Friday, March 8, 2013

See You When I See You

Yesterday, I told you I had a lot of cousins.  I do.  And I'm close to most all of them.  Even my 3rd, 4th, and 5th ones.

But one of them is extra special to me.  She's one of the few family members I have from my dad's side.  And after knowing her my entire life, in the last 6 years she's become more than family to me.  She's become one of my very best friends.

And she's leaving me tomorrow.

She has found her dream job and dream man in another state.  And she's moving away.  I can't fathom trying to say goodbye in person.  So here goes nothing...


Dearest Cousin:

The past six years have been so much fun.  All the therapy sessions; all the shopping; all the trips, and lastly (and most importantly) all the concerts.

All.  The.  Concerts.  (I lost count after a dozen.  I almost posted pictures from them all, but that would take several...several...several blog posts.) 

We could probably buy a new car for all the money we've spent on concert tickets.  But I wouldn't trade it. 

You have become like a second big sister to me.  You have become a confidante for me, a counselor, and a best friend.

I am so very, very proud of you.  To see all that you've been through and how you've handled it is an testimony  your strength and God's grace. 

From our countless trips to see Jason, to our adventures to visit Trackpants, to stuffing dozens of bags for the Ladies conference, to our Family Feasts... you have given me memories that I will cherish forever.  I will miss you more than I can ever actually voice.  Driving by your little white house and knowing you're not just a 10 minute trip away will make me so sad.  But I can't wait to see what God has in store for you.  I can't wait for all the shopping at your new house.  And all the concerts and sporting events you'll be able to sneak me into.

I wish you nothing but the very best of luck.  I expect texts, emails, and pictures often.  After the excitement wears off, come see me and come see me often.  There will be no one here to replace you.  Your seat in my van will be empty. 

I love you so much, Cousin. 

See you when I see you...


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Happened to Helpfulness?

What has happened to helpfulness?  Just pure, straight from the heart goodness?  Why are we so shocked anymore when someone is helpful?


Lemme tell you a little story...actually two little stories...
Where I work, every Monday morning, new jobs are posted.  And they always post the location.  Some are by territory, some can be negotiated, some are by specific location, and some are even virtual.  (And some, especially the DC positions can be virtual but they don’t advertise it till you negotiate it.)

One particular posting said – “Mid Atlantic Territory.”  I thought, “I wonder if I’m included in that?”

So I emailed the person it said to contact with questions and asked if my city was considered Mid-Atlantic.
The response I received was this, “The locations are listed in the posting.  Let me know if you have further questions.”
Really?  REALLY?  It took you longer to type that response than to say, “No, I’m sorry it’s not.”  Or “Yes, it is considered Mid-Atlantic.”  That's just laziness.  I wanted to slap that recruiter via email.

And now for Story #2
I was pregnant with the Princess.  (Hugely preggo.)  It was about 5:15 am on Black Friday and all I needed was an extension ladder for Mr. DDA.  I stood in line at Home Depot like the dutiful wife.  And began to feel extremely woozy…for lack of a better term.  I got really hot, even though it was probably 34 degrees.  And began seeing spots. 

I was going to pass out.  All xxx pounds of me was going to hit the sidewalk.  I wanted to leave...just call it quits and go home.  But all Mr. DDA had asked for that year was this ladder.  So I looked at the guy behind me and asked him to save my spot while I went and sat in my car for a few minutes. 

Probably 20 minutes later, the nice man behind me and a worker from Home Depot came out to my car and knocked on my window.  He asked if I was ok and what I was there for.  I told him I wanted this ladder.  When I got back in line, the gentleman behind me said that he called inside the store and explained what was going on.  And that when the doors opened, they would have my ladder, in a cart, waiting for me at the cash registers.

I was floored.  They really went out of their way on the busiest shopping day of the year.  Talk about helpfulness.  I emailed the store, headquarters, everyone I could think of so I could thank them.

Each event left a lasting impression on me. 
Why do we sometimes go out of our way to be difficult?  I know it's rough out there.  We'd all like to be Melinda Gates, married to a billionaire and spending our days buying third world countries and giving away money.  But I'm not.  And you're not.  And I doubt Melinda Gates reads a debt blog.  That'd be pretty ironic.
But I just think that all of us touch someone every day.  And our interaction can be what defines the department, company, agency, or even Christians as a whole.  (I remind Mr. DDA of that all the time.  When he's unlocking someone's car for his 4th time that day.  That one event can be what decides that person's impression of all of your department.)
I'm always lousy at ending my blogs.  I can write a whole blog and not an ending paragraph.  So, I'm just going to say what my Nanny told us all, a gazillion times while we were growing up...
"Be yeeee (very Southern) kind, one to another, tenderhearted and forgiving."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Am a Good Mom

I am not the perfect mother.  According to many people's lists, I'm not even a good mother.

If you google "perfect mom" this is what comes up...hysterical.
I do not buy all organic food or grow our own tomatoes.  We do get happy meals from McDonald's on routinely, every two weeks on Sunday afternoon's when my spouse is working.  They don't eat all their vegetables.  I even let them eat white bread sometimes.

I do not make my kids' birthday cakes from scratch.  I usually buy them...from a store.  And that's if they have a birthday party.  My kids don't even always have birthday parties.  Sometimes it's just dinner, at a restaurant, with us and their grandparents. 

My kids probably watch too much TV.  I don't paper-mâché.  I don't do crafts with them to document their artistic inspiration with elbow noodles and popsicle sticks.  My idea of bonding time is watching a Christmas movie with my kids, in May, eating bowls of popcorn...microwave, to be exact.  Out of store bought "popcorn" bowls.

My kids haven't been to a Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street, or Dora the Explorer "LIVE" event.  We've been to the circus - once.  And saw Disney on Ice...with free tickets. 

I am not always home in time to do homework with my son.  4 out of 5 nights, Mr. DDA does homework with him.  I have to ask to sign the homework slip every once in a while so I at least look involved.

My kids are not in soccer, karate, tee ball, ballet,, and French lessons.  ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  We're just now trying out pee-wee basketball and I'm about to have an apoplexy.  I can't handle it.   (Can you "have" an apoplexy?  I don't know...forgive me if my English isn't correct.)

I work.  Not like work out.  I work - at a job. I get up at 5 am, leave the house at 6, go to an actual office, and most nights don't get home til 12 hours later.  Out of every female friend that I went to high school and college with, I only know three of us (with kids) that work...outside the home.  And the other two are teachers so they get all those crazy breaks and snow days.  (I shoulda been a teacher.)
I don't troll Facebook all that much.  But if I do, it's easy for me to feel like a second rate mother.  I, apparently, am not doing any of the things the "best" mother is supposed to do. 

I will never be able to "get stressed" because the clothes I'm sewing for my child just aren't turning out right.  I will never post pictures of my perfectly decorated themed cupcakes I've made for the miniature circus birthday party I'm hosting.  I will never get to stay home with my kids. 

And in moments like these, I have to actually remind myself that I am a good mother. 

I would lay down my life for my children.  In a heartbeat.  I would go without food so that they could eat.  I'd go without...even shoes. 
I want my kids to not just know what it means to be a Christian, but to actually be one.  I want them to see their parents read their Bibles and hear them pray.  Not just drop them off at Sunday school for their weekly dose of religion.

I want them to know what's it's like to go to work.  I want them to know what it's like to give to someone in need.  I want my kids to know what's like to save, and spend, and save more. 

I want them to know that this world absolutely sucks sometimes.  People will hurt you.  People you never would've expected will betray you.  But that that doesn't mean you stop loving people.  And everyone deserves a second chance.

I want to shield them from as much pain as I can, but I don't want to make their life a cakewalk either.  I don't have any desire for them to never know what it's like to want something.  Even if it's just a toy. 

I want them to know what's like to know that their Dad & Mom will always be there for them.  Because we will be.
And in this Facebook perfected world, all those things sometimes don't seem to matter. 

And I may be the only one saying, and I may have to say it to myself more than I should, but
I. Am. A. Good. Mother

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year!
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every other holiday I've missed with I've been on my blogging hiatus.  (If you've been with me these past two years, you know, I go on them randomly.)
So here were my resolutions last year: 
1.       Lose one dress size - up until Thanksgiving & Christmas I had lost two dress sizes since last year.  Now I have to lose one all over again.  Grr!
2.       Give more.  - eh...I didn't do as great as I hoped. 
3.       Buy fewer shoes. - EPIC FAIL  :)
4.       Try new foods - That's a heck yeah!

2012 was not a banner year for me.  It wasn't bad or traumatic, just one of those growing, painful kind of years that I'd rather forget.  There was a lot that was good like sellingour house, meeting my culinary hero, watching my son start kindergarten...
We survived Hannah's ordeal, the Hokies football team was dismal (although we did pull out an OT win in our bowl game), we lost people near & dear to us, we didn't get our house built - or even started, it was just one of those years...  Oh and to top it all off, one of our babies, Piper, had to be put down...ON CHRISTMAS DAY!  She had a stroke.  It was awful.

But 2013 is all new.  In my OCD brain, 2012 is like a box that all the good and the bad get packed up and put on a shelf.  I don't know that 2013 will be amazing or perfect, but I love getting a brand new calendar and starting over.  (I've been known to throw away a whole calendar if I put someone's birthday on the wrong day.)  I love starting new file folders.  I love fresh starts.  And the new year is always a time for fresh starts.

I know, some people don't do resolutions.  And it's fine if you don't.  I like it.   I like goal setting.  So, here are my resolutions this year:

1.       Give more.   I'd like to, as a family, take on a missionary or two and give to them every month. 
2.       Try new foods at our regular restaurants. 
3.       Lose one dress size.  (AGAIN!) 
4.       Read my Bible through this year.  Our church got these amazing Bible reading calendars that will have us read the Bible in a year and Proverbs each month.  (I used to do that in college.  It was a good habit I got away from.)
5.       Run, really run, a 5k.

So there you have it.  (I gave up on the buy fewer shoes...I should add build a bigger closet to my list.)
Happy New Year!  Enjoy every minute of it.  There are only 525,600 of them.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pardon the Turkey!

I love this movie.

And not just for *obvious* reasons.  I have a serious crush on Kevin James.  How could you not love him?  Every movie he is in makes me laugh.

Anyhow, in one scene of the movie, they're sitting around talking about Black Friday and he says, "I'm so not ready for this."

Thanksgiving is in one week.


I just voted last week and now next week I'm celebrating Thanksgiving.  This just doesn't seem possible.  I'm so not ready for this.

But you know what's really angering me?

It's bad enough that stores have their Christmas decorations up before Halloween.  But this whole "Beige Thursday" thing is pushing me over the edge. 

It started last year with a few of the stores opening at 10/11 on Thursday.

And now this year, all the stores seem to be doing it!  And they're creeping up their opening earlier and earlier.  Some stores are now open all day on Thanksgiving!?!?!?

What happened to Thanksgiving?

I have shopped every Black Friday since 2004.  Every one.  But I refuse... RE-fuse to ruin my Thanksgiving with cat fights over vacuum cleaners and DVD players? 


I have never - ever - spent a Thanksgiving with Mr. DDA.  EVER!  He's always been out there making sure everyone else has a safe & happy Thanksgiving.

Regardless, it is my favorite holiday. 

I love turkey & gravy.  It's still fall, but the official kickoff of the Christmas season.  I have (most of) my family with me.  And it's without all the hustle & bustle of Christmas Day.  I love it.

More importantly, it's the day, as a country, we thank God for everything He has blessed us with.  It's a day to reflect, remember, and give thanks.  And now, retailers want to disgrace it.  It infuriates me.

And so I'm boycotting Beige Thursday.  I will not spend one cent on Thanksgiving Day.  And I know that my few purchases will not make a dent in their hauls.  Plenty of people will still go stand in line and fight over their Tickle Me Elmo's. 

But to me, Thanksgiving is sacred.  No amount of savings is worth sacrificing that day.

That being said...I will appear with all the crazies around 4 am on Friday at Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc... scooping up all the leftovers that people have strewn around the store. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You Are Worth More Than That

So, for the last two months, I've gotten a free magazine. 

I have no idea why.  I don't ever pay for magazines.

And this one should be right up my alley - it was all about being in style.

I grabbed it with glee and began to flip through it.

I should have known that this was not my kind of magazine when this was on the first page:
Sure, it's just a purse...but it's a purse that cost more than my van.  $23,000 to be exact.

Can you imagine?  Even if I was a millionaire, I don't need a $20K purse.  That's just stupid.

Then, after pages and pages of Louis Vuitton, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta, and DVF ads, I finally got to an actual article.

How to Dress for Less for Fall

Oh yay - here we go.  So excited.

The writer's budget - $1000 a month.

Say wha?

$1000 bucks a month?  On clothes?

Are you daft?  

Who in their right mind spends that on clothes?  I may spend that in an entire year - maybe.  But a month? 

I'll be the first to admit, I love shoes.  I love clothes.  But those price tags really got me thinking - who are these magazines geared towards and what are they doing to them????
  Most of us do not live in NYC or LA where fashion "really matters."  (Insert sarcastic comment here.) 

The UK is a year ahead of the US in style; and NYC is a year ahead of Virginia.  So we're not really "up" on fashion down here.  If it ain't at Gap or Old Navy - we ain't wearin' it.

These magazines are targeted towards the 20-something new career woman.  Last time I checked, college costs more than ever.  Last time I checked, unemployment was up.  (If you look at the raw data, not that garbage the Dept of Labor manipulates right before the election.)  Last time I checked, wages were down...across the board.

If I was Taylor Swift and making $15,000,000 a year, I might splurge.  But I'm not her.  I live on a budget.  And I have way more important things to worry about than what ex-boyfriend I'm going to bash in my next single. 

These poor girls have lived through Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Beiber/Bieber...(still don't know how to spell his name and I refuse to Google it.)  To call them impressionable is an understatement.  And now they're being told, from a magazine - mailed to their parent's house - where they still live, that they need to spend a $1000 a month on clothes?

But we have to give these girls a break! 

Teach them how to write a resume.  Teach them that what used to be reserved for a Friday night - is NOT ok to wear on Tuesday to the office.  Teach them how to take 10 basic simple pieces and make it last a month.  Teach them to show up on time and not hung over.  Teach them how to read a P & L Statement.  

Teach them something worthwhile!

Girls - Throw away those magazines! 

Invest in you.  Invest in your family.  Your community.  Your retirement.  Pay down your debt.  Help those in need. 

And since the magazines don't say it, I will.  Dresses, shoes, and bags can make someone look pretty.  But they can never make a beautiful person. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I. Am. So. Blessed.

Wednesday night is my favorite TV night, but I'm foregoing my Ghost Hunters and Restaurant Impossible because I feel like I need to get on a boot box. (My version of a soapbox.)

This summer was trying, to say the least, for Mr. DDA & I. I'll never forget my lowest moment. I was in Target, hiding in the swimsuit section, trying to not run into someone (oh, come on! We all do it.) I was exhausted. Mentally and physically drained. I had this child in a cast. I was running on negative empty.  I couldn't remember the last time I had uninterrupted sleep.  And all I wanted was to run into Target and get one thing.  And I was forced to sit and hide.  And I just lost it.  I had a mini-pity party right there in the middle of the itsy bitsy, teeny weenie, polka dot bikinis.

As soon as I could, I ducked outside and was immediately faced with a young man in a wheelchair who's disability was permanent.  And he was more than gracious to Hannah. They had a special bond, I think.  And I felt "wee-big."

Ever done that, or am I the only one?

We have so much to be thankful for. If you're local, you know one of our Virginia State Troopers was killed in the line of duty last week.  His wife is sleeping alone tonight.

My husbands' best friend from high school lost her 10 month old little boy last month.  Can you even imagine how hard it is to even be in that house now?

Take a moment to stroll Facebook. Pray for Grey, Pray for Trey, Saving Baby Luc...  You could literally do this for hours.  And it doesn't take long to be reduced to tears and be absolutely ashamed at how ungrateful we can be I am. 

I call myself a Christian and yet day in and day out, I neglect to thank my God for breath, health for my children, safety for my husband, food in my pantry, that I have a job...even if I don't always love it. 

I look around and think, "How am I going to afford Christmas?" when there are children who have never and will never receive a single Christmas gift in their lives.  They'll be lucky if they have enough food to live until Christmas.

I look at my jeans, that are thankfully too big, and get frustrated because we don't have the extra spending money to buy new ones.  And there are moms in the Philippines who literally dig through the trash to get clothing for their kids.

I'm not thrilled with the current administration, but I live in America.  People die trying to just get here.  To be what I am.  To be called part of the Greatest Nation on Earth.  I can still go to any church I want.  Be whatever it is I want to be. 

I've seen this status on Facebook a lot:

And most days, I just scroll through it and think, "Yeah, yeah."  But tonight, I sat in church and I just kept thinking about it.  And my heart became heavier and heavier.

All those people on Facebook, one day their life turned upside down and even if their loved one is healed, their lives will never be normal again. 

And yet, there I was, having a pity party over my child in a stupid cast.  I wish to goodness I could go back to that day.  And hug that person I avoided and bless the man in the wheelchair. 

I may never be a millionaire.  I plan on it, but it may never happen.  I may never be royalty, a senator, a independent business owner,...heck - even a boss. 

But I am me.  I am God's child.  I am blessed, protected, loved, cared for, cherished, and thought about.  The Bible says God thinks about us.  Funny thought, huh?  God thinking about me. 

I don't thank Him near enough. 

I. Am. So. Blessed.