Monday, January 18, 2016

It's Time To Move On...

Well Blogger, it's been fun.  But it's time for me to move on to bigger and, not better, just different, things.

It's not you, it's me.

You'll find someone else.

Anyone would be lucky to have you.

It's just not the right time in my life to settle down like this.

No, don't cry.  It'll be okay.

*I'm in the process of moving over to wordpress.  Give me a day or two to get it looking uh-mazing and I'll be back.*

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Alan Rickman- Always

I am not one to have celebrity crushes, not since I obsessed over Kirk Cameron, Cory Feldman (because Shannon had claimed Cory Haim for her own), and papered my walls and ceiling in Teen Beat photos of Joe McIntyre and other members of the New Kids on the Block.

Oh wait, there was that brief foray into madness during college where I may or may not have had passionate feelings about whether *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys was the better band (cough cough *NSYNC cough cough).

I also fell madly in love with Elijah Wood after watching 'Lord of the Rings,' which is weird.  To be fair, I remember thinking he was adorable in 'North,' so it wasn't a sudden crush.

It's also possible that I thought there was hope for me and Leo(nardo DiCaprio) after watching the first part of 'Titanic' on VHS at least a hundred times.

And I am grown-up enough to admit that I would totally be fan-girling over Benedict Cumberbatch, were I a teenager and not a happily married mother of two... meh.  Who I am kidding?  I love him.  If Teen Beat had a picture of him, and I could find a Teen Beat, that picture might be taped to something nearby.

But while those crushes were nothing more than the infatuations of a teenage girl, Alan Rickman has held the place of honor for as long as I can remember.  You might scoff, but it's true.  I saw 'Robin Hood: Prince of Theives' when I was thirteen and I immediately fell in love with the kid who played Wulf.  I also harbored dreams of slow dancing with some boy or another to 'Everything I Do' by Bryan Adams because literally nothing could possibly be more romantic than that.  Ever.  End of story.

Watching that movie over and over, even at thirteen, I understood how amazing Alan Rickman was.  The Sheriff of Nottingham had never been so terrifying, so passionate.  He was cruel and heartless and thrilling to watch.  The Rugby Star and I have, more than once, quoted the part when the Sheriff says he'll cut Robin Hood's heart out with a spoon and his cousin asks why.  'Because it's DULL, you twit.  It'll hurt more!'  Terrifying and funny.  Powerful.  I was enthralled with the villain I perceived Alan Rickman to be.  He was so good at it, he must be evil in real life.

But then came Colonel Brandon in 'Sense and Sensibility' and I fell in love in a different way.  At first, I was as against him as anyone in the family- he was the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, after all.  He won me over rather immediately however and all was forgiven.  He was kind and soft-spoken, caring and compassionate.  And I thought- this must be who he is.

And according to the tributes found all over the internet, that may have been the correct interpretation, for which I am very, very glad.

Then there's Severus Snape.  Brilliantly acted, perfectly interpreted.  There could be no other to play that role than Alan Rickman.  With Mr. Rickman's death, I feel as though Snape has died again, that I have just experienced the ending of the books and the movies once more.  I don't want it to be true.

Despite the fact that I don't have celebrity crushes, this one got me in the 'feels' today.  I can admit, I cried.  And then I laughed at myself for being ridiculous because I don't know Alan Rickman.  But then I cried again because I respect him as a performer.  I watch so many of his movies over and over (Love, Actually, Die Hard, Harry Potter, to name a few).  He was a great talent and, through the words of others, a good man.

I did not know you personally, Mr. Alan Rickman.  But I will miss you.  Rest in peace.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Letter To My Mom


Yesterday was not an easy day.  Yesterday, I had to stop and figure out exactly how long you'd been gone because I didn't know it off the top of my head.  Every year, I have your birthday written in my calendar and I know exactly how old you'd be.  And every year, I have January 10th on the calendar, the day you left us.  But this year I had to stop and think how long it had been.  It's been six years.  Six years feels like such a short amount of time, but it's really not.  So very much has changed and you've missed so much.

You missed the last 'Harry Potter' movies.  They were really good.

You missed us moving from Guatemala to Bahrain and now to Serbia.

You missed us getting our new 'puppy,' Pip.  

You missed some good books that I know you would've liked.

You missed The Ladybug's freckles and The Sprout's red hair.

You missed buying us Christmas ornaments each year.

You missed being jealous that I went to Italy last Spring Break.

You missed homecomings and goodbyes and TV shows and delicious meals and holidays and the every day things that make life life.  You've missed it.  And we've missed you.

I posted some pictures on Facebook and thought to myself, 'I've used these photos a few times.  Time for some new ones.'  But it's been six years since we've taken a new photo together.  We will never take another new photo together.

The Sprout sat in my lap and looked at those pictures.  She said, 'Is that you and your mommy?' I was happy she recognized you, but so, so sad that she would never know you.

Last summer, my R told me you stop by the house sometimes.  She said you don't stay long because you're so happy wherever you are.  That made me happy.  I hope that it's true.  And you're welcome to stop by any time to check in... just don't do anything creepy.

Every year that passes is easier... and harder.  The pain has lessened, though it still smacks me upside the head every now and again and leaves me in a helpless puddle of tears and snot on the floor.  Oh yeah, I ugly cry about you sometimes, Mom.  Other times, I can go a few days without thinking about you.  You're always there, though.  I know you're watching over us, keeping us safe, and making sure the Red Head is keeping me on my toes.  I have no doubt you're up there giggling about her- she's making me work hard which fulfills that "I hope you get one just like you," curse that mothers throughout the ages have muttered.

I love you and miss you, Mom.  I wish you were still here, but if you're happier there, I'm happy for you.  I hope you have found your peace.



Thursday, January 7, 2016

My Best Birthdays

I've had a lot of good birthdays.  In fact, I can't actually think of a bad birthday.  Well, there was the one where we had a freak freeze and I had to cancel my party because no one could safely drive to my house.  But I seem to remember slip-sliding around the neighborhood, pretending I was an ice-skater with Shannon and my sister instead.  And we already had the cake so I ate a lot of cookie cake that weekend.  Plus, we rescheduled the party, so it wasn't really ruined or anything.

Nope.  I can't think of a bad birthday (and I'd thank you not to remind me of one if you remember).

In honor of 38 pretty great birthdays, I thought I would share my all-time, top four best birthdays.  Now, that is not to say that the other 34 were not awesome.  These are just the ones that stand out in my memory every January 7th as 'remember how much fun that one was!'

Also, I'm 38 now and my memory seems to be fading.  I may have legitimately forgotten some of my birthdays.  It's okay if you remind me of the good ones, if you want to.

So, in a particular order, being worst-best to best-best, here are my top four birthdays:

4. My 13th.  Nothing that happens when you're 13 is awesome, but this birthday party was.  Shock and surprise, M and I shared a party, which helped make it awesome because she was a cheerleader and I was awkward with a weird haircut.  We were able to rent out Aunt Shawn's apartment clubhouse and host quite a grown-up party with nibbles and drinks (soda) and our parents in the other room.  My mom came out and forced us to slow dance with the boys, which I pretended to hate, but I secretly loved.  I felt like I had crossed the threshold into TEENAGER.  It was totally rad.

3. Another birthday featuring M.  I don't remember how old I was turning, but it must've been somewhere in the 5-7 range because we were still in 'the old house' on Central Church Road.  I had what might've been my very first sleepover with several friends from daycare.  Kasey Chambers came.  Even at six-ish, she was already cool.  She knew how to tie her shoes and everything.  We were allowed to watch TV in my parents room on their waterbed which was EPIC!  At some point, Kasey thought she saw someone at our living room window and we all commenced screaming and running around the house, equally terrified and thrilled.  I was certain it was my dad playing a joke on us.  I asked him about it once- it wasn't him.

2.  Oh, you would like another example of a birthday party with M?  Okay (you probably thought I was exaggerating our birthday friendship in yesterday's post... I wasn't).  Our 30th.  At Taco Mac (thanks, Heath).  It was supposed to be a surprise party but it wasn't.  But I had a surprised face for fun.  I was not looking forward to it because I hate the Devil's Den (aka Taco Mac) but we ended up having a lot of fun.  I don't recall feeling very well afterwards... it must've been food poisoning.

1.  My number one all time favorite birthday was when I turned 20 and my sisters of AGD threw me a surprise party.  M was not at this one.  My suite mate asked me for a ride to Wal-Mart and I gladly obliged because I had a million and three things I needed but could not afford with my $300 credit limit.  I kept hopping around the store, remembering this thing on this side and this other thing on the other side which I desperately coveted.  SM (suite mate) began to get impatient, so I hurried... ish.  When we finally got back to the house, I noticed all of the lights were off and the door was ajar.  'We're about to be murdered,' I told her.  We pushed the door open and the whole of the house screamed 'SURPRISE!' and I almost had a heart attack and died right there.  But it was so awesome.  I had assumed everyone had forgotten.  I was dawdling at Wal-Mart because I was too sad to go back and just sit in my room feeling sorry for myself.  Meanwhile, my amazing sisters were being amazing.  Then there was a pie in my face.  That was less amazing... but still funny.

I thought just for a moment about including my 21st birthday- it's a pretty important one, usually.  I was lucky because some friends came down from Maryland to spend it with me.  But... I got that food poisoning again and I tend to talk a lot when I get food poisoning and I'm rather embarrassed about all the talking I did on that night.  Plus, I have never felt so bad in my life as I did after that birthday party... so we'll let that one slide.

My birthday bowling parties deserve an Honorable Mention- all of them- because that tradition was a lot of fun while it lasted.  It may come back to life next year as my kids are old enough to get in on the bowling action.

All in all, my birthdays have been fantastic and wonderful and I feel smooshy with happiness at the thought of them.  I am thankful for friends and family who have made my life so special and I hope that I am able to do the same for you in your life.

What's your favorite birthday party memory?  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On the Eve of my 38th Birthday

The eve of my birthday is as special as my birthday because it is also the birthday of one of my best friends.  I was lucky enough to meet M when I was a wee babe, a life-changing event that I don't remember in the slightest.  We went to day care together and I'd like to say that our friendship was evident even from the young age of two, but more than likely, we were sort of lumped together because our birthday's were so close.  "Let's celebrate them together!" someone probably suggested.  "We can't have two days of cupcakes!" another said.  "That's too much sugar!"

Perhaps our mothers, early on, had the same thoughts as our beloved Central Church caregivers.  "They can't have two birthday parties- who would celebrate first?  Would we have to have two weekends of parties?"

Or maybe we just hit it off.  Maybe we were inseparable, destined from the beginning to be lifelong friends.  Either way, I can't remember very many of my childhood birthdays without M there.  As we grew older and attended different high schools, and then went to college two hours apart, we still managed to keep in touch twice a year- once on our birthdays where I would call her and then she would call me the next day to say Happy Birthday, and once in the summer.  One of us would randomly call the other and invite her to do something.  We would hang out for a day and then talk again in January.  Those years, we did not celebrate our birthdays together.  But we were still friends.

On the eve of my 38th birthday, which seems very old and very young at the same time, I am thankful that M is still in my life.  Tomorrow I will wake up early and call her when it is still her birthday in Georgia, but it is already my birthday in Bahrain, because it's funny.  I will tell her I love her and how grateful I am for her and we will get ready to experience our 38th year on this planet together- not physically close, but in each other's hearts.

Tonight, I will also reflect on how blessed I am to be living the life I am living.  I have an amazing husband, beautiful children, wonderful friends and family around the world.  I miss being near them but I know they love me.

I will also miss my mom tonight, as I do most nights.  But I will miss her especially as I remember our last conversation, which took place on my 32nd birthday.  She had a collar made for Bay with my email address on it and was so excited to show it to me over Skype.  I wasn't as appreciative as I could've been but I did like it.  Bay still wears it.

There's no telling what this year will bring.  Our new adventure in Serbia glistens on the horizon, but there are a lot of moments to be lived between now and then.  I ask for guidance to live my best life.  I pray for me and M that 38 will be the best of the years we've had, and the worst of those yet to come.

Happy Birthday, M!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

5 Goals for 2016 (Formally Known as Resolutions)

A couple of days before Christmas, a new friend and I went to the Qal'at ar-Rifa, or the Riffa Fort, around 4:00pm because we wanted to check out the lighting so that we might take family photos of each others families there.  I recently put my photography on the back burner as I pushed and shoved my way through November- Nanowrimo, the MS/HS play I was directing, the beginning of my IB coursework, recruiting for, interviewing for, and eventually getting a job for 2016/2017 in Belgrade, and report cards.  Not to mention actually teaching and spending time with the aforementioned family.  Something had to give, and it's been the amount I've picked up my camera.
The Fort at sunset
There are so many beautiful doors

The Ladybug got in on the action
So when Christmas holidays rolled around and I found myself with a tiny bit more free time, I wanted to spend some more time with the ol' girl.  I realized how much I missed taking pictures and editing and feeling the pride of looking at the perfect shot.  It made me question what I really wanted to do with my creative streak- is writing what I want?  Is it photography?

THEN- there was a woman on our recent flight to Thailand.  You want to know what she was doing?  She was KNITTING.  The last time I tried to knit on a plane, I almost had all of my yarn taken away, lest I should try and choke someone with it.  I stopped taking my projects and my needles on planes after that incident (thanks, Guatemala) and haven't spent much time with them here in Bahrain because wool is expensive and challenging to find.

Also, it's hot most of the year and who needs a knitted sweater or beanie when it's 125 degrees outside?

But it got me thinking- do I want to write?  Take pictures?  Knit?

I realized the answer was: All three.  I want to do all three.  But who the heck has time for that?

A blogger.  That's who.  Which lead me to consider my 5 Goals for 2016, which I have outlined here in no particular order.

1. Refocus my attention on my blog.  I want to write a book- for the love of God, I've been trying since I was eight.  But it is so time-consuming and I feel like it may not be the right time in my life to lock myself away from my family for hours a night.  It will come.  But not this year.  This year, I want to focus the blog- travel/photography/creativity- which admittedly doesn't sound very focused, but I think it can work.  I plan to have four entries a week- a wordless, photo-only day and three written entries, and I am going to explore the areas of Bahrain that I haven't explored.  I'm also going to write about what it's like to transition from one country to the next seeing as we have this very exciting job looming in our near future.

2. Spend some time with my camera.  I have always enjoyed photography.  I got my first 'real' camera in 8th grade and must've taken a least a zillion pictures on our family trip to Disney that year.  I like the memories, and I like creating them.  My new friend Heather has me exploring negative space.  I like that, too.

3. Challenge myself to stay on a healthy track.  I always say, 'I wanna lose xxx pounds this year,' and I work out for twenty minutes and call it a day.  This year, I want to look at the way my family eats and try to incorporate more veggies and less sugar.  I will also find time to schedule in regular exercise.  I like exercising.  The Rugby Star and I  were doing Insanity together for a month and I loved it- I felt stronger and healthier and PROUD.  Then, time became a problem.  I want to make that time again.

4. I'm gonna knit.  I like knitting.  I like knitting when I'm watching TV.  I think it would help me to spend extra time with the Rugby Star.  Which might sound weird, but I feel like I'm wasting time if I'm watching TV or movies now.  I'd rather read or write or edit pictures.  But you can't read and write while watching TV and, though I can edit, I don't need to do that every night.  Knitting (did I mention I like it) makes me feel productive, while relaxing and spending time with the one I love most.  Plus I get to make cute hats and such.  And we're moving to COLD next year.

5. Every other week, I'm going on a date with the Rugby Star.  Nothing is going to stand in our way.  I've even decided it will be on Tuesdays.  We have no obligations after our faculty meetings on Tuesdays.  One week, we'll go out.  The next week, we'll have a family date night, followed by a movie, show, or game together.  I am bound and determined.  This will happen.

So there are my goals.  2015 was a pretty okay year for me and I hope that 2016 will be even better.  Maybe it will, maybe it won't.  Only time will tell.  But I'll face it head on and do my best to stay positive and present.  I'm excited to see what the next year brings.

Do you have any goals for 2016?  What are they?

Happy New Year!