Monday, June 24, 2013

Is a house ever just a house?

I still remember the six month house hunt Aaron and I went on the first year we where together.  He was so picky, everything had to be perfect.  The market was just starting to go crazy at the time, so as soon as a sign went into a yard it was sold.  The house prices started to creep up and up.  In August we looked at our house, it was okay.  The inside was painted with flat white paint, and every room in the house had pink carpet, YES PINK!  It had a lot of potential though, it was on a corner lot, fenced, and had a 584 square foot screened in patio.  The patio was amazing, with an insulated roof and ceiling fans, so even on a hot day it was wonderful to sit on the patio.

After discussing it for about a day, we made an offer.  Three weeks later Aaron finalized the purchase of what would be our first home.  At first it was so frustrating, the stove broke within the first three months, the AC went out six months after that, and those pink carpets drove us crazy.  The kitchen was tiny, and their were two family rooms but they were cut apart from each other by the kitchen.  Slowly we started to pick out paints and began the process of making this house our own.  At the time it was frustrating because we could never decide on anything, it took us forever to pick a paint color for the spare bathroom, and when I mean forever I mean about three months.

During this time, we married, and found out within thirty days of our wedding that we where having a baby.  Knowing that another kid was going to be running around our non-functional (for us) home, made us feel crowded and in limbo.  Should we sell and buy another house, or should we renovate our current home.  We spent a solid six months trying to decide.  We finally settled on remodeling and renovating our current home.

We signed the contract with the Contractor in February of 2006 and in September of the same year it was finally finished.  It was seven months of pure hell, especially since I had a baby in the middle of the remodel.  When it was all finished, it was amazing!  We had this beautiful wide open floor plan, and a dream kitchen.  We put in tile and wood floors throughout, and the difference was shocking to anyone who saw it.  We finally had our home.

Then it all came crashing down... The inevitable happened, the real estate and mortgage market crashed, and like so many others, I was a victim of the layoffs.  For a short time I felt like had a contagious disease, because no one wanted to hire anyone from the mortgage industry.  I worked where I could, when I could just to bring in extra money.  Aaron was exhausted from working seven days a week to support his family.  We used our savings to keep paying our house payment, but it was inevitable that we would finally run out of money.  We finally hit that point, and we knew that we had to do something completely different.

So here I am, a Hoosier Mom, living in Southern Indiana doing everything I can to scrimp and pinch and keep us where we are right now.  Able to live on one income, so I can be here at home for my kids.  It has been a true struggle to be here for me.  It is beautiful here and I love the more laid back lifestyle, but making friends and meeting people is hard when all you do is play taxi to your children.

When we moved from Florida, we decided with hesitation to lease our house to my brother, in the hopes of keeping it so someday we could actually sell it.  He lived their for a year and a half and only recently moved out.  That is when all hell broke loose, literally.  He left the house unlocked and so one of our wonderful neighbors went over to check on the property.  It was horrible the condition it was left in, all of our appliances where stolen, there were holes in every wall in every room, the beautiful (expensive) brushed steal track lighting I had installed in the kitchen was gone.  It has been replaced with cheap five dollar lighting, the switch plates where all missing.  Worst of all though was their weren't any doors left in the interior of the house, not even closet doors.

With the condition of the house we knew we would be forced to sell it.  So Aaron and I decided that I should go to Florida to clean it up so we could get it on the market.  From the moment I crossed the state line, I felt that twinge of homesickness.  It had been two years since we moved and I had never felt it until that moment.  I got in on Friday afternoon and waited until Monday to walk through the property.

Pictures did not do it justice, the damage was horrible, but the smell was worse.  I was heartbroken and devastated that my own brother could take my home and treat it this way.  The whole time I am working and cleaning the house, I am doing it through tears.  Every room is a memory, which makes it hurt even more.  So many people say to me all the time, it is just a house.  To me it isn't, it was the beginning of my life with Aaron.  The very beginning!  It was the first thing we did together, and although we did not realize it when we moved, we had made it from a house with pink carpet and gray cabinets to our cozy home.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Letters to Nana

Dear Nana,

It is hard to believe it has been two and a half years since you left me.  I miss you so much.  Although it does get easier, there are so many times in my day that I think of you.  I could not sleep the other night, and was flipping through the channels on the TV.  There it was, a movie you and I watched a lot, "The Al Jolson Story", I had to watch it!  As I was watching, I found myself vacillating between grief and anger.  I guess I still don't understand.  I know you were tired, but why did you ignore something so simple.  It was horrible for me to watch you suffer so much.  It wasn't fair, it wasn't right!  You gave up, and you left me.  I needed you

I understand that my belief that you would live forever was unrealistic, but you were the most amazing person in my life.  My kids should have had more time with you.  They should have had to opportunity to get to know you like I did.

I find myself doing little things, like watching old movies, flipping through pictures, or even playing Bingo.  All of it just so I can feel closer to you.  Is that sad?  Maybe it is, but when you left, you took a piece of me with you.

All my love,
Your Grandaughter

I Finally Get It!

Yesterday it hit me like a slap in the forehead.  I was driving, taking the kids to dinner, then off to the Louisville Bats game, and I realized... You can't teach your kids "perfection", but you can teach them self-confidence.

It may not be new to you, but it is to me.  I spent a big part of my life trying to be "perfect".  The perfect child, perfect employee, and just plain perfect in everything that I do.  It becomes exhausting trying to always be what everyone else deems as perfect.

My parents did not know how to teach me self confidence.  They told me I could be whatever I wanted to be, but then told me if I made a mistake "I WILL KNOW" (insert satanic voice here).  As a child that was terrifying.  So I did the only thing I knew, I tried to be their perfect child.  Here I am 38 years old and raising four kids of my own.  I want to be different but how do you learn to be different when all you know is a certain way?

When Hoosier Daddy and I decided to make such a big change in our lives, I knew it would be better for us.  I guess I didn't realize how.  When we got here, it was tough.  We lost my precious Nana, I was a SAHM, and I didn't know anyone except his family.  I fell into old habits, and then back out again.  I vacillated between trying to be "wholly me" and the perfect person that was created when I grew up.

As time went by, I didn't worry so much about what the kids where wearing as much as the fact that they actually dressed themselves.  That's when it hit me!

When my kids get dressed all by themselves and then come to me and say "Mommy, how do I look?", do you know what I say?  I ask them to look in the mirror and tell me how they feel about how they look.  If they tell me "AWESOME", well then I say, " sweetie, mommy thinks you look awesome too".

Yes this world can be unforgiving when it comes to kids expressing themselves, but as a parent it is my job to teach my kids that it is okay to just be "them".  They don't have to be what the world wants them to be.

So I finally get it, sometimes it is not about wearing black with brown, or flowers and plaid.  Sometimes it is about, how they feel about expressing themselves in the only way they know how right now, which is how they dress.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Feel good or Feel bad

So I just finished watching my hundred billionth feel good Disney movie... I know that is an exaggeration, but it is kinda true... four kids multiplied by how many different movies they like.  I will let you do the math.

Back to my topic.  I just finished watching "Let It Shine".  The movie wasn't just about Rap music.  It had an awesome message.  Considering I don't really like rap music, much.  It really caught my interest.  Because it was about someone who knew they had a gift (kind of) but weren't confident enough to act on it.

For those that haven't seen the movie, here is a synopsis.  The movie was about this teenager that was a gifted musician.  He was basically misunderstood by everyone in his life.  His best friend took the credit for something he wrote and recorded, and he went along with it.  Then of course at the end he magically shook off all those insecurities to rise above it all, and showed that he was the amazing artist known as "Truth".

Here is what I find a little contradictory about a movie like this, if someone is that unsure of themselves.  Then how do they "stand up" to the opposition, how do they show their true merit to get the credit they deserve.  How can you be so insecure and self-confidant at the same time.  Of course the movie ended on a high note, but that is how it works in fairy-tale land.  Wouldn't it be nice if real life was the same way?

So I am watching this movie and feeling really good, then at the end I was wondering... What am I good at?  Well the obvious would be getting pregnant!  But what else?  It is sad that there are so many people out there who are truly amazing but will never have the opportunity to be anything more than what they are at that moment.

I am 38 years old and still have no idea what I am "gifted" at.   What I do know is what I love to do.  I have decided that I am going to do that, whether it amounts to anything or not, it doesn't really matter to me at this point in time.  What matters is that I have an opportunity to do what I love.  So I am going to take it.

Welcome to my "Fairy-Tale"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It never goes away

I always knew in my heart that when my precious Nana was gone it would be heartbreaking. The past year has been a roller coaster of grief. I hit the angry phase and stayed there for awhile. Lately I have been wavering between feeling numb and remembering the happy stuff.

It is hard to describe the heart wrenching pain of losing someone. Even when you know it is coming, it still hurts as bad as if it happened quickly. I spent six months just remembering that last month with her. Going over every detail, wondering if there was anything I could have done different. When I finally got past that part, I was so angry with her. Wondering why she did not love me enough to take better care of herself.

Now in this phase, when I think about my Nana, which is often, I can finally remember the good stuff. And yet ... as the one year anniversary of her passing fast approaches, I am finding myself right back at the beginning. When I think about Nana now I remember those days again.. and the pain.. and the questions.

You see the nurse told us that we should tell her it was okay to go. I could never bring myself to do that. I never asked her to stay, but I never held her hand and told her she was okay to go. I just told her I loved her! I still to this day wonder if she held on so long because I did not tell her it was okay.

Nana and I have always had a strong bond. I was blessed to be able to grow up with her, she was an amazing woman who taught me a lot about everything. I grew up with an appreciation for things beyond my years. I love black and white movies, the opera, Al Jolson, The Rat Pack (not the Brat Pack) and so many other things. All because of her. I know how to play just about any card game there is, and have an appreciation for people who have a different belief system than I do. These are all things that I learned from my Nana.

As I write this, I find myself falling back into the angry phase, still wondering why. Why didn't she go to the Dr? She knew she was sick. Why didn't she take better care of herself? Wasn't I enough of a reason for her to stay? They are all selfish questions, but they are still there. As I revisit all of these questions I have a lump in my throat and my chest hurts.

I actually have about fifteen unpublished blogs that I called Letters to Nana, they are deeply personal and as I read them now, I still cry. Does it ever get any better? And if it does I am not sure I want it to stop hurting. If it does, does that mean that I am okay with her being gone? Because I never want to be okay with it, I just want it to not hurt so much!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I am sad and happy all at once

So my wonderful bread machine has finally died.... it was older so I am not surprised. I used it everyday and sometimes twice a day. My wonderful sister in law has "donated" her bread machine to me. She does not use it anymore and knew that I use mine all the time.

A couple of months ago, she had given me this really great cookbook. The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking.... so now I think it is time to break in the new one. I am going to start cooking a new recipe from the cookbook at least twice a week.

So stay tuned for my reviews of "The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking"

And a special thank you to my family for giving me the first bread machine.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How is it different....... this time

I have begun the college process yet again. I am not sure I can even remember how many times I have started and dropped out of college. I am ashamed to even admit that, but it could be a great lesson for other people. Ugh! Now I know I am a parent, when I am turning my mistakes into life lessons.....

What is different "this time"? Is that not the question everyone asks in this type of situation. Since I have been in and out so often, how do I know for sure this is the time. For now, my answer is quite simple.

Everything is different this time. Towards the end of last year's school year, I realized that my son would be graduating from high school in five very short years. This was a wake up call. My parents went back to college when I was in high school, and I have to tell you it was hard. During that time period, I do not remember much of them. They were always gone, in class, working, or studying. It was the hardest time of my life, and my parents had "checked out". At that point in time it should have been the moment that pushed me to this point. Sadly that was not the case.

I have had people in my life who tried to show me the path to success. I ignored it, thinking, like most young people, that they had no clue what I was going through. Age, experience, and self awareness, prove that we do not know Jack Squat when we are younger. It is the people like me at this age who prompt, guide, lead, and just try to rescue the kids. Just like most of the adults in my life!

I can try to list all the reasons why I failed before, instead I choose to list all the reasons that I will succeed this time.

1. Obtaining my degree will mean trying to "break the cycle" in my family. I want my son to understand that college is not an option. I want him to see it as inevitable. The way that I should have.
2. Now that I am older, I understand it all more, which means it means more to me than just the first one listed. It is validating the ones who tried to guide me in the past (ie. My parents and My Aunt Ali).
3. I am busier now than I ever was before, but I always find time for my schoolwork.... because, see number 1 & 2.
4. It isn't about making more money, or even having my degree, it is about proving that the hardest thing you can do, is NOT go to college.

It took me turning 36 and a lot of wonderful people in my life to finally figure out what I liked enough to spend so much time away from my family. It also took living out in the country and seeing how so many other people live their lives, content, without a college education, but always struggling. I do not want my kids to be constantly struggling. Even if I never use it, I have to have it, I feel like my children's future depends on it. What more motivation do you need than that?