Hope’s creative summer

For the second year in a row I signed Hope up for art classes at Crealde. She just finished up her 6 week pint size picasso class last weekend so I thought I’d take a moment to share some of her artwork.

My favorite piece from this summer was her self portrait. For this class I stood by for a few minutes at the start of the class listening the instructions in hopes that Hope’s cousin Tyler might get to join her class for the day. As we waited, her teacher let the class know they could do self portraits that didn’t necessarily look like them, but yet still expressed who they were. The instructor showed examples of picasso’s work and mentioned how they could choose different color hair, eyes, or clothes and how it didn’t have to look identical to what they looked like in class. The kids sat at their tables and had mirrors to look into so it’s quite interesting to see the kids rendition of themselves. Hope of course instantly let me know she could paint herself with pink hair which she claims she would like to have someday.

Hope's self portrait...like picasso

I was so thankful that the teacher was willing to let Tyler sit in class that day. Tyler had come down from Chicago to visit us for a few days. Hope and Tyler were inseparable so I just kept my fingers crossed that they’d be able to take the class together. Thankfully a few kids were absent so there was room. They had quite a bit of fun together and Tyler got to create his own self portait too.

199/365: Art class

We spent the summer at Crealde missing someone
Though this is Hope’s second summer in classes, all this past year she’s been in a few other classes. This summer’s class makes her 5th class at Crealde and the first class she’s taken at Crealde without her buddy Miscia. Hope mentioned a time or two how she missed her friend in class and how it wasn’t quite the same. Of course, I too agreed because as the kids were often in class together it meant myself and Jaylen were also missing our friend Sasha, Miscia’s mother. On the last day of class Jaylen played outside as we waited for Hope and at the very moment I took this photo it brought back memories of the first few classes the kids took together. It reminded me how we were all missing our friends a little more this summer.

we spent the summer at crealde missing someone

Of course, Crealde is a wonderful place for a photoshoot. Their campus on a lake is beautiful. Jaylen was as cute as could be as I took a few more photos of him.

Jaylen

213/365: Jaylen

Jaylen

Jaylen

Hope’s art show
On the last day of class the kids hang all their work they worked on in class and put it on display for their family. It’s a fun time to reflect on their artistic accomplishments. The moment Jaylen and I walked in the class Jaylen ran right to Hope and she picked him up. It was certainly a priceless moment.

greeting her brother after class

Hope first showed off her collage she made in class earlier that day.

her collage

I loved seeing her point out her self portrait again.

213/365: pointing out her self portrait

She also had a mixed media piece that was mostly watercolor and some pen and ink that said “I want all animals”. She drew several of the animals she “wanted”. Hopefully want = love because I don’t have room in my home for a horse, dog, cat, hamster, fish and baby duck . 🙂

pointing out her artwork

She still enjoys the messy pastels and had fun making something so colorful.

pointing our her pastel work

On the first day of class Hope got to draw something inspired by another artist. It’s a good way for the kids to learn about previous artists and their techniques. Hope chose the work of John Brewster. I’m not quite certain of the title but I imagine it was something influenced by her beginning her piano lessons this summer.

sharing her drawing

Here’s the artwork she was inspired by:

brewster

She was so eager to show me all her work and was very cooperative as I took lots of pictures. Before we left I asked her to let me take one last picture and this was the look I got.

the look she gives me to let me know she's had enough of me taking pictures of her

So yeah, I suppose she had enough of me taking pictures of her that day – but she hasn’t had enough of art lessons. She’s already showing a lot of interest for classes this fall, especially now that she’s close enough to move to the next age group. I imagine it won’t be long and I’ll have many more of Hope’s creative projects to share.

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Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 12:39 am  Comments (2)  

a few new videos

I thought I’d share a few recent videos that I just posted online. There are definitely many memorable moments that I’m glad we caught on video during this very busy summer!

JAYLEN PICKS THE ROCK BAND SONG
We got rock band & guitar hero this year and Jason and the kids have a blast playing it. Jason’s family came to visit a few weeks ago and it was cute to see them all playing it. Jaylen loves it so much that now he even lets us know what song he wants to play. Check it out.

THE KERN ROCK BAND
Jason’s brothers were in town with the kids and it was great seeing them all playing rock band together. Tyler, Hope and Jaylen really had fun rockin’ it out.

HOPE & TYLER SING SPONGEBOB
They were excited when Jason was able to download a spongebob song for them to play on rock band. Of course Tyler wasn’t too thrilled when I kept blocking his view of the tv. 🙂

MY LITTLE TIGER
Jaylen is becoming quite the little character squealing and growling like a little tiger. You get to see some of his cuteness in this video before Hope’s friend accidentally knocks him over.

A FEW CUTE MOMENTS
These two are too cute together – this is how they are together most days.

MY STRESS IS EXPRESSED THROUGH HIM
The last week or two have been insanely busy and filled with stress and I have come to notice that this tends to cause Jaylen to be even more whiney. I’m confident he feeds off of every one of my emotions. So I apologize in advance – but if you want to see the moodiness I’ve experienced around my own stress, here it is.

PAPER CUPS
Who needs toys when you have paper cups? Hope had found some paper cups we’ve had for what seems like years – and at first she began just stacking them for fun. Then her and Jaylen would knock them over. Well, it turned into a hilarious episode of throwing the cups around…who needs snowball fights when you’ve got cup fights. Those darn paper cups kept the kids busy for hours! I’m going to have to tell santa that we don’t need toys this year…and just to get more paper cups after seeing how excited the kids got over them.

THANKS ALLISON!
Of course I missed the best part of Hope opening a package from Allison. She kept saying “cool” and “awesome” and was super excited but once the camera came out she was a little more reluctant…but still the kids do get quite excited when they receive packages, especially from Allison

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

205 days of 365 mosaic

As most of you are aware, I began this crazy idea to take a picture of my entire family, including the dog, at the start of the year. I know how crazy the idea sounds – 365 days of photos EVERY DAY with my family. In fact, I’ve found myself in the midst of this photography challenge asking myself on more than one ocassion, “what in the world am I thinking giving myself more unnecessary work?”

This summer I’ve passed the midway mark in completing this project and have spent sometime reflecting on the first half of 365. It’s overwhelming to look back at how many moments were captured and how many MORE moments were photographed that would likely have either never been photographed or may have never happened if it weren’t for this silly idea. I bring my camera with me about 90% of the time and have lost track of how many of my favorite moments photographed happened when I’d typically would have never had my camera with me. Though the year started with me challenging myself to take a photo every day of each of us – it’s pretty obvious that its tougher to JUST take one photo.

Our graphics faculty art exhibition is later this month and I’m thrilled to share with everyone what I’ve dubbed as “205 days of 365”. It’s a photomosaic made of 1553 of the best photos taken this past year. Yes, 1553 – that’s only a fraction of the estimated 15,000+ photos I’ve taken this year. Here’s my mosaic that will be on display at our graphics faculty art exhibition at Valencia Community College in late August.

205 days of 365

HOW I PULLED OFF ANOTHER CRAZY IDEA…
Now yes, I have to say that the idea of creating a mosaic sounded just as crazy as taking a picture every day this year. Months ago I looked into how to pull off making a mosaic, knowing it’d be a challenge to assemble such a tedious project. That’s when I ran across Picture Mosaics who specialize in making true photo mosaics. After looking through a gallery of previous mosaics they’ve helped create, I know that this was exactly what I wanted to do with my 365 photos for the faculty show.

Though Picture Mosaics helped assemble the mosaic, it was still a very tedious process on my end. I have been a little OCD with keeping my 365 photos organized this year which helped speed this process up some. I ended up using Lightroom to manually set the crop area for every single photo because I did not trust the computer to make the decision of where to crop the photo for me. Lightroom then exported all the photos for me together so that I wouldn’t have to open and save all 1553 photos. If it weren’t for lightroom I’d likely still be cropping and saving photos. Once I finished all the files were sent to Picture Mosaics and they made the mosaic using the source photo I wanted the smaller pictures to make up. I was impressed with how the mosaic came together and would definitely suggest trying Picture Mosaics if you’re ever considering a photo mosaic.

MY MOSAIC UP CLOSE
Of course mosaics are best viewed either at a distance or up close. I spent a while after receiving the mosaic analyzing all the photos that made up the mosaic. Looking at the mosaic was a great reflection on the first 205 days of 365. Here are a few closer screenshots from the mosaic.

mosaic1

mosaic4

mosaic3

mosaic2

mosaic1

THE LAST HALF OF 365
Yes, I am still continuing 365, even after this insanely busy week of finishing final grades at Valencia, preparing 3 projects for our faculty art exhibition, and finishing up my portfolio for my masters at SCAD. I’ve got a week and a half worth of photos to sift through to share before I’m caught up but at this point there’s no giving up on 365 – and seeing this photo mosaic is just more fuel for me to finish of this challenge. Who knows, I may just need to make another mosaic at the end of the year. 🙂

If you’re interested in seeing more of the 365 picture up close you can check them out in flickr in my 365 collection.

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm  Comments (5)  

photobooth sillyness

As many of you may be aware, I’ve been taking Hope & Jaylen to the photobooth every month on the anniversary of their birthday since Jaylen was about 2 months old. We’ve managed to keep up with it for all of 2008 and now for the first half of 2009. Hope still has a blast every month and is sure to remind me every time the 12th and 20th of the month roll around. Jaylen has become quite a little character since his first photobooth. He now acts silly just like his big sister. This past week they both made silly faces in the photobooth – definitely an unforgettable photobooth memory.

Here are the first six months of Jaylen’s photobooth (January thru June 12, 2009):

6 months of Jaylen's photobooth

And we’ve finished the first five months of Hope’s photobooth (January thru May 20, 2009):

5 months of Hope's photobooth - 2009

I was thankful I brought my nikon with me to this past week’s photobooth. The moment I saw them both making silly faces I couldn’t resist taking photos of the moment. Yes, the photobooth pictures themselves just aren’t enough for my photography obsession.

photobooth June 12, 2009

photobooth June 12, 2009

photobooth June 12, 2009

Jaylen and I also acted a little silly in the photobooth.

photobooth June 12, 2009

I’ve been asked many times how much longer I’ll keep up with photobooth. I wish I could answer that one. It’s become a part of our routine every month and as inconvenient as it might seem to take a trip to the mall twice a month – the kids and I all seem to agree that its a fun detour from the busy moments where we have an excuse to escape and have some fun. So for now I like to have this excuse to promote my children’s sillyness every time we visit the photobooth. Something tells me the moments at the photobooth will only continue to be as memorable with these silly kids of mine as they have been since we began photobooth.

Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 12:41 pm  Comments (1)  

Our Atlanta trip

We returned from Atlanta this past weekend and I thought I’d take a moment to share a bit of the fun we had with you all. After learning that the Chicago Cubs were playing in Atlanta last week we decided that on Hope’s last day of school we’d take a trip to short trip to Atlanta to see the game and have a little fun. Though Orlando is a nice size city, I have to admit that it’s not quite as large as Atlanta. During our trip we stayed downtown at the Westin and loved the view from our room – the moment the kids and Jason walked into our room was quite memorable. Of course seeing this moment began what would become a trip where the camera rarely left my hands.

The view from our 65th floor room

Our first night in Atlanta we went to the game. The kids were excited, but no where near as excited as Jason was to see his cubbies play and to bring his kids to the game. It was Jaylen’s first trip to the ballpark, which was certainly a proud moment for his proud daddy.

watching batting practice

Jaylen was quite excited to be at the stadium full of stairs. We were left trying to hold him so he wouldn’t go tumbling down the stadium.

154/365: at the cubs vs braves game

Just before the game was set to start the rain began. Then it poured. And poured. And poured down rain. It rained for hours. We remained hopeful that the rain would stop and they’d be able to play the game but unfortunately the game was rained out.

Rain delay

The next day was very eventful. We started out our morning at the Georgia Aquarium. It was an amazing experience for the kids to see all the underwater creatures!

The jelly fish were cool!

At the aquarium

They seem so small

We also took a trip to the World of Coca-Cola where we were allowed to taste all 64 flavors of coke products. Hope had a blast trying out all the various flavors of coke.

Coca-cola taste test!

We also went to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta where they had a ton of creative and play spaces for children to play with. Hope wanted to stay all day and play.

painting at the Children's museum

We ended our day 2 at Stone Mountain which we originally had not planned in our trip. We heard a lot about it after arriving in Atlanta and decided to check it out. It was definitely one of the most memorable and enjoyable parts of our trip. When we first arrived Hope saw they had a huge climbing obstacle course. Jason and Hope decided they’d try it out. Once they were up many feet in the air we realized it was a little more challenging than originally expected. Though Hope was a little nervous at first she moved forward and completed the entire first level.

Stone Mountain Adventure

Stone Mountain Adventure

Stone Mountain Adventure

If you’ve never been to Stone Mountain I have to tell you it was one of the best unexpected parts of our trip. The scenery around the park was pretty amazing.

Stone Mountain

We enjoyed the view from the top of Stone Mountain park. The park overlooks Atlanta’s skyline.

on top of Stone Mountain

Though Hope was super cute during our trip, some of my favorite pictures of her from our trip were taken at Stone Mountain. She was super cooperative as I took the most pictures during our trip at Stone Mountain Park.

at Stone Mountain

Of course one of the things I looked forward to most was our trip to the zoo. On day three we went to the Atlanta zoo and visited the panda bears that I adore so much. This little guy was super cute taking a nap during our visit.

baby panda at the Atlanta zoo

Another panda was sleeping right next to the glass and Hope was able to go right next to the glass to admire it.

Hope near the sleepy panda

We took breaks at our hotel and there’s no doubt that the kids just loved the window in our room. They were usually either looking out it or playing near the curtains.

admiring Atlanta

He stayed occupied with the window

Our last night in Atlanta we went to the observation deck on the top floor of the Westin at sunset and took a few photos to help us remember the view.

Sunset at the sundial

So we’re off to a great start this summer. It looks like we have a trip back to Atlanta in a couple weeks for the make up game that was rained out. In the mean time we’re working on getting use to the new summer routine now that Hope’s school is out. We’re keeping the kids busy swimming this summer and much more. Hopefully you all enjoyed a few snapshots from our trip. You’ll find many more photos from our trip in flickr.

Published in: on June 9, 2009 at 10:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Another degree down

Yesterday marked the final day in my final quarter needed to complete my bachelors degree online at Savannah College of Art & Design. Yes, I’m DONE. Finally.

Yesterday the kids and I sat down with the heaping pile of the curriculum I completed these last two years to take our 365 photo for the day. These same papers I was buried under at some point or another as these two amazing kids anxiously awaited my attention during every break I took.

148/365: another degree down.

I spent a lot of time this week reflecting on how much has happened in the last two years since I started this journey, and really found myself not only appreciative that I’ve finished but for all the support I’ve had from my family, friends, colleagues, classmates, and yes, even my own students.

So what was the most challenging part of your degree?
DrawingI’d definitely say that juggling work, school, and the kids posed the biggest challenge these last two years. When I started my bachelors degree in September of 2007 it was just one month before I had Jaylen. I had never taken an online course before, but I just assumed when I signed up that it’d be something I could handle around everything else I had planned, even the challenges of having a newborn baby in the house. I have to admit that there were many days and nights during my very first quarter after having Jaylen where I wasn’t so sure how I’d juggle it all. But I’ve learned that determination will get you through anything, and it has. Thankfully I have two amazing kids and an awesome husband who have come to accept how busy my educational goals have kept me. So I guess for me the challenge really hasn’t been in getting the degree “done” but instead in making time for those who I care for most while finishing my degree.

a sneak peak of my crazy house during my SCAD finals week

So how in the world did you juggle the kids, work and school?
Sometimes you don’t ask “how” and you just do it. I have to admit that without Jason I don’t know how I’d have finished this degree. He took a fair amount of time off after Jaylen was born to help me get through one of the most challenging quarters. Virtually every weekend he came to accept, as frustrating as it may have been, that the weekends were almost always devoted to me finishing most of my big projects, research papers, presentations, and more. So as he played Mr. Mom I was often locked in my room free of distractions, granted the kids did manage to sneak in from time to time. And well, there were just many moments where he was at work and I had deadlines mid week where I was up all hours of the day and night completing homework. Hope has been an amazing big sister helping with Jaylen. At times I admit that resorting to Blue’s clues meant I was able to get one more thing accomplished to achieve my goals. At times I have been so focused and thankful how much Jaylen enjoyed Blue’s clues that I’d look over and he’d be sound asleep.

Geez, how many degrees do you have now? How many more are you going to get?
I guess this now will make four degrees. I have a general Associates degree and two A.S. degrees (graphics and interactive) from Valencia. And now I have a bachelors degree – so I suppose that makes me “legit”. 🙂 I’m just about finished with my masters application at SCAD. If everything goes as planned I will begin my masters degree this fall. As for what follows that, who knows. We’re entertaining the thoughts of a PhD but one thing at at time people. 🙂

43/365: Success is a journey, not a destination

Now that you’ve successfully finished interviewing yourself AGAIN, do you have any final words?
Besides thank you to everyone who has offered me encouragement or support. 🙂 I suppose I should remind everyone out there not to think of things as “impossible”. I have had many who have jokingly said that some of my goals are impossible or crazy. I guess I should remind you all that “success is journey not a destination.”

Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 10:33 am  Comments (3)  

Remembering his curls

I knew it was only a matter of time before we’d finally break down and get my baby’s hair cut and today was that day. I admit I’ve found myself admiring his curls more and more as his hair grew over the last 19+ months. Like most mothers, I found it difficult to really let go of his curls to finally get his hair cut, so I find myself today remembering his curls and thankful that I took many pictures of them…

curls

curls

his curls...

Born with a head full of hair
I imagine part of what has been so challenging for me to finally commit to getting Jaylen’s hair cut is because not only do I not want to let go of just one more baby phase that I’ve adored seeing, but his hair is the one thing I remember most since the day he was born. My son was born with a head full of hair and it’s the one thing that many, including myself identified with from the moment I first saw him. Yes, I know, my baby’s hair will grow back – but I have to admit it’s one more connection that made the decision for me a much more reluctant one.

Jaylen's hospital photo

Heavenly Little Blessings

It’s really not his first…
For those that have been following us closely, you may remember, that this really isn’t Jaylen’s first haircut. As much as I came to admire Jaylen’s longer hair as an infant it was frustrating for me to see how his hair grew those first few months. Like most babies he lost some hair and some continued to grow. When he was about five months old we trimmed his “comb over” hair so he didn’t look like a silly old man and really in hopes that it’d grow back evenly.

Buh bye baby hairs

Jaylen's baby hairs.

Baby hairs

Haircut

It was time…
Though this is really his second haircut, the decision was actually more challenging than the first. Over the last year I’ve grown connected to seeing my baby boy and his curls as he grew, and grew, and grew. So to me, this seems like his first haircut because the first one really only trimmed away a couple hairs to even his hair out. But yes, I finally agreed to this decision, despite how challenging it was to commit to. In fact, I bet if Jason hadn’t said he was going to take him today on his own I would have likely continued to prolong the idea of getting his haircut. Jason and I do both generally prefer shorter hair and with the summer rolling around his hair would have only become more of a challenge. The front of his hair has gotten so long over the last few months that getting his hair cut was really inevitable given his age. Now that he’s also in safe start lessons we also found that his hair began getting in his eyes and hindering him during lessons. So combined this has all allowed me to accept getting his hair cut. I imagine you all are more interested in seeing the photos…

Hope was very persistent in the idea of getting her brother’s hair cut. She was excited to finally take him today.

144/365: before their haircuts

Jaylen sat on Jason’s lap for his entire hair cut. He looked like such a big boy.

before his haircut

Of course I did like always and hid behind my camera and photographed the moment.

144/365: photographing Jaylen's first haircut

When Jaylen’s hair cut was done he got down and looked super happy to greet his daddy who had a huge smile on his face too. I admit that when I saw these two together that Jaylen looks so much like Jason now, especially like the pictures I remember seeing of Jason as a little boy.

after Jaylen's 1st haircut

144/365: after Jaylen's 1st haircut

Here he is before and after the haircut:

144/365: Jaylen's 1st haircut

So yes, the curls are gone but he’s still cute as ever. He certainly looks like such a big boy now. I guess there’s no way of ignoring the fact that my baby is growing up.

Published in: on May 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm  Comments (2)  

Relaying

This past Friday I spent the night at Relay for Life at Timber Creek High School in honor and support of those who have battled cancer. As most of you are aware, Jason’s mother passed away in 1992 from Leukemia. Though I, nor my children, never knew his mother – her struggles with cancer certainly have had a direct impact on our family. I found myself at Relay for Life Friday honoring her and others who have fought cancer.

It shouldn’t be surprising that I found myself at Relay during some very busy times in my own life. In addition to teaching fulltime at Valencia, attending classes fulltime at SCAD, and caring for the kids I find myself also applying for my masters, attending meetings at work, as well as preparing for and attending our student show which was the same night as Relay. After the student show I rushed over to Relay for Life in hopes that I’d make it in time for the Luminera lighting and moment of silence. I was thankful that I made it just in time to make Luminera bags. I made one in honor of Jason’s mother but unfortunately I was so rushed for time that the most I could do was write her name on the bag. Hope has already expressed an interest in participating in Relay for Life next year so I imagine next year you may see her create a more creative bag for her grandmother.

Relay 4 Life 2009

I also found myself throughout the night thinking of Talia Castellano, a 9 year old who is fighting a rare form of cancer. Some of you may know that I’ve volunteered over the last six months to follow her story as she continues to battle cancer. I also made sure there was a luminera bag present at relay in support of Talia.

Relay 4 Life 2009

In 2003 I also attended Relay for Life, but because Hope was so young we only stayed part of the night. One thing I remembered most from my past relay was the Luminera lighting and moment of silence. I found myself not only reflecting but admiring the spirit around me as the lights were turned out and the luminera remained lit.

Relay 4 Life 2009

Seeing Hope’s name created by luminera lit in the bleachers reminded me of the reassurance we should all have for those who have struggled with cancer.

Relay 4 Life 2009

AND THEN I RELAYED…
I admit I was a little too tied up with many obligations to be involved in fundraising for Relay for Life this year but agreed to attend to support my friend Sasha who has been very involved with Relay for Life for years. I agreed to walk/run to help her reach her goal of walking 28 miles during relay! Despite all the training in the military and staying fairly active, I admit I haven’t stayed on a regular or rigorous work out schedule so I agreed to this challenge realizing I would push myself as far as I could possibly go but wasn’t quite sure how I’d finish 28 miles. I found myself about 11 or 12 miles in feeling very achy. My feet were blistered and even bleeding. At one point I remember walking even in flip flops for a mile or two.  I began to walk much slower and began to realize I’d likely not walk as many miles as I had originally thought. As I found myself starting to give into the physical pain, Sasha and I chatted as we walked about relay. She reminded me of the purpose of Relay for Life which left me more motivated to continue walking. I think we’re all aware what a great fundraising event Relay for Life is, however, many don’t truly think of the connection it has with those battling cancer. I couldn’t help but admire my friend’s determination to meet her goal of walking so many miles during relay, even more so after she made it clear that Relay was not just a fundraising event to support cancer research but it was a means of remembering and honoring those fighting cancer. For many cancer patients the night becomes the toughest part of the fight, where they are often up and in pain much of the night – many times fighting the pain alone. So for one night many relay to not only honor those that fight cancer, but to take one night out of the year to relate to the pain endured by cancer patients. So as I found myself feeling like giving in before coming close to reaching half a marathon (13 miles) I was reassured by this thought, and became more determined and kept walking. I walked around the track many more times after this converstation but finally gave in between 4 and 5 am. I walked just over 15 miles by the time the night was over.

In the end my feet ended up badly blistered and I admit that it’s been 2 days and I’m still feeling the effects of relaying – but I am confident I will recover from these minor injuries. The physical discomfort from experience relaying does not compare to the challenges cancer brings.

So who knows, maybe next year I’ll be able to double how far I relay. 🙂

Published in: on April 21, 2009 at 6:05 am  Comments (2)  

Celebrating the Life of Richard Kern

Though we’ve been saddened by the loss of Jason’s father last Thursday, we have since come to celebrate his father’s life. On Sunday a visitation/wake service was held in Fort Branch, Indiana with close family and friends. It was a beautiful service where we all found ourselves remembering Jason’s father. I hope to have a slideshow that was on display at the services posted soon. In the meantime, I have a few moments from the last two days of our trip to share.

Remembering Richard Kern

One of the best parts of the trip was that we were able to reunite with family. I managed to snap one photo of the four Kern boys before the visitation.

Four Kern boys

We’re confident their father would be proud of the bond his four oldest sons made with their half brother and sister, Zach and Abby who are only 9 and 10. One of the saddest thoughts for me of this entire experience is that these two children will move on with life at such a young age, without their father.

The Kern kids

Jason’s family is catholic so Jason chose to place these rosary beads in his father’s casket. We bought these beads during our trip to Jerusalem in 1997 – so we’ve always found them to be a special memento from the Holy Land.

Rosary

THE FUNERAL
We all drove from Ft Branch, Indiana to Bloomington, Illinois after the visitation for the funeral which was held Monday morning at St Mary’s church. It was a touching catholic ceremony where we were surrounded by close family and friends.

THE EULOGY
Jason agreed to give the eulogy at his father’s funeral. It was tough, but he did an amazing job – especially considering how tough the experience has been for him personally. We’ve had several people ask to read the eulogy so we’ve decided to post it on our blog.

George Patton once said:

“It is foolish to mourn those who have died, Rather we should thank God that they have lived.”

Growing up over the years I found my father to be a strong man. As we gather today to remember my father, I think it’s important that we not forget the man we all loved over the years. Though many of us recognize many of his struggles since my mother passed way, his strength is evident in how influential he has been in many of our lives.

Let us not forget…

…the man who was father to us five sons and one daughter.

He was a loving Husband – to my mother, who he never stopped loving, even after she passed away.

He was a step father helping provide love and support to – Randall, Katie, and Derek

He was the oldest of seven children.

He was an Uncle.

He was a grandfather. Sadly his grandchildren Hope, Tyler, Jaylen,  Brylie and his fifth grandchild expected this summer won’t get to know Grandpa Kern as well as they should.

He was a well respected little league baseball and football coach – giving confidence to many children. When he coached us boys it was something we looked forward to because it always meant we got to spend more time with him.

Let us not forget he was a die hard vikings fan. His affection for the purple and gold infected all of us …and still affects us today.

And of course, it’s tough to forget that he was known to have the Snore of a northern grizzly bear.

As we remember my father and we begin to feel sad about our loss, I’d much rather us all remember the memorable moments we all shared with him.

Moments like…

Our Trip to Kentucky when Dad left Adam at gas station.

And then there were the many moments wrestling in the living room with Dad. Many times Josh was encouraged to booty bopp Dad. The consequences of wrestling with Dad often ended with Dad bouncing our heads off his belly.

Or the time Adam and I both sliced our thumbs open with our swiss army knives – after Dad told us not to play with them unless he was around.

We’ll always remember endless hours of volleyball in the pool at Grandma Kern’s house.

Let us remember moments like when Dad use to drive several hours to pick up Terri to see us and my Mom while she was in college.

Though my father left us with many wonderful memories, I think we all recognize my father’s stubbornness over the years. Since our mother passed away he became a man who isolated himself. He was often unwilling to ask for help. I admit, I find myself before you today, living with much regret – wishing I had told him…wishing WE had told him… exactly how we felt these past sixteen years since we lost our mother. This past Thursday as I was present with my brothers when my father passed away, we all found ourselves thinking – If only…

If only…
We had taken more time to visit.
If only…
We had called him a little more.
If only…
We had found a way to keep him closer, when we all knew how much he was hurting.
If only…
We weren’t just as stubborn as our father.
If only…
We had more time with him…more time to tell him just how much we appreciate what he’s done for us all these years.
If only…
We had more time with him…more time to tell him how strong he’s helped us become.
If only…
We had more time with him…more time to tell him just how much we do love him.

As we mourn today, let my father’s passing be a constant reminder of all we’ve learned because of him. It’s important to remember that the story does not end here. His passing has opened a new chapter, a new chapter in all our lives. Let it be a reminder – a reminder that life does go on.

May we always remember…This man we all loved dearly who is now comforted beside our mother in heaven. Both are undoubtedly looking down proudly on the strong family we have before us today.

I’d like to leave you with these parting words from a poem that was shared with a few of us yesterday by my Aunt Allison:

Remember me with smiles and laughter,
For that is how I will remember you all.
If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all,
When I go home to heaven,
How joyful it will be,
For on that day my risen Lord I’ll see,
So why should earthly cares weigh down upon me so –
They will be a distant memory when home at last I go.

Published in: on February 12, 2009 at 12:26 am  Comments (1)  

Rest in Peace Dad

“Let us be silent so that we may hear the whisper of God.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Shortly after 1 p.m. today Jason’s father passed away peacefully, surrounded by several of us who cared for him most. Sadly we lost his father today – a man who should have had so much more life to live passed away at the age of 52.

After meeting with the neurologist this morning we were informed in detail of the heart attack he suffered Monday where he was found not breathing for an extended period of time. Though he was resuscitated on Monday we were told that he had only a 1% chance of living beyond these circumstances. After undergoing many tests it was determined that he was unresponsive and his condition was declining. Collectively our family decided it was in his best interest, and the interest of our family to allow him to live out the last moments of his life peacefully surrounded by those who cared dearly for him.

Though the recent medical problems he’s endured these last few years have brought him much pain – we all know in our hearts how much his heart has hurt since Jason’s mother passed away. We are all certain that he is now comforted beside Jason’s mother in heaven, undoubtedly looking down proudly on the strong family they’ve created.

Currently arrangements are still being made for a visitation service to be held in Evansville, Indiana. The funeral will follow in Bloomington, Illinois where his father will be laid to rest beside Jason’s mother.

Thank you all for your warm wishes in this time of mourning.

Published in: on February 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm  Comments (11)