Tuesday, November 25, 2014

in the alley

in order to practice for my photography class and to help my sister with some photos of her boys for their annual christmas greeting, we stole a sunday morning downtown and played.  we snatched a corner of graffiti alley and hung out for awhile.  the air was crisp and chilly, but the kids were absolute troopers.  and their smiles and compliance with my requests made it all worth it.  don't worry, we paid them with starbucks warmth in a cup when we were done.

i love crosby looking up to her older nephews in these next 2.

harper was a bit more hesitant than crosby to dance her heart away, so we let crosby just take center stage solo.

my favorite one from the day.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

and the meet went swimmingly

once upon a time, there was a swim school.  this swim school offered a pretty cool facility with 90* water, 93* air temp and classes for no more than 4 kids to teach them how to swim.  and after swim classes were accomplished, kids moved up to a rec team.  and with that rec team came occasional swim meets.  people were interested in this concept.  people joined.  us included.

it's been over 3 years since we first joined.  h took her lessons as far as she could go.  she moved up to rec team in september, and with that came the opportunity to participate in a swim meet.  she was nervous.  she did not want to participate.  we thought she could totally do it and wanted her to give it a try, so we forced highly encouraged her to swim.  together, we signed up and chose 2 races for her to complete, 2 races with the shortest distance and her best strokes.  25m freestyle and 25m backstroke.  the build up to this day was filled with so many questions, so many doubts, so much nervous energy, a few tears.  we encouraged, answered questions, build up self esteem, loved.  just what parents are supposed to do.  i knew she needed the challenge, and i knew she could crush it.

we arrived to goldfish, and she got herself ready.  and then she got more nervous as more and more people showed up.  she doesn't like to be around a lot of people.  she much prefers small groups.  she was worried and nervous, but her swim coach, maggie, and i gave her the facts and tried to ease her concerns.  i told her to breathe, and to find her bravery. 

she stood on deck after warm-up before the team cheer, one of the smallest in the group.  i watched through the window and felt my heart beating right up in my throat for her.  is this what it's like with each and every competition your child competes in?  goodness.  it can be nerve wracking!  

she was assigned to the first race.  the other 2 girls in her race were her age, one in her weeknight rec team class and the other in her class at school.  i think that eased her mind a bit.  

the coach called out.  "swimmers ready.  go."  and in she went.  

she didn't swim the fastest, but she swam with such amazing form.  her freestyle was perfection.  i think she would have swam faster if she hadn't kept looking over to her racemates and what they were doing.  but that's her, she's pretty social.  

and then in 25m, she finished.  second place.  32.23 seconds.  i don't think i could have wiped my smile away, i was so dang proud of her.  i took a deep breath.  one race down.  one to go.  

she went back in line, socializing with the other girls.  waiting for her next race.

and then it was her turn for the 25m backstroke.  this is her stroke.  maggie has been perfecting it for the last year.  and maggie was her biggest sideline cheerleader.  see her below?

harper glided gracefully to the finish and another second place.  36.14 seconds.

and we saw the biggest smile on her face when she exited the pool and was handed her ribbon.  whether it was from pride for what she accomplished or relief at being done with the meet, it didn't matter.  i saw a glimpse of pure happiness.

we left that swim school, and headed for some celebratory froyo.  i couldn't stop telling her how proud we were for her bravery and for accepting the challenge and for asking the questions to ease her worries.  she was such a rock star, and i secretly think she knew it.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

curly q

crosby has these amazing curls.  she has fair blonde hair and wide spiral curls, which are from her dad, and a layer of straight hair on top, passed down from her mama's poker straight locks.  looking at photos when michael was a young lad, he had the same bottom curls when his hair was a bit longer.  and i had the toe-headed blondness.

she is also very particular about her hair.  you have to be super careful when you brush it, because her scalp is sensitive.  she hates to have it washed.  she has to wear it down every single day.  she refuses a ponytail, pigtails, braids, half-up.  and anytime you tuck it behind her ears, she pulls it back out.

 i've been wanting to catch her curls on film, and i finally did.

my crosby catherine, curly q.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

art at the lake

one mid-week night, during my photo class, i took the girls out to our neighborhood lake to practice.  harper ran downstairs, telling me she had to get a few things.  when we arrived at the lake, she brought out her bag and began to set up her easel, canvas, paints and brushes.  she said she was going to paint what she saw.  this girl continues to amaze me with her creativity and her imagination.  so while she painted, crosby ran up and down the hill and tamed maximus for a bit.  just another memory to add to our bank.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

happy 10 maximus!

hello there buddy.  i can't even believe you are 10 years old.

 you are one heck of a good dog.  we chose you because when we went to look at your litter, you came over to us and started chewing on my shoelaces.  i felt like you chose us, so we had to choose you back.  that should have clued me in to all the chewing you would do in these last 10 years- baseboard molding, wooden doors, socks, wrapping paper, paper towel cardboard rolls.  but we forgive you.  you have allowed the girls to climb all over you since day 1.  you are calm and easygoing.  you are so warm and comforting.

we celebrated your day with vanilla ice cream, candles and an ice cream cookie dog treat.  sprinkles and all.  of course, we sang happy birthday and the girls blew out your candles.  we gave you some presents- a new bone and some stuffed animals with squeakers, because those are your favorite.  

happy 10th birthday, maximus.  we hope you know just how much we love and adore you.  here's to many more candles in your ice cream. ♥  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

one year

today marks one year.  one year since my diagnosis.  one year since the day that changed me.  changed us.  changed my thoughts, my character, my attitude.  i'm still so much the same person, but i feel adjusted.

i thought for a while about one word that best summed up this past year.  overwhelming.  emotional.  roller coaster.  heartbreaking.  family.  unexpected.  blessed.  it has been all of that for certain, but the one word that kept coming back to me was amazed.  how amazed i have been by the happenings of this last year.  amazed that my push to take my thyroid nodule out would turn into cancer.  amazed that i found strength to be away from my girls for 18 whole days.  amazed that our family had to endure even more heartache with my sister's cancer diagnosis.  amazed that michael and i found inner willpower and fight to train through 4 months of running to complete a half-marathon.  amazed that i actually finished a half, which i never thought i ever wanted to do.  and most significantly, amazed by the overwhelming and continuous outpouring of love, supports and beautiful gifts of friends, family and strangers.

i have 2 stories that have touched me so greatly this past year, and i want to share them.

over the summer, i was asked to meet an instructor at my daughters' swim school before one of our classes.  i've never met this instructor before, but we were linked through our swim coach, maggie.  she started following my story through maggie, through my photos on instagram, through here on this blog space.  we walked in the doors that afternoon and right up to meet kate.  kate was a young 20-something who was leaving for california that week, to be a nurse in the navy.  before she left, she wanted to give me something she had been working on since march, several months before.  what she handed to me and what she said still brings me to tears.  a beautiful quilt in pink, turquoise and purple, the colors of thyroid cancer, was given so lovingly to me and she told me how she felt touched by my story and wanted to do something for me.  i couldn't tell her thank you enough.  i was so in awe of this beautiful, young girl and the thoughtfulness that she possessed for me, a stranger whom she had never known.  so kate, thank you.  i look at that quilt daily, as we use it to warm us on a chilly day, or when we lay it out for a picnic, and i am ever reminded of your kind-hearted gesture and all the love you put into it.  it truly is amazing.

the second story happened just this week.  i am currently enrolled in a 4-week online photo class, something i have wanted to do for the past 4 years, but just never found the time or extra money to do, as the classes are definitely an investment of both.  but i turned 35 this year, and mentioned to michael that the one thing i wanted for my birthday was to take a class.  and it happened.  and i am loving it.  at the beginning, we share our story with the others in the class, and somehow, it came up about never being the perfect time to take a class, that our life is crazy busy, that the random thing i wanted to share about me was that i completed a half-marathon and i beat thyroid cancer.  odd to bring up now that i think about it, but it was fate.  a couple weeks into class, i received a personal message from a fellow classmate who lives in california.  she told me that she has 2 young daughters as well, and was touched by my story and was gifting me another photography class.  i sat there in tears reading her words, merry christmas from a random stranger.  kathleen, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  you'll never know how much that gift amazed me.

my eyes have opened.  my senses awakened.  i am learning to live my life as fully as i can.  yes, there are habits i'd like to break, things i'd care to change, but i'm human and i am not perfect.  i don't strive to be.  i strive to be enough.  i strive to be a patient, nurturing and forgiving mom, a loving and supportive wife, a listening and dependable friend, a hard-working and educated therapist, a random stranger who puts good into the world.  it's a balance.  i can't be all these things every day.  but i try.

last night, i returned to my favorite local studio for yoga after a brief hiatus.  my teacher never fails to utter words in each and every class that strike a chord within me and seem to be exactly appropriate and what i need to hear on that day.  she always tells us to forgive yourself when you fall out of balance.  to go a little bit further in the posture than you think you can.  to bring your mind back to where you are at that moment when it begins to wander.  and at the very end, to give your body a squeeze and love it exactly where it is.  i think i've learned to do so much more of all of that since last year.  to forgive.  to push myself.  to focus.  to love me.  last night, she then asked us to think of one empowering word or phrase, one positive to defeat all the negative.  and immediately it popped into my head.

i am enough.

thank you to my beautiful friend, laura, once again for these awesome family photos.
photos of harper + crosby individually shot by me. :)