Friday, February 28, 2014

Capturing my Magical Memories

We love all things Disney. This post is a little different than my normal post, because I want to lay out a project concept I will be working on in 2014 and will be sharing bits and pieces of along the way. I call my project idea My Magical Memories. Ready? Grab a cup of coffee and get ready to dive in to all things mouse.

We have gone on three Disney cruises and have been to the Florida parks 5 times, with two short trips to California. I have 2 cruises scrapped chronologically and only 2 of the 7 trips scrapped. The two park trips that are scrapped are done CM style, in chronological fashion, one album per trip.  {Which beg me to undo them and redo them in my non-CM style….}

And my one cruise that is done is in a WRMK 3-ring and it’s really the only Disney work I’ve done that I love. I used my beloved Scrapbook Generation sketches on it and the Little Yellow Bicycle Traveler line throughout. I have it all photographed, but they are a little blurry and I’ve never re-photographed them. So, you probably have never “seen” any pictures of it. I plan to re-shoot it soon and will post it eventually.

Because I am “so behind” on the stories of this place we love so much, and because I know we will only continue to go, and I will only continue to “stay behind” -- because I actually work full-time -- I decided to step back and evaluate what I wanted to do! The sheer thought of scrapping so many trips in the standard “this is my whole trip kind of album” is somewhat overwhelming!! Also, how many layouts do you actually need that highlight Cinderella’s Castle? Or better yet – how do you tell the story of why you love to eat at Harbor House if you scrap trip by trip, chrono? And that is why so much of my Disney trips are undone, my lovely photos are not scrapped, and my magical stories are untold.

So, while I waited for Simple Stories' Say Cheese line to release in 2013, and as I thought about all of our trips and all the photos I love that are untouched, and all the magical stories that long to be told, I had a light bulb moment. An AHA! I needed to take my Stacy Julian (SJ) Library of Memories (LOM) concept and apply it to Disney!!

If you are unfamiliar with SJ’s LOM concept, let me briefly explain it. Stacy scraps on a story-driven mode. She loves to compare and contrast. She loves to have an idea and be able to run with it – and find pictures to support it. She does not scrap chronologically.

{Insert a big nod here to her life-changing, to me, book – The Big Picture. If you have ever read this book, she explains why she scraps the way she does here. That book spawned another book, Photo Freedom. The books spawned her online class Library of Memories at Big Picture Classes. As Stacy says, HUGE. Her idea was huge. Yes, I love her.}

As Stacy scraps, she makes layouts about whatever she wants, and then she slips them into her LOM. Her categories: All About Us (her husband and herself and their children), People We Love (extended family, friends, pop culture crushes like Mr. Rogers, etc.), Things We Do (hobbies, extracurricular activities, every day moments, holidays, traditions, celebrations) and Places We Go (Home, Near, Far). So, if she does a layout about her son Clark at 16, it goes into All About Us under her Clark tab. If she does a layout about his birthday party, it goes into Things We Do – Celebrations. With me? You kind of have to “get this” to get where I’m going with Disney.

So, as I thought about my, literally, thousands of photos, I decided this: I want to scrap my Disney trip like I SCRAP MY LIFE. I want to tell stories. I want to make connections. I want a layout about Andrew eating a Mickey Mouse ice cream at age 4 and wearing Mickey Mouse ears at age 18. I want to let my book be organic and grow as our story with Disney grows. {If you only go there once and plan never to go again, my concept probably isn’t going to work for you….} Because we go often and will continue to go, because we all love it, I want the story of our trips to reflect that. With me so far?

I am laying out my Disney Magical Memories library like this (major sections listed first and then if that section has subcategories, they are listed to the side of it) - 

  • Magic Kingdom – Main Street USA, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland 
  • Epcot – Future World, World Showcase 
  • Animal Kingdom - Africa, Asia 
  • Hollywood Studios – Sunset Blvd, Hollywood Blvd, Streets of America, Mickey Avenue 
  • Downtown Disney – this is about to redone and called Disney Springs. If it spawns into “fun map areas”, I’ll plug that into my DD section. 
  • Disneyland - Main Street USA, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland 
  • California Adventure – Paradise Pier, Golden State, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, A Bug’s Land 
  • Disney Resorts (properties we’ve stayed at) 
  • Disney Dining – stories of restaurants we’ve eaten at around the world that may not work into another section. For instance, we love to go eat at the Whispering Canyon Café at Wilderness Lodge. That’s not a park and it’s not related to staying there…. 
  • Mickey’s Best Guests – US – pictures of just each of us at the park that may not be telling the story of a ride or something we did – it may be about the year when YDS tried on every pair of ears he saw and wanted me to take his picture…or it may be about the year ODS got his abominable snowman plush because he braved Space Mountain for the first time….or pictures of them falling asleep in their Mickey nuggets at dinner when they were 3 and 4…. 
These sections are areas straight off of Disney maps. So, where your event is – or what your story relates to – is based on something at the park. That something at the park will tell you where in your Disney Magical Memories albums it would go – Cinderella’s Castle ? Fantasyland. Meeting Buzz Lightyear over by the ride? Tomorrowland. Belle’s show at Hollywood Studios? Sunset Boulevard section. Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom? Asia. Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom? Africa. Swimming at Coronado Springs? Resorts.

Now, realize, scrapping all of this takes time – as it does in life. In my own LOM of our everyday life, I started out with one album for each of Stacy’s categories, and each category has it’s own color that I picked – Us: Cobalt, People: Buttercup, Life: Red, Places: Kiwi. I now have 14 – 3 blue, 3 red, 2 yellow, 2 kiwi and then my trip albums. They have grown naturally and expanded. It’s fun to watch. It adds joy to my scrapping and it adds meaning to my stories.

So, it will take time in my Disney albums for me to get any kind of layouts to work into these sections. BUT, if I have a VISION for where I want to go, and if it is workable for me, then it’s exciting!!

My plan: to go through my pictures and print the ones I want to scrap. Then, I will sort them into the above categories and begin scrapping that way. If you have never scrapped “across time”, you will love it. I truly think you will love it. “Across time” means taking two pictures that relate to one another that were not taken in close proximity to one another, e.g. Andrew at age 4 at Disneyland and Andrew at age 18 at WDW. The Disney Parade layout I did below for Sketch Support is one example of scrapping “across time”.

Those are 4 different parades and if they were scrapped inside the regular confines of a chronological vacation album, you would miss the story of comparing the parades for similarities and differences as you looked at all of our trips. Those 4 parades were from different years – but they worked together to tell the story of us loving the parades…. Where will it go? Into the Main Street USA section of my Magic Kingdom album. Why? They were all parades at MK and we sat on Main Street USA to watch them. And did you notice I said Magic Kingdom album? Your sections will organically grow into albums…. As you finish layouts and put them into your sections, you will go from one album to two to three, etc.

Because I will scrap now by “place”, I can cover some of the smaller stuff easily and “move on”. I don’t necessarily want to document the tea cups every time we go. I can scrap it once and slap it into Fantasyland and move on. Or, if I want to do a feature on topiaries at MK, I can put that into the Fantasyland section.

This new layout or method -- or library --, if you will, gives me the options to tell any story I want to tell, and I can tell my stories in any order I want. I can also know if I’ve covered the teacup story, because I can look at the Fantasyland section and see it easily. I can also easily see what stories I haven’t told. If Adventureland is empty, it tells me “Scrap the pirate ride – you love the pirates!” or “Scrap the dole whips that hubby and my boys have to have every time!”

Now, the method to my madness. I will scrap with a story driven purpose, and I will print pictures and put them into piles together based on where they will end up…I see a working case growing for each of these sections: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, California, Misc. Based on how fast I work, or how I kit things, these working cases may expand or collapse. The cases will also contain the memorabilia for that park. 

I bought clear Iris Cases and labeled the edges. I like all things looking the same. You? You might want a Pink Iris case for MK and a Green Iris case for Animal Kingdom – your choice. The papers I’ll use for each section will vary. The color scheme at Fantasyland is vastly different than the color scheme at Animal Kingdom. As I find papers that work for those photos, I’ll slot them into that working case. Make sense? Embellishments that might work only for that section will go in there, too. Animal stickers? Animal kingdom. 50’s stickers for Prime Time Café? Hollywood Studios work case.

I like to use solid cardstock to tie things together, so each section will have a designated color of cardstock. It will probably be one of the colors from the iconic symbol for each park. For Magic Kingdom, it will probably be the blue of the castle roof. For Animal Kingdom, a green of the Tree. For Epcot, maybe a pale icy blue that matches the big Globe. For Hollywood Studios – the brighter blue of the Sorcerer’s Hat…Stacy has as part of her LOM design that you make divider pages. I have done these for my LOM and I love them. So, I would take this concept and make divider pages for MK, AK, HS and E and the others….A key color in those divider pages would be the color off the icon. One of the main pictures on the divider page would be OF the icon image – the castle, the hat, the tree, the globe….

Making sense??

Papers? I have a BIN of paper I’ve pulled. I do not scrap Disney per se out of Disney paper. Why? Most Disney paper is red/black/gold/white. Well guess what? Walt Disney World is NOT that color scheme….On the Simple Stories' Say Cheese, I plan to incorporate that into, and along with, other papers. I know that I loved the color scheme of Simple Stories' Urban Traveler. Also, some Lily Bee releases have great colors in them. Cosmo Cricket Circa 1934 was great paper. You will pull in to use what papers you love that match the clothes you are wearing or what you are standing up against. I love cutting little Mickey Heads on my Cameo because you can make those out of any color cardstock and they will match your layout.

When am I starting this? I started the organization in 2013 and in January of this year I began my Hollywood Studios album.  I sorted my photos by trip into the parks, using tags in iPhoto. Once I had my photos tagged by park, I created a search for them using the park name key word, and then I rated the photos to ones I wanted to print by giving them a star rating of one star. One Smart Album later, using key words and star ratings, I had my photos ready to print for Hollywood Studios.

Albums? 3-ring for sure. 
I am still undecided on which ones in particular and have my layouts in progress parked temporarily in a Becky Higgins 3-ring. I may use the Simple Stories albums for these.  I like the distinctive book plate and how it will differentiate them from my Library of Memories albums. I had initially thought I would start with either red or black – Mouse colors. Epcot may end up in green. Animal Kingdom may end up in brown. But, I am still very uncertain which way I want to invest in this. I'm still mulling it over. As your library grows, you can add color into it to help differentiate what is what. If you have a little princess, you may want to use PINK somewhere along the way… 

My layout style: I am going to do a "mix". I am going to do some layouts like the parade one – just straight up a double (or single) layout. Other layouts I will do like Allison Davis  does for Simple Stories – I will do a “normal” 12x12 on one side and use pocket pages on the other. I love, love, love her layout style with the Simple Stories Life Documented series and think it is, for me personally, a great way to tackle my Disney memories.

Okay. I think I’ve laid out enough to either overwhelm you or excite you – or both. Ha, ha. I'll try to do a regular post on this series so you can see my progress. 

To quote my favorite mouse, "See ya’ real soon! "

We Love a Parade ~ Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom ~ 2005 - 2010

Paper: October Afternoon
Fonts: Waltograph, Minnie

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Unwrapping the Smiles

I know that there are so many facets to the Christmas holiday season. It seems every year that the collision from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas occurs at an ever increasing pace. To Do lists get drafted and edited and added to, and eventually as checked off as they are going to become. Somehow our smart phones are supposed to make getting it all done faster. I can't say that this is necessarily true, but I do know that the 25th of December comes steadfastly and - for now - the Christmas stores close down on the 24th and we live at the end of that eve with what got done...and what didn't.

I always love Christmas Eve. Having a retail hubby, who works so many days and so many long hours in those days, brings a different flavor to our holiday season. We muster through the month, Steve helping me with what he can, when he can. The master-minding of the whole event is solely on my shoulders and I do revel in it. Keeping up with the budget, the gifts to get against the budget, the evening out of it all, the element to create a few great surprises under the tree, the wrapping, the cards, the baking, the meal menus, the trip to see the extended family, and the photographing and remembering - it all falls squarely on me.

We pare down to eliminate the things that don't need to be done, make our way through December, end of workday by end of workday, parse out the beloved weekend time for the big projects and must do's in that moment, and we battle to carve out as many quiet together moments at home, out of the cold and chaos, as we can manage. After all of these retail years, we have very nearly perfected knowing how much we can manage to get done, and, more importantly, we have learned to enjoy the life we have in December as much as humanly possible.

But, come Christmas Eve, I know the end is near. I know that soon our life will return to normal and in between the pre-December 25 shopping frenzy and the post-season retail wrap-up, we get nearly 48 hours of unhurried time. When I get the text, "Leaving the store. See you soon. Do you need anything?" my heart skips a beat and I know that Steve will soon be pulling into the driveway, bringing Christmas home. I always tell him, "It isn't Christmas Eve until you're here with us."

The whole month unfolds into embracing those few hours between him coming home on the 24th and him going back in on the 26th. All of the hard work at that point is deemed "worth it" and the presents under the tree, the fire blazing, the boys home and the house full of the four of us truly is the most wonderful time of the year. 

As the boys have aged, it has added even more to the holiday - their opinions on everything we do, their shopping for their own gifts without any assistance, their being awake longer on Christmas Eve, their remembering of years' past and their excitement over their favorites. Invariably there is some last minute gift wrapping going on by the men in my house. I secretly love to watch them scurry to get it done. But at some point, it all gets done and we settle into the holiday. We have our traditions that I love -  Christmas Eve candlelight service, Mexican food for dinner, the boys' present exchange, the watching of a beloved movie. 

We finally eek out of Christmas Eve all that we can and we turn in to bed, pacing out the time so as to glean as much joy out of the holiday as we can harvest. Christmas morning dawns and we live now in the fullness of phase where the boys may sleep in as long as we allow. Andrew is my early riser and Philip is my night owl who struggles to fall asleep and, accordingly, wake up before noon. He's enough of a kid at heart, though, to make an exception on Christmas morning, being a good sport to wake up when we have kept Andrew at bay as long as we deem acceptable. 

Christmas morning holds its own traditions, too - the gathering of the coffee and camera, the stockings, the usual breakfast foods, and then, finally, the tree. I have recognized as I age that there are some boxes that, by the time they come out from under the tree, I am no longer able to recall their contents. It's somewhat serendipitous to also be surprised as the wrapping paper comes off and the box opened.

Camera ever ready at my side, I am poised and prepared to capture the snapshots of the day - angling to get the best shots of the faces that I love. See, while they are unwrapping the presents, I am unwrapping the smiles. I love these photos that represent the pure delight on their faces at the unexpected gifts, the little surprises I found throughout my month long shopping endeavors, the secret presents that I grabbed to make the morning moments feel a little bit more special.

To me, the most wonderful time of the year is when you are all together, celebrating the Presence of the Christ child, the presents of the day, and the richness of the traditions you have shared over time and in different spaces to treasure those two ideals. No matter how old the boys get, or where we may end up living, I know that for me, the greatest gift my family can give me every year is to allow me to sit back, watch them delight in the holiday, and capture all the times spent unwrapping the smiles. 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year ~ Christmas Morning ~ December 2010

Paper: October Afternoon, Echo Park

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

There's Just Something About Puppy Love

As I settle fully into 2014, the perspective I have of 2013 sharpens and clarifies itself and offers me some depth to its context. I made it through 2013, day by soggy, weepy day, pressing on, life requiring of me to continue in its comfortable, if not monotonous, schedule. A few people around me were aware of my situation. I tried to hold it close to me, somewhat ashamed, and somewhat wanting to hold my feelings secretly to my chest, like a rare and valued treasure. What I can fully own now and proclaim is that it was one of the hardest years yet that I have lived in my life. And I am not out of the woods yet. The second launch looms.

There were many wonderful moments last year and many blessings, too. We were all healthy, we were all together, fun times happened, good things came about. Many could look at the data of the year and wonder over my petition to call it a hard year. Let them wonder. Hard times are really only defined internally and sometimes have nothing to do with the events going on around us. And as I fully take in 2013, I will say that, all good moments banked and remembered, it was still one of the hardest years of my life. {I did not say it was my saddest year. I said it was my hardest.} I press on. I remember and tell. I ponder and query. I press on.

Of all the events that occurred in 2013, I will say that one of the bright spots for my heart had its seed planted on February 15...and that seed quickly sprouted to bloom on February 23. {I have never professed to be a slow mover or a patient planner.} But, to be truthfully honest, I guess the seed took root in 2006, and was probably planted back in the '70's.  

Having grown up in a family of 6, with 3 siblings, we were the traditional busy, full house of the '70's, living simply in a 3-bedroom house built in the '50's. Space and time and privacy were hard fought battles and seldom won. I know of only one instance where my mom firmly put her foot down and came out the victor, round after round after round. Working and raising the kids and cooking all the meals and doing all the laundry were enough for her. And so she held her toe at the line firmly on life with a dog and life without a dog.

There were a few marked exceptions. They were somewhat akin to prison breaks: defiant to the rules, freedom hard earned, little ground gained, a brief sense of a different life, and a dismal return to where you started. My dad was a dog breeder early on, and I have no recall of the Besenjis that were around. A black and white border collie followed and her name was Sissy. She was not "my dog" and I am not sure exactly what happened to her, although I can guess, given she was a yard dog and our back was not properly fenced. She was not around in the years after I started kindergarten, so the memory of her is more of a name paired with some photographs.

The one exception that I remember was truly our Christmas miracle. One year the gods deigned to bestow upon us kids for Christmas a puppy. A little floppy eared, wrinkly skinned, soft pawed Basset hound. It was probably 1975-ish. I will concede that my older sister Pattie was probably the proactive pleader that year and had really been angling for a family dog, that she would of course secretly work to make her dog. :-) Dad, always having a soft spot for her, somehow struck a deal with mom to allow it. 

I can still recall the utter excitement of that morning, of watching my sister jump up and down as all 4 of us fought to purchase some of that real estate on the dog's skin. Sister's exclamation during the excitement named the dog. What was meant to be some other name came out as Corky and the name fit and stuck. Corky was a wonderful dog and the only pup I had in my childhood, the only time I watched a dog grow up and bond and witnessed firsthand how they can impact a family. Sadly, Corky did not live for many years, but the memory of puppy breath and weight at my feet and warmth by my side was put away into my vault. He was our one and only failed attempt at a family dog, so my memories of him were all I had for many years.

All four of us kids now are dog families. I chuckle inside when I think about it. I guess the beauty of adult life is that you get to cross the lines drawn for you early on, and learn for yourself what your lines are meant to be. Steve and I got our first puppy early on, probably before our second anniversary. I fell in love with a Cocker Spaniel and Teddy came home to live with us until the boys were born. Teddy was discovered at that point to be a biter, so we fostered him to a family with a farm and began the days of diapers and Cheerios, when Fisher Price offered up the only dogs we had in the house for many years.

The year that Andrew started kindergarten, I knew the house would ring too hollow if I were rattling around in it by myself.  Six weeks before he started at Milam, we purchased a Yorkshire Terrier puppy, which I adored and named Harry and promptly spoiled. Harry was my buddy for 11 years and when we had to put him down in May 2012, I felt like my insides were folding down and my heart ripped away a little at the ends. And as 2012 folded into 2013, and the first college launch appeared on the calendar pages of the year I was actually living in, my heart pronounced it had healed enough and was ready to adopt and love and spoil another fur baby. There's just something about puppy love.

In 2006, on a visit to Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit family, I went for a walk outside my sister-in-law's home and saw the two most beautiful white dogs, sitting there beside their owner as he read a newspaper. I found out what breed they were and did research on and off again on them, knowing I could never bring in a "second child" against my Yorkie, Harry. Nonetheless, my heart knew someday I would hope to have a Westie. And someday arrived in 2013. As the winter gave way to spring and the weather began warming up, I started my internet search engines and found the pup I wanted.

A few email exchanges during a workday between Steve and I, and a few email exchanges with the breeder, along with some research on her dogs and talks to her dog adopters, I was sending in a contract, making a deposit and arranging a pick-up day. {I have to pause here to fully acknowledge that I am gifted with one of the most wonderful and loving and supportive men that God ever created. He knows my heart, loves to nurture it, and enjoys my own pursuit of happiness.} I think the only thing that surprised him about my petition for another pup was how long it had taken me to formulate it. 

Pick-up day dawned, oldest son bribed to accompany me on the round-trip 11 hour drive, gas tank loaded, pup accessories packed, and Saturday, February 23 found Philip and I headed out. Our destination was the Little Rock airport, where my wonderful breeder, Nancy, would meet us and I would get to pick up the most beautiful little fluff of white fur I have ever seen. It was love at first sight and a wave of puppy heaven washed over me as I watched his little wiggle-dy bottom prance around on the pebbles while he stretched his legs, got to know us, and prepared for the long ride home to Texas.

I knew when Philip asked if Truman could ride in the back with him, that he was equally enamored with the little fur ball, and it was a sign that our Truman would be more of a family dog than the lap pet Harry had been solely to me. Truman has won each of us over in his own way with his playful antics, his sweet love, his bull-headed terrier west-itude and his desire to be right where we are, in the middle of any and everything. If anyone doubts a dog can communicate, they have never met a Westie. Truman has no trouble letting us know exactly what he thinks and needs and expects us to do. 

I know that while we celebrated his first birthday on December 23, it was on February 23 that I commemorated that he has been here with us now for one full complete year. He has been the bright spot of many a day. He has been by my side for all the tough days. {Yes, he even went with us on the dreaded college drop-off...a culmination of Steve's and Philip's desire to include him and my sense of needing him for the attention diversion he would offer all along the long way from Texas to Tennessee and back to Texas.} He has proven himself to be the best little buddy and has added laughter to so many dark moments. 

Just like my brief moments with Corky over 30 years ago, and then again with Teddy and Harry, Truman has worked his way into my heart and offered unconditionally to me a little heart that in return accepts my love, that greets me warmly every time he sees me, that follows me everywhere, that unconditionally wants to love me back. And that little white fur ball, that little being that I nickname Boo, because he's like a little ghost of a person, makes me so very happy. There's just something about puppy love. And it just might have rescued me once or twice.

Truman ~ Remembering Gotcha' Day ~ February, 2013

Paper: Bella Blvd., Imaginisce

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Be Mine...For Always

One year,  I believe when Philip was about three or four, Valentine's Day approached and I was preparing to go out with Steve to dinner, babysitter arranged. Philip was curious about everything and the revelation to him of this new holiday was no exception. As he questioned me about it and heard my answers, he finally exclaimed, "Well, if this holiday is about love, why are Andrew and I being left out?" His answer hit me with the unexpected force of a sucker punch. Sometimes you can't pass up the wisdom of a child.

From that day on, Valentine's Day has been a family celebration. I've marveled year after year after year at how my growing boys have anticipated the day and been involved in the finessing of the menu, the excitement of the day, the joy in the meal, the happiness in being together. And year after year, Steve and I have added to the celebration, expanding it ever so slightly.

There was the addition of the Valentine's iPod playlist. How fun has it been to dance around the living room with my sons to Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra each year? The dessert changed from cheesecake to creme brûlée. Do you know how much the torchiere and the crystallization of the sugar, science lab come to life, fascinates my sons? The cards have gone from store bought to handmade. Do you know how much they enjoy reading them, comparing for similarities and differences, touched by words penned by me and not a Hallmark employee?

Some may call this a Hallmark holiday, but I will challenge them. If Jesus says "The greatest of these is love", how can you turn down a chance to set aside the cares and frustrations of pop culture and workaday world for one quiet night at home, where you set the table, light the candles, serve up a feast and pay homage to the one thing that makes you a family, the tie that binds you all together, the force that makes you press in during the hard times, laugh in the joy of silliness, celebrate achievements and challenge shortcomings? Yes, the greatest of these is love.

We have celebrated this family day of love in three homes in three cities, spanning over 15 years. Dining rooms have changed, but we have held fast to the Italian theme. We have strived to recreate the atmosphere of our beloved Little Rock restaurant, The Villa, where Steve and I first celebrated a Valentine's Day together back in 1986. We have spread the checkered red tablecloth, served up fresh pasta, dimmed the lights and reveled in the warm feel of a connected life, a shared home, a joyful purpose, a family love.

As Valentine's Day 2013 approached, Philip hit me again with a sucker punch - the realization that this would be his last Valentine's Day at home until after college, and possibly forever. And the knowledge that Andrew would follow him out the door one later was an added blow. Our beloved tradition, our gathering of four, our celebration of the family God crafted us to be, was coming to a temporary end, if not a permanent close. I cannot ever see ahead, but I know enough from nieces and nephews to recognize that the male chick with sprouted wings learns to fly and loves it.

Steve and I made our normal plans, as best we could, determined that our meal during his last year at home would not be a sad one, but a celebration like every other year.  I held it together really well, until Philip, coming out of the normal senior year self-absorption, realized as well that he would not be here the following year. We talked briefly about how all of our lives would be changing, and then I, able to stand it no longer, needed to redirect the topic and decided this was the perfect time for the dancing to begin.

The evening was rich, a warm and wonderful memory with all the fullness you could hope for as you look back over your life, savoring a long-held and tender tradition. I have been preparing for and denying, in equal measures, the inevitable fate of family dynamics, the emptying of the nest. There is no way to enjoy the straddling of the fence, but you can learn to enjoy the view from the taller height, the amazement in gazing over two rich, beautiful pastures, the feel of the wind on your face from being up above the fray a bit. 

As I took in our foursome finale, I tried to impart to my soon graduating sons the words of that long ago storybook, "I'll Love you Forever" by Robert Munsch..."I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as you're living, my baby you'll be...." They have heard me quote that so often, but in my heart I believe the words to them are richer now and they take in the full measure of their meaning. I pray it has all been enough - enough traditions, enough love, enough care, enough wisdom...but I know it has not been enough time. As I danced with them on this night, I whispered in my heart, "Be mine...for always."

Our Foursome Finale ~ Valentine's Day ~ February 2013

Paper: Crate Paper
Fonts: Pacifico, Arial