Saturday, April 23, 2011

A little road trip.

Justin and I had planned to go east of the mountains before learning of his grandpa's passing. Our trip was scheduled for the day after his grandpa passed. We decided to still go as there really wasn't much we could do at home and also as a result, his mom was able to come with us. Justin and I got up first thing that morning, went on a 5 mile run that decided it would like to murder both of our quads, thank you, then we hopped into the car for the 2.5 hour drive east (and yes, this logic of running hard and then sitting in the car made perfect sense at the time. Now as I'm writing this, or when we attempted, er, stumbled out of the car? Wow, we are idiots!) We had planned to go to Bailey's soccer game in Wenatchee (where the boys live with their mom) and made it there just in time.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW? Totally sunny and beautiful east of the mountains (as is typical). Was a great day for watching a soccer game and I even got some sun!

And another shot... Bailey is a little rockstar soccer player. It was so cool to see him in his element and play.

A (bad) picture of us but it's really the only one I got at the game. Note to self: perhaps investing in one pair of sunglasses wouldn't be a bad idea?? I literally have bought ZERO pairs of sunglasses since I moved to Seattle four years ago and I just lost my last pair from the four MILLION I had in Phoenix. So yes, investing in sunglasses: need to add to list. It is SOMETIMES sunny where I'm at.

After the game we headed to a local restaurant with the boys and Justin's mom. It was so cute and so good. Above- the soccer stud Bailey, and the other stud, Oliver.

Laughing at something- hey, they look like they like each other here!

Me, Justin, and his mom. WHOA sleeveless- crazy, right? Please don't be afraid of our white skin.

I ordered iced tea and thought that it was so cute... it came in a little carafe. I love stuff like that.

And beer bread. OHMYGOODNESS. Did I mention how good it was?

After lunch, we started to head back west, where we stopped in Leavenworth (HOLY SHIT, GORGEOUS TOWN). I've been here many times before but am always blown away by how beautiful it is at the base of the cascades. Justin and his mom lived here for many years (Justin graduated from Leavenworth high school and spent many of his adult years here too). I think as soon as we popped into town, my first question was "WHY? WHY OH WHY DO YOU LEAVE A PLACE SO QUAINT AND GORGEOUS?" Of course, all towns have it's pros and cons but I couldn't see the cons from being blinded by the mountains and the crisp mountain air. Such a different feeling in mountain towns.

Another shot of the mountains.

And how about one more? This time with snow. Justin DRAGGED me across the street to do what we had come to Leavenworth to do: taste chocolates. Ok, ok, it didn't take that much convincing to make me stop drooling over the natural beauty once I realized that we were headed towards CHOCOLATES. Justin's good friend owns a chocolate shop in Leavenworth (S'Chocolat- check it out) and they have absolutely to die for chocolates. I would not lie about this. No, no, no. I am way too serious about my chocolates...and wine, but that's a different post. Anyway, Justin's friend agreed to supply us with chocolates for the wedding so OF COURSE we needed to stop by not only to see him but to taste each and every chocolate available to make sure we had an idea of which chocolates we want to have at the wedding. We got our box of all chocolates, stopped at a couple of more stores in the cute little village, then headed home. That night, after Justin's mom left, we drank some wine and decided which chocolates we liked best (and that paired well with wine, though, really? That didn't matter... it was mostly based on which chocolates we liked best. Um, ALL, please!) All in all, it was a nice day trip (and wedding-productive!) and I think it helped us to get out of Seattle for a little while, enjoy some sun, visit with the boys, see the mountains, and of COURSE, eat chocolate. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

The circle of life.

One of the reasons that we had originally decided on getting married so soon (see our joint/wedding blog here, where we also briefly discussed when we are getting married) was so that Justin's grandpa would be able to make it. He has been pretty sick for a while now, ok, for the past ten years (I'm told). However, we were really hoping that he'd tough it out for another four months. Unfortunately he started to go down hill very rapidly at the end of April. We saw him one last time on the 17th of April but he passed away on the 21st of April, at night. We woke up the next morning to the news and spent that Friday with Justin's family. I obviously didn't know his grandpa very well, having only known him for a short while, but I knew him well enough to know that:

1) He was a man that had lived a very full life
2) He died surrounded by people that loved him
3) He was HILARIOUS (even in those last few days when we saw him- he still made us laugh with his wit)
4) His integrity, honesty, and general goodness for people and life will live on through many people, most importantly to me- his grandson, Justin, who radiates these qualities to everyone around him.  

Justin's grandpa was lucky enough to be able to have in-home care for the last part of his life so he died peacefully at home. Here are Justins mom (left), aunt, and Justin hanging out in grandpa's room before the service arrived to take the hospital bed away.

Justin and I. We spent the afternoon at Justin's grandparents house talking about his grandpa... there was some crying, some laughing, even some mimosas. It was very therapeutic, I think, for everyone there (and not just the mimosas).

Later that evening, Justin's mom, Justin and I drove to Seattle to eat sushi. It felt a little weird continuing to do "normal" things having the weight of death and mortality on our shoulders. But, life does go on and I think that us being out, having a drink, talking and nibbling on sushi was just another part of the healing process. (OH side note, while at sushi, we saw the most drunk person I have maybe ever seen in my whole life on the streets of Seattle from our window seat at the bar... he literally fell flat ON HIS FACE no less than five times. THEN, he was passed out drunk in the middle of the sidewalk. Someone obviously called the fireman and MIRACULOUSLY, he propped himself up against the wall to avoid getting taken away by them. How he possibly had a coherent conversation, I do not know. And literally 5 seconds after they turned the corner and left? He fell flat on his face again. It was really sort of sad... and it was only 5pm!)

Anyway, tangent over....

I don't know that I've ever really talked about it here but my first sort of touch of death was when I was 5 and my grandpa died. I don't really count that and I don't remember it a whole lot other than going to the hospital with him for chemo and seeing him at home when he was very sick. I also remember my mom telling me to go tell my 2 year old brother (who was in his crib) that my grandpa had passed. I remember telling my brother and saying "BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS" and my brother laughed and jumped up and down in his crib and I patted him on the head and played with him and did things that little girls and big sisters do. I ran back out as they were taking the body away and everyone was sad and as a 5 year old girl that thought that everyone lived forever and ever and ever (you know, until like THIRTY which was ANCIENT at the time), I just didn't understand it.

My next experience with death was truly more real. I was in college at Graceland, it was the end of February and I got a call from my mom that my uncle was very sick. He'd been very sick for most of my teenage years so this wasn't really abnormal. A few days later I was told that my uncle was flying in from California and everyone was at the hospital. A day or so later, he passed away. Tim and I drove from Graceland to Kansas City where we headed to Springfield, Missouri for the funeral (where my mom and her family grew up). My dad, my brother, Tim and I all stayed together in Springfield and, really, regardless of the reason we were there, it was really special. We played cards, we stayed up late, we laughed A LOT. I think there's something about dealing with death and dying that makes you realize that hey, life isn't so bad and everything becomes that much more funny because you realize that all the serious shit really isn't so serious. We went to the funeral and it was tough. It was the first time in my life I'd really seen a dead PERSON and felt a dead person and it was weird. I was pretty weirded out about it for a long time after the funeral. I guess part of my little 5 year old self hadn't completely gotten rid of its innocence and I still thought that mortality wouldn't ever happen or effect me. NEWS FLASH.

I guess why I'm sharing that is that all of MY experiences were sort of brought to the surface again as I was there for Justin as he was really dealing with death for the first time. I can totally relate to how he felt and it SUCKS. It makes you realize the importance of life, and really, the circle of life. Moments like these always help to put things into perspective and although after some time that perspective seems to fade a bit as "real" life takes over again, it's good to have for a little while- to hug your loved ones a little bit closer, to cherish all of the good things in life, and to truly enjoy each and every moment. That's what this ride of life is all about, right?

See Justin's grandpa's obituary here. He was a special man and will be truly missed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18.

The official end of busy season. Unfortunately for me, (and really, everyone that isn't a tax person), April started off by bringing my biggest client back into my life (oh, HI, again biggest client...can't wait to spend the next 2 months with you!) Which really means that April 18 really couldn't have meant less for me. Per the usual. Unless you're just a tax person, tax day really means nothing. OH, and for all of you people living in a box, yes, tax day was April 18 this year.

So, Monday night, the 18th, our firm went to our tax day celebration party. Most audit people (like me) left early because we all had to work the next day. I will say, though, I took part of the 19th off work, met a friend for coffee, worked out, cleaned house and just took it easy. Even though our busy season isn't truly over yet, at least it feels like we are definitely on the downside now.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

First race of the season.

My boy, OH, hey-o, my finance (what!? see here if you missed the story), used to be a major mountain bike racer before he started school over here years ago on the rainy side of the mountains at Bastyr to get his degree. He's continued to ride bikes but has since decided to road bike race and April 9 just happened to be his first race of the season (a crit, which I'm told is a criterium... and I've been told about 2,000 times what this means and I'm still a little unclear. I think it's sort of like a time trial? Or a means to get "ranked" for road racers?) Anyway, whatever it was, I didn't have to work on yet another Saturday (BIG DEAL!!) so I got to go.
Here he is waiting to sign in. He complained about this as he never had to do this mountain bike racing because he was a rockstar and someone always did it for him... since he's relatively new at road racing, he has to start at the bottom and work his way up....which is what the crit race is for (I think...) 

And getting ready. OH, did I mention? My stubborn, lovely man had been very sick all week with a fever, cold, cough and no voice. He woke up this morning with a high fever, sweats and generally felt like crap. BUT, he decided that the adrenaline would be enough to get him through the race. Let's just say we had differing opinions about him racing this day but I was the supportive girlfriend. I will say, though, that I did get to hear those special words, "Jenn, you might have been right." Oh, you don't say?

All decked out and ready to warm up.
And again. He doesn't road race for bud light (oh the memories of bud light years ago in the midwest...), I think that used to be one of his mountain biking sponsors.

And his number... all official. Everything made me sort of want to race road bikes. It was weird considering how much I HATED the dumb bike when I was restricted to it trying to get over my achilles injury and broken foot. But something about it made me want to get out there on a bike and kick those girls' butts. I KNOW. I couldn't believe I wanted to race bikes either. Who knows... maybe one day I'll just try it. 

On the track and warming up. I got to walk around and enjoy the non-rainy, beautiful morning.

And at the start line... ready to go... He's somewhere in there. It was a pack.

A view of the lake that I shot while walking around while he was warming up.

And one more with the space needle in the background. He did GREAT considering that he had over 100 degree fever and felt like crap. Not sure when his next race is but hopefully he won't be sick for that one. When he was done, we headed home as we had 4 teenage boys staying with us (Bailey and 3 friends). They came over to go to the sounders/mariners game and crashed at our place. So we made them all breakfast and heard funny stories about Bailey and then they were off to the game. We spent the rest of the weekend laying relatively low... which, at the tail end of busy season, is all I really wanted to do anyway. Wouldn't have had it any other way.