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Fit for a Queen

Remember this princess? (see Original Post here)


This week we have been sorting and cleaning, and I have gone through scores of kindergarten journals, and papers – and have had so many sweet memories.  Andra wrote about finding a rock that “lookid like a pes of meat” (looked like a piece of meat) and Grace wrote about getting in trouble for biting Andra, because Andra “called me an Ityeit in prescool” (called me an idiot in preschool).

We laughed, and we loved  all kinds of goodies from years past and then we took that sweet pink crown, and repurposed it to be more appropriate for a big girl.  You might even say we made it fit for a queen.

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The best laid plans

When we moved into our house, we started planning the front yard’s landscaping.  For me, it was planning a future – planning a backdrop to all the first day of school photos, the photos with friends, maybe even cocktail parties, receptions.  I envisioned the progress of seeing the plants grow, as a backdrop to the girls growing.

We picked rocks, we picked trees.   We planned flowers and bushes and planted them where we wanted them to grow.

Just after our first planting, things went missing.  Holes were dug.  And we realized that javelina and rabbits rule in the unfenced front porch area.  So I did research, and studied to find plants that would not only attract butterflies and hummingbirds to liven up my background, but would be resistant to wild things that want to eat them.  I ordered at will, and reordered the things no one ate – things likes catmint, and sage, oregano and thyme – I called them the hot and smelly garden plants, because they were xeriscape friendly.  They smelled good to us, but not the animals who we would cook as a main dish with the plants as seasonings.

We were on our way to the plan.  But then we had volunteers.  For those of you without a clever mother who married a wise farmer (without whom I would never know this term), a volunteer is

A plant that is growing from an unintentionally included seed, a seed that is shed or dropped by a previous crop.

There were unintentionally included seeds everywhere.  Something about roughing up sterile dirt, rocks and uninhabitable ground makes it workable – and volunteers were up everywhere.  Palo Verdes by the dozens, creosote, desert marigolds, brittle bush.  Plants that one of us loves (we don’t love the same ones, unfortunately) so depending on whether Phil or I do the weeding, the volunteers stay or go. 

Right now, our front porch looks lovely.  And as I look at it today, with yellow spring flowers blooming from any number of different volunteer plants, and the carefully selected purchased plants growing in behind them to bloom through summer and fall, the porch doesn’t look at all like I expected it to.  The trees aren’t as big as I thought they might be by now, but the flowers are much more showy and widespread than I could have imagined.  As a backdrop, while not what we originally planned, it is still lovely and a measure of our lives.

Lately, I think often about the path our lives take.  The ones we plan, and the one we grow into with the volunteers that pick us. It is a reminder that we don’t end up where we wanted to, much of the time.  Things don’t turn out how we expect.  People we planned on having forever leave before we are ready for them to.  I can’t see spring flowers without expecting to see Andra with her camera, taking photos to print for her walls, or edit on her ipod.  That makes me sad for the flowers, who are trying so hard to fill in the space on our front porch, getting ready for their close up.

It may, however, be those same flowers that are also trying to send us a message.  Even when your plans fall through, volunteers kick in to fill in and help along what you started.  There are still flowers blooming.  They aren’t the ones we planned on.  They don’t look like we expected.  But if you didn’t know what was missing, it would look like a pretty nice place.

This isn’t the life I planned on.  But if I didn’t know what was missing, it would look like a pretty nice place. 


Today, I caught some song lyrics I have heard a million times that I never really heard (this happens often to me these days and usually with poor results) but today it was where I was, in a hopeful and very grateful kind of way.  So a little Pearl Jam (not at all what you expected, huh?) that made me grateful for all the volunteers that grow in our yard (that’s you).

    Just Breathe.

     Yes, I understand that every life must end,
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, 
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,
     Some folks just have one, yeah, others, they’ve got none, 
     Stay with me,
     Let’s just breathe.

     Love you till I die,
     Meet you on the other side.

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These days, it seems like it has been long enough that we shouldn’t miss Andra as much as we do.  These days, it seems terribly strange that it doesn’t seem so strange anymore.  But we do, and it is.

Last week when we were on vacation in Seattle with my Mom and sisters, I noticed all of us doing something that make me think of Andra, and I thought to myself, “There is so much of her in each of us.”  Whether she got it from us, or we got it from her is irrelevant.  She is with us. We’re like her.

Friday we went to the cemetery with some of Andra’s friends.  We piled flowers on her grave, and we left love notes in the secret compartment we built in for love notes. And while I have debated posting a photo of the headstone, here is the shot that changed my mind.

Although faint, you can see the reflections of Hailey, Lily and Tiffany in the finish of the headstone. We didn’t plan it that way, but there they are. 

Not only is there some of Andra in each of us, but we are all a reflection of her goodness and love.

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Getting Over Perfect

My life isn’t turning out quite like I expected.  If you dropped 1997 me into today, I would be happy.  I would be grateful for the life I have.  I would still be in love with Phil.  I would love my house and job and I would be grateful for everyone in my life.  I would be beyond ecstatic to have this beautiful, wise and good hearted child who had grown in me, shared my heartbeat and made me better.

I would be heartbroked over losing parents, but I would understand it.  With time.

And taking the good with the bad, I could easily see how we got here.  What the sequence was.  What choices brought us this life.

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Making a Plan

When my Dad was first diagnosed with cancer, we talked about doing a “Live Like You’re Dying Tour” – a poor man’s version of the Bucket List, if you will.  But the reality was that he was quite concerned with being uncomfortable or away from his doctors, so we stayed pretty close to home.  I wondered at the time if it wasn’t better to do the “Live Like You’re Dying Tour” when all was well in your life.

A couple summers ago, when all was well in my life, I teased the girls that I was going to buy a woody station wagon and take them out of school for a year and we would just tour the country and I would home school them.  However, they weren’t entirely on board with that idea so I let someone else buy that beautiful station wagon dream.

I was sorry I missed both of those opportunities to plan something wonderful.

But in recent days planning is hard.  I struggle with it daily.  Planning anything, from  dinner to lessons to having to just about be anywhere but work or home is difficult.  Even harder, is planning to actually GO somewhere, not to mention somewhere out of state.  Somehow, we managed to travel quite a bit last year – but I packed the night before and was lucky to have most of what we needed.

This year, I am Making a Plan.  (deep booming voice)

Somewhere between a full out Live Like Your Dying tour and the way we live regularly (if there is such a thing) is where I hope to fall out.

So far, we have sent the dog to training, made additional dog training appointments, made a golf lesson and invited Levi to dinner.  We received the unbelievable gift of a piano, and we are planning piano lessons (thanks Bill and Rena!).  Grace is playing basketball and doing dance.  She’s selling girl scout cookies. Lots of plans. 

We bought tickets to the rodeo.  Made hotel reservations in Seattle for a girls weekend.  Scheduled a San Francisco Spring Break trip for Grace and I.  We won a trip to Texas (travel date TBD), we are talking about going to Hawaii and to Mom and Earl’s over the summer.  Plans, plans, plans.

Phil and I established a non profit called the Andra Heart Foundation, and just sent 315 Valentines to announce it.  I am working with lots of amazing people to do more cardiac screenings. So. Much. Planning.

It feels good.  Really good.  And I intend to execute my plan now whether anyone else is on board or not, while it still seems like a great idea to me.  And if I need a reminder of why, I refer to the wise gentleman George S. Patton:

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
George S. Patton

In 2012, I think a good plan is just what we need.

Sidebar:  What we don’t need in 2012 is a big desert deer for Captain Ahab Mr. MostlyPhillip.  Because he filled his tag Sunday.  Which frees him up to make some good plans of his own

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