2016.

I haven’t written in a while. Sure, I have sat down to write many times, but just couldn’t formulate my thoughts enough to do them justice. Until today.

If you could put a medical diagnosis on a period of time I would classify 2016 as bioplar.

bi·po·lar adjective
1.having or relating to two poles or extremities. “a sharply bipolar division of affluent and underclass”
2. (of psychiatric illness) characterized by both manic and depressive episodes, or manic ones only.

 

Seriously. You. Have. No. Idea. Or perhaps you do in your own world. If so, you are not alone in thinking that 2016 was bipolar.

I’ll begin with a bit of history, 2015.

2015 Seemed like the upswing of amazingness; bought a house, went on an amazing and romantic West Coast trip, got engaged, work was successful, my father was seemingly feeling better from his treatments, and I can actually remember being in the car smiling- thinking THIS IS AWESOME.

I remember immediately thinking after that- this will all come to an end soon. Well, then we welcomed 2016. Oh hello.

Here are some of the lows and highs of the year from my imperfect point-of-view.

Low: Terrorism is at an all-time high to where I am actually afraid to go anywhere.

High: I started planning our wedding! Date, venues, vendors, priests, wedding party, favors and dress. Check.

Low: Our political system went from stupid to something Cypress Hill would sing about- and now the writers of SNL have fallen into a deep hole of the same boring shit every week. We get it. You are bummed Hillary lost and you like mocking Trump. Can you please move the fuck on and bring back Justin Timberlake or Andy Samberg? Or both? Thanks. 

High: The Ice Bucket Challenge actually made a breakthrough in ALS research!

Low: We lost so many people in 2016 that TIME MAGAZINE’s Person of the Year is the Grim fucking Reaper! I mean we lost the ultimate creator of the chick-flick, Willy Wonka, the crazy heiress who slapped a cop and married nine men, Professor Snape, the guy who invented that ice tea & lemonade drink that Gunnar and my father loves, the boxer who makes the argument in Coming to America’s barbershop scene come to a close, Dr. Jason Seaver, the Russian dude from the new Star Trek movies, an astronaut, “The Artist,” Patty Duke, Scrooge McDuck, Janet Reno, Natalie Cole, Grizzly Adams, Miss Cleo, Punky Brewster’s dad (on the show), the mayor who famously says “Bring me the Ghostbusters!”, the man who wrote Hallelujah, the guy who wrote Hotel California, Mr. Hockey, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Larry Sanders, R2-D2, Mrs. Brady, Bowie, the man who made the sentence “I want your sex” actually make sense, Princess Leia AND her mother, and SO MANY MORE. We have been depleted of so much talent. I fear for the tasteless and vulgar “comedy” stylings of the Amy Schumers of the world that we are left with.. I miss the time when there was a little mystery and grace. 

Side note: yes, I know I swear a lot, so I’m not saying that I am graceful. At all. I digress.

trust me, I know.
trust me, I know.

Moving on.

High: I got accepted into the MBA program at UNH for Spring 2017 and Brad got commended for saving a man’s life!

Low: Hatred of EVERYBODY is at an all-time high. I have never before seen anything like this and it scares me every day my husband puts on his uniform. People are being killed for the sake of being killed every single day. In America! I understand that comment might come off ignorant, as people have always died every single day, and now because of social media we are more aware of it, but it feels like its gratuitous sport at this rate. IT NEEDS TO STOP. 

High: We got 10 chickens! I was told not to name them, but I did. I mean, I had to have a Cocky. Don’t worry- I kept Brad in mind as I named the biggest yellow one Clay Matthews. 

Low: We lost all but one of our chickens to a jerkface fox.  You don’t know sad until you see 9 piles of feathers all over your yard. 🙁  RIP Chicken Cocky and Chicken Clay Matthews. That one remaining chicken now lives with our neighbors- who also have chickens. I suggested bringing him in the house to be domesticated, but I guess that isn’t a thing. I tried.

High: Brad finished our beautiful home inside and out. We bought a house, but Brad made it a home with his talent and craftsmanship. Work was good for us and our relationship has been stronger than ever.

Low: Brad lost the two women in his life who raised him. First his mother, Barb. Her failing health just overcame her very slim frame and she took her last breath in February. Then, in July, her younger sister Joanie followed. I don’t know exactly what took her from this life, but I truly believe it was a broken heart. They were best of friends. They were crazy, silly, Wisconsin-salt-of-the-earth women, with good hearts and bright red hair. They raised one of the most amazing men I have ever met in my entire life. Celebrities had nothing on these two women.

red and barb.
red and barb.

High: I got a job offer from an amazing company, Lindt & Sprungli. It was a hard decision to leave the Boston Globe, but the close proximity to home (for my father) and dream position of finally being able to create something had me hooked.

And now for the finale:

Lowest Low: My father’s seemingly dormant prostate cancer came alive and his failing health took an evil turn for the worst as it hit his liver. This was an extremely rare cancer, as apparently prostate cancer metastasizing to the liver doesn’t happen often (so I was told). The real hit was that he kept the actual state of his health from me- so I wasn’t prepared. I never really knew the whole truth. “All you get to know is that I am sick” was what he said to me. Finally, without wanting to be a burden on anyone, and with the full knowledge that he was losing his freedoms with every moment, he took his own life on June 16th. He was only 68. What I do know from this horrible loss is that my father loved Brad and Gunnar. He blessed our upcoming marriage. He blessed Brad as a son. He let me know how proud he was of me and that he loved me very much. He taught me to be confident within myself vs. seek approval. What I wouldn’t give to have him randomly show up, too early in the morning, for pancakes, bacon and orange juice- with pulp. We miss him every single day. I have now made steps to join the Death with Dignity movement. You should too because you never know what hand you’ll be dealt later. 

my father's first (and only) selfie.
my father’s first (and only) selfie.

Highest High: Brad and I got married in the most wonderful celebration I have ever known in Portsmouth, NH. Aside from the lows of the year, we were able to put it aside for one day and celebrate our love. We had friends and family come from all over the country to join us on this champagne and blush, with a touch of Tiffany blue day. We marched down the isle to the most beautiful music of Craig Armstrong (I walked in around the 6 min mark). Gunnar gave the most amazing best man speech on the planet. The music was fun and lively, by the talented Julie Kramer of RadioBDC. The event planner Casey at our reception space  managed our small group of 100 like a pro. Holy good food! Just go there for dinner and imagine that quality of food-multiplied. Nicole Friedler couldn’t have taken better pictures. Everyone got along and laughed the whole day. This might have had something to do with the open bar, but I’m going to take it. And sure, our wedding party was of comical size, and the flower girl refused to turn around for pictures, but we got it done….in a blue 488 Ferrari (Thank you, Ezra!). Our honeymoon on Key West and Little Palm Island was warm and offered the spoils we needed to congratulate us on our nuptials. We did it!

my favorite kiss.
my favorite kiss.

If you can believe it, there are some more lows and highs that have happened this year, but I’m a little spent rehashing all of it. I’ll leave it with what I have recorded and save the rest for another time. You get the picture anyway.

OH! Almost forgot- did I forget to mention today Brad and I have been together five years? Yep! Five years since that first day he opened the gate in my Chicago apartment, touched my hand and changed my life. We are spending the evening at a resort in Maine, and then back home to celebrate our first Christmas as husband and wife.

Mr. & Mrs. Von Haden
introducing the Von Hadens.

2016: So much loss, but so much love. 

 

good karma.

kar·ma
ˈkärmə/
noun
  1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
    • informal
      destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

If I can remember anything from high school, it was the sole value my principal was trying to instill into the student body: integrity. For some reason, this was the one word I remember from every single time he would speak. He was that principal who would make the varsity basketball team practice on one half of the gym, so his spoiled, obnoxious sons could take foul shots on the other half the day before a game. I once got yelled at and called to his office for calling him an asshole, during class, for saying to Vanessa Kermick that women were never going to be as smart as men. I’m not even a feminist. I just remember the look on her face when he said it, and the words came out. My point in telling you this is that my principal wasn’t the nicest man, but he did teach me about integrity. Regardless, the word integrity has become part of something I have always admired in people- and the most attractive quality someone can have. Good thing Brad has more integrity than anyone I have ever met. Perhaps that’s why I love him so much.

With integrity, comes living your life well. Brad said something to me once that has always stuck out. “At the end of the day, the only one who has to look in the mirror at yourself is you.” So, for the almost three years we have been together, I have striven to live my life with the utmost integrity. Not for the return on investment, but because it’s true. I’m the one who has to look at myself at the end of the day. I can’t tell you how fantastic it has been to smile every day I do so.

This past weekend, however, I have learned that my actions have resulted in FANTASTIC karma! I shall relay the past 24 hours to you, as it’s insane.

This weekend, we decided to go to see Lady Antebellum, Billy Currington and Joe Nichols.

Side note: The history of the name “Lady Antebellum” stems from pre-Civil War, before the north won and celebrating the south.  A little surprised that name went over so well, especially given the omnipresent racial war. Being I was raised in NH, I didn’t know the meaning of the Confederate flag, much more than that was the decor of the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee, but I learned very quickly the real meaning of it once college came. Don’t judge my lack of knowledge, my history teacher wasn’t that great- and New England tends to focus the curriculum on Paul Revere and the Boston Tea Party.

just a good ole boy.
just a good ole boy. Never meanin’ no harm.

First act of good karma: I was looking for a hotel room in walking distance to the venue. Not only did someone cancel 5 minutes prior to me calling, but the woman was so nice she gave me an additional $20 off the room.

Second act of good karma: It started to rain like something out of a comedy. We got lawn seats, and of course assumed that we would be in the 20th percentile when it said there was an 80% chance of rain. I went to buy us ponchos and of course they had just sold the last one. Well, the woman behind the counter gave me one look, and simply reached into her bag and gave me her own poncho to take. “Seriously? What will you use?” I asked. “I have an umbrella.” I was in awe of her kindness.

advice: invest in an umbrella.
advice: invest in an umbrella.

Third act of good karma: I only got one poncho, so when I walked back to the completely soaked and smiling Brad, I had nothing to hand him, but the plastic bag the poncho was in. He smiled and proceeded to poke a hole and place it around his head. The people in back of us then handed him a brand new poncho to use.

Fourth act of good karma: 45 minutes in the pouring rain came an angle in our sight with an umbrella. “I have two extra seats inside if you would like them?”  So then our luck moved to the 4th row of the upper section- inside, out of the rain.

you deserve to be inside.
you deserve to be inside.

Fifth act of good karma: I had new earrings in- somewhere in between my dripping wet hair and the slow process of it drying, my earring ripped out of my ear and dropped on the ground. I found it within 3 minutes, directly in front of me.

Sixth act of good karma: I was waiting in a very long line, in the rain, for the bathroom. Upon entering, even though I was third in line to go, the women in front of me insisted I go- for no other reason than I made them laugh.

When things go shitty in your life you can get angry at the higher power or everything around you, even reflecting and blaming within, but it is these little moments of happy that give you hope that good karma really does exist. Either that, or I am one lucky girl.  If I am being honest, it’s probably a little bit of both.

Hope your weekend was as nice as mine.

 

 

 

 

sxm vacation.

the friendly island.
the friendly island.

Recently, Brad and I ventured out of the country to the island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten, for 8 amazing days.  We stayed on the Dutch side, and only visited the French side a couple of times. We met Wanda, the life-long bartender at the Buccaneer, steps from our hotel, and where we watched a World Cup futball match. I got heat stroke and thought I was going to be kidnapped the first morning of our trip. We swam in the sea and drank rum with the fish. I thought I would run through the TOP 10 favorite moments of the trip. Here goes…

1. 5pm the day before we left for the trip. I would say 3pm, as that was when I got the “I’m on vacation!” text from Brad, but that was actually a jerk move because it was then I had to stare at the clock for two whole hours until it was my time to shine. HOWEVER, come 5pm, I had absolute joy knowing that I not only worked my ass off at work, but I was about to be on vacation with my love. That was an awesome moment.

2. Our view from the hotel room.

enough said.
enough said.

3. The scooter. There are no words really to describe this, but I shall try. Imagine 2 fully grown people- one 6’5″ and the other (roughly) 5’9″ on a scooter built for one. This would have not been a problem if the island wasn’t filled with mountains, but it was filled with mountains. Rather than cruising along (which we did just fine going down hill), we ended up in a comical skit, many times, with the theme of “I think I can, I think I can” as we mustered 5MPH uphill. Here is the scooter (and Brad).  It doesn’t look as small as I describe, but trust me when I say we laughed a lot at this poor little thing’s expense.

the little scooter that almost couldn't.
the little scooter that almost couldn’t, at all.

4. The morning we decided to be healthy and hit the gym. We weren’t lazy the whole time while on vacation. We paid our “couple’s fee” of $10 and spent a whole hour getting sweaty! Well, I don’t really sweat, per se, but I totally ran 4 miles while looking at the ocean! Brad did a full body workout. Totally forgot to mention that when we decided to do this “athletic” activity, I couldn’t find my workout shorts. I opted for a black pair of Brad’s underwear and one of his huge t-shirts to cover the “obviously men’s underwear” characteristics. They actually worked quite well.  I found my shorts as I was packing for home. Figures. 

athlétisme (en francais).
athlétisme (en francais).

5. Anguilla and the catamaran. This was so well done I wish I had taken more pictures. $95 for a full day of open bar, snacks (which were amazing with Gouda, apples and baguettes), music, you’re on a freaking catamaran in the Caribbean, a gorgeous sunny day, snorkeling, a boat captain who I am pretty sure was smoking a joint (which was both entertaining to wonder if , indeed, that was what he was doing), a fully catered lunch with grilled and smoked Mahi Mahi, and two stops in the country of Anguilla. One on a little island off the coast called Prickly Pear, and the other on the actual island of Anguilla.

Side note: during the excursion to Anguilla Island (proper), a bunch of friends we had made, swam through a school of jellyfish and got stung. This prompted my panic attack…while swimming. I completely forgot how to swim, so I ended up doing this side-swim-half-dog-paddle thing from shore to the boat. Once on board, Brad let me know that he too was stung. This was the conversation: “I got stung too.” “YOU DID?! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?” (him, very calmly) “You were freaking out, I’m fine.” “I THINK I’M GOING TO PASS OUT.” It didn’t even hurt him. Figures. I digress. I will say, I have never seen so many people offer to pee on one another. It was sweet…

As I said, I didn’t take a ton of photos, as there was snorkeling, rum punch, jelly fish attacks, and applying and reapplying of sunblock involved, but I did take a couple.

IMG_1462  (Video of Brad waving at me after he hoisted the sail on the boat)

6. Bang bang calamari at the Greenhouse Restaurant. I WILL figure out how to make this. Here is the menu for the restaurant, but this is the only thing I’m going to tell you to order, and then order seconds when you are done. It tasted of a Thai peanut sauce with a kick of some spice I want to have over for every meal. I didn’t take this picture, this is courtesy of a blog,The Wandering Sheppard” I found online.

please sir, may i have some more?
please sir, may i have some more?

7. When we decided to go to the grocery store and have snacks and drinks in our room, looking over the balcony. This was nice.

:)
🙂

7. The beaches. Because of the scooter, we were able to explore little beaches on the island that weren’t very populated. Okay, we might have visited the beach where there are people, but not very many of them have clothes on… but most of the island had these little spots with no one on them. And before you ask, NO, I didn’t take pictures. You weren’t allowed. Brad did have to tell me that I probably shouldn’t giggle if we were going to stay.  Brad would sleep and usually I would linger in the water until he would realize I was no longer next to him- and then he would come join me in the water. That was always a nice surprise.

"if there is a heaven for me, i'm sure it has a beach attached to it." -jimmy buffett
“if there is a heaven for me, i’m sure it has a beach attached to it.” -jimmy buffett

8. Laughing. We laughed a lot while on vacation.  That was awesome. I think we both needed that, as we both work a lot. To laugh and just be was really, really nice. One day on the beach, a woman asked what we had done since we had been on the island (this was like on day 6). I had to think about it because I really couldn’t think of anything “exciting,” especially when she kept naming restaurants and a rum factory and all these other notable things. I really couldn’t think of anything (past the scooter), but we just had a really nice time being together.  I think that is more important that having Clark Griswold’s schedule of stops along the way- don’t you?

9. Brad really liked this moment. He got my phone out to take it himself. We had many moments like this one, but this one stands out as it was his.

boat in the setting sun.
boat in the setting sun.

Obviously my most favorite I saved for last, as that’s what you do when you provide a top ten list…

10. Being with the man of my dreams on a island in the Caribbean for 8 days. Did I really have to spell that one out?

The last day, we went to breakfast and I saw this sign:

indeed.
indeed.

I don’t know that I will race to book a trip to St. Martin again. In fact, I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t, as there are so many other places to see in this world. I think next trip will be someplace in Europe.

All in all, we went, we saw, we scooted.

family.

“fam·i·ly /ˈfam(ə)lē/ Noun. A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.”

Family is a funny thing, isn’t it? This post might be a little bit touchy, but I never write anything touchy, so why not? I think in terms of traditional family, especially from the era, which I was accustomed, you think of a family as the mother, father and kids. Maybe a dog or cat- even a fish. Who defines family? I know what I have seen, what I believe, and what I have experienced. I’ll share.

I have seen families where there was the single mother, who refused to remarry after a divorce, who seemed to marry the life of her kids (no matter how involved she wanted to be). She controlled the “family” with use of her (tons of inherited) money, guilt and good old-fashioned yelling and judgment. I know she made fun of me on a regular occurrence, but I also understood she couldn’t help herself. Being that lonely must suck. It’s certainly been one of the more entertaining family situations I have seen: The brother who can do no wrong, the other brother who can do no right and the spoiled princess sister who sits on a pedestal. I won’t mention the odd Oedipal instances, but they were present. CREEPY AS HELL AT TIMES, but present nonetheless.

Side note: If only the mother knew how much I know. Oh, and I don’t understand why she used to follow my Twitter feed and mock me, but I know about that too- and you really have to be bored to look at my Twitter feed. I mock my own Twitter feed! It’s social media, not rocket science! I digress.

I have seen the perfect family. Wife, husband and years of faithful and loving marital bliss. Three successful happy daughters, one of who happens to be my best friend, who now have grown into healthy adults with amazing families of their own. I love this family and wish everyone had the luck, love and happiness they do.

I have seen family with a famous relative(s). The family who has coped (or not coped, rather) with loss. The stage family. The active family. The poor family. The military family. The family with a parent who is a drunk (or smoked something that didn’t smell quite right, but being I was a little girl- I didn’t know it probably was an illegal plant). The family that yelled and fought. The super happy and fun family that always had the cool stuff to play with. The super-rich family. The divorced family. The non-traditional family. The southern family. You name it, and I have probably seen it. Regardless of the situation, it will never compare to the strangeness I have encountered, and the resolution that came out of it.

My sister passed away 4 years ago. It was something out of our control (she had addiction issues, which led to her murder in New Orleans. I am the only one in the family who is honest about it and has no problem talking about it, as it is the truth), but the thing I have always found funny is that since it happened- no one in my family talks about it, her life, or anything relating to her. I mean that seriously. Unless someone is crying about it, there is nothing. I bring up a “fun” time, like our pillow fight tournaments (which were epic and I think I won, once), etc and it is dropped as “too hurtful of a topic.” I don’t get it. Shit, I hope I don’t die! I wouldn’t ever want my memory lost with my heartbeat. Aren’t you supposed to talk about the happy times? Not to mention since she died, everyone has changed. My mom is an insane person now, who treats me like a redheaded step child (and speaking as a woman who has a history of being obsessed with pink flamingos, that is hard to beat). I have not spoken to her in almost a month and she has not called me ONCE to find out why. I find this astounding. At this point, it is pretty clear why I am not speaking to her: Family doesn’t act like this.

Members of my family blow my mind. Just to be clear, what I am about to describe isn’t just how I am treated; many people in the “family” treat everyone this way. In my opinion, (I’ll say it again) Family DOESN’T act like this! Family isn’t jealous and angry and picking fights and writing mean emails all the time. Family doesn’t cut people out for making mistakes and blaming and pointing fingers. Family doesn’t hold grudges! It’s insane the amount of drama that can be within one family. A family should TALK! The one thing I can say though: it truly is fantastic to be able to stand on the outside, looking in, and have nothing to do with any of it. I have removed myself from it all- and I have never been healthier in all my life.

Disclaimer:There are very cool members of my extended family who do not fit any of the above description, and they know who they are. To them: I love you!

The one positive change since my sister died is that I am now close with my father, who doesn’t treat anyone poorly. He is simple guy, with no demands or expectations. Jennifer (my sister’s name- and for some reason I feel like I am saying Voldermort’s name when I type it just now) was very close with my father. Because of that I never got to know him- aside from random singular visits when I lived in South Carolina, Boston and Chicago. My dad comes for breakfast almost every weekend. I make pancakes and he talks about boy things with Brad and Gunnar. He even let Brad take his Harley for a spin the other day (gasp!). Please note- THIS DOESN’T EVER HAPPEN! My father never let us walk near his toys growing up, never mind drive one! Regardless, I’m getting to know my father better and I think that is very cool.

I have some step-ish siblings, but in the 20 years that they have been in my life- they have always had their own thing going on, and I am no one to intrude. Would it be cool if we had more of a relationship? Sure. Will I fight it? Probably not.

My family is my Brad, Gunnar, Lucy (pup) and Buddy (pup). We have a beautiful home. We all get along. We don’t have fights or complain about each other. We don’t talk behind each other’s backs (although, it would be kinda funny if one of our dogs talked about us behind our backs). We make decisions as a family. When we do have an issue, we talk it out. Most of all, we love and respect each other. Coming up in 2 weeks, we have a family trip (sans pups) planned to Sanibel Island. I’m very much looking forward to it!

One last little sweet note: Brad made me a wine rack for our home! It’s made from walnut and cherry wood! It goes perfectly with out new living room furniture!

he imagined, he drew, he created.
he imagined, he drew, he created.

Someone said to me recently that Brad and Gunnar were not my family because “we are not married yet.” Well, I don’t know about you, but aside from the amazing friends I have had along the way- it’s the perfect family for me. After all, it’s mine.

 

the beginning, in dates.

Never before in my life have I received so many compliments of “you look so happy!” or “what have you done differently to yourself?” or “you look amazing!” than I have over the course of the past year.  What’s my secret?  Simple.  I have been officially in love, for the first time in my life, for one whole year.  You have no idea what that does for your skin.

Let me walk you through the beginning, cause it’s my favorite part.  Don’t be deceived though, for I am more in love right this very second, than I was at any of the moments I am about to describe.  Enjoy.

Dec 23rd, 2011.  the reintroduction. (This one is my favorite) One year ago on December 23, while driving non-stop from Kittery, Maine to Milwaukee, WI, a man took a detour in off I-90, in Chicago, IL at 2:30am.  While in Chicago, two people were reintroduced to each other, after only meeting in person once- about a year and a half earlier.  An awkward hour later (of sitting about 6 inches apart on the couch, pretending to watch Gladiator), the man took the girl’s hand as he got up to walk to the door.  An electric shock went through her body so intense that she is typing about it right now for all to see.

Dec 26th the first kiss.  (Okay, this is my favorite too)  The scene: cold winter early evening, her face in his hands, against a car…sigh.  Have you ever melted into someone’s hands?  Yeah, well I have too.

Dec 29th an unsuccessful museum tour.  Yeah, you try walking around a museum when you can’t keep your hands off someone. It’s not easy, at all.  But gosh is it fun to try.

Dec 31st a phone call from a balcony in a Chicago high-rise (at a NYE party): a girl told a boy she loved him.  Oh and I meant it.  It’s not the first time I have said it to someone, but it is the first time I really meant it.  It just came to me and I said it.  I didn’t care how soon it was because it was more true than anything I had ever said before that moment.

About a week later, he said it back.

One year later, and here’s to many, many more.

photo
year 1.

 

thankful.

Holidays are coming up. Makes you think about everything that happened the year leading up to it. As I reflect, it occurs to me just how much I am thankful for the good things in my life. Studies show that people respond to a list, so I thought I would simply be a good student and blog accordingly. I’ll keep it to five things, but know there are hundreds more. Unfortunately, I am long-winded, but you probably knew that already.

1. I am thankful for the times I had with my grandmother, Lois, who passed just a few weeks ago. She was southern and cheery and perverted and creative. How many people can admit that their grandmother was perverted? Oh, I can. I will not go into details, out of respect, but let’s just say I’m accurate. She was married 3 times and even after her last husband passed, was on the prowl. She was fabulous.

The story goes: Lois Rose was a beautiful woman, and when all the men went off to war- they would propose she wait for them for when they came back. “Of course” she would say to them. Well, once the war ended, one handsome Colonel by the name of Earl Schmidt came to collect on his woman. And the rest is history.

Meet the Schmidts.

She was great at Bridge, and played competitively. Lois (not grandma, just Lois) baked me FOUR birthday cakes my freshman year of college. Good Lord could that woman bake. For years I have tried to mimic her methods, but I can assure you I am only mildly close (and I make a damn good cake). She was very into quilting. In fact, she could sew anything. She use to make my Christmas presents (along with her checks for $5)- and at any age would insist I was an adult size extra large. That means in the 6th grade, when I was a whooping 78 pounds at 5’3″- XL. It was amusing, but I wore everything, every time. I am thankful for all the memories I had with her, good and bad. I will remember the giant trampoline in her yard that I use to get my head caught in the springs after my sister would convince me that a front flip was safe. Every grandchild was her “favorite,” to which she would say on the phone, as if on cue, “is this my favorite granddaughter?” I will miss traveling to North Carolina to visit, and I will miss her never quite knowing my name (I have 5 girl cousins and a sister, so I was any mixture of the names Caroline, Jennifer, Robyn, Jessica, Stephanie, or Erica. If I was lucky, Katie would get a shout out). Rest in peace, Lois, you lived a long life with many people who loved you very much.

my quilt. she made one for each of the granddaughters. i got pink.

Update 11/9/2012: My cousin Caroline mailed me the program from the funeral.  She wrote sweet words to speak in her honor, that she also mailed me.  She actually reminded me of the fireflies we use to catch in her yard.  I loved those little flicks of light and can remember chasing them until my mother would yell for me to come inside.  Anyway, the program was filled with many pictures of my grandmother’s life:

loved.

You will notice the above pictures are filled with smiling faces.  Except one.  One person has their tongue sticking out, inappropriately.  I will let you guess which member of the family that would be.  Okay, I will give you a little help.

yes, that is me with my tongue straight out. stylish little thing, wasn’t i?

Sweet dreams, Lois.

2. I am thankful for Brad and Gunnar. I have a boyfriend who is the most amazing man I have ever known. He has integrity and warmth and loves completely and without thought. He is one of the hardest working men I have ever known, and makes me want to be a better person every single day. His son is 14 and lives with us half the time. Gunnar is considerate, sensitive and so smart it’s crazy. I have no doubt that this young man will grow up to change the world. But hell, with a dad like that: how could he not? I love spoiling them, cooking for them and living life with them. Most of all, I love stories of them together growing up, and am thankful they have allowed me into their world.

at a BBQ festival this past summer. photo credit: brad.

3. I am thankful for my friends. Okay, I realize this is over-the-top cheesy, but I hope I have kept your attention this far. If not, I’ll just consider this self therapy. After all, it’s good to appreciate things, even better to appreciate it out loud. I love my friends for everything they are and everything they are not. I love how they stand by my side when I’m just being a girl (you know: too sensitive, emotional, analytical of everything) . I love that no matter how many times we call each other, it’s not annoying. I love that no topic is off limits. Nothing brightens my days more than a really good conversation to get something off my chest- or to help my friends with whatever they are going through. I love that 7am is not too early to chat. Most of all I love that there is no judgement on either side, ever. I would give my last dollar in the bank to any one of my friends, and they know it. I use to think that longevity was the key to a good friendship, but I now know that it’s loyalty and understanding. Just because you’ve known someone your whole life, doesn’t mean they will stand up for you or do what’s right, and it doesn’t mean they won’t use you. The people in my life who I call friends, I know I call them that with 100% accuracy.

if you saw what she looks like in person, it’s fair to say ANYONE would have encouraged her to wear it, but I was really touched by the compliment.

4. I am thankful for something so many people take for granted, health. We complain about the little things we would like to change about ourselves (breast size, wrinkles, nose shape, weight, etc), without really appreciating the fact that we are living, breathing humans on this earth. People talk about so many things that just don’t matter in the grand scheme of life, and they don’t even realize the amount of people living in pain. Appreciate your health! Take care of yourself! Eat your veggies and put that damn cigarette/cigar out! Don’t do drugs! It’s really quite simple if you think about it. I am done preaching. You will note that I didn’t comment on putting down that glass of wine, well- a little grape juice never hurt anyone, did it?

I also checked with WebMD: “The French diet is often used as an example of how wine can improve heart health. The French have a fairly high-fat diet but their heart disease risk is relatively low. And some have attributed this to red wine.”

5. I am thankful for South Carolina football. This one may seem far fetched from items 1-4, but it’s honest. As a new student at USC- I was miserable. I didn’t know many people, and couldn’t stand being called “yankee” all the time. A friend of mine in my Eastern Asian Civilization class said to me one day, “wait until football starts, you’ll see it all change and you’ll love it.” This was also the same friend who taught me about Krispy Kreme donuts (jerk), and how if you go right when they make them on the belt, they will be warm, gooey, and melting on your tongue, so I took his advice with a grain of salt. Well, he could not have been more on par. South Carolina football changed everything for me. Being from NH, I didn’t know what the hell “tailgating” was, nor had I done it; Neither of my parents are into sports. I was a cheerleader in junior high, but had no idea what it meant when I was yelling “First and Ten!” What do I love about it? The lights of Williams Brice stadium in all it’s glory, the 80,000 person-filled stadium all cheering in unison, the passion of a Carolina/Clemson game, the paupers drinking moonshine with the millionaires, the crowing Gamecock and fireworks- it was magnificent. Is magnificent. I started really watching and really understanding the game. I became addicted. It’s been 11 years since I graduated, and I still watch the games every weekend during season- even if by myself. Most years, I try to make it to a game with my friends. I watch the annual draft with pride, as the players I have followed for the past 4 years go on to the NFL. Recently, one of my favorite players was seriously injured. It broke my heart- so I mailed him a card and pitched to The Ellen Show that he be featured! 15 years I have been a loyal fan of this team, and it’s only the beginning.

Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee!

So that’s five things I am thankful for, and as I said, it’s only five out of hundreds. What are you thankful for as the holiday season begins?

today.

Hello there. It’s been a while since I posted, so I thought I would add some nice original content to spice up the organic SEO.

I’m feeling extra warm and fuzzy today, so I’m going to tell you why.

To start off my (this and every) day , I get woken up by wonderful man: (let me tell you, it’s not the worst thing to wake up to the man of your dreams)

brad.

He is usually leaving for work (after making me my daily salad) and I will continue to sleep for another hour. Today though, I decided to get up and run. It was nice, as the sun had not fully declared it’s HHH (hazy, hot and humid) status, and I needed some natural caffeine. As you may have read previously I cannot drink red bull anymore and I hate coffee. Besides, I love how peaceful Exeter is in the AM. I decided to take Lucy today as well. She was not pleased with the exercise, but at least she got to sniff around while I switched songs on my iPhone.

downtown exeter, nh and lucy at 7am

I have about a 30 minute drive to work, which is great. I can either sing to my random collection of CDs (yes, CDs…I’m that old school) or laugh at the Matty in the Morning radio show. I don’t know why I love that show so much, as most of the time “Matty” sounds like he is whining at whatever topic on hand, but I do laugh. Side note: I met Matty once at an event when I lived in Boston. He was the talk of the room, until Tom Brady walked in the door…sorry Matt. I actually remember his animated reaction of “WTF?” when eyes shifted to the door, away from him. I was going to put a picture side by side of each and ask if you could blame everyone, but I am guessing I don’t even need to do that to get my point across.

And then as I pull in to 121 River Front Drive, this is what greets me. It’s very friendly and bright, with beautiful landscaping and scented with the wild lilacs that grow out front. I mean- even the sky loves this building.

GY&K Creativity. Only smarter.
good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night! -the truman show.

I have been in advertising since college. Anyone that knows me well knows it’s what I truly love it- and wouldn’t be happy doing anything else (well, besides a nice glamorous Broadway career). A TOTAL BONUS to GY&K, in particular, are my colleagues. They are all passionate and smart and fun. Fun. Now that is not a word most people would associate with work colleagues, but I am confident in this analysis. I am not going to go through all of them, but here are a few that make the day extra special.

Meagan. Meagan and I met on my first day, and we have been inseparable ever since. She get’s my personality (it’s so much better when I don’t have to explain every single thing I say), loves advertising and takes walks with me at lunchtime around the neighborhood. I’m a fan.

meagan. sarcastic. drives a jeep. has a dog. republican. catholic. nh native. think we have anything in common? love her.

After our lunchtime chat at the picnic table and post-lunch walk, we were greeted at the door with a chocolate cupcake from the world’s most wonderful interns. They have WAY better fashion sense than I ever have had- and I am confident I was not as mature as they are at 20. In fact, I was a moron at 20! Granted, I was doing internships myself at that age, but I still was rough around the edges (side note: yes, I realize I am still rough around the edges). I decided to make them do a silly pose for this blog, for the sole purpose to make myself feel like a mature 34 year old woman. Okay– I let them do a nice normal one too.

corinna and megan (aka “secret domestic goddess”). the future of advertising.

I am the Business Development Manager here at GY&K, and recently have been handling some account management for one of our clients. I love all of it. I would work in any department if they asked me to, seriously. It’s nice to know that my college education (Go Gamecocks! 48 days until football season!) and major didn’t go to waste completely. I am one of the few people I know who get to do what they sought out to do in the first place.

This week was my week to write the company’s blog post. If you’re curious, you can find it HERE. I had originally titled it #2012MarketingHoneyDoList, but the social media team deemed it would be too hard to explain what a “honey do list” was, if you were’t already privy to this obviously secret term. Thus, “#DigitalHousekeeping was born. Hope you like it.

This evening we have planned a picnic on the beach. Not a bad way to end a fabulous day, after all. I encourage you to try it.

can’t stop smiling.

I feel very lucky and blessed, each and every day. I wish the same for all of you!