Wednesday, December 19, 2012


My heart is heavy and has been since the Sandy Hook shooting. Tragedy does not seem to do this incident justice. Its unimaginable. Unfathomable. Incomprehensible.

I've heard the news recounted time and time again. I've seen the faces of these innocent little people whose lives were taken. I been overwhelmed with imagery of utter pain. And, I can't help but to wonder how would I react? What would I do? How could I go on?

These families have gaping holes - physically and emotionally. My heart, prayers and thoughts are with them all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


There are a few things that absolutely calm me. My kids humor - intentional or unintentional - is always a welcome change from the rat race that I have found to be my reality. I can walk through the door with a day's worth of baggage and stress and I hear Ashton say, "Mommy's home" and it all melts away. At least for a moment.

This week has been extra comedic.

Sidney's contract to (not with) her brother - which I am sure he could not read - stating that his signature indebted him to her if a ransom was not paid. Of course he signed on the line. He can write his name - why wouldn't he sign?

Ashton's newly found love for engineering - crafting a pulley system that lowers down objects that he's too lazy to carry down the stairs. Said pulley system is made from a finger knitted scarf that is about 12 feet long - Sidney's summer camp project.

The declaration of "life being a disappointment" by the nine year old who feels the need to give the six year old a hearty dose of reality.

A "student of the week" picture with the principal, certificate and pennant tucked away in a backpack waiting to be uncovered. When asked why Ashton didn't come forward with the news, he simply responded, "I wanted to surprise you Mommy."

Sidney asking me how much money I make and actually expecting a response.

...this is what makes my world go round - and keeps a smile on my face.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I'm a big fan of Mitch Albom. His books are profound, short reads that all relate to life experiences. For One More Day is my personal favorite. Albom explores the idea of what you would do if you had one more day with someone you've lost. What would that last day look like? What would I do? How would I do it differently? Hindsight is 20/20...or at least that's what they say.

My perspective of life has undergone tremendous change in the past few years as a result of great pain and loss. I have a stronger sense of what is important and work diligently to filter out the crap that is not. Cherishing every experience with my kids. Embracing a deeper love for my philanthropic efforts - specifically as they relate to people and the hardships they endure. Surrounding myself with family + friends who positively impact my life. Living life to the fullest and not taking a single thing for granted. Treasuring each moment that merits a click of the replay button. Creating moments so I am not left wondering what I would do if I had one more day.

“Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” 
- Hilary Cooper

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Face of Homeless

Ever wonder what "homeless" looks like? Tonight, I found myself studying faces in between serving up burgers. What I found was there are many at the Haven who "look homeless." Unkempt. Disheveled. Torn and tattered. ...the have-nots if you will. It's the folks who don't fit that mold that make you question how they got there. A young man who has the face that could grace a cover of a magazine. A teenager who I hope has not dropped out of school. Women who bring young children for a meal. These anomalies are startling. However, the one man who stuck out to me more than any other was a young man - maybe late twenties, early thirties.

The resident kitchen aide made a call for those who would like more food to take what they would like on the trays that were not touched. I listened to this young man ask if he could take something additional off a tray. His face was red and he stuttered when he asked, "Can I take something off a tray?" When asked what he wanted he responded, "soup." There were plenty of folks who ravaged the cookies, dessert and pop. This man wanted soup. By the looks of him he needed soup. He had two extra bowls and I watched him retrieve them both. He was hungry. Truly hungry.

So, what does homeless look like? ...I would argue it looks empty.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Best Kind of Zit

I've made it my personal mission to sit on the couch with the kids at least a couple nights a week. Nights that Sidney doesn't have practice or 2 hours of homework make ideal nights. It's truly rewarding to hunker down with the kids, watch TV and not focus on anything other than being in the moment - with them. It's priceless.

I had the most interesting experience with Ashton this week. We were watching Billy the Exterminator (that's right, I said it...don't judge me!) with Sidney attached to my hip and Ashton on my lap. Without warning, he pulled my face right next to his and held it there. He held it there for about 15 minutes. Physically connected - cheek to cheek. I tried to assure him that if he let go I wouldn't move. I would stay firmly in place. Just where he intended for me to be. It was as if he didn't even hear me. His hand remained on my face pressing my face to his. I have no idea what his motivation was, but neither one of us seemed to mind it much.

Where does the zit come in, you ask? Well, little boys aren't exactly hygiene conscious 100% of the time. His dirty little paw on my face for that period of time certainly sprouted an awesome zit. I suppose if I have to have one this is the best way to get it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another Day in Paradise

I may have been off the grid for a while, but I have not lost my edge. Especially as it relates to sarcasm.

Everyday I am cautiously optimistic that the next day will be the day where I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The insanity will become more tolerable. This ridiculous pace of life I keep will slow. And then I sit down at 9pm and wonder where the day went and question if I have signed everyone's agenda book and planted a snack in their bag. ...another day, some other way.

I was in my flurry of dropping Sidney off at basketball and taking Ashton for a hair cut when he interrupted my cluttered thought process of evaluating the next item on the list and the time allotted to complete said task. As we were standing in the hall waiting for the varsity players to vacate the gym, my blonde beauty is hitting my leg. "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy." I snapped out of the trance and responded to his plea. "What Buddy?" He's blatantly pointing at someone, although I dare not look and states in a very matter-of-fact tone "Mommy, that guy is 'all tatted up.'"After I pushed my eyes back into my head, set his arm and index finger at ease I erupted with laughter. Of course, this is a Lisa-ism that he picked up and applied in proper context.

Kudos to Ashton for listening, comprehension and proper execution. Makes the day a little brighter.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


The hiatus is over. I'm back on the wagon. I've missed my storytelling outlet. In the past few months it's been traded for half-marathon training, kids' athletics, vacations, Wishes Can Happen, 4th grade homework, work insanity and quite frankly - sheer exhaustion.

A former colleague and good friend of mine, Brett, illustrated this picture of me - as Wonder Woman. I've always loved Wonder Woman...even as a child. Now I have become her.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Marisa's Wish

I met with my wish family tonight for dinner. This was the first face-to-face meeting after multiple electronic communications. I assure you there were some nerves on both sides of the table.

This wish is for a 21 year old college junior whose life was interrupted by leukemia. After four non-diagnosis visits finally the news came that she had leukemia. Less than a hour after a doctor visit the phone call came instructing her to go to the hospital immediately. Within hours she was being treated with chemo and subsequently was informed that had she gone undiagnosed and untreated she would have had a maximum of 2 weeks to live. Two weeks.

As she was telling me her story I fought back tears. I listened intently. I admired her strength. I empathized with her mother. Beyond the story of this young woman's battle with leukemia, was her underlying story - her will to live.

There was never a moment that she uttered disgust with her illness going undiagnosed. Never a word about how disappointing it was to lose over a year of her college career. No focus on the 2 years of ongoing treatment that she endured. Rather, she told me how blessed she was. She had the support of her family, her medical team, her friends and her school. She spent the majority of the time talking to me about all of the fantastic people who she met along this journey. How they have inspired her. How she became stronger as a result of it all. She shared information about survivor retreats that she found to be encouraging and how that may benefit future wish recipients that I work with. She talked about the triathlon she is participating in and raising money for to send another cancer survivor to a survivor retreat. Her focus was not on her illness. She as clearly fueled with the passion of helping others who have and are going through the same thing.

Throughout this conversation her mom would pop in and join for a few moments. She had to work and was waiting our table so she could be a part of this trip unveiling. As I revealed the details of the trip, the tears were welling in Marisa's mother's eyes. You see, Marisa just had her port removed last week after 2 years of chemo. This along with a trip to the Florida Keys signified a new beginning. New memories. A bright future. Mom kept telling me that this was "too much." "It's too much. That is so much money. It's too much. You have no idea what it means to us." By this point the tears had erupted from everyone at the table. It's not too much. In fact, it's not enough. Nothing can erase the time that this illness took away from this family. The damage it did to Marisa's body. The emotional wreckage that was incurred. It's simply a way to celebrate her life and create new memories.

Marisa walked away with a relaxing family vacation this evening. I walked away in awe and admiration.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Expectations are a hell of a thing to live up to. Your own. Others'. They can make you feel like you are on top of the world when you meet or exceed them. Or, they can suck you into a self-loathing abyss when you don't quit hit the mark.

On my run Saturday with Jill I had the expectation to run 8 miles. This is always established up-front so you push toward a goal. I can tell you, I did not meet the 8 mile mark. I came up short. The reality of that run was that either allergies or recycled airplane air wreaked havoc on my sinuses - hence making breathing difficult. I just couldn't get enough air. I was completely frustrated as I had to walk throughout the course of that run and with each walk-break becoming more annoyed with myself. I kept apologizing to Jill as she stayed next to me throughout what would become a 10k. Her response was always that it was fine. Not a big deal. Just happy to be spending time together.

Jill's expectation was a bit different than mine - her focus was spending time together. Mine was completing an eight-mile run. Despite the utter frustration associated with my lack of performance, I walked away from that experience thinking that I really just need to set the expectation that I'm spending time with my friends and getting a decent work-out as a fringe benefit. Maybe, just maybe, setting a lighter expectation will yield a more impressive result.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Apples + Trees

How does that saying go - "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Indeed, I have found this to be true with my two "apples." Their sharp minds and quick wit never cease to amaze me. And, it typically tends to amuse me.

Apparently there is no such thing as aging gracefully - not in this house.
Sidney: "Mommy, what are those lines by Daddy's eyes when he laughs?"
Me: The lines by his eyes?
Sidney: "Yea, you know...when he smiles or laughs they show up here." (she points to the outside of her eyes as she squints and smiles in the mirror to demonstrate.)
Me: Ahh, those. We call those crow's feet, Sidney.
Sidney: "Daddy sure has a lot of 'the' crow's feet on his face. And you have a few too."
Me: Top of the morning to you too, Sidney.

My words are used against my by my little man...say it ain't so!
Ashton: "Mommy, will you get me some peanut butter?"
Me: No. I'm busy doing your laundry. Would you like to do your laundry while I get your peanut butter?
Ashton: "No, Mommy."
With a twinkle in his eye and a smirk on his face he says, "I'm just a baby, Mommy. We don't do laundry."
Me: Touche. But, you're getting your own peanut butter.

Funny how these kids have become such smart asses at such a young age. I'll take it though. My spirited children.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pop Quiz

I was putting Ashton to bed and as I began to walk out the door, the quiz began. "Mommy, where did I get 'Roar'?" Roar is a dinosaur with a highly imaginative name. "You got Roar from Disney, Buddy. The T-Rex Cafe." "Oh, that's right. I forgot." I'm not completely convinced that he forgot, but I saw an opening with the quiz game, so I decided to seize the moment.

"Ashton, do you remember where you got 'Baby'?" He looks at me and shakes his head no. Baby is a Ty Beanie Baby sea otter that rests safely under Ashton's chin every night. Every night. "You got him from the hospital when you had to have your tubes put in your ears." The light bulb pops on. "Oh, that's right...I got him from the hospital when I had to wear tiger pajamas." This is something that he doesn't actually remember, but rather visits through a photo that I have of him in said PJ's in the waiting room of Children's Hospital.

Round two for Mom...and this one is important. I truly had a sensation of butterflies before I asked the question for fear that he wouldn't remember. And not remembering is not an option - he simply must remember. This is a crucial question. "Buddy, do you remember who got you Froggy?" Froggy is a stuffed treasure who lies on Ashton's right ear each night. A smile cracks from each corner of his mouth and he rolls his eyes. "Yes, Mommy...Granddad got me Froggy when I was a baby." A sigh of relief. "Yes, Ashy, Granddad got you Froggy. Do you know why he got you Froggy?" He shakes his head no, but is clearly interested in an explanation. "When you were still a baby in Mommy's belly we told Granddad your name would be Ashton William Daniel. Do you know what Granddad's name is, Buddy?" Again he shakes his head but is filled with curiosity. "His name is William. Just like you - it's William." The smile breaks across his face and his eyes glimmer as he realizes that he is named after someone. His Granddad. This man who loved Ashton more than life itself.

He remembers. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Good for the soul

In less than one week's time I have witnessed some true acts of kindness. All unexpected. None wishing to be recognized.

...Uncle Fred...
He lost his incredible wife - my aunt, my godmother - to cancer two years ago. It was devastating for him. For his family. He has been living in deep grief. Stark darkness. A week ago I told him about a little girl named Corina who is 13 and losing her battle to ovarian cancer. Her see the ocean. He rents a condo at the beach for a few months out of the year - arguably to lose himself, to find himself and to reconnect with my Aunt. He offered me his condo for a week or a month - whatever she needed and wanted. This child will likely not live through the month of April and it was questionable if she would even make it through the week at the beach as she is utilizing hospice at her vacation destination. He made her wish come true. Her family will have a final, happy memory as a family together. In the midst of darkness he provided a beacon of serenity.

My competitive first born is not easily talked off the wall when it comes to anything that she perceives as competition. Easter egg hunts are no exclusion. Sunday we were lucky enough to partake in an Easter extravaganza hosted by a Wishes Can Happen board member. This party was grand and it was a fantastic gathering of board members, volunteers and wish families. Wish families is the key term here. We aren't talking about a host of healthy, fully functional children. We are talking about kids who have been to hell and back at a minimum of one time - if they are lucky. A child who I had the great privilege of granting a wish for was present with her mom and siblings at this event. Sidney immediately took a liking to her. Little Brooke is such a sweet child. Looks fragile, but is obviously quite tenacious to battle Chiari Malformation. She is suited up with a neck brace. Forbidden to run. Bounce. Jump. Jostle. She's 6 and restricted for her own health and safety. Sidney took Brooke by the hand in the midst of 100 children and started exploring the 5 acre property in search of eggs. Her first concern was that Brooke's bag was filled. That she got what she needed. That she had a friend to do it with. Sidney loved this experience - she felt purpose and it filled her heart. Certainly mine.

...Random Stranger...
I forgot my lunch today so I trekked down the street to Subway. I was in line behind a couple of guys - one looked pretty worn, but I thought nothing of it. I was becoming frustrated, however, because I just wanted my six inch turkey and to get out the door and it seemed as if the man in front of me had never visited a restaurant before. He had no idea how to order. How the line worked. What to ask for. I kept thinking to myself, "this isn't hard...just pick your toppings and go." The man in front of him tried to guide him through the process, but didn't seem to full grasp that this man really had no idea. After I quit thinking about time and processed the situation it was clear. This worn & torn man was homeless. He had a tattered bag that I typically see tossed over the shoulder of the homeless at the Haven. The man in front of him was buying him lunch. He picked up the tab and handed the homeless man his bag and we all walked out the door. The business man went one direction. The homeless man the other. And, I stood in awe completely sobered.

These things have done wonders for my soul and for my spirit. I hope you experience even a shred of it.

Sidney + Brooke

Monday, March 19, 2012

Love Notes

Remember the good old days when you used to write a love note to someone you liked? Typically there was a "check the box" call to action included in said note that would let you know where you stood. This morning, I found a love note in Ashton's locker.

Raw version...
Halle love Ashton
Halle love Ashton
Sorry Ashton but you hv to miare Halle

Translated version....
Halle loves Ashton
Halle loves Ashton
Sorry Ashton but you have to marry Halle.

I love how this love note serves many purposes. Love note. Apology. Edict. Sounds a lot like a real relationship, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kids These Days...

Every now and again, Sidney gives me an abrupt reminder what a time warp I live in. This usually occurs in the car when we are listening to XM. 80's on 8, 90's on 9. This is what good music is! She very outspokenly disagrees. I believe her exact words were, "well if this was good music when you were growing up, then I am sorry for you." Yes, thank you, Sidney.

It's fairly amusing how different things are now then when I was a kid... Back in the day (the 80s as Sidney refers to it) our pranks were toilet papering peoples house, applying a single layer of plastic wrap to some unsuspecting parent's toilet seat and putting a friend's hand in warm water to get them to pee themselves if they fell asleep first at a sleep-over. Our music artists of choice were Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Debbie Gibson (for good measure). Candy was awesome - real sugar and lots of it. Remember the wax candy that was absolutely tasteless, but you just had to buy it for the pop-like substance inside of the wax soda bottle? Pure bliss.

I took a walk down memory lane this weekend as Sidney and her friend Sydnie went to a roller skating party and then returned to our home to play for the rest of the day. It also led me to do a comparison of then versus now as Sidney utilized Apple TV to play her tunes from her iPod through the TV. Pink, Bieber and Katy Perry were among the artist these girls were cutting a rug to. Arguably, the two female artists have some riskee lyrics - kind of like Madonna back in the day. We certainly keep those songs to a minimum but I'm certain that nothing she listens to is as suggestive as "Like a Virgin."

The girls had plenty of energy for their dance party because they brought home goodie bags full of loot - and in their case, candy. When dinosaurs roamed the earth and I went to friends' birthday parties, I took them a gift. They certainly didn't send me home with a $10 party favor. Times have changed and so has candy. Out of the bag came an Icee shaped aerosol bottle that sprayed liquid sugar. Yes, you read that right - spray liquid crack right into your mouth! Completely nuts! I'm sure it tasted better than my wax soda bottles and I'm not sure why I think that Sidney's party favor is any more appalling than my wax candy. But, it is. It just seems wrong.

And, what gathering would be complete without some type of prank? Clearly these two were cracked out on liquid sugar, cake, ice cream, pop and whatever else they were fed at the party...why not do something "funny" to the old people?! Prank of the day was creating a password for dear old Mom's iPad and locking her out. Funny, right? Yea, not so much. Somehow it seems more appropriate to Saran Wrap a toilet seat and let someone pee all over the floor - I mean bleach is relatively inexpensive and after all that's a real hoot, right? My mother (who this did happen to) would beg to differ.

I guess as much as things change, they really stay the same.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Year Marks the Spot

One year ago today...around this very time of evening, I was at the bedside of my Granddad saying my final goodbyes. Alongside of my brother, sister in law, cousin, mom and Grandie the pain of loss was the air we were breathing. I have never felt pain so deep. So profound. It was only a matter of hours before he traded this world for a perfect body in eternity. Heaven gained an angel the morning of February 3, 2011.

One year later I am left to reflect.

The pain isn't gone. Some days it is more dull than others. The absence of my Granddad is felt week in and week out. My mind has fully accepted that he is gone. My heart is not quite there yet. When you have lived a life as my Granddad has, when you have left a legacy of honor, integrity and love as he did - it makes it very difficult for those left behind to let go.

Granddad was an incredible man. I remember him today. Everyday.

A Tribute to My Granddad - February 8, 2011:

We are here today to honor the memory of William “Bill” Chipps and to celebrate his life.  He was a devoted husband.  A loving father.  An exceptional Granddad.  A doting Great Granddad.  Wonderful Uncle & loyal friend.  He enjoyed ninety years of life, sixty four years of marriage to Miriam, two children, four grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.  He lived his life surrounded by those he loved and many who loved him.  

Bill enjoyed working with his hands.  He could often be found fixing something that was broken—or doing maintenance so that it wouldn’t break.  He offered his expertise to his church, his family, his friends.  There was no challenge that he met that could not be fixed.  He often went to sleep with the problem in mind, and awoke in the morning with the solution.

He always was very active and loved to woodwork, fish, golf, bowl, travel and spend time at his cabin in Piedmont.  Many friends and family members participated in friendly competition with Bill either on the golf course or at the bowling alley.  We enjoyed many trips creating life-long memories with Bill.  Be it a vacation out West in a converted camper, a jaunt to the beach where we were walked out in the ocean to where the tide breaks to catch a wave or a weekend cruising the lake and fishing in Piedmont.  These are the priceless memories that we will hold, cherish and pass down for days and years to come.  

The Chipps family reunions at Wingfoot Lake were always a highlight of the summer—for all of us.  There was a certain anticipation that came along with every year to see family who had traveled from various parts of the country come together for one day to celebrate one thing—being family.  Whether it was a ride on a paddle boat, playing a game of horseshoes, a friendly game of sand volleyball or whirling on a merry-go-round, Bill ensured that this one day was a memorable one for all who attended.  In families sometimes there is a member who acts as the "glue" that holds the family together.  He was that "glue."

Heritage was also very important to Bill.  Knowing where you came from and how that shaped where you were going was a golden nugget that he passed along to all of us.  If you were willing to sit and listen, he was amenable to share his stories, challenges, triumphs and life lessons with you.  We’ve all learned, benefited and become better people as a result of his life.  His heritage.

For those of us who were lucky enough to be a part of his family, we learned much from him.  He taught us the value of family—relying on each other, helping one another and spending time together.   The value of a hard day’s work and the necessity of rest.  The importance of faith in Christ and involvement in church.   Determination to see something through, start to finish.  Through his demonstration of unconditional love we all became closely entwined with Bill.  He was an extraordinary role model, mentor and encourager.  

 “But though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”  “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
We find  peace and solace that “Bill”, “Dad”, “Granddad”, “Great Granddad”, “Uncle Bill” has become whole again and we will see him again one day in Glory.  Until then, we will miss you sorely.   

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

...these kids...

Sidney and Ashton have their 100th day of school tomorrow. With any important milestone there are, of course, celebrations required. The kids are observing this day in different ways.

Ashton loves jelly beans, so it's only fitting that he utilize this sugary treat to mark the occassion. He created a work of art using 100 jelly beans. The only distinguishable item on the page was a flower carefully crafted from a pile of oversized jelly beans. The other pieces on the page - I'm told - are Aaron holding a sword fighting asteroids falling from the sky. Yea. I don't see it, but I am glad he has a vivid imagination.

Sidney's class is celebrating by dressing like they are 100 years old. Being the peach that she is she walks into my room, enters my closet and says, "Okay, Mom. You have plenty of old lady clothes. What can I borrow?"

Game over, Sidney.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Reflections

Most people look to the new year with resolutions and grandiose ideas of what the new year will bring. I have done that in a slightly different way. I choose to reflect on 2011 so I can apply my learnings to 2012.

2011 certainly has not been all sunshine and lollipops. However, I have learned a lot. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. To love and to cherish until death parts us. I've experienced so many things in the past year.

I've learned...what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. And, when it is our time, it's not a matter of giving up. It's a decision to move on.

I've learned...there is strength in numbers.

I've learned...some relationships are worth some hassle and temporary disappointment. Others are not.

I've learned...even "food poisoning" can be funny in the company of good friends.

I've learned...while I love technology there is such a thing as overload. Sometimes it's beneficial to check the smart phone at the door.

I've learned...I prefer to flip an actual page of a book rather than a virtul matter how good the graphics are.

I've can find friends in unlikely places.

I've kids are absolutely hysterical...intentionally and unintentionally.

I've truly is better to give than to receive.

I've learned...there are actually such things as stupid cats. And, I own one.

I've learned...the depths of love and loss.

I've learned...while time heals, it's never fast enough.

I've learned...that I have acquired a taste for running and can now understand how Forrest Gump became so addicted to it.

I've learned...board games are still relevant. Especially when it is the game "Things" and it's being played with people who share my sense of humor.

I've learned..."stay home days" totally rock and wearing PJ's all day should not be under-valued.

I've gleaned quite a bit from the year.'s to a year ahead filled with Sunshine and Lollipops.