Tag Archives: Minnesconsin

Liberal Arts Grandma ISO Meaningful Work

The level of clarity I have about life, mine of course, but also general life, if you know what I mean, has increased significantly in the last year.

This is on account of all the changes. The cross country move, the new lifestyle and routine, our daughter and grandson overcoming so much and blossoming in their new environment.

I’m feeling settled in here now. At a point of reflection, just gobsmacked over the changes that had to occur and the choices that had to be made to get me and (most of) my beloved crew here, living 15 minutes from each other in this 4 season wonderland that is Minnesconsin.

Not that life is perfect; I’m just marinating in this feeling of being “settled”.

However, I know I can’t marinate indefinitely. Nor do I want to.

Paid employment is beckoning me at the moment. I’m itching to get back at it. But I’m still in charge of the now 9 year old at least a few afternoons per week, and I’m seeing that this might continue through the school year.

So, paid employment for me is kind of on the back burner for now.

That’s ok however, because I have yet to figure out what it is exactly I want to or can do and be paid for it. This the one big thing I don’t yet have clarity on.

Example: I opted for a free upgrade recently on LinkedIn. I thought it would be helpful for me to engage more on that site. However, when I went to update my profile, I was prompted to describe the kind of job I am looking for.

I blanked. I literally didn’t realize until that moment that I don’t know exactly what kind of job I want. So, I stopped right there and shortly after canceled my upgrade to prevent myself from being charged a monthly fee.

I might go back to it, upgrade it again. Once I figure out what kind of job I’m looking for, that is.

In my fantasy life, the job of my dreams (you know, the one that allows me to work part time writing and supporting others in various ways to move forward and achieve their hearts desire) just shows up. It appears out of thin air and I gratefully latch onto it and thank my lucky stars.

But that is not how it works. Ever.

Not that I’m not a believer in manifestation, but I know I’ve got to put some work into it. Take some action.

While I ponder paid employment, I’m hell bent on being more active. Physically, mentally, and intellectually. What’s cool about this for me is that I’ve got a sidekick. My grandson needs to be engaged in learning so he can move forward and so do I.

That means my “job” right now is to learn and grow with him. I refuse to put on a teacher hat when he’s here because it’s important to me that my role as his Grandma remains intact for him.

That compels me to think outside the box. To figure out how to engage him without saying words like “learn” or “teach” in his presence. He balks when those words are uttered. So I have to be a little sneaky about it, kind of like those parents who whirl veggies in a blender and put it in the muffins they’re baking for the kids.

I like the notion of being the “liberal arts” Grandma. She who engages her grandchild’s artistic and creative tendencies in a way that sheds new light into his brain and heart.

One thing I did recently with him is to ask him to teach me how to do oragami, something I know he’s good at and likes to do. As a kid with ADHD, he needs to keep his hands busy pretty much all the time. He was very receptive to it and seemed to appreciate my suggestion that one of the pieces of oragami I created could be turned into a piece of art, like a picture frame.

So, my new theory is that both he and I can learn together via arts and crafts projects. That can be my contribution to his education.

Pinterest, here I come!

Home is Minnesconsin

In several of my recent blog posts, I’ve talked about living in “Minnesconsin”. I just popped it in there on my blog posts since we moved back to Wisconsin from the Denver metro. No real explanation at all.

So this is a blog post to explain it. It’s important to me to share with you all the love I have for living where I do. Because “Minnesconsin” is my favorite place to live. My happy place.

I think people should know about this beautiful area of the U.S. and all that it has to offer.

Do you love where you are live like I do?

From the time we got engaged and moved in together (1989), until 2022, Hubs and I (and our kids many of these times), have moved 10 times. We have lived in 5 states in that span of time: Minnesota, Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

This fall, my BFF and her husband came for a visit. This was the first time they had seen our house. Their visit reinforced for me why it was such a good decision for us to settle in this area: our friends only had to drive a bit over 2 hours to get here. We haven’t lived this close to these dear friends of ours since I was pregnant with my second kid and we all lived in the Twin Cities metro. Many, many moons ago.

Minnesconsin is a very particular geographic location in Wisconsin (or Minnesota for that matter) that is a mere 35 to 60 minute drive to Minnesota (or Wisconsin). It’s like the best of both worlds to me.

If you’re interested, you can click here for the urban dictionary’s definition of Minnesconsin. It provides a bit more detail.

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have my heart. You see, I was born and raised in Minnesota but spent many years of my adult life living in Wisconsin. Minnesconsin is where I was supposed to land all this time. Hubs feels the same way; that’s why we’re so happy here. It feels good and right.

Before we left Wisconsin for Colorado (2016), my friend Stacey (also from Minnesota originally), gave me a framed piece of art with the shape of the state of Wisconsin on it with the word “home” written on it. When I first saw it, I said “oh, cool, that’s the state of Colorado” (got a big old D in college geography, folks), then we all had a big laugh. At the time, I wasn’t thinking that we’d end up back in the state, at least not any time soon. I was hyper-focused on moving to and living in Colorado at the time.

Now we’re Minnesota Vikings fans in Cheesehead Country. We’re Wisconsin Supper Club fans from “way up in da northland”. We’re people from the “land of 10,000 lakes” who love the country/lake life in Sconny.

Our house is just a hair over an hour drive to the Minneapolis airport. Just over two hours to Duluth, near where I was born and raised. Yet, in Wisconsin near my in-laws, and now my daughter and grandson.

Minnesconsin is also a great place to visit, especially in the summer. There are small town festivals going on most weekends. Lots of lakes to boat and fish on and places to rent boats and other water toys. Beautiful trails to hike on and great little hole-in-the-wall bar/restaurants as well as the aforementioned supper clubs to dine in.

If you like snow and are not adverse to very cold temps, Minnesconsin is a fun spot to visit in the winter. About 20 minutes from our house, there’s a skiing and snow-tubing place. There are snow and ice-sculpting festivals happening on the weekends in the winter months around these parts. And, of course, opportunities for ice fishing on many of our lakes.

I’m looking forward to exploring more of Minnesconsin as time goes on as well as sharing tales on my exploits with you!

***Header image courtesy of https://untappd.com/b/hop-and-barrel-brewing-minnesconsin-lager/2402108 and Hop and Barrel Brewing

Simple Snapshots

With the new life I’m living now, I embrace the acronym K.I.S.S. It’s quite the versatile “mantronym” for me personally as I mentioned long ago, but these days it really is just “Keep It Simple Sister”.

So, this post is an example of that for me. A simple blog post where I share pictures I’ve taken since our big move to Minnesconsin last summer. Ones I haven’t shared in this space before.

2022 Christmas window display
Cardinal perched on a tree on my Mom’s Birthday 2022
“My Toy!” Radar Christmastime 2022
Little flower garden Summer 2022
Mr. Pig at the County Fair snoozing away Summer 2022
Grandson doing his favorite thing Summer 2022
Taxidermied Critters Display Small town Wisconsin Bar Summer 2022
Selfie taken at Hotel Boulderado March 2022
Art in a drawer at a Rocky Mountain cabin Feb of 2022

8 of Many

It is just incredible to me that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Time has just been chugging along, hasn’t it?

Just to catch you up, because I know lately I’ve been so hit and miss with this blogging thing: I’ve been watching my 8 year old grandson at my house Mon-Fri for several weeks now. Yes, he is not in school and yes, he should be. And yes he will be, eventually.

It’s a long and complicated story that I have shared small bits of on this platform. Bottom line, my grandson has behavioral issues that thus far the school faculty have not been able to successfully manage. Kiddo is now enrolled in a specialized day program for kids like him. While soon he’ll be attending in person (with the goal of him attending regular school in the near future), for now he is doing 3 hours each morning of virtual learning and treatment through this program.

And I am the enforcer. Maybe hall monitor is a better way to put it.

Anyway, I feel like I needed to just get that out there because it’s my current situation; an unexpected challenge. I need no sympathy here. I’m focused on the good, because, simply put, that is what’s helpful to me. To all of us-don’t you think?

What is good for you all right now? What, or who, is it that immediately comes to mind when you read that question? That for what you have geniune gratitude?

Here’s 8 (of many) things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving:

  1. The time I’m getting to spend in the company of my grandson. Time I didn’t see coming. Listening to him tell jokes and try out different accents. Watching him sled down the little hill in our yard after a recent snowfall.
  2. My dear and thoughtful Hubs, who thoroughly cleaned the refrigerator last weekend without being asked while I was out of town bonding with my sister and 6 of our badass female cousins.
  3. Bonus kids: my daughter’s kind and loving boyfriend and his 3 year old cutie pie.
  4. Our awesome house here in Minnesconsin. The layout, the vibe, the possibilities. The feeling that we will live here for the rest of our lives.
  5. My kids. The maturity I’m seeing as they make their way out of their 20’s. The bonds we’ve developed over time with each other.
  6. Being unemployed. The free time that gives me to shower this house with some love and holiday cheer.
  7. Friendships: the ones we have in our new neighborhood and our dear old friends who we now live closer to and thus get to spend time with more frequently.
  8. Being able to host Thanksgiving at our new house for the in-laws and our daughter, grandson, and bonus kids.

With that, I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family and/or friends and stuffing yourselves with all your favorite foods.

To Do Lists and the Kid

What do you all think about “to do” lists? Do you swear by them? Does the thought of making one stress you out?

I think these are interesting questions. I imagine answers being very subjective; dependant on how you were raised, how you’re wired, the generation you’re in, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I have been making them for as long as I can remember, at work and at home. Lately, I’ve been making “to do” lists for the entire week vs. daily. Having all the tasks written out in black and white knowing I have the whole week to get it all done makes it easier to manage. And I’m not a big procrastinator, so that helps.

Back when we were in Colorado and our daughter and grandson were living with us, one day the kid decided to create himself a “to doo” list.

Of course I kept it and may even frame it someday. I feel like that’s the kind of Grandma I am. Here it is:

Now, some of what he wrote is figure-outable. Some of it, not so much. He’s 8, folks.

So, there’s 9 tasks on his list. Let me translate it for you:

  1. Make You Tube video (the kid loves to do this, though “hates” having his picture taken. Go figure.).
  2. Watch news (I think he put this down because Hubs and I always turn on MSNBC for Ari Melber weeknights at 5 p.m.).
  3. Do something to get money (I appreciate his industrious intentions).
  4. Play with Radar (awwww…).
Radar is living his best life here in Minnesconsin Sept. of 22

5. Sit and talk (love that he put this in there).

6. Eat dinner (his favorite then was chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese, now he’s more of a grilled cheese kinda guy).

7. Get ready for bed (so soon? there was usually some horsing around the house between 6 and 7).

8. Cuddle Radar (again…awww…yes I will be framing this).

9. Go to bed.

The most important thing on my “to do” list today is to attend an IEP meeting for him with my daughter at his new school. It’s a long and complicated story, but suffice it to say the kid is struggling, emotionally and socially. He’s been through some major changes in his young life and as a neurodivergent, sensitive, and inquisitive kid it’s been hard for him. For all of us here who love him as well.

I’m praying that between our combined love for the kid and my social work background, there will be a good outcome from this meeting.

As Whitney Houston sang in “The Greatest Love of All”: “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”.

***Header image courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson and https://www.momtastic.com/parenting/541137-40-amazing-quotes-parenthood/

The Space I’m In

It’s Sunday morning and I’m in the camper (aka our current home) with Hubs and Radar.

Radar is sitting across from me at the dinette, thoroughly engrossed in licking his nether regions. He’s on the bench seat that I keep covered in a beach towel for his comfort each night.

The summer is almost over.

The summer of 2022 has been a little wild for me. Certainly strange. There’s been some surprises (of which I am generally a fan), good and bad in unequal measure.

What’s your take on life’s surprises?

This summer has also been invigorating: the fresh and clean breezes, frequent deer sightings, the birdsongs. Stimulating but also grounding for me. Radar making new friends.

Radar with the neighborhood pooch, Maya

It’s been a memorable season of our married life for sure. Living in a 21 foot camper for more than 2 months has been interesting, to say the least. We’ve joked that moving about the camper simultaneously is like playing “Twister”.

This upending of our lives to move back to Wisconsin has made me more acutely aware of a slew of things; namely the things, ideals, and people I will die on a hill for. It’s solidified my priorities. Given me more clarity.

I can now see more clearly how I want to live. I’m devoted to learning and growing, from my creative writing habit to gardening to grandparenting. My MIL has offered to teach me how to can, using the vegetables in our new-to-us garden. And I’m eager to get back to learning how to play my ukelele.

I think I just seriously aged myself in that last paragraph.

Whatever.

Maybe I will learn how to play and sing along to this lovely medley:

Isn’t this fantastic?

We are now less than 2 weeks out from moving into our sweet new house.

I’m aiming to do more of the enjoying of the present than wishing the time away.

But. It’s. Hard.

Because my head is swimming with ideas about what furniture is going to go where in the new house. The color schemes in each room. Where that beautiful new art piece with the lillies is going to be hung.

I’m missing our youngest, who has remained in Colorado. Though I am a bit less worried now about how they are going to fare without us a half hour drive away than I was when we arrived in Minnesconsin land in June. They now work at a place where they get to provide direct support to a very marginalized population. I am incredibly proud of them and hopeful they will persist, as I’m certain that workplace is better with them in their presence. And vice-versa.

While his mom’s at work, I’m taking care of our 8 year old grandson for several days between now and when we move into our house. 3rd grade in a new school starts right after we move in.

I think it’s fair to say that as a grandma, I’m a work in progress. I continue to learn as I go. But I’m up for it. The kid is so worth it. He’s been through a lot. So many changes in a short period of time.

My grandson is very bright, but also quite oppositional and reactionary. He’s also very funny, but sometimes gets carried away with it physically and ends up accidentally hurting himself or wrecking something. Suffice it to say, he requires a lot of energy from me.

Note to self: schedule a massage, STAT!

As you can see, I’m also a work in progress when it comes to self-compassion. I suspect many of you are too.

I have probably said this before in one of my blog posts, but I know for sure that writing these personal essays and getting them out there in the world is, for me, part of my self-compassion practice.

Anyone else feel this way about blogging?

Let me leave you, dear patient readers, with this creative rendition of a classic, feel-good Beatles song. Because life goes on. And as a tik-toker I came upon recently said “we’re not here for a long time, but we’re here for a good time”.

Isn’t this kid something else?

House number 8

The afternoon of the day we toured what was our eighth (and final) home, I was watching my 8 year old grandson. And the kid was pouncing on my last nerve. I was at my wit’s end, between his shenanigans and the wounds I was still nursing after losing out on house number 7. The least annoying thing the kid did that afternoon, if you can believe it, was to repeat “are we there yet” over and over in a sing-songy voice in the backseat for no less than 15 minutes while I was driving to meet up with Hubs to check out this house.

I actually got to such a frazzled state that day that I barked to Hubs on our way to house number 8 something to the effect of “let’s just go back to Colorado”. A ridiculous thing to say, indeed. But we all say ridiculous things when we are at the end of our mental ropes, right?

The house has deeded access to a lake. It’s own dock. A beautiful flower garden out front that attracts butterflies. A patch of blueberries and strawberries. 3 larger vegetable gardens. Then there’s a small deck, a cozy sun room and beautiful flooring. There’s both an attached and a detached garage (aka man cave/party room). Hubs and I are thrilled that our offer was accepted.

It was just what we were looking for this whole time. Well-priced, easy access to water for pontooning and fishing, not too far away from the in laws and our daughter and grandson. And not a fixer upper (unlike the previous house we bid on).

The current owners of House number 8 offered to sell us much of the furniture. We, of course, were not looking at the furniture when we first saw the house. So, the owners allowed us to come over one night last week to take a look at all they were trying to unload so we could make some decisions.

On the dining room table was a note from them to us. In this note, they congratulated us on our new home and said they think we will love it. They also said they had picked veggies from the garden for us and we could just grab them from the fridge. They signed the note and supplied us with their personal cell phone numbers, stating to give them a call with any questions re: the house.

As Hubs has a green thumb and I’m eager to learn his ways, we were so appreciative that the owners also included a hand-written diagram of the gardens.

Wow, right? So thoughtful and kind. We came home with green beans, zucchini, kale, and cucumbers; as well as a damn good feeling about moving to this house.

I’m so glad we moved here, to “Minnesconsin”, (we are a very short drive to Minnesota, which delights me no end).

Thanks for your well wishes on us finding “the one”, friends.