Have you hugged your chiropractor lately?

I did. I saw my chiropractor this afternoon and instead of the usual handshake, we hugged. I have to admit, it felt a little awkward. Usually he just shakes my hand. But I have been seeing him now for over eleven years, (we figured out this afternoon.) And we have socialized outside of our doctor-patient relationship, so we do tend to be a bit comfortable and casual around each other.

Thing is, the hugging took place at a wake I attended for my coworker’s father-in-law, who also happens to be the father-in-law of my chiropractor. So I guess the hugging was appropriate, considering there were sympathies involved and such.

Strange, small little world I live in at times, isn’t it?

So things have been busy, as you might guess from the lack of any posting around here. Kacey came home from school for the weekend, mainly to see the dentist on Friday. (And as far as I know, there was no hugging involved there.) Lucy was thrilled to have her “sister” home. Got herself a little spoiled-rotten pampering, she did.

Can you see how big Lucy's smiling?

Can you see how big Lucy’s smiling?

I was pretty happy too. I sure miss that kid when she’s away. We had a big weekend breakfast together and I let her spend some of my money on a new dress for a wedding she’s attending with Connor this coming weekend. Course, I found a little something(s) for myself too. Retail therapy is much more fun with Kacey!

Since Kacey had plans with friends on Saturday night, I accepted an invitation from my sister to go to karaoke. You remember my sister? The one with the musician husband who is in several bands? Yes, that one. So my brother-in-law hauled along a couple of his band buddies and they awed everyone in the bar with their vocal talents. There may be photographic evidence of my sister and I belting out something by Captain and Tennille, but any and all photographs were declared banned from Faceb00k and the internet in general. Amazing what a few beers can do for your confidence, even while you remain fully aware that your singing abilities are just not that great. Good thing people in karaoke bars tend to be a little drunk. Also, they love when someone sings poorly. Makes it easier to follow and fail just as miserably! I did everyone a service!

OH! And I got to meet Jake’s new girlfriend on Saturday. It’s too early to say much about that but initial impressions are really, really good. She made him buy new jeans. I like her already!

Work is … uh … busy. Over the last couple of weeks, there’ve been a few instances of skipping lunch, arriving early and staying late. I haven’t made my lunchtime trek around the pond in at least a week! I’m not complaining. I love my job as much as always.  At the moment, I’m just juggling multiple big happenings and deadlines demanding attention all at the same time.

I’m sure glad to be surrounded by such great people in the office, though. One of my responsibilities is to monitor several of our websites to ensure the content stays current. Part of that job is to make sure that expiring forms are updated when new versions are issued. But for reasons beyond my control, I’m not always on the receiving end of announcements of new forms. So then I have to remember to go out and look for updates. It’s not the greatest system. I have a techy teammate who’s created a few processes in the past to automate certain aspects of my job and make my work life so much easier. So I had this idea about the forms and thought I’d just give it a shot. I asked him if, in his bag of magic tricks, he had a way to create an alert system to read the expiration dates on the forms and send me a heads-up. It only took him a day or so. He stopped by my desk yesterday, walked me through a few things on my computer and there it was. My own personal alert system. I told him he’s a rock star. Hopefully that makes up for all the times I tell him to speak to me in English (not database, code or some other technology language,) and to stop getting frustrated with me already because I don’t speak geek! Really, though, we make a good team. I tell him he doesn’t communicate well with me. He told me I’m demanding. I said that makes me his work wife, to which he said, “I could do worse.” I’m grateful for him.

Just another couple of days and another weekend rolls around again. I’ll be ready for it!

The Color Run – SO MUCH FUN!

Sunday morning arrived, the day of the Color Run. I was excited in a way I can’t remember feeling in… well, forever! I was surprised at my level of enthusiasm, partly because when Kacey asked me to sign up with her, I was less than enthusiastic. I had given running a try a while ago, but seemed only to meet with frustration and failure. Eventually, I decided there just wasn’t a runner in me. But my daughter wanted to do the Color Run with me and she was excited about it. So I agreed and decided to do my best to get in running shape, at least enough to succeed in this fun run.

I ran my usual three miles on Saturday morning, the day before the run. The air was heavy and it was harder to breathe than usual. I felt like I was struggling through most of my run and I arrived home dripping in sweat. I worried that Sunday would arrive with more of the same. But all Saturday afternoon it rained off and on. And when Sunday dawned, the air was lighter, the sun was bright and the temperature was a near perfect seventy-ish.

Color Run 1

Starting out clean!

I was awake early and enjoyed my morning coffee in the quiet house before getting ready to go. Soon Kacey was awake too and we got dressed in our shorts and white tees, pinned on our numbers and decorated ourselves with a few complimentary Color Run tattoos.

John and Shelby came to pick us up and we headed off to the state fairgrounds where the run would take place. We all chattered excitedly as we drove and John made it clear several times that he does not consider running to be enjoyable and that he would likely hold us all up with his slow pace. I told him I was relieved to hear that. I didn’t have the greatest confidence in my own ability. But any doubts I had about succeeding in this run were erased when we arrived and saw all of the other runners and walkers heading for the starting line.

It was a total party atmosphere and there were people of all ages, shapes and sizes getting ready for the big event. I relaxed and just decided to soak it all in. I couldn’t seem to stop smiling as we made our way into the crowd of people. It was such a beautiful day and Kacey kept telling me how glad she was that I was there with her.

Kacey, me, John and Shelby... ready to run!

Kacey, me, John and Shelby… ready to run!

As we waited our turn to start running, music was pumping through the air and a young emcee was busy tossing out Color Run goodies and keeping the crowd pumped up. Our countdown began and we were off.

I soon found out the true meaning behind the words “fun run.” There were both runners and walkers. No pressure! People were dressed in crazy clothing with colorful tutus and crazy socks. One woman ran in a wedding dress!

The route itself was actually much easier than my usual route, which has a lot of incline. I was able to run it easily and even found myself conversing with John and the girls as we ran. The color stations were crazy and we did our best to get our shirts as colorful as possible as we ran through each one. I was having the time of my life!

Color Run 3After the finish, we made our way to the big party. We received our own packets of colored powder and joined the huge crowd in the grandstand area of the fairgrounds. Music was blasting, we were dancing and laughing and took our turn volleying the huge beach balls bouncing around above the heads of the crowd. And when it was time to toss our colors up into the air, we did our duty, whooping and laughing along with the rest of the crowd. If there was any part of my body not covered in color before the big toss, it was sure covered afterwards!

Now that we were tasting and sneezing colored powder, we were ready to head back home. All the way back, we all kept saying how much fun it was. I think John and I were both really surprised how much we had enjoyed it and we told the girls we would definitely do it again next year! Heck, I want to do another run well before next year!

My HAPPY tattoo!

My HAPPY tattoo!

As soon as we were back home, Kacey and I packed up the car and headed up to the cabin to join Mark, Brad and Connor for a few days of fun. We were anxious to get there, so we skipped showering and just tossed some towels over our seats to keep the car as clean as possible. When we arrived a couple of hours later, Mark couldn’t believe how covered in color we were! Yep, we were definitely not as clean as we’d started out, but we’d had such a great time!

Color Run 6

Nothing a nice shower and a good scrub wouldn’t take care of!

Color Run 4

Okay, maybe two showers! (I discovered after my first shower that my armpits were still a little blue!)

I am so totally doing this again next year. And probably the best part of it all? I discovered that there is a runner inside of me. And now I just want to push her harder and see what more I can do! Nobody is more surprised than me!

In which I learn that what I want is not always what I need

We are now smack dab in the middle of our three-day weekend and I am loving it. And I have to say this because I didn’t expect to love it.

My husband is working this holiday weekend. And this is not all that unusual. If you know us at all, you know it’s not uncommon for Mark to work weekends. His job requires it of him, every other weekend, holiday or not. This is our norm and for the most part, I am just grateful that he is gainfully employed and able to help keep a roof over our heads, put food on the table, and help the last of the three kids get through college.

Obviously, I would prefer if Mark could enjoy every holiday at home with his family. I don’t feel quite whole when he’s not with us on these special occasions. I tend to feel a bit sorry for myself when it seems like most everyone I know is with their families, celebrating, or relaxing, or escaping everyday life … and we’re not.

I expected to feel let down this weekend. I expected to feel alone and a little bit bitter. Because my husband didn’t have to work this weekend. He chose to work.

Yes, there was a slight lack of communication in which he forgot to discuss this choice with me until it was too late to undo it. And I didn’t have the chance to tell him how much I would hate him making that choice.

I hate to admit this, but I … tend to … maybe be a little bit of a …

grudge-holder.

There. I said it. I’m a grudge-holder. (Hey. Everyone has a fault or two that needs continuous work. This is mine.) And if this weekend ended up being miserable for me, it would have been my own doing. But I made a pivotal choice yesterday morning when Mark’s alarm clock went off at 5:45 am.

As I lay there in bed, trying to go back to sleep, feeling disgruntled about being awakened on my day off, on my holiday weekend, I realized that returning to dreamland was not going to happen. It’s not in my early rising make-up to go back to sleep once I’m awake. Still, I thought I should have at least had the chance to continue sleeping past my norm.

Go out for a run, I said to myself.

I don’t run anymore, I reminded myself.

Well, since you agreed to run the Color Run with your daughter in seven short weeks, it might not be a bad idea to start again, my damn self said to me.

Fine! I’ll get up and go outside, I replied to myself. But I’m not running. I’ll just take Lucy for a walk.

But actually? I did run. Lucy wanted to run. Actually, Lucy always wants to run. And if there’s anyone who can melt my stubborn tendencies, (besides my daughter,) it’s my dog. So we ran. And it was good.

The sun was ablaze and the sky was a gorgeous blue. Flowering Crab Apple trees were in various stages of bloom all along the way and I breathed in deep, enjoying their floral fragrance. My legs weren’t in as bad of shape as I thought they would be and neither were my lungs. And Lucy was my motivation to keep going when I thought I couldn’t. By the time we came back home, I had a new attitude.

After our run and a good drink of water for both Lucy and me, I enjoyed a big cup of coffee with creamer and sat down to write. More therapy for my now significantly less bitter self.

Both Jake and Kacey were up early, and when Jake said, I’m going to make us some Belgian waffles, that sealed it. There’s nothing I love more than a hot, unhealthy breakfast with my kids on a lazy morning. Jake mixed up the waffle mix and I started some bacon in a frying pan. I ate too much bacon and the waffles didn’t come out of the iron in one piece, but it was all delicious.

Later, Kacey helped me do the minimum of cleaning we felt obligated to get done around the house. We watered our new vegetable plants out in the gardens, (we’re hoping to grow our own salads this summer,) and pulled Lucy’s pool out of the shed and filled ‘er up. Then we played with our crazy, adorable dog and laughed as she splashed in and out of her pool and ran circles in the yard under the warm, spring sun. Dogs really know how to revel. I could learn a thing or two from Lucy.

20140524Lucy

When Lucy pooped out after so much activity, we marveled at how cute she was, all curled up and sound asleep on the family room loveseat. Kacey and I headed back out to the patio table on the deck and  “did” our finger and toe nails with some bright pink polish. My coworker, Nick was getting married in the afternoon and Mark and I were going to the reception after he got off work. Thought I might give my fingernails a rare coat of polish to go along with the dressing up I’d be doing for the occasion.

As we sat outside soaking up as much enjoyment of  the day as we could, me polishing Kacey’s nails, she said, I just love this weather. It makes me so happy.

I said, Me too, and I thought, I really am happy. And here I had been all ready to be a pouty mess.

What a gift the day, and my kids had turned out to be. I was all prepared to be in a funk for the weekend, but instead had followed my instincts to make the best of what I had. And it did turn out to be the best. I think every day about how fast the timeline of my life is moving and I realize that I can’t afford to let the precious moments slip away while I dwell on things that aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. Even the wedding reception turned out to be more fun than either Mark or I expected. There was one of those photo booth type of set-ups, and my coworkers and I got in on the fun.

NickWeddingThe rest of this weekend promises to bring more picture-perfect weather. Our good friends, Paul and Megan have invited us out for a night of walking and dining in downtown Stillwater tonight, (historic and fun place). And Mark and I have had a long-overdue conversation about his choice to work. We both agree we should have had a more solid discussion about his plans. And I can now see that he was only trying to do what he thought was best for his employer, his work life and for the family. (After all, there is some serious holiday and overtime pay involved.) I can’t fault him for being a dedicated employee and trying to take care of us. He thought he was doing a good thing. And as a compromise, he will not be working on Monday, Memorial Day after all.

I really couldn’t have asked for anything more. This weekend didn’t turn out like I thought it should, but still, somehow, it has been everything I needed. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. But sometimes, I win the battle against myself. Perspective. It’s all about perspective. And choosing the right one. It’s a lesson I have to keep on learning.

 

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!

Turning the Corner

I had to pull myself out of vacation mode this week and get back into the swing of the usual routine. It wasn’t too painful, except for that first day back to work. My email inbox was overwhelming!

Kacey is home from school this week on spring break. She’s happy for the reprieve from homework and studying. Lucy is happy for the company and for having someone to play with and snuggle her during the day. And I’m happy to see Kacey’s smiling face when I come home from work. She’s kept me entertained with her stories and great sense of humor.

The weather is finally breaking and we can all actually tolerate being outside for more than a few minutes. Our walking paths are clear of snow once again and we can take Lucy for walks. The other night, she was so enthusiastic to be outside the confines of the yard, that she yanked on her leash, pulling Kacey along in her hurry to keep exploring ever further. We had to dodge some pretty large puddles, but it was worth it. The neighborhood seems to be coming back to life.

Spring 2014

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.

Lucy’s Fun Weekend

006b

We always tell her she’s so pretty. I hope she doesn’t get conceited.

Lucy sure was happy to have Kacey home for the weekend. It was the icing on the cake after Lucy had spent the entire past week palling around with Mark, who had taken some time off work to go hunting. Except he didn’t go hunting.  Instead, he did chores around the yard, while Lucy followed him around. And he spent time at his parents’ house doing some chores there too, with Lucy in tow. Lucy loves to go visit Grandma and Grandpa. Knows exactly where the treat cupboard is and how to sucker the grandparents into giving some to her. After treats, Grandma and Grandpa will be sure to shower Lucy with attention and tell her what a good dog she is. They’ll encourage her to go upstairs to look out their bedroom window where she might spot a deer in their backyard.

Kacey came home just in time to take over where Mark and the grandparents had left off in the dog-spoiling department.

Our dog is so spoiled! Did you ever get that sense from the things I’ve written about her? Just in case there was any doubt, I kiss Lucy’s head every morning when I wake up and she comes to tackle me with affection. I snuggle with her and say, “G’morning Sweat Pea! How’s my Sweet Pea?” She nearly wiggles out of her skin and smacks me repeatedly with the vigorous wagging of her tail. (As much as we love her, there’s absolutely no doubt she is pretty fond of us too.) I kiss her head and nuzzle her before I walk out the door for work each day, saying things like, “Mommy wuvs you! Yes I do. Be good girl!”

I’ve been known to hug my dog and tell her, “Lucy, you’re the cutest dog in the whole world! Yes you are!” And then I’ll ask her, “Who loves you the mostest? Huh? Huh? Who loves you best? Huh?”

We all know that the answer to these rhetorical questions is “Mommy,” but when Kacey’s around, she insists on telling Lucy, “Kacey loves you the most! Don’t let her tell you different, Luce!”

To be honest, Kacey does love Lucy pretty intensely. I might have a slight edge with Lucy’s favor, only because I’m here to take her out for walks and share my apples with her on a daily basis. Kacey has the disadvantage of being away at college much of the time. But when Kacey is here, she spoils her dog. She’ll sit cross-legged on the living room floor for the sole purpose of letting Lucy come sit in her lap and be petted for as long as she wants. She’ll stretch out on the floor in front of the t.v. with her fleece blanket, knowing Lucy just loves to come cuddle on a fleece blanket.

Also? Kacey teaches Lucy new games, such as “find the treat.” This is a really impressive game, I have to say.

Lucy knows where her box of treats is stored, and when Kacey opens the closet door to get one, Lucy follows close on her heels, wondering, I’m sure, whether she’ll be asked to sit, speak or shake. It all begins when Kacey tells Lucy, “Sit.”

Lucy sits.

Kacey says, “Stay!”

Lucy stays.

If they’re playing “find the treat, Kacey then walks slowly down the hall toward the three bedrooms while Lucy watches her disappear into one of the rooms. She sits. She stays. But her body quivers while she fights the urge to take off after that delicious treat before she’s given the okay! Meanwhile, the treat is stashed into some hiding spot in a bedroom while Lucy patiently waits. I watched this game unfold last weekend and was seriously impressed that a dog who does not understand the command, “come,” knows to sit and wait for her treat to be hidden. I was also seriously amused to see that Lucy wanted that treat so badly that several streams of drool fell from her mouth as she watched for Kacey to return and give the command to “go get it!”

Really. Like five streams of drool. But she stays. And she waits for Kacey to give her the go-ahead. And then she goes off to find her treat. It could be behind a door, under a bed, or tucked in a corner. In less than a minute, Lucy tracks down and devours her treat.

Late Sunday afternoon, it was time for Kacey to go back to school. Lucy watched as she packed up her clothes and as I packed up food to send with her. Lucy’s disappointment was evident as Kacey hugged her, said goodbye and went out the door.

I felt bad for Lucy on Monday morning. Kacey was back at school. Jake left for work early. Mark went back to work not long after Jake had gone. Soon it was my turn to leave for the office. Lucy laid at the top of the stairs, looking at me with sad, sad eyes. I told her I was sorry and gave her extra kisses and behind-the-ear scratches.

Monday was a long day for Lucy. But all was forgiven as soon as I came back through the door after my work day. I knew it because when I walked in the door, Lucy bulldozed me and licked me to death. Life with a loving dog. I wouldn’t have it any other way.