Thursday, July 29, 2010

Elizabeth the Bride

It dawned on me the other day that I have never posted any of Elizabeth's bridal portrait pictures.  You know, from before her January wedding.  Yikes!

I know I'm her sister, but still, I was thrilled to be asked to do this.  I was also a liiiiittle nervous.  Bridal portraits carry a lot of pressure!  The hair, the makeup, getting into the dress....and then one go at it all to get it right!

I am not a Duke "fan" by any stretch, but anyone who even remotely appreciates an impressive photography location would do backflips to take photos around Duke Chapel.  And you can't just walk right up and do so, either (aside from tourist snapshots).  We were approached by several different Duke staffers during our time there to make sure that we were "clear" to be there - i.e., the wedding must be taking place there.  I kind of felt like a rock star.  Well, one who drives a Honda and doesn't have her own security...

Anyway. :)  Here are just a few of my favorites from that day, way back in November!

Watching her trying to squat in that giant dress was hilarious.

Wasn't she so pretty?

She has our grandfather's (and mother's) 'Beach' baby blues.  SO unfair...

This one is one of my favorites...

Not many girls wear blushers anymore.  I loved that she did.

As we were finishing up the sun was just perfectly over this building right next to the chapel.

I told her to give me a little attitude.  I grew up with her, I knew this was not a foreign concept. :)

Gorgeous archways at Duke Chapel.

Remember, even when you move to Texas.... There's No Place Like Home!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Heart Abe(s)

Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that I have a thing for Abraham Lincoln.  I always have.  I know all sorts of random trivia about him, love quotes that are attributed to him, have a huge "who would ever read that thing?" book about him on my coffee table.

And I REALLY love the Lincoln Memorial.  I've been there many many many times, but every time I go it's like I've never experienced it before.  I walk around every inch of it like it is brand new.  I can fill anyone that I'm with in on fun facts about the structure itself, I always go around and read all of the inscriptions on the walls, and I can stand there forever and stare at Abe in his big chair.  When I get to go at night, I cry.  Every time.

My love for Lincoln makes me generally refer to him like we are friends.  I just call him Abe.  Like I could just call him up on the phone and chat every now and then...

Which leads me to the following Facebook exchange with my cousin (who lives in DC and has always understood and appreciated my Lincoln obsession) a couple of days ago...

Me:  I'd love to plan a time to come see y'all soon.  I haven't been up there in a while and I am really in need of an Abe fix.

Him: Sure, but I'm confused...  Is Abe coming with you?  Come see us!

Oh, for crying out loud.  We have a dear friend named Abe.  I meant Lincoln, but my cousin didn't get that.  And now this is all on Facebook for everyone to read and be thrown off by...that I need an "Abe fix".  This stuff is how rumors get started...

But I heart the "real" Abe in my life, too!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Three Little Piggies turn FOUR!

There is NO WAY that I believe for a second that you girls are four years old today.  It just can't be true.

But, if it is, here is a little trip down memory lane to celebrate. :)

I thought getting all three of you into these chairs put me in the running for a Nobel Prize!

And then you were soon well on your way to standing and thinking about walking!

You LOVED to pull EVERY SINGLE THING out of the baskets under the changing table...

Strolling around the Clemmons neighborhood with you was my favorite. :)

It was SO hot this day.  And clearly not everyone was happy.

An attempt at a Christmas card turned into a candy break...

Your first KBP Christmas program.  You did SO well!

I adored these bulldog pjs....and you thought I was funny!

I've always loved how much you love each other...

And have always been such sweet sisters...

And now such sweet BIG sisters.

Oh my precious, darling, adorable girls.  Becca loves you SO much.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Sweet Smiths

Several weeks ago I had an opportunity to hang out with the Smiths again at Reynolda Gardens.  I took pictures of the older two, Rhodes and Hayes, two years ago.  We missed last year because their baby brother, James Kenyon, had just arrived and they were a busy busy family.  But this time I got all three!  (I will spare you my oohing and ahhing over little boys.  We have covered that plenty by now...)

Rhodes is a rock star big brother.  He is so careful with James Kenyon and is sweet, polite and does whatever he's asked without question.  And he runs around singing the theme from "Star Wars" which just makes him even cooler.

Hayes is the family comic relief.  It takes about 2 minutes around him to figure that out.  He's ALL over the place and a funny funny little boy who can make your day with his laugh.  (This Southern girl LOVES a little Southern boy in a monogrammed John-John. Be still my heart...)

And James Kenyon, well, he is one of the prettiest babies I have ever laid eyes on.  He's got the most beautiful skin tone, a perfect round little mouth, and eyes that could knock you over from across a room...

Apparently Daddy's joke wasn't a total crowd pleaser...

This one must have been much funnier. :)

When asked to smile, this is what Hayes did over and over again.  Hilarious.

Looooove Rhodes' freckles.  LOVE.

Fun at the fountain to end our adventure meant that 3 boys dressed in white were soaked by the time we were done.  Oh well!  That's just what happens!

Seriously.  He is GORGEOUS.

Thanks, Sarah and Carter, for more fun with your family!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Two weeks ago I was on my lunch break and had headed home for the hour, just like so many other days. I was unloading my dishwasher when I heard my mom come through my front door. This wasn’t unusual, to have her stop in while out and about because she saw my car parked outside. I asked what she was up to, and she didn’t answer me. She quickly came through my den and got right in front of me and said “Honey, I have some bad news. Bill Laney died.”

My grandfather.

It was one of those moments when I felt like I all of a sudden didn’t have knees. I completely crumpled and only because I was able to grab onto the door frame did I not crash to the ground in my dining room. I was sobbing and shaking and couldn’t catch my breath all at one time. The room went black for a second and I hoped that I would wake up and realize it was a bad dream. But this was really happening.

Bill suffered what was either a massive heart attack or a blood clot from knee surgery that he had just a few months ago. No one saw a thing coming. Whatever it was, it is believed that it took him instantly. There is such blessing in that, even though it leaves the people still here shocked and breathless. My other 3 grandparents all suffered at the end and there wasn’t anything fair about that to them, even if it did ultimately prepare us a little more in saying goodbye.

My grandmother, Granny, married Bill in 1971, well before my time.  They were truly the loves of each others lives. He became an instant father to my dad and my uncle, and he became one heck of a proud grandfather in 1981 when I came along and then again in 1984 when Elizabeth was born. I am not tooting my horn or Elizabeth’s when I say that his world revolved around us. It’s just the truth. He loved my dad and Allen just like the sons that they were, but he had never “had kids” from the minute they were born and gotten to watch them grow up from the start. So we were his kids, and he was determined to play a huge part in our lives.

I practically lived at Bill (I think at one point he was “Grandpa Bill” but it eventually was just Bill) and Granny’s starting when I was very very young. I could go see my mom’s parents and be one of 6 grandkids (& 7 once Elizabeth was born) running around or go to Granny and Bill’s and be the star of the show. Who wouldn’t have gone to their house? When Elizabeth was born I kept it right up and spent nearly every weekend with them. She came along occasionally as she got a little older, but sometimes I was still able to keep it as my own little getaway.

Granny passed away in February of 1987 after a hard fought battle with ovarian cancer. She was only 51. I was still quite young, but fortunately had spent so much time with her that I remember her very well. Time spent with Bill didn’t stop – not even close, he needed us now more than ever. Someone at his service last weekend told me that I was his therapy after Granny died, the reason he kept getting out of bed every day. I’m not sure I have ever received such a compliment.

A few years later Bill remarried, and for reasons that I don’t think anyone will ever understand, his new wife slowly pulled him out of all of our lives. We weren’t ‘blood relatives’ of his, and she didn’t see the need for us to still be a part of his life, or him a part of ours. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. He had been my grandfather from the day I was born and at 12 years old or so, he was being taken away. After that Christmases were missing a trip to his house, birthday phone calls were quick and in secret, and mail from us had to be sent to the homes of his siblings in Lenoir to then be quietly delivered to him by them. I’ll never know or grasp the details of why it had to be this way, but that’s just how it was. And it was and is heartbreaking.

But he never missed the big things. He snuck to Winston for my high school graduation as well as Elizabeth’s. His tried and true Carolina blue Tarheel self might have been the proudest person in the room when each of us graduated from N.C. State. He was even able to make it to Elizabeth & Nick’s wedding this past January. For such memories we are forever grateful.

In the short weeks since Bill passed away, it has suddenly hit me from every angle what I “got” from Bill, and that is my love of children. And the impact of making them feel like the most important people on the planet.

The laundry can wait. The bills can wait. Sit on the floor and play a game with your little boy. Drop everything and go sit in the sandbox for a while with your daughter. Take your grandson on a tractor ride. Head to the mall to throw pennies in the fountain with your niece. Not one of these kids will remember if the beds were made or the car was clean, but they will ALL remember feeling like your world revolved around them.

And they will undoubtedly remember it when they are older and look back. It’s something from Bill that I will always have, and I know Elizabeth will too – the idea that someone thought that we hung the moon as we were growing up. I can remember wanting to go to Carowinds when I was little because there was a Smurf “show” in town – with the little mushroom houses and everything – and I just had to see it. So Bill took me. I can remember occasionally watching him stir up a bourbon & ginger (his drink of choice) and telling him I wanted a ‘drink from two bottles’ too, so he quickly mixed me up a orange juice & Sprite. I still drink them. I can remember watching Shirley Temple’s “Little Princess” with him what had to have been at least 100 times and him sitting all the way through it every time simply because I loved it so much. I can remember being in college and still getting those slightly oversized greeting cards in the mail that said things like “For My Granddaughter” or “Happy Birthday to a Special Girl” on the front in any array of sparkly, glittery colors. And I still have them all. And they were usually signed in green or red ink, which was just always so “Bill”.

I can remember it all. I always will.
Bill, I will miss you terribly. But I will never ever forget you or all that you mean to me. I love you.