April 2014 archive

Firsts: Last 5, Next 5

By Natalie

Today is one of those rainy days that causes me to lack inspiration. I could totally give into it today too. Allowing this downpour to symbolize all of the things that lack flow in my life. But perhaps you stopped by today expecting a pick me up, because the rain has given you unecessary cabin fever in the spring. And so, I figured that maybe today I’d keep my rainy day woes to myself, and speak on the subject of something quite contrary. Here’s a list of happier things while we sit in silent anticipation to see our bright and cheery sun again.

As you well know, firsts are my favorite. Right up there with unexpected kisses, and wet puppy paw prints. I’ve compiled a list of firsts I’ve done in the last 5 years. Some I’m pretty proud of, some I can’t believe took me so long.

1st Caramel Apple

1st Hayride (The caramel apple and hayride were done together, you can imagine how grand of a moment it was. Enjoyed with the Poe family, as they all stared at me in shock that I had never experienced either before)

1st time driving on i95 (This was after I was married! I know right? What was I so afraid of?)

1st And I Repeat LAST Time Flying Standby

That leads me to my next 1st… 1st Time Sleeping in an Airport (That little story coming soon)

1st Major League Baseball Game

1st Time Camping

1st Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia

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1st Time in a Casino

1st House

1st Dog

1st Car (Oh my VW how I loved you, and hated you)

1st Time Hiking Old Rag

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1st Time Making a Cake from Scratch (I’ll have to share that yummy recipe)

1st Time Making Homemade Bread

I’m sure there’s so many more, that I just can’t recall at the moment, but those are some big ones. I figured I’d compile another list of some firsts I wish to experience in the next 5 years… And then you can share in the joy with me when I experience them!

Ride on a Train

Travel Further West

1st Baby Poe??!! (I’ll keep you all on your toes with that one)

Visit Puerto Rico (My Homeland!)

Take an RV Trip (This is a long shot, I feel like the only young person on earth who wants to do this)

Go Snorkeling

Learn to Swim… Forward… Would be helpful if I were ever drowning and I only know how to float on my back. I could be laying there for a while…

Plant a Vegetable Garden

Oh I know there’s more for this list, but we’ll leave just the few for the 5 year mark.

I hope you enjoyed, and can share your fun stories with me as well. Happy Rainy Day Friends.


Caught in the Act

By Natalie

I did it everyone! I finally caught the insanity that is piling groceries on one arm. photo 1

This is a phenomenon that I have only recently learned about through being married. I talked about this phenomenon a bit here.

Apologies for my blurry photos. I stopped inside to drop off a couple bags, and walked back outside to find the incredible Brandon and his bionic arm, and of course, I just had to quickly snap the husband at work.

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As you can see, he did not approve of the photo taking. Hence his running away.

Your welcome for the laugh. Happy Monday!

Lupus Walk

By Natalie

imageWe did it. We walked for the second time as a family in D.C. to raise Lupus Awareness. The morning of the walk we drove to the metro station which I will have to excitedly admit is one of my favorite things on earth. I know. Kind of lame right? I need to get out more. It’s the only type of railway vehichle I’ve ever been on, and I’m facsinated by it. Just you wait until you get me on a real train… I won’t be able to contain my excitement.

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Once our family had all arrived and corralled together we began our mile and a half walk toward the Capitol. That’s it. Such a simple act to show support, and turn some heads on the busy street. The Grand Marshall of our event this year just so happened to be Nick Cannon. Kind of random? Not at all. Cannon was diagnosed with Lupus in 2012, and he’s made it his mission to raise awareness, as he too is still learning more about the disease. He cut the ribbon with oversized purple scissors, and we were off. Sent as a sea of purple consuming the streets of D.C.

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Nothing makes me happier than doing something out of the ordinary with my Saturday. So you can imagine I’d been looking forward to this event for quite some time. Not only did I enjoy every bit of this day, but for the first time in a long time I was able to see my big sister smile. And it wasn’t just any old smile. If I could describe it in a word I would descibe it as a smile of relief. Relief to be surrounded by so many people who understood what she’s going through.

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That doesn’t mean that she magically felt a million times better, because she didn’t. I’d love to say that the walk was just what she needed. To get out, spend time with all of us, and be carefree. But it wasn’t. The reality of her disease is that no matter how hard she tries to ignore it, no matter how many people try to help, no matter how happy she is, her body is the one who eventually gets the last say, echoing in her mind “I’m done, I’m hurting.” Her joints ache with every movement. Her muscles cry out in fatigue, and weakness.

That afternoon the three of us girls went to a Nationals game with our husbands. Feeling perfectly content snapping photos, and giggling with Nadir, I thought surely Nem is feeling great. All I’ve seen her do is smile, but then I glanced over and noticed the slightest wince in her face as she was trying desperately to overcome her discomfort. I quickly remembered noticing the same face a few days before Christmas when the three of us girls went to see the Nutcracker ballet. She furrowed her brow next to me. She fidgeted in her seat. She was silent on the way home. And I remember thinking to myself “Why can’t you just be better? Why can’t I make you laugh? Why must an illness take over your physical body like it does? You are the big sister. You’re the one who’s supposed to tell me everything’s going to be ok.”

But she is such a fighter.

If I have 100 questions for her body she must have 10,000. Through hearing her descriptions of her symptoms I’m not so sure I could do it myself. I’m certain I would curl up in bed, and never leave my home. The fact that she is even able to get up most mornings is a wonder to me. I wanted the Lupus Walk to be the push she needed. I wanted it to help her. But all it could have ever done was make her happy inside, and feel the slightest bit of relief. Every day for her will be a new day with it’s own set of challenges, and flares.

I know you visited today dear reader with the expectation of sunshine and daisies. To be honest I thought that day would be perfect too. And while we had a good time together, there is no denying the fact that Lupus remains an ever existent disease. Thank you so much for reading. Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for your support in helping me raise awareness. When did people start believing that they are of no use to world change, peace, or disease? You may not be the most intelligable, nor are you much of a speaker, but do you know that it all begins with you? Awareness begins with the smallest of us crying out to the world for a change. After all, I’m just a baby sister praying for a cure.

Little Boys & Legos

By Natalie

It’s not a coincidence that I work in pediatrics. My mom has always been in the school or social system. One of my sisters is an elementary school teacher, and my other sister is a children’s pastor. There’s something in our blood that aids us in connecting with children. Who doesn’t want to listen to kids chattering on about nonsense? And build lego towers with them, or make everything out to be super exaggerated? Or maybe that’s just me. You never know what to expect from their little minds.

I loved passing out Goldfish to tiny preschoolers in Kid’s Church. I loved being a nanny, and watching princess movies with 3 little girls. I love discovering all the new versions of Connect Four with the kiddos at work. I love watching sweet girls that somehow know just what to do with baby dolls. They cradle them, and feed them as if they were their very own. It’s a mystery to me. And the boys, they are even more of a mystery to me. I am fascinated by their ability to build structures from a few simple blocks. I attempt to give my hot wheels cars a vroom sound, but it is nothing in comparison to the dozens of different sound effects little boys are able to concoct.

One day I was watching my two little nephews. We sat on the living room floor in the midst of wooden train tracks leading to nowhere. Toy cars, planes, and lego pieces scattered along the rug. I picked up a green lego and began doing what I typically revert to when it comes to legos. Build a house. Find that square flat green piece, and build yourself a house upon it. Do you think the thought to build a house even crossed my nephew’s mind? Maybe, but the thought to construct a plane was much greater at the moment.. While I was busy swiveling the front door to my lego house he was jumping all about, plane in hand creating sounds I can’t even begin to mimic. “That’s a nice plane.” I said. “Aunt Natalie it’s a biplane. Because It has this piece on top.” He pointed to the top wing I guess you could call it. “Well then, I stand corrected. A biplane.” I had no idea. The next time we drove by small Shannon Airport I excitedly pointed to the plane narrowing in on it’s runway. “That was a biplane.” I told B. “What? How do you know that?” he asked suspiciously. “Our 4 year old little nephew taught me that!” B nodded his head in assurance that little boys know their planes.

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What Bingley Has Taught Me

By Natalie

Whoever said a dog couldn’t be a girl’s best friend?

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I can tell you now that there is nothing like having a dog as a companion. Having Bingley means I’m never home alone. It means that sometimes when it’s just the two of us in the house and I feel the need to think aloud I’m not actually crazy because Bingley will listen. Having someone that depends on you does something to a person. Dogs think you’re awesome, always. No matter if you had a crummy day, or feel down and out. They’ll sit by you when you’re sad, and stare lovingly at you. Wishing to be more helpful, but all they know to do is scootch closer to you outstretching their paws. Truth is, that just having them around when we’re sad makes us feel a million times better.

On my day off when I need a break from house work Bingley leads me outside. He looks at me excitedly when I put his harness and leash on. “Really mama?! We’re going on a walk? You’re the best!” Then he parades around the neighborhood proudly showing off his owner. He takes a short nap when we get back, and when I need fresh air once more he gladly hops up to sit outside with me. Baby boy loves his backyard. If I thought he loved the snow he loves the spring even more. So many new scents popping up for his precious little nose to take in. He has taught me to stop for a moment to notice even the smallest bits of creation that pass through our backyard. He marvels at the birds chirping, he tries desperately to catch butterflies, and bumble bees, as he’s amazed at all their flying glory.

Owning a dog has proven to me that I’m not all so bad. If I’m anything like most people, I’m my own worst critic. If anyone were to put an end to me with their harsh words or thoughts it would be myself. If I’ve done something wrong I can’t let it go, and have the hardest time accepting forgiveness. Whenever I feel that way, and just wish to wallow in my misery silently beating myself up Bingley will lay next to me. He’ll look up with those puppy eyes thinking “You’re not all so bad mama. I love you.” And sometimes every now and then we all need to hear that. Even if it’s through the silent stares of our dog’s eyes.

People say don’t get too close to your dog. Your dog isn’t a human. You are not a mother. And yes, that’s true, but not bonding with your little pup is next to impossible. When something is dependant on you, and you watch it grow it’s impossible to not worry about them when they’re sick, or care for them with everything inside you. So this one’s for my Bingley bug, and all those dog owners out there who are brave enough to let a little wet nose into their heart..

5 Reasons to Prove I’m a Grownup Kid

By Natalie

  1. I love everything Disney. I held onto my old disney VHS tapes for the longest time. B convinced me to get rid of all of them, and said that one day I could get the dvds. But come on, once your married and paying a mortgage it’s not so easy to reestablish your disney collection. You have to do things like buy new fridges, and get your chimney swept.
  2. I use tissues with lotion when I have a stuffy nose. Ok that’s normal. Most people do… but do most adults get boogie wipes for themselves? The last time I was sick I begged Brandon not to laugh at me for getting boogie wipes. For those who are not parents, Boogie Wipes are basically a baby wipe for kid noses. They’re soothing, and made with natural saline! Let’s be honest, even the tissues with lotion can chap the stuffiest nose. Now that you’re curious about them yourself here’s a link to relief.
  3. Every time I go to Chick-fil-a I get a 6 count nuggets kids meal, and trade my toy for an ice cream cone.
  4. I always beg Brandon to make me a chocolate milkshake at night. Just to give you an idea of how bad of a habit this is for me, there was one night recently that I even waltzed over to the bed and sat down sipping on my milkshake. I looked over at B. “Well?” I said. “What?” He said confused. “Aren’t you going to thank me for making my own milkshake tonight?” B laughed. “Now I need to thank you for making your own milkshake?!” And then I realized he was right, I was being a bit ridiculous. I know my sisters must be shaking their heads while they read this. As they were the ones who once succumbed to my requests. Except my middle sister Nadir. Nem, the oldest, always spoiled me because I was the baby. Whenever I call her she still greets me by saying “Hi baby.” And I kind of smile a bit, because I am the baby. When Nem and I went to Europe in 2006 I was not a fan of the food. If I ended up with something I didn’t like, and I thought hers was better she’d trade with me without hesitation. Nadir however, she was sure to keep the spoiling to a minimum. I’d stare at her with her bag of pretzels that she always seemed to be munching on. When she noticed I was interested she would look me right in the eyes, and straight faced she’d finish eating, and close the bag up greedily proving her point. She also had this spinning toy that she kept on a shelf, and I was never aloud to play with it. I would beg her to try the contraption, but she always refused. She never used it, or did anything with the toy. It was almost like she kept it around just to taunt me. I’m curious if she even remembers it. That all makes her sound pretty mean, but as you could assume if it weren’t for her my expectations of people would be way too high. I’d never do anything for myself, and I’d always expect to get whatever I want. Who knew siblings could teach you such valuable lessons?
  5. I begged my mom for a puppy when I was a kid. I begged my husband for a puppy when we got married. When we finally did get a puppy Brandon got up in the middle of the night to take him out every time. I maybe got up less than ten times during those 2-3 months. B still gets up early to let Bingley out, and feed him. I like to say that I take care of all the playing and cuddling time with Bingleybug. My mom knew what she was doing. She knew me, and she knew I would have a tough time caring for an animal, so she stuck me with beta fish, and kitty cats. And I will say, she did warn Brandon.

So maybe that all proves I’m a kid at heart. But the more I read it the more I feel I’ve just outed myself as extremely spoiled. Either way, there’s a bit of knowledge about me. Natalie Poe, forever the baby of the family. Forever an ice cream lover. Forever a kid.

When Pollen Attacks

By Natalie

To all of you who suffer during allergy season, fear not. You’re not alone. I write to you urgently in between sneezes. I never suffered from allergies, until a couple years ago. Oh what a wonderful 20 years that was. Enjoying the Spring air with no worry of pollen count. My nose is runny, and red. My throat feels tender. My face hurts. Everything in my head feels itchy. I can hear fluid enter my ears while I blow my nose. My coworkers stare, silently telling me that they will not bless me after the third sneeze in a row. I carry around pocket hand sanitzer, as they are convinced I’m a germ cloud. I pick B up from work, tell him about my day, and he chuckles at my congested nasaly voice. Personal tissues with Lotion sit at my desk at work. Honey and tea now sit with my regular sandwich in my lunchbox.

If you are a fellow allergy sufferer like me I am sorry for you. I figured I could compile a simple list for you on how to get through this Spring season. Any helpful tips you have to send my way are of course always greatly appreciated.

  • Tissues with Lotion – Otherwise your little nose will be raw my friend.
  • Chapstick – I have Yes to Blueberries and I love it! Highly Recommend.

Lip-Balm

  • Tea – My personal favorite is Chamomille.
  • Honey – from a local farmers market, as apparently it can help to have the honey from local bees.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup – It’s super easy to make so I’m going to share my homemade recipe with you! Now I don’t do too well when it comes to measurements because I just kind of make it up as I go along. So don’t take them too literally now. Adjust them according to how many you’re feeding.

Homemade Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Broth (Or Chicken Bouillon if you don’t have broth
  • Noodles (I like a small amount of noodles for this soup)
  • 2-3 Potatos
  • 1-2 Carrots, or several baby carrots
  • 3-4 Stalks of Celery
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Chicken (I’ve made this soup with canned chicken if you want something quick. I’ve also used leftover rotisserie chicken before. Or cubed cooked chicken. Either one works perfect!)
  • Salt to taste
  • Two Shakes of Parsley

Directions:

Peel, and cube your potatoes. Chop your carrots and celery. I usually boil my potatoes, noodles, and carrots seperately in water since they take a little longer, for fear of boiling away all of my chicken broth. Not totally necessary, but that’s what I do. Then I pour my chicken broth in a pot with the chicken. Keep on medium to high heat. Add your celery, and cilantro. Once your other stuff has softened strain them, and add to the broth. Add salt to taste, and Voilà. You have yourself chicken noodle soup. Serve with Ritz or Saltines!

I know what you’re thinking. That’s it? She didn’t even make her own broth! Don’t judge me, I never said I was a chef. I need one of those I kiss better than I cook signs in my kitchen, because I make do with the cooking skills I have. Ask my husband. When you’re sick, and feeling crummy there’s no way you’re going to spend forever in the kitchen making yourself soup. So this is a simple recipe. Something to get you by. Stay strong my fellow pollon hater. I hope I’ve helped.

Fixing Up the House

By Natalie

It’s the end of the first beautiful weekend of spring, and we got all of our spring cleaning done! That’s right! Allergies have hit me hard this weekend but I’ve persevered for the better of our home. We decided to paint some rooms in our house this weekend, and it was inevitable that once B pulled all the furniture out I had to run around to dust, and clean. We painted our front door today to match our black shutters, and I’m so pleased with it!

Here’s the before: B was already taping, when I realized I didn’t have a before picture, so I snuck one in. We also had a storm door before. We had to remove it to fit our new fridge, and found that we preferred the look of the front door without it.

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After

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This was one of those simple projects that makes a huge difference in the look of our house. Here’s another one of those simple projects that makes a huge difference. A while ago we decided to switch out all of our old beat up gold doorknobs for nickel ones.

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unnamedAlright, the last thing I have to brag about for now is this gorgeous wrought iron hose holder we found hiding in Wally World of all places! There aren’t too many options out there for housing hoses. I quickly voiced to B that I was not a fan of the large boxes where you unravel the hose. Am I the only one who meticulously watches for spiders while unraveling? Those boxes seem to be a breeding ground for bugs! I much prefer the hose being exposed. So of course, when B spotted this beauty I was all for it!

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I hope that was a bit of an inspiration for you. Warmer weather is on the horizon! Stretch out your green thumbs people! And best of luck to you in your own spring cleaning ventures.

Confessions of a Commuter

By Natalie

I95

Like most young commuters I have begun to loathe my drive. “It’s not so bad.” you’ll tell people. It’s only ‘x’ amount of minutes. Then come to find out you were driving on a holiday, and the very next day the real traffic hits. “Still not too bad.” You think to yourself. And then while you’re sitting in the midst of brake lights you calculate your work time + actual drive time, and that’s when you want to curl up into a ball, because it’s a horribly upsetting number.

I’ve learned that there are different types of commuters. There’s the seasoned commuter who is numb to his drive, as he’s done it for so long.
There’s the new commuter who thinks it isn’t all so bad. Just yet… There’s the regular commuter, who is typically the most aggressive one. And then there are those reverse commuters. You know, the ones commuting south. Those people that we envy with their long steady drive.

It’s baffling to me that on the random occasion I need to go to the main hospital of my job in Richmond it takes me 50 minutes. FLAT. It’s 52.8 miles away. No matter what time of day, no matter the weather It’s 50 minutes flat every time. Now when I go to my normal job in Aquia I have to leave at the right time which is a very small 5 minute window. If I leave in that window, to get there on time it takes me about 45 minutes. It’s 20.4 miles away. Typical drive time should be about a 25 minutes, but during the rush hours typical drive time nearly doubles. Can’t we all just agree to not brake on the highway, and merge in perfect harmony? Can we all just agree to see blue lights ahead, and not worry what all the fuss is about. Stay the same pace, and quit complaining about rubberneckers, YOU RUBBERNECKER.

I’ve already become callused to my drive, annoyed by everyone around me. Just recently there was no where for me to merge onto i95. Tractor trailer man, what makes you think that it’s just ok for you to accelerate so I’m unable to merge? Is it funny to see me have to loop back around and try again? Because if so, the joke’s on you buddy. You better believe I’m going to make it in front of you.

Alas, now I’m home. Swiftly driving down my exit, only to be stopped at every red light!! At this point I’ve already had a dog who’s been in his crate for way too long, and a husband waiting to be picked up from work, as we are rockin one car as of late. What’s worse is that I somehow get the privilege of being stuck behind every slow driver in Fredericksburg. The boys are waiting for me people! Get out of my way! It’s almost 7 pm Do you know how hungry they’ll be?!

So maybe I’m being a baby about it. Maybe tonight was just a bad drive. Maybe I’ll get used to it. But if I know myself at all I’m sure maybe not…

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