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My greatest joy this season

Posted by Brian

It’s been just over a year since our last blog post. Whoops. We don’t post here often, but when we do, it’s for a big deal. And I think this counts.

Our daughter, Taylor, is 9. All on her own, she decided this year that in lieu of presents, she wanted to adopt an Angel Tree child and give a great Christmas to a little boy who otherwise might not have one. Yes, she wanted to adopt a boy. We suspect this is compensation for not having a little brother to buy for — a little brother I know would be horribly spoiled by her big sister at this point.

Elizabeth and I were skeptical when she first announced her wishes a few months ago. But she stuck with it, and was very emphatic about her desire to give this gift. We ran with it, and through November, she and Elizabeth went shopping for this unknown child.

Family members have been so impressed, they donated more money for the cause, enough so that we were able to adopt a second child off the Angel Tree, much to Taylor’s delight.

Sunday afternoon, we watched Taylor sit and wrap all those presents herself, and she did a pretty darn good job at it. (Much better than I do at wrapping.) The excitement in her voice, and sheer joy on her face, reminded me once again what this season is all about.

This time of year, I’m often guilty falling into the trap of commercialism and skepticism, frustrated with the whole annual routine. Taylor, through her sacrifice and her empathy, has shaken my inner Grinch loose and restored my joy this season. Despite her parents’ mistakes — and there have been plenty — Taylor continues to show a true servant’s heart. No parent could ask for more of their child.

Pride may be one of the seven deadly sins, but if pride in your child is included, well, I need to go to confession. And I’m not even Catholic.

(Don’t tell Taylor, but she’s still getting a couple presents from us. We couldn’t resist.)

6 months in less than 1000 words

Posted by Elizabeth

So I haven’t posted in awhile. Six months? Sorry about that. We’ve been doing mostly okay. Mostly good days, able to count time in days. I honestly don’t remember much of the summer. If something crazy exciting happened and I forgot it, um… sorry?

In June, I got a promotion at work. Actually, I saw an opportunity to advance at UAB and went for it. The title was Financial Associate (note the past tense, more on that later) and it was for Rehab Administration (Spain Rehabilitation Center). I loved my boss, loved the people in the department but the job was just more than I could handle and I learned something invaluable – HR and Finance are not for me. The HR part wasn’t “You’re hired” or “You’re fired” thankfully, but it was keeping up with new hires, terminations, and leaves of absence. For about 130 people. As for the finance aspect, I should’ve known better. Back in the early 90′s I was an accounting major for 1 semester. But I’m the keeper of our household budget and checkbook (and enjoy it), so I thought this would work. Nope, it’s different. And much MUCH bigger. So, in September, I turned in my resignation. It was a one month, but we agreed that if at the end of that month the position wasn’t filled, I’d stay on until either I had something or they had someone. Unfortunately, they found someone before I found something. The upside is that it took two months so we had some more time to buckle down and set aside. I’m officially on the hunt – if you know anyone who could use a damn good secretary, send them my way!

For Keith’s birthday, I took the day off, had lunch with Taylor and then she & I got balloons. We brought them home, attached notes then went to the cemetery to release them. Brian spent the day with a friend (Keith’s god-father) and had some good, quality, guy time.

My birthday this year was a biggy – I’m the big 4-0! Brian worked with some friends of ours and put together an awesome shindig. It was wonderful! I also did something wild and crazy and got my tattoo touched up and added to. The butterfly was faded (it was 17 years old!). I got forget-me-nots (Sept birth flower), a treble clef, and a bass clef added to it. It took about 2 hours and yes, it hurt. A lot. Below is a pic of my cake (yes, that’s a smurf on top – I am a child of the 80s!) and a pic of the finished tattoo.

Oh, and Brian broke his wrist. Not at my party, it didn’t quite get that rambunctious. He was playing softball in our church league and for some insane reason decided to try to steal and slide into second base. He managed to shatter his triquetrum (little bitty bone in the hand, close to the base of the thumb). Several weeks in a cast (or 2 or 3) then some OT and he’s pretty well back to full use.

Some more upbeat news – Brian picked Taylor up one afternoon and when they got home, she handed him a piece of paper announcing testing for the Science Olympiad. She asked if she could do it and, of course, we said YES! She smiled and said, “Good, because I’ve already signed up. The test is Monday after school.” It’s primarily 4th and 5th graders, but they allow a handful of 3rd graders in who are then guaranteed a spot on the team in the 4th grade. She made it!!!!

AND Keith’s garden is almost finished. We need outdoor furniture in order for me to call it “done”. Did you know that it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to find outdoor furniture in October? I know! I was shocked too! This is a link to our Flickr page that has the photos. I still need to add the “before” pics.

And, of course, November 18. The one year anniversary of Keith’s death. I took the day off and expected Taylor to want to be checked out early as well. She surprised me, though, and wanted to go to school because it was an all day science day. I believe that to be a good sign! Her counselor had suggested that we do something to remember Keith that brought to mind happy memories. Since he was only 2 months old, there wasn’t much to go on, but Taylor said, “Habanero’s!” At first, we thought this was just a ploy to go out to eat, but then she told us about a Wednesday night that, instead of eating at church, we went to Habanero’s because “the baby wanted Habanero’s”. This is where I squirmed a little. Anyone whose been pregnant or known a pregnant person understands that, while we genuinely do have cravings, there are lots of times that “the baby wants” REALLY means “I want”. This was one of those times. I remember the night she was talking about even. I didn’t like what was on the menu at church that night so “the baby wants Habanero’s”. While Brian & I know the truth of that statement, Taylor believed it with all her heart and, for her, it was a very happy memory so we went out together and celebrated Keith.

So here we are – 6 months summed up in just under 1000 words!

Time Keeps on Slippin’

Posted by Elizabeth

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. We’ve been doing pretty well and staying fairly busy. Taylor played softball through Upward Sports and absolutely LOVED it. After some batting practice with daddy, she hit pretty well even! We went with Upward because of their focus on learning the game and having fun. With that in mind, the kids get to play various positions throughout the season. The one she looked most natural in (in our humble, non-biased opinion) was catcher. Where most of the other kids waddled in all the pads, she walked like a natural. She was able to squat for most of each inning she was catcher for even (though her legs were sore afterward).

She also ended her fifth year of dance. I can’t believe she’s been dancing for five years! This was her first year on a dancing team and she did very well. We had a long grueling dress rehearsal. We got there about 12:30, didn’t get home til around 7 and little girl’s legs hurt so badly that mama took pity and gave her a massage that was followed by pool time at Grandma & Grandpa’s hotel pool. Poor baby…. yeah. This year’s theme was Disney. As usual, she & I attended an earlier show so we could just sit and watch. Then it was our turn. It went surprisingly smooth. We had plenty of time between numbers for once. That turned out to be a very good thing because just before her second routine, I was getting her finale costume ready and realized I’d left a piece of it in the car! Thankfully, I’d gotten a good spot fairly close by. I also now know how to do a low bun. Just be sure you give me LOTS of bobby pins. And a hair net (to contain those pesky pieces of hair that don’t cooperate!).

Brian & I are doing well. We’re actually getting some quality “us” time this week because when my parents headed back to GA, they took Girly with them!

There’s not really been anymore progress on the garden. The nandina are in place, the red buds and the weeping yaupon are planted. All the bulbs we pulled? Yeah, they’re still in pots. The lilies? Still in pots – one of them actually bloomed! It’s beautiful too. I’ve since learned that it’s an Asiatic lily. The shocking part is that that puppy bloomed despite the fact there was no potting soil in the pot. We’d dug up lilies and hosta with the intention of moving them. Then life happened and the poor things are still sitting in pots.

Catching Up

Posted by Elizabeth

I haven’t posted since the middle of March! Lots has been going on. We got the garden started – those pictures are posted on my facebook. I’ll be a good girl and post them here. Eventually. The “wall” is up – a bunch of nandina coming out from the corner of the house and wrapping to the sidewalk. Keith’s redbud is just inside the wall and we’re waiting on a weeping yaupon to go just inside the wall by the corner of the house. For the “floor”, we’ll be using a mix of bark like you see in playgrounds and some remnant granite (treated so it’s not slippery) that a friend has graciously offered us. I’m working with another friend to plan out furniture placement and flowers, herbs, and other plants to finish it out.

Taylor started softball and loves it! She surprised us both by actually paying attention during the game (as opposed to playing in the dirt). Her team won their first game 5-2. The opposing team’s first baseman started singing a little chant to distract our girls and, oddly enough, that’s when they started hitting better. My theory is that they had to focus more on the coach and the ball in order to block out her chant, but that may be putting too much on girls 9 and under.

I believe we’re done with regular sessions at Amelia Center. I say “regular sessions” because we may still need to occasionally check in, just possibly not regularly. Taylor looked forward to it because they have cool toys and crafts. We get some out of it, but not as much as at the beginning. What more I feel I need can be gotten through the moms group I’m in. We still have our moments. I’ve been known to text Brian with two simple words, “Grief sucks” – usually after some mundane sight or sound suddenly and unexpectedly reduces me to tears. Sometimes we feel like it’s been forever ago then we do the math and realize it’s only been 4 months.

Miss him like crazy, would trade everything to have him back, have days where part of me feels fine but part of me feels like screaming (truly weird feeling, for the record), but… we’re okay. Most days. And that’s good. We find ways to honor him and his memory and do the best we can with our new normal.

Love and hugs to all for continued prayers.

How does our garden grow?

Posted by Elizabeth

To date, our “gardening” has consisted mostly of hacking down things that get out of control and getting lucky with a few “voluntaries“. One such volunteer that I’m particularly thrilled with is this one:

I recently learned it’s a flowering almond shrub. More pics here! For the last few years, I’ve looked forward to seeing those pretty pink powder puff flowers show up. It’s not in a good spot, though. Where it is now, its branches can scratch our car as we back out. It’s a keeper, but we’re moving it.

Other big news is WE HAVE OUR REDBUDS! It was going to be just one, but our friend managed to find some from last season, so he snagged me one of those as well!

Here they are leaned against the fence. We’ll be figuring out exactly where we’ll put them and then planting them hopefully this weekend.

One of them is already blooming, giving us a little taste of things to come!

More pics to come as we work on it.