A year ago yesterday my grandmother passed away. A week before Christmas Eve. And suddenly the busiest, happiest time of the year seemed sad and cold. We gathered as a family and shared memories, but it wasn't the same. And at the time it seemed so difficult...
But I think... no, I'm sure... I would go through losing a grandmother every year at Christmas time - knowing she lived a long 73 years filled with memories and experiences and grandchildren... laughter and fun and well... LIFE, over ever having to watch someone lose their child. At Christmas time or any other time.
My heart has been heavy the past several days. It aches for the children who had to witness horrible, horrible things... for the children whose lives were cut so incredibly short... for the parents who sent their children to school that day knowing the were safe because that's what they were supposed to be, and instead coming back to school to pick up children who will likely be broken for years... or to find that there child is no longer alive. As a teacher I've cried for the children in those classrooms... as a human I've cried for humanity.
It's awful to think that anyone could ever do something as awful as this.
And yet, here we are...
There simply are no words to say that could adequately express how sorry I am for those whose lives are changed forever.
We made this costume ourselves -- Tutu was made with green tulle and a yellow ribbon (SO simple!) and Bodysuit with a red leotard -- the R and buttons were made with felt and hand stitched on. She also had a yellow cape to go with the costume :)
I've taken many photos of my cousins over the years but I think this one is my favorite! First, we were at the beach last month for the first time all together. Second, We were simply having fun. Living life in each moment and not worrying about anything else - which is exactly what one should do at the beach! I love the expressions, the goofiness - how the picture sums up each personality perfectly. I love that we're all a part of each others lives!
*I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever. A vision of the universe that tells us, undeniably, how tiny and insignificant, and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves. That we are not... that none of us... are alone.*
I don't put pictures of me on here often, but today I thought I would...
So there I was yesterday, enjoying my hammock for the first time this summer, when suddenly I was attacked by two of my favorite kiddos ever. It's a good thing I love them so much. Even better that I get to send them home with their mom and dad when I'm finished loving on them! :)
And Cupcakes I made for my cousin Laura's graduation party :)
** The swirl cupcakes were made using three different icing bags. Insert different colored icing into two bags and flatten, cut ends off and then drop them into the third bag (this bag has the tip on it - I used Wilton 1m tip). Squeeze until both colors come out together... takes a small bit of effort sometimes and then ice as normal :)
** Decorations for the other cupcakes were made using wilton white fondant dyed with gel dye. I just winged those so I don't really have directions for them, but they were pretty simple!
"A new baby is like the beginning of all things - wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities."
-- Edna J. Leshan --
I planned a baby shower for my best friend and yesterday we gathered to celebrate the upcoming arrival of 'Baby J'. We don't know what she's having so the theme of the shower was "What's it gonna Bee?" I had so much fun decorating and making the cupcakes and planning and am so excited to meet this new little one in just a few short weeks :)
*Point is, what's so wonderful is that every one of these flowers has a specific relationship with the insect that pollinates it. There's a certain orchid that looks exactly like a certain insect so the insect is drawn to this flower - it's double... it's soul mate, and wants nothing more than to make love to it, thus pollinating it. And neither the flower nor the insect will ever understand the significance of their lovemaking. I mean, how could they know that because of their little dance, the world lives? But it does. By simply doing what they're designed to do, something large and magnificient happens. In this sense they show us how to live. How the only barometer you have is your heart. How when you spot your flower, you can't let anything get in your way.*
Copyright 2012. Chipmunk chilling in the backyard.
All Rights Reserved.
*Be confident. Too many days are spent comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren't. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are - and aren't - that you will truly succeed.*
"Ain't no rhyme or reason, no complicated meaning,
Ain't no need to overthink it,
let go laughin'.
Life don't go quite like you planned it,
we try so hard to understand it.
Irrefutable, indisputable fact is....
-- Sugarland --
Spring has sprung and once again I'm far behind on keeping up with things. It's been beautiful the past few weeks and I've simply enjoyed watching the seasons change (or rather, not really since we never had much of a winter).
March 14th marked one year since my melanoma diagnosis... I think if I've learned one thing in the past year, it would be that life is pretty darn amazing. Even when it's not going exactly the way you want it to... even when it seems like things aren't ever gonna go your way, even then, it's worth it. All of it!
One day you'll watch the seasons change, feel the sunshine on your face, the breeze against your skin and you'll remember how lucky you are. I get those feelings a lot more now than I ever did before and I'm so grateful for the chance.
Well, but technically this photo is from day Sixty-Five :P We've had some wild weather over the past week -- 72 degrees and tornadoes last friday, 30 degrees and 5 inches of snow Sunday night and monday, 70 degrees and brightly sunny tuesday! Kentucky has the most bipolar weather...
Anyway, without further ado... it's...
... and the most we've had in FOREVER!
Copyright 2012. Lexington, Ky - March 5, 2012.
*I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas; It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened.*
There are no words to adequately describe the awful storms that passed through parts of Indiana and Kentucky yesterday. Those of us living in the city of Lexington were fortunate - the storms passed us by without event... other's weren't so lucky.
My thoughts and prayers are with those in our neighboring communities -- especially those in Henryville and Marysville Indiana... in West Liberty, Kentucky (pictured below) and in the other small counties (Laurel, Magoffin, Menifee, Saylersville)... may you find the strength to pick up the pieces and move on with your lives.
Image Credit: WKYT News - Kentucky
West Liberty Kentucky, March 3, 2012.
*I"m safe in the eye of the storm.
Mercy and faith keep me warm.
All the dreams I've seen tattered and torn,
just when I think I can take anymore...
You give me shelter, and never will I be alone.
Hold me closer and help me to find my way home.
Cause it's a long road through the darkest of nights,
This year is so... odd. It doesn't seem like winter, and yet... not spring. It's not fall or summer either, just, odd. I would welcome snow right now and I wish away the strange January tornadoes. The thermometer reads 40 degrees but the wind is so bitter it feels much colder than any 40 I've felt before. The sun shines sometimes and warms things to comfortable, but then other days it's gray and cold and yet... the ground remains a mushy brown instead of what would be a comforting white.
We packed up Christmas late this year. I put away my tree just last night and a part of me wanted to leave it forever. There's something about losing someone you love that makes you want to hold on to these times a little longer. Christmas has always been a time of family and love, this year it was at least, for the most part, a time of great loss. And so, to hold on just a little longer felt right.
I love this photo of the ox "McDuffy" from our New Year's Trip to Shaker Village because it reminds me so much of one of my favorite childhood stories. The story of Ferdinand, the bull that liked to just sit and smell the flowers.
There's something so peaceful in the solitude of this photo. In the 'giantness' of this animal (who was brought to the village because he was too lazy, or perhaps too old now to do the work of a real ox) and the ease with which he just lays in this field throughout the day as tourists wander by and snap photos and wonder at the uniqueness of his hairdo. He will follow you with his eyes sometimes, but otherwise, he just seems content to lay there and enjoy the grass. To smell the flowers.
All Rights Reserved.
*To find the universal elements enough to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some rewards of the simple life.*
While at my grandmother's house tonight, my cousins and I went through just one of them many shelves of books she has. There are hundreds of books in her home, enough for us to read for years to come. I chose a few to read in the coming months... thankful for this gift she left us without even realizing it.
*I used to think I knew everything. I was a 'smart person' who 'got things done', and because of that, the higher I climbed, the more I could look down and scoff at what seemed silly or simple, even religion. But I realized something as I drove home that night; that I am neither better nor smarter, only luckier. And I should be ashamed of thinking I knew everything, because you can know the whole world and still feel lost in it. So many people are in pain - no matter how smart or accomplished - they cry, they yearn, they hurt. But instead of looking down on things, they look up, which is where I should have been looking, too. Because when the world quiets to the sound of your own breathing, we all want the same things; comfort, love and a peaceful heart.*
-- Mitch Albom --
I did not know that losing someone could effect me so profoundly.
I did not know that two and a half weeks after her death I would still find myself crying at the drop of a hat when I think about her life and what it's meant to mine. About growing up with her as my 'granny'... about spending countless hours of my childhood picking dandelions from her yard and tasting gooseberries and rhubarb from her garden... sneaking caramels from her closet and building puzzles at her kitchen table as we snacked on peanuts and drank pepsi.
I think about our trips to the beach and our long talks on the back deck. I think about how just a few months ago she tried to hook me up with the roto rooter guy because he was very "good looking Rachel!"
I think about all of the times she called me in the weeks before her death and asked me to order Christmas gifts for her because she refused to hop on into the 21st century and purchase a computer so she could get online. I think about how she hated "the facebook" and all of our cell phones and digital cameras and how she lectured us constantly about keeping things private and having our identities stolen.
I think about how she still hugged each of us (her grandchildren) good bye everytime we left her house and offered us some bit of wisdom (be good... work hard at your job so you can get a better one... I love you...).
Mostly though, I think of how much it has affected me, more than the loss of any of my other grandparents (I've lost all of them now) - to go through this loss. The loss of my mother's mother. I don't know why... or maybe I do, but this loss has been harder than any other. And I say maybe I do, because I think I do and I think it's because it's the finality of the relationship that most daughter's prize so very much. I simply cannot begin to imagine losing my mom and so, to see her lose her own mom... that's almost just as unimaginable.
It's been hard... harder than I could have imagined this would be.
But life will go on, we will honor her memory... she will not be forgotten.
Starting out this round of 365 Days a little different by actually starting on the first day of the year this year. And hoping to actually come MUCH closer to posting 365 days worth of photos because no kidding... I came no where near that this last time. So here goes nothing!
Copyright 2012. New Years Day at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill