Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My birthday and my Papaw

I talked a little bit yesterday about how much my grandfather put into helping me celebrate my birthday over the years.

This post is hard for me to write. He passed away in the fall of 2002 and my birthday hasn't been the same since.

We were very close my whole life. When I was one my parents divorced and we moved in with my mom's parents. My Mamaw and Papaw.

They both put a lot of energy into making sure my brother and I had a happy childhood regardless of the circumstances, but for my Papaw it was extra important because he grew up in a broken home himself.

I always liked to eat and so did he. When I was little he would be out late some nights, well past my bedtime, but I would stay awake and wait for him. Then when I heard him come home I'd sneak out of bed and meet him in the kitchen for our traditional "midnight snack" where he'd make something like tomato crackers and a huge mess which would inevitably send my Mamaw over the edge. She hates for other people to make a mess in her kitchen. But we didn't care. We were hungry and it was fun, for both of us.

When my mom and step dad married I wasn't quite ready to leave the only home I'd ever known. I split my time between the two houses and I'm just now beginning to understand how inconvenient and frustrating that must have been. Especially for my mother. It made me happy then that I could do it that way, but now I've really come to appreciate the lengths my family was willing to go to in order to make my transition as smooth as possible. None of that stopped me from having a complete meltdown when I did finally make the move. Papaw hid in the basement while I packed all my stuff because he couldn't handle it.

But so, this week is about my birthday and he always made it as special as possible. When we lived there he would wake me up singing (alternately) the birthday song and "good morning to you" to the tune of the birthday song. Throughout the day he would always remind me it was my day, singing and acting silly for my benefit, to make me feel special. I ate it up and that just egged him on more. Andy sometimes gets annoyed with my never ending birthday celebrations, but he can thank Papaw for it. It's really all his fault.

As I got older he was still there making it as big as he could - buying and grilling steaks or marinating and smoking chicken for thirty or more people. All because it made me happy. All to celebrate the day I was born.

And then he was gone...

That was a huge disappointment for my whole family.

Papaw was a quiet man and he didn't speak often. When we all got together he would usually just sit and watch everything happen. He loved his big family and reveled in having them all around him. One of my favorite memories I have of him is how he would wait for everyone to show up. We always gathered at my grandparent's house (still do) and he liked to be there when we arrived. He'd put a lawn chair at the top of the driveway and sit and wait, but he inevitably feel asleep in it, sitting up, before anyone drove up. You'd drive around the last turn and see him, head slumped to the side in slumber, but he was there waiting on his family to come home.

His passing was just so unexpected and there is still a big void there when we're all together.

We all have our times when we miss him the most and for me it's my birthday. Every year since my 21st birthday I get excited for the buildup and then once the day arrives something is missing. It's him. I still cry every year when I read the card from my Mamaw and his name isn't on it.

This year won't be any different, but I'll still smile and celebrate my day. I'll do it as much for him as I do it for myself.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

(Birth)Days of Yore

Like I said, my birthday is a big deal. At least it is to me & my parties were an even bigger deal. They weren't a privilege they were a necessity, as far as I was concerned.

Let's take a walk down memory lane and relive my birthday parties!

One: Of course I don't remember this one. I've seen pictures. I'm pretty sure there was a bunny cake (how appropriate) and cupcakes with jelly beans. My hair was a complete mess. It was a lot when I was about that age, in snapshots and professional pictures. I guess combing my hair wasn't a priority.

Toddler years: I can't tell you about specific parties. I know there were a few at McDonald's. McDonald's was a big deal and I loved having my birthday parties there. They did cakes then and they were truly disgusting, but I thought it was the best thing ever!

5, 6, 7: These are a blur as well. I started having "friend" parties once I got into school. I loved being a hostes and sharing my special day with my girlfriends. I remember one in particular, I think I was 8, I had a giant party at my house with something like 12 girls from school. One of them, let's call her S, was always kind of a little snot. Some days she liked me and some days she didn't, but I invited her to my party anyway. I don't remember what she did, but she made me cry at my party. Seriously, kids can be ass holes. All my friends were outside playing on my swing set and I was inside having a childhood meltdown over something S said or did to me. I didn't invite her to any of my parties after that. We were never close...

8: Oh! My eighth birthday. I was in rapture over The Little Mermaid. I wanted to be princess Ariel and I often sang myself to sleep with "Part of Your World." So I asked for a LM themed cake. Of course my mother obliged, she didn't say no a whole lot especially where birthdays were concerned.  That was the year that bakeries discovered whipped topping, you know, like cool whip flavor. I hate cool whip. They iced my cake with it and didn't tell us. I guess we didn't get an option because they clearly thought it was fabulous. The candles were blown out, the birthday song was sung and the cake was cut. It was nasty. HUGE disappointment! Luckily we had cupcakes leftover from my party at school so my mom put candles in those & I blew them out while everyone sang the birthday song to me again. Can you say spoiled?

9 & 10: I get these confused. All I know is that somewhere in there my mom took me and as many little girls as she could fit into her Chevy Nova to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My brother went too and took a friend. We were way past max capacity in the Nova. Also this was the age of New Kids on the Block. I asked for their tape (ya, that's right, cassette tape) and a boom box to go with it. The Christmas before Josh had gotten this huge boom box. Like the kind you saw people carrying around on their shoulders in the movies. That's what I had in mind, but I ended up with something much smaller and with inferior speakers. No matter, I still played the crap out of that NKOTB tape.

11-15: These were the years of sleepovers & giggly pre-teen and teen games. Usually I would go out to dinner with my family or have cookouts at our house and then I was allowed to have some girlfriends over for a night. For some reason I didn't want huge parties when I was this age. I find that odd since I've always liked to be the center of attention.

16: This was the first birthday that I knew Julie. She threw me a party at my house. It was supposed to be just friends, but my mom refused to do something separate for my family and insisted I invite them too. It was totally lame. Not because of Julie, but because my mom made me invite my family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, younger cousins. Sorry mom, I love my family and all, but I was 16 and that was not cool. Family isn't cool at 16. I ended up leaving my own party to go walk around walmart with my friends. Why walmart? Because that was the most exciting thing there is to do on any given night in my hometown. Still is, except now they have Kohl's too.

17: At 17 we revived the big blowout party. Cooking out and cake and so many people at my parents' house that we had to eat inside and outside. Good thing my birthday is in the spring. I think this was the first year of cooking steaks for my party. Yes, I said steak. My grandfather thought my birthday was just as big a deal as I did and he would have nothing but the best for me. So starting a few months before my birthday he started buying steaks. Whenever he found them on sale he'd stock up and by the time my party rolled around we had enough to feed everyone. And I have a big family. He also did bbq chicken a couple years per my special request. He made the world's best bbq chicken and he couldn't tell me no even if it meant getting up at some crazy hour like 3 am so he could start the whole process because he had to go to work the same day as my party. Spoiled or loved? You decide. 17 is also the year I got my license. I was terrified to drive so I put it off as long as I could. My big present that year? My Jeep. The very same Jeep that died last year in my car crash. Moment of silence...

18: I decided I was too old and mature to have a birthday party. A cake was fine and some gifts, but I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. I also had just started dating Andy and decided that I'd rather him take me out that night than spend it with my family. My mother didn't let on, but I'm sure this crushed her. Andy was very sweet though. He brought me flowers and gave me a copy of Patch Adams, the first movie we watched together. Then he took me out to see some awful Madonna movie and were were both sorry we wasted the time and the money.

19, 20, 21: My 18th birthday was a hard lesson. I had a nice time, but I missed the hoopla. More cookout parties to celebrate my birth! I loved it. I was completely too old for such big birthday parties and I knew it, but everyone obliged me and my birthday falls at that point past Christmas where we all start to miss each other again. So it's like a family reunion/birthday party. For my 21st birthday my friends snuck into my room at college and decorated it with purple streamers. They also bought me a cake and waited inside my room for Andy and I to get back from my birthday dinner. We had gone out to one of my favorite places which happens to have fantastic carrot cake. I said I was thinking of getting a piece and Andy told me he didn't think that was a good idea. He, of course, knew my friends were waiting with cake and a surprise party, but he couldn't tell me. He came up with all kinds of excuses for me not to get that carrot cake until he finally sacrificed himself and said, "You've been saying you want to lose weight, so maybe you shouldn't get the carrot cake."  I didn't get the cake, but if looks could kill we wouldn't be married right now. Bless him.

22: I went out with my friends to a local restaurant for this one.  They told the waitress it was my birthday and she made me stand up in a chair while she announced to the whole place that it was my birthday and then everyone, my friends, the waitstaff, the patrons all sang to me. She also gave me a giant brownie with ice cream except that I had given up dessert for lent that year. So I didn't eat any, but I sat and watch all of my friends take a bite. Torture.

23-27: At this point I have mastered the art of stretching my birthday out as long as possible. While I love having a big party and seeing everyone together for my day, it's just one day. These last several years I haven't done a party. So since my family and friends know how special my birthday is to me they make a point to celebrate with me. Just not all together. That leads to several birthday lunches/dinners out, multiple cakes/desserts, and lot's of present opening opportunities. It's pretty awesome!

Up next: Twenty eight

Monday, March 29, 2010

Birthday Week Extravaganza!

April 3, that is my birthday. In case you don't have a calendar near you that would be this Saturday.

Each year I get obnoxious about my birthday and I insist on celebrating a whole week. Sometimes I like to try to stretch it out for the whole month of April, but as I've gotten older less and less people humor me. Imagine the nerve!

So anyway, it's my birthday week! Yay me!

I've decided to celebrate on my blog, so each day this week I'm going to post about me - my favorite subject.

It's only fitting that I start with telling you about my actual birth, but I don't remember it. Pesky newborn memories and all, they don't stretch very far. So instead I interviewed the next best person, my mom.

Joanna: What was my due date?   
Mom:April 15

J: So I was early. I don't think I knew that. Did you think I was a boy or a girl? 
M: I thought you were a girl. But they told me you were a boy.  
J: Because girls are totally better. What were some of the names you were considering? 
M: "Joseph Ezra"  That was the only boy name.  Girl names: Jordan   -  Jerusha  -  Joanna all with the middle name of Raye.  Your Daddy's suggestion was Mary Margaret.  Since all our names started with the letter "j"   so was yours!
J: You know how I feel about Jerusha. Thank goodness you decided against it! How did you finally decide on my name?  
M: I liked Joanna - She was one of the ladies in the bible that went to the tomb of Jesus on Easter Morning.  Your name had to be in the bible because Joseph, Julia and Joshua all are.
J: I think that's a fitting name since my birthday often falls around Easter. It was meant to be! How long were you in labor? 
M: I felt bad on Friday,  didn't eat much.  Pains that you could count about 10:00pm on Friday the 2nd.  Your were born 3:36 or 32?  AM 
J: I've always preferred morning to night. Who was with you in the delivery room?
M: Your aunt Pam, some nurses & Dr. B
J: What do you remember thinking (if anything) when you first saw me? 
M: Oh how beautiful and you had the yuky white stuff on you.  How wonderful to have a baby girl to go with my little boy.
J: How long did you stay in the hospital?  
M: I think 'till Monday
J: What did Josh think of me?  
M: He liked you until you started the crying.  He wanted to take you to the dump. You hurt his ears.
J: I had forgotten that story about Josh, I hope you wrote it in my baby book. What did I wear when I came home?
M: A pink one piece outfit with matching blanket.

J: Am I your favorite? (It's ok to say yes, because it's my birthday week.)
M: You are my favorite girl.  And will alway be my baby.

Always the diplomat, my mother.

Stay tuned! More about me to come tomorrow!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Project 365, week 12

Alternate title: I didn't leave home all week.

March 20-26

Story of my life

Spring, day 2

Spring, day 3
We. Are. Messy.

Just so darn loveable
Homemade pizza concoction



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring has definitely sprung...

Spring in the mountains is a complete adventure. Every day keeps you guessing.

The first day of spring, Saturday, was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining and birds were chirping. I even opened the doors and windows to let in a little fresh air.

Sunday came with sun in the morning. Then the clouds rolled in and the temperature cooled off and it was back on with the heaters and long pants.

Monday. Oh Monday. Guess what happened Monday? It snowed. From noon until early Tuesday morning.

I've been told horror stories of snow in June. We haven't been unlucky enough to experience that so far, but this past winter was so harsh, what with the constant never-ending snow fall,  it wouldn't surprise me at all, but it might be my undoing. If it snows in June the nice men in the pretty white coats might have to come and take me away.

On a positive note I've had a sinus headache for three days now. Oh, that's not positive?

I love spring, really I do. I was born in the springtime. My birthday is coming up in just over a week. Nothing pleases me more than seeing the daffodils bloom because that means my own personal holiday is just around the corner. Let the celebrations commence!

How is your spring so far?

P.S. I've added two new pages to the blog. There is an about page and a page for my book reviews so I can do them at my leisure and not have to make them a whole new post. Enjoy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Meet Susan

Here is her blog.

She writes about her life as a wife and a mother to her precious little boy Owen. Owen is almost one! Shortly after he was born Owen was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1 or NF 1 for short.

On May 8th there will be a walk to help raise funds and awareness for NF 1. Donate, walk, send messages, say a prayer for Susan and Owen and others families touched by NF 1 or any condition or disease. I'm sure this family and many others will appreciate any kind of support they can get.

I don't think it's asking too much for children to grow up as children and not have to deal with something like this. The best way to battle childhood illness is to be aware of it and face it head on.

Check out Susan's blog and try your hardest not to fall in love with Owen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Project 365, week 11

Week in pictures March 13-19

Home with his luggage

7 pm & still daylight. Foggy & rainy, but daylight nonetheless

Be vewy quiet! I'm hunting wabbits!
Treasure chest. No map needed

Chillin' like a villain
Deer meets headlights

My windows are open

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

I hope you're wearing green.

The leprachans hope so too.

Have a happy & safe St.Patty's Day!

(P.S. Ten years ago today Andy & I had our first date. Ten years!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Man finally made it home...

Andy's plane was supposed to land late Friday & he should have been home just after midnight. That is not what happened.

Friday afternoon he called to tell me he was at the airport waiting to board. Not too long after that he called again to tell me one of his flights had been delayed because of bad weather.

The original trek home was supposed to go like this: Salt Lake to Denver to Cincinnati to Greensboro

The Denver flight was delayed which meant they would miss their connection in Cincinnati.

No problem, they were going to fly him from SL to Dallas and then to Greensboro. (Are you completely confused yet?) He would get in later, but only by about two hours.

Again, he called me and told me that wasn't going to work because the flight in Dallas was all ready full.

So the newest plan was for the airport to send the weary travelers to a hotel for the night and then get them on a plane the next morning. Their new flight pattern: SL to Atlanta to Charlotte.

Ok, fine I could survive for one more day without him. Saturday morning they got to the airport bright and early again & all was well. They made all their flights and happily landed in Charlotte just before 5.

But the drama did not end there.

Their luggage had been sent to Greensboro which is where they were originally supposed to land. Apparently the woman in the Charlotte airport was very rude and instead of offering to have the bags delivered she told them that if they wanted their luggage they would have to pick it all up themselves.

Andy. was. ticked.

They retrieved the luggage from the Greensboro airport and he walked in the door at ten thirty Saturday night.

Brunswick, Milton and I are very happy to have him home and he's happy to be here. Even if it took some effort to get back.

As a reward for making it all the way through his tale of woe here are some photos from his trip. & they are in the order they are in in the file because I have no idea what order they should be in.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Project 365, week 10

Week in pictures March 6-12

Goodbye my love

Grass! & Sandals!!

Salads are great, but I miss my oven


Ladies lunch



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Roller Derby!!

This morning I had my hair cut. It was long over due & my previously cute, sassy cut had morphed into something that resembled a Zac Efron do. Not good.

So I went in for a trim, or chop. However you want to look at it, but my hair cut isn't the point of this post.

I was talking with my hairdresser & she mentioned that she was going to join the local roller derby & her first meeting was tonight. Roller derby? I didn't even know we had one up here. One of my high school buddies, Heather, has recently gotten into roller derby & I've been very envious of all her posts on facebook about what a great time she's been having. Plus I've always loved to roller skate, so it seemed like something I'd like to attempt.

I met Kari (my hairdresser) at the local skating rink tonight at 6 and together we began our roller derby journey.

Here are my observations from the evening.

  • I was a little intimidated because derby girls are tough & I thought I was walking into a well established group of skaters. I was wrong.
  • The league is brand new. Right now they are just trying to drum up enough interest to form solid teams. Once that happens things will move forward into training for derby.
  • When we got to the counter the lady (probably in her mid 70's) asked us if we wanted speed skates or regular skates. We asked her the difference. Her answer: A dollar. 
  • Speed skates are not at all like regular skates. They have four wheels and "brakes" on the front, but the similarities stop there.
  • I used to be really, really good at roller skating. It's kind of like riding a bike. You know, as far as staying on your feet and going in a circle. The other stuff? Not so much.
  • The RN that works for my gynecologist was there. I asked her if she was there for the derby and she said, "Oh yeah! I'm totally going to do it!" I can't decide if that's really cool or slightly creepy.
  • About an hour in two older guys showed up. They were kind of odd. One of them kept cutting me off & they were both dancing around to the music. It was very creepy. They weren't there for derby. The would have been super creepy & I would have immediately found my way to the exit.
  • I met another girl there that works for my orthopedic surgeon. I never met her at the doctor's office, but she told me they still talk about my crutches. Awesome!
  • Skating is hard work
  • Not at all like running. I was completely unprepared
  • But I'm totally going back & I plan to peer pressure some others into going with me.
That about sums it up.

Andy is a little concerned for my safety, but his choices in activity aren't exactly perfectly safe. After all I've lived through I think I can handle a few scabs and bruises.

I'm going to go crash now. Tomorrow morning isn't going to be pretty.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lili's first birthday

I meant to post these yesterday, but my laziness got in the way.

I made the cupcakes & smash cake for the party. They turned out alright. I haven't had a lot of practice, or any practice, making flowers, so some of them came out a little wonky. Also, the icing was too thin so that was another problem. Once I got it all done I was pleased. I'm calling it "whimsical."

The giant mess I made decorating
Smash cake (w/ Lili's initials)
She was excited
Testing the waters

Video of the event:

The carnage

Veronica only likes the icing

After she opened her presents

She loved her glow worm from Nana & Pa
She jumped up & down so much I couldn't get a clear picture

& she loves her big(gest) brother

Baby & daddy

Me & Mamaw