Monday, September 1, 2014

We called him JJ.

A couple of months ago my grandpa died.  While it was very much expected at his fragile age, I was not prepared for the sadness I felt after he was gone.  He left this world quietly and surrounded by family- and I'm thankful for that.  As he spent his last moments here, this is what I wrote.  This is what I want to remember.

He lived a full life.  One that I honestly don't know much about.  He was a quiet man and a little rough around the edges, but a good man- a kind man.  He never told me wild tales about his war days or about his courtship with my grandmother.  I never heard about how he felt when he first became a father or about how difficult it was making ends meet with four children.  I don't remember much at all about what he used to say.  What I do remember, are the things that he did.

I remember his hugs and kisses that he would give us kids every time he greeted us or when we said goodbye.  He made sure we all knew that he loved us.  I remember his smiles.  His eyes were loving and could pierce right through a person.  Those eyes and the twinkle in them, my grandmother tells me with certainty that I inherited.  My gramps always had that same grin on his face, as if he had a million things he wanted to say but didn't.  When I would visit as a teenager, we would talk briefly about his golf game and the Atlanta Braves.  I'm sure of it now, I always rooted for them because he did.  The man taught me to play poker.  I'll never understand where he found the patience to do such a thing.  I still forget the rules, every time.  He would often tease my grandma, "she how you are, Pat?" he would say as she bossed him around.  The phrase always made us kids laugh.  Then he would look to me with the loving eyes and the grin, as if to say it was a hopeless task to try and change her.  It was, and he loved her anyway.

When I was very young, I spent many weekends at my grandparents' house on Choral drive in Southern California.  So many in fact, that their home felt like my own.  I have memories of wild gatherings where we would laugh and swim in the pool in the backyard.  There was always root beer around the house and my grandma's sticky white rice.  We had a lemon tree out back, two dogs, a million birds of paradise flowers, the hanging rattan swing on the patio and the green shag carpet my sister and I would twirl on while we danced to music.  And in my grandfather's den where there were walls of old photographs in frames he made himself, he would sit in his oversized lazy boy chair and promise to give us quarters for rubbing his tired feet.  I loved that house.  I love those memories.

My grandfather JJ was a gifted carpenter.  He spent many hours alone in his workshop crafting gorgeous keepsakes for his children and grandchildren.  I have jewelry boxes that play music, piggy banks, toy chests and picture frames all handcrafted by him.  My boys now ride the rocking horse he made for me when I was a baby, thirty years ago.  The last time I visited grandpa, my boys were with me- and I told him how much they loved the rocking horse.  I could tell his eyes understood how much it meant to me, especially now.  And when I said goodbye that day, with a baby in one arm I hugged him.  He gave me the same smile and the same kiss that he always did.  And, I knew it would be the last time.

I love you, grandpa.  Thank you for loving me.

a few shots I was able to get the day of his memorial service.  I'm not sure how my kids always end up losing their clothes on every occasion, hippie babies.  Also please note: Beckett's bawling in the family photo is due to Griffin stealing his new rocket.  Auntie Kristin appears to be encouraging this, I don't know.  We have since remedied the situation and Griff now has his own rocket.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Graduation Day.

Today was graduation day.  I watched this morning as my husband carried our two little boys down the streets of Charleston and into the church with him.  Avett in one arm, Griff in the other.  We watched and waved as daddy marched proudly with his class.  Chad's parents flew out for the occasion, and how nice it was to have them sitting beside us.  Watching Chad throughout this day, I couldn't help but think of every step that he had taken to get here. Every hard thing we did together.  Every good moment, every miracle that got us through.  I could not hold back tears- there's a shocker.  I am so proud of Chad and how hard he worked when the going got really tough.  When the going sometimes felt impossible.  

When we started this journey over 2 years ago, I had one crawling baby and another growing inside of me.  Today they were both toddlers, waving and looking for daddy during his big ceremony.  I can't quite wrap my head around it yet, that this has all actually happened.  That this phase is ending.  I've grown used to the student way of living, I've adjusted.  Now here comes life wanting to change it all up on me again.  With change comes uncertainty and more bumps in the road, bumps that I admit I'm not ready for yet.

We've lived here in the South long enough that "y'all" has become a part of my daily vocabulary.  It snuck up on me. And now I've embraced the Southern talk because it's much easier than explaining to the locals why I wasn't raised saying things like, "all y'all".  Griff even notices.  He calls me out on it.  "Mama, I not y'all, I just Griff."

We love this city.  We love our beach.  We love our friends.  But it's more than that.  I brought a new born baby home to this apartment.  Here I've struggled.  I've learned how to be a mom to two at once and watched as they have grown into best friends.  Here we have learned how hard it is to be without family or community at arms reach.  Here we have created friendships to last a lifetime.  Here, we have battled sickness and seen healing miracles.  Here, we have found strength in each other.

I am so incredibly blessed to have these guys by my side.  I'm so thankful for the love that continues to flourish in our family.  And, on the days when I feel like I'm not enough- all three of them are there picking me up and giving me purpose.

Chad, I am so proud of you and your sacrifice for our family.  Today of all days, Chad was da-da first and distinguished graduate second.  He never ceases to impress me.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Brothers 01.

Griff: You asked again and again if I would take your picture while you posed.  I think you like the attention.

Avett:  My puzzler baby.  You love to figure things out by taking them apart and putting them back together.  I love to watch your determined spirit as you problem solve.  

"Always remember there was nothing worth sharing, like the love that let us share our name."
The Avett Brothers

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Drama at the Park.

I'm the first to admit, my baby is a bit of a drama queen.  His brother takes his park toy, enter tears.  Brother gives back said park toy, everything is just peachy.  Until 2 minutes later when brother again does something undesirable.  More tears.

We've been spoiled with Chad's parents still in town for his graduation from MUSC.  Today the weather poured rain all morning and into the afternoon and there was nothing left to be done but take a trip to Costco, of course.  Costco is always a good back up plan when all other things fail.  Because, they have samples.  And double carts.  That's right, two seat belts for when things really go south.

The rain finally stopped long enough for us to run around the park for a while before dinner.  Thank goodness these boys got outside today, because it darn near killed us being cooped up due to our crazy thunder storms this week.  Joe and Lana sure are good sports to let us hang out with them, again.  Baseball is always a good time.

Love, us.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Day Baby Sister got Married.

Photo overload, I know.  Last week, we all gathered at the Draper Utah LDS Temple for my baby sister Shelby's wedding.  What a gorgeous place to get married.  Griffin kept calling it a castle.  That child has watched Frozen one too many times.  I loved watching the little boys play together on the temple grounds before the crowd arrived.  Shelby looked absolutely gorgeous, like a real princess and it was so much fun watching her and Chandler together.  I don't think they ever stopped smiling.  We are so excited to have Chandler in our family.

I am so grateful for parents and siblings who love my kids, it means everything in the world.  I can't wait to get together again.  Thank you to everyone who helped us make it out West for the wedding.  It meant so much to be part of this day.

Shelby and Chan, congratulations!  We love you.

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