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.