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 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 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!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful #7: My Boss

Today I'm thankful for my boss Chip. Over the past five years, Chip has mentored me, trusted me to do my work, and helped me become a pretty decent Marketing Coordinator. But he's also become one of my closest friends. He's one of my sounding boards when I'm working through an issue. He gives advice when needed but listens and doesn't offer any when he knows that's not what I need. In Klamath, he's one of the closest things I have to family (him and some really great girlfriends). It's great to work for someone you admire, respect, and really like.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thankful #6: A Thankful Son

Both my boys are pretty sentimental - they probably get that from me. Of course, Marc's a teenager so you don't see it as often. But Nate is still young. He's much more open to showing his happiness, his sappiness. And he's such a thankful little soul. It doesn't take much to make him happy. 

He loved it so much he fell asleep with the light on
Marc has lunch with Nate at school 
Take for instance, last night...I changed his bedroom. He's been in the smallest one and I moved it. Put up the bunkbeds. Rearranged give him more space. He was actually anxious to go to bed last night. As I tucked him in, he thanked me for doing it. And told me that he thinks he should keep his room that clean from now on (I'm not holding my breath). And then this morning, he woke up and the first thing he said was, "I slept so much better in this room."  

Then today, unexpectedly Marcus didn't have school due to a power outage. Nate looked at his big brother excitedly and begged him to come have lunch with him. Marc agreed and Nate beamed. Marc sent me this picture from the cafeteria. Nate's loving it right now....lunch with his hero...his big brother. 

Love my sons! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thankful #5: Little Talks

My favorite oldest son, Marc, is strong and resilient but like me he holds his feelings inside. Unfortunately, I also think he's had to deal with a lot of disappointment from the adults in his life....his bio dad, his adopted dad, and probably very likely me.

Last night, Marc got home fairly early and I asked him if he was ok. I got the typical teenager shrug. Then I was in my room writing in my journal when he came in and laid on the bed. He just started talking. Not about anything life changing, nothing grand or big....just normal conversation. What happened in school, what his friends were doing, how he felt bad for a friend who doesn't have a grandma who is very grandmotherly. For 45 minutes, he laid and talked to me. Neither of us looked at our phone. I barely talked at all. We laughed a few times. It was the nicest conversation I've had with him in a while. He's usually wrapped up with the girlfriend or his nose is in his phone and he's texting away or  playing video games. 

Today I'm thankful for little talks with my favorite oldest son!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thankful #4: Music Lyrics

Today I'm thankful for music lyrics or probably more accurately, for the writers who can say what I feel and what I think when I can't find the words.

Music brings back memories, puts things into perspective, and helps me when I'm going through a tough time like now.

There are dozens of songs I could relate to today. But as I listened to Pandora this morning, this song played three times. The lyrics aren't eloquent. I can't even say they're all that thought provoking but it spoke to me.

I just wanna be okay, be okay, I just wanna be okay today...

and I will be.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thankful #3 - This Project is DONE!

Two years ago, I was accepted into the Ford Institute Leadership Program. It's a series of training classes based on the belief that vital rural communities develop from a broad base of knowledgeable, skilled, and motivated leaders, a diversity of effective organizations, and productive collaborations among organizations.

A little background: the leadership program is run by the Ford Family Foundation. In 1936, Kenneth Ford started a single sawmill in tiny Roseburg, Oregon that would later become Roseburg Lumber. Interesting enough, it's also where my grandpa worked most of his life and eventually retired from. The Foundation was started in 1957 and has grown. They give grants, help create vital rural communities, and offer scholarship assistance.

As part of our program, your "cohort" chooses a project. Our group chose to help add to the beauty of our downtown by installing twinkle lights in the trees on Main Street. Truth be told, we've argued over the lights, selected deadlines/missed deadlines, and so on and so forth.

But this morning, a group of those of us most dedicated installed the lights on 4 city blocks.
My friend Mike Angeli helps hang lights downtown

Klamath Falls' downtown is beautiful. An earthquake in the 90s actually revitalized it. Folks turned the buildings back to the original state, preserving many architectural features. Our sidewalks are geothermally heated. There are great restaurants, wonderful little shops, and the Ross Ragland Theater. Some of my personal favorites:
  • Basin Martini Bar - beautifully decorated, great martinis, and great owners.
  • Blue Dot Kids - a kids clothing consignment store
  • Crave - the best cupcakes you'll ever eat
  • Indigo Beads - The owner Angie calls me by name and I don't even shop there all that often. Great selection, great service.
  • The Ledge - an outdoor store and climbing gym run by my friend Mike Angeli (who makes an appearance in the photo above AND taught me the basics of kayaking)
  • Periwinkle - The only place I really shop these days. Linda and her staff run the best consignment store ever. Picky, selective, great products....and great for someone like me who's been going through clothes every month.

I know I've forgotten quite a few but suffice it to say, our downtown is worth visiting!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thankful #2 - He Never Fails Me

I've made some decisions recently in my life that have left me a little thrown off kilter. Life's good but I'm going through some transition.

So today I escaped to Medford for a little me time.

On my way, I was cruising along enjoying the rain, listening to a little music - singing at the top of my lungs. I was contemplating life and change and all the crazy twists and turns my life has taken. I came around a corner and was thinking how beautiful the single bright yellow tree was in the midst of all the pine trees.

I was thinking life was good when my car slid.

I gently applied my brakes and went sideways straight at a semi truck. I've never had a moment where I was sure I was about to die until right then.

I tried to remain calm and turned the wheel the opposite direction and still headed straight for the semi.

It felt like slow motion as I started praying. Please God. Please God. That's all I had in me as I panicked.

I slammed the work.

I turned the didn't work.

I prayed that it wouldn't hurt too bad when I crashed.

I thought for a second that it would be better to crash off the side of the mountain than straight into the semi.

But mostly, I grabbed the wheel and said, "Please God."

And my car straightened. I pulled over, out of breath, heart pounding out of my chest, tears streaming down my face as I thanked Him over and over again.

I finally pulled away from the shoulder (much slower) and thought all the way how He never fails me. I could easily blame it on my great driving skills but it's not that. He's there for me. He's been there for me even when I'm barreling down the road without any regard to my own safety. He's there when I'm not there for myself. I get mad sometimes that He doesn't answer as quickly as I want but when it's life or death, He's there. I'm thankful for a God who loves me and never fails me.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thankful #1: Beautiful Men

It's November 1st and all over Facebook people are posting the things they're thankful for. I thought about joining it but then I figured I could write more if I post it here. So bear with me as throughout the month of November, I tell you the things I'm thankful for. (forgive me posting twice in a day, I don't want to throw my days off). . .

I'm going to keep this first Thankful a little lighthearted...let's save the deeper, more meaningful thanks for later in the month. Today, I'm thankful for...

 really great-looking men

C'mon ...we all like to look at good looking people so join me in being thankful for greatlooking people.

Without further adieu, here are my favorites:
Disclaimer #1: tonight I'll be watching TV and I'm sure I'll think of someone I forgot
Disclaimer #2: I do in fact know some very good-looking real men but this isn't about that

Anson Mount - Had never seen him until I watched the first episode of Hell On Wheels. Now he's the only reason I watch Hell on Wheels. Dark, brooding, and can shoot really well.

Aaron from Fast N' Loud (again, the only reason I watch the show).

Bon Jovi - The only one of my rockers that look better now than he did in the 80s. Yum! I'm living on a prayer that we'll still find eachother.

Bono - See I already lied, U2 is one of my favorites but back when I was young, I just didn't find him attractive. Now he's a bit older and HOT!

A bad're surprised aren't you? 

Gerard Butler - PS I love you! 

Hmm, Jax Teller. . . I mean Charlie. Nope, he's Jax...motorcycle riding hottie of Sons of Anarchy. And the only reason I ever considered watching 50 Shades of Gray but now he's not playing Christian so there's no point! 

Alright, Alright, Alright - Need I say more. Look at him!

And Vince Vaughan. . . super cute AND can make me laugh (except he really wasn't good on SNL, I think he was having an "off" day.

and there you have it! Smile!

A Boo-tiful Day

I had the best Halloween yesterday. Except I didn't throw Nate his annual Halloween party. And I thought he wouldn't notice except he keeps asking. And then his friends started asking me why I didn't have one. So now, I have a whole year to plan an exciting Halloween party!

On to the fun part - PICTURES!

Halloween for me started on Monday when I made Marc take me to Rocky Horror Picture Show. I've never seen it, never been to a showing, and so I was in fact a virgin. Of course, so was Marc. We walked in, everyone was dressed up and I thought Marc's eyes were going to bug out of his head. He was slightly uncomfortable at first but when it came time to throw rice and toast, etc, he laughed and we had a great time. I don't think he'll ever go again but next year, I'm dressing up! haha

Then of course pumpkin carving. Here's where I'll admit I'm the worst mom ever. This is one tradition I hate. I love the years when the boys are so busy they forget. Bleh. This year was slightly more fun because I decided to use a power drill to make mine. Fun times!

Kelsy (Marc's girlfriend) carved pumpkins with us
Nate got the biggest pumpkin he could find

Our pumpkins (guess which one's mine:) 
Then of course costumes!

Halloween is funner when you're thinner. ha, for me anyway. I've wanted to dress up for years but the last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself. I made up a little for lost time by wearing two costumes!

During the day, I was Amelia Earhart.

I took Nate's friends with us .
Marcus even dressed up this year...he's Hugh Hefner and here he is with Kelsy. 

So I mentioned I wore two costumes. I painted my face sort of "day of the dead," wore a wig, and dressed in black.

I'm pretty proud of the way my makeup turned out. Not bad for freehand huh?

I think I'll start planning next year's costume now. It's so much more fun when you play along.