What was he thinking?

I have generally avoided looking at this series of pictures by Deb taken in mid-August 2008, on a particularly painful night when it was clearly evident that life as we knew it for Max was going downhill, fast. But this one came up on the screensaver tonight and it captured me. Knowing the location and the direction he was facing, I know he's looking at nothing - well, the sky - but nothing else. What was he thinking? What was he feeling? Who might have been talking to him in words I'd never hear, as my heart wasn't able then to allow me. I'd give my right arm to be next to him for 10 minutes, so that I might ask the question I never did.



Neil mentioned Max's curls a couple of weeks ago. I've been thinking about them since... and I realized that this was during the good times so we didn't post much. But we see these pics everyday as they come up on our computer monitor's screensaver, so thought I'd share some favs. These were all taken during 2006, from Spring through Summer.


First Since Without

I forgot about these pictures. We had them taken in April 2009 by the inimitable Deb Schwedhelm. Our first since Max died. I hate to admit it, but I'm not much for taking "family" photos these days. We take tons of photos of the kids and all but it's weird taking them without Max. Sorta like a slap in the face reminding you of what's missing versus what's there. I know, it's all in my mind and a simple shift of attitude changes it from "what's missing" to "what's here" but sometimes attitude doesn't win out over the plain old truth that Max is no longer with us.

However, Nicky saved the day for us. Out of the blue, he started singing Ring of Fire. He actually did a pretty good job. Hasn't done it since. Never did it before this day. That's why he's standing in the picture above.


Easter Break

Another holiday. Another time to remember funny little things about Max, while watching Hannah and Nicky display some of those missing actions without even knowing it.

We were truly blessed this year to have Donna Ludwinski stay with us over the weekend. Donna's son, Erik, just passed away two months ago (NB) and their grace in handling his death is beyond inspiring. Donna was great therapy for us both, but I think even more so for Andy. I can't explain her to you. You have to read her blog about Erik's journey - about their family's journey - to even come close to seeing into her. Their spirituality, their belief in Jesus and eternal life, gives me such peace.
Donna flew out from upper Minnesota for Sam Hutchison's All-Star Party... perhaps better explained as Sam's Celebration of Life - Sam's battle ended four weeks ago. The Hutchison's and their friends and family did Sam right with an all-sports theme party. He was certainly smiling down from heaven with Erik and Max holding his hands.
Easter arrived and was happy and multi-colored for all of us. I mean, what's more Easter than fluffy blue bunny ears? The kids had a great time coloring their eggs as usual, although we were missing Mr. Blackfinger (Max). Somehow, he always colored his eggs with his hands - no spoons please - and his fingers would be blue-black for days. Nicky had a little of it going on but he freaked out and wanted no more of it!

Hannah has always used the proper technique of dipping using the little metal bendy thing that is always included in the Paas box. She was quite creative and patient this year and ended up with some splendid eggs.

The Easter Bunny naturally had the eggs hidden throughout the house when the kids came downstairs Sunday morning. This particular orange egg stayed well hidden right on top of Max. Nic finally spotted it.

Donna joined us in church Sunday morning and then we put her to work hiding plastic eggs with Andy at our bluff park. I think we had over 100 eggs for only two kids! It took longer to hide them than to find them. This is Donna and me at Powerhouse Park. (She's the one in the Minnesota sweatshirt.)Our Max sighting for the day was this red tailed hawk swooping past the bluff park carrying a bunny away for Easter dinner, presumably. In our Lion King mentality we thought this was Max's very funny way of saying "hi!" on Easter. He loved raptors, so this was perfect. In real life it looked like the bunny was hang gliding... well, kinda.

The kids had the week off so I took them up to Uncle Kevin's and Aunt Reba's house in Santa Cruz. (Andy had to work unfortunately, but I think he probably enjoyed Bache-ing it for a few days!)
Day one Rebecca and I took the kids to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Hannah's definitely our rollercoaster girl. She loves the crazy rides and doesn't care one bit about going in line by herself. She is SO easy! This is her in seat 10 on the big swing.

This cute little blonde kid with Hannah and Nic is cousin Kanan, my brother's grandson. Kanan is six month older than Nic, who in turn in six months older than cousin Katie. At some point in the family's future this will be great when we all get together. It's good to have cousin's your own age!
Hannah took Kanan on the kiddie coaster. They went around two times like that. So cute. It looked like so much fun, that timid Nic decided he was game for the ride. We went on and it was a small disaster. Nuf said...
Not to say that Nicky didn't enjoy some of the offerings! He's simply not Hannah.

Day two of the trip my brother and I took the kids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Wowsers. Our Birch aquarium is tiny! Hannah could've spent 12 hours in there exploring and examining everything. Me too. It is amazing.

On our last full day we headed north up Hwy 1 to check out the rugged coastline. So beautiful. We even saw otters in the waves! It was a very fun trip and one I thoroughly enjoyed with the kids. It's good to Live Life to the Max and I think we got that in this past week.