oh happy day

Finally! After a twenty day countdown today is the day!
Thing 2 arrives at Dulles at 11:45 this morning!
I am quite possibly the happiest human being on the entire planet!
I can hardly wait to get my arms around my baby!

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My joy knows no bounds! I wish this level of happiness for absolutely everyone!

Categories: on being a mom, love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merry Happy

It’s my first Monday morning as a brain healing writer, wedding planner extraordinaire and temporary hausfrau. So far so good. As the hausfrau, I’ve stripped and remade our bed, switched two loads of laundry, fed myself and done the dishes. All before 8:30.
As the writer…well the proof is in the pudding. (What does that even mean? I’m going to google that asap.)

I’ve got the music going and when I sat down to eat, a song came on that Thing 2 shared with me.
It’s obviously a break-up song. But it’s so perky and I love her message: ‘Sure, you made me happy, but I can do things on my own.’
“Cause you can grow flowers from where dirt used to be.”

I’ve learned to love this unusually voiced girl and her meaningful lyrics delivered in a bouncy way.
This song perked up my Monday morning and I hope it will do the same for you!

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surprise find

My friend and mentor just so happens to be here in Virginia teaching a group of preschool teachers. She and her beloved, one of the most delightful men on the planet, stayed the weekend to spend time with her grandson. YBW and I were lucky enough to be able to meet them for an early dinner yesterday in Winchester.

I’ve been going to Winchester my entire life. My grandparents lived there, my dad grew up there. Let me tell you something: Winchester isn’t like it used to be. They’ve worked hard to make the little downtown area hip. It was not remotely hip during the seventies and eighties.
YBW’s never been so we decided to head out early, that gave us time to wander at our leisure before we met for dinner.
We went into this great little shop Make Nest Interiors because YBW saw this on a drastic sale.
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It’s a globe stand, sans the globe. I think we should put some sort of glass sphere in there…perhaps even a disco ball. He’s not buying into the disco ball. He’s smart like that, cause I’m just being ridiculous for my own entertainment.
BUT…while we were in there looking around, I found our wedding wine glasses!
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They’re absolutely perfect! I’m very excited!

This wedding thing becomes more real each day. I’m ready. Let’s go!
We tasted cake on Friday evening and chose some pretty delicious almond flavored cake. Our Wash and Zoe are going to be pretty adorable on top of it.
Tomorrow we’re meeting with the event coordinator at the winery.
Wedding. Wedding. Wedding.
I love it, but I may need a nap.

Right now the Nats game is on, my fave, Jayson Werth hit a two run dinger and I’m happy. Stephen Strasburg can’t pitch worth a damn. But it’s OK, I’ve got my sweetie next to me on the sofa, a beer in a glass on the table in front of me and I might take a nap when the game is over.

Thing 2 comes the day after tomorrow! Our countdown is almost over! I told her today that I was going to smother her with kisses and she replied that “super-duper Thing 2 hugs” were headed my way! (That’s what she called her crazy tight hugs when she was a little girl, so I know what to expect!)

It’s a pretty great Robynbird day! Beautiful glasses to toast with my husband on our wedding day. Nats on the telly and beer in my glass. Thing 2 here Tuesday morning. And most likely a nap.
Now that’s what I’m talking about.

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loving yourself

My much loved friend in Arizona has four children, the eldest (a boy) is exactly two months younger than Thing 1 I’ve known him since he was four. The second born (a girl) chose me to be her Godmother when she was about eight years old, I’ve know her since she was two. She’s about eighteen months older than Thing 2. The third, (another girl) was born when Thing 2 was in my friend’s two year old preschool class. I taught the baby of the family, (a second boy, who is now thirteen) for two years in a row between the ages of one and three.
I love this family as though they were my own. My own children consider these children an integral part of their family life.

Earlier this week, a simple facebook conversation with the eldest boy that started as comments and replies on a photo of his parents moved me to tears.

Him: I can’t wait to see you pretty lady!!! You’re getting hitched, and I get to be a part of it. I am so honored and unbelievably excited for you :) Can’t wait to meet the family!

Me: My heart is near bursting that you’ll be here! I love you!

Him: I love you too! You’ll always be a big influence in my life as to who I am and how I must be myself, love myself and be happy to go my own way. I see this in you and it is a true inspiration to where I hope to be one day.

This young man went through terrible emotional struggles his second year of college. He was deeply confused, depressed, and on the edge of hurting himself. His Dad went across the country to support and love his son. This time was sacred for them and because of this time, he was able to build up the courage to safely come out as gay.
We all could see that him saying it out loud changed everything for him. He was at peace with himself. He was as content and carefree as he’d been as a little boy. Our joy was huge. His own joy was too.
And then he met a really wonderful young man. They are such a precious couple! They compliment each other beautifully, bringing out the best in each other. I’ve not seen this boy I helped raise this healthy and peaceful since he was about ten years old.

I say all of this because I want to explain the magnitude of his words. I am truly humbled. This is a child I loved because he was one of my brood. I loved him as my own. For him to share this with me was overwhelming.
To know that my actions have made that kind of impact was so powerful!

It took me thirty-odd years to learn to “must be myself, love myself and be happy to go my own way”. To make the choice to get out of what was categorically, the least healthy situation I’d ever been in. I trusted myself for the first time in my life and loved myself enough to go my own way. It was the most difficult and scary situation I’d ever experienced. It changed nearly every relationship in my life. And I was stronger than I’d ever been.

Never did I feel like a role model. Never did I feel like a positive example. I was afraid every single day. I never stopped looking over my shoulder. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other because I knew if I didn’t the last little spark inside of me would go out.
But the spark grew into the long lost fire in my belly and fueled my independence. Fueled my confidence. Fueled my ability to love and be loved.

I love this young man ever so dearly. I wish him all the success of love and life without too much of the struggle.
To know that I’ve been inspiration to him is almost more than I can even bear.
My heart is overflowing.
We all deserve to feel this much love and gratitude.

Categories: love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

the magical gift of words

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February 11. 2011 6:11 pm EST
~The fire went on leaping and taunting and sucking up great turbulent currents of air that set the flames snapping like brilliant red sails in a violent wind~
John Berendt – the city of falling angels pg 11 & 12
WOW! To write like this!!

I was at the airport waiting for a flight to board. I always travel with a journal and a book. This particular trip, I was traveling with a Tiffany blue journal (natch) and a book I’d read once before. I have a very vivid memory of writing this…where I was sitting at the gate, what I was wearing, the diet Dr Pepper sweating as it sat on the arm of my seat, and the small dark-skinned woman speaking hushed profanities into her phone.
Inspiration comes from all manner of places. This night as I waited for a plane to bring me here to YBW I was inspired by this compilation of words.

Whether or not you like his writing is of no consequence to me. I adored Midnight in the Garden but I absolutely loved The City of Falling Angels. I like the way he novelizes the factual events. I liked the story of Venice from the master glass blower, Archimede Seguso, to “The Rat Man of Treviso”, Massimo Donadon. The political corruption is fascinating, of course we have our own American brand of that here at home.
Anyway, I dig the book.

I was getting a book for Thing C to borrow and passed this book on my shelf. Just seeing the spine reminded me of this moment.
It’s so random how and when something moves you. I do still love this sentence. But would it have made me write it down if I read it tonight? I don’t honestly know.
What I do know is inspiration is all around us every single moment. The more we read, the more music lyrics we hear and sing, the more we talk with people, the more chances we have to be inspired.
Words are a constant inspiration to me…to be a better writer, or at least to write more.
That’s a promise I’ve made to myself while I’m not working: healing my brain, finishing up wedding plans and writing more.

After all, as Albus Dumbledore said: Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.

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the name dilemma

I read an interesting Buzz Feed article by Jill Gallagher: After My Husband Left, I Kept His Last Name
It resonated with me as I’ve been in the process of deciding what my name will be after I marry YBW.

I’d always just assumed I’d add YBW’s name to the end of my own name.
Then doubt crept in.
I was caught on the fence between the argument for and against.
Is my last name nothing more than “some man’s” name? Would trading one for another really make a difference?

I feel strongly that I’ve given up so much of my life to be in my relationship with YBW that holding onto that last bit of my “old life” felt important.
But here’s the reality. This name I carry is MY name. It’s my identity. I’ve had it for more than half my life. I’ve often said that if the former husband’s name was Jones I would have taken it just to get rid of Smith.
I have always despised my “maiden” surname. The name of a man who essentially abandoned me when I was just five years old.
I wanted the name of the man who really raised me, Grandaddy. But it wasn’t to be so.
So when I married the former husband at the age of twenty, I was happy to have his name. Not because it was his, but because it was my new name.

I’ve had my name for over twenty four years. I like my name. I identify with it. I don’t know if I’m ready to simply choose a new name and learn to own it. I don’t want to feel like I’ve given up any more of me.

On the other side of the fence is the fact that if I’m going to have “some man’s” name, it should be the man to whom I’m joining my life.

I had conversations with YBW, Sundance, and my friend and mentor about my change from knowing to confusion.

Sundance, in her perfectly direct way was adamant I drop my current name and take YBW’s. She finished her tirade with: Why do want any more to do with the former husband? So, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know where she stands.

YBW looked at it differently. He was very clear to assure me he never expected me to take his name as tradition dictates. He asked how I would do it: would I drop my middle name (which I love) and use my current last name as my middle and his as my last? Would I just have four names? Would I hyphenate? Mostly he assured me that he would support whatever choice I made.

My friend and mentor listened in her typical, patient fashion and really heard my dilemma. She told me she could hear me struggling.
Then she shared her story with me. When she and her husband of twenty-odd years divorced, she had a very similar conversation with her mother. She wanted nothing to do with the name of the man who did her wrong. Her mother reminded her that her sons had that name, that she would always be their mother. That was more powerful than the man.
She sat with that for a while and decided to add in her “maiden” name. The name that she got from her beloved father, the name that shaped her young life and prepared her for the world. She chose to use both her last names because each of them shaped who she had become.

I took all this information, these points of view, and mixed them together with my own and let them settle. I stopped actively thinking about it for a while.
And as I drove home on Tuesday, just as suddenly as I questioned it in the first place, the answer came to me.

Friday I read Ms. Gallagher’s article and immediately sent it to my friend and mentor with the following:
This article came at just the right time.
I’d actually decided a few days ago to hyphenate my name. Because it’s MY name. The name with which I made and raised my babies. Worked at the most wonderful job I’ve ever had. Met people who changed my life just by knowing them.
The name with which I made the scariest decision of my life.
I didn’t consciously know all those reasons until I started writing this to you. I just knew that was my choice.

To which she replied:
Oh my sweet friend! I so dearly and sweetly love you! You have worked hard to think about this decision about what to call yourself as you go forward. It is such a privilege to be with you on this journey. I so adore you and love you!

Her love is something I feel every single day, but this, this got me deep in my gut: privilege to be with you on this journey.
I’m not good at paying attention while on the journey, or even to the journey itself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a destination girl.
I want to get where I’m going…never much matters how.
But this simple sentence gave me pause. Made me stop and take a look around me.
The name I have is the one I chose. The name I share with my girls. For how much longer, I don’t know…Thing 1 has a ring on her finger and will eventually marry N. She’s said in passing she’ll most likely drop her middle name and use our last name as her middle then take N’s name.
Thing 2 has expressed her disinterest in marriage. She thinks she and D will most likely just “shack up” for however long and she’ll always have her name. I wonder if as she grows that’ll change?
Even though they’re girls and may not keep the name we share, we started our lives together with the same name. That’s important to me.
I am me. I’m not “some man’s” version of me. The me I am is a girl who owns her name and doesn’t really care how she got it.

I didn’t really know why it was important, this name dilemma, I just knew it was.
Isn’t it funny that within a few days of making the gut decision I read an article that helped me understand why my gut made that choice?
Perhaps it’s not really all that funny…I believe the universe puts what you need in your path even when you’re not looking.

I don’t think I’ll ever learn to be a “journey” girl, but maybe, just maybe I’ll take Ferris Bueller’s advice: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
With my own name AND YBW’s name.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What are you?

I have a friend who is a veterinarian.
I have friends who are educators.
I have a friend who is an educator of educators.
I have a friend who is a dental hygienist.
I have a friend who is an engineer.
I have a friend who is a small business owner.
I have a friend who is a retired Naval officer.
I have a friend who is a hair stylist.
I have a friend who is a nurse.
YBW is a DBA.

Though I am an educator, when this question comes at me I don’t answer it with that label.
I answer like this:
I am a girl.
I am a mom.
I am a writer.
I am a photographer.
And then I say I’m an early childhood educator.

Why is it: What are you?
Why is it: What do you do?

Why do we identify ourselves this way?
Why isn’t it:
Who are you?
And I don’t mean the answer should be: I am Robynbird. I mean it should be who are you in your thoughts? Who are you in your heart? Who are you in your passions?

I believe the question should be: What are you passionate about?
Wouldn’t we get so much more from that answer? Learn interesting and important things about a person? Make a connection?

Next time I meet someone I’m going to ask that question. I encourage you to do the same.
Actually, I’m going to ask you: What are you passionate about? Please share your answers in the comments. I want to know interesting and important things about you that I may not learn from reading your writings.

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YBW’s first demolition derby

The county fairgrounds back up to our neighborhood. One week a year we hear the goings on. The beginning of the week we hear the ridiculously loud revving engines of the tractor pull. The end of the week we hear the cars crashing into each other.

Last night, instead of waiting for my dress to come we went to the fair. It was the first night of demolition derby and YBW could hardly stand himself! Plus it was ladies night so I got in for free!
We grabbed the most delicious of all the “bad-for-you” foods ~ fair food, and went to the grandstand to wait.
(Yes, our “white trash” is showing.)

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The wind was blowing towards the bleachers and the dirt and stench of busted up cars came right at us. At the end of the first heat, girl power was in the air. The winner was a young woman! (And quite possibly a high school student, based on my observations of her cheering fans.)
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YBW was lit up like Christmas! Cheering and grinning and having a total blast! He was just like a little kid! And then it occurred to me. I asked if he’d ever been before.
Nope! This was my first one! Can we come back tomorrow?
Me: Buy me a funnel cake?
YBW: Sure!
Me: Of course we’ll come back tomorrow!

The rain came in middle of the second heat and spit on us on and off until the fifth and final heat when the sky opened up and pelted us with big fat plopping rain.
YBW looked at me, he wanted to get more food.
I told him: We’re already wet, who cares.
One corn dog (for me) and a big bag of kettle corn later, we sloshed our way home.
Soaking wet, a little “trashier” but super happy!

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I need to oodgey-goodgey!

You know anticipation when you’re waiting for someone or something to arrive?
You can’t go too far from your front door. You can’t stop looking looking at any flash or movement outside. You won’t even play music for fear of missing the doorbell.

Yeah, I know that anticipation…DHL has a package out for delivery. A package for me. A package that contains my wedding dress!
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Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I need that delivery person to get it together and bring my dress before YBW gets home! I’ll need time to open it up and oodgey-goodgey over it without him here! (He is adamant that he doesn’t want to see it before the wedding day.)

UGH! COME ONE, ALREADY!

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for this is the recipe of love

I found this when I was going through my mother’s things.
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It’s my Grandaddy’s handwriting. I’d recognize it anywhere.
I suspect it’s the toast he made at my parents wedding.
Now, my parents were an ill suited match, but they made me so I’m not going to complain. They were terribly unhappy together, and after my father left us, Mommie remained unhappy deep in her soul. Perhaps that unhappiness came to her when her mother died. I don’t know. I just know that it seemed to me that even though she would express real joy, she was always miserable down in her soul.

Grandaddy didn’t especially like my dad…but that could have been for any number of reasons.
My dad was only likable when he chose to be. Most times he was a right bastard. Of course, a childhood of abuse and a lifetime of hiding his sexual orientation contributed to that.

Grandaddy was a grumpy old thing. But he was helping to raise kids in his sixties and seventies. Oh! How I adored him. He was the first man I ever fell in love with. And quite possibly he was in love with me more than he had ever been with my mom. I think she knew it. I think she was jealous of that love. But, I don’t really care. That love was sacred and nothing will ever change that.

I’m being tangential as all get out…this post started out differently in my head…I’m going to try and make my way back to the reason I’m sharing this photo.

YBW and I have asked my niece, Girlie Thing, to read this at our wedding. Sundance was with me when I found the tiny envelope with Grandaddy’s writing. I knew then I wanted it to be a part of our wedding day.

As I go through the invitation and response lists, I realize my only blood family is Thing 1 and Thing 2. The family I made: Sundance and her babies, my darling friend in Arizona and her family, my friend and mentor, and my former husband’s little sister and her family, will be with me the day I wed the man I waited forty-four years to marry.
I have great sadness that Mommie never even met YBW. That my dad didn’t live long enough to be a part of this day, he adored YBW and our relationship.
My sadness about Grandaddy isn’t so much that he won’t know YBW or be at our wedding, it’s more that everyday missing him that resides deep in my heart.

All this said, I have wonderful people that I love who will celebrate with us on October 24. But with this tiny envelope, a bit of my parents and Grandaddy will be with me too. And that makes my heart happy.

Perhaps that’s the recipe of love…
The family from which you come mixed with the friends who become your family and a dollop of your own babies on top. I’ll mix these with YBW’s family. The one from which he came and his fraternity brothers who became his family and a dollop of his babies.

Whatever the recipe, I am chock-full of love. I’m grateful for those who taught me to love when I was a little girl. For those whom I befriended and taught me how to expand my love. For the man who showed me that love was something I never even imagined. And for the gifts of daughters who taught me new and awe-inspiring ways to love.

Categories: love, wedding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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