Happy Halloween

This year's solitary Halloween decoration.
It was a miserable September and it's been an even worse October, which pretty much made it impossible for me to feel any desire when it came time to decorate my house for Halloween.  So much so, that we didn't even carve pumpkins this year. 

I posted as much on Facebook this morning. 

A couple of hours later, Ken showed up with this adorable flower arrangement at my office door.  I love it.  I'm looking forward to taking it home and putting it in the center of my kitchen table, a little belated Halloween spirit.

Hopefully, I'll have pictures of a terrifying 10-year-old zombie and a brave gladiator to post either later tonight or early tomorrow.

Re-assessing and Re-evaluating

Tragedy has a way of forcing you to look at your life with a critical eye.  It makes you evaluate between what you think is important from what is truly important.  In the wake of Sean's death, I have found myself doing that very thing. 

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, it is a start.  These are the things I am going to make every effort to do with regularity and enthusiasm. 
  • Spend more quality time with Ken and the boys.  As a family we often share the same physical space, but we're continually distracted by our individual interests.  Ken is never without his phone or laptop, the boys are rarely without their computers or PSPs, and I always have a book or computer in my hands.  While I can't see any of us giving up these things, I don't think it's unreasonable for us to designate one night a week where we spend time doing a family activity like playing a board game or something.
  • Record the memories we make.  There are couple of different ways I'm going to go about this.  The most obvious way for me is to use this blog just as I have in the past.  Yet, there are some things that are too private for such a public platform, so I'm going to make an effort to start using some of the journals I've purchased over the years.  Life is ugly and messy and heartbreaking.  Those bits and pieces - painful as they may be - are going to start finding their way out to the page. 
  • Take more snapshots of our everyday life. For those who know how often I have a camera in hand, this may seem an impossible task because I already take a lot of pictures.  Some may even think too many.  Yet, the truth is a lot of my pictures focus on events.  It's time to shift my focus from sports photography to capture the moments that make us who we are. 
  • As a kind of continuation on the picture theme, I need to be in more pictures.  I need to hand the camera over to my husband and children or even complete strangers if necessary. 
  • Create more scrapbooks.  (This goes back to the idea of recording the memories we make..).  I need to scrapbook the photos when the memories are still fresh.  Not wait until the details are indistinct and irretrievable from my miserable memory. 
  • Return to the creative writing I love so much.  I spend a lot of time on homework, which I know is important, but it's at the expense of my creativity.  To help keep me motivated here, I think it's time for me to become an active member in one of the two creative writing groups I've been a member of in the past. 
Like I said, this list is not complete and likely leaves out some important facets of my life.  But it's a start.

Rest in Peace, My Friend

On Thursday, October 20, 2011, my family lost someone very dear in a tragic hunting accident.  The circumstances surrounding his death seem unimportant in the grand scope of things.  All that really seems to matter to us, his family, is that he's gone forever.  It hurts to look into a future without him.  It hurts to think of all the things he's going to miss, all the things his family - his wife and two beautiful, wonderful children - are going to do without him by their sides.  

What we have right now, what we cling to in our heartache, are the memories.  I think it's important to share those memories in order to keep him alive in our hearts and minds.  During the memorial service I wanted to stand up at the podium and tell everyone how Sean touched my life, as well as the lives of my husband and children.  I wasn't strong enough that day to say the things I wanted to say. 

So, while I sit here with tears streaming down my face and my heart heavy in my chest, I'm going to share what I couldn't on that very difficult day when we said our final farewells.

Sean married into my family because he fell in love with my spunky, strong-willed, and fun-loving cousin Jessica.  I stood up with them and watched them transition from boyfriend and girlfriend to husband and wife.  I have some great memories from that day, but the one that stands out the most has to be those minutes following the ceremony.  We had just finished taking pictures inside the church.  Most of the family and wedding party had drifted away, disappearing one by one until it was just me and Jessica.  We walked out of the church expecting to find everyone hanging out in front of the church.  Strangely, the wedding party had disappeared.  Jessica, temper flaring just a little, knew what had happened and where we'd find her wandering groom.  I'll never forget walking across the churchyard, holding her wedding gown in my hands to keep the train from getting grass-stained, only to find Sean and the rest of our bridal party sitting on someone's front porch drinking a beer.  Sean, in the way only he could, diffused Jessica's temper with a grin and a light-hearted comment.  He may have even handed her a beer to help take the edge of.

That's just one of many memories I have of Sean and Jessica together.  You see, Jessica and I share a very rare and special relationship.  She's always been a part of my life.  Someone who "gets" me when it seems no one else does.  I like to think it's the same for her, that I "get" her when it seems no one else does.  This kinship that seems to transcend the bond of blood and family lineage has resulted in so many shared experiences.  We grew up together, we went to school together, we worked together (and still do), we've partied together, and our families have vacationed together.

A lot of people, my husband included, have stories to tell about Sean that involve hunting or fishing trips.  While these two things gave him immense pleasure, my stories don't really touch on either subject.  My stories involve vacations to Las Vegas, Maine, and Munising.  I can tell you about boat trips across Michigan's midland waterway and camping trips over long holiday weekends.  I can tell you about how he went to watch fireworks in Caseville this last Fourth of July even though he really didn't want to - he did that for his kids because he was the kind of dad that put their happiness before his own.  I can tell you about searching for waterfalls after a visit to the Children's Museum in Marquette and how fast we left those wild woods because Jessica and I got freaked out by the thought of stumbling across a bear.

There are just so many memories.  So many things I never want to forget.  

Shiny Things

I've been a bit blocked lately when it comes to the blog.  It's not that I'm sitting on my thumbs with nothing going on.  I'm plenty busy.  Between work, school, the house, the kids, and the constant go-go-go that is our life, it seems as if I should have a lot to talk about. The problem is it all seems so mundane.

Well, except for this.  This seems pretty monumental...

I got a new car!  The hubby came home last Friday night and handed me the keys.  I knew we were planning on getting a new vehicle - the Malibu's reliability was becoming a concern, especially with winter approaching - but I thought we were going to wait another month or so before driving one of these lovelies home.  Hubby decided to surprise me with an early anniversary gift instead.

I love it!  Love it, love it, love it.  It has room for the children to stretch out and continue growing.  It has easy and accessible trunk space and lots of it.  It has a back-up camera so I shouldn't inadvertently run over anything. There's a touch screen for radio station selection, On-star assistance, and bluetooth connectivity.  Yes, that's right, I can now answer the phone without making a mad grab for my purse in hopes of locating my phone before the call goes to voicemail.

Yes, I love it.

Yes, I am spoiled.