{Slightly Controversial Post on The End of Summer Days}

Yesterday marked the end of summer days (again) and I find myself getting all nostalgic (again). I just love going to the pool and watching my toddler splash at the “splash park”, I love grilling season, summer vacations, summer clothes, the feeling of having no school even though I am no longer a student, and more!

I see all the cute memes out there and people posting about their excitement for fall, and I want to be someone who likes fall better than the other seasons. I want to join the “cool club”! [See what I did there? Kind of a double meaning if you catch my breeze.] But I can’t yet. Year after year I don’t gain entry into the “cool club”. Perhaps I can’t figure out the code, I tell myself.

Perhaps I’m not seeing what everyone else is seeing, I think. So I survey those I love who love autumn and ask them what they find so great about it. Because once I know the secret, I can gain entry into the club, right? And they tell me they love the changing colors of the leaves, the crockpot meals, football season, bonfires, cool-weather fashion, dropping temps and less humidity, etc. My husband says best of all is “the smell of fall”. Each time he says this year after year, I ask him to describe “the smell of fall” and each year he says it smells like “fresh air”. I usually laugh to myself but this year I laughed aloud. “Isn’t there fresh air in other seasons? And what does fresh air smell like?” He found it hard to articulate why autumnal air is just fresher.

Now, I gotta admit that I’m not known to follow sports–or even the ball as it moves from one player to another across the TV screen. So maybe that’s a big part of the miss for me during autumn, but I think more than anything it’s because autumn signifies the end of summer–my steadfast favorite season. If you’d like to see what turned into a bit of a love letter to summer but was mostly aimed at being an optimistic message about the baton hand-off between summer and fall, check out my blog post from a year ago entitled {The End of Summer Days}.

On our road trip/babymoon two weeks ago (all about planned spontaneity and bonding) we spent a couple days in Chicago, and during the falling rain I meandered into the storefront of a Bath & Body Works in a mall on The Magnificent Mile. The only scent I picked up was an Autumn-scented body lotion; I applied lotion from the tester to my hands without smelling it first. Unorthodox, I know. But I wanted to try to embrace fall. I loved the scent and plan to go out and buy it in a candle (because I can always use a 140th candle around my house or in my closeted box of candles, and I’m sure my hubby agrees). 😉

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We’re Always Finding Nemo

Funny and fond life space moments tonight:

  • S tried to flush the toilet a second time while it was still cycling and I told him that doesn’t work, to which he replied with certainty: “It needs batteries.”
  • S has a baby picture book from Grandma Beth that I have him read to me by identifying what he sees in the pictures. Of all the books he can choose from, he’s always gravitated toward this and one other book from his great-grandmother that I have read to him most nights at bedtime from the time he was a newborn. Tonight he pointed to the baby boy in a stroller and labeled them: “I see little boy. I see stroller…..[Puzzled, he pointed to the blank space above the stroller and looked up at me with a scrunched face.] Where’s da mommy? Where’d da mommy go? She went bye-bye?” Apparently he just assumed all strollers have mommies pushing them! Priceless.
  • It’s kind of funny if I sit back and think about how often that orange Disney fish goes missing in our house. It’s like we are always finding Nemo. But I don’t mind one bit because it makes me chuckle to myself each time I think about it, and then I remember these days of finding Nemo are numbered so I hurry up and find the fish to get back to my own little boy.
Finding Nemo
Found One!

{My Grief and Loss and the Ray of Sunshine in My Life}

On May 28, 2015, my beloved grandma Beth Tielke passed away after a brief battle with cancer. I loved my grandma beyond belief and definitely beyond words. That became increasingly apparent in these weeks after she passed away because I longed to be able to put into words to people how much she meant to me and yet I felt like no one could truly know unless they shared our titanium bond. And while we had an amazing bond, let me also say that my grandma had a unique way of making anyone she was talking with feel like they were the most important person in the room, because to her, they were. Jokingly, she always told whichever child, grandchild or great-grandchild who was with her that they were her favorite. So if I have any family members read this, I know you were truly her favorite. 😉

I wanted to write this because I wanted to express the feeling of deep sadness I have but also something more intense. I have a strong impression from conversations with my grandma over the past couple years that she wants me to be able to carry on without her and have the best life possible, free of sadness as much as possible. Just this past year at Christmas she said in her most cheerful disposition, “Oh, I could die happy now because I know that you have everything you need and you have [your husband] and [child]!” Our family was used to Grandma saying things like that or about her own mortality with light-heartedness over the years, and I guess in a way she may have been preparing us for the inevitable so that we could one day face the reality of the loss ourselves.

I’m not sure that you can ever be fully prepared for the feelings and emotions that come with loss or the loss itself. But I do feel comforted by some conversations I had with her in which she told me everything was going to be fine. My grandma also faced difficult losses during her lifetime and I remember some of my favorite road trips with her involved talking about the signs that she had seen that indicated to her that her mother was watching over her. On those drives, I always looked at the sky through the windshield–day or night–and tried to envision heaven and those I knew who were there.

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My Baby’s Circus Themed 1st Birthday Party

For those of you who missed {My Baby’s Ringmaster’s Big Top 1st Birthday Party} last year, here is a round-up of some of the best party shots! See my Facebook page for more pictures of family and friends acting silly. 🙂 Here you’ll find DIY Ring Toss, DIY Ribbon Banner, “A Big Top Thank You” Circus Peanut Treat Bags, Party Hats with Clown Noses Atop, Ringmaster Mustache Kazoos and more!

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{Creating a Memorial Garden Space}

Yesterday my family experienced a sudden and unexpected loss that has shaken me. While I am deeply saddened and will be processing this loss for some time, I have decided to create a peaceful and healing space to remember my loved one.

My grandmother Helen was a strong, faith-filled woman who was very passionate about her hobbies and interests. She loved to decorate for Christmas like it was her job [and I’m talking multiple months spent decorating to achieve contest-winning results], she loved making seasonal and holiday wreaths for people [and had paying customers because of her creativity and craftsmanship], she loved singing, baking and making flower arrangements for her church [among other volunteer efforts], and she loved gardening.

Oh, how she loved gardening. When I was a little kid, I remember playing in her backyard while she watered her plants and told me about them. I’ll admit that I was more intrigued by the ladybugs and butterflies at a young age, but I loved the time with her and in recent years I gained my own appreciation for flowers. Though I still have a lot to learn because I do not have my green thumb yet. I remember one time in our first home as a married couple, I called to talk to Grandma Helen and asked her for advice on how to care for my transplanted rose bushes. Since I was an adult in that conversation (compared to the child in the garden), I got even more insight into her self-taught extensive knowledge of gardening. That was one of our longest calls ever and I really cherished it because I got to learn more about her and really hear the passion come through in her voice.

In memory of my gardening Grandma Helen, I want to create a sacred space in my next yard where I can go and smell the flowers she was fond of and feel her presence. I already have a backyard location in mind: a shaded, receded corner with the best view of the woods. Perhaps I will add a bench and create stepping stones with pieces of mosaic glass from something special that belonged to her (such as a broken but cherished Christmas ornament).

I have decided to begin planning my memorial garden so that when it comes time to meet with my landscaper in a few months, we will be able to use my memorial garden inspiration to create a special space to remember my dear grandmother. I believe that in this project and through the care of my trees, plants and flowers, I will find myself connected with her.

I know I can rest assured that there will be at least one singing angel with me in my memorial garden.

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