WARNING: A lengthy and picture-heavy post ahead!
Wow! Have we been busy!! Brien, Lily and I were moving practically non-stop all weekend. Even when we got home, things were still busy busy busy! And now, I'm beat. :oP I do however want to give a quick racap of last Friday, as I know that is what everyone is dying to hear about.
Friday actually began Thursday evening. We did indeed get a later start than we wanted, but decided to take it easy and not stress about that. We picked up smoothies for dinner and hit the road. We have discovered taking Route 5 is a scenic and peaceful trip to I295. There had been intermittent rain and misting throughout the evening and just as we neared 295, Brien spotted this rainbow. It was so bright and so bold he was able to snap no fewer than five or six pictures from our moving car, using a digital camera!
I took this rainbow as a sign we were making the right choice in heading to Blacksburg and that Hannah approved of our plans for the next day.
If you look closely, you can see this is actually a double rainbow. The second is very faint and to the right of the first. The sky was breathtakingly beautiful. We had the rainbows on Brien's side and a lovely golden sky on mine. I don't mean the sky was yellowish orange, I mean it was golden. The sky looked as if someone had taken a gold coin and polished it and then reflected the sun's light off it. It was such a beautiful omen.
Friday morning dawned cool and fresh. I awoke with a sense of peace and well-being and wished the Monk a happy birthday. I put Lil's hair up in little dog-ears for the first time and was stunned by how much she reminded me of Hannah. B, Lil and I loaded up and were ready to roll by 8:00. We enjoyed a nice Hardee's breakfast and were at the Cascades parking lot by 9:00.
We met Nana and Pop and Grandma and Bill there. We were all wearing glitz, glam and items that reminded us of Han and/or items she would have approved of.
I stopped to pick two bunches of late-blooming sweetpeas to put in my hair--one for me and one for the Monk. She absolutely loved having them in her hair, decorating it and making it even more beautiful. :o) Lily wanted to wear a bunch at first and then decided otherwise, so both bunches made it into my 'do. I've saved them both, pressing them and drying them as a momento of the day.
Bill and I walked a bit ahead as we started out (Lil insisted she was going to walk and then insisted on picking up every rock she could get her hot little hands on) so I turned back to snap a photo. Grandma wore pink and her t-shirt had beautiful butterflies embroidered on it. Pop wore Hokies duds and Mardis Gras beads, as did Nana, Brien and Grandma. Lil took turns wearing all the different "nesslaces" that were available. :o)
We all assumed Lil was grabbing those handfuls of rocks to throw off the first bridge, which we were quickly approaching. At one point, she tried to pick up a rather large rock that was stuck in the earth. Of course, it didn't budge, so she moved on to an even bigger rock! LOL! Finally, she found a rock that was large and (we all assumed) would give her a big splash.
Lil came marching across the bridge, rock in hand, set it down and proceeded to climb right on top of it! Imagine our shock! :o)
She stood on that rock and threw in all her stones, went back for another handful and then was finished.
So, she picked up her rock to carry along to another location! :oP
However, when one is as peanutty and small as Lil, a rock gets heavy fairly quickly and before we knew it, we were passing the stone back and forth among the adults. You see, we just knew if we were to toss the rock and try to pass another off as the same rock she would know. Lily's pretty savvy that way...:oP
Brien and I also knew we wanted to bring some rocks home for Han's garden and this one seemed a good choice since it was Lil selected.
The big girl didn't make it too much further before she was in the backpack heading up the trail. She did an excellent job making it as far as she did. What a little trooper she was.
B was in possession of the rock by the time we reached the second bridge (about a mile up the trail--only one mile to go!). He set it down and promptly climbed on top of it. :oP While determining I needed to get a photo of him being his usual goofy self (did anyone see the Halloween post from last year?!?), I got lucky and Grandma stepped up for a photo as well. You can see her beautiful butterfly top and new walking stick in this photo.
You see, Grandma had a bit of a mishap on the way up and her walking stick wound up broken. It was a special stick, having been made for her by Grandpa in the early 1980's. He had taken a nice, sturdy stick, peeled off the bark, sanded it and varnished it and given it to Grandma. My heart broke for her when that stick snapped. The rest of us sprang into action, determined to find a new walking stick for Grandma. Nana was walking along and this one looked as if it had just been set along the side of the trail awaiting Grandma's arrival. Nana decided Hannah must have left it for her to find for Grandma and Grandma now calls it her "Hannah walking stick".
At one point, I walked on ahead of everyone and found myself talking to the Monkey. I feel her so keenly here, seeing her in everything. As I was wishing her a happy birthday, and realizing she was having her best birthday ever, being the center of attention she loves to be, I had a sudden image of her with a canister of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting in her left hand and a spoon in her right. I could see her eating that frosting and laughing as she did so. You see, Han loved to look at cakes and find the most beautiful ones she could, but she didn't much care for cake. She did however love frosting so I could just see her eating it straight from the tub! :oP
This was the exact spot I had that thought/image pop into my head.
This of course, was my first view of the falls. The water level is sadly low, yet the falls continue to be gorgeous.
As it was a weekday, there were very few people save for our party on the trail and at the falls. We were able to sit and enjoy the loud (who knew water could be so loud?!?) beauty and peacefulness of the Cascades. I thought this picture of Nana and Pop was SO sweet. :o)
Lil lost one of her dog-ears on the way up but was still pretty darn cute. :oP
Great Grandpa Bill picked a flower to share with Lil as she stood on the bench on which he was seated. (An aside: Lil is in LOVE with Great Grandpa, following him around, calling for him if she can't find him!)
Great Grandpa gives Lily another flower.
Lil shares this flower with Nana.
While the rest of the family stood on the observation deck, I headed down to the lower deck to get a couple of photos of the falls from that angle. I looked back up and caught Lil with this excited expression on her face. She LOVES to play peek-a-boo with you while poking her head between posts, bars, etc.
My view of my family: Grandma, Bill, Lil, Brien, Nana and Pop. What a great crew of wonderful folks to visit Han with us.
Lil was popped in the Mei Tai for the trip down the mountain and was promptly asleep. Nan and I walked down together, talking as we went. We discussed so many things, but one that is near and dear to me is my desire to have another baby. I know it is MUCH too soon and I wouldn't want to for another couple of years, but I don't want Lily to be an only child. In fact, I was dying for another baby before Han died, so it doesn't seem like a sudden decision for me at all.
We had a lovely picnic at the raccoon "foot paw print" table and before I knew it, it was time to head back to town. When we reached Mom's house, she had arrived and we visited while Lil did her darnedest not to nap (she met with success...). I had been told I needed to go to ODB after 3:00 to pick up something that had been ordered for me. That was all I was told.
Well, imagine my surprise, delight and shock when I discovered Tib and Mel had ordered not only a cake, but also a loaf of my favorite Portuguese sweet bread, an order of beautiful daisy cookies and three of my favorite oat bars. Oh. My. Goodness! I was completely overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity!!
The cake itself was perfect. It was a beautiful little carrot cake with sweet little flowers decorating the top. I know it is difficult to see, but there was also some sort of sparkly sugar dusted on the top. :o) I can honestly say Han would most definitely have approved! :o)
We loaded up the cake, called Macado's (YUM!) and were on our way to the Duck Pond. Imagine my delight when so many of my family appeared!!
Here Kailey and Lil climb on the rails for a better view. Kailey is my cousin Kelley's little step-daughter.
Karey came baring balloons and a self-modified Hokies shirt. You should have seen the sparkles on it! :o)
Liz came in her boa and had even worn it for part of the day at school. I'm sure her fifth graders just loved it! ;oP
Lois had a little turtle pin on her shoulder.
In addition to Kelley, Kailey, Karey, Liz and Lois, Norma, Kelley's husband Cory and baby Lane, Bruce, Toby, Brandon, Nana, Pop, Grandma, and Mom were all there.
Everyone came and brought balloons with them. We passed out balloons and released them all together.
Ah, the balloon crew (minus me).
And, the balloon crew (minus Karey). I'm modeling the little fancy Hannah fairy skirt Nana and Pop picked up for Lily.
There they go, against a gray, cloudy sky. I confess to having been a little distressed Hannah's evening party wasn't experiencing such nice weather. In fact, no sooner had we released the balloons, than it began to mist and rain. We had to move our picnic to the gazebo.
Before ten minutes had passed, there was a rainbow greeting us. It would seem Han approved of the balloons we sent her. :o)
I know it is difficult to see, but the rainbow arches up from the left to the upper right between the trees.
Here is another view of the rainbow arching over the trees.
As suddenly as the rainbow had appeared, the rain stopped and the sun came out in earnest. I honestly believe our Monkey sent us a sign and then when we had received it, it was time for nicer weather.
We picnicked on the floor of the gazebo, as there are no tables inside. Lil had a field day, eating a hot dog, chips, dip and pickles. :o) Look at that face!
Most of my family stayed until we were finished and Liz even had cake with us while Norma and Lois kept us company. Okay, Norma wound up on Lily patrol while the rest of us ate. One of my favorite things about being with family is the way everyone looks after the kids without ever needing to be asked. Someone always has the kiddos in sight.
Lil was a filthy mes by the time the evening was done! She had a bath and bed, B and I read our HP chapter and we were done for as well.
It was a beautiful day full of surprises and sparklies all around. I know this sounds odd, but I feel Han with me. I know she is with me and I'm comforted by her presence. I had such fun celebrating her and being with her Friday. I had a wonderful time being with family and friends and hope to do this every year. How fun to have a fancy, sparkly day once a year!
I have been a little sad the past two days, rather like post Christmas let-down. I miss Han so much and driving home today, in a way it felt as if we were leaving her. Yes, she's always with me and I feel her, yet, she's such a part of Blacksburg and the Cascades. How could she not be a part of something so beautifully perfect?
1. There was the most beautiful dew-encrusted spider web this morning in Mom's front yard.
2. Breakfast at Cracker Barrel with Mom. I'm such a southern cookin' girl at heart. I had the biscuits with sawmill gravy and bacon. Mmmmmmmm.
3. Both scenic overlooks on Afton Mountain. What a view!
4. The gorgeous fog enshrouding everything this morning.
5. My kitchen is clean clean clean!!
6. We had dinner this evening. Real, honest to goodness dinner that we cooked!
7. Lil's dog-ears--they are SO cute. :o)
8. NPR and "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" and "Car Talk". B and I laughed ourselves silly for two hours. :oD
9. All the sparkly days that were held in Hannah's honor Friday. Thank you ALL so very very much!! :o)
1. Leaving Hannah. Or, more to the point, this was the first time I felt as if I were leaving her and was a bit maudlin for parts of the trip home.
2. Family dinner. We had steak (Han's fave) with a grilled asparagus (which Han also loved) and red onion salad. It is always hard to do something without the Monkey for the first time.
Again, to those of you who helped us celebrate Han Friday, thank you thank you thank you!! I have read all your comments and tried to get to all your blogs, although, I'm sure there are those I missed, and those B has yet to moderate.
I realized I didn't leave you an email addy to send pics to it's: email@example.com. Please feel free to send me your best and/or let me know if I have permission to lift photos from your blog. I want to share your generosity and kindness with the world! :o)
I just looked at the clock and realized I've been typing for over an hour! Holy moly! I'm going to try and get Saturday's adventures posted tomorrow. Again, thank you all so very very much for EVERYTHING!! :o)