Tuesday, October 30, 2012

back to it

I've been avoiding this blog because I feel that I need to have time and space and mindset required to write about grandma before I can post about other - mundane happenings in our corner of the world.  There have been one or two occasions where I sat down to write and just stared at the screen - not finding the words or the energy I needed to start, let alone finish a post.

So, I'm just going to recap some things because as much as I have to say about grandma - I don't want to forget the little things that are happening right now either.

Jennifer called me to let me know about Grandma, nearly two weeks ago now.  I was at first scared of the thought of not being able to come home, but once I told Kyle the news, he assured me I'd be going.  We couldn't afford for the whole family to make the trip this time around, so I went solo.  I had many conflicting feelings about the whole scenario.  It was such a sad occasion and I'd rather have not have had to make the trip at all.  But, despite the sadness, the fact remained that I was going to get to spend several days with my family.  And that is always a reason for happiness.  On top of that, I was traveling alone.  For only the 2nd time since I've been married.  This means that I time to spend with my family that didn't involve around holiday preparations and business, I didn't have kids to tend to and there was no set agenda apart from the visitation and funeral arrangements.

And so, I went home.  Never underestimate the power of healing a family can have.  I soaked up my family and friends and acquaintances.  Hugs, food, good conversation, laughter, tears, more hugs, reminiscing - family.  It was nice to be there.

The visitation and funeral were nice.  Well attended, personal, sad yet beautiful.  The thought that I kept thinking was that I was sad she was gone but how lucky we were to have had her so long.  My grandma lived every day of her life and left this world mentally sharp and with her days full of activity.  There is a lot to be thankful for in that.  She got to see me married, she got to hold her great grand children and meet, hug, and kiss her newest namesake.  I find comfort in thinking how happy she must be to be with my grandpa again - and, perhaps even more so, how happy he must be to have her again.  I'm going to miss her, but I feel like she's still close.

The rest of the week in Arkansas was a hodgepodge mix of visiting people, good meals and enjoying the city.  We had a family birthday dinner for Michael, David, and Patrick - and I was happy to be there for it.  I hung out at mom and dad's a lot and ran errands with mom.  I had lunch with Jennifer and hung out with Michael after work.  It was good to be home.

I eventually made it back to Boston - the same day that Kyra flew in to visit us.  And I was quickly transitioned from the leisurely week at home to the fast paced scheduled days up here.  Kyra was here for several days - much to the girls' delight.  They are both absolutely crazy about her.  I had 7 photo shoots last week, and I have a lot of work to do on that front.  I've been so very fortunate to have so many people interested in pictures.  Of course, that all had to happen after work everyday and it was a busy week on that front too.  Kyle flew out of town mid week for Colorado and so I had my hands full with the girls and the next thing I know - I blink and it's Sunday night.  Kyle is flying in on the last plane into Logan before they pretty much shut it down for the hurricane.  Brittany was rerouted to Boston and suddenly we have all of us together again.  Again, the girls were pretty excited when they found NeeNee had come for a surprise visit.

We hunkered down at home while the winds blew yesterday.  School was cancelled for me and Kyle, and I must say - I don't remember the last time we all had a full day at home with nothing to do. It was nice, despite the wind and eventual cabin fever.

We never lost power, we only lost roof shingles and some small branches.  I saw several cars smashed by trees and branches on the way to work this morning, and the school had a few trees down as well.  We were certainly fortunate to have escaped further wind damage.  The girls seemed to take it well, barely aware that it was anything more than a rainy day at home.  They slept fine through the night, which was my biggest concern.  Alls well that ends well.

Tomorrow is halloween, and I'm not sure if the rain will stop in time for us to get out or not, but Abby sure is hoping so.  They went to a halloween party on Sunday and had a good time, so hopefully that will suffice if nothing else.

And that brings us to now.  I will find time sometime to write out my thoughts and memories about Grandma.  I want the girls to be able to know about her someday. Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes, cards, flowers, prayers, etc.  Those gestures are so nice in sad times.  Truly, how lucky we were to have had her for so long. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Arkansas Dem Gazette

It's been a whirlwind week, and I will write it about it soon.  But I wanted to document and share a little piece they wrote about grandma in the paper.  Thank you to everyone who has reached out.

Elizabeth Armstrong

Music a big part of stalwart faith

This article was published today at 5:12 a.m.
 — Elizabeth Armstrong was known as the “bread lady” for making two homemade loaves a day for several years to share with others.
“She’d take it to church, she’d take it to neighbors ... she’d bake 60 loaves a month,” said her son, the Rev. Roger Armstrong. “When she passed away, her freezer was full of bread she’d put in bags to give away. At her funeral service, we’ll be using her bread for Communion.”
Elizabeth Fawn Jones Armstrong, an accomplished musician, died Sunday at her Little Rock home from congestive heart failure complications, her family said.
She was 89.
At an early age, Armstrong developed an ear for music.
“I think she was probably prenatally ” interested in music, said her daughter, the Rev. Anne Holcomb. “She sang, she played mostly piano ... she was always there to accompany people.”
In the early 1940s, she found a kindred spirit in Lyle E. Armstrong.
“They’d sit on the short swing,” on her family’s porch, her son said. “As long as it was creaking as it swung, it was OK but, if it quit creaking, someone would peek out of the house and find out what was going on.”
The couple married Oct. 16, 1943, a day after he proposed so they could be married before he shipped out overseas with the U.S. Army for the next few years, her son said.
“Their wedding cake was orange Hostess cupcakes and [the drinks were] Coca-Cola,” Holcomb said.
In the early 1960s, Armstrong began teaching music at the Arkansas School for the Blind in a class where some students were both deaf and blind, her daughter said.
“Sometimes they could feel the pulses of the music or the beat of it,” Holcomb said.
Armstrong translatedmusic and lyrics into Braille at the school and at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church, so blind people could join the choir, her son said.
For years, Armstrong taught piano and organ lessons.
“When I was practicing, she’d listen in the other room,” Holcomb said. “[She’d say], ‘No that’s supposed to be an F-sharp’ ... she’d say, ‘Just slow down and work out that part.’”
Armstrong and her husband were active in the music and theater scene atthe church and in the community.
“Our family would write songs and musicals,” Roger Armstrong said. “We’d hum out a tune and she’d write it down.”
For the Armstrong family, Dinner conversation became a gameof puns.
“One [pun] would lead to another and we were all groaning, ‘OK I give up, I can’t top that one,’” Roger Armstrong said. “Once, there was a funeral for a Mr. Faucet that had died, but [we knew] two Faucet families. My mom and my sister-in-law said, ‘hot and cold?’”
At 65 years old, Armstrong graduated with a degree in music composition, 45 years after she had begun taking classes.
“She got her first computer ... and discovered there was software to compose music,” her son said. “That was a great help to her, she used to do it all by hand.She had reams and reams of manuscript stuff.”
Armstrong played the song of life with her faith at the conductor’s stand, whether it meant taking in those in need or sharing God’s words with her four children, all of whom became Methodist ministers.
“[My brother said] he remembered asking her once when he was about 5 [years old] ... ‘Why are we here, why do we exist on earth?’” Holcomb said. “[She said], ‘We’re here to help others.’ That was kind of the way she looked at everything.”
Arkansas, Pages 16 on 10/17/2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

apple picking

I don't have long to write, but I wanted to share a few of my favorites from our trip apple picking yesterday.  It was colder than in years past and Abby lost her willingness to play or smile or walk towards the end -  she's definitely getting sick...getting what E has, which we suspect is hand foot mouth disease.  Poor Abs was burning up last night and the report is that she's pretty down and out today as well.  But, illnesses aside, but we had a really nice time.

We love this tradition.  It's one of the few (only?) traditions we've done since Abby was a baby and kept up every year.  Abby is now old enough to look forward to it as much as we do.  And it's so New England-y :)

E had a BLAST.  She loved everything.  Mostly the animals, she could have watched the goats all day long.  I think she liked just being let loose and able to roam the farm. Oh, and picking up baby pumpkins.  She seriously just loved it.

enjoy the pics.

Monday, October 1, 2012


At the beginning of the summer, Brittany was kind enough to let me borrow her copy of the Insanity Workout.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with it - it's a 60ish day workout program that has become pretty popular.  It's expensive, though, and not something I could afford on my own -so I was happy to borrow Brit's copy. 

The first week was a little rough in that my calves felt like they were going to pop off my legs, but they acclimated fairly quickly and I really enjoyed the workouts.  I found that while I wasn't able to complete every second of every workout - I felt great when I'd finished.  I was able to do them for 2 weeks without missing a day.

Then, I went on vacation and took two weeks off.  

But, when I got back, I jumped right back in.  

All the time I was doing Insanity, I was also training for this 1/2 marathon - so, over the summer, I was getting plenty of exercise.  I think Kyle was even worried I was doing too much - but I wasn't.  I was eating more than usual because I had to, but overall, I started feeling stronger and better. 

I was supposed to have finished the program when work started, but due to my 2 week break on vacation, I still had 2 weeks left.  Things got much harder to keep up after work started.  I did a video here and there but wasn't able to keep up with them every day.  And due to the girls being sick, me being sick, and a batch of rainy weather - I haven't worked out at all in 2 weeks.  It's terrible.  All that training seems to slip away so quickly.  

So, I decided to cut my losses and start over from the beginning.  So, today, is day one of Insanity again and I did my workout with 2 little monsters hanging and tugging on me the whole time.  My goal is to do a video on the days I don't run.  With this whole job-thing there's no way I have time to run and do a workout.  Especially since it's getting dark earlier and earlier. 

Anyway.  I'm all off subject.  What did I think about the program? I loved it.  I saw results.  I felt good. Once I hit month two, I hated it because it got hard and it was exhausting.  But, pretty soon I liked it again.  

I didn't take measurements when I started and I only took a handful of before pictures.  And there's no way on God's green earth the internet is seeing those full body shots - but I'll share my arm pictures because I think they do a good job of representing the change I felt.  Overall, I think I lost somewhere around 7lbs and I dropped 1-2 jean sizes - so, I was happy.  I haven't worn clothes this size since I started college.

So, if you're thinking about it - I highly recommend it.  If you can commit to pushing play every day - you won't regret it.  :)

 Left arm pics - Day 1 and 6 week picture