Friday, July 31, 2009

Serves Me Right!

Notice anything different on that last post? Photo seem a little... to the left? That's what I get for bragging. Well, if everything else in my life is changing, then the picture placement on this blog can too!

Take that, blogger. Can't get me down today!

ZERO Unread Emails

This is coming from the girl who generally averages around 200 unread emails. Whenever I get under 200, I become very proud of myself. Drives B nuts.

So, when I figured out I could get through my entire account and end up with ZERO unread emails, I jumped at the challenge. Want to know how I did it?

That's right. I changed my email address. Oh sweet empty inbox, how I love thee.

Granted, changing my email had some issues. (Note to Younger Versions of Me Out There: Don't put your last name in your email address!) First, I had to sync accounts to redirect my old emails. Then I had to export and import contacts. Then I was so damn proud of myself that I wanted to come post a braggy blog on here and realized that I couldn't get in with my new account. So I logged on under my old account and it booted me off my email. Who's on first?

So I finally figured out how to change my admin email in blogger (go me!) and am happily posting from my new email account onto my same old blog. Couldn't be happier. Happy Friday to me!

"We Can Offer You 3.9%!"

Called my old credit card company today to add my new last name. She got me all taken care of, then said, "You, Mrs. K, if you ever need money, you can call us. We can advance you up to $12K at 3.9% if you're ever making a big purchase or need to pay something off."

Seriously? Do people take advantage of these offers? I take out 12K at 3.9%, then obviously can't pay it back at the end of the month (hello? if I could, why would I need the money?), so I get hit with credit card late fees that go up to, what, 25-ish%?



I keep getting emails from Broderbund, "Quality Software Trusted by Families for 25 Years," and I had no idea why. Just deleted them and moved on with my day. Today I finally clicked to remove myself from the list and was taken to the site-- that's where B purchased Dad's typing tutor program, Mavis Beacon.

Brought back happy memories of Dad typing away late at night. That's where B found him to ask for his blessing to propose, and where Mom tracked the weird sounds of mooing cows and meowing kittens, the tell-tale noises of a key misstroke.

Farewell, Broderbund! Thanks for making my Dad so happy...

"A, how many words can you type a minute?"

"Um, I don't know Dad."

"I'm up to eight. That's pretty good, huh?"

"That's awesome, Dad."

Last 524 Rent Check

That's right friends, today I paid the last rent check on my Birmingham apartment. So exciting! It's not that we won't ever pay rent again (though hopefully we won't pay TWO rents ever again), or that we won't pay rent in Birmingham ever again (though I'd rather pay a mortgage!). Rather it's that we won't pay rent for my apartment ever again.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great apartment. I'm 7 minutes from work, which is amazing, and have plenty of space, which is great. It's more that I inherited the apartment from my big brother (again, no biggie). So we've been in it for 7 years. With no carpet cleaning or paint. And a rent total that I don't even want to think about. I'll just say that when I first figured it out for my own sick pleasure, I had the decimal one too far to the left and I STILL was aghast at what we were paying. Imagine my shock when I refigured those numbers.

So that's that. It's somewhat poetic (and humbling and bittersweet...) to hand over my 30-days notice and my final rent check. The apartment has great memories: Fauxgiving with friends, Thanksgiving in 2 hours or less, bagged-salad dinner-in-a-bowl roomie nights, and the great wasp invasion of 2008. It's where I lived when B and I got engaged, where I found out that my dog died, and where I have very real memories of my parents, namely Mom yelling out from the bathroom "I'm just going to clean your shower! I'm already in here!" and Dad, at least during Todd's tenure, dutifully vacuuming the carpet every time he came to visit.

I lived here as an intern and celebrated here when I landed by first job. It's where I poured over bridal magazines and airfares to go visit B in faraway minor league ball parks. I've hosted friends, family, and friends of roommates. Speaking of roommates-- I've had three, all of whom rotated in and out in the course of three months.

524 is where I learned to make a layer cake with only one 8-inch round pan, first tried my hand at Mom's recipes like pot roast and meatloaf, and spent way too many sunny Sundays watching America's Next Top Model.

It's where I painted a picture of my first niece, tried my hand at Indian cooking, and dipped approximately 700 pretzel sticks for wedding favors (B: "what are you up to?" "STILL DIPPING PRETZELS!!").

The apartment has, at times, been covered in resumes, clips, red wine (ooph, poor carpet), confectioner's sugar, wedding magazines, bills, moving boxes, and clothes, drying on every doorknob and inch of molding around the doors.

I've loved this apartment. It's where I dreamed about marrying B, talked to Dad about finances, and addressed wedding invitations long-distance with Mom. Thank God it isn't smaller-or portable-or I might just try to fit it in my scrap book.

We're ready to move on. To let someone else come in and experience the slightly dingy magic of 524. But it is nice, when looking forward, to pause and look back. Even better that I can look back and know that my three-and-a-half years there have been happy, joy-filled years, in spite of the little setbacks, growing pains, and heartbreaks that befell the path along my journey.

While I've given 30 days notice, we're actually moving in about 22. Bring on the good times of 103! Just let me hold on to the warm fuzzies of 524 for a while longer.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eep! Spilled the Beans!

Just informed the bosses (intentionally, of course) about the upcoming move to Jacksonville, Florida. Wow. Becoming very real! Granted, this is one whole move away, as we're still moving to Durham in about three weeks. Big talk to happen Monday. Prayers appreciated. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Newlywed Moment of the Day

Just tried to search "chicken" on our website and instead typed B's name. In front of my former boss. Definitely time to go home.
It does remind me of when we first starting dating. I knew I liked him because, in psych 101, I kept writing "B" instead of "Brain." He loves that one...

Newlywed Moment of the Day

Delta just updated my SkyMiles account with my married name. More and more official!

Reliving Days

I got the call yesterday that my wedding bouquet had finished preserving and to come in and pick out the frame I'd like it displayed in. Mom found Ever After, a Birmingham-based preservation business by calling around the country. Who knew they were in our own backyard? Part of me wishes we'd gotten the moms flowers in-- they do these super cute little Christmas ornaments that would've been a great way to save a tiny piece of the wedding without it overwhelming your home. I also loved seeing all the other bridal bouquets-- so fun!

It's hard picking out a frame that will eventually hang in a house that I have no idea what it will look like or really what our style is. Did that even make sense? You get what I mean. I had fun talking with the lady though and hearing her tips and advice. It'll be fun to have it as a very real reminder of the big day. What amazed me the most is how light it is now. Water is heavy!

I was a little apprehensive going to the store. After all, the day I met Mom there to drop off the flowers was the day Dad died. On the way over, I had to calm myself down several times (thank God it wasn't a Tuesday!) and assure myself that if I cried the lady would probably just assume I was some girl having wedding withdrawals.

I'm continually amazed at how much I miss Dad, how much I'm reminded of him, and how interconnected the daily ongoings of my life are. Who would've thought that the mind would sync everything from "that day"--the time, day of the week, dress I was wearing, place we had lunch--with Dad's death and, moreover, Dad himself. Sorry, Homewood Gourmet! And yes, there's a good chance that dress will go out with the other items I'm purging from the apartment. I went to the hospital in that dress, wore it to the funeral home as we prepared the services, and pulled it close as we walked the available plots at the cemetery.

It's no surprise to me--I'm materialistic. Not simply in a shallow way, but in a way that I assign strong emotional reactions to the clothes I'm wearing. Shoes? No biggie, but I can tell you what I wore on my first date (ever) and which dress I chose for almost every birthday and big event in the past several years. It's no wonder my closet at home is filled with old bridesmaids dresses and prom get ups!

The flip side of that is that I also assign positive emotions with things, like my bouquet. So while it may be daunting for a few years as we move around ("Where do we put this?"), I know that I'll love it when I'm settled in a house and remembering how it was once stuffed with mini marshmallows to bait the kiddos.

When I get it, I'll post pictures. Should be about three weeks!

One Day Fewer

Yipes! Meeting with big bosses just got moved up to Monday. Put on your prayer hats at 2pm central! What? You want to know what to pray for? How should I know! Just pray!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Holy Moving Day Countdown, Batman!

Um, I'm moving to Durham in 24 days. 24 days! In that time, I need to clean the apartment, pack, pass on unwanted furniture, figure out what to do with the wedding presents credit from speciality stores, figure out if I'm keeping my job, possibly find a job, celebrate the anniversary of the proposal (August 3rd!), and say goodbye to all my Birmingham friends, at least for a little while.

That said, who wants lunch? Seriously, people. Sign up now!

I haven't had this kind of countdown since pre-wedding. Wild.

Moving On

Today I'm cleaning out my calendar, starting with the stickies that still remain taped on the front from the wedding. They list each day, starting Friday and spanning until Wednesday and cover everything from confirming the makeup lady to printing ceremony lineups to updating my benefits at work. Farewell, post its! I meant to take them off earlier, but, after Dad died, it felt somehow weird. Too final. I'd rather hold on to the "just married" feeling, thank you!

Tossed duplicate copies of bills and contracts, basically the skeletal reminders of the details of our wedding, at least on paper. Thankfully, no funeral arrangements or obit copies tucked inside. Odd, as I had my planner with me on both occasions.

The planner is still too fat and needs to be purged of a few items (old bills to be filed, gift receipts to be collected upon), but it's better, and it's a first step. To be honest, this is the first week where I've felt mentally aware and together, which is good as I'm moving down my to-do list, and bad, as I'm realizing all that I need to do by, literally, Friday.

But my planner is clean(er). For today, that'll do.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rifles, Skeet, & Burgers... Oh My!

That pretty much sums up our Saturday and, I have to say, it was wonderful! But don't let me get ahead of myself.

B and I started the weekend on Friday afternoon heading for the Summit, where we planned to check out our knives, which we planned to buy online with Williams-Sonoma credit. They were originally over $2,000 (yipes!), marked down to $999. The only reason we considered them was because it was a block of 22 knives that included the 8 steak knives we already had (about $400 total), so if we returned those and rebought them with the block, we'd come out way ahead on our knife set costs.

Obviously we wanted to be super sure, so I took B to try them out in the store. Turns out they don't have them in the stores anymore because they're no longer carrying Henckels. The lady looked in their inventory and said, "How much are these knives online?" We told her they were listed at $999. She replied, "We're separate from our online division and we have them listed in stores for $240." For the exact knives we wanted! Including the 8 steak knives, which we'll return now that they come with our set and get $400 of credit. This is crazy!

Long story short, do you need knives? Get thee to a Williams-Sonoma!

Off the soapbox now. We headed home, happy and heady from our first big-kids purchase and celebrated with a dinner of (leftover!) steak, shrimp, mashed potatoes and red wine. Great end to a fun week!

We got up early on Saturday and headed out of town with B's coworkers for a day "on the farm." I've been "on the lake" and "to the land," but never "on the farm." Turns out "on the farm" is country code for a kick ass day of gun shooting, four-wheeler riding, and some of the best burgers I've ever had (save B's bacon cheese burgers, right sweetie?). We shot some skeet, learned how to fire pistols, and generally had a great day of chair-sitting and chatting. Such fun. We were sooo filthy when we got home!

We got my car serviced (60K miles... ooph) then got to shopping for cars for B. Fast forward to about 8:30 and I am hungry, cranky, and dehydrated (you'd be dehydrated too if you'd spent 8 hours someplace with no bathroom!), so B made the informed, wise decision to take me to Jim N Nicks for loaded potatoes, cheese biscuits, and sweet tea. Perfect.

Sunday we got up and headed to church, then made a big brunch of eggs, bacon, and biscuits (nothing like cleaning out the fridge and pantry to lead to huge meals!) before doing a little more car shopping, apartment packing/cleaning, and laundry. We met up with my brother and his family for a fun night at a local pizza place where the kids eat free on Sunday and the arcade games are free. It's like built-in babysitters! The kids got to show B their new bedrooms, which they loved, and we all got a good dinner, which made everyone happy.

B & I got home in time to take a walk before it got too late, then make two big batches of cookies to thank his coworkers for Saturday. Anyone need cookies? We seriously have four dozen leftover. Hilarious. I LOVE my standing mixer, as it made the batter super quick to make. Huge fan!

Overall it was an awesome weekend and one of the first that B and I have had together, at home, alone, with nothing pressing we had to mark off the list. We had such a blast and I'm so cherishing these few weeks we have together in my apartment before we head up to the new (third!) home of our marriage. We're having so much fun-- I just keep getting reminded how lucky I am to have B in my life. So blessed!

A few things still got to me this weekend. Dad wanted me to get my car serviced this Spring, so finally doing it reminded me so clearly of his sweet hints, suggestions, and near bribes. I got sad again on Sunday after seeing my brother and his family. No real reason, I think they just make the memories more real, and bring the hurt back to the forefront of my mind a little. I'm thankful for it, really, as it helps me remember the little things about Dad. Oh, and throwing away the peeps he bought me for Easter. Damn sugary reminders!

Overall, great weekend, even with the little pangs of bittersweet memories.

Newlywed Moment of the Day

On gchat on B's first day at the new firm...

B: Do you know my blood type?
Me: I do not. Does work need to know that? I don't even know my own!
B: We should find that out.

Bring on the blood-letting lawyer jokes!

Friday, July 24, 2009


Feeling blahish today. Want to be outside, not ready to leave work, and would basically rather be home with B eating Girl Scout Cookies, our MO for the past week. Some call it the "wedding weight waiver," we call it "cleaning out the freezer."

It's true, we're moving. Not that this should be a shock. After all, B has one year left of school and we've already moved twice, so what's one more time? We'll be pulling up the anchor in less than a month. Wow, three weeks really. Hm, maybe we should work on cleaning out other parts of the apartment...

I started packing last night, if I can call putting things I don't want in a box "packing." I have a feeling it'll take a few rounds. For instance, four cookbooks survived the great coffee table purge of 2009, but do I really want to pack up, pick up, place, pack up, move, and place again those four books in the next year? Watch it or I'm going to leave here with the clothes on my back and one huge bag of shoes.

Had dinner with my brother last night and he was telling me about my niece who did not inherit my curls but did get my love of all things clothing. Apparently she told her mom, "Nana P always puts me in the same clothes. I have plenty of clothes hanging in my closet upstairs but I have to wear these all the time." Also, "I need new jeans. These don't have enough pockets and they're not comfortable. We've talked about this before." Did I mention she's three?

This exchange prompted me to tell the story of when I took an entire suitcase of shoes on a vacation. In fairness to me, it was an Alaskan cruise, so I needed hiking boots, tennis shoes, fancy shoes (for formal dinner), sandals (it was summer after all), and... hm. Not sure what else I needed, but I do know I brought ten pairs. Oy. At least some things do change!

B and I are looking forward to a fun weekend in town with a little knife set shopping, car browsing, and an afternoon at one of the lawyer's properties outside of town where, I'm told, there will be 4-wheelers, fishing, and "shooting." I can't wait! B laughed that I could out fish him for sure and could probably out shoot. I'm doubtful, but it should be fun.

Look at that. This is what I love about writing. I start off "meh" and end up more motivated and excited about getting work done and getting out of here. Bring on the weekend. Bring on the next three weeks. Bring on my "big talk" with my bosses, happening a week from.. Tuesday? I think... Regardless, bring it on! And when you do, bring dinner, because I have no idea what we're going to eat tonight...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Little Reminders

I'm out of the office tomorrow for a photo shoot. Went to turn on my "out of office" assistant and the last message popped up:

"I'll be out of the office until Tuesday, May 19th..."

That was from the wedding and honeymoon which a) means I've been lax at using my OOO assistant and b) the day I expected a new life to begin. It did, and it's a wonderful one, but it's also a different one in a very unexpected way.


B and I are thinking about cruising to our five-year college reunion in May in a motorhome. Found this gem listed among the (massive!) price list:

Security Deposit:
Minimum $1000 *Refunded within 4 days after coach is returned in the same condition as when rented. NASCAR Event Security Deposit is $2,500.

"I didn't steal it; I just borrowed it."

CNN covered the 43 worst responses to interview questions in a recent article. My favorites:

What are your hobbies and interests?
"[He said] 'Well, as you can see, I'm a young, virile man and I'm single -- if you ladies know what I'm saying.' Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, 'I particularly like blondes.'" - Petri R.J. Darby, president, darbyDarnit Public Relations

What kind of computer software have you used?
"Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don't have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it." - Greg Szymanski, director of human resources, Geonerco Management, Inc

What are your assets? (as in strengths)
"Well, I do own a bike." - Pam Venné, principal, The Venné Group

Do you have any questions?
"What do you want me to do if I cannot walk to work if it's raining? Can you pick me up?" - Christine Pechstein, career coach

Maybe Christine should hook her guy up with Pam's...

Dad Memory of the Day

Went to Brio last night with the girls and, as we were leaving, passed the huge bowl of mints by the door.

Every time we went anywhere with mints, Dad would always grab two big handfuls that he'd stick in his pocket. For later, you ask? Hardly. If a one of those mints made it home, or even all the way to the car, I'd be impressed.

Dad could resist anything, except the call of his sweet tooth.

I Want to Quit the Bank!

B and I are consolidating accounts, going with his bank for checking as they're easier to access and manage online. I called my bank today to move funds and ask about closing accounts. Went a little something like this...

Me: So all I have to do is go to the bank, withdraw the money, and then call you and ask you to close the checking account?

Bank Guy: That's right. We prefer to close accounts over the phone, actually. And we'll be able to see that the account is empty.

Me: Great! That's so easy.

Bank Guy: I mean, they will have to give you a check.

Me: What?

Bank Guy: They can't just give it to you in cash.

Me: So no briefcase then?

Bank Guy: Exactly.

Monday, July 20, 2009

To the Water!

B and I worked like mad to get out of town a little early on Friday and it paid off. I left work around 3 and headed to Sam's to get the food for the weekend, which entailed five minutes of grabbing and 10 minutes staring at the meat selection trying to decide on ground beef or packed burgers (ground) and debating between several types of steak (still not sure what I got, but it was good!).

We packed up the car and headed to ATL, where we dropped some wedding presents at his parents, grabbed dinner, and were back in the car all in about 15 minutes. I kid you not; we were motivated!

We ended up beating his friends up to the lake house, which worked out really well as they would've had to break in under the cover of night had they arrived first. After quickly unpacking and squealing over one of his newly engaged friend's fiance's new status and, of course, ring (ok, so that was mostly just me), we packed a basket of wine, beer, and congratulatory cookie cake (that I decorated in the moving car as we wound around mountain roads. Talent, friends) and headed to the screened in porch down near the water where we spent the next few hours telling stories, catching up, and hearing the newly engaged couples' fun tale!

I crashed early that night (if 2am counts as early!) but got up early the next morning (if 10am counts as early...) to enjoy a day packed with laying out, reading magazines, cruising in the boat, and lots of delicious food. Eggs and bacon? Check. Bacon cheese burgers? Check. Steaks with prosciutto mac and cheese? (thank you CWC!) Check! Did you get that? Three servings of pork, two of beef, and one non-meat protein. Riding high, friends.

Prepping dinner was one of my favorite times. We were showering in shifts and furiously working the sauteed corn and steaks, desperate to eat, consume as much wine and Champagne as possible, and still make it to the drive-in, yes the drive-in, on time to see Harry Potter.
After delegating jobs ("you two-- chairs; you two--drinks/food; we'll clear the table; everyone grab blankets!), we piled the six of us into my Murano along with Tater, the non-swimming (just yet) wonder dog, and headed off to the drive in for three hours of cookie cake (yes, we bought a second one), wine, beer, Champagne, muggles, and the great outdoors.

Sunday was another awesome day on the lake. B and I laughed that when the two of us go, Sunday seems like a waste. We eat breakfast, get too lazy to go to the water, pack up, and leave. But this Sunday (I credit the cookie cake), we were anything but hungry, so we headed down to the water for a full five hours of boating, reading, floating, and lazing. Yeah for summer afternoons!

We headed home that evening, stopping by Atlanta to have a fun dinner with his parents. We sat on the back porch of our first married home (it's true!) and caught up with them on their travels, then packed up and headed to our Birmingham home, where we quickly crashed.

The night got punchy toward the end as B started cleaning out my car while I drove. He found no fewer than 100 ATM receipts (deposits, thank you very much), 52 pens, and enough bbq take-out menus to satisfy a family of five. I am so lucky to have him.

The weekend tuckered us both out, but the best always do. We also heard good news that my sister's house sold, which means that all four of us kids will be moving in the span of like two weeks. God help my Mom! Anyone know any good movers in MN, NC, or AL?

Dad Memory of the Day

Dad wasn't big on technology, a point which I could go into for hours and probably will at some point, but recently, he'd just started to text, something that none of us knew.

Now this is the man who, when my Mother called and asked him to look something up on the computer, told her he had to put the phone down and move the lamp because the mouse was out of room on the table.

This is also the man who wanted to learn how to type, so B got him a typing program that he worked on every night. Dad would call me at work and say, "How many words can you type a minute? I'm up to eight." Do the math on that. That's maybe 64 characters, assuming all the words had about seven letters in them. I'm pretty sure the typing program starts you off a little slower.

So it was pretty classic when my brother saw Dad before the wedding furiously punching away on his phone. Dad would type, then look at Todd. Then type some more, then look at Todd. Finally he came up and asked Todd why he wasn't answering his phone. Todd told him he wasn't really answering anything that day, with the wedding and all. Dad told him to check his phone, which he did, and there Todd say, "arent you impressed that I can text?"

Classic Dad.

Dad Memory of the Day

Yesterday marked the two-month anniversary (angriversary? antiversary?) of Dad's death, so it seems appropriate that today I got a belated message from him.

As mentioned earlier, I have 14 saved voicemails on my cell. Approximately eight are from the monkies: one with Ella having a one-sided conversation with Nana (Ok, ok ok ok. Nana, ok ok); one with Alex and Lily singing me "Happy Birthday" two years ago; another of Ella as she carries the phone (and my voicemail!) around the house carrying about her day; another of Alex telling me he's going to "eat all the birthday cake. I mean wedding cake."; one of Lily telling me she's ready to put on her dress and "go to the party"; another from Ella accepting my lunch invitation on the day Sienna was born; another one from Ella reading me a bedtime story; and one of Gabi showing off her new vocabulary "cookie! cookie!" Two were from B, sweet messages from when we were dating or engaged and simply dreaming of being in the same place. One was from a financial advisor. Another from a girl at work giving me directions... you get the picture.

The last one in the phone was Dad. He had this fabulous, random habit of prank calling me (or maybe it wasn't just me...?). It started in college, when he'd call pretending to be my ex-boyfriend asking to speak to B or if I got the flowers he sent. Other times he'd call pretending to be my boss and threaten to fire me for planning the wedding. Frequently he'd call pretending to be B, asking me out on dates and whatnot.

This morning, I was clearing out my inbox (did you read the part about my having 14 saved messages?), and found this gem:

"A? This is Harold K at the law firm. We're going to offer B a million dollars a year with a 10 year contract and the first three years he doesn't even have to come into work. Anyway. Thanks here. Bhbye."

I miss you, Dad. In a happy way, today.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rehearsal Dinner Video

B and I went back and forth about whether to do a rehearsal dinner video. Nothing fancy, just a simple tripod set up. In the end, we decided to stock a camera with battery power and tape and just let the bad boy run, catching what it would, until it ran out of charge or tape, whichever came first. Back then it was such a passing thought, but now I'm so glad we have it!

I hadn't watched the video until last night, but I was missing Dad a lot yesterday so I decided it would be better to watch the video and see if it actually captured any of his words rather than assume it did and be disappointed or assume it didn't and not watch out of fear.

I'll forever be thankful to B's parents' friend, JL, for stepping up to man the camera. He tested it for a few minutes, captured the welcome by B's Dad, and then the toasts from our friends. I owe that man dinner!

As the video starts, Dad is literally in the middle of the frame, and clearly just realizing that someone is tinkering with a video camera. He slowly moves out of the way, navigating the tables, chairs, and well-wishers that flooded the back deck of the golf clubhouse.

Cut to a few minutes later, each time lapse marked by a slightly smaller amount of sunlight in the frame, and B's Dad is welcoming everyone as he introduces his family. Then Dad walks up and does the same, offering a few thoughts about each of his kids and their spouses. It's lucky the grandkids weren't there or we'd have been there all night! B's Dad joked later that he should get back up and talk about his kids again, so when Dad offered his toast later, he actually did say more about B. Love it!

My sister pointed out at the funeral how amazing it was that we might have captured Dad's words on camera. As you watch, you see Dad address each of his kids, calling out what stood out in his mind about each of us. It's priceless really.

I was disappointed at first because as Dad moved around the side of the marble bar so he could use it as a kind of podium for his notes, he almost slips from the frame. For those few minutes, you see exactly half of Dad, less when he's making a joke and leaning toward a few of the tables. I thought it ironic at first, "Even on film, Dad eludes me!" but then realized how much I enjoyed closing my eyes and focusing on his voice. It makes me want to record everyone's voice I love, just so I have it... which might also explain why I have 14 saved voicemails currently.

The camera stops again, jumping to an even darker point in the evening, when B's Dad gets back up and offers his toast to the two of us, a memorable moment that I'll always recall as perfectly sweet, tender, funny, and meaningful. He passes the mic to Dad, who then calls up all the girls in the wedding party to sing Daddy's Girl. While the girls fall out of the frame for this one, Dad doesn't, and I can clearly see (and now remember!) the moment we shared as the girls sang. It was bittersweet-- Dad not exactly grinning, but certainly not quite sad-- as the verses played.
I didn't watch the rest of the tape, turning it off just before our friends began speaking, but the song played in my head the rest of the night, and I'm so glad I watched...

I recall the night that you came into this world.
I couldn't believe the doctor when he said: "It's a little girl."
I said: "Now Doc, you must be wrong. You see I want a boy."
Then he laid you in my arms and my heart sang with joy.

Daddy's Girl, Daddy's Girl,
I'm the centre of Daddy's world.
I know I'm Daddy's number one, For he loves me like I was his son.
(Daddy's Girl.)

I recall the day I took you to a baseball game.
You brought along your baby doll and half its' baby things.
We sat there a-playin' house, while the Dodgers played the Braves.
And ev'ryone in the bleachers looked at us as if to say.

Daddy's Girl, Daddy's Girl,
I'm the centre of Daddy's world.
I know I'm Daddy's number one, For he loves me like I was his son.
(Daddy's Girl.)

I recall the day I took you on a fishin' trip,
You said: "Daddy won't that hook hurt the fishes' lip?"
And you said if they don't get air, those things in the can will die.
So we turned the worms all loose and chased some butterflies.

Daddy's Girl, Daddy's Girl,
I'm the centre of Daddy's world.
I know I'm Daddy's number one, For he loves me like I was his son.
(Daddy's Girl.)

I recall the day that your young man come to call.
Seems like only yesterday, you swam and played football.
But I know the time has come, that I must set you free.
But no matter where you are, you know what you are to me.

Daddy's Girl, Daddy's Girl,
I'm the centre of Daddy's world.
I know I'm Daddy's number one, For he loves me like I was his son.
(Daddy's Girl.)

Groundhogs' Day Thank You Notes

I finished the thank you notes again last night. B finished them last week. I finished them just before the wedding. It's kind of like a backwards lottery.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lost Wedding Reading

Having a discussion with a friend about whether love is ever a choice and it reminds me of the long lost third reading (no relation to the "mysterious third verse") from our wedding:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

~The Velveteen Rabbit

Dad Memory of the Day

After Dad "retired," Mom asked him to take over a few things around the house which, she soon found, forced her to spend more time complimenting Dad than the time she would've spend doing the floors.

It was always obvious what tasks Dad had taken on that day. "Hey A," he'd say, "Don't you think the yard looks the best it's ever looked? Isn't this the best vacuuming job you've ever seen?"

The best came when Mom was complaining about cleaning the pool. It seemed that a lone squirrel had taken up residence in a branch high above the white steps that enter the shallow end of the pool. Every day, that squirrel would sit on his lonely branch and eat nuts, dropping the shells in the exact same spot, staining the white stems a dark chocolate brown and every day Mom would go out with the pool brush and scrub it away.

This routine went on for a few weeks until Dad offered to take on the task of keeping the pool clean. Day one, Dad came in grumbling about the squirrel. Day two, he was shocked that the mess had appeared in exact same place. By Day three, Dad was done.

He walked outside and saw the brown stain and floating nut bits and looked up to see the squirrel still sitting there, still watching Dad, and still eating those damn nuts, dropping them into the water as Dad watched.

Dad brushed by me on his way into the house and returned a few minutes later with, I kid you not, a shotgun. "Take the baby in the house" he told me, referring to my nephew Alex, who was only about six months old at the time. I went inside with Alex and his dad, my brother and we watched as Dad aimed at that squirrel and, I kid you not, blew him out of the tree. He tumbled down, falling just short of the pool and landing but a few feet from the pile of floating nuts and that spreading stain. Lloyd and I laughed so hard that we made Alex cry.

Dad turned on his heels and walked back in the house. "Dad", I said, "What about the squirrel? Mom's going to be home soon." He shrugged and said, "John Wayne never cleaned up his dead."

To this day, no squirrel sits on that branch and no nuts stain the top step of the pool. It may not meet PETA standards, but if you wanted a problem solved (with a shotgun), you went to Dad. Maybe next time I'll tell you how the spray marks from the gun ended up on our deck and patio furniture...

Dad Memory of the Day

"The most important thing is looking good."

Dad Memory of the Day

"The only time I was wrong was the time I thought I was wrong."

Hold Up, July!

I have no idea where July is in such a hurry to get to, but I feel like the month is just slipping through my fingers. On the other hand, it feels like eons since we were on the boat with B's family celebrating the 4th of July. That was a whole move ago!

Today I'm feeling a little sad. Not sure if it's the knowledge that the 19th is creeping up on me again (will I always feel like that?), or the fact that it's a rainy summer day.

I have so many things in my life to be thankful for: concentrated time with my Birmingham friends over the next month, a mini reunion of my high school girls in a month, a holiday trip confirmed with B's family, a post-work party for a coworker, date night with B at our favorite Mexican dive tonight, a trip to the lake with his high school friends this weekend.... I need to try to remember that.

I'm lucky-- B is super understanding, even getting my unspoken clues these days. I told him on Sunday that church made me sad; it was my first time back in that church since we had Dad's funeral there. He laughed and told me he'd figured that, then imitated my pursed lip look that I kept plastered on my face for most of the sermon. "I kept looking around to figure out what was annoying you and I couldn't figure it out," he said. I told him it bugged me to see the communion table where I'd last seen Dad('s body). Too much symbolism. Too much irony, even for me.

I keep trying to remember things about Dad, little things that I'll forget. This weekend I swiped some of his CDs to copy. He loved blue grass, old country, and rousing gospel. Loved. Still hurts to type that.

Mom and Dad were always on the go in Florence, Mom keeping everything running and Dad making his way to the golf course, to one of the offices where he worked, or on his (I kid you not) daily trips to Wal-Mart. So most of the time I'd call Mom on her cell, then hang up and call Dad. I haven't dialed him yet, but I definitely get the finger itch to try.

This weekend, while we were in Florence, I had wanted to go see Dad's grave, just to spend a few minutes talking to him, but every time we went out or were coming home, tremendous rain poured down and I wondered if it wasn't God nudging me as if to say, you can always talk to him. Sitting on that specific plot of sod doesn't make a difference.

I thought today about giving in to the number 19. My wedding ring has our wedding date on it, and Dad's big thing with me was jewelry, so why couldn't I get something engraved with 19? Then I realized how terrible that would be, to remember Dad only by the date of his death. How do you remember loved ones? By their birthdays, instead? Still learning.

There are so many wishes that I have... that I'd fixed his radio when the face had somehow been set to "night," that I'd spent time with him the morning of the wedding just sitting, that I'd told him how great he looked in his tux (because he would've LOVED that), that I'd made sure he knew how much I loved every bit and piece of the wedding...

There are so many things that I'm thankful for... that he walked me down the aisle, that we had a real conversation about the our father/daughter dance and what he wanted, that I'd gotten his cell phone replaced when his old one kept losing power, that I'd listened when he told me how his typing tutorial was going ("How many words a minute can you type? I'm up to eight.", that B had asked his permission to propose, that the two of them shared that secret for two months over last summer...

Some things still hurt. I went onto Amazon to purchase something and realized that Dad's Father's Day present was still sitting in my shopping cart, where I'd placed in back in April. I left it, and my other purchases that day, there, just as I'd found them.

Today, I'm thankful for B, for my friends, for a warm work environment, for the promise of grace and peace and understanding, and for the knowledge that I'll see Dad again, someday. For now, I miss him and pray that he somehow hears me and knows.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dad Memory of the Day

One Christmas several years ago, Dad unwrapped a gift from Mom to find the book, "Just Like Jesus." Dad turned to look at us and said, "Hm, I wonder if Jesus woke up this morning and got a book titled 'Just Like Lloyd.'"

Wedding Presents, Fried Chicken, & Pina Coladas by the Pool

B and I took off early on Friday to head to Florence for a "business" trip. We went under the guise of sorting out wedding presents and changing the title on my car, but really we went to hang out with Mom and enjoy being home during the summer.

I love Florence in the summer. The air (though thick and muggy) welcomes you to dive right into the pool headfirst, then head for the bar for a drink or fresh lemonade. Sign me up! Seeing kids "summering" in Birmingham makes me wary-- they're hanging out at the malls and shopping. Our summers were spent playing ball or wearing ourselves out on the lake. Can I go back? If my kids live in Florence, they can have the summer off. If they're in the city, they can get jobs. No lake access, so what else have they got to do?

We celebrated getting the title changed with a trip to Trowbridge's for ice cream, then headed home to unwind before getting dinner at Turtle Point. It was great being home if only to get a glimpse into Mom's world. The rest of us kids got to go back to anonymous living, where people let us (at least outwardly) move on, so we didn't have to be reminded of Dad at every turn. Mom's at home, where the memories are there as well as the well-meaning (and much appreciated!) friends who also miss Dad and want to share their memories with Mom. Grieving, I've decided, is exhausting!

Saturday, I got up early to get a haircut, then got to work with B on tackling the wedding gifts. We broke for lunch, heading to Sweet Basil's with Mom then hanging out at the pool for a few hours before a pasta dinner at Ricatoni's. We came home and watched the wedding video (LOVE! Thanks, Al!), then B and I dove into the wedding gifts, sorting out the keeps from the returns. Some returns are hard to part with, but we comforted ourselves with the knowledge that we will rebuy the items with our credit, it's just that we can't fathom packing and unpacking them multiple times over the next two years (at least five, the be exact).

Sunday we went to church then grabbed lunch at Turtle Point before breaking out the packing tape and boxes to start filing all the gifts away. Two hours later, B and I headed out, a little sweatier (from the lifting) and a little heavier (from the extra boxes in the car), but happier to have done all we could that weekend.

I was happy to have a few tasks this weekend, the first visit home after the funeral. I took comfort in knowing that Dad wouldn't have been up there among the wedding presents with us, but my heart literally ached in church when I realized that the communion table was sitting right where Dad's casket had been only seven weeks earlier. I told B later that Dad would've loved making a joke that he could only be replaced by Jesus himself.

My stomach still knots and tears still come, but I'm glad that home is a welcome and soothing place, one where we can celebrate memories but not drowned in the sorrow of losing them.

Wedding Video

My bridesmaids rapped on my wedding video. I kid you not. I think B was confused, and I was laughing so hard I almost cried. I love my friends!

Getting On Top of Things

Two steps forward, one step back...

Tried to change my name on my credit card. Turns out, you need to go to a Banking Center to show your new ID and get the forms. The nearest to me is 100 miles away in Georgia. I do not believe you, online FAQ-- there must be another way!

Social Security office was a breeze, until I got to the DMV and found out that the Social Security office had only given me the cover sheet for what I needed. The actual form was awol. DMV lady says, "Those people can't change a name to save their lives." Asked her if she needed said form. She said no, further proving that much of this paperwork is really more busy work.

Went to the DMV the next day (Did you know you have to wait 24 hours between a Social Security change and a DMV change? System updates, my friend.) Waited in the five minute line only to have the girl invalidate my current license then realize that she couldn't issue me a new one. "Do you have something going on?" she asked me, raising her eyebrows as she looked at her screen.
What? What does that even mean? No jokes at the DMV, lady! She sent me over to see the administrator, who had me wait 2.5 hours (Can't leave, no license!) to tell me that the problem was my maiden name is too common. Five minutes (plus 2.5 hours plus five minutes) later, I was finished.

Activated my new Healthcare Savings card, only to have it be rejected at CVS (sorry B!).

Tried to activate my new credit card/debit card on B's account, only possibly to have deactivated B. How's that for a "thanks for marrying me!" moment?

I think I have it wrong. One step forward, two steps back... right? That's more like it!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

60 Days, Same as Cash

B and I have hit the two-month mark (Happy Anniversary, B!) and he still isn't looking to trade me in. Yea! Granted, when I told him that a few weeks ago, he said, "Of course not, sweetie. None of the newer models have the same features." Aww. Cute. Compare me to a car or lose me forever, big guy!

The past 30 days have been decidedly less exciting, in every sense of the word (less travel, fewer tears, less heartache, fewer diamonds...) and in the best way possible. I can't wait until we're "settled" someplace, at least for longer than six weeks.

This month, we took a weekend trip to D.C. to visit B's extended family, saw Stevie Wonder in concert, took a Ghost Tour of Roswell (GA, not NM), and indulged in a fabulous Fourth with his family. We moved to Birmingham and have embarked on the step-by-step process of becoming adults, starting with name changes and ending with insurance. We also marked my Dad's birthday, the one-month anniversary of his death, and my two-year anniversary with my job in this particular position.

Both months so far in our marriage have found us with a new address, so I'm pleased to announce that when I'm writing this a month from now, we'll still be in the same place!

Happy Anniversary, B. Best month yet.

Morning at the Social Security Office

Me: Hi, I got married and need to change my name.

Man: Congratulations! Did you fill out a form?

Me: Oh, no, I didn't. Do I need to?

Man: Not really. Do you have your old Social Security card with you?

Me: No, I don't. Do I need it?

Man: Not really.

Further proof that busy work and extra paper doesn't stop when you leave high school.

Setting the Kitchen on Fire

Last night, B set the kitchen on fire. Mind you, these aren't the first flames the Birmingham apartment has seen (remember the unfortunate incident when a batch of brewing tea did battle with lingering turkey grease from Fauxgiving 2007?), but they might be the best. Why? They were intentional.

For our first official Birmingham dinner, B and I celebrated by making Spicy Tequila Shrimp, a delicious combination of lime juice, fresh tomatoes, two (two!) jalapenos, and tequila. B balked at first, hesitant to pour half a cup of the good stuff (clearly, the Agave) into the skillet, but, after we both took a few (ahem) sips from the bottle, he did as he was told and set it on fire.

I'd gone all crazy buying new, longer matches and warning B not to get burned, assuming that there would be some legitimate flare up, but really it was a nice, small, glowing flame that filled my skillet and burned for a good three minutes. By the way, do you know where matches are in Wal-Mart? "Kitchen Appliances." Just an FYI. I stumped two employees before figuring that one out.

So we enjoyed our delicious feast, served over rice, and celebrated a first real dinner at home in Birmingham. Home. Funny how that word shifts and changes. Atlanta was home. Florence has always been home. Birmingham is home. Durham will be home. What's the common link here? For me, in my adult life, it's B. B is home. And that feels just right, flames and all.

Newlywed Moment of the Day

Me: B, I don't think we realized how ironic the conversation with Grandma was today. She was on the way, at 93, to renew her driver's license.

B: I don't think you realized how ironic it was. Not only was she on her way to renew her license, she was worried that she wouldn't be able to stand in line long enough to get it.

Me: Because her legs would be too tired...

B: She said she designates the security guard as a proxy and sits down!

Me: Ooph.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Age, Smage

My 93-year-old Grandma is on the way to the DMV to renew her driver's license. Here's to her motto, "I'd rather wear out than rust out."

Back Around: The Move Home

Moving back to Birmingham on Monday was harder than I thought it would be. Everything brought up little memories. The piles of small Vera Bradley bags that I had to pack in, because B and I had packed so quickly that Sunday night after the funeral that appropriately sized bags didn't even cross my mind. The sympathy cards, each saved in my bedside table along with a laminated copy of the obituary. The drive, of course.

I am happy to be in Birmingham "for good," at least for a few weeks. Monday nights have been hard on me since Dad died. I'm sure part of it is my anal fear of oversleeping my early wake up call for the drive to Birmingham, but I think another side of it is the gnawing reminder that I'll wake up the next day and relive at least a fraction of the emotions from my terrible Tuesday as I drive. Last call with Dad. First call with the sheriff. Like Groundhogs Day, only worse, which I never thought would be possible. (Sorry Bill.)

B's parents made our last Monday night in Atlanta great, taking us to a new Vietnamese place (LOVE!) and letting me run into Trader Joe's to stock up on my favorite brand of gingersnaps (three boxes, thank you). Then we sat down with them to go over some of our financial info. As we're gathering information and combining accounts, it helps to have a knowledgeable third-party perspective. Long story short: I owe B's parents a lot of cookies!

When we first sat down and were going over financials, B and his Dad started out looking over my stuff, the two of them with heads bent together hunched over the kitchen table. I kid you not, I had tears in my eyes, in part because I felt so loved and cared for that they'd spent their night helping me but also because I feel like that was one of the ways Dad showed his love for us kids: taxes, investments, and the usual mess of numbers. The scene took me right back to our dining room table, where I spent many a tax season with Dad, "helping."

After a long night, B and I got ready for bed and I looked at my cell phone and noticed a weird piece sticking up from it. I picked it up, flipped it open, and it broke so that it now flips a different way. The Lamborghini of cell phones, if you will. One more thing. If I'd been by myself, I might've cried. Instead, B got me laughing and we both got to sleep, but not before a few tears slipped out.

I left early Tuesday morning and B followed at the end of my work day that afternoon. Last night, we got the apartment cleaned up and all the items at least inside, if not unpacked. B was happy to see that much of the apartment has already been given away, leaving us with a somewhat lonely-feeling apartment, but at least one that will be easy to pack!

So our 5.5 weeks in Birmingham are off to a start. I can't believe how fast the summer is going!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Mother-in-Law Hates Me

Subject: Puppy Time?

Forwarded Email From Aforementioned Puppy-Pushing MIL:

Hi, all! Our wonderful lab, Murphy, gave birth to a litter of black labradors on April 22. The litter is AKC registered (I'll provide the form to name the pup and register yourself as owner), and was fathered by a beautiful hunting dog named Sidney who is owned by a vet with a practice outside Athens. He coordinated the breeding; his dogs are wonderful animals, all hip, elbow and vision certified. Of our TEN puppies, all have been placed except for two males. The pups have had their dew claws removed, all their shots are current, and they've been flea/tick/heartworm treated for the month of July. We're planning to list these last two for sale, but wanted to first check to see if there's anyone within this community who would like to have one (free!). We'd much rather place the animals with people we know than sell them to strangers. They're 10 weeks old and very loving! Let me know if you're interested. Thanks!

Do You Recipe?

Want to be famous? Ok, at least moderately so? Check out the Summer Desserts Challenge. If you win, your recipe will be featured on the You've Got to Taste This blog for all the world (and those uber-competitive church ladies) to see. Pies, cookies, crisps, crumbles, and more... they're all welcome!

Happy Holiday!

Had a blast over the Fourth with B's family at their GA lake house. We introduced his brother to homemade peach and blueberry ice cream from the local orchard, indulged in fruit-laden desserts, and gobbled up beef tenderloin and hot dogs, in equal amounts.

I couldn't help but think back to a year ago, when B and I spent the holiday with his parents at the lake house. Well, we spent our time there and I spent most of it crying. No seriously. The conversation started with B asking, "What would an ultimatum sound like?" (No seriously.)

For B's sake, I should say that the day before this conversation happened he went into the big city of Atlanta and ordered a sparkly diamond ring, so there was no chance of this union not going forward. There was, however, a strong chance (and getting stronger by the minute) of me pushing him into the lake.

So, like all conversations that begin with the word "ultimatum," this talk began to spiral and ended with this damning statement from B:

"I haven't really thought about marriage since I started law school (ONE FREAKING YEAR AGO)." [Parenthetical note added by author, not speaker.]

I've got to cut B a little slack; he knew I wanted to be surprised, so what choice did he have? He told me that, knowing he had the ring, he could hardly help but talk about it, so the only way to bring it up without me getting suspicious was by going the anti-route. As in, anti-us. I kid you not. I went home from that weekend and thoughts, "By God, I'm going to have to start dating again when he leaves in August."

Needless to say, this July 4th was decidedly different. There were tears (a few sad ones, lingering from Dad's birthday a few days before), but there were also snuggles and big hugs, hugs that a year ago I had stiff-armed like a Heisman contender.

We spent time on the boat, reading on the dock (Eat, Pray, Love, anyone?), and feasting on the likes of enchilada casserole, fresh peaches, brats, burgers, and roughly eight bottles of wine. Happy Birthday, America!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Goodbye, June!

Ack! Where is time going? I alternate between feeling as though I'm creatively drained (with nothing to write) or that I'm furiously busy (with no time to write). So I'm going to hit pause and take a few minutes to catch up on what's going on.

1-- I'm feeling great today. I'd been overwhelmed with the need to figure out financial items surrounding myself and Dad's estate (our names are still linked on a few things) and also get a game plan for B and myself as we move forward. Today, I got up, called around, found statements, and, as it often is, turns out it's going to be easier than I thought. Yay! Thank you God.

2-- This weekend was amazing. B and I took off on Friday night for a weekend away in DC to visit his family, including his brothers, his Dad's great aunt, his Dad's sister & brother-in-law, his Mom's sisters (and their families), and his Mom's college roommate. Whew! Needless to say, these people were not all in the same place, but we had a great time driving around the DC Maryland area visiting and catching up. I feel like we saw people at the wedding, but only oh-so briefly. Such a treat to see them again this soon.

Another fun spot, his brother bought a puppy. A puppy! B was completely enamored; I know he'd love a dog, if only we had a yard. We went to the park, took walks, and played with this 14-week-old shelter pup for hours. I loved watching B. He'd go get the puppy and bring her into our room and lay back down. The conversation would usually go like this...

Me: What's the puppy doing?
B: She's fine.
Me: It sounds like she's eating my shoe. Is she eating my shoe?
B: (Peers over bed.) Yep. (Removes shoe from reach.)
Me: What's the puppy doing?
B: She's fine.
Me: It sounds like she'd chewing something.
B: (Peers over bed.) That would be your purse. (Removes purse from reach.)
Me: Well she's definitely a girl.

Her favorite place to sit in our room with in our suitcase. On the clothes. Too cute but I couldn't help but think how funny that was going to be when she was full grown.

We flew back Sunday night, exhausted, and collapsed into bed.

3--Date night continues! We've kept Tuesday nights (post my return from Birmingham) as our Mexican food date night, complete with margaritas. It's such a fun time to just hang out with B and, because we're both tired, it's nice to just relax and not think about cooking or groceries.

June isn't the only thing that's coming to a close--Next week B and I pack up and head for Birmingham. I can hardly believe our time in Atlanta is almost over! We're excited to see our Birmingham friends, but are definitely sad to leave ATL behind. After seeing his Mom and Dad every day it's going to be weird to be away from them.

I am super excited because I've gotten to see my Mom a few times in the past few weeks and B and I are planning to head up to see her a week from Friday. I really can't wait. I miss you Mom!