Friday, May 31, 2013

Milestone - Graduation Day

I have no clue where Stella is in this photo.  I think over 500 kids walked for the graduation ceremony.  2/3 of Bud Walton arena, the UA basketball stadium, was completely full.

Sea of purple - FHS colors

My beautiful youngest sister, her very sweet man/partner/fiance Justin, and, the new love of my life, my nephew Izen.  His expression here is pretty awesome.  He did so well being surrounded by thousands of bored, screaming relatives and friends of the graduates.

That's Stella in the middle of the stage, just accepted her diploma.  What I failed to get a photo of was RIGHT after this when she briefly stopped in the middle of the stage and held her diploma up over her head like "Yeah!  I did it!"  And she did...this was the person named "Worst Case of Senioritis" by the entire senior class, after all.

The best part of the ceremony

The next night we threw a graduation party for her at this fantastic house that my dad rented for the week.  The big deck was perfect for hanging out, yelling down to visitors about where they could park, and grilling the food.  It was a perfect evening of family and beloved friends of all ages dropping by, eating, playing music & singing along, and celebrating my girl.  I should've been dead from exhaustion that night, but was energized by so much love and togetherness.  The entire Carr family, including the next generation, all came!  My ex, D., came with Django the dog and his guitar, much to everyone's delight.  Even Stella's friends remarked that it was a great party.  I was able to throw a party that pleased everyone from the babies to the was a perfect night. 

EVERYONE loved the cake most of all.  Ben from Little Bread Company outdid himself once again.  Inside was the most delicious butter cake with lemon curd & raspberry filling between the layers.  Heavenly!

This cake was HUGE and I only got one little piece.  That's how popular it was.

These three cuties have been friends since kindergarten.  Anna and Savannah are the closest thing to sisters that Stella has.

Ben & Hannah, the best bakers, bar-owners, and friends in the world.  I couldn't get enough of that baby either.

Henry insisted on helping Stella open her presents.  He's the cutest and Stella was very sweet and accommodating with him. 

Christina was standing next to me when I gave birth to Stella and I was so honored to return the favor three years ago when I was standing next to Christina when Henry was born. 

Henry's toes.  So cute.

I just love the big smile on Stella's face here.

Kelly's so cool. 

This formerly very shy girl surprised and delighted us when she got out her guitar and sang some songs for everyone.

My beloved Carr family and my sister Suzannah.  My heart overflowed with gratitude and happiness at having so many of my favorite people in one place.  

Stella and I have two and a half short months together before we pack up and drive to Colorado to move her into her dorm.  It's unbelievable to me, how quickly the time has passed.  New chapters, new beginnings, new challenges....I'll be writing about them all, trying to make the best use of time.  The past 18 years have been SO focused on raising Stella that I'm excited to think about investing energy into myself again. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One Month Ago...

My Stockpile of Blog Subjects is overflowing. The past month has been INSANEINTHEMEMBRANE to say the least (still using those tired 90s references, yup). In the past month I have been to Brazil and back, immediately upon return had to move to a new house (pretty much singlehandedly), the week after that I went to Memphis & Little Rock with a group of international teachers, arriving home the same day Stella graduated from high school. My entire family came into town, I hosted a big graduation party and then two days later was the volunteer coordinator for a big street festival. It didn't end there. The week after THAT I was in New York for three days, arriving home just in time to host a farewell dinner for the group of teachers. They departed the next day (last Saturday) and that night Stella and I went to the river for two days for our annual Memorial Day Weekend float trip, upon which I was alone in a kayak and got separated from the whole group, tipped twice, lost my shoes and a towel and sliced the bottom of my foot pretty badly. I returned home bruised and injured and then developed a horrific sore throat.

That brings us to today where I am a shell of a person. I'm still surrounded by boxes. I've been fighting off this virus and come home and go directly to sleep, despite big plans of unpacking and organizing. It's a crazy way to live. I'm incredibly frustrated and unhappy. I'm taking it out on Stella (who is not completely innocent, though...she's been pretty wrapped up in her own life and not around much to help). This is my way of saying HELP to the universe. HELP! I'm drowning and don't have much energy left for treading water. I did get around to uploading the last of my Brazil pictures, however.

Let's go back to beautiful Brazil and leave my sick, exhausted, miserable, black &  blue self behind for a moment:

Another view of my hotel room in Natal, Brazil.  This hotel was lovely.  I highly recommend Natal as a vacation spot in Brazil - gorgeous beach, friendly people.  SAFE (at least appeared to be). 

Terrible photo of me, but I asked my colleague to take at least one photo of me drinking from a coconut.  Fresh coconut juice is fantastic, by the way. 

Requisite Brazil photo - caipirinha with delicious shrimp bruschetta in the background.  Needless to say - the seafood there was incredible. 

The view from the hotel's hallway, looking out onto the beach. 

Open-aired hallway.  My room was just as the hallway turns to the right.

Building next to the hotel

And looking behind and next to us

I know I'm jumping around in time, with my posts and pictures. But this is the order from my camera. After Natal I went to Rio - which I wrote about last time. I loved Rio. It had the energy of NYC, in my experience. I loved staying in a hotel right in the middle of things, a block off Copacabana beach, within many bodegas, markets,and restaurants up and down the block. We visited an expensive, tony high school in Rio.  These next few photos are of the famous favelas of Rio, as viewed from the campus of this very wealthy high school:
Lush greenery and razor wires.

Through the chain link fence.

I encourage you to click on this photo and view it even larger.  The engineering that keeps these buildings from collapsing upon each other is a true feat...

I got into an interesting conversation with a local about the "favela tours" that I references in an earlier post.  This was the favela that the company took tourists into. 
You can see the edge of the high school's soccer field with this view in the background.  I wonder how often the rich kids attending school here think about the lives that are lived up on the hill outside their school.
Just peeking out from the trees. 
I wanted to include this photo of the sheer rock faces that make up the mountains surrounding Rio and the bay.  The geography around the city is breathtaking.  I was only able to include a few pictures from SugarLoaf Mountain, where we went the next day, before my camera battery died. 
Modernist public art
What are these balls??  Anyone?  I took this picture because I wanted someone to tell me. 

Impanema Beach

Sand castle extraordinaire!

Beach life.  That view would never get old.

The famous wavy patterned mosaic that makes up Copacabana beach

Can you see those amazing sand creations?

Here is the clearest view...but I liked the photos with the soccer game so I included those as well.

Look carefully at the sand creation on the left.  That, to me, is the essence of Brazil.  Big bottomed thong-wearers, Big Jesus, and a big hippie. 

The next day we went to Sugar Loaf Mountain to ride the cable car up to both stops. It was my favorite tourist thing I did in Rio.
Can you see those rock climbers?  It helps provide scale for how massive the rock faces are.

Through the dirty glass of the cable car.  You ride the cable cars first to one big mountain top, and then to an even higher one.  My two colleagues and I cracked open cold beers and watched the sun set from the higher peak.  My camera battery was dead so it is an image burned into my memory - probably the best memory I have from the trip. 

Rooftops of Rio

Cristo Redentor overlooking the city - we would go there the next day.

I do like how you can see the city below, shrouded in smog.

Here is where I leave Brazil and return to my crazy life in Arkansas.