Long Weekend

I said goodbye to my parents yesterday. The temperatures are dropping and it’s time for them to head for a warmer climate. I got up early and went for a run, then walked over to sit and have coffee while they finished their breakfast and prepared to begin the long drive. My youngest brother will take them to their winter home, spend a few days helping them get settled and then fly back home on Thursday.  My siblings and I don’t always see eye to eye, but I am incredibly grateful that Craig was willing to take on this responsibility.

I seem to be thinking more in terms of the big picture lately. As my sister and I stood in my parents’ garage yesterday, watching my mom get comfortable in the back seat and my brother in the driver’s seat, fiddling with the GPS, I watched as my dad stood next to the open passenger side door. He made one last assessment of the house, glanced up at the sky, taking his time, silently saying goodbye. In my mind’s eye, I saw a panoramic of all the events of the past months. My dad resting in his recliner in the early summer, exhausted after a round of dialysis. My mom expressing all the worry and fear she felt while facing dad’s surgery last summer. My own hospital stay. My dad’s precarious recovery after the kidney transplant. The first day I realized he seemed profoundly better. Watching him snooze in my living room the other day after enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, surrounded by his entire family. I realized that just a few short months ago, I wasn’t sure we would see this day. I wonder if he was thinking the same thing as I was at that moment. We did it. He made it. He’s free to carry on with the rest of his life. Such a bittersweet moment. I miss them already.

Yesterday was a lazy day. I fully intended to avoid Black Friday like the plague and spent most of the day reading and napping. Mark ventured out early and came home with a recipricating saw. Thinking there was some big project in the works, I asked what it was for.

“Cutting stuff.”

Rolling my eyes, I clarified, “No, I mean, do you have something going on that you needed a saw like that right now?”

“Nope. It was just a good deal and you never know when you might need one.”

“Well, in that case,” I replied, “I think I should find myself a pair of cowboy boots.”


“Because you never know when I might need them!”

The saw wasn’t Mark’s only purchase. He couldn’t resist the ten-dollar remote controlled helicopter and brought that home too. He and the kids have had more fun with this thing, which I expected to be broken by now, but it’s still going strong. Money well spent, I guess!



Last night my sister and I went out with her two best friends from high school. We went to see Hairball. I had the best time I’ve had in a long time! It was wall-to-wall people and the dance floor was packed. We squeezed our way onto the floor and danced like maniacs. There was an odd moment when I almost ran into a woman playing kissy-face with her husband. I put my hand out to keep some space between us and the husband looked at me. It was my chiropractor! For a moment I felt like a little kid who sees her teacher in the grocery store. We laughed and chatted for a few minutes, as much as possible in a bar where the music is so loud the floor vibrates. I later ran into his sister who is the office receptionist and she sat down next to me to talk and prefaced everything she said with, “I gotta tell you. I’m drunk!” I can’t wait to see these two at my next appointment on Wednesday!

Today will be spent trying to squeeze in as much togetherness as possible with Brad and my sister and her family before they head back to school and home tomorrow. Sigh! Why do these kinds of weekends always go too fast?

Life is Good – November 28, 2008

All the kidsZ by you.

First, an update on the turkey wars. My turkey, at 21 pounds came out TENDER, JUICY and FULLY cooked. Mom and Dad’s turkey was somewhere around 17 pounds. What happened to the “no bigger than 15 pounds” rule, I wonder? When Mark began slicing into that bird, there appeared some evidence of undercookedness near the bones. We shoved it back in my oven for a while and all was good, but I believe this makes me the clear and decisive WINNER! (Not that I’m gloating or anything…. nooooo.)

We did have a wonderful Thanksgiving. The food was good and plentiful. The desserts were delicious and everyone was made to take some leftovers home. Not only did we eat well, we had a great time. It’s not often that the entire family can get together all at the same time anymore. It made for a very special day. We were very well behaved and proper too.

My youngest brother did this to himself. It was as simple as me daring him to do it. Just like old times!

My brother, the dork by you.

Things got a little out of hand from there and the Cool Whip attacks began…

Only his favorite uncle can get away with this by you.

My niece's turn by you.

Why we were taking pictures in the kitchen, I have no idea.

Why are we taking pics in the kitchen? by you.

Lots of goofiness ensued. The “bend and snap” pictures have been deleted!

My niece, my sis and me by you.

This week I’m feeling so grateful for my family. My dad is doing well and we got to enjoy Thanksgiving together before my parents leave to spend the winter in Arizona. They are leaving today and I am glad that they have someplace warm and a place they love in which to ride out the winter months. I’m thankful for my youngest brother who is going to make sure my parents get to their winter home safely. My sister, brother-in-law and their kids are here from Illinois for the weekend. My sister and I are the best of friends and I love having her here. I miss her so much sometimes. Tonight we’re going out to see a fun local band and whoop it up! My son is home from school for the weekend too and he has filled my days with love and lots to smile about. He’s having a great time living at school and being independent. He’s had a few adventures during the weekends since he moved back to school and he’s enjoying life, but it’s obvious he’s missed being home. He hugs me several times a day and tells me he’s missed me. I’m so glad that he considers home to be a place he wants to come back to.

This weekend always seems to be the last relaxing weekend before the Christmas craze begins. I plan to take full advantage of it and I hope you can too.

Thanksgiving and the Turkey Wars

As the second of four children, I was labeled with some very distinctive labels when I was growing up. These weren’t exactly flattering labels either, I might add. Stubborn. Obstinate. Pig-Headed. Yes, I was the difficult child. I knew how to dig in my heels. I was notorious for not giving an inch.

Some things never change.

I have been nominated to host Thanksgiving this year for the family; All twenty-one of us. I have managed to cook Thanksgiving dinner in the past, and quite successfully, I might add, so I was quite confident that I could handle it again this year. I started planning for everything I would need to cook a killer turkey, with stuffing and a meal with all the trimmings. And all was well until the “suggestions” started coming in.

I was talking with my mom one day when she mentioned that “my dad wanted” to get a smallish turkey which they would cook at their house and that he wanted me to get a smallish turkey as well and cook it at my house. So we would have two smaller turkeys instead of one twenty-some pounder. (In the past we have always had the biggest turkey that could be found and it has served us all, with leftovers.) When I questioned the reasoning behind this request, I was told that the turkey my brother bought last year was not very good. He had trouble getting it cooked thoroughly and it was tough. So it was decided that large turkeys are bad turkeys.

I argued with my mom that in all the years we have celebrated Thanksgiving and purchased the biggest turkeys that could be found, we have never had a bad one. I have cooked turkeys over twenty pounds many times and I told her I was sure I could manage one large turkey just fine. I have no idea why, but I was opposed to being told what kind of turkey I should buy for the meal being cooked at my house by ME! Never mind the fact that what was being offered would make things easier for me. I told my mom that I was still going to buy a large turkey because I wanted lots of leftovers. She agreed. I’m sure she just didn’t want to argue about it.

A few days later, I came home from work and Mark had been over at my parents’ house. He told me my dad had asked him to pass on a message to me. The message was that I should not buy a turkey bigger than 14 or 15 pounds. I thought the turkey argument was settled, but apparently not. (Have I mentioned I inherited my pig-headedness from my dad? He’s the king of the pig-heads. I guess that makes me Princess Pig-Head.) This was starting to get really funny to me, and I started digging in my heels. When we went to the grocery store last week, the freezers were full of frozen turkeys. We started looking through them checking the weights and prices. Mark told me he found one in the fifteen pound range. I announced, “I won’t accept anything less than twenty pounds!”

We were laughing our butts off! WHY? Why was I being so stubborn? I found it immensely funny and satisfying to buy the twenty pound turkey we chose. And now here I am, on Thanksgiving eve, wondering, “What is wrong with me?” Now I have to get up that much earlier, try to wrangle this turkey into the oven roasting bag and roaster pan. And you know I’m going to be cursing and swearing! I was given the chance to let someone else ease my burden and I refused.

I’m digging in my heels again. And this might serve me well in some respects, like running, but in this case it has come back to bite me in the a*s. Somehow I have never learned that giving a little might sometimes be to my benefit! Hopefully all will go well tomorrow and everything will be just fine. Wouldn’t it be just my luck that my parents would end up being right and my turkey ends up being a fiasco? I’d never live it down!

No matter how the meal turns out, what the day is really all about is being thankful. My entire family will be together for the day. We’ll have fun and we’ll get on each others nerves, but that’s ok. (I’ll just have a couple extra beers!) My dad is well. We are all healthy and living comfortably enough and there will be pumpkin chiffon pie and for these things, I am very thankful. 

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger? This damn well better be true!

Ok, let me just say…

This running thing? It is HARD!

So I’ve reached the point in my little training regimen where I am supposed to be running 25 minutes solid or 2 1/2 miles. And I just have to tell you, I’m having a HELLof a time. (I can hear you seasoned veterans giggling. Yes, you people in the back… You 12 MILE runners! Stop that!)

First of all, I am running basically the same route every time and just stretching out the distance every time I need to go longer. And I would love if someone could explain to me why those first five minutes feel like they’re going to kill me. Granted, the first five minutes are on an uphill climb, but shouldn’t this be getting easier? Is this normal? 

So anyway, I make it past the first five minutes and then find my groove. Every time. Five minutes… uphill…. I’m dying… I’m dye-ying… Goodbye cruel world…

Ok, I’m not dying. I’m going to live. I’m in the groove! And I’m traipsing along feeling like Rocky Balboa only without the ugly gray sweats and that drooping lip thing and then it hits me. The WIND! It starts blowing against me and damn it if that doesn’t make me just want to throw in the towel! I’m fighting the wind and cheering myself on. “You can do it! You can do it!” And I do do it. And I’m feeling great and I start thinking about how much my left calf hurts. Why can’t I just not think about that? And why the hell does just one calf hurt? That doesn’t usually happen! Maybe I need new shoes. Abby says I can and should have more than one pair of shoes for running. I try to stop thinking about the ache in my calf and think about what kind of cool new shoes I can buy and it works for a while.

And then round about 17 minutes into the run this little demon thought starts nagging me.

“Wouldn’t it feel good to just walk for a minute? Just for a minute. Just walk a little bit. It’ll feel GOOD!

And I’m mentally fighting off the little demon thought, telling it to “SHUT. UP.” And I’m good for a bit. I keep going. And the demon thought wants to keep arguing with me, so I mentally produce MTAE and Abby to help me silence that little devil. They cheer me on for a little bit, and it works for a while because those two are SERIOUS runners and I can motivate myself by telling myself how embarrassing it would be to poop out in front of the pros. But pretty soon the damn cold wind is not only pushing against me but causing pain in my lungs and Abby and MTAE seem to have disappeared somewhere and damn it… I think I breathed in a few snowflakes.

I gave in and started walking. Just for a minute. I only gave myself a minute. Oh, but it felt good! That’s all I needed was just one minute and then I started running again. I was kind of disappointed but it was only one minute. I can do better next time.

I know what happened. I got too cocky. I was just starting to think how easy this was. Started telling myself I’m a natural and all that, I did. Twenty minutes was easy. Twenty five isn’t such a stretch but it wants to kill me. I’m not going to let twenty five minutes kill me. By the end of the week I’m going to go twenty five without walking and without collapsing a lung.

Twenty eight minutes comes next week. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

8 Things

Kiki tagged me with this one:

8 things I’m looking forward to:

  1. A short work week this week, with 8 hour days instead of 10 hour days, and a four day weekend.
  2. Brad coming home for Thanksgiving.
  3. Seeing my sister, BIL and their 3 kids over Thanksgiving weekend. I haven’t seen them since July.
  4. Baking Christmas cookies with my kids.
  5. Reading the third book in the Twilight series. (I’m waiting for it to come out in paperback.)
  6. Having Brad home for almost a month between December and January.
  7. Jake’s graduation from high school this spring. He has fought so hard to earn an honor that comes so much more easily to many others. He’s almost there! 
  8. Leaving the runner-in-training behind and becoming a full-fledged confident runner.

8 things on my wish list:

  1. That each of my kids will grow up and find the thing that makes them most happy.
  2. That I’ll someday be able to travel and see the world. I want to start with Italy!
  3. That I will write something significant – maybe not significant to the world, but significant and fulfilling to me. That would be enough.
  4. That there would be a cure for my mom’s disease and not merely a slowing of the progression (although I am grateful for this.) I wish she could breathe freely again.
  5. Shoes! I need new shoes and I don’t like much of what’s out there these days. (Ok, need may be putting it strongly. Maybe want is more like it.)
  6. That I will find a way to enjoy and appreciate the winter and not let it get me down like I usually do.
  7. To see the movie, Grand Canyon Adventure at the Omnitheater in the Science Museum of MN. We saw Mysteries of the Great Lakes Saturday afternoon and it was incredible! 
  8. That there is a tropical beach in my near future.

8 things that happened today:

  1. I slept in and woke up with a warm cat snuggled against me. What a great way to wake up on a cold morning.
  2. I had a good hair day! (Men, don’t even try to understand the significance of this.)
  3. I started writing something that may or may not turn out to be something more.
  4. I took a nap.
  5. I went to Target with my daughter and almost stuck to the shopping list, only buying one or two items that were not on the list.
  6. I did a bunch of laundry.
  7. I cooked an awesome chicken and broccoli casserole for dinner. It was a hit with everyone.
  8. Mark and Jake put up the Christmas wreath and the light-up reindeer outside. I didn’t bother to argue that it’s too early.

8 people I’m tagging:

I think not. Steal it if you want to.

Contemplating Mortality

I started contemplating my mortality on the final stretch of my run this morning. Actually, I think all of this started earlier this week. I was called to sub for the Ball Busters on Monday. You remember the Ball Busters, right?

bowling by you.

During our practice round I was having a beer and chatting with one of the other members of the team, Alishea. I knew she was much younger than me but I wasn’t sure of her age.  She was drinking a beer and complaining that she couldn’t believe she didn’t get carded. I asked her if she wasn’t twenty-one yet and she told me she was twenty-two. Old enough to drink but young enough to still expect to be carded. I laughed. I told her in a few years she wouldn’t consider it an honor to be carded. There will come a point when she gets carded and she knows the server is only doing his legal duty, not questioning whether she’s old enough to drink.

Alishea’s sister was sitting at a table. She was just there to watch the game and was talking about her upcoming wedding. Somewhere in the conversation the two girls started debating about their mother’s age. The fact came up that their older brother is twenty six, as well as the fact that he and his wife have a three year old child and another on the way. The debate about their mother’s age continued when the sister said that their mom was born in 1966.


“Your mom was born in 1966,” I asked? They nodded. “She’s forty-two,” I said.

“Oh, yeah,” they both agreed!

“She’s the same age as me,” I told them. “I’m the same age as your mom. I could be your mother!”

The reality sunk in. A woman the same age as me is about to be a grandma for the second time. Of course, she had her oldest child at sixteen, so she had a little head-start. Still, as much as I do hope to be a grandmother someday, I’m not ready yet.

As the week went on, I had somewhat forgotten about how easily I could be a grandmother right now, until I saw Chief Rock Chef’s post about similar thoughts of grandparent-hood. And then during a visit with my mom and dad last night, something my mom said brought those thoughts to the surface again. She told me that Jeff and Karen, my cousin and his wife, had gone to Texas to see Elizabeth, Jeff’s daughter. Jeff is a little older than me. Maybe six or seven years. I’m not really sure.

I was confused. Elizabeth is like five years old, at least in my mind.

“Elizabeth is living in Texas?”

“Yes. She has a new baby boy!”

My jaw dropped and my eyes bulged. I didn’t have to say a word. My mom laughed. “This is her second baby!”

(Obviously Elizabeth has grown up while I kept her at five years old in my mind. Obviously I don’t see or keep up with some of my cousins often enough.) Jeff is a grandpa. It seems like only a few years ago I was tagging along behind the teenage Jeff on their family farm, listening to stories of the trouble he got into with his friends and thinking how COOL he was.

I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the age of grandparent-hood had snuck up on me. I guess a lot of people live their lives and reach this age, wondering where the time has gone; how the years could possibly have passed so quickly. Hell, I’m forty-two  and somehow my kids have become old enough to have babies of their own. (Granted, I’ll smack them upside the head if any one of them makes that a reality any time soon, but it could happen.)

All these thoughts were running through my head as I was trekking through a light layer of snow, heading back home this morning. I am forty-two. My kids are nearing adulthood. I have wasted so much time obsessing over things that aren’t really important. I could have a handful of years left to live or I could have another forty. Have I really been living or have I merely been going through the motions?

It occurred to me that life is all about living, yet many of us don’t actually live.We just do what we think we’re supposed to do. We live our lives afraid to take risks and break out of the mold. We (Ok… I…) spend too much time worrying about what other people think and we try to become just like everyone else. Well guess what? Clones are boring.

When I went back into the house after my run, I plopped down in the family room where Mark was working on the computer, half listening to the television. The t.v. was playing the movie Pleasantville. Have you seen that movie? Great movie. The main message in this movie is exactly what I had just been pondering. Live your life. Break out of your mold. Don’t be afraid to take risks. You are never too old to stop growing, learning and discovering. The people in this movie? They learned how to live.

It’s ironic that I’ve seen this movie many times and the message never struck me like it did today. Maybe I stopped growing and living for a while. I think I’m ready to start again.

(And I think I’m ok with becoming a grandma. I just hope the kids give me a few years first!)

Life is Good – November 21, 2008


As I look back over the past seven days, I’m almost hesitant to admit that it’s been another incredibly calm and peaceful week. I mean, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, but it didn’t make me crazy. I’m confused! Who’s life is this? It can’t be mine! I don’t make it seven days in a row (much less, fourteen) without having some kind of emotional melt-down. In fact, exactly two weeks ago, I was facing the end of a horribly tense and worrisome week. I remember going to bed that night, early, simply wanting to escape. I curled up in a ball and drifted off to sleep. The next morning, something had changed. It wasn’t the economy, or my work situation, or my son’s grades or my husband’s crazy work hours. None of those things that normally weigh on me had gone away overnight. But something had definitely changed. By the end of last week I was very pleasantly surprised to realize how good I had felt all week. I never expected to get a repeat of it.

Oh my gosh! Do you know what this means? I just realized! I have learned to manage stress! Can it really be true? Have I figured out how to stop obsessing about the things over which I have no control? I like this! This is good. This is very good. I am sure this positive shift in attitude can be largely attributed to two things: prayer and running. The running has been good for the body, the prayer, good for the soul. And I don’t want to be overly enthusiastic because I know me. I know that not every day or every week can be this peaceful. But I do hope that the past two weeks have taught me enough that the next time I’m stressing, I won’t try to convince myself, as I usually do, that whatever I am facing means the end of the world as we know it.

That being said, these are just a few of the simple pleasures in my week:

  • Several phone calls from my oldest. He can’t wait to come home for Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to have him here.
  • Looking through family pictures while loading all new photos to my parents’ digital photo frame. (They somehow managed to damage the internal memory. Thankfully the frame accomodates a jump drive. HEY! Remember the pictures of my kidneys? I put one on the jump drive just for fun. I wonder how long it will take them to notice?)
  • The way my daughter confides in me.
  • My husband coming downtown and plugging money in a parking meter, just to spend a short half-hour having lunch with me.
  • My down comforter.
  • A white chocolate mocha.
  • My coworker, Shannon. She and I are SO much alike, it’s not even funny. And she keeps me laughing all day long.
  • Oreo Cakesters
  • This little find that I stumbled across at Target: (and yes, I did listen to it already!) Rick! Sigh!

Have a wonderful weekend, all!