Monday, February 2, 2015

Life Goes On . . . .

I haven't been blogging much . . . it's been a few crazy months with very little time left to scrapbook or craft . . . so I thought I would show you what the boys and I have been doing. (Scrapbook layouts to follow later this year!)

Walking & Rolling for a Cure

The boys and I at the Walk-n-Roll

Caleb & George Whalen crossing the finish line - Caleb cut him off yet again to be the first to cross the finish line!

This past September we held our 3rd annual 5K / Walk & Roll for Cure SMA. This was bittersweet. Dave always did a huge amount of the planning and work for this event, but I know that he would be very proud, despite the pain, I carried on, but it was worth it because we're $25,000 closer to a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy! We also renamed the event to honor Dave - it's now the Trooper Cunniff 5K / Walk-n-Roll.

Counting Our Blessings
Caleb wearing Zach's turkey hat. . . Gobble Gobble

Mommy & Zach

Mommy, Caleb, and Zach with Nana & Papa

This was our first Thanksgiving without Dave, and poor Zach had a hard time. In 2013, Dave and I went to Zach's Thanksgiving Feast at school, and Dave volunteered to carve the turkey. The week before this year's Thanksgiving feast, I got a call from Zach's teacher. Apparently when they started talking about the feast Zach raised his hand and said, "Mrs. M., my daddy won't be able to 'harve' the turkey this year because he died." I had no idea he even remembered the Thanksgiving before, let alone Dave 'harving' the turkey. Mrs. M.'s solution was to have Zach ask Papa if he would come and carve this year's turkey. It still didn't stop Zach from talking about Daddy, but at least it got him through the feast.

This episode made me realize that the boys and I needed some new traditions to make it through the holiday season. Instead of cooking, we went to our favorite restaurant, TOPS Diner, for Thanksgiving dinner. Dave and I often joked that TOPS was our "home away from home" so when one of our favorite waitresses suggested we spend Thanksgiving with them, it just seemed "right". There were tears, but in spite of my broken heart, I still had many blessing to count.

Thanksgiving Feast 2013 - Dave "harving" the turkey

Getting Ready for Christmas & Starting New Traditions

Snoopy made his appearance on December 1st

Our new blue icicle lights . . . in honor of Daddy.

Christmas Morning 2014
My face may be smiling, but my heart was breaking.
Even though this past year was our second Christmas without Dave, 2014 was the first time that I had to prepare and decorate for Christmas without him. It was another painful first for me - having to pull out the ornaments and decorations that we had collected over 14 years of marriage and relive all the memories without him.

Some traditions we kept the same, like putting up the tree right after Thanksgiving, going to our church's Christmas Eve service, and making our chocolate dipped OREO cookies. But some things I changed to start new traditions for our family. For example, we strung blue icicle lights instead of Dave's preferred white exterior lighting. At first I didn't think I could bring myself to do the outside lighting - Dave had always loved doing that job. But I changed it - I bought blue lights to represent the Thin Blue Line, which represents law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. We did that to honor Daddy.

Another new tradition we started was the Elf on the Shelf. I don't know who had more fun, the boys looking for the elf each morning, or me finding new ways to hide Snoopy. I didn't do anything too outrageous this year, but I'm already finding cool ideas on Pintrest for next year! 

Appearing on The TODAY Show

Frank Squeo arriving to give the boys some big news!

"You're going to Disney World!"

Me and my "Big Brothers"

December brought the first anniversary of Dave's death, but also some really fun news for the boys. Shortly after Dave's death, Sgt. Dollard was contacted by Frank Sqeuo of Baking Memories 4 Kids. He had seen Dave's funeral on TV and noticed that Caleb was in a wheelchair. He founded an organization that gives trips to kids battling life threatening illnesses. When he saw our story he wanted to give us a trip to Disney, Universal Studios and LEGO Land!

On December 12th he came to our house, along with the local media, a producer from the TODAY show and Dave's co workers to tell the boys they were Florida bound. It was so exciting to watch the boys get some amazing news. We leave in March and while I'm already planning the photo ops and scrapbooks, the boys can not wait to meet Darth Vader and do some Jedi training at Hollywood Studios!

Memorial Services
Sgt. Dollard and Scott with us at the Elks Club, where both boys were presented with a medal in Dave's honor.
I am very honored by all the organizations who honored Dave this past year in various memorial services. I am so grateful for everyone who honored Dave's sacrifice, and as I grieve his loss it helps to know that others remember him. Every service brings the now familiar twinges of pain, but usually there are troopers near by, who have been a tremendous support this past year. They have cried and laughed with me and I now better understand why Dave loved going to work!

Dave's Dream
The most exciting event of this past few months, but also one of the most painful, is seeing Dave's dream become a reality. Dave wanted to build a one level, handicap accessible house to make life easier for Caleb, and for us to care for him. It's been amazing to watch The Amedore Group build Dave's dream house, but I wish he was here to see it.

Our new house takes shape.

Picking out the siding, shutters and stone work for the exterior - I knew just what Dave wanted!

Our kitchen flooring, cabinets and countertops

The roof is on. . . 

. . . and the rooms are framed!

The boys are "super" excited!!

Dave always wanted some type of stonework.

Our new kitchen . . . with a handicap accessible island.

Our new living room . . . complete with the fireplace Dave wanted.

Moving day is fast approaching and I have begun the painful process of packing up the last home Dave and I shared together. I keep finding guitar picks all over the house - each one makes me smile and then I break down and cry because I know that there won't be any strewn about the new house. It's reassuring that the floor plan was one that Dave picked out, and I will always be grateful that he talked so much about what he wanted. I know everything is exactly as Dave would have it.

So this is why my blog has been silent . . . . but not any more. With all the exciting things that have happened and are,coming up, I have a lot of material to "scrap". In the meantime, while my scrapbook supplies are *gasp* packed for the move, I've taken pictures of pages to post. So here's to life going on . . . 

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