Archive of ‘Familia’ category

San Francisco – Our Day in Pictures

By Natalie


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Riding on the trolly with Laura. Grandparents may or may not have been left careening downward on that fast moving trolly. Don’t worry, we were sure to leave them with light saber Jesus.


Exactly. What on earth, why was this random picture on the trolly?

we may have been terribly split up from the rest of the family but it’s alright because as Laura so perfectly described it, this experience was like a weird dream. Unexpectedly split up into several different groups, and then there was the three of us, walking around Chinatown with Dad and Natalie.

We did however take the time on our quest to regroup to see fun places like this building.



And then it just kind of hits you all at once. Woah I’m across the country! I’m in San Francisco.



And then you see things that remind you of your pup at home.


But trust me Bingley is having a grand old time. I know, because we’ve been receiving pictures like these.. Playtime with his best bud Jack.

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Weekend in Pictures

By Natalie

Do you ever have those weekends where you finally get a chance to sit Sunday night, and you wonder “What on earth did I do all weekend?” Mondays are not my favorite. I can’t imagine they’d be anyone’s favorite. It’s not so much the going back to work part. I enjoy my job. It’s the leaving the family behind part that I really dread. After a weekend full of love, and events with family I find it difficult to muster up the strength to lock Bingley up in his crate for the day, and drop B off for a similarly long day.

This past weekend was beautiful. It was hot, after all it’s June. Welcome summer. We missed you.

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My weekend started off with a long trail walk next to the Bug. Should I mention he is huge? There was a time when I could pick him up in my arms, to walk the poor little stinker out in the dark in the wee hours of the morning. And then he grew. Faster than my eyes and heart could handle.


Oh Friday night. How my young heart feels you should be honored as the king of weekend happiness. But my married heart of 3 years remembers… It’s just another night. And we’ve worked all week. We’re kind of tired. And Friday night, we enjoyed you in our dating years. We still do. But these days we seem to enjoy you more in the comfort of our own home. Is that so bad? Enjoying your Friday night freedom in our pjs, watching Netflix, with maybe a bag of popcorn, and a soda.


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I headed off to Richmond with the fam for a very important event for all of us…

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The 3rd annual 2014 Lupus Summit. We spent the day becoming more educated on my sister’s illness. The summit included several doctor’s who were so gracious to provide their time to help loved ones better understand this autoimmune disease, and all the treatments that are out there.

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As hard as I tried, and tried, The only family member who was not camera shy was Sean.

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And he was just kind of being a goober. We’re all kind of goobers when we get together. My sister Nadir and I are grown women, and for some reason I find that when we get together for things like this we just seem to get all giggly, and act like children. Something that only a sisterly friendship could consist of.

After the doctors had a chance to speak. We were sent off into breakouts. We attended an informal Lupus Caregivers session where we were able to voice the difficulties we were feeling. I had no idea it would be so relieving to hear that there are other people out there who feel just the same way. And their loved one with lupus is going through all the heartache, pressure, doctor’s appointments, and struggles that my sister Nem is going through. I walked out of that room and when I saw her waiting for us I gave her a hug. Because I’ve been frustrated too. I’ve wanted to do more. And after feeling so much relief from voicing a few thoughts I knew that it was time to just give her a hug, and realize that she’s still my same sister.

And then there was Rita’s…

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That Saturday evening it was hot. When you’re in the car in the sweltering heat, and your husband turns to you and says “Rita’s?” You do not protest. First cherry italian ice of the summer. 2014, I see a good future in you.

Happy Mother’s Day

By Natalie

I’ve been working on a little piece for the mothers today, and it seems so perfect to finish it on such a lovely morning. Can I just tell you how much I adore mornings? No, not weekday mornings where I’m in denial that in 10 minutes I can get ready, make my coffee, pack my lunch, feed Bing, and walk out the door. Weekend Mornings, Holiday mornings, vacation mornings. Where you can sleep in, and hubby has breakfast prepared when you wake. Those are the ones I live for. When It feels so beautiful out that I decide to go ahead and put my sundress on for the day, and sip my coffee while watching Bingley’s desperate attempts to catch a fleeting butterfly. Do I even have to mention the birds? Chirping is happiness, and I bask in it, just as much as the sunlight.

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Now, for the mamas…

Happy Mother’s Day of course. Seems so silly really to dedicate one day to you, when you deserve to be praised every day. Because being a mom is about being there everyday, and every night. I’ve spoken on the subject before here.

If you were wondering what my mom is like this picture of her walking me down the aisle describes her to a tee.


Mother’s Day is kind of a big deal to my mom. And I don’t blame her, cause you know, she raised us on her own. Mother’s Day is hers, and recently Father’s Day has been dedicated to her as well. As she juggled the roles of mom, and Dad. I don’t believe I could ever do that alone, or as well as she did. There was one night when I was confused about why we were moving for the 5th or sixth time, and I sat in my room packing my things rather angrily. My mom came in and sat on the floor next to me, and she apologized. She apologized that she couldn’t give me more, and that we were always uprooting, and I’m sure she was hoping one day I would understand. Now… I do understand. I wish my mom never felt the need to apologize for the wonderful life she blessed us with. She must know that she was an incredible example of an obedient, and strong woman of God. She always put us girls first. She prayed for our safety, and futures daily. And we are only the women we are today, because she was faithful in those things.

There are so many motherly figures in my life that I feel deserve their shout outs today.

To my mom – I love you, and thank you.

To my beautiful aunt – Thanks for teaching me to cook! And always taking us in as your own.

To my loving sisters – You are my best friends, and I can’t thank you enough for providing me with guidance and wisdom.

To my Mama Poe – Thank you for welcoming me into your large, and beautiful family. One of these days, I really just need to let you teach me to garden.

To my sister-in-laws, and cousins – You’re all fabulous mothers, as I’m sure you know. Your examples of motherhood are as much precious to me as your children.

Cheers to you mamas, have a fabulous day!

Lupus Walk

By Natalie

imageWe did it. We walked for the second time as a family in D.C. to raise Lupus Awareness. The morning of the walk we drove to the metro station which I will have to excitedly admit is one of my favorite things on earth. I know. Kind of lame right? I need to get out more. It’s the only type of railway vehichle I’ve ever been on, and I’m facsinated by it. Just you wait until you get me on a real train… I won’t be able to contain my excitement.

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Once our family had all arrived and corralled together we began our mile and a half walk toward the Capitol. That’s it. Such a simple act to show support, and turn some heads on the busy street. The Grand Marshall of our event this year just so happened to be Nick Cannon. Kind of random? Not at all. Cannon was diagnosed with Lupus in 2012, and he’s made it his mission to raise awareness, as he too is still learning more about the disease. He cut the ribbon with oversized purple scissors, and we were off. Sent as a sea of purple consuming the streets of D.C.

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Nothing makes me happier than doing something out of the ordinary with my Saturday. So you can imagine I’d been looking forward to this event for quite some time. Not only did I enjoy every bit of this day, but for the first time in a long time I was able to see my big sister smile. And it wasn’t just any old smile. If I could describe it in a word I would descibe it as a smile of relief. Relief to be surrounded by so many people who understood what she’s going through.

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That doesn’t mean that she magically felt a million times better, because she didn’t. I’d love to say that the walk was just what she needed. To get out, spend time with all of us, and be carefree. But it wasn’t. The reality of her disease is that no matter how hard she tries to ignore it, no matter how many people try to help, no matter how happy she is, her body is the one who eventually gets the last say, echoing in her mind “I’m done, I’m hurting.” Her joints ache with every movement. Her muscles cry out in fatigue, and weakness.

That afternoon the three of us girls went to a Nationals game with our husbands. Feeling perfectly content snapping photos, and giggling with Nadir, I thought surely Nem is feeling great. All I’ve seen her do is smile, but then I glanced over and noticed the slightest wince in her face as she was trying desperately to overcome her discomfort. I quickly remembered noticing the same face a few days before Christmas when the three of us girls went to see the Nutcracker ballet. She furrowed her brow next to me. She fidgeted in her seat. She was silent on the way home. And I remember thinking to myself “Why can’t you just be better? Why can’t I make you laugh? Why must an illness take over your physical body like it does? You are the big sister. You’re the one who’s supposed to tell me everything’s going to be ok.”

But she is such a fighter.

If I have 100 questions for her body she must have 10,000. Through hearing her descriptions of her symptoms I’m not so sure I could do it myself. I’m certain I would curl up in bed, and never leave my home. The fact that she is even able to get up most mornings is a wonder to me. I wanted the Lupus Walk to be the push she needed. I wanted it to help her. But all it could have ever done was make her happy inside, and feel the slightest bit of relief. Every day for her will be a new day with it’s own set of challenges, and flares.

I know you visited today dear reader with the expectation of sunshine and daisies. To be honest I thought that day would be perfect too. And while we had a good time together, there is no denying the fact that Lupus remains an ever existent disease. Thank you so much for reading. Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for your support in helping me raise awareness. When did people start believing that they are of no use to world change, peace, or disease? You may not be the most intelligable, nor are you much of a speaker, but do you know that it all begins with you? Awareness begins with the smallest of us crying out to the world for a change. After all, I’m just a baby sister praying for a cure.

Little Boys & Legos

By Natalie

It’s not a coincidence that I work in pediatrics. My mom has always been in the school or social system. One of my sisters is an elementary school teacher, and my other sister is a children’s pastor. There’s something in our blood that aids us in connecting with children. Who doesn’t want to listen to kids chattering on about nonsense? And build lego towers with them, or make everything out to be super exaggerated? Or maybe that’s just me. You never know what to expect from their little minds.

I loved passing out Goldfish to tiny preschoolers in Kid’s Church. I loved being a nanny, and watching princess movies with 3 little girls. I love discovering all the new versions of Connect Four with the kiddos at work. I love watching sweet girls that somehow know just what to do with baby dolls. They cradle them, and feed them as if they were their very own. It’s a mystery to me. And the boys, they are even more of a mystery to me. I am fascinated by their ability to build structures from a few simple blocks. I attempt to give my hot wheels cars a vroom sound, but it is nothing in comparison to the dozens of different sound effects little boys are able to concoct.

One day I was watching my two little nephews. We sat on the living room floor in the midst of wooden train tracks leading to nowhere. Toy cars, planes, and lego pieces scattered along the rug. I picked up a green lego and began doing what I typically revert to when it comes to legos. Build a house. Find that square flat green piece, and build yourself a house upon it. Do you think the thought to build a house even crossed my nephew’s mind? Maybe, but the thought to construct a plane was much greater at the moment.. While I was busy swiveling the front door to my lego house he was jumping all about, plane in hand creating sounds I can’t even begin to mimic. “That’s a nice plane.” I said. “Aunt Natalie it’s a biplane. Because It has this piece on top.” He pointed to the top wing I guess you could call it. “Well then, I stand corrected. A biplane.” I had no idea. The next time we drove by small Shannon Airport I excitedly pointed to the plane narrowing in on it’s runway. “That was a biplane.” I told B. “What? How do you know that?” he asked suspiciously. “Our 4 year old little nephew taught me that!” B nodded his head in assurance that little boys know their planes.


Of Houses & Homes

By Natalie

I have a pet peeve, and it’s a silly sort of thing. I am very intentional when saying “We bought our first house” rather than our first home. I know it’s silly but it’s the truth. It’s the first house we’ve bought together. It’s not our first home. Our first home was our apartment. That was the first space we shared together, and made our own.homeGrowing up we moved several times. Which was not necessarily a bad thing. I owe my willingness for change to this. My need to redecorate and keep things fresh also derives from uprooting. It’s also the reason why I can randomly purge ridiculous amounts of items at any given time. Alright, purging mostly had to do with my cleanly aunt who can’t handle clutter. Every time we moved it was time to gather the troops. My aunt would come over and help my mom with packing. Somehow every time we settled down somewhere my mom seemed to be able to collect huge amounts of.. well stuff, just lots and lots of stuff. Thus making moves rather difficult. We would be sitting among massive amounts of my mom’s precious possessions, secretly tossing them when my mom turned her back. My aunt would look me in the eyes, trash bag in hand, and say “Natalie don’t collect junk, you learn to throw it away, or give it away.” I could see she was really trying to instill those words in me. For fear that I would end up the same. It was great advice, and I’m happy to say that I followed in my aunt’s footsteps. How many sentimental items are in your basement collecting dust? How is that even being enjoyed? Find something creative to do with your sentimental items, or toss them. Before you know it they will be closing in on you!

My point is, that I never felt like I had a home. We were either living with other people, or in a rental for a short amount of time. Nothing was ever permanent.

When I shared my first space with Brandon it was the first time that I actually felt like I was home. Purchasing our first house was a big step, and I am in love with it. But it was not our first home, it’s our current home. It wouldn’t matter where we lived or what house we owned. Wherever B is, is my home.

DIY: Family Tree

By Natalie

image (1)Many families choose have a gallery wall of family photos to display. I wanted to have something that incorporated our family in our home, but also fit well with our rustic theme. I came across this simple family tree on Pinterest. FamilyTree The best part about this project was that I didn’t have to purchase anything for it. Those are the best kind of DIYs. I have so many empty bottles and vases under my sink that I’m saving for some important purpose.Always good to save, you never know when they can come in handy.

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • Vase or bottle
  • Twigs from your own back yard
  • Yarn or String
  • Pictures, or Card stock to write names on.
  • Adhesive
  • Book Pages (Optional)
  • Pebbles (Optional)
  • Clothespins (Optional)

Decorate your vase however you’d like. I added a small piece of lace around mine. Toss your twigs in the vase, breaking off any small pieces that don’t fit right. I added small pebbles at the bottom of the vase to help the twigs stay as upright as possible. Then decide whether you want to cut out pictures of your family or write their names on paper. I preferred the uniform look of names on paper. Yes, I am that OCD. The book pages at the bottom of the cardstock was a last minute decision and I love the way they turned out! Old books are also a great thing to keep laying around. There are so many crafts that can be given a vintage touch by adding book pages. If you don’t have any books you want to tear the pages out of find out when your library is having a sale. Usually you can fill up a box or bag for chump change. Hit up Goodwill or a yard sale in the spring. My sister is a 4th grade teacher, and she was organizing her classroom’s library when she came across a beat up version of the Wizard of Oz. She was about to toss it as I looked on eagerly. Well if you’re going to toss it then I’ll take it! I said. A nice classic book is always nice to have for craft projects like this because if anyone gets close enough to read the page there won’t be anything odd on the cut outI’m speaking from personal experience of course.. If you are using book pages, cut them to fit the cardstock, and glue them together. Then punch holes through and attach the yarn. I used little clothespins I had from when I made my front door frame decor. If you don’t have clothespins you can always glue or tie your string to your cardstock or photo. All you have left to do is tie the string to the top of your twigs and voilà! You have yourself a family tree. image

Coping With My Sister’s Illness

By Natalie

In the fall of 2012 I discovered that my oldest sister Nem was diagnosed with Lupus. I hadn’t heard much about the auto immune disease but I knew it would be something very difficult for her to live with. All my life my sister has been this high energy, tightly scheduled, organized woman. She has always eaten healthy, and taken care of her body. How on earth could some illness come in and fight against her body the way that Lupus does? It’s called the invisible illness, with good reason. She appears to be just as normal as anyone else, but inside she feels pain, weakness, and fatigue. She may not feel able to smile much anymore, or laugh as often, which breaks my heart. But I know that she is trying.

I will admit that I have been a selfish sister. Questioning why she no longer has the energy for small outings, or spontaneous get togethers. She has always been someone I looked up to and love dearly. How is it that this person I care for so much can be in so much pain? Through all of my questioning, and frustration with her I began to realize that she is strong enough for this. If anyone were to cope with Lupus it is her. She is selfless in her sacrifices. She has enough strong will to fight. She has enough discipline to keep the healthy lifestyle her body needs. When God places obstacles in our way it’s so difficult to understand why. There is no doubt in my mind that my sister was chosen to fight this illness because she is strong enough. She has always been an inspiration to me, and that will never cease.

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This past year I have struggled with finding a way to support Nem. What words would be pressing enough to give her comfort? There is not much that I can say to make her feel any better. She has had to sacrifice her diet, lifestyle, and put her future dreams on hold. . The best thing I can do, and anyone can do is teach people about this illness. Spreading the word is just the beginning. Last year our family stood around Nem in the busy streets of D.C. at the annual Walk to End Lupus. We raised money for the foundation to help find a cure. I’m happy to say that we had a blast last year, and we will be walking again this April.

My sister, I know you struggle in your classroom, grasping any bit of energy you can to teach a pack of 4th graders. I know you struggle as a wife, which carries so much weight and responsibility in a home. I know you struggle as a sister, and daughter feeling as if you have not given us enough. But let me tell you today, you are most possibly the strongest woman I know to date. You have never been more inspiring, or beautiful to me. I nub you!I love you in our sister language. Yes we have a language that only the three of us understand. We are extra special.

To learn more about Lupus visit this webpage.


Motherly Love

By Natalie

When I was younger I had the worst migraines. They would come on so suddenly. I’d be sensitive to light, food, and scents which left me feeling nauseous. Though my younger dramatic self was convinced I needed to seek medical attention my mom was always able to patch me back together. She’d lay me down with a few saltine crackers, and turn on a funny movie for me. I’d lay there for hours until I felt better. All the while she would come check on me. She’d refill my ginger ale. Check my temperature. She’d make me feel cared for and safe. There was a time as a teenager that I slid down a gravel driveway, and scraped both of my knees. I was at a friend’s house and managed to laugh it off as blood poured down my legs. When I got home and saw my mother I crumpled in her arms. Full of emotion and pain I burst into tears. I couldn’t hide my pain from her. She sat me down, with a glass of water and bandaged my wounds.

The next day my mom took me to the doctor where they cleaned and bandaged me up. The nurse showed my mother how to wrap my knees properly, and she watched very intently. I squirmed a bit during the process but didn’t make a peep. The next day when it was time for her to clean and re-bandage my knees she made me as comfortable as possible. She propped a pillow and towel under my knees, and began the cleaning process. She did so in a very cautious manner, but goodness did I scream. She looked at me confused. “You didn’t make a sound when the nurse did it.” She said. “But you are my mom.” I thought. I can be vulnerable around you, and you will still love me. I screamed, and cried, and begged her to stop, but she knew best. When it was done, she patted me on the leg and said “Jah” like she always does when she wants me to calm down and realize something is over. The simple translation for it is essentially an abrupt “done!” I’d always feel embarrassed after I’d make such a scene. Yet I’m not sure if I ever thanked her for all she’d done for me when I grew up.

How a single mother was able to raise three sane girls is beyond me. We gave her some struggles I’m sure. Trying to keep up with the oldest, but also needing her support. Keeping the middle and the youngest from pulling hair, yelling, and clawing each other to death. She must have had the most difficult time with us. But she always kept us safe. She always made us feel beautiful. Ultimately, she tried her very best to give us everything she could.


I still marvel at the healing power mothers have. I will never understand it until I am one myself. I watch my sister-in-law Ashley with my two nephews, and how they adore her. Any little bump or scrape she can make better with a kiss, and a squeeze. To all of the young mothers out there I encourage you to fill your little ones with love, and positive words. Your words hold so much weight in your child’s heart. What you think of them is what they will think of themselves. Teach them to stand up when they fall, and learn from their mistakes. Comfort them when they are at their worst. Be patient with them when they are disobedient. You are your child’s comforter, and caretaker. Take pride in your role as their mother. Not every woman is blessed with the chance.

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