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A Moment for my Mom.

Some of our favorite people are very far away and unable to attend my Mommy’s funeral. Love to all of you who are so far away.  You are in our hearts always.  For those of you who were unable to attend my mother’s funeral, I wanted to post a few details of her memorial.  This wasn’t everything… just what I had handy to post.

Mom’s obituary

Ann Balderston, 71 of Arvada, CO passed away peacefully on Friday, December 3, 2010.  She was lovingly cared for in her final days by her devoted children, Pete Balderston and Ann Brady.

Ann was born in Glasgow, Scotland and lived in Campbeltown up through her early adult years.  As a child, she swam along rocky shores and roamed the Scottish hills.

Ann raised a love-filled family that includes two extra children of her heart, Kurt Brady and Christie Balderston, five Grandchildren, Tyler, Brooke, Megan, Blake and Colbie.  Her life was spent cheering at baseball and hockey games, enjoying dancing and singing shows and bouncing babies on her knee.  She is survived by all her children and grandchildren and one sister, Margaret Duncan.  She is preceded in death by an infant sister, her first love Peter Lovett and her final love Edwin Balderston.

A brief graveside service will be held on Thursday, December 9 at 1:30 at Fort Logan National Cemetery.   Anyone planning to attend should arrive at 1:15 at staging area B.   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society in Ann’s honor.

Mom’s Memorial Service

It was a beautiful day.  Unseasonably warm, sunny and very spring like in early December.  Mull of Kintyre by Paul McCartney and Wings played as my brother, my husband, my son and my nephew along with other family friends carried mom in her casket forward to the sound of bagpipes playing.

A post by my friend Colleen

Handout from the Chaplain

Peace my heart, by Rabindarnath Tagore

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.

Let it not be a death but completeness.

Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.

Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.

Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.

Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.

I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.


She is Gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she’s gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on

My thoughts about Mom…

Everything you need to know about my mom, I can tell you in one sentence.  My Mommy cut the crust off my sandwiches until I was in my twenties.  Drove me crazy.  But that was Mom.  She spared no effort or time in tending to her families needs and desires.  Even once we’d grown, mom was always delighted to help with any task her children needed help with. It was her life’s blood.  From laundry to child rearing, from listing to the woes of our world to celebrating the joys of our life, mom was always there opening her heart, her ears…her wallet.  She and Dad were the world’s best security blanket.

With a mother like mine, there are so many things to be grateful for. As a child, my friends all loved mom.  She welcomed mine and Pete’s friends into her heart as though they were her own children.  Our home always bubbled over with friends coming in and out.  Earlier this year, mom received a letter from a childhood friend of mine.  She wrote “You were such an important part of my childhood.  You always made me feel so welcome, calling me “love”, convincing me to eat beans, and making me feel extra special with a cup of hot tea and milk at bedtime.

I guess you could say that all of my memories of you are like home, of happy times in a light-filled kitchen with music on the radio”.  My friend was right.  Mom was home

As our family grew, her heart grew.  She welcomed in two more children of her heart Kurt and Christie and then doted as the grandbabies joined our family.   Geese flocked from miles around when she arrived at the park feeding loaf after loaf of bread to the birds just to delight her grandbabies.   Her patience was limitless. Her love, an embrace that held us all.

As an adult, I’ve realized how challenging it is to be a parent and she made it look easy.  As an adult, I’ve realized that my Leave it to Beaver upbringing was more rare than the finest of jewels.  Offers to adopt my mother have followed me my whole life.  She was a keeper!

Mom lived to be a mother and also a wife.  As those of us closest to Mom know, she literally lived for Dad.  My Uncle Carroll told me the other day how the reverse was true as well.  He said “I know his life before and I know his life after.  I saw the change in his live after she arrived.  It brought joy to our life seeing that.  She’s the best thing that ever happened to your dad.  She made his life.”  Together, Mom and Dad made a life.  They made my life.  Together, they created all the love in my life and together, they are united as my love lives on.

Mom was also a sister to my Aunt Margaret. And what a pair those two were.  From traipsing around Africa with toddlers and babes on hip, to hunkering down in loving companionship, quietly together during their last visit, these two shared a bond that even death and disease cannot sever.  A friend of mine wrote to me several months ago saying “My kids still talk about “how cute those grannies are”.  Awww. I will forever hold that image of your mom and her sister sitting on your couch during Blakes’ birthday in my heart.  They are very sweet sisters.”  And they are.   Prayer….Dear God, please bless my Aunt Margaret and her family as they walk a path similar to our last 9 months.  Let their hearts be strengthened by our love. Let our hugs cross the miles to hold them.  Ease their path and strengthen their hearts.  They have a long road to go and we walk that road with them in our hearts.  Bless and keep them all.

And so, I say goodbye to my mom, to my best friend my whole life through.  She cut the crust off of sandwhiches, called everyone ‘love’ and made many geese fat and happy…all in the name of being our Mom and Grandma and Granny.  I will miss her so much and yet I am her and so are you… And we will all carry her in our heart’s because that’s where she always lived anyway.

A poem by a friend of mine.  Thanks for sharing it, Jenn.

The Gift of Memory, Jennafer Elias-Reed

Memory’s flashcards embody us with the images of a lifetime.

We are warmed by yesterday’s hands helping us reach to our potential.

The voice that always knew we could when we shook in uncertainty.

We remember the hug after a skinned knee more than the accident itself.

Finding that soft place to land when the blocks seemed stacked high against us, memory tempers us, opening us to another’s perspective, allowing us to evolve and grow over time.

Lessons learned with the support of a gentle hand, memory holds us tight when we are most alone and beckons us to reach to our light within, that place where we all know love, truly– where we are yoked together despite our earthly distances.

Memory keeps our loved-ones near, wiping our tears of loneliness, illuminating that thin veneer between what is living now and what only appears to no longer be.


Then the Chaplain sang the Irish Blessing.  He had a lovely voice.  Such a nice way to close.

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

The rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

And, I’ll never forget the sight of my brother jumping out of his car to run back and give his mom one more kiss.

Goodbye Mommy.  I’ll always hold you in my heart.

Two hands…two drives

Ten years ago yesterday I was carrying a big bump of baby in my tummy.  The day before (10 years ago) I ended with scrambled eggs that didn’t taste good and contractions that were intense from the start.  9 hours later, out pushed my beautiful, baby girl to greet the morning.  Afterwards, while I napped, my sweet husband lifted his newest, truest love up to show her the mountains and the sunshiney morning.  While they shared a quiet moment together a rabbit hopped over to the window to drink from a puddle.  It was magic from the start.   It is the 10th anniversary of the day I became a mommy.   It is the 10th anniversary of the day he became a father.  It is the 10th anniversary of the day we became a family.

The fairy can now just hold up 2 hands when she tells you how old she is…not that she holds up hands to tell you how old she is anymore. 10 year olds don’t do that.  10 year olds do things like practice violin, make beaded bookmarks for their mommy for mother’s day and read to their baby brother (who is also not a baby anymore).  10 year olds are sweet, kind, responsible and more grown-up than infant.  When I look at my fairy  I can no longer see the baby she was but I can sure glimpse the woman she will be.

My Sweet Hubby’s gift to his daughter has always been time.  On her birthday, he always takes the day off of work.  This year, unfortunately, was an exception. Much to My Sweet Hubby’s dismay, his current job isn’t allowing for time off.  Much to My Sweet Hubby’s dismay, his current job requires him to travel out of state for days each week.  MUCH to My Sweet Hubby’s dismay, he needed to be in Nebraska for the Fairy’s birthday.  A 4 hour drive away.  What’s a 4 hour drive when you’re talking about your truest love’s birthday?  Apparently nothing.  My Sweet Hubby started work at 5am so that he could finish up his day early and drive home to hug and smooch the birthday girl.

When he got home, he surprised her.  It was magic again.  10 years later.  2 hands later. No bunny. No sunshine. No mountains…just two people deeply in love, happy to spend a special moment together.  He later said (tired and discouraged) that because he was tired that his appearance was the best gift he could give her right now…and from the smile on her face, he was right!

This morning, bright and 3-freaking-o’clock-early, Kurt woke up,  tucked me in with a kiss, and drove the long drive back to Nebraska.  2 drives to be able to celebrate 2 hands.  What kind of a man does that?  My kind of a man!

So, today is just a normal day with a 10 year old…minus Daddy who is half way to Nebraska by now. No more birthdays.  Just life with a half-grown child.  2 hands old. Time for the quiet magic of life.   Gotta go.  She’s waking up and I need my 2 hands to hug my baby.

Happy Anniversary

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On our first day of our anniversary, my Smoochie-Man gave to me, 1 very contented family. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Outback, Merlin and ice cream…Living the good life, baby. 

On the second day of my anniversary, I give to my Smoochie-Man, 2 freshly bathed dog. Don’t they look happy…and far less stinky.  Not quite as exciting as the theatre, but it’s the thought that counts, right?  Well, that and the fresh scent of a house with two clean dogs when my Hubby walks in the door.

After 12 years of marriage and 16 years of sharing my life, my sweet husband has giving me many things.  From my first opal necklace, to my latest diamond necklace…From our first apartment to our current lovely home…from those lean baby years to our full and happy present.  I look forward to sharing the next 12 (and 16) years with you my Sweetheart.

12 years of sweet things that my Darling has done for me.

1. He leaves a sweatshirt on my seat in the car when packing up from camping.  He knows me so well.

2. We’ve created two beautiful children and a wonderful family together.  He needed my help with that one.

3. 3 words…Chicken Cordon Bleu

4. He always takes care of things like tires and such to make me feel safe. I always know he’ll keep me safe.

5. He makes my son squeal like a girl by pulling his toes off. 

6.  He eats Noodles & CO because I can…even though he’s sick of it.

7. He takes me to see Harry Potter for my anniversary even though it’s his anniversary too. Smooch!

8.  He tolerates my wonky healthy stuff.

9.  Cuddling up with him on a Saturday morning is never dull…I originally meant because he calls the kids in and hides from them, but other thoughts do come to mind. ; )

10.  He steals crab from me to give to my daughter…and then tries to create crab from thin air to give to me to make up for his thievery.

11. He put up with me giving a homebirth to my sweet boy.

12. He promised me that life with him would be a circus…and it has been. : )

Here’s to sharing the rest of our lives together in this circus.  Wanna cram in that little clown car and make out?  I love you.

Why?

At lunch today, the kids split a bit of lemonade.  The Fairy poured two glasses perfectly equal.  I then told the Hero to choose his cup.  For some bizarre reason I added a comment of ‘that way you can choose the one with more’.   Both kids looked at me like I was an alien.  “Is that WHY you have one of us pour and one of us choose?”  They were clearly offended. I tried to explain that this is such a basic parenting  tool that I just do it out of habit, and that, yes…it is so to teach children to share and so that one child doesn’t get to cut a bigger piece and chose it selfishly. Now, they really think I’ve lost my mind.

You see, the Fairy and the Hero both have such generous hearts that this idea never crossed their mind.  During a recent Costco trip, the Hero insisted that we gather an extra sample of everything  we he and I sampled for our sadly, absent Fairy.  He couldn’t fathom that she wouldn’t get some of what he gets.  The Fairy is always doing similar things.  They truly would never dream of cutting themselves the big piece of the pie.  Now I’m another story.  Excuse me while I wipe the pie crust crumbs from the keyboard.  Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone I snuck it! ; )

Boys are late readers.  You hear it everywhere.  They often lag behind girls and frequently take a single leap to becoming a obsessive readers about the time they become flutent readers…about the time they learn to read.  They don’t read “Dick and Jane”.  They wait until they are ready to read Louis L’Amore or Lord of the Rings.  Of course, all children walk their own path and ‘your mileage may vary’, but this is what we hear so often in homeschool chatter.

I’ve found the cure to delayed reading…Lego magazine.  Lego Jr to be exact.  The Hero is Lego obsessed.  His every waking moment is spent talking about, thinking about and playing with Legos.  2 months ago I ordered him Lego Jr magazine.  He’s been asking daily “how many days left”.  It’s been worse than Christmas. 

FINALLY, it came!  He happily looked through it and insisited that I read it.  After days with it, he figured out that the tattered magazine was Lego JR…and not just Lego Club.  I thought I could pull a fast one on him and order the Jr which seems to be less violent than the actual Lego Club magazine.  Nope. He figured it out. So he starts with a round of ” Please, please PLEEEZEEE order the Lego Club magazine”.  I’m not thrilled about it but say “maybe for your 7th birthday”.  Not quite what he had in mind.  Then, in a moment of brilliance, I tell him that if he could read the Lego Jr magazine, then I would be more interested in ordering Lego Club. All this happened during a drive to Boulder.  For the remaining 20 min to Boulder and the entire drive back home, the Hero sat in the back enthrawlled with reading his magazine aloud.   So much nicer than forcing the boy to read ‘the cat sat on the mat’. 

Thanks Legos.

Happy Un-iversary

What’s a little thievery among old friends and bloggers.  Happy Anniversary to Colleen and Gregory.  She had this lovely quote on her blog…and I decided to take this opportunity to wish my wonderful hubby a Happy Un-iversary

Unto us, all our days are love’s anniversaries, each one

In turn hath ripened something of our happiness.

Robert Bridges

I thought this was a lovely quote.  It is especially fitting in my world because I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist.  Less than perfect days are often just an annoyance. I feel that I’ve grown through much of this in these last years and am much better at seeing each day as a part of the journey.  Rough spots lead to sweet. 

It is also a good reminder that love isn’t built on big events and lavish gifts. A life of love is built on just that…a life of love. Daily love. Sweet moments. Giggles over dirty dishes. Flirting through the boring parts.  Cuddling during the quiet.  The more we flirt, the more we giggle, the more we cuddle the more we love.  The more we flirt and cuddle…well, I’ll keep that behind closed doors.

To my Sweetheart, thank you for sharing each day with me and growing our family and world in love.   I love you deeply!

Ann

Money math

 Ahhh, Kids and money. They go together like a wop bob a loo bop.  Nothing teaches math more quickly than money. 

Bright and early this morning, this Hero climbed up on my lap with a catalog full of his current favorite toys.  Their prices are all listed and he starts telling me how much money he needs to buy each page of toys.  He’s doing it in his head and each time came up with the wrong answer.  That is beside the point though. 

I’ve been talking to the kids a lot recently about how mistakes equal learning. If you never make a mistake, you aren’t learning. You are taking an easy path.  If you stretch your wings, mistakes are inevitable.

So while he kept coming up with the wrong answers, we worked together to find the right answer.  He had a great understanding of all the concepts such as taking away 3 from 13 so you can add ten and then re-add the 3 back in…or that if he took one set of 12 + 14 and another set of 12 + 14 that he could add that sum to itself to save steps.  Really advanced ideas. I love the way children learn math. It has so little to do with numbers and so much to do with great ideas, complex concepts.

In the end, we figured out that most of his mistakes were perfect kindy mistakes.  18 + 3 = 22 because he forgot to count the 20, ie 18, 19, 21 22…Just skipping that 0.  Or addition mistakes 8 + 4 = 11 type stuff.  The grander concepts, the higher level thinking was all right on track.  Heck, he even took some paths to his answers that made me go ‘hmmmm’.  He his ideas were solid.  Memorization of facts comes in time. Heck, that’s what calculators are for.  But to watch the Hero’s 6 yo brain wrapping around big thoughts makes my brain happy.