Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Makeup Junkie

My makeup obsession is a direct result of my parent's divorce. I'm only sort of joking. 

How, you ask? 

I had begged and pleaded to wear makeup. I was 12. All the girls were wearing it. And so was Madonna. My parents were trying to ruin my life!! It was just mascara, eyeliner.....geesh! 

They turned me down. And turned me down again. Somehow in their crazy parent brains, makeup (and shaving legs but that's a different story) meant I'd be pregnant in high school. HAHAHA

Then my parents split. And my mom (I think in an effort to make dad mad) cut my hair and bought me makeup. Hallelujah! I would finally be pretty!! 

My mother (who still doesn't wear makeup) stood in the bathroom and told me to apply the light pink very very lightly to my eyelid and then swipe on some mascara. I was lucky a few weeks later when she allowed me to add some blue eyeshadow. No foundation, no eyeliner and DEFINITELY no lipstick. 

Yay, I was pretty! 

Then we moved to Oregon. I was 13. And I started hanging around Tracy, a friend I'd had for a while because of our moms but now we were friends because of us. Tracy taught me all kinds of great things like how to pick up boys, how to sneak out, and some other things that aren't suitable for a blog with no warning. She also taught me to sneak over to her house, use her makeup, make my hair big, and go out to pick up guys at the mall, pretending to be 16 or 17 so that the "older" boys would like us. (Oh god, I'm so glad I don't have girls!)

That was also the summer my dad told me he left my mom because she quit taking care of herself....she never fixed her hair or did her makeup. 

Voila'  - a makeup junkie was born! 

I think I'm pretty good at it. I've learned that it should generally be applied to enhance what you've already got, not cover it up in tacky crazy colors. I actually love it enough that in the perfect world, I'd be a makeup artist. So thinking about 2014, I decided to make that happen (or at least a version of it)....I've asked to help with the makeup for community productions at our local theater! 

So I thought I'd share some makeup tips in 2014. Just things that work for me. I'm not an expert - there's your warning.

To start with, I wanted to share this video on Youtube. I found her the other day when I was bored. In this video, she's showing how to get a 1920s look. My favorite thing about this video however is that she shares little pieces of history. Interesting facts (at least to someone like me). 

Then I spent my Sunday, in my pajamas, watching the Bears game (dang it, they lost) and did my makeup to sit around the house. 

Here's how it turned out. By the way, I should have made my eye makeup darker. Lesson learned. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Learning to Love Me

Stretch marks, flabby stomach, bat wings, cellulite, a weird belly button, ugly feet, gray hair, wrinkles that have suddenly appeared on my cheeks, weird bags under my eyes that no one else sees, sparse eyebrows, blonde short eyelashes, saggy boobs, hair that's turning gray, a flat butt, thick thighs.....

I'll just stop there. It's the short start of a long list of things I don't like about the way I look. I could keep going but I won't. 

On my annual bucket list, I always pick a challenge or two. This year, I've picked the challenge of all challenges. . .

to learn to love my body. 

To make the challenge even more daunting, I mean love it no matter my weight or my clothing size. I mean loving my body no matter what. 

I hate failure so I'm starting early. I have 352 days and I think I'm going to need every single one. 

I've spent a good amount of time the last few days reading a book, reading articles online, and basically researching how other's have learned to love their bodies. 

And I'm disappointed. 

I'm not saying there's a right way or a wrong way but for me, I can't learn to love my body by looking for acceptance from a man. No offense, but men are part of the reason I loathe my own skin. My first husband swore he cheated because I'd let myself go. Even my own dad told me when I was 15 that he cheated on mom because "she let herself go." My first boyfriend dictated how I look. Let's just say they haven't helped. 

I've read article after article that says that I should look at myself through "his" eyes.....the expert points out that most men are just excited to see you naked, that they don't care about your stretch marks or wrinkles or flabby butt. The experts seem to say accept yourself the way others see you. This seems just plain....


Accepting myself the way others see me is all well and good and fine if I'm looking through the eyes of someone who thinks I'm spectacular. But what about the person who doesn't? 

I want to learn to really love my body, not judge my own body based on someone else's opinion. The truth is there will always be someone who doesn't think I'm attractive or sexy or thinks my thighs are too jiggly, big, or whatever. Who cares? This is about me! 

I don't know how to make this happen but I'm trying. "How," you ask? 

Here's where I'm starting:
  • Permission - I am going to give myself permission to feel sexy, beautiful, and strong. Rarely (but occassionally), I'll have a moment where I look in the mirror and think, "Dang girl, not bad at all. In fact, you might be a little sexy Heather." Then just as quickly, I'm reminded by an inner voice that says I'm arrogant, superficial, and egotistical for thinking that so just as quickly I start pointing out the things that aren't so good. As of right now, I'm giving myself permission to feel sexy, beautiful, and strong. 
  • Banishing Negative Talk - Give a group of women five minutes and within 2 or 3, we'll be complaining about something related to how we look. Here's your warning friends...I will NOT participate in negative image talk. I will not complain about my thighs but I also won't listen to you complain about yours. Let's be each other's cheerleaders and avoid the body-bashing train wreck. 
  • Accept Compliments - It sounds and feels foreign but from now on, I'm going to just say thank you when someone compliments me. Gone are the days where I argue with you. When someone tells me I have great hair, I'm going to avoid telling them it's turning gray. When someone tells me I'm looking great, I'm not going to point out that I have 40 lbs left to go. I'm going to respond to compliments with Thank You. 
  • Marvel at the Magic - If I really think about it, my body is pretty magical. Oh, not like you think but last night, I was thinking of it like this....it's given birth to two amazing sons. Fed them even. My bones have been broken and healed. I had skin cancer removed and still my skin survived. I can walk, run even. It's been strong enough to carry an extra 80 lbs. I breathe, I live, I move...all with this body I'm quick to loathe. 
  • Dance - I'm going to admit something to you...the only time I really ever feel sexy is when I'm dancing like no one is watching. There's fluidity and grace and creativity and passion and a certain flowing quality. I usually think I lack grace and am more like a bull in a china shop, but when I dance, all that goes away. It's liberating to move your body to some awesome music. I don't even care if I'm a good dancer! 
Well, there's where I'm starting. I'd love other ideas. . . if you've got them, share them. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sleigh Bells Ring...

Imagine a field covered in pure white snow - not a single track save for an animal or two. Thousands of ice crystals blanket the ground, sparkling from the sunlight. The sun shining above and the deep blue sky contrasts with the white snow. All of this framed by majestic mountains and lots of trees.
Percheron horses stand in the snow

Big Percheron horses stand ready to pull a sled. The sled is filled with hay bales and a big fire glows, read to warm 20 to 30 people. It's a peaceful scene, save for the 10-15 kids ready to ride the sled around the field. The kids are bundled up, throwing snowballs, dunking each other in the snow. The adults stand around the fire, drinking hot chocolate and homemade peppermint schnapps or coffee with homemade Kahlua. Big pots of chili warming by the fire. The adults are visiting, the kids are laughing - when the family patriarch Joe steps up and grabs the reins. Kids pile on the sled, a few of the adults leave the fire to join the ride. 

The sled lunges forward as the horses take off. They find their groove and make the first cut into the snow. The kids are smiling, pushing each other off the back of the sled - running to catch up and get back on. The sled makes several passes through the field. The kids are frozen, the adults are happy.

This is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Growing up in beautiful southwestern Colorado, our family was lucky enough to call the Kolz family friends. They welcomed us as if we were family and every December, invited us to their place for sled rides and fun. Twenty to thirty of us would gather to ring in the holiday season.

Thinking about the Kolz family and these magical days always puts Christmas into perspective for me. It's easy to get stressed about whether I've bought enough, done enough, been perfect enough.

And then I smile and realize that my favorite Christmas memories have nothing to do with presents. It's about memories.

Let me share a few others:

  • My grandparents lived in Oregon and one year, we drove through the night (at least that's the way it seemed) to surprise them. We knocked on their door and I'll never forget the look on their faces. Mom swore we'd never surprise them again...she was afraid they'd have a heart attack. 
  • My other grandma lived in Tuscon. Grandma Carmen wasn't always the nicest and she didn't give the best gifts. But we'd drive for hours - my sister and I in the back seat, reading our Archie comic books, singing Christmas Carols, reading road signs, and eating a lot of junk food. The year my sister learned to read was also the year I got my first tape recorder. We made my grandma a tape for Christmas. From Colorado to Tuscon, I sang songs in my little 8 or 9 year old voice while my sister recorded herself reading every single road sign for miles and miles. A few years ago, my aunt gave me the tape and I smiled as I listened to it. A moment in time captured forever....my sis's little voice proud to be reading, my voice proudly singing before anyone took away my confidence. 
  • Stockings were always a big deal in our family. To this day, it's my favorite part of the present process. My mom would fill our huge stockings with goofy toys, nail polish, lip gloss, candy and other silly little trinkets. Our stockings would be over flowing while my mom's hung empty. One year when I was about 10, my sister and I talked about the injustice - mom never had anything in her stocking. With no money, we whipped up a plan to fill it up. We scoured the house for treasures. We found lighters mom had lost. Pens that had been lost in the couch cushions. We drew pictures, wrote her notes....and we proudly filled that stocking with our home's lost and found treasures. 
  • My first Christmas with Marcus - he was 8 months old. I remember his smiles and giggles as he played in the wrapping paper. Crawling around on the floor, sticking bows to his forehead and climbing up on my lap with the biggest grin. 
  • My second Christmas with Chad - I was in recovery from a tubal pregnancy that had ruptured, resulting in emergency surgery. I was depressed, lost inside myself, and focused more on the baby I lost than the family I had. Chad and Marcus went out one day, leaving me alone. They returned with the biggest Christmas tree I'd ever seen in my life. It literally filled half our living room. They turned on the Christmas music and set about to cheer me up. 

I know I'm forgetting some but every year, a few days before Christmas, I want to run out and buy more things. I want to spend the last few dollars I have to buy more. And then, I put everyone in bed, turn off all the lights except for the Christmas tree, sit on the couch with a cup of tea, and think back on my favorite Christmas memories. And I am reminded that Christmas doesn't come in a box. Merry Christmas everyone! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Last year on Pinterest, I saw a post for a "Our Favorite Things Party" and loved the idea. Over the years, I've had card exchange parties and cookie exchange parties but this sounded much more fun - boy was I right!

The invitation
To begin with, I picked a date and created an invitation.

Normally I would invite my close circle of friends but I decided to extend invitations to women I've met through the Chamber of Commerce that I thought I'd like to know a little better.

The rules were simple:

Pick your favorite thing under $6, purchase 5, wrap them up and bring them to the party. It could be a beauty item, a kitchen gadget, or something else. 

Then I had the fun of planning the menu and decorating the house. I scoured pinterest for recipes and decorating ideas.

And here's where I make an admission.....I'm not Martha Stewart and I cheated! 

Normally, I'd make everything from scratch and strive for perfection....making myself crazy with recipes filled with butter and cheese and bacon and deliciousness. I'd be worn out from baking, cooking, cleaning....this year, I focused on the one or two things I do really really well and then opted for some pre-made things to save me some stress.

The other 'cheat' I did was to allow my friends to bring something. I hate to throw a party and ask my guests to bring anything. It just doesn't feel right. I got over that this year. Everyone asked, "What can I bring?" My pride started to say nothing but truth is, money's a little tight and time's a little short so I started giving them ideas. It worked well and everyone thinks next year's party should be potluck!

The gifts pile up under the tree
Ok, on to the fun. The guests began to arrive and my little house was soon packed with amazing women and fun packages.

We started having a few drinks, eating some food, introducing eachother.

It was fun to have an eclectic group of ladies at my house and be able to introduce people who hadn't had a chance to meet yet.

At one point, someone decided to play "Six Degrees of Heather" and everyone talked about their connection to me.

I know how I feel about each of these women but it was really heartwarming to hear them talk about me (and a LOT embarassing haha).

There were women I'd met through my kids sporting events. Women I'd met through my ex-husband (he was a firefighter).
A woman I'd met when I purchased a black lab from her.
And of course, women I knew from work.

Me and Rachael  - she started as a volunteer
on my events and is now a good friend

They all had something in common.....beautiful, caring, kind, generous, and incredibly funny!!

Then the gift giving began.

Each of us grabbed our gifts, said a little something about our "favorite thing" and then drew five names to give the gift to. Each of us ended up with five gifts at the end. It was full of laughs and so interesting to see what our "favorite things" were.

We got socks, lotion, lip gloss, tea, candles, gift certificates for a book or a coffee, chocolates, champagne, kitchen hand towels, scarves, and rubber spatulas.

Laurie (in the middle) and her daughter Adrienne on the left- 
I know them through my ex-husband. Laurie and I fish together
each year. Cathy on the right - we met through our oldest
sons football careers:) 

But mostly we got a few laughs, lots of cheer, and the opportunity to celebrate friendship and the holiday season! I think this is a new tradition!

 A few photos from the evening:
Valerie (on the left) and I met through the Ford Family Program.
She's truly one of the most beautiful women I know. I'll write
about her sometime.
Angee (on the right) and I have a funny history. I dated her ex-husband and
when we parted ways, her and I have remained

Tashia (on the left) owns Tashi Soap Company - maker of the best lotion
on the planet. I don't know her well but I really like her.
Kristi (on the right) is one of my best friends.
I've known her the longest here in Klamath. Our boys are friends. 

Judi (on the left) is a new friend. I met her during a football game
when I realized she was the only mom in the stands louder than me.
Amber (on the right) has a son who's friends with Nate. 
Shannon (standing) sold me a black lab.  Melinda
(sitting in the middle) owns several wonderful stores and has
become a good friend. 

Amanda (middle) left her job at the Chamber, creating an
opening for me to attempt to take her place. Shari (right) and
I first met when her ex-husband coached Nate's
tee-ball team five years ago. 

My new favorite Christmas drink -
Peppermint White Russian yum!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2014 List - 39 by 39

Yesterday, I turned 38. I celebrated with friends and family. I got a few gifts, enjoyed a few laughs, and had a bit too much to drink. 

All last week, I thought about my 39 by 39 list. What would make the list? What's important to me? What types of things could I add that don't cost a lot of money? I did pretty well with last year's list.

Without further adieu, here's my 39 by 39 list:

39 by 39

  1. Receive my certificate in web design
  2. Try standup paddleboarding
  3. Climb Mt. McLoughlin
  4. Create a website
  5. Be on stage
  6. Sew a skirt of dress with fabric I love
  7. Save $2000
  8. Visit Cheya
  9. Cross a finish line
  10. Get a tattoo
  11. Dance (outside my house, somewhere besides my kitchen)
  12. Conquer a fear
  13. Start my memoir
  14. Hike Stuart Falls trail
  15. Be able to hold plank for 2 minutes
  16. Learn to love my body (oh this one's going to be HARD)
  17. Be able to do 20 proper pushups
  18. Be a bridesmaid in a beautiful wedding
  19. Sleep under the stars
  20. Complete six passport nights
  21. Master three yoga poses (mountain, Warrior 1, and bridge)
  22. Ride my bike to work
  23. Start a regular weight training regime
  24. go camping
  25. take a fashion risk
  26. get my passport
  27. take the kids on a vacation
  28. Visit Lassen Park
  29. Go to a play in Ashland
  30. Decorate my bedroom
  31. Teach my kids to cook
  32. Take a weekend trip without the kids and cut loose
  33. Kiss in the rain
  34. Plan and save for Marc's graduation trip
  35. Buy a swimsuit and wear it
  36. Do something awesome for Marc's 18th bday
  37. Go to Reno for the Santa Pub Crawl in December
  38. Go to my 20 year class reunion
  39. Go to Chozu Gardens in Ashland
And there it is. Looks like a lofty list of goals. I'm a little terrified of failure. Fingers crossed!! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

38 x 38 - Best Shape in 10 Years

Every year on my bucket list, I end up with "lose xx pounds." One year it was 50 lbs. One year it was 30 lbs.

This year, I changed it up and didn't add an amount. I just wanted to "get in the best shape I've been in in 10 years." I figured that way even if I only lost 10 lbs, I had won.

So in May, as you know, I started Take Shape for Life. My health coach worked with me, I started reading Dr. A's Habits of Health (highly recommend) and I started losing weight. I lost 10, then 20, and before I knew it, I had lost 50 lbs. And I kept going.

I now weigh less than I have in 17 years. And I'm only 15 lbs away from my weight when I got pregnant with my oldest son eighteen years ago. That is significant because it's also the last time I remember liking my body.

So without further adieu, let's mark that one off the list and show some pictures:

So, the stats are....I've lost 80 lbs and many many many inches!! I think I can call that a success. I have about 40 more to go. Sweet!!

As we head into resolution season, I'm happy to help you reach your goals. Let me know if you want to know more!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

38 x 38 - Take a Class on Photoshop

I've always wanted to learn how to use photoshop. Admittedly, I really wanted to know 80 lbs ago so that I could make myself look thinner. hahahahahah

Photoshop classes aren't offered often here in Klamath so I took some down time to try a few online tutorials. Of course, I started with beauty retouching tutorials. The key here is to not change them drastically. I thought this was a good resource (although one or two of the links didn't work).

So I took a decent picture of myself (instead of trying to start with something horrible):

And then I lightened it, got rid of a few stray hairs (look at the top of my head), gave myself a nip/tuck in the chin area and whitened my eyes to make them stand out a little more behind my glasses. I think for having never done it before it's not too bad.

Then I messed with a landscape photo.



Mark it off my list!! I'm not an expert but it's a start.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Story of Faith

If I had to choose a defining moment in my life, it would be April 17, 1996 around 6 a.m.

The moment I held proof in my arms that God exists. 

This is what's on my mind today as we celebrate the Christmas season - the birth of Jesus Christ. You may have heard this story - I've told it on occasion but I wanted to share it again. (and yes, I know I have very close friends who don't believe but read along anyway:) 

The backstory:

Until that moment on a cold April day, I didn't believe in God.

Oh but I believed in Hell. 

I was about 10 or 11 the first time I went to church. A friend invited me to Sunday school and promised they'd have ice cream. Well then....count me in! We went and played games and the guy talked about a man named Abraham, a woman named Ruth, blah blah blah.....just get me to the ice cream. 

I went several times over the years to that Baptist Church (half my friends went there). I went just enough times to scare me into believing that I was surely going to hell. I listened to rock music, wanted to kiss a boy, and had thought mean things about my little sister. I didn't believe in God but thanks to that church, I certainly believed in Hell. 

And then there was the Catholic Church in town. It was beautiful, majestic, and seemed to hold powers inside its walls. The other half of my friends went there. I was jealous of the blessed palm fronds that they hung above their bed. I wanted palm fronds. I wanted the ash mark on my forehead. So I went. I listened to him talk about crucifixion and resurrection and being saved. 

And I smiled and trembled with excitement as I broke the rules and walked up to take communion. It was against all the rules and it felt really good. As I stood in line, I wondered if the priest would know. If he could detect that I hadn't been through the secret ceremony that would make me worthy of receiving the little cracker and the drop of wine. I wondered if I'd burst into flames. Again, I didn't really believe in God but I definitely believed something greater would punish me. 

And then, my friends explained confession to me. And it seemed silly. Unbelievable. I have parents and I could tell you that simply "confessing" your wrong-doings would certainly NOT just wash your sins away. And while I'd only been to church periodically, I was definitely learning that there were a LONG list of sins and even at 12, I was a sinner!!

Then I'd lay awake at night wondering how if there was nothing, there could be something and that something would create everything. Yeah, right. Nope, not a believer. 

And then I lost a few friends. And watched a few friends go through horrific things. And then felt the pain as I went through some terrible things. And I watched good people die and bad people live. And I'd wonder if there was a God why he didn't answer the three or four prayers I'd said in my lifetime. 

I rarely gave God another thought unless I was arguing with my religious friends...making fun of them. 

The rest of the story:
After hours of labor, the moment had come. It was April 17th in the early morning when the doctor told me I had a boy. They placed Marcus in my arms and I looked down into the eyes of this little being that had just come from me. I made some kind of motherly noise from deep within as I marveled at it and I remember his little blue eyes meeting mine. 

And my very first thought I remember with perfect clarity was....

"There really is a God!!" 

And for days, weeks, even now, I marvel at His magic. There's no way it could be explained by science alone. There's magic in the world and while I know the science behind it, there are some things that must have just a little piece of magic. 

Now I've never embraced "religion" or church. I despise the rules that seem to have no basis. I dislike the "ceremony" that doesn't seem rooted in anything that matters. And I really don't like the judgmental attitudes.

And I'm glad I finally know God without the fear of Hell.

So I celebrate Jesus' birth this holiday season. And the joy, magic, and hope that He brings to my life. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vision 2014

Have you ever created a vision board for your goals? Me either. But I have 40 more lbs to lose and a good friend suggested making one, hanging it in a few places, and using it for some extra motivation. I thought it'd be a good idea. 

I'm not really lacking motivation. But when you go from nearly 300 lbs to under 200, it's easy to think you've made it. It's easy to get complacent, happy with the way you look. In other words, it'd be really easy for me right now to say I'm done and I'd probably be satisfied. I could keep it off even. I look at my old pictures and think "Dang girl, you look great now." 

But I'm not done. 40 more (I think) to go. Plus I need to add some fitness goals in there. So I took my friend's advice and made a vision board. 

As usual, I nearly overthought it. I sometimes think I should have more noble goals....but the truth is most of it's pretty shallow.

I could tell you that I want to live a long time (and that's true) but honestly, it's a lot about looks. 
And clothes. 
The ability to wear the clothes I want. 
To feel sexy. 
To dance and move more gracefully. 
To be comfortable in my skin. 

There's a few others. I need more hiking time. More mountain climbing. More physical activity. 

to be a role model. An example. 

to be tattooed. (ok, I already am, but I want more)

to be a hot 40 year old. Don't judge - it's my vision:) 

Monday, December 2, 2013

38 x 38 - A Handwritten Letter

In my treasures, some of those that I hold most dear are handwritten letters. It began when I was young and I'd look forward to receiving mail from my Great Grandma. Her handwriting was beautiful - loopy and graceful. Her letter written on a piece of stationary she'd handpicked. My name written clearly on the envelope. I rarely wrote her back.

Later, I had a pen pal here and there as part of a school program. I always looked forward to the letters in the mail filled with stories from other parts of the world. I'd write back about what happens in our school, descriptions of our little town in Colorado, and lament about this or that.

When my parents divorced, my dad would send letters to me often. He'd send me a note in his awful chicken scratch handwriting and share with me his thoughts. It was not uncommon for him to include a piece of poetry he'd written. I'd write back and I found it was sometimes easier to say what was on my mind in a letter versus over the phone. I'd send back a piece of my own poetry and then later, we'd talk about it on the phone.

When my grandma passed the family bible on to me, I was thrilled to find letters neatly tucked inside. Many dated to the 1920s to family members I never knew. These letters tell of a different time. Back to a time when we couldn't log on to facebook and be accosted by details of every minute of every day for each of our friends. These letters share news on the weather, updates on the kids, and my favorite ones...the love letters expressing undying devotion and fondness.

As an adult, I write little notes to the kids all the time. I slip the notes in their lunch box, under their pillows, or even write notes on the bathroom mirror. Nate and I have a notebook we pass back and forth. He writes something to me whenever he feels like it, passes it to me, and then when I feel like it, I write back.

But I don't normally write letters. It's so much easier to type an email, send a text, or pick up the phone to call. And I don't receive letters either which bums me out.

So this year, I added "Write a handwritten letter once a month" to my annual bucket list.

It was harder than you'd think. We are all so connected via internet and cell phones that sometimes it feels as if I have nothing to share. I also believe we've lost our ability to story tell. We're so used to the "status" update on Facebook that we write the same way - "Kids are good. I'm well. Work's going good."

It takes work to write an interesting letter.

And then there's the "who" - who the heck are you going to send a letter to that you don't communicate with on a regular basis. Unfortunately for me, I had two people in my life in situations that made regular communication difficult so I chose to write to them.

Alex joined the military and while he was at boot camp, regular communication was impossible. Then he left
A surprise visitor this weekend -
Alex stopped in to see Nate!
for pre-deployment training and again, was incommunicado. He never wrote back but occassionally called on the phone and let me know he appreciated the notes from Klamath. I shared news of our lives, what Nate and Marc were up to, and just general Klamath happenings.

He was away from home and just wanted to feel connected.

(A holiday note: when we returned from Burns this weekend, Alex was in town unexpectedly. He stopped by to give Nate a hug, stuck around for some xbox for a minute, and then left to return to more pre-deployment training).

And then there was another good friend of mine who will go unnamed. My beautiful friend had made a mistake that snowballed to another mistake and so on and so forth. Long story short, she ended up in jail for six months. She was so embarassed that she hadn't even told me. I remember her being stressed, I remember wondering why I hadn't heard from her in a month or two. And then I discovered why. I called the jail and got her address. Sent her a letter. It was short and sweet and let her know she was on my mind. It took a month for her to write back and in it, she told me most of the story.

As I had guessed, she was embarassed to tell me so she didn't. Letter writing made it easier to open up. I wrote to her regularly. I didn't share everything in my day-to-day like I did with Alex. We shared thoughts, fears, and worries. Our letters were "deeper" if you will. I didn't feel right lamenting the big shoe sale I missed out on or how bad I disliked this or that....she was in jail and it all seemed insignificant. Instead, I told her my worries about the kids and she shared her fears about her own kids. We talked about our shortfalls but also our strengths. My letters were filled with encouragement and well-wishes but also some of my innermost thoughts.

She was away from home and just wanted to feel loved.

I wrote two letters every single month this year. And I have a feeling I'll continue on. Now if someone would just write back.......:)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving #28 - A Crazy Wonderful Life

I've believed in the power of being thankful for a long time. Even on my worst days, I've been able to find something to thank God for. This month, as I posted something I'm thankful for each day, it was a good reminder during a month that's been a little rough emotionally, spiritually, and of course, financially. 

Even then, it's been pretty easy each day to identify one thing I'm grateful for. It's easy to get in a rut and start looking at the things that are "wrong" in life. But as soon as I identify one thing, it's easier to identify the second. And the third. And before I know it, I've spent two hours complaining. I prefer to focus on the great things, the wonderful things, the small yet significant things, the things that matter. 

And those things are what I'm most grateful for. They make up this crazy wonderful life. A life worth living, enjoying, embracing, and cherishing. Today, on this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for this crazy wonderful life I've been given. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful #27 - Days Off

Today, I'm thankful that I have the next four days off. Sort of. I mean if you don't count cutting up elk meat, driving four hours to see the family, four homework assignments and probably a lot of work on the Snowflake Festival on Sunday. But yes, today, I'm thankful to have time off to go see my family.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful #26 - Struggling

Today has been a rough day and I've not felt very inspired nor very thankful. It seems like Thanksgiving (and a short work week) plus our town's big Snowflake Festival have all come together at one time and the result is me...feeling overworked, a little overwhelmed, and more than a little cranky.

As I try to wrap up loose ends and check my lists, then check them again, then check yet again, I worry that I've forgotten something important.

As I pour over the calendar of events, I worry that I forgot an event. I count them and count them again. I compare them to last year's calendar.

I proofread and proofread and proofread only to discover that I forgot a "t" somewhere in skate which took it from an ice arena event to a Ska music event.

I listen to people come in the office who want to know if they can be first in the parade. I smile and remind myself that they don't want to hear how difficult it is to lineup 100 floats who all want to be in the front. So I tell them I'll do what I can.

I smile at the silly questions...why is the parade on a Thursday at 7 p.m? I can't answer that..because 30 years ago, it was set that way and it's just stuck ever since. Besides, it's what makes our parade unique and exciting.

Then there's those days today when it just isn't quite coming together like I envisioned. And I really want to say "But it wasn't my fault, so and so didn't do it." Except I don't....because it doesn't do any good and no one wants to hear it.

And I grumble to my boss a little. And my very closest friends. And I turn on some angry music like Nine Inch Nails, Staind, or Alice in Chains, close my door and work work work.

And rather than say, "It'll just have to do..." I work late. I lay awake thinking, "What else can I do?" I pour over the event and think through scenarios - what can go wrong? what can go right? I wake at 2 a.m. thinking "Shoot, add that to the list."

I could carry on. But I'm trying to get to something I'm thankful for. . .

A job? Of course. A pretty good work ethic I got from my parents? absolutely. Volunteers who take time out to help with the event? YES. People who can give constructive criticism without making me cry? Yes. A front desk person who can handle some of the calls and let me focus? Yes. A community that loves this event and mostly appreciates all the time that goes into it? Yes.

and maybe just maybe I'm also thankful it'll be over in two weeks....leaving me two weeks to find my Christmas spirit! LOL

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thankful #25: Health

I realized as I started to type this that maybe I'm a little superstitious. For whatever reason, as I start to type "I'm thankful for my health" then I delete it for fear I'll jinx it and have a heart attack tonight or some other bizarre thing will happen to me. Silly right?

But today that's what I'm thankful for....my health. Don't take it for granted. You can be a healthy 38 year old one minute and fighting for your life the next. Do the things you can to be as healthy as you can.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankful #24 - Good Teenagers

Part of this morning's crew
Today I'm thankful for Marc having good friends. He has crazy obnoxious friends (they're teenagers c'mon) but they're good kids. They usually make good decisions and it's fun to have them around. One of my favorite things is to have a houseful of them and make them breakfast (oh god, I'm my grandma). Today in particular, I have a houseful of teenagers that are willing to rake my yard and do other chores simply for pancakes, scrambled eggs, coffee, and sausage.

All that aside, it's important to me that I actually like several of my kids' friends.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thankful #23 - A Great Gift

One of the greatest gifts I received from my mom and dad was the love of reading. Growing up, I remember not having television. Tara and I would play outside for hours, come inside at dark and grab a book, and read for hours. 

Books transported me to a different time and place. Books taught me about love, life, death, mystery, giants, and imaginary things. 

Growing up, I loved books like BFG and James and the Giant Peach. 

As a pre-teen, I read Sweet Valley High and wished I had a twin sister and was popular.

In high school, Stephen King, Ann Rule, and anything involving true crime - probably spurred by my desire to work with the FBI. 

And now it's whatever interests me. . . biographies, fiction, non-fiction. You name it, I read it. 

I'm convinced part of the reason I've been successful in learning and growing is because of my love for reading. I wish I could instill the same love in both my boys but alas, at this time, only Nate loves to read. 

Reading gives me an escape. Introduces me to adventures I can't afford at this time. Provides education. I'm thankful both my parents were avid readers and passed the gift on to me. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thankful #21 and #22 - The Usual Things

Today and yesterday I'm thankful for food to feed me and the kids and the roof over my head. I may not have a lot of money, a big fancy house, and lots of expensive gourmet food in the fridge and cupboards, but I have a really cute house that feels like home and the food we need to nourish our bodies. Life's good:)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thankful #20 - Flexibility

In the last twenty years, I've had a bit of ADHD when it comes to my job.

I worked as a receptionist for a construction firm. I worked for my dad who insisted I call him Bill at work. He was harder on me than any boss I've ever had. Funny story: I walked in on a Monday with my eyebrow, lip, and nose pierced (a fun weekend with a good friend). My dad told me to take it all off. With disgust, I explained that I was now an adult and he could not tell me what to do. So he fired me. I grabbed my purse and went on a mission to find my next job and prove him wrong. But I learned that my appearance does in fact matter and that my dad had the right to tell me to get lost if I wasn't representing his business as I should. 

Which is how I ended up at a television station. I applied for a coordinator position and got it. I coordinated all the FOX kids club events in Albuquerque. They also hired me on the side to do voice-overs for commercials in which I was paid with gift certificates to whichever business I worked with. It's how my love for sushi happened. I did one for a sushi place and ended up with $500 in gift certificates for sushi. Oh and it gave Marc an opportunity to star in commercials for Midas and some other places. I learned that my singing lessons had come in handy if not for singing, for speaking. And I learned to coordinate events. 

Then I moved and became receptionist for a sawmill in Boise, they transferred me as office manager to Houston Texas. I hated that job. But it taught me that no amount of money could make me happy. I made 5 times more in a year than I ever have and I still quit. I learned the value of my time, my experience, my own happiness, and the dollar. And I learned I could be states away from any family or anyone I know and survive, as a single mom, and survive quite well in fact. 

Then I wrote resumes. And I learned the art of selling. Resumes aren't about listing your qualities, it's about making them want to interview you. It's a lot like marketing. 

Then there was law - my favorite field. I excelled at voir dire. I learned I'm pretty good at reading people. I learned to watch for subtle cues. To read and pay attention. To deal with people from all walks of life. 

And then I was a customer service trainer for a window and door company. I put my fear of public speaking aside and learned I can do anything I put my mind to. Even those things that terrify me. I took all the lessons I'd learned at every job and became a pretty good trainer (if I must say so myself). 

Then I was a project manager and I learned to be assertive and hold people accountable. 

And then I was here...the marketing and program coordinator for the Chamber and it's probably my favorite job I've ever had. I get to use all my skills from every job I've ever had to make things happen. I get to be creative and design marketing campaigns, keep the website up, and use social media. I get to pay attention to trends and be 'cutting edge.' I get to help people. I get to plan events and spend the day on a golf course. I plan parades, firework shows, galas, dinners, trainings, and more. I get to analyze things and train people. It's the best job. I meet new people. And of course, it earns a decent paycheck. And I get to work my schedule around my kids. I can leave for a football game, to volunteer in their school, or take them lunch in the middle of the day. 

I could get a job making more money but I wouldn't trade this for anything. My kids will be grown before I know it so for now, the flexibility is a huge benefit. Plus it's just a fun job! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thankful #19 - 86 Days

Today I'm thankful that in 86 days I'll be on the Salmon River in Riggins, Idaho, freezing my behind off, taking a shot of Crown Royal, drinking coffee, laughing with four of the best fishing friends a girl could have. Hopefully, one of us (c'mon of course I mean me) will be reeling in the first place fish. We'll see lots of wildlife in the canyon. My mind will be blank other than the occasional "God, this is beautiful." In just 86 days, I'll be competing in my 5th Women with Bait Steelhead fishing tournament.

I'm thankful that I have something to count down to besides Christmas. Everyone keeps posting "Only xx weekends till Christmas" and all I can think is "only two more paychecks till Christmas dammit!"

So today, I'm thankful that WWB is only 86 days away!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thankful #16, #17, #18 - Traditions, Grandparents, and My Stepdad

I grew up in southwest Colorado. . . a beautiful place that I still hold dear. It was there that I grew up hunting with my dad. Dad had good friends that came every year from Tennessee. They'd show up right around Halloween and I would wait with excited anticipation. I loved their southern drawl and how polite they were. They always brought me a big box of suckers. I loved the way my dad laughed with them. I got to see a different side to my dad when they were there. He wasn't just my dad, he was a man with friends.

Dad would eventually ask me if I wanted to go along. I'd wake up early in the morning and head out into the cold, frosty morning. It was dark and I'd be bundled up. I'd climb in the cab of my dad's Ford, rest my head on his shoulder, the heater blowing on me and fall asleep until we got there. I'd clamber out of the truck, saying a little prayer I'd get to be with my dad when he got his animal. We'd walk out...we could see our breath. We'd walk and walk and then find a spot to sit. Usually under a tree. Dad would pull out the thermos and give me a hot cup of coffee. We'd eat disgusting snacks like Vienna sausages and squeeze cheese. Just dad and I sitting, waiting. I'd work really hard to be as quiet as I could. But it always happened, without fail...eventually dad would tell me to sit still and be quiet. I hadn't talked but my coat would make swish-swish noises when I moved. Or my apple would crunch as I bit into it. Or eventually, I'd be humming some song in my head without realizing it.

Then my parents divorced and we moved to Oregon with my mom. We started hunting with her family and it was a little different. Everyone camped out at "Doe City." There'd be dozens of campers/tents in a circle with a central firepit. My grandma and some of the older ladies would have spent the week before making goodies - cookies, brownies, and patsies (kind of like pie crust filled with meat and cheese and potatoes). Old and young gathered around. Everyone came together for dinners around the campfire and the stories would begin. Grandpa would recall a story of the "big one" or a funny story about someone not hitting their target or stories about the Indians he remembers from growing up. My uncles would share stories, mom would tell hers. Us kids would sit around and listen - at times rolling our eyes but always a little enthralled. I knew Indians had roamed but it seemed so inconceivable that my grandpa would have firsthand knowledge.

Eventually, my uncle would "throw the bones" - he'd toss the elk teeth from hunts past and "foretell" the future - who would be the first to tag out. And then the men would decide who was going to which ridge and who was walking, who was on a stand, etc. We'd be in bed early, up at the crack of dawn, and hiking, hiking hiking.

I was always torn. I wanted to hunt and hike but I loved being at the camp with grandma. Sitting around the fire, helping prepare dinner, keeping the fire going and reading a book until everyone returned. I'd take the fourwheeler for a ride occassionally, search out pretty rocks near camp, and read my book in the cool Autumn air while the fire crackled and popped.

Now my sons have grown up knowing this same tradition. Marc enjoys the outdoors and would hike, fish, hunt, and camp every second of every day if he could. This year, he drew an elk tag and was excited to hunt with his great-grandpa.

Great Grandpa and Marcus 
They headed out opening morning and were at home, tag filled by 10 a.m. His smile was priceless. He was giddy with excitement and so proud of himself.

I smiled and the tears welled up in my eyes as I watched him skillfully care for his animal. He's been taught well and I was proud of this moment. But I was also so happy to watch my grandfather (his great grandfather) teach him a few things. Grandpa was proud of him too. I watched them joke and banter back and forth and felt so blessed that my son is lucky enough to know my grandparents - his great grandparents. Thankful for this tradition that gives my grandpa's generation a chance to bridge the gap and come together with my son's generation. My grandpa's generation who don't waste, who knew what it's like to go without, who remembers a time without electricity compared to my son's generation who doesn't know what it's like to go without, who can't imagine life without electricity and who sends photos of his elk to all his friends from the top of a mountain via text message - one of thousands of text messages he'll send in a day.

Me and Marc before his shower (ick)
We retreated to the warmth of grandma's house and listened as grandpa, Marc, my brother-in-law, sister, and mom retold the story of the hunt. They laughed and smiled. Grandpa teared up talking about the experience. We drank coffee while grandma fed us (the way my grandma shows love).

My grandparents, me, and Nate and Paige
The little kids ran around and played. Running around the ranch, playing make believe, running from soldiers or wild animals. Mining for "gold" in the side of the hill just down from grandma and grandpas house. Coming in for a piece of chocolate pie because they know Great Grandma won't tell them no. They come in covered with dust, their cheeks flushed from the cold weather and running around like little banshees.

My mom and Nate
And there's my #16 thankful - traditions and my grandparents. Traditions help us bridge those gaps, they give a sense of continuity. They develop over time and help us relate to eachother.

Combine tradition with my grandparents and you get my #17 thankful - my wonderful, beautiful grandparents.

And then you get to my #18 thankful - my stepdad. He's got the biggest heart even for me. I'm embarassed to admit how much I need my parents at this age and I sometimes hate that I've needed their help as much as I have but I'm so thankful to have him.

a blog I wrote about my stepdad in 2011

What a great weekend! I hope you are as blessed with an amazing family as I am!
Paige helps me make breakfast

Nate and Liam at the playground

Oh, remember my post about my grandparents' story being the best love story ever told? Here's the photo of them together when they weren't married yet. Look how cute they are! 

Grandma and Grandpa and they weren't married yet

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thankful #15: The Little Things

Today, I'm thankful for all the little things:
  • the comfy bed I bought myself last year
  • my dog Drake wagging his tail at my bedroom door when I get up in the morning
  • the newspaper at my front door, a great cup of hot tea, and a few minutes of peace and quiet before the kids get up
  • my house filled with the sounds of the kids - getting ready, playing games, laughing, talking, music playing
  • Reminders around the house of people important to me - the doily on my nightstand crocheted by my mom, the scarf in my closet that my sister brought me from Ireland, the wood carvings my dad's given me over the years, the embroidered wall hanging from my grandma, the carved broom I got from a dear friend that makes me smile at the inside joke, the "feel the bite" coffee mug from another friend who traveled to Forks, Washington, photos, writings, and more
  • A job where I love what I do, is flexible enough to allow me to make my kids a priority, and gives me an opportunity to work with some of the best people I know
  • the kiss Nate blows me when I drop him at school and he turns to me as he reaches the front door and blows me a kiss
  • the hugs Marc gives me when he calls me momma and tells me he loves me
  • little notes left by the best little 9 year old in the world
    I love you mom. When we get home can I snuggle with you?
    Yes or no? Your my favorite mom. 
  • great shoes
  • makeup that can make me look good even when I'm operating on little sleep and need a little extra color in my cheeks
  • pandora to play in the background when I'm working and Instagram to see all the photos my friends post without all the drama of facebook
  • speaking of facebook, I'm thankful for the ability to stay in touch with my friends and family from elsewhere and see their photos, posts, etc
  • blue skies
  • cold crisp mornings
  • morning phone calls with the people I love
  • the ability to keep my mouth shut and my poker face on when I think someone's an idiot
  • really great bold, black coffee
  • bacon
  • this week's episode of Sons of Anarchy 
  • family traditions
Oh, I could rattle on and on. Life's good right. With that, I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

"Unbeing dead isn't being alive." e.e. cummings

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful #14 - My Dad

I have quite a few favorite memories of my dad.

Standing on his feet while we danced around to cheesy 80's country music. 

Lying next to him reading books. 

His silly stories...like when we'd pass a falling rock sign and he'd tell the story of the Indian Brave Falling Rock and his search for his princess. 

His silly songs - like green gooey gobs of gorilla guts and me without my spoon. 

The way he helped me with all my school projects - a log cabin made from real wood. a pyramid made from sugar cubes. 

The playhouse he built me for me and my dolls. The rabbit cages he constructed when I decided to raise rabbits in 4H. 

And always, I remember my dad working. Construction for his career but always working at home too. yard work, building stuff...he was always busy. 

And we went on cool trips. I lamented no trips to Disneyland but now that I'm older, I know I got cooler things. Like trips to Mesa Verde where I got to sleep on the mesa near the ruins and to this day, I believe in ghosts. On that same trip, I got to helicopter to the bottom of the canyon with the crew. 

Or the trip to Black Canyon and the vineyards my dad helped with. We rode on the tractor singing Put Another Dime in the Jukebox over and over at the top of my lungs. 

Or the trip to White Sands Missile Range where I go to go where "normal" visitors weren't allowed. 

Our trips almost always correlated with my dad's work. 

To this day, I'm close to my dad. I talk to him 3-5 times a week, almost always early in the morning. My dad is one of the wisest men I know. A good sounding board. Supportive. Caring. We talk history. We talk life. There really isn't much we can't talk about. My dad is a lot like me - self reflective. Thinks things through. He's also very sentimental but a damn hard headed man too. 

My dad gave me my work ethic (although it's nowhere near his). He taught me to reflect. I get my love of history from him. And my love of poetry. Dad used to write - now that I think about it, I wonder if he still does. And I used to share my poetry with him, he'd critique it (usually kudos but he hated the stage where I went through big "poetic" words). My dad is crafty - carving, leather work, and wood burning. We discuss books and politics. 

Today, I'm thankful for my dad. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thankful #13 - My Mom

I don't understand to this day how my mom can love me and how she's forgiven me. But when I look back, I see that she's taught me how to be the mom I am today. She's taught me how to love through the hard times. Love them even when I don't like them. Forgive the hurtful "I hate you's." Be their rock. Be strong. Be caring. Be there for them through thick and thin. I owe her a lot . . . and probably not the least of which is an apology.

Over the years, I've shared bits and pieces of my high school years. I've shared with you how my stepdad sent flowers on Valentine's Day. You may have heard me say I was a trouble kid. You've probably heard bits and pieces but today, let me confess what an awful teenager I was. . . 

This story starts with a boy (so cliche!). . . The story starts on Valentines Day my sophomore year.

Him: "T" had been in my chemistry class all year. He wasn't as good looking as say Vince Neil or Bret Michaels but he was still very cute. And he was (can you guess....) a bad boy. He got kicked out of class for being a smart ass. He made jokes that my naive self didn't understand. He made me giggle uncomfortably. He was dangerous. He was sarcastic. As the year went on, he sat closer to me. And closer. And soon, was writing me notes. 

Me: I was the good girl. The straight A student. The nerd. The teacher's pet. The girl who had never been grounded. I'd been in trouble once in 5th grade that I could remember. I was naive. And interested in the boy who was so unlike me. 

On Valentine's Day, I received a balloon, flowers, and chocolate covered cherries with a note asking if I'd "go out" with him. Of course, my answer was yes. For a month, "T" and I "went out." Except we didn't. He'd occasionally invite me and my girlfriends to the deli across the road where he'd mostly ignore me. A month into our relationship, I broke up with him. 

If only it ended there. 

About a week after I broke up with him, "T" got expelled for selling acid at school. I was shocked. A little sad. Even though I'd broken up with him, I appreciated his attention in chemistry class. Three days after his expulsion, "T" sent me the first letter via our good mutual friend. I sent one back. Then I got another. And I replied. And before I knew it, we were "going out" again. Although he was on house arrest, doing community service, and so couldn't really "go out." 

And there's where I made my first of a long list of bad decisions. I snuck out and over to his house. Crawled through his bedroom window. He played a song just for me (You Really Got a Hold On Me by Smokey Robinson) and we danced in his bedroom, quietly while his parents slept. I should have known that night that "T" was going to be bad news. I'll spare you all the details but "T" had some hangups. I should save myself for him till marriage. He proposed my sophomore year with a ring he'd stolen from work. We dated until my April my senior year - you'll learn more about that in a few.  Enough about "T" - he's a troubled soul. 

Let's get to my mom and I. Mom tried to break us up. She failed miserably. "T" threatened to hurt my family. And I of course thought he'd change because I loved him. Mom grounded me. Took away my phone privileges. Busted me sneaking out. Busted me sneaking in. She talked to me. She cried. She screamed. She sat on me once and refused to let me leave. 

So I ran away. And then ran away again. And when the cops made me go back, I did it again. My mom called my dad who flew to Oregon to take me back with him. I called abuse and said my dad was an alcoholic. I went to a foster home (funny thing, until this moment, I'd forgotten about the foster home). The foster home was awful. The other girls were mean. I missed my parents. I missed T. I hated it. I went home and ran away again. 

That time, my mom didn't fight. For the next year, I ignored my mom. If I saw her at the store, I'd pretend she was a stranger. I said horrible awful things about her. 

She moved to a different town and I stayed put. I made more (and worse) decisions than sneaking out to meet T. I didn't call her. I didn't speak to her. It was as if I was an orphan. 

And then my relationship with T got worse. I wanted to leave but I was afraid. I didn't know how to get out. I didn't have any family around me. I panicked and did the only thing I could think of. I went to the police and confessed all my sins (and in the process all of T's). Some of you may call me a rat and I'd agree. But remember I was a scared 17 year old girl who didn't see any other options. 

From the police station, I picked up the phone to call the woman I'd hurt. My mom that I had ignored. My mom that I had blamed. The mom that I was trying to protect. I didn't know if she'd answer. I wasn't sure she'd be there to rescue me. I hated myself for betraying my mom. I hated myself for betraying T. I wanted to curl up in a ball and die. I contemplated suicide as the phone rang. I was afraid if I didn't do it first, T would do it for me. 

And mom answered. And in just a couple of hours, I was on my way to my mom's house. Safe. Unsure. Afraid. Hating myself. Hiding. 

As graduation approached, I went to my senior prom with Forrest. Forrest and I dated for about two months. He was a good guy. And then I got the phone call. It was "T" and he was willing to forgive me. I graduated and then drove hours to be with him. I drove hours back home and left for my graduation trip with my dad. When it was over, I went back to "T." 

This time, I didn't completely ignore my mom. She was there. Ready in the wings to pick up the pieces of me when I fell apart.  As a mom now, I can imagine the pain and worry I put her through. 

T and I tried to make it work for a few months. Then one night, with too much to drink, too many other substances, and I was slapped around. I called mom and dad, my head hanging with shame. Afraid that this time, they surely would refuse to help me. I was embarrassed that I couldn't make it work. I was ashamed I'd let it get out of hand. I hated that they were right. I hated myself. 

T and I were over. And mom and I ignored the elephant in the room. Mom would call me and we'd chat about nothing important. I hated answering the phone when she called....not because of her, but because of me. I'd hurt her. I'd betrayed her. I put her through the worst hell a kid could put a mom. 

And then I was pregnant. I called my mom to tell her and to say she was angry and hurt is an understatement. She told me I'd be on welfare. She cried that I'd ruined my life. And then she began sending gifts. Diapers, maternity clothes, toys, baby clothes. 

And then Marc was born. And my mom came running to spend a week with me. I looked at my newborn son and cried my heart out for all the hurt I'd caused my mom. I looked at him and prayed he'd never ever do what I'd done. I was terrified I'd be cursed. 

And I called to apologize. 

Now you know the back story.

Here's the important part. My mom's love has never failed me. She's loved me when I couldn't love myself. She believed in my strength and resiliency even in times I didn't. She's dropped everything to come to me when I need her. She supports me even when I make bad decisions. She forgave me. Whether I was in Texas, Idaho, New Mexico, or right next door, my mom will be there. 

My mom is generous and kind, not just to me but to anyone in need. She's everyone's friend. She makes you laugh. She dances. She giggles. She gives gifts from her heart. She's also incredibly strong and resilient. She's an optimist. She's a romantic. She's intelligent. She's tough. 

And she gave me the greatest gift she could have given me. . . she taught me how to be a mom - one that I can be proud of. Today and every day I'm thankful for my mom. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thankful #12: My Sis

My sister and I grew up fighting. ALL. THE. TIME.
Dad, mom, me in green and yellow, tara with the ball

Imagine my exact opposite. I'm a peacemaker. Tara's an instigator. I hate arguing. My sister takes the opposite side of you just so she can argue. Tara is stubborn, outspoken, and an extrovert. I'm definitely an introvert. We did not get along. I remember being young and fighting. My first fight in high school was with Tara. She had said something about my boyfriend so I slammed her into a locker and punched her. Yes, I win big sister of the year! 

But then something changed several years ago. My sis is one of my best friends. I've come to appreciate that she's different than me. She can still irritate me but more than anything, I admire her. I wish I was a little more like her some days. 

Tara and I in cancun 1995.
She's the person I call when I'm working through a problem. I talk to her almost every day. She's my sounding board.

And crazy enough (my sis has always been thin and athletic)..she's become my weight loss champion/cheerleader. Calling to see how I'm doing. Cheering me on. 

Me and Tara in Reno, August
Tara has also given me another gift. My niece and nephew...Paige and Liam. Love these kids. Love that Tara and I let each of our kids go spend a week or two with eachother during the summer. Being an Aunt is almost better than being a mom. I get to spoil them and send them back! 

Love my sis!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thankful #11 - Veterans

Today, of course, I'm thankful for the men and women who serve or have served in our armed forces. Thank you!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thankful #9 and #10 - Great People and Do-overs

I'm thankful for great people in my life and for a life that allows do-overs.

Recently, I've had some heart-to-heart conversations with a great friend who knows me pretty dang well. There's something liberating about being able to share your fears, your hopes, and your dreams with another person. After a rough week last week, I received this and I loved it!  I love supportive friends who listen, pay attention, and make my life a whole lot better just by being in it.

In fitting with the friend theme, several months ago my great friend Stacy and I made plans to spend a day and night at her house in our pajamas crafting. So yesterday, I loaded up my stuff and headed out. I wasn't feeling very crafty but just a few minutes with Stacy and that changed. I was able to make some Christmas gifts and knock them off the list. Here are a few of my projects:
for my jewelry

a sign for my niece's room
And then we come to my other thankful. . . I'm thankful for the ability to see through a screw-up and turn it into something beautiful. Of course, right now I'm specifically talking about a craft project but as I think about it, it fits my life too.

I made the signs above...I covered canvas with fabric, cut letters from contact paper with sayings, then spraypainted. Lifted the contact paper after drying and voila'  - you get the sign above. Some turned out and others didn't.

I almost trashed it but I decided to peel the fabric with two coats off the canvas and see if it could be salvaged:

I kind of liked the way it looked sort of graffiti like. So I took one and hand painted in pink glitter paint "Go Your Own Way"

Then I cut out letters and made this one:

 In addition to those projects, I cut out the pieces to a quilt. And started another.

But it got me thinking about life in general. I've screwed up a lot of things. And I tend to focus on the fact that I've screwed up. I haven't made my marriages work. I worry that I messed up Marc's life by not choosing the right dads. I worry that I don't make enough money. I worry that I'm in general just messing up.

But then I realize that through that, I've managed to remain a pretty hopeful, optimistic person. One who can see the good in life. I'm a woman that knows she can make it through. I know I'm strong. I know I'm resilient. And while I may be a little cynical in matters of romance, I'm still a diehard romantic.

So today I'm thankful for friends who love me. and I'm thankful for all the things (trials, tribulations, mentors, friends, family, and even enemies) that made me the person I am and for a life with do-overs.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thankful #8 - A Smaller, More Energetic Me

Today I'm thankful for my health coach Valerie Picard and Take Shape for Life. As of this morning, I've lost 70 lbs! I can't even believe it.

I have more energy. I'm liking the way I look. And I can't believe I waited so long to do it.

And thanks to all my friends who have had to endure my constant weight loss bragging!