...preparing for it all when you know basically nothing...

I usually try to be more clever with my titles, but there is no better title for this blog post than the one that it has! Some of you have seen some stuff on my Instagram lately, which has flooded my inbox with an influx of guesses and questions. And I’m here to hopefully shed some light if you want to know! :)

David and I have really ramped things up around our place lately. As you already know, this year has been one of shifting rooms and moving stuff in and out and kind of playing our whole house like a Tetris game. I’ve been kind of letting things stack up, and freaking out about them from afar but a few weeks ago we set a date for our home inspection — JULY 16. Gulp. Now, I adore our case specialist. We both do. She is amazing and makes us feel so cared for and is the sweetest, and she is the one that will be doing our inspection. Which makes me so happy! She’s been in our house a BUNCH of times, and has walked through it with us several times and given some tips and her thoughts, and we have made changes as needed. (Luckily having a small house is working to our advantage currently!) But having a date is HUGE. It now feels more real than it ever has before, just because of one little date.

What happens then, you ask? Do you guys know who is coming? When are they coming? How old are they?

So many questions - and I only have a few answers.

Which is really hard for a control freak like me, obviously. After our home inspection (which there are about 8283823 things to be done for currently, and about 6245 forms still to fill out), our sweet case specialist will write it all up in a huge document called the Home Study. This document includes a write up from her of ALL of the interviews we have had (we have had at least 5 each, maybe 6, and they all last 2 hours), combined with all of the documentation that we have filled out. This is not a measly blog post - this is like dissertation size. That may take a bit, but David and I are both fingerprinted and ready to go, we’ve taken our training, we’ve gotten our CPR/First Aid certifications, and then we wait. She is thinking that sometime around mid August we will officially be licensed.

Which means…. OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

It could take days, weeks, months, maybe a year — but someone will come stay with us. Which I go to sleep dreaming of every night. I think I drive David nuts sometimes because I pepper him with things constantly like “just think, soon we will be falling asleep but then a baby will maybe start crying and we will have to get up and take care of them before we can sleep.” Which I know is really selling him on the whole thing… hahaha… :) It’s the little stuff that I’m excited about. But then my brain quickly shifts to the things that we need to buy/do/organize/figure out before that happens. I’m weird like that, I guess.

But for now, we have to get the room as ready as we can have it for the home inspection day! Which meant that this past weekend, we put together A CRIB. Now let’s be clear - David did 98% of the work here. But I helped with the other stuff! Here is the picture that I posted on my IG story that had people flooding me:

“Is that a CRIB David’s putting together????” came the questions… ;P

“Is that a CRIB David’s putting together????” came the questions… ;P


Yes. Yes it was a crib! Well, it still is. At least it was when I last saw it, but that was last night… so much could have happened since then! (Sidenote: Mira has been dying to get in this room — the line of stuffed animals on the windowsill is enough to make a little pup sit in there and just cry cry cry. She loves stuffed animals so much, and this last weekend has taught us that stuffed animals aren’t in the cards for our kiddos for a long time - not until someone can control herself. We currently call this room the Mira Torture Room because of this. )

And here is a sneak peek of just a corner of said Torture Room:

Major work in progress.

Major work in progress.


I mean, since I took that picture, David (who said he doesn’t care where things go) promptly told me that the rug needs to be parallel to the crib. So much for not having opinions…. :P

The room is sparse now, but I have so much stuff to fill it up with - don’t you worry about that. Currently, this is my living room:

As you can imagine, this is driving me bonkers.

As you can imagine, this is driving me bonkers.

People have been TRULY amazing and generous and have given us so much stuff! We have so much stuff, in fact, that I don’t even know what we have. And I’m enlisting a very elite level organizer, my 15 year old cousin-niece Audrey, to help me in a full day organize/purge. She’s EXACTLY the right person for this job. I just have to wait until Wednesday! Ha!

Once we go through all of it and sort it into age appropriate bins, it will be so much easier when we have kiddos come in to be able to pull the bins that we need instead of just having it all out somewhere. And then I will know what I still need! I have been working on a registry on Amazon, and will share that link with anyone interested when we are closer to our licensing and when I know what is left to get.

It’s hard to plan for everything when you don’t know what you’re getting. I mean, 0-3 is a big gap developmentally. But we will be great! It’s going to be challenging and heart wrenching but also so rewarding and so filled with love.

And that’s just it. That’s the crux of the whole thing - we have a TON of love to give. And I can’t wait to give it out!

More when we know more… I promise!

...getting our buns in gear...

(FYI, if you haven’t read my previous blog, you may want to read it before you dive into this one!)

I’ve been told by so many, and also have read so many accounts by foster parents, that it’s the paperwork that kills you in this process. I may be weird, but I don’t mind paperwork. Some may be repetitive and tedious, but it’s not that bad. For me, and this is something that I was told by a case specialist at the beginning, I’m being taken down by the idea of being a control freak during a process that I have no control over.

I want to do everything NOW. I want to blast through it all. I want to basically make my house over like in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I want to yell “MOVE! THAT! BUS!” and have a bus roll away, and a baby arrive at the same time, into the perfectly decorated nursery and perfectly home inspection ready home. But sadly that isn’t happening - for so many reasons. One of the big ones is that David and I move at two totally different paces, and he is more methodical and thought out than I am. I want to just get it all done and then wait. He wants to take his time, do some research, get the best things for the job, and then slowly put it all together.

I DO NOT WORK LIKE THIS.

But I’m learning that I have to. This process is teaching me “hurry up and wait”, and having to take our time. I am not running on my own time schedule, I’m being held hostage by other people’s, and that is so good for me.

I hate it.

(Hey - I said it was good for me, I didn’t say I like it. :) )

But I’m learning. I’m learning to just let the process guide me and take my cues from that.

But this doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening, because they are! We have our final case specialist interview meeting tomorrow. I got fingerprinted yesterday. We ordered a bunch of home inspection/baby proofing stuff on Amazon in the last day or two. (Outlet covers! Bathtub slip stickers! Fire extinguisher! Oh my!) Our case specialist says that we could be licensed by the end of July. And then our whole world will expand and change again.

Deep breaths, Mandy, deep breaths.

People keep asking me where we are at in the process and how I am feeling. These are hard questions for me to answer. One of the reasons is because it’s hard to say when all of the letters will be dotted and crossed and the stars will align and we will be open for business! And the other is that my brain is just so full of all of the stuff that needs to be done, that I don’t often just sit down and let myself think about what will happen after all of the stuff is done. I mean, I do think about it. But if I let my mind wander too much I skip right over “let’s get the drawers and cabinet locks on” and venture right into “how will I juggle home visits and also what car seat should we get and also will they stay forever and also will we have enough onesies and also and also and also and also” (INSERT HEAD EXPLOSION GIF HERE, PLEASE.) I tend to get myself swept up easily, so I have to let my brain pace itself in order to make it through the next few months smoothly. It’s hard to control that dang brain of mine, but I’m working on it. Along with 828388238 other things.

So I guess this is only really a half update. But David is finally graduated and working at Boeing (Seattle campus), and he LOVES it. Yesterday he texted me to report that they sat him in front of a broken piece of something and told him to fix it and he did it. This is so his wheelhouse. I threw him a surprise party this last weekend and that was super fun - overwhelming at first, and a bit confusing for him, I think - but really fun.

I can’t wait for the next few months. But I have to, so that’s the other side of the coin. It will give me time to be thorough and to feel really ready. I’m glad that we are working with a private agency because they are helping me through the pacing and the waiting, and doing it in a really thoughtful way.

I just can’t wait to find out who gets to come stay with us. Even if they are staying for a week, I just can’t wait. But again - I have to. :) But luckily, I don’t have to wait for very long!

More later my friends! Thank you for loving us.

These goofballs have their eyes on the prize.

These goofballs have their eyes on the prize.

...whatever it takes, sometimes...

Today I had a kiddo come down to my office in full out tears. I immediately thought the worst when I saw the reaction and heard that he had taken a fall on the cement. My mind flew into panic mode — had he taken a header? Was something broken? I ushered him into my sick room, sat him up on the cot, and assessed the situation as tears rolled down his little cheeks. My eyes quickly fell onto the problem at hand — a scrape on the knee, and a stinging hand from breaking his fall. I rerouted plans of attack and slipped into my “keep it casual and keep the mind distracted” mode…. I cleaned him up, put on a heavy duty bandaid, and helped him wash his hands of chalk and stinginess (I promise that’s a word!). The tears were gone, the words were flowing, and his mind was in a totally different place. The topper on the cake? We went out the “secret passageway” to get back out to recess. I watched him rejoin his friends like nothing had ever happened, and as I turned around and walked back to my desk I thought of what the remedy that I had just provided can look like for adults in our times of crisis.

Throughout our days and weeks and month, we are constantly encountering figurative scrapes on our knees. And like it or not, we can sometimes react as if our heads are cut open. I imagine the people in our lives might find themselves trying to maneuver like I was this afternoon, not quite knowing the depth of the problem or the severity of the situation, but trying to anticipate what we may need. I know that I can come home from a long day and be the grouchiest grouch ever to David, and he can quickly go into recover and assist mode, attempting to gauge my level of need. Sometimes I feel incapacitated by the situation, no matter how minor it may seem. And those are the times that I need him to pick up all of the slack, and grant me the grace to just be a mushy lump around the house.

But sometimes it just takes a metaphorical bandaid and helping me to wash my hands to take the sting out of the day.

This can look so different for so many things. But it may just be a hug, and an “I’m sorry that today was so hard,” or allowing me to take control of the TV to watch whatever silly video I want to watch at that moment. Then come the helping suggestions — offering to make dinner, offering to take a walk, being there for me to complain/cry/sit in silence with.

Depending on where you are at in your life, literally and figuratively, this bandaid can look like so many things. It’s a text or funny GIF that a friend sends when you are feeling so inexplicably frustrated that you feel like the dam of tears may burst at any moment. Or it may be a coffee that is gifted to you, or someone stopping by just to check in.

Life hands us big things sometimes. Sometimes life truly can hand us a giant bag of crap. (Crap Bag. It’s a bag. Of crap. — can anyone name that reference???) And if we are incapable of throwing it in the trash ourselves, we might just need someone to hold on to the other side and toss it in with us. It’s the friends that are willing to get their hands on a bag of crap for you that are the ones that are going to stick around. The ones that sit beside you when you are low, no matter what you are low about, are the ones that are going to jump for joy next to you when you are feeling those highs of life.

Sometimes we need a medic and a splint. Sometimes we just need that bandaid and a hand washing. And that is okay to need both.

It’s okay to ASK FOR all of it.

Sometimes we feel like we can’t ask for these things that we so deeply desire and require, and I’m just kind of at the place in my life where I’m over feeling like that. Say what you need to say, the wise and talented prophet John Mayer beautifully says… And I am living the life of saying what I need to say especially when it comes to what I need as a bandaid and some TLC. We can’t always ask people to anticipate our every need. And sure, sometimes they will be pretty spot on at anticipating these needs, and sometimes it will be that fix that does the trick. But it may take a little work on our part to make those needs known.

AND GUESS WHAT?

Those needs change from moment to moment. I’m sure that if the fall had been a degree more intense, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get that kiddo by with just a bandaid and a hand washing. An ice pack may have been needed in that situation. And that would have been totally fine. Because the next time that I have a hiccup or a run-in with this crazy life that we find ourselves bumbling through, I’m going to want some tender love and care from someone (even if it’s myself!) — and that may look drastically different if it happens on a Monday vs. a Thursday. Or knowing me, 8:30am vs. 3:30pm!

My long and winding road of a point is this:

When it comes to what you need in order to get back on track from a personal derailment, ASK. FOR. IT. If you need it, ask for it.

And if you are asked for it, give it as best as you can. Because you never know what a huge impact it will make in someone’s state of being.

…Like for example when I later had to sit with a kindergartner and listen as they pointed out the “meat” of a dog in a book (after he had thrown up and was waiting to go home). You just never know what someone is going to need in their time of distress. ;P

What do you write when you don't know what to write about?

Normally not knowing what to write would stump most people. They would decide that they have nothing to say that’s worth writing about and stop, like a normal person. But, as we have realized, that’s not the case in my world.

It’s been a long time, my friends, and if I felt like any of you were reading enough to feel disappointed, I would say I’m sorry. But I’m really just the most sorry for me — that I haven’t taken the time to write really in the last year. It’s a shame, because I love writing. And even if nobody reads it, it’s fine — it lets me get out thoughts and feelings that are not always easy for me to communicate out loud. So with that, I will declare a renewed charge of blogging more often!

I’ll start off simple, with some things that feel awesome:

  • I mean — the sun is shining and the air is crisp — my favorite weather of the year!

  • David is in his senior year at WSU for electrical engineering and has basically locked in a job at Boeing next May! Yay! Things are happening!

  • I still have the two best dogs on the planet. Neigh, in the galaxy. Chloe is a old lady but she’s kicking butt. It’s kind of insane how much I love that dog.

  • My job is still rad. I work with amazing kids, and amazing parents, and amazing coworkers. A lot has changed in the last few months but we are finding our stride. And for me, where it counts, I’m holding steady.

  • My friends are rich and diverse and unique and exceptional. I’m growing my pool but keeping it small — more like a hot tub of friends instead of a pool. :P

  • I’ve been taking charge of my health and my eating, and working on changing my mindset when it comes to all of the changes. I’m working on sticking around longer for fun things on the horizon, instead of living in fear of what will happen if I don’t turn things around. This tactic seems to be working for me this time around, and I’ll take any encouragement I can get!

  • David and I are dreaming and scheming for what the future holds, and I’m loving all of it. It can be hard, it can be confusing, and it can be really really intimidating, but it’s all going to be for a greater good. I’m so incredibly excited for things to come!

That’s what I have for now, for my first jump back into the world of blogging. Stay tuned for more — and let me know if you have any topics that you want me to address! (I say to my one reader. Hi, Mom! :P)

<3

a rare and spectacular treasure

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a woman. There are obviously lots of reasons for this, and although most of the things that are kicking up this dust for me aren't particularly positive, it truly has asked me to dig deeper into what it means for me. One of the things I keep noticing and really looking for is my place among other females. And one thing that I continue to circle back on is my strong and powerful female friendships. One in particular is at the crux of my heart and mind pretty constantly... and that is the friendship with these two beautiful women:

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I am beyond lucky to find myself in a best friendship that is a rare and spectacular treasure - with two of the most amazing and strong women on the face of this earth. Our friendship is well in to its second decade and is going strong. It is the friendship that I hold other friendships up to for comparison, which really isn't fair because what we have is exceptional.  

I look to these women for so much, and am given so much more than I seek every time. They are both incredibly accomplished and passionate women who have achieved so much in their lives already. From changing the lives of so many children who needed a chance, to changing the lives of student workers and the entire department that they oversee - they do it all. They both either have gotten, or are in the process of, getting masters degrees in their fields, and are bettering themselves to go even further than they have already gone.

With this friendship I receive their passion and zest for life. I receive their grace for me and for others. I envelope myself in their wisdom that I am lucky enough to have available. I rest more easily than in almost any other situation, and find myself completely myself with these two. It's one of the safest places that I have. With this friendship I receive a hunger to be a better version of myself, and follow in their footsteps. 

Their strength, both as my best friends, and as women, astounds me. We have all gone through periods of intense sadness and heartache, and have been with each other. We have seen each other's joys and celebrated each other's accomplishments. We have lived minutes away from each other, and hours away from each other. I have watched these two beautiful souls transform in the 14+ years that we have been connected, and I'm beyond floored (but not surprised!) with the women that they have become. I have laughed so hard that I have cried with these women multiple times, and often about things that other people would probably stare blankly at. They are both incredibly share and wickedly funny and talented in multiples areas of life. 

My strength, as a woman, is drawn from these two. I know that when I am running low, they have some for me - whatever it is that I am needing. They are making this world an incredible place for all of us, and for the women to come. I rest easy in knowing that should I be blessed to have a daughter one day, not only will she have these amazing women as aunties, but they will have changed this place for the better for her to be able to be a strong women as well. 

I could go on for days if my time would allow, but alas, that's not the case. Instead, I will wrap this up with a wish for all of you: 

I wish for you to find those people in your life that are the first you want to call when times are wonderful, and the first that you need to call when times are hard. The women that make you shine - and only because they shine so brightly that you are lucky enough for it to reflect off of you. The women whose loved ones that you hold as dearly as your own, and who in turn hold yours the same. The friends who you don't have to work for, because you are yourself and nothing but in the presence of them.

And then you will feel like a strong and powerful woman, standing arm and arm with these beautiful creatures, and you will call yourself blessed.  

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IMG_2346.JPG
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One of my all time favorites... at the place where it all started!  

a different view...

For the past two weeks or so, my mind has been stuck on this idea of perspective. The word is tumbling around inside of my head like a shoe in a dryer - bouncing off of the sides and making a clunk every once in awhile. What I can't seem to figure out, though, is how to tackle such a huge subject. And what specifically do I want to focus on? I guess I'll just start writing and see what comes out... :) That seems fair to you, right??

It seems fairly obvious that our nation is going through a huge upheaval right now. There is so much hurt, and confusion, and fear - on all sides - that it's hard to wade through to see the forest through the trees. And it's shockingly unfair to always be told to focus on the forest instead of those trees. It's so easy to get stuck in our view and not stretch ourselves any further for fear of being uncomfortable. But I guess this is where the concept of shifting perspectives comes in to play... I'm almost 35 years old, and I feel so naive about the things that are going on in our world. I'll be the first to admit that I have previously been of the mind that I don't want to know all of the terrible or hurtful things that are happening because it just feels like too much. But what kind of mindset is that? Not the kind of mindset that a young and educated person in the United States of America should have right now - or anytime! I can't sit in my comfortable bubble. Like I said to someone yesterday, now is the time to be uncomfortable for the sake of other people's comfort. And now is the time for me, and for so many others in our world, to shift our view. I'm trying. I'm trying so hard. And it's stretching me a lot -- which is a great thing for this creature of habit. 

I'm trying to show love instead of anger. I'm trying to embrace everybody where they are at, and gently nudge when they need a nudge to the side of right. I'm trying to find my own voice in a world full of so many loud voices, about subjects that I've previously been mute on. I wake up every day full of love for the people in my life and the blessings that I have, and I am hoping that I am able to help protect those for other people who feel threatened and scared in our current world climate. I am doing what I can at this moment in time, but I anticipate that with more knowledge and more awareness, that my abilities with continue to grow. I don't say hope - I say anticipate because I know it will grow. 

It's just funny to me how things can look so differently from the exact same spot, you know? I'm the same person I've always been, just evolving and changing constantly. But from my perspective, things are starting to shift. And it feels good. In a world right now where so much feels bad, it feels good to know that I'm digging in and trying to understand. 

I will continue to treat others with kindness, and be a friend to those who are afraid. I will continue to spread love and joy in my world as I am able, no matter who you voted for or where you stand. And I encourage you all to do that same. Because even though I am trying to be vocal against what I believe is wrong, I am choosing to stand on the side of love as I do it. The two are not exclusive - they can go hand in hand. Because as Jackie DeShannon once sweetly sang, "what the world needs now, is love, sweet love. it's the only thing, that there's just too little of."

From where I sit, it's always changing.... Always morphing and moving.&nbsp;

From where I sit, it's always changing.... Always morphing and moving. 

...impatience is a new virtue?...

Yesterday at a stop light, I had a moment that was so completely insignificant in the greater scheme of the world - but it weirdly, deeply resonated with me. I was at the light, kind of humming to myself, and the light turned green so I could turn left. Only I didn't turn left right away, I noticed the light about 2 seconds after it turned, and I noticed it because the guy behind me (in a truck bigger than anyone needs a truck to be) honked his horn twice rapidly and yelled out the window "let's go!" I quickly hustled in gear and turned and was on my merry way... the guy behind me still wasn't so merry, though, and my tiny car felt like a bug beneath his foot as he tailed me all the way down the road. It was just a blip in time, a nothing moment really, but then it got me thinking...

...what are we all in such a hurry for?

We all fall prey to it. I go through the drive-through to get my coffee and then get upset when it takes too long... I hate waiting on hold for more than a few minutes... I get angry at myself when I feel like I'm taking too long to complete a task -- all for the sake of moving on to the next moment in time. With smart phones, and the ability to do so much on something so little, we are a community of people who desire rapid, smooth transitions from one thing to the next. And our brains seem to need as many of those transitions as possible. Sometimes at the end of the day, when I stop and just sit at home, I find myself feeling like a movie that has buffered and frozen -- quickly fast-forwarding to get to real time. I can literally feel myself slowing down... and it's usually a really great feeling, but I can oftentimes feel like I'm wasting time. 

But I have to stop and ask myself, how am I wasting time? Why so speedy, everyone? What are we hustling for, really... And I'm not saying this as part of a "what's the point" and "what does it all mean, man?" agenda -- I'm saying this because I constantly find myself remarking on how time has flown by.  When school started again, it was "I can't believe it's September and another school year!" Soon it will be "wow, it's Christmas already??" or "another new year?" And I will find myself uttering a phrase that I have uttered countless times as I've grown older:

Where
Has
The
Time
Gone?

5 words. 5 words that we say as we see kids grow up, as we reunite with old friends, as we think back to memories short or long passed.... 

And yet we fly through life. We hurry to get from one place to another, to move on to the next and the next and the next. We are consumed with saving time, and not just for efficiency of life. I understand the urge to pack in as much in as possible, to live every moment to its fullest, and to not look back and say that we wish we had done this and that. But I am starting to realize, as I really think about it, that I feel like it's better to savor and enjoy the moments that we have so that we are not looking back and wondering where the time all went... 

This is not a revolutionary thought, and I am not proposing a monumental lifestyle shift. I know that these things are hard to do. And time is a tricky thing, that can mess with our minds, and toy with our hearts as it ticks by. There are things that I want right this moment, and I feel myself rushing to try to obtain. But I know that I need to wait. If I just wait, things will be so much better and so much smoother. And I know that I will look back and not think "where has the time gone?" I will think to myself how lovely it was to wait, and to enjoy the time as it moved like what felt like molasses... because in the end, it was so much more than I had ever dreamed. 

Let's slow down. Let's all slow down together, even just a step or two, and see what happens. Maybe we will still feel pulled to rush. Maybe we will still pack as much in as we can. But maybe, just maybe, when we find ourselves thinking "where has the time gone?," we can recall exactly where, and with exactly who. We can pinpoint the moments in time that we were able to afford, and to savor, because we took that extra pause, and marched a beat slower than usual. 

And before we rush off to the next thing, or grow inpatient when something slows down a fraction of a second, we can treat ourselves to a breath of fresh air and know that we may not remember this exact moment in time a year or five down the road, but we will be better for taking it for ourselves. 

We can't stop it, but we can enjoy it while we've got it.&nbsp;

We can't stop it, but we can enjoy it while we've got it. 

First Days! (are here again!)

Who loves lists? This girl! Who needs to blog more? This girl!

For now, it's the first day of school, and I have lots of happy thoughts. :) What are your happy thoughts today?

It should also be noted that when I was young, I had Raven-Symone's breakout album on tape, and I played the crap out of it. So every year, when I wake up on the first day of school, this song runs through my head nonstop -- so here you are. Crank it up, and dance around like I want to right now (but have to wait until the end of the day for):

Sun's Out, Guns Out....

Is it weird that as I woke up this morning, I had this dumb phrase running through my head? The answer is yes. Yes it is. It's a weird phrase, and I don't have any "guns" to show off in my new muscle tee. That I know of. 

But it has me thinking... What are some of your current mottos/phrases that you are choosing to live by? I am currently working with this one:

Lettering courtesy of yours truly. :)&nbsp;

Lettering courtesy of yours truly. :) 

But perhaps I am thinking of "sun's out, guns out" because it's weirdly sunny here this week. It's beautiful. While other people are out living up their spring breaks in Mexico and Hawaii and California, I'm here in Washington, but not complaining too hard -- it's totally gorgeous, and I'll take it. 

Tell me your current mantras and mottos that you are living by! I need inspiration!

The view from down here is spectacular!

The view from down here is spectacular!

Soaking it in!

Soaking it in!

Contemplating the rain...

It's the first time I've blogged from my phone, and I'm doing it on the road home... Which makes this a lot of firsts! Cue the confetti and trophy! ..... Waiting, waiting.... Nothing? Ok fine. :)

This is just a quick check in... I'm going to start doing more of these as they pop in to my brain, just giving you little glimpses into my crazy brain! Beware! :P

I use so many emojis. I need an intervention obviously. 

Anyhoo - I'm riding shotgun in David's truck on the way home from a day filled with helping friends move some things to storage/playing a marathon game of Uno with a 5 year old, and having dinner with David's dad. And the dang rain just hasn't let up for more than ten minutes. As I grumbled about it, I realized that it was kind of an empty grumble... Because I don't hate the rain. Gasp! I know. I have lived in Washington my whole life, people. I know the nature of the beast that is the weather. And although it can be annoying and inconvenient (like, say, when you are getting married..........), it's really beautiful. There is something so calming and refreshing about the rain, and I feel lucky to be able to experience it. Yes, I don't love it all of the time... But I do love the feeling of being safe and cozy inside as the rain pounds against the window. I love cozy, and it doesn't really get much more cozy than that.

So here I sit, in the passenger seat, and I think about putting on my comfy clothes as soon as I get home and making some tea... And maybe reading, maybe making some banners, maybe watching Netflix. Just trying to embrace this cozy and content feeling before it turns into grouching at the rain again... :)

Hope that you are all enjoying your Sunday too! Leave a comment and tell me what you like about the rain.... :) (Emoji again. Oh well. #sorrynotsorry)

 

Riding shotgun. 

Riding shotgun. 

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, and Always.

Sometimes you know that you want to write but you don't know how to get the words started. So you turn to a beloved friend, and she hands you a small metaphorical rubber band ball, and a handful of colorful rubber bands, and encourages you to just keep building. And so you do.

Here are my rubber bands...

Yesterday...

Yesterday... I performed talent shows and musicals on my front lawn...

Yesterday... I took for granted the time that I had with the people who created me...

Yesterday... I worked a job that, while fulfilling and equipping me with incredible skills and empathy, was not where my heart lay...

Yesterday... I feared that, although my name literally means this, that I was not very worth of love in the romantic sense, and that I would never find someone who loves me exactly for me...

Yesterday... The idea of spending a lot of time with my brother was not my idea of fun...

Yesterday... I had the attention span for a hobby or an activity like a hummingbird - flitting around from here to there (I now realize that my dad and I had that in common.)  and never truly landing on something that felt just right... 

Today...

Today... I wake up every day next to the person who I found that compliments me. The man that I will be with for the rest of my life, and who loves me beyond a shadow of a doubt for everything that I am, and all of the things that I strive to be...

Today... I have the most solid and fierce group of friends in my life. They are all so unique, and wonderful, and totally mine - and for that my heart literally bursts when I think about how lucky I am to have them... 

Today... I am finding a new passion in myself for using my words and my lettering skills to celebrate moments in people's lives - big or small. It is bringing me all kinds of joy, and I'm hoping to share that joy with others more as I get deeper in...

Today... I have a job that allows me to shine my light in so many ways that are rewarding and appealing to me. I am so lucky to sit in this chair and share the lives of over 200 kids every single day...

Today... I face certain tasks, like looking through things at my Dad's house, and feel afraid and sad, but know that it's okay to feel that way, and allow myself to be gentle with myself. My brother will be by my side as I do it, and having him with me through all of this has been huge... 

Today... David and I make grown-up decisions that will better our lives in the future, while we try to also be mindful that we are young and need to have fun together while it's just the two of us... 

Tomorrow...

Tomorrow... I plan to harness my creativity and turn that in to helping people celebrate their life's moments, and also make some money doing something that I love... 

Tomorrow... I'm sleeping in, and getting breakfast made for me by my sweet husband... 

Tomorrow... We embark upon a new chapter in our lives together that will make David so much happier, and will make our future selves so much happier and more secure... 

Tomorrow... I find more time to sit and be still, and listen to what my heart is telling me. To just listen instead of filling space with TV and music and chatting. Just listen listen listen... 

Tomorrow... I celebrate the ordinary in the every day, and recognize the people in my life for their personal greatness, as well as the greatness they bring to my life... 

Tomorrow... I find a way to get improv back in to my life on a regular basis, because I feel like I am wilting without it around...

And finally, Always...

Always... I will keep laughing, and will delight in making others laugh...

Always... I will remember the sing-song way my dad said "LOVE yooouuu" right before he hung up the phone... 

Always... I will thank my lucky stars for the amazing family, husband, and friends that I have been blessed with, and will strive to share my joy to have them more frequently...

Always... I will complain about my brother and his antics but will secretly love those things about him, because he's the opposite of me and so many things that I wish I could be...

Always... I will keep creating, no matter what the end goal is...

Always... I will be thankful... always I will be thankful... always I will be thankful...

<3

...penny for my thoughts...

On a cold day in December, the 19th to be exact, I literally ran through a parking lot at my full speed. As I ran, something shiny caught my eye and I stopped, for a brief second, to pick up the penny that lay heads up on the cement. David grabbed my hand and urged me along and I said "I just grabbed this penny, it was heads up and good luck." and I tucked it in to my pocket, gripping it tight. The door that we ran through was to the emergency room, and what lay behind those doors was my father - in a state that was a complete mystery to me. I had been on a frantic call with his husband a few minutes earlier, and we got in the car as fast we we could go. I was supposed to be at a concert in Tacoma, and David was supposed to be working but was sick. It was not just a coincidence that we were both home when I got that call, I'm sure of that. We drove the 5 minutes across town not having any clue what we would find. I speculated aloud, and David just squeezed my hand and told me to think positive thoughts. As we drove to the hospital, I couldn't stop thinking over and over again that this could be really, really bad. So it seemed only natural to grab on to any shred of hope and luck that I could possibly find as I ran in to the complete unknown. Less than one hour later, I found the penny in my pocket and angrily gave it to David, declaring "take this stupid thing, it was not even close to being good luck." Words had been said to us that even now I'm having a hard time typing... A strange person had walked in to the room that we were waiting in, on the edges of our seats, and told us "I'm sorry, he's gone." It was numbing, and I felt the walls and the reality come crashing down on me. And when I found the penny awhile later, I felt my anger flare up at the sight of it, and tossing it aside for letting me down was the obvious solution.

Fast forward to two weeks later. Christmas and New Years had come and gone, and we had all gathered to say goodbye to my father. One of the hardest days of my life had gone by in a sort of blur, but I'd been surrounded by more love than I'd ever experienced. My family and best friends took such good care of me throughout those two weeks, making sure that I was safe, and comfortable, and reminding me just how loved I was. They let me cry when I needed to, helped me laugh when I needed to -- did everything perfectly. I could not have asked for more. After the dust had settled on my house and I was sitting down to write some cards, I felt reality and the quiet heavy on my shoulders. David was cleaning up, and he approached me at the table with something in his hand -- the penny. He told me that he knew that I was angry, and that the penny had not done what I had hoped, but that he was holding on to give back to me so I could have it. I took it from him, and sat holding it, reflecting on how much my life had changed in just under 3 weeks. I cried and cried and cried, which I'd come to realize was going to happen a lot (and had happened a lot already) and sat in the living room to think.

It was then, looking at that penny, that I thought about my dad and his connections to this coin in my hand (besides the obvious that I've already mentioned). My mind drifted to a story that my dad had told me often... when he was young, he had a Cocker Spaniel named Penny. He adored Penny, and told us frequently growing up that Penny had saved his life once. He had gotten lost in the woods and it was Penny that got him home. The way that he spoke about Penny was always so tender and loving. I loved that story.

One of my favorite things that I liked to tease my dad about throughout his life was about candy. He had told me once that the only thing that he had ever stolen was a piece of penny candy from a candy store near his house in California. He had said that he felt so guilty about it, and that if he could go back to that store and give them a penny, he would. I always teased him about that, joking that they closed down because of that one piece of candy.  It was one of my favorite things to needle him about.

Not to mention the fact that he went through a huge faze of decorating with copper. There are lots of copper decorations and whirly-gigs hanging in his house. He fell in love with them years ago and went through one of his phases, and ended up getting a bunch to put around the house.

So as I sat there and cried thinking about what I had lost, and holding that "stupid penny" tight, I realized that things don't always present themselves for the obvious reasons. And that even though that penny did not bring me the luck that I thought it would, it reconnected me to parts of my dad that I hadn't thought about in a long time, and I'm sure will resurface many more times throughout my life. And it's these little memories that I'm so, so lucky to have gathered and held on to for when things get hard, and when I can't hold back the tears any longer. Memories like these will pull me through anything.

I'm holding on tight to this and all of the memories that it brings.
I'm holding on tight to this and all of the memories that it brings.

Hasta la vista, 33.

Hi friends! I was reminded this morning via TimeHop that this very day last year, I wrote a post that wrapped up 32 great things about being 32. And since I am the creator of my own destiny, and a grown ass woman who is in charge of herself, I'm doing the same thing this year. I have so many things that I could blog about currently - my mind and heart are very full and have a lot of things that they want to say. But it's not time yet. I'm not ready for that. For now, I'm holding those things close until I feel ready to put them all down. Partially because I'm in a fog of "did that really happen?" and partially because I just am being selfish with my thoughts and memories. But I know they will come out eventually. So for now, you guys get to read along as I recap some of my great memories and insights from this last year, the day before my 34th birthday! 1.) Like I always say, birthdays when you work in a school are awesome. It's so wonderful to be loved by people who aren't required to love you.

2.) I've learned (again) that a grown person must ALWAYS brush their hair. Even if they don't feel like it. Especially when you have hair like mine. It HAS to happen, or you have to chop it off. Which I did.

3.) Even if your dog "graduates" from Doggy School, it doesn't mean she necessarily EARNED her diploma. It turns out that if you look cute, wag your tail, and weigh 10 pounds, you can get that certificate no matter what. She totally trumped us.

4.) Celebrating your bestie's birthdays is equally as fun as celebrating your own! Especially when there are good drinks, shuffleboard, and a hippie corner in their booty basement. And dance routines. :)

5.) The people in your life will constantly surprise you. This includes amazing parents at your school that will give you the chance to have a wonderful weekend in Canada with your hubby!

6.) My best friend moved away to San Francisco, and that has been a TOTAL shift. Not a bad one, just different. I am so happy that we talk all of the time, and that I've gotten to see her so much. I need to get my butt down there ASAP, that's for sure. Having her away but still so close, and happy where she is, makes me happy also. I just love her so much, and seeing her go was hard to do!!!

7.) Starting a new hobby with David has been awesome. We discovered the Center for Wooden Boats, and are volunteers there. David is taking sailing lessons (when it warms up again!), and I just love being there by the water and seeing how happy he is. It's a great place and I'm so happy that we have a "thing" together now!

8.) Having a puppy is awesome. And challenging. And she's not a puppy anymore. But she will always act like it, I'm sure, until she's 90. Because knowing her, she's going to live to be 90 - which makes no sense for a dog who puts anything she finds in her mouth.

9.) All it takes is a backpack and shorts to make the best outfit ever to an Oscars party.

10.) Don't hesitate to go to Vegas with your best friends. Ever.

11.) Cirque de Soleil is insane. Amazing and insane. And sometimes you will go see them perform Beatles music and your bestie will cry while the other one is stalked by a creepy demon man, and it will be so, so perfect.

12.) I developed love for: fried pickles, poutine, happy hours at new places, my new KitchenAid mixer, good smelly candles, self-timer on the iPhone, coloring, journaling, Washi tape, going to Mariner's games (but only when I'm in a suite and barely paying attention to the actual game!),

13.) I got surprise slumber party'd, and it was awesome! It was perfect and wonderful to catch up with old, great friends, and feel super comfortable knowing that our house wasn't in perfect shape and that was ok.

14.) Having electricity is amazing. I pray to the power gods to never take it away from me again!

15.) I'm learning that I have to start taking better care of my self. Eating healthy and exercising is key. I know that most of you knew that already and were thinking "duh, Mandy -- you just discovered this??" but I've been a little stubborn about it. Things are changing now.

16.) I've learned both through things that have occurred for me and myself, that when your best friends need you, you just go. Don't hesitate. Go. Be there. Even if you are just there with them, not talking.

17.) My brother moved in with us for what we thought was a few months and still is continuing... The upsides outweigh the downsides, and my brother and I have developed a really close relationship. It has come in especially handy these last two weeks. Don't tell anyone, but I love that guy like crazy and I'm so happy that we have each other.

18.) Getting a grown-up bed is life changing! Who knew?

19.) Be open to new friends that will come in to your lives quietly and unassuming, and then will end up being a friend that you couldn't imagine your life without in a very short time. I developed that kind of friendship this year, and it's the best. She is supportive, and so loving and kind, and I am so lucky to have her! Friend pickles. :P

20.) Say yes to creating!!! I am constantly having ideas for "the next thing" that i'm going to be working on to satisfy my creativity, and I think that this year I have found a few that are going to stick around and could someday be a thing -- who knows? Hand lettering is something that I've always been good at but want to really develop and hone... I started making candles, and I love doing that, and have been able to make them for said above friend for her business. I feel great when I create (trademark it! Ha!), and I'm so excited to have a space now in our den that I can do that, and am so thankful for having the time to be able to play!

21.) Sometimes, you just have to worry about your dog enough that you end up making her a geriatric ramp to get up the outside back steps. And then she masters it in about 4 tries and become Ramp Champ 2015. She's the coolest ever.

22.) Hold your family close. Don't be a brat. Make the calls when you think that you should. Show your love.

23.) I learned this year that it's ok to push yourself, but it's also ok to say that you need to sit out of something. I always suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), but when I took a field trip with my 3rd graders and had to sit a few of the strenuous things out, I felt really badly at first. But the more that I reflected, the better I felt -- I TRIED! I gave it my all, and had to back off. That's not the same as failure. I need to remember this constantly.

24.) There is always time and room for ice cream. It's always appropriate to have ice cream on your lunch break. Although I'm not eating sweets right now, it still holds true. Ice cream makes things happier.

25.) Making up a holiday and then celebrating it is particularly thrilling - especially when you are celebrating someone! This year we created a School Lunch Person day, and it was SO fun. The entire school knew about it but managed to keep it a secret until that day. It was so great to celebrate our awesome lunch staff and spoil them!

26.) Throwing a BBQ at your house is not as scary as I'd always thought it would be. In fact, we celebrated David's 30th birthday at our house full of family and friends and it was a BLAST!!! Everyone had a great time. :)

27.) Dressing up your brother's dog and taking her photo without his consent gives me a thrill that probably isn't normal! Haha! But she's so cuuuuuute!

28.) Losing dogs that you love and that the people in your lives love sucks. There's no other way to say it that won't make this blog a Terentino movie. It is just plain heartbreaking to watch someone go through, and my heart still hurts for the people in my life who dealt with this during this last year. You never get over that. They are a part of your family forever.

29.) I have the world's best boss. Hands down. A boss who is there for you no matter what, is so understanding, who gives the best gifts, who lifts you up when you are down, who comes to your wedding and your father's service and cries through both. I am so lucky to have her.

30.) There's something to wonderful about having milk and eggs appear at your doorstep in your cute milk box every week! I love it. Best decision I've made in awhile.

31.) Call your parents. Email them. Text them. Visit them. Talk the talk and walk the walk. You will have regrets if you don't, I promise you.

32.) It's okay to cry. I don't meant to end on a sad one, but it's not always sad. It's ok to cry. People will not laugh at you for crying. They will not shame you. Everyone does it, and needs it, and you can't stop it sometimes. Just know that there is always someone there ready to hug you and allow you time and space to let it out. I've been learning this lately, and while I used to be super embarrassed to cry in front of people, it's gotten easier. Because I'm a human person, surrounded by other human people, and I'm so, so happy to know that.

33.) I have lived through the worst thing that has ever happened to me so far in my life. I'm still living through it. I can handle anything with the family and friends that I have by my side. Never underestimate the impact of your text, call, email, food that you drop off, flowers, cards, etc. Always know that even when you reach out, if you don't get a response, you've been seen and heard. And know that it means so, so much. I feel so supported and loved and cared for -- so much so that it hurts sometimes to know how love I am. But in a good way. It's been hard. Every day is different, and will be different forever, and that's okay.

I am so lucky. I am so blessed. It's not cliche, it's true. I can't write more for fear that #32 will happen -- and it's a very good chance that it will definitely happen. But know this - I am so in love with everyone in my life. And I'm feeling pretty strong at this exact moment in time, and I know it's no coincidence that I am surrounded by an amazing village.

Here's to 2016, and 34 year old Mandy Marcellis. I hope you all like her, because I have a feeling already that I adore her.

Wishing you all love and light this year. I'm hoping to be 34 with tons of it!
Wishing you all love and light this year. I'm hoping to be 34 with tons of it!

A (tiny) friend(ly) reminder...

Things are slowly transitioning into adorable around here. It's that time of year when the holidays are coming, and more and more special days are popping up in our daily school calendar. The days are getting shorter, it's getting colder, and it's starting to feel like Christmas is just around the corner (although this could be since it exploded on to the commercial scene the day after Halloween -- sorry, Thanksgiving!).  With that, comes the feeling that my heart is basically consistently wrapped up in a soft fuzzy blanket. Everything makes me go "awwww" or swoon a little bit, and a lot of things tug at my heart strings so quickly that tears spring to my eyes. DISCLAIMER: Not pregnant, before that even comes out of someone's mouth or gets typed!!  With all of this being said, you will understand completely when I tell you about a moment that I was part of yesterday when reading to the JrK kiddos that completely melted my heart into a little puddle... We were reading a story that was beautifully illustrated, a Native American legend story about the Sun Arrow. We turned a page and there was a drawing of a mama cradling a baby. I pointed it out to the class and one kiddo (who may or not be a favorite of mine if I was picking favorites but I'm not supposed to be I'm just saying he is the sweetest but again I don't have favorites) breathed "oh, I just looooove that!" To which my heart soared a bit.

But wait -- there's more....

There was a quiet conversation between kids after that, and I suddenly heard the same above-named (but totally not one of my favorites because I shouldn't have those right????) say strongly "Don't say that you don't like that. It's beautiful. It's LOVELY!"

You guys. My heart just about burst open right there. I walked away with the warmest feeling in my heart, and I could not wait to share it with my boss, and his parents. Every time I even think about what he said, my hand flies to my heart instinctively as if to say "you're going to hear it again, heart of mine -- prepare yourself so that you don't explode right now."  But I also think I do it because it's my way of containing myself a little bit. If I let myself, every time I thought of that story I could possibly burst in to tears at the sheer sweetness of it.

We can complain left and right, up and down, backwards and forwards all day long. But the beauty of knowing that some of those things that we are complaining about are things that someone else finds beautiful and lovely? To me, it's just plain magical. They say that one man's junk is another man's treasure, and that's so true. That bold reminder from my little friend yesterday jump started my brain into overdrive and has me thinking pretty deeply about the idea of not being so indifferent. And also about seeing the beauty and lovely in everything around us -- even if it's just a drawing on a page. We also must be bold and alert each other of this fact whenever possible. Not to be smug, or to shame, but just like my friend did yesterday -- to simply remind them about the beauty in things that others are so quick to dismiss. 

And so I'm making it my charge to embrace this notion, that there is beauty in everything for someone, even if it isn't me. And I'm also remembering to grant grace when someone doesn't find something lovely like I do. But never being afraid to be the one that loudly breathes "awww, I just love that" when I cannot possibly contain myself.

It's beautiful.
It's beautiful.