Sunday, May 25, 2014

Courageous Graduate

My daughter commuted to campus by city bus for four years. Sometimes she dealt with some unsavory characters. It was not just helpful but eased many of our minds and hearts that Nick would walk her to bus stops to send her off and meet her upon her return as well. She went through many of the things that college students face... being on wait lists for classes needed for her major... personal items stolen while in transit... late study nights... papers... incredibly difficult scheduling. She worked a job while taking classes for over 3 1/2 years. A significant highlight to her college experience was working for the San Francisco Chronicle as an intern for several semesters. She has been published many times now. The greatest challenge, however, was losing her brother. I cannot ever express how proud I am that she was willing to accept counsel and help and that she persevered. There were highs and lows as most of us face and it has been my honor to be her mom, listening to her excitement and sharing the pain. When I sat here wondering what to title a post that would highlight her college graduation the word "courage" kept coming to mind.

Today I heard a handful of speeches which were to be an inspirational sending off for these graduates. I looked up graduation quotes, hoping to find one that was perfect for my girl. I smile at the one by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Hitch your wagon to a star" and I remember those days preparing her for that first semester. She had a dream and she was going after it. Yet Eddie Rickenbacker, a WWI flying ace had the inspirational quote that wins for tonight... "Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." I know there have been times Rebekah was exhausted, discouraged and afraid. But she kept going. Congratulations, my courageous graduate.

Many of us met at the mall next to the college for a bite to eat prior to the commencement ceremony.

Then my lovely girl donned her choice apparel and we gathered in the parking lot with other family members...

Joseph, Rebekah and Shasta

Meeting up with Zoey

Grandma Cathy, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Kevin joined us, too, and we began our trek to the theater where the very best of the graduations was held... lol.
Thank you, Nick, for making sure Rebekah walked safely in her heels... (Just teasing you, Bek, you did a great job today!)

We hung out a bit since we were early...

Cue music...

Oh, my goodness, I am so proud of her I can hardly stand it!

A quick wave to mom as she makes way to the best seat she could have been given!!

Look! There she is!!

We enjoyed the little talks, but everyone knows the highlight is when your own special graduate's name is called...

It is still not easy to get them to all smile at the same time...

So, I focused on just the girls...

... and then the boys...

Then I had some one on one with Zoey because I don't get to spend much time with her these days...

And I got one last shot of the graduate in cap n gown... with me!

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." ~Albert Einstein

"... no bad thing to celebrate a simple life" -LOTR

It does not seem like four years ago that Rebekah graduated from high school and I drove her to San Francisco State University. We sat on a side road, looking onto the campus, had a heart to heart. We walked all around, taking pictures of scenic little places on campus. She began. She stuck to it. It was very hard at times. She did it!

It was a privilege to join her on campus a handful of times over the years... and it's bittersweet that today we met there and when we left she was an alumni. But, I have gotten ahead of myself!

Rebekah chose a smaller graduation ceremony which was scheduled on a Sunday, so we chose to have her party on Saturday. It was so exciting for me to plan and leading up to it I kept envisioning the scene in Where the Wild Things Are where Max called out, "And now... let the wild rumpus start!"

Shasta and Chris brought balloons!

I made cupcakes...

Stephen grilled...
(My man-child is so handsome!)

Rebekah was determined to get all the mileage she could out of her graduation hat!

Rebekah has been living with Nick's family for all of her college years. They have been very supportive!

Nick and I had let her down easy, sharing that I would be able to give her a crocheted bag as a gift...

She had no idea that she would also get a leather satchel...

... not only did she get a feminine leather satchel... but she also got a second leather one with larger space and pockets galore, quite durable!

Her best college buddy, Alyssa, was able to join us!

Nick's mom, Lori, presented her with a trip!

Jayden joined in as if her were one of us grown-ups... He needs a cousin... lol.

Michael led us in a hilariously fun game after dinner. Here he is with my sweet little Frodo.

Jayden found all the dirt to be had, so after a bubble bath from Grandma, he was slipped into one of my tanks and put to sleep on my bed...

Shasta and Chris took him home later and when he woke up he went to his mom and said, "This is NOT the kind of shirt that a baby sleeps in!" Oh, my, he keeps me laughing, just like Victor always has done.

Up next... Rebekah's graduation!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Shasta's Tribute

Several weeks ago each of us began to talk about ideas we had for Nathan's birthday. Shasta's tribute began a couple of years ago, though. I will take momma liberties to share what I have watched her accomplish, which led up to this amazing tribute to her brother.

Motherhood was a delight. Shasta and I had such a fun time playing with Jayden those first couple of years! However, the struggle of weight gain and bouts of postpartum depression were part of Shasta's life. But the day came when she decided to take her health and fitness into her hands and dedicate herself to making changes... with no excuses. She and her best friend signed agreements with each other to exercise every day.

Shasta and her best friend:

Then one change led to the next. One decision led to the next. She never stopped. Not only has she lost about 80 pounds, but she increased her physical strength and as that happened, her confidence took flight. Since she shares her story best, I will leave the introduction at that...

I first heard about Shasta's plan when I asked if she would like to join the boys and I at the pier on Nathan's birthday. Nope. There was a half marathon in Capitola the weekend following his birthday and she planned on running that 13.1 miles, dedicated to him. So, as brothers and sisters and I planned our day at the pier, Shasta began baking cupcakes. What? How does that fit in here? Well, let me tell you. She didn't have the money to enter the race. So, she began baking endless batches of homemade cupcakes and selling them to pay the entry fee!

The night before...

Sisters, sharing the experience...

Running the last bit of the race! She is wearing Nathan's hat.

Just after the finish line!

It is so exciting to see her place so well in this!!

This is her beautiful medal. The lanyard has sea turtles on it!! It couldn't be more perfect.

More sister time:

Jayden was a great cheerleader for it all!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Nathan's 18th Birthday

A few weeks prior to Nathan's birthday I was honored to receive an amazing gift. A classmate of his, Caleb, made a video with clips of Nathan at school, including some of the projects he was part of and also interviews with several friends and a teacher. I cannot begin to express how much this video means to me... to be able to watch Nathan and hear his voice... it is a healing balm to me. Sometimes I fear that I wont be able to remember how his voice sounded. Here is the video

Heading towards Nathan's birthday I knew that I would take the day off from work and go to the pier. My youngest daughter had planned a birthday celebration with all of us who could make it. Rebekah and Nick drove to join in and I took Joseph and Victor out of school. We were joined by one of Nathan's best friends ever... Tetsuro Okabe. He used to play tennis with Bek when she was a freshman in high school and continued to be a role model and friend to most of my children. Nathan admired him very much. I was so glad that he spent time with us.

When we arrived at the pier I first thought that someone had hung rainbow streamers up, then as we got closer I saw the most beautiful strings of 1000 paper cranes. Nathan's dear friend, Sarah, had spent the previous four weeks or so making them herself and wrote a touching letter to him.

 photo cb435c7d-5c96-4d89-a43a-bb4f220e36e6.jpg

 photo IMG_4268.jpg

 photo IMG_4334.jpg

 photo IMG_4335.jpg

Zoey had our special day planned out beautifully. She brought a heart shaped box with an opening on the top along with paper and someone had a couple of pens. We each wrote prayers/letters and put them inside. Tetsuro brought a cup of Nathan's favorite coffee and a balloon that we each wrote a message on. Later in the afternoon I emptied the coffee over the side of the pier, as Tetsuro wished. I am not sure who left roses and a framed photo.

 photo IMG_4269.jpg

 photo IMG_4258-1.jpg

 photo IMG_4256.jpg

 photo IMG_4276.jpg

 photo IMG_4275-1.jpg

 photo f1b6cec4-4e68-4ca5-91da-68e3c916287e.jpg

Zoey would not let anyone see the birthday cake ahead of time and it was an amazing surprise! I loved it.

 photo IMG_4280.jpg

We spent another hour or two at the shore. It was beautiful.

 photo IMG_4292.jpg

 photo IMG_4287.jpg

Aaaaah. Here's my boy's smile...

 photo IMG_4313.jpg

 photo IMG_4314.jpg

Overall, this was a very blessed day. I very well may always feel drawn to this place. So be it. It is beautiful here, for that I am thankful. Until next time,

 photo IMG_4336.jpg