Baby Love: Emma May

10502063_10153883799908363_5996945672507358323_nTwo and a half days later yet nearly 3 weeks early, Emma May Fast entered the world and changed the lives of more than she’ll ever know. On Saturday, February 20th at 2:15 in the afternoon I became an auntie for both the 1st time and the 4th time. I’ve been an aunt for over 7 years to three wonderful children on Channing’s side of the family and I love them just as much as ever. But when my Little Logan Sunshine of a brother became a daddy for the first time, I knew the world would never be the same.

12742324_10153883799993363_5634277584651143841_nEntering the ring at 7 pounds, 3 ounces and 19 ½ inches tall; this little southern bell namesake of a girl warmed so many hearts. I don’t even know how to explain all the feels I’d felt since hearing that they were pregnant to thinking about their future to the birth of their little girl.

As soon as she entered the world, all my fears and reservations vanished momentarily because I knew that everything was going to be okay. Logan is turning out to be such a stand-up man and he’s going to be a phenomenal father. He’s going to do whatever he needs to do to make sure that life is good for his little family and I couldn’t be more proud to be his sister.

The Day You Were Born

12717406_10153883800223363_3671269714107456680_nI had drove home on Thursday after work because you were supposed to enter this world that day little girl. But of course, you didn’t. You must get your stubbornness from your mom or auntie. I had to go back to work on Saturday morning and you still weren’t here but that’s okay. You must have needed to cook for a little longer. I got a text from your grandma Julie telling us that your mom was dilated to 8 or 9. I can’t remember now. At that very second, my boss was standing next to me and told me to “go!” I couldn’t believe it. I cried for some reason on my way to my apartment to pick up your uncle Channing (Well officially he’s my boyfriend at this point in time but I’m calling him your uncle.) I don’t know if I was happy or sad, probably scared of all the unknowns. You were early and your parents were young and my brother was being strong, too strong. Your mom wasn’t showing how much pain she was in last time I saw her and I’d never had a baby so I have no idea what she could possibly be going through. But I was elated at the very same time.

12715376_10153883799838363_3626927763486935881_nYou’ll soon find out that you were the first on all sides. You’re the first grandbaby, niece, girl. Just like me!

You were born at 2:15 PM. At 2:15 PM, I was on I29 between Halstad and Hillsboro. I wonder if I’ll remember that 20 years from now. I hope so. We’re supposed to remember where we were when 9/11 happened so why is this life changing moment any different?

At that moment, you were born. My brother and his fiance became parents. My parents were now grandparents and grandparents were now great-grandparents. I feel like I’m seeing and realizing all of this stuff for the first time like I had no concept of it before. It’s weird.

12744170_10153883799763363_2473925917232538382_nI hope your great-grandparents live just as long and hopefully longer then mine did. It’s something I’ll always cherish. I remember my great-grandma (your great-great-grandma) Aggie’s house still like the back of my hand. I remember her buttered saltine crackers and her “funny” accent and her laugh. I remember my great-grandma (your great-great-grandma) Elsie’s letters and doilies. I remember her heart and her stories.

Anyway, we finally got to the hospital around 4 PM and only had to wait a few minutes with your grandma Julie before your dad came out. I lost it. It’s so hard to wrap my head around the fact that my baby brother is now a daddy. I know I keep repeating myself but I don’t know how else to explain it. Nothing in his life will ever be the same. His entire world has literally changed. For the better. Everything about this story, about you, is good. There will be times of doubt and uncertainty, times of turmoil and arguments will arise but good will always prevail. I believe that and I hope you do too.

12745791_10153883800053363_3916493355841250004_nChildren learn more from what you are than what you teach. -W.E.B. Du Bois

Well, I suppose we’re nearing the end of this post. There are so many things I can’t wait to tell you about life and about your parents. I can’t wait to watch you grow, explore, and hear you laugh. I hope that you do everything you ever dream of doing, make friends, be kind and think for yourself. You’re already so awesome.

Love, your favorite auntie, Ori.

The Other Victims

Is it wrong that I feel worse for the Schumacher family then I do for the officer killed in the line of duty and his family? I guess, I don’t mean that I feel worse for but I feel equally as bad for? I don’t think that the officer, his family, department, and community somehow have more grief than the Schumacher’s do.

Don’t get me wrong, the entire situation is heartbreaking and I don’t mean any disrespect by saying that but think about it.. From the little the public knows, the Schumacher family (children and wife) have been victimized for years not just on this one occasion when the police were called. They’d been living with “this” for years. I guarantee you hearts were broken over and over and over for years. This whole thing is just as debilitating for them as it is for anyone else.

The little that we do know is that the shooter has a history of violence and that is only what is public record. Speaking from experiences in and around my life, I can very accurately say that every “instance” is not reported to the officials. If it would have been, this situation may have turned out totally differently but that doesn’t mean that someone’s life wouldn’t have been lost. Maybe not last week but maybe it would have been years prior after a few stints in jail and a few more reasons to be angry at the world.

I don’t know what stirred up the events that happened that night and I doubt anyone really will but I’ve been thinking a lot about the family that he left behind. I couldn’t imagine the mix of emotions that they’re facing. Not only did they lose someone that they probably loved beyond words but they are also going to have people looking at them for as long as they reside in this community.

Just because someone is a bad person or does a bad thing or makes a bad choice or kills an officer does NOT mean that the family and loved ones are the same as that person. Often the opposite is true. It is nearly impossible to help someone that doesn’t want to be helped. And sometimes it’s just as confusing for the loved ones as it is for the person themselves. Some days, weeks, months are great and then some days, weeks, months are horrible. It’s a teeter totter of emotion time and time again.

I’m very relieved to hear that there seems to be more positive community response then negative towards the family of the the deceased. I think that there is some kind of looming black hole for people to open their eyes wider than just the police officer that died rather than the whole picture. Officer Moszer wasn’t the only victim that night.

There have been a handful of funds and donations areas set up for the Schumacher family. For an updated news article and information on donating to the Schumacher family, click here.

I want to mention for anyone reading this, I don’t know the family and I don’t even know what happened that night but neither do you. He may have been ill, he may not have been. He may have had a bad day at work or he may have almost gotten hit by oncoming traffic. Anything can set a person off and events can escalate quicker than we are capable of figuring out a resolution.

Prayers and healing thoughts sent to both the Schumacher and Moszer families.

Happy 4th of July!

10985043_10153395171998363_4414178062167023536_nAll in all, this year’s 4thof July was pretty “decent” as quoted by Bubbles of Trailer Park Boys. We ventured up north (way north) to Warroad, MN. Historically, Warroad on the 4th of July, is one of my favorite places to be. From when I was a kid chasing candy thrown from the parade to family reunions to the best of memories with friends and loved ones, it’s a place of nostalgia and goodness.

11169475_10153395153128363_6627320951989960699_nThis year, we took part in the Foster Family Reunion and camped out in our tent. I’ve decided that I feel indifferent about reunions. I am kind of excited for them – to see people that I know I’m related to and kind of know about but never see. But at the same time, I’m like “eh” because I usually end up talking to the people that I normally see like my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma.

I know it probably sounds anti-social but I really have no desire to initiate in small talk or catch up with extended family because we don’t really know each other and probably won’t stay in touch any more than some kid I went to school with that I haven’t seen since graduation day. Apparently, I inherited my mom’s observational gene rather than my aunt Angie’s social butterfly personality.

It was still alright though. I had fun spending time with my cousins and got some much needed vitamin D. We were rained out on Saturday night though so my hope of a relaxing firework show wasn’t in the cards. We packed up our tent as quick as we could and headed over to my grandma’s house (with 16 of my beloved relatives) and waited out the storm. Happy (belated) 4th of July!

P.S. I designed the Foster Family Reunion t-shirts on CustomInk.com. They have awesome customer service and an easy to navigate website. I will definitely order from them again. The only thing I was bummed out on (because I’m a perfectionist) was that the larger the size, the graphic size stayed the same. I think the graphic could have been a little larger on some of the bigger sizes.

House Hunting Happenings

Sorry that I’ve been a little MIA lately. I have a few posts that I have sitting in my drafts waiting for me to finish. They are the type that I feel need time and effort put into them and I just haven’t had that laying around lately!

We’ve started looking at houses in the Bemidji area. It’s not an easy task, I can tell you that much. I don’t know if we’ll ever feel that we have all the information that we need to own a house. It’s like this whole world of grown-up-ness that you have to jump into without knowing how to swim.

Millions of people do it, I’m sure we can handle it. It’s scary though; mortgage, escrow, down payment, house inspector, wood stove….the list goes on. My dad thinks I’m too picky, he’s probably right. For the first few weeks, if I saw a baseboard heating register or a wood stove – NEXT! And for (in my opinion) completely sane reasons. First, I do NOT want any critters, rodents, or snakes for heavens sake to come through a register. (Yes, it’s happened and yes to me.) And second, I’ll probably somehow blow my house up or set it on fire if I have to rely on an actual fire in my house. Thanks for that, mom.

I’m trying to keep an open mind though. I know that with regular maintenance and actually taking care of and knowing the house that you live in, horrible circumstances should be far and few in between. Channing and I are ready to own a home though. Apartment living got old the second we signed our first lease years ago. No privacy, no creativity. I’m tired of white walls and not being able to have a pet or a yard to lounge around in. I want something to call my own and I can “screw it up” any way that I want!

We’ve looked at a few the last couple weeks and they’ve been alright but nothing that makes us want to jump on it right away. We have time though. Our lease isn’t up until the end of October so if all goes according to plan we can figure something out by that time. Hopefully not too much sooner because we (being unestablished beings) couldn’t possibly afford a mortgage payment and rent. Right?

I downloaded a few realtor apps including one called Zillow. Whenever there is a new listing, I get a notification. 21st inventions are cool. Am I right? Anyway, check out this link and let me know what you think. When I saw it, I was like “perfect!” It was one of those “this is it” moments. We’ll be looking at it tomorrow and sometimes photos are deceiving but based on the provided information, it’s the closest to what we’re looking for in comparison to others we’ve researched that are in our budget.

Stay tuned..

Family Tree Recipes

I had a total genius lightbulb moment this week and just have to share:

At every family gathering and even social event – food has mastered its way to be the staple that holds the paper of a family together in some crazy, weird way. Although FOOD is at times (actually all the time) my own worst enemy, I can’t deny its importance in my family and extended gems. I’ve decided that it’s the perfect time to compile a master “Family Tree Recipes” book.

I already have a handful of the staples including Gramma Aggie Bars, Grandma Rita’s Fudge Frosting and famous Foster Family Potato Salad but I’m missing a lot of our other family favorites. Dumplings, lefse, or the 300 variations of chili for example. I’m sure there are even some that I don’t know the names of or haven’t had for years. Maybe they haven’t even been made during my lifetime but were a favorite of my grandpas that I don’t know about.

I enlisted the help of my family and extended family through the use of a Facebook group. Unfortunately, it seems that no one either wants to participate or thinks it’s a spam group. Probably because it’s such a great idea. I have a feeling this is going to be something that I will be pursing on my own. Probably with the help of my mom (Who is always there for me and my great ideas, thanks mom!)

Capture

I want to include everything too! From how to make a proper BBQ sandwich to buttering your saltine crackers! I’m hoping that I’ll have a rather even amount from both sides of the family but I kind of think that my moms side cooks more than my dads side. We’ll soon find out I guess!

I have a few ideas bubbling up in my brain that I’m going to list below so I don’t forget them because no one seems to have a pen and paper handy these days. I’m very excited about this and really think that it’s something that can be successful. I’d primarily be doing this for myself and my family because I firmly believe in family traditions and history. I’m very fortunate to have grandparents on both sides still alive but the days go quicker and quicker and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to pass on a family legacy of good food.

The best part about this is that I’ll be able to travel to and contact relatives that I don’t get to see very often. Along the way, I’ll not only get to catch up with people I miss but I’ll be able to document a piece of my family that is often lost through the generations. My ultimate plan would be to publish the collection for the world to use because I don’t really think “family secrets” are necessary. We’re taught to share from a young age so we might as well stick to that right?

If you have any ideas for the success of this publication, let me know. I have a handful of contacts that could help me put this together once I have all the copy. Graphic designers, publishers, and editors are among a few.

Running List of Ideas:
Name of the book: “Family Tree Recipes” (provided that it’s not already trademarked)
Each page has a recipe (not multiple recipes)
Every recipe has a photo (which means I’ll be making EVERY SINGLE RECIPE!)
Signature names (EX: Gramma Aggie Bars)
Short stories to go with some of the legendary recipes
Pictures and names of the relatives who we grew up assuming “created” some recipies
I want this to be both a “family tree” and a cookbook – best of both worlds
Full color & glossy
Rating system (leaves not stars)
Small spot for notes on each recipe page

12th Day Of Christmas: The Donarski Clan

20141225_104706Today was Christmas Day – the 12th day of Christmas according to my blog. We stayed at my parents last night, watched The Interview via YouTube and my mom and I wrote a poem. Christmas morning was grand. Santa came with gifts which was a delightful surprise because we thought Christmas was over and done with on my side of the family and we decided to stay overnight just the day before. Santa’s definitely on top of his game this year.

Dad made breakfast. I ordered his classic fried egg sandwich. We were low on bread so he substituted a bagel. Delish! I don’t really do breakfast but I just can’t pass up my dad’s early morning cooking.

Early afternoon we headed over to Channing’s parents house. Soon after, his sisters and their kids came. Channing has two nieces and a nephew. They’re the light of the family. There is just something about kids that makes the world keep spinning and helps all your worries fade away.

Dinner was at 5ish followed by a couple drinks. Channing’s dad makes the best mashed potatoes around. I’m a total starch junkie so anything potato I always enjoy but something about these potatoes makes them my favorite.

Next up was gift time! It’s always so nice to have everyone together and watch the kids open their presents. Jayde is a veteran, she’s been doing this for years. She’s growing into such a young woman that it’s crazy. I came into her life just after she turned 5 years old and now she’s 11 going on 30! Make-up, purses, fashion, perfume!

Duane is at that age where when he knows there’s something for him, he wants it now! And it better be Thomas! He got Thomas all right. It was a healthy mix between Thomas gear and Cars fandom. He loved it!

And lastly there is Evy, oh little Evy. It was her very first Christmas. They put her down for a nap shortly before the gift opening but somehow, some way she knew it was Christmas and woke up just in time for the action. Her mom and dad opened her gifts. She’ll be good on books and toys for awhile that’s for sure!

After a game and a little more visiting we decided to part ways and head home. Thankfully the roads were clear. We avoided any forecasted snow so that’s always a plus. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or any other holiday you may celebrate) season!! If you’re not home yet, drive safe. When saying your goodbyes, hug a little tighter and don’t forget to say thank you for everything! Often times the hosts, cooks, and Santa’s don’t get the appropriate recognition.

Merry Christmas to all and all a good night!

 

 

11th Day Of Christmas: ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.
But yet I heard a knock at the door..
Who could it be, a delivery for me!?
I went to see but whoever was there,
was there no more.
Was it a sound in my head
or just a spirit in the air;
something telling me it’s time to prepare.
As the man in the family had to work half a day,
I decided there was no time to play.
My crock pot was lined and ready for use.
I pulled out the carrots, potatoes, and moose.
(Just kidding it was a roast.)
As the roast was cooking and made the room warm,
what better to do than pick up my dorm?
I did the dishes and made the bed,
took the garbage out and was ready to be fed.
Dinner was served and deserved.
The leftovers preserved..
We exchanged gifts full of if’s and thrifts.
Next up was a safe travel from here to there.
Munchies were bought and lottery tickets were a thought.
I had to buy them even though not everyone wins.
For even a dollar would secure me a new set of bobby pins.
We visited Ashley and surly but not lastly
watched the end of Home Alone which was very catchy.
Christmas Vacation was up next..
but I got a text.
Dad had made Gramma Aggie bars;
they’re a family favorite of ours.
From there to here after a quick drive,
to mom and dads house we did arrive.
Thanks to Sony and Un’s bogus phony bologna,
we finally watched The Interview
and then mom and I wrote this rhyme for you.
For now ’twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
not a kitty was stirring;
for purring they were with such delight
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

Written by Orianah Fast & Julie Fast

10th Day Of Christmas: Traditions

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about family traditions centered around the holidays. Now that all three of us kids are grown, we’re kind of at that in between stage where a lot of our childhood, as a family, traditions have fallen by the wayside. None of us are yet married or have had children. We’re not quite….you know, established.

This, of course, got me to think about Channing and our future. Our future children, our lives, our pets, our home. I decided to start a running list of family traditions I’d like my future (and current) family to adopt. The below traditions come from various sources. Some may have been from my own childhood memories, TV shows and movies, or just things I never have done and always wanted to do. They are in no particular order of importance but I thought it’d be a fun thing to start and have as a reference down the line.

  • Dinner Wear: At the dinner table whether it be our immediate family or extended, everyone will have a special something to wear during dinner placed on their plates. It might be a nice pair of earrings, reindeer antlers, or light up glasses. Who knows. Whatever it is, it’ll be a fun and not so “stuffy” Christmas dinner.
  • ‘Tis The Night Before Christmas Box: My dad always tried to have us open our Christmas gifts on Christmas Day but every year, it seemed like we opened a lot of them on Christmas Eve (if not earlier) and then Santa’s gifts on Christmas Day. I’d like to go back to the traditional Christmas Day gift opening. However, I think it would be a memorable tradition to let everyone open a “‘Tis The Night Before Christmas Box.” Inside it would include a similar arrangement of Christmas Eve goodies each year. A new pair of jammies, slippers, a Christmas mug, hot chocolate (and marshmallows of course!), and maybe a Christmas surprise like a movie or family game.
  • Trim The Tree: I know it sounds cliche and actually most of these probably do but I want my family to trim the tree together. Anyone who’s anyone knows that decorating for Christmas can be both fun and exhausting so why not create as much joy as possible? I don’t care who helps or how it’s done but as long as our family can decorate our tree together, I’ll be happy.
  • Christmas Classics: There are too many Christmas shows and movies to name when it comes to squeezing them all in during the holiday season. A few of my favorites and some that I actually have not seen yet must make the list each year at some point between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I’ve listed a few: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, Frosty The Snowman, It’s A Wonderful Life, Scrooge… There are so many I can’t even remember but you get the idea.
  • Skating: This is more of a winter thing and actually Channing has yet to learn how to skate but I would like to, as a family, go on a skating outing each holiday season. Maybe it’s the Lifetime movies talking but something about skating makes Christmas seem so much more magical.
  • Christmas Lights: Drive around and look at Christmas lights around the area. I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to decorate the outside of my house as wonderful as some do so why not make it a tradition to admire someone else’s handy work?
  • Music: I love Christmas music. When I was in high school and worked at K-Mart, I would have told you a different story but now that I’m in the real grown up life of a world, Christmas music is so refreshing and comforting. It reminds me of so many things from Christmas mass to Grandmas Rita’s house.
  • And that brings me to…Midnight Mass: This one is still up in the air. I was raised Catholic and still value much of what I was taught. Being raised with religion as background noise gave me a solid moral compass and I am forever grateful. However, since being confirmed in 11th grade and going out into the world, organized religion has been put on the back-burner. Although the memories that I had were ones of great importance and the traditions my faith stood by mean a lot to me – there is far more that is hard to understand and accept. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit but I don’t believe that God discriminates. I won’t go further on that topic at the moment but I often wonder if I can raise my children to have a spiritual connection with God (or whoever) by not bringing them up in church. Midnight Mass was the highlight of my Christmas season when I was younger. The smells, the music, the ambiance. It was magic. Or maybe it was just the beauty of the Warroad church and it was way past my bedtime. Who knows.

This post is getting awfully lengthy. There are many more traditions I’m sure I’ve left out. I plan to send out Christmas cards every year, teach my children the importance of giving rather than receiving, and to binge watch Lifetime movies. I plan to show up and embarrass them at their Christmas school concerts and build snowmen and women outside. I plan to take a yearly trip to the Bunny Hill in Warroad and to visit family no matter how far.

If you have any fun or memorable family traditions, I’d love to hear about them!! And Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

9th Day Of Christmas: Baby’s 1st Christmas

Channing’s sister Savanna and her husband Louie welcomed a new baby girl into the family this past October. She’s such a tiny little sweetheart and she’s already brought a lot of joy into the world in the few short months we’ve known her!

Last night, Channing and I stopped over at their house to give them baby Evy’s first Christmas ornament. I searched high and low to find something that would be just perfect. Believe it or not, it’s not that easy to find a nice “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament around here that will last for years and years.

IMG_7976I happened to be in Grand Forks a couple weeks ago and stopped at Hallmark (praise the Lord!) and they had a pretty decent selection of 1st Christmas ornaments. I know that Savanna loves to read to Evy so I decided to get the one you see to the right. Luckily, I was able to find the matching book in town at Target too; “On the Night You Were Born.”

I had to read the book before I gave it to them. It made me a little teary-eyed reading it and thinking about when Channing and I decide to have kids and how life as we know it will change, how we will feel. How Savanna and Louie must have felt once Evy was born. How our parents felt and how their parents felt. Babies…children; they really are little miracles and once they step foot into our world, life never is the same.

“On the night you were born, the moon shone with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’ Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world.” ~Nancy Tillman (On the Night You Were Born)

If you’d like to purchase this book or ornament for a new baby in your family or just because, both can be found on amazon.com.

7th Day Of Christmas: St. Nick’s

‘Tis the day after the Fast Family Christmas. I’m a little behind (late) with writing yesterday and today’s blog because we’ve been spending time with family and traveling. It’s okay though, I’m sure the faithful three people who read this will understand.

Crouching Nick + Katie

Crouching Nick + Katie

Yesterday my brother Nick and his girlfriend Katie hosted Christmas for the first time. It was an eventful trip up there. Our GPS took us on a pretty slippery yet scenic route. But we couldn’t get there before I got a bloody nose mid-drive and on the interstate. Talk about multi-tasking. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Nick and Katie made ham and mashed potatoes (two of my favorites) along with some chicken and lefse. My mom brought a cheese ball and crackers and we had an arrangement of different desserts including my grandmas family-famous fudge.

Logan + A Little Bit Of Tania

Logan + A Bit Of Tania

We visited, ate dinner, opened gifts, and played a couple games. Overall, we had a pretty good time. It’s really nice to be able to have everyone under one roof which sadly doesn’t happen often anymore because we’re all growing up and spreading our wings.

My favorite part of the afternoon and early evening was watching It’s A Wonderful Life headlining Jimmy Stewart. My family insists I have (but I haven’t) seen the movie; until last night. I guess if I have, my memory is just about as bad as my dads – who, by the way, doesn’t remember going to the movie Click featuring Adam Sandler or RV starring the late Robin Williams. We went to both of those films as a family!

My brother had the colorized version of IAWL. I was only half paying attention at first but towards the middle, the movie pulled me in. It was a great movie and Channing and I are planning on watching it again this week before the end of the Christmas season.

Dad + Grandma Rita

Dad + Grandma Rita

I really wish we could all be a little closer. It seems that as we grow older life moves faster. Time slips away and pretty soon you don’t quite know who is who anymore. I love my family more than anything else in the world but each time I visit with my brothers, I get a feeling that I don’t like. An awareness that makes me feel like I don’t know them like I should. We’re still very close but nowhere near as close as we were just two or three years ago seeing each other every single day.

Reflecting on our drive home this afternoon it makes me want to appreciate moments like Christmas even more than usual. I chose to let a couple small things irritate me this weekend not only at family gatherings but in regular, everyday life and I need to quit that. It’s a waste of time to get bothered by little things. I’ll still do it, probably for the rest of my life just because that’s who I am but I don’t need to let it alter my mood or attitude.

My Beautiful Mom

My Beautiful Mom

This morning my parents took Channing, Nick, and myself out to breakfast. It was a nice send off before we parted ways. I know I’ll see my mom in the next month or so but I don’t know when I’ll see Nick or Logan next. Thinking about this, it circles back to a previous post I wrote about a year or so ago – holding onto the past. I sometimes catch myself living in the past thinking that the past was so much better or so much easier then it is now. Friendships, relationships, sibling-hood, everything. Everything was so much better but life happens. We have to deal with it and evolve. Evolve into an even better past than what we thought was already the best past.

20141220_110004_10

Channing + Me

With that being said, thanks to Nick and Katie for hosting Christmas. To Grandma Rita for coming to Christmas and brining your legendary fudge. To mom and dad for breakfast, the gifts, and the unconditional love. To Logan and Tania for visiting and making me laugh. And to Channing, for getting creative when my face was gushing blood. Merry Christmas to us. I hope that whatever happens and wherever we go in the year 20-15, that we’ll always have each other and never to forget to share our best memories with each other always. ❤

 

Ciao.

IMG_7036This weekend was full of fun. I will try to spare you on all the rambling on details but it was nice to do something out of the norm. Not that my weekends have been “normal” or anything. I am pretty aware of the fact that I live a “dull life” in comparison to many of the people that I interact with on a daily basis. I’ve actually been busier than I’m used to over the last few weeks though. But if you’ve been keeping up with my blog or twitter feed, you already knew that.

We had a nice yet unexpected dinner with my aunt on Friday evening. And we also went to visit my SO’s niece and nephew which was a blast because they are both at such fun ages. I remember growing up and my Uncle Troy seemed to be always present in my younger childhood days. Moments with him were some of my favorite growing up.

We haven’t always had the opportunity to connect with our niece and nephew as often as we’d like to have in the past but are making a great effort to do so as much as we can presently. It’s a good feeling.

Bw-obAeCcAErsTdSaturday was full of JC, shopping, a baby shower for Channing’s sister and some good ol’ quality visiting time with my mom. When days are jam packed with thing after thing after thing, it seems that there are never enough seconds in the day. I loved every bit of the weekend but I wish that I could have spent more time doing each thing because it seems like an hour only last 20 minutes these days.

Oh, and my mom, brother, and I went to get our hair done at my aunts salon in Halstad. (This is a different aunt from my Friday venture.) I wish I had a picture of my moms new do as well because she looks great!

Does time go faster than it should? I began to notice that each day seemed to go a little faster when I was in 4th grade. I don’t know what the particular event was but I know that I was at school and I all of a sudden felt like the day zoomed by. Around that time, I must have become more concussions of the measure of time.

As I’m proofreading this post, it’s kind of silly I guess. To lay out what I did on my weekend. It’s actually kind of boring. I just felt like writing and really don’t have anything specific to write about.

Actually, I do have a couple things to write about but I’m working through how to construct the posts. I have some blurbs of thoughts down but nowhere to go with them. We’ll see what happens. Ciao.

Christmas In July.

10488215_10152518733063363_7056823897675192397_nI wanted to post some of my favorite pictures from the holiday weekend. Or, week I should say. The last Sunday in June through July 3rd, we stayed at a quaint little Catholic bible resort through the Diocese of Crookston. I’m assuming the Diocese has camps for kids that run throughout the summer based off of all the hand-written and carved names in the lodge. But for this 4-day getaway, it was reserved for our extended family only. No one else.

10442440_10152518723093363_715589565184503715_nUnfortunately the first two days were filled with chilly off and on rainy weather. It definitely got everyone’s spirits down because for most of us, it’s the only time that we’ll get a vacation in the calendar year. I’d like to say that we made the most of it, which we did, but we definitely got restless watching the white caps form on the little lake knowing that it was too rough for canoes and too cold to swim.
10446556_10152518802578363_3928342290805872018_nWednesday came as soon as it could. The weather let up and the real fun began! Fishing, swimming, driving a boat for the first time, finding out that I possess zero sense of balance in a canoe, laughing, scavenger hunts, s’mores…the list goes on.

Thursday we packed up and headed down the twisty road to Lake Itasca. We mosied our way through the biggest state park that I’ve ever been to. Checked out the beach, visited a pioneer cemetery and crossed the Mississippi Headwaters. It was really beautiful and peaceful.

10400844_10152518740063363_8975642485060600810_nFriday we traveled a bit further to Bemidji to see C’s sisters and nephew. The town had a carnival going on for the 4th of July. I can definitely tell that I’ve grown up and slightly outgrown the fair scene. I still like it. I love hearing the kids laughing and the rides spinning. I still laugh when the carny’s attempt to sweet talk you into playing a game. But man oh man, I don’t miss the crowd. I don’t miss the push and shove and the nasty looks if you’re in the way. When we were younger we must have been too excited to notice the amount of people crowded into such a small dirty area.

10418425_10152518751188363_6484200687791014883_nSeeing C’s nephew was an absolute delight. He’s 3 1/2 now and hilarious as can be. We watched the fireworks right on shore of Lake Bemidji. They were beautiful and he loved the heck out of them!

I won’t bore you with much more. I kind of just wanted to mention the highlights of our trip because memories so quickly become forgotten. I hope you had a happy 4th with friends and family.

Follow me on Vine to see a few 6-second videos from our trip @orianoelle!

What Do You Do When Dreams Don’t Come True?

When is everything going to seem real? I’ve dreamt about getting married and starting a family of my own for as long as I can remember but it hasn’t happened to me yet. Everyone around me, old classmates, extended family, ect. – They are making and starting their own personal, self-contained lives. Starting futures with each other, raising babies, graduating with their masters degrees. But not me.

It’s funny because even though I “want” it so bad it seems like there’s a reason that my turn per se, hasn’t come around on the merry go round of life. It’s weird. I want to be a wife but what does a wife do that I don’t already do? I want to be a mom but I can’t picture a baby in my tummy or arms yet. I want to own a beautiful house with a giant yard and a big shaggy dog but I don’t see that dream as a reality financially. It’s like my dream life is just that; a dream. As if there’s no possibility of it being real because I can’t “feel” it happening.

When everyone else around me is planning their weddings, bachelorette parties, baby showers, and Caribbean cruises; I wonder what they are feeling. Do they feel like it isn’t real? Or was it just on their docket of life goals and they are checking them off?

In turn, I’ve also heard my whole life that..as much as you absolutely “want” something, it’ll never happen until you stop focusing on it. A woman wanting a baby, doesn’t get pregnant. It causes martial problems or divorce. She starts a new fresh life in a new city. She focuses on herself. She’s happy with the cards that she was dealt but then gets knocked up after a one night stand. And that once desired life dream is now an “oopsie.”

Obviously, that’s a drastic example but that’s how it feels to me. The people that I used to know or have many memories with lead totally different lives today. And although I have a wonderful job, loving boyfriend, and a semi-decent bank account – it still feels like I’m living the same life I was 10 years ago.

I’m nowhere near owning a house, let alone knowing which area I want to raise my future family in. The marriage wheel has been on a plateau for years and even though I want to go back to school, what the hell would I go for so that it financially pays off? That white-picket fence and children laughing while running through the sprinkler truly does feel like a dream. Just a dream.

So let me ask you, life-livers: When the big life moments do happen, does it feel real? Was your wedding the most special day of your life pre-children? Do you second guess the money it is going to cost you when you vacation out of country? Have you ever felt truly stuck or does life just magically happen to you?

Or am I the ugly duckling here? It’s as if I’m standing still, I’m the core. While the rest of the world is moving and evolving around me a million miles a minute.

#GTCIGT

The weekend has come to a close once again. I’ve noticed that it happens every five days or so. I live in what I like to call the “normal working world.” I work Monday through Friday, 8-5. Whenever someone asks me if I work tomorrow, meaning Monday, I feel like bonking them on the head with a mallet. Of course I work on Monday. Normal people work on Monday. I often think that people who don’t work the “norm” are either teenagers, night owls, or college kids. There are always exceptions. Nurses, doctors, lawyers; they all seem to have wacky hours but I’m assuming they went into those professions fully aware of what they were getting themselves into.

IMG_5285Anyways, before my “normal” period of time off otherwise known as a weekend ended, it was great. Saturday, I did some spring cleaning. I was going to say “sprung clung” but I have a feeling that one can’t past tense the word ‘spring’ and make a new word for ‘clean’ because cleaned didn’t sound right.

I also [a week and a half later] started on my meal board. I have to say, it looks fabulous so far. I am actually making two simultaneously so that I can sell the other when done. I am at a temporary standstill because I need to run to the store after work and get a few more supplies to finish the boards up. I’ll keep you updated and I plan on posting a step-by-step tutorial for everyone to follow and make their own. Can I just quit my job and become a professional crafter? Speaking of which, why on this green Earth have I not discovered the wonderful world of hot glue guns until just now? Amazing.

As we all know, I’m sure even the non-Christian world knows, that it was Easter Sunday yesterday. Why do we always say “Easter Sunday” anyhow? It’s always on a Sunday? We went home to each of our parents homes for the day. We visited with family, laughed, and ate until we had food babies – all that fun stuff. It felt so good to forget about the stresses of the non-weekend days. It was calming to be out in the sun and out of the city. Just the trees and the family. Peaceful and refreshing.

IMG_5312And today is Easter Monday. Coming back after a quick weekend always gives me a “mreh” feeling but I woke up happy and ready to make a count down for next weekend when I’ll see my brother walk down the prom aisle. Something, I didn’t think I’d ever see.

The Easter bunny came to the workplace over the weekend. I was surprised to receive a gift card, two free hours of PTO, and a eos lip balm. Score! To top it off, I also won the drawing for two Wiz Khalifa tickets and VIP parking. Is it my lucky day or what?

Good things come in good time.

How Long Is Too Long?

I’ve noticed more and more women of the last few generations including mine are deciding to be stay-at-home moms. Heck, if I had the opportunity, I would probably opt to be a stay-at-home mom myself. In saying that, I mean it in the sense that if I had children and if my significant other made enough for my family to be content and well off without extra income I’d do it too.

Up until recently, I thought that’s what a stay-at-home mom was. She stay at home with the children. But how can you claim to be a stay-at-home mom when all your kids are in school? Literal terminology I guess. Or laziness. Or talentless.

Don’t shit your pants. I know you’re not lazy or talentless. You clean the house, you cook the food, you plan the vacations and activities, you help with homework, buy groceries, you do it all. You’re Wonder Woman but so is every other mom.

What’s the point of staying at home when your kids are absent from the home during the hours of 7:30 – 4:00? So you can what? See them off to school and pick them up after? What do you do in between? Watch soap operas and do a load of clothes? Bullshit.

MjAxMy01MmU5NDI2ZmYzNTU1MGRjI’m not hating on the stereotype because like I said, if I were in the position to stay at home with my babies, I would jump all over that shit but that’s not ever going to happen for one. And two, I wouldn’t abuse it like drunks abuse welfare. I’ve simply seen a rise in stay-at-home moms beyond the age of 5 or 6 and in the most simple sense, don’t get it.

The daycare costs alone are what I’m assuming is the most alluring point of interest into making that kind of decision. Great way of thinking, I agree. Getting to spend time with your children, teaching them the way you want them to be taught, ensuring that they are in good care, breathing while they nap, ect. All great points.

The biggest downfall I think we run into with the stay-at-home mom force is interaction with other children. I worked in a daycare for about a year and a half and interaction in the infant to toddler age range is crucial for social development. As long as you make it a necessity to have play dates with other children and/or enroll them in similar programs (mommy & me, gymnastics, water park, ect) your choice in staying at home will prove to be triumphant.

But we’re getting off track as to where this was going. Beyond the wonder years, beyond the first. We know all the positives and negatives about staying at home, raising them yourself. I’ve done research on some of it and I’ve concluded that if it’s for you and you can afford it, go for it. More power to you.

But there should be a line. And that line is kindergarten. Once your child(ren) gets enrolled into some kind of educational system that is set to a consistent 6.5 to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s time for you to move on and do something with your life.

807a68b1596840bbbcfa7f8e0f08e0b960Why in the hell would you want to stay at home every day to do nothing? The ONLY downfall of going back to work would be not being home right when they get off the bus. But in the age that we are in, there are after school programs, and an hour in daycare (if needed) isn’t going to kill them or your pocketbook.

You can join the rest of us and do you laundry while you’re waiting for supper in the oven. Or better yet, teach your children how to do the dishes and sweep the floors. Give them work to do or they’ll be helpless by age 18. The earlier you instill little chores, the less likely they will resist. Make it fun, don’t bribe them to do it. Teach the importance of it.

Staying at home during the primary grades and beyond is just an excuse. It’s an excuse to close your mind to the world. It’s an excuse to avoid social situations and most of all it’s showing your little girls (if you are blessed to have one) that they don’t have a role model to look up to because you’re just a housewife.

I’m not just being some crazy jealous “I want to be a stay-at-home mom” women here. If I were in your position and my children were off at school. I’d focus on what I love to do. I’d pursue photography. Work my way into circles of graduating seniors or other families I know to build a clientele. With the arrival of Pintrest into our world wide web of ideas, I’d love to live my life antiquing and making projects out of my finds to sell on etsy and eBay. I’d work or volunteer a few hours here and there at a local craft shop, art gallery, or humane society in town.

I’d be a “work-at-home-do-anything-and-everything” mom. What about you?

I Love You More.

Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and emotions. It’s just how you choose to deal with them..

Through a hectic that shouldn’t have been hectic weekend, I’m finally home with my Tim Hortons hot chocolate. In the beginning of and actually most of the day I had such a negative point of view. I was being a Debbie Downer and let other people get to me when I should have really been enjoying time spent with the people I was with.

BjbrLqlCQAA70YM

Setting all that aside though, I was happily humbled by the once again realization that I am immensely blessed. I have the best family anyone could ever ask for. There are no words to describe how momentous of an impact my parents have made on my life. In a world of drug addicts, adultery, divorce, and hate; they managed to still bring up three awesome (if I do say so myself) kids. They filled our hearts up with love, our brains up with knowledge and our minds up to be open.

I was reminded today that although I’m not going to like everyone. I’m not going to accept everyones lifestyles and I’m not going to except everyones inconsiderate foolishness; that no matter what, I’ll always have a family. I’ll always be loved no matter what. And even though it just sounds silly, I’m not talking about the usual love. My parents don’t just love us kids because we are their offspring. We aren’t just three toads that they raised and threw off into the world. No matter where we are in our lives or how old we ever get – they will still care about us.

The sad thing is, I don’t think this is as common as I previously thought it was. I think there are a lot of people out there that hurry up and get the kids old enough to raise themselves and then they are set free without the support of what is right and what is wrong. Do they give up on parenthood? I don’t know, to each their own. What matters is that my parents never gave up.

We are now 24, 21, and 18. We all live completely different lives in different towns. We are all at different stages of our early adulthood. We pay our own bills (except the 18 year old who is still in school). We make our own decisions and we have our own viewpoints on every situation but the one thing we have in common is that our family, all 5 of us, matter to each other more than anything else in this entire..everything. More than the world can even handle.

So thank you mom and dad. Thank you for creating a good wholesome family structure. Thank you for showing us what love is. Thank you for staying home on Friday and Saturday nights. Thank you for picking me up drunk and grounding me for an entire summer. Thank you for teaching us lessons and for giving us the sex talk. Thank you for letting us make our own decisions. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for being the best parents in the entire history of parents being parents because believe it or not, people would kill to have what we have. I love you all.

I can’t figure out how to embed a video into a post so here’s the link for the Flipagram I made with my favorite people in it: Family!

The Easter Season.

In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock or you haven’t noticed that fish fry season has officially started, today marks the beginning of Lent. I’m not much on religious politics so I ignorantly have no idea if any other religions besides the Catholic Church participate in the observance. I would assume that most Christian foundations follow it in one way or another but that’s another topic that I’m not really interested in diving into right now.

Lent quote from Pope Francis 2014

When I was young, we were always asked what we were going to “give up” for Lent. Our answers would always be nearly the same. No pop or candy. If our parents were lucky, we’d say no TV but God himself only knows that wasn’t going to last. Not until I was in Junior High did someone ask me what I was going to “do” for Lent as in “do more of.” Until that 7th grade year of religious education, I, as a brand name obsessed tween, didn’t know that I had the choice! In my adolescent brain I’m sure I was thrilled knowing that as long as I could promise to be kinder to my brothers or take the garbage out without my mom asking that I’d be doing good for the Lenten season.

As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve come to a split realization. To some, it’s almost like a do-over for the New Years resolutions that we flopped on by January 5th. We decide to do or give up something ridiculous and it lasts until the 2nd or 3rd fish fry. And on the other hand, I see that people actually do make a point of doing their best. In the world we live in, although it’d be ideal, it’s harder than ever to actually unplug or quit cold turkey on caffeine. It’s much “easier” for lack of a better term to do more. To be better. To contribute.

Ash-Wednesday-cross

The Easter season as I refer to it, is my favorite time of the year. Although I haven’t really been involved in the Catholic community since the day I was confirmed, it still is the foundation for many of the morals and memories that I hold dear to my heart. My favorite days out of the entire Catholic year were always Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday.

I don’t know if it was ambiance of Ash Wednesday or what but I always felt a sense of calmness. Walking into church at 5:00 PM on that Wednesday every year made me feel free and sinless. It made me forget about the mean kids in school or the fights with my brothers. It made me forget missing my dad because of his job or watching my mom try to breathe through the pains in the asses that we were as kids. Ash Wednesday was peaceful. From the moment we walked in and sat in the pews to the sign of the cross on our foreheads, I was reminded that there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit. I miss that.

palm sunday crafts

And Palm Sunday, it’s the best isn’t it? I have only ever celebrated Palm Sunday in the basement of Sacred Heart in Roseau, MN except for the three years during my confirmation. The entire congregation would gather in the basement. Every single person there would receive their palms. I always wanted to be in the front so I could be hit with whatever it was in that water shaker. I always felt that whoever got wet were the ones that were the most blessed. After the moments of prayer and worship my mom would always show us how to braid our palms. We’d usually braid them into crosses or hearts. They’d be kept with us or sometimes on the calendar or near the mirror at home. To this day whenever I see a palm, I’m reminded of the happiness that the Easter season brings.

I don’t often think of the Lenten season to be one where Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and nights. I think it’s because although he sacrificed so many things for us; that we’ve always been reminded to be grateful and happy with our life. To not dwell on the hardships of the past and instead to celebrate a new future.

Reflecting back on what I’ve written and remembering some pretty special moments in my past; I know that when I have babies of my own that I will raise them with an education in religion. I’m not sure what or where it will come from. I’m not sure if we will be regular church go-ers or dive into all realms of the religions around the world but I do know one thing; I will share the kindness and importance that Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday hold in my heart.

Happy 40 Days, everyone.

A Mini Auto-Bio.

lgoI finally updated my “About Me” section. Included is the below text. I wanted to share a brief synopsis of my life. I don’t have a sob story and my life hasn’t been full of whimsical travels or anything; but I do have one, a life that is. I have a story. And through this blog; I plan on bringing my story to life. Bring my perspective and my thoughts to the surface. I plan to find me and this is the preface:

I’ve decided to start this new blog for the year twenty fourteen. I haven’t really made up my mind on the exact purpose but I just knew that I needed a fresh start and a fresh outlook. I needed to reassess my life and the way I was perceived based on the lack of life that I put out into the world. I’m on the track to find myself through writing and through living.

I was born and raised in a dinky area near the Canadian border known to most as Roseau, Minnesota. Anyone from that area knows that you’re really not from Roseau; everything around there is pretty much known as the ‘surrounding area.’ For awhile we lived in Salol but finally settled in the country near Wannaska, enjoyed our winter sledding in nearby Malung.  Spent summers in Hockeytown, USA (Warroad) and went to school in Roseau. We were rivals with the Warriors and the Gators but knew everyone from here, there, and in between. 

Looking back, I really miss the shit out of that place. I miss the people, the friends, the freedom. I miss the happiness and the school. The teachers and the sporting events. I miss my grandparents and the restaurants. I miss the memories. I miss it all.

When I was in 9th grade, we migrated to an even smaller town (more like village) called Viking, Minnesota. The same surrounding area thing occurred here. We were a mile from “town,” school was 15 miles (or 8 minutes if you know how to drive on country roads) over in Newfolden. Most everyone who needed or wanted a job would circle over to Thief River or Karlstad which funny enough are in opposite directions. We’d go to the fair in Warren and party by Old Mill.

Reminiscing about my high school days aren’t as enjoyable as my Roseau life. I had a fine time. I made friends, got into trouble, and acquired my fair share of memories but I didn’t love it. I was and always will be the outsider, the new kid. My summers weren’t filled with friendships and no one called me or wanted to hang out with me first. I was usually a last resort. Switching schools mid-high school isn’t really something to brag about unless you plan to be an all-star athlete. Life long friendships had already formed and your lucky to squeeze yourself into a long lasting circle of confidants.

It’s the past though and it’s a period of life that I firmly believe helped form me into the person I’ve become. 

Since high school and actually during, I attended college in Thief River. Due to the uneducated staff and quality of academic standards in Marshall County Central; I really had no clue what I wanted to be when I “grew up” so I just opted for my A.A.

I sometimes bitterly wonder where I’d be in life if we had stayed in Roseau. The school was better, I excelled in all my classes, I was in a great group of friends, all of that. I don’t like to think about it often because than I instantly feel guilt. We moved because my mom had been making a long commute to and from work daily for years and it had taken a toll.

I don’t resent my parents for moving, how could I? I love them. They did what was best for our family structure. It just really blows that I have constantly had the “what-if” jingling in my ears for years.

Setting that aside, I met the love of my life the summer after high school. We’ve gone through rough patches where the pain and distress in our relationship was worse than an amusement park ride derailing. Thankfully, we’ve been one of the few couples that have fought and fought hard. There were many and I mean many times where we had no one to believe in us. Our families, in their own right, “knew” it wouldn’t last and quite frankly probably wanted it to end. Through the years we’ve lost friends and I myself pushed a lot of people away because of love.

In short, we made it. We pushed through the hurricanes, the tornados, and the tsunamis. I really am not sure where my family currently is on forgiveness and acceptance but it’s a process. There were moments that I am not proud of and there are moments that Channing wishes he could take back but the past is the past. It stays there for a reason. 

What really matters is what is deep in our hearts. We make each other laugh, we see each other through the toughest and the best of times. We care for each others lives and the people in them. We are stronger because of our past and we look forward to another 5 years 9 times over.

I want to one day be a mom of two sweet, healthy, little babies, live in the country in a beautiful home with hundreds of acres of land. I want to have two dogs and a cat. I want my children to go to a good school and be raised with love, morals, and respect. I want to dream. I want to write. And I want to travel.

That being said; those are really the key points involving the people in my life. I live for my [family] parents, brothers, and Channing. They are my world. I have many dreams and goals both personally and professionally. You’ll get a peek if you just bare with me.

The Weather Outside Is Frightful.

What a day, what a day, what a day.

I’ve been busting my butt all week at work to keep up with the workload and I can definitely tell that I’m working hard. Don’t get me wrong, I always put everything I have into what I do on the work front but we’ve just been busier than usual and let me tell you, it’s noticeable!

All is well in the world though. I was just talking with a co-worker today and we were chit-chatting about how we actually enjoy coming to work. There are many times throughout our lives where every single one of us has probably faced the “I don’t want to go to work today” morning dilemma and happily, neither of us has had to ever say that working here.

I have pretty stressful days between this and that and over there and oh yeah that too but I love it. This job is challenging and exciting. It pushes me outside of my comfort zone at times and urges me to learn more and know more. Having a good atmosphere to work is in definitely key when it comes to enjoying what you do and I’m happy to say that I have found that.

Switching gears..

I have an ongoing bucket list that I plan on posting sometime soon. I think it might be a separate page kind of like the About Me and Contact Info pages. It’ll be things that I’ve been jotting down for a few years. Sadly, I have more on my bucket list ‘to do’ than are already done but one day at a time, right? Is that sad or is that hopeful? I guess it would be both gloomy and gratifying to actually have everything checked off that list.

What’s on your bucket list? A dream career path or place to visit? Where would you build your perfect home if you could? What’s your “bucket” timeline for the next big step in your life? Marriage, kids, bachelor for life?

That’s about all I have time for right now. I’m on the way home to tend to a 6′ 4″ beast of a man that’s picked up my sickness from last week. Too-da-loo.

Heavy Hearts And Open Arms.

Anything going on in my life is nothing compared to the sorrow of the families of those lost in the last 24 hours. My Facebook wall and Twitter feed has been flooded with quotes, sayings, and memories of three different deaths in the surrounding area. I lost a good friend a few months ago and up until that point, I didn’t have a terrible amount of empathy or relatable experience to anyone suffering loss. Not because I was a complete asshole but because I didn’t understand. And I still don’t. I don’t think anyone can completely understand the meaning of mourning and grief. It’s different for each and every person.

death

I didn’t keep in touch and I didn’t know what was going on in anyones lives. I didn’t bother saying “Hi” to people I knew in stores and I didn’t go out of my way to extend a helping hand. I was just doing my own thing in my own world by my own self until Aron died. Even though I hadn’t seen her in such a long time, her death put my life into perspective. I realized that I needed to show people that I care not just assume that people know it. I needed to reopen friendships of people that I’d pushed away and books that I had closed and most of all, I needed to appreciate everything.

I’m very fortunate that the most important people in my life are still on this physical Earth. But I am reminded on a daily basis that even though we are alive, happy, and well; that doesn’t guarantee us a lifeline. Any single one of us can be taken in an instant and although it’s only pointed out when a loss has happened, we all need to learn from it. We really do need to appreciate the people around us. Love them and tell them and show them and be with them. We need to reach out even though we haven’t spoken in weeks or years. We need to cherish the memories and the moments yet to come. Because it can all be gone in an instant.

I want to take a moment to extend my absolute deepest condolences to the families and friends of those lost. I don’t know exactly how any of you feel (none of us do) and there are never any words that can be said to console everyone in the same way but know that every single one of you are in so many peoples hearts and prayers.

So tonight, hug the ones around you, reach out to the ones far away, and never ever stop making memories.