My Dad

When I was born my dad was still a baby himself. I think about how young they were having my brother and I (early twenties) and how much responsibility was on their shoulders and I’m in awe at the life they built.

My dad has been a hard worker from day one. There was never a time I remember my father not working. Even now, in retirement, he has gone back to work. He can’t seem to stop-he’s a work horse and if he stops he won’t know what to do. His drive has taught me to work hard for what I want and instilled those work ethics in me from day one.

We were never rich growing up but we also never wanting for a thing. Truly. If we wanted or needed anything, my Dad made it happen. He took us on family vacations every year. Some of my best memories are from those vacations. They were always on a budget and now I see they probably had to save all year to make them happen but we traveled all across the US and Canada with my family growing up and I feel forever grateful for the exposure and experiences they prioritized for us.

He has supported us from day one. Yes financially, of course, but more than that I could and can to this day always call my Dad anytime there is a problem. Something broke? My Dad will fix it. If Macgyver and Bob Vila had a kid it would be my Dad. Need advice, I can call my dad. I had a friend once tell me I know a lot about a lot of things and that’s because I learned it all from my Dad. He was Google before Google.

My Dad is selfless. He would literally give anyone the shirt off his back, his pants, and his shoes. And that’s how he raised his children. I can’t count the amount of times my Dad went out of his way to help a stranger growing up. As kids we would grumble sometimes when Dad stopped to help someone with car trouble, or went the extra mile to help a neighbor. But those lessons sunk in. He helped. He always stopped. And he was dependable. Always.

When I was a Junior in college I had a rough year. I was working for the school and my boss was torture, I called my parents in tears almost every night. I didn’t want to be there and I was struggling emotionally. He never once made me feel worse by discussing all the money it took to get me there. After one of the many calls of me breaking down on the phone he told me he would be there Monday morning to move me home and we would figure it out. And that’s exactly what he did. He came and got me and gave me a safe place to land for the year until I was ready to go back and finish my degree. And he championed me the whole way. Failing isn’t as hard when you have a person to help you succeed again. My parents have always been that. He taught me to regroup, dust myself off and go back. I did and I graduated Summa Cum Laude the following year.

When Walter and I got engaged we were both two broke kids trying to make a life together. Walter was relocating to Ohio and we were moving to a house to start our adventure. Except he didn’t have a job yet and I was barely making enough to cover my bills. My Dad gave us the $ he saved for our wedding and told me to use it however we needed. If we wanted a big wedding go ahead, but if we needed it to help us get by until he found work and to scale back the wedding he was ok with that too. And that’s what we did. We would not have made it that first year if it weren’t for that gracious gift.

My Dad has taught me so many things. A work ethic to match no other, a heart of service, how to fish, how to joke, how to fix everything in my house but mainly my Dad taught me how to love with no limits. Happy Father’s Day Dad.

Ways to Keep Cool in Dayton this SUMMER.

Summer is here and that means it’s time to entertain the kids in the HEAT. We’ve compiled our favorite pools and splash pads to help you find some relief this summer. Enjoy!

Sycamore Trails Aquatic Center

400 S. Heincke Road
Miamisburg, Ohio 45342

https://www.playmiamisburg.com/places-to-discover/stac/

Paid Admission, For more info head here https://www.playmiamisburg.com/places-to-discover/stac/

Wilson Park Pool

1226 S. Elm St. West Carrollton, OH 45449

Paid Admission, Pro Tip: you can bring your own coolers and food in to this pool. For more info. Head here https://www.westcarrollton.org/wilson-pool-pre-season-passes-available/

Adventure Reef Water Park-Kettering

2900 Glengarry Drive
Kettering, OH 45429

Paid Admission, For more info head here https://www.playkettering.org/adventure-reef-water-park/

Kacie Jane Splash

525 W Lytle-Five Points Rd, Springboro, OH 45066

Pro Tip get there right at 10am to snag a prime picnic table in the shade.

Free entrance. Open 10am-8pm. For more info head here https://www.cityofspringboro.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Kacie-Jane-Park-10

Activity Park Splash Pad

221 N Main St, Centerville, OH 45459

FREE. Opens at 930am 7 days a week and has a splash pad and playground combined. For more info head here. https://www.cwpd.org/parks/activity-center/

Orchardly Park & Splash Pad

599 Delaine Ave. Oakwood, OH 45419

FREE. One of our favorites. Bring beach towels if there are no seats left there is a large grass area to set up for the day. For more info head here https://oakwoodohio.gov/orchardly-park-shelter/

J.F. Kennedy Park and Splash Pad

5073 Bigger Rd, Kettering, OH 45440.

FREE, open 11am-8pm playground and splash pad combined. For more info head here https://www.playkettering.org/kennedy-park-splash-pad/

Gardner Pool

Collingwood Ave. and Shafor Blvd Oakwood, OH 45419

Paid Admission. For more info head here. https://oakwoodohio.gov/gardner-pool/

Dayton Area Splash Pad Locations

Free, For more info head here https://www.daytonohio.gov/558/Spray-Parks

Kroger Aquatic Center at The Heights

8625 Brandt Pike
Huber Heights, OH 45424

Paid Admission. For more info head here https://www.hhoh.org/277/Admission

Get Creative!

FREE, Your Own Backyard.

When all else fails grab a hose, grab a bucket, pick up a splash pad on Amazon, find a baby pool, fill up a stock tank. Do whatever works for your budget and enjoy making memories with the ones you love.

https://www.amazon.com/PRINCESSEA-Outdoor-Mermaid-Childrens-Sprinkler/dp/B083V663ZJ

Loving Day

“Loving Day is the anniversary of a historic court decision for interracial marriage. Every year on June 12th, it’s a global day of visibility, education, and community.”(Lovingday.org)


Happy Loving Day! It’s hard to think that if it weren’t for the Loving family there would be no Chandler Crew. In 1967 the United States Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. 1967 folks! This wasn’t hundreds of years ago. This was only a few years before my husband was born. Many of you were alive at that time.

It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that segregation, Jim Crow laws and the like were long ago but MANY of the people who made and enforced these laws are alive and well. Which unfortunately means so is racism. However, we owe such a debt to those who came before us and made the path to our marriage an easy one by comparison. My heart breaks to think of all the people who were unable to Love the one their Soul loved because of such antiquated and segregated laws.

Whether you are joining in a Loving Day event this year or just enjoying the love of your interracial partnership we all need to give a big shout out to the Lovings and ALL the interracial marriages across the globe for standing strong and standing tall and telling the world that Love is Love in every shade. #TheChandlerCrew #LovingDay


Here are a few pictures of our Love Story. Please share your pictures in the comments below. Happy Loving Day.

The Lovings

Video Games I Actually Like

So hear me out for a second. I’ve never been opposed to video games. I grew up playing Nintendo with my brother after school. Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt were my jam. But as I got older the love of video games went out the window and it had been a decade or more since I picked up a controller. Then my husband came along. The world’s biggest gamer. He is obsessed with all things video games so gaming came back in to my life. Then came along our daughter, Jaz, and just like her dad she is an avid lover of video games.

Player One & Player Two

My husband Walter has all the new Playstation’s and gaming consoles and yadda yadda. It has never been my thing so I never really cared about any of it. BUT I’ve realized Walter and our daughter are bonding like crazy over games and I’m left on the sidelines. However, I’m learning if you can’t beat them you need to join them. So instead of constantly complaining that everyone is ignoring me for their video games I’ve decided to make myself start playing games with them. Don’t worry video game police we have screen time limits set for all of us. Also to make us all feel a little better about playing games the APA published an article discussing the benefits of playing video games. Turns out playing video games can help children with problem solving and:

“actually may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception” (full article link below)

Gaming with Dad since Day 1

The problem for me is-I hated the games they played. So it was time for me to find something other than Minecraft (Jasmine’s favorite) or Destiny (Walter’s favorite) to play. So my search began to find some games I could play and like. I’m all about family time so I was on a mission to find something we could all love.

Now if you know me at all you know the nanny in me can’t help but look for educational games to play with Jaz. I mean if we are going to play games and I can find some educational benefits in there too and help her learn without realizing she’s learning then I’m all for it. I initially started with a website called ABC mouse. And honestly they were great for Jaz to learn a multitude of things BUT I wasn’t a fan of having to pay a monthly subscription. It costs $12.99/month but they allow you to try it free for 30 days (that’s what we did). Jaz liked the games and I liked the educational aspects but the price tag was something I wasn’t willing to pay monthly.

https://www.abcmouse.com/abc/

So that sent me on the hunt for a place with games for Jaz, Walter & I that was FREE. I’ve tried out about a million free apps (hello annoying advertisement pop ups) but I finally landed on an online site called PLAYS.ORG https://plays.org/

https://plays.org/

So here’s why I like the site and my review of our favorite games.

The first thing that sold me was, NO ADS!! You read that right, there are zero pop ups which is amazing! Jaz gets frustrated with pop ups (don’t we all) so this automatically makes this site a winner for me.

Second, they have over 150 games and a TON of educational games as well. Don’t worry they have plenty of just for fun games too. There’s something for everyone.

Third, they have adult and kid level games. This is perfect for our whole household. So if you are looking for some new gaming sites and tired of downloading apps that are duds check it out. Below I’ll list our favorites to give you an idea of what they have.

Our Favorite Games:

Pam: my favorite game by far is Pipe Mania. It is soothing to me and helps my OCD need for order to arrange the pipes and make the water flow. It makes me feel accomplished and let’s me check out for a few minutes-which is great when I’m super stressed. It takes very little thought though so it isn’t taxing on my brain and it is actually relaxing.

https://plays.org/pipe-mania/

Walter: My husband likes the classics. He is an avid gamer but goes for the old school games like Super Tetris, Invace Spaders (Space Invaders inspired) and Duck Shooter (I can kick his butt at this one thanks to all those afternoons on Nintendo). It’s a little slice of childhood nostalgia that wins for him every time.

https://plays.org/super-tetris/
https://plays.org/invace-spaders/
https://plays.org/duck-shooter/

Jaz: It is soooo hard to pick a favorite game for her because she loves them all. She is most definitely her father’s child. When asked she says “Find The Pug” is her favorite. Think Where’s Waldo but with a cute Dog instead.

https://plays.org/find-the-pug/
https://plays.org/find-the-pug/

But she is constantly playing “Cute Shapes” and doing the “Bible Coloring Pages”. I’m loving that she’s learning colors, numbers, shapes, counting, etc while she’s playing so it’s a win win.

https://plays.org/cute-shapes/
https://plays.org/bible-coloring-book-for-kids/

Overall, I can’t rave about this website enough because it has such a good variety of classic fun games and educational games for the whole family. And NO ADS! If you have any gamers in your life give it a try. It’s Chandler Crew Approved.

https://plays.org/

Cited APA Article Link:

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/11/video-games

Tips for Buying a New Home

You can’t turn on the news lately without hearing about the current housing market. Supply is low right now which is pushing prices up. According to a recent article from CNBC “ the median price of an existing home sold in March was $329,100. That’s a 17.2% increase from March 2020.” (Article linked below)

So then how do you get a good deal on a home and where do you begin? Let’s explore together!


When it comes to buying houses I’ll be the first to admit we didn’t know a single thing when we purchased our first home almost 7 years ago. Walter and I had been saving for awhile and were able to pay cash on a fixer upper and having a mortgage didn’t even cross our radar. While this was GREAT at the time we have now hit a period of life where we are outgrowing our home. We have a 5 year old, a child in college ( soon to be living with us), and a dog. Our home is currently AT CAPACITY. I repeat, we are AT CAPACITY. The amount of time we have been spending at home this year, thanks COVID, has made it crystal clear that it’s time for us to upgrade. BUT OMG where do we even begin? What can we afford? How do we get a deal? Gahhhh. I’m overwhelmed. Well I consulted some realtor friends and I started researching online and here’s some helpful info I’ve found along the way and I’m passing it your direction.


First, How much can we afford? In my online browsing I came across a Mortgage Calculator that helped us figure out what we could afford. Here’s a link below if you are curious https://www.mortgagecalculators.info/

https://www.mortgagecalculators.info/

They had a lot of handy calculators you can plug your info in to and figure out what kind of mortgage payments you can afford, what the down payment on a house will be etc… It was super easy to navigate and gave us an idea of what kind of payments we would be able to handle.

All of these questions can also be answered with a realtor you trust, but both Walter and I like to know what we can afford before even crossing paths with a home so this was a handy tool.

According to CNBC you should use the 30/30 rule. Which means you don’t spend more than 30% of your monthly income on your mortgage. This is easy to figure out using the mortgage calculator available on this site. They also suggest having 30% of the home value saved in cash if possible. (article linked below)


If you Google “How to land a good deal on a new home” the top three tips will be,

Find a good realtor

Get pre approved

Know what you can afford

Since we know what we can afford now thanks to the mortgage calculators it’s time to find a good realtor. Word of mouth is everything in this game so ask your friends who they have used and loved. We are blessed to know a handful of amazing realtors I would trust my home with but if you aren’t ask around for a reference. If you are in the Dayton Area check out our friend Dan Nichols from Glasshouse Realty Group. https://www.facebook.com/dan.nichols.9210256

He recently gave us some great advice when going to buy a new home.

“Don’t buy a new car, don’t open a new credit card, don’t quit your job, and get a home warranty.”-Dan Nichols, Glasshouse Realty Group

This is great advice because, although I would love a new car right now, we plan to wait until after we’ve purchased our home to think about upgrading. This is something I would’ve never even thought of so having a great realtor pays off! It’s so important to find a patient realtor to answer all your questions, because you will have a ton of questions during this process!


Getting pre approved for a mortgage is the final piece to the puzzle. A quick online search will show your 100s of sites and companies to pre approve your home loan. Lending Tree https://www.lendingtree.com/ and RocketMortgage http://www.rocketmortgage.com/ were both easy to operate, user friendly, and they answered all my questions with good customer service.

Getting pre approved wasn’t as scary as it sounds. Your realtor can also work with you to suggest a local lender and walk you through the steps to get pre approved. Utilize your realtor!

Buying a home can be a very stressful process but with a little prep work, research, and the right realtor the process can go off without a hitch. Walter and I are looking forward to the day we find our next house and continue building a home together.

Articles Cited linked Below.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/23/as-home-prices-rise-heres-what-buyers-can-do-to-land-a-deal-.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/10/always-use-the-30-30-3-rule-before-buying-a-home-during-pandemic-says-finance-real-estate-expert.html

One Year

The following are excerpts from my journal that I finally felt ok enough to share. Today is a heavy day, these are heavy memories but we are surviving and still finding the joy in things.

May 17th, 2020

6:00am


I can’t sleep. I have to kill my mom today. My mom is currently in the ICU, on the vent, she’s been there for almost 3 weeks. Her lungs are not working they can’t do anything else for her. Her body is failing and it would be misery to let her continue to struggle. So now we’ve been given the impossible task of ending her life support at 3pm. I am beyond heartbroken and dreading every second of today. I am sick to my stomach with dread. I have to kill my mama today. I have to make the call to do it and I’m devastated. “we can do hard things” keeps playing in my head. I have to kill my mom today. I don’t know if I can do this hard thing.

3:00pm

We are heading to the hospital to turn off Mom’s ventilator. My Dad is dressed up, so am I. We all seem so uncomfortable today. Like our clothes don’t fit right. Really we just want to be anywhere but here. We aren’t talking, no one can think of anything worth saying. The whole house is full of dread. I feel like I may puke any minute. My brother and Charissa are here too. He’s usually joking but has no one liners for us today. It’s too quiet for all of us but we don’t have the energy to fill the silence. She’s trying to make sure we all eat, she hasn’t stopped working since she got here. She stocked the house with food. She bought half the liquor store. She’s packed a bag of essentials for the hospital. It feels like we are going to war. Walter is trying to keep me steady but he doesn’t know how so he just keeps squeezing my hand. I’m so glad Charissa is here to think for us because my brain isn’t working anymore and she knows what to do without me telling her. She’s making sure we are ok even when we aren’t. We are loading up in the car and we look like we are going to church as a family. It’s no church I want to go to But I hope God is there.

Pictures Jaz painted for Grandma

5:17pm

My mom passed away. James Taylor was playing in the background.

10:15pm

Watching someone die is nothing like the movies. They didn’t remove the vent and she just suddenly coded and died. No, that would be too quick, too painless. Instead, they remove the vent and push pain meds and heavy drugs and you watch FOR HOURS as your loved one does what they call “guppie breathing” gasping for air…for hours. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t seem peaceful. Each breathe becomes more labored, more shallow, longer between each filling of the lungs. You sit there for hours, almost 3hrs in our case before they take their last breathe. And as the end draws near you think each breathe is it, so you sit crying, holding her hand, saying you love her frantically over and over while her favorite album plays in the background. You say I love you so many times it starts to sound like a mantra, you become numb watching the heart monitor as it stops and starts, dips and rises. Each time wondering if this is it. It’s truly enough to make a sane person lose their mind. And then eventually you start praying for God to take her. As much as you want her to stay you know you can’t take anymore of this so you pray for it to end. And then it does. And you regret your prayer. You say your finally goodbyes and ache in places you didn’t know existed and you walk out of the hospital with your mother’s soiled clothes and her clunky ipad…but not her. You leave her in this building with strangers and you climb in your car and you wonder how you will keep moving.

May 17th, 2021

6:00am

It’s been a year. It still doesn’t seem real most days. I’m ok. We are ok. But that hole doesn’t go away. Little by little hours turn in to days, which turn in to weeks and you start to remember you can do hard things because you keep doing hard things and surviving. You find something each day to focus on that’s not your grief and you keep swimming. For your husband’s sake, for your daughter’s sake, for your mother’s sake and most of all for yourself. It’s been a year and it still feels so heavy but it’s a weight I can carry now. We miss you terribly mom. Thank you for a lifetime of memories and most of all LOVE.

Nancy Thompson 1956-2020

Love, Grace, & Perfume

So today I was walking from the bathroom to the hallway and I suddenly smelled my mother’s perfume very strongly. This was odd because my mother has been deceased for almost a year and the only bottle of perfume she had left I have wrapped up in a box in a closet put away on a high shelf. If you knew my mom you knew anytime she went anywhere she would put on her Charlie perfume. The smell in my hallway was so strong of Charlie today it smelled like she was standing right next to me spraying the bottle. It took my breathe away as the memories flooded into my mind of my mother over the years. It’s amazing how much smell can trigger a memory. I didn’t say anything to Walter about it at all because I thought it was just a weird phenomenon and maybe just my grief playing tricks on me. Then a few hours later Walter was walking from what used to be my mom’s room into the bathroom through that same hallway and he stopped and said, “it’s the wildest thing Pam, I smell your mom’s perfume.” Well that was it, I was off my feet in a flash. I couldn’t believe he smelled it too! We started frantically searching for the source. I knew I had kept a bottle of her perfume and I found it tucked away on the aforementioned shelf nowhere near the hallway. We then searched the hall, bedroom, and bathroom for any similar smells. We came up empty handed. For the life of us we could not find the source of the smell. It lingered all day too. We never could locate the source and I finally gave up trying to figure it out. Instead I began to think about the last time I had seen my mother inside the walls of this house. It was exactly a year ago to this day and it started out as any regular day. I worked a long day (the kids were out of school at that time) and I returned from work in the evening to find that mom was struggling to breathe properly. She had also used the bedside toilet because she couldn’t make it to the bathroom without having a breathing/panic attack. I remember being a little snippy with her, which was truly just my exhaustion, when I found I needed to clean up her toilet situation. I would later come to regret this conversation because it was the last one we had in person. I hate that in that moment I was less than pleasant and I’m sure I made her feel like a burden. I would give anything to redo that moment. Later that evening after cleaning things up I realized she wasn’t getting any better and I was forced to call for an ambulance to take her to the ER. It was there that I sat for hours waiting to hear any news. Eventually they found me in the waiting room and sent me home. Mom was being admitted into the COVID ICU and then two days later transferred to the regular ICU. Within two weeks she would be passing. Had I known that that evening after work was the last time I would see her I would’ve managed the patience of JOB. But life doesn’t work like that and I had no clue how things would unfold and how important that night would become.

Thankfully a few days after she was admitted I was able to speak to her on the ipad with a nurse holding the ipad and I apologized for my lack of patience in that last moment and she very seriously told me not to worry about it because she knew I didn’t mean it and not to think another second about any of it. Of course, I have thought about it, hence this blog post, but it was nice to have actual absolution from her mouth. She told me she loved me over and over and I told her the same until she could no longer talk through her BiPap machine. I hung up knowing things were ok but also dreading what was to come. If I could go back I would change so many things about her last month on this earth but one thing I would never change is the LOVE and GRACE she always managed to give to her children. She was a living example of God’s love for us and I’m forever thankful for that.
We never did find the source of the perfume smell earlier but I’ve come to the conclusion that it was just Mom checking in to continue to offer me that same LOVE even if she can’t be here in person. I will always miss her terribly but just like the smell of Charlie perfume her memories will now trigger nothing but love from me.

Shot of HOPE

First Dose ✅

I went this morning to get the first dose of the Pfizer Covid Vaccine. It was quick and painless but immediately afterwards I cried in my car for ten minutes straight. Covid has taken so much from us this last year. It stole our “normal life” and our peace, but more than that it stole the precious time we had left with my Mom. The outcome may have ended up being the same but we lost those last few weeks with her because of this virus. My last conversation with her was over FaceTime while a nurse held up an Ipad in the ICU. That last convo haunts me to this day and I wish it had been more…longer…in person…different. We’ve then lived with the trauma of losing her on a ventilator and knowing that was a possibility if we got Covid, which of course, is anxiety ridden. I know we aren’t the only ones who have experienced extreme loss this last year, the majority of of the world has experienced loss in one way or the other. But today… Today I got a little shot of HOPE and I’m looking forward to when Walter and I are both fully vaccinated and glimmers of regular life start creeping back in. ❤️

Grandma Visit

So I’m sitting in the living room the other day working on a few things and I hear Jaz on the PlayStation and she’s chatting away. She narrates Everything in life so I don’t think much of it. I assume she’s talking to the characters she’s playing with on the video game. She isn’t hooked up online so she can’t talk to any other actual people but sometimes she gives the players voices and she likes to narrate what they are doing. I hear her say “I’m thankful for you too” and “I love you too” and a few other things and I’m only half paying attention to her. Then she stops me dead in my tracks when she says. “Mom, Grandma said she’s thankful for you, she misses you, and she loves you”.
Of course I immediately ask her to repeat herself. She tells me again, the exact same words. “Grandma says she’s thankful for you, she misses you, and she loves you”.
Now I’m like “oh wow did she tell you that before she went to Heaven Jaz?” And her response is
“No she told me that right now”.
So now I’m internally kind of freaking out but also want more info so I ask her a million questions.

Where is Grandma-she was right next to me but she’s back in Heaven now

What did she look like-she looked like Grandma Mom 🙄

If she was here why couldn’t I see her-because you’re an adult, I could see her because I’m a kid 😱 (This one really got me because we haven’t discussed these types of things with Jaz ever so it wasn’t a topic she would understand or have overheard somehow)

Do you see her a lot? Have you seen her before- yes, sometimes when I’m sleeping.

Then I made her repeat everything like 25 times until she was 100% OVER the conversation and just wanted to play her video game. 😂

Now look, am I completely convinced my Mom was here talking to Jaz? I don’t know. But what I do know is that something put those thoughts in Jasmine’s head, whether it was an actual visit from Mom or just God sending her some warm thoughts I choose to believe it was a hello from my Mom with just the right words for me.