Tag Archives: memories

11 Years

Naoto and Kimberly wedding dance, 06/02/06, 11th anniversaryToday is our 11th anniversary. I was looking through our wedding album to find another picture to share with you (I feel like I have shared so many over the years!) and this one made me smile. Our first dance was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole. Naoto made me laugh the whole time. Eleven years later, he’s still making me laugh.

xo.

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Sending Sympathy

Saturn Press sympathy cards, letter press I’ve already sent five sympathy cards this year.

For a long time, I was really good about intending to send a sympathy card and then not following through with those good intentions. Then two weeks (or two months) after I’d learned of someone’s passing, I’d feel horrible that I never sent a card. My solution finally came to me a few years ago when I decided that I should always have a few sympathy cards on hand.

I know some people may disagree with this plan. They may say that they want to choose a personal card for the bereaved. They may say that they want to choose one that’s for the specific loss of a mother, or a sister, or a husband. I get that, and sometimes I feel that way too and I try to make it priority to get something special if I think it’s needed. But for the most part, I think the most important piece of a sympathy card is in the personal message that you write inside.

For awhile, I just used a package I bought at a card shop, but the cards felt a little bit cheap and flimsy. Now I always have two packages of Saturn Press cards on hand. Both are letterpressed on thick, gorgeous white paper with a deckled edge. The Love for Stars version has a comforting deep blue sky and yellow stars on it and a quote, “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” The Forest version simply shows a peaceful forest with a sunset. Both have simple messages inside and offer plenty of room for a personal note. I find the images and the heft of the cardstock very comforting and I hope my recipients feel the same way. At $19.90 for a box of ten, these are an amazing value for the quality, plus there’s that added bonus of supporting independent artists and the beautiful old art of letterpress. (I always shop for my Saturn Press cards through Cronin Cards. They offer a nice selection and free shipping did not sponsor this post.)

Another sympathy card that I really love, but isn’t offered in a box (in spite of my pleas) is this one by Positively Green. It was always my go-to when I was buying cards one-by-one. I love the simple image of the bird on the bench, and I especially love the James Joyce quote, “They lived and laughed and loved and left.” On the inside it says, “And the world will never be the same.” Isn’t that beautiful?

I’d love to hear if you have any favorite sympathy cards or stories about a special card you’ve received.

Along the same topic, this post about mourning stationery from the Letter Writers Alliance is very interesting!

 

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Presley-versary #9 

Presley sleeping in the sun, PAHIFCToday is Presley’s 9th anniversary as an Adami-Hasegawa! (You can read all about it here.) presley, PAHIFC presley in the bed, PAHIFC presley on her scratching box, PAHIFC IMG_5325 presley, PAHIFC Kimberly, Naoto, and presley, PAHIFCWe’ll be celebrating this afternoon with sunshine snoozes, a game of fetch, and a feast of tuna and (a tiny piece of) cheese.

Three cheers for Presley!

P.S. Presley got her own Instagram this year.

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I Am Big Bird

On Saturday, Karen, Naoto and I went to the Gene Siskel Film Center and watched I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story. Caroll Spinney is the man who has played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969.  I grew up watching Sesame Street and I’m extremely sentimental when it comes to my childhood, so when I learned about the movie, I was so excited to see it. Naoto was less excited, since he was robbed of a childhood with Sesame Street, but he came along willingly and didn’t regret it.

(Warning: possible spoilers to follow…at least as much as you can spoil a biography.) 

Even though the movie was mostly about Caroll Spinney, it was also very much about his wife, Debra, whom he met in his early Big Bird years after a divorce from his first wife and a very dark period in Spinney’s life. Debra is also his manager and very involved in the daily life if Big Bird. They seem like a match made in heaven…you could feel the love oozing out of the screen.

Some of my favorite parts of the movie were the old Sesame Street footage and interviews with the cast members of my childhood. Luis, Gordon, and Maria were familiar faces who helped to share the Spinney story. And it was awesome to see footage of Jim Henson, who hired Spinney after seeing him sort of fail at an audition. Because Jim Henson is no longer around, Spinney retold some of their conversations through his own sweetly drawn cartoons.

I also loved learning about the behind-the-scenes details of Big Bird in China. Apparently it was a grueling production because they had such a small staff. (The film was a huge undertaking for Public Broadcasting.) At one point, when Big Bird is floating on a raft in the water, Spinney recalls that if he had fallen in, the filming would have ended because Big Bird (the costume) would be ruined. Spinney and his wife had an instant love for Lisa Ouyang, the little girl who played Xiao Fu in the movie. At the end of the filming, they didn’t have an opportunity to say goodbye to her, making their reunion all these years later a sure tear-jerker.

It was chilling to learn that Big Bird had been invited by NASA to ride on the Challenger space shuttle. NASA believed Big Bird could draw in a younger audience and get them interested in science. But the Big Bird suit was too big for the shuttle and NASA asked a teacher (Christa McAuliffe) to go instead. Both Spinney and his wife got very emotional when they told the story of this close call. (I teared up too, in spite of reading about this fact beforehand.)

The movie really portrays Caroll Spinney as a complete person–you see his challenges and flaws as much as you see his success and contributions to his craft. I appreciate that in a biography, since we are all imperfect humans.

I highly recommend I Am Big Bird if you’re a fan of Sesame Street or the Muppets and Jim Henson. It was such a sweet walk down memory lane and has made me want to watch some old Sesame Street clips again. I came home and pulled out my copy of Sesame Street Unpaved and I’m re-reading it again. (And…I’m considering borrowing Big Bird in Japan from the library so I can compare notes with Big Bird’s trip.)

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

Mike the Telephone Man storyToday is my dad’s birthday. To celebrate, I’m sharing a story I wrote back in 1986 called Mike the Phone Man. I think we were finishing a segment on tall tales and we were assigned to write one of our own. I wrote about my dad, who was a telephone repair man. Here’s the story:

Once there was a telephone man. His name was Mike. One day something magical happened to him. Somebody wanted their phone fixed. And then one thousand more people called and he fixed them all at once. And then came pay day. Mike got one thousand dollars. And the next day he got called out to fix a line. And it was an eighty foot pole. And he climbed it in one second! And he got one thousand dollars again. And the next day he had to go fix another line. But the weather was very bad, But he walked and fixed it perfectly. And he got payed one thousand dollars. But the next day was Saturday and everybody went shopping that day but Mike went to the electric shop and bought a wire for Mrs. Jenken’s phone and it cost 12 dollars but of course he had it. When he went to fix Mrs. Jenken’s phone he had to go home for lunch. That night the magic went away and the next day he didn’t do so great but he was happy anyway. So he, his wife, and his two children lived happily ever after. THE END

Happy Birthday, Dad! Let’s celebrate with Portillo’s & Old Overholt! xo

(The story was written in second grade and, in case you’re wondering, I got an A in spite of the fact that I started every sentence with the word and.)

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Oh Tannenbaum 8: Inge-Glas Ornaments

Old World Christmas, Inge Glas ornaments(Oops, I fell off the blogging wagon last week. It’s still okay to post about Christmas stuff, right?)Old World Christmas, Inge Glas ornamentsAfter the pickle, I chose to buy an orange slice and an apple slice for my next ornament purchases. They both really pop on the tree with their glittery edges and bright colors. The apple came with a little story card that explains how the apple is a symbol of temptation in Christianity. The orange didn’t come with a story, but it always reminds me of getting the tiny oranges in our stockings as kids. Old World Christmas, Inge Glas ornamentsAnd a cigar–its burning end is my favorite detail, black and glittery. I purchased this ornament before I met Naoto but oddly enough one of our first dates involved a cigar bar in Greektown. We were the only non-old men in the place and it was a lot of fun. Old World Christmas, Inge Glas ornaments Old World Christmas, Inge Glas ornamentsMy parents added to my collection with a teapot and a ruby slipper.  I love the delicate little teapot and the bright red glittered shoe. Old World Christmas, Inge Glas ornamentsThe last Inge-Glas ornament I received was the champagne bottle–an engagement gift from my parents. Naoto and I have a lot of “First Christmas” ornaments, but this engagement ornament is my favorite. This year it’s front and center (along with Charlie Brown) on the tree.

Naoto is already asking when we are taking down the tree…but I’m not quite ready yet. I’m still enjoying the Christmas lights…it’s been so gloomy and cloudy here that it’s nice to have a little brightness and sparkle inside for a little bit longer.

For the other Oh Tannenbaum ornament posts, go here.

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Oh Tannenbaum 7: The Christmas Pickle

Old World Christmas, Inge Glas ornamentsDo you know about the Christmas pickle? A German tradition, a pickle ornament is the last ornament hung on the tree, disguised among the green branches and hidden by the other colorful ornaments. On Christmas morning when children wake up, they search for the pickle. The keen-eyed child who finds the pickle gets an extra gift from St. Nicholas. Isn’t that a fun tradition.

Once I learned about the pickle, I was obsessed with finding one for my own tree. Back then, they were hard to find…now I see pickle ornaments everywhere. Somehow, the search for the pickle led us to an Ace Hardware store where they sold Inge-Glas ornaments*. I walked into the store and found huge glass jars filled to the brim with these delicate ornaments–handmade blown-glass ornaments, many embellished with a dusting of glitter, all topped with a signature star. They were all so beautiful and so different than any of the ornaments I had ever seen. They were also expensive…for a college student anyway… But I had to have the pickle. So I bought it and I’ve treasured it ever since. And every year after that, I visited Ace Hardware on Black Friday to add to my collection. My parents added to my collection, too. Soon after, though, the Ace stopped selling the ornaments, so I only ended up with seven ornaments. (But I’ve recently found them on Amazon and here, so look out bank account!)

Since we got Presley, I’ve kept the ornaments off of the tree. Instead, I chose to display them in my china cabinet. But they always got forgotten. This year, I couldn’t resist…I hung all of them, except the pickle, on my tree. I have a lot of ornaments, and all of them are well-loved, but the Inge-Glas ornaments really stand out. They belong on the boughs, glittering among the lights. This week, I’ll share a bit about the others, too.

To see the other ornament stories from previous years, go here.

*When I bought my ornaments, they were known as Old World Christmas Ornaments. But Old World ornaments are now made in China. They are sold at a much lower price point, but what I found so compelling about my ornaments is the fact that they were still handmade in Germany, some using original molds from years ago. Inge-Glas ornaments are the ones to look for now, along with the star on top. (This article explains more, if you’re interested.)

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Stuffing the Stockings

Our stockings, handmade felt, Mahar Dry GoodsWhen I was little, Santa put a clementine and a toothbrush in our stockings every Christmas. I know we got other things but the clementine and the toothbrush are the things I remember. Isn’t it weird that Santa probably stressed about getting me a few nice things for my stocking and all I remember now are the clementine and the toothbrush?

Now, Naoto and I fill each other’s stockings. As we shop, we just drop our items into the stockings with promises not to peek until Christmas morning. The stockings are the first things we open on Christmas, before unwrapping gifts.

I already have a few things in Naoto’s stocking (left side). He’s very hard to shop for since he never wants anything. (It’s a blessing and a curse!) I always try to think of a mix of fun and practical things, with a heavy emphasis on food.

For my stocking (right side), I usually ask for chapstick and other consumables. Some of my favorite stocking stuffers have included Luxardo cherries, rubber stamps and zines. This year I added a few new zines and a postcard set to my wish list.

As for Presley’s stocking (middle)…we usually get her a catnip toy. So far, she’s gotten two branches from Mew Cat Toys Etsy shop. And she has three Yeowww! catnip toys (the banana, the cigar and the dynamite) that we bought at a local shop, Scratch N Sniff. She really digs all of them. It’s hard to put her gift in early though, because she tends to help herself to it before Christmas.

What are your family’s stocking traditions? Any good ideas for Naoto’s stocking? I need all the help I can get!

P.S. Our stockings are from the now closed Mahar Drygoods. Presley’s is from a big box store.

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Grandpa Litton

grandpa, grandma, mom & connieOn Friday, my grandfather passed away. He was eighty-three. When we went to see him earlier this month, we knew the time was limited. The touristy excursions were a chance for my dad and I to give my mom some time alone with him. Since Hamilton is such a small town, it was easy to pop in and out throughout the day.

My mom’s parents were divorced when she was very young. Grandpa remarried and lived in Hamilton for his entire life after the divorce. He and Sharon were married for more than fifty years, so clearly he found the perfect fit on his second go ’round with marriage.

We only saw him once or twice a year when he would visit us and when we would make the annual summer trip to Hamilton. At the end of each visit, he would always tear up when we all said goodbye. He was quiet and kind-hearted and until the end, always seemed so strong and full of life.

grandpa & sharonGrandpa was in a lot of pain while we were there, so it is somewhat comforting to know his suffering is over. Sharon was by his side during the last hours. A peaceful ending to a long life.

The picture at the top is from the 1950s: my grandpa after one of his baseball games holding my mom (left) and Aunt Connie (right) with my grandma in the background.

The second picture is my grandpa & Sharon, most likely from the 1960s.

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Road Trip to Hamilton, MO

roadtrip to Hamilton, MOOver the weekend, I took a road trip with my parents. We drove to visit my grandfather in Hamilton, Missouri, a town of 1800 people about an hour away from Kansas City. In between visits to the nursing home, my dad and I adventured about the town, which has a surprising amount to do for its size. roadtrip to Hamilton, MOHamilton is the home of JC Penney, the man who founded the department store by the same name in 1902. There’s a quaint little museum devoted to JC Penney in the local library and Penney’s childhood home sits in the center of town. Until the 1980s, there was a Penney’s store in Hamilton. Quilting is a huge business here, too. The Missouri Star Quilt Company (seen in the top photo) opened in 2008 and now it is widely known around the country as a great place to go for fabric and quilting supplies. I first heard about Missouri Star in this NBC Nightly News broadcast, so I was interested to go and check it out. Hamilton is only a few blocks long and there are seven quilt shops in town. It’s pretty amazing. (I’ll talk about both the museum and the quilt shops this week!) roadtrip to Hamilton, MO roadtrip to Hamilton, MOOf course I made time for mail! I wrote out postcards at a little bakery (Poppy’s) and at the nursing home.roadtrip to Hamilton, MOThe trip was bittersweet but I’m glad we went. It was good to see my grandpa and to experience the town he’s lived in almost his whole life.

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