Monthly Archives: April 2015

wednesday morning in the garden

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This morning was magical. As the sun got higher in the sky, different parts of the garden lit up. It was a morning of catching color in the distance – flowers and lanterns. We took the mouse, and she loved it. On the way to school I told F that THAT was a perfect garden morning. She agreed, leaned back in her chair with a contented sigh, and said The scenery! Oh, the scenery!

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cleaning out the attic

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It’s hard to believe that this school year is almost over. We’ve got less than a month before summer vacation starts. When I got into work this morning and saw the fifteen calendar updates from M with the various camp schedules for the girls, I knew it was happening. I had a feeling last summer that the upcoming school year was going to be a big adjustment – and I wasn’t incorrect. It’s the first time we’ve had two kids in school, but it’s not just that. Our kids will never go to the same school, so from here on out we’ll be juggling two very different schedules.

Most of it’s gone pretty smoothly, and both girls have had great years. But I feel like we’ve really had to up our game around here. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep things running along without a hitch. There have still been a few hitches. I’m more tired. I get up earlier, and I still stay up late just to keep on track. If I take a night “off”, I feel it more these days. I used to have some time to myself in the morning, post-shower, pre-waking up of the girls. I have more one on one time with the girls in the morning, but I don’t have as much time to read or write on my own. I try to carve out that time in the evening, but that usually means just a bath and trying to stay awake through a quick chapter or the pile of laundry on my countertop. M’s working on bills tonight, and I’m typing this while E works on some sketches for ideas she has with some leftover fabric samples from my office. She’s telling me funny stories from her French class. We both should be going to bed.

I’ve been cranking out project after project at work these days. Every third day is another deadline. I kind of like being busy, and crossing things off a list. I’m not crossing as much off my lists at home. Actually, that’s not really an accurate statement, it just feels like it when we’re mid-week. Maybe it’s because I don’t keep up with writing about it as much. I used to be better at documenting the minutia here. I feel sort of lazy. I have a dozen posts started but not finished. It’s Tuesday night and I’m out of stories.

Maybe I’ll just clean out the attic for a few minutes, and then open the floor to you.

*I’m thinking about birthday parties. The girls’ birthdays are so close together that by the time you plan F’s far enough away from the 4th of July and you plan E’s early enough to avoid the start of school, they are practically together. I want to do a joint party this year. The cool thing is their ages this year – six and twelve. It’s the only time they will be exactly half (or double) of the other. I keep thinking of the coolest things related to numbers, or dozens and half dozens. I still have some convincing to do, but I think I can. I need to reserve a pavilion at the park. I need to email family and pick a date.

*We have the annual Soiree at the girls’ school coming up. I always do the raffle basket posters. I honestly love doing them. Last year I did watercolors. This year I’m thinking three-dimensions. It’s a Wonderland theme (think Alice). I’m excited. I need to buy the tickets. Anyone want to join us? It’s lots of fun.

*Our (non)pink chairs are done! Now we just need half a second with the truck to go get them. Maybe Friday afternoon. I can’t wait. I’m halfway tempted to just switch vehicles with M and pick them up in the morning myself. The living room is looking so good.

*We’ve been painting some more. And we have more lights. I have another project I’m about to (finally) start as soon as the painting is done (and the Soiree posters are done). I need to update the house tour posts. I’m also overdue on a good long house addition project post – I’m procrastinating on that for several reasons.

*We’re getting family portraits taken this weekend. I’m not even sure what we’re wearing yet, but I’m okay with that. Our favorite photographer moved away, but she’s back for the weekend and she offered to do a session with us. I hate being photographed, but I’m trying to be better about it.

*We’re celebrating fifteen years of marriage this fall. What do you do for fifteen years? Go on a big trip? Purchase something large together? Go out on the town? I have no ideas yet. What does fifteen years symbolize – paper, wood, diamonds, steel? I wish it was fireplaces. 🙂

*I set a little mini-goal for me this summer. I’d like to be able to run around the perimeter of Forest Park – about 6.5 miles – without falling on my face. I’m running four miles fairly regularly now, but my feet do get a little sore around that point, and I’d like to stretch them a little bit more (slowly). Also, I get sort of bored after half an hour. And tired. I’m not really sure how you push past that other than to just do that. Maybe it’s as simple as that.

*F is obsessed with Greek Mythology. The girls discuss this topic in great detail in the mornings. I love it. E is going through books faster than we can keep up with. We need to be more regular in our library trips. We’re getting our family portraits made at the library (!), so we should probably pick out a stack while we’re there! If you have some great book recommendations, I’ll take them.

*I love spring. This might be the best one ever. It seemed like it took forever to get here, and even now it’s just slowly unfolding. Some years we go from freezing to ninety degrees almost instantly, but not this year. We’ve been lingering in the sixties and seventies for awhile now, equally rainy and sunny, like spring should be. It’s divine.

*I’m trying to like forty on me. Most of the time I do. The rest of the time I’m faking it, but that’s okay too.

That’s a sliver of what is going on in my head these days. If you have anything to add to my random lists, I’d love to hear it. Ask away. I need some inspiration, and conversation.

easter

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It took me awhile to get back to the photos from Easter weekend. As I’ve mentioned before, the holiday itself is a pretty emotional one for us still. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my niece, but everything is brought into sharper focus when we visit family for the weekend.

We did the regular Easter traditions – each girl decorated a dozen eggs, and then they collectively decorated another dozen for Erin. I love how our family includes these rituals and remembrances of her so naturally into the events of the day; that feels more comfortable to me in the moment – it’s much harder to look at photos after the fact and see how glaring the missing is.

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I still take the pictures, but I don’t enjoy it. I’m not sure if I ever will again. It feels a little too much like a dare. Can we get this same photo next year? The year after that?

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Maybe it will always feel like a documentation of loss. Still, I look at this photo below and it does make me smile in this way that twists my heart a bit. I want to write something here about the way those girls are holding onto one another, and what I see when I look at their eyes and their smiles, but I can hardly see the keys to type through my tear-filled eyes.

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I wish I could just get out of my head for a bit and let the photos just be Easter photos, not something so loaded and missing.

…..

On the Saturday of our trip our family went to visit Erin’s playground. It’s the first time I’ve seen it in person. It’s the first time I’ve been in that hospital, and I hate hospitals as much as I hate funeral homes and cemeteries and churches after funerals. I don’t really want to be in those places where she was because I feel powerless and helpless and overwhelmed with sadness. I have to push that all into the pit of my stomach and get over it. It’s a gorgeous spring day after a long winter, and I want to see this place with the people I love.

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When I think back to the piece I wrote in January where I tried to describe the idea of widening the backdrop of this life a bit – well, I feel it here, in this courtyard.  When I watch her parents and her sister walk through that hospital and out to the playground, I can hardly believe how strong and courageous they are. Tackling a project of this magnitude forced them to uncurl a tiny bit from their own overwhelming pain, demanded that they repeat their story again and again, even when they still didn’t want to believe that it was true, required them to show up countless times, around great groups of people celebrating the very girl that would have been the life of the party if luck had fallen the way it should have. We know how this should have ended. And when it didn’t, they rewrote their story in the bravest, most selfless way possible.2015-04-04_1428181023
I see the daily notes they receive from people with loved ones in hospital rooms that overlook this beautiful space. They thank Erin for her gift, and her family for their perseverance. I see the blood drives they organize, the donations they gather for the other cancer patients, the fundraisers they manage and attend, their willingness to sit on advisory boards to make hospital stays easier for future patients, the messages of encouragement and support that they send out daily to the network of other children embroiled in the same battle they were fighting, their dedication and commitment to widening the backdrop of their daughter’s life and smile. It’s a gift to us too, and I’m grateful for that.

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We miss you, sweet girl.