Monday, November 29, 2010

The Story of Andrew

It was our typical night getting home from a 4-day cation at his mom's house for Thanksgiving.  Our bellies full and car packed with goodies.  TL wanted to set the Christmas tree up before leaving for work the next morning, and I was eager to get the laundry started.

As we were setting the tree on it's stand and getting ready to rinse, the brand new hose holder snapped and started spraying water everywhere (including on us).  In fatigued frustration, TL threw the hose holder in the car and decided he was taking it back to OSH (at that very moment).

A bit frustrated myself, I stripped out of my wet jeans and started a load of laundry.  It was already so dark and our house was a mess.  It's been really cold in Northern California, so I turned on the fireplace.

TL was gone for a while.  OSH is only a freeway stop away - but I figured he had some issues with the return of the hose holder.

A few minutes later my phone rang.  OSH had taken back the hose holder and he had a new one.

So what took him so long?  "I picked up a kid," he said.

What do you mean you picked up a kid?

He was 19 - but didn't look a day over 15.  His name was Andrew.  Glasses, short & skinny, brown hair, pale skin.  He graduated from a local high school last year.  He was adopted & his father had recently had a massive stroke and was placed in a home.  His dad was all he had.  No other family - and now, no home.

He's been sleeping in his car and receiving some help from a local Church.  He's been applying for all types of jobs - even considering the military.

The home his dad was placed in will only let Andrew stay for a 2 day maximum per week.  That leaves 5 days of his old Explorer and occasionally the Church getting by as home.

So, when he asked the (somewhat) irritable TL if he had any work he needed to get done for some extra money - TL said no.  But, he took a moment to talk to him.

Andrew didn't ask for money - he asked for work to make some money... because he was hungry. Starving.

When TL said no about needing work but asked if there was anything he could do - Andrew politely asked if he had any extra snacks in his car.

Sigh.  Snacks.  Imagine working up the courage to ask a stranger for a snack.

So, TL opened the passenger door of our car and told Andrew to get in.  He turned on the heater full blast and took him to McDonalds.  Andrew said he would just love 2 cheeseburgers and a milkshake -  Andrew was radiantly appreciative.  TL supersized the entire meal and threw in a 50 dollar gift card to McDonalds.

Andrew fought back tears when TL handed him the gift card.  "Are you sure?".  "Yes."

They chatted on the drive back to the Church and TL said he inhaled the food.  He was starving. (breaks my heart).

Andrew was polite, overly appreciative, and extremely grateful.  If this was some kid playing a prank, TL said he should win an Academy Award.

After TL got home, we talked for an hour about Andrew.  Then, we got in our car and drove around for an hour looking for him near the Church.  (The Church doors were now locked with the lights on, so we hope they let him stay there for the night).  We found quite a few explorers, but he may have gone into a store to keep warm.

Although we didn't find him, we kept a new sheet set, a pillow, a blanket and a grocery bag of snacks and water in our trunk.  We're keeping an eye out for him.

Andrew provided a powerful reminder for us.  TL was at the right place, right time - and we are grateful for that. Andrew has made me look at things differently this year.

We're going out tonight to look for him again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Getting Our Christmas Tree

My mom and dad have been going to the same Christmas tree farm for 37 years to cut down a fresh tree.  My sisters and I have gone with them every year - and it is one of my favorite family traditions :)  As we have gotten older, our family has grown and it is such a blessing that we all get to spend time together.

There is nothing better than the smell of a fresh cut tree in your living room.  I have so many warm memories of growing up and spending time in our home with my mom's beautifully decorated tree.  It is such a special thing for me.  I love that TL and I have our own tree in our family room and it is a treat to spend time at my parents house with them and her famous decorating.  

Here are a few pictures from our adventure!
Ry-Guy - always happy!
 My amazing mom and me.  All bundled up!
 Bride & Groom to be!
Me and Mr. Ry Guy.  He's such a snuggle bun!
Ry-Guy and his best friend... Pops!
 My sister is a beautiful mom.  Aren't they cute!
 Kelly, J Lo, and Ry-Guy
TL cutting down our tree!
Kel, Juju, and me.  Sisters & Best Friends.
Like our matching hats? ;)
The whole gang.  Love them.
Me & TL.

I was bummed we couldn't bring Maximus & Zeus, but it was too cold for them.

In 37 years, this is the first time my parents have seen snow at the farm.  It was beautiful.

We are so grateful.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday week!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful (Thanksgiving) Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!
I can't believe another year has passed so quickly.
I'm so thankful everyday, but today especially :)

I'm thankful most of all for my family.  My sweet, crazy, adorable family.
Mom, dad, nephew, sisters, BILs, and TL.
Joe, TL, MIL, Dave.
My amazing guy & pups.  I'm so thankful I married him.

I'm thankful for my beautiful friends - near and far.
I'm thankful for my health (& health of fam & friends)
I'm thankful for our home.
I'm thankful for the incredible meal we are cooking right now.

I'm thankful because my mom & dad are with TL and I together with his family this year.  It's the best of both worlds... (minus my sisters & their families).  We are on the central coast - it's absolutely gorgeous!

I hope you have a fantastic day today.  
(I'm thankful to have met so many wonderful women through this blog.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A thankful morning at the food bank.

This morning - I dragged my bootie out of bed at 6 a.m. to volunteer at the food bank in my town.  I had no idea what an impact it would have on my day & my soul.  I have volunteered before - being a part of a sorority in college, we did our philanthropic events.... feeding the homeless, ect.

But this was different.

I am a member of the Jr League in my home town.  If you don't know what it is, it's a women's organization that focuses on enhancing the community through philanthropy, volunteering, and raising money.  It's also a place to meet inspiring women.  I heard about it originally from my cousin, Mackenzie, who is the president of her chapter.  Volunteering is quickly becoming a staple of importance in my life.  Not only because of what I do for others, but because of what it does to me.

Today, I met up with a big handful of these Jr League women and several volunteers in our area and we fed the hungry.

But not the "typical" hungry you would think. These are every day-working people.  People who have recently lost their jobs, hit an unforgiving life speed bump.  People who just want to feed their family for the holiday.  Many were embarrassed to be in line... but all of them were extremely appreciative. I had to fight back tears a few times when some of them looked at me and said "thank you so much, god bless."

More than 2,000 people were already in line when I showed up at 7 a.m.  The line wrapped around the block - and immediately after I stepped out of my car, I took a deep breath...

Wow, there are so many hungry people.

We didn't hand out hot food - we handed out boxed stuffing, mashed potatoes, canned vegetables, cranberry, and (most importantly) turkeys.  The food bank (along with Jr League women & volunteers) gathered 7,056 turkeys...  & today, we passed out half of them... the other half will be handed out on Wednesday.

I did my best to be positive with a cheerful "Happy Thanksgiving" with every bag of canned food I distributed.  I made eye contact with them.  I wanted them to feel the warmth I hold for them in my heart.

I wish everyone a fulfilling thanksgiving holiday with their family.

I am truly thankful.
The line wrapped around for blocks.
Some of the Jr League girls getting just before distribution.

These are all the fixings.
These are a lot of the turkeys - so generous of our community to donate.
Handed out 2,000 of these bags.

{{Thank you to my friend, Tuti, for taking all the pictures}}

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why do you blog?

I was having a discussion with a friend the other day - when I was asked 
why do you blog?
It's a question I have been asked a lot - and I don't have an exact single word answer - but rather an on-going discussion of why I do.
I learn so much from the blogs I read.  Creative home projects, recipes, and... lessons about life.  I have quite a few blogs that I read on a daily basis where, strangely enough, I feel like I know the woman writing it.  
They have made me cry, laugh out loud, and most of all relate.
And I know, I answered why I read blogs - but not why I blog.
Well, I blog because I enjoy writing.  I enjoy documenting specific events.  I enjoy the feedback I get from the people in this e-world who read and respond.  I enjoy sharing & communicating with people outside my realm of close friends.
I know my life is nothing more magical than the average human being.  I still haven't figured out why people read my blog - but all I know is when I hear from people around town, through facebook, and people I hardly know (in real life) that they read my blog... it makes me feel good.  Like, 'really, you find what I write to be even the slightest bit interesting... wow!'
For the most part, my blog is positive.  That's part of my nature - but also my choice.  I'm a 'half-full' type of girl - and I want my blog to represent that.  But when the hard times are here, it's always nice to have the comfort of the people in this blog world who always have the right words to comfort me.
I also try to be honest, with out revealing too much (it can be a scary world out there).

There are many reasons why I choose to write, respond, relate & connect with this blogging world.  And I am thankful that a college friend got me started with it.
What about you?
Why do you blog?
How did you get started?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A beautiful weekend in SF

TL and I are so fortunate that we get to spend so much time in San Francisco.  It's just a quick car ride away!

This last weekend, the weather was incredible.  80 degrees, sunny, beautiful.  

Friday, by the direction of some business people we met, we ate lunch at Trademark - which is on this tiny alley full of restaurants.  It reminded me of an alley you would see in Europe.  They had all different restaurants, and all different types of food.  Trademark is American cuisine, but at its best!  It was delicious.
Belden Alley - Trademark is a few of the awnings down.  (photo via)
We are definitely going back to that Alley next time we want a new place to eat!

For dinner, we ate with my MIL at XYZ, which is a hip little restaurant at the bottom of the W Hotel.  It was really good food, too.  Some of the best risotto I have ever had!
XYZ - it has a view of 3rd street, right next to the Metreon.  (photo via)

On Saturday, we did some exploring of Golden Gate Park.  TL hadn't really been there, and the handful of times I have been through college, I haven't done much walking around.  We (& the pups) walked for almost 2 hours and I was amazed at how lush and beautiful the grounds are.  There are some amazing museums there, as well.  We randomly ran into a few of my sorority sisters outside of one of the museums - so fun to see them!
TL walking with Maximus & Zeus - they went "off roading" so the pups could take care of business.
There is a lake in GGP and they have paddle boat & bike rentals.  We vowed to rent a paddle boat next time we go!
Cute log cabin nestled in the trees - and beautiful hydrangeas!  
This is that little lake - hard to see, but there were a ton of turtles sun bathing on one of the logs.
And, Sunday - we went to the Niner game with my dad and BIL, Joe.  It was an awesome game - Niners won in overtime against the Rams.  It was perfect weather, too, for a ball game - no jacket needed!

It was a really great weekend.
We are so lucky we have the opportunity to have these mini-vacations :)

Hope you're having a wonderful Tuesday!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The yellow rose

My fave flower is a yellow rose.
Something about their bright petals makes me feel happiness every time I look at them.
It's also a family favorite.
My mom loves yellow roses, too.  And her mom loved them as well.

At our wedding, we had yellow roses as the centerpieces and the bridesmaids carried bundles of them down the aisle.  (My m&d also had yellow roses at their wedding)

It was so special to me to have them as our theme - it made me think of my grandma (who I've never met) and her spirit was all around us.

TL will often surprise me with some (above), and I just love it when he does. :)

Do you have any big favorites?  
You know, the favorites that when people see it and you're not around - they probably think of you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Surprise, TL!

For TL's 30th... I decided to throw him a surprise party.  (Funny, because I mentioned what to do for him in a post and a few of you posted to do this for him!)  I'm far from a party planner.  I'm hardly a good hostess.  But, I decided to throw it at our new house anyways.  My dad and BIL, Matt, kept him busy all day doing construction stuff while a few helpers and I got things ready.  He was so surprised, I thought he may poop his pants ;)

It was fairly small (I wasn't sure how to make a guest list and keep it a secret - so I kept it small) and we were both so happy that his family was able to drive two hours to come.  (Cousins Steve & Mackenzie, his brothers - Joe & Dave, and his mom).  He was shocked and very touched!
The dessert table... funfetti cupcakes & brownies (both his favorite)
He was so excited to see his mom!
Not only did we surprise him - we completely scared him!
I stuck funny pictures of him and '30's into the cupcakes.
My team of party planners - BFF Jenny, Cuzo Greyson, and mom & sisters :)
Some of the gang waiting for him to walk in.
Sweet family who drove hours to be there
(Steve, Moms, Mackenzie, Joe, Dave)
He was all sweaty from doing construction work with my dad & BIL - after saying hello, he took a fast shower.  This was right when he arrived :)  I was so excited!
Some very intense games of 'beer pong' started!  (Spectators and players above)
Me & my favorite guy - Happy 30th, TL.
My mom and 2 of her 3 SILs - Matt helped distract him all day.

btw, see TL's shirt?  My aunt and uncle made it for him... it says "I'm 30... F*@% Ya!".  And on the back, it says - "I love my Aunt Paula & Uncle Steve".  Hilarious!

Here's a video of him walking in... it takes a few seconds to get to see him come in (they were getting beers in the garage), but it's worth the wait!
You can kind of see him go into our room, and my sister stops taping right when he came out.  His hands were full and he was so shocked.

It was fun to do something like this.  We had catered Mexican food (delicious) and drank wine and beer together late into the evening.  It was a wonderful celebration of a great guy.

Happy 30th Birthday, TL.
Love you so much.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My favorite season.

I love this time of year - the chilly weather, scarfs, dark nights, cooking, Christmas lights, and spending time with family - some of which I only get to see during the holidays.

I'm really thankful this year - for so many reasons.

As I get older, I find myself trying to take more and more moments to look around and appreciate everyone who loves, supports, and encourages me.  I'm thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends.

The years seem to get shorter and shorter as they go by - and I really don't want to take anything for granted.

I'm so excited for our family traditions, getting our Christmas tree, spending time with TL's & my family and just enjoying life.

What are your favorite things about this time of year? 

For me:  it's the weather, ornaments, the 100+ year old angel at the top of my parents tree, lights, scarfs, bows, rain boots, decorations, good food, leftovers, and just the feeling of the holidays.

I hope you've had a good start to your week!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Giants... 2010 World Champs.

TL is a big sports guy.  He loves 'em all - especially football and baseball!  As the Giants approached the Post Season this year, he started going to more games... and started chaining me along with the spirit of the orange & black :)  It was such a wonderful few weeks watching them win and make it all the way through to the World Series.  We had plans to attend games 6 or 7 if they came back to SF, but they ended up winning in Texas.  So, we headed over to SF for the victory parade... wow!  It was packed full of people, spirit, and excitement.  Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

I've been to my fair share of SF parades and festivals... but never have I seen the streets so crowded with people.  It was estimated one MILLION people came out for the parade.  Incredible.  I'm not usually a huge fan of being packed like a sardine in a group of people, but this was an exception.  During the parade, TL lifted me up so I could see the players ride by on their trolly cars.  It was SO cool :)  

Thousands of pounds of confetti was thrown off the top of the buildings... it littered the streets like a snow storm!
It was a sea of orange & black!  This is 2 hours before the parade even started.
I love this guy... we had so much fun together! 
Even the SFPD horses had Giants hats on... this is a side picture!  (So cute)
It was SO loud... it gave me goosebumps.  (Turn down your volume)

These pictures don't do it justice... there were hundreds of people lined up behind us.  It was nuts!

The parade really renewed my spirit for the city.  It was really cool to experience with TL and something we will never forget! :)


Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm back!

My goodness, the mailman took forever to deliver my new computer (love it) and I have been going crazy... I knew I loved technology, but I didn't think I would miss it so much ;)

So much has happened with us all - Halloween, the start of a new month!  Christmas is readily approaching and I couldn't be more excited.  We celebrated my mom's birthday, TL's birthday (surprise party), and my friend Michelle's birthday.  It was a fun few weeks.  Not to mention, the Giants won the World Series... more on that later!

I don't have a ton of pictures yet from TL's party, but I have to share a few of the pics from celebrating Chelle's bday!

We started out the weekend in her hometown - we all met up, drank champaigne, and talked in our hotel room... so wonderful to catch up.
Then we headed over to San Francisco to celebrate the weekend in the City where we all met!
Birthday girl Michelle dressed in white in the middle.
The girls... we all met up in the lobby for drinks.
The St. Regis arranged a Bentley to pick us up and take us to dinner... very fancy!  (and complimentary!)
 Dinner at Osha Thai.  Delicious & festive!
 More drinks and dancing the night away.
I love this girl.
I have beautiful friends :)

Can't wait to catch up with my favorite blogs.  Also, congratulations to my blog buddy, Jen, she just recently announced that she is pregnant.  She and I got married on the same day, so we've always had a special connection!  Congrats, Jen.. can't wait to read about your journey!

Happy Friday!