Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stormy day

Today marks two years of Daniel's passing.

Somehow I didn't expect the storm clouds to move in. But they have.

I guess that writing the book as a tribute to Daniel's life has allowed me to suppress my grief in many ways.

This is the time of year when it really hits home. Just how much I miss that little guy.

And even though our life seems complete, at times I feel the pain and sadness swirling around me like dark storm clouds.

Thankfully, God always gives us the rainbow. When we feel peace and comfort in knowing where Daniel is.

And we feel tremendous joy and gratitude each time we look at our beautiful children.

Thinking of you today, Daniel, and we all miss you very much.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thankful for my post as "Mom"

I want this child to know what a special soul she is. Truly beautiful both inside and out.

I want her to know how blessed I feel to call her my daughter.

She made Mother's Day so special.

Madi's been stuffing a shoe box for weeks with special homemade cards and pictures she's worked on.

She could hardly contain herself, and I thought she'd explode from keeping all of her surprises in.

In fact, Madi was so excited for Mother's Day that we had to bump it up a day and celebrate on Saturday.

The week before, she made me cry sentimental tears by announcing, "Mommy, you need to spend some time alone with Bubba." (my mom) "I want you two to spend all day together on Saturday, and you don't have to come home until 4:30."

She's just so darn thoughtful for a six-year old.

Bubba and I enjoyed a relaxing Mother-daughter brunch together on Saturday and even hit a couple of stores on our way home. Of course, when I called to check in at 1:00, Madi was already wondering what time I'd be home:)

Then, she presented me with a play that she'd written and choreographed called, "The Monkey Show."  I wish I had pictures. Jimmy and Charlie were the monkeys, and she made Daddy wear one of my skirts. It's not a good thing when your husband fits into your skirt, but it was hilarious nonetheless. According to Jimmy, she'd been planning the skit for weeks, and they had rehearsed  several times. He got a big 'ole kick out of it.  Charlie's role was restricted to answering simple questions, but sadly he wasn't in the mood to participate that day. It didn't matter, the show was precious.

That night in bed, Madi said extra prayers for Daddy...because he might be sad on Mother's Day since he doesn't have his Mommy here with us.

Sunday morning, I kept quiet in bed as I heard her sweet whisperings to Daddy in the bedroom and the kitchen. I knew my daughter was plotting more special treats for me. God love her, she works so hard to put special things together. I heard some clanking around and then she and Jimmy came in singing and presented me with a small plate of marshmallows on toothpicks, several M&M's, and a few pieces of dark chocolate. A cup of coffee made this breakfast of champions complete. And after she and I polished off most of the treats, she decided it was time to bring little Mister into the scene.

After 8:30 Mass, we drove down to visit our little angel and Grandma Pauline. It was a great day spent with family. God, I am so grateful for mine. I count my blessings every day.

The product of an older sister...

Sorry, Charlie. You're in trouble until you're old enough to defend yourself...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pop Tab Party 2012

After Daniel left us for Heaven, our family (and friends) began actively collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. While our son was in the hospital, we stayed at the Miami facility for twenty nights. And our total bill was less than $300. It was such a blessing.

Last year—about this same time—I drove Madi and a few of her preschool friends down to the Ronald McDonald House in FTL to deliver our second annual collection of pop tabs. Our stash had grown from the year before. In fact, we had gobs of them. It was such a successful and meaningful trip for the girls that Peggie (the preschool director) offered to distribute a flyer to all of the preschool parents and church parishioners at the beginning of the new school year about our fundraising efforts.

Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by a mother named Pamela, who was feeling called upon by God to provide for the same cause. Through our email correspondence, it was revealed that her four year old son (who attended the same preschool as Madi) had Tetralogy of Fallot as a baby, just like Daniel. Not only was he operated on in the same hospital as our son, but also by the hands of the very same surgeon. Pamela's family had stayed in the same Ronald McDonald House as we had. The two of us had goose bumps as we read each other’s emails, and uncovered so many parallels in our lives. The Holy Spirit had indeed put us together. Pamela distributed a beautiful letter to her daughter’s school in a neighboring town to spread word of our shared pop tab initiative.

And over the course of the year, we continued to collect tabs. Jimmy picked up several large loads of pop tabs from the school, and we stored them in our garage. I mean lots of them—in Ziploc bags, in plastic jugs, water bottles and in milk crates—all donated by the parishioners and preschool families. 

When it was time to plan our delivery to the Ronald McDonald House last month, my heart was tugging at me. It bothered me that only a few children (ten to fifteen max) would be able to partake in a tour of the house and the "passing of the pop tabs" when so many people had been involved in the collection process. We clearly needed a different approach. So I decided to email Ronald McDonald himself and share our story with him. We quickly received a call from his kind assistant, Lorraine, and the ball began rolling. 

The plan was set to have Ronald show up on May 5th at the preschool to entertain as many kids as we could possibly gather. It was heartwarming to think that so many people would be included in the fun, especially since so many people had worked throughout the year to collect tabs in Daniel’s memory. This was certainly not one family’s project—it was widespread, and it was a beautiful collaborative effort.

Madi and I spent the last couple of weekends consolidating all of the tabs into several extra-large, extra-sturdy lawn bags. We ended up with approximately 134 pounds of tabs. That equals almost 170,000 of them—enough to provide a family with five nights at a Ronald McDonald House!

When we arrived at the school Saturday morning, we were amazed to find a large cardboard box filled with many more tabs and yet another very large plastic bag with an attached note that read:

“Dear Murphy Family, 

From the hearts and hands of the students, families, faculty, and staff at A.D. Henderson and FAU High, we would like to present you with this year’s collective effort in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities. Thank you for inspiring good deeds in others. May our pond continue to ripple.”

The note was from Pamela, the lovely mother whom I mentioned earlier. You can only imagine how that generous act of charity brought tears to our eyes. And then, Peggie handed me a wrapped package from “one mama to another.” It was also from Pamela. I opened the present to find the coolest necklace and earrings that were made from pop tabs!  It was such a special and meaningful gift, and it was quite a touching way to kick off our celebration.

As the time for Ronald’s appearance grew closer, we were joined by many families—some of them friends, some of them preschool children and parents, some of them church parishioners. It was a wonderful turnout. And Ronald was a wonderful entertainer. He told jokes and did magic tricks. All the kids—and the adults—truly enjoyed his performance.  At the end, we presented Ronald with our pop tab collection, which he graciously accepted on behalf of the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

It was a great day. Much more awareness was created about the pop tab program (, and we feel certain that our sweet angel was smiling down upon us. Our life’s work is to keep Daniel alive by sharing his spirit.  Thanks little buddy.

The truck pulls up!

Ronald with Madi and Sophia
The first volunteer from the audience:)
Presentation of a beautiful certificate for the school
Jesus with the pop tab collection:)
Thumbs up, Ronald!
Daniel...always driving our hearts.

Monday, May 7, 2012


I love when the Holy Spirit shows up in the simple parts of our everyday life.

Madi had a school project due today. Of course, we've known about this project for weeks, and even though Madi chose her subject--the turtle--right away, we waited until the last possible moment to get the job done. Typical Murphy's Law fashion.

She and I were a bit thrown off because there are just so many types of turtles to research.  Too many actually. Which type of turtle should we hone in on?  Let's just work on it later...

But last Friday afternoon, as we pulled into our driveway after Girl Scouts, Madi and I spotted something rather large and unusual in our driveway. Well, guess what it was? Yep. A giant turtle. 

Turns out it was a Florida Softshell Turtle.  So guess which type of turtle Madi happened to do her project about?  With a couple of nice photographs included, I might add.  I just know she'll get 100% again...


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Basic Communication

It's something that I've taken for granted.

And I never really thought about how frustrating it just might be

to be unable to successfully (and easily) communicate.

That's where Charlie's at lately.

He's been a bit of a whiner, to say the least. And trying to figure out why is so darn difficult.

Is it simply his failure to communicate that sets him off?  Or is it just that he's 2 1/2?

Clingy because he's become accustomed to the undivided attention that he was denied for 1.5 years?

Of course, I always go there.  Hubby thinks that it's much simpler than that.  He believes that Charlie plays me like a fiddle because...well...because he can, and I'll respond.

Perhaps he's right. Hopefully, in 6 - 12 months, Charlie will be speaking fluently and the whole mystery will be solved.

In the meantime, he's trying so hard to be understood. And he gets so totally frustrated by our inability to "get" what he's saying.

On a positive note, even though our son's favorite response is still 'no', a couple of months ago, he began to nod his head to give us an affirmative response. This is hugely helpful, believe it or not!