Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hey new guy, wanna marry my sister?!?!

I'm not sure how I could possibly be more excited for two people than I am today. Last night, one of my best friends asked my sister-in-law to be his wife, and she said YES!

I want to put it out there right now that I am completely at fault for this beautiful union. Haha! Yes, they will both tell you how often I have told them over the last two years that I want a special mention in both their wedding program and during their wedding toast.

So let's see.... it all started about 5 years ago. A great group of friends at the SRWC (the place where ALL Kent relationships and friendships are formed) were walking out of the building after working our weekend afternoon shift. Mark, future brother-in-law, was just leaving as well. Mark had just started working there, and didn't really know many people yet. So, feeling guilty for the lonely new guy, I shouted out something to the effect of "Hey new guy, we're going to Olive Garden, wanna go???" Mark said yes, and from then on, our friendship was solidified.

Mark and I realized early on that we were friendmates. What is a friendmate, you ask?? Well, that would be a person of the opposite sex that you know instantly will be a really, really good friend (but nothing more..... his "soulmate" would come along a few years later). It was just understood that we were buds - we had so much in common, and over the years we have proven our friendmate status by always saying the same random thoughts at the same time.

Fast forward a few years. I have become very, very close with my sister-in-law Lindsay since Jon and I started dating. She and Kenny welcomed me into the family with open arms, and I was so excited to be able to call them my sisters once we got married. So as a sister, I (like everyone else in the family!) was never particularly thrilled with Lindsay's choice in men.  She is a gorgeous, compassionate, giving, and sweet girl, and nobody that she dated ever seemed to be good enough. As her roommate for about a year, I would shake my head and just wish that one day Lindsay could find her prince charming.

In 2009, BStaw and I were in the process of trying to convince my friendmate Mark to move to Columbus. He was living about 2 hours away at the time, had just become single again, and didn't have a whole lot binding him to his current city. And since Brian and I are notorious for convincing people to make life-altering decisions, we figured Mark should be the next one to bite the dust. I mentioned this plan to Lindsay, and she pointed out how cute she thought Mark was and how innnnnteresting it was that he was single again. Oooh, the wheels in my head started turning!!!

I covertly arranged a "Let's Move Mark to Columbus!" weekend, and I coincidentally invited Lindsay out. The two of them hit it off right away, and it was so cute to watch the sparks flying. They were dating exclusively within the month, and Mark made the move down here a few months later. I am taking TOTAL credit for both the introduction and the move to Columbus :)

At our wedding in May of 2009 those two had only been dating for a few months, but I think they both knew it was something special. After the ceremony, our officiant asked if we had witnesses to sign our marriage license. The only two people around were..... Lindsay and Mark. I grabbed them and had them sign it. I shouted out loud and declared "Ok guys, it's foreshadowing!! One day I'll be singing your marriage license!"

And now, it's really happening!! I am just so happy for these two. They bought their first house this weekend, and things are just falling into place for this wonderful couple. After everything they have been through, I am happy to see that they have found their perfect match in each other. I love you both - I cannot wait for your special day!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Thanksgiving was hard, and I know no one can blame me for not feeling particularly "thankful" this year, but despite everything, I am reminded EVERY single day of how lucky I am to have this wonderful man as my husband.
So this year, I am most thankful for every person, place, and event that helped the stars align in order to bring the two of us together.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Weekend Getaway

A few weeks after our loss, Jon and I decided that we needed a "weekend away." A time for the two of us to get away from all of the sadness in our house and spend some time together. Since he had just started a new job and couldn't really take any time off, we had to go within a 4-hour radius of home.

So we decided to go to a University of Michigan football game. All of my friends that are Buckeye fans are groaning right now. But don't hate my husband... he is a very loyal fan, and his excitement over their success makes me happy. He is like a little kid in a candy store when he is watching them play, and I love watching him cheer on a team that he has loved since he was 5 years old.

So we drove up to Ann Arbor on Friday night and stayed at my favorite hotel chain, the Hampton Inn (a HUGE thank you to McNolte for hooking us up!) A quick aside: Hampton Inns are thebomb.com. Huge, comfy, clean beds, really nice bathrooms, and a breakfast buffet... what more could you ask for?!? I am easily pleased....

After checking in, we went out to explore Ann Arbor... yeah, there wasn't much. However, we did get to sample some local cuisine at a cute little sushi place (read this post about my love for sushi). Afterward, we managed to stay awake long enough to go see "Due Date." Hilarious movie, filled with tons of awkward comedy, which I happen to enjoy.

Then on Saturday we went to the big game. I am an awesome wife, and I found some pretty sweet tickets. If you're a college football fan and you've never been to the Big House, you've got to check it out at least once in your life. It is one....big..... stadium. I mean, huge. And it holds 113,000 people! Wowza! Here is a picture of it just as we were walking in:

And here is another from our seats as the game started:

Nice right?

Sadly, U of M lost, but we still had such a great time. Jon was thrilled to be surrounded by so many fellow fans (since he is clearly in the minority at home). The weather was perfect too. I did shed a tear when we walked in, realizing that if we hadn't lost Jack, we wouldn't be at that game. But even though that realization stung, we did thank Jack for giving us such beautiful weather that day.

The weekend also reminded me how lucky I am to have Jon. He is such a wonderful husband and father. He amazes me every single day. He always knows what to say, how to make me feel better, and how to make me feel loved. Not that I need reminded, but when I do get those reminders, it makes me smile.

Though our weekend getaway is over, we only 3 day work week this week. Wahoo! Happy Monday :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

At least we think we're funny

I think I burned 6,000 calories this weekend because I laughed SO much!

On Friday night, my wonderful SIL Kenny bought us all tickets to see the Chelsea Handler show. She is one funny broad. Her crude sense of humor had us all laughing hysterically. My secret dream is to be a stand-up comedian, and going to her show reminded me why. I love making other people laugh, and I love seeing other people laugh. Laughing is contagious, and it's good for the soul.

I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with some college friends, where the laughing continued. We have this ability to repeat the same inside jokes over and over again, and they never get old or get less funny..... well, to us at least. In fact, we even joke that we could have a 2-hour long conversation that just consisted of quoting the last 5 years of inside jokes.

Inside jokes are awesome. To the outside world, it's a meaningless phrase. But to you, just repeating that nonsensical quote can elicit a slew of laughter.

Case in point: "Hellllo Dean!" To anyone else, that phrase means that I am saying hello to a friend named Dean. To my friends, that phrase means 5 minutes of uncontrollable laughing.

The other funny part about inside jokes is that when you try to explain to someone why something is SO funny.... no matter how hard you try, that person will never fully understand the true extent of the funny-ness. That's why I so often utter the phrase "You had to be there."

I think my friends are my friends because they can appreciate my sense of humor. I love corny, cheesy jokes, puns, plays on words, and I laugh at anything that's mildly funny. I can't help it! But my close friends are the same way. Hey, if you can't stand the cheese, get out of the dairy farm. <--- I made that up, I am hilarious!

So what's your funny???  i.e. What makes you laugh till you cry? The following two videos are my contenders for guaranteed laughs:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday is the new Saturday

I love Thursdays. I'm serious, I do. Sure, we all say TGIF, Saturday has the bliss of having a full day ahead of you before you have to go back to work, and Sundays are relaxing. But I LOVE Thursdays.

Thursdays are like Christmas Eve. You know that tomorrow is the only thing that separates you from opening presents. But the anticipation is so high that the wait doesn't matter. You feel like a little kid again!

Occasionally, we make big plans for the weekend that never come to fruition. "Oh, I'm going to do x,y, and z on my to-do list on Saturday" or "We're gonna go visit so-and-so on Sunday." But sometimes plans fall through, or we're simply too tired from the week to have enough energy for the weekend. Sad, but true. (Just ask my SIL who just started her first 9am-5pm job how she feels on Friday nights now!)

But Thursdays never disappoint. Even if you don't get the presents you want on Christmas Day, the excitement and the buildup will be there on the day before. This is what Thursdays are to me. Full of energy and anticipation and excitement, even if I know there is nothing "special" going on that weekend.

It certainly doesn't hurt that Thursday happens to be "Sushi Day" at work. The cafeteria chefs make made-to-order, fresh sushi, and everyone around campus knows how happy this makes me. Sushi is a gift from heaven. If you don't like it, I don't like you. Just kidding..... kind of.

I discovered this wonderful creation about 4 years ago when Jon and I were feeling pretty adventurous at a restaurant one day. Like most things that I deem "trendy," I had initially written sushi off as disgusting. And, like most things in my life, I eventually give in and discover why things are "trendy." (All of my friends are smugly smiling as they remember how I said I would never get a phone with the internet. I have the Droid Incredible now. It is awesome.)

Thursday also has the best selection of television programs. TGF Tivo.

So here's to Thursday: the most under-appreciated day of the week. I salute you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Greatest Form of Renewable Energy: Conversations with Great People

Last week was a bad week.

I was running on "empty" in every sense of the word. I was tired every day, but I couldn't sleep. I decided to switch to decaf (soooo not the same as regular). I was feeling really sad. I couldn't believe it had already been over 6 weeks since we lost JBF... it feels like a lifetime ago, even though the pain is still very present.

On a whim, I decided to visit some friends for the weekend. I needed a few smiles. What I got were dozens of belly laughs and a renewed sense of self.

I met JM and MN in a cute little uptown area, where they surprised me with a mani/pedi at a salon. I have gotten a total of one pedicure in my entire life, and holy moly, it is heaven. The three of us gals were perched up on these amazing massage chairs, chatting and gossiping away like nosy southern belles. I swear we probably disturbed every single person within city limits, but we didn't care. I loved every second of it.

Then we all headed to one of my favorite restaurants of all time (see blurry pic of our manicures on the menu... I have abnormally long fingers). And then to top that off, we went to the Melting Pot for dessert and proceeded to embarrass ourselves from one end of the restaurant to the other. I am not sure if I've ever laughed so hard in my entire life. It was wonderful and exactly what I needed. I can't image life without these two... every visit is full of happiness and laughs. I am so grateful for their friendship.

The following morning, I was able to meet up with one of my other life partners, JMP. We made a random pit stop at a local fave, and it was nice to catch up. We haven't had one-on-one time in awhile, and it was wonderful. JMP is such a good listener, and let me pour my heart out over my lunch of cottage cheese and chili (Best combo ever, btw). I love having a friend who is so genuine and can give me snippets of advice while also telling me that it is OKAY to feel how I feel. Always, anytime, my feelings are justified to me by my understanding and encouraging friend. I love that.

To add to the positivity of the weekend, I had two long conversations with both my mom and my dad. It has been hard to talk to them since we lost JBF, because I know they are hurting not only for the loss of their grandson, but also hurting for their daughter. But yesterday's conversations were filled with happy thoughts about the future, and I got off the phone with both of them smiling. Cap Sunday night off with dinner with one of my favorite groups of people, and this weekend became one of the best I've had in a long time.

I woke up this morning feeling re-energized. I truly feel like the people in my life are what keep my going at the speed I'm cruising on. Every time I feel like I need to make a u-turn, I have someone in my life who is there to keep me going in the right direction.

So I just want to say thank you to everyone in my life... I'd be stuck in a ditch without you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer

People often make remarks about how "unique" I am. Good or bad (hopefully mostly good), I have a cheesy sense of humor, awkward comedic timing, and am shamelessly clumsy. Which is ironic, because as a career counselor, I am supposed to say all of the "right" things and knows all kinds of important information in order to send students on the right path. A job like mine requires being a "normal" human being, right??

Oh, to be normal. I can't stop focusing on this one word. Normal. I have never felt like I was "normal" (again, mostly in a good way) but as I got older, I embraced the qualities I possessed that helped me gravitate toward the people and places in my life that make me the most happy. My family and close friends are all unique in their own ways, and I would not be the person I am without their influence. They make me happy, and gosh darn it, I like being happy.

I mentioned in my first post that I am trying to adjust to a new version of "normal." What I thought was going to be my normal is no longer my normal. It's hard not to think about what "should" be, instead of what "is."

I *should* be 27 weeks pregnant.
I *should* be having my first baby shower this weekend.
I *should* be in my third trimester.
I *should* be huge and swollen and uncomfortable.
I *should* be 13 weeks away from taking Jack home.

But I'm not. This is life, and it's hard sometimes. Two months ago, I was so blissfully happy when thinking about what life was going to be.... nothing could upset me. Now, thinking about what *should* have been can wipe the smile right off of my face.

I think that the only way for us to move forward is to be reminded that this, right here, right now, is normal. What we're feeling is normal and how we behave is normal, because this is our life and this is how it is supposed to go. We cannot live our lives focusing on what *should* be. I can think about what might be, but I have to accept that all of those *shoulds* were a dream, and this is reality. It may seem unfair, but it's not up to me. For some reason, Jack is not with us here, and as much as I think that he should be, he is not. The only thing I wish for is that losing him will serve a greater purpose than I will ever understand.

All in all, I think I'm starting to realize that normal is a relative term. Some people may think I'm normal, others abnormal, and still others won't know what to make of me. Here's an example:

This is a picture of my lovely sister-in-law and my other "sister" Mark. And that's me, giving a closed-finger peace sign. I have no idea why - I was tired that night. Strangers might see this picture and think: "Why can't that girl make a proper peace sign??" But my friends and family that know and love me will look at this picture and think "Yep, that's Audra." I love that. This is the normal me, to them.

This hazy phase in my life after Jack makes me feel uneasy many times throughout the day, but that is normal... for me... right now. And someday soon, my normal will once again be happy and carefree, but also with wonderful memories of a son that changed my life forever.