Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Very Memorial Day

There are 12 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild on my Mom's side of the family. I have the fun honor of being the guineapig, aka, the first grandchild. Because of the nature of our family, I am also a lot older than most of my cousins. 26 years older than the most recent addition and 13 years older than the closest one to my age outside of my own brothers. My youngest uncle is only 6 years older than me so you can see how things get really blended really fast. We laugh when we gather for family photos at weddings because usually the opposite family might have 8 or so standing there and we have over 2 dozen! I love it.

(5 people have been added since this photo almost 3 years ago!)

Yesterday was Memorial Day and I didn't celebrate with a traditional flowers on a grave sort of tribute. Rather, I packed up my 17 month old son and my mother and I headed North to the small town where I grew up to help my grandparents sort through some things for a move. But this Memorial Day will never be forgotten. As we unpacked boxes of handmade linens, doilies, dishes and photographs, my Gram and Granddad shared with us (my Aunt Bekka and her kids, my mom and her kid and grandkid) the stories of where things came from and why they were important. We learned how to tell who made what doily based on color, (always my Great Grandma), or not (Great-Great-Grandma Starkey) and who "tatted" as opposed to crocheted (Great-Great-Great Aunt Ida, who incidentally was also the woman we've heard the infamous story about her smoke alarm going off which turned out to be her door bell :) ). We laughed as we found a coffee cup belonging to my Great-Great Aunt JuJu that had a matching ash-try saucer. Coffee and cigs, apparently the breakfast of champions, or at least sweet Great Aunts. And we cried as we admired an elephant bank and single framed photo--all we have to remember my Great Grandmother's brother who died in a tragic accident as toddler. And then giggled some more as we found my Great Grandmother's infamous picture holding the neighbors cat. The story goes that a traveling photographer took it and thought having Virginia Rose (that's my Grandmother's mother's name) holding the neighbors cat would be cute... "Now, Virginia," he said, "You hold on tight to that cat and don't you let it go..." and when she did let it go? She had held it a little too tight because that cat was dead as a doornail.

And as I wandered out on the farm with my son and thought of all the great memories I had there growing up. I saw my cousin Brenna moving her bucket calves with our proud Granddad standing by and I remembered my own bucket calf that he taught me to care for. And as Granddad took us out on the golf cart to the edge of the pasture I remember my first taste of freedom and my parents would let us kids wander anywhere as long as we stayed in the fence. I just knew I was miles away from the farmhouse because everything is big and magical when you're a kid. And while I've grown up and realized that maybe not everything is quite so big, there's still a lot of magic to me on that farm. My earliest memories are of the house being built and my most fun memories involve that pasture and the cows and hanging out with my grandparents. Except for the time Gram put my Barbie underwear in the burn bin. That was not fun. :) Why couldn't she have just cleaned them out?! ;) Just kidding Grammie, incase you're reading this. And here in a few weeks my grandparents are going to move to to a new house. One that my son will probably know as theirs. And he'll go and remember playing in the yard and riding the golfcart and a number of other things I'm sure I can't even think of yet. And as we pulled away from the farm yesterday evening I saw a little mound of dirt in the pasture with a kid-built fort and a bunch of Tonka trucks paving their way through dirt roads. And I couldn't help but smile as my mom backed up the car for us to take a second look, because now it's time for another generation to remember that pasture and to love that land and make new memories--my younger cousins.
(Almost the Dolloff Girls, 2 more are marrying in this summer! )

The best part of being the oldest grandchild in my family is this, the memories. I have fond memories of all four of my still living grandparents and, are you ready for this? I vividly remember and had relationships with 4 great grandparents, a number of great-great aunts, one great great great (yes, that's 3!) aunt and there were even a couple great great grandparents still living when I was born. How awesome is that?! I can't get over it really. I'm so blessed. Because having a family history that rich is better than winning the lottery. It's getting to actually know your genelogical line so what when personality traits or faces show up two and three generations later, we know EXACTLY where they came from. Because we saw them get passed down. And for the generations to come who won't remember we have hope. A hope God promised to Abraham in Genesis 17:7, "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you." And one day I imagine we'll all get together in Heaven and hear these stories firsthand, although I'm sure they've gotten a little better through the years. :) And that was my Memorial Day. One that I will never forget.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I Wear Jewelry...

So last week on facebook I posted a question that earned a very interesting response. The simple question was, "Why do you wear jewelry?" While I anticipated an array of answers from "it makes me feel pretty" to "I just like it!" I did not anticipate this..."Why do YOU wear it?" And that got me thinking...good job Tabitha :).

You often see my designs and maybe some of you assume those are pretty much what I wear, which is to some point correct. But I started assessing my favorite accessories and asking myself that question, "why do I wear this?!"

While I wish I could go through every piece of my jewelry and take the time to really assess it, I simply have too much and you would be bored to tears because, as I've mentioned before, I definitely assign value to inanimate objects and therefore own far too many of them. Here's some of my most worn pieces as displayed above my dresser. I have a rule that I inadvertantly live by when it comes to accessories-if I can't see them, I don't wear them. So I've been through a number of display/art/holders for my jewelry and this is my current favorite...

But here are four of my favorite accessories that I wear most often...

First, my wedding ring. I guess that's a given but my husband honestly picked this out all by himself. We never went ring shopping, we never looked at rings online, he just went to Custom Goldworks in Loveland CO and had this custom made for me. Yes. He's awesome. One of the coolest things about Custom Goldworks is that they make all their rings from wax molds so they are forever one-of-a-kind as the mold is destroyed in the creation process. So, why do I wear this? Well obviously there's a lot of symbolism behind a wedding ring and i won't get into all of that. Besides being able to ward off creepers with a nice flash of the bling (don't pretend that you've ever done that...) I find my ring to be very useful in reminding me how much my husband does to make me feel loved. He went SO out of his way (and probably his budget) to get me this ring because he knew I would adore it. It makes me remember how much I adore him too.

The second thing I wear often is this necklace. It is one of my designs but not one that I've ever reproduced, although I could I guess...anyhow. I fell in love with this thick rolled chain when I picked it up at a thrift store years ago. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I was selling jewelry then. I didn't have anything to put on it then except a large pearl bauble so that's where it started. After I started dating my now husband, his sister Hannah gave me a skeleton key from her grandparents farm for Christmas and I added that little guy. And sometime in our first 3 years of marriage Caleb found the neat glass silhouette cabachon and gave it to me for...maybe my birthday? So those three pieces just seemed destined together. Sometimes I add on the large brass backplate when I want a little more bling and that came from the handles of a closet on our first house. So, that's the sentiments behind all of it, but truthfully I wear this necklace because I don't have to think about it. It's large enough to just slip over my head and looks great with anything from a button down to a dress to a tee shirt. I just feel like it's a chic statement piece that I'll forever have and love dearly.

The third thing I wear several times a week year round is my 29 cent scarf. It's the best. It's from my favorite thrift store and was a fabulous find when I was in college. I've worn it over my hair when working on large scale paintings, rolled it into a headband, tied it to my purse and of course worn it around my neck. It's just that piece that keeps on giving. I wear it because I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the color pallet in it. And there's something about those colors that make me happy so I love having them close by always.

Finally, my staple earrings, small pearl studs from my husband as a first year wedding anniversary gift. He did well. I've worn them nearly every day since. Consequently they've needed a few repairs and the backs don't match but hey, when they're in my ears, you never know! Why these? Being a stay at home mom, I honestly don't take a ton of time to plan through my outfits or really dress up on a daily basis. Keeping these guys in makes me feel like I've put a little extra effort into my daily look. Although now the secret's out. I haven't. :)

So...your turn! What's your favorites and why do you wear them?!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Love Letter from Italy

Hello all you sweet followers. I have very little excuse for my lack of writing other than the weather being nice, two weddings I'm quite excited about, and just it being that time of year when everything seems to get flat crazy. So if you have a moment to relax and enjoy something this week, enjoy this...a Love Letter from Italy. Tonight, in honor of my friend since forever's birthday (I'll let her decide to or not to reveal her age) I wanted to let her be the guest writer and share the real-life-love story she is currently living. It will make you smile and remember, or look forward to, your first steps of love AND for one lucky reader, there will be a souvenir from the story.... And with that, I leave you to our guest writer, Miss Jennifer Bergman....

Chris Worrell May 16 at 9:53am
oh jennifer bergman, how's life treatin you these days?

That was it: that’s how it started. That one Facebook message has taken me on a journey that I never believed possible. And it’s filled my life with such love that I never knew I could have. One year ago to the day from when I write this is when Chris and I reconnected. We had known each other in college-but only as acquaintances. We were both from small Kansas towns in the same league, but he was just enough older for me not to know him. So I was only around him for a brief period of time my freshman year of college since we didn’t actually go to the same school. After that time, I basically forgot about him- besides the occasional post I would see on Facebook.

When I got that message, I debated on whether or not I should respond. I didn’t really know what the point was, but at the same time, I thought it would be nice to catch up. Little did I know that Chris had contacted me from halfway around the world. He was currently deployed with the United States Army in Afghanistan. At first, our contact was merely in a friendship sort of way. But within a few weeks, I could tell that my feelings were starting to turn towards a deeper path. It was scary. Loving a soldier is difficult- but falling in love with one in the middle of a war 8000 miles away is terrifying.

I was amazed at how much access I had to Chris. We sent messages back and forth as often as we could- which ended up being every couple of days. Towards the end of his deployment, he had a bit more access to the Internet, and we got to see each other for the first time in 7 years. Although his computer access didn’t allow him to have sound, we could still see each other- which was amazing. Chris has the best smile- and the hottest dimples you’ve ever seen and every time I saw him smile, I fell a little bit further. (He will kill me if he finds out I’m talking about his dimples!!)

After 6 months, Chris left Afghanistan to go back to Italy, where he is still stationed. At first the only form of communication we had was phone calls. Which mean we had to buy phone cards. A LOT of phone cards. But eventually he got Internet which meant we could Skype, so we could both see AND hear each other. And then it was Christmas- and he had leave. And instead of going straight back to Kansas, he made a detour in Dallas. It wasn’t just 7 months of waiting for the moment to see each other. It was 7 years and what felt like a lifetime of waiting. That moment of seeing him at the airport for the first time was the most incredible moment of my life. All the nerves and worry and yearning and love were all wrapped up in that single second, when our eyes met. And we both just knew that everything was as it should be.

We had the opportunity to spend the holidays with our families- and then right before New Year’s Eve, I got to fly to Italy to spend two amazing weeks with Chris. From New Years Eve in Venice to spending time at his apartment in Vicenza, that trip was a dream come true. When I knew I was going to Italy, I knew I could find some treasures to bring back to the states with me- and the first person I thought of that could appreciate them as much as I did was my friend Jillian. Ever since my junior year of prom, I have been wearing Jillian’s jewelry. Her talent doesn’t surprised me, but it always impresses me. I love her innovative use of materials and above all, I love her passion and purpose. So when I found a store in Rome that had a plethora of baubles, stones and jewels, I went wild. I got a small bag of goodies to send back to Jillian, and felt so guilty not being able to bring more. She made a few pieces out of my favorite finds and I can’t wait to see them. To forever have something to wear from this incredible trip and to have it made by my dear friend is priceless to me.

My love story isn’t over yet. Chris still has about 2 years left in Italy. Until the day we can be together on the same continent, we use Skype, Facebook and phones to communicate. And although it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. He keeps me going. He reminds me to not focus on what we don’t have, and to focus on what we do. He loves me completely and unconditionally. He is my everything and my best friend. I am so grateful for him and so blessed to be able to share my life with him. And it still makes us laugh when we think about how all this started by one random message……

(Jillian here again) How great was that?! Here's what I designed for sweet Jennifer... I decided that if I wanted to wear jewelry to remember a trip it would need to be either something to wear every day or something that really jumped out and made a statement. Jennifer sent enough materials for both, so both is what I did! Take a look...

Here's the simple everyday necklace...

And then the statement piece.... (that cord took 4 hours, I'm not sure I'll ever do one again!)

And then mix and match earrings--these guys are vying for my all time favs...but they're hers!

And the mix and match bracelet! Which is super fun because....leave a comment and a similar styled one with glass beads from Jen's trip can be yours!!!! Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sandcastlejewelry and leave a comment on our profile photo too for a double entry! :) Good luck!