Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gas price truth

Oh how I wish I could pay $0.38 a gallon every time I fill up. In actuality the gas was $1.78 and I had 140 bonus points at the adjoining grocery store... which translates to $1.40 off per gallon. Not too shabby when you consider you need groceries and gas!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I have been thinking about this post for the past few days... how and what to write... in what light did I want to paint my life. Then I received a response from a friend, Adrienne, who, in the course of her email, said "I thoroughly enjoy your updates because I know you won't censor them. Thanks for being so honest about your struggles.....along with all the joys! I really respect that!" - So here it is. My honest feelings.

I am so disillusioned with families these days. As you know, I have been reaching out to particular people in my family... with varying results.

I have been exchanging emails with David (my biological father) for the past week or so.

Let me stop and provide a little background. When I was only months old, I attended David and my mothers wedding... presumably I was the reason for the wedding ;~) They stayed married for 7 years and I have a few memories... some good, more bad. When I was 7, David divorced my mom and my mom and I left the house. I visited him on weekends for about a year and then contact pretty much stopped. Around that time David married a former flame who had a daughter about 8 or 9 years older than me. I spoke with him on rare occasions... you could count on one hand from age 8 until 18. The last conversation I had with him ended poorly because I called too late... at 10.

Back to present day. The emails have been civil... your basic getting caught up kind of information. He even provided me with some medical background (he has cancer) so that I might keep it in mind for Chase when he is older. We have avoided any sticky topics of conversation... partly because we are on email and partly because... well, they're not pleasant to talk about. I was ok with things until his latest email. In previous emails he had stated that Laura was my half sister... which shocked me because I only ever thought she was a step. The last email stated that his wife corrected him and said she would be my step sister... not my half. Then he went on to say

"Neither Laura nor I like that term “step” because of the bad connotations it has so we have never referred to each other as step this or that. Laura’s biological father passed away several years after Aster and he were divorced."

I'm sorry... what? Bad connotations? What connotations does "abandonment" or "rejection" stir up for you? What about "fatherless"? Give you a warm fuzzy?

Now please don't get me wrong... I am of the opinion that if you feel close enough to someone, drop the step. I don't call my dad "stepdad" even though technically he is. Adam doesn't call his dad Joe "stepdad" even though technically he is... nor does Adam refer to Nick as a half brother because Nick is his brother, that's it. I am all for ditching the step or the half.

However, may I say "KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE" He's going to write that to me? Of all people? I am sitting here trying to figure out if he is stupid or uncaring... I don't know which I wish for.

Also, let me point out that I LOVE... and I mean truly LOVE when men take on roles to which they are not assigned. My 2 great examples are my dad and Adam's dad Joe. I love Adam's dad Joe because he fell in love with Sandy and then fell in love with her boys. He walked into an instant family and didn't look back. My dad did the same thing with my mom... and I was 17... and we all know how trying 17 year old girls can be! But he did it and with a glad heart I believe. He helped me through college, he saw me through (lots of) dating and he helped shape my perception of what a man is supposed to be. I love him for everything he has done and am so glad he continues to be in my life. So I get it... men stepping into roles they weren't assigned is a wonderful thing.

However, Laura loses a father and David steps in to play daddy to her? What about the actual blood related daughter that God assigned to him? I wonder if he ever, in all the years of being her 'father', once thought of me and wondered if I had a father? Again, I am trying to figure out if he is stupid or uncaring.

I haven't yet responded to him... quite obviously I am not sure what I will say. I do know that it won't make me bitter or hateful again. I spent years on that wasted emotion and I would rather not go back. I am hurt though and I am not sure how to deal with that. I am not sure if telling him is the way to go or just pushing it off would be better. It's a gray area that I am still trying to find my way through.

For all the frustration I feel right now, I am still glad I sent the announcement. In my emails with David, he put me in touch with his sister and her daughter (Aunt B and Cousin C) to which I am extremely grateful. I have very fond memories of my childhood with them and have often looked back at pictures wondering how they are doing. It has been wonderful catching up with them and I look forward to staying in touch and one day reuniting.

As for the other side of my family... even more turmoil. I received this email from M...

Oh Jess, I can't begin how happy I am to hear from you. My prayers have been answered, it's like a miracle. I have prayed to hear from you or your mom since this terrible thing happened years ago. I have so much to say and to catch up in this e-mail would go on for days. Your baby is so beautiful, hopefully, I can see him soon. My home #xxx-xxx-xxxx, my cell is xxx-xxx-xxxx,please call me! I really have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! With lots and lots of love, Mxxxxxxx.

At first glance it seems genuine and heartfelt but knowing what I know about the past, I was still extremely guarded. I decided to call her the next day while Chase was sleeping... which happened to be in the middle of the day. I did this because I knew she would be working and I didn't want this to be a long drawn out conversation... at least not the first one. I wanted to scope out her attitude and her real interest in me and then decide how far a friendship would go.

I called her and when she answered it was actually very movie like... her breath drew in and I sensed a shaking in her voice. She was definitely happy to hear from me. We exchanged the "hi, how are ya's" and spent a few minutes catching up. She was actually very close, within 30 minutes, to Hagerstown a few weeks prior. Turns out she has a friend that lives in Martinsburg and visits somewhat regularly. She was extremely excited that she would be able to see Chase and me on her next visit.

Now for you astute readers... you may have picked up on something that I noticed as soon as I read her email. "I have prayed to hear from you or your mom". I have spent the past 4 years wondering if M knew about my mother's death. I always assumed she did because so much of my mother's family knew... I thought that somehow, someway the news would have gotten back to her.

I was wrong. She then said "So how is mom?" I inhaled deeply and said "I am not sure how to say this but we lost mom 4 years ago." Again, her breath drew in and she was speechless. I filled in the silence by adding that it was actually 4 years ago yesterday, Nov 12. She sputtered and stammered for a moment... asked how... was it the cancer? Yes, it was the breast cancer... it had metastasized to various parts of her body and it got to the point where it was impossible to keep fighting it because it was in too many places... her head, her legs, her lungs.

I never apologized for not contacting her but I did say that I thought the news would have gotten back to her because parts of the family knew. She said that she often wondered if mom were ok but that cousin 3 would tell her "if something happened, someone would have contacted you".

We kept moving through the conversation and she seemed to react as well as I could have expected... especially in light of the curve ball I just threw her. She made sure she had my correct number, she wanted to call and catch up when she wasn't at work. She was sympathetic to me about losing mom. She still seemed interested in my life. Just before we got off the phone (I could hear them calling her for a meeting) I asked her which of the cousins had the baby... I knew she was a grandma and I wanted to know who had the baby. She hastily informed me that cousin 3 had a baby in Feb 06... a little girl. She, the baby and cousin 2 were living out of state but that she talks to them often and sees them when she can. She then told me that she, cousin 3 and cousin 2 were estranged from cousin 1. Apparently cousin 1 cut them out of her life... just stopped calling or taking their calls. Somehow M found out that cousin 1 had a baby boy around the same time I had Chase but that cousin 1 still won't talk to the family.

We hung up and I sat back and thought about their estrangement. My first thought (albeit not a nice one) was "karma's a b****, isn't it M". Hey, I said I would be honest. I quickly dismissed that thought because even with the bad blood between our families, I don't wish that for her.

I spent the next few days forgetting about all the family insanity and enjoyed myself at Rose's wedding. I can honestly say I didn't think about any of this stuff while I was there and it was wonderful!

When I got home, I discovered that I had received a return to sender birth announcement. Apparently I had an incorrect address for cousin 2 and cousin 3. Not related to the returned birth announcement... I started to get the feeling that I wouldn't be hearing from M. I had this sense that she was angry with me for not contacting her when mom died. I decided to use the returned announcement as an opening... I emailed her to get their new address. That was 5 days ago and I still haven't heard from her. Now I know, she may not check her email on a regular basis... she could be busy... she could be this that or the other thing. Any of those things could be true but I have the sneaking suspicion that she is angry with me.

I don't know how I will handle the situation moving forward but I do know that I will not apologize for not contacting her. It wasn't my responsibility to inform her of our life changes. I am sorry that she didn't know and that she wasn't there but that is the risk you run when you cut someone out of your life... especially someone with cancer. If she wants to be angry with me then I can't stop her but I won't let her anger rest on my shoulders.

Even though M and David have caused me some frustration and sadness, I am still not sorry I sent the birth announcements. I believe I made the right decision and I am still very happy and content with my life. I'm not sure what I will do with any of this... just ride it out and see where it takes me I guess! I just needed to vent here. Thanks for listening. I feel like I am living in a soap opera.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Florida Part 2

We got to the house around 11 and it was clear that there was still much to be done.  Again, we jump into the 'what can we do' mode.  I am not sure at what point I became the wedding planner but it definitely happened.  I think my keen sense of bossing people around took over and by the end of the night I was on a first name basis with the caters, buddy buddy with the DJ, and the go to person for questions and direction.  I basically just tried to follow the instructions in the coveted 'wedding binder'... God love you Rose for being so FREAKING organized!  

Finally the time came and Rose walked down the aisle... brick stone aisle that Nick's parents put in specifically so Rose and Nick could be married under the oak trees... 

It couldn't have been a prettier more perfect setting and it couldn't have happened to a better couple!   This picture is one of my favorites because the 3 of them form a heart shape... cheesy but cool!

A better view of the path and the trees where Rose and Nick were married.

My absolute favorite shot of the day... they are just so beautiful! 

MZ, Kara, Laura and I enjoying the reception... I think that was wine glass number 3 of 4.  I should have stopped at 3. 

With the happy couple!  BTW... totally want to move into Nick's parents house.  It was so gorgeous!

I stole the bride's shoes and tried them on... totally awesome aren't they!  Nick wore pink paisley socks with his suit so they matched!  

The entire day was fantastic... from helping get things rolling, to watching Nick and Rose exchange vows, to partying it up with good friends.  It was one of the best weddings I have attended!  

Round about the 4th glass of wine I decided (much to the happiness of those driving me home) that I should switch to water.  I downed 2 bottles at the wedding and another 3 glasses at OB's. Oh, what is OB's you ask... only the most rocking biker bar in town.  I am not sure how it was decided but MZ was on the hunt for a good Grey Goose drink so OB's is where we went.  I can't even begin to explain how much we stood out from the local crowd.  I made fast friends with a local yokel in the corner who informed me that he had been drunk for 40 years.  Awesome.  We enjoyed the scene for a little longer and then called it a night.

Thankfully the insanity next door and the Spanish wedding were no where to be found and we passed out as soon as we hit the room!  

The trip home was much less eventful than the way there... thank goodness!  
Dropping the car back at the rental place... good riddance to the PT!  

It was an awesome weekend and I am really so glad I could be a part of it... Rose and Nick, what do you say, same time, same place next year?  I'm game! 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

While I was gone

Chase took over 2 hour naps for daddy. Today, he took a 30 min nap. Seriously I want to rip my hair out. I don't know what I am doing wrong but now I officially know it is me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Florida Part 1

Getting to Florida was interesting but once we were there... well, it continued to be interesting.

When I met up with Kara at the airport Mary Zane was sitting with her... apparently MZ missed her flight and had to take a later flight. I was happy... I thought she missed her earlier Southwest flight and just switched her ticket. Not so much... she missed her Air Tran flight and all the later Air Tran flights were full and they could only offer standby... which would have been fine if she didn't HAVE to be at the wedding. Oh did I mention, she was officiating. So.... she kind of had to be there. I feel that I have to mention she has NEVER missed a flight before... out of many many flights, never missed a flight. Never.

The 3 of us got on the plane and proceeded to bounce our way from Baltimore to Orlando. There may have been 10 minutes when that plane wasn't rocking.

Finally we arrive at Orlando, get to the rental car place and get our Ford Focus... only they upgraded us to a PT Cruiser. Ok, cool... this should be fun!

If you own a PT Cruiser, please don't read the next sentences. It was not cool... we started a list of things we do not like about PT Cruisers. For instance, there is no hatchback release in the car or outside the car... you have to use the key. So if you happen to stop somewhere, like a bank, and someone, say the driver, has to get into her bag in the hatchback... you have to stop the car, get out, key open the hatchback, do your thing, close the hatchback and then get back in and start the car up. Sounds easy enough but do it a few times and it's quite a pain. Oh and the child safety lock was engaged and we couldn't figure out how to disengage it... so someone had to let the backseat rider out each and every time. It's amazing how quickly you can forget to get that person. Oh and the screaming 4 horsepower... we LOVED that. I mean it literally took at least 45 seconds to go from 0 to 55. There are some blue hairs in FL that are still cursing our PT. I could go on and on but I digress... back to the story!

We got to Nick's parents house for the rehearsal a tad bit late... after we got lost only feet from their front door... yeah, that takes talent. Regardless, we got there. Immediately we jumped into 'what can we do' mode. There was still quite a bit of things to get done... as with any wedding!

We do that for a few hours and then head to the hotel to check in and decompress before the rehearsal dinner get together.

At the rehearsal dinner someone mentions they are about to launch to the space shuttle... naturally I thought we would watch it on the TV bolted to the ceiling... but alas, we are in FL only mere miles from Cape Canaveral... we can watch it live! The natives figured out where we needed to be standing for the best view and we stood there and watched the sky go from pitch black to a brilliant pink and purple and then a blast of fire through the sky. It was very cool to be standing there watching the space shuttle live.

Once back inside the 3 old farts took off for bed. I mean hell, we made it to 9:30... longer than each of us thought we would!

Kara and I were sharing a room and Mary Zane was far away down the other end of the hall... a stroke of luck she should still be thanking her lucky stars for. Kara and I finally settled down to get some sleep (only after finishing our wedding assignment... yep, there were take home projects!) around 10:30/11. Not 15 minutes after we lay down and JUST as we are starting to fall out does the loudest, rowdiest group of people I have ever heard, start walking down our hallway. Then they stop, what sounds like right out side our door... even better, they enter the room next to us. Just a paper thin wall away there is a ludicrous amount of shrieking and yelling, rap battles taking place and WWF body slamming going on.

I do my best to fall asleep... to no avail. I am going to have to be that person. At this point I think Kara is sleeping so I quietly call the front desk and ask them to tell the room to quiet down. As soon as I hang up I hear a muffled, exasperated "thank you" from Kara. Now we can commiserate together. For another 5-10 minutes the noise gets no better... it may have even gotten worse. I am gathering my nerve to go beat down the door and be the old fuddy duddy. I look out the peep hole to see if I can spot them coming and going from the room and who do I see but Rose and Nick! I open the door just in time to hear Rose say "the entire hotel is complaining about you guys! You have to be quiet" Nick looks over at me and says "Oh God, you 2 are next to these guys??" Apparently Nick, nice well mannered Nick, has some extremely rambunctious (and I won't use the words I really want to use to describe them since Nick is a good friend) friends. At this point, genius at the door to the loud room is saying "I am sorry, I am not the one making the noise" Oh. I. Lost. It. "Are you in the room? Then you are part of the problem! I just want to sleep... I get one night away from my son and this is what I get stuck with???" and SLAM. Now there may have been an expletive that came out... I can neither confirm nor deny. Also, in my defense, that door was a heck of a lot lighter than I thought it was... so it made a much louder sound than I was anticipating. Whatever, it shut them up long enough for Nick to convince them the cops were on their way and they had to leave the hotel. It worked. They all filed out and went to some local guys house. Can I ask this... WHY WOULDN'T THEY HAVE GONE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE? Why would you risk angering an entire hotel and putting your friends (the bride and groom at that) in an awkward situation when you could just as easily go to some stand alone house and make all the noise in the world?

Regardless... I have now slammed the door on Nick and Rose inadvertently (for which I am still sorry guys!) and my blood pressure was through the roof. Kara and I spend another half hour calming ourselves down so we can get some sleep.

Not 5 minutes after we closed our eyes to fall asleep do we get a light knocking on our door. It is a older Spanish woman from the other wedding party staying on the fourth floor... she apologizes profusely when a very bleary eyed me answers the door. I grimace and close the door. 10 minutes later... same knocking. Different person, same wedding. I grimace harder and close the door. 10 minutes later... same knocking. I fling the door open and stand in the hallway... "You have to be kidding me, can I help you with something?" The same Spanish woman from earlier is at my door with other members of the wedding party. Apparently they are mistaking our door for one of their doors... before you ask, YES, they do have numbers on them... I don't know why they can't see that. The response I got to my exasperated question... "So sorry, the father of the bride and her grandmother were in a horrible accident on the way home from the wedding." Well now don't I feel like a schmuck... I apologize and close the door yet again. I turn to Kara and tell her what a schmuck I feel like but that I also think they should go to the hospital and stop knocking on our door! Another half hour of some lame lifetime movie to zone us out and we FINALLY fall asleep.

Now when we were going to bed at 11 I had every confidence that one of us would wake up at a decent time... we both have one year olds and are constitutionally incapable of sleeping in. However, now that it is 1:30 in the morning I feel it is necessary to set an alarm... which we do... for 8 am. I kid you not when I tell you that at 7:30 in the morning we hear the same knocking on our door... I jump out of bed and see the same Spanish woman standing in the hallway. Seriously, are we on candid camera? Sadly, no. She just got the wrong room again. I throw the door closed and flop back in bed. By this time it's too late... we are up and have started our day.

It's going to be a great day though... because we are watching Rose and Nick get married! Stay tuned for the rest of the story!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Long and short of it...

Chase has a respiratory infection (bronchitis). I thought he was doing better after the doctors yesterday (fever broke RIGHT before we went in, of course) but this morning the fever spiked back up and he was just absolutely miserable. Good ole Amoxicillin to the rescue. I am hoping it kicks in soon although the doc said it could take a couple days.

I am still planning on going to the wedding tomorrow (barring anything life threatening popping up) but I would SO like to see him feeling just a little bit better before I board a plane. Saying my prayers now... if you feel so inclined, I would love to have your prayers as well.

In the ongoing olive branch news... I received an email from my aunt yesterday. She was very excited to hear from me and that it was an answer to prayer. I want to put it out there that I am approaching this very cautiously. First, anyone can use the phrase 'answer to prayer'... I am not assuming she is a God fearing Christian ready to make ammends for all past wrongs. Second, I am vaguely aware of why she was so angry at my mother and I feel the same way my mother did... so, if things continue the same way, I won't stand for it. That being said... I am glad to have heard from her and I hope things are different.

What a bizarre journey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

4 years today

It's hard to believe it's been 4 years since my mom passed away. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday and other times I feel like it's always been this way... on rare occasions I forget she is gone. I miss her tremendously and I still (and will always) have days or times when I cry thinking about her missing out on stuff. I will always feel a hole in my life that she once occupied. I will always smile and cringe simultaneously when I see mothers and daughters shopping together. I had a wonderful life with her and I will treasure every moment and memory. It's only because it was so wonderful that it hurts this bad. With great love comes great loss.

Adam and I chatted about how you are supposed to feel on these days... I always want to feel angry, mad at the world, pissy and just a general 'leave me alone' attitude. I want to but I rarely do. I get caught up in the day and what needs to be done. I (now) look at my son and think 'what needs do I need to fulfill for him?'. I go about my day content and generally pleased with my life. This really crappy thing happened 4 years ago on this day but truly my life is good. I have a great husband, a wonderful son, family beyond measure and friends any which way I look.

Here are just a few pictures:

Mom's High School graduation 1969!

Easter 1984

Christmas 1989

No particular holiday... just a family shot... around the 95 - 96 era. BTW, I still miss those sandals... totally wore them into the ground!

So like I said, I get caught up in the day. Today is about packing for one of the best weddings I will ever attend, grocery shopping and making food so daddy has an easier time with Chase this weekend and taking Chase to the doctor. Oh yeah, forgot to mention... little man has been running a fever since Monday. That coupled with some other issues... mama suspects infection. We shall see. If you think about it, please say a quick prayer around 2ish! Thanks!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I asked Chase what he thought about me going to FL for Aunt Rose's wedding without him...

The response is obvious.

What he doesn't know is how much fun he will have with daddy all weekend!

I, on the other hand, am ecstatic about my trip to FL! Kara and I leave in 4 days!

On another topic... remember this post? Which refers back to this post? Well I did it. I sent a birth announcement to my Aunt, 2 of my cousins and my birth father David. Unbelievably, David wrote me back. In all honesty, he was the last one of the 3 I expected to hear from... let alone the first. He was very pleasant and said nice things about Chase. He asked questions about my life and mentioned that he had other grandchildren (which meant that he acknowledged Chase as his grandchild). All in all it was a nice email and I will respond to him at some point... soon... when this settles in a little more.

I am off to start packing for the weekend!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sign me up for my John Deere

Adam and I spent the afternoon cleaning the backyard!

That blower was SO much fun!

Even Chase got in on the act.

Adam conquering his pile of leaves!

There's always time for a little fun... can you spot the husband?

My favorite picture of the day!

It was actually a lot of fun! Of course I don't know if I will feel the same way when leaves have covered the yard by next weekend!

Also, if you think Milk Chocolate Rainbow Non Nonpareils taste like Dark Chocolate White Nonpareils... you'd be wrong.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Not Again...

Busted lip number 2... and this one was worse than the first. I turned around just in time to see his face... specifically his mouth... hit the floor. There wasn't even a pause... straight to screaming. My poor little man. On the upshot (and probably an explanation) he has been really trying to walk on his own today... favoring walking over crawling... balancing himself mid-step... testing his ability. It's been great to watch but this is the downside... his adventurous spirit may turn me prematurely gray.

It couldn't have scarred him too badly... he wolfed down a plate of beef stew, part of a banana and a kiwi. Then it came time for bath and it was as if the fat lip never happened.

As if it never happened...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We Voted!

Chase has participated in the Democratic process! Mommy, daddy and my MIL went to the polling place together after Chase's second nap. We weren't sure what to expect in terms of waiting... turns out we had nothing to worry about. For those of us that can go during the day... easy peasy! We were in and out in 15 minutes.

Chase and I at our voting booth! Only he and I know who I voted for!

The change we need is in my diaper!

Stand up and fight for shorter naps!

(Obama/McCain commentary credited to daddy)

Monday, November 03, 2008

What am I doing wrong?

I got a recipe for Beef Stew from my friend Diana and decided tonight's the night... I am cooking again!

Getting prepped...

Since the house is small and Chase proofed, I can cook in the kitchen while letting Chase roam around the apartment... in theory...

It starts off cute and happy and switches to frantic pretty quickly...

In an attempt to pacify him I give him one of these...

To which he munches on and loves for the 2 minutes it takes him to polish it off.

Before you know it he is back to this...

So I relent and hold him... which makes it virtually impossible to cook but you can see how happy it makes him!

So when it's time for mommy to 'cook' again, Chase goes on the other side of the fence... and this is what mommy gets.

The entire time I felt like I was ignoring him and that made me feel horrible. So please, someone tell me... how am I supposed to cook dinner and adequately take care of my child? My next resort is buying a baby backpack and wearing him while I cook!