Tomorrow I turn 55. I don’t recall freaking out inside about my birthday since the day I turned 31 (for real). But, I accept it. What’s the alternative? There is none.
Shit, I wouldn’t want to turn back the hands of time even if I could.
While “balance” is my word for 2022, “Moving Forward” is my new mantra. Or “Progress, not Perfection”. It’s a toss up.
In that spirit, off I go.
Hubs and I’s empty nesting status has been on hiatus for the last 13 days. We are now a household of 5, for the time being. It’s nothing I want to delve into on this platform at this time. But it’s important for you to know if you’re going to stick around, because my whole world is in the most transitional period since 2014, and because I know that part of my self-care routine (I despise this overused and abused term but am in the flow and choose not to google synonyms right now) is writing these blog posts. Because it’s going to affect everything you read here from this point on to some degree or other.
I’m determined to focus on the present moment. One day at a time. While of course planning for the near future (aka our move back to Wisconsin). Along with simultaneously doing my best to wrap up the Colorado part of my path in the neatest, most colorful bow, with the exception of my talented artist kid Rabbie and Karl the cockeyed cat, who intend to remain here, work-wise and beyond.
One thing I don’t believe I have done a good job of communicating to you about on this blog is that I love numbers. I find meaning in them. I enjoy making mathematical calculations in my head. I notice numbers all the time. It’s kinda weird.
That, among other reasons, is why I’m going to simply share the Top 5 things that are making me happy these days.
Hearing and seeing my almost 8 year old grandson laugh at his own jokes.
Having the support of my employer with reducing my weekly hours.
Listening to books on Audible (Jen Mann’s most recent one simply spoke to me while making me laugh).
Witnessing the bravery of my adult children amidst life’s changes and challenges.
Blogging, and the fact that I feel great enthusiasm about writing on topics I haven’t covered in the almost 5 years since I started this blog. The primary topic I’m feeling now is under the umbrella of “Work”.
This song is dedicated to my kids. I think you might like it too.
“It doesn’t matter when you bloom, it matters that you do”. This is a lyric in the song “Late Bloomer” by The Secret Sisters.
Isn’t it powerful? Sweet, comforting, encouraging?
I can relate to the message of this song. I feel that in a lot of ways, I am a “late bloomer”. Especially considering how long it took me to obtain my license as a social worker.
I was 40.
As a freshman English major at a state university in the 1980’s, I took an elective class entitled “Social Welfare”. Within probably a couple of months, I changed my major to Social Work. The idea of getting out there in the world and helping people in a tangible way really appealed to me. Learning more about the injustices in the world made me want to get out there and make a difference in struggling people’s lives. To fight for the rights of the disadvantaged.
I was going to be a Social Worker.
Fast forward about 20 years. I hadn’t achieved that goal yet. Upon graduating with my B.S. in Social Work, I found myself in great need of employment, as Hubs was still in school and only able to work part time. I was unable to find a job in Social Work in our college town, so I found myself working full time as a customer service rep.
Then came my first pregnancy, a short stint in Lubbock, Texas so Hubs could attend grad school, and then a very unexpected second pregnancy. We moved on back to Minnesota at that point so we could be closer to family while we navigated our journey to becoming a family of four.
Life for about the next eight years was a blur of Hubs working rotating shifts forecasting the weather and us doing our best to keep our kids fed, healthy, and safe. The only ambition I had was to earn money to ensure we could maintain a decent standard of living. My dream of becoming a social worker was put on the back burner and I fell into a couple more customer service jobs.
But the dream never really died. After being relocated to Wisconsin for a new job for Hubs, I was hired as a case manager for a non-profit which served adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Finally I had an opportunity to work in the field that meant something to me. I made a lot of great friends and gained valuable experience in the eight years I worked there. The dream truly re-kindled itself during a staffing I attended for one of my clients with their social worker. I had an epiphany: there was nothing this social worker had over me other than a license.
So right around my 40th birthday, I drove to a nearby city and took and passed the test. I had never felt so confident about myself or more in charge of my future than I did in that moment.
I went on to have a great eight years working as a certified Social Worker at a managed care organization, serving adults with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as those with mental health diagnoses. I found myself using the skills and experience I gained in my customer service jobs as well as my case manager job.
I may not be working as a social worker any longer, but I’m blessed to be in a position where I’m connecting people in need to the food they and their families require to thrive, as a food pantry coordinator.
Who else out there identifies as a late bloomer? I’d absolutely love to hear your stories in the comments.
And of course, I’m sharing the song. The video is beyond precious.
Don’t you think that with age many of us handle the unexpected circumstances in our lives better? I think it’s a result of having more time here on earth than others. We’ve simply had a larger number of unexpected things occur in our lives. We’re wiser.
And I think that is awesome.
Not that when a curve ball presents itself we don’t freak out a little. We’re still human after all.
It’s just that we’ve got experiences behind us that tells us we’ve gotten through some shit. We’ve survived. Heck, sometimes we have even thrived after the unexpected invades our realities.
I had two unexpected pregnancies. In the span of two years. I feel like an idiot when I tell people this, but it’s true. And I wouldn’t change a thing about how it all played out.
I was on the pill when I got pregnant both times. First pregnancy was a pleasant surprise. Sure, we (as my mom would say), didn’t have a pot to piss in; but we were newlyweds in love. We made enough money between the two of us to pay our rent and buy groceries and we had the love and emotional support of both sets of parents.
Then, after living in Texas with our baby girl Amanda while Hubs took graduate courses in meteorology and did some student teaching for a few months, I missed my period. Scared out of my mind, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, it was positive. As Clark Griswold would say, I was more shocked than if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.
Decisions had to be made. Staying in Texas would have meant that Hubs would have finished his Masters and put himself in a position to work at his (then) dream job: Professor of Meteorology at a major university. With people, the guy has the patience of Job, so I was confident he would rock that career path. The flip side, however, is that I would have to apply for Medicaid (we were poor, young,and dumb and had no health insurance at the time) for myself and baby Amanda. Then we’d be there in Texas, knowing only a small handful of people (and not very well), raising two babies under 2.
The decision we made was to move back to Minnesota. Where we’d have the support of two loving sets of grandparents to cope with this unexpected turn of events. The guilt I felt (in hindsight, this was wasted energy as it does take two to create new life) for “making” Hubs quit grad school to move back to Minnesota and find employment in his field lasted for years.
While the three of us bunked with his folks and his teenage sister in (thankfully) a 3 bedroom apartment for a month or so, Hubs managed to get a job with a private weather forecasting company and we found ourselves a nice two bedroom apartment.
After Rabbie made their arrival during that hot as hell summer, Hubs got connected with a supervisor in the National Weather Service who hired him as an “intern” (a position that no longer exists) making $18,000 per year. This was sooo exciting! At the time. $18,000 to us in the early 90’s felt like a pretty good darn chunk of change. Only thing was, we had to move to International Falls, Minnesota. The “Icebox of the Nation”. Another unwelcome and unexpected thing.
Nevertheless, we made the best of it. Struggled, stressed out, but we pressed on as a team. As a family.
And now, here we are, married for over 30 years with two great kids in their 20’s and a smart as heck 6 year old grandson. Living in Colorado and as ready as we can be for whatever unexpected thing comes next.
What unexpected circumstances have happened in the course of your lives that changed everything? Please share in the comments.
With Mother’s Day approaching (wait..I know it’s next month…let me check) on Sunday, May 10th, and some time on my hands to ponder things, I’ve decided to do some writing about motherhood.
Now, there are so many ways I can approach this topic. I’ve got 27 years of mothering experience under my belt to draw from. As a mom to 2 very different, sometimes challenging, always determined and quite lovable kids to being mothered by Bonnie, to sharing in the joys and concerns of motherhood with the other mothers I’ve known and loved, I’ve got some stories.
Suffice it to say, “Motherhood” is a huge topic for me.
Today, however, I’m going to rely on my basic mantronym of “Keep It Simple Sister” and tell you a recent story about the kiddo that is currently residing with me and Hubs.
Consider this a #proudmommoment, if you will.
So the 26 year old who lives in my house came home from their part time job at the local discount store a couple of weeks ago and relayed the following: They were at their cashier stand ringing customers up when the cops came in response to a call from the kiddo’s supervisor. The call was made due to the behavior of a disheveled, confused and presumably homeless man. He had been wandering around the store, opening up and consuming snacks. Kiddo found the stern tone the officers were using with this man concerning. They were certain the officers were gearing up to arrest him.
The disheveled man made it to my kiddo’s station where they confessed they had no money to purchase the items in their cart. Kiddo felt sorry for the man and believed he didn’t belong in jail. They decided in that moment to pay for the man’s items. The cops relented and the man was able to obtain all the items he had in his cart. Kiddo was told by their supervisor that if this situation happened again, they would be fired. Despite this, I am proud of the kiddo. They did the right thing.
Had I been in their situation I can’t say I would have responded in the same manner. I am not a rule breaker by nature. I like to think I would have at least advocated for the man, pleaded with the officers to be lenient with him. To cut him a break, show him some compassion.
That same day, kiddo brought this home to us, along with a Thank You card for housing and supporting them until they are in a position to get their own pad.
This kiddo is alright.
What happy stories might you have as mothers (or fathers, I am an equal opportunity blogger after all) that made you proud of your kids? Please share in the comments!
Recently I changed my primary work password to “GOODJuJu!!”
And I don’t care that you all know it now. What on earth would you do with it anyway? Break into my office, type it in and read my totally uninteresting emails? Go ahead, knock yourself out.
I think this is the best password I’ve ever come up with. Every time I type it in, I remind myself that my daily goal is to spread light in all my interactions with others. Not like I achieve that goal on the regular. But I try nevertheless.
Since I’ve shared my work password, it makes sense to follow the thread of spilling secrets. Tell you about the stuff that I’ve been doing to gain clarity for myself as an ambitious and creative writer.
Don’t get too excited. It’s all really just baby steps. But I think they still count for something.
First secret: I partook in David Sedaris’ Master Class online for Storytelling and Humor. Truth be told, I signed up for this class because of the “storytelling and humor” part-not so much for David Sedaris. I can’t say that I don’t like him, I do; it’s just that I knew of him but hadn’t read anything he has written. Still haven’t, actually.
Signing up for this class was something I did to help me learn in more detail how I can improve my creative writing. My ability to tell humorous stories that people can relate to and appreciate. It was a purely selfish investment that I decided to make in myself. And I have no regrets.
I had have great interest in interacting with the “community” within this online class. I’ve introduced myself, entered a piece of my writing in a contest even. The prize in this contest is David’s feedback on your piece. I think it’s safe for me to assume that I’m not going to win. And this is not me feeling sorry for myself or me being fake humble. My life is too good and blessed for that shit.
I’m not a great writer. I might be, someday. Or not. Either way, the joy writing gives me will not be overtaken by feelings of self-doubt about my ability to grow my readership on this blog or elsewhere.
I would estimate that it took me 3 hours, within the span of 5 days, to decide which piece I should enter for this contest. That’s how I found “Grammerly”, because in order for my piece to be accepted for consideration, it had to be under 600 words.
“Grammerly” also informed me that my piece was at an 11th to 12th grade level. So clearly, there’s room for improvement.
After doing a bit of editing on the piece I chose, I gave it a couple of days, then went back in to see the one comment made on my piece. It was “I feel like there’s too much information in this piece. I’d like to see it pared down to it’s bare bones”. He was spot on. I veer into the rabbit hole of verbosity in both my speech and my writing.
Whether or not I go back in, make some major edits and re-submit is up in the air. I honestly don’t know if that’s even allowed or appropriate. Or maybe it’s expected?
For now, though, I just want to share what struck me most from being a student of this class. The following is taken directly from the notes I made to myself as I participated in this class and worked through the accompanying workbook.
David’s “work spaces”. Loved the imagery. Made me think that I could write about my ideal work space. Like a “she shed” type deal.
Tuning into your surroundings will open you up to moments that could become stories and the parts of your world that belong in your writing.
“I don’t like to write about people I don’t like”. I concur, David. Neither do I. So I won’t. Period. Hopefully this declaration doesn’t come and bite me in the ass later.
David has a conversation with every person in line at his book signings. He also writes thank you letters. He’s such a nice boy.
Take incidents and stitch them together for a story. I love the creative reference of stitching. Also, following threads. And rabbit holes.
Paint a mental picture in a readers head. Go to readings?? David said he learned a lot from doing this. A lot about what not to do, that is.
Now onto my second secret (or is it my third? That’s subjective, I suppose): During the time I was taking this class, I received an email announcing spring 2020 dates for the Listen to Your Mother shows.
Let me back up for a sec: I first heard about this annual event in 2016 from a local-ish “mommy” blogger named Stephanie. Essentially, LTYM is a franchise that is locally produced in various cities in the U.S. Primarily women get up on a stage and read original pieces on the theme of “Motherhood”. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales goes to charity.
I instantly loved this whole concept. The idea of others sharing their personal stories about motherhood, a topic dear to my heart and which I have much to say about, really intrigues me. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, someway, somehow.
So, with David encouraging me to do readings, I started considering applying to be part of the cast. I congratulated myself recently when I realized that I could simply click on the “word cloud” I have featured on my blog’s front page and read all the posts I have written on one particular topic.
But then after reading the few posts I have published that featured “Motherhood” and then proceeded to view video clips of past LTYM speakers, I was overcome with self-doubt. I mean, if this is is all I’ve got to offer and these are examples of my potential “competition” why the hell should I proceed?
Now is the part of this post where you might expect me to say something along the lines of “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” or “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Both of which are 100% true.
However, while I’m not closing the door to auditioning for LTYM, I’m also not necessarily doing it this year. At least not with any of the pieces about motherhood I have published on this blog.
I think it’d be wise to heed David’s advice: attend readings. For me, it’ll be the LTYM show this spring. See what it’s like. Take notes. Make some connections.
I’m just going to jump right in with the “Right Now” part.
Anyone who read my last blog post knows that our youngest kiddo moved in with Hubs and I recently. With their cat in tow. In my almost 53 years (yes, my birthday is just literally around the corner), I have never shared my living space with such a creature.
Despite my initial misgivings (potential allergies, Radar maiming poor little kitty in a clumsy attempt to play with him, the smell), it isn’t so bad having him around.
I haven’t detected any majorly offensive odors yet. Not sneezing my head off or scratching my already dry (thanks Colorado) skin. Radar hasn’t inflicted any injuries on him. Yet anyway.
It’s been entertaining as hell watching Karl the cat and Radar interact with each other. At this point, I’d say they are solid “frenemies”. Like cool with being within a foot of each other. They are establishing their personal boundaries (Karl seems to have a good deal more of them, but apparently that’s cats for you). One of these days, who knows when, I envision there will be long enough a moment to snap a picture of the two of them together. When that happens, I’ll be sure to share it on this here blog.
For now, here’s a sweet pic of Karl I recently took:
As far as our other new roomie goes, things are going well. It’s been nice to have another human around to hang with. One who shares my love of quirky, colorful, fem-positive, musical theater type movies and shows. One who provides me with original art for my blog (featured at the end of this post). One with plenty of new, fresh ideas of things to do and places to go.
Now, kiddo is hard at work searching for gainful employment. Which means that this arrangement is temporary-ish. So I’m going to appreciate their lively presence in my daily life as much as I can between now and the time when they fly out of the coop again and into their own place. Which, if I have my way, will be a less than 10 minute drive from us.
Well, as you can see, I am writing. Feeling squishy about it though. I have three potentially legit blog posts in my draft folder. Just haven’t felt compelled to get back to them to make them publishable. I will, I know. Just not today.
What I’m tempted to write about is a book I recently finished: The Four Agreements. If I did tell you about it, I’d say this: it gives one a lot to think about. Like, a whole lot. About how one moves through the world as a human. How essentially we are programmed to believe stuff about ourselves and the world we inhabit based on what our parental figures told us. And how all of that is a lie. Not sure I am behind that particular concept. Not 100% anyway.
Okay, so I’m going to just get on with it and give into my temptation for a hot second or two.
There are, according to the author (Don Miguel Ruiz), 4 agreements one should live by in order to have a truly happy life. They are ginormous agreements and if you overthink them (which of course I have been doing), your head might explode.
First agreement: Be impeccable with your word. I take this to mean “say what you mean and mean what you say”. That may be a gross simplification of this agreement, to be sure; going deeper it’s also about not gossiping with others about others. That’s a tough one, right?
Not because I intentionally gossip. I’m not a total monster.
It’s just that when someone you know, like, and trust, starts sharing their beefs about another someone you know, but don’t like, and don’t trust, it’s hard to resist joining in. To get sucked into the rabbit hole.
I tell myself that I’m “just venting”, and for a short bit of time I enjoy the camaraderie. I feel that sense of self-satisfaction that comes with the realization that my negative opinion of the one we are bitching about is shared with others. Which I always see in hindsight is not useful or helpful. Certainly not for the target of the gossip session. And not for those of us gossipers. It doesn’t move anything forward in a positive direction in any way.
I guess I just need to figure out how to get myself out of situations where active participation in gossiping is tempting me. That, I believe, is where the challenge lies. Because, ultimately, I don’t want to wind up as the one being gossiped about because I chose not to participate.
That leads me to consider one of the other 4 agreements, which is this: Don’t take things personally. I guess where I could take that in the scenario where I’m the odd one out, turning on my heel and marching away once the gossiping starts, is that what I assume those people have to say about me not engaging in the gossip is on them. Not on me. It has no reflection on me whatsoever.
Sorry for the “psychobabble” folks. That was not my intention when I began writing this post. It’s just where it went. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have more to say about this mind trip of a book. There are, after all, 2 more agreements I didn’t even touch on.
So there you have it. My life is changing and my attitude towards it is evolving. I think all I can really do is just write through it.
My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.
I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.
In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.
More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.
So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.
Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.
I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.
I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.
Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
“Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k
While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.
Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.
FOOD AND DRINK
Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.
But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.
What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!
When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.
I personally love it!
I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!
It’s Tuesday morning and I consciously made the decision to get stuff done around the house instead of spending an hour or more typing up the next blog post. Now I’ve got less than 10 minutes.
I also have not been particularly jazzed about writing about any specific topic this week. There are two ways for me to think about this: procrastination might be my friend. In other words, perhaps penning a post with a finite time limit will propel me to write something of substance, something I can be proud of. Giving myself a time limit will prevent me from over-thinking, which is a talent I sadly excel at. The other take I could have is that this could be an opportunity for me to “chill”. Remind myself that I am not in a race. Remind myself that I will not face any truly negative consequences if I choose to not publish this post on Wednesday, which is my typical publishing day. I could wait till Friday, or heck, even Sunday morning.
So here goes nothing. Or something. More likely something in between.
The other day at my volunteer gig at a local food bank, Santa donated several crates of Nutella. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, right? That’s why I love my job helping senior citizens and volunteering at the food bank. I’m interacting with loads of different people and no two days are the same! But for real, he did look like Santa and he shared that he performs as Santa professionally. Funny thing is, I actually know two other male retirees, both from our old church in Wisconsin, who are also happily enjoying gigs as Santa post-retirement. I love those little happy coincidences that life serves up sometimes, don’t you?
I had to acknowledge my age recently when dining out with Hubs in Denver, prior to the James Taylor concert (which was absolutely fantastic, btw). Unbeknownst to me, the female servers at this restaurant/bar were essentially costumed as strippers. I’m talking bare midriffs, teeny-tiny short shorts, and heavy make up on their precious baby faces. The experience reminded me of those awful reality shows where the little girls are competing in beauty pageants. It was just really troubling to me as a mom. I struggled to keep myself from telling these young ladies to put on a sweater, for God’s sake!
Lately, Hubs and I have been binge-watching “The Walking Dead”. I find it terrifically fascinating. We actually started watching it a few years ago, but at that time I only made it to the second episode due to the gore and violence. I surprised myself by agreeing to try watching it again, just a couple of months ago, with Hubs. For some reason, the gore and violence, while certainly disturbing, didn’t impact me as strongly as it had a few years prior. When I started getting a little heebie-jeebie-ish, I decided to remind myself that the scenes weren’t actually real (duh, right?) and instead to focus on the amazing make-up, special effects, and costuming that was being showcased. I got to thinking, how much fun must it be for make-up artists to work on this set? So with that little change in perspective, I found myself drawn into the predicament these folks found themselves in. Intrigued by the characters and how they interacted with each other. I think if I was a high school or college instructor of say, psychology, leadership (that’s a thing right?), or philosophy, I would frequently use clips from this show for my lessons. There’s so much material there.
In closing, and more importantly in the spirit of randomness, I present to you the best thing I saw on NPR this week. While it is indeed sad that Koko is no longer among us earthlings, this video made me smile. And it reminded me of what an awesome individual Robin Williams was.
Motherhood is such a trip. It is adventurous, scary, and fraught with unforeseen obstacles. It is not for sissies, as they say. Motherhood is also very wonderful. My life is much fuller because I chose to be a mom. My heart grew exponentially the day I became a mom-June 1, 1992.
In honor of Mother’s Day this year, I’d like to share with you a random though by no means comprehensivelist of the joys of motherhood, according to me.
Cuddling my babies. Stroking their rose-petal soft skin and kissing their chubby little feet. Rocking them to sleep was the best.
Being present during their “firsts”. It never failed to be awe-inspiring to witness my children, these little tiny humans that me and Hubs created and I housed inside of me for 9 months, reach milestones like their first words, first steps, or the first time riding their bikes without training wheels.
Enjoying the free, spontaneous entertainment our kids provided us. Like when they would raid my underwear drawer as toddlers and prance around with my bloomers on top of their heads and my bras over their pajamas.
Pancakes: if I did not have my kids, I would hard pressed to justify making a batch of pancakes (12-14 according to the Bisquick box from what I recall). We enjoyed ourselves a lot of pancakes when they were growing up.
Planning and executing great celebrations: whether it be birthdays, graduations, or a wedding-I took great enjoyment in planning them in a way that honored them and lifted them up. Seeing my kids happy was always worth it, whatever amount of stress it entailed.
Companionship. Having kids meant I always had company. I love how my relationships with them have morphed into something new and special now that they are all grown up. I’ve never related to those mother/child relationships where either party proclaims the other is their “best friend”. I am their mother, which to me is a higher honor than “best friend”. Yet, now that they are both grown, I find that I appreciate and enjoy their company on a different level. I’m no longer there to ride them about doing their homework, cleaning up their rooms, or using the bathroom before we get in the car. That sense of responsibility for them is gone. Which makes room for more meaningful conversations and new experiences to enjoy together.
Being a part of the journey into their own motherhood. Our oldest daughter was never so beautiful as she was after giving birth to our beautiful grandson. Seeing her with no makeup and messy, sweaty hair with the biggest smile courtesy of her having just fallen in love with this precious boy was a sight to behold for me as a mom and a new grandma. Such a very special moment that will be forever etched in my memory.
Suffice it to say that I can’t imagine not being a mother. My kids mean the world to me. Tell me, fellow moms, what have you found to be the most joyful aspects of motherhood?
I love chili. Making it, eating it, experimenting with it. It’s one of those rare dishes that almost everyone I know loves. It’s especially perfect during these winter months when you are chilled to the bone. I remember as a kid, when my mom would make a big batch, I’d watch my dad slather on what had to be a good tablespoon of butter onto each Saltine to accompany his hearty bowl of chili. To my dad, everything is better with butter.
One of the few things I remember my dad’s mom making was chili. Only hers was different than all the rest. She added chunks of celery and spaghetti. It was more of a soup than a chili, actually. It smelled and tasted delicious.
My oldest spawn has always been a fan of chili herself. Every year, while we were living in Wisconsin, there was a chili cook off sometime in February. She and I always talked of attending, but for whatever reason, we never did. I regret that.
When Hubs was on a rotating shift schedule and the spawn were elementary school aged, I remember heating up a can of Hormel chili (no beans) in the microwave to create chili dogs for supper sometimes. My oldest and I loved this messy treat, while the youngest was perfectly happy with a plain old hot dog.
So in that spirit, I’d like to share with you the version of chili I came up with earlier this week. Hubs and I agreed it was the best chili I ever made, so I thought it only right to share it with you all.
1 lb. beef stew meat
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 small cans tomato sauce
1 can black beans, drained
1 can chili beans, drained
1 can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes
Chili powder, to taste
Chihula hot sauce, to taste
Heat up the oil in a skillet. Brown the beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. It’s ok to leave it reddish inside. Plop it into a crockpot. Add cans of tomato sauce, black and chili beans, and Ro-Tel tomatoes. Sprinkle in some chili powder and Chihula, to taste. Give it a good stir and set the crockpot to low. After a long day of work, walk in the door and savor the aroma. Pat yourself on the back for taking the approximately 20 minutes this morning to put this deliciousness together. Chop some yellow onions and get out the shredded cheddar and sour cream. Spoon up that chili into bowls and add the flourishes to your liking. Eat up!
And if you’re a family of two like we are, give yourself another pat on the back, because later in the week, or heck even next week, you will have a night of no cooking, because this chili freezes very well in individual plastic tupperware thingies.