Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life is short

I've seen this posted on a couple blogs that I follow (I believe I saw it first on Lauren's Life with a Lab blog!) and wanted to share it with you all, in case you hadn't seen it. Sometimes I need a little inspiration like this! :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Promises Promises...

As I begin to finalize our plans for New York, I'm getting more and more excited! I mean, it's not like we've never been... I think it's more the time of year, decorations, weather (praying for nice, but chilly!) and well, of course the shopping! We've booked the hotel (Intercontinental in Times Square) and Broadway tickets (Radio City Christmas Show and "Promises, Promises") and now it's on to smaller details and day activities. Has anyone stayed at that hotel or seen either of those shows? I'm so excited about both of them!

On a different note, Robert's hard drive crashed tonight. Ohh yes... one week before finals AND his LSAT. Perfect timing, of course. Which leads me to add another item to my Christmas list... external hard drive. I know it's not the most exciting present, but I'd much rather suck it up for a boring gift than lose my (virtual) life when my computer decides to get moody. If you don't have one ladies, it's definitely worth the investment! I have to admit, I was quite impressed with how calm and collected he was when the "final hour" came. Had it been MY computer, some serious tears would have been shed alongside a rather unladylike version of my usual words...

Lastly, amongst all my pre-NY shopping I have decided to splurge on these little beauties...

Yours truly is now a proud owner of these adorable pair of Tory Burch flats that I've been dying for forever. Sigh... I finally broke down and bought myself some. I can't wait until they get here!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'd love to hear about it! Goodnight y'all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful little turkey

Christmas is one of my absolute favorite times of year, and I honestly couldn't be more excited that the holidays are here! Robert and I try to go to New York at least once a year, and have decided to take our trip in December this year. I looove snow (aka the Floridian likes snow for a week, then is ready for mid-70 degree weather for the rest of December) and I'm super excited to see NY during Christmastime again. We usually go during baseball season (since one of his birthday presents usually consists of Mets tickets), and have yet to go together when all the Christmas decorations are up. A couple of years ago, I went for a journalism conference at Columbia in early December and absolutely fell in love with the whole city at that time of year. From the ginormous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, to the perfectly decorated shop windows on 5th Avenue, to the feeling of walking through Central Park after it has just snowed. Okay, okay... I know that's kind of cheesy, but it just gives me this warm fuzzy feeling that you don't really get with Christmas in Florida. The last time we had snow was in 1989... That's right, 21 years ago. And (make sure you're sitting down for this one...) it was a whopping 2 inches of snow. Whoo hoo!!! If I can find it, I'll post the picture of us all out the front yard in our little "blizzard" making snow angels. Every time I see that picture it cracks me up. I literally looked (and felt like) the Michelin Man walking through the yard, with the 317 layers my mother had me in. You know in "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie's little brother falls over in the snow and can't get up? Yep... that was me. So, needless to say, I'm very much excited to escape the Florida warmth for a week and head up north. Since our coldest days tap only into the 30s and 40s for a couple hours, my winter wardrobe is seriously lacking. I guess that just means I'll have to go shopping... sigh. ;) I mean, I may or may not have been spent a 2-3 hours a day for the past week looking at adorable winter coats and outfits. Soo yes. I'm very ready.

On a slightly different note, I think it's so important to remember what this season is for. Regardless of your religious beliefs, this time of year should be about being thankful, being selfless, and thinking of others before ourselves for a bit. It's so easy to get caught up in all the parties, presents, and overall excitement of the holidays... and rightfully so, to a degree. Don't get me wrong, spending time with loved ones and "enjoying" the season is definitely a huge part of it. And I'm all for partaking in holiday festivities! :) A couple of years ago right before the schools were letting out for winter break, I was working with a teacher in her 5th grade classroom. A little girl (who was usually very shy, didn't talk much, but always did her homework and did well in school) came up to us and said "Mrs. C, can we come to school over winter break? Like, will it be open?" The other teacher and I looked at each other a little confused, and Mrs. C said "Well honey, I'm pretty sure the school will be locked up. They usually clean it over breaks. Was there something you needed?" The little girl looked a little sad and sighed. "Oh..." she said. "It's just that... well, we don't have breakfast and lunch at my house. And I was hoping I could could come to the cafeteria to get something to eat." My heart just sank. The girl received free breakfast and lunch daily at school, and didn't know what she was going to do over break. The teacher told me that after long weekends, the girl would come back to school a few pounds lighter, and very hungry. The parents both had drug problems, and the little girl was basically in charge of raising her two younger brothers... at 10 years old. I wanted so badly to tell the little girl to come to my house every day and I would feed her breakfast and lunch. It just absolutely tore me apart. Each year since that day, I always think of that little girl when school lets out for break. For the most part, none of us have to really think about whether or not we're going to have gas in the car, heat in our house, or breakfast and lunch to eat. The last thing I want is to come off "preachy," but I just wanted to share that story with you all. If you get some extra time, please donate a meal to someone who needs it, or an extra $5 to an animal shelter to give a blanket to an animal who will spend its holidays on the cold floor of a pound. To us it's just some extra cash but to someone who needs it, it could be the best Christmas present they get... or maybe even the only one.

On a lighter note, I'd love to hear about your holiday plans! Going anywhere fabulous? Or maybe even just staying home and doing absolutely nothing (which, I am a firm believer in sometimes being the best "vacation" there is).

Lastly, I'd like to thank each and every one of you who read my blog! It really means so much to me that you all take interest in it, and I'm thankful for each and every one of you every day. I love hearing from you, so please don't be shy! :)

Goodnight y'all!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bring on the Tissues...

I found this wonderful story over on Ashley's very cute blog, "Life As I Know It," and just had to share it with you all... By the way, stop by her blog sometime! I just found her the other day and I'm already loving it! :)

Forewarning, you may want to have the Kleenex handy. This one's a tear jerker--- but oh so good! (Just so you know, the dog doesn't die! I don't want to give too much away, but sometimes I steer completely clear of stories where I already know what's going to happen to the dog... Some days I just can't handle that sort of sadness, you know?)

Here goes...

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean and the people really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike. For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls - he wouldn't go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn't really think he'd need all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in. but it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it. He never really seemed to listen when I called his name - sure, he'd look in my direction after the fourth of fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go back to doing whatever. When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn't going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell. The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cellphone amid all of my unpacked stuff. I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the "darn dog probably hid it on me." Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter. I tossed the pad in Reggies direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home. But then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I'll give you a treat." Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction - maybe "glared" is more accurate - and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down with his back to me.

Well, that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number. But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that, too. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice."
____________ _________ _________ _________

To Whoever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. If you're reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter. He knew something was different. I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time... it's like he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong... which is why I have to go to try to make it right.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you. First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after it, so be careful - really don't do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones -"sit," "stay," "come", "heel." He knows hand signals: "back" to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your hand out right or left. "Shake" for shaking water off, and "paw" for a high-five. He does "down" when he feels like lying down - I bet you could work on that with him some more. He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business. I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.

Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He's up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car - I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you....

His name's not Reggie.

I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter I told them his name was Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. For me to do seemed so final that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I'd never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything's fine. But if someone else is reading it, well... well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It'll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change in his demeanor if he's been giving you problems.

His real name is Tank. Because that is what I drive.

Again, if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.

See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call the shelter... "in the event"... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting to downright depressing, even though, frankly I'm just writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family. but still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.

And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me. That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things... and to keep those terrible people from coming over here. If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He was my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don't think I'll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.

Thank you,
Paul Mallory
____________ _________ _________ _______

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously awarded the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast for days. I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

"Hey, Tank," I said quietly. The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright. "C'mere boy." He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months. "Tank," I whispered. His tail swished. I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me." Tank reached up and licked my cheek. "So whatdaya say we play some ball? His ears perked again. "Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?" Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And here's why I've been gone for so long...

Okay, let me start out by saying that I feel absolutely terrible for leaving you all for so long... honestly. By no means was the following announcement (...anticipation!!!) intended to take me nearly as long as it did (I'll elaborate in a bit). Regardless, it's 99.9% complete, and I just couldn't wait ANY longer to share my news with you all! I think keeping this whole thing under wraps has been hands down the hardest part (especially since it took me so long!) about this whole process. So here goes... drum roll please!!! "Jewelry by Margaret" is fully up and running and open for business! (Insert huge smile!) For the past 2 months, I have spent countless hours making jewelry, photographing pieces, and getting all the details/descriptions up online. To be honest, I didn't even realize an entire 2 months had gone by. As I was getting the final pieces together last week, Robert asked me "When was the last time you updated your blog? I haven't seen you do anything but jewelry lately." Soo yes, I sort of got a bit addicted. And I'm really sorry... But hey, the hard part is all behind me!

So here it is! I would LOVE to hear feedback from all of you! If you're interested in some of my pieces, but would rather have a different color or stone, please just let me know! I absolutely love doing custom pieces and creating something that fits your style perfectly. Although I'm just getting things rolling, I hope to start doing bridal party pieces, and become a (very small) part of someone's big day! I could go on and on, but please do stop by my shop and take a look! I promise not to leave you all for so long this time... :)

Below is just a quick preview of my pieces. Please click this link to go to the full shop. Thanks!!!