November 2, 2017
I haven't wanted to post this because it's been such a sad and hard milestone in the life of our family. My mother-in-law had been fighting breast cancer for about 4 years. She had a very rapid decline and God took her home on October 9th.
|This was taken in July 2017; it was the last time|
that Anna, Kate and I were able to see her.
I am rejoicing that she is with Jesus, but it is heart-breaking for those who are left behind. Her life was cut short; she was only 60 years old. I only had the privilege of knowing her for the last 10-11 years of her life, but I learned so much about the character of God through her.
|On our wedding day|
I feel like I am inadequate in describing how much she has meant to me. I am grasping at straws so I will just share a few reflections about her. Curtis and I gave her a new name in February 2013 when Anna came into this world: Grammy.
|Grammy holding Anna for one of the first times|
Time and time again, when I hear about Karen from others, she is described as selfless. I personally have experienced this in so many ways that I can't even begin to do it justice. One of the many examples was when she would relieve me in the middle of the night and rock Anna to sleep so that I could get some sleep. She may have traveled all day and been weary herself, but she told me that she remembered those hard early nights rocking my own husband (or his sisters) to bed and was happy to help me. It deeply grieves me to think that she won't be able to do that for any of her future grandchildren.
|Selflessly sharing her ice cream with Anna|
Curt and Karen made it a priority to be there for special events in our family. Although it was never expected, they came to most birthday parties that we have had over the years even though they live 7 hours away. They came soon after Kate was born and served us through making meals and giving me opportunities to rest.
Her last visit to West Lafayette was actually for Anna and Kate's joint birthday party in March of this year. They decided to stay in a hotel and one of the reasons was so that our girls could swim in the indoor pool. She found out just days later that the cancer was back.
|Swimming with Kate in March 2017|
Over the last 4 years, I have talked to her about her cancer. She was always quick to share with me that all of our days our numbered and she wanted to live each day to the fullest until God calls her home. I think Karen really did that! When I shared with Anna that Grammy was going to die soon, she said "Oh! Then she will get to meet my big brother, Brooks!" She shared this with Grammy in one of our last FaceTime phone calls with her and Grammy said, "You're right, Anna! And I am so excited to meet him!" She couldn't wait to meet Jesus too.
Even on her deathbed, she was keenly aware that her daughter's birthday was October 8th and did not want to die that day. That just shows how thoughtful she was, all the way to the end. Karen didn't pass until the next day and I praise God that it happened that way.
If you would like to read more about her, here is her obituary: Karen McDaniel.
Her husband also wrote a beautiful tribute to her.
August 1, 2017
Curtis and I have learned that when he goes to RUF staff training, we all enjoy it more when I have extra help while he's away! So, my mom came bearing LOTS of gifts. I'll give you some of the highlights of her trip. The first day, she gave them goggles from my dad. I think they look so funny with these on:
All the girls (minus Kate) decided to put on clay masks! Ignore my weird expression.
They loved to play with Grandma's phone. I have decided that I will not download these games and apps that Grandma has so that they don't constantly ask me for my phone. It's quite effective when we tell them it's something special just on Grandma's phone. :)
Grandma also (like Aunt Heather) had Snapchat! These are so precious:
One of the lovely ladies at our church invited us over to her saltwater pool. It was really special to me because a lot of my good friends were also there and got to meet my mom!
It really was refreshing! I'm hoping we will be able to do this again before school starts.
The Tippecanoe County fair usually comes the week Curtis is gone. I liked how Grandma and Kate had similar body language.
We liked seeing the animals!
Anna got to pet a calf.
We played bocce ball.
We painted a little treasure chest (another gift from Grandma).
The girls experienced their first japanese steakhouse!
They loved the volcano made just for them.
We went to Tropicanoe Cove, our local waterpark.
We found Anna's new (and very bright) backpack for Pre-K!
Kate got a "puppy purse" since she doesn't need a backpack.
We went to a park before Grandma left. It was a beautiful day!
Some of the other activities we did included attending a story time at the library, shopping at Aldi's and painting all of our nails. When the girls went to bed, my mom and I watched chick flicks and had some good conversations. It went by so fast! We were very sad when Grandma had to go. We were happy to have Daddy back though!
We celebrated Independence Day in Pittsburgh this year with Curtis' mom, dad, and his youngest sister Heather. Here we are in the Pittsburgh Zoo with this lovely giraffe who gave us quite a story to share (but not appropriate for this blog).
Anna and Kate received lots of compliments on their matching dresses at the zoo. (Thank you to Grandma and Grandad for them!)
In addition to the zoo, we also went to Jump Zone! This was Anna and Kate's favorite place back in December when we last visited. It was such a nice day that we had the whole place to ourselves. Look how tiny Kate is compared to Batman!
We enjoyed some down time just hanging out at Grammy and Papa's house. Aunt Heather introduced them to Snapchat:
They also baked delicious brownies together!
We went to this cool spaceship shaped toy store, where Grammy and Papa gifted our kids the fun game of Trouble, which we played later in the day. They also gave them some special rings. Kate chose this huge blue ring that she lost within the first day. Thankfully, we found it after a lot of searching. She is excellent at hiding things!
Anna chose a mood ring! It was fun to determine what everyone's emotions were based on the color that the ring would change when they would wear it.
One of their favorite parts of the whole trip was definitely the sparklers! Kate and Anna would talk about it every day for a couple of weeks after we left.
We made lots of sweet memories with Grammy, Papa, and Aunt Heather. If only Aunt Megan and Jonas could have been there also!
One of our final outings was going to this special Dairy Queen together, a McDaniel family tradition. I thought this picture of Grammy and Anna depicted it well!
You wouldn't know it, but Grammy has Stage IV metastasized breast cancer. We were glad we had the opportunity to spend time with her before she started a new immunotherapy trial. We're currently praying that God would use this as a way to heal her.
June 26, 2017
This month, we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary! We decided to stay local and go out one night downtown.
Here we are right outside the restaurant where we dined, Bistro 501.
Hey, this happened 9 years ago! Our audience was much smaller this time. We also watched Wonder Woman, which was surprisingly good, and we ended with our favorite pub, The Pint.
I surprised Curtis with a hammock for our anniversary. I think he liked it!
So did our girls!
I also did! Curtis got me a gift certificate to a spa for a massage. I'm super excited to use it! Sometimes, it's nice to have a low key anniversary. :)