Here are a few pictures from our trip to Micke Grove Park in Lodi last week. What a neat little place! We toured the Japanese Garden, a very small, but cute zoo, huge castle-like playground structure (there are several scattered about), and kiddie amusement park. Besides the amusement park, we spent less than $15. The kids had a blast and the weather was absolutely perfect. A nice day to just be.
Picture from the Japanese Garden. A really beautiful place even in the dead of winter. I can't imagine how nice it will look come spring.
Obligatory, but still cute. How does he do it?!
And she sits(!), but only for a second :)
What a cutie!
Mia loved the little fishy, but I think she mistook it for a train as I caught her saying, "Choo-choo!"
Who knew a double chin could be so darn cute?! Live it up, girl!
Alfonso surprised me with birthday money to buy a new lens for my camera. Originally he planned on purchasing a zoom lens with the belief that it would come in handy as our kids aged and played sports etc. I thought that was what I wanted too until I did a little more research. For a fourth of the price I ordered a lens that allows me to take more indoor pictures without the use of a flash. If you pay attention, you'll notice that the use of a flash really "kills" a picture by making it appear a little flat. I still take pictures with my pop-up flash, but its nice to know I can capture more pictures full of life.
This lens is very sensitive to any sort of movement so I haven't yet had a chance to capture a real goodie of Mia...the girl never stops moving, but that's a story for another time :). I took this picture of Spencer in our entreeway with the front door open. That's usually a great spot to get natural light without harsh direct sunlight and get nice catchlights in the eyes.
I made it to Grandpa's house today. It helped that my two cousins meet me there and I waited in the car until their arrival because I just didn't think I could do it alone.
Of course I cried when I saw the makeshift "shrine" his caregiver created on Grandpa's chair. He hardly ever left that chair and now it's empty...forever. Weird.
When my dad called this last Sunday to tell me Grandpa had taken a turn for the worse, I knew I needed to be in that room as soon as possible. The problem was Alfonso was at church with the car and the car seats and I had a little munchkin at home with me. After the tenth unanswered phone call, I found myself pacing in the garage just waiting to jump in the car the moment he arrived. I was anxious alright and I needed to focus my energy on something other than my husband's inability to answer his phone at such a critical time, so I started to pick-up a bit. I found a few of Spencer's Sunday school masterpieces. When I brought the papers into the house, something caught my eye. A piece of bright blue construction paper held a message I know was sent for me as it read, "God is with me".
He is, isn't He?
I entered Grandpa's room asking God to wrap His arms around me. Due to circumstances surrounding my earlier years, I've grown to have a deep anxiety surrounding death or illness. I'm not talking about the normal fear most of us carry, but rather a fear that's required years of counseling and one that will continue to require effort to overcome. I knew Grandpa was near his end and I knew he would find peace with the life he lived, but it's still hard to let go.
When his heart and oxygen monitor signaled trouble, I squeezed his hand a little tighter. He fought and he fought hard. As he took his last few breaths, I was nose to nose with the very best Grandpa in the world. What a peaceful passing. I've thanked God over and over for the opportunity to be present.
Our involvement in Grandpa's life says more about him then it does us. Really, he was impossible not to love and care for. As my Uncle put it, "He made his own luck." My dad has told me many times that he's never heard Grandpa speak ill of anyone or curse. That sure makes me wish I was a little bit more like Grandpa. I too never saw him angry. The only time I remember him being upset with me was when I purposely stepped on a snail and told Grandma he did it. Sure pill time would cause him to occasionally declare, "You're sure bossy!", but more for a laugh than anything.
Now that his house is completely empty, we'll begin to sift through the treasures he and Grandma found along the way. Its hard, that's for sure, but it only hurts because we loved them both so much.
My grandpa passed away yesterday morning. This last week was pretty tough as I prepared to say goodbye. I'm not up for posting much more than this as my emotions are still pretty raw (which is why many phone calls have gone unreturned).
I took this picture a few days before grandpa passed away. I don't usually have my camera with me when I go to his house and I'm so thankful that I felt a prompting to have it with me that day. To me, this picture is proof that a photo doesn't have to be perfect to be priceless.