Wishing you a Very Blessed Thanksgiving!

From our table to yours, I’d like to wish you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving, surrounded by those you love most.  This Thanksgiving, we kept things more simple than we usually do, as the kids have been sick, and I spent the majority of the day yesterday in the Emergency Room yesterday with flank pain from a passing kidney stone a kidney infection.  Nonetheless, I still wanted to put forth the effort and try to make Thanksgiving dinner for my family.

For our Thanksgiving Dinner this year, I made a spiral baked honey ham, creamy mashed potatoes, honey butter glazed carrots, brown sugar basted brussel sprouts, and homemade rolls.  For dessert, Jennifer made for the most part on her own a butterscotch cinnamon pie and vanilla frosted cupcakes.  Everything came out very yummy!  I was impressed, but my body was quite sore afterward.

That’s our table, all set, with our Thanks and Giving Tree in the middle.  I’ll be writing about this tree at the end of November when all the leaves are filled in!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Why Self-Care Is so Essential For Mommas (and everyone, really)…

Self-Care is defined as the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; or the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. 

Self-Care for Mommas isn’t just about a girls night and a mani-pedi here and there.  Sure, those things are great, but self-care is really taking preventative measures to keep yourself at your best (which is how, as Mommas, we need to be, 24/7, right?).  It’s taking a little bit(or a lot if you can!) of time, each and every day, for yourself, to rejuvenate the emotional, physical, spiritual you – and here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • First off, if you need to, hire a babysitter.  No questions asked.
  • Take a hot bath or shower.
  • Pick out a book from the store you want to read and actually read a chapter two in it, the day you buy it. And every day thereafter until you finish the book.
  • Cuddle with a fuzzy blanket.  Maybe even take nap.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal.  Keep writing in it every. single. day.
  • Take a walk.  Exercise.

With this in mind, personally, I’ve decided that I need to take better care of myself.  As the leader of my tribe, I’m responsible for making sure my family is loved, fed, cared for, and has everything they need to be successful in the world. From waking my kids up in the morning and helping them pick out clothes to wear that is weather appropriate (and looks decent together), to kissing my hubby goodnight at the end of the day, every minute of every day is under my purvue. And I’m perfectly okay with that!

In the past few months, I devoted more time to writing.  That was the first step.  It’s like a decompression for me, a way to let off some of the steam of the day, to write about it.  I’ve journaled, handwritten letters to friends, and of course, blogged.  Now I’m stepping it up and committing to exercising more on a regular schedule and joined a group that will keep me to my word!  In this group, we are also reading Girl, Wash Your Face, which is a quick easy read, so we are going at a chapter a day. 

I hope to keep you guys updated as to my progress in my self-care and all the fun things I plan on doing to keep myself as well as I can be for my family!


Halloween Party at the Y!

We love our love our Hernando YMCA.  Of course it’s a great place to go if you want to workout or join a group exercise class, but really the YMCA is so much more.  Our local Y has a great Kid Zone that our little ones enjoy playing in, and that actually gives us a little bit of respite if needed, if we’re not in the mood to workout or hang by the pool that day.  But the Y also has a TON of other stuff too — a variety of classes from arts and crafts to nutrition classes to special events for teens on Friday Nights.

But this was a special Halloween Party for the kiddos, with lots of activities, a haunted house, and fun, fun, fun.  Even though I wasn’t able to attend with my littles, the report I heard back from Dad and the children was that it was a fun, fun time and definently worth the experience!  Here’s the “best” pic before they left for their Hallowen at Y adventure! (yes, that was the best one..)


My Baby Boy Turned TWO Last Week! Can you Believe It?!?

I can’t believe it…my sweet baby boy turned two years old last week! You know, it seems like just yesterday I was carrying him in my belly, and I could feel him kick me when I  stopped moving.  He loved movement, and let me tell you, it was a good prediction on my part, that he would be love movement outside the womb, too.  As an infant, he loved to be rocked, danced with, walked, and put in  the swing at times.  And now, he loves to move, run, climb stairs, crawl, and try to do everything his big sisters can do.

I am very proud of the little man Baby Shawn is becoming – he’s super smart, inquisitive, interested in exploring the world, already learning and he already knows some of his ABC’s and 123’s, is polite and says ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ is social, and super loving (especially to his mama).  We are very attached to mama.

With Grandma and Grandpa in town until just before his birthday, Baby Shawn basically had two days worth of birthdays and birthday cakes.  And of course he enjoyed every moment of it!  We still didn’t quite catch on the to blowing the candle out thing (and part of that may have been my fault, I put a little star sparkler on his cake too, it was neat and I had never seen those before). But we certainly knew what that casfor when we picked it up from Publix, and full-on meltdown when it went into the refirgerator and not our mouth because it was the middle of the day and quite time to celebrate with the “car cake.”  So I was blessed with hearing “I wananana car cake car cake wannanana car cake” for about 20 minutes straight until he wore himself enough to take a nap, poor birthday boy.

For the exquisite birthday dinner, we had leftovers from Grandma and Grandpa visiting and the family eating out much more often than usual. Which, to be honest, for kids, both the eating out, and the leftovers from eating out are both a treat from the usual “homemade boring food.”  They’ll learn one day that the homemade food that is made with love and car is much, much better.  But anywho, after dinner, we sang, as Baby Shawn calls it “Happy Day,” ate cake and opened all the fun presents. Lots of cars, airplanes, trains, and a pretend grill!

Here’s some of our silliness post cake and presents!

Happy Birthday my sweet, Shawn Michael II! I love youso very much!

That Moment…Part II

[…Part I…That Moment {I Found Out an Old Friend/Colleague Completed Suicide}]


…as I mentioned, suicide is a very personal subject for me, and has touched, entered and affected my life in more ways than I can or care to count. So this subjected post had to become a two-parter.

When I read my friend’s message that Ru had taken his life, I was a stunned – I was surprised to see a message at all from her really, we aren’t that close, especially since I moved to Florida. And for the news to be about him. And for it to be that kind of news.

Let’s take roll the tape back twenty or so years.  And start my story where it really begins.  It was 1998, in the late summer after I graduated high school, that my own mother died by taking her own life.  That whole time period surrounding her death is a blur, I remember few specific details – I’m positive that’s my brain protecting itself from the trauma of it all.  I have a specific memory of standing in the outer hallway of the funeral home, next to the sign in book, but all the other memories of the funeral are vague and slight.  I specifically remember riding up to the burial site, behind the car my Grandmother was in, watching her golden hair swing as the car turned through the curvy back roads. And seemingly most painful of the reality bites moments at the time, I remember my two high school best friends, sitting on my bed, telling me, quite emotionlessly that they were sorry but there was nothing they could do for me because they were about to leave for college [in state, within 30 miles away, mind you], and goodbye.


Obviously my mother’s suicide is a trauma in my life that has changed the way I am and who I am.  I always say goodbye.  I always say I love you. I’m sensitive, shy, keep many things and emotions to myself.  Everything we experience in life changes us in some way, minuscule or gigantic.

Shortly thereafter my mother’s suicide, in the winter of 1999, a best friend and someone who I also dated, Marc, jumped off the Bay Bridge.  We volunteered at the Maryland City firehouse together in Anne Arundel County.  That same jurisdiction had men searching the cold Chesapeake Bay waters for his body for days and never found him.  This time too, seems to be a blur, but I do remember walking into the Memorial Services, in this huge church, and it was packed with firemen, dressed in their blues, it was hundreds of people.13178978_10206358509498481_8081055669920174784_nI was heartbroken, I lost another best friend. Different terms, but again, how could I not see? I was a mere 19 this time, still naive as could be, especially because between my mother’s death and Marc’s death, I pretended like everything was ok, that nothing bothered me, that life was good.  Maybe this was part of being naive, maybe this was a strange part of grieving.  But I definitely still didn’t understand how complex suicidal behavior and mental health issues were.  I had always thought Marc was depressed, but looking back now and understanding so much more, I think he had a personality disorder, probably one of the Cluster B disorders.


And lastly, because of many traumas, struggles, and my own depression, I too have attempted suicide.  So I personally understand the hopelessness my lost loved ones felt in those last moments.  In a way that makes a little easier, but in reality, it makes losing so many to suicide so much worse and more painful.

I share my story because I want others to know that if you feel depressed, if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. And it’s ok to reach out for help. PLEASE reach out for help. Call a friend. Call a family member. If you can’t any of them, call 911, they will help you.  I have also listed some resources below that are helpful if you are in need.  But please, don’t give up.  It’s always darkest just before sunrise.


National Suicidal Prevention Hotline – The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


afspAmerican Foundation for Suicide Prevention – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a voluntary health organization established in 1987. It funds research, runs educational programs, advocates for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supports survivors of suicide loss.


All The Pieces…Of My Heart…Welcome, AGAIN!

Welcome to the blog land of All the Pieces of My Heart…redesigned!

I think I may have gone through about ten blog designs, I mean the entire design process on WordPress, and published them too, then didn’t like finished product.  Finally, I found a theme that worked well for me, and I took my sweet time designing a blog the exhibits my and my children’s personality.  I even explored Fiverr, and got myself and cool little logo – I designed on paper and sent it to a graphic designer – I’m rather pleased with the results!


So, anyway, if you’re new here, let me first break down the meaning of my blog’s name – All the Pieces of My Heart is meant to represent my family.  The ‘pieces’ are my family members.  I decided to choose pieces, like puzzle pieces because three of my four children are autisic and the most widely known image to represent autism is the puzzle piece.  And then my a heart to represent my family because they are everything to me — I wake get out of bed for my children.  My family and my children make my heart beat strong for life and for a cause every moment of the day.  They’ve saved me.


All the Pieces of My Heart is basically a personal blog written my me, a stay at home all over the place, busy like crazy taking care of it momma, of what happens when you put a working military Dad, busy Mom, teenage autistic daughter, autistic eight and six year old girls, and one very-busy discovering the world two year old little boy under one roof.  Usually not one minute of life is dull. Or quiet. Or sometimes even believable.

I also like to write about more of the mundane bloggy things that other moms or humans like to write about too, like recipes, giveaways, crafts, reviews, being cheap (becuase I find it fun as a hobby).

Anyhoo, welcome again.  Enjoy the show!

How my life changed three years ago…


Three very short years ago, today, which actually seems like an eternity ago now, another lifetime, I awoke (well, I don’t think I really slept that night) at about three in the morning. At the time, I was staying with my parents. They got up early with me and we had a nice breakfast. If I recall correctly, scrambled eggs, a lightly toasted cinnamon raisin english muffin with a touch of butter, and sausage. We ate together quickly and got to work put the last bits of my important possessions into my little Chevy Cruze that was parked in the driveway. It was a chilly, misty, and drizzling outside.

By the time I was ready to get on my way it was about 0430. Annie’s face was misty too. I don’t think they were certain about my decision, but, as an adult in my thirties, there wasn’t much they could do. Many tight hugs were given and typical sayings of driving carefully were said. We all traded “I love you’s,” and I was off.


I sent Shawn a text letting him know I was on the road, but since he was in the Central Time Zone, I had no expectation of him being awake. I just wanted a record on his phone so he knew I started my journey to him. To his arms. Where I belonged. I had prayed and prayed, and prayed about this decision, this move. And I knew in my heart it was the right move. At the right time. I’m pretty sure my friends all thought I was completely bonkers, an
d that’s alright. I knew I was making the right decision.

The drive was about 900 miles. I didn’t wan’t to drive down closer to the coast, so I stayed near the mountains. For once, unfortunately, the weatherman was completely correct and the entire east coast was going to stay soaked with rain for the entirety of the weekend.

The drive was long. I stopped, many, many times. To top off my tank (ok – paranoia here, but I wanted to be sure that if something happened I had a full tank), to stretch my legs, to make sure I was awake, for potty breaks, maybe a snack, you know. And it gets lonely in the car by yourself.

I think I made it to 1600ish in Georgia before driving irritation started to kick in. Between just driving for a long time, the rain, and all the people who just straight up can’t drive in the rain, my nerves were feeling frazzled. So I found a good place to stop, and took my longest break of about 25 minutes, eating “in” at Chick-Fil-A.

Once it got dark, I was way out there, it was rural, and dark. I decided to talk to my dad for a bit via bluetooth for company and I have always enjoyed talks with my dad as an adult, and then just like that, the last hour just zoomed by.

And BOOM! I was there! It me a good nineteen and half hours to get there. Whew. But I was finally where I was supposed to be, in his arms, permanently. No more flights every three weeks. No more goodbyes. No more nightly skype sessions late at night. Because I listened to my heart, prayed hard, and took that wonderful leap of faith.

And I look around at my wonderful family, how God answered my prayers in incredible ways. My blessings, our blessings.

You are like no other, my Shawn. I find myself falling in love with you again and again, over and over. You will forever by my always.

I’m never looking back to the place I was, but keeping my eyes pasted to this family’s beautiful and bright future. I ❤️love❤️ you my Shawn, thank you for helping my make that leap and long drive.🌧️🚗