Saturday, December 31, 2011
Feeling like a woman.
Not to go all Shania Twain or anything, but let's face it. Because my husband is paralyzed, and just isn't able to do somethings, I do them.
Some of these things are things that would traditionally fall on "the man."
Like fixing things, building things, lifting things, reaching things, driving, you get the picture.
I do all of that.
Also, because of our situation - and the fact that every time we go anywhere, I literally have to lift Mr. Wonderful up and put him in our SUV, and lift the wheelchair and put it in, I NEVER wear skirts. I NEVER wear heels.
Add all of this up, and sometimes, I just don't feel very girly anymore.
Not that I was ever a really, really girly girl, but anyway.
It's not something I dwell on a lot, but it is something that can be aggravating at times.
Enter my Christmas gifts from my husband this year.
A collection of lip glosses.
A collection of perfumes.
And the darling little box pictured above. A handmade, super girly box to put my wedding rings in. My rings are hand-me-downs from my Granny, and they've never had a box. So, at home, they are often just sitting around. Michael just noticed that, and got me this box on Etsy.
I felt so loved as I was putting my Christmas presents away.
This is how my man sees me.
As a woman.
As a lady.
Who is pretty.
And smells good.
And needs a place to put her shiny diamond rings.
Not as a grubby taxi driver/handyman/maid/nurse.
I needed that gift most of all.
And, he didn't even know that.
The beautiful thing about gifts is that they all speak. They all say something.
And I loved to hear what these Christmas presents told me.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Last year, we started our own little tradition of staying home, our home, just the two of us, on Christmas Day.
I didn't make the giant feast that I did last year. No turkey and all the fixin's. I can't remember if I wrote about it here or not, but we didn't make it to my sister's house this year for Thanksgiving, so I felt like I had just done the whole turkey, etc. SO, I made the filet mignon and potatoes au gratin that arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago, courtesy of an Omaha Steaks Groupon. :)
We had a snuggly Christmas Eve...
We opened presents...
About 20 minutes after the last present was opened, the Christmas tree CAME DOWN.
A lady who bought our old coffee and end tables off of Craigslist came by and took them, and I started an all-out organization project!
We are making room for some NEW FURNITURE! :) More on that later. :)
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!
Tomorrow, we celebrate with M's family. Looking forward to that, then more cleaning out/organizing, then getting back on the 2012 campaign trail.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
I hope you're in the spirit.
I think I am.
I'm snuggled on my chair in the living room (in a slightly new spot thanks to a little re-arrangement) with Brokaw, and we're watching the news and the Christmas tree is right in the window, in all its glory.
I'm having a beer.
And I can hear Michael in the other room, stuffing my stocking :)
I hear tissue paper.... which I may or may not have made a snotty remark about when he asked me to get it for him. I'm such a brat sometimes.
Lasagna is in the oven.
In the spirit of not killing myself this Holiday Season.
Tomorrow, we're having steaks, instead of the whole turkey plus fixin's.
I feel kind of bad about that, but kind of like I just did that whole Thanksgiving thing like, um, yesterday.
It's been a great week home from work.
I saw my sister! :)
We visited the wounded warriors at Walter Reed.
I saw two out of three of my nephews. :)
I saw my mom and Dave. :)
We went to see the decorations at the White House, and because we needed to go up the elevator, we went through a different way from everyone else on the tour and we saw BO THE DOG!! Secret Service wouldn't let me take his picture. I was seriously so excited to see him because while I've seen the President hundreds of time, Bo has eluded me!
We went driving around with EggNog Lattes and looked at Christmas lights around Northern Virginia.
We took an EPIC trip to Ikea. :)
Our living room is already mid-transition, there's a new cabinet in my bathroom, and I'm SO EXCITED about painting/changing the office/guest room because it has been driving me crazy forever.
I already love LOVE love the changes to the living room.
We spent a bunch of gift cards and that was SO MUCH FUN.
Man, I am ready for that lasagna.
And I'm looking forward to sharing Christmas morning with my Love.
We have our own little Christmas traditions, and while they are still young, they are fun.
We wake up and read the Christmas story out of the Bible, while we're still in the bed.
We eat breakfast.
We open gifts. (We just do stockings for each other, and we have a $50.00 limit)
We call our families.
We watch football.
We eat a special, super yummy dinner.
And the rest is, ahem, private married kind of stuff. :)
I love Christmas!
I hope y'all have a very Merry one!
We have so much to be thankful for this year.
Our Savior has been good to us.
Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thanks for coming to earth and bringing us new life in you.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I am like most people.
I think more, talk more and write more about the things that are bothering me, the things I'm worried about, and the things that aren't right in my life more than I talk, think and write about what is going right and good and just fine.
I don't mean to be that way.
But just like people say they don't want to watch "bad" news, but if all you play is clips of the Puppy Bowl and the water skiing squirrel, they don't watch. Well, maybe the Puppy Bowl isn't the best example, but you get it.
You're probably wondering by now what that photo has to do with what I've got going on down here in this 3rd paragraph.
Well, that is the most festive, wonderful worker for the Metro system in DC. I don't know her name, but she is a station manager at Farragut West. And this season of my life that seems to be overflowing with blessings right now, started with her.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on my way into work, and I noticed her. Again. I have noticed her before, because she is always super cheerful, telling commuters "Have a great day, stop and enjoy the sunshine!" or "You can do it, it's almost Friday!" And now, she's decorated the station for the holidays, is pumping Christmas music as loud as she can on a little boom box, and wearing antlers.
I knew when she told me to "Have a blessed day" that day, what I was going to do. I went up the escalator, bought her a little $5.00 Starbucks gift card, went right back down the escalator, and handed it to her, and thanked her for all that she does. She almost cried. It was the cutest thing ever.
That was when it started.
The very next day, a $5.00 Starbucks e-gift card popped in my inbox.
A couple days after that, co-workers provided me with several MORE Starbucks cards! And, I guessed how many Hershey's Kisses were in a jar, so I won that, too.
IT GETS BETTER.
Remember this post from a few months ago?
I was so stressed out, thinking about Michael's home health care while I traveled so much for work. Well, I have been super stressed out lately, looking at January, when I will be on the road almost the entire month, and wondering how in the world we were going to pay for the home health care.
An old friend, a girl I cheered with in high school contacted me, and encouraged me and Michael to apply for Medicaid.
We had tried before, with no success.
But, I figured, hey - we can try again.
It's a lot of paperwork.
It's an uncomfortable letting-in of the state into your personal business.
But, WE WERE APPROVED.
I think we both almost cried happy tears.
And we both slept all night long, good, for the first time in a long time, knowing that the huge burden of that huge expense had been lifted.
I was just back from my last trip to Iowa.
There was a knock at my door.
He's been bringing several boxes and packages lately that are Christmas gifts. But, I wasn't expecting him this day.
There was an envelope.
And a really funny card.
And one of the greatest surprises I have ever experienced.
A generous woman with a great, big heart who reads this blog - took the time and consideration to buy more than several gift cards for me. And for us. All tailored to the things I blogged about the day before.
It was incredible.
I cried as I texted Michael and called my mom.
I have heard of people being blessed like this out of nowhere, but I'd never experienced it for myself.
It blew me away.
Monday, I had to attend a meeting at our company's headquarters in Virginia Beach. It was so great to see my colleagues in VB that I usually only email or talk to on the phone.
There was an end-of-the-year chapel/awards ceremony.
And little me was awarded the big deal award.
With it, came a significant "blessing," if you can read between the lines.
WOW. I couldn't stop thinking about how God is just blessing me left and right.
In the middle of all of this, I dropped my phone in a cab the other night, and I was so sure it was gone forever. BUT NO. The cabbie actually FOUND IT and RETURNED it to me! I gave him a reward, but still. This was just something else amazing.
On top of all of this, I had wonderful time with my sister and her friends and family, and I got to see my Mom and my stepdad. They all blessed me with wonderful Christmas presents.
It is overwhelming, the blessings that have come to me in the last 2 or 3 weeks. There are too many to even count. All of this doesn't even count my health, my wonderful family, my loving husband, my job that doesn't even feel like a job, my vacation time at the end of this very busy year, my warm safe home, my working SUV, my pets..... you see.... God has been so good to me!
I know exactly what I want to do.
I want to remember this.
I want to share this.
I want to pay every bit of this experience and every cent of every gift I have received FORWARD.
So, if you feel like you are one of those people like I was, who just heard about other people being blessed, and wonder if it will ever happen to you.
I say, do not give up.
Keep on rocking on.
Keep on doing good.
Keep on believing.
He is in control.
He does still bless people beyond what they can imagine.
I am not making this up.
This is for real, and it is happening to me.
I understand to whom much is given, much is required.
Just as I have cried out to God in my desperation and weakness, I cry out to him in my joy and thankfulness.
God, use me in this.
And if you want to keep blessing us, that's totally cool! :)
Thursday, December 15, 2011
|Filing our story from Chili's in Sioux City, Iowa|
I blinked, and it’s the middle of December.
I swear it was August yesterday. Why am I wearing a big fat coat right now?
I have a bad habit: I overdo it.
I thought I had learned a lesson about this during our first year of marriage, when I lost 30 pounds without trying (that I, of course, later found) and much of the hair in the front of my head.
But, apparently not.
At least now, though, I can tell the signs my body gives me that I am getting overly stressed.
I work a more than full time job.
I commute at least an hour to and from work each way.
I am a caregiver to my husband, which can take up between 2-4 hours a day.
I started a volunteer project helping Wounded Warriors and their families at Walter Reed, which is quickly snowballing into something bigger than I can handle alone.
I like to have a clean house.
I like to make home cooked meals.
I like to shop at 2-3 different stores each week to save money.
I like to have a clean car.
We have two dogs, one of which really should be bathed every other day.
I am covering a Presidential campaign that has been going on for about a year, but is REALLY getting ready to heat up, for real, for the next 10 months.
I like to clip coupons to save money.
I like to stay in contact with my family.
I don’t like to miss ANYTHING. Be it a story, a Facebook post, a Tweet or an Instagram picture. I admit, I am an information addict.
I like to spend quiet time alone reading my Bible and devotionals.
I like to make homemade Christmas presents.
I like to buy Christmas presents, and wrap them.
I don’t like to work out, but I do feel guilty about not doing it.
I like to keep this blog updated.
I don’t like to drive my husband back and forth to Baltimore for wheelchair repairs, but I need to, at some point.
I feel overwhelmed just reading over my little list here.
Last week, I couldn’t sleep worth a you know what.
I was waking up grumpy and with headaches.
My hands started breaking out.
Monday, I woke up so stressed I pretty much wanted to cry.
I felt like the to do list was towering over me, and the calendar was crowding my sunlight like an eclipse. So, I stayed home. Worked from home. Got some stuff done for the show. I made a huge list of things I wanted to do at home, having to do with Christmas gifts and the post office and making this and that and cleaning this or that. Wanting everything to be perfect for when my sister arrives the day after I get home from this trip to Iowa.
Then, I did something revolutionary. I scratched a bunch of stuff off, without doing it.
Go ahead, shriek. I did. This is not me. But I have to cut the fat.
I can’t do all of this stuff.
Why do I do this to myself all the time? Set these crazy, impossible goals that are either not humanly possible, or simply not worth it.
So here is the list of things I am not doing:
-Bathing the dogs (Michael is making them appointments at Petsmart)
-Clipping coupons (this should say I am not feeling guilty for not clipping coupons, because honestly, it’s been a few months since I’ve clipped or printed anything)
-Cleaning my car. I’ll wipe the inside down before my mom gets here. It’s not that bad anyway.
-Cooking for the Wounded Warriors this weekend. I can’t do it this week. There is no time. My sister is bringing oodles of cookies we will take those, and I have some supplies a co-worker donated, so I’ll drop those off on Sunday. But, sorry guys. No meals this week.
-Painting the ceiling in my dining room. I know, there’s been marks on the ceiling since we replaced the lighting fixture this Summer. Sorry, Mom. I wanted it to be perfect for you when you came to visit, but it’s not going to be perfect.
-Making bread. This year, Michael’s grandparents and aunts and uncles are getting cookies and magic bars in their Christmas packages. No homemade bread. I didn’t have time this year to mix, knead, wait for bread to rise, bake, etc.
-Homemade Apple Butter, not happening. I have some “spiced apple sauce” for my neighbors, if y’all are interested. You’ll have to refrigerate it, FYI.
-Working out. (this is another one that I’m really just dropping the feeling guilty part for, because I haven’t worked out since that hotel in Vegas the day before my birthday, in October)
-On that, I’m giving up the idea of ever celebrating my birthday. Michael and I keep meaning to do it, but there’s just no time. And soon, it will be 2012. Oh well. I can celebrate next year, right? Oh, wait, my birthday will be two weeks before Election Day. Maybe 2013 we can go out to dinner like 3 times.
-I wanted to wrap our Christmas presents all super pretty with ribbons and little ornaments and all that jazz. I bought the stuff. But, it didn’t happen. Have fun opening the taped edges. Sorry, that’s all I have.
Don’t I sound so defeated? It’s dumb, isn’t it? I mean who cares about smudges on the ceiling of the dining room or if there’s a snowflake on your Christmas present, right? Who cares if we have no homemade bread for a few months or if I spend $15.00 more a week because I’m not driving all across town with coupons, shopping at like 4 different stores for groceries and household supplies, right?
Because the things I cannot and will not compromise on just won’t give. And they shouldn’t. That’s the whole idea of priorities, right? I mean, my husband has to go to the bathroom and be bathed. The pets have to be taken care of, the house has to be at least moderately clean, I have to work, pay bills, and travel for work, and to see family for Christmas. And they have to come see us, too!
All of this is an apology, really, for not making homemade Apple Butter.
For having dirt in the corner floor boards of my kitchen.
For being overweight.
For having grown out roots.
For not being perfect.
But, our life, health and well being is fine.
I’m good with God.
And I’m giving back to my country.
I have a lot to be thankful for.
I try to remind myself that I am “blessed, not stressed.”
But if I’m honest with you, I’m both.
Aren’t we all?
There you go.
My unedited thoughts on priorities and giving up, when you have to.
Major shout out to my husband who had my back today in mailing a package to my brother, and making arrangements for the pups!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
See that hat I'm wearing in the picture with my best friend, Ann? I got that hat in 2007, when we went to a VT game. I LOVE that hat. They don't make it anymore.
One time, I lost that hat in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and took Brokaw back up to the Wal-Mart parking lot with me, to try to sniff around and find it.
That was two years ago.
Now, I have lost it again. :(
I left it on the Metro.
It was the third thing I left on a Metro train JUST THIS WEEK.
I also lost a hat I just got a couple of weeks ago, as well as my black texting gloves I also just got this year. :(
I am usually so careful and responsible. I am the girl who locked her keys in her car in high school, so she has the habit of making sure she has her keys before closing her door. I used to be the girl who looked back to where she was sitting to make sure she had everything.
Guess I've gotten away from that. I blame my iPhone. I'm constantly distracted. Oy.
I didn't bother to report my original hat and texting gloves. But my beloved VT hat? I totally went on Metro's website and filled out a "lost and found" form. Hopefully I will hear something this week. If not, I am going to be really sad.
Of course, it's just a thing. I realize that. But that hat has great memories attached to it. Like that game with Ann, and the fact that I wore it the night Michael asked me to marry him. Plus, I like to show my support for Virginia Tech. For the football team, and for the school in general, because even though I didn't go there, I'm a proud fan, and I always pray for the Hokies. They've been through so much.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Well, just in case you landed on this here blog looking for affordable ways to make someone's holiday, here are some more little homemade Christmas gift ideas I have been working on this year.
Of course, I will be baking my tail feather off. That goes without saying.
But, also, I'll be giving some of these things to friends and family this year.
Chai Tea Mix. You can get the recipe and instructions if you click on the link. Here's the bottom line, all you need is some spices and other ingredients. You can get that kind of stuff on the cheap if you look at the Dollar Tree and Aldi. I found cute little jars at the Dollar Tree and at Ikea. Follow the instructions, pour the mix into the jars using a funnel, so it lands in there all pretty like, and tie some cute labels around it. Bam. Cute, cheap Christmas present!
Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate. Note, if you use this link, they forgot powdered sugar. Add half a cup of that to each batch you make. TRUST me. I got these cute little tags in the Christmas wrapping paper section of Target, and wrote what the mix was, on the plain white back of the tags.
I think my favorite homemade Christmas present I've made so far this season is Raspberry Vinegar. I just mixed it up last weekend, so it's still in process, but I think it's going to be really neat.
Merry Christmas, y'all! Cheers!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I have so much to thank you for this year. For connections with special friends like Jamie, Melanie, Alicia, Erica, Heather, Amber, Melanie, Megan, Lynette, and Sib who know what this wheelchair journey is like, and what the wife/caregiver life is like. I am forever grateful for the connections we share, the encouraging emails and texts and the funny stories we can talk about just with each other. The internet brought us all together.
I am thankful for Facebook, which has been the main vehicle for telling the stories of the Wounded Warriors we have prayed for, cooked for and gotten to know. Like Derek, Nick, Matt, Chaz, Brian, Jessie and Jamie. I am a better person for having prayed for you and served you. I am forever grateful for all of your service, and your wives and moms and families for reminding me of how true love serves.
I am also thankful for the chance to reconnect with old friends from high school and college, as I traveled for work this year. For picking up right where we left off. I never would have been able to keep up with these people without social media.
I am thankful to all of the blog readers and Facebook friends who sent us checks and grocery store gift cards to join with us in cooking and serving the Wounded Warriors and their families. This has been such an honor, and I couldn't have done it without your support.
I am just thinking about the role the internet has played in our lives over the past year, and I'm finding myself incredibly grateful. It is a big part of our lives, but in a good way. I don't know how we ever lived without it now!
Internet, you are like water to me.
It's cold outside.
The heat is running.
So is the humidifier. Ugh.
I'm drinking my favorite coffee (freshly brewed this morning), Starbucks Christmas Blend. I really wish they sold it all year long, then I wouldn't have to hoard it in December.
And I'm eating a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin I made the day before Thanksgiving. (I love my freezer)
The dogs have been fed and they're back asleep. So is Michael.
Ah, yes. The peace that is Saturday morning.
Today, I'm planning to get my Holiday bake on!! I'm planning on making Magic Bars, Chocolate Mint Cookies and Pumpkin Swirl Bread. Well, maybe on the bread. Not completely convinced I have time for that.
I'm also going to continue making my homemade Christmas gifts. I'll share more with you about what I'm making this year, I know last year that was a big hit.
I have SO MUCH to catch y'all up on. Life has been super busy and super blessed around the Ritter house.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
|Christmas gifts behind the tree|
|Hiding the gifts from the "kids"|
Saturday, December 3, 2011
This is the first time I've done this, believe it or not. I am posting this on my phone, laying in the bed. I slept for 8 hours. Quick, some go see if he'll froze over.
What a busy, crazy week of no sleep! It all made for a very grumpy Dana. I wa so tire last night, I cried for no reason, like a 2 year old.
I would love to wake up slowly, have my coffee, browse the web and write this post from my comfy chair in the living room, but there is too much to do today.
Once my feet hit the ground, I am on.
Before anyone sighs, I know I do this to myself. I take too much on. I have been doing this since I was a little kid. I get it honest.
Whatever. I just need a little break and then I will be good to go to take care of the man, the creatures, the home, the newsroom and everyone and thing else that depends on me.
Today will not be a restful day. It will be a fun day though! Baking a cake for the youth cake auction at church. Cooking and delivering meals to the Wounded Warriors. Shopping. Cleaning. (not going to stress over that too much though, I figure I will be off Wednesday when I get back from NYC so I can do a good cleaning then.)
Okay. Well, Brokaw just brought me a Christmas ornament, and Michael just spoke, so I am back on duty. Two fur balls are ready to be walked and fe and someone else is ready for his pills and bowel care and shower.
I don't know how I do it all. It is definitely not always graceful.