Saturday, August 30, 2014

She Made It To 90!

When Mom fell in January, if you'd have asked me if she would make it to her birthday, I would have confidently said no. We thought, based on the assessment of the doctors caring for her that she had less than a week to live. But those Drs. didn't know our Mom. We all call her the energizer bunny because she keeps getting back up after tough challenges and keeps on going. In July, the nurses were telling my sister that I should probably come soon if I want to see her alive because they were seeing signs that she was nearing the end of her life. I, knowing my Mom, waited to see what she would do and as usual she perked back up and was alert again. All along I've said that this birthday was my goal for her. All of her siblings died at 89 or younger and I wanted to see her make it longer than any of them and SHE DID IT.

I was in Akron for the past week and just got home last night. I went early so I could do some more work at the house and continue to sort through papers and boxes to clear out some of the clutter. My main goal for being there was to celebrate with Mom on reaching 90. My first few days there she seemed very tired and in one of her unclear phases but as the week went on, she became more alert and clearer. I always ask her when I'm there..."Do you know who I am?" and she'll look at me and smile and say. "Yes. You're Donna." and my heart does a happy dance because her forgetting me has been my dread from the beginning. Angie told her I had come into town for a birthday party and she asked her if she knew whose birthday it was. She said she didn't and Angie said..."Your birthday is on Wednesday, Mom and you will be 90 years old." She looked at her with a surprised face and said..."Oh my!". I don't think she expected to make it. Even before she got sick it seemed like 89 was the magic number for her when she expected to die. Since all her siblings died by 89, I think she figured she would do the same. She was preparing for it by making sure everything was in order before she hit 89. I always assured her I thought she would live longer than all of them but she never seemed to embrace that possibility.

We all met at Angie's for a 1:00 birthday party since Kay and Dale had to leave for work by 3:30. Angie had done her hair and had her fixed up with a little makeup. She looked beautiful. We all had our picture taken with her individually and also took quite a few group photos. I think all of us expect that this will be our last time all together with her alive. She's been known to surprise us before but we're all feeling like the end is near so the urgency was greater this time to take as many pictures as we could. We also took individual pictures of our hands with hers as well as group ones. I know I will cherish having all of these pictures. Mom seemed fairly alert and seemed to know it was her day but it was tiring for her too. We read all her cards to her and then took her to the kitchen for cake. We sang to her and then Dale helped her blow out her candles. She tried but she just didn't have the strength to blow them out herself. I know we wore her out though because after the party Angie put her in bed and she fell right to sleep and slept the rest of the day. I stayed with her that night while they went to church and she was asleep the entire time.

My prayer this year has been for her to see this day and I knew that God has had a hand in keeping her here for this one last celebration of her life. I know this will be her last birthday on this earth because her body is failing her at rapid speed but I'm thankful for this one little day of happiness before the end where we could all be together one last time to celebrate the life of a wonderful woman, our Mom. She may be tiny but she's a tough lady and I thank God that he gave me such a special lady to be my Mom. I'll end with a few more pictures of the day.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Yesterday and Today

After spending most of the summer traveling either home to see Mom or to help with the grandkids, I'm finally finding time to do what I love to do most...scrapbook. I signed up for Ali Edwards' "Yesterday and Today" class in May when she offered it again on her website. I wanted to take it when it was originally released with Big Picture Classes but the timing of the class was bad and/or I didn't want to spend the money at the time it was offered. I'd heard many people raving about what  good class it was so I was wishing that I'd found a way to sign up for it. Needless to say I was thrilled to see she was releasing it on her website at a lower price than BPC had originally offered it.

Since signing up for the class I've been focused on getting all the layouts done rather than adding it to the list of unfinished classes I've collected. I'm loving all the layouts and the stories I'm getting recorded from the class. I thought I'd share some of the layouts on my blog since I haven't shared any scrapbook pages in quite awhile.

We started with a cover page that consisted of one picture from our past and 5 smaller photos of us at various stages of our lives. I opted to put all the pictures in black and white except the "today" photo. Very fun to see pictures of me at various ages together in one place.

Next we did a page full of random memories from our childhoods. If we didn't have a picture to go with the memory we were told to either find one online or use embellishments in the picture spots. I had great fun sitting down and writing memories of the neighborhood store where we bought our penny candy, the amusement park we went to every summer, collecting pop bottles and riding the city buses downtown. I was excited to have some of my smaller stories written all together on one page. I may do a few more of these since I loved the process of it so well. I focused on summertime memories on this page but I think I could extend to memories of each season next.

Next we did pages on "hard stories to tell" and I did a page on the day I delivered my stillborn baby boy. It was a story I'd done on a page before but I didn't like the way it was set up so I was happy to just take the journaling from the original page and use it in this format. It's always therapeutic to get some of those hard stories written so that we can process them. I have a few others that I'd like to get recorded in this album as well. Once I get all the pages for the class completed I plan to go back and do additional pages on each theme.

The next assignment was a page with no photos that included either life lessons or things you don't know about me themes. I opted to write out lessons I've learned in 54 years. I love that she gives us some digital items to add to the pages to help them come together nicely. Several of these were completed after I attended the Scrapbook Expo in Duluth, GA and I was able to put to use some of the beautiful new paper I bought there. I love this page as well and enjoyed doing a photo-less page for once. I'm also happy to have a few words of advice for future generations recorded.

The next lesson had two assignments and so far have been my favorite of all the pages. This one explores the idea of "the Unexpected Life" and we were asked to contrast how our lives are different from the one we dreamed of as a child.  I chose to do mine on all the opportunities we've had to travel in our adult lives that I never could have imagined doing in my dreams for my life.

The second assignment was quite a bit of work because I had to round up 29 photos of relatives showing an evolution of family. In Ali's page she put many random pictures of relatives that she didn't even know who they were. I'm very fortunate that I know almost everyone in my collection of heritage photos thanks to my Mom's genealogy hobby. I focused on both sets of grandparents at different ages and my parents at different ages and added in some Aunts and Uncles. We were then supposed to add our own families to the far right. I was fun to see my parents at various stages of their lives as well as my grandparents and realize that we all weathered our way through each age. I think this was my most favorite so far that we've done. It was definitely the most time consuming. It took me a few days just to decide how I wanted to journal on the page.

As we transition away from older photos we had one last assignment to do a comparison page of "then  vs. now"  I found these pictures of Cory hugging me with a similar pose and I immediately knew my page would be about our relationship then versus now and how much fun I am having watching him as a daddy now. I encourage him to enjoy every moment of his kids because they will all grow up in a blink of an eye. That time between these two pictures certainly did fly by quickly. I should also mention that I decided to put butterflies on most of the pages throughout this album to signify change and growth and so you will see them often.

This is the last page I'll share from this class for this post. It's the last one I've completed and I'm in the process of working on the next few lessons. Ali's website is down for two weeks as she does a transition of her business and revamping of her website so our access to the class is limited for the next few weeks. I have the handouts saved though and will do most of them through the information on the handouts. This page uses pocket page protectors which I haven't used until now. We were to write three statements about 11 words and then find pictures to illustrate them. Her page was called "perspective" and I chose instead to to "introspection". I now have to decide what page I will put on the opposite sides of each pocket page. I'll probably do a two page spread for each with pictures in the pocket pages and a larger photo and long story on the left side. I'm thoroughly enjoying this class and am hoping she will offer some of her other classes on her website as well. I'd really like to do her "Hello Story" class as well.