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Happy New Year, dear reader.  I don’t know about you, but for me 2013 was the longest year ever…yet I still can’t believe it’s over.

 

Our little family went through a lot this year, and I won’t rehash it all for you now, but I feel like I’ve aged a lot in this last trip around the sun.  But with feeling a little older comes the sense that I’ve (hopefully) grown a little wiser too.  I’ve learned that I can handle a lot more than I think I can; that I am indeed and old fart; and that while I’ve always had cats, I considered myself to be an animal lover, and that now that we have a dog I am 100% convinced that I am a cat person to the core.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the newest member of our family, but gosh he sure is needy!  I’ve learned that grief is a funny and sometimes unpredictable thing.  I’ve learned that my definition of love from just 5 years ago was so shallow and uncomprehending…I cannot wait to see how that definition changes and grows in the years to come.

 

And I’ve learned that when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, less is more.  Last year I had 4 items to check off my resolution list.  One was absolutely completed, one was completed twice, one was completed 3/4 of the way but had to stop because of circumstances beyond my control, and the last one, my resolution to blog weekly, well, you know, when life got hairy I just put that priority on the back burner.  But I choose to be proud of the accomplishments I made this year, nevertheless.

 

What about you?  Did your 2013 go according to plan?  Did you even remember your last New Year’s Resolutions? Last year was hard, and I know the coming year will be too…but I, for one, cannot wait to embrace 2014 and everything that comes with it.  I’m so very much looking forward to something new.

three weeks

Yes, I know.  I haven’t posted anything in the past 3 weeks.  I’ve missed 3 Tuesdays of new blog posts.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  Because the last 3 weeks have been jam-packed full of family and friends, food and fun, and I just haven’t thought twice about opening my laptop.

 

So please forgive me.  I fully intend to resume my blogging schedule, if not by next Tuesday, the week after.  But right now, I’m enjoying our time in SC.  How I love being home for the holidays :)

feed me

On any given day, Trey and I are awakened by whining cats banging against our bedroom door, howling for breakfast.  Most days it’s fine, but 6am on a Saturday is just not breakfast time.  Since Roger is on prescription cat food, we can’t just leave their food sitting out.  So our fur babies have four distinct meal times throughout the day.

 

Years ago, Trey started talking about building an automatic feeder that could be programmed for each animal – to keep Roger away from the food that makes him sick, and to keep the other two away from Roger’s extremely expensive prescription food.  He drew diagrams, bought RFID chips to test, and planned and mentally designed this feeder for about 3 or 4 years.

 

Two weeks ago, on a flight either from or to a conference in Kansas City, Trey was perusing the Sky Mall magazine and what did he find?  An Automatic Pet Feeder.  But it wasn’t perfect…what it did do was shape his phrasing for a Google search that led us to the Auto Pet Feeder that is currently serving our felines four courses a day.  I’m not gonna lie – it took a few days for them to get the hang of it.  And it took me a few days to not worry about how much they hate (or genuinely seem to not notice) the collars they have to wear now so the RFID tags can open the doors to the feeders.  But even as I type this, I can hear those mechanical doors opening to let Frank enjoy a mid-morning snack.

 

This is going to be a HUGE help the next time we have to go out of town!  And it’s pretty awesome not to get woken up by the wailing and gnashing of teeth that ensues when three very hungry kitties come to tell you it’s time for breakfast.

 

new normal

Things in the Hendon household are slowly but surely getting back to normal.  The dining room table and china cabinets are back in place; privacy curtains to the dining area have been taken down, washed and folded; we’ve realized that we can all leave the house to go out to eat together; and life is starting to go on.

 

And yet, it’s different.  While it’s nice having things back the way they were, there are some things that will never be the same.  And it’s a strange feeling.

 

But for the most part, we are still amazed and blessed by God’s peace.  It has made this season of our lives endurable…and that is an amazing gift.  So I won’t say that things are getting “back to normal” but that our lives are shifting into a new normal. And even though there is pain and sadness associated with this “new normal,” I have to admit that any form of normal right now just feels…nice.

peace

Thursday night, huddled close to each other around the hospital bed that has been in our dining room since June, Trey, his mom, his sister Lori, and I watched Pop take his final breaths.  Robin was on the phone with us the whole time as she and her family were driving to us from their home in Washington DC.  It wasn’t like I thought it would be.  It was impossible to determine the exact moment of his passing because it was that peaceful. For a long time, I was genuinely concerned about the effect Pop’s death would have on me – would I be able to eat at our dining room table again knowing that a man had died there?  Would I be able to be everything Trey needed me to be while dealing with my own issues of being overwhelmed by crowds and clutter when his family arrived?  I can’t explain it any other way than our house and our family were covered completely by a peace that passes all understanding.

 

 

The chaos that comes with 14 people trying to get fed and dressed and expel energy seemed to be blurred – almost as if it were in slow motion.  Amid everything that needed to be done, there was peace.  There was time for hugs, and some pretty deep conversations with young nieces who were missing their Pop.  They had even wanted to search the house to make sure we weren’t hiding him anywhere.  There was laughter and tears, and lots of joy.  Because I think we all were dealing with the sadness of his passing, mixed with the relief that this very difficult season is over and the joy in knowing he is no longer bed-ridden and he is singing and dancing in Heaven with Jesus and all those who went before him.

 

I cannot express enough gratitude for the love and support we have felt over the past few days.  We have been fed and cared for, we have been hugged and supported, and we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have reached out to us this past weekend.

 

For those who haven’t read it, here is the link to Pop’s obituary. Right now, we’re planning two additional memorial services: one in Beamont, TX for Pop’s family and the churches they served while they lived there, and one in Spartanburg, SC where Deb’s family is and where Pop’s ashes will be interred.  We have tentative dates scheduled, but they will of course be contingent on when Pop’s ashes are returned to us from the funeral home.  My prayer is that each service will be more and more of a celebration of his life (and that’s going to be tough to do, because this past Sunday’s service was amazing). I know that after a very long road, Trey and I are looking forward to putting Pop to rest in Spartanburg, and taking a few weeks of rest for ourselves to spend with friends and family.

 

We love you all and cannot thank you enough for the prayers, support, hugs, food, and love we have felt.  Thank you.

top ten

Did you miss me?  I missed a week…I know.  But the first night of our vacation we were laying on the beach and decided to add another day.  So…in honor of our awesome getaway, I’m giving you a list of the top ten best things (in no particular order) that happened while we were in Galveston!

 

 

We walked on the beach and held hands.  I know that may sound cheesy, but we’ve never done that before!  Trey and I had, up until last weekend, never been to the beach together.  And it was awesome.

 

IMG_1032Crazy animals.  Okay, I found this entirely more entertaining than Trey did, BUT we saw:  3 donkeys, a herd of buffalo/bison, an honest to goodness ox, about a gazillion pelicans, a jelly fish, a really super cool snail.

 

IMG_1020Food.  The diet went out the window…and it was awesome.  We ate: chocolate covered pecan toffee, Jordan almonds, steak with bacon and goat cheese, mashed potatoes, funnel cake, fried alligator, lots and lots of fried shrimp, carrot cake…and I know there was more.  OH!  And we did the Spoetzle Brewery tour in Shiner, Texas.  So add lots of beer to that list of Leslie’s favorite foods :)

 

Death Metal Skateboard Serenade.  So, late Monday night, we were walking along the seawall and we hear this noise coming up fast behind us.  It was singing – like whiny nasal “punk band” sounding singing.  And just as our soloist cruised past us on his skateboard, the song turned to scary death metal grunt-screaming…which he performed full out and doubled over as he wheeled down Sea Wall Blvd.  I don’t think I’ve man-laughed that hard, and that unexpectedly in a long time.

 

IMG_1052Pleasure Pier.  Okay, I know I already said funnel cakes, but they really do deserve two nods, don’t you think?  Pleasure Pier is a Landry’s-owned theme park, you guessed it…on a pier.  Think tiny version of Coney Island. We rode roller coasters, we went upside-down, we ate junk food, we watched the sunset over the water, and we muttered “we’re too old for this” more times than we could count.  It was awesome.

 

Blind ambition.  So, with our day pass to Pleasure Pier, we also go into the ride at Rain Forest Café for free.  So what did we do?  We decided to walk there.  From Pleasure Pier.  2.5 miles soaking wet (from the Pirate’s Revenge water ride) and in flip flops.  But hey, we did it.  We were freezing and sore and we’ll never do it again, but it really helped burn off those funnel cake calories.

 

Cable.  I know, I know.  I said it.  But we’ve only had cable once in our 5 years of marriage.  And for a long weekend, it was nice to flip on the tv and decide between Mad About You, Storage Wars, and Interview with a Vampire.

 

Ikea.  Yup – your favorite Swedish housewares store and mine.  Even though we didn’t buy a thing but hot dogs and a cinnamon roll, I love a good excuse to kill a few hours in one of the meticulously designed living spaces.

 

Road trips.  Seriously, we rock at road trips.  Trey lets me stop to pee as often as I need and we typically have the same tastes in car music and snacks.  I love spending a few good hours in the car with my hubby.

 

IMG_1066Rest.  Honestly, you wanna know what we did most on this trip?  We sat.  We lolly-gagged.  We curled up on the couch.  We laid in the sand.  We sipped fruity drinks in rocking chairs overlooking the water. I can’t express to you how utterly glorious it was to just rest.  To not have to go anywhere and do anything at any time other than our own.  Ahh :)

getaway

Today, what was supposed to be a routine trip to the bank and the grocery store turned into a delightfully relaxing getaway. I picked up some lunch while I was out and decided to take it, and my book, to River Road Park for a quiet meal. Not only did I end up finishing my book, but I took a nice long stroll along the water’s edge where I met several overly enthusiastic geese. I’ve seen over 100 turtles today and one thing I’ve learned is that turtles are scaredy cats!

Life has been pretty stress-filled for the past few (year and a half) months and one thing Trey and I have truly come to appreciate is the afternoon getaway. They can be more refreshing than you know. And with the addition of our patio lights we installed last weekend, we’re looking forward to some back yard evening getaways as well.

Even more than that, we’re looking forward to our four day, three night getaway this weekend for our anniversary. Friday is our 5th wedding anniversary, and we’ve been through a lot in those five years: good, bad, and ugly. But we’ve grown so much, and we’re stronger and more solid than I ever thought was possible.

And we’ve never been on a proper vacation…excluding our honeymoon. Seriously, never.

So, from Friday through Monday, don’t call, don’t text, don’t even think of interrupting our much needed and anticipated mini-break. Because this couple is in desperate need of a getaway. :)

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smut glut

I’ve been on a big reading kick lately. But after some heavier material, I decided to go for an old friend from my college days: the trashy romance novel.

Sure, the writing is mediocre at best, and the character development usually stops at “washboard abs” or “desperate, smokey eyes,” but there’s something relaxing about getting lost in someone else’s drama that can’t possibly concern you.

Yes, escape is good :)

hopes and dreams, and skinny jeans

I want to be a mom. That should come as no surprise…come October, Trey and I will have been married for five years, it’s about time we started a family. But with two mortgages and two long-term house guests, we don’t have the financial or emotional stability to even consider it.  And some days it just feels like the whole world is having babies except me. And some days that’s more okay than others.  Yes, this is your polite hint to stop asking when we’re going to have children.

 

But while our lives are on hold, we know there are some things we can do to prepare ourselves for the eventual day when we get to think seriously about starting a family. One of those things is getting control of our health. In our two-plus years in Texas, I’ve gained over 15 pounds…10 of which were in 2013.  But since August 1st, I’ve lost 12 (woohoo!).  Trey and I are both watching what we eat (portion sizes and calorie counting more than a specific diet), and we’re both running.  In fact, I ran 6 miles on Saturday…and that’s pretty freakin’ awesome.

 

You know what else is awesome?  I was cleaning out some old Rubbermaid bins a couple of weeks ago and found a stash of clothes that I put away because they were too small and I got tired of feeling depressed every time I looked in the closet.  Just for fun, I pulled them out on Sunday to see if any of them fit.  I didn’t try all of them on (I know I’m still a long way from a size two), but I did try on my jeans.  I haven’t worn a good pair of jeans in a long, long time.  And if you know me at all, you know I’m a jeans girl to the core.  And, even though I’m going to make myself wait another week or so before wearing them out in public (that should give me another pound and a half of wiggle room), I now have three pairs of jeans (two size 4s and a 6) that are gonna look awesome on me now that fall boot weather is kicking up (FINALLY).

 

Maybe it’s that life has been really tough here lately, but fitting into those long lost skinny jeans was about the best thing since sliced bread.

zapped

Sunday night, around 10pm, Trey’s sister Lori rolled into town. We spend the next hour or so loading up her van with all the boxes of his mom’s that the movers didn’t take and finally made it to be around midnight (way, way, WAY past my bedtime). Then Lori and Deb left around 5am Monday morning for South Carolina so Deb could receive her shipment from the movers who packed up all her worldly belongings back in June. All this to say that for a full seven days Trey and I are taking care of Pop on our own. Sure, hospice will be in and out, but for the most part, it’s just us.

While the day to day tasks of caring for Pop aren’t difficult, we’ve discovered that the emotional stress is definitely…heavier. We’ve had a very difficult time waking up at a decent hour, and we’re even more zapped of our energy (something I didn’t think was possible).

But we’re trying. After sleeping in yesterday and today, we at least both got a run in (me around 9:30 this morning, Trey’s out running as I type). And I have to tell you, it was rough. But I felt immediately better afterward. But then I took a two hour nap.

I guess, what I mean to say is, we’d love your thoughts and prayers this week. For strength and energy, wisdom and peace. Thanks guys…it really means a lot.