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26 December 2010

Christmas and a Baby

Like so many holidays for me, this one plowed through my life without much inspiration.  No reason to stay up late on Christmas Eve.  No reason to get up early on Christmas morn.  A day just like any other day marked by the entire town shutting down and my husband and I left alone.  This year it was just me while Todd was at work.

While I have tried to start my own traditions in my house of two, they are never met with much enthusiasm and die a slow death alongside the fireplace embers.  So every year, I put up the tree by myself, gulping down a bottle of wine sipping on a glass of wine to get me through it.  I play holiday music on my iPod so as not to disturb the football game going on in the next room - or better yet, this year, my other half just left the house to do something he found more exciting.  Each year, I go a little crazy with the tree decor.  It is, afterall, all mine.

We join my husband's family on Christmas day and for this I am thankful.  I enjoy SO much the laughter of their sibling rivalry displayed through our hours of board games, the older kids now joining us at the 'adult table', and the hugs and filled lap from the kiddos that are still young.

We have a small get-together at my mother's - more of an open house.  You never know if either of my step-brothers will join or not.  It could be a houseful.  More often than not it is just a few.  I think this must be heartbreaking for my parents.

So this year, as I ready for 'just another day', I looked out my window in time to see cars pulling into my neighbors house.  I have known them well, moreso, in the past than of recent days; a tight knit family who has been very lucky in love and light who seem to pull through anything that gets in their way together.  They have been met with some financial troubles to one of their own in just these past weeks. 

As I watched this part of the family get out of their vehicle, I noticed a flash of bright pink.  Not above being easily distracted by glittery things, I found myself stalking staring in anticipation!  As they became more visible, I realized it was a baby wrapped in the most gorgeous shade of preciousness I had seen all season.

This baby has come into their life in the past year as an immediate part of the family.  Loved and spoiled as if it were their own blood.  As I watched, I notice my eyesight get blurry.   Something deep down in my heart was speaking and I couldn't stop the tears.  I'm not sure what it was trying to say - a mixture of joy for the family, a yearning for that baby to be my own - for a reason to stay up late on Christmas Eve and get up early the next day, and reverence of what she represented...HOPE.

Hope and a REASON to celebrate.  Brand new eyes from which to view the world with an innocent little soul.  Little hands and little feet to discover a NEW path in life.  A helplessness and frailty that asks us to take the journey with her without even saying a word. 

As if as a sign from God himself, the gray sky opened up and sun surrounded us all.  Silent Night started playing on my stereo behind me as the one and only holiday song that never fails to make me weep (so much so that I typically and immediately change the channel!).  I let it sink in.  I stood there at my kitchen sink and cryed; tears washing away my darkened heart.

Isn't that what Christmas is all about?  Had I forgotted the most important baby of Christmas?  Had I failed to remember that it is CHRISTmas?

My mind wandered to another family needing a Christmas miracle...my own.  And how ironic and poignant that while my uncle still lie in a hospital, hanging on to every day of sweet life - that he does so to see his unborn grandson.  The circle of life will not end with either of them...but go on as an inspiration to both of them.  They are forever connected in HOPE.

So as I move forward with this last week of the holiday, I will not forget the HOPE and love and little Chrismas moments of wonder that surrounds each of us now and throughout the year.

Merry Christmas..again..to you all.

20 December 2010

Awesome.

I used to be awesome.
...or so I thought.

Above average brains, quick in humor and wit; a perfectionist at heart and pretty overall fearless (or oblivious...whatever). 

Then I got bumped.  Again.

The first time was in high school - Powder Puff football.  NOTHING sugar and spice about those girls!  I got plowed. Hard! Full-on tackle by a chick three-times my size that knocked me off my feet; my head bouncing off the ground in whip-lash action.  I blacked-out and woke up with a swarm of people around me asking twenty questions.  The hospital sent me home that night with a killer headache and no chance for sleep, as my mother woke me up every thirty minutes to make sure I hadn't drifted off permanently.

The next (and  hopefully last) time was just this past year.  I realized tonight that I hadn't written about it - and now notice a huge gap in my posts; not altogether a suprise as, if you haven't noticed, I'm not the most disciplined blogger in the world.  I don't talk about this topic much and honestly, I don't remember quite a few details.  The effects; however, are a constant and haunting reminder.

My husband and I were in an auto accident this past March.

The weather was unusually cold and icy for that time of year.  We were driving on an interstate that, I later learned, had been shut down earlier that morning due to a rush hour pile-up.  I was playing solitaire on my Blackberry from the passenger seat with my feet propped up on the dashboard, taking on my usual stance as the co-pilot in the Explorer.  We had purchased the SUV after my last accident 7 years ago; a road rage incident that left me terrified to drive anything without a birds eye view of the road and a brush guard attached to ensure I could wipe out anything that ever got in my way again.  It was a solid and fairly custom piece of machinery.

It all happened in the blink of an eye.  We hit a patch of black ice.  My husband screamed for me to brace myself and reached out to hold me in my seat much like a mother's instinct to a child.  We spun out of control, slamming into a concrete barrier blocking us from plummeting over a bridge.  Airbags deployed.  I was catapulted out of my high-back bucket seat, through the cab and expelled out - not through the hatchback (that would be too easy!), but through the small tempered glass panel flanking either back side.

Seatbelts people.  Seatbelts.

Exit Window
I remember floating in the air inside the vehicle.  Slow motion.  I remember my head striking something hard.  The sound of metal and glass...and skull.  Then nothing. 

My mind wandered to the comforting smell of my late grandfather's aftershave, whom had passed away just a few years prior.  I felt the same protection and security I did when being held in his lap as a young child watching the evening news together. I remember drifting away, as I would drift off to sleep in his lap.

I woke up, suddenly and with jolted pain, just like I did on the high school football field nearly twenty years ago - a circle of people (angels really) asking me too many questions and telling me I would be OK.  I searched for, and managed to focus on my husband's shocked expression to assure him of the same.  "I am OK. I'll be fine."

To this day I can't imagine his panic after the accident, reaching over to check on me after his own spinning stopped only to find my seat empty. To find me laying in a massive pool of bright red blood, stark against the white of snow and ice beneath me. To find me stiff with one arm reaching to the heavens refusing to relax back down to my side - back down to Earth. It was months before he would not wake up in the middle of the night and reach over to my side of the bed, playing the scene over in his nightmares that jarred him awake to make sure I had not vanished. To make sure I was still by his side...forever.

I was rushed to KU Med Center and treated by their amazing head trauma unit staff.  My noggin was stapled back together and I was fitted with a boot and some crutches to help me walk on some banged up ankles.  That's it!

I later found out that I landed at the side of the road, out of the way of traffic...on the ONLY patch of soft snow within miles as if God has reached down from the heavens to catch me and lay me gently down on the pure white pillow.  A nurse, an EMT and a preacher had been following us on the highway and stopped to help.  They stayed with my shaken husband until I was moved to a private room.

What does this have to do with my self proclaimed awesomeness?

I sustained a severe concussion.  A traumatic brain injury (TBI). While most of my obvious symptoms have disappeared and the visible signs have healed, I am left...bumped...both inside and out.  I often feel sharp 'shoots' of electrical sensations across the back of my head, swelling and tightness is a common occurrence, as well as forgetfulness, unorganized thought, roadblocks in verbal communication both spoken and written and an overall feeling of disorientation or time loss/lapse.  

I am no longer awesome and it is more and more apparent in my current employment - where it's my JOB to BE awesome.  I made a mistake today.  The same kind that I often do these days.  The kind that is becoming harder and harder to ignore.  I find myself wondering sometimes, "What if somebody notices? What if they all realize I'm no longer smart? What if they are onto me?!?!"

I can only keep fighting this new 'disability' and work harder and harder to overcome.  And while I AM working harder and struggling...and making more mistakes...I will REJOICE and be GLAD IN IT.  

While I used to think that it was me that was awesome, the truth is, this whole year has been a reminder that GOD is awesome!  And no matter how far I think I have fallen off of my self-serving pedestal, my ego of awesomeness, He will reach down out of the heavens to catch me and gently lay me down into the pure white snow. I only have to reach up. 

12 December 2010

Joy down in my heart

While writing Christmas cards tonight, I read the scripture inside.  REALLY read it. 

JOY.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for JOY and I will give thanks to him in song.
Psalm 28:7 NIV

And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great JOY which shall be to all people.
Luke 2:10

I am ready for JOY.  I am ready to see it and create it and live it and give it and pass it on.  

I will find joy in balance...or balance through my joy.

How do you find or what is your joy?

Cupcakes are a good start!


 

08 December 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Where's Waltoad?

Can you find the 6'4" man we sometimes lovingly call Toad?  Not in MY yard in the fall!
Title: "Where's Waltoad?"Photos Taken: December 2010
Photo Editing: Color Splash iPhone App
                                                                                                                                   

07 December 2010

Thanks...and Wanting More

Thanksgiving left me rather wanting for more.

More time.
More thoughtful moments.
More time to write down those thoughful moments.
More memories.
More memory.
More memory of my memories.

But what I did not leave wanting was more just for the sake of wanting more.

Not more money.
Not more things.
Not more money to buy more things.

I actually spent Thanksgiving eve staying fairly later than most at work.
Thankful that I have a job that allows me to do so.
I drove myself to meet my husband for dinner that was 1/2 price with a coupon.
So very thankful to be alive and driving my humble little economy car to meet my love for an evening out.
We saw a dear friend that we had not seen since he was hospitalized with a heart attack.
I was thankful for friendship and fun and contagious laughter and happiness that spreads.
Another friend offered us a free stay at a luxury hotel!
"Thank you" didn't seem enough!

I filled up a small sized pool they called a bathtub with water and bubbles and just let go.
Breathe. 
Relax.
I looked around at the marble floor.
I looked at the antique vanity sink.
I looked at the chandelier above me.
I became thankful that these were not part of my own home.
I became thankful for things I did not have.
I became thankful for the honor of truly enjoying the very essence of being.
I became thankful for the awareness of the simple joys in life.
I became thankful for the appreciation of the little luxuries in life.

If I had lived in a marble mansion...would the gifts of so many that evening had been enough?
If not met with sorrow...would I feel such joy?
If not for this void...will I ever feel truly full when filled?

If not for the wanting - there would be no thanks!

13 November 2010

Thanks...and Giving

                                                                                                                                
'Tis the Season indeed...to be thoughtful and joyful and thankful and giving.

I am overwhelmed with emotion as I ponder those words today.  Although I cannot put a finger on it exactly, I think it all boils down to the biggest word of all - LOVE.  I am surrounded by it.  From the surface and superficial to the real and amazing; from the commercial to the priceless and from the getting...to the giving.

I have a problem with love.  There is no other feeling that can cause the effect of every other emotion without a word being said or action been taken - except the feeling of being without it.  Love is unpredictable and uncontrollable.  It requires...well...giving.  And you can't give without getting.  In order to get, you have to be open to receiving.  Damn  how that works.

When it comes down to it, the only love that is real is that of family.  There are very very few people who are not relatives that transcend from friend to family.  So very few.  Too little few.

I love my family.  I am thankful for them.  I think I would be better at giving if I had my own family.  I have so much to give.  It just doesn't pour out like it should.  If I gave more..I would get more.

Thanksgiving seemed to be easier when I was young.  You show up, you eat, you go home.  Then when I got older - a newlywed with a new home - I couldn't wait to host the family dinner and did so for several years in a row.  If you know nothing about me, you must know now that I absolutely thrive on hosting and entertaining.  Ironic, I know, for such an awkward introvert.

We lost the home and I seemed to start to lose myself accordingly as others in the family stepped up and took their own turn in hosting from their fabulous new kitchens and with their own wedding registry cookware gifts.  I began to feel more isolated as they started their own families that grew larger, as did the homes to which we visited.  I began to look forward to spending time with my husband's family more and more because of the tradition and the sibling interaction I was able to be a part, if only by association, as a sharp contrast to my own upbringing.  When Todd's mother passed away, his sister stepped up and has done a fabulous job as the matriarch; a title and position I very much envy.  Over the years and after my grandfather's passing, my own side of the family just became too extended and Thanksgiving dinner together became a thing of the past. 

This year seems special.  It has been one of heavy heartache and incredible miracles and blessing.  So when a cousin on my mother's side suggested that I host a family get-together for the holidays, I was almost giddy with excitement.  Then I was trembling in fear.  My house is not complete!  It is TINY!  Do I even remember how to cook and clean and decorate and WOW?!?!?

Does it really matter?

What matters is that it is perfect.  My uncle is (thankfully) alive and has been moved to a local LTAC hospital - close enough for my family to share a day of fellowship with us all.  I am (thankfully) alive and well.  My husband is (thankfully) alive and well.  I am overwhelmed again, not by the task ahead of me to entertain, but with the anticipation of my modest and unfinished home coming alive with adult conversation and with the heart warming laughter of children...with LOVE.
I have so much to give.  I hope it will be well received!



 

07 November 2010

My Mr. Big (Heart)

I wasn't kidding when I said that my husband has a big heart.

It is as big and strong on the inside as he is on the outside; but last Sunday, it started hurting him while helping an 80 year young lady to her chair at the hospital - a sharp pain that dropped all 6'4" of him down to his knees and took his breath away.  As far as places of employment go, the hospital is a convenient place to be in times of emergency.  Tests were ran and guesses were made and he was sent home later that day.

On Thursday, it happened again - and bought him an overnight stay.  We found out that his heart was in Atrial fibrillation (a-fib), the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia.  In itself, it is not life-threatening as your body will give itself a kick start back into normal heart rate; however, it was cause for concern when 8 hours and 1 dose of medicine later he had still not normalized.  Risk of stroke is 7 times more likely for those suffering from a-fib and during extended periods of irregular heart rate is when it strikes.

I will not even allow myself to think of this.

The doctor says his prognosis is now good.  He will monitor and medicate and learn the physical tell-tale signs of future episodes.  He is to live the way he always has; it's the only way the doctors know what is working.  So he is playing basketball now, like he does every Sunday.  He will stay up late doing our laundry like he does every Sunday night, waking up early to run to Starbucks with me before I go to work (a habit we started on his day off when I still worked from home).  He will workout every day after work.  He will do all the heavy lifting between us in the household and in his soul.

He is my rock.  My Mr. Big.  Bigger than Ever.




13 October 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Walk the Talk

Breast Cancer 3Day - in Celebration, Honor and Remembrance

"Reminiscent of Pink" Collection

Photos Taken: September 2006
Photo Editing: Photo Explosion
                                                                                                  
For more great Wordless Wednesdays and reading...check this out!

18 September 2010

Gone and Back Again

My husband left me last week.

If you have followed my path this year, you know just how pathetic I have been.  Ironically, it's times like these that make you stronger; that make you look inside yourself - dig deep into the heart of the matter where you find your guts and hopefully your glory.  The process is a pretty self absorbed one.

I have been so selfish in fact, that I hadn't noticed that he was also sad.  A man of little words - I failed to see the actions.  I didn't realize that with every hit I was taking, it was also affecting him.  I didn't see that I had been plowing through without him.  I had invited him along but then didn't really care when he did not follow - and certainly didn't expect him to lead.  I had relied on myself and my faith...but never on him...even though my empty soul was aching to do so.  I missed him.  He missed me.  We were always RIGHT THERE.

Funny how that happens.  When you need the exact same thing from somebody that they need from you.  But neither of you know how to get it. So you go outside of things.  You delve into what's new - what you can control - escape outside of yourself in a struggle to FIND yourself.

We have never been a terribly connected couple, never a real team.  We are both loners and independent - stubborn and generally confident; until it comes to each other.  We have been through horribly rough times in our marriage before.  We drift apart and then drift away and somehow we always find our way back.  We have hurt each other badly.  We have forgiven each other thoroughly.  He is a generally content person with broad shoulders and a big heart with no expectations of the future and no plans towards it.  I am the rollercoaster that bears the smile and the responsibility with very definite ideas of where I wanted to be by now and a lost vision for the future.

He came back.  We talked.  I'm glad.

12 September 2010

Going and going and going...and going

I haven't been here for some time.  You may have wondered where I have been.  I, on the other hand, wonder where I am going...

Between finding my dad - then losing him again, losing a vehicle and almost losing a life - and definately losing my mind, losing a job, losing one chance to have a baby, losing a grandma and then losing a sense of connection to my other family through some recent tragedy within it; the thing I have held onto for dear life is a sense of healthy perspective. The reality is that it could always be worse.

I remind myself often of how blessed I am and to stop being so damn whiny about the rest; to have a roof over my head even though it is still only 1/2 done, to have a mother that loves me although we typically only talk about once every 10 days, to have found a job even though I earn 1/2 of what I did, to have my health through unorganized thoughts and memory loss -  not to mention this KILLER knot on my head and to have my whole life ahead of me despite feeling that time for so much that I want for has run out. 

So why am I so stuck?  Why does every morning start off as a struggle just to get out of bed?  Why is every drive home so somber?  Why does every new song I discover feel like it was written out of my heart's sad diary?  Why does every evening seem so empty and every sleepless night feel so lonely?  How selfish must I be to think I have any right to be so indulgent when there are REAL issues and REAL sadness in this world?  Get up and DO SOMETHING about it all!  Get up and DO something for charity!  Get GOING and DO something HAPPY for the WORLD!

But I can't right now.  So I keep going.  One foot in front of the other.  I keep praying - and thanking sincerely for each day I do keep going; and pray for those who have it so much worse than me.  I will keep going even with no real direction - because that is what I am supposed to do, what I am required to do, what I have to do.  I am going out of habit; out of that sweet, sweet familiarity of movement.  I am going through the motions. 

..and one day I will finally wake up out of my fog and find that I have arrived in the place that I am supposed to be.

16 August 2010

That Mockingbird Will Sing

I love music.

How a song can so perfectly strike the chords of your heartstrings.  How its words can wrap around a feeling or a memory that you keep way down deep inside and dare not speak.  How you instantly feel a new connection with yourself.  How you are moved to tears BY yourself.

I slipped out alone tonight to quiet a craving for ice-cream and started channel surfing on the car stereo to quiet the thoughts in my head.  I landed on a station in commerical break before distracted by the menu and giving my order.  Just as I paid and started my way back home, a beat caught my attention.  I cranked it up and got ready for the ride.  Before I knew it, my eyes were full and the back of my throat was tight.  Rob Thomas has put thoughts I didn't know I had until I heard them put to his amazing melody.


It may not make sense to most, but to me it is not a song about a broken relationship; but of my amazing one.  "We've tried everything.  Life seems hard enough, but maybe we ain't meant for THIS love."  To me, it is just another sign.  Maybe it is time to end one dream so that we can make room for a new one.  That mockingbird will sing.


03 August 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite!

I can't wait to have kiddos someday - flowers for the girls and bugs for the boys...all growing together.  No place to better see that then at Powell Gardens awesome BIG BUGS exhibit!

The Ants Go Marching One By One...Hoorah! Hoorah!

The Itsy Bitsy Spider


No Jiminy Crickets Here!

Fire and Water


Goin' to the Chapel

To Bee Or Not to Bee. (Look Closely!)

 
"Powell Gardens" Collection
Photos Taken: July 2010
No Editing
                                                                                                  
For more great Wordless Wednesdays and reading...check this out!

02 August 2010

Namely Coincidental

Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names.. ~Proverb

Following the recent passing of my Grandmother, Eva, I took a few days of berevement to take care of family...and most of all myself.  I had not taken any time off when my dad died, none after the auto accident and none to gather my wits after losing my job.  As selfish as that sounds, my year has just been heartbreakingly insane and has been rushing by way too fast - seemingly starting to spiral out of control and I just needed to gain back some healthy perspective; to regroup and refocus my energies.

I started to release some of the tension buried deep down to my bones with time spent floating aimlessly and repeatedly around the lazy river.  Starting the day numb and in a gray foggy daze, the fresh air and sunshine worked its magic as I began to again hear the laughter of children, feel the warmth from the hot sun wrap me up like a thick familiar beach towel, taste the saltiness of chlorine in the air and see the brilliant bright blues of sky and water all around; replacing the dark and dull blue of my mood. 

In keeping with the color theme, my husband suggested that we take in a bit more of summer with the boys in blue!  While I'm a sucker for baseball at The K, our budget barely puts us in GA.  I reluctantly agreed to splurge since I'm an even bigger sucker for fireworks and after letting go of so much lately, I thought ending things with a bang would be just the spark I needed to get things moving again. 

Bickering over which ticket line would get us in the stadium faster, we were interrupted by an "Excuse me!" from softly behind.  "Excuse me!", we heard again, growing slightly more urgent each time.  Realizing the voice was addressing us, we finally answered.  "Are you two needing tickets for the game?", a young blonde asked.  Not your typical scalper, I thought.  "I have two here in my purse that I'm not using you can have", she continued, "I'm not trying to sell anything!  The only catch is that you have to sit by us", she gestured to her equally young and cute blonde little friend.  She explained that her family owned season passes and that they were unable to join her that night. 

We took her up on her offer for the tickets and to escort us to our new and FREE seats!  We followed her past general admission...past all the yummy food courts...past the view level seats until finally we turned to walk down the stairs towards home plate - down, down some more and down even farther until an attendant stopped us before we could walk down even MORE.  I looked at our tickets (did I mention they were FREE..woohoo!) and picked my jaw up off the floor and contain my utter (and yes, BLUE COLLAR) excitement.  These seats rocked!

We got settled, offered to buy the girls their ballpark dinner and drinks as a small token of our thanks before heading back up all the million stairs to fetch the feast.  Failing to introduce ourselves sooner, I reached out my hand and asked them their names.  "Oh sorry!" the petite ticket-giver-outer squealed!  "So nice to meet you, Gina!  My name is Eva!". 

Not only did she not run away when I rushed back through the isle, tripping over my own two feet to give her a big hug; she genuinely hugged me tightly back.


The night was perfect, the company the best, the Royals won and the fireworks reignited my soul.  Thanks Grandma!

25 July 2010

The Last One Standing

I am an only child.

While being so is a topic for discussion in itself, it's just the beginning of how alone I feel today.  I am the last one standing, you see.  The last of the Hughes family - of our little clan anyway.  When my grandmother left this earth on Saturday, she did so to join the rest of them in heaven; her grandson, her husband and her two sons.  

I had a brother once.  He lived for two days when I was three years old.  I remember being excited and preparing for the new baby by practicing with my dolls as any good big sister-to-be does; slinging them around carelessly by one arm and wrapping them up so tightly in a blanket they were sure to suffocate.  His name was Jeffrey.  I lay babies breath on his grave each year and can't wait to meet him someday.

 My grandfather was a kind man who was soft spoken and laughed much.  He sang gospel in a tenor voice that would make birds stop to listen.  He battled weight and complications with diabetes until he lost the war when I was nine.

My uncle was an absolute blast.  Forever young, incredibly handsome and always rebellious, he was full of funny character and life.  Still an ornery little boy when my parents met, he made an annoyance of his pesky self on their dates together.  My mother once told her future mother-in-law, "If I ever had a child like that....!" to which was replied back to her, "Be careful what you are wishing for!".  Four years later I was born - the spitting image and personality of my uncle.  He was snatched from us as a result of a motorcycle wreck when I was nineteen.  His body tried to hang on for a few weeks after that fateful accident, but his brain and spirit were already gone.  My grandmother was forced to make the impossible decision of "pulling the plug".  In taking one life, they both gave it to so many others by donating organs through the Midwest Transplant Network.  Truly a selfless gift that lives on still today.

My father passed away just seven months ago.  He was a complicated contradiction between being the life of the party and withdrawing into his own cavernous self; the sociable guy that others wanted to be around vs. the introvert that would rather shut out the world in his basement by drowning it all out with headphones or watch a movie alone in the darkness.  He was smart; dictionary freakshow smart.  He was a collector of all things.  All things were of interest to him.  He knew everything there was to know about nothing at all.  I loved to visit my dad and marvel at his 'stuff'.  As I grew up we grew apart, probably because we are so much alike.  My dad was a lymphoma survivor and an over-comer of addictions; strong man in body, mind, opinions and convictions.  The treatment required to save his life in one decade had made him weak for the next.  Before he died he had made amends with most - including me.  He died in peace.  

Since that time, my grandma had just grown weary.  She had taken medicine to get her through her grief that reacted poorly with her body.  As toxins filled her blood she had frequent talks with her boys.  She missed them fiercely and cursed the fate that had left her behind.  She had me.  She had her husband of 35 years, my step-grandfather.  She loved us both.  But she was called home.  I am happy that she is finally happy.  That was my reaction after the initial shock and tears as I got the news after work, alone in the parking lot on Friday.  An odd and almost inappropriate laughter came over me - hysteria had taken over maybe - delirium.  But I could picture them all together again like a snapshot of bygone days.  They are all now together in spirit and in body, laid to rest together in the family plot cemetery.

I am sad that I was unable to have a baby of my own before they were gone.  That would have made them all so happy.  It's all my grandma talked about!  But maybe with all those angels in heaven looking down on me - my purpose will definitely soon be revealed.  Maybe in being the last one standing now, it is only to make me appreciate what is to come even more.  I can't wait to find out!  And when that plan is revealed, I will surely be laughing like crazy as tears of joy overcome me; and the warm love of family will surround me again.

20 July 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Bark is Bigger

...but JUST IN CASE!...

One of my best friends came to visit and stay with me for a week.  The Furbaby was not so thrilled with her new accessory!
"Bark is Bigger" 
Photo Taken:  9 July 2010
No Editing.

Triple Threat

When you are desperately trying to have a child, just ONE child...it seems like everyone else is accomplishing what you cannot.  Let alone endure those who have having multiples!  What a nerve wracking blessing.  

So was my Saturday...


...and honestly, it was fine.

I was fine.

I am fine! 

19 July 2010

My Skewed Perception of Inception

I just saw "Inception".   

This is my kind of flick; "The Matrix" meets "Romeo and Juliet" of sorts that suddenly swan dives into the subconscious with mind-bending and soul-bearing power.  What does this have to do with babies and my journey thereof?  Maybe it's in the realm between reality and dreams - but it moved me in a way I can't stop thinking about.  I'm also pretty sure I was the only one leaving the theater in utter tears!

The main character was trapped.  Trapped in a life of running, trapped within his own mind and trapped in the past.  The thing that set him free and kept him alive (in one dimension or another anyway) was a memory of his children.  They were the light that guided him through all the darkness as he fought to find his way back to them.  We are unable to see their sweet faces throughout the film as a reflection of what their father is able to recall.  We find out later that there is a pivotal moment that could have provided closure and a better snapshot of this memory.  It turns out to be his biggest regret.  To know the moment you made a wrong choice - a choice that you will regret for the rest of your life; the combination of themes (out of SO many in the movie) was on that tugs at my heart.

I found myself also searching for those tow-headed fictional children on the big screen; for their light and for my purpose. 

10 July 2010

Just One ("Woven In Prayer" - Part II)

I got to have lunch with The Wicker Chair Lady today!

This is what my husband so obliviously calls her from his distance.  Her husband teases that it was our personal ads date.  Men (I say shaking my head with an affectionate smile).

If you have ever responded to a seller on Craigslist via email, you can appreciate the fact that the subject line pre-populates with the description of the original posting.  Our first correspondences were titled "2 Wicker Chairs - $50 (Lees Summit)".  We then progressed to weeks of a shortened "Wicker Chairs".  I sent one today with the subject "Lunch Today and Video Recap".  I loved the response I got back, so pointedly stated, "We are no longer under the subject of Wicker Chairs.  We have moved on."  

I couldn't have expressed it better myself. 

So lunch was fun and delish as we ventured out a local (and now infamous FoodNetwork) hangout, sampling their smoked salmon and caper pizza.  YUM-O!  Conversation was again easy.  Time flew by.  Three and a half hours later I was full of information, support and options and ideas I hadn't thought of before.  And a new friend. 

"Just One" is the message of this heartfelt video campaign for The Adoption Resource Foundation.  My new friend has been a board member in the past and her husband holds a position currently.  They are both great resources for support - and one of the couples who shared their personal story in the following promo.

Please reach out for more information, either through me: gmreuscher@yahoo.com or click to contact the ARF directly.

07 July 2010

Wordless Wednesday - The Painted Orchid

"When the emotions are strong one should paint bamboo; in a light mood one should paint the orchid."
~ Chueh Yin 

My first thought upon seeing this airbrushed orchid at The City Market was "how dare they!".  I am a purist at heart and thought it may have cheapened the luxury of the perfect blossom.  But it was gorgeous all the same; soft and provocative and AMERICAN (just like me!?!..LOL).  I hope you enjoy!


"The Painted Orchid" 
Photo Taken:  3 July 2010
Edited in Photo Explosion" Eliminate background and diffuse glow.

For more great Wordless Wednesdays and Reading!

04 July 2010

Happy Birthday, USA

I heard someone say just the other day, "There are only two people who will sacrifice their life for you; GOD and an American Soldier."   That gave me an amazing feeling of peace and blessings.  I hope the same to you!

From my front porch to yours:  Have a BLAST this 4th of July!

02 July 2010

B is for BABY (and an unrelated FLIP OFF!)

I got this adorable thank you card from my husband's cousin about to pop in Florida.  It was so cute I had to share!  I'm pretty sure she had no idea it fit my blog theme so well - but I like to think it is JUST for me ;)  THANKS for the THANK YOU! 

Now onto my rant...

When you are trying to have a baby - EVERYBODY else is pregnant but you.  It's like when you buy a new car and then realize that EVERYBODY else drives exactly that same one the first time you take it out. 

Of course I am happy for those women.  But my own stomach churns with envy.  Then I just feel guilty for being jealous.  

So today, I am joining in my first FRIDAY FLIP-OFF.  

BIG THANKS to KludgyMom for cracking me UP..and for Honesty for leading me to her FFs!

1.  BIG F-ing FLIP OFF to MYSELF for being such a lame-o when it comes to the above.

2.  Flip the Flip OFF to losing my F-ing job this week.  What the FREAK?!??!!

3.  Here's a big one to the hubby.  That's right.  You FLIPPIN' FLIP - for going to finish your tattoo..and for taking a 1/2 day off...and for going to play golf with your buddies last week and again this week.  Who's your new sugar momma, dude?!?!?  All the while my closet doors are still not hung and the trim on my siding is still tripping me in the garage! 

4. And lastly, FLIP OFF to gray hair.  Course and crazy and with a mind of its own.  You don't even FLIP yourself anymore - all limp and dried up.  You have disappointed me with your unruly behavior and for taking over the rest of my head.  YOU are fired next - I will replace you with a new brilliant color from a box...and a new blingy hat!

AHHHHHHHHH.
That felt GOOD!

01 July 2010

"Just Ducky"

~ Proverb quotes

But what if your duck...well, what if it CLUCKS instead?


(I think that might just be the title and them of my next Children's Book, by the way...what do you think!??!)

...and now with the rest of the story... 

I woke up late Sunday morning.  The weather was incredible and my cardinals were bickering playfully in the tree outside my front porch, but I was still in a fog and my own chirp was not so perky!  I was in need of cheering up.  Luckily, I remembered that I had just began subscribing to our local newspaper and today was the first day of it's delivery.  I LOVE the Sunday paper; stuffed full of colorful comics, sale ads, specialty magazines and coupons (oh yeah...and the actual news, I suppose).  I shuffled out in my PJs to retrieve it and sat in my new wicker chair to sort through the treasure chest when I stumbled across a last minute announcement that caught my eye:

Now I don't know about you, but rubber duckies are my absolute favorite childhood bath time toy. Any time Ernie would sing about making his way to the tubbie I would go get my cute-n-yella-n-chubbie little friend to sing along!  So bright and squeaky with big-lashed eyes and toothy smiling beaks - how can that NOT cheer me up?  

I wish I would have better planned my weekend so that I could have promoted it beforehand.  Besides all the clever little connections and quips in my head now, I found out when I got there just what a great cause it is.  My spirits were not only lifted by the sound of laughing children playing in the moon walks or the sight of colorful kid-art on the sidewalks made from homemade chalk (not to mention the yummy local Boulevard Wheat for us big kids!), but by the organization that benefit from the proceeds:


 Children's TLC was founded by a group of volunteers who were ahead of their time; caring and preparing nursery school kiddos with Cerebral Palsy for formal school, based on feedback gathered by public school teachers.  It has since expanded and formed fantastic alliances with establishments like Children's Mercy Hospital and the YMCA, but maintains its focus of providing education and therapy assistance to those children and their families, both able and disabled, regardless of their financial or other circumstance.  We often remember to donate to charities that help cover the financial cost of the physical and emotional care of a child in need, but I hadn't thought of the importance of what the CTLC does before!  How inspiring!

So I found a good location to watch the race - a bird's eye view, if you will...



...plunked my racing duck #088029 into the big cage.  The countdown began...


...and they were off!...


...while we did not win the coveted million dollar prize, we sure did have a fantastic day.



So what do you do if your duck clucks instead of quacks?  You pluck yourself up and just keep clucking!  Because that's what makes it, and  you, unique and special.  You flock to those that will cluck right along with you.  Because that's what makes you belong.  You still walk (or waddle) and look like a duck.  You are still a duck!


...and occasionally - just once in a pink moon...you even let a QUACK in once in awhile!

30 June 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Just Duckie!

"If it walks like a duck....."
Find out the story behind the photo (and the rest of the quote) in tomorrow's edition!



"JUST DUCKY"
Photo Taken: 27 June 2010
Edited in  Photo Explosion: Watercolors

For more great Wordless Wednesdays and Reading.

28 June 2010

Pink Moon (Part I) - The Song

I first heard the ballad, "Pink Moon", as a child.  Not having any idea who sang it or what it was about, it was more like a lullaby to me (my lullaby)...drifting off to sleep to the almost folk rhythms of "pink, pink, pink, pink...pink moon"; driving me through soft curves and quiet nights into all things magical and delightful - and pink.

You see, I grew up with my mother.  She would sit and play beautiful music with her own fingers on an old and out-of-tune piano; her strong voice belting out old hymns and maybe a random Barry Manilow or Carpenters tune.  But my exposure to the outside world of music and to the radio was limited.  Rock music was not allowed and there was certainly never a spontaneous explosion of dance for sure!  Not inside the home anyway.  Not in front of me.

My father, on the other hand, was a bit of a music buff - or better described, he was obsessed.  He appreciated every style and artist and era.  Coming by it naturally, his father sang with an amazing tenor voice in a gospel quartet that gained local popularity after recording their first (and only) single.  The last gift my dad gave his mother before passing was a more permanent CD of the one-hit-wonder converted from the worn and scratched 45 that she held so dear.  I heard it once.  I can still hear it if I close my eyes and listen close with my heart.

During biweekly visitations with my dad, he would often withdraw into his own homemade studio; mixing eight tracks and tapes long into the night.  He would strum along with his generic department store guitar and sing when the mood struck, sometimes teaching me a few note, but always letting me howl (off key) right along with him until I grew tired.  I would often fake getting sleepy so that he would pick me up and swirl me into a waltz or walk me to bed in a two-step.  Once there, he would quiet the music to something more soothing.  "Pink Moon" was my favorite.

I'm honestly not sure if that is the truth or fiction.  It is simply what I know in my head and how my memory serves.  As with many recollections of childhood and especially in regards to those we love and were estranged, fantasy or wishful thinking can sometimes replace reality.  I am OK with this one.  I had forgotten all about this particular story until a few years ago when Volkswagen used "Pink Moon" in one of their commercials.  Rather than fast forward through the DVR, I sat frozen in time as my mind flashed back to those precious moments - tears and longing streaming down my face.  


I hope you enjoy the new music on my page.  Thank you for taking this ride down memory lane with me.  I hope it makes you feel soft and magical and delightful - and pink.

25 June 2010

Project Baby Has Been Terminated

I lost my job.

Just like that.  Cutbacks. 

I got the call and was given notice with reasons and some other words said, but I didn't really catch it all.  My brain immediately went to, "Project Baby Has Been Termninated" - and stopped.

I have worked from home for this particular company for 4 1/2 years.  It was an honor to be recruited by the CEO; hand-picked out of a vast crowd of online advertising professionals.  I fell into the industry 7 years prior when I had made the decision to seek out a job that inspired me.  I stumbled across a new local start-up that was expanding at an incredible rate.  I applied for a customer service position through an online job listing.  The internet was still in its infancy and keyword cataloging for search had not yet been fully developed, but my research on the business and its owner pulled news articles from coast to coast. He was apparently kind-of a big deal!  His success started while still in high school as the creator of an entertainment gaming website, driving more traffic to it through this wild and untamed frontier of the worldwide web than any other.  I interviewed with the young owner/entrepreneur at a Starbucks as the offices were still under construction.  While I am no genius, I could grasp the concepts and the mind blowing potential they held - and I was excited.

I was quickly promoted and continued to move both upwards and laterally and through a strategic company split 4 times, soaking up experience and knowledge into all aspects of the business.  I thrived in the collaborative work environment where I met some of my favorite friends and worked side-by-side with some of the top developers and forward thinkers known still today in the space.  Technological advancements and the evolution of the online space was, and continues to be, flying at the speed of light.  I now find myself having to clamor to stay in the game.

As with most job decisions, there comes a time when you hit a crossroads.  I was there.  Through management changes and company restructuring, I found myself alone, unhappy with my surroundings and restless to focus on simple things; things of the heart and the home.  My husband had returned to school after finally deciding on a career change himself, which left me tethered to my job as the bread winner. The Biological Clock Beast had, again, reared its ugly head.  I was good at my job but was dying to get out.  So I did.

There came a time that I had to replace it.  I loved my new one!  No more long daily commute, no more corporate BS or micro-managing!  I got to attend trade-shows again, some in cities I had never been!   I really LIKED who I was working for and with and was again inspired by the opportunity to seek new clients with an expanded base of services from which I could provide.  I am a hard worker and doing so from home actually made me MORE job-obsessed and more productive than being in an office full of distractions.  I consistently aimed high to meet and exceed not only my own personal sales goals, but also the core values of our performance review even before we had  them.  The personal sacrifices I made were great and I never took any of the minimum days allowed to heal from trauma or illness and not once even ate up my vacation days to the fullest (hindsight tells me unfortunately so).

I was again promoted through some regrettable turnover; however, it felt good that my peers had 'nominated' me to do so.  It felt even better that my boss agreed and was thrilled that I was interested.  I had my work cut out for me as the failing economy was starting to reflect on our business in so many ways and for so many reasons.  When times got tough I remained optimistic and flexible...even offering to cut my own salary in half for the benefit of the bigger picture.  My proposal was denied.  I had a great team and got to hire one more that remains as an asset to the company.  The others are no longer there for one reason or another.  The company has restructured.  It wasn't enough.  I am out.

I feel betrayed.  A bit lost.  A lot confused. 

I am a believer that all things happen for a reason.  I can't see it now.  I hope I do soon.

24 June 2010

"Woven in Prayer" - Part One

My quaint old house faces a busy side street with a covered porch nestled within the long arms of a maple tree.  It's character weathered by time as it bravely looks out over the ever-changing world atop a secluded little hill.  My husband has plans to enclose a portion of the area to create a formal foyer inside.  But until then, MY plans are to create a quiet and welcoming spot to greet friends, watch birds and read the morning paper - anything that will fill the large, cold and cracked concrete vacancy. 


When I was a young girl, I often thought I had been born into the wrong era.  Even into my teen years, I collected things that would today be flea market treasures and surrounded myself with what they now call shabby chic decor.  My style had less to do with a lack of fashion or design sense, but more out of love for all things Victorian in look and feel.  Fine linens and floral china patterns, soft colors and airy ferns - even hair bound into a loose Gibson.  Thank goodness it was the 80's and those awful doily collars WERE in style!

...but I never got my wicker chair...

I had wanted one; high in back and painted white.  A place to throw a few pillows that I had stitched out of Granny's old hankies or curl up with a good book and a tattered quilt from the hope chest.  A symbol of solitude and protection to me - of a simpler time.  That is just what my front porch needed now!  In this age of blinding internet speed, I looked towards the first place I knew to hunt one down, Craigslist of course.  My initial search came up empty with sets that were too modern or too far away or too...something.  I just wasn't feeling it.  So I continued my day as usual, not giving the subject much more thought.  

I typically take a break at lunchtime to walk my dog and clear my head.  It is during this time that I focus not only on the task at hand, but on private meditation that may turn into informal prayer.  My talks with God have been more like requests lately when it comes to "the baby thing"; asking for an open mind into new opportunities, wide eyes to recognize one when it is right in front of me and for a prepared heart into the unknown - and for peace.  Such was my prayer that day. 

At the end of my work day, I felt rushed to get it all wrapped up so I could head out and catch my nephew's baseball game.  It was sunny and I had been missing the kiddos!  As I started to fly out the door I halted to run back and grab the cell phone I had forgotten still charging in the office; waving a "just a second!" hand at my impatient husband who was revving up the engine and waiting for me in the driveway.  I grabbed the phone and glanced at the computer left open on the desk.  The wicker chair flashed in my head.  "Oh, I'll just check once more", I thought.  

There...on the very top listing, just posted a few minutes before, was not ONE chair but TWO!  Painted an updated brown, adorned with tastefully simple cushions, at the right price and close-ish to home.  Like a cat on a mouse, I pounced; not only emailing but calling as well - afraid I would miss my chance to snag them if I didn't harass the poor sellers.  Never once did it cross my mind that it might be a scam or that I might need to be careful for weirdos - I wanted those chairs darnnit!  The next day, I was making arrangements to pick up MY 'new' wicker chairs.

The story ends there, right?  Not so fast.

My drive to claim the bounty was about 45 minutes - plenty of time for wandering thoughts and more talks to myself and to God.  I felt blessed to have healed from so much going on lately, that my elders that recently landed in the hospital were also on their way to recovery and that things at work were starting to stabilize again - and that my house was REALLY starting to feel like home.  The urge to nest was returning and I embraced it.

I arrived at the sellers' home.  It was warm and welcoming with a cute wreath on the door.  I rang the bell and was greeted by the woman-of-the-house, tall and slender with the auburn hair I have always envied.  I was graciously received inside where her husband led us all down to finalize the sale.  Conversation was easy and I didn't lift a finger as the goods were loaded and strapped up for me in the back of the truck.  I had enjoyed the process and was happy to have 'clicked' with this charming couple.  Off I went.

More time for my thoughts to meander as I drove back home.  I found myself recalling the details of the couple's newly finished basement and appreciating the decor - paying special attention to the landing at the foot of the stairs where children had been playing with a toy car track of some kind.  They had mentioned two children, young but not babies, a few years apart.  What an absolute charming family.  I silently wished them well.  

Once home, I couldn't wait to set up my front porch!  I had purchased a large outdoor rug to cover up the barren and damaged concrete slab.  I was afraid that the double package would be too large, but they fit perfectly, looking like they had always been there - like they belonged.  A side table and a potted flower later...and WHAM!...instant cozy completeness!  It felt like a peaceful little sanctuary.  



I had some work to complete, so headed back to my laptop.  Just then an email popped up from the mother whom had found a new home for her wicker chairs, checking to make sure I had made it back without blowing away.  I responded and couldn't resist including a quick snapshot of the new digs.  I finished up the loose ends that had taken me back to my office and closed it down for the weekend ahead; throughout which I told everybody who cared (and I'm sure some that didn't) about my little story and the nice little family I got to meet. 

When I returned to get a head start and clean out junk emails from my work email account on Sunday night, I saw that I had missed a few from the seller.  She had followed-up with a quick inquiry about my blog and "the baby thing", apologizing if she had crossed the line and adding that her interest was peaked not out of some weird nosiness, but from experience and wanted to offer any help if she could be of any resource to me.  You see, her children are adopted.

Little could I have ever conceived on my own that my childhood desire for a woven symbol of refuge would turn into a present-day obsession to fill a tangible void.  An indirect answer to prayers?  The start of something bigger to which I am being prepped?  Or just a far-fetched coincidence and an over-emotional heart and an over-imaginative brain.

I have a feeling this is not the end of The Wicker Chairs Story, do you?
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