I’m 32 today and good golly (!), that number arrived a little too soon. My parents and Xander were at my apartment to love on me this morning and that was special since I haven’t woken up to family on my birthday in years. I regret not telling them just how nice it was to have them there before they left for the hospital.
It’s funny that this July 24th doesn’t feel like the others. I’m usually the annoying and self-centered “It’s My Birthday Week” type so it’s foreign to me that I’m not in a big celebratory mood. Perhaps that’s maturity? Regardless, a lovely little lunch at Cookshop (duh…literally my third home behind my own apartment and my office) and a dinner at Babbo are more than enough celebration for me this year. Fill me with pasta (and maybe some Crème Brûlée) and put me to bed because 32 wasn’t sprinkled with any of the anticipation that accompanied the landmark year of 30. I’m totally at peace with that.
Despite my less than Woo Hoo Let’s Party disposition, there are two feelings that I couldn’t possibly avoid today and they’re simply overwhelming: incredibly special and unconditionally loved.
It’s the sweet phone calls, countless text messages and emails, copious Facebook posts (mostly from people I haven’t spoken with since high school but whatevs), birthday wishes and heartfelt hugs from the people I most care about that have me feeling like a million bucks.
my mom hates the word lucky so I’ll go with blessed young lady. Happy Birthday to me, for sure. Bring it 32…I’m ready.
(*picture of Xander…the boy loves a party hat)
If you’re planning a trip to Paris, then a day trip to Versailles is not to be missed. I took advice from Casey and booked our trip through Blue Bike Tours (a touristy but doesn’t really feel like it way to see and learn about the palace and grounds surrounding it). It was definitely a highlight of the vacation and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Also, these pictures are 100% unedited - no filter and no enhancement. The grounds were breathtaking and it was like magic in my camera (my standard lens, of course, because the fancy new zoom lens I bought for the trip was shattered in transit).
After this, I won’t bombard your dash with anymore pictures from Europe. Instead, I’ll go back lame selfies and OOTD posts because I know you’re all just dying to know what I’m wearing these days (<—sarcasm).
Farmers Market Glory…
Our picnic lunch and transportation of choice…
The Queens Hamlet…
Palace of Versailles…
(the clouds in this photo…seriously?)
I’ve just returned from 11 days of vacation and I feel like I need another 11 days to relax and recuperate. Do you ever feel like that? In fact, aside from the fact that I used “vacation days” and didn’t do any actual work, that wasn’t a vacation. That was an adventure.
The Bad: (because let’s get that out of the way, shall we?) Our fights were delayed due to storms, causing us to miss our connections. My bags went missing TWO DIFFERENT TIMES IN TWO DIFFERENT COUNTRIES (screw you, United & Lufthansa). My fancy new camera lens shattered along with my newly gifted watch. I packed according to the weather forecast that showed days of 75-80 degrees and sunshine, not the 55-60 temps and soul-crushing rain that we were welcomed with.
The Good: Poland was a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see part of that country. The wedding we attended was such a unique experience and it was great to get to know some of the friends that are so incredibly important to my guy. Paris is a beautiful city and the rich history and culture were almost too much to absorb.
The Best: My travel partner and the crepe I ate in the Farmers Market before our day trip to Versailles.
What I Learned: Oh, ya know…just the obvious and very basic lessons that anyone that’s been through Travel 101 should know. Like…
- Don’t check a bag. Ever.
- Don’t pack your camera in your checked bag (I’m a flipping moron for that and you are too if you’re even thinking about doing it for future travel).
- Direct flights if possible. Always. If you can afford a few extra hundos…it’s worth it.
- Pack proper footwear or be prepared to find some upon arrival.
- Speak the language, even if it’s 4 words of it. A failed attempt is better than zero attempt.
- I cannot, in fact, sustain myself on bread and cheese alone for multiple days. As it turns out, I’m not a big fan of Polish/French food.
- I have the ability to be a major brat (ok, so maybe that wasn’t something I actually learned on this trip..and maybe “major brat” is a major understatement).
- My boyfriend truly loves me and is far more patient than I am (please refer to previous bullet).
Here are some pics from Old Town in Krakow, Poland (Paris later). Please note that my luggage hadn’t been found at this point so I couldn’t use my good camera…you get what you get).
Soooo….we’ve made it to Paris (!) but they lost my luggage…again.
I will never (ever ever) check bags in the future.
Back to this outfit for a while…
I just want the internet to know that I had the dress BEFORE @blaireadiebee of Atlantic-Pacific made it the Zara Scarf-Gate of Summer 2014.
After the crazy NYC storms causing a boatload of delays, we finally made it to Krakow, Poland. Sadly, my luggage did not so I’ll be attending the first two days of wedding activities wearing this.
I love United Airlines. Psych.
Let’s go shopping…
Last night was a nice evening so we planned a last minute date night and settled in for cocktails and dinner at a little cafe by the water. As the sun went down and the soft twinkling market light strands came on, our surroundings turned from a bustling happy hour spot into a romantic little oasis (sometimes hard to imagine when you’re smack in the middle of a cement jungle). As we were finishing up dinner and discussing our plans for
the future this weekend, he turned to me and said…
Him: Would you like to go to the Woodbury Outlets and do some shopping on Saturday?
Em: (wide-eyed and completely shocked) YES! YES! YES! I LOVE YOU!
Unsolicited suggestions to go shopping? My boyfriend is awesome.
(He actually really needs to go so he can check out new luggage at the TUMI store. Little does he know that a little suitcase browsing also means browsing at DvF, Lululemon, Off Saks, J. Crew, Tory Burch, Theory, The Cosmetics Company Store, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Barney’s, and a little Auntie Anne’s food court action.)
We found out that she had cancer on Christmas day, December 25th. That means that yesterday was Mom’s 6 month anniversary as a Pancreatic Cancer Fighter.
That’s something to CELEBRATE…so we did so by finding her some new hair.
Losing your hair (or for me…watching her lose her hair) is no picnic. There’s an emotional element about it that can’t be described until you’re in that situation. That woman right there? She’s handling it really well…the best she can. She’s awesome (and so are her pretty new locks).
But let’s be real for a minute…those smiles in that picture above? Those were F-O-R-C-E-D and as fake as can be. BUT!!! I’ve said it before and I’ll never stop reminding you (or myself) that IT’S A CHOICE. You are in control of your emotions and have the power to change them. Try to smile. Always. Because if you try really hard and hope for the best, your emotional disposition might just catch up with your reflection. The beginning of the hair hunt kind of sucked but by the time we found the right fit, color, and had it styled..the confidence and smiles were nothing but authentic.
Back to the 6 month milestone…
When we first learned of her diagnosis, people would say “every day is a gift” and I hated it so much. I know that it was said with love and for comforting purposes but it had this melancholy undertone that simply didn’t sit right with me. As time has passed, it’s become more evident that the cliché is, in fact, true. In the last 167 days, I’ve learned more about my mom than I have in the last 30+ years. I’ve learned more about relationships and the importance of communication. I’ve learned how to be a a good supporter (and still working on it). I’ve learned that having control isn’t the most important thing in the world and even more importantly, that losing control can sometimes bring unexpected (but much needed) growth. Those lessons may not have come in pretty packages with bows…but they’re the best presents I’ve ever received.
Here’s to the next 6 months…another 189 days of gifts.
(*I see that it says “NO PICTURES PLEASE”…and that’s why I strictly adhere to a better to ask forgiveness than permission approach to life. Gotta thank my Dad for that one.)
Part of me absolutely hates the emotional wreck I’ve become in the last 6 months. Most of my tears are happy ones but the whole crying at the drop of a hat thing really gets my goat. If I’m crying at my desk…then so are you.
Side note - This video also makes me miss my dog like WHOA and it’s completely unreasonable.
Happy Tuesday, Friends.
One of the things I love most about you is that you’re very different from me in the way we communicate. I’m all words and you’re all action. Without uttering a sound, I know exactly how you feel about me and that’s a very special bond. You’re better than the best and I truly hope you know that I mean it when I tell you that you’re awesome.
Watching you settle into your role as a father to your two precious girls is one of the greatest joys in my life. You are a spectacular father and the girls are so blessed to have you as their leader. I am so proud of you and think you’re a total rockstar dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad & Josh. I love you both so much. xoxo, Em
Cliff Notes: this is a long post about the dog and how I love him. You can skip the reading but just admire the photo for a minute, ok?
I was never really a dog person, ya know. I liked them just fine but it was more like I really just didn’t mind them. Playing with them was fun but only before my attention span narrowed and then I was always more than happy to turn the furry beasts back over to their owners.
Sure, we always had family dogs when I was a kid but I was never forced to share in the responsibility that animals require (um, I had a hamster too…gross.com/vomit…but I almost killed that thing a hundred times and that’s an entire blog post in and of itself). Then again, living in the burbs, dogs were pretty easy to take care of. With a big back yard and an active dad who took them on bike rides and kept them fed, there wasn’t much left for me to do aside from petting them every once in a while.
Then you move to NYC, find yourself single, and you start to think you might live the rest of your days alone in your shoe box. You feel sorry for yourself and go to the nearest puppy storefront or animal shelter to seriously consider getting a dog of your own. Ya know, so you’re not always feeling ALONE. This happens no less than eight times (what? that only happened to me? oh…well…ummmm). You miraculously remember that you’re a mature adult and face the facts like: you don’t have time for a dog, you don’t have patience for the training the dog requires, you don’t have the money to care for a dog, and having a dog means less sleep in the morning and less freedom for your do whatever you want once you leave the office lifestyle. You resolve to let the idea of owning a dog subside and shelf the subject until you get married and move to a home in the burbs with a yard, a pool, and an entire room dedicated to wrapping paper, ribbon, craft supplies, and blogging. What? shhhhhh…I’m not crazy. You’re crazy. Move along now…
Okay, so you’ve decided that a dog can wait.
Then, a parent gets sick and is forced to move away from home in order to get the treatment they need. The ability to take care of the dog becomes an issue and the options are 1) to board the dog long-term, 2) leave him with friends/neighbors who offered to take him in
but probably don’t want to really deal with it if we’re being honest or 3) send him to live with his human sister in NYC.
Okay, well Option 3 it is.
I went into the temporary dog watching situation thinking that I was doing a favor for my parents (and the dog). I did it willingly and with a servants heart because it was necessary, but still a favor no less. I knew that with it came some sacrifices…like…um…putting the needs of another living being before my own needs and wants. Walking him at 6:00am in the midst of a polar vortex? That sucked. Drying him off after wet/dirty walks post rain and snow? No thanks. Paying a dog walker? I’m broke. The dog hair E-V-E-R-W-H-E-R-E that forced me to consider buying stock in 3M Scotch-Brite lint rollers? Gross…just gross.
In short, he was the biggest inconvenience I’ve ever had…but he was also one of the best things in my life.
See, having Xander for the last few months (since mid-January) changed me in many ways. This dog brought me joy every.single.damn.day and he taught me a few things along the way too. You see, you can learn a lot from dogs if you just pay attention. I watched him interact with other people (and animals too) and he’s the friendliest (a characteristic of golden retrievers) and most affectionate canine I’ve ever seen. He’s compassionate and he doesn’t care about ANY of the stuff that us humans put far too much focus on…like what you do, where you live, what you’re wearing, how much money you make, who you know, and blah blah blah. Nope, he just wants to be loved and he’ll give it back tenfold…even better…unconditionally.
I poured a lot of my feelings and emotions into him and he took it like a champ, always leaning into me and looking up at with me with those huge brown eyes as if he were about to say…
"I know, Em. I’m scared, sad, and feeling a little low too…but I’ve got you and I’m gonna snuggle right up next to you and we’ll support each other…right after you give me some peanut butter snacks or a piece of that beef jerky stuff, okay?"
What I miss the most is something I didn’t believe until I experienced it firsthand…but there truly is nothing better than coming home to a dog who has waited all day for your arrival. It was like a surge of jubilation every time I’d open the front door and he’d get so excited that I thought he might burst. The best.
So now my buddy is spending the majority of his time with my parents - a really good thing for so many reasons. He’s happy and well taken care of but a big part of me kind of hopes that he misses me almost as much as I miss him. I think he does. Yup, pretty positive about that.
(Did any of this post even make sense? That was a total emotional brain dump…that’s where my head is at on this Friday afternoon…)
We have to take it one day at a time because with each passing day there’s a new battle to fight…but today?
Today is a Mom’s-beating-cancer’s-sorry ass-kind-of-day because her tumor markers have improved drastically.
Today, pancreatic cancer can JAM IT!