Sunday, December 30, 2012

A new start for 2013

Tomorrow is the final day of another year. I just went back to read old posts from 2012 on my blog because I honestly do not remember much of the beginning of this year. That isn't good!

I want to make 2013 a year to remember. I want to wake up on a Saturday morning, hop in the car and drive. In less than 2 hours, I can be in San Francisco (west) or Truckee (east). Beach or snow. I can be in Wine Country going west (Napa) or east (Amador County). And if I really wanted to, I could drive to Ashland, Oregon in 4.5 hours. There are so many things to see, places to go and in 2013, I want to see more.

In 2013, I want to actually complete projects in this house instead of just dreaming about them. Slap some paint and pictures on walls, organize certain spaces, clean up junky areas for good. I started last week when I cleaned out our pantry and today I tackled the closet in the guest bedroom. There is so much more to do but I'm excited about seeing things get done.

In 2013, I want to refocus this blog. Maybe more home improvement stuff. Maybe more Real Life Pinterest creations. I haven't been huge on writing because life is kind of twisted right now but I see myself investing more time taking pictures, travelling and focusing on our house.

2013 will be my 6th year blogging. I have a history of my life during that time right here on this blog. I want to start a new chapter, a new focus and a new outlook. 2013 for me means it is time to restart. Time to get off the couch, break out of "the usual routine" and try something new.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun New Years Eve! Bring out your best in 2013!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Christmas Card 001
"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other."


May your Christmas day be filled with love and laughter, family and friends and good memories.

In our own ways, we are all blessed. Even in the hard times, I look around and know that so many people would love to have what we have. 

A happy, loving family
Kindhearted friends
Employment
A roof over our head
Food in our pantry
Love in our hearts

Count your blessings this Christmas and thank whoever you'd like for providing you with them. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Their Generational Shift

On 9/11, I was 22 years and 1 month old. I was in my 2nd week of my last semester in college. I was 425 miles away from home. I was a kid and my world had just changed. On a daily basis, I recall what life was like when there wasn't a concern about insane people hijacking our planes and slamming them into buildings. I barely remember being able to wait at the airport gate for your loved one and being able to go through airport security with full sized bottles of shampoo while still wearing your shoes.

On Friday, when yet another school shooting took place, I mourned for our school age generation. Yes, this has been going on a while, sadly but there is something so horrifying about the Friday shooting that broke me down to another level. I held it together for the most part on Friday. I stayed away from reading anything about the incident. I knew what happened. I didn't need to know more. I bawled on the way to the work holiday lunch and cried that night before going to the gym when I watched the local Priest interviewed. I knew better. Turn it off, Michelle.

Then on Monday, I walked onto a middle school campus. On a busy week, I visit 10 school campuses. Because this is the last week of school in my area, I'm going to 3. Yesterday I expected to be business as usual at this school. I've grown close to the students I work with at this particular middle school. It is the part of my job that I enjoy the most-building relationships with youth. One girl I have known since she was in 6th grade. She is now an 8th grader. She is about 5'2" and weighs probably 90 pounds on Thanksgiving, after dinner. She is tiny with a firecracker personality and steers towards being a no-nonsense gal.

She was broken down. Empathy isn't a huge trait of most 8th graders. They are very "ME ME ME" at that age but I experienced empathy yesterday from them which made me experience extreme sadness for them. A group of 3 very sweet girls, specifically the firecracker, discussed what they saw on the news and had read online. All 3 have iPhones so the world is at their fingertips 24/7. I debunked some myths (no, those kids didn't write goodbye notes to their parents-they didn't have time for that) and told them that if they were feeling very sad to stop watching the news. That was my mom's advice on the days following 9/11 when I was going deeper and deeper into the media rabbit hole of sad stories.

Then the reality hit. These students started talking about lock downs and where they would hide at their school if someone was on campus with a gun. One would climb on top of a bookshelf. Another would go under the teachers desk. "Why do they tell us to go under our desks? They aren't enclosed." "I wouldn't want to hide in the bathroom by myself." "Why don't teachers have guns? If I was a teacher, I would have a locked up gun in my desk, ready to shoot someone if they came in my class with a gun." "My parents talked to me this weekend about what to do if that happens here."

It took everything I had not to start crying. I promised myself that I would wait until I got in my car. I just listened and reminded them that in an emergency at school, they should always listen to the adults because they have a plan and their best interest at heart. And I thought about what I worried about in middle school. Never these things. Living in California, we had earthquake drills and I think those were scary enough to ponder. Ceilings falling on our heads, the earth splitting in two below our feet. Those were my 8th grade concerns.

Never did I ever worry about someone walking onto my middle school campus and opening fire. Never was it even discussed as a possibility or something to prepare for. But these students are faced with that reality. These teachers are meeting to come up with plans and our society has to be faced with how to calm the fears of kids who are scared to step foot in their schools. Schools. A place of learning and fun for most, anxiety and fear for others. And now, anxiety and fear for most.

On Friday, I think many young people faced their generational shift. They might be too young to know it though. They might be too deep into the "ME ME ME " phase to recognize it but for our country, Friday was a turning point. Changes are going to be made. They must be made to protect us from things like this. I hope this generation of young people remembers Friday and can look back in 11 years and know that our law makers did something to make the world a safer place.

Continued prayers for Newtown.


My friend Heather wrote a great blog post on the media response to this. I agree with all of it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Trees

Our tree: I love Christmas trees. Each night when I plug our tree in, I stand back and admire the glow of the lights, the twinkle of the ornaments and the overall happy feeling it brings to our house. I was in the backyard last night and I stood there for a while, staring into the house at the tree. Can I please keep it up all year long? I love driving by houses and seeing the trees standing proudly in front of windows. And because we have an artificial tree, I took a good whiff of the real tree at my sister's house the other night. It smelled like Christmas.



My dad's tree: While he was in rehab, healing from his stroke, we talked to my dad about getting him a Christmas tree since we had planned to have our Christmas Eve celebration at his house. "I don't like fake trees" he said. Obviously, getting a real tree wasn't going to work this year but he didn't want to hear it. The day after mentioning it, I received an email from my dad saying he saw an ad for Big Lots. They had artificial trees for a good price. Whew. What a relief. He was on board. But of course, the ONE decent looking tree at Big Lots was out of stock. I finally went to Lowe's on my lunch break one day, hoping to find an affordable tree and lucked out. We set the tree up and it waited for his arrival. This is the picture we sent to him, with his first born granddaughter posing in front of the tree.

Kaiser's tree: I walked through the front doors of Kaiser over a dozen times from November 16-December 9 yet I don't remember when their Christmas tree was put up. But I loved seeing it standing tall each morning, afternoon or evening during my visits with my dad. A piano was often playing holiday music and people were sitting in the chairs near the tree. It lifted my often broken spirit as I came to and from the hospital and it reminded me of the holiday spirit and helped to heal my sometimes broken heart. 
 

Broadway Plaza (Walnut Creek) tree: I had to make a trip to Sephora to return some makeup and use my 25% off coupon one Sunday morning. Broadway Plaza is always busy but especially during Christmas. I arrived at 9:50 and still had to park on the 3rd floor of the parking structure. As I passed by this tree, I stopped and admired it. It was tall and glorious. This is the Instagram version. I'm sure I looked silly, taking a picture of a Christmas tree, but I couldn't help it. It was begging to be photographed.

I must confess that I would love to get a second, smaller tree to put in our loft and decorate in a totally unique way next year. Our main tree is filled with fun, silly ornaments. No ribbons, No bows, no decorative elements. But that is the way we like it. It is personal and every ornament has a story. As we place each one on a branch, we recall the memory behind it. It is one of my favorite things to do all year long. But I do love the look of a cohesively decorated tree with one central theme, like the Broadway Plaza tree. Perhaps there is another artificial tree purchase in my future....


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Things on 12/12/12

People are posting all sorts of "YAY IT IS 12/12/12" on Twitter. I get that it is a rare day but am I missing something super exciting about it? There I go, sounding like a Debbie Downer. Let me try again.

OMG It is 12/12/12. What an awesome magical day! Here are 12 things on my mind today....

1. My dad is released from his rehabilitation center tomorrow.  The worries and fears and anxiety about his arrival back at home are weighing heavy on my mind but I know he has a strong support unit around him and if we remain positive, we know he will adjust to this new normal. Please pray for us!

2. I had a great coffee lunch break with my friend (and co-worker) yesterday. We were in the same area at the same time and spent an hour chatting over Starbucks. I am so lucky to have a friend like her. We are totally meant to be.

3. Speaking of that friend, her annual Cookie Party is on Sunday. Because of all the turmoil in my life, I haven't had time to come up with a super unique and awesome cookie to make. She gives away awards and my super competitive self can't handle not winning. Last year, someone made the same cookie as me. Embarrassing! It was like showing up to the Oscars and wearing the same dress as someone else. The cookie I am making is simple but most importantly, one batch makes about 30 cookies and since I need 60 cookies, it will be an easy baking experience. I have 2.5 hours to make them on Saturday so easy is required!

4. A student of mine (10th grader) asked me yesterday if I thought Nicki Minaj's butt is real. Teenagers are so random.

5. I babysat my nieces for 45 minutes last night while my sister and her husband were out on work business. When I got to the house, 3.5 year old Amy was in bed, singing "Apple donuts, apple donuts." She is my kind of girl.

6. Does anyone know when Silver Linings Playbook opens in wide release? I can't find it playing anywhere near me and it is making me angry.

7. In two weeks, Christmas will be over. This month is moving way too fast! Time to start shopping and wrapping!

8. I'm wearing a black blazer with my jeans and black boots today. I feel like Julia Roberts in the last scene of Pretty Woman when she is wearing a black blazer with jeans.

9. Mark my words: next year, we WILL have Christmas lights hanging from the eves of our house. This year, we are settling for lights in the windows and our large rosemary bush covered in net lights. Festive, yes. Griswold, no.

10. I have an eye doctor appointment on Monday and I think I might be eligible to get a new set of frames. This makes me too excited!

11. I love getting Christmas cards and seeing pictures of friends and family. I need to look at Pinterest for some fun ideas on how to display the Christmas cards after the holidays are over.

12. I have 5 more days of work until I have 13 days off. Now THAT is a Christmas miracle!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2012

TGIM: Thank Goodness It's Monday!

While in my counseling appointment last week, we were discussing how our thoughts guide our attitude and that positive thinking goes a long way to making up happier, healthier human beings. My therapist posed a question that I've had on my mind all weekend.

What if we viewed Monday's like we view Friday's? Sure, Monday morning is often times painful and difficult. Even if we enjoy our jobs or had to endure a busy weekend with not a lot of downtime, waking up and going on our way on a Monday is seen as a chore, a disturbance to our leisure time. Not even Garfield the Cat enjoyed Mondays. And he is cat!

As I woke up this morning at 5:15, I tried to be positive. It is another day. I get to interact with some great students today. I get to see my coworkers that I really like. I get to listen to the AM talk radio show that makes me laugh and smile.

The weekends are great although these days, I find myself busier than ever on Saturdays and Sundays and that schedule doesn't seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. So really, Monday-Friday gives me a chance to escape those weekend chores and focus on work. I am lucky that I enjoy what I do 40 hours a week.

I urge you to find a few good things about Mondays. There has to be something! Imagine if we shifted the "Mondays Suck" perception into "Mondays are GREAT." Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But I do believe that positive thinking equals positive health and happiness. And I think we can all use some of that this time of year!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas in the Past

When did things change? I believe it was after I was out of school. I remember hearing rumblings about restrictions and new rules and guidelines and it made me feel sad. Just like that traditions and celebrations were wiped out of schools.

Yes, I'm talking about Christmas parties. And not just Christmas. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Easter.

In Kindergarten, I had to leave school early the day we were going to have a candy hunt on the playground. The teachers hid those small solid chocolate eggs on the slide, in the tire swing, on the wooden frame of the playground and the kid would run around and find as many as possible. Because I had to leave early, my teacher allowed me to go out to the playground and pick up a few pieces of chocolate. That was in 1985.

On Halloween, there was a Halloween Festival. Not Harvest Festival. It was Halloween. There was a cake walk, bobbing for apples, face painting, etc in the school gym. Everyone dressed up in costume. I think my dad won the cake walk one year.

In 3rd grade, I remember taking part in the Christmas Show at my school. Each class was assigned a song and performed on stage in front of parents and students. My class got "Holly Jolly Christmas." There is a line in that song about kissing. Gross. I had never even heard of that song and to this day, I am still bitter that my class got stuck with a random Christmas song while others were assigned more traditional, popular songs.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas Break, the music teach, Mr. Haney, would roll his piano down to each classroom during music class. He would pass out a song book full of Christmas songs (Rudolph, Up on the Roof top, 12 Days of Christmas, etc) and while he played piano, we would sing the songs. Were there students who didn't participate? Yes. They were allowed to go to another class during that time or even go out to the playground. But the large majority of students stayed inside and sang Christmas songs. Did those kids feel left out? I don't know. Most 11 year old kids aren't that aware of how other kids were feeling. This is just how it was and it was fun for 99% of the kids in the school.

Just this last week in one of my meetings with students I work with, the topic of a Secret Santa gift exchange came up. Because I have been told to eliminate Christmas type celebrations, I had to let the student know we couldn't do that. I spun it towards the financial end, saying that I didn't want students to worry about shopping and if someone forgot to bring a gift for their person, that person would be without.

And it struck me. We have been trained for so many years to avoid talk of Christmas in a professional or school setting, when it does become a conversation, it is totally normally to shoot down ideas of fun, bonding and giving. When did the tide turn? When did the excluded group take over and why?

Guess what? We aren't all welcome to do everything offered in this big world. Some people take really nice vacations multiple times a year. Just because I can't doesn't mean that vacations should be banned. The idea of everyone being offended has been taken to a whole new level.

Just because you are offended, doesn't mean you are right. I miss Christmas celebrations. I miss not walking on eggshells when talking about Christmas. I'm okay with you not saying "Merry Christmas" if you don't celebrate Christmas and I hope you are okay with me saying it with joy and happiness.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Diet Coke is Evil

Sunday night, we gathered for a belated birthday party for my sister-in-law. My side of the family had just spent 3 hours prepping my dad's house for his homecoming next week and I was worn out. I decided to have a Diet Coke with my slices of pizza even though I don't really like Diet Coke and try to avoid diet sodas in general. I'd rather have a regular soda once in a while than a diet soda daily. Real sugar beats processed sugar.

Diet sodas tend to leave me feeling a little shaky but I didn't have any side effects Sunday night. So I grabbed another soda for the road but waited until Monday at lunch time to drink it. I even watered it down by pouring it over ice. This was at about 1:30.

As I left work for the day and made my way to visit my dad, I started to get very agitated. On edge. Anxious. I started listening to a funny podcast to distract me but that didn't work. I had a long drive ahead of me but no traffic that made me angry. I decided it was that Diet Coke, the second in 20 hours, that left me with those horrible feelings. I stopped to get some water and drank as much as I could, hoping it would "wash" out the soda and calm me down but it didn't work. It took another couple of hours for the feelings to completely go away. In fact, as I was driving through a hilly, windy residential section last night, I felt nearly intoxicated. It was scary!

I know soda is bad and I know diet soda is even worse. Sure, no calories sounds good but the artificial sweeteners are REALLY BAD. Anything that gives you anxiety like I had should not be ingested. I wonder if people who drink a lot of diet soda just become immune to these side effects?

I just googled "diet soda and anxiety" and found this article on Livestrong.com. I can say with honesty that when I drink a Diet Pepsi, I don't experience the same effects. But I think I have learned my lesson and will stick with water from now on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We

Life is still a crazy jumble of emotions. As I was experiencing a breakdown last night, I called my husband on the phone to talk things out. I walked into the parking garage of the hospital in tears and sat in my car trying to compose myself for the 40 minute drive home.

I talked to him about where things are currently standing with my dad and some of the decisions that we are all making together. I was stressed, worried and concerned. But in that moment of panic, my husband said the magic word.

"We."

I didn't feel so alone in that moment. He was on my side, supporting me and understanding my point of view. To be a part of a "we" with him is the greatest thing to ever happen to me.

Christmas number 9 as a couple! So grateful to have him as my sidekick in this crazy life.
Decorating our tree tonight. Christmas makes my house happier. Much needed!

Let me tell you about this man I married. On Sunday while we visited my dad, my husband showed just what kind of guy he is. My dad was getting ready to eat lunch. His tray had several items on it: glasses, phone, papers, napkins, etc. One of those "etc" items was his urinal bottle. And it was not empty. For some reason (frequency of visits, I guess), I failed to notice it sitting there. When I did see it, I told my dad that I was sure he didn't want to eat lunch with THAT sitting there and he said I should call a nurse to empty it or I could just do it myself. "No thanks" was my response (obviously).

That is when my husband said "I'll do it" and I shot him the craziest look. "What? It's not a big deal." He got up, walked over, grabbed the bottle and went into the bathroom to take care of the problem.

My husband dumped out my dad's urine.

This new reality is not easy. Life is different in every way. But my husband is doing everything he can to be the support that I need at home and for that, I want to yell from the rooftop (or from this blog) that I love him so very, very, very much. He is my angel. He is my peace. He is my happiness. He is my "we."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our "First" Thanksgiving

The thought that keeps running through my head is "never say never, Michelle." It wasn't too long ago that I said, "I never want to host Thanksgiving. Too much pressure. Too much work. No thanks."


This is my dining room table. Those sparkly pretty place mats were only $2 each at Walmart. The cloth napkins were wedding gifts. This will be the first time using them. And the first time eating at this table. We aren't formal folks. 

And that. That is a turkey in my fridge. And a veggie tray.

We are hosting Thanksgiving. Don't tell anyone but I'm actually looking forward to it. Shhhhh. It's a secret. Chris is in charge of the turkey (he is using a smoker to smoke it. Scary). I'm making mashed potatoes and candied yams. I've never made candied yams in my life. We'll have appetizers and wine will be flowing early on in the day while I cook and clean. 

It is the combining of 4 families. 11 people total. Me and Chris. Chris' brother and fiancee. Chris' parents and sister. My sister, husband and nieces. My mom is heading to San Jose to my Aunt's house (where we go every other year). We will visit my dad at his rehab center after we eat. I'm struggling with that A LOT but I know it will be okay. My mom is seeing him on her way to SJ so he will have some company in the morning. 

Life is tough right now. It could be tougher though. On this Thanksgiving Eve, I want to give some recognition to all that I am personally thankful for:

-I'm thankful to my husband for being a constant source of support for me and my family.
-I'm thankful to my sister and mom for stepping up and making things happen. They are amazing.
-I'm thankful that my dad is okay. He isn't 100% like we wish he was. He has a lot of work to do but I'm thankful for his humor, his heart and his kindness as we all experience this challenge together.
-I'm thankful for my in-laws as they have been so caring and supportive as well. As always.
-I'm thankful for extended family and friends who have showered us with love and assistance. 
-I'm thankful for my cousin Christina who picked up the tab for lunch on Monday AND stayed with me after I got a flat tire (and a parking ticket) while we were at lunch.
-I'm thankful for my house and the space it provides to host family on this day.
-I'm thankful for my cat for being our (very early) alarm clock, our snuggle partner and a source of fun and laughter. 
-I'm thankful for my health insurance and the ability to see a therapist to help with my worries and anxieties.
-I'm thankful for my gym membership for giving me a place to go that makes me feel better about myself. Even when I can see my stomach rolls in the mirror when I'm working on my squats!

I could easily be angry during this time but I have nothing to be angry about. We are strong and we are working together to be positive and proactive. I refuse to be angry. People are suffering a lot more than we are. We are blessed. 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. Be kind to one another. Appreciate what you have. And if you are planning on shopping Black Friday sales, please, I beg of you, don't leave family gatherings to hit up the stores on Thanksgiving night. No tv/computer/whatever is worth leaving family. It just isn't. 




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Same Dad

I visited my dad last night in the hospital. We are hoping he is just days away from entering the rehabilitation center so he can start therapies to get him home. While he isn't the same physically, his mental state is to be admired.

When I arrived last night, he was in a wheelchair. I was told that he sat up for lunch as well and ate dinner in the chair too. It was so great seeing him sitting upright. His speech was sounding better and his voice sounded like him again. It was a good visit. I laughed more with him than I had all day. Sure, I cried all the way home but that is par for the course these days.

He was wanting to get back into bed to rest but because he is 6'3" and nearly 250 pounds, not just anyone can help make that transition. The nurse was on the hunt for 2 men to assist her. We waited and waited. We were facing the door of his room and we saw a man walk by. He wasn't an employee of the hospital. He was probably visiting a person in the wing. But as soon as he walked by, my dad said "there's a man. He can help." I said the same thing, at the same time and laughed. I told my dad how we are cut from the same cloth and he said "yes we are."

It is painful seeing my dad unable to be independent (for the time being). It is painful seeing the loss of spark in his eyes, to hear his speech slurred and to see him struggle with simple tasks. But when he speaks and cracks jokes or, like last night, give us a lesson on proper grammar, I see my dad. My dad is in there. We believe in his ability to beat this, to fight through the barriers this stroke has created and to be back to us soon. Hopefully, really soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome to Adulthood, Population: Me

Saturday morning, my dad had a stroke. I've been in a fog for about 48 hours. I'm not sure when I'll break through.

I'm the emotional one in the family. Nearly everything sends me into tears so you can only imagine what the last two days have been like. I held it together well yesterday while at the hospital with him but as soon as I got in the car and walked into my house, the tears wouldn't stop.

We are in the early stages. Unsure about what our future is like. So much has changed in just 2 days. But my family is strong and determined. My dad is strong. I believe that he will work hard to get better. It could have been worse.

I've never felt more like an adult than I do now. Life before Saturday at 10:00 seems so trivial. The outpouring of love from friends and family has helped keep me strong. Prayers are being sent up above constantly and I am so appreciative of the people I have in my life.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

5 Things Thursday

Is 5 Things Thursday a thing that happens on blogs? Maybe Tuesday is the normal day for it. I'm a rule breaker.

1. I've downgraded myself to a 10K for my upcoming race. The half marathon just wasn't going to happen. During my training runs, I would get to 6 miles and start to experience issues. Not leg issues or hip issues. Other issues. I decided that being stuck out in the middle of nowhere during a 13 mile race just wasn't a good idea. 6.3 miles is feasible. I was stressing over the half marathon distance and when I decided to change distances, I felt so much better.

2. Remember when I said I downsized to a smaller purse? That didn't last long. I had to switch back to my large purse earlier this week. My problem with the small purse was I would put my keys and sunglasses on top, over my wallet. So when I needed to get my wallet out, I would have to remove the keys and the sunglasses and it all just became a huge pain. My new rule with my large purse is to keep things simple and each night, remove trash/papers/junk/unnecessary items. Purses, why do you even exist?

3. Speaking of downsizing, I've downsized my social media footprint. I know. Shocking. A while back, I wrote an entire post about how I love social media. I would have predicted that my exit from Facebook would have happened prior to the election but it occurred the next day. After a status which I still contend wasn't harsh, cruel or mean, I was "confronted" by someone who didn't agree with a statement I made. Now, I don't agree with a lot of statements people make on Facebook but in order to keep things fun and civil, I don't comment. What is the point? Facebook arguing is silly and immature, in my opinion. I don't have that kind of Facebook presence....ever. But this person insisted on picking and picking at every thing I said until I finally had to plea for her to stop. I begged. I understand-it is the internet. You get back what you put out but again, I'm not that kind of person. I would NEVER go on and on to someone just because their opinion doesn't match mine. What kind of world is this? Along with a few other reasons, I deactivated my account Wednesday morning. Did it feel strange? Yes. Do I wonder what is going on? Yes. I explained to my husband that I miss the time when my head was void of the thoughts and goings-on of others. The time when I knew what I was doing and no one else. Basically, I miss not being all up in everyone's business. And everyone not being up in the mine (or as much as I want to put out there). The still feel the pull to check in but I haven't. And I won't. I deleted the app from both my phone and my ipad. I know posts are being created and pictures are being uploaded but it will have to remain a mystery to me. Sometimes I wonder what people in other countries are doing right this second. Facebook will have to a foreign country to me from now on. A place I know exists but that I can't visit. My head feels clearer already.

4. I'm wearing a black blazer to work today with my black skinny jeans and boots. I feel so fancy.

5. We are taking a trip to Apple Hill this weekend and I'm beyond excited. I told Chris that I want to stop by a winery, grab a bottle of Merlot and drink the bottle this weekend. Yes, yes I will. I also ordered Wayne's World so I plan on sitting on the couch, with wine and possibly cookies and watching Wayne and Garth on Saturday night.

Perfecto!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rules for Election Day: Social Media Edition

Election Day in America is always a bit crazy. With the 24 hours new cycle, no story, no angle is off limits. But with social media use at an all time high, the gloves come off and people will type anything that comes to mind without putting much thought into it. Here is a guide to how to survive election day online.

1. No, you aren't going to move. Don't even think about typing it.
     Oh, what's that? You are going to move to Canada/Mexico/Amsterdam/Italy/Australia/China if ________ wins? No. No you aren't. You aren't going to move for several reasons. One reason being that it is completely absurd to move your life elsewhere just because your candidate didn't win. Stop saying you are going to move. You aren't. Alec Baldwin didn't and neither will you. And a special shout-out to my Conservative friends: This really applies to you because you aren't going to find a country with more right-leaning values. It ain't gonna happen. Canada should be the LAST place you threaten to move. Do some research and then move to Utah. You should be safe there.

2. Don't be ignorant
    I know this is a lot to ask for some people. They are going to spout off their thoughts, unfiltered, wherever they can. But please, don't be ignorant. Don't actually type that people didn't vote for Obama because he is black. And don't type that people who vote for Romney are stupid rednecks. Just don't do it. Be intelligent in your online vocabulary. I will respect you more if you argue FOR your candidate rather than against the other guy. It is easy to take shots at someone you don't agree with. Stand up for what you DO believe in. If you want to read examples of what not to type, go to Twitter, type in #whyImnotvotingforRomney or #whyImnotvotingforObama. Read some of those tweets and then DO NOT type those things.

3. Not everyone thinks like you and that is okay.
    Personally, I wouldn't want to live in a world where everyone has the exactly same political leanings. SCARY. If you state your case intelligently, I have no problems thinking "well, I don't agree but guess what, that is okay." Do I want people judging me based on my political thoughts? Hell no. So I won't judge you based on yours.  But if you are ignorant, you are hidden/unfollowed. Simple as that.

4. Don't be a sore loser/sore winner
    Neener Neener Neener, my guy won! The world is a better place! I made it happen! Go me!
    Well, the end of the world is near. That guy won. The world is a crappier place. How do YOU feel about knowing you made the world a crappier place?
     That isn't cute.

5.  Don't punish yourself
  During the conventions and debates, I channel surfed to see what the talking heads were saying and I ended up wanting to smash things in my house, including my head. Election night isn't the time to explore and get curious about what people are saying. Stick with the channel that you agree with and enjoy. Don't punish yourself and risk a concussion by channel surfing. You don't want to spend election night in the ER. Or maybe you do....

6. Just stay away. 
   If you are afraid of having a Hulk moment, just stay away from social media all together. Don't even watch the news. Or watch it on mute. The news will have percentages and graphics eye assaulting you all night so its not like you actually need to hear them speak. Turn on some of your favorite music or read a book. Every so often glance at the tv to see if anything has changed. Turn off your phone and put it in a drawer.

7. No one cheated.
 When my middle school students are playing a competitive game and one team loses, they often call the other team cheaters. Without hesitation, I explain to them how childish and immature it is to call a person a cheater just because you lost. So don't use that word tomorrow. The likelihood of either side cheating to win in slim to none. Calling people cheaters is one of the lowest forms of immaturity. And guess what? People are ALREADY doing it. It makes my skin crawl.

8. When in doubt, just remember....

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ode to Tootsie Rolls

The Tootsie Roll. My life wouldn't the same without thee.
You are soft and chewy. You are shaped unpleasantly.
Your color is not pleasing to the eye but I look past that.
Your odd taste is delicious.

I like you rolled up in paper,
I like you tucked inside of a pop.
I like you tiny,
I like you long and skinny,
I like you any which way you are.

Your flavors vary. Traditional is my favorite.
Some people don't like you.
Those people are no friends of mine.

If you are near, I find comfort in your presence.
But it is a mixed feeling, for if I consume too much of you,
I feel sick. And guilty.

Oh Tootsie Roll.
Until we meet again.
Stay brown.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Michelle on scary movies

I don't like being scared. I'm far too emotional to not react with tears if someone jumps out at me or sneaks up on me from behind. I'll scream and then I might cry. And then I'll hit you and verbally abuse you for a while. You had it coming, trust me.

Because of this, I don't like seeing scary movies. Creepy movies also fit into that category. I don't really like being on the edge of my seat knowing that I am going to jump 5 feet in the air when a person explodes out of the closet. It ain't my bag, baby. Or, even worse, being on the edge of my seat only to have that moment pass, I sit back and relax and then BOOM! Scary moment. Tears. I'm done.

But I know some people LIVE AND LOVE scary movies. Some people say that certain movies that I consider scary (The Grudge, Blair Witch Project) they consider hilarious and dumb. I thought Blair Witch Project was real, okay? And to this day, I can not watch it. Not even knowing it was fake. To me, that shiz was scary. The sound of the branches breaking at night? NO. The teeth tied up in the clothes? NO. The final scene with the dude in the corner and the girl just drops the camera? HELL NO. No NO NO. One time, I thought I could watch it again. It was daylight, there were commercials throughout the movie since it was on tv. I can do this, I thought. Its fake. Its totally dumb. How stupid, what a stupid movie....

I'm sure I turned it off and went to Target or something to get my mind off of it about 5 minutes in. Can't do it.

Chris and I sat in the theater watching The Grudge with 150 teenagers. We held a jacket halfway over our faces the entire time. I kept telling him that I hate scary movies and I don't know what I was doing there and that I wanted to leave.

I saw The Others in the theater too. That falls into the creepy category but there were only a few scenes that were flat out jump worthy. It was a really well done movie so I wouldn't mind watching that again. But it would need to be daylight and I couldn't be home alone.

Finally, let me sell out my husband and tell you about when he went to see Paranormal Activity. I put my foot down with this one. I know my limits and that movie is beyond my limits. He went with his brother to the late showing. I was asleep when he got home that night. He didn't come to bed for a while and in the morning, he told me that he had to stay up playing video games to take his mind off of it. Then, he finally went to bed and just sat there, with his eyes open, hearing and seeing things all night, freaked out. This is why I don't see scary movies, I told him. That sounds like a complete nightmare. He explained the movie to me and told me about how the lady in it just stands over her husband at night. I got chills just thinking about it. Of course, I demonstrated to him what that would look like by walking over to his side of the bed and standing there. He threatened divorce if I ever did that again.

The moral of this story is don't ever expect me to go to a scary movie. Ever. I don't care if it is the best movie ever made in the history of movies. I won't see it. Not a chance.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Winning Weekend

I'll let the pictures do the talking in this post but this weekend was GOLDEN. On Saturday, I had a work training. Olympian Dee Dee Trotter spoke to our students about the importance of team work and achieving your personal goals. And people.....I got to HOLD A GOLD MEDAL. I'm sure you all know how much I love the Olympics. I nearly cry when they are over and my life is dedicated to them for weeks. If I even think about the USA Gymnastics team winning the team gold this past summer, I get emotional. To meet an Olympic gold medalist and get to see a gold (and bronze!) medal in person is like a dream come true since my dreams of being an Olympian are over. :)





As if that wasn't enough, the Giants swept the Tigers in the World Series last night. On my feet for the bottom of the 10th inning, clenching my hands together, shooing Kitty out of the way so I wouldn't step on her, my sweaty brow and palms required me to turn on the ceiling fan. I was stressed folks. I've watched my fair share of baseball games this month (too many, perhaps) and it felt AMAZING to let that tension and stress leave my body last night and feel relief!

 Two World Series titles in 3 years?! So proud to be a Giants fan!

AND....the election is almost over. THANK GOODNESS. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sensitive Sally

Did you guys know that I have only 7% hearing in my left ear? I do. I have nerve damage that has caused my left ear to be permanently out of commission. At times, I wish I could hang a "OUT OF ORDER" sign on my ear. Perhaps a tiny tattoo!

This condition has caused me to be extra careful when I feel my right ear getting sick. Yesterday, my ear was hurting. I didn't feel under the weather but I made a doctor appointment anyways because I don't want to risk going deaf. I used to get bad ear infections as a kid so as an adult, I try to keep on top of my ear health. The doctor visit revealed nothing was wrong. My ears looked fine, as did my throat, and the doctor said that it could just be allergies or the start of a cold. BLAH. I realized that this EXACT same week last year I was sick. Isn't that weird?!?

I woke up this morning feeling fine. I got to work, met with my boss and went back to my desk. Then my nose started to tingle. My eyes started to itch. Both of my ears starting to plug up a bit. Allergies. I felt them attacking my senses. But I'm indoors. What could be causing this? I started sniffing around, walking laps around my department and I realized it smelled like flowers. Like fresh cut roses. But I saw no roses. I asked a co-worker if she noticed it and she said that someone gave her fresh tomatoes and basil. She took it out of the bag, I got within 2 feet of a basil leaf....

Yeah, that was it. Soon, I could smell basil all around. I continued to walk around and spoke to another co-worker. She informed me that someone was handing out bags of tomatoes and basil. Wonderful. At this point, my head feels foggy and is starting to hurt. My eyes are itchy and watery. And those ears, they are plugged.

Apparently, I am allergic to fresh basil. I also can't have fresh flowers in my house because they make my allergies go nuts. Sensitive (half deaf) Sally, reporting for duty.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Game 7

What a great weekend. Giants win Friday night sending the NLCS back to San Francisco.

They won tonight. Game 7 is Monday. One win from the World Series. One win from another week and a half of sports induced stress, joy, relief and frustration. But you gotta love it. I know I do. I live for it.

Consider my occupied from 5-8:30 pm on Monday. Focused. Positive. And hopefully watching the Giants return to the World Series for the second time in 3 seasons.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Minimize

 I went to Forever 21 Friday after work to browse the racks. I picked up a shirt, flats, a jean jacket and a blazer/blouse type shirt. I always stroll through the accessory section to see if any necklace strikes my fancy. No such luck this time but I did come across a cross body purse that caught my eye. I've been wanting to get a cross body bag for a while now. I'm tired of holding/balancing my larger purse on my shoulder. Often for work, I'm juggling many bags, binders, etc and my large purse containing a wasteful amount of crap just wasn't working for me anymore. This purse is small. It barely fits my large wallet but it has forced me to downsize. I took it with me to the Giants game on Sunday night (hence the orange and black feathers I attached in the first picture) and it was great. I dared to bring it to work today to give it a real life test drive. So far, so good.



Wallet, keys, lip gloss and two iphones (personal and work) are all that fit inside. All other stuff will need to be left at home or go into my work tote. 

Go Giants!!!


If I need more storage, I'll switch back to my bigger purse but I love the simple, small space that this purse gives me. It forces me to edit my life which is something I really need! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alive and Well

I've been running. It hasn't been easy but I'm doing it!

I've been working. The youth I work with keep me on my toes but provide laughter and smiles daily.

I've been cheering on my SF Giants. Today was a big day. I ended my day early and was going to head home at 1:30. Instead, I drove to Chili's and watched the 9th inning of the game. I clapped and yelped and finally took a breath. It was amazing.

It's windy, overcast and cold right now. I need to cuddle with Kitty under a blanket. It will reach the upper 80's next week (booo) but the leaves are changing and I am happy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Waiting Room

I know this was a good decision. I put it off for a long, long time. I anticipated feeling conflicted about the actual appointment but now that I'm here, in the waiting room, I feel really nervous. What if my problems aren't big enough for this? What if I complete fall apart? I tend to want to be very pulled together despite the fact that I'm an emotional mess depending on the topic.

So I sit in the waiting room. I'm here with three youth under age 12. That puts things in perspective. I listen to my favorite Mumford and Sons song in my earphones. I try to mentally prepare myself for the conversation that will take place. I get my story together, gather my thoughts and wait.

I'm forever early. It drives me nuts. I guess I'll add that to the list of things to talk about. That and why the Giants sucked so bad this weekend in the playoffs.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall and Partnerships

Do you remember July? I do. Life wasn't so rushed back then. I wasn't committed to running a certain amount of miles each night and work wasn't weighing heavy on my mind like it is now.

The last two days around these parts of California have been hot. 100 degrees hot. Something just didn't feel right and that something was the sweat dripping from my brow (among other places) as I carried boxes and binders and bags across school campuses. I'm back with the youth and while I love the interaction I get in my job, by the time I get home, I'm exhausted.

So last night, as my husband celebrated his team winning the AL West and praising me on Facebook for setting the DVR to record (via my phone) so he could catch the post-game celebration, I strolled from my car to the front door and caught a cool breeze in the air. Fall....are you there Fall? I requested that after he got done watching the celebration, that he come to the grocery store with me because we were seriously lacking food. He agreed. Usually, it is a solo job on my part but yesterday, I couldn't handle it. I was sure I would break down in the produce section and cover myself with leaves of lettuce and use a watermelon as a pillow.

I gained control of the cart (I must have control of the cart) and we made our way through the store. I admitted to him in the parking lot that I had really asked him to go with me because the past two nights, I went to bed as he stayed up to watch baseball.....and I missed him. We shopped in peace. The grocery store was nearly empty. When we walked out of the store, I celebrated my own victory of a 26% savings at the cash register. I live for savings. He grabbed the bags and I returned the cart. We unloaded the groceries in our special way: He throws them at me and I try to keep up. He even tossed a half gallon of milk a good 5 feet. It was scary. I guess we have that much trust between us. He knows I can catch. Smiley face.

I heated up a microwave dinner and he opened his bag of hot wings that he got at the deli. We turned on the tv to catch the closing statements of the first debate. I exchanged numerous text messages with friends, snarking with the best of them. Chris went upstairs to play a solid round of video games. I turned off the a/c and opened the windows. The 97 degree heat from the day gave way to a cool evening. Bliss.

More texts. An online quiz taken by my husband to see which candidate he aligned with (we aligned with the same guy). I crawled into bed, reading tweets, rolling my eyes at the ignorance in the world. I searched Wikipedia for my own answers and tried to cool some of the fire that burned inside me. I'm trying not to allow silly things like politics raise my blood pressure. Life is so much more than a checked box. Life is cheering on your baseball team and supporting your husband's team as well. It is laughter in the cereal aisle. It is catching a half gallon of milk that has been tossed your way. It is waking up to your cat staring at you and then scratching every surface of carpet in the bedroom to let you know she is hungry.

Fall seems to be on its way. And the partnership I share with my husband feels as comfortable and tight as ever. A simple trip to the grocery store provides a reminder of the greater things in life.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I'm being watched

I got into my car this morning and realized that I needed to get gas. Oh yeah, there was a reason my alarm was set for 5:00 a.m. Totally forgot about that while I spent my extra time this morning curling my hair. I hoped that I wouldn't hit traffic and be late for work.

I usually go to the Safeway gas station because it is cheaper but it is a bit out of my way so I decided to drive down the main road towards the freeway in my town and hit up the Shell Station.

Two other people were getting gas in the darkness of the morning. I'm wearing a dress and hoping that my cardigan is in the trunk because it is chilly outside although it's predicted to be 100 degrees later in the day. A nice way to bring in October, right?

I swipe my card and punch the buttons, twist off my gas cap and begin to pump. This pump is moving quite slow and I consider only getting half a tank but decide against it. Before I'm able to pump 5 gallons, I notice the gas station employee leaning back inside of the shop looking at something. Me? Maybe. I wasn't sure. There was no one behind me, no cars, no traffic on the road. I ignore it and stare at the digital read willing it to go faster. I'm cold.

Gas Station Dude then makes his way to the door of the shop, opens it and proceeds to lean against the door, looking in my direction. There is nothing in between us. Just about 30 feet of concrete. My car is on the same side as the shop. I casually look behind me to see if there is something he is keeping on eye on beyond my car. No. Just darkness and silence. It is only 6:25 a.m.

The gas continues to pump slowly until I finally reach a full tank. I replace the nozzle, twist on the gas cap and get into my car. I'm on high alert, waiting for this man to approach me as his eyes remain fixed on me. I reset the odometer, put my car in drive, look over my right shoulder to check for cars and I drive away. I pass the man, who is still standing there, door propped open with his leaning body. When I get past him, I look in my rear view mirror and see his head turn to follow my car. It isn't until I get back on the road that he goes back inside the shop.

I feel angry. Is this a case of mistaken identity. Did someone in my car once rob the store? Would a blonde in a dress on a Monday morning in the dark and cold try something sketchy while attempting to get gas? Did I deserve to be watched while other people before me pumped gas without the prying eyes of an employee? I won't be visiting this gas station again. But I am tempted to go back and speak to someone that works there and suggest that leering at customers isn't a great business practice.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Changing when nothing changes

I had a job interview last Wednesday. I was nervous. Sick to my stomach nervous. That feeling started on Sunday and stayed with me until a few hours post-interview. Amazing how just talking about yourself can bring up such feelings of doubt!

I've been in my current job for nearly 7 years. It is hard to believe it has been that long and in that time, I have grown into a skilled person who on most days leaves work with a smile on my face. I work with youth and I've realized over the years that working with young people is where I feel most comfortable. I excel at building relationships with young people and love the interaction I get on a daily basis.

The job I applied for was similar to the one I have now but in a different area, closer to home. It had other benefits as well but alas, it wasn't meant to be. I figured that I didn't get the job when I heard nothing from them on Friday and Tuesday, I received the official "not selected for hire" email.

But a funny thing happened between Wednesday and Monday. I had a great meeting on Thursday with a new adult advisor to our program. I saw students that I worked with last year that ran to me and gave me a big hug. On Friday, I spent some time with a favorite student and felt re-energized. And while I waited for my phone to ring for a second interview, I felt conflicted. I wasn't sure I was ready to close the door and open a new one if it meant saying goodbye to these amazing students I am so lucky to work with.

For now, nothing changes. But I am okay with that. I put myself out there, gained some confidence and practice interviewing. The good that came out of this experience is feeling a renewed dedication to my current job and getting a cute new dress, blazer and black heels.

Priorities!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blog to do list

Upcoming Posts:

-Friendships

-Running shoes: You get what you pay for

-Is it November 7th yet?

-Update on my Changes post

-October Photo Challenge

-How many hampers is too many hampers?

-The long awaited phone call


I hope everyone has a great weekend! I have to work tomorrow (boo) but it is always a fun day (yay) and then I have to go home and run 5 miles (boo and ouch).


I'll leave you with this super adorable picture of my cat. Photo credit: Chris.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Michelle on.....red bubbles

Let me first say that this is a First World Problem. I own that.


I have a major problem with those red bubbles. I do not like red bubbles on my screen. When I see other people with these bubbles on their phone, with numbers in the high double digits inside, I get an anxiety attack for them. To me, it is like a long "to do" list where nothing is checked off. 

Why do you have that many unread emails? And that many missed calls? Update those apps! Reply to those texts. DO IT NOW FOR THE LOVE OF APPLE. 

My two red bubbles are about the max I can stand to look at. In fact, that bubble on the Settings app? That is the new iOS update. I'm not sure I want to update it yet. But my hatred of the red bubble is strong.
I've heard there are a few kinks in the new system and that Maps has totally changed (not for the better) thus my delay in updating. But that bubble. Just sitting there, staring at me. Mocking me, really. 

And is it weird that I feel exposed showing you my home screen? You should see Page 2. Full of shame. Actually the shameful apps are hidden in folders. :)

For people that keep red bubbles on their screen, how do you deal with that? Doesn't it make you crazy? I just typed "creazy" instead of crazy. What does that mean?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Change

The magic 8 ball is still undecided but there might be a huge changing coming in my life. And although I went looking for this change, I'm not sure if I'm ready for it.

We get so used to our routine that the thought of changing that routine in any way leaves us nervous and wondering if we are making the right choice.

This could all be for nothing but I know that it has spurred me on to want to continue seeking out something better for myself. Even if something better is completely foreign and unknown.

Vague? Yes. I know. I'm that annoying person on the internet speculating about her life without giving you the full details. So cliche. I'll know more information soon and promise to spill my full, unedited thoughts.

But for now, I wait for tomorrow to come and go. I'll give it all I've got and hope for the best as long as you'll pass some of your hope along to me as well!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering

The Flag of Honor hung next to Ladder 10/Engine 10 in New York City

There have been 11 Anniversaries but many of us reflect on that day often. We walked around the WTC site last July and listened to the words of Julie. Her husband was on Flight 175, the plane that crashed into the South Tower. We looked at the memorial in the World Financial Center Building, the headquarters of American Express. They lost 11 employees that day.

I think of the people I saw in a church service on September 12 in Long Beach where I living while attending college. One family held a picture of their son who perished in the attacks. The pain stretched across the nation.

I think of the news coverage and the interviews with people trying to find their loved ones. I can see the posters and flyers lining the street, memorialized forever in the Tribute WTC Visitor Center.

I continue to feel sad for the families and friends of the people who lost loved ones, for the people who escaped it and fight against the demons of that day, for the people who lost their lives on an ordinary Tuesday and gave their lives helping people on September 11, September 12 and even now, as they are effected by illnesses they contracted in those days. 

My thoughts are with those who suffer daily with the pain this day left them with. May they find peace in good memories and comfort in the prayers of strangers. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Up Next

I'd like to thank you all for the kind words on my last post. It was terrifying to write but I knew I would get words of support and love from the people who continue to read my blog. Thank you a million times over.

A few weeks ago, before the IUI, I decided that if it didn't work out, I would start training for a half marathon. I'm pretty sure back in March 2009, I claimed that I would never run a half marathon again. I'm a liar. I need something to motivate me at the gym since my workouts are boring and dull. Running is just the thing that keeps me excited to workout and gives me something to work towards.

I printed out a 12 week training schedule and started on my way pre-IUI just to get training started. I stopped running over the course of my two week wait but on Thursday, when it was clear things didn't work out, I stepped back on the treadmill and got back to work. I can't just run straight through without some practice intervals so I completed a 2 minute run/1 minute walk interval for 30 minutes on Thursday. After a day off on Friday, I went back to the gym Saturday morning.....

I ran 2 miles without stopping. And yesterday, Sunday, I ran 3 miles without stopping. I'm two weeks behind on my training plan (I'm scheduled to run 6 miles on Saturday-fat chance) but I know if I continue to increase my mileage at a consistent rate, I will make up for the two weeks that I lost. I'm also looking forward to cooler temperatures so I can run outside in the evenings instead of heading for the treadmill.

In terms of diet, I'd love to proclaim that I'm going to lose all sorts of weight during this process but I usually fail when I do that so I'm just going to slow myself down, take a few seconds to think before I eat and hopefully, I can shed some ellbees before the race. No expectations. No major goal except to finish the race in one piece.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Final Pages

IUI #5 was not successful. I hoped for the best and felt like this was the one, the one that would work. But not everything we hope for comes true.

I handled it surprisingly well. This wasn't my first time at the rodeo, as they say. It seems like the disappointment of a negative outcome is par for the course at this point. If failing to have a baby was all the rage, I'd be on the cover of every magazine by now.

Some people may not understand what I'm about to say. Some people will furrow their brow and shake their heads. And that is okay. They can't relate to what we are going through. I wouldn't want them to. All of this sucks, to be perfectly honest. The truth is that I am ready to be done. Yes, done. I don't see this is as quitting. We put up a good fight. We've given a lot of time and money to the cause and we have nothing to show for it except a stockpile of needles and empty boxes of medicine. At some point, a failed effort has to be called off. Hell, even Search and Rescues are stopped at some point. Our "search" for a child has us wading in the deep rivers of a murky lake and the only thing rescuing me at this point is exercise, cupcakes and the love of my husband.

But in a marriage, there are two voices. And I have to respect the voice of my husband who is half of our partnership in this search mission. His voice says to try one more time. Our doctor, who we met with over a month ago to outline a plan, suggested 1-2 additional IUI's. Remember, we did 4 last year. There is something about the #6 that has long stood out to me as a good place to stop. I had hoped we wouldn't reach that, obviously, but my inner voice told me we would get there. Sad, right? The lack of success has turned even my inner voice against me. I think she is working with my uterus to completely ruin my life. I know some people will insist we go on, try other treatments and options, but those options may not be for us. They aren't for everybody. The options we have chosen are too invasive for some. This is a personal decision, one that shouldn't be judged by anyone. The whole "walk a mile in another man's shoes..." bit applies here.

This conversation we had was the most adult conversation I've held in my life. It is crunch time for us and the seriousness of our situation has never been greater. We are approaching a major crossroad in our lives. The "Y" in the road is out in the middle of a field under a bright sun and we are standing there, hand in hand, feet firmly planted unable to commit to a direction. Our hands must remain clasped as this is not a road you take alone. And it isn't a decision you enter into lightly. I think it shows the strength of our relationship that we, while getting ready for a trip to the gym as I kneeled on the floor and Kitty made strange noises expressing her hunger, came to a decision in minutes. We would try again. We will take that result and our decision will be made. We will have a positive outcome and be thrilled with the choice and look forward to raising our child or we will have a negative outcome and move on.

And while the obvious answer is to want that positive, history tells me that chances are small. So I prepare myself mentally for the opposite, less desired position we may find ourselves in. And because I'm a planner and TRY to look at the positive side, I imagine our lives as a family of two + kitty. Just me and you, feeling happy and safe and filled with love and joy and contentment. Because what other way is there to live? Being filled with anger and sadness and regret doesn't sound like a fun way to live life. I like to think of this part of our lives, these 3.5 years as a single book, standing alone on a shelf along side its prequels entitled, "A Blind Date", "Moving In", "Down on One Knee", "A Saturday in June", "Making a Home". Those stories had a beginning and an end and they led to the next book in the series. This book, our current book that is still being written, is entitled, "The Struggle". It is the dark book in the series. Not fun to read like the others.

But the final book, not matter the outcome, oh, what a book it will be. It will be filled with love and adventure. Laughter and pain. Good times and bad. This book might include the stories of child rearing. But if it doesn't, it won't be a book focused on the sadness of the previous book "The Struggle" because we will have moved on from that. We don't have a choice. Wallowing in sadness makes a good poem or country song but it doesn't make a good book.

Our final book has yet to be written. It doesn't even have a title because you don't start a new book without closing out the previous in the series. But soon, we will take pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and begin  writing (and living) a new life that has been created just for us.

Chris and Michelle: A New Beginning
To be released in 2013.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Saturday-Monday

* After being disturbed by Kitty from 4:45-5:45 Saturday morning, I went back to sleep after feeding her. She joined us in bed to take a nap. I needed to be out of the house at 9:15 to get gas in my car and drive 20 minutes to pick up my sister-in-law at 10:00. We were driving to Sonoma to do a college campus tour! I didn't set an alarm because I was sure I would wake up in plenty of time. Wrong. My phone rang and I was sure it was only 7:30. I talked to my mom, who was surprised I was still sleeping. When I hung up with her and checked the time, I saw that it was 8:50. WHAT? I kicked into Superhero mode. I showered, ate breakfast, got dressed, filled up my tank and made it to my in-laws house at exactly 10:00. I am damn good.

*We walked around the campus for about an hour before it started to get a  little warm out. It was chilly when we got there so I wore black skinny jeans and comfortable flats. It didn't stay chilly for long. Luckily, the campus isn't huge so we saw 95% of it in an hour. We ate lunch at In-n-Out and stopped by Sift for a cupcake. After getting back into town and dropping Miranda off, I stopped by my mom's to pick up some Pampered Chef stuff and drove home. I was tired!

*Saturday night, I went to Redbox to rent a movie. I got "Wanderlust." It wasn't the best movie around but it had some HILARIOUS parts. If you like crude humor, rent it. I actually wouldn't mind seeing it again.

*Sunday morning, I woke up and went to the gym. I was the only person there for a few minutes which was amazing. If you know me, you know that I can't stand a crowded gym. When I'm rich, I will build my own gym and no one else will be allowed to use it. Not even my husband. We are rich-he can build his own.

*After a 60 minute workout on the eliptical, I decided to go outside and do some manual labor. I washed my car, pulled/shoveled weeds and trimmed up our fast growing rosemary bush. This was all back-to-back-to-back-to-back. It was fairly warm by the time I was done and my arms were shaking from exhaustion. I overdid it big time. I also had mud and dirt on my shoulders and chest so that was gross but it showed that I worked real hard!

*After a visit with my in-laws to celebrate my FIL's birthday, I settled into bed with my ipad and pulled up my HBOGO app. They usually have some interesting documentaries available so I scrolled through and decided on "The Loving Story." This is the tale of Richard and Mildred Loving, the mixed race couple who married and were arrested for breaking the anti-miscegenation law in Virginia. They fought the law and they won. It is only 78 minutes and I highly recommend it. I was in tears throughout it and at the end, had a hard time pulling myself together. Can you believe it was only 54 years ago that mixed race marriage was against the law? And Alabama only did away with their anti-miscegenation laws in 2000? The documentary is a beautiful story of love occurring during a time filled with hate. I think in 54 years, we will see a documentary profiling the relationships of same sex marriage and I hope the outcome in the same. Let love win.

*The last day of a weekend is always sad. So most of my Sunday's are spent uttering "ugh, I don't want it to be Monday." The end of a three day weekend is just as sad but have a glimpse of happiness as we wake up and it is already Tuesday! I'm trying to have a positive attitude. I'm failing. I want to go back to sleep.

*Moving into the vague-blogging section of this post: I have some exciting things in motion right now. The end result is yet to be determined but I'm hoping for some good news over the next couple of weeks. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me please. Thank you.

*I asked on Facebook page but think I'll make a note here as well: I'm considering doing a house tour via photos and video soon. I'm obsessed with Movie Maker and have fun playing around with it so I think I'll record some footage of our home and make a little home movie. Literally. A movie of our home. Maybe I can get some decorating ideas out of it!

I hope everyone has a fast and easy 4 day work week!

Friday, August 31, 2012

I wish I could say it all

I wish I could really express how I am feeling about things right now. I try to ignore politics but I care about our country. I want to know who is going to be leading it for the next four years. And although I am moving more and more into the "I don't think the President really makes a difference" camp, I still feel outrage and horror at some of the thoughts people express online, in the news, etc.

True story: I was once a part of an online community for newly married people. Because I live in Northern California, my political beliefs put me in the minority. When political discussions/posts would pop up, I would try to stay out of them because I knew I would get attacked. I saw it happen to other people. Good people. Nice people. Well meaning people, attacked for their political affiliation.

A conversation came up, the exact topic I can't recall, that made me so horrified that I disabled my account and never went back. Another contributor to the community had recently lost her teenage nephew in a tragic accident. Her nephew was a donor. She stated that if there was any change her nephew's organs were going to go to a Republican, she would do everything she could to stop that from happening.

I'm not kidding. I wish I would have taken a screenshot of that exchange because I was appalled. Now, perhaps other non-open minded people would say the same thing about other groups. That isn't okay either. In fact, it is down right disgusting. I can't believe that someone who celebrates freedom to be who you are, despite color, creed or orientation would say such an awful, close-minded thing. Anyone who claims to be a Christian, or a loving and caring person or kind or generous shouldn't say things like this. No one should say things like this.

No one is perfect. No party is perfect. The party I am registered under isn't perfect. I vote on issues and my issues are all over the place which makes it very difficult to cast my vote. My important issues are not important to others. Others important issues aren't important to me. And that is okay. There are issues that I have changed my mind on and I cringe when I hear opposite views but the chances of changing minds? Slim to none.

My problem? The hatred. The anger. The downright awful attitude that people have towards "the opposite party." And this goes for both sides. It is not in my DNA to openly disparage a person just because they believe something different than me. Do I agree with them? NO. Do I care? NO. I just let them be. And I hope they will allow me to be as well.

On November 7th, my life will move on. I might wake up and not even realize that an election happened. And on January 21st, no matter who is up on those steps taking a pledge to honor and serve America, my life will go on. And as sad as this may be, I'm not sure we will be talking about different issues in 2016. I hope we have moved on. I hope we have recovered. But my faith in this system is nearly gone. My faith in the people of this country is at an all time low.

Stop the hatred. Stop the vile words. Allow yourself to come to terms with differences of policy and thoughts.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Skin Care Favorites

Once upon a time, for a long time, I had really bad skin. Oily, combo, acne prone, dry. All at once. In my teens and early-mid 20's, I would buy every acne product on the market and slather my skin hoping that those pesky pimples would go away.

And they did! But my skin also dried out which caused even more pimples. It was a vicious cycle that I didn't stop because of my obsession with products. Eventually, I had an intervention with myself and realized that in terms of my skin, less is more. Layering product after product just wasn't something that helped my skin. It became over stimulated and freaked out.

Today, if I get a pimple, I just let it go and heal on its own timeline. And it is more like "when I get a pimple" and not "if" because I still break out. I will never have perfectly even, unbroken out skin. Never. I'm okay with that. My skin is 100 times better than it was even just a few years ago. I'm not sure if age or a new routine of products has made the difference but I'm not begging for answers.

I more than anyone know that all skin is not created equally. What works for me might not work for you. I do know that I am always so weary of putting any new product on my face, whether that be a face wash, moisturizer or anti-aging product. I just wait for the breakouts but hope for the best. I do want to share what I've been using for the past couple of years on a daily basis and a new product that has been amazing for me.

(I also have used the Ole Henrikson On the Go Cleanser)



I was instructed by a magazine, I think, a long time ago not to use scrubs on acne prone face but this one can be very gentle. If you add a lot of water to it, it foams while scrubbing away dead skin. It really does leave my skin soft and fresh!


Those are the 3 products I use. That is all. I use tinted moisturizer as my base makeup so I really only use the Vitamin Plus at night. I put a good layer all over my face and neck after washing my face. But recently, I put something else on before it.....

I got this as a sample a while ago. I threw it in my makeup drawer and only recently came across it. I looked  up the description online (Sephora has great user reviews) and decided to try it out. I figure that a product that costs $67 is worth a try. I'm so glad I did. This stuff is amazing. I put it on after washing my face. It has a bit of a burn to it and you don't need a lot to smooth over your skin. I wait for it to dry and then put the Vitamin Plus over it. Once upon a time, I used a Murad acne product and broke out with the most horrible pimples around the sides of my chin. It was painful, deep and ugly. I swore off Murad ever since but this product is different. I have had no bad reactions and my skin is softer because of it. My sample ran out a couple nights ago and I'm waiting to pull the trigger on buying another bottle of it. 


I'm not sure how many people reading this still experience trouble skin but I want to say that the Ole Henrikson line of products has been really great for me. And my biggest skin care lesson that I can share is: Less is more. Don't pile on products. Allow your skin to cycle through naturally to rid itself of toxins that cause pimples. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

We Stroll. With Wine.

I have a friend. Her name is Melissa. We call each other "Mista" (pronouced meesta) inspired by Happy Gilmore. 

We have been friends for 16 years. I love her. She is the most amazing person. She is a loyal friend to many people. She has been married for 11 years (!!!!) and has two adorable boys. In high school, she told me that I had to marry someone from her class (I was '97, she was '99) so I could go to her class reunion. Funny how things work out. :)

 It seems that whenever we would end up living near each other, one of us would move. For about a year and half, we lived just 15 minutes away and I regret not spending more time with her then. Even though we are now an hour apart, we make time to see each other and our friendship is very strong.

Months ago, when word of the Wine and Art Stroll in my town hit the streets, I knew that I had to invite Melissa. We had such a great time yesterday. Chris drove us into to town, we ate dinner and strolled from store to store, sipping (and chugging) wine. Our driver picked us up, we sobered up and went to get frozen yogurt at 9:30 p.m. and stayed up talking until 1:00 a.m. She spent the night (I love having a guest room) and took off for home this morning, still bundled up in one of my sweatshirts.

There are some friendships that only last a short time. Others span a lifetime. I know my friendship with Melissa will endure. I feel so lucky to have a friend like her in my life. She is a treasure.

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The gross and weird things you find in a thrift shop in a small, small town.

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We looked both ways and then took pictures on the train tracks while slightly drunk. Fun.




Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Michelle on.....Massages

I love massages. Whenever someone tells me that they have never had a professional massage, I excitedly tell them they must go get one ASAP.

But not all massages are created equal. I still remember my first massage. It was in Palm Springs. I was 20 or 21 and my mom was there on vacation. I lived in Long Beach for college and she invited me out for the weekend. I was nervous about the massage and that only escalated when I realized my massuese was a male. I tried to relax but found it difficult to really enjoy it. My mom assured me that next time, I should make sure I get a female. And that is something I have always tried to stick with.

Sadly, I've slipped a time or two. A couple days prior to my friend Lisa's wedding, we went to get massages. She said hers was amazing. Her other friend was sure that her massuese checked out her boobs while changing positions. And my guy.....I think he fell asleep at one point. Awesome.

I also remember the best massage I've ever had. The stars aligned, people. I fell into such a deep relaxation that I not only fell asleep, I forgot where I was. That was something special.

For my birthday, my mom asked what I wanted. I couldn't think of any material things that fit criteria.

"Think of something that you really want but wouldn't buy yourself." I rarely buy myself anything (without feeling guilty after) so this was challenging. I talked to my friend Lindsay about it and she suggested massages! Perfect.

My mom got me a years worth of massages at her favorite place. I've already mapped out exactly when to use each massage for the next year starting with my first one which took place yesterday. With a male massuese. Why oh why don't I learn my lesson.

It wasn't that he was bad. Not at all. He did a fine job. But I just can't seem to relax. The distraction of the male massuese set off a flurry of random thoughts in my head the entire time:

Massages are weird. You walk into a room, undress and lay on a table with two blankets, usually face down. You wait for a strange to enter the room and without saying a word to each other for 60 minutes, that stranger rubs all over you with oil/lotion. And then you pay for it. And most of the time, you go back and do it all over again. I mean...really?

The entire time, I kept thinking how weird massages are and those thoughts did NOT allow me to relax and enjoy it at all. I thought I would get over it when the scalp massage took place because that is my favorite part. I can really knock out weird thoughts and just live in the moment during the scalp massage but nope. Didn't happen. Probably because the guy was cupping my face and my ears for 5 minutes. Which I probably would have enjoyed if I wasn't so hung up on the fact that this was a dude doing this.

The moral of the story is to listen to your instincts. I'll only get naked and lay face down on a massage table for females from now on.

Wait.....that didn't sound right.


*I'm considering a series of "Michelle on...." posts. Any suggestions?