Monday, April 25, 2016

In the Desert - Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;

"But I like it
"Because it is bitter,
"And because it is my heart."

Monday, March 7, 2016

Untitled

The day after I posted the year in the review, my grandma died.
It was way harder for me than I thought.
It wasn't that I didn't expect it,
Or even that I didn't wish it for her.
But my mind was already sad,
And her heaven-going was the small breath
That pushed me over. Made me inhale slowly but sharply.

It was cold when we went to see her. Dark, too.
Her place was the same as I had left it last Tuesday.
Her clutter was still there, but less dusty.
Boxes of Christmas stuff sat patiently at her feet.
It didn't need to be sorted anymore.
"She won't need that where she's gone," I thought.
So many things she won't need there.

I was glad she had wrapped blankets around herself.
The night was cold, after all.
I know it's just a shell she left behind, but shells get cold too.
I felt warmer knowing she was warm.
We all crowded into her small place until it was so warm
We opened a window and let in the night.
The night air knew just what we needed.

Church was going on while we were there.
My throat ached, knowing my friends were probably praying
Just then for our aching hearts.
When one member of the body hurts, the others are there to help.
They provide the strength that is temporarily unavailable.
We were loved that night.
I suppose we all experienced heaven a little.

So I sat there and couldn't stop looking at her.
Oddly, it didn't bother me to be staring at death.
She had been in such pain that heaven was mercy.
(Oh to experience the joys of that place!)
Those eyes were transformed and were now beholding glory
As of yet unimagined by our doubting, timid hearts.
She was home.

They took her and I realized I couldn't sit there forever.
For a fleeting moment, I wished I hadn't been so close to her.
One less game of Yahtzee, perhaps, might've made
This parting easier. One less conversation or one less laugh
Might take four inches off the crack growing in my heart.
Why did she have to love me so hard?
Didn't she know how difficult it would make this night?

Those next few days were a kind of controlled chaos.
So much sorting. So many tears.
I found pictures and certificates and hospital bills and candy wrappers.
A life does not fit easily into so many boxes.
How to decide which items to display to represent a person?
Seventy-six years of poetry reduced to a single line.
Life is not fair, I know. Decisions must be made.

Funeral day.
I have the usual quandary of whether to wear bright colors in celebration,
Or to wear black because it's 'what you do.'
I wear black and white to compromise.
Peter is dressed in what makes him happy.
She would've wanted that, at the very least.
We are ready.

I play violin with my sister and I am a wreck inside.
"Just get to the end of the hymn, the service, the day," I think.
We know she is in heaven. We will see her again.
But the beauty of funerals is God lets us cry.
He bottles up our tears. He remembers them.
I hadn't wanted to cry in front of my friends, my family.
But I needed to, and I did, and I'm glad.

So many dear ones came.
They didn't just bring themselves; they brought stories and hugs, too.
We put candy in the casket, because death requires some silliness, no?
There was a lot of food, but I saw the love and time behind it all.
I felt closure and it felt good.
"She would've been very happy," I kept saying.
I was so thankful for the joy everyone brought with them.

I didn't want to be there when they put her in the ground.
Like I said, it was just a shell.
But she would've wanted me there, so I made myself go.
We trudged through thick snow in our church shoes and shivered from
More than just the cold.
Dad said some words and we nodded and cried, and it was time.
It was my turn to say something.

I walked up to the casket and almost tripped.
I couldn't see.
I stared at the pattern and wondered why I picked such a stupid color for the shell box.
"It didn't look this color in the book," I thought.
"Goodbye, Gram" was all that I managed to get out.
Sometimes, words are not as necessary as they are polite.
Thank God she knew this.

We went home and began the process of healing.
Wounds are individual, you know.
Each one heals differently, uniquely. On its own schedule.
For tiny moments, I'll feel like mine is gone.
But memories are ghosts and they are not afraid of daylight.
My ghosts are many.
I cannot wish them away.

I am not sad for her; I am sad for me.
Selfish, I know.
I was lonely before, and then she left and I am aching. Truly.
She was not just a grandmother but a friend.
(I believe that cliche to be appropriate.)
There is so much I will miss.
I will always long for just one more Tuesday at her house.

Gram, words were our chocolate. :)
Thanks for listening to everything I had to say.
It is because of you -- it is all because of you.
Two-Person Solitaire just got a whole lot more difficult to play.
Eva Cassidy is singing "Over the Rainbow" and we've stopped rolling dice
Because the beauty of it hit us at the same exact time.
We smile and keep playing.

I will work hard as I'm headed closer to you.
Peter will hear every story; see every picture.
Our family tree will continue to be filled in
Just like you wanted.
I will sing and play and read and love.
You always wanted another poem. Well, Gram,
This one's for you.

- with all my heart, Rachael

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 // a year of transition

Last year was a crazy one. It was super busy and full of traveling. On top of all that, we were learning how to get used to life with a new baby, and, more recently, living with my family while our addition is being built. Chris has worked very hard all year, and I am SO proud of him! He has been an amazing husband and father every. single. day. I am so thankful and blessed to call him mine. :) And Peter, as you already know, is our not-so-little bundle of joy! We have had such fun watching him grow and develop, from being able to roll over on his own, to saying his first words. :) 

We took a LOT of trips this year. In February we all drove down to SC for Chris's brother Todd's wedding. Peter looked sharp all dressed up in his first suit. :) The wedding was beautiful, and my new sister-in-law Anna is awesome!

In March we went on a big trip to the FL Keys with my family. Peter found the salty southern air very exhausting, but he liked it, nonetheless. Everyone thought he was the best dressed person on the trip. :P Chris and I enjoyed kayaking through the canals and seeing manatees. The funniest part of the trip was the fact that I had no way to bring Peter's usual bed, so we made a makeshift one out of my suitcase! (I know, it sounds terrible.) But he loved it and slept through the night most of the trip!

In May we drove to SD for Chris to help with some construction projects. I enjoyed visiting with my in-laws and getting to celebrate some of my nephews' birthdays. 

In August, I drove Peter, my best friend Meghan, and myself up to WI to visit our best friend, Laura, at her new home. It was SUCH a fun trip and I was so thankful Peter behaved during the 1.5-hr car ride. It was my first time driving out-of-state! We had a great time visiting with our newly-married pal of 20+  years. :) 

In September, we went on the most anticipated trip of all - Sanibel Island, FL! We rented the exact unit we had on our honeymoon, and we brought Peter along, so it was a super special time. We visited all our favorite restaurants and tried some new ones, and of course we gathered TONS of shells to bring home. Chris enjoyed fishing late at night. He caught several beautiful fish! We tried to have Peter sleep in his own room, but after one night of him getting lost in the bathroom trying to find us, we ended up grudgingly cosleeping multiple times. :P Here is my favorite picture from the trip.

Our last trip was in October. Chris's sister Aimee had a whirlwind courtship and engagement, and got married at the end of the month. We drove up to SD again for the last Marsceau wedding for a while. I enjoyed getting to know my sis-in-law Anna better, and it was cool to see Peter and his cousins play together. He didn't get the whole sharing thing (why would he?), but he loved having people more his size to play with. :) 

I was thrilled to be a bridesmaid for the first time this July! My aforementioned friend Laura married a great guy, and the event brought together many awesome young people for the bridal party, some of whom I had met before. Chris was an usher, and Peter kept the lobby company with Grandma. :P

Chris and I started assisting my parents in teaching Patch the Pirate Club at church on Wednesday nights. It's been hard to leave the PeeWee Patch kids, but it's a good growing experience working with a different curriculum and age group of kids. 

We made the big move into my family's house in November. Our addition is really coming along! I'll have to do a separate post with pics sometime, but basically it has doubled the size of our current house, and will add a master bedroom, master bathroom, laundry room, and new kitchen. I can't even tell you how thrilled I am about it! There isn't one specific thing I'm most excited about because EVERY single aspect of this project will be such a wonderful change from how it's been. I'll have a dishwasher now, and a washer and dryer (!), and Peter will have a nursery instead of sharing our room, and I won't be working with yucky steel kitchen cabinets, or a moldy fridge, and I'll have more than 3.5 ft of countertop, etc. etc. etc. Oh my goodness, I'm excited and humbled and thankful! We are in the process of choosing cabinet style, flooring, and backsplash for the kitchen right now. Chris took me to a cabinet showroom and a tile shop the other day, and it was fun to meander around discussing options. Honestly it's a bit overwhelming for me to choose what I want. Not used to that in a house at all. I like to work with what I'm given, so this is very different. I am the stereotypical girl, too, saying I want one thing and then choosing an entirely different thing altogether, so I'm already driving Chris mad, but it'll all happen eventually. ;) When it's done, I hope you all will come for dinner. That is one thing I am really forward to that I haven't been able to do much with my tiny house. 

In November we celebrated Peter's first birthday! Oh, it was so much fun to put together! I shopped for most of the party stuff online and found some good deals on cowboy decor. He loved all the excitement and especially his gifts. :) He did NOT like his cupcake, though. He got frosting on his hand first thing and then spent 5 minutes trying to get it off and crying concernedly. Barely even got to the cake. :P In November also my mom and I tried a cleanse out of The 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith. I was super grouchy in the beginning because I thought I am NOT going through all this only to have it not change a thing. If I didn't see results, I was suing the world. Well, in 9 days I lost 10 lbs!!!! I was so excited! I remember at the beginning of the year saying, "If I could pay money to just magically lose weight, I would!" And the ingredients for this cleanse were pretty expensive since we went all-organic, but having just 3 smoothies a day just melted away the pounds. I know I'm unaware of the amount of sugar and carbs I put in on a daily basis, and this kind of opened my eyes to what can happen when you clean things up. Pretty cool!

Musically I jumped back into the swing of things after having Peter. I took on a couple more students and rejoined the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. I played a total of 7 concerts this year and sang in our church's Easter cantata. This year I have even more students so I'm looking forward to learning even more through teaching! 

And now, my favorite part. THE BOOKS. I died a little yesterday when I realized I ended the year 4 books short of my reading goal, but there's always next year, right? :P Here are the books I experienced in 2015:

A Lineage of Grace - Francine Rivers
Lose Your Mummy Tummy - Julie Tupler
Agenda 21: Into the Shadows - Glenn Beck
Not a Fan - Kyle Idleman
"Shouldn't You Be in School?" - Lemony Snicket
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
The Cases That Haunt Us - John Douglas
The Princess - Lori Wick
Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
Fly Away - Patricia MacLachlan
Relationships - Timothy Lane
The Swan House - Elizabeth Musser
The Book of Three - Lloyd Alexander
The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge
An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir
A Little in Love - Susan Fletcher
The 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse - JJ Smith
Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard
The Immortal Nicholas - Glenn Beck 

Wow, I love to read, guys. :P I love to watch movies more, but this year I want to eclipse my love of the screen by love of words on the page. ;) I am obsessed with Goodreads, so if you love to read and love social media, come visit me here

Well, that pretty much wraps it up. I'm typing this without glasses so I'm sorry for typos I'm missing right now. Thanks for still following me even though I am less than faithful with posting. Here's to an awesome 2016!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Je suis vivante. For reals.

As I'm sure you've not noticed, this little space of mine has been virtually untouched as of late. Lots going on, lots going on. 

We traveled up to the middle of nowhere in Dakota Territory for another Marsceau wedding. Last one for a while. At least I think so. lol That's 5 weddings in 3 years so yeah. We're all weddinged out. 

Peter turned one and had a stupendously awesome birthday party, if I do say so myself. 30 people were there, and he got amazing presents. He is now a little terror and needs to be closely supervised 24/7 because he loves shredding Kleenex, opening and emptying wipes containers, melting Junior Mints in his sweaty palms, and dumping coffee on the white carpet. 

Chris started work on the addition to our house. It is actually HAPPENING!!!!! I cannot believe it. We moved into my family's house until it's finished, so we've been here just over 2 months, I think. There are challenges with having two sets of stairs and living in one bedroom, but it's been great having babysitters and people to talk to all the time.

I am now teaching 7 students, with a couple more starting after Christmas. It is a blessing to be able to continue that here while our house is being renovated. :) 

I have been sick for the past 2 weeks. Like, I can't even stand up sometimes sick. I don't know why I got it twice, but I'm battling a fever, body aches, dizziness, and major coughing. (Thanks, bronchitis.) I have felt so guilty not helping out around the house or even with Peter. I have missed 2 Christmas parties and couldn't even sing in our church's cantata. Today I was supposed to have a whole day of fun Christmas shopping with Chris, but I had to stay home. It's looking like I'm going to be doing all my shopping online this year. 

I don't think I'm doing Christmas cards this year, guys. I had all these proactive plans to hop on Shutterfly with my hundreds of dollars' worth of coupons and order gorgeous cards for everyone and actually have that whole project done early, and now I'm basically going to Target and looking at their meager card collection with total disinterest and thinking, "There's always next year." I'm sorry. Not doing Christmas cards is like the most unfestive, Grinch-like thing and I'm guilty this time. Thank you so much if you sent us your family card. It's embarrassing, actually, how excited I get when I see a Christmas card in the mail!

I don't think I'll be blogging again before the new year. Who knows. All the pictures I want to post are either on Instagram (where I am most active) or on the computer at home, so hopefully I'll get a chance to catch up later. I wish you all the best Christmas ever, and a joyful and PEACEful new year. :) 




Friday, September 25, 2015

Peter // 10 Months


This little big guy is 10 months old! He loves crawling everywhere and chewing on everything. This week he ate a corner off one of my books, plus half a playing card. :( He dances to music, or any rhythm at all really. (I've caught him swaying to the sound of the clothes dryer.) He knows how to throw a ball, and he's just starting to say "dada," although usually it's whispered. He does NOT like getting his nails trimmed, or being alone even for a second! He loves being outside and watching bugs fly around. He's excited to go to Florida tomorrow!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Peter // 9 Months


I really can't believe my little guy is already 9 months old. But alas, it is so, and I have a first birthday Pinterest board already created so it must be true.

This was a big month for Peter! As if crawling and sprouting two teeth weren't enough, he now spends more time standing than sitting, he learned to clap and wave, he's experimenting with talking, and he rocks back and forth to music. His favorite game ever is peek-a-boo, and just last night he learned to "hide" in his pack-n-play when Chris says, "Where's Peter?" and then JUMP up and smile so Chris will say, "THERE he is!!!!" :) SO fun. 

We got family pictures Saturday night by the lovely Jessica Shae, but while we wait for those, here are a couple of the good ol' iPhone-in-the-front-yard kind. :)