Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Tree Memories

It's December here in the Midwest, and for our family, that means the tradition of finding and cutting down our annual Christmas tree has arrived.  Like all good marriages, my husband and I have made compromises over the years.  The compromise I made in the early days of our marriage is "hunting" for a Christmas tree each year.  A cut tree is not something I grew up with, but my husband did, and so it's what we do.

My husband wants it for the memories, and while I love all of the sweet moments I will have years from now, the details of the day aren't quite the same in pictures as they are in real life.  I won't REALLY remember how it felt to have my nose numb or my ears burning because it was 30 degrees outside.  However, through the pictures, I hope that I WILL recall the soft smile I felt when my people linked hands.  Or the gleeful sound of my daughter's squeals as she was running down the hill.   Or how excited she was when she found the perfect little tree.

I want these pictures to lock away the pride my daughter had when she could put the star on the tree she found all by herself.  I want it to bring back her words like a record player down the hall: "Seeeeee Daddy!!  I can reach!  PLEASE Daddy??  Can we get this one, please, please, please?"

  I hope I will be able to hear the calls from across the fields of, "What about this one?"  "OOoo - how about that one?!"  when I visit these again.  And when we were rather sure we had found a good one, I want to remember the sound of my husband's grunt as he raised our girl to test for the star reach.

  I want to remember how excited my daughter was at finding a real pine cone growing ON the tree.  And how my son's hands seemed so grown up as he worked to help cut down our tree.  How grown up in general he is and how his young face is slowly starting to upgrade into a teenage face.

  I want to remember my sweet girl lagging behind.  I want to remember how she makes her way at her own pace, no matter how quickly we need to get moving or if it means she is well behind the group.  I want to remember that my son was a supportive boy as he helped with his sister and that my daughter was so inquisitive.

I want to see my people gathered and remember out tradition of getting snacks at the store for the car ride home.  How my little car was the ride home for many a trees over our family's history.

I want to remember it all, because the reality is, one day, the traditions will change and then come to an end, and my memories will fade as the years go on.  But I don't want to forget any of it.

Until next time,

Saturday, December 10, 2016

When Words Won't Come #Keirastrong

I've been holding onto this set of pictures for some time now.  I have have written and rewritten the words a dozen times, trying to find the right thing to say to get to the core of this story.  You see, being close to a story gives you a different perspective; it makes you see details differently.  It has you looking deeper, which can be both a difficult and beautiful thing.

On the surface, it is easy to see that this story is about love and support.  It is clear that a community came together and that good times were all around.  The finer details are more hidden gems.   Hidden gems of the soft and quiet ways those people come together to love.  Over two and half years ago, at the age of 7, our friends' daughter Keira was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma.  While I hate everything about that sentence and what it has meant for their entire family, I am forever thankful God brought this family and little girl into our lives.  Our lives have changed in amazing ways because of them.  After growing close to them over the last few years, we have seen that families facing cancer have an intense and incredible strength - because quite honestly, they don't have any other choice.  And through a simply awful time, there comes an outpouring of love and support - from family, friends, the community, and even complete strangers who all become a vital part of the journey.

A few months ago, our community came together in the name of that love.  Our local O'Charley's partnered with the family to hold a pancake breakfast, where our fire department and the family's awesome friends with The 501st Legion came along for support.  It was all the most amazing thing and I loved every minute of it.  Words seem to not be what this story is needing, so I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.  If you'd like to know more about Keira's journey and keep up to date with her story, you can follow it here:  I hope you enjoy.

Until next time,

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5-on-5: Ornament Making

I can barely believe it is December and that our 5-on-5 circle is having its last post for 2016.  Where on earth has the year gone?  I don't know about you, but I am so very thankful that there was a little extra time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That means that I have the chance to give myself a little break between the two and get my head ready for Christmas.

As we are gearing up for weekends of tree hunting and decorating and cookie baking and all the other holiday things, I am softly reminded that this time is simply going much too fast.  I look over these pictures and I am know that they only stay the size the are (little, medium, or not so medium) for so long.  I want to remember it all.  And I want my girl to have memories of me being a part.  So, I set my camera on the counter, focused on my girl, and used my remote to get in a frame.

 Like every other Mom I know, I am not the biggest fan of being in pictures.  I could tell you a million things wrong with me.  I don't think my girl would tell me though.  I think she would recall this time as lovely, so that's the way I want to see it when I look back too.

 Oh those little hands.  And little tiptoes to reach up to see inside that bowl.  Lots and lots of hard work went into this process.

  I love this girl so much.  She is just the right balance of her silly papa and her cautious mama.  My vision for our ornaments was the star, but my girl begged for the tree.  At a dollar per cookie cutter, can you really say no to that face?
 It is HARD work to make those ornaments the right thickness, but our girl was BOUND and determined to help.  Eventually, we worked on them together with a rolling pin, but it was SO much more fun to watch her try on her own.

While these are not the finished product (there is drying time and painting time required), I still love the way they came out.  Bonus, my house might smell a little more Christmas-y this weekend.

My favorite part of the circle is, well, making the rounds.  Our group has such talented photographers telling their story every month and for many, this is their one time they share personal stories.  I hope you take the few minutes to make it through and comment on their work - while we don't necessarily have anything against crickets, we much prefer to know that our story was seen and had an impact.  So, next in the circle is my dear friend Jenny Bowers, a Southern Michigan Documentary Photographer.  Make sure to give her some love.

Until next time,