An unforgiving Illness



Sometimes I feel like a terrible daughter.  My mother who raised me the best she could for as long as she could suffered from mental illness. She is a Bi-polar Manic depressive to be exact.

She never wanted to take her medicine. She said she didn’t like the way it made her feel. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be in her shoes. Dealing with something so severe on a daily basis.

At her best my mother was soft spoken and loving. She loved to sing to us her children and she had a beautiful voice to match.

At her worst she thought the devil was trying to kill us and constantly moved us around all through out my childhood. Sometimes she would stay up all night talking to herself, and sleep all day when she had one of her mood swings.

My father  was never around when I was growing up. He is a Vietnam war veteran. I don’t doubt that he and my mother loved each other very much at one time. I have heard that as much hate as you show someone at the end of a relationship there had to be an equal amount of love at some point. They haven’t been together in over twenty years and to this day they are still legally married. So there is that.

I think war is a terrible thing and I wonder how different my life would have been had my father stayed in college instead of going off to fight. Would he still have abandoned us? I assume when he came back he must have been a changed man.

I have to think that it wasn’t just a character flaw and that the drug and alcohol abuse is evidence of that.

I don’t remember him ever being a father figure but my older siblings do. They say he was a really good dad at one time. I wish I had some memories of it. Once my father and mothers relationship ended he stopped coming around completely.

As I grew up my mother who lost her own mother at 12 years of age, was the one who raised us. Even as chaotic as my childhood was, I never doubted her love for us. At around 16 years of age and after moving in and out of my moms home several times it all became to much for me and I left.

11 years later the responsibility for my mother fell to me. I was the only child of six in the state of California who could take care of her. At that point I had children and my mother was rapidly becoming worse over time.

She still refused to take her medicine and her paranoia was ever present. Part of my mother’s illness is having paranoid delusions. This caused her  to throw things away all the time. In fact growing up I literally had no toys or pictures. Everything normal for children or famiy including school was deemed evil. I literally don’t have one picture of my mother and I together.

This made it impossible for me to live with her or subject my children to that. So my only other option was to find her a small studio near my house that she could afford.

It lasted one year before she was asked to leave because of her behavior. This went on for several years. In California the laws for the families of mentally ill are completely flawed.

The doctors would not commit her without her agreement, in a mental health facility because she wasn’t a threat to anyone. They would not tell me anything about her illness. They do however require her to have a payee for her social security disability check she received every month.

Of course I was good enough to be her payee and handle her money for her but I wasn’t allowed to be told what medications she was taking? The system set up for the mentally ill is fundamentally fucked in California. There is no safety net set up for them and my mother fell through the cracks.

After three and half years and moving her three separate times my mother was on the verge of a complete mental break down. I didn’t know how to help her anymore. Her health was rapidly deteriorating due to the high anxiety from her dilusions. Sometimes she would see things. Scary things. She would never tell me exactly what she saw but the fear she would show told me it was bad.

Finally my sister offered to take her out to Utah where she lived. The week before my mother left I stopped by to check on her. She was in a terrible state and whatever she was seeing scared her half to death. For the first time ever she begged me to take her to the mental health facility that for years she had refused.

A week later my younger brother arrived to get her. Of she course she was still in that place and was due to be released the next morning.

When I picked her up she was a mess but glad to be going to live with my sister and her boyfriend. All she ever wanted was to live with me and my family. As sad as it is, I couldn’t give in. I refused to let my children be subjected to what I was growing up. I was relieved and happy for her that she was finally getting what she wanted.

Six months later my sister called me and said my mom had left and she didn’t want her back. She was way to much to handle. She had stopped taking her medicine and started throwing everything out again. It was understandable. There was no way I could live with her myself.

Luckily my oldest brother stepped in and got her in to a facility in Utah. Surprisingly Utah does have a safety net for those with mental illness. She lives in a place that employs a full time staff. Her social security check covers most of the costs. She takes her medicine regularly for the first time in years.

I hadn’t talk to my mother in 8 months. I am terrible daughter. As soon as she was safe I went on with my life and didn’t even so much as ask about her. The truth is it’s to painful to think about.

Sometimes as selfish as it sounds I wish I could forget my entire childhood. My mother whom I love dearly is a constant reminder of that.

Her mental illness even with medication will never make her “normal”. She has set backs all the time. Today my brother went to see my mother and called me for her. She sounded drugged up but we had our first normal conversation in years.

When I asked her where she was she wasn’t sure. She had fallen and cut her chin open and she thinks she had 18 stitches. She thinks?

My heart broke just hearing that. How selfish am I? I haven’t asked about her. She’s been stuck alone in some facility I have never been to and I haven’t even checked on her.

Of course my brother is there for her but I am still her daughter. I should be there for her especially when she can’t be there for herself.

I once received a picture of my mother from when she was around 16 or 17 years old from one of her relatives. She was living with her older sister at the time, my aunt. It was the 1960’s and she was standing in one leg of a pair of men’s striped pajama pants. She was so tiny and had a mischievous look in her eye. She looked like she was quite a character.

I wish I could have known that version of her. Unfortunately her mental illness kicked in soon after I was born when she was 33 years of age. So I have no memories of her in a normal frame of mind.

I use try and imagine how she would have been had she been normal when I was growing up. Its hard for me but I imagine she would have been a lot like I am now.

Two weeks ago I turned 32 years old. I am not far off from my mothers age when her symptoms first kicked in. Talking to my mother today reminded me that she is still here and that I still have the chance to become the daughter I would wish I had, if I was in her situation. It’s not to late to be the daughter I should. It’s never to late to stop the regrets before they start.


For my mother, who despite all the terrible traumas she has faced in an unforgiving world never gave up on her children

Why Do Some Women Expect Less?


Why do we as women sometimes learn to expect less from our relationships? If you expect less that’s what you will get is less. Lately I have been noticing a common link in some of my friends relationships.

They are willing to overlook some major red flags and continue down what seems to me, a destructive path. All of this is none of my business of course, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering why.

First I should point out my own relationship is not perfect. We have our moments for sure, but never for a second will I ever worry about who my husband has been with. Nor will I have rumors constantly surrounding us about his alleged infidelity.

To put it mildly where there’s smoke there’s fire.  My own relationship is built on mutual trust. If it wasn’t, it sure as hell would have been a tumultuous last 9 years.

I refuse to accept less. Its all or nothing for me. Sometimes even when we know something is true, we refuse to see it for what it is. It hurts too much. The problem with ignoring certain aspects of our partners is that it can come back to bite us in the ass, when we least expect it.
Sure there’s some things I ignore in my partner. Like farting in bed and his sometimes so smart he’s almost arrogant (know it all) manner.

Those for me, are worth overlooking because of the bigger picture. He loves me. He is a great father. He is so smart. He’s funny and kind. He’s trustworthy.  He’s honest. He can be sweet when least expected and he’s great in bed (when he’s not farting). He also takes amazing care of his family.

To me those are the things that matter most. Without trust though, non of those other things matter at all. At least for me. I couldn’t continue in a relationship unless I knew without a shadow of a doubt my partner is completely devoted to me, and me alone.

Doubts in a relationship are poison.  You can ignore them but they keep coming back. Seeping in to your thoughts poisoning them all. This kind of stress ruins people. I couldn’t live like that, let alone build a relationship on that.

I put my all into all that I do. I expect the same in return. Loyalty in all things. There is no relationship on earth worth holding onto without it.
I hate to see anyone of my friends suffer in a relationship like that.

The fact is they chose to overlook it, and by default chose the consequences that come with overlooking something of that magnitude.

I guess sometimes it takes witnessing other people’s relationship issues to realize just how special your own relationship is. Not to mention how good it makes my husband look. I’m not going to tell him though, it might add to his sometimes arrogant manner.

Light Up The Darkness


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“Sometimes god removes people from your life. Don’t run after them.”

~ Unknown

I read that quote the other day. For me at that moment it rang true. I don’t get why some of us hold on so tight to the people, places, and things that are so unhealthy for us?

Why are we so fundamentally flawed as human beings? Why can’t we see what’s right in front of our face? Why do we get so defensive when others try to point it out for us?

Recently I witnessed the harsh realities of addiction, and the effects it has on the children caught in the crossfire.

It was a Saturday afternoon when my husband got the text. A friend of ours was expressing suicidal thoughts via text message to a mutual friend. She had also mentioned ending the life of her four year old child who was by her side.

When you hear a thing like that, you know something needs to be done immediately. She was staying at a motel in town, but wouldn’t tell anyone where.

It took me 25 minutes to talk her into telling us where she was. She finally caved when I told her my husband and I where in the area, and just wanted to stop by to bring her, and her son some food.

When we got there the room was in disarray and she was acting like nothing had happened. There where trash bags of clothes everywhere. Her four year old was sitting in his own urine. The room stunk like cigarettes, and her face was a mess of scars from picking at it.

As I looked around the room in utter dismay, I thought about how lucky I was she had actually told me where they were.

She didn’t need to tell me what was wrong. We both knew. Only drug addiction can ruin someone this fast.

This women who less then a year ago had kept one of the cleanest houses I had ever seen, (before she lost it, and everything else) was now living in a pig sty, drug infested motel that was only paid up until the following day. She couldn’t even look me in the eye she was so high.

I asked if she minded me taking her four year old to the pumpkin patch and  later to my house. I told her I would bring him back the next day.

I lied right to her face.

She  packed me a bag full of clothes as if she expected me not to bring him back.  At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with a four year old little boy, but I knew I couldn’t leave him there, in that place.

The irony of the entire situation was that I had stayed directly below that room with my own family as a kid for a few months. Growing up my father was never around, and my mother suffered from mental illness. We struggled throughout my entire childhood. In some instances we were homeless and stayed wherever we could. Including that motel which is used by the county to house homeless families. It is a wretched, awful, disgusting place no child should ever call home.

Before we left, my husband and I tried to convince my old friend to get help. This wasn’t the first time she threatened suicide, and honestly I dont think it will be the last unless she gets the help she needs.

You might be wondering why I didn’t call the police on her once I got there. The truth is my only concern was getting the child out of that place and away to safety. As it was all of our pleading and warnings fell on deaf ears, but it reminded me just how blind we can be to our own tragedys.

On the way home we stopped, and bought the little guy an outfit to change into that didn’t smell of cigarette butts. We asked if he wanted to come home with us to stay for awhile, and he said yes so fast it broke my heart.

Once there I cleaned him up, and let him play with my girls. Eventually I got ahold of a relative, and explained the situation. Later that night, he left my house in the arms of a very loving and safe family member.

I’m not sure how his life will be going forward, I only hope it gets better for him, and stays that way.

The phone call to his mother, was not pleasent. At the same time as angry as she is, I hope she understands one day why I did what I did. In her right mind my friend would have never said those things, let alone kept her child in a place like that. I did not know this person, and I refuse to turn a blind eye to the suffering of a child.

Part of being a good friend, is not cosigning their bullshit. I hope she gets the help she needs. This life is very short, and is a gift when lived right. I prey she doesn’t waste it any longer.

As for me, I realized that day that I could no longer continue to chase after anyone on that path. You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.  No matter how hard you try. All you can hope is that your own light is bright enough to show them the way back home when their ready.



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Choices is what life is all about. We make choices from the moment we wake up till the moment we go to sleep. Sometimes they are little ones and before we know it years have gone by, and what started as little choices turn into huge regrets that you can never take back. That’s the problem with bad choices; you have to live with the wreckage.

I personally still deal with my own wreckage from the bad choices I made many years ago. I’m lucky enough to have  the chance to atone for my terrible decisions I made so long ago.

Recently I have had to watch a person who means the world to me slip back into that awful cycle of drug abuse and it’s all I can do to not go running to try and save them. The truth is you can’t save someone from themselves.
It all goes back to free will.

When I think about all the things I want to say to this person it’s out of pure concern for them. Not just their own well being but all the friends and family that care for them and are effected by those bad choices.

The one thing I have learned about regrets is that my biggest one’s in this life, are the ones that affected those I care for.

Since I have changed my life all those years ago I can honestly say I have no regrets now. My life is my own. I am not that lost, hopeless person I once was. I have purpose and meaning in my life today. It took a lot of work to get that far, and I’m not finished yet.

When I look back on those lonely days I spent filling the void inside myself with drugs I feel so blessed that I found the strength to change my circumstances. It really is your own choice what you become in this life.

My greatest joy today is my family. I get to be present in each moment that passes in my children’s lives. There is no drug around that could top the fierce pride I get from watching my children’s milestones. Some things can never be replaced.

Parenting done well, is a selfless act. The choice to give life must be honored. I’m not a perfect mother. I have my moments where my kids drive me crazy like everyone else. I am still working on it, and that’s okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that. You get back what you put in.

My advice to anyone in that situation is to figure out what it is you want out of life, and set the goals you will need to succeed. Even if it means you have to start your life from scratch. Build it back up piece by piece. One fucking day at a time. One fucking brick at a time. One fucking breath at a time.

I should add forgiveness as well. Not just for those you feel have wronged you but for yourself. You can’t move forward if you can’t get over the past. People make mistakes. That’s what we do. What separates us from the rest is how we learn from those mistakes.

In the song Stairway To Heaven by Led Zepplin their is a lyric that says “Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on”  I find this brilliant in its simplicity. It sums up exactly how I feel about having regrets and recovering from them. We hold the power to stop making bad choices in our lives.

To me life is beautiful and ever changing. The choices we make today ripple through time and memory, and help shape our tomorrow.  The void I once filled with drugs is now filled with laughter, love, family vacations, bed time stories and so much more. And it all started with one brave choice…

Death Of A Flower



                            Part 1

I saw Amy standing there. Alone. In

front of her old farm house. Just the way I left her the last time I saw her. It was dark but I could make out her form in the silver light of the moon.

She looked just as beautiful as I remember. Thick, long, straight dark brown hair, perfectly framing her slender oval looking face.  Her large almond shaped, amber colored eyes seemed to stare right through me.

Welcoming me.

With a hint of a smile and a wave of a hand she beckoned me to her. Just like when we were kids, and I would show up at her house and ask her parents if she could play.

She would always stand at the top of the stairs, with that look of mischief in her eyes. As if to say, what kind of trouble shall we get into today?

 I couldn’t help it I got so excited to see her I ran straight for her. Only the harder I ran the farther away she seemed to get. Always with that same hauntingly beautiful smile.

Finally I stopped as I felt the sting of hot tears hit my eyes. Why couldn’t I catch up to her? When I stopped she stopped.

We both just stood there staring at each other with tears in our eyes.  Suddenly I was under water. My lungs were burning and I couldn’t move. I looked over, Amy was there next to me.

We were stuck in a car that was plummeting into nothingness. My head hurt. The whole car was full of water and the doors wouldn’t open. The numbers 523 kept flashing inside my mind.

When I looked over at Amy I could see the smile was gone and in its place was sheer and utter terror. That’s when it hit me. We’re going to die. This is how Amy died!

I screamed a long silent scream and just like that I woke up. The scream which turned out wasn’t so silent, died in my throat. I was back in my room. Back in my bed. Shaking like a leaf. It felt so real. Why did it feel so real?

I looked at the clock. It was 3 am and I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep tonight. I never can after I dream about her…

The next day I drove straight to Amy’s house. It was empty now. Her parents had packed up and left town just shortly after her funeral, four years earlier. It looked just how it did in my dream last night.

A small shiver went slowly down my spine. Was it all in my head or do my lungs really hurt?

I shook the feeling aside and started to walk around the old farm house. Looking for what, I didn’t know.

I began to remember the last time I dropped Amy off here. We had just went shopping for our senior prom, and we were supposed to meet back up the next afternoon at our favorite diner.

I remember being so mad at her, when she didn’t show up that Saturday night. She wasn’t answering her phone either. Something that wasn’t entirely out of character for her. I finally ordered and ate alone. Sitting there all I could think about was how I was going to tell her off good the next time I saw her.

The following day I got the call. Amy never came home that afternoon, or the following morning. She was gone forever. Ripped from our lives with no notice. She was nation wide news for weeks. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about her. She was famous but in the most awful way imaginable. 

 It was an agonizing three weeks before they finally found her inside her car at the bottom of the lake. They classified her death accidental. They think she lost control of the car while on the interstate and knocked herself unconscious on the steering wheel, causing her to veer off the road into the Icy lake below.

They say she never regained consciousness. That she didn’t feel any pain.

It was hard to believe. It all happened so suddenly. And of course there was the nightmares. 

I had been having the same recurring nightmares since the day she went missing. I had no idea why or what they meant. Maybe this is my mind’s way of dealing with the tragic events surrounding Amy’s death I thought.

Maybe it’s just the guilt I feel for living while she’s lying in coffin for all eternity after such a horrific end to her very short life.

No matter how hard I try though, I can’t shake the feeling there’s more to Amy’s death then what we know. I don’t know how I know. I just do.  

                          Part 2

Weeks had passed with no nightmares. Was I just imagining the whole thing? That night I decided if I had another dream I would find someone to talk to about it.

After dinner I went upstairs to get ready for bed. As I was walking into my room I noticed a picture of Amy and I had fallen of the wall and where her face was I noticed a good size crack as if someone had punched it. I picked it up and placed it on the dresser, as I turned I did a double take.

Standing about five feet behind me was Amy. She was dripping wet and looked angry. I wasn’t sure what it was, but she was holding something in her hands. A piece of shiny white medal. When I looked closer I noticed it read Ohio birthplace of aviation. I knew what it was. I had seen it a thousand times before. It was the Ohio state license plate. What it meant I still didn’t know.

Just then Amy lunged for me and grabbed my arm. I could feel her cold, wet hands digging into my wrist and just like that my whole room vanished.

In its place was the inside of a huge truck except it wasn’t one I recognized. It was old and smelled of rust. I noticed a bottle of Jim Beam whiskey was lying on the seat next to me with half the contents gone. Again the numbers 523 were flashing in my mind’s eye. I looked to my left and noticed a man I had never seen before. It looked as though he had no idea I was in the truck.

He was middle aged with dark hair, brown eyes and a wide crooked nose. The stubble on his face told me he hadn’t shaved in awhile. The speedometer told me we were going way to fast. Faster than any truck this old should ever go.

The road was quiet. Not a car in sight. The slight back and forth movement of the truck warned of the impending danger. A few seconds later in the distance in front of us I noticed headlights. As the car got closer I recognized it as Amy’s little Honda Accord.  Just as we got close the driver of the truck I was in lost control and swerved into the oncoming traffic lane next to us, causing Amy’s vehicle to swerve to avoid it, and off the road into the water below.

Immediately after that I was back in my room and Amy was gone. The sound of my phone ringing broke the eerie silence that had settled over the room. It was my mom telling me to turn on the t.v. and find the local news station. She said she loved me, and she was on her way home.

Not knowing what I was looking for I flipped the channels impatiently. Within seconds I found what I was looking for. My stomach dropped. There on a split screen under the words breaking news was a picture of Amy, and a close up picture of the man I just saw in my vision, standing next to the front of a rusty looking truck, with a license plate that read Ohio: birthplace of aviation. The first three plate numbers were 523. Immediately a cold chill ran through my entire body. I knew then what those numbers meant. I wasn’t crazy. It was all real!

The news story went on to say that there had been a break in the case when a man came in to the police station earlier that day confessing to causing the accident that killed Amy. He had been drinking heavily that night four years earlier, and that was the reason he didn’t stop. He claimed to have been haunted by terrible nightmares of the accident and the girl inside the car. The police arrested him on the spot and charged him with vehicular manslaughter.

He would be punished and the world would know the truth of Amy’s death. I knew it was over. I could breath again.

The next day as I got out of the car and walked down the path to the old farm house for the very last time I felt a peaceful feeling come over me. I took the wildflowers I had in my hand and laid them in the exact spot I last saw her alive. I felt a soft breeze come up from behind me and watched it gently blow the flowers away.

Wild and free I thought, just like my Amy…


Three Freedoms To Look Forward To when Your Youngest Starts School


The first day of school for your little one can be quite daunting to say the least. My youngest is coming up on her first day of full day kindergarten. Once she starts school, it will be the first time my little girl has been away from me for that many hours a day, ever. The closer that day gets, the more my excitement anxiety builds.

Currently I am a stay at home mother of two very entertaining little girls who always keep me on my toes. My youngest is four going on fourteen. She’s fairly independent. Most of the time.

She has for the most part, only been around our family since she was born; because of this, her first day of kindergarten camp did not go over well.

When we got to her class that morning my girl looked up at me with her serious face and said “You are not leaving me here!”  I explained to her in my calmest voice “Everyone goes to school, and now its your turn. I need you to be a big girl like your sister, until I get back to pick you up okay?” she began to cry and literally was clinging to my leg for dear life as I was trying to get out the door. They had to hold her back when I finally did leave.

Apparently it was not okay.

Eventually she acclimated to her new surroundings and by the end of the week was a completely different kid when it came to school.

Later after first doing a little victory dance in my kitchen (hey I have been consecutively taking care of two kids, 24 hours a day for 8 years straight!) I started thinking about all the freedoms that come with having all school age children.

Here are my top 3…

1. Free Time…

Okay, so maybe that’s not full fledged freedom, but free time is the kind of freedom that a parent who has been taking care of at least one child for years can appreciate.

Of course if you are a stay at home mom, you will have time for that book you have been meaning to read, or that class you have always wanted to take.

There are even more simple luxuries like; being able to use the restroom in peace without the added commentating of “it stinks in here” and my favorite “are you done yet?”

You can also take a shower all by yourself without the twenty questions that must have an answer as soon as you decide to get in like; “What’s that?” And then the follow up question of “Why doesn’t daddy have those?”

Now that’s freedom people!

2. Peace and quiet

Peace and quiet at home is a foreign concept to most parents, but for me, a stay at home mom, the concept is especially frightening. It sounds sweet really, but in the back of my mind deep questions like these lurk:

What is peace and quiet for such a long period of time feel like? Will it hurt? Will I be bored out of mind after the first day? What will I do without the constant barrage of simple statements and mundane questions like: “I’m hungry! Will you make me pancakes?” (at 2:30 in the afternoon) or “I went poop, come look!” peppered throughout my day?

I find it odd that kids that age get so proud of their poop. I don’t even want to see my own let alone someone else’s, but you do what you must as a parent. Whatever floats their boat right?

3. Having both your children on the same schedule

For me this is one of the best parts of raising all school age children. Now they both will be home at the same time, in school at the same time, and eventually doing homework at the same time. I dont know about you, but for me that’s a win win in my eyes.

Eventually our kids will grow older, and need us less. We will look back longingly on those days when they were solely dependent on us to get their daily needs met, and remember our now seemingly foolish excitement for them to grow up, and be more independent.

For now though, I will take whatever simple freedom(s) I can get, and maybe a few more…

Family: One Mothers Evolution


Growing up I didn’t have an ideal childhood. My father wasn’t around and my mother suffered from mental illness. We didn’t have much money and we moved around a lot. Years later when I became a mother to my own children, I realized I had very few normal past childhood experiences to gauge my own parenting abilities on. It was like starting from scratch. Almost.

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My hot stuff and I looking hot n stuff

I was lucky enough to have an awesome man in my life who had a wonderful childhood and a very loving family, so I wasn’t completely stuck.

 I was blessed that his parents who are the salt of the earth kind of people, welcomed me in to their family almost immediately and never looked back. They have shown me the true meaning of family.

Im sure the first couple years my mother in law (who is a christmas specialist) was ringing her hands around Christmas time. I would get off work to find her and my daughter decorating a tree (her own) in my house a couple weeks before christmas.

She must have found it odd, my seemingly lack of interest in Christmas; especially because I was a mother to a small child.  For me it wasn’t so much a lack of interest, it was more a lack of experience.

I didn’t even know how to wrap a present until last year, when my husband refused to be my wrapping go to guy for Christmas and birthdays (that man can wrap a present like nobody’s business!)

Apparently my plan to wait till the last minute so he had to help (or I would never finish) wasn’t going to work anymore. I like to say: you’ll know your presents from me if it looks like it’s been kick down the street 😉


Exhibit A: present wrapping at it’s finest

It took some time but I now am a huge fan of camping trips, family vacations and of course holidays, thanks to them.

Especially Thanksgiving. I love eating massive amounts of turkey and then skimming through all the sales papers so I can plot out my routine Black Friday (Thursday) shopping trip. They have shown me the ways of a Black Friday Jedi Warrior.


The Black Friday Mishap Of 2014

Except for last years fail, I think they are quite proud of my growing expertise. One year I got 15 towels for 22$! Who cares if they were brown, beige, and avocado colored? Money well spent in my eyes.

You can never have enough towels when you have kids!

From chaotic family campouts to hectic holidays, it’s all the little moments with my family that make my life what it is today.