Meanwhile, over here

Geeze, it’s been a while!

Mark and I spent last weekend at the lake cabin of our friends, Paul and Megan, along with a bunch of bowling friends. The weather didn’t quite deliver the sunny, warm, jump-in-the-lake kind of weekend I was hoping for. It was cloudy, cool and spectacularly humid. We spent most of Saturday sitting out on the deck wearing sweatshirts, enjoying cocktails and either participating in or watching the ongoing bean bag tournament. Later in the evening, half the group got cabin fever and headed off to a nearby casino. The other half of us sat out in the screened gazebo, listening to the breeze blowing off the lake through the trees and playing music from our phones through some impressive bluetooth speakers. I got nominated to be deejay when the previous deejay’s battery had drained on her phone. Turns out I have a good collection of music, universally appreciated among drunken bowlers. So if I ever need to make a little money on the side, there’s that.

Last weekend also saw the return of Kacey to college. Now the proud owner of a brand new to her 2004 Impala, she happily made the hour and a half drive back to school all by herself, which made me nervous. Her driving over the past few years has been pretty limited and rarely has she traveled any distance all alone. BUT, having recently given up my habit of obsessive worrying, I had to keep reminding myself not to, and to have faith that she would be safe. And she was. Arrived all in one piece and everything. Which I knew the moment she arrived since I made her promise to call me the moment she arrived. Before even getting out of the car. She’s a good kid. She complied with my motherly demands, even if they were a bit demanding.

Coming home after the weekend of fun was a little more disappointing than a normal coming home after a weekend of fun. My baby girl wasn’t here to come home to and I missed her already. She just brings light and life into the house. For the first few mornings this week, Lucy poked her head into Kacey’s now uninhabited bedroom. She’d grown used to the morning routine of jumping up on the bed and then once her girl was coerced out of bed, getting a good cuddling on the living room floor. The quiet takes some getting used to, but I have to say I don’t miss the long strands of her hair that seemed to eternally inhabit the bathroom floor!

So for excitement this week, I got five stitches removed from my head. I wish I had a super-impressive story to go along with that statement, but I don’t. Cyst removal. And can I just say that when sliced open, the head bleeds a lot!

OH! And I won tickets to the Renaissance Festival at work this week! Four of them! A coworker offered them up through an email contest he devised. He invited us to reply with a number guess between 1 and 500. The guesser of the number closest to the one that had been predetermined would win. The number 333 appeared in my head and without skipping a beat, I sent my reply. AND I WON! I haven’t been to the Renaissance Festival in about twenty years, but I remember it being a really unique and fun experience. I can’t wait to go again!

Tomorrow I’m working half a day and then joining Mark in an annual celebration of the wind-down of summer. If anyone’s looking for us, you can find us at the Minnesota State Fair where we’ll be eating ridiculous quantities of foods on a stick and doing vast amounts of people-watching. I’ll try to report back with pictures, if not of the people, for sure of the food!

Color Me Happy

It’s Color Run day and I’m ready!

Months ago, Kacey asked me to sign up for the Color Run with her. And although I had long ago decided that I was not a runner, I agreed to do it, if for no other reason than my favorite girl wanted me to. We’ll be joining Kacey’s friend and former softball teammate, Shelby and her dad, John who is the girls’ former softball coach.

Color Run 2014

Early in the year, I thought, “Well. I should start getting ready for this thing.” But I didn’t. January, February, March all went by and I didn’t run. Then the cold weather, snow and slush finally subsided. The sun started coming up earlier and the temperatures grew warmer. The thought of running outside as opposed to in they gym gave me the motivation I needed.

Lucy Pie was more than happy to help me get back into a running groove. If not for her habit of practically dragging me along each day, often helping me to keep running when I might otherwise have stopped, I don’t know that I would have gotten back into it. Gosh, I hope I can do it without her.

005bI’m ready for some fun! Wish us luck today!

 

Twenty-One

I’ve been referring to my offspring as young adults for quite some time. They are, after all, in various stages of grown-upness and responsibility. Brad is living on his own, working full-time and engaged to be married. Jake continues to live at home (and I’m grateful that he does,) but works full-time and just purchased his first new vehicle. Kacey just finished her third year of college and is preparing to start her summer job next week.

Yes, my kids have definitely grown up. And it’s official today. My baby is twenty-one years old today! It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has passed. I still remember that day twenty-one years ago, when Mark was driving me to the hospital and based on my two previous experiences, I was preparing myself for another twelve to eighteen hours of labor. Then we arrived at the hospital and thirty minutes later, I was holding a baby girl in my arms.

Having only been a mom to two little boys to that point in my life, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just knew I was in love with her from the moment she arrived. I dressed her in frilly, pretty dresses just until she was old enough to move around on her own and it became clear she needed durable clothing. She had two brothers to keep up with, sand castles to build, climbing to do and bikes to ride. As she grew up, she grew to love playing sports and she also displayed a thirst for knowledge. She loved school and for many years, she would tell anyone who would listen that she wanted to be an art or phy ed teacher when she grew up.

She has always loved to be involved – in almost any kind of activity. She mentored younger kids in high school, was a youth leader at our church, and babysat the littler kids in the neighborhood. She went to school dances and played volleyball, softball, soccer and basketball. There were hundreds of sleepovers to have and to go to. Her social nature helped form the bonds of strong friendships. She loves her friends and they love her.

And so do I. She’s my best friend and the world’s greatest daughter. And she’s twenty-one today. Of course, there are plans to celebrate with her friends later on this evening, but she gave her family the honor of taking her out for her first celebration – for dinner – and her first legal drink.

Kacey and Me on her birthday

My baby’s all grown up now. And I’m officially old. (Not that it took her twenty-first birthday to make me realize that!) Happy Birthday, Kacey!

Quiet House

Lucy's chairFor the past month, the house has been so full of energy and activity. With Kacey home from school on winter break, there was never a dull moment here. We had frequent visits from her friends who would hang out here to watch movies and play games. Lucy reveled in all of this company and endeared herself to whomever it was that came through the door. Connor was here almost daily, watching football or hockey with Mark and eating whatever there was good to eat.

I loved coming home from work to find Kacey in the kitchen preparing dinner for the family. What a treat! And there was never a shortage of conversation, silliness and laughter.

Not that I wasn’t aware, but it really hit me yesterday that this was my last weekend with her before break came to an end. Kacey was still sleeping when Lucy started barking at a dog and its owner taking their morning walk outside on our street. She made enough of a ruckus to wake up Kacey. Kacey came trudging down the hall from her bedroom, trying to scowl at Lucy, but a smile snuck through instead. I wasn’t too sorry.

“Can’t you just not go back to school?” I fake pouted and nudged her as she found herself something to drink in the refrigerator.

“Um, yeah,” she said agreeably. “As long as you don’t mind me living here until I’m forty.”

“I don’t think I’d mind,” I said.

“I think I would,” she laughed. Really, I was relieved she felt that way. Good to know she’s got enough ambition to want to create a life of her own outside of this house.

Kace and Chase

Kace and Chase

This morning Kacey and Connor attended his baby cousin’s baptism and first birthday party. I puttered around the house, waiting for Kacey to return. I didn’t want to go anywhere because I knew that almost as soon as she was back, she would pack up her things. And then she and Connor would be on their way back to school. I didn’t want to miss my chance to hug her goodbye. She was back by early afternoon with stories about how adorable the baby was. She got to spend time too with Chase, Connor’s little brother. She always has fun with Chase. I think he likes her pretty well too.

I helped her pack up her stuff. There was a lot of stuff to pack. A girl apparently needs a lot of stuff for a whole month at home. There were a couple of duffel bags, a tote bag, a back pack and a giant, reusable Ikea bag. We laughed when she said she hoped Connor had room in his car for all of her stuff in addition to his!

As it turned out, there was enough room, and they were off. A couple of hugs, a couple of I-love-yous, and the car was backing out the driveway. I closed the front door as they drove away and the house felt immediately subdued. The water, heat and grocery bills will probably go down this month. That’s little consolation.

I know she goes to school fairly close. It’s not like we go months without seeing each other. She spends weekends at home pretty frequently. We text or call each other almost daily. I almost shouldn’t miss her when she’s away. But I do. I just love having her here.

When we were packing up Kacey’s things and I was looking at all those bags of clothes and accessories, all I could do was wonder how many more times I’ll be able to enjoy having my girl home for winter and summer breaks. She’s a college junior this year. Next year, she’ll likely get a job near school and her ability to come home on weekends and during breaks could be much more limited. Who knows? In the very near future, she may end up staying in her apartment over the summer instead of coming home. In not too many years, her own life will be taking off. And that’s what I want for my daughter. But until then, I will continue to love having her here, as often as she wants to be. Home always feels more like home when my kids are here.

My Girl is Home

Kacey is on “Fall Break,” which means she gets a Friday off from classes and came home tonight for a long weekend. I love when Kacey’s home and not just because she was standing in the kitchen cooking when I came in the door from work tonight. Gosh, it’s nice to see someone else in the family doing the cooking once in a while!

It’s been a few weeks since she’s been home and I’ve missed her. Even Jake, who may or may not come out for food on occasion, surfaced from the depths of his room. He came into the kitchen as we prepared tacos for dinner, all Mr. Social and personable.

“Can I help with anything?” he asked.

“What? Who are you and what have you done with my son?” I asked. Okay so I didn’t really, but don’t think it escaped my attention that he willingly came to the kitchen to converse with other family members. AND OFFERED TO HELP. (Seriously, it’s going to take me a while to stop marveling over that one.) I told him he could go to the refrigerator and find the shredded cheese, sour cream, and taco sauce. I’m pretty sure he set the table too while I wasn’t looking. Will miracles never cease?

Kacey comes home and breathes life into the usual routine. She tells stories that have me laughing before I’ve even heard the punchline…

So the other day, I burped in my room and it sounded weirder than usual. And then I heard Andi and Haley laughing in the other room and I was like, “Uh, did you guys actually hear that? And they were in hysterics and I was like, “Um, excuse me?

And so then Andi asked, “Have you ever burped in public and it came out louder than you expected…?”

It cracks me up that they actually discuss these kinds of things! I love that they do. All too soon they’ll have to be grown up and serious. Their opportunities to contemplate bodily functions will be much more limited in the near future.

I love having Kacey home because she agrees with my opinions. Mark and I have had an ongoing discussion about whether meals should contain a variety of color. This began one evening when we were eating leftovers. We had Chicken a la King on biscuits. Mark wandered to the refrigerator and pulled out some leftover cauliflower.

“Want some of this?”

“Eew, no,” I said, crinkling my nose.

“What? You like cauliflower.”

“I know,” I explained, “but it’s too much white food.”

He laughed and said he didn’t get it. I said we couldn’t have white vegetables with a white main dish. It’s important for food to have a variety of color. He shook his head like I was crazy, but tonight when I mentioned I wanted the “yellow” taco shell instead of the “white,” he was reminded of my food/color hang-up and started to make fun. Kacey put him in his place and said how it was important for meals to have contrasting colors (and weren’t the tacos just so colorful?)

She’s my kid for sure.

A trip to Target for three things turned into an hour-long excursion, mostly because we just kept wandering around the store talking, telling stories, looking at things. I put on a turkey hat that I found in the dollar section and she scolded me, “Mother! No! Take that off. Someone we know is going to see this. Put it back.”

And even though she pretended to be appalled, she couldn’t stop laughing.

I love that cooking a meal can be fun with her. I love that a trip to Target can be fun with her. I love that she’s home for the next three days.

Happy Goals

Kacey came home from school for the weekend. She and Connor had a wedding to attend – his uncle’s. It was a casual affair, a second marriage for both the bride and groom. The event was a  fifties-themed backyard party and Kacey and Connor dressed accordingly, to the best of their ability anyway. As college students on limited budgets, poodle skirts and leather jackets weren’t really in the cards. But I thought they looked great.

018b

Mark and I went bowling while the kids were gone. We were home at a decent hour and the kids were already back from the wedding. They said they had fun. The food was good and there was even some dancing, which they love to do.

This morning, Mark, Kacey and I went to the farmers market in St. Paul. We bought carrots, bell peppers, sweet corn, radishes, beets, cauliflower and apples. I think Mark would have bought more stuff, but I reminded him that we had to be able to realistically eat all this stuff before it went bad. Besides, we couldn’t carry anymore in our overloaded arms.

At home, Kacey and I baked. I had a bunch of bananas going bad that we made into bread and I’d been craving some pumpkin cookies I made for the first time last year. So we did those too. I always have so much more fun working in the kitchen when she’s there to work alongside me or just keep me company.

We packed up some of each for Kacey to take back to school. She also took a little cooler of things I’d been freezing in individual portions for her. The oven in her apartment gets hotter than it should and the girls have burned a lot of food in their attempts at home cooking. So I’ve been stashing stuff in the freezer for Kacey – a couple of containers of pot roast and potatoes, some chicken and wild rice soup, pulled pork and taco meat. Kacey was thrilled. She said something about feeling a little bit bad for letting me do so much for her. I told her I enjoyed the chance to still “mother” her whenever I could. She said, “Good. ‘Cause I like it when you do.”

Everybody’s happy!

Speaking of being happy, I’ve been thinking about things I can do to promote a more positive attitude. I found a good quote to keep in mind this week. Considering where the idea of “happy goals” began, this seems appropriate.

Anger QuoteI’ve thought and thought and thought about what my specific goals should be. And I finally realized I was putting too much pressure on myself to come up with something really impressive. But then I finally realized that starting simple might be the better way to go, at least at first. So, this week I will strive to:

  1. Look for the good – There are usually more smiles, laughs and positive exchanges in my days than negative. I will choose to let the good stuff take up residence in my head and let the negative stuff roll off my back.
  2. Get outside – I spend too much time inside, at a desk, behind a computer. Fall is my favorite time of year. And I have a dog who loves to go for walks. She has plenty of room to run in the yard, but she would much rather go exploring around the neighborhood.
  3. Eat better – at least one vegetable a day. (I’m good with fruits, not so much with vegetables.)
  4. Perform a random act of kindness

In a week, maybe I’ll be willing to share how it all went. :-)

The First Day of School Club

All over FaceB00k, people I know are posting First Day of School pictures. I see cute kids with clean, bright, new shoes and colorful backpacks. I see smiling faces full of the hope and promise of a brand new school year.

We’re done with those days here. And I totally don’t miss shopping for x number of notebooks and specifically colored folders. I don’t miss searching for washable markers and the box of 48 crayons, (not the box of 64!) I’m glad I no longer have to buy anymore of those hundred-some dollar graphing calculators or the required number of boxes of tissues per kid.

But seeing all those pictures on FaceB00k…

Kyle’s first day of Kindergarten

Cali’s first day of middle school

Logan’s last first day as an elementary school student

Well, it all just made me kind of miss the days of sending my kiddos off to school and knowing they’d be back home at the end of the day to have dinner with the family and fall asleep later on in their bedrooms just down the hall.

Even when I went back to work and had to leave the house before they did, Mark and I somehow managed to take a first day of school picture of each of them on every one of their first days of school.

Hovering around on FaceB00k today, I began to feel a little left out.

I texted my “baby” girl, and said, “Everything on FaceB00k is fist day of school pictures. I feel left out.”

Within minutes, she answered to my need. My “baby” girl, a third-year college student living on her own in an apartment just off her college campus, sent me that annual photo I’d been missing so much.

Kacey 7th day of school

It was actually her seventh day of school picture, but I applaud her for her efforts and the way she accessorized to make it look as if she really was heading off to a day of school, even though I knew darn well she had pretty much put her day of school behind her by the time the picture was taken. But I was able to join the club on FaceB00k and show off at least one of my kids.

Is it any wonder I love this girl so much?