"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."
-- Unknown

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Test results and a huge hamburger

So, remember the whole "part of me is aching to be there for him" bit from yesterday's post about my dad? Well, that part won out and (thanks to my wonderfully understanding boss) I left work around lunch-time and came to Birmingham to be with him.

I got to the hospital before they met with the last doctor, and she was gracious enough to let me stay in the room while she talked to my dad and stepmom about his test results.

It seems like we were able to get a few answers yesterday, but in the long-run, those answers only led to more questions. I'm not going to go into all of the details here, mainly because it's not my body and I don't want to go splashing my dad's medical info all over the web. I'll just say that we're not quite out of the woods yet.

But we should know by June 10 if he's approved for a transplant, and Michelle's test results should be ready in about 2-4 weeks, letting us know if she's a donor match.

And on a lighter note — after we left the hospital we went to eat at a place called Five Guys. I had never heard of it, but apparently they are pretty famous for their hamburgers. Holy cow. That was the biggest, messiest, greasiest hamburger I have ever eaten. But it might also be the best. Ever. And their fries.... WOW. They hand cut their fries daily and they have a sign on the wall by the door that tells you where the potatoes came from on that particular day. Yesterday they were from Driggs, Idaho. Sixteen hours later, I'm still full.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A full day of tests

Well, Daddy had to be at UAB's Kirkland Clinic in Birmingham at 5:30 this morning for a full day of tests. Today is the day we’ll find out if he’s a candidate for a kidney transplant. (Click here to read why he needs a transplant.)

Sometime before 7:00, my stepmom said they had already drawn 15 vials of blood. Good grief. That’s a lot of blood, folks.

From what I understand, he’ll undergo several tests today and then sit down with a panel of doctors who will review his results with him in detail.

I found out a bit of good news yesterday. Daddy said that if the doctors discover he’s eligible for a transplant, they’ll immediately test Michelle to see if she’s a donor match. We could know something in as little as two weeks. That would be such a relief.

I know that he’s busy with tests today, and that even if I could be there, I probably wouldn’t get to see him very much. But y’all, part of me is aching to be there for him. I’m having such a hard time focusing on things at work today – I can’t keep my mind from wondering how things are going in Birmingham.

Once again, I’m counting on y’all to keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Be the change

Weekly writing assignment from Mama Kat: What is your life's anthem? You know...that song that is ALWAYS in your head. The one you'd go to sing first if someone told you to sing a song right NOW. What is it and what does it mean to you?

This is tough. I have songs for pretty much everything – and like my moods, they change daily. I couldn’t possibly pick one and call it my life’s anthem. That’s just not fair to all of the other perfectly good songs out there.

But I will share today’s song with you. Today has been one of those reflective days for me. Maybe I’m thinking too much, or maybe I’m just not getting enough sleep, but it seems like a lot of people out there want radical changes. For our world, our country, our way of life. But instead of actively trying to make a difference, most people sit around and wait for someone else to do something for them.

That’s why today’s song is “Be the change” by Corey Smith:

Open your eyes up people, and take a good look around,
Catch the tears fillin’ up all those cracks in the ground.
Turn off your televisions; leave your picture perfect neighborhoods,
A lot of folks out there ain’t doing so good.

Too many of us left out in the cold…
No invitations given, no welcome mats unrolled.

But you can be the change you wanna see.
Be the hope to those whose lives are far from easy.
Reach out and lend a hand, share everything you can,
And be the change. Be the change.

Carry the world on your shoulders, for a little while,
Put on someone else’s shoes, and walk a mile.
So many cups runneth over, while so many goin’ dry.
The grass ain’t always green on the other side.

There’s still a lot of work to be done.
A lot of wrongs to right, a lot of battles to be won.

If you can be the change you wanna see,
Be the hope to those who lives are far from easy.
Reach out and lend a hand, share everything you can,
And be the change. Be the change.

Reach out and lend a hand, share everything you can,
And be the change. Be the change.

I love this – the whole idea of it. It’s perfect. Corey has the right idea. We should all do our best to be the change we want to see.

So how ‘bout it? Why don’t we quit waiting on someone else to make a difference and just step up to the plate?

America's Next Top Mommy has some excellent ideas on how to do just that. Go here if you need help finding ways to get involved. And if that's not enough to keep you busy, check out Be the Change, International.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend recap: Part II

As promised, here are a few pictures of my precious little cousin:

Adorable, right? I think so.
Also, I didn't realize until I started reading your comments, but I made quite a pig of myself this weekend, didn't I? Looking back at the post, I see references to pizza, Japanese, Italian, Mexican and Krispy Kreme... and I wonder why my body isn't quite swim suit ready this summer!!
And I somehow neglected to tell you about my little run-in with the law yesterday...
Shortly after I got off the interstate in Georgiana, I heard a lovely gagging/yacking noise coming from my backseat (where Toby had previously been napping). In my concern/horror/disgust, I turned around to make sure he was okay, only to see him spewing multiple piles of vomit all over the floorboard. Well, apparently in the short time that I was distracted, the speed limit dropped from 50 to 40 to 35 - and guess who neglected to slow down? Yep.... the Po-Po got me. And he obviously could not have cared less about the multiple piles of yellow puke that were accumulating behind my seat. So on top of scrubbing doggie vomit off my floor mats, I now get to pay a speeding fine. Nice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Home from a fabulous weekend

After a wonderful weekend, I'm once again home in Andalusia.

If I thought I missed Birmingham before, the last three days only cemented that feeling in my heart.

Friday night was spent lounging around the house with my family - eating pizza, laughing and catching up on some Tivo. (They had still not watched the season finale of American Idol!) After once again seeing my boy Adam walk away without the title, I turned in and caught up on some much needed rest.

Saturday morning I went to Montevallo to spend the day with Brooke - my long-time best friend and old roommate. Brooke and I met when we were 10, and despite our many differences, we're still as close as ever.

I know I promised plenty of pictures from the weekend, but I got so caught up in enjoying the moment, I didn't actually break out the camera. But see if you can imagine this:

Picture two friends sharing a plate of spicy tuna rolls at a Japanese steak house. Sitting in front of the hibachi, watching the chef make volcanoes out of an onion. Trying in vain to catch food in our mouths as it's flipped off the grill - watching it hit the floor as the chef laughs and tells us to try again. Picture us talking and cutting up like it hasn't been six months since we last hung out. Like no time has passed at all.

Later that afternoon, as Brooke got ready for work, I made my way over to my friend Chris's house. Again, no pictures... so try to use your imagination:

Picture good friends catching up after more than a year of not seeing each other. Playing multiple sets of Rock Band after a yummy dinner at the San Antonio Grill. Laughing and promising each other it won't be another year before they hang out again.

Sunday was another great day. After sleeping in, I went to visit my cousin Jen and her precious little family. She and her husband Marcus are fabulous, and together they have the single most adorable child in the world. I actually did manage to take a few pictures of Deano the Bambino, but my camera is in my car and I'm entirely too lazy to go get it. I'll post them later, I promise. After Dean went down for his afternoon nap, Marcus snuck out to fish while Jen and I sat around and talked about a little bit of everything - from music to our similar experiences with loser guys and their lame-o pick up lines (and everything in between).

That evening I spent a little one-on-one time with my step-dad. After striking out on three different restaurants, we finally found an Italian place that was open and we proceeded to stuff our faces with some of the biggest calzones I've ever seen. Afterwards, we may or may not have hit up Krispy Kreme for some chocolate covered donuts. Back at the house, we watched Seven Pounds (which was so sad) before calling it a night.

I have to admit - I was pretty sad when I had to come home today. I never have enough time to see everybody while I'm there. I'll definitely have to go back again soon.

Until then, it's back to the daily grind...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Headed to the Ham

After work today, I will be taking my happy butt to Birmingham for a few days. And while I’m not looking forward to the two and a half hour drive, I am excited about seeing my family and friends.

Tomorrow I’m having lunch with my long-time bestie, Brooke. I haven’t seen her since my birthday way back in December, so we’re long overdue. I’m sure we’ll have plenty to talk about.

My only other real plans include going to see my fabulous cousin Jen and her cutie-pie, Dean. I can’t wait to see what new tricks he’s learned since I last saw him. I hear he’s running and climbing stairs now. Jen and Marcus must have their hands full!

I’ll be back Tuesday with plenty of pictures, I’m sure.

Have a wonderful weekend and don’t let Memorial Day pass you by without remembering all of the brave men and women who have served our great country.

Photo from democracycellproject.net

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Time for a getaway

Weekly writing assignment from Mama Kat: Put an outfit together using pictures you found online and show us what you'd LIKE to be wearing today. (inspired by Lace)

Well, how bout that? Good thing I just recently discovered Polyvore, huh? Since I don’t have much to really blab about today, I figured I’d make you suffer through another one of my would-be outfits:

I wish I was wearing this today – for obvious reasons. Mostly because it would mean I was at the beach with my man. And I can think of no place I’d rather be right now.

Thank you all for your supportive and uplifting comments yesterday. I didn’t mean to sound quite so pathetic. I know these feelings won’t last. Maybe I need a beach getaway to take my mind off things?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy? So-so...

Diane posed an interesting question on her blog yesterday. She wanted to know how many of her readers were truly happy with their life and how many weren’t quite there yet.

And it really got me thinking. See, overall I’m a pretty happy person. I try to be positive and remind myself numerous times a day how very blessed I am. I have a loving family and a wonderful job that I was able to land just out of college. (Literally – I started the day after I graduated.) I am able to support myself and occasionally splurge on things that I want. I don’t have to worry where my next meal is going to come from, or if I’ll be able to pay my rent next month. I have a fantastic church family. I have someone who loves me unconditionally. I have so many things to be happy about…

So why do I find myself so down some days? Why do I feel so restless? There are days that I find myself so overcome with self pity that I find it hard to function. I know I have a good life, but some days I want more. I want excitement. I want a change of scenery. I want friends my age. I’ve been here a year and have yet to make many strong friendships. In a lot of ways, I still feel like an outsider. I miss being near my family and I miss seeing Kevin. Once a week just isn’t enough.

I joke about my boring life a lot, but in reality it’s not that funny. I leave work at 4:30 everyday and spend the rest of the day completely alone (with the exception of Toby). It might be different if Kevin didn’t work nights in another county. Maybe we could have dinner together a few times a week. But as it is, I find myself alone the majority of the time. And it gets old.

I’ve really been missing my friends from back home. With the start of summer, a lot of them are going to different outdoor concerts and spending weekends by the pool. They see each other after work and go to baseball games. They grill out and watch movies. I miss having people to hang out with.

But enough of that. I know how very blessed I am to have a job I love. I know things will get better. I’ll eventually find my place in this town. Kevin and I won’t always live an hour and a half away from each other. Things will change. I know. But I can’t help those feelings that keep creeping up – reminding me off all the things I miss about my home town.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Just what I need... another thing to waste my time

Well, thanks to Lacey over at Lacey in Love, I have a new obsession. See, Lacey does this thing called Fashion Friday where she "de-funks" different bloggers' fashion. Every week, she comes up with these adorable outfits, complete with accessories - and until recently I had NO idea how she was putting them all together in a cute little collage. Well, I finally clicked on one of them (duh- the obvious answer) and it took me to polyvore.com. Holy cow, guys... how much fun! You can browse pages and pages of pants, tops, dresses, rings, bracelets... pretty much anything your little heart desires. Then you just drag and drop them into a a little box and arrange until you're happy with the way it looks.

Here are a couple of examples of the fun I had yesterday:

At the office
At the office by bama_girl_84 featuring Juicy Couture Accessories

This one is for work. Note the iPod and coffee that is needed to get me through my day.

And this one:

Lazy day
Lazy day by bama_girl_84 featuring Old Navy Clothing

Well, this one is the perfect lazy day set up. PJs, books and my favorite candy...

Y'all, I'm addicted. The coolest part is it breaks it down item by item, telling you how much each thing costs and the Web site you can go to if you want to buy it.


Okay... just one more and I'll leave you alone so you can go play!! This is just a casual weekend -sitting around, strumming my guitar (that I still can't play...)
Untitled by bama_girl_84 featuring Monsoon Accessories

Monday, May 11, 2009

A play, a book, some sunshine and a movie: My weekend in review

Wow. You guys were a busy bunch of bloggers this weekend. I went down my blog list, clicking on each new post and somewhere around 32 my Internet Explorer decided to call it quits. You froze my computer! It couldn’t process the overwhelming number of posts that I have to catch up on. I’ll have to try again later.

I trust that you all had a fabulous weekend and a well deserved Mother’s Day (if that applies to you.) Mine was everything I could have hoped for.

Friday night, my friend Kelley and I grabbed some dinner at a local place called CJs. Its one of those cute little neighborhood grilles, right off the town square. Great atmosphere and even better food. Then we headed over to the theater to see the play “Lying in State.” And you know what? I didn’t find it all that risqué. Not that I’m that surprised. Sure, there were some choice four-letter words, references to exotic dancers and one character who was constantly strung out on some form of prescription pills (pain, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety… a combination of them all) But you know what? It was pretty dang funny. Oh, and after the play, I may or may not have consumed a huge, chocolate-dipped waffle cone from Dairy Queen before calling it a night.

Then there was Saturday. Glorious, divine, wonderful Saturday. I slept in until I absolutely could not stand to lie there any longer. Then I grabbed a pitcher of ice water and parked my lazy butt here:

With this:
My hand looks freakishly large there... weird. And it doesn't even look like it's attached to me.

Its no hammock, but it definitely proved to be a comfortable enough retreat. And it would have been perfect, had I not forgotten one important detail. Unlike books, Kindles need to charge. Especially when you read them for prolonged periods of time. Obviously, mine had not been plugged up for quite some time and about five minutes into my relaxing Saturday, my screen went blank. Great.
Lucky for me, I have a stash of books on my bookshelves that I’ve yet to read – so when I went inside to plug up Mr. Kindle, I grabbed this off the shelf:

And I am so glad I did. Like every other Palahniuk book I’ve read, Lullaby is crazy good. I still have a few chapters left to read, but I’m sure there will be some insane twist at the end that will leave me speechless. It’s a story about a culling song that appears in a common book of poems. When read aloud, the song kills anyone who hears it. A journalist who is investigating strange deaths among children comes across it and (through trial and error) discovers that it doesn’t even have to be spoken aloud. With strong enough intent, someone can kill just by thinking the song. I’m not going to tell you anymore. Trust me when I say it’s well worth the read.

Here is where I throw in the disclaimer that I always use when talking about Palahniuk: He’s not for everyone. His style is brash, often vulgar and very twisted. Dark comedy at it’s best. If you prefer a lighter, happier read – look elsewhere.

After a few hours outside, I decided that 92 degrees was a little too warm to lounge comfortably much longer. So, I retreated inside, to the cool bliss of the air conditioner and an afternoon filled with House DVDs. I told you I was going to be a bum this weekend.

Sunday was pretty great, too. Church, followed by an afternoon with my boy. We lounged around awhile, then grabbed some Mexican (and maybe some more Dairy Queen) before going to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I’m not sure that it was as good as the others, but it definitely gave a little more insight into the mind of one of my favorite characters. I’d say it was worth the ticket price. (Not that I even know how much that is…Kevin never lets me pay for anything. I think he thinks I’m poor.)

So there you have it. An incredibly long breakdown of my fantastically lazy weekend. Maybe next weekend will be more exciting... or maybe it will be a carbon copy of this one.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I've been crowned

The fabulous Sally over at Sally’s World has crowned me “Queen of ALLL things!”

Isn’t that spectacular? I get a crown! Just what I’ve always wanted. Thank you Sally! I will try to be a fair and just ruler.

Upon accepting this honor, I have to tell you seven “Awe-summm” things about me:

  1. I am scary-good at word searches. I don’t know why. I guess my brain is used to making sense out of a seemingly jumbled mess.

  2. I’m a scavenger in the kitchen. I tend to skip recipes and throw together whatever is available. My latest creation was a box of Velveeta shells and cheese, mixed with a can of stewed tomatoes and a can of chicken. It was delicious.

  3. I try to speak to everyone or at least throw them a friendly smile. This includes strangers in the grocery store. And I get upset when they don’t smile back

  4. I am very forgiving. I tend to look past people’s faults and let go of the past. Sometimes I wind up getting hurt because of it – but that’s just who I am.

  5. I’ve grown up A LOT in the last few years. I look at the some of the things I did or said in the past and have a hard time believing that was really me. I know they say you shouldn’t have regrets – you should treat past mistakes as a learning experience – but I’m so glad those times are behind me now.

  6. I have an impeccable memory. Let me clarify that. I can recall exact places and conversations like no one’s business – even things that took place years and years ago. I can recite conversations word-for-word. I remember the exact layout of a house I haven’t been in since I was six. The list goes on. However, I have a terrible time remembering little everyday things. Like where I left my keys.

  7. I have been blessed with the best friends and family anyone could ever ask for.

    Now it’s time for me to pass the crown to another deserving Queen. And I choose:

    Kelly at My Voice, My View: Kelly is a wonderfully talented writer. She’s sweet, funny and always puts her family first. So here ya go, Kelly. Wear it with pride!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An island daydream

Weekly writing assignment from Mama Kat: Time for a trip? Where are you headed this summer? Or where would you go if you COULD?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any exciting summer trips planned out (as of yet.)

But that doesn’t stop a girl from dreaming.

In fact, there are several places I’m itching to visit.

Such as:

Ah, yes. Fiji. I figured I should dream big. After all, I’m just over an hour from Florida’s best beaches. If I’m going to dream of a beach vacation, shouldn’t it be to somewhere I don’t see on a regular basis? Yes. I think so. I can almost feel the warm, Fijian sun shining on my beautifully bronzed body (this is a dream…remember?) I can feel the glorious sand between my toes and see all of the little fishies swimming around in the crystal clear water. I hear the palm leaves overhead rustle as a tropical breeze rolls off the cresting waves. I feel the condensation trickle down my ice cold bottle of Corona and hear island music lazily drifting up the beach from a local bar.


If only.

You know, I actually had more destinations in mind, but now I seem fixated on this particular daydream. I can’t stop imagining the calming sound of waves as they break upon the sand. So on that note, I’m retreating to my island fantasy – where, if only for a moment, I’m sitting by the ocean with a cold drink in my hand and a smile on my face.

Weekend plans...or lack thereof

Oh, man. I am having the hardest time getting myself back into a routine. Today is the second day in a row I’ve had to pull my towel dried hair into a ponytail while running out the door. My mind is scattered, my body feels exhausted and I can’t seem to get a handle on either. I try to focus with very little success. I try to sleep but find myself restless. I think I need some “me” time.

And that’s exactly what I plan on having this weekend. I know Sunday is Mother’s Day, but Mama and I have discussed it and I intend on sitting my butt here in Andalusia and catching up on some much needed rest. This will be the first weekend in SEVEN weeks that I’ve been able to stay home and relax. I’ve put over 2,000 miles on my car since I got the oil changed April 3rd. And my house is a mile and a half away from work, so it’s not from commuting.

Friday night, my friend Kelley and I are going to grab some dinner and see a play. And I honestly don’t even know the name of it – I just agreed to go. She said it’s a bit risqué, so I’m wondering what I signed myself up for. Should be interesting. Although, I have to wonder what’s considered risqué in small-town Alabama. Surely we’re not talking about nudity – I don’t see the citizens of Mayberry allowing that one. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve yet to see anyone walking around Wal-Mart that’d I’d give money to see naked. In fact, I’d pay a few of them to wear more clothing – or at least clothing that fits properly.

Anyway…moving on…

I’ve decided that I might not even change out of my pajamas on Saturday. Seriously. I might find a comfy spot on the couch to park my rear end and catch up on some reading. It’s supposed to beautiful here this weekend though – if I only had a hammock. Then I could be lazy outside. And maybe get some much needed sun. I might have to find one by this weekend. I can picture it now… me and my hammock, my trusty Kindle and a cold beverage (or two). Talk about the perfect day.

What about y’all? What’s your idea of a perfect Saturday? Relaxation or something more exciting?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

You will be missed...

When I wrote this, I never imagined it would be printed and distributed to visitors in a funeral parlor – to family and friends who lovingly paid their last respects to a man who had a profound influence on their lives. I never imagined the sheer number of people who would read it and tell me how accurately it described their father, grandfather, husband, brother, uncle, friend...

Instead, I hoped that the man for whom it was written would make a miraculous recovery and read it when he returned home from the hospital. Unfortunately it did not work that way.

Mack Harvie Reed - a strong, generous, loving man - passed away April 30 in his ICU hospital bed in Mobile, Alabama.

After much heartbreaking deliberation, the family decided to take him off the ventilator Thursday morning. The doctors had taken away our last glimmer of hope, saying he would more than likely never wake up from his coma. And if he did, the chances of severe brain damage were very high. He’d never be the man we remembered. His quality of life would never be the same.

At 5:30 Thursday evening, after seven hours without breathing assistance, Grandpa was gone. As I tearfully watched him draw his last breath, I tried to find peace in knowing that he was no longer in pain. Still, the sadness was almost overwhelming.

The next few days were filled with family stories – a mixture of tears and laughter as we remembered the life of a wonderful man.

Grandpa had a beautiful military funeral yesterday morning, complete with a twenty-one gun salute. Local Marines presented Grandma with the American flag. As I stood there in the rain, listening to the final notes of Taps, I couldn’t help but wish he was there – if only to see the number of people who showed up to say goodbye.

Although we’ll no longer get to see his face or hear his deep, baritone voice, I know his spirit will live on in the values he instilled and the memories he helped create.

Grandpa – we know you’re in a better place, but we sure will miss you.