Archive of ‘Life’ category

Christmas in the City

By Natalie

imageBrandon and I began our day in the 7th street public market in hopes that two equisitely made lattes would scare away our sleepy eyes. Much to my excitement we found that the streets of Uptown Charlotte had been hit by the Christmas bug.

This weather is not convincing me that Christmas is around the corner. The mornings are just a bit chilly, covering car windshields with the slightest layer of frost. But by the time the sun really wakes up the frost melts, and it hits the upper 50s by lunchtime… Thankfully it’s at least starting to look and sound like Christmas around these parts, even though the weather insists on being warm.

There’s nerd nutcrackers, gingerbread houses to model Charlotte shops, toy soldiers, giant presents in the park. And on top of all that you can find musicians every few blocks. I had a bundle of ones in my wallet so I decided to share it with an elderly man who was puffing beautiful Christmas music into his trumpet. I dropped the money in his jar, and with his lips still pressed to the mouthpiece he smiled at me, and gave me a thumbs up. His sound carried for blocks, putting everyone in the best sort of spirit, to be reminded that Christmas is just around the corner.

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imageWe had some time to kill Sunday afternoon so Brandon and I were pushed onto the city streets. It was the best kind of afternoon. The kind that provides perfect sweater weather, and emits love into the air. Sometimes I forget just how nice it is to walk with my husband hand in hand. It’s the sweetest thing on earth.

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As much as I am in love with the skyscrapers I have to say they are no match for the city’s Christmas tree.

Don’t you just love these extra tall Christmas trees that stop the people in the streets to gaze in wonder? It’s no Rockefeller center, but it’s in our neck of the woods, and it’s perfect.

imageAnd big giant ornaments littered along the way to match. How grand is that?

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imageMerry Christmas everybody. Here’s some happy reindeer to put all of you Scrooges in the mood. They’re happy, I can just tell.

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This November

By Natalie

Well it’s November. In my mind that calls for a few really good cups of apple cider and caramel. One really bad change of weather head cold. Mittens and scarves, and a few loaves of homemade Pumpkin Bread for good measure. I’ve been abiding by all of these lately including the rather unfortunate cold. I’ve survived it ladies and gentleman, and have returned to tell you the tale. There was a whole lot of coughing, and sniffling. Tea, tissues, Nyquil and I even broke out the snuggie while resting up with some classics on Netflix. That was this past week in a nutshell. Me sadly making my own chicken soup, realizing I’d long past the age and independence where my mother would make it for me. What a sad day that was. She makes the best chicken soup. But I’m on to her, she adds an extra pinch of love I think. Here’s the Chicken Soup Recipe.

Back to being ill. I was a mess.

I’m telling you, if you can find someone who loves you through the crusty nose, fatigue, and vicks vapor rub on your chest you’ve got it all. You don’t vow in sickness and in health for nothing. Because I’d argue that when you’re sick, you come closest to the truest version of yourself. Trading stye for comfort, loving for needy, and daily tasks for extra sleep. That’s why it’s so important to have a companion who’s aware of the real you. Because no matter how independant we try to act it’s nice to be taken care of every now and then.

Do you want to know a secret? I’m feeling better now, and I’m sort of bummed out because B has been learning through every sickness how to better care for me. He’s been by my side just to keep me company. Reminding me to laugh at my severe congestion, and succumbing to most all of my silly requests. So yes, I’m going to miss it. Not only was it the extra hubby care but the snuggles with a pup who knows I’m not feeling well, and the ‘Woe is me’ on the couch talk that got me whatever I wanted. During this month of thanks I’m grateful for my health now, but even more grateful for a husband who’s there when I need him most.

As for my plans for the rest of the month I’ll be loading up on my chewable vitamin C, because as much fun as it is to cuddle with the kiddos at work while I’m sick it’s even better to run around and play when I’m well.

B and I will be traveling to Fredericksburg to see the fam for Thanksgiving. We’re signed up for green salad, and pumpkin bread this year, because I make a mean pumpkin bread. In fact, I’ll even share my recipe with you…

Homemade Pumpkin Bread

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) Pumpkin Puree
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 2 3/4 cups White Sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • Glaze (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 7x3in loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl mix pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until blended. Pour into loaf pans.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick comes out clean.

In years past I’ve made this pumpkin bread as more of a dessert item adding a sugary  glaze to the top of the loaf. Either way turns out delicious! Enjoy!

Fathers + Daughters

By Natalie

IMG_6907IMG_6909Around here you’ll find alot of talk on marriage, and dog ownership. You’ll find what we’ve been up to lately, and the latest funny story, or diy project I’ve disciplined myself to create. But every now and then you’re going to see one of these posts. Because blossomed father daughter relationships just get me in the feels.

A few houses down from us there’s this little girl that runs outside in the morning with sleepy eyes, and footie pajamas. She has to run out there every morning to say goodbye to her dad when he leaves for work. Some days when I’m out I’ll even see her give him kisses when he comes home. What’s it like I’ve always wondered to see your dad walk through the door after a long work day and scoop you up into his arms? To smile at the life and home he shares with your sweet little face?

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When we were in California we stayed with cousins for a few days. We were all getting dressed up for B’s grandparents 60th wedding anniversary party. B and I sat on the couch talking to his cousin Jordan waiting for each of the kiddos to run out into the living room ready to go. Selah ran out twirling her dress around with confidence only a child could have. Jordan looked down at his eldest daughter and stopped speaking mid sentence in order to admire her.

“You look beautiful Selah.” He said.

In which she blushingly responded, “Thank you daddy.”

Oh man. Four little words… It got me first right in the throat. Then it took my heart and squeezed it a bit. I have never heard such precious words exchanged between two people. He stopped what he was saying to look at his daughter and remind her of her beauty. It’s my life’s mission to scream from the rooftops to dads out there that this is the stuff fatherhood is made of. Encouraging your children in their creativity and imagination, and admiring the person they are becoming.

IMG_6911IMG_6912Recently I was reading a blog I follow Scissortail Silk, when I came across an older post Daddies Love Just as Much as Mommies. I’ve spent alot of time speaking to fathers about how important it is for them to love on their daughters, because they could never know how much of an impact they will make on their daughters lives. In addition to loving on their little girls I’ve stated how important it is to treat their wives with admiration, and respect for the children to see. I’ve also said alot about daughters being receptive to dads who are trying, and have been there for them. Those are all important to consider however I never thought about how wives need to also be encouraging to the father daughter relationship. And even the father son relationship as well. Daddies Love Just as Much as Mommies sums it up so perfectly I thought I would just share it with you, in case you’ve fallen short, and need a bit of encouragement.

Thanks Jordan, for being yet another dad that has been a part of healing my past through the beauty of your fatherhood. Keep lovin on your babies.

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Intro

By Natalie

Greetings from Charlotte!

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1 16ft moving truck, 1 dog tranquilizer, several sad goodbyes, and 6 hours later we made it to our new home.

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As I drove out of our neighborhood I got just the slightest bit sentimental. Because we grew up in Fredericksburg. We dated in Fredericksburg. We married in Fredericksburg. It’s the one place that holds so many memories. It’s everything we know, yet Brandon lives for things outside of his comfort zone. And Fredericksburg, it was a comfort zone for both of us. So we were lead to Charlotte for a new beginning, and lots to explore. 

On the home front.. Bingley has mastered the complexity of stairs. 

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He’s loving a sliding door to people watch, and I’m taking comfort in the familiarity of our belongings. 

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Yesterday morning I went grocery shopping in South Carolina, because that’s about a 15 minute drive away. Carolinas I’m already blown away by your southern hospitality, and killer sweet tea. My grocery options are no longer a Wegmans, Giant, or Food Lion, but a Harris Teeter and Publix. I tried Publix out first just because and I was so pleasantly surprised at how fresh their produce was. Every single employee I passed greeted me. This a pretty big deal considering my latest grocery shopping memories in Fredericksburg’s Wegmans was a woman pushing past me to weigh her Bananas at the ticket station I was literally seconds away from using. I mean my goodness I even wrote a post on How to Get Out of the Grocery Store Alive.

When I got to the checkout the girl asked if she could unload my cart. What? Unload it onto the conveyer belt? “That’s ok I got it.” I said. Then she bagged my groceries while the cashier rang me up. When I was finished she began pushing the cart and insisted that she help me unload the groceries.  When we finished unloading the groceries in the trunk I spewed out all sorts of thank yous and have a great day’s. Then when I got in the car I had the biggest smile on  my face because everyone was just so pleasant. Now all of a sudden I find it so sad that people are not more kind in passing just because. Because why not?? Why not smile at the person you’re passing in the grocery store? Why not be extremely appreciative that yes the 8th employee you’ve seen in the grocery store has asked you how you’re doing this morning, and if you need any assistance? You know what? I think I may be a happier person down here. Just a hunch. 

Then guess what else? When I pulled in to our home our neighbor was in her car and she said hello, and stretched her hand out to introduce herself. Then she said “Welcome to the neighborhood.” with this big ol smile on her face. So yes, we miss everyone back in Fredericksburg, but so far we are loving this new place we’re calling home.

And just because how could I not? Share the first day in our first house… and the last.

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A Dozen

By Natalie

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Yesterday morning I attempted to pour milk into my freshly pressed coffee and it didn’t seem to pour. As I rubbed my eyes, adjusted my glasses, and looked a bit closer I noticed that the cap to the milk was still on. If that doesn’t describe this move I don’t know what will. It’s been an exhausting week, and no matter how many cups of coffee I drank by the end of the day I still found myself nearly asleep on the hard wood floor next to Bingley on the dog bed at 9:30pm, because Bingley, well… he’s been frazzled too.

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It’s been exciting, it’s been emotional. It’s been a whirlwind really. Our time in Fredericksburg is quickly coming to an end. That’s becoming more real to me now, as I believe it has become for our loved ones here.

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Basically Bingley has been a whole lotta trouble, jumping all over my sister while she sat on the floor attempting to organize, and wrap precious belongings. He plopped himself in the middle of the kitchen like a ton of bricks as my aunt tried to maneuver around him. He’s gotten his wet nose all over me while he sniffs inside a box. He’s been clingy and barked to get himself back inside where the people are. But he’s also licked up the spills, been quite a bit of comic relief, and found quiet corners to fall asleep in. He’s found me when I’m taking a break and sitting on the floor, and comes to rest near me. Basically yes, dogs are a handful. Dogs are a nuisance, but this dog… he’s a whole lotta sweet, and a whole lotta handsome as well.

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It’s the last Monday in our house in Fredericksburg. We’re soaking it in. Bingley’s sitting in the morning light with his nighttime jammies still on, which in this house means he’s roaming collarless. B is in his office shredding lots of papers, and packing up his belongings. I’m in the craft room sitting near a naked desk, and bare walls. My coffee is still hot, and I think I’m ready for the day. I’ve moved 11 times before this.. I think making it a dozen will be just fine.

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Outro

By Natalie

It seems appropriate that the news I’m about to share comes to you late. The news comes late because we’ve been pretty crazy busy lately. We’ve been out of town.. looking for a place to live. We’ve been putting boxes together and packing our belongings up. There’s a pile of them in the living room as I speak. We’re moving and I can hardly believe it myself. But do you know what? We’re excited. It’s going to be an adventure. A spontaneous adventure, and those are my favorite after all.

Say hello to our new home

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Here’s the thing… Would you believe me if I told you that the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through was losing  Samson? It’s ok you can say there she goes again, but listen… Would you believe me if I told you that the whole occurrence, and series of events after affected me rather traumatically? That I developed terrible anxiety, and grew uncomfortable in my own neighborhood. In my own front yard. In my own home? Samson was a part of this home, and it’s too hard. When I sit in the back yard I remember him, and how he’d play. When I pull into the driveway I see the front yard, and can hardly look at the sad garden that never got finished because that’s where it happened. Just as we broke ground to plant flowers, and do you know, I could never bring myself to go back out there? Believe me or not a piece of me was broken off when we lost him. The experience has made me stronger, and I’ve learned to get through it. I realize it might not be the most popular thing to talk about but he was my inspiration for writing again. I was so broken down, so saddened, hurt, and confused. The only way I was able to cope was to write about it. Allowing my voice and heart to be heard is the only thing I desired in the end. I no longer wished for apologies for being shut up and shamed. I only wished for someone to hear me out, and understand my struggle. Thus I wrote about him. And I prefer to keep him that way. Locked away in my words, and memories. Of course this is no reason to move a state away but it does make the move the slightest bit easier. I leave this home, and Samson stays with it.

B found new work in Charlotte if you’re really wondering, and I’m very proud of how far he’s come. I’m grateful for a husband who wants to take his little family on new adventures. I’m grateful for a husband who works hard, and has dreams for himself and his family.

We’re both natives of Fredericksburg. Virginia has been home for nearly 25, and 23 years. But we’re ready. It’ll be a time for us to grow closer together, build a new life, and rely on God as we should be. And being around when our new niece is born… well that’ll be a huge plus.

God has provided for us. He has blessed Brandon with work. He has blessed us with a new home to live in. He has done it all so quickly, and graciously. How could it not be the right decision when I feel it in the depths of my soul? He has planned this for us, and has whispered it in my ear. He is excited for us still, to see how we grow.

Now if you’ll excuse me I believe Bingley is jumping in and out of some empty boxes.

Farewell Fredericksburg Friends.

Love & Long Distance

By Natalie

As I’ve been married I’ve grown more of an appreciation for those who are able to maintain a relationship long distance. I don’t know if appreciation is really the right term to use. Maybe fascination because I’m not so sure that I would ever be able to do it, and couldn’t imagine having to make that type of sacrifice. I have two friends who are in this boat, and I’ve asked them to share their stories for me, and for all.

Casey is a marine wife.

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Her husband Ethan has recently come home from a 7 month deployment. They’ve been married for 2 years.

During his last month of deployment I kept track of her updates. She was preparing their home, and eagerly awaiting his return. As I myself was anxiously awaiting I thought for sure that he would be home any day, and when I asked she said that he wasn’t due to be home until another couple weeks. If I’m on the other side of the country getting anxious about it, I can only imagine how she must feel as his wife. I’ve mentioned before that I have what Brandon calls light at the end of the tunnel syndrome. I’m telling you, I couldn’t do it. To wait 7 long months husbandless, as a newlywed at that. Knowing all the wonderful joys that marriage brings, and then all of a sudden your husband goes off, and you’re left to live your life by your lonesome. Those last couple weeks I’d curl up into a ball I tell you, unable to cope with the anxiety.

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Casey’s experience with long distance in her own words…

I have started this, erased it all, and started again nearly 100 times now. Each time I wrote out a page, it sounded so depressing and sad, and I didn’t want it to be that way, because being in a long distance relationship, or in my case being married to an active duty marine is in fact easy, and not sad at all.

It’s hard to explain to most, even fellow marine wives will give me a look like I am wearing one of those tinfoil ‘hats’ from the movie signs “What do you mean it’s easy!?” They’ll say.

It honestly is easy! Okay, I will admit that there have been a few rough times where I’ve sat in my room and had a good ugly cry for about 15 minutes, but I got up and went on with my day.

When I began dating my husband I knew within two weeks that I was madly in love with him. No, I was not a psycho or a stalker, he felt the same. He even had a romantic night planned to tell me, which I ruined when I couldn’t even go two minutes without wanting to blurt out I love you.

Another thing that was different for us was that two weeks later he was gone, starting his journey in the Marines. So we really got to know each other better through letters, texts, phone calls, email and skype. 

In our relationship so far we have spent about 28 months apart. That’s basically half of our relationship. To make it last we knew we had to put our best foot forward and just do it, clinging to the old quote “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Honestly, I couldn’t describe it any better myself. I knew I loved him before we began a distance relationship, but I fell even more in love with him through getting to know him from afar.

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Maggie has been dating her boyfriend Brad for just over a year and a half. They met in college, and after going their separate ways after graduation they found that living and hour and a half away from each other wasn’t all so bad. They visit one another as much as possible, alternating weeks making the trip to the other’s home. When work gets too busy and even the bi-weekly visits become difficult, they meet halfway for dinner and enjoy the presence of each other’s company.

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Maggie’s experience with long distance in her own words.

My experience with long distance relationships is unique. I have seen so many friends in relationships with more miles between and harder circumstances, so I am grateful in so many ways for just seventy miles between us. There are days where that trip feels like a few neighborhoods over, and days—more often, nights, that turns the seventy miles into seven hundred. The unfortunate part about those miles, aside from being apart, is that anyone local understands that a lot of traffic can happen between Arlington and Spotsylvania. It took us a few tries last summer to understand how we could make visits work without taking too much time away from family, work, and most of all, savings. With the support of both of our families as we live at home for now, we have successfully managed alternating weeks to visit and understanding when life happens and visits can’t.

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In any difficult situation, I believe the most important, and quite often, the toughest part is staying positive. We are both so thankful for everything in our lives, and thankful that we are able to be together at all. I think that’s when it struck me that this was going to be a serious commitment and change in the relationship.. and I wasn’t scared. I was and am happier giving it my all an hour and a half away, and on those visits, than to be with someone else who is conveniently next door. Cheesey? Maybe, but I don’t care. I can speak for both of us when I say that we will be happy when the gap between us is closed, and though I am not sure when that will be, I know in time I will be grateful for this last year in our commuter-relationship. The experience has made our relationship stronger, we value our time together in a different way now, and we can know now without a doubt that distance sucks — but it is able to be conquered.

-Margaret

Out Here on the West Coast

By Natalie

On Thursday we waved goodbye to Virginia, who unfortunately is still married to humidity, and we traveled all the way to California to get away from it all. To take a break from the work week. A rest from the hustle and bustle of life. A time to rejuvenate ourselves, and enjoy experiences together. Leaving our crazy ball of energy labrador in the most trusting hands of a good friend. That was the only hard part.

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Saving, and planning for a vacation may not ever be the most fun thing to do, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. We’re the type of people that would rather sacrifice the day to day pleasures, and conveniences, like cable, a huge house in the suburbs, and a car for each of us, to be able to save for experiences. I would highly recommend such a lifestyle.

Because travel does the heart and mind good.

Waking up extra early to go to the airport isn’t always the most fun, but when you find that you and your father in law are twinsies, and you’ve hardly slept from the excitement of packing, it kind of makes it all better.

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I love love love flying. I have to say though, while once flying standby may have tainted that particular experience, it has not quite tainted my love of airports, and all the cultures they bring together. I still get anxious when I fly, like most people. Claustrophobic, oddly hungry, and worst of all for the window seat, a bad case of the nervous pee’s. But! It hasn’t shied me away from traveling yet, because when I travel I feel refreshed, creative, and at my most loving, and observant state. Which as a writer is of the utmost import!

For now I’ll leave you with just a little something.

What’s in Natalie’s Carry on?

  • Yarn, and crochet hooks – To work on a new baby blanket for a particular new niece who’s coming soon!
  • My most recent book club book – The Book Thief
  • Chapstick
  • Phone – For photos mostly.
  • Notepad – For jotting down my observations.

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And surprise! It’s a sleepy Brandon. He is the greatest. He worked so very hard to get us out on this vacation, and planned every little piece of it. I promise you, I couldn’t appreciate him more.

Stay tuned for more on our trip! 
 
Love,
The Poes

Samson, My Samson

By Natalie

Today I miss you.

Most days I miss you.

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The sweet dog smell that I loved to take in for the first time in my life. I miss our cuddles. I miss how you laid behind me while I cooked. I miss how happy you would get when we’d come home. I miss your sweet low groans when you’d get excited about something.

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I loved watching you play. I loved rescuing you. I loved giving you a home. I loved the feeling of attachment I had with you. But it made it so much harder. I can’t explain to you the traumatizing emotions I felt when I had to see you in the shelter after you were taken away. Dozens of dogs barked constantly around you. Volunteers screaming behind closed doors. And there you sat in your own filth because who has the time to take out a dog who’s on death row? I want to forget the nightmare. I want to ignore that they never gave you the toys I left. I want to forget how you whined in confusion while you watched me walk away.

But I never want to forget the last time I held you. In that small little room, just the three of us, and with tears in my eyes I tried my best to apologize to you.

I am so sorry my Samson. Sorry I couldn’t give you a better life. Sorry the opinions of people hold so much value. But thanks sweet boy, for being such a joy to me while I had you. For teaching Brandon and I to grow closer together through it all. For showing us who true friends are. And simply for being the light in my life that you were.

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The Trouble with Reviews

By Natalie

What is our trouble with unhappy endings? I’m not just talking about the stories that end poorly, I’m talking about the stories with unsatisfying endings. They get to us. And there we are pleading desperately for more closure. I recently stopped by the library downtown to pick up a couple of books. Because books lately have been a healthy food to my mind. I just needed to pick up a few quick reads to get me through the weekend. I finished a book called The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, and it was a book that caused me to think. Which is more than I could ask for in an author. The story was kind of tragic really. But the more I think about it the more I attach myself to the story.

The trouble with book reviews and any review for that matter is that everyone has differing opinions. I become frustrated with the people who rate everything 5 stars because not everything is worthy of 5 stars. But I also grow frustrated when I see people rate stories so poorly. There’s just too great of a spectrum. Too many different genres to compare one from the other. You must compare mysteries on the scale of other mysteries. Classics on the scale of other classics. Just because something was a different genre doesn’t necessarily mean that it is worse. Different stories speak to different people.

Let’s unpack this for a second. Reviews should be based on such things as storyline and character development. Intrigue certainly has grounds to be judged, for what good is a story if it does not capture you? Emotion of all things certainly should not have a large role in a review, because we are all innately biased. We are creatures of opinion, with differing morals, and all walks of life. This is why it frustrates me when people rate a story too low simply because they do not agree with the lifestyle of the characters.

Upon finishing The Spectacular Now I felt so empty. Before giving this book a low review I stopped to think… In a way the author did his job. I felt just as empty as the main character of the story. And isn’t that the point? To relate with in some way, to feel what the characters feel? To emerge yourself in the story and be overcome with emotion over the characters. Ok ok you’re about to have an intervention with me. Natalie… too many books. Never. Like I said, reading has been good for the mind. Swirling my imagination in every which direction. Giving me fuel to write myself. It is one of the only things that keeps me writing.

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 And so… I just had to say that not all stories have happy endings. And that’s difficult to accept because we all want happy endings. Hence the reason the movie version of this book just had to take the extra five minutes to provide closure. To give you what you wanted. But is that honest? Is life really full of all happy endings? No. And that’s why I kind of loved this book. The main character Sutter Keely was the most tragic character. In the end he felt he was this certain type of person and he loved this girl, but he wanted what was best for her. And it wasn’t him. As much as you wanted it to be him, you know it wasn’t. But you admire him for doing all he did for her anyway.

This is all just to say that the next time you review something take a second to think about the story. Did you not like it because it was poorly told. Or did you not like it because it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to?

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