New Year’s Resolutions

On this, the last day of the year, I know it’s the time to reflect on all that’s happened, good and bad, and then charge forward into the new year, with intentions to make it the best one yet. Today, I really believe that is possible.

A year ago I sat on the floor of our living room, playing with our kittens, while Paul and I discussed a move to Washington. We’d tossed the idea around all fall and had come to the conclusion that we should stick out our lives in California. But, on that first day of the new year, we talked differently. A decision was made. It took us three and a half months to make that resoluion a reality, but we did it.

We rock. We really do.

My goals for 2011 do NOT include a major relocation (thank goodness), and I see us staying in our cozy townhome, making changes along the way so it’s more comfortable and more us. Really, as far as resolutions go, I don’t have much.

1. Lose all the weight I’ve gained since I was at my lowest last year.

2. Pay off my 401K loan.

3. Be as positive and happy as I can at all times, because I have a lot to be positive and happy about

4. Have lots of fun!!

I love the new year. I love the clean slate it gives, the fresh start. I’m big on fresh starts. I like saying, okay, brand new starting today, and launching myself fully into whatever I want to accomplish with this new start.

Wanting

I know there are people out there who hear others’ good news, and just feel amazing because there are good things happening to those others. And for the most part, I try to be that person. I am genuinely happy when people I care about get the things that they want. But when they COMPLAIN about the things they are getting, the things that I want…it’s hard. It’s so, so hard.

Case in point: over the last few years, several of my friends have gotten engaged and married. From the ones who loved every minute to the ones that bitched their way to the alter about how stressful planning was, I want what they have. I know that the life I chose is with Paul and he told me years ago when we got back together that he didn’t ever see himself getting married. We’ve revisited the topic, but his feelings remain the same, and I can’t picture myself with anyone else. I love him and I do want to be with him, even if it means I can never have the wedding and marriage I want. His decision is tough for me though, and sometimes it’s hard not to let my feelings get hurt when he doesn’t want to take the plunge and get married. But for the most part I try to remember that it’s just how he feels, it has nothing to do with our relationship, and that not being married is growing to be less and less important to people around me. I don’t wonder if he comes home at night to me because he wants to or because he just can’t find a good divorce attorney. So there’s that.

But, still, I’ll never have it the way I want. That makes me sad.

I want the fairy tale: dress, cake, ceremony, beautiful photos, honeymoon in a fun place. I want Paul to beam when I walk down the aisle, knowing that he is thinking that he is lucky enough to be with this girl. Maybe it stems from an insecurity, that I sometimes wonder if he feels like he is lucky to have me, since he is after all a guy and doesn’t express emotions to me like that. He doesn’t have a mushy personality. He doesn’t give me compliments and he certainly doesn’t look at me like he can’t believe he’s lucky enough to be with me. He’s not the type to tell me how much he loves me all the time, or hold my hand, or send me flowers.

I know that he loves me. Well, he says he does. He’s still here, he points out, whenever I feel insecure and confront him about the state of things. And things have gotten better over the years. We don’t argue nearly as much as we used to. But from the man who doesn’t show emotion or affection, is it so much to ask that he give me the gesture of marriage?

SoCal, Days 3 and 4

I woke up Sunday morning to a beautiful sunrise. Clouds were rolling in, bringing with them the promised several-day-long rainstorm. I took a shower and got ready, then borrowed Dad’s Escape and drove out to the Parkers’ house for brunch. I love Paul’s parents and they’ve been great to me. I know how hard it is for them, having us living far away. Paul’s mom Kathy and prepared a feast – quiche, sausage, muffins, and fresh fruit. Paul’s dad Wayne and I played with the cats. They have six, and they range from super friendly to shy. The oldest of the bunch, a handsome muscular orange cat named OJ, walked calmly over to me to ask for petting and attention. Doyle, the six-toed gray cat, rolled around for my delight on the countertops until Kathy shooed him away (something about cat hair in the food). And the youngest, a little striped kitten named Tiger, is a little terror who gets into everything. In his desire for my affection, he proceeded to climb my leg to get my attention. He now has a full mane, looking more like a lion than a tiger. He was so cute, I wanted to stuff him into my carryon and smuggle him home.

The Parkers’ good friend and neighbor Vicki Ostermann came over to join us for the brunch. I miss nights playing cards or dominoes with the Parkers and the Ostermanns. Since everyone had lived in the Northwest, they know where I’m talking about when I tell stories about places I’ve discovered and they always enjoy reminiscing.

After brunch I made a quick stop at Albertson’s for cooking spray and then headed back to my parents’ house. It was time for Christmas baking. This is a longstanding tradition in my house. Every year we make a variety of cookies and other Christmas treats, all together in the kitchen. I love it. When I got to the house Dad was making another batch of fudge, and I licked myself into a semi-sugar coma with the bowl. Then I had some of the pressed cookies Mom had made while I was at brunch. I love pressed cookies. They’re buttery and delicious, not too sweet, perfect with a cup of coffee.

Steve and Shannon arrived and joined me and Melissa in the kitchen to decorate sugar cookies. We started off by putting white frosting into bowls and coloring it with food dye. Steve decided he was going to combine red and blue to make purple frosting. As he added the colors to his bowl he sang a made-up song. “Red and blue makes purple,” he crooned. “Red and blue makes purple.” We all cracked up.

Once we had our colors mixed, we went to work spreading the frosting on the cookies with butter knives. I wasn’t thrilled with the effect I was getting so Mom brought out her pastry bags and different decorating tips. We each filled a bag with frosting and began piping the frosting onto the cookies, making designs and passing the cookies around until everyone had put some different colored frostings onto each. My favorite cookie was the one I posted the picture of, because it’s one that we all worked on.

We finished up our cookies and piled into the car to go to Chili’s for dinner. After baking all day, nobody wanted to cook dinner, and besides I wanted to go to Chili’s since we don’t have that restaurant in Washington. I got my usual order: the Triple Dipper Appetizer (yes, I would routinely eat an appetizer trio for dinner) with southwestern egg rolls, chicken crispers, and spinach artichoke dip. To drink I ordered a Blue Pacific Margarita. It was fun watching the server try to figure out my birthday on my out of state driver’s license. To be honest, I still can’t find my birthday on my license at a glance either. We had a nice dinner, then headed outside into the rain.

When I woke up Monday morning I was a little in shock. The weekend had gone so fast! Was it really time to go home today? Melissa had to go to work, so I spent the morning sitting in the living room talking and drinking coffee with Mom and Dad. Maui was trying her best to be good, but it was obvious she was bored from being cooped up inside because of the rain. She nibbled Dad’s legs, chased the cats, and tried to stick her head up my pant leg in some game I didn’t seem to know how to play correctly.

We went to Target to get a couple things Mom needed for work and then Steve came over. He was fresh from job testing and pretty optimistic about a position as an assistant principal. Since it was my last day in California, Dad said I should pick someplace to go eat that I can’t normally get. Now, the tourist would’ve picked In N Out, but I wanted El Pollo Loco. I got my pollo bowl and devoured it. I may or may not have chased it with a piece of every kind of fudge Dad had made and several cookies.

Melissa got home from work and we got to have about an hour together, our whole family. All too soon it was time for Dad to take me to the airport to catch my flight home. I hugged my siblings goodbye and then turned to Mom. I hugged her hard, kissed her cheek, hugged her again, and told her over and over how much I loved her. I was incredibly sad and didn’t want to leave her and go home but I kept it together. I didn’t want her to see me leave sad. So I put a smile on my face, got in the car with Dad, and waved to her until we’d pulled away and she was no longer in sight.

The storm raged and rain was falling hard but we still made it to Ontario airport in record time. Dad parked and walked with me to my terminal. We stood for a bit and talked, since I was still pretty early. Eventually I had to go to my gate. I hugged him, then hugged him again, told him how much I loved him and how glad I was that I got to spend the weekend with the family. I kept smiling as I went up the escalator, waving to him. I went through security and then as I walked to my gate, two huge tears dripped down my face. I hadn’t expected it to be so hard to leave.

I didn’t want to stand in the airport crying, so I knew I needed to distract myself. I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath, and found a gift shop where I got myself some cool ranch Doritos, a bottle of water, and a trashy celebrity gossip magazine. Nothing takes a mind off saying goodbyes like reading more-than-likely-made-up stories about celebrity agony. My flight was delayed, so I was glad to have the stupid magazine.

When my flight finally boarded, I accepted a request from a stranger to trade him seats. I think he wanted to sit near people he was traveling with. Either that or he preferred my aisle seat to his window. Although I’d had no anxiety at all on the flight down, after takeoff I found myself incredibly nervous. I felt like the plane was going to drop out of the sky any minute. Bad, bad thoughts. Maybe it’s the window seat that gives me anxiety, which sucks because I like looking out when the plane descends into my destination. I opened “E”, the awesome book Bob had gotten me for Christmas, and read almost the whole thing by the time the plane touched down at Seatac.

I walked through the terminal, paid for my parking (all $112 of it, thankyouverymuch) and found my car. I was still feeling pretty down as I got on the freeway and headed north. I did feel a bit cheered up when I drove through downtown Seattle, saw the Space Needle, and felt the familiar excitement of living here rush through me. I want my family to visit me here. They would love this place. I know they would. I’d show them the best places.

There wasn’t much traffic, and I got back to Marysville without any trouble. I parked in the driveway, pulled my suitcase out of the trunk, and took a deep breath. I’m home, I thought. Would the sadness persist, would I be unhappy missing my family, or would I settle back into a routine?

I stepped inside. The townhouse was warm, bright, and comforting. As I set my things down, the cats rushed to greet me and purr their delight that I was back. I stroked their soft, fuzzy heads and the purr chorus grew louder. Above my head, I heard movement on the second floor.

Paul appeared on the landing, smiling at me. He walked into the kitchen, gave me a kiss, and folded me into a hug. At that moment, sadness evaporated. I had my kitties and Paul, I was home, and I was happy.

We knew when we moved that it would never be perfect, that living far away from our families would be tough. We also knew that coming here was the best thing for us and our futures. Since we’ve been here, we’ve grown closer and spend more time together, have paid off some bills, and I’ve gotten a job I love and made friends I couldn’t imagine my life without. So even though those airport goodbyes are never going to be easy, I’m going to be glad for the time I do get with my family, and embrace the memories and look on them with happiness.

Mom’s Birthday

Last Saturday morning I woke from the kind of sleep that can only be described as semi-comatose. I was so, so tired after the long day and all the excitement I’d had on Friday, despite my nap. But I got up to find that the sun was shining (this did not last) and that I hadn’t dreamed it: I was in California.

And I was celebrating my mom’s birthday with her.

The day started out pretty low key. We sat around and sipped coffee, then my dad made batches of fudge. This is a Christmas tradition and he loves making fudge. I love to watch, because then the bowl is mine for the licking and who can resist that?

Steve and Shannon arrived, and Steve started dinner (he was the chef for the night) while Shannon entertained us. She’d just gotten back from a week-and-a-half long trip to the East Coast for a family reunion. Some of the stories were pretty amusing, like her trip with her religious stepmom to BibleLand (or whatever it’s really called) where she was banned to the parking lot to smoke.

After chatting awhile we let Mom open her birthday presents. Melissa and I both got her gift cards for Starbucks (I guess we didn’t coordinate that very well, although to be honest, I’d take a hundred Starbucks gift cards happily should they be given to me), Dad got her two pretty ruffly scarves, and Steve made her a wreath to look like the ones in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. I put up a picture of it because I really didn’t think I could do it justice describing it here. It’s so beautiful. Steve also gave me my Christmas gifts, four landscape photos (one for each season) that he’d made and framed for me. I’ll put up a picture of them once I’ve had a day off from work and time to hang them.
Mom’s best friend Debbie and her husband Frank arrived, and Steve served dinner. He made turkey meatballs on a bed of fettucini, mixed veggies, and cheese bread. It was a mini feast. About the time we were finishing dinner, my longtime friend Cambria arrived with her boyfriend Kevin and their three month old daughter Sakinah. Sakinah instantly took center stage, dazzling everyone in the room. She herself was mesmerized by the ornaments and lights on the Christmas tree. She was so cute, and so snuggly and warm and wonderful. I fell in love with her instantly. Cambria is an amazing mom, she kept snuggling Sakinah and telling her how much she loved her.
Mom said it was the perfect birthday and she couldn’t have ordered a better one. =)

SoCal, Day 1

So I got home from California on Monday night but I was just too tired to write about it. Last night, well, no excuses, just didn’t feel ready to process it in words yet. But tonight here I am. I can’t really see putting the whole trip into one post, so I’ll do different days in different ones.

The trip was amazing! I didn’t oversleep: in fact, I got up in time to have a shower, dry my hair, make a cd to listen to on the drive down, double check everything I packed, and swig down a protein shake. The drive to the airport was easy, with hardly any traffic. I found a parking spot at the terminal and got checked in without any trouble. I went through security, got a latte, and found my gate with plenty of time to spare. The flight was on time, and I didn’t have any anxiety at all during the trip.

When I got to Ontario I was beyond eager to get off the plane. I couldn’t wait to see Mom! I finally was able to grab my carry-on suitcase and bust out of there. I know Ontario airport pretty well and knew exactly where to go. I got on the escalator to go down to the exit and I could see her waiting. That was, hands down, the LONGEST FREAKING ESCALATOR RIDE ever. Finally I hit the floor and walked over to her. We hugged, and we both teared up but didn’t full on cry. She took my suitcase and we walked to her car.

We got up to the desert and she took me to lunch at Farmer Boys. It’s this awesome homestyle restaurant that I loved when I lived there. Normally I would get breakfast foods no matter what time of day, but I was super hungry so I got a chili cheeseburger with fries. I kept just staring at Mom, memorizing her face, her smile, her laugh, to keep with me. I was so happy to be there and have lunch with her.

After we finished eating we went over to Verizon so I could see my former coworkers. I didn’t get to see everybody, of course, but I did see a lot of very dear friends and my mom was a trooper for going along for the visit. I miss those people but I love my new coworkers too. How could I get along without Angela and Bob and Maggie? And I have made so many other CSSC friends too. So I left feeling good that I’d seen familiar faces, people I dearly love, but I was still feeling comfortable with my decision to move and make a change. And they’re happy for me, my Cali friends. That’s another reason I love them.

Mom and I went to the house and Maui, her dog, was beyond thrilled to see me. I love Maui so much, she’s the sweetest boxer dog with a huge personality. She became my instant best friend and stayed that way all weekend. I hung out with Mom, drinking coffee and talking, and Melissa came home and joined us. After awhile, the early morning caught up with me and I took Maui with me to take a nap. I was staying in Steve’s old room, which had been my old room. The twin bed in there was beyond cozy and warm and I had a good nap, Maui at my side. She loves to cuddle. She wanted my arm around her at all times, and if I moved she would stick her head under my armpit and move my arm until I was hugging her again. It was a very sweet gesture and I loved snugging her.

Not long after I woke up from my nap, Steve came over and Dad got home from work. He had flowers for me, which were so beautiful. I took pictures of them and posted them on my Facebook. He also had my mom’s Aloha necklace. It’s her favorite, and she’d worn it so often that the jewelry had worn too thin and broken. She was heartbroken when that happened, so Dad snuck it out of the house and got it fixed for her for her birthday. I really thought she was going to cry again, and that was definitely a cry moment, but she didn’t.

We all sat down for a nice warm dinner of stew. Mom had made it because the weather forecast was predicting cold rain and we were all hungry for comfort food. We all talked and laughed and enjoyed catching up.

It was the pefect first day back.

Looking Ahead

I knew this week would be crazy. In fact, I have to reflect on the craziness that I feel, and wonder if it would still feel crazy if I hadn’t been expecting that this week would be crazy.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I sound a little crazy right now.

I’m working four days this week, ten hour shifts each day, which will allow me to take two days off without having to use up vacation time. I’m going back to SoCal, to celebrate my mom’s birthday with my family. It’ll be a whirlwind trip (I’m flying in on Friday and back home on Monday), and the only thing keeping me from looking forward to it is my current focus on things at work. Well, and of course my knowledge of the craziness.

My plane leaves Seatac on Friday at seven in the morning, so I’ll have to be up super early to get to the airport. Once I land, it’ll be worth it: I’ll have practically the whole day to spend with my family. I just don’t do mornings well, and the knowledge that I have to wake up early usually causes me to be anxious and fear oversleeping, thus not sleeping well. I’ve had similar trouble this week with my longer shifts. Instead of my normal ten o’clock start time, I’m going to the office at eight, so I’ve been waking up at six in the morning. Six isn’t really that early, but still, I worry that I’ll oversleep.

At work, I’m focused on trying to be as productive and helpful as possible while also wondering how long I’ll be on the Jeop Desk, if I’ll have to go back on the sales floor, when…the endless unknown is driving me a little mad. I wish I knew what was going to happen. I’m not ready to go back, since I had been promised a six-month loan and had not anticipated going back to my old job until at least February. Since nothing has been confirmed, I’m trying to stay optimistic and hope for the best. I’m also trying to keep a low profile and just do my work (although I did take a quick break from this when I changed Nancy’s computer language preferences to German today).

In between anxiety over my alarm clock and work stress, I have moments where it hits me, really hits me, that I’ll get to see my family in just a few days. Then I find myself feeling wildly excited. I haven’t seen them since July, and while we text, call, and email, it’s just not the same. Dad lives in Ojai during the week to be close to his job in Santa Barbara, while Mom is still at the Apple Valley house full-time and working her job at city hall in Victorville. Dad comes home on weekends. My sister still lives with them, but my brother Steve lives with his girlfriend Shannon in an apartment across town. Since everybody is scattered about, I’m so happy that we’ll even be able to get a few days all together. We’re going to do Christmas baking, celebrate Mom’s birthday, and have a laid-back few days.

I think I need a nice, relaxing bubble bath tonight. That will help soothe my nerves and help me sleep. I only have two ten-hour shifts to go, then an early morning flight. The weekend is so very close.

Christmas Pics

I got our prints of our Christmas picture!!!

I have to say, I love how it turned out. It’s

just so us, with our Northwest lifestyle, and I so so SO love it.

We had a fun day. Paul and I got up and went to the grocery store, then took our new bikes out to Centennial Trail. I haven’t ridden a bike since I was too young to drive, and Paul has just started working out and getting in shape, so it was a challenge to hop on the bikes and ride off. We did two miles today and next time I’m sure we can do more. I love riding my bike!

I also attended both Zumba classes tonight, so my body’s a little stiff and sore. Soreness will lead to awesome muscle definition and weight loss, so I’m glad for it. I’m starting to be able to see changes, results, improvements. By summer I will be in the best shape of my life.

My poor feet are achy and I am dying for a pedicure. I haven’t had one since way before I got sick, and I am just not used to neglecting my feets like that. Normally I’d get a pedicure every payday. I’m going Saturday when I get off work, barring anything unexpected. I’d like to get my nails done too, as I just love having acrylic nails and they look so pretty. Then I look at my hair, and the dark roots I’m getting from not being in the sun to lighten up m hair, and I need to touch up my color. So many beauty treatments I require, so little time. I want all of it done before I go to California so that I’ll look extra cute in family pictures.
Although, without much primping at all, I think I look pretty great in our photo.

Trip To Leavenworth

I had a tough week,so today Paul seemed to set out to make it better. We got up and he loaded me into the Jeep and drove us along Highway 2 to Leavenworth, so that we could see snow. Leavenworth is a Bavarian town, and today it was decked out in Christmas decorations and there was a holiday festival going on. I even saw a guy dressed as a reindeer in Starbucks! We were starving and had a quick lunch at a little brewpub. After that we took a walk through the riverfront park. I loved walking through the park with Paul in the snow. It was beautiful and romantic and perfect.

On the way home, we did a little off roading (well, this time of year it’s off roading, since the dirt road we were driving on was covered in inches of snow), and found a place to park the Jeep and take a picture together that I can send out with Christmas cards. Tomorrow I need to get motivated, order the pictures and pick them up, buy cards, and get everything in the mail.

I’m going to California for four days, leaving in two weeks. My dad and I have been planning the trip, which falls during my mom’s birthday, since September. Today we finally broke the news to her. She was so excited, she started crying. Of course I don’t want my mom to cry, but it was great that she was so surprised. And even though I’ll miss Paul for those days, it’ll be great to see my family.

 

December 1st

I’ve been home from Zumba for just under two hours, and my abs are already starting to throb. Nancy focused on abs tonight, much to my excitement. I have hated the pooch on my stomach ever since it emerged, when I was an unexpecting preteen. I really think that if I keep up workouts like the one I did tonight, that pooch is history.

And, in non-workout related news….

The cats knocked four ornaments off the tree Monday night, and six while I was at work on Tuesday. Last night they knocked off another four, and tonight I only see one stray one on the floor. Considering we have five cats, including two two-year-olds and a one-year-old, this is pretty good in my view. For Friday, Saturday, and Darwin, this is their second Christmas with us. Angel and Oliver are older now and ought to know better than to get into the tree. Angel seems content just to nap beneath it and soak up the warmth put off from the lights, but Oliver is fascinated by the whole Christmas tree production. In past years he would grab branches in his mouth, pull them back, and let them go, so that they would slingshot ornaments into the wall and shatter them. This year he hasn’t pulled any such shenanigans, so maybe he’s growing up a bit finally.

So I think I’m completely in the swing of things for the holidays, even though I’m trying to avoid the overeating and bad food parts of the season. I’m hoping that next weekend Paul and I can take our Christmas picture. We didn’t do one last year, so I want an up-to-date one. I want to take the Jeep up to Highway 20 so we can take our photo in front of it, in the snow. Paul bought a wreath that he mounted around the license plate. It has silver ornaments on it that match his paint nicely. If that doesn’t work out, I’d also love a picture taken in Kerry Park, with the Space Needle in the background. That would be a good card photo for our first Christmas in Washington.

On Friday we’re having a Jeop Desk potluck. I haven’t decided if I want to try to make peppermint cupcakes or if I’ll stick to something simple, like brownies. I really want to make fudge, since it’s a Christmas tradiition in my family to have it, but I need more time than I’m going to have tomorrow evening to make that and let it set up. Maybe I’ll do it on Monday. I love baking and making holiday treats, and I don’t mind giving them away instead of eating them.

I ordered Christmas gifts for my family online today, before I went to work. Having my Christmas shopping done (for the most part, anyway) makes me feel even more ready for this holiday. My schedule for the next few weeks is so busy, I don’t know if I’ll get in everything I want to do. I definitely want to do my holiday baking and watch a couple of my favorite Christmas movies. I also need a pedicure desperately, and I want my nails done. I just hope I’ll find time for everything I want to do. Maybe I can go to the nail salon after work on Saturday. I’m off at four, which is nice and early.

I have a lot I want to get done and not a lot of time to do it in. But I can handle it, I’m sure.