Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nine.

On this day, nine years ago, I was walking down the aisle absolutely excited but at the same time terrified. I had no idea if getting married was what I should be doing but at that point, it was kind of the wrong thing to not get married. Money had been spent, people had arrived and I had to just chalk all of my doubt aside to jitters and bite the bullet.

So I did. Thankfully.

And what an adventure it's been.

We've seen good times- house buying, babies, anniversaries, lots of firsts. We've had some bad times too, no doubt. But no matter how bad things have gotten, no matter how many times I have cried to sleep, wanted to give up and move on, I'm glad I didn't. Because when I think about all of the things that will come our way in the future, good and bad, there is nobody else I would want by my side to get through it.

Sure, Matt drives me crazy. He is terrible at decision making. He's a poor organizer, project manager, financial manager, and he had bad habits. He watches too many stupid shows, he's not social, he strongly dislikes doing fun things out in the world and he isn't adventurous.

Basically, we are polar opposites. I don't even joke when I say I have no idea how we thought we were a good match because on paper, we aren't. His shortcomings turned out to be where I excelled. So I guess in that regard... we're a match.

But he knows when to shut up. He knows when to let me be crazy and when to reel me in. He is a really fantastic dad (even if he yells too much). He is a hard worker and a really great provider for our family. He takes his role as dad and husband very seriously. He isn't romantic at all and is terrible at being spontaneous with lovey gestures but when he does make an effort, I always appreciate it. He lets me sleep in when I give him the "Oh hell no jerk- I wake up with these heathens every day, it's your turn" look and doesn't think twice. He knows when I need a break and he has never once complained when I have exercised my right to leave before I lose it. He supports every decision I've wanted to make, good or bad, and never made me feel bad when things didn't go as planned. He lets me be the social butterfly I want to be, even if it means I have to find friends to go with me. (Secretly? I think he's grateful for my friends so he's not having to do all of this stuff.)

Through it all, good and bad, it's been us. At the end of the day, it's always us. Matt is my go-to person for everything. I can't imagine not having him here just to listen to me say outrageously crazy and stupid stuff and he just loves me for it. I really am a difficult person to live with and certainly to be married to, but he does it and I love him for it. I love that no matter how things are, neither of us want to give up and get divorced. We just keep plugging. Even through the worst of everything, I just knew that we'd be an old married couple someday. We'll be that grouchy couple bitching about each other while holding hands. That's just how we roll.

So Matt? Thanks. Thanks for being a good guy more than a jerk guy, thanks for dealing with my crazy and outrageous, almost always last minute demands, thanks for rolling with the punches when I surprise you with things at the last minute, thank you for getting up in the middle of the night when the kids were babies because you knew I was a total bitch when I don't get enough sleep, thank you for giving me freedom to have a night out so I don't become an angry housewife, thank you for being a really great dad and a really great husband. Thank you for how hard you work every day, every week just so our family can have what we have and do what we do. We don't take you for granted, we love you every day. Especially me. And you're still a hot stud just like when we met.
Airport picture before we left for our honeymoon in Madeira Beach, Florida 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Snap.

You know how yesterday I was all sappy and sentimental? Well today we're switching that off for a post that is more true to my personality.

1. Merging. I saw this every single construction season, but if you are afraid of highways? Get the hell off. If merging seamlessly into traffic isn't your thing and your palms get sweaty approaching that scary lane, you need to not be driving. Seriously. Your hesitation lets everyone else on the road know you are absolutely terrified and you just want Jesus to take the wheel. Jesus isn't going to help you. You have to use what we call in Driver's Ed- judgement. You need to judge the distance between cars, estimate if you fit, and haul fucking ass and get yourself in there so the 50 cars behind you don't riot and ram you off the road.

2. Four way stops. If you don't understand how a four way stop works, you need to stop driving. Seriously. When it is very clearly my turn because I was first, you need to not pull out, stop, pull out, and stop, only to decide that oh gee- it's not actually my turn. My bad.

3. Stop signs. You know what? You actually have to stop at stop signs. Ugh- I know. I hate them too, but they are handy little things that you know, regulate the flow of traffic. When you approach a stop sign, slow down. Don't slam on your brakes and give me the finger because you were too busy texting to notice the stop sign that has been there for years. It's not like some rogue sign just popped out of the ground.

4. Pedestrians. I don't know if you know this, but it's illegal to hit a person in a cross walk. Yeah, surprising, isn't it? When you see a person, maybe even a mom with a triple stroller, patiently waiting to cross the street? Maybe not be a douche and just stop for her. You are a special breed of selfish, entitled, pompous asshole if you don't stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. There really is something wrong with you. What- is McDonald's going to sell out of french fries for your fat ass? Are you hoping to buy them out? You just have to get there rightfuckingnow, don't you? Moo. Moo to you.

5. Ghettomobiles. I don't see enough people talking about this but I am an unafraid white person apparently who is just going to call you ghettomobile drivers out. If your car bounces? You look stupid. Not one of us around you are thinking, "Man. I wish my little SUV bounced. Why isn't that a stock option?" No. We're all looking at you like, "Nice to see the welfare I paid into is feeding small children instead of providing people bouncy cars."

6. Speakers. If your stereo is so loud and it sounds like your glass is on the verge of shattering because of the vibration? I'm going to go on a limb and say you maybe got installed by your friend in his garage and he doesn't really know what he's doing but hey- you got a good deal on these speakers on Craigslist and you're just going to make them fit into your little Toyota Corolla. You can't afford to fix your two donut tires but by god, you are going to bump to Lil' Wayne like your backstage at a show. You go, white kid.


Monday, June 10, 2013

End of a chapter.

It's really bittersweet to move. I find that when this process started I was like, "I can't wait to leave and get something nicer and bigger!", but as we get closer I find myself crying thinking about the spot both kids learned to crawl, to walk. All of the hours I spent rocking in the nursery begging baby Jeebus to make the baby stop crying for just a few hours, I would sell my soul for just a few solid hours of sleep. And though this house has some bad memories, it has more good. And probably the coolest thing is to think back to where we were when this started.

When Matt and I got married in 2004, we lived in a one bedroom apartment. We loved that apartment. I cried very hard for a long time leaving that apartment because it was a sign of everything I had become. I literally came into adulthood there and made some huge decisions. But six months after getting married I was pregnant with Olivia and we knew we had to get a house. It was time to be real grown ups.

We went on the search with our sad little $80,000 budget and found exactly two houses that were not in the ghetto and in our range. The first one was in East End and looked rough on the outside. The inside was nice but  the five feet of standing water in the basement was a bit of a deal breaker. We left there feeling a little discouraged, but when we saw this house in South End? I knew. I just knew it was the one. Sure, it looked absolutely ghetto fabulous on the outside with it's "siding" that looked like shingles full pecked by birds and other animals. Sure, the fence was falling down and the bushes were out of control. Sure, the front door didn't even shut all the way nevermind lock. Sure, it was so disgusting, foul, and filthy through and through. Sure, it had a bathtub I could barely get into because it was so tall and a garden house duct taped to the ceiling for a shower.

But I just knew that this was going to be ours. And after a few months, it was. We moved in a little before our first wedding anniversary and my six month pregnancy milestone.
People said we just flushed $75,000 down the toilet. The wondered what we were thinking. But we were determined to make this our home. And we did. 

Then we had Olivia in September. I can't even tell you how many hours of my life I spent in a rocking chair, but it was a lot. I wore a spot on the floor and I can tell you where every squeak is in this house. I would spend hours crying as I'm trying to rock her and stare out her window to the yard and sometimes I would feel a calm come right over me.

 I would spend hours walking the neighborhood with her and from day one, it felt like home. It felt like this was where we were meant to be.

 Even Lenny agreed- this house was IT. He really loved the apple tree.

Matt I learned a lot about ourselves, marriage, parenthood in this house. We fought, we cried, we almost got divorced, and then baby #2 was on his way.
And I spent even more time in the rocking chair. This is the only home our children have ever known. We really struggled with the decision whether to move or not and while I joke it's because of Olivia's atrocious renditions of Taylor Swift songs on her karaoke machine, it's because we've outgrown it. We can't add on, we've filled this house to the brim. And my heart really does break a little when I think about what we will be leaving behind. Sure, our new house is a little nicer, it's a lot bigger, it has more room for growth. But it won't have the memories that have gotten us here.

Awhile ago Jackson and I had a conversation about moving. He's pretty excited to have a closet in his new room, but he's a pretty sensitive little guy. He's very thoughtful and caring. His biggest concern? Leaving Lenny. Yes, he's worried about leaving our dead cat who is buried under our beloved apple tree. We always told our kids that Lenny went to Kitty Heaven and you can talk to him anytime- he hears us and will be there when we get there someday.

Jackson is worried that if we leave this house, Lenny will think we don't love him anymore and maybe we could just bring him with us?I had to creatively think of a way out of this that didn't involve bringing the carcass of a dead animal in a Uhaul so I told him that really, it's just a secret door under there. That once Daddy covered him up, a secret door opens and Lenny went through it... so he's not under there anymore.

(Life lesson- parenting is all about creative lying on demand.)

But here we are. We are literally on the cusp of moving to an unknown. For all of the headaches this house gave us, for all of the countless trips to Home Depot and all night home improvement projects, for nothing ever being the way it should have been tacking extra time and money onto every project (even changing light bulbs),  and for every time I've wanted to walk away because I didn't think we'd get through it- I'm going to miss this house. I really will. I hope we have just as many awesome memories in the new one. I hope I don't regret leaving this house someday. I hope the next person loves this house as much as we have. I hope the next person has even better memories than us.

And I hope they don't ever cut the apple tree down because that will be a really difficult day. I'm just being honest.

So if you don't hear from me for a little while- I'll be without internet, I'll be hauling boxes, and I'll probably be crying. But I'll be back. With pictures and optimism for a new future. But until then, Matt and I will be spending our 9th wedding anniversary loading a Uhaul and cleaning our home for the very last time. It seems almost fitting, really.

And When She Was Good

Oh I am in the throes of moving and that's never a fun spot to be in, but hey- at least I have a book review for you, right? Of course I do.

And When She Was Good - Laura Lippman
And When She Was Good
In the comfortable suburb where Heloise Lewis lives, she’s just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses a soccer game or a school play. In the state capitol, she’s the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record.
But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she’s the woman of your dreams—if you can afford her hourly fee.
But now, after a decade, her secret life is under siege. Her once oblivious accountant is asking loaded questions. Her longtime protector is hinting at new dangers. Her employees can’t be trusted. One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, a suicide. Or is it? And then she learns that her son’s father, a killer and former pimp, might be released from prison. With no formal education, no real family, and no friends, Heloise has to remake her life—again. Disappearing will be the easy part. The trick will be living long enough to start a new life.
I have only read one other book by Laura Lippman and it was one I really didn't like, so I'm glad I decided to give her another whirl because this one was really quite good. Normally I give up on a book when I don't like the main character, and Heloise leaves a lot to be desired, but I kept going because her live is one giant, tangled ball of yarn. Nothing goes easy, nothing is every as cut and dry as she wants it to be and she's really weaved herself into quite a web. What I will say is that the part that is meant to thrill you... is really only meh. It's mediocre. That shouldn't be what keeps you here because you'll only be disappointed. Instead, it's her regular life. She is a suburban madam who for her entire life, consistently makes bad choices that she justifies as her only options. (Side note- I hate when people do that in real life. Make poor life choices and say, "Well my parents were really hard on me" or "I never really knew my dad so.." and the list goes on and on. Shut up- own up the fact you are completely clueless yet refuse to do any better because it's too hard.)
With that said though, I still don't know how I view Heloise. I mean, sure- she made some poor career choices. Got tangled with the wrong people. You can tell the author wants to portray her as this strong, do-it-for-yourself type woman who doesn't let people hold her back, but really? She isn't like that. I don't know. I flip flop on this because she could really go either way. 
Overall, this is a good book. It gives you enough that you keep turning the page wondering how this woman got to the point where she is and you wonder what will happen to her in the end? Does she get killed? Does she learn to forgive and move on? Does she continue on her path? Or is it none of the above? I won't tell, but I will say to add this to your summer reading list. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Check, check? Is this thing on?

Hello lambies! I am still around and kicking, and I do appreciate your texts, emails and Facebook messages of concern and worry! But things in the Strand household have been busy, stressful, hectic, exciting, and horrifying all at once. Here's a quick recap:

  • ERMERGERD... we close on our house and our new house NEXT Thursday. I know you are all like, "HOLY SHIT, SARA!" and I'm like I KNOW. It definitely calls for shouty caps, that's for sure. Our house currently looks like a freaking disaster with boxes everywhere, things in process of either being relegated to the massive yard sale pile in my mom's garage or to be put into a box it will fit in. And while I've been in boxes for the last 15 days, the fact that I packed my dishes this weekend? Was kind of scary. Mostly because now that we are using paper products I don't know if I can ever go back. 
  • We got information from the back today about our new mortgage payment and I would be lying if I said a panic attack did not happen. Because it most certainly did, and we all know my bowels don't want to be forgotten and they have been highly active this afternoon and evening. Basically, our new monthly payment is far higher than we were told it was going to be. It's still do-able but that means our fun money is now gone, our savings allowance is almost gone, and I'm looking for a night job if even for a little while. Shit just got real. 
  • But we're still excited because while we are sad to see this house go, we're excited about the new memories we can make. I have a post all about why we're sad to leave this house... expect to see that next week. You might even shed a tear. 
  • We are VERY excited about our upcoming vacation. Even though Disney is being a fucking greedy whore and has raised it's already obscene prices just in time for our trip. We are now debating whether we can afford a second day at another park or if we're going to sit in the hotel pool like losers who can't afford Disney. 
  • And yes, for those of you who asked- we did get the hotel in Orlando that was like $35/night that is "5 minutes from Disney". This will either be the find of the century, or the scariest two nights of our lives. 
  • I have been working on a book, yes a real book, for awhile. Apparently, I get really ambitious when I'm under gross amounts of stress. Go figure. 
  • I still have to show you the pictures from Jackson's 4K graduation which are freaking adorable. Seriously. I may have the cutest little boy ever. 
OK, that's your quick recap. I can't wait to show you the pictures of our new house and really document the renovations. Which have all been scaled back because yay, higher mortgage! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Charity can suck it.

Before I even start, let me just say I am a very charitable person. You show me an abused puppy or a child with cancer and I'm spending the money for my phone bill because I'd like to think that if it was my puppy someone hit with a car or my child with cancer- someone would help me out. But with that being said...

Stop fucking calling me. Stop sending me your letter requests so I get three a week. (Unless you're sending me address labels- I'm a sucker for address labels.) Seriously. I give when I have the money. The more and more you send me junk mail, the less inclined I am to give.

If you're the Republican party? You need to just STOP CALLING ME. I have signed up for every do not call list I can find, yet the Republicans don't ever stop. You know who else doesn't stop? The police and sheriff's people, the wounded veterans, and breast cancer research.

Fuckers- I've ALREADY SENT YOU  MONEY. Multiple times. I send an annual gift to all kinds of organizations and that is the best I can do. I cannot send you even $5. You know why? Because next week you're going to call and make me feel bad about a "local soldier who just lost a leg". And I get that that is horrible, sad, and unfair. Thank you for the sacrifice of your leg. But I really have no extra money.

The Breast Cancer people that call me and it shows up as "Michigan" on my Caller I.D.? You people have BALLS. I just sent you a donation and yet you flat out tell me, "Well, women are still dying." Bitches- do you think I have the cure for cancer hiding in my closet and I'm just refusing to share? It's not MY fault there's cancer.  You make it sound like it's all on me to save the world from losing their boobies.

I'm getting to the point where I feel like stopping all donations. Nobody is really grateful. Because just like with a friend, when you give to help out- you do it with no strings attached. You do it to hopefully do a little bit of good for someone, somewhere. And if you are the recipient of said gift, you take it with no strings attached. You don't come up to me next week trying to bum another $20 from me.

And honestly? I feel like charities are really irresponsible. You have to think that a lot of them put a LOT of their funds towards the administration of the "charity" and very little going to helping a cancer victim's family stay for free near them. I mean of my $100 donation, I'd be lucky if $3 actually went to research and victim funds. It's terrible. I totally get every program will have administrative costs but DANG. When I'm getting 2-7 calls per night from these places, not to mention the obscene amount of junk mail weekly- I'm starting to think my donations are for waste. I'm only encouraging this crap to keep coming.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Sixth Power

OOH.. I'm excited that I've been reading some really great books as of late and this one is no exception!

The Sixth Power - Carol Nicolas
Pump Up Your Book Presents The Sixth Power Virtual Book Publicity Tour
Tania Westing, a high school senior, is one of the Gifted Ones, descendants of an ancient family with seven special powers. Some of the powers are common, and some are rare.
Until her geneticist brother Tom was murdered, Tania lived an ordinary life. Now hidden in her mind is a clue that will reveal Tom’s research, including secret formulas to unlock all seven powers. During spring break, Tania meets and falls in love with handsome Dan Maclean. When Tania reveals her rare power to heal, the evil Gifted Ones who killed Tom suspect Tania has his research and formulas and come after her. Tania must learn to use her powers to help save Dan’s sister in time to keep Tom’s secrets safe.
While this is a YA novel, it doesn't fully feel like it. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, you'll probably enjoy this because the secret carried throughout this book is a riddle of sorts from that book. I am also left chanting,"sequel, sequel" because you are left with some loose ends and a big of a cliff hanger at the very end. 
Tania has had a life full of loss- her mother died in an accident and her brother died of an apparent suicide. But all is not as it seems and that goes with everyone around her. She is quickly realizing that she's not really a normal kid and things are happening all around her that puts her life in jeopardy. Her very much in denial father takes her to Arizona where she meets Dan. She pretty much falls for Dan but he also opens her eyes to things she's always suspected but are being confirmed. Danger isn't at bay for too long of course and upon her arrival home- things escalate quickly. She's being hunted for secrets her brother has "hidden" in her mind of his genetic research and even Tania doesn't know what the enemy wants, and she's not fully sure who the enemy is. Tania is "gifted" and she's only beginning to learn what gifts she has, how to use them, and how to know when it's appropriate to use them. She is reunited with her mother's sister who is trying to give her a really crash course training to develop her gifts but it's not quite enough. 
This book is a really fast read because you almost feel like your Tania- you're trying to figure it all out with her and none of it really makes sense. And even in the end? I felt like I was just getting the tip of the larger iceberg. Such a great book and I can't wait to read what's next for Tania and her friends!