Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It has been one year today . . .


since the passing of my beautiful cousin Katherine Razzolini. Her friends and family called her Kerry. She was walking with some friends when she was struck and killed by a drunk driver who fled the scene and was later apprehended.

When I think of Kerry, I don't like to think of that night. My mind just can't make sense of it - someone driving away and leaving my beautiful cousin there. My heart feels such rage and overwhelming anger while my head knows this preoccupation accomplishes nothing. Kerry is gone and life for those who knew her is changed forever.


Kerry was only 22 years old. She was working and finishing a college degree when her life was tragically cut short. Amazingly beautiful inside and out, she was truly remarkable. So outgoing and friendly, Kerry's smile only hinted at her real beauty - her incredible zest for life that was so contagious it was almost palpable. She didn't sit on the sidelines watching as life passed her by. She dove right in - completely immersing herself - never missing an opportunity or experience. She lived her life almost as if she had somehow known her time here on earth would be too short. Much too short.

Our families would spend Labor Day weekends together at the cabin in Steamburg, NY. I feel her presence there more than anywhere else, almost as if the hills cradle her precious memory. Our gatherings there will never be the same. Nothing will ever be the same without her because someone chose to drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Instead of being angry, I want to try as hard as I can to find the lesson. The lesson that will tell me what I already know - that her life had purpose, a divine purpose that I can only begin to understand.


I remember watching her parents at her funeral and wondering how they were still standing. They stood TOGETHER in unimaginable grief. They bravely stood next to Kerry greeting visitors, her father with his arm around her mother. It was as if he was holding her up, steadying her, channeling his strength into her with his embrace. I remember thinking what a good, strong man he was and it made me thank God that I am married to a good man too. A man who doesn't need to say a word but steadies me by his presence alone.


I hugged Megan a lot tighter that day and every day since then. I've tried to fill our days with love and not waste a single moment we have together. I've made a conscious effort to make sure I'm living my life, throwing myself into everything (just like Kerry.) None of us can really be sure if we have one day, one week, one year, or one lifetime left here. Because of Kerry, I want to make sure that when it is over for me, I've filled my days with as much joy as I could cram in, loving and REALLY LIVING life as she did.


Her death touched me in a very personal way and changed me for the better. I'm sure this must have somehow been part of the divine plan. Also part of that plan were the people who received the loving gift of her organs -her final act of selflessness and love. The plan must have included all the people who became better, stronger, and more loving for having known Kerry.

The message is likely different for all of us. Some may think twice before getting behind the wheel while drunk. Some may become organ donors, inspired by her story. Whatever the case may be, the one thing I know for sure is the world is a much better place because it was graced by her soul for 22 years.

She is an angel now.

But if you really think about it, an angel is what she had always been.





Sunday, September 28, 2008

Viva Mexico - Part Tres

Day #3 - Chichen Itza!!!!!

I hope you're not tired of hearing every detail of our vacation yet. I'm not even halfway done!

So . . .

the day began EARLY. We boarded a tour bus and attempted to remain calm! It was the day of mucho anticipation . . . the autumnal equinox . . . and we were headed to Chichen Itza.

It was a very long ride through dense jungle. We left the Mexican state of Quintana Roo and entered the state of Yucatan. We were slightly alarmed to see the Mexican military along the sides of the road wearing machine guns. Apparently, the drug violence in that particular part of the nation is quite severe. Gulp! (My research hadn't indicated this problem.)

We stopped at a BUFFET restaurant that had the best paprika pork I have ever had. (Actually, the only paprika pork I've ever had. And I am not even a huge fan of pork. We were told it was a regional specialty and it was de-lish!)

The restaurant had Mexican dancers who, of course, wanted a tip when they were done.


It was raining on and off during the bus ride (which was nearly 3 hours long.)

We arrived at the Cenote Segrado . . . (and it stopped raining!)
(Sacred Cenote)


It was the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever seen. This picture doesn't even do it justice because of the difficult lighting situation. It was so perfect it looked like a movie set.

Just in case you don't know, cenotes are common in the Yucatan region of Mexico. They are sinkholes where ground water is exposed. The Yucatan doesn't have any above ground rivers - only underground. Interesting, huh?


He said the water was really COLD.

My big regret of the trip - I didn't swim in the cenote. I was so anxious to actually get to Chichen Itza that my 'one-track mind' was irritated we were making this stop. By the time I saw how gorgeous it was, it was too late to change into my swim suit.




Are you ready for your history lesson today? I'll try to keep it short.

This place is called the Cenote Segrado (Sacred Cenote) because the ancient Mayans used it for human sacrifice. In 1904, Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the bottom of this cenote and found human skeletons (some children - that makes me sad) and sacrificial objects. The Mayans made sacrifices here to the god of water, Chaak.

FINALLY, we arrived at Chichen Itza. I followed around our tour guide like a puppy, thirsty for every drop of information he was giving, always moving to the front so I didn't miss a word.

The Mayans were great sportsmen and built huge ballcourts to play their games.

The ballcourt was 545 feet long and 225 feet long!


WITHOUT THE USE OF HANDS???

. . . and you thought Ohio State football players were talented


Many archeologists believe the captain of the WINNING team would present his head to the losing team's captain. To the Mayans, this was a "sacred death" and considered an honor.

Other "sacred deaths" included dying while giving birth to your first child (I only thought I was dying - doesn't count,) and hanging oneself. (no thanks)

A carving of the beheading process.

AM I BORING YOU?? I hope not. Don't you think it is fascinating???

See the ballcourt off to the left?




And now for the main event:


The Temple of Kukulkan


The Mayans were quite advanced in their knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. We only know a small fraction of their secrets thanks to Friar Diego Landa, the Franciscan who burned most of their writings, believing them to be satanists.

This is a shot of all the people gathering on the lawn next to the temple to see the equinox effect.

The energy in the air was absolutely electric.

There were several points during the day when I stopped just to take it all in - this was one of them. It was one of several moments I got tears in my eyes and honestly thanked God for the privilege to see such a place.

Did the equinox effect happen? Click below to find out.

(Aren't you glad I discovered this feature on my camera? Do you want me to shut up now?)


I wasn't too disappointed. The equinox happens twice every year . . . just another reason to go back someday. ha!

In all honesty, it was so HOT and steamy there. If it had been sunny it would have been borderline unbearable. The clouds were a blessing in disguise.

To see what should have happened during the equinox, click here

I'll shut up now.

Viva Mexico

Don't you just hate it when people return from vacations and want to bore you with five billion photos showing you every moment of the trip, going on and on about how much fun they had, assuming you actually care?????

Sorry about your luck.


Day #1 -



We had to get up at the crack of dawn and board our flight from Columbus to Cancun.



When we landed in Cancun, it looked like we were going to plop down right in the middle of the jungle.
When we got to the resort, it was still too early to check in. We changed into our bathing suits and hit the beach and pool while we waited for the room to be ready.




After swimming for a while, we moved our stuff into the room and changed for dinner.




It didn't take me long to figure out that I was in Mexico with "Vacation John" rather than "Ohio John." V.J. acted silly, laughed at just about nothing, and didn't seem to have a care in the world. Don't worry, he still pulled the strings of his swim shorts really tight "just to make sure they didn't fly off" and took an inventory of all items in the beach bag, double checking to make sure we weren't forgetting anything crucial for a day at the beach. I love my responsible, organized husband! It was fun to see him cut loose (as much as he possibly can!)




Instant party animal - just add cervesa!





Our self-portrait at dinner

Viva Mexico - Part Dos

Day Two -
The view from our room was gorgeous. The resort had four huge pools and one of them was in front of our room.

On our balcony

Other side of the balcony

Didn't you ever hear that Mexico is all about bribery?

We were in critical need of supplies in the wet bar of our room!

John laughed when he saw this note and called it my "SPANGLISH." ha, ha

Pretty view from our room


Iguanas that roamed the outside of the resort.
Now, before you view the next two pictures I want you to imagine this . . .
Imagine someone offered you $70 U.S. dollars to attend a "short" time share presentation.
Imagine you thought this might be an easy way to make some money (until you realized $70 at this resort wouldn't get you very far, and was pretty much the equivalent of $5 at home.)
Imagine you asked for a VIRGIN pina colada. (After all, it was before noon.)
Imagine the time share guy thought you might just say yes to his bad deal if he made your drink really, really strong and really, really big.
Imagine you drank that whole drink super fast (partly because you were so bored and partly because it was 950 degrees in the shade) and never once tasted a hint of alcohol in it.
Then imagine you had to go to the bathroom really badly and realized when you stood up that you were certainly drunk.
Imagine you started talking to yourself in the mirror of the bathroom, "You, my friend, are drunk. Yep, I think you are! You silly girl. You silly, silly drunk girl. You are drunk."
We left the time share presentation, luckily without a time share of our own. Then this happened.


Funny, that was the biggest, strongest pina colada I was served all week. Oh well. Later that day, we swam and just enjoyed ourselves.


I have a weird tradition of posing with the towel animals on our bed.





And just to spice up this boring account of every detail of our vacation (if you're even still reading this,) here is a video I took with the camera at dinner. I didn't even know the camera had this feature. Lucky you!




Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm Back!!!

Hola . . .

It is Lisa again . . . back from our adventures in the Yucatan. We had an amazing time . . . the resort was stunning, the water was the most perfect shade of turquoise, and we are tanned (me, not so much) and RELAXED.

I'll post more pics soon. Just a teaser for you . . .

The most perfect moment of my life
(after, of course, my wedding day and Megan's birth)
I saw it with my own eyeballs!!
The Temple of Kukulkan
Check back soon for more vacation pics!
P.S.
Dear Katie,
Thank you for guest blogging while I was away. You are the coolest little sister in the world. I'm glad you are ready to TURBO JAM because the "exercise Nazi" is back from a week of pina coladas and all-you-can-eat buffets. Put on your shorts . . . I'm on my way!
Lisa

Dear John and Lisa,

Welcome home. I hope you had a great time in Mexico. You were missed...by me.

Some things you missed this week:

* Your brother and mine cut his knee with a chain saw (not off, but enough for stitches). It wasn't pretty. I have cell phone pictures if you'd like to see :) He tried to waive the pain medicine in the ER but they insisted. Anyway, he is just fine and back to his old self.

* I gained 5lbs. I only did Turbo Jam twice. I need my exercising buddy back...

* Mrs. Keller called me on Thursday and my heart sank when your number came up on my cell phone. My heart was racing. Thankfully, it was a car seat problem and Justin went over and fixed it. He did give me minute by minute Megan updates for the 3 minutes he was there and she seemed fine.. darn. I was hoping she was screaming for me.... she wasn't.

* Ma and Pa closed on the cabin. I've name it "chateau le Kate" - I'm not sure if that is correct french - I took Spanish. Casa de Kate is catchy too - feel free to use either one.

* It was a pretty boring week.

SO I hope you come home in one piece and full of energy. Turbo Jam starts up again tomorrow. No time like the present.

Really, I can't wait to see all the pictures. Thanks for letting me take over your blog for the week. I missed you both and little Megan. I'll see you at Church in the morning - but at the end. I wouldn't mind if Colin actually stayed quiet and if he sees Megan, it's all over. I am thinking we might all need some CB for breakfast, you in???

Welcome home.

xoxoxoxo,
Katie

Friday, September 26, 2008

soon...

Lisa and St. John should be home tomorrow! I didn't post much this week, but enough to make this your new favorite blog, huh?! haha.

So a few months ago, Lisa and I drove a LONG way to meet two of the GREATEST cousins anyone could ever ask for. Sara and Mary live in Texas and we only see them once a year on our annual girl's trip. It's amazing how close I feel to them living this far away, but they make it so easy. We really have so much fun. I can hear Sara's laugh and Mary's giggle right now :)

I think Lisa has more pictures so she'll have to update this post. I just realized that all of my pictures were taken the first night at dinner.. Sorry :).








Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Maggie Moo


Since this is Lisa's blog, here are some pictures of Megan...









and because they grow up soooo fast...


Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh Lisa...

I thought this was too funny.

blog readability test

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Guest Blogger

So - Lisa is out of town and I am guest blogging for her. She was a little nervous, so hopefully I keep the embarrassing moments to a minimum! By the way, this is Lisa's sister - you can read about me here.

Anyway, I have a few posts up my sleeve for the week. I decided to keep the first one very nice! It is a post dedicated to my wonderful sister.

Lisa is amazing! She is truly my best friend and life would be terrible without her! It's only been two days since we've talked and I already miss her. I look forward to her morning call at 9:00am and tomorrow will be the most difficult.

Here are some random things about her-

* She can dance like no other! Really, you should see her get down. ha. She prefers some good 80's tunes if you would like to get her in the mood.

* Her baking. She makes the most beautiful cakes ever. I keep telling her to go pro but she just won't listen.

* She can make a wet paper bag fun. Spending 11 hours in the car with her and never getting bored is not abnormal for a trip with Lisa.

* Her love for politics. As far back as I can remember, she has always loved good political drama!

* She is super smart. I mean super duper smart. I have to tell this story because it is so funny. Lisa was telling me on one of our road trips that John's family is so smart and they always ask her what she is reading or something like that - she wasn't reading much at the time and asked me if Soap Opera Digest would be an appropriate enough reply... haha. Only Lisa.

* She loves Lost, General Hospital, Dr. somebody on TLC - maybe G, Grey's, Jack's Big Music Show, the color pink, scrapbooking, blogging, her sister, blog stalking, talking on the phone, singing her 80's tunes (and early 90's), vacations, the Carribean, and so much more - but I have to go make my family dinner!

Oh Leaper, hope you are having a blast in Mexico. Look forward to some enjoyable posts this week :) Here is a little picture of Lisa to get you by...


Friday, September 19, 2008

We're Off to the Mayan Riviera

Well, not yet exactly. Our plane takes off tomorrow morning and then we'll be off.

I'm going to miss Megan so badly I get tears in my eyes every time I think about not seeing her for a week. Every morning her beautiful brown eyes are the first thing I see when I open my eyes. She stands next to my bed and says, "Mommy, the sun came up! Wake up mommy. I want "breakist." Wanna make "panpakes?" Since I'm not a morning person, John usually goes off to work before I am even awake and sweet Megan is my wake up call.

For the next week, John's beautiful brown eyes will be the first thing I see every morning. While I really hate to leave Megan, I realize having a full week to devote only to each other is great for our marriage and subsequently good for Megan. It reminds me of the advice flight attendants give - "Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting anyone else." This week TOGETHER is our oxygen mask - taking care of "us" first. We see it as an investment in our marriage rather than just a vacation. Reminding myself of that will help me pry myself away from my sleeping baby tomorrow morning and say good bye for a week.

Mom and Dad K. are here to hold down the fort. I told Mom K. she would get bonus points if Megan was fully potty trained when I return. ha, ha

I'll post some pics when we return. I'll miss all of you . . . and if you see my brown-eyed girl, give her a big hug from me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Summer Moments

Since summer is coming to a close very quickly, I wanted to share some pics that may not have made it to the blog (and some that have.) Enjoy!


May 17, 2008 - Loves, loves, loves bubbles



May 31, 2008 - Buckeye the friendly donkey




June 8, 2008 - Saying goodbye to "Fly Guy the Butterfly" on the patio


June 12, 2008 - Mommy going crazy making birthday cakes



June 14, 2008 - Happy Second Birthday sweet girl




June 15, 2008 - Enjoying ice cream in pajamas at Rocky's - Happy Father's Day!


June 28, 2008 - Say goodbye to the recalled crib, say hello to countless sleepless nights


July 13, 2008 - Megan can swim all by herself (sort of)


July 21, 2008 - Megan runs into the sprinkler fully clothed - mom and dad just look at each other and say, "What the heck, she's having fun." They didn't realize the NEXT time Megan would see a sprinkler (while fully clothed) she would try to run into it. Very funny.



August 1, 2008 - Fun at the public pool




September 4, 2008- Eating watermelon from our garden


September 7, 2008 - Where is my mother? My daddy, bless his heart, dressed me today and took this picture.


September 16, 2008 - Still afraid of the carousel at the zoo, even with mommy riding with me


Bye, bye summer!