Friday, June 28, 2013

This Past Month and What the Future Holds...

In my last post, I shared about our wedding anniversary celebration.  As you all know, that was a month ago.  So what's happened around here since then?

To be honest, not much that was earth-shattering.  It took Robby a few days to recover from being out in the cold for so long, and then he was back to his normal self.  We had a couple of nice, mild sunny weeks when things were great.  Faith and I arranged a couple more playdates so Emilie and Sara could play together.  

I blush to admit that I still have not sung to Robby.  Do any of you ever feel something so strongly in the heat of an emotional moment that you feel like nothing can keep you from your goal, only to find yourself feeling much less passionate about it when the moment has passed?  Beast'sbelle says it's because I'm dramatic like she is.  Whatever the reason, I've managed to rationalize and talk myself out of singing to him all this month.  But I have not given up.  I am determined to find the perfect opportunity to sing from my soul.  My husband deserves no less.

Around the second week of June, the temperature rose to over 100 degrees.  In Beast'sbelle's little house with just a swamp cooler, that sort of weather is nearly unbearable, especially in her bedroom (where all of us dolls live).  It's at the back of the house and gets the brunt of the hot, afternoon sun.  We were all pretty sluggish.

Poor Robby had it the worst.  Cold weather makes his bad joint and armature hard and stiff, while hot weather makes them soft and unstable.  I was feeling melty and miserable enough myself, so I can only imagine what he must have been going through. :(  He kept stumbling because his knee and hip just couldn't hold up.  It got so bad that by the end of the week he was pretty much confined to our shelf and couldn't even stand.

To her credit, Beast'sbelle was very concerned about him during this time.  She thought that it might help things if we weren't right in front of the window anymore.  Even though our foam core board wall was protecting us from direct sunlight, it still got really toasty on our shelf.

She thought and planned and finally decided that the best place for us would be back on top of the curio.  She discussed it with us first to make sure we were okay with the change.  I was willing to try anything that would help Robby.  I know make a lot of comments about the way Beast'sbelle is constantly rearranging things, but this was one time when I didn't mind. ;)

And here is our new home!  It's nothing overly fancy, but it works just right for us.  The wall is made of cardboard and covered with an elegant scrapbook paper Beast'sbelle found that looks a lot like wallpaper.  She also made us a floor out of foam core board covered in contact paper.  The new floor gives us a little more floor space than the top of the curio did, and with the three of us living there, every extra centimeter is appreciated! ;)

We still have our tin and our little mini table that serve as chairs.  Eventually, I'd really like to get some proper seating, something a little more elegant...and comfortable. ;)  

Robby is sitting right where our friends normally enter the room.  The white shelves right next to this side of our room make it convenient for them to climb up.

We talked to Beast'sbelle after our anniversary, and she agreed to let us keep the comfortable zebra blanket and pillow we used.  She had offered to make us another bed like we used to have, but it takes up way too much space.  Having a bed we can roll up and put away is much more convenient for us.  We do have to let her 18" dolls borrow the blanket when they travel, however. ;)

Her is our dresser.  While I really love this piece, it probably won't be around too much longer.  It just takes up way too much space in our little room.  I'm hoping to find a tall, narrow jewelry organizer that I can use for a bookshelf.  It would take up less space but still be able to hold our things. :)

One of the most fun things about the new arrangements is that Emilie now has her very own bed.  She was so excited when Beast'sbelle gave it to her. :)  

She now has her own little corner in the room.  We're eventually hoping to paint her shelf (and fill it with a few more toys and do-dads.  Emilie also requested a little dog bed for Toto, so we'd like to find something for that.

Other things I'd love to add are more pictures on the walls and a rug for the floor.  We've never had a space so completely our own as a family, so I'm having fun dreaming and planning the decorations. ;)  We've been happily settled in our new home for a week or two now, so hopefully we'll be able to make the changes soon.  

There's not much else I have to update you on, so I think you can all officially consider yourselves completely caught up with my life. ;)

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, however, I have a little more to share.  I've been thinking a lot about the blog lately and what my goals are.  

When I published my first post on Tess and Maggie's blog in October of 2010 (goodness, how the time has flown!), I was at a place in my life where I really needed an outlet.  I was alone in a room of pristine Belle dolls who all sang like angels and weren't really thrilled with the fact that I was free and deboxed.  Blogging gave me a way to get my thoughts out in the open and deal with my constant feelings of inferiority.  

Much has changed since those early days.  I met Rapunzel and Eugene and formed a lifelong friendship.  I met Robby, and although it took me a while to realize it, I found my hero and soul mate in him.  I met Ben and lost my heart for a time.  There were other friends and acquaintances who have come and gone:  Marguerite, Raoul, Isabella, and Tiana.  Each of them hold a special place in my heart and will never be forgotten.  And of course, I met my sweet little Emilie and filled a void I never even knew existed.  Through Emilie, I met Faith and made a new friend.  And all the while, Beast'sbelle has woven herself throughout our lives, sometimes a benevolent overseer, other times a pesky meddler, but a part of things nonetheless.  

All of you, my dearest readers, have lived through these moments with me, encouraging me with your wonderful comments and making yourselves a part of my insignificant little plastic life.  I truly could not have accomplished all I have without you.

I look over my life and find it so different from the life that lonely little Belle doll was living three years ago.  I love blogging, but I don't need it like I did before.  I'm also finding that my life as a married doll and a mom is making it difficult for me to continue blogging as regularly as I'd like to.  The blog has become a burden rather than a release.  

I've thought and cried and agonized and discussed things with Robby, Rapunzel and Beast'sbelle, and I've come to the conclusion that it is nearly time for the end of this chapter.  It's an extremely difficult decision for me.  This blog has been a huge part of my life.  But I feel that it has served its purpose, and the time has come for me to move on.

I will continue blogging long enough to celebrate my two year Blogoversary in October.  (In reality, I will be celebrating three years of blogging, since I blogged for a year on Tess and Maggie's blog before starting my own.)  But at some point in time after my Blogoversary, I will be saying goodbye to the blogging world.  

I'll still keep my Facebook page open even after the blog is finished, so you'll still get to see glimpses of my life after October.  And up until I finish the blog, I hope to post more regularly...depending on what I have to write about. ;)  I'm also announcing this several months ahead of time so you'll all have time to get used to the idea.  I didn't want to drop this sort of news a few days before it was to happen. :}

I want to thank all of you for your support over the past three years.  You've made this the most wonderful, incredible journey, and I will never forget you.

But that's enough of that sort of talk for now...I'll save my nice, long tearful speech for October!! ;)  For now, let's just enjoy these last few months together.  Who knows what the coming weeks will bring?  

The very last picture taken on our old shelf! ;)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our First Anniversary

Before I knew it, I was back in my wedding dress with my hair perfectly in place and Rapunzel was escorting me back to our shelf.  The plan was that I would meet Robby there, and then Rapunzel would take Emilie so we could enjoy our anniversary celebration with just the two of us.  We would pick her up from Rapunzel and Eugene's place in the morning.

When we got there, we found Robby waiting in his tuxedo (my, he looked handsome!). ;)  Emilie was, as always, playing with Toto and sitting on the tin that served as one of our seats.

I felt as nervous as I used to back before we were married.  What if Robby hated my hair?  Rapunzel had her arm linked through mine, and she gave my elbow a little squeeze as if to reassure me.

I suppose I shouldn't have worried.  The look of pleasant surprise on my husband's face assured me that he still thought I was the most beautiful doll in the room. ;)

Emilie's little pixie-like face brightened when she saw me.  "Mommy, you look just like a princess!" she told me in awe.  

I laughed nervously at her comment.  I never had figured out what to do when I was the center of attention.  I also caught the irony of her comment.  I supposed I should look like a princess since I technically was supposed to be one. ;)

"Come with me, Emilie," Rapunzel told my daughter kindly.  "It's time to go so your mommy and daddy can enjoy their anniversary together."

"Okay," Emilie said simply, stopping only to scoop up her stuffed rabbit Posy before she rushed to Rapunzel's side.  "Have fun, Mommy and Daddy!" she told us in her sweet little voice.

"We will," I responded with a smile.  "You have fun with Uncle Eugene and Aunt Rapunzel, too.  Be a good girl, okay?"

Emilie nodded in a distracted sort of way, her mind doubtlessly already thinking about the fun she would have with her "cousins".

I turned my attention to Rapunzel.  "Thank you so much...for everything."

My best friend nodded and gave me the smile I knew so well.  "No problem," she assured me.  She looked down at Emilie.  "Are you ready?"

After a nod from my daughter, the two of them left, and Robby and I were alone.

My husband lost no time in closing the distance between us.  He took my hand and seemed to take in every inch of my face and hair, his eyes showing his appreciation.  "Belle, you look beautiful," he told me.  He looked at me as though I were some sort of amazing vision of loveliness.  I always felt a little weird when he did that, even after a year of marriage, but I was so thankful that he approved of my new look, I didn't stress over his awe as much as I normally did. ;)

Without another word, he reached into the inside pocket of his tuxedo jacket and pulled out a beautiful necklace that sparkled in the warm glow of the Christmas lights.  I gasped in surprise.

"Happy Anniversary, Darling," he told me warmly.

"Oh, Robby, it's beautiful!" I told him happily.  "I wasn't expecting...I mean...thank you so much."

A pleased smile spread over his features.  He motioned for me to turn around.

I did, lifting my hair in the process.  His fingers were gentle against my neck as he carefully worked the clasp.

When he was finished, he turned me around so I was facing him again.  I looked down at the double loop of gems around my neck and couldn't help grinning like a school girl.  

"Thank you." I repeated softly.

He touched my nose with his.  "You're welcome, wife of mine."  He backed up and looked at me in a scrutinizing manner, then gave a pleased little nod.  "It suits you perfectly."

"Well then, I guess you have good taste," I teased him.

He took my hand again and winked.  "I most certainly do." 

I knew he was talking about more than the necklace.

"You can also wear it as a longer necklace," he informed me, "but I figured it would look best as a double loop with the neckline of your dress."  He gently fingered the satin on my shoulder.  "Great choice, by the way.  I'd always hoped I'd see you in it again sometime."

I blushed.  "It was Rapunzel's idea.  I thought it might look a little too weddingy."

He gave me an amused look.  "Is that even a word?"

I rolled my eyes.  "Rapunzel asked me the same thing.  I don't know.  It sounded good enough to me."

Before he could say more about it, I sprung away from him.  "And now, it's time for your gift!"

I bent over and pulled a large, silver frame out from under the dresser on our shelf.  I hoped he hadn't seen it before this.  I'd stashed it rather quickly one day and never found a better hiding place.

Straightening up, I held the frame up for him to see.  "Happy Anniversary," I said rather bashfully.  I felt bad that I'd only given him a picture when he'd given me such a beautiful gift.

You'd never know it was an inferior gift to look at my husband.  His eyes lit up as if I'd given him a priceless treasure of jewels and gems.  "Thank you," he said in his simple, straight forward way.  "I've been wanting to get a family picture of the three of us up.  This one will be perfect."

I put my hands behind my back and played with my fingers nervously.  "I'm sorry it's...not anything spectacular.  I didn't really know what to get..."

Robby carefully set the picture down and placed his hands on my shoulders.  "It's perfect," he insisted.  "Just what I wanted."  He kissed me tenderly.  "But now, we'd better get going.  We have a date!"  And with another wink, he took me by the hand and pulled me toward the edge of the shelf.  

I giggled at his playful manner and followed him down the side of the shelf.  I watched as he crawled down the side of Beast'sbelle's big dresser, happy at the relative ease with which he was able to move.  He was much slower than he'd been before his accident, and he seemed a little stiffer than usual today, but it was still such an improvement from those first few months.

We walked all the way down the hallway to the huge living room.  I noticed that the front door was slightly ajar and hid a smile.  Beast'sbelle must have been Robby's fellow conspirator.

When we reached the front door, Robby turned back to me with a boyish grin.  "Are you ready?"

I nodded, and he pushed the door open.  

The first things I noticed were the instant chill of the outside air, the whistle of the strong breeze that was blowing, and the overcast sky.  Rapunzel had been did look like rain.  I gave Robby a sideways glance, hoping that the rain hadn't forced him to change his plans too much.

Then I noticed a little picnic set up at the end of the front porch.  That must be our destination.

As I suspected, Robby led us right over to the picnic blanket.  

It looked lovely.  There was a basket with my wedding rose bouquet resting gently on top of it.  There was a large bottle of Mountain Dew Code Red and two little purple mugs, the same ones we'd used on the day Robby proposed to me.  I once again found myself trying to hide my expression.  I never had told him how much I detested Mountain Dew.  Oh well...too late now!  I could survive one more mug full for my husband's sake. ;)

There were also three pink plates laid out.  Two of them had some sort of chicken and what looked like chow mein noodles just our size.  The third plate had a loaf of bread, presumably for us to share.

The last rather large object on the blanket was the big red candle that Robby had complained about before because it was too smelly for him.  

Robby frowned when he saw the candle.  "It was supposed to be lit."  He examined it closer.  "It looks like she did light it."  He looked up at the sky.  "I guess the wind was too strong."

"That's okay," I said quickly, trying to make him feel better.  "It still looks pretty.  And it smells divine...although I'm kind of surprised  you chose to use it.  Didn't it give you a headache before?"

He looked over at me sheepishly.  "Yes, but I knew you liked it.  I figured it wouldn't be as bad in the open air."

He motioned for me to take a seat, and I did.  It was too bad we didn't have a larger picnic blanket.  The cement of the front porch was FREEZING.  I could feel my plastic hardening with the cold within moments.  I hoped it wouldn't be too much for Robby's joints.

After Robby had poured each of us a cup of Mountain Dew Code Red (which, by the way, I drank without giving away my distaste...I think), we started with our chicken and chow mein.  Robby said he'd asked Beast'sbelle to get it from one of her favorite restaurants, Panda Express.  It was delicious!  I could see why Beast'sbelle's family loved to eat there.

In spite of the pleasant time we were having, it didn't take long for the cold to overwhelm me.  I tried to keep my shivering from being too obvious.  I didn't want Robby to feel bad.  This was the second time one of his dates had been sabotaged by cold weather.  Maybe I should have chosen one of the long-sleeved dresses, I thought to myself.   

Apparently I wasn't as subtle as I thought, because the next thing I knew, Robby was behind me, offering me his jacket.  

"Are you sure?" I asked him.  "I don't want you to be too cold."

"I was getting too hot anyway," he said, draping the jacket over my shoulders.

I put my arms through the sleeves and instantly felt warmer.  "Thanks," I said, squeezing his hand appreciatively.

He nodded, staring into my face.  "That's better.  Your lips aren't blue anymore."

"My lips weren't..." I began indignantly, then realized he was joking.  "Har, har.  Very funny"

With a chuckle, Robby went back to his seat and opened up the picnic basket.  "Time for dessert," he announced.

He took two delicious looking chocolate cups of some kind out of the basket and put them on two more pink plates.

"What kind of chocolates are they?" I asked him.

"Um...I'm not sure, exactly," he admitted.  "Beast'sbelle found them for me.  They looked pretty good though.  Want to try them?"

I nodded.  Chocolate was chocolate, no matter what flavor it was.  I was sure it would be yummy.

It was delicious!  Some sort of creamy chocolate peanut butter type concoction.  

Robby seemed to enjoy his as well as I did.  We each sampled bites of the other's chocolate.  Robby's was yummy, too, but I liked mine the best.

When we were finished and had cleaned up from our meal, I came around to Robby's side of the blanket and sat next to him.  We looked out over the yard where we'd been married one year ago on this very day.

As we sat, we talked about our wedding day and the memories we had.  I complained about my uncomfortable veil. Robby admitted how he'd nearly lost his balance when he'd seen me coming because I looked so incredibly beautiful.  I told him how much I'd loved his song, then hoped I hadn't chosen the wrong subject.  I still had not sung to Robby as I'd meant to.  I'd thought of singing to him for an anniversary gift, but right now didn't seem like the best time.  (Yes, I was totally stalling.  I'm good at that.) ;)  If he thought of the connection, he didn't mention it.  Instead, he moved on to the guests, those who were still with us and those who had moved on to other homes.  I mentioned the beautiful weather of the day and our heart-shaped Reese's that had served as our wedding cake.

Then, for a while, we sat there quietly, lost in our own thoughts and memories. 

Robby broke the silence first.  "My original plan was to have our picnic beneath our wedding tree," he admitted, "but the rain ruined that idea.  I thought this would be the next best thing, sitting here looking over at the place where were married a year ago."

"We could at least walk over there for a while," I suggested.

Robby looked at my dress skeptically.  "It's pretty wet..."

"Oh, it's just a dress, and it's fraying anyway.  Come on, it'll be fun!" I said with enthusiasm.

He shook his head at me, a small smile playing on his lips.  "How can I refuse?"

So Robby grabbed his cane, I pulled his jacket tighter around my waist, and we set off.  

It was quite an ordeal trekking across the soggy ground and fighting the sharp breeze, but we finally made it.

Once we arrived at the tree, we huddled together out of the way of the wind.  I rubbed the sides of my arms to keep warm, and Robby massaged my back.

After a while, Robby leaned against the tree and sat down.  He tried to make it look casual, but I could tell his joints were fatigued.  To make him feel better, I sat down too, realizing that my white dress would probably never be the same.

I picked up a leaf and traced the pattern of its veins beneath my fingers.

I was always amazed at the beauty of the plant life we encountered out of doors.  Such loveliness and design in every detail. 

I was mesmerized by the leaf for several minutes, and when I looked up again, I found Robby watching me.

"What?" I asked self-consciously. 

He shook his head.  "Nothing," he said.  "I love you."

I ducked my head but grinned.  "I love you, too."  When I looked up again and met his eyes, however, he looked away.

"Robby?" I asked.  "What is it?"

He sighed.  "You deserve so much more than what I've given you.  I wanted this to be such a special day, and here we are, soaking wet and freezing.  You could have done better with Ben.  And I certainly can't provide for you like your friend Ella's husband Rocky provides for her."

I reached over and cupped his face in my hand, turning him to face me.  "You listen to me, Robby.  I don't want Ben, or Rocky, or anyone else.  I want you.  I couldn't be happier, soggy dress and all."

I briefly noticed the wonder in his face before I kissed him.

After our kiss, I snuggled into his lap with my arms around his neck and my head on his shoulder.  "I love you so much, Robby.  I don't regret one moment."

He didn't say anything, but the way he held me told me he'd understood.  Sometimes Robby couldn't find words to express what he was feeling, but slowly, I was learning to look past his words and understand his heart.

After a while, just like we'd done many times before, Robby and I lay on our backs and looked up at the sky.  The grass was rather damp, but we were already damp enough ourselves.  And we talked and dreamed and planned and reminisced...I don't remember many specifics, but it was wonderful to just be that carefree couple with no responsibilities again, just for a while.

There were a few more smooches shared as well.  But after a while, our alone time was interrupted by Beast'sbelle, who had come out to snap some anniversary photos of us.  At least she hadn't come uninvited.  Robby had apparently arranged the photo shoot with her ahead of time.

So here are a few of our favorite photos.  It was great to take them in the same spot we'd taken our wedding photos before.  I decided right then and there that we should try to take an anniversary photo every year by the same tree for as long as we could. 

I included this one even though you can see the fraying thread on my bodice. :{

I didn't like the idea of Robby holding me (I didn't want to strain his leg too much), but he insisted.  He leaned against the tree for extra support, but I still wish he hadn't done it.

I know there was another one just like this, but I love how the first one focused on my hand and my wedding bracelet, and this one focused on my face. :}

When Beast'sbelle had finished and left us to ourselves once more, Robby and I stretched out on the grass again, enjoying our last few moments of outdoor freedom before the time came to go inside.  I draped his jacket over my shoulders again.  It was getting quite cold.

But someday, when I was old and missing hair plugs and probably on a different body, I wanted to look back and cherish the memories of this day.  The cold didn't matter as much as being with Robby.

But at last the weather got the better of us.  It was time to go in.  Robby helped me with his jacket and we got ready to head back to the house.

As we started to leave, I happened to glance behind me just as Robby was getting to his feet.  He was stiffer than I'd seen him in a long time, like a little old man trying to straighten himself.

Guilt instantly washed over me.  Why hadn't I thought about what the cold would do to his hip and knee joints?  I should have known!  But here I was, enjoying the crisp, cold air and the time with my husband.  And I had so thoughtlessly been the one to suggest walking out to the tree...the cold cement had been bad enough, but spending hours in the damp, muddy grass surely hadn't helped either.  I'd even thought about his joints throughout the afternoon...why hadn't I made the connection?

At that moment, Robby looked over at me and must have seen my worried expression.  "I'm all right, Belle," he said in a tired voice.

I nodded and looked away, though I didn't believe him.  The least I could do was give him his dignity.  He hated being coddled.  

By the time we got to the shelf, Robby was seriously hurting.  Not that he'd admit it for the world...but I saw the way he clenched his jaw and saw the pale pallor to his face.

There was a soft blanket and a pillow spread out for us on the "floor" of the shelf.  No doubt Beast'sbelle had laid it out for us for our return.  

"I think," Robby said casually, "that I should probably rest for a while.  I may have overdone it a bit."

I nodded as if having to rest was an everyday occurrence for him. 

He lowered himself onto the blanket, wincing and grimacing all the way.  I took his cane and put it on the tin seat just to give myself something to do other than worry.

As his head hit the pillow, he let out a little sigh.  He watched me silently as I fiddled about, trying to look busy.

"You can stop pretending," he told me gently.  "I know you're worried, but I'm honestly okay, Belle.  It's just the weather.  I should have thought..."

"I'm sorry I suggested going out by the tree," I interrupted him, trying to hold back my tears.

I made myself busy pulling off his boots.

"Come here," Robby whispered.

I set his boots next to the dresser and moved up beside him.  

He smiled up at me.  "Thank you for a perfect afternoon."

"You're welcome," I told him, still fighting my tears.

"It's really okay, Belle," he assured me again, reaching up and tucking my hair behind my ear.  "Don't do this to yourself.  I'll be fine."

"Do you need me to get Ben, or Beast'sbelle?" I asked.  "We could get you some children's Tylenol."

He shook his head.  "Just stay here with me," he whispered.  "That will be enough."

I lay down next to him, resting my head on his shoulder as I'd done so many times before, but I couldn't relax.  My emotions were all in a jumble.  I felt guilty for contributing to his pain, love for the doll who cared for me so much that he would mask his discomfort to make me feel better, and anger at myself for being so thoughtless.

Then, suddenly, as my emotions began to well up into a song ready to burst from my throat, I remembered my original plan that I'd concocted the night before.  I was going to sing to him today.  I'd told myself it was time.  Yet, even as the notes fought to break free from my lips, I couldn't manage it.  He'd been so patient, and now would be the perfect opportunity...

At that moment, I realized that Robby's breathing held the steady rhythm of sleep.  A mixture of disappointment and relief washed over me.  I didn't have to sing.  Not yet.  But I should have.  What kind of a wife was I?

My tears finally escaped, dripping from my eyes like rivers and soaking the shoulder of Robby's dress shirt.  And suddenly, a new, fierce determination coursed through me.  No more excuses.  No more feeling sorry for myself.  I would sing for him.  At the right moment, I would sing.

I looked up at my husband's sleeping face.  "Soon, my love," I whispered.  "Soon."

And with that, I snuggled next to him and closed my eyes, dreaming of songs and rain and Mountain Dew and husbands who loved so unconditionally.