Tuesday, December 31, 2013

DEC 31, 2013 - Out with the old, in with the new? 2014?

  *Song of the Day: Led Zepelin - Ten Years Gone

         The years 2013/2014 have brought good and bad times, just like any other.  As I sit in my living room surrounded by friends that have become family, it's still hard not to feel alone.

          We welcomed 3 new babies, Liam,Violet, and Amelia.  They all are amazing little angels that bring smiles to my face every time I see them. 





         Here's to a New Year, filled with hopefully some peace, love, and less solitude. 

Happy New Years to all my loved ones.  
Thanks for being in my life.

Monday, December 23, 2013

DEC 23, 2013 - Spirit of Christmas in the Hearts of Strangers

       *Song of the Day: Iron and Wine- Peng! 33

          Last night, Rex and I were tremendously surprised to find 2 packages on our side porch when we returned home from the grocery store.   They both were wrapped, one for Audrey, the other for Jack.  They were addressed "Merry Christmas, -Love, Santa."

        Incredibly both gifts were things that the kids had on their wish lists, but we could not afford them.  This year has been filled with over $7,000 of medical bills, $500 car deductible from recent wreck, and a $700 trip I took that I expected to pay for from working during trip, but unfortunately did not happen that way.   These are not our kid's concern, but unfortunately it does effect them.

          Least to say Christmas is much smaller this year.  My adult friend gifts are all homemade, and I requested no gifts be bought for our children or us, since we could not reciprocate the gesture. We even opted out of our own family grab bag so we could save that money for our children.  

        This is the first time we've never participated; and it's strange, and a little sad to be honest.  However,  Rex and I made the decision together for Jack and Audrey's sake.

          Earlier last month I told Audrey that Christmas would be significantly smaller this year, and that I was sorry due to most of the above bills being from me.   I cried, and apologized profusely, feeling like I had let my kids down.  I know Christmas is not all about material things, but for a 14 and 6 year old- it's important.

       Audrey later stated to me, " Don't get me anything before you buy Jack all of his gifts."  This not only shocked me, but also made me so very proud of how thoughtful she was toward Jack even though they fight daily. 

         Rex and I did our best to get some things that they would like, but knew Christmas would seem very different to them.  We are so grateful to the person or persons that gave us these gifts.  Whoever you are, you have revived the spirit of Christmas through your kindness and generosity that we would never be able to repay you for. 

        Hopefully you are somewhere out there reading this, and realize that you are truly phenomenal, and we will never forget this our entire lives.

        Merry Christmas and thank you from the depth of my heart.  You have rekindled my faith in the goodness of humanity.
                                                                                               Love Always,                                                                                                                                                         Amber


Thursday, December 19, 2013

DEC 18, 2013 - Feeling Invisible....

      *Song of the Day: The Eels- Mansion of Los Feliz 

       I'm not sure what more I can do to not be invincible to important people in my life. I've lost 70lbs, wear make-up (I know right ), and real GIRL CLOTHES. I use these for only funerals and weddings, but now I'm wearing them practically everyday.  

       It doesn't sound like a big difference, but for those who know me know it is.  I'm used to dressing to hide myself; men's 2x t-shirts and 38 baggy shorts and pants. 

         I still get passed over, treated like one of the guys, and not considered when it comes to opening doors or compliments.
      I'm tired of being that girl that is a tomboy, and doesn't care about themselves outwardly.  I've worked really hard to look the way I do now, and it's hurtful and mostly disappointing when people don't acknowledge or say anything nice. 

       I can't take it much more.  I'm pretty, skinnier, and good-hearted.  I deserve to be told these things.  I don't understand it.  What more can I do?   

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DEC 17, 2013 - What's next ???

       *Song of the Day: Ray LaMontagne- All the Wild Horses

         On our drive home today I ended up taking two pictures of the night sky I found breathtaking and surreal.  Driving at times it feels like everything around me goes into slow motion, and I can't distinguish what is real and what feels as only I can describe it as a dream. I sometimes pinch myself to make sure I'm still alive when this happens, just to secure my sanity.  
         I'm not definitive on what or who I believe may be waiting for me in the afterlife, but with beauty like this it's hard for me to believe nothing happens.  Just some thoughts I have often when driving, looking at nature's sights, and even after experiencing friendship and love. It's hard for me to think that unique and powerful energy disappears with death. 
       Either way, I cannot get over the respect and awe I have for some of the beauties of this life. 

      I've never seen anything like this before, breathtaking.  Talking about death and afterlife, this past weekend I had a conversation about the three songs friends of mine would pick for our own funerals.  My three songs are....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

DEC 14, 2023 - Newborns and Life Long Decisions

                       *Song of the Day: Louis Armstrong- What a Wonderful World

           All of my friends have been super fertile this last year. Three of my closest friends are all having babies.  They are so damn cute, cuddly, sweet, smell good, and innocent. 

          I posted earlier on a friend's blog " Hurry it up already, new baby smell > new car smell."  I decided 6 years ago when I had Jack to get a tubal ligation, which then was the most responsible and logical decision.
           Now fast forward almost 7 years later, and regret creeps in late at night.  I can't erase the past, but at times I really want a redo. Especially when gazing into innocent eyes of an angel who only yearns for unconditional love and affection.
           If I had it to do it again, three children I may have enjoyed to be a mother of. 

       Babies are such amazing miracles.  I love you Violet, Liam, and Amelia. 

Liam and I

Stephanie and Violet

         "Always kiss your children goodnight, even if they're already asleep."
              -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

DEC 14, 2013 - Age is only but a number..

   *Song of the Day: Counting Crows- Holiday in Spain

             I recently have been mistaken for both older and younger than I am.  In April, I was asked if I was the mother of a 29 year old Caucasian man, who just happens to be my 6'3" husband (??).  When I took Audrey semi formal dress shopping, the woman asked if we both needed a dress, and last week I was happily mistaken for a 25 yr old that didn't look old enough to have a teenage daughter.  It proves how different opinions can be. 
      When I was 29, I dreaded becoming 30.  Everyone said " the 30's are the new 20's."   I thought to myself bullshit and kill me now.  On my 30th birthday I sat and continuously cried, thinking it's all downhill from here. 

        From that moment I've repeatedly checked for crows feet, wrinkles, and grey hairs. I thought I found one the other day, but it was 1/2 blonde brown, and the last 1/2 black.  It made me happy it wasn't grey, but shows me God likes to keep messing with me. Lol. 
       Today I took a picture with my teenage daughter, side by side.  Looking at the picture I came to the conclusion age IS only a number.  I don't feel my age, I don't feel I look my age, and sometimes I don't even act my age (ie. still making Austin Power references in 2013).  
       I felt embarrassed earlier this week saying out loud how old I am, but I've lived and earned each year.  I've learned good and bad things from all of them; and whether I like it or not they are a part of me. 

        Here's to my number- 35, and to my daughter who helps me feel young in life.  She reminds me it's not the number that matters, but the memories within them. 

Audrey and I :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

DEC 13, 2013 - Our family Christmas tradition.

                               *Song of the Day: John Lennon- Happy Christmas

         Every year our family has only a couple Christmas traditions.  Our favorite is putting up the Christmas tree.  
      After a long day of crazy stressful shopping, insane holiday drivers, and my fair share of weirdos, it was nice to come home and do something calming and familiar.
       I also want to say thanks so much Aunt Barb and Grandma Conner for watching Jack today.  We're grateful and super appreciative. :)!
         This year the kids decided to put the tree up together.  We own few "important" ornaments that are toward the top, the others are kid friendly plastic craptastic bulbs. The three reasons for this, reason one Audrey, reason two Jack, and reason three... ME. Lol.

         Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not the most graceful, careful, or luckiest person, and unfortunately my apples haven't fallen far from the tree. However, my children did get my strikingly beautiful and seemingly ageless genes so it evens out (my current laughter is muffling the Pens game btw.) 
         Audrey showed Jack how to decorate the tree with patience and friendliness the entire time. I thought to myself, "Who is this girl, and where is my Audrey?" I then realized, she's growing up, and no longer my little girl.  

          Before me stands a beautiful, kind, sweet, big sister that I am so proud of there are no words.  As I start realizing time has passed me by, tears start to well up. 
        Earlier today I said I loathe Christmas this year. In a single moment with my children that changed, I changed. They constantly make me better without even knowing it. I sometimes don't even realize it until after thinking about it. 

        Thank you Audrey and Jack for my early Christmas present, it's priceless and perfect.  Marilyn Monroe always said, "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." 

                                                 Well not this girl, mine are my kids. 

Audrey (14) Jack (6)

Red Glow of Christmas Time

Thursday, December 12, 2013

DEC 12, 2013 - My very small "Strip" of Heaven....

     *Song of the Day: Beck- Golden Age

        In a city estimated to be occupied by over 306,211 in 2012, containing the world's record breaking number of bridges (446), and using 32 total zip codes; I find my peace of mind in one- 15222, the Strip District.  

       I try to go once to twice a week to clear my head of poisons and ugliness the world and myself, gladly and steadily provide.  Sometimes I go with a friend, sometimes with a camera, but always with music.  

        Today I was accompanied by some of my favorite albums: Castaways and Cutouts, Sea Change, and Closing Time.  I start by parking at PennMac (The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company) and work my way down the alley to Penn Ave.  There is an alley on the left that always has something new for me to look at, even though I've literally walked down it a hundred times now. 

        I love differences between materials; brick and metal, paint chipping and block peaking beneath, and wood cracking exposing different grains are just some examples.   Here are shots depicting that dichotomy I so love and look for.

           After passing the alley, on my right I come to my first favorite store, The Pittsburgh Popcorn Company.  They have a Twitter @PghPopcornCo and Facebook account.  The nameless faces that are always friendly, smiling, and patient start my day off right.  My usual purchase is 1 large Brown Butter Caramel (however you want to pronounce it) and 4 small Peanut Butter Cups. 
       Here are some pictures from the store which they allowed taken today.  This popcorn you see is totally going to be half gone tonight. :)

        Once I leave here, my next stop is ususally PennMac, but today I skipped it and just took some pictures along the way to my next stop.

                Next stop- Parma Sausage.  They have both Twitter @Parma_Sausage, and Facebook accounts.  Again, the nameless faces here have been nothing but courteous, attentive, and always kind when waiting on customers.   My usual order here is 2-3 lbs of their amazing breakfast sausage (1lb wrapped individually),  1 lb of delicious sliced pepperoni, and 1-2 pepperoni sticks.  

            They also have really nice t-shirts for men and women if you are having a hard Christmas gift to buy (sshhhh... I bought one for my daughter who will love it.)

            I then crossed over Penn toward Wholey's.  Here there is another alley that also has some great objects to shoot, so I did and headed to my next stop.


            My final stop of the day is Penzeys Spices, whose Twitter is @PenzeysSpices. I may literally own over half this store.  

           Today's purchase, a Kind Heart gift box for a belated birthday, and a new spice Annatto Seeds.  They also permitted me to take some photos in their store today, and their customer service is also remarkable.  

          In the past 6 years I've gone in here, not once have I never been greeted upon entry, asked several times if I needed help, and also exited with a warm smile and comment.  Here you'll find a truly great experience for both shopping and the soul.  

                               Even though it's only about 8 blocks in a city of hundreds, 
                                           This is my sanctuary, my "Strip" of Heaven.

                                                      I go here with my earbuds in,
                                                                   my music on,
                                                              my camera in hand,
                                                            and my mind at peace.