April 23, 2014

The hole that can never be filled

Technically, this was not our first Easter without dad. But it was the first holiday since his death, so it felt different. In many ways, as much as I love the holiday, I was dreading it. I wasn't sure I would be able to hold myself together.

We went to church with my mom in the morning, as we always do. And it was lovely. At the end of the service, I joined the choir in singing the Hallelujah Chorus, something I have done for years. It was so strange not to look out and see Dad's smiling face. Focusing on hubby's face helped.

After the service, the man who had been singing next to me stopped me and said, "You have an incredibly beautiful voice." It was such a nice compliment, and put a smile on my face.

We went over to the columbarium where dad was laid to rest to visit with him. That was when the emotions came. Especially when SB knelt down spontaneously and did this:

Oh. My. Heart. She misses her BaBop so much, and has been seeing a grief counselor to help her deal with all her big emotions (I will write about that another day).

We did manage to pull ourselves together to take a pretty decent family photo. The first one I can remember us getting in quite some time!

All in all, it was a nice day. I know as time goes on there will be more dates and occasions where my dad's absence looms large. That is to be expected. But we will get through it because we have each other.

The following day, SB, my mom and I attended a special event in honor of my dad. The golf community where my parents had lived for more than 12 years (and mom still calls home), planted a tree in his memory.

Dad was President of the golf club for several years, and a very active, well loved member of the community. The head groundskeeper had a particularly special relationship with him. He selected a beautiful bottle bush tree, because my dad loved trees that blossom. He also ordered a memorial plaque for the base of the tree:

Club staff members, friends and our family gathered to celebrate Dad. Many shared a few of their favorite memories. The tree is located in a gorgeous spot, and it will be so incredible to be able to visit through the years and watch it grow.

Mom passes the spot daily when she walks her dog. And SB loved the small red blossoms. She also delighted in running around the grassy area.

Hold on a sec, let me zoom in a little closer, because speaking of holes, there is something you may have missed. Actually, two things...

SB lost her first two teeth over the Easter break! The first one came out (with a little help from yours truly after she begged me) Thursday night. So we had a visit from the Tooth Fairy! It was so fun to see her anticipation, and the reaction the following morning. Truly magical.

We had not even known she had any loose teeth until her semi-annual visit to the dentist on Wednesday! He said the two bottom teeth were so loose he had no idea how they were still in her mouth. We had done NOTHING to prepare for the Tooth Fairy's first visit, so I was panicked.

I had all kinds of ideas for fun Tooth Fairy related stuff we could possibly make. But I wasn't going to have time for any of them! That night, I found some cute, free printables on Hallmark.com (in case you ever end up needing something like this last minute). SB LOVED the envelope I made. She thought it was awesome. And the next morning, there was also a certificate by her pillow, along with what she really wanted, of course. Cash in the envelope.

Yesterday morning I looked at the second loose tooth, and it was turning black. The root had died and it was barely hanging on by a thread. Afraid it might actually be lost if it fell out at school, I gave one gentle little tug, and a very excited, proud five year-old went to school to show off the new hole in her mouth.

While several of her classmates have lost a tooth, she is the first to have lost two. She was like a mini-celebrity in the hallway of school yesterday morning. Nothing was going to wipe that smile off her face.

Unlike the hole my dad's death leaves in our lives, the one in SB's mouth will eventually be filled. With adult teeth! Ack! Make it stop! This growing up business is all happening entirely too quickly...

April 17, 2014

Slice of perfect

My friend Jill Krause at Baby Rabies is doing a fun challenge. It's called the Slice Of Perfect In Our Messy Reality- A Photography Challenge. I love the concept as much as I love Jill's photography skills. So of course I am joining in.

It seems especially fitting since I've been blogging about photography all week.

I want to start out by talking about our dining room. It is actually the one room in our house that has yet to be taken over by kid stuff (with the exception of a Little People Disney princess castle that sits on the floor because there is nowhere else for it to go).

The dining room has been my favorite room for that very reason. It often feels like the only connection I have to my former life. The one when I used to host dinner parties and have a social life. Wear nice clothes. When I could actually take a shower, style my hair and put on makeup. Every day.

Many times, when people come to our home, they marvel at the fact we have a, "grown up room." If I wanted to show you the Slice of Perfect, I might use an image like this:

Or perhaps:

Isn't that lovely? Of course, I purposely left the castle out of those shots:

Kind of changes the mood. And let's not even talk about how many times I have stepped on one of those @&*#ing princesses late at night, m'kay?

Lately, my daughter has fallen in love with Legos. And I have found the dining room table is the best place for her to build with them. They don't work on the carpet well, and our coffee table is too small. So when she wants to build, I clear the dining room table and let her go to town.

It's basically the only time the table is ever used, save the holidays. If I wanted to show you a Slice of Perfect, I'd crop in close and go with something like this:

Sweet, isn't it? She could play with Legos for hours, which is great. The result is, this is what my dining room looks like much of the time now:

A pile of Legos can sit there for days, forgotten, until I finally convince her to put them away. She might build a zoo, or a city, and my dining room becomes a mini-metropolis for a period of time. That is the Messy Reality. And the truth is, I love it.

Why should the dining room sit unused and untouched? Why shouldn't she take advantage of the space to let her imagination soar? I can't think of a single good reason. And at least I can't step on Legos on a table!

Now, my sanctuary in this home is my bedroom. It is also my office, and when I participate in video chats or host Google+ Hangouts On Air, I make sure the room is immaculate. This is the Slice of Perfect I put on display for those occasions:

I use a desktop computer, so I have no option but to record from my bedroom. Of course, it always looks just like this. (Insert sarcasm font here.)

In reality, every day my daughter does this to our bed the moment I have made it:

She calls it her, "nest." And you know what? It looks more Slice of Perfect to me than Messy Reality. She is, after all, pretty darn cute. But when she's moved on, my "perfect" bed looks like this:

Not quite the image I normally project. Of course, if I really wanted to be realistic, I would have thrown a pile of dirty laundry on the end of the bed for good measure.

If I were to show you the true Slice of Perfect from this scene, it would look something like this:

Yep, she can pretty much always convince me to snuggle up with her. I mean, how boring is a perfectly made bed, anyway? Of course, it will be interesting to see when I crawl in there tonight what toy ends up jabbing me in the back or side...

What else am I not showing people? If I really wanted to highlight the Ross Family Messy Reality, I could take photos of the urine and feces our dog leaves on the kitchen floor Every. Single. Time. We. Leave. The. House.

But I like you nice people too much to subject you to that.

It's left an image in your head you'd like to forget though, hasn't it? I'm sorry. Kittens. Think about kittens. Here...

Is that better? Now, off you go! Have a nice day! And remember to enjoy your own messy realities. Because they are what the best of life is really made of!

April 16, 2014

Boneyard Beach

So as I mentioned on Monday, I set off on a special adventure last week. The goal, do something for me. And also flex my creative muscles. 

The location was a place known as "Boneyard Beach." It is part of a Florida state park in the far Northeast corner of the state. The name comes from the hundreds of dead trees that have fallen on the beach as it has eroded over the years.

The sun, sand and water have left the trees looking very much like skeletons. It is a photographer's dream, a very popular and beloved spot.

I had to schedule my time around SB's being at school. The lighting was not ideal; it was the middle of the day. But the tide was low and the weather was gorgeous.

I didn't even care if I got any decent shots. I was just going to play around and enjoy myself. And I did. But, I think I also got some pretty good photos.  In addition to the traditional shots of this beach, I tried to look beyond the obvious and focus on things many people might not notice.

I had a blast, and can't wait to get out with the camera again soon!

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