Friday, December 31, 2010

Reverb10- Day 31

This is my last Reverb post. So if you have found these little bits of reflection to be annoying, its all over! December 31 – Core Story What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today. I think my central story this year was learning to accept things. It is also something that I want to continue working on. Acceptance means that I'm not worrying about events that I can't change and I had to do that a lot this year. Accepting loss, life, disappointment and changes are such core parts of life. Some people refuse to open their eyes and embrace those things but I was forced into a reality this year where I couldn't turn my back or close my eyes to the truth. I had to accept life the way it was handed to me. I look forward to sharing more moments from my life in 2011. I honestly can say that I love blogging. It provides me with so much peace when I can type out my thoughts, hit publish post and know that others are going to read it, agree or disagree and perhaps even comment! I hope my central story in 2011 is one of happiness and good news but even if I have additional trying times, I know that I must learn to accept those and move forward. Reverb10 has been an awesome experience and I've loved participating in this reflection. Thanks everyone for reading and now back to regularly scheduled programming......

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reverb10- Day 30

December 30 – Gift Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Author: Holly Root) The greatest gift I received this year were friendships. Friendships that were brand new, friendships that I had had for many years and friendships that I watched grow. It was so great to expand our circle of friends and welcome many people not only into our lives, but into our home. Nothing makes a house feel like a home more than inviting people over to spend time together. Many of these new friendships that we have made are so meaningful to us. They take us back to a trying time but we are connected through those memories and we hope that over the years, we can make more memories with them. Also, I got a real nice Coach purse in May. That was a pretty awesome gift.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reverb10- Day 29

December 29 – Defining Moment Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. People on Twitter seem to agree that we have already answered this prompt. I'll just make a list: 1. Watching a wife and children have their life change in an instant. This moment way back in January was really the biggest moment of 2010 in so many ways. It effects me every single day and will for the rest of my life, I'm sure. 2. Discovering that the road to motherhood would be a long, rocky, windy road. But I'm learning to deal with it with peace and calmness. (Is that a word, calmness?) 3. Learning that stability in your life can change and become completely unstable without having any control over it. Due to this, I'm trying to make sure the parts that we can control are in order. I really don't have any other huge moments to report. I guess I am lucky in that way. The good was good, the bad was bad and I count my blessing everyday.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reverb10- Day 28

December 28 – Achieve What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
Peace. I want to achieve mental peace. I don't want to be such a worrier. I want to allow life to run its course and I want to be able to deal with the events of my life with a calm manner. I want to put one foot in front of the other and make decisions based on how to remain the most peaceful in my mind. I imagine that I will feel content and calm if I am able to accomplish peace in my life.
10 things I can do or 10 thoughts I can think in order to experience that feeling today:
1. Finish your vacation to do list
2. Remain patient
3. One thing at a time
4. Pay day is right around the corner
5. Exercise
6. Laugh with friends
7. In the end, everything will be okay. If its not okay, its not the end.
8. Positivity
9. Hang up a new piece of art
10. Snuggle with kitty

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reverb10-Day 27

December 27 – Ordinary Joy Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: BrenĂ© Brown)
I was at my sister's house a few weeks ago and I was playing with my niece Diana. We were writing and drawing on the white board in the playroom. I asked her to spell my name on the board and she asked me how I spelled it. Well, I knew she could spell "Au Bob" but I wasn't sure if she could spell Michelle so I thought I would see if I could trick her into saying my name. She's been talking for 3 years now and I have never heard her say "Michelle".
I spelled out Michelle, letter by letter and asked her what it spelled. She said "Michelle." Something so simple really made my heart swell 100 times. It was completely and utterly joyful and if she calls me Au Bob for the rest of my life, I'll be okay with that but hearing her say Michelle was pretty sweet.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reverb10- Day 26

December 26 – Soul Food What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins) I'm not much of an adventurous eater. I stick to my regular menu of items and don't really go off of my regular palate. Ok, I'm picky. Plain and simple. I'm a very picky eater. Anytime I ate chocolate I can say it touched my soul. Because chocolate is one of the greatest inventions of all time. I'm sure foodie bloggers participating in Reverb are having a field day with this prompt but I really have nothing to contribute.

1 year of Kitty

A year ago today, we welcomed Kitty into our lives. We love her so much and treasure every moment that we have to laugh and cuddle with her. Even when she moves from the foot of the bed to the top of the bed at 3 a.m. and shoves her face into ours, waking us up. She just wants love from her mommy and daddy. :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reverb10- Day 25

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. IMG_6952 I want to jump for joy at life. I want to be silly and not worry about what others think about me. I want to be myself and embrace who I am. I want to take a leap of faith, even if that it just 2 feet off of a planter box in Santa Cruz. I want to believe that I will land on my feet even if I'm scared of falling on my face. I want to go through life with a look of sheer happiness and perhaps a little fear.

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours.....Merry Christmas. May your day be blessed with memories that last a lifetime.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reverb10- Day 24

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead? I'm not sure I can pinpoint it down to one moment but since there is a lot of doubt and worry filling my head, I'd have to say moments when it is just me and my husband (and kitty) at home, watching tv, laughing, talking and generally enjoying each other. Those times when I wish I had more and I'm feeling sad because I don't, I am reminded what I already have and how someday, when the time is right, things will fall into place and our dreams will come true. But for now, on Christmas Eve, I'm sure that everything is going to be alright as we gather gifts to bring to my sister's house and get excited about walking downstairs tomorrow morning to open our stockings and gifts. Because when you realize how much love you have around you, how can anything really be wrong? In 2011, I will take each day as a gift. I will treasure what I have and hope for the best but I'll know that there is a plan out there for us and in time, everything will be ok.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reverb10- Day 23

December 23 – New Name Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why? This is a really weird question. Another name? After being Michelle for 31 years, how am I supposed to imagine introducing myself as someone else? Strange. The only thing I can think of that it would be funny to introduce myself as Au Bob for a day and see people's reaction. If you are new to my blog, Au Bob is what my niece calls me. In fact, up until a few weeks ago, I had never heard her say Michelle. Ever. I asked her to spell my name on her white board and then say it. It sounded weird coming out of her mouth. I'm much more comfortable being Au Bob! Bon was a word that came easily to her when she started talking so we taught her to say Aunt Bob but Aunt came out as Au (Ahhhh) and it stuck. People think it's cute and so do I!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb10- Day 22

December 22 – Travel How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt)
I was lucky to be able to take 4 memorable trips this year. 2 for work and 2 with my husband.
In May, we set off for Monterey and Carmel for the weekend. The weather was perfect and it was so fun exploring this wonderful coastal area together. I hope to make this a place we visit more often!
In August, I had the pleasure (sarcasm) of attending a 4 day work conference in Santa Cruz that happened to fall during my birthday. Fortunately, I have fun coworkers and we made the best of it. I still love looking at all of the crazy pictures we took and thinking that for a work conference, I had a pretty good time.
Just a month later, I had another work trip. This one included travelling with 22 teenagers to Anaheim, home of Mickey Mouse. And even though we stayed at Paradise Pier Hotel and walked around Downtown Disney, we weren't able to go to Disneyland. Again, another trip made fun by having fun coworkers but exhausting because we were only gone for 36 hours and hello....22 teenagers. I was shocked that I survived.
The last trip of the year was a big one! HAWAII! Ahhhhhh what a great vacation. Sure, it was way too short (just 4 nights) but we really did make the best of every second we had there. I love Kona and it brings back such amazing memories of going every October for many years as a kid to watch my dad compete in the Ironman. Visiting Kona during the Ironman is something I hope we can do again and again. It is such a special experience.
Aside from maybe some weekend trips, we have no plans for any travelling for 2011. I'm hoping to save vacation time and money for the child we hope to have. But 2010 provided great memories of great places we visited.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Christmas per family

My parents split up when I was in high school. They involved no lawyers. No custody arrangements. I didn't have to shuttle back and forth from one house to another every other weekend. My parents didn't have to avoid each other like the plague when they would have to see each other. My parents are friends. Close friends. They help each other when needed. My dad forgot his camera when he went to Hawaii last month and my mom was going to FedEx it to him before he called her and said not to. When my mom needs help getting boxes down from the rafters in her garage, he helps. When she needs to borrow his SUV to take stuff to the dump, he drives the 1.6 miles to her house and lets her use it. The house my dad lives in is the house where we all lived from 8-18. My mom lived there after the divorce and then she decided it was my dad's turn to live there. She moved out, he moved in. Being at my sister's wedding or my wedding wasn't complicated. We didn't have to keep our parents apart. They shared a table with no concern from anyone. And we don't split up for Christmas. There is no "Dad's Christmas" and "Mom's Christmas." Thank goodness. I literally couldn't imagine going through that situation. Now or ever. Especially not as a kid. Hats off to my mom and dad for being mature, responsible adults who put us kids first and knew what would be best for us. No shuttling us around, no complicated schedules, no hiding from each other. Just love for each other. Love that created a family and love that continues to create amazingly fun memories for not just me and my sister, but for our spouses and my niece's.

Reverb10-Day 21

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blak) Enjoy each moment because life can change so fast. Take time to read some books. Use your DVR more and settle into the chair in the loft and read, learn and fantasize. Do nice things for the people in your life and strangers on the street. Nothing feels as good as charity. Envision where you want to be but don't consider yourself a failure if you don't reach those goals. Everyday is an accomplishment. Bonus: Dear December 2000, 21 year old Michelle, In two semesters you will be done with college. Pick a better internship during your last semester. Don't sign up for that Friday 8 a.m. Premarital intervention class. You can probably learn more from the internet. Don't stress about what you are going to do with your life. You hav another year before that comes along. Just enjoy life. Go buy toilet paper RIGHT NOW. You might think you are never going to find a husband but in just 4 years, you will have found him and be spending time buying Christmas presents for him. And he loves you. Don't drink as much Hooch on New Years Eve. You won't be able to remember what happened 10 years from now. Go to the beach more! You live 5 minutes away and you just don't go enough. Its a shame really. I really wish I had more but wow, 10 years ago it slipping my mind right now!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Done with the Dishwasher

Unloading the dishwasher is my least favorite chore ever. That is saying a lot since I have a little box to scoop three times a day. As a kid, my sister and I would split the duty of unloading dishes. Do you want to do the top or the bottom? I think I would most often pick top (when it was my turn to choose) because I didn't like putting away the silverware piece by piece. That made it feel like 25 extra things to put away because...well, technically it was 25 extra things to put away. I'm more of a "rinse, wash, dry, put away" (RWDPA) person. Rinsing and sticking in the dishwasher and unloading at a later date just seems like a waste of time and energy. Why have to put away 5 plates, 7 bowls, 10 cups and 25 pieces of silveware at once when you can easily rinse, wash, dry and put away the ONE plate, ONE cup, ONE fork and maybe a knife instantly after using them? In my head, I equate a dishwasher to a credit card. You think you are getting the easy way out by loading it up (or buying something) and forgetting about it without doing any work (handing over cash/debit card) but the next day or week or whenever you get around to unloading, you have to do it all at once (or pay the bill which at this point might be astronomical). This is why on Saturday night I declared myself DONE WITH THE DISHWASHER. I don't want to stick everything in there and unload it all at a later date. I tried setting up a system where my husband and I would switch off each time but because he is working damn near 90 hours a week, it falls back on me. I told him Sunday that if he wants to put stuff in there, that is fine but I refuse to unload what I don't load. From now on, I'm following the RWDPA method. Do you love your dishwasher? Or is it your least favorite chore? Do you find yourself waiting days to unload it because it is such a tedious task or do you find something relaxing about the clanking of glass?

Reverb10- Day 20

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell) What about lazy and unmotivated? That is the simple answer for why we still haven't finished painting the walls upstairs. And not even the bedrooms. The small section of wall upstairs that is white while 97% of the loft is painted a light beige. Laziness is the reason why we still have our old furniture collecting dust in the "guest bedroom" instead of moving it to the garage and attempting to sell it or give it away so we can actually create a guest bedroom. I hope in 2011 that we can continue to make our house and home by adding color, some pictures and personalization to the remaining rooms.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reverb10- Day 19

Healing What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? (Author: Leoni Allan) I'm not sure I was healed in 2010. I had a lot of emotional scars created this year due to our struggle to get pregnant and the death of our friend. I feel like a broken record since I keep repeating these events in these posts but the prompts are all about reflection and in terms of what "healed" me this year, I don't think I'm yet healed. The pain of infertility hurts. The death of our friend hurts. The thing that helps me move forward is my husband. He is my rock, my emotionally stable partner in rough times. Forever positive and optimistic. Over time, I appreciate his stability. I might not be completely healed from pain but his love and support continues to make difficult life events easier to swallow. I'd like my infertility to be healed in 2011. That's not too much to ask, right? :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reverb10- Day 18

ecember 18 – Try What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise) I want to be more charitable. I don't want to TRY to do this, I want to DO it. Not just financially charitable but I want to give more of my time. I want to clean out my closet and give away clothes, dvd's, cd's, etc that I don't use anymore. I want to volunteer for community events. I want to give some money to a cause that I believe it. A cause that will directly and immediately have an impact. For now, before I have kids, I have time. I don't have a lot of other commitments so not giving my time is a little silly. As for this year, I wanted to try to be more organized at work. I have 10 schools that I am responsible for keeping track of in my job. In the past, I started off with good intentions of being really organized with the paperwork that is required but it always just became a hot mess. In September when the school year started, I organized a large binder and I'm happy to say that I am still using it, keeping on top of paperwork and keeping all of my work together and in place. I feel like I am doing my job better because I am putting pride into what I do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reverb10- Day 17

December 17 – Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver) I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. This moment happened in one day, one instance. I had to give myself my trigger shot back in May when we were going through our first fertility cycle. I had the needle and meds at home but I forgot to bring them to my doctor appointment. The nurse ran me through the process and made me practice on myself. And I did. I injected myself with a needle. I drove home and closed the bedroom door so kitty wouldn't be all up in my bidness. I laid out all of the supplies and realized that in that moment, I felt like a drug addict. The syringe was all ready to go so I changed to a shorter needle (a longer one is used for pulling the meds into the syringe.....see, drug addict lingo.) I laid back, grabbed a handful of belly fat (and thought, geez, I've got a lot of this) took a deep breath and jabbed the needle in. I did it. I looked down at the needle and thought, I did it. Upon telling this to my husband (and mom and sister later on) they were quite surprised. Little Michelle gave herself a shot. Little Michelle is pretty strong. Even Little Michelle didn't know she could do something like that. But I can and I did and there isn't much else I can't do if I really put my mind to it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reverb10-Day 16

December 16 – Friendship How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick) I'm not sure if a specific friend changed my perspective on the world but I have enjoyed watching some of my closests friends become mothers. Wow, that makes me feel old. I'm glad I have so many friends to learn from and even though friendships do change when people have children, you know you have true friends when they still make time to visit, call or email.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reverb10-Day 15

December 15 – 5 Minutes Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh) January 3rd because it taught me about life, love and loss. The final season of Lost because Lost is the bomb. My husband's birthday party in February because we were surrounded by friends. Going to San Francisco with my extended family to honor my Nanny (Grandma) Our trips to Monterey, Carmel and Hawaii My 31st birthday party and actual birthday that was spent with my coworkers in Santa Cruz Watching my niece's grow up to be big girls Double sister time! Breaking my MIL's wine glass from her China set on Thanksgiving All the time I spent with my family The struggles and tears because sometimes life is hard but it challenges me to work through those hard times and find happiness. (I hope I'm not forgetting anything memorable)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverb10- Day 14

December 14 – Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein) Family. Without a doubt. In 2009, we moved within 25 minutes of our parents and my sister. Its actually just a 15 minute drive to my sister's house which is awesome. Being able to make a quick drive to be around our families has meant to the world to me. I realize how lucky I am to have such an incredible family, including my husband's family. We both feel so at home around our in-laws and I feel like we are perfect match for each other in so many ways. Some people aren't so lucky and have strained relationships with their parents, siblings and in-laws but I give thanks everyday for the loving, caring, supportive nature of our families. I express my gratitude by being there whenever we can. To celebrate, to mourn, to cry, to comfort. That is what family is all about. I try not to say no when I'm needed and I appreciate any help that we are offered. Two weeks ago, the brakes on my car were in bad shape. When I pressed on the brake pedal, it sounded like I was dragging pots and pans behind me. It was awful and I felt so unsafe driving my car. I had to get them fixed fast. I made some calls and got some quotes that made my eyes bug out of my head. I called my husband (who can change brake pads with ease) but he is working long days and can't do it. So my father-in-law called and said he could take care of it. But that night, I wouldn't be getting home until 5:30 and the last thing I wanted to do was make that (short, I know) drive down to his house and wait for an hour to get the job done. I was exhausted and just wanted to be home. So he threw out several options, none of which would work for me. He said he would fix my car the next day and drive me to work. No go, I need my car for my job. He kept trying to offer up his services but it just wasn't going to happen. He told me that it would cost an arm and a leg at a pro shop but that was my only option and I think he was a bit upset that I turned down his help. But you know what, how awesome is that? He was upset because he couldn't help me. He wanted so much to solve my problem but when it didn't work out, he was upset. We are so lucky.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wreaths Across America

I had the honor of taking part in Wreaths Across America this past weekend. I live 5 minutes away from a National Veteran's Cemetery where they have a wreath laying ceremony each year during Christmas time. A ceremony took place prior to the wreath laying that was outstanding. Veterans from each of the Armed Forces hung a wreath on the flag of their branch of the military. Dignitaries gave speeches that made me cry and the American Flag was all around and displayed with honor. I always feel proud to live in this great nation but never more so than Saturday morning. It was incredible. There were veterans there from WWII, Vietnam, Korea, the Gulf War and active duty military who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was incredible how many people had served in three wars. After the ceremony at about 10:00, we walked over and began laying fresh wreaths on over 7,000 gravesites. There were a few hundred volunteers and believe it or not, by 10:45 we were done. I stood with three wreaths in my hands and no where to lay them! I was able to physically lay down about 15-20 wreaths. It was great to see the young, the old and tons of families out doing their part to remember these veterans and their families. I didn't bring my dslr with me so these were taken with my iphone. Next year, I plan to bring my nice camera and capture pictures of the ceremony and the wreaths because it was quite an incredible site. I drove past the cemetery yesterday and was in awe of how festive it looked. They clean up the wreaths in January and I plan to be there to help with that as well. This is going to be a annual tradition for me and I hope you will click on the link above, find a veterans cemetery near you and give your time to this amazing cause.

Reverb10-Day 13

December 13 – Action: When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky) When deciding what to write about for each prompt, I try to stay true to my first thoughts. I read the prompt, a thought pops into my head and I usually end up writing about that. What follows is a bit of a lengthy story. It is information that I haven't yet shared on my blog but I think this is a good time to do it. So grab a Christmas cookie and some eggnog and read on..... I aspire to be a mother. I want to get pregnant and have a baby. Easier said than done. Let me go back to March 2009. That is when we decided we were ready for this whole trying to have a baby thing. My husband was in the middle of a 7 week long, 7 day a week work schedule and was living away from home so we had a few months to let it sink in that we were taking this step. I ordered this book from Amazon and started taking my temperature and charting every single day. But month after month, we found ourselves unsuccessful. Month after month, I started to wonder if something was wrong. Was I going to be one of those women that was....gulp....infertile? You spend years taking a pill to avoid getting pregnant and when you finally want to get pregnant, you can't. Finally, it was February of 2010. No baby. It was time to do something about it. I contacted my doctor and she gave me a referal to the Reproductive Endocrinologist at my hospital and I called to see what needed to be done. First, I had to attend a class about reproduction and infertility, as if I hadn't already done my research. It was awesome because I was the only person without my spouse with me. I'm sure the other people (and the nurse) were thinking "you aren't getting pregnant because you don't have a partner, silly." Second, lab tests. LOTS of lab tests. I think at one blood draw I had 5 vials of blood drawn. I had an internal ultrasound done (with my husband in the room....YIKES) and my husband contributed his offerings to be analyzed, if you know what I mean. For the most part, the doctor said things were fairly normal. Nothing looked so horrible on our labs that made it seem like it was impossible for us to have kids. We probably just needed some interventions to make it happen. I had an additional internal ultrasound where they push saline up into my tubes to see if there are any blockages. That was not fun. All clear, but not fun. Next up: treatment. It was May. Clomid (used to induce ovulation) plus a trigger shot administered by ME into my belly 36 hours before the deed was to be done. Yes, I gave myself a shot. No, I didn't think I could do it. Mind over matter people. Mind over matter. I took 5 days of Clomid (at night so I didn't experience side effects), triggered and know the rest. In between this was two ultrasounds. Everything looked good and we hoped for the best. But hoping didn't work because I didn't get pregnant. I made another appointment, went in for my baseline ultrasound to find that the stupid Clomid had caused an ovarian cyst. Wonderful. That cycle had to be cancelled because using any fertility drug with a cyst could mean trouble. I was heartbroken and scared. The doctor suggested that next time, we use a different drug. Next time still hasn't happened. Remember, it was June where I had my "I am fat" moment and I made the very, very, very difficult decision to postpone further treatment until I lost weight. I never explained that in my posts about my weight loss. I said I wanted to lose weight before getting pregnant but what I didn't say was that we had been actively trying and seeking treatment for months. I struggled with this decision. I talked myself out of it several times. But it was the right choice. (P.S. I'm down 27 pounds as of this morning) What's next? IUI. Intrauterine Insemination. In order to get this done, my husband need to be back on a normal, 5 day a week, 8 hours a day work schedule so he can get some labs done and be there for the insemination. Currently (and since November 1) he has been working 12 hour days, 7 days a week. When this schedule ends, we plan to move forward. And this time, we hope it works. I'm not sure if anyone saw the length of this post and actually decided to read it. The basic question of "what's your next step" wasn't so basic for me. But infertility can't be explained in a paragraph. I have so many more thoughts about this but this is our story so far. The technical side at least. The emotions, the tears, the anger, the doubt.....those I will save for another time. I have to thank my husband a lot. I emailed him this morning asking if I could blog about this and he said "yeah sure, blog away!" It's quite a personal struggle but it is also a struggle that MANY couples go through. I hope someone can read this and know "I am not alone."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reverb10- Day 12

December 12 – Body Integration This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds) I'd have to repeat myself and say the moment I got the news that our friend passed away. Knowing that a person just died really made me notice my own body. I was alive. I was feeling. I was experiencing emotion. I was having moments that my friend would never have again on this earth. Another moment was when I finally realized that I needed to lose weight. Like a lot of people, I was in complete denial about my weight and my body. But when I finally realized what I had become, I did feel alive and present. I felt confident that I could do what I needed to do to be successful. I didn't close my eyes when I was weighed at the doctor's office like before. I had to let those numbers stare me right in the face. I had to SEE what I had become. I couldn't allow my mind to ignore my body any longer. I had to face the facts and come to terms with where I let myself go. Denial is the enemy. Cliche moment: The truth will set you free.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reverb10-Day 11

December 11 – 11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)
I'm putting this out there into the internet world so that means I have to follow through with them, right? Right.
1. Useless Facebook "friendships": My life doesn't need to know what random people from high school are doing on a Saturday night. I'm going to hide. Not delete because then they will probably notice and friend request me again so I'll hide them. Rule of thumb: If I haven't commented on anything they have posted in the past few months, they are hidden. No matter what. My life doesn't need the clutter of other people's business....
2. Clutter: Not just facebook clutter but physical clutter. I need to get rid of piles of clutter around my house and keep it that way on a daily basis. It doesn't take that long to put something away after each use. I just have to start the habit of doing it and before to long, it will be normal.
3. Worry: I'm a chronic worrier. Sometimes I get this nagging feeling in my stomach that won't go away and when I really think on it, it turns out that I'm worrying about the silliest things. Worrying to a point where I physically feel the pain of it. No more. I need to adopt a mantra about putting useless worries behind me and out of my mind. Any suggestions?
4. Starbucks: I'm sure I'm not the only person wanting to rid this costly habit from their life. The fact is that you don't NEED it. It, like many things, becomes part of your daily or weekly way of life. I'm happy to drink water. I don't really even like the taste of coffee. And in the winter, I get peppermint hot chocolate which I can get in my office for free by using a hot cocoa packet and dropping a candy cane in the cup. Goodbye.
5."I don't feel like it": That attitude just isn't going to work anymore. Whether it be working out after a long day at work or needing to get housework done, I just need to do it. There are lots of things we don't feel like doing but how do things get done? They don't and that is no longer acceptable. I need to drop that saying and put things in motion. 6. Selfishness: Specifically, time selfishness. I had the complete honor today of taking part in the wreath laying at the local Veteran's Cemetery. It was an amazing experience. I watched Veteran's lay wreaths for each other their branch of the armed forces on the flag and listened to TAPS playing with tears in my eyes. I listened to speakers praise the Armed Forces of the United States of America and Wow, I felt so proud of this country that I call home. How lucky am I? I then spent 45 minutes carrying wreaths to gravestones and after reading the name of the veteran outloud, I placed the wreath against the gravestone and said "thank you." It was so moving and beautiful. I need to be less selfish with my time while I still can. Having no kids, I DO have time to volunteer and I don't. I should. I will. 7. Judgement: I live my life. Other people live theirs. Filling my days reading things and communicating judgement is immature. If people didn't judge others, how awesome would life be? Ce Le Vie, right? 8. Not dressing my age: I have a fairly casual job but that is no reason to look like a slob. I work with teenagers, not rats. I can wear jeans to work but dressing them up with a comfortable pair of boots and a nice shirt or blouse wouldn't hurt. When I get glances from on campus staff thinking I'm a student (even on a middle school campus), I think it is time to rethink my work wardrobe. I'm going to go to Kohl's over Christmas break and see if I can get enough tops in my closet to make a good rotation possible for each week. 9. Fast food: I don't eat tons of fast food but a few days a week, when I'm on road during lunch time, I find myself stopping into a local drive thru, even though I tell myself not to do it. I need to find a way to pack a lunch for myself that can be transported in my car. Sure, that might mean a peanut butter sandwich a couple times a week but that sure is cheaper than the $10-$15 I spent per week on lunch on the road and many more calories that aren't attaching themselves to my hips. 10. Things I don't need: A bit similar to clutter, I need to take a massive inventory of our belongings and see what I can get rid of. We have loads of useless stuff still in boxes from our move and even though they are in the garage, I would still like to sort through things that are in that in between gray area of "I for sure need this" and "I don't need it but don't want to get rid of it." 11. Blahness: I want to try new things. I don't want to have an ordinary life. We want to have kids but until we do, I want to embrace each day and make plans to do something different because I know once we have a child, our lives will change. We won't be able to make plans at the drop of the hat. This is a time when we can really stretch ourselves and experience exciting things! I want to look back at this time in my life and say "yes, I lived those years to the fullest."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reverb 10-Day 10

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway) I'm so blonde. When I read this prompt on my iphone this morning while laying in bed, I thought "wisest decision? How am I supposed to go through every decision this year and decide which one wa......Ohhhhhhhh." DUH Michelle. Obviously, deciding to lose weight was my wisest decision. Actually, I take that back. Deciding I was going to follow through with my proclamation to lose weight was the wisest. I talked a big game several times about how I was going to do this and that and the other thing but never followed through. I've lost 22ish pounds (haven't weighed myself in a while) and while losing another 22 would be wise, I'm happy where I am now. To be honest, I've started slacking off a bit. My routine of counting calories has stopped and I might not be making the smartest food decisions which does scare me. It is SO easy to creep back up that scale. This blog post is a good reminder that my weight loss isn't permanent. It is a work in progress and I have to continue to be mindful of that day when I drove home from Kohl's crying and know that it was and still is a wise decision to cut back on my portions and say NO to too much junk food.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb10-Day 9

December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid) Now this is a prompt I can easily write about! I'm going to pretend it says "gatherings" because I attended some pretty awesome parties this year! First was my husband's birthday party in February at a friends house. This doubled as a UFC watching party and was the first official gathering since our good friend JB passed away. We welcomed new friends to the mix and had about 20+ people there. Our friends had the kids in attendance sculpt Chris replicas out of PlayDoh. Awesome. We ate, laughed, watched UFC, played games and enjoyed the company of friends. We got home at about 1:00 a.m. which happened to be the same day we would host the same group of friends for a Super Bowl Party. Another successful gathering. Two parties within 24 hours? Not a bad way to spend a weekend. My niece turned 5 this year which meant that this would be her first year having friends at her birthday party. My sister did an amazing job planning a party at the park in their neighborhood. She made a cake (fondant and all) from scratch and the kids were all wired on sugar within minutes. My niece had such a fun time running around with her friends but I have to admit, it felt strange to be second fiddle to a bunch of 5 year olds. Au Bob wanted to play too!!! For my 31st (GASP) birthday, I knew that I wanted to have a party at our house. What kind of party? A Minute to Win it party. WOW. This was a lot of work but it totally paid off because it was super fun. Again, a UFC fight fell on the night of this party so we hustled through multiple games and I'm pretty sure everyone had a blast. My friends showered me with presents and I was exhausted by the end of the night. I realized again how lucky I am to have such amazing friends. It was one of the best birthday's I have ever had and although it was a lot of work, I kind of want to repeat it every year! Fun fact: When I look at the keywords that bring people to my blog, minute to win it party are among the most popular! I hope people are finding that post helpful! On my actual birthday, I was in Santa Cruz for work. Luckily, I was "off the clock" from 5 pm to 8 am so I was able to drink a margarita and not get in trouble for it. It was a great way to spend my birthday considering I was away from family and at a work conference for 4 days. We ate chocolate covered bacon (gross), took shots in a creepy bar (CHUG) and hung out in a stinky hotel room drinking champagne out of plastic cups (classy). My friend Kim made me a chocolate cake the week before at my birthday party and it travelled with me to Santa Cruz so I could have cake on my birthday. While turning 31 was kind of scary, the celebrating was terrific. I hope 32 is just as awesome! 2010 was a pretty good year for celebrating. I already have my mind on some parties I'd like to attend in 2011 and I can't wait to blog about those.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Preparing for Christmas

I was pretty bored Thanksgiving weekend and decided it was a good time to get the Christmas boxes out and decorate. My husband was at work and I thought it would be fun if he came home to a cheery, Christmas house. :) We don't have too many Christmas decorations but I think every time I step foot into Michael's or CVS lately, I buy a new Santa or Snowman or Rudolph decoration. It is an illness that I am not seeking out treatment for because I LOVE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. Our mantle: The dining room table: How cute are these snowmen? I love snowmen. The mini tree I got at Michael's last year. LOVE it. Kitty was all about the Santa hat. When I come home from work, the hat is in a different place every time. She puts it in her mouth and carries it around the house....then chews and bites it. Ok now what? And finally, the tree. I think my husband hyponotized me and brainwashed me into getting a fake tree. FAKE. I'm a real tree girl. We used to go out to tree farms and my dad would saw down the tree we picked out. I'm okay with going to Home Depot or the random lot on the corner to get the tree but NEVER a fake one. Until this year. Seriously, I was brainwashed. Hmmm, this looks delicious. And then we took about 15 tripod and timer assisted, pictures to use for our Christmas card. That was funny. But I'm not going to share the final result until Christmas Day. When do you start decorating for Christmas? Do you have the same Christmas Decoration Illness? Has your pet eaten your tree yet? Fake or real tree? Will my husband be mad because I'm pretty sure he asked me not to post that picture of him carrying the tree in the house.

Reverb10-Day 8

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond) As a Leo, making myself the center of attention is often the most important thing. Don't blame me, blame astrology. But I find it hard to point out the things that make me different or beautiful. I read this last night before I went to bed and pondered it on the drive to work. I'm not sure if the things I'll list below make me different than anyone else but I do believe they make me who I am as a person. A person that I enjoy being. I have a hard time saying no to a friend or family member in need. I am thankful for this trait because it has allowed me to spend oodles of time with my nieces and rescued friends who needed some help. My sister always thanks me multiple times over when I step in to watch my nieces but I have to remind her that spending time with those two lovely ladies isn't a chore, it is my duty as their aunt. It is cultivating the relationship that I hope to have with them for many, many years. I don't like saying no when I know that others will benefit from it. I work with teenagers and I realize not everyone has the ability to do that. No offense to him but I don't think my husband could last even a second at my job (and to be fair, I wouldn't last a second at his). The bond I'm able to make with the students I work with is priceless. I hope many of them will remember me down the road as that crazy lady who ran that program they were in during high school and middle school. I try my best to make each and every student feel valued and special every single second I am with them. Even the difficult ones. I'm half girly girl, half tomboy. I often joke about my tomboy side to my husband when I'm wearing jeans that are too big, a sweatshirt from my college, hair in a ponytail and running shoes to go out for the day. "Is this the girl you thought you would marry?" I fret over my March Madness bracket for the entire month of March. I screamed and yelled and nearly cried when the Giants won the World Series. I got pissed when the Lakers won the NBA Championship right away and I can name what team Mike Shanahan used to coach. On the flip side, I love wearing and buying makeup. I love dressing up when the occasion strikes. I freak out when I see a spider or other insect and I hate walking into the garage. I don't know how to use a power tool and home improvement isn't a big hobby of mine. Home Depot is like going to hell. But put me in the stands at a basketball game and you will see true joy on my face. I like to believe my husband appreciates my tomboyness and that my ability to sit down and watch "the game" makes him happy on the inside. I'd like to make myself stand out more. I'd like to be more honest about my opinions. I'd like to embrace being different and stand tall while allowing my true self to shine through. Perhaps over time, the confidence to be that person will appear and hopefully it will give me a sense of overwhelming joy and fullfillment. For now, I enjoy the person I am.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reverb10-Day 7

December 7 – Community Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris) I live in a small town of about 16,000 people. Before moving into this town, I lived in a still fairly large suburb of a city of 1.3 million. While I haven't done many things to fully integrate myself into the community of my small town, I enjoy what it has to offer. I like the small town feel. I like the small downtown that consists of 20 stores on one single street. I attended a Wine Stroll downtown in August and I think every adult in the town was in attendance. The townfolk come out for so many community events and it is great to see such support for their city. We walked less than a mile from our house to the May Fair and enjoyed hearing the nightly concerts from our bedroom windown. I would like to connect with several communities in the upcoming year. I'd like to find a social group that I fit into. I'd like to become a part of the "Mommy Club" in 2011. I want to have conversations with my neighbors and attend more community events. Recently, I left a type of online community that I was very connected to. I found myself not enjoying my time there as much. It was a hard choice but I feel better because of it. In 2011, I hope to replace the comfort of that community with the comfort of some other type of group.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reverb10- Day 6

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin) The last thing I made was an apple pie but I already blogged about that. When I think about making something, I think about crafting and while I don't craft a lot (the wedding killed crafting for me), I'll show off the one thing I have made in the past few years:

Backstory: When Diana (my oldest niece) turned 1, I decided that I would start a tradition of giving her money for each birthday. 1st birthday= $1. 2nd birthday=$2 and so on. I made a money box so she could stash her cash.

As Amy's first birthday approached I realized that I needed to keep this equal so I made Amy a money box of her own. A wooden box from Michael's got me started and I added paint, ribbon and some embellishments. Her name had to be on the box so I used letter beads to spell out her whole name. Obviously, she wasn't that excited about it but I love seeing Diana's money box in her room and I know that when Amy gets older, she will recognize that Au Bob made hers with love.

What would I love to make? I would love to MAKE our guest bedroom livable. That would include getting rid of furniture we don't use, painting, buying a bed and new furniture and accessories. Who has time for that?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reverb10-Day 5

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)
After the emotional post on Day 4, I'm going to keep this one on the lighter side!
Soda. I let go of soda. I did this one before in 2002. I didn't drink soda for about a year and a half. I only started again because I met Chris, we started going out to eat a lot and he LOVES soda. You can be peer pressured into drinking soda, ya know.
I'm not a huge soda drinker. I enjoy the taste but I never had 5-6 refills in one sitting. Growing up, I wasn't a diet soda fan either. We didn't have soda in the house a lot but I would go for the full octane stuff.
Somewhere along the line, I started craving diet root beer and diet orange soda. And I couldn't drink one of those without gummy worms or whoppers. I recall blogging about it and my friend Alison told me that there are studies that linked aspartame with a craving for real sugar. BING. It made sense. I had to stop my soda intake.
I have to come clean though. I did have soda on two occasions this year.
1. I had this horrible stomach ache from some type of gas bubble. Chris gave me some Sierra Mist thinking it would help. I had about 2 oz of soda that day.
2. I had a Shirley Temple which has sprite in it.
Thats it. No other soda. There are times when I miss the bubbly taste but I know that if I have one, it just opens a cans of worms (of the gummy variety) and I can't stop myself from ingesting a few a week which just doesn't work for me.
I hope to carry my no soda stance into next year and perhaps the year following that. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

#reverb10-Day 4

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis) Truth? I Googled "wonder" when I saw this prompt. I had to think on this for a bit and then Hawaii popped into my mind. Going to Hawaii to watch the Ironman wasn't just another typical tropical vacation. I wanted to expose my husband to the experiences I grew up with. I've been talking about him seeing the Ironman for many, many years and when I realized we would have a chance to go this year, I jumped on it. Truth be told, this year hasn't been what I wanted it to be. Goals haven't been met and I thought and imagined that our lives would be different by now. Going to Hawaii helped to bring some new energy to our lives. Waking up at 4:00 a.m., picking up a Swedish triathlete, posting ourselves on a wet and dark seawall for hours and spending the day under a hot Hawaiian sun (and still hot Hawaiian moon) was a great adventure. Sure, I'd experienced it 10 times before but never without my parents and never with a BOY! I hope each year we can do something or go somewhere that opens up our eyes to a new experience. Even if it is only a new experience for one of us. There is something exciting about showing your past world to your spouse. I was bursting with pride during the Ironman as we walked around. I thought "my dad did this and I supported him." Cheering on thousands of strangers was my way of paying it forward to them and in a sense, paying forward the experience to my husband.

Friday, December 3, 2010

#reverb10- Day 3

I found out about this project through my friend Kim and I'm finally sitting at a computer long enough to sign up and get started. Prompt #3 is today so I'm going to mark myself absent for Prompt 1 and 2 and start today. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
Would it be considered ironic to say that the day I felt most alive was the day I experienced a great loss? It was January 3. We drove to the hospital for the third time in just a few days knowing that this was probably the last time. My mind wouldn't stop turning over, trying to create a picture in my mind of what was going to come within the next few hours. Trying to prepare myself for the shock, horror and pain. But nothing could prepare me.
We walked into the familiar halls of this hospital. Halls that I wandered at 2 a.m. to find a bathroom. Halls I woke up to just 24 hours prior when we had spent the night in a waiting room. The mood was somber. The air was filled with tension and sadness. The faces on our friends spelled out exactly what was happening. We didn't even have to ask. We moved inside the waiting room and exchanged weak smiles with friends and strangers. But in less than an hour, those strangers would be connected to us for life. We were the people who were at the hospital the day our dear friend, my husband's best friend, passed away. We were the people who sat on the floor passing tissue boxes around, but there wasn't enough tissue to soak up the tears of these broken hearted people. You would think in a hospital they would have softer tissue. My nose was red and raw.
The UFC Crew (as I thought of us in that moment) gathered outside to make calls and get a breath of fresh air. It was a cloudy morning but as we all stood outside, the sun made its way out from the clouds and over the hospital buildings to shine brightly upon us. He was with us and he always would be. I felt alive.
Back inside we watched as our friend's widow, son and daughter staggered into the waiting room. Our hope was lost and our hearts broke. I looked around the room and studied the mournful faces around me but I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I thought if I looked at her long enough, I could somehow take some of her pain away and place it on myself so she wouldn't have to carry the burden alone.
One by one, people slowly left. We didn't want to leave. If we left, it would be for the last time. We lingered. We stalled. We talked. We cried. We put one foot in front of the other and found ourselves in the parking lot. We said goodbye to people who just weeks earlier were strangers and now had become friends.
We drove home in near silence, digesting the reality of what just happened. On that day, in that moment of horrible sadness, every breathe I took reminded me that I was alive. I breathed in and I breathed out without even thinking. I glanced over at my husband. He breathed in and he breathed out. We were alive. Never have I felt more in touch with my existence than that day.
The sadness of January 3 touches me every day. The smallest thought about him or her or the kids can send me into a fit of tears. But I go back to the biggest lesson of that day and remember that it taught me to feel alive. Feel alive in every moment no matter how painful it may be.

Kids are awesome

I encouraged some of the students I work with the write holiday cards to send through the Red Cross' Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
I have to share what a student wrote in two different cards. It had me wiping away tears.

These cards have to arrive by December 10th to be passed along but please consider sending an envelope full of personalized cards to this program. The cards of given to military families and veterans all over the United States and abroad at military bases. It will only take a short amount of time to write a message of gratitude to people who have given so much to our country.

If middle school students can do it, so can you.

WTF Friday: Christmas Ornament Edition

Target has some weird ornaments people.
Swimming Monkey. That is what this ornament is actually called. Its on the label. Kicking Rhino And if you were going to have a kitchen appliance themed tree, here are some ornaments that might delight you....
I love my blender!
(this one looked like it needed some soap and water before using it)
Toasters are the butter on my bread
My kitchen aid mixer kicks ass!
There were $5.00 each and NOT WORTH THAT MUCH MONEY.