Friday, January 30, 2015

Farewell, Bravermans

 
Goodbyes are never easy. In fact, 99% of the time they pretty much suck. Unless of course you're storming away from a manager at Goodwill after a 3 minute debate on why an end table does not fall under their 50% off ALL furniture sale when an end table is, in fact, furniture. When you finally give in, roll your eyes and tell him "peace out, man" as you spin on your heels and walk away in a huff, that goodbye does not suck. Or at least that's what I've heard. Ya know, from a friend. I would never...

Any way...

Last night we said goodbye to one of the greatest TV families of all time (and, yes, I'm equipped to defend that declaration). My heart was anxious, heavy and discontented. In all honesty, 3/4's of the finale fell a tad bit flat for me. Not because the storyline was poor or the acting less than stellar, but because I just know in my heart that there is still so much life left in every character and story line. I'm not ready to say goodbye. I'm not ready to let go of the journey that they've allowed me to go on week after week. They're family to me, and you just don't say goodbye to family.

As I drifted off to dream last night, I tried to rationalize why my heart was so heavy. After all, it's just a TV show. The stories aren't real. The characters are not actual people. The beloved Braverman house with the big, outdoor dining table underneath the string lights isn't even a place that we can visit in the flesh. Why is a TV show's ending able to create a true, physiological response in my body? Long story short, it's because everything about the Bravermans was real.

What Parenthood did right, and darn near perfect, is that the story lines, the people, and even the homes and props, were real. Everything about that show screamed authenticity. Their love lives were messy, their kids had challenges, and when they all got together as one large family, they were loud and talked over each other to the point of being overwhelming and almost annoying at times. I don't know about you, but our families DO operate in the loud, overwhelming and even annoying manner that the show so perfectly captured. It wouldn't have been real without all of those details that make families teeter between splendid and dysfunctional on any given day.

The writers weren't afraid to tackle the real stuff, the hard stuff, and the taboo stuff. In six season we experienced love, loss, anger, cancer, drinking, drugs, sex, abortion, drunk driving, birth, and even death. It was the stuff that lives are made of and they made no apologies for that. The conversations between parents and children were real, raw and genuine. They were conversations that we've all had, in our own homes, and we could empathize. The sibling rivalries were believable with words spoken in both a love and an anger that only a brother or sister relationship can harness. The love behind their eyes made you forget that they were actors. We were invited in to celebrate their highest of highest and to cry with them during their darkest of lows. Show me an episode of Parenthood that doesn't threaten a tear to fall and I'll show you...nothing. Because that just doesn't exist.

And you know what the best part of their beautiful and messy lives were? The fact that they ALWAYS had each other. Always. They could be incredibly angry with one another, but when the chips were down, so came down the pettiness that can accumulate in a family if you're not mindful of it. They were the Bravermans and they were a team. And I, myself, loved the fact that their last scene  took place on a baseball field. They were going to celebrate life with their teammates and they were going to have a dang good time doing it. And if you're an Parenthood addict like me, you may recall that the very first episode took place on a baseball field. Maybe even the same one. Fitting and perfectly tied together.

When you're family, there will be countless starts and stops. Hundreds of curveballs and home runs. Millions of things to celebrate and to rally around for one another. And no matter where life takes you, as long as you can get back to that mound, where it all started, and stand arm in arm with your teammates, you've already won the game.

Thank you, Bravermans, for giving us our weekly fix of laughter, tears and then more laughter. For tackling the hard stuff, the not so pretty stuff and the beautiful stuff. And for sharing your lives with us. For those of us who fell in love with each one of you, we're all hoping that somehow, some way, we're all just a little bit Braverman. Even long after the show has wrapped.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

All Good Things

...must come to an end. Which I think is absolute crap, to be honest. Why can't all good things never end? Just my humble opinion.

Tonight a small sliver of my heart will forever be laid to rest. Tonight, my favorite TV family will say goodbye to all of their beloved followers and I am just beside myself. Yes, my friends, Parenthood is drawing to a much too soon close tonight. For, like ever.

I have a pit in my stomach and am nervous to see if the rumors are true with one of my Bravermans passing away. Say it ain't so, Zeke? Say it ain't so, Sarah? No seriously, it better not be so. I shall need counseling if they kill off Zeke tonight.

So until tomorrow, this is about as creative as my in-mourning mind can scrap up. It's just too much.

Check back in tomorrow as I say goodbye to my wannabe family, the amazing Bravermans. They just don't make 'em any better than that.




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fast Food Free in 2015



During a recent trip that required airport travel, the Hubs and I found ourselves looking for healthy lunch options in the O'Hare airport amongst the temptations of a quick, grab and go meal from the fast food options surrounding our gate. Both of us were successful and chose wraps and salads over delicious fries and burgers, but it got the ball rolling for a conversation thrown out by the Hubs on the return leg of our trip.

"I want to go fast food free this year" declared the Hubs.

"Hmmm. Interesting" I said. "How would that work?"

"I just won't eat fast food. I'll still eat at Subway or something similar where I can get a healthier, non-fried sandwich, but no fast food" he shared.

Hmmm. Still interesting and slightly intrigued.

"Okay. That sounds kind of fun. "Fast food free in 2015 kind of rhymes. I'll do it too!" I declared.

"You're going to give up Chick-Fil-A?" questioned the Hubs.

Hmmm. Yes. I mean, maybe. But is Chick-Fil-A really and truly fast food? They have fresh flowers on the tables so clearly that isn't fast food. Right?

"Well, I'll participate with the exception of Chick-Fil-A" I stated.

Hubs looks at me out of the corner of his eye as if to disqualify me from the "fast food free in 2015" club. Oh, okay, so now you're not only a member, but  you're also the President of this cool, kids club? I see. Clearly I missed the elections.

With utter confidence I proclaim "Yep. I'm in but I can do Chick-Fil-A once a month. And also Beef-A-Roo too.  I need those cheddar fries in my life. And Moe's when we see one since they have fresh, healthy options. And maybe like one McGriddle every 6 months, But I'm totally in! Fast food free in 2015! Completely. With a few tweaks on the rules."

Hmmm. Interesting. That's not really what I had in mind shown the Hub's face.

Hindsight, it appears my membership into the Free in 2015 club was short lived. Like 2.5 minutes short lived. But I seriously considered it for, I don't know, maybe 1.75 minutes out of those 2.5. That has to count for something, right??? I swear I could feel my cholesterol levels drop dramatically for those 2.5 minutes.

So there you have it, friends, my public proclamation to be "Fast food free in 2015 with the exception of nuggets, waffle fries, Moe's tacos, cheddar fries and two lonely McGriddles."

This is going to be a great and completely healthy year! I can already feel it.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Warrior Momma

Today I'd like to introduce you to one of the strongest girls I know. Blog friends meet Karie. Karie meet my blog friends. I think you're all going to really like each other.

Karie came into my life almost a decade ago and as soon as she moved in with us, even as a perfect stranger, I knew she was going to be someone I'd love to know. As single twenty something's and roommates, Karie and our roommate, Karen had so many great days and nights hanging out, being silly and laughing til it hurt, and growing in our faith journeys together. Sometimes people come into your life so unexpectedly, but so perfectly timed that you know it was just meant to be. That's how it was with Karie.

This past summer, I was so fortunate to have Karie make the trek from Columbia, SC to Charleston for my baby shower and was thrilled to see her husband and two sweet boys as well. When they left Charleston to move to Columbia a few years back, Karie hadn't yet had their youngest son, Weston, so it was awesome to see her as a mom of two. And a great mom she was. Her youngest son ate with a passion for food that was unprecedented and was something I could totally get behind. With marinara sauce ALL over his cute face, Karie just laughed and shrugged it off. There was no concern for whether it'd get on his clothes or if he was making a mess. She rolled with it and whether or not she knew anyone was paying attention, I made a mental note over my Mellow Mushroom pizza to be a little more like Karie and a little less the OCD person that I can be if I'm not careful. If my son eats with the passion of a full contact sport, well then that's something to celebrate and encourage!

This past July, Karie's world changed dramatically and unexpectedly. On July 3rd, their eldest son, Walker suffered from a seizure that was completely out of the blue. And then a second one happened. And a third. And now sometimes 1-2 every day. The impact of the seizures have changed the way Walker can move around, communicate and even eat. You don't have to have a medical degree to know that can be a game changer and nothing short of terrifying. Over the last seven months, Karie and her husband, Andy, have been in and out of different hospitals trying to get to the bottom of what is causing such devastating seizures. Although I do not want to put words into their mouths, I can only imagine that their hearts are consumed with fear, uncertainty, and a million questions that just don't seem to have easy answers.

The reason that I share Karie's story with you today is not to focus on the seizures themselves, but how she has handled them. She is a warrior momma. And she is an inspiration.

As your world changes, you have two choices. You can either curl up in a ball and refuse to change with it or you can pick yourself and power through the best way that you can. Karie embodies the latter. I know this journey is BEYOND scary and frustrating and heartbreaking, but what I also know is that I've become in awe of my friend's faith and stamina. Her eyes are on the Lord even when it probably feels like the walls are closing in around them. She reads and studies and champions for Walker when he's not getting the care he needs. She's constantly moving forward when some of us would probably still be standing there on July 3rd with our head in our hands. She's strong. She's a champion. She's a fighter. She's a believer. She's a beautiful mom and she's my friend. I hope I'm half the warrior momma that she is.

I had the opportunity to see them last week on my trip to Charleston and it felt so good to finally be able to hug her after following their journey from a 1,000 miles away. I told myself I would not cry as I walked in to the restaurant where I'd see them. I wanted to be strong for her, and for the most part I was. I did slip and a few tears crept out, but that's okay. Hopefully she knew that those tears were simply because my heart hurts for what they've been through, and that she knows that when she hurts, we all hurt with her regardless of distance and time. We've got her back both in life and in prayer.

Keep fighting, Karie. And keep fighting, Walker. You're going to get there, I just know it. And you have hundreds of prayer warriors behind you cheering you on. #WalkerStrong

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To read more about Walker's journey, you can check out my previous Walker post http://saltwaterandsnowstorms.blogspot.com/2014/07/walking-with-walker.html

If you'd like to follow Walker's journey and join them in praying for his strength and healing, please visit his Caring Bridge at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/walkerphillips/journal/view/id/54c0ea9bca16b47f3818b1d2


This family is beautiful (and hilarious), both inside and out.
 



Nash meeting Karie, Weston and Walker. Love this girl.
 




Friday, January 23, 2015

I Didn't Have Time

I didn't have time to piece together all the right outfits for my Charleston trip, but I didn't have time to care as the 63 degree breezes blew across my face and the sun shone down on my pasty, Illinois skin.

I didn't have time to get my eyebrows waxed, as I had promised myself for two weeks leading up to the trip. Luckily, I didn't have time to care as I looked around every room I was in at all of the smiling faces that I love over a 72 hour span.

I didn't have as much time as I'd like to spend in deep conversation with many of my friends on our visit, but I didn't wallow in it too much because it made me really want to be more intentional in connecting with them  via phone, email and text until we get those rare minutes of face to face time.

I didn't have time to see everything I would've loved to see in Charleston, but I didn't have time to care as we stood on the edge of the ocean as our son experienced the sand and the waves and salt water smell for the first time. Sometimes seeing one amazing thing trumps all of the other smalls things.

I didn't have time to be sad that our trip was only 3 days long, because I didn't have time to even look at a watch or calendar thanks to dinners and brunches and cookouts with 9 kids and church and palmetto trees.

I didn't have time to eat any fresh seafood, but I didn't mind all that much as I stuffed my face with Palmetto Cheese and fresh caramel apple pancakes and fried chicken biscuits.

I didn't have time to pout that by the time we got to church we had to sit in the lobby and watch the message on a TV screen, because the teaching was more powerful than where we were sitting.

I didn't have time to grab the lunch I would've liked as we boarded our flight home, but I didn't mind all that much because the Hubs and I made the best picnic we could out of one tiny sandwich, girl scout cookies from our friend's daughter and gummy bears from a thoughtful friend's birthday gift.

Although I didn't have time to stay as long as I wanted, I didn't mind all that much because I know I'll be back soon. I'll always go back. Again and again. And for THAT, my friends, I'll always have time.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Snapshot

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I shall let my phone do the "vacation recap" talking today...


















Until next time, Charleston!
Thanks for the 63 degree weather!



Thursday, January 15, 2015

In My 35th Year

In my 35th year, I've learned the following:

Moving is not fun and takes way longer than you'll ever think it will. Where did I get all of this stuff? Owning a shop is not as fun as one might think, but was worth learning over the course of six months. Trying your hand at a "dream job" may end up being not so dreamy, but you can close the doors you opened with a sense of pride for even opening them in the first place. Pregnancy weight gain happens slowly and then all at once. Looking back at your photos from when you're 8 months pregnant is a real eye opener. How was I that big? How did no one tell me I was that big? Thank you, everyone, for not telling me I was that big. Thanks for encouraging me to eat that donut or pizza or cookie instead. That was much more loving.

Your grandparents will begin to age and slow down no matter how much you wish it away and ignore it. It'll happen slowly and then all at once, yet again. Living in Illinois in the fall is beautiful and crisp and everything fall should be. Living through Illinois winters is for dummies and sickos and the like. Hot, apple cider donuts from Edwards NEVER go out of style. Law and order SVU is still my jam. Seeing Straight No Chaser for the third time (and the 4th in April thanks to my Bday present!) is just as much fun as the first. Those boys can dance and sign their way into your heart. $2 gigantic tubs of cheese balls are worth just that. Gross. Decaf coffee is just as good as the real deal after awhile. 

Watching your dog, who was once the only child, share the spotlight and love is hard. Watching your husband complete a 146 mile race is something you'll remember and respect for the rest of your life. Having your estimated timing become off for when that husband is "supposed" to run by you on mile 136 can stir up intense fear for his safety and well-being. Seeing him run by after running through every possible scenario of injury is like lifting a Mack truck off of your shoulders. Standing in the Texas heat for 12+ hours while pregnant is super fun, said no one ever. Watching a marathon in New York in 32 degree weather and 40 mph winds is also super fun, said no one ever. Watching your Hubs complete those challenges in the heat and cold is worth it. I'm still campaigning for Ironman Cabo or Fiji, though. It's really only fair.

Being one year closer to 40 is alarming. Being one year closer to 40 with a new home, a new son and a husband and family that love me make me a bit less scared to be one year closer to 40.

Cheers to my 36th year! Let's do this thing.

To take a quick walk down memory lane, visit my previous Bday recaps here:
http://saltwaterandsnowstorms.blogspot.com/2013/01/birthday-wisdom.html
http://saltwaterandsnowstorms.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-i-learned-in-my-31st-year.html

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Get it Now




I get it now, mom and dad. As I approach another birthday compliments of the two who brought me to life, I wanted you to know that I get it now.

I get what it means to see a part of your own reflection in a tiny, precious face. I get how it feels to see those eyes, which are half your eyes, stare up at you with such adoration that you almost don't feel worthy.

I get what it means when your parents say "this hurts me more than it does you" when it comes to discipline, shots, pain, heartache, and the list goes on. Physical pain can be fleeting, but to watch someone you love experience pain lingers and penetrates. It cuts. And although you'd gladly absorb that pain if you could, you simply cannot. No one is exempt from it.

I get what my faith and my Lord mean to me to much more than I did before I became a parent. To look at my son and to think through the sacrifice that God made for me with his only son is the ONLY proof I need to know I shall follow Him all of my days. I could never look at my son and then tell him that billions of lives were more important than his. I just could not. Nor could I have him, in a moment of raw humanness, beg me to spare his life and then still allow him to serve as a sacrifice for others. There's no way. I would choose selfishness and my son every single time. Everyone else would be on their own.

I get what it means to have a part of my heart beating on the outside of my body.

I get why you can tell me that my giggle is one of the best sounds in the world, dad. I now spend hours making my son laugh simply because his laughter heals me.

I get what it means to have to walk away from someone's cries for the sake of your own sanity. I'm sure this will happen many, many more times in my life times ten. I'm sure this is only just beginning.

I get what it means to wake countless times in the night just to sneak over and ever so silently watch for a rising and falling chest. Or to use the gentlest touch to ensure that chest is rising and falling when my sight fails me. And when push comes to shove, I get needing to jostle that body a bit just to be certain even if it then means ducking with ninja like speed if my jostling wakes the soundly sleeping baby.

I get what it means to feel the weight of being responsible for someone else's nourishment, warmth, cleanliness and care, and that sometimes those needs will come before your own no matter how hungry you are or how questionable you may smell or how much you yourself have needed to pee for the last two hours.

I get how you relished a few moments of peace in the shower or the bathroom or at the end of a long day, only to find that cries carry through walls no matter where you are. There is no escape.

I get how even when you were sick and not feeling well, someone still relied on you. There are no vacation days from parenthood. The show must go on so grab some Kleenex and power through.

I get how proud you can be for someone else without any twinge of jealousy or greed. I get how it feels to celebrate even the smallest simplest of actions or accomplishments.

I get how your wallets used to look with photos of Tanner and I, and how phones now have a way of making their way into unrelated conversations so you can show off your newest photo of yet another sleeping baby.

I get how fear and concern must've coursed through your veins as you watched me lifted over heads and tossed in the air through years of skating and cheerleading. Seriously though, how did I never break a bone?

I get how you felt that something wasn't "right" and stood your ground, against my dismay and tears, as you told me that I was not allowed to spend the night at a new, older friend's house, only to find that the same family would spend jail time due to child abuse and pornography charges. You, in your infinite, parental wisdom were much smarter than I and I'm forever grateful that you held your ground based on a "feeling". I get why you had the feeling in the first place now.

I get every single time you sacrificed so that I could continue following my dreams and passions on the ice even though it meant living a lifestyle a notch or two below what you probably deserved and earned. You gave and gave and even though those checks were probably painful to write each month, year after year, there you sat in the stands at every competition or show and cheered me on.

I get what it means to have a love that knows no bounds. I've always known that with you, but now I know how it feels to have that love run full circle and I'm better for it. I'm softer for it and harder for it all at the same.

I get it now. And I get you now. All the love, all the pain, all the stress, all the tears, all the "what ifs" and the "whys and why nots", all the hugs and the kisses, all the meals and the baths and diapers and then diplomas. I get it and I get you, and there a million more words that could spill out of my head and heart, but I'll leave it at this...

Thank you. I love you. I get it now.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday High Fives

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that most of the country has suffered from frigid temps this week. Us Midwesterners have been SLAMMED by cold temps and snow. And I'm not talking about 12 degree days here. I'm talking -11 with a -25 wind chill kind of freezing. I do not need to hear anyone sing the theme song to Frozen. I'm living in the movie Frozen. Surely there will be a special reward in heaven for those of us who have been called to suffer through these Illinois winters here on earth. It's only fair, really. My mansion in heaven just may have a huge pool with the most incredible rafts and music and sunshine and ZERO snow.

To help keep me motivated during this dreadfully freezing week, I must give props to the following:
  • Fleece pants. These puppies come on the minute I get home after work.
  • The space heater the Hubs bought us about a month ago. That thing no longer lives in our bedroom, but now follows us from room to room. We're learning that a 2-story wall of windows from floor to ceiling is pretty and lends incredible views, but it does not offer much in the "warmth and insulation" department.
  • Gas fireplaces for the win!

  • The return of the Bachelor. I love to loathe aspects of this show like drunk bachelorettes and obnoxious or embarrassing limo exits, but you just can't beat the entertainment this show brings on a Monday night. Welcome back to my life, Chris Harrison.
  • Trader Joe's "Bag of the organic, amazing colored carrots". Their wording not mine, but man, I love me some yellow and purple carrots. Definitely worth the 45 minute drive to the nearest Trader Joes.
  • Speaking of drives, thumbs up all around to a mother and daughter road trip to Moe's! There was a time in my life when I despised Moe's, but this time in my life I shall call the "I miss Moe's" phase. I miss the option of having something that I can grab quickly that isn't super horrible for you and offers so many fresh ingredients. It's delicious and requires an hour long commute every once in awhile.

  • Dreaming of the beach. How cute is this frame my mom gave me? Oh how I wonder that every single day.

  • Baby selfies. These are really the only selfies that I condone.


  • Holding on to the last few moments of my Christmas decorations. I HATE putting them all away for another year. Not because of the time or the work, but because they make me so happy. And the lights? I love the lights.





  • Hot coffee in my new favorite mug! It says "A whole latte love Mommy". Can it get any better?

  • Seeing all of these gorgeous faces in our kitchen as we welcome the new year. Seriously, so many of you should be on the cover of magazines. Just gorgeous. With an army of friends and family on our side in 2015 who are as incredible on the inside as they are on the outside, we've got this year in the bag.

  • Spending cozy nights trying to stay warm with these two dudes and one small, furry dude who didn't make the picture.

  • Finally completing our kitchen table paint makeover before the temps dropped below paintable weather. Just in time!

  • And although this happened last week, yet another year of ringing in the New Year with a Jan. 1st dedicated to sweats, movies and appetizers all day long. YUM! Love our long standing tradition that started with my Meyers family years ago that has continued on into my little family.


 Happy Friday, Y'all!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

If You Really Knew Me...

You'd know that I'm the absolute worst when it comes to opening my mail. This character flaw of mine slays my husband who lives and dies by whether or not the mailman came. Our mailman could vanish into thin air and I wouldn't notice for approximately 3 months at which time I'd start to wonder where my Southern Living magazine was hiding.

You'd know that I'm addicted to water. I take water with me EVERYWHERE. If I'm somewhere without a bottle of the stuff with me, I start to quietly panic. I drink approximately 128 ounces a day, but who's counting?

You'd know that I'm always hungry. Like, always. The minute I finish dinner my mind begins to explore snack options. I then have an internal negotiation on what time would be "appropriate" for my nightly snack. Without said negotiation, I'd have my snack 30 seconds after my last bite of dinner. 

You'd know that I used talk myself to sleep between the ages of 11-14 (roughly). I'd have wonderful conversations with myself and even better interviews with myself. During those nightly discussions, I was "interviewed by Oprah" more times than I can count. Had I ever made it onto her show, I'm pretty sure I'd nail it with all of the hours I had logged in pillow rehearsals. Is that weird? Don't answer that.

Speaking of Oprah, you'd know me better if you knew that I have written to Oprah throughout my life to get the opportunity to meet her or experience her show. I even wrote her seeking help for a family member once along with my little brother's help. But alas, she never responded and on the day of her final episode, my heart broke in half. I had always held out hope that one day I'd sit in that audience. Sigh.

You'd know that I absolutely love to write, but struggle with grammatical errors. I'm certain that I use too many commas, skip words at times, etc...but it doesn't curb my appetite for this creative outlet of mine. I figure if you want to read a grammatically perfected story, you'll buy a dang book.

You'd know that my birthday is a week away and I slightly hate the fact that people don't really do birthdays here like we did in Charleston. We had birthday parties every year. Every. Year. If my BFF wasn't feelin it for some reason when her Bday rolled around, I'd seriously peer pressure her until she caved and we could celebrate. I mean, if you're not celebrating the fact that you've been given yet another year of this life, what ARE you celebrating? Every January, I feel a little lost without a fun party to plan. Maybe I should do something about that...

You'd know that our new home is finally becoming home. Hosting our first holiday gatherings where family and friends gathered has laid the first foundation of memories amongst those walls and I'm really starting to snuggle into our new nest. Sure, I still have to search for the stinkin frying pan from time to time as I find my way through a new system, but it's home now. It's where I retreat to after a long day and it's where I watched our son enjoy his first "cousins" photo in front of the Christmas tree.

What would we learn if we got a closer look into YOU and all your quirks glory?