We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

Enjoy Now

                I thought I was done.  I've told you all that I can remember.  The times Kim and I shared rolling around and around in my head, spilling out into her blog.  When I finished the post on 12/13, I believed that was enough...It has been helpful to share the amazing life that Kim had built for us...

                ...and then I heard the news today, and, once again I thought "There truly are people out there who have it much worse than me.  I am blessed." 

                 At the end of our day yesterday, one which I was blessed to go to Mass with Angie (she set up a memorial Mass for Kim at Our Mother of Sorrows) and breakfast at Jerry Bob's, and so many reached out to give us well wishes and inspiration, we made our way outside to say goodnight to Kim, as we have every night for the last two years.  I told the bambini that I had a story to tell them. 

                "Your Mama and I didn't want to have children."  Stunned silence.  Each child looking at me, eyes pleading, waiting. 

                 It wasn't that we didn't like children, hell, Kim was a preschool teacher for over 8 years back in Bethlehem before we moved here.  And we loved our nieces and nephews.  It's just that, the world...the world was too cold for children.  People couldn't handle their frustrations, anger, disagreements, etc, so they would 'solve' them with violence.  Looking back, we simply watched the news too much.
                I told them that we realized that you cannot live your life in fear, but need to appreciate each moment.  Live in the moment.  Thoroughly enjoy it!  One by one, they hugged me so hard and told me that they loved me.  "Did you guys have a rough day?"  I asked.  As if to show me that they were strong, they each answered that they did not have a rough day and that they were good.  I told them "Well I had a rough day."  Again, the jaws opened, staring, waiting for more...I let them know that they would have rough days, everyday is not perfect.  Things do not always turn out the way that we want them.  Or pray for them to be.  But, we can make the best of any situation and find the good.  And we are always there for each other.
                I let that sink in for a few moments before I told the how thankful that I am for them and how proud of them I am...

                  It was a little surreal to me how yesterday started out sunny and blue sky...by the time I picked the bambini up from school, serious clouds had rolled in, followed by wind and rain...leading up to that time, 8:00 p.m., when Kimmy left us.  Mary had texted in the morning that her day started by seeing a shooting star before she left for work!  And, my niece, Jackie, saw a shooting star to end her day yesterday....
                 Today, we found more blessings...

Breanna, Autumn and Tonio laugh beneath a double rainbow!

A Kimmy sunset...

Breanna and Tonio enjoy the Polar Express at Cottonwood tonight.  They love that movie.  One of Kim's favorite stories.  At the end of the show, they handed out bells to everyone...the kids immediately rang their bells, and heard the jingling sound they made...because, they believe.
Sweet dreams!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Dream within a Dream

                 We had a dream...to live, to travel.  Laugh.  Share.  We dreamed that we would live together until we were old and gray.  Helping each other through each day.  That is how we approached things.  We were a team and, together, we could do anything.

                   The year went fast, much rockier that last year.  Much more challenging.  And painful.  Two years ago, I prayed for a Christmas miracle- it was the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, after all.  One of my all time favorite stories, in which Juan Diego, is visited by Jesus' mother, Mary, while on the way to care for a sick uncle.  She asks him to go to the bishop, and ask him to build a church on the site where they are talking.  Juan goes to the bishop, but he does not believe.  Mary sends him back with a sign, roses carried in Juan's tunic.  It was winter, and these flowers were not seen in this area, so the bishop began to wonder...when Juan puts the flowers down, an image of the Lady of Guadalupe has been imprinted upon his tunic.  And, the church was built!  She is believed to have performed many miracles in Mexico, especially around this time of year...

                   What I remember from that night, is too much to put in print - the trouble leading up to the 911 call is seared into my memory...and the strobing red and blue lights, bathing our once serene neighborhood in an eerie glow.
                    The last thing I remember from 12/13/10, is, being in a pool of water with Kim...the water a deep, vibrant blue...so clear, I could make out every detail of Kim's beautiful features.  She was slowly sinking down, while I was slowly floating up.
                    She reached out to me - I can't read the expression on her face - resignation?  Alarm?  Peace?   I struggled to stop my ascent, stretching out my left hand to grab her reaching arm...our fingers lightly touching...and then, I had her - for a moment.  Eyes locking, Kim looking deep inside, telling me a million things - I'm trying desperately to hold on, but, my grip - the water - was loosening...
                   She tried to tell me - everything, but, she had to go....

                   Some of the people that I've talked to, told me, that for them, the second anniversary was the hardest.  I've tried to stay level for the bambini - but they know.  I've apologized to them so many times over the last few days...they are so supportive.

                   Tonight, we popped in Inception.  I think that this is one of Leonardo Decaprio's finest movies.  Dealing with dreams within dreams within dreams.

                    "Why do you do this to yourself?"

                     "So I can dream."

                      "Why is it so important to dream?"

                      "Because in my dreams we are still together..."

                       And for once, our hero, fighting all of the odds, all of the bad guys, surviving impossible dangers - cannot save the girl...but, reunites with his children.
                   I am so thankful that we had our children.  I couldn't save the girl either, but, I am so blessed - these little guys have worked so hard - and, they still have their rough days, but who can blame them?  I'm so proud of them and appreciative for what Kim built.

Albuquerque visiting my sister, Lauren and her husband Jason. They are now back in PA with four children!  They took us all over when we visited - beautiful place.  Here, we are at the petroglyph forest.

On the way back, we were driving a desolate stretch of Rt 40, when Kim suddenly yells "Pull over!".  I had no idea what was wrong - Cody?  Her stomach?  "What Kim?"  "I need to get one of those!"  she was already getting out of the car and was pointing to this soaptree yucca.
"I can use it to make a nice decoration for our home!"  She was as animated and excited as you've ever seen Kim - especially when she had a neat idea.  I wasn't going to try to stop her, but couldn't resist yelling at her as she went about her business "POACHER!  I'm calling the cops!!!"

                               Look at that laughing face!!  She ended up getting a huge Mexican style clay floor vase for this stalk and dressed it up with other 'findings' - it looked incredible in our entryway.

Visiting my sister, Cheri, when she lived in Muskogee, OK.  Her kids, Anthony and Jackie and their dog, Nittany are in this shot. And, of course, our Cajun girl.

Natalie must have taken the shot, since she joins us in this photo

Here's one from my NASCAR days, Kim so supportive!
Back to the beach!
Cody and his Mama at Beach Haven, Long Beach Island, NJ

And with Pop and Nana at LBI
Angie and I will be heading to a Mass in Kim's honor first thing in the morning.  Angie set up the memorial Mass for Kimmy...and has it set for next year already, too...
Niki and Kim.  These two look like sisters - Kim's niece had come out to visit about 17 years ago and we took her to the Grand Canyon.  Niki has become an amazing person, just like her Aunt Kim!
These next two were from when Kim and I were 18...

Hard to believe it was a life time ago.  We stopped at a picnic on our way for Kim's first visit to Shippensburg University, where I'd be starting another semester of college.

This one was taken at the house I grew up in.  We'd spend hours in the t.v. room, laying together on the couch, watching movies...
...I just love Kim's smile...
And miss it so much...
3-1-65 to 12-13-10


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tonio's Play

                Tonio has found a creative outlet.  The ELP program - don't ask me what this stands for...I asked Tonio and he told me "I forget.  I know that it says on the window, but I just forget."  No matter, he gets to write and express himself, traveling over to Desert Willow Elementary school on Tuesdays (he likes to look for Breanna when he is over there and is always excited when he gets to say 'hi' to her).
                Monday night, he told me that he had a play on Tuesday, but couldn't remember what time.  I scrambled to make sure that I had plenty of coverage at the bookstore (my partner, Jaimelyn, always helps me out when it comes to bambini time!) and then found out that the play would start at 10:30. 
               I went to work at 6:00 a.m....around 9:00, my cell rang and I did not recognize the number...but, once again, defying my rules about never answering calls that I don't recognize, I picked up.  It was Antonio!  Reminding me that his play started at 10:30.  "I understand if you cannot make it." he told me - always concerned that I cannot leave work or that he is somehow inconveniencing me.  He had borrowed his ELP teacher, Mrs. Bradshaw's, cell phone to make the call!
               Left work at 9:30 and made it to Desert Willow in time to grab a seat.  Tonio had invited Lupe to his play, too, so I met her there.  The students in this class were given an assignment over break to write a story.  Then, they got together and picked a couple of stories to turn into a play.  By themselves - these are 9 year old 4th graders.  It was called a story exchange.
                Tonio starred in one called 'The Different Boy'.  It seems he is the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandson of Luke Skywalker and has 'the force'!  When aliens invade Earth, his friends call Tonio to save the world!!

Here Tonio receives the news about the alien invasion.
And Tonio was that hero who saved the day!
I wasn't able to get many shots from where I was sitting, but, all of the kids involved did a great job!  I texted a thank you to Mrs. Bradshaw...for a great performance and her work with the kids...and with Tonio.
That night, our normal Barrios family night, we had Lupe, Manny and Monsi over to our house for a change!  Guess what I made?  Pasta. 
Our house, their home - it's all good.
Today, I had the honor to help judge the Cottonwood spelling bee. I am on the Site Based Council at Cottonwood, and Mary asked a couple of us to judge the event - she knows I enjoy it and she always lets be the chime ringer.  When a child spells a word correctly, I get to run my finger across a set of chimes - very zen like - feels like you are waking from a dream.
Tonio's best buddy, Monsi, was in the spelling bee today!
Each class holds a qualification spelling bee.  The top spellers from each class compete in the all school spelling bee.  Tonio didn't quite make today's event.  In fact, he was out after the very first word he was given.  He told me later that he spelled the word, but Ms. Irwin didn't hear him so asked him to spell it again, which he did.  She told him he was correct and was on to the next round.  But, Tonio went right up and told her that he had misspelled the word the first time, the time she did not hear him - thereby disqualifying himself.  He seemed a little embarrassed when he told me this story.  I hugged him tight and told him that what he did was way better than winning - especially when he knew he would not have earned it!
                          Monsi spells 'nefarious' as Mary, pensively, looks on.  Mary does an incredible job of putting the spelling bee together.  Imagine organizing some 700 students to view this event, teaching the participants the ground rules, keeping all of the children from each grade level moving along, making sure none of the judges are corrupt, etc. Mary had those kids ready to go!  She had kind words for each of them and lifted up those who had just misspelled a word.  Every one of those students felt good about themselves! Inspiring She said she had some nightmares about it last night.  But, as with any program that Mary is involved in, everything went smooth - the parents and children were treated to a great event!
Monsi did a great job - coming in 2nd place!  We were all proud of her.  Tonio missed this part, as he went on a field trip with the Junior Optimist Club to Cienega High School for a photography class.  He told me later, that he really missed his Mama during this class.  I told him how Kim had taken photography classes, and what an eye for a shot she had...I told him Mama must have been tapping him on his shoulder to let him know he was following in her footsteps.  He looked for his big brother, Cody, on campus, but was sad that he did not get to see him. 
The bambini had a good day - getting to spend some quality time with Mary and Ami, going shopping!  They bought 200 lbs of rice and a couple dozen socks for a project Mary and Ami do with their Kindergartners - sock snowmen!  Cody and Tonio remember making them.  And they had gianormous slice of pizza at Costco.  Watching Brinley do 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' seemed to be the highlight of their day!!
They were all smiles when I picked them up around 7 from Mary, Brinley still doing her Itsy Bitsy routine!!
Kim and Cody visiting the Chipmunk's house in Disneyland.

                                               Cody, Kim and Cajun on the beach in La Jolla

                                          The tide's coming in at La Jolla
Sitting on the sea wall at La Jolla
She sure loved the beach!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Soapy Snow

                      La Encantata Mall...Tucson's northside.  This was our first 'outdoor lifestyle' mall.  Kim loved that they often had free events for families.  She'd take us up there during the summer for movie nights, and they served free popcorn and sodas.  Her favorite stores were Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel.  When we'd have company, we'd typically end up a AJ's market to grab a sandwich and sit outside on their patio.  The bambini love the toys store there, with all of the nostalgic toys and their assortment (Autumn goes for the mood rings and Tonio the tiny rubber dinosaurs).  I love the Bose store, but know my economic limitations...

                     Someone told me that they make snow up there during December...I thought I'd take the kids up there to check it out and help them get some of that Christmas spirit going!  We even stopped in the toy store and Autumn got a star fish shaped mood ring and Tonio got himself a tiny rubber dragon and a rubber horse for his best buddy Monsi.  There was an employee blowing bubbles around the store and the kids jumped as high as they could trying to catch them.  Fun store!
                     The mall was providing hot chocolate while we waited for the snow to fall. 

                                                                   And soon it did!! 

They had several snow machines strapped high up on the upper deck and the snow falling looked so beautiful.  Especially since it was 70 degrees.

Tonio did a joyous snow dance...Autumn, caught a bunch in her hands...rubbed them together and declared "I think this is soap!".  She said it with the same tone one might use upon discovering the diamond they cherished was glass.  Or the Oakleys they owned were merely Oakeys (we bought some in NYC for only $5.00!).

Autumn had seen enough.  "Dad, can we go check out Crate & Barrel?".  Why?  I asked her.  "Just because Mama liked it so much..."

                                 It was a pretty night, and after laughing at ourselves for getting scammed, we walked the mall, ended up at AJ's and I got the kids some big BLT's and lupini beans.  So the evening was not a total loss.
This would make a cool album cover.

Riding turtles...
And more from the memory vaults!

I remember reading one of our friend, Ami's, posts not to long ago (see the link to her blog down the right hand side of Kim's blog - The Best Things in Life are Three), about the Bunchkin triplet's first visit to the dentist.  While sorting through our life together, I came across these pics of Cody's first cleaning and little Autumn, wide eyed with that same beautiful blue of her Mama's.  And Dr Jack (Alexander), beaming after a job well done! 
Dr. Jack's wife, Jane, is the receptionist/office manager.  They are such a neat couple and we've been going there since we moved here in '94.  It feels more like going to visit a favorite aunt and uncle, instead of a dental visit! 

Kim and Cody get ready to ride the Haunted Mine Ride at Old Tucson, back when you rode through it.  They couldn't keep the little train maintained, so now it is a walk through, but still a bambini favorite!

Kimmy holding Autumn at Old Tucson on Main Street, where, in 1987 Kim was called upon to 'punch out' some bad guys in a skit.

Proud Mama (yes, she had a kiva ladder in our entry way!)
Another of my favorite photos, for her smiling eyes...

And love this look - Mother's Day at Agua Caliente park - must have been '99.

At the Albuqurque Zoo - another great laugh.  Cody's got it too!
Things are speeding up here some...we are nearly through it.  More great pics to come!