Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning Past

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Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Friday, December 23, 2011

Appetizer

One of Jared's favorite snacks - coffee and ice cream sandwiches featuring whatever type of cookie we may have on hand. The sandwiches pictured below make use of a few homeless cranberry-orange and pistachio-mango cookies. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life

Today I read the autopsy report. I don’t know if any of you have ever read one. They’re written from the point of view of the pathologist performing the autopsy. They start from the point of receiving the body in the bag. What color the bag is. The tags and numbers affixed. Any observations of the body. Color. Abrasions. Bruising. A note of every needle mark from the IVs. Rigor mortis present. Incisions. Fluid. Weighing bits and pieces that were a warm, giggling, clever child just two days before. Cardiac arrest. Unfixed bowels. Hemorrhage in the lung.

Although I often choke up watching videos of Ryann, she’s not always the object that tears at my heart. Often it’s the voices behind the camera. The innocent, clueless, content parents. I want to scream at them, warn them of what’s coming. Let them have a chance to brace for impact. Prepare themselves. When I watch a video I find myself calculating how many days it was before she died. How many days they had left together. How many more hours to hold on to. But they don’t know. I feel panicked for them. It’s a horror movie where they can’t hear the music that precedes the turn and all you want to do is shake them.

One of the most helpful things I learned as a pianist was to keep going. The temptation after a memory slip or stumble is to play heavier, think about the mistake, and tense up. It’s natural. But it doesn’t help and only causes more stumbles, sometimes a complete halt. Instead it’s better to force yourself to keep moving, don’t look back, loosen up. Take a deep breath, slow your heart, settle into the music. If you prepared with quality practice, the performance is the time to trust in it. Trust that you know what to do. Trust your fingers. A flaw can destroy the portion that follows and dim the memory of what preceded, or it can enrich the piece by reminding the listeners that the performer is human and make the beauty even more precious.

That’s the mantra I keep repeating. Remember Ryann, but don’t settle down into a rut of grief, don’t get stuck in looking back. Remember, be happy. Move forward, stay light. Trust that the pain will lessen, the memory will stay. Enjoy innocent happiness even though I know how quickly it can change. Trust that there’s more to reach for and remember everything I had. The landscape is much different than I expected, the journey has not been smooth, but I trust that the whole will be beautiful. I wish it hadn’t happened, but it has. I refuse to be destroyed by this and instead it will be a forever reminder to love, laugh, live wholly and fully and regretlessly. Life is amazing, see it for what it is.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Relic of the Wobble Walker

As stated before, Ryann was an early walker. People who didn't know her well would frequently assume that she wasn't very coordinated, due to the fact that she was always falling down. As they got to know her they would quickly realize that rather than these falls being from a lack of coordination, they instead occured because of her own overconfidence and daring. She never walked the wobbly straight line that first walkers usually perfect, instead she decided it was time to conquer cornering. She wasn't content with strolling through the grass, she would take off at top speed over the lawn and tumble in a divot.

This video was taken when she somewhere between nine and ten months old, immediately following one of her nightly piano recitals. She had just started walking when she was nine months and was still extremely wobbly, but she refused to go back to hands and knees and spent her time perfecting her newfound skill.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Birthday Card

My parents sent Ryann a singing birthday card for her first birthday. That card quickly became one of her favorite toys and she spent countless hours roaming the house while singing, dancing, and babbling to her card. Since she played with it so often and usually quite roughly, the tension mechanism in the spine got to be a bit glitchy and sometimes wouldn't play just by opening the card. This would usually mean a worried Ryann running to us with the card outstretched. I don't know what we would have done if that card would have actually broken.

Ryann was usually a side-to-side dancer, a method which included wild swinging arms, much like a chimpanzee. In this video you will see her demonstrate the infrequently used up-and-down technique, Kayla's preferred style at that time. Ryann's about 15 months old in this video.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Winter has hit the Midwest. Saturday brought our first true blue snowstorm and it's not going anywhere in the near future. The high for today is 30 degrees. We're frozen in and getting practice skating around on the icy roads.


The Union College Clocktower

This snow reminded both Jared and I of last winter and Ryann's first real interaction with snow. At first she was a bit unsure. It was cold. It was slippery. It was confusing.

   

But as she got used to it and learned that it could be fun, she would regularly beg us to let her outside to play. We would usually bundle up and rush outside to play for a few minutes before tumbling back inside to warm up and dry off. However, this morning she had ideas of her own. She disappeared into her room and came out carrying boots, socks, and a sweater. She demanded to be dressed and let outside. With her giraffe of course. We had to acquiesce.

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Ryann's about 13 months in the first two videos and about 14 months in the second.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Face

A week before Ryann died she started making the most amazing face. It all began when she was pouting about not getting her wished for lunch, chips or some such un-lunch appropriate food. She squeezed her chin down to her chest, frowned her eyebrows down tight over her eyes, and glared up at me. But then she realized how silly she was being and grinned. With the rest of her face still in place. It was truly a creepy little face. Axe murderer style. I laughed so hard that she immediately added it to her repertoire of gags-to-pull-for-laughs and even did it on command.

'Jared, watch this.'

'Ryann, make The Face!'

'Agh!'

Sadly the only video/picture I have of this amazing 'The Face' is in a video of her lounging in her baby carseat. Since this means she was reclining, the whole scowling upwards effect was a bit lost. But the eyebrows are still there.

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Jared and I have been working our way through all of the back episodes of Parks and Recreation.

So. Much. Fun.

The other night in the middle of an episode we both jumped up gasping and then collapsed into maniacal laughter.

It was THE FACE!

s3ep2 GOLD
Just imagine THIS completely self-satisfied grin . . .

VIDEO: 'Parks and Recreation's' Ron Swanson and Meat Products, A Love Story
with THESE crazy eyebrows.

On Ron, this look commonly occurs in conjunction with some meaty experience. You can ignore that. Just bask in the amazingly creepy combo of scowl and grin.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Glitter Surprise

Yesterday morning I had this adorable package sitting next to my glasses when I woke up. Jared takes the Christmas season seriously and begins the gifts and surprises early. I'm not complaining.




Morning Face

This is what Jared and I wake up to if we dare to sleep past 6am. I think he's taken it upon himself to fill Ryann's early-morning-alarm role until the next munchkin can take up the torch.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Motivation

I haven’t always been the most motivated person around. In fact, I frequently exhibit some distinctly lazy tendencies. I’ve been known to skip the gym and instead sit at home to watch a show while sipping on coffee and munching a cookie. Or to take a nap instead of mopping the floor. Not exactly an even trade. Okay, this may actually happen more frequently than occasionally. I enjoy relaxing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I get a lot of stuff done. My love of relaxing combined with the perfectionism instilled by my dear comb-wielding Mother has led me to be an extremely efficient worker. I work quick, I work fast, or I don’t work much.

I have found that when I hit a large long-lasting roadblock that I tend to find a way around it rather than working through it. Sometimes this is fine. Sometimes it is not.

-:-

Prior to college and through my junior year I had been known throughout the music department for my capacity to memorize pieces well and quickly and for my nerves of steel and love of performing. I lived for the adrenaline rush of blasting out a Beethoven sonata that I had just learned in front of a crowded room. It was thrilling. And then I went through a bad breakup, my memory faltered, and my love of performing vanished. I still had a year left in order to complete my degree and a senior recital looming on the horizon.

I was terrified. I couldn’t do it. I hadn’t been able to make it through a single piece without at least one major memory slip in over a year and I knew there was no way I had the stamina or strength to make it through an entire program. I tried to find a way around it. A paper. A project. A recital using the music. But I was stonewalled. It was a recital or nothing.

I distinctly remember sitting down and realizing that it wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t going to graduate. I had completed five full years of classes, two full length recitals, sat in a practice room for six hours a day, had tens of thousands of dollars in student loans just waiting to come due, and I had failed.

And then I found out I was pregnant. And I knew that I had to find a way. It was no longer just me. I wasn’t just letting myself down. I couldn’t give up knowing that someday I would be telling my own daughter that she could be anything she wanted to be when I hadn’t been able to do it myself. My recital took place less than a month before my bulletin year expired. I was three months pregnant with Ryann. And I was proud.

-:-

I’ve never been an incredibly active person. I’ve never played sports. I’ve never found pleasure in exercise. And I love food. This didn’t show its effects until Jared and I met. Jared also loves food.

We love to cook. We love to eat. We love to feed others.

By the time I got pregnant I was 50 pounds above what I had been. 50 pounds. And I knew there was more to come with Ryann. I got lucky with my pregnancy and craved almost entirely fruit. I would regularly down half a watermelon, 2 peaches, 5 apricots, a banana, a bowl of applesauce, and a pear for breakfast. Thank goodness it wasn’t Snickers. By the time Ryann was two months old I was back to where I began, which was still well over where it should be.

This started my gym habit. Before this I could never sustain any exercise regimen. I didn’t care enough. It was too hard. I didn’t see results quickly. But now I had Ryann. I wanted to be healthy for her. I wanted her to see that health is valued. So we went to the gym.

Three mornings a week I would load her into the stroller at 7am and we would walk the half mile down to the gym to an early morning BOSU class. I would keep her stocked with toys or lay her out on a blanket a safe distance from the weights and would breathlessly bounce around with the ridiculously chirpy leader. Two nights a week we would jaunt back down for yoga. Ryann’s second year saw us at the gym every day at lunch. Ryann making eyes at the old men on stationary bikes, me trying to get in a couple miles on the treadmill.

It was hard to have the motivation to get down to the gym instead of having a relaxing lunch. But we did it and we had fun doing it. These are some of my most precious memories. And I was proud.

-:-

Ryann gave me a tenacity that I had never known before. She made me a stronger person. She gave me a faultless reason to better myself, my home, and the world. I will not stop now.

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Ryann kicking it at BOSU

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reminders of Joy

One of the things that we did while my Mom was in town over Ryann's birthday was to go paint ourselves silly at Paint Yourself Silly. Jared was a bit on the fence about this excursion, but ended up having fun painting his itty bitty Christmas ornaments. Mom went all out with her freckled elephant mug and I stuck with my limited painting skills and colorblocked a votive set.

This is the second time I've ventured down to Paint Yourself Silly and as fun as it is sitting, painting, and gossiping with friends, picking up the finished products is the best part. The colors are more vibrant, the finish is smooth and sleek, and even the crudest chocolate-dipped-cherry-esque Christmas ornament ends up looking intentional and new.

When my sister and I were pre-teens our parents enrolled us in a pottery class together. We not only got to paint pieces, but form, fire, and finish them. This class led to the shining moment in my art life. While Kristin went on to become a successful artist, this class was my spotlight. Actually, now that I'm thinking of it, she made a two-foot long lounging gold leopard that has resided on Mom's patio ever since. However, the two pieces that everyone in my family remembers from that class are two cats that I made. One is a fat little paperweight that I made for Dad, who I don't think has ever done a stitch of paperwork in his life. The other is a stovetop spoon holder for Mom. Apparently my young self was a bit sexist.

Both times I've moonlighted at PYS I've been taken back to that class. I remember the dust, the slip running through my fingers, the kiln in the corner. I remember the fun of creating something, the enjoyment of something so simple. I remember washing my hands and jumping into the van when Mom picked us up at the end of class. I love finding those moments of simple joy and fun. They are what Jared and I mold our life for. They are the point. Simple and true, happiness and peace that you don't fight for or work for, that just are.




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Little Bit of Home at Work

I finally got around to putting up some pictures at work. Maybe this will help with the Office Manager/Student Worker confusion. Now the office reflect just a bit of me.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Visitors

We have been thoroughly enjoying storming the town with our friends, the St. Clairs. Becky and Jason are a blast and their little girl Kayla is insanely fun. We've been watching 'choo trains' on Youtube, playing in Ivanna Cone's mini kitchen, and visiting the bison out at Pioneers Park (unfortunately Kayla was more than a little dissapointed that they were not elephants).

Not only has playing with Kayla been so much fun, but it's been amazingly bittersweet to imagine what this visit would have been like if we weren't down one tiny person. Picturing two little rugrats tearing up the house and demanding to stay up later and have just one more cookie. We've teared up being able to see so clearly what Ryann might have been up to by now, how much she might have been talking, how opinionated she may have become.

Kayla's expecting a sibling in May, along with several of Ryann's little friends. The next batch of children are on their way. It's nearly time to jump on the bandwagon.

Waiting for her 'maconi uh cheese'.

Playing at the Pioneers Park Nature Center.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Displaying Our Wealth

Because in this case, we like to show off what we have. A beautiful shining daughter, a warm and welcoming home, and a heartful of memories to cherish.


Guestroom Wall Hangings

Ryann's Masterpiece, drawn with Daddy the week before she died.


Poptop Love

My tiny Poptop containers make the perfect snack holders for work. Love.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

'Tis the Season


Usually I'm one of the crowd complaining about how quickly stores jump from Halloween to Christmas.

'What about Thanksgiving?'
'Wait until December!'
'They're just out to make money.'

But I've found that this year it's different. I'm loving the holiday cheer. I'm soaking up the bright colors, shimmering decorations, and spiced treats. This year needs a little extra cheer and currently Pier 1 and Target are doing the job.


It Has Begun

The first juice up this morning is the green one. It felt like I was drinking straight up salad - green and tangy and strong. It took me a full hour to drink the entire bottle.

I'm looking forward to the mid-morning juice, pineapple-apple-mint.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Old Stomping Grounds

This past weekend we piled into the car and headed down I-80 so that Jared could see a couple of my old homes. When my sis, Kristin, and I attended Union College our parents lived nearby.

We started out in a crazy awesome old schoolhouse in Goehner. Seriously. We had an indoor half court gym with built in concrete bleachers, a 1200+ sq. ft. hardwood floored performing hall complete with a stage, a grand staircase entrance, and my own bedroom was approximately 600 sq. ft. I had my bed in the middle of the room, a huge sectional couch on one side, blackboards lining the walls, and my walk-in closet was as large as my bedroom is now. It looks like whoever owns it now is doing some major work. They've boarded up about half of the windows and it looks like they're dividing the massive rooms into more manageable ones. And they took out the gym. That was a sad revelation.



We then traveled down the road to Beaver Crossing where we found this.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow! I'll Juice You, Tomorrow!

Tomorrow I start my Foundation Cleanse. I'm a bit nervous and I miss food already. Saturday! You feel so far away! I'll let you know how it's going and how I feel.

Although I'm doing this here thing primarily to cleanse, I would also welcome losing a few pounds. A few facts about me and what has lured me to try this cleanse.
  • An unidentified autoimmune condition which tends to flare up a bit more in cold weather. I woke up last Wednesday barely able to bed over. Ouch!
  • Along with the above, autoimmune conditions often flare up more due to certain chemicals. I've found that diet and stress play a huge roll in mine. Hopefully this will flush out any stray ick that may cause me problems this winter. (I've also recently limited my gluten intake and my body and brain are already thanking me.)
  • Last ditch effort to shed a few before gaining a few more with the wee babe we plan to create in the near future. For myself, better beginning weight = happier-healthier pregnant me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thank You

Ryann's birthday was a good day, but hard. It was made much better by all of the stories and memories that we were able to read throughout the day. Thank you so much for helping to make this day so special. You brought a smile to our faces, tears to our eyes, and frequently a resounding laugh would break out. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Birthday Cake

For Ryann's second birthday we decided to make an irresistibly pink strawberry and cream cake and matching cupcakes.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

What I Want for Ryann's Birthday

This is a heads-up to everyone.

I'm going to ask for something specific from you as a gift to us on Ryann's birthday.

Tomorrow I want to see this comments section flooded with an influx of stories that you have of Ryann, be it photos or memories or general reactions. I want to know how Ryann touched you. This is the best present that I can think of. This is what I want for her birthday.



Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Ryann's birthday. She was supposed to be two years old. We were supposed to be baking and planning and cleaning in preparation for a party, instead we're spending the week packing up her room. My Mom's here to help us. She's gone with us to Target to get storage bins, cooked us dinner, cleaned the house. Tomorrow we'll all go visit Ryann's grave and spend time together. Our family, as it is right now, for a moment.

The stuffed friends who
aren't going to the garage.
Ryann's half-empty room.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Drink on One Hand, A Keyboard in the Other

Gangsta Ryann chillaxin' on her music machine.

Photos from My Weekend

No, we were not on the bus, just walking by.

Jared bowled kinda amazingly.
 
Antique stores are the best.

A free-standing public restroom building in rural NE.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Completed Project

I picked up my fired set of measuring spoons from Paint Yourself Silly and they turned out better than I expected! Now I just have to test that they actually measure accurately.


Grey Day

It's been a grey day, inside and out.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Local Event

Dude.

Downtown Eating

This weekend Jared and I finally made it down to The Green Gateau. So good. I can't wait to head back. It happened to be an unseasonably warm day which let us lounge outside and yell over the sound of traffic careening by next to us. There's not much I love more than downtown patio eating.



Jared's Eggs Florentine Benedict with a Potato Pancake.
And his requisite amount of ketchup.
  
My Crepes Florentine. I also had a Blueberry Muffin which had an ideal amount of crunchy-buttery
strudel topping and a side of butter. Which I initially mistook for whipped cream. Whoops.