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September gratitude

Today is October first.
The official start of Halloween month!
But before I get all SQUEE about that, I’m going to express my gratitude.

September was straight chaos. But it was also quite lovely.
As I look back on this month I find myself grateful for both.

I’m also grateful for:

a porchlife lunch with Mike and Josie
Husband N’s willingness to transport a 16 foot ladder
a successful and fun flea market day with YBW, his brother and sister-in-law
meeting with the builder about electricals in the new house
stackable jewelry organizers
a tearful conversation with YBW

Target run with Thing 1 and Baby K (sassy thing chose her own new shades and bag)

finally getting to talk with Jessica
Husband N’s mad landscaping skills
cool Autumn mornings
Thing G seems content at his mom’s
winery day with Nora and Dale’s family
joyfully ‘hate watching’ the Twilight saga with Thing 1

bathroom construction progress

windows open for several days in a row
playing a game called Bye Felicia
making good use of my instant pot
two of my alternative healthcare providers
Saturday morning snuggles with YBW and Baby K
exercising my 19th amendment right and responsibility by voting early
TJXrewards points

inventing this ridiculously delicious cocktail with Thing 1

having airline miles to purchase tickets for Thing 2 and Boyfriend M to visit in November
the post office in Old Town Manassas
taking a chance on the curated bundles at Bards Alley and getting some great reads
red toenail polish
CBD oil capsules
being in the car by myself

My heart is full of gratitude as I look back at this lovely and chaotic month.

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Friday feels

Today is the first day I’ve stopped and taken a big breath this week.
I needed it!
Of course, stopping and breathing gave me the opportunity to be all in my feels.

gratitude
Even though it took two full weeks, Thing 2’s covid test came back negative
I got to hug Meredith and her Mommy when their family returned from a forty-five day cross-country trip
My gloriously supportive friends who encourage me to think outside the box

than central air

joy
YBW and I put down the deposit for our house yesterday, and will sign the contract Wednesday

excitement
Road trip with YBW (we leave for GA in the morning and return with Thing 1’s family on Monday)
Baby K will be here all the time
I’m going to tutor select students this virtual school year (kind of like being an ‘at home’ substitute teacher)

It was an exceptionally great week to be me!

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IWotB 2020 edition ~ day five

I had a nice quiet morning organizing books. Of course then I had a stack of books I’ve read, but don’t actually want to keep.
For the most part, I share books with my friend Josie. I can trust her to take good care of the ones I want back, and know anything she passes along will go to a good reader.
In true ‘if you give a mouse a cookie’ fashion, this book organization lead to me texting Josie. Which lead to YBW and I going out to Mike and Josie’s to drop off books. But since we were there, we had (an appropriately socially distanced) visit on their porch and carry out from this precious local restaurant called Field & Main.

When we got home there were packages in the mailbox for me!

Colors from the Essie summer collection Bustling Bazaar, and Christopher Moore’s new book! The second sequel to one of my all time favorites, Fool.
AND(!!!) Check this out!

International Week of the Birthday continues to rock!

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Happy Birthday, Baby K!

Today this little girl celebrates her first go around the sun.

We’re not celebrating it the way her parents planned.
No party.
No (extended) family.
No friends.
No bumble bee themed ‘Happy Bee-Day’.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not celebrating her wherever we are!
We’re celebrating her joining our family.
We’re celebrating her milestones.
We’re celebrating her life.

But I am reminded of the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas…

“And the Birdie, with her Birdie-feet ice cold in the snow room temperature on the floor, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons.
It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And she puzzled and puzzled ’till her puzzler was sore.
Then the Birdie thought of something she hadn’t before.
What if Baby K’s birthday, she thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Baby K’s birthday, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

This precious baby girl has brought so much into our world.
The love, joy, and gratitude are enormous, and they are real!

Won’t you join me in celebrating Baby K’s birthday by sending love, good vibes, prayers, cheers, (or your favorite way to celebrate) to her today.
Please and thank you!

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I wanted to share the stories

Tuesday last I went to the PO to send out all the photos I sorted for my friends and family.
I sent five large first class envelopes, three bigger priority mail padded envelopes, and one big priority mail box.

The first text came from my cousin Chris at 11:32 Thursday morning.

Bless you Robyn! Bless you. Just got the pics you sent me. Brought some much needed happiness, and a tear to my eye. Love you.

The second text came the same day at 5:02 from his sister.

I got the pictures. Thank you so much. Perfect timing Chris is coming over tomorrow.

The third text I got was from Sally at 5:11 Thursday afternoon.

Who are the other two folks?

I got Nicole’s text at 3:24 on Saturday.

We are loving all the pics! Thank you!

At 5:40 this came from Kristen. She taught second grade to both my girls. When Thing 2 was in her class, she had her first child. We saw them frequently. With the aid of social media we stayed in touch all these years, and she was here to celebrate with us last summer at the party for Baby K!

What a surprise!!!! Thank you!!!

He’s checking himself out (heart emoji)

I heard from Becca later Saturday evening at 8:18.

OMG!!!! Loved it!!! Thank you (with a bunch of smiley heart emojis)

Sundance got quarantined away from home, so her package is at her house waiting for her.

And the big box was delivered to the Things father, but I haven’t heard anything. I mean, not that I expected to. But I keep thinking, now I regret being kind to you.

Thing 1 said, “Momma, never regret being kind.” and she’s right.
None of these packages were about me. About the response I got for sending them.

I sent photos to my friends and family because I wanted to share the stories.
Their kids were babies in some of these photos. The stories of their whole young lives caught in these images. I wanted to share those stories, those memories with their families.
I absolutely adored going through these photos. The stories they told came back in vivid detail. Jogging my memory of other stories. I spent a few days reliving my daughters young lives. It was a sacred place to be.
It was also bittersweet. This part of our lives is past. And dwelling too long there would be less precious and more painful with every passing moment.
The time I spent revisiting my life, the lives of the people I love was a beautiful gift. I’ve sent off photos to my friends and family so they can revisit their own journeys. I find myself ready to once again look forward.

I’m pleased to be finished with that portion of the process. I look forward to the time when I can be with each of my girls and go through their boxes of photos. Sharing memories, stories, laughter, and maybe even tears.
In the meantime, I have the last two boxes. These are more photos from my past. Some of me as a child. Some from the collections of my parents and grandparents.
They feel less fun to me. Though, I remain hopeful that I’ll find pics that tell a story I don’t remember. Or one the girls don’t know so I can share with them.

I do still have a box of photo CDs to add to one of those external hard drives. Though, I’m not in a big hurry to get after that. I need a break from my life as a young mother. I don’t want to feel that bittersweet feeling. That pull of the past.

Those CDs will be there. Sitting in that box. Waiting patiently until I’m ready.

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knowing and telling of stories

In case you were wondering the status of the great and arduous process, here’s an update.
This is what It looked like when I finished through 2002.

Each of those boxes was chock full of photos.
I finished the preliminary sort and purge, and returned to those boxes only the photos about which I wanted to share stories. Or photos I wanted the girls to be able to decide what to keep and what to purge.
There are five finished boxes, in those boxes, I sorted the pictures into the following categories.
Thing 1 only
Thing 2 only
the Things together
me
Mommie, Daddie, and Grandaddy (yeah, all in one box, but I only had five)

Of course then I had to bring the rest of the boxes upstairs.

At this point, I’ve gotten through 2004. I haven’t looked at photos since Saturday last. I needed a break this week.
As I sort, if it’s for one of my girls, I write the year and who’s in the pic on the back. First and last names and where the photo was taken if I know. That’s to help jog their memories.

In addition to sorting out photos for the girls, I’m setting some aside to be sent to other people. My intent is to box these up and put them in the mail just as soon as I finish the initial sort and purge. I’m only writing the date on the backs of these.

From left to right, these stacks will be sent to the following people:
Becca
Nicole
the next two are for my cousins
Brooke
Sundance
Sally
the Things father

Grandaddy was on each of these ships.
Either in WWII or Korea.
With a teeny bit of research, I was able to verify which ship was which and label accordingly.
This Golden Dragon thing was kind of cool, I just wish I knew more about it.

I have all his Navy information in a container in the basement. I’m hoping to connect each ship with his time on it, as well as locate his ribbons, dog tags, etc. and compile all that information in one place. For what purpose? Well, in the meantime, just for me. If at some point Thing 2 wants it, yay!, if not, equally yay!, it’s her choice.

It’s interesting to learn more about the man who raised me. He never talked about himself, or his life. As far as we knew, he didn’t exist until the day I was born. He was simply Grandaddy. My mom didn’t talk about his life either, or her own. I grew up knowing practically nothing about the people who raised me.
I tried to do that differently when I became a mom.
I want those girls to know who I am and why. That in addition to being their Momma, I’m a girl. A human being with thoughts and feels and plans and dreams and a sense of humor and flaws. And love.
Knowing and telling each other’s stories is so important!

I’m planning to go back to the photos this coming week.
But today, YBW and I are going to set up the porch! After his cleaning and protective sealing of the porch a couple weeks ago, I purposely waited. I wanted to let the pollening happen before we set it up for porch life. But I’m tired of waiting! I’m looking at the oak trees and realize I simply don’t have the patience to outlast them.
We’re going to set up rugs and furniture and umbrellas today.
Then I’ll be able to go out and porch life whenever I please!

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surprise book sharing

I found this on my front porch Wednesday afternoon.

It’s in a zip bag not to protect us from germs, but to protect the book from rain.
It poured all day Wednesday.

This note was enclosed.

I bought this book as a gift for Meredith on her ninth birthday. She was finishing up a thirteen book series before she started this on. We agreed it sounded interesting and she promised I could borrow it when she finished.

I’m taking a break from photos today. I made it from (approximately) 1915 through 1999 and feel like I deserve a rest.
My plan is to read this book and engage in conversation with her as soon as I’m finished. (I’m hoping about three or four hours, but we’ll see.)
If life was normal, I’d read it and walk up the street to their house, or she’d walk down the street to my house and we would snuggle up on the sofa with the book and talk talk talk.
But life isn’t normal, so I’ll text her mom and see if she can face time or we can talk. It won’t be the same, but it’s still lovely to share a book with a friend.

This is exactly what I needed today.
Wish me happy reading.

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the great and arduous process

Tuesday I brought the first five boxes up from the basement to the Nest to begin what I’ve decided to call ‘the great and arduous process’. Otherwise known as going through the last three decades of photographs. By bringing them upstairs, I’m able to use all three of my work desks to sort instead of sitting in the floor downstairs.
Score 1 for me!

These photos are sacred.
They’re my life.
The lives of my children.
The lives of my parents, and grandparents.
It feels important for me to celebrate these lives. So, I pulled out a champagne coupe and popped a bottle of bubbly.

This was meant to be a Thing 2 and Momma task, but Thing 2 isn’t coming because the world is currently safer if we stay in the place we are.
I’m doing a preliminary purge and sort. I’m working to be mindful about what I keep and why. Then she and I will do it again when we’re able to be together.
She loves photos, and the history behind them. She will be the one who carries that on when I leave this world, and I’m content with that.
About an hour and a half in, I called her to ask a somewhat unrelated question and we stayed on the phone for four hours, thirty-four minutes and eighteen seconds.
We laughed, we cried, we talked and told stories.
So, in a way, we did start this project together, if only for a little while.

My friend Holly asked me what was my end goal.
I didn’t actually have an answer for her.
But after thinking on it a moment, I replied: I think really just keeping what we want and letting go of the rest. Thing 2 will help make that decision. She’s going to pick up the mantle of being the keeper of photos at some point. Thing 1 already said doesn’t care about them, so it will really come down to what Thing 2 wants to do. I’m trying to be mindful about what’s going to be important to and for her. I want to avoid her having the ‘deal with’ them when I’m gone. If she’s involved now, we can decide together what’s important in the long run and what’s immediately important.

I look forward to the joy of sharing more stories while we hold photos in our hands.
That’s powerful stuff.

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we regret to inform you

I got an email Friday morning.
It looked like this.

To be perfectly honest, I’m just beginning to process how I feel about it.
Here’s a quick look into that:
Wait. What?
Disappointment.
Incredulity.
Fuck you, Mason.
I’m not even surprised.
We regret to inform you? Aaand fuck you some more.
A competitive program. And I’m just not competitive enough?
But WHY am I not good enough?
Am I even mad?
I have absolutely no idea what I feel.
Shiiiiit! That was my plan. Now what am I going to do?

I sent the screen cap above to YBW and both the girls Friday morning before I went to school.
YBW was initially sad for me, “Oh no! I’m so sorry, baby!” then he was mad for me, “well…fuck them.”
It was the YBWest response, and it honestly gave me great comfort. Sometimes when you can’t get mad, it’s nice to have someone get mad for you.
Thing 1 replied, “Oh no!” then texted me a bit later on, “Oh no! I just got your email (sad face emoji)”
Thing 2 replied, “How are you feeling about that email?” then after a bit I got a text that said, “How are you feeling about that email? Or are you not ready to discuss it yet?”
These three people are my strongest support network. They each responded in a way that is unique to who they are.
My love, gratitude, and appreciation are bigger than I even have words.

I have been encouraged to feel my feels before I attempt to make any plans.
I have been encouraged to consider what my feels actually mean before I begin to decide how to move forward.
I have been encouraged with love and mindful conversation.
I have been encouraged with cocktails and hugs.
I have even been encouraged by Baby K’s sweet giggles. (Like, she doesn’t know what’s up she’s just happy to talk to her Birdie. Perhaps I should take a play out of her book?)

I asked my beloved friend and mentor Jessica to write one of my two recommendation letters.
I broke down and emailed her the screen cap this morning. She replied, “I’m speechless. My heart hurts for your heart. Hugging you! Loving you!”

My therapist wrote the second letter.
She doesn’t know yet. I’ll have that conversation with her when I’m there the first week of February.

Y’all, I am disappointed.
And a little sad.
And defensive AF.
I feel overwhelmed by making a new plan. (That’s exactly why I’m being encouraged to wait.)
This Destination girl is pretty much ‘fuck all y’all’ to the Journey right now.
However, I am aware that the Journey is meant to be what’s important. (but fuck that too)

YBW suggested I take an allotted amount of time to swim around in my feels. Then amended the suggestion in case it wasn’t enough time. I’m not sure I’m actively feeling my feels. I mean, I don’t actually feel anything.
Me calling out: I’m going to need a minute over here!

Am I feeling?
Am I suppressing?
Am I feeling all the things at the same time and therefore can’t sort them out?
Seriously, fuck this.
Well, it’s pretty clear I’m feeling that, huh?

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summer gratitude

As we move into fall, I’m thinking about everything that filled my heart with joy this summer, and y’all, that list is long!
I have so much to be grateful for!

June:
sleeping in my own bed for the first time in six weeks
seeing Amber for the first time since March
date day with Mike and Josie
Describe the Night at the Woolly Mammoth (last play of the season)
impromptu trip to Williamsburg with Mike and Josie
two of my three alternative health care providers
dinner with Nora and Dale

July:
porchlife

all three of my alternative health care providers
dinner with Meredith and Beau’s family
celebrating Nora’s birthday (she and Thing 2 are birthday twins)
Thing 1, Thing 2, Husband N, and Baby K here!
pedis with my girls
Spending the day with Thing C and Girlfriend L
drinking bubbly with my girls
Bubbly & Baby party to celebrate Baby K being in our world
2 Silos with YBW, Thing 1, Thing 2, Husband N, Baby K, and Jessica
stopping cocktails on the way to the airport with Thing 2

August:
Thing 2 and Baby K here for two more weeks
model home tours
porchlife

going away party to celebrate Mike and Josie’s college bound daughter
all three alternative health care providers
Good Eats: The Return
drinking beer, cracking crab legs and peeling shrimp at Blue Ridge

the never ending road trip with Thing 1 and Baby K
seeing Thing 2 and Boyfriend J during a pit stop in Columbia
spending the second day back to school day drinking with Holly
shoot day with YBW
discovering Natty Boh with YBW
Vampire Weekend
YBW’s bestie from high school here with his fam
Nat’s game (Tony hit two dingers!)
finishing my paper

September looks like it’s starting out slow, but that’s fine by me, I’m learning to take it easy. I’m learning the journey is where it’s at. (Though, to be perfectly honest, I’m all about ‘getting there’.)
I’ve already got some stuff on the calendar for next week, but I’m curious to see what pops up.
I’m looking forward to spending more time with YBW as we move into Autumn.
Ready to make new so many new reasons to be grateful!

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