Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Little Punkin Head

I think Steve and I have adapted fairly well to both boys spreading their wings and launching to college campuses that are 600+ miles from home. I think we really have. I love that he and I have time together, and I am naturally one to crave peace and quiet. Goodness knows we have both of those now in plenty. All in all, life is fairly good presently for all four of us, and we are all enjoying where life's path currently has us placed. I will say, though, that it is hard on me to miss celebrating my April birthday boy's big day with him on the day. Oh, yes, I am that girl. I believe in a birthday day. I was raised with it. Growing up, it meant we had a chore free day that started with being sung to in bed, and it ended with a home-cooked family meal around the formica table that was one of our choosing. Good times, those childhood birthdays. 

As I grew up, I was for the evolution of the birthday day to a birthday week, which gave way to a birthday month. Oh, the birthday month is only in my head. Dear hubby won't play along with it. {I guess I am already far too big of a brat for his indulgence.} ;-) But, birthday month nonetheless do I have. And my Philip ascribes to the birthday month notion as well. It is nice to not be the only one in the family as such. :-) So now this April birthday boy of mine has turned twenty and twenty-one without me, celebrating his day in Nashvegas among his college friends.  Without me there to celebrate with him. He ought to be ashamed. ;-) It's just another measurable moment that gives proof to his emerging adulthood. 

This past April, that little adorable baby boy of mine turned the big twenty-one. Now, our sons enjoy our company, but when it got down to it, it just didn't seem like us visiting him on campus that weekend would be how he would want to celebrate his big day. Steve and I are not that hip. ;-) So, we sent Andrew from Denver to Nashville in our stead. Andrew doesn't have Friday class anyway, so he flew over on Thursday evening and was there on the big birthday day, on Friday, April 10, when Philip Edward turned twenty-one. 

He's a long way from that little punkin head now, isn't he? Somehow both of my tow-headed blonde little boys turned into redheads. Redheaded young men with big red beards. Yes, he is older, and yes, every day is a gift. It has been my absolute joy and pleasure to have a front row seat in the metamorphosis of little blonde Philip to big tall red-headed Philip. 

There are parts of him that have remained constant throughout his life, the chief component being his strong and undying affection for all things Star Wars. He was collecting the little figures before he could even properly pronounce them, and somewhere in storage right now are the remnants of his Star Wars Micro Machine collection, including the big Death Star. He has always been a reader. He has always been a gamer. He has always loved traditions. He has always loved for the four of us to be together. He has always laughed heartily at the antics of his brother. He has always loved animals. He has always been quick to smile, and quick to frown, ever expressive, letting us know quickly and easily where he stood on things. He has always loved fruit and sweet drinks, travel and adventure, trying new things, and having some stay at home downtime.

He is developing an affinity for photography. He secretly nurses the skill of writing. He yearns for a life of purpose. I cannot see past the curve in the earth, and neither can he, and so we wait expectantly to see how his life fully unfolds, and to see what fork in the road God will lead him to. It is such a gift for me to continue to see him grow, even though physically he won't get any taller. His growth now will predominantly be on the inside, as he continues to be molded by life choices and his burgeoning adulthood personal decisions.

If I could wish anything for him, it would be to live in his skin comfortably, to own completely all of his gifts, and to set about to use them with the greatest purpose imaginable. I feel like he can do this. I feel like he will do this. And I aim to sit and watch and enjoy the show for as long as possible. We had an absolutely wonderful time celebrating his birthday during our May family vacation. I know that our time together is less frequent than any of us would like, but I am forever grateful that we do all enjoy being together, and that we have such fun together. It may have been his birthday, but celebrating it together in May was my gift.

Look who's 21! My little punkin head, that's who. Happy Birthday, Philip. Thank you for being a gift in 1994, and every day of your life since then. 

Look Who Is 21 ~ Philip's Birthday ~ April 2015 ~ as seen in CREATE by Scrapbook Generation

This layout was featured in the September issue of Create by Scrapbook Generation which can be seen here on their website. 

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: Carta Bella, Jillibean Soup, We R Memory Keepers
Chipboard: Cosmo Cricket
Stickers: Simple Stories

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Fresh Pot of Coffee...Come On Over

She taught me to invest in others. She taught me to give generously, and then give just a little bit more. She taught me to laugh loud and often, at myself and with others. She taught me to listen - to my heart, to my intuition, to the person sitting next to me, to my spouse. She taught me to believe in my children, to defend them, to fight for them, to protect them, and when appropriate, to spoil them. She taught me to entertain graciously - to have an open hearth and a ready home, and to light it up with the love of others. She taught me to put my best foot forward, and that said foot should be in sporty shoes and have a matching handbag. She taught me how to fight for myself and to win graciously. She taught me how to shake off the naysayers and be true to my own path and my beliefs. She taught me the beauty in unrelentless love, that spans decades, for your family. She taught me how to love a best friend, and to not be afraid of having him for your husband. She taught me how to cultivate an enduring marriage, and to shine the light on your mate from the twinkle in your eye. She taught me how to find joy in the little things, and that there are no little things. She taught me that it was better to live the gospel than speak the gospel, that Jesus was bigger than our problems, and that God was our father. She taught me that it was okay to love coffee, chocolate, fritos and puppies. She taught me that - in all things and times and places and spaces - people mattered most, and loving them was the best work a woman could do. She was a beautiful soul, and my life is blessed beyond measure for having had her in it for all of my life, and yet not near enough of my life. Heaven has been waiting for her for awhile, because who could not be excited about the chance to sit on the couch next to Barbara and catch her up on life, and whisper secrets, and giggle over coffee about the best shared things, the stories we hold dear to our hearts, the love for life and family. Every person she loved here will carry a piece of her in their hearts, in the giggle of a story, in a shared devilish grin, in a wink across the room, in a knowing glance of empathy, in the holding of a hand, in the telling of a story. And I think she would like that. You were loved beyond measure. And you will be missed beyond reason. Thank you for being such a beautiful soul, and for sharing yourself so generously with the world. You were a gift to us all. You were a gift to me. And now you are a gift to heaven. Save me a seat, dear one, and put on a pot of coffee. I will be there sometime. And I will want to sit next to you when I get there. 

I wrote the above today, this Sunday morning, about 24 hours after I got the horrible phone call, and about 26 hours after her actual passing. Even though we age, and life's end is inevitable, there is never really a time, a moment, a second, when you are willing to acknowledge and concede the end. At least not this gal. I want every second to count, and then I want them to count again.

Barbara was a gem. She was a sassy women in an age and time when sass wasn't always necessarily accommodated. She had two daughters older than me, and she was gracious enough in her love to allow others in, including little me, and in my mind I liked to think of her as more than my mom's coffee buddy, more than an aunt, more than a friend. I explained to others that she was my "second mom". She loved me enough to want the best for me, and knew me well enough, and knew my family well enough, to guide me with wisdom, tenderness, and love in any and every situation when I sought her counsel. 

Early memories include sitting on her lap while she shared coffee at our kitchen table with my mom. There was hardly ever a time when my mom could get away with going to Barbara's without me begging to come along. I knew her favorite slippers, I knew the kitchen drawer that held the Fritos, I loved the step up in her bedroom into the "secret area". There is no telling just how many secrets were shared within the dark rich paneling that ensconced her family room. I adored her Christmas decorations each year in her dining room and living room. Each time I would visit, I was prepared to move the newspaper out of the way, be ready to catch up on life, and would delight in seeing what treasures she had picked up lately. I loved how she loved her husband, and I marveled at how deeply he adored her. If there was ever a moment when I thought a perfect marriage could exist, I would say it would have happened on 310 Cedar Lane, in one of the moments I was blessed to be in their company.  

Barbara loved the saying, "If you don't have something nice to say about someone, come sit next to me," which she would always finish off with a tilt of her head, her deep raspy chuckle, a twinkle in her eye, and a sheepish grin. But the truth of that was that while she loved to hear the latest in your life, she was quick to offer wise counsel, and having had many siblings, she had a life perspective that countered brash youthful ideals and helped me stay grounded. Through all phases of my life. There probably has never been another soul with which I have been so painfully honest. I would tell her anything and everything, and I knew she wanted to know because she loved me, and wanted to help me ferret out the ups and downs, the highs and lows of life. I was her Penny Rooskie, her Penny Renny. And she was charming enough to let me think I was her favorite.

After her December 2012 fall, where she broke her shoulder, we were so thankful she recovered. When she fell the following December, breaking her hip, it was too hard to believe that fate could be so cruel, and it was harder still to concede that she would never fully bounce back from that. I saw her twice in her nursing home, taking Steve with me once, and my sons with me the second time. Her face lit up both times when she saw me, and as she greeted me, I just knew she was telling me, as she had for so, so, so many years, "Well, look who it is. Don't you look cute. Come sit next to me." Her brain couldn't make all the words make sense, but the woman I loved was there in her expressions, in her smile, in her eyes, in her hand gestures, and in the love for me that I could still feel. I still chuckle when I think about her going right for those brownies. She did love her sweets. After all, what better companion could a cup of dark, strong coffee have? 

Barbara, you will be missed. There will never be another you for so many of us. I pray sweet Carlton enough -- enough to get him through his remaining days here without his beloved bride of 61 years. My husband, my sons and I will always remember you, and we will love every memory we are blessed to have of you. Oh, to hear the phone ring, and the voice say, "Are you home? Put on a pot of coffee, I'm coming over," or "What are you doing? I've got a fresh pot of coffee. Come on over." Oh, honey. I'd love to. I'd truly love to.

Barbara ~ Remembering a Gem ~ September 19, 2015

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: Carta Bella

Thursday, September 17, 2015

September CREATE - You'll FALL for It!

It's another issue of CREATE! the most amazing part about being on this Design Team is that I get sneaks of everyone's projects as they are completed. And they blow me away every issue! Allison's cover art is just spectacular. Issue 16 is up and live, so go check it out! 200+ pages of amazing layouts, cards, tags, full of inspiration! You can find the CREATE magazine on the Scrapbook Generation website in the Magazine tab, or click the link above.

Now, some sneaks of my work! I did three submissions this issue. We had a product challenge where we featured stamps. I used ten sets of stamps on this two page layout and really loved how it turned out.

And this month Miss Debbie had a wonderful two page sketch feature that I opted to play along on. I love the versatility of the sketches, and turned hers upside down to create a fun birthday look. 

And what would a September/October issue be without a fun Halloween layout? I had so much fun playing with this new Carta Bella paper.

I will post a blog article about each of these layouts later this month, but go check out the fun magazine issue now!