We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Today was a good day"...

                That is what Autumn just said to me, as we waited for Cody to go say goodnight to Mama, just moments ago...Tonio has already fallen into a fitful sleep...he played hard today!
                After the Relay for Life, and the love poured upon us, I think we all slept well - for me, it was my first 8 hour night of sleep - you know, I tried to remember how long it's been, but could not.  Tonio slept until nearly 11 a.m., which is the latest he has ever slept!!  When he woke up, we walked up to Jerry Bob's (Let's Eat!) and had breakfast at the crack of noon...we sat next to Dawn and Sean Ball and their sons, Alec and Nathan, good friends of Cody and big supporters last night at the Relay for Life!  Dawn, I've kept your secret!  Jerry Bob's...one of those hole in the wall places that Kim absolutely adored!!  She loved the hash browns!  I think our favorite Jerry Bob's was over on Prince and Campbell, where'd we go following Tonio's soccer games over that way.

               It was a day to relax...we spent it at Purple Heart Park...after our breakfast at Jerry Bob's, to celebrate Kim and Rashon's son, Micah's, 2nd birthday (Angie's youngest daugher and RN on Kimmy's floor at St. Joe's).  I am so thankful for Kim and the love and care she gave to Kimmy while on her floor at St. Joseph's!!  And she did such a great job putting together some great food and fun for Micah's birthday! 
             There was a jumping castle for the bambini:
                               Breanna, Lexy and Autumn play with two other little girls on the jumping castle slide.

Tonio and Breanna prepare to slide down together, with Bryson waiting on the side...
And then, the pinata ceremonies began!  They had a giant Elmo for a pinata!  No wonder the kids wanted to hit it so hard!

Bryson gets ready to take his swings...

                                                               Tonio whacks Elmo!
                                                             Followed by Lexy...
 And sweet, little Breanna...well, she literally took Elmo's head off!  Sending a cascade of candy onto the playground, followed by a mad scramble for the flow of candy hitting the ground!!!

                    Soon, Elmo burst onto the scene!  Much to the delight of Micah, who ran after Elmo to catch a hug.  Rashon, Mariah, Micah and Kim hang out with Elmo...
                                   The 'sisters' Lexy, Breanna and Autumn (wearing her owl shirt that Angie's cousin Jack, airbrushed for her birthday, and Sandy presented to her!).
Angie, Andrea and Sandy love Elmo!

Micah dances in a bucket of ice while Breanna, Lexy and Autumn...'help'?

It was a nice, leisurely, party...good food, great company, nice weather...we were out there having fun for about 5 hours in the beautiful sunshine...Kimmy loved these outings for the people, but, also to watch the children have so much fun and play so nicely with each other...we had so much fun.

And that was what prompted Autumn to say "Today was a good day"!!!


Kimmy sighting!

      Last night, I found this email that Betsey had sent me, after I had already posted...

My Mom had called and left a message. She and my Dad were sitting out front tonight and knew the luminarias were at 9. And at 10 'til there was a shooting star over the Red Rocks :) My mom said "It was Kim!" They just couldn't believe the timing, sitting out there, talking about the Relay and luminarias coming up and then saw it.
Too cool.
      Gave me smiles...


Friday, May 13, 2011

The Relay for Life...

             Five months...five months...five months...

            The Relay for Life, held out at Empire High School, was an amazing event.  It began around 4 p.m. and will go through tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. - many people were hauling tents, coolers, chairs and other 'necessities' as we pulled up to Empire around 5 this evening...And I forgot my camera!!  Thanks to Ami Bunch, for lending me her photos - so if you were to go to her blog (scroll down towards bottom of Kimmy's blog and you'll see it on the right), you'll probably see a lot of the same photos!!

The Cottonwood Camp!
            The infield of the track had mini-camps for every team walking tonight.  It was nice that Rincon Vista (Kimpossible!  We wore our Kimpossible shirts tonight, after wearing our Random Acts of KIMness shirts all day) and Cottonwood's camps were next to each other, thanks to Cathy Lane and Aimee Snyder, the team captains, working that out for our family.  There were already several tents, for those spending the night, set up and the place had a carnival type feel to it. 

 Jen Lofgren and Mary Montes get ready to walk. Mary, 5 months pregnant, lasted until 10ish, telling me she was inspired by Kimmy walking up A Mountain 7 months pregnant with Cody!!

           I had plenty of support in both camps, and arrived with my family here, Angie, Andrea, Breanna, Amy, Tom, Alex, Betsey, Brian, Hadley and Mitchell.  The group that gave us so much support and gave Kim so much care in her time of need.  And we were there to honor her tonight.

Mary's sister, Ami Bunch and her husband, Brian, brought the triplets along tonight!  It was so cute to see Ethan, Coltan and Hunter, racing along the track and playing!

Aunt Mary helps Hunter, Ethan and Coltan escape from the scary clown!

           Aimee Snyder, Rincon Vista's team leader, had asked me to speak tonight...about Kim.  I wasn't sure what to say and wasn't sure when I was going to be asked to say it...so I wrote and wrote...bounced it off some of the family...tinkered with it.  You know, writing about Kim and my feelings for her - and about all that we experienced is so easy for me.  BUT - to be able to capture the essence of Kim in a 10 minute capsule and to do her justice...was a daunting experience.
          During the opening ceremonies, I thought "man, am I going to have to follow up some of these great speakers in front of a full grandstand?".  But, the ceremonies passed, we all did a lap around the track together and then were ushered into the school's library for a dinner. 
         There were about 50 people there, being served Olive Garden, and I was approached and told I would speak just after dinner was served.  Whew!  50 people?  No sweat.  It was nice to sit with everyone, decompress and eat.  We even talked Lupe, Manny and Monsi into joining us.  So maybe there were 53 people, instead of half a kajillion or so.  What I felt was relief.
         When it was my turn to speak, I did.  And here is what I said:
Have you ever seen a shooting star?  Blazing overhead, leaving a bright trail?  So beautiful, yet so quick. It’s something you never forget.  Kim was our shooting star…
           But where does a shooting star begin?  It’s hard to say, there are so many stars overhead…Over the last few months, I’ve had a chance to look back on Kim and who she was…and how blessed I was to have her in my life for 33 years…and I know where she started, quite, shy, but with a smile that captured your heart - so bright, so radiant…
Obviously, when this happened, it was a huge shock - a huge blow- to the very fabric of our lives…and we could ask why?  We could moan and complain…or be angry…but, that would fly in the face of everything Kim was and everything that she taught us.
‘I’m a plan B person’ she’d patiently tell me time after time when I was sad or frustrated that plans did not go our way.  This was one of Kim’s big secrets to staying upbeat - she new things did not always go as planned - we can’t choose the hand we are dealt - we just need to flip the cards and make something happen.
Kim also knew - and I mean knew into the core of her heart - that the real joy in life is giving to others, caring for others and loving others.  I have never met anyone so selfless, so pious and humble - she truly loved to help others and not only expected nothing in return, but was embarrassed by it!  She did not have a selfish bone in her body as she gave herself and her time to too many causes to make our community better to even mention.  She loved Tucson.  She loved the Vail School District.  She loved our church.  She loved our people.  And it showed.  Every day. 
When she crossed paths with someone who was sad, down, angry or selfish, she would do all that she could to make a good moment for them, to make a difference in their lives.
This is her legacy.  I have people approach me nearly every day telling me they are living better, getting involved, loving their wife and family more, because of Kim.
        And for us, we keep each other going, for Kim.  And you help us keep our heads up to.  For Kim.  You know, God gave us these shoes to fit us, we have to put them on and wear them.  I tell the kids to be themselves and to be proud of who they are and when faced with a decision, ask themselves ‘What would Mama do?’.
The children and I, have started a foundation in Kimmy’s name - to help families like ours - who did not have the overwhelming support that all of you pored upon us.  For her.  In her last days, Kim did not think of herself, the pain she was in, what was happening to her…  No, all she could talk about was how she could thank you all - we’ve really tried to do give her thanks to you through this foundation and other projects here in the Vail Community.
  We will do our best, to appreciate all that we have, every day.  And to always help others…and to stay involved, to keep our community a great place to live and our schools the best.  We are blessed…
Kim was our angel - and she continues to brighten our days, and when I feel the strain of trying to live up to all Kim was, I remember that I still have the best guide in that beautiful angel…
       What do you do when you see a shooting star?  You enjoy it, make a wish, and….BELIEVE
          It is so nice to continue to share Kimmy and our memories with everyone...so this was good.
          After dinner, we ventured out to see what was going on...there were jumping castles, live bands, free massages (Andrea, Lupe and Angie all got one!)...the bambini walked laps together - they were so cute.
          Around 9, they started the luminaria festivities - lighting each bag - there had to be a thousand of them! They had a huge, inflatable screen and showed photos of our loved ones. 

             I tried to count bags decorated for Kimmy and lost count around 50!!!!  I missed her so much tonight.  At an event like this, she'd be right there by my side, smiling and saying encouraging things to people.  Tonight, the Cottonwood and Rincon Vista camps kept me smiling and saying encouraging words to people.  I had a chance to thank Dale Hoffner for coming up with the whole 'Random acts of KIMness' phrase!  I met Mary Chassels, who worked with Kim at Rincon, who told me how kind Kim was and how much she inspired her.  Aimee Snyder and Nicole Bucheit, both teachers at Rincon, were tops in getting donations, so motivated by Kimmy!!
            Once all luminarias were lit and we'd seen Kimmy on the big screen, we all took a lap together...the luminarias were so beautiful and it was incredible, as you looked behind you, or across the field, to see so many bags lit up, like a bizarre runway...it was pretty somber, too.
            The moon and the stars were so bright tonight, shining down upon us as we walked a quiet lap...I was thanking God for the time Kim and I spent together and for all of those who made tonight so successful...and thanks to Angie, Andrea, Amy, Tom, Betsey, Brian, Lupe and Manny for propping me up.
           Thank you all,

'Random act of KIMness'

               It's going to be a busy weekend...for Kim.  My morning began with a text, from Mary Montes:
         Mary helped get these t-shirts designed for the Cottonwood team for tonight's Relay for Life cancer walk!!  Thanks so much Mary!!  The sea turtle captures her love of the beach (as immortalized on Amy's and Betsey's tatoos!).   Thank you Dale Hoffner, who I believe coined the phrase 'Random acts of KIMness'!  Thanks to Renea Woolridge for getting them produced - you know, once again, there are so many people involved, it is hard to list them all and thank them all - so thank you all!
       Next text, from Andrea "U are slacking on blog? What up with that?"...Well, I've been a little fried...and, apparently, the blog was down last night for maintenance!  Ami Bunch posted a photo of the 'down for maintenance' sign on the blogsite where we do the actual posting - she said she could post it to mine, if need be, as further evidence...Ami also reported that, during 'maintenance', her Wednesday post had dissappeared - they promised to bring it back - but, I noticed, that our friend, Rose, had posted a comment on Autumn's birthday blog Wednesday and it has dissappeared!  Rose, got your message, that you so much!!
        There will be plenty to blog about for Kimmy this weekend, I promise!
               Autumn squealed with delight when she noticed Mama's pot man scarecrow was back in the garden!  The garden looks so good right now - just as Kimmy would have had it looking.  I texted a big thanks to Jenn Bell, who texted back that it 'it's not Kim's garden without him...'.  Mrs. Schrantz took Tonio out to look at the garden and the scarecrow this morning...he enjoys that...
              I had the pleasure of working in Mrs. Rudzena's and Mrs. Schrantz' classrooms today - again, these teachers work so hard for our children - they are amazing!  And, once again, I picked the right day to volunteer as Mary Montes and her sister Ami Bunch fed me a great lunch...pasta!!  Thank you guys!!
          More on the Relay for Life later....

          And, today it's been 5 months since we lost Kimmy...and I realized that I have no warm weather #13 jersey to wear for her today...I'd wear the Carcillo Flyers jersey, but it's going into the high 90's today (already 94)...I'll have to work on that...We miss her so much, but, each day, try to do something special to honor her and we talk about good memories we had with her.  Last night, after the bambini went to sleep, Bella and I slipped outside and I had a beer at her favorite little table, where she would bring her chai tea in the early morning, look at the flowers and watch the birds...I tilted my head back and had a view of the Big Dipper, with the moon just behind me...


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Little Princess' 11th Birthday...

       I spent most of the last few days, and today, chasing the traditions that Kim had built for our bambini...and I have to tell you, I struggled.  Oh, there were times where I felt like I had it under control...and then, there were times where I knew that I did not - and it was not a good feeling - and went through what Kimmy called "pity parties" for myself...mostly toward the end of the night...
      The morning started off well enough - after staying up until 1, preparing gifts and food and cleaning, I woke up at 5:30 to water the new plants in Kimmy's garden and get going on breakfast...The bambini woke up around 6:10 and, of course, Autumn was anxious to open gifts!
Whoa!  A new fedora!
Tonio helps Autumn choose which gifts to open next.

            Betsey, Hadley and Mitch put flamingos and balloons in the front yard early this morning for Autumn. She was thrilled!  What a nice surprise to start her day!  What I would call a 'Kimmy' touch - and that which I sometimes failed to deliver today...   
            Angie and Andrea called while Aut was getting ready for school, to give her birthday wishes - after she talked to each of them, she came to me and told me this was the best birthday ever so far!

Autumn chose to have me bring in Luigi's Italian ice for her class today!  They really enjoyed it!  And Mrs. Rudzena treated them to a little Johnny Tremain while they ate.
Right after her treat, I busted her out of school and we went to Michael's (a horrible store, where I was afraid I would have to slit my wrists!  The lines were long, the merchanding sloppy, hard to shop and overwhelming.  There were at least 10 people in line when we went to check out, having to stand along a long, $1.00 wall...the lady in front of us was so distracted with these 'values', that I finally asked her if we could get in front of her so she could shop this fantastic merchandise...sensing my sarcasm, she declined and moved along...
Autumn wanted to go to Viro's for lunch.
Autumn had, what else? pasta!!! We had a nice time and everybody made a big deal about her birthday!  I took her shopping at Target when we were done and she picked out some neat stuff.
Then, we picked up Lexy at school and met our neighbor Betsey and her daughter, Hadley at home and got ready to head over to the Tucson Mall to Build a Bear.  The girls had so much fun building and accessorizing their bears!
                 Lexy, Autumn and Hadley decide which bears they want to make.
                          Autumn is all smiles having chosen a bear and getting it filled up with fluff, while Lexy and Hadley wait their turn to have their bears brought to life.
                                Autumn give her new bear a bath at the washing station.
                             And chooses a dress and checks it in the mirror.
                                       Autumn and Lexy create birth certificates for their bears.
All done with their bears!!
Betsey and I took the girls to Justice, where they picked out friendship necklaces...and then to the Disney Store!  Then, it was time to head home to get dinner ready.
I made Italian Wedding soup, angel hair pasta, salad, bread (from Viro's!) and the red velvet cake...I tried to use serving bowls and dishes that Kimmy would have used, did my best to present the food and Autumn seemed happy...

I had two different # 1 candles for the cake to make the 11 for Autumn...she thought this was peculiar...
We sang to her and applauded her...

                         Autumn made her wish, careful not to tell us and successfully blew out the candles!
                         Betsey got the honor of cutting the cake - we did offer it to Andrea, since her sister Janene cut Tonio's First Holy Communion cake.  Amy was the candle lighter.  They said the cake was good, but I found it a little dry...It was fun to try to do all of the special things that Kimmy always did - I pulled off a lot of it, but fell short in other areas...I know what I have to work on.
                           Lexy, Monsi, Mario, Manny, Andrea, and Lupe helped make Autumn's big day special.
Tonio, Mitch, Breanna, Lexy, Hadley, Monsi and Autumn enjoyed the party!

After everyone had gone, the bambini got ready for bed and we went outside to say goodnight to Kimmy...Autumn, once again, told me it was a great birthday. I asked her what had made it so great.  She told me, all of the people who came to the house tonight to eat with us and celebrate with us made it the best...she was so thankful for the company and the thoughtful gifts...

At the end of the day, that was what was most important to Autumn...the big, family style meal, with all of her friends and family there to make her feel loved...like her Mama always did...and I did my best to stay upbeat for her and to make it super special, but, it was a hard day...and I know I could have done better and will work on doing better...

I was glad and relieved that Autumn so appreciated today...thanks to all of you who helped!!
And now, I've nearly gotten the house back to what it was at the beginning of the day...time to step back outside, to look for meaning in the bright stars...



Monday, May 9, 2011

Brain Damage

           Mother's Day...we did all that we could to make Kim feel special...she liked to keep things simple, but we would try, anyway, as she always did for us...I feel that yesterday was a nice tribute to all that Kim stood for and we remembered her in so many ways...

          Today, we prepared for Autumn's birthday - we had fun picking out presents for her...but, now the pressure was on - to live up to all of the special things that Kimmy would do for each birthday...the decorations...Cody took care of that for me - he did pink streamers, balloons and a special, girls version, happy birthday banner...Autumn requested pasta, wedding soup and a red velvet cake for her birthday.  Marinara sauce?  No problem, I can make that in my sleep...and I must have, because it was already made and in the fridge!  Wedding soup?  I can do that too, but to find the time...Red velvet cake?  Never made one.  In fact, I've never made a cake from scratch...and if I've ever made on from a box mix, I don't remember...Why would I even try to do all of this?  Cooking, baking, cleaning, wrapping, decorating...Ahhhh.  Brain damage!  Of course, the real answer is Autumn - and it is how Kim would have wanted it done.
          After slinging books all day, and resisting Jaimelyn's urging me to have a second Americano (doesn't she know the caffiene will kill me?? Wait a minute...) I gathered up the scattered bambini (who did a great job this morning, getting themselves ready, as I left for work at 6:20 and our friend, Monique, took them to school!) - Cody, done with track, was at school - and Autumn and Tonio were at Lupe and Manny's, playing with Monsi.  Took Autumn to swim lessons - she is really getting some great technique!  Tonio's lungs still sound lousy, so he stayed home with Cody.  Then, we met Janene for her son, Brendon's, baseball game (they won 11-5 and Brendon was the closer, getting the save!) - I told her that I needed to go home and try to make a cake.  She pulled up recipes on her phone and gave me cake baking lessons while we watched the game...I felt confident...maybe...
             My neighbor, Betsey, offered to bail me out and bake a cake - but, I told her, this was for my little princess - I had to try.  If I failed, she could bake one tomorrow...as I was ready to pour the batter into the cake pans, I was on the phone with my other neighbor (yes, we have two), Tom and asked him 'hey, do I have to grease these pans or anything?'.  Tom did not know, so he put Amy on, who advised me to Crisco them and lightly flour them.  Nice save Amy!!  They seemed to have come out fine...I'll ice them tomorrow.
             Once that was done, I whipped out the wedding soup and began wrapping Autumn's presents...Almost done...although I could never match Kimmy's presentation, I caught Autumn watching me work several times, with bright, shining, eyes, full of appreciation - I was built for this - and that was enough energy to get me through...
              Autumn had my phone and was taking random shots...here's a few:
           Here's one I missed from Viro's yesterday that was on my phone somehow, instead of my camera...Mariah, Lexy, Autumn, Hadley, Breanna and Tonio (his little harem...).
            You know how they say couples begin to look alike after so many years of being together?  That's how Kim and I were - here's an example:

           Seriously, I didn't even know my phone could do this - that Autumn is techno-savvy!!!
             My camera on my phone does not do the sunset justice - the peaches and pinks were beautiful...

                 And my zoom on my phone is nothing special, but this is Brendon getting ready to unleash some pain on the opposing team!

                I think we are all ready for Autumn's special day - and, thanks to Kimmy, I know what that looks like.  11 years old.  She has such an amazing personality, like her Mama. Where has the time gone??


Sunday, May 8, 2011

First Holy Communion

      Happy Mother's Day!  It was nice to be able to reach out and talk to so many of you mother's today, from my own mom, to the text I received from Ami Bunch, lettting us know she was thinking of us and Kim...and, of course, having my family here, take time out of their Mother's Day, to spend it with us...

           Tonio was excited and anxious for his First Holy Communion ceremony today!  He looked so handsome and was so proud.  He was so happy to be wearing the special angel that Andrea had given him for Kimmy's Celebration and the tie bar that Lupe had given him for this big day.  Although, I must say, it was somewhat of a comedy act - I wish I would have been allowed to video tape it...
               We actually made it to Our Mother of Sorrows on time!!  And, I noticed, that we all were wearing white shirts and black pants...eerie...The bambini all looked so nice and were proud of their little brother...who could not keep his hands out of his pockets...and I had to constantly remind to get off of the ground and to tuck his shirt back in!
                   They did a nice group shot in the parish hall, prior to parading to the church.  Tonio is first on left, holding his hands in prayer, like a little angel...

                Tonio and his great friend, Monsi, are all smiles...it was a long Mass, and the children held up well...one time, I'm looking for Antonio and can't see him...suddenly, he pops up, having been under his chair and he looked over his shoulder to see if I had noticed...After receiving Communion, Tonio told me it tasted bad!  Overall, it was a beautiful Mass and Monsignor Tom, who had given so much comfort to Kimmy, presided over the ceremony.                 After Mass, we went over to Viro's to celebrate!
              We had the place to oursevles, thanks to Vito!  Here, we have wisely segregated the bambini to their own, huge table.  Mitch, Tonio, Alex, Cody, Brendon, Autumn, Hadley, Lexy, Bryson and Breanna dig into bread and beverages!

             Breanna enjoys some lasagna and salad - she looked so cute in her fedora and sun dress!!

                                   Autumn, Hadley and Lexy also dig the lasagna and salad!!
                Alex, Cody and Brendon not only enjoyed the lasagna, but also filled in their plates with some chicken marsala, as well!

                              Here's my fam from the 'hood.  Brian, Tom, Amy and Betsey...

        Holy sh#t!! Look how gray my hair has gotten!!!  It was jet black before Kimmy got sick...Anyways, here's the rest of the fam who joined us; Angie (Mark next to her, but obscured), Brad, Janene (Kim, Rashon and Mariah getting food), Kason, Bryson and Andrea...

                   Ahhh...Vito's dad, Giuseppe, pays us a visit and congratulates Antonio!!!  He and his wife, Enza, are so sweet.  Giuseppe is 88 years old and sharp!
               My second favorite photo of the day!  Sweet little Breanna and Tonio...what a cute couple they make and they are so fun to watch together, enjoying each other's company!!

             Rosa made Tonio the most beautiful cake!  It was a white cake, with a strawberry filling, made from fresh strawberries!!  I was unable to cut it, having been traumatized as a child by my sister, Sherri, who needed me to cut a perfect slice...I was unable to deliver and have since sworn off cake cutting...so enter my half-sister Janene...
Mark is eyeballing the perfectly proportioned slice of cake that Janene is cutting, only about a foot away from where she once gave Kimmy a beautiful and perfect hair cut...

                                      Brian, Amy, Tom, Betsey and Janene enjoy the cake!!              All of the kids played so nicely...the big boys rode scooters and then played DJ something or other on the Wii.  The rest of the kids had a Nerf war, ran Bella ragged outside (as if.  She is insatiable.), played on the playground and built with blocks.
             During the day, I reminded the bambini of the blessings we have...the friends and family, our health, the memories of their wonderful Mama.  I assured them that she was with us today...and we talked about going to Agua Caliente park last year for Mother's Day, bringing Subway and taking a hike. Kimmy loved to do stuff like that.  Of course we missed Kimmy today, but, she left us with so much...so much tradition, memories and encouragement...it could have been worse...
             This year, Angie and her family, our family in the 'hood, and Vito and Rosa's family, made us feel included, special, cuz there's nothing worse than feeling like a ghost...
              Happy Mother's Day!!