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A Day for Memories and Grief

December 10, 2012

Today is the 22nd anniversary of my father’s death.  This March is the 8th anniversary of my Mom’s death.

Those two little sentences, those two declarative statements about my life, have come to define it so much.

Part of me wants to insert a disclaimer here about writing about such a personal/depressing/pity-seeking post on a blog.  But you know what, fuck it.  It’s my blog and about 5 people read it, and I’m sitting on the couch crying right now because I miss my parents.  And so I am going to write about it because God knows, it is an even more awkward topic of conversation with people in person than it is as a blog post.  So, disclaimer rescinded.

Most of the time… I don’t feel it.  It’s a part of me that is there, like a little ache in the background that you don’t even notice anymore until you do something to hurt yourself.  Most of the time, I favor that ache so that I don’t hurt– I make wry “dead parent jokes”, I try to be a generally happy person who doesn’t get bogged down in sad stuff.  But sometimes, like on days like today, I hurt myself.  I deliberately think about my loss because I don’t want to forget my parents.  I rip off the bandage and remember all the memories I can, and think about all of the memories I’ll never have.  Which usually ends up with me crying alone on a couch somewhere.  But maybe that’s OK.  But maybe it’s better to express some of it too.

I think about the things I miss.  I lost my parents before the age where you really start to appreciate your parents as fellow adults and recognize the wisdom of them.  I didn’t learn the family recipes.  I didn’t learn all of the family stories.  I can’t ask for advice.  My sister and I didn’t save all of the family heirlooms that I would have wanted… because when you’re 21 and living in a dorm, you aren’t really thinking about making sure to save all of your favorite Christmas Ornaments.

And so now, it’s always the little things that cut with an unexpected sharpness of loss and regret.

Dan and I went to see the National Christmas Tree lighting last week.  As we were waiting in the security line to get into the Ellipse, the line wound past one of the gate houses to the White House.  I remarked to Dan that this was likely near where my parents met.  The story that I remember my Mom telling me was that she met my Dad, who was in the Secret Service during the Carter Administration, when he was at one of the Gate Houses to the White House.  She was visiting the White House with one of her friends who was dating another Secret Service Agent.  And apparently, my Dad was trying to impress my mom and ended up stumbling out of the gate house.  I was re-telling this bit of family trivia to Dan and he asked me what type of Secret Service work my father did and I realized I honestly had no idea.  Something involving working at the gates, perhaps?  I don’t know.  I don’t even know if I am remembering this story correctly anymore.  And I can’t ask my mom.  And I probably didn’t listen as closely as I should have when she tried to tell me that story.  Multiply that by pretty much every family story I know and every picture in every photo album that I have no memory of.

I think of the lifetime of events and milestones that I have and will go through alone.  Not alone, maybe.  I have my sister and my niece.  I have Dan.  I have my Dad’s side of the family.  I have Dan’s family.  I have a lot of wonderful friends.  But that doesn’t change the emptiness that is there sometimes.

And I regret the distance that has grown between myself and family members, family friends, and old neighbors and friends in my hometown.  When my mom got sick, she stopped calling people and didn’t want anyone to know how sick she was, so I sort of naturally followed suit.  I stopped going to family gatherings, I stopped going to holiday parties, we moved away from our hometown into a small apartment.  Between dealing with my mother’s illness and death, as well as being at an age and maturity level where you can’t recognize the importance of maintaining those connections when you are just so busy all of the important things in your life, all of a sudden I was making the guest list for my wedding and realized that I hadn’t seen extended family and friends, people who had known me my whole life, for 5 years.  And I never really got those connections back.  Maybe those people would know the full story of how my parents got together?

So today is the day for bandage ripping, and couch crying.  For grief, and regrets, and memories.  And a day for sharing it instead of pretending that I’m not crying.

Monday with a Muppet Soundtrack

December 10, 2012

I missed my Friday soundtrack last week, so I wanted to share with you all my new favorite Christmas song that has been stuck in my head for like, a week: Cee Lo’s All I need is Love.

It involves Muppets, so obviously I am in love with it.  Aside from just the general awesomeness of the Muppets, I love them because Jim Henson went to the University of Maryland and created Kermit the Frog while he was a student there.

Dan and I take our Muppet love even further– you know how you need to give a name to your electronics when you register them these days?  Well, instead of naming them something like “Kelly’s iPhone”, we name all of our electronics after Muppets– our Tivo, our router, our phones.  We started with my very first iPod, which I named Beaker.  My current iPhone is named Camilla the Chicken.  Yeah, we’re weird.

Anyway– you must watch this video.  It will definitely make your Monday brighter.  And you will be singing it in your head all day long.

You’re in a better mood now, aren’t you?

What is your favorite Christmas song?  More importantly, who is your favorite Muppet?

Happy Friday with a Soundtrack: Jason-Mraz’s-Hair-Edition

November 30, 2012
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Happy Friday, everyone.  I hope you are all looking forward to a fun and relaxing weekend!

I’m looking forward to the SEC Football Championship game, making some delicious wintery meals (chicken and dumplings and Hungarian Beef Stew!), finishing up Christmas decorations, and finally getting some pictures taken for this year’s Christmas cards (you all know how much I love me some stationary)!

To help get you through your Friday, I’d like to suggest the song that’s been stuck in my head for a week now:  “I won’t give up”  by Jason Mraz.

However, while I like the original, the reason it has been stuck in my head is because of the version below by Masie and Lennon Stella (who play the daughters of Connie Britton on ABC’s Nashville– which if you are not watching, you totally should).  These 2 little girls are so insanely talented–  So, enjoy!  And I highly recommend checking out their other videos on youtube, which are equally impressive.

Can you believe how good they are?  They are 12 and 8!

And here is the original for good measure– because really, we need to discuss WTF IS HAPPENING with Jason Mraz’s hair in this video!!

What are you looking forward to this weekend?  And can any of you teach me how to harmonize like Maisy and Lennon?  And most importantly, do you know what is happening with Jason Mraz’s crazy hair?!

Ornament Decoration Redux: Wreath Edition

November 29, 2012

Some of you may remember my epic crafting fail last year, when I took a beautiful pinterest  inspiration

Source

and made a terribly ugly ceiling fan chandelier.  Ringing any bells?  Or like me, have you tried to block it out of your memory?

Let’s re-live the train wreck, shall we?

The ornaments started with so much promise.  Shiny… pretty…

Then things started looking a little crazy, but I chose to ignore it…

And finally, was left with… this.  Hanging in our apartment.  Taunting me.  For a month.

Well, it all came back to me as I unpacked by Christmas decorations on Monday and came across the giant bag of ornaments that I used .  What to do with all these damn ornaments?  Fill up every vase/bowl/container we own with ornaments?  Decorate our entire Christmas tree in red balls?  Throw them all away because every time I see them they will remind me of failure?

I opted to go a different route and make them into something a little better looking.

I used this insanely simple tutorial to make an ornament wreath for our door and I am pretty happy with how it turned out! It is definitely an upgrade over the “Holly berry” wreath I bought for $9 at CVS a few years ago, which looked so terrible when I unpacked it last year that I never even put it up.

But seriously– there is finally a Joan-Crawford approved use for wire hangers!  If you’ve got a hanger, a pair of pliers  and some spare ornaments– you’ve got yourself a snazzy wreath!

It looks a little wonky in pictures (and sorry for the somewhat crappy quality of the photo– this is iPhone all the way), but it looks more balanced in person (but it is a tiny bit wonky on one side because Dan knocked it off the door and I had to put some of the ornaments back on).

I’ve tried to put a big bow at the top to make it more “wreathy” and to hide the 3M hook, but it just keeps looking crazy instead.  So, I think I’m going bow-less for now.

What do you think?  Should I go back to the drawing board with my ornament crafting?  Have you had any crafty fails lately?  How did you salvage them?

So, it’s been a little while…

November 28, 2012

It’s been about a year since my last post… but I’m back.

I had a few people mention to me in the last few weeks that they missed my blog updates.  One friend said that they thought I should revive S&P to post a live blog to document my friend Jenn having a Twilight movie marathon/drinking game (we made a google doc of it instead– which I think I might have to share because it was insane).  I mentioned a crafty project I had completed to a co-worker, and they said they missed reading about those things on the blog.  And who am I to deny my fans (all 2 of them).

But most of all… I missed writing the blog.  Sure, maybe it’s kind of self-indulgent and self-important, but it was fun.  About this time last year, I got kind of caught up in what I perceived as a blog-identity (or lack of identity) crisis.  My blog was about DIY and fashion and random musings and cooking and really whatever the hell I felt like writing that day, and I felt like that made for a sub-par blog.  And maybe it does.  But I’m going to get back to writing it anyway, because I like to write and I enjoy social media, and like sharing things that I think are interesting and worth sharing.

So, if you are down for some more slightly-unfocused-topic-area blogging, please come back and see me soon!  Luckily, since it’s been a year, I have a lot to share with you all!

And since my last post last year was announcing my tree trimming plans, I’ll leave you guys with this picture of this year’s tree all up and decorated:

Happy Friday with a Soundtrack– Tree Trimming Edition

December 2, 2011

Happy Friday, everyone!

D and I are planning on putting up our tree and the rest of our holiday decor tonight after work (because the ornament trifle and possibly-ugly-epic-fail-ornament-chandelier are getting lonely), and I am very excited.  While we decorate, we’ll be putting our Yule Log DVD on to play in the background (we got it at Walmart a few years ago for $3, and since we don’t have a fireplace, we appreciate the “real fire crackling sounds” as well as the utter cheesiness of having a Yule Log DVD).

We are also going to be drinking mulled cider, which is one of my favorite holiday traditions.  I got this recipe from my friend Jules a few years ago and have made it for pretty much every holiday-related function I’ve attended since then.

Reasons mulled cider is awesome: It’s simple, pretty cheap, is delicious, “optionally” alcoholic, and makes everything smell like awesome holiday.  You should totally try it.

Mulled Apple Cider Recipe:

In a large stock pot or crock pot put the following ingredients:

  • 1 gallon of apple cider (available in the refrigerated section of most grocery store produce areas)
  • 1 orange (whole, not cut up or anything)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks and 5-7 cloves secured together in a cheesecloth bundle (or in a coffee filter)
  • Simmer on low or cook on low in the slow cooker for 4 hours or more.
  • If you want to add alcohol, you can add in Brandy or Whiskey (and although I have never tried it, I imagine spiced rum might also be good).  Add the amount of your choice about 1/2 hour before serving (we usually do about 1 and 1/2 cups of brandy).
  • Sip and enjoy the warm christmas-y goodness!

I’ll be sure to post some photos of our apartment all decked out once we have everything put up!  Have you put up your Christmas decor yet?  If so, please feel free to share in the comment section– I’d love to see it!

And for the soundtrack for the rest of your Friday, I leave you with Tiny Tree Christmas by Guster.  I got this song off of a free album download that Target had last year called “The Christmas Gig”, which was totally awesome.  I was hoping they would have another, equally awesome, free download of Christmas tunes for this year, but not so far.

It’s an Ornament Trifle!

November 30, 2011

When we were at my mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving, D waxed poetic about how much he wanted to make a trifle (seriously– the man loves to be in the kitchen (Thank goodness)).  I’ve never had trifle, so I can’t really say how much I would want to eat it, but given my track record hating most dessert, I don’t think trifle and I would be BFF.

Anyway, lo and behold, D’s mom had a trifle dish she didn’t want or need, so it came home with us.  I checked with D to see if his trifle-making-plans were imminent, but they are not.  So, I made an ornament trifle  for our coffee table instead.

And I think it looks fabulous.

After the frustration (and still-trying-to-decide-if-I-like-it-or-hate-it) of the Christmas Chandelier, it was nice to have a project that took about 5 minutes and looks great.

What’s your favorite easy holiday decor?

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