Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Day!

When I think about Valentine’s Day, I think about sitting in my friend Jacqui’s bed during our sophomore year of college. The house she was living in hadn’t seen an insulation or window update in half a century and the only way to stay warm was to chat whilst under the covers. We sat there for hours — talking, eating puppy chow and becoming the very best of friends. It’s one of my favorite memories of our friendship.

Most of the time, Valentine’s Day is about the love your life, but this year I’m celebrating love in general. The love I have for Christian, the love I have for my family, the love I have for my friends, the love I have for chocolate, the love I have for wine… you get where this is going. There’s lots of love and I know that I’m incredibly lucky to have it.

I wish you the very happiest of Valentine’s Days! I hope it’s full of love in whatever capacity you need … and make sure you sneak in a little chocolate too!

 

Life, Love and Valentine’s Day!

Love, Love, Love!

Picking out a Valentine’s Day card is always so hard for me. Do you go funny love, smooshy love, thankful love, sexy love. I never know what to pick. After perusing the many, many, many options I think I’ve settled on one that’s just perfect for this year and I’m excited for Christian to see it. We’re spending our evening at home packing for a retreat with our marriage class in Estes Park this weekend. Christian has promised me a cupcake on Friday before we head out — I’m so, so looking forward to that. I heart cupcakes.

Hope that your Valentine’s day is sweet in whatever way you want it to be: dinner with your love, snuggles with your pooch, big glasses of wine with girlfriends or cuddling your sweet baby at home. Remember that life is better lived with love – in all forms and fashions.

xoxo.

Goodbye Sweet Charlie Dog

Have you ever had someone… something… enter your life so seamlessly it’s hard to remember a day without them in it. Someone or something that increased your own capacity to love?

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Charlie came into my life as unexpectedly as most furry friends do. Our Junior year, my college roommate was picking up a little friend for her furr ball when the lady offered Charlie to me, essentially for free. He was tiny, white, fluffy and sweet. I’m a girl that’s typically pretty calculated in making life altering decisions (which according to my mom at the time, adopting a puppy most certainly was), but gave in and brought him home.Looking back, it probably wasn’t my wisest moment, but that’s where you have to grab the cliché by the horns (throw another one in for good measure) and just own up to the fact that sometimes things really do happen for a reason.

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About a month ago Charlie started acted funny, I took him in for tests only to receive the call as I’m walking into work on a Friday morning that Charlie’s results weren’t good and that he only had limited time left with us. I walked through the revolving door of my office building,  rode the elevator and managed to turn on my computer before the tears started dropping down my face. I broke down in the middle in the kitchen, awkward hugged my boss and left for the day when I was one breath short of a sob.

 

The next three weeks were packed with every activity that I could think of to make Charlie’s last days as good as possible. Trips to the park, walks after dark, morning swims in his little pool, snuggles during movies and as many kisses as a little dog can possibly take. His appetite waned as the days went on and we tried every protein-less option there ever was – raspberries, wheat thins, applesauce, pumpkin, green beans, french toast bagel, pizza crust, spaghetti… the list goes on. There were days he’d eat 10-15 bites with it dropping down to none at all by the end.

 

His belly began to protrude – like the images of starving children we see in so many charity commercials. But he fought. Most everyone thought he only had a few days, but he didn’t like that idea and hung on for three weeks before we took him in. Each night he snuggled close, under blankets and right up against us. Even though it was September, his weight loss made him shiver all the time. He religiously wore his favorite “Team Captain” shirt and winter jacket throughout the days to stay warm and did his best to just keep on going.
During his last days, we knew he wouldn’t be with us much longer. His bones were sticking out, he no longer got up to greet us, he wasn’t eating, he shook all the time. It was hard to watch, but, for me, even harder to know that it was me that was going have to put it to an end. The night before we took him to the vet, I couldn’t sleep. I just wanted to lay with him, hold him and love him. How do you go to bed knowing it’s the last time you’ll say goodnight, the last time you’ll get up together in the morning.
Before we took him in I wanted to give him a big treat, something my family has joked about since his diagnosis and protein-free diet for life. I tried bacon, cheese, peanut butter… he wanted none of it. My heart broke. And, it repeated to break as we got in the car, drove to the vet and walked in.

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Charlie was a rare dog. He always wanted to be where you were, whether it was folding laundry with me in the basement or sitting on Christian’s lap any chance he could get (including directly after taking a swim in the backyard). He’d kill the stuffed squeaky animals we brought home in a matter of days – slowly and meticulously removing the squeaker. He dismantled his favorite toy of all – mini squeaky tennis balls – with the same fervor… kill the squeaker, remove all the fuzz, shred the rubber. It wasn’t uncommon to walk into our house to see a pile of shredded tennis ball on the carpet, or an array of tennis ball fuzz in varying colors strewn about haphazardly.

Going for walks, sans leash were his absolute finest athletic moments. Running, peeing, racing to catch back up and squirrel jumping off any ledge he could find. He may have been sick most of his life, but that never held him back from doing the things that made him happy.

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I think that Charlie was put in my life for a purpose. That purpose may not fully be known, but I can tell you that he and I got through a lot together… Break-ups, my Dad’s ongoing health issues, friendship ends, graduation, moving (cough, 12 times), an appendectomy for me and a liver surgery for him… on any given day he’d patiently lay next to me while I cried about this or that, or get excited when something went right, barking and running as I laughed and cheered.

Some people may say that it was time, he fought the good fight, he was sick, it’s a miracle that he lived this long, I gave him longer than anyone else would have. And, those things are mostly all true. But, it doesn’t take the sting out of losing my baby. It doesn’t take the regret out of being the one to carry him into the vet and make the hard decision. It doesn’t take the remorse from my heart or the images from my mind.

 

I never realized, until he was gone how many routines, thoughts and daily practices were wrapped up in him. Each time I get out of bed, I expect to have him greet me at my feet. Each time I pull into the driveway I have to resist the urge to run into the house and smother him with love. Each time I step outside I know I’ll only have memories of all the fun we had playing ball, going for dog swims and just sitting in the yard. The house feels empty now, though only 8 lbs. are missing. It’s as if a piece of our home and a piece of our family have disappeared.
I miss the way he sat at my feet while I cooked dinner, the way he never once wasn’t excited to see me, the way he loved to wear clothes and would sit next to me while I picked out his shirt for the day. I miss the way he just sat on my lap — half asleep, half awake — just enjoying being with me.
There isn’t a tribute, post, story, eulogy or book long enough or detailed enough to explain how much I loved him, how much he meant to me or how much I’ll miss him everyday. But, I have to hope he knew each of those things and that we’ll be reunited someday.I’ll never be able to forget all the joy, solace and love that he brought to my life, and I’ll never stop wishing he were here instead of there…
** For other Charlie posts, click here. Also, has your dog ever brought you flowers?

A year ago – I said yes.

Last year, I didn’t post about my engagement because things were all levels of crazy around here… and writing wasn’t high on my priority list. But, this year, things are a little less chaotic, so here it goes… in Christian’s words:

Planning the engagement was tricky for me, I spent several months trying to find the perfect moment to surprise Megan and catch her off guard. I’d plan something and I’d end up having to work late, I’d plan something else and find out we had other plans. I finally made the decision to propose after Memorial Day weekend – nothing was going to get in my way. Megan didn’t understand why I would want that Tuesday off, but I managed to take it off anyways. Megan’s Dad, Karl, had also recently moved about 45 minutes away, meaning I had to talk Megan into making a quick trip up there the weekend before so I could get the address for the big day. She had absolutely no idea what I was planning.

The day of the proposal: While Megan was at work, I put my plans into action – with stops at the flower shop, the craft store (for luminary supplies) and a quick apartment cleaning, the stage was set. After lunch with my family I drove to Lakewood to ask Karl for his blessing. I asked, he said yes, and we spent the rest of the time talking war movies. From there I made the quick, 45 minute, jaunt to Cathy’s (Megan’s Mom’s) house to also ask her blessing. After a few minutes of talking, I asked her too. She gave us her blessing and then it was off to finalize the top-secret preparations.

I swung by Megan’s apartment to grab Charlie. After Charles was safe in my possession I ran home and set the scene. I lit the candles in the luminaries, sprinkled the rose petals on the floor and put out her bouquet. Once I was sure everything was in place I called her to see where she was on her drive home – being very careful not to alert her of my plans. She was almost there!

Megan has a garage door opener to my house, and she usually came in through the garage. I took the batteries out over the weekend, meaning she’d have to walk around and come in the front door. The plan worked like a charm. She rang the front door bell and finally attempted to open the already unlocked door. She took one look around and asked me what was going on with a big smile on her face. I tried to explain what I was doing as she continued, to repeatedly, ask what was going on. Megan turned bright red as I got down on one knee, told her she meant the world to me and that I wouldn’t want to spend my life with anyone else, and proposed. She said YES!

We called all of our family to share the news. After everyone was officially in the know I took her to J. Alexander’s to celebrate – it was one of our very first official dates and one of our favorite restaurants (fire grilled artichokes anyone?). 

Some pictures of the day, compliments of my iPhone:

Christian (and his helper Charlie) waiting for me to walk in!

Aww, pretty flowers. How romantic!

Check out the red cheeks!

The ring – so perfect!

Happy Mother’s Day!

The older I get, the more and more I come to truly love, appreciate and admire my Mom. I love her and am blessed beyond belief to be her daughter. Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Xoxo.

Seven months ago.

Seven months ago today I became a wife, I married the most handsome and wonderful man I’ve ever met. These past seven months have truly been an adventure and I can’t wait for the next 50 years. Xoxo.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

No matter if this Valentine’s day finds you single, mending a broken heart, engaged, married or somewhere in between. Make sure you eat a disturbing amount of puppy chow (or any other form of chocolate) and revel in some love (whether it’s past current or future). Because, after all, there’s nothing better than love. Though, cupcakes do come close.

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds, and that’s what you’ve given me. That’s what I hope to give to you forever. I love you.” – The Notebook

P.S. In an effort to really feel the love this year I asked forced Christian to watch The Notebook with me on Sunday night. I held it together all the way through the end… right up until the he said it was just “ok” and tears start rolling down my face while I ask “IT WAS JUST OK? HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE IT? [sob, sob]”. Part of me is certain I should be embarrassed by this, but I’m blaming hormones… yeah, it was the hormones for sure.

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