Celebrating in Edited Style

A couple days after my dad’s birthday, there was another birthday to celebrate.  My grandmother was turning the big 8-0, and we knew as a family that we needed to do something more than just a cake and a big happy birthday.  We had started planning months before the big day; we had people involved, we had a location secured, and we had a food plan.  What we hadn’t planned on was my uncle losing the lower half of his left leg in a motorcycle accident on June 10.

It was around 9 PM, and my uncle decided to ride into town on his motorcycle, just two or three miles down the road.  My dad said that if he could have foreseen what would happen, he would have driven to his house and slashed his tires.  On his way back, my uncle’s motorcycle was clipped by a woman in an SUV who apparently didn’t see him (how do you not see an on-coming headlight?!).  I won’t get graphic with the rest of the details, but his lower left leg was severed on scene and everyone considered it a miracle he’s still with us.  After numerous surgeries and a month and a half in the hospital, he was finally able to go home at the beginning of August.  His struggle is anything but over, but going home is at least one little start.

Needless to say, this whole situation put a damper on our family, and as a secondary thought, the party planning.  It certainly took an emotional toll on everyone, so instead of pushing everything along and acting like we’re all in the mood for a large room of people, we decided to have a smaller party, one that would involve my uncle in his new rehab hospital he was in at that point.

So what is a girl to wear to a surprise party at a hospital?  I thought something festive but casual.  Something like this:The tank top is from Gap Outlet for $5 (on sale at the time), and the skirt was from Goodwill for $4.99.  The hair flower was something I had already made for our wedding rehearsal dinner back in 2010.  The colors would work well with the party attitude, and the skirt made it a little more formal.  I paired it with navy blue flip flops to round out the casual vibe.  The party was pretty successful.  Tons of Chinese food and cake were eaten, presents were opened, and my grandmother was surprised.  Was it the party we wanted to give her?  No.  Definitely not when compared to what we originally had planned.  But sometimes life needs to be edited in order to celebrate what you have.  Sometimes you just never know.  So we celebrated a big birthday and celebrated being a family. 

That’s what’s important.

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Castle Out of Boxes

The vagabond lifestyle is not for me.  Traveling?  Yes.  Constantly moving and having your belongings not in their places where you can reach for them time after time because everything you want to make seems to call for those pesky measuring cups you stupidly packed away two days too early?  Not having it.

This is currently our living situation.

All of our stuff is crammed into boxes, bags, and the random hampers that lived behind our living room door.  It will probably be like this for a day or two.  Today, though, is the day it all makes a journey.

Today, we move to Massachusetts!

It’s taken me a while to come around to the idea of moving, not because I hate the idea, but because I love the people around me.  My coworkers spoiled me in the past couple days, not to mention how wonderful they have been for the past two or three years.  We have laughed, we have cried, and we have determined that we are not necessarily all going to heaven.  Our family lives here.  Our pets (who all live with our parents) live here.  One of my best friends lives two doors down the hall from our apartment.  I love the outdoors.  Why on earth would I want to leave?

Well, for the adventure.  This is a time where we are married, but we don’t have the extra responsibility of dragging kids along with us.  We also need to do it for B.  This is a time for him to play with his professional dreams and succeed in his own endeavors.  Moving back to Maine wasn’t something he thought he would be doing, but he did it for me to be successful in teaching (and paying back some loans).  It’s time.

So, with our parents’ trucks, our two cars, and a moving van loaded down, we bid Maine adieu for now.  Of course we’ll be back for visits (though everyone keeps talking about Massachusetts as this super far off place where no one ever returns).  Here’s to adventure!  See you again from a place a little bit more southern!

Cool Running

Best movie from the 1990s, right?  Okay, definitely one of the best.  Who doesn’t love a Jamaican bobsled team?

To answer your immediate question, no.  I did not join the Jamaican bobsled team.  They told me I was just too see-through in the winter and my accent was off.  Better luck next time.

I did, however, knock another one of my goals off from my 30 Before 30 list.  I ran not one, not two, but THREE races this year, and I frickin’ ran them.  Sure, there were definitely a few moments of walking, but I didn’t do it that much.  Maybe a minute or two here or there, and certainly less than a mile total per race.

The first race was the one that meant the most to me.  I was running it by myself; no one else was buddied up with me, and I wanted it that way.  I do a lot better when I can set my own pace and pick out people in the crowd of runners to beat.  You in the pink hat?  I don’t like the way your ponytail is swinging.  I’m going to beat you now.  Dear dude ahead of me, you kind of smell from back here.  Peace out.  It was even worse when I knew the guy who stunk during the third race… side note:  I was related to him.

The race started bright and early on a relatively cool June morning.  It was the morning my seniors would be graduating from high school.  It was an emotionally loaded day.  B made me some toast and peanut butter, put together with a side of aspirin to help control the feeling created in my throat when I run.  (I have been told this may be part of asthma, maybe not.  Super helpful, doctor people…).  I put on my new running shoes and jumped in the car for the short drive to the registration area.

I wore a t-shirt I made with my colleagues for Winter Carnival two years ago.  It was the first t-shirt I had with my married name on the back.  This would be the first time I got to achieve a running goal with my married name.  It sounded like a good combination.  And, of course, I had to wear my pink running shorts.  Who doesn’t want to run in those.

My mom and dad came to cheer me on with B.  My mom wonders where some of my cousins and I got the running motivation because no one in her set of siblings runs.  I haven’t the foggiest.  We just have goals, and some of them involve running.

When the race started, I wanted to make sure that I paced myself to run most of it.  There were little kids running the race in bare feet.  This race took place through the downtown areas of TWO CITIES.  Note to self:  When I have kids, they will not run races in cities with bare feet.  No.  The first song on my iPod to randomly play was Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger.”  Thanks for the pep talk, Kelly.  Much appreciated!  I didn’t end up walking until a little after the second mile marker.  Not too shabby.

The end was a little rough, but as I rounded the last corner and ran along the river portion of the course, my iPod decided to have a sense of humor again.  Anyone remember this somewhat inappropriate song?

How did my mom let me listen to this when I was 14?  Questionable.  Very questionable.  Either way, it came on for the “liquid” part of my race finish.  I kicked it into gear for the rest of the race, and ended up coming in with a time that surprised me.  29:48.  I was under a half an hour!  Sweet!  Oh, and yes, I will take some water now, thanks.After getting the first one in, I wanted to see just how well I could run the Four on the Fourth (a race in our hometown on the fourth of July).  I told B we would be running the first mile, and then we would only separate at the two mile marker.  Well… once I started running the first mile, I was gone.  Sorry, hunny.  I walked a good portion of second mile to wait for him, but he never showed up.  So I ran.  And walked a little.  And ran some more.

And guess what?  For the first time, I beat B.  By three minutes.  Do you know how long three minutes is?  When it’s the first time you beat your husband in a race, it’s a frickin’ long time!  I was pleased.

The third race wasn’t so great only because I didn’t pace myself correctly and blew it.  Womp womp.  But I finished, and I am still glad I ran it.  You can’t beat your time every single time, right?

Running is turning into something nice for me, and I can proudly say that I have proven my high school field hockey coach wrong.  Oh so wrong.  She said the last day of field hockey practice my senior year would be my last day holding a stick.  She also said that I just wasn’t cut out to run.  You know what?  Now that I am 26, I can confidently say, “Suck it.  You have no idea what you are talking about.”  Happy early early early early 30th birthday to me!

The First Man in My Life

Today is a great day in the B (and, of course, H) household.  Today, 52 years ago, the first man in my life started a life of his own.  Today, my dad turns 52! 

B and I got together with my parents and my grandmother to celebrate with a picnic on a local hill that overlooks the nearby mountain ranges.  Absolutely gorgeous.  What is even better is the man we celebrated today.  My dad has always been my hero, even though I haven’t always thought about it that way.  He has taught me how to be strong in my convictions, not be afraid to go against popular belief, and hold my own when it comes to getting quality service, especially when it comes to cars.  Yes, I am a girl, and no, that doesn’t mean I should be taken advantage of because I supposedly know nothing about cars.  During wedding planning, he wanted to be a part of anything I asked of him, and he always made sure that B had a say in the decisions we were making (he always did).The man made dozens of crepes at my bridal shower.  He has tried hard to understand field hockey and all of its rules and whistles.  He let my sister and I put his hair in pigtails.  He wrestled with us and didn’t back down just because “we were girls.”  He fixed our Barbies by making them wooden prosthetic arms, and when prosthetic parts didn’t work, he made them wheelchairs.  He’s been on our side, and while we didn’t always see eye to eye on topics, we can agree to disagree.He’s the best dad, and I am so lucky to have him as my dad.  Happy birthday, Dad!  Here’s to another 52 years!  I love you!

Where in the World is My Wife?

I’m sure B has asked himself that question a few times over the last couple months.  I have definitely hit the road a few times, with and without him, in and out of state.  Travel is my mistress, and I don’t care if loving her is wrong!

So beyond our trip to Ohio to check out OSU, B and I have tried saving a lot of our money because of our upcoming move.  But you better believe that when an opportunity to get away for very little cash came up, I jumped on it like it was a runaway horse.  Wow, I am full of metaphors and similes tonight.  We’ll roll with it.

One of the first trips I jumped on was going to New York City with my seniors.  Every year, the senior class goes on a trip somewhere as their senior trip during senior week (yes, everything does need to be labeled with “senior”).  Last year, I joined in on a trip to Six Flags New England.  This year, the class went somewhere new, somewhere bigger, somewhere called New York City.  Many of my students hadn’t ever been out of Maine or New Hampshire, let alone outside of New England, so it was exciting to show them a new place.  We went all over the city; they discovered street food (though they refused to eat anywhere without running water at first), they discovered the subway (some where thrilled, some swore they would never ride one again), and they learned that people in New York really can be nice (there’s a rumor going around that sometimes they, well, aren’t). 

Then, of course, there were the many, many, many trips back and forth between Maine and Massachusetts to interview and do sample lessons for jobs.  But those weren’t really picture-worthy, and no one probably wants to hear about that.  I know I certainly don’t want to drive that much for quite a while.

B got to join me for the next few trips.  He and I went to my friend Kristin’s wedding at the same mountain where we got married and had a blast!  The wedding was gorgeous (as were the bride and groom), the band rocked, and we had such a good time getting back to such a special location for us as a couple.

And then… Bestie Alana came to visit!  And we. went. everywhere.  Holy cats.  The first part was Vermont, specifically the Burlington and Waterbury regions.  Then she and I went to Lowell to visit Bestie Alexandra and her husband Jimmy.  A beach day to catch up together was in order, and we all came home a little pink.  Throw in some time in our hometown for Fourth of July and some day trips here and there, and you have all of the trips we have been on.  It’s been a little tiring, but totally worth it!
What trips have you been on lately?

Location, Location, Location: Buy The Pound Goodwill Warehouse and Haul

Things you get to buy by the pound:  fruit, veggies, candy, meat… clothing?  Clothing!  This past weekend, B and I took a trip to have a new adventure:  to find out what the deal was at the new Buy The Pound Goodwill warehouse in Gorham, Maine.  I have been reading news bulletins from Goodwill about it for the past month and a half as they geared up to open the facility, and I have been so excited to check out how it works.  Plus, you know it’s going to be an adventure.  When B found out there was a bunch of books up for the snatching, he was in, too.  Cue a Saturday day trip!

We arrived at the center around 2 PM and didn’t drag ourselves myself out of there until around 5 PM.  I had no idea we had been in there for so long!  In those hours, though, I came to the realization that someone who is new to the thrifting game should go in with some tips… some major tips, if they want to find the goods and survive.

Tip #1:  Be patient.  This is such a big one.  The clothes (men’s, women’s, and children’s), the bed linens, random scraps of fabric, everything cloth related is thrown into big bins with no system of organization.  You have to dig, people!  You can’t just stay on the surface and expect to find the great clothes.  Most of the time, the clothing that’s on the top has been picked over by everyone else who has come through, and if it hasn’t been snatched up yet, there may in fact be something wrong with it.  Maybe not, but it makes you wonder why no one else wanted to pick it up.  The shoes also aren’t tied together, which can equal lots of time trying to find the matching shoe.  I decided to give up on that when I couldn’t find a match to the coral pump I had in my hand.  Be patient, dig through the bins, and know that your effort will probably be rewarded!

The bins!  So much clothing!

Tip #2:  If you like it even a little, grab it (politely, of course!).  If you like it, put it in your cart (see tip #3).  Things go so quickly and can get piled under clothing so fast that you can totally lose all of the clothing you thought you liked.  If you like it, put it aside for yourself to try on later.

Tip #3:  Get a cart.  In the typical Goodwill or Salvation Army stores, I try not to get a cart.  It encourages me to pick up more than I want to.  At the Buy the Pound store, however, a cart is a must.  They weigh your purchases in a cart, so you have to have one at the end anyway.  A cart is also great because you can throw anything you like into it and try it all on at the end.  It was also super helpful to get a second cart when trying on your finds because then you can put everything you liked into the new cart, throw what you didn’t into the bins, and keep what you still have to try on separate from everything else.  B was the genius who thought of that one!

Tip #4:  Be polite to the other Buy the Pound shoppers.  Now, this should be a life rule anyway, but the other shoppers can be a real asset when it comes to shopping a store where clothing is all mish-mashed in bins.  I was asked if I wanted to “rotate” or “switch” so many times while checking bins.  If you are working on digging beside someone else, instead of butting into their space when you’re done, you can ask if they want to switch places with you.  You get a new location without being awkward about moving into it.  The other shoppers can also tell you what looks good on you (they did) and you can return the favor (I did).  You help them, they help you.  Everyone wins!

Tip #5:  Bring a cross-body purse and don’t wear your coat in.  These two pieces will keep your hands free, which is important since you’ll be digging through bins with both hands.  You want to make the search as easy on yourself as possible.  When you go to try on clothing, not having a coat will be helpful so you don’t have to lug around other clothing.  Plus, you may get a little warm when you’re digging if you have a jacket on.

Tip #6:  Bring a friend.  The one real downside to the Buy the Pound warehouse is that there aren’t currently any mirrors or dressing rooms for people to try on clothing.  The sales person did tell me that they were going to hang some mirrors, which is super helpful, but it’s also great to bring a friend.  While the clothing is super cheap, you want to know that you’re bringing home clothing that looks good on you.  B was such a help on this, and he is getting really good at communicating what he likes and what he doesn’t like.  Make sure your friend is honest!

Need a friend?  This guy would like to be yours!

Tip #7:  Make sure you give yourself a couple of hours.  I honestly lost all track of time when we were there.  You get so into the digging that you never think to look at a clock.  Leave yourself more time than you would typically give yourself at a standard thrift store.  It’s not organized, so make sure you leave some room in your schedule.

Tip #8:  Bring hand sanitizer or wet wipes for after.  Yes, this sounds a little gross, but think about it.  These clothes may or may not be washed before they make it to the warehouse.  (Don’t freak out, you can wash it when you get home!)  Since you’ll be digging through huge bins, your hands may get a little dirty.  Have some way of washing them back in your car, and you are good to go!

With those tips, you could find some excellent pieces!  I definitely saw a bunch of true vintage pieces, and I even picked up a couple.  This is what I found and snatched up:

Free People Blue Button-Up Mini Skirt:  Retail: $78.00Vintage Lora Lenox Black Structured Medi Dress:  Retail: ~$50Just look at the adorable ruffle detail on the hip!True Meaning Tan Tweed Jacket: Retail: ~$90(No Brand or Tag!) 1980s Purple Dolman Dress: Retail: ~$40New York and Company Black and White Stripped Hoodie Pullover: Retail: $34.95Kilburne and Finch Brown Geometric Tie: Retail: ~$15.00Cream Crocheted Sweater: Retail: ~$20Judy Bond Jewel Tone Green Blouse: Retail: ~$25Savannah Petites Navy Blue Blazer: Retail: ~$30 (Forgot to take a picture!  Oops!)

Nan Hadden Studio Plum Cropped Cardigan: Retail: ~$30Alfred Dunner Petite Sweater: $37.00Like the cream colored sweater, this sweater also has a great knit pattern to it.Banana Republic Black Tie Sweater: Retail: ~$50Mossimo Pink Sweater: Retail: $17.99Gap Orange V-Neck Sweater: Retail: $26.95L.E.I. Silver Pants: Retail: $21.88Colorifics Purple Clutch: Retail: $33.95 (before having it dyed!)Nine West Yellow Leather Purse: Retail: $79.00 (See above)

Gray and White Tote: Retail: ~$15.00 (See above)

Assorted belts: Retail: ~$15.00 each – Retail: $60 TOTALBooks! Frankenstein: Paid: $0.25 / Retail: $6.99, The Canterbury Tales: Paid: $0.25 / Retail: $8.95, The Body of Christopher Creed: Paid: $0.25 / Retail: $6.95, Antigone: Paid: $0.25 / Retail: $6.99, and The Norton Introduction to Literature Anthology: Paid: $0.50 / Retail: $70.99 – Retail: $100.87 TOTALSo what did we pay for all of this?  Drum roll, please!

TOTAL:  $15.45!  That’s it!  Just $15.45!  The clothing, belts, and purses weighed 10.5 pounds, so we got it for $1.29/pound.  While this location doesn’t take the Goodwill discount card, you can’t beat this type of deal.  Let’s compare, shall we?

Goodwill Total:  $15.45                                         Retail Total:  $855.59

SAVINGS:  $840.14

I think this new Goodwill location is a winner!  Have you visited a new Goodwill location lately?