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October 2016

September 2016 entries

Yankee Candle Kind of Night

For the past few nights, we've had obligations after school -- from rehearsals to Ellie's new basketball team, we've been busy.  As much I love being busy doing the things I love, I notice that now that I have a home I love, I want to be there more often.  Gene and I spent the weekend working on the house, and little by little, we are getting it looking really nice. 

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We were those stereotypical suburban homeowners at Lowe's on Saturday, buying mini-blinds and mums.  

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But once the school week started again, so did the hectic schedule.  (Although, if I am honest, I was also busy with musical auditions this weekend!)  On Monday night, I stayed up until 1:30 AM to get caught up on essay grading.  (And if I am still being honest, I have 56 blog posts to grade, too.)  

I love that the kids and I have hobbies and classes that we are involved in.  Ellie is so excited about basketball

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Liam loves soccer, and Aidan and Ellie are both doing fun things at the theatre.  I am going to be in a short musical in the black box space named after my friend Jason in October.  

All of these activities are worthwhile and gratifying.  

But. 

I love Yankee Candle nights.  You know, those nights when you are just home and settled, having dinner and simply being together.  The house came with two candle holders mounted to the wall, and I placed jar candles in them and in other locations around the house.  When we are going to be home for the night, I light candles, and the house smells amazing -- lemon zest in the basement; hazelnut coffee in the kitchen; ocean walk in the bedroom; warm cinnamon in the bathroom.  And while I try to be a bargain hunter for just about everything else, I do splurge on Yankee Candles (and by "splurge," I mean buy them on final clearance) because generic candles don't smell nearly as good. 

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It truly is remarkable what a difference having a happy home can make.  The kids love this house, and they love being here.  We have made so many happy memories here already, and I am excited to see what the future holds for us all.  Hopefully, we have many more Yankee Candle nights ahead of us.  


Not about My House

I was struck today by the audacity of someone to outright misrepresent the truth, as they presented a situation as completely the opposite of what actually happened.  I am not sure why I am even surprised, especially because this particular person has displayed a blatant disregard for the truth and reality for months now.  Nonetheless, I found myself surprised when I heard that this person had decided to tell an outright lie about a situation that I know the details of.  

Now, full disclosure here:  I am not perfect.  Because of this, I try to refrain from judging others on a regular basis.  In fact, I've been told by more than a few different sources that I can be too nice.  (This is hilarious to me, because at the same time, I've heard I'm "too assertive" and "too confident" and "too outspoken."  So, there you go -- it just goes to show that nothing will ever make sense when it comes to people.)

I do understand SOME of the motivation behind this person's bald-faced lie.  It's more important to them to save face, to avoid embarrassment, and to appear to have the upper hand at all times.  I get that.  I don't condone it; I pity it.  Understanding why a person does or says something is not the same as accepting it. 

What else I cannot accept is for a person to willingly lie, to smear another person's name, to damage someone else's reputation.  What can be gained by lying?  If the recipient of the lie actually believed the lie,  it would be worth it, I suppose?  But, the opposite has been the case time and time again in this scenario.  Lies are told, lies are dismissed; lies are told, lies are not believed.  So, I just have to wonder:  Why continue to tell lies?  If you are actually hurting your own reputation by lying over and over again, then it makes more sense to stop lying.

I suppose where this all falls apart is that I am operating on a faulty premise, on the assumption that people want to make sense.  But, if we are dealing with people who aren't logical, people who thrive on controlling others, well then . . . we can't expect them to make sense.  

This begs the question:  what should be done when others spread vicious lies about us?  Aside from wondering about the mental process of people who lie (as this blog is evidence of), I have come to a very sound conclusion about what do to with someone who wants to lie about you:  Absolutely nothing.  

Absolutely nothing.  That's right.  Nothing.  

Think about it -- such a response will speak for itself, and the truth will shine through on its own.  The person smearing your name and lying about you will prove themselves to be irrational and untrustworthy.  You will continue on, proving yourself to be rational and trustworthy.  When you play into the manipulator, you become part of what they control.  Why on earth would you want that?  

Many years ago, I survived a horrible situation in which a woman with a vendetta against me tried everything she possibly could to tear me down.  Guess what?  It didn't work, and the result is that I am pretty difficult to intimidate.  My priest at the time advised me to consider myself lucky to experience this particular woman's attacks at such a young age because I would would be better off for it in the long run.  And he was right:  time and experience has taught me not to engage with the irrational people in the world.  Instead, I chose to focus on my family and my loved ones and my career -- the rest will speak for itself in time. 

Happy

 


On the Range

As in "Home, Home on the . . . "

Somehow, we have managed to paint yet another bedroom and move the rest of the furniture from my old house to the new house in a week's time, all while going to school and juggling all that comes along with the weekday demands.  

Ellie and Gene transformed her bedroom from a light mustard yellow to the aforementioned "Blackberry Jam" color.  While it went on a very bright purple, the end result dried a beautiful "country purple."  

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Gabrielle is my little artist, and she loves "DIY" projects.  She was in heaven, painting alongside Gene.  And, of course, she was also her normal, entertaining self. 

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Somehow, I even ended up being part of the paint job at one point.  

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After we added a second coat, we moved Ellie's bunk bed/desk combo into the space and she has been busy organizing ever since!  Ginger seems to approve . . . 

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In addition to getting the boys' rooms organized, we also worked on the family room in the basement.  Gene found this gorgeous set of furniture for the space, and the kids absolutely love their "kid cave."  Before, their toys had to be in their rooms, and the result was a pretty cluttered mix of toys and sleeping materials.  With a playroom/family room in the basement, their rooms can be dedicated to a restful night and the playroom can be dedicated to fun and creativity. 

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For the first time, I have cable TV in my home.  I haven't decided if I like that or not yet.  We haven't used it much yet, and time will tell if it's worth the cost or not. 

 

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And, as much as I usually hate winter, I am really looking forward to using the pellet stove in the basement when the weather turns colder.  There is an unfinished part of the basement as well, which I use for my office space, a laundry room, and storage.  

I know I said this in a previous post, but again tonight as Liam dozed off, he told me, "Mom, I really love this house.  I love the basement especially."  Well, OK then!  

It occurred to me today that Gingersnap hasn't used a leash in about a week.  She loves the yard, for sure. 

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And, it really started to feel like home when Gene brought me roses: fresh cut and a rose bush that we planted today in the yard. 

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Another friend stopped by with this beautiful arrangement on Friday, which I added to the "library," which is what I am attempting to name the front living room which houses the piano and bookshelves.  

 

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If it weren't for Gene and the amazing people that I have had come over to help over the past week or so, there is no possible way this house would be in the shape it is in.  

Please forgive my string of homeowner posts.  I promise to move on and write about something other than my house soon.  Or, at least I will try! I have just been so enamored with the idea of starting my life over fresh with my children in our beautiful home that I was able to secure for us.  The house we had before was nice, but nothing compares to the independence of owning a home and the freedom of a fresh slate upon which to write the rest of our life story.  


Making a House a Home

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One of the larger bedrooms in the house was bright pink when I bought it.  Gabrielle immediately decided that it was PERFECT for her, and the fact that the girl who used to live in that room is also named "Ellie" sealed the deal.  Until I pointed out that it wasn't really that fair to make the boys share a smaller room, and that pink isn't even her favorite color . . . wouldn't it be fun to pick out her own paint for her room?  Yes, yes it would.  

So, off to Lowe's we went.  Aidan fell in love with "Neptune Blue" while Liam kept playfully picking out colors that looked more like baby poop or vomit just to annoy his older brother.  We went with Neptune Blue.  Ellie, on the other hand, selected "Blackberry Jam," a pretty shade of purple, for her abode. 

Last night, while I handled getting the kids to various locations (meeting their dad, theatre class, soccer field -- you name it!), Gene started painting the boys' room.  And by "started," I mean Gene painted the boys' room.  It looks awesome!  

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This weekend, we will move in their furniture.  Tonight, we paint Ellie's room (she really wants to help, so we made her room last), and eventually, I think I may paint my room, too.  One step at a time!

And if I had any doubt about moving, it has completely vanished -- just this morning as Liam woke up, he told me, "I love this house!" The big kids also like walking to school, and they are realizing how many of their friends live nearby.  We all love the yard and patio as well.  Especially these two!!! 

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Off the Planet, I Fell

I have to apologize, dear Readers.  I seem to have fallen off the planet a bit lately.  I promise I have lots of good -- no, GREAT reasons why.  Here's an overview of what I have been up to!

  • I told you a little about the trip to VA Beach.  I loved every minute of that trip: it was the first of many family vacations Gene and I plan to take with our kids (and hopefully next time his son Kyle and his family can make it!), and it really was everything a vacation should be -- relaxing, fun, restful.  We can't wait to go back! 

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  • After our trip, we headed back to school . . . and then it was time to celebrate Liam's 6th birthday!  It seems like yesterday that I had little Liam in a whirlwind delivery that took 17 minutes.  Actually, now that I stop to think about it, that description matches Liam's childhood so far.  He truly is a whirlwind -- he is full of energy and creativity and charisma.  He is naturally very funny.  Here's an example.  Tonight at dinner, we were talking about a time when he was really sick and had his blood tested.  Liam said, "They took my blood and never even gave it back."  And, on the way home, he tried to tell us that his "tongue is getting smaller" because "it can now fit in the empty area where my tooth used to be."  He's a wordsmith, for sure.  He had a blast at the birthday party we had for him at Hoopla's.  Liam's ticket total was over 3200 by the time he was done for the night! 

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  • And, in typical "let's make sure everything happens at once" style, a few days after Liam's birthday, I closed on a house that I have been in the process of getting a mortgage for since July.  After the divorce, I decided I was ready for a fresh start in a new home.  We had been renting for years, and every time buying a house came up as an idea, it just never really happened. After searching through houses in town in my price range, I found the absolute perfect place for the kids, Gingersnap, and me.  It's on a corner lot with a fenced-in yard.  There is a finished basement and beautiful hardwood floors throughout the upstairs rooms.  I love it. 

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I am in a crazy place in life -- there are boxes all over the place, I've got essays to grade, the to-do list grows exponentially by the hour.  AND YET!  And yet!  I am entirely happy and feeling blessed beyond measure.  I have the incredible support from a man who is truly a partner in my life: from reserving the place for Liam's party to coordinating my move, Gene is my constant source of encouragement and love.  He understands when I need to get work done for school and is wonderful with my children.  I honestly can't imagine my life without him.  He is patient and hard-working and generous. And, his son Kody helped me move this week, on one of his few days off work. 

I also have amazing children who have been resilient and positive through so many changes this past year.  They have embraced our new lives with enthusiasm, and they look out for each other.  I know moving isn't easy, even when it's a few miles away, and I've been so impressed by their optimism.  

I have the best friends in the world:  one of my very best friends just moved to California to live with her husband who just finished his Navy deployment on Monday, and even when her life is changing drastically, she still takes the time to check in on me.  Another friend is a retired teacher and gave up hours of her time today to meet the internet and cable tech at my house so I didn't have to take off from work.  I have many others who offer help and who have my back at every turn.  

I have, hands down, an amazing family.  My parents are loving and encouraging, and they have been incredibly supportive this past year in particular.  I am so glad that my family and I are so close -- from my parents to my sister to my aunt and cousins, we are tight-knit bunch. 

So, I hope you can see that I had some pretty good reasons for not blogging on a regular basis.  I wish I could say that I will be back at it with consistency now that the move has started, but truth be told, we have to paint the kids' rooms, move the rest of the boxes from the other house, clean the other house -- all while maintaining my usual school responsibilities of teaching and grading. . . oh, and I am directing "White Christmas" at MAHS this year, so I have musical auditions next week. I will try my best, dear ones, to carve out time to write.  

After all, 

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Families Take Lots of Shapes

This past weekend, we took the kids to Virginia Beach for a Farewell to Summer vacation.  Gene has family in VA Beach, so we stayed with them, and we even survived a tropical storm (the locals weren't even phased).  We had an amazing time, truly.  We spent two beautiful days on the beach and Boardwalk, and we went to the Aquarium on the rainy day.  We had a lot of really good food, and I loved the chance to meet Gene's family. 

Not surprisingly, Gene's cousins are wonderful, loving people.  I found it really impressive that one cousin had recently asked her ex-husband to move into her house because it was best for him.  I don't want to reveal any personal details, so I will leave it at that.  As someone who is recently divorced and navigating the new waters of families and holidays, I found it reassuring to see a couple that could clearly move on without holding on to bitterness or anger. 

I fully believe that it's not healthy to hold on to any anger or bitterness in general, and after the end of a relationship in specific.  My approach to my own divorce has been to focus on my children and their future.  Rehashing the past is a moot point.  When a relationship is over, it is over.  But, that doesn't mean that families end.  

Instead, I believe that families can take different shapes.  There is enough strife and stress in the world -- family should be the last place on earth to find more of it.