Trick or Treat

With tomorrow being Halloween, I can’t help but reminisce on last year’s Halloween, Holden’s first. And as I scroll over the days and months that have been between then and now I sit with a smile.

The sun has again started to come up later in the morning, over the trees that surround the park looking out my kitchen windows. That bright pink painting I so vividly remember alluding glimpses of hope during my Dark Ages.

Last year during this time Holden and I had just moved into our new house. The big step after living at home with my parents upon moving back for help. On our own.

Trick or Treating, being in public. Two things that were quite difficult for me at the time as I was still so emotionally unstable due to the depressive turmoil I had been struggling with months leading up to the holiday. It was Holden’s first Halloween, and through my tears I wanted to make sure he got the experience: seeing all the kids running around in costumes. Maybe even taste his first piece of candy.

He wasn’t walking yet himself. Pushed him a couple streets passed our own and called it a night. But not before running into someone I knew years earlier from a local business. “So you and your husband just moved here? Welcome to the neighborhood!”

Thank you. My steps picked up the pace and quickly turned home for safety.

The next morning, the pink sky. Hope. First Halloween down and we did it. Holden and I did it together. Another first on the list of those that hurt so much.

As I watched that same pink sky rise above the trees this morning, I’m grateful that it’s a year later now. Time has passed, firsts have passed. Changes have been made and positive things have happened. Healing has happened.

Ready for the seconds.

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When you least expect it

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I like a little cliché saying every now and again. It brings out the hopeless romantic in all of us, agree?

Things happen when you least expect them.

Don’t I know that right now. Serendipity if you will. It’s a real thing.

Up until a few weeks ago the feelings of being damaged, broken, and undeserving still resonated deep within me. Stronger, smarter, resilient qualities still on the front line, but as I mentioned before as my priest friend said, “Divorce is like a scar.”

I felt like I had moved mountains to get where I was in that I finally knew who I was, was working to get better, and knew what I wanted. But still wasn’t ready for what I wanted or hoped for. I told myself a million times over that I was okay either way.

I’d say I’m ready now. I’m ready for all of it. For happiness, for true, genuine, unconditional happiness.The catalyst for this change? That thing that happened when I wasn’t looking. When I wasn’t forcing.

Hit me like a school bus just like Regina George at the end of the movie Mean Girls. Out of nowhere.

But it felt good. It continues to feel good, feel healing. Restoring within me everything that was stolen. And doing much, much more than that.

Favorite Small Business #2

Edna Belle Vintage Jewelry

I previously blogged about why I love to support small businesses, and I plan on periodically inserting my favorites here and there with discounts for my readers. Here is one meant for the ladies!

Edna Belle Vintage Jewelry was introduced to me not long ago. A friend of mine and founder Christina Nejedly was highly praised for her one-of-a-kind bridesmaids jewelry in her own wedding.

How adorable is this?

I have always loved arts and crafts since childhood; and now as an adult, I firmly believe when you can’t find what you’re looking for, just do it yourself! In anything, art, home decor… jewelry!

One thing led to another and Christina launched her business named after her grandmother who she says, “gave her inspiration to be unique, be herself, and be confident.”

The best part is that she finds vintage pieces to collaborate with her beautiful beads, “each with their own story”; furthermore, she is able to incorporate any piece of your own into something wearable. What a great idea!

I loved the style so much I donned one of these necklaces shortly after finding out about Edna Belle. This one holds two classic vintage gold earrings.

Christina is kind enough to offer a 20% off discount to my readers. To claim the discount, shop on her etsy site and enter “Twenty20” at checkout.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/EdnaBelleJewelry

And while you’re at it, feel free to “like” her facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/EdnaBelleJewelry?fref=ts

Thanks Christina!

Making people better

A topic that’s come up in my life recently.

“I like human nature and always see that bringing people together through pure intent leaves people thinking more clear, globally and better,” he said.

It’s a great thing to strive for- wanting to make people better for knowing you. Though, one’s perception of what that “better” definition can completely vary from person to person; however, most perceptions of the word are all GOOD perceptions. I liked this recent definition.

For me, I definitely want people to be better for knowing me. I have always felt obligated to this idea.

That betterness, to me, would probably mean this.

I want people who come into my life happier for knowing me. Happier is better right? Sadness does not make people better. This I learned the hard way.

How do I make people feel happier? What I would hope is that, any effort, word, gesture and so forth, that I put forth other people should be positive, like in the form of a gift. Gifts make people happy right? In a non-tangible way I’m thinking though. I’m a giver, or I like to think that I am. I hope I’m a giver. I like to support, encourage, provide for people… in any way those gifts can be given- a smile, a touch, a sentence, even a fragment (something I use to convey a lot in my writing), I hope, when it matters, just makes anyone better. Simple gifts.

Any time those gifts have been given to me, especially over the past year and a half, I’ve walked away better because of them.

Moments of chaos

I must hear “I don’t know how you do it” five times a week.

When I began this blog, I asked myself how on earth I would make time for it among every other priority in my life.

(Did I mention that I also have two dogs? Two dogs that are sometimes more high maintenance than my soon-to-be tow-headed terrible-two. Like texts from my mom, my dogs can account for their own blog too. Maggie and Benny, also known as Pinky and the Brain, well because “one is a genius, the other’s insane.”)

People who look out for me question how I take on so much. Dad especially wonders this. Wonders and worries: the job of a father.

So let’s see, how I do it. I don’t know how. All I know is that I do do it. Another superpower of mine since becoming a mother-you don’t have the answers to everything, but you do it. You do it the best you can and you do it with a smile on your face. Every single day.

And I want to do it. Every single day.

However, I’m sure anyone who has asked me this imply it as I don’t know how you do it as a single mother. I get it. It does in fact make it a little more difficult to say the least. However just because I do it, and am happy doing it, and I want to do it, doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of daily chaos. When it seems as though anything that could go wrong does, in fact, go wrong, and go wrong all during the same time. Many of these times have to do with those two dogs I mentioned. These are the moments where I shut down. Close my eyes and count to ten very, very slowly. Open them, pick up, and start all over again.

Sometimes when my eyes open back up I look for Ashton Kutcher and a camera. I get punk’d at least ten times a week.

Here’s one of those moments. Last month, we were busily preparing for Hurricane Isaac’s arrival down here in Baton Rouge. The whole family was staying at my parents’ home because of the generator installed after the last storm. I was the first to arrive. Of course I’d watch the dogs while everyone else was gone dealing with their own chaos. After all, Holden loves animals. We’d have fun.

I was amidst a nasty transaction for work in which a house was scheduled to close days after the hurricane. Wait it out, that’s what we were to do. Anxiety was already high on this deal because it was a lawsuit waiting to happen. Please God, don’t let this hurricane do any more damage to this house.

Holden and I were sitting on the courtyard playing with the dogs. Phone rings, I answer. One of his favorite things to do is dump anything out of anything. Goldfish in cups, cereal out of the box. This time, dog cookies. About a hundred small dog cookies. As I’m on the phone with an attorney presiding over this case of my nasty transaction and am seeking legal advice. Like vultures, the dogs attacked. Moments after bending down trying to swoop all of the cookies up from being eaten (obviously problematic because this right before the dogs weren’t going to be able to go outside for days) I realize the front gate is open and I don’t see Holden.

He’s pulled this little stunt on me a few times too many. I run. Still on the phone. To the west I see Holden running, to the east I see Titan running. Titan is my sister’s dog who lives in New Orleans, a puggle. Has separation anxiety and is not used to not having my sister or  her boyfriend around. When I mentioned that the whole family was staying at my parents’ home this included five dogs. To say it was a circus would be an understatement.

I run after Holden as he’s laughing and thinks its a game. Still on the phone. I’m thinking Titan is now long gone. Holden in my arms, he’s eating something. Dog cookie? Nope, I forgot in my other hand I was holding a plate of food I originally started running with so the dogs wouldn’t eat the hundred dog cookies AND a plate full of chips and a sandwhich that Holden had been snacking on.

So I’m running after Titan, on the phone, with Holden on one hip as he is scarfing down the chips that are being held on a plate by my other hand. Titan dodges me a few times and I finally get him back to safety on the courtyard.

Inside we went. Us and the dogs. Maggie, or Pinky if you will, doesn’t like other dogs stepping on her territory. I love her to death, but she’s got some screws loose. When you make eye contact, let’s just say you can tell she has a big heart. It looks like the lights are on but no one’s home. Titan steps on her territory. Dog fight in the living room. Titan vs. Maggie. I’m in the middle pulling them apart.

Then, BAM! What just happened? Am I paralyzed? Ouch something hurts. I can’t feel my neck.

Holden had “jumped” to me off of the ottoman in the living room during the dog fight. He had recently learned to jump in that gymnastics class I had mentioned earlier. Only his jump isn’t a jump. It’s more of a trust fall, forward. Off of an ottoman? More like a swan dive at this point. So he jumped right into my back.

It’s okay though, it hurt me more than him. He’s fearless as I’ve mentioned numerous times. Big red knot on the forehead? No big deal. Not even a tear.

By now I’ve had it with these damn dogs. Out to the backyard they went, as my mom suggested when I called fuming. “They’ll be fine; they just need to warm up to each other.”

Bathed Holden. Fifteen minutes later, let the dogs back in. I felt like a school teacher counting the heads coming in from recess. One dog, two dog, three dog…three dog… three dog. Who’s missing? OH MY GOD! WHERE IS TITAN!?

Check the side gates. Closed. Damnit. Where is he?! Don’t panic, don’t panic, I’m sure he’s just hiding in the bushes. Seconds later I’m calling my sister. “Alex, does Titan like to hide?” Sometimes, why?

He wasn’t hiding. He escaped. He’s long gone by now. They just needed to warm up, right mom? Wrong!

Pacing, I took Holden with me. Back and forth back and forth. Then a bark. I heard it! Coming from the front of the house. Open the front door. There’s Titan, sitting on the courtyard. That was a close one.

Dammit, when is everyone getting home? This is too much. Before I could take a deep breath, Holden had already poured out the dog bowl of water all over himself, freshly bathed and clean, and all over the concrete floor. Smiling at me with his goofy little smile.

Close my eyes. Count to ten. Very, very slowly. Chaos.

Daddy’s little girl

All I want is for you to be happy.

It was something I had been hearing from him over and over ever since I could remember, so there was no surprise that this was the theme throughout his toast at my 2009 wedding. The speech that wasn’t about my new husband and me, but about my dad and me.

I was happy. I was giving him what he wanted. I thought I was happy.

I had always been his baby girl. His youngest daughter, so naturally he was more protective over me. I was never as strong as my siblings though, extremely vulnerable, not too good at holding my own. So he always did it for me. I depended on him for decision-making. I trusted him more than myself, still do from time to time.

Ironic to see that one major decision I made without him led to the demise of my happiness, or the self-invented happiness I had at the time.

You see, I put my dad in a tough predicament. One in which I suppose many fathers find themselves in when their daughters become “in love.” One in which I have also come to kick myself over and over for even putting him in that position. He didn’t deserve it. He had a picture of my future. The future he wanted for me, raised me to have. The future I didn’t get in the end, or during this short period of my life. But what’s a dad to do when all he wants is for his daughter to be happy? If she thinks she knows what constitutes that happiness, all he can do is support. So that’s what he did. And still does.

Ironic also to see that my dad was also the backbone to my healing process, my hero. Mom and I used to joke that during our Dark Ages, he needed to just hook us up to IVs in the living room and go comatose until it was all over. Dad was going to take care of it all, it was going to be okay. We can laugh at that now. And it is okay now. Because of my dad’s support.

I am forever grateful for the strength he provided in lieu of my own when I needed strength the most.

You see, my dad in the profession that he has, one that is extremely demanding of time and emotion, has a lot on his plate. Every day. I always get a good smile out when people ask what my dad does in the off-season. As if it is a part-time job. Sometimes I wish it was, so he could have a little break for himself.

Little do many people know the sacrifices that he has made for the last 35+ years in collegiate coaching to get where he is. I know these sacrifices weigh on his shoulders from time to time, but I want him to know I never felt sacrificed.

I recently started watching Modern Family, Season 1 (encouraged to do so by my friends). The third episode begins with a question of fatherhood, what it means to be a dad, etc. I believe the quotation that wrapped it all up was that “90% of being a dad is just showing up.”

I think showing up would include much of the following. Rushing home to tuck us in at night after a long day’s work; running on the outside of the fence next to me while running the mile in track growing up (yes, for all four laps around); endless hours he dedicated to tutoring his kids through high school; walking alongside the pool cheering for us kids with every breath of air we took during those summers on the swim team (which we all despised…mostly due to having to wear a swim cap); gasping with his eyes clothes every time I was tossed in the air as a cheerleader; every phone call made to give a pep talk before a college statistics exam; every phone call made to support after those college statistics exams. These are minor examples.

I’d say he showed up. I’d say he’s done more than that, and still does.

It’s a family joke we have that dad is our family manager. He’s our guidance counselor, our tutor, our coach, our friend, our supporter, our provider. The list could go on. I don’t know how he does it with the profession that he’s in, but he does. For all that he does for his family, I’m surprised he can have a profession.

Though, we will definitely all admit it’s not a normal career for a father by any means. We never took family vacations. I guess we still don’t. Growing up I guess our vacations consisted of each one of us kids deciding which away-trip we were going on with dad and the team. I repeatedly chose Minneapolis for the Mall of America of course. I was twelve on one of these trips. If you’ve taken a glance at the picture of myself at thirteen way down at the beginning of the blog, just know that twelve wasn’t too different. And I got to sit next to my enormous crush on dad’s team on the plane ride. A dream come true. I, with braces beaming, complimented his pink shirt. He must have been 20. Corrected me the shirt was actually salmon-colored. My first heartbreak. But it was okay; Daddy was there for me.

Lifetimes later, he’s still there for me. Still consoling me, guiding me. Teaching me what’s right and wrong. I will be forever grateful for the immense support given not just during difficult times in my life, but also for just “showing up.”

6, 16, 26. Doesn’t matter what age I’m at. I’m still daddy’s little girl.

And then there were two

My son’s hair has a mind of its own. Sometimes wavy, sometimes straight. But never without one tiny, tight ringlet on his colic on the top of the back left side of his head. It is the most random thing about him.

The first curl debuts. August 2012

Still here. September 2012

He had a haircut (his second) this afternoon, and after waking up from his nap… I found TWO tiny, right ringlets.

Two curls appear. October 2012

I wonder if he will have 3 next month… I guess I will have to wait this one out…!

And of course, Lula and Papa had to be present for the second haircut milestone.