A break from all things political…

Here is a short, heartwarming story…at least I think so:
When I arrived at school today, McKenzie’s co-teacher approached me and said, “I just have to tell you something that happened last week. We were all walking back to the classroom from outside, and I fell behind because of my bad leg. All the students and the other teacher were already around the corner, and McKenzie came back for me and said ‘Don’t worry Miss Mary, I’ll wait for you.’ I just had to tell you, she is such a little treasure. The most genuinely caring child I’ve ever met.” This woman has been a teacher for 30+ years…talk about making a momma proud! Maybe it’s because her Daddy’s a Marine: “leave no man behind.” Haha. ;) But seriously, I am so thankful for that little princess. She is literally our pride & joy.

Hey y’all, I learned how to curl my hair!

How sad am I? I’m 26-years-old and I’ve never known how to properly curl my hair. I always thought it wouldn’t curl because I have long, fine hair, but I found this tutorial which had some great tips!

And I recently bought a new ceramic curling iron for $19.99 (at Best Buy of all places)…it hadn’t occurred to me that my problem might be an old iron, but I was using a $10, 10-year-old iron. That probably didn’t help! My hair always went flat in minutes. Seriously. So between the new iron and the new technique, it really worked well and I was pretty pleased with the result (forgive the camera-phone pic).

In other news, there’s a lot going on in our lives right now that I’d love to discuss, but I just can’t yet. Have you ever been at a point in your life where there are SO many imminent changes, and you just don’t know where you’ll end up in 6 months? Even a year? That’s us right now.

My hubbs is graduating this December, and we originally had our hearts set on moving back to California  (Jon was stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA during his 4 years in the Marines). It’s the amazing weather! We planned on getting grown-up jobs and looking for a home and what-not, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to play out that way. And I’m being intentionally cryptic here…I’ll be happy to share our plans when they’re set in stone, but I don’t really want to jinx it right now! Big life changes though. *sigh* I wonder where we’ll be in a year! It’s both exciting and frustrating.

A Deathiversary

There are just some days when memories are so vivid. Some happy, some painful. Like today. A “deathiversary,” as I call it. The anniversary of either of my parent’s deaths is always hard. Always. I can’t help but feel like I was cheated, losing both parents by the time I was 24.

I was 16 when my dad died of a horrific disease known as Lou Gherig’s Disease (ALS) at age 45, and two years ago today, my mom died of multiple organ failure at age 54. In the following 4 months, I would lose my remaining 3 grandparents as well. Talk about a stressful year.

4 months before she died.

Anyhow, both my parents were amazing people, and I have nothing but fond memories of my childhood. Even though they’re gone, I know I’m lucky. I know they did their best to raise independent, intelligent, kind, creative, loving daughters. I’m so happy with my life and I’m proud of who I am today…I feel strongly that both my parents would be too, and that makes me smile. I’m incredibly fortunate to have had them in my life, even for a little while, and I know that.

My sister, Mom, Stepdad (Jeff), and myself at their wedding in 2006.

I was SO close with my mom. She was my default “call” on a long drive to talk. We talked every day. I knew her not only as a mother, but as a person…and I’m so grateful she was my mom. She was compassionate, caring, and always put herself first (to a fault). When I was a teenager, we had our differences, but who doesn’t? And nothing was unforgivable. She was my constant supporter, cheerleader, and best friend. She was hilarious and had a dirty, dirty mind (so funny to learn about your parents!). She was the strongest, most positive person I know, and she intentionally and consciously looked at life with a “glass half-full” attitude. And I will always admire her inner strength…she went through several battles in life that would have broken or scarred any other individual. She was a fighter. I love my family so much, and I’m so proud she was my mom.

Parasailing in Mexico 2009.

I remember after she died (both my parents, really), the worst part is feeling like life goes on. The world keeps spinning, even though your world has stopped. If you’ve ever lost someone close, I’m sure you know what I mean. The worst thing you can say to someone is: “I know how you feel.” It’s such a selfish thing to say! Everyone experiences things differently, so even if you lost a parent too, you cannot presume to know how I feel. Urgh. Never say that to anyone who has lost someone, please. Under any circumstances.

Anyhow, today on her “Deathiversary,” I think about that day two years ago. About how she was at home with hospice on a ventilator and the nurses knew it was coming. Her heartbeat slowed. Her breathing slowed. And we all held her hand as she took her last breath. I remember I felt an overwhelming sadness, and a sense of relief…she was no longer in pain. I still think of her all the time. It would be impossible to forget with the daily reminders…a mug I have from her sailing days in the ’70s, Dancing with the Stars, Andrea Bocelli, Santana, books she bought McKenzie. I find I have a hard time getting rid of things she got McKenzie. But that’s just it…I’ll always miss her. The world feels like it stops, but life goes on. And you just live, because you know they would want you to.

Mall of America, 2007.

On another note, my sister wrote this and it echos my sentiments exactly…it’s just beautiful and perfect:

Dear Mom,

I’m done being mad at the world because you’re gone. I’ve cried countless times in the past two years and will keep crying because I can’t hold your hand, because I can’t hear your laugh or encouraging words, because I don’t find paper towels in my clothes you borrowed, because you’re gone and I miss you every single day, but I won’t be mad. You were the best cheerleader in the world. You taught me about love, about holding my head high, about persistence, about determination, and about life. But I still need to keep telling myself I’m glad you’re gone. You’re not suffering. You’re not in pain…I love you mom. Always have. Always will. I hope I can be as amazing as you were. I hope I can be that cheerleader for [my daughter]. I hope I will turn into that voice in her head telling her to keep it up, to keep going, telling her she’s loved. I’m so sad that your gone, but refuse to say goodbye, and never will, so I’ll see you later.

I love you with all my heart and soul.

♥ Your Daughters

My mom holding Abbey (my niece) and Jeff holding McKenzie.

My bright-eyed girl.

Oh, McKenzie. You light up our lives. Your bright eyes and contagious smile make us complete.

This picture reminds me of why I bought my camera in the first place. When McKenzie was a baby we used to go to Sears Portrait Studio to get her photos done. They were nice enough, and we were happy with them because they were our beautiful baby girl.

One day, though, we went and not only did they make us wait 45 minutes past our appointment time, but the photographer told McKenzie she was being “bad.” Um, yeah. Never call my kid bad. I wanted to smack her. Just sayin’. And if she had bad behavior, maybe it’s because we waited nearly an hour past our appointment, and it was her nap time. (And for the record, she wasn’t being bad, she just wasn’t looking at the camera).

After that little incident I decided I could do better myself. And I do. This is my McKenzie…it’s her. It’s her personality captured perfectly in a photo, and this is what I aim to do with all my clients. But I guess it was a good thing in the end, because it gave me the push I needed to start my business. No more Sears for us. =)