Saturday, December 31, 2016

And they are off......

This may or may not be a surprise but Lauren's high school years were a bit, shall we say turbulent? Ahem. Life was never dull and what I wouldn't have given to hear her agree with us on anything; literally anything. For whatever reason during those colorful years, she would declare randomly, "Just wait. As soon as I graduate, I am moving to Texas." To this day, neither of us know why she chose Texas as her go to location but isn't it funny how life works out?

The adolescent years weren't pretty and there were many tearful seasons but our relationship evolved into friendship the last few years. Sending her to Texas and then onto whatever the future holds for her and Taylor isn't easy. I am excited for her but I feel undone and watching her say goodbye to her siblings was brutal.

Taylor flew home last Friday evening to spend Christmas with family and then move Lauren to Texas with him. It was shaping up to be an emotional week of letting go for the couple when the sudden loss of a friend to a car accident on Tuesday threw us all for a loop. "Big Amy" as the kids called Brandon was in the wedding as a close friend of Taylor's.  He was a gentle giant who was well liked by everyone. He was pretty special. The kids are devastated and emotionally wrecked. So while Taylor was asked to serve as a pall bearer, he will be unable to attend as result of his commitment to be back on Goodfellow AFB the day of the funeral. He and Lauren left heartbroken this morning.

Despite how conflicted they felt about leaving, they are off. Their future together awaits......

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

The downfall to celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve is having an excited seven year old two nights in a row unable to fall asleep; the anticipation is too great. So I have all this sweet time to edit photos and relive the highlights from a full and joyful day.

Taylor flew in last night and requested breakfast today. I had already planned the traditional steak and crab dinner so adding breakfast just meant I got more time with the kids than I thought I would given how many different celebrations Taylor is committed to attending every Christmas.

Breakfast was loud with laughter, stories and the banter that never missed a beat despite his four months away. And then we started opening packages and the volume increased as did the excitement. It was a different celebration for us with the addition of both Taylor and Jake but they both fit in comfortably. We hadn't yet finished our gift exchange when my parents arrived with their own contributions. Everyone was spoiled. However, both Lauren and Erin had strong objections to taking their stockings home with them today. They are now considered adults in our home and neither one is happy about it.

My dad insists Makenna needs a bell to order room service and command her mother's attention after surgery. So a new bell was gifted to her. Grandpa is trouble.

My sister and her family arrived early this afternoon so we were blessed to host fifteen for dinner! It was perfect. I spent a few minutes taking it all in as everyone made their plates and exchanged stories. I won't have this group together again for awhile since Lauren and Taylor leave next week.

This afternoon, Kate and Ty sprinkled reindeer food on the lawn and Layla promptly digested as much as she could locate. Ty was pretty worried given the amount of flying powder he used in his jar. A flying Layla would not be welcomed.

Tonight the traditional version of the Night Before Christmas I have been reading with my kids since 1996 was read before Ty selected some treats for Santa. Bedtime is taking some time despite how tired we know Ty is because he can't wait to see what Santa has decided to bring him this year.

Our Christmas Day will be quiet but spent preparing our home for Makenna's surgery Monday morning. It is the calm I will require to make it through this coming week. And of course this means the Christmas tree and all other decorations will be tucked away in the attic before I rest. This is how I choose to spend my Christmas Day every year while the kids enjoy their new toys. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I have wrestled a bit with the reality you would be turning thirteen today; a teenager. How is that possible? I wonder what conversations we could be having and if you would be athletic, creative, analytical, silly. Would you be confident or timid? I suppose on one hand you are the lucky one who gets to miss all the angst of hormones, middle school and broken hearts but I still wish I could love you through it all.

When we first lost you, I lost myself for a long time. The brokenness I felt impacted so much of my daily life, how I interacted with others and who I allowed to get close. I wasn't me. There were times the pain was so strong I had to remind myself to breathe and then got angry because I did. I thank God for the little girls who needed their mother because without them to continue mothering, I honestly don't know how I would have moved past those initial months of grief.

As the days turned to months and the months into years, I started to find my footing but I still harbored anger toward your birth mother. I couldn't bring myself to look her in the eye and forgive her even though I knew how desperately she needed authentic forgiveness. Frankly, I needed that release as well. It took me way too long to feel as though I could exonerate her from the hold I had. I will carry the burden of that for as long as it takes her to accept the grace she has always deserved.

You would be so proud of her. She is the mother she always wanted to be. She has a beautiful family she gets to serve and love every day. She is joyful and has defeated the addiction that held her hostage for so many years. But as I have navigated finding a balance between remembering you and moving forward, I have stumbled. I still can't tolerate people who lie about kids and draw very strong boundary lines when I know they have. God has some more work to do on me in this area.

There are brief moments now that I surprise myself by how I can remember something you did with a smile rather than tears. A friend of Makenna's had a baby this summer at the same gestation you were born. I held my breath for days praying that sweet momma wouldn't be saying goodbye to her precious little girl. As the photos and milestone updates flowed, I remembered with less pain than those hospital images used to invoke. I am proud of me. Moving forward without guilt isn't easy. I will never forget you and there will still be moments my breath catches or tears fill my eyes but I am okay and your birth mom is too.

I hope birthdays in heaven are joyful and you know God has worked on my broken heart these past thirteen years in such a way as to hopefully allow His light to shine through it. I love you Ryan Patrick. I always will. Happy thirteenth birthday sweet boy.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Traditions

Friday I surprised Ty with the Reindeer food bar after school. Anna had been asking about making it since she remembered doing it with us last year. I didn't host a North Pole party this year because Anna's family doesn't incorporate Santa in their festivities but they joined us for the Galt House Kaleidoscope event. It was fun to share the experience with them.

We also got a lead on the final scavenger hunt item after a week of searching. We can finally scratch carolers off our list. I am grateful as my alternative solution was to stand in the front yard and sing for the kids so we could say we completed it. As anyone who has ever heard me sing can attest, that would be a rather unfortunate ending for not only my children but also my innocent neighbors. To play it safe, carolers will not be included on next year's list.

I debated sending Christmas cards and a letter this year. I keep up with the blog and Facebook so most of our friends and family are able to see what is going on in our lives if they so choose. But a lot happened in our world this year (isn't this true every year?) so I conceded once again.

This year's letter:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas……not really but the under ten crowd is convinced none the less. Ty found himself home alone with both of his parents this evening (November 7) and after a rousing game of bowling on the wii, requested The Polar Express movie. So just like that, we are anticipating the arrival of the big guy in red. The wait shall be brutal but as we look at how quickly they grow, the magic of the season can linger after all. Ty is our last little one and we know this period of wonder won’t last long enough. 

It has been a very busy 2016. Lauren surprised us with a wedding we had six weeks to pull together. Only immediate family and few of their friends were in attendance but the intimate ceremony was charming and beautiful. Taylor feels very much a part of the family and his presence has been missed since August when he left for basic training. Lauren was able to see him graduate from basic training in South Carolina November 3. He is currently in Texas for AIT where Lauren will be joining him immediately after Christmas. As of May, the army will be moving them onto whatever adventure awaits them from there. We are anxious to see Taylor for Christmas and Lauren is anticipating being with her husband again. Her mother is torn between excitement for them as a couple and the desire to hold her close. 

Erin started working for the oral surgery department at the University of Louisville full time while holding onto a part time position with Aspen Dental who hired her out of her internship in 2015. She stops by to raid the fridge every now and then but living across town and holding two jobs keeps her running. She has a special man in her life. She met Jake around the time she held the maid of honor title for two weddings and is thinking toward the future with him. 

Makenna dislocated her knee cap in January. And in August. And again in September. She recently failed six weeks of physical therapy so surgery will wrap her 2016. In fact, she gets to have a new ligament for Christmas. We are a festive group around here. Despite life in a knee brace, she has maintained honor roll, a part time job, endless hours in technical theater and a whole host of friendships. At sixteen she is strong and determined. She hopes to gain a driver’s license in the new year. Given all her commitments, her parents are ready too. 

Kate started middle school in July and in October came home to finish her middle school years. She is a sweet fifth grader who is eager to please and is learning a lot about the world. She loves gymnastics but is missing a few months of classes as result of a concussion she sustained when she failed to land a double back flip. The desire to flip all over the place is strong with this one so being confined to walking has been tough on her.  She has discovered she enjoys shopping with her sisters, lingering over books with her mom and crocheting.

Our little man is so much fun. God really knew what he was doing when he surprised us with that little package! He is having a great first grade year. He loves to read, play Legos, be a super hero (including a soldier like Taylor) and play with friends. He makes his own play dates now and takes everything very literally. His teacher reports he is a very serious little guy and we see a lot of perfectionist tendencies in his personality as well. Who has to set a goal for their seven year old to relax?  

Greg has experienced a few job changes within UPS. In his current position, he supervises the international accounts working with customs agents. He is mastering smoking brisket, ribs, pork, and chicken. His wife loves this hobby (his co-workers don’t mind either). He has been hunting and taken two overnight trips with the little ones to see new cities in Indiana. We have discovered how nice it is to take just one age group out for events rather than forced family fun involving teens. 

I am still busier than I would prefer but believe this too shall pass all too soon. I keep little ones, run a very busy house, maintain a bible study, read, and have added a regular workout to my calendar. I am in my fourth year following a Paleo(ish) diet and the benefits are keeping me mostly on course. I am stronger in my forties than I imagined possible in my thirties with my arthritis diagnosis.  

In case you are interested, I still post updates on the blog ( Please stay in touch!

We want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and very blessed New Year.

With love, The Baughman Family

Greg, Sherri, Erin (21), Lauren (20), Taylor (19), Makenna (16), Kate (11) and Ty (7)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt 2016

Much to our delight, Greg was available to join our annual scavenger hunt this evening. We spent a few chilly minutes exploring a park full of light exhibits until we declared ourselves wimps and elected to find a coffee shop instead. The rest of our list was completed from the comfort of our heated van. We are weak. But it was fun and the family time was exactly what we needed tonight.

Monday, December 5, 2016

December to Remember

Oh December, you are a month full of so many bittersweet memories. I choose to focus on joy but those breath catching moments surprise me every now and then anyway. As I turned the calendar to your page last week, I froze. Here it is. December. Greg will work eighty hours a week, the kids' energy will remain at mach ten in anticipation of Christmas and there will be insanely long to do lists. The days will turn cold and gray. This is the month we celebrate Ryan's short life and this year we will add sending Lauren off to start a journey away from us. We decided to toss in surgery for Makenna for good measure too. Why not?

But as we unpacked Christmas decorations, Brutus resumed his spot on Santa's lap, as he has done for the last twelve years. The kids recalled making ornaments and special memories of previous Christmases were shared. They collected the books for snuggling by the light of the Christmas tree and for a brief moment, our home felt full of all the things that make life perfect.

I cannot change the past, the current demands on Greg's time or the energy level of the kids but I can make the most of the time I get to spend with my family. I have changed the to do lists a bit. There will be Christmas light scavenger hunts with hot cocoa, baking for friends and lots of Christmas books read. We will go to bed early often and have dance parties. I have meals with friends planned and Christmas movies too. Family games have been featured on the dining table since Thanksgiving and the daily impromptu Uno or Racko battles insure they will remain for the season.

December won't be perfect. No month is. But I will be making the most of it so that when we pull out memories from this Christmas next year, my heart won't be quite so heavy.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Baughman Christmas

We took a day trip to see Greg's family today to celebrate a very early Christmas. Everyone was once again spoiled and had a great time. The little cousins are able to take off and enjoy games they have previously created at Grandma's house each visit so our time together never feels like it lasts quite long enough.

When you tell Grandma someone needs new shoes, don't be surprised when she is excited to see him open them. These shoes have built in compasses and lights that alternate through a series of colors. We anticipate Ty and his friends will be distracted at school next week but both Grandma and Ty are delighted.

It didn't go unnoticed Lauren won't be back for quite some time. And Grandma is worried she won't have tech support ready to sit down with her for awhile. Each time the girls come over, she has a list of things she wants them to help her learn on her phone. The last visit in October left her with a list of texting shortcuts she has to explain to her friends and family when she uses. The girls insure their grandma is cool.