Thursday, November 29, 2012

Checking the Box on the Family Room

We finally finished our family room! There’s no story behind this space. It was yellow when we moved in. We painted it blue three months later and bought a couch, and then did practically nothing. The basement is finished, so we’ve been using that as our family room. Over Thanksgiving break, we decided enough was enough, so we knocked out the rest of the work. Thankfully, it wasn’t much.

This is the picture of the room from the realtor when we were looking at this house. The wall color is nice – the same as what’s in the kitchen and we kept it there – but it was a lot of yellow.

We snapped only two photos when the room was empty… 
and clearly didn’t do a great job with them.

After we painted and bought the couch, I focused on getting that end of the room presentable. There’s nothing fancy in this picture. The couch, rug, lamp, and little stepstool/table on the left are from Ikea. The end table, photo frame, yellow art, and pillows hail from Target. The frames on the wall (and the scrapbook paper in them) are from Michael’s, as are the flowers and vase. The moon on the left wall is from Crate+Barrel, and the basket holding blankets and pillows is from Bed Bath & Beyond.

The other end of the room is very plain; I don’t want a bunch of knickknacks taking up space. The dresser is Ikea, and that was actually the only thing we had to buy. The chair was my grandparents, we already had Christmas decorations and the tray table, and my dad gifted us with the plant a few weeks ago.

Just for fun – a panoramic shot. You can actually see part of our frame wall in this one : )

I really enjoy seeing our plans for these different rooms coming together. We’re not in a position to take on anything major right now, like the bathroom I dream of remodeling or the laundry room I envision us creating. But working from home this week was much more enjoyable is such a finished space. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

30 Days of Thankful

The “thing” to do this month on Facebook was to post something you’re thankful for each day. I know myself well enough to know I probably couldn’t sustain that kind of thing for 30 days.

Well, I could. I’m on Facebook all day – a perk of working in social media. But I’m honest, and I know that though I could, I wouldn’t.

But I can carve out a chunk of time on Thanksgiving morning, before we head out for brunch and golf and visiting and dinner, to write 30 things I’m thankful for.

What I’m Thankful For:
  1. That my faith in God hasn’t completely left me. When my mom died, I fully expected to be pissed at God, and believe me, I was. I still am. But I haven’t been so blinded by grief that I can’t see all the beauty that remains in the world and all the other blessings I have in my life. And I believe he’s responsible for much of it.
  2. My husband, who is a perfect fit for me. We’re definitely capable of some knock-down drag-out fights, but for the most part, we get each other. For nearly eight years, he’s been just what I need when I need it, and everything I ever wanted. He’s a rare find, and I’m thankful for him every day.
  3. Being raised by parents who were just in love with each other as they were with us kids. I never feared that we’d become a divorced family because it was so obvious that my parents were soul mates. The love in their eyes when they’d talk or dance or put up the Christmas tree or go to the grocery was visible. Growing up and even now, I see families breaking, but remembering all that my parents had is a daily reminder that “until death do us part” is possible.
  4. Having a brother who I genuinely love and enjoy spending time with. I don’t call or text him because I have to. I do because I think he’s smart, funny, and kind, and I adore him. Not all siblings are lucky enough to have this, but I know that if I need something, he’s there. And if he needs something, I’m there.
  5. A little dog named Lu. I can’t describe the joy she brings to my life. She’s rotten sometimes and she doesn’t listen very well, but I don’t care. There’s something special about a dog’s unconditional love. T and I say she’s the best thing we’ve ever brought into this house. Her little stubby dachshund legs are adorable too.
  6. Living where we live. This neighborhood wouldn’t be everyone’s first choice. Though our street is beautiful, we live fairly close to a rough part of town. I feel safe here though, and our neighbors are some of the kindest people we know. Driving the rough streets every morning as we head to work is a reminder to be grateful for all we’ve been blessed with; there are many other s – living just half a mile away – with so much less.
  7. Two strong legs. They make me mad when I put on skinny jeans because my quad muscles stick out in a way I hate. But these strong legs are why I can run a 5K, why I can still dance, why I can take Lu for a walk, and those are all wonderful things.
  8. Shrimp, garlic, chocolate, pasta, dough pretzels from The Mainstay Rock Bar, T’s famous burritos, Max & Erma’s cookies, macaroni and cheese, and 100 other foods I dream about regularly… because much of my time is spent thinking of food.
  9. Two little boys named Logan and Nolan. Logan was born three weeks after my mom died in the same hospital where she’d been. I cried in the hospital lobby when we went up to meet him. I didn’t think I could do it. But with support from T and our friend Joe, I got in the elevator. And as soon as I saw our friends and held their little boy, I forgot my pain. This little guy became a tiny, 7-lb. light in a world that was feeling very dark. And one month ago tomorrow, he was joined by little brother Nolan. The love I feel for these little guys is frightening. They’re not mine, but I’d still do anything to keep them from feeling any kind of pain. The love I have for them makes me believe that I could someday be a mother myself, in spite of the emotional wreck I sometimes am.
  10. Friends. Friends who you talk to only a few times a year when they’re home in Cincinnati, but you trust with your life. Friends who make time to listen, even when they’re juggling two sons, a crazy (but wonderful) husband, a job, a house renovation, and two enormous dogs. Friends who hear your mom has passed away and show up at your door with four pints of ice cream because they know you well enough to know you need to drown your sorrows in Graeters. Friends you work with, friends you coach with, and friends you drink with. Any and all friends.
  11. Mistakes. Because I’ve learned something from all of them.
  12. Ugg boots. Not because I wear them for style, but because they make awesome slippers and dog-walking shoes in the winter.
  13. My Grandma’s ability to face anything that’s thrown at her. She had three kids, and miscarried the fourth. Her husband (my mom’s father) died when he was 48. Her daughter died at 52. Her second husband, who she married when I was a baby, has broken both hips, his pelvis, suffered a brain aneurism, a heart attack, and a small stroke in just the last seven years. And she handles it all with grace.
  14. The opportunity to coach a college dance team. I never in a million years thought I’d be given this chance, and I certainly never thought I’d be asked to do it for six seasons. It’s not always easy, but it’s been worth it.
  15. Pinterest. Epic time waster. Provider of mind-blowing crafts.
  16. A father who, in the face of extreme adversity, rises and exemplifies perseverance.
  17. The simplicity of evenings at home. We come home from work and one of us straightens up while the other cooks dinner. And after we eat, we head either to the “man cave” basement or the family room where we watch TV or play games, snuggle up on the couch with Lu and just talk. I look forward to these evenings.
  18. The power of a great song. On a cold, dreary day, Coldplay just feels right. When I’m writing (particularly on a deadline), anything classical works. James Taylor is always appropriate. Spotify is fabulous.
  19. The way Rachel Dratch shows up in a lot of random movies and shows and always makes me laugh.
  20. Any opportunity to have my three boys together. It doesn’t matter if it’s for dinner or yardwork.
  21. The beauty of a piece of freshly-Swiffered furniture.
  22. My memory. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  23. A tradition my mom, grandma, and I had for years. We went to see six plays or musicals a year at the Aronoff Center. My mom and I would stop at McDonald’s for a quick lunch on our way to Grandma’s. We’d pick her up and head downtown. Before the show started, we’d buy chocolate-covered Oreos or pretzels in the lobby. And then we’d settle in and enjoy the show.
  24. A trip to see Frankie Valli, also with my mom and grandma. We screamed like groupies because who doesn’t love Frankie Valli? 
  25. Sleep. Generic, yes, but a good night’s sleep can fix a multitude of problems.
  26. Having an iPhone to kill time when I’m awkwardly waiting for someone.
  27. A pair of leopard-print pajamas from Target. They’re not really pretty, but they’re unbelievably comfortable. Those pjs + clean sheet night = heaven.
  28. Facebook and Twitter. Phenomenal time drain, but incredible for keeping people in touch. I’ve managed to reconnect with a number of old friends and acquaintances.
  29. Garden gnomes. For whatever reason, they make TJ happy, and therefore, they make me happy.
  30. Twenty-five years with my mom. She was and is everything.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Letter to Mom #3

Dear Mom,

Modern Family was great last night, and I wished you were watching it with me so we could talk about how awesomely dense Phil is.

I’ve done some cooking and baking lately, and I haven’t been awful. Remember when you’d watch me trying to bake and you’d give me feedback, which I’d promptly reject and get frustrated by? I’d give anything to have you fussing at me in the kitchen again, telling me you know a better way.

We’re approaching serious holiday season, which means my emotional stability will be questionable in the coming weeks. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as last year, but I’m not optimistic.

Dad and Zach are coming over this weekend to chop down some big trees in our backyard. This kind of stuff makes me nervous, but in typical Dad fashion, he told me to pipe down or shut up or something like that.

I watched Parenthood the other night, and one of the characters is fighting breast cancer. She was upset because her mom didn’t come to take care of her. I found myself crying too, because it occurred to me that if someday I’m very sick, I won’t have you nearby. I’m so thankful to still have your mom around – she’s an amazing grandmother and she helped take such good care of you when you were sick.

I hung out at Jim & Angie’s yesterday and spent some time with their boys. Boys plural – there are two of them now! Though they’re not mine, I love them with a completeness that’s usually reserved for very few. It’s reassuring to feel this though; it makes me believe that maybe I do have enough love to have a child of my own someday.

TJ and I are finalizing plans for the next golf outing in your memory. We’re going to do it.

I hope you celebrated your birthday in heaven. I hope you spent it with your dad and Sue, eating pie and gabbing. I’m sure you have a lot to catch up on with both of them.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Face to Call Home

Little by little, inch by inch
We built a yard with a garden in the middle of it
It ain’t much but it’s a start
You got me swaying right along to the song in your heart
And a face to call home
A face to call home
You’ve got a face to call home

I’ve been an off-and-on John Mayer fan since I first heard him 10+ years ago, but consistently end up buying everything he puts out there. On his newest album, Born and Raised, I found the gem “A Face to Call Home.” It struck a chord for whatever reason, and I’ve had it on repeat for awhile.

It makes me think of T. The face I call home. I love our little house, but really I just want to be where T is. It doesn’t matter if we’re sitting on the couch in our family room, sitting somewhere else, walking for miles, driving for more. He is home.

Finding the face to call home is a blessing, and it’s not granted to everyone. I know I’m lucky, and I think I learned to appreciate this blessing by watching my parents over the course of their marriage. And then, yesterday, it hit me – what happens when you can no longer see the face you call home?

My heart cracked a little bit. Whether he ever thought about it consciously or not, I completely believe that my dad found his home in my mom’s blue eyes for 30 years. That’s a long time to call one face your home. How do you adjust when you can’t look into those blue eyes anymore? 

 Mom & Dad, feeling at home at the Biltmore Estate, July 2006
The matching shirts weren't intentional.

When the face you call home goes away, how do you avoid homelessness?