Solo parenting can be rough. In our marriage, I was always the primary parent. Jeff worked a lot, and I was mostly a stay-at-home parent over the years. So, I am used to parenting falling mostly on my shoulders, but solo parenting is still tough. 

See, when Jeff was alive, I had his support and encouragement. If I had a rough day with the kids, he would sometimes bring home dinner just for the two of us to eat after they went to bed. Usually Taco Johns which we both loved. Yum! When I was unsure of how to handle a situation, he was there for me to bounce ideas off of and to help me decide what was right for our children. Often he would tell me that I was doing a great job with the kids, and it was always nice to hear those words from his lips.

Now I try hard to think about what Jeff’s words of encouragement would be when I am having a tough day. I think back on ways he supported me, and let those memories support me during tough times. When I am trying to make decisions, I work hard to see what Jeff’s view would have been. It’s not the same, but it does help me feel less like I am doing this parenting thing alone.

So, earlier this year I sat down and had one of those conversations with Jeff. Our children are now 20, 18, and 15, which means that two of them technically aren’t “children” anymore. They are growing up so quickly! Jeff’s death taught me that making memories is important because those memories are what sustain you when a person is gone.

I really wanted to take the kids on a vacation this summer, but I needed to walk through that with Jeff and get his take on the situation. As many of you can understand, our financial situation is much different than when Jeff was alive. I went back to teaching full-time, but we all know that teachers don’t make a ton of money. 

Might sound silly, but I talked it all through with Jeff. Yes, I know he can’t talk back, but I have had enough conversations with him to know what he likely would say. It would have been something short and sweet like this…Take the trip, make the memories, but don’t go into debt doing it. 

So, that is exactly what we did! I taught summer school all through June to help pay for our trip. We were able to spend 4 nights in Wisconsin where I showed the kids all around where I grew up. We came home for a couple of nights, and then we took off to Georgia to visit one of my dearest friends, Betsy, and her daughter. Betsy lives in northern Georgia, but we were also able to take our kids to Tybee Island and Savannah for a few nights. 

My kids and I had never been to the ocean together so this was such a blessing. Swimming in the ocean with my three kiddos will forever be a favorite memory of mine. Touring Savannah with them will also always rank high. Georgia is absolutely beautiful! Making those memories with my kiddos was even more beautiful. 

Ladies, don’t be afraid to get out there and make memories. I know it can be scary, but you have to keep carrying on and moving forward. Don’t feel like new memories will push out the old memories. You absolutely have room for both! I truly believe our loved ones are watching us and want us to keep living and making new memories. I believe it brings a smile to their face. 

Big hugs everyone! Here are a few pictures from our trip. Enjoy!


Dawn’s life was forever altered on December 6, 2018 when she got the call that her husband, Jeffrey, had passed away at his work. She quickly learned that Jeff died from a gunshot wound, and detectives determined that it was self-inflicted. Dawn still struggles to wrap her brain around that fact. She will tell you that most days she doesn’t think about that part of it at all. Her husband is gone. The manner in which he died ultimately doesn’t matter. Gone is gone. He will forever be 46. Jeff and Dawn started out as friends in the Fall of 1997. They started to date in January of 1999. On September 3rd, 2000, in front of a beautiful lake, Jeff asked Dawn to be his wife, lover and friend forever. She excitedly accepted, and on June 30th, 2001, they became husband and wife. Together, Jeff and Dawn had 3 children...Ali, Josh & Meghan. During the majority of their 17 years of marriage, Dawn was a housewife and Jeff ran a fencing company. The kind of fencing that keeps children and animals contained. Not the kind of fencing that uses a sword. After Jeff passed, Dawn went back to school to get her special education endorsement. She is proud to be a special education teacher. In her free time, she can usually be found spending time with family and friends. Reading has been her passion since she was just a little girl, but since Jeff passed, she has found it hard to focus on reading. While that is a negative change that has happened on her journey, one positive change is that she has been writing more. Dawn tries to be very open about her journey with the hopes that it will help even just one other person better understand grief. For years, Dawn has been passionate about spreading joy to those around her. She continues to be that way, and now she is very purposeful about trying to focus on the positive things even during a horrible situation. She moves forward on this journey with her mind focused on continuing to honor Jeffrey, as well as trying to raise their three wonderful children in a way that will make him proud. Her hope is to live a life that will allow her to see Jeff in Heaven. She wants to see his smile again and feel his arms around her. Of course, that will be after she hopefully hears her Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”