Missing You...

I have been thinking about my family a lot lately and I just want to say I miss you all: Mom, Dad, Jennifer, Nate, Sarah, Annie, Myles, Arlo and Leo too! As we approach Thanksgiving Week, I am feeling more and more anxious to be home for the holidays. The past 2 months have been incredible, but I will still miss celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. This will be the second time I have been away for my family for Thanksgiving. The last time was back in 2007 when I was in college studying abroad in Italy. The hardest part about being away from Chicago is not seeing my sisters and my nephews everyday. I miss my parents of course too, but now that they have been living in New Hampshire for a couple of years now, I am used to not seeing them everyday. Luckily, we have FaceTime so I talk to them at least twice a week. It's kind of funny because we barely have things to talk about since we FaceTime so much. I have been talking with my parents the last couple of days. The just got back to Chicago to spend the week with my sister and nephews for Thanksgiving. It is kind of strange, but it actually has made me excited to see them home (in Chicago) for the week. [gallery type="rectangular" ids="373,375,376,372,371,370,369,368,367,366,365,364,363,362,361,360,359,358,357,356,355,354,353,352,351,350,349,348,347,346,345,344,343,342,374"]

The hardest person to leave was my nephew, Myles. We are pretty much best friends and I could tell that he really knew and understood that I was going to be gone for a very long time. I did not think he would want to talk with me on FaceTime because in the past whenever we would video chat with my parents he would be angry and would run away and hide. However, after I had been gone about 2 or 3 weeks from Chicago, he started to talk to me. Now he and I will talk for sometimes 20 minutes at a time, which has really made me happy. One of the ways I began dealing with being home-sick is by drawing. I do have formal training in drawing, however I have really never done much drawing seriously on my own. Then one day I decided to participate in the weekly online drawing contest, Mythical Beast Wars (My sister, Sarah's former co-worker is the organizer...and I think she collaborating with him on this too). Basically, every week there is a new contest that features a different Mythical Beast. (Be the way, you should check out www.mythicalbeastwars.com) It has been around for years and in the past I would occasionally submit drawings. However, I decided now would be a great time to start drawing every week. In ways, it my way of staying connected to Chicago and helped me to cope with being away, now I have begun to enjoy drawing for this contest every week. One day I was telling Myles about the contest and the next thing I knew, Myles started his own weekly drawing contest, " Mixed Beasts Drawing Wars". So, now I am drawing at least two drawings a week. It really has been fun for me and I am starting to notice some improvements in my drawing skills too!

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There is another person I keep thinking about ever since I arrived in Italy, my grandmother, Grandma Janie. She was such an awesome and amazing person that continues to make me laugh. When I told her that I was going back to Italy she said, "Italy?...bring a gun!". Just a month before I left for Italy, she passed away. It felt very sudden when she got sick this past summer. However, I believe she never wanted anybody to fuss over her and may have been much more sick than she appeared over the last several years. I am so grateful that I was able to spend the last short months of her life with her and my family, especially my Aunt Annie and my cousins Grace and Frannie. Before she died she told my mom, "I want to be cremented and then for everyone to get together for a BBQ!". A lot of people in our family did not agree with her choice, but when we gathered that day in her yard. I have to say it felt so right, I really felt her presence, I almost forgot that she wasn't just upstairs in her bedroom watching her favorite show, "The Sopranos".  Below are some photos from her BBQ. Until now, I have not been quite ready to share the photos, but as I look back on it, I am happy that I did.[gallery type="rectangular" ids="301,302,303,304,305,306,308,310,311,312,313,314,316,317,318,319,320,321,322,323,324,325,326,327,328,329,330,331,332,333,334,335,336,337,338"]

As I prepared to leave for Italy, it was very hard for me to leave my family. I still, am not sure if I made the right decision to leave so soon, but in my heart I know I needed to take the risk. I still am in disbelief that she is gone and I continue to think about Grandma Janie every day.

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In a way, I feel missing is just a part of life. We will always miss a person wherever they may be. So, even though I am missing all my family and friends back home in Chicago (and New Hampshire), I will be home soon!