Monday, February 28, 2011


Wow this warmer temperature is bringing such joy to me.  I think I have some seasonal depressive disorder or something, the winter sucks me dry.  I love Christmas, and Valentine's is a bit fun, but January and February generally are awful months.

Yesterday we had a gorgeous Sunday and really enjoyed being outdoors with the kids.  Today Taylor and I took a long walk before she got on the bus for school and it was heavenly.  It looks like it will rain any minute, but the air seems so crisp.  I am a Jersey girl, born and raised, but part of me always longs for wide open spaces.  I love the beauty of sitting outside and seeing only nature - trees, flowers, animals, hills, the different colors of the sky.  Maybe a gorgeous, huge old farmhouse or two.  I have always lived in neighborhoods - houses very close together and everything we need right here.  Jersey is a fabulous location with being close to beaches, Philly, NYC, DC.  We are a drive away from so many fun things to do and see.  And Jersey can be misunderstood - there is a reason why we're the Garden State.  Lovely farms still exist, beautiful agriculture.  But the areas that I have lived have been the typical NJ suburb and we are a stone's throw from our neighbors.  And it's not fun when they're not cool.  Most of our neighbors here are really nice and quiet, with the exception of one pesky dog.  For having so many homes near ours though, I wish we had more close-by neighbors with kids our girls ages.  I wish they had the same experience I had growing up - being about to go outside and go inside friends' homes.  Down our street there is a cluster of homes that have tons of young kids, we like to go hang out down there sometimes, but it's not like Bailey can run out and go to her friend's house.  But I am grateful for what I have - which is that Bailey and Taylor of course have each other, and we do have lots of children in our neighborhood  - and our wonderful church friends - just not next door.

Anyway, this weather is refreshing.  My cats love it.  I am really looking forward to spring.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

weigh in week 2

An update - had my Weight Watchers meeting and lost 2 lbs!!  I am happy with that.

More blogging later.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


My house is freezing.  The past few days our furnace has only been working part of the time, we have a guy coming over tonight.  I hope he can fix it, and for cheap.  We'll see!  I am thankful that our tax return is coming in, but hopeful we don't have to use a lot of it for stuff like this!

I have to say though, I am very thankful for how good our house has been to us.  We bought this house in 2004 when Bailey was 8 mos old.  We had lived in our condo for 2 years and sold that for a great profit - but of course we paid more for this house than it's worth today, even with the improvements we've made.  When we were looking for single family homes, I was 24 years old - which is fine, we could afford it (barely) but looking back, I didn't have a clue.  And because we wanted to feel like adults (why?) we didn't want too much input from our parents other than, "We love it!  Can we get you a housewarming present?"

When we bought this home, we made 2 big mistakes.

#1.  Thinking that most of the work that needed to be done was easy cosmetic stuff.  First of all, even if it was, Kevin and I don't have a CLUE about anything home-improvement.  Second of all, the home needing all new flooring among MANY other things does not count as 'easy cosmetic stuff.'  That was a big lie, from me to me.

#2.  We thought this would be a "starter home" and eventually we'd afford a "big home."  Um...why would we think that?!  We were putting every cent we had into this house, not to mention all the cents to come since it needed work, and I wasn't working with no plans on working again any time soon.  How did we think we'd ever afford to have a big house?  So if we had been looking at it from a we're-going-to-live-here-until-we-rot kind of mentality, we may have tried to hold out for something that would grow with us more.  But I have to remember the market at the time -- we had to give an offer THAT DAY - full price offer and there was another bid - or we'd probably lose it as we did another house in this development.  And we REALLY wanted to be in this neighborhood - a great school right here, tons of trees and playgrounds, pool, clubhouse, even a golf course.  It's really pretty and a nice place for kids.

Anyway, looking back at the home we moved into, I am thankful that over the last almost-7 years that we've been here, things have taken turns needed replacing.  It would have been so difficult if everything had gone at once, or one on top of another.  But God is so good, and things have needed replacing it seems right when we have the extra money to do it.  And as often as I pine away for new flooring, a new fence and actual grass in the front and back, (not to mention replacing my dive of a kitchen someday!!) every time I roll into the driveway, I am thankful to be home.  It is where both of my girls have taken their first steps, it's where they have learned how to ride bikes, it's where we became a family of 4.  It's where Tatie broke her arm (and I broke my foot), and Bailey had a loose tooth kicked out of her mouth while wrestling with Taylor.  It's where, at 2 yrs old, Bailey found my food dye while I was talking on the phone, and dyed herself and my kitchen.  All over.  It's where we've had marathon Wii games and hide-and-seek games.  The dining room table is where Bailey learned to read and where we've had thousands of family meals.  And our back deck is where I felt Taylor kick inside of me for the first time, while little 1 1/2 year old Bailey was giggling over ice melting in the sun.  It's also where, on a cool evening wrapped in blankets under the stars, Kevin and I feel like a couple again - me enjoying a nice glass of wine while he has a cigar.

It's no McMansion.  It has one main tiny bathroom and a kitchen that I'm pretty sure taps SOS while I'm trying to cook.  And currently I'm freezing my knickers off here.  But it's ours...well, it will be in 23 years.  It's all my children have ever known, and I am thankful we have had a home to enjoy to meet all of our needs.  It's easy to get caught up with all of the "I-wants" here in America, and easy to forget how AMAZINGLY BLESSED we are with what we have.   Relatives of mine lost their home recently in a fire, so not only do I want to remain thankful for what I do have, but to remember that a home and its contents are earthly possessions, and what is truly important is faith and family.  This does not undermine their loss - I can't imagine the grief of losing treasured pictures and memories.  But to have left such a devastating, all-encompassing fire with their lives - including the family dog - is a blessing.  I think of them often, and say a prayer whenever they come to mind that they will be comforted and strengthened.

So we all have eyes -- if you're like me and you see your circa-'70's tile and you want to rip it off with your bare hands, ok.  But what I am going to continue doing when I catch myself "wanting" is remind myself how God has TIME AND TIME AGAIN met ALL of our needs and instead of seeing the nasty tile, I want to be thankful for a working bathroom!  Gratitude always feels better.

And speaking of gratitude -- since I started this post earlier this evening, now I can report that the furnace is fixed, to the tune of $60.00.  Thank you God!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I have nothing interesting to say.

Today I have been trying to play catch up with a few things, and it feels good.  On my list was grocery/drugstore shopping and so far I have hit up 2 Rite Aids, tonight I am going to go to 2 more and also the ShopRite.  Why go to 4 Rite Aids?!  Because after coupons and UP rewards (a coupon that prints on the bottom of receipts), I am paying $1/box of Playtex tampons (not free but a good price!) and getting Johnson and Johnson baby products for free.  I never want to empty one store of all their stash - I'm nice like that - so I hit up various stores.  At ShopRite I plan on spending around $50 - last week I spent $60.   Not too bad, and less than 1/2 what I used to pay!!

It makes me feel good to get products my family needs and uses for a lot less money.  If I don't need it, I'll donate it and that feels good too.  Perhaps my food addiction could be replaced with a coupon addiction? That'd be awesome.

If you want info about couponing, I'd go to the Living Rich with Coupons website - I think that's the most thorough and easy to read site.  She has a FB page too.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Ok so don't think I'm an Oprah junkie but for the second post in a row I'm going to bring her up.  I know!  I don't want to, but I have to tell you about something I heard on another show she did, that I keep thinking about.  What can I say, I DVR her and watch right before bed (if it's the least bit interesting), so what's really awful, is it's her show I think about right before falling off to sleep.  Ah, it's her last season, our relationship won't last.

So she had on a lady that several years ago, Oprah had been basically grooming to give her own show, as she did Dr Phil and Dr Oz.  She was like a self-help guru.  But they had a falling out, and this was the what-went-wrong show.   The lady basically left Oprah, who wasn't ready to give her a show yet but was going to, for Barbara Walters, who did give her a show right away.  But supposedly the lady was treated badly, and the show only lasted one year.  Oprah said, "We were treating you so good!  Why did you leave?"  And among other reasons, the lady said, "I was home. Yes it didn't feel good, yes they treated me poorly, but it was all I had known my whole life.  I was used to it!  It was familiar to me!  It was comfortable, it was what I deserved." (I'm paraphrasing FYI - hopefully you can tell, as I can't even remember "the lady's" name.  Quotations are simply so I don't confuse myself.)

Well, that comment has just stuck with me!!! You know the saying, "What tastes better than how thin feels?"  Oh this saying used to make me feel like crap!!  I would think, really, what does taste better?  Nothing!  So why am I not just saying 'no' to everything I shouldn't eat, so I can be thin?  WHAT is my problem?!  I'd say to my mom all the time, WHY do I sabotage myself with things that aren't even my favorites?  I'd "do good on my diet" only to blow it with something stupid.  And WHY would I do mundane chores that could absolutely wait, instead of go to the gym?  Why am I holding back?

I'll tell you, it's like a lightbulb went off.  Oprah's famous "a-ha moment."  What tastes better than how thin feels IS HOME.  Familiarity.  Comfort.  Even if home, familiarity, comfort means self-loathing, disgust and guilt.  Even if it means hating looking in the mirror or in other peoples eyes, even if it means being unfit, even if it means feeling less-than because I look more-than.

My whole life, I have felt less-than, and even when I was at a healthy weight, I felt more-than.  My "more" was born out of my "less."  Someone who has never struggled with their weight probably is not getting what I'm saying here, but all you lovelies that have, you get me.

So I am trying to run away from home.  I don't want to live here anymore.  It will be hard, because it's all I've ever known.   It will try to entice me back..."Come on Brynn, wear your favorite sweats, they feel so good and nobody can see you when you wear them.  Remember, they're magic and they make you invisible.  Come on, just a little while, and sit down here on the couch and have a snack.  Don't get crazy now and try to be different - who would know you?  Who would you be?  Let's stop all this nonsense and have a meatball.  I meant 4.  Have 4 meatballs.  And you will feel so much better."

Wish me luck.  It's not easy being a runaway.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Helen and Ellen

If you get a chance, google "Helen and Ellen on Oprah."  They are 82 year old twins who run the 'Love Kitchen' - they make thousands of meals a week for the homeless and hard-up.  They even deliver to homebound seniors and the ill.  Wow these women are amazing!!!  They are the kind of women that you not only admire, you want to visit with.  You want to sit next to them and try to absorb some of their warmth, their light.  You want to be more like them.  You know what - I want you to see these women so much, right now I'm going to try to see if I can find a YouTube clip.

Okay so I couldn't find where they were on the Oprah show, but this is a clip that was also on the show. This woman Dani Johnson is a millionaire, but she used to be homeless, and she went undercover at the Love Kitchen.  She ends up giving $20,000 to them and it was so touching to see Helen and Ellen's reaction to that.  Then on Oprah, they learn Kroger grocery has donated a year's supply of food.  Oh my goodness, so heart warming!  And to think they started with just making, I think, 20 meals?  

During the Oprah episode, one of the twins - I forget which - kept calling Oprah 'honey.'  My 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Mooney, who wore long skirts and I liked seeing them twirl when she walked, called me 'honey.'  I loved her.  Bailey told me that all of her friends in her class are her friends but her teacher Mrs. Seeger is her family.  I asked, "why would you say she's family, Boo?  She's not related to us like Nan and Pop or like Uncle Andy..." and Bailey said, "Because she calls me sweetheart, and that's what you do to someone you love like family."  Oh my heart!!  This is also the child who has gotten strange looks at times because she has called her peers "honey" and "sweetie."  Really.  And I've never corrected her, even when I see she gets a look, because I think it's just the greatest thing ever.  Such tenderness.  And she'll learn soon enough -- and she has already stopped doing it a lot -- but once in a while it slips out.  And you know what?  I think a lot of kids like it.  Like her little friend Caleb, who made her a heart today out of homemade playdough in Sunday school.  He slapped it in her hand and then ran down the hallway while she called out, "I love it sweetheart, thank you!!!"

Alright, I got off topic.  Helen and Ellen.  I'm inspired.  At 82 years old I was hoping to be in old-people college (aka Assisted Living)  with Kevin, hoping our kids and many grandkids would visit us and bring us to their homes for holidays and parties.  I was hoping we'd be healthy enough to enjoy Bingo at the McDonalds with the other old bitties, and maybe head to AC on a big bus once in a while to play with the few dollars we may get from Social Security.  But look at these women, what they are doing with their life!!  I am sure everyone who meets them is blessed - they glow love from the Lord, and they are doing His work.  And I bet they would say they are blessed in return.

Helen and Ellen. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

weigh in

Hello friends.  This morning my mom and I went to our local Weight Watchers meeting, I weighed in and lost 1.4 lbs.  I was discouraged at first, really hoping for more, but quickly realized that was the old-me way of thinking.  "Not good enough. What did you do wrong.  You shouldn't have done this-this-and-this."  BUT the new me is filled with gratitude for my change in attitude and happy that's 1.4 less of me now!!  I'll take it!  I woke up this morning NOT filled with shame and disgust, but THANKING GOD for this light switch in me that He seems to have turned on.  Something has just all of a sudden clicked and I am so encouraged to be healthier and choose more happiness in my life.  I have really enjoyed the last few days and it's a wonderful feeling.

Thank you for your support - I cherish your words to me.  This journey is going to take a long time, but for the first time in my life, instead of feeling overwhelmed by it, I'm excited.  I'm excited about the work God will do in me, with the hope that someday I can help others.  I may not weigh 700 lbs but I don't feel any different from someone who does.  I get them.

This coming week will be my first real week on the Weight Watchers program, as I hadn't really been trying until Wednesday of last week.  I can't wait for my weigh-in next week, and I'll let you know how I do.

Thank you again for your encouragement.

Friday, February 18, 2011

a list.

On my road to a new me, I am making a list of a few things I want to work on.  Of course this list could be very long, so I'm going to limit it today to only include my physical health.

1.  Get a good multi-vitamin.

2.  Get outside to exercise whenever possible, kids in tow.  It's good for them too.

3.  Swim more regularly at the YMCA.  Swimming is my favorite exercise but I don't do it nearly as often in the winter as I should.  So to start, I'll say once a week, since currently I am going only once a month, with the kids, which is not really swimming.

4.  Be more selective about sweets when I do indulge.  Like I love a bit of chocolate with a few almonds, that's better than having a Reecie cup.  I love fruit smoothies, that's better than ice cream. You get where I'm going with this.  Better choices but not depravity.

5.  Eat more often at the table instead of snuggled up with my blankie on the couch, tv on.

6.  Include more veggies in our whole family's diet.  Colorful, farmers market kind of veggies.

7.  Eat smaller portions.

8.  Don't use food as a reward, bribery or feel-better kind of thing.  Growing up, it was a very comforting feeling to go out to eat with my family.  My dad usually was in a good mood during these outings, and that was just how my family often treated ourselves.  Pizza Hut was a fave.  And guess what, Pizza Hut is Taylor's fave today.  I want her to enjoy it now and then, but not as a reward or way to feel good - just simply as a treat once in awhile.

I want to remark that as I go through this journey, my childhood/adolescent years will be brought up, as just like ANYONE, it has contributed to my gifts and downfalls of today.  But I want to say, that I believe I have free will, and I am not blaming anyone in my family for the choices I make.  In my earlier post, I remarked that growing up we weren't allowed snacks.  I should have elaborated, as that was when I was younger, not an adolescent and home with my brother after school by ourselves.  Because then I certainly did help myself to snacks!!  Also, if my mom was home (my mom worked for my dad, so sometimes she was home, sometimes he was), the blessed lady of course gave us something to eat if we were hungry.  But my dad, may he rest in peace, had many demons, and he didn't know how to deal with them.  He parented us the way he was parented.  What I am trying to do now, is learn from those mistakes, and not repeat them with my children.  I believe some bad habits that I have were formed from the time I was very young.  But in that same breath, my parents modeled other behaviors that I WANT to emulate, that I want my own children to receive from me.  Isn't this all our story - we want to repeat somethings about our childhoods, but other things we swear we'll never do?!

Thanks for reading.  Tomorrow I weigh in at Weight Watchers, I'll let you know how that goes.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011


First of all, I want to thank everyone who left me a comment after my last post.  I love comments!!  Thank you for your encouragement, your words of affirmation.  Thank you for receiving me kindly.  Thank you also, for being honest with me too - a few comments echoed my thoughts of low self-worth, and it surprised me.  I wrongfully assume that just because someone is thin and beautiful, that they are content and happy with themselves.  Dear friends, what a tragedy this is.  We have these perfectly-put-together bodies designed by God, given to us to use for Him while we are here on Earth, and we mistreat it.  Whether physically or emotionally.  In my case, both.  I think as a parent - if I gave my child something that I made, just for her, perfect for her and I KNEW it - and she stared at it everyday and talked trash, and did things to it that weren't good for it...oh that would hurt my heart.

I bring this up not to make myself feel worse...or to make anyone feel worse.  I bring this up because I want to move on from it.  I want to look at myself in the mirror and thank God for my able body, for making me how He saw fit.  I want to honor Him by good choices, and righteous thoughts.  I was thinking of this last night, and here is the Scripture I saw today, posted by a friend on FB.  She doesn't know it, but God used her to give a gift to me.

I love it when He does that.  He knows I wasn't gonna pick up a Bible this morning - but I was certainly gonna check on my FB peeps.  So He showed me what He wanted to show me, in a way He knew I would respond to.  Oh, God, I feel the love.  Thank you.

Your love is stronger than my weakness.  Romans 8:39 

Wow.  I am going to cling to that Scripture for dear life. 
And just in case I had a thick skull, which I sometimes do, this song came on the radio.  It is by a Christian singer, JJ Heller.  

oh this song speaks to me.  I haven't been that boy in the corner, or the woman whose husband has left.  But I've been the murderer in jail.  No of course I haven't killed anyone, but I have felt imprisoned, and I have desperately cried out to God.  Can I hear His words to me?  Can I hear it?  I haven't been able to before, I haven't felt it.  I didn't feel worthy of it, it seemed impossible.

But it's true.  My head knows that, I want my heart to feel it.

I am praying we all feel that today.  The love of God, which is stronger than any weakness.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

a new me. finally.


That's a really big word, isn't it.  It's not a word that you hear everyday -- guilty is a much more popular word.  Shame is more powerful than guilt, a more saddening word, really.

Shame is what I feel every single day when I wake up.  Oh it hurts to write that, but it's true. Every day when I wake up, I remember the day before I did not diet like I wanted to, so I feel shame...and disgust.  That's another big word.  These two emotions visit me every single day and

I remember in an earlier post I wrote about how I briefly thought about titling a blog, 'Sick of Weighting.'  I want to write about more than my weight and really, I wasn't ready to do that.  I wasn't ready to highlight my failures, I wasn't ready to be honest in such an accountable way to people who I did not know their intentions towards me.  You see, I know that some people will read my words and have empathy and understanding.  They will want more for me, for me to be happy, but not punish me within their minds for my shortcomings.  But others...will they look at me in disgust?  Will they wonder what the hell my problem is, just DO IT already!  But here's the thing - no one can look at me with more disgust than how I look at myself.  And anyone that has any kind of understanding about addictions in general, will understand it's not just too many cookies and not running around the block enough.  It's so much more.

When I was a child, I wasn't allowed snacks.  It really was kind of ridiculous, because when my dad was a child he also wasn't allowed snacks, and it was not healthy for him either.  Once he shared a memory of his mom chasing him down the street because he took a piece of bread.  And yet, I would stow away food in my closet for when I got hungry, knowing I wouldn't be allowed to eat.  I would eat that food not only when I got hungry, but when I would hide in my closet, listening to my dad have an episode of anger towards my mom or brother.

ok this is getting heavy, but I'm ready now.  I want to grow, I want to move on from this.  Please just dismiss this if it's not your cup of tea.

I don't want to speak ill of my dad, he's dead many years now.  If he had lived, I want to believe we would have reconciled some of the issues from my childhood that made rifts in our relationship.  I don't blame him for everything.  I am accountable for my own choices, but habits are hard to break and I am explaining how I became the person I am today.

Anyway, in grade school I started noticing I didn't have skinny legs like my friends.  But there was much stress in my home life, and food was my comfort.  I have many memories of my growing-up years that I wish I didn't have...and attached to those memories are more memories of how food made it all better.  So as much as I wanted to have the skinny legs, I needed to eat.  Then came the middle school years, and so then came boys.  Still, I needed the food more.  I wasn't very heavy, but heavier than my friends.  It became something I thought about all the time...and yet, it was still less stressful thinking about my weight, than the problems at home.  Thinking about weight and food, albeit negative thoughts, was still a respite from thinking about home.  Does that even make sense?  It's like it still gave me reprieve from what was going on behind our closed doors.

The summer before going into high school though, I wanted to be like all the other girls.  So I starved myself, and lost about 25 lbs.  That was the thinnest I ever was in my life - 118 lbs was my lowest weight (well, since grade school), but I slowly started inching back up.  I started dating that year, and the feeling I got from the affection from boys was better than food.  (Can you imagine?) I just didn't really think about it that much and the slow weight gain actually didn't bother me, I don't remember why, except that I was so preoccupied with boys.  Not having a lot of boys mind you, thinking about them. :)

In November of my sophomore year I think I weighed around 130lbs and that is when I started dating someone steadily, we dated through the remainder of my high school years.  My senior year he was away at the USNA as a plebe, and that was a very stressful time for me.  We didn't manage a long distance relationship as well as I wanted to, I still loved him dearly, and my home life still had stress as it always had.  So without the comfort of a boy to ease my emotions, I went back to food full throttle.  And some drinking.  By the time I began college, I weighed around 150 - and felt very, very fat.

By the time I graduated from college, I weighed around 160.  10 lbs in 4 years wasn't too bad, and that was mostly gained my sophomore year after dad died.  I got married, and by the time I got pregnant about a year and 1/2 later, I was in the 180s.  What?!  I still don't know how that happened - well, duh, of course I know how it happened - but although that was a transitional time in my life, I wouldn't say it was a stressful time.  And with Kevin, I have certainly never had to hide food in the closet to eat later.

I just want to interrupt myself to say that this is one of the things I love most about my husband.  He met and married me at a very different weight than I am now.  He knows it is the stronghold of my life, it is bondage really, and he has never contributed to my shame and disgust, not once.  He has never looked at me accusingly, he has never made a single remark, he has never made me feel anything but accepted, supported and wanted.  He makes the same kind comments about my body to me now, as he did 10 years ago.  I just wanted to give a shout-out.

Not that he reads this.

Anyway, I got pregnant in the 180s and gained almost 40lbs with Bailey.  That put me in the 220s...which I was losing when I got pregnant with Taylor when Bailey was 15 mos old.  I was in Weight Watchers with my mom and we both were doing good, I was back in the 180s with a goal to get at least to my marriage weight by the end of the year.  Instead, by the end of that year, I was back in the 220s with a very unhappy baby, a busy husband trying to work hard to provide for us, and a 2 year old with CF and bowel issues.  So I never lost that weight.

Excuses, excuses?  Maybe.  But these last few years have been very difficult for me, and I want to validate to myself how that did have something to do with my eating.  And on my mission to a new me, I'm going to try something different - being kinder to myself.  See, I am not only sick of my weight, I am sick of the way I treat myself.  I'm sick of all of my damning thoughts.  I'm sick of thinking so much less of myself, than how I think of a perfect stranger.  I have done some good things in my life, and for the 2 seconds I reflect on those things, I spend hours reflecting on my shortcomings.  I'm sick of being nervous every time I walk into a room, worried what people think when they look at me.  I'm sick of worrying what people feel about me, wondering if they just think I'm one big failure.  Because I'm not.  And if they think that, then those aren't people I want in my life anyway.

I want to be strong.  I want to be confident.  I want to be healthy.  I want to be a good example to my girls.  You know, my children - as far as I know - still have no clue about weight and body image.  So far, neither of them have made any comments about themselves or others that have given me pause.  Well, except for the one time Taylor, looking at me while I was bending over, said I have the biggest heiney ever.  In front of my gorgeous, teen beauty of a babysitter.


Anyway, I feel like this is the perfect time to renovate myself, before they take notice that I am at an unhealthy weight - or worse, that I don't love myself.  I take pains in keeping that from them...I even stride around a water park in my bathing suit, just so they don't catch wind that I don't feel worthy of doing so.

Said bathing suit has a skirt on it by the way, something else I'm sick of.

So here's to today.  Here's to health.  Here's to loving myself, instead of hating myself.  What a leap!  I'm ready.  There will be times I fall, times I don't make the choices I should have.  Times that those damning thoughts creep back in, with a vengeance.  But I am praying, and I am confident God will help me.  He wants me to be healthy, He wants me to be the best example I can be for my girls.  I have joined Weight Watchers, and if you're interested, I can log my progress.

Can you do me a favor?  If you read this post, can you leave me a comment in the comments section?  I want to know if I should pursue sharing this topic further, or perhaps there's no interest there.

Thanks in advance for the love and prayers.

to be, or not to be...a cat.

These are 2 out of our 3 cats - Oreo and Cocoa.  They are brothers and they love each other desperately. Practically every day I am thankful we brought both of them home - what would one do without the other?

Our 3rd cat isn't in this picture - Maela, our original kitty - because she hates the above 2.  We followed the vet's advice about how to transition Mae to the change in our house, but she didn't buy it.  Oreo and Cocoa initially tried to play with her, involve her in their scampering and what-not, but she'd respond by swatting her little declawed paws at their faces and this excited them.  So now they do things like jump on her from behind, and surprise attack her from around corners.  This happens most often when they're hungry, which annoyingly begins around 5am.   Before you feel too badly for Maela, let me tell you that none of their antics go unpunished, and because she's a girl, she's also passive aggressive.  Her favorite so-there move is to ask to be let out and then sit on the other side of the door all cute, looking at the boys.  We don't let them out yet, and she knows how much they want out.  Tease.

Do you remember in grade school, the question of "if you could be an animal which would you be?"  This is actually a really hard question!  Don't make fun of me, hear me out.  If you're a dog, you get to go on long walks, play frisbee, swim in a just seems like it'd be a good time.  If you had good owners, that is.  A bird can fly wherever it wants and enjoy everything from a perch on a tree.  A hamster has a wheel and a brain the size of a pea, so it thinks the wheel is amazing.  A frog gets to sing and live in a lake.

But a they have it made.  Again, if they have good owners, and as I have seen with the kitties, if they have their sibling.  They snuggle and do everything at their own pace.  If they don't want to come out when you call them, they don't.  They answer to no one.  But if they feel like it, they're your BFF.

Sometimes I wish I could just ignore someone calling my name.  Sometimes I wish I could spend the day curled up with familiar softness, have my face licked and sleep the day away.  Sometimes I wish I answered to no one, unless I felt like it.

You have to admit, doesn't that sound good once in awhile?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

my Valentines

Kevin Andrew

He has seen me at my very worst, and he is the only person on the planet that I can be completely genuine with.  Not only can I truly be myself, but he likes who I am.  Not to say he doesn't get annoyed with me, or want more out of me at times, but his overall demeanor towards me is acceptance, love, support.   I love his sense of humor, his work ethic, his generosity and friendliness towards others.  Marriage is hard work and daily life can overshadow the person you fell in love with.  I am thankful that even in our daily life, Kevin makes me feel wanted, needed, appreciated.  Vacuuming isn't so bad when I know he'll come home and tell me the house looks great.  Most of all, I love that Kevin wants for me to be happy.  He derives happiness from my happiness.   Of everyone in my life, I would say Kevin is the person who makes me feel most accepted.  What a safe feeling.

Bailey Caelyn

Bailey made me a mommy, and so she fulfilled the deepest desire of my heart merely by showing up.  She is thoughtful, sweet, empathetic.  Going to CHOP every few months for her check-ups has actually become a time when I look forward to seeing her empathy, for at her young age to be so compassionate, I am certain it's a spiritual gift.  She prays for the children she sees, asks questions, and is so concerned.  I encourage her compassion, but I don't want her to be a "burden bearer" either, so I am thankful she knows how to lay those burdens at the feet of Jesus.   She is a great big sister, and has been since Hottie Tots came on the scene when Bailey had just turned 2.  She was still a baby herself, but as Taylor was a very needy baby, Bailey had to forego some time with me.  It had been just Bailey and I for 2 years and yet she handled it very well.  She's no angel, but she's my tender-hearted sweetheart.  She's very emotional, and because of that I have the feeling she and I will really butt heads in her teenage years, but I also have a strong feeling we will always be close.  I hope so.  Of everyone in my life, I would say Bailey is the person who makes me feel most challenged.  Not because she is challenging, (she can be) but because I want to live up to being a good mother to her.  She deserves it.

Taylor Elise

I always wanted a sister, so when I found out I was having a second girl, I was so happy for my girls to have each other.  Time will tell what kind of relationship they'll have, but I hope they will be best friends.  I know that for now, Tatie adores Bailey, and has learned so much from her.  But we've all learned a lot from Taylor too.  Taylor has done more to change me as a human being than anyone else.  When Bailey was diagnosed with CF, I thought that was my trial as a parent - I thought Bailey's disease was going to be my cross to bear.  It's been horrible at times over these last 7 years, but that has not been my trial.  Taylor's needs completely undid me when she was a baby and toddler, and I literally fell to my knees in desperation because I knew that I was not enough for her.  I needed Jesus - we all did - but Taylor really needed more help than I knew how to give.  She has received that help, and what we have learned from that time in our lives has been priceless.  Over the last few years, because her needs are now being met, we are able to see the little person she is - and whoa, is she amazing.  Strength, bravery, humor, love...she is a powerhouse and that is putting it mildly.  She is an absolute joy.  Of everyone in my life, I would say Taylor is the one who makes me feel most needed.  I know with her, there is no one that could ever take my place.

I am thankful to love and be loved.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

sometimes things work out.

Today I am thankful that my Bailey Caelyn is feeling better.  She has strep for the second time in a month, and yesterday she was so ill and sad.  It broke my heart.  But today, she is playing and laughing and that is a wonderful feeling.

This picture was taken when she was 5 in Disney, but I love it.  I love the hat, and the "Mom, really, you're taking a picture of me in this?" look on her face.  I love that little Target sundress she has on, because that was my safety outfit for her I kept rolled up in the bookbag and she's wearing it because she had just dripped ice cream all over herself.  So I loved the feeling of being the Mom who was actually prepared, versus being the Mom who wasn't -- which I've been LOTS of times.

First memory of that which comes to mind is the time I was at the Shop Rite, and Tatie was playing in the free daycare they have there.  I hear, "Mrs Gutelius, come to Scrunchies Playhouse immediately.  Mrs Gutelius, to the Playhouse, immediately."

As I hot-footed it to the daycare, many thoughts came to mind as to what the problem may be.
*Taylor told off the teacher and she'd had it.
*Taylor told off another child and the parent wanted to register a complaint with me.
*Taylor squeezed another child, shoved another child, yelled at another child.
*Taylor was screaming bloody murder for Mommy, although I think I would have heard her as far back as the dairy case.

This girl.

What didn't come to mind, which is what happened, is that Tatie pooped her pants.  Not a lot, but enough.  She told me she thought it would "just be a beanie, but oops, poopie came out.  WIPE MEEEEEEEE!"

So I left my 1/2 full cart and took her to the bathroom.  I had no spare unders with me, so I had a dilemma.  Do I wipe her up and put her back in the daycare, commando under her leggings?  Is that really really wrong?  How do I talk Taylor into my plan, when the girl doesn't do well with change, and having no unders on is a BIG change?  And how do I get her to keep it a secret so the daycare workers don't think I'm nasty, when the girl also NEVER STOPS TALKING?!

This story has a happy ending.  I bribed Taylor to the hilt after pretending that it was a really funny game, and she did it.  Or she didn't, and the daycare workers still think I'm a nasty mom who'd rather finish her shopping than take her child home to be properly under-ed.

Regardless, I didn't have to make a whole separate trip back to get my milk, bread and fruit snacks.  yes, I'm also that mom that buys fruit snacks, (is it better that they're no-high fructose corn syrup ones?!  Please say it's better).

I wonder what my kids will think someday, thinking back on these memories, if they can in fact, remember.  Will they laugh at the times we were on a walk and I let them pee like boys in the woods, or will they wonder why I didn't take them to the potty first?  I'll tell you why - because I forget.  Sometimes, 7 years into this Mommy-gig, I still feel like I am completely winging it, completely unprepared for anything that happens on any given day.

But sometimes, like with Bailey in that picture in her safety dress, I'm reminded that I have a day or two where I do have a clue.  That's a great feeling.

But not as great as the feeling I have right now, watching Bailey and Taylor laugh and play, knowing all is right with Bailey's world, that she is feeling better.  When your child is ill, you'd give anything to make her better and it's awful when you're helpless and can't snap your fingers and make it right.  I'm so happy this is a good day for her.

Hoping you have a good day today as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thinking Thursday

what up.

no really, what up?  I'm lonely.  Bailey was home sick today, so other than talking to Kev a few times for a few minutes and talking to B's CHOP nurse, I was by me-lonesome.  I read to Bailey, played Mario on the Wii w/her, was her maid-servant, cook and nurse, and did laundry, Lysol-ing, couponing, and cleaned out the fridge and both freezers.   And Tatie, who will NOT be ignored, was home for 1/2 the day too.

I hate winter.  Other than the Thanksgiving-Christmas season, there's not much in it for me.  I like the snow for one or two days, max.  The kids get sick more often and even when they're not, I just feel so stuck-inside-ish.  Which leaves me plenty of time to think.  After all, if you aren't thinking while cleaning a bathroom, but you're actually present in that moment and focused on the bathroom, isn't that depressing?  So I think about other stuff.

Today I thought...

* I really need to learn how to do Craigslist.  I KNOW it's seemingly easy, I just haven't done it yet.  One of the biggest reasons is bc I have a Mac, and of course I forget the password I gave for my Mac email, which is linked to Craigslist for selling...ugh.

*I need to get a thing that goes into the side of my Mac so I can upload pics.  My current system is to make CDs of my pics before I clear my memory card (my memory card won't fit in this computer, don't know why).  Anyway, I want to learn how to do stuff like online scrapbooks. i-photo, etc.  I am VERY behind the times.

*I am not pro-active enough.  I love playdates, coffee-dates, dinner-dates with friends, but I am not usually who organizes these things.  I want to make a list of everyone I want to do these things with, and start scheduling.  It'll be good for my kids too, to have more playdates.

*I need to finish a few scrapbooks I have literally abandoned in the middle of pages.  Because I have a mild case of ADD or something similar, I have at least 5 scrapbooks that I started but haven't finished.  I get overwhelmed just thinking about it, so I do nothing.  What I DO do, thankfully, is keep up with our yearly memory albums, usually 3 or 4 a year.  This is just your basic slip-the-pics-in-the-slot type.

*I want to start being nicer to Kevin.  There's really no point in being snarky, except to make a point.  I have known for quite a while that nice begets nice, but yet sometimes I feel I can't help myself!!  Thankfully, he is known to laugh at my remarks instead of be mad, but I should just try harder to be nice (ie - "Kevin, is it against your religion to NEVER clean the kids placemats?!  You'll "clean" the kitchen, but leave crusty spaghetti sauce on the mats?!  What gives?!!!")
    -- Breakdown of snarkiness --
*my tone of voice
*my air-quotations with the word "clean"
*asking if something is against his religion, when he could go so much further down that road with me.  If he wanted to - "Brynn, is it against YOUR religion to NEVER get me the Oreos I love at the store?  How about rubbing MY back once in awhile?!  And when you're done with my back, is it against your religion to go ahead and...."

Okay I'm stopping myself.  He would have a very valid point.  But once again, this is a family-friendly site.  (that's me pretending anyone other than a few good friends are even ever going to be reading this post.  The above mentioned husband has STILL not even checked out my blog.

It's against his religion.

Other than this thought-provoking, another day-inside-with-chores kind of day, I've had a nice week and I'm thankful. Tomorrow, hopefully B will be well and we are going out with a bunch of friends while sitters watch all our kids.  Yay!! shows are on tonight.  This makes me very happy, and means I will not be thinking any more tonight.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tatie's faith walk

Before Kevin and I even had children, there was no question we wanted to raise them IN the church.  We didn't want to just have faith, and say "grace" before meals.  We wanted to become a part of a church family, where we surrounded ourselves with other believers in Jesus, and where our children could hear the Word of God spoken by people other than just us.  When Bailey was a baby, we attended Kevin's church that he was raised in, as my FIL spoke often there as an associate pastor.  But it wasn't "home."  Then when Taylor was a baby...we didn't just want a home church, we needed it.  After schlepping the children to different churches in our area, we happened upon HOPE UMC in Voorhees.  Bailey, at a young 2 years old. had cried her precious little face off every Sunday as we were trying the other churches but at HOPE she made it through the whole service.  They had a beautiful, large nursery for toddlers, and for infants they had a cozy little room with many toys, rockers, and 2 women who took to my Tatie right away.  They are still dear friends.  Kevin and I felt welcomed and wanted there, and they had many programs for young families.  That was 5 years ago next month.

Bailey has always accepted God as her Maker, Jesus as her Savior, her whole young life.  She has never questioned us on it, she just believes it.  She has seen times when she prays to Jesus and he helps her, and she accepts that when he doesn't - although it's hard - there is a plan at work and God's timing is perfect.  She knows we don't have to understand God to believe in Him.  She hasn't questioned why she has "special lungs" and other children don't - she knows that most of us have something "special" about us that you can see or not see.  I pray this faith remains with her throughout her life.  At a young 6 yrs old, she even told me she wants to go to other countries and tell people about Jesus.  My mother-heart that skipped a beat hearing her desire to leave my side, said, (and yes, I am embarrassed about this) "Bailey, you know you can tell people about Jesus right here in NJ!!  You don't have to go anywhere...." and she said, "Mommy, if Jesus says to go, I should go, and help the people that need him."

Whoa.  Yes, I was proud.  Over-flowing-ly proud.  But scared to be honest.  I shared the conversation with Kevin and because he's not a nut-job like me, simply told Bailey he was so happy that she wants to help people learn about Jesus.

Anyway.  Taylor, on the other hand, has been much more hesitant to jump on the Bible-bandwagon.  We have many, many memories of her screaming "No Jesus!!!!" and refusing to pray or even hear our prayers.  She didn't want to learn about God, read the Bible, pray.  Nothin'.  She had several, several temper tantrums on the way to church and HOPE could hear us coming the second we got out of the car.    Now of course we know that much of what she didn't like about church -- the many people and even the eye contact that friendly faces who tried to say hello to her gave -- was part of her sensory disorder.  But all the same, we had one child who wanted to give a message every time she said grace for her Cheerios, and another who didn't even want a cross hanging in her room.

I'm not kidding about that, fyi.  A friend gave me a beautiful children's cross as a gift when Taylor was born, and Tatie would climb on her chair, to climb on her dresser, to remove the cross.  I would hang it back up, and down again it would come.

But I did not worry.  Both of our children have the right to choose what they believe.  Of course Kevin and I would encourage them to believe what is Truth to us, but they still have free will.  But I knew that Taylor was God's child...and today, at 5 years old, she accepted Christ into her heart.

For the last year and 1/2 she has fully enjoyed attending HOPE.  She loves it.  She has many friends and everyone knows her and mostly everyone "gets" her.  A Tatie-Tot fan club, really.  She prays with Kevin, Bailey and I, she participates when we read from the childrens Bible.  She talks about God and Jesus.  But until today, I didn't really know if she got it.

This morning, I attended Bible study while Taylor played in the nursery with her friends.  Coming home, we were listening to music when she said, "Mommy, I don't want to go to Heaven because I'd miss you."  I told her what I believe about Heaven, and said that she and I both won't be there for a long, long time.  We stayed in the car once we got home and talked about how people get to Heaven, and death.  It's very difficult talking to a 5 yr old about these things, I didn't want to scare her.  I also didn't want her to go up to an old person the next time she saw them and say, "Mommy says very old people close their eyes and go to Heaven if you believe in Jesus.  Are you going to die today?  You look very old."

We talked, she asked questions, and really seemed to get it.  She said, "ok, so, no pain, no crying, lots of fun stuff, everyone's there, ok.  Yes."  She even said, "you're old, and you die, but then it's like a new beginning because you start over."  I asked her, "Taylor, do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for us, so we could be with him forever in Heaven? Do you want to have Jesus with you in your heart?" This is a concept she understands, because in helping Taylor get over her separation anxiety, we talked alot about how Daddy and I are always near, and she has us in her heart if she feels lonely.  She can think about us whenever she wants to.  Anyway, she waited a minute.  Like, a full minute, thinking.  Then she said, "Yes, I believe that."

and then she asked to go inside and get a yogurt stick.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

thankful tuesday

Today, I am thankful for...

*The sun is shining.  NJ has been so gray, snowy, rainy, slushy, yucky.  Yesterday the girls and I were even outside for an hour with them was no spring, but it was better than being inside.

*tv.  Is this wrong that I listed this as number 2?  You guys already know I love my fam more than the tv.  BUT I love tuesday night tv and I'm looking forward to it.

*had a great meeting this morning planning future MOPS meetings and I just love my friends on the steering team.  Such joy, encouragement, support, love.  They get me and I get them.  It's a great feeling.

*yesterday I went grocery shopping and happened to keep running into another mom there, with her severely autistic son, who was at least 8.  I wanted to hug her, desperately.  I wanted to have her over for coffee.  I wanted to hear her story and cry with her.  I did nothing, but smile at her and her son and pray.  I know nothing about her life, except that every day she wakes up to a life she never knew she'd have, and somehow she has to have the strength to get through.  What I am thankful for, is that I am not that mom.  Does that sound horrible?  Regardless, that feeling of praying for her, but being thankful I'm NOT her, has carried over into today.  I wish I had thought of a way to talk to her without offending her.

*tonight I'll meet Kev at the YMCA with the girls for them to play in the daycare while he and Iwalk a few miles together.  It's almost like a date so I'll take it.  We love the Y.

*while I type this I am watching a DVR'd Oprah and the girls are in school.  You can't get better than that.

*thankful for the feeling of thankfulness.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I am copying my friend Haley's idea for her blog, and listing 10 random facts about myself.  This is because today, I can't write about anything else...not for lack of content, but if I started down that road, I'd be up writing 'til midnight...

So this should be short and sweet right?

1.  I hated my name growing up.  Substitute teachers would say, "Brian?  Is Brian here?"  My dad would say when I was 18 I could go to the court house and change it but by then I didn't mind it and now I like it.

2.  Taylor told me today she doesn't like the "lines" on my stomach (stretch marks for those of you not in the know.  And if you're not in the know, I'm jealous of you.)  I have read articles about women that celebrate their stretch marks as "badges of honor" from pregnancy, but they only remind me I used to be thinner and then my skin got all stretched out from huge-ness.  I just ate a few Girl Scout cookies (damn those cute little peddler girls) so I feel another line coming on.

3.  Kevin is sitting near me and breathing very loudly.  When we were dating and newlyweds, I would snuggle next to him in the movies....snuggle snuggle snuggle.  Now I try to lean as far to the side as possible.  If there is a stranger next to me on the other side, I have to weigh whether or not I want to get strange looks because of the leaning into them, or should I lean into Kevin and endure the breathing. 

4.  Lots of things make me feel proud -- Bailey talking sweetly to another child, Taylor whispering to me what she thinks about another child, instead of saying it out loud and hurting someone's feelings.  But this one fact makes me very proud -- my mom is 67 and dresses so cute.  Random, I know.  But my mom is amazing...she is strong, comforting and she has my back like no one else.  And she looks so cute in her leather jacket.

5.  I have a lot of dreams.  At this point in my life, I've let stress and the monotony of daily life keep me from doing anything about it.  I don't even like to tell people what I dream bc I'm afraid of seeing a look on their face that says, "oh Brynn you deluded woman..."so I just think about it before I fall asleep at night.  And then I have to think about something else because it makes me feel overwhelmed that I haven't done anything towards my dreams yet.

6.  That being said, I'm living my biggest dream - being a mommy.  NOTHING has ever mattered more to me than having children.  And I had to have a girl.  I told Kev that if we have boys I know I would love them, but we'd have to adopt a girl too.  So sometimes when I want to bang my head on the wall from all the girl-drama in this house, I remind myself it's exactly what I wanted.  *what are the teen years going to be like?!!!*

7.  I feel closest to God when I sing, and I love to sing.  When I was a young teenager for a few years my dad, brother and I would get paid to sing for a Catholic church each Saturday night that had a traditional Latin mass.  I don't remember any Latin.

8.  I cry a lot.  Oh, you knew that already?  Well, I can't help it.  Everything does it to me -- seeing the joy my children have, sentimental commercials on tv, laughing at something, looking at pictures.  Actually, I can't even look at some pictures, the desire to be back in that moment, if only for a minute, is so strong.  Since my dad died I haven't watched a home movie or looked but for a second at any pictures.  Kevin and I take many home movies of the girls, but it's already difficult to watch them sometimes...I just want to hold that little baby all over again!!!  But I am sure if I was back in that moment...a 2 year old and a screaming, mad baby...I would want to be back in the present!  I have a strong tendency to romanticize the past.

9.  We have 3 cats, which is more than enough.  A black one, a black-and-white one, and a gray tabby.  But for some reason, I feel incomplete.  It seems like we should have an orange one.  I tried feeling Kevin out about this and he thought I had been drinking, so I dropped it.  For now.

10.  When Bailey was a baby, every day she would take a nap on me.  I would sit in my easy chair with the phone, remote and a book and just soaked it up.  I knew it wouldn't last forever.   She'd wake up and look at me, the side of her face all red and her hair damp and matted against her face, and her brown eyes would just be huge!  I'm a sucker for big brown eyes.

this took longer than I thought.


Friday, February 4, 2011

love story part 2

I didn't know if anyone would really be interested in this story, but one person was, so I'll continue :)

I left off at just having told Kevin my feelings for him.  Talk about nerve - I was risking losing his friendship over the certain weirdness that would ensue if he did not feel the same as I did.  I risked other friendships, as we shared many friends and what happens when one friends is weird with another?  But now I believe God gave me strength, because for once I took a risk.  After he said "ditto" and we just looked at each other and then hugged goodnight, I laid awake wondering, "ditto" to what?!  Ditto that he liked having me as a friend, ditto that he didn't want to lose our friendship?  Or ditto that he had feelings for me other than friendship?  I didn't know - all I knew was I was confused beyond belief, a little relieved, a lot scared, and that the ball was in his court.

The next day I had a friend from college come visit, I told her everything, and she didn't know what the hold up was.  She saw the flirting - Kevin was still over my house as well and we made like nothing had happened but there was this THING hanging over our heads.  During these couple days Kevin and I did something we had never done before and we have never done since.

Wait for it....

Wait for it....

We went jogging together.  That's how in love I was.  Jogging.  Fast.  It's amazing I didn't pass out.  I wanted him to think I could keep up with a jock like him.  I also pretended - not too much because I didn't want to lie - that I liked some sports.

When you're in love you don't think straight.

Anyway, I was convinced that we really did act like more than friends but he wasn't making any moves. And I wasn't making any more.

So a few days pass and I had to work a night shift at GA and he didn't.  I got home late and - remember this? - I checked to see who was on IM.  Kevin was, and we IM' I know he was waiting for me, knowing I'd check when I got home :)

So on IM, after much small talk about absolutely nothing, Kevin asked me to start dating.  I said I thought he'd never ask, and that is how we began.  I printed out the pages and pages of that IM conversation, because that is when he first said he was in love with me, that he wanted to marry me, that he had "eyes" for me for a very long time.  I remember sitting there staring at the computer screen, wondering if it was really real, and if a dream like that could really come true for me.

In my eyes, he was perfect.  He loved God, loved family, loved to have fun and laugh, respected women, was a gentleman.  He was generous, educated, soft-hearted but strong.  And he was so handsome :)  And this boy, this man, was saying he wanted to marry me and take care of me for the rest of our lives.  I couldn't believe it.

Our first date was to Carabbas, and although it felt kind of different, it felt very natural too.  We had a great time, and then came back to my house where we had our first kiss.  I'll leave it at that, this is a family-friendly blog after all :)

I was so happy, so fulfilled.  We dated for the next year, and got engaged the summer before our senior year.  I was 20 going on 21...young.  Now I know that.  At the time, we didn't care that we both didn't have jobs lined up...we knew we'd have an amazing life and we wanted to start asap.  So when we married in August of 2001, we had been dating for 2 years.  Now that I am a mom, I'd hope my daughters date a bit - or a lot depending on their age - more than that, and wait until they're older to marry.  We had an apartment in Haddonfield that cost us $615 a month - it was tiny but charming.  And so started our life as newlyweds, with all of its joy and "learning about each other" that was stressful and alarming.

We might've had a few fights where I locked myself in the bathroom and I may or may not have run out of the apartment in my nightie wanting to drive home to my mom.  He followed me.

And that's the thing.  Kevin has always followed me.  He has led me, he has walked beside me, and he's followed me.  I love him more now than I did then -- even though I know more now.  I know about the temper, the non-stop-sports on the radio AND tv, the forgetfulness.  I also know though, that no matter what happens in life, he will support me, and comfort me, and remind me about what really matters.  He has made me more mad than any human being EVER, but nobody else has made me laugh harder or feel more loved.

When I married, I knew there would be mornings I'd look at the face next to me, and think Really?!  Forever?  For the rest of my LIFE?!  But I knew if I made a choice to still be married, to still ACT like I loved him, I would.  And that's what's happened.  I've never doubted my love for him - he's my family.  He's the dad to my kids, and a great dad.  But we have had some rough days...and nights.

But for more-than-the-most part of it, I have been very happily married to my best friend, and I am so grateful.  I pray my girls will meet and marry someone like their dad, someone who makes them laugh so hard they pee a little.  Someone who is kind, gentle, strong.  Someone who wants all their dreams to come true.  Someone who loves the Lord and wants to raise their family in the church.

And most importantly, someone who never moves them away from me.

Flash Back Friday - love story version

So I thought today I would tell you my love story with Kevin Andrew.  It's not a special day or anything today, but he looked charming in his suit as he was leaving this morning, and it made me reflect on the fact that I still like him.

We met in college, Eastern University in PA - although at that time it was Eastern College, a small school.  It's still small and that's such an integral part of its charm.  I actually hope my girls will attend there someday - and if one of us work there, they could go for free....

As I've said before, I write as I talk.

Anyway, we were in choir together, and many of my friends had become friends with him, but he seemed a bit aloof to me and he wore a Goofy baseball cap.  Now, if you're wondering if I capitalized "Goofy" by mistake because I couldn't possibly mean the Disney character - oh but I do.  The Disney character was on top his head.

Let's take a moment and try to get beyond that, because I had to.

Well I saw more and more of him, because of the friends we had in common.  He had this habit of making "rounds" every night and visiting his friends - which after awhile I really enjoyed, he was so intentional about his friendships.  We started saying hello around campus, eating together at the cafeteria with other friends.  He redeemed his Goofy-cap-ness by being on the baseball team and looking cool in khakis.

I love me some khakis.

But....he had a girlfriend.  I remember him calling her one night from my room, making plans I think for Valentine's day, or something.  I thought she has such a treasure in this boy, I wonder if she knows it.

I had dated a boy very seriously throughout most of my high school days, and he and I had finally ended our relationship for good before I left for college.  My first year I enjoyed being with friends, and I didn't have a desire to look around for dates.  So freshman year we were friends, nothing more, and I just had a blast with these people that I now felt were family.

The summer before sophomore year Kevin and his girlfriend broke up.  I remember hearing about it from a friend, who pointedly told me with a lift in her voice.  We really were nothing more than friends, but she knew I had a softness for him, a teeny crush if you will.  Maybe more than a crush.  But he had a girl, and even if he hadn't, I never thought he'd go for me.  I didn't look or act anything like his girl from home, and he was friends with EVERYONE.

So returning to school sophomore year, I started dating a friend of one of my Eastern friends.  He didn't go to the school and he was a bit older, both qualities I liked.  He was cute, funny, and really sweet with me.  I dated him because I was ready to date, he asked, and I really liked being with him.  But I knew I'd never love him, I figured that out early on.  I just didn't.  We had fun, and I was starting to question what to do because I could tell from how he was talking and acting that he wanted to get more serious.  And I still had this teeny crush on Kevin -- I didn't want to, but he just made me feel something every time he entered a room.

On Nov 3, 1998 my soph year, my dad died.  I was awakened by a phone call from our neighbor at home telling me my dad was ill, I had to come home.  He had died already but she didn't tell me that.  My friend Brookie drove me home bc we took my car and it was stick shift - she and I were close friends and I was comforted to have a friend with me.  Once home and finding out he died, she called my roommate who told our other friends and a few hours later a few carloads of my friends arrived.

I can't begin to tell you the comfort they brought me.  They stayed the whole week.  I will never forget that feeling of protection and love they gave to me.  Kevin was one of those friends.

My dad died on a Tuesday, we returned to Eastern Sunday night.  On Saturday night, I remember all of us were watching Sat night live in the family room, piled on the floor and the snuggle chairs (my mom has a couple of these oversized chairs just the right size for snuggling.  It's where Kevin and I had our first kiss but I am getting WAY ahead of myself),

Anyway, I was laying on the floor and Kev was on a couch above me.  He was playing with my hair, rubbing my shoulders.  Over the week he brought me immense comfort - treating my friends to dinner, being a driver to the funeral, sitting with me and not saying a word.  This was the one time in my life I went days without eating, I just drank hot tea, and he said if I ate a meatball he'd drink tea with me.

Thanks a lot Kev, I jumped back on that eating bandwagon and never got off.

So he was playing with my hair and I laid there, frozen.  I didn't want to move a single muscle.  But all feelings aside, the fact was I was still dating someone else, and my father had just died, I knew he was just being nice to me.

Shortly after returning to Eastern, my boyfriend and I broke up, we just weren't meant to me.  He was such a nice boy.

So the rest of that year was spent grieving my dad, worrying about my mom and brother, and getting through classes.  Some of my friendships took a beating, no one knows what to say when someone's parent dies, and I didn't know how to act.  With some friends I distanced myself, and with others I clung too tightly - now I know how scared I was, how sad.

Kevin was such a wonderful friend to me that year, we got very close.  He would lay with me and watch movies, he would take me out, he would offer to pick me up dinner from the cafeteria, he would hold my hand in classes we had together.  He was funny, but so soft-hearted too towards me.  I had such strong feelings for him but I truly thought his feelings for me were out of pity, and just being a good person.  I thought he'd do the same for anyone else.

In the springtime of our sophomore year, both of us wanted to be RAs our junior year, so we went on a "RA weekend" with other new RAs to get to know the RDs and other RAs.  It was campy, outside, and a lot of fun.  Near the end of the weekend, we were told to write something we wanted to give over to God on a rock, and throw it into the creek.  I wrote, "my feelings for KG" because I didn't want to feel this way for someone  else's future husband, and it was getting very difficult being around him, loving him so much.

So I threw the rock and prayed.  An hour later, we were told to gather in a circle and hold hands - the person across from us was to be our prayer partner now and into the following year.  Who was across from me?


I was really mad at God.  I remember telling my roommate all about it, and she just smiled - she was always convinced we'd end up together.

Holding hands with a khaki-wearing boy who loves Jesus and praying in secluded areas around our beautiful campus did nothing to "take away my feelings" for him.  hmmm.

Summer came, and I returned to my summer job of working at a photo stand at Great Adventure, which I loved.  I worked there for several summers with great friends.  He didn't have a job, and we had begun talking on the phone almost every night - so I said, come work at GA - it's 45 minutes away but that's what I drive too, it's not so bad and the money's good.

So he did, and the "uniform" for our photo stand was khaki shorts and a white shirt.

You know by now how I felt about that.

We would go back to each others houses after work and he became friends also with my "work friends."  One night he went with me to one of our friend's houses for a get-together, and then he slept over my house.  There I was again, sitting on the floor with him on the couch above me, and he was playing with my hair.

What's UP with that?!

So I just let it all go.  I told him how I felt, I went on and on.  I told him I was honored to have his friendship and I didn't want to lose it, but I just had to tell him.  He didn't say a word until the end, where he said "ditto."  And then we said good-night.

If you've met my husband, you are sitting in disbelief that he was speechless.  It was the one and only time.

I woke up my mom and told her all about it.  She was happy and went back to sleep.  I didn't sleep.

We started dating a few days later, which is where I will pick up this story next time.  I have written enough for a book and I have the feeling I have given anyone who has actually read the whole thing a headache.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

drowning in papers

So it's that time of year - tax time.  ugh.  My stomach literally clenches at the thought.  You would think I would jump up and down for joy - we usually get a sizable return (which I know is bad, it means the gov is earning on our money and we're not but oh well).  BUT I am TERRIBLE with paperwork.  By terrible I mean I literally have shopping bags full of receipts, paid bill statements, and most of all - insurance claims/bills.  It is the bane of my existence.   No, not that bad...but it's not pretty that's for sure.

So once a year I dump the bags on the table and sort out what to keep, shred, file, and put in the taxes folder.  Our accountant last year told Kevin, "Your wife is great, she's always so organized for me!  Tell her she makes my job easier, thank you!"  Um, WHAT?!  If he only knew the hours and hours I spend going through my mess that I have created over the year.

After tax time I resolve to not let that happen again, and for one month I file diligently.  mmm - not that long.  Maybe 2 weeks.  Then I start my pile-up again, one mortgage statement and Kohl's bill at a time.  One of the problems is I never know what to throw away.  I wonder if we'd need it - which is really ridiculous now that there are ways online to track years worth of statements.  But I like the paper.  It makes me feel safe if I had something to prove.

I have a similar if not worse problem with the girls art work.  Oh, my girls LOVE themselves a good art project.  Several times a day.  Not to mention what they cart home with them that their teachers dump in their bookbags.  When they were younger I would write on the back what they said it was ("Mommy and Daddy swinging me in the water" for instance was a yellow blob in a circle of blue) and the date.  They are 7 and 5 and so now I have BINS and BASKETS of these art projects.  At this rate, by the time they move on from elementary school the 4 of us will be living in a shed in the backyard and their art projects will have free reign over the house.

Before you picture us on the Lifetime show Hoarders, I have gotten creative about where I stow these bins and baskets.  I have a 2 car garage and full size attic, if that's an indication.  Plus their closets, drawers, my desk.  Behind their dressers and desks.  Behind my dresser.

I hope Kevin is not reading this post, I have the feeling I would come home one day to a bonfire in the backyard.

I have tried to stop.  I have tried taking pictures of said art projects.  I do throw some things away - I really do.  When the girls are at school, because Bailey has fallen apart after seeing one of her "creations" in the recyclables.  So much though, I have kept.  What if someday I want to touch it, trace the lines where their little hands colored?  You see, my REAL problem is that I am mourning them leaving the house YEARS before they even leave.

(you are thinking right now, I had no idea Brynn was this twisted in real life).

I don't know what my "REAL" problem is about keeping all our financial paperwork other than I am a TERRIBLE bookkeeper and TERRIBLY disorganized.

When I grow up, I'll be better.