yesterday the Hollywood Housewife hosted a second (annual) Instagram event to capture a single day in snapshots. One Day is about stopping to notice all the small moments that don’t typically get attention. fantastic idea. i truly treasure memories caught in photos, videos, journals, and stories (i think it is so important to record and preserve personal and family histories), so obviously i was totally on board.
the day was an exercise in being present and aware of your own context, but also a fascinating glimpse into the hidden lives of others. in browsing the thousands of photos that were posted throughout the day, common threads between storylines were clear, but so was the vast variety of fun and frustrations a day can bring.
you would think the internet would already be at capacity when it comes to “what i had for breakfast” status updates. but somehow, among the all duties and diversions posted, this project prompted people share the mundane with more of a why than a what. instead of becoming just a tiresome tracking device for every tedious movement, it was more like a collection of the scenes that characterize daily life in this season. because we all know how quickly things can change.
often my life feels like a neverending “groundhog day” cycle. i’m sure i’m not the only one who felt like a sampling of my day would just be a parade of cooking and cleaning and feeding and errands (or for some, emails and meetings and reports and phone calls). but when i stepped back and viewed my hamster wheel through the camera lens, i was pleasantly surprised to discover how un-boring my e’ery day, e’ery day activities really are.
the best thing this project gave me is a refreshed outlook on the routines in my life that i tend to dread, but should really savor. most days, the evening hours find me just gritting my teeth and counting down the chores left until i can fall into bed. but family meals and bedtime rituals and the untidy aftermath of the day are all indications of a full and fortunate life.
it will be fun to look back on today and remember surprises happen every day, too.
as i brushed my teeth i kept thinking about the moments i had failed to snap: the baby petting (smacking) the dogs, the leftover (umpteenth) moving box in the office that i attempted to unpack, the before shot of the messy (very) kitchen…
and also the moments that are part of a typical day that just didn’t happen: trips to the store, a visit from grandpa, responding to emails…
but this wasn’t meant to be comprehensive. that’s not what a “snapshot” is.
i can say that yesterday’s experiment has affected my attention to detail throughout today, too. hopefully i can continue to be intentional about noticing the bits and pieces that make up my unique narrative. thanks for the motivation, laura!
one of the best things about being someone’s mom is the fact that kids automatically make every celebration more fun. little ones have a way of participating in holidays and events in a way that adults either outgrow, or feel they should, until you can use your child as an excuse to jump in again. cheesy valentines in the spring, colorful sparklers in the summer, and crazy costumes in the fall all feel more appropriate when you are enjoying them alongside your kiddo’s delight. and the Christmas season is taken to a whole new level!
now, at graham’s age, any childlike glee is obviously driven more by mom than baby, but i don’t need much nudging to get back in the game. since graham was barely alive last halloween, this was the first real chance for him to “be” something for all the fall parties.
it’s no secret that i love children’s literature, and plan to brainwash my kid into loving books, too. the first step in my not-so-sneaky plot was to decorate his nursery in a storybook theme. isn’t the next logical step to help him channel a classic storybook character?
harold, and his creative adventure with his crayon, has always been one of my favorites. graham sort of resembles the bald little boy, so it was an easy choice for me. plus, his costume couldn’t have been any easier.
but what is harold without the world he draws around himself? so i chose a page from the book for my costume and set about recreating it. this mama does not sew, but i wanted the drawing to connect to harold’s perpetually-drawing crayon, so fabric glue was my friend.
making lee’s costume as the book cover was a cinch: i just sent the image to a local store to make the heat transfer, then took it down the street for the tee company to apply it. the whole outing took 15 minutes. (yeah, we live in a small town, now.)
and we have great friends in this town who throw cute toddler parties complete with hayrides and pumpkin painting, and a fantastic church family that knows how to deck out a festive “trunk or treat,” so graham officially had more fun this year than he will ever remember.
last week we celebrated one year of life with graham. the party was so fun and we were honored to share this milestone with so many of the special people in graham’s life. i’ve finally combed through the tons of photos that thoughtful friends and family took with my camera, and picked out the best ones to share here. (let’s be honest, i only filtered out a few duplicates and misfires.)
so, i’ve give you a mostly wordless (gasp!) okieOLIO post, because all we really care about in these instances are the pics, right?
tomorrow our graham turns 12 months old. one year! is it always the longest and shortest year of your life, when you’re learning to be a parent? i’m still grappling with the fact that i’m actually a mom. this new role is so comfortable, yet still feels like a skin i put on and that at any moment someone is going to realize that it’s just me under here. and so much has changed since we brought our newborn home that his birth seems about a hundred years ago.
in the forthcoming posts i’ll offer more details on all that change i’ve eluded to, but i plan to quickly move forward into more exciting subjects as the year winds down. like a birthday party recap, and plans for a fall veggie garden, and recipe testing, and a house reveal with decorating tips (from YOU! i need help!)
here’s to settling into a slower pace (please, let it be true!), savoring the pleasant fall weather, enjoying holiday family time, and resting up for the momentum of the new year.
you may have been wondering about my prolonged absence from okieOLIO. (probably not, but i like to flatter myself that people miss me when i’m gone ) i have certainly missed being active in this space, and think i’m finally in a place that i can pick it back up again. in as a succinct manner as is possible for my loquacious self, i’m going to attempt to bridge the gap between last season’s finale and this season’s premier. let’s play catch-up:
the past four months have brought a new job for lee, a 200-mile move, the loss of our beloved titu, a family vacation, a sold house, a house purchase, home renovations, and a milestone birthday party to plan. oh, and a six-week period in there, during which i went from not knowing my dad was even considering a new relationship to learning that he is going to be married in less than three months. <stunned silence> it’s another bittersweet step in this healing journey, but one that has left me emotionally breathless and sprinting to keep up.
the overwhelming amount of change in my life right now has taken a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual toll that has challenged my assumptions about my personality. i’ve always claimed to thrive on change, variety, and new experiences. well, it turns out that’s only true if i get to choose the changes—ha! (i can’t take credit for that revelation. my pastor floored me with this truth in a casual and caring statement that nailed my temperament so clearly that i’m shocked i’ve never realized it before.)
all i want right now is a mundane, routine, even boring, daily life where i can just focus on my family, work, and passions without all the extra stuff to process eating up all my bandwidth. i’m sure once i get what i ask for i will immediately itch for chaos and adventure again.
but just because i’ve been spread a little thin lately does not mean i haven’t been writing. oh, to the contrary. times like these call for volumes of words to be written. i have a back-log of posts that have never made it to the published category simply because i have not taken time to proof, format, and add photos like i’d like to. some of those drafts will pop up here in the next few weeks (back-dated) because, well, i want them to be here. feel free to un-follow now if you don’t like this plan.
this has always been an unapologetically selfish blog—it really is my web-journal. i harbor grand plans to start writing on subjects that will be helpful or entertaining or enriching to others, but i haven’t quite figured out what unique voice i have to offer. until then, friends, i welcome you to cozy up inside the piece of my mind that i unlock in these online episodes and throw in your two cents. because—above all—i love to connect with you.
image via trajectory.org
on friday, my titu stepped into a well-earned place in eternity. the impact she had on my life cannot be overstated. i immediately turned to one of my most comforting outlets–writing–to process all i was feeling after days of holding 24-hr vigil by her side in shifts with family. this is part of what i wrote the night she died, some of which was shared at her her memorial service yesterday.
it’s nearly impossible to know me and not know about my titu.* she was such an integral part of our family and an important relationship in my life that you only have to be casually acquainted with me to have heard of her. if you are from my hometown and have met my family, you’ve probably met her.
and if you’ve met her, you adore her. instantly. love flowed freely and unconditionally from her heart–you felt enveloped in it the moment you entered her presence. her care was so genuine and affectionate, her words so uplifting and sugary sweet, her generosity so selfless and excessive, that it was at times overwhelming. when you were with her, you felt like the most special person on earth.
i’ll always remember her extravagant greetings to me. every time i would call, she would say repeatedly, “you sound so good to me!” and when i would walk in her room for a visit she would exclaim, “oh, it’s too good to be true!”
growing up, my siblings and i were fortunate enough to live close by and spend abundant time with her. we were the envy of our out-of-town cousins. most of my childhood and teenage memories include her, because she was just as involved in my upbringing and extracurricular activities and accomplishments as my parents.
my friends all adopted her as their own and called her “titu” as well. she lived with my family for the last 15 years, first in her house while we were building, then in her own suite attached to the new house. after i moved out, we talked nearly every day on the phone, and i looked forward to sleepovers in her room when i came home from college for visits.
she was the true matriarch of our family, fusing together her children and grandchildren (“titu’s troops”) like super glue. she instilled a high value for family in her brood, a priority which was passed from her parents–the legacy runs deep and strong. for many, many years, she and her nine siblings committed to gather each year near their childhood home on the east coast to walk the boards in ocean city and generally have a raucous and memorable time.
she turned 93 in april of this year. and then again in may ;). (yes, she celebrated two birthdays. she was clever like that.) she maintained good physical health into her late 80s and fantastic mental clarity until in the last months when low oxygen levels caused intermittent fogginess. and even then, when she was on, she was on! she had the gift of gab, an impeccable memory, and a sharp sense of humor. conversations with her were never dull.
she reminded me so much of my mom (although it’s probably more accurate to say it the other way around). they both had an extra-special quality that left an unforgettable impression. i know it seems far-fetched for me to speak about both my mother and grandmother in such superlative terms, but it’s the truth. friends and family can back me up on this one.
i’ve clung to the shadows of my mom i recognized in titu for the last three years. it’s been especially difficult for me to process the déjà vu of witnessing a slow decline in health in someone i love so deeply. and the burden i feel to step up and carry on where they left off is heavy. they’ve left a rather vast swath of positive influence and i’m feeling quite unqualified to fill in. i pray and trust that in time God will cultivate the pieces of them buried inside me.
last week stephen colbert’s 92-yr-old mother died, and he gave a touching tribute to her at the top of his show. his words conveyed precisely how i feel about my titu:
“I know it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long. But the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish, it only magnifies, the enormity of the room whose door has now quietly shut.”
*if you’re just tuning in, “titu” is lebanese for “grandmother.” except that it’s not the proper word; it’s more like a custom spelling of a slang derivation of an informal variation of the word.