Friday, June 19, 2015

Life Lately

If you've wondered why I've been on the quiet side lately, I'm about to show you. To say that I am beyond exhausted is an understatement. Simply Vintage has done two large markets in a month span and we're plum tired, y'all.

With every show that we do, the work that leads up to the event can become overwhelming quickly. There are late nights, early mornings, 14 days in a row spent in my "workshop", nights where I don't get to put my little man to bed because I'm covered in paint and dust, etc... AND the work doesn't start when the show prep starts. That's actually the tail end of the work. I give you exhibit A:

 

Seriously. No truer words. There is so much that goes into this hobby of mine and of so many. We hunt, buy, haul, clean (cobwebs come along with the territory), fix, refinish, haul again. And repeat. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I love this hobby, or at least I do on 90% of the days. Don't ask me that question on set-up day.

Our first show was The Pec Thing in Pecatonica, IL. This was my first time in the 20+ years of being a Pec Thing shopper that I was on the other side of the booth. It was so much work and sadly the weather just was not havin' it. We dealt with rain, ruined inventory, 2 inch deep mud, high winds that started pulling our staked tent out of the ground, etc... We finally waved the white flag and tore down 5 hours early on the second day. It just wasn't worth the risk of inventory loss or far worse, impaling someone with our tent should it turn into a kite. There were 9,800 shoppers who came through the gates on Saturday, but when the road your booth is on is 2 inches deep of mud, about 500 of the 9,800 shoppers brave your aisle. Just sad.

Mud and I were pretty much inseparable that weekend. Gross!
 






Our second show, and much more important show, was The Main Street Market hosted by the talented Urban FramGirl. Think 120+ vendors traveling in from all over the Midwest to create one of the prettiest, vintage shows I've seen. These people are the real deal and make me feel like a vintage chump. I still give it my all and try to hold my own, but I'm always in awe of everyone else's work.

With this being the 2nd annual Main Street Market and our 2nd time participating as well, I was thrilled with the results. We received so many compliments and for hours we were constantly ringing someone up. The traffic was great, the sales were steady and we met some really cool vendors who share our love of all things unloved, forgotten, dusty, rusty but full of promise. It's not for everyone, but if its for you, this event is your jam, I promise!



Here's a peek at Simply Vintage's booth...
  
 

 










 
 Phew, I'm tried just looking at everything again.
Thank God I have at least a month to prep for the next one!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Praying for Charleston



I am 1,000 miles away from my beloved city, but my heart, my heart is right there. Smack dab in the midst of the chaos. There is not one single mile between my head, my heart and Charleston and its amazing people. I may physically be in Illinois, but I stand with you today, Charleston. Since I heard the news last night, my mind has not left your side.

I will never understand why awful things happen in this world. I will never understand pure and unbridled hatred and anger. Today and last night make zero sense to my rational brain. How do you make sense of an irrational hatred? An irrational response to one's hatred? And the senseless and irrational act of pure evil inflicted on innocent people? You cannot.

As I sit here, surrounded by people who may not have even heard the news or may just view it as one more sad and shocking headline, it's nearly impossible to fight tears of sadness, fear, and despair. My heart is broken for the eleven people that were part of that bible study. Although nine of them were taken suddenly and violently, we cannot forget the two that remain. Their lives, minds and hearts will be forever changed. How could they not live in fear from this day forward? How can they not replay what they saw over and over again in their already grieving minds? And how can the families and friends of the nine find answers or peace in a situation where there will most likely never be any answers? It's beyond devastating.

Will you join me in praying for Charleston, our people, and the loved ones desperately missing their family members and friends today? Will you pray for the authorities who are working around the clock to find the man, Dylann, who brought such evil and suffering to our community? Will you keep them safe and energized in your minds? Will you pray that no one else is harmed as the shooter hides out and shirks away from the consequences of his horrific actions? Will you pray he is found so justice can be served and the terror can lessen? Finding him will never undo what he did, but it will stop the panic that people feel with him on the loose.

Will you pray that somehow, some way, peace will fall on Charleston? And that this act unites a community versus divides?

God is bigger than this and He is in the midst of this. He cannot undo what has been done, but He can be a refuge in the most tragic and darkest of times. He stands with you too, Charleston, and I know His heart hurts a million times more than ours combined. He is with you. You are not alone. Nor were the eleven  who were attacked. I pray He held them close in those moments.

I love you all and I am there with you in prayer, heart and mind. I am so, so sorry. No one deserves this. No one.
#Prayingforcharleston

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Surrendering Control

As you can probably tell by my lack of consistent posts lately, I've been struggling a little with what to write. Well today, as I perused my two favorite blogs, Katie of Katiedidwhat.com spoke right to my heart. And because just maybe she'll also speak right to your's, I thought I'd share her words. They are wise, honest and needed.

Do you ever feel like you're floundering? Or stuck? Or both? Well, that's been the name of my game lately and I'm about to wave the white flag. It is 100% apparent that I have zero control over certain areas of my life, so trying to control them is like herding cats. Pointless, I tell you, and the energy it requires can be all consuming.

But, God, HE is always in control. He knows the outcome of every situation before it's even a blip on my radar. He knows how everything will play out and pan out. He knows the triumphs and victories that may lay around the corner, and He always knows what heartache lay beyond the horizon as well. The good news is that He is prepared for both. Prepared to redeem, prepared to restore and prepared to redirect when needed. He's prepared. I am not. BUT, I AM with Him. If I simply surrender.

http://www.katiedidwhat.com/surrendering-control/

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When I Grow Up



Today I'm linking up with Andrea over at Momfessionals.com as we share what we wanted to be when we grew up. Wait, I have to grow up? Says who?



A Garbage Man (or Lady)
 

From an early age, I was a slacker knew that I wanted to have a career but I didn't want to have to work five days a week with only two days to do whatever I wanted. Seeing as how our garbage man only came by our house on Mondays, I declared to my family and first grad class that I was going to be a garbage man when I grew up. Only work on Mondays? Done and done.


 
A Veterinarian
 
 
It's no secret that I love animals, sometimes even more than I love some people. So it only made sense to be a Vet when I grew up. And with my great uncle owning his own veterinary hospital, I thought everything was meant to be. That was until he let me observe a hysterectomy on a sweet, little pup. And that friends, is how you squash a dream. I knew in that moment that my passion was to love on animals, not to cut them open or have to tell their owners that it was time to let them go. Onward and upward!
 
A Marine Biologist
 
 
Around eight grade on into about my tenth grade year, I thought for sure I wanted to a marine biologist. I'd buy orca whale VHS tapes and t-shirts from Natural Wonders and just loved all that the ocean had to offer. Fast forward to a vacation where I was swarmed by a school of stingrays on Folly Beach, SC. Umm, no thanks. I spent the next 7 years only going about knee deep in the ocean due to crippling fear of what lay beneath. And I'm no marine biologist, BUT I do believe that one must be willing to get in the ocean to be able to study said ocean. Sigh.


 
Disney on Ice Skater and Coach
 
After being a competitive figure skater for fifteen years, I knew in my heart that I wanted to tour with Disney on Ice after graduation high school, and then spend my adult life as a skating coach. After audtioning for Disney and receiving word that I had been accepted, my parents told me that I had to attend college first and then I could tour. I'm pleased to report  that I did in fact graduate from college (proof in the photo below). I'm saddened to report I never did tour, BUT I did try my hand at coaching. I loved it, but it didn't pay the bills. Next, please.

 
 
Fundraising
 
With a a B.S. degree in Health Promotion and Corporate Wellness, what does one do? Well duh, you go into fundraising for a military college. And just like that, I found myself in the non-profit world and have been there for over 15 years. I love what I do and I love knowing that my efforts help make education affordable for students regardless of income or circumstance. And I've been blessed to work with awesome students and cadets over the past 15 years who have made fundraising a fun career and not just a job. (Halloween staff photo with my cadets below)

 
 
I also had the privilege of being a college cheerleading coach for The Citadel for seven years in the 2000's, alongside of two of my BFF's.


 
 
And now I have the best job in the world, on top of still being a Director of Development for a college...


 
I get to be a...
Mom to Nash
Wife to Tim

Somehow I landed these sweet gigs regardless of previous experience or qualifications. They both gave me a shot at the job and I spend every day trying to be a better wife and mom than I was the day before. Sometimes I nail it. Sometimes I fail miserably, but I have yet to be fired. Thankfully. I love this job the most. 



 
What did you want to be when you grew up?
 


Monday, June 1, 2015

Life Lately

It's taken me awhile to feel like writing again, but just like everything else in life, "this too shall pass" and I'm starting to feel like "me" again. Granted, nothing from the last two weeks has taken away the emptiness felt in our home feels and in my heart, but we're falling into our new normal thankfully. It's been gorgeous here, amidst the occasional rain shower, and there's been some amazing breezes rolling in off of the water. Every once in awhile, a big, warm gust will roll through the house from outside and it's comforting to think just maybe that's a piece of my little Piggy coming in from his spot outside to remind us of him. It makes me want to always have the windows open. Always.

 
My life in photos lately...
 
Every Memorial Day we head to my Grandma Howard's home in the small town of Pecatonica for the parade. It's a great time to reflect on those who have given the ultimate sacrifice
and to spend an afternoon with family.
Isn't my Grandma's home too cute? Sometime I'll have to share photos of the inside.
This home has been in our family for decades and decades and she has done so much work to turn it into the coziest, little cottage.
 

Welcome to historic Pecatonica.
 
 
Ready for his first parade! Game face on. Paci in.
 


"Hey, who threw this little dude a green Twizzler?" Tim and I LOVE parade candy, so having a child with us allowed us to catch a little more candy from the floats without being judged by the other parade go'ers. We joked that we'll have "parade drills" for Nash in about 2 years where we'll practice tossing out things in the backyard so he can become a parade ninja with cat-like reflexes. If the candy even hits the pavement, you're too slow, Munchie. Some women are the dreaded dance moms or bleacher moms, I'm going to be a parade mom. There's no mercy in this dojo.

 
This kids is his mother's son 100%. I'm the happiest when my feet are free of socks and shoes, and the same goes for Nash. His toes love freedom, so as temps rose, I "freed the piggies" so he could feel the breeze on his feet. He immediately flung that foot up onto his tray and there it stayed for the rest of the parade.

 
 
And that Jeep climbing the other Jeep, folks, is compliments of one of my relatives. My 2nd cousin's wife is driving the Jeep with the tire on the roof. It's safe to say she's hardcore. 




Yep, friends, that's me. And a Chicago Bear. It was a great day at the office for sure. Who else brings in Jon Bostic for students to meet as they register for fall classes?! The best part was seeing how incredibly nice he was. He had the best smile and could not have been more personable and down to earth. I foresee a #57 jersey in Nash's future.

 
 
River Life is like living on vacation.
Okay, so maybe it doesn't feel like vacation ALL the time, but it sure does look like it ALL the time!


Oh how I heart my geese neighbors. We now have about 4 families of gooslings and I'm so in love with watching them as the swim, eat, rest, etc...


So, umm, yeah. All of this came out of my garage last weekend. And this isn't even half of what's in there. I'm afraid that I'm walking a very fine line between vintage collector/resale'r and hoarder.
Let's pray a TON of this sells in my show on June 13th!
 

This guy. He's the bee's knees.
 


Grocery shopping is so much more fun with my own personal carrot concierge. He was so good and loved looking at everything. And everyone. Again, this guy...


I hope y'all have a great week!
 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Snapshots in Time




Over the course of Pig's life, there were so many moments that I actually paused and took a mental snapshot of the moment because it was so good. I knew I wanted to remember not only the fun and exciting times with him, but also the normal, the usual and mundane. And I'm so happy that I was aware enough to pause and memorize.

On the day that I went to pick out my new best friend, I drove the 40 minute trek with my mind set on picking up a little girl. There was a litter of about 5-6 toy poodles and all but one were boys. I was so glad to have found my girl that I had been looking for for months. Once we arrived to the breeder, I sat on the floor and scooped up my girl. She was white, fluffy and after a few minutes, she drove me nuts with her neediness. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him. Ever so slightly, I saw something move in the distance and there he was, in all his tiny glory. My pig was playing all by himself, completely unimpressed by me and in that moment I just knew. He was the one. The rest was history.

I can still remember clear as day one regular ole Saturday afternoon, Piggy and I laying on the couch mid-afternoon as the sun shone through the windows and a breeze rolled in through the curtains. Pig was sound asleep on my chest and it was so calm and so peaceful that I memorized how he felt on me and how still the moment was. I didn't need anything else in the world in that moment but him. I felt a level of contentment that I had never felt before.

One of the funniest times with Pig actually happened in a shoe store on King Street in Charleston where I worked my first year out of college. Pig was tiny, maybe just a few months old, and I had an awesome boss who encouraged me to bring him in to work as the "shop dog". Our shop had just expanded, creating a giant circle walkway between two rooms. With a mother and daughter shopping for shoes, something caused Piggy to take notice of and approach the teen girl. And although he probably weighed no more than 3lbs, the said teen who was afraid of dogs, took off running from him in a giant circle between the two sides of the shop. Off she went screaming, with a tiny, harmless toy poodle playfully barking and chasing her heels. It was a hysterical game of cat and mouse. The girl thought Piggy was trying to attack and Piggy thought she was playing with him, both oblivious to the fact that me, my manager and the girl's mom were all trying to get one of them to stop running so we could end the racing fiasco. I can still remember laughing so hard that I feared I might pee my pants on the job, while yelling "He's not trying to bite you! He thinks you're playing with him. You have to stop running so we can catch him!! STTTTOOOOPPPPPP Ruuuunnniiinnngggg!" It was priceless. Needless to say they did not purchase any shoes that afternoon, but Pig thought it was the best day ever on the job.

A few smaller memories simply revolve around heading to the airport for vacations and not 30 minutes into the drive, I'd turn to Tim and confess that I "already missed Pig." Even though we hadn't left yet, I missed him. We'd still be less than 60 miles from home and I'd be excited for our return when I could see him again. I always loved seeing him after being away.

Another snapshot in time was taking Piggy sledding over the last two winters. This dog loved to sled down the driveway. He'd hop right in and onto my lap, the Hubs would give us a big push, and down the drive we'd go. Once we reached the bottom, he'd hop out and race me to the top with his ears flapping in the wind. The minute I'd sit back down, he'd hop right back in for another ride. Silly, Pig.


While 8 weeks pregnant, I came down with the flu and was bedridden for almost a week straight while unable to take anything to gain relief. Pig never left my side. He was like a warm, little blanket and I remember looking over at him and being so very thankful for his companionship that week while I was in quarantine and alone.

As cheesy as the next snapshot is and at the risk of sounding like a crazy dog lady, this memory came about on another random afternoon about a year and a half ago. I was working around the house when Brad Paisley's song Then came on. As I sang along with the first few lines of the song, I remember looking down at Pig as happy, grateful tears ran down my face. I put down the towels I was putting away, got down on the floor and sang the rest of the song to him. To this day, it still is "our" song. I even changed some of the words whenever I'd sing it to him to incorporate his name...

"And now you're my whole life
Now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, Pig.
Like a river meets the sea,
Stronger than it's ever been.
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved Pig then"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81on1ZFE63w

Lastly, on Pig's last morning, I knew he hadn't touched his food in 24 hours and I didn't want him to starve if they'd keep him in the hospital all day. Being the good momma I tried to be, I asked the Hubs to whip up a quick egg for our sweet boy so that he'd have a full tummy for whatever lay ahead of him. So on his last morning at home, he had his very own egg all to himself, cooked just for him with love from his dad, and he got to eat it off of his own "real boy" plate. I know he had to feel super special in that moment. Hubs, thanks for not questioning if you had time to cook an egg for our dog as you tried to get yourself ready for work. It means so much to me and I know it made our little man feel like a king. Without truly knowing, we gave our boy a warm, tasty and serving send off. Thank you.


Piggy, thanks for these memories and so, so many more. We love you so.





Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thankful

Yesterday was a hard post to write. I second guessed making it public in case it was too raw, too real, and too honest. But that's just what it was...honest. I needed to say those things to him and through that post, I did just that. They've been said. They are done. Hopefully.

Today I simply want to thank those people who have spoken life into the situation. Thanks to your hugs, your tears of compassion and shared hurt, your calls and texts, your cards, a prepared meal, a plant, muffins, FB messages, blog comments, etc...You have helped share in this moment and at times, helped alleviate some of the pain. Thank you.

Thank you for understanding our hurt and shock.

Thanks for loving Pig so much.

Thanks for sharing your memories of him.

Thanks for loving us so much.

Thanks for putting into words what my heart was feeling but didn't have the words to explain. As one friend shared "your bond with him was probably the strongest we will ever have with a dog because you got him at a time that was the most lonely and influx in our lives." Those words are so very true. I got Pig before I had my own home, before I had a solid career after college, and long before a husband and kids. I was 1,000 miles away from family and going through relationship ups and downs, losses and gains, lonliness, and trying to figure out what adulthood would look like for me. Pig was my constant. He was my "baby". He was my family and he rode the waves of change with me every single day. And although I may find myself with another pet someday, I will most likely never need another dog quite like I needed Pig.

Thank you to another sweet friend who sent me a profound message that read "I know Pig taught you what it means to love another more than yourself and that prepared you to love your little one so easily and seamlessly, so each time you feel that love in your heart, you can thank Pig for preparing the way and opening your heart more than you thought imaginable. Dogs also teach us what unconditional love is, which is something we humans have a hard time with, so thank Pig for showing you a glimpse of what that looked like before you knew what being a mother of a child was going to be like. I know God uses dogs to show us a tiny bit of how he loves us, and Pig will always represent that in your heart and life." I cannot verbalize how true her words are and how much I needed them at the exact moment I received them.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for loving us through this time. It is appreciated and needed more than you will ever know. Pig was lucky to know you and so am I.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Ugly Side of Grief and Loss

Per my post yesterday, today is the first part of my desperate attempt to try and figure how to do all of this without Piggy. As the week progresses, my plan and hope is to get all of the yuck out of my heart and mind early on so I can start to focus on the glory days and Pig's memory. But just as my small group from church goes every week, in order to share your highs, you must be willing to share your lows. And so with that, at the risk of being too transparent, I must try and get out of the bad and the ugly.

My purpose in this post is not to give these feelings life, but to get them down and out of my head. This blog, so many years ago, began as a way to deal with my battle with depression. A wise counselor suggested many years ago that I begin writing to take the swirl of negative thoughts from my head to paper and then to the trash. But because I'm not really a journal'er, I chose to go the blog route out of necessity and almost a mental survival technique at the time. Today's post falls in line with necessity and mental survival.

Over the last twelve years, I have envisioned how last Thursday would go. I knew in my heart of hearts that when the time came to make any hard decisions, I would choose to be humane, loving and present. PRESENT. I knew that no matter how painful, I would be there to hold my Pig as he left us. He would not go alone. He has never once allowed me to be alone in his presence and that would be my final thank you to him. We would be together. I knew everything I would say and I knew I would hold and kiss and comfort. I would give him permission to finally put himself first while I was the one to show unconditional love to him.

I did not get that chance. Not having that chance is what seems to be king of my heart right now. I cannot shake it. I cannot pray through it or ignore it. And I don't want it to grow and fester, so this is my attempt at taking it from mind to "paper" to trash.

Although there is no such thing as the pretty side of grief, I do believe there are million sides of healthy grief. The evil side of grief, however, is guilt. Guilt is a very real and tangible thing. It is not just an emotion, it's an ailment and has biological consequences such as actual pain and panic.

Not being there for my Pig has taken this moment, his ending, and taken it from "thank you's" to "I'm sorry's". I have loved this boy with every ounce of my heart. I have given him whatever I could to make his life cozy, loving and all that he deserves. And yet, when I think about him, all I can think is "I'm sorry." And I hate that. I've never hated those two words more in my life. Never. Those were not words I rehearsed a million times over the last 12 years as I prepared for this day. My words were full of thanks, gratitude, love, respect, compassion. Not I'm sorry. It never even crossed my mind. Not it crosses it roughly 100 times a day.

Piggy, I truly am sorry. I'm sorry I didn't know you were so sick. I'm sorry that all of the signs made me think you were simply struggling with not being an only child anymore and were mere old age behavior and decline. I'm sorry I didn't rush you in the night before because I feared they'd make you sleep there alone and you'd be scared and afraid and away from home when I thought you'd rest better with me. I'm sorry I thought we had time. I'm sorry your brother screamed all night while you were failing on the inside. I'm sorry for all the times that I got caught up in caring for Nash and only kissed you once that night instead of the 25 kisses you were used to. I'm sorry that I didn't ask to wait in the lobby while they treated you in the back. I'm so sorry I thought we had time. I should've never ran to buy Kleenex. I should've stayed, even if I couldn't sit with you. I should've sat there and waited. Damn it, why didn't I stay and wait?! I'm sorry that I could only hold your back paw the last time I saw you before they had me leave and await your update. I'm sorry that you started going on your own and I hit every blasted red light once I got the call to come back. I'm so sorry that I missed your departure by 3 minutes. Three freaking minutes. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry you went alone. I'm so sorry I wasn't there to hold you and thank you repeatedly. I'm so very sorry. And I'm so sorry that you went in the front door of the hospital and they brought you out of the back door as we waited in the parking lot. I should've demanded that you come out of the front door. The door you came in. You deserved a front door departure just like every other animal. I'm just so sorry, sweet boy. I hate this. I want you back. I want you here with me. For even just 5 more minutes so that I could turn my I'm sorry's to the thank you's you so rightfully deserve. You deserved it all. You were "it all" and more. I love you. I'm sorry.