Grief at 4 months

11.30.2011

Today marks 4 months since my Mom passed away from brain cancer.  I am not looking back to read what I wrote about month 3 or month 2  until after I write this post because I want to honestly write about this month only.  I remember fighting with B a lot around this time last month and literally not being able to get out of bed on the month-iversary of her death last month.  This month was calmer.  A duller pain, I suppose. 

Thanksgiving was hard.  I cried in the shower a lot last week.  Imagining my family back in California celebrating Thanksgiving without my Mom was really hard.  It was a sad time for me but picturing them together trying to find a new sense of normalcy was heartbreaking for me.  Of course, I felt a bit sorry for myself to have to celebrate it alone but at least I could sort of get lost in the strangeness of living in a hotel and sharing the Thanksgiving meal with strangers.


When we found our that our offer was accepted on the house, we were at the mall.  B walked away to chase Eva around and I broke down in tears.  Not the wipe the corner of your eyes kind of tears but the ones where your entire face contours and contorts and it is all you can do to hold in the whimpering that is begging to escape.  My Mom would have been so proud of us purchasing our first home together, all on our own.  I really felt (feel) like I need her here to help us with all of these huge, life-altering decisions and the stress compounds the sadness.  I hate that I can't share these moments with her. 

I expect this next month to be very similar to this one.  Christmas is inevitably going to be difficult.  Getting into our new home is going to be difficult.  I've heard that this whole first year is going to be difficult.  At four months in, I feel stable.  But still very sad. 

**comments have been turned off for this post**

A cuddly story


No words are necessary. My daughter is a lucky, lucky girl.

Calling all Military Wives

11.29.2011

I want to go back to featuring some of my fellow military spouses on a weekly basis.  I want to highlight you, where you are stationed, and your blog.  If you are interested in being featured on my blog, send me an email.

Look foward to hearing from you!

HandlingWithGrace@gmail.com

An accidental city tour- Washington D.C.

11.28.2011

On Saturday we took a drive to IKEA.  I wanted to stop by a Goodwill store on the way home.  I have a confession.  I don't buy used things.  I don't go to Goodwill stores and I don't go to garage sales.  I don't know why.  I'm not skeeved out by used things.  I guess, maybe, it's because my Mom didn't shop used stores when I was growing up and I don't remember her ever stopping at garage sales.  I have wandered into thrift stores a few times and never had much luck.  But, as we were explored IKEA and refreshed our feelings of being overwhelmed by how much "stuff" we need, I asked my husband to drive us to a Goodwill store to check out the bargains to see if it really is a viable option.

We took a wrong turn and ended up in Washington D.C.  It was a pleasant surprise.  We have been so busy purchasing our home, we have not ventured out to explore DC even though it is only a 20 minute drive away.  Our little mistake allowed us to drive straight through the city and see most of the sights- without ever leaving the comfort of our car.
 
We saw block after block of colorful row houses.  A lot of the neighborhoods surrounding the Capitol were surprisingly run down but the ones that were not run down were fantastic.



The Capitol Building

Lot's of people participating in the Occupy DC movement.  We saw a couple different tent cities set up around the city center.  Lots of tents.  Lots of hippie looking twenty and thirty somethings.  Some signs. 





As we passed each massive, gorgeous building, we craned our heads to read the writing on the side of each building...  "Oh, look!  The Patent Building!  Cool!"...

The Washington Monument


Obviously a self-driven tour is a sub par way to experience DC but it was nice none the less.  It was a good reminder that we need to get out and explore our new city. 

Speaking of used crappola, we stopped by an "estate sale" yesterday.  It was close to the used car that we were going to look at (yes, not only are we in the process of buying a house but we are in the process of buying a used car too), so we stopped by- not know what to expect.  Neither of us had ever been to an estate sale.  It was awesome.  We bought a ladder (on the must buy list), dust buster (must have for keeping our hotel room clean), knit scarf, knit elf hat for Eva, adorable costume jewlery necklace, 2 paint sprayers, and a scale (because I have been obsessing about how much weight I have gained in the past few weeks).  Guess how much it all cost?  $18 bucks.  Boo-yah.  Amazing.  On the agenda for next weekend?  Estate sales.

Getting closer, time for a dose of reality

11.26.2011

We had the home inspection and we are still moving closer to getting the house.  After having the home inspected and finding a few minor issues, we submitted an addendum asking the sellers for a credit to fix the issues that the inspector found.  Now we are waiting... seems like when you're in the home buying process, there is a lot of that; hurry up then wait.  But, now that it is getting so real, and we are most likely going to close on this house, I am starting to worry.  What am I going to fill this house with?


Our new house needs three sets of couches (family room, formal living room, and basement)... we have one set. It has 4 bedrooms.  We are going to use the fourth room as an office... but we don't have a desk.  We have 1,000sq/ft downstairs in the basement to fill with a pool-table, bar, fooz-ball, poker table, etc... but we have none.  We have a huge garage to fill with tools to help with home improvement projects... but we have none (only car tools- not house tools ie saws etc).


I have been scouring pinterest for do-able projects and home design ideas.  There are hundreds of beautiful interiors that I could 'pin' pretending like I am going to use them for inspiration.



Let's get real.  All of those beautiful sparkling white interiors are unrealistic.  I have a messy baby and a 85 pound hyperactive dog.  White isn't going to work. 




Putting 20% down on this home has pretty much wiped our savings account out.  It is definitely down to a point where I don't feel comfortable taking the money out to furnish the home the way that we would want to.  So, as much as I would like to pretend like we are going to have so much fun decorating and furnishing this home, the reality is that it is going to have empty areas and some bare walls for a while.  I am looking on craigslist more than furniture stores.  And those amazing rooms on pinterest are not going to show up in our home...  At least not until I find a job!

Grateful

11.24.2011

Today, I am struggling to stay positive. I am so thankful for my smart, verbal, always dancing daughter. I am so thankful for my hard working husband who supports me in every way. I am thankful that I have the OPPORTUNITY to be stressed out about purchasing our home. I am thankful that my body is strong and healthy and the same can be said for everyone else in my little family. I am thankful for all of my sisters and Dad who are celebrating together today along with the rest of my family in California. I am grateful that I have so much more than I could ever need. I want for nothing, really.

I am thankful. I am also sad. I miss my Mom and I wish she wasn't dead. It is hard to be positive and enjoy the holiday when my heart is so full of sadness about my Mom.

For my husband and daughter's sake I am going to hide my tears and suck it up and enjoy this day of thankfulness.

Happy Thanksgiving to us all.

Are people really this stupid?

11.23.2011


In an attempt to escape this cage hotel room, we headed over to the mall yesterday to pick up a few more sweaters.  As soon as we entered, we saw this little row of cute, bright green carts for shoppers to push around their little bundle of joy.

One the back of each cart there is a little bag.



The ridiculousness is self-explanatory.

Ps- let's keep in mind that the idiot that needs the helpful reminder that his kid is supposed to ride in the front seat of the cart and not the little bag on the back IS THIS KIDS CARETAKER.  Jeez.

Time and worries

11.22.2011

My sweet baby is 18 months old.  She is big and strong.   She is wild and silly. I can hardly believe how time has flown by.  I can hardly remember life before her.  When I think back to life before her, I am almost embarrassed about how lame it, or maybe I, was.

When I look at that picture, it seems like a life time ago.  I had a new baby that I didn't know how to take care of.  I did not have clue how to be a Mom and I questioned every move I made.  I lived in paradise with the love of my life.  We had a simple existence.  My only worries were about keeping my baby alive and hopefully helping her to thrive.  Every worry that I had was solved by my Mom's wisdom, nursing experience, and kind, tough love.  I had a Mom.
Here we are.  My baby is hardly a baby anymore.  I don't have a Mom anymore.  We bought our first house.  We live half way across the world in a cold, dark place.  My worries have expanded exponentially.  I have lots of worries.  And no Mom.

The realtor called

11.21.2011

And the verdict is.....

WE GOT IT!  


We are so excited that we are going to be home owners.  As soon as we got the call, we ran out to our new favorite store


Lowes.  

We walked around until we got totally overwhelmed and ended up leaving empty handed.  Well, two of the three of us left empty handed.  Eva, on the other hand, did not.  She stole us a role of neon teal painters tape. While i certainly don't condone her shoplifting, I'm hoping thst if she wants to be rebellious and try shoplifting again, she makes it worth while and steals Mommy one of those new stainless, fingerprint resistant fridgerators.  

Done hunting and now we wait

11.20.2011

House hunting was fairly painless.  I am pretty sure we are our realtor's easiest clients ever.  We spent most of the day of driving through all of the neighborhoods surrounding the base.  There was one house that really stuck out in our minds.  


First off, she is huge.  5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms on over a third of an acre (15,000+ sq/ft lot) with a huge two tiered deck off the back, a 1,000 foot finished basement. and huge oversized two car garage.  There is a jacuzzi on the deck, jacuzzi tub in the master, and mature trees on the property.


It is also located within a convenient 15 minute drive to base on a lovely cul-de-sac.

It was kind of hard to really imagine ourselves in the home because the woman (I'm assuming it was the woman) was a HOARDER.  Not quite as bad as the ones that they show on TLC but she probably was before she put the house on the market.  There were entire rooms filled up with boxes and bags of clothes and toys.  Probably half of the basement was stuffed knee high with old toys and kid stuff.  

Side note: walking through other people's houses is really weird.  I felt the need to profile every family as we walked through each house (oh look the daughter moved out of this room recently.  I bet she left for college because she is that age, all of her clothes are gone but the rest of her stuff is still here, and all of her photo books are strewn across the floor.  Only half of the Dad's bed is unmade.  The whole house is decorated in 1980's blue/pink bunnies except for the couple random Corvette posters.  His wife either left him and walked away from the house the way she decorated or she passed on.  Sad.  The Dad must feel like the house is too big now that both his daughter and his wife are gone...  Yeah, I used that much critical thinking to try to figure out that much detail).  Also, one of the houses that we went through was an Officer who worked for the National Security Administration.  He had small, "secret"ish cameras set up all over the house taping us as we walked through. 

We put an offer in on the house yesterday.  The seller's agent is meeting with them today at 4pm to go over our offer.  We offered full price but are asking them to pay the closing costs.  Our agent said it is a fair offer so I am hopefully optimistic.

If all goes well, we will be moving in our new monster house on December 28.  By that time, we will need all of that extra room since we are still going to be staying in a hotel room until then.  Can you say stepping on each other's toes?  

Cross your fingers they agree with our price and we can move forward with the inspections!

House hunting

11.18.2011

Yesterday was day one of house hunting.  We were introduced to a realtor through Housing on base.  I wasn't initially in love with her but we set up an appointment to look at houses for a few days later.  B then checked in his new command and his new boss introduced him to the realtor that she just used.  We met with the new realtor yesterday and saw a few houses.  We are going to look at houses all day today too.

I didn't know how to break up with realtor #1 so I texted her and said that we wouldn't be able to meet with her because my husband got cold feet about buying.  Sorry.  She has called three times and texted 9 texts since then.  The loan guy has also called 3 times, emailed twice, and texted once.  OMG.  Awkward.

House hunting is exciting but frustrating.  There is so much on the market here in Maryland that we can afford.  Too many options perhaps.  You know what they say about raccoons?  That they are attracted and obsessed with shiny things?  My husband is the same way.  He is more attracted to a sparkly poop than a nice, solid (slightly outdated, old people wall papered) house.  He sees cheap upgrades and is turned on.  I see cheap upgrades and the over-inflated price tag.

We are staying in a hotel until we purchase a home so the pressure is on.  Imagine a small hotel room with a few large suitcases, a wild, often whiny 18 month old, my husband, and me all crammed in.  The pack and play is next to the front door so she can't see us as she whines herself to sleep.  On top of the couch sits our overstuffed suitcases.  There is not enough room and very little consistency.  We are all ready to get settled and gain a sense of normalcy.

Wish us luck as we navigate this cluster!

PS- we are supposed to meet our new realtor at 10am to start looking at houses.  She said she would text us in the morning with the address of the first house to meet at.  It is now 9:40am.  No text yet.  Did she break up with us?  Is this karma for screwing the first one?!

What I'm loving

11.16.2011

I do realize that my blog has been both boring and ugly for the past week during our move. I apologize for that but I'm blaming my husband. He locked me out of his MacBook and my computer is packed away. POS ipad's don't have plugger inners for the card reader so I cant download (upload?!?) any pictures.

We are settled in at a hotel in Annapolis. It is really gorgeous here. Fall is prettier than I imagined it being. Maybe Hawaii was indeed missing out like so many of my military friends proclaimed (especially Lauren!). I didn't believe them having never experienced a real fall but perhaps, in fact, they were right.

Here is what I am loving right now
* the fact that my daughter is napping on time. Schedules and napping + road trip and hotels= epic FAIL. Now that we are settled (kind of) it's back to regular naps and bed time.

* making the final decision that we are going to purchase a home here instead of rent. There is so much to choose from and unlike our previous locations in Orange County and Hawaii, we can actually afford a nice place!

* having a place to go for Thanksgiving. I laughed when people asked where we were going for Thanksgiving and said, "Olive Garden" (my fave restaurant) pretending that it wasn't a shitty alternative because we don't have any friends yet in our new location. A guy that B met in school invited us to his girlfriends house for dinner.  SCORE!   I love Thanksgiving food and now that we have somewhere to go I don't mind saying that Olive Garden would have been a sub- par alternative.

* the wine glass that I stole from a hotel bar a couple hotels ago. It's much nicer drinking my nightly glass of wine from a glass as opposed to the little water cups they leave in hotel bathrooms.

* cable.  Hotels have cable.   I love cable.  Remember when I gave up cable so I would stop watching so much ridiculous reality tv?  Mamma's back. I. Love. It. All.

Fall & baby love

**Disclaimer: Thank you for your patience. The formatting and content on my blog are severely lacking due to our move. We finally made it to Maryland (omg Annapolis is AMAZING) but we are living in a hotel for a while. I will start blogging again soon.**

No words are needed.





Road trip day 5

11.14.2011


Our road trip is going wonderfully. Nashville was a pleasant success, like I already mentioned. We spent the last day in Asheville, North Carolina. It's a great little town tucked under the Smokey Mountains. It's a little pocket of old hippies, college kids, new agers, and gay families. The city has a great downtown/ city center filled with organic, vegetarian cafes, locally owned, fair trade shops, and organic, sustainable clothing stores. I haven't downloaded any pictures from my camera yet.

What have I learned so far on our (almost) cross country road trip?

1. Lots and lots and lots of people live in trailer homes.

2. My husband doesn't trust me to drive.
Me: why don't you let me drive? I can drive you know. I have my license.
Him: well, I'm not sure you should. You know, you haven't driven much since the big accident.
Me: what? I didn't get in an accident.
Him: I know but thats what they always say in racing movies.
Me: um, ok...
Him: no, it's fine. I'll drive.

3. Brother/ sister dynamics don't change (after watching my Aunt, Uncle, and Dad together). Annoying each other on purpose is just part of being siblings- even in your 50's.

4. Talk radio kicks music's ass during long road trips (thank you, Joe Rogan).

5. Dollywood in the Smokey Mountains costs $60/ person to get in. Come on, Dolly. I love you but not $120 worth.

6. I am so thankful we only have one kid right now. Eva is doing great on the trip but it would be a lot harder with an additional personality on board.

7. People listening to live music in the hotel bar area are not amused by a wound up 18 month old climbing all over the chairs and running up and down the stairs.

8. Having a tv in the car is worth whatever extra money we paid for it.

9. We are fairly out of touch having grown up in Southern California and Hawaii. Why are there big rolls of hay rolled up in the middle of the fields?

10. Basements are the shizz. California is really missing out. I am kind of sad I went 29 year without experiencing one. I want a killer basement in our next house.

Nashville

11.12.2011

We have spent the last few days in Nashville, Tennessee at my Aunt and Uncle's gorgeous home on the lake.  We explored downtown Nashville and walked through fabulous boot stores, ate Tennessee BBQ, and walked along the river front.  

My Dad surprised us by flying in from California to visit us.  We've been staying up late playing cards and listening to music.  





We took my Uncle's souped up golf cart around the amazing neighborhood and down to the water front where the boats are docked.  It was really cold but nice to enjoy genuine fall weather.



So far, so good.  We are enjoying ourselves thoroughly.  

And we're off

11.10.2011


I know, judging from this picture, it looks like we are headed to the Jersey Shore but, in fact, we are off to Nashville. We're stocked up on snacks, toys, and binkies for the 7 hour drive. We flipped her car seat forward so she can watch Sesame Street on the flip down tv.

13 hour road trip from Florida to Maryland sharing the car with a bossy 18 month old with well developed lungs and very little patience? The opportunity to listen to hour anfter hour of Sesame Street dvds through the cars sound system? Cross your fingers she doesn't make this the most miserable experience of our lives. **fingers crossed**

Another reason to celebrate

11.09.2011

It is important to me to create memories and traditions for my family. My family had a lot of traditions and as a Mom, I want to create as many happy memories for my daughter as humanly possible. I want her memory bank to be stuffed full of big and small memories of laughter, family, togetherness, fun and joy.

One tradition that I made up when my daughter was born is "half birthdays". We are going to celebrate half birthdays. On our half birthdays, presents are not going to be exchanged. It is intended to just be a special day for that person. They will get an extra big hug in the morning, a special note in their lunch box (ok, that is probably just for Eva since I don't make B a lunch box), and they get to choose what we eat for dinner. When she's older, I might take her for a manicure or a spa day on her special day.

So... Have I ever mentioned that my husband is extremely generous and if I mention that I really want something, he almost always just buys it for me? Remember when I mentioned that I wanted tall brown Uggs but I wasn't going to get them now since our car took a very expensive crap?

Well, He got me Uggs! Tall, brown Bailey Buttons! And so that I don't feel guilty (at all) about wearing them before Christmas, I am calling them my half birthday present.


Remember when I said that we aren't going to give presents on half birthdays? I love being a Mom and getting to make the rules up as I go to best suit my wishes! This year, I'm getting a present on my half birthday. Because I'm the Mom and I said so!

Who's the old lady in the mirror?

11.08.2011

How's your self-esteem doing today? Do you need another reason to feel like an old lady? A reminder of a years gone by? Remember this little sweetie?


The cute little boy, Ray, from the movie "Jerry Maguire". Well, he's 21 and he looks like this now.


Disclaimer: please excuse the formatting and content on the blog for the next week as we are moving across the country. I am packing my lap top away and blogging only from my trusty iphone and ipad.

Hello, my name is "Bad Guy"

11.07.2011

My daughter is only 18 months old but she already understands that Mom is the bad guy and Daddy will "save" her.  At each of the regularly scheduled nap/ night times, I approach her and say, "Eva, it's time for night night napper".  If her Dad is home, she bolts towards him and climbs up his legs as fast as possible, laying her head on his chest and glaring at me out of the corner of her eyes.  He coos at her, apologizing that we have to lay her down for a nap, and rubs her back.  I have to pry her from his arms.

She knows that Daddy gives her ice cream and Mommy gives her carrots.  She drags him through the house by his finger demanding that he follow her lead.  He complies.  She gleefully runs from him when he tries to change her diaper, knowing he will play her game.


I am already the bad guy.  I am the serious one.  The disciplinarian.  The pusher of the veggies and Hitler of nap schedules.  The one constantly trying to teach the 1, 2, 3's and colors and demanding correct verbalization while he just hands out cookies, cuddles, and smiles.

This will get increasingly more annoying and potentially damaging as she grows up.  Surely, as a teenager, she will be manipulative and ask her Dad for things after I've already said "no", knowing that he will give in if she smiles sweetly and calls him, "Daddy".  I am pretty sure she will definitely try to play us against each other so that the outcome is goes towards her favor.  I am fairly positive that he will explain to her that "WE can't because MOM said no" with an understanding nod and sneak her snacks when I send her to bed with no dinner for talking back at the table.


He is a total sucker for her.  He cannot say no.  All he cares about is her happiness.  He lives to see her smile.

...And I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Christmas list and hakuna matata

11.05.2011

I wrote a Christmas list post.  My husband is really good with presents.  He has good taste and always buys me things that I actually like.  Most years, I don't make a list because anything that I want, I usually just buy.  This year there are a few specific "special" things.  Perfect for a Christmas list. 

Tall brown Uggs

Burberry Giant Check Scarf

But then life got in the way of my Christmas list.

See this car?

This is our car.  The bow on it because it was my Christmas present two years ago when I was pregnant (sweet, right?!?!?).  The check engine lights were coming on.  My husband checked the code that it was pulling.  It was an air system code so he decided to take it to the dealership to have them look at it to determine what was going on.  There is no Lexus dealership in the area so he took it to the Toyota dealership.  Turns out that some air thing was broken.  $3500 later we have our car back.  And because it was at the Toyota dealership instead of a Lexus dealership it took them double the amount of time to fix it too!
.
We are driving our Christmas presents this year. 

One of the unexpected side effects of my Mom dying is the change in my thoughts about life and hardship.  Before my Mom died, I worried a lot about the future and saving and planning for a perfect future- even at the detriment to our current happiness.  We didn't go on on vacations so that I could put that money in our secondary savings account so we could put 20% on a downpayment for a house that we might not purchase for another 10 years.  We skipped taking trips home so that we could hurry to pay off my school debt that wasn't due for another 10 years.  I am the person who doesn't order a soda with dinners to save the $2.25.  I was so focused on saving and planning for the future that it was hard to make decisions that we could enjoy now.

Since my Mom died, I worry much less about trying to plan the perfect future.  Sometimes, arguably most times, we don't get to choose our future.  It happens.  This is not a dress rehearsal.  We only get one shot at life.  Scrimping, saving, stressing, saying no to life, making decisions from a place of fear.  No thank you. 

When we found out how much money it was going to cost to fix the car, my husband was really pissed/annoyed/upset.  After determining that we didn't have any other option (he couldn't fix it himself, they aren't ripping us off, etc), I just sighed and said, "OK.  No biggie".  My husband is like, "This sucks.  I did not want to spend all of this money on the car blah blah".  I reminded him that there are SO MANY worse things in life.  Having an expensive broken car is so far down the list of things that could go wrong in life, it doesn't even count.  Pretty much anything that could go wrong would be worse that this.   

HAKUNA MATATA

It's the little things: 7

11.04.2011

The countdown to our relocation to Maryland has begun.  In less than a week we will be making the long drive up north.  B graduated from his program.  Our car is at the dealership getting repaired (story for another day).  This week flew by.  I am not stressed anymore.  It will all work out.  With all of the upcoming changes and adventures...
 
It's important to remember that it's the little things that make it all worth it

It's the little things: A meatless, breadless dinner that the husband enjoyed too (portabella mushroom "steak" with lemon pepper asparagus).

It's the little things: Warm hats for Maryland, baby kisses, and love from her Daddy
It's the little things: Snuggling and reading 'He Bear, She Bead' to my daughter for the kabillionth time.  Loving the message of the book despite the fact that I have to read it 5+ times a day. 

It's the little things: Letting Eva pick out her own clothes/ accessories.  Sometimes is a total success (see above).  Sometimes not so much (see below). 


It's the little things: A growing baby.  This morning as I groaned pulling her up onto the bed with me, it reminded me that my 'baby' is, in fact, not a baby anymore.  She is a toddler and she is heavy.  She is big and strong.   

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