Twenty-Five Years Strong

me-and-kev2A May 26, 1990. That was the day my life changed for the better.

Kevin and I have been married for 25 years. And I could write a novel of the events that lead up to this day, but I think instead, I’m going to copy what my sister-in-law did on Facebook and just bullet-point our lives:

  • We worked together at a bank – that’s how we met.

  • Our first “date” was the company Christmas party. And we met there, in separate cars. Because I was a strong female and didn’t want him to think I was easy. *smirk*

  • We lived together for two years before we got married. *gasp*

  • I had to give him an ultimatum – either we get married, or we go our separate ways. (Remember that strong female part? I was terrified he would walk out – but I guess it was better than wasting years together).

  • I had to shop around for a church. We didn’t belong to a church and a friend I worked with recommended a pretty little church in Nixa. Done.

  • Our wedding day: Kevin thought I stood him up since I was late getting to the church. That same friend that recommended the church also did my hair. A fancy little braid number and it took longer than we thought it would. Kevin said he lost a few years waiting for me.

  • We paid for our wedding ourselves. Well. Technically, we used one of my school loans to pay for our wedding.

  • My mom’s wedding gift to me was making my wedding dress.

  • I still have the dress packed away in a garment bag. I couldn’t fit into it now to save my life.

  • We toasted each other with paper cups because I totally forgot to buy glasses for the occasion.

  • Our wedding photographer was horrified because Kevin forgot to wear dark socks with his tux. The photographer had to place my wedding bouquet over his feet to hide them.

  • Whoever was in charge of music played the wedding march (the song you exit to) when my dad escorted me down the aisle. I wasn’t even aware of that faux pas until Kevin and I watched the wedding video afterward.

  • I had to wear ballet slippers instead of gorgeous heels because I didn’t want to be taller than Kevin for our pictures. (At least I was comfortable).

  • I couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over. And who was the idiot that picked three songs to sing, during the ceremony, so that it lasted WAY longer than it had to? (That would be me).

  • We honeymooned in Cozumel, Mexico.

  • It was the first time I had ever been out of Missouri, let alone the country, and I cried like a baby.

  • I smashed my pinky in a lounge chair on the beach. I later lost that fingernail.

  • We rented a moped to get around the island and I don’t think we wore helmets. (We were young and stupid).

  • We ate lunch at a shack on the other side of the island and wrote our names in this pole. We later went back to Cozumel years later and the shack was gone.

  • I remember Kevin and I being horrified because the little prop plane that took us from Cancun to Cozumel was literally held together by duct tape.

  • I absolutely did not pack the right type of clothing for Cozumel. All of my shirts were too heavy and all I had with me were jean shorts. I’ve since learned tank tops and breezy skirts are your friend if you ever go to a tropical island.

  • On the plane ride home from our honeymoon, the landing gear wouldn’t come out and one of the flight attendants had to open the floor and crank the gear down. That did not help my anxiety over flying one bit.

  • I did not fly again until our 10th anniversary cruise to the Caribbean.

    and lastly …

  • I can’t imagine my life without my best friend, lover, confidante and husband.

  • Thank you for putting up with me all of these years, sweetie. I love you to the moon and back.

    lipstick-mirror

    Taking Care of Our Elders

    grandpa

    One of the many things I like about Facebook? You get to learn things about your family that you otherwise probably wouldn’t have known.

    The man laying on the ground in the picture above is my grandfather – my dad’s dad. He fought in World War II.

    I’m just going to post what my Aunt posted on Facebook …

    Dan said his dad never talked about the war much (who could blame him) but he would tell us this story often.

    One day there was an order to head out, so some of his buddies got into the jeep. Right before Leroy got in, his commanding officer said “Hutton you stay”. That jeep was hit and Leroy lost good friends. He would say to us, “If I would have gotten in, you all would have never been here, that saved my life”. Glad he didn’t get in!”

    Isn’t it amazing to think that one moment in time, that one split second decision my grandfather’s commanding officer made, led us to this moment: Four children, ten grandchildren, nineteen (?) great grandchildren later.

    It sort of boggles the mind when you stop to think about it.

    My grandfather is in his early nineties now. We lost my grandmother, my dad’s mom, about … three years ago (?). She developed dementia toward the end of her life and it was a terribly sad way to say goodbye. It was very hard on my parents, I know. And now my grandfather is being moved to a nursing home today because we have reached the point where he can’t take care of himself and it’s physically too hard on my family to help. (He’s wheelchair bound and he requires physical assistance to get into bed, go to the bathroom, etc).

    This is INCREDIBLY hard on my grandfather. He’s FIERCELY independent, has been his whole life, so now that he is being forced into this situation, well, it’s been difficult, to say the least.

    My parents came over yesterday and they filled in the details. It was heartbreaking to listen to the anguish in their voices and watch tears gather in their eyes.

    My grandfather begs them to take him home. He doesn’t want to go to the home. Who can blame him?? But though my family tried to take care of him in his home for one week, the situation is simply more than any of them can handle. They’re trying to make deals with my grandfather, work hard, participate in physical therapy, work on his strength so that he can at least walk on his own again and then they can take him home and work on a schedule to have someone with him at all times. But my grandfather is being stubborn. I’m sure the whole situation is embarrassing and humiliating for him. I see this in patients every day at work. It’s SO HARD to succumb to physical restrictions and have to rely on other people to help you when you’ve been so used to being on your own, taking care of yourself, your whole life.

    This situation makes me think of my own parents a lot. They’re getting up there in age, too. Though they are still both relatively young and stay physically active (they go to a gym to walk and socialize every day), I can see early signs of dependency. It brings a lump to my throat to think me and my siblings may be in a similar boat one of these years. And though you can promise you’ll never, ever, put your loved ones in a home, you can’t TRULY promise that. I think this situation with my grandfather has taught me that. All you can do is the best you can do for the situation you find yourself in.

    I also wonder how our boys will react when Kevin and I reach that age. Getting older has never really bothered me before, but honestly, seeing my grandfather’s situation has opened up doors I never really knew existed before.

    I learned that being in a home, a DECENT home, is terribly expensive. This will likely put a huge dent in my grandfather’s money. I have no idea how much he has, it’s really none of my business how much money he has, but knowing my family, he likely has a nest egg somewhere he can rely on to help him through this stage. I feel terribly sorry for people that DON’T have that money to fall back on.

    Kevin and I have talked about making sure we have a will. But I’m not sure we have ever really discussed our plan if one of us ends up in a nursing home. I have made Kevin promise me he will never put me in a home, and vice versa, but my grandfather’s situation has taught me, it’s never quite that black and white.

    I worry that dementia runs in our family. I mentioned my grandmother had it and there are signs my grandfather might have it, too. I’ve always worried about my own memory – I have trouble remembering things NOW. What will I be like when I reach my twilight years?

    I think that’s one big reason I refuse to retire. Which, I realize is unrealistic, my body will deteriorate … I realize this. But I hereby pledge to work on keeping my mind active. I’m not saying my grandparents did not do that, dementia is not something you can likely prevent, but I will do everything in my power to keep it at arm’s length.

    In the meantime, life trudges on. All we can do is try and keep pace with it.

    I Don’t Want to Get Older – I’m Not Ready to BE Old

    Weepy glees – have a box of tissues ready.

    I cried like a baby from start to finish after watching this video. I think this scenario affects us so much because we have an innate fear of getting older. And an even bigger fear of not being loved because of how we LOOK/ACT when we get older.

    I lost it when the guy commented about how beautiful she was to him, wrinkles and all. And you can tell he really means it, he’s just not saying it to be nice. That’s love. Pure and simple. *sigh*

    And I love how they kept a sweet sense of humor about everything. That’s exactly how Kevin and I are – we often giggle like teenagers like that.

    My age has never really bothered me before now. But I’ll be honest – I’m going to be 50 this year. The big 5-0 – half a century old. I don’t feel it and people tell me I don’t look it but when I stop to think about it, it sort of shocks me. How did this happen? Inside, I don’t feel a day over 30. Knowing I’m going to be 50 this year just feels … surreal. Unnatural. It can’t be real. There must be some sort of mistake.

    I’m fortunate. I work with people half my age so they keep me young. I stay physically and mentally active. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I have no plans to retire – why? I ENJOY working. I always have. I get a high out of being productive. And there’s NO WAY Kevin would ever let me stop – I can barely keep up with him now.

    Do you think if I stay busy enough I’ll stay ahead of the aging process?

    Well I’m going to try, damn it.

    We Are Officially Empty Nesters

    EmptyNest-1 So it’s a done deal, the boys moved out.

    They moved out just before Brandon’s 20th birthday in March.

    Happy birthday, son!

    Now get out. HA!

    The move went pretty smoothly. The boys don’t have a lot, their bedrooms were the most challenging to move what with their beds and all of their computer crap, er, equipment. We were able to get everything in Kevin’s truck and I think we made a total of three trips with his truck full. I, however, made about twelve trips. I put their dresser drawers, (full of clothes), into my car. Then I loaded my car down with all the “practical” gifts Santa gave them this past Christmas and which they weren’t excited about AT ALL, until we moved everything in.

    I also placed SEVERAL blankets in my car and had to drive very carefully to the apartment when it came time to move their computers. I get that they are both INTO their computers and they have both spent a lot of money on their computers, but I get uncomfortable with just HOW much they’re obsessed with their computers – you would think they were made from glass the way they were both acting.

    However, we got everything moved over, unpacked and cleaned up in one day. We were all pretty exhausted when it was all said and done. I THOUGHT I had taken some pictures of their place, but I can’t find them for the life of me. They’re probably on Kevin’s hard drive. I think he wiped our camera cards off so we could go to Hawaii. (What?!? Yep – more on that … one of these days).

    It’s a cute apartment. Tiny, but really perfect for both of them. It’s a two bedroom, two bath place. We had to put Brandon’s chest-of-drawers in his closet (which I must say, their apartment has some pretty decent-sized closets) to make room for his over sized computer desk. But it works. They have a wood-burning fireplace. And yes, it works. Their apartment is a corner apartment on the 2nd floor – the corner apartments have fireplaces. It still sort of boggles my mind that apartments have fireplaces – isn’t that a HUGE fire hazard?? I pray they have responsible neighbors in the winter time.

    When it came time to look at the available units in their apartment complex, we, (and by “we” I really mean all of us), wanted a third-floor apartment. We figured it would be the quietest – they wouldn’t have to worry about noisy neighbors above them. But the only third-floor apartment that was available when they were ready to move in had carpet in the kitchen.

    Um – YUCK and NO.

    So, they settled for the 2nd floor apartment. They didn’t have anyone living above them for quite a while but now they say they think someone lives up there but they don’t hear a lot of walking around going on so they think maybe their upstairs neighbor travels a lot of something as it doesn’t appear they are home very often.

    We did have trouble moving their sofa into the apartment. Since they are on the second floor and right by the staircase, we didn’t have a lot of wiggle room getting the sofa into the apartment. In fact, there was a moment, when we all sort of paused, our arms aching from holding the sofa and thought, “we are NOT going to get this sucker in.” But somehow, we maneuvered it in and I confess, it’s perfect for the space and a pretty comfy couch. I think, though, if they ever move, we will have to take the legs off in order to get it back out again.

    They both swear they are not going to move. HA!

    •••)o(•••

    It’s been … weird not having them here. They’ve been out for two months now and it still doesn’t seem real. It just feels like they’re at a friend’s house or something. But then again, quite honestly, we didn’t see them very much when they were living with us.

    I think Blake was happier about moving than Brandon. I’m not sure Brandon was quite ready to move, but now that they’ve been out for a few months, I think they are both loving it. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? No rules. No having to live with the frustration of turning the Internet off at 10:00 PM every night. (Yes. We did that because if we hadn’t, they would have been up all night every night. Nope. Not in our house).

    Of course, we’ve spoiled them. We bought them quite a few things and in fact, we still continue to buy them quite a few things. For example, Brandon mentioned that they needed a pizza stone so they could cook their frozen pizzas. We bought them one last night.

    Kevin gets quite cranky with me with the all the stuff I buy them, but honestly, it’s like playing dolls or something – I just can’t resist!

    Kevin found a George Foreman grill at a yard sale for one dollar. Bought it and to our delight, it actually works. We’ll give that to the boys and show them how to cook hamburger patties.

    Roy found a set of 12 bowls at a yard sale for $2 – he will keep some of them and plans on giving the rest to the boys.

    They also come over to our house quite a few times throughout the week to eat dinner with us. For two reasons, really: 1., it’s nice to see them and to catch up on their lives, and 2., I worry they will be too cheap to eat decent meals. In fact, Brandon has mentioned he had to call in sick one time because he woke up with vertigo and was nauseous. When I quizzed him about what he had been eating it was pretty much Ramen noodles and cereal.

    I rest my case.

    •••)o(•••

    They’ve had a few incidents since living there. The neighbors next to them have fights and get quite loud sometimes. Blake said he woke up one night to some loud music about 2:00 AM and one of the other neighbors called the cops on them.

    They were both pretty nervous to live on their own at first – and I think they both still are – they immediately deadbolt the door whenever we leave, lol, but I think they’re getting more used to it now.

    Their apartment is not far from our house. It’s literally down the street. I think the close proximity also helps all of us and is probably the reason I haven’t really “felt” their absence. We can be at their house in about five minutes.

    This has been SUPER AWESOME though in regards to them appreciating what they have and what they spend their money on. In fact, shortly after we got them moved in, Brandon held up his hands and said, “Okay everyone, you need to take your shoes off.” haha!

    And Blake has already mopped and cleaned his bathroom several times.

    I love it! That’s what it takes – though it’s super hard to let go of our children, we absolutely MUST do it. They have to learn to take care of themselves and to appreciate what they work hard to have.

    Blake is still working for Kevin – I really don’t see that changing until Kevin finally bites the bullet and retires and closes his office. In fact, he is actively looking for more business and may even have to hire an extra person some day if he gets very much more.

    And while we’re on the subject of Kevin’s business, his office lease will be up soon. He’s thinking of possibly moving his office to the front part of the rental house thereby saving TONS of money in rent.

    The problem is: will people be creeped out going to someone’s house for their accounting needs? We’re still tossing the idea around.

    Brandon is still at the shoe store. And in fact, he likes it, much to my surprise. He’s a cashier, which again, surprises me. It’s not that I don’t think he’s smart enough to be a cashier, it’s just, that job comes with a lot of trust and responsibility and I’m flattered that his boss has that much confidence in him. People I work with know Brandon works at this popular shoe store and I had a co-worker instant message me the other day to tell me that Brandon waited on her and she was impressed with his professional demeanor. In fact, he sold her a program that she hadn’t really wanted to participate in but said that he was such a good salesman, she felt like she would be missing out on something if she said no. haha! That really warmed my heart that she told me that and it makes me EXTREMELY proud to be his momma. I think Brandon will go far in life.

    I think Blake will, too, I just think his success will be a little more understated than Brandon’s. But who knows, they continue to surprise me every day.

    The extra bedrooms are still empty. We are going to use one room for Kevin – he currently sleeps in his office on a futon. We don’t sleep together because he uses a sleep-pap machine and sounds like Darth Vader and I flop so much and snore that it wakes him up. I think we’re going to use the other bedroom as a game room slash workout room. Not sure on that one yet.

    The rooms need a coat of paint. They were FILTHY dirty when the boys moved out. In fact, there was so much dust built up that when I cleaned the rooms, I had a respiratory issue for a solid week. No joke. We are going to paint them next weekend, I think, since it’ll be Memorial Day Weekend and I’ll have three days off.

    So yes. We’re now officially empty nesters. It’s been a pretty smooth transition. I love when they come over and I love when they leave. Ha!

    Applying

    This picture has nothing to do with anything, just thought it was cute.

    This picture has nothing to do with anything, just thought it was cute.

    We visited two apartments today.

    The first one, we met the gal at the complex and she showed us an apartment on the 2nd floor. The first thing I noticed was – it was dirty. At least, it FELT dirty. And it was right next to a major highway, so there was the highway noise. And then there were REALLY squeaky floors. And the floors felt … bumpy. And I immediately felt sorry for the neighbors down below the unit. And it just felt … wrong. The boys weren’t too terribly impressed, but they haven’t really had anything to compare it to so …

    When we left, we discussed the pros and cons. I felt like there were too many cons and I wasn’t impressed.

    Moving on.

    The second apartment, I had high hopes for. It’s the closest one to our house and the most reasonably priced. It’s near grocery stores and in the middle of a nice neighborhood. I crossed my fingers.

    We didn’t have an appointment at this complex, we just showed up. (But to be fair, I had called them them day before and they said it was okay to do that). The guy was super nice and very helpful. He also showed us a unit on the middle floor and I immediately LOVED it. It felt right right off the bat.

    The living area was a nice size. The kitchen is small, but again, it’s just the two of them. There’s also a pantry and a coat closet just off the tiny dining area. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. And the closet in the master bedroom is the BIGGEST closet I have ever seen. In fact, it’s so large, they could easily have a third person move in and use the closet as their “bedroom.” There is definitely room for a twin-sized bed in the closet. They’ve been toying with the idea of having one of their cousins move in with them… but we’ll see how that goes. It came as sort of a shock to Blake, when we talked to the manager more at length, that if their cousin moves in, he just can’t “move in,” he too will have to go through the application/approval process which means he will HAVE to have a job before that can happen. I’m relieved that was brought up and discussed because I really think Blake had plans on basically supporting the cousin and that would have been a bad idea all around.

    They have several units available. And again, I think it might be a better idea if the boys either get a ground floor or a top floor – stay away from the 2nd floor. Having neighbors is bad enough, having a neighbor both on top of you and below you is double the trouble.

    This complex has a pool, a BBQ area, and a laundry facility. And Blake is seriously considering paying an extra $15 per month to reserve a carport.

    But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We left with some applications and went to our third apartment prospect.

    But the manager was out and wouldn’t be back for 45 minutes. So we went ahead and came back home.

    The conversation we had with the boys was probably one of the best conversations we’ve had in, wow, a LONG time. We weighed the pros and cons of the 2nd complex and talked about a realistic move-in time. After a while, I said, “what, exactly, are we waiting for? Let’s go ahead and start the application process.”

    And that’s what we did. The boys filled out the applications and wrote checks out for the application fee. Kevin wanted to see if they could be approved on their own first before we agree to become co-signers. Either way, we are going to work hard to try and make this happen. The manager said they usually have an answer back within 24-hours. I told the boys to keep their phones close.

    We never even returned to the third complex.

    I’m so excited for them! This is such a big step in their lives!! We talked about priorities – what would they need to buy right away and what could wait. I even found a pretty sweet kitchen table and chairs on clearance at one of the furniture places. I think I’m going to try and talk everyone into going to a few furniture places tonight after dinner, just to give them an idea of how much things cost.

    If today produces nothing else, it was a FANTASTIC learning experience for the boys. We can talk to them until we’re blue in the face, but to actually hear someone else explain the process and do some comparison shopping was a much needed dose of reality for them. I was worried about them being able to afford it, but after delving more into their finances, and being shocked by how much they both have in savings (We’re doing something right!!), I’m more confident they will make this work. And they’ll still have keys to our house, they can come over and do their laundry and of course, they’re welcome to come over for dinners to save them money on food, at least, initially.

    I’m hoping we have an answer by the end of this week. I hope they get approved on their own, but if they need a co-signer then let’s get the ball rolling on that process. Our goal is to get them moved in mid-March, IF all goes according to plan.

    It would be nice to have them all settled before the end of April.

    Why the end of April, you ask? You’ll see … :-D

    Time to Grow Up, Boys!

    I have the day off today and tomorrow.

    Let’s take a moment and savor that sentence a moment ……………………………………

    Okay fine. You don’t care. But I am loving it!

    I haven’t had a day off since our Vegas trip in October.

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    Okay, okay … we’ve savored enough.

    I got my gray covered this morning.

    me-darkhair2

    I ABHOR the hair dresser. Not because of where I go – they are actually super nice and their prices are fantastic – no, I hate going to the hair dressers because that means I have to be messed with and I HATE BEING MESSED WITH.

    Body massages and pedicures are definitely out for me.

    Know what else I’ve been up to today? Other than a nappie poo … or two … (Hey! It’s a day off, remember?? I can be lazy if I want to be …), calling apartment complexes.

    I did a lot of research over the weekend. (I love doing research on the ‘net – so many things pop-up that you don’t think about). And I narrowed our search to four strong possible places for the boys to live.

    Yes. The boys SHOULD be doing this themselves. No. If I waited for them to take the initiative they would never move out. I wish I was kidding. *sigh*

    Since this is the year we kick them out (I’m DETERMINED to make this happen), then I’m taking the bull by the horns and getting this ball rolling. Plus. They are getting on my nerves SO BAD. They are both so immature and lazy and I’m sick of their little boy mentalities – ENOUGH.

    All of these places are close to where we live. And the prices are reasonable. In fact, my first pick just happens to be the cheapest pick. And the closest. When I called to see if anything was available, I learned a con right away – the parking is a first-come-first-serve situation. Which means … what exactly, I’m not sure. But if they want to park under one of the carports, they have to pay an additional $15 per month – which is one reason it’s probably cheap, now that I think about it.

    I called all four places today. We are looking at two tomorrow. Possibly three. Since I could never get anyone to answer the phone at one of the complexes, we’ll just take a chance and drop by tomorrow and see if anyone is available to show us around. And the fourth place? Didn’t have any units available until April. Which, may work out fine anyway as I’m not sure the boys would be ready to move out in a week anyway.

    We’ll talk about that tonight at dinner.

    We have an appointment to meet someone at my second choice at 10:00. When I told Brandon what we were doing, (he isn’t working today) he was NOT excited. When I asked him why, he sighed and said “it’s more responsibility.” Well freakin’ duh! It’s called LIFE son; it’s time to start living it.

    See what I’m dealing with here? They’re spoiled rotten. And yes, I realize it’s our fault. Bleh.

    Anyway, I’m trying not to get my hopes up about these showings tomorrow. I can’t explain it but I either KNOW it’s going to be right or it WON’T. That’s how it always is with me. I KNEW Kevin was the one for me. I KNEW this house was perfect for us. I KNOW whether I’m going to get along with someone or not right away. I KNOW if I like something or not right away. It’s just a … feeling. That’s the best way I can describe it. Granted, these apartments are not for me. And I will do my best to keep my mouth shut and let the boys do the talking … but ugh. I just can’t wait on them anymore. I’m ready for them to begin their lives whether they are ready or not.

    And I’m being selfish – I want two extra rooms in our house. One will be an extra bedroom for either me or Kevin (I mentioned we don’t sleep together, right??) and the other will be an office and/or a workout room.

    It’s going to be SO NICE to have that space. But I don’t want to get too excited yet – we still have to make this happen. Blake actually did a budget the other day based on just the money he makes and he can do this – it will be tight, but he can do it. Brandon … can do it but he may have to get another part-time job or get more hours at work. But I’m hoping that moving out will motivate the boys to DO something more with their lives. Right now, they just go to work and play video games. I mean, they will likely do that when they move out, but at least it will be on their terms.

    This MIGHT motivate my nephew, my 24-year old nephew still living at home with his dad, I might add, to get a job and maybe move in with them. They have all talked about moving in with each other for years. That way, they could split expenses three ways and it will hopefully kick-start my nephew’s life into gear. WIN-WIN.

    Time to grow up, boys!