak (my husband is turning into quite the suburban grill master) and potatoes. Followed by presents and birthday cake, even little Punk got a taste, which she loved. She also managed to squish into her hair causing the bananas previously squished in to get even worse! So she had to have a bit of "shampoo" afterwards.

These are some pictures from that night and few others- Regan is trying to dismantle Connor's train setup and he didn't get too upset..... She is crawling everywhere, pulling up and beginning to cruise around the furniture. And talking up a storm, which is always bittersweet for me since Connor talked a little, but then stopped by this age. Hard for me not to think I should have done something right then! Anyway, she is too cute and he loves her dearly...

Happy birthday Babe!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summer and swimming..

Summer is HERE! Thank goodness for the warmth of the sun and the time together! I decided it was time to leave my job at our church St. Andrew and my last day was last Thursday, so I get to be home with both of my kids and just be a Mom for the summer. I am still working from home with my Dad, which will amp up a bit more now that I only have ONE job! I am sure I will look for something in the future, but for now I think I need to stay home with Punky and do what I had always planned and what I had done with Connor, be a Mom!

Connor has started swimming lessons, this is his first set of lessons. We have always done tball or baseball in the past and the swim lessons filled up SO fast- all week except Saturdays! So we decided that our little math & science wiz wasn't as into baseball as we had hoped, he loves to watch with us and to play catch with his Daddy, but isn't into being on a team. A bit sad for us, but I'd rather have him happy with what he loves to do than force the issue. So he started lessons this past Saturday and had a great time! He will take them all summer and I am so glad that he will begin to become safer in the water that he already loves to be in!

My Mom also helped me plant some flower pots for our front porch and back deck. I only had one flower pot last summer, because I knew that by the time Regan was born in late July I would never water again. I love flowers- to LOOK at flowers, but I did not get the love of gardening that my Mom and sister have. I don't like to get dirty! We also enjoyed some time outside with the kids and let Punk explore the deck until she dumped the dogs water bowl on herself! This is going to be a great summer!

Last Day of first grade!

I can't believe the school year is over already! We made it back home from Chicago just in time for the last day. Which is good considering I am (was) one of the room Moms for Connor's class! The kids had the room decorated like a rainforest and sang a few songs for all the parents. We made yearbooks for the kids and they all signed each others, we also made a memory book for Connor's wonderful teacher Mrs. Bittler. She will not be coming back to Arrowwood next year and we will miss her very much! I also got a picture of Connor with his two best buds this year, Sam & Diego. It was a fun party and Connor had a wonderful year! I can't believe I have a second grader now! WILD!

Chicago & Indiana

Here are some shots of the kids and Bill swimming at our hotel (Regan's first time!) and some shots as we drove around downtown. It was SO windy and cold we didn't dare venture out. We didn't have time to travel over to the friendly confines, but I did get a shot of Comiskey, ok US Cellular field and Soldier Field.


Saturday night we drove into the Chicago suburbs and back to where Bill grew-up, Homewood. We also had dinner at the scared home of pizza to the Howard family- Aurelio's! We also drove around and showed Connor where Daddy used to live, where he played baseball and took the kids to a local park. We topped it off with a visit to Mitchell's ice cream, YUM! It was a really nice break and great to have some time for just the four of us.

Cousins, cousins everywhere!

On Saturday morning, we were able to meet Bill's late brother's family, whom he is very close to and one of his favorite parts of the midwest- Cracker Barrel!!! It was so great to see all of the girls and their families and to visit with Aunt Judy. It was emotional seeing them all without Uncle Jimmy, but we know his spirit lives on through all of them! We also made them our last "family" stop before we headed back to Denver Monday night. We stopped by Amy's house and Regan got to play with actual little girls toys! Her cousin Maddie loved being able to play with her. And it was very clear after looking at Amy and her youngest daughter, Macintyre's eyes, where Princess Punky gets her big blue eyes!

It was great to see all of them and wished we could have had a bit more time to stay and play!

A visit with Aunt Karen & Uncle Rick and family

On Sunday we made some time to drive north to visit with Bill's oldest brother Rick and his wife Karen. We also saw their kids Stephanie and Greg along with his VERY pregnant wife Cassie and their son Hugh. Connor loved being able to play with Hugh and Stephanie of course and they we all excited to meet Regan, who only made it part of the day in a dress! You just can't crawl in a dress!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Connor becomes a wolf!

Yesterday the Cubscouts had the year end crossover, where the boys move up a level in "rank". So Connor moved up from being a tiger to becoming a wolf. It was fun watching him be inducted by JC Bear an "old trapper" who gave Connor a Native American name (of which I cannot remember) but he called him the white wolf- which fits considering he is a very white boy! He also gave him the title of medicine man, which did concern me a tad- either he will be a doctor or a scientist or he'll be a drug dealer! Let's hope for the former!

It was great to get out for a bit, Connor is recovering from pneumonia and seems to be doing much better and poor Regan is still croupy. But she did well for the short time we were there. And she got to see her "scout Mommy" Ali, who loves to hold her!

So onto to our next year of scouting!

Some of the pictures are a little dark, so just look hard, he's there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Another casualty of facebook addiction- my blog!

So , that is the the sum of why I haven't posted as many pictures as I should- facebook. I am thinking I need a 12 step program to get back into blogging! But not sure I can diligently do both. Which is why I have stayed away from twitter! GEEZ! I'd never be off my "crackberry" as my brothers call it! It reached it's height last night, when Connor told me "Mommy, less texting and more listening"! You know it's bad when a seven year old points it out to you!

So what's new? Connor is about to finish up first grade and head into the summer. We are not doing baseball this summer, instead we are focusing on swimming and getting up into the mountains to explore some new hiking trails. He had a great year, made lots of friends and learned a lot. We are going to visit a nutritionist from DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) this summer. She will runs many tests on him (blood, urine, hair) to see how his body is handling toxins and how it is ridding itself of those toxins. We are also looking at how a change of diet might help his learning abilities and mostly his social abilities. A good friend of mine's son has ASD and they are in the same process of doing this as well. I am interested to see how this will work for Connor and if we can help his ASD and ADHD with some biomedical help along side his other therapies.

Regan will turn 10 months old at the end of the month and I am beginning to realize that I may have given birth to myself! She is a bit of a daredevil with much better coordination than I have. She isn't very cautious and tends to leap before she looks (a trait I am famous for). But she is a beautiful little creature and is so very happy with life!

Bill is still with Northern, passed his series 6 & 63 and is now a Northern Funds Rep. Which allows him to sell mutual funds. He taught Sunday school this past winter and spring, but I think is going to take a break and find other avenues of interest for him.

I am still pulling triple duty, working at St. Andrew, and with my Dad & brother in the insurance biz and taking care of the family. We are busy people, but really have begun to enjoy the family time we have together. I just finished a class about career changes. It was GREAT! It was a non-credit course for people either wanting to find out what they are really suited to do and people re-entering the professional world and wanting to know where to go. We took both the Myers-Briggs and the Strong Inventory and it was so eye-opening to learn my personality type and to see where my strengths in the business world lie. So my next step is to figure out what the next step actually is. It is just wonderful knowing I have options and that I can truly find my passion. I will begin volunteering with Autism Colorado in a few weeks and I am really looking forward to it. It is one area I think I could excel in. But we'll see, the future is always open!

We are very blessed with what God has given us, good employment, a nice place to live, good friends and family (even the crazy dogs) and mostly each other. Hopefully I won't wait so long before I tend to my blog again!

Below are pictures of things that have happened over that last couple of months. Enjoy!

See ya soon, Melinda

Rocky Mountain National Park

Here are some pictures from a trip I took up to the mountains with Tami and her family. These are of Sprague Lake. We had taken a week long class trip up to the area when we were in sixth grade and I don't think I have been back since! It was like a flashback once we hit the trail! It was a bit cold, but just breathtaking.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking and shopping around Estes Park. All the while the Stanley Hotel was looking over our shoulders! If you have ever seen "The Shining" and don't know- that is where it was filmed. If you haven't seen it, especially if you are a Colorado native- you must see it!

We headed from there to a great BBQ place where Bill, Connor & Punk met up with us as well as the rest of the Eppard clan. It was a beautiful and peaceful day. Thank you Tami for letting me be a part of it!

See ya, Melinda

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another Aunt Comes to town....

Another visit from another wonderful person in our lives! Tami was in town for the past two weeks, taking a break from the renovations going on her her home I suspect! We have been friends for almost 30 years! What a wonderful thing to be able to say about a friend. This past Thursday she treated me to a spa day, including a massage, manis and pedis! Then we had a late, long lunch and she came back for a dinner "date" with Connor. It was a wonderful, relaxing and fun day for us.

Here are some beautiful pictures of Tami and the kids and probably a few of me with the kids as well. I miss having her here and can't wait for my trip across the pond to see how the Europeans live it up!

Thanks for the time Tami, it is always, always treasured!

see ya, Melinda

Aunt Brandy comes to visit!

My dear friend and sorority sister, Brandy came to visit at the end of April! It was so wonderful to see her again! I have missed her dearly and after all she has been through fighting Hodgkin's twice and beating it twice, it made the visit that much more sweet!

Connor fell instantly in love with her, which most people do! And we all had a wonderful time the 3 days she was in town. We visited downtown and she cooked up a mexican feast in my kitchen. We went out to lunches and dinners and had great long talks. We haven't seen each other in about 11 years, but it was like we had never been apart.

It was a fabulous 3 days and there were tears when she left. Mostly from Connor and I. We hope we can make it to Houston to visit her clan very soon!

Thank you for your visit Bran and thank you for your enduring friendship! Love and miss you already!

See ya, Melinda

Sweet baby who???

Here is our sweet baby who is now full on crawling and into EVERYTHING! So we have had to break out the baby gates and pick up the matchbox cars! She has started on small amounts of table foods and had some spagetti! Which she LOVED! That's my girl!

See ya, Mel

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Easter 2009

This Easter was FUN! Regan is crawling (well her version of it anyway) all over! The kids got new outfits and we decorated eggs together. On Sunday I had to work for a few hours and Connor went to 2 hours of Sunday school. Bill and I attended Easter service for the first time in YEARS! And even though we got stuck in the back row of the over flow area in the youth room downstairs, it was still a beautiful service.

After church we came home and had our egg hunt! The EB left both kids books and clothes and Connor got some candy. Then we headed up to my parent's home for a family lunch. We all had a great time talking and goofing around! Regan "tried" to take a nap, but was interrupted by her Uncle Chris who just had to see her! All that was missing was my sister and her family. But we will see them soon!

Hope you had a wonderful and blessed day as well!

See ya, Melinda

Monday, April 20, 2009


We had a late spring storm this past weekend! We got about 2 ft of snow over 2 days. Connor and Abby were loving it! Chase has reached old age and no longer wants to play in the snow, neither do I. So while Regan slept, Bill shoveled and Connor and Abby played, I took pictures!

And I must give a shout out to my pal Molly who helped me through the slideshow process! Thanks Mol, have fun with the playlist!

More blogs to follow!

See ya, Melinda

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Prayer

I was reminded of a song today in church, the song was "The Prayer". Perhaps, best remembered sung by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. The first time I heard the song, I thought, "I need that song, I've got to get it". Several years later now, I finally have the song, downloaded to my iPod and played endlessly. I don't have to worry about scratching the vinyl or wearing out the cassette tape. It is now held, almost eternally, on my iPod.

It is a one year anniversary, if we can look at someones passing in that light, of my brother Jim's transition, home to be with the Lord, the maker/creator and savior. It was an event, of sorts, his death, the viewing, the funeral and his burial. I saw him take his last few breaths that fateful night and that memory plays back in my mind, trying to capture something, a memory or an answer to the inevitable. Saying anything to the contrary, that he went out like a champion would be heresy. He was a fighter to the end. His last breaths, to me, sounded and looked like he was running. Of course, I couldn't' help think of the imagery of the Christian life being a race. There he was, helpless, nothing I could do, an encouraging word seemed out of place, all I did was pray.

I prayed that God would ease his suffering. I prayed that God would comfort ours. I, selfishly prayed that the Lord would give me more days with him. I quietly asked the Lord to give him five weeks, no, five years. I didn't want memories, I wanted the real thing, the real voice, the laughter and the encouragement. Jim was my wing man, my cut man in the ring, always there for me. He never forced anything on me, he only shared. He shared a person and that person was Jesus. Sounds corny at times, a persons name that is taken more in vain than one mentioned in love and compassion. Are you sure Jesus is real, I've been asked. Hard to believe isn't it, Jesus, hey Bill, some said to me, why don't you join that group that goes around chanting, wearing robes and sandals? Despite the remarks and insults, I was drawn to God. Jim was being drawn around the same time. "Consider Jesus", writes the author to Hebrews. Jim considered Him and it turned his life upside down for the better and finally that night, I believe, Jim met Jesus face to face. The greatest part, Jim did not meet a stranger, it was someone he knew. The last conversation Jim had with the Lord, continued when he saw him, but this time, faith was gone, hope wasn't needed any longer, all that remained was love. I don't believe that to make me feel better, that Jim's in a better place now his suffering is past, but I believe it because my searching has led me there. I'm a rebel by nature, I didn't want to submit my will to God. However, the evidence is over whelming. I follow Him. Disbelieving would deny the heart. Two thousand years later the same truth Jesus spoke about is still spoken about today.

If you can listen to the words of this song, My Prayer, and perhaps put it to life, that would be grand. I only hope I can. Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy. The theology professor asked "what's wrong with the world?" He answered, "I am!" I don't say that in self loathing, but I wonder, how I can pray to God with all earnest about my neighbor pray for their sickness, or family, whatever it may be, get in the car, out in traffic and curse the other driver for doing whatever (didn't I just pray for him?). That is a simple illustration, We talked about that and many other life observations, Jim and me, he knew it also. We would discuss it and conclude that indeed, we are sinners, but we are sinning less that we use to. I don't know if that is theologically correct or not, but Paul faced the same battle. Jim, as I do, wanted to be more like Jesus.

I miss those talks we had years ago, we would order a pie, the girls would be off to bed, kinda... (I always wondered if they were listening to our conversations). We would share a bible passage, trying to gain understanding, how to apply it to our lives. Then there was the lunches at Moody, he would introduce me to everyone and eventially I went to the school. Sometimes, we skipped lunch and played basketball. You learn alot about yourself playing basketball, like the praying for your neighbor and driving illustration learning about yourself.

I have listed to the song know for a dozen times, typing as I'm listening, wishing at times, I could sing like Signor Bocelli. It isn't that I want the praise or applause for it, but I want my voice to sound good to the Lord, dang just once. I know the Lord doesn't take that into account, but I want to sound good for Him. I'm sure he wouldn't want me to play Him a song on the piano if I couldn't play. Who knows? The Lord, I believe, wants me to live a life pleasing to Him. The sermon today was about, loving the Lord your God with all you heart, mind and soul and loving others as yourself. Jim did that. I want to do that, God grant me the strength to do it, to persevere and not lose hope. Keeping my thoughts and eyes fixed on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.

I miss you Jim. I know that I will see you again one day.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My 2008..

I have been hearing so much over the past few weeks how glad everyone is that 2008 is over. That the economy sucked and people are losing jobs and that we have lost loved ones. All of that is true, but for me 2008 brought so much more than lost dollars and grief.

I have been thinking a lot about all that I have been given this past year and how blessed I have been. Even through the loss of people we have all loved, I realized how incredibly blessed to have known them for the short time that I did. Our dear beloved Uncle Jimmy passed in March, which was very painful for all of us. And it has been difficult watching Billy mourn someone who meant the world to him. And although I only knew Jim a very brief, but fantastic 9 years, he has and will continue to make a huge impact on my life. And I am not sure that I completely qualify to speak on anothers death, because I have been fortunate enough in my life to lose only one person that caused me to mourn, my Grandmother. But I have not lost a parent or sibling or spouse and I really don't know the deep pain that people who have lost that type of loved one feels, so maybe I don't qualify.

But I have watched my husband deal with the pain of his brother's death and my best friend deal the with the shocking sudden death of her husband and I guess I do feel the pain of their pain. And for that I am glad 2008 is over.

But really 2008 was a miraculous year for me. After years of trying to have another child and facing the painful reality of yet another dream possibly being dashed, I actually did get pregnant in late 2007. I had prayed for 4 years for a daughter, 4 long years. And even though I knew in my heart the baby was a girl, I was still shocked and shaking when the tech told us at the ultrasound! The pregnancy mostly went off without any problems, just the usual being tired, hot all summer long, etc. But unlike with Connor, we are now in a house and could paint the walls of a nursery, heck- this baby actually got WALLS! So I chose red as the main color, which seems quite odd to most people who know me and my long love of pink. But I felt red would suit this baby, it's a bold, strong color and that is what she would be- bold and strong.

When July 28th arrived and I went into surgery, I felt what all women feel in that moment, anxious, excited and very relieved that I would be able to breathe again! Then we had some tense moments when our little Missy wouldn't come out when the doctor requested and her arm broke in the process. All of that was a bit hard, but as Bill and I do, we take it, get as much info as we can and move forward. It was still a miracle, the child who wasn't supposed to be- was. And Regan Jamie Marie entered our lives with as much commotion and red hair as she could.

In the days after, I couldn't tell if it was the narcotics or if something really had changed. As I began to heal and we brought Regan home, I really felt different- really different. I healed from the surgery and Regan's arm did as well, Connor went back to school and Bill went back to work. The DNC was here and the Rockies didn't perform as they had in 2007. But suddenly for the first time in 10 years I felt as if I was awake!

The last 10 years of my life have been difficult, very difficult at times. I am not going to go into all that has happened, but for those of you who know, you know I had changed for the worst in some ways during those years. Suddenly I let fear run everything. I wasn't social anymore and aside from one or 2 friends here in Colorado, I didn't have any real friends. But all of that changed after Regan was born- all of it. Now that is not to say that I didn't have huge blessings come into my life, I did- BIG ones. It began with Chase, then my sweet Billy and my lovey Connor. But I felt like some part of me that I found at 21 had been lost forever. And after having Regan and turning 35, I found her! Older and wiser, but still a bit hot-headed and all Melinda.

And even as I continued to work with my Dad and my brother from home and took care of my little ones, I knew I needed more. We had begun attending a church close to us last March, shortly after Jimmy passed, I think he is the reason we went back to church as a family. I really began to like the church, it is Methodist and having been raised Catholic and married in a non-denominational church, I had no idea what to expect. They have a wonderful welcoming community! The first day we went we received a welcoming bag later that afternoon with a loaf of bread and info about the church- who knew people still did that in this day and age? And in this very white, suburban area! Instantly I felt welcomed. So we kept going throughout the spring and summer and decided that we would like have our baby baptized there. After Regan was born, I joined the Moms group there and met some great women, even a Pi Phi from CSU! Connor was getting involved in the children's program and I began to come out of my shell!

So as we moved into the fall, I began volunteering for things at Connor's school. Another Mom and I plan the 4 parties throughout the year. I also wanted to join the PTCO, but was beginning to stretch myself a little thin. I also thought about working outside the home, even with a 4 month old! I found out our church was looking for a Childcare Coordinator, so I filled out an application and sent in a resume! The interview went very well and I was called and offered a different position, one that initially I was bummed about, because I had wanted the first one, but this second one suited my personality and skills better. So I went back in and talked with them about being the Children's Ministries Assistant. It sounded great, it was close, I could work between the hours that Connor was in school. The only hitch was that I had this gorgeous baby and I would have to find daycare for her. Talk about massive maternal guilt!

So Bill and I began interviewing home daycares and we found one that was absolutely perfect! Her youngest son happened to have been on Connor's baseball team this past year and she has five boys (yes FIVE!) and I had seen her with her boys over the summer and she was always so calm- I would not be so calm. But she has been wonderful! She is right around the corner from us and her kids are all in school, she takes care of a four year old and another baby just a few days older than Regan. I knew she was the perfect fit when I walked in after Regan's first day and saw the two babies on their tummies just staring at each other in wonder! She was so happy to be there!

So I continue to work with my Dad, but also have a new job. I work with a lot of wonderful people. Especially the woman I share an office with, she is my age (well almost!) and has three kids (her oldest is Connor's age and actually played on his t-ball team back when they were 5). Anyway, Lisa and I are similar and she hasn't complained yet about my music choices on my iPod!

My life has done a complete 180 in the last 6 months and even though we are incredibly busy and have to plan in our downtime. I wouldn't trade it! This isn't the life I planned on at 21, but then again I hadn't planned on the curve balls I was thrown either. But out of those curve balls, I have grown up, learned to have compassion for others and found myself again.

And that is why 2008 will always remain my favorite year. Happy New Year friends, I hope your 2009 may turn out to be as exciting and changing as mine has been.

See ya, Melinda