welcome ... enjoy yourself

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

missing my papa

Two years ago Friday we said goodbye to my Grandpa. He had been on hospice for several months before he died (if I remember correctly) which gave us time to prepare to say goodbye to him and spend some last quality time together.  When I've lost other people, the ache of grief usually fades, and I'm able to look through old pictures and think of good memories without them being too painful.  It still hasn't happened with my Grandpa yet.  

I don't know if it's because I haven't sat with my grief enough, or not relived enough memories, or simply if not enough time has passed.  Losing my Grandpa left a huge whole in my heart, and I haven't figured out yet what to do with it. 

I miss my Papa's hands.  I miss his stories.  I miss his inappropriate jokes.  I miss his larger than life-ness.  I miss having someone who loved me so unconditionally.  I miss the birthday cards.  I miss the smell of his house and apartment.  I miss his phone calls.  I miss his laugh.  I miss his hugs and forehead kisses.  I miss fishing with him.  I miss his love of all things sports related.  I miss his weather reports.  I miss his phone messages.  I miss sharing updates with him.  I miss how proud he was of me.  

Missing him gets especially hard when I'm celebrating a new milestone or just when I have something fun I'd like to share with him.  It's hard around the holidays when I would usually look forward to seeing him.  I hate that I don't get to send him a Christmas card.   

At the heart of all of this missing is a feeling of gratitude.  I'm thankful I have so much to miss.  I'm thankful my Papa was so present in my life and that we knew each other so well.  It's a blessing to have someone who's absence you miss so much.  Because it shows how big of a part of your life they were.  I don't think I'll ever stop missing him, but hopefully the pain keeps making way for gratitude and happiness at all the memories I have of him.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

friends holiday market

Last weekend I went to the Milwaukee Friends International Gift Shop.  I had been checking out all the New York City holiday market pictures and trying to figure out how I could visit them for Christmas, when I saw the flyer for this local event.  Instead of flying to New York City and walking around holiday markets in the cold, I opted for walking around this lovely, local, indoor market instead.  

The market included a small pop-up soup cafĂ©, so before I shopped I indulged in some delicious gypsy and pumpkin peanut butter soup.  (The key was to mix the two soups together -- yummmm.)

I ran into some friends while here and had fun catching up before I checked out the stands.  We've lived in Milwaukee for a little over four years now, and we've reached the point where we can run into people we know all over the city.  It's a nice feeling to not be completely anonymous here. 

I picked out a couple of ornaments from this stand to give as gifts.  They were so pretty, unique, and affordable! 

I chose a couple of chocolate packs from this stand for mine and Paul's stockings.  Now I just need to get us some stockings. 

And lastly, I bought the last $5 Wisconsin ornament to hang on our tree.  We don't have much Wisconsin stuff, and I thought ornaments are a safe Wisconsin themed decoration to start with. 

Thanks for checking out my pictures!  I'm excited to share a few more posts this week.  I'm finally getting back into blogging after taking unplanned but necessary hiatus.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

santa diego

Santa Diego is getting tired waiting for kids to tell him what they want for Christmas.  He's ready to give out lots of kisses and bones!  

We bought Diego that Santa outfit last week at Target, and it's made me so amazingly happy that he's willing to wear it.  He's the cutest beagle Santa of them all.  Even if he does have a hard time waiting until Christmas Eve to eat all our Christmas cookies.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

st. nick's ornament tradition

Every year for St. Nick's Day, we receive a special ornament.  The tradition started with my Grandma who had a love for Hallmark ornaments.  St. Nick and Grandma teamed up so that each member of the family received the next ornament in their series.  Some of us lucked out and had series that lasted for years whereas other people got a nice variety of series when one of theirs stopped being produced.  I've had the Mary's Angels series for 27 years now (one of the more recent ones is in the picture above).  My parents still have most of them at their house, though I think I may have brought a few of them back to Milwaukee with me.  Though I'm hoping as I write this that I haven't brought any home since I didn't find them when I unpacked our box of Christmas decorations.  Errr....

I'm really excited to continue this tradition for my own family.  Tomorrow morning Paul and I will have new little ornaments waiting for us in our shoes by the front door.  Love Christmas traditions and St. Nick's Day. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

our thanksgiving

Paul and I (and Diego and Pedro) spent the Thanksgiving holiday in St. Louis with my family.  I forgot to keep the camera out through the night, but I snapped a few before I got too distracted by food.  Diego was so much better with the family gathering this year.  Last year he barked through the entire night.  It was really ruff.  But this year he won the most improved player award and sat very patiently - and quietly - waiting for pieces of turkey to fall. 

Father in law and son in law carving up the turkey.  Mom in the background making sure the Thanksgiving feast preparations are moving along.  She did so much work to make sure it was a nice holiday for everyone.  Football on in the far background.  

I'm not sure if I've mentioned before that I have the most adorable little cousins on the face of the earth.  This is little Abby working on her Thanksgiving turkey decorations.  She and her sister bring so much joy and laughter to all our family gatherings. 

Turkey turkey!!

I then forgot to take anymore pictures for the rest of the night.  These last two pictures were taken on self timer by Paul for my family's Christmas card.  My brother, my sister, and I waiting for everybody else to get their act together and get in the photo. 

One of the whole family outtakes.  I like this one better than the official Christmas card picture because my smile is actually normal here.  Who cares if the couch is taking up a fourth of the picture?

Hope you all had a fantastic, delicious Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

milwaukee domes

Over the weekend, I had visited the Milwaukee Domes with a friend to take her daughters' Christmas card photo.  The girls were adorable and so fun to play with, and the domes were all decked out for Christmas.  If that wasn't enough, we stopped for lunch/brunch afterwards, and I had THE BEST cinnamon french toast with orange marmalade butter.  You can't ask for a better kick off to the holidays. 

The theme for the holiday dome this year is Mele Kalikimaka -- basically Hawaiian Christmas.  I was a little disappointed I wasn't presented with a lei when I walked in, but the sculpture things were kind of cool.  

A close up of the big tree. 

If you're looking for me for the rest of December, I'll probably be here resting in the sunshine in a field of poinsettias.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

what i've been up to

It's been a very slow few weeks on the blog but a very busy few weeks in real life.  I've really missed writing here, and it felt strange not to have "blog" own my daily to do list.  Sometimes something just has to give, and I gave myself permission to take a short break from something I really enjoy -- but just didn't have time or energy for.  BUT NOW I'M BACK!!  At least for a few posts this week.

So what has kept me from blogging?

Remember those paintings I posted about a while ago?  In 2006 -- my junior year of college -- I painted portraits of the Salvoradan Jesuit martyrs and their two companions.  I had an art show on my college campus after I finished the paintings and did a few presentations to church and student groups, but other than that the paintings didn't get much press.  Fast forward to a year and a half ago when the Ignatian Solidarity Network asked me permission to use the painting images for a poster fundraiser.  I agreed, we put together a contract, and poster sales began in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Jesuits' deaths earlier this year.  The sale of the poster caught the attention of various schools and churches around the country, and it recently lead to a few speaking engagements for me.

Over the past few weeks, I gave two presentations in Milwaukee and also travelled to Kansas City, Syracuse, and Washington D.C. to speak about the paintings and the story of the Jesuit martyrs.  It's been such an honor and such a cool opportunity to revisit the work I did and to push myself out of my comfort zone.  This whole time I've had a feeling of "who me?"  You want me to fly me somewhere and pay me to speak about my painting work?  Well...I'm not sure you've got the right person, but sure, why now?  I trusted that I could step up to the challenge and said yes to all the requests that came in -- even though I knew it would end up being a crazy few weeks for me.

The prep work - on top of working my two current part time jobs - on top of the actual traveling lead to a crazy month.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.  It's reminded me of my love of painting - and speaking (surprisingly) - and it has me inspired to make more time for art.

AND VERY EXCITINGLY -- the press around my work has lead to an invitation to be an artist in residence at Marquette University!!!  In February I'll (hopefully) be spending a few days doing a painting (in the library!) and talking about my work.  We've yet to finalize the contract, but it looks like we're on track for me saying to yes to another opportunity that has me asking "who me?"

More details, more artwork, and more blogging to come.