Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Chipmunks, a 2 Mile High Hailstorm, and a Miracle (Vacation 2015 Part 1)

Wow! Summer, she’s a-flyin. At first, time seemed to be slowed down. But as per usual, 4th of July rolls around and it hits hyper speed on the downhill to kids birthdays and back to school.

This year, our downhill turn to hyperspeed took a detour. A family reunion/50th anniversary celebration in Estes Park, Colorado. All I can tell you is if you have never been to Colorado, you are missing out. Big time. At least the mountainous parts. Eastern Colorado is pretty flat, mostly because it runs straight into Kansas, which is where the idea for pancakes came from. But the mountains, that is amazing.

We left our steaming home town heading north and west for a 10 hour drive to the city of Castle Rock, just south of Denver to spend the night with college friends. They were worried about how ‘hot’ it was there. After I stopped laughing, I reminded them of where we came from, and no, it most definitely is not even close to ‘hot’. Warm for them, but not hot.

If you’ve been hanging out with me for any length of time, you will remember our vacation disasters. Every. Single. Time. We either get trauma, drama or a puking kid. Without fail. It has gotten to the point that I really, truly question my sanity when we plan a trip. This, however, was not just a vacation, it was a special occasion, so I didn’t have the luxury of questioning anything. We’d initially planned to take my car, a Subaru Outback, with a car top carrier to put our luggage in. The problem, was that my car didn’t have the proper rails to secure the carrier to. No big deal, except we didn’t discover this until about 7:30 the night before we were leaving. I was pretty sure this was signaling the beginning of another trauma/drama filled trip.

Load up, hit the road Saturday. It was a great day for a drive and we made good time. The last 40 miles before our friends house was through a very remote area and incredibly beautiful, rolling hills and farms. My kids wanted to camp there and I just thought about how many stars we’d be able to see at night. A lovely dinner on the deck looking at the foothills and a beautiful sunset ended our first day.

Ok, I”m thinking. So far so good. But I’m not dumb enough to say anything out loud and jinx it. Neighbors that night decide to use their fire pit and have a party. Til after midnight. With open windows. Close windows=much better. An hour later, my girly is in our room ‘Mom. I think I’m going to be sick.”  Here we go, I thought. She’d just gotten over heated in a stuffy room. She was fine, thankfully.

Arrive at Estes Park Sunday afternoon and the home away from home in time to greet family and nose around the houses. Mom and sister in law and I make a list and hit the grocery store. You know, I never really thought of a grocery store trip as an adventure or anything requiring protective gear. But this is Estes Park. They apparently only have one in the entire town. The town that swells to 3 to 4 times it’s population in the summer. It felt like I was at WalMart on Black Friday. Or the local grocery following a blizzard warning. Between trying to maneuver the cart and the empty shelves, it was chaos. I don’t envy the people who have to recover and restock the store overnight. The cashiers really should get hazard pay. Here’s a tip, if you’re a grocery store owner, put one in Estes Park, you’ll make a killing!

Here’s the first half of our trip:

Sunday: A short trip from Denver to Estes Park. Which was nice, since the drive on Saturday was about 10 hours. See above adventure in local Safeway.

Sunset over the Rockies our first night

Monday: Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove up to the Alpine Visitors Center. On the way, we saw wildlife, got rained on, hailed on and snowed on! In the photo below, you can see the rain moving through. Those clouds dropped a single bolt of lightning and the PING of a lone hailstone that sent us all scrambling for our cars. A few minutes later and further up the mountain, a hailstorm at 11K feet was incredible and frightening all at once!

Rain moving through the valley, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rain moving through the valley, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Above the treeline, Rocky Mountain National Park

Above the treeline, Rocky Mountain National Park

Mountain stream, RMNP

Mountain stream, RMNP

Tuesday: Rafting the Cache La Poudre river. It was very fun and yes, the water was ridiculously COLD! The bus ride up and back was an adventure in itself!

Cache La Pudre River. Water was in the 30's!

Cache La Pudre River. Water was in the 30’s!

Wednesday: We attempted shopping downtown. With 19 ppl, it’s more like herding cats! In the evening we had surprise anniversary party for Mom and Dad in law, it was their 50th we were celebrating. I don’t have any pics of the gang shopping, so I’ll share a few of the flowers and scenery.

These babies were everywhere!

These babies were everywhere!

A random bathtub. Why not?

A random bathtub. Why not?

Yes, this is near the home as well!

Yes, this is near the home as well!

Beauty around the home.

Beauty around the home.

Stay tuned for Part 2! More to come!

Visit Estes Park

Rocky Mountain National Park


It’s a God Thing

Not to get all religious on you or anything, but you know, some times things happen in your life to make you understand there’s a higher power at work that you may not realize. I’m not in your face about my faith, it’s very personal to me. If you ask me questions, I’ll be happy to share my beliefs with you, but I’m not going to push anything on anyone. I just don’t go for that. I’m of the school of thought that there are three general things in life that I don’t discuss: politics, finances and religion. It seems to avoid a lot of disagreements and overall bad feelings.

I’d been working as a sales manager part-time since last fall. It was a fun job, I liked the people I worked with, but there wasn’t a ton of money to be made. But let me back up for just a tic.

I was a newly licensed health care professional when my first child was born. I went back to work. It’s what you do, right? Then a few years later, my next child came along. We were all thrilled with the addition to our family. However, when the baby got a little older, I realized I needed to be with my children. I mean, who better to take care of my precious babies than me, right? No $7/hr day care worker would or could give them the time & attention they need. So I closed my business and became a stay at home parent. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and have regret over something I could have done, but didn’t. In case you haven’t guessed by now, it was the second best decision I ever made. The first, marrying my husband.

Yes, it is difficult. I will not sugar coat it. It was a decision made with much love and consideration. And one that I continued because of my sense of duty to my children. Please don’t misunderstand my words. That decision is personal and what I did wouldn’t work for everyone. My best friend never understood how I was able to be at home all day with my kids. Many parents would love to be able financially to be stay at home parents. And I think there are equally as many thinking “No way could I do that. I’d go nuts!” Again, something very personal.

Fast forward to today. I have been praying for a long time for God to lead me in the direction I should go. Where I needed to be. I was unsure about going back into healthcare because of the amount of time & expense required to get relicensed and established. My children still need assistance with homework. And if I’m being honest, refereeing at times. Soon enough they’ll be in college and won’t need any assistance, but while they do still need me, if possible, I want to be here for them.

Last year, one of my cousins went through an ugly divorce. She is a school teacher and grew up here in my hometown. I hadn’t asked her (I didn’t want to be one of those nosy family members) but I thought maybe she might be considering a move back here, closer to her mother & sister (she’s currently several hours away). I went on the website for one of our local private high schools to see if there happened to be a teaching position open that she would be qualified for. We have several private high schools here, but this is the one we’ve been planning to send our children to all along.

In fact, I’ve looked at their websites many times, in search of a position that I would be qualified for, since I’m not a certified teacher. Certifiable, maybe, but not a teacher.

This particular time, when I went on their site, I found a receptionist position. It was like I heard angels singing. Truly! I was floored to find it and just elated at the possibility of not only working where my children will one day go to school, but also at the opportunity to earn more money for our family.

I sent in my resume, and waited. I followed up. No dice. They’re offering it to someone else. Well, ok. I was disappointed, to be sure. But I also tried to remember that if this was the case, then it simply was not meant to be.

But then….I got a voice mail. From the principal, asking me if I was still interested and would I be available for an interview. I was so excited, I could hardly breathe and I was running in circles in my house! literally! I called my husband and thought I might pee everywhere like one of the little yippy dogs that tinkle when they get wound up!

I went in for the interview & felt good about it, but as the days ticked by, I resigned myself that once again, it just was not meant to be.

I am one who really tries to see those kinds of signs and accept them for what they are. If a house I was interested in, sold before I was ready to buy, I might be disappointed, but I would also realize it wasn’t meant to be and I would find the right house when the time came.

When I received the phone call with the job offer, I was beyond ecstatic. It was the answer to so many prayers. Not only to be in the same place my children will be, but to have the same days off they do, to be off early enough in the day to be at home & available to assist with homework. And to be in a place, an institution that believes in not only educating the children, but to help them become the best people they can be, and focusing on them as individuals, not simply test scores.

I have felt so much love and joy since I have been there. Before the beginning of school, we had orientation for the new school year, each grade had their own specific time. I would be lying if I didn’t say seeing them gave me warm fuzzies. The boys were hugging each other. Seeing their friends after a summer apart, just to see their genuine affection and camaraderie was just wonderful. When I say hugging, I don’t mean the one arm guy hug, but real hugs, like you’d give a long lost friend or family member that you were truly happy to see.

I know without a doubt this is where I’m supposed to be. I was led here for a reason. Is it anything beyond my family and children? Who knows. But right now I know I have found where I belong. Yes, the early mornings are kicking my butt. Yes, there’s a lot to learn for me still, to the point sometimes I feel like a total moron, but I’m still learning & there is quite a lot to it.

I suppose the point of this post is to not give up on your dreams. And even when you aren’t sure anyone is listening, keep repeating it. And be open to the thought that what you thought you wanted may not really be the right thing for you.

“Lord, guide me where I need to be. Show me the way.”

This was the simple prayer I said every night as I went to bed.

**NOTE: I started writing this post in August. I’ve now been at my position for two months and I am settling in and learning the ropes and routines. I am thrilled to be working there and part of an instution of that caliber. To be part of the real love and caring for the students and families as a whole, not simply test scores. In the faculty lounge a few weeks ago, we had this very conversation, while this post was on the back burner.

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Forgive me for taking a tiny little break from my usual DG kind of posts, I promise I’ll post a new recipe tomorrow! I suppose I’m feeling sort of introspective these days. With lots of drama and trauma in the lives of many around me (some real, some fabricated), it really makes me take a moment and look closer at my own life.

There are so many adages I’ve heard before and as I’m growing up (not older!), I realize the reason they’re around is because they really are true. Life is what you make it. It really is, and I learned this in my mid 20’s when I moved to LA. On a whim, I followed my roommate out there. I had no job, no apartment, no real reason to say no, so I went. It became a life altering experience. I was completely overwhelmed. If you haven’t been to LA, I can’t begin to describe just the vastness of everything there. Everything you can possibly imagine and even more. My roommate’s relationship progressed to the point of them getting engaged, which left me to find a new place to live. I had some really wonderful coworkers (newly weds, no less) who let me rent a room from them. I was miserable. 1500 miles from home, working full time and sharing a little 2br/1bath house with people I barely knew. Finally, someone smacked me and said “Hey! You are in the most exciting city, everything you’d ever want to do is here, and you’re sitting there feeling sorry for yourself? What’s up with that?’ And after that point, everything was different. I went to Dodgers games, museums, the beach, all sorts of things and really started enjoying everything that incredible city had to offer. I learned that so much of it is within my control. Of course, there are some things I can’t control: traffic, weather, cost of living. The one thing I can control (as I continually tell my children) is myself and my attitude and outlook.

Happiness, that’s a choice. The family we’re born into, our eye color, the weather, these are things that we really don’t have a choice in. We all have our wishes, but in reality, we have no say over these things and cannot change them, no matter how badly we’d like to. I have a friend, we’ve known each other since high school. She is beautiful, was always drop dead gorgeous, but was the type who really didn’t know she was as beautiful as she was. Down to earth is how I”d describe her. She has had some not so nice things happen to her. Her ex-husband & father of her children committed suicide. A different ex was abusive and a total jack-hole. She was brutally attacked and injured. And yet, she continues to look on the bright side of life. We all have our crap days. We all have things go wrong, or happen that we wish were different or better. The difference is how you respond to it. Do you let it defeat you or do you dust yourself off and say, ‘ok, that sucked. What’s next?’

Happiness is a choice. Yes, I’ve experienced adversity, difficulty and even tragedy. But I choose to be happy, because my life is not over yet and I refuse to let anything negative define me or who I am.

So, my question for you is, what’s your choice?


It’s a New Recipe And…..

Urgh. Well, I guess we can’t win them all. I get lots of emails w/recipes, tips and ideas for entertaining and fun stuff. I bet you do too. Do you ever try any of the recipes in those emails or magazines? I still actually get real, live magazines in the mail! Yes, I know, so 1999 of me. Oh well, I like to see the pictures and fold down the corners. Yes, I use my laptop in the kitchen too, but I get much less upset over spilled broth on a magazine than my computer, I’m sure you can imagine.

Anywhoo, I got a new mag last week and in thumbing through, found several interesting ones that I wanted to torture my kids with try. One in particular sounded fabulous, Slow Cooker Meatball Stew. Hmmm, it’s cold out and my slow cooker is my bff, so, why not? My kids are always asking me why I don’t do spaghetti and meatballs. Well, because I don’t make meatballs, or buy them, that’s pretty much why. I’m not Italian (sigh) and I don’t know how, although I have tried and failed miserably, to make meatballs. Off the rails, anyway, this stew sounded great. I bought the ingredients and put it all together and let it go while I was working.

There’s just nothing like walking in the door after a long day working and getting a whiff of dinner, that will require not much more attention before putting it on the table. Yeah, that’s pretty much where it ended. The result was not quite as spectacular as it looked in print. So not what I was hoping for. The meatballs were nasty & mushy, and the sauce tasted like it came from a can of Chef Boyardee’s reject little brother. Underwhelming to say the least. And guess who let me hear all about it. Yep, the short ones.

Which leads me to the title of this post. I have a standard disclaimer that you may not have heard. Please feel free to use it when necessary.
Ready? Here goes:
“It’s a new recipe, if it sucks, it’s not my fault.”
There you go. I use it often, as I’m prone to trying out new stuff fairly frequently. Good luck! Have a great week! Now, to find the next great recipe. I’ll keep you posted!


Unlucky 13

I’m not a superstitious person. Really I’m not. But today is my Friday the 13th and for the next year 13 will be my unlucky number. You see, today is the 13th anniversary of the day that changed my life. Thirteen years ago we lost my father to the demon disease, cancer. My dad was the kind of dad that every kid wants. He was funny, brilliant, dedicated, and he loved us. We always knew he loved us. He was affectionate and would never hesitate to give us a hug or tell us he loved us. And on the flip side, he was the bad guy when needed. I was sure his hand was as big as a frying pan when I was little. Or at least it felt like it was.

My dad was my first knight in shining armor. I remember being a little girl and just knowing I was going to marry him. Well, I was four, give me a break! But as I grew and started dating, he was the standard all men were measured against. And let me tell ya, he set that bar pretty darn high.

My pop was a big bear of a man, but he was all squishy and loveable on the inside. And a joker. Ohmygosh did he love a good joke. Or to pull a joke on someone, like his friend Mike Tyler. Mike owned a furniture store next door to my dad’s office and they were like-minded in the dry humor department. For grins, one day my dad bought a can of Skoal (disgusting, repulsive stuff), dumped it out and replaced it with chopped up raisins. Dad was a smoker, not a dipper. blech to both. Anyway, so he’s standing around shooting the breeze with Mike and casually pulls the can out of his pocket and proceeds to place a ‘dip’ in his lip, as if this is nothing new and happens every day. Mike’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head and he started in on my dad,

‘What are you doing?’

‘What? what do you mean?’

‘That! You don’t dip!’

‘Sure I do. I just started.’

it goes on for a bit and at some point my dad finally came clean. (I wasn’t actually there to see this, I heard about it later, I’ve inserted what I think may have been said.) But it really happened, we found the can in his desk after he passed.

He had a stubborn streak too, maybe that’s where I get my determination from. When he was in his very early 40’s he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I have a vivid memory of visiting him in the hospital. His tumor caused him to have a seizure commonly called an absence attack. It’s like the lights are on, but no one’s at home. He was driving late at night and had one of these seizures and wrecked his car. This was when the tumor was discovered. The news just kept getting worse. Not only was he in a bad crash, he had a brain tumor on top. My visit to the hospital after his wreck was earth shattering. Here was my Superman, lying in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask, two black eyes, and numerous other cuts and bruises. He wasn’t supposed to look like that. Things like that weren’t supposed to happen to my dad. That was the day I learned that yes, it can happen to me.

Dad went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment. They did the best they could, but were not able to remove all of the tumor, so he did chemo & radiation. My uncle bought my dad a goofy Tina Turner wig as a gag so he wouldn’t have to be totally bald. That stubborn streak served him well. The doctors told him that the 5 year survival rate for his type of cancer was only about 5%. Which means only 5% of people with that diagnosis live to the 5 year mark, post-diagnosis. What did my dad do? He told the doctors to piss off, they don’t know everything, and they’re sure as hell not gonna tell him when it was time to die. GO DAD! He changed his diet and lifestyle significantly and he did it, he lived, and lived well, for 18 more years.

I don’t know how I would have turned out if he’d listened to the doctors and not made it to the 5 year mark. I was 13 when he had his wreck. Thirteen is an awkward enough age and I was still reeling from my parents divorce when he was given this diagnosis. I am so incredibly thankful that I didn’t have to find out. I am however very sad that my children will never know him and how much fun he could be. How his laugh sounded or how great his hugs were. He always wanted grandchildren. He had big plans to spoil the heck of them and send them home. My oldest was born the year after he died. I tell them about him all the time and what he used to do and the things he loved and enjoyed. Fathers have a profound effect on their children. I just wish that every child was fortunate enough to have a dad like mine. The world would be a much better and  different place.

Even though it’s been thirteen long years, I still miss him terribly and think of him daily. I still talk to him sometimes too. Not as much as I did in the beginning, but I do. Even though it does get easier, you never get over it. The pain is just not quite as raw as it was initially, but it’s still there.

I love you dad.


A Missing Jacket, a Skinned Knee and a Fat Lip (AKA Summer vacation part I)

Wow! School is out (finally) and we wasted no time start our summer! Seriously. I don’t know that we’ve ever started it quite like this, but I have to report that unlike other vacations in the past this one was missing something (I’ll get to that later). By Thurs. both kids were out of school and on Sunday we were on the road baby! Take that summer! Right in the kisser!

Hubby’s job gives him 4 wks vacation a year. The problem: finding time to take it. I know I know. I’m all over him all the time to take his days, but so many times, the year ends and he still has vacation left. When he worked for Mervyn’s (I miss Mervyn’s) they were allowed to sell back any unused days. It was wonderful. But not his current employer. Use it or lose it.  And even though he’s taken some already this year, he’s still had a couple of wks left when we took this trip.  (their year is July to June, so you see our scramble) A few yrs ago, his parents moved back to Idaho, but we had a difficult time finding the time (shock!) and decent air fare (that’s the real joke these days). We didn’t want to drive- it’s two solid days’ drive-hard to give up that kind of time when you’ve only got a week.

I actually managed to find reasonable airfare and started planning our trip. The catch: we had to drive to another airport 1-1/2 hrs away (it saved us $400, I’d do it again in a flash). Ok, no prob. I can do 90 minutes for $400, wouldn’t you? Sunday we load up the car and head out at 9AM. Get to the airport, park, check in, grab a bite of overpriced airport food. Denver flight is 1-1/2 hrs. The crap part, we had a 4 hr layover in Denver. Boo. As we’re going to the gate for our connection, I spied a New Belgium Hub. New Belgium, in case you don’t know, is a brewery out of Colorado and they make my favorite beer, Fat Tire. Imagine my joy! They have my beer on tap and some really good food. Ok, that’s 2 hrs down, now what? we whiled away our time walking on the moving sidewalks and perusing the random overpriced shops. 1-1/2 hrs flight to Salt Lake City, pick up the rental car andcan it be? This time I spied In N Out burger! Dinner done, back on the road for the 2-1/2 hr drive to the in-laws house. Sheesh, for being a faster mode of transportation, it still took us 14 hours traveling.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park, I highly recommend it. We only had a very brief visit, but it was amazing. To think it’s a prehistoric GINORMOUS volcanic caldera is really pretty intimidating. If it goes off again, we’re all toast. But until then, we’ll just admire the beauty. We saw geysers (Old Faithful, natch), basins, paint/mud pots and lots of wild life. Antelope, elk, bison, and……wait for it….bears! Yes, a black bear was just walking along the road eating. And a bit farther along a grizzly. My sister-in-law was in the lead car and saw the hump on its neck that says ‘i’m a grizzly, don’t mess with me’. The crazy part of the bears, people were OUT OF THEIR CARS, some were even crossing the road and dragging their small children to get a  better look!  Seriously people, I wanted to yell at them ‘THIS ISN’T THE ZOO!’ but I didn’t, we just kept driving. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get a pic.

This is Firehole River, not far inside the West Entrance of Yellowstone. It was very full from the snowmelt.

We saw hundreds of these.

We’d prepared for cold weather (it snowed over Memorial Day wknd), wearing layers and fleece. Because my daughter didn’t have any long sleeves with her, I packed two jackets for her with the thought she could layer if necessary. By the time we made it home, we only had one. How does that happen? Nine people and no one saw what happened. Oh, I nearly forgot snow! There was actually quite a lot of snow. So we stopped and let kids have a quick snowball fight. That’s pretty fun, considering we only got about 2″ of snow this year!

This is West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. Just one tiny little part of it, it’s a huge lake.

Going south from Yellowstone is an area I’ve always wanted to visit, Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons. Wow. They are absolutely breathtaking. I’ve seen mountains, been in mountains, camped in mountains, but these were simply spectacular. Huge, rugged and snow-covered. It was worth the trip and they were even more amazing than I’d dreamed they’d be. There are truly no words to describe being there and even though I’ve got some really wonderful photos, there’s no way they can ever do justice.

Imagine coming around a bend and seeing this. Amazing.

We stayed in Jackson a night. It’s a really cute little old cowboy town. There are lots of log buildings and heavy wood used to give it all a real western feel. We went to the Million Dollar Cowboy Saloon. Holy cow! This place is old school. All of the wood was knotty pine that had been lacquered to a really deep brown, glossy finish. There were silver dollars IN the bar top and the bar stools, well, they were saddles, stirrups and all! Across from the saloon is the town square. The entrances to the square itself are marked by 20 foot high elk antler arches! It was just a cool little town. From what I understand there’s some really incredible skiing there in winter. And in case you get the idea of buying a home there, unless you’re independently wealthy, it’s not happening. Just for grins and giggles I picked up a real estate magazine.  Ha. For a few mil I could have 3 bed 2 bath condo.  It’s always fun to dream, but until I win the lottery….

Yippee kay ay cowgirls!

There are four of these and they’re about 20ft tall!

OMG I nearly forgot. Moose. We were hoping to see bears and moose. Day two on our way out of Tetons National Park, we came around a bend and there were several cars parked in a little pull out. There was a man with a camera that had a lens on it as big around as my thigh. Of course that means there’s something there so we stopped too. At the base of this hill, in a little grassy area right next to a stream was a female moose laying down and according to the people there, she was in labor. She’d pant hard, look at her behind, and relax. And do it again a few minutes later. Unfortunately we had no way of knowing how much longer it would be and didn’t have time to stand around to wait. Back in the car. On the road called “Moose-Wilson”, now I know why. Driving through the mountains on a rutted, dirt road, feeling like we were the only ones around is pretty cool. Another bend and we’re out of the trees, and in another field, we spy another female moose out for lunch. We were really excited. For a short visit, we saw quite a lot!

this is the mama moose we saw. I wasn’t nearly as close as it seems, I zoomed in to get a better look at her.

The weather was perfect for our entire trip. And then it was time to come home. Another 14 hour travel day. Did I mention the hail storm? Yep, the airport where our car was parked had a hailstorm blow thru and my car got some hail damage. Judging from the size of the dents, I”m glad the windows weren’t shattered!

Now comes the really incredible part. I didn’t say anything while we were gone b/c I totally didn’t want to jinx it. I think you may have read my posts about previous vacations. Something always went wrong. Be it delays and missed connections, or a puking kid. Not once were we able to take a trip without something going wrong and vomit playing a role in our trip. I waited until we were home and did my own little happy dance. Minus the missing jacket, a skinned knee (my boy) and a fat lip ( my girl during a game of hide & seek in the dark), our trip went perfectly! I was so freaking thrilled! Little blessings, I know. But hey, I’ll take them when I can get them!

Did you notice the title? “Part I”? things went so well the first time around, and with all the vacation hubby’s got to burn (plus a bonus!) we’re taking kids to Florida next month! I so hope I can share good things with you all about our trip then too! That would make my freaking year! How sad is it when you’re thrilled about no one puking?

One last shot, me and my honey.

Me and my honey at Signal Mtn, behind is us the Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake. Stunning. Our thing is the arm stretch, he’s gotten quite good, don’t you think?


No Drama Mama

I’ve had this phrase in my mind for about a month now.  There happens to be a blog of this title, but I’m going to borrow it for this post. That said, I have to ask, am I the only one in this world who abhors drama? I mean really, isn’t there enough on shows like ‘The Bachelor’ or ‘Big Brother’, or ‘Young and Restless’ for that matter?

I think I can answer my own question, which brings up another problem that will have to be addressed in a later post: talking to myself. Well, that’s not really the problem, the problem is when I answer myself, or worse yet, get into an argument. It gets really weird then.

Ok, back on track. Just to tell you all, my friends, I really don’t do drama. The fact that my dear 8yo daughter has perfected the whole drama thing is really disturbing. I know some people who cannot live without drama any more than they could live without oxygen or water. I so don’t get that mind-set. Aren’t there enough struggles in life without creating more? What is it they say, don’t go borrowing trouble? Yeah, well, I wish some people would get a clue. Really.

What am I ranting about now, you ask? So, here it is. I have a sister-in-law, I’ll call her Jeannie. I like her. I thought we were friends, we’ve always seemed to get along. She doesn’t necessarily get along with other family members, but that’s not my gig. She is of the mindset that there must always be drama and turmoil. She is unable to let go of past hurts or offenses any more than she can get rid of her acid washed jeans from the 80’s that she can only dream of ever wearing again. Poor Jeannie can’t seem to understand that some of the things she wants to be upset about will never change and she’d be better just to drop it like it’s hot and move on with her life.   But nooooo! She wants to carry around all of that anger and frustration, to the dismay of her husband, and the rest of us. Me, I’ve got way better things to worry about.

Just a quick word about myself.  I so don’t do drama. I don’t play games. I am who I am, you see what you get with me. I am not vindictive or vengeful. I don’t ‘get even’. Life is too short for all of that nonsense. And the energy it takes to be angry and put on all the show, it’s just not my style. I’m a low-key kinda gal. But, on the flip side, I don’t suffer fools gladly. If you burn me once, I’ll give you another chance if you want to make up and give it another go. But if you burn me again, I’m out. And likewise, if I offend you (mostly it happens on accident, I have a big mouth and sometimes it runs at will, before my brain gets the say-so on what comes out of it!) I’ll apologize and try to make amends.

I haven’t heard much from Jeannie in a while. She’s deactivated her Facebook profile and doesn’t return my emails or texts (another of my pet peeves, but for another time). Thanksgiving rolls around and it’s her turn to host. We take turns and last year it was at my house. Everything was planned, but on the Tuesday before, she came down with a nasty stomach bug. When I found out, I respectfully gave our regrets, as my hubby’s a retail mgr and the day after Thanksgiving is easily his biggest day. He quite literally can’t afford to be sick now. Not to mention, someone who’s got that virus (or had it in the past couple of days) truly should not be preparing food for other people. Seriously, would you want to eat food cooked by someone who’d been puking a day or two before? Um, not me!

A historical flashback. Six yrs ago, my elderly 86yo grandmother and dear sweet 94 yo great-aunt were living nearby and really in poor health. I was thrilled they would be coming to my house for Thanksgiving dinner, the first ever. And wouldn’t you know it, on Tuesday, I came down with strep! Yay. Wait. It’s highly contagious and I have frail guests. guess what happened. Yep, we had separate Thanksgivings that year. couldn’t be helped. The very last thing in the world I would have wanted was to give my family a potentially life-threatening illness.

So, when Jeannie gets this stomach virus and I declined our invite, i reminded her what happened 6 yrs previously. I wanted her to know that it just happens sometimes. Things happen that are beyond our control, and it’s no big deal.

Now it comes time for Christmas. She normally hosts a Christmas eve family gathering. I emailed her a couple of wks ago and apologized for whatever transgression against her that I’d perpetrated (because I had no clue what I’d done). I told her that I’d never intentionally hurt her feelings and asked what I could get her children for Christmas. The response I got from her was short, curt, and didn’t address anything other than her children’s clothing sizes. I know it sounds weird, but it kind of felt like a slap in the face. I have always considered her to be a friend. She’s known me long enough to know that I don’t do the drama thing, or the getting even stuff, or any of that crap. But when this transpired, I decided that we probably shouldnt’ go to her house on Christmas Eve. It was apparent she didn’t want me around and I don’t like to be where I”m not wanted. Instead, this year, for the first in a very long time, we went to Christmas Eve mass. That was the nail in my coffin.

I emailed to let her know before she went to the grocery store that we would not be attending so she could plan accordingly. I asked when would be a good time to get our children together so they could exchange gifts. I got no response. Not until Christmas Eve. her hubby called me and asked if he could bring their kids over  to do the exchange. it was then that I finally got some answers. Rather than taking my reminder about 6 yrs ago that it happens to everyone, no big deal, she took it as a ‘hey, you did it to me 6 yrs ago, so I’m doing it to you now’. Nice, huh?  She didn’t respond to my apology because, according to her husband, she didn’t want to. I guess she just wants to be mad. You know, if she’s got the energy and time to carry that around, go for it. Me, I”m the no drama mama. I’m over it and moving on. So done. There’s only so many times I’ll let my fingers get stepped on before I move them.

Ok, enough whining, thanks for listening, I feel better. It is disappointing, but as I always remind my kids, the only thing in life I can control is myself. Myself, my words, my actions and reactions. If she wants to be that way, it’s her deal.

I hope you all have a wonderful Chrsitmas and a very Happy New Year!

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I know. I know. I KNOW!! I’m a slacker! But I have a good reason for being one, it’s called summer! We’ve been very busy and there’s been lots of stuff going on around here. And I mean ALOT. I’ve got several posts in the queue, but I have to upload the photos.  See, I’m told you like to see photos w/my posts, so I can’t very well publish without them, can I? Or can I? Hmmm, you know that is a thought….Nah. I know you want to see the pictures of my Slow Melt Mix and Match Pudding Pops. Or my super easy Pesto. See what I mean? Or my visit to St Louis and Marine week. Marines are good.

But, until then, I have family coming in from out of town, a child in day camp 20 min away, a husband working his tail off and a daughter who seems to need all of my attention in between times. So, from the bottom of my heart, I ask that you forgive my temporary lapses in sanity and posting and I promise I’ll try to do better next week!

In the meantime, I wish you a Happy 4th of July! Be safe, enjoy your holiday, eat way too much, watch other people’s money go up in flames and come back to visit me next week! God bless America!

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Dad, Daddy, Father, Papa, Pop, Pere, Padre, Papi……

So many names, so many languages (I didn’t even try any of the Asian characters) to me they all mean the same thing: Love. Strength. Hero. Mentor. Friend.

Yes, this is a day late, just like my dad was. Not that that’s a bad thing, my dad was known to be late on occasion.

It’s Father’s day and I find myself remembering my dad and all the things he taught me growing up. I wish I could spend the day with him, but we lost him nearly 12 years ago to brain cancer. I miss him still. I’m sure I always will. He had an easy laugh, a really dry sense of humor, and gave great hugs. Dad was also very generous, honest to a fault, and compassionate.

God bless him, my dad didn’t have an athletic bone in his body. I think the only sport he ever participated in (if you can call it that) was bicycling, but even that was only for pleasure not competition. Dear old Dad. When I was in 5th grade I think, I decided I wanted to play soccer. The drawback was there was no one to coach our team, so dad, wanting me to have the opportunity to try out a new sport, volunteered even though all he knew about soccer was that it was kick ball. He tried his very best to coach us. The poor guy was put on the spot at the first coaches meeting when they asked what our team name was going to be. Dad and the assistant coach, or co-coach, came up with a really terrifying team name: The Knee Kickers. And yes, I am serious. Can you imagine the fear we instilled in the hearts of our opponents? Yeah, I know, laughter, snickers, and even glee on their faces was closer to the truth. Dad tried his hardest, but we were so terrible, we only scored 1 goal all season. No, that’s not a typo, we scored ONE SINGLE GOAL for that entire season. Knee Kickers indeed. That was apparently all we were kicking then!

Dad was diagnosed with brain cancer when I was 13. Being 13 was traumatic enough, but my parents were divorcing, then came the blow of dad’s cancer. It was hard for me, but being a parent and just a bit older now than he was when he was diagnosed, I know the determination he had to beat the odds and stick around to help mold my brother and me.

Even though as a teenager, I adamantly refused to believe that my parents were not completely mental, I did learn a lot from my dad that has served me well in my adult life.

Professionalism is key, even when you’re just a teenager working in your dad’s office.
Treat people with respect, kindness and compassion, because some day, you may need that from someone else.
Never take anyone for granted, or take advantage of someone.
Honesty is always best, even when it’s painful, it’s easier to remember later than trying to remember what story you told to whom.
Family always comes first.
Find something you love to do and do it.
Don’t be afraid to show and share your emotions.
You can do whatever you want in life if you work hard enough.

If you can’t laugh at yourself, something’s wrong.

Dad had one quality in abundance: determination. Some may have called it stubbornness. I call it determination. He was determined to overcome the cancer and stick around to watch us grow up.

Unfortunately, 12 yrs ago, we got the bad news that the cancer was back and untreatable. He had done his job, we were grown, he was able to walk me down the aisle and present my diploma to me when I graduated chiropractic college and followed him into his profession. I’m sad he never got to meet my children, but i tell them stories about him all the time and show them pictures so they know who he was, even though he didn’t get the opportunity to spoil grandkids like he’s always wanted to.

Dad, never being one who liked being told what to do, decided when it was going to be his time to go, not when someone else decided it was going to happen.

I see a lot of the qualities my dad had, in  my husband. He’s a jokester. He likes to laugh. He’s laid back and easy going and doesn’t lose his temper easily, but when he does, you’d better look out! He works hard to take care of us, and wants our children to have better lives.

This is for all of the dads out there who love their children unconditionally, teach them the things they need to succeed in life, and for the ones who never had the opportunity. You are more influential than you can ever imagine.

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Get the Funk out!

Hey friends. Just wanted to drop a shorty short note and let you know that I haven’t forgotten about you! I forgot my phone number, my address and my kid’s birthday, but not about you! Ha ha! just kidding, mostly.

We are just winding up our school year and it’s crazy how it seems to go faster the closer we get to the end. I don’t get it, it never seemed to work that way when I was a kid!

I’m also dealing with some feelings of nostalgia. A funk, really. My son, my oldest, my most precious first-born is finishing elementary school today. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. They have been wonderful years and they’re coming to an end. Next year he’s in middle school. And on top of that, we’re putting him in a private middle school, which is um, less than appealing to him. The public school in our district is a very good school, my problem with it is the fact that 14 elementary schools come together in one building for a class of approximately 1100 kids, PER GRADE. In one building. Yeah, can you say ginormous? We don’t want him to fall thru the cracks or feel like he’s not worthy or good enough. The school we’re putting him in has 35 kids in the 5th grade right now, in two classes. It goes thru 8th grade and then feeds to one of three private high schools. It has been a very difficult decision to come to and it’s a serious commitment for the next 7 years and beyond. I think the part of it that’s the hardest for me, besides the end of elementary school, is seeing him unhappy. He so does not want to go. One of his classmates will be going to this school, and he knows a few other kids there (it’s connected to our church in the way that Catholic schools are part of a parish I guess) so it won’t be a sea of unfamiliar faces. I think the reality’s setting in and it’s a major change. Even though I’ve told him it will be a major change either way. Agh, it’s tough being a parent sometimes.

And of course, in the midst of all of these mixed emotions, some numbnuts computer genius managed to get his stupid malware virus on my laptop, so it’s at the IT guy’s right now getting a thorough cleaning. Grr. If those ppl would use their brains for good, think about what a world we’d live in!

So, please forgive me for not posting any new recipes for a bit. I’ll be back next week with some delicious offerings. Think about roasted Vidalia onions, tomatillo salsa verde, and Tuscan chicken to name a few. Come back next week and see what’s new!