Twenty Eight

Happy Birthday, Kelly Jo. No suspense here, this one’s for you. I started out with a grand plan to make you a video, I even got up early this morning to do it. I did several takes and finally got it right. Then as I stood up, I dropped the phone and somehow, in the picking it up, I deleted the freshly completed video. Which is how my celebration of your day started out with a giant Fuck You to the universe. Man, oh man, that made me crabby. I didn’t have time to re-record the video because I’d done more than one take to try and get it perfect.

Then I spent the entire day stewing over it, because I was annoyed my plan had failed. I had every intention of heading home tonight and doing it again, except that it is dark when I get home now and the lighting in my house is terrible and I knew it would look better in natural light.

Then it hit me. Kelly likes words. Specifically, she likes it when *I* write words for her (feels like there is more than one meaning to that sentence!) And in days gone by I used to write sonnets to our friendship or post montages of photos glorifying our BFF status and post them to my blog. I don’t use the blog much anymore, at least not for things like that.

But I could.

I did.

I am.

I’ve spent all day thinking of you. I was in a meeting this morning (that I was NOT late for, despite my tech snafu, thank you very much) at the University of MN and the woman was talking about the children’s picture book digital art collection and I thought of you and how you’d be able to use that for your art unit.

I thought about you in the parking ramp when the person in the next spot parked so close to me that I could not fit between our cars and that was the driver side. And I ended up climbing in the passenger seat and over the console and contorting my body to squeeze into my driver’s seat. And even though it pissed me off, as I drove away I thought how funny it was and wished you were there because we’d laugh about that craziness for YEARS to come.

I stopped at Subway and thought of you and how much you enjoy Subway and how much you enjoy eating out, and that time you called me on the phone to tell me that Subway started offering breakfast and it was awesome.

I drove past Peppers & Fries and thought fondly of our lunches there, with and without your children. Then I thought of all the other lunches we’ve had and how much you enjoy going out to lunch. More than anyone I know.

All day today, every little thing I do, my mind has found a way to relate it back to you. Given the two very different lives we lead, this should seem a difficult task. But it isn’t. I can connect almost anything to you. And the reason is that we’ve been friends for twenty-eight years. 28. Our friendship is old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, lose money at a casino, drink alcohol and rent a car.

The Civil War lasted four years. World War I lasted four years. World War II lasted six years. The Korean War lasted three years. The Great Depression lasted ten years.

Our friendship outlasted all of these major events….added together. We have been friends longer than it would have taken to fight in four major wars and survive the greatest economic hardship our country has endured. With a year to spare.

I’ve spoken many times on my blog about you and our friendship. I’ve listed those if you wish to reread my words about you.

25 Birthdays


Lent Letter

Brecken’s Ultrasound

The Wonder (I think this is my all-time favorite Kelly post)

Chicago Trip (Although this is a close contender, still makes me LOL, literally)

The Right Stuff


First Sleepover

One of these posts contains a different list of posts about Kelly (there are a LOT to choose from) and in that one I put four and mention specifically that I stop at four just for Kelly. In this one I stopped at nine. It killed me to do it, but I did. Only nine lovable posts about my BFF. Because she likes lists that don’t conform. It’s me who doesn’t.

But here’s the crux of the thing. I love you, Kelly Jo. I’ve been loving you forever since 1989 and fully plan on that being the case forever. It’s a remarkable thing to know someone that long. Outside of blood relatives, there is no one I’ve known longer, and I know it is the same for you.

When we met, we didn’t have boobs. We didn’t shave our legs, we’d never gotten our first periods. We’d never kissed a boy. Our lives were small and sweet and innocent, as a child’s should be. The size of the world has grown immeasurably since we met, but it is in keeping with our friendship. More succinctly, the older we get, the better friends we become.

I know this is your first birthday since losing your dad and I know how hard that has been, and still is, on you. I think of you every day hoping, praying, that today will be a better day than yesterday. Also, I think of him, his warmth and his laughter and how very, very, very much he loved you. He is responsible for us, he moved you from Woodbury to St. Paul, and if he hadn’t done that, in 1989, you and I would never have met, never become friends, and what an immense loss that would have been. Nearly as awful as losing your dad. I hope that brings you comfort. Of all the things he’s given you, and Heaven knows that is a lot of things, he helped give you my friendship. And I’m still here, always.

Sometimes, Kel, sometimes it is hard to write to you because there is literally nothing I don’t say to you. I love that about us, our openness, even on the rare occasions that we fight, we always communicate our every thought. So many times I’ve set pen to paper (okay, fine, fingers to keyboard, but whatever, pen to paper is more poetic, and alliterative) to talk about you, about friendship and about how incredible it is that we are still forever friends.

Or BFF. As you like to say.

You are never far from my thoughts, and today, well, you are my favorite thought.

Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy birthday.

39 happys. Really. Count them.

Love you always, BFF.


P.S. even though I never specifically mention NKOTB, I do reference them in the post. And because it felt weird to write to you, on your birthday and NOT mention them, I felt compelled to at this postscript to point that out, thus sneaking in a mention of your favorite band. I’m clever like that. Happy Birthday #1 Fan!

Out of Control

Anyone else feel like technology is getting out of control?

I mean, really, who actually NEEDS this much technology?


Yep, I have three iPads. That is my desk, just a few minutes ago, at precisely 2:43 pm. The one on the right, bearing the handsome face of Christian Kane, that is my personal iPad, the iPad 4. The one on the left, with the beach photo is my old work iPad, the iPad 2. The one in the center, with the mountain and stars, is my new work iPad, the iPad Air 2. Our old work iPads were out of date and not as current as the students I am teaching, so we got the newest tech.

The new one arrived today and that is how I found myself with not one, not two, but three iPads on my desk at the same time. All mine. Oh, and I took the photo with my iPhone.

Yeppers, this tech is out of control!

The Chase

I don’t think at this point it is a surprise to anyone that I love Christian Kane. I think it’s been covered quite handily on this blog-seriously, search his name, it’s almost embarrassing, except I love him, so it’s not.

Therefore, imagine my utter happiness to receive this brand new photo of him, as a text messaging gift via my mother at 6:48pm last night.


I know what you’re thinking. My God, he’s hot. Oh, wait, that’s what *I* was thinking. YOU were probably thinking, “why do I care what time her mom text her?”

Well, because, as it turns out, and I am assuming a bit here, my mom was on Facebook a few minutes prior, saw that photo, thought of me, and text me the photo to brighten my Tuesday night. It did, by the way.

Here’s the cool thing. At that exact same time, way across town, Kelly was getting a pedicure. She was playing online and saw a brand new photo of Christian Kane and, naturally, thought of me. She text me that photo.

Which is how, literally, within seconds of each other, they both text me a photo of Christian Kane. Here is THE VERY BEST PART.



They aren’t the same photo!!!!!!!!

True story. At 6:48 pm last night I received two text messages. Both contained photos of Christian Kane, but they weren’t the same photo. They are obviously from the same photo shoot (I assume a promo for his new show, The Librarians,) but two different, equally awesome pics of my main man, Christian Kane.

How is this possible? I have no idea. I couldn’t believe it when they came in during the same minute. It makes it easy to love technology when things like that happen. Oh, and for the record, I do NOT hate text messaging when it contains photos of Christian Kane. Those are always welcome. Day or night. Even the same minute.

And that is the story of how my mother and Kelly were racing to be the first to send me a picture of my favorite singer….and tied. And I won. Thanks to you both! I lovelovelove them.

P.S. And while it was a fun little coincidence, this is mostly just an excuse to post pictures of Christian Kane and endlessly type Christian Kane. Remember in junior high when you had a crush on a boy and you’d write his name all over your notebook? This is kind of like that, only in the modern technology world. Christian Kane. Christian Kane. Christian Kane. See?

P.P.S Also, the title of this post, The Chase, is also a song title by, you guessed it…Christian Kane.

Autumn’s Bounty

This weekend I worked my second job, and did an art program for kids. It was only okay, this program, but the part I loved was where we took digital cameras outside and photographed the colors of fall. The point was to get close up and capture texture, but I just sort of went camera-happy and clicked away. At one point, I bumped a button on my camera and it changed some setting and starting taking all these arty photos, I tried to fix it, ended up taking more, and eventually just shut the whole thing off and turned it back on, that worked. I need to figure out all this camera does….eventually. But, as it turned out, I liked several of the arty pictures.

So, enjoy, this is nothing but photos of the gorgeous colors of fall.











Now here’s where the weird arty pictures started occurring. At first I didn’t notice….

But then I did….




I mean, they are cool pictures, but they do not look that way in real life, so I fixed it and then, here is that last picture without the weird editing.







And this photo was taken after work as I drove down my parent’s street, on my way to visit.


It was a really fun way to kill a Saturday afternoon (and get paid!) and aside from the arty ones, none of these photos are edited in any way, they are all just that gorgeous. Usually when I take pictures, I try to take in the whole scene, but learning to get close up and see things by texture, that was a cool new experience.

Want to talk about texture? You can practically feel it in this final picture, my favorite of the day.


Drop by the comments and tell me which was your favorite. Happy fall!

Family Vacation 2014

This is going to be the non-medical version of the story. We had been looking forward to this trip since February of 2013. We didn’t end up having the expected trip, and it was cut short, but the time we did have? It was terrific.

We rented a cabin on Lake Shamineau, at Auger’s Resort, outside of Motley, MN, about a half an hour from Brainerd. Fun fact, Mindy is from Motley and was up there the first weekend we arrived. She and the boys came over to visit us. Her mom actually lives about a mile from where we were staying.

This was day one, pulling into Motley to eat before heading to the resort.

This is the view of the lake from our back door. The day we arrived it was so windy and the lake was extremely choppy. Whitecaps, baby.

This is the cabin. It was really nice. My room was the mirroring window hidden behind the tree.

The view from that window, behind that tree.

Our first day, we unpacked and then made lists of stuff to shop for. In order to avoid grocery shopping on vacation, I volunteered to babysit the kids while mom and Em went food shopping and the boys went beer shopping.

I walked the kids out the front door to the convenient playground. Arionna is playing on everything humanly possible, while little Camden just wanted to swing.
Because he loves it. Duh.

Then we changed and went for a swim. The lake was cold, no doubt, but once you adjusted, it was pretty nice. It was weedier than I like, but still fun. The big red slide was awesome, very fun for kids and adults. The floating toys were pretty great, too. Arionna was scared of the idea of swimming in the lake, but it took almost no time at all to get her involved. She liked when we relaxed and let the waves toss us around.

On day 2, we decided to rent a pontoon and spend the day on the lake. Brace yourself for a flurry of boat pics.

We hadn’t even left yet….

Again, we haven’t left yet, but she’s at least excited.

Morning sunshine on the lake.

He definitely likes it better when driving.

Ooops, guess it’s the waves, or the fresh air, or….nap time on the boat.

Relaxing in the back of the boat.

Me and my best girl.

She LOVED being in a moving vehicle and not being in a carseat and being able to walk around.

Lots of loons on our lake.

She loved driving, but only wanted to do it with Grandma.

Here she caught the wind and stood there, moving her head from side to side letting the wind catch her hair and laughing the whole time.

Me and my guy.

She wanted to swim off the boat, not off the beach, so I had to jump in, in the middle of the lake. And MY GOD IT WAS COLD.

Driving the boat was clearly a highlight. And we’re anchored here but he doesn’t care at all.

I love that picture!

Oh, and that one.

Boat day was fun, we all enjoyed it and it was so beautiful and relaxing and just exactly what vacation means.

At night, we kept having bonfires and drinking and talking, once the kids went to bed. And of course, when it wasn’t raining.

On day 3, we drove into Brainerd to go to the Paul Bunyan Museum. We did this when we were kids, but apparently they’ve changed it since then. This? So not worth it. It is super expensive and there’s hardly anything to do there. But I did get a nice shot of my family with Paul.


I’m not in it, but oh well.

I got Arionna under Babe the Blue Ox, but not Cam.

There was an old fashioned jail, so that was cute.

There was also a train, which delighted Cam. It also delighted me to get a shot of the family on a kiddie train.

After PBLand was dinner at Hessie’s which was pretty much a highlight for each of us. We actually talked about coming back the next night which was to be Chad’s birthday dinner, once my brother Nick arrived. So that was the plan. Zack actually got a token or two for free drinks, and meals were buy one get one the next night, so the stars had aligned and we had a plan.

That night, we were hanging out and the sky just lit up so beautifully. At first it was just this gorgeous wall of clouds.


It’s prettier with her in there.

Because that’s the deal…

And then….
The colors started to change and it was just gorgeous.


A perfect summer night on vacation.

The next day was when this happened.

So we spent some time at the hospital in Little Falls, then ate dinner in downtown LF, which ended up being Chad’s bday dinner, instead of our amazing Hessie’s night.

The next day, Em and Chad took Arionna canoeing, because that was part of the deal.

She was super excited.

They are just about to take off, though it looks like Chad is decapitating her with that paddle.

Out on the lake….

Same photo, with zoom.

Just to prove that Uncle Nick was there, even though he was only there for one day.

The final sunset, on our final night. Mom was being transported home via ambulance, to United hospital and we packed up a cabin of 9 people in one hour. Oh yes. It was rockstar packing.


One final moment, before we headed out at 9pm, ending vacation after only four days. But you know what? It’s not the length of time that matters, the time we were there was beautiful. It will always be a memorable vacation for the obvious reason, but I hope that we’ll also always remember the other moments as well. Including hours of endless Head’s Up around the fire.

Considering we have another surgery in 2015, I doubt we’ll be doing another week on a lake, but hopefully, in 2016, we’ll get another shot at a family vacation. I don’t think we’ll go back to Auger’s (though we really did like it, it just feels a little cursed is all…) but that gives us just about a year and a half to plan our next trip.

Mom? You’re just sitting at home….get looking!

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Do kids still write those in school? As a teacher, it seems like I should know that. So I am going to offer my report of my summer vacation. Warning, this is going to be incredibly long. Scary long, possibly.

My last post was August 20, 2014, nearly one month ago (Edited to add, I’ve since remembered and posted my August Books, so that is no longer true, but when I started *this* post, it was true. Edited again to add, by the time I got permission to post this and got the whole thing written, it’s been a month and I’ve posted several times. But imagine it’s about 6 weeks ago while you read this.). Right after that post, I went to the State Fair with my family and then the next morning we left for the lake, for a long overdue family vacation. We had been planning a week at the lake since about February of 2013.

We arrived on Saturday and spent a couple days just swimming (in a cold lake in cool August weather) and boating and relaxing. It was all beautiful and serene and just what we all needed. Then Tuesday hit and things went all to hell.

About noon on Tuesday, August, 26, my mom went inside to lie down because she suddenly wasn’t feeling well. A few minutes later, she went to the bathroom and broke out in a cold sweat and the shakes. She got a sudden pain in her abdomen and called for my dad. He got her in bed and was tending to her. Everyone knew mom was sick, but we didn’t know the extent. Eventually, my dad came down the stairs and said to me, “your mom needs to go the hospital and she can’t go by car, figure out what to do.” I ended up calling 911. The call was answered in Brainerd (which is Crow Wing County), then I was transferred to Morrisson County. They said they would send an ambulance but a first responder would be on its way. I asked how long and he sidestepped the question. Should’ve been a clue. They also asked us to have someone waiting out front because we were at a resort. So, yes, I stood outside this whole time, just waiting on help for my mom.

About 15-20 minutes after the call, the first responder arrived. Evidently these people do this as a supporting job, because they all came from something else. A total of three first responders arrived, all before the ambulance got there, just over 45 minutes after the call went out.

My mom was taken by ambulance to St. Gabriel’s hospital in Little Falls, MN, about 45 minutes away from the resort. We waited a bit and then got in the car to head to the hospital and find out what was happening. We were all pretty scared, my mom is not a medical panicker. She is very calm about all things health related, so for her to ask for an ambulance, it meant something was really wrong.

(The moment they put her in the ambulance, one of the scariest moments of my life).

We arrived at the hospital and she was in the ER. Only one of us could see her at a time, so I went in first. I was told that they were assuming appendicitis, and were about to send her in for a CT scan to confirm. We had the kids with us, so we left the hospital and went into town to get dinner. This was Chad’s birthday dinner. Happy 30th, Chaddo. Eventually, my dad called and informed us that it was NOT appendicitis, and they were having a surgeon come to read her scan.

She was diagnosed with diverticulitis. It is, simply, an infection in her colon. She spent the night at St. Gabriel’s and was admitted and moved to a room. We went to see her the next day and spoke with her doctor about moving her. Because we aren’t from that area and we only had two more days at the resort, we wanted her moved home. They said they would arrange for ambulance transport to the hospital of our choosing. I chose United and they had to call and arrange a bed for her and a doctor to accept her. They told us, Wednesday afternoon, that she would end up leaving sometime Thursday afternoon.

She was in a great deal of pain and on a lot of medication at that point, so we all left her there to sleep and went back to the cabin. About an hour later, pretty soon after we got back, the nurse called and told us her transport was accepted and she was leaving that night. They called us at 7pm and she left Little Falls at 9pm. We had just sat down to dinner, so we finished eating and discussed options. It was decided that we would pack up the cabin that night and just drive home at night, rather than waiting for morning. We packed up that cabin in about an hour, it was actually kind of miraculous. We were on the road at 9pm, so about 45 minutes behind her.

We went to United that night to see her get settled. She saw a surgeon the next day and it was decided that she would have laparoscopic surgery on her abdomen to see how extensive the infection was. The hope was that they could do a wash out, to clean out the infection, and avoid a colostomy. Her surgery was scheduled on Friday, August 29. Her doctor said things looked good enough that they ended up only doing the washout, instead of the full colostomy. One of the things they were monitoring was her white blood cell count, which shows infection. A healthy human should be between 4 and 10, her counts were in the high teens at this point. In Little Falls, she was in the low 20s.

They spent several days having her get up and walk, move about, while testing her blood, and pumping her full of antibiotics. She was on an NPO diet, which means nothing by mouth. So, ice chips only. For days, she didn’t have anything to eat. Only ice chips. About Tuesday, a full 8 days of being in the hospital, she started to feel hungry. Her surgeon moved her to a clear liquid diet (chicken broth and jello, basically).

She finally got to go home on Saturday, September 6, after 12 days in the hospital. It’s very rare these days to spend more than a couple days in the hospital, 12 is almost unheard of. Her WBC was 15 when she got to go home, still too high. She had to go to her doctor to get her bloodwork done, but it looked like we had dodged a bullet.

Then we found out, from her doctor, that her WBC was high again, up to 22. That same day, Wednesday, she was not feeling well. Finally, my dad called her doctor at United and they said to bring her in, so back to the ER she went. She had another WBC check that night, and her number was 25, the highest it had ever been. It was supposed to be going DOWN this whole time, but it kept going up, and up a lot. Regardless of the gallons of antibiotics pumping through her system, she was not fighting the infection. They readmitted her that night, Wednesday 9/10, after a measly three days at home.

By Thursday, her WBC was up to 29, and that was it. Her surgeon said they had to go in and fix this thing. She was scheduled for a colostomy later that day. Their initial plan was to enter in laparascopically and see what they could see and try to fix what they could without opening her up, but as soon as they got her in the OR, her surgeon said she knew they had to go in. They did an eight inch incision in the abdomen and removed about one foot of her colon. Apparently her colon was horribly infected, it looked bad even to the surgeon. She was given a colostomy bag, a drainage tube, and because of the infection, they did not close the incision, because it would have become infected (100% chance, said the doctor…and doctors rarely deal in certainty). So she now has three holes in her stomach.

For those who don’t know, a colostomy bag is a drainage bag that is attached to the end of her colon. Her colon is now not connected inside her body, instead one end now comes out through her abdomen, the healthy end, giving the infected end a break, allowing it to heal. Which means that bowel movements now come out through her abdomen and are deposited into the colostomy bag. Got that? Yep, it’s gross, but it is also saving her life, so we deal. She will wear the bag for about six months. We are hoping she will heal faster…but they are estimating six months. At that point, she will have a colonoscopy, to make sure all is healed up, then they will do ANOTHER surgery to reconnect the ends of her colon, allowing her to lose the bag and hopefully be healthy and live a normal life thereafter.

This, the colostomy, is the worst case scenario, and we knew that from the beginning, but as it turned out, this was what was needed to get her back to healthy.

Of course, she is still in the hospital. She needs to heal more, and her WBC needs to be down to reasonable levels before they will let her go home. After home, she will have a home health nurse come out three times a week because she will still have to learn to deal with the colostomy bag, how to change it and care for the ostomy (the colon sticking out of her body), as well as dealing with the 8″ open incision on her stomach. Which requires a VAC pump to help it drain, which needs regular cleaning and disinfecting.

Plus, she needs to get stronger and begin eating more. She’s barely had any food in the last month (almost a month). Here’s to hoping that she’ll go home soon, as of right now, she’s been in the hospital 21 days. I thought 12 was outrageous!

So many people have been kind enough to stop down and visit, send gifts, and, most importantly, send their thoughts and prayers. It’s been wonderful to see the outpouring of love. Turns out, people really like my mom. (Just kidding, I knew that, who is more awesome than her?)

For those who wonder what they can do…nothing. Though I genuinely appreciate the offer. As, I’m sure, does she. The outpouring of love and support we received was generous and wonderful and, as a family, we are all grateful.

And that is that. A super long post about what I did on my summer vacation.

***Edit*** I didn’t have a chance to post this after I finished writing it, so I can give that final update now. Mom has been home for about a month, after a whopping 24 days (in total) in the hospital. She has a nurse that comes to help her out at home, but she’s recovering really nicely. She finally got her VAC taken off and now just keeps her incision clean and changes her colostomy bag. Her energy is surprisingly good for someone only a month post surgery. She still gets tired easily but other than that, she’s really doing great. She has some restrictions on her diet, but they aren’t too terrible and her appetite is back, so she’s able to eat regularly, go on short walks, and generally just keep in improving. My dad even finally went back to work after 7 weeks at home/hospital with mom, so I definitely take that as a sign of improvement.

And what did we learn from all this?

Well, now every member of the family can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the large intestine.



Love you so much mom, and so glad you’re doing better and are practically back to your old self!


The Book Slump

I probably would never have though of calling it this, even though it is a phenomenon I know well. If you’re any kind of regular reader, you’ve lived through this.

You all know me, I love to read. LOVE to read. I read more than pretty much anyone you know (I’m assuming a bit there) but there are simply times when I do not read. There are many reasons for it, life, busy, movie, television, no good books, tired, you name it. However, sometimes there is no reason at all. For no fathomable reason, I will just stop reading and have no desire to do so. It’s that last part that scares me some. I LOVE reading.

With everything happening with my mom, August/September, typically prime reading months for me, have been remarkably low. The thing is, I’ve carved out time, but I haven’t wanted to read. It was just one more thing and I was not remotely in the mood.

Then, about a week ago, I was looking for something online and read an article called, “The Reasons I Don’t Read: Causes of the Dreaded Book Slump” and I was blown away. Before I got to the end of the article I started to wonder if I’d been sleep posting again, because I thought I actually wrote this. It was like this author reached inside my head and wrote down what I’d been thinking without ever realizing I’d been thinking about it. (Seriously, read the article, it’s not long, and it sounds like I wrote it. But I didn’t. Turns out, a GUY wrote it. Go figure that one.)

My favorite line, very apropos for life lately, is this, “Life, on the whole, is infinitely preferable to the alternative…but despite that, I swear life spends fully half its time wearing big boots, trying to kick you squarely in the side of the head.” Amen.

I have lived, felt and dealt with every single one of these at various times. Sometimes all in the same month. Reading isn’t a science. It’s an art. And with most art, it is creative and beautiful and vexing and tempermental and refreshing and unique; and sometimes I don’t understand it at all. That’s how reading is to me. To readers. I love it wholly, but I don’t always like it and I don’t always understand it, and sometimes I want no part of it. But most of the time, I just want to immerse myself in it and never surface again.

That’s how I am as a reader. And I am a reader. There’s no doubt about that.

I’ve even got the photographic evidence to prove it.


Yes, I am a reader, but I don’t always want to read, and that surprises people, including me. But there can be just as many reasons to start again as there are to stop. For instance, in the 90s and early 2000s, I was an historical romance reader. I basically read every historical romance written during this period. After a while, I grew bored with the genre. For the past…..10 years?….I haven’t read hardly any books in that genre. On occasion, an author I adore (I’m looking at you Julia Quinn) will publish a book and I will read it even if it is historical romance. But I haven’t actively sought out books in this genre in a decade or more. Then, last weekend, I watched the movie Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, from 1996. I saw this movie in the theater with Elena, when we were in high school. We loved it because it was like the books we loved come to life. And last weekend, after I watched it, I was suddenly in the mood to read historical romance again.

Out of the blue. After more than a decade.

So I did. I’ve actually read several of them over the past week, remembered why I liked them, and why I stopped reading them all at once. But it broke my slump. Watching a movie broke my reading slump…there may be some irony creeping in there.

And why am I telling you this? Because sometimes I have these thoughts and I don’t know what to do with them. So I blog. You may not care, but I promise you, a year or more from now, I’ll want to remember I felt this way, I’ll want to reread that article, I’ll find this fascinating. I will find myself agreeing, all over again, with what I’ve written here.

Book slumps happen, even to the best of us. It may be it’s just part of the process, part of what I go through, as a reader. A lover of books and stories and words and language.

Ramsey County Fair

My entire family went to the Ramsey County Fair this year. All of us. Every single one. Including both of my brothers. It was so strange. I really cannot remember the last time we all went out and did something together.

We went on a Thursday night, my first full day of not working at Globe.

This has been so long ago now (July 22 I started typing this, about 10 days after it happened…it is now September 25, over two months later) that I am not sure I can remember everything. So I am just going to post the photos and caption what I can.

My three favorite children.

In this one, the uncles took the kiddos down the slide. Nick holding Cam, Zack holding Arionna (they were too short to go by themselves) and then Simon went alone. But he was scared at the last second, so Uncle Zack is holding his hand as they slide down.

Arionna and I on the Tilt-A-Whirl, ready to get spinning.

Simon and I on the same ride….we wouldn’t all fit in the photo, so we did it in increments.

This little boy won this green dog all by himself and was so proud. And a ticket for rides was covering part of my camera lens.

Playing a game we know Cam can win.

Cam won the hammer at the fishing pond.

Just because.

IN this one…I wanted to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl, because I love it. My favorite ride. So I asked Simon and Arionna but they wouldn’t go on it. So I shrugged and grabbed Cam to go do the ride. As soon as they saw us lining up, they were all in. So I took all three kids. Unfortunately, I forgot how much force Tilt-A-Whirls exert. By the time the ride was over, Cam was bawling. Ooops. Not for 18 months olds. But the bigger two liked it, so we went again.

I also took all three on the carousel. I still love carousels as well. I never grew out of them.

And thus endeth the brief tale of how my entire family went to the RC fair. It was fun, and a beautiful summer night. Ranks as one of the good memories of the summer of 2014.

Better Than Four

What in the world could possibly be better than four? I was on Flickr today, searching for a photo. I couldn’t find it, so I went to my sister’s account. I still didn’t find it, but I will. However, I did come across this recent photo of my darling niece, who is four years old. 

When I saw it I literally laughed out loud. 


I repeat, what could possibly be better than four. 

Alone With Him

This year, for her birthday, Lane found out that a country band she likes, The Cadillac Three (TC3), were opening for singer Jake Owen, ON her actual birthday. The catch was, they were performing in Green Bay, WI. She asked me, her sister (Nancy) and Nancy’s husband, Ryan, to road trip with her.

*I* was super excited. I am a Jake Owen fan. Elena didn’t know much about him and Nance and Ryan don’t even like country music. An odd group, but still, it was to celebrate the birthday of one of our favorite people. We drove to GB the day of the show, checked into the hotel, and then headed out to the show.

It was at the Resch Center, the big arena next door to Lambeau Field. Our seats were pretty far away, but directly facing the stage. Imagine, for the locals, being in the Xcel Center, and the stage is at one end of the arena, and you are at the other, then up two levels. This is important, because I got a new camera for Christmas and this was my first chance to test out the amazing zoom.

We walked in and TC3 was coming on the stage. On my phone it was 6:57, the show was set to start at 7. Apparently these guys are crazy prompt. They were a rocking good time, super entertaining. I was not a fan when we went in, but now? I love them. High energy, fun, great sound. It was so loud it almost hurt to listen to, but even so, they were terrific.

There they are. Notice how it seems like we’re pretty close? We aren’t. Amazing zoom this camera has.

Then there was a second opener, Parmalee. I do not like them. During their set, we wandered around the Resch center for food and beer. Ryan took a photo of me and Lane, since it was her actual birthday and all…



I love that picture!

Finally, after what seemed like a really long time, Jake Owen hit the stage.

He popped up right in front of us. That’s without the crazy zoom. And blurry because I was excited to see him right there. And surprised.

Then he walked through the crowd up to the stage.

I know, it seems like we are super close, but we weren’t. And yes, he is barefoot. Was the whole concert.


I mean, seriously? When I got home I told my mom, (who gave me the camera) “I LOVE my new camera!” Because I never would have gotten these amazing shots otherwise.

I have a bunch of video, too, but I am not posting those because it’s a pain and really, no one really cares but me. But if you’re curious, ask me in person and I’ll show you.


About the show….this guy was AMAZING. Honestly, I liked his music. But I probably wouldn’t have set out to see him in concert if this opportunity hadn’t come up. Now? I am a HUGE Jake Owen fan. He is an incredible live performer. One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen in my life. By my count, this was around the 40th concert I’ve ever seen, and very possibly the best one. This guy is magnetic, he drew in the crowd and every person in there was having fun. He would allow nothing less. He was interacting with the crowd (he kept reaching down and stealing people’s phones and taking selfies and giving the phones back, it was so cool) and had such high energy.

Then at one point, the music started and he wasn’t on stage….where could he be?
Oh, there he is. On our level, IN THE AUDIENCE, in a random section. Just showed up next to fans and stood there, singing the whole song. The whole time he was twisting around so everyone nearby got a chance to be in a photo with him. It was amazing.

Then when the song was over, he walked through the crowd back to the stage. On his way, he saw a mom with her two little girls. They were small…maybe 6 and 8? He grabbed the girls by the hands and invited them up on stage. The mom got to go, too. But he had the girls go around the stage and play instruments with his band. He gave them drumsticks, then, he brought them center stage and knelt down next to them, and sang to them. Then he gave the older one his mic and let her sing part of the song. I was melting. It was so cute. Mom was on the edge of the stage taking pictures the whole time. Then when the song ended, he walked them back to mom and knelt down between them, with his arm around each of them, and let mom take a picture of him with the girls. It was so cute and he was singing the whole time, so the concert didn’t drag, it was just what he was doing during that song.

He was truly incredible. I want to go see him again, that’s how good he was. When the show was over, I said to Nancy and Ryan (who are NOT country fans) “what did you think?” Ryan said, “it was awesome, I think I’m his fan now”. Nancy said she loved it, too. Neither one had high expectations, but both were blown away. Elena thought it was incredible. And it was. I cannot say enough good things about this show.

And I will end with one more thing. Jake Owen has the whitest teeth of possibly any human being on earth. They were blindingly white, and since he’s got a huge and infectious smile, we saw those pearly whites often. I kept saying that night “man his teeth were so white” and I don’t want to forget, so I am including it here.

Now the very last thing….
This is my favorite photo of the night.
P7240427Next up is a post of the rest of our trip to GB, but this is the concert recap.