Thursday, October 27, 2016

An Awfully Big Adventure

"To live will be an awfully big adventure."
-Peter Pan

I've been reminded a lot this month how precious life is. My baby turned one, her life just beginning; and in the same breath, my grandma passed away, her beautifully full journey on this earth coming to an end. I walk through my days both celebrating and mourning. There are so many reminders of the life lost that stop me in my tracks, a punch in the gut. The pillow my Grams made us as kids that has now been passed from one crib to another in my house, awaiting one final crib. The ghost magnet my boys pilfered from her fridge one visit years ago that now oddly hangs on a pipe in the basement playroom, haunting our memories. The handwritten cookie recipe. The baby clothes she hand picked. The cat oven mitts she sewed years ago that now adorn the play kitchen, one look at them reminding me of the day I brought them home from her house. And all the other zillions of memories flooding my brain.

With the grief comes sadness, but then I watch my babies and I know my grandma's physical life on earth may have ended, but she's still with us. This new life brings me immense joy, and I like to think my grandma surrounds us daily as we continue on, plod through our days, trying to restore the balance without her constant presence in our lives.

My grandma wasn't well enough to make the drive to Jillian's birthday party, quite possibly the first party she's ever missed. But now as we celebrate these big moments in her absence, we will think of her and eventually smile without tears. She lived a long, full life and now it's our turn to follow in her footsteps.

Life is precious, indeed. And the year marker in my children's lives has always felt monumental to me. Jillian's big day was no exception. One night she went to bed my baby, and the next morning she woke up this big girl teetering on independence. The days zoom into years, and soon enough she will wake one morning a teenager.

We celebrated her birthday with a small gathering of family at our house. It was an intimate affair that had me smiling. Once the party goers left, my mom, sister and niece stayed for a sleepover.

In the midst of this heartache, my middle guy turned five. His party was pushed back a day because of the funeral arrangements, but it didn't phase my newly minted big boy. Five years with this boy. Hardly seems possible. His bigger than life personality lights our world. His imagination cannot be contained, nor would I dare try. This is the last year he's home with me and I'm struggling to acknowledge this so I can soak up each and every moment. We celebrated his big day with his first ever friend party at an indoor playground. The kids ran around, barely stopping for pizza, cake and presents. Then the parents came to fetch the kids and we realized just how easy it is to have parties at outside venues that are not our house.

Just yesterday I stood Ashton up against the giant growth ruler in the hallway and etched another notch. Five years worth of notches, with so many more left to leave their mark. One very precious life left us last week, but our lives here on earth go on. One foot forward, carrying our memories and the essence of Grandma Faye along with us as we continue to walk our path in life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Happy October

"Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances."
-Maya Angelou

Every August we begin a slow descent into mourning summer.  Every September we quickly speed into anticipating fall.  Our last camping trip of the year was thwarted by loads of rain, the campground we had reserved flooded. Fall camping may very well be my very favorite, but instead the kids enjoyed nature's playground afforded by all the rain. A stream ran through our backyard and created a giant puddle. It floods so often in the same spot in our yard, the boys running, splashing, digging in it, that grass no longer grows there. It is a barren blemish in a field of green grass. This only bothers my husband, who can be heard yelling, "No digging!" quite often from the deck. Jillian got in on the splashing this time and I'm fairly certain she won't want to miss out again.

The camper may be winterized, prepared to sit through another brutal winter, but we're embracing the current season before we're shut up indoors for months. This weekend we hit up my favorite fall activity: the apple orchard. It was a seasonably warm day, allowing us the luxury to run around in light clothing instead of the bulky layers and hats we don some years.

As the kids lined up to take their annual picture in front of the ruler by the giant apple, it hit me that it is Jillian's first orchard measurement. Last year she was a rounded bump in my belly as I waddled around the farm. This year Dave propped her up by the ruler and she clung to it as I snapped her very first photo-op. Her head was just shy of clearing the 2 1/2 feet marker. Once upon a time Spencer was a fresh one-year-old visiting the apple orchard for the first time. Now he's off flitting from one activity to the next. One day when the kids are gone and my house is quiet, I'll look through the pictures of our annual orchard trip in wonder, watching their heads clear taller notches on the ruler year by year.

If every August we mourn summer, September we anticipate fall and November we dread winter, October is definitely the month we take hold and embrace. This particular October will be filled to the brim and gone in a flash. Two birthdays, a wedding, and Halloween. Happy October.