Wednesday, June 29, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 30

Day 30 - Your family.

It's bittersweet to be writing this one today....this challenge has been so much fun!  I will be hosting more of these challenges in the future, for sure. 

This is my family.  Each and every one of them holds a special and unique place in my heart.  Some of them drive me crazy.  And I adore them all.

Baby Girl Christianson - the surprise only a few weeks after we lost Dad.

Riley - The world's most adorable nephew

My brother Gary and his wife, the sister I never had, Gretchen

 My In-Laws, Ken & Kathi

My brother-in-law who refuses to cooperate, TJ

My rock star marathon finishing brother-in-law, Tim

My gorgeous, I can't believe how grown up she is, niece, Athena.

My Mom and Uncle Dan

My adorably hilarious cousins, Rachel & Stephanie

My Christianson Aunts & Uncles, Karen, Susie, Curtis, Kathe & Kevin

Believe it or not, there are a bunch more than made it into this picture.
 The Christiansons...
and Nathan, my practically adopted brother.

The love of my life, Tom.

My kids, Aidan, Ashley, Ally & AJ

My Dad, without whom there would be no me.
I miss you Daddy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 29

Day 29 - Something that shows your personality.

I knew right away which part of my personality I wanted to show off here. Finding something that would do justice to it was a bit harder.

Fortunately for me, I bought this sign a few years ago.  Because, well, it's perfect.  And it's me.  And I practically live in the laundry room.

Kelly: Girl with a sarcastic, often inapproriate sense of humor

The One-Uppers

I'm sure that you know someone like this.

You might even know a few of them. 

I've tried to remove people like this from my life whenever possible because it's just plain exhausting to know them. 

Besides which, they aren't really friends.  At least not on any two way street.

They are the people who can't ever just be a supportive friend.  Who can't ever just shut up and listen.  Who can't lend an ear without interjecting.  Who can't let anything happen in your life without adding a running commentary to it.

The people who's successes are always bigger.  Who's challenges are always greater.  Who have more money or have less of it, whatever the case may be.  Who love their children more, who say things like I would never let my kids do that

Who had a harder time getting pregnant or who were sicker than you were.  Or who had an easier labor or a more difficult baby.  Who has a better relationship with their spouse and has to gush about it constantly or who wants out more than someone else does.

Who have overcome more.  Who work longer hours or have the better job so they don't have to.  Who have the more expensive purse, the higher heels.  The faster car.

The worse family drama.  The sicker parent. 

Maybe I'm just especially sensitive to it all right now.  I'm sure I am.  I know for a fact that I have far less patience right now than I should.  Maybe these people are just pissing me off more than normal because of the chaos that is my life. 

Or maybe it's just the clarity of grief pointing out that which is so apparent.  I know that I have turned a blind eye to people like this as much as I could. 

Eventually, you can't ignore the obvious anymore.

Life isn't a competition. 

There is something odd about a person who actually tries to convince others and themselves that their life is worse than someone else's.  Why would you do that?  Where does that come from?

When I was going through one of the worst periods of my life, just after Tom finished cancer treatment and I lost the baby, I actually knew someone who would interrupt conversations I had with those who actually cared to interject that she had awoken with a huge pimple.  And how that was the worst thing ever.  And what was she going to do???  And so on and so forth.

At some point, I stopped talking about the real things in my life causing pain.  I didn't want them compared to acne on a daily basis.

Which I also have.  And have had for decades now.  Decades. 

I could never imagine trying to compare that to someone losing a child or facing a life threatening illness. 

But the one-uppers don't even bat an eye at it. 

Clearly, they have it the worst.  Ever.  In the history of time.

If you know one of these people, do us all a favor and tell them to stop comparing every single thing in their lives to everyone else. 

If you are one of these people, do us all a favor.  Please.

Knock it off.

Monday, June 27, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 28

Day 28 - Joy.

One word.  So simple.  It surrounds almost all of us every day, yet we see it so rarely. 

My subject here, a given.  This boy who is the age where he does everything completely.  He plays hard, he sleeps hard.  He runs as fast as he can every single time.  His world falls apart sometimes, of that he is certain.  And he loves with every ounce of his soul.

Simply put, I adore this age.

As parents, we get caught up in the challenges.  The difficulty that comes with chasing a 25 pound wrecking ball all the time.  The worry.  The fear.  The constant need for supervision. 

Take the time to just watch them be.  Look when you otherwise wouldn't.

See joy.
Swinging on the newly repaired swings for the first
time, his big sis in the background pushing him.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 27

Day 27 - Who you love.

Before you decide which picture to post, know that there is still a day for a picture of your family coming up on the challenge.  This one should be different.

I picked him, of course. 

The guy that I met 19 years ago sitting in uncomfortable desks in a high school classroom.  The guy who still, after all these years, puts up with me.  The guy who paints his little girls' nails and runs behind bikes that just lost their training wheels.  The guy who sings at the top of his lungs in the car with his children and reads them books before bed.  The guy who has always just loved me, no matter what.

I love him.

Even if he loves camping.

Lotion Girl

I don't honestly know why I thought about this story.  I have tried to shove it back into or get it out entirely of my mind before, exorcise it from my soul.  Pretend that I never saw it.

Some things just can't be unseen.

But I did.  And it's back.  And I'm sharing.

You. Are. Welcome.

When I was in college, I was so tremendously busy that I am frankly amazed at how much I got done.   In between everything else I did, I went to the gym religiously.  4 or 5 times a week. 

Sometimes I went with my roommate, more often I went alone on the way home from class or work.  The afternoon hours were the ones where you were most likely to encounter her, this lady of which I write today.

Lotion girl.

Those of you who went to college with me will remember her, I'm sure.  You don't easily forget someone like this.

I never saw her in the gym, or maybe I just never noticed her there.  There was, to be completely honest, absolutely nothing remarkable about her physically.  I probably did see her all the time on the machines, and never gave her more than a passing glance.  She was ordinary.

Inside the locker room, though, I saw her.

All of her.

All the time.

She was one of those people completely at ease with her nudity.  One with her body.  Comfortable letting it all hang out.  She'd itch and scratch and stretch.  She'd stroll to the bathrooms, to the showers, brush her hair and put her makeup back on naked.   No towel, no underwear.  Nothing. 

None of those things really caught me as weird though.  The thing I remember most vividly about her is the lotion. 

Oh, the lotion.

She had to apply lotion to every single square inch of her perpetually naked body.  It was not a quick process.
Even the places that you wouldn't think you really need to rub lotion on.

Oh yeah, those places.

Got the visual yet?  Okay good.

It seemed like it didn't matter what time I got to the locker room, or what day or the week it was, or the time of the year.  I always arrived just in time for the lotion application.

To apply the lotion, there was bending and leg raising and vigorous rubbing.  It was like a train knew you weren't supposed to watch.  That you were supposed to will your eyes away.  Look at something, anything else. 

It's hard though, when some girl's crotch is right there, getting greased up for the day's business.

In some ways, I admired her.  She clearly had no self image issues.  At all.  Proud of who she was.  Owned her flaws.  Didn't give a rat's ass what anyone else saw or thought. 

In others though, I wondered why.  Why are some people that way, when most of us aren't even remotely close to it?  Why do all the rest of us slide our swimsuits off only when the towel is securely wrapped around our chests?  Why do we hole up in the corner of the locker room and wait for the room to clear out before changing quickly? 

Why did she spend so much time naked?

How much money did she spend on lotion?

I can say with complete honesty that I've never showered in a community shower.  I have in the locker rooms with stalls and curtains, with hooks to hang towels.  Where there was at least an illusion of privacy.   

But the giant room full of shower heads and naked?  No thanks.  No one needs to see that.

And I promise that I never have and never will grease up my crotch in view of another person. 

Again, you are welcome.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 26

Day 26 - Something that makes you sad.

I didn't intend to do this to myself, honest.  I really didn't look at the calendar in June and decide that this day of the challenge should land on this weekend. 

Yet, here we are.

This picture is from the garage in my parents' house.  Dad poured a concrete extension for the washer and dryer when we first moved in.

It would only make sense that I share a piece of my history here today, just as that story is coming to an end.

A piece of me will forever be there.

The House that Built Me

It's probably better that I didn't know I was walking out of the house for the last time in February.  I figured, as did we all, that it would take longer for it to sell and close and be gone from our family.

I thought we had more time.

And, as I've been reminded yet again, life doesn't really care what your time frames are for anything.

The house is almost empty, the boxes packed.  All that is left, a few loose ends. 

Yesterday, Mom left for the last time.  Sometime this weekend, my brother will say goodbye.

Truth is, though, once Dad was gone it wasn't home anymore.

I knew when I left the last time to go back to help care for him at the end it wouldn't be home anymore.  I knew that I was getting on a plane, fully aware that it would be the last time I'd be going home.   I knew even then that it wouldn't feel the same without him.

Just a shell of what it once was.

This is the house that built me.

This is the house we found one afternoon, Dad and I.  I'm not even sure where Mom and Gary were, but Dad and I went looking.  We found this house.   At the time, it was painted brown.  The driveway was lumpy asphalt.  The yard overgrown.  The backyard was covered with bamboo.  The pool in desperate need of repair.  The kitchen all wrong.  The entire house carpeted with the stuff you put in an industrial building. 

We saw more than all that, the two of us.  I remember going back to the house we had at the time to tell Mom we'd found a new one.  I don't know who was more excited, Dad or I.  It had a pool.  It had a three car garage.  It had a deck.  It had a bedroom downstairs for Nana.  It was perfect, even if only in his eyes and mine.

It took a lot of work.  For a long time, Dad jokingly referred to it as the money pit.  Something always needed fixed.  It was a constant work in progress.   An almost 23 year long work in progress.

I haven't lived in that house for well over a decade, but it was always home.

It was always my center. 

I've found myself telling my brother, my mother, my husband, my kids that it is just a house now.  I've heard the same in return.  It's just a building with walls and a roof.  Everything that it once was, no more. 

My head knows these things.  My heart isn't so sure.

I think we are all trying to convince ourselves.

I wish that I could be there to take that last walk through the house with my brother.  I wish I was there with him for the ending of this chapter in our lives.  I wish he didn't have to do it without me.

It's the walking away that will be the hard part.

This song, one I heard for the first time the day after my Daddy died.  You really can't go home again.

Friday, June 24, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 25

Day 25 - Something that comforts you.

I know that some of you are going to think I'm crazy.

I'm okay with that, I guess.

For me, these past few years on the roller coaster that is my life have been made infinitely more manageable because I have this. 

This right here.

It's helped because I can write my thoughts and feelings and musing and ramblings in public and in private.  I write so many different places these days.

Writing is therapeutic.  It takes the thoughts running through my mind and releases them.  I can express my hopes and dreams, my fears and concerns.  I can tell you all as little or as much as I want and save the rest for just me. 

Today is one of those days in my life that will always stay with me.  A cathartic one.  Seems like there have been a lot of those lately.  Turning points, no going back. 

To all of your, my dear readers, my love.  You've helped me, even if you don't know it. 

Thank you for coming along for the ride.

Divine Intervention

Okay, so I was going to write about lotion girl.

She's gonna have to wait.

I've been suppressing that memory for well over a decade now anyway, and I'm not really in a hurry to be bringing it back to the surface.

Besides, I have to share something else.

Yesterday, I heard angels sing.   Really.  Then, not long after that, as I was literally thinking in my own head that if I ran into any one of a small handful of people, it would have to be fate intervening.

Or the big guy himself.

What happened, you might ask???

I got these.
Oh yes, I did.

But only because God really wanted me to have these shoes.

Let me explain.

I went to Target to get groceries and to troll the clearance shoes to get a pair for the boy.  Poor child, he has literally one pair of shoes that fits him right.  When his sisters were his age, they probably had more shoes than I did.  It's not right, I know. 

Seriously though, have you seen how freaking adorable little girl shoes are???

Anyway, I was there to look for shoes for AJ.  Really.

But I had the girls with me, and they were in the mood to shop.  They were content to dig through the piles of boxes on the end caps in hopes of finding something cheap and cute.  We didn't find anything in either of their sizes, much to their dismay.  It wasn't for lack of trying.

Then Ashley found these shoes.  Well, not these ones.  This shoe in a 6 1/2, which is not my size.  I immediately fell in love with them, which was fine because they weren't my size.   And they were completely impractical and unnecessary. 

Behind the last box on the last shelf of the last end cap, these.  Insert singing angels.

I tried them on and they fit perfectly.  I immediately took a picture and sent it to my husband, asking him if he thought these were worth the $20 splurge.  Sadly, I don't ever spend that much on shoes for myself. 

I know. 


He asked me if I needed them.  My response?  I don't think anyone needs aqua 5 inch wedge espadrilles.

He liked them, told me just to get them.

I put them in the cart, still on the fence.  I loved them, but I didn't need them.  Life these days is about needs, not wants almost all the time. 

I walked over to the purse section.  Shhhhh.  You know that you have to take a lap around the purse section every time you go there too, just in case something amazing is on clearance.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.

On my way to the purses, I decided that I'd wait on the shoes.  I'd put them back.   Unless I was supposed to take them home.  Unless I ran into a friend who'd talk me into them or something like that.  Unless God himself sent me a sign.

I turned the corner into the purse section and my friend was standing there, also there for the obligatory purse lap.   Of course she gushed and squealed over the shoes with me, insisted that I need them.  Told me I deserved to get something nice for myself.   When I told her I already had matching nail polish at home, that was the final straw.  I needed them.

It had to be a sign.

Clearly God loves me and wants me to be happy.  He wants me to have these shoes.

I can't argue with divine intervention.

And, oh, are they divine!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 24

Day 24 - Your Pet

Okay, so if you don't have a pet, you might have to get a little creative.  But I trust that you all have it in you.  :)

This is my boy, Jake. 

Or as he usually is referred to, Jakey.

I went to the pet store to get dog food for Maddie one day and came home with him.  I can't be trusted around adorable homeless animals.

He was less than a year old, had been relinquished by the prior owner, was a sweet boy with a lot of energy, but clearly skittish. 

He'd been abused.

Even now, almost 10 years into his current living arrangement, he still runs and hides when the broom comes out.  People suck.

He's an old man these days, hobbling around like Tom and I with arthritic joints.  He fits in with the rest of us all, he's got allergies and anxiety issues.  It took until he was at least 7 or so for him to mellow out.  He's what I like to call a tennis ball freak.  You've seen the commercial with the little dog, you know that one where the dog just keeps repeating throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball.

That's Jake.

Just bigger and fluffier.

Since we lost Maddie a little over a month ago, he's changed.  He's more attached to me.  He's more protective of the kids.  It's his house now, and we are his people.

I love this dog.

Little Pieces of Joy

I have this neighbor. 

I've written about him in the past.   Many of you already have heard stories about him.  Some of you even know the things I suspect of him.  They are not nice things.

He has a red Corvette.  That he likes to park sideways in his driveway to wash.  Because, you know, his front yard is really a penis compensation sports car showroom.

I hate Corvettes.

I hate Corvette season.  He can only drive it when the weather is good, and I look forward to freezing weather, snow and ice in part because it means that he has to put his precious baby away.

Months without listening to him revving the engine for no reason other than to assure the entire neighborhood that he does indeed suffer from insufficiencies in his personal life.  Months without the classic rock cranked up every time he sits in it.  He's the douche that turns his radio up and listens to the rest of the song after he comes home.  Months without the completely unnecessary trips around the streets here.  The guy is a fan of taking a lap.  Seriously.

Drives me nuts.

Not nearly as crazy as his obsessive compulsive lawn care habits drive me, though.  He cuts his grass like every other day, six different directions every time.  He waters incessantly.  Seeds his grass at least once a week.  He fluffs his mulch habitually.  He even trims the edges with scissors. 

I wish I was kidding.

He doesn't tolerate any ounce of imperfection in his yard.   Which makes living across the street from him so damn fun sometimes.

You see, my yard is not like his.  Many ounces of imperfection.  Many.

My grass has too shallow of a root system, and it doesn't get better no matter what we try.  It yellows.  We have crabgrass and weeds in the grass that grow faster than the grass does.  It seems like our mulch is always disappearing.  The mulch fairy comes and poofs it away.   I have a few bushes that desperately need trimmed, and one really ugly plant that just needs to go.  Thanks, Centex, by the way for the "free" ugly bush. 

We did landscape it all, put in concrete pathways.  The tree in the yard is now mature.  Rows of huge day lilies and roses.  It's nice enough.  But I'm sure it fails to meet his standards.  And he has to walk outside and admire our imperfection.

You know this humors me.

But not as much as what happened this week.

I bought a huge box of sidewalk chalk for the Relay last weekend.  We always have the back patio decorated this time of year, but for whatever reason never let it out of the backyard. 

The girls brought it out front a few days ago and drew all over our driveway and the sidewalk.  Tom was working on the sprinklers and they sprayed the chalk.  The kids mixed it up and turned it into a fabulous sidewalk paint.  Footprints and hand prints and even butt cheek prints as far as the eye could see. 

They even colored the street.   Gasp!!!!

My neighbor wandered outside at some point, made his angry disappointed face.  Stood in his driveway with his arms crossed.   He doesn't dare talk to my husband or I.  He won't even make eye contact.  For those who know the whole history, there is a damn good reason we don't talk to him.

We were defacing his neighborhood in a new way.  You could see it on his face.  I'm sure he contemplated bringing his own hose across the street and washing it off only about a million times. 

Rainbows and hand prints.  The newest weapons in my arsenal.  Mwahahaha.

I should have known that this was precisely the thing that would drive him more crazy that anything else ever has.  Little pieces of chalk being wielded by children.  His worst nightmare.

For me, little pieces of joy.

It rained and washed all the chalk art off the next day. 

The canvas is blank out there, again.  Pristine and untouched.  Just the way he likes it.

I think the driveway needs some color, don't you?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 23

Day 23 - Someone sleeping.

This isn't intended to be some creepy voyeuristic picture, though I'm sure in the twisted heads of some of my readers it will be.  You know who you are.  LOL

For all the rest of you, it's a chance to capture a body that is constantly in motion at rest.  The kids that you spend all day chasing, still.  The dogs that play and play and play in the dreamland of milk bones and jerky treats.   Those with constant worry and preoccupation in the conscious world at peace in the subconscious one.

My subject today, my baby.  The one who hardly slept last night between his headache and his mother's relentless waking efforts.  Tucked beneath him, mink.  His softest yellow blankie that once upon a time belonged to his big brother.  His sweaty little head resting on my lap. 

Here he is, still and quiet.  Shhhh.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 22

Day 22 - Action.

This is a great chance to get outside, find some bright light and use the sports setting on your camera.  It has a faster shutter speed, but requires more anything with lower light will probably come out blurry.

I have a few subjects here in my house who provide me chances to capture this every single day.

Up today, Ashley jumping.  Took the splint off this morning, and she's a happy girl.  It doesn't appear broken....which is good.  I cringe at the thought of keeping this one down.

Ye Intruders Beware


I've been watching too many pirate movies. 

In fact, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, World's End is on the TV right now. 

As an aside, if the powers that be at Disney want me to keep paying to see the movies in this series in the theater, they'd best be bringing back Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan.  Did not love the 4th movie.  At all.

Really, I've been watching too many movies.  I've been held hostage in my house for almost all the summer thus far, and I'm tired of it. 

Me thinks the pirate movies I be watchin' are rubbin' off on me.

Mostly I'm just feeling like I need to let my inner angry pirate out.

You know it's not a good thing when within seconds of meeting someone, you are hearing that line from The Goonies in your head.

Ye Intruders Beware

And yet I heard it.  Repeatedly.

But I was nice.  Like so nice that I deserve a medal.  Frankly, I am a little surprised that I even have it in me at this point in my life to be so nice.

Y'all know it's not like me to avoid conflict.  So, it's not that.   There isn't a bone in my body afraid of confrontation. 

I must have been feeling charitable.  That's the only logical explanation for it.

Thing is....I'm done with that.

So far past done.

There are things in my life too important to let them be taken over by negativity and whining.  Things too precious to my family to be intruded on by people who neither know nor care why we are doing them.  Things that will no longer be opened up to those people.

My boat.  My rules.

Intruders: let this be a warning to ye.

Get off my ship.

Summer is here, right?

That's what the calendar says anyway.

Summer solstice on schedule for late this morning.

I'm not entirely convinced though.  Ever since the kids got out of school, it's been a revolving door of illnesses and asthma attacks, concussions and injuries.

We've spent more time at the doctor than at the pool.  And that just seems wrong.

It's not like the weather has really cooperated anyway.  It hasn't been hot yet for more than a day or two at a time. 

Today, though, the pressure is on.  Summer's official arrival.

I read something a few weeks ago that made me giggle.  An article written by another mom about the ridiculous expectations that we all put on this season.  More than any other. 

It's not like we demand that Fall be awesome, that we squeeze all the activities we can into the Winter or save up for amazing Spring excursions.  Why, then, do we ask that of Summer?  Why do we set the bar so damn high?

It's a good question.

As for our family, there are no grand plans.  No vacations scheduled.  No expectations about anything for these months. 

I would like to, at least occasionally, have four healthy and intact children without broken bones, wheezy lungs or jiggly brains that I can take to the pool.

That's not asking too much, is it?

Monday, June 20, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 21

Day 21 - Capture your entire day in one picture.

Hard, huh?

I was going to have all the kids go out and play today to get some shots for this one, then Mother Nature decided to make it rain all morning.  I had to drive out to the airport, and the small child has been sleeping since. 

When the small child is sleeping, you let.him.sleep.

For reals.

So, since I had to come up with something for today, I am recycling a picture from late last year. 

This picture cracked me right up when I downloaded it.  I was fiddling with the settings on the camera and voila.  This. 

This is what life with AJ is like.  All day.  Every day. 

This Man I Love


He is my everything.

Happy Anniversary.

I love you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 20

Day 20 - The view from where you live.

Apologies for not getting this one up earlier.  I've been busy today, mostly due to my need to stay busy today.

I am trying not to think about what today is.

It's not working, but I have a fantastically clean shower and bathtub.

Here is the view from where I live.  The place I now call home.  I took this picture last Fall on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, along one of the ponds on the West side of town. 

It wasn't even the best the picture could have been since that cloud was masking the twin peaks that dominate the skyline here.

To be surrounded by so much beauty can at times be overwhelming. 

But then, today, everything is.

Much love to you all.

A Year of Firsts

Today is the first Father's Day without him. 

As with everything it seems these days, whatever comes is the first. 

The first time we have to go through it all without him.

People tell me that it will get better.  That someday days like today will come and go, and I will reflect and be momentarily stopped in my tracks, then I will pick myself up and go on with life.

My Dad and Aidan, 2001
They say that.

And I am sure that they are right.

It's just getting there.

I'm grateful for the chance to have been his only little girl.

I remember dancing with my feet on his back then, and all those years later beneath the shade of the trees on the afternoon of my wedding.

He walked me down the aisle that day.  Proud, but not quite ready to let me go.  About halfway down the aisle, he leaned in and whispered to me that I could turn around and run and he'd be perfectly okay with that.  I could change my mind, even then.

He taught me how to ride my bike, he taught me how to live.  He held me steady, then let me go.  He let me fall.  He taught me to get back up and try again.  That failure was a part of learning.  That he'd always be there when I fell.

He picked me up and dusted me off, set me back on my path in life more than once.  He was never disappointed by my shortcomings.  Never questioned my choices.  Never said I told you so when those choices ended up being bad ones.  He just wanted me to know that he was there, only ever a phone call or plane flight away, in case I needed him.

He was selfless in so many ways.  Never wanted to impose or intrude on anyone.  He didn't want attention, he didn't want accolades.  He was terrible at asking for help, he didn't want to need anyone.  He didn't want anyone sacrificing anything for him, even at the end.

He wouldn't want anyone to be sitting around missing him today.  He would not want any of us to be sad.  He'd want us to share this day with our children.  To get back up again, dust ourselves off and get busy living. 

I'll go do that now.

I miss you, Daddy.

Happy Father's Day.

If Roses grow in Heaven, Lord,
please pick a bunch for me,
Place them in my Daddy's arms
and tell him they're from me.

Tell him, I love him and I miss him,
and when he turns to smile,
place a kiss upon his cheek
and hold him for awhile.

Remembering him is easy,
I do it every day,
but there's an ache within my heart
that will never go away 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 19

Day 19 - A Close Up Shot.

For this one, I knew right away what I'd pick. 

Since the day of this photo falls on Father's Day, there wasn't really any other choice. 

This is the ring my father gave me on my 15th birthday. 

I've worn it a lot off and on in the years since then, and every single day since he was diagnosed.

It's a simple ring.  I remember seeing something like it and telling him that I thought it was pretty.  He remembered. 
It's just something an amazing man bought one day for his little girl who wasn't so much a little girl anymore.

I miss you, Daddy.  Happy Father's Day.

Tired & Thankful

I'm tired, but it's a good tired.

We just got back from the Relay.

Many people came out, many more were there in spirit.

We surpassed our fundraising goal.

I'll write more later and share some pictures after I get them uploaded.

First though, a tiny tired ballerina has her first class.

Then, naps all around.

Thank you all for your time, your donations, your endless support.

Much love.

Friday, June 17, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 18

Day 18 - Water, in some form.

I had grand plans for this one.  Really, I did.  Then my kids had to tag team with their concussion and asthma flare-up to keep me largely captive in my own home. 

Oh well. 

Between all that stuff going on and getting ready for the Relay, I don't have a whole bunch of time to do something cool.  This is as good as it gets.  I know that you all can do better.

This Thing I Must Do

For a few months now, I've been dreading today.

Last year there was a lot of excitement and anticipation leading to the Relay for Life.  There was diligent planning and recruitment and fundraising. 

Last year, even though Dad had just received news that the cancer had spread to his liver the week before the Relay, there was still hope.

There was still a chance. 

By then, a minute one.  But it was still there.

Back then, we could hope that he was the less than 5% that would make it out five years.  We could hope that they were wrong.  We could hope that he'd one day be the guy who fought it into remission. 

Though it was small and dwindling with every scan, we still had a little hope.

I was never delusional.  I knew what was wrong with him before the final diagnosis came down.  Once you've been through cancer before, you know what it means when doctors start acting quickly and calling on weekends.  I knew what his chances were.  I knew how long he'd probably have.  I knew that any treatments he went through weren't going to save him.  I didn't hang on to that tiny piece of hope and live in denial.

I lived in the moment.

I had to. 

I did the Relay last year for him.  I did it for symbolic reasons.  I knew that any money we raised was never going to help him, but I knew also that the entirety of it would lift his spirits.  And that was more than enough reason to do it.

Still, it was hard last year.

That first lap for my husband, the survivor, seemed triumphant. 

The lap at sunset, with the names of those sick and gone filling the air, candles lighting up the sky, seemed far less a victory.

I knew that the battle Dad was fighting was one that he would lose. 

And he did. 

But not without putting up one hell of a fight.

Today is still for him, but it's different now.  I'm different now. 

Tonight is a bridge I have to cross, and I know that it's going to hurt like hell. 

This thing I must do.

If you're local, please come on out and join us.  Most of the ceremonies are from 6-9pm tonight at Roosevelt Park.   If you're not, do me a favor at sunset tonight and say a prayer for my Daddy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 17

Day 17 - The sky.

Since I've been largely captive in my house this week because of the boy with the jiggly concussion brain, I haven't had a chance to take many pictures.  The sky might have been great for this today with the thunderstorms, but I didn't get out there.  Oh well.

I'm reusing a few from about this time last year.

The sky here in Colorado is breathtaking.  No matter the season, it's always pretty to look at.  Whether it's the glitter falling from the heavens in the winter, the angry heaving darkness of spring, the soft white puffy clouds of summer or the windblown streaks of fall, it is always beautiful.

This picture was taken on a typical summer day, looking east from my backyard. 

We are almost always on the edge of the scary storms here, but close enough to see them forming in the distance.  Timed right, they make for fantastic light shows on summer nights. 

This is what the sky looks like from beneath a storm, just before the thunder urges the rains to come.

A Strange Birthday Request

My brother's birthday is today.

I'll spare you all the singing. 

He's not really a sentimental type. 

Which is good right now.  I don't have it in me to be sentimental about anything else right now.

Though he recently started following me on Facebook, he still claims he doesn't read this.  I have a sneaking suspicion that he might today though. 

Mental note: This shouldn't suck.

A few years ago, I asked him what he wanted and he said what he always says.  Nothing. 

Which is true, I guess.  He's reached the point in his life where he doesn't hold out for things he really wants or needs from other people. 

But I don't like answers like that.  I always feel compelled to get him something for his birthday.  So after me bugging the crap out of him all those years ago, he finally gave me an answer. 

He wanted a can of spray cheese, 15 red balloons and a pony.

For those of you who wonder why I am the way I am, there you go. 

You know he got a box in the mail with a can of spray cheese, 15 red balloons and a pony, right?

This year, he gave his typical response that he wanted nothing for his birthday.  In my typical fashion, I refused to accept his response. 

Finally, this is what he asked for this year:

A naked picture of Bea Arthur. 

And no, I'm not kidding. 

Turns out that Bea Arthur wasn't nearly as risque as her co-star.  Betty White did indeed take nude pin-up photos, which you can see here if you are interested.  Don't worry, they are really old.  Which is good, because she is really naked.  Ha ha ha.

This is as close as I can get to a naked Bea Arthur.  Painted by an artist named John Currin, this is what he envisions she would have looked like nude.  He clearly envisioned her having a great rack.   I'm not posting the entire picture here, but you could Google it if you're so inclined.

Happy Birthday, Gary.  Don't say I never gave you anything.


To everyone deepest and most profound apologies.
Bea Arthur (1991), John Currin, cropped

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 16

Day 16 - Hands

Most of you have probably noticed the picture I have on the side of the blog here.  That one was taken at just about exactly this time last year.

Oh, how life has changed since then.

Then, we were doing it as a long distance shout out to my father a few days before the Relay.  United with him in his fight.  Strong.  Courageous. 

Today, this is a much harder picture to take.

I'd like to believe that I'm still strong.  I know that he was until his last breath. 

These four little hands need me to be. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 15

Day 15 - Something about yourself that you wish you could change.

Me and my self-deprecation love challenges like this.  Oh, the list of things I would change is long. 

Some of them are things that I may be able to alter slightly through diligence and attention, through discipline and effort.  Some of them are things that I probably can't change, no matter what I do.  And then there are the rest.  The things that aren't changing no matter what.

Those are the ones I wish I could change the most, probably for the simple fact that I know I'll never be able to.

Don't misunderstand me though.  I have very few self image issues.  I'm far from perfect, but embraced who I am a long time ago. 

Who I am isn't defined by my dress size any more than my shoe size. 

With time I also realized that though we may go to great lengths to attempt to change our hair, almost everyone looks the best with it the color and texture it's intended to be. 

I'm a real person.  With acne and moles and stretch marks.  With blemishes and imperfections.  This body is far from perfect, but it's perfect for me.  It's created and nourished four living, breathing human beings.  I think that's worth overlooking the flaws for.

There is one thing that interferes with my life more than anything else physically though, and it's my vision.  I'm practically blind, have been for as long as I can remember.  I can't even see the alarm clock. 

I wear my contacts far more often than I should because I have psychological issues with wearing my glasses.  If there is such a thing as junior high four eyed post traumatic stress, I suffer from it.  This is probably as close as any of you will ever get to seeing me in glasses.

Even if there ever came a time in my life that I could afford it, I am not a good candidate for laser eye surgery. 

Blind, I apparently will stay.


The Social Experiment

There really is no other title for this one. 

Facebook is more than just a social networking website.  So.much.more.

It's a huge social experiment.

For me, it's been a way to share my writing with more people.  It's been a way to reconnect with long lost friends from my youth.  It's been a way for family members to stay in contact easily across the country.  It's been a way for me to share pictures of my kids with the friends and family who live far away.

It's a soapbox for my rants.  It's a sounding board for my frustrations.  It's a way for us to commiserate with each other about this strange adventure of life we are all on. 

People announce their new relationships, their engagements, their marriages, their breakups, their divorces.

People share the news of babies on the way, people console one another over the loss of a child.

People celebrate their graduations and their career successes, ponder what it all means when that job disappears. 

People you wish could stay in your past reappear.  People you don't need to stay in touch with want to be friends.  Suddenly one new added friend changes everything about your online life. 

It's made finding that missing friend easier, but it's also made finding that past flame easier too.  It's made it easier to cheat, and I've seen what it can help do to a marriage.  There are those who blame Facebook for the downfall of those relationships, but that's a fallacy.  The relationship was broken already if someone sought out something from someone in their past.  Facebook just made it simpler.

People can easily misinterpret status updates, things can be taken out of context.  There is no subtlety or nuance in the online world.  Some may know your sarcasm and wit, others may take everything you say at face value. 

People can stalk your profile, find out who you are friends with.

Some people can be holdouts, refusing to join the network.  They do it for different reasons, but I'm always a bit amused at them.  For a long time, I was one of them.  I didn't want to get on Facebook.  These days, though, it's more a statement of noncompliance than anything else.  Which is fine, but exclude yourself with the understanding that most people aren't going to go out of their way to contact you with all the same information, pictures, updates and questions if it's harder to get to you since you aren't there.  Facebook makes all that easier.  Maybe almost too easy.

For me, I found myself using Facebook in deliberate ways when my father was ill.  We had to withhold the news of his passing for many hours until my husband could get all the kids from school and deliver the news in person.  We couldn't chance someone saying something.  Too many people may have.

I found the existence of Facebook to be both a comfort and a great source of uneasiness in those days and weeks.  It felt strange to be sharing something so deeply personal with the world.  It was certainly an inner struggle.  I wrote this only a few days before he died.

A new trend I've seen is the combination profile, the couple that merges their profile.  It's ironic that just yesterday, only minutes after I decided to write about this today, a friend there did just that.   Some people think it's cute and sweet, that it shows unity to the world.   They are a team.  What you say to one, you must be willing to say to the other.  Or about them.  Or whatever.

I think it is weird, like so many other things about Facebook in general.  No one is ever equally friends with both members of a couple.  No individual in a couple is ever friends with everyone the other is.  No matter how much they both have in common, they are not and never will be the same person.  I don't understand. To me, all it says is that one of them doesn't trust the other one to be an individual floating around cyberspace.   

Someday, this social experiment that most of us are a part of will be studied in history classes.  I would venture to say that it is a turning point in technology's impact on humanity.   There is no going back to the world we lived in before it existed. 

I've witnessed it reunite more relationships than it's destroyed.  In my life, it's done far more good than bad.  I can only hope that balance doesn't shift. 

Only time will tell where this experiment leads us all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 14

Day 14 - Everything currently in your purse and/or pockets.

Lucky for you guys, I cleaned out my purse sometime last week.  This pile would be a whole lot bigger.  And it would include no fewer than a handful of receipts, 6 silly bands and 2 dinosaurs.

Notably absent from this pile are three things that are with me at all times:
1. cell phone, used to take the picture
2. keys, only in my purse if I'm out somewhere
3. inhaler, on my counter because I just needed it

In my pile, in no particular order:
- wallet
- checkbook
- hairbrush with two ponytailers
- package of baby wipes
- 2 pens, one black, one blue (this is not accidental, trust me)
- my coupon organizer
- my backup sunglasses that I despise and only wear if I forget the good ones
- lip gloss
- a Spiderman comb (does everyone not have one of these?)
- brochures to tourist sites locally that I picked up while waiting at the airport last week
- coupons to Kohls and JCPenney
- an appointment reminder card for AJ's preschool check-up

 Are you brave enough to take this picture?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 13

Day 13 - Something that drives you crazy.

This is one of those things about my kids that makes me nuts.  I love organization and places for things.  I secretly long for a labeler. 

To some degree I have to let go of my control freak tendencies and let the kids have their own systems of organization.  Aidan's LEGO system is one that I don't pretend to understand, but it makes sense to him. 

And then there is Ashley.  She likes stuff.  A lot of stuff.  And she really has no desire to organize it at all.

This is her desk.  Well, underneath this mess somewhere is her desk.  I know it's under there somewhere.  Really.

It Doesn't Matter

I've got a lot to do in the next week or so, and I'm already tired.

The Relay for Life is coming up this next Friday and Saturday. 

I'm doing it because I am supposed to.  Because I should.  Because the kids want to.  Because it is the right thing to do. 

I'm doing it.  Even if my heart isn't in it this time around.

I'm not looking forward to it this year. 

Last year, the bags that lit up the night at sunset were there in support of my father's fight. 

This time, they will be there in his memory.

And there is nothing that will ever make that better.

It doesn't matter how much money we raise.  It doesn't matter how much support we an garner for this worthy cause.  It doesn't matter how well we plan and organize it.

None of that is bringing him back.

Maybe we can help someone else now.

I'm sure it isn't just coincidence that this event is always held on Father's Day weekend.  I'm sure that it was chosen intentionally.  I'm sure that it will stay that way. 

And I'm sure that I will forever greet this event and this weekend with hesitation.  However organized and planned and excited I  may be someday again about this magnificent event, it will never be the same. 

I will walk this time, even if it hurts.

I will walk this time, carrying his memories in my heart. 

I will walk this time, knowing that it will take all of my being just to get there.

But I will do it. 

And when the nighttime sky fills with the glow of the luminarias, illuminated this time in the memory of the man I called Daddy, I will cry.

If you are interested in learning more about this event, please click here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 12

Day 12 - An item that you can't live without.

For me, this one is easy.  Even the kids know that mommy needs this to function.  I apoligize for re-using a picture...but it's the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful Saturday and I've already had a few glasses of sangria.  ;)

My Challenge ~ Are YOU Game?

I'm not sure why, really.

I don't know where this idea came from.

But I am in the middle of my own 30 day challenge.  In addition to the NaBloPoMo thing that I didn't really need to commit to since I already write every day and the 30 Day Photography Challenge.  Apparently, I need more things to commit to. 

It's no great mystery that I define myself as a mother more than anything else.  I write, but at least as of yet, it's not what I would consider a "job".  I hope it will be one day, and I'm working on it.  For now, at least, there aren't meetings and appointments and other job-related things about it.  Someday I hope.

I can write (and parent) from the comfort of my home, I can wear my pajamas longer than functional adults should.  And I take advantage of that too often.

I don't dress up hardly ever anymore.  I used to, even when I wasn't working.  I used to have cute outfits and do my hair.  It's so rare now that the kids ask me where I'm going if I'm wearing anything fancier than capris and flip flops. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that, honestly.  Comfort is a good thing.

While I do wear makeup every day to conceal my atrocious skin, I don't generally wear more than tinted moisturizer and maybe some eyeshadow. 

At the beginning of this photo challenge, I had to take a self portrait.  Nothing like that to make a person self conscious, right?

So I put on makeup.  The real stuff.  And I even busted out my eyeliner and mascara.  Glamour Shots time.

You know what happened?

My husband came home from work and paid me a compliment.  Like, a real one.  My daughters said that when they grow up they want to have pretty eyes like me.  Aidan wanted to know where my eyelashes came from (honey, it's just an eyelash curler and mascara....not the reinvention of the wheel).

And I felt beautiful.  Just a few minutes of effort was all it took.

I wondered aloud why I don't do it more often.  Make a conscious effort to fancy myself up, pick a flattering outfit, all that.  I knew I was only doing it for the picture, but that seemed silly.

So, every day since then, I've put on eyeliner.  I may have still lounged around in my jammies for longer than I should.  I may not have dressed up.  I may not have worn shoes more exciting than flip flops.  But I've put in a few minutes of effort, and even if no one else noticed, I did.

As silly as it may sound, I'm doing this for me. 

What small thing can you do every day for yourself?  Are you willing to take on that challenge?

Friday, June 10, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 11

Day 11 - Something that you made with your own hands.

This one is tricky for me, and I'm not exactly sure why I put it in here.  You see, I'm not a very artistic person.  I took art classes in high school and liked it, the teacher even said I was decent, but I am a born perfectionist.  Perfectionists make terrible artists.  Nothing I could ever create was good enough for me. 

I love photography, and I guess to some degree that is an art form all in itself.  Photography, though, is about how you see things, how you view them, capturing and manipulating that image.  It's not per se about creating anything.

I was initially going to put in one of the things I've painted at those pottery painting places, but even those aren't impressive enough for me to showcase.

Then I thought of this. 

Cooking and baking is where I really do my best work.  I start from simple ingredients and combine them in intricate combinations, I use time and patience.  It took me years, even decades, to refine this art.  And I have to say that I'm pretty damn good at it. 

I love to cook and bake for people. It's my stress reliever and my way of showing love and affection.  If I really like you, I'll even bust out my no-holds-barred best dinner feast ever. 

A few of you are lucky enough to know what I'm talking about.

Here's one of my most recent creations, chicken piccata.  The recipe can be found here if you are interested.  And it really is as good as it looks. 

Post 1000 - Weiners, Wieners and Wives

Drum roll please.........

Here you have it, post number 1000. 

Technically, there are a few more, but I pulled some of them for my book proposal.  So, here is the 1000th published post. 

I thought I'd be more sentimental about it, but not really.

Guess I'm just distracted with other stuff. 

And, for the record, I think I am just going to despise the 10th day of the month from here on out.  All of them.  Just so you know.

Anyhow, I tried to ignore the news story about the Congressman and his wiener.  Really, I did.  But ignoring it's a little hard.  No pun intended.

The media is covering it almost constantly, which is legitimate given the fact that it seems like some new picture or allegation or development comes popping up daily.  No pun intended.

In case you've been under a rock, or are one of those people who actually is telling the truth when you say you don't watch TV, a U.S. Congressman from New York has been emailing and Tweeting pictures of his dangly parts to more than a few shady lady friends.  At first he claimed his account had been hacked and the pictures weren't of him, but he quickly realized that lie had no girth to it and had fallen flaccid.  Okay, so at this point, you all know the puns are intended.

He fessed up, after being outed for his weirdness, really only after it became apparent that there were far more women involved and far more pictures floating around there than it seemed like there were initially.  The whole I'm not actually sorry for my freak tendencies, I'm just sorry I got caught type of admission.

The whole story is just gross.  What is it with guys in positions of power and influence who think, even in this day and age, that they can get away with shit like this?  Maybe for short periods of time with discreet affairs with loyal people and good lookouts.  Maybe.  But as any parent of a teenager has warned their children, you can't just go putting pictures of your junk online and think it won't come back to haunt you. 


So he's smarmy and icky.  Do I necessarily think he should resign?  I don't think so.  His desire to share his penis pictures with other people (all consenting adults here)  really has nothing to do with the leadership abilities he was elected for.   But this is a country of prudes, and we like our politicians to be buttoned up and proper. 

And when they do unspeakable things to innocent cigars, we attempt to impeach them. 

Also stupid. 

Anyone who honestly believes that men in positions of power and influence can all ever be proper and upstanding members of society without taking advantage of that power and influence for sexual purposes is naive.  Some of them can, sure.   But never all of them.

History tells us that this isn't something that just started happening.  History also tells us that punishing this bad behavior isn't going to stop it.  The only thing that is really different now is the online universe, the immediate availability of information, and the staying power of having a picture of your wiener floating around cyberspace.  That picture is never going away, people.   Never. 

So, we as a society, have to decide whether we can overlook his indiscretions and let him keep the job that he is allegedly quite good at.  Not being his constituent, I really knew nothing about the guy before last week, so I can't speak to that personally.  He does seem to have a lot of those people he serves rallying behind him though.  And aren't they the ones that should decide if they want him to stay their representative?  

Should this even be as big a deal as it is?  

I guess my argument is that it shouldn't. 

There is a part of the story far more intriguing in my mind though, and it really isn't about Weiner and his wiener.  It's about his wife.  His gorgeous, intelligent, and pregnant wife.  Huma Abedin.   

What would you do if you were her right now?  What would I do? 

Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine standing by him.  I can't imagine being humiliated in such a public way and putting it past me.  I can't imagine sharing my bed with him ever again, with a fuller view of who he really is.  I can't imagine ever holding his hand or standing beside him in public again, knowing the thoughts running through everyone else's minds.  I can't imagine trying to have a normal marriage ever again.

It's not like her boss is the best woman to turn to for advice in this department. Or maybe she is.  Hillary Clinton stayed with Bill through all his sexual indiscretions, kept a straight face and said nothing.   Maybe Hilary really is the good wife.  She's been criticized now for decades for her loyalty to her cheating husband.   

I'm not sure that those criticisms are fair, though.  Maybe Hillary, and all the other women who stay, do it for reasons that those of us who've never been in that place can understand.  They must.  There has to be some reason.  There has to be.

Until you've been there, I guess you really have no idea what you would do either. 

It's one thing to hypothesize, to assume what your choices would be, to entertain the what-ifs.  It's another to be there.

I don't envy that place that she is in. 

I wish her peace with her decisions, whatever they may be.  And I wish her luck.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 10

Day 10 - Imagination

I have to cheat on this one today since the kids are all off at the zoo.  I knew immediately which picture I'd use for this topic. 

In the last 10 years, I've lived with space rangers and superheroes, princesses and pop stars.  I've had tiny presidents and athletes, ballerinas and gourmet chefs under my roof.  I've seen firefighters and Jedi's, teachers and doctors running through the halls. 

Kids still live in the world of possibility.  They can be anything and everything they dream.  We should all take a cue from them occasionally.

Go ahead and twirl.

Should Children Attend Funerals?

I came across a new site online yesterday, and one of the questions posed there pertained to this subject.  Should children be permitted to attend funerals?

Here is my take on it, one that I've found myself defending from time to time. 

Death is a part of life, an inevitable guarantee.  It isn't something that you can shield kids from forever, it is something they will have to encounter.  I believe it is better to be honest, to be up front, to give them to opportunity to decide rather than make that choice for them.  Death should not be feared, it should not be scary.  It should not be hidden. 

Sometimes, death is a welcome relief from suffering.

This is a topic close to my heart, one that I had to confront head on only a few months ago. 

In February, I lost my father to cancer.  He'd been sick a year and a half.  I returned home for the last month of his life to care  for him, in another state, away from my husband and children. 

From the beginning, my husband and I were on the same page with my father's illness.  He was diagnosed stage 4, terminal, from the beginning.  We knew where the path he was walking would lead him eventually. 

Dad was offered, and accepted, treatments intended to buy him time and to reduce his pain.  I'm not entirely convinced that the second goal there was ever really reached, but I never once questioned my father's choices to go through the treatments.  I was unyieldingly supportive.

When I had to get on an airplane in a hurry last year because he was in respiratory distress, I left not knowing if my children would ever see him again.  Frankly, I wasn't sure I would make it in time.  At that time, I sat my oldest down and told him the truth.  That Grandpa was very sick, that he was having trouble breathing, that he may not make it.  He may die.  My son, 8 at the time, understood. 

I didn't tell the other kids that he was terminal then, though I did tell my oldest. 

Dad pulled through, I helped him get out of the hospital and settled at home, then I came back. 

We made enough trips to see him in that year and a half that the kids could see him declining.  They saw him losing weight, they saw his hair falling out.  They saw him get weaker, they saw him unable to eat.  They knew, on some level, what was happening.  We'd told them he was sick, we'd used the word cancer.  They knew the medications to treat the cancer would make him sicker.  They knew he was in pain.

We made one last trip out there with the kids to see him.  Dad wanted everyone home for Christmas, and we got there.   He was still going through chemo then, and had one last treatment the day before we left.  He got word that day that it wasn't working.

We didn't tell the kids until we got back what was happening.  The cancer was worse, the medicine wasn't working anymore and Grandpa was stopping chemo.  I was back only two weeks before I was back on a plane out there to help him at home when he was placed on hospice. 

Before I left that last time, we sat the kids down and told them.  I was going back to help Grandpa.  His body was tired, he was in pain, and he was going to die.

Three weeks later, he was gone.  My husband had to deliver that news without me.  He had to get all the kids on a plane and fly to California alone.  And he did it.  When I stood at the bottom of the escalator that afternoon and they came around the corner, all my children suddenly seemed so much older.

We never intended to shield them from the services.  Whatever they wanted to be present for, they would be allowed to be.  I think everyone was shocked when the older three stood up at the rosary.  One by one, they shared their memories of Grandpa.  Said goodbye in their own way.  My heart swelled with pride and sorrow all at once.  As hard as it was to see them up there, it helped me to see that they were supposed to be there.  They were supposed to be a part of this.  We had done the right thing.

The next morning, they each placed a rose next to Dad's ashes at the funeral.  They sat next to their cousin, almost one year old, through the service.  My babies, who were 2, 5, 7 and 9 at the time, were all there.  Different ages, different levels of understanding, different relationships with their grandfather, but all there. 

My father and my children, August 2010
They knew immediately that Grandpa was in heaven.  He wasn't in pain anymore.  He didn't hurt anymore.  He would be with them forever in their hearts and minds.  Of these things, they were certain.  These certainties provided comfort to them then, still do now. 

Knowing that my father was ill and that he would eventually succumb to this disease gave us the chance to anticipate the stages of grief with the children.  We arranged for the older three to speak with a counselor when he was ill, when I was gone, and after his death. 

They've been a part of this family process from the beginning.  They owned it.  They have had time to deal with it in their own individual ways. 

Have we made the right decision?  I hope so.  I think so.  As parents, we can only ever do what we think is best at the time and hope that we made the right call.   That is all my father ever would have asked.

Miss you, Dad.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 9

Day 9 - Play

This one is going to take a little thought and planning.  I'm excited to see what you all come up with!

The subject of my picture?  My youngest of course.  The boy never stops moving. Ever. 

This is him, mid-flip on the couch.  Because, well...isn't that what couches are really for?

Note the purple knees....the marker hasn't all rubbed off yet. 

Surviving June

So what if it's June?

So what if I refuse to glance at my calendar?

So what if I've failed miserably at preparing for the Relay for Life this year and it's in a week?

So what if I've been in a bad mood for well over a week now?

So what?

I hit a milestone of sorts, last week.  I went to the store and walked past the card aisle.  I needed a birthday card and a baby girl card and I successfully retrieved the desired cards from the rows without dissolving into a puddle. 

Of course, I didn't even look at the other side of the aisle.  Willed my eyes away from it. 

I'm guessing Tom isn't getting a Father's Day card this year.  If his Dad gets one this year, he should cherish it forever since it will be the one time his son will be responsible for the purchase.   I avoid the card section as much as possible these days.

My brother's birthday lands right in the middle of it all, thankfully he is good with a phone call.  Not a card guy.  I should ask him what he wants.  A few years ago, he told me he wanted red balloons, a pony and a bottle of spray cheese.  You know I sent that to him.  That, I can do.  Cards, not so much.

I had an article published this week and got some amazing feedback on it.  But then I started getting comments on other things I've written too.  People who haven't read all that I wrote about my father in the days after he died.

People who related to what I wrote, shared their experiences, told me how this would be the first year without their father too, not sure how they will get through it either.  Or how it's been twenty or thirty years and it still hurts like hell.

I'm supposed to be strong and sturdy and stoic.  And all that.

And then I find myself walking out of the dentist's office and dialing his number to give him the latest updates on the kids. 

I can't believe I still do that.

There are times that it just still seems unreal.  That he's still here and he's healthy and fine, and he's just not in the mood to talk on the phone today.  He's just busy.  The times that I talk to someone and slip and say things like "mom and dad" before I realize what just snuck out of my mouth.  The times I look at pictures that aren't even from that long ago and imagine he's still here with us now. 

Then reality slaps me across the face and I remember that everything is different now. 

I have to figure out how to walk out of a dentist's office without needing to call him.  I need to stop my subconscious mind from thinking about him like he's still here.  I have to, at some point, stop being startled when I see his car sitting in my driveway. 

I have to.  Eventually.  But I know it's not happening today, or anytime this month.

I feel bad because my husband is the one who will get ripped off.  Father's Day is going to suck for him this year.  I know this in advance.  I'm sure he does as well.  I'm going to be a mess, he just might too.  My dad dying hit him hard.  Harder than I expected it would, and probably far more than I've even been able to see since I've been busy with my own issues. 

Grief is an isolating thing. 

At least for me it is.    I want to be left alone to do my crying and thinking.   Sometimes I am just angry and I know that it's probably better for me to avoid dealing with everyone else.  I don't find much good comes from talking about it with anyone, except for the times I look for reassurance that it won't always be this hard.  It won't, so they say. 

I hope they are right. 

I'm just surviving June this time around.

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