Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's so nice to have a man around the house!

Chris was in the kitchen working away at the bacon for our BLTs the other night (he's the baconator) when I whirl around the corner and get a load of this vision! Hey, whoever said a man can't sizzle in the kitchen?


Don't be jealous, girls. I did the clean-up!

Strange Days

I spied on my neighbor this morning (10x optical super-zoom, hellow!). He is the barely discernable blur in front of the headlight beam. This is what he was doing - shoveling a little walkway for his beloveds in case they had to step toe outside the house. Doesn't look like fun, does it? And on his way to work, too. My across-the-street neighbor was snow blowing at 5:41 this morning. Hmph! I can't be too mad, though. His wife Kristen leaves very early for her daily Grand Rapids commute. And poor Chris? He was trying to get the frozen door unstuck on the car. Hm...shoulda parked in the garage, n'est ce pas? The views below demonstrate the extent to which I am willing to brave the elements to bring you late breaking views of the wintry weather. The amount of snow on the front porch - and my door! - attest to the blizzard-y conditions!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Some of my favorite pics

I'm trying to write a blog post about the fascinating world of the presidential primaries, but my thoughts aren't coming together, so I thought I might regale all of you with some of my favorite pics over the last couple years. Remember, you can click on each of these pictures to view them full size. So, here goes....This first picture is a favorite because as all the kids at Emily's talent show were giving a final bow, they were all distracted by something on the floor. It was the little girl who sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." What is so cute about it is that I just happened to snap the pic as all the kids turned their heads to find her flat on her stomach. How that happened when all they were doing was taking a bow is beyond me! Emily is right up front there with the black dress on. She looked so beautiful that day!

I love this picture of Brit and Robbie on the day Britt graduated from Grand Haven High School. We were sitting at the very top of the back of the auditorium that day (I sat slam-blam right next to Chris's ex-wife Sundy and boy, was it HOT), and when the Principal called Britt's name, Chris yelled loud enough for the whole auditorium to hear, "Britt, you rock!" Everyone laughed. Later that day we had a joint graduation party for Britt and Robbie at our house (Robbie had just graduated from CMU). Now Britt is almost finishing up her radiology studies at Baker, and Robbie is almost done with her graduate work at Western. We are very proud of these girls!

Here are the cousins at the graduation party. I love this picture because Sam, who is decidedly somewhat goth, has her mother's grace and can't hide it with her princess wave. That is her brother Dan standing next to the table. And their parents - Chris's brother Johnny and his wife, Amy are to the right here. This is right before they moved to California, and we've all missed them terribly. We are hoping they can all come back for the wedding. The only time we've seen them is when they flew home for Chris's sister's funeral. We'd much rather see them at a happy time - and God knows, our wedding is going to be the party of the century!

Here are a couple pictures from Robbie's graduation day over at CMU. The picture with the two girls includes Robbie's roommate Emily and her other friend whose name I have forgotten. Robbie sure is a striking young woman. The other picture is Robbie hugging her Grandma (Chris's mom) right after she exited the auditorium. It was an emotional moment. You can also see Chris's dad in the background of that picture, almost like I framed it that way. Such a photographic genius, I am!

I love every picture of Chris with little Gabby. Gabby is his ex-wife's sister's daughter. Because they all lived with Chris and his family, he was there when Gabby was a baby, and he was incredibly close to her. It is really sad that he almost never gets to see her anymore. Divorce is just the worst. He misses Gabby like crazy, but every time he sees her, she just runs for him as fast as she can yelling, "Uncle Chris! Uncle Chris!"

I just can't resist another picture of Chris and Gabby. This picture is on my mantle, and it makes me happy every time I look at it. For one thing, did you get a load of how handsome Chris is? Hellow!

As you can see, pumpkin carving is a lot more fun than you remember! Every year we each carve pumpkins and then take a ton of pictures of them out on the front porch. This year was really warm and the pumpkins all melted down well before Halloween, which was too bad because we had some awesome pumpkins! We're all pretty creative and artistic, so honestly, our pumpkin viewing is quite a treat. The pictures, though....not so much. I've never been able to get the lighting right to really see the pumpkins in all their glory. Darn it all!

Another holiday tradition is that we all decorate for Christmas. This year I told Chris I thought our house looked more like a Christmas novelty shop than a house. He really likes his decorations! This picture isn't so good because I had the camera on the wrong setting on accident and Grace and Emily are blurs, but you get the general idea. We really enjoy doing this together as a family. By the way, the "little girl" next to Chris is Britt! When we worked together last year, I used to tell everyone to as her if she was a dwarf or a midget! :)

Here is my rumpled old family on Christmas morning last year. Oh, Britt and Robbie would kill me if they knew this picture was being posted on my blog! But I just love their puffy faces and their kinked up hair. Trust me, that's not something they let the world see too often! I can't believe how young Grace, Emily and Brandie look in this picture! My, how they've grown! Just'll see!

More favorites

Here are Brooke and Paige at the Easter Egg Hunt last year at Ray and Cindy's house. It was really funny because the older kids picked up certain colored eggs, all of which contained - not candy - but chores! In order to get out of the chores, the kids had to successfully complete a number of challenges. One of the challenges was they had to take a test (multiple choice)! Brandie got the most points on the test because she put "poop" as her answer every time it appeared. And apparently, poop was a popular correct answer! Ray would know, though, because he's the one who made up the test. Just tells you a little something about him, doesn't it?

Grace was in a play last year, "The Emporer's New Clothes." It was really funny and clever and here she is with her two friends, Samantha and Lauren. Grace's part was the mother of Lauren, who played Peter, the golden-tongued tailor who sold the king a bill of goods. Grace had been in hot competition for the lead female position, that of queen, but it was given to Jamie Hoogeboom just because her dad was a pro football player and is a local hero because he was on "Survivor" (he lost!). Anyway, the director wrote in a part for Grace because he thought she was so good. Ok, ok....sour grapes!
These pictures are from Grace's graduation from 5th grade into middle school. Here she is with her friend, Samantha. Unfortunately, this year Samantha has been trying to get into (ugh!) Jamie Hoogeboom's group of friends and has sort of left her old friends behind. Middle school, anyone? Grace hasn't minded too much since she's made a lot of new friends this year. But Samantha was a good friend to her last year, and as soon as she realizes things aren't always greener with the "popular" kids, she'll be back. Or so I think.

There's that man of mine! He's mugging with his new polarized sun glasses as he heads out for fishing. Don't ask me what he did to his arm....that man is constantly hurting himself (usually working). Although....we can't forget the hook incident last summer. I came home from work and Grace ran out of the house, "Did you hear? Chris is at the hospital!" I nearly fainted. Apparently his friend Brooks (!) had stuck him really well with a big nasty bait lure right in his knuckle, right in his bone. But this cast I think is from when he did something to his tendons working on the....lawn mower? I love that man of mine!

Here they are, almost all grown up! Could there be anything as momentous as the first day of middle school? The girls were jittery, but judging by how they are doing, middle school is the best thing that ever happened to them. My, how times have changed, huh? Here is a picture of Emily on her first day of school this year, too. She has thrived this year, mostly because she can enjoy herself without worrying about Grace, and what she might say about it. Luckily for us, all three girls get along extremely well (except for that ever-present sibling rivalry between Grace and Emily.) Oh, in case you didn't know, Grace is going by Anna this year at schoool. Now that she's all grown up, you know! ;)

And this year has also brought.....the Buc Blaster! This is what they call the middle school dances here in "Buc" territory. Here are some pics from some really giggly girls before embarking! The first pic includes Kaylie, Brandie's friend. The second pic is of Grace and her friend, Sandra. You can read all about their adventures on Grace's blog!

Here is how Emily felt about not going to the Buc Blaster. That kid kills me!

Not nearly done with the favorites.....

Course you'd like to think that I'm going to run out of pictures any time now. Well, think again! Here come some more favorites!

We LOVE Halloween at our house and here we are again, doing our best to scare the pants off the poor little tikes Molly and Kendall across the street. Boooo-ey pumpkins! Mine is that awesome one at Emily's feet. C'est moi!

We had a BLAST on Halloween night. We invited everyone over here to trick or treat and had a house full of ghouls and goblins - and their kids in great costumes! Watch out, or Paige is going to kill you with her magic wand! The blonde next to Grace is her friend Molly, and just so you know, Grace's costume was the absolute bomb. She was a punk witch and my mom made her costume from scratch (along with Emily's medieval princess costume). I did all the can send your congratulations on my excellent artistry in the comments below. :)

Here are all the girls again on the night we put up Christmas decorations this year. I gave you a close up so you could see all of their bright, shining faces instead of another shot of the living room, which is basically the same setup as last year. The girls were a little spoiled this year with each of them getting mp3 media players, and Britt with a handful of gift cards - her favorite! Jewelry was the close second this year with all the girls. We needn't be surprised!

Ok, this is the last....

Ah! Here is a picture I forgot above! It is a picture of Chantze killing his two (princess) sisters. It was a lovely moment. Paige appears to be preparing to give him the what-for and a sobering clob with her magic wand. Dang, that night was fun! Now I can't wait till next year!

Here is my honey all dressed up for New Year's Eve. We ended up having a wonderful night and even though Chris says my picture is beautiful, I'm not smiling and I look stoned, so I'm not posting that picture. It is definitely not a favorite! But, just to be nice I decided to post this picture of us from last fall. We had both just gotten out of work and dang if we don't look tired! I still like the picture though....primarily because it is not a body shot of me. P.S. check out that cute picture of Emily over Chris's shoulder on his NYE pic. Isn't she cute?

Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays! Can you guess who is celebrating their special day below?

Hints: Brittt was 19, Brandie was 12 and Emily was 10. Now can you guess?

I don't know if you can tell, but I'm starting to get sleepy. It's not really 12:02 AM like it says below...I have to edit that to make my blogs appear in the order I want you to view them in (instead of the order in which I created them.) In actuality it is 3:16 AM and I am about to keel over with exhaustion. There are some pictures I took around the house our first spring here, but I'm too tired to post them now. I'll post them tomorrow. Or the next day.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snow Head

So, Emily comes inside from playing outside with our neighbor Brian. I was busy cutting up veggies for tacos, and Emily asked if she could help. Sure, I said. I slid the cutting board over and let her go at it. That was when I first got a good look at her.

Emily sat there happily cutting up the tomato, and perched atop her cute little head is a pile of snow. Yes! A pile of snow! As she had only been in the house a couple mintues, it hadn't started to melt yet, and she couldn't feel it. I immediately began to laugh uproariously and told her to hold still and don't move a muscle. I ran and grabbed the camera and snapped these two cute pictures of my lil darlin. At the point where I took the picture, she still did not know she had a pile of snow on her head. When she saw the pictures I took, she started laughing really hard and ran over to the sink and brushed it off. What a kid!

Room with a View

Here are some of the views we've been enjoying with the recent snowfall. Chris took the outside pics since I couldn't bring myself to brave the elements. I know the pics of our back deck aren't all that interesting, but I couldn't get over how high the snow was piled on the railing. This was actually taken a couple days ago, and we've accumulated another 6" or so. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

He was like a brother from another mother

Like most Americans, I felt a wave of shock and disbelief yesterday when I saw flashing upon the screen the news that Heath Ledger was dead. Immediately, my heart sank. When a person of such talent who is so young dies, the injustice and unfairness seems intolerable. But there is a deeper meaning in Heath Ledger's death for me.

The first movie I ever saw of Heath's was "A Knight's Tale." Ok, so it was an unlikely and campy tale, not cinematic history. However, he was a standout, and not just because of his good looks. There was something compelling about his presence on screen that made you care about his character, and ultimately, care about Heath as a person and an actor. Commentators have been citing his own loneliness and the vulnerability which seemed to seep from his very pores as the thing that enabled fans to identify so deeply with him. After all, isn't there a bit of loneliness in each one of us?

However, for me, I felt there was something that I identified with that was infinitely deeper, much like my appreciation for Jimmy Stewart. I think there is something deeply compelling about being an ultimately flawed person who strives to do the right thing in life in spite of personal failings and struggles. It was this that I identified with most in Heath Ledger. As a person who has experienced deep struggles all her life, I can understand the impulse to take too many sleeping pills hoping for just one night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. As I sat watching Heath's body being wheeled out on a stretcher, I could only think, "There but for the grace of God go I."

I mourn the loss of Heath Ledger not just because he was talented, not just because he left behind a young daughter who will never experience what an amazing father she had, and not just because of what the cinematic world lost. I mourn him because of the future roles we will never see that would have touched us all, made us think about the meaning of our own lives. I mourn him because he was a beautiful human being that struggled against a darkness that ultimately took him away from us. And I mourn him because it is that very darkness that chases me.

What I take away from his death is another look at my own pitiful life. I took sleeping pills just last night. What if I had never awakened to my alarm clock this morning? What would I have left behind? The answer, sadly enough, amounts to a few minor accomplishments and a mountain of regrets. I can only pray that Heath would not have said the same thing.

The mystery of our identities lies in an often impaired self evaluation, our own version of who we are and what we have meant to the world around us. Heath's life touched millions of lives and left an imprint that made us all feel more human. In my own evaluation of my life, I know I have a long way to go to bringing meaning to those in my life whom I love, much less the world at large.

And it is this ultimately that I mourn; my own lost opportunities to touch others and make their lives more meaningful. And I think it is this that makes Heath's death so poignant for me. I don't want to die leaving behind a legacy of regret and lost opportunities. Oh, but where to begin? When your world is out of alignment and there is so much that needs correcting, where, oh where on earth do you begin?