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A little over a week ago, I got a message that my longest childhood friend had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. Last Saturday morning I got the news that he was not going to recover and he passed away.  I was devastated.  I still am. I am struggling so hard with the grief.

Over the years we’d find each other and stay in touch then we’d drift apart.  It only took a quick catch up for us to pick up where we left off and keep right on rolling with life.  The last text I got from him read, “thinking about you.” He didn’t have children, but I shared our adoption story about Olivia and he was excited about exploring that option to build their family.  That will never happen.   I haven’t seen him since we were in our early 20s and he showed me all over Texas.  We found a bar just across the border that took travelers checks and we drank Corona out of faded bottles and terra cotta glasses.  That was definitely one of the best trips of my life and the memories are as vivid as if it happened yesterday.  I’ve never met his wife, but she has been kind enough to keep me up to date with what was going on and she was gracious enough to accept our special friendship.  I’ll meet her for the first time when I travel to Houston for the celebration of his life instead of the plans he and I started making for next year.

He touched my heart and my soul so deeply.  He was heavy metal and I’m more of a country and 80s girly-girl.  He was a drummer at heart and I can’t keep a beat.  I believe we were soul mates (of the best friend type; not the marrying type) and, no matter what direction our lives carried us, we always found our way back to each other when we needed it.

This week was one of “those” weeks that I would normally lay my trials and struggles on his shoulders and he would encourage me and talk me through them until I was calm again.  So many times I picked up my phone to call him, but I couldn’t.  I long to hear, “Hey, girl… It’s JT” one more time. I only hope he knew just how important he was to me and that I cared for him so deeply.

It’s not fair that he lost his life at the young age of 38.  It’s not fair his wife of a few years is a widow.  It’s not fair his mother lost her son just a few short weeks after losing her mother.  I know God has a plan for his short time on this Earth, but I’m struggling with it.  He had so much love and kindness to offer and was never less than kind, loving and caring to me.  It’s just not fair.

I haven’t had to shoulder this alone.  My friends have rallied around me with kind words and support this past week and I’m so grateful.  One of them told me, “big grieving is an indication of big love.”  It was a huge love and a huge loss.

This picture is from the bar in Mexic0… JT and I are in the middle.  We had no idea who the others were… we met them there and had a blast.

There are a couple of times a year I get all mushy and gushy over things and today just happens to be one of those days.  I never imagined the littlest love of my life would be born half a world away, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Five years ago today we met Yu Si Jia  for the first time.  The scared little girl who cried for HOURS when we first held her is now a happy, healthy, thriving little girl who lights up my life more than I ever imagined.  My mom was right when she told me there was no love like a parent’s love for their child.

Happy Family Day, JiaJia.  I love you.

I’m.Totally.Stoked. about this.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Bon Jovi in concert.  Now if tickets would just go on sale so I can get them and relax.

This past weekend was the Cheap Trick, Poison, Def Leppard concert.  It totally Rocked.  Rocked, I said.  Once more for good measure: R.O.C.K.E.D.  It wasn’t without some amusement, though.  C’mon folks, just because my brain misfires doesn’t mean my snark has completely gone away and I made Will’s eyes roll on more than one occasion.  Shocker, huh?

We bought tickets months ago and had planned on just the two of us going.  I scoped out the pavillion seating and toyed with how much to pay, where to sit, etc. before they went on sale.  I had my coveted code so I could buy early and I had two browsers that each held seats in two different sections and I toggled until I picked one.  No, I’m not kidding.  I was so stinking stressed.  We ended up in the “moderately” priced seats.  (Did I mention the show totally rocked? NO?  It did.)   Well, I ended up with two girlfriends, each with a friend, who bought last minute tickets so we all met up for dinner before the show.  Bless Will’s heart.  He was the tablespoon of testosterone for the night with five women around.  He was a good sport about it and he and my friend M are bosom buddies anyway so I had no concerns about there being an equal distribution of conversation.  When considering buying the tickets, I had to take into account the concert is in August in NC and it’s still hot ’round these parts this time of the year and it is an outside pavillion.  Should I buy lawn seats?  I really, really wanted seats to be closer.  Now, one time we had covered seats and we were the very last row of the expensive seats and the guy who put his feet up on the back of mine paid half the price.  Didn’t want that.  The time before that, it was an August concert and (this next part’s kinda gross) the lady’s leg next to mine was sweating on me and I was so grossed out so we got up and left.  I knew better, but I bought covered seats in hell hot August, anyway.  I was afraid if I bought lawn seats it would rain and who wants to be wet and soggy in the hell hot humidity of August?  Seats it was.  (Useless anxiety, I know…I’m plagued by it)

Insert weather report, “this is going to be the hottest weekend we’ve had so far.  Stay inside and stay cool.”  *sigh*  Wanna know the last time we heard that weather report?  When I caved and we went camping for Father’s Day.  Folks, if you want extreme heat or extreme cold, just tell me to plan something expensive and it’ll happen.  Dang it was hot.  94.  In the shade.

Traffic was a nightmare, of course, and Will refused to drive in the left lane fearing he wouldn’t be able to get back over.  Thank goodness M told us she would let us over in front of her (She was a good 1/2 mile ahead of us).  We were herded into a parking lot at a movie theater that was a mile and a half or so from the pavillion. Yes.  I know!  Since we had to walk out of the exit of the parking lot, Will refused to let’s get back in the car and just drive up to the next one.  (Just so you know, he regretted that decision BIG TIME on the walk  back to the car).  I’m a sissy to heat anyway and my swimmy-headed stuff makes it even worse.  It was hot, people.  I was sweating in places I didn’t know could sweat.  As my friend S put it via text message, “I’m sweatin like a wh*re in church.”

Cheap Trick was great.  Love their music and always have.  Great opener, even though we missed a little of the show.  I’d see them again in a heartbeat.

Poison.  Brett Michaels kept reminding me it has been 22 years since I saw theLook What the Cat Dragged In tour.  22 years since my friend J and I rocked out as sophomores in high school while her dad hung out in the parent’s room at the coliseum.  His jeans were very, very, very tight.  I asked Will, “Can you see that?!?”  Of course he was clueless.  I had to point out the obvious.  Brett’s pants were so tight his package was visible from 3 price levels back!!! Without binoculars and my contacts were blurry from the heat.  However, he did a shout out to our military.  Loved that.  We also did a waving of the cell phones since the waving of the lighters is outdated.

Def Leppard.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Someone told me I would not realize just how much I liked Def Leppard until I heard them live and he was right.  It was awesome.  Sadly, but, at this point in the night, the heat had started to get to me and I was feeling kind of bad, but I still managed to have a good time.  Phil Collen is awesome.  His playing shirtless was a little annoying, but his 6-pack abs made up for it – a little bit.  However, it wasn’t enough to make up for this cowesque chewing of gum.  Holy.Crap.   Imagine the cashier at McDon*ld’s with the big swirled up hair, her 8″ long electric blue nails with the glittery flowa for five dolla popping her gum as she takes your order.  Dude, it was horrible and everytime they showed him on the jumbotron it did me in.  Of course, I had to point that out to captain obvious, too.  I’m plagued by the little annoyances in life.  I can’t help it.  It was a kicking show though.  So very worth it.

A few highlights of the evening:

The guy next to me was so much fun.  Not Will, the other guy next to me.  Not that Will’s not fun, but stranger fun is different fun.  We didn’t talk much, but we shared some snickers as some throwbacks made their way to their seats.   His friend looked just like Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  I  wanted to say something so bad to his friend.  And I would have, but after watching him gorge himself on the cheese covered pretzel in 94* temps (in the shade) with 5000% humidity and swig an $11 can of Bud Light Lime and belch, I opted not to. Besides, I’m sure he’s heard it all before.

We (read: Mainly me because Will didn’t quite find the same humor in it as I did) played “I spy a mullet” and I counted more on women than men.  Of course, the men were sporting skullets.  The smell of Aqua Net was in the air and more air guitar was played than should be allowed by law.  See, since we parked at the far end of the earth, I didn’t risk taking my camera and being rejected with it and the camera on my phone was too slow to capture some of the best moments.  This concert had so many shining examples of exactly why history repeats itself.  Then again, it also had some shining reminders of exactly why I’ve strived to better myself over the years.  The poor beyotches who wore pleather bustiers better be glad they were wearing shredded jeans for ventilation, otherwise, they may have stroked out.  Oh, yeah.  There was one who was barefoot.  With a mullet.  Good times.

Lessons learned:

  • In the hell hot of August for an outdoor show, buy lawn seats so you can actually feel the breeze as it blows by – if it blows.  Even though it may be shoulder to shoulder, go for the cheap seats and spring for the VIP parking.  That additional $30 would have been money well spent and my concert going amigas agreed whole-heartedly.   At 11:15 at night we were still sweating.  Profusely.
  • Spring for VIP parking anyway.  Screw the hike from the interstate. It’s for the birds.  Especially in those sandals that look brand new and you thought you just forgot you had them.  Nope you didn’t forget you had them.  They freaking kill your feet.  Not the heels…the bottoms of your feet so you have blisters and it hurts to walk in socks on carpet.  They didn’t even make it back into the house.  They’re waiting for trash day.
  • I’m not supposed to drink because of the medication I’m on.  I would loved to have taken advantage of my bucket of margarita mix I bought for July 4 that is still staring me down every time I open the pantry, but freezing it without tequila just makes it a popsicle and who wants that?  I sipped a couple of beers at dinner, but my med makes beer taste stale and sodas taste flat.  Wished it made burgers and pizza taste like crap, too.   Being sober is a lot of fun when it comes to watching others. White folk ain’t got no rhythm.  ‘specially drunk ones.  Of course some of us sober ones don’t either, but still.  Singing along? Oh yeah baby….Like Mar says, “loud and proud is the only way to be.”  And I was they were.  You could have cemented the lid on my bucket and I couldn’t have carried a tune, but I belted out every lyric I knew…and some I didn’t, but I was in good company.  And that is always fun

We had a great time and I’m glad we went.  Was great to see M and she is doing fantastic from her heart surgery.  She still has some days where her chest gets sore, especially if she’s been sick and coughs a lot, but the best part about it is she is she was there.

Tonight I purgeed all the stuff I’ve been hanging on to “just in case” that playmate Fabul-O wants somehow materialized.

Know what fell out of the bag?  The first pair of jammies we put Fabul-O in while we were in China.  (Ya’ll thought I was gonna say something about there was another kid gonna take up residence at Chateau L, didn’t you? Silly folks) No, I didn’t keep them, but I couldn’t help but feel a little teary-eyed over it.

Almost 3-1/2 years ago the gorgeous little brown-eyed girl who refuses to spell Bingo right when singing about Farmer Brown and his dog and blames her farts on the nearest creature, including stuffed animals, joined our family.  Where does time go?

Three years ago today.

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This was my blog post from February 15, 2006

Well, today’s the day we’ve been waiting for. We’re leaving for China. As I type this, Will is in bed trying to get some z’s before we have to get up at 3 a.m. to leave for the airport at 4. It’s going to be a loooonnnng day. Of course adrenaline has me up. I tried to go to sleep at midnight and that lasted for about a whopping 20 minutes and here I am. As I was laying there I kept hearing my heartbeat in my ears and I swear it sounded like it was beating a million times a minute. If I can’t sleep, I might as well be productive. I have two hours and forty-five minutes before the alarm goes off.

I have one bag under the weight limit at 32.5 lbs. and it is the one with ALL of Olivia’s clothes, blankets, clothes for the orphanage, etc. How? Well, we went to the Army-Navy store and bought a military duffle bag. It has no weight to start with and it was cheap $16.xx. We have one but it is military green and has US Navy stamped on it and we felt kind of odd going into China with military insignia so we bought a black one. It’s loaded to the gills – and under weight. The other one…well, not quite so lucky on it. It was at 55 lbs and we decided if it was going to be over, then over it was. We’ll pay. I stopped tonite on my way home from work and bought a new light weight suitcase that is 1″ bigger and expands 2″…our other was just a 29″ not expandable. Holy smokes…this rocked. I repacked and realized that I still had room left! So I gather more goodies and rearrange the carry ons and am stoked with all the room I have left. I zip it up, put it on the scales and weigh it. It’s up 10 lbs. Sheesh. So then I turn around and behind me is all of our socks and undergoodies that I didn’t repack in the new suitcase. That’s where all my free space came from. I’m thinking now I wished I would have bought 2 of the duffle bags and been done with it. So, I took out the new loot, put in the necessities and strapped her all up. DONE. Loaded and ready to go.

This will be my last post until Beijing. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We can always use them and can never have too many. I can’t believe I am five days away from meeting Olivia face to face. How cool is this….

Until Beijing…

Susan

I can’t believe three years ago we left on a trip that would change our lives forever and I don’t just mean being parents.  From the people we met, the food we ate and the sights we saw.  It was hands down the trip of a lifetime.  By the way, it was really hard trying to tell someone who spoke no English that I forgot my hairbrush.  Collectively, we had 40 pairs of underwear, but no hairbrush.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

(Waving madly at you)  Sorry I’ve been MIA.  Life moves at warp speed!  But I’m here now so I shall begin the updates….

THE outfit update:  Has been located in closet in Tennessee.  UPS call tag will be issued to have said outfit returned to me.  Yippee! 

What did I do about the wedding?  Ya’ll axed it…here it is.

Decided on Plan-B outfit. Ya’ll know how I lurve me some Plan-B.  Cute black skirt with white embroidered pattern and a white twinset.  P.e.r.f.ec.t.  Yeah, okay.  No pantyhose.  I know what you all are saying, “Ewww!  I hate pantyhose.”  Yeah, well so do I, but my legs are so pale they could almost be deemed translucent.  At least this option would give me a faux shade of healthy color.  So, then it was on to Plan-C, which turned out to be a good thing…you’ll hear why later.  Plan-C was a pair of pin-striped slacks and aforementioned twinset with my favorite black loafers (not a heels chick, either). 

Will looked nice in his slacks and shirt; he was spared the tie.  Olivia’s frock was pressed and gorgeous, but she got changed in the gas station parking lot on our last potty break.   During said break, Will bought me a Twix and a Diet Coke.  Well, I was wearing a white top so I made extra special care so as to not drop chocolate on my sweater.  I didn’t!  As I was getting Fabul-O out of the car, he screams, “You have something on your butt.  What.Did.You.Do?”  I answered him in my it’s-so-freaking-hot-and-she-won’t-get-away-from-the-dirty-tires voice, “I.Don’t.Know.  You have been with me in the same car for the past two hours.  What could I possibly have done?”  It turned out it was his fault.  Remember the Twix bar he bought me? Well, apparently a hunk of chocolate fell, unnoticed, between my legs on the seat and the last ten minutes of my drive were just enough to bake it nicely into the seat and into the back of my pants.  Woo-hoo!  One baby wipe and some Sprite later, my pants were not noticeable, but the chocolate arse print on my car seat?  Well, let’s just say there’s an appointment in my future to have the interior cleaned.  So we make it into the church for the wedding.

Olivia freaked out – I think mainly because of the pipe organ.  I held her close and after the bridal party and bride marched in, she decided, “I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE.”  (That will be cute when they watch the wedding video, right?)  Before anyone gets on the “you’re so rude, child at wedding, blah, blah, blah wagon…Yes, we were at the back of the church just in case something happened and it was a big sanctuary and I checked with the bride to make sure it was okay if I brought her since we were headed to visit our friend who is deploying afterwards.  Two potty breaks, one round of negotiations, and swiping of every piece of literature the lobby had got us back to hear the last part of the ceremony.  Why didn’t we take something to keep her entertained?  Sweating in the 9000 degrees of the afternoon sun scraping chocolate off my tushie caused me to forget it and it was quite the hike back.

The bride was someone I went to high school with.  So, I figured there would be someone from high school I knew there that would give me someone to talk to.  There was one.  I thought I recognized her, so I asked her name. (I’ve been out of high school for 17 years and see very few people from that time in my life and we’ve not had a reunion of any sort)  Okay, so we’re at the elevator heading down to the reception and we start chatting.  I gasped.  She was wearing my PLAN-B skirt and the outer layer of my twinset – the same one I was wearing.  She spiced hers up with a red tank and some super cute shoes.  So I was actually glad to have worn my Soprano-esque pants.  Can you imagine: Seeing her for the FIRST time since graduation and we show up at a wedding wearing the.same.thing.  I wouldn’t have re-introduced myself. I would have hung out by the punch fountain.  (Dudes and -ettes: I LURVE me some green wedding punch)

Fabul-O ate more butter mints and peanuts than should be humanly allowed and sucked down the great green punch and then professed her utter hatred for anywhere but home.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the receiving line and bee-lined.  We talked for a minute, had a piece of cake and had to hit the road; we had dinner reservations with our other friends in a town two more hours away.  We pimped Uncle D and Aunt T until she collapsed from the sugar high.  Will and I had slight melt down on the interstate, but we managed to pull it together and had a wonderful evening with lots of love from the kids and a great dinner.  Good friends, cheese fries, blooming onion, bread, butter, and a big ‘ol plate of pasta with shrimp swimming in Alfredo sauce.  That makes for a wonderful evening.  Big hugs and not wanting to let go, we said our good-byes and hit the road.  This was a combined brain child idea.  We left home at 11:20 a.m.  It was now 10:20 pm and a solid 3 1/2 hours from home.  Collectively, we had this wonderful idea: The likelihood of us going to bed before 1 a.m. was slim and none and we’d have to get up super early to drive home because Will was going to have to work for a few hours on Sunday anyway so why not just drive home Saturday night.  About 20 minutes into our trip I was out.  Will woke me up 40 minutes later to tell me he was tired and I needed to drive.  So I did.  Thank goodness for iPod, XM and random radio stations.  So, we covered about 465 miles on Saturday in our whirlwind round trip.  We did get to sleep a little late and actually got about the same amount of sleep had we stayed over so it was good.

D begins his deployment journey in single digit days.  We wish him all the best and we want T and those fantabulous kiddies to know we’re right here if they need us. 

Not one single picture taken all day.

Obviously, updates are working backwards, but I’m pleased as great green wedding punch to have accomplished this one.

Three days until Prom 2008. I’m way excited; admittedly, more than I should be. It’s been 18 years since my first prom and I know I was no where near as excited as I am now. I think Will may be a little irritated that my excitement runneth from my ears. Hey, can’t help it, but, I must say, he is being a pretty good sport about it. When we made the grandiose plans to go this year (Ummm – about 15 minutes into it last year) who knew he would have Guard duty twice this month. He needs to blame his command, not me. Besides, he’s driving and shooting tanks. How cool is that? I know, not as cool as the prom, but still pretty nifty.

My tickets finally arrived yesterday after I’ve irritated the dickens out of the people. I checked the postmark; March 27. The kicker: The envelope was opened. Apparently, my mail carrier mis-delivered them to someone who failed to realize their name was not Susan L living at my address and was expecting something from the organization and they plundered through my envelope, but everything was in there. Whew. I must give kudos to the organizer who never raised a question about not receiving the tickets and already had made plans to have them available for me at the event. Thanks for that!

I have three dresses to choose from. Why three? I couldn’t narrow it down to one, obviously. I like one better than two. Will likes two better than one and we are both on the fence about three. So, I’ll let my date decide.

I’ve got my checklist and am working my way through it:

Shoes. Check.

Accessories. Half check. Can’t finalize until I decide what dress to wear.

Hair appointment. Nope. I need to have ye old roots touched up, but if I go in for highlights they will want to cut it and I’m not about having a haircut three days before the prom. Gah. Couldn’t do it sooner because I’m not a fan of my hair spontaneously combusting risking damaging my hair because it’s dried out from the extra bleach less than six weeks after the last time I had it done highlighting process done too soon.

Dinner. At the hotel – they don’t accept reservations so we’ll just have to cross our fingers, I guess. To ensure our safety, we will be staying at the hotel that night. I didn’t get the fancy negotiated rate for the affair, but it’s cheaper than any alternative as a result of driving home. Not saying I would be irresponsible, but it’s not me I’m worried about. Plus, the hotel is renovating TWO floors at a time and it took me about 3 weeks to get a room. Now the ones that are available are way more expensive than mine, so I guess all is well.

I’ve been practicing shaking my groove and Olivia tells me, “Mommy. That not look right? You being a silly goose.” A critic at such a young age.

Bottom line…3 days, people.

**********

And, yes.  I’m referring to is as prom just like I’m 17 again.  Only this time, my dress is MUCH bigger and hair much smaller.

This is part of the subject line of an email I got from Old Navy today. These shoes were horrible in the 80s and it looks like they’ll be horrible again. Apparently, they’ve been on a comeback for some time now. Those who know me know I’m no fashionista, so maybe it’s me who has the problem. Not the creepy, flimsy shoes that make your feet sweat and stink to high heaven that when you take them off, the pattern of the shoe is outlined in the street dirt you kicked up. Can’t wait for spiral perms and reindeer bangs to make it back. Oh, can’t forget: bubble skirts, blue mascara, slouch socks with hi-top Reeboks, Esprit, Swatch, Lacoste, Members Only, parachute pants, banana clips, jelly bracelets, Jordache jeans with the bow above the zipper on the back of the legs and stirrup pants.

Ya’ll know I’m not hating on the 80s. I think hair bands are the greatest thing that emerged from them. Just some things don’t need to come back, is all.

For the record, Crocs are so not in the same category as Jelly shoes and shame on you for thinking it.

It’s What Day?!?

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