Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summer Bucket List Check-In


Back in June, I posted my Summer Bucket List. Because summer is most definitely officially over, and it's time for me to start contemptaing my goals for fall, here's what I crossed off my list over the past three-ish months:

1// Go kayaking (for the first time!) | I had a trip planned for the whole in-law family, but we found out shortly before that Chuck had to work, which killed my plans. Womp, womp.

2// Eat as much ice cream as possible. | Pregnant in the summer time? Yeah, pretty sure I nailed this one.

3// Family vacay in Cape May, NJ. | We reunited with family and friends, played in the waves, and oh yeah, ate our weight in seafood. Success.

4// Visit the Farmer's Market at least once per month. | Technically, I only made it to the Farmer's Market twice this summer, due to my work schedule. But I did make plenty of trips to some of our local farm stands so I'm counting it as a win.

5// Eat brunch on the patio of our favorite local restaurant. | The Farmer's Market Omelet was made all the more enjoyable by the summer sun warming my freckly skin. Ah, bliss.

6// Go swimming. | Both in the ocean and in our hotel pool!

7// Plan our second anniversary weekend trip. | I don't know that a day trip to Cincinnati constitutes a trip, and this year, my loving Hubby actually did all the planning!
8// Host a 4th of July shindig. | We did and it was great! We grilled out, conversed with friends and watched the fireworks over the treeline behind our house.

9// Go hiking and bike-riding with my Hubby. | Still not giving up hope on this one before the year is up!

10// Blog more. | I've been moderately successful at this thanks to the little bean growing in my belly!

11// Read all the dang time. | I finished my 2014 Reading Challenge in August. So yeah, this one is in the bag.

12// Attend an Ohio festival. |  I had the opportunity to volunteer for my employer at Columbus Pride back in June!

13// Cross another item off my Ohio Bucket List. | I finally ate at Skyline! I even got a little goodie bag for being a first-timer.

14// Attend a Reds baseball game. | FAIL. I'd love to substitute the Bengals for this, but we've got a baby to save up for, so splurging on NFL tickets isn't high on the list of priorities.

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Did you manage to accomplish everything you set out to do this summer?

Be sure to check back for my Fall Bucket List...and I may have a special giveaway planned for tomorrow. Just sayin'...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Grandma


I'm sitting here thinking about my Grandma. The years I shared with her, the memories. It's strange, but I'm having a difficult time pinpointing exact, specific memories of her. It's more like one, long unconscious glimpse of her stunning and inspiring character. 

My Grandma was the most lively, vibrant person I've ever known.

For our entire childhood, when school let out, my Mom would make the 5-hour drive to her hometown in New Jersey where we would spend the next 3 months until school resumed once again. Our summers with Grandma consisted of working at the family company, making weekly trips to the library,  and completing "assignments" which we moaned and groaned about like kids do, but secretly loved.

My Grandma said she had spent forty years of her life cooking for her family so once it was no longer required of her- she gave it up. Instead, she treated herself (and us) to dinner out almost every night. When she walked into her local Applebee's or family diner, she was treated like royalty. As the "adoptive Grandma" of every waitperson on staff, servers fought to get her table. Once our orders were in, they would help themselves to a seat at our table where Grandma would make the same introduction, "These are my granddaughters. Aren't they beautiful?!" The server would then give her the latest updates on their life- where they were going to school, what they were studying, their relationship status. My Grandma would listen intently and give them big hugs as they returned to their duties. Even the servers whose names she couldn't remember were treated like her favorite person in the world. It wasn't until after they left the table that she would ask us, "What was his name? He is the neatest guy and I can never remember his name."

My sister and I joked not that long ago that our Grandma is the sole reason why we are so well-adjusted in our adulthood. Given some of the trauma we experienced in our younger years, you'd think we'd be much more messed up. But every ounce of damage that was done to our young hearts and minds, was instantly healed just by being in her presence. Not a day went by during those summer months when I didn't feel completely supported, unconditionally loved and appreciated for exactly who I was.

I only have one memory of my Grandma ever being legitimately angry with me and it has continued to stick with me all these years. During our annual beach trip to Cape May one year, the three of us walked along the boardwalk and my Grandma noticed an elderly couple (probably around the same age she was) struggling to carry their plethora of beach essentials across the sand. "Kaity, go help them carry their things." Being the horrifyingly introverted little girl that I was, I said I didn't want to, citing that I was too shy and didn't want to approach them. After much coaxing, and consequent resistance from me, my Grandma angrily exclaimed, "Well, that's just crap!" My Grandma never swore, The fact that she used the "c" word was the closest she'd ever gotten. I had never felt more ashamed and disappointed in myself than I did as the elderly couple continued to struggle and my Grandma and Kelly walked back to our hotel 20 feet ahead of me the rest of the way. The only time my Grandma was ever angry with me was for failing to help someone in need.

I think it's safe to say she was my molding force in pursuing a life of service. As we got older, our visits became limited mostly to holidays and an occasional spring break or three-day weekend. But my Grandma loved hearing about what we were learning. One Thanksgiving during college, I took the train to spend the long weekend with her. Over Thanksgiving dinner at Charlie Brown's steakhouse, we talked about politics, religion and life, in general. In a former life, she was an English teacher and her love and devotion to education and learning was something she imparted on us at a very young age. 

She introduced me to my love of reading and writing. This blog exists because my Grandma spent so much of her time encouraging me to write. She was enamored with the beauty of the natural world and could frequently be found thanking the trees in her front yard for all they did for her. She took care of herself- eating healthfully and going for long walks around her neighborhood. She treated everyone with love and kindness and believed in the goodness of people.

Every remotely good thing about myself comes from trying to model my Grandma's example.

Even though there is so much more to be said about this woman, there aren't enough words in the English language to do her justice. But I know, she would be happy I'm writing. She would have read these words and proceeded to compliment me on what a beautiful writer I am. 

Since receiving the news of her passing, I've been surprised by my own emotions. Although there is some lingering sadness, I have felt mostly relief. My Grandma's last months were not her best and it was heart wrenching to see her in the state of pain she was in, confined to a nursing home bed. My Grandma deserved better than that. I know she is free from suffering and she is at peace. I like to think she and my Grandfather (who died long before I was born) are finally together again and it fills me with joy. My Grandma spent thirty five years as a widow and lit up whenever she spoke about the man whom she was still madly in love with.

Today is the day our family will have an intimate graveside service in her honor. I will, no doubt, be emotionally exhausted when the day is through. But for now, I just feel exorbitantly thankful to have known this amazing woman and blessed to have been able to call her mine.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Numb


What do you say when the words just aren't there?

How can you possibly sum up the life of a soul who changed yours forever?

How do you begin to fathom a life lost that you wrongly and naively believed would always be there?

The world lost a beautiful, amazing woman last night and I don't think it has fully sunk in yet. 

Over the next few hours, days and weeks, I know it will hit me, and I will inevitably crumble into a sobbing mess of a person. But right now, I just feel numb.

I lost my Grandma.

I am thankful the pain is gone.

I am thankful for the family and the legacy she left behind.

I am thankful for her eternal love and support.

Not many people truly understand me. Mind, body and soul. But my Grandma did.

She was a beacon of light and joy when things in life were bad, really bad.

She was my biggest cheerleader.

She was my best teacher.

Even as I type these words. They all seem wrong. There is no way to adequately convey the impact this woman had on my life.

So until this all sinks and until I find the words (if I ever do), I sit here. Numb.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

25/26 Weeks


Baby Pep,

Man, making a human is tiring! I’ve been a walking zombie this week and I need to keep reminding myself that 6 hours of sleep is not going to cut it- I need a curfew! I’m also using my fatigue and general work busyness as my excuse for why I'm combining two weeks in one. So, what’s new for 25/26 weeks?

I had another appointment with the midwife last week. I had previously tried to have my glucose test done at an outside lab, but the lady said she couldn’t do them without my orders. Come to find out, the orders were on an online medical billing system, so I drank that sickeningly sweet drink for nothing. The nurse at my midwife's office gave me another bottle and we’re going to try again next week! I had heard such horror stories about how gross the glucola drink is that I really worked myself up to the point of being nauseous before I drank it. It’s not exactly something I would choose to drink on the regular, but compared to what I was expecting- it wasn’t bad at all. I just threw it back like a shot and went about my day.

Another exciting thing we did last week was visit our friends Frankie and Willow. Frankie had Willow just two months ago so, of course your Mama was peppering her with all sort of questions about labor and breastfeeding. It was so wonderful to hold little, squishy Willow (albeit awkwardly because your Mommy still doesn't know what to do with other people's kids) and imagine what it will feel like to have you in my arms in just a few months. Frankie’s new role as Mommy fit her like a glove, and Willow's Daddy, John, seemed equally as content and enamored with his little one. I left their house feeling more at peace than I have this entire pregnancy. Sure, the sleepless nights and labor pains have me freaking out on any given day. But as I watched Frankie feed and cuddle little Willow, I couldn’t help but think- well, this doesn’t seem so bad! I can’t wait to hibernate and cuddle with you all winter long.

Your heartbeat was strong and your kicks are as persistent as ever. Mama’s been a tad bit emotional lately, but I’m growing more accustomed to your presence in my life every day.

With all my love,
Mommy


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summer Reading: Hits and Misses


The past few months I've been following Megan's Summer Reading Challenge. Although, I wasn't able to finish the challenge, I came pretty darn close. In four months, I conquered 15 total books. That's almost a book a week! As the cool weather approaches, and book-filled nights on the couch are in the future, I thought I'd share my Summer Reading Hits and Misses:

HITS


Clearly, if you're not expecting, or even if you are, this may not be your cup of tea. But let me just say- this book is a complete wealth of information for anyone interested in learning more about the laboring and delivery process, without being totally overwhelming. The book does promote natural birthing, but also provides very good information regarding all of the different factors involved in a conventional hospital birth in an informed and unbiased way. As I read through, I was able to write down questions that I never would have thought to ask my midwife otherwise. The book also includes a number of real-life birth stories so you can see the methods discussed in a real-life context. This was a five star read for me!


For fans of the Divergent series, this is a must-read. It's a good portion of the trilogy told from the perspective of the character, Four. I breezed through this and loved every minute of it. I gave this book four stars!


I have to admit, like many other readers, I hated the ending, but this book about a man accused of killing his wife is a complete page-turner. The story is darker than I normally would be a fan of, but I can't deny for a second that it was so full of twists and turns, that I couldn't put it down. Also, the writing is just plain, really well-done. I gave this book four stars.


MISSES


Normally, I really enjoy Emily Giffin. Something Blue? Loved. Baby Proof? Loved. This book? Hated. Without giving away the plot, I just have to say- the premise of this book was really gross and creepy. I'm counting down the days until Giffin's next light, Chick Lit read, because as far as I'm concerned- this book was a huge flop! I gave it two stars.


Three stars was probably generous for this book, but I find Jenny McCarthy generally pretty funny, so I gave her a slight edge. Belly Laughs was recommended by a couple Mommy bloggers so I thought I'd give it a shot, but dang. This book was terrible. The book was essentially the size of a children's book and written about as well. There were funny and heartfelt moments, but they were few and far between. Overall, I'd just go ahead and skip this one.


Chelsea Handler is another one whom I usually find entertaining, but I found her immaturity and lack of class kind of exhausting in this book. I can only imagine the kind of impression of Americans she left behind in the wake of her African travels. The writing wasn't quite as atrocious as Jenny McCarthy's, but overall, I think she should stick to late-night. She just doesn't come across funny in her writing. I gave this book three stars.

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What were your summer reading hits and misses this year? 
Any recommendations for Fall?

Images courtesy of Goodreads.