I didn’t care about turning 30. I thought it would be some huge thing, but it really wasn’t. It’s funny how the older you get, the more your idea of “old” changes. I can remember being in high school, thinking 35 was ancient. Ha!
I work at a store with a few older women (no, I don’t consider any of them “old” – they don’t act it, they don’t look it) and things are changing. All of my “moms” are leaving me. Abandoning me. On October 3, my beloved manager is retiring and will leave me as the oldest person in the store. I’ve never been the oldest person at my store. I’m “only” 35. It’s been a tough year at work, and although I do not blame any of them for leaving – I feel like I’m being abandoned. It’s hard not to feel that way when you’ve worked together as long as we have – they are my people, my chosen family, my “extra” moms and sisters.
I’m not where I thought I would be at 35. I don’t know what I thought that would be, but this isn’t it. I have great friends, great husband, great family, great puppies – but I’m just unsettled, I guess. I am luckier than a lot of people, and I am grateful for what I have – but something just seems off.
I’ve been so busy trying to grow the other blog that tonight I just had to come back to my familiar little corner of the internet and talk. While I would like for the other blog to get bigger and more popular, is it wrong that I want this one to stay the way it is and has been? Everyone needs their safe place, and up until now, oddly enough – my safe place was work.
I don’t have that anymore.
I think my work life is screwing with my head. I don’t know that it’s necessarily the big 3-5 that is messing with me – it is just coincidental. It’s a year of change. Hopefully it will end up being a change for the better, but right now it sure doesn’t feel that way.
Think of me on Thursday. I have a feeling that 35 is going to hit me pretty hard.
I’m sick sick SICK and too lazy (hence the name) to write a blog post, so I’m just going to link to my sister’s post from today! We painted an old fashioned – well, not TOO old fashioned, that’s the kind of desk I used when I was in school! – school desk with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. We sealed it with Minwax wax and Annie Sloan Dark Wax. The color we used today was Louis Blue – turned out prettier than we thought it would! It ended up being a nice, light grayish-blue color.
I’ll be back soon – I have some major cleaning to do in my craft room!
My poor dad has really been through it. When my mom died in 1990, she left behind a husband with 3 young kids – I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for him to lose his wife, AND realizing that he was going to have to raise 3 kids without her. I like to think that we were somewhat easy to deal with, but I am sure we weren’t all peaches and cream.
I remember dad dropping me and my sister off at the grocery store to do the shopping (before I could drive). He would come back in an hour to pay for it and pick us up. We would always pick a magazine or something fun as our “pay” for doing the shopping – I’m sure dad knew about it but he never said anything.
I remember my dad being the “cool dad” in my group of friends. He was never really strict with us – as long as he knew where we were, who we were with, and approximately when we would be back it, it was pretty much okay with him. Within reason. I didn’t have a curfew, whereas all of my other friends did. Of course, I never abused the fact that I didn’t have a curfew – maybe that was why!
Dad has raised all three of us on music. Constant music. He often says that we need to “broaden our musical horizons”. Well, I used to HATE it, but now I appreciate it. I hear so many songs that remind me of my childhood and growing up, and I have dad to thank for that. He is still very much into music (but God forbid someone actually be on the radio – that automatically qualifies them as a sellout, according to dad), and lucky for him, so are his son-in-laws! I am glad that music is something they all have in common.
Dad had to deal with things a dad should never have to deal with since he has two daughters. Do I even need to elaborate? Feminine issues, boys, broken hearts, broken friendships, girl drama… all I can say about that is that it takes a very strong man to do what he had to do for us girls. I know it couldn’t have been easy.
Dad is a pretty awesome grandpa – or as we call him now, T-Luv. It makes me so sad to hear stories about these grandfathers who don’t make time to spend with their grandkids, or are not in their lives for one reason or another. Seeing dad with Logan makes my day. Logan loves his “T-Luv Money Man” so much, and it makes me smile. He’s such a cool grandpa – was he a cool dad? Looking back, I guess so!
Dad taught me to never take the highway because it’s boring. This philosophy led to many, many adventures – getting lost in Colorado (more than once), going on a “2 hour trip to see this bridge” (turned out to be a full day), driving around until we (almost) run out of gas in Hamilton, Texas to name a few. This also means that I can (and have) called dad from the road and said, “I’m taking exit 427 because traffic sucks – where do I go from here/what’s good to eat in this podunk town/how far am I from…” I don’t know many dads that can do that. I am my father’s daughter in this regard, but I don’t think my brother and sister caught that gene.
I am so thankful for my dad. He’s had to go above and beyond in his role as dad, and although not by choice, he never made us feel like it was a chore. When my mom died, we were forced to become a closer family, and if there is one good thing that could ever come of our mom dying, it is just that. I don’t know what I would do without my dad, and I know I don’t tell him that enough. We’ve had our rough patches, but it always works out in the end.
Happy Father’s Day, T-Luv. We all love you so much and thank you for everything you have done for us!
Well, we finally did it. My sister and I did some freezer cooking today! We used to go to a place called Dinner Station, and while it was nice because everything was done for us (like chopping onions and stupid celery and touching raw chicken), it is also about 45 minutes away from both of us. We briefly discussed going back there because the prices seemed pretty fair/comparable and we liked the food, but in the end it just isn’t worth the drive.
We each picked three recipes (one beef, one chicken, and one sausage/pork) and made our lists. We did all of our shopping at Market Street (can I just say that they may have just won me as a shopper for life? Everyone there was SO nice, AND they have thin cut chicken breasts with absolutely NO fat on them – awesome!) and were impressed with the prices and quality. I’ve never done full on grocery shopping there, but I will definitely be doing it again! We had our recipes printed out and ready to go.
It just so happened that all three of my recipes used Ziploc freezer bags (gallon size). All three of Whitney’s used 8×8 foil pans. All three of hers were casseroles (that were meant for a 9×13 – she split each recipe into 2 8×8 pans since we both have small families). I brought my trusty Sharpie. Any Sharpie of mine is far superior to any Sharpie that Whitney might have (yes, we did have that discussion. I won.)
We each worked on our own recipes. That worked well since it was just two of us. If we do it again with more people, I think it would be easier to have one person in charge of chopping veggies, one person in charge of stovetop stuff, one in charge of sauces, etc. Not exactly sure how it would be easiest, but that might work.
Here are the recipes we made – Whitney has previously made the sausage/pepper penne and the chicken broccoli rice casserole. I haven’t made any of the ones I chose, so hopefully they all turn out great! We’re already talking about next time and maybe adding two more people in – have each person bring one beef/one chicken/one pork-turkey-sausage recipe, and one surprise recipe. That way there is a nice variety. If we expand it to 4 people, that would be 16 meals! Not too shabby.
Anyway, on with the recipes:
IKEA Swedish meatballs – no picture for this one!
Yes, that last one does contain cream of crap. Next time, we plan on making our own cream of crap that’s not so crappy – we just wanted to get it finished today.
I’m so excited to have 7 meals in my freezer (I made 4 smaller bags of IKEA Swedish meatballs – 15 meatballs each – instead of 2 large meals. 2-3 people do NOT need 30 meatballs in one sitting) after about $100 and 2 hours total! Here’s our combined haul – doesn’t look like much, but not bad for about 12 hours between saying “let’s do this” and actually doing it!
Here are some links to our Pinterest boards that we use for freezer meals.
This weekend was a whirlwind! I am still best friends with two girls I went to high school with, and one of them turned 35 today. Remember when you were in high school and 35 sounded so freaking old? Yeah, well. It’s our year.
Anyway, two of us (the ones that live close to each other) decided to drive 3 hours, kidnap Brittaney, and whisk her away to the thriving metropolis that is Houston, Texas (yet another 1.5 hours away). We planned this in less than a week. It was a nightmare for me, since I am a huge overplanner. I do not fly by the seat of my pants. Not well, at least. Thanks to Brittaney’s kickass husband and kickass mother-in-law, we pulled it off.
We left Friday morning (I had scored a rare long weekend off) for our three hour jaunt to Aggieland. We finally arrived, and of course, 2 minutes before we pulled onto her street, my sweet nephew called me and had very important questions about a Wii Sonic game that I apparently own. He wanted it and he wanted it NOW. I love talking to him, but now was not the time – my stomach was turning flips hoping we could pull everything off! I told him to call my husband and that he would bring it to him, and I gently told him I had to get off the phone and for him to send me a picture of his new “scorpion hot wheel car”. I still feel bad for not talking to him longer! (And I got that picture less than 1 minute later, of course).
We parked in her driveway and ran to the front door. Christie rang the doorbell while I tried not to puke. No one answered. I was starting to freak out! I told her to keep on ringing it – we were holding a number 3 and a number 5, so she was the one on the doorbell side. What seems like an hour later, the door opened. I WISH I had gotten a picture of Brittaney’s face.
Her first word was, “What?” and then “Is something wrong? What’s going on?”. We pushed our way into the house and told her to pack a bag and that she was being kidnapped! Brittaney is an overplanner as well, so this threw her completely off. Amazingly, she had makeup on due to a doctor’s appointment earlier that morning so all she had to do was get some clothes and PJs together. Somehow, we got out of the house about 30 minutes later. I couldn’t believe it!
We ate lunch at a little place in Navasota called “Martha’s Bloomers“. It was highly recommended by my boss, so we decided to check it out. Christie is a bona fide tearoom freak, so I knew she would love it. We got there, looked around in the little store and garden, and then made our way back to the restaurant part. We waited. And waited. And waited. No one was at the host stand, there were people waiting, and we weren’t sure what the heck was going on. Finally, at least fifteen minutes later (not even exaggerating), a very frazzled lady walked into the waiting room. She basically ignored the three of us, and we had to tell her that we needed to get on the wait list. She said it would be 15-20 minutes. Ugh. Of course. We should’ve just left at that point. Thirty minutes later (at least – again, not exaggerating) we saw people that walked up after us get seated. That was it. We had wasted 45 minutes just trying to get seated at 2 pm on a Friday! Come on! We walked back up to the room, and were ignored again. She finally spoke to us and said, “You’re next on the list to be seated, I’m the only one hosting and cleaning up tables today”. Sorry, but not my problem. Having worked in a restaurant and retail, I’m pretty forgiving – but I have my limits. Then, not 5 minutes later, she calls out for *another* party. Christie gave her the look from hell, and the lady had the cojones to say, “You’re next”. Hello? Christie continued the death ray glance and the lady finally gave in and seated us. Seriously. What a bunch of crap. THEN, we finally got a waitress (after watching others that came in after us be helped) and they were out of basically everything we wanted. If you’re out of things, you should probably erase the menu off of the chalkboard outside of your restaurant. We all ended up getting the same thing, something we knew would be simple and quick to get to our table. Whatever. The food was good, prices weren’t too bad, but we should have cut our losses and left when we were ignored for the first 15 minutes to even get on the list.
I had reserved a hotel room at the Hilton Post Oak near the Galleria. It was okay, not what I would expect a “4 star” hotel to be (that is the supposed rating for this hotel – I’d probably go more with 3 stars, but I’m a hotel snob). I got a good price on it, so it was just fine for what I paid. Due to good old Martha’s Bloomers, we hit Houston at prime rush hour traffic time. We made it to the hotel and laid around for a good hour just talking and laughing – it was great.
We had reservations for dinner at Backstreet Cafe. We were so excited about this, because we rarely get to go out for nice dinners – ever. Nice for me is pretty much Chili’s, if that gives you any clue. We were seated right away, on their awesome patio. I wouldn’t sit out there in the summer (no way Jose!) but the weather was really nice that night. We started out with a pitcher of the red wine sangria and some of their fresh sourdough bread and butter. I could’ve eaten that bread all night and been completely happy! We had the artichoke flatbread for an appetizer – I don’t branch out much, and the only artichoke thing I have ever had is spinach artichoke dip – it was good. I did find out I’m not a huge fan of artichoke hearts – no real reason, I think it just has a funky texture that I can’t get with. Christie had the scallop special, Brittaney had the lobster special, and I had goat cheese stuffed chicken. I don’t do seafood AT ALL, but I decided last year in Los Angeles that when I travel, I will try other foods, even if it means gagging.
Well, I will just say that I hate scallops and I don’t like lobster. And also that Brittaney had to remind me to breathe and swallow. We’re talking tears running down my face because those scallops were so buck nasty. I’m sure if you like lobster and scallops you would love both of those dishes, but I did not. My goat cheese stuffed chicken, however, was fantastic and I would like to replicate it for dinner someday.
They brought out an itty bitty mini almond cake with ice cream and a candle on top for Brittaney. It was on a tray with “Happy Birthday” written on it in chocolate. It was awesome! Then we ordered a Petit Trio of desserts, which included a dark chocolate raspberry cake with coffee ice cream, a pear crisp with vanilla ice cream, and a creme brulee. I only tried the pear crisp and creme brulee and loved them both equally.
We were there for 2.5 hours. It did not seem like that long because we did do a lot of eating and a lot of talking and drinking – but the service lacked a little. For the prices we paid, I expected better service, but I will go back next time I’m in Houston and give it another shot. Our waiter was attentive when he was there, but he just wasn’t there enough 🙂
We went back to the hotel, drank some more wine, ate a couple of cupcakes we brought from Market Street, and went to sleep. We fell asleep watching Storage Wars: Texas. How sad is that? I do believe we were OUT by midnight.
The next morning we got our stuff packed up and checked out of the hotel. We went to Katz’s for breakfast and it did not disappoint at all. Christie and Brittaney had mimosas, I stuck with water. Brittaney ordered challah french toast, I ordered buttermilk pancakes topped with bananas, and Christie ordered blueberry blintzes. Everything was SO good. I wish we had one here, I would go there every chance I got. Their lunch and dinner menu looked great too.
We did a little shopping at the Galleria, and then decided it was probably a good idea to head back home. We could only be gone for one night because Christie had to be back Saturday night. We ate at Chuy’s in Cypress (always a favorite – give me Chuy’s any day and I’m a happy girl). We planned to stop at Buc-ees again on our way back, but missed the exit. I’m still thinking about Beaver Nuggets and how delicious those crack-laced treats are.
I’m so glad we could pull this off – I know it was nice for Brittaney and Christie to have a night away from their kids and just enjoy themselves. I had a blast too. I’m glad we surprised Brittaney, and shocked. She does not let anything surprise her, but she can’t say that now.
Happy birthday, B. I love you!
I have to admit – the very thing that brought me closer to my best friend last year is one of the things that tore us apart seven years ago. She decided to become a surrogate in 2004 – or I suppose the more correct term is “gestational carrier”. I thought she was doing it for the wrong reasons (money) and I didn’t agree with it. That was not the only factor in the 6 year break in our BFF-relationship, but it was definitely one of them. I think the thing that bothered me the most was that she didn’t discuss it with me beforehand, and it hurt my feelings. That is kind of a “big” thing to do without the support of your best friend. I was selfish and, let’s face it, young and stupid back then and have since made some realizations.
Fast forward to November 2010. Britt and I reunited, and went right back to where we left off in November 2004. It is amazing how some friendships just pick back up. In 2011, she decided that she was going to be a surrogate again – for the third time. (During our “break”, she was a surrogate for a second time and had another one of her own). I wasn’t involved in the decision, but at least I knew about it this time – this one was a little bit different. Okay, a lot different.
She was going to have a baby for a gay couple.
I immediately loved the idea. I am a big supporter of gay rights, and I was proud of her for doing this. She lives in a very small town, and if we’re keeping it real, small towns aren’t generally known for being the friendliest in situations such as this. It was enough for the community to know she was going to be a *gasp* surrogate – add to that the fact that it was going to be for a gay couple and the town might explode! She decided to keep that part under wraps due to fear of losing her job (yes, unfortunately, this was a very real possibility). She was not using her employer provided insurance, so there was really no reason for her to share any more information other than that she was going to be a surrogate again.
May 2011 – Britt and I were talking, and she dropped a bomb on me. She wanted me to go to Los Angeles with her in June for the FET – frozen embryo transfer. Her husband could not go, and she needed someone to go with her (to give her all the injections that were required every day), so she asked me. Of course I would go! We planned as much as we could in the short amount of time we had before the trip, we okayed it with the fathers that I was coming instead of her husband, and we decided to go a few days early so we could sightsee. We had the best time and it really cemented the fact that we were meant to be best friends. We’ve both talked and decided that we would not dwell on the fact that we missed out on six years of each other for purely selfish, stupid reasons and to move forward with our friendship instead of looking back – but it is difficult sometimes! I can’t help but think of the things we could have been doing in those six years and what we missed out on. We had 3-4 days of sightseeing and then it was time for the FET.
She met the fathers when they “interviewed” her earlier in the year. I had not met them, obviously. Only one of them (the biological father – his sperm + a donor egg) was able to make it to California for the procedure, and we met him for breakfast the morning of the FET. The actual procedure went very quickly – I actually got to look at the thawed embryo through a microscope before it was implanted. I was in the room when my best friend got pregnant. Talk about crazy! The dad gripped my hand like nobody’s business while the doctor worked on Britt and then he said a prayer for Britt and the (hopefully) baby.
The next 3 days were pretty uneventful. She needed to be on moderate bedrest until we flew home, so we watched lots of TV, played on the ipad and laptops, read books, and slept. After all of the running around we had done the few days before, we needed to rest anyway! We did order a pizza one night and went up to the rooftop deck of our hotel to eat it – that was awesome. The view was beautiful. We flew home (neither of us wanted to go back home, we LOVED Los Angeles) and then we waited.
The next weekend, I was back at her house for a craft weekend. She took a pregnancy test and it was positive. She said that she had a feeling all along that it would work – that she could actually *feel* the implantation when it happened. She told the dads, and everyone was excited! Baby was due at the end of February/beginning of March 2012.
The baby would be born via c-section, in a hospital near where Britt lived. Both of us were a little nervous for how things would go down, what with the two dads – not to mention the whole surrogate thing. The dads took a tour of the hospital the day before the birth and (I assume) explained things for the staff so there were no surprises the next day. I drove down after work the day before so I could be with Britt and see the dads/baby/run interference in case there were problems.
I had no idea that that day would be a life-changing experience for me.
I have never seen such love and caring towards a stranger before. I was the stranger. Remember, I had only met one of the dads – I had emailed with both of them a couple of times just for various things, but that was it. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from 1) the dads, 2) the doctors and nurses, and 3) the rest of the family that came in for the birth. I was excited, but nervous at the same time. Britt got settled, paperwork completed, IV in – all the fun stuff that comes with a c-section – and then in came the dads. I got a big hug from M, the one I met in Los Angeles. He immediately told me how glad he was that I was there to witness this, since I was there at the very beginning.
Then I met K, his partner. I was especially excited to meet him after our emails. He did not disappoint – wrapped me in a huge hug as soon as he saw me.
We all sat in the hospital room and talked a little about how the day was going to go – Britt, her husband, me, M, K, and the nurses. You could just feel the excitement in the air! The nurse showed me where to go to see the dads walk down the hall with the baby, and made sure that I knew so I could tell their family that was in the waiting room.
M has twins that are in 3rd grade. The baby that was born yesterday is actually their biological sibling – all of the embryos were frozen at the same time! How cool is that?
Anyway – K’s parents came into the room to meet Britt/her husband/myself. They were awesome. So sweet, so excited, so anxious. K was not in the picture when M had the twins – he came into their lives when they were toddlers. We went out to the waiting room and well…we waited. And waited. And waited. I met the twins – smart as a whip, well-mannered, normal little kids – and M&K’s best friend, Uncle K. We clicked *right away*. He is the twins’ godfather. He is also gay and has a partner. They do not have children, but you wouldn’t know it. Those kids love that man, and he loves them something fierce.
I will just say that their family made me feel like I was part of their family. They turned what could have been a really strange situation into a day filled with love and tears and happiness and hugs. I witnessed such love and acceptance and sheer happiness yesterday. THAT is love.
A mother (grandmother!) telling me that while she may not have envisioned her son’s life going the way it has, but that she loves him unconditionally and wants him to be happy – and knowing that his life IS what makes him happy – that is love.
A father (grandfather!) who absolutely BEAMED when he was talking about his wife and kids and grandkids – that is love.
An honorary uncle/godfather who so obviously adores his best friends and their children as though they were his own – that is love.
A family that can take in a stranger for the day and make her feel welcome and loved – that is love.
A woman that gives selflessly of her body for nine months to help a couple have a family that would otherwise not be able to – that is love.
A husband that “allows” his wife to do this for strangers – that is love.
Britt’s kids that know that their mommy is pregnant and having a baby for another family, and loving it like they would a sibling – that is love.
M&K’s twins that are too young to fully understand what is going on, but trusting their dads that there will be a baby – that is love.
Being there for the birth of your best friend’s first child and being there for the birth of the last child she will have – that is love.
This little baby boy that is so wanted and is already so loved by so many people – that is love.
The birth went as perfectly as it could. Britt was a champ. I stood with the family as M&K walked down the hallway with their new baby boy into the nursery. I was asked to be in family pictures. I took pictures. I cried with the family – happy tears, of course! We all watched together as M&K watched their son. They could not take their eyes off of him. They had huge grins on their faces, and were obviously overjoyed with the little miracle in the bassinet. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I didn’t see two men behind that glass wall. I didn’t see a man and a woman. I didn’t see two women. What I saw was a family.
Britt helped them to become a family of five. She gave the grandparents a new baby to love. She gave the twins a sibling to grow up with. She gave Uncle K a new godchild (I believe this one makes EIGHT!). She taught her own family that love comes in many forms.
When it was time for me to leave (stupid job!), I went to the room that M&K were staying in with the baby to say goodbye to everyone. I will never forget K’s mom hugging me so tight and crying, making sure that Britt and I would take care of each other. We probably hugged three times. I got hugs from the kids, hugs from M&K, hugs from Uncle K (and his card – apparently we’re going to have martinis together – this requires a pretty decent plane ride!). I felt so much love yesterday – that morning, they were strangers. By the time I left last night, we were family. As Uncle K said, friends are the family you choose for yourself. Yes, it has been said many times before, but now I completely understand it. It became clear in one little day.
I am a lucky girl.
My lovely 4 year old nephew decided that he wanted to be the “black bomb bird” from his beloved Angry Birds game. My sister and I talked about it for weeks, trying to figure out how to make a round costume that looked decent and was not too hot (we do live in Texas, after all, and it’s usually warm on Halloween). No dice.
Finally, I suggested just getting a black shirt/sweatshirt, black pants/leggings, and a black hat and we could go from there. I’m not the MOST creative person, but I can sure try!
First, I printed out a couple of pictures of the black Angry Bird to use for reference. One looked a lot meaner than the other, but we let Logan pick which one he liked the best – we ended up using the eyes from the not-so-angry bird, and the beak from the very-angry-bird. We compromise in my family.
I freehanded the shapes (eyebrows, eyeballs, eyebags – I can’t think of a better way to explain those!) onto paper so we could lay it out and make sure we liked the size of the design. We cut out the shapes, laid out the face, and labelled them with the color felt we needed to cut them out of.
Once we had the proportions the way we wanted them, we traced them onto felt and cut them out. We did run into a problem – we needed gray felt and didn’t have any. I don’t know that I have ever seen light gray felt anyway – so we were resourceful and cut up one of my brother-in-law’s old gray t-shirts! Worked like a charm.
At first I thought I would handstitch the pieces onto the sweatshirt, but then I decided that was a time suck, so I brought my handy dandy Stitch Witch at the last minute. SO glad I did, because I forgot how much I hate to stitch stuff by hand.
I put the eyes together with the Stitch Witch, then used the Stitch Witch to attach them to the sweatshirt. I stuck the beak on with Stitch Witch as well. I’m not saying this costume will be one to pass down to future children, but it will at least last until Halloween is over!
For the hat – my sister bought a solid black fleece hat with a pom-pom of sorts on top. I was at a loss trying to figure out how to make a felt “explosion” on the top of the hat. Then I remembered making all those felt flowers for my yarn wreath – DUH! I basically made a huge felt flower and sewed it onto the top, around the black pom-pom. It worked perfectly!
He loved it! He was so excited when we showed him the finished product, which was enough for me. Whatever makes him happy, I am glad to do it. Isn’t that what aunts are for?!
So – the whole thing cost less than $20. It took less than an hour. It’s not the greatest, most elaborate costume we’ll see, but I’m pretty proud of it!
Sweatshirt – $5
Leggings – $5 (they were in the GIRLS section, but he doesn’t have to know that!)
Hat – $5
Felt – $3.97
Stitch Witch – I already had, but it’s less than $5
LOVE! And just for good measure, and because I love him so much – this is the reason I would give my life for that kid.