Friday, October 30, 2009

Photogenic Friday: Once I was a fairy

Ok, so this isn't a Halloween picture (hence the Christmas decorations in the background).

But I haven't dressed up for Halloween in a while. So long, that I can't tell you when the last time was, and this is the closest I have of me looking like something besides myself.

This was the first day of finals at the end of my first semester away at college. My friend Jenn (pictured) was in a costume makeup class and had to make over a live person for her final. Since I am petite and had really short hair at the time she asked if I would be willing to participate and let her turn me into a fairy.

A couple of days (and one sleepless night) later and this was the result. I had an army of people making me over. The night before the actual "performance" we had a "dress rehearsal" and if I remember correctly there were at least two people besides Jenn adding things to my face. See the ears? Those were added at about 2 in the morning. All this while I was frantically trying to study for my math exam which was scheduled just before Jenn's makeup exam.

I failed miserably. But that had a lot more to do with my personal math prowess (or lack of) than aiding and abetting my friend in her quest for an A.

Whatever. It was a lot of fun even though we were all sleep deprived and our brains were fried.

It'd do it over in a heartbeat.

I hope you all have a lovely All Hallows' Eve!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A hairy situation

Sorry for the delay in posts. I've been really busy getting back into the married routine. It's scary how easily that can slip away. 11 short days without Andy and it's like was single again.

So anyway.

Back during my blog-cation, when I cleaned out my old teenage bedroom I found a folder from my days in Advanced Placement Junior English class.

Can I just tell you this thing has some real treasures inside of it.

It's kind of frightening to see inside my brain from ten years ago.

But I came across something that I knew I needed to share with all of you. Because it's priceless.

You see, in that class we had a student teacher for part of the year. That's no big deal, really. I've had my fair share of student teachers, but this particular student is permanently burned into my brain, never to be forgotten.

Her name was Miss Diana. We never really knew if that was her first name or last name, but that's what we called her.

Miss Diana was what some might call a hippie. She lived in the mountains (where I live now, but then I lived in the foothills) and she didn't have a home. Though you couldn't consider her homeless because she lived that way by choice. I don't remember if she lived in a tent or a tepee, but I've always imagined her in a tepee. Mostly because when she said she lived outside it conjured up images of Eustace Conway in my head so I've always visualized her in a tepee wearing moccasins.

One of the first things we learned about our new teacher was that she had had surgery to remove a brain tumor. The surgery had been a success and she was fine, but they had shaved her head. By doing so they had removed a most vital part of her appearance - her dreadlocks.

One of the exercises that Miss Diana liked doing with us was word association. Someone would say a word and the next person would say whatever word that came to mind next. In short order we took it to the next level to flex our creative writing skills and we would be given a word or an object to write a small paragraph about. We were supposed to just let the words flow out of our minds and into our pencils. Whatever we were thinking.

Then one day Miss Diana came in with a large brown paper bag. We had assumed our usual position by arranging our desks in a circle (there were only nine of us) and waited for class to commence.

Miss Diana removed her bundle to show us what our writing topic would be about that day.

Do you see where this is going?

Out of the bag came a huge pile of dreadlocks. Miss Diana's beloved dreadlocks, that she had saved from the garbage when they shaved her head for surgery.

Ho-ly shit!

I think she may have tried at one point to pass the hairball around the circle and I'm not so sure that any of us were brave enough to get that close. Eventually the hair ended up perched on a table in front of us and we were instructed to "let the words flow" as per usual.

The following is, verbatim, what I wrote that day:

I see hair. I don't have a lot to say about it. Acctually I don't have anything to say about it. I'm sitting here straining my brain for something to write. My mind is blank. My mind is blank a lot of times but right now it is really empty. I guess sometimes that can be a good thing. I know it is for me because when I have too much on my mind and I think a lot about it, I have a bad habit of picking at my cuticles and they end up looking really bad like they do now. They really look bad right now because I've had a lot on my mind lately. But I don't anymore so my cuticles can heal now.

Analyze that.

A blank mind? I think not. What I was really thinking was, "OH! MY! GOD! I can't believe she actually saved that! And then she brought it here to infest us all with lice and disease! I wonder where she keeps that inside her tepee?!"

You see, my momma raised me right. Saying what I really thought would have seriously hurt Miss Diana's feelings and I couldn't let that happen. Even if I thought she should immediately take the dreadlocks outside and set them on fire I would never tell her that to her face. Sometimes lying is a good thing.

It's also a good thing that I didn't have to say anything out loud about it because I'm not so good at keeping my face under control. As it was she probably could tell exactly what I was thinking if she looked at me for more than five seconds. I'm pretty sure I remember a similar reaction on the faces of all eight of my class mates. That was a tense day in English class.

When she finally put the hair back in the bag there was a collective sigh of relief.

I don't know what happened to Miss Diana. She finished her student teaching, we threw a farewell party and then she was gone.

I hope she found a more solid living arrangement. It gets cold up here in the winter.

Also, if she grew her hair back out and started some new dreadlocks I hope she burned the old ones.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Photogenic Friday: The weary traveler is home

Here are some more pictures of Andy's trip to Tahoe. He got home last night, just in time for the alarm to go off at the ski shop. We met the police there after we got all his stuff off the truck.

We live in a sleepy little town and the local police force doesn't have a lot to do so when we got to the shop there were three police cars and at least two more pulled in after us.

Anyway, turns out a mouse tripped the alarm and one of the policemen freaked out when he saw it. I hope he handles criminals with a little more gusto.

We finally got in bed by 2:30.

I'm so glad he's home!

The village below their house
They had giant chess and checker boards
Riding the chair lift
One of the racers going under themView of Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe in the fall
Driving into Reno
They stayed with Robert's parents one night.
This is the view from their house.
I think Andy said those were the Ruby Mountains
They drove through a lot of inclement weather.
This is in Colorado.
Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This is why he's hot!

I didn't just marry Andy because he's a good mechanic.

He's really quite handy to have around the house as well.

Brave is a also a good descriptive word that comes to mind when I look at these photos.

Very brave indeed to make bread in the presence of his anal, perfectionist wife.

Usually Andy is more of a cook and I'm the household baker. It's a rare occasion when he undertakes a baking project and even more rare that he allows me to be home while he's doing it.

I do enjoy bossing him around and making faces when he does something wrong.

Right about now I'm missing him like crazy.

He's coming home tomorrow.

I'm terribly excited. The left side of the bed has been cold for a week and a half.

P.S. If he comes back without a present I'm sending him back.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Veronicaisms III

It's been a while, but I don't get to see my nieces and nephews as often as I'd like.

Earlier in the month Andy and I stopped by my parents' house for a short visit while the kids were also there.

Veronica was outside riding her bike when we were getting in the car to leave.

As she is telling me goodbye she adds:

"Be careful Aunt Joanna! Try not to get into an accident like last time!"

Um, thanks V. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for old men in large SUV's on the wrong side of the road.

Seriously, I'm glad she's so concerned for my safety.

Also, I wish I could see inside her head.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm shakin' things up!

The Saturday before Andy left he was over at his friend Matt's house. Matt has a little boy and he was watching Saturday morning cartoons while Andy was there.

He came home and announced to me that he had just seen the worst cartoon EVER! We got on Youtube so he could show me what he was talking about.

Have you ever seen Wonder Pets? It turns out that is what Matt's son was watching and Andy thought it was awful. After watching a few clips I actually determined that it wasn't so bad. Of course I have a high threshold for children's programming after enduring an entire summer of Barney several years ago while babysitting. Nothing is worse than Barney, except maybe Teletubbies.

But I digress. We came across this video which is a compilation of the duckling on the show saying his catch phrase over and over again. I don't know why I enjoy this so much, but the first time we watched it I laughed until I cried and then made Andy watch it again.

So of course I had to share it with you. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Photogenic Friday on Sunday

Finally we have an update from the weary traveler.

I don't believe I have actually told you why Andy has gone all the way across the country.

Our friend Robert is the assistant cycling coach at our alma mater. The cycling team is pretty awesome. Mountain Bike Nationals are being held in Tahoe this year and the team is currently there racing.

While they were planning the trip it was clearly more economical for someone to drive the team's equipment across the country rather than try to ship it there. So Robert asked Andy if he'd like to come along and help with the driving.

Andy said, "Yes, please!" to a free trip to California.

So here are some of the pictures Andy has posted of his adventures. Please forgive the shots taken through the truck window. They were trying to make the trip as quickly as possible and couldn't be bothered to stop and take proper scenic photos.

Edit: The translation from facebook to blogger didn't work very well. Click on the photos to see full images.

Loading the truck
All smiles to start
St. Louis, just passin' through
Wyoming. Apparently Andy didn't care for the drive here
The Great Salt Lake
The rental house
Andy sleeps in a closet
First day at the races
Scenery, etc.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Photogenic Friday: Andy stole my camera

This post was supposed to contain several photos of Andy's cross country trip to date.

He left on Monday morning, took my camera and the laptop, and has yet to post a single picture.

Oh, excuse me. He has posted four, very fuzzy, camera phone photos on facebook that serve to prove my theory that cell phones should not have camera features. Or that people should not document cross country trips on their cell phones and try to convince their wives that they really did needed to take the good camera and laptop.

So I have no photo to share with you today.

If he manages to get something posted tonight I'll be sure to share it. Until then I'm going to go be annoyed with him.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lip Lickin' Good

The bunnies haven't made a blog appearance in a while and I thought I needed to remedy that.

The following video is of the two of them sharing an apple. I recorded the video because I get really tickled watching Milton eat apples and it isn't something I could capture in a still photo.

Something you should know about Milton is that he likes to be really clean. He can make a tremendous mess out of just about anything, but in the end he will remain spotless. So while he eats apples he constantly licks his lips so his fur doesn't get sticky, and sometimes he stops to clean his ears. It's seriously funny. You'll see in the video that I have a hard time watching him without laughing.

What you can't really see in this is just behind them are the remains of their last apple that I hadn't cleaned up yet. Apple eating is serious business to these two and they devour every last bit except the stem and the seeds. They even lick the seeds clean. I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making peace

Today is the six month anniversary of my car crash.

I made it.

For many now it's old news. Joanna was in a car crash, yeah I knew that, but she's alright now.

I suppose physically I am "alright" now. I still have some pain.

Running has been phenomenal for my ankle. I'm pretty sure I'd still be limping and walking slow if I hadn't been so determined to start running again. That's something I'm glad I did and I'm proud of myself for it too. Physical exertion was always something I avoided up until a year ago, so to come back from a broken ankle and get back into running is a big deal for me. Running after a broken ankle is a big deal for anyone, but for me it's a serious personal triumph. Go me!

My chin is still numb, but not as bad as it was. I have some sensation and that gives me hope that my nerve wasn't permanently damaged. In all honesty I'm kind of glad that I was numb. I know for certain that helped shield me from a lot of the pain I would have felt otherwise. Small blessings.

Something I haven't talked about on here is how badly my nose and sinus cavity were injured. It's not something I knew right away. My family shielded me slightly from how severe my injuries were. Rightly so. It took me a week to look at myself in the mirror and they waited until after that to tell me just how bad it was. If they'd told me from the beginning I don't know when I would have been able to face myself again. Once I did look things weren't as bad as I'd feared. I was very swollen of course, but another small blessing is that my injuries were mostly internal. I came out of it with only one facial scar that is quite long, but mostly hidden under my chin.

About my nose and sinus cavity. The surgeon told my family that my nose wasn't just broken, but it was no longer attached to my skull. Likewise, my right sinus cavity suffered the same fate and was also torn away from my skull. Miraculously, these two injuries have caused me the least amount of pain. Only really bothering me when I touched them. The same holds true now, six months later. Occasionally my sinus will hurt, like my ankle, with a change in the weather and it's aggravated if I smile and talk a lot. But for the most part they both seem to have reclaimed their rightful place and are happily reattached.

My teeth are straight again! I can't honestly say they are back to their original glory, but they are straight and that is a huge relief to me. The braces are supposed to come off next week, but I'm a little concerned that they won't remove them when I go in for my appointment. There is a space that wasn't there last time they adjusted the wire and I'm pretty sure it needs to close and won't do it on it's own. Really, it's not a problem if I have to wear them a bit longer. I've only had to suffer for six months. Just a drop in the bucket for most braces wearers.

Of course I lost a tooth and have to have that replaced and I may lose another, but I feel like I've gotten over the biggest hurdle with my orthodontia.

My bite is finally back! During this whole long process my molars have not been touching until recently. Once I was able to start eating real food again I had to teach myself a new way of chewing. My tongue came in really handy since my molars couldn't do their job right. Now that they're touching again it's like another chewing lesson every day. But I ate a salad for the first time since the accident this week! Trying to chew greens is an impossibility if your molars can't break them down, so salad was out for a long time. I really missed salad.

When I look in the mirror now I see me again. There is still swelling, but only the kind that I can see and those very close to me that know the contours of my face like I do. My nose always had a little bump halfway down the bridge, but now it's visible whereas before I could only feel it. Like I said, my scar is mostly under my chin and the tiny bit that curves up towards my mouth is nearly invisible. That mederma, it's miracle serum!

So while my physical ailments are slowly fading into the background I've had more and more time to work on the emotional trauma. As with any healing process there are good days and bad days. I'm happy to say that I haven't had a flashback of the accident in over a month. I'm not really sure what I did to make them stop, but they have, for now anyway.

There are a lot of questions I've asked myself. Also I often find myself doing something very mundane and wondering what would be happening right now if the accident had never happened. What would life be like? Something I wondered a lot while I was stuck on the sofa was why it happened to me. Since I've been on my feet again and been able to live life I wonder, "Why not me?"

I don't wonder anymore why it happened, but why it happened the way it did.

In the past six months I've heard stories of other accidents. Of people who didn't make it out alive. And I find myself questioning why those people died and I didn't. In the past month there have been two young men, in two seperate accidents that both passed away. They both had families and lives and futures. So why them and not me?

My mother is going to read that last paragraph and tell me I need counseling and that I shouldn't feel like my life wasn't worth saving. To which I will reply that perhaps I do need counseling, but I'm not wishing I had died.

There is no end to the gratitude that I feel for surviving. At odd moments it overwhelmes me and takes my breath. I know all too well how things could have turned out. The accident could have happened differently or I could have had irreparable internal injuries. It's hard to face your own mortality at 27, and to begin with I flat out refused to. It's taken me a long time to admit to myself that I almost died and it's something I'm still not able to say outloud. If someone else says it I usually do my best to minimize things or sweep the statement under the rug. But it's time to be honest with myself.

So this is where I am six months later. I nearly lost my whole life and miraculously God decided to give it back. It's a wonderful and terrifying feeling to know that. I can't explain why those other people weren't given the same opportunity, and that's something I struggle with. But I know for certain that I wouldn't still be here if there wasn't something left for me to do or be. I'm not sure what it is, but the amazing thing is that I'm still here to figure it out. Even if it's nothing more than being the best daughter, grandaughter, sister, wife, aunt, friend (and someday mother) that I can be. That is totally worth living for.

My accident was eleven days after my 27th birthday.

My life was my gift.

What a spectacular gift.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Green confession

How about this green movement that's sweeping the world?

Anyone have thoughts? Are we all crazy?

I'm not here today to make a political statement on the green movement. I want to tell you a little bit about my own recent green experience.

Andy and I certainly don't do everything we could to join in the effort to make our world a better place. Of course there are some things that I feel are unnecessary. Everywhere I turn something new is eco-friendly and I feel like it's become the new kitsch thing for companies to market their products.

But like I said, I'm not here to make a political statement.

I'm a little friendlier to the green movement than Andy is, but anything that will potentially save a little money is something we can both get on board with.

Three years ago when we first got married CFL light bulbs were just starting to sweep the nation. Several people we knew had started using them and told us they had seen a difference in their electricity pay out.

We were all for making the switch, but there was a problem. I had recently bought a metric butt ton of regular light bulbs. It had been long enough that I didn't have the receipt anymore and most of the packages had bulbs missing. Returning them wasn't an option. It just didn't make sense to throw out the regular bulbs and replace them with CFL bulbs. Not economically and certainly not for the green minded.

So we waited for all our bulbs to blow.

It wasn't until the last month that we needed to buy light bulbs again. When I say I loaded up, I'm not kidding.

We were true to our word and our pocket book and bought CFL bulbs.

My confession is this:

I HATE the CFL bulbs.

They are not bright. At all. I need light people and I might as well be walking around with a flash light. The lack of brightness in our rooms hurts my eyes. I squint a lot and I'm not willing to give up my good eyesight to save a few dollars on our electric bill or to save the planet one light bulb at a time. And it doesn't save any money if we have to spend our electricity savings on eyeglasses for me.

So there you are. We only got one box of CFL bulbs and as soon as the last one blows I'm going to buy another metric butt ton of electricity sucking, planet killing bulbs.

I'll just have to find another way to shrink my footprint.

Monday, October 12, 2009


On Sunday, before the mad rush to get Andy ready for his trip, we drove up to the ski slope to attend their annual Oktober fest.

This is something I've always wanted to do, but Andy has always said he didn't want to go. So imagine my surprise when Saturday afternoon he asked if I'd like to go check it out the next day.

I think he is going to miss me or he wouldn't be so agreeable to something he's been avoiding for several years now.

So we went and dined on German food; knock wurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad and apple turnovers. I'm not sure that the turnovers were authentic, but they were yummy so who cares?

Of course they had beer on tap, but this festival is small and each year they only have one beer sponsor. Since Andy wasn't crazy about this year's brand we passed on the beer.

We took a little hike up the ski slope, toured the craft booths and then as we were heading over to the hay ride we ran into our friends Jessie and Thomas. So they joined us on the hayride before we all made our way home.

When all was said and done we had a nice time. I'd go again, but next time I'll wear different shoes.

Every year they make these two hay people
and put them on the main road

Photo opp on the way up the slope

Check out that foliage
The festival at the bottom of the slope
The Oom Pah band
Jessi and Thomas on the hayride

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Summing up the weekend

  • Went to my inlaw's house to cook and help get ready for a scrapbook crop
  • Saw my mom and mamaw
  • Made pumpkin whoopee pies
  • Made baked potatoes rolled in olive oil and kosher salt
  • Greeted all the crop ladies
  • Began making shower invitations
  • Eat pumpkin whoopee pies. Yum!
  • Say good night
  • Drive home
  • Wake up at the crack of dawn to Andy's alarm clock.
  • He goes hunting
  • Go back to sleep
  • Wake up
  • Walk in the living room
  • Greet the bunnies
  • See the snake in the floor
  • Holy Shit there's a snake in the floor!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Jump on the sofa
  • Panic
  • Gather myself
  • It's clearly a baby, but I still don't want to lose sight of it
  • Realize I can't watch it all day until Andy decides to come home
  • Run out the door quickly and get the neighbor
  • She laughs at me, but saves the day and gets rid of the snake
  • Continue freaking out and call lot's of people to tell them about the snake
  • Begin watching "Glee" online
  • Andy comes home then leaves again to go to the dump
  • I'm still watching "Glee"
  • Andy comes home and watches two episodes of "Glee" with me
  • Take a nice long nap
  • Go to the grocery store to get frozen pizza
  • Eat pizza, cooked of course, and watch the 10 year anniversary episode of Good Eats
  • Go to bed
  • Wake up
  • Walk in the living room
  • There isn't a snake in the floor today
  • Thank goodness
  • Shower and get ready to go out
  • Go with Andy to Oktober fest
  • Eat German food and attempt to hike up the ski slope
  • Abort hiking attempt
  • Go on children's hayride with Jessie and Thomas
  • Come back home
  • Start making travel snacks for Andy
  • Bake brownies
  • Bake sausage balls
  • Bake blueberry muffins
  • Do several loads of laundry
  • Help Andy get all his things together
  • Continue helping Andy
Tomorrow my sweet, lovely husband is leaving me to drive across the country and he isn't coming back for a while.

I'm glad he has this opportunity because it's a free trip and not only has he worked hard this summer, but he spent his springtime taking care of me. He didn't go fishing once. That is a big deal.

He deserves this, but I'm going to miss him. Pray for his safe travel. And that I don't cry too much when he leaves in the morning. It might be slightly embarrassing if he's trying to leave and I'm clinging to his leg.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Photogenic Friday: Another childhood memory

Another item found among my old belongings was this sweater:

I loved this sweater with all of my heart. First of all, it's purple. Anything purple had me at hello. Secondly it has Miss Piggy on it.

Growing up Miss Piggy was my hero. I wanted to be her. It didn't matter that she was a pig because Miss Piggy was fa-bu-lous!

My brother used to pretend he was Kermit and I would pretend that I was Miss Piggy. (Ok weirdos, I know what you're thinking. Kermit and MP were boyfriend and girlfriend. Eww! It just happened that he liked Kermit and I liked MP. We liked to play Muppets, ok! Gesh! Also, if I remember correctly Josh was every other muppet too, but I refused to pretend to be anything but MP.)

Moving on...

I used to talk to my family in my Miss Piggy voice. I'd wear my purple sweater around and talk like Miss Piggy all day long.

Apparently I did it so much that my grandfather started to worry I'd never stop. He asked my grandmother if they shouldn't do something about it. Do what I don't know. Maybe he thought I needed to see a therapist.

Look at the label! I love that it's made by Calamity Jane!

Was I ever really this small?

If only they made it in adult sizes. I would totally rock it out.

Have a great weekend interwebs!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'll be your Lorelai Gilmore

Way back in January, on a cold Monday afternoon, I got a phone call from my best friend Julie.

This was not uncommon. Julie and I talk most days. But that particular day she was on her way to the local pharmacy to purchase a home pregnancy test.

Also, not uncommon. Julie is highly paranoid and as I understand it has taken several home pregnancy tests over the course of her three year marriage. (She may kill me for writing that)

But this time Julie and her husband were intentionally trying to conceive. However, there wasn't much excitement or anticipation around this test because they really hadn't been trying very long and Julie was feeling slightly under the weather and just taking the test to rule out pregnancy.

We went about our conversation as usual and no more was said about the possibility of pregnancy.

Later that evening Julie sent me a picture message of that same pregnancy test. With a digital read out that said "pregnant".

Much jubilation was had in my apartment. I was home alone and was jumping up and down like a mad woman. The bunnies ran and hid.

So began the story of my best friend's journey into motherhood.

Not long after she found out Julie asked me to be in the delivery room with her. With some trepidation I agreed. Attending a live birth was not high on my list of priorities unless I was the one giving birth. But I just couldn't refuse Julie. I mean, even if I was nervous, what an honor it was for her to ask me. Wild horses couldn't keep me out of that delivery room.

And so it was that I came to be in that delivery room on the afternoon of September 18 when Mina Victoria made her grand appearance.

Julie's labor was long and hard. As a matter of fact Julie and Frank had been in the hospital a total of 84 hours waiting on their daughter. I arrived about 12 hours after they did, so you can imagine that Julie was not the only one who was desperate for that baby to come out.

During the course of all that waiting Julie gave me an idea. She said that we all should write letters to the baby telling her about how stubborn she was and how long it took for her to come.

It seemed the perfect way for me to sum up my personal experience in that delivery room.

So, without further ado,

My dearest Mina,

In the course of your life I'm sure that you will repeatedly hear how stubborn you were. How you didn't want to come out. How you made your mommy suffer. Also, your birth story isn't mine to tell. I was there and I have my own version of events, but no one can tell it like your mommy and daddy, so I won't presume to try and tell it better.

Yes, you did take your own sweet time in being born, but your mommy had always said that you had a mind of your own and no one was going to make you do something you didn't want to. And in the end you did come. You were perfect.

Everyone there said how much you looked like your mommy. Really, no one can deny that the two of you are mother and daughter. Of course we knew that would be the case as the genetics in your mommy's family run strong. It was later though, in the evening, I was holding you and you made a little face. You must have been dreaming because your expression totally changed and in the space of a heartbeat I was looking at your daddy's face. Then you changed again, back into your mommy. But something your daddy always needs to be sure of is that he is in there too. It took both of them to make you and God made sure to give you the best of both.

Something I have to tell you about is what your daddy was like when you came out. I like to think that I have the most accurate description because your mommy was exhausted and trying to see you and all the medical personnel were running around, but I was watching your daddy's face. His countenance was something I can't describe or re-create. The best I can do is tell you that in an instant he fell wholly and completely in love with you. It was like watching a thousand tiny, unbreakable strings come out and attach his heart to you. He loves you with the kind of reckless abandon that only fathers can feel for their daughters. That is something you will thank him for and also have to forgive him for. Try to remember as you grow that to him you will always be that little girl whose world revolved around her daddy.

Your mommy loved you instantly too, but I think it was a little later for her when it all sank in. She was a mommy. You were finally out and she had a daughter. It was bliss.

This is where I tell you about your mommy's and my obsession with a television show called Gilmore Girls. I'm certain that you will become very familiar with it during your life. You can't be your mother's daughter and my niece and escape Gilmore Girls. We have a knack for relating just about any situation back to a specific Gilmore Girls episode, and believe me little Mina, we know them all.

There is one where Sookie is about to give birth and she has a serious meltdown thinking the baby is never going to come out. She runs to Lorelai's house and tells her that she's afraid she might gestate as long as an elephant (22 months) and she's jumping up and down and jiggling and just totally freaking out. When you watch that episode picture your mother's face on Sookie's body. That is what it was like. Except that your mom's freak out didn't last for just the space of one evening. No, I'm afraid your mother was like that for most of her pregnancy. She loved you very much, but she was certain to love you more once you came out.

So once you were here and she'd had a moment to collect herself she spent some time staring at you. Absorbing how beautiful you are. Marveling at the fact that she grew you. You lived inside her for nine long months and then all of a sudden, there you were. Her daughter. She stared at you and saw herself. And she saw her mother.

Your Grammy would have loved you and spoiled you so very much. She does love you and it speaks to the unfairness of life that you will not have the pleasure of knowing her on this side of heaven. But don't fret little one, I, like so many others, have lots of stories to share with you about your Grammy. Just because she isn't here physically does not mean that you won't know her or feel her love. We will all make sure of that.

There is so much I could tell you. Advice for growing up and how to deal with your mother and father. Trust me that they always mean well and want the best for you. You will butt heads, especially with your mother, but their love and concern for you will always be at the forefront of their decisions.

I can promise you that I will always be there. You can call me anytime, and when you get a little older you can come and visit. You're always welcome at my house.

I can also promise that I will always be truthful with you. Something you need to know about me is that I'm a very straightforward person. If your outfit looks stupid I'm probably going to tell you so. But don't take that too much to heart. I'm sure fifteen years from now what I wore when I was that age will look totally ridiculous too. (If it doesn't already)

If you're dating a new guy and he's a jackass I will always tell you that he is a jackass. What I won't tell you is that you need to get rid of him. That is a lesson that you will need to learn on your own. Every girl needs to go through a few jackasses before she finds prince charming. But when the jackass breaks your heart I'll be there to help pick up the pieces if you need me.

I'll leave you with one more promise. This one is for your mother as much as it is for you.

Do you feel another Gilmore Girl's reference coming on? You should.

In the final season Lane gives birth to twins and she asks Rory for a favor. When they were growing up Lane's mother was extraordinarily strict and every now and then Lorelai would go and have a talk with Mrs. Kim. Just to remind her what a great kid Lane was and how much she respected her mother and maybe Mrs. Kim didn't need to be quite so hard on her daughter. Something that Lane was afraid of was being too strict like her mother had been. She asked Rory if she would be her Lorelai Gilmore; meaning that she would do the same thing for Lane that Lorelai had done for Mrs. Kim.

So my promise to you and to your mother is just that. You see Mina, sometimes it's hard for parents, especially mothers with their daughters, to see their children making their same mistakes and not wanting desperately to save them from the pain. Except most the time lessons are better learned rather than told. It's one of those pesky facts of life.

I'll do my best to keep her grounded within the realm of reality. Because I know she'll do the same thing for me when I have children, but mostly because I love you.

I'm so looking forward to watching you grow Mina.

Much love,

Aunt Joanna

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A wedding story

As I've already told you, I spent some time last month assisting my mother in cleaning out my old bedroom.

Nostalgia is a funny thing. I spent several hours sorting through a mountain of junk. Things that ten, or even five, years ago I wouldn't have dreamed of ever parting with. But when all was said and done I did bid farewell to most of it. Some things went to thrift shops, but a large amount of my previously loved possessions were carted off to the dump. What a difference ten years can make.

There was a small mountain left for me to take home and distribute into the proper places in our apartment.

One of those things was a teddy bear that I'd had since I was born (I think).

I had a lot of toys growing up, but none were more treasured than my stuffed animals. I had A LOT of stuffed animals and they all had names and they were all important to me.

This one teddy bear has remained so because of a certain journey it took with my four year old self.

The summer of my fourth year my Aunt Pam got married. I was her flower girl and my brother was her ring bearer.

If you know me and how much I love weddings you'll know that I was over the moon with excitement.

One weekend, about a month before the wedding, Josh and I went to visit our dad. I have no recollection of this weekend, or the events that took place, but my mother and grandmother tell me that I took the teddy bear with me. And when I came home I announced that the teddy's name was Ashley bear and I would not, under any circumstances, be in the wedding without her.

Having since been a bride myself I can only imagine what my beloved aunt was thinking upon this new revelation from the youngest member of her wedding party.

From what I have since been told she washed her hands of the situation and told my mother and grandmother to deal with it. She didn't care how they dealt with it, as long as she didn't have to.

So, my grandmother got to sewing and viola! Ashley bear became Ashley, the wedding bear. She had a dress identical to mine (even down to the slip) and a hair bow to top off the ensemble.

The big day came and Ashley bear sauntered down the aisle with me. And with my brother because once I saw all those eyes looking up the aisle at me all the excitement went away to be replaced with terror. No way in hell was I walking down that aisle alone. So down we went, Ashley bear under one elbow, my brother's arm under the other and my little fist clutching to my flower basket for dear life.

Incidentally I was too paralyzed with fear to drop a single petal. That is, until the end of the ceremony when Josh and I were supposed to walk back up the aisle and I realized my basket was still full. So I dumped the entire contents right there at my feet, took my brother's arm and back up the aisle we went. My head was held high on this second trip. I'd done my job!

So you see how Ashley bear has always had a special place in my heart.

And can you believe that my aunt and uncle named their first child Ashley; after my Ashley bear?

Ok, I'm only kidding. My Uncle Todd's first name is Ashley and she was named after him. My bear's name was purely coincidental.

There's a little more to the wedding story though.

20 years after my first wedding?

I got married myself.

That first born child? She was my maid of honor.

My niece, who was also four, was my flower girl.

She didn't carry a bear. But my nephew did.

Neither of them freaked out like I did. They made their way proudly down the aisle. I think they thought the whole thing was pretty fun.

So for now Ashley bear is living in a box to keep her from getting dirty. One day maybe she'll have a nice shelf in another little girl's room to live on.