He is There

I am so happy to share that (drumroll please) my kitchen renovation is about halfway complete! 

I have been pulling double shifts and painting until midnight. Tonight I was overcome with an overwhelming emotion of school girl giddiness. I can attempt to explain it no other way. I was painting away and I looked around the room and I felt some peace. Yes, peace and excitement, at the same time. All I could imagine was my family all together in our new kitchen. I could see my kiddos eating their pancakes at the table. I could see me running around and grabbing requested items, coffee cup in hand. I could picture my hubs shaking his head as our oldest squeezed too much syrup on to his fluffy pile of flapjacks. 

I have been dreaming of this kitchen for two years now. Thanks to my mom and stepdad, it has finally started to look like something from my dreams. Mom has been my coach. She explains the process of the things we are doing and she double and triple checks my work. She gives me advice and she has been the visionary on the plans for what I wanted. My stepdad is just an all-around craftsman. He can build just about anything! It truly is amazing to see someone make ideas become reality. I honestly hope that my children can learn so much from him in the years to come. I want them to be independent young men who are not afraid to craft awesomeness. 

The school year can be such a stressful time for us. I look forward to many happy Saturday mornings spent in the improved space. I promise to post “after” pictures when I have everything completed and things are in their rightful places. Right now…I will share a few from before we got started.


Also, I wanted to say a special thank you to my dad. He has been on my mind during this whole project. In the midst of night, while I am in there painting away, he is heavy in my heart. I feel like my sweat and tears are helping me to breath some of his soul into this kitchen. I feel he would be proud of my trying to do something challenging and fulfilling. I feel he would want me to have a happy place as my stress-free zone. I feel…him. He is there. He is happy. He is my peace. 

True Writers 

I have self-diagnosed Tramatic Induced Writer’s Block. I have some sweet, supportive friends who have been asking me why I haven’t been writing. 

 I haven’t been writing because almost six months ago my dad died suddenly. He was 59 years old. I rode to Ohio in a car with my husband and two small children for sixteen hours. I made a long list of hard decisions about his death and his wishes. We picked out a casket. We decided on flower arrangements and color combinations. We searched for his will. I saw my dad’s lifeless body for the first time since he left us at the airport two months before. I replayed the only two voicemails I had saved from him on my phone 10 times in an hour. I watched my sister, my aunt, my uncle and my dad’s fiancée cry during arrangement discussions. I talked to everyone who spoke to me. I accepted condolences, I shook hands, I smiled sweetly. I listened to stories. I engaged in conversations. I tried to explain things to my 3 year-old son. I worked hard to maintain a dignified composure. I talked to God. I slept a little. I ate a little. I got mad. 

I got mad. I got mad. I got mad. I was so angry at my dad for dying. I was mad at him for being an alcoholic. I was mad at him for not caring enough about me, my sister, or our kids to stop drinking. I was mad at him for choosing a life that basically meant he was choosing to die. I was mad at myself for not telling him how stupid he was. I was mad at him for not realizing how stupid he was. I was mad at my sister because she could be emotional about our dad dying. I was mad because I knew the morning I got the phone call that my dad was in the hospital that he wasn’t leaving alive. Why did I know that? Why did I speak my last words to a lifeless body on the other end of the receiver 1,100 miles away and all the while in the back of my head, I knew I was speaking to no one? 

Have I worked through some of these issues? Not really. 

My writer’s block has nothing and everything to do with my father dying. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I have spent a whole decade trying to define what a writer really is. I think I have condensed it to a few short ideas. 

A true writer is

Not afraid; but careful. 

A true writer 

Longs for adventure, but remains present. 

A true writer 

makes decisions, avoids life, struggles, dances in the rain, complains, raises children, listens, makes bad decisions, has highs and lows, drinks wine, is a bad friend, loves unconditionally, is loyal, over analyzes, dreams, has high expectations, gets complaciant, gets mad, writes. 

A true writer, writes. 

Writers write. 

It’s simple. 

You still teach me something every day. 

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.