Over three years. That is how long we have been searching for a house. A house that my parents, and youngest brother Michael, can call home. I’m not going to say “the perfect house”, for I do not believe in the concept of “perfection”. What I will say, however, is that it feels right. And good. And happy.
From St. Louis to Kansas City. My parents and brother will be moving 252 miles across the state of Missouri – leaving behind a house that has been “home” to my parents for more than 40 years. It is where they raised seven kids; five in ten years, with a ten year break, and then two more; followed by more than a dozen grandchildren. Is this going to be easy; for anyone…? Nope. Change is NEVER easy. But it’s time.
My brother, Michael, just turned 30 this summer. Michael has Down Syndrome. He and I are the “bookends” of the family, and Michael will eventually be my permanent buddy…xoxo Moving to KC now means new roots, new friends and new surroundings while everyone is still young and healthy and happy. My dad will celebrate his 80th birthday later this year in his new house. We are so blessed….
Hold on to me as we go As we roll down this unfamiliar road And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone ‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home
Happy Birthday, America – 239 years old today! The Fourth of July. A celebration of our red, white and blue. Flags flying high and proud. Displays of patriotism around every corner. Amidst the BBQ and fireworks, the tri-color jello molds and the stars and stripes fingernail art – I think we sometimes get too busy, so wrapped up in all of the preparation and planning (myself included) that we forget. We forget to stop… and say “thank you”.
As they say, “there is no land of the free, without home of the brave“. To our men and women , past and present, who have served this great country of ours… we are forever in your debt. Thank you, thank you; a million times… thank you.
That being said, I also 100% LOVE all of the wonderful family and friends traditions that we celebrate this glorious day. So many memories, going all the way back to my grandparents’ boathouse on the river when I was a little girl. Spending the day on the little “beach” with a picnic lunch, catching tadpoles and shooting the rapids. Returning, exhausted, to our tiny little river house to enjoy smokebombs, “snakes” and sparklers, before we crashed, 2-3 people per bed, underneath a bizillion stars, in the middle of nowhere – the chirping of the crickets almost deafening… Flash forward – Another vivid Fourth of July memory – exactly 25 years ago today. Pregnant with twins and confined to bedrest, I was feeling overwhelmingly a little “stir crazy” and decided to “sneak out” and watch the fireworks that night. Ha!! Let me tell you, there is absolutely NO WAY to “sneak” ANYWHERE when you are 36 weeks pregnant with twins. Never-the-less; we did it anyway. I went into labor exactly 10 days later…
I woke up this morning remembering the past 25 years with our kids… like a filmstrip of memories all jumbled up into a big ball of happy. Parades and popsicles, family and friends, petting zoos and jump houses, tattoos and water balloons, pony rides and decorating the bikes, neighborhood pool parties and family BBQ’s… I’m not gonna lie; I have felt a bit melancholy all day. Sigh…
So I chose this beautiful pic and quote (at top) this morning as my inspiration for this year – July 4, 2015. Not a focus on our “rights”, as such… but, rather, our privileges. As Americans, we are so mightily blessed. As a nation we must reject prejudice and embrace honesty. We are called to do the right thing. Just because. As (a very wise woman) Ellen says everyday at the end of her show… “Be kind to one another”.
OK. I’m done. Tri-color jello, anyone…? Happy Fourth, friends xo
My heart was full – to the brim – with good intentions. I was gonna sit down and pay my bills. NOW. No more procrastinating.
Check list. Computer, stack of bills, pen, jacket because I was chilly, let the dogs out on the deck, music on, leftover coffee warmed up, porch windows open, cell phone (texting my kids), new pen (out of ink)… check, check, check
Hmmm. I’m out of my “bill payment sheets”. No problem; just need to run a few copies, so this isn’t an excuse to procrastinate next month. Ya. Right. What is a “bill payment sheet”, you’re wondering…? Well, short story – my organized alter ego coming through. A little Excel thingie I created years ago that I fill in each month with each payee and the amounts, dates, confirmation numbers… I love charts and graphs and columns. You see, in my mind I am a very organized person. Somewhere in the follow ,through, is where it seems to fall apart.
So off I go into the hubbies office where we have our printer. This stupid machine seems to take forever to warm up. I decide to spend my waiting time getting a closer look at our bird families that are currently renting space on our front porch. So off I go in search of binoculars. Surprisingly, this proves to be a rather simple step. For some reason, they are exactly where they are supposed to be. Weird.
What happened next was quite unexpected. Above the right column was our mama dove. She is a regular. Must have about 100 babies by now. Poor exhausted thing. As I focus in on the nest I see little pieces of my front porch planter, woven throughout… You’re welcome, Mama Dove. Just help yourself. “A mamas gotta do what a mamas gotta do.” (Feel free to quote me) As I divert my gaze over to the left and focus in on the second column, I see the other mama bird. But she is not a dove. She is a little sparrow…? I guess. I dunno. She is tiny, and definitely not a dove. I think she is a sparrow. Whatever. Here’s the point of the story.
It was at that very moment that I envisioned world peace.
Here were these two mama birds, living side by side, coexisting peacefully. They were not the least bit concerned that they were different colors, or had different markings. One was 2-3 times the size of the other. No worries. Their voices; their songs – so very different. Not a bother. No judgement. No prejudice. They were simply and respectfully doing what God had asked them to do with their lives. So the “take away”? I dunno. Maybe “Be the bird”. Ya. I know. I hear your thoughts. It’s simplistic and a bit naïve, I admit -But, OH, what a beautiful thought…
The printer is screeching and spurting ugly sounds, catapulting me back to the here and now. The printer is warmed and ready for action. I, reluctantly, set down the binoculars and move forward. I simply must stop procrastinating and pay these stupid bills. But first… I need to take this jacket off because I’m sweating, let the dogs in and close the porch windows because it looks like rain, re-warm my coffee that’s now stone cold – Oh, and lookie – a text from the kids…
More importantly, I like the creativity and intrigue of cooking. I love to peruse cookbooks, the internet, Pinterest… all for recipes that sound, well, a little odd. Kinda like, I’m either gonna LOVE it… or, perhaps, epic fail not-so-much. Yep. I love trying new recipes, new restaurants, new chefs, new combinations of foods… outa the box kinda stuff. Now if you knew my family (of orgin), you would get a chuckle out of this. They are a “meat and potatoes, very basic, no condiments (of ANY kind)” sorta fam. My sister won’t even TOUCH a bottle of mustard. Literally. In our home we have a minimum of at least four or five different varieties of mustard at any given time. Ya. My brothers and sisters look at me as a bit of a freak an odd bird. About a LOT of things, actually… but let’s keep to the subject of food for now.
So yesterday I was thinking about dindin. While researching recipes for my spring newsletter, I stumbled across a recipe for zucchini corn pancakes (click HERE). Yum. The more I thought about them, the more obsessed I got. Let me just say that I was not disappointed. Garnished with a little Peach Salsa (Trader Joe’s), a dollop of sour cream (dairy free for me!) and a little minced cilantro… Boom! It was my lucky day because shrimp has been on sale (Fresh Market) so we had grilled shrimp and springtime oven roasted asparagus (both with a little Olive Tree olive oil) and some fresh blackberries. In a word… DELISH!
So… What’s next? Found a recipe for a family fav Indian dish that is prepared in a CROCK POT?? Served with a little “twist” on the usual basmati rice. Hmmm…
Whatcha been up to? Me? Oh, ya. I HAVE been busy. Like “Super-D-Duper” busy – Thanks for asking. The easiest way to explain my absence is a quick timeline of events (Ya, RIGHT!! Quick! That’s something I’m super good at… hahahaha!) OK. Let’s say more of a never ending long, rambling sequence of unrelated random words… Yep. Good at that.
It all started with New Years resolutions. Cleaning/purging the basement. BIG job. Lots of time to think. Got sick for a week. More time to just think. (Too miserable for anything else). During this contemplative period, began exploring the idea of re-entering the “retail rodeo”. WHAT?? (I know. Crazy. I blame the fever) On a total whim, I decided (on a Monday) to contact two gals that own a cute little boutique about seven minutes from my house re: rental space. By Thursday I had “verbally agreed” to sign on to rent the entire basement space of CHARM, a cute little (1905) house in “Martin City”. We agreed that I would open the basement space on Thursday, March 5. And the crazy began…
First of all, I needed merchandise. You know; something to SELL… Not enough time to go to market, so I started contacting reps, perusing my catalogs, searching online… quite a challenge really. Like REALLY!! Then there are fixtures. Gotta have a way to DISPLAY all of that incredible new merchandise! Mapped out a plan on my “to scale” graph paper, and felt really good about that. I still had my fixtures from Trendz (my previous rental space), and it appeared that they would all work perfectly. Needed new business cards with my CHARM info, and in the process of searching those out, stumbled across a site “Angie makes”. Loved the artwork/design, so randomly decided it was time for a complete overhaul… new logo, new website/blog, new merchandise tags WITH my new logo… along with those new business cards – the very thing that started this whole domino effect. Ya. All great ideas. Because I didn’t have enough to do already.
Everything took longer than anticipated. Of course. Eventually the merchandise started to trickle in. But the tags were delayed, because the “final answer” on my logo was delayed. Then there was a delay on being able to move in because of weather issues. It was, to say the least, very frustrating!! We finally found a “window” just days before my official open. Bad weather was due to arrive the very next day. It was literally a case of “now or never”. My sweet bro-in-law and my devoted hubbie were there for me, once again, ready to help move all of the “big stuff” over. I had three main pieces; all beautiful painted wood shelf units. Big ones. To hold lots of good stuff. The first one was rejected on paper. I realized that the height was ONE stinkin’ INCH too high for that old basement ceiling… at it’s highest point. Ouch! DOWN ONE. Stay positive. I still have two more. The second piece, a real BEAR, made it out of my Creations room to the basement door before it was rejected. The “reality check” was that it would not make the turn at the bottom of those old wooden basement stairs. Panic! DOWN TWO. OK, gotta re-think this. I will figure it out. I still have one more… So we loaded her up on the truck, along with some random tables etc. and off we went. On the outside, I was fine. But inside, I literally felt sick to my stomach. How was I going to display everything with 2 of the 3 major pieces GONE!! Ugh! Luckily, it’s a very short jaunt between my house and CHARM, so not too much time to dwell on the situation at hand. When we got there, we entered and started measuring everything between “point A and point B”. Final answer? There was NO WAY that 3rd shelf unit was gonna make it down those stairs. I’m done. DOWN THREE…
The next morning was crazy. In moving that 2nd shelf unit the previous day (the one I referred to as a “bear”…), my husband had pulled a muscle in his back and I was worried about him! I would not let him lift a finger to help. (He was not very happy with me…) But there was a big snow/ice storm coming our way, and I had boxes and boxes (and boxes) of merchandise to move over before it hit. Alone. So I started packing my car (it was already snowing hard) and began the process of moving everything over. Several trips. Box by box by box… Shoveling the snow every time to make a path to the font porch of CHARM. Not fun. But I did it! Once it was all finally inside and down the basement, I stopped to look around. There was merchandise stacked everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE! None of it was tagged yet because of the delay on my tags. There were empty holes where shelf units were supposed to be. Where was everything going to GO?? For a moment, my eyes filled up with tears at the “overwhelmingness” of it all… and then I sprung into action. Nothing about any of this has gone “as planned”. So what. This is just a “chapter” (my 2015 “word“) in my book of CHARM. I will make it work. I CAN do this.
Just over two hours. That’s how much sleep I got last night. I could blame daylight savings time, or the one cup of (caffeinated) coffee at 10:00 AM yesterday morning… but I think not. I was in full blown “mommy mode” last night. My brain was on total overload, and there was no “shuttin her down“…
My kids are almost 25. Adults. I get it. Kinda…
My daughter left town yesterday for business. Alone. Had to catch a plane, and then another plane, get a rental car and drive two hours to a place where she has never been. A long day for her, an unsettling feeling for mama bear. She came over for dinner one night last week, and we figured out that because of travel conflicts, we will not see her for several WEEKS, even though she only lives about 25 minutes away. Gosh. I miss her already…
My son moved to Dallas last fall and started into a crazy busy phase at work after the first of the year. Long, long, LONG hours… seven days/week. Ugh!! After a quick text back and forth with “Dad” last night (sports talk), he told his dad that he was gonna try to hit the sack… “not feeling the greatest“. The nonstop stress on his body was trying to catch up with him. “Tell Mom I love her…” I’m sad. He needs Mom’s homemade chicken soup…
And then there is my cousin’s daughter’s daughter (pictured above). Eleven years old. In heart surgery RIGHT NOW. My dad’s side of our family has a history of various “heart issues”. I am posting this today for two reasons… One is prayers. Starting right now (PLEASE!), for her successful surgery; and going forward, for her recovery. Secondly, I am attaching her mom’s facebook post from a month or so ago, in hopes that it might make a difference, maybe even save a life. Please feel free to share the following information, as I have not included any names.
“Warning: Longest post ever, please read. I usually never get very personal on here or do I ask for many favors but today I am doing both. We just recently found out that **** has an anomalous right coronary artery. What that means is the her right coronary artery is next to the left one. In order to be there it has to lay between her aorta and pulmonary artery. This is bad because during physical activity as those vessels fill up with blood her coronary artery can become compressed and shut off blood supply to her heart. This is one of the few things that cause sudden death in kids as they are playing sports. Because of this diagnosis we were faced with decision. We could choose not to do surgery but **** would not be able to engage in any physical activity for the rest of her life and probably have to take meds or do open heart surgery and make the opening bigger so the artery doesn’t become pinched. Neither option is good but after a discussion with the cardiologist and ****, we decided on surgery. While her chance of sudden death with the defect is low she is still at increased risk and a life of no physical activity for an 11 year old didn’t really seem feasible. The thought of surgery is scary as well. We are all very worried but thinking about what is going through ****’s head is extremely hard. So here is where the favors come in. Yes, I have several favors. First, we are asking for prayers. Prayers and good thoughts for a successful surgery with a speedy and hopefully easy recovery. We are to expect 1-2 week hospital stay, 3-4 weeks off school and 6 months no activity. Those first few weeks will be rough and could use all the prayers we could get. Second, I recommend having your kids checked. This can be found with an ECHO which is basically an ultrasound of the heart. It doesn’t hurt. ****actually had an ECHO in 2011 and was told all okay but recently found out that the artery wasn’t easily visualized so I would specifically ask to have that checked. Most of those sudden death cases of kids on the football field, basketball court etc…could be prevented. Third, We are trying to come up with ideas to help make ****’s recovery easier. Special things that we could for her. We have a few but not sure if they will work so please message me if you can think of anything. We don’t have the surgery date scheduled yet but hoping for early March so she will be in the clear for the next school year. Besides that we Just want to get it over with as it is consuming all our thoughts. Thanks in advance for the prayers and positive thoughts we appreciate it.”
In the next couple of days, I will post a blog on what I have been up to lately. As for today, just one very simple, but powerful, request. Your prayers…
Yesterday I wrote of “chapters“; my word for 2015. This morning I awakened with a sense of the real impact of such a word. You see, today marks the closing of a very painful chapter for some dear friends of ours. Exactly one year has passed since they lost a beloved husband and dad. Today we remember Dan.
As their friends, we exist only on the outside of their incredible pain. In reality, we are rendered utterly helpless in their grief. What can we do? What can we say? At the very core, the truth is painfully simple really. Nothing. Their hearts have but one wish; and, sadly, we cannot bring him back.
So we simply do what we can. And it all starts with love. First and foremost, We love them… Quietly. Every day. Secondly, we honor their family’s long and painful journey by loving those around us with that very same all encompassing love. Quietly. Every day.
We cry with them… we cry for them. Just this morning I stumbled across this beautiful song that someone had selected for their mom’s funeral. It’s beautiful. And yes. I cried. You will too… Jealous of the Angels (Jenn Bostic)
It’s morning, February 2, 2015… the world still dark and silent. I lit a candle and said a quiet prayer. Tonight, in a community prayer service, we will gather once again; just as we did every single week in the months before Dan’s passing. In those days and weeks we prayed for Dan’s healing. But tonight we will pray, along with Dan in heaven, for his family’s healing.
I finally decided on “my word”. For 2015. My word is “chapters”.
Whew! I mean, here it is, February 1st. Already. That means I existed the entire first month of January, 2015… with no word. What? How? OK. Here’s the deal. I didn’t want to just grab any random word; and call it MY word. I had to ponder. And dwell. And stress. Now I probably shoulda coulda woulda started this process a little earlier, but to be quite honest with y’all (my son moved to Dallas. Gotta do that y’all thingie every once in awhile now…), I DID NOT KNOW we had to have “a word”. Yep. I’m just being really honest here. I just didn’t know. Did you know? Ya. You probably did. My friend Dawn has a word. (Click HERE) And she had a word last year as well. She just kinda “knows” these things tho…
“What’s the greatest chapter in your book? Are there pages where it hurts to look?”
A couple lines from one of my fav Blake Shelton songs… Truth is, I have always looked at my life as a book, and every single chapter in “my book” has made me the very person that I am today. The good, the not so good; accomplishments, defeat; amazing triumphs and overwhelming heartbreaks; over-the-top joy, and excruciating pain. It is all me. It is my book. Those are my chapters.
2015 promises to be a big year for me. As it stands now, I will be writing many new chapters throughout the year. And closing others. Case in point, I started the year off by closing the longest running, absolutely hands-down greatest chapter in my “book of life” thus far… The chapter dedicated to raising my (amazing) kids. You notice I did NOT say the chapter dedicated to “Motherhood”. Oh no, no, no. I know better than that. There is no “one chapter”; no “end” to the privilege of Motherhood. My kids will ALWAYS be my kids, and I will ALWAYS be their mom. Nothing will ever change that. EVER. Yes; there are many levels, and chapters, to Motherhood. But the reality is, I am done “raising” my children. They are both almost 25 years old now. Adults; living and working on their own. But I must be honest in telling you, it hurt like crazy to turn that page. To leave behind that amazing chapter and move on.
“What’s the greatest chapter in your book? Are there pages where it hurts to look…?”
A gal called me two days ago to ask permission to use a picture from this post (the pearls) for a big gala she was planning. Upon re-reading the post, I really had to giggle at the irony of it all. It is humbling to realize that my New Year’s resolutions that I THOUGHT were 2015, are actually just recycled from 2012. So… thought it best to re-post. AND recycle… live happy xo