New hair color.
Resolutions. Lots of things to think about. I normally don’t resolve to do things in a quantitative way and as such this feels a little bit like I’m writing benchmarks or IEP goals. But I’ve been thinking. I’ve covered many goals over the last several years which usually revolve around the idea of being a better person. And while I’m far far far from perfect I’m in need of some more measurable goals. So for 2013 here they are in random order.
1) Read 40 adult length books (ie: kids’ bedtime stories don’t count)
2) Of the 40 books, fill in my “gap” by reading at least 5 classic novels. You know, those books I should have read in high school but got by on the Cliffs Notes or just never read at all.
3) Learn to sew by taking on 3 projects- a dress for Allison, a blanket, and whatever else I decide when the time comes.
4) Photograph night lightning.
I have actually attempted this several times and the closest I ever got was one night at the beach during turtle season. And then the weather got so bad I couldn’t risk my camera outside anymore. I think I found a good lake near my house so now I’m just waiting for the right night.
5) Re-engage in some sort of physical activity. I’m thinking bike riding since A got my bike fixed for me for Christmas.
Also I’m going to continue working on the other stuff and keep better track of the positive things that happen to me. I tried starting a gratitude journal and it lasted 2 days. I’m going to try again. I am going to work on letting things go when other people say and do things that bother me. My good friend, when things don’t quite go well or as expected she says she’s “offering it up to God” I really really like that concept. By the same token, I have come to solidify a lot of my beliefs over the last few years and I’m not going to compromise those values just to go along with a crowd. I know where I stand. I will keep learning. I will keep thinking. One of my favorite expressions “When you know better, do better”. I’m going to keep working on doing better.
FINALLY (As if this wasn’t long enough already). I’m not doing Project 52 again. At least not this year. It was insane that I actually completed that goal. It was kinda like grad school where I started never seeing myself actually finishing but then boom, graduation day. But no, not doing that again in 2013. Instead I’m going to do 12 on 12 so look for something for me the 12th of every month along with a Resolution Accountability Report.
I hearby raise my glass to you! Happy 2013!
I’m one of those people who keeps the receipt for most everything I buy. I store them in a box and then when the box starts overflowing I go through and trash the ones that I don’t need to keep anymore. This amounts to almost all of them. After all, there’s no reason to keep a receipt for food long since eaten, gasoline long since driven off, and clothes that are already outgrown. Yet each time I find myself saving a few of those little scraps of paper for no reason other than the memory it contains. Silly? Probably. But receipts are like time stamped trips down memory lane. Perhaps nothing jogs a memory for me quite like the numbers and abbreviated descriptions along with the date, time and location. It really doesn’t matter what it was for or how much was spent but most of the time I can remember where I was and who I was with at the time. Sometimes it cracks wide open a whole day or event that I would have otherwise forgotten.
As I sorted through the stack I found myself drawn to the ones from around the time Allison was born. There it is in black and white 11:48am on August 24th. Sweetbay Supermarket. Purchases– crackers, apple juice, bread. This was my “Oh my gosh the baby is coming and Andrew is going to starve to death if I don’t go out and get these things rightthissecond!” I picture myself carrying two gallons of juice as I waddled through the parking lot dripping with sweat with Andrew by my side. That was the last place we went together just the two of us before Allison was born. Suddenly that little slip of paper isn’t a little scrap anymore.
Then there are the receipts from our first trip out as a family of 4. Pandora store– baby bootie with pink rhinestone. Baby girl outfit from Gymboree– denim skirt with buttons, sweater, tights (tights that actually STILL don’t fit!) Dress size newborn for Allison’s first trip to church. I remember that trip so well. We had a 5 day old baby and we were moving awfully slowly but there we were, together as a family of 4, out for the first time together. Such joy!
It’s not just Allison though I did get teary finding the receipt for the ultrasound that I had done where I learned we would be adding a baby girl to our family. But things like birthday and Christmas gifts, wedding gifts, restaurants in other towns that we visited on vacation. Receipts from the pediatrician when I took my kids in for their shots or a cold. A violin rental– Suzuki brand, size 1/16th. One jumbo Elmo balloon for Andrew’s 2nd birthday. The kid proof digital camera that Allison “gave” Andrew when she was born. The admission to the zoo, to Disney, to see the Space Shuttle launch, to climb the steps of a lighthouse, to see the dinosaur exhibit. All things I hadn’t thought of today, or yesterday, or last week. But things I remember now because of those tiny bits of paper. At the time received, they meant practically nothing but separated by a few months, even a few years they become reminders of the past and of things that are worth remembering. Things that make us– us. Things that all added up together don’t equal a dollar amount but they equal the events of life. They help you fill in the in-between– the gaps between the extraordinary and the mundane where we simply just live and where we exist.
Sometimes you just need a little pity party.
Women are notorious for feeling like they always have to hold everything together. And I count myself among that breed of women. So yesterday, when the construction superintendent told us our house was delayed yet another month (totaling 7 months of delay and counting) I just about lost it. I excused myself and walked out of the meeting. I wanted to shed my tears in peace. I stormed out of the unfinished kitchen and out into the yard which is currently made up of sandy dirt, and started preparing mental lists of what needed to happen now.
Push back the closet install, reschedule the guy who is doing the finish work on our bathroom, reschedule the delivery of Andrew’s furniture and our sofa, postpone the installation of the blinds on the windows, pay for another month of storage, and possibly delay our renters. My thoughts then turned to the piles of boxes in our closets and garage that have been packed, some of them, for almost a year. Because at the time we thought we only had a few months left here and knew we’d have a newborn to deal with. So away the things went. Furniture was sold, pictures removed from the walls, books and toys put away. “We won’t need this before we move.” I said to things like our baby push walker, play table, and a host of other 6-12 month toys. Things that we shoved in the back of the storage unit thinking they would see the light of day long before we had a baby old enough to use them. Ha!
That’s what this boils down to. A great big, giant, headache of inconvenience.
Lack of control.
That’s what makes this just about one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had. If you know me you know I like control and being at the mercy of someone else makes me insane.
So I had my pity party. A completely immature mental implosion complete with some mental foot stomping, anger and frustration that I expressed in the form being generally worthless for about 24 hours. I didn’t sleep well and I woke up grumpy.
And then the sea of guilt flooded in, the guilt that threatened to drown me from within. A voice of anger- not at the situation, but at myself. “You’ve had your pity party now it’s time to suck it up, buttercup.” That’s what my inner voice said to me.
So you can’t move for another month. So what? At least you have a place to live and it’s true. I do. At least you have food on your table. True as well. You have clothes to wear and healthy children and a good education, and a job, and a loving husband, and on and on and on thoughts flooded my mind. How dare I be so selfish, so thankless?
But two things choked off my anger faster than anything else. I thought of two married friends who said good-bye to each other yesterday as one went off to war. I thought of another friend who will spend her first mother’s day tomorrow without her precious baby in her arms. And I felt small and insignificant for complaining when I have nothing at all to complain about.
So my house is taking longer. It sucks but I’ll live. I’m back on track. I’m strong. I can do this. Everyone needs a little pity party now and then and that’s fine, just as long as when the time comes you know how to get up, brush yourself off and count the blessings you do have because life could be far worse and it is far worse when you’re not thankful for what you do have.
In December of 2004 this blog was born in a small, dingy apartment just off a state road in Bordentown, New Jersey. Snow covered the ground while two young twenty-something Florida kids, because yes we still saw ourselves as kids, sat inside pathetically bundled in winter coats and gloves because the heating system was poor and it was simply too cold outside to do anything else. It was almost 2005, almost time for me to fly back home because even though we were married, we lived in different states. It was time for me to go back to start the second half of my first year of teaching. Time for A to continue his world travels with the Air Force. Our new Florida home would be done in March but it would be years before we lived there together.
Funny how everything about that story is true, except the part about how we spent years living apart. We had no idea at the time that a mere 6 months from that cold evening we would be living under one roof again, in our new home, in Florida.
Funny how seven years later things are so different and yet so very much the same. Once again we are waiting to move but we wait together under one roof and instead of feeling like kids we wait with our two young children.
If there is anything I’ve learned over the last seven years it’s not to put much stock in the status quo. It will change for better or for worse and where you are at the end of one year is likely to be light years from where you are at the end of the next.
A year ago today, having just discovered 5 days prior that I was finally, mercifully, joyously expecting my second child, I spent the eve of 2011 fearing the worst– that I was losing her, a thought not at all lost on me tonight as I nursed my precious 4 month old baby girl to sleep.
A year and a week ago I had lost all hope of ever even having a second child. Amazing how life changes.
Seven years ago when we were pondering the snowfall and planning our future we could never have imagined where we would be today, never imagined the people we would meet, the experiences we would have, the places we would go, the jobs we would hold, the things we would learn, the parents we would become, the life we would live. I can only hope the next seven years treat us as well. At least this time we know we’d better hang on tight for it’s an unpredictable and wild ride. At least this time we know we’re not really in the driver’s seat. At least this time we are mature enough to accept the change that our parents told us was an inevitable part of life.
I have not been very good about updating this blog and as I know I’ve said before it’s not for lack of wanting to. The ideas are there swimming around in my head often times fighting hard to get out. I have a plan for that and I’ll post about it in the coming days. But tonight is for reflection. Tonight is my chance to release this year for what it was and what it wasn’t and leave my mind and soul ready to welcome 2012. Release is a nice word quite frankly. Shove unceremoniously out the door is more what I have in mind. But as crummy as this year was, I can’t deny that it had its magical moments or that it led us to where we are now today and where we will be tomorrow. And I can’t deny that the lesson I take most to heart is probably one I’ve needed to learn for a long time– Have FAITH. It’s all there really is. It’s all you really can count on. I don’t know what 2012 holds but I have faith that we’ll get through it and that somehow, some way we will look back and know it was an important part of life’s fleeting and ever changing path. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you Joy, Faith, Wisdom, and Hope for the coming year. Good-bye 2011 and Welcome 2012.
So this is the continuation of my graduation story which begins in the post below. Even if you don’t feel like reading all of it there are some cute pictures– scroll down.
Before I start on the next part of the story, I saved one other picture because I didn’t want it to get buried down at the bottom. Every now and then I get a picture of him (in this case, A took the picture) that I just adore beyond measure. This is one of them
Okay is that not too cute for words? I’m going to get this blown up big and hang it on his wall, lest he ever start to think about attending another University.
And on with the story…
Well it’s now nearly 11pm May 1st and I haven’t really slept since, oh, I guess it was Thursday night. Yeah, I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I remember listening to Andrew breathe in the pack n play a few feet away. And I watched the clock as it turned 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am… well you get the picture. I may have dozed off slightly between 5 and 6 but then it was time to get up, dress, repack the room and reload the car. We did in fact manage to get 4 people, one of whom being a 20 month old, completed dressed in nice clothes, with everything loaded by 7:08 am which I think is pretty damn impressive. A even got pulled over on the way back north but managed to squeak by with a warning. I had just finished getting my cap situated on my head and my hair looking okay when the FHP guy stops us. He takes a look at us and goes, “Y’all headin’ to a weddin’?” Umm… it’s the new look. Mortarboards instead of veils. It’s all the rage. Eh, I guess that’s being pretty rich of me to joke considering he let us go without writing what would have undoubtedly been a very hefty ticket.
We made it there in time and then began the nerve wracking “radio silence”. Okay so not really but in the instructions for graduates which I read no less than 10 times, it said not to bring anything and not wanting to lose my phone I figured it was safer in the car. So we picked a meeting place (the giant oak tree outside the O Dome) and I hopped out of the car. Now here’s the insanely stupid part, one I’m almost afraid to admit. I go to pull on the gown and didn’t realize it had these funky sleeves with deep pointy pockets (like, picture Death minus the hood and the scythe). I went to stick my hands in and realized it was stitched and thought, “Oh crap, they forgot to put holes in mine!” (Yeah remember how I hadn’t had any sleep ) I quickly realized of course it had holes and THEN what a perfect place those sleeves would have been to put my phone! Sheesh!
Well I wandered around for a while and then it hit me that I didn’t know a damn person in the place. Wow talk about lonely– sit through God knows how many hours without talking to anyone? I started looking around for someone who looked friendly, determined not to be completely boring the whole time. But everyone seemed to be in a huddle with their friends. I wandered over to the basketball practice courts and found my spot next to the other light blue hooded people with the College of Education. I was standing near a woman, someone who looked outside the traditional college age range. She was alone, too. Then she offered to fix my hood for me. I told her I was so thankful because I didn’t know anyone. She said she didn’t either, that she’d done her whole degree online. Well long story short (ha who am I kidding?) She was not only my classmate from my final course but also my PARTNER in the final section. Talk about small world and random chances!
The ceremony started and we processed out. The pictures aren’t much to see… I’m just a little dot. They did all the Doctorate degrees first (which took forever) and then started on the Master’s degree candidates. Here’s me walking across the stage followed by a zoomed in version of the same picture.
Have you ever tried so hard to remember something that it made the memory slip out of your mind even faster? That was kinda how it was for me. It felt a little like slow motion walking across the stage. Now I realize at this point I’ve been typing these posts for nearly an hour and you’re like, geeze lady all you did was get a Master’s degree. But it was kinda more than that. And this is where I’ll tell the other part of the story in the most cryptic way possible.
See, I’ll get back to the graduation stuff (there’s not much more to tell really) but first I want to head down a different path for a minute. See back in 2004, I found out that there was a job available at my school but I lived in NJ. I had been married just around a year and things were going well in that aspect of my life but I was lonely and depressed about not having a real job or purpose in life and A was TDY almost constantly so I was completely by myself most of the time in a strange state with nothing to do besides work at Pottery Barn. So when the job opened I knew in my heart that I had to have it and A was nothing but 100% supportive, willing to live away from me to make it work. So from the very first moment I started at my school I took a leap of faith to get there.
And in many ways every single aspect of my career and this path that I’ve been on with getting my degree has all been about faith. And those times that I wasn’t sure I could do it, it was all about faith. So this past week, when my boss approached me with, I don’t even know what to call it– a proposal of sorts, I felt again that I was being led by the Holy Spirit. Now those of you who know me, even those who know me really really well, know that I don’t get outwardly religious often. It’s a very private thing for me. But this particular moment felt so strong that I’m certain my prayers for guidance were being answered on the spot. You see, not knowing who exactly reads this and having promised secrecy I will not go into the details of this proposal but suffice to say it requires yet another leap of faith.
So as I turn back to my graduation story, understand that this isn’t about graduation much at all as it is about the closure of one life chapter, the transition to the next chapter and the faith involved in the whole process. Because as I look back on every major life milestone I’m finally starting to see how everything pieces together and that may very well be a miracle in and of itself.
So I walked across the stage and believe me when I say I’m not exaggerating this or trying to be dramatic but I felt like everything slowed down and got quiet.
I had told myself, “listen to where the shouts are coming from, then you’ll know where they’re sitting” but I didn’t hear anything at all. I shook hands 4 times and said thank you to each person. I was smiling. I didn’t trip and fall. The rest is a haze. I do know that I felt what I did not feel the other 2 times I have taken part in the grand tradition of graduation. I know that THIS time was different because the chapter really did end and I really do feel done and truthfully that is the most I could have possibly asked for.
The rest of the ceremony felt long. It was terribly hot under the gown and I was tired, no, exhausted, but happy. After I found everyone and we walked back to the car. While they were waiting, A took a few more pictures of Andrew in front of the Bull Gator. He had been so excited last night when I told him that today we’d see more Gators. In fact he woke up asking about them.
And of course more Chomp (Can’t wait to bring him to his first game!)
Then we went and took a few more pictures after. This was a neat drive by photo. I jumped out of the car and A took the picture from the window as he was driving. Impressive! And here’s where I’ve gotta say he did everything in his power to make today absolutely the best! He definitely succeeded beyond my wildest expectations!
I also have a picture here after my undergrad graduation. I need to find it at some point.
Sign on campus
And one last one of me
This evening, A surprised me. We went out to dinner and instead of it just being us I showed up to find my whole family was there– EVERYONE! This is what I never got the first two times around. I got everyone together all in one place plus two very dear friends. I couldn’t ask for more than this.
They say nothing’s perfect. But today was. And I can only hope and continue to pray that the start of this next story, this next journey of faith, will be as wonderful and as filled with hope and promise as today.
Well it has been the type of day you never forget and I mean that in a really good way.
This promises to be a long entry, mostly because this is for me and I don’t want to forget it.
I guess you could say it kinda all started back in 1999. It was the day before my high school graduation and though it was not altogether unexpected, I received the news that my grandmother had passed away. She had been sick and it was not so much a terrible shock as it was a sense of emptiness of losing someone close to me. We went to her funeral 2 days after I graduated. By that point I had decided I was done with everything related to high school and I didn’t want to think about them anymore. I didn’t even bring my yearbook to get signed– not a single signature in my senior year yearbook. I thought about my grandmother and her funeral and heading off to college and graduation itself was a blur.
Fast forward 3 1/2 years. After what remains to be 3 1/2 of the most amazing years of my life spent in Gainesville I graduated on December 21, 2002 in what proved to be a bittersweet (mostly bitter) cold and windy but crystal clear winter day. I recall the exact outfit I was wearing, and the friends I was sitting next to. I remember the stress of moving my remaining possessions home with me after the ceremony ended and I remember many family arguments. I don’t even remember at this point, what they were about. All I know was that after 3 of the happiest years of my life living in a place where I finally felt like I discovered the who I really was, I just remember the stress and the arguing and the going home and feeling completely empty. It felt like I’d just spent all this time finding the true me and then losing it all over again. Every time I went home during college for Christmas or the summer it was always a transition period, a limbo between happiness for being home and longing desperately to go back. It’s not so much that I was a different person in each city. I certainly was not. But just that there is an irreplaceable feeling of pulling off I-75 on Archer Road and driving into town and feeling like anything is possible. That’s the magic, the pull, the addiction of being a college student.
And when I left I knew I wasn’t done. I knew one day I’d go back and that it would undoubtedly be at Florida because even though I nearly went to U of Maryland, somehow I always knew I could only be a Gator. And I knew I needed another shot at graduation and having real closure on that chapter of my life. So when I applied for my Master’s degree program, in the back of my mind I knew from the split second I got my acceptance letter that I would attend the final ceremony. I would understand it more fully and appreciate it more deeply.
So when the time finally came to graduate I knew this was my last shot at getting it right.
And I’ve gotta say that’s a lot of pressure to put on one single event but it was perfect in every way.
Yesterday we left on our drive to Gainesville. This was to be Andrew’s first visit. I knew when I had him that one day he’d get to visit my former home and I knew that graduation would be the perfect first time. We started at the bookstore. Oh how I wish the new bookstore had been around when I was there on campus. There is an undeniable feeling of academia everywhere on campus but nowhere else do you feel it as much as when you’re surrounded by BOOKS.
I had had these anxiety ridden dreams that I would get there and they would have no record of me. I guess that’s part of doing an online degree program. I knew the people really did exist somewhere and it certainly helped that I could recall the buildings and places as well as the basic policies and procedures but the fact remains, until yesterday I never once spoke to a person face to face and so I was a little worried I had somehow made a mistake. There was even a dream once where I imagined it all. It’s not like there is more proof when you physically attend class. No actually I’ve left a digital trail 10 miles long from this program. But sometimes when you don’t deal with people in person you start to disassociate yourself from the whole process. I guess I’m not really explaining this too well. It’s pretty hard to describe. I wonder if any one else who has done this felt this way. I tend to think they have.
But worries were needless (as they often are for me). And my cap and gown (and hood!) were ready and waiting. I got my portrait taken and I also had one taken with Andrew and A. Afterall, they were such a huge part of this whole thing. I know all my children will be special and God willing that I have more, I know that Andrew, aside from being my first precious child, will always hold the unique place of being my graduate school baby. He went through this whole thing with me. And in some ways, suffered my stress, my anxiety, my workload right along with me by missing time he could have spent with me had I not been preoccupied with finishing. Today was every bit as much about him as it was me, at least in my mind. So anyway, I got the pictures done and picked up a cap and gown and off we went to visit Century Tower, for those who didn’t know me then, A proposed under Century Tower, on a cold rainy Saturday in February in front of all my friends. It was and remains to be the most amazing surprise, no, the most amazing ANYTHING anyone has ever done for me.
So naturally, we had to go there! Here’s A showing Andrew where it happened:
Then taking a seat on the bench along the side.
Then we walked through UMA to the area where the band used to warm up on Game Day before the march to the stadium. We had to wait for 3 girls to get done with their “photo shoot”. I definitely felt a little self-conscious when we were standing there waiting for them because I don’t really look older to most people without any points of comparison but I felt 29 when I’m standing there next to these 22 year olds in cocktail dresses who were most definitely without children. Actually, I guess self-conscious is the wrong word because I felt more proud than anything.
Finally it was our turn to take pictures. At first Andrew was very tentative around the ah-gee-ya (alligator). It had not occurred to me that he would not understand it was fake. He didn’t cry or fuss like he was scared but he was not in a hurry to touch it either.
“Are you sure about this?”
Finally, I convinced him it was okay to touch it and we sat on the Gator which is a pretty generic picture but hey, we needed to have one.
So then I wanted to get a picture of him hugging the gator. Now I can’t really explain why I thought this would be so cute but I wanted the picture. So A decided to show him it was okay to hug the gator.
STILL not convinced he gives it a shot…
The hilarious part (at least for me) was when he finally stood up, satisfied that it was indeed safe to hug (and on his own accord, kiss) the gator, and he turns to me and say, “ok Mommy, Ah-gee-ya sleeping”
OOooooohhhh my dear child!! He now thinks the gator was safe to touch because it was sleeping. My dear God in heaven, please do not let my child ever come across a living Gator. He will undoubtedly rush up to give it a kiss on the snout!
Of course he did some Chomp too…
We finished with the pictures, walked back to the car and then went out to dinner. I have got to say, Gainesville has so many more restaurants than it did when I was there. I don’t think I would have been able to survive with that many good places to eat. I was so dirt poor as it was the first time around. We ate at Fridays or Chili’s a lot because that was pretty much all there was. Now there is every restaurant I’ve ever heard of and plenty I haven’t. We picked Carrabba’s for pre-Graduation dinner. Andrew was getting very tired though so we ate fairly quickly and headed back south to Ocala because I waited too long to get a hotel room and they were completely booked solid anywhere near the city.
Just as we arrived at the hotel it started to POUR down rain and I do mean pour. We got soaked carrying everything up to the room but when all was said and done the 4 of us (my mom was with us too) got in bed for the evening and I had the sense that I was mere inches away, after having come miles, for this final event.
To Be Continued….
When I started this process over 3 years ago there was a big part of me that never saw myself actually finishing. I remember sitting there with a stack of GRE words in my lap night after night thinking, well I’ll just keep at this but I won’t get into the program. And then I did, I got in.
And then I started my first class. I’ll never forget that day, September 24, 2007, because we were in Washington DC where A. was receiving an award. But all I could think about was my class starts today! And I poured everything I had into it. It was HARD and time consuming but I loved it. And I kept thinking, well this is great but how long will I be able to keep this up? Surely I’ll never actually finish. And that was a little scary to think about considering I’ve never quit anything in my life.
But I just kept on trucking… through a struggle with infertility, then getting pregnant and working late at night until I was practically passed out in front of my computer. Then there was the summer before Andrew was born where I did nothing but tutor and study, tutor and study, sometimes up to 14 hours a day with my big swollen feet propped up on pillows and a certain person in my giant belly kicking my books off my lap. Then having a child and reading chapters in textbooks while I pumped or nursing while I typed. He was 5 weeks old when that particular course started. I don’t even remember what it was called much less what I learned in that one.
Then I went back to working full time, doing after school tutoring and singing in the church choir. Oh there was dance in there too (something that finally had to give). I started getting up early and going into work by 7:30 so I could work for 25 minutes in the morning. Then I’d stay an extra 15 minutes in the afternoon which gave me 30 minutes to work if I had all my other stuff in order. I have become exceptionally good at squeezing every second out of a break and reading textbooks at stoplights (don’t worry Oprah, I’ve stopped).
I’ve helped raise a family (and received a lot of help too) while having a husband who travels a large percentage of each month. I have had to step away from synchronous sessions to go assure my toddler that yes Elmo, AND Mickey Mouse, AND Blankie are all safely in bed with him. I have been asked dozens and dozens of times, “what time did you come to bed last night?” with a tone that suggests I might have lost my mind to stay up past midnight working on an assignment.
I trucked on through classes I loved and a class or two I hated. I have relished the insight, the ideas, the knowledge (as cheesy as that sounds) that I have gained from every single class I have taken.
I did not ever think this day would come but tonight, I submitted my final assignment. I have completed my 12th and final course to complete a Masters of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Educational Technology. I have received a perfect score in 11 out of 12 classes and a 98% in the other course (yes, that pisses me off tremendously but hey, I had a 5 week old!) In two weeks I get to go back to Gainesville and walk across the stage one more time, one last time. And then this chapter of my life closes.
It’s 11 days into the new year and you know what? My house is still clean and relatively organized. I am still on top of my todo list and despite the fact that I’m enrolled in my last and supposedly hardest course of my graduate degree, I am right on top of things.
Wow! Now that I said that a million things are going to fall on top of me to get done in the next week.
The thing is, I AM busy. I just can’t tell if maybe I’m finally getting the hang of all this. That’s a little scary in a way but wonderful nonetheless.
I won’t bore you with my actual routine. It’s fit for the elderly but oh how I love it! After being busy busy and on the go for so many years I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to get in bed before 9:00. I only hope I can keep it up.
And moving on to another order of business, this blog.
I have a long list of blogs I follow on Bloglines (If you don’t have it, get it. It’s wonderful!) And I’m starting to notice a trend among my mommy friends. All their blogs are about their babies. I’m starting to feel like Andrew is getting the short end of the stick on this one because this blog is and never has been all about him, especially since I started it long before I was even pregnant.
So what do you think? More Andrew stories? Let me know.
In the mean time, I will share just one (or two) things about my favorite little munchkin. I am ever amazed at how quickly he is growing up. I have this milestone chart from Babycenter.com and I look at it every now and then just to make sure he isn’t falling behind in any areas. I was shocked to find that he is performing skills that would be considered advanced for a 21 month old (He is 17 months this weekend). He is also doing some things at the level of a 24 month old. I about fell over when I saw that one! He’s a talker and would be perfectly happy to spend the entire afternoon looking through his books and identifying the things in the pictures. One of his latest words is “yellow” which comes out sounding ever so cute as “yeh-woah” complete with adorable high pitched little boy voice. He likes this color so much that he will identify everything as yellow.
“Andrew, what color is Elmo?” “yeh-woah” “Andrew, Elmo is red.” “yeh-woah” “Can you say red?” “yeh-woah”
The whole exchange is quite adorable so I find myself asking him the color of things all the time just to hear him say the word.
Another thing he likes to do lately is have phone conversations with or without another person on the line. The conversation is short and consists of “Hi, hello. Bye-bye” If you happen to get a random call from me now you’ll understand.
Several years ago, we went to Downtown Disney around Christmas time which is one of my favorite things to do. This is before we had Andrew and really before we were even thinking about kids but we went into the giant toy store anyway. They had this humongous display of Mr. Potato head parts. You could buy a box for about 20 bucks and stuff it with as many parts at it would hold from the giant potato head buffet.
Naturally I wanted to get my money worth so my brother and I spent 30 minutes off in the corner of the store packing the box to the point where it may well have been close to spontaneous combustion. The woman gave me an annoyed look at the check out– sweet vindication from getting my money’s worth out of Disney! Haha!
Well of course I got it home and dressed up the potato head and thought, “now what”? Yeah, that’s what happens when adults buy toys. I put all the pieces in a basket on the shelf in our bedroom which is where it sat until now.
I love the layout of our home. Except now that we’ve lived here 4.5 years I’ve started to notice some of the quirks. For example, I’m certain that whoever designed the master bathroom did not have children. This is because there is no door on the master bathroom. Yes, the room for the toilet has a door but the shower and bathtub are open to the bedroom. When Andrew was tiny he sat in his bouncy seat while we showered or got dressed. Then as he outgrew the bouncy seat we moved the jumper into the bathroom. But now that he’s 15 months old and weighs 25 pounds he has outgrown all his containment devices. We are left to allow him to roam free or scream his head off in the crib. We baby proofed the room and went for the scream free option.
So you may see where I’m going with this excessively and inappropriately long story.
Andrew discovered the Mr. Potato Head basket and all the parts. He waltzes over to the basket as though it was put there for him. And maybe on some level it was, even though I didn’t know that several years ago.
He has his favorite parts. Noses and eyes, various hats, arms, lips and glasses. He carries them around the house and they have slowly infiltrated every room, every crevice, every drawer or cabinet. Only it is just a part or two here or there. I find eyeballs on the stair case and an arm in my bedside table. It is like a twisted toy massacre as I find body parts all over my house. I doubt we’ll ever find where he’s hidden them all until we move out and even then we very well may leave a part or two behind. It’s just a good thing that all those years ago, I spent that quality time ensuring that I fit every single possible piece in that box so that I could now provide endless hours of entertainment for my son
It’s funny how strongly some memories stay in your mind.
It was a little over 8 years ago, Summer 2001. I was getting ready to go back up to Gainesville for what would end up being a very trying semester. Summer 2001 was still a time of innocence. So much has changed since then.
My mom and I were out shopping. I found some cute dresses on sale at Gap but they were not in my size. We decided the sale was good enough that it was worth driving across town to a different mall to find the dresses. We ended up at University Mall which is up near USF. We found the dresses and were getting ready to leave when I saw the mall pet store.
Now we don’t usually go into pet stores. They make my mom sad and me too for that matter– all those animals who need homes. I don’t know what made us go in there that day. Pet stores don’t usually have cats and we’re total cat people. I walked by the cages and I saw one that was empty, or at least it appeared empty at first. As I was standing there, I glanced into the covered litter box and as I did, a dusty gray cat turned his head around to look me in the eyes. He had the most stunning blue eyes I have ever seen on a cat. He was shockingly beautiful and sad. He was sleeping in a litter box. My mom was every bit as taken aback by his beauty as I was.
I’m not sure what made us ask but we found a woman who worked at the store. His price? $900. This mall remember, is only a couple miles from the university. It is otherwise in a very poor section of town. Not an audience for a $900 cat. The woman scooped him out of the cage. He was huge, or at least, not kitten sized. The woman told us he was 5 months old and because of his age his price had been reduced to $500.
But that was enough. We had to go. $500 for a cat? It was too much. We thanked the woman and left.
But he certainly didn’t leave our minds. Though we said little about him in the following days I couldn’t help but think about the blue eyed cat who’d spent the last 3 months of his life sleeping in a litter box (and as we came to find out later, the first 2 months in a kitty mill).
Over the next couple of weeks he was mentioned here and there, the gorgeous cat at the pet store. A ragdoll. We’d never heard of ragdolls before. I did a little bit of reading on the breed. They are naturally big, that’s why he was so huge already. People wanted tiny kittens, not cats that already looked full grown. Would he ever be adopted?
One Sunday morning after church my mom said, “I can’t stop thinking about that poor kitty.” As it turns out, the government had just recently sent out stimulus checks. Wouldn’t you know ours was for $500. It seemed to be a pretty certain sign. Without another word the decision was made. The only question now was would he still be there. We raced home and called the store?
“Do you still have the ragdoll?”
“We’re on our way.”
As I recall we drove across town pretty quietly. I think we all felt a sense of urgency. Now that we’d decided to get him, what if someone else decided the same and got to him before us? What if after all the time spent in that cage, two people came for him at once.
We burst into the store, our rescue mission nearly complete. I quickly found the woman who we’d spoken to before.
“We’re here for the ragdoll.”
She paused for a moment, with a look of surprise and alarm and then walked over to the cage and gently removed him from the litter box where I guessed he’d spent most of the time since our last visit. She had tears in her eyes. She had become very attached to him but of course realized that he needed a real home.
I remember very little of the purchase process, I just knew how happy and relieved we all were that he was still there and that he was finally coming home.
Dusty didn’t get his name right away. At first we talked about calling him Zach since he was so floppy (typical ragdoll) that he seemed relaxed or like he was “on proZACH”. But that name just didn’t seem to fit. He wasn’t all that relaxed after all, in fact he was pretty afraid of his new environment. His leg muscles had atrophied due to lack of use and it was a couple weeks before he could walk well. He was fearful of his new, much larger surroundings and the old cat Mickey didn’t exactly welcome him home. He hid a large part of that first afternoon home and when he came out from behind the washer and dryer he was covered in fluff and dust. He became Dusty from that point forward.
He was never a lap cat but he dearly loved my brother and I know D. felt the same about him. He always carried a regal air about him, as though he knew just how very beautiful he was. He never snapped, hissed, bit, scratched or otherwise hurt so much as a fly and I’ll never forget bringing Rosie home for the first time and seeing him fall in love with the tiny kitten. I’ll always remember catching the two kitties in the bathtub licking each other on the face, “kissing”.
Last June, Dusty got sick. It was hard to tell he was sick because he was never one to eat much or be very playful. He sat and observed the world as it passed him by. By the time we realized he was sick it was already pretty serious but tests, medication and a tremendous amount of care got him through. We thought we were going to lose him last June but he held on for just a little while longer. Then, over the last month or so, he started developing breathing problems. My mom would race him to the vet’s office, to find that his lungs had filled with fluid. Four separate times, the vet removed several ounces of fluid from off his lungs. My mom and brother tried a least a dozen different therapies but the last and most promising never really got the opportunity to work. His lungs filling with fluid so quickly that he would have needed to be tapped every other day if not more frequently. His pain was quietly ended on Saturday.
Were it not for Dusty, we would not have known about ragdoll cats nor would we have gone on to adopt 4 additional raggies. And during the course of time he was sick, my mom, eternal cat lover and animal activist, managed to adopt 3 additional cats from the vet’s office. So all because of Dusty, 7 more cats found places in our lives. And anyone who says shelter animals need to be rescued never saw what it was like for a sweet and loving cat to be trapped in a cage with no place to rest but his litter box. He was rescued too and I hope we gave him a good life. I hope he knows how much we loved him. Rest in peace sweet Dusty.