Category Archives: family values

Frances

Hi! As I was perusing blogland today, I realized that my own blog has a lovely password-protected post right on top. Welcoming, eh? Let’s fix that!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Luckily, Mama Kat offered some great blog prompts this week and then the fabulous Mrs. Weber posted hers and reminded me that I had planned to do the same.

But, because work is crazy and I don’t have much time to devote to deep thinking, I’m going to go with one of the easier prompts: my first car. Because you know what? At almost 30 years old, I still HAVE my first car.

Here’s the thing. My parents weren’t very nice when it came to the whole give your only child everything she wants thing. Granted, they paid for things like my Catholic high school education, my undergraduate degree, and plenty of other necessities, when it came to the fun stuff, well, they weren’t very fun. I was told from the very beginning that I would have to save and buy my own car.

So I did. I babysat. I started working at a local Hallmark when I was 17 and kept right on working there during school breaks once I went away to college. I began working in my college’s freshman orientation office (a job that is, to this day, my most favorite job EVER), and kept tucking those pennies away.

Finally, the summer before my senior year in college, I cashed in my savings account and bought myself a 1997 Ford Taurus. It was 2002, making the car just about 5 years old. It had traveled an insanely small amount of miles and thus was a pretty good deal. Over the next couple years, I happily drove my family sedan back and forth to college. I named her Frances, which is a pretty stupid story on its own, having to do with Dirty Dancing and the fact that I always called my car Baby.

After college, I moved home and had a 60-mile commute to my first job. Frances safely got me to and fro. She was starting to rack up the miles, though, what with all the commuting and the driving back to college to see my then-boyfriend, later-douche. But, aside from the occasional tune-up and oil change, she was riding fine!

Fast forward to 2006. I’d moved out of the parent’s house, cutting down my commute. Frances was still carting me around town, but she was showing her age. The dome light wouldn’t turn off. She was a little shaky and loud. New tires were needed. But, she was still kicking.

Fast forward to 2009. I was moving to Detroit, eliminating my 30 mile commute entirely. Frances would have a much needed rest in a covered garage! But, while driving home, she decided she’d had enough. She stopped in the middle of a left turn lane about a mile from my house and refused to go further. AAA had to come tow her and I thought it was the end. But, if my parents were cheap with the car money before, they were overly generous with it now, as they had financed the majority of maintenance on Frances since I bought her. On that fateful Monday night, my dad and the Ford dealership brought her back to life. I moved to Detroit, where I thought she’d have a lovely retirement sitting in my garage, only coming out for a weekly ride to yoga or book club or a shopping trip in the suburbs.

Fast forward to 2011. I got a new job and a 60 mile commute. Frances tried to step up, but she just wasn’t having it. After a business trip to West Michigan, she made it clear she’d had enough. The sputtering was heart breaking. Though DD and I were newly engaged and thus, my car should now be his problem, I called my dad. He assured me I’d get home and told me what signs to watch for. When I did make it home, he took the car for another tune-up, which cost probably more than good ol’ Frances is worth.

And that brings us to today. Nine years later, she’s still with me. She’s seen me through college, two old boyfriends, one fiancee, two jobs, and five residences. Until a couple years ago, she could carry all of my worldy posessions. I’ve saved up enough money to buy a better car. But, I come from a family that drives their cars until they die, and Frances seems to have nine lives.

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Filed under Detroit, family values, Growing up super

Protected: One is silver, the other is gold

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Filed under DD (aka My Man), family values, rambling nature, Wedding

After “that” happened

It’s just like me to announce an engagement and then disappear for weeks, isn’t it? For all the inquiring minds, here’s an update. For those who couldn’t give a shit, I do promise that this won’t become a total wedding blog. Notice the word “total”…I can’t promise it won’t come up again.

Basics
We’ve got the church and we’ve got the “hall”, which means we’ve also got the date next April. I really hate that word, hall. I wanted to do something different from the typical hotel ballroom or neighborhood hall, and I think we found it in one of the local yacht clubs. Their ballroom is lovely, their costs aren’t outrageous – though between all the liquor and snack upgrades DD wants, it’s definitely a bit more than I’d hoped to spend. Thank goodness we have parents who are helping and who loved the venue as well.

We looked at three places and there’s a small part of me that thinks we should have expanded the search to find something even more cost effective, but that would have meant looking at even more non-traditional locales that would have required us to bring in our own food, liquor, linens, etc. As much as I wanted to be different, I also didn’t want the hassle. Though I have experience planning events and my day job is as a project manager, I didn’t want my wedding to get so detailed that it becomes that heinous project I don’t want to manage.

The Budget
Though the wedding is 12 months out, I’m already having dreams and mild panic attacks. At first, it was about the location. Was I looking everywhere? Had I exhausted my options? Was I making the right decision?

Now, it’s about the budget. First, our current budget is much more than I thought I’d be spending on my wedding. The expense frustrates me, and the majority of it isn’t even my money! Second, there will be lots of hands in the pot; DD and I, his aunt, and my parents – who are picking up most of the tab. I’m trying to walk a fine line between involving our families and also making it clear that we (read: I) have certain ideas about our wedding. Thus far, they’ve been great. Fingers crossed. 

Though, I don’t think I will ever full get over the awkwardness that is the money. My parents and I have never really discussed money and in their minds I’m still their little girl so they shouldn’t discuss money. When I sat down with them to try to get a handle on how they were interested in helping (read: how much they were willing to give), it was nothing less than awkward. At almost 30, it’s hard for me to ask my parents to just shell out tens of thousands of dollars, but it’s also hard for me to drain my own savings account that could go toward the future for DD and me.

I think we’ve finally come to an understanding on who will be pitching in and with how much. I hope we have. Frankly, that’s the other thing about the budget that has me stressed. While we have a general idea of how much we have available to spend on each thing, I really have no idea if those estimates are doable in today’s Wedding Business. Yes, that deserves capital letters.

In addition, DD and I have very different ideas on where we want to spend money and where we don’t. For instance, I could give a shit about the late night snack, but I really want to rent fancier chairs. He’s the opposite – oh, and throw in the premium liquor, too!

Perhaps that’s why God made weddings in the first place. To offer the happy couple a little test on compromise and financial planning.

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Filed under DD (aka My Man), Detroit, family values, relationships, Wedding

reverb10: Party, party

Continuing on the occasional reverb10 train, today’s prompt was all about the parties of 2010:

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

For me, the biggest party of the year — and thus the one that “rocked my socks off”, was DD’s birthday party.

He celebrated the big 3-0 in October, so I threw a shindig at my house. At first I was going to do appetizers and beer/wine, but at the last minute, I decided to embrace the fall season and serve up some spiced (and spiked) cider, two kinds of chili with all the fixin’s, and, of course, some appetizers. I outsourced most of the cooking to my mom and dad, which was a pretty smart idea.

It was great to have DD and his friends over to celebrate the start of another decade in his life. It’s a decade that will be about us and creating a family of our own. (Or at least I hope it will be!) It’s a decade that will probably bring a few trials and tribulations. But, it’s a decade that I’m looking forward to.

Aside from the obvious party choice, my favorite parties are those that involve family. As I looked over my calendar, I remembered the 4th of July barbecue that DD’s aunt hosted. I thought about the quiet Thanksgiving evening we spent with my parents. It’s the stuff like this that mean the most.

I’ve never been a big party gal. I love a glass of wine as much as the next girl, but staying out late and downing shot after shot just ain’t my style. So, it’s the quiet parties that I tend to enjoy most. The ones when I can connect with people I care about and relax. The ones where I don’t have to yell over the din of music. The ones where I don’t have to sidle up to a bar and stand for hours on end.

Plus, DD’s aunt makes some pretty awesome appetizers.

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Filed under blogging rocks!, DD (aka My Man), family values, glass half full, loft style living

Homecoming

There’s something I’ve been wanting to put out here for quite some time, but just haven’t known how. Still don’t think I’ve found a total solution, but here it is nonetheless.

A couple months back, I traveled to D.C. for work. It was rather unpleasant, involving a 12 hour delay before leaving Detroit, culminating in a late evening flight and a very cranky Supergirl.

As I prepared to board, a co-worker noticed a hearse on the tarmac. Shortly after, we saw a uniformed Marine near our gate. We easily put it together and realized that this was a final homecoming for a soldier.

When I landed in D.C., I walked off the jetway and looked through the window back at the plane. There, waiting on the tarmac for the luggage to be unloaded, was a Marine honor guard. Gathering in the terminal was the family, waiting for their loved one.

I stood there for a moment, wanting to witness the scene and send up a prayer or two, but I quickly realized it needed to be a private moment. Instead, I went to find my ground transportation, quietly sobbing the entire way.

Fast forward to now. While enjoying a leisurely Memorial Day weekend, DD’s sister got word that her brother-in-law, a 20-year-old Marine, had been killed overseas. For now, let’s call him L. While not directly related to L, I’d seen him at family functions and know his sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews — 3 of which DD also plays uncle to.

The last two weekends have been spent in a whirlwind of emotion, combined with a healthy dose of babysitting. It was an interesting experience to watch the family go through a heartache no family should have to undergo.

At the funeral, the priest mentioned that L had written to his family about the deal he’d made with God so that he’d deliver him home safely. The priest made the point — comforting or not — that God did in fact bring L home safe.

I thought of that Marine I traveled to D.C. with and I thought of L. And I thought about this notion of homecoming. I suppose that while it’s not very comforting, it is true if you’re a person of faith. They are home. And they are safe.

I think of that Marine often, and now I’ll think of L as well.

I’ll think of them as I watch DD’s nephews play baseball on a hot Saturday afternoon. I’ll think of them as I leave the house in sandals and a tank top, with no one to judge my wardrobe. I’ll think of them as I sit on my favorite outdoor patio with a cocktail and good friends. And sure, I’ll think of them when I hear the Star Spangled Banner or cast my vote the next time. After all, it’s because of them and so many others that I’m able to do all of that and so much more without fear and with complete and utter abandon.

We all know people are dying halfway around the world, but do we really know? Do we really understand what that means? Even as an Army brat, with a father who served in the first Gulf War, I don’t think I completely understood.

But when I watched that honor guard wait on that tarmac, and I heard the 21 gun salute at L’s funeral, I got it. I was part of their final homecoming and I’m so thankful for what they gave up for me.

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Filed under DD (aka My Man), family values, Hmm, rambling nature

Baby fever

I never thought I’d say this, but it’s happened.

I’ve got baby fever.

(Seriously. Click on the link. You’ll see how unlikely I thought this was).

I think I know where it’s coming from. One of my best friends had a baby last summer; the first of my friends to start popping out these little bundles of joy. And then this week, a friend of DD’s — who I’ve also grown close to — had a lovely little one.

I’ve watched his friend throughout her entire pregnancy and as her belly grew, so did my envy. It wasn’t envy in a green-eyed or malicious way, but rather, a realization that it was something I wanted too. For the past few years, I’ve been proud to say that my biological clock isn’t even turned on, so it’s a realization that’s coming as a bit of a surprise.

I think the envy is also coming from a realization that I’m nowhere near the point of having one. While friends are truly settling down by procreating, DD and I are barely on the subject of marriage. It’s there, but it has to be handled with care. So the subject of my own procreation some day is an even more distant thought.

I know I have many good childbirth years ahead of me, so there’s no need to go all biological clock crazy on him. I also know that right now this is more of a baby fever, not a full-blown child fever. One evening with his nephews, ages 7 and 9, makes me want to run screaming for my birth control.

But rocking a fussy baby to sleep using my inherent momma sway does make me think that maybe, just maybe, I can do it one day.

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Filed under DD (aka My Man), family values, glass half full, Hmm

The evolution of cooking

Last week, I found myself cooking tofu for the first time. Sure, I’ve eaten it before, but it was my first foray into making it myself. As I was frying it up, I began to think about how cooking in my family has evolved over the generations.

It’s actually been longer than a week that I’ve been thinking about this. About a month ago, I visited my mother’s mother, and was fed her best fare: sloppy joes with canned green beans, pot roast with mashed potatoes, and hamburger and onion pizza from the local pizzeria.

Oh, and don’t forget the canned mandarins as the fruit serving. Ugh.

This is the typical menu when visiting grandma. My grandfather is an old school, meat and potatoes guy and my grandmother is an old school, eat on a budget, cook. I would never tell my grandmother that I can’t stand sloppy joes and that canned fruit and vegetables give me the heebie-jeebies. I am grateful that she invites me into her home and feeds me, horrific 1940s food and all. But, it’s also a good thing I’ve never officially become a vegetarian. I’d starve to death each visit.

Then there’s my mother. Her cooking is a vast departure from canned beans and pot roast. I grew up on frozen or fresh vegetables. Lots of fish. A healthy dose of meat, but an equally healthy does of vegetarian options. I love my mother’s cooking. I love her kitchen. She has every gadget imaginable, and all sorts of fabulous recipes stored away from years of cook books and cooking magazines. Her kitchen is the place we gather on a regular weeknight, chatting about our lives, or stand around in at holidays, munching on bruschetta and sipping the latest cocktail concoction she’s found in Martha Stewart Living.

She never really taught me how to cook, a Type A who always preferred to handle things herself, but I still learned all I know about food and cooking from her.

That doesn’t mean I’m a culinary whiz. When I first started out, macaroni and cheese was my only culinary feat. I was a master at boiling pasta and throwing some cheddar cheese on top. But that was about it. In fact, my lack of cooking ability was just one in a litany of reasons that my old boyfriend called it quits when I thought we’d be headed down the aisle someday.

If only he could see me now. Frying tofu. Testing out homemade cream sauces. Cooking with chorizo instead of hamburger meat. Trying things my mother never did and her mother never thought of. Finding joy in making dinner for DD and having him enjoy it.

I don’t plan on being Susie Homemaker like my mom. But I do plan on making a home — and a kitchen — in my own, modern way.

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Filed under family values, foodie, glass half full, Hmm, rambling nature, Uncategorized