My Prince Charming

Not long ago I read a couple of articles about romance and love. Both articles, set up almost as a letter to younger women stressed that as we get older, romance isn’t always about flowers, candy, or sweet words. Romance is in the little things. It’s the small gestures in our daily life that our partners do to show that we matter and that they want us to be happy. The articles got me thinking, and I thought I’d write a little something myself.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I married an amazing man. Nobody is more surprised than I am that I got so lucky to have found him, because I dated some real jerks before I met him. My husband is one of the most caring, generous and thoughtful people you could ever meet. He’s quick witted, and gleefully pokes fun of me daily in a good natured way. He is a man who stands by his word, even when he’d be perfectly justified in changing his mind. He always goes the extra mile to make sure his wife and kids are looked after. I’m proud to be his wife.

When we first met, my husband used to write me cards all the time. He often brought flowers. We kind of stopped with a lot of that stuff once we got married and had my son. Life got BUSY. His romantic gestures changed over time. Some of them are a little throwback to when we first met, but now romance is me finding my favorite candy bar purchased for me and tucked away in the fridge as a surprise. A hidden card tucked in my suitcase when I had to travel across the Atlantic for a funeral, telling me that he knows I do a ton here and he will do his best to cover for me while I’m gone. Romance is knowing the little things that bring me happiness and doing them without me asking. After my mother died, my artist husband did a beautiful drawing of my mom and framed it for me. It was his way of bringing her closer to me, and that picture now holds a proud place in our living room. Romance is him cooking dinner on his day off because he knows I’ve cooked all week. Romance is him showing up at my job with a coffee just the way I like it on a tough day, or a surprise lunch brought home while I’m working on a project. Romance is coming up behind me to give me a big bear hug and a kiss on the neck. Romance is making sure the car has gas before I leave for a trip. Romance is a surprise text with a meme that only the two of us would find funny that leaves me rolling with laughter.

Sometimes, I am in awe of the little ways my husband finds to spark joy with our kids, too.

His work schedule makes it tough for him to be around a lot. He works from mid day until midnight. It’s a sacrifice, and at times it’s frustrating for all of us. There are some things he simply can’t attend. Yet often, he finds a way to show up, often unexpected, which makes it even more awesome. One day, we knew he would have to miss my daughter’s gymnastic show. She was really upset but kept a brave face. I almost cried when while sitting in the stands, I saw my husband walk in with a bouquet of flowers for her, arriving just in time to see his little girl perform and hand her some beautiful roses. He found time to show up to soccer practices and football practices. One day he knew I was at the school unloading some heavy boxes and he raced over to help me.

I’m shocked on a daily basis that such a nice guy puts up with a pain in the ass like me, and also why I get so enraged when people try to take advantage of his kind and generous nature. It’s one thing to mess with me, but if anyone messes with my 3 it’s a whole other ballgame. This car has no brakes so to speak. Then again, I know he feels the same about me as well.

Marriage is the day to day. It’s the big picture while managing all the little fine details as a pair. It’s not just the happy, floaty times, but the down and dirty times too. Marriage is getting through the times that make you angry or sad. Marriage is joining hands and knowing it’s the two of you against whatever life wants to throw at you, and knowing you’ll come out of it on the other side gripping the other one’s hand, stronger together.

Romance looks different than it did 15 years ago, but I’ve gotta say it looks far better than I could have imagined.

I’m a lucky girl, who finally got her prince charming.

The Godsmack Redemption, Old Friends, New Friends, Travel and Sleep

This past weekend seemed far longer than it really was, all in a great way though. The first thing on my list of things to do was to hit up a bucket list item after almost 20 years of trying. I’m perfectly aware it’s a silly thing, sort of ridiculous, but I wanted to do it all the same….I wanted to attend a Godsmack concert. Now, there’s a story behind this. Almost 20 years ago, before I met my husband, I had a boyfriend I’ll call E. E and I got along great, but it just fizzled, and we both realized the other wasn’t “our person” for the long haul, so we split up. It was an easy, congenial split, but it just so happened to come about the day we had purchased tickets to a Godsmack concert. At the time I really liked Godsmack, and I was excited to go. That being said, since I sort of initialized the split, I offered the tickets to him to go. It seemed like the kind, good faith kind of thing to do at the time. He took them and thanked me. I won’t lie, it stung to hand them over, because while he was looking forward to going, I think I definitely wanted to go more. Still, I told him to have a great time, and to tell me all about it.

AND HE NEVER ATTENDED THE CONCERT.

I was so pissed at myself once I found that out. I’ve spent much of my life doing things for others at my own expense, and for the most part it never bothers me, but this one did. Man, it stung, because I had so looked forward to going and the tickets had now gone to waste. The years rolled by, and I never did make it to a Godsmack show. I did attend a concert to raise money for Veterans and Godsmack played a song or two. They sounded great, just like they did on the album, if not better, and I loved the nostalgia of hearing a couple of the songs I knew and loved. It was only a couple of songs, but I remembered the lost tickets and jokingly told my friends about being #TeamBitter. Fast forward to a week ago, when some friends were talking about going to their concert since the band was on tour and tickets were still available. My husband, knowing the story of my unused tickets so many years ago, treated me to a ticket. The show was Friday, and it was fantastic! A big group of us went and we had a blast.

Saturday I woke up tired from the night before, realized it was Saturday, and rolled over to joyously sleep in. That’s before I remembered I had to pick up my daughter from a sleepover within a half hour. I picked her up, headed home, and mowed the lawn…in the powerful sun on an extremely hot day. In no time I was red faced, sweating, lightheaded, and had to get into a cold shower right away and lie down. I was a mess. I’ve never been good in the sun. The next adventure on the list was a birthday party, so the kids and I headed off. After a lovely time there, I headed out to meet up with friends from high school I hadn’t seen in decades. I had a fantastic time. The hostess lived in possibly one of the most beautiful houses I have ever entered. Absolutely stunning. The last time I had seen her she had gone through a divorce and was trying to get reestablished. She met an amazing man, fell madly in love, combined their blended families and married. I was thrilled to see her get the fairy tale. Another friend was entering into a divorce. That’s the thing about my age. For a while everyone was getting married, then having kids, but now I’m at the age where many people I know are getting divorced and their lives are going through big changes. It reminds me how lucky I am to have my husband and that we are happy, as I see many people who are in marriages where they don’t have the same level of happiness. It is nice though that all of us can reconnect after so many years and we all just fall into conversation like it was yesterday. I even met some new people there and each one seemed awesome and funny. We spent the night talking, laughing and just chilling out. It was refreshing and easy. I left feeling thoroughly relaxed.

I came home and collapsed into bed, exhausted but having enjoyed myself immensely.

Sunday we headed off to Newport RI for a day’s adventure with family. It’s an annual trip we do now and it’s probably one of my favorite days of the year. Sometimes it’s hard to get chunks of time off and the funds for a multi day trip, so a day trip is ideal. Newport for us is that trip. If you haven’t been to Newport, it’s a beautiful, quaint seaside town in Rhode Island. There are loads of shops, places to eat, bars, and always plenty to do. If you’re tired of the shopping and eating, there are the Newport Mansions, which are stunningly beautiful and amazing to tour. I haven’t done the mansions in years, but I think perhaps next year we may do a weekend away there and will go see them again. The ONLY issue with that is that Newport hotels lean towards being insanely expensive. I suppose that’s to be expected with the area.

Now there are two things we try to do each trip. The first is a boat cruise. When you go to Newport there are lots of stands where you can book a boat cruise around the harbor and out near the bridge. They aren’t too expensive and there are different types of offerings. We’ve done the Rum Runner tour twice, once for a tour down by the mansions and Jackie O’s former digs during the day, and another sunset complimentary drink cruise. (The punch has pretty much no alcohol so I’d recommend the beer). During the day cruise, our captain rattled off all sorts of interesting facts about the houses and areas we passed, where the night cruise was done without a running commentary except to point out one amazing photo op. The other cruise we did was on Amazing Grace, which has more of a ferry feel but is fairly small. We sat at the back on the lower level, but most folks prefer upstairs. We stuck closer to the on board bar. A gin and tonic, waves and a beautiful view had me happy as a clam. The OTHER favorite stop that we make annually is dinner at the Red Parrot. This restaurant, a staple in Newport, has a massive menu where just about everything is delicious. Hubby and I started off with Shrimp and flatbreads, and then dove into a delicious filet mignon topped with lobster scampi, served with sauteed spinach and fluffy mashed potatoes. We capped off the meal by sharing a key lime pie. Every one of us left feeling full and having thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

There are plenty of other great restaurants there too although I didn’t get to go this trip aside from the Pearl. Brick Alley used to serve an amazing caprese salad, however I’m not quite sure if they still do. Buskers is a favorite for an Irish breakfast (tastes like home) and a pint of Guiness. Black Pearl is known for their chowder. ( I enjoyed it but wish it had more “chunks” of clams). All in all, Newport is great for seafood and you’re bound to find something you like in one of their many restaurants.

After a trek to pick up the kids and head home, we all collapsed into bed, sleepy from a long, fun filled weekend. Morning came before I was quite ready, but I am already looking forward to the next adventure. This year has been quite filled with travel, shows and adventures, and the more I go to places and do new things, the more I crave. I’m in a mood to declutter and put my pennies away for another trip somewhere, even if it’s a day trip or a quick weekend jaunt.

A Sailing I Will Go (Well, Kind Of)

After arriving back from Vegas, I swear I have been out of sorts. The time change, the sleeping hour changes, and staying busy have kept me losing track of time and feeling kind of always tired. I compounded these feelings by taking on some extra stuff, so I certainly have been busy.

The week after we arrived back, my best friend who I went to Vegas with went in for her knee replacement. Everything went really well and she is doing better than she anticipated she would. That being said, she is pretty much out of commission. She does the cooking in the household, so I stepped in and made about a week’s worth of meals for her and her husband to get them through. I walked in the door with loads of single portion servings of all the things she loved me making when we were roomates. Her husband looked tired and anxious, but oh so grateful for a hot meal that he didn’t need to really “cook” other than heat up. The next day I stopped by to drop off a treat for her and walked into her having just vomited, her husband looking like he hadn’t slept a wink all night, and lots of tangible stress. The visiting nurse was sorting my friend out, so I offered to run to the stores and pick up anything they needed. After a grocery run, I came back, cooked them lunch, sent her husband for a nap while I sat chatting with her, and then heated up dinner for them. I left them both smiling and feeling much more relaxed. I know they were super grateful, but to be honest, it was me who felt grateful to be able to help.

The same day I was helping them happened to be the 13th anniversary of my mom’s passing. Some years I cope really well, some years I don’t. I had tried not to commit to much that day in anticipation that the day might swing either way. I woke up feeling heavy hearted. I miss my mom, but mostly I miss having her celebrate all the amazing things that have happened. I miss having the chance to have her be a part of my kids’s lives. I know she would be so incredibly proud of my kids, and would delight in the role of grandmother. She’d spoil them rotten in all the best ways, and I know she would play a very active role in their lives. The fact she has been deprived of this has been especially difficult for me, and is a bit of a raw subject. My mother defied all the odds and lived far longer than estimated after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I have no doubt her determination to meet her grandchild was a big defining factor. My kids are very lucky to have other people who have stepped into the role my mother had to leave behind when she died. My husband’s brother’s mother in law is a champion and treats my kids as though they were her biological grandchildren. She asks to watch them, spends time with them, has them sleep over, and does activities with them, especially my daughter. When I went to Vegas, she graciously offered to back my husband up with caring for the kids around his work schedule. My son has reached the teen years and likes to be alone or out with his friends but still enjoys hanging out with her, and my daughter LOVES to hang out with her and goes every chance she gets. My step mother also plays an active role in their lives, albeit from a geographical distance. The very best part is that they extend the offer with no hesitation.

I miss my mom’s advice, her laugh, and her sing song “hello sweetheart” in her heavy British accent. I miss her dirty sense of humor that always seemed out of place from such a posh accent, making people blink a few times in wonderment if what they heard was really what she said. I miss the cheeky ribbing she gave me, her endless support, and knowing that no matter what happened, she had my back. I miss her stories about the family. I miss her. If she was here I’d tell her I’m sorry for all the times she asked me to rub her feet and I declined because I felt feet were kind of gross back then. I would have been a less angsty teen and I wish I could have listened more and not been so damned stubborn. I wish I could tell her that while I look horrible in yellow, and it was never much a color I liked too much, I now gravitate to all things yellow because it reminds me of her and the sunshine she brought wherever she went. I would tell her I miss how things were when she was here. It’s different, and not bad, but a bit of the sparkle has left with her. I always have loved a bit of sparkle you know. I’d probably be better domestically too because I’d constantly worry she’d be shocked at how messy the house gets some days. I’d say I’m joking there, but I’m not.

I had started the day feeling not my best, as I mentioned, so I felt determined to turn things around. It is important to me that my kids know how much I miss my mom, but also how great she was. I spend time telling them silly stories about her, and trying to create a “visual” so to speak of who she was. I need to make her more than just someone who died. I started the day by coming down for my normal coffee, but then grabbing a box of little creme brulees I had gotten from Costco. I set to work with my little torch, doing the sugar on top until it was a crispy topping. My kids walked in and stared….were we having creme brulee, a favorite, for breakfast? Yes indeed we were! I said that in honor of my mom it was a special breakfast day. This kind of bit me in the ass when I went to drop the little off at her friend’s house. The mom asked if she had eaten, meaning lunch. My girl announced excitedly “Yes! I had creme brulee for breakfast today!” Oh well. We can’t all be perfect moms.

Looking after my friend was cathartic in so many ways. She knew my mom, loved her too, and she also lost her mom to lung cancer. We get each other and get how those anniversaries can be. As I puttered around in the kitchen, we chatted about the tough days. It felt good to be around someone who understood me so well. While I was there, I got a text from my husband.

A bit of background, I grew up on the water as a kid. When we came to America we always lived within a short drive to the beach. I instantly took to the water, always wanting to swim. Eventually my dad got a motorboat and I loved being out on the water. I’m not sure why he ever got rid of it, to be honest. As a young kid, my parents saw my love of the water and enrolled me in sailing school. I had my boating license many years before I could ever drive a car. I then took further classes, and before long I was sailing, windsurfing, and spending my summers in the water. We never got a boat or a windsurfer, but I sure loved them. As I got older and had kids, the idea of buying a boat was out of my price range. I did want a kayak, however. My dad and I had mulled over each of us getting one. He lives on a lake, and I live near the beach. It’s something we talk about every time I visit but neither of us has gotten one. For me, it’s not the kayak itself, but all the “extra” stuff that was daunting. My husband isn’t much into boating, so it would be something I’d probably do mostly on my own. Transporting a kayak was the biggest reason I never got one. I’d have to get a rack for the car, and to be honest, I’m so short I doubt I’d ever be able to safely load and unload a kayak on/off the car myself. It just wasn’t feasible. I don’t have the upper body strength nor the height to make it work. While at my friend’s we were chatting about it, and I found a bright yellow kayak that was inflatable on amazon. It was cheap, inflatable, came with a paddle, and an air pump. Even better, it was about a quarter of the price of a basic kayak. The reviews were great. Instead of grappling with fitting it on the car and buying racks etc, I could deflate it and put it in the back of my SUV! It was yellow, which is a color I associate with my mom. It called to me. I sent the pic to my husband, saying I might treat myself in the next few weeks. I got a text back a little while later that said “It will be here by Monday. I wanted to treat you today.”

He’s the very best, I swear.

Best of all? It’s a two person kayak, which means I can take one of the kids with me if I want, or my husband.

The other night, the husband and I were chatting about the 4th. What to do? He mentioned the kayak and said we could go out. After mulling it over, I went back on Amazon and bought a second one. Now there is room for all four of us!

Another cool thing is that my nephew just got a kayak. I’m hopeful that once I get comfortable, I may be able to go out with him on the kayaks and have something cool to do together. I’ll have to see if he’d be up for that. First I have to build up some arm strength to keep up.

If you see the girl with a big old smile, spending time on her yellow kayak, it may be me…just puttering away. The fact my husband knew it was the day I lost my mom and chose to mark the day by fulfilling a little dream of mine, in bright yellow fashion (my mom drove a yellow car and always said yellow was the color of life) was the very best gift he could have given me. It’s also the reason my mom felt he and I were such a perfect match. He gets me, he really does.

Happy Is As Happy Does

It’s funny, after weeks of not writing, I’m back with an awful lot to say, but don’t want to word vomit too many posts. I have a few posts in process (one is long, complicated and detailed) but while I’m working on the heavier posts, a little lightheartedness is in order. They say the key to happiness is someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. I suppose that explains my mood lately…I’m giddy. I’ve currently got all three.

I came into 2019 with an itch for change. A change in look, a change in the daily, and a change in scenery. So far, all three have been in process. I cut off over a foot of my hair, there have been super positive changes at work, the school project, and now I have some things lined up in the future I am looking forward to.

So, the Vegas trip? I. CANNOT. WAIT. I am unable to hide the excitement of a new experience for a few days with my bestie. We have a few thrill seeking activities in the works, and maybe a show or two. Honestly, I am looking forward to hitting the pool and wandering the strip. I was in need of a new swimsuit, and happened to find a new one (with tags) on Poshmark that I fell in love with, except it wasn’t my size and the style is discontinued. After a long, arduous search, I found the same one on Ebay, new with tags, in my size, cheap! Thrilled to pieces I bought it. It’s the little things sometimes that bring a huge smile. Hopefully I don’t look like a sausage when it arrives, but even if it looks bad, I have time to resell it and call it a day. I am realizing more and more how much I really do want to travel. I saw a meme on facebook the other day that talks about how people spend 10 bucks a day on lunch, not realizing that it works out to close to 900 bucks in 3 months. Those little extras add up, and if we cut out a few things, travel is in our reach! My goal is to take the family on a vacation somewhere every year, or maybe even two trips. There’s nothing like a fresh location to put things in perspective.

Also on the list to look forward to is a big family vacation. This one is super important because I think we could all use some downtime before the hectic season begins. This year we decided to team up with some other family members and go for a week of relaxation a little closer to home than our England jaunt. I won’t lie, I definitely want to get us all back to England (my kids haven’t stopped raving about that trip, even saying they preferred it over Disney) but I think a change in scenery is in order. Maybe next year we’ll head back. This year we’re headed for a week on a ranch near a lake. A little bit of land activity, a little bit of water sports, and something for every one of us. I’m looking forward to having downtime with the husband. He busts his ass daily and I know some relaxation would do him good. He often doesn’t get the credit he deserves for all he does, and he works insanely long hours. Time off does him good.

I managed to book a late fall trip to see a favorite drag performer of mine, and splurged a little to get a meet and greet. I always said if this particular person comes around, I’d want to do the M&G, so I stuck true to that. I’m going with one of my favorite people, and I know it will be a great time. I love a good comedy show, and I love drag queens. This is the perfect combination of both.

The combinations of trips and a show has me excited for this year. I’m excited about how well the school project has come together. I’ve got a great tribe of easygoing, no bullshit people in my life. My husband and kids bring me joy. What more could a girl ask for? Of course, life isn’t perfect, but I choose to be happy, and I always keep something on the horizon to look forward to on those tougher days.

Creating Happiness

This year I started off super antsy. After coming out of a year where the family and I took an amazing trip back to England, I came eager to travel some more. I always come back from England, where I was born, feeling nostalgic, yearning for a simpler, more country based life, and feeling a strong pull to go back. January has felt like it’s been 85 days long already, and I found myself starting the month off NEEDING change in whatever form I can get. I need some change, and I need things to look forward to. It brings me happiness.

I’ve always been a firm believer that one CHOOSES to be happy. As someone who grew up struggling with depression and anxiety, I had to make some solid life changes. It had become so bad I was in a very dark, sad place. I woke up one day and realized just how bad it had gotten, and knew something had to change. Depression is much deeper than a simple attitude shift, trust me, I know. That being said, the first step for me in learning to manage and come out the other side of depression was to find ways of changing my mindset. The first thing I needed to realize was that I can’t always change a situation, but I can change my mindset about how to deal with it. I can choose how I look at things, or research things to learn to see things a different way. Once I started choosing and really trying to look at things from different perspectives, I noticed a break in the doom and gloom. It helped me to start the process of managing things much better.

My mom once told me…”no matter how bad things get, someone is always worse off than you”, which helps to keep things in perspective sometimes. I remember my dad recounting a story of when my parents when to a huge business dinner in NYC. The dinner was a big deal, and mother, despite being in terrible pain from a degenerating disc in her spine, was determined to go. She needed a cane, and was struggling to walk. My father looked at her, struggling, and said “maybe we should just go back to the room and forget the dinner….you don’t have to put yourself through this”. My mother turned and said “I’ve been looking forward to this dinner for ages, and remember, no matter how bad things get, there is always someone who has it harder, or worse off than me. I can do this!”. Just then the elevator door opened, and inside was a man who only had one leg. My mother glanced at my father and proceeded to head to dinner. She knew that happiness is realizing what you have, that things could always be worse, and being grateful that your struggles are your own. Someone once said if everyone threw their stuggles in a bowl, most of us would all grab our own back. Frankly, we don’t know what others are dealing with, and at the end of the day, struggles are often minimal when you see what others are struggling with. I am an oft repeater of “silver linings!” Even when things are bad, one can usually find a silver lining if they look harder enough. Even if it’s a small one.

But I digress.

Winter is a tough time for many, especially those with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. While I don’t struggle like I used to, I do make a conscious choice to plan things to look forward to. Why? Because on a bad day, I can look at my calendar and despite the busy chaos, I can see a vacation, a trip, or a school event I am happy about. This reminds me that happy days are ahead. I am excited to go visit my dad soon. This usually also entails not only a happy time with him and my step mom, but also a dinner out with my close friends I don’t get to see very often. Always fun. I am excited about a family vacation I have planned. While it won’t be cheap, it gives me a goal, something to work towards, and something exciting to share with the husband and kids. I have a few day trips planned, one just by myself, to spend a day wandering and sight seeing. There is a school field trip I am chaperoning, which made my daughter beam ear to ear when I told her.

These trips and events keep me looking forward in a positive manner. I LOVE my job and what I do, but I have stressful days like everyone else. On those stressful days, I remind myself those extra hours or that hard work is earning me money towards a vacation. When I am cleaning the house (which admittedly I’m not great at….have you seen the title of my blog?) and I find change people have left everywhere, I am at least excited to put it in the vacation fund. When January hit and stomach bugs and flu arrived at our house, I console myself that we’re getting it out of the way now and will be healthy again hopefully for the happy events planned. Having something to look forward to brings happiness.

Not only do I plan the event, I plan little, simple things about it that bring me joy. Some of these revolve around food. That probably explains why I am working on losing some weight….10 pounds down so far! For example, the trip to NYC I have in mind. I am already planning and excited to go to Tea and Sympathy for dessert. Why? Because they have one of my favorites there. It’s a British tea shop, and their rhubarb and custard reminds me of being a kid in England. When visiting my dad I always go for fajitas at my favorite place. It was a place I used to go to with my mom. While the food is delicious, the memories it conjures up are happy ones spent with my parents and friends. Happiness is a feeling, and being as sentimental as I am, I always lean towards it.

Looks like it’s going to be an exciting (and yummy!) year!