Monday, December 08, 2014

Holiday


So many words you guys. Been gone for so long and there are so many words but today there are just a few. I need somewhere to work this out. Somewhere that isn't Facebook. 

Can I just start by trying to express how much I love Christmas time? I have been head over heels for it even since I was 5 and bringing sticks I found in the back yard indoors to be decorated with necklaces. I love Christmas and all it celebrates. Family, tradition, the birth of the savior of the world our precious Abba Jesus Christ. I love it, ya'll.  

Last year I shuffled my way through my favorite time of year watching Aunt B fight her courageous battle to stay in our time. She fought on past New Years Eve and several weeks later won her place in heaven. Every single Sunday in Advent last year, I bawled my way through each hymn and carol that our church sang. Tears rolling down my cheeks, these songs provided a release of some of grief I was carrying around. Last year they lost their celebratory feel and instead felt mournful and full of comfort and safety. A time and place to let it all go. And I did. Of course I had been crying my way through church for the last 6 months so I didn't think much of the fact that the Advent services were wrecking me. 

After she passed away I continued my tear stained participation for several more months before some of the songs I knew and loved stopped making me sob. It felt good to be back in a place of worship instead of grief. 

The Holidays are here again and imagine my surprise when I started crying at church again about two weeks ago. I found myself dreading the holiday decorations.. showing up that first Sunday of Advent a bundle of nervous irritation trying to feign excitement about the beauty of the decor. I couldn't sing my bottom lip was trembling so hard. I laid my head on Stephen's shoulder and stayed there. 

Watching someone you love, more than you were ever able to express to them in this life, die a horrific and painful death at the hands of a disease like cancer is a weight that is hard to explain unless you have been there yourself. It pulls you down into a place of doubt and sadness that you may not have known before. Its like everywhere you look you see the world going along its way, but all you see is what lies beneath the facade.. the potential for this type of suffering in every passing face. Will it be you next time ? Or you? Or me? Simultaneously you want to scream "We are losing her!! Don't you guys understand who we are losing?!? Do you even know what it's going to be like without her!?" But you don't, you just keep walking around trying to keep it together and not take it out on those closest to you. 

Well I am here to tell you that the heaviness of that loss can all come crashing back if you lost someone during a particular season. For me it was Christmas and I stand here, crushed by the weight of it all. The memories, the blank stares while other sing in celebration. These crazy day dreams that she isn't gone and that I can do it differently this time. 

Death is so brutal in it's insistence. The damage it does to anyone nearby is real and permanent. I hope in time that I will come to see my favorite time of year as festive and exciting again. I know time heals things like this. But for now the pain is very real and very fresh. More so than I thought it would be. So if you know anyone who lost someone during this time of year.. give them an extra hug. Shoot them a text or email letting them know you are thinking about them. Every little bit of love helps to counteract the effects of the pain. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

This afternoon's adventure


Can you see the Ada? We took Daddy back to our 2 mile hike to Crabtree Falls this afternoon. The girls were so excited to get him there, since he is the one who can do all the crazy climbing around on rocks with the three of them.. at once. 






My girls. My rough and tumble, mountain, bug and rock loving girls. 




More playing in the water.. and climbing up the rocks on the other side of the water fall. 



View from the little bridge. Then my battery died. So only iPhone pix for the rest of the trip. Guess who forgot the charger.. womp womp. 

We started this hike after Frankie woke up at 4:30.. so we didn't make it back here until almost 7. We dumped our tired, giggly, happy, muddy and damp girls into the giant two person tub in this delightful abode we are renting and they splashed in the warm water and bubbles until dinner was ready. The trail to the waterfall was filled with tiny little trickles of water heading down the mountain to the big falls. The girls call these "fairy showers"and the little puddles they splash into are "fairy bathtubs". They saw so many fairy houses that we lost count and even found fairy treasure map (a design made by wood grubs or bugs under some bark that had fallen off). All the talk of tiny people and their tiny world made them want to watch Arietty while they ate dinner so they are currently snuggled together in jammies under a comforter watching their favorite borrower. 

We are watching the sunset and sipping rye. A day well spent. 

Wildflowers in water glasses


This is the view from our deck this week. We are in Little Switzerland enjoying the mountain air while Stephen attends an artists retreat at Wild Acres. He spends his mornings there, we spend ours exploring, and we pick him up after lunch and spend the afternoons exploring together. Heaven must be like this...


The girls and I took a 2 mile hike down to a hidden waterfall on our first morning alone. 


Frankie hiked on her own for 3/4 of the way and spent small intervals of time on my shoulders resting her baby feet and legs. When she rides on my shoulders her little chubby hands rest on my forehead and she spends the ride kissing my hair. 


We packed our lunch down to the falls but.. the water took precedence.


Truth. Hiking back is always less fun than hiking there. Still 2 plus miles for this little gang.. not too shabby!


We are grilling out for dinner every night on the deck. A hot tub lives out there too and after little folks are in bed.. under the stars.. yes. Dinner hours have been super flexible and we hike right up until we can't go any further. This is  from our trip last night, after which we all had a late supper of burgers and dogs and grilled corn and assorted veggies. 


The girls have been sketching in special sketch books that Stephen got for this trip. 


Ada has decided she prefers the mountains to the beach. As a self proclaimed scientist, she is in her element. 


It seems we are waterfall hunters on this trip. This was our first falls on our first day here. We have since been to 3 other falls with more in our future. 







Lunch al fresco. Every day. 


Our dear friends came for the night. The only thing better than being here, was getting to share 18 hours with them here. 


 Our nightly fireworks show.



Frankie rests, they draw and paint with Daddy. 



Frankie wakes and we pack up and head to our afternoon adventure of choice. 


And there are little girl collected bouquets of wildflowers in water glasses..


..everywhere. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yesterday


The girls have had a lot of free reign during these first few weeks of summer. I keep finding small creations scattered around the house. This was yesterday's find. Ada's sculpture of a "bear sleeping in a cave". Those are genuine fruit snack wrappers - repurposed as boulders and cave components and secured with plenty of scotch tape. 


We also received this beautiful cabbage from a neighbor yesterday. We love our next door neighbors - on all sides. A few days ago our Vietnamese neighbors brought us 3 huge containers of the best homemade egg rolls you have ever tasted. One of their 4 sons brought this gift to the front door and they were so fresh the steam was wafting out of the Styrofoam containers they were packed into. This cabbage was a gift from a newish acquaintance that Stephen saw talking to another older neighbor while they were peeking at our nextdoor neighbors backyard - trying to see what sort of construction has been going on back there. Nothing gets past these ladies. Not even my cute husband. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Easter


M, F, and A on Easter Sunday this year. 





Easter Sunday was extra special this year. Margot was baptized on Easter Sunday this year. 

A few weeks earlier, Margot was talking to me about something having to do with the Bible and she just blurted out "I'm not afraid to get baptized anymore!". 

Our church holds baptisms occasionally on Sunday mornings. The girls have been watching these take place with more interest recently. The people who have made this decision in their lives are baptized in a large pool thing in the center of the room surrounded by those present, singing worship songs and pausing to hear the name and story of the person being baptized. It can be intimidating for an adult and, I imagine, scary for a child. The girls have maintained that they are "too shy" to get baptized. Of course we haven't pushed the issue because we want it to be their choice. When Margot made that statement to me, I wasn't sure how to take it. It's not like her to even bring something like this up. Most "God questions" normally come from Ada. When I asked her why she wanted to get baptized I fully expected her to say it was because she wanted to get in the water. After all, that's why I wanted to get baptized at her age. Instead I got an answer with a maturity I wasn't expecting: "People get baptized because they believe in Jesus and I believe in Jesus so I want to get baptized. It's like when we take communion because we believe He died for our sins and He told us to do that to remember He died for our sins and getting baptized is something you do to remember too." 

Over the next few weeks Stephen and I both asked her multiple times about why she wanted to get baptized, expecting her answer to vary. It didn't. She was steadfast and excited about the prospect of making her faith "official". She started telling everyone at school that she was going to get baptized on Easter. She told her teacher, her principal,  and anyone else who would listen. The day before Easter, her precious teacher came by the house to bring her a special present - a cross necklace - to celebrate her baptism. She wore it the next day, trembling with excitement during the service, asking every 5 minutes if it was time to get baptized yet. Then it was time. My parents came to watch and David and Grace were there with Ada and Frankie while Stephen climbed into the baptismal with Margot and one of our pastors. I was honestly shocked by how much emotion overtook me, watching our daughter get baptized. She was beaming with peaceful excitement. I was remembering her life until this moment. We believe that baptism is a symbol, it's not a magic moment that makes a person holy. Still the recognition that my five year old was ready to make this choice, to make this symbolic gesture so that others would know she was a follower of Christ - was overwhelming. We are just so humbled by this kid. 

Their's and Our's

This is officially our second summer in our home and though little has changed in our house since these "after" pictures where taken about a month after we unpacked, I thought it would be fun to see the Before and After set side by side.  It's more like Their's and Our's because their house had a definite theme and ours has one of it's own. 
If we are BFFs on FB then you have already seen the after shots but this time you get to see more of the actual transformation that took place, lo those many months ago. I snagged these before shots off the real estate listing for this place and we were too frazzled and crazed during the two week renovation to take any pictures of what it looked like empty. 



 Their Kitchen


Our Kitchen. Still my favorite room in the house... when it's clean. I firmly believe that the two nerve centers in a home are the kitchen and the master bedroom. When the kitchen is clean and tidy our life seems to be more organized and we get places on time. When our bedroom is clean and organized we rest well and I feel ready to take on whatever life has on offer that day. Isn't it amazing what a coat of paint, new countertops, and a couple of new track lights can do? 


Their Living Room


Our Living Room. Those shelves took up so much space and they were not even attached to the wall! So down they came. The light, my heavens, the light! The girls play on that rug for hours at a time. 


Their Entryway 


Our Entryway. One of top priorities on our house wish list are new front doors. Those are right next to painting the exterior of the house whose avocado green color theme has not been updated since it's inception in '65. One tiny, itty bitty step at a time. 


Their Master Bedroom


Our Master Bedroom


Their Girls Room


Our Girls Room. This room is deceptively neat in this photo. It is an old picture for one, and the girls had not yet been through Kindergarten. Kindergarten with all it's treasures, projects, and treasure box items that find their way home. I feel I am fighting a constant battle of clutter in this room but as it is actually THEIR battle to fight and not mine I try to limit my re-organization of their lives to once or twice a month - tops. We are talking about having the girls swap rooms in a year or two. Frankie's room has more wall space and a larger closet so I feel like it would be a better situation for our growing twin ladies who may not want to be in bunk beds for life. 


Their Guest Room (?)


Our Frankie's Room


Their Hall


Our Hall


Their Basement Room


Our Late Night Hideaway with Wood Burning Fireplace, Record Player and other Toys

This is the room that sold the house. Not their version, but our vision of what it could become. Our version. This room took the longest to complete because we didn't have enough time to get the painting done during that two week frenzy before we moved in. It also needed quite a bit of work. We got rid of the fireplace insert and discovered that the fire brick were all cracked and patched. So Dad did the demo work himself and then called in his fantastic mason and we had the entire firebox rebuilt. Then that had to cure for awhile before we could try it out. Then we did try it out.. and it smoked. Badly. So my Dad and I became experts on all the issues in a house that can cause a chimney to smoke. My dad was such an encouragement during this. He said every chimney is a little different and you just have to figure out how yours works. So as it turned out even though the flu to firebox opening ratio was mathematically correct, the opening was still slightly large. So after experimenting a bit we found a size that worked and Dad bought and installed a hood that lowered the height about an inch. This caused the chimney to draw better and eliminated the smoke issue altogether. 

The folks who lived here before us had never used the fireplace once in the eight years they lived here. That thought makes me sad sometimes when we are curled up next to a roaring fire. I wonder who else in the history of this house didn't get to enjoy this room. This room is where we come after the kids go to bed. Stephen has his drawing table down here and it is cozy and quiet. The girls love to have movie night down here, and it's our guest room when we have overnight visitors. The vintage couch is a sleeper sofa and there is a full bathroom down here. It's a great room. 

There is one more room in this house that really sold us and that is the "Black and White" room. It's kind of a utility room in the lower level/basement with a big farm sink, black and white linoleum flooring, and lots of room to make a mess. I will have to take a picture of that one soon and post it - it's the last place in the house that has been organized and it's taken me over a year to get there... still in process. 

Many of the changes we made were so minor. Taking down curtain rods, changing out closet and drawer pulls and changing out light fixtures to name a few. Their pulls were dark and we traded those for crystal in the girls rooms and turquoise in our room and the bathrooms. We took down some of their light fixtures and replaced them with the original ones we found in one of the closets. So thankful they had saved these instead of tossing them! We still have lots to do to make this house into the home I see in my mind's eye. But that's the fun part, right?