Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mike and I just spent some time talking and being teary-eyed together on this day before Thanksgiving. There are aspects about this holiday I'm sad about...this should have been our first major holiday showing Garrett off, probably in a turkey outfit that matches Autumn's turkey dress but...yeah. At the same time, I have so much to be thankful for: Garrett's legacy which I will write about more later; the fact that I am here, celebrating with my family and friends; my health; Mike; Autumn...the list goes on and on.

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

And so it is. I'm continuing my list of things that I do to cope...this whole series can also be a list of the things I am thankful for, really, so in honor of Thanksgiving...two groups I give thanks for every day who also happen to be a huge part of what keeps me moving forward.

Good friends
I'm a raging extrovert so this one is an extra big one. I don't know how I would have coped without all the friends who have stood beside me these past months. It's really incredible and I honestly don't know what I did to cultivate such an incredible crop of friendship.

I'm stuck here a little bit because I'm dying to talk and brag about my friends but...I don't think there are any words that can ever express how much I appreciate the calls, notes, nights out, girls' nights, dinners brought over, and just love that friends like Penny, Tamara, Cathy, and our community group (to name a few of well over a dozen) have showered on us. This has also deepened some relationships with people who were once acquaintances, especially in places like Autumn's school and the dojo.

And, you know, all these friends have taught me more about being a good friend. I'm hoping that all the help, hope, and care my friends have showered on us will filter through me and affect the people I'll be supporting and caring for in the future. I'm thankful for that, too.

Good family
Everyone knows how much I love my husband's family. Seriously, I know Mike's mom talks all the time about how crazy they are but I think they really have no idea how crazy ha-ha they are and not crazy OMG-RUN they are! I've soaked up the time with them, especially in the weeks after losing Garrett. While I was pregnant, they took such good care of us--even with Brad and Lainey and P'd decorating our house for Christmas! Lindsay embroidered a bunch of things for Garrett in preparation for his birth and when things fell apart, she is the one who embroidered the blanket for his casket that's now in his shadow box. Lauren brought me a necklace that has Autumn's birthday and Garrett's birthday engraved on it...and, of course, they all cried with us.

My family has been equally impressive through all this. My mom cleaned alongside Mike's mom and sister and my community group while I was in the hospital...she and my sister Valerie held Garrett, along with us and Mike's parents, before we had to give him over to the funeral home. My brother and his wife immediately hopped a plane from Las Vegas to be with us even though they were already coming a month later, around Garrett's due date.

Finally, Mike and it even possible to talk about how thankful I am for them? I am so, so happy to be here with them that I absolutely absorb every moment I get with them. Autumn was born after a difficult year where we lost my dad after he got back on drugs. We prayed that she'd be full of joy and bring light and a smile everywhere she goes and, boy does she do that. And Mike...he's the only person I would want to endure this with.

I really can't brag enough about how blessed I am in the family and friends department. This is only a slice of my experience in the last few months, and really over the years because these friends and family didn't just start being amazing in June when life fell apart. They were amazing before. Anyway, sorry if this post is a little mushier than usual. I'm feeling pretty mushy right now. :) Bittersweetly, as always.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May you be as blessed as I am, in good times and sad.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Survival of the Fittest, of a sort

We're coming into what is undeniably going to be the most difficult time we've had since what would have been Garrett's one month birthday. For whatever reason, maybe because at Christmas we get presents, ha, I'm less interested in Thanksgiving than Christmas. I'd really just like to hole up at home on Thursday and eat a turkey with Mike and Autumn but getting together with family is probably going to be much more therapeutic than I think it will be. It got me thinking about some of the things that I do every day to cope with life and its bumps and valleys and thought I might write about some of them.

Talking to the counselor, it seems like I do a lot of cope-y things naturally--or have learned them from other difficult times of my life--but one advantage to having these appointments is that I've been much more mindful about really taking care of myself. I do little things that help and might sound silly to some people. Like, for whatever reason, our house can have a certain smell after it rains (old house=occasional mustiness) that reminds me of being pregnant and having morning sickness. So, I refilled all the scenty things that Mike's mom hid around our house while I was in the hospital with a fresh linen scent and added a heated scent thingie to the main smell culprit, the hallway. Mike suspects I might be a little crazy but I tell him that since I can't see very well, I have a very powerful sense of smell to compensate. :D Anyway, here are some other things I've been focusing on the last few months that help me/us cope with all the upheaval:

Good music
We generally fill the house with music. Mike and I are pretty eclectic with our tastes, too. Like, you'd probably be surprised that Mike really likes house music. Who'd have thought, right? Things were pretty quiet around here at the beginning of the summer because I just couldn't handle much noise while I was really getting better. Now we listen to a lot of disney music/broadway tunes on pandora when Autumn is awake because that's what she's into right now (for a while it was Kings of Leon and before that it was opera, of all things!) but I have my own pandora and grooveshark lists I listen to while I write or work. The playlists I've made since June aren't quite the same as my pre-June's less hard rock and dance music and more melodic rock, songs that makes me smile, and songs that bring back memories of a time when life was more carefree. Although I do occasionally get in the mood for some energy music. :)

Good books
I've always loved to read. Always. Growing up, it was my escape mechanism from drama at home and what kept me sane during some less-than-ideal school situations. Anyway, a couple years ago I read 100 books in a year as part of a goal. I got it that one time but I doubt I will ever do it again! I had a really hard time reading in the months after we lost Garrett. Some of it was being on pain meds and the fact that everything exhausted me. I kind of got concerned about it and decided if I didn't get the desire to read back sooner than later that I'd consider it a sign of a problem. But, it ended up being okay. Once I got a little healthier, I read a few old favorites that I was able to just pick up and put down easily. Then I moved on to some easy young adult reads to accommodate my short attention span which, looking back, was also a grief thing, I think. I'd be doing something or listening to someone and just drift off and be startled when I kind of snapped back to it. After the series of young adult books, I haven't read a ton of fiction, but for whatever reason, I've been reading the heck out of nonfiction. I'm usually a 2-3 fictions, then a nonfiction reader but I've been finding most of my books in the new nonfiction part of the library. Honestly, I'm just glad to be back to one of my favorite activities.

I have more to say about good friends, good family, good activites, and what happens when all these things are not enough but I think I'll leave it there before this becomes a novel! Until next time!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My first photography job! Kind of.

I'm still fighting off this sinus thing. I really should have gone to the doctor last week but I had no idea it would linger this long. I've been really tired and the things I have queued up to write about need more attention that my tired, medicated self can provide right now! So I guess I will do some project updating. I posted a to-do list a couple weeks ago. I've actually gotten quite a bit of it completed even while not feeling well! As soon as I wrap up cleaning out the pink room and I get the now-painted vent cover hung, I can start making my playroom curtains! This is the fabric I bought. I just need to get some liner because it's a little thinner than I was expecting.

I've found that almost everyone has a hard time imagining this fabric as curtains. I couldn't find someone who made some with this color, but here's an example of lighter blue chevron curtains.

Anyway, that's a future project. One unexpected project that turned out unbelievably well was a little out of the blue. Lainey (Mike's mom) had asked me to make some postcards for her friend Cheri. Cheri is the one who helped decorate our house last year as part of a trade for me to make her daughter some art show invitations and business cards. She also decorates Lainey's house and did the flowers for Donnie and Liz's wedding. I went up to her new shop and took some photos. I don't have a wide angle lens so I couldn't do, say, a whole Christmas tree. So I had to be kind of creative with what I photographed.

The above photo was the best but it looked too much like a dentist office Christmas card, ha! I liked this one, too, but if you look on the right, the light is just so bright. If I used it, I would have gone back and photographed it with the drape over the window, I think. The garland that this is on is gorgeous but so intricate that I think it would have been overwhelming on a postcard.

This is the one we chose to use. I'm secretly glad because when I was taking the picture, I knew I was going to love it. There was another spot I loved but the picture ended up being really, really brown because it was all wood and greenery. This just had pop. I wrote the shop's name in the top corner and tweaked the photo a little to make it look a touch warmer and called it a day.

Here's the little display where I found this lantern. I scrunched myself on a table in the corner by the window to get the angle and shoved the tree back until it sat in the background just right. I know Cheri thought I was crazy.

The postcard was to announce her extended holiday hours and I put all that on the back. I also tried to emphasize that her shop isn't "just" a florist's place.

I guess it turned out well because my mom didn't believe I really did it all myself and Cathy was so excited she gave me a hug, hahaha. How cool is that? I had a really good time doing this postcard and I'm pretty proud of myself!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fitness Update: PANTS Edition

Autumn is not actually sick, it's just that whenever I do a post on not feeling well, I think of this photo. That's at last year's preschool aikido party and she felt so down that she didn't even want cookies! I called P'd to come get her, poor thing. I thought her little feet sticking out were so cute and sad.

ANYWAY, the reason for that flashback is that my fitness week has been sidelined by a sinus infection. I'm really annoyed but it happens. I was supposed to work out at Mike's class on Monday and was pretty much couch-bound all day. Then today I had a meeting with the trainer I was going to try to make but woke up with a cough like a seal's bark so, yeah, I'm taking it easy so I'm in okay shape to teach the kids tomorrow.

On a happy note, I weighed in this week at 113 pounds!! I don't have a solid goal except to fit into my old pants but if I go by what I weighed before I got pregnant, I'm only 8 pounds away from that. Another happy, I fit into my largest pair of pre-pregnancy pants. It's a pair of jeans someone bought me that I hung on to for pre/post pregnancy use because they were a little too big to wear but were really nice, but still! I couldn't even get them over my hips back in September. The pants I did have to buy so I wouldn't have to wear maternity stuff are starting to get baggy. So good news all around! Other than the sinus/coughing stuff, anyway.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On Finally Getting Things Done!

We moved into our house last July. We knew it would be a project but really had no clue what was in store for us. The day after we signed the contract in late April, there was a record rain in the area and, you guessed it, our house was one of the houses that flooded. Thank heavens that Mike's dad and I had both slogged through the storm to work at the house (it was filllllthy, you just have no idea) so between the two of us, we salvaged the boxes and most of the downstairs. The above photo is what the living room still looked like when we moved in. Actually, I believe Manuel, who worked on most of the house and is amazing, had discovered old water damage on the ceiling and, by the time we moved in, the ceiling had been removed from the living room and the breakfast area so that part of the house was plasticked off.

Autumn "helping" P'd put install new door knobs in the room she has yet to move into.

Incredibly long story short, the house isn't quite done yet although it's all liveable. However, since I got pregnant and roaringly sick in October and then you know the rest of the story, a lot of the house has been in flux and not at all organized. Autumn's in the nursery still but we're trying to get her future room emptied out so we can move her Aunt Lauren's old stuff in there. It's been a staging area ever since mice invaded and ate the boxes we had in the attic and I replaced everything with rubbermaids; seriously, I think this house is built on an ancient graveyard. I've spent the last two weekends sorting baby things that never got used, putting away summer things, separating Autumn's too-small clothes, and deciding what's to go to a garage sale and what's going to be a hand me down to someone. It's a little bittersweet, like many things, but it feels good to be getting Autumn settled in and having things a little more organized.

I'm trying to get a number of projects done before the holidays so I have this big list I am working through. I'm not sure I'm going to get there but I work better if I have goals and set dates for them so I self-police, haha. I've been able to mark a few things off the list.

I made Autumn's Princess Presto (with spelling power!) Halloween costume out of a torn princess dress, a yard of pink fabric (for the flounce and the cape), ribbon, and purple fabric paint. It was pretty fun and she loves it. I've had to wash it twice since I made it!

This one was a long time coming. I saw a cross-stitch with something similar to the picture above and decided Elizabeth (my brother's wife) had to have it because the "I will CUT YOU" thing has been a long-running joke for us. It was only about 9 months late for her birthday. :P I haven't cross-stitched in years so I decided to learn how to photoshop it. I found an image and did some stuff to it (totally technical terms) to give it the cross-stitch look, printed it on linen paper and then framed it. I wanted to give it a more cross-stitchy (also a technical term >.>) frame but couldn't find one and decided not to delay sending any longer than I already had!

Last year, I taught myself how to make silhouettes. I decided to sneak a profile shot of Roxie while Mike was holding her a couple of weeks before my sister Valerie's birthday because I thought she might like one. It really wasn't the best picture for silhouette making.

I made it work, though. I had a seriously hard time with her hair. I told Valerie that if she wanted, I'd do a photo of Roxie against a solid backdrop so I could get the curls in the silhouette in a less solid manner. I also matted the frame with the paper. I had seen someone do a similar thing on one of the design blogs I read. Here's the one I made my mom, Nanny and Lainey last year of Autumn:

Fun stuff! Whenever Mike sees me doing these things he just shakes his head and says he doesn't understand why I think it's fun because it looks tedious. I told him that some of his computer stuff looks tedious to me so I guess it's just a matter of taste!

So, I'm getting things done and it feels good!