Ganelle Black

This past week Ganelle Black went home to be with Jesus. Ganelle was Andy’s great aunt, his mom’s aunt. She was known to her family as Tuggie. I can’t remember exactly how that nickname was chosen, but I’m pretty sure it involved a little kid not being able to pronounce her actual name.

I met Tuggie shortly after Andy and I were married. I liked her the instant I met her. She was one of those people who, after you’ve only known her for a few short minutes, you feel like you’re one of her favorites. Tuggie loved to laugh and every time I saw her she had a smile on her face. She was a strong woman of great faith, giving Andy his first bible and doing the same when Charlie was born. This woman could quote scripture like nobody’s business and had the perfect amount of southern sass.

We are leaving in 11 days to go to Tennessee. We had planned to spend time with her one last time, but God had other plans. Now she’s free. We will have to wait a little longer to see her beautiful smile and hear her joyous laugh. Until then, she will be greatly missed.

Josie meets her Great, Great Aunt Tuggie for the first time

(Tuggie and Annalee. 2009)
I tried several times to get a photo that wasn’t blurry, but was unsuccessful because these two lovely ladies were cracking each other up, laughing till they cried. Some of the greatest entertainment ever. This is how I will remember Tuggie.


Father’s Day is long gone, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to recognize how amazing the fathers in my life are.

I am so blessed to have grown up with a great father; a man who made life fun, taught me right from wrong, gave me a strong work ethic, dished out just enough sarcasm to not be too mean, but just a little sassy. My dad always told me I was beautiful and important, even when I didn’t believe it. I don’t take it for granted. I am thankful.

When I married Andy I hardly knew his parents, but I knew him. A person with great character, love, and kindness doesn’t just fall out of the sky. All of those characteristics were modeled to him throughout his whole life. My father-in-law is generous, thoughtful, compassionate and one smart guy. He would do anything for his family, including taking on the task of babysitting all four of our children, even on his own. Impressive or just plain crazy. You decide.

I am most thankful for a hard-working, funny, and helpful dad to our kids. Andy shows our kids how to figure things out, fix things, help other people, show love and grace to others. He is committed to serving Jesus and his family before everything else and that shows clearly. I’m confident that our boys will one day make great husbands and fathers themselves because of his leading.

I feel a little spoiled in this subject of fathers. I don’t know what a crummy one looks like in my life. These guys aren’t perfect, but they learn from their mistakes and move on. They make forts, teach others, sacrifice, help with cooking and cleaning, give advice, play with kids, answer questions…on and on.

Dad, Charles, Andy, thank you.

Dance it out

Josie performed in her first dance recital this past weekend. She was dressed as a butterfly and danced her little heart out for all of a minute and a half. We sat through 27 other numbers just to watch her flutter about on the stage. Totally worth it. She loved every second. The theme and title of the recital was “Emerge”, which meant lots of little butterflies spreading their tiny wings and skipping about the stage.

Just like there were a lot of things I didn’t know when it came to having a gymnast in the family, I am equally unaware of dance recital do’s and don’ts, particularly the dress rehearsal part. I understand the idea of a dress rehearsal. I dabbled in musical theater in high school, so I like to think I know a thing or two. But fact that we, as parents, are expected to get our 4-yr-old little girls into a costume, hair in a bun, and make-up applied, not just for the recital, but the night before to “practice” their 1 1/2 minute routine is lame, if you ask me.

I tried to do what was asked of me; show up on time, with Josie ready as if this were the real thing. But driving from Seattle to Everett on a Friday night is hellish. Josie had plenty of time to change into her costume at stop lights along the way. However, there was no way that the make-up, comb, and hairspray stuffed into a bag would be put to use that night.

I screeched to a stop in front of the auditorium parking it in the bus lane. I jumped out, carrying Josie, since she had her ballet shoes on and I didn’t want those precious shoes getting damaged on the sidewalk. Frantically, I searched the crowd for anyone who could tell me where the heck I was supposed to go. A mom, whose daughter was from another class, stood there next to her fully-dressed-makeup-on-hair-in-bun daughter, looked at me and said, “You’re too late. They’re already on stage.”

There was another mom who knew my pain. She saw my sweaty self and she knew, clearly, this was my first time. She had compassion. “There’s a side door to the stage. You can make it, if you run. Go! Go!”

I ran, with Josie on my hip, Judah tagging along behind, and my car still parked in the bus lane. As I ran, my poor little butterfly yelled, “Mama! My wing is dragging on the ground and my boobie’s showing!”

And that’s how she entered…stage left. Costume twisted, wing dragging, boobie showing, no makeup, and hair every which way. But she made it.

The recital was a different story. We arrived early, makeup on, costume straight, wings in place and all her little wispy hairs pulled back in a bun. She was perfect. She emerged. Thank the good Lord the recital emerging didn’t look like the rehearsal emerging.

Charlie the teenager

It happened. We now have a teenager in the house. Charlie is the first. He’s kind of the first for everything, much to the dismay of his younger siblings. Turning thirteen meant four boys over for a sleepover (minus the sleep), Alfred Hitchcock movies, candy and popcorn, and me waking up to a trashed TV room. These are all good church-going boys, mind you, so they cleaned up the mess they made and even thanked me for breakfast the next morning.

Turning thirteen also meant that Charlie got….wait for it…a cell phone. You heard me right. I think he might have been the last one standing, but somehow he survived this long without one. The great thing about this particular phone is that it came with a teenager attitude, and that part was free!

Honestly, anyone who knows Charlie, knows that he is great. Better than great. Fantastic. He is kind, compassionate, funny, respectful, amazing with little kids, talented and all around fun to be with. I’m beyond proud to be his mom.

Man. How he’s changed.

A first for everything

Andy’s been out of town this weekend, which means I have to be on. All the time. It means I can’t “tag” him to take over when I think I am going to explode from breaking up, yet another, argument. It means I, alone, have to be the one to drive the kids all over kingdom come and back. That’s what I did on Friday.

Grocery Outlet. Target. Home. Church. Produce Stand. Bank. Costco. Home. Middle School. Elementary School. Home. Safeway. Home. Charlie’s friend’s house for birthday party. Coleman’s art class. Home. Pump It Up for Coleman’s friend’s birthday party. Home.

I think I might have used 3/4 of a tank of gas in one day. Ridiculous.

Saturday was much easier. It only involved getting in and out of the car 4-6 times instead of 23-98. We attempted to do some yard work. Yard work at our house can be kind of lame, for several reasons, but I think that might be a story for another day.

Charlie mowed the lawn and ran out of gas more than halfway through. This required me getting back into the car with the gas can to do something I’ve never done before. Yep, 38 years old and I’ve never filled up a gas can.

This next part is embarrassing. I didn’t know how to put the gas in the can. Wait. Don’t make fun of me just yet. I tried. I unscrewed the lid, put the nozzle in the can and squeezed the handle. This was after I spilled the gas all over the outside of the can, but somehow, not a drop made it inside. How does one do this, you may ask? Good question. The gas pump mocked me by canceling my transaction several times. It was practically begging me to give up, but I knew I was better than that stinky old gas pump.

I humbled myself and took my troubles into the gas station attendant who I’m pretty sure was 13. He was wearing sunglasses. Inside. So, obviously, he was cooler than me. I explained my problem. He did not take his sunglasses off.

“Did you push the button for what kind of gas you want?” Snarky, this kid.

“Yes, I did that.” I’m not a complete idiot. I have put gas in a car before. Of course, I didn’t say that. But I wanted to, a little.

“Well, you just stick the nozzle in the can, push it all the way down so the rubber piece bends and it will work. There is an automatic shut off so it won’t overflow.” I think he knew I needed that last bit of info, after my previous spilling.

Thanking him, I headed back out to give it another go. For reasons I can’t really explain, I still didn’t get it. I was baffled that this was such a complicated task for me. Now, I was forced to humble myself once again and ask the guy filling up at the pump next to me for help. He was kind and kept his judgements to himself. Just as I was explaining my issues with this absurd gas pump, I figured it out. It couldn’t have happened just a minute sooner to save me from making a fool of myself.

“Oh, I see the problem.” I said, as if it was a gas pump error, rather than my own problem. I shyly thanked him and he went along about his business.

“You’re welcome,” he kindly replied. Although, I’m quite confident he drove straight to his destination and promptly told everyone about the poor woman who didn’t even know how to fill a gas can.

Turns out too-cool-for-school sunglasses kid was right. You have to shove the nozzle all the way in the gas can until the rubber thingy bends. Then gas comes out, and there really is an automatic shut off that keeps you from overflowing the can and drenching your shoes in the process.

And now I know. I wish this was something I would have learned back when I was in my I am woman, hear me roar days. But maybe that little part of that girl is still in there. The part that feels I have something to prove, even if I have to ask, not one, but two guys to help. I did, at one time, change a flat tire, so that’s something.

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