Monday, December 16, 2013

Unwritten & Unread

There are some days that are SO GOOD I can't wait to blog about them.  And then there are days that are just so awful it takes days to recover from the sadness.  I'm not one to write a post and hit publish though, there is always an hour or two of thinking about the post, proofreading, spellchecking, grammar-nazi behavior.  So there are currently 19 draft posts sitting in blogger.  None of them are finished, some are just a title and two lines, and there they all sit, unread.  

I want/need/desire (I cannot find the right word) to get back into the place where I could sit down with my journal and write until my hand hurt, my brain was calm, and I found peace inside my heart.  It has been a long time since I was that girl, since I have found that place, and I miss it within the depths of my soul. 

Friday was a day that was SO GOOD, I couldn't wait to share my joy with everyone I knew.  My bff at work had her baby on Friday - a sweet 6lb, 13oz baby girl with a head of hair and the cutest smile at just 1 day old.  And my little brother became an Army Infantry Sniper.   He is one of just 150 graduates from that program this year.  I was SO SO SO proud, happy, excited at the end of the day.  

And then there was Saturday, where I made a list of all the things that I wanted and needed to do before Christmas - and thought I would cry right on the spot.  Trying to be me, a good friend, a good bridesmaid, a good wife, and a good daughter is exhausting.  I wish I could enjoy our first Christmas in our home.  Instead, I'm focused on Christmas for my dad and brother - decorating their home, buying them a tree, and wrapping their gifts.  I bought a tree for our house, but it has no lights or decorations, because there isn't time.  I think Christmas this year is proving more difficult than Christmas last year, and it is exhausting.  Last year there was support from all areas of our lives, and it did lift a bit of the burden from our shoulders.  This year, not the case. I am off on Tuesday from work, and my to-do list is already so long I know it is unattainable.  I'm not sure who this sad, exhausted person is that I have become - it's not the person I want to be and I know it is not the person my Mommy raised.  But how do I find myself again? How do I find myself when my goal for 2014 (an incredibly personal one) has been turned down as a possibility by one of my best friends? How do I find myself when those I used to count on don't answer calls or respond to texts when I need them most? How do I make time for me when my suggestions of simplifying the holidays and other events are met with responses of selfishness and disrespect? 

Here's to 2013 being over.  Yes, I'm wishing away the last 15 days of this month, wishing away the last 2 weeks of this year.  I'm ready to start over for myself - to find myself - maybe?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thankful - Day Three

Day Three

 Today I am thankful for my husband.  For his strength - both physical and emotional.  For his ability to make me laugh and smile, even when life brings me down.  For his patience, understanding, and compassion.   We have grown together beyond what I could have imagined in the last 8 years and this man just "gets" me.   See back to Number 1 for the crazy place I met him - my St. Patrick's Day lover ;)

When people tell me how lucky I am to have Kevin, I try to remember to say thank you instead of "I know".  I do know that I am lucky to have him, but I also think that it was necessary that I have Kevin.  See, when I picture myself going through the trials, devastation, and sadness of the last 4 years without him - I see myself literally crying on the floor.   I won't say that there has not been some on the floor crying, but having Kevin by my side to pick me up and dry my tears; that is what gets me through each day. 

Thank you Kevin, for every day and every moment with you.  Thank you for putting up with "in sickness and in health" more than I ever thought we would experience.  Thank you for being both my rock and testing my patience all the same.  Thank you for putting the pieces back together when I never thought I would be whole again.  Thank you for forgiving me when I spend our Eating Out budget on candy and toys for Boy Wonder.  Thank you for making dinner, cleaning the house, and paying the bills on days when I just can't do anything more than sit.  Thank you for loving me better than I ever knew I deserved. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thankful - Day Two

And I fell off the bandwagon after just one day - does that really surprise anyone?! 

Day Two 

I am thankful that I am able.  I am so thankful (this week especially) that I am able to do so many things, specifically those that help others.  I had an experience like none other this week, getting to meet a friend's little boy just hours after being born and getting to hold him, spend time with family and friends, and pray over him as he went home to the Lord.  

I am thankful that I was able to take time off work, that I was able to share the emotions, joys, and sorrows with new and old friends, and that I am able to continue to support them.  I am financially and physically able to help clean their house, do their laundry, and cook meals for them - to help ease their burden during this time.  These are all things that not everyone can do - and I am so thankful for my ability to do so! 

Holly, Joe, and Cullen Tusing - you are in my thoughts and prayers every minute of every day <3 font="">

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thankful - Day One

Yes, I am jumping on the "oh so cliche" bandwagon and hopefully posting something I am thankful for each day in November.  I am going to make a prediction here that I'll miss at least one day; that my thankful on actual Thanksgiving Day will be something food related; and that my thankful on the 30th will be Tylenol (we have a wedding on the 29th).  Please don't expect something deep and philosophical each day - I'm taking this with the idea that honesty and "being me" should come through here. 

Day One

I am thankful for IUP.  While it was the school known as 'I Usually Party", and where I was a member of the track team - neither of those are the real reason I am thankful for it.  IUP was the place where friends became family over the course of 4 years.  I'm thankful that Kevin and I both chose this school 250+ miles from our homes, for the time we spent there, the people we met there, and the adults we've become as a result of 2003 - 2008.  IUP - thanks for teaching me more than a few lessons about parties, snowy winters, and how not to be arrested by the mounted police.  IUP - thanks for introducing me to some of the most influential friends in my life.  IUP - thanks for being within my budget, having the "right" major, and a kick-ass track team too. 

And because no post is really complete without a photo - here is an IUP classic.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Prayers, Please

I have thought for weeks about what I could write that would have enough meaning for the situation at hand.   Some of you may remember that back in June, a friend's baby was diagnosed with a fatal defect known as Anencephaly. 

Yesterday, Holly delivered a beautiful baby boy named Cullen Joseph Tusing.  Experiencing the emotions, faith, and love yesterday was without a doubt one of the most meaningful days of my life.  I hope to post on the emotions and impact of the day soon, but for now - I'm asking for your prayers.  You see, Cullen's birthday was a day filled with support, love, friends, and family.  But I know firsthand how quickly that support can stop.  I understand as well as anyone that life is busy, we get caught up in day to day strife, and for YOU life will move on.  Today and everyday forward, the most I can hope for Holly is that she finds the support she needs and wants.  

Mommy & Cullen

Holly's and her friend Kelly have done an absolutely beautiful job of keeping the blog "Carrying Cullen" up to date throughout the journey.  If you would like to learn more about Cullen, the Tusings, and see an example of super-human emotional strength and faith - please visit

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where I've Been?

Not that my little spot is the most popular place on the Internet, but I feel like after 28 days of radio silence you all deserved some sort of explanation.  I wish I had an exciting announcement, something fun to share with you all, but I don't.  

I've spent many evenings being thoughtful. About my soldier who is finally home, about my relationships with friends & family, and myself too.  There have been several days of working outside, working inside, and making strides in this little home of ours.  There have also been days of great sadness.  I had one of the most difficult days on the anniversary of my mommy's passing, and while I am thankful I had amazing family to spend the evening with, it was hard.  

There are a few blog posts waiting to be edited, and I hope that I'll be back with some kind of regular posting schedule soon.  For now, I hope you'll stick around to hear more about this little house and what is going on with our life this fall. 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hubby Turns 30!

Heck yes! My amazing husband turned 30 in July, and it was party time in the Gehman household! He didn't want some big crazy event, and after less than 6 weeks in our new house - I was in no shape to host.  So, the Phillies hosted for me! 

We pulled together about 20 family members and friends and had a Phillies Tailgate party.  It was a test of my sanity and coordination at times, but we had plenty of food, plenty of beer, and a great time! Blueberry muffins were the breakfast food of choice since this shindig kicked off about 9am with our carpool into the K Lot! We grilled dogs and burgers, had condiments, pasta salad, and birthday brownies! Yes, we even sang happy birthday and made the birthday boy blow out a candle! A keg from Victory was the way to go, and for those that know my husband it was no surprise! 

 While I love these people, I couldn't afford to pay for every one's tickets - so I provided food, booze, and games and tickets were their choice.  Some people chose to buy real seats, and about 12 of us did SRO (that's Standing Room Only for you non-diehards).  SRO provided some great photos, and I'm not going to lie - these are some of my favorite moments of the day! 
Would I do it again?  In a heart beat!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homeownership - It's Official

 I have promised several people a recap of how our home purchasing process went, so here it is.  Now please remember that my feelings today are much different than they were the day we closed and the day we made our initial offer.  I have written and revised this post as my feelings and emotions changed, because it is better for all involved (mostly the damn banks).  

In July of 2012, a house came on the market in our dream neighborhood, it was big and had room to host family dinners, plus a two car garage, and less than an hour from my parents! It was a little out of our price range, but we kept our eye on it for several weeks.  

September 2012, our world came crashing down and I was in no place to look at houses, I just wasn't ready to move on.  Thankfully my awesome husband understood and we put things on hold. 

November 2012 - We decided we were ready, and began the pre-approval process for a mortgage, found a realtor in our area, and started to look.  Oh lord, did we look at some winners and some losers.  A few met every "cute" requirement but were impractical.  One was very safe (read: you looked at the police station from the front door), but had nothing else going for it.  No rush though, we had no home to sell and the timeline for leaving the rental was very flexible. 

December 1, 2012 - Kevin and I came home early from a weekend trip because the dream house was back on the market, and somehow within our price range.  Kevin had seen it pop up online, and while we were out of town my awesome cousin drove up to write down the agent's information so we could send it to our realtor. At the time, we didn't know it was a short sale, just that we were going to tour it on the first day back-on the market (with a new bank). The tour wasn't long, another couple came in just after us, and it was less than 24 hours before Kevin and I had costed out repairs, upgrades, and what we could afford.  Oh yes, we wanted this house - and badly.

December 3 - We put in an official offer with what seemed like a billion dollar deposit, every piece of paper I've ever touched, and finalized mortgage approval.  And then, we waited.  and waited. and waited.  It only took 4 days for the owners to accept our offer, and we thought we were done with the hard part.  Try again Jess, this was just the beginning. 

December 7 - May 1 - Yes, that would be 5 months of waiting, form completing, and wishing I could strangle BofA.  I've never had such strong feelings for a bank like I did during this process, but oh good lord.  Even after being approved by our bank and our agents bank, BofA had their own approval process that Kevin and I had to meet.  After e-signing almost 40 documents, the bank then decided that for 2013, they were no longer accepting e-signs and Kevin and I had 24 hours to physically sign the documents and fed-ex them to California.  That might work for normal people, but remember I work days, my husband works nights, and I think our Real Estate Agent was ready to throw us overboard.  About once a week (or more), BofA would need us to read and sign something.  And then send it back within 24 hours.  Some things I understood, others seemed frivolous and confusing.  Just sell us the house, we know it's vacant, we know you don't want to own it! Cue, frustration - tears - anger - and disappointment.

May 1 - We finally get a settlement date, all of the paperwork is signed, and Kevin and I are headed to Home Depot.  You see, we had only given ourselves about 2 weeks from our May 17 settlement date to our move-in date of 5/25.  That meant we needed to order and get the carpet measured right away.  Carpet is measured and ordered within 24 hours, and the order is also placed for two new french doors to replace the rotting ones that don't really lock (oh yeah, this house was a real winner).

May 16 - we are supposed to close tomorrow - I am mostly packed at the townhouse, parents and family are ready to help, and my phone rings.  The owners and their agent missed a portion of some document that stated they needed to bring $5,000 to closing.  They don't have $5,000 - we aren't closing tomorrow and BofA is considering walking away.  This means Kevin and I have spent 5 months planning for this house, we are packed and ready to move, we bought carpet and doors, and might lose this house.  How is it fair that we might lose the house because the seller's agent didn't read properly?! Our agent attempts to find a middle ground - Can she pitch in the money; Can Kevin and I split the cost with her; something.  Did we really want to spend another five thousand dollars, no - but we also weren't sure that five thousand dollars was worth walking away over.  Not that there was much time, BofA gave us 24 hours. Commence an exhausting, stressful, and sleepless night.  

May 17 - We aren't closing today, but they have moved closing to next Tuesday, the 21st.  Well - I don't get my hopes up this time, and we enjoy the weekend with family.  Except every time I see something in my parent's house, I think - Oh that would look so cute above the door in the new house, Ugh.  Maybe, if we have a new house?

May 21 - The good news is, our phones didn't ring last night and we haven't been cancelled yet.  Except our agent is out of town on vacation, so who the hell knows what is going on.  But seriously, it happens.  We get the keys, sign our lives away, and head for home.  Head for home at 2pm, and Kevin has to leave for work at 2:30.  Oh yes, let the joys of second shift home ownership begin.

*whew - if you made it all the way to the end, you are a saint. *

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fast Any Night Dinners

After requests from a few friends, here are 6 of my favorite quick dinner ideas.  These friends somehow think I've got my sh*t together, which is flattering and an enormous joke all at the same time.  After living with two men, working late evenings, and hubs who needs re-heatable dinners (for 3 - 11), we've gotten our fair share of successes and failures.
  • Fake chicken parm
  • Chili and cornbread
  • Chicken Caesar salads
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches 
  • Frittata & Toast
  • Enchiladas 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is 27 Too Old to Play Dress-up?

Kevin and I visited friends that live in the Bloomsburg area (for those of you not from PA that's here). 
Anyway, while we were there we made a trip to the mall to check out a kid's museum/activity center.  And let me tell you, it is possible that the 27 and 29 year old (that would be Kevin & I) had as much fun as the two year old.  Because really - when she tells you to put on the hard hat, you do it. 


Love you little one!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Breakfast Food Obsession

Time to come clean about my obsession.  Breakfast food.  I could eat some form of "breakfast" three meals a day and never get tired of it.  Pancakes, French Toast, Waffles, Eggs - I'm not picky, really.  

I mostly blame this on my mom, because she loved to make breakfast for dinner - breakfast at noon on a Sunday, any excuse for Brunch or "Brinner" was a win in our house! I think if Kevin realized how often I eat breakfast for dinner while he's at work he might be shocked, but what he doesn't know can't hurt him, right? It just seems so easy to mix up two eggs and some vegetables in a pan and make an omelet - one dish (maybe two if I use a real plate vs paper), and a spatula! Waffles are a bit more complicated, but I have gotten really good at making a batch of 20 and then freezing them.  So, a few mins in the oven and some syrup - DINNER! It's also a great excuse to drink coffee with my dinner, something I usually struggle to validate. 

Case in point... iPhone food photography at it's finest (completely kidding, I am not a food blogger or a food stylist and my food only looks pretty when Instagram filters are applied). 

So, when your husband (or significant other) is away, what is your go-to food?!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Trips I'd Love to Take

Money & PTO were not an issue, these are the top 7 vacation destinations on my list! (Note: these are all within the States, I'll save international goals for another post. 

1. Vegas - Gambling, Shows, Hoover Dam (I am such a nerd)
2. Alaska - wildlife, glaciers, Juneau
3. Hawaii - yes please
4. Texas - friends, scenery, the ALAMO
5. Yellowstone - hike all day, drink all night
6. Colorado - Denver/Breck/Vail - I cannot ski, but I'm okay with that.
7. Maine - Lobster. Hiking. Relaxation. Jordan Pond.

Yellowstone - Courtesy of

Out of that list, I've only ever done Maine before.  And that is a trip I would take every year if I could - the peace, the hiking, the LOBSTER, oh yes please.  My parents chose to do Hawaii on their own about 15 years ago, and I can't blame them.  With my geo-geek dad, they had a wonderful time exploring volcanoes, taking helicopter rides, etc.  I feel like people are shocked that I am 28 and have never been to Vegas, but when you turn 21 after the rest of the planet, everyone had already done Vegas.  And, I somehow don't have any friends living there (hello, hospitality industry?!).  Don't worry though, I'll make Kevin take me soon enough.  

We've been talking about taking a cruise (another thing I've never done), and an Alaskan cruise sounds like so much fun!  Texas is on the list mostly because one of my bests lives there - and I would love to visit her and that ginormous state! The rest are just trips on my list - ones that I would love to take with my husband, and do our usual.  Our usual being, the cheapest means of travel, finding a hotel that I can use my wonderful Hilton Employee Discount at, and taking a billion photos.  Kevin and I both have the same travel style - we need a little down time, some historical options, outside activities, and great food!  
This is my idea of heaven.. Hello South of France

How about you - what are your dream trips?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Homeownership - What We Bought/Got

After 3 1/2 years of marriage and two rentals - we finally bought a house.  Except this isn't just any house, it's the FOREVER house.  Both my parents and my in-laws still live in the homes we grew up in.  Kevin's parents moved into their house when he was two and mine moved into our house three years before I was born.  And while I understand that jobs may change, emergencies arise, etc - Kevin and I both LOVED growing up in the same house our entire childhood.  And it's nice now too, to go back to the same home that we learned to walk in, tie our shoes, and got ready for every first and last day of school.  

We have a long way to go with this crazy house, and a few projects already completed that will grace this blog over the next few weeks.  But for the time being, here are the basics! 
  • Two story home, built in 1988
  • Our dream development - the same one my Aunt & Uncle have lived in for 22 years
  • Great school district, close to shopping, parents, and work 
  • Walking distance to a park with tennis courts, basketball courts, a pond, running trail, etc. 
  • Four bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, a living room, sitting room, dining room, and eat-in kitchen
  • My husband's dream 2 car garage, and a small shed for outdoor toys
I've got a few photos ready to go, but we'll stick with recapping the downstairs for now.  I'll tackle the upstairs in a whole different post so as to not overwhelm you with the mess we purchased.

After looking back at some of these pictures, I'm not feeling so bad about the current state of our house! We've officially lived here for the entire summer (Moved in Memorial Day Weekend), and it feels more like "home" and "ours" with every little project!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Life Update

I know I've pretty much fallen off the face of the blogging world, and I've been okay with that for a while.  Doing my best to maintain my sanity, find a work-life balance, and get my mental status together has been hard. I know there will always be good days and bad days, but I'm trying to still find that point where there are more good days than bad.   I have such amazing friends IRL, but struggle with calling them when shit really sucks.  I know they will be supportive, but no one wants to be the Debbie Downer 100% of the time, and I feel like that is where my brain is stuck.  I was having a wonderful day last Wednesday and did something that was just so "Mom" and while it made me smile, I just could not kick the funk for the rest of the day. 

This is Ella, my best friend's baby. SO CUTE!

Now, that is not to say that there haven't been some good things in my life.  I'm trying to get on a better eating/cooking schedule for myself and for Kev.  With him working 3 - 11, he is NEVER home for dinner during the week.  I get discouraged quickly when I am the one cleaning, cooking, shopping, prepping, etc.  So, since I hate to grocery shop, I'm making Kevin go with me on Sunday evenings.  We make a list, make a meal plan, and shop.  It's not glamorous, but running errands with him is much nicer than running them alone.  So, I only get stuck cooking, cleaning, and eating by myself two or three nights a week - much better than 5! Added bonus is that I've actually lost 5lbs, and I don't know many people that will complain about that! 

Also, my dad took us skydiving.  And yes, the skydiving was an amazing experience and I can't wait to go back.  It was fun and exciting, and to get to do that with Kevin and my dad was the absolute best! But, even better than skydiving was this amazing friend we made.  Victoria was our instructor and she is AMAZING.  Patient, and a little crazy - so informative and reassuring.  She lives close to my work and in the last week we have developed an awesome friendship! How lucky am I to have made such a great friend doing something so cool? 

Prepping for one wedding shower while planning travel for 3 weddings all within 7 weeks of each other plus the wedding we're just now dress shopping for = insanity.  I've actually got an individual folder/binder/box for some of these weddings because i am so nervous I'm going to royally screw something up.  Wish me luck on that part - even my level of organization is taking a hit here.  While my poor bank account also takes a beating, let me tell you.  Planning one bridal shower across the state (that's in 2 weeks); attending a wedding in NC (that's in October); then two weeks later a wedding in Pittsburgh; then the November wedding; and then the big trip to Washington (the state of, not DC) in January.  My head is spinning.  Party central. 

Okay, off to find my sanity.  Again.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lifeway Summer Challenge

I was so excited to find out I had been selected to participate in Influenster's Summer Program with Lifeway! I'm not huge on purchasing products out of my comfort zone at the grocery store right now.  I think like most people, I am hesitant to spend $5 or $8 on a product that I might not like - who can afford to waste money like that?! 

I did receive the coupon for one free item courtesy of Influenster and Lifeway, but received no compensation for my review.  I JUST REALLY LIKED IT! I checked out the Lifeway website to see what products they had, and when I learned they had frozen kefir, it was well worth the trip to Wegman's.  On a regular basis I would probably be hesitant to make a special trip, but in this case it was worth it.  The Pomegranate and Strawberry flavors were all they had at Wegman's, but I am currently on the search for the Mango flavor as well! The frozen kefir was so smooth, and while it tasted a bit more like yogurt than most frozen yogurts, it was a great summer treat! 

Has anyone else tried any of Lifeway Kefir products? I'm not sure I am brave enough to drink my yogurt - but I'll take it as a frozen treat any day! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Talking - to myself, to mom, to this piece of paper.

I had a notebook that I used to keep notes in from Mom's doctors appointments while she was in treatment.  It served lots of purposes, but the most important one was so I didn't forget anything that WE wanted to ask the doctors.  It was easy to call or look-up drug information online, but not so easy to reach the doctors sometimes.  

That notebook sat unused for several weeks through October, and then right before November I picked it up again.  And for the last 8 months, I've used it as a journal of sorts, for things I would normally call, text, or email Mom about.  At first it was a little weird - but now it brings me peace.  I can throw out ideas, write my way through them, or just jot down some ideas for when I talk to her later.  So far there have been so many exciting things that I wish I could call to tell her - in addition to sad things, but that's not where I'm going with this.  I don't think I will ever share the pages of this journal or the ones that follow with anyone, that was never my goal.  If Kevin, or my kids, or my nosy little brother happen to read them - then so be it, but that's not the goal. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, even if you're not a writer (hello - I'm not), writing down your feelings can be almost as good as talking about them.  Sometimes it is tough to talk to friends and family about a touchy situation.  I know my mom would always help steer me towards the right decision, she was my moral compass and the one that could calm me down even in the worst of circumstances.  There is one situation in particular that has left me heartbroken, sad, and unable to come to terms with my thoughts more times than I'd like to admit and it stems from jealousy.  Yes, I know how terrible that sounds, and I am afraid it is only going to sound worse, but I need to let these feelings go. So okay Internet, here it goes.

I am jealous that some of my best friends are having babies and that their moms are there to see it, experience it, enjoy it.  Part of me can't believe I said that out loud, and part of me is relieved.  I am infinitely happy for these ladies - and their amazing kids - and wonderful husbands - and happy families.  But my heart is absolute overwhelmed at the realization that I'll never have a photo of my children and both of their grandmothers.   I know that no one means it menacingly, but I've spent a lot of time in my journal venting about how no one understands and how they don't appreciate their moms enough.  I sure did my fair share of bitching when Mom stuck her nose in my business, but I would give anything to have her do that now.  And the jealousy only gets worse when the people who get to enjoy these moments with their Moms then bitch about how Mom is all up in their business.  Please, pretty please, appreciate your Mom while you've got her.  Mommy, I'm so sorry for the probable thousands of times I didn't appreciate you enough. 

There is a part two to this post, that I've rambled about on twitter a little.  It comes back to the often-discussed topic of why everyone needs to stop asking women "when are you going to have kids?"  I discussed that one way back in February (see here) and still pretty much feel the same way I did then.  When we're ready. When my heart is ready.  When I can talk about her without crying, maybe then.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's Not Supposed to be This Way...

Today's post is dedicated to a wonderful friend of ours Holly, her husband Joe, and their un-born baby, Cullen.  

As I've spent the last 9 months wrapped up in my own sadness, grief, and despair I have learned a lot.  I have learned about myself, my friends, and what truly matters. There are many days where no condolences or hugs will make the pain any easier.  But there are also days where I forget the pain, and relish in the memories I have. I can only hope, that Holly's journey will lead her to the same place.  To the place where someday - the good days outnumber the bad.  You see, Holly, Joe, & Cullen are in the beginning stages of their life together, as Holly is just 22 weeks pregnant, and have received devastating news.  

Holly goes into more detail on the blog she has created Carrying Cullen, but Cullen has Anencephaly, a fatal neural tube defect.  This means so many things for their family, but most importantly means that these 9 months inside Holly will be much more time together than they will have after he is born.  I wouldn't have put this on the internet for everyone to read if I didn't think there was a purpose.  My purpose today, is brought to you via Holly - the most faith-based, God-trusting woman in my life.  Won't you please pray for them - send them good wishes - good vibes, whatever your heart leads you to do.  

I have grieved and cried for their family of three for the last two weeks, because this is not how life is supposed to work.  The parents are never supposed to bury their baby, and people as truly GOOD as Holly and Joe should never have to experience this type of pain.  For my good friends, for babies and families to come, please pray.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Embarrassing Christopher - Just A Hug

Please forgive me for the excessive mushy-ness of this post, but I needed to get this off my chest and a few tears on a Friday never hurt anyone.

While little brother is deployed, I've made list upon list of things I would love to do with him when he comes home.  Some are big things - like skydiving.  Some are little things - like a hug.  

When I think about all of the things that Chris and I have been, done, seen, experienced through the last 24 years together, that hug ranks high on my list.  When I was 6, or 16, I never would have said that.  But today, those hugs mark several defining moments in my life.  When I think about the 4 moments below, they are earmarked defined by that hug.  I don't remember "his hug" before our wedding - maybe it was then that I really learned to treasure those moments with him.  Or maybe it just took us both growing up and realizing how short life is to truly appreciate that need to Hold On to one another. 

Defining Hugs - Courtesy of Little Brother:
  1. Our wedding day - moments following the ceremony, when we all did our "omg we did it" happy dance, I grabbed that kid and hugged his slightly teary face. And he hugged me right back - us both having such big smiles, so thankful for each other in that moment. 
  2. Post Basic/Airborne - My dad was working second shift, so Mom and I went to the Philadelphia Airport to pick up Chris when he came home from Airborne for a few weeks of block leave.  Mom and Dad had seen him graduate from Basic, but it had been more than 4 months since I had seen his face.  He left just two days after Hug 1, and to see him in his camo glory come through those doors, oh my heart. There were tears all around (this seems to be a theme), and it felt so good to have him squeeze the breath out of me.
  3. The night we lost my mom.  There was nothing that could make me feel so safe, and so vulnerable.  I'll write this story here someday, but for now - I'll just say that this is one of those moments.
  4. Goodbye before Afghanistan - We had the greatest family trip to Ft Drum before Chris deployed to Afghanistan.  It was an action packed 3 days with Dad, Kev, Tommie, and I and I would not trade it for the world.  As we stood in front of Chris's barracks and got ready to load the cars, Dad took Chris and I both into his arms.  I can't even write this without crying, and truly cannot wait to have both Dad and Chris in my arms again - which can't come soon enough.
Post Hug-One
 There are certain aspects of growing up that I hate (hello bills), and some aspects of growing up that I love.  Learning to appreciate that little brother of mine, and knowing how important it is to remember moments like these - this part I love. 

Boy Wonder - I'll sign this blog post the same way I sign every card, every Facebook message, and every Skype session.  Be Safe, Head Down, Go with Purpose.  

Love Always, Big Sister 

Friday, May 17, 2013

In a Friday Funk (House - Part One)

Wouldn't you think I'd have learned my lesson about getting my hopes up at this point?  Nope, guilty again of getting my hopes up and heart set on a house, only to have those hopes dashed.  Womp, here is Part 1 of our crazy house story, because I am hoping against all hope (yep, here I go again) that there will be a happy Part 2 to share someday soon. 

September 2009 - Hubs & I get married, leave our slightly ghetto apartment, and move in with a friend in a great townhouse. Living situation is amazing - Hubs is working & going to school, there is no outside maintenance, and I am in charge of cooking, cleaning, etc while still having another person to split the bills with. 

Summer 2011 - We think we are maybe, finally, ready to buy a house.  We've got basic areas nailed down, know what area we're focusing on - Downingtown and have saved more money than we thought we would!  It fits the bill of having a cute downtown area, is home to Victory Brewing, and less than 45 minutes from both sets of parents, while still being less than 30 mins to work! *timebomb* Mom gets sick, house buying is cancelled - there is no way we can shop for a house, move, heck do anything but focus on my Mom. 

November 2012 - Not loving the whole roommate situation so much anymore, really not loving the 70 minute drive to and from my dad's house several days a week.  Decide we'll make it through Thanksgiving and then hit house hunting with all we've got. 

December 1, 2012 - Come home early from a visit with friends because our dream house, in the dream neighborhood, perfect school district, and 35 mins from Dad is on the market - as a short sale - and even in our price range.  Okay, we'll figure out the short sale business, understand the basics about the time frame and the waiting process.  Time to prep an offer - even though this dream house has god awful carpet, a blue bathtub, shell shaped sink (say that 3 times fast), and some UGLY light fixtures. 

December 5, 2012 - Offer is owner accepted, happy dance! Except this is only the beginning.  From 12/5/12 to 4/1/13 (that would be 4 months) we responded to and wrote 219 emails, and bent over backwards to adhere to a 24 hour response time for everything the short sale bank requested.  

April 4, 2013 - Holy crap, we've got everything signed.  That giant PDF is the acknowledgement to our agreement of sale! Time to schedule (quickly) our inspections and chose a closing date that works for the 8 people that need to be there.  Inspections are scheduled within 8 days, we are comfortable with what we find, and are all in. Closing date set for (today) May 17, 2013 - the perfect house will be ours. 

dream backyard - fenced for the future puppy!
May 15, 2013 (7:30pm) - Our realtor calls, closing needs to be delayed because of "issues out of our control".  That's my polite way of saying - damn this bank, the sellers agent, and life. And now, we wait.  We wait to see if the sellers can hold-up their end of the deal, if the bank really wants to sell this house - or if they're going to sit on it until it falls into foreclosure. And we wait, with our house full of boxes - only 6 work outfits, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of pajamas in the mix.  Our dishes are packed, there is virtually no food in the house, and bathrooms are cleaner than they've been in months.  

I'll leave this the same way I called out to the Facebook world for help.  If you're the prayer type, could you please pray that this works out?  A house of our own, somewhere to make new (happy) family memories, is what my heart needs right now. 

P.S. - if you tell me that my Mom is looking out for me and that everything will work how it is supposed to, I might smack you.  Regardless if that is the truth, this Saturday (5/25) is her birthday and I had this crazy plan to plant a tree in her honor at our new house.  Cue, tears.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I just hit 'mark as read'

 I always catch-up with bloglovin' after a few crazy days and some minor OMG moments when my unread count reaches 800. But today and yesterday, I found myself hitting 'mark as read' because it hurt too much to read your posts. So many old you had lovely Mothers Day brunches and lunches and gifts from your kids. My Mother's Day breakfast was with Daddy and Hubs, and a little lonely. I bought Mommy a pretty orange flower and planted it at her grave. I told her how much I loved her still, smiled as hubs reminded me that even in death, moms grave is overlooking her own mother's - the one she always kept an eye on. Many friends called on Sunday, and similarly to how I wasn't ready to read your posts, I wasn't ready for their condolences either. This will hopefully be the hardest Mother's Day, but I can say I'm proud of myself for surviving and visiting some oh so lovely and special ladies. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Fell Off the Bandwagon...

All of my great goals and intentions to stick with the Blog Everyday in May Challenge were derailed by life.  I am behind in pretty much every aspect of my life at the moment - would you like to see what aspects those are? No - well tough shit, my blog, my lists.

1. Packing - We close on our new home in 8 days.  Approximately 10% of the basement is packed.  Booze is not safely ready to travel, Christmas decorations are stored precariously, and I have no idea what may be stored behind a dresser that hasn't moved since we got here. The only clothing I have packed is the t-shirts I'm making into a t-shirt quilt. Oh crap, I need to figure out how to pack craft supplies. And the kitchen - I haven't even begun - as in, I don't even have paper to wrap the breakables in. 

2. Dad - I have not actually seen my dad in two weeks.  I feel awful, but #1 needs to come first right now, and I know he understands.  I just don't have two hours every night to spend on the road driving home.  I call almost everyday, and he sounds good.  I'm comforting myself that we'll see him Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and are having a sleepover that will likely involve old timey movies. 

3. Friends - Yeah... I text them. That's about all I've got.  Oh, and I did go see one friend on Tuesday night, but I unceremoniously made her buy Chinese food b/c I had been working on #1 and it was 8pm and I hadn't eaten. Other than that, it's been too long. But #1 and #2 seem to come before friends.  This damn house better be worth it. 

4. Work - oh for the love, I'm not even going to bore you with this.  It's a mess, it is stressful, and I am seriously behind in just about everything on my list.  I needed to take Tuesday off for my sanity, but am afraid it will be Friday before I am caught back up. 

Anyway - today (the day you're reading this at least) is Thursday.  I am going to leave work before 6pm (please interweb people, hold me to this), finish the chair I am recovering, and catch-up on the blog world.  Because I obviously need to blog myself (I'm only 4 days behind on the challenge) and my Bloglovin currently has 854 unread posts.  Now, because I can't end a post without any entertainment or you people won't come back - check this out:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Blog Every Day #4

Prompt number four from Jenni was to write about our favorite quote. It took only a few minutes to chose this one since it has always been my favorite!

Framed on my desk at work and also in my collage in our bedroom is:

'Surround yourself with the dreamers, the doers, the believers, and the thinkers but most of all surround yourself with those that see the greatness within you even when you don't see it yourself." -- Edmund Lee

This is the quote that I can always relate to my personal and professional life, for inspiration and motivation. A reminder to see the best in myself is always helpful and keeps me headed in the right direction! The notion that there is always someone or someones that will be 'your person' can be just the necessary pick-up on a particularly bad day. Having some trouble uploading it, but I have a printable PDF that I made last year to share. Look for that on Sunday :).

I can't wait to see what everyone else's favorite quotes are! I'm excited to add some more influential ones to my collection!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Every Day in May - 3 (uncomfortable)

Prompt of the Day - Things that make you uncomfortable.  

Well, seeing as how I don't have a whole month to write this post, I'm going to do my best to keep this list to 5 items.  Five seems fair, right? I felt like ten would make me seem crazy. Eh, maybe I should just embrace the crazy. 

Slightly uncomfortable - PDA.  I have no problem with a kiss goodbye or hello.  I have no problem with holding hands, or even the occasional shoulder rub.  However, the 12 year olds approaching third base at the mall - I would really like to remove you from each other before you get arrested. 

Very uncomfortable - PDA with someone other than your significant other.  This is the only one where I will actually act on the situation (as much as the 12 year olds make me uncomfortable, I'm not getting in the middle of that sh*t). If you are in a relationship, seriously dating, married, living together, etc - you had damn well better not be in a compromising situation with another person.  If you don't have the balls to tell your significant other that you "want out", then go park your hiney at home until you can grow some. If I don't know you well enough to get in the middle, I will probably just excuse myself from the situation in an attempt to get the hell outta there. 

Outrageously uncomfortable - Money.  I would prefer not to know how much money you make, how much your monthly car payment is, or to be honest - how much you tip at the bar.  This is one of those private items that is better for you, your significant other, and your accountant to figure out.  

I can't wait to see what makes other people uncomfortable.  I seriously considered writing Wal-Mart underwear for this list, but thought that might be overly personal.  I also considered writing about people that are getting married but a terrible couple together, but also decided that might be inappropriate. Oh hell, my whole life is inappropriate. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Every Day in May - 2

Welcome to Day Two of the Every Day in May Link-Up! Today's prompt is "educate us on something you know alot about or are good at".  I'm feeling a little "braggy" writing about myself - did anyone else feel this way or am I just really awful at singing my own praises? 

I decided the thing I am best at is showing my affection and caring for others. I think this aspect of my life falls into three main categories - Deployment, Celebration, and Birthdays/Anniversaries.  

The one that requires the least amount of financial and time commitment is Birthdays/Anniversaries.  Following in my mom's footsteps, I keep my planner organized with the birthdays, anniversaries, etc of important friends and family members.  The first year I did this, it took a bit of organization (and a little Facebook stalking) - but now, a quite note when a new baby is born, or a friend gets married is all it takes.  I will admit that Dollar Store cards and the remainder of my collection of Christmas stamps are what I usually use.  But really, I try to focus on the fact that "it is the thought that counts". 

Celebrations are my second favorite way to show recognition to our friends and family! A well packaged bridal shower, wedding, or baby gift can go a long way.  Because of my work schedule, and family commitments, I miss more of these type of events than I would like to admit.  I do my best to stick to a fair budget for each shower, and a quality basket, ribbon, and well presented gift can create quite an impression.  I want the bride, or mother to be, to know that while I am so sorry to not be there in person, that I put all of my effort into purchasing, wrapping, and delivering/shipping the perfect gift for them. 

The last thing I pride myself on, is packing a quality deployment care package! I've got more than two years of experience with this one and have learned SO MUCH during that time.  Thanks to the wonders of the Dollar Tree, there is a "theme" for every month throughout the year! Even a twenty something man can embrace a March St. Patrick's Day box when it is full of silly green glasses, chocolate "gold coins", and Lucky Charms! Sometimes the little things are the most important in these boxes (like the celebration one above), moreso even than the expensive requests.  In Chris's case, these little items are tshirts, books, or food 
that Kevin and I will pick-up while we are on vacation, at Shady Maple, wherever.

Last Year's Easter Box - Peeps & Tastykakes on their way to Korea!  
My bff for all of the above packages - is my love of all things that the USPS can ship via a flat rate box and an International Customs Form. No top secret information here, but showing my love and continued support of friends and family is what I hope will be something I can always be remembered for.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Every Day in May - 1

I'm jumping into this one just one day late.  Thanks to Jenni at Story of My Life for hosting what is already an incredibly popular link-up!  The prompt is "the story of your life in 250 words or less" . 

I will admit that I was hoping for something very easy to start and this prompt was quite a bit challenging. 

An unremarkable lifestyle was the basis for the first 18 years of my life.  I had an amazing mother, she was creative, fun, and loving.  My overly technical dad could make any dinner conversation require an encyclopedia and is the reason I love the chemistry in baking and learned to pole-vault thanks to physics.  I grew up with a bratty little brother who ate my Barbie shoes, colored on my NKOTB posters, and let me use him as a speed bump for our Jeep.

My college years were bookended by an awkward Freshman year and a drunk-ass Senior year.  There were some years there in the middle (two to be exact), where I met two of my best friends, somehow convinced a coach I was good enough for collegiate athletics, and kept my head above water enough to graduate with honors.  Maybe I should also admit that I graduated from IUP – also known to my father as I Usually Party.

(I about fell over typing this next sentence) I graduated from college SIX years ago, and somehow found a job for a small but amazing company where no less than four members of our Accounting Staff act like my mother on a daily/weekly basis.  My personal life has both flourished and crashed, with my marriage to Rockstar hubs, pride in my brother’s service to our country, and the loss of my mom.  Purchasing our new home, with the closing date just two weeks away is our newest adventure!