Day 105 – New York on the brain

Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing.

And this is where the words get stuck. It’s getting late, the kids are barely in bed, my eyes are heavy, and I just can’t get my brain to cooperate and put these swirling thoughts in any sort of sensible order.

If you want to know the truth of it, I’ve got New York on the brain. We booked tickets for a trip this summer. It will be our first trip out East since Richie & Diane’s house was sold, since we wrapped up the details of the estate and said our goodbyes. I think we’ve sort of been avoiding a trip because we both know it’s going to be hard–going for a visit and not having the old house to go back to. And honestly it’s been easier than it should have been to avoid the trip. We’ve just been so busy. Isn’t that always a great excuse?

But now we’re going. It’s going to be fun, because we’re heading back to Concordia for a Band Bash reunion. Stevie’s getting some of the old bandmates back together, and we’re excited to see everyone and be back on campus for awhile and to get a chance to tap back into the place we love so much and miss every day.

Every damn day.

But it’s always bittersweet to go back too. I mean, we’re not surprised. We’ve been 12 years gone. But somehow everything has changed and nothing has changed. We just left yesterday, but we’ve been gone a lifetime.

And even if it’s a little painful, it’s always good to go back. It’s a homecoming. I crane my neck to catch that first glimpse of New York City in the tiny airplane window, and my heart keeps a beat every time.

And walking around campus–that place where I celebrated the best days and survived the worst days and learned more about myself than any other place before or since–I always get this feeling that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, surrounded by the people who love me and supported me and taught me how to be my very best self.

Let the countdown begin.

Hello San Diego

With everything going on in our lives lately, and all the issues H-Man has had sleeping lately, I’ve really been torn about this trip.

On the one hand, I love my job, and I get a bit of a rush out of seeing all of our hard work pay off at one of our events. Plus, I get to visit some really cool places, and I work with some seriously cool people, so even these work events and all the craziness and stress leading up to them ends up being totally worth it.

On the other hand, life has been sort of ridiculous lately, and between all the stress and our hectic schedules coupled with the fact that H-Man has been sleeping HORRIBLY the past few weeks, well, I’ve been feeling lately like I’m just about the end of my proverbial rope.

I was running around like a little bit of a lunatic lately, trying to get everything done, trying to remember to pack everything, checking and rechecking my bags, trying to figure out how to make everything fit and still be able to haul my 6-month-old through the airport. And then this morning I accidentally turned off my alarm instead of hitting snooze, so I woke up in a bit of a panic, scrambling to get showered and changed and throw the last minute items into my suitcase before grabbing H-Man out of his crib and hustling out the door to catch my plane.

Luckily, my co-workers are pretty amazing, and between the three of us we managed to arrive here in San Diego in one piece and still relatively sane. (My boss even changed Henry’s dirty diaper in record time before our connecting flight left Phoenix. How’s that for teamwork?)

So now, here we are. And it’s time to get a little sleep because tomorrow the fun begins.

Come on, Henry. Let’s make Momma proud and do that thing where you sleep through the night. (Please please please please please).

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Nonna & Poppa Visit Nebraska

If there is any drawback to me having a very, very large family, it’s that we don’t ever really feel like we get to spend enough time with any of them. Since leaving Arizona in December 2010, I’ve been lucky enough to take Cadence back with me for a few visits, some work trips and some just to spend a little time with Momma Dawn and Mark. But somehow the trips always seem rushed (especially when I’m working) and always end too soon. Planning visits is always challenging with work schedules and my youngest siblings’ school and activities to consider. And now that Cadence has started Kindergarten just as my two youngest brothers are finishing their senior years in high school, finding ways to visit all the grandparents in New York and Colorado and Arizona is going to get even harder.

But if there’s anything we’ve learned being so spread out from so much family, it’s to take whatever visits we get and try to make the most of them. So when Nonna and Poppa said they might be able to come for a quick visit after Christmas, we jumped at the opportunity. We hung out, watched a little football, and just enjoyed the time together. I was lucky enough to get an extra day off work with Snowmageddon threatening to bury us (which amounted to little more than a few inches and some slick roads). And the only regret I have  is that I wasn’t better about getting out the camera while Nonna and Poppa were here. Next time, I’m gonna go all paparazzi, but for now, this will have to do…

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And I have to say, for being a desert rat, born and raised in sunny Arizona, Poppa Mark sure can shovel a mean driveway!

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Elf on the Shelf 2014 – Day 3

Seems someone is still a little jetlagged. This morning, Cadence found Cosette snuggled in beneath a blanket in the living room, taking a little snooze.

Sweet dreams little elf!

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The Next Chapter

Somehow, even when things are messy and chaotic and stressful, you’re there because that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.

There’s something you’re supposed to do, something you’re supposed to learn, someone you’re supposed to meet.

It’s not always easy sticking with it. It’s not always easy toughing it out, finding a way to manage it. But you do, and eventually you realize that storm clouds are beginning to break apart and rays of sunshine are starting to shine through and you’re still there, still standing, still smiling.

When I found myself back in an office working full-time after staying home, freelancing, and serving as the primary caregiver for my daughter for the first three years of her life, I won’t lie…I was anxious. I worried that maybe I’d gotten rusty, that maybe I wasn’t as sharp or talented or capable as I was before I stepped into the world of work-at-home-motherhood. But it didn’t take long before I was back in the groove–making new friends, connecting with clients, writing stories, taking photos, and publishing things that I was proud of.

It felt good to get back in a groove again.

If there is one thing that I am really proud of when it comes to my work, it’s my unquenchable thirst to always do better, to be better. I’ve never been the type who can do just enough to get by. I can’t just meet a standard; I have to exceed it. I can’t take a shortcut if it means compromising quality. I can’t sell myself or anyone else short. I set lofty goals. I have high expectations. I believe that if you can’t look back at the end of the day and truthfully say that you’ve done your absolute best, you’re not doing it right.

Those are values I hold near and dear to my heart, and they are values that I will never compromise…not for anyone.

Tomorrow, I will be wrapping things up at News Link, writing the final words in that short chapter in my life and I will tell you, I am thankful for every moment spent there.

I am thankful for the fact that I got to spend this past year earning a paycheck doing the three things I love the most–writing, taking photos, and connecting with people.

I am thankful that I got to meet and connect with some of the most hardworking, down-to-earth folks on this earth. To all the men and women I met in the shops, yards, and stretches of railroad tracks across the country, thank you for welcoming me into your lives, teaching me, sharing your stories, and keeping me safe. The folks in the Lincoln Diesel Shop, the UP Track Programs crews, the G&W Pacific Region employees, and all the folks at the Terminal Companies in California, Washington, Oregon, and Kansas now hold a very special place in my life, and I certainly hope our paths will continue to cross in the future.

I am thankful for the adversity I faced, for the people I didn’t see eye to eye with, for the frustrations I dealt with both in the office and on the road. It has made me stronger, wiser, and more confident in myself, my beliefs, and my vision of the future.

And, most of all, I am thankful for the beautiful souls I encountered on this crazy journey. The friendships forged in the past year are friendships that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, will last far into the future. We’ve laughed together, shared meals together, played sports (badly) together. We’ve shared frustrations, celebrated each other’s successes, and helped pick each other up. We’ve kept each other sane, driven each other a little crazy, and made each other laugh. We’ve pulled pranks, shared secrets, and exchanged quizzical glances when the morning meetings suddenly took bizarre turns. I love them, and I think I must have needed them, and maybe, just maybe, they needed me too (whether they really care to admit it or not).

I’m ridiculously excited for this new job and the new opportunities stretching out before me. I can’t wait to see where this fork in the road will lead.

All is as it should be. Life is good, and it’s time for the next chapter to begin…

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Daddies and Daughters

The hardest part about taking a trip without my husband is not that I have to navigate the airport by myself with our 2-year-old in tow or that I’ve forgotten how to sleep in a bed by myself without someone stealing the covers or crowding me. Yeah, those things can be tough, but the worst part about not having Steven along while I’m out of town for a week is the simple fact that I miss him.

Go ahead and roll your eyes. Make retching sounds if you want. I don’t care.

Truth be told, life’s just a lot more fun with Steven around. He makes me laugh. He gets my jokes. He likes to discuss and debate things I like to discuss and debate. He sometimes even knows what I’m thinking without me having to say a word. Sitting next to him, I can’t help but feel that all is right with the world.

But even better than all of those things combined is seeing him be a Daddy. And boy, does his little girl miss him too. After fighting with my crappy old laptop for the last four days, we finally managed to get online and have a Skype date. Cadence freaked out when she heard her Daddy’s voice and saw him appear on the computer screen. It was all I could do to keep her from tearing a hole in my laptop to get to him.

If that doesn’t absolutely melt your heart, I’d have to question whether you’re even human.