Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #23

Fun Fact about this blog.  Almost all the posts on this blog are written between midnight and 2 am.  Last night I chose to sleep instead.  So I apologize for the post being up later than usual.

It’s Friday-

Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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  1.  Wedding Weekend
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    Obligatory Tribe Photo at the Tribe Wedding. Though the bride appears to be missing.

    Last weekend my daughter and I were in a wedding of our good friends.  These friend are very special to me and I am grateful that I got to be a part of their big day.

  2. My daughter
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    ‘Nastics class

    She makes me so proud.

  3. That the storms missed Albany.

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    Being from New England, I joke that Albany is in the Midwest.  But we don’t usually get tornado watches.  I know watches just mean that the weather conditions are present where a tornado could begin.  I know that tornado warnings are when you are supposed to stay calm while freaking out.  But nope- anything with the word “tornado” in it freaks me out.

    I am grateful that we missed the storms and grateful that my friends Downstate were safe.

  4.  My Kitty

    Yesterday was my kitty’s “estimated” birthday.   He turned nine. I didn’t remember it was his birthday until 3:15 pm.  I guess that makes me a sh*tty cat mom.  While he can be rather stand-offish to everyone else, he loves me.  Bryon and I adopted him when he was studying for the NY Bar exam in 2011 so my cat and I have been through so much together.

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  5. #Jamko

    Blue Bloods is one of my favorite shows.  Like, I actually DVR it and watch it every week.  I also binge watch it on Netflix when I need background noise.

    I have been so emotionally invested in Jamie and Eddie.   Way more than I ever was with Luke and Lorelei.  What do they call it?  Shipping? And they finally got together in the Season Finale!  Yay!

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    Now if only Elena and Gabe can get together….though I am not nearly as emotionally invested in them as I was with Jamko.

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What are you grateful for this week?

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Second Annual Bryon C McKim Memorial Derby Party

Thank you for everyone who worked hard to make this event a success!

Thank you to everyone who came out to attend the event.  I appreciate the love and support for my daughters future.  It means so much to me that you came to keep Bryon’s memory alive.

We hope to see you next year!

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Seer Sucker Count: 5

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #21

It’s Friday!

We know what that means!  Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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  1. My readers

    My last post was my 200th post.  Thank you for reading and for all your support!

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  2. Warm weather

    While it seems that we have gone straight from winter to summer, I will take it.

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  3. A rainy but memorable day.

    My daughter had her first field trip at a local farm.  It was a great day, despite the rain.  I was going to write more, but I think the event deserves its own post.  But here is a preview.

  4. Surviving wasps and ticks

    Along with the warmer weather, we have been getting visits from unwanted guests.

    My daughter had her first tick bite last night.  I saw it in the morning.  Now I know I must check her every night.  I have never had a tick bite myself so I have never worried about it.  Luckily I was able to get it all out with tweezers and we went to the pediatrician just in case.  So I will keep an eye on it for a rash.

    We also had a few hibernating queen paper wasps in the house.  That freaked me out.  I am not a fan of bugs.  Killing bugs was Bryon’s job but now it is mine.

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    Sorry,  I couldn’t resist.  I laugh each and every time I saw that on my Facebook newsfeed.  Though this was in a different context.  Probably in the intended context.

    Anyway, the day after I discovered the wasps was my routine treatment from the exterminator.  Luckily Mr. Exterminator was very nice.  He didn’t mind me staring at him adoringly because at that moment, he was my knight in shining armor.  He even located a wasps nest on my garage and got rid of it.

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  5. Everyone who has worked hard on the second annual Bryon C. McKim Derby Party

    Saturday will be the second annual Bryon C. McKim Derby Party.  I am thankful for everyone who donated their goods and their time toward this event.  We raise money for my daughter’s education trust and toward the establishment of scholarships to be set up in Bryon’s memory at Siena College and Albany Law School.  If you are in the Albany area, we hope to see you.

    Tickets can be purchased here or you can buy them at the door.

 

What are you thankful for this week?

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Why this widow donated her wedding dress.

The dress came into my life on October 28, 2011.  Bryon and I had been engaged since Sept 6, 2011, and had set our wedding date for Sept 29, 2012.  We had our venue and wedding planning was in full swing. I needed a dress.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

I can’t say that I was looking forward to picking out a wedding dress.  5 out of 6 of my bridesmaids lived out of state so I was pretty much alone in the process.  I wasn’t going to be sitting with a group telling Randy that I was saying yes to the dress. (Yes, that is a TLC reference)

I have also struggled with my weight throughout my life so that also left me apprehensive about the whole wedding dress shopping process.

I had looked through some wedding magazines and I had an idea what I wanted.  I wanted a princess gown with sparkle but I didn’t want anything too crazy.

At that point in my life, I was working in a clerical position at a local emergency room and my schedule ran from Sunday to Thursday.  Bryon and I decided that we would go to Boston because Filene’s was going one of their “Running of the Brides” events on Friday, October 28, 2011.  It ended up being the last time Filene’s did the “Running of the Brides.”

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

These events were known to open at 4 am and be full of brides and their teams running around grabbing whatever they could find.  Bryon and I decided that we would aim for a ten a.m. shopping time after things settled down and we left Albany for Boston around 6 am.

Bryon was not going to go shopping with me. We were old-fashioned about many things and seeing my wedding dress was one of them.  Luckily, one of my bridesmaids who lived in Maine made the trip down to Boston to help me shop. Bryon decided that he was going to take a tour of Fenway Park while we were dress shopping.

I told my friend my vision and my size range.  I looked at a few racks and found exactly what I was looking for but it was a size too small. Yes, I planned to exercise and lose weight and all that but I didn’t feel comfortable relying on my plans.  I knew it was safer to err on a larger sized dress and have it altered own.

Luckily this dress was a mass-produced Alfred Angelo dress and I quickly located the same dress in my size.  I quickly located my friend who has a few dresses she found for me to try on. Then I stripped down in a busy store and put on the dress.  Normally that might seem bizarre, but that morning, everyone was doing it.

 

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Buying my dress at Filene’s “Running of the Brides in Boston, 2011.  (Cellphone picture)


I knew the moment I put on that dress that this was it. This was my dress. It was love at first sight.   It was a princess gown but not too poofy and just the right amount of sparkle.

There was what looked like a few black grease stains on the bottom but I figured they would come out with dry cleaning. (Spoiler alert- they did!)

I didn’t even try on the dresses my friend picked out. We both knew there was no point.

I called Bryon to tell him the news. He couldn’t believe that I picked out a dress so quickly as his tour of Fenway Park hadn’t started yet.  I told him how much the dress cost ($500) so he could input the data into his Google spreadsheet. He loved Google spreadsheets.

While Bryon took his Fenway tour, my friend and I took the subway out to where Bryon and I had parked our car and I locked my dress in the car.  We went back into the city and we met Bryon for lunch at Boston Beer Works right outside of Fenway Park.

Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

I don’t remember much more from that afternoon. I had my dress and I was happy. Bryon was happy that I was happy. We walked around the city. We went to Cheers (it will always be the Bull ‘n Finch to me) and Bryon got annoyed by some tourists that were blocking the door.  We had dinner at an Italian Restaurant in the North End that Bryon had seen featured in Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Bryon had a bit of a man-crush on Gordon Ramsay and gushed after a trip to the men’s room saying he went in the same urinal that Gordon Ramsay must have used.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography



Our wedding came and went.  It was my day. It was everything I dreamed it would be and I felt like a real princess.

Now it is five and a half years later.  My husband is dead and I have no use for this dress.

I am never going to wear the dress again.  I mean, even if I get married again, I am not going to wear it again. For one, it’s the dress I wore to marry my first husband who is now dead. Secondly, even if it wouldn’t be weird to wear the dress again, my tastes have changed. It was the perfect dress for me in 2011-2012 but now it wouldn’t suit my style in 2018.

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I can remember telling Bryon I wasn’t walking down the steps in the heels I was wearing. He obliged. Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography



The dress has sat in the back of the closet in my spare bedroom.  I never had it cleaned after the wedding and the bottom of the dress is dirty from being dragged on the floor all night.

When Bryon was alive, he encouraged me to get the dress cleaned and then sell the dress but I just couldn’t bring myself to part with the dress I wore on one of the happiest days of my life.

Now, this dress, which is a symbol of my happiness is also a symbol of my sadness.

EQ4C1830-334And I began to wonder what I should do with this dress.

The first thing people usually suggest to me is that I should save the dress for my daughter.

While I think it is touching when someone wears their mothers’ wedding dress, I felt like I would be burdening my daughter.  I didn’t want her to feel like she had to wear my dress.

Styles change.  Yes, she could change the style but the dress was strapless, to begin with. Also, the dress was made out of polyester, not some fancy fabric. Lastly, I hope my daughter doesn’t struggle with her weight like I do and the dress size may not be easy to work with.

I feel that my daughter deserves her own “say yes to the dress moment”.  A moment that, God willing, I will be there to witness.

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Flower Girl Dress Shopping, 2018  (Cell phone photo)


The second reason I don’t want my daughter to wear my wedding dress is a bit selfish.

I have attended two weddings since Bryon passed and my daughter and I will be in a party wedding very soon.

And at each moment I am always taken aback at the father-daughter moments. Because Bryon won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. He won’t dance with her.  (Which he once mentioned he wanted to dance to Sitting at the Dock of the Bay because it was in his favorite movie, Top Gun. I told him it would be our daughter’s decision, not his.) He won’t be beaming with pride. He won’t be making jokes, pretending to be annoyed at how much the wedding cost.

Now I don’t know who is going to walk my daughter down the aisle.

Maybe she will have a stepfather. I am optimistic that I will fall in love again. And he will be a wonderful man because I wouldn’t settle for anything less.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

Or maybe my daughter will have her grandfather walk her down the aisle. Or maybe her Godfather will walk her down the aisle. Or maybe one of the many uncles she has, the men who were Bryon’s closest friends.  She has lots of great men in her life to choose from.

But the only thing that is certain is that Bryon won’t be walking her down the aisle and that moment is going to take me aback.  Even if that moment is brief, that moment will be there. I will feel my breath being taken away. I will feel like I am being punched in the stomach.  It will sting. There is a good chance I will tear up. Because even though so many people love my daughter, the man who gave her life and loved her so much won’t be there to walk her down the aisle.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography


And if she were in my wedding dress, it would be too hard for me.

So this brings me to this wedding dress from one of the happiest days in my life that was a symbol of all my sadness.

I am in the process of clearing Bryon’s belongings out of the house. Letting go of each item is a process, no matter how small.  First I have to decide if an item holds a practical use for me  If not, does someone I know have a practical use for the item?  Is the item broken? Those questions are usually easy to answer.  It’s the sentimental items that are tough.

Sometimes I break down and cry. Sometimes I get angry because he is dead and all I have is…stuff.  Sometimes I feel empty. Sometimes I feel nothing at all.

My wedding dress was definitely a sentimental item.

EQ4C2025-437I felt like my wedding dress wasn’t done yet.  My dress had done what it was meant to do.  It had served its purpose.   It made me feel beautiful on one of the happiest days of my life.  I felt like my dress wasn’t mean to just sit in my closet and remain a symbol of my sadness.

One day I felt like it was time to let go of my dress.

I remembered hearing about charities that take donated wedding gowns and making gowns for babies who have passed away.

Just like I knew right away that my wedding dress was the one, I knew immediately that this was what I was meant to do with my wedding dress.

The families of those babies are in a deep and profound grief and while I don’t know the pain of losing a child, I do know deep and profound grief. I felt like I needed to whatever I could to help.

EQ4C2130-494I couldn’t think of a more dignified second life for a dress that made me so happy. That dress didn’t deserve to sit in a closet, avoided.  That dress would go on for a deeper purpose.

It brings me a sense of healing to donate that dress will, in some form, bring comfort to a grieving family.  My wedding dress made me look beautiful at my wedding and lives on in my memories and these angel gowns may be the last (and maybe the only) chance for these grieving parents have to see their child dressed in something beautiful.

I went to google and saw that most of the charities that made angel gowns weren’t taking wedding dress donations.  I looked through my google results and saw that there were many other worthy organizations that accept weddings dresses for various uses.  But I felt drawn to this particular purpose.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

After searching, I found the Facebook page of a charity made angel gowns and it was local.  I sent the charity a message over Facebook messenger to inquire if they were currently accepting and they responded within the hour.  They were accepting wedding dresses and I could drop it off at a Ford dealership on the other side of town.

I also learned that they were looking for shipping sponsors to purchase VISA gift cards as these gowns sometimes have to be overnighted free of charge to the recipients.  Gift cards to Wal-Mart and Jo-Ann’s were also appreciated as these seamstresses were volunteers and can always use donations for materials to decorate these gowns. I did decide to be a shipping sponsor and a donated a VISA gift card along with my dress.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

It was also requested that the crinoline be removed.  Crinoline is that netting-like material that makes up petticoat.  My dress had a lot of it.

I took the dress out of the closet.  Then I took it out of the garment bag.  I looked at the dress one last time. I contemplated trying it on the dress on but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  As requested by the charity, I removed the crinoline. Then I removed the sparkly band that sat just under the bust of the dress.  I decided that I would set it aside for my daughter. She can incorporate it into her wedding, should she choose to do so.

Then I cried.  I bawled.

I hadn’t bawled like that in many months.  Sure my eyes tear up a little but I couldn’t remember the last time I bawled like this.

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First date. Engagement. Wedding Day. All at this bar. Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

I put the dress back in the garment back and brought the dress downstairs where it hung on a hook on the exterior door of my kitchen.

The dress sat there for 4 days because I did not have the time to bring the dress where my daughter would not have been present.  I was afraid that I was going to be an emotional mess and I did not want her to see that.  Though part of me dragged my feet because this would be final.

One morning after I dropped my daughter off at daycare,  I decided it was time. I put the dress into my car and drove to Latham Ford.

Dropping off the dress was an easy process.  The salesman held the door open for me and told me to go over the receptionist.  The receptionist took the dress and thanked me.

And then I left.

At that moment I felt nothing and everything all at once.

My dress was gone.

I couldn’t ask for it back.

I didn’t cry.

I know I made the right choice for me.

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All wedding day photos are courtesy of my wedding photographer, Heidi Benjamin.  Thank you for being so gracious.

http://www.heidibenjamin.com/

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #16

It’s Friday!

You know what that means!  Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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These are the 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1. 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.

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    Wisconsin Road Trip, 2018

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…

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“Uncle Greg” and the mini-cheeseheads

We had an amazing lunch complete with Wisconsin cheese curds.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

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.

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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.

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McGeary’s. 2018.

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.

The event took place at the New York State Museum on Empire Plaza.

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There was a taco bar.

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There was toasting with friends.

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My speech got a standing ovation.

We’ll just ignore the fact that Kimmy Gibbler was the only one listening…

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I didn’t get any carousel pics but we rode on it and it was awesome.

Here are a few pictures of some of the structures.

5.  Surviving

Two years ago yesterday was when my life completely fell apart.

I am still here.

I survived and I am grateful.

What are you grateful for this week?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #12

It’s Friday, you know what that means!

Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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These are the 5 thing I am grateful for this weekend.

  1.  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.

    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.

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  2. 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”.

  3. The Princess Party


    In a moment of insanity, I decided to buy tickets to the Princess Ball.  It was Sunday morning and I had stayed up late the night before.

    Ooooops.

    My daughter had a ball.  (Pun intended).

    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.

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    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.

  4. Avocados

    Because they are delicious.  I love guacamole and avocado toast.

  5. My job

    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-

  6. 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.

    I looked in my purse- none.

    Then I see a bag from my trip to Massachusetts for my grandmother’s funeral that I had not unpacked.  (I know, a month ago.  I told you, I am failing at life.  I am a hot mess.)  I looked inside and there were three Hello Kitty Pull Ups.

    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?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #5

Every Friday I like to say what I am grateful for from this past week.

  1. I am thankful that my daughter and I got to spent a nice fall day at a local farm.  We rode the “Pumpkin Express”, looked at farm animals and picked up some pumpkins.

  2. I am thankful that my daughter had a great three year checkup at the Pediatrician.  I am thankful that she is healthy and doing well.
  3. I am thankful that I survived my daughters Halloween Party at school.  I was dreading it because I would have to be around these perfect middle class intact families with two parents.  This is our second Halloween without Bryon and while neither of us particularly cared for the holiday, we would still participate in all the kid activities.  The first Halloween I was protected by the widow fog but this Halloween, I don’t have the fog to protect me.  In some ways, these moments hurt more now.

    But it is hard to stay sad when I have I am around this girl.

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  4. I am thankful for a family full of great people who invite my daughter and I to go out trick or treating.  They also throw a good dinner party after.

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  5.  I am thankful for the rain because I actually like it.  I am also thankful that all my friends and family in New England were okay during the storm.

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What are you thankful for this week?