Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

A.K.A. The best Thanksgiving. EVER.

This year's Thanksgiving was one of those holidays you look back on and just sigh with pleasure. I don't know that one thing could have made it any better. It was simply perfection.

The amazing weekend was preceded with Libi coming to stay with Josh and me in Destin for the week. We had a jolly good time just being sisters under the same roof, which hasn't happened in, oh, four years.

Wednesday night Josh, me and Lib loaded up the Silverado and headed to Jacksonville like a little redneck family, with me in the middle (fun times).

Thursday started off the way any Thanksgiving morning begins - cooking! Me, Mom, Libi and Josh spent hours cooking and prepping. The fam started trickling in late that afternoon. 8 Cottrills, 4 Halperins, 1 Woodhams, 4 Chandlers 1 Berg and 1 Lane made up our table that night. (Did I mention this was the first holiday my divorced grandparents of 30 years spent together? It was.) We did the usual tradition, going around the table sharing what we're most thankful for. Everyone's honesty made my heart so glad. It was just the beginning to what turned out to be one of the most refreshing evenings. I got so much clarity that day that just freed me.

We also found out that we are going to be an aunt and uncle this summer! Josh's sister Ashley and her husband Derek are expecting their first baby in July! We are so excited!!

And we can't forget the line-up!

Friday morning I had my first Black Friday experience. Ever. It was...early, overwhelming, and not extremely productive...that is, until 7 am when we walked into American Eagle and I found the bridesmaids dresses! I had some picked out that were much more expensive than I wanted to pick, but I really loved them. This dress I found at American Eagle fit perfectly and I knew as soon as I saw them that they were it! Not to mention, they were only $47! A whopping $113 less than the original dresses I had picked out. So, within an hour, 8 dresses were purchased and life was good.

So, although I'm not really a fan of Black Friday, I do have to thank the holiday for my awesome find. I think of myself as someone who likes to try everything at least once, but I'm not sure it's going to be a priority in years to come.

Josh got to go fishing with Ren that day which really was the cherry on top of his weekend, I'm sure. I'm really glad he got to have fun while I was off doing girly wedding stuff.

Friday night was a family dinner followed up Just Dance 2 at the Tagnipez casa. My new favorite game/work out. Check it out - it's amazing!

Saturday was filled with dress fittings and wedding shopping. Not gonna lie, I was more overwhelmed than excited when it came to deciding on the exact shades of teal and coral that is going to be used for the wedding colors. Finding wedding shoes for myself or the bridesmaids wasn't as easy as I thought. I couldn't decide on any jewelry I liked. I didn't want to look at any more decor ideas or decide on a centerpiece. I thought this was supposed to be the most exciting part of getting married - picking out the details. Well, I just want to get it over with so I can be Gili Woodhams - Josh's wife and PIC. Is that so much to ask for?

Moving right along...Saturday night was filled with Christmas cheer as we got my parent's tree decorated, listened to Christmas music, and drank coffee and hot chocolate with Kahlua. Best part was that I got to hang out with two of my oldest girl friends, Katy and Ashley. We were the three muskateers back in '99 and were reunited once again (this time with fiances and husbands - we're old!). It was fab.

Sunday was bitter-sweet. I can't even explain how incredible this day was, and how sad I was to go home. Sunday was so special because I got baptised with my brother, sister, step-sister and two girls I've known practically their entire lives. It was so amazing to experience this with so many people I love - both from my past and the present.

Redeemed by Your mercy, consumed by Your grace. Now I live for You.

Monday, November 1, 2010

We have created!

As if I wasn't already so excited for the day Josh and I will own our own home and be able to design and decorate as we wish.....

We found this amazing dresser for $20 at a flea market two weeks ago and took it home and created a masterpiece!

Well, not quite. It wasn't as easy as it sounds. Why didn't anyone tell me creating was difficult!? We sanded, stained, sanded again, re-stained. Polyurethaned, and again, and again. After countless trips to Home Depot and $50 later, ta da!

So, until the painting and fabric prints and new furniture come, this will do :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin cheesecake, personal days and meltdowns

So, as you can tell if you read my previous blog, my life has been wearing on me lately. Every day, I feel a little more worn down. Not in a bad way, just in an exhausted way. I love my life, love my boyfriend, my family, my job, our home...everything! I am just starting to feel overwhelmed with certain things, trying to sort through my life, pick out the things that need to go and work on the things that need to stay.

Every day I feel disappointed that the things I wanted to get done haven't been accomplished. On days where I need to relax, I feel guilty that things aren't being taken care of. This is where I was yesterday. Let me paint a picture for you....

It's Sunday, we wake up to a great surprise - Chris and Taylor called us from Germany! We were all excited, snuggled in bed, speakerphone on, chatting it up with our dear friends for the first time since they landed in Germany.

We had a big plan for the day: fried fish at the Mullet Festival, biking at Seaside, cleaning our third bedroom that has turned into a monstrosity of mess. The day started off stressful. Josh and I always have a good time together, but because of my bad attitude, I kept turning what should have been a really relaxing day, into a stressful, anxiety-filled day.

We did get to the Mullet Festival, enjoyed roasted corn, fried mullet (which I was not a fan of), bloomin onion and gator on a stick. Once we had our fill of calories and dust, which all lasted about an hour only, we were outta there.

After that, I got a horrible headache, complained about everything that I felt needed to get done and wasn't getting done. We did have some highlights of the day, but by the time we got home, even though I had a long list of things to accomplish, all I wanted to do was bake a pumpkin cheesecake. I needed some baking therapy. And it helped! Here's the outcome. It's delicious, by the way! And low-cal! Click here to see the recipe.

So, obviously, the baking of the cheesecake put me even more behind on my to-do list (or to get accomplished list, thanks Roz!) and I felt even more stressed, but I needed time to do something I wanted to do, instead of something I needed to do.

My headache persisted, and I fell asleep the instant I lay down at midnight. The alarm sounded at 6:45 on the dot this morning, and a drum was pounding in my head. My headache from yesterday decided to stay until today and it wasn't letting up. I dragged myself out of bed, trying to be strong, got in the shower, and had to get out quickly because my head was just pounding. I got out and just began crying. The pain, the stress, the lack of sleep, it was just too much. I called into work, crawled back into bed and slept for three more hours.

I'm trying to take it easy, allow myself to rest, to re-coup after the strain last week took. I'm trying to organize my home, my thoughts, my life. I know I'm not going to have all the answers by the end of the day, the week, or the month. I'm just going to take one day at a time. But in the meantime, I will eat my pumpkin cheesecake.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Not enough time...

I shouldn't be writing this blog right now. Even with months since my last blog, so much to catch up on and two months worth of divulging to do....I still don't have time to be blogging right now.

I am definitely having one of those weeks where I feel like there isn't enough time in the day for me to get the things I want to accomplish done. If I feel like this now with a full time job, how am I going to feel if I really get my business up and going? Or when we really start planning the wedding, or when we have kids?

All these things have been wearing on me lately.

I barely have time to tend to my one customer I have for my Write on Red business, which stirs this fear within me that I shouldn't pursue the business like I want to because I'll fail. Josh and I are venturing on another part-time business together that will be another addition to our time.

We're church-hunting which is emotionally stressful. I know going to church shouldn't feel that way, but stepping through different doors each week, not knowing what you're about to encounter, it's nerve-wracking.

In addition, there's cooking dinner, watering the garden, walking the dog, doing laundry, reading books for book club...which brings me to another frustration that I barely have time to read those books, and I only realize more that I don't have enough me time because I can't read other books that I want to read. My bookshelf is seriously beckoning me....every day. I wish my office was set up already as a reading and work sanctuary, instead of the landing space for everything in the house.

Then there's plain old quiet time, devotion time. Me and my Daddy time...I haven't picked up my Bible in weeks! Sure, I pray all the time...but I want more.

And Josh....our time seems to be so rushed now. Our Netflix movies have stalled. The three we currently have out have been sitting in a pile for about two weeks because we haven't gotten a chance to watch them. Our queue is stagnant. (All those movies I'm waiting to watch!) And let's not even talk about the movies that have been hitting theater that Josh and I have missed out on. One of our favorite things to do together is go to the movies and I honestly can't remember the last time we went.

If I don't make time for the things that are important to me now, how will I be able to do it when life gets busier? When there are more things demanding my time?

Now that I've really laid it all on the table and complained to whoever you are reading this, I'm going to put a smile on my face, thank God for the people in my life and the opportunities we have been given, and face the day!

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Here's to the weekend!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Falling into place

I should know by now not to worry about things, because things always have a way of working themselves out. I would usually say "If it's meant to be, then it will be!" But Josh informed me this morning that he hates that saying. And come to think of it, I'm not really a believer in that anyway.

Our destinies are pre-determined by our Creator, and while I have an inspirational card on my dashboard in my car that I look at every day that says "My destiny is controlled by me", I don't fully believe it. I guess what I do believe is a mixture of the two schools of thought. Every choice we make is ours to own. Where we end up is where God places us.

But all of that is neither here nor there. We have always and always will be provided for no matter what our situation has been. Josh and I have now been living with his parents for almost two months and while I love them to pieces, we are ready to be on our own again, our little family.

So, I didn't have a job for several months and we were broke. I got an offer to fill in at my old job for five weeks, which was perfect! This is the last of the five weeks, and next Monday, I begin my new position as Community Organizer for Shelter House. This is really where my heart is right now. I love the agency, what it does for women and children in our community, and I love the people I work for and with.

This new position is really me, everything about it excites me. I will be attending all of the local chamber meetings, setting up awareness events, going to expos, leading prevention groups in local middle and high schools, teaching economic empowerment workshops and doing the marketing (Facebook, Twitter, e-newsletters and quarterly newsletters).

In the meantime, I'm trying to do some marketing on the side to have a supplemental income as well as get my name out there get my business started. I'm thinking Right on Red Communications...what do you think about the name?

Josh will be back from Baton Rouge in two weeks! We are currently looking for a place to live but it's hard to do on my own. I feel like I really want and need him to see our options and be a part of the decision process. I don't like doing this on my own. I feel like it's something we should do together.

I'll be Baton Rouge bound this weekend to help Josh pack up our old apartment. I just can't wait for this season to be over! I told Josh we will really appreciate each other and having our own space and our own things back after these two months of craziness!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Unofficial Family Reunion

Last week, my great-grandmother, Gra, had a heart attack. It was minor, and she is okay right now, but Gra is 92, and this heart attack was a reminder that she may not be with us much longer. It wasn't long before family from Texas and New York, in addition to myself, all fled to Jacksonville where the majority of the family resides to be together.

At first, I will selfishly admit that after hearing Gra was stable and was being released from the hospital, I wanted to wait a few days to make the trip due to plans I had for the weekend with friends. This was exciting because I often feel I have so few friends, and it was the first meeting of our book club. After a few seconds of being selfish and holding on to the desire to attend the book club so badly, I realized how incredibly selfish I was being and how stupid it was for me to assume that Gra would wait a couple days for me to get there to say good bye (which is what I essentially went to Jacksonville to do - say goodbye to my Graggy, for that very well could be the last time I would see her).

I left work Friday at noon and hit the road (with my new tires on my car, thanks to my wonderfully amazing, mechanic boyfriend for not only getting the Goodrides for me, but also letting me know that I wasn't to go on any road trips because my previous tires were absolutely balled and had no tread whatsoever).

Before my trip began, I stopped at the library and got two books on tape. The first I finished right before I headed back to Niceville last night. Best Friends Forever is written by Jennifer Weiner and was so enjoyable, my trip to Jacksonville flew by and I didn't want to get out of the car when I arrived at my grandmother's for dinner. The second, I am still listening to currently. The remaining four discs are a telling sign that I will be listening to The Wonder Spot for a while longer. Books on CD are a huge part of my life due to the fact that since I got my license when I turned 16, I have traveled on a consistant basis and thus, have 110,000 miles on my 2005 Corolla.

After forcing myself to pause the disc I was currently listening to as I pulled into Gra and Grammy's driveway and kill the engine on my car, I walked inside and was greeted by my five siblings, mom, stepdad, two aunts, three uncles, three cousins, my grandmother and my great-grandmother and Lizzie and Nora, the puppy dogs. It was such an overwhelming feeling of warmth as we went around the dinner table, all sharing our fondest memories of Gra.

"Tonight very well could have been the best night ever...I love my family, it was so amazing having everyone together. So thankful for you all!" read my Facebook status that evening. And it was true, I couldn't have imagined a better evening. The food, traditional cousin line-up picture, watching old family home videos, looking at old family pictures and listening to the boys play guitar together.

(I can't believe I'm older than every single one of these kids and half of them are taller than me!)

(Sitting on the dock at night, singing and playing the guitar)

We spent three days eating together, laughing together, watching and re-watching the family videos and just being together. Being the Lane/Berg/Chandler/Halperin/Cottrill fusion that we are. The fusion that I love, that makes me feel at home everytime I'm around my family. That reminds me where I come from, who I am. It was three days I will never forget.

When I said goodbye to everyone last night to head back to Niceville and resume my life with my other family, I felt sad to leave them but so over-filled with joy from the time we spent together. I went around the table and kissed and hugged everyone goodbye. Some of them I'd see again soon, the next time I head to Jacksonville, other it would be longer. But then again, who knows, maybe it wouldn't be long until we all are forced to reunite to say good-bye again.

When I reached Gra at the head of the table, I kissed her and held her. She told me she loved me. And I told her I loved her back. When I said goodbye to her, I said it with all the love I felt in my heart, I looked her in the face, and smiled at her wrinkly face, her slouched body, her big smile. Oh, how I love that woman.