Day 24: Family

Ever since I can remember, my extended family has been close and very intentional with spending time together. My dad is one of eleven and my mom is one of six. So, needless to say, my extended family is pretty big. And it rocks.

The Walsh side, my dad’s side, has a family reunion every other year. Most of us live in Illinois but we do have some family in Connecticut, Florida, and now Missouri! It is so special and honestly probably pretty rare that a group of individual families get together with their huge extended family for weeks on end every other summer. The O’Donnell side, my mom’s side, doesn’t get together in person as frequently but we have a Facebook messenger chat that my uncles use almost daily (going to be super annoying now that March Madness has started!)

I am so blessed with a family that not only loves spending time together, but makes the time for it as often as possible. Today we celebrated one of my cousin’s birthdays and I thought to myself how special it is to have family there for all of life’s ups and downs. I am truly blessed!

Day 23: Sunny

I woke up this morning and like usual, took the dog out. My thoughts immediately took over. Oh my goodness. Sunny. It’s sunny.

I showered, made coffee, threw a load of laundry in and told Camper we were going for a walk. A long one. We walked and walked and greeted neighbors who were also outside enjoying the sunshine. There’s something about a bright sky that completely changes my mood. I instantly was more grateful and happy. A perfect start to Saturday.

When we got home, I opened every window in our home. Sunlight started to pour into our home. Camper and I both were in heaven. The fresh air and magnificent light made our day of chores so sweet.

My Mom is on her way to pick me up and we will venture to Wisconsin to have a little family get together. I can’t wait to drive with the windows down the whole way. I love Spring.

Day 22: Locked Out

“CAMPER!” I screamed as I noticed the remote control, which could no longer be classified as a working remote control. I went to work yesterday morning expecting it to be a hard day on my puppy because it’d be her first time alone for more than a couple of hours. Well, I was right and unfortunately I have responsibility to take for her misbehavior. See, we knew the remote was a “toy” in Camper’s eyes so we usually put it up high on the counter. Yesterday was a different story. “I’m sorry…that’s my fault. I can’t believe you chewed it this much! Did you eat the plastic? Does your tummy hurt?” I ask her these questions like she’s going to answer me. Instead, she tilts her head, eyes wide, and runs up to me happy to have her Mama home. “Let’s go to the pet store. You need some bones to chew instead of my remote.” Again, no answer, but I assume she was excited because the tail started wagging as soon as I put her leash on and led her to the car.

I pull in the parking lot of Petco, only about five minutes from our house, and put the car in park. Camper sits on me as I drive and because she’s little I’m okay with it. I toss my phone and wallet inside my purse and remove the keys from the ignition. I open the car door, firmly press the lock button, and toss my keys in my purse which sits on my passenger seat. It’s too hard to carry keys while I’m working with a hyper puppy who has noticed we’re at Petco and can no longer keep her cool.

I latch the leash on her and she jumps off my lap and into the parking lot. Struggling to chase after her, I unbuckle my seat belt and hop out of the car after her. I slam the door and immediately stop dead in my tracks. “Oh my gosh. My purse is still on my passenger seat. My keys are in that purse.” PANIC PANIC PANIC.

Thoughts begin forming almost instantaneously as I realize this horrible incident is in fact real. “My husband is in Ohio. My parents live an hour away. They have the spare key to my car…I can just call my Mo-“ PANIC PANIC PANIC. “MY PHONE IS IN THERE TOO! AND MY WALLET! I AM STRANDED AT PETCO WITH NO KEYS, NO WALLET, AND NO PHONE!”

Calm down, Erin. This happens, right? Deep breaths.

I walk into the Petco and start filing up and down the isles trying to talk myself into asking someone to use their phone. Once the cash registers are empty, I walk up and admit to my mistake. A worker hands me the Petco phone and I call my parent’s house. No answer. I call my Mom’s cell phone. No answer. I want to call my dad, but I don’t have his number memorized because his number just changed. Thankfully, and I promise you this is a miracle, I had memorized my husband’s cell number. I call him and explain the situation. He laughs, apologizes quickly for doing that, and tells me it’s going to be okay. “Babe, you just get more time with Camper!” Uh-huh.

My dad is en-route, but remember, he lives an hour away…and also, it’s rush hour. To make this already long story shorter, he shows up two and a half hours later. Yes. I was in that Petco with my puppy for two and a half hours. The workers and I are now on a first name basis. At one point, I stopped roaming aimlessly around the store and just sat at the front and welcomed people to Petco. Camper was like the official store greeter. She loved it.

My dad eventually showed up and because he’s the sweetest man alive, he bought me dinner and came over to hangout for a while. Honestly, it turned out to be an okay evening. However, I’m sure there are much better ways to spend your Thursday.

Day 21: Home Alone

My husband just got a new job and the start date is April 1! I am so proud of him and so happy for this next season of our life. The past eight months or so have been tough with so many unknowns and questions but finally we see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Because he doesn’t start until the first, he decided he’d go back home (he’s from Ohio) for the rest of the week to visit family. His grandmother is really sick and not doing well so I’m grateful he gets this time with them before our lives get hectic again. Being from Chicago, the five and a half hour drive isn’t doable all the time but this week he could swing it.

That said, I’m home alone! I don’t mind it. But here’s the bad part…if my husband is out of town and if I work weekdays then that means our puppy is home alone. Uh-oh.

Yesterday I got home to find she had found a stash of tissue paper from a wedding present we received. Tissue paper was all over our living room floor. I mean, she tore that paper to literal shreds. She also had an accident in our home but I will spare you the details of that fiasco.

This morning I took her outside and she did her business as usual. She sat by the door as I stalled as long as I could before I absolutely had to leave for work. I hate leaving her alone. All I’m thinking about today is how gloomy it looks outside and how sad she must be that her Mom left and how confused she is as to where her Dad is. Poor thing. I’m going to give her lots of cuddles when I get home. And treats.

I wonder if dogs like their time home alone or if they search the house looking for their human. We hope to get one of those security cameras to keep an eye on her when we’re gone for a while. I guess I’ll find my answer once that thing is installed. Until then – Camper, please don’t find anything else to tear up today. Please and thank you. -Mom

Day 20: Greasy Hair

Greasy Hair: A Poem (or something like that)

How is it that late already?
Didn’t my alarm go off?
Yawning, Realizing, Rushing

Thankfully I set out clothes,
My lunch and bag fully packed
Time was short so the decision was clear
Greasy hair it is

Brush, Brush, Dry Shampoo, Brush
Nothing will fix this mess
All day long I’ll look forward to
The shower awaiting me at home

Sorry this poem doesn’t rhyme. It bothers me too. But I guess that fits perfectly with the feeling I had all day – uneasy, icky, greasy hair.

Day 19: Just a Conversation

Just this week I volunteered to help out during the lunch hour in our school cafeteria. I was very against this at the beginning of the year seeing as I did it all year last year and it was 0% fun. Loud kids screaming across the gymnasium, sauce spilling everywhere, sticky packets to open from even stickier little hands, and too. much. garbage. Count me OUT.

But then of course, plea after plea I finally caved. I decided I’d work in the cafeteria until the end of the year. Pray for me.

Today was only day two but I’ve already learned one very valuable thing. The kids that make the most noise, the most mess, and are the most demanding, want and need the most love. They crave just a conversation. A conversation with an adult who, for just a minute, can take an interest in them as more than the “problem child.” Some of my most treasured relationships in this building are my relationships with the kiddos who throw the most tantrums and are sent to the office most frequently. Now, granted, I don’t teach these students all day every day so I don’t pretend to know what it’s like hour after hour in a small classroom with these students who demand attention however they can achieve it. But I do have the lunch room. I do have time for minute conversations. I can give them that.

Who comes to mind when you think of “problem child” or “problem friend”? What can you do differently? Can you spare just a conversation?

Day 18: March 18, 1994

March 18, 1994 was a special day. Granted, I wasn’t alive for it yet, but I would be just a month from that day.

Today is my best friend’s birthday. I’m probably going to start crying as I type this post because after college, Jenna got married and moved to Maine with her husband. From her house to mine is exactly sixteen hours and fifty-four minutes. Way too far.

Jenna and I met in our composition class in college freshman year. I remember having to read a selection from a book and act it out with a group. Jenna was so funny. We became fast friends. Sophomore year, we signed up for classes together because we were both education majors and didn’t want to take classes alone. We did projects together, had late study sessions in the library, and ate a lot of junk food on the weekends as we watched Phantom of the Opera (our personal fave). Jenna started dating someone her sophomore year, a guy named Mason. I seriously think he’s an angel. He went to our school for a year and then had to transfer back home to Maine for personal reasons. Thus began Jenna’s long distance relationship. As hard as it was for her, and trust me it was hard, it was also hard on me. It’s not easy watching your best friend hurt so deeply for someone she grew to love and knew she’d one day marry.

Junior and senior year were sort of a blur. Classes got more intense, field experiences began, and our friendship grew stronger even still. Jenna’s long distance relationship with Mason seriously taught me what love really looked like. Even though they didn’t see each other face to face quite often, their relationship was built on truth, honesty, and friendship. I don’t think Jenna’s capable of having relationships built on anything else which is why we clicked and became close so fast. I like to think I was there for her on the hard days (which I was), but she really was my person. We “got” each other. When Mason proposed, I was thrilled for the two of them. I felt like I had a front row seat watching their relationship unfold.

Senior year was full of wedding planning and wedding showers galore up until her wedding day. I joke with Mason that he stole her away from me, but truly he was bringing her home and I knew our friendship could stand the test of time and (too many) miles. I stood up in their wedding, and she in mine years later. She’s the sister I never had, the best friend I’ve always wanted.

Today is her birthday. She’s 25 and getting ready to embark on her next adventure. Mason and Jenna move to North Carolina next month and I’m not complaining. I’ve loved visiting Maine but I’m ready for the beach! Next week I travel once more to Portland where I’ll spend a week with her. I can’t wait to help her pack, read a book to her first grade classroom, and binge watch TV shows while eating too much chocolate.

It’s so special to have someone you know you can always rely and depend on. Jenna is that person for me. I count myself very lucky to have a friend like Jenna – a friend turned sister.

Happy Birthday, sweet Jenna. Who is one friend you are grateful for?