Moms are human, too.

I don’t think I come across like I have it all together, but just incase I do, I want to set the record ruler straight. I am, 91% of the time, a hot mess. And by a “hot mess” I mean that if I am not sweating by the time I get into my car in the morning, something is terribly wrong. Or rather, maybe everything is right. Either way. I always keep deodorant in my car.

I wanted to share about my day yesterday because it was an all time low day for me and I personally get strange satisfaction from reading posts similar to this because it makes me feel so much less alone. To put things in perspective, I know that it could have been worse and I know that these kind of days are the thread that unites every mother in the world. My normal right now goes something like this…

6-6:30: Shannon cries for like 10 seconds. And then she stops crying. And then about 10-20 minutes later she wastes no time before screaming like she is skydiving without a parachute. So I run and grab her because I don’t have wake the big boys up until 6:45 and those last lazy minutes are invaluable to me. (Unless of course it is a morning band practice day, or a Friday when Doug has carpool duty. Sorry. I got off track.)

6:40: My alarm clock goes off and I slowly start making moves before, during and after Shannon starts lovingly smacking me in the face to make sure I know she is indeed ready to seize the day.

6:45: I wake up the boys and Danny pops right up. Connor could sleep through an Earthquake. Ironically, he is deathly afraid of natural disasters and he cannot FALL asleep for anything. Anyway. I usually plop baby down on his bed and she transfers her hitting fit to his face, which results in a mini snuggle fest because he will literally only wake up for baby.

6:51: I scurry around the kitchen making Shannon her beloved scrambled eggs with whole milk and begin sorting out what I will make for everyone else.

6:52: I mentally prepare myself for Ryan to join me because the green light on his “Okay to wake!” clock goes on at 6:50AM. (To be fair, today was only the 2nd day in a row that he has actually “slept in”. Prior to that he woke up before 6 and crept into our room every single morning. And we dealt out depressing punishments like “no syrup today because you didn’t make it until the green light” that up until 2 days ago held no weight whatsoever. Still. 2 days in a row. There is hope.)

6:53-7:01: Danny comes down and asks me what he can do to help me. I get lunches for those who bring lunch and set them where they will make it into book bags. I pour cereal, make more eggs, oatmeal, or pop waffles in the toaster, depending on who wants what.

7:01-7:14: Connor blesses us with his presence. I take a lot of deep breaths. We quickly verbalize after school plans, commitments & I offer a reminder for who is picking up carpool. We listen to music and sometimes we dance.

7:15-7:25: Someone takes the kids to school. #bestcarpoolever

7:25-8:30: I chase the littles around and do whatever needs to be done to ensure we don’t violate any health codes at school and somehow get them in the car so that I can drop Ryan to SLDM (MWF), or Peter Panda (TTH) and the girls are either just along for the ride or proceed to Peter Panda (TWTH).

8:30-9:07 (because I usually run late): Drop offs occur and are complete. Let’s stick with a day that everyone is in school to make things a little easier. I drop Ryan at SLDM and then the girls at PP. I go home so that I can try to accomplish work for Mama Said Tees and or CoCo Stine Designs mixed with a little bit of housework/laundry/feeding myself so I don’t faint.

Ok so YESTERDAY when I got home, I felt quite content with my accomplishments thus far and settled in to get some work done. I suffered some pretty serious damages a few days ago because quite frankly there is just too much shit on my computer, and so I was trying to keep my chin up and move on. Colleen B. and I got some very serious work done and by the time I looked at the clock it was 1:39. Time to make a sandwich and hit the road to pickup the girls!

I will spare you details from the time I left my house to picking them up and then getting to SLDM for big kid pickup (which I only have 2 days a week!) because it’s just a whole lot of “Mommy I hungreeee” and Peppa Pig. I usually have quite a bit of time to kill since their school ends at 2 and the big kids don’t get out until 3:10 or something like that, so if it’s nice, I get my car into a prime pickup spot and we go play on the playground! Well for some reason the gate was closed yesterday, and Maddie announced she had to go potty anyhow, so I just parked and was eager to get her to a bathroom. Except then I got Shannon out of her carseat and realized that she just had the biggest dump of her life and pooped through everything. To spare the school staff from vomiting I got my handy little diaper changing mat out and changed her right outside the car. Luckily/accidentally I had an extra outfit for her in my bag, so I threw that on her, put the dirties into a plastic bag, tied it up, threw it in my bag, picked them both up, and ran like superwoman to get Maddie to the potty. Next thing I know, Maddie is crying because she didn’t pull her pants down far enough and pooped all over her underwear. She scooted just enough that it then got all over the toilet seat. So. What to do with Shannon since I only have 2 arms and we are in a bathroom and she is attracted to all toilets and their contents. Let’s just say that I got through it, and we found ourselves back outside just in time to go get the boys.

Connor must have had his mind made up to set a record for arguing with me before he got out of last period, so we battled to the car, inside the car, and on the way home. I had to quickly drop him off, then our carpool buddy, in order to make it back to school to pick Danny up from church band/choir practice at 3:45. But Ryan was hungry. So I grab him a snack at home and continued on my stressed out way. I get to school and park next to my pal Erin, and I didn’t even have my window rolled all the way down for a chat before I burst into tears about raising a pre-teen. Now here is where it gets good. Or bad. Yes. VERY BAD. I vaguely remember Ryan asking me if he could get out and go play on the playground because he saw his really good buddy Luke W! I continue with my sob fest until Danny comes out, and then I transfer my sob story to him. We leave school and I cry and cry and eventually Danny says to me… “Uh mom. Where is Ryan?” Some of you probably already figured out that I left Ryan behind since I am so detail oriented with my story telling and I didn’t mention that he got back into the car. But. Danny. Don’t be ridiculous. He’s buckled in the back of the car of course. Except. OH. MY. HOLY. SONOFABITCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am the mom in Home Alone only my kids’ name isn’t Kevin, and it’s September and we aren’t in Chicago and I’m not on an airplane. I remember that Maddie is watching Daniel Tiger on my phone so I pull over, grab my phone, and see that I have some missed calls and also some friendly texts that Ryan is still at school. Smiley faces. Exclamation points. In good hands. F!!!!! In a panic I answer a call from the best lady ever who assures me that he’s fine and playing on the playground and my friend Christine will bring him home. I felt like I was going to explode. I was so caught up in my literally shitty day that I forgot my own son at school. Who have I become!? Ryan told me not to worry because it wasn’t my fault ANYWAY it was Connor’s fault for being a turd. HA! Smart boy 🙂

I am so thankful that Ry was so well tended to and that I have not gotten a call from the Fishers police about my negligence. Let’s just say that the rest of the day didn’t get much better. But I got a lot of encouraging words from people who have “been there, done that” or who know that it is SO unlike me. It could happen to anyone. But I still felt like crap. I couldn’t fall asleep. I kept replaying what could have happened. And I also couldn’t stop thinking about Connor. And how tricky he can be. And how hard it is to raise kids to be good, kind people. And then this morning I got a text from Christine who told me to give myself a break. Moms are human, too. And then I realized she is right. And so there you have it! Cat is out of the bag. I am just like every other mom who feels pretty if she brushes her teeth let alone her hair and who knows that life isn’t perfect and that that’s ok. I’m human. A super, duper lucky one.





Shannon & David will live on forever.


I’m not sure exactly when i met my friend Marley via Instagram due to our sharing similar tragic stories/experiences, but I am SO glad I did. After learning about me, she reached out to tell me a bit about her. And then she told me about this AMAZING organization called Family Lives On.

Family Lives On is a Foundation that supports the lifelong emotional well-being of children whose mother or father (or, like for us, both) has/have died. Their Tradition Program provides opportunities for intentional remembering, creating a safe haven for grief, communication and celebration. How beautiful is that? I NEVER want Shannon OR David to be forgotten. ESPECIALLY by the two people on this earth they loved most, and who loved them most.

Back in the fall, (after I communicated with our coordinator ahead of time to schedule it) the boys did a Skype session with 2 amazing women at Family Lives On (FLO). They had an amazing conversation with these two strangers about their mom and their dad and the things they loved doing with them. They each talked about three or four things that they considered to be Traditions; things that made them think of their parents.

Soon after the Skype session I got an email outlining the things that stood out to them, and the things that were achievable thanks to AMAZING people like Donna, who donate to make the Traditions a reality! The boys will be gifted YEARLY, until they are 18! I KNOW, right!?
On the FLO website it says: Healthy grieving isn’t about forgetting, it’s about remembering. Traditions help kids maintain a healthy connection with the parent who died. Families get a chance to connect and talk about their loved one helping them deal with grief and move forward.

I couldn’t agree more. I talk about my sister every single day. I talk about David, too. It hasn’t gotten easier, but I’ve gotten better. SO have the boys. It was SO emotional to see them open their presents. The smiles on their faces put there because of the tragedy that took their mom and their dad from their lives. The irony isn’t lost on me. I can’t think of a sweeter silver lining. My eyes were filled with happy tears.
I have SO many thoughts and feelings about all of this, but for now I just want to say THANK YOU to all of the people at Family Lives On for doing what you do. You are making such a difference. You are filling holes in hearts, even if it’s temporary, and you are giving many, many people HOPE.

Below are a few pics I got of the boys’ gifts! Connor said he loved his mom watching him play basketball. So he got a jersey, shorts and a ball. We will do something to honor Shannon when we shoot the ball sometime this weekend! Danny loved his dad’s love for Rugby, specifically the New Zealand All Blacks. He got a jersey, a rugby ball, a framed photo and Sunflower seeds (DAVID brand) 🙂

If you want to learn more about this amazing organization. If you want to get involved! Here is a link to their website. Thanks for reading, as usual! I LOVE YOU!

Family Lives On Website

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An open(ish) letter to parents + kids


So. It turns out that my mom REALLY loved me, even when I thought there wasn’t a chance in hell she could even LIKE me (how could she when all she was ever doing was nagging me, grounding me, and disciplining me), when I was growing up.

She used to say: “It is harder for me to punish you than it is for you to be punished.” To which I would say in my head behind the eye rolls: “YEAH. RIGHT!”

She would comment: “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same thing.” And I would be thinking: “NO! You are just a total jerk and you want me to be miserable and never have a life and you totally ENJOY dumping out all of my drawers after asking me a mere 9 times to clean my room. Don’t talk to me about what is HARD! It is going to take me HOURS to put all these clothes away. And it won’t be good enough for you anyway”

She would remind me, constantly: “I am not your friend. I am your MOTHER. Someday we can be friends, but not until I feel I have done the best job I can do raising you.” So naturally, I believed that we would NEVER be friends and that I wouldn’t want to be friends with her anyway because why wouldn’t she want to be friends with me? I was AWESOME. Total. Rubbish!

So fast forward to present day. My mom is my very best friend. She is also my therapist, my confidant, my partner in crime, my “go to”, my everything. Being that I went from having 2 to 5 kids virtually overnight, I have learned a few things rather quickly. The most important thing being…. OMG. My mother was right. About ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.

So. Kids. Take it from a young(ish) mom who is learning as she goes. When someone tells you that is is harder for them to punish you than it is for you to be punished, they are telling the truth. It would be SO MUCH EASIER to just “let it go.” To “sweep it under the rug.” To ignore bad judgement, disobedient behavior and back talk. But is it going to make you the absolute best version of yourself if we let you get away with anything and everything you do wrong? NO. Do you think I really WANT to scream your name and nag you to put your shoes in your bin and pick up your jacket and hang up your bag and throw away your trash? No. I annoy MYSELF when I am forced to do this. And yes, I said forced. I am forced by this crazy power that takes over my whole being and turns me into Super(Insane)Mom. I am trying to help my future daughter-in-laws by teaching my boys how to be tidy and clean up after themselves and not be complete slobs. I am doing my job being your MOM!

To put it into kiddie terms, you = play-dough. Your potential = the most amazing thing anybody has ever made with play-dough. Your parents or guardians or teachers or WHOMEVER is punishing you is trying to mold you. They are trying to shape you and TEACH you and help you learn. Do we (adults) know EVERYTHING? Absolutely not. Far from it. We are learning more and more every single day from YOU. BUT… we know more than you do about life. AND WE LOVE YOU TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.

When someone claims that the hardest thing and the right thing are the same thing, they are not exaggerating. It is NOT easy to ground your kid. It pains me as a parent when I have to tell another parent something that my kid and their kid did wrong together. It pains me even more to talk to my kids about said thing. It literally hurts my heart when my son gets an invitation for an overnight and I have to tell him, “No. I hope now you will think twice about doing X. Because I sure would hate for you to have to miss out on the next one.” But. I know that if I said “Yes” I would basically be saying “Don’t WORRY about that terribly naughty thing you did! Drink all the soda you want and heck let’s go buy some fun dip and PLEASE stay up as late as your little heart desires!” Sorry, guys. That is teaching you absolutely NOTHING. Except that you can get away with whatever you want and I’m sorry. But. It’s just not happening. Why? Because it’s not the RIGHT thing. And… because I LOVE YOU.

Can you guys believe me about one thing? The harder we are ON you. The meaner (is that a word?) we are TO you. The crazier YOU MAKE US. The MORE we must LOVE you. Because WE KNOW WHAT IS BEST. TRUST! This is NOT “Let’s Make a Deal!” This is us, knowing what is best for you. And for me, it boils down to this (and I tell this to my kids every day). Be kind. The rest will fall into place. You are going to mess up. You are going to make mistakes (a lot of the same ones I made).  And that’s OKAY, as long as you LEARN from them. You are going to take the fall for a friend. You are going to have your feelings hurt. But. JUST. BE. KIND Be NICE!. To EVERYONE. Even to your super hard, mean, crazy parents. And I PROMISE. You’re gonna turn out pretty amazing AND do amazing things while you’re at it.

Now. Parents. Just one thing. You’re doing a really fantastic job. Be hard. Be mean. Be crazy! And LOVE. Unconditionally. You are making the world a better place.


PS. Dad. Don’t want your feelings hurt about this post. But let’s face it. Unless it was about my grades (LOOK OUT!) or sports, you let mom have ALL the fun 😉 And I will never forget you always telling me: Just be nice to everybody.


Mama Rita Pita & Me 🙂

All I want for Mother’s Day.

Most of you know Colleen B and I’s story (for those of you who don’t… stalk us! We are “the little engine that could” mom & pop shop whose merchandise is intended to spread kindness and whose hearts desire to change the world.

When the song “My Wish” came out, by Rascal Flatts, the lyrics really resonated with me. I remember thinking… I want to dance to this song with my son at his wedding someday. Now, when I think about dancing with Connor at his wedding, I tear up. I am already fearful that nomatter how much I love him and try to be a mother to him, he will wish it was his mom holding him, dancing with him, sending him off to be with the love of his life. It makes my heart ache. I wish that for him, too. But “My Wish” will still be appropriate. Because he is my son now, and I have hopes and dreams and my love for him knows NO bounds. We may be a “blended” family, but I love to tell my kids that the BEST recipes call for a blend of different ingredients. We are a family. We are our own normal.

All ANY of us want for our children is for them to be happy. But for some, being happy isn’t easy. It is hard to accept that we cannot control our children’s emotions, they way they perceive things, the way they are affected by anything and everything, and sadly, the way they are treated. BUT… LUCKY for us, we have the tools to teach them how to treat OTHERS. It’s something you don’t think about the moment they are born, but as parents, we MUST teach them more than how to eat, crawl, walk, talk, say their ABC’s… and on and on. It is up to US, #parentsunited, to look them in the eyes and say: “It is not ok what you just did. What you said was very hurtful. If you don’t have anything nice to say, please… please say nothing. Always try your best. Your best is good enough. I am proud of you. I am disappointed in your actions. Treat others the way you want to be treated. You AMAZE ME. I’m so glad God gave me you. In a world where you can be ANYONE or ANYTHING, be kind. Everybody is different. Different is normal.”

I don’t expect to unwrap presents today. I will be satisfied with the beautiful time I spent with my mom this morning, the games of my sons I am blessed to attend all day, and tucking all 5 of my children into bed tonight. With each sunset, comes the promise of a new day. A fresh start. An opportunity to face the world with a compassionate heart. A chance to see the good in others, and include those who are being excluded. An occasion to stand up for what is right, no matter what your friends will do or say. God has chosen me to me a mother, and I accept the challenge to raise my children to the very BEST of my ability.

Colleen B posted earlier on facebook: Something I’ve learned in life is that everything is relative to every individual person. Busy is relative. Stress is relative. Success is relative. Hardships are relative. Happy is relative. Just because it doesn’t look like your version of busy, stressful, successful, devastating or happy doesn’t mean it isn’t equally as busy, stressful, successful, devastating or happy to someone else! And motherhood, in my mind, is relative. Whether you have a furry child, a child in heaven, a child you’ve given up for adoption, a child you’ve adopted, a child that makes you want to pull you hair out, a child that never took his or her first breath, a step child, a child you carried for someone else, a child that now has their own children, a child you no longer speak to, or a child growing in your belly … motherhood is relative and today…Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there regardless of what your version of motherhood is!

Amen, CB. Amen. (Insert dancing twin black leotard wearing emoji). All I want for Mother’s Day is to spread our message to make our children’s’ futures brighter and inspire others. That might sound cheesy, but it’s true. And I don’t think it’s asking too much. Together, we can change the world. But… it’s up to US. Parents as teachers. No matter if you stay at home with them, or if you see them for 30 minutes before school, and an hour before they go to bed. There are a million combinations I could work into the equation, but none of them are an excuse not to sit down with your kids and watch this video. Make them WANT to be better. It takes one heart set on fire to ignite the hearts of others. A WILDFIRE of kindness. It starts with just ONE. For a better today, and a better tomorrow. If you want what I want, please share. Let’s redefine normal.


A mom who wants to change the world for the sake of her children (and yours)





I don’t think I could ever go back to the week that Shannon & David died. I actually don’t remember most of it, but I remember thinking that I wouldn’t get through it. That my life as I knew it was over, and I would never be “normal” again. I didn’t think I would be able to get out of bed or function or smile or laugh or see “Lobster Bisque” on a menu without having a mental breakdown. EVER. AGAIN. In the beginning, I KNEW that wherever I went, people were looking at me. Like… OMG. That’s the girl whose sister was murdered in cold blood by her ex husband. They were REALLY close. And then once we knew and decided that we wanted the boys… OMG. That is the girl whose sister was murdered in cold blood by her ex husband (they were REALLY close) and she and HER husband are moving from St. Louis with their children to adopt them. And OMG she’s pregnant. Again. I was SO AFRAID that it would be people’s perception of me forever. I was even afraid of my own friends looking at me differently. It was probably the most concentrated subject in counseling for a long time. No. I most certainly COULDN’T go back to that week and those early days. But I know that it all made me a stronger person. A better person. And even though I have my moments and my days when I feel like I’m suffocating and might faint from lack of oxygen because HOLY #$%^ I miss my sister, I know I’m going to be ok. And that this life of mine is normal. It’s MY normal. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything (except to have my sister back.) So fast forward to today…

My amazing friend and business partner and I hope to change the world. And get this. We have this crazy notion that we are actually GOING to. Back in the fall we decided that we needed to do something really really really GOOD. Not just post cute pictures of adorable kids in our shirts with messages about love and kindness. Not just come up with #whilemyhubbywassleeping posts for those who find our humor funny. Not just offer free printables to spread our message a little further. We wanted to do something for everyone. We wanted to find an umbrella big enough to cover anything and everything that might get “wet”. So we decided that we are going to redefine what “normal” means. Sooooo… #LETSREDEFINENORMAL ❤

This video and this campaign are a part of each of our hearts, and we hope a part of hundreds of other people’s hearts who can relate. We want to to be inspiring and spark conversations. We want for parents to talk to their kids about what it means to live by the golden rule and how at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what shoes you wear or what car you drive. What matters is how you treat people. How you treat yourself. When people can accept that EVERYONE is different, that everyone has a story, a fear, a pet peeve, a dream. And that just because they might be different from you, that is OK. Because the world would be pretty boring otherwise. But boring is cool, too. I mean if that’s YOUR normal 😉

We realize that the word “normal” might be a little bit controversial. But as I explain in the video, we don’t mean that we want you to be basic, or conform, or anything like that. We WANT you to embrace all of the qualities that make you YOU. And we want you to accept yourself for who you are. This will allow for you to accept others for who they are. Everybody is different. Different is normal.

I could literally write for days. There is SO MUCH to cover. But I’m gonna leave you with this:

My name is Colleen. I am the youngest of 3 girls. The baby. The princess. Growing up I was jealous of my sister Janet because her name starts with a “J” and so does Jesus’. I have the best parents in the world. I don’t like vegetables or milk in my cereal (unless it’s Quaker Oat Squares or Cookie Crisp or Cap’n Crunch). I ordered chicken fingers at my own wedding. I like to sugar coat things and I DON’T like hurting anybody’s feelings. I have been properly diagnosed with ADHD and OCD. My husband and my bestie Colleen Lotz both have to stop in the middle of a sentence or story to make sure I’m listening. THEY LOVE ME. And I, them. I love diamonds and Doritos. I sleep with a pillow over my head. I lost my sister very tragically and very suddenly on July 27, 2014. I don’t hate my brother-in-law (who killed her).  I have 5 kids and they are the best job I’ve ever had. I don’t have a dog. I mean I like them, they’re adorable, but we are NOT getting a dog for a very long time (Danny!!!). I am defensive and stubborn and always right. I cried for hours when Peyton Manning announced that he would no longer be playing for my beloved Colts. Maybe days. I love my life. I miss my sister. I am normal.

xxx Colleen

mamasaidfavs16 copyPS MAJOR SHOUT OUTS to: my #BFFBAEFORLIFE Colleen (L #1!). For your time, your talent, and your NEVER ENDING love and support. WHAT would I do without you? — Jennifer Driscoll. You are amazing. You made this possible. — Murph and Mark. Thank you. So much. — Chris. You. Are. The. Bomb. Like. What else is there to say!? — The entire “cast and crew”. Guys. We did it! I love you! — Everybody who is reading this. Thank you ❤ — My family & friends. Every single one of you has been a part of getting me RIGHT here. — Janet. I’m over the Jesus thing. I mean not over HIM the Lord our Savior. But the “J” thing. And I worship you, too. 🙂 — Mom & Dad. No words will ever do justice all of the feelings I have surrounding who you are and what you mean to me. I love you so so so so so so much. Not to get all Celine Deon on you but I’m everything I am because you love me. — And CB. My ground. My right hand. My YOU! all the zozozoz’s in the world. — THE END!


I am very motivated to write about something today that is on my mind frequently. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Colleen. 18 months ago I was a BUSY (you will soon learn why I highlight that word) mom of 2. In a tornado of events leading with the tragic murder/suicide that took my beautiful sister and her ex husband from us, today I am a mom of 5 aged 11, 9 (my sister’s kids who are now ours), 4, 2 and almost 6 months. The MAIN point of this little article is that I want every single person who reads it to feel one of two things when they are finished:

  • Fulfilled -& OR-
  • Inspired

People often ask me/say to me (one or some or most of these things): “How do you do it all with 5 kids and 2 successful at home businesses? You must be SO busy! But you look so refreshed!”

Here are some of my replies:

  • Busy is my friend! I have to be busy or I go insane! I have ADD and OCD, people.
  • Awww thanks! We have a lot of help.
  • It gets crazy sometimes but I try to always remember how blessed we are!
  • I took a shower today!

Here are some of the replies on the tip of my tongue:

  • Busy is my friend. I have to be busy or I would just be sad all the time missing my sister/best friend and I would think about my poor nephews and how angry it makes me that they had only 8 and 10 years with the most wonderful mom in the world.
  • My ex boyfriend’s mom had 8 kids and she always SEEMED to have it together. Her living room was always PERFECTLY vacuumed AND she had the most organized pantries ever. And her husband’s shirts were always whiter than white and crisp as can be. Did I mention her pantries were out of a catalog? She even kept the “gum” container tidy. She also trained her kids well, I presume.
    • NOTE: Do not invite yourself into my pantry unless you have given me 48 hours notice that you intend to do so.
  • I know other families at the school with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 kids who have not nearly as much help as we do. When I get stressed I think about them!
  • How do I do it all? I don’t! We have a literal army. A tribe. A nation. Our family is not restricted or confided to bloodlines. I am not sure there is a more valuable lesson for my kids to learn other than to BE KIND. And that lesson is, Family are the friends you make for yourselves.
  • In order for me to look “refreshed” I must, on occasion, shower. In order for me to successfully shampoo, condition and wash my body when it’s just me and my 3 littlest, requires strategy and takes more time and effort than the actual shower. However. I stink. Like literally. Therefore showering becomes a necessity. Also… Danny tells me how pretty I look when I take good care of myself. He strives to be my favorite.
  • I have an amazing husband. No. Our relationship is FAR from perfect. We disagree about a lot because we are raising 5 kids with different personalities and activities and time together is scarce, but at the end of the day I can honestly say that he is one of a kind. Even when I can’t even stand to look at him! Just kidding. He works hard and is an amazing dad and even when he maybe shouldn’t, he loves me.
  • My mom comes over basically every day. Even when I tell her not to. She just loves me so much. Also see bullet point #1 in this section. She has to stay busy, too.
  • My business partner for one of my businesses works her literal ASS OFF. I don’t know what else to say about that. Thank you, CB. Smoochies.

Ok so what is the point of all of this babble? I promise there is one. The word BUSY is such a relative term to mr. The truth is… everyone is busy. Let me rephrase that. Everyone is busy IF they are using the talents God gave them to the best of their abilities. Being a good kind of busy can a choice. Sure I am busy without choosing to be because I DO have 5 kids which means a LOT of things. Like.. laundry all day everyday, dishes on dishes on dishes, practices, games, homework, projects, rides to friends, dance parties, puzzles, crafts, spilled milk, sad tears, mad tears, out of nowhere ridiculous what prompted that tears, hugs, kisses, snuggles, cuddles, nursing allll day and night, bad dreams, runny noses… the list goes ON AND ON and really never ends. But what I mean is, it doesn’t matter if you have 5 kids or 10 kids no kids or a dog or a cat or a fish or no pets at all. If you are single or a stay at home mom/dad or go to an office or travel or work from a remote location. If you are making the best use of your time, you are busy. Taking a nap takes time. If that is the best use of your time, then you are busy. If a nap is going to make you a better you so that you can accomplish things and become closer to reaching your goals and being a nicer human… then for God’s sake… TAKE THE NAP!

My 6 month old is busy. She is busy nursing, eating solids, playing, pooping, spitting up, rolling, sitting, crying, sleeping and melting our hearts.

My 2 year old is busy. She wakes up entirely too early and wants to start her day immediately. No time to waste. In between sleeping & diaper changes, she is on the go pushing strollers and carts and playing mommy and babbling to baby and being bossy and independent and strong willed and making no sense but then being oh so sugary sweet. To get her way. MOST of the time.

My 4 year old is busy. He is busy being thoughtful and caring and saying hilarious things and drawing pictures and doing puzzles and playing and singing music and attending the boys games and counting bites to get to dessert and making master plans to stay up late and hear one more once upon a time story and have one more sip of water and tell us just ONE MORE THING.

My 9 year old is busy. From school, to counseling, to basketball and lacrosse. From homework and time spent on his iPad listening to music and playing games and texting his darling friends. To playing with his sibs and telling me he knows I don’t want to hear how heavy Shannon is because I hold her ALL DAY LONG, but his arms are about to fall off. From asking for and receiving hugs and then being disciplined for leaving his coat in the middle of the kitchen floor. For offering to help me make dinner or telling me I look really pretty or that I could use a glass of red. Right up until lights are out, and probably even then, the kid is doing cartwheels and flips and bouncing around and being Danny. And being busy.

My 11 year old is a pain in my you know what right now, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t busy. He is BUSY being that! He is busy with school and homework I can’t even do and asking questions like “how can I make a lot of money someday so I can have a nice car?”. From sports and friends and snap chat and wrestling with his sibs and asking if he can strip down baby and kiss her chubby cheeks before bath. He is busy avoiding chores and avoiding affection and making my life busier by arguing but then apologizing because he never wants to see me upset.

We are ALL busy. Especially if we want to be. And gosh darn it I WANT to see my friends and have dates with my husband on top of all the things I HAVE to do. SO if that makes me busier than busy, sign me up. It’s called sanity.

There is ALWAYS time even when there isn’t. There is always time to make time for the ones you love and the things you want to do. Does this mean we aren’t allowed to complain about how busy we are? ABSOLUTELY NOT! That is not at all my point. I was busy when I was in college. Taking naps and doodling during class and studying when I had to and partying and being with my friends. I was busy post graduation, working and being an adult and not knowing that I needed to set up my electricity and PAY for it in order for it to work. I was busy as a newly wed figuring out how Doug liked things and how I liked things and how to balance living away from family with being content with my family and friends in St. Louis. I was busy when I had Ryan. I laughed when I had Maddie and I thought I was busy when I just had Ryan. Until I came up with this very theory that I am writing about today. Which helped me put things in perspective when the unexpected happened because I remember feeling busy before because I was busy! I was making the best use of the gifts God gave me to be a mom, a wife, a friend, daughter/daughter-in-law, a sister, a fan, an employee, etc. And trying to be the best at all of those things.

If you are doing what you love. If you have: school, a job, a hobby, a passion, friends, family, weird obsessions with boy bands or drive to be and make a difference, YOU ARE BUSY. You are busy because you are making the best of YOUR life. You are busy and YOU ARE ENOUGH! Don’t let anybody dull your sparkle by making you feel inadequate or acting like you can’t possibly understand what it’s like because you are this or that. Until we have all walked ONE HUNDRED miles in someone elses shoes, and really even then, no judgement. That is something we truly DON’T have time for.

Ok I THINK that’s all. I hope you enjoyed my philosophical blog post today. Not sure why I felt it necessary but I did and now I feel inspired to take a quick shower. I am down to 1 and help from my mom so I might even have time to sing!

xxx Colleen

Grief is the price of Love


What a day yesterday was. Obviously, Christmas is a day you look forward to all year long. I never knew how HARD being a parent was until Christmas mattered to Ryan. And now, it is that much more difficult, because ALL Doug and I want is for our little/big family to be happy and feel loved. There is no way to TRULY measure equality when it comes to gifting 5 children of all different ages. But man. I think we came pretty close to making each of them feel as special as they ever will! Overall, yesterday was one for the books (minus baby Shannon being sick. I could have lived without that!). And it was a Christmas I will never forget.

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As beautiful as it was, it was also a day of heartache. It is amazing to me how a day that is filled with SO MUCH JOY and happiness can be interrupted by overwhelmingly heard to swallow, hard to breathe, face soaking sadness. Last Christmas we escaped reality in Florida. We didn’t want to be reminded all day that Shannon & David weren’t with us. If we went some place they had never been, we thought we could maybe swerve the pain. And swerve we did. This Christmas, we faced it head on. And I got nailed. I blinked back tears uncountable times. After losing my aunt last week, I have pretty much been a wreck whenever I’m alone. My heart has been bleeding for my cousins who lost their mom, and my uncle who lost his wife. And every time I experience a loss, it boomerangs back around to Shannon. And of course, Zach. 3 angels in 17 months. Doesn’t seem fair. Hasn’t our family been through enough? Or maybe we are just THAT strong. As evidenced by our traditional Christmas Eve gathering, I am sure of one thing: I am undeniably blessed to be part of a truly extraordinary family. And together, we will prevail. Because love ALWAYS wins. (I love you, Kristen!)

Today was our first Christmas at mom and dads since our family’s immediate loss, and it was a truly special morning. But I felt a hole in my heart all morning long. I can still remember my last Christmas with Shannon like it was yesterday. Christmas Eve at Kelly’s gym. Christmas morning bright and early at mom and dads. Her giving me the 1D DVD against her every wish because she knew I really wanted it and gave in because she had to or I wouldn’t get what I wanted. And according to her… I ALWAYS get what I want! Standing around the kitchen, saying our breakfast prayer. I missed her so much yesterday that my body ached. I remembered her gift to mom Christmas 2013. A photo stand that read “Mom likes me best.” I used to swap her photo out for mine. I think Alli’s face made it there, too. But Shan’s picture is officially there to stay. I’ll give her that 😉


Overall our day was beautiful. Later in the day I asked my mom if she was OK. She was. Or maybe she was so busy all day she hadn’t had time to not be. And then I choked. I said how today was just a reminder to me that she is gone, and how… she didn’t want to be. She didn’t want to miss this. I mean. Really. She didn’t ask for this. She didn’t want to miss a SINGLE second of this life. She missed seeing the look on Connor’s face when he picked up his new bat. And hearing Danny scream and jump up and down when he opened his favorite gift: an Instagram account. (It is not lost on me that this was a FREE gift. #damn – oh! Follow him and help me keep him in line: @dannyrudy51). Yet, it wasn’t up to her. And I have accepted that. I truly believe that it was simply her time. But dammit. It doesn’t make it easier. And then I think about how much my life has been enriched since she’s left us. I feel a sense of guilt because I have found happiness at her “expense”. At some point on this journey I saw a light at the end of our dark tunnel. And I decided I not only wanted to head in the direction of the light, but I wanted to be to be a light for others. I do not wan to waste my life. And I have her to thank for it. I have her to thank for the time I have gained with my mom and my dad. And Janet and my dear high school friends. I have her to thank for getting to see my other nephews and niece on a very regular basis. I have her to thank for bringing Doug and I closer. I have her to thank for giving me the number of children I am most certain I would not have otherwise had, but wanted 🙂 I have her to thank for teaching me to look at the glass half full, and that a smile is the prettiest thing a girl can wear. I have her to thank for everything. But man I miss her. I will miss her every single day forever. But that’s ok. Because I know that grief is the price of LOVE. And I am willing to pay the price because I can’t imagine ever not loving my sister with ALL of my heart.


The boys did great yesterday. Better than great. I couldn’t believe it. At breakfast when we were at my parents Danny said to Doug, “Pops. Is it hard for you to be the only one here without parents?” Janet and I caught each others eyes. What? What did he just say? Did he just ask my 32 year old husband if it is hard for him to be without his living parents who only live a car ride away and we are blessed to see frequently? If that wasn’t the Grace of God. Well, I just don’t know.

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Connor got me some beautiful jewelry (see my little “diamond” studs?!) And Danny got me this adorable family frame. They were both scrambling under the tree first thing to find the gifts they picked out for all of us.  As “Oh” from  the movie HOME would say, it made me sad mad. I will always be sad mad because I miss Shannon and I hate that she is missing all of this. But what else rhymes with sad and mad? Glad. Which I am. So sad mad glad I shall be. I have said this before and I have said it pretty much my whole life. Shannon helped raise me. And now, raising Connor & Danny is my way of thanking her. I consider myself very very lucky. Losing Shan has redefined me. It’s made me better. A piece of me is missing, but I have gained so much in return.

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My favorite gift of all this Christmas aside from getting a new phone so Connor could have mine (happiest boy in the WORLD) was this mug Doug had made for me. Yes that is coffee dripping down the side because Maddie just came plummeting through with her new Target shopping cart. Love One Another we shall. Love and family is everything. Thanks for joining us on our journey to always have our glass half full. We love you all! MERRY CHRISTMAS! I would also like to add that Danny just came in to find me sobbing while writing this and he asked me what was wrong. I said I just missed mommy and he came leaping over to wrap his arms around me. He glanced at my computer and said “So do you write about it? When you miss her?” And I told him, “Not all the time. Sometimes though.” And he shut my laptop and said, “I think you need another hug.”

Ok, Danny. Ok. ❤

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PS. I love you, Dougie! Even though you won’t read this! THANK YOU for simply being you. You are my greatest gift.


How do you measure a year?

Hello friends. It’s been a while since I posted on here but I think I do a pretty decent job OVER posting on all other social media outlets to make up for it 🙂

Today marks one year that our “new” family became a family. One year ago today we moved into our home, and I’ve been thinking for weeks now what I would write about. It got me thinking about what a difference a day, a month and a year make. It got me thinking about how far we have come, and how I would NEVER want to go back… or revisit the early days after Shannon & David died. I have SO much to share, but not a lot of time before I have to take Connor to Starbucks (because I PROMISED him he could get one before his big CHAMPIONSHIP game today!) and then run off to my sweet cousin-in-laws baby shower, onto the SLDM tailgate with the greatest parents ever, BIG CHAMPIONSHIP game VS St. Luke, transport Danny to basketball (THANKS DAD & BRANDI!), pick up our cutie pie sitter, and race over to our big team party at the Finns. I woke up with a cheerful heart today. I did not cry in the shower. I sang instead. I painted my nails and got ready while my whole family slept. RARITY. TODAY is going to be a GOOD day. And it starts with sharing some thoughts from my Broadway heart ❤


Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love.

BOOM. BOOM! Measure in LOVE. In our case, the love is basically immeasurable because it is still pouring out of so many of your hearts. We stay busy. We have a lot of fun. We have smiled and laughed more than we have cried in the past 365 days, that I am sure of. We have this capacity to find joy in just about everything, or we try to. I am not going to sit here and tell you that every day is pretty. My own husband doesn’t know how I grieve or when or how often. I am not going to pretend that I have even come to grips with the fact that Shannon is gone. Because the truth is, I haven’t. But it’s like I was telling my friend Chrissy last night… we have our whole lives to let this sink in. No sense in feeling the weight, the pain, the agony all day every day. That is why our God is SO good. He only gives us what we can handle. And sometimes a good cry is all I need to pick myself up and see how truly blessed we are.

I also measure in the depth of my friendships. I have the most amazing friends ever. I consider them like sisters (and brothers) to me… and I could never have enough siblings. So thank you, friends. NEW and OLD. For being in my life. I love you dearly and deeply.

THE BOYS ARE DOING AMAZING. They really are. Danny calls me moms or mom, no more Aunt CoCo ever. The “s” got dropped pretty recently perhaps as a test and I’m noticing that it is becoming more and more consistent. Danny is NINE. Danny is a BABY. Danny needs a mommy on earth. How lucky am I to be chosen? 2nd fiddle, sure. But as a mom, I’m used to playing 2nd fiddle all the time anyway. I’ll take it. And I just pray Shannon knows that no matter what he calls me, she will ALWAYS be his mother. I am simply her understudy, ready to perform for life.

Connor has shortened Aunt CoCo to AC for the most part, but what I have gathered from a recent conversation is that he considers Doug and I his parents. He asked me last weekend, after I refused to let him spend Halloween night out because it was the eve of a big game, if I ever missed being “cool Aunt CoCo”. I answered him honestly. I said… no, honey. I don’t. Because this is my job now. To be like a parent to you. And it’s the best job I’ve ever had.  And he said, with those big brown eyes, “I know I don’t call you mom, but you know I think of you as my parent.” And if you know Connor, that was pretty monumental.

Ryan and Maddie are also doing great. People often ask me how they are doing, because even though they didn’t lose their mom and dad, they sort of lost their position in our family line up. And this is what I have to say about that. Ryan and Maddie (and Shannon) will NEVER know the difference. Their lives are RICHER in love, friends, play time, laughter, & happiness as a result of our new life as a family of 7. It is SUCH a delight to see them interact with kids at the boys’ games. They LOVE their new school, they LOVE their new friends. The LOVE seeing mom mom and pop pop and their cousins so frequently. They LOVE that when grandma comes, she lives with us, usually for about a week! And so do I 😉 When they go to St. Louis, they get super quality time with grandma and grandpa and uncle Jimmy. They are excited to stay for a week after Thanksgiving! (reminder, grandma!).

And Shannon. Sweet baby Shannon. I can’t believe we ever lived without her. She is the perfect baby. She could sleep a little better, but I know that doesn’t last forever. And I love my sweet Shanny snuggles. She is the perfect addition to our family, and all 4 kids worship her. They cannot get ENOUGH! And neither can I. She is our angel on earth.

Mom and dad are doing pretty well, for the most part. Dad is strong. Dad deals with his grief by talking publicly about faith in the face of tragedy. He is helping others. Of course he is. He is my dad! I I keep my mom busy to distract her from being sad… or that is what I tell her 😉 I love every single moment I get to spend with my mom. She is my very best friend and it pains me to see her tear up when people ask her how she’s doing. But then, of course she does. She probably always will. She lost her daughter. I pray to never have to know the pain that she and my Aunt Kelly and Aunt Cindy know: to lose a daughter, a son. But in a way, the pain is almost beautiful, because it is a scar of motherhood. A scar they would both gladly trade in, but one they will wear because of the love they have for their children. It all comes back around to LOVE. It brings a smile to my face when I think about Shannon and Zach and all of my relatives hanging out in Heaven. A touch of comfort. A tinge of jealousy. And a dash of hope.

Doug is of course…. amazing. Not much more to say. He is the BEST dad. Like, ever. He works HARD. He loves to meet new people and have fun. We have SO much fun! He is everything I never knew I needed. 4 days marks 9 years from the day I met him and I wouldn’t change a thing. God sent me to St. Louis for a reason. It’s always been in his plan. THANK YOU, GOD. THANK YOU. Thank you forever. And thank you Howard and Jeri. You sure did something right.

Janet and Rich and the kids are doing well. I LOVE seeing the kids. I can’t get enough. If this hadn’t happened, my relationships with them would have never blossomed to what they are, what they will be. I don’t get to see Janet as often as one might think, but when I do see her, I love it. I SO wish one of our kids was in the same class. Because it sort of seems like that’s the drill once your kids make friends – if you are lucky, your kids friends parents are cool. Lucky for me… my kids friends parents are the COOLEST! But in less than a year, she’ll be down to 2 (Nick will be in college!!!!) and I’ll be more routined, and I can’t wait to spend more time together.

I want to end with this. I could probably keep writing all day, but now the boys are in my face, Maddie is in my makeup, Ryan wants to count his candy (for the 27th time) and Shannon needs mommy’s milk! A friend sent me this the other day and it so resonated with me. I hope it resonates with you, too. Boys

I’m so lucky that “another woman” is my sister. There is no greater gift I could ever give to her, or that she could ever give to me.

Thanks for following along. And reading another CoCo novel! Have a beautiful day.

xoxoxo Colleen

quick thanks to my 4 c’s: Colleen, Colleen, Christine & Chrissy. Without your love help and support………… I do not know what i would do. One more thing that isn’t lost on me that I just compared my friends to diamonds. The 4 c’s: Color, Clarity, Cut & Carat Weight. All 4 women amazing and essential to my life, all 4 components beautiful and essential to a gorgeous rock. AMEN!

Shannon Lynn Stine <3

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I have been SO excited to share this story since the minute Shannon was born, and I couldn’t hold off one more minute. I have so many thoughts and feelings and emotions it’s hard to put them into words! Let me start from the beginning…

We moved into our brand new beautiful home in Indy on November 7. It was a whirlwind month to say the LEAST. I got a text from my mom last night: “What a beautiful night. Look how far we have come.” And… I couldn’t have said it better myself. Where we are is where we are meant to be. I miss my sister every minute of every day, but the hole in my heart gets temporarily filled by all of the love and chaos and happy memories we are making. And even though the hole re-opens every morning, or when I can’t sleep, or when reality hits that she’s really really REALLY gone, I know it’s going to be ok because… here we go again! Another day to look at the glass half full and make the best of our new life. Which is EXACTLY what she would want. We talked about it ALL the time. And our glass is more often than not overflowing with blessings.

So fast forward to early December when I had a feeling that something was brewing in my belly. Sure enough… despite our conversation about SAVING the conversation about the CHANCE of having another baby until the summer… there it was on the pregnancy test. Positive. Holy. WHAT?! We just went from 2-4. And now we would go from 4-5!? Someone get my husband an IV. Actually don’t. He would pass out from the needle.     NOT KIDDING! Bless him.

Of course I told my mom immediately. She got teary. Said it must be God’s plan. I asked her if she was more worried about me or her, and she laughed and said she was more worried about her! haha 🙂 She said, on the VERY day I told her the super early news, that it was going to be a girl. If Shannon had ANYTHING to do with it, it was going to be a girl. Mom was so convinced that it was going to be a girl I decided I would not tell her when we found out it was a boy. Because it was a boy. I KNEW IT! We planned on finding out at our 20 week appointment. That was until my friend Carrie convinced me of the latter. She said: “You are going to totally find out what you’re having aren’t you?” And I said, “DUH!!! The second we can!” And she said, “Man we found out with Cael and it was cool, but we didn’t with Maeve and that experience made me wish we never found out the first time There is NOTHING like not knowing. I wish you’d consider it.” And so… I did. I called mom and told her I was thinking it might be cool not to find out. Of course it had to be ok with her. And Doug. And it was! I think Doug thought it would be his way of saving money. Good thing he doesn’t join me for late night feedings when I find all the cute stuff on Instagram. 🙂 /// Dad NEVER wanted to know and it always got blown for him. We had everything we would need, be it a boy or a girl. The baby wasn’t going to have a bedroom right away anyway. And on top of it all… we had had quite a year. How cool would it be to have such an amazing surprise to look forward to? So it was decided and against ALL O’Malia Odds… we did NOT find out. And we did not waiver, or regret it.                        And let me tell you. IT. WAS. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok so fast forward again to May when I was at the kitchen table while Danny was doing his homework. The baby name conversation sparked again and he asked if we decided on a girls name. I said we were down to 3: Morgan, Mackenzie and Megan. Yea I don’t know what the deal with M’s was. And he voiced his opinion, I can’t remember what it was, and then he asked “But Moms. What about Shannon if it’s a girl?” I remember that my heart stopped for a quick second. I had to catch my breath. Of course it had occurred to me but I shut it down in my own mind pretty quick. I told him that I didn’t know how it would make he or Connor feel and I wanted the baby to bring joy and not sadness. And his brilliant almost 9 year old self said: “But… we never called her Shannon. We called her mom.” I was blown away. Of course it had to be Shannon. But first… I had to run it by mom & Connor for obvious reasons, and Doug because he is the pickiest when it comes to names and also I guess because he was the baby’s father (haha JK!). All were on board… so next it was time to talk to the counselors about it. They told me it sounded like everyone was on board. They suggested I bring it up the boys every few weeks until the baby was born to make sure the boys were still ok with it. Make sure I was ok with it. And so I did. And we all kept it a secret. Shannon Lynn (after BOTH my beautiful sisters) for a girl, and James Joseph, or JJ, (after Doug’s brother & uncle and then both of my Grandfathers) if it was a boy. SUCH RELIEF. And then we waited……. and waited.         And waited……

THEN last Thursday I had a 39.5 week check up. I was measuring big and she assured me there was just a lot of fluid. She guessed the baby would be between Ryan and Maddie weighing in at 7lbs 7oz and 8lbs 2oz. We talked about inducing the next day if there was availability. I said it was either that so I was guaranteed to be home by Sunday, or just let it be. I just couldn’t intentionally schedule an induction the week the boys started school. LUCKILY… there was availability. So we arrived very promptly at the hospital at 5:30AM on Friday morning. I was SO excited to meet our baby.

Everything was perfect. I absolutely LOVED the care at St. Vincent’s Carmel. I was nervous because I loved my Dr. in STL SO much! He is still #1 in my heart. BUT I  LOVED my nurse, LOVED my Doctor. Loved knowing that in just a few short hours I would know if it was a boy or a girl and I would get to hold my sweet sweet baby. This pregnancy really gave me a run for my money and I was excited to put a face to the cause of all that 😉

Before we knew it, it was time to start pushing. And it was awesome. I can’t quite explain how it was different, but it was. A whole 2.5 contractions and 7.5 minutes of pushing, and the Doctor was laying my beautiful baby girl on my chest. No one said “It’s a GIRL!” but I could see. We could see. And the tears were flowing. I think I asked, just to make sure “So wait! Is it really a girl?” My heart was about to burst out of my chest. I really didn’t care.  But I didn’t think I would get so lucky to be able to name my baby after my sister who I worshiped my whole life just 1 year after she left us. And at the same time… it was exactly the type of thing she would tease me about. Getting my way. Everything going so smoothly and perfectly! This time though, getting my way (even though I swear I really didn’t care!) has never meant so much.

Ok so here is where it gets good. My lifelong bestie Lauren made it to the hospital from work JUST after I delivered, and shoved her way back into the room. Man am I glad she did. Because take a look at what I get to have forever!

SLS_0815_0001 copy There she is! All 9lbs 3 oz of her!!! #chunk

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 Soaking up a few precious moments before the chaos! I later learned there were 22 family members waiting for the news in the lobby!

SLS_0815_0112 copyI gave Shannon (my sister. I love having to clarify!) that ring, and stole it back last summer. So I really love this pic ❤

SLS_0815_0099 copyDoug thought it was a girl up pretty much the WHOLE time. I know he is nervous about 2 girls in high school and those weddings of course. But he is a GREAT daddy to girls. Maddie and Shannon are so lucky to have him!!

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SLS_0815_0126 copyThese pictures pretty much say it all. I can’t stop looking at them. Mom, dad, Jeri (my MIL), Janet and Alli came in to hear the final verdict and meet our new baby. When they walked into the room I simply said, “Come meet Shannon Lynn” and as you can see, they couldn’t have been more surprised or excited. Yeah. NOT finding out was the best decision I could have ever made! And the name was a surprise to all but mom 🙂

SLS_0815_0137 copySLS_0815_0136 copyProud grandmas!

SLS_0815_0143 copyJeri got in from St. Louis about an hour before she got to meet her new granddaughter. So glad she got to be there for this moment!

SLS_0815_0155 copy My dad. You all know we girls worship him. Shannon Lynn will be no exception.

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And finally Aunt Janet gets some snuggles. I am so happy Shannon has names from both of my sisters. And I am SO excited Janet is SO close to be more than an aunt to my kids. And that I get to be more than an aunt to hers! And I am so glad my kids get to grow up with all of their cousins and 2nd cousins and still have a great 2nd hometown to visit! And maybe attend some ball games. Go Cards!

Things are going super well at home. It will take some time to adjust, of course, but all 4 kids really love their new baby sister. It’s so heart warming. It’s like my BFF Colleen texted me today. There is a sense of peace in all of this. Not to get all Lion King on you all but the circle of life really is a beautiful thing. It is sad and happy all wrapped up into one great big ball of joy. I know Shannon is smiling down on us from Heaven, and I tell myself she would have been mad had I not named our perfect little princess after her. She was after all, my idol. I can’t think of a better namesake in all the world. ❤

More updates soon! THANKS for reading my novel. xoxo Colleen