Monday, October 29, 2012

Smile A Day

You can tell me all you want that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", but I would be much better off if a bucket of coffee a day kept the tears away.  I am sure it comes as no surprise that I still have good days and bad days, even 40 days later.  I still wake up in the morning and can't believe she is gone. But I still wake-up, get up, go to work, and live my life.  In the best interest of my sanity and happiness, I am trying to focus on the little things each day that make me smile.  Focusing on those things, those people, those moments has helped make the tough days less bitter and the good days even more wonderful. 

Personal Photo
1. Our god daughter, Autumn. Her smiling face on facetime is the sweetest at the end of a long day! Always so happy to see Unky Kevin and Aunt Jess, there is no way to be unhappy when she is talking, showing, and running for you. Thanks little girl, I can't believe we've known you for almost 2 years already! 

2. Flowers - I love fresh flowers and while I do not have the budget to keep them in the house at all times, I do take advantage of them when I can.  Recently I have had several bridal shows for work and have enjoyed bringing home our small display with me to brighten up the house.  So long as I remember to water them, our Acme flowers tend to hold up very nicely, and I am not complaining.

via Zcahce
3. Coffee - There is something about that moment of quiet in the morning, when no one else is awake, and enjoying the first cup of hot fresh coffee.  I understand so much more why Mom got up at 5:15 rather than 5:30 to start off her crazy day.  I won't say that I do this everyday as the comfy bed wins out a few times a week.  

4. Fall is such a beautiful time of the year.  While I am a bit scared for the pending storm, I am sad that there will be little chance of the pretty fall colored leaves still holding onto the trees after the storm has passed.  Leaves plus mums, pumpkins, gourds, and the green grass makes me smile every time. 

photo via yankeescents4u
5. Candles are so "warm and fuzzy" or "fire hazards" according to my husband.  This candle is currently my favorite and I have been burning this jar candle for days and days and it is still hanging in there.  I love the scent, and the clean white candle in the glass jar is so pretty alongside my flowers (See 2). 

photo via shopdirectbrands
6. Post-Its are my favorite office supply.  You could ask my staff how I feel about post-its and they would probably laugh at you because this is a bit of a problem.  I would estimate that I have 6 or 7 different sizes, kinds, shapes, etc in my desk.  I'm not sure why I enjoy them, but it is a little bright spot in the endless notes I write all day, so I let myself enjoy this cheap fix! 

Here's to the little things that make us each smile.  Would you like to share your "little things" with me? I hope you remember to smile at the little moments in the upcoming week - especially those of us affected by Sandy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mom: Newsletter Style

I started this project with myself in mind.  There wasn't much thought put into what other people might want to do, just that I needed this year to focus on her.  With that in mind, I started a newsletter/introduction to the #MissionMom and am emailing it out on Saturday.  I would like everyone to feel welcome to attend one event or all twelve.  I hope to send the first newsletter (thank god for email) with a general description of the project and my tentative dates for each event.  Then in 3 or 4 weeks I will send out a "first quarter" email of sorts with the specific dates and events so our friends/family can RSVP.  The planner in me is having a bit of a hard time with all of the unknown factors involved in this, so paper organization, dates, and fundraising opportunities have become my focus. 

That is, if I get the courage up to hit send.  Currently, I'm too scared that someone is going to tell me this is a terrible/foolish idea and that I can't handle.  I have big goals for the Fight for Air Climb as well as Exeter Relay and know that I can count on so many of these important ladies to help me do exactly that!

So, here's a sneak peak.... 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mom: Logo Action

I am so excited to start #MissionMom as I've dubbed it on the Twitter-verse.  Kevin and I discussed several options for fundraising for the Fight for Air Climb, including printing tote bags, t-shirts, baked goods, etc.  I know which logo I think we should go with, but thought that having input from a source other than the "designer" was important as well. 

Basic background information on the logo ideas is as follows.  Option 1: My mom loved the color green, so I chose a hunter green over the olive green mom loved, because no one other than Deb looked good in olive green! Option 2: Mom's nickname was Little Debbie and I paired that with a Morning Glory.  Option 3: Only Mom would take her own airpot of coffee into the office on a daily basis, and we loved her for it.

My insane goal is to get the basic dates/weekends, information, fundraising opportunities, etc all completed by the end of the month.  Thinking that timeline gives other people November to make up their minds, and December to begin coordinating events for the first quarter. I am so excited to do these events in honor of my Mom and can't wait to share all of our "special moments" with friends & family! 

So, 1 or 2 or 3?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mountain Pies - aka - My Country Education

I spent Saturday with a combination of husband's college roommates, their spouses, children, and additional people I have never met before. I love these girls (and their guys), and the Fall Fire on the Ponderosa was a success to say the least.  I tend to enjoy "byo-whatever" parties, and this was no different.  A fire pit, beer, crock pots, and cupcakes was easy for everyone to transport and allowed for minimal clean-up.  The real learning experience came in the format of Mountain Pies.  Apparently I grew up too much in "the city" as at 27 this was my first experience with Mountain Pies. 

Many of you may feel this is an entirely too long explanation, but who knew there were so many variations?! Really, a mountain pie is like a giant grilled cheese that you stuff with toppings and shove in a fire.  Now, doesn't that sound appealing?

First, you need good friends that are guaranteed to laugh at/with you, and help you keep an eye on your Mountain Pie lest it get burnt to a crisp.  Note, I still burnt one, and my mouth, but that is a whole 'nother story.

Second, you need a plethora of toppings/fillings and bread.  We went through 3 or 4 loaves of bread making these just in one night! I know I referenced grilled cheese earlier, but that is exactly how this assembly process works. Butter the outside of the bread, stick in the press, and add toppings.  Pizza-style with pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni was my favorite but Kevin made a smores Mountain Pie with chocolate, marshmallow, and a graham cracker all inside too!

Now, this press device.  I have never seen anything quite like it before but I certainly understand why it is needed.  It smooshes the bread just right, heats it up and gets the outside all crispy while the cheese inside melts to ooey gooey burn your mouth perfection!

That is about all of the education I can provide.  I promise they are easy and fun - also relatively cheap once you or some friends invest in the presses!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hoarding Gift Cards?

Hi, my name is Jessica and I hoard gift cards.

Am I the only person that hoards gift cards?  Please someone tell me I'm not. 

Last night, while cleaning out a "junk basket", I found 7 gift cards.  I'm sure I knew they existed at one point or another, but had forgotten about at least 5 of them.  The other 2 I specifically hid from myself so I wouldn't run out and spend them and then promptly forgot.

Some of those gift cards are so old, I'm really not sure who gave them to me/Kevin or when.  Prime Example - there is a $50 American Eagle gift card in there.  When was the last time that either of us shopped at American Eagle?  Oh wait, I know - when I was shopping for my 17 year old cousin a year ago.  So, I'll guess this one is 4 years old?

Gift Card #2 - Starbucks.  This one is only for $15, and I specifically remember hiding it from myself so I would have it on a rainy day when I realllly needed a grande caramel macchiato and as many of those little petite vanilla scones as I could afford.  But really, when do I have time to go to Starbucks and why would I go when the hotel has an UNLIMITED SUPPLY OF COFFEE? This sucker went in my purse, and one of these days I'm going to treat myself.  And maybe my husband too if he is behaving himself.

Gift Card #3 - Bed Bath and Beyond.  I think I got this one as a freebie during the 2010 wedding-palooza Kevin and I had going on.  You know, because I bought approximately $500 worth of Calphalon products in one shopping trip.  And you know I kept that gift card for myself.  Except now, I don't want to spend it because whatifimightneedit?! Seriously, no one is getting married between now and the end of 2012 and I really seriously am dying for new pillows.  Hello, one free pillow for Jessica!

Gift Cards #4 and #5 are both for IKEA.  These are from our wedding and I am saving them for when we get our own house.  Right, I am well aware that was supposed to happen in 2009, but HELLO LIFE. So, back in the basket they went.

Hello My Love.... (and Meatballs!)
 Gift Card #6 - Banana.  Oh yes, I just found a way to validate the ridiculously expensive blazer that I want.  It's on sale RIGHT NOW for $148, and there is a 25% off code (BRCREATE until 10/21) and I have a $50 gift card.  Dude, that $198 blazer is going to be mine for $61.

Gift Card #7 - Dicks.  I'm sure this is hubby's, but I could really really really use some new yoga-ish pants for the fall.  My UA is cold-gear so I sweat like a man when I wear it, and my grey yoga pants def have a hole in an inappropriate location.  Decision time: should I assume KG forgot about it and just swipe it, or should I ask nicely and put emphasis on the hole in my current pants?

So, I guess I can do a little shopping in the next few days and not feel totally guilty about it.  That's a win.  And I got a basket of miscellaneous crap cleaned out, so that's a double win!

Happy Rainy Friday, now go spend some dough :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mom: Goals for 2013 - Part 3

I think these 6 will round out my activities in Mom's memory for 2013.  It was harder than I thought to decide but I am excited to share these opportunities with our friends and family. 

7. Frisbee Golf - There must be a half dozen frisbees at Mom & Dad's house that all say Little Debbie on the back of them.  Mom may not have been as skilled as dad (heck, no one is), but she loved to throw frisbees in the backyard or frisbee golf at French Creek.  The course at French Creek isn't there anymore, so I'll have to find a quality alternative.  

8. Decorator Showhouse Tour - We first attended the Vassar Show House & Gardens the year I turned 11.  I know that Grammy Moyer, Mom, and Aunt Linda all went for a few years prior, but you had to be 12 in order to visit the house.  I was so excited when they fibbed a year and I could go along to tour the house and have lunch.  (side note: are we noticing a lunch trend here?). Vassar stopped hosting their house tours in 2008 or 2009, and I was so excited last year when the Oxford Arts Alliance hosted a house tour.  I've heard great things about the house tour that Bucks County hosts and hope to continue to get more information.  These tours are usually in May, and I can't wait! 

9. Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center - We have a wedding dress from my great grandmother to donate and I am excited to spend some time with my mom's brothers learning more about our family history.  

10. Gone With the Wind.  Mommy's favorite movie and a tradition we tried to maintain by watching once a year.  She was so excited when she found it on dvd since her VHS tapes had seen much much better days.  

11. Sewing - This may not seem like a group project, but I assure you, it will take an army to teach me how to sew as well as my mother.  I think a small counted cross stitch piece from Dimensions will be my first project.  I would like to have it properly mounted and framed in honor of mom. Maybe one like this? Mom usually did traditional pieces, so I think a sampler is in order! 

12. Make Her Proud - I know it is not a specific item, but Dad is going to have a tough 2013, and Christopher is deploying.  I hope to send Christopher off with enough fan fare to make him smile and to give me a few extra moments to spoil him.  Maybe I'll sub this out for a more specific goal later, but I'll stick with the 12 I've got for now. 

I Love You Mom, I'll keep your memory first in my mind always, and 2013 will be the year to honor you. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mom: Goals for 2013 - Part 2

As I've been researching places to visit for my 2013 Goals, I have been trying to keep in mind the people I would like to join in these journeys with me.  I think my best friend will be a willing participant in most, and I am hoping to invite my Mom's "Ladies Night" group on several as well.

So far, keeping in mind we are going with attractions in driving distance, here is my list as of today:

1. Philadelphia Museum of Art - This is the numero uno on my list, and always due for a visit at least twice a year.  I know there are some great exhibits coming in 2013, including Double Portrait (about graphic design) and one featuring sculptures related to Malcom X.  This absolutely must include either brunch in the Granite Hill restaurant or lunch in the cafeteria. 

2. Nemours Mansion - Mom and I wanted to visit for many years, but with Nemours being closed for renovations from 2005 to late 2010, that provide problematic.  It recently reopened in 2011, but is one of my IOU cards from this past birthday.  Mom wrote that she owed me lunch and a tour at Nemours.  I think this will be a hard one to get through with dry eyes, but I am excited to finally go.

3. Longwood Gardens - I know I mentioned previously that I thought I might skip the lights this year, but I think after the holidays, in the beginning of January that a visit for the lights will be a positive thing.  My mom's cousin mentioned earlier this week that she would like to go, so I know there is one person on board.

4. Hiking at Ricketts Glen - Camping at Ricketts and spending a week there during the summer hiking, canoeing, and picking blueberries was one of my favorite vacations! With best friends J&K and god daughter Autumn living so close, I hope to be able to enjoy this goal several times next year.  Packing lunch to enjoy by the waterfalls and sneaking in a beer will be a must for this girl.

5. LiveStrong/Relay for Life Event - My best friend's mom is hugely active in our local Relay for Life (Go Team Dragonflies) and I am thinking that either participating in relay in June or participating in a local Livestrong event (or both) would be a great goal for Kevin and I to work towards together.  Add in some friends and family and I feel as though we could have a real impact financially for these organizations as well as a positive emotional impact on ourselves.

6. An American Cancer Society Lung Cancer Event - There aren't a lot in our area that I know of, but I think that completing Goal 5 as well as Goal 6 will help me have something to work towards physically while putting myself back together mentally. Specifically raising money for something so devastating to our family is very important to me.

I'm halfway to my goal, with 6 out of 12 decided.  I will need to think a little harder about the next 6, but they will all be Mom-Inspired and I am excited to see what next year brings!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mom: Goals for 2013

Beginning the process of organizing my parents house is exhausting to say the least.  Challenge #78493278 was helping my dad find the down comforter for his bed so he didn't freeze at night.  And I know that is only the beginning of the roller coaster we find ourselves on. I have been tasked with finishing Chris's wrestling scrapbook that Mom started to recount wrestling from k - 12, with emphasis on his kick-ass high school years.  This meant tackling Mom's "Sewing Room" this past weekend to gather supplies and bring them home with me. I won't lie, I cried going through those shelves, dressers, and her desk.  I also need to mention that if I use ALL of the materials that Mom saved, I will have 6 inch thick scrapbook. 

I'm excited to make this scrapbook for Chris because my Mom made an incredible one for me several years ago that recounts my own high school track career.  I cried when I opened it on Christmas day, and while I know Chris won't cry, my goal is to finish it for him before he deploys. 

Anywho.  That was a long winded way of getting to my point.  Which is - I found lots of photos, ticket stubs, and brochures from trips and attractions Mom and I had visited with friends and family.  I am instituting a goal for 2013 that each and every month I will do a Mom-inspired activity.  There are a few things that we never got to do together, including visiting Nemours Mansion and that is absolutely on the list. This is absolutely about me, and maintaining the traditions and learning experiences that Mom, Grammy Moyer, and Grammy Bookheimer instilled in me. 

I hope to finish my list in the next week so I can invite others to tag along.  I'd like to have one or two people go to each attraction/exhibit with me and as Mom always did, have lunch afterwards.  I hope this will be the beginning of traditions with my friends and family, and something that I will continue with my own children someday.  Mom led by great example, and my love of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Longwood Gardens is thanks to the wonderful ladies in my life. 3

Love my family
Off to research some of my favorite places and maybe find a few new ones as well.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mom: Things I Need to Remember

This post will likely be meaningful for only 2 people (myself and Christopher), maybe 10 if you include family.  Nevertheless, these are words I need to write, and that is what is most important right now.

My mom's memorial service was beautiful.  There were stories told that I have heard 100 times (Jessica was born, Jessica had jaundice, Jon went racing the next day), and stories I had never heard before (my mom's bachelorette party where they did shots out of some guy's trunk).  The memories and stories of friends and family were the things that would carry them through the hard times. I have so many stories, laughs, and moments with my mom that I don't ever want to forget. Some good, some bad, some just because they involve her. On the advice of my mom's cousin, I bought a gorgeous leather covered notebook yesterday.  I'm going to use this book to write down important things I need to remember and things I want to tell her, the moments she can't be here to celebrate.

The "Good Morning Glory" is a story I think everyone has heard at this point.  If I had to explain to someone new in my life who my Mom was in one telling, this would be it.  The mommy that started a tradition when I was a baby, and continued it through the year I turned 27.  But really, every single morning I woke up for school, or came downstairs on a Sunday she would say "Good Morning Glory". Through stubborn high school days, sick days, college, and my professional career.  When I left for college, every morning when I woke up to check my IUP email (at least on her workdays), there would be an email waiting for me - and the message something like this:

Good Morning Glory, I hope you have a great Monday! I know you'll do great on your history exam, and I hope your knee feels better after Saturday's fall. 

And then when I got a grown-up job, she sent me the same email every workday, even when she knew I was off.  There are hundreds of sent and received emails with subject lines of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Thursday #2, & Friday.  Yes, Thursday #2, lest one of us be confused or forget that we had two topics of conversation going via something she forgot to send in the first email of the day. She sent those emails through the anxious days when Chris was so close to coming home that we didn't speak of it, and simply emailed that morning with:

Good Morning Glory, Have a good day, Love, Mom

I haven't found the perfect photo yet, but I am going to get my first tattoo before the end of the year.  And that tattoo will be similar to the photo below (less greenery), of a Morning Glory flower.  This is the one image that without being a photo of her, means "Mom" to me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Women are Complicated...

Hysterically, someone asked me for some suggestions on women.  Well, I may have told that person that they have no idea what they are doing when it comes to women and that they needed some help.  Although, I didn't really think I was the person that should provide the advice. 

So, here goes nothing in my favorite format, a numbered list. 

  1. Tell a girl she is pretty, even when she is a mess.  We know we look like ish at 6am with mascara under our eyes, but if you tell her that she cute, you might get lucky and she'll make you eggs. Tell her how sexy she looks when she get all dressed up to go out to the club (and then remind her why she's coming home to you). 
  2. Feed her. When she's had a long day, it’s rainy outside, and you beat her home - making grilled cheese* and tomato soup is a bazillion times more endearing than ordering take-out.
  3. If you’re dating (or engaged, or married really), let her wear your hoodie.  It smells like you and it’s comfy and probably 2 sizes too big, but that isn’t the point.
  4. Make it Facebook official.  Your relationship status doesn’t have to say that you’re dating, or even that it’s complicated (which it probably is), just post something that she will know means you’re thinking about her.  If you told her you’d take her out for Chinese food, make your status say you can’t wait for Chinese food on Friday night.  She'll know you’re thinking about her, and your boys won’t call you out for being lame. 
  5. Text her.  Sort of like Facebook official, just say hi and let her know you’re thinking about her.  It’ll keep her from crazy stalking you and why wouldn’t you want to send her a text just to say hi?  I know, more effort than most men want, but it will get you closer to your end game anyway. 
  6. Let her be herself.  But, push her out of her comfort zone.  I know, women are a walking contradiction.  If you know she likes wine, take her out to a winery. Even if she don’t really like being outdoors, ask her to go on a nature walk if that’s your thing.  I’m not saying that Carrie Bradshaw and Survivorman would be a good fit, but if you agree to take a walk rather than hike up a mountain, it could be a great afternoon for both people. 
  7.  It’ll happen when it happens.  When you’re both ready for it to happen.  This is not high school, do not poor Zima down her throat and expect her to peel off her clothes/let you do it for her and have sex in the shower.  If she does, she's not worth your time and please move on and find a woman who makes you do #1 several times before she actually sleeps with you. 
  8. When she needs you to, hold her.  There will be days, hours, minutes, moments where you can't make it right or make the hurt stop.  She needs someone sensitive and supportive, yet strong enough for both of you. Pour her a glass of wine, give her your hoodie (see 3), and hold her tight. It's like being 4 and having a nightmare, sometimes all it takes is a tight squeeze and a kiss on the forehead to make the world seem right again. 
  9. Give her space.  I know, I just told you to do all of these sweet and kind things for her.  But there is a reason that the saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" exists.  Remember that you don't need to spend every waking moment together, even when you want to.  Go for a run with the boys, go for a drink with coworkers, have dinner with your mom.  You will be better people together if you are strong and independent people separately. 
  10. Be the man your Mom raised you to be. Thar hard working woman that raised you, taught you right from wrong, and how to tie your shoes.  The sacrifices she made for you will not be for naught.  Bring home the girl that you know will help your mom in the kitchen, pull weeds with your dad, and build legos with your nephew.  If you family can't get along with her, there is probably a reason behind it.  Most people don't hate others just for the hell of it.  
There are some awesome suggestions via Esquire Magazine (not that I read the whole thing, but I agree with all of the things a man should be at age 27).

And, Good Luck.   

*completely unrelated - do you call it grilled cheese or toasted cheese? 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Friends Get You Through

I did not want to entertain last night, I did not want to drink, I just wanted to sit on the sofa and watch Honey Boo Boo*. 

Kevin, Brian, and Andrew had other ideas. I got home from a fantastic 12 hour day at work, to find 3 hungry men in the living room.  13 chili dogs later (yes, seriously), we were West Chester bound.  How does that happen you ask?  Truthfully, I have no idea.  Except that Brian, Kevin, and Andrew make such a fun grouping that they'll convince you to do anything.  Anything last night involved going to the bar at 9pm and staying until 1am.  Add in two towers of beer, a 40th birthday party, and some "people watching" and it was a quality night.

Not the Saturday night I had planned, but for hours (or maybe an hour), I didn't think about anything but drinking, my friends, and crazy college kid antics.  These are the kind of people that I know will help me through the tough times, and celebrate the good times. Thanks guys, for being some of the greatest friends a girl could ask for. And special thanks to my awesome Husband for being so cute (and humoring E's need for photos).

*Note: I've never actually seen that show, but have heard so much about it, that I decided it was worth a shot. Now I still haven't seen it, so I guess I'll add that to my "to do" list.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Missing Her

I have this huge plan to write a great post about my Mom's battle, the one that she fought with dignity down to the very end. But it is hard.  Hard to get through the first sentence without crying, impossible to include all of the things that made her so amazing, and unimaginable that I'll never get to experience those times and moments again.

There are no words to explain how lost, sad, and empty I feel now and have felt for the last 17 days.  There is no one on the other end of the phone to make me laugh, convince me that my staff isn't out to get me, or commiserate about Kev working 2nd shift.  There is no email waiting for me at 7:30 that says "Good Morning Glory" along with a wish that I have a great day.  I saw the first ad for the Christmas Lights at Longwood that will start the Saturday after Thanksgiving today.  That was the thing I always did with Mom and Grammy Moyer.  And now, in less than a year, they are both gone.  I love love love that display, but I think I might skip 2012.

I'll probably be absent from the general blogging world for a while, including writing and commenting.  Currently my Google Reader has 745 posts in it that I haven't read, and I honestly have no interest in reading about the fun things that other people are doing.  How fun is life when I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and have yet to sleep through the night.  Moving on with my life isn't worth it if she isn't here to share in my joy, my happiness.  I'm well aware this probably sounds melodramatic, but getting out of bed and taking a shower takes more energy than I have.  And work, oh please. 

I miss you Mom, more than I could ever put into words.  I would never change a moment of our time together, but I sure wish there was more of it.  I know that I will miss you every day, for the rest of my life, but you will always be my mommy.  I Love You.