Happy NEW Year!

Welcome to 2016!

It’s hard for me to believe I let half a year go by without blogging. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, not to me. But I’m assuming the posts don’t lie. I still think about blogging all the time, I find that I still compose posts in my head, I think I just let it get out of control.

I was trying to blog about everything in my life and it started to become a challenge, and then I fell behind and it became more challenging, eventually I think it just became so overwhelming, it was actually easier NOT to post anything.

I don’t want it to be that way. I like blogging, I like writing down my thoughts and feelings for the future. I love recording the books I read and having a space to talk about that. No one reads the same things as I do, so I hardly ever have a chance to talk about them, so I like that this is a space for me to clarify my feelings.

What I don’t need is a place to write account logs of everything I do in my life. I take photos (and post them on IG, but that’s a whole other thing) and I don’t need this to be a living record of how I spend my time. Life’s too short for that. Memories are meant to be made, not recorded. I want to step back some from the personal and focus on the things that appeal to me.

That’s my goal for this year. Simplify. I know people do that, they choose a word to embody a goal. That’s not me, I don’t do resolutions and all that crap, but as I’ve pondered this new year, the past year, my life, I keep coming up with that. I started this past year at Christmas and it felt great. I have projects and plans for my home and I’m excited to start them. And now my blog. I want to get back on track and I want to simplify. Don’t expect me to write every day. Don’t expect long posts about birthday parties or weekend adventures. Don’t expect. Just read, if you like, appreciate if that’s your thing, or stop, if it isn’t working for you. I don’t do it for you, I do it for me.

And for me, this is about simplicity. Welcome 2016, it’s simply wonderful to meet you.

Luke Bryan

I’ve been noticeably absent from the blog for a while. And, as the author, I’m just assuming my absence is notable. At any rate, I want to share this cute story with you.

Last night, I was out with my brother Zack for his birthday. Now, it was way later than I usually stay out and I just wanted to go home, but it was his birthday, so I manned up and decided to go have another drink with him. He chose Demoris. Fine. Haven’t been there in YEARS, but fine by me.

Let’s pause to go back to this weekend. Saturday, I am catching up on email. I get a newsletter from K102 with country updates. I don’t always read it, but this time it said Luke Bryan in the subject line. I love Luke Bryan. Love him out loud. I’ve been saying for a couple years that I’d go see him the next time he came here. Of course, I somehow missed when the tickets went on sale, even though I had it marked on my calendar, and the concert sold out. So I don’t get to see him. Disappointed, but I’ll live.

Anyway, this newsletter was about the upcoming concert. Evidently they’ve partnered up with Miller to do a promotion called Luke-ing for Luke. They’ve put cardboard cutouts of Luke Bryan all over the Twin Cities. If you find one, you take a selfie with it and Tweet it to K102 and then you’re entered in a drawing to win tickets. Now, the newsletter made it sound mysterious, like you had to hunt for these cutouts. I immediately thought it was a cute idea and about 10 years ago, I’d have called up Kelly and we’d have spent a Saturday driving around town hunting down these cutouts. But I don’t do that now.

Back to last night. Zack and I head into Demoris, which is a nondescript sort of place in Oakdale of all cities. We sit at the bar, I just settle on my stool, when I see, across the room, a lifesize cutout of Luke Bryan!

I jumped (okay, not really, the boot doesn’t allow jumping, but I mentally jumped) off my barstool and grabbed Zack’s arm and said “come with me”. I dragged my brother across the bar and gave him my phone and made him take a pic of me with the cutout. “I don’t do that now” apparently doesn’t hold up when I’m faced with the reality of Luke Bryan’s handsome cardboard face.

Untitled

So I explained this to Zack and he said, “so of all the places in the Twin Cities they put one of these at Demoris?” See? We both thought it was weird. I said I guess so and then proceeded to tell the bartender who also had no idea why we were taking pics with a cutout.

Today, I looked up the rules, in order to Tweet it, which I did, and as of this posting, my Tweet is featured on the page (this link here) explaining the rules. I imagine that will be true until someone else Tweets with that hashtag. Turns out that on the website they give a list of all the places you can find a cutout, which was not in the newsletter. I thought it was way more of a contest. But still. If you see one, take your pic with it and Tweet it in. And please take me to the concert if you win.

And that right there is why it is worth it to sometimes say yes when you actually want to say no.

Mom’s 60th Bash

Not much of a bash, as we were all gearing up for surgery, but we managed to sneak in some fun. Just sharing some of the amazing photos.

P2210772

Reading the card with Grandma

P2210813

I couldn’t love this any more. Simon was taking photos and he took this.

P2210815

And this is one of my new all-time faves. Uncle Chad is beloved by the kids, but this? This is too cute. Someone will be getting this for a birthday gift.

P2210821
Like I said, Simon was taking photos.

P2210833
Uncle Nick stopped by for a visit. He’s pretty fond of Cam.

P2210857
And this, he’s playing dead on her lap and she’s just letting him. Then he’ll get bored or she’ll say, “Simon, you’re too heavy” and he’ll move. They are so funny together.

P2210870
Now Arionna has the camera and Simon darted away, he was playing my guitar next to me on the couch but wouldn’t be in the picture.

P2210866
And lastly, Grandma with her Grandsons. How darling and perfect. And they were tired, this was the end of the night.

It was a lovely family day and I hope Mom enjoyed it as much as I did.

The Second Year of Cam

I honestly don’t think I ever blogged his first birthday. It’s cool. But I wanted, not to recap the whole Curious George party, but just to post a couple of the photos, to remember.

P2140716
Big sister, and Cousin Layla

P2140718
A smattering of guests

P2140719
A birthday party? And so no one will yell at us or tell us to stop banging on the piano!?!

P2140731
Family unwrapping station

P2140755
He started to cry when they took the cake away to cut it. I really think he thought it was all for him!.

P2140761
Oh, much happier now. And who needs cake AND pudding?

P2140722

Last, but not least, my darling little nephew, all happy to be 2 and delighted by Curious George. Happy Birthday, Cam, Auntie Livi loves you bunches and bunches!

A Day for Moms

So Mother’s Day is still over a month away. However, I just had a cooking question and I emailed my mom, she promptly replied with the answer and now I can have dinner tonight. And it made me feel grateful for her, all over again. Not just that she’s my mom and she’s awesome and she knows so much, but that she’s always there for even the little stuff.

i was thinking that I don’t need a special day to profess my love and admiration for her. But this year, I will be so glad for the arrival of this pseudo-holiday for one reason.

Then Hulu will finally stop playing that horrible commercial about breast cancer. EVERY episode of EVERY show that I watch it is on during EVERY commercial break. It’s awful, non-compelling, and way too long. And each time it comes on I think, “seriously, I have to put up with this for three, two, one more month(s)?” Now that MD is only five weeks away it’s almost over, but I still have to watch it every day for five more weeks.

Unbearable.

So, bring on the day to celebrate Moms. Let people walk for breast cancer. Allow me to celebrate my mom any old time I want. And for God’s sake, quit showing that damn commercial.

Amen.

P.S. Happy Maundy Thursday, everyone.

Conversation with Arionna

I am very behind on blogging, but I want to commit this before I forget.

Saturday, she and I were playing with an interactive map, she is learning her states. We would select them and then talk about the state, I’d tell her if I’d been there and what I know about it. We got to the state of Oklahoma…

Arionna: Have you been there?

Me: No, but I’d like to go there.

Arionna: Why, what is it like there?

Me: I don’t know, but that is where Christian Kane is from.

Arionna: Oh! That’s your friend, you should go visit him!

Me: I’d really, really like that. (smiling hugely) Do you know who else is from Oklahoma?

Arionna: No, who?

Me: Blake Shelton

Arionna: I know him, he’s on The Voice!

And pop culture wins again. Also, even young children know Christian Kane is my friend. So, there’s a memory I’d love to cherish.

Best Mom Ever Turns 60

Happiest of happy birthdays to my favorite mom.

Untitled

Today, she turns 60 years wise. Without even trying I could name 60 reasons I love her. Or 60 things she’s taught me. Or tell you 60 wonderful stories about her. But I don’t need to, because at the end of the day, it all comes down to one simple thing.

Untitled

She. Is. The. Very. Best.

 

Keeps on Giving

If you know me personally, you know I’ve been sick. Since Thanksgiving. That’s a long, long, time of being sick. It was dragging my ass through my December teaching, feeling poor for the holidays, not being productive because I haven’t felt right. It’s been tough. I powered through and still did things, including all my holiday celebrations, but I wasn’t my usual sparkling self. People kept saying to me, go to the doctor. But I don’t. I’m not a doctor person. And a cold is viral, there isn’t anything a doctor can do. But it wouldn’t quit, it wouldn’t go away.

2014 ended rough for me, my mom being so sick and having surgery, then me getting sick, then my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and Kelly found out she needed surgery, and Mindy learned her collapsed lung will always be partially collapsed, and suddenly I blinked and went from August to December.

When the new year hit, I was actually relieved. I felt like things would have to start trending upward. And they have, sort of. Kelly had her surgery and while it didn’t go perfect, she is recovering and will be fine. My aunt had surgery to help with her cancer and it went very well. Now we have to hope this is the start of a healing process for her. My mom is scheduled to have her reattachment surgery in February, earlier than expected, so this is great news.

But I’m still sick. My ribs have been sore for a while now from all this coughing. Then Saturday hit and things went sideways. I got a flat tire on my car. I’m blessed that my dad took care of it for me, even though it still cost me $120. Then I coughed so hard my back spasmed and I couldn’t move. But luckily my sister had pain medication to help me get through. We finally saw my nephew Simon for Christmas and got to spend some much needed time with him. Sunday I wasn’t really feeling better. And my house was a disaster. Literally a mess in every room and I still hadn’t taken down my Christmas decor. The tree, yes, but not the decorations. But I was in such pain I couldn’t move. I called in sick to work for Monday and then I was sitting in my chair in my living room and I started crying. I was in pain, feeling poorly, and feeling overwhelmed. Everything just got to me, all at once.

Finally, I took a deep breath (which hurt) and starting talking to myself. Out loud, yes, but sometimes it helps to hear the words. I told myself it was okay, there really weren’t that many problems, and the mess was something I could easily fix once I felt better. I reminded myself that while this was a thing, I’m generally healthy, I have a good job, a good family, wonderful friends, and while we have had our share of problems, we are all still here. (Side note to mention this has been on my mind often because when my mom was sick, I worried she might die and it scared me, and with all the health scares for my loved ones…then Kelly just learned that a close friend of hers, her husband unexpectedly died at the age of 43. I know it can happen so it has been on my mind.) But the people I love are still here.

Monday, after another night of barely sleeping, I called to get a doctor’s appointment. Of course, I couldn’t get in for a week. So I looked up urgent care and they opened at 1:00pm. I got ready and headed over and was there at the stroke of 1. I got right in and had an exam, where I learned I am actually much sicker than I realized. I have a sinus infection and bronchitis. Far more than just a cold. It started as a cold, but developed into these other things at some point. I also have sprained my ribs from coughing. Fortunately, I have not fractured my ribs, so that is a bright spot. I got medication (though it took me 90 minutes at the pharmacy, grrr) and headed home to my messy, messy house to recover. I took my pills on Monday and they knocked me out. Asleep before 9pm. I woke up once during the night, took another dose and slept until 10 am Tuesday morning. Luckily I had already told my boss I wasn’t coming in on Tuesday.

I relaxed and recovered for most of Tuesday. I read a new book. It felt good, I haven’t felt like reading at all since I’ve been sick. I actually forced myself to read a few books in December, but otherwise, no interest. Then, about 7pm last night, I felt like myself. Not completely recovered, but better. So I got up and tackled my house. I put all my Christmas stuff away. I broke down the boxes in the corner that had been taunting me since Christmas. I gave homes to all my new Christmas gifts. I organized a cupboard in my kitchen that needed it. I did my dishes. I handwashed several items that wouldn’t fit. I cleaned my counters off completely. I ran three loads of laundry. I got everything back in order.

When I went to bed last night, I slept, deeply, soundly, and dreamlessly, for the first time in weeks. I finally felt as though I had turned the corner. I was up this morning to my clean house, ready to tackle the day and head back in to work. I hopped out of the shower, dried off, and used the toilet, then headed into the bedroom to dress. Suddenly I heard a sound I shouldn’t have been hearing. Running water. Did I not turn the shower off all the way? I went in to check and….stepped into a mess. My toilet was overflowing. Dirty water running everywhere. My bathroom is bordered by carpet, so I grabbed clean towels from the closet and built dams. I called my dad to find out what to do. He talked me through it and okay. I then called work to tell them I would be late and set about taking care of yet another mess. And it was a mess.

But now it isn’t. I got it fixed and cleaned up and threw in a whole load of dirty towels in the wash before I left for work. I also jumped back in the shower to rinse off and wash my feet. Gross.

When all is said and done, this has been a pretty awful week for me and many people I love. Yet, here I sit, blogging, not to tell you how rotten it was, but to tell you how lucky I feel. Life will always throw messes and challenges at us and we have to learn to deal and try not to get overwhelmed by it. At the end of the day, what matters is the people we love. If you still have everyone you love and they are, healthy (mostly) and happy, then it’s all going to be just fine. And if you don’t, if you lost someone, then it’s heartbreaking and horrible, but you still have all the moments that you shared with them. You still have the memories, good and bad, because for whatever time you had, you got to love them. So I’m happy and blessed with the people I love.

I don’t do resolutions in my life, but I notice a lot of bloggers choose words to help define their year. I don’t do that either, but this year, if I had to, I’d choose love. I’d choose to be happy and blessed with all of the life in my life and let that be my focus for 2015 and every year beyond.

A Year of Movies

One year ago, December 2013, my mom and I went to see “Saving Mr. Banks” the story of Mary Poppins. It was terrific. We were both off of work and were talking about how much we love going to movies together. Then we came up with a plan. What if we go to a movie together every single month of the year. I loved this idea. And so we began.

January: “American Hustle” This was probably the worst movie we saw. It was a big deal when it came out and it was terrible. We both wanted to leave before it was over.

February: “Monuments Men” This was in honor of her birthday, she picked the movie. I wasn’t that in to it, but it wasn’t too bad. She really liked it.

March: “Divergent” I got to pick in honor of my birthday. I had read this book series and really liked it. Mom had never read it, but she enjoyed the movie as well. I thought it was great, a strong retelling of a great book.

April: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” No doubt in my mind we were seeing this. I’d been looking forward to this movie for two years. (For the record I’m already looking forward to the next installment, due out in April of 2016) Of the Marvel movies, Captain America is my favorite character and my favorite movies. This did not disappoint. It was phenomenal. Best movie of the year, IMO. But mom also wanted to see “Draft Day” and I did, too, so we broke the rules and doubled up in April. Draft Day was pretty good, but it’s hard to go wrong with Kevin Costner, especially in a sports movie.

May: “Maleficent” We both wanted to see this and were glad we did. Much better than anticipated. Arionna’s pick for best movie of the year.

June: “The Fault in Our Stars” Another movie we both wanted to see because the movie looked good. I’d been avoiding the book for a while, but decreed we both had to read it before we went. We both did and we both liked the book. In a rare surprise, I thought the movie was better. Terrific movie.

July: “Jersey Boys” I had zero interest in seeing this, but with no better options, I agreed to go, since Mom really wanted to see it. We brought my sister as she seemed excited to see it. It was better than I expected. Quite enjoyable, really.

Then August hit and we were preparing for family vacation. We didn’t get to a movie. We talked about sneaking out on vacation to see something in Brainerd…but then Mom got sick and that pretty much took care of that. Our year ended in July, which was disappointing, because we were both enjoying it so much. It’s nice to do with someone else, because then you see movies you might not have, otherwise. We have decided, even though she is having her next surgery in February, we are going to do this again this year. Well, attempt it again, I suppose. We’ll just have to get our February movie in before the 17th, and hope she’s feeling well enough to go before the end of March.

I’ll be back next December to report how we did, let’s hope we did better than 9 movies in 7 months. Here’s to another year of movies!

About A Dog

I seem to have a lot of stories about dogs, (see here and here and here) considering the fact that I don’t have any pets. Not anymore. I used to have a bird, but that was a long time ago. Her name was Sloopy, but she is a story for another time.

Last night I was driving home. As I turned onto my street, there was a pickup truck pulled over on the side of the road, with his flashers on. It was strange. I have never seen anyone stopped on my street, it’s just not that kind of street, poor visibility, et cetera. I swung wide to pass him and turn into my upper street, and I glanced over as I passed, just to make sure no help was needed. Well, there was a guy, out of the truck, crouching down to pet a dog. Lily. Her I know. She belongs to George, who lives a few houses down from me, and she is the world’s friendliest Yellow Lab. I didn’t see George, but it was dark out and I wasn’t really looking.

I pulled in to my garage, got out, grabbed the packages outside and carried them in the house. I then went back out and walked to the mailbox. As I was grabbing my mail, I heard George yelling for Lily. Immediately, I got a pit in my stomach and I headed in George’s direction. I called out to him to ask if Lily was missing. Sure enough, he couldn’t find her. They came out to do something and she took off chasing something. He called for her but she didn’t come back. He then went inside to put on his warm coat and grab her leash to hunt for her.

In the minute or so that he was inside I came in and saw the truck and Lily. I kid you not, from the time I saw the truck to my conversation with George, was under two minutes. In that time, someone actually picked up his dog. I explained what I saw but I didn’t have much detail. Pickup truck. Dark color. Where he pulled over and that it was a guy and definitely Lily. That’s it. But I may have seen this dog get kidnapped.

It happened to me once, long ago. I had a dog in college. Thunder. A beautiful Husky mix, pure white with blue eyes. Someone stole him right from my parents yard. I know that feeling. It makes you sick. George was visibly upset. I didn’t know what to say, certainly there was nothing I could do. I asked if she had tags and she does. She is also microchipped, which is good. But as George said, if he wanted her, he could just keep her and no one would ever know.

I fell back on all I could offer him. I said “George, it’s the holiday season and it is raining and about to turn cold tonight, perhaps we are dealing with a Good Samaritan who saw a loose dog and picked her up to keep her safe. Maybe he will get home, read her tag, and call”. There was nothing else to say or do. I apologized for not being able to do more and headed for home.

About 20 minutes later, my phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number, but it was local and I just had a feeling. I picked up and it was George. He was calling to tell me I was right. That guy saw Lily running in the road. He pulled over and she was friendly so he picked her up and drove home. At home, he checked her tag and called George. Then he drove her home, safe and sound. He really was trying to be a Good Samaritan even though he kind of made it worse as he picked Lily up right in front of her own house. But, she is safe in her happy home.

George just wanted me to know and thank me for letting him know what I saw. I was glad to know that she was safe and that there are still kind strangers out there in the world. It’s a good reminder any time, but I love it even more this time of year.

And, yes, Mom, this is cranky George from the pool. He must have mellowed since retiring from pool duty. And he seems to love me. He talked my ear off for ten minutes during that call! He also told me he loves my bells-Christmas decor for those who haven’t been to my house this time of year. They are motion activated and musical. He said he heard them one night and wandered around to find the source and loves them so much he makes a point to walk by and set them off each evening on his walk with Lily.

Who knew? There is my holiday tale of Good Samaritanism and Christmas bells. All starring Lily the lab.