Dad

It feels very awkward as you try to sort through the thoughts and stages of grief after someone passes. I had sixteen hours in the car to work on mine. 

Dad, where do I start?

Let’s start at the end….or what I hope to be your brand new beginning. 

Our dad worked 38 1/2 years for the same company. Last month, after almost two years of talking about it, he decided to retire. He called me after he finished his last physical day of work and said he hadn’t slept that well in years. I know what an amazing feeling that must have been for him, the man didn’t sleep at night. 

Two years ago, he got a special gift, a grandson on his birthday. I’m so very grateful that my son will forever share that special day with his papa D and that my sister and I were able to give him four grandchildren that he knew and had the chance to love. 

Five years ago, he took turns walking my sister and I down the aisle. The year before, he was skeptical, but supportive, when I told him I was moving to Texas. 

Before that, my sister and I had first jobs, graduations, proms, first driving experiences, first boyfriends, soccer games, cheer practice, dance recitals, first days of school, first steps,and first words. Our dad was there. He was there for all of those things. 

Our dad was so many things to so many people, strangers included.  I remember one day, we were riding in his truck and we came to an intersection were a man’s car was stalled. Dad pulled into the nearest parking lot and got out and helped the man push his car. My 7 year-old self sat watching from behind the dash. When the car was moved out of the way and the man had more help, dad returned to the truck and got in. Once we started moving again, I asked my Dad, “Did you know that man?” 

Of course he didn’t. 

Confused by this, I followed up, 

“then why did you help him?”

His response? 

“Because one day, that could be you, and I would want someone to help you if I wasn’t there.”

Dad loved to laugh, he loved to make others laugh. 

Once, my dad said he was going to the store and asked if my sister and I wanted to go. Both Caitlyn and I said we did. I was downstairs waiting (if you ever went somewhere with dad, let’s be honest, you were going to be waiting) and here comes my sister skipping into the room wearing his  Beevis and Butthead T-shirt that went to her knees, with no pants,  water balloons stuffed into one of mom’s bras, a pair of reading glasses and a long stragley looking wig. I took one look at her and said, “you aren’t wearing that.” My sister looked immediately hurt and turned to my dad. 

“Dad, do I have to change?”

Dad, without skipping a beat said, “Nope, you don’t have to change.” 

One of the greatest things about our father is that although he is no longer with us, he will always live in spirit through the stories we all have. Everyone has witnessed him do something crazy ridiculous or they have seen him do something kind. I encourage you all to share those stories as much as you can, because it’s the laughter and smiles that will forever make him present.

And, I would just like to end by saying something that dad always told us. 

“Hey, it’s going to be okay.” 

  

Something 

You don’t know me. I know you don’t know me, because I don’t know me. Here I am, wide awake at some crazy ass time. I have this burning sensation to write something, anything. I have all these book ideas floating around in my mind. I just have to commit. I have to decide which idea I should take a chance on and do it. I had to try really hard not to write “just do it” in that last sentence. I hate me. I hate 1:30 crazy, mind won’t shut down, me. 

I keep thinking I should take a writer’s workshop or writer’s bootcamp. Do they even have writer’s bootcamp? They should if they don’t, whoever they is. I hate that last sentence. Can I write anything that would even be remotely interesting to anyone besides my mother? (Sorry mom, I love you.) I read books and I get inspired. Slowly, the inspiration fades. Then, I have these freaking insomniac nights where my body is basically letting me know that it will continue to torture me if I don’t write something. So, here I am, writing something. 

But, right now, something is nothing. Something is a way to ease my mind. Something will let me roll over and go to sleep. Something won’t fill those depths and crevices of my empty mess. Something won’t make me strive to work harder and do better on my next book. Something won’t make me or anyone else examine and come head-on with those life changing questions. Something has all possibilities of being nothing. 

What does it take for something to be everything? Do I need a fancy new laptop? Is it my location? Do I need more schooling? Should I try a stress-relieving workout? I could people watch for material. I could read more books. Should I pick someone’s brain who has written a book? What do I need? What will make my something turn into everything? 

I have no answers, just the burn to write. I hope that in the end, that will be enough. 

  
My search for help continues. This sparked my interest. 

Hair Goals

I have been going so long between posts. I am officially embarrassed. My New Year’s resolution is to finalize a schedule for posting. 

I am…wait for it…wait for it…on my first Christmas break as a teacher. It’s wayyyyy past my regular bedtime. I have to admit, it feels childishly good to know that I have no work responsibilities tomorrow. But, at the same time, my teacher brain won’t take a break. I’m constantly thinking of time slots when I can get back into my room and post grades, make charts, and prepare lessons for the second half of the year. Also, in my non-sleeping brain I keep throwing around the idea of starting my workout routine back up. I will probably end up getting out of bed and just doing it, because let’s be honest, I can’t sleep thinking about all the salt, sweets and bad things I have been putting in my body lately. My Thanksgiving food trip to Ohio ended up being a bust because I caught some stomach thing and had zero appetite the whole time I was there. I actually lost weight on Thanksgiving (that sentence should never happen). 

Also floating around in my mind right now, my hair appointment tomorrow. My Pinterest won’t load (stupid “wifi” in the sticks) so I can’t look at dreamy hairstyles. So, I’ve been IG stalking stylists’ pages. Last February, I cut my hair. I cut lots of hair, like maybe 10 inches. I enjoyed it after I cut it. I have slowly been letting it grow back out. 

  
October 2014

  

February 2015

  

October 2015

I think every woman goes through phases with her hair. For a long time, I loved my hair. Now, since I have less time to manage it, I feel like I hate it. Mostly because it’s always either in a bun or in a side braid. I’m stuck on what to do. It’s boring, I never do it, and I envy people who can have pretty hair without effort. I hope the hair fairy visits me tonight and magically I know what to do. 

  
These are some cuts/colors I am oogling. Before anyone freaks…I like the cut on the blonde and although I do think the color is amazing…it would not be amazing on me. 

I stole these from @hairbycharlie just in case anyone wants to know. Apparently he is in Dallas and he kicks ass. 

November Means Food

Hello November. Hello Thanksgiving break. Hello hugs and kisses from my sweet babies. I couldn’t be more excited that these last few days are the final push before a little break. 

Life has hooked me and reeled me in full force these last few months. God blessed me with a nephew last week and I am so excited to meet him and for my kids to see their cousins and family. It’s hard to believe that some of my family has never met my youngest son. 

Is it bad that I am planning where to eat when we go to Ohio? Like, I already know what I am ordering from each place. It’s awful. My clothes may not fit when we get back. Pizza is the big one. Since my oldest was too little the last time we had Adornetto’s pizza, I have a strange anticipatory pang about his reaction to my hometown fav. Also, he may be somewhat of a pizza connoisseur since he asks for it seven nights a week. Relax, I only give it to him six of the seven nights. 

  
 Also, I know this seems weird, but the other two places are breakfast spots. Bob Evans was where we always gossiped over coffee. I am dying to feed my loves some Donald’s Donuts. I know you must be thinking I am a total fat ass. You are right. I am or at least I will be. 

  

I really don’t have anything ground-breaking to say. Just that I’m excited to see my family. I hope y’all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Momentous Month 

It’s felt like FOREVER since my last post. That’s probably because I have been busy shaping young minds (eeekk) along with my own (double eeeekkk)! 

I feel like I have transformed into a completely different person. This could be good or this could be bad. I have been teaching for a month and it has been a learning experience without a doubt. I teach high school students. Let me just say this, it is NEVER boring. 

For anyone who has ever been a first year teacher, especially one that teaches a tested area, you must know what I am talking about? I am exhausted. I am excited. I am concerned. I am nervous. I’m not nervous about talking to my students or standing in front of them to teach. I’m also not nervous about telling them that I don’t appreciate their young adult mood swings (hey, I have days when I don’t want to adult either). I am nervous about their future. I am nervous I am not putting all the right tools in their toolbox. I am nervous I haven’t gone over a standard enough. I am nervous I sound like I am on repeat. I get up at 4:00 a.m. just to consider my lessons. Are they good enough? Will this work for my student in the front? Do I need to consider assigned seating for this class? How will we review for this test? 

Yes, you can say I am a bit of a spaz right now. Oh, did I mention my 3 year-old started Pre-K too? Oh, yes! In case a career change, a husband who works away from home, bills to pay, two kids under four and animals to take of weren’t enough, we decided to send my biggest boy into the trenches. 

Sadly, my relationships are suffering as well as my sanity.  If you aren’t my husband or a teacher, chances are, we haven’t talked in a month. I would like to publicly apologize to all my friends and family. Please forgive this crazy person I have turned into. I hope I can be better at being a functional human being next year, after I have my first year teaching under my belt. 

  
Too soon? I think not. 

I won’t bore anyone with the ins and outs of my day. I know I am not the ONLY working mother in the world. I do hope I can carve out some time to post every now and again. It gives my mind some relief. In all my craziness, I have been brainstorming an idea for a book. I am looking forward to an opportunity to reasearch for it. 

P.S. I’ve decided to start using my old sign-off from my college radio days. 

Catch y’all soon! 

I’ve still got a lot of leaving left to do! 

Merr 

  
My sweet babe on his first day. I won’t share the one of us together. Apparently I looked so tired my dad thought it was the end of the day. The day hadn’t even started. Thanks dad. 

My Stitch Fix Bliss

Something awesome happened last week. My friend, Katie, turned me on to Stitch Fix. In case you aren’t familiar, it’s this personal stylist business. You go online and fill out a profile all about your sizes and the things you like. A week later, you get a box filled with five goodies in the mail. 

This is an amazing service for people like me who live in the country and get zero time for shopping for myself. 

Here is a picture of the things that were included in my Stitch Fix box. 

  
1) A pair of dark, skinny, stretch jeans that are school appropriate. 

2) A colorful cross body purse. 

3) An awesome printed tank blouse. 

4) Red and cream striped boat neck top. 

5) And a lightweight black cardigan. 

After just that small survey about the things I liked and did not like, I think my stylist hit my likes pretty straight on. The only thing out of my box that I knew I wouldn’t keep for sure was the red purse. It’s not even that I don’t like the purse, I just have no use for one so small. Kiddos require me to tote around a lot of stuff. The cute little cross body just isn’t big enough. 

Anyway, the return of items is super easy. You simply toss them into the prepaid return bag that they include inside your box and drop it back into the mail within 3 business days. Whatever you decide to keep, you check out online. Then, you get the chance to provide feedback on the items you received to help them better your wants for next time. 

If you do decide to sign up, please use my referral link! And when you sign up, be sure to refer friends because you earn $25 for each one that signs up! The gift of clothes personally styled for you is never a bad gift! 

  
I love this top and the jeans actually fit! 

  

My patterned blouse tank and red cross body. 

  

My comfy black cardi. 

I almost forgot the best part, you can link Stitch Fix to a Pinterest board where you pin all your fashion favorites! Then, your stylist can get another idea of the things you like! 

Chapstick 

When I was younger, (I won’t say how much) my dad would let me drive his truck on the back roads to our house. We lived out in the woods in Ohio. Later on, we moved to town and I magically became a “city girl” fit with a spiffy subdivision name that people recognized when I explained directions to our house. l only mention this because it seems funny as I lay here thinking about it. My memories aren’t as clear about the house in the woods, probably because I was younger. But then, I will unexpectedly have a memory so unbelievably vivid that I don’t know if it was a memory or a dream. Life is torturous that way. 

I remember playing outside with my sister, our goldens rubbing their scratchy fur against my arm as I sat on the hill. The smell of cedar and sap waffs up from the nearby forest edge. I can hear the peakcocks at the farm up the hill as they sing their alarming song over and over. “The Woods”  was always such an enchanting place for me as a child. It was much cooler than sitting out in the open where the sun’s gleam pricked at my skin like a thousand little thorns. It was quiet there too. I always knew that I wasn’t alone once I stepped inside. Sometimes that frightened me and sometimes it was a comfort. 

For no particular reason, one day, I went into the woods with whatever band of dogs I had willing to follow. I remember it was cooler out, probably early fall. It was cool enough for a jacket, but not cold enough yet for a coat. In Ohio, these are distinct ways to explain the weather. (I apologize if you are southern, only because a high school football game on an autumn Friday night truly is magical.) Trampsing along, I am stopping every so often to pick up acorns. I have always liked how their tops have felt. They are rough and smooth at the same time. I was collecting my share of them inside my jacket pocket, when I found that one pocket was already inhabited by something else. I retrieved my hand to find a tube of orange flavored Chapstick I had been looking for about a week earlier. I entergetically applied it to my lips, popped the lid back on and continued my search for all things cool. Just thinking of that Chapstick makes me smile. Laying here in my room, more than 20 years later, I can still conjure up the smell. Yes, it was orange flavored. So, yes, it indeed smelled orange-like. But, it also had that scent that all Chapstick made for little girls had. It had that musty undertone that I have just never been able to peg a name upon. Although I can’t name it, I know the correlation. That Chapstick smelled like bright, young, glourious innocence. It smelled like a girl with no cares in the world, walking with her dogs in the woods. It smelled like happiness before Santa was just a spirit, before robbers broke into that home and shattered everything I had ever thought about people all being good, and before I ever understood what divorced parents really were. That orange Chapstick that probably cost my dad 10 cents at the I.G.A. symbolized everything a young child’s life is about until that sad day when they start internalizing and analyzing every single thing that is said to them or about them. 

Mom yelled for me, just as I realized that my jacket pocket had a small hole in the bottom corner. I searched frantically on the brown and golden leave-covered ground for several minutes before finally giving into the concerned tone my mother’s voice had taken on. With one quick glance over my shoulder, I thought about coming back to look for it later. I imagined it might have fallen into a rabbit hole or was just covered by leaves. The truth is, I have had dreams about finding that Chapstick. It’s out there in the woods some where, covered by years of leaves and growth. It’s deteriorated and discolored, but I promise, it’s still there. 

  
Although it’s not the right color or flavor, this is how I remember my Chapstick looking back in the day.  

(Image from Google search.)