Family

Twenty Eight 22

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In a mere eleven days, I’ll be turning twenty-eight years old.

As a matter of fact, I’ll be turning twenty-eight on the twenty-eighth, which means this year is my golden birthday!

I’ve imagined my golden birthday on many occasions, and always seem to conjure up visions of travelling with a group of friends to New Orleans or Las Vegas and wearing a sparkly gold dress so that I would literally be golden on my golden birthday.

Yes, these are the things I choose to occupy my brain with.

Instead, we’ll be spending the weekend with Scott’s family, who is coming to visit us in Minnesota for our annual summer get together. Honestly, playing sand volleyball and going to the lake will probably be a lot more fun than spending way too much money on sparkly mini skirts and plane tickets–even if it means I’ll be covered with mosquito bites as opposed to gold sequins. The older I get, the more I realize that spending time with those you care about trumps wearing a fancy outfit any day of the week. (Managing to do both at the same time? #Winning.)

My upcoming birthday has caused me to think less about sparkly dresses, and more about my existence in general. Realistically, I’m about 1/3 of the way through this big adventure we call life. This has made me consider where I’m at and where I want to go next. What have I already accomplished? What do I still want to accomplish? Is this where I thought I’d be at the age of twenty-eight?

I believe major life events, and birthday’s in particular, are a great time for a good old self-evaluation. Let’s see how I measure up.

Stuff I’m proud of:

Earning my master’s degree: Let’s just say I’m glad this is out of the way.

My job: I got really lucky here. I work as a web designer at one of the best organizations in the world. I love the people I work with and the changes we are striving for.

My marriage: Spoiler alert: marriage is not easy. Not at all. The day after my birthday Scott and I will celebrate our fifth anniversary. It’s been extremely challenging yet incredible rewarding — I’m particularly proud of this one.

Starting this blog and working on my book proposal.

My friends: I have an amazing network of people I’ve been lucky enough to know as a result of my time spent in Washington, New York, Nebraska and now Minnesota. When I think of the special peeps I know all over the country, I can’t help but smile.

Being SO INCREDIBLY CLOSE to paying off our student loans. There may or may not be a trip to Australia in the works once this goal is accomplished

 

Stuff I need to work on:

Save more money: Believe it or not, I think the plan is to stay in Minnesota and (gasp!) buy a house. This means I need to stop giving all of my money to Nordstroms and fatten up our piggy bank a bit lot.

Arrange life and finances so that Scott and I are able to start a family: Insert second gasp here.

Spend more time on my book proposal: This is currently my biggest goal, and I’ve been majorly slacking.

Be a better wife:  I’m trying my best to tame my control-freak tendencies and lighten up a bit, for the sake of Scott’s sanity.

Get my fitness and nutrition in line: Moving to Minnesota caused me to fall off the wagon, and I’ve been wallowing in a pool of greasy apple fritters ever since. It’s not pretty. (But it sure has been tasty!)

Focus on the important things: I’m pretty incredibly materialistic. This needs to become less of a priority in my life.

Be less of a people pleaser: While I’m incredibly honest on this here blog, I tend to be kind of a push-over in real life, and have serious issues with confrontation.

 

Stuff that’s surprised me:

I don’t have it all figured out: As a teenager and woman in my early twenties, I thought that surely, the magic switch of adulthood would have flipped on by age twenty-eight, resulting in a perfect and flawless life. I think I’m finally realizing that the magic switch of adulthood doesn’t exist.

It’s just the two three of us: The younger version of myself would have thought that we’d for sure have some non-chihuahua children at this point. While I certainly didn’t predict that we would start a family later in life, I’m really happy with our decision to wait on the whole having kids thing.

We’re still renting: My younger self would probably be shocked to know that at twenty-eight, I would be living in an apartment. And not just any apartment. An apartment that is in walking distance of the mall. (This is the part where my younger self screams in sheer terror.) I’m learning to love the freedom of renting, and have slowly accepted the fact that when you’ve moved six times in the last six years, owning a home isn’t always in the cards.

My metabolism has slowed down: I distinctly remember at the age of sixteen saying “I’m so glad I can eat whatever I want! I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to go on a diet…I love food way too much.” This is the part where I’d like to go back in time and punch my sixteen-year old self in her perfectly sculpted abs and then yank on her pony tail before force feeding her a giant salad covered in non-fat dressing.

I’m becoming my parents: Both of them. I look like them, I act like them, I’ve picked up their good and bad habits. I’ve also started incorporating phrases they’ve coined into my daily vocabulary. “Uff Da!”, “That really frosts me.” and “Looking sharp!” are prime examples of this.

Even more frightening? The moments I look at my reflection in the mirror and see my younger brother Janss, wearing mascara, staring back at me.

My tastes haven’t changed: Scott loves to remind me that I still have the tastes of a fourteen-year-old when it comes to television, music, and even literature. I think he’s just jealous that I know all the lyrics to “Call Me Maybe” and actually read the Twilight series as opposed to copping out and just watching the movies.

****

There’s so much more, but I won’t bore you with the gory details. Now, I want to know about you. Do you keep a list of goals and accomplishments your proud of? Does the course of your life continuously surprise you? Do you still have a passion for teeny-bopper bands and MTV reality shows? Spill it in the comments section–if only to make me realize that I’m not alone here.

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A funny thing happened on the way to Missouri 2

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Technically, the funny thing actually happened while we were in Missouri, but some interesting stuff went down on the road trip as well.

Namely, this video clip that Scott was kind enough to capture. (You only need to watch the first fifteen seconds or so to get the gist of it.)

At least my hair looked good?

I eventually woke up, and we arrived in Kansas City for a wonderful reunion with Scott’s side of the family. Seriously…my husband comes from a terrific group of people. I love spending time with them, and think of his relatives more as “our family” as opposed to just “his family”. We had a blast, and his aunt and uncle were extremely gracious hosts.

They also had a home espresso machine, which was pretty much the best thing ever. Picture me creepily staring at it while whispering “I want that.” for at least half of the weekend.

Because there was an outdoor pool involved, Scott naturally resorted to his twelve-year-old self asking everyone (including the children) if they wanted to race him. After participating in the Taylor family version of the Olympic trials, He demanded (multiple times) that we watch him sink down to the bottom of the pool and blow rings of air to the surface. I kept trying to explain to him that the air rings weren’t actually visible from above the water, but eventually gave up and applauded vigorously every time he demonstrated his fancy trick.

Truly, the can of Bud Light in his hand was the only thing distinguishing him from the rest of the kiddos.

I will admit that it’s not really fair for me to make fun of him, as I myself wasn’t always on my best behavior. Try as I might, I’m pretty sure I accidentally shared a story about how I mistakenly ate a bowl of chili with Scott’s fingernail clippings in it once.

In addition to this, I may or may not have divulged that my side of the family hadn’t hosted a reunion is a while as at the last one, my grandmother had too much to drink and ended up making a pipe bomb.

True story.

But probably not the best thing to share in the company of in-laws.

Anyway.

For me, the highlight of the weekend was Saturday evening. Scott’s uncle set up a projector on the back deck, and we watched 8 millimeter home movies of Scott’s dad and his siblings growing up in the fifties. As scenes from Christmas, past family reunions, and first days of school flashed across the screen, a smile spread across my face. I glanced back at Scott’s grandmother, who had made the trip out for the day and was sitting in the center of the deck, soaking up fond memories of years gone by. I thought of her late husband, Scott’s grandfather. They were simply two young people who had fallen in love. Years later, here we were: four generations, sitting on one deck, smiling, laughing and reminiscing over these home movies. This beautiful, loving family had all started with them. Two people who had fallen in love.

Eventually, our picture perfect moment came to an end. The sky filled with lightning, and a storm was coming. We carried the projector inside, and headed back to the hotel.

That’s when the “funny” thing happened.

“We should probably start having kids,” Scott muttered.

“Huh?” I replied with confusion. Perhaps I hadn’t heard him clearly. Scott and I have always said we don’t want children. We want to live in a city. We want to travel. We want to play with our cute little nieces and nephews, but not be responsible for changing their diapers or feeding them in the middle of the night. We don’t want to have to worry about bringing life into the world and then nurturing it for eighteen years.

Basically, we want to be selfish.

Also…I can’t even keep a plant alive for more than two weeks.

And then there’s the whole ting about how every single baby I’ve ever held violently bawls the moment they are placed in my arms.

Not to mention the fact that I actually once told my niece to “go watch TV and eat some candy…Auntie Katrina needs to flat iron her hair.”

“I don’t know…” he continued, “Those films just got me thinking. It might be kind of nice to start a family.”

I paused for a moment. Perhaps the Minnesota water has started to fill my brain with Midwestern family values. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was surrounded by throngs of adorable children, including two beautiful baby girls at the reunion. Or maybe, after five years of carrying a chihuahua in a purse, I finally felt the urge to upgrade to a baby in a stroller.

Obviously a stroller with a hook strong enough to hang a purse holding a dog on it. Let’s not get ridiculous or anything.

“Believe it or not,” I muttered, “I was actually kind of thinking the exact same thing.”

I know. I’m as shocked as you are.

Scott and I have since rehashed the details of this conversation, and still don’t know quite where we stand. If we ever do decide to start a family, it won’t be until well after we pay off our student loans, and settle into a place of residence that doesn’t require a twelve-month lease or the use of a public elevator.

But, for the first time ever, I wasn’t totally put off by the idea of infiltrating rural Minnesota with the spawn of “Scottrina”– a frightening thought, indeed.

But also kind of an exciting one.

“Don’t get too amped up yet,” Scott warned. “Let’s think about it for a few months and see how we feel. You know…sleep on it for a while.”

I know he’s right.

But, last night, as I created a map that highlights all of the states Jolie has travelled to, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps it’s time for a different type of child.

Map Jolie

I don’t mean to brag…but she’s also been to Canada. Twice.

You know…the ones that come with opposable thumbs?

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Walk of Shame 3

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No…I’m not talking about that walk of shame.

Although a stroll of the “morning after still wearing my cocktail dress and mascara” variety may have been slightly less embarrassing.

Where do I even begin?

Yesterday, Scott and I drove down to Minneapolis to meet his dad for a nice Father’s Day lunch.

I should preface this by explaining that one of Scott’s favorite pastimes is watching various programs on the Food Network. It’s a habit that started in college as a way to vicariously indulge in food while he had to cut weight for wrestling, and ended up sticking. Why one would willingly watch cooking shows when restricting food is beyond me, but apparently, Scott has way more self-control than I do. Shocking, I know.

I can’t even tell you how many places we’ve eaten at simply because he saw them featured on Man vs. Food or Diners Drive-ins and Dives. In fact, we actually saw Guy Fieri, Food Network Host, while eating at one of these restaurants.

Guy Fieri

I feel like he’s what happens when you mate a 90′s boy band with Paula Deen.

Oh…and we ran into Guy at Anchor Bar, the birthplace of Buffalo wings in Buffalo, NY if you’re curious.

Anyway…I suppose I can’t really complain about Scott’s affinity for tracking down Food Network hot spots, as they always end up being absolutely marvelous. Yesterday’s pick, Pizzeria Lola in Southwest Minneapolis, was no exception.

Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain when we arrived. As we drove past the entrance and saw a good 30 people lined up outside the door, we decided it would be best for Scott to drop me off out front so I could get our name on the list while he parked. At this moment, three things happened simultaneously:

1. I opened the door and stuck one foot out onto the street.

2. My coffee spilled all over my lap and inside my handbag.

3. Scott started driving away.

With me, drenched in coffee, still hanging halfway out the vehicle.

Naturally my response was to scream “DAMN IT, SCOTT!!!!!” and slam the door of our poor little Toyota as hard as I possibly could. For a moment, I worried I may have actually harmed the frame of our car.

That concern vanished as soon as I turned around and saw the line of 30 people, half of them small children, staring at the spectacle that has just occurred not ten yards in front of them.

The line of 30 people I had to immediately walk past in order to put our name on the list.

The line of 30 people I had to stand with for 45 minutes while we waited for our table.

Walk of shame.

If I recall correctly, Scott described the incident as “a scene and a half”, before laughing hysterically at all the stares I intercepted from youngsters wondering who the “mean lady” was.

In a nutshell, that’s how I ruined Father’s Day.

Although, some might argue that I truly ruined Father’s Day by drinking too much wine and talking non-stop for 90 minutes while everyone attempted to ignore me and get on with eating their pizza.

Scott has also suggested that the post-lunch wine-fueled IKEA shopping spree (which involved $700 and a smattering of bookcases and assorted potted foliage) may have also contributed to my general act of putting a damper on things.

Whatever — at least the pizza was good, right?

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Proms and Moms 2

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I don’t mean to brag, but this post is kind of a big deal.

Today, my mom is graduating from college!

Graduation

My mom and I at my college graduation in 2006.

My parents are nearly 12 years apart, and got married while my mom was still in undergrad. A few years later they had me, and moved to Minnesota (yup, this wasn’t my first move to ‘Sota!) a few weeks after I was born so my dad could start graduate school. For the last 28 years, my mom has been just one semester shy of earning her bachelors degree.

She also suffers from Lupus, a debilitating auto-immune disease she was diagnosed with in her early thirties. Doctors told her she would never be able to work, not even just part-time. As a stay-at-home mom to four kids (who are only four-and-a-half years apart!) her health, fatigue, and constant pain were a huge hindrance to her duties at home. I can’t even begin to imagine the weight of the discouragement she experienced, yet I do know there were many times she feared she would never get better.

It took many years, and a great deal of experimentation with her treatment and medication, but eventually, mom proved her doctors wrong. She was able to work full-time for the first time since college, sharing her abundance of patience and kindness with special needs children as a paraeducator.

But mom wasn’t stopping there. Not  a week after my youngest brother Janss had graduated with his bachelors degree, she registered for her first semester of classes at Evergreen State University. Twenty-eight years later, she was finally going back to college, while continuing to work full-time.

Today, after countless hours of studying, thousands of words written, and even a creative writing interpretive dance class, she has finally earned her bachelors degree.

And I couldn’t be more proud.

Or maybe I could…?

A conversation from last week…

Mom: Oh! Guess what!

Me: What?

Mom: Your Dad and I are going to the Senior Prom!

Me: But mom…you’re not really seniors yet…Dad’s still a year away from being 65. Or have they officially changed the age to 55 now like they do at Denny’s?

Mom: No, Katrina…not a prom for senior citizens. The Senior Prom at school. I’m probably going to be the oldest one there, but who cares, right? All my friends are going, and I’ve worked so hard…I feel like I need a night out. Plus, you’re dad says we have to go because there’s free drinks and appetizers.

Anyone who knows my father knows he never passes up a chance for free grub and liquor.

Mom explained that she would be doing her own hair and makeup and borrowing a prom dress from a really good family friend. Dad would probably wear the suit he wore at their wedding 31 years ago, which I found to be wonderfully romantic.

I also was kind of jealous that dad still fits into his wedding attire. Must be all that running he’s doing.

Me: Mom, that’s so great! I bet you’re really looking forward to it!

Mom: Yeah. We’ll see. I’m probably going to feel really fat, and your dad is self-conscious about his face peeling, but we’re going to try to make the best of it.

Oh, right.

The face peeling.

Where do I even begin?

I just typed out 873 words explaining how exactly my dad ended up in the ER with second degree burns covering his entire face.

And then, I realized Mark might not appreciate the details of his candle melting accident gone wrong being divulged on the internet.

Long story short, don’t, under any circumstances, try to melt multiple candles into one jar at three in the morning when there’s a pretty good chance you might fall asleep during the process.

Apparently, problems with candles run in my family.

My dad was extremely lucky. He was wearing pants and a long-sleeved shirt that protected the majority of his body from being burnt. His glasses also prevented damage to his eyes, and he had the presence of mind not to inhale any of the lung damaging fumes from the fire.

In fact, the horrible burns have actually worked in his favor and given him results similar to a very expensive chemical peel.

Some dads have all the luck.

So, my fifty-two year old mother attended the prom feeling self-conscious about her age and the way her dress fit.

My sixty-four year old father stood by her side, beyond embarrassed that large, scaly sheets of dead skin were peeling off his entire face.

Thirty one years later, he was still too cheap to order my mom a corsage. (Although I do think he deserves some credit for not attempting to melt down all the votive candles used to decorate the tables at the end of the night.)

I called my mom last Sunday, eager to hear all the details of her big night out.

“It was okay,” she sighed. “I mean…there’s all of this build up and excitement, and then you get there and it’s just not that great.”

Story of my life.

And not merely in regards to big events like the prom, but just growing up in general. Prom is similar to adulthood in that you keep waiting for it to happen, and then when it finally does, you realize it’s a little bit…well…overrated.

I always used to think that once I reached a certain age, things would just fall into place. I’d have my life together, I’d be happy and responsible, I would finally be able to look back on all of my hard work and say, “I’m here! I’ve arrived! I’ve finally made it to the place I’ve been working towards.” Adulthood represented a utopian life where everything was polished and shiny. I envisioned myself being put together and problem free. A perfect version of myself.

Instead, adulthood involves sharing a car that doesn’t even have cruise control with my husband, realizing we actually have to pay back all of those student loans we took out, and coming to terms with the fact that we live in an apartment that is within walking distance of the mall.

Also? I no matter how old I get, I still relish every single moment I spend watching “Greek” on ABC family while lounging on the IKEA sofa we had to settle for as we still can’t afford a sectional from Crate & Barrel due to the aforementioned student loans.

Ummm….welcome to adulthood?

My mom’s night at the prom made me realize something really important: Adulthood is awkward. Sure, it’s different from the awkwardness of puberty, proms and pep rallies, but it’s uncomfortable nonetheless. I still wrestle with some of the same problems I did in high school. How do I make friends? Do I look stupid? Did I say the wrong thing? What if nobody likes my blog? What if nobody likes me?

I don’t think we ever grow out of our insecurities, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

Mom mom is a great example. She’s overcome a devastating disability, has raised three wonderful children (and one snarky one), gone back to work despite her health issues, graduate from college and enjoyed a wonderful 31-year marriage with Mr. Candle Melter. You’d think she’s got it all together, yet despite her list of accolades, she still felt goofy at the prom.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure I know anyone who didn’t feel goofy at the prom.

Yet in spite of our fears, our self-doubt, our flaws, and yes, even our peeling faces, we can still be successful, fulfilled, content individuals. We can have fun at the prom without being the King or Queen!

Having your life one hundred percent together is not a prerequisite for making it wonderful.  A comforting thought, indeed.

Almost as comforting as the knowledge that I’ll never have to go to the prom again.

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