15 Years

IMG_0684Rounding the bend on my way to Clear Lake, I see him in that old Ford pickup truck, driving away – too fast. It’s like something out of a sappy country song.

It’s a memory.

And a wish.

It is fleeting and impossible all at once.

My friend, Buddy, died 15 years ago today. He took his own life. One of life’s great mysteries.

It is quite remarkable, that time has marched on.

Yet I still wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up on the lake one day. I honestly wouldn’t.

That feeling that he’s just around the corner? It’s made 15 years of one-sided friendship easier.

As a mother now to a son of my own, I’ve been really dwelling on this impending anniversary. It is terrifying and motivating all at once. Motivating in that I hope to raise my children to know that I will stand by them if the dark corners of their minds creep from the corners and into the midst of their lives. Terrifying knowing that the dark corners are like the depths of the ocean – unstudied realities.

Oh but what a gift it is, to be Elle and Jay’s Mom.

On this day each year, I make a point to reiterate that I miss Buddy far better than I ever loved him.

And I’m sorry for that.

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Mom Crawls

So, this just happened…

Elle is napping (like a champ since we got her on the mend now…). And while she naps, I’m cleaning the house, showering and getting ready to attend Holden’s first birthday party later this afternoon (Elle’s going too).

I go to dry my hair and have decided that the last time I got compliments on my hair, I dried it with the round brush (which makes my arms hurt and I’m no good at it and it takes For.Ev.Er. BUT – I want my hair to look its finest. For whatever reason.

So, I go to the bathroom drawer and pull out…four hairbrushes that I put back into the drawer about five times per day (Elle’s on a hair brush kick and an emptying-everything-from-a-drawer kick too). But, no round brush.

Think, brain. Where is the round brush?

Ah, yes.

In my mind, I see it.

Laying in the middle of the floor of Elle’s bedroom.

(Told you she’s on a hair brush kick).

The bedroom where that girlie girl is napping.

Soooo…

I do what any mother would do…

Put on my softest slippers (damning our hard wood floors the entire time) and head toward her barely-open-a-crack door.

It sticks, and knowing this I try to do a shimmy/jimmy lift thing.

It fails.

The door makes a loud creak.

I stop, fearful.

Will she wake up and pop her head over the edge of the crib?

No! I need more time.

So, I quickly close the door back again and drop onto all fours outside the door, waiting anxiously.

I hear the sound of her sucking on her pacifier, hope that she doesn’t wake further.

But I NEED beautiful, lustrous hair. And the only way to get it is with the brush that is JUST beyond my grasp inside that room.

So, I decide to try once more. Evidently the risk being worth it…

I open the door, and I gingerly continue on all fours (less of a chance I’m spotted that way). I reach for the brush. I’m not close enough. I will my arm to grow a half inch – and somehow, it does (or I pulled a muscle in my side while I stretched for it).

I’ve got it!

So, I won that mild battle and headed for the hair dryer…only to realize that it really does hurt my arms to use that stupid round brush and it’s taking forever and I don’t have that kind of time, dammit, so I give up and go to the hairdryer-roundbrush all-in-one that was safely in the cupboard the whole time.

And, in the end, I’m having a moderately good hair day.

But I had to pull a muscle to get there…

 

Ahh, motherhood!

🙂

Uh Oh, It’s Almost Christmas

Where does the time go, seriously?

I don’t think I’ve posted a photo on here in AGES, so in reverse order…here is how trying to get Christmas photos for our Christmas card went:

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Jon looks like he’s skeptical at best, Elle has completely melted down and I’m trying to hold my chin up (to look my skinniest) without appearing to completely look down my nose. How’d I do?

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At this point, we were hoping one of THESE would turn out. These photos were taken AFTER we’d gone to the orchard and had family photos taken in October. That didn’t go how we’d planned.

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And then of course, just like the camera battery in the middle of the photo shoot, Elle needed a recharge. This was probably somewhere in the midst of Elle pulling the stockings off the mantel and the beautiful stocking holder onto her head, miraculously only skimming the edge of her noggin.

🙂

We also attempted family photos with a local photographer. I will say that the final edited photos came out better than I would have thought they could, but they weren’t what I had hoped. It really is hard to find great photographers, because so many people (hello, self) stumble into the photography market thinking they can be photographers. There’s way more to it than a digital SLR is all I can say…

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We also hosted Elle’s first birthday party back on October 13. Here’s what it looked like…

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Damn Pinterest – it always looks better in the pro shots, but this was definitely the over-the-top monstrosity I was going for. Minnie themed without being TOO Minnie Mouse-y.

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My Aunt-in-Law, Laura, did all the fabulous desserts, including Elle’s cake. She is a master in the kitchen and this all was just as easy as paying her — which is how I like to do parties these days!

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The Minnie cupcakes are amazing. Here’s an uber-close up.

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Elle may in fact have an Oleg Cassini cake server in her hands, happily stabbing her cake. She wasn’t THAT into the cake, I have to admit. I think us adults did more damage on her behalf than she actually did. Which is amazing, because I feel like she tears everything ELSE apart.

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We worked for weeks and weeks leading into her birthday for her to hold up one finger when you asked how old she was. And here she is, holding up one finger on both hands. She’s advanced and ready for ‘two’ I guess.

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The only picture of the three of us that day. Well, the only one where at least 2/3 of us are looking in the same direction. There was a lot to be distracted by.

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Elle’s Uncle Trevor got her her very first Tiffany’s, carrying on a family tradition that my Grandpa began. It was overwhelming to me – but Elle thought it was fantastic (so did I, but it made me tear up, I’ll admit).

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Did I fail to mention that I got Elle and I matching outfits? Except I didn’t wear red pants? Yup, totally matched. Sort of dweeby, but there’s only so long you can actually pull that off…so…I did it. It kind of made me want to puke, but I kind of secretly liked it, too.

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Did I mention the distractions…err…how I may have invited 80 people…

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…and then…

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This was Elle’s actual birth-day. What you can’t see by my selective posting of photos is that the outfit she’s in in this photo is the SAME ONE we put her to bed wearing the day before. You can obviously see the tired-ness in my face and general appearance here. It was a big night the night before.

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My Mom and Dad got Elle a baby jogging stroller and a baby, Abby. Elle can be seen here sitting on the box it all came in 🙂

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I took these the day before the big party and had them printed at Meijer as 5×7’s and used self-adhesive magnets that Jon’s Mom, Karen, gave me. It was PERFECT. I just stuck them around the house on different magnetic surfaces or on fridges and people could take any that they wanted. It was kind of a favor, but whatever…and the magnet was thin enough that you could still put the whole thing in a frame without ruining the picture itself.

Here are a few others I printed for that day:

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A few days later, we took engagement photos in the park here in town with Jon’s brother and his fiance, Jen. I thought I did an alright job!

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Not too shabby, right?

Anyway, that’s pretty much where we stand at the moment. Or at least the goings on in October.

And to think that I began this post to complain about how I have no Christmas shopping done. And then got distracted…which is why I have no Christmas shopping done.

Well, if you were planning on having a present from me and this blog is any indication, you can expect your gift sometime in February.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the pics and tonight’s catch up post.

 

The First Purchase of…

…our wedding!

 

I have been sort of wishy-washy on the wedding thing. Every wedding I go to I sit and mentally criticize the things that the bride/groom choose to spend SO MUCH FREAKING MONEY ON and vow that I’ll never do it. Never spend THAT MUCH money on one day.

 

Well, I lied.

 

Jon said he wanted the party, but being a bit of an introvert, making a big to-do of a ceremony wasn’t high on his list. Neither of us being religious, it’s not like we’d have a church rolling out the red carpet (sorry) for us. To me, I wanted to publicly promise, in front of those I loved, to love Jon for the rest of my life as my husband (wow, that’s weird to write) and ensure that those people there would hold both of us up through our ‘good times and bad’.

 

And that was about as far as I got.

 

I thought that perhaps we could just take a nice trip/vacation some place and celebrate, just the two of us. And then we’d come home and be married.

 

I thought at one point that we could have something relatively small at the golf course where we live and are members. That sounded like what I wanted to do, really. Except, even to simply FEED guests in a way I’d be proud of, I was staring at a huge bill.

 

I was conflicted. I wanted to be married in front of my family and friends, but I wasn’t sure I could commit (ironic, right?). As we discussed it more and more, Jon said he didn’t care, really, that he just assumed that I’d always dreamed of a party. So, essentially, the ball was in my court.

 

I told Jon “I’m going wedding dress shopping with my Mom on Friday. Maybe I’ll know after that what I want to do.”

 

And I did.

 

Even if Jon and I went to some place tropical and got married, I’d still want to celebrate with the people I love. I can’t imagine not having photos of the event, not building memories for my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends with us. I feel like memories are the foundation of, well, everything. That, and photographic proof.

 

I tried on wedding dresses. I went in completely open-minded, not actually being sure I WANTED a wedding dress. I honestly thought I wanted something off the rack, slightly altered to fit me, from some place like Nordstrom’s or Saks. I felt like I wanted an evening gown style dress. So, I looked at them. I tried them on. I didn’t love them.

 

We had our appointment at Becker’s Bridal, which is located in this podunk town of Fowler, Michigan. The entire town seems to revolve around Becker’s Bridal – there’s a bridal store, a bridesmaid/mother of the bride dress store and a guys wedding attire store. The local economy hinges on wedding season, it appears.

 

I tried on several dresses and Danyel (our wedding-dress-guru) was amazing. She just kept plugging away, asking questions about what I liked, what I didn’t like. It was an amazing experience.

 

I’d actually put my own clothes back on and we were looking for round two of dresses to try on, when Danyel brought out a dress and asked if I’d be interested in trying it on.

 

‘Sure’ I said.

 

And that was it.

 

The last dress I tried on was the dress I bought (well, my Mom and Dad bought! THANK YOU).

 

I feel like a kid in a candy store and yet like an adult – sort of silly and yet incredibly excited. This dress – my dress – honestly makes me feel the most beautiful I’ve felt in a singular piece of clothing…it’s gorgeous. Err…I mean…it has a ribbon and a bow. My Mom is adamant that no one know what the dress look like until THE BIG DAY so the line is ‘it has a ribbon and a bow’. That’s what I’m allowed to say. And since she was the one who encouraged me to try it on – well – she gets to set the rules. That, and did I mention she paid for it? Yup, her rules go.

 

Like my Mom said, I kind of had talked everyone into acting as though getting married isn’t a big deal, but it IS. Regardless of how big or small the wedding or the reception may be.

 

So, when push came to shove, I knew what I wanted. I was decisive and all that good stuff…and Jon just rolled his eyes and breathed deep.

 

I swear – I swear – that I’m going to remain normal throughout the planning process. I’m going to act natural, of course.

 

But in the meantime, I think I’ve got a photographer picked out too…

 

I’m so looking forward to publicly promising to be Jon’s wife (again, weird to write), to have my family and friends watch and celebrate with us. I’m looking forward to making memories on that day, on the days leading up to it, and all the days after.

 

I’m a sucker for a great party – so here’s to our wedding!

Postsecret The Play

I have much to update and two drafts in the queue that will have to wait.

 

I’ve just returned from Postsecret The Play and it was amazing. It was the second time that they’ve done this play – it was actually a workshop – and I forgot how much I enjoy Frank Warren’s take on the world.

 

But more than that, I spent time with my Mom and her friends and Hol Leigh, my Mom’s BFF’s Teri’s daughter-in-law (keeping up?). Anyway, it was so awesome to be with five other women for the evening, in such a cool atmosphere, doing something in a local-ish community but that had some sort of panache to it…I don’t know, I’m just feeling inspired as a result!

 

I think it’s good to get away, to spend time doing things that you enjoy doing or venturing slightly outside your comfort zone with people that you trust.

 

I have said repeatedly how lovely I think my Mom and her group of lady-friends are — I’m just glad that Hol Leigh and I get to be included, too!

 

It was at the Temple Theater in Saginaw, which was absolutely gorgeous. We had dinner at the Savoy Bar & Grill before hand, where an older woman waited on us in a smock apron, which was kind of neat too. When I asked for red wine she told me they had “Merlot or Chardonnay” for their red wines…definitely off the beaten path a little bit 🙂 The food was good, the company was excellent and the evening was a success.

 

I talked – a lot. I laughed – a lot more. It was refreshing and energizing all at once.

 

And – it turned out I walked around the entirety of the evening, feeling pretty sassy in my first-time-wearing-them-out skinny pants and heels, with my pants unzipped.

 

So, I ALMOST have it all together.

 

In the meantime, Elle and Jon hung out at home and got to play together. I need an Elle play day in a big way. Just a me-and-her kind of a day. Soon.

 

But in the meantime, I’ll live and thrive on nights like tonight, sharing time and space and memory with some of the best women I know. Thanks for a great night ladies!

 

P.S. – Can you believe we didn’t take a group photo together? Unbelievable.

We Stayed Home

Last Wednesday (I know, I know — better late than never, though) I was to have been in Indianapolis. However, a Fireman’s Convention meant that I couldn’t find a hotel, which meant I couldn’t head out of town. So – I opted to take Wednesday off work at the last minute.

And — it. was. awesome.

Elle and I woke up at about 6:30 a.m., had some breakfast, hung out a bit, jumped, played toys. I checked some work email and did some work-related stuff and then just threw in the towel because I was having SO MUCH fun with my girl.

Took a gratuitous photo of the two of us because very few of them exist. This was the beginning of one of the best days I’ve had with her, ever. (I mean, of course every day is awesome-er than the next, of course…er…).

 

A little video for effect, if you’re in the mood (I can’t figure out how to do video embedding and I don’t feel like figuring it out tonight…so…there you go).

I don’t even know what all we did – we played toys, we had lunch with Andrea and Drew, we went for a long walk, we took lots of cuddly, warm quiet naps.

 

Drew fell asleep on our long walk -- with his head against the stroller. Tired boy.

All I know is that it was so super cool to spend a WHOLE DAY (not a weekend day, those are different. I don’t know why, but they just are.) with my girl. I mean, honestly, the last time that I felt like I spent all day with her – got the best parts of her throughout the day and had her on my schedule/her schedule/the right/best schedule – was when I was on maternity leave and I’ve been back to work now for nearly four months. Longer than I was on maternity leave. And it was so, so cool to have a day with no doctor’s appointments, no reason to get in the car. Simply spending time with my girl. I made a mental note to try to do that every so often because it felt SO good.

In other news…

I continue to work on the backyard. It’s coming together. Yesterday, Jon and I and Elle went for breakfast at our favorite local yocal spot (Elle slept the whole time!) and on the way back drove through his old neighborhood area. We saw a man grinding a tree stump, so we stopped and asked him when/how much to do the stump in our yard.

He said he’d be over in an hour and a half! Craziness!

So, while that was going on, I was re-working the rock border, hauling red lava rocks (seriously WHO thinks those are a good option? who?) out of the gardens and moving the wood chips into the one hosta garden bed adjacent to the patio.

Today, I managed to put down fertilizer and grass seed in the area that used to be the walkway. We’ll see if I can grow grass!

I also got the patio put back together, re-drained the pond (good news is, it holds water!) so I could work on it this week, and started trying to clean up the hoses, etc.

Jon was home Sunday from the nuclear plant where he’s working out of town six days a week and he got to spend quality time with our girl, and I got to get some serious yardening done.

Still have a Japanese Maple that needs to be cut back in a bad way – it’s impeding my view to the golf course from the upstairs living room – my Dad’s advice was ‘stand up’. Have several other trees that need trimming, have a host of red rocks and orange brick that need to be hauled away and I need to manage to remember to ask someone to water my grass seed while I’m out of town the next two days.

Seriously – yardening is a LOT of work. I’m tired of it just typing it.

But it’ll be so worth it when it’s all said and done.

Anywho – just wanted to remember how great it was, that one day, to stay home with NOTHING to do, and spend it with my girl.

To all a good night…

L

 

The %&$!# Back Yard

So, we moved into this house just over a year ago. I wasn’t sentimental about that anniversary coming and going for some reason. Should I have been?

Either way, we’ve done a LOT of projects around here. I’m always excited about each of them…and then they take longer and cost more than originally anticipated OR they just plain require a shit-ton of manual labor/elbow grease.

So goes the story of the backyard. Not that the front yard is any better, but the back yard is…well…on display for golfers all summer long. It’s where our family room walks out to and I like spending time outside, especially in summer, with a cocktail and friends and family.

I wanted the back yard to get some attention too.

I have no good before shots, really. Here are a few…

This is what the backyard used to look like - from the golf course angle. The scrub bushes to the right and left of the stairs, the red landscaping rock EVERYWHERE and the steps that were in need of attention. Plus a teeny tiny patio.

So, the above shows you what it looked like. What you might not get from this angle is how the awful red landscaping rock goes WAAAAAY into the patio area, meaning that the patio is pretty tiny. Our patio table barely fit with people around it. It was awkward, to say the least.

Here’s a good shot from above that shows you how what should have been usable patio space was overwhelmed by that crappy red rock. For the record, if you’re ever thinking of using it – DON’T. It’s the WORST. It doesn’t stay in the beds where you put it, it blows all over the yard, it crushes in the lawn mower or when you step on it, and yet somehow, when dead leaves and sticks fall in it, you can’t get those out of it. It’s straight-up awful stuff.

So this photo, you can see, is taken from the patio area toward the driveway. Some overgrown bushes (which look nice strictly because they’re green, I assure you).

Here’s what that area looks like from the deck above. A nice blue stone walkway from the driveway over with that obnoxious red landscaping rock (can you tell I abhor it?!) and some more randomly-placed bushes. Oh, yeah, all surrounded by a nice border of red brick. What? Why? Random.

Here’s another shot of that walkway…(FYI – this was at the gender-reveal part we hosted back in June!).

Ignore me in this photo – but notice the random red wood behind me? Some of those posts are used to hold up the deck above. But the other ones with the lattice work – a four foot opening onto the teeny tiny patio. And, you can see the expanse of red rock, blue stone and red brick mess between where I sit and the driveway.

These photos were captured in September and are taken from the golf course. In the top photo, you can see on the right side of the frame, the pond which is the bane of my existence right now. It is on the left in the bottom photo. It has gone untended for approximately 10 years. There are beautiful iris and lillies in the pond – but there is about 2 feet of mud and sludge and it is completely overrun with cattails. So, I’m also in the process of cleaning out the pond down to its liner and ridding it of EVERYTHING. Jon’s Mom, Karen, came over yesterday to help me and it was great to have an extra set of hands. She’s got great ponds at her house, so she knows what she’s doing. She even rescued some of the good stuff from the pond and is going to pot them and see what happens. If it were me all alone, it’d all be trash-bound.

The other exciting thing you’ll notice at the right edge of the house is a pitiful excuse for a tree. It was already leaning when we moved in. The area below it washes out when we get heavy rain because it’s a main thoroughfare (I don’t know terms like this…) for the drainage from the neighbors across the street. Then it got hit by lightning or something and lost another limb over 4th of July last year. It’s a hideous looking tree from every angle but our bedroom…so it’s coming down. (Not to mention it’s SUPER messy). Another item on the list.

What’s most exciting, though, is the progress that’s been made already. My Dad and Jon and Trevor and my Uncle Bill (and even Frank, Andrea’s husband, one night) re-did the patio. It was an almost-fight for Jon and I, but I think we’re both glad it’s done (and done early) now.

Here are some photos of Jon and my Dad working on the patio.

So, if you use your imagination, you might be able to understand that ALL THE RED ROCK IS GONE (buried a quick and painless death beneath what you’re now viewing). The patio stone was salvaged from the walkway pictured above, from the steps that were already there, and from some other areas, too. It was all torn up and re-laid in large part by these two guys! How much do they rock?! It was my Dad’s vision, and I’m so glad that it came to life already.

Sorry to bore with such an uneventful post tonight, but I wanted to capture the things we’re doing behind the scenes. Oh yeah, and put into posterity’s vault the fact that I will NOT be able to lift my arms above my head tomorrow. This afternoon while Jon and Elle were napping, I buried the remaining red rock, tore out four HUGE bushes, began leveling out the topsoil and got attacked my an army of gnats the entire time.

So, I will post some updates as the summer goes on, but here’s our starting point. I can’t wait to post pictures of the finished products AND of us enjoying it with Elle, our families and our friends all summer long!