I am still recovering from my trip to Chicago and Wisconsin and Easter weekend.
This week has been a whirlwind but I am thankful for it because it has been full of engagements with friends. I am so thankful for my friends.
Here are the 5 things I am thankful for
Easter Traditions, new and old
On Saturday, my daughter and I went to our friends house for the second annual Easter egg hunt.
Always a challenge to get them to look at the camera
Fun with SnapChat
After the Easter egg hunt, my daughter and I traveled to my cousins house in Massachusetts where we spent Easter with her branch of the family.
Again, hard to get them to all look at the camera at the same time.
I was also thankful that this was a Happy Easter because last year was not a Happy Easter for me. I am thankful that I am past the raw stages of grief. The good days outnumber the bad. In fact, I don’t really have bad days anymore, just moments that hit me hard. And I will always have those moments and I am okay with that.
Last Easter I was very upset but this Easter I was happy and I am thankful that I can find joy again. I am thankful that I am healing.
A night out with my cousin
While I was visiting my cousin, we had the opportunity to go out.
We went to a local speakeasy called Less Than Greater Than which is located in the back an ice cream shop called New City Microcreamery. We had to wait for seats in the speakeasy so we did have ice cream while we waited and it was the best ice cream I have ever eaten. Legit.
As much as we love our little ones, it was nice to be able to talk to her without getting interrupted.
Living in America
I love living in America because we can all take part in each other’s cultures.
Monday was Dyngus Day and while I am not Polish, my daughter is Polish. I heard that there was a Dyngus Day celebration at The Hill at Muza, a Polish restaurant in the nearby city of Troy and decided to take my daughter. I want her to know her heritage, including her non-Irish heritage. And I heard that Dyngus Day was like Polish St. Patrick’s Day so I was sold.
It was a great party. Good food, good music. A very nice lady gave my daughter a pussy willow to tap her crushes. Then she gave one to me and I was like “Haha…thanks…*awkward laugh*…”
My daughter tapped every man that walked by. They would turn around and then see her smiling at them. I don’t know if she was flirting or if she was trying to set her poor mother up. I mean, she signed me up for tinder after all.
The birthday girl
I have no pictures from this week with my friend who celebrated her birthday. (She doesn’t have a blog name yet). But here is a pic from when we went to the casino after Christmas.
She is one of my absolute favorite people. Her interactions with my daughter are always cracking me up. I have so much fun with her but our friendship is much deeper than fun.
We also spend so much time talking about things like the meaning of life. We read the same books and have deep discussions about them.
I am a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding. Well her and Our Favorite Community Helper’s wedding.
I mean, it is 40% his wedding.
Before you freak out, I am kidding.
It is a How I Met Your Mother reference from Season 1 Episode 11. When Ted is insistent that he RSVP’ed with a plus one to Claudia and Stuart’s wedding and Claudia says that he did not RSVP with a plus one.
Lily [about asking to bring a date]: You can always ask Stuart.
Ted: Can I do that?
Lily: Sure, you guys have been friends for a long time, and it’s 40% his wedding too.
Today I was helping my friend at her wedding dress fitting. I have good fine motor skills but I was having trouble with the buttons because I was shaking. I was getting so emotional seeing her in her wedding dress. There is a 70% chance I will cry at the wedding but it will be tears of joy.
Time with Robin Brillantes
I got to spend time with another friend, who is a Spanish teacher. It was her school break this week so I got to spend a lot of time together.
We went to the mall. We were looking for dresses because we have a few social events this spring. We sat on those massage chairs and I took a very unflattering SnapChat pic. I wrote “Let’s go to the mall…today!” and sent it to our friends.
Two How I Met Your Mother references in one blog post…I am on a roll.
Because it is hard to talk about my friends without references to How I Met Your Mother.
Our Favorite Community Helper snaps back and said I had to refer to our Spanish teacher friend as Robin Sparkles in my blog but it had to be in Spanish. My friend said the closest Spanish work to “sparkles” was “brillantes” so she is officially Robin Brillantes.
Robin Brillantes also came out to my daughters dance class, had dinner at Chipotle with us and then three of us got mani/pedi’s. Well, except Robin- she just got a pedicure.
It was my daughters first mani/pedi. She chose bright orange. I felt it was important to let her express herself.
We also saw a guy who looked just like Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Though #fauxmikeehrmantraut was much chattier and friendlier.
Though now I want some Los Pollos Hermanos even though it doesn’t exist. I used to say that to Bryon when we watched Breaking Bad.
That is what I am thankful for this week. What are you thankful for this week?
You know what that means! Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!
These are the 5 things I am grateful for this week.
Seeing my bestie
Last weekend my daughter and traveled to Chicago to see my best friend. We also took a side trip to Wisconsin. Travel post will be coming.
It was great to see my friend. We met at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, DC in 2006. She was sitting in front of me on the bus ride back to the hotel from the Romanian Embassy.
We wouldn’t become close until later that year.
We both pretty much have retired from politics but we usually try to see each other once or twice a year.
It’s always great to see each other and catch up.
2. Lunch with “Uncle Greg”
On our return trip from Wisconsin, we stopped to visit a close friend of mine. Greg was one of Bryon’s best friends and he has been so good to our daughter. You can see his kindness demonstrated below as he gave the girls their own cheesehead hats.
(I don’t usually use people’s names but I can’t think of a proper blog name for Greg. Though I am sure Bryon would have suggested a few inappropriate ones).
Pro-Tip when visiting Wisconsin: make sure you leave some space in your luggage because those cheesehead hats take up a lot of room. Though I guess she could have worn it on the plane…
We had an amazing lunch complete with Wisconsin cheese curds.
I also got to meet Uncle Greg’s new girlfriend.
I don’t give my stamp of approval to just anyone. I am not Marshall Erickson.
But I am happy to say that Uncle Greg’s new girlfriend has my stamp of approval. I can’t wait for him to bring her to Albany so everyone can meet her.
3. Making it home in time for our favorite community helper’s birthday
We made it back in time on Monday for a special birthday. Another one of Maddy’s “uncles”, who I refer to as “our favorite community helper”, was celebrating his birthday. I took my daughter out for dinner and our favorite community helper and his fiancee (a.k.a. Carter’s parents) met up with us. I didn’t get a picture with our favorite community helper, but here is a picture of my daughter being silly. I was tired and probably not the best company, but these two are family to me and it was important to see our favorite community helper on his birthday.
4. A night at the museum
This week was the opening of Canstruction. A good friend (I will call her “the architect”) has done this event for 8 years. Canstruction collects cans and other non-perishable food and builds structures to raise money for food banks in the region.
I am so proud of my friend.
On Wednesday, there was a reception that I was lucky enough to attend.
Brunch and Pottery PlaceOur weekend started with Saturday Brunch with friends. My daughter and I dressed as the Irish-American Princesses that we are.
It was Kimmy Gibbler‘s son’s birthday this week so we gave him his present.
After brunch we went to a local pottery place and painted. My daughters pig is looking a little bruised there.
A night outLater Saturday evening, we went went for another friend’s birthday. We did some hibachi. I didn’t get any fire photos because I was too busy snapchatting them. The little one stayed home with a sitter while Mommy had some fun.
After hibachi, we went to a local place for some karaoke.
I still maintain this position.
Day with cousinsSunday morning, my daughter and I traveled to the North Hadley Sugar Shack in North Hadley, Massachusetts to spend the day with my cousin and her two kids. My cousin and I try to meet in Springfield, MA because that is the approximate halfway point between us.
We got to sample some wicked good syrup.
There were other samples too.
And there was breakfast. This was a double order of bacon because kids meals at most places usually only include 1 piece of bacon which my daughter eats and then she will move on to mine. So I tend to order double. Though this morning, she didn’t touch any of mine. More for me, I guess.
My cousin and I decided to head over the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. We had a good time but if you are travelling from Eastern, MA or Upstate NY, I wouldn’t plan a whole day trip out of it. I also would recommend it for school age kids. There wasn’t a lot for preschoolers to do. Not enough to occupy them for a whole day. It wasn’t like our trip to the Dr. Seuss Museum.
My daughter and I took this selfie. Be kind. I was out late and up early and it was definitely a dry shampoo and minimal makeup kind of morning.
Reunited in ChicagoI am writing this post ahead of time and by the time it goes live, I will be reunited with my bestie in Chicago!
A special birthdayToday is the birthday of my “sister from another mister” and my daughters Godmother. I know that her birthday is bittersweet because it is also the day that everything changed forever.I actually met her before I met Bryon. We first met at the Fall 2005 Young Republican National Federation Board Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas. She taught a workshop that I attended on talking to a camera.I never could have known that she would end up being such an important person in my life.She was there with many others on the happiest day of my life and she was the only person with me on the saddest night of my life.The truth is that she deserves her own post but I feel like I can’t accurately write a post about her without sharing information that I am not ready to share yet. And without the whole story, I am not doing the story of our friendship justice.
I want to write more but WordPress seems to be deleting what I am writing as I am writing it. And I am too tired to figure it out.
You know what that means…time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude.
These are the Top 5 things I am grateful for this week.
Daylight Savings Time
You may noticed that I have been quiet on the blog this week. The first was that after writing my two most recent blog posts (here and here), I had nothing to say. I keep wanting to say I felt emotionally drained but the term “drained” doesn’t really sum it up well. Maybe I was actually content? I got out what I needed to. If I was feeling content, I am sure it will only last for a New York Minute. Because as the week ends, I am started to feel new emotions and thoughts bubbling up. Periods were I don’t have anything to say don’t happen often and don’t last long when they happen.
My lack of writing is also due to the fact that Daylight Savings Time really screws me up. Every year. For like, a whole week. Each day I have been hitting the later class at my gym because I can’t get my act together to go to the one I normally attend.
But I am grateful for Daylight Savings Time because I love the fact that the sun is out until 7 pm.
It makes this messed up week totally worth it.
Moments of joy
I have been working on feeling the joy of living in the present moment.
And what better example of feeling the joy of living in the present moment than seeing how excited my daughter was to try on her dance recital dress? I couldn’t help but feel joy because my daughter was so happy. I can’t wait to see her dance in her first recital.
For what I do have
It is easy to think about my previous life and dwell on what I no longer have.
I decided to be grateful for what I do have. I have my daughter. I have family. I have friends who are my family. I never spend holidays alone.I have a roof over my head. I have a job. I have my health.
I have it good.
I have had SnapChat for about a year and a half but never used it. I downloaded it shortly after Bryon died. I was at a friends birthday party and everyone was showing me how to use it. I signed up, got some friends and never used it.
Lately I have been turning inward a little bit. I haven’t been on Facebook as much. Partly because it was hard to see everyone living their perfect lives with their alive spouses. (And yes, get no one’s life is perfect but once in awhile I have bad days where I would take my worst day with Bryon over my widowed life.)
I also needed to turn inward because I needed to set some boundaries with my social media presence. I know I am very open about my grief process on the blog and on social media. And that won’t change. I do this to help other people- those who are also grieving as well as those who want to better understand the grieving process.
But there are some people who think that they somehow have a say in my life and are entitled to know things about me that are none of their business. Just because I share my grief journey does not make my whole life public property. So I have been quieter on social media.
I have been enjoying SnapChat because I can still socialize and take pictures but I can choose who receives it. It’s been the same 5-10 people because I am an elitist like that. (Just kidding!)
My friends send me videos of their golden retriever and I send videos back to them of my daughter. It’s a fun time.
A kickass week at the gym.
I got bronchitis in December and felt like I hadn’t rebounded. But I feel like I had good workouts this week and that I am back on track.
This past weekend I had the honor of being invited to the New York State Young Republicans (NYSYR) Rising Star Reception. (Now for those of you new to the blog, this isn’t a political blog. But politics does play a role in Bryon and my story. I have beautiful friends in both political parties.)
Coincidentally this reception fell 10 years after the 2008 NYSYR Leadership Conference in Albany. I know this because Facebook had reminded me. I had met Bryon for the second time that weekend and that was also the weekend that our love story began though it would take me another 6 months to realize it.
This organization also generously held a raffle to benefit my daughter’s educational trust. I can’t put into words how much it means to me that an organization that was once a huge part of Bryon and my life hasn’t forgotten about us. Bryon and I never would have met if it hadn’t been for the Young Republicans. My daughter wouldn’t exist if it hasn’t been for the Young Republicans. Some of my best friends come from my Young Republican years. This organization has already given me so much and they still continue to give to us.
This reception recognized all the young talent in the organization and it reminded me of my own youth. When I gave my thanks, I mentioned how important the friendships I made in this organization both in New York and Maine, as well as friends I made at the National level. During those months that Bryon was in the ICU and those early months of widowhood, I received so much love and support from friends from my Young Republicans Days. Politics isn’t always “warm and fuzzy”, I asked them to take a moment to appreciate their friendships and not to wait until they were in my situation to realize it.
Even though I don’t participate in politics much anymore, I do think it is important to bring my daughter to these events because people come up to me and talk about Bryon. And while that makes me sad, I appreciate that they remember him and say kind things about him. But I think it is important for my daughter to hear those nice things being said about her father. He may be dead, but it is nice to be reminded that he had lived.
For everyone local who takes care of me.
My neighbor always plows me out and helps me with problems around the house. Bryon’s best friend is always ready to answer my questions and recommend people. Another friend of Bryon’s mows my lawn.
My house can be overwhelming at time and I am grateful for everyone who helps me.
I was having a rough couple of days (as you probably guessed if you read my blog) and one of my high school friends reached out to me to talk. There is that saying that sometimes the best mirror is an old friend and I think that is true. As I examine my life, I seem to have gotten in touch with a lot of old friends and these old friends help me remember that I was a complete person before Bryon and I will continue to be a complete person after Bryon.
Bryon was not one to live in the past and during our years together, I lost touch with my past. But the old me is still very much a part of me. (I think I feel a blog posting coming on about this).
This has been a long winter. Bryon and I used to go away every winter on a Caribbean Cruise but I haven’t been on a cruise since he was alive. Lately I have been thinking about it.
I do have a lot of exciting things going on this Spring and Summer that include traveling, a wedding and…the second annual Bryon C. McKim Derby Party.
More to come on the Derby Party in the next couple of weeks- stay tuned!
And I have a bonus gratitude this week-
My funny daughter
Despite having an epic meltdown when we got home from gymnastics (‘nastics class) tonight, I am grateful for my daughter and especially how funny she is.
The kids in her class all wrote a book and her’s was titled “I Don’t Know.” Her teacher told me she was adamant that that was the title. The whole ride home she kept talking to me about how her book was called “I Don’t Know.” She makes me laugh so much.
These are the 5 thing I am grateful for this weekend.
Seeing Les Miserables
I mentioned in my previous post about how I saw Les Miserables on a school trip to NYC my senior year of high school and how excited I was to see it last weekend. I had a great time.I was also intrigued at how sophisticated set design became in 22 years.
Les Miserables, 2018
We did learn a valuable lesson. When you see a show at Proctors in Schenectady, make sure you make reservations if you want to eat at any of the nearby restaurants. We didn’t. None of us thought of it. Ooops. Luckily there was a stand at the theater that sold sandwiches, desserts and there was also a bar.
This whole dinner debacle demonstrated a shift in my thinking. The old Kerry would stress about everything. Bryon used to say that I searched for things to worry about. The old Kerry would have freaked out that we didn’t have dinner reservations. The New Kerry just thought “I am not really that hungry anyway but there is a sandwich stand. If this is the worse thing that happens to me all night, then this is a great night. I am out with friends and I am seeing a musical that I love.”
I know I have grown as a person and it is nice to see evidence of that growth.
My daughter’s first haircut
I had so many emotions watching (and snap chatting) this. This was my daughters first haircut. There wasn’t much to cut off but her hair did grown in uneven so it was evened out. My hairdresser also put the hair in an envelope for me.
So. Many. Emotions. I tell you.
My daughter loved going to the salon and had a great time being “grown up”.
I was texting Kimmy Gibbler and I told her that I was annoyed by all screaming kids and equally pushy parents. This was the unimpressed selfie I took and sent her. I was over it.
But it was hard to stay annoyed when I saw how much my daughter enjoyed herself. She has been telling everyone about the Princess Ball and in great detail too.
I was actually surprised at the detailed questions she asked each of the princesses. She didn’t just talk about dresses and tiaras. She asked Anna about the speed of Kristoff’s sled. My daughter is one smart cookie.
Because they are delicious. I love guacamole and avocado toast.
I had my yearly review at my job. It went well. I am thankful for my job. They hired me two months after Bryon died. Some people told me I should take more time off but I felt it was time to go back to work. Except for three weeks when my FMLA ran out, I hadn’t worked in 7 months. I was ready. That and our health insurance coverage through Bryon’s employment ended so that was also a motivating factor for going back to work.
Before I became a sole parent, I never thought I would like working from home. But now I feel like I couldn’t do it any other way. My schedule allows complete flexibility. I work a lot at night but that gives me the time to go to the gym, make doctors appointments and have the occasional lunch with friends. It also gives me wiggle room if my daughter is home sick or there is a snow day. The flexibility of my job helps me thrive (more like survive) in the other areas of my life.
My employer also provides us with a large amount of educational resources so I am able to keep up the continuing education I need to maintain my credential. That is very helpful because now I can’t go off and attend conferences anymore.
They also have an amazing program that gives each employee five days to volunteer and give back to the community. My company also donate money to grant wishes of employees in need every holiday season. I literally cried when they announced who won the wishes and told their stories. My company has a heart.
I also work with an amazing team. I have only talked to them on the phone and through email but they are great people.
And one last bonus gratitude-
The random 3 Hello Kitty pull ups
My daughter is mostly potty trained but still wears pull ups at night. I didn’t realize that we were down to one last pull up until she went to put it on. I know, I am totally failing at this motherhood thing lately. Actually I am pretty sure I am failing at life in general.I got annoyed at myself because that means I have to go out in the storm today and get a package of pull ups. But really no big deal.
Well my daughter had a big poop in that one last pull up. Of all nights. This story happened literally right before I typed this so it is in the middle of the night (because I don’t sleep anymore). I didn’t want to have to get her dressed and go to the 24 hour pharmacy to get pull ups.
I told myself not to panic. We had to have a random pull up somewhere in the house or maybe the car.
So I am very thankful for those three random Hello Kitty Pull-ups.
I am sure she is going to love reading this when she is older. She is probably going to be so unimpressed. She will probably say something like “Hey Mom, remember that time when you wrote about how I shit my pants and put it on the internet for the whole world to read?” And then I will remind her that we all have shit our pants at one time or another and that the post was actually about princesses and pull ups.
Those are the 6 things I am grateful for. What are you grateful for this week?