Monday, December 31, 2012

And Happy New Year, too

During our last meal of 2012...

Hubby: So, what are your New Year's resolutions?  I know mine (*insert mischievous grin*)
Me: I dunno.  Find a new pet name for you?
Hubby: Well, mine is to finish that bathroom in 2013!

Oi.  Let's hope that's a resolution he gets out of the way early =)

A quick review of 2012...
...we finished the kitchen
...we put up drapes in the great room (I am pretty sure Nan would have approved)
...we lost Grandma
...we (um, hubby) finished painting the grasscloth
...we put up new valences in the office (twice) and our bedroom and the kitchen
...we finished our dining room
...we redid the landscaping around the house
...hubby finished out my craft closet
...we finished the powder room
...we (um, hubby - he doesn't approve of my painting) repainted our bedroom
...we made the laundry room less humid and more clean
...we got an Audi to celebrate my 30th birthday
...we started renovating the Jack and Jill bathroom
...I ran 2 half marathons 
...we made trips to Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Rutland
...we welcomed new little ones into the world
...we hosted holidays, dinner parties, and cocktail hours at Turnberry Love
...we had business trips and day trips and trips on the sidewalk (yup, I fell again...)
...we enjoyed the wonderful company of friends and family, doggies, and one another

So, from one of my favorite running songs (and yes, some of the words in between are inappropriate, but I love the gist of the song...

"May the best of your todays 
Be the worst of your tomorrows...  
Just some picture perfect day 
To last a whole lifetime 
And it never ends 
Cos all we have to do is hit rewind  
So let's just stay in the moment..." - Jay-Z

Cheers to a wonderful 2012 with the hope that 2013 holds much promise!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Houston, we have PrOgReSs!!!

With some time off this Christmas, we've started running out of excuses to work on the bathroom =)

Well, almost.  Last weekend, we first took a trip to Furnitureland South in Jamestown to look at their sale... and found the first bedroom suite we've been able to agree on.  A four poster/canopy bed to make me happy with a low-profile footboard for hubby!  The drawers are even the soft-close... aren't those pants spiffy?

We picked up crown moulding that was so long, it had to go through the back window of the truck!

Hubby took advantage of all the boxes that Christmas arrived in this year and started transforming some bookends...

After a suggestion from Winston, who was looking on, he put the bookends in the boxes (as opposed to on top of the boxes) and spray painted them bright green!  

With all the Christmas festivities behind us, hubby decided to install the crown moulding "the right way."  It is a thing of beauty.

With successful installation of that, hubby moved on to tiling, two rows at a time... we are making progress!

And, if you're wondering what I've been up to, other than constantly cleaning the holiday kitchen, I'll give you a little hint... hopefully, the final product will be ready in May!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Darling

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, 
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? 
It came without ribbons. It came without tags. 
It came without packages, boxes or bags. 
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Sending love to all my family and friends across the miles this Christmas Eve, remembering all the wonderful love-filled Christmas Eves spent with family, and relishing the opportunity to make more memories with our little family again this year!  May you and yours be filled with and share the love of our Savior, who's birth we have celebrated for thousands of years, not just on Christmas, but with every loving act done for our fellow man.  

Merry Christmas, Darling.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Professional movers.

This weekend, in what, if we really admit it, was another move to avoid conquering the rest of the bathroom remodel, we offered to move my bro and his soon-to-be bride!  Bro was out of town, so my parents, hubby, and future sister-in-law convened at the old place Saturday morning.  Five hours later, all the big stuff and the majority of the little stuff had made it to its new home!  We even managed to get all the bedroom furniture up stairs that twisted back on themselves (bro, if you think we're bringing that queen mattress and boxsprings back down that staircase in 6 months, you got another thing coming, so you might as well resign yourself to the fact that WFU will be your first choice; besides, it's a lovely place to stick around in for a while :-D).  It's an adorable place with a really nice kitchen and fabulous storage space.  It's sunny and happy, the walls are nice and neutral, and it's safe with an alarm system.  In between moving and partying, I started on my Christmas cookie-making.  So far, I've got 6 lbs (give or take, most likely take - it is gluten free, after all) of fudge, a couple dozen sugar cookies, and lemon spritz cookies!  Yum!

Anywho, these two elves decided to deliver a little Christmas cheer last night!

We left a note on it...

So they would know it was good elves sneaking in =)  Well, in our elf-defense, they did give us a key.  What did they expect?  Happy 1 year of engagement, lovebirds!!!

And, they loved it.  We love Christmas.  What a special time to be able to surprise our families and show them our thanks for all they do all year!  See, even Winston was getting in on the holiday cheer!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another memorial.

The first time I heard about Frank, it was from hubby, who was taking painting lessons from him.  He'd go to class with Mrs. Cherry, and he came home with beautiful paintings.  Many an evening we spent in the basement of Grandma's, him painting and me running back and forth up and down the stairs getting sewing advice from her then returning to my labors next to him.  Wonderful memories of crafting together.

It seems that hubby and Frank had soft spots for one another.  Two artists, seeing the world in colors the rest of us tend to miss.

Thanks to Frank, our house walls are covered in vibrant colors, expressing landscapes that remind me of Vermont, streets in our hometown, houses that draw us down King Street each time we return to Charleston.  We'd go visit him in his humble studio that doubled as a house, and we'd end up leaving with one - or more paintings that he'd cut a deal for us on.  

Frank didn't appear to have many worldly things, but he certainly had passion and talent.  I am so grateful he shared that with hubby and that, as a result, hubby's paintings hang alongside Frank's in Turnberry Love today.  I am so grateful to be able to say I knew such an amazing artist and that I was a part of the core group of people who filtered in during the greatest times of need (I'm not sure which of us needed more - us or him) and bought a painting or two to get him by. 

We were lucky enough to receive a painting from Frank for our wedding.  And, probably because of Frank, our wedding guest book was a painting of us done by the incredibly talented man I married.

Yes, the world has lost a great artist, and I bet heaven is a little more colorful this week.  Paint in peace, Frank Rowland.  You will be missed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Just another Friday night...

Seven weeks after sharing his birthday with his mommy, Grayson invited us for snuggles!  Hubby flew into the CLT airport, and Grayson's amazing Dad managed to get us to their house using functions I didn't know were possible on my phone.  So, almost 4 hours after I left the house, we finally made it.

Absolute heaven.  He has busted through the 8lbs now!  Go teeny little super guy!!!

His dad is a total pro at swaddling - we got to see him in action... but somehow, I missed a pic of him and mom - how rude.

But, folks, here's the big news of the night...

Drumroll please...

After lots of convincing and attempts by me, his Dad managed to somehow pass Grayson off to hubby.

You have to admit, he doesn't even look THAT uncomfortable... ;)

It was a long week without hubby around, and I barely made it home before falling sound asleep... so glad to have him home!  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Little Nan

A note... this is for me, really, so I don't forget all the memories I am afraid to forget... and posting about someone I love in 'Turnberry Love' just seemed appropriate.  There are no home improvement stories today, unless you believe that expressing your grief and being OK with it is a home improvement.  I do.

A year ago two days ago, I heard my Nan's sing-song laugh for the last time.  I will cherish that last conversation, as short as it was.

A year ago yesterday, I had just turned in my very first grant in my new job and I had a strong urge to go to my Nan NOW.  I have always had a disturbing intuition about those things related to life, and the feeling had started with our last conversation.  I looked for a last minute flight, telling my mom I did not want to wait until Nan got out of the hospital.  We needed to go.  By 11pm, things had turned and then turned again, and we had booked a flight and then re-booked it for the second flight out in the morning.  It was a race against God and Nature - one that we were not meant to win.

I'm good at not winning races, in case you've noticed =)

Anyway, that day, hubby dropped us off at the airport after more of a nap than a night's sleep.  We both fought to keep ourselves composed throughout the trip.  As we flew into Albany, a streak of pink appeared in the sky.  By my calculations, that was probably about the time Nan was taking her last breath.  Mom smiled and pointed it out, since Nan's nickname was "Pinkie" back in the day.

We continued to "fly" when we got to Albany, not ready to make contact with any of our family, not wanting to know.  There we went, in our little tin-can of a rental that smelled horribly of smoke, speeding in the traffic and around trucks on the 2 lane roads through the Vermont back country.  It was raining.  I dropped Mom off at the doors, just in case, I thought, she could make it in time.  I somehow knew I wouldn't.  It's been a pattern for me...

Anyway, I want to focus on the strength.  Nan struck me as an incredibly strong woman.  She raised 5 kids and like a dozen grandkids.  She taught us how to swim, slathered us with sunscreen, and made sure there were always popsicles in the freezer in the summer.  In the winter, she once snuck me out onto her back hill when I was sick, just because she knew it'd be the only time I'd get to sled that year (Mom figured it out when she saw my rosy cheeks).  She rarely showed any emotions other than positive ones.  Laughed a lot.

I remember, though, the day Grammy died.  Amazingly vividly, in fact.  Dad had taken us into the field behind Nan and Pop's to tell us she was gone.  I walked back in the house and Nan was crying.  She was wearing her sunglasses inside (something she tended to do until we reminded her).  I think that's one of the only times I ever saw her cry.  There was strength in those tears, too.

She taught me that there is a bond between Mother and Daughter that makes us stronger.  Mom and I managed to pretty much hold it together for each other when one of us needed a little extra... heck, Mom and I managed to live together as adult women, with our husbands, in close quarters, for like 8 months.  If that ain't strength, people, I don't know what is!

I remember Nan's hands.  They were strong, smooth, bedazzled (hm, is that where I got my love of jewelry?), and wrinkled up in a particular way as she smoothed her hair out just so, or patted the table and then my hand or magically unburned my favorite peasant shirt I had just burned with the iron, or fixed dropped eggs on toast (like no one else could or ever will be able to, in my opinion), or grabbed me out of the ocean as I tumbled after getting hit with a particularly unforgiving wave, or held onto the ladder as she slowly eased herself into the pool (ohhhhh! she would exclaim - I think we all mimicked her at some point), or reached for the pool thermometer to tell us it was a balmy 70 and we should jump in or pushed the water so we could have a whirl pool faster, or made up one of the pull out couches (in summer) or upstairs beds (in winter) so we could have a sleep-over...

Yup, strength.  She had us all fooled.  She trucked through Boston like 10 years ago - I had to stop and get a brace for my swelling knee, but Nan?  Nan was fine.  Come to my wedding?  You betcha - dance with me?  Of course, even though she thought it was silly.  Let anyone on to the fact that she'd end up in the hospital while I enjoyed my honeymoon?  Nope.  Nan never seemed to get sick.  Even in her final days, she had everyone fooled.  They had no idea it would be so sudden.  But that was her way...

I miss our workday calls immensely.  I often wonder what the weather is like up there or how Emmie is or what her friends or my other family members are up to.  I sometimes now even still reach for my phone, as if I am going to call her.  I still walk out of work almost every day, phone in hand, as if I am going to call her on my way out the door.

I remember the games of Rummy, the way she'd turn around to throw something away in her kitchen, how her kitchen never seemed as small as it really was when she was in it, how she always had something to give each of us at Christmas, the way she'd call Pop "Jeromie", the way her swim skirt would float as she did her exercises in the pool, the way she patted her hair to see if her curlers were dry yet, the beauty parlor sessions in her kitchen, the way she'd stand at the bottom of the red carpeted stairs and gently call your name to see if you were awake when you needed to be, how a bathroom break settled all quarrels between grandkids, how she had a home remedy for everything - often ice or a hot washcloth, the way she'd sit with her legs crossed and her hands dangling down, bent toward the earth at the wrists, the trips to Seward's and Friendly's, the shopping trips, the hugs, and the "Love, Nan" written on my last birthday card.

So, a year ago tomorrow, I wrote that I hoped all blogs go to heaven.  I am sure they do, at least to Nan.  Us redheads have a special bond, one that I will feel and appreciate for the entirety of my life.  So Nan, I hope to continue on in your work, making the lives of my loved ones and all around me a little easier and nicer with my presence and talents, appreciating my strength and the strength of the women in my family, so I can truly fulfill the nickname given to me the summer we discovered we had the same haircut and pink plastic frames...

Yours always,

Little Nan

Saturday, December 1, 2012

From a chicken to a rabbit.

It all started with some chit-chat at work... and then Bethany offering to join me for my last pre-Maple Leaf training run... then her thinking about backing out but changing her mind and pushing forward because my hubby called her a chicken.  We started training just two weeks after my Vermont experience.  We scheduled work around Thursday afternoon runs and our weekends around Saturday morning runs.  We had lots of time... and lots of time to talk.  I never thought I'd enjoy having a running buddy that much, but I did.  It was a whole different kind of therapy in comparison to my solo long runs.  And then the day came.  We were both nervous...

But felt ready to take on the hills of Buena Vista (and the hills of WFU/Reynolda Gardens, which are way worse).  We had run the route all through training.  Twelve miles went really well last weekend.  Well, the good news is that I hit my goal.  I finished without an asthma attack.  I learned my lesson and walked some hills when I felt myself wheezing.  I had the cheering squad of Robert and Olivia, then Mom and hubby several times, and Jaime and Eleanor (who managed to find her voice to cheer us on much louder than the last race!).  I also had random people who came out of their houses or drove and set up shop to cheer us on.   That makes such a difference.  At about mile 10, I told my running buddy to go.  She's the rabbit.  Super-fast, made for running.  The turtle continued on, powered on by hubby's smile telling me I had more to go.  I learned some important lessons for next time.  Namely, it is important to eat when you have to sit around for 2 hours before running another another 2 (I usually just get up and run, not needing to eat).  But I think this time, I look a little better, a little stronger, and about 40 minutes faster.

Yeah, I'll take that.  Next half, watch out.  I will TEAR YOU UP.  I maybe will even be able to keep up with my bunny running partner.