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Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Little Update

Good Sunday morning, y'all.
I miss church.

I'm watching my favorite TV preacher, Charles Stanley, right now. I love his simple messages. I always learn from them. Today's message is about guilt.

I probably need to hear a message about guilt every day until I die.
Because I have a guilt issue.
I almost always feel guilty for something.

It drives Michael crazy, because I'm always apologizing for everything.
Sorry about that.
We are all settled in our new place. Everything is unpacked and organized and with the exception of one or two things, in it's permanent place.

It feels great.

I start my new job tomorrow morning. I have no idea what I'm going to wear, because I've been wearing jeans and/or PJ pants for two weeks straight now, and I am going to have to adjust back to the idea of really getting dressed. But, I'm excited about work. I can only spend so much time at home. I was made to work.

Thank you to all of you who have send kind messages and prayed for us after losing Princess. We are on the road to healing. We do miss her - especially at the beginning and the end of the day when we were so used to taking care of her and Brokaw.

Thank you also for all of you who have been praying for us in this transition of moving to Virginia Beach. We have felt your prayers. We haven't killed each other yet.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paw Prints on Our Hearts

Today we said goodbye to our Princess. She was about nineteen years old. I know! Everybody reacts the same way.

Eight years ago a very dear friend and surrogate grandparent, Mr. Gene, passed away. His sweet wife was admitted to an assisted living facility. Their family had to find a place for the family dog.

She was to be a lap dog who could scare off intruders. Gene and Effie came home to a mess one day. Someone broke in and ransacked the place. So their daughter found a Lhasa Apso and named her Princess.

Any of the friends who routinely stopped to visit Gene and Effie were surprised they had a dog and how she came to run the house. We wondered how they all survived as Gene and Effie got older and more frail. He would yell at her a dozen times in a visit, but she was still their girl.

Gene and Effie spoiled Jarred and me as kids. God truly brought them into our lives. Our dad was junior pastor at Olive Street Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. We had relationships with several dear families in that church, but this was a special couple. They came to Jarred's Little League games, watched us when our parents were away, and gave us gifts. They always had ice cream sandwiches and Coke for us to snack on. She would even make us lemon ice box pies. They loved us and we loved them.

When my dad learned Princess needed a home he let their daughter, Jane, know we would take her. At the time we weren't sure how that might work out. I was single, living in east Texas near my parents. We didn't have indoor pets growing up and we didn't know how this would work out, but I remembered the love Gene and Effie showed us and pledged to do the same for Princess as long as she lived.
We took a while getting used to each other. Princess became part of the Ritter family. Mom would groom her or take her to the "beauty shop". To the end, Princess would prance around after her haircut. My home health care providers and friends also took care of Princess. They would run her out, feed and bathe her. Some brought their pets over to play.

Princess and I spent a lot of time outside our Texas apartment. She was ever curious, wandering around at a slow pace sniffing everything. If she found something stinky she would roll around in it. She ran after squirrels with a cute hop that showed them she was boss. She made me push my wheelchair in places I never would have tried most days I would rather just sit around the house.
When I was courting Dana, Princess made her mark. All too often, our calls were interrupted when Princess wandered off. I spent half of the call yelling at the dog. And she usually ignored me and I chased downhill after her. You might imagine how Dana felt about my furry friend.
When I traveled Princess stayed with my parents or friends. When Dana and I married, she came with me. We settled in together: Dana, myself, and our pets. We were nervous how the dogs (Brokaw and Princess) would get along. She wasn't fond of other dogs and he was rambunctious. When he took her toys I worried if they would manage. One day he took her treat and she attacked him, biting near his eye. He understood she had her limits. They had a few more skirmishes over the years, but worked out their relationship, even to the point of chasing each other around the house.
We found our dogs reflected our personalities and still stuck with each of us: Brokaw full of energy and going full-throttle and Princess curious and taking her time to explore. Nowhere was this more visible than our walks. Brokaw will pull ahead chasing everything and Princess drag behind sniffing each nook. They helped us understand each other and ourselves, becoming part of our little family.

Our pups became part of our community too. The kids loved walking both Brokaw and Princess. They would be out for hours. Sometimes their friends would even come over and play.
My mom and I did the math last year, realizing how old Princess was. Dana and I joked she would outlive us. About two months ago Princess had some type of seizure. That night she was limping, favoring her right side. I realized it was likely she had a stroke. Over the next few days she recovered well. Still exhibiting a tilt to the right and some sluggishness, she was remarkably better.
We moved last week to Virginia Beach and our new home is wonderful. In all of the moving we have all had to adjust. Yesterday Princess was acting strange. She was clingy and slow. Dana put her on my lap and I held her a long while. We debated calling a vet, then she had another seizure. We called and went to Acredale Animal Hospital. Dr. Meador took good care of us, giving us the prognosis: Princess probably had a stroke or maybe a brain tumor which may or may not heal.
We came home hopeful Princess would recover again, but as the night went on things got worse. She had more seizures and lost all mobility over time. Dana and I kept vigil all night as her breathing grew more labored and she had more seizures, hoping for recovery or that she would pass away gently. We napped a few hours so we could face the day ahead.

This morning Dana arranged for us to make our final visit with Princess to the veterinarian. She got me ready. Poor Princess was just hanging on. Both Dana and I were sobbing as we drove to the vet with Princess bundled in my lap and Brokaw riding in back. The staff took us to an exam room where we waited to see the vet, consoling and saying goodbye to Princess. Dr. Meador advised us how the euthanasia would go and we discussed how things had turned so quickly.

Dana and I talked and held our hands on Princess' head as the veterinarian administered a syringe of anesthesia. She slipped quietly away in a few minutes. We continued to cry and talk all the way home. As we told family and friends all were generously sympathetic. Arriving home we sobbed, recognizing the reality of life without our Princess.

As we said our final goodbyes our vet asked whether we wanted a paw print. I thought about it. Then, with tears in my eyes, replied, "she has left paw prints on our hearts." And now I share her story with you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting Moved In

We are getting moved in!

Tuesday morning we woke up in Springfield to a house full of boxes and waiting on the movers. We had a few exciting moments looking for pets and a lot of sitting and waiting on the movers to get loaded. Having the place wide open on a cold and rainy day isn't fun, but having three strong guys loading the boxes in the bad weather is the way to go. We took care of them. The movers at American Red Ball did a great job.


Tuesday night we were in our new place in Virginia Beach with boxes filling the living room and closets and naked furniture around the house. The movers set up the bed so we had a place to sleep. Notice the high-capcity washer and dryer and that awesome high ceiling and fireplace.

Dana's "little elves" (practically the whole family) have been helping us move in. They've been building, moving, and unpacking all the waking hours. We have gone from boxes to livable in two days!


The new house is so very bright and roomy. Dana picked up some things to fill the space, but mostly our apartment was so full we've just got room for it now.


We basically have two more rooms and a half bath! Those stairs lead to Dana's space. She will have to give you the upstairs tour and show you the finished space later.

For now, we're home!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

iBloom Book Winner & Saturday Morning Post

Last weekend, I challenged you guys to enter a giveaway by commenting. The winner is getting a copy of the iBloom book, and the winner is CINDY NOEL PEJSA.

Cindy, I sent you a message so we can work out getting the book to you. Yay!

If anyone else wants to jump in on this journey with us, please do. I'm looking forward to a year of choosing to love my life!

Now, Saturday Morning Post time...
Yesterday was my last day at work at CBN News in DC.
You guys - I was blessed and overwhelmed with love and flowers and video tributes, and Georgetown Cupcakes and gifts and people saying crazy nice things about me!

The night before, we were blessed to get together with friends at Busboys and Poets, and it was the most interesting mix of people we love from all areas of our life - work, former co-workers, blog friends, a softball teammate, members of the White House Press Corps. It was so much fun. Even two people I hadn't met in person before!

I had lunch Thursday with David (my correspondent/work BFF/brain mate) at the same restaurant where I had lunch during my job interview to come to DC in the first place - another freaky full-circle moment.

We are leaving DC with a rush and a push of love and encouragement. I feel so loved and favored and blessed.

The state of this apartment makes me sick to my stomach! I can't wait to get settled in our new home in Virginia Beach, unpack, organize, and hang pictures! I love order! It feels like our apartment threw up all over itself.

Last night, Michael told me the clutter is even making him anxious and driving him nuts.
Good to know I'm not alone, and you have no idea how proud I am of him for saying that! :)

I'd like to give my mother-in-law a major shout-out for all of the help she gave us last week. She cleaned and packed and took care of Michael's morning care for four days. It was so nice!

I feel good about where we are. We have three days until we roll out. We are on track, though! And I'm so happy to not feel completely overwhelmed.

Now, to make a list...

Friday, January 11, 2013

On Goodbyes, and Dreams, and Such

I need to write.
I can feel it in my bones.
I ache for my thoughts to become words and for my fingers to tap this keyboard, and for this blank page to fill up.

But, I haven't.
I don't want to.

Because it's hard.
Because it hurts, kind of.

We're moving on Tuesday.

There are boxes piled 7 feet high in our apartment.
There are checklists, and bubble wrap, and e-mails to insurance agents, and goodbye lunches, and parties, and today there will be cupcakes in my office. My mother-in-law has been packing, and cleaning, and taking care of my husband, and sleeping on a futon that is in like a bunker of boxes, near a drafty window.
There is one K-cup in my drawer, a mouse pad, a can of hairspray, and a coffee mug in the space at work where I have lived for the last three years.

It all feels so final.

And like most things in life, you don't realize how great they are, how much you love them, how much you will miss them, until you face that finality head-on.

Like selling a house.
You put in all the work you never did right before you sell it.
And you realize, this is a great house - and you're jealous of the person who buys it, because there is a big part of you that secretly wants to stay.

There is still so much to do.
I need to make copies of keys, and write big checks, and say tearful, mascara lining my face goodbyes. I need to pick up my step-dad from the airport so that he can drive my SUV down to our new home.

But I want to hang on.
I want to drink all of this love that we're being sent of with in, slowly. I want to sip each and every sweet mouthful, taste it, and say grace.

There is plenty about DC that I will not miss - like traffic, and the metro, and parking garages, and people who don't speak English. I won't miss living in an apartment. I won't miss the gate that surrounds our neighborhood that feels like a cage. I won't miss having to walk around with four different magnetic IDs hanging around my neck, feeling like I have to prove who I am anytime I come to work, go to a press event, come home, or get on the train. Like a tagged cow or something.

But, wow is there a lot I will miss, like the sun rising over the Capitol when I'm driving into town. Like my awesome co-workers, who I have traveled the country with so much that I don't think I'll ever forget their middle names or birthdays. Like the hugs of good friends who I know I'm not really saying goodbye to, but I kind of am. Like the thrill of hearing Hail to the Chief, and watching the President of the United States, in person. Like going to White House briefings, and feeling like I'm in a real life version of The West Wing.

Working in DC was my dream when I was a 19 year old college student, interviewing for my first internship in TV news. The main anchor who ran the intern program asked me what I wanted to do, and I told him I wanted to cover the White House.

I am so blessed.
I have lived my dreams.

There is literally only ONE thing that I didn't check off my professional bucket list. Riding on Air Force One. And you know what? I'm not giving up. It could still happen, one day.

In many ways, I'm leaving this dream job to go back.
Back to my hometown, to be surrounded by my family.
Back to local news, where I started this long road of journalistic dreams coming true.
Back to the TV station I watched when I was a little girl, and I first fell in love with news.

I worked there before.
When I was a news baby.
I'll start at WAVY TV 10 almost exactly 10 years to the day of the first time I started there, in February 2003. I was 23 years old. And at that time, I was on a dream track already. Getting that job at WAVY then was my dream. The first step on my list.

Wow, have I been checking things off, since then.

But dreams, you know, they change.
I don't think they die.
But I do think they grow, as we do.

And now, my dreams are different. This opportunity to move to Virginia Beach, to work at WAVY, to be close to family, friends and the people who shaped me into who I am today, is just too good to pass up. I feel like God is smiling down on me, as He leads me down this road.

I feel my heart shifting from a posture of "God - I want this!!!" to, "God, let's do this..." and, I think that's a good thing.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

On Choosing to Love Your Life

Choices.
We make them all day long, every single day.
Some, without thinking about it.
Others, we agonize over and over think.

Lots of little choices add up to a big choice - to love your life.

Man, am I learning something about this! I had a lesson in it yesterday, in fact.

I woke up and took the dogs out. 100% normal.
I came back inside to make coffee. 100% normal.
But then I realized that Michael was sitting up in bed, fully awake. 100% not normal.
I like to have some quiet time alone before helping him. This little tweak in our "normal" sent me on a roller coaster of anger and discontent. I fought it, trying to reign in my unglued emotions.

I was not winning.
I got him up and half way dressed, while having a horrible attitude.

Then, he served me. He rubbed my aching back, and showed me how to do this. How to love first thing in the morning, when you're tired, and you haven't taken care of yourself yet. And, it turned my day around.

It's all about choices.

When I was at Allume in October, I met the ladies from iBloom. iBloom is a Christian life coaching company. Their mission is to help women live lives of passion, balance, purpose and fulfillment.

That sure sounded good to me, so I signed up! Now, I'm an iBloom Ambassador. iBloom will help equip you in each of those areas (passion, balance, purpose, and fulfillment) so that you can choose to love the life that you live.

It's a one year journey, and this book, iChoose2 Love My Life, is your guide. I'm taking this journey this year, myself. If you'd like to join me, I'd love to connect, and go through the book together!
If you go to the iBloom website and sign up, registration and weekly videos are FREE! The book is about $10. Here's the deal. If you want to join me in this journey, COMMENT below. I will buy one person a book, and have it mailed to you! I will choose this winner randomly, from the comments.

iChoose2 Love My Life will give you a theme to work on each week. And it's written in a way that you pace yourself. For example, one week we will focus on being grateful, then forgiveness, being optimistic... you get the picture.

There are 52 of these themes.

I know I need this book.
I know that a new year, starting a new job, and moving to a new town is the perfect opportunity for a little self-assessment. I don't know about you, but I always have areas of my life that need to be worked on!

Here's a cool way that you can join in with a bunch of other women also going on this journey in 2013. We're having a PARTY! You're all invited. It's Tuesday, January 8th at 8:00pm Eastern. Click that link back there to register, it's free!

(Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, which means I will be compensated if you choose to buy the book through the link I've provided. Please know, though, that I would never recommend something that I haven't read and loved myself!)

Remember, if you want a free book, as a GIFT from me, comment below, and I'll buy you a book!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Was Possibly My Favorite Year, So Far

I tend to live in the future.

Not way in the future, just a couple of steps ahead. I can't help it.

Maybe it's the infielder in me, anticipating the ball. Maybe it's the producer in me, anticipating what's two steps ahead, so that my director can be one step ahead, so that my anchors look smart.

I'm not sure. Either way, I don't look back much. Often, I forget to look around during the here and now, but my husband helps me with that.

Today is the start of a new year. I love new beginnings. I'm so caught up in this move, and looking forward to this new job, that our Christmas and New Year have kind of been a fog of boxes, to do lists, unwrapped presents, and deep breaths.

2012 was incredibly good. It really was a year of BIG blessings. Here is how I will remember 2012.

Covering the presidential election. We wrote scripts in hotel lobbies, cabs, rental car shuttles, coffee shops, warehouse floors, and bathrooms. We lugged equipment on planes and campaign buses. I drove a black Suburban (or two) in motorcades, undetected. I got my correspondent a tie to wear for a standup, that belonged to a presidential candidate. We got to know these guys. What an amazing experience not only as a journalist, but as a voter. So grateful for every stop. Freezing in Iowa, chowder in New Hampshire, sweating in Florida, Perkins in Pennsylvania, the rude Starbucks guy in Ohio, and a million Hilton Honors points. Time of my life.
Welcoming my little brother home from Afghanistan. For a year, my mother freaked out every time the phone rang, or a car drove down her street. I don't miss that. So proud of Chris, and his service. I remember that night he came home and we all piled into that hotel room in Syracuse, New York, just looking at each other, and we couldn't stop smiling. And I cried. And Chris made fun of me. So fortunate to have him back, safe and sound.
Embracing ME time. Man, did I fight having to have home health aides come in to help Michael. It's hard for me to understand now, because just like everyone said would happen, I came to love it. Traveling so much to cover the campaign forced me to be okay with it. But the many Monday,Wednesday, Friday mornings when I was in town, and someone would come get Michael up, and help him with his personal care, while I went to work early, or went to the gym, or Starbucks, or Panera were wonderful. It's over, for now. And I'm pretty sad and stressed about it. I'll be back on duty starting tomorrow. This year I learned that I don't have to do it all, and I don't want to either.
Great Falls with Michael. We don't get out all that much, because it's complicated. Hopefully we will do better with that in 2013. But one random Saturday this Spring, we took a spontaneous trip to Great Falls, it's not to far from our house, and it's beautiful. I married an outdoorsy guy who ate this up. I loved experiencing this day with him, having our picnic lunch by the creek, and looking at the falls of the Potomac at the overlook. Wonderful.
Meeting blog readers. 2012 was a very busy year for this blog! It more than doubled in readers, we started a Facebook group, I wrote an e-book (hello! I really should publish that thing), went to a blog conference, so much happened with regard to the blog this year. But my absolute favorite thing was meeting some of our online friends in person. This is us with Heather and Colin at Mount Vernon. We had dinner and lunch and coffee and adventures with many others, as well. I hope to do a lot more of this in 2013.
Arkansas vacation with the Ritters. Michael and I drove from Virginia to Arkansas, which pretty much consists of driving all the way across Tennessee. That is a huge state, let me tell you. We had such a lovely time hanging with his family. The best day was when his entire Ritter side of the family got together. I come from a small family, so I was overwhelmed with all of these Ritters, young and old, getting together. I saw how lucky I am to marry into a huge, loving family.
David's book tour. My partner in crime at work, David Brody, wrote his first book called "The Teavangelicals," and it came out this Summer. Seemingly out of nowhere, I was hired to do his PR. We traveled to New York and Dallas and did LOTS of media for the book, and it was such a fun/crazy time, on top of all of the campaign coverage. It was a huge blessing for me to have this opportunity to learn something new, to earn some side income, and see the inside of the book business up close and personal. Oh, and get Mr. Softee with David on a NYC street corner, eat the most amazing brunch buffet at the Omni, and collect lots of extra Crabtree and Evelyn travel-sized hotel shampoos.
My hair. I had a good hair year. I learned how to do my hair this year, thanks to Kate over at The Small Things Blog. That may sound like a trivial, vain thing - to look back on a year and remember your hair, but if you have ever had that light bulb moment when you know how to make your hair look good, you know what I mean. Good hair changes your life. It gives you a unique confidence. I'm thankful for those You Tube curling iron tutorials, and Aquage Uplifting Foam.
My 24 hours in Annapolis, by myself. Some of my friends and family thought this was radical. Other women in my situation completely got it. I was so tired of everything, I took a break and got away by myself for 24 hours. I drove about an hour away, went to a "beach," went to the mall, went to dinner alone and got an appetizer and dessert. Bought myself a new pair of earrings, and walked around a waterfront, alone. I also wrote the best piece of writing I've ever written. It's amazing what a little margin can do. I encourage each and every one of you to do this, this year. Take a Sabbath, for yourself.
Michael surfing. Do I need to say anything more? I grew up at the beach, and I always wanted to date a surfer. The Life Rolls On Foundation "They Will Surf Again" event in Virginia Beach was amazing. It wasn't easy for my man to catch that one wave he caught, but what a thrill to see him ride it in. And I just love the smiles of all of the volunteers, too. It was such a picture of community, and people working together. It was beautiful. I made some awesome friends that day, too. Can't wait for LRO '13!
*This picture is at the height of my weight gain, which is NOT a highlight of 2012, but oh well. The van. On our way home from that long trip to Arkansas, we started talking about wanting to get a van that is modified for Michael's wheelchair. About a week later, I was in my hotel room in Salt Lake City, and Derek and Krystina called me and told me they wanted to give their van to us! A few months later, they got their new van and gave us the Silver Bullet! I am not kidding, this has been a life-changer! I don't know what I was thinking that I thought it would be okay to lift a grown man in and out of an SUV every single day. I've learned so much. This van makes our life so much easier, and so much more fun! Looking forward to lots of adventures in the Silver Bullet in 2013!
The Joni and Friends Wounded Warrior Getaway. We spent 5 days in Maryland volunteering with Joni and Friends. If I had to pick one highlight of the entire year, this would be it. My heart was so full. I love wounded warriors, I love Joni and Friends, and I love serving side by side with my husband. This picture is from when Michael went parasailing. It was awesome! I went first, and I told him, "you can totally do this!" The beauty was he trusted me, and up he went! When we got back on the ground after parasailing and the boat ride, I was all amped up, pretty much yelling, "WASN'T THAT AWESOME!?!?!!" To which M replied, "Yeah, it was pretty cool." Oh, my calm/cool/collected husband who never gets too excited/too upset about anything, I love you.
Jorden and Kyndall's wedding. I watched my nephew become a husband. I'm so proud of the man that he is, I adore his wife, and I was so happy to see this beautiful day unfold for my sister. She danced with her little boy, and my brother cried. I love my family. We aren't perfect, but we know how to have fun, and how to love. And how to have beautiful beach weddings. :)
Allume. I was so inspired by attending the Allume Social Conference this year. It was amazing to be in a room full of 400 Christian women bloggers, to make new friends, and to learn the lesson that "There is room in God's kingdom for all of us to do something awesome." I can't wait to see where He leads us in 2013.

There is a lot of "new" to go with this new year. New Year's Day 2012 I never could have imagined all of these experiences that we had. What an amazing, super-blessed year! Looking forward to another one.

Cheers.