(Lillie dancing beneath the christmas snowflakes.)
The beginning of another new year brings out the best in people. In stores, everyone's still being polite and sometimes even smiling. Traffic isn't any worse than it used to be and school is back in. The kids are still a tiny bit excited about going just because they're still sharing tales about the holiday break.
I'll give 2011 a pretty solid "C". The ending didn't go as well as I had hoped although the first half was great! We returned from Rhode Island in August, a week before school started. Not long after, exercising almost every day while we were away and continuing to do so after we got back, my ankle began to ache. Two trips to the doctor, several xrays and an MRI showed a stress fracture. That bought me 8 weeks in a movement restrictive boot. Yeah me.
Several weeks later, Niles broke his hand hitting Forrest (and to be honest, Forrest was taking up for me when Niles was becoming mouthy in the car.) The xray was pretty awesome (I remember the date--Nov 1, Dia de los Muertos!) and the surgery to fix it went very quickly (never mind that the doctor looked all of 18!). We looked quite the couple, his arm casted and my foot booted!
In October, Brent and I renewed our vows in the Catholic church. It was a long time coming (20 years!). We had a small intimate ceremony with a few of our close friends. The little chapel where we had it was built back in the 1800's by German settlers. The magic is that all of the interior painting was done by hand. Lots of stencils were used for borders and entire accent walls. I've spent many hours looking at those walls wondering who did the painting and how long it took them. Arched stained glass windows fill both side of the narrow chapel so in the daytime it glows inside and at night the windows glow from the lights within. The rough rock walls were quarried nearby and I wonder about the men who gathered and selected the place where the chapel now stands. There is a larger church nearby to house the growing parish community but this little one has my heart. It was the perfect place for us to renew our vows; Brent in his new cowboy boots and me walking in barefooted.
The weeks up to mid-November were some of the hardest I've lived in awhile. The first year without a parent is hard, emotionally. I had many low days, nights of crying and one particular night of hysterical crying and yelling for daddy to come back. But I made it through (and so did the family!). We had a small graveside ceremony with Pastor Mike and went home the proud owners of 3 ostrich eggs thanks to the ostriches in the pasture beside the cemetery. (Don't worry, they were infertile!!)
Almost a week to the day, Brent returned home from a business trip in Michigan where he was able to spend time with his parents. He sent photos of snow covered lawns and trees--he was in his winter element! He had only been back here at home a few hours when we received a call that his father had passed. The parents were in their favorite chairs, Lee watching the news and Irene reading a book. She noticed he hadn't answered her question and when she looked up she knew he was gone.
We rushed to Michigan for a whirlwind viewing, rosary, and funeral. It was great to see the family all in one place, but tragic all in the same breath.
(curve billed thrasher)
Three days after we returned someone walked into the back door, took our TV and my laptop, and left. We normally don't lock the back door because of our 3 fierce guard dogs, but it was cold and had been raining so the pack had taken refuse in the garage where their beds and space heater kept them warm and dry. We were lucky in that they took what they wanted and left, not bothering to look around and see what else they missed. Oh, it was 6am on a weekday morning. We were all asleep upstairs. Not so funny but funny all the same--the kitten and I heard something downstairs at that time. It sounded like Maggie and Jemima were rumbling around. What the noise turned out to be was the thief taking all of the plugs out of the back of the tv. The xbox, AppleTV, dvd player and cable were all unhooked--yet not taken! And my laptop. My 3 year old macbook, with all of my stories and most importantly, all of my photos. ALL of my photos. And all of my music. I did back up my laptop on an external hard drive, but, that was in the spring.
So photos of our vow renewal and trip up north are gone. And I keep wondering why doesn't someone just return it--all you have to do is turn it on and see whose it is. I also keep putting out to the Universe to please make the person who has it just leave it in the mailbox. I don't care--I just want it back.
While we all are going through tv withdrawal (I'm close to going to Wal-mart during prime time and watching theirs!!) but somehow we're all coping. There are plenty of laptops and a personal dvd player to entertain everyone. Still, I am missing my shows--Top Chef, all of the Bravo Housewives, Hoarders, Intervention, Teen Moms, and of course, Texas Storage Wars!!!
So all of the photos here on out begin at Christmas... and 2012 WILL be a great year.
Update: By the way, I have been incredibly grateful in that all 3 kids have been around for all of this. Forrest is currently living in Austin and comes and goes but during all of the chaos, he was home. I don't really consider myself especially mother hen-ish, but I do find myself counting babies when things get rough..... we have had great moments this last year and I counted my blessings as they happened. I love the man Forrest is--he's witty, sharp, very smart, and can channel his granddad in mere seconds, making me laugh uncontrollably. He's also thoughtful and imaginative... I often look at him and wonder where he came from. I remember him at 5, and in middle school.... not as an adult. And I find myself missing his company--often. We're not official empty-nesters (we still have years until that happens) but I subconsciously know that one of my chicks is elsewhere, all of the time. And I do what I can to keep him safe from here.
And I know photos are just photos and a computer is just a material possession and that memories are for always. Being a visual person, photos are pinpoints of my memories--a shorthand of events I've experienced. Proof positive that it was indeed an experience and not a dream... everything is fine and as it should be. I take it as a sign to be more aware, to see more deeply and not rely on my camera to take the notes. Let's see how long that positive mental status stays!!!