Monday, February 27, 2012

Couch Jumpin'

Yesterday, I was overjoyed to spend 5 hours in a photography class learning ways to improve my photography and getting to know my camera better.  Nerd alert:  I sat on the second row and soaked up every bit of information thrown at me.  It was an absolute blessing and I left more motivated than ever to continue along on this photography journey.  So, today I am trying out some of the tricks we discussed during class.  One of the trickiest photography settings is indoor incandescent light with lots of motion, like your 5 year old jumping on the couch.  The camera has to be set just right and finding a good light source is key to capturing these shots without them turning out blurry or out of focus.  So I pumped up my ISO and changed the white balance for these pics.  These two actions allowed me to capture the motion.  Fun, fun, fun! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Party Time!

Our spunky girl turned 5 this week!  I will admit that my heart is heavy with growing pains.  The last 5 years have gone too fast.  I can't even remember many of the days.  They have faded away like vapor.  Like clouds floating through the sky they have floated on far away and I am left with memories.  But if I am really honest, the memories are fleeting too.  In the midst of the days I thought I would always remember.  That it would be impossible for me to forget all the funny things she said or the all the things she did. I thought I would have those moments forever but they do fade.  And I am left with some sadness that she will never do or say those things again.

 I am reminded of the book by Karen Kingsbury,  Let Me Hold You Longer.  In my opinion, every mother should be given this book upon their child's birth, because in the midst of all the tough early days with your new child you don't realize that very soon all the things you have come to know will have a last time.  We have already hit many of those lasts with our girl and that tears me up inside, because she is growing up and will move away sooner than I could hope for.  Tonight when I tucked her in she said she wanted to still live with me even when she was grown up and married.  I told her that I would love that and that she absolutely could. 

And I meant it.  In fact, that very thought makes me happy.  Because then, she wouldn't ever really leave and I could hold her longer. 

I'll end with a small piece from Karen's book and an answer to her question. 

Long ago you came to me;
a miracle of firsts;
First smiles and teeth and baby steps,
a sunbeam on the burst.
But one day you will move away
and leave to me your past,
And I will be left thinking of
a lifetime of your lasts  . . . .

The last time that I held a bottle
to your baby lips.
The last time that I lifted you
and held you on my hip.

The last night when you woke up crying,
needing to be walked,
When last you crawled up with your blanket,
wanting to be rocked.
The last time when you ran to me,
still small enough to hold.
The last time that you said you'd marry
me when you grew old.

Precious, simple moments and
bright flashes from your past ---
Would I have held you longer if
I'd known they were your last?

YES. I would have held her longer. tighter. stronger. Let me hold on longer, God, to every precious last.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Number 5

So, it is no secret that I love chalkboards.  In fact, I have an entire board dedicated to them on pinterest.  They are so fun and provide a fresh slate for words of inspiration, silly drawings and many other numerous writings.  Someday, I hope to have one in every room of our house.  I'm actually narrowing in on that goal, which is exciting!  A few weeks back, I bought an old painting at Goodwill, which happens to be my favorite medium for making a quick chalkboard.  Then, however, I left it out in the rain, which I was sure had ruined the frame and canvas.  Luckily, after a week or so, it dried out nicely and is just a tad warped.  I decided to use it anyway, just for decor purposes.  It could never withstand our kiddos writing and erasing on it.  But, here it is all decorated for our girl's fifth birthday.  Lovely!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Hudson!

The best thing about me learning more about photography is that I get to "practice" my love on some of my favorite people.  This week I was so blessed to photograph our nephew who turned the BIG O-N-E!  Hudson is my brother Blake and sister-in-law Nicole's sweet first born.  He is a beautiful creation of God's love and I just can't squeeze him enough.  His momma and grandma came to town so we could play around a bit.  Here are a few of the pictures we came up with.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Our Love Jars

As we gear up for Valentine's day at our house, I was happy to find this idea on the Better Homes and Gardens website.  I pinned it so I would not forget and we finally got it all set up tonight.  The original idea was more of a gift to give.  It was a jar filled with reasons why you love the recipient of the gift.  I liked that idea but decided that we would spin it a bit and make a jar for each family member (except Big Daddy and I are sharing).   For the next few days, we can add sweet reasons we love each other as they come to mind.  Sometimes I feel pressure in sitting down at one time to complete heartfelt notes to my loved ones.  However, if given a few days I can meditate on each person and all of the reasons I love them.  We sat the jars on our dining table and plan to share them on Tuesday evening. 

How will you love on your blessings this year?

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love does not envy or boast
Love is not proud or arrogant
Love is not rude
Love is not selfish
Love is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs
Love bears all things
Love believes all things
Love hopes all things
Love endures all things
Love does not delight with evil, but rejoices with truth
Love NEVER ends

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Last Goodbye

Today, there is one memory that hits hard.  I don't know why it is even on my mind other than the fact that the shock has worn completely off and I am now thinking and feeling like crazy!  My mind is often flooded with thoughts of the week after my mother's death.   I couldn't think of that period of time before without falling apart but God is allowing me to think of it now, and process, and grieve.   

There are certain things in this life you just don't imagine yourself doing.  You can't picture yourself doing them because they just don't seem possible.  This was and really still is the case for me as I think of the day we buried my mother's ashes in a quiet country cemetery in New Baden, Texas.  After the service, my brother Blake and I stayed behind.  I don't think that either of us woke that morning thinking that today would be the day that we would pour dirt on the small black box that held our mother's ashes.  I don't know who I thought would have that job but I didn't think it would be me.  However, at some point during the service we both  decided that we wanted to be the one's to last see the box, to put the first and the last bit of dirt on her. 

My husband stayed for a bit too.  I sat down in front of her headstone and watched as my brother began slowly pushing shovels of dirt into the hole.  It seemed the whole world was silent during those moments.  Silent except for  the sound of the shovel scraping the earth.  Picking up the dirt.  Echoed by the sound of the dirt falling into the hole.  I remember thinking how loyal and strong my brother was for doing this.  How amazed that he was able to complete the last task in the send-off. 

When he was done he sat down beside me on the dirt and grass and we stared at the headstone with our mother's name on it for what seemed like an eternity.  It was one of those moments described as time standing still.  We were  held there. In that very moment.  It was something that I never thought the two of us would do.  It didn't seem in the realm of possibilities for our lives.  In all of my wildest ideas, thoughts or visions I never saw us sitting together, two young adults held together by our mother's love wondering in a way, what do we do now.

 In many ways, I have held this time and this memory close to my heart.  While, before that day I could never have imagined being the ones to fill the hole, I am now grateful to have been there with my brother. . . .and my mother.  For me, it was our last moment together.  The three of us. 

It may be the last time we are all together on this earth.  I have not been back to the cemetery since.  I am sure that some day I will go again but for now  I just can't.  So, for now, I will hold onto that beautiful day in October when my brother and I sat on the dry Texas earth and said goodbye to our mother.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Highs & Lows

Just as the title implies, it has been a week of both highs and lows with a few "ahh haa" moments along the way.  A high for me this week was that I completed my first ever totally sewn by me article of clothing.  My sweet friend Rachel agreed to walk me through the process from pattern to last hem.  When I sewed that last stitch and looked at the cute little dress I had just sewn for our girl I was down right joyful!  I have always wanted to learn to sew.  I have fumbled my way through curtain panels, adding ruffles to aprons, and making simple pillows but I have always been afraid of following a pattern.  Every time I try to read one confusion sets in and I don't know how to proceed.  So, having Rachel there to talk me through the entire process was exactly what I needed to finally do it! 

This sweet victory was a high and a low for me.  Let me explain.  Back in August when our boy started school my mother and I had decided this would be the fall we would finally sew together.  She had tried many times before to teach me but I just did not have the motivation.  Then when I became a mother I had instant motivation to sew things for our children however, it was at that time that we moved 3 states away so sewing together was impossible. 

But this fall, this fall was going to be the time!  It was finally going to happen and I was so excited to finally learn from my mother. I had great impressions of wonderful girl time as we sewed together.  Our girl was going to come along too so I had a vision of generational sewing, passing the skill on and laughing together throughout it all.  So, you can see that while completing my first project was a major high for me it certainly brought with it a painful reminder that my mother didn't get to experience that moment. 

But then, came the "ahh haa" and I shared this with Rachel yesterday, my mother would be happy.  She would be proud that I had finally done it and she would want me to keep going.  A few months ago under the urging of my stepfather I brought my mother's sewing machine home with me.  It is a nice machine.  A Janome.  Like 1,000 times better than my $89.00 Singer.  I didn't want to take it at first.  I knew I wanted it but somehow taking it from her home just didn't seem right.  As we carried it out of her house I also carried a brick in my heart.  We put the machine in the garage and I knew that someday I would get it out of the box but not that day.  Well, last night I decided to get the machine out.  It is the same machine that I used at Rachel's house so I knew I wanted to sew on it versus my old Singer that has never been oiled, adjusted or cleaned.  I went to the garage and got it off the shelf.  As I did, I felt the wave of grief begin.  I carried it into the house and put it on the table in our all purpose area and the wave felt a bit stronger.  I laid the box on it's side and pulled the machine ever so carefully from the box.  The feeling in my chest intensified but I continued on unwrapping the cords and plugging it in. 

Then, I sat down behind it and looked it over.  I opened the little compartment on the front that housed her seam ripper, extra foots and bobbins and then I put my hands over my eyes and I sobbed.  It was like I was touching her very heart beat.  My mother was an incredibly talented quilter and seamstress.  She was creative and sewed with a joyful heart.  I remember all those trips to the fabric stores together where I would stand in awe of her, in her element picking out fabrics and putting it all together in her mind.  I would think that if someday I could do half of what she did I would be satisfied. 

Feeling her heartbeat, her very essence made me deeply miss her.  I really don't even know how to describe those feelings.  I don't sit there crying thinking, "I miss my mother.  I miss my mother."  But, I do sit thinking of her, just her, and feeling crushed in spirit because I can't see her or be with her now. 

I cried two other times this week.  Both were during phone conversations with amazing ladies.  The first was early this week when my best gal Dedra called to check on me.  I am so thankful that I have Dedra to check on me.  She listens and she always validates my feelings while giving sound advice. She has experienced loss in this life and knows how this feels. It is always talking to those people who knew my mother deeply that hurts the most.  I guess we can feel each other's grief and that kind of intensifies the feeling, but it is also SO good to share that grief together.  It is good to share with someone who loved my mother as much as I did.  Someone who shared special memories with her, like I did.  The hard part about those conversations is that I expect my mother to be a part of them.  The day after my mother died Dedra's mother came to see me.  She and my mother were the best of friends and many times the four of us girls had gotten together to spend weekends in girl time.  I was so happy to see her that day yet it was more than strange that my mother was not sitting beside her as we talked.  There was a huge piece of the puzzle missing.  We were not complete. 

I also cried Friday afternoon when my sister-in-law called.  We had not talked in a while.  Life gets crazy busy and we neglect to get on the phone so I was so happy to hear her voice.  We talked for a bit about general stuff and then I shared with her some of my grief struggles.  Jodie has also experienced the loss of a parent.  She knows how I feel too. It was so good to talk to someone who listened and offered the "you are not crazy" perspective.  She shared encouraging words and I felt better just getting some of my thoughts out.  Towards the end of the conversation she said, "Crystal, I love you and I am so sorry you are going through this."  I can't tell you how it felt to hear those words.  They were like honey.  Sweet, thoughtful and kind.  And, they made me cry.  I think they are words that I needed to hear.  In many ways, people have been sharing these words in actions and kind gestures towards me but actually hearing someone say that, "they love me and are sorry I am fighting a battle each day" was music to my heart and ears.  This was a high!

This morning I am crying again.  As I type this post and reflect on this week the tears are rollin'.  I know it is going to be a wear my sunglasses to hide my puffy eyes kind of day.  But, I know that with the low I am feeling now a high is wrapped somewhere within and will come along just when I need it, be it a phone call or fond memory or hug from one of my crew.  Too bad today is overcast and rainy in Texas.  I am really going to stick out like a sore thumb with my sunglasses on.  : )

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ben's List

Last Friday our boy was home sick with pink eye.  He did not want to waste his day and certainly I was thankful for that.  Without prompting, he said he wanted to make a list of all the things he would  do during the day.  An itinerary of sorts.  A plan.  I love that! He came up with quite a list and essentially got in his spelling, writing and reading practice for the day.  There are a few items on his list that make me giggle.  I also love his inventive spelling of some of the words.  This little list will go in his keepsake box.  It is just too good!

Here is the decoded version:
1. Take medicine (very important)
2. play
3. art
4. play cars
5. play together (with his sister.  sharing that pink eye germ)
6. DVD players
7. Lunch
8. I touch
9. snack
10. visit Daddy (when he got home from work)
11. play computer
12. TV
13. eat apple
14. play outside
15. pray to God

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pink eye project

This morning our girl woke up looking like this. 

The dreaded pink eye that her brother battled late last week had finally struck.  I thought we were going to get lucky this time as it had been several days since BBP had been free and clear of that nasty little germ.  I guess we still held it somewhere here in our house.  So this sweetly named germ kept us girls at home today.  That did give me time to try my hand at making a valentine dress for our girl.  My friend Rachel kindly walked me through every step of making this dress last week so I felt pretty good about giving it a go on my own.  I did call her once to ask a question about the length but then I went for it and within a few hours had this finished product. 

The colors are especially appealing to me.  I love pink, grey and green.  I think our girl likes it too.  It matches her eyes.  : )

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Valentine Cards

Here are two options for the kid's valentines.  I am working on a few more but I like how these turned out.  I really wanted the words to go nicely with the picture and that is hard.  Clever wording is a gift, for sure!

Simple, yet personalized.  Do you have your valentines ready, friends?

Hippy Chick

she is life, she is love, she is spunk, she is energy, she is laughter, she is joy