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time + patience = wow!

Last week while visiting family in Black Canyon, Arizona I had several hours with no plan. It was spring break for my daughters, and this sort of time of “nothing” was exactly what I needed. As the girls napped following a wild Jeep ride with their grandpa (as teenagers they nap—why didn’t this happen so easily when they were little?), I spent time just soaking up my surroundings. The home we stayed at had a wrap around deck that over-looked the Sonoran Desert. Noticing that hummingbirds (one of my absolute favorite creatures) were repeatedly visiting their feeders I decided to head outside with a camera to observe them more closely. These sweets-loving, fast flyers were quite shy, but patience paid off—letting myself have no expectations but to watch and enjoy their show.

Several years ago, while watching another hummingbird in my back garden, the thought streamed through me ~ “keep putting your nose in flower after flower” ~ wise advice that I was reminded of on this lovely spring afternoon in Arizona.

peace today

::Suzee

Seoul Searching

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Moving to a entirely different part of the world has gotten my wheels turning so fast, I haven’t really had time to process it all. Every facet of our life has changed in these eight months. More on THAT later. What I can tell you is that we absolutely love Korea and explore the magical city of Seoul as much as time allows. It never disappoints. Today I’m sharing the day we spent exploring Hyehwa Mural Village and walking along the Fortress Wall. While much of Korea’s heritage has been destroyed because of war, Korea’s long and storied history is still ever-present due to reconstruction and preservation efforts. Seoul is very much a modern, bustling city, but the juxtaposition with ancient Korean architecture that is scattered throughout the city isn’t lost on us. A strong desire for our children to understand they are part of something much bigger than themselves was a primary motive for our choice to live overseas. Today was one of those days that this lesson was starkly evident. As we descended along the wall, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza designed by world renowned architect Zaha Hadid, came into view. It was the closest experience to time traveling that I’ve ever encountered. I hope that these images evoke some of this and I hope you enjoy them. Cheers! On a side note, poor Ellie (not really) was in JAPAN for basketball finals, so she wasn’t able to join us on this particular day, but the realization that her days with us are numbered isn’t lost on me. “Mom”ing isn’t for the faint of heart.

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Mary Jo - Such amazing pictures! What a great experience you all are getting to enjoy!

twopoppies2012 - K – you made me cry… good crying tears… happy and loving tears.

I miss you grandma

grandmac-grandkids
My grandma C’s death visited me in a dream a few nights ago. In it, I got a phone call that she had just died and I cried and cried in my sleep – wishing that my girls had gotten to know her – that I had visited her more recently. It’s so fresh in my mind and I miss her terribly – a fresh sorrow for her presence fills me.

Grandma C was a warm and comforting person. She was welcoming to anyone – all different types of folks were present nearly every time we visited, and definitely on holidays. Her home was never a perfect showcase – but it always smelled so good – either from the food she was cooking (those enchiladas!) or from her soaps and perfumes. Hugging grandma brought her love to physical reality – she was short and a little cushiony – arms enveloping with such warmth. Her giggle was infectious and mischievous and she had a twinkle in her eyes when she laughed. I remember her ability to play down any health issues (a true warrior!) – heart surgeries, insulin needles, wigs, dentures, prosthetic breast – were all out in the open and not hidden – she wasn’t embarrassed by them. It was all part of life. She didn’t expect people, or life, to be perfect. She was also a survivor of domestic abuse and yet it did not diminish her spirit. She just loved, worked hard, and kept accepting each new day. She was very entrepreneurial – making custom draperies and heat resistant gloves – in her own sewing “factory” (a converted garage on her property). The times she attempted to share with us how it all worked were a treat. I was especially fascinated by how the black light crayon used to mark the fabric lit up so magically! Her life was never easy, but then again she never for a moment expected it would be.

I miss the Easter egg hunt extravaganzas – the candy dish – the string cheese in her fridge… I miss when she pulled me aside to tell me one-on-one that she thought I was amazing. I miss how she brought our family together. It’s interesting who we idolize in the world – it’s rarely the simple people who share their love with those around them in big and small ways. These people are heroes though – they make a difference in people’s lives. They create memories to be cherished and they bind together families. Treasures. Perfection amongst imperfection.

Her death feels fresh to me right now – tears flowing – memories flooding in. In actuality she passed 25 years ago today – but in my dream she left me all over again. Or maybe she came to visit me with these memories so that my perspective could shift. I can take her example and do my best to live NOW – enjoying life in this moment in its lovely imperfection. Accept people – exactly as they are. I love you grandma C. Thank you for being a great teacher to all those who were blessed to know you. (Maybe can you come back again and share that enchilada recipe with me?)

::Suzee

the scariest day of my life

Eva_2

Ten years ago today was the scariest day of my life. Waking up my two-year-old daughter at 5:00 am, getting her ready, and heading out the door felt like pure torture. She didn’t understand where we were heading to, even though I had tried to explain it to her. My husband and I drove to the hospital in near silence – both of us handling this extreme fear in our own way. {I wish I knew then what I know now about breathing techniques to calm nerves – it would have been extremely helpful.} I don’t remember too much about arriving, checking in, etc. My first vivid memory is having to hand over my very confused and upset baby to the nurse, who kindly let her take her stuffed animal with her, knowing she was heading into a very serious operation – open heart surgery. They were about to open up my baby’s perfect body, put her on a heart lung machine, and perform a very rare operation fixing two defects in a completely new way – it was beyond agony. My husband and I barely talked for the next 4-5 hours during the operation. I remember eating in the cafeteria at some point, but that’s about all.

When we got the call that she was out of surgery and doing well, the weight became so much easier to bear. All we wanted was to see our sweet angel – and know that she was doing okay. However, the rest of the afternoon, evening, and into the next morning were not an easy patch of time either. She came out of her anesthesia extremely thirsty and full of fighting energy. They tried about five different medications to calm her down (which freaked both of us out so much – questioning what sort of drug concoction were they putting into our two year old?!)… but none of them worked – they only seemed to make her more anxious. She stayed fully alert from that afternoon well into the night – and only dozed a couple times – all the while begging me for water, which I couldn’t give her. We tried letting her suck on a damp sponge so she wouldn’t ingest too much liquid, but even that made her cough – her esophagus was not ready to swallow after having the oxygen tubes down her throat. I just sort of bent over the railing of the hospital bed and laid my head next to hers and patted her where it wouldn’t hurt – telling her I loved her and that everything was going to be okay. I kept telling her she would get water soon. Do you know how hard it is to reason with a two-year-old who is extremely thirsty? It wasn’t an easy task. Somehow we made it through that night.

She was such an amazing trooper during her hospital stay. We played with stuffed animals, took naps, and even walked around the intensive care unit with a little purse and princess phone. I had to be her advocate while in the hospital – realizing that sometimes doctors order tests that are not necessarily needed. I asked them to wait on another bronchoscopy – her fluid from her lungs wasn’t clearing as fast as they wanted. However, they were going to have to put her under anesthesia again for this, and I did not want that to happen if at all possible. It turned out that I was correct – she cleared up on her own. She was potty trained, and the nurses kept wanting her to be in diapers. She wasn’t having it! So we had them bring a little portable potty for next to her bed. This little lady was so much happier. At one point she got tired of the drainage tubes and pulled them out – I never saw a nurse react so fast! Apparently this is very dangerous, since infection could have been a result. Luckily they fixed her up really quickly and we didn’t have any bad effects from that snafu.

Six days later, she and I left the hospital – I had been lucky enough to have been able to stay with her the entire time. They even didn’t fuss about me sleeping next to her in her hospital bed. On the drive home, I realized that a gigantic weight had been lifted from my shoulders… an actual empty spot in my consciousness where the built up fear and anxiety from this impending procedure had been. What a relief to have this behind us now – and all had gone well!

Her recovery was swift. We actually had to try to keep her less active – as she wanted was to play, run around, and be her usual self, almost immediately. I vividly remember her walking around the neighborhood about one or two days after coming home – she wanted to be outside with all the kids – and my neighbors were shocked! This was only a week and a couple days after a major operation!

This experience changed me. I have a strong perfectionist streak in my personality. Going through this health challenge with my child – it brought me to a new perspective on EVERYTHING. I can’t really wrap words around it – even today. I just know I am forever adjusted, and I 100% believe it was in a good way.

::Suzee

A good quote that explained how I felt preparing for and going through with this scary life event: “Just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean you aren’t brave. Being brave means doing what you have to do, no matter how scared you feel.” (from Franklin Goes to the Hospital

Mom - Suzee, I just read this… I remember how scared you were…and as your mama I so wanted to comfort you but none of us knew what was ahead and I had no words, just hugs. Thank you, God, that our precious Eva is such a fighter and that her doctors and nurses were so capable and well prepared!!!
I remember the day I came over to your house after Eva’s surgery When I rang the doorbell, that little stinker came running to the door to answer, full of energy. I was both amazed and grateful at the same time.

{new} thoughts on messiness

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Having always been somewhat of a neat-nick, I have thankfully gotten over my desire for perfection. However, I still would love to have a home that reflected my personal cleanliness level. A thought I had the other day changed my perspective instantly. As I was {somewhat resentfully} cleaning my house, I was thinking, ‘someday I will live in a clean house’. My mind immediately carried that thought forward ~ when this ‘someday’ would be… Realizing in that moment that the only time I will ever live in a house that doesn’t need endless picking up is when I no longer live with the people I love. It stopped me in my tracks. Woah. I like living with these people ~ like thinking of not living with them makes me dizzy and sad. I definitely would appreciate new habits that make less continual mess ~ but I will take a bit of chaos for this chapter of my life and try to see it in a new light.

beautiful mess

::Suzee