Brought to you by the letter “F”

Fascinating.
Fickle.
Firstborn.
Feminine.
Fierce.
Finicky.
Fun.
Fashionable.
Foolish.
Free-spirited.
Fabulous.
Funny.
Feisty.
Fearless.
Four. IMG_4242

How far we’ve come in 4 short years. It seems like it’s flown by and yet like you’ve been a part of our lives forever. There are more words than I have the time to say to describe the fascinating little person you are. Four years ago, you were ushered into this world in quite an over the top fashion – a 12 minute c-section is far from ordinary. Then for 2 hours you cleared your lungs but you didn’t make a peep. There’s an idea that you enter the world crying from your past life. I’ve said from the start that that means you’re a fresh little soul. Maybe that’s why everything seems like a learning experience with you. You barrel through life wanting to see and experience everything. You’re fast and opinioned and ready to take everything head on, and everyone better get out of your way.
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You are my mini-me which means we butt heads – A LOT. It also means I understand you and the way your mind works. You are a true joy when you aren’t being a pain. You dance and giggle and chase bubbles and butterflies. You love to make your sister laugh and snuggle with me and your daddy. You are so smart and clever. You say little things that just make my heart smile. You are really just the most wonderful little person. I love the free spirit you continue to develop as you grow. IMG_0052

You are also extremely ornery and strong willed, and you make being a parent very, very hard sometimes. You fight and push, and I know that you will be able to harness and use these traits to your advantage someday, but for now, it makes our lives hard sometimes. Some days I wish I had a receipt so I could return you. Then, you lay on the couch and tell me about the pokemon you found and have stuck in your pocket or who your new Tsum Tsum is on your game, and I remember why I keep you around. You really are the gentlest soul inside a sometimes rugged exterior. I know all too well how it feels to have too many emotions to handle, and I’m sure it’s even harder when your four and can’t properly deal with them. I know that’s why you scream and cry and cause a scene in a grocery store. There’s just too much for you to deal with all at once. It will get easier. I promise. I’ve been there. IMG_4105

You are a true balancing act to deal with every single day. It also the greatest privilege to be your mommy. I love you and look forward to watching you and your mind grow as you learn and experience more of the world. I promise to protect you from all the evils in every way that I can, and to teach you love and compassion towards everyone. Be you. Be(You)tiful. I’m sure you’ll tire of hearing it, but thank you for picking me to be your mommy. It was what I was born to do. I wished and hoped and longed for my own baby, and I was lucky enough to get you. Thank you for being my dreams come true. Happy fourth birthday to my sweet baby bee. IMG_4262

 

The day of love <3

Here’s the thing. I love love. I think the world needs a lot more of it. I think it conquers all. I truly believe that Beatles were right when they sang, “All you need is love.”

And February 14th is a day created to celebrate all the love in our lives. Sure, it’s morphed into a horrible, money obsessed, Hallmark holiday, but the core of the day is still there.

As a kid, I liked Valentine’s Day. You made cards for the whole class and everyone got a valentine. Then in the 4th grade, they quit making us give the entire class cards, and I began hating the holiday. It was just another popularity contest in my opinion. It made me sad cause I hardly got any cards from anyone. Then in high school it became about what your boyfriend sent you at school and date dances which made me feel like a complete loser because I never had a boyfriend or a date to dances. In college, I had a boyfriend and we did the gifts and stuff and it was great. It was nice to know I had a valentine for the day. For Valentine’s 2010, Josh even went as far as to buy me a puppy for Valentine’s Day. Maisy will remain the greatest valentine gift I’ve ever received.

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But still, I don’t know, it’s never been a holiday that I get all giddy about. Until, Valentine’s Day 2013. Yes, it’s just another thing that’s changed since I’ve become a mom. I love Valentine’s Day now that I have a little valentine. I get to dress her up each year and make Valentine’s with her each year and share sweets with her.

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The thing about this holiday now that I’m a mom is I realize it isn’t about getting the flowers or diamond from a boy. It’s about love. My world has been grounded back into the true meaning of the holiday. This is a whole day dedicated to feeling and sharing the greatest gift anyone can ever have – to love and be loved. There is nothing more important than that. It’s hard having a toddler who destroys the living room you just cleaned on a daily basis and who doesn’t understand inside voices yet. It’s hard having a spouse who’s gone for 10 hours a day. It’s hard to remember to stop and pet the dog or cat between baths and books and bedtime. Its hard not to just give your husband a quick peck on cheek and go to sleep at night.

And so, on the calendar, there is a day – a day I mark with a heart every year and then I go through and add birthdays. It’s a whole day dedicated to remembering why you do the things you do day in and day out. To remember that you love that loud singing toddler who’s kicking toys at the sleeping cat more than anything else on this planet. A day to stop and snuggle the puppy and to let the cat lounge by your head in bed. A day to spend dinner with your husband talking to each other about whatever you want because there’s no toddler in a high chair to have to try and keep happy at the table. It’s a day to stop and be thankful for the ones you love and be even more thankful for the ones who love you. Granted, it’s something you should stop and do that every day, but life, unfortunately, gets in the way of that more often than not. So I love that little reminder on the calendar each February.

I hope everyone out there had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! I know I did. I’m gonna focus on trying to bring the hearts and love into my life more often. Cause “love is all you need.”

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Old Leather

Leather.

I have always wondered where these weird year associations for anniversaries came from. Last year, it was cotton. Year one was paper. This year we are on the leather anniversary. Leather. I don’t know if there’s anything less romantic that leather. It makes me think of bikers. And Leatherface.

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Hardly romantic.

It also brings to mind cows which makes me think of cows saying “Moo” which makes me think of Maisy.

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Again, hardly romantic. Moo.

So leather. I had a tough time making some sort of cutsie connection with this one. And it bothered me all night. So, I did a little research. See I honestly don’t know much about leather other than it comes from cows, it’s used to make couches and purses and coats, it shrinks when you got hot (at least according to Friends and Ross’ leather pants), and football helmets used to be made of it. So, here’s what I’ve learned about leather: it’s tough. It’s more difficult to puncture than you might think, and it outlasts most synthetic materials. It doesn’t often show wear and softens with time, but it stays strong.

So, actually, it’s exactly like a marriage. It’s rough and sometimes it hurts, like breaking in new leather boots, but once you’ve stuck with it awhile they get comfy and become your favorite pair of shoes. The wear of time actually makes it better, just like a marriage. We’ve made it through the hard times (they do say the first year you’re married is the hardest) and now we’re comfortably coasting along. Life is gonna throw us curves, but we’re still tough and ready to go. And all those rough spots, they don’t show much. They’re in the past and we’re moving full speed ahead. Plus, a few blemishes here and there adds character.

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So, moving past the weird leather idea, I’m excited to go forward into our fourth year of marriage. Three has been a good year for us. Our baby has become a toddler. Our house has become even more of a home. Jobs have come and gone. New jobs obtained. Foundations for future plans have been laid.

I think this next year is going to be a fun and exciting year full of lots of new things. We’re looking into and working on finding a house big enough that we can continue to grow our family. We’re starting to save for the future. We’re trimming the fat, sorta speak, when it comes to crap around our house. We have some big decisions to make as we move into the next big step together. We are going to be making decisions that will ultimately decide the next 20 or so years of our lives. It’s scary and exhilarating, and I am so lucky to have my best friend by my side.

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Josh:

You’re the peanut butter to my jelly.

            The mac to my cheese

            The raviolis to my nap

            The beach to my ocean

            The Joker to my Batman

            The companion to my Doctor, or

            The Doctor to my Tardis (depending on which Doctor)

            The Hedwig to my Harry

            The Mr. Darcy to my Elizabeth

            The Rhett to my Scarlett

            The Andy to my Conan

            The Spidey to my Gwen

            The chimichangas to my Deadpool

            The bag and board to my comics

            The flip to my flop

            The grump to my grumpy

            The Rory to my Amy

            The oreos to my milk

            The Beast to my Belle

            The personal flurry to my Olaf

            The Gabba gang to my DJ Lance

            The Walmart to my dinner date

            The Bonard to my Hazel

            The Oob to my Flerm

            The gay sparkly vampire to my lack of expression face

            The Ross to my Rachel –no, wait…

            The Chandler to my Monica

           The Tony to my Pepper

           The Coulson to my Skinny Steve

           The Banner to my Hulk

           The Geek to my Nerd

           The Wario to my Baby Peach

           The MUCHISIMO to my BIG AS THE UNIVERSE

           The  Murder Song to my “damn Disney song”

           The Jericho to my Bellini

          The daddy to my mommy

          The Pooh Bear to my 2nd Grade

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I love you, Joshua Neil. Thanks for picking me. ❤

Glimmer of hope

The past two days have been filled with sadness. Has anything happened in my life? Directly? No. Everyone is happy and healthy and thriving. We are beyond lucky for these simple yet oh so precious things. The sadness has been a shared sadness with people I haven’t ever met. We share a very deep and common link: we are parents. And as parent, we love our children so fiercely that it hurts sometimes and we can understand and feel the ache for one another when a child is lost. 

What if it had been my child? It easily could’ve been. Just this evening, Ellabelle was running around the driveway while I looked on. She could’ve easily stepped off of the curb at exactly the wrong time and my story could be that of a momma grieving on instagram. In a matter of two days, over 20,000 people have reposted and shared her loss (#redballoonsforryan). We can’t be there with her, but we can let her know she’s not alone. It could’ve easily been one of our children instead of her sweet, wild-haired 3 year old that stepped off that curb.  

Uncertainty is the scariest part of parenthood. There are so many things out there we can’t control. Here is this perfect little human we made and when their body turns on them its scary because theres absolutely nothing you can do to help them. Ellabelle has had allergies since spring started trying to make its arrival. My heartbreaks for her when she’s upset and hurting because of the congestion. I can’t even imagine the agony of watching your child fight something as awful as cancer and knowing there was nothing you could have done to prevent it or to cure it. There’s a video making the rounds on Facebook about a sweet little boy who recently passed who was huge WWE fan. The video alone reminds me why I still have such tremendous respect for the WWE as a company and as a whole. They made this little boy so happy when there was so little to be happy about. Again, people who don’t know each other reaching out to help one another in a time of need, in a time of grief. And you don’t have to be a WWE fan to appreciate the kind acts shown in the video. If you have a heart, it will touch you.

go here. watch it. grab tissues. well, you may want to grab the tissues first. then watch it. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2053642-wwe-releases-tribute-to-young-fan-connor-the-destroyer-who-passed-away

These stories have made me cry, but they have also brought me hope. The world is such a dark and scary place most of the time. These little rays of human compassion that sneak through from time to time remind me that not everything and everyone in the world is bad. There is good out there. People still care about each other even in a disconnected digital age. Most of us will never meet these grieving parents, but their stories have touched many of us and have made us better because of it. 

Because of these two sad stories, I have tried to focus less on stress and more on happiness. It’s been a rough couple of days for us personally. I feel like everything has been falling down around me, and then I realized its not that bad. It sucks, but it’s not that bad. I can’t control what happens in life. I can only enjoy what time I have been given with the people I love. Thats why I let Ellabelle run around in the driveway tonight. And why I let her steal my cup and drink all my pop. It’s also why I took lots of video of her these past two pays. I just want to soak in all of her that I can because I am lucky enough to be able to. So hug your babies. Call your mom. Give your dog a treat. Whatever it is that makes you happy, be happy they are still here.

I am an awful cat

First of all, an observation about cats. They are fucking crazy. That being said, humans are even crazier because we take them in and love them and think we can change them and then continue to live with their douchebaggery even when trying to change them fails. Cats do what they want, when they want. They can jump to astonishing heights, are born with weapons attached their hands and feet, and they fit places they really shouldn’t be able to. They are born killing machines. Luckily, cats are also extremely lazy. They’d rather lick their butts than actually get up and do anything.

So, that being said, I have decided that in my next life I want to come back as a well taken care of house cat. Perfect life. Anyways, here are my two assbags, if you haven’t met them: IMG_1203 IMG_1944

Jericho, the blonde one, is mischievous and eats off the stove every chance he gets, open flames be damned. Bellini, the tabby, well, he’s special. He talks to walls, chases his tail, and darts out of the room for no particular reason.

So, our cats, like many cats, bring us their nightly “kills” and leave them around the bed. Being indoor cats, these “kills” vary from stuffed mice to dog toys to kleenex. It’s a big production too. They don’t just leave it for you and go. They yowl at the top of their little kitty lungs from the point of the “kill” and continue yowling until they reach the spot they plan to drop the “kill”. Then they stand in place and make sure you know that they brought you that “kill” and once you make eye contact, they drop it and come over for their praise. And you better be ready to praise them or else they will get angry. I don’t know if this is normal for all cats, but for my two it is a nightly thing.

So, as I was wandering around the internet like I do, I stumbled upon this little diddy: Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 6.39.00 PM

And I realized that it could be right. I mean, I do feel super special when Jericho brings me “kills” (after I’m done being annoyed by his loudass meowing). I always thought it was because he loved me. And when I say he loves me, I mean he’s a full blown momma’s boy. IMG_1963

Jericho will love on anyone who gives him attention, but I’m still his person of choice. So, I thought it was a token of his love. But maybe it really is because he’s afraid I’m going to starve. He picked me to be his favorite not because I’m loving and I care about him. No, he picked me because I am the scrawny hairless cat and clearly the other hairless cat (Josh who is 1ft and 200lbs more than me) is having no problem at finding food. I can’t jump, and he’s never seen me give myself a proper cat cleaning. He feels bad for me (which still may be too much credit of emotion for a cat, but still). I’m the sad wounded bird that fell from the nest and Jericho is wanting to nurse me back to health. IMG_3551 This theory, even if it is from the internet, makes much more sense than a cat being loving. Cause like I said, cats are batshit crazy. They know like three emotions: hunger, annoyance, and apathy. And based on the fact that cats clearly think they are superior to everything else on the planet, the fact that he’s helping me, and not vice versa, makes so much sense.

And I’m cool with that. I’ll take it. I can handle being an awful cat. It still makes me feel special. IMG_3571

Goodbye, Whitewood

Home. The word by very definition means, “One’s place of residence.” It’s not nearly as romantic as one would hope. It’s pretty simple. It’s the house, the four walls and a roof, that you live in – that is your home. There is one thing about the definition that I love – how open ended it is. And this girl loves the space for an intelligent discussion. What does residence mean? And to throw another definition at you, “the act or fact of dwelling in a place for some time.”

Ok, on with my point – lately I’ve been trying to figure out what home is, where I can find it. And it gets a little confusing. Sometimes I feel like I have too many homes, and, by definition, all my homes qualify as homes.

Every little kid draws a house fairly similar. It’s always a square with a roof, a door, maybe windows of varying shapes, and maybe some sort of plants. When I was little, this was a home.

And it’s kinda funny. Besides that chimney being on the wrong side and the lack of accurate window placement and other exterior adds such as porches, garages, and car ports, it’s my house. It has the bushes that were always out front on both sides of the door, the giant tree to the left, and the curved sidewalk. It looks like a very simple version of the building where my bright yellow room resided (granted it was probably seafoam green with rainbow ducky wallpaper at the time I drew most of these). That is home. For 19 years, it was my place.

NKU is my home. I lived there for three years. I lived, ate, and breathed the Residential Village my last year. That place – it just got under my skin and sunk into my heart. It’s special for lots of reasons. I learned new things everyday. Somedays it was simply not to ever eat anything from Commons “salad” bar. Other days I learned things much more valuable like how strong I could be and just how much I could handle. I found myself there. I found friends there. I found Josh there. NKU will always hold a special place in both our hearts. To this day, making the turn of Alexandria Pike and coming down the hill, it still causes my heart to skip a beat when the school comes into view. NKU is definitely our home.

Columbus became my home. I lived there for 10 months all by my lonesome. I became a “grown up” in Cbus. I paid my own bills. I did my own grocery shopping. I did my own dishes (when I had to). I loved my tiny apartment with my two little kittens who terrorized me at every turn causing many call to Josh, who was still at NKU, “Josh, Bellini won’t leave me alone!” or “Josh! That freakin cat is on top of the cabinet! What do I do?!” That tiny apartment became too tiny when the big boy moved in and we added a small dog to the mix.

We moved into a 2 bedroom townhouse literally right up the street. I loved that townhouse. I keep wishing we still had it. I think part of the emotional attachment to that place has to do with the fact that it was our first home as an engaged couple and then as a married couple. I planned our wedding in that townhouse. We started planning our life in that townhouse. It was where our roadmap started. I planned on eventually decorating the spare bedroom in pink or blue. We only lived there a year, but the attachment we both still feel to that place makes it seem longer. Well, Josh and the cats lived there a year. I lived there only 8 months before I got a job in Cincinnati. I lived with my parents for the first months of my marriage while Josh remained behind.

I miss the front patio with the sliding glass door that the cats used to meet me at when I got home from work. I miss our little kitchen with all it’s storage space. I miss the closet under the stairs filled with crap. I miss our pretty little bathroom and my walk in closet I didn’t have to share. I miss having stairs! I miss our tiny yard, and my flowerbed. I miss the lake being right around the side of the building and watching Maisy constantly try to chase the geese. I miss the stop sign where Maisy always went to the bathroom. I miss how pretty and green it all was. I miss the feeling it gave to me, that townhouse just breathed in and breathed out, “Home.”

Columbus is our home. I think it’s so special because it brought so many new things to our lives. I went to law school there. I found my puppylove there. I got engaged there. We explored a city foreign to both of us, so completely different where we both came from. Columbus is magical. It’s electric. It’s alive. It’s clean and gorgeous. We never got to go to a Crew game. We didn’t get to go to half the restaurants I wanted to go to. We never did a gallery hop. I miss walking around downtown, exploring the different foods at North Market, visiting Tuttle, and so on and so forth.  (I don’t miss the Buckeye fans though).

And then, home became West Chester. I love our little “manufactured home.” It needs a lot of upgrading, but it’s our home. I like that we don’t have to worry about maintenance people wondering into our house randomly. I like that we live in a quiet neighborhood. I love our bigger living room and kitchen and having two bathrooms. It’s where I brought a baby home. It’s Ellabelle’s 1st home. It’s where all her big baby firsts took and will take place.

One thing I don’t like: West Chester. I hate the way most people in West Chester act. They walk around with their noses in the air and act like their entitled to something because they spent a fortune on their cars and their homes. I hate little women in big SUVs who can’t pull in or out of parking spaces at the grocery store. I hate the politics and the entitled brats that run around. I hate the traffic. And, oh god, I hate that effin train. I hate trains. This city has made me hate trains.  But I love my little home on Basin Street.

So, my point, saying good bye to the physical building that was my home for 22 years (the phone number is still listed as “Home” in my contacts) is hard. All my childhood memories are in the building – putting on shows in the living room while my dad turned the tv up over our music, playing hopscotch on the tiles in the front hall, being a band under the carport with brooms, refusing to go into the basement for any reason, having to go out in the backyard to paint my nails, being scared that demon from The Exorcist was living in the attic after I watched the movie freshman year. It’s where I learned the importance of family. It’s where I got my heartbroken on many different occasions. It’s where I realized my daddy and I love each other better if we aren’t under the same roof. It’s where I had my birthdays and Ellabelle’s first christmas. It’s where Angie learned to walk, and we both rode our bikes. It’s also where I fell off my bike and refused to ride it ever again. It’s where I was when I found that both of my paternal grandparents had died. It’s where I learned and loved and became a person. It’s where I grew up.

Thankfully, I’ve realized something as I’ve gotten older. This is a pretty obvious observation, but it’s one that takes time to really understand. Your home isn’t a building. Yes, there are memories and marks inside a building that has been your house that draw out those warm fuzzy feelings from inside you, but those memories are yours forever. I’ve also learned something about my home that I never imagined could be a conclusion about a home: your home can be a person. I didn’t realize this until just recently. It makes sense my home was with my parents and with my sister. It wasn’t the brick house on the first side street to the left. It was them. And now, my home is Josh and Ellabelle. Josh has always said that I live in his heart, that I had to clear out a bunch of mayonnaise to make room for me. And as weird as it seems, I think that’s true. I live in him just as much as he lives in me. If we’re together, that’s all that matter.

When someone becomes your home, it’s scary. It’s a huge risk just like when you buy a new house. There’s just no inspector for this type of home. You have to trust your instinct because when someone becomes your home it’s like your soul stretches and contorts and connects to their soul. You’re fused together in a way that seems to be un severable. That’s why break ups (both between friends, family, and significant others) hurt so bad. It’s like the stitching has been ripped open and the wound that is left from that person absence is just left open to bleed and fester. Ultimately, you sew yourself back up, and you find someone else to attach onto. That doesn’t mean the other person is just forgotten about. There is still a scar left from where the stitches didn’t heal right. And that’s how I like to think of my soul: covered in scars and battered with Josh attached to one side, Ellabelle on the other, my parents attached to the bottom as my foundation, and Maisy’s little bitty piece snuggled up close to the middle.

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So, thank you, Whitewood, for being the place where my family could build memories. Thank you for being home to two messy little girls and loud (still messy) teenagers. Thanks for the slumber parties you held and parties you hosted. Thank you for letting Maisy hide bones all around you. Thank you for being the place where Josh experienced his first “real” Christmas. Thank you for being the staging area for so many big things – dance recitals, first and last days of school, graduations, a wedding. Thank you for all the good memories you contain. Thank you for being our home.