One Year Later

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My dad passed away a year ago today. It’s a weird thing. It’s hard to miss someone you didn’t really see for 5 years. At the same time it’s hard not to think about them when an inheritance allowed you buy your dream home.

I called my brother the other day and got his voicemail. Except it wasn’t his voice, it was our dad’s because he uses his phone. I knew that but it still caught me off guard. Hearing my Dad’s voice brought on a lot of mixed emotions.

It’s common to think about people differently when they’re gone. I don’t think it’s a bad thing or disingenuous. When someone’s alive you can have expectations. After they’re gone so are the expectations. You no longer look at things in the light of how they could be because they will never be different.

One year later these are the various thoughts floating in my head.

I wish I could say thank you for thinking about us. That’s really what the inheritance means to me, that he was thinking of us. I won’t say that I didn’t think he didn’t think about us or care before but for a lot of reasons I didn’t know what he was thinking when he thought of us.

I think about him every time I hear Under the Sea. He used to sing it like Sebastian and I always hear his voice when I hear that song. I even told Lucas about it the other day when it came up on Pandora.

I also think about him every time I drive by Ten Yen – a Chinese restaurant. We used to go there often (at least in my memory) but our one visit there I remember vividly. We were with our Uncle Chris and I asked what a virgin was. I was young but had heard it on tv. I remember he was mortified and as a grown-up I understand why. I don’t remember what he said but I do feel like he handled it well. I think about going back but fear it might be emotional.

I wish we had a nice picture together. It’s no surprise I love pictures, so I wish I had one digital picture that caught us at a happy moment (not that we have an alternative photo either).

I wish he got to know me as a grown-up. It was possible, it just didn’t happen. I don’t feel that he ever really knew me. We didn’t see each other enough or have that kind of quality time.

I think he would have been surprised. The challenge with young parents is that you’re all kind of growing up together. Young people’s emotions run at the surface and parenting is hard. I don’t think it’s a good combo. It murkys the waters, so that those hard teenage years aren’t viewed as a teenager being a teenager. I think both of my parents took things I did and said personally when none of it was personal, it was me being a naive teenager. Mom and I went through the ringer to put it lightly but now we’re good friends. I think she likes me as a person, I like her as a person. We have an adult relationship and it’s great. She’s still totally my mom and I treat her like that but it’s not just a mother-daughter thing.

It was always father-daughter thing with my dad and since that wasn’t easy or great circumstances, it didn’t end well.

We were actually quite similar and there are a lot of conversations I wish we had. Writing this I suddenly remembered how things were before they fell apart. I was really excited about it and we did have a couple good conversations and a nice lunch at a coney…

So I guess I wish we could have had a conversation without the baggage getting in the way and a conversation about the baggage so we could move past it.

I wish he would have called… or texted…or emailed. I never ignored him – I don’t ignore anyone, it’s my weakness.

I wish he would have been nice the last time I saw him. He was mean on purpose and I wish he hadn’t been because I would have done anything if he had been thoughtful.

I wish everything had been different because I know he’d be crazy about Lucas. He’d be especially pleased with his musical interests.

And even at nearly 30, a tiny part of me can’t resist being a little bitter and a little jealous. I wish he would have just used his computer talent to be a computer engineer and have a normal job and a normal life and be there when I needed him.

Well the former wasn’t who he was and for the latter, I suppose he was there for me because we really wouldn’t have this house without him.

So if there is the internet in the hereafter (sans comment sections ofcourse) – thanks Dad.

3 Characters

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This is going around the internet and since I assign the people in my life fictional character representation in my phone, I couldn’t pass it up.

Regina Mills (Once Upon A Time): Bad-ass who gets things done, fiercely protective and loves her son.

Margaret Houlihan (M*A*S*H): No-nonsense compassionate professional with a fun side and hot lips.

Jackie Burkhart (That 70s Show): Spoiled and bossy but will do anything for her opposite (fortunately, he’ll do the same for her).

Relationship Reflections

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Oh I love that face! Sadly, life is so busy these days, that I’ve fallen behind on my wifely duties. No more! Our 4 year wedding anniversary is exactly one month away and I’m going to make sure we get back on track. Here are a few activities that I know Danny will enjoy and I’m determine to complete before October 20th.

  • A lunch date every week
  • Arkham Horror gamenight
  • One scary movie – that I promise to stay awake for
  • Strengthen training night at the gym
  • Sous chef Wok meal
  • One weekend day with no work, no chores and no visitors

 

 

Reading Round-Up

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I’ve been reading a lot lately and loving it. Since I’ve learned to put down books I don’t enjoy, my reading success rate has been at all time highs. Here are some recent reads and some alternatives.

Light Read – The Truth According to Us:  Don’t let the size intimidate you, this heartfelt novel is a fast read. The characters are charming and will make you smile, laugh and cry. It’s part mystery, part romance and part girl-power.

Similar to  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Historical – America’s First Daughter: Novels can be the best way to read a biography and some lives warrant it. Martha Jefferson is one such woman. Thomas Jefferson’s daughter lived a fascinating life. Through her trials and tribulations you find a new way to look at the revolutions in America and France, politics, plantation life, slavery and feminism.

Similar to Empress of the Night

‘Sophisticated’ – Dept. of Speculation: This book is very “New York”, a bit much for this Midwestern girl but given it’s length I finished it in a few hours. A moody look at marriage and life through a Manhattan lenses.

Similar to Fate and Furies

Traditional Liars & Saints: A multi-generation novel that spans multiple decades, I couldn’t put it down. The Santerre family have the outward appearance of a classic Catholic family in the 20th century but what lies beneath is gripping and tragic. It borders unbelievable but it’s written so well it couldn’t be more real.

Similar to Some Luck

HumorHow to be Parisian Where You Are: This ‘style guide’ is a fun, magazine read. I was delighted to discover, I may be more Parisian than I thought.

Similar to Amy Poehler’s Yes Please

Mommas Who Work It: Lindsay

Being a working mom is a lot of work. Figuring out how to be a good mother, wife and employee is an overwhelming challenge. Since this is clearly turning into more of a ‘mom blog’ I thought I’d start formally asking my mom friends to share their thoughts, tips and tricks on handling this complex role.

I want to start with my friend Lindsay. We met at an Inforum event and I was immediately awestruck. She has the style and grace of Kate Middleton and is completely approachable. We became fast friends and she is my model for working motherhood. Not only does Lindsay keep active and engaged professionally, she is a great friend. She makes time for meet ups and sends the random supportive text message that brighten your day. Her interest in connecting and supporting other working moms inspired her to start a Facebook community for Michigan Mommas Who Work It – not surprisingly, it also inspired this blog series.

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Meet Lindsay 

I am 32 and grew up in the great state of Michigan.  I am a Western Michigan Alum with a Bachelors in Marketing and Accounting.  After college, I moved to Florida and took a job with a mutual fund company. That is where I met my husband Mike, we have been married for 7 years. I have been working in the financial services industry for over 10 years now and it wasn’t until we moved to Ohio and I took a job with TIAA-CREF that I realized I wanted to interact with individual clients, educate on their financial futures, and really provide confidence and comfort with this often overwhelming and stressful part of every person’s life.  Up until I became a mom, I played soccer on adult leagues and was involved with various charities and local community activities.  Now, as a mom, I still really enjoy these things but find it harder as it means more time away from my son Henry.  I am also working to grow my business, so I have activities that take me away from my kiddo as a method of business development- so it becomes a time struggle of social things, community involvement, business growth, and family time.

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On Motherhood

Planning for Baby No. 2: My son Henry is two and we’re expecting another little one in December. Poor 2nd child syndrome.  We have his crib, but its still in a box in the garage.  We know we need to paint his room, but haven’t yet.  I have to dig out all Henry’s old clothes and spot treat them… they are still in the basement.  We are already thinking about possibly having a 3rd baby to try for a girl- BABY #2 isn’t even born yet!!! We do have his name picked out, theme of his room, and love the idea of saying “my boys or the boys’ rooms”  I am excited to see what this child is like and am more anxious about labor/delivery and also parenting.  I had a pretty good experience with the first and I just hope this delivery is as pleasant and that #2 is has an overall good demeanor.

Momma Must-Have: Pouches!!! Henry loves to eat these and I am thankful that he does – they are fruits and veggies in a pouch and easy to travel AND pick up anywhere if you didn’t plan ahead and pack snacks.

Daycare: Henry goes to an in home daycare.  She is awesome and just recently become officially licensed, which limits her number of kids and makes me even happier.

Advice for Moms: You either deal with the situation now or you deal with it later.  You can fight the battle of no binky when they are 3 weeks old OR you can fight the battle when they are 2 years old.  Books will tell you one thing, but ultimately you are the parent and will determine how and what you let your child do and deal with the consequences when they arise.

Proudest ‘Mom’ Moment: I am constantly surprised by what Henry picks up on a daily basis.  From the words he repeats after only hearing them once to the tasks he completes and stunts he tries to pull.  He always impresses me and makes me proud.

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On Marriage

Marriage after Henry:  We are partners in crime and best friends.  We enjoy our time together. I would certainly say the romance hasn’t died down, it just doesn’t surface as often.  We have so much fun as a family and then when Henry is asleep, we are recharging, getting things done around the house, and gearing up for the next day.  Parenting is a good challenge, we are on the same page with many things but there are other times I have to bite my tongue and remember this is his kid too and he can parent in his own way.

Maintaining your relationship: My husband is really great about making sure we connect, even if just for a few moments.  He will hold my hand on the couch 40 minutes into a show or just take a break from reading to say I love you.  We try to go out for date night, but sometimes you really have to muster up the energy to make it through the evening.

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On Work-Life Balance

Being a working mom:  I am constantly feeling guilty about not working enough to grow my business, but also have the perspective that my family is more important and I won’t sacrifice consistent time away from them just to work.  I had to give myself permission to miss a night a week of seeing my kiddo and not tucking him in to bed.  Once I gave that permission, it helped with the guilt. That said, I still feel like I should be doing more for my business and my family.  There is a part of me that would love to work 4 days a week and have a bit more balance… maybe over time.

Making it work: Pay for conveniences. We have a cleaning lady that comes once a month, someone that mowes our lawn, and I recently found out about the dry cleaning service that comes to our office (I have had my suit coats sitting in my car for 3 weeks trying to drop them off but always forget or am racing home to spend time with Henry that I never want to make an extra stop).  We can’t afford too many added conveniences but a few things that free up our time and allow us to enjoy each other is so worth the money!

Also,  I am constantly reminded by other moms of a reoccurring message: if you have to work, make it count especially when they are younger.  Anyone can snuggle and cuddle a baby (which is hard to miss out on) BUT if you can put your career in a position that in 10+ years you are able to be available at a time when they really need their parents.  When they are faced with relationship challenges, broken hearts, and moral/ethical issues having that flexibility will be a greater benefit to them overall and allow you to be there.  It is a time when you can really shape their future and who they are as growing and maturing adults.

Change in goals: I waffle on this one… sometimes I just want a job that pays me a salary for 4 days of work and other days I want a career that provides the flexibility I mentioned above.  I love what I do and my ability to not only help others but to really make an impact on their lives and their future.  I wouldn’t be able to give that up BUT I definitely struggle with missing my kiddo – he is just awesome!  I recognize that I do not need to be one of the top producers in my office at this time.  I can be a top producer when I am 50 and the kids are in college.  This has been one of the biggest career goal changes.

Thanks for sharing Lindsay! If you have questions about personal finance/investment, check out Lindsay’s LinkedIn page.

Happy Friday

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I’m currently reading a novel about Thomas Jefferson’s daughter and I have many thoughts. One thing that stands out is the fierce partisan rhetoric, libelous and petty attacks on character and talk of unprecedented divisiveness/taking up arms in protest. It seems that every presidential election cycle we have the same debates, disappointments and in January the country is still here. Fear not America, we’ve been doing the exact same thing for 200+ years.

Nevertheless, I’ll continue to hope for better thing and hope that we can look beyond our partisan preferences to the policies that are being proposed. It would also be nice if we could remember that we are all humans with feelings.

“I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard. My friend and I were some of the only women in the room. I was feeling nervous. I was a senior in college. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do. And while we’re waiting for the exam to start, a group of men began to yell things like: ‘You don’t need to be here.’ And ‘There’s plenty else you can do.’ It turned into a real ‘pile on.’ One of them even said: ‘If you take my spot, I’ll get drafted, and I’ll go to Vietnam, and I’ll die.’ And they weren’t kidding around. It was intense. It got very personal. But I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t afford to get distracted because I didn’t want to mess up the test. So I just kept looking down, hoping that the proctor would walk in the room. I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional. But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’ And sometimes I think I come across more in the ‘walled off’ arena. And if I create that perception, then I take responsibility. I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional. And neither do my friends. And neither does my family. But if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can’t blame people for thinking that.” – HRC

As for me, there’s another busy weekend here. Since Monday was a holiday, Mr. B is watching Lucas today and we’re having dinner at his house. Saturday, he’s getting us dinner and we’ll watch the Irish play. We also get Gwen for our first post-Lucas sleepover! I’ve missed my girl and look forward to hanging out with her; however, Lucas has been known to be incredibly jealous so we’ll see how it goes. Sunday, I’m chaperoning a date with Lucas and his girlfriend Estella. Raechel and I will catch up and I’ll convince her to move to our neighborhood. Then it’s off to work… but at least I’ll be home for Lucas’ first Lions game. They are awful but it’s a rite of passage for Detroiters.

P.S. We can learn something from President Bush

Home, Sweet Home

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We’ve been in our house for just over a month and I love it just as much as I did when B sent the Zillow listing. From the moment I stepped through the door it felt like home and now that I’ve painted the door ‘Lovebird pink’ I’ve appropriately marked my territory.

After we got the keys we had a whirlwind two weeks of renovations. The house was unexpectedly filthy and a lot of basic cleaning was needed. It also turned out that every repair/update was done wrong and had to be fixed. The result was more work and money than we planned. That said, we’re not upset about it. In this housing market we feel good about the sale price and problems are inevitable with homeownership. Fortunately, we’ve been able to do everything we need to and problems that could have been really bad (i.e. leaking roof) turned out to be easy fixes.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of things left to be done – big and small projects – so I’ll deem these pictures interim and not final. The house needs new windows but that’s an expense we have to save for. When we’re able to switch them out, I know it will feel like a brand new house because the dirty beige is distracting. There are also smaller pieces I’m saving for or at least holding off on. In these rooms it would be a entry table, curtains, centerpiece, pillows, perhaps another picture for the wall. I’m not pining, I am happy with everything thus far and patience is a virtue!

 

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Our house is smaller than 1200 sq ft and my #1 home decor goal was to not have it feel like a shoebox. It was staged with a nice dark grey color but I wanted everything light and airy on the main floor. I also wanted it pink.

Danny was adamantly opposed to the use of pink in our home but I’m happy to say I won him over. I selected 4 pink colors for a test the night we got the keys and I’m so glad I picked a variety because the ‘Soothing Pink’ I used was not the one I thought I would like. Fortunately, Cara was there to help decide because if she hadn’t been I may have been talked into a darker shade that no one would be happy with. This color is a hint of pink that makes me happy and is unassuming enough that Danny isn’t bothered and some people don’t even notice it.

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I bought 12 frames for a wall collage but this time it was Melissa’s sage advice that guided my choices. She felt it would be too much and after putting up these three pictures I had to agree. Our parents and our little family are the winners and I think the photos complement each other but are also unique.

 

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I’ve kept four items left over in the house and this light is one of them. Since I didn’t want too much pink in the house, I asked Danny to build a chair rail. We might continue the project to be Batton Board or we’ll leave it like this forever, only time will tell.

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The built in shelving in the dining room is a favorite. When we first moved in Danny absentmindedly arranged the glassware in a perfect design. I forgot to take a picture before I moved them to paint so this is second best but I still think it looks nice. It’s also out of reach of toddling babies.

There’s part one. Nothing magazine worthy but it’s home.