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I don’t remember a day when Mom wasn’t smiling.

Joy is a choice, and she chooses joy every day. I have the privilege of being one of the witnesses and recipients of that joy…

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Our family has lived all over the place – the northern coast of California, the beaches of Hawaii, the evergreen-clad Washington and home-sweet-southern-home Virginia. And each spot on the map felt like home. At the risk of sounding cliché, we all were home to each other, and a lot of that is due to my parent’s intentionality and my mom’s Martha-Stewart-sixth-sense.

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She has raised all of these crazies, and she’s still alive and well. Go figure.

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In third grade my parents decided to homeschool me. I don’t think they knew what they were getting into, but stuck it out through graduation. (I am sure they were cheering for more than the fact that I was graduating that summer…) They proceeded to homeschool my younger siblings as well for most of their education. Mom made the educational process for all of us an enviable adventure. In addition to the required curriculum, we were constantly experiencing hands-on learning in every possible avenue. Trips to the grocery store became a math class. Trips to the aquarium or museum seemed to always include a guided tour followed by a photo or written essay. Evenings at home turned into talent shows where we would display our recent musical accomplishments (or so we thought :)), science experiments (or failures), fort-building, or other creative pursuits.

I mention my education, because it allowed us to spend so much time together. It required that Mom be “on” and engaged as we were home all day long, and she did so with ease.

Image I still can’t believe this, but Mom would often wake up in the morning to a re-arranged living room, or the smell of fresh paint coming from some room in the house because of a late night creative impulse of mine. Shockingly enough, she never batted an eye at my midnight endeavors; in fact, she let me paint and decorate almost every room in our home!

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One day I remember a few neighbor kids were rough housing in our kitchen and one of the guys punched the other and he fell through our vintage all-glass door. My mom immediately went to the boy and was concerned about his safety. The boy who was to blame had the most sheepish and even scared look on his face. My mom just gave him a big hug and responded without an ounce of anger. This event stands out in my mind, because all of the neighbor kids were shocked at her gut reaction. Our house became even more of a favorite hangout spot for all of the little neighbors.

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Mom is always up for adventure, and she literally seems to think anything is possible.

I love that about her.

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Thanks to Mom, I think our family could fill up our own coffee table book of “Awkward Family Photos.” We have over 27 years of family photos (where we wore matching outfits) in the collection! I wish I could find them all, but here is a sampling…

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And just in case you’ve ever wondered where I get my sick dance moves…

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So Mom, this tiny little post doesn’t do you or your beautiful life justice, but thank you. For everything. For your beauty, your faith, your love for others, you. As Lincoln said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

My gratitude + love run deep…

xx,

Mal