Category Archives: family

Snapshots of Summer

This is merely a test. A test of my ability to use my scant photography skills to tell a story.

One of my personal blogging goals is to improve my photography skills. Truly.

So, here I go!

 

Top left: a picture of our present day, imperfect, life. As you can surmise, no acrobatic moves were employed to capture this scene.

You see my very plain, cheap looking kitchen countertops (which someday before long will be replaced with something that actually looks cool). There’s the bunch of lavender I bought because I was at a Lavender Festival a couple of weeks ago with my best Colorado friend, Adrianne, and it seemed like the thing to do. My original intention was to google what to actually do with this lavender; I overhead the lavender selling lady at the booth where I purchased this telling another customer about hanging it upside down and waiting for the oil to drip off of it. But I ended up getting distracted by life, per my usual, and 14 days (give or take) later the bunch of lavender remains on the top shelf of my kitchen counter. I guess I’ll have to toss it soon, but I certainly am up for suggestions if you have any.

Speaking of the Lavender Festival, Adrianne and I had a very relaxing time chatting and listening to tunes on the way home. I shared with her my new favorite summer song.

Adrianne informed me that this particular song was actually a cover of “Doin’ Time” by Sublime, which came out in 1996, so of course we listened to that version as well. I would have known about Sublime’s version of this tune had I not been busy mothering my spawn, who were 3 and 4 at the time. The genre of music I listened to at that time was “new country”. It was a phase of mine that thankfully passed.

What’s in the orange bowl? It’s a “rustic” bread salad, a recipe that came highly recommended by my beloved sister,  which was surprisingly not a hit. But more than likely, I used the wrong kind of salad dressing. Then there’s the half pint of vodka, which has become our go-to liquor (on those days when we are craft-beered-out) along with the Mio stuff that you add to said vodka for flavor (another suggestion by my sis, though this one was enjoyed much more than the bread salad thingy).

In the brown bag, there was a delectable cinnamon roll that I scarfed down the morning after taking this picture. It was purchased at the Farmer’s Market closest to me. Someone’s got to support small businesses-bakeries included, right? It would have been rude to do otherwise.

Then there’s a selfie taken in our “en suite” (‘scuse me, I’m feeling fancy and I’ve probably consumed too much HGTV).  In case you were wondering, this pic is very much not inspired by a Kardashian.

Then there’s the picture from ye olden times (resting atop my sister’s much nicer looking kitchen countertops), featuring my Grandma Pearl (one of two, not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this) as a child with her wacky hairdo. Youngest spawn has a mass of thick hair with a number of cowlicks.

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Check out that tongue! You got some competition Gene Simmons!

 Of course, being the obnoxious human that I am, I texted the photo to alert them that their hair is indeed genetic.

So for the actual beautiful pictures: the skies at my sister and brother in law’s place (aka my happiest place to be) in far northern Minnesota, when we were there last month visiting the fam. These pics capture the moments when we were sitting around the campfire, shooting the shit on a warm July night.

Then there’s the two pics of Hubs and I enjoying our first experience at Red Rocks. In the middle bottom pic, we are tailgaiting in the parking lot prior to the show. Good times. 

The pic next to that is of my new pedicure. One of my self-care “quirks” is that my feet need to look nice and pretty at all times. I don’t know where this comes from. Probably because sandals are my very favorite type of footwear and I don’t believe in showcasing them on gnarly looking feet (or seeing others showcasing their gnarly looking feet in sandals for that matter). I love that the nail lady (there’s a proper term for this, right? Technician perhaps?) offered to add a flowery design on my big toes. She did it free hand, using three different colors. I found this quite impressive. I’ll be back to see her again for sure.

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Me with Ray-darling. Yes, I’ve become one of those people who shops online for fun bandanas for my dog to wear.

I invite each of you to share your imperfect, weird, real-life photos that tell a story about what you’ve been up to this summer.

May your days be happy!

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Write now: Just the Facts, Mostly

 

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Let me start by saying I don’t have enough time to write or read these days. This is the bottom line, so I’m going to cut to the chase.

Facts:

I have been using what time and mental energy I have this past week working on my first blog post for the non-profit I work for. I just submitted it to our Executive Director today. This is a gamble for me as I haven’t worked for her for too long a time so I don’t have a good read on how she will respond to it: aka if it’s good enough to be published on our website.

But it’s not in my hands anymore so I’m going to do my best to just let. it. be.

Hubs and I will be leaving soon to spend a few days in Minnesota with my side of the family. First “activity” on the agenda upon our arrival is to attend the burial of my mom’s ashes at the cemetery. It felt so weird to write that sentence. Mom passed back in late February. I’ve accepted this. Yet this will be the first time since that we’ve gone back to my hometown. Suffice it to say I’m feeling emotional about it. Unsettled.

On the up side, I am thoroughly enjoying the companionship of our new pup, Radar. He’s so very smart and is now doing very well at our weekly obedience training sessions (likely because they are being conducted on a one-on-one basis with the trainer). I’m anticipating missing the hell out of this mutt while we are away. And anxious about how he’ll do amongst the other dogs where he’ll be boarded.

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Crazy mutt!

 

Summer is nearly half over. I can hardly believe it. It’s truly been great so far however, for which I am grateful. We have many activities to look forward to between now and the end of August. The one I am probably most looking forward to is the Wisconsin cabin getaway, where we’ll be bunking with my in laws, my sister in law, and our beautiful, smart, curious, funny, delightful 5 year old grandson. There’s a couple of concerts and a visit here in Colorado with Spawn #2 in the mix as well.

I could say that due to all this busyness the frequency of my blog posts may decrease. I don’t intend for that to be the case, and in fact my fear that this blog will suffer as a result of blogging for my work website, may very well ensure that I will indeed continue to publish a post each and every week.

Often, as a matter of fact, because I have so much I want to write about on this blog, I can envision increasing my posts to twice weekly.

But…time. Right? There never seems to be enough of that stuff.

That is precisely why this particular post is not being posted today, which is Wednesday (my usual time slot). I’m aiming for a post next Wednesday where I will share in more detail where my head is at regarding writing/blogging. Hint: it’s all over the fucking place.

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My draft folder has 18 sorta started blog posts at the moment. Makes me wish I could take a whole day (or 5 or 8) to go into “boss bitch” mode and edit the crap out of it. I would feel so much more settled if I could somehow make that happen.

Maybe this time when I’m on vacation, I will actually use the chromebook instead of just slugging it from airport to airport, to the motel and to my sister’s house. Now that’s an idea. One of so, so, so many.

I hope you all hang in there with me.

In the meantime, enjoy a little flashback in time from my teenage years!

 

 

 

Grandmother’s Day

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wrote this post last year.

This year, of course, was different for me. On account of  my mom passing away at the end of February.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t miss her this Mother’s Day any more than I miss her every day. Even though she drove me crazy for much of my life.

Finding a Mother’s Day card for my mom each year was a challenge to say the least.  So many of those cards contain gooey messages  about how “you are my  best friend” or “you are my whole world”. Those cards made me want to hurl. They just didn’t capture how I honestly felt. Suffice it to say that my relationship with my mom was complicated.

I usually went with cards that had a simple message and would hand write “I love you, Mom”, because I did. And I always will love her.

So instead of publishing a blog post about Mother’s Day this year, I opted out. I decided that the role that has become more and more important for me personally, is that of Grandma. At this point in my life, I find it a much more positive pursuit.

And just look at this little guy, who I blogged about here.

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So I googled “Grandmother’s Day” and found this:

This July 23, we celebrate National Gorgeous Grandma Day.

NATIONAL GORGEOUS GRANDMA DAY – July 23, 2019 | National …

 

Christopher turned 5 in February. He’s a smart, loving, funny kid. Hubs and I were fortunate enough to celebrate his 4th birthday with him and his mom here in Colorado. As we were about to dive into the birthday cake, Hubs commented with a sparkle in his eye that “someone is going to sleep very good tonight”. Christopher’s response? “That would be me”. So he’s witty too.

During a recent video chat with this little guy, Hubs told him how this summer when we see him he’s going to teach him how to fish. His eyes became wide and a big smile formed on his cherubic face. I asked him what he liked to eat these days, after which we embarked on a silly conversation about cheese pizza covered in frosting.

You see, there is a humongous difference between parenting and grand-parenting. If someone had convinced me way back when, while I was in the throes of mothering my lovely teenage terrors (you know, our spawn are a mere 14 months apart), that I would be rewarded for that feat with a wonderful grandson, it would have made things So. Much. Easier.

But that’s what makes life interesting in my view. The surprises.

So, on Tuesday, July 23rd, I’ll be celebrating grandmotherhood. How? That’s a question I’ll have to ponder for a bit. While it’s more likely that I will not be in the actual company of Christopher that day, maybe I’ll make a special pizza with extra frosting.

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Mother’s Day flowers from my boss in my beautiful new vase. Turtle candle holder courtesy of my mom.

 

 

Tell Me Something Good

How is everyone doing? Are there good things happening in your life, or not so much? Me, well…I’m struggling a bit these days. Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that now both of my parents are no longer here. And feeling helpless when it comes to my oldest spawn and some serious issues she is struggling with.

Then there’s the state of the world. Despite all of the deplorable and inexplicable behaviors of the Con-Man-In-Chief and his ilk, karma has yet to make an appearance. People around the world are suffering needlessly due to poverty and the messed up priorities of the governments serving them. Women’s reproductive rights continue to be under attack.

Yes, Karma is taking her own sweet fudging time and she’s starting to piss me off.

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Pick up the pace, Miss Karma!

Let’s just say my faith in humanity is a bit shaky these days.

It would be in my best interest to remember this:

Good things are happening too, though, in my personal life anyway. That I can’t deny. My hours at work are being increased in a few months, so that I can take on more responsibility and expand my skill set to better serve our seniors. It makes me feel good that my efforts are appreciated and my employer believes in my abilities.

Hubs and I have planned a getaway to visit his parents and sister (I am so grateful for these three people in my life) in Wisconsin and then will spend a couple of days with our youngest spawn in their adopted hometown of Indianapolis at the end of May. This is something to look forward to.

But in the meantime…well, I just don’t know. Grief and how people have disappointed me lately in various ways are getting me down. It’s temporary, certainly. The weight of it all, the sense of futility I’m feeling. Well, I think for today anyway I’m just going to feel it. Marinate in it for a bit.

Just not for too long.

I recently watched this clip of Leslie Jones on SNL and it cracked me up. This woman is a force, right? When she mentioned Fantasia kicking her shoes off and belting out tunes at her imaginary funeral, it made me think of this video clip I’m sharing below. I’m certain this is what Leslie was referring to, right?

I invite you to tell me about something good happening in your life right now or in the world at large in the comments. Let’s share that shit around as much as possible. Because you know we all need it.

My first Dream house

Hubs and I just got back from spending the better part of a week in the house I grew up in.

Because my mom died.

The last good picture of me and Mom (July 2018)

I’m going to be processing this fact for a good long while.

But for now, let me tell you a little about this special house.

It’s a small house that was filled with a lot of love. It’s very old but well maintained, because of my dad’s abilities with carpentry, plumbing, and virtually everything else.

As the story goes, my grandfather (whom I never met), at the age of 58, had a massive heart attack and died while standing in the archway between the tiny kitchen and the dining area of this house.

Both of my parents had experiences with his presence in that house over the years. It never scared them at all. I think they found it comforting.

This is also the house my father grew up in. He bought it from my grandmother. Between about 1960 and 1985, he and mom raised me, and my older sister and brother in this house.

The kitchen is quite small. I’m always amazed that despite not having more than 5 feet of counter space to work with, my mom always churned out delicious, homemade meals for us each and every night. The woman had a knack for using small spaces as efficiently as possible. It’s too bad she never got an opportunity to visit Ikea, with their mock up small spaces that have cleverly placed nooks and crannies for housing all the necessities for day to day living.

This is the house in which my two teenaged siblings threw a wild party at, in about 1974, while our parents were on a Las Vegas vacation. The party where 7 year old me was slathered with attention and plied with sandwiches and other treats in an attempt to ensure my silence. I, of course, being the bratty little sister, immediately told on them once our parents got home.

This is the house where my dad, fully immersed in his Alzheimer’s fog 2 years ago, gestured towards the corner of the living room, and relived, for me and mom, the delight he experienced in that very space where 75 years prior, his father sat with him and read stories.

This is the house where, back in the 80’s, my best friend burned a hole with her cigarette on the handmade-by-mom quilt that covered my 4 poster bead while my parents were out of town for the weekend. I lived in fear from that day on that mom would notice that little burn hole. But, surprisingly, she never did. 

Yes, the quilt (as our bright 5 year old grandson said: that sounds like it starts with the letter “Q”!) came back home to Colorado with us.

This is the house where people gathered to celebrate. From mom’s bridge club nights to family/friends steak fries during the summer in the backyard to high school graduation parties to wedding present openings.

This is the house where my writing dreams began.

*This post was in response to a prompt from lovely Lorna from Gin & Lemonade: “Dream House”. And in response to the emotions involved in the passing of my one-of-a-kind mother. https://ginlemonade.com/2019/02/13/house-hunting-as-a-wheelchair-user-other-stories/

Let the merriment begin

 

Now that Christmas is a mere few days away, and the major tasks of purchasing gifts, sending out our Christmas cards, wrapping the gifts, and sending them on their way to their hopefully delighted recipients is over, I’ve got myself a minute to reflect. To share my thoughts and feelings about this crazy and magical time of year and why I love it so. 

Baking Christmas cookies and related treats is one of the few traditions I have maintained over the years. Mind you, I am no Martha Stewart (unlike an old co-worker who brought snowflake cookies to our holiday potluck that were decorated so exquisitely it felt wrong to consume them not like I didn’t anyway). I focus on simple cookies. Actually, several of them are the “no bake” kind. I think that’s a wise choice as I make a fricking ton of them. I send these Christmas treats in holiday themed tins purchased at the Dollar Store or my local thrift store to friends and family from northern Minnesota to Missouri. I shan’t ever end this tradition as at this point our loved ones expect them each and every year. I kind of set myself up for that.

But it’s all good. Baking cookies while listening to my favorite Christmas tunes puts me in the spirit. For several years, while still living in Wisconsin, I hosted a cookie baking party with 3 of my closest co-workers. The wine flowed, the kitchen was essentially destroyed, and much fun was had by all. Good times. 

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Christmas cookies, circa 2008 ish

Then there’s the music of this season. I’m not the type to turn on the Christmas music as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are stored in the fridge, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I am a traditionalist, as I mostly prefer the classics, sung by the original artists. Though there are a few exceptions. Like this version of “Baby it’s Cold Outside” by “She and Him” (I will admit the video is not exactly what I expected).  I’m not going to get into the controversy over this particular song and how it is “rape-y” (I don’t exactly see it that way). I was delighted when I first saw the movie “Elf” and heard Zooey Deschanel’s pure and beautiful singing voice.  I was even more delighted when I discovered that there was a “She and Him” and that they had produced a sweet little cd covering classic Christmas tunes. I of course purchased this cd and enjoy listening to it every single Christmas since then. The only other two Christmas cd’s on repeat in our house this time of year are Michael Buble’s “Christmas” and the Carpenter’s “Christmas Portrait”.  The songs “All I want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey, “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano, and Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” always put a smile on my face when I hear them this time of year.

I’m excited that Hubs is working on “Mele Kalikimaka” on his yuke these days. With any luck, he and I will collaborate on this one and may even perform it via video for our daughter and grandson via videochat yet this season. Or next Christmas, at least.

The most arduous tasks for me during the Christmas season are 1) purchasing gifts, 2) wrapping said gifts (not my forte; thankfully Hubs has my back on this one), and 3) shipping all the packages to hither and yon. Yet, there’s such a great joy I feel inside when I find just the right gift for the right person. I don’t know that I’ll ever in my livelong life, however, create such excitement with my Christmas gift-giving as my sweet Hubs did for me one Christmas about 7 years ago. I could not have been more surprised. 

Here’s the story: we are at my sister and brother in law’s house way up in northern Minnesota, where we have spent many Christmases. We are in the middle of opening all of our gifts, a tad liquored up and sitting in the cozy family room by the beautiful Christmas tree. I open the shirt sized box, assuming it’s a new sweater or some other practical piece of clothing (which I was totally fine with). However, it’s a fancy black dress. I look at Hubs a bit quizzically, and assume in my head that this is a dress I’ll be wearing for a nice dinner out with him on New Year’s Eve. Wow, I’m thinking. So thoughtful and how fun is it that he’s planning to take me out on New Year’s (that doesn’t happen every year, you see). Then I see there’s a sheet of paper underneath. I open it up and it’s an ITINERARY. An itinerary, no less, for a New Year’s weekend in Chicago! An itinerary mapping out our Amtrak train ride, dinner reservations at a very chi-chi seafood place in downtown Chicago, a fancy hotel, and tickets to see “The Adams Family Musical”. I was, for once in my life, utterly speechless. I think I actually cried with joy. It ended up being the best New Year’s Eve (weekend) of our entire married life despite the massive hangover I foolishly gifted myself. 

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Our New Year’s Eve in Chicago circa 2011 ish

 

This year, I was given the opportunity to shop for a little girl. I haven’t had the opportunity to partake in this activity since my spawn were youngins. You see, instead of doing the “Secret Santa” thing at work (you know the one-where you rack your brain to figure out what to buy for that one person you don’t know as well as all the others), someone came up with the brilliant idea of doing “Secret Santa” for the offspring of our co-workers. I grabbed a “wish list” for the daughter of one of my co-workers, and proceeded to have a ball at Target finding things for this kiddo. I suspect she will be pleased that Santa stuffed her new shiny star-shaped purse with Snickers and a $10 bill. I know I would be!

I wish each and every one of you a blessed, joyful, fun-filled holiday season. May your stockings be full with all your favorite goodies, may your travels be safe, and may your hearts be full. 

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Photo by Jameel Hassan on Pexels.com

Life’s Curveballs

It’s Tuesday morning as I begin writing this post. This is typically my favorite part of the week, for purely self-serving reasons. It’s the one time of the week when I have the house entirely to myself and I don’t have to leave for work until 9:45 a.m.

So I usually write like crazy until I absolutely must get dressed and out the door to head to work.

Up until yesterday morning, I was all geared up to write a post potentially titled “Christmas on the Brain”, because, well, I was mentally 100% focused on all the fun Christmas activities head of me in the next few weeks. 

But, a phone call changed my plans. 

Yesterday morning, my dear Hubs received a phone call from his mother. She told him that his brother, her oldest son, had suffered a massive heart attack and was not expected to live. I cannot imagine the emotions she felt making this call.

Shortly after Hubs and I left our respective offices and arrived home, he received another call. This was from his nephew. He informed Hubs that his dad, Hubs’ only brother, had passed from this earth.

There are no words that can capture how we are all feeling at this point in time. Shock is the best I can come up with. Helplessness. Confusion. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Deep, deep sadness.

I want to figure out how exactly I can be useful here. How exactly I can be supportive of my heartbroken soulmate. How I can make things even just a little bit better, easier. How I can cushion this blow to his heart.

I will not be publishing a post tomorrow as I usually do on Wednesdays. It would feel icky. I am not the one here in need of sympathy and prayers. Hubs is. My mother in law and father in law are. My sisters in law, nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews are. The man they loved and looked up to was ripped out of their lives in an instant. No goodbyes got to be said. They will all no doubt spend the rest of their lives wondering “Why?”

As will I. 

Hold your loved ones close this holiday season.