Tag Archives: Love

Dads I love with my whole heart

Where do I even begin? Saying my dad is the best is an understatement. This is the man who worked up to 3 jobs at a time to provide for myself, my mom, my 2 siblings and our dog.  This is the man who expresses his affection for those he loves freely and openly. This is the man who has a knack for coming up with nicknames for his loving family members to express his unabashed love for us all. I loved when he would refer to me as being “Yoon-a-que” (a clever play on the word “unique”). He is more likely though to call me “Rhoda Joda”, which he’s been doing for most of my life. My sister, Kelly, is referred to by him as “Kel Kel Poo Poo” and mom is “Mama Buns”. I think it is fair to say his original nicknames for each of us made us feel beloved by him. And he is so beloved by so many. He taught me through example the importance of honesty, integrity, patriotism, hard work, teamwork, and determination.  He had a keen interest in what I was learning in college and the work I did as a social worker. He taught me how to appreciate nature and all the critters (especially dogs) within it. We shared a love of ice cream at the Dairy Queen. Often he’d sneak me off to scarf down hot fudge sundaes in the summertime, followed by a peaceful drive in the country.  His existence raised my standards in who I would choose as my partner in life, and for that I am forever grateful. While I won’t be able to spend Father’s Day with him, I hope he truly knows how much I love, admire, and respect him.

My dad groovin’ out with his mardi gras beads in Alabama circa 1990 something


My father in law, Jim,  is the best second dad I could have ever hoped for. He is patient, funny,  and one of the most generous people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He loves to talk politics/conspiracy theories. He is well known by all who love him for his great sayings like “You win some, you lose some”. Hubs tells me as a teenager, Jim’s one piece of advice to him was to “wear a raincoat if you’re going to play in the mud” (you get it right?). He is fun loving and a very involved Grandpa to our two kids. He has always had a habit of napping in his big comfy recliner, even amidst the chatter of those around him and the t.v. on. When the kids were in elementary school and they would spend weekends at Grandpa Jim and Grandma Alice’s house, he wouldn’t even flinch (though I highly suspect he was really awake) as the kids would adorn him with funny hats and lipstick. He has a deep love of animals and an uncanny ability to communicate with them. He has been known to take his cat Chester (whom was rescued as a wee kitten from the bushes in front of his house by our youngest) on a walk around the neighborhood with a leash. He is great at fixing cars, and along with my dad, got our old black Oldsmobile into good running condition the day Hubs and I were to leave on our honeymoon road trip to Mackinac Island 27 years ago.  A gift of labor we appreciated more than words could say. I am blessed that Hubs was raised by this guy. He was an excellent role model for how to be a good man. I won’t be seeing Jim on Father’s Day this year either, but I hope he’s able to spend time doing his favorite things like spending time outdoors and watching Nascar on the tube.

Classic Jim from circa 1970 something


Hubs-the love of my life and the best dad my kiddos could have had. Patient, just like his dad, which is much appreciated since I am quite certain living with the kiddos and I all these years would have been challenging even for Job. Hubs at his core is fun-loving, affectionate, and a wonderful teacher of life lessons. He is the dad that spent hours upon hours helping our kids with their homework. He is the dad who taught them how to fish and how to ride a bike.  He is the dad who  modeled how a good spouse operates by always working in partnership with me to ensure the house was kept up, supporting me in my career/job choices, treating me respectfully, and not shying away from showing his affection for me each and every day. He is the dad who modeled for our kids how to be a good citizen and human through taking them to see Obama speak, chaperoning church youth mission trips, volunteering,  and writing thoughtful, heartfelt, and thought-provoking editorials in the local newspaper. He’s always encouraged the kids to further their education and delights in celebrating with them when they’ve achieved milestones in their lives. He is a great communicator and his listening skills are admirable, which I’m sure the kids would attest to. He loves having conversations with them about life and love. He learned much about how to be the wonderful dad he is from both our dads, which is a great blessing. I will be spending this Father’s Day with Hubs and plan to do everything in my power to make it a day he will appreciate and enjoy, because well, I love him and he deserves it.

Hubs in his happy place…fishing on the Mississippi River


The boy who owns my heart

I feel like I’ve spent an ample amount of time and energy writing blog posts about past experiences in my life. I’m in a really positive frame of mind today, as the sun is shining here in Colorado and I just returned from my morning neighborhood walk.  I’ve had thoughts about writing stories of my encounters with nature, furry creatures, and people I don’t yet know whom I pass by on these walks. I’ve given myself a mental directive to practice mindfulness during these walks by counting the number of bunnies in my neighborhood (highest total was surprisingly only 7). But today I found myself thinking about a little boy who owns my heart.

He’s got the most beautiful head of golden blond hair. He speaks in complete sentences now and often says the funniest things. He loves playing with toy cars, eating strawberries and cucumbers, and when he is riled up and cranky, his parents banish him to the “crabby corner”. And he still loves the “stinky feet” game I play with him. It involves him laying down on a bed or floor while I take each one of his ticklish, chunky, silky soft feet and smell them, exclaiming “Pee-you!” each time I take  a whiff. This activity elicits the most gleeful giggles I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

I’ve had it in my mind these past few months that this summer, he was going to visit me and the hubs in Colorado. It’d be his first ride in an airplane, not surprising at the tender age of 3. He’d flirt with fellow passengers, especially those of the female persuasion. He would be mesmerized by the clouds he sees through his window seat, to the point where he’d take a sweet little snooze for a while. However, this trip is likely going to have to wait till next summer, when he’s 4, due to financial and scheduling constraints. I am going to embrace this fact and use my time between now and then to imagine/plan the adventures we will have with him next summer.

Oh, the things we will do, the places we will go!

We will take him to the Butterfly Pavilion, located not far from us. There he will check out the in house beehive and Hubs (the scientist) can tell him why bees are so important to us humans here on earth. If he’s brave enough, he will let a big, furry spider sit in his hands while one of the employees tells him what spiders eat and about their natural habitat. He will walk through their amazing butterfly garden, with the sun streaming through the windows and ceiling. Maybe a butterfly will land on his foot, like one did for me when I last visited. We will be sure to dress him in something bright and colorful that day to increase the chance this will happen.

The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is likely to be very exciting for him as well. There I imagine he will cling to my legs as we approach the flood exhibit. He may cover his little ears because it gets pretty loud. The water will likely splash him a little bit, which will cause him to shriek with excitement. He will have lots of questions at the Aquarium to be sure, like “what is that?” and the favorite toddler question “Why?”.  He will giggle and point at the otters who flip and flop and glide through the water while simultaneously keeping their little eyes on the humans who are delighting in their antics.

Most certainly, he will be exposed to the wonder that is Rocky Mountain National Park. Hubs will need to take his Nikon to get shots of this little man exploring all the naturally stunning beauty to be found there. Beforehand, Hubs can take him to buy his own pint sized fishing pole. Then I can get some shots of Hubs teaching the little guy how to fish. A hike would also have to be on the itinerary, though with a 3 year old it shan’t be one that is overly long or challenging. It’ll probably involve a stop along the way to have a picnic lunch. I’ll have to pack some of those disgusting-but-loved-by toddlers mashed fruit pouches, peanut butter sandwiches, and juice boxes. And lots of handi-wipes of course.

Hubs and I will scope out the best parks with playground equipment within a 10 mile radius and visit them with the kiddo. We will take him to church, where he can meet our new church family and hear some great music. We will take him to the Science Museum in Denver, to which we have not yet been. And we’ll take him to one of our lovely Farmer’s Markets and encourage him to sample new and foreign-to-him foods, and capture his reaction. We will take him to a water and/or amusement park, accompanying him on rides which he is tall enough to be on.

This child of which I speak is our grandson Christopher. He makes my heart burst with happiness whenever I am with him. The highlight of this summer for me will no doubt be times spent with him when we visit Wisconsin in July. It’s hard to imagine there was actually a time, not long ago, when I was so caught up in my own self-image that I told everyone that while indeed, my daughter was having her own baby, I would not be called “Grandma”. Time (and love) has such an awesome way of changing one’s perspective, does it not?

On Marriage

On May 26 of this year, Hubs and I will have been married for 27 years. I think the wisdom we have gained in all that time has resulted in our marriage being stronger now than it ever was. It also doesn’t hurt that we are empty nesters living in Colorado. We have had our ups and downs, as all married couples do. Times when I was so furious with him that I found myself calling him not so nice names and he slammed cupboard doors. Times when disagreements about our kids got very overheated. Times when one of us got a raise or bonus at work, and we went out for dinner and drinks to commemorate the moment. Times when we got out into our boat on the Mississippi River and silently marveled at its beauty together. Times when we were so poor that we couldn’t scrape enough coins from under the tattered couch cushions to afford to rent a movie at the local convenience store for $1.99.

We have essentially grown up together. We have been together for longer than we haven’t. It’s really quite mind blowing when I think of it that way.

The most valuable piece of marital advice we received was given to us by a nurse in the hospital the day after giving birth to our first born, back in 1992. She implored us to keep our marriage the #1 priority. She explained that while we were now a family of 3, we needed to maintain focus on our marriage so that we could become a strong parental unit and set a good example for our kids. This advice stuck with us. We hired babysitters or took the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house as often as we possibly could.

I think most of the tricks on how to be successful at this marriage thing came gradually, through trial and error over all these years. I’ll share the ones I feel are most important.

Give each other a break when you can. Practice kindness on a daily basis.

Participate in activities the two of you equally enjoy as often as you can. We especially enjoy the quieter moments, like going out fishing or for a hike. Or to a cool, casual place for dinner or a cocktail.

Communicate often and as clearly as possible. Listen with an open heart. Know when to shut up and just let your partner vent.

Give your spouse lots of hugs.

Don’t let yourself go to bed angry at your spouse. You will not sleep well, if at all. And whatever you were angry about is still going to be there in the morning. Just hash things out as best you can.

Give each other space sometimes. No one is truly going to be happy feeling like their spouse is attached to them at the hip. We all need our alone time.

Acknowledge when your spouse has done something well. Thank them often. Everyone needs to feel appreciated. It’s human nature.

Be a considerate roommate. Don’t leave your dirty dishes or underwear lying around. Offer to do the dishes if your spouse has done the cooking.

Always remember you are a team. Imagine if your life together was a business. Love, mutual respect, and friendship are the foundation. Both partners have a stake in this business and work with each other, day in and day out, in order to achieve mutually desired success. One partner may have skills that you simply don’t possess. Likewise, you may have skills your partner doesn’t. Once you have a good handle on what those skills are, you and your spouse are equipped with the wisdom to successfully solve problems as a unit. This comes in especially handy when parenting your spawn.

Strive to keep things interesting! Go on spontaneous adventures together. Jump in the car in the morning and head out to parts unknown, even if just for the day. Hubs and I have so many great memories of days when our only goals were to see and/or do something new to both of us and to have as much fun as possible.

With a little luck, Hubs and I will be married for another 27 years. There will be more ups and downs, ones that will be expected as part of life and ones that will completely throw us for a loop. That is life. You take the good with the bad. I take much comfort in knowing that I have my best friend, the one who loves and accepts all sides of me, the one who makes me laugh the hardest, who makes me think the deepest, and the one I trust more than anyone in the world, with me through it all.

Dear Moms

Dear moms of children ages 12-22,

It gets better. You don’t have to take my word for it, but you should. I have been in your shoes. I’ve experienced unnecessary dressing room drama, engaged in numerous battles over the refusal to eat lovely and nutritious meals put in front of my children (child really-you know who you are), and hosted multiple obnoxious “friends” for sleep overs.

And I survived it all. Fortunately my two kids came out relatively unscathed as well.

These two children I speak of are not perfect. Neither achieved straight A’s in any grade between 1st through 12th. Neither were gifted athletes (they can thank my genes for this as one who was consistently picked last for team sports in gym class back in the day and cannot safely ride a bike). Neither were hard workers.

Slowly but surely though, between the ages of about 21 and 24, I started to see them shine. My oldest managed to graduate with her Associates degree from technical college at the age of 23, while simultaneously juggling a full time job at a fast food chain and becoming a mother for the first time. My youngest, the artist in the family, bounced around a few places (including a stint in college which lasted a solid two years), before landing in Indianapolis where she is making a (albeit meager)  living on her art. She also learned how to speak Japanese and spent time there during her college years.

These two former knotheads are now hardworking, appreciative, resilient, intelligent and thoughtful young adults. I treasure my relationships with them now and am beyond proud of who they are becoming.

If anyone had been able to foresee the future back in about 2008 in respect to my children, I can’t say for certain I would have believed them. At the time, I figured clown college or digging ditches were more likely in their future than what they have now achieved at ages 23 and 24.

Instead, they went and surpassed my expectations. Kids are full of surprises.

So, hang in there moms. It will get better despite what may or may not be occurring in the present. You’ve got this. SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Wishes on Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day just around the bend, I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about my journey as a mom. I’ve been a mom for almost 25 years now, which is hard to fathom as the memories of my children’s births are still fresh in my mind. My kids are in fact no longer “kids” as the oldest is soon to be 25 and the youngest turns 24 this summer. I surely made mistakes along the way but I’ve always tried my best. Looking back, I would hit a ‘do over’ button if one was available in a number of circumstances. I like to think that most mothers out there would say the same thing. Of course, that is a way for me to feel better about how I did as a mom, right? But I don’t intend for this post to be about the past. I want to talk about the future: specifically my wishes for my children’s futures.

Wish #1) That my children to retain as close a relationship to each other as possible. The reality is, they are the only two people on this planet who were parented by me and the Hubs. They have their own stories about us as parents, for better or worse. They were each other’s first friends. They understand what buttons to push and not to push with each other and they have a unique ability to comfort each other in times of trouble.

Wish #2) That my children will always trust their gut instincts. When faced with a choice, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, and there’s a niggling feeling in their literal guts, brains, or hearts, I pray they do not proceed with that choice. I wish for them to appreciate the fact that their body is sending them an important message which they must heed. And if they don’t feel they have the courage to make a different choice or simply say “No”, I hope they will call or text me as I am a pretty good sounding board.

Wish #3) That my children make their physical and mental health their first priority. My children both have big hearts. Hearts I of course wish to protect. They are caring, kind, and generous young people. They both have been known to go out of their way to help others, such as loaning money or a place to crash to friends or even friends of friends. I am proud of them for their kind hearts and actions, believe me. However, I worry that the energy they expend on others leaves them with too little to dedicate to themselves. What I wish for them to understand is that if they choose not to prioritize their self-care by having annual physicals, regular dental appointments, adequate sleep, balanced nutrition, and healthy stress coping mechanisms, they will not only be decreasing their quality of life and happiness, but they will have less energy to give to others.

Wish #4) That my children maintain a sense of humor about themselves. When I was growing up, and probably through much of my 20’s, I took myself waaay too seriously. This was very much tied to feeling self-conscious much of the time and having low self esteem. As I’ve gotten older (and I like to think wiser), I have come to the realization that in actuality, I don’t have to be perfect. I can make a comment to someone, quickly realize it didn’t come out as cleverly as I intended, and laugh it off. Because it turns out the sky doesn’t actually fall in when I’m just being me.

Wish #5) That my children never, ever forget that I am always here for them, come what may. I will always listen to what they have to say to the best of my ability, and refrain from judgement. I will always have their backs. My love for them is infinite.

Wish #6)   That my children maintain their hard work ethics. I wish for them to envision what they truly desire for their futures and know they have my full emotional support with every step they need to take to make their visions become reality.  I wish for them to not stop when faced with obstacles along the way, but forge a new path to achieve their dreams.

Wish #7) That my children be life-long learners.  I sincerely hope they follow their curiosity and see where it leads. To further their educations for personal enhancements or professional growth, or simply for the sheer joy of it. I wish for them to strive each and every day to be the best version of themselves. To live as authentically as possible. They owe this to themselves as well as to the world.

Wish #8) That my children do their best to not sweat the small stuff. I know from personal experience that this is a huge waste of time and energy.  I wish them to remember to ask themselves the following questions when they are feeling stressed out by a situation or circumstance: Will this matter in a month from now?  Or next year? Or in 5 years? Often the answer is going to be simply “no”. In my view, most everything in life is temporary.  As I’ve often told myself in times of extreme stress “This too shall pass”.  This phrase has helped me through a lot.  I suspect my unique, smart, kind, funny, and beautiful children will find it useful as well.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!


Calling b.s. on “Live each day as if it were your last”

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius is credited with the quote “Live each day as if it were your last”.

While many may believe this is a powerful, inspirational, motivating quote, for me at least it’s bullshit.

If I personally were to take this literally, my last day on earth would include the following:

As I would only have 24 hours to work with which doesn’t allow enough time to get on a flight to Minnesota, Wisconsin, or anywhere for that matter, I would call or video chat everyone I love to tell them goodbye. It would be terribly emotional and heart wrenching.

Once I collected myself from that activity, I would proceed to consume the following food and drink (in no particular order) : french fries, gourmet chocolate cake, lasagna, pizza, twizzlers, red wine, hot fudge sundae, chicken quesadillas, cheesecake, craft beer, warm chocolate chip cookies, Starbucks coffee, and cinnamon rolls.

Then after thoroughly puking my guts out, I’d listen to my favorite music. Picking artists and songs and listening to them would take up quite a large part of whatever is left of my last day on earth. However, the music would give me energy to press on to more important activities. Like spending time outdoors with my other half/best friend/best hubby ever. And then of course, a little hanky panky would be in order.

I would then proceed to spend time furiously writing checks to all of my favorite charities along with my two spectacularly wonderful adult children.

At that point, I would be ready to engage in having some fun and laughing so hard I’d be peeing my pants, such as watching favorite SNL clips from years gone by or random YouTube videos of toddlers, puppies, kittens, and goats doing hilariously adorable things on camera. That would then prompt me to seek out the nearest neighborhood dogs and small children so I could pet and interact with them (okay, maybe I wouldn’t actually pet the small children, that’d be wacko).

I would cap off my last day on earth with singing songs with or to Christopher (my beautiful grandson who turns 3 today) via video chat.

Then I would call it a day and presumably croke.

However, I would quite likely wake up the next  morning (okay noon, but let’s be real here, yesterday was jam freaking packed!). So would begin another “last day on earth”.  Oh the anxiety!! Good Lord!

So….this is my alternative to “live every day as if it is your last”:

Love as if every day is your last”

As in…..as much as humanly possible:

Be kind to everyone you come into contact with.

Bake something yummy to share with friends/neighbors/co-workers.

Tell those you love what you love about them.

Give something you have (something you really love) to someone who needs it more than you.

Pass on favorite books, movies, or music to someone you know will treasure them as much as you do.

Smile and say “Hi” to strangers

Be radically hospitable to visitors to your home.

Pet stranger’s dogs

Lift up the good deeds others are doing.

I, for one, prefer to love as it if was my last day as an earthly being. Living “as if” it was my last day is far too exhausting. To me, loving every day as if it was your last is better than living as if it was.