Monday, September 26, 2011

A Great Man

As I reflect on the life of Papa Ralph, the word great comes to mind.  I keep hearing the word great used by those who knew him. 

My grandpa was a great man. 

He wasn't a perfect man, and I've realized you don't have to be perfect to be great.  At Papa's funeral we were able to celebrate his life with happy stories that brought back fond memories.  The service honored Papa for all of the good things he'd done.  Papa Ralph loved God, his family and the community.  Papa Ralph was a dedicated community member.  He served others and was always willing to lend a helping hand and if he couldn't help physically he would support financially.

The pastor comforted our family with his kind words and special stories about my grandpa.  The songs we selected were comforting as well.  The congregation sang, "Blessed Assurance" and two longtime family friends sang "The Old Rugged Cross" and the southern gospel song "Sweet Beulah Land".

Papa Ralph passed away early in the morning on Thursday, September 22.  The days since his passing and now have been a blur. 

Each day brought a new challenge. 

Thursday we planned the funeral. 

Friday we took my grandmother to visit my grandpa in the funeral home.  It was very emotional spending time with her as she said goodbye to Papa.  It was so sad watching the person who loved him most in the world tell him goodbye.  They had been married 71 years on September 7th. 

Friday night was family visitation.  I'm not sure how others handle the death of a loved one, but it's pretty standard to have family night or family visitation the night before the funeral.  Many friends and community members came to pay their respects. 

The funeral was Saturday morning.  We have a family full of men and I don't think there was a dry eye among us.  We all felt the sadness and loss.  One of the most moving things was after the funeral when we followed the hearse to the cemetery.  We drove along the road that led to my grandparents' farm house.  The cemetery is less than a couple of miles from their home.  It was like we were taking my grandpa home one last time.  Thinking of those moments in the car on the way to the cemetery still make me tear up. 

Surprisingly one of the hardest days was Sunday.  We attended church like normal.  After church, we went to visit the assisted living center where my grandpa lived.  When we were leaving the assisted living center, Ben said, "I want to see Papa Ralph."  He said it several times and Mark and I could barely make it out of the building without crying.  We went to eat and then we visited the nursing home to see my grandma.  We always had my grandpa with us when we visited her.  This was our first visit without him.  It was tough.  Ben also asked for Papa Ralph at the nursing home.  As far as Will, he thought Papa was still at the nursing home (which was different nursing home than my grandma's).  When we left the nursing home, I decided it was time to tell Will that Papa Ralph had passed away.  As we walked to the car, I told him that Papa had passed away and that he didn't live on earth with us anymore.  We couldn't visit him at the hospital, nursing home or his assisted living home.  I told him we could look at photos of him and talk about him if we miss him.  Will was very quiet.  He didn't say anything for several minutes.  I think it took him a while to process it all. 

Now that I've told Will, I think most of the hard things that I can expect are over.  I know there will be sad days and days where I'm caught off guard and get emotional.  I expect that.  I just meant that there were several things that I knew would be extremely difficult and I think I've taken care of those as best I could.  Tomorrow I'll go back to work and take it one day at a time. 

We are still dealing with a great deal of stress in our lives.  I have many more things I'd like to tell you.  It just all can't come out right now.  I'm so thankful for my family and friends who have been there to support me during this difficult time.

Thank you for your prayers during this time of grief.  It has truly been a source of strength and comfort.

Below are some of my favorite photos of Papa Ralph.  These were some of the ones included in the slide show at family night and the funeral.

In loving memory of Papa Ralph, a great man.














Papa Ralph
June 13, 1916 - September 22, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Land of Rest

My grandfather, Papa Ralph, passed away early in the morning on Thursday, September 22.  He was 95 years old.  My uncle called at about 3a.m. to tell me the news.  In the moment of trying to process all of the emotions I was feeling, I remember praying out loud, "Thank you God for not letting him suffer any longer."  Also, the song "We'll Work till Jesus Comes" came to mind.  Even though it's a very old hymn, it is not a song that I remember singing growing up.  I've only learned it since I started attending the church that my husband and I attend now.  The first line of the song is what brought me comfort "O land of rest, for thee I sigh!"  After watching Papa near the end of his life, I know that feeling of rest and peace is what he was longing for. 

I have so much more I want to share, and I plan to collect my thoughts and write more in the days to come.  In the meantime, the outpouring of love and support from friends and family has truly been a comfort.  I'm overwhelmed with the kindness of others.  God has blessed me with a wonderful family and friends.


I shared this photo on facebook. With the following thoughts,
Papa Ralph
June 13, 1916 - September 22, 2011
Papa lived a full life and we were blessed to have him 95 years. He loved God, his family and Celeste/Hogeye. He will be greatly missed.



Here are all of the words to the hymn that brought me comfort during this time of sadness and grief.

"We'll Work till Jesus Comes"

O land of rest, for thee I sigh!
When will the moment come
When I shall lay my armor by
And dwell in peace at home?

Refrain
We’ll work till Jesus comes,
We’ll work till Jesus comes,
We’ll work till Jesus comes,
And we’ll be gathered home.

No tranquil joys on earth I know,
No peaceful, shelt'ring dome,
This world's a wilderness of woe,
This world is not my home.

Refrain

To Jesus Christ I fled for rest;
He bade me cease to roam,
And lean for comfort on His breast
Till He conduct me home.

Refrain

I sought at once my Savior’s side;
No more my steps shall roam.
With Him I’ll brave death’s chilling tide
And reach my heav’nly home.

Refrain

Friday, September 16, 2011

Today I'm 34

Today is my birthday and I'm 34 years old!

Here I am at about 6-9mths old.  I think.

Last year I had fun sharing a list of random information about myself.  If you want to check it out, here it is.  Is it just me or do others love reading these silly lists as much as I do?  A while back my friend Katie at minivan diva wrote some fun facts about herself, which reminded me to make my birthday list. Thanks, Katie!  She and I have a lot in common.

1.  My favorite color is blue, but the interior of my house is brown, brown and more shades of brown.  I'm slowly working on changing that.  Well, that's not completely true, Ben's room is pale green and there are two rooms that are Silver Sage by Restoration Hardware and Will's room is gray.

2.  Birthdays don't bother me.  I didn't freak out at 30 and I don't dread 40.  Mostly I'm grateful that I've been given another year on this earth to spend time with the ones I love most.

3.  The ones I love most are Mark, Will and Ben.
Photo by Lauren

4.  I love to bake and cook, but I hate the cleanup.

5.  In high school, I went to state in the mile relay my junior and senior year.  I was the slowest leg on the relay, but I was still proud of the accomplishment.  Mark and I used to run a lot before we had children.  I wish we had more time for it now.  I've thought about training for a 1/2 marathon, but I don't know where I'd find the time.  Maybe someday that will fit into my schedule.

6.  If you've read the "About Me" section on my blog you know that I had what I call an unconventional childhood.  I lived with my grandparents, which ended up being one of the biggest blessings of my life.  The "About Me" explains how I ended up living with them.  Papa Ralph and Mama Winnie are the best parents I could ever ask for.

7.  Since I lived with my grandparents and they were retired, I traveled with them wherever they went. They had a travel trailer/camper that we stayed in on our trips.  I remember spending time at the lake and along the Gulf Coast of Texas with my great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins. I also remember living in South Texas during part of the winter months.  My husband thinks this is hilarious because he said I was the youngest "Winter Texan" or "Snowbird" that he's ever known.  It was me and the retirees playing Bingo!

Here I am sitting on a little chair wearing a hat at the beach. We were staying at Indianola near Port Lavaca, Texas.  It's on Matagorda Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.

Here's my brother, Brian, cousin, Tommy, and me.

I was probably about 9 in this photo.  Here's the travel trailer I remember so well.


8. I think in many ways I'm an old soul and young at heart.  My aunt told me when I was a little girl I talked just like a 75 year old woman would.  Here's the quote, "Just to to TG & Y and get you some thread to fix it."  Isn't that funny?  Now as an adult, the younger people we work with always tell me and Mark that we seem so much younger than most of the people our age.  I take that as a huge compliment.  Maybe we're still hip...or not ;)

9. We take advantage of the free movie weekends on HBO and Starz.  Since having children, we rarely go the movies anymore and we don't do Netflix (Gasp!, I know!) so we save the movies to our DVR and watch them when we have time.  It's a great way to get caught up on movies, other than being a year behind everyone else who has already seen them, it works for us.

10.  When I graduated from college I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.  I seriously considered being a flight attendant.  I even had the application from American Airlines.  I can't imagine doing that job now.

11.  I started this list in July.  Just being honest.  It takes me a long time to think of this stuff and I get sidetracked easily.  I know my birthday is at the beginning of the school year, and I'm usually swamped.  I knew I wouldn't have much time for blogging and this takes me a while to type.

12.  I dream of our forever home A LOT.  Hopefully we will begin building it in 5 years.  I know that seems like a long time, but it's really not.  We've been in our current home since 2002 and that's flown by so much faster than I ever imagined. 

13.  I started reading blogs to observe so many things--family life, home decor, fashion.  I didn't ever expect to make friends in the blogosphere and that's what has ended up happening.  I've made friends.  Real-Life-Friends. 

14.  I changed my major 3 times in college.  It was nursing, history and then sociology.  I have a degree in sociology and minor in psychology.  The psychology part was to help me work out my own issues.

15.  I have a math phobia.  Seriously!  I cry when I think about it.  I would have graduated a semester early if I hadn't of dropped so many math classes.  The irony of this is that I married someone who majored in mathematics.  There you have it, God gives us what we need. 

16.  I had a show steer when I was in high school.  I only did that one year because it was so much work.  Here I am giving him a bath.  I was even a member of FFA (Future Farmers of America).  I showed the steer at the county fair and sold him.

17.  I was also Football Sweetheart in high school.  It's similar to homecoming queen.

18.  I've been a teacher since 2001.  I can't believe that I've been teaching for that long.  This is my 11th year teaching history/social studies.  I still enjoy the subject and I love working with the students.

19.  In 2009, just before Ben was born I developed Bell's Palsy.  My face will always have some paralysis from that.  My OBGYN said it was the worst case he's ever seen and he's been practicing over 20 years.  There are things in life you would like to be remembered for...this is not one of those things.  If you want to read my deep thoughts about that, you can check it out here.

Here I am with my eye patch and crooked smile.  I'm overjoyed about my little family of four despite the crazy face thing.

20.  My husband and I have so many similar interest, but that all stops when it comes to fantasy football.  I don't really understand it.  I guess it's like he doesn't understand my obsession with the Royal couple Will and Kate.

21.  I feel guilty when I forget to use my reusable shopping bags at the grocery store.

22.  I love to travel.  Mark and I save money all year so that we can take trips in the summer.  This summer we hope to visit Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons National Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  We're hoping that Mark's parents can go with us. 

23.  Mark and I are obsessed with the show Mad Men.  We're only 4 years behind everyone else, ha!  We got hooked this summer when AMC started replaying all the episodes starting with season one.  Three episodes are shown on Sunday and we DVR them and watch it throughout the week.  One night we stayed up past 1a..m because we got so into it that we watched all three episodes at once.  I can see how people who get an entire series on Netflix can spend an entire day watching it completely.  We feel that way about this show.

24.  I miss my college friends.  I have friends where I live now, but not like my college friends.  Life is so different now.  My friend Cory once said regarding life in college, "We didn't know how easy we had it." She's so wise.  Life in college was so carefree and fun.  We thought it was so tough, but we had no idea how easy things were.  Now that I'm married and a mommy, I devote all of my time to my family.  I don't mind at all and I wouldn't have it any other way, but I wish my BFFs lived just a little closer so we could hang out more.

Here are some of those BFFs I just mentioned, Cory and Terri.  This was taken last fall at Will's birthday party.


25.  When I was in college, I had an obsession with the TV show "Dawson's Creek", "Felicity" and "Friends".  I remember watching "Friends" with my roommates and suitemates in my dorm room.  When I moved to an apartment I remember meeting up at my friend's house to watch "Dawson's Creek".  I still can't believe Katie Holmes married Tom Cruise.  Wow!  I outgrew "Dawson's Creek", but I stayed with "Felicity" and "Friends" up until the very end.  I cried when both of those shows ended.   I could have entire conversations using dialogue from "Friends" when I was younger.  My talent at reciting dialogue and knowledge of "Friends" trivia does not impress my husband who is a Seinfeld fan.

26.  In college, I had two years of being really good and two years of being not so good.  I'm glad I had a little wild phase.  It's totally out of my system and when I got married I was ready to settle down. 

27.  In addition to our family road trip to Yellowstone, Mark and I are planning a 10 year anniversary to trip to Las Vegas this upcoming summer.  Sans children!  I'm nervous about leaving my boys, but what a fun way to celebrate 10 years of marriage.  I can't wait!
 
28.  Do you ever feel like your life has been taken over by plastic sippy cups?  I love sippy cups because they help prevent spills, but they also are a pain in the butt to dry.  At all times I have a about 8 drying on my kitchen counter after I empty the dishwasher.

29.  I wish I was about 10 pounds thinner.  Who doesn't, right?

30.  All of the tops in my closet are arranged by color.  Yes, I'm a little OCD.

31.  I have an obsession with family photos.  We had really bad wedding photographs, which makes me sad to this very day.  To compensate for the bad wedding photos, I hire our favorite photographer, Lauren, at least a couple of times a year to capture images of the boys.  Mark likes photos about as much as he likes a root canal, but he's always a good sport because he knows how disappointed I was over our terrible wedding photos.

Our last attempt at a family photo in July.  My boys are too silly!
Photo by Lauren

32. Sometimes I eat my kids gummy vites.  Sometimes I eat their fruit snacks and drink their juice boxes, too!

33. I've worn glasses since I was in the 5th grade.  I'm terribly nearsighted.  I got contacts in the 7th grade, and I still laugh when I think about how hard it was to put my contacts in the first time.  I'm pretty sure it took about an hour.  Now I can put my contacts in without even looking in a mirror (although I usually use one).

34.  This is my second birthday with my blog friends.  You guys continually encourage me and lift my spirits when I'm down.  It's hard to explain to people who don't blog and don't have these relationships how it all works.  I don't know how we have all found each other, we just have.  My blog and the friends I've made blogging are a blessing.  Thank you for celebrating this birthday with me.

Much love,
Michele

Friday {LOVE}

Today it's Friday, and it's my birthday!!!

 I'm posting my camera phone pics using the hipstamatic app and linking up to Life Rearranged Instafriday.


 I've also written a 34 random things about me post for my 34th birthday. Check it out here.

I took the challenge from last week and included photos of things I love.  I know she said not of your cute kids, family, etc...but I don't follow directions very well.  I photographed some objects, but I couldn't not include my kiddos and family.

I love my silly Ben at Grimaldi's. 


Will loves playing with the pizza dough while we wait for our pizza.

Ben decided to wrap his pizza dough around his neck.

Love Anthro!

Love that I got a birthday coupon to use...just can't decide what to buy.

I love that my boys were patient while I browsed.
Fun timers that are magnetic.  Maybe I'll buy one of these.
Tea towels
Aprons
Amazing displays

Love my husband playing Words With Friends on the free wi-fi at McDonald's

Love my grandparents more than words

Love a bookshelf full of classic children's books

Ben loves Karen Katz books right now

 We all love Mo Willems
 Will still loves the Pigeon books.  They have been some of his favorites for over a year.

Icee--Love to mix the cherry with the coke.  It's perfection.

Love Tex-Mex and this is my favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant

Love my boys in their headphones watching cartoons in the car. 

Adorable!


life rearranged

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Brothers

Life with two boys is never dull.  They keep me on my toes.  In the last year, Will and Ben have really bonded.  It makes my heart happy when I see them laughing and playing together.  Sometimes the laughter and playing results in a  messy room with every single toy on the floor but it's all worth it.  It's so neat that they have fun together and genuinely like each other.

If you've been keeping up with my blog for the last few weeks, you know things have been pretty crazy in our lives.  The boys recently started daycare while Mark and I are at work.  I was really nervous about the transition, but they have done well considering the circumstances.  One of the things that gave me peace of mind as they went to daycare was that they would have each other.  They are in different classes at the daycare, but the teachers have been super flexible while the boys adjust.  They've allowed them to see each other and play if one is feeling a little lonely or sad.  I've been told that hasn't happened very much (thank goodness!). 

Will and Ben are still very young, but I hope this bond that they have will only continue to grow stronger as they get older.  They will always have each other.





{Photos by Lauren Wensel}

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