Amy ~ Beloved

my third child,
second daughter,
born right smack in the middle of my five children,
and forever will be,

Amy's name means
dearly loved.
The name is derived from the Latin amatus which means loved.

Amy was born five days after my twenty-ninth birthday.  She arrived via a frank breech birth three weeks after her expected birthdate which was February 14.  She recently said that I must not have enjoyed that twenty-ninth birthday much since I was long past my expected due date when her birth finally took place.  I don't remember not enjoying that birthday.  I only remember the joy I felt with the gift I was given five days later:  a beautiful baby girl.  That is why I chose the name for her that I did.

Amy, the one in the middle, had a hard role to play as a child. Born five and half years after her older brother, and four years after her older sister Keicha, she spent much of her younger years striving to be a part of the established sibling relationship between her two older siblings.  

She was the oldest of the three youngest.  There is less than a five year span between the three younger siblings.  Much of the time, Amy did not want to be in this group.  She wanted to be in the older group.  Since Amy, Julie and Jonathan were born in that span of a bit less than five years, Amy didn't get to be the baby very long.  She was the middle child from her earliest days.  

This dynamic in the birth order helped to create the woman that is Amy.  

She is a people person.
People love her.
That thousand watt smile of her's lights up every room she enters.

She is able to bring people together.
As I went through family photos, I was surprised to find how few photos I have of just Amy.
That is because she is always in the midst of her siblings, her cousins, her children.
(Well that, and she won't let me take her picture.)

Amy is easy to love.
She laughs easily.

I love this photo I snapped years ago when her daughter Hannah was just a baby because it captures Amy's love of whimsy, her easy laugh, and her joy at being a mom.

She cries just as easily as she laughs when things touch her heart.
Her heart is easily touched.
She can be tough,
but she also has the tenderest of hearts.

I'll be honest, it is not easy for me to write about Amy.
Too many people have called her my mini me.
She isn't really like me in many, many ways, but people say we look alike.  (I don't see it.)

Amy in the coat I wore when she was a baby.
Believe me, I never looked this good!
We have the same mannerisms, and she hates it.  
We sometimes see mirror images of ourselves in the other in the way we speak our body language.
That drives her crazy!
It makes me laugh with joy.
It is never a good thing to remind people of your mom.
That is a hard burden to put on any woman.

It is hard for me to write about Amy because of the deep bond we share.
We've had our share of very difficult mother/daughter conflicts.
Amy knows her own mind.
I know my own mind.
Amy is strong willed.
I am strong willed.
That combination made the teenage years difficult.

Just as I knew she would,
Amy successfully launched herself by supporting herself since she was just a teenager.
She married her high school sweetheart in her early twenties.
Together, they launched a successful restaurant.
Amy worked hard during those years waiting tables, keeping the books, and lending great insight into creating a restaurant that was was a success.
I hope Amy never forgets the key role she paid in the successes this couple had together before their marriage ended a few years ago.

Amy is a private person.
I respect that in her so much.
She is not one to display her trials and griefs for others to see.

There was a time, it doesn't really seem like that long ago, when our birthdays,
Amy and mine, were celebrated with Julie in our midst.

Celebrating our birthdays
Denver, Colorado
Amy and Julie were as close as any two sisters could be.

I can't imagine the heartache that Amy has suffered since Julie has been gone.
As I write a tribute to Amy on her birthday, I want to leave out the part that speaks of pain and loss.
I want us to all go to dinner again and celebrate our birthdays.

A tribute to Amy would be missing a key element if I did not acknowledge what a 
she was to Julie.
She took care of Julie during her hard times more than I will ever know.
Thank you Amy for being there for Julie.
I know she was there for you too.
Together, you two made an awesome sister team.

In many ways, Amy was born to be a mom.
She loves Mason her sixteen year old son as deeply as any mom can love a son.
She has supported him in all of his endeavors and has been that mom cheering in stands for him since his earliest days when he began playing hockey.

Amy & Mason with Buster
Where did those early childhood days go?

It seems Hannah was learning to read with her mom's help just a few years ago.
Now, Hannah at age twelve is taller than her mother and into make-up and making sure her mascara is applied just right.
Amy now gets to experience the trials of being a mom to teenagers.
Warning to her children:
She knows about the teenage years.

Amy, now a single mom, works hard to provide for herself and her children.
I worry and pray as she drive to her job in downtown Denver over icy roads in winter.
I try not to bug her about checking in when she gets home so I won't worry.
She is a valued employee in the human resources department of the company for which she works.
She is again working on her running after an ACL injury.
She bought herself a bike and is biking when she can.
Amy is an overcomer.
Her toughness comes through when it has to.


Amy, I hope you will always be my sounding board.
I know that isn't always fair to you to be in that position, but honestly, some the best advice I've ever gotten in my life, I gotten from you.
I guess many times I am also your sounding board.

As I wrote in your card this year,
You are much loved.

Together, we have been down roads we never wished we had to go down.
You have been by my side through much that life has thrown at me.
I've been at your side also.
I don't remember the sad and hard times when I think of you.
I remember that smile of yours.
I remember how it brightens my days and lightens my load.
I remember the gift that you have always been to me.

Did you know what your name is in the Urban Dictionary?
It means:
To take, hold, or steal your heart.
You did that on the day you were born.
You stole my heart.
The Urban Dictionary would say,
She pulled an amy on my heart.
My heart was amyied.

If you have the opportunity to meet my daughter,
watch out,
she will amy your heart
(Urban Dictionary phrase)

Amy, my beloved,
thank you for being my daughter.
My life is richly blessed because you are in it.
I love you dearly.
I hope you have a happy birthday.

Birthday Reflections

a time of reflection
a time to explore identity
a time to contemplate the future

Who am I?
I am not a baby boomer.
I was born while the world was at war.

I was born during a time when there was much uncertainty in the world.  My father, drafted into the army at age 29, left for his initial processing into the service the day I was born.  My father did not see me during the first year of my birth.  My mother cared for me and my brother by herself during this difficult time.  I treasure the photo snapped of the four of us on the occasion of my father's homecoming.  We celebrated Christmas in February that year because that is when he came home. 

 Who am I?
I like to identify with my Welsh ancestry the most.
I was born the day before St. David Day.  St. David was the patron saint of Wales.
Photo taken in Keukenhof, Holland
May 2010

When I think of my birthday, I think of daffodils.  Sometimes they are poking their heads out of the recently frozen earth on my birthday; other years, they are not.  Daffodils, the symbol of rebirth and new beginnings, are nearly always given to me by one or more of my children on my birthday.  (Click for last year's birthday blog post.) Each year I look forward to my first bouquet of these flowers that I have long claimed as my symbol.  I look forward to the reminder that spring is coming, winter is nearly over, and the rebirth of those long dormant flowers and trees will soon be seen.  I love these flowers because remind me to never give up hope.

Who am I?
I am a mom.
The greatest gifts I've ever received were not given to me on my birthday.
My five greatest gifts were and are my children.

The night before my birthday, my husband gave me a gift certificate to have my nails done a fancy spa.  He brought home a beautiful cake which we ate from the daffodil plates I display for Easter.  We celebrated early because I decided I wanted to celebrate my birthday with my daughter Amy.  I got up early, packed my bags, and headed north to her house.  We had lunch.  She made me a wonderful dinner of her new healthy taco salad.  She provided a yummy carrot cake for dessert.  She gave me a bouquet of daffodils buds.  She could not find any bouquets in bloom.   

Who am I?
I am a gardener.
I love to tend to my flowers. 
I learn lessons on life from the garden.

Was this bouquet a reminder of life?  Sometimes, the flower we are has not fully bloomed.  Sometimes, we are buried under six inches of earth that is still frozen.  

The gardener plants bulbs with great faith in the fall.  The gardener does not have the reward of seeing the beauty the bulbs bring until spring.  The bulbs are protected even in this frigid environment during those long, dark, cold, dreary winter days.  Once those days are over, the bulbs cannot help but break through the earth, grow, and bloom.  Even those bouquets that are picked too early, and cooled so they will not bloom before the public sees them, will bloom.  They will bloom because that is who they are.  They are daffodils.  

This morning, when I first got up, I was blessed by a beautiful sight.
Given a little warmth, the daffodil buds were beginning to open up and bloom.
I will remember this bouquet for a long time.
I will remember it as a reminder that after long winters of darkness,
the soul longs to bloom.
Sometimes, a bouquet is gathered too early, but that doesn't mean those buds won't bring beauty.
Thank you Amy, my beloved, for this special birthday gift.
May you always continue to grow and to bloom.
We all need an extra dose of love, warmth, and support in our lives to be fully who we are.
Thank you for being that special someone to me so many times in my life.
So many times, you have had the perfect word for me when I needed it most.
So many times, you have supported me when I needed it most.
So many times your wisdom spoke to me when no one else seemed to have the wisdom I needed.
You truly are my beloved.
Your name, Amy, beloved, fits you perfectly.
Thank you for letting me be that special someone to you.
I will always be here for you.

I love you.

Birthday Wishes to My Daughter Amy

Our birthday celebrations are usually linked together because they both fall within a week of each other.
I will miss not being there with you this year.

Amy, or as your name means,
I don't know what I would do without you.
You are the one who talks straight to me.
You are the one who always gives me the best advice.
Others call her you my mini-me.
Yes, of all my children, 
Amy is the one who is so much like me that it sometimes makes it hard on both of us.

Amy's birthday, 2010
Hannah, Amy, Mason

We've been through a lot together, dear Amy.
I hope you know
your smile absolutely lights up my life.
Your tears break my heart.

In my treasure trove of photos,
you seem to always be smiling.

You always have your arm around someone.
Mother's Day 2009

With Mason

With daughter and niece
Hannah, Amy, Regan

With nephew
Amy & Parker

You're the one who bakes the cakes or the pies for celebrations.
You are always a gracious hostess,
and a gracious guest.
You are caring and loyal to others.

Hannah's Peace Birthday Cake

Julie's birthday cake

You're the one who loves to go out and kick up her heels.
You always win at Trivia Pursuit.
Your fun personality makes you a welcome addition to any social gathering.

Mom, Amy, Keicha, Julie

You are an awesome mom who loves your kids like crazy.

With Hannah

Your courage and determination have inspired me over the last few years.
You are a strong, competent young woman.
You have had to survive great loss,
yet, you've been able to keep your head up, smile,  and keep on going.

You excel at each of these roles.

I am blessed to have you as my daughter.
You mean so much to me.
Thanks, Amy, for being there for me.
Thanks for being you.
I love you.


Where Does the Time Go? Another Birthday Rolls Around

Cousins & Siblings
Rell, Donna, Sally, David, Carol, Linda, Diana

It seems like not that long ago that this photo was snapped.  I marvel to think that it has been sixty years since we gathered in my aunt's kitchen to celebrate my cousin Donna's birthday. Since her birthday is only 11 days after mine, I can be seen wearing my new birthday dress.  I am the third person on the left.

The faces in photo are all so dear to me.  They speak of such happy and carefree childhood times.
Truly, I am amazed that those days are so far in the past, and that I have just reached the age of sixty-seven.

A Birthday to Celebrate

Late last week, my husband told me he had made reservations for a birthday brunch for Sunday.  "I know it is a few days early, but we will be busy on your birthday, so I wanted to make sure we had a nice brunch," he said.  I thought that seemed thoughtful and reasonable.  On Sunday, two hours before we needed to leave, he suggested I get in the shower and get ready because he wanted to go earlier than he had first said.  I thought nothing of it, but decided to accommodate his request.  When I was ready, uncharacteristically, he wasn't ready and needed to do a few more things on the computer.  Again, I thought nothing of it.  So, to pass the time, I called my oldest daughter to chat.  She seemed surprised to hear from me.  Again, not thought was given to this.  

As I was talking, the door bell rang.  "Who can that be?"  I asked my daughter.  My husband made no movement toward going downstairs to get the door.  So, I went down to open the door and gazed out to see an attractive, young, dark-haired woman holding flowers and a cake.  To myself, I said, "Who delivers flowers and a cake on a Sunday, two days before my birthday?"  Then the woman said, "Happy Birthday, Mom."

Truly, I had no idea.  I didn't even recognize Amy!  Her hair was darker, she had her head slightly turned, and I absolutely did not have a clue that she would make a surprise visit.  I grabbed her in a hug and started to sob.  I was so happy to see her.  I have missed my kids so much lately.

Amy with birthday flowers
As is Amy's norm, she showed up with flowers.  As is the tradition, she brought daffodils mixed into my birthday bouquet.  I really can't remember a birthday for the last 15 or 20 years where either Amy or Julie, or both, sent or brought me daffodils.  They are my favorite flowers.

I had to beg for photos.  She "hates" to have her picture taken.

Amy arranging my flowers
Truly, I was overjoyed to see Amy.  She made my day for sure.  Boston was just as overjoyed.  
I cried.  
I hugged.
Boston lept in the air, barked, whined, and wagged his tail.
I know just how he felt.

Amy and Boston

So, I guess my husband and my daughter had been in cahoots. They planned my surprise.  Amy wanted to come down for the weekend.  She didn't have her kids that weekend, it was my birthday, and we always try to watch the Academy Awards together, even if it has to be done by phone.  After Boston and I settled down, and the flowers were arranged, we went to Sunday Brunch at Coyote Grille. This place is one of my favorites.  We had a wonderful meal, and a wonderful time together.  

*I featured Coyote Grill in this blog post a year ago.  

We came home and ate the scrumptious birthday cake that Amy brought.

My hubby sang "Happy birthday" to me before we cut the cake.

He always brings a smile to my face.

Happy birthday serenade

On my actual birthday, Tuesday, February 28th, my hubby drove me to Castle Rock, Colorado for my second appointment with the vestibular therapist that I have been seeing.  Before we left, he had a beautifully wrapped gift, as sweet card, and another cake sitting on the breakfast table when I got up that morning.  I loved the wrapping!  I loved the contents:  a nice new knit top and some beautiful, chunky blue beads.  

My appointment went well.  I have greatly improved since my last visit.  That was very encouraging.  The exercises, and time, are probably working well together.

After lunch, we went to lunch at Augustine's in Castle Rock.  I loved this cute little place.  Using his cell phone, Jim snapped my birthday photo.  I wearing my new knit top and necklace.  

We both ordered Salad Nicoise with ahi tuna.
I loved the ambiance of the restaurant, the salad, not so much.

At least we had cake to look forward to at home.
Not like I needed another cake, but my husband had ordered it before he knew Amy was bringing one.
What are birthdays for anyway?  Isn't all about cake?  
This is my favorite kind of cake:  carrot cake.

The day was made very special by many facebook greeting, cards, and phone calls from my family, and flowers.  I have flowers in every room on the first floor.

This beautiful purple rose arrangement is from my son Jon and his family.

This beautiful arrangement is from the family of my son Ryan.

Thank you to all who made my day so special!


On the day after my birthday, Leap Day, I continued to celebrate.  I had coffee early in the morning with a dear friend from high school days.  Iris suggested that we go to Colorado Springs that evening to go to the movie.  Of course, I jumped at the chance.  We went to see "The Artist." 

Right away, I found myself thinking that the film was just delightful.  I also thought it was refreshing.  I really did enjoy everything about the movie.  It was uplifting, light, and unique.   In my opinion, Berenice Bejo, made the film what it is.  I was fascinated by her.  I don't know why she didn't get any nominations.  I loved her smile, her hair, her clothes, her cute little moves, and her ability to dance.  Jean Dujardin did a great job.  I like his characterization of a silent film star who was on his way out, but I'm still not sure that he deserved best actor.  I still have to see George Clooney in his film to make that determination for myself.

After dinner, Iris and I walked downtown to grab some dinner and then headed back to Pueblo ending a wonderful birthday celebration that lasted several days.

One last thing.  I also got my CPAP machine yesterday.  It turns out, I have sleep apnea.  See, good thing come from bad things.  I doubt this would have been discovered without the fall and subsequent referrals to an ear, nose and throat specialist.  I successfully slept with my new machine last night.  I woke up much refreshed and have seemed experience a decrease in my racing heart and heart palpitations today.  Time will tell...

New Beginnings are Full of Both Hope and Sadness

Thanksgiving Day was a lovely celebration made very special by my daughter Amy.  In years past, Amy has either spent Thanksgiving with her former husband's family, in Utah with her father and siblings who live there, or in Pueblo at our house.  She has never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner before by herself.

This year, Amy and I had actually planned on driving to Utah together to spend Thanksgiving with the family, but circumstances and timing caused us to change our plans just days before Thanksgiving.  As she and I discussed what we would do to celebrate the holiday, she insisted that she wanted to cook.  I wasn't going to argue with that.

Thanksgiving has not been a happy holiday for several years.  It has been a trying time for Amy in particular as she has gone through a difficult divorce while she was also coping with the loss of her very best friend and sister, Julie.  Amy and Julie were practically inseparable since their earliest days.  Julie was born just two years after Amy.  They lived within just a few miles of each other for the past ten years.  They even worked at the same place until just before Julie died.  There was not a day that went by where they did not text, talk, or see each other.  I don't know how Amy has carried on, but carry on she has.

I'm so grateful Amy and I had Thanksgiving at her  house.  That house is filled with so many memories.  I barely can write as I think of all the birthdays, Mother's Days, Easters, and Christmas celebrations that we have had at Amy's.  Julie is also front in center in every one of those memories.  She figured very large in every event that Amy every hosted.  So, even though it was hard, so hard, it was a blessing to have Thanksgiving at Amy's.  It also made it a bit easier because Thanksgiving had never been at Amy's before, so there were no memories of Julie being there on Thanksgiving.

The Details

Amy is always so thoughtful.  Whenever I have a dinner at my house, she always brings a bouquet for the table.  I nearly forgot to do the same for her.  
Then, I saw this turkey vase with a fall flower arrangement.
I thought how perfect it would be for her to have this little gift as a reminder of the first 
Thanksgiving feast that ever she cooked.

Hannah is making sure the table is set just right.

The turkey was cooked to perfection.
It was so moist.
Truly, Amy did an excellent job.

She even had to learn how to carve the turkey.

We laughed when Amy heard herself say, "You kids stop eating the vegetables" while they patiently waited for dinner to be done.

Mason was ready to eat, but he agreed to a few photos.

Mom and daughter
My beautiful daughter of whom I am so proud.

 Mason and Hannah, two of beautiful grandchildren, are two of the great blessings of my life.

Jason, Julie's boyfriend, and our dear family friend, joined us for his second 
Thanksgiving meal of the day. 

Mason gave a thumbs up to his mother's cooking.  He said she did an excellent job.
She did.

After dinner, we started a marathon game of poker.  Jason helped Hannah because it was her first time at playing the game.  After just a few hands, she was on her own and winning.  This girl was good!  Grandma was defeated early in the game.  
The game went on for what seemed a lifetime.
I finally went to bed.
I heard Mason won and the game was finally over at sometime after midnight.

Amy will close on her house in the next few weeks.  She will be leaving the only house Hannah has ever lived in.  It will be hard to leave this place.  It has been the family gathering place for all of us many times.  It was where Amy spent many hours with Julie.  Every room is filled with so many memories.  I know how hard it will be for Amy to say good-bye to this place.  Hold her in your heart as she moves forward.

We truly are grateful that Thanksgiving was celebrated well this year.  We had good food, good company, played some fun games, and made great memories.    It also marked an ending and a new beginning.  Life is full of both, and it seems that every ending brings it share of sadness, but this sadness is tempered with great hope for the new beginnings that follow.