Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - A Year In Review...

January - My search for my new brother began. I spent my evenings glued to my computer and people finding websites trying to find out pieces of information that would lead me to him. It wasn't too long before one thing lead me to another and next thing I knew I had his address and was writing him a letter.

February - I heard back from my brother! What an amazing night that was. I will never forget calling my mom and saying "mom, I got an email from Randy" That conversation changed everything. It changed our relationship. It brought us so much closer.

March - I started this blog. I can't even remember what made me do it other than telling my story for my kids. Here I am all these months later and I have to be honest, it's for my kids... but for me too. It has brought me so much joy and peace.

April - I met my brother. My family and his family all had lunch together. It was the most surreal experience I had ever had. I sat across the table from him searching his face for similarities, trying to look for traces of me, my mom and Mike. We had a great time. It ended up being a four hour lunch! The kids had so much fun meeting their new cousins.
This was also the month that my mom's health took a horrible turn. She spent some time in the hospital and then came home a different woman. No longer able to care for herself or do the basic tasks I became her full time care giver, I was still working full time but it was the only choice I had so I did it, I am so glad I did. The next 6 weeks of my life were the most difficult I have ever had but I wouldn't change it for the world.

May - We lost my mom. Watching my mom die was so hard. Taking care of her was easy compared to seeing this woman so strong, so determined to take such a turn. My mom's health had not been good for many, many years that is why she lived with us. In my heart I feel that part of the reason she held on for so long is because she couldn't stand the fact that she had this secret she had kept from me and she was trying to figure out how to tell me. When she saw pictures of Randy, when she knew that all was ok, and that he didn't hate her and that he and I had a good relationship that is when she started to let go. She was a strong, brave woman who had been through so much and I am so grateful for the time that I had with her in my home, it was difficult at times but also brought us so much closer together.

June - No sooner had I gone back to work and it was time to say goodbye to the most perfect Kindergarten class in the world. There were only 7 of them but they were amazing. We had the best year. I used to say it was like a love fest in there every day! I hated to see those kids go, I hated to see those parents go! But they were getting bigger and in spite of my protests they had to move on to first grade. Man do I miss them.

July - This was the beginning of the end. Fourth of July weekend was our last weekend in Orange County. It was our last time at a hotel. It was when we found out about Chris's pay cut and when we realized that with that pay cut we would no longer be able to afford to live in our home. It was a horrible, stressful, sad month. I started to pull back completely from so many friends and family. Tired of telling our story, tired of always sounding like a downer, I just wanted to be at home with my family.

August - Chris's job search began. We really thought we would stay in California. Really started focusing on the Orange County area or Murietta/Temecula. We started to spend our evenings on the computer looking for jobs and homes.

September - Back to school. Gianna started 5th grade and Allison started 10th. It seems like this all just happened yesterday. They were both so happy to be going back to school. Summers in the desert can be brutal and boring, when your family is broke and trying to keep everything together it can be depressing too. My kids needed to get back to school just to get out of the house. We all started the new school year knowing that there was a big possibility that we weren't going to be in the desert for much longer. It made this time very bittersweet for my kids. By the end of the month Chris was already in Virginia interviewing for the job.

October- What a big month for the Britton family. Three birthdays and one daddy moving cross country. Allison turned 15 on October 3rd and the next day her dad left to move to Virginia. By leaving when he did Chris spent his own 40th birthday 3,000 miles away from his friends and family. He missed his youngest daughter's birthday and his oldest daughter being crowned homecoming princess. Sacrifices were big, tears were being shed every day but it was something we knew we had to do.

November - The frantic rush to get the house packed up and get me and the girls to Virginia began. I was working full time, getting the kids everywhere they needed to go and coordinating a cross country move by myself. I had never, ever been so stressed in my life. It is a time I would never want to go back to and an experience I wouldn't wish on anybody. Saying goodbye to all my friends and family in California was so difficult. Missing my husband was so difficult. Watching my girls have to say goodbye to everyone and everything they had ever known, excruciating.
On November 16th we arrived in Virginia and slowly but surely things started to get better. It was not as easy as I thought it would be, but we were doing it and we were doing it together.

December - Oh December. What a month this has been. The first Christmas without my mom. The first Christmas in Virginia, without all of our friends and family. No big Christmas Eve party as was tradition in our family forever. No money for Christmas gifts. Two kids who were missing their friends and family so much that it hurt their mommy to see it on their faces.
All I know is thank God for old friends. One of my best friends from high school lives about an hour away from us and she and her family came over for Christmas eve. I don't know what we would have done without them.

This year will go down as the hardest year in my life. I will never forget it. I have grown so much as a person. Changed so much as a mother and a wife. My family has become so much more important to me than ever before. They were always important, but when you go through the experiences we have it brings you closer, or it can tear you apart. I am so grateful that for us it was the former.
I miss my mom every single day. I miss my friends and family every single day. But I also wake up every day knowing that this is where we are supposed to be. Big things are going to happen for us here. We have so many angels watching over us and so many people here on earth rooting for us, the support has been amazing. I end this year a grateful woman. Grateful for my friends, my family and my life.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I wish you could see...

I love writing. I love telling my story. It has been so therapeutic for me during these trying times. The support that so many of you have given me has been wonderful. But sometimes I worry, sometimes I think I am too honest, I tell too much. I look back at some of my blog posts and I think 'hmm, I really sound so whiny, or I sound like I am a really unhappy, stressed person. I know that my honesty has helped some people, I have received numerous inbox messages and comments that have said as much, I have even been approached in person and told how much me telling my story has helped someone feel comfortable with their own story. That means the world to me. At the same time I have upset family members by telling too much, I have offended people with my words when I have simply tried to stick up for myself or explain myself. I hate that part of it. I don't like controversy, I am not comfortable with conflict.
 My favorite blogger in the world, the woman who inspired me is Kelle Hampton and what I have loved about her is her great attitude. She has the ability to look adversity in the face and turn it on its ass. I love that. I want to be that.
What I want people to know is that while my story is real, and the consequences of losing loved ones and of losing everything we worked so hard for is not always an easy story to tell nor has it been easy to go through, our lives are good. We are a happy family who laughs together every single day. Not a day goes by that one of us does not make the others laugh so hard that our stomachs hurt. We are a family who values communication and does their very best to always be honest and tell each other how we are feeling. We love each other so much and tell each other every single day that we do. When I sit down to write I lose myself in the rest of it. I probably don't convey well enough how good my life is. I am so lucky to have these two amazing daughters who are so acutely aware of everything we have been through, who are so understanding when every day the words "we can't afford it" come out of our mouths for one reason or another. They have such faith in their father and myself that these things are going to get better. Not one time since we told them that we were moving 3,000 miles away from their friends have they complained about it. They have had moments when they have been sad about it, no doubt but they haven't complained, they haven't made us feel bad. That to me is huge, it shows me that they have full confidence in their parents and that they know that a brighter, better future is in the works for us. I love that. I couldn't ask for more.
I am also so fortunate to have the marriage that I have. It's not perfect, it has it's ups and downs but for the most part my husband and I are always so in sync with each other. In almost 17 years of marriage we have been through so much and we stand by each other through all of it. Chris has been so supportive of me in spite of my inability to figure out what I want to be when I grow up... at 41 years old. He is also so supportive of this blog. I know I have said way more on here than he is comfortable with, I have literally let all my readers in on all of our most private issues. Sometimes I picture him reading what I have written and I cringe at the thought, hoping that he won't be upset. He never is, or if he is he doesn't say anything.
I just wanted to make sure that anyone who stumbles across my blog or has been following me since the beginning knows that here in the Britton home we are all good. We are looking adversity in the face and turning it on its ass.
The new year is almost here and I am more than positive that with it will come so many good things. I know that together this family is going to do great things, and while we are doing them we will laugh and do really stupid dances together. That is the what I want you to see on this blog in 2011. (well not the stupid dances thing, cause I have to tell you they are super embarrassing) but I want you to see that we are happy and strong. We love each other so much and we will stand together no matter what.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

We did it.

It's December 26th. Christmas has come and gone and we did it. We made it through our first Christmas without our traditions, without our family and in our new home. We did it without too much drama, without too many tears being shed. It wasn't that bad. It honestly felt so different that it kind of didn't even feel like Christmas and that is a good thing.

Christmas eve we had my girlfriend Debi (from high school, who lives an hour away) and her family over. It was so much fun. We spent Thanksgiving with them too and we are so grateful to have them here. She has three sons and they get along well with our girls. The five kids even walked down to Main St. (even though it was freezing out!) together. There was lots of food, lots of laughs and so much fun.
Trying to get this family of 5 to all be serious and smile at the same time is impossible! That is why we love them!
Having Debi and her family here has offered me so much comfort. In high school we were very best friends, spent so much time together. Went to all of our dances together, and did a little bit of "traveling together" nothing too far, just enough to really have a great bond. Debi moved out here to Virginia 16 years ago and kind of lost touch with all of us Californians. As soon as we saw each other it was as though no time has past at all. Her kids love that we have a history, they loved looking through my photo albums at all the pictures I had of her, it was fun.

Christmas day is always a mellow day for us, even when we were in California. We usually just have my in laws over for lunch, we make sandwiches and we open presents and then for dinner we would go to a Japanese restaurant. This year we were able to sleep in. (see there is an advantage to Santa Claus not coming!) We woke up and it was snowing, it was perfect. We watched Elf, and then took naps! It was a nice, cozy, lazy morning. When we woke up the snow had stopped and had actually melted. We had leftovers for lunch and then about 4:00 decided to go take a drive. We drove around and looked at neighborhoods that we might want to buy a home in some day. I was so happy to find areas that really felt like "us". Okay truth be told they felt like "California". It is a huge master planned community that was built by my favorite builder in California. It's a beautiful area and the homes were fabulous. It is good to have a goal and it is good to have something to work towards. In keeping with the them of "working" towards something I have decided that I have my bearings enough now to really start actively searching for a job. We need to get out of this hole and with me working too it will surely go faster. I look forward to finding something to being outside of the house and to meeting people. It's time.

As I sit here and type I keep looking outside to see if it's snowing yet, they have been calling for snow since yesterday at this time and still nothing. I see small flurries floating around but I am ready for a full on snow! We want to build a snowman.
I leave you with a couple more pictures of Christmas Eve. Next time you hear from me it will be all about the new year!! I can't wait. I am so ready for 2011. It is our time. It is time for all of us who were hit so hard by this recession, who have lost loved ones and have made major changes in their lives to have a great year. We are ready and waiting, bring it on!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's a bit creepy, but beautiful at the same time!

Okay, so this might seem a little weird and I don't know why but these things have fascinated me so today Allison and I took a photo tour...of cemeteries.

They are everywhere here. This one is my favorite it is in walking distance from our house. The history here is unbelievable. The headstones tell a story in and of themselves. They truly are beautiful. 


I can't tell you why they move me so much, but I will tell you driving through and walking through this cemetery is a truly peaceful experience for me. I am so intrigued with every headstone, all the names and dates. We even found someone that might be related to Chris's side of the family... who knows?


I will say though some of them have shown up in the most random places and that is one thing that we are still getting used to. Here is one in somebody's front yard... not kidding. Their house is to the left and then right there is a little cemetery. It's so strange. But it's kind of cool because you know it's been there forever.

Then there is this one... well it's the craziest one of all. It's right in the middle of a parking lot of a strip mall. Super Target, Giant Grocery, Taekwondo place, Chic fil a.... and a small cemetery. 






Then there is the first one we ever found. It's right next to a church. It's another one that when you walk through it the history is amazing. The dates on some of these are so old and you just wonder if their ancestors still live here, or if they know that their great, great grandpa is buried somewhere so cool.


The best part of this cemetery though is the story of when we saw it for the first time. We were driving by and we were all working on our southern accents at the time. Allison took one look at this place and said (in her best southern drawl) and I quote "well looky there, them people got a one way ticket straight up to heaven...a one way ticket. shoot." I don't know if I have ever laughed so hard at anything that child has said before. I mean it took me by surprise and her accent was killing me!
Oh the fun of cemetery tours. Oh the fun.
Hope you enjoyed my creepy little tour, it probably would have been a more appropriate post around Halloween but we didn't live here then.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letting go of old traditions and hopefully making some new ones.

When you grow up in an Italian-American home Christmas Eve is a big deal. It is when you do the most celebrating. It has always been my very favorite day of the year. As a little girl I couldn't wait to see all of my family. I waited anxiously for my grandparents to arrive, my cousins would come and some of my parents friends too. It was the one day of the year that we all got together. There was always wonderful food, so much love and laughing. It really was a special day. As I got older and my family started dwindling I took over the tradition and started hosting Christmas Eve at our house. We didn't have a lot of family to invite so we substituted our good friends. I would get up early in the morning and start cooking. I would make homemade meatballs and sauce and then lasagna. I never let anybody bring anything over, it was important to me that I cook everything, desserts included. It was how I showed my love. It is the Italian mom that is ingrained in me and I loved every minute of it. Sometimes I would get stressed and be cranky but I can tell you that even at the crankiest moments this was the most important day of the year to me. It was so important to me that my kids learn tradition. That even though we didn't have much family we could still have people around us that we loved and we could still keep the Sabella family tradition going.
The last couple of years we started a new tradition when we had moved into our new neighborhood. We started carolling. I think Allison came up with the idea, I am not sure. But it was fun and added a new element to our evening. We couldn't carry a tune in a bucket and there weren't always a lot of people to sing to but it was fun and we laughed so hard that it didn't matter.

This year things are different. This year we live in Virginia. Almost all of our friends and family live in California. This is the first Christmas without my mom. The first year that I will be 3,000 miles away from my brother and his family. It's difficult. It's different.
One of my best friends from high school lives here in VA. She and her family live about an hour away from us. We spent Thanksgiving with them at their house and I am so happy to say that today she texted me and said that they are coming to our house for Christmas Eve. I was so happy to get that text. Until that moment I really thought that this weekend was going to be a bust. I didn't know how we were going to get through it. For my kids entire lives all they have ever known is a big party on Christmas Eve. They have looked forward to it the same way I did when I was young. The idea of just the four of us sitting around was depressing. I was so not looking forward to it. Now we get to have friends over! I am so happy about it. It's going to be different, I am not making my usual fare. I am going super casual and just making lots of finger foods and maybe a casserole or two, totally going buffet style. I am so looking forward to the noise of having people in this house, to the idea of bringing two families together for an evening to share in what will hopefully become our new tradition. Who knows maybe by next year we will have some more friends and we will be able to invite even more people.
I will forever treasure the memories that we made in the desert with our friends and all of those Christmas Eve's together. I can guarantee that this year there will be some tears shed for all that we have left behind. As a matter of fact even just typing this I can't stop crying. But this is our new life. This is our second chance and our opportunity for a new beginning. I need to open my mind and my heart to these new experiences and traditions and that is exactly what I am going to do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's just a day.

That has what I have been telling myself. I'ts just another day. Christmas day is just another day. We are not celebrating this year. Not only are we still trying to recover financially from moving but we just aren't ready to celebrate yet. I am happy, I am content, I am relieved but not yet celebratory. If my kids were older, if it didn't hurt so bad that they aren't going to have presents to open this year, if their friends and family were going to be around for Christmas maybe I would feel different. But right now I just want the next two weeks to fly by. I am tired of logging on to facebook and seeing all the posts about the Christmas shopping, wrapping and preparing everyone is doing and not having anything to contribute to the conversation.
I have been missing my mom so much the last few days and missing all the planning and shopping we would do together for the holidays. My mom loved to shop. She loved to buy things for my kids and see how happy it would make them when she would get them what they had been hoping and wishing for.
Knowing that this Christmas is going to be different, knowing that it's going to be a little lonely and depressing makes me want to take our decorations down now so that we can pretend as though the holiday isn't even happening. But then I wonder if that would upset the kids more, to be so different, to be so open about not celebrating. I know that the presents aren't the reason for the season but let's be honest what mother doesn't want to give their child everything on their wish list? I know I do. I am doing my best to get through this. Doing everything I can to show my kids that this too will be ok. That we are strong and we will get through this as a family. We are so fortunate to have each other, so lucky to be able to be warm, safe and together during this time of year. There are so many families with loved ones serving our country in the Middle East, so many people who are dealing with health issues. We are lucky that money is our only issue.
This year I will do my best to get through the holidays. We will take the kids somewhere to volunteer together as a family and give our time to people less fortunate. It is something that I have been looking forward to and dreading at the same time. I know it will be humbling. I also know that it will be heartbreaking. I don't know if I am ready for the heartbreak part. I want to be a good example for my kids, I want them to know that even though we can't go buy gifts for each other or even for kids off the giving tree at the mall there are still things we can do to help.
This holiday season will be another lesson for our family, another experience that we will look back upon and say "remember that Christmas when..." The good news is it will not just be "remember that Christmas we had to skip.." We will also be able to say "remember our first Christmas in Virginia, when it snowed the week before Christmas and the kids got two snow days."
Things are going to be good here. Soon we will feel like this is home and very soon things will be better for us in other ways too. The kids are already making good friends, they are appreciating the weather, the small town and all it has to offer. Chris is loving his job and after attending his work Christmas party today I now know that they are loving him too. I am grateful for that. I am thankful for so much in my life, I really am. But I have learned that is possible to be thankful for what  you have and sad for what you don't at the same time. By missing our friends and family, by missing out on our normal traditions I am not saying that things aren't good and I am resentful, I am just saying that this is difficult.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tell Me Something Happy...

'Tell Me Something Happy'. That is the title of my very favorite children's book. It is the story of a little bunny named Willa and her big brother Willoughby. Every single time I read it (and I always would prepare my class the first time I read it) I cry. It is so sweet. In the story Willa is having a hard time falling asleep and Willoughby is doing his best to point out all the happy things around Willa so that she will feel comfortable and happy and be able to fall asleep. Sometimes I need to tell myself something happy. Sometimes I just feel like in spite of this move, and even though we are getting a fresh start, this is hard. It just is. It's new. It's different. It's so cold. It's so lonely. It's Christmas time and we are so beyond broke that I just want to take all the decorations down and blow the whole holiday off. We still have so many boxes and belongings stuck in our garage in our home in California that we need and we have no idea when or how we will get those things back and I realized last night that my Grandma's mandolin and my grandparents wedding pictures are there amongst our pots and pans, Chris's DVD collection and our other Christmas tree. It seems as though every day we realize one more thing that was left behind.

So today I tried to go to Starbucks and try something new. I took my laptop with me and attempted to log on to the Internet and get some writing done. I am attempting to write a memoir and I got some advice from a write friend of mine who said that I should go somewhere out of the house and write, it might make it feel more like a job I thought. Well I had assumed that I would be smart enough/savvy enough to be able to log on. I am not. I am challenged. I was too embarrassed to ask anybody so I typed a few pages on word and then I packed up and got out of there. On my way home I was thinking. I was thinking of things that are good here. Things that have made me happy. I decided I would go on a driving/walking tour of our little town here and take some pictures of things that make me happy and share them with you. So here we go...
First here is Main St. This street makes me really happy. It's so quaint. So Main St. USA. The architecture of the buildings, the pride of the town, the "local" feel of it all is just wonderful. I especially love the courthouse. It's the building in the lower left hand corner. To the right of it is the "old jail museum". We took a tour of it last week and it is really cool. Great stories, amazing treasures.

Next is the girls schools. I love the way Gianna's school is nestled in the hillside, which of course you can't really tell by this picture but it is. I also love the security of this school. I pull up in the morning and the principal or a teacher walks over, opens Gianna's door and says "good morning Gianna" and they take her out of my car and she has to walk straight into the building. It's wonderful, it's so personal and I love it.
Next is Allison's school. If you look close you will see that the building across the street is the Army National Guard. I don't know why but I found so much comfort in seeing this building so close to the high school. I mean I know this is silly, but hear me out... this is a small town, the idea of some student going Columbine at school one day is a very real thing. Not that it couldn't happen in Indio or anywhere else we looked to move, but for whatever reason her school reminded me of somewhere that this kind of thing could happen. And when those things do happen, who gets called? Yep, you guessed it, the National Guard. See? It all makes sense.
Then we have my favorite grocery store. It's Harris Teeter. We didn't have Harris Teeter in California. It's a wonderful store and everybody is super friendly. Allison and I have already made a couple friends in the Starbucks inside HT.
Finally I came home and took some pictures of things that make me happy around here. I am not loving this house if I am being honest. It's fine, it's a rental and it's getting the job done. But it just doesn't feel like home. I have stopped unpacking because I keep thinking 'why bother?' we are only going to be here 18 months and I am going to have to pack it up again. Last week the lady that used to live here, the last tenant came over to give me her forwarding address. She also had so much to say. She basically stood on the front porch and went off on how much she hated living here. She told me how expensive our heating bill would be, but the house would never get warm (which is totally true, as I write this my fingers are numb), how the dishwasher never works, how the backyard is a mess even in the spring time and no matter how many times I call property management they won't fix it. OH MY GOSH she would not stop. I already had figured most of these things out for myself but hearing her go on and on about them made it so much worse. Ever since that day I have been doing anything and everything to make me like the house more. I finished unpacking my scrapbook room and that helped a lot. You will notice one of the pictures is of our mailbox. I know it's weird but I love having a personal mailbox in front of the house. In California we always had a cluster box in our tract. In our last home the mailbox was down the street and it drove me nuts.
I also took a picture of my car. I love my car, I am so glad we bought it. It's old, it's got a ton of miles on it but I love it.
The Santa in this picture is one of my favorite Christmas decorations.
So there you have it. Happy things. Things that I am holding on to and counting on to make me feel good about this move. They are helping for sure and I know that soon we will figure out how to get our stuff here from Cali and even sooner I will be able to take these Christmas decorations down and celebrate the new year. Oh how I look forward to the New Year and all the promise it brings.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The latest from VA...

The last week has been bittersweet. We have had some good things happen and some sad things happen. What do you want first, the good or the bad? I think I will start with the sad things...

First, this last weekend Allison and her boyfriend broke up. I know it's silly, I am the parent, I shouldn't care. But honestly I wrote a whole stinking blog post about these two. They were so great together, so sweet and had so much fun. But the bottom line is he lives in California and Allison (thanks to her parents) now lives 3,000 miles away in Virginia. When your 15 years old 3,000 miles is such an obstacle that it feels like worlds away. They had decided in the beginning that they were going to try to do the long distance thing but it just wasn't working. She was very sad. Very sad but oh so strong and stoic that one. When I was her age and my boyfriend and I broke up.... oh boy. My mom seriously (and I am so not kidding here) had to give me Valium. Shut up. Really? I was such a basket case. He broke up with me, walked out my front door and I lost it. Oh so dramatic. Oh so ridiculous. It's times like these that Allison makes me so incredibly proud to be her mom. I don't know where she finds her strength. She is just a very logical person. She knew the break up was inevitable and she is dealing with it. Period.

The next thing isn't really sad, it just made me a little melancholy today. Today would have been my brother Mike's 48th birthday. He has been gone 22 years and I still miss him so much. I think about him every single day and do my best to get my kids to know him through me. I tell them stories, I show them pictures. I share his music with them. Anything and everything I can so that they feel like they knew their Uncle Mike. He was an amazing person and he deserves to be remembered that way.

So on with the good things....
I finally (I know it's only been a few weeks, but remember I am the one with a flair for the dramatic) got a car. We sold our car in California and were able to buy me a car here in Virginia. It's not a new car. It's an older car. Quite a bit older. It was kind of a humbling experience if I am being honest (which we all know that I am to a fault). We went to the Toyota used car dealership with a very small budget. It was a cash budget so that helped with negotiation a bit. It was the first time since I was 16 years old and my dad bought me a 1966 Mustang that I have ever purchased a used car. I don't mean that in a buying used cars is so beneath me kind of way, I just have to let you know that I REALLY enjoy getting new cars every few years and it is a habit that we had fallen into. This car that I bought is a 1998 Toyota 4 Runner with 174,000 miles on it. It's nice, it's in great shape and rides really well. Best part was it was in our budget and at the end of the day that is all that matters at this point. It has allowed me to drive my kids to school so that they don't have to wait out at the bus stop when it is 18 degrees in the morning. I went out today for the first time on my own and ventured out to Super Target... yes, I know that was so predictable that my inaugural trip would be to Target. I am so pleased to have this car. So humbled and proud to drive it. Chris came home tonight and the first thing I said to him was "I really love my 4 Runner!" He couldn't have been happier to hear it.

The other thing good thing is that we are so enjoying our time here. Some days are tough, I can't lie. I have cried a few times this week. Making friends for me has been a little harder than I expected. Being this far from most of my friends and all of my family is tough. But I will say that honestly from the bottom of my heart I am thinking positive, I am happy, I am putting my brave face on and sucking up any insecurities I have and doing my best to put myself out there to make friends. I am happy for my husband who still loves his job. I am thrilled that the girls are making friends and enjoying their new schools. I really do believe that this is the right place for us and am so looking forward to learning more about the area and exploring the neighboring counties and states.

So the only other thing I can think of that I haven't really talked about is my dogs and the ongoing, never ending tick problem we are having. Holy crap it is freaking me out. Poor Chris and the kids have to do ALL the tick removal, I will not even go near them. I can't. Tomorrow I am going to the vet or Petco or where ever it is that I need to go and get some tick prevention medicine. The ticks are more than I can handle. I am getting to the point where I don't even want to let the dogs go outside other than to relieve themselves and even then I put so much pressure on them to get back inside that they are probably both walking around with bladder infections!! The sad part about it is that these dogs couldn't be happier in the back yard. Every time they go out there they are like the Backyardagins on an adventure. They sniff everything and chase squirrels as though it is there mission in life. They are hysterical. I hate for them to lose the squirrel chasing time outside but something has got to be done about the tick situation!

So that is it for now. It's all good for the most part. A little heartbreak, but that is all life experience right? And all of those things that we go through only make us stronger and wiser, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Making Friends...

I have a love/hate relationship with making new friends. I love getting to know about people. I love hearing their stories. I love figuring out what we have in common. I hate that feeling of not knowing what to say, not wanting to say bad words in case they are not as foul mouthed as I am. I hate those uncomfortable lulls in conversation that are bound to happen no matter what. I hate wondering if they really like me and trying to figure out if I really like them.
So with all that being said at this point I would just like to have the opportunity to have any kind of relationship with making new friends.. be it love or be it hate. Making new friends when you are forty something is much harder to do than when you are young. And quite honestly I wasn't really all that good at it when I was young!
A week ago we were at home and unpacking when somebody came to the door with an invitation to a Christmas cookie exchange. Oh my gosh, I felt like Will Ferrell in Elf! I was so excited! I went to the store and bought every thing I could ever possibly need to make cookies... any kind of cookie. I purchased my supplies AND a little cookie cookbook. I am not the best baker so I needed some inspiration. Baking is a science. Baking requires patience, attention and being precise. I have none of those. I can cook, because when you cook you can make things up as you go along. Anyway, I know that baking is my weakness in the kitchen so I wanted to be prepared. I spent days trying to decide what cookies to make. Yesterday I spent the better part of the day and night in the kitchen with my cherry apron on just baking away. I made oatmeal butterscotch cookies and some sugar cookies called "angel crisps" (they didn't come out, they looked horrible so they went in the trash... see told you I was a bad baker!).
After I was done baking we went to the tree lighting ceremony on our Main St. It was absolutely perfect. It actually started snowing little snow flurries when Santa came out on the courthouse steps to light the tree. I mean for God's sake Norman Rockwell couldn't have painted it any better. The only thing that wasn't perfect was that I didn't know a soul. I walked around smiling (smiling's my favorite) trying so hard to make eye contact with any friendly face I saw. Everybody of course was so wrapped up in the event and clearly not there to make new friends so I wasn't even able to strike up a conversation. Whatever. I had a cookie exchange in the morning so I wasn't worried... new friends were right around the corner.
Or not. Today I decided at the last minute to make some chocolate dipped pretzel rods and wrap them up real cute to take to the hostess. I had also already made her fudge but let's be honest, I am the new chick, I need to try extra hard. So with cookies and hostess gifts in hand Gianna and I walked over to the exchange. The house was all decked out. It looked great. There were probably 35 or 40 women there. I again was doing the weird, frantic smiling thing (which looking back might be kinda creepy). I went and found the hostess, who by the way was super cute and really nice. I gave her the candy and rods and she directed me to the table where to put my goods and to the name tag table. Gianna and I put the name tags on and got in line to get our cookies. I had never been to one of these shin digs so I didn't have a clue as to how they worked so I just followed the leader. What happens is everyone lays out there goodies on the tables and then gets in line with some kind of bucket/container/platter thing to fill with various cookies. You walk around in a line and choose one cookie off of each plate until you have chosen the same number as you brought with you. Which I have to be honest here, I didn't count. I mean come on I was a nervous wreck trying to make a friend and eavesdropping on every conversation around me waiting for the right moment to pounce. The moment never came. Gianna and I made our selections. I put the lid on my Christmas-y bucket that I had filled and then we just kind of stood around awkwardly people watching and listening. About 5 or 10 minutes of this and I was just downright embarrassed. So we left. I thanked the hostess and got the hell out of dodge.
Oh and by the way.... apparently people here get dressed up for cookie exchanges.. who knew? Not me in my black yoga pants, thermal henley and white and pink pumas. I mean I was showered and makeup on and everything but I wasn't all fancy pants like the rest of them. Oh well. Now I know, next time I will get dressed up for cookie exchanging.
I was in a funk the rest of the day. Worrying that I wasn't ever going to make friends or fit in. This is a whole new state. A whole new coast. It's different. People are different. So I pouted and moped and watched Gianna play outside with her new friend. Then I sucked it up, got over it and told Chris that I wanted to go to sushi for dinner. When we were getting ready to go I walked down to get Gianna from her new friend's house and guess what!!??? I met her mom and I think she might be my new friend! She's super nice, our kids are the same age, in the same class even AND she is a Kindergarten teacher! We have things in common! I am going to try not to stalk her or come on too strong but I think she might be the one. I know I could be jumping the gun here but who knows I mean I am the woman who agreed to marry her husband after only 30 days... I have good instinct.
I will keep you all posted on the latest as it happens. Even if it's totally embarrassing.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's been a while!

Part 1

So this is going to be a 2 part post. The first part is like a virtual tour of sorts of our new home in Virginia. When Chris moved here before us it drove me crazy that he didn't take more pictures. I had to imagine what everything looked like because he wasn't taking many pictures. I know that some of my friends and family might be feeling the same way so here we go...
the entry way...


This is the front door (obviously). I have mixed feelings about the large window in the front door. It's kind of an invasion of privacy if you ask me... but whatever, I mean if the neighbors don't want to see me dancing they can look away right?
Hmm... here is the kitchen. Not the nicest kitchen. But it's cozy. 
Family room. My favorite.
I love this room. It's light and bright and it looks out to the street so that we can stalk our neighbors. When they come outside to do something we casually walk outside as though it's a coincidence that we are out there at the same time and then we strike up a conversation! See... we are going to make friends in no time!
Dining room. Again, light and bright and it's perfect for the dogs to look out the window and watch the squirrels outside!

This room deserves a drum roll. It's not pretty. It's functional! It's the mudroom!!! I love it!

 So that is it for now. I figured I better put some pictures up before Christmas explodes in here and the house looks totally different.

Oh and before I move onto part 2 I must include one picture of the dogs sitting on the window seat in the dining room. It's where they watch the squirrels.
Part 2:

We have been in VA for almost 2 weeks now and in the house for 1. It's still so surreal. I am still finding myself looking around going 'oh my God, I live here'. I moved 3,000 miles away from everything I have ever known. It's the most adventurous, most risk taking thing I have ever done. Growing up we never even considered living anywhere but California. My father would have never even entertained the idea of moving. My mom probably wouldn't have either. They needed to be near their friends and family. They would be shocked if they knew that this is where we ended up. So many times during the last 2 weeks it has bothered me that they don't know that I am here. I think 'what if they can't find me', but then something will happen and I will think 'they know'. Just yesterday Chris asked me if the kids' schools were going to need their social security #'s. I kind of blew him off because I didn't want to look for them, wasn't sure where they were. We had been gone for most of the day and I was tired. I walked into the mud room to get my mom's Rolodex out so that I could call some of her friends and let them know that we were here and all was good. I opened that little Rolodex box and right in the front in my mom's handwriting were my kids social security numbers. I don't even know why she had them, but she did and they were right where I needed them to be. I said out loud "wow, thanks mom". I felt so comforted.
Another thing that has brought me so much comfort is having my family's things around me. I am not one to keep pictures around of my deceased relatives. I feel like if I would walk in my house and think 'I see dead people', plus it's not the best conversation starter. I mean can you imagine, I invite new friends over to play bunco and they see a picture of my brother Mike on the wall and they say 'wow, you brother is good looking, is he single?' me-"um no, he died". Total mood killer. So instead I choose to have things that remind me of them around me. We have actually used several pieces of my mom's furniture,








my mom's favorite piece of furniture.

her artwork and some of her knick knacks to decorate. In my scrapbook room (when it is finished) Mike's guitar will hang on the wall in a shadow box, behind the guitar is a collage of all of his handwritten lyrics and music. On the shelf in the family room is my grandpa's fire Captain hat from the Vernon fire dept.

Grandpa Chico's hat.
 This hat is one of my most prized possessions. I have my Grandma Nina's china all neatly stacked in my china cabinet. Just looking at it takes me back to her dining room and all the yummy food she served on it.
These things have made me feel so much better. Made me feel like those who loved me aren't so far away.
Grandma's china.

This week is going to be a big week for us. The girls start school. I am so anxious for them to make new friends. I think we have sold my car in California so that means that we can buy me one out here. Having my own car will mean that I will be able to get a job. I have mixed feelings about that. I mean I know that I need to get one so that financially we can catch up for this bank account draining move we just made, but at the same time I really want to be able to be here for my kids, I want to be involved at their schools. I do know that when I get a job it will help me make some new friends too though and that is a good thing. I just am not sure what kind of job I want. I don't think that I want to work at a pre-school again. I love the kids and everything but my patience has run thin over the years and they are much cuter when they are in small groups! I am going to start looking around and see what kinds of jobs are out there. Who knows maybe this will be the place where I really find my true calling. Wouldn't that be great!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's getting better

So things are very quickly getting better. I mean we have only been here 4 days and I can honestly say that I am going to like it here. Tomorrow the movers will come with our stuff and that will for sure make it even that much better. We have gone by the house we will be moving into a few times and each time we go there I feel a little better. I am starting to picture where we are going to put things. I am liking the house more and more each time we go.

Last night we went to a football game in another county. One of my very best friends from high school lives a county or two over, about 45 minutes away and her son plays football. It was so much fun. It was freezing, but we had a blast. It is so comforting to have her here. We have been separated by many years and many miles but it as if we haven't missed a day. She has lived here for 16 years so she is my area expert!

Today we went to DC! That was exciting. I mean I have lived a very sheltered life and going to DC just to have lunch, is a pretty cool thing. Living that close to so many cool monuments and so much history is awesome. I love that my kids will experience these things while they are still young. They will learn so much about American history by living here.

I can't remember if I have ever shared the story of how we got here. I may have, but it's a good one so I am going to share again. So as many people know about 11 months ago I found out about a brother I never knew that I had. My mom had a son with her first husband and failed to tell me for 40 years. When I finally found out I couldn't wait to find him. I found him, it went great and we now have a good relationship. If you haven't read the story you can go here. Anyway, when Chris started looking for a job we were really concentrating on North Carolina and Texas, for whatever reason those two areas appealed to us. I have never been to either state so I honestly had no idea what they were like. I was really just going by things I have read. So I was telling my new brother (Randy) about our search and he said to me "hmm, have you ever considered Virginia?, it's my favorite state, you should check it out". Well as the little sister I have always listened to my big brothers, even IF I had just met them! So I said to Chris 'Randy really likes Virginia, we should look into it' so Chris went online google searched "custom cabinets" in Virginia and this company came up. They weren't hiring. It wasn't a job search website, he simply did a google search. He sent them his resume to them and within a week they called and offered to fly him out for an interview. This was after he had sent his resume to dozens and dozens of places that were hiring. He had already had several offers but they were in places that didn't really appeal to us (really me). So how crazy is that, all that time searching in other states, not knowing where we would end up and Randy made a simple suggestion and now here we are! If that isn't divine intervention I don't know what is. A year ago I didn't even know Randy existed. A year ago my mom was still alive and we were just plugging along in the desert with absolutely no intentions of moving anytime soon. Now here we are 3,000 miles away. Crazy. Oh and one more crazy thing for those of you who don't know, six months after I found out about Randy, after we had met and my mom knew that he didn't hate her and he had grown into a wonderful, smart, happy, man she passed away. It was like she was waiting for that final piece of her puzzle. Then it got even crazier, two weeks after my mom died Randy's dad died. Out of the blue, he was gone too. So had I not found out about him when I did I don't know that I ever would have because the two people that had kept the secret for so long were both gone. My life has had some crazy twists and turns in the last year or two and it has been stressful at times but at other times it has been wonderful. I am so thankful for all the craziness, it makes me appreciate all the rest!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is not as easy as I had pictured it...

I am trying very hard to stay positive. Trying so much to be a trooper. I wanted this. I needed this change so bad. But now that I am here, it's hard. It's different. I am stressed. My kid is sad. I want it to be the right thing. I want this to be the place for us. I really, truly do. I so want to know that we made the right decision. But it's going to take a while before I know it's right.
The movers are going to be here in a few days with our stuff, I am hoping that will help. We are so over on our estimate from them and we are completely freaking out about that. We are over by 5,000 pounds. Five thousand pounds of stuff. Really? I mean come on, I purged. I tossed. I gave away. and still 5,000 pounds more than they estimated. Oh and the other thing? There is still stuff in our house that didn't fit on the truck and my car is still in California and we have absolutely no idea when we are going to be able to get this stuff.
The house we are leasing here is way smaller than our house in California, not just smaller square footage wise, smaller in room size, ceiling height, etc... this means our stuff isn't going to even begin to be able to fit. Leasing a house online, sight unseen wasn't the best idea. We are living and learning for sure.
I know we will get through this. I know moving is stressful. I hope that this part of it ends soon. I think that I was thinking that when I got off the plane all of my anxiety and second guessing would go away. Not so much. I think it's worse.
I hate writing posts that sound all negative and whiney. I hate facebook status's that are all negative and whiney too. But here I am whining like a 3 year old.
I am going to bed now and I am going to wake up with a new attitude. I am going to do my best to stay positive and to keep my chin up. I will let you all know how that works out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"I live on the east coast now"

"I live on the east coast now" that is exactly what I said as the plane was landing tonight. The pilot had just announced that we were here and that was what came to my mind. It's crazy. It's surreal and it is so exciting too. While I was on the plane I wrote my blog post, here it is...

Well here we are on the plane. One hour away from our final destination. Our new lives in Virginia. I haven't been able to write a post in a while because, well because I have been busy. I have been packing the final pieces and have been busy trying to not have a nervous breakdown. Moving is stressful. Moving cross country without my husband there to help me almost sent me over the edge!
Here is the story of our last few days in California. (I can't wait to look back on it in a year or so and think 'wow, I don't remember it being that crazy'.
So on Friday morning at 9 am the movers showed up. They were a super nice crew who didn't mess around. They got right to work. They worked and worked until 11:30 pm. Yes, we really have that much stuff. Believe me I have questioned why we have that much stuff 100 times during the last month when we were packing. When they were done they called me and said "umm, so all of your stuff doesn't fit on the truck." WHAT??? They assured me that it happens ALL the time and it's not that big of a deal and that they would have another truck come out on Monday. Oh and one more thing "your over on your weight estimate, probably by like 2,000 pounds." Great. But honestly I wasn't super surprised by the 2,000 pounds, this company has you take your own inventory online and it truly is just an estimate of your stuff because you don't know how many boxes you have until everything is packed and ready to go. So I clearly underestimated. We were not happy about the overage but what were we going to do, they had all of our stuff. Monday came and I waited to hear from the company to find out what time they were going to be there to pick up the rest. I had called them several times but they were not calling me back. When I finally heard from them at 2:30 pm they told me that another truck was not coming that day, as a matter of fact it would be at least 3 days until they could get another truck there and it would be another month before they would have our stuff to us in Virginia. Oh and P.S. the overage was not 2,000 pounds... it was actually 5,000 pounds. I almost passed out. That means that our bill just went up by $3,000 and we didn't even have all of our stuff on the truck yet. To say that I freaked out is an understatement. I was in complete crisis mode. I might have even rolled up into the fetal position at one point. (ok so maybe not that bad but almost).
I really had no idea how in the world I was going to get on the plane the next day (today) and fly to Virinig knowing that our move was not complete. Knowing that the house was still a mid move disaster. There was still so much to do. All I could do was cry.
Well the good news is that I have an amazing group of friends. They just rallied around and totally took care of us. Friends were cleaning out the fridge, taking out the trash, organizing things, all while I stood there trying not to have a complete nervous breakdown. My in-laws came over and did so much too. It was amazing. These people were truly my saving grace. It was humbling and overwhelming to have all these people in my house doing all of this for me. I was grateful but at the same time somewhat embarassed. You know how some people have a hard time accepting compliments, I have a really hard time accepting help. I automatically always say "no, it's ok" or "hmm, I can't think of anything else that needs to be done" when people offer help.
I have spent the last 8 or 10 months of my life pushing people away. Shutting them out. In the process I may have lost some people that were really important to me. People whom I have inadvertantely hurt. I really truly didn't mean to. During my last week in California I have learned a huge life lesson. I have learned to let people in. I have spent my entire life thinking that people didn't like me. (I do not mean this in a martyr type way, I really truly have this weird hang up). Teachers even commented about it on my report cards in elementary school. Lately I have realized that I am loved. I have a wonderful group of friends and I need to rely on them more often.

So that was as far as the post got on the plane. The flight went well. It actually went great, it was the first time that I have flown that I didn't have some anxiety. I was calm and peaceful the whole time. I think it went so well because I am so ready for this. So excited to start this new chapter. Not because I wanted to get away from my friends and family on the west coast but because I think our family is going to thrive here. Because I am pretty sure that this is where we belong for now. I will never say never about moving back to the west coast, but for now we are going to make this work. Not just make it work but we are going to make it totally fabulous!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Last days...

Today was our last day, my last day at work and the kids last day at school. To say that it was hard is an understatement. It is the part of this journey that I hadn't given a whole lot of thought too. It was probably a sub conscious move on my part, only wanting to think about what lies ahead in our new lives, not wanting to think about saying goodbye.
The first time I started working at Tot Stop I was a young girl living at home with my parents. I wanted that job so bad I had called the owners and begged them like 3 different times for the job. I knew it was the right fit, I knew that school was where I belonged. Growing up I wasn't a super confident person. When I started teaching preschool at 19 years old it became the very first thing that I did where I had utter and complete confidence in myself. I knew I could do it. I knew I was a good teacher. I had a passion for it and I loved those kids so much.
They finally hired me. I actually have a journal I kept at that time and the entry from my first day at work says "I started a new job today at Tot Stop. I am really going to love it there"
That school has seen me through so much. It is where I was working when my dad died and it was also where I was working 18 years later when my mom died.
I haven't worked there for the whole 19 years, I have left a couple of different times for several years in between. The first time I left to stay home and run a home day care (yea, that was a really bad idea) and the second time I left to pursue something new, (long story, whole different post). But it has been a place where I could always go back to. My connection to this school runs deep. My memories are vast. The first class I ever taught are all 21 and 22 years old now. (did I just say that?) This school has been such a comfort zone for me.
I have made so many friends over the years at this place, other teachers, parents, and even the kids.
I am not the same person as I was in the beginning for sure. I mean for one, I have obviously gotten older, thus (lets hope) wiser. I have had a lot of life happen to me since that day in 1992 when I walked through those doors.
I have lost both parents, met and married my husband, had two kids, and bought and sold 3 houses. Those are the big things that have happened to me in those 19 years. There have also been so many little things. I had the chicken pox working there, I was 23 years old and it was NOT pretty. I took a class on a field trip and ran out of gas in my car with 3 kids in my car. I had the worst morning sickness ever through my pregnancy with Allison and puked every single day in my classroom. I watched both of my own kids go all the way through this school. They both graduated from the same Kindergarten class that I have been teaching for the last 22 months.
Saying goodbye to the teachers, students and parents wasn't easy, although I did a really good job holding it together. The staff had an awesome pot luck lunch for me with 3 chocolate cakes for dessert! I mean come on what is better than that!
I hope that some of the parents keep in touch, I will miss them. They were all so unbelievably supportive and understanding when I told them I was leaving. I am sure I will keep in touch with the staff, the owner is a really good friend of mine so that will help keep the connection.
Today was also the day that my girls had to say goodbye at their schools. This is only the second year that Gianna has been going to her school. She has loved it, she has made some great friends and everything but obviously her connections aren't the same. It was still hard to say goodbye but not nearly as hard as it was for Allison. Gianna's biggest struggle right now is not saying goodbye, it's missing her daddy. She has missed him so much and is so anxious to get to the other side of this journey.
Allison saying goodbye was a whole different story. When Allison started high school last year as a freshman we decided that she would go to the brand new high school that had just been built by our new house. It was just opening and it was only going to have two classes, as in it wasn't going to have any juniors or seniors. It was a beautiful campus, it was only going to have 650 students and it was right around the corner from our house. No brainer, right? Well the only problem was that all of the friends that she had grown up with literally since Tot Stop were going to La Quinta high, the school that was by our old house. All of her friends but one of her very best friends, Chandler, she was going to Shadow Hills too. Making the decision to go to SHHS wasn't an easy  one, it's beautiful and it's brand new but starting a new school with only one friend is kind of hard. It has turned out to be the best decision we could have made. Allison has loved her school. She has made some friends that I know she will be friends with for the rest of her life. I love these girls. She also has her boyfriend that is awesome and we all love so much. Allison is captain of her cheer team, and she loves those girls to pieces. I don't know if she will ever find another group of girls that she gets along with so well. These kids are amazing. Chris and I have also grown very attached to them, we are even having a really hard time saying goodbye.
Today she said goodbye to them at school, but tomorrow they are having a party for her. I am sure the tears will be flowing. I just wish we could take them with us. Hopefully we will have lots of visitors in Virginia this summer!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Old Friends and Good Times

This weekend was one of those weekends that you plan and look forward to for months. We (my girls and I) had some awesome plans for Saturday and Sunday and we anxiously waited for the weekend to come all week.
Saturday morning we got up, got ready and headed out of town. We were going to spend the weekend in Long Beach with my old friends. Some of these friends were from elementary school others were from middle school and a couple from high school. But lets be honest, I am not a spring chicken so even with the friends from high school I am still talking a 25 year history. That? is a very long time. I am somebody who has always cherished those friendships. I know some people who once they leave high school they never looked back and they really don't have a connection with anyone they grew up with. That is so not me. My connection with these people runs deep. My need to stay connected is important. I mean come on these people saw me through my awkward stages, (some of them saw more awkward stages than I care to remember!) and they have stayed loyal. If you read my blog then you know how important loyalty is to me. Last night I felt so much love in this room at the Yard House. So many memories. So much time has passed and yet it is like we never left each other.
These people all came together to say goodbye to me. They trekked in from all over Orange County and the Inland Empire so that we could all spend some time together before I left for Virginia. How awesome is that.
I am not one to like a lot of attention, I hate surprise parties, I didn't want to walk down the aisle at my wedding, I am not a fan of the "all eyes on me" events. But last night was special. Last night I will not forget. I love these girls (and few guys too!) that came to see me off. They are so supportive and so good to me I can't even explain it.

Of course with all things that involve the Britton family the evening did not end without a little bit of drama. At about 10:15 Allison called me from the hotel where she, her girlfriend and Gianna were all watching movies and hanging out in the room and said that our neighbor that was coming over to our house to let the dogs into the casita for the night had just left our house and our dogs were both gone. I full on freaked out. Yes I am a dog lover. I love my dogs like one of those crazy people who talks to them (and maybe sings them songs sometimes, whatever, don't judge) so as soon as she called I didn't hesitate for one second and said "well then we are going home right now" I cried, I called Chris, in spite of the fact that it was 1:30 in the morning his time. He was bummed, he was worried about the dogs but also bummed that my weekend that I had planning for so long was being cut short. He knows how crazy things have been and didn't want me to miss out on any fun. I wasn't even thinking of anything else, all I could think about was my little dog's faces, how dark it is out here in the desert and how they were probably lost and afraid... or worse. One of my very closest friends that I have ever had, (she is really more like a sister to me) took me back to the hotel where my girls were waiting in the lobby, bags in hand, wearing their pajamas and the saddest little faces I had ever seen. They were so bummed too. They love their dogs too and they were so worried. We hopped in my car and headed home. My in-laws, our neighbor and my girlfriend were all over in my neighborhood driving around looking for the dogs. It gave me such a peace of mind knowing that even though it was going to be 2 hours before I got home that somebody was looking for them.
About an hour into the trip my friend Lori offered to go into my house and listen to the answering machine to see if anybody had called to say they had found them. She got the key from our neighbor, went upstairs with Allison talking her through the whole process and while I was driving I am listening to their conversation and Allison is telling Lori how to play back the messages and all of a sudden Allison started flapping her arms and saying "someone has them, someone has them!!!" Oh my gosh the relief. The sheer relief was crazy. At about the same time the people actually came to the door with the dogs. They were safe and home. Thank God.

So our weekend got cut a little short. It's OK. Our dogs are that important to us. We love them and I know I wouldn't have been any fun to be around if we would have stayed and not known where they were. We are going to continue with the rest of our plans today in spite of being all the way home. We are driving back out of town this afternoon to go spend some time with my brother Danny and his family for the last time before we leave. I am looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time. I know there will be tears. (mine of course, Danny doesn't cry) and I know it's going to be one of the hardest goodbye's I have to say. But we will have fun, we will laugh and make fun of each other. It's just how we roll.

Well this has been a super long post and now I am going to go pack. Thank you so much to all of you who were there last night and that follow this blog. You are amazingly supportive and such good friends and I will cherish you always, even from 3,000 miles away! xoxo

Thursday, November 4, 2010

packing and pity.

There hasn't been much for me to say lately. I have been busy packing, working and getting ready for the move. We leave in 12 days, well really more like 11 since today is really over.
I am so excited. I have to be honest though, I am a little nervous too. As much as I want to move, as badly as we need this fresh start I am nervous. California is all I have ever known. It is my comfort zone. It is where my life used to be "normal". I can't wait to get to know Virginia and the east coast. To be able to go to new places and experience a different life. I think it will be great but deep down inside I know it's going to have it's difficult moments. I know that it will take a while to make it feel like home.
My kids are excited. They are looking forward to seeing their dad. My husband has been gone for a little over a month now and we sure miss him. Video chat is great but it's still not the same thing. I am very lucky that I have a great husband and such amazing kids. I don't know what I would do without them.

So I have had something on my mind for several days now. A couple of weeks ago I had some controversy, and a falling out with a family member. During the back and forth he made a comment to me that has stuck with me and resonated over and over again. It's something that I want to clear up for everyone and make sure that anybody ever reading my blog knows. I never, ever want anyone to "feel sorry" for me. I hate pity. I despise that feeling of being pitied. I do not tell my story because I want people to feel sorry for me. I tell my story because it gives me comfort, because I am an open book and I love to share and because I want my kids to be able to read it later on. He made that comment after reading my blog. I instantly thought 'I hope to God that is not what people think'. If anything I hope that somebody reading my blog would take away from it that I am lucky. That I am strong. That I see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that together my family is going to make it through to the other side.
I have said so many times that dealing with all of the death and loss that I have had is difficult, but at the same time I am so grateful for all of the wonderful relationships I have had in the first place. I am so glad that I had such a great family. So many people have been through so much worse than me and didn't have a loving, supportive family to start with.
Do I miss my family and wish they were here? Absolutely. Do I get sad sometimes and throw my own pity parties for myself? For sure. But never, ever would I want anybody to pity me or feel sorry for me. That is not how I roll.
I have never for a second doubted who I am or what I stand for, I have made that clear many times on my blog. But if any reader ever got the wrong impression I just wanted to clear it up for them.
After my conversation with him was over I thought about all the amazing support that I have had about my blog. I thought about how many people have written me emails and sent me messages on facebook telling me that I have helped them or that they can so relate to what I write about. That is what is important to me. That is why I write and why I will continue to share my story. Hopefully in the future there won't be anymore sad stories to tell anyway so the idea of me wanting people to feel sorry for me will just be silly.
Thank you to all of you who read, who support and who comment. It is like free therapy to me and you have gotten me through some really tough times. xoxoxo

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Holidays are Coming!

The holidays are just around the corner. As soon as October starts to wind down every year I start anticipating the holiday season. I am expecting this year's holiday season to be very different for our family. For one, we will be living 3,000 miles away. We will be getting to know new friends, and it will be the first holiday season without my mom. The funny thing is I remember last year at Christmas my mom said "well this is probably my last Christmas" and I remember thinking 'hmm, she says this every year but I think she might be right this year'. Well unfortunately she was right and the last 5 1/2 months without her have been really difficult but I have a feeling that the holidays will be even more difficult.
For many years I have always been big on entertaining, especially around this time of year. Nothing made me happier than hosting a house full of people. I loved the planning, cooking, and preparing. It made me feel like my Grandma. She was always the one who cooked all day and she did it because she truly enjoyed it. My mom did it too but it was different, she did it because she had to. She was married into this family and it was expected of her when it was her turn. It stressed her out, and she didn't have the same relaxed, easy feeling that my Grandma did.
Nobody has ever expected me to do it. I just did it because it made me happy. Now that is not to say that I haven't had my share of stressful breakdowns in the middle of planning, preparing and cooking, but for the most part I always have enjoyed it. I did it because it gave me such pleasure to feed people and make them happy. I loved to make the old family recipes and I loved finding the new recipes and mixing them in too.
A few years ago things started changing. I had pulled back socially from so many. Our big Christmas Eve dinners had dwindled down to just a few friends. The way we had done things before had become so costly and I had just become a different person. I was sad, angry and depressed. I hated that things had changed, I just didn't know how to make things better.
We are moving to Virginia in 19 days. It will be 9 days before Thanksgiving. I am so looking forward to this fresh start and this opportunity to make things good again for our holiday season. I have already promised my girlfriend Debi that I will cook Thanksgiving dinner. I am hoping that her family and at least one other family will join us for Christmas Eve (it's by far my favorite holiday and a huge Italian tradition to celebrate on Christmas Eve). It is so strange to think that we will not be here this year. To think that my mom won't be here. To imagine what it is going to be like to shop, plan and prepare in a completely new state, on the other side of the country, without a chance of us spending the holiday season with our friends and family here in California. It makes me a little sad for sure. I am sure there will be moments that will be difficult. I am also sure that we will be starting new traditions and that soon we will get used to our new surroundings and we will be fine. I haven't sent out Christmas cards for the last 2 years because I just felt that I didn't have much to say and I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. This year I can't wait to take a family picture of us in our new home state. I am already picturing what it will look like and planning what we will wear. I can't wait!

I just said to Chris yesterday, "if someone would have said to me a year ago, 'one year from now you will be getting ready to move to Virginia' I would have thought they were crazy, what we are about to do is so far from anything I ever pictured. It is so far from my comfort zone. The funny thing is at the same time it feels so right... Those 19 days better hurry up because I am so ready!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thank God that the time is flying by!

What a great week we had here at the Britton house. Time seemed to just fly. I am so glad it did because I am missing my husband something awful. I texted him yesterday and said that I thought this time apart might have been a good thing for us because now we will never question our love for each other since being apart is really hard and we miss each other so much. He said "uh.. I wasn't questioning it before.. is there something you want to tell me?" Which of course I knew would be his answer. I never was questioning it but I will be honest, I didn't know it would be this hard. I think I was just caught up in the logistics of everything and worried about keeping up with my schedule that I wasn't thinking about how difficult it would be to be away from my husband for 7 weeks. Well let me just say it really stinks. Today is the first day that I haven't cried at some point, I don't mean that I am walking around sobbing or anything but at different times during the day I have for sure teared up... and maybe sobbed a few times too.
Yesterday we had good news.. twice and I think because of that it made today so much more tolerable and enjoyable. Oh and maybe the fact that I had a pedicure didn't hurt either! First we found out that the house we are leasing is going to be ready much sooner than we had thought, the current tenants are moving out this weekend which means we can move in as soon as we want. That takes a huge weight off our shoulders because as it was before we were going to have to spend the 11 days until the house was ready in the basement that Chris is renting, we would have made it work but the idea of actually being able to move into the house we will be living in is so much better. The other piece of good news was that we are going to leave 3 days sooner than we had planned. Which of course doesn't sound like a big deal but 3 days is a big deal when you are missing your guy and your kids are missing their daddy.
Since the day that Chris left my girls and I have been having the never ending slumber party. We all 3 sleep in my room. We dragged in the mattress from the trundle in Gianna's room and put it on the floor in front of my bed so that one of them could sleep with me and the other one could sleep in the trundle. It's been a lot of fun and has helped us all kind of cope with the whole situation. We spend the last hour or so of our evening chatting, laughing, and sometimes crying together. It's been a really good bonding time for us and a time that I hope we will all remember.
This whole experience is still a little surreal to me. In the middle of the night I have to get up to let the dogs out and every single night as I walk back up the stairs in the dark house I look around at all the boxes and think 'oh my God this is really happening, we are seriously moving across the country'.
This weekend my goal is to pack up the rest of my office, my bedroom and the laundry room. We will see if I get it all accomplished... As of today we have 25 days until we get on that plane, 25 days to get everything we own into boxes and to say our goodbyes. Twenty five days left in California... isn't that just crazy?!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lonely

I have written about being lonely before. I have felt lonely often. I have created a very lonely world for myself and I really, truly have no one to blame but myself. I know this and yet here I sit thinking 'holy crap this sucks, I hate being so lonely'.
When our family began going through the financial crisis that we have been enduring over the last three years I pushed many people away. I isolated myself because I felt that our situation made friends and some family members uncomfortable. I felt that they didn't know what to say, that they might think we were going to ask them for money (which for the record we have not asked anyone for money or any kind of help, so nobody needs to be worried about being hit up). I made these decisions for our family and they weren't easy, they weren't taken lightly. When my mom died 5 months ago I started to REALLY feel the consequences of what I had done, really understanding how serious my decision was. I realized that my phone still wasn't ringing, that nobody was really here to help me through it. I was the one to blame, not them. I knew I had done it. I had hurt people's feelings by pushing them away, by turning down their offers of dinner or being in their bunco group. But I just didn't want to do it, I didn't want to be a part of their world. I wanted to be alone with my family.
So here we are 3 years into it, things are starting to turn around for us finally. Chris has an awesome new job and he loves it. The money is so much better, the situation is wonderful and he sounds happier than I have heard him in years. But here I am. So flippin lonely I want to scream. Chris's job is 3,000 miles away. My husband now lives in Virginia and here I sit in California. I know it's only temporary and I know the time will fly but I will tell you that right now, in this minute the time is crawling by and it feels as if November 19th will never, ever get here.
The good thing is I have two amazing daughters who are getting me through this every day. Two girls that miss their daddy so much that they cry right along with me almost every day. We are trying our hardest to not be sad and to not miss him but it seems impossible.
Before anybody says anything like "well it could be worse" Let me just say, I know it could be worse. I am well aware of how lucky we are to have such a strong family and a strong marriage. I have been thinking about other women I know tonight who have been through so much worse and they survived. I was thinking of my lifelong friend Deanna who lost her husband 7 years ago and has been raising her 4 kids by herself. I think of how amazing she is for doing such an incredible job. I think about my mom losing my dad at 56 years old, how she must have felt like she had so much time ahead of her to be alone. I remember how lonely she was and how hard it was for her. I remember that I didn't do much to make it better either. I have a friend on facebook whose husband travels for a living and she has 3 kids and works full time and she does it by herself all the time, I know she must be lonely and I know it has to be hard, but by God she does it and her kids seem to be doing just fine. It's these women that are getting me through this. It's knowing that if they can do it I can too.
Tonight both of my girls are gone and I have been sitting here by myself throwing a pity party. I keep thinking about how much better it is going to be when we get to Virginia and we are all together. I keep envisioning how we are all going to be living in a different house, the girls are going to new schools, making new friends. It all makes me smile and helps to make me feel a little less lonely. I hope that tonight when I go to bed that I dream about our new life. I am so ready for it to begin.