Today's post is going up a bit later than I originally planned. Had a lot to say, a lot of photos to sort through to find the right ones to tell my story. I hope you enjoy what I've put together to share today and perhaps you're able to take something away from it in some small way...
First, today's card. Switching gears to celebrate some of the important men in my life, so a more masculine styled project was in order. Stamps sets include Beyond Basic Borders (tree) and Mother (sentiments, proving that the set doesn't need to be used just in celebration of mothers!). Ripe Avocado Bitty Box Basics paper is used as a fun way to balance out the bottom of the card.
It uses the tree image from Beyond Basic Borders in a fun & unique way. I stamped it onto Ripe Avocado cardstock with Dark Chocolate ink. I then used our new EK Success scalloped circle punch to punch out the top portion of it. I stamped the tree a second time on my Vintage Cream cardstock, again in Dark Chocolate ink. I then was able to line up the scalloped circle on top of the Vintage Cream, lining up the tree images. The scalloped circle is adhered in place with foam tape for dimension.
The sentiment was stamped in Vintage Cream ink onto a strip of Ocean Tides cardstock. I thought this sentiment was just perfect for the people I decided to celebrate today. You'll see exactly what I mean when you read on below...
But first, I've been sharing a lot of photos from my early childhood the past few days. How about a few from the teenage years? Embarrassing as they may be!
Field hockey season, junior year. (I'm the second from the right)
Junior prom, pulling a double date with my friend Dawn.
A headshot taken by a friend during my senior year, in photography class. (Four years later and STILL bad hair!)
Senior prom with my double date partner once again, Dawn.
and last but not least, one more shot from my senior prom, with my dear, dear friend Elaine.
Now onto today's card recipients, otherwise known as my ongoing list of birthday blessings (in no particular order)...
It all started with a boy catching a garter...
and a girl catching a bouquet. Really, that's how we met. Just like a fairy tale. Except this doesn't necessarily have a simple happily ever after, it's my never-ending story of happiness.
(David & I shortly after we began dating, 1998)
How do you put into words the impact of meeting your soul mate has on your life? We instantly clicked. We were together every spare moment from the day we met at that wedding. We had so much in common. So many shared dreams for family and the future.
(David & I enjoying a perfect island afternoon, 1998)
Not to borrow a line from the movies, but he completed me. It was if the empty feeling that was deep inside had been filled. The constant search to find something that was "missing" from my life had ended. David has always been that thoughtful, romantic kind of guy that a girl dreams about meeting. Sweeping me off my feet. He's always taken the time to make sure I know how strongly he feels about me, how much love his heart holds. So many special surprises and memorable gifts. And poetry... one of my favorites...
Once in a while you get lucky
and the most beautiful woman looks your way.
You spend the evening dancing;
she takes your breath away.
Once in a while you get lucky
and you date that special girl.
You look forward to the next time you'll see her;
wish you could buy her diamonds & pearls.
Once in a while you get lucky
and you get that perfect roommate.
She brightens up those cloudy days;
makes you think what wonders await.
Once in a while you get lucky
and you get down on one knee.
Share a night of deep feelings
and continue on your journey.
Once in a while you get lucky
and you've married the greatest wife.
She brings out the best in you;
brings out the very best in life.
Once in a while you get lucky
and you're given the gift of life.
Mommy and Daddy take over
in place of just husband and wife.
One day you may get lucky
and one of these will happen to you.
I've had the privilege of having every one
and it's much more than any man is due.
(David & I in New York City, 2000)
Of course, I could go on for hours about how David has influenced my life. But I thought today I would just focus on two of my favorite moments. Moments that are practically frozen in time for me. I can remember every second, every detail, as if they were yesterday,
(exchanging rings at our wedding, August 7th, 1999)
I thought I would start with the dance.
Of course, every girl dreams of the perfect wedding. Pair this with the fact that I'm a perfectionist and, well, I'm sure you can envision how much planning went into the event. One thing I had always dreamed of was having an official elegant and polished dance to perform for *our* first dance on the big day. We took our song to a ballroom dance instructor and she designed a routine just for the two of us. We attended lessons every week faithfully, for months leading up to the wedding day. Many nights, we pushed the living room furniture against the walls and practiced even more. After hours upon hours of rehearsing, we finally felt ready.
I will never, ever, ever forget when David took my hand and the first notes of our song began floating through the air. It was a beautiful night for an outdoor wedding. The lights twinkled all around the white tent that sheltered our reception. Our friends & family gathered around the parquet dance floor anxiously awaiting what might happen in the next few moments. And then it began.
The carefully orchestrated movements, the music blending effortlessly with our steps, David swinging me out and then in. The dance had felt so special when we were rehearsing those weeks before the wedding, but this, THIS moment was so different, so magical. I can still remember the way all the layers of my dress swirled around my feet and the way David's cuff links caught the light just right when his arm was held overhead. And the way that his eyes sparkled, dazzled with the once in a lifetime magic we were experiencing. The routine felt so natural, such a part of us. Our guests seemed to disappear for just a few of those moments. That dance was like the official crossing. One path ending and a new path beginning with my new husband.
The second most influential moment is a bit predictable in a way, but I don't think anyone can argue quite how pivotal it really is.
(David & Owen in those first few moments)
I had seen David interact with some of his nieces & nephews during the year in which we dated. But I had never seen him with a baby. I had never really had any experience with a baby either, so we were both a bit apprehensive and nervous as we waited those last few weeks before Owen's birth. And then all of a sudden he was here. The labor & delivery seemed to have taken a lifetime, but now that he was here, it seemed like such a small price to pay for such a blessing to enter our lives. I was exhausted, and I dozed off shortly after delivery for a quick nap. I remember waking up, and before even opening my eyes, the quiet stillness of the room almost seemed out of place in comparison to the hustle & bustle that had transpired just a few short hours ago. As I slowly opened my eyes, there was David, holding Owen for the first time. The only sound was a quiet creaking of the rocking chair moving slowly back and forth, back and forth. Owen was tightly swaddled with his little knit hat on to keep him warm. David was comfortably reclined into the plush cushions of the chair. Owen was tucked into the crook of his arm with his hands acting as a protective hammock underneath the newly swaddled baby boy.
He was so comfortable with his new role. Like he was made for this. David was studying every detail of this new life he had helped bring into this world. Watching the rise and fall of his small chest. Owen's mouth opening and closing slightly with the rhythm. His eyelashes long and dark against his pink cheeks. In that moment I felt an all new type of love blossom inside of my heart. I fell in love with David all over again, entranced with this side of him that I had yet to see before that day. Watching him bond with our newborn son, in such a gentle and compassionate way made me realize just how lucky I was. How this family we were starting was going to be something special. It made me think about the fact that there was no one else on earth that I would want to experience this with.
David and I have gone on to have countless other moments that are etched in both of our memories. I am sure there are even more to come. David knows me better than anyone else and we have experienced so much. He has influenced every decision, every action. Because everything I do, I do for him, for our family. Thank you David, for being my partner, my best friend, my everything.
(Dad & I playing basketball, love the contrast of our heights, 1980)
A bit about my dad. He's tall. Really tall. When I was younger, I always thought of him as a giant of sorts. Someone that could save me from almost anything.
(playing ice hockey on our backyard pond, Christmas Day 1993)
He's got a fun-loving crazy side, which is my favorite thing about him. He'll try almost anything once. He's had an amazing array of hobbies that would put anybody else's list to shame. From dog sledding (yes, we had an entire team of dogs living at our house at one point) to gold panning. White water rafting, fur trapping, bear hunting, model airplane flying, antique tractor collecting, fly fishing, black powder rifle shooting, ice hockey, raquet ball, scuba diving, sailing, beer brewing, sap collecting & boiling for maple syrup, logging, duck hunting, fly tying, kayaking, need I go on? (You know, maybe that's where I get it from?) He was always one to be spontaneous, to make us laugh, to turn something ordinary into an adventure. That's my Dad.
(Dad, along with my bridesmaids, walking me to the aisle)
He's not one for words, so the single most influential moment that I will always treasure is my wedding day. David & I got married on my grandparents farm in Maine. It was an outdoor ceremony in August and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. I was so nervous when it suddenly became time to actually begin the main event. I had dressed & prepared in my grandparents house, so my dad came to the front door to collect me and make the short walk to the hillside aisle that had been created. He held my arm while my bridesmaids kept an eye on my dress & train.
(The moments before he gives me away)
The beginning of the grassy aisle, where I was supposed to enter on cue with the music, was hidden by a small grove of trees. My dad and I stood behind those trees as we waited for the rest of the wedding party to walk the aisle between the rows of crisp white folding chairs that held all of our guests. My arm was still tucked in his when he took his rough work-worn hand and put it over mine. I was in the process of breaking down mentally, on the verge of tears because of all the emotions I was feeling, my stomach in knots. And I think he sensed this. He bent over and begin quietly telling me things that he had never said before. Like he was proud of me. So incredibly proud to be walking me down the aisle. He knew I would be so happy. David was such a wonderful man. My dad told me that he loved me. That he was so happy to be there with me in that moment.
(the sweet little kiss he placed on my cheek before handing me to David)
And then we embarked on that walk. One slow step at a time (slow because it was all I could do to not trip over my dress!). And when we reached the front to where David was waiting, the sun was just beginning to set behind the hill. Then my dad prepared to hand me over to my soon-to-be husband. Before he let me go, he kissed me, his little girl, lightly on the cheek. My Dad turned slowly and went back to the aisle, taking a seat next to my mother. In that moment, for the first time in my life I felt confirmation of love from my dad, something I had never really experienced with him before in such a bold & direct way. I hadn't known it, but it is something I had been looking for all through high school, and now I had gotten it. It was influential with the relationship we would have in the future. Something I feel so lucky to have in my life. Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone that day, Dad, and putting into words the way you felt. I remember every word and replay them often in my head and will never, ever forget them.
#15: David Labrecque (a.k.a. Grampie)
(Grampie in his element, aboard his lobster boat, taking in the day's catch)
Some people in this world make you realize how it's the simple things that make life worth living. Like a good meal surrounded by family and friends. The power of a good laugh. Making a house a home. That person in my life is Grampie.
(peeking at Grampie from the outside in, during Christmas Eve celebrations)
I'll always remember Christmas Eves spent at my grandparent's house. When we walked up those front steps, he was always the one to open the door and give us a welcoming hug. The warmth that emanates form their house is a testament to not only the coziness of the little log cabin in the woods they have built, but the strong family ties that they hold so close. Just looking back on all those holidays, allows me to be transported back to all those feelings, most of all a sense of belonging, a sense of love.
(I'll always remember his laugh!)
Grampie loves to laugh, loves to poke fun, loves to joke around. His heavy Maine accent makes him even more endearing to me today, now that I have moved down south and can notice it prominently.
(the paper mache loon I made for him as a gift in grade school)
One thing he tries not to let show all the time though, is his sentimental side. This area is where he has probably influenced me most. I'm sure you're wondering exactly what the photo above is depicting. Believe it or not, it's a loon. For those of you that may not be familiar with some of the wildlife in Maine, loons are a bird that can be found in many of the lakes around the area. My grandfather loves them because of the beautiful calls they make, particularly at sunset. I really wanted to make him something special for Christmas when I was in elementary school, so in art class I created a paper-mache version of his favorite bird. Admittedly, it's quite... unique! In the camp they used to own, it sat on a specially constructed shelf for many years. Now it resides comfortably in their home year-round. The fact that he has hung onto that little paper-mache sculpture all these years means SO much to me. He taught me that family and the gifts they give, material or not, are more precious than gold.
#16: Wendell Plum (a.k.a. Grandpa)
(Grandpa, just the way I like to remember him)
A pipe hanging precariously from the corner of his mouth. Clothes that have various stains, tears & other signs of a hard days work. A canvas hat perched atop his head to protect his ears from the sun. This is how I like to remember my grandfather whenever I reflect on him.
(Grandpa & I standing in front of one of our summer projects, which I designed and he helped to execute. 1996)
He's super smart. Retired from the engineering field. He loves to learn, loves to research, loves to absorb. It's a challenge to ask him about something that he doesn't know the answer to. He's curious, enjoys figuring out how things work. He's always said "Never stop learning".
Through living his life in this way, he has taught me to do the same.
(Grandpa in his element, sailing in Casco Bay)
I love Grandpa in a soft, understated way. My bond with him is so special, so dear to my heart. You see, he is one of kind. There in no one else, anywhere, that comes close to the type of man he is. He's kind & generous, but doesn't want anyone to know it. He inspires me to be a better person. He's one of the most active, energetic men in his age group (which I will discreetly not disclose!). Full of life, ambition. He never takes life for granted; just grabs it by the horns and won't let go. Lives every day like it's the best day. ALL of these life lessons are something that I carry with me, in an imaginary pocket, keeping them safe and close at hand as reminders of what he has taught me. Little souvenirs from all of the long summer walks, the in depth conversations. Grandpa, I love you more than I can express in words and I want you to know how much you have impacted my life. I will hold onto everything you have taught me and make you proud, passing those lessons onto my children as well. You are one of my biggest role models.
Four important people today. Four long excerpts that you hopefully enjoyed reading. I don't tell these four men in my life often enough how special they are, or how much I love them. Sometimes we might think that they don't care, that men are trying to be unattached and not let feelings or emotions show. But that's not really the case. I challenge you to send a strong male figure in your life a card today. Tell them how you really feel. Remind them why you care about them so much. Reflect on your happiest memories with them. You don't need a holiday to do these types of things. Today is now, so why wait?