the gift of a piece

Oh, friends. It’s been a while, huh? I’ve missed you so much and I sure do love you.

For as long as I’ve been away, I swear I’ve also been hearing my dad’s tractor on the daily. I’ve never seen a retired couple work as hard as my parents. But that’s another story for another day.

This one is about why my dad’s been back and forth (and back and forth) on his tractor for a couple months(ish). We’ve known for some time that a tree out back was failing. Now, when there are over 50 acres of property, there are obviously many (many) trees. But this was not just any tree. No, this was ‘Pete’s Tree.’

I wish I could tell you every detail (I should have asked my dad to tell the story. that’d be way fun!) but what I do know is that my Grandpa (James John, JJ) Lowman affectionately named this tree because of the way it was built around a rock. The reference comes from a passage in Matthew after Jesus asked his disciples who they believed He was and Simon Peter basically nailed it.

I give you the name Peter, a stone.  And this rock will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church—my legislative assembly, and the power of death will not be able to overpower it!  Matthew 16:18 TPT

Over time, when family members would gather here, my dad became the tour guide leading others out to check out and, with no exaggeration, marvel at this tree. It truly made very little sense that this tree was completely wrapped around a rock and standing as proudly as it did. It was also just this perfect visual cue pointing back to how Grandpa made a decision one day to follow Jesus that changed the entire trajectory of our family. We were the tree. He was the rock.

This past Father’s Day, my mom shared a photo difficult to stomach. It’s been difficult enough not having JJ with us for the past (nearly) 14 years. But to see Pete’s tree falling apart was hard. It felt like we were losing this piece of Grandpa that meant so much to him. Something that was still here for us to touch and appreciate. And when I say it’s meant a lot to us, my cousin has it forever imprinted as a tattoo. We love this tree.

So back to my busy dad. A couple weeks ago, we were celebrating my sisters niftieth birthday (she doesn’t like when I type the real age). My dad had asked me the day prior when I could stop over to his pole barn. Now, listen. I was thrilled to finally clear out a storage unit of mine several months ago but there are just a few things taking up the front .125 of his barn that I still need to deal with. So I was like, ‘no way. not this weekend.’

While we were waiting for Nikki to arrive for the surprise, I noticed my immediate crew had gone over to my parents’ so naturally, I got nervous and followed. When I got up there, they steered me towards the barn and I probably sighed out loud. I was in a dress! But my dad told CJ to have me come through the big door instead as he walked through the other. So, I knew something was up.

I walk in and my dad just grins as he’s sharing words I can’t even hear because I had already started sobbing. Literally. I couldn’t believe what he was presenting.

Crap. I forgot an important part. I’ve been eyeing several styles of side tables for a while now. I told my parents I really like these live-edge style tables and they’d seen a similar one up for grabs at the recent hospice auction. I told them to jump on it if it was reasonable. I didn’t hear anything and I figured it was not, in fact, reasonable.

So, here we are in August and I’m seeing these very similarly built tables that tractor man had been constructing. From Pete’s Tree.

I’m not lying when I say that I said I deserve no such thing and that this is likely the best gift I’ve ever been given. And don’t you come at me about my child because that is a VERY different type of gift. Moms, can we agree? I also really like the Ninja 5-in-1 my parents got me for my birthday. That’s a keeper, too. I’m just saying that normally I don’t feel like I’m a good gift-getter because I feel terrible someone would spend their money on me. That’s all. I guess that also explains that CJ is, in fact, not a gift because I did have to pay for him. So there.

Anyway … I got the (almost) last piece of my gift tonight when my dad affixed a plaque that reads, ‘Pete’s Tree 2022, Matthew 16:18, Rev JJ Lowman’. I asked him if I could get a photo of him with the piece of Pete’s Tree and of Rev JJ that I get to have forever. Next to me. In my living room. Didn’t he do so great?!

Dad, you’ll just never know. I’m crying as I type. For this, and all the other things, thank you. I love you so stinkin’ much. ❤

world photography day

Seriously, if I could count the number of memos I miss about certain days and events that I could really get on board with … well, it would be a big number. The good news is that I did, in fact, hear that yesterday was dubbed as ‘world photography day’ but the obvious is that I missed posting about it in time. #sadtrombone

It’s all good, though. I am still 100% cool with getting on board with the old clichés as well like ‘better late than never.’ Continue reading

dear santa: a project

I was pretty worried (and mildly relieved) that last Christmas would also mean our last visit from Santa but oh HO HO HO was I wrong. It actually seemed like his fervor for the gentleman in the old red suit grew this year. Which was fun.

Not long after the tree went up Thanksgiving weekend, Connor wrote a letter to Santa. Pinterest to the rescue for an adorable template that I drew up on a piece of his sketch paper for him to complete. I forgot to note this would be in addition to the list he’d already given me … which was completely different. Of course.  Continue reading

better late than never

Just about a year and four months ago (give or take), we celebrated my niece’s sweet sixteen. Thankfully, she’s incredibly patient and understanding because it took us this long to actually make due on her gift. Thanks to Groupon and schedules that finally lined up, our shopping trip to Chicago became a reality, ahem, this very first weekend of 2014. Which, coincidentally, will also go down in infamy as “Snowmageddon, 2014″; which, as we all well know, still doesn’t nearly rival snow storms of 30-60 years ago.” Thankyaverymuch.

We decided to drive in case we came back with a gazillion bags. Lord knows there was no way we were making the trek to Union Station with a two-person suitcase and six or seven bags. Oh, I meant … there was no way I was doing that. Turns out, it was a wise choice we drove. More on that later.

We found a hotel super close to Michigan Ave so we could easily walk to the Mag Mile and shop our little hearts out but, as it turns out, shopping wasn’t really on the agenda. As soon as we saw a sign for Navy Pier we opted to head out there and check out the ice situation and if, in fact, it was windier near the water. (No, I actually had no question about that). It was fairly quiet but absolutely beautiful (and yep, windy as suspected) off the end of the Pier.



We may or may not have accessed a couple of areas on the Pier that are under construction and not meant to be traversed at this time … but that’s part of what makes an adventure an adventure. Right?

I’ve always enjoyed visiting cities in the winter, because as it turns out, people just don’t know well enough to stay in. My hunch is that many of them were travelers like ourselves trying to get some last-minute enjoyment out of the holiday lights and shops, but either way, it actually makes you feel warmer to be surrounded by all of that other downtown energy. And buildings. And the sights. Oh, the sights. There was this guy, who was clearly lost and clearly trying to duck and cover after he knew I’d spotted him. Silly goose.


And this … guy? who … well … wasn’t in any hurry to get anywhere when my sister pointed him out. Poor thing.

IMG_0627_FBOur short walk on Michigan Ave. took us into one store before Alyssa decided her heart’s desire was to see Blue Man Group. We’d talked about it briefly on the way and we knew there was one late Saturday evening show. None of us had been and it sounded like fun so we figured we should shift our focus to getting some food. Have I mentioned I can’t go more than four hours anymore without thinking about food? Sheesh.

We found ourselves at The Cheesecake Factory (hello, best-portion-sizes-for-weight-gain-on-the-planet, I think I love you) and I thought it would be wise to check on tickets for the show. There were four left. In the premium section. I ended the call and we were all a bit dejected (but in my heart, I was all, yay shopping!). But, Alyssa was bummed and there was no way we were going to have a bummed birthday celebrant so we called back and got the

Alyssa took her first cab ride over to the Briar Street Theatre with my new favorite cabbie who I swear said that business was slow because people aren’t getting out as much and he’s just (murmuring) “learning to drive in the snow.” Awesome.

Oh, did I mention at this point that there was probably a good four inches of slush and junk on the sidewalks so we were all a bit … disheveled when we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up for the show? And, at this point, we’d already walked about 7 miles.

Turns out, the show was absolutely phenomenal making the few extra dollars completely worth spending. We all hurt a bit from smiling and trying not to get completely creeped out from the blue creepy guys leading the show. Did I mention they are creepy? Have you ever been up close to one? They don’t smile or talk … they just, just look at you. Eek.

Alyssa and I acting normal with that one blue creepy guy. 

We took the El back to the city (after a colorful detour to Caribou Coffee) and girl-talked until just after midnight. Mom and I bunked and Nikki and Alyssa did the same. I refuse to bunk with Nikki because she and I have a bad bunking history. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

We woke up this morning to news reports of ridiculously treacherous conditions, which yes, we knew were likely but who can really trust meteorologists anyway? Am I right?

This is where I’m thankful we drove. We didn’t need to load the rig with bags, but I was thankful we were together in our car making our way slowly back to Michigan. It took us just about five hours to get back, and even though it wasn’t a good idea to test the weather in the first place, the trip and the time with these ladies was totally worth it.

I’m sorry, miss Alyssa, that it took us one year and four months to gift you with your trip to Chicago but I hope you loved it just as much as I did. You’re always worth the upgrade, chick. And just think, soon, you’ll be 18 and we’ll have to do something even super-awesomer (but this time, before you turn 20, ok?). Ok.

christmas gifts

It’s funny how, as you grow older (and yet of course, not out of your twenties), you just don’t care about getting gifts any more. Don’t get me wrong. It is enjoyable to receive gifts and I do have an Amazon wish list (specifically for my mother), but it’s only because certain individuals my mother won’t let me get out of getting gifts any time the occasion would call for it. Continue reading

my heart


he is my heart


I frequently tell my boy he is my heart and now I have the bling to prove it (thanks to a very good friend). It seems like such a simple charm, but really, that one little ‘C’ on that one little heart communicates absolutely everything this mom feels about her child.

“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone

one fine day


That boy. Oh, how he melts my heart.

Yesterday, he was simply too excited to share his gifts with me so I he gave me a blue dolphin he’d cut-out and stickered; a card that he made in the shape of a heart with the words, “be (by) connor/for mom/i heart u mom” on the outside and, “mom yes/mother’s happy day/32/mother’s day/smiley/mom i heart u”; another store-bought card he picked out with his dad; a flower bookmark he’d made at school with his hand print in the middle (adorable) and a picture frame and school picture. I felt so special. I don’t think there is a better gift than one made by a child.  Continue reading