and yet….

while some days it pays to show up…well the best things in life are still free. as a mom there is no greater joy than tucking in my little one. checking on him one last time before bed, pulling the covers up and tucking them under his chin, brushing his hair back, listening to him dream. j sometimes laughs in his dreams. it’s truly the greatest sound. to hear his little laugh while he sleeps. it makes me feel like his life must really be worry free if he can laugh in his dreams. while during the day i remind him to pick his room up, help with little chores, mind his manners, listen the first time, and just generally harass him all day (i’m a mom it’s what we do) i do want him to be worry free. now that’s not responsibility free or free from minding. but kids should be allowed to be kids. when you get older you have enough worries for lots of lifetimes. childhood is one of the most precious gifts and i want j to enjoy it while he’s in it. sure, as he gets older he will slowly have more and more decisions to face, hard choices to make, responsibilities, and so on. and eventually he will probably worry about things. that’s life. that’s growing up. but for now he’s just a kid and i feel immensely blessed and grateful that i can give him peace for now.

being a mom was a surprise to me- in the way of how much i completely love it. being a mom was not something i was ever really sure i wanted. and then i got pregnant when we were in the “not trying not not trying” mode. and it was mind-blowing and life altering! immediately i was hooked. and in love and a total goner. and now fast forward several years and his little voice still gets to me. like when we hear mariah carey singing All I Want For Christmas Is You on the radio and I tell him that all I want is him and marv for Christmas. and he tells me, in his oh so sweet voice: me and marv don’t live in boxes for you can’t have us for Christmas. well you’re right kiddo, i can’t “have” you but as long as i’m with the two of you then life is as it should be. no presents needed.

and while i say this marv is back across the pond in germany. and oh how we miss him. and being in germany for the holidays. there is a Christmas song that perry como did (Home for the Holidays) that just makes me want to be strolling through downtown wiesbaden with the lights and Christmas cheer there. i definitely miss our Germany life and home. but mostly just being together as a family. thankfully on a little bit longer and then marv will be home…but in the meantime i’ll be dreaming of strolling with him and j through the market area with German Christmas music playing (i imagine this is just normal American songs if their other music was any indication!) and seeing the Christmas toys and decorations….”if you want to be happy in a million ways…you can’t beat home sweet home”….and thankfully i’ve grown up understanding that home wasn’t a specific place. its the people and memories….

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some days….

some days it pays to go to work. like payday. obviously. and maybe holiday bonus time (if you’re lucky enough to have one of those- i don’t think i get one). and/or summer bonus time (i used to get one). anyways- some days it pays to go to work. and on others it might not come in the form of money but rather an opportunity. an opportunity to put your name in (or to accept your boss’s request to all but confirm your new direction) for a spot that will lead you into a more senior management position. yes, some days it does pay to go to work. today is one of those for me. it’s always a dreaded feeling when your boss, while having a friendly chat, asks you to close the door. literally, no matter how you may have done or be doing your heart still drops. why? well, because the economy sucks. because you’re human and insecure. because unless you have intel on what’s coming next the talk could run the full gambit from good to bad. like it could be a compliment sandwich: “hey, you did a great job getting that submitted on time but we’re not busy enough for your role and we’re crunching numbers and not sure what will happen but hey looks like maybe we have some more work coming…maybe.”

this time it proved to (hopefully) be something that over the next few weeks and months will turn into a pleasant surprise. in the meantime i’ll keep chipping away at my job and seeing what happens. i have been really fortunate over the past 2 years to leave a job i loved (well ok i really only loved the people) and head into jobs that i love the people and the job AND the policies. so in the spirit of loving and being so happy with my current job, here is my wish for you:

and in the spirit of working for a company who didn’t know its ass from it’s elbow…..

tough turkey….

thanksgiving came and went. and oh how lovely it was. it was quiet on our end. my husband showed up on saturday before thanksgiving completely surprising me! i was due to pick him up on tuesday and had my travel plans all worked out- and then there he was at 9:30 at night knocking on the door! it was probably the best surprise i’ve ever gotten! we only had until today before he had to head back to germany but talk about being thankful for any time i got to spend with him. and while our time together was simply amazing (we spent the days catching up on life and unwinding from frantic schedules) today is a tough day….ones of those “tough turkey” days. where it just bites that he’s gone but that’s life. at least this time i only have a few short weeks to get through until he gets back. and then we begin the christmas decorating. and christmas. and new year’s. and wow….is it just me or did this year FLY by?! what happened to the year? i’m certain it was just march and j was just celebrating a birthday and then it was summer and now the new year?

wow. i mean just WOW.

but ok, i am kind of skipping the fact that there are still over 4 weeks left in the year. and lots to be done! so many family members to see, so many schedules to accommodate, missing the loved ones we won’t get to see, traffic to fight, and so many things to do. it’s why i am, as of now, about 4 people away from being done with christmas shopping. i try as the year goes on to find little things here or there for the people i know i will shop for. and whether i buy it right then or make a mental note for later by thanksgiving i’ve pretty much got it all bought or figured out. this year germany was great for ideas and gifts for the kids. i like to find little, unique things for each person. kids are a lot easier because if it looks like fun then they are usually pretty happy! but now the challenging part for me is forcing myself to take the time to wrap. i love wrapping presents but i usually put it off until the very last second and then i just throw paper and a bow on it and i pronounce it “done!” ah, well, cest la vie right?!

and in a random moment of sharing for no reason (and in complete contradiction to the title of this post) i made my very first full thanksgiving meal this past thursday. where i made everything. my first time cooking a turkey even. and……it was great! even j had turkey today and proclaimed it “great”……. i even made stuffing from scratch (cut bread from bread into squares, let sit, etc- let’s not go overboard here and assume i ground the flour and grains, mixed the bread, baked the bread, etc) and made cajun stuffing- since my husband has an affinity for anything reminding him of new orleans and/or is spicy. and i enjoyed every second, watched santa in the macy’s thanksgiving parade, listened to Christmas music, AND snuck in a nap! ….not too shabby a holiday for sure!

oh…and i remembered to set my scale back 10lbs after the meal! 🙂

nostalgic november…

i love november. it makes me happy to see so many people thankful for so much. seems to bring out the best in folks…well, now that the elections are over! the elections were interesting. to see so many people rage, roil, or rejoice one way or the other. i definitely have my opinion on the status of the government (particularly since i work in the gov’t industry) and i have my vote but some of the negativity and contempt. i mean quite honestly, isn’t the truth always somewhere in the middle??? two sides to every story and all that? i must say that depending on the issue i seem to align with both parties equally and i guess it comes down to what issues you choose to make the focus of your vote. but at the end of the day, the hype for one office, one man is insanity. he is one man. he is neither to blame nor to take credit for everything- even though the role of president usually does both. but honestly it is those who we elect on a local and state level that are as important. and to be quite honest, those out there complaining and venting and seething about who won or lost….well, aside from voting (which is important- i’m not negating that) what did you do to ensure the candidate of your choice won? if you are so passionate that you can rage and complain were you also passionate enough to get involved, make calls, go door-to-door, donate, etc? and did you listen openly to both sides? not just listen and dismiss without thought but truly consider and reflect on other opinions? as aristotle put it best: it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

but moving on to the thankfulness of november….because really that is a much happier topic! i hear and see so many people giving thanks and its wonderful! such a great lead in to christmas- although there is a part of me that wishes that the humble spirit continued more into christmas and christmas wasn’t about getting gifts and more about enjoying what we have (like thanksgiving). i think if you really look around it is easy to be thankful for a great many things. for me its definitely having my husband and son not just in my life but healthy and happy. of course you could add in the dog, my family, my job, and my friends. and well, i usually stop there because those things alone are enough to get me out of any funk or pity party i may want to wallow in from time to time. even in my daily routine- if it’s cold outside i’m thankful for my coat, when i’m stuck in traffic i’m still grateful to be headed to my job or house, when i’m frenzied and late getting home to make dinner i’m still glad that i am passing on how important it is to my son to eat a meal at the table and talk to each other, and so on.

but november is a fun time of year. the magic of the holidays is right around the corner (or already beginning), the ideas of christmas traditions and plans are taking root, twinkling lights are seen and adored by kids of all ages, and people start to think about family. whatever the definition of family may be to them. growing up we had a lot of family traditions. some of them i hold onto today (ok a lot of them) and i am even starting some new ones with my family. but some of my favorites were the decorating Christmas cookies, pajamas on Christmas eve, orange/toothbrush/hairbrush in our stockings, and Christmas music on 24/7.

Christmas music as a whole was always so much fun. i would argue with my grandfather that he told me growing up that we weren’t allowed until after thanksgiving and yet every year the week of thanksgiving i’d walk into a room to find him softly playing Christmas music on the radio. and i know now he always got caught on purpose because oh what fun it was for him to see me try to argue or question. and oh how he’d tease me. but now that i’m older i have my few favorites:

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twix9KfES9Y

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGZ1IYRirtQ

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-70qMhLfjLI

4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oOzszFIBcE

5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FB3h8IFCro

6.oh heck…who am i kidding- this list could go on for forever! basically if it’s andy williams, bing crosby, burl ives, dean martin, or frank i’m hooked!

yeah i’m one of “those” dog lovers….

my dog is a special dog. she’s even a special breed (black russian terrier). a fiercely loyal, incredibly loving, astoundingly smart, terribly needy, and simply lovely in every way breed. a former show dog and a pain in my ass. the biggest and bitchiest dog you will ever find. but she is my dog. my pup really. my little girl. she’s a champion in every way. started her life in a hard way, was rescued by incredibly kind hearts, and given a new life. she was a prima donna when it came to showing (her familiar name is bareak, her show name is CH Nord Praid Roskosh Dushechka). there was no doubt she knew she was the best in the ring. it was simply whether or not she felt like putting on her best. when she did- she flew around the ring. graceful, smooth, perfect. not too big or too large but not wiry either. built, sturdy, stocky, stunning. on occasion when she felt like showing off she even showed up the boys (or dogs as they are called in the world of showing). i think she cared not as much about showing and more about being loved. maybe it’s why she only won when she wanted to…that’s what i tell myself with a pup like her anyways!

but what bareak wanted most was to be loved. and once she decided she could trust you she claimed you as hers. and once you were hers then there was no other for you. she would never allow another near you to steal her attention. perhaps she had too little attention before she was brought from europe to the states, perhaps her life was harder than we even discovered. but if she claimed you…you were one of the lucky ones. i was. thankfully.

and yet, she’s a terrible nuisance. her demands, while not numerous, are always unsatisfied. pet me. put your hand on me. rub me. love me. hold me. talk to me. she needs constant reassurance. i was her sucker. if there is one born every minute then i was born to be hers. i can’t refuse her. only occasionally do i make her submit to my will. remind her that i too can be alpha. with this breed it is said that it must be established clearly, constantly, and often who the alpha is. i suppose that is right on some levels. but she and i coexist together. she never asks for too much. i never refuse her what she asks. she simply abhors being left alone so i try to spend as much time with her as possible. i am thankful for my job (in more ways than just with regards to bareak) which allows me to be at home with her. she is spoiled and pampered. and usually laying on my feet or legs while i type my blogs. she is too good for the floor undoubtedly, but then again maybe its just that she needs to be near.

she is a beast. takes an instant dislike to some people. appears like an oversized teddy bear to others. she puts up with my four-year old crawling all over her. loving on her. laying on her. every once in a while she will growl. softly, low, quickly. it is her plea for time to herself. to stop being the gym. and i and my son comply. but shortly thereafter she is licking him on the nose and nudging him again. she watches over us. she protects us. i have no doubt she would turn lethal if she thought we were threatened. some people may think this is a bad thing. i tend to disagree. is she an animal? yes. will there always be parts of her that are wild? absolutely. i am always aware that my little girl has four legs and not two. i think no matter the size or type it is good to always remember that. but i know she loves us. and i can only hope she knows how much she is loved and adored. and being a parent i do without a doubt know that there is a difference between my son and her. but those who truly love dogs understand how closely a dog can be tied to your heart.

when i was in germany every morning bareak would wait for marv to leave. and as he would head to the door, turn the key, walks the stairs, and shut the door to his car she would no longer be laying at the foot of the bed. she would be sitting. looking at me. and once his car had backed out of the driveway and was no longer audible to my ear she would jump on the bed. oh there were times she would wait. looking at me for approval or the command that specifically allowed it. like maybe on that day she had decided i could be alpha. but she always wound up on the bed (sorry marv!!!). and then on the weekends when my husband was home and we would stay in bed longer she would wait until she sensed we were preparing to get up for the day and then jump up for a quick cuddle. even now i remember how she would thrust her head under my arm, nudging my hand, not allowing me to forget her for too long (anyone with a BRT knows this move well). if only she knew i could never ever forget her. she’s my brat. a big one at that. but she’s also my little princess. spoiled rotten. the queen B who rules the roost. she’s my little girl, my puppy. and i am so ready for her to come home soon! this thanksgiving i have so much to be thankful for. my puppy comes home. and even more than that my wonderful husband comes home. thank goodness….now how many more days?!

outrageous oktober…..

i’m begining to understand why and how people get to a point where they just want to stop. traveling can get exhausting. from germany to dc to the mountains to dc to the northern new england area to dc to the mountains. it has been a long long time traveling. sometimes i frown at my car when going to the store 5 minutes away. it’s not that far but it’s just the thought of getting in a vehicle and traveling. anywhere for any length of time! that being said, i recently went on a girls weekend with my mom to go wherever the road, our moods, an interesting view took us….now that’s the type of traveling i enjoy!

so here goes my outdated attempt to catch up on october….

being back stateside has been fun. i definitely have a different mindset. while we had started recycling at home before heading abroad i’m fanatical about it now. every little thing is carefully placed in the proper bin…with the exception of food since we do not have a compost yet. but it is on the list to make at the house. or going to a restaurant and not seating myself- i much prefer to just seat myself. oh how i miss that about germany. instead it is wait until someone comes to seat you and inevitably they will seat you somewhere you don’t want to sit so you will point to a table and ask for that one and they will resign to you screwing up their seating sytem and give you the table. wastes so much time. just let me pick my own table to begin with- put a reserved sign on any tables for people with reservations and let’s make it easy!!! it also is novel again for me to be able to do laundry at home! and hard to adjust that i must drive to everywhere. now when i’m in DC we have a bit more leeway to walk and do take advantage of it. but in the mountains it would be quite the walk. at least the weather is significantly warmer here. which has allowed for some fun activities for the kid and i…..

first up- catching up with the best girl friends for a (belated) birthday celebration….

pumpkin patch and straw castle….how can you go wrong?!!

and up next a garlic/wine fest…wine not so great (too sweet for my tastes) but company was excellent!…

and then some time on the farm with some wonderful friends. see the gorgeous view of the mountains and the pretty cows!

and of course a trip to the renaissance festival

and then again no october would be complete without halloween…this year it was a little mouse that graced me with his presence!!! (he carried his adorable tail all night because he didn’t want to get it dirty!)

it has been a doozy of a month. great times, great memories….just need my husband in more of these pictures….soon, very soon thankfully! it is hard being a single mother and/or single spouse. everyone can imagine how it is hard to raise a kid solo but sometimes the spouse part of it is forgotten too. it’s tough having a million things to manage in addition to life. no sooner than i had gotten home when there was a leak under the sink. and the water pressure was nonexistent in the shower. and the lightbulbs all had to be replaced. all little things but finding the right contractor/plumber/handyman/lowe’s associate to answer questions or fix things takes time. more than expected. so does waiting for a repair man. and then cleaning up after everything. add in regular life things and well…i’m just saying that the single mom job is hard but so too is the single spouse part (or however you’d phrase it). i am definitely ready to be with my husband again. i’m strong enough to do it on my own but smart enough to know it’s oh so much better with him! see i am not only getting older (as my birthday pictures above indicate) but wiser too!