Monday, November 7, 2011

Giving Thanks...a bit early!

So I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about things that people are thankful for, as we get closer to that wonderful holiday we all know as Thanksgiving. I’ve noticed that most of the stores that I’ve been in this week have completely skipped this holiday and headed straight for the flashier one that comes next month.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as the next person, but I love Thanksgiving just as much because it involves two of my favorite things: Food and family. So, I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and share some of the things that I’m thankful for this month, which as you’ll soon find out, consists mainly of food and family!

I feel I need to point out that these are in no particular order, lest someone be offended that you aren’t first on the list! :)

1. I’m thankful for the little kids in my life.

I’m blessed to have an amazing daughter that makes me laugh at the ideas that come into that little four-year-old head of hers, which also scares me sometimes too. She’s so smart and I see a lot of trouble in my future, but I’m so thankful I was blessed with such a great kid.

And then there’s my new nephew. He’s really put what is important in life in perspective for me. And given me baby fever at the same time. I could literally sit and hold him all day long. He’s beyond precious and his aunt can’t wait to spoil him! I'm grateful for every minute I get to spend making that little boy smile. 

Speaking of nephews (and nieces), I’m gaining five new ones with my upcoming marriage that I feel so lucky to have in my life. I enjoy my time with them so much and hope the novelty of their new aunt doesn’t wear off anytime soon! They are such special kids to me.

2. I’m thankful for my fiancée. I honestly don’t know what I would do without him. He’s truly a special person and he really proved that to me the other day when he told me that he loves me even when I’m in my “crabby” mood. And let’s just say, “crabby” was no the word that was used and his word really is a better description. Those of you who know me, know what that means! He truly loves me for the good and the bad. I don’t know what I did to deserve him, but I’m thankful every day that I somehow snatched him up!

3. I’m thankful for my parents. Anyone who knows them knows how awesome they are. They are two of the greatest people that I have ever known and if I can be half the parent that they are, I will think myself successful. I know that no matter what, they are there for me. Having a support system like is such a blessing. I honestly don’t ever think I’ll be able to thank them enough for what they do for my daughter and me.

4. I'm thankful for my family. From my grandma, my aunts and uncles, my cousins and my soon to be in-laws, I have the best family in the world. Every moment that I get to spend with any of them is usually so much fun, I know that if we weren't family, these are people that I would want as my friends. They are all so awesome.

5. I’m thankful for my friends. I truly believe that I have the best friends in the world. I hope everyone feels that way because having a good friend makes all the difference. You need people in your life that you feel that you can count on and I truly feel that I have far more than I deserve. New or old, I’m truly blessed for every friend I have in my life.

6. I’m thankful for my job. I didn’t know what to expect when I started out on this new business venture, but I didn’t expect to be where I am today. I love what I’m doing and it still gives me time with my daughter. There is no bigger blessing then that.

7. I’m thankful for food. Not in the way that you may think, though. I love to eat and eat really tasty things. As of this Thanksgiving, I’ll have been a vegetarian for 2 years, a change in my lifestyle that I’m very proud of. I did a lot of reading and education myself in making that decision and I still continue to do so.

I’m currently reading a book that has again changed my viewpoint on food and what we eat. It’s a book about eating local and eating in season, including fruits, vegetables and meat. Taking some advice from this book, I chose to buy eggs today that were not only cage free, but pasture-raised, which is a huge difference. I love to keep hardboiled eggs around the house for a snack and I had one today. Not only is the difference in the name, it’s in the taste. They were the best eggs I have ever had. I’m thankful there are now becoming more options for eating great food in ways that are not harmful to animals or our environment, which essentially affects us all. So think about that when you’re preparing that Thanksgiving dinner! :)

And most of all, I’m thankful for every day I get to spend on this earth with the people that I love. I’m trying to slow down and enjoy each day for what it is and I plan on continuing to be thankful for every blessing in my life. And I fully plan on enjoying all that this holiday has to offer: Food and family and hopefully lots of it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time Flies...

When they say that time flies, they aren’t joking. It doesn’t even feel like September started, let alone is already over! A week didn’t go by in the month of September where I was home. Between trips to South Bend, Cleveland, South Bend again, Pittsburgh and Cleveland again, I was a busy girl! I’ve been able to spend time with some of my most favorite people and create more unbelievable memories.

The best memory of all though came on September 29. My little nephew, Anderson Edward Wood, came bursting onto the scene, a 6 week early surprise just like his auntie! I’ve been dying to meet him since the day I learned that my sister was pregnant and the day my sister went into labor I had told my grandmother, “I just can’t wait to meet this baby!”

Well, I got my wish and he certainly hasn’t disappointed. It was definitely an exciting day. My parents were in Vegas when we got the news that my sister was in labor and my mom luckily was able to catch a red eye home. I picked her up from the airport, we rushed to the hospital and four hours later, we stood in the hallway, looking at the newest addition to the family through a window.

And, as cliché as it sounds, I was hit by what a miracle life really is. This little boy, laying there, grasping his dad’s hand on one side, his grandma’s on the other, was inside my sister’s belly only an hour before. All I could think was, here is this perfect little boy that we had all been waiting to meet for so long and now here he is.

The next thing that hit me was that my baby sister is now a mom. Crazy. And in the week that little Anderson has spent on this earth, he’s already one of the luckiest little boys in the world because he’s got two awesome parents. I’m blown away at how well the two of them have handled every situation that’s been thrown at them. My little sister is not just my little sister anymore. She’s a mom and an amazing one at that.

And don’t get me started on my brother-in-law. There aren’t many people who can make me laugh as hard as he does and I always knew he’d be a good dad, but he’s beyond that. I’ve always loved the way that he’s loved and protected my sister and I can see how that is going to translate into his role as a father.

He’s one lucky boy to have them as parents. But we are all luckier and more blessed to have him in our lives.

I can’t wait until the day I can hold him for the first time. I can’t wait until the day he comes home. I can’t wait until the day he says his cool aunt Tricia’s name for the first time. I can’t wait to get to know what a cool little kid he’s going to be. Of course, with how fast time is moving around here, I shouldn’t have to wait long for any of those things.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My daughter, my teacher

Peyton and I just got back from a fantastic vacation in the Outer Banks with Chris and his family. It was so great to spend time with my future in laws, getting to know them better and them getting to know me better. And being at the beach sure didn’t hurt! My only complaint: the getting there and the getting home.

It took 4 hours to go 90 miles on the day that we arrived. The stress from the drive was quickly wiped away when we finally got to the house and I didn’t think about it until the night before I had to make my drive back to the airport. I hadn’t been worried about bad traffic trying to get off the Outer Banks and onto the mainland on a Thursday afternoon, but Hurricane Irene changed that. So, with the urging of my wonderful fiancée, Peyton and I left for the airport at 7 am for a 4:15 flight, just in case people were starting to evacuate.

They weren’t. So, Peyton and I arrived at the airport at 9 with 7 hours ahead of us. We killed some time touring around Norfolk, going to a movie and having lunch, getting back to the airport 2 hours before our flight took off only to find out our flight was now delayed until 6. Long story short, we finally boarded at 6:15 pm, landing in Detroit around 8, 13 hours after our day began.

Now, the point to my long explanation of my unfortunate travel issues is that I learned some valuable lessons that day that I hope will not only make me a better person, but more importantly a better mother. Despite all of the waiting and driving and waiting and flying and waiting, my amazing daughter did not voice one single complaint all day. Not once did she whine about why it was taking so long or why we weren’t leaving yet or why she wasn’t home already. Her mother, on the hand, complained a whole lot.

Several other people waiting for the flight as well commented on how impressed they were with her, as she sat in her chair quietly, playing with her toys, completely content. I have been proud of her at many moments in her life, but maybe none more so than this day. She was absolutely amazing and it made me reevaluate my thinking.

I learned that as a mother, I need to cut her a little slack sometimes. I can so easily get caught up in the few things she does wrong instead of appreciating all of the wonderful things that she does right. From now on, I’m going to try my best to focus on those things and remember them when I get angry about something that she has done.

I learned that I need to give my incredible little girl a whole lot more credit. I complained and whined that day because I was worried that she was going to break down at any moment and a huge fit would ensue. I realize now that this is a kid who has been through a lot this last year and has handled it all so gracefully that she can manage a couple of hours waiting in an airport.

I learned that I just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love her anymore than I already do, my heart finds a way to expand and fill up even more with pride, adoration and love.
I learned that I am so proud of her and who she is becoming. She truly is an amazing little girl and I wonder how I was lucky enough to be blessed with such an awesome little kid.

And most importantly, I learned that it’s not only me that’s going to be teaching her throughout her life. She’s going to be teaching me as well. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The trick to love...

As we were going through all the boxes in my basement storage, I came across a piece of paper I had saved with a picture of a dog on it that had torn up a bunch of toilet paper and looking very remorseful. I’m imagining that I saved it because it reminded me of my parent’s dogs, Gipper and Ty, who have chewed up their fair share of bathroom tissue.

But, at the bottom of the page is a quote, a quote that really got me thinking. It says, “It’s not trick loving somebody at their best. Love is loving them at their worst.” I’m sure when I read this at the time, I thought of those dogs too. I mean, they’ve eaten everything from sewing needles to cherished photographs to money. Now, when I read that quote, I think about me and my life and how true that statement really is.

I will be the first to admit that I am a difficult person. I have mellowed a bit over the years, but I am more than willing to say that I’m not the most patient person. I can be quick tempered. I like things my way. And when I’m mad and things aren’t going my way, watch out!

Now, this is not to say that I don’t think there are positive things about me. I’m well aware of my good points as well, but I also know that sometimes those negatives can wipe the positives out of someone’s memory through my ridiculous behavior. And that’s what got me thinking about how you really know if someone loves you. Because it’s true. If someone loves you even through the bad times, they must really love you.

I think back to what I put my parents through as a teenager and they must have really loved me to not have kicked me out at 18 and say “see ya later!” Yes, they are my parents and of course they love me, but you didn’t have to live with me during those lovely formative years.

I think about my sister and how horrible I treated her growing up and now she’s my best friend. She really had to love me to deal with the nonsense that I threw her way. That poor girl dealt with way too much drama for way too long. And yes, it’s another example with a family member, but I know many families who don’t speak to each other for far less than the things that I have done.

There are many friends of mine who’ve gone through a lot with me as well and as I get older and our lives get more complicated, I can tell pretty easily who is going to be there and love me no matter how ugly and complicated my life gets.

Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about me – it’s not like I was the worst human being in the world. But, I wasn’t entirely happy with myself and that just leads to negative behavior. And until recently, I had spent a lot of time being unhappy and it led to that bad behavior again. You know what they say – misery loves company. That all changed when I decided to make the change that I needed to and now I couldn’t be happier.

And a large part of that happiness comes from the wonderful person that I’ve found to share my life with. He is truly a person that loves me even at my worst. He’s seen the worst that I have to offer and he has stuck around. And I think I can probably say I’ve seen the worst of him as well and it only makes me appreciate our relationship more. When you see someone in their least favorable light and find your love not only still there, but maybe even stronger, that’s something special.

I’ll be hanging this paper on my fridge to remind me everyday of how lucky I am to have that kind of love in my life in so many shapes and sizes. Maybe I should make a copy for my parents too - for the next time those dogs eat something else they shouldn’t. That’ll probably be tomorrow. You’ve got to love those dogs!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Value of Friendship

My freshmen year of high school, I was starting over with a clean slate. I had attended public school up until then and was beginning high school at a private, Catholic school where I knew no one and everyone else seemed to know each other, having gone to school together since kindergarten. This was a little daunting at first, not knowing a soul and everyone else already buddies, but it didn’t take much time before I’d made awesome friends. Friends that I still talk to today and some that I don’t – or haven’t in a really long time. Today though, I spent some time with one of those awesome friends - one that I haven’t seen in over ten years - and it made me think about the value of friendship.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that friendship is one of the things that I value and treasure most in the world. I try to be the best possible friend that I can be. I don’t always succeed, but I try, because friends to me are one of the most important things in life.

They say that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I think that sometimes it’s a little bit more complicated than that, but I definitely think there is something to that saying. As we get older, we change, whether we want to admit that or not. And sometimes our friends change with us and our friendships become stronger because of it. And sometimes we change and our friends don’t and people start to grow apart, not on purpose or by choice, but because that’s the way life is.

There are many moments in my life that I would love to freeze and live in forever, moments that I loved mostly because of my friends and where we were at that time in our lives. But obviously it’s not possible. Just like it’s not possible to choose how our friendships are going to evolve over time. I’ve had friendships that I thought would last forever – that we would always be in each other’s lives – and while some have, others haven’t. It’s taken me until recently to realize that it’s not my fault or their fault necessarily. It’s life’s fault. Life happens and changes us and sets us on different courses.

What’s great is that sometimes those courses veer off in different directions for a long time and then converge again later on down the road. Seeing my friend today made me think of this and the saying about a reason, a season and a lifetime. I don’t think you can ever know if a friendship is going to fall into one of these categories and I don’t think you should try to figure it out. Then you’d be missing out on the joy that each friendship brings.

The moral of the story: Go give your friends a hug and tell them you love them! 

And to all my friends out there: Thanks for bearing with me all these years and loving me for me! You know I love you all!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another new start...

In an effort to keep my life as far from boring as possible, I have begun a new business venture as an independent consultant for Rodan + Fields, the doctors who created Proactiv. I’m beyond excited but also extremely nervous. I never imagined that I would be doing anything like this in my life but I am absolutely loving the challenge that I’ve given myself. I now have the opportunity to take control of my future instead of waiting for someone to finally call me and give me an interview, let alone a job!

I was very hesitant to start something like this because I often times doubt my abilities. But, I saw this as an opportunity not only for me to make some money, but to show myself that I am much more capable of accomplishing things then I give myself credit for. And most importantly, I am responsible for my own success. What I put into this new venture is what I will get out of it and there is no one else that I’m accountable to other than myself. Which makes it both scary and empowering all at the same time.

As many of you know, I have been looking for an opportunity in the non-profit field since getting my Master’s in Non-Profit management, but with how wonderfully the economy is doing in Michigan, my career options have not been exactly plentiful. Oh, who am I kidding? They’ve been non-existent. Now though, I feel that I’m getting to use my love for helping other people into my career by helping people to feel better about themselves and how they look through improving their skin.

While this may not seem to some as valid as say, helping feed the homeless, for me, it is an important service. Personally, I’ve gone through in my life of feeling a lack of confidence because of how I look. So, whenever you can help someone feel better about themselves and more comfortable in their skin, I think you’ve done a really wonderful thing. My thoughts about nonprofit have always been that if I can just get out there and help one person, I’ll be happy. And I feel the same way about this new endeavor, only I hope that I can help more people feel as good about themselves as I feel about myself now.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mommy Meltdown

Being a mom is hard. I know what any mom who is reading this is thinking: Duh. But that statement has been at the forefront of my mind lately. There have been many times in the past month where I've been close to a complete "Mommy meltdown." 

Being a mom is hard for so many reasons and for each mom, I think those reasons are different. For me, one huge reason is that I worry. Yes, I know, as mother’s we all worry. My worry comes from when she is not with me and how the two very different ways that she is being raised are going to affect her through her life. I don’t know what goes on when she’s with her dad and I realize that I’ll only know what she tells me, which only makes the worrying worse, but I do know that there is a huge difference in our parenting styles. It’s obvious to anyone who spends a lot of time with Peyton that she comes back from weekends with her dad a different kid.

Which makes me worry about the inevitably difficult teen years and the day she says, “I want to live with my dad.” Because I can already tell that dad’s house is going to be the house where anything goes and mom’s house is going to be the one filled with discipline and rules. And while I know that I’m doing the right thing, it’s not easy. It would be much easier to just cave in, but I don’t and because of that, I often times feel like I’m not such a great mom.

I would guess that most parents, moms especially, sometimes feel like they could be a better parent. I feel that on a daily basis, especially in terms of patience. I’m not a patient person, as I’ve mentioned before, and I know that I especially lose my patience with my daughter. I have to remind myself that she’s only 4 and in a situation and life that she is still trying to figure out.

I know there’s a long road ahead of me and there are going to be a million more reasons for me to worry as she gets older, but I also know that it’s completely worth it. I have an amazing kid, such a special little girl, and no matter how hard it is, I know that I’m blessed to have her in my life and I will do whatever it takes to give her the best life that I can. And that life doesn’t mean buying her whatever she wants or letting her always have her way. That life is about loving her as much as I can and teaching her everything she needs to know to be the best person that she can be.

Thankfully, I have the most amazing support system with my family. I don’t know what I would do without them and beyond that, what Peyton would do without them. They are all such wonderful role models for her to have in her life. So, as much as I worry about how things are going to turn out for her down the road, I know, deep down in my heart, that with all the love that surrounds her, she is going to be more than fine. Now if I could just learn a little bit more about patience… :)