Hunny Bunny

Today is our youngest daughter’s fifth birthday. Collins Monroe has brought so much happiness into our lives in her short five years with us. She changed our family of five, to a family of six – completing us entirely.

My mom, Carol Thompson, wrote the most beautiful tribute to Collins after she was born. Written a day before, and published on, the day my mom was very first hospitalized for a fatal brain tumor, it will forever remain one of my most prized possessions. I read it through tears, feeling the love my mom had for all of us, knowing how proud she would be of the beautiful little girls Kendall and Collins are growing to be.

Happy Birthday, sweet Collins. We love you more than you will ever know.

Hunny Bunny

by

Carol McFeeters Thompson

Welcome to the world little baby girl, drawing your first breaths just as summer is beginning and the cottontail rabbits are dancing in the meadow. I wish you long life, good health, and abundant joy as you discover the wonders of the world along the journey of your life. America is rich in scenic vistas and awesome spectacles that I hope to share with you and your sister as you grow.

I want to show you Yellowstone, America’s (and the world’s) first national park, home to grizzly bears, moose, gray wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk, a wonderland of geothermal marvels that overlies a subterranean chamber of molten rock and superheated gases. One of our biggest triumphs as a country has been to set aside the most magnificent pieces of Earth to be preserved for the children of the future. Surrounded by majestic mountains along the Grand Loop Road, we’ll walk beside paint pots of colorful hot mud that bubble and sputter, and watch in awe as powerful geysers erupt water and steam, spouting high into the air. We’ll discover ancient trees buried by ash and mud, their wood transformed to colorful minerals, and mountains of mysterious black volcanic glass.

We’ll canoe the Boundary Waters of northeastern Minnesota, beckoned by pristine blue waters and murmuring forests of green velvet pines and paper-white birches, with the sun at our backs and the wind in our hair. We’ll retrace the routes of the gay voyageurs; and walk the portages we walked with your mother when she was your age; and relive the fishing trips I shared with my father when I was a girl. We’ll glide across the glacier-scoured wilderness lakes of the Canadian Shield, and camp on its boulder-strewn shorelines, falling asleep to the quiet kiss of waves against the shore and the haunting yodels and tremolos of calling loons at dusk. We’ll watch the shimmering aurora borealis play on the inky blackness of the night, its eerie green glow allowing the stars to shine through.

Let’s traverse a gently-rising desert plateau to be suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with a deep gash gouged into the crust of the Earth, leaving you as awe-struck as I was when I discovered the Grand Canyon for the first time. We’ll peer into the immense gorge, a steep-sided canyon a mile deep, carved by the Colorado River to expose two billion years of geological history. Perched on the rim, we’ll share sweeping views of the intricate and colorful landscape as we look back in wonder through the aeons of geologic time.

Oh, the places I’ll show you!

We’ll stand at the brink of one of the wonders of the world, straddling the Canadian border where the Niagara River drains from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario in a thundering cataclysm. The river explodes over the rim of a horseshoe-shaped precipice in a spectacular, breath-taking cataract that plummets into a roiling pool of foaming rapids. We’ll hear the roar of the falls plunging headlong to the bottom, watch the water trace lazy rivulets across the rocks, see rainbows in the mist, and feel the cool dampness on our skin.

I want to walk barefoot across the warm sugar white beaches of South Florida festooned with colorful shells. We’ll watch the ocean change color from soft green aquamarine to deep blue ultramarine. We’ll see sunrises, and sunsets, and twinkling stars reflected on the waves. We’ll watch showy white egrets with long feather plumes and bright golden slippers wade in the shallows and see silvery pods of frolicking dolphins break the surface of the water out in the depths.

And the wonders we’ll discover!

We will witness the grand spectacles of one hundred thousand migrating sandhill cranes along the Platte, twenty thousand broad-winged hawks boiling over the ridges above Lake Superior at Duluth, and a quarter million Brazilian free-tailed bats streaming out of Carlsbad Caverns at dusk. We’ll ponder the mysteries of the great civilizations of the mound builders at Cahokia rising above the prairie on the banks of the confluence of great rivers, the ancient and mysterious Anasazi cliff dwellers of Colorado at Mesa Verde, and the fossil remains of the giant thundering lizards of Utah at the Dinosaur Natural Monument.

Welcome to the world sweet baby girl. Welcome to a lifetime of adventure and mystery, a world filled with wonder and beauty. I am privileged to be able to guide you and your sister on this voyage of discovery. I wouldn’t miss a moment!

***

755 words

Our little Lovey Dovey

At an early three weeks along, we found out we were pregnant. At almost 9 weeks, we lost the baby – still unsure of why to this day. Devastated, the word “baby” tore my heart apart for months. I will never forget that day, or the emotions that surround it.

Four months later, unbeknownst to us, our “Rainbow Baby” was conceived. Careful to not share the news too early, we were elated when were able to announce to family that Kendall Nicole was due on April 8, 2012. A high risk pregnancy resulted in extra sonograms and fetal monitoring. During a bi-weekly routine visit, our doctor told me that our baby was coming two-and-a-half weeks early, “today!”

I headed for the hospital with an unknown journey ahead of me. Waking up on that Tuesday morning – the first day of Spring and my late Grammy’s birthday – I had no idea that day would forever be one of the very best days of my life.

In the last seven years, our little angel baby has given me so much joy; brought me to tears with pride; made me laugh until my cheeks hurt; taught me how to live, love and be a mommy; challenged me to new depths; encouraged me, pushed me, inspired me; seen me at my best and my worst; and loved me unconditionally, just as I have her.

She is loved by everyone who knows her, and she has yet to meet a stranger. She is outgoing and bubbly, full of everlasting energy. She’s beautiful and not just on the outside – she’s got a big heart made of solid gold, always wanting to help someone who needs it – sometimes even those who don’t. She’s funny – full of wit and spunk. She’s sensitive, her feelings get hurt a little easily and she wears her heart on her sleeve, but she’s resilient and doesn’t let it keep her down.

She’s smart, man is she smart. She doesn’t let anything slip by her. She observes, takes everything in, and then analyzes the information surprisingly accurately. She’s intuitive and inquisitive and she retains EVERYTHING.

She wants to be good, but knows the exact times she can get by with being “bad”. She’s dramatic, constantly keeping us on our toes. She’s a darn good big sister, and a proud little sister. She’s humble and giving, despite being a little spoiled.

She loves to play; she loves hugs (and sometimes kisses); she loves to be tickled; she likes to feel grown up, but likes to be “babied” sometimes, too; she is honest (except when she doesn’t know why her sister is crying); she loves to sing and dance and she does them both anytime and anywhere; she loves ice cream and pizza lunchables; she loves princesses, magic, and the colors pink and orange. She is unique, independent and exudes confidence. She never ceases to amaze me.

I often look at Kendall (and Collins) and wonder what I could have ever done in life to deserve someone so special to call my daughter(s) – I sure am one very lucky momma!

In honor of Collie’s birthday week, I would like to share an article that my mom wrote about Kendall. On Collie’s birthday, I will also share the one my mom penned about her. Birthdays are often emotional and difficult, but the opportunity to both share and read the words my mom has written, allow us to continue to live on through her legacy.

Vernal Princess

by

Carol McFeeters Thompson

Welcome to the world my beautiful granddaughter, born on the first day of spring. Your birth day was the vernal equinox, one of the great solar festivals marking the spring day when the sun crosses directly over the earth’s equator and day and night are about equal in length. Just as the dawn is a time of new light, the vernal equinox is a time of new life, of wild flowers, and budding leaves, and birdsong, when after a long winter we are assured that life will continue. What a special day to meet you for the first time!

I gaze at you as you sleep, your face so perfectly peaceful, innocent, and angelic, and my mind is awhirl with all of the wonders that I want to show you. I will share with you the magic of all of my favorite things and help you to find your own niche in the world.

We’ll lie on our backs in the sweet green grass and watch fluffy white cumulus clouds piling up on the horizon. We’ll run for the porch when we see the first jagged bolts of white-hot lightning threading across a purple sky in the distance, and count the seconds until the first crack of thunder. When the tempest has passed, we’ll don red rubber boots to stomp and splash in the mud puddles the storm left behind. We’ll marvel at the myriad colors of the rainbow and try to chase it to its source to find the fabled pot of gold.

We’ll watch for “little people” beneath the umbrellas of the may apples and hear their excited chatter in the gurgling of a stream. We’ll eat blackberries and strawberries and ice cream before dinner.

We’ll go down to the pond, find tracks in the mud and read the stories they chronicle. We’ll watch Canada geese lead rafts of fuzzy bronze goslings. We’ll listen to the spring frog chorus, catch tadpoles and toadpoles with homemade nets, and watch their miraculous transformations to frogs and toads. We’ll wonder at glittering dragonflies dancing above sun-spangled ripples.

The natural world is such a beautiful place!

We’ll catch the first swirling, twirling snowflakes of winter on our mittens, and eyelashes and feel them melt on our tongues. We’ll try to find two that are exactly alike as we marvel at their intricate six-pointed perfection. We’ll delight that each sparkles like diamonds in silvery moonlight.

I want to show you mountains and waterfalls, vast prairies, forests, and oceans, and capture your imagination with the lazy soaring of eagles on invisible air currents and the eerie tremolo of a loon echoing across a northern lake. We’ll share the fluttering of butterflies, the meanderings of ants, and we’ll fiddle for water striders that dimple the surface tension. We’ll twirl in a meadow filled with twinkling fireflies and try to converse with them with the beam of a flashlight.

We’ll gaze at the shimmering curtains of the aurora borealis across the great wash of the Milky Way; compare Betelgeuse the red star and Rigel the blue star, both part of the constellation Orion the Giant. I’ll tell you the myths and stories along a walk across the heavens. And we’ll make wishes on showers of stardust.

We’ll make castles of sand and twig boats to sail puddles, skip rocks on the lake, make an acorn cap whistle, and poke a fire with a stick.

Together, we’ll celebrate life and all Nature’s wonders. I’ll see the world through your eyes and you’ll see it through mine.

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com

Happy Birthday, Maxwell Kent

Written almost three years ago, but still an appropriate homage to Max, a very special boy {excuse me, young man – 15 already?!} in my life!

I went to bed last Tuesday night, expecting the following day to go one way, only to wake up to a completely readjusted schedule. I had planned to take a loved one for a surgical procedure in the morning and then attend the semester’s first night of on-campus class that evening. Due to the snow, both events were canceled. Sometimes, life just has that remarkable way of working out. This change in schedule allowed for playing in the snow with the girls during the day, followed by the opportunity to be at home in the evening when Max arrived, to celebrate his twelfth birthday.

I have known Max for the majority of his life. I was present for his very first birthday, and have now spent the last six birthdays celebrating both the little boy he once was, and the young man he has more recently become.

Max has always been a very handsome boy, but his tender and loving heart is what sets him apart from the rest. I will never forget the first time I fell asleep with him cuddled up in my arms or how special I felt the first time he told me he loved me, giving me a beautiful hand drawn picture that I still have.

I imagine it must be difficult to have divorced parents. I know I have not always been the best at my step-mom role, but I have always tried hard and had the best intentions in mind. I’m thankful to both of Max’s parents for my opportunity to love, learn from, and grow with, their son. I remember my mom telling me on several occasions that there is not a manual that comes with new parents, teaching them how to successfully raise that particular child. Unfortunately, there is not a manual for step-parents, either (although there are a million people with a variety of opinions). Generally, you just do the best you can and hope that is good enough.

I have always been lucky to have Max, and his sister, Maci, in my life. We have done some incredible things together, making memories that I hope they will take with them into their adult lives.

We were all laughing the other day about our Wisconsin ski trip about six years ago. It was a complete disaster, from Max with an unstoppable nosebleed in the middle of the bunny hill to Maci flying down the same hill, somehow stopping gracefully at the bottom to catch herself on a picnic table that we were sure she was going to crash into.

More recently, we flew to Fort Myers Beach, Florida. We stayed right on the beach, went parasailing, and caught hundreds of live sand dollars. To highlight a few of my other favorite trips: We have canoed down Sugar Creek in Indiana, camped at Indiana beach, and stayed in St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play baseball. We have gone to concerts, taken the train to Chicago to the Shedd Aquarium – stopping to watch Frozen on Ice, and we spent a weekend for my last birthday in a cabin near Starved Rock. Closer to home, we have spent numerous times playing at Weldon Springs catching wooly worms, paddle-boating, going fishing, having cookouts, finding four-leaf clovers and watching the hummingbirds.

As a family, we have also stayed home and enjoyed the pleasure of each other’s company, spending quality time together doing nothing but just that. Our memories together are countless, and I know they will not remember them all, but I hope that at least one sticks out to each of them and they will forever hold it in a special place in their hearts.

So, to Max on his twelfth birthday:

Happy birthday, buddy. It has been a remarkable journey together so far. I have enjoyed watching you grow each year. I apologize for my shortcomings, but I have never had anything but love for you. I don’t say it enough, but I am very proud of you. You are the best big (and little) brother, you are a dedicated friend and athlete, you are an outstanding student and a loving son (and step-son). I hope this year brings you many new memories and experiences, but allows you to remember the old. Thank you for sharing your life with me, the good and the bad.

“I didn’t give you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you.” – anonymous

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com