Some people believe that if you put something out into the universe, it can come back to you. I'm not sure I believe it but something good has happened. And no, I did not hear back from my brother. As a matter of fact, as I wrote him he was emailing another family member making it perfectly clear he wanted nothing to do with me. And I cried. But then...
I had the best talk with my mom and then my dad (separately). They affirmed that it is time for us to move on as a family. My dad actually told me I was a wonderful daughter and he was proud of me. I can count the number of times he has said something like that on one hand. That is not a criticism. My dad just plays things close to the vest. He also said he considers Paul his son.
If my brother chooses to reconnect with us, we will accept him with open hearts and open arms. Until then, we will continue to make memories together. Mom, Dad, Paul, me and the rest of our family.
I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and only pray the ice stays away so we can have Christmas together. But if the ice does come my feet will be toasty... Paul arrived home last night with my Chestnut Uggs under his arms.
Does anyone else think it is completely ridiculous that not all snow boots are waterproof? Seriously, what's the point? OK, so I get the type I pick out are more often worn on the streets of LA than in the snow (I actually have these except they are silver. Yes, I own silver, furry, knee-high "snow" boots. They happen to make me very happy. Except I cant' wear them in front of children. It is tough to explain Love Kills Slowly to a 7 year old.) However, when I look for a pair for Paul to shovel our driveway in, I'm looking for a couple of basic components - that they keep his feet DRY and WARM. What is up with these boot makers???
We got 20 inches of snow yesterday. Nothing better than being snowed in with your family (that is, the family you like) on the weekend before Christmas. I did all the on-line shopping I could. We decorated the tree. We attempted to get the perfect photo for our Christmas card - and are still trying. The only problem is that the girls won't go potty outside. How long can they possibly hold it???
How come, when you are little, birthdays are all about THE big day? And when you get older, it seems to be more about days gone by? Or is it just me? Today is my 36th birthday - closer to 40 than 30. I'm not sure where the time has gone. It was a great day. Breakfast with a friend, lunch with friends, tons of Facebook wall posts and phone calls. Yet, I found myself at the desk in my home office writing a letter to a family member who hasn't spoken to me in 5 and a 1/2 years.
I remember so many birthdays when the card that meant the most was from him. And I still have Winnie the Pooh he gave me for my first birthday. And the one he gave me for my twenty-first. Two of my most prized possessions - can you believe they aren't shoes?
All I wanted for my birthday were these chestnut Uggs (if you don't own Uggs, go immediately to uggs.com and order a pair!) but I'd actually trade all my shoes for a phone call from my brother. Is my age showing?
Our office has a rotating gallery space on the first floor where we hang artwork created by residents of member communities. The latest request is for staff to write, in 50 words or less, about a person over the age 65 who changes lives. For me, the selection was simple but the 50 words or less was not.
Grandaddy is nothing short of Santa Claus for me. When I was in kindergarten, he actually visited our class in a Santa suit and I had no idea it was him. Despite the fact that my brother was his elf. What can I say, I was desperate to believe!
Not a day goes by that I don't think of him as a gift. He was quite a devilish charcter in his younger days, I've been told. He still has that mischievous twinkle in his eye. He has done so much for so many, and this is my small tribute to him.
He served his country in the Navy and Washington, DC on the police force. He cared for my Grammie throughout the later years of her life. He gave Joan, his new wife, and she gave him a second chance at love. He supports his parish financially and with his volunteerism - painting, counting donations, delivering communion to those in need, remembering birthdays, and on and on. (Joan helps him do most of that!) He and Joan deliver food to soup kitchens. He would do anything he could for his family and has given all of us more than he will ever know through generosity, laughter and love.
So tomorrow is our first Thanksgiving in the new house. Paul has been cooking Thanksgiving dinner since we were married. As a matter of fact, as soon as we were married, my mother announced she was "retired" from preparing holiday meals. On our first Thanksgiving, I thought (naive girl that I am) my family could embrace the "what I am thankful for" tradition. That was the first and last time we attempted such a ritual because 2 of my family members (who shall remain nameless but know who they are) started laughing saying they had nothing to offer up. How about the good old standby "I'm happy I'm above ground"? Anyway, my father said he was thankful I married someone who could cook...
Fast forward to tomorrow. Paul will be doing the cooking (everything except cranberry sauce because I demand canned, Ocean Spray, jellied cranberry sauce with the can marks on it. It's a tradition for goodness sake!) and I have decided to bake pies. From scratch. When asked what kind of pie he would like, my father said he didn't care. My mother told him I was cooking. He responded he would "bring his own pie". Need I say more?
I read a quote from a recent philosopher (Rev Run) that said without patience, you can have no faith. And vice versa. What a shame to be lacking in both...
I am an impatient person. Just ask my family, friends, husband, colleagues... you get the hint. When Paul told my dad he wanted to marry me, my dad reminded him that I am "impatient on the golf course". The golf course might as well be life. At the beginning of Lent, I told my Grandaddy I was going to try and be more patient. He told me that was futile since I come by it honest - he tried to be more patient for 80+ years and it never happened. Apparently it is in my genes...
I do try everyday. And I refuse to give up. For example, we have been living in an 800 square foot apartment for almost 2 months and I haven't run away or caused bodily harm to anyone. That's a good sign, right?
So from my grandfather's gene pool I inherited impatience. From my Grammie's side I got the worry gene. It is tough to have faith when you are constantly worrying. Unfortunately, Paul is the one who gets to listen to all of my fretting. "What if the financing falls through?" "What if the Russians don't deliver our stuff?" (I think that is an actual legitimate concern.) "What if one of us gets fired?" "What if wild bears come and get Stella & Sophie because our yard isn't fenced in?" "What if _______________?"
I'm going to try and turn over a new leaf! New house means new beginnings, right? Tomorrow is our home inspection and I have faith it will go well and we will close on October 2nd. I will patiently follow the home inspector around as he does his job. I will then patiently turn the corkscrew into the wine bottle and have faith that 1 glass will not be enough. What can I say, I'm a work in progress!
I used to have a very odd theory that being friends with neighbors would suck. They would pop-in, watch your every move, etc. So new neighbors moved in and they had parties. Paul would go and claim I was sick. I later found out they really thought something was wrong with me because they never saw me (I travel a lot for work). Little did they know that while Paul was being social, I was laying on the couch catching up on General Hospital. (Don't judge me, my job requires me to meet, talk to and be with people a lot, I just needed a break when I got home.)
This theory went out the window when Paul bought a new set of pots. The pots we had been using were my very first set that Grammie and Grandaddy gave me when I moved to New York and my first solo apartment. I cried as I packed the pots up (Grammie died 5 years ago and I still miss her everyday) and told Paul to make sure Goodwill got the pots. They were still in great shape and he promised. The next day I went out of town to return 2 days later.
As I walked up my driveway upon my return, my next door neighbor Amy yelled from her balcony "Thanks for the pots. I hope you don't mind I took them!" As we started to chat, I learned my loving husband had put my special pots out for the garbage pick-up (yes, he lied and I caught him. I win!) Amy was in need of pots (you'll have to ask her why), so when she saw my nice set outside in a box, she thought it was karma. I believe it was Grammie's way of introducing us.
From that day on, we weren't just next door neighbors anymore but also great friends. I even became the dreaded nosy neighbor who would report the comings and goings from friend's houses. We laugh, we cry, we shop, we go to shows and generally just have a great time. I am so lucky Paul put those pots out for the trash (I win again!)
One more thing, if it weren't for Amy, I would never have welcomed the lovely navy grosgrain and silk peep-toed, pink heeled, pink and white rosette Giuseppe Zanotti's pictured above into my life! How is that for a happy ending?
In 1997, my girlfriend Zeus called and asked if I wanted to go see Dave Matthews live. I responded, let me give you a buzz back. My colleagues overheard and said "Are you NUTS?! You have to go!" I had really only heard Ants Marching, so didn't understand how truly amazing DMB is. Then I went to the show and the rest is history!
A noise wakes me and I assume it is Paul. But instantly I realize it is the 27 pound French bulldog who is sleeping next to me. And snoring like a man. I roll over and put the pillow over my head. Then I put a pillow over her head. Then I begin to negotiate (in my head)... if she snores 1 more time I will kick her out. Just 1 more time. Just 1 more time. Hells bells.
"Tophie, Tophie, where's Stella? Don't you want to see Stella? (Like a good dog, Stella was snoring in the living room.) Crate time (all said in a sing song voice)..." She just looks at me and rolls over. Now I'm on my knees in front of the bed trying again, "Come on, Tophie, let's go see Stella!" Nada. (By the way, her real name is Sophie but over the years it has metamorphosed into Tophie.)
In the end, I did what any alpha personality in a house of pups does. I picked her up, put her on the living room floor and shut the door. Who's the boss?!
Until 2004, I never had a pet in my life. Actually, my grandfather had a beagle named Spot when I was little and I was scared to death of him. I used to sit in the middle of the kitchen table when they brought him up from the basement so he wouldn't "get me". As depressing as it sounds, my only "pets" were the caterpillars my childhood BFF and I would catch and keep in tupperware under my bed. (Sorry, Mom, you should have gotten me a hamster).
I've always been fascinated with pigs. At some point I'll tell you about my short life as a "pig mom" but not today. After pigs I became obsessed with bulldogs, so when Paul and I met I shared my dream of Stanley. My male English bulldog pup who would love me forever. (Before Stanley I wanted 2 female English bulldogs named Petunia and Gerber). Paul started doing some research and because we lived in a townhouse thought a French Bulldog would be better suited for our home. Enter Stella...
On a gorgeous Good Friday, we drive an hour and a half to Boonsboro, MD where we meet a 7 pound, 14 week old French Bulldog. She had Paul at hello. I was scared of her (yes, I'm a big wimp. So what?). We brought her home in a cardboard box (yes, that is the picture above). But when Paul went to the store later that evening, I sat on the floor and Stella curled up in my lap to go to sleep. Paul came home to find me in the same position while Stella slept on. A few days later, he called me on the way home from work and I answered the phone crying. "I think she loves me!" Stella had, once again, curled up in my lap to sleep. And I didn't pick her up to make it happen. She just found her new favorite spot and started to snore away.
Because of Stella, I am a crazy dog mom. Yep, complete with Halloween costumes, worry, love and sometimes over the top behavior. You will learn more about this, and meet Sophie, in later posts. Stella has brought more to my life than I ever thought possible. I just love that little girl!
Eight years ago, I lived in Boston in a relationship that should never have happened, living a life I couldn't even recognize. It was the lowest point in my life and I wasn't sure how I was going to change it. I was lost and afraid, too proud, too deep in denial perhaps, to admit it - the loneliest and most scared I have ever been. Then my phone rang that beautiful September morning. It was my mother telling me the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane and her friend's son-in-law was in it. She was racing to her friend's house to help her pack, so she could get to NYC to be with her pregnant daughter. As so many people lost their lives, including my mom's friend's son-in-law, I realized life was too short. At that moment, I decided things would change no matter what it took.
We all have stories of that day. We all know people who were lost and none of us will ever be the same because of it. 9/11 changed all of us for different reasons. 9/11 saved my life. So many people were affected by things beyond their control, and I knew I had the power to control the choices I made. I was suddenly filled with courage and faith in the friends and family who cared about me to do what I needed to do. So I began packing, slowly, discreetly, and a month later drove to my parents house never to go back to the unhappy life I was living.
It is hard to believe 8 years have passed. Since moving back to DC I've found a career I adore, a husband who completes my life, 2 pups that make everyday brighter as well as cherished new memories with my family and friends. Everyday I thank God for granting me the opportunites I have. I know it is small, but the new life I created is my tribute to those who sacrificed so much.
I grew up in a "football" house. When my mother went into labor with me, she didn't tell my Dad because he was on his way to see the Redskins play the Giants in a playoff game (my Grandaddy had Redskin season tickets for years). Then, when they finally got to the hospital many hours later, he went to the end of the bed and yelled "Hike!" expecting me to come shooting out, no doubt.
In high school, my dad was athletic director at an all-boys high school. After one year as a cheerleader for a competitive school, I became statistician for the varsity football team where my dad worked. (Only girl to ever get a letter from this school, might I add!) I remember my father's pride not only when I was statistician but when I dated the captain of one high school football team, then another. Not to mention the two football players I "dated" in college. (Please reserve judgement of my dating history until you hear the full story! Which you will via future posts. I promise). I know it sounds incredibly old school considering I did pretty well academically but this seemed to matter to him. And therefore, me...
Fast forward to when I meet my husband. I tell him, among other things, that I like football because boys seem to find this cool. I brag about my days on the sidelines and we laugh about my high school boyfriend teaching me to throw and block. Then we get married. It finally becomes apparent to him that beer bloats me, tailgating takes too long, I don't believe in porta-potties and I'd rather read than watch football. You can imagine his disappointment. He recently said, "but you told me you liked football!" Yep, and he told me he played the guitar.
Tonight is the first game of the season and the Steelers are playing. (Did I mention Paul is from Pittsburgh?) So in my effort to be a better wife, I'm drinking a beer and sitting in the same room while he screams at the TV. Baby steps but steps in the right direction, don't you think?
I have to admit that I am a very extreme person. Either hot or cold, happy or sad, calm or angry, animated or tired. There is very little gray with me. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the way I live my life... work or home. Because of the nature of my job, it is easy to let boundaries go. I travel all the time and often come home spent - which is another way of saying I have nothing left for the people I love (Paul, Stella, Sophie, family, friends, etc.) I am on the never-ending quest to resolve this personality "trait" (flaw).
I think I just took a big step, and need to brag. We are building a new house. Settlement was supposed to be September 28 which meant Paul would move alone because I have to be out of town the 29th, 30th and 1st. Good news - settlement is the 2nd! I am supposed to be in Birmingham on the 8th for a "nice to do but not necessary" trip. In other words, it is a trip that can definitely be rescheduled and... I just rescheduled it! This means I am taking a week off work to just concentrate on our new home and our new town. I'm really excited.
A wise person once said to me, "would you treat people at work that way?" in reference to an arguement I had with Paul. I had to stop and think because I realized he was absolutely right. Why are we often on our best behavior at work and then not at home? I'm guilty of this because I expend all my energy on the road and have nothing left for my family. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the world will stop turning if I take off work. This is my little way of proving it.
My husband asked me why the sudden urge to blog, and my response was "I have a lot of stuff in my head..." It's true, like many women I know, my brain never stops working. I get up in the middle of the night out of a dead sleep to pee and immediately my brain wakes up with things I have to accomplish the next day. It is totally annoying and overwhelming. So maybe this is my attempt to get my brain to slow down... Or maybe I'm just intrigued by what will come through my fingers. I don't expect anyone else to read it (doesn't everyone start out that way?), and I'm not sure what I'll talk about. What I do know is that I fret a lot (thanks, Mom), love my family, am obsessed with shoes, and have a good life. Yet I can often complicate things in the blink of an eye! I guess I'll just have to see where this journey takes me... Oh, yeah, along the way I'll make a note of my footwear. Tonight it is pink giraffe print fuzzy slippers (Christmas gift from Paul, my husband). Oh the comforts of home!