Saturday, July 31, 2010

As promised ... here are the tree speeches!

Tyler, Katlin and I wrote speeches for the tree planting ceremony. I was completely amazed at the depth of what Katlin and Tyler had to say. Check it out!

Tree Speech

By: Katlin Verley

Just a few years ago we had a tree with a memory in every root cut down here. The tree was here for longer than some of us have been alive, Every Sunday during Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall most of us remember coming and visiting Papa and Grandma's house and of course the tree was always there .

But it was necessary to cut down the tree for the house's sake and the rotting inside. Having such an empty yard feels a bit unsettling, for as far as I know most of us had some sort of connection to that tree.

Today were celebrating the planting of a new tree. This tree that we're planting symbolizes our family. The roots that grow in the soil will represent the strong Verley family. The trunk represents Papa and Grandma. The branches that grow off the trunk symbolize the different directions our lives go. And the leaves are our past and new family. And when the leaves blow off the tree, they get raked back up into a pile -- leaving us back together again.

We dedicate this tree to Raef, Grandma and Papa Verley. 

Starting now I proudly present the planting of our new family tree. Thank you Papa Verley, Grandma Verley and Raef for leaving such a large impression in our lives. We plant this tree here for you for an everlasting memory of the people who were most important to us and for starting our family and for coming to us a healer for our family means so much, because the past stay past and the present stays present we love you with all our hearts and cherish the moments we had together.

Now for Tyler's speech ...

Since this post is getting long, click here to view my speech, if you'd like. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

It's the Big Day

Ty and Lyss had fun helping transport the tree home!
The big day is here! The day of the tree planting party!

Today we are planting a Red Sunset Maple tree in honor of my grandparents and in memory of my nephew, Raef.

This is such a special party. For many reasons. First, that it was my 13-year-old niece's brainchild. Katlin took our idea of simply planting a tree to honor our grandparents ... to dedicating it to Raef ... to making it a family affair. She made all of the plans for the party. I've been honored to serve as her humble assistant!

She even made the call to my sister Kara to ask if it would be OK for us to dedicate the tree to Raef. She also worked with Kara to find the best date to have the party -- keeping in mind when the most family members would be around.

Turns out, the best day was today. Today just happens to be Kara's birthday. Hmmmmm....let me see here. So, we are planting a tree in memory of Raef on his mother's birthday. I love it! What a gift! It makes the day even more special!

Katlin also went as far as to write a speech talking about honoring our grandparents and Raef. It will bring tears to your eyes. Tyler jumped on the bandwagon and wrote one, too. I will share their speeches with you after the party. They are so beautifully written -- straight from the hearts of two amazing children!

Ta-Ta for now! I'm off to pick up Katlin and get this party started!!!

Written in honor of my beautiful and talented sister, Kara. Happy Birthday, sister! I love you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Life is Wacky

I say that with the utmost amount of love...I say it to be silly...I say it as a creative way of expressing that life is so beautifully and amazingly interesting. You never know what is going to happen. And you should never say, "never." And you never know what you might love about what you said you'd never do!

Tyler playing my Grandma's piano.
First of all, there was a point where I said I would "probably never" move back to Illinois. Then, before we moved back to Illinois, I said I didn't want to live in my Grandmother's house for reasons I've already written about.

But, here I in my Grandmother's house...and feeling very peaceful about it. We're settling in quite nicely.

At this point, I can't imagine making this move to Illinois without being here. I've come to realize that my heart feels really good in this house. It fills my soul to be here. It is a gift to be here. The memories that have flooded my mind over the past few weeks are incredible and comforting. It is a joy to share this house with my children and Paul.

Here's what my aunt (my Grandmother's daughter) had to say about us living here via email:
Grandma & Papa's house has always been the heart of our family. Where we could all go for fun times, to just sit and visit, for comfort, for a was what they made with their love. They made a house their home. And they filled it with a loving family.

Grandma & Papa will forever be the circle that is around all of our families. They will forever be in that house -- Papa tinkering in the garage or sitting in his chair. Grandma taking care of him, or playing the piano, or both of them sitting at the kitchen table. Our memories of them are in their home, and now your family will make memories there. That is as it should be, it was meant to be this way, God is richly blessing you. You deserve so much, Kristina, you are such a special Grand-daughter.
 As you can imagine, this had me in tears. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever read about my grandparents ... and about our family.

Well, this Friday our entire family is gathering to plant a tree here in honor of my grandparents and in dedication to my nephew Raef, who is now watching us from above. May the memories and the love continue for generations to come...

Written in honor of Ralph and Irene Verley and in memory of Raef Garrett Young...all my love.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reconnecting with ... The Godfather

It is so fun to be back in Illinois experiencing some of my childhood favorites and seeing family again! I had the distinct pleasure of reconnecting with my Godfather, Mike, last week. It's been quite a few years since I've seen him.

The neat thing about my Godfather is that he has been friends with my Grandparents for more than 55 years. They became neighbors in Iron Mountain, MI when he was a kid.

As a young adult, he moved out of Iron Mountain, and, so did my Grandparents. -- eventually, they both ended up here in Northern Illinois, just minutes from each other. That was simply an amazing coincidence ... IF you believe in that type of thing!

It's fun to talk to him, because he has lots of stories about when my grandparents were younger.

One of the best parts of our visit last week was the list of restaurants he brought to share with me! I have to say, my favorite though, was him reminding me of my Grandmother's favorite bakery. She loves their chocolate cake donuts (which just happen to be my favorite). I made sure the kids and I stopped there the next day to take in a little more nostalgia! Yum!!!

This may not seem like a big thing, but as many of my readers probably know, I am all about the little things in life. What a gift it was to see my Godfather again, to hear some great stories about my grandparents, and then to share the memories with Tyler and Alyssa by taking them to the bakery! It just fills my heart ... and my tummy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Habits, New Fun

I knew from before we moved in that things would be different for us while staying at my Grandma's. First, the house is smaller than biggie, though, it has 3 bedrooms, so everyone still gets their own room!

Plus, it has no dishwasher. Yep. No dishwasher. I was kind of dreading that, but, as it turns out, it's just fine. I really don't mind doing the dishes, and it brings back childhood memories of us all chipping in after family dinners to get them washed and dried and put away. Not only that, but I have found that Tyler and Alyssa LOVE washing dishes!

It's not something I let them do a lot at our Florida home -- mostly because the counters were taller and the sink was deeper, so it was more difficult for them to reach. Plus ... we had a dishwasher!!!

This activity has also led to them washing the dinner table and helping set it and clean up. They did a little bit of that at home, but they are really embracing it now! What fun!

The other neat thing I discovered is that Tyler loves to make ice! Yes, the refrigerator at my Grandma's is so old it does not have an ice maker. I thought that might be a bit of a chore, but as it turns out, it's a great chore for Tyler! Yippee!

We are enjoying so many interesting experiences as a result of living at my Grandmother's house. These are just a couple of the daily ones!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A bit of Nostalgia

Well, we've made the "temporary" move to Illinois. It has been very interesting, going back to the place I grew up, now that I have children of my own. While we anxiously wait for our home in Florida to sell so we can buy a new home, we are staying at my Grandmother's house.

As luck would have it, she vacated her house just weeks before we needed a place to stay in the Chicago area. She is now living with my aunt in Wyoming.

I'm so grateful she is with my aunt and has care 24/7, and I know it is the best place for her to be right now, but on the other side of that thought is amazement at how life goes sometimes. I moved to Florida 15 years ago...never really thought I'd move back. But, here I come, moving back, and there she goes. On almost every phone conversation I've had with my grandmother over the years, she always said she wished we didn't have to live so far apart. I did too. I missed her a lot.

My grandmother has always been a very big part of my life. We spent almost every Sunday at her house growing up, and I would stay with her and my grandfather for a week or two during the summers. I have SO many memories at their house. Throughout my childhood, their house was a very comfortable place for me. How fitting is it that it is available to me now when I need it? It's really too much for words.

The experience has been surreal so far. All the memories in the house, the yard, the neighborhood. Driving down the street. I feel like I am moving in slow motion. I know part of that is because I just uprooted myself and my kids and moved across the country, but the emotions associated with staying here are impossible to ignore. I feel sad, because I miss my grandparents, but grateful that their home is available. I am also grateful, because it throws me smack in the middle of all these childhood memories that I can share with Tyler and Alyssa.

One of my most sentimental memories is of feeding the animals in my Grandma's driveway. She put bread out for the birds every day. We'd tear up the bread, then go inside to the window and watch them eat. Tyler and Alyssa LOVE this activity! I let them do the feeding, then we wait and watch! Birds, squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks all graze on the bread! What fun! It tickles my funny bone to watch Tyler and Alyssa enjoy this activity!

 Written in honor of my Grandmother and in memory of my Papa. Thanks for the memories...