Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dear Amy

I miss you.

I got the news early Christmas evening that you had passed away.

My heart broke. Right there, in the middle of giving my two babies their bath, my heart just shattered.

I cried because I missed you with every ounce of my being with the very next breath I took.

I cried because I had planned to come visit you the following week and immediately realized I was too late. I will regret this for the rest of my life.

I cried because I loved that you had continued to fight and battle and go to all out war against cancer as hard as you could so that you could enjoy one last beautiful Christmas.

I cried because I cannot imagine the absolute breath-taking agony your own Momma must be experiencing, to the depths of her soul, to lose her only daughter at such a young age.

But do you know what made me cry the most? What continues to hurt my heart each and every day?

Knowing that you won't have the chance to be a Momma yourself.

Because Amy? You would have been a damn good Momma.

You know how to love right down to your very core. You know how to live life to the absolute tip-top fullest. You know how to be a true, genuine, loyal friend while expecting nothing in return. You know how to reach out and care for others like no one else can. You know how to bend the rules but only to ensure that those around you are having the best time possible. You know how to fight like hell, like absolute hell, when the odds are stacked against you.

You are what the good Mommas, the truly, truly good Mommas, are made of.

It's not fair, Ames. You should have gotten the chance to be a Momma. Because, like everything else in your life, you would have kicked ass at it.

I will never understand why your time on this Earth had to end so soon. It's just not fair. And my heart is aching and torn and broken.

But Amy? Here's the thing. Because you lived your life to the absolute tip-top fullest, and touched every single person who was lucky enough to know you, you will always, ALWAYS be with us. Because we will remember you. We will think of you. We will love you. Every single day.

And Amy, I promise you this: I will think of you, my beautiful friend, first thing every Christmas morning. I will hang an ornament in your honor and wish you Merry Christmas.

I know, too, you will continue to visit me in my dreams, just as you have over the last three years, just as you did two nights before your time on this Earth came to an end. I will cherish these visits with you and look forward to them.

I miss you. I always will.

And one last thing: I would say rest in peace, but I think a good friend recently put it best when he said, "...nobody who's ever known Amy thinks she's up above without raising a raucous. Heaven just got a little more fun..."

Truer words were never spoken.

I love you.

Your "best best friend,"


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Introducing...Gold E. Locks

Before I was ever pregnant, I dreamed of what Christmas would be like once my hub and I had children of our own, prompting me to buy The Elf on the Shelf despite being childless at the time. 

Fast-forward a few years, and we were finally (!) able to start using our elf now that Banks is the ripe ol' age of 3. And although Raleigh gets excited upon seeing the elf each morning, and will most certainly delight in the morning elf hunts in a few years, she is a little too little to truly enjoy the magic of Christmas (and elves!) just yet.

As every good Elf owner knows, it is the child's responsibility to name the elf. Banks, who is really into storytelling right now, opted to name our elf Gold E. Locks, or "Goldy" as we so lovingly call him. 

I have been posting all of Goldy's shenanigans on Instagram (@lindsayluton) throughout the month of December but thought I'd compile the entire list here (mainly so that I can refer back to this list next year in attempts to avoid repeating these specific shenanigans but also in case anyone out there may be interested in a list of elf ideas--because, you know, there are absolutely none to be found on Pinterest). Admittedly, some of these ideas were borrowed from those non-existent lists on Pinterest while others I created on my own. 

Without further ado, here's a compilation of all the wackiness ol' Goldy has caused in our home over the last month:

Day 1
 Goldy left a felt tree and ornaments for repeated decorating in the playroom

Day 2
Goldy performed a high-wire elf act across the kitchen

 Day 3
Goldy left a countdown to Christmas calendar, which we have now filled by placing a cotton ball on the numbered spot each morning

 Day 4
Goldy got wild and toilet-papered the playroom bathroom

Day 5
Goldy put a crepe paper barricade outside of Banks' door, which he LOVED busting through first thing in the morning

 Day 6
Goldy left The Polar Express (which Daddy read to the kiddos before bedtime) and a bell from Santa's sleigh

 Day 7
Goldy decided that morning is always best when started with hot chocolate

 Day 8
Inspired by Pop's love of fishing during our annual Christmas trip to Nana and Pop's house, Goldy decided to do a little fishing of his own

Day 9
Goldy discovered his artistic side and went to town on photos of Banks and Raleigh

 Day 10
Goldy must have been lonely...he created a (girl) friend out of marshmallows and candy

 Day 11
Is there any better way to start the day than with a Christmas dance party? Goldy thinks not.

 Day 12
Thanks to Goldy, we started the day by praying for my beautiful friend

Day 13
Feeling crafty, Goldy left supplies for us to decorate a gingerbread man

 Day 14
Goldy decided to leave donuts for breakfast, and elves need donuts, too!

 Day 15
A yummy craft this time: Goldy left supplies to make Christmas trees out of ice cream cones, icing, and sprinkles. Thanks, Goldy!

Day 16
Momma and Daddy went out for a party, and Goldy decided to have a party all his own, which ended with a certain little boy's underpants on the Christmas tree. Crazy ol' Goldy.

Day 17
Goldy debuted his open-air act

 Day 18
Goldy and a friend: super heroes at rest

 Day 19
Time for some festive baking! Goldy left ingredients to make homemade peppermint bark. Delish!

 Day 20
Goldy lead us on a fun scavenger hunt, ending with the promise of popcorn and Christmas movies after dinner.

Day 21
Goldy wanted to remind us all of the true reason for the season

 Day 22
Goldy's got connections: the promise of a phone call from Santa, who delivered! I will never forget the look on Banks' face...

 Day 23
Reindeer gotta eat, too! Goldy left reindeer food, which has already been sprinkled in our yard in anticipation of their arriva

Day 24
 Goldy's final night: He left a sweet goodbye note for the kids as well as jammies for them to wear Christmas Eve

Yes, we will miss our dear friend, Goldy. But. We'll be ready for his return next year, with new shenanigans up his little elf sleeves. 

And with that, I am off to celebrate the rest of this beautiful, festive week with my little family of four. 

Merry Christmas to all! 

See you next week...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Family Fill-In: Christmas Cheer

This is my very favorite time of the year, and I must say, basking in the glow of the Christmas season is simply MAGICAL with children. Absolutely magical.

We have been having all kinds of holiday fun in our neck o' the woods this month, and for this Friday Family Fill-In, I thought I'd share a little bit of how we've been swimming in Christmas cheer. Warning: picture overload.

For instance, we kicked off the Christmas season by viewing a special video message from Santa:

Banks is in awe. And this is what Raleigh's face looked like pretty much the whole video: shocked!

Raleigh was a little less shocked and a little more terrified upon meeting Santa in person, while Banks was too excited for words: 
 Waiting for Santa. Can you tell she's a little uncertain...

...while he couldn't be more excited?!


This year, we went to Penland Tree Farm, where we selected and cut down a beautiful tree, had fireside s'mores, visited with farm animals, and perused the gift shop:

Although I have fun plans for a few more Christmas crafts this weekend, you can see just a few of the crafts we've created this month, including

Decorating a felt ornament tree

Santa crafting

 And Gingerbread Man crafting

Speaking of gingerbread, my sweet kiddos rocked their Ginger-people shirts for Banks' school Christmas party (shirts made by Goat and Lulu):

We also got to attend Banks' school Christmas program. Before the program, my hub and I encouraged Banks to sing as loud as he possibly could. Afterwards, he proudly told us that he had. Tears, oh the tears. 

Pre-Christmas program 

 And what's Christmas without fun, seasonal treats:

Scrumptious reindeer cupcakes 

Reindeer pancakes for breakfast

Homemade peppermint bark (with the peppermint oh so delicately hammered into smithereens by Banks)

I also had a special "Momma Date" with my little buddy earlier this week, which is something I like to do with him every month or so, to ensure we get some special one-on-one time. For this date, we went on our neighborhood's "Christmas Crawl" (i.e., taking a trolley ride around the neighborhood to see the lights and decorations):

But for us, the most important part of the holiday season is spending time with family; so, we drove to Aiken a few weeks ago to celebrate with the best Nana and Pop in the world and some sweet cousins.

We were also lucky enough to have a weekend visit from Bammy and Digby, who babysat the kids one night so that my hub and I could attend our first neighborhood Christmas party bash:

 The photo's a little hazy but so was that night. ;)

I have a few more special activities up my sleeve for this, the weekend before Christmas, and am so, so excited to be starting some fun new traditions with my little family. I would also be remiss not to mention Goldy, our elf, who has become a full-on member of our family this month. Please check back on Monday, for a full list, complete with pictures, of each of Goldy's shenanigans. 

For now, though, I simply want to wish you and yours the Merriest of Christmases. From our family to yours, with love from our new home in Fort Mill:

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's Okay to Feel

Most of the last 7 days have been really hard tough challenging sucked.

I have gotten some really hard news related to several people I love. And it goes without saying that the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown is just unfathomable. I am so, so sad and just feel myself sitting in this pool of grief and sadness and anger and fear and frustration. It has turned my world gray.

I'm waiting for some good, some happy, some joy to shine through and enlighten my gray world. 

Honestly, though? It's hard to even write that because I still have my children and my spouse and my family and my health. How in the world can I say my world is gray? That I feel sad? That I am frustrated and angry and upset?

In fact, one of the feelings I have been having most lately is guilt. 

I have experienced so much guilt over the last week. Because, just in the context of my day-to-day world, within the walls of my own home, it has been tough over the last seven days. My baby girl has been sick and teething and her usual happy-go-lucky demeanor has, as a result, been nowhere to be found on many occasions. My pre-schooler has been testing every limit imaginable. Now, I know that these are normal, if not expected, events to occur at this time in their lives. But it has been hard. And I have been struggling. Losing my patience too quickly, feeling worn down by the end of the day.

And on top of that, I was dealt several devastating blows related to loss.
Which, in turn, makes me feel guilty because why am I wallowing and feeling stressed over my challenging week when I am so lucky to have who and what I have. I mean, seriously. My tough stuff is nothing compared to what others are going through. Nothing.

But you know what? It's okay to feel

It's okay to feel frustrated when my preschooler won't listen. It's okay to feel tired when I haven't been able to put down my baby all day because she has been a sick, cranky mess. It's okay to feel agitated when things don't go as I had hoped or planned. 

What I'm trying to say is, I don't think it's fair to deny myself how I am feeling. It's okay to feel whatever emotion I am having even when my gray world is still brighter than the blackened one others are experiencing at this point in time.

Again, it's hard to even write that. But I think it's true. And I'll say it again (maybe it'll sink in for me this time):

It's okay to feel, even when my world isn't even remotely close to being as clouded and dark as others' are right now.

At the same time, though, tragic events also bring to light, and help keep things in, perspective. 

Yes, I will allow myself to feel sad and frustrated and irritated and upset, but then I will choose to move forward, recognizing that I am lucky to have who and what I do. Recognizing that I need to keep things in perspective.

I don't think I'm alone in this, based on conversations I've had with others over the last few days. That said, if I'm speaking your language, then I hope you will allow yourself the same courtesy. And encourage me to continue to do so when I am trying to deny what I am feeling at any given moment. Because there is no right or wrong feeling. But there is a right and wrong way to handle those feelings. I will choose to try to be positive, pull myself out of the gray, and actively search for light. In doing so, maybe I can shine a little light on someone else who's world may be darker than mine right now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


{Please note: I wrote this post last week. It feels a little strange to be posting it now, given the heaviness we are all now feeling related to the unfathomable elementary school shooting in Connecticut, as this is meant to be a light-hearted and quick post about my children's book. What I really want to write about is how heavy my heart feels, how I feel guilty when having to discipline my own children [because at least I have my children here on Earth with me to even be able to discipline--does it really matter if my son gets out of his chair at dinner?], how I have struggled with acknowledging that I had a challenging week last week when my challenging week doesn't even begin to compare to what others are going through, and on and on and on. But. Today is my birthday. And I don't feel like sinking into sadness. And I am tired after a full and fun weekend. So I will proceed with the planned post. But I may very well write out my heavy thoughts at some point this week, as writing is truly so therapeutic for me. Anywho. Onward we go. To the light-hearted, "fluff" post.}

I'm pretty sure that the very last thing on anyone who reads this blog's mind is to take pictures for My Idea, post them to Instagram, and tag me (@lindsayluton) with the hashtag #morethanphoto.

Just a guess.

Well, 'tis the season for great winter photos. Just as a very, very friendly reminder from a girl who has a dream of publishing a children's book filled with YOUR Instagram photos, here is the list of photos I need for the book, with those highlighted in red that may be especially easy to capture over the next couple of months:

  • Sun surrounded by clouds
  • Pitcher of sweet tea with lemons
  • Bumbleebee
  • Butterfly (preferably on a flower)
  • Grass with dew or mist
  • Bullfrog in a puddle (yes, I know this is a tough one)
  • Lightening flash at night
  • Peach pie
  • Full moon
  • Front porch with a porch swing
  • Hummingbird on a flower (yep, another toughie)  
  • Shade from an oak tree
  • Rocking chair
  • Storm clouds
  • Autumn leaves in the trees/on ground
  • Fish in a stream (maybe the toughest of them all)
  • Stars and moon
  • Some type of berry field (strawberry?)
  • Ocean waves on the sand 
  • Quilt 
  • Embers and/or fire in a fireplace
I've said it before, and I'll beg say it again: Please, please, please feel free to share the link to this blog post to anyone who may want to participate. You have no idea how much I appreciate your support and participation. 
I can't wait to see the latest round of photos

And bring it on, 32. I'm ready for you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Family Fill-In: Family. Time.

A little something different for this Friday Family Fill-In. In light of recent news about my beautiful friend, I have been quite reflective over the last few days. About what's important. About what I want to do in this life. And that boils down to spending what time I have on this earth with the people who mean most to me in the entire world: My Family.

I've been blessed with a good one. A hub who is my very best friend. Two children who have my heart. An amazing mother, supportive step-father, loving brother, can't-breathe-without-'em sisters, fun-loving step-siblings, and incredible, don't-know-what-I'd-do-without-'em in-laws. And also several amazing woman I am lucky enough to call my closest of friends--who are just as much a part of my family, too. Yes, I am a blessed girl.

To me, what matters most in the world, is spending time with my people. Is making memories with my people. Is making sure my people know just how much I love them and value them.

It only took 32 years (well, as of this Sunday) and the life, journey, and legacy of a beautiful friend for me to finally realize, to finally let sink in, what life is all about: Family, friendship, and fellowship.

So, my little family of four is doing just that this holiday season: Soaking up time with our people, making beautiful memories with those we love, and relishing in the magic of the Christmas season. 

Next week, I'll get back to my more typical Friday Family Fill-In post, chock full of Christmas fun with the kiddos. But for now? For now, I will continue to drown myself in family time-both of the immediate and extended kind-and celebrate the time I am lucky enough to have with my people.