Weddings And All Things Lovely

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This is gonna just be one of those “life” posts.  Because my life is made up of a wee bit more than my athletic adventures, debunking current health nonsense, and offering up sane and practical ways to be fit and healthy.  Sometimes I just want to write about those “other” things.

As in… my first born son will be married in less than 2 weeks!  That my faithful readers, is a big life event for this momma.

Now this isn’t my first rodeo marrying off a child. My middle son will celebrate 2 years married in just a few days. THAT is hard to believe.  In those 2 years of marriage I’ve also received a beautiful granddaughter who turns one in a few weeks.

Will time just slow down already???

But yeah… I have a wedding coming full steam at me and as I write this today I will admit it’s my first round of actual, all out nervousness and that “OMG are we really ready for this?!” feelings.

By nature I’m not prone to that. I’m usually the more focused and in control of my feelings and emotions person. I don’t get all crazy from my nerves ( shhhh don’t ask hubby about that when I’m hours away from a race 😉 )

But today my mind is filled with all the little details and things still being done. My “to be”  daughter in law has been very good with getting stuff done so that’s helped a lot. I’ve tried to work and help her to the best of my abilities.

Team work, right?

Planning a wedding is…well.. a big deal. There are so many details.. but you know…women…. we are into details.

Just ask us to tell a story 😉

So there are flowers… how many and where do they all go. In the church on the tables, off the rafters haha. What will the tables look like ? tablecloths, plates, decorations etc.

What goes in the church? Just the right touches to add to the beautiful old, antique look of it.

Food. Guests want to eat. We got to sample the goods recently and make decisions on that.

Cakes. Oh. We’ve got cake. We might have cake for days afterwards. They will be gorgeous though and oh so tasty.  I hope I have time to enjoy some of it that day.

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Brides dress… all done. Portraits done.

Bridesmaids dresses and tuxes picked out and ordered.

Mother of groom dress. Ordered and hanging in my closet.

It is stunning.

Unlike many who might try to knock some weight off before the big event, I’m over here hoping to maintain my weight so my “custom made fits like a glove” dress still fits like that on the big day.

How many mothers of the groom are heavy into training for a duathlon with a wedding also on the menu?404

All of that aside… I know… it will happen. My nerves will settle, it will be beautiful, and I gain a new lovely daughter in law in the process.

Marriage. I’ve learned a little about it in the 33 years I’ve been married.

Weddings always take me back, make me think, how I’d do it all over again with the same wonderful man.

I don’t mean for that to sound cliché or corny. It’s just true.

You grow and learn so much about each other in a married relationship. You have good times and bad times. I’m thankful our years have been filled with more good than not.

I’m thankful that no matter what, we’ve always respected each other and I think that’s a huge key to a successful marriage. Even if times aren’t great, love and respect are (I believe) huge factors to longevity.

You learn to pitch in together with common goals. work for things you want together, support each other in their own individual passions (I’m serious when I say my husbands support of my athletic and health shenanigans are huge to me) you go through kids ( and some of the literal hell they roll you through) you deal with aging parents and illness and death, finances, job changes, health issues… life stuff people.  Sometimes it isn’t pretty and you want it to just be over already.

Then there are quiet moments of waking up together and talking about the day or savoring that first cup of coffee together.  Special dates and doing those things that matter to the two of you… things that have been born from years of being together… things that are about you, as a couple.  There are the inside jokes and weird quirky things that are between the two of you that you could exchange in a room full of people and no one would get but the two of you.

You learn about the whole “better or worse” thing that you recite in your vows. In all our years together I can honestly say that nothing has ever caused us to use the separation or divorce words.

And don’t you either.

Those are harmful words and should never be thrown around in your anger with each other.

When you make a commitment to love the other, it may mean you love, but you might not always like each other.

If you’re married and deny that, well, I’d call you out on it …’cause well.. it’s true. You’re two individual people, who different ideas, likes, interests, opinions, thoughts etc.

You will never mesh on everything, and you shouldn’t.

There is such a beauty in the differences of individuals who learn to mold and blend those differences together.

I am definitely the fiery, outspoken one of our relationship. He is calm, sees things in different ways and keeps me tethered when I’d go flying off on a tangent on something. ( Ah he tries… sometimes.. I do go untethered haha)

It’s a beautiful balance of give and take. Learning and growing. Accepting and changing.

It’s the beauty of years of lives being blended together in something sacred called marriage.

So as I work, prepare and get ready to watch my first born son become a wedded man my heart desire is for him ( his brother too) to learn these things. To allow large measures of grace to always permeate their marriage, to allow it to be in their relationship as they grow together. To be patient when they might not feel patient. To be loving even if they don’t feel like it. To be understanding of the others weaknesses and flaws. To be a helper and not a taker. To support, encourage, and build each other up. That they will cling to each other in rough times, and learn to appreciate the goodness of simple, daily life and life events. To not sweat the small things and let them go. To not waste time on being mad or arguing because they are wasting time they could love and enjoy each other. To think of the needs of the other before themselves. To live sacrificially.

Marriage is a commitment. A lifelong one. Is it always easy, no. But the beauty of having another soul who knows you inside and out. Good and bad. Knows your sense of humor and what makes you laugh. Who knows those little things that make you smile and who loves to hear about your goals and dreams, someone who is willing to go the distance with you, works with you and desires to be with you, that my friends, is nothing short of priceless.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting back to my to-do list and settling my nerves down.

I’ve got a wedding coming.

 

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Ordinary Kids

ordinary

 

So it’s getting to be that time of year again. Some years, I get to participate, other years I’ve been able to skip it. Those are the years we save our money and our sanity.

What you wonder am I talking about ?

Having the privilege to graduate another child out of school.

The culmination of years of homework, teacher meetings, open houses, class parties, field trips, school projects, peanut butter sandwich lunches, new clothes shopping, tons of school supplies, sleep overs, class birthday parties, band concerts, yearly school pictures, dances shows, football games, fun and unexpected calls from the Principal ( if you have boys you may understand this better 😉 ) early morning practice sessions, after school tutoring, school dances, boy friends, girl friends, college applications, college testing…

Ok.. I could go on… the list of things you do in a child’s school career is rather vast and endless. At times you wonder if you’ll ever get to the end of it.

I can say I’m there. My final one is exiting school and heading into the big world with college in her future.

We’ve ordered announcements, taken final pictures, and done the hundred and one things that seem to come crashing in the last few months of school.

I gotta admit this. She’s the last of my big brood.  By this time I’ve pretty well felt like I could lead parent/teacher night. Or that I could predict with certainty that when I showed up for another year starting in dance, it would be same lines, new year. Or that some things in school just never changed much and it was comforting already knowing the drill on it.

I was the older, smarter more seasoned mom. I figured that in a few years they’d get it too… it takes some moving through the ranks before you learn you can say “no” to things..  😉

By the time my daughter hit Senior status I was pretty much like… “just deliver me the necessary paperwork”.

I knew the drill for it all. Many of teachers through middle and high school had already had the rest of the crew… a new year was like old home week… meet and greet… just another new family face rolling through their room.

Although in all fairness to my daughter, one of my sons had made quite a um…mark… on several teachers going through various grades.. she’d get the “ohhhh… you’re so and so’s sister?”

If you have kids then you may have one of these… the high energy, high maintenance, social, outgoing never slow down, yet charming, kid.

Anyway, thankfully, the daughter child was probably a bit more quiet and laid back than previous brood members who went through.

No matter what the bottom line was this…

Get them through. Get them on that stage wrapping their hand around that cherished diploma.

I swear when middle son walked the stage it was ALL I could do not to stand and cheer and whoop like some wild woman. There were debatable days in his final year I wondered if we’d make it.

Now each class has it own “cream of the crop” the “crème de’ le crème” right? You  know the ones who’ve been marked since first grade to be the Validictorian ? Every kid in the class knows it. They simply accept it as what’s going to be and move on.

Then there’s the whole “class ranking” thing which was making my daughter get all twitchy one day till I reminded her…

“they don’t hang a number around your neck when you walk the stage. No one will know, and honestly, no one cares..”

I reminded her when she’s out in the real world it will be completely irrelevant as well.

Then there’s the whole college thing. The angst of wondering if one will want her… if she will “make the cut” or be found acceptable. It doesn’t help when her friends are collecting admin letters like candy at a parade.

I reminded her that she could only go to one school and she will still get her degree to do what she wants.

In a community that’s big on pushing college it’s a lot of pressure on kids ( and parents) to feel like they need to perform up to some lofty expectations.. who’s.. I’m not sure…

’cause you see I have ordinary kids and it’s ok.

I’ve never tried to make them do things they didn’t want to do.

Support them in their goals and plans, yes. Push my agendas and desires on them, no.

We learned the hard way when we registered my oldest son for a semester of college, paying cash for it so he wouldn’t have any debt. He went like… three times? and then he said something that really paved the way for the rest of the brood yet to come down the college path way…

He said “you never asked me what I wanted to do. IF this was what I wanted”

Ouch. Point made.

Did I consider him any less successful for not jumping on the college boat? Not at all. My son has always had an artistic bend and was in a band. He traveled around the country for months with them. He lived every 19 year old young mans dream… being in a band in a new town every night, living for those moments on stage.  Living in new places and eating off value menus and sleeping folded up in a van driving down highways in the dark of night. He didn’t do that forever. He settled down and works with his brother now in a family business.

Two of my other sons have wanted to pursue college. One went for awhile and then quit to take on a floundering business that he has turned into a success over the past few years.   One is in college right now working on his degree.

But through these years of raising kids and wanting them to find and embrace what their own passion is I realized it’s ok, really ok, for them to be ordinary.

And I don’t mean that in  a plain vanilla way or that they lack value, substance and intelligence because they are all very bright, funny, and clever. They know how to learn and teach themselves things and they are always actively learning.

I mean they don’t have to live someone else’s ideals or expectations or get caught up in the hype with friends and feel like they are somehow “less than” ’cause they perceive the friends are somehow more successful. I don’t need to have them do things to feel validated as a parent.

I saw a T-shirt recently that made me laugh ’cause it’s how I feel so often. It said:

“Worlds okayest Mom”

Maybe I need to buy it. It reminds me I can be me, can be the best mom I can without having to “do it all” or be at every meeting or every event, or get my kids into Harvard.

At the end of the day its about my kids being happy, successful, productive  adults and maybe even a bit, ordinary.

However, if they make an impact in their personal worlds and are decent human beings, I will consider them, and myself, quite successful indeed.

 

 

 

Holidays, Traditions And Memories

It’s that time of year when I find myself in my pantry taking inventory. No, I’m not  extremely obsessed with what’s in there or making sure no one has found my hidden stash of chocolate ( admit it, you have a stash too 😉

It’s honestly to check out what baking ingredients I have or still need before I get ready to start all of my Christmas baking and candy making for the season.

We just wrapped up Thanksgiving where I  made a variety of pies and an amazing Pecan Pumpkin cheesecake.

Christmas will be all kinds of cookies, some new recipes, but mostly old, tried and true ones that have been in my family for awhile that everyone looks forward to.

For me, the traditions of the season mean as much as anything else to me. I love that my kids have been raised with certain things that as adults, are now traditions to them. My son is now interested in carrying on similar traditions with his children.

Last week I was whipping up some pumpkin pies, using a batter bowl that had been my grandmothers. She has been gone since 1994, but I know that piece from my childhood, remember her using it.

 

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When she passed away, my mom naturally inherited all of her things. She stashed the “old” dishes away saying she had seen them her entire life and wanted to use different  dishes.

When my mom passed away two years ago, the task fell on me to begin sorting through items in her house. Of course the first things I brought home were some of my grandmothers now “old” dishes.

Now long worn with wear, sporting some chips and an occasional crack, to me they reflect life, use, and the service to family. They reflect a time gone by. Family who is no longer with me today. Memories. Traditions. Shared experiences. Life.

Using these items somehow makes me feel more connected to my mom and grandmother.

I will admit, this time of year, from about October thru the New Year is hard for me since my Mom loved the entire “holiday” season. She loved the baking and freely shared her talents with so many people. She worked so hard to make the holidays enjoyable not just for her family, but those she encountered in her daily life.  I miss her plotting and planning with me for our big family meals, her festively wrapped packages, and childlike enthusiasm for the season.

Being in the kitchen is just a way I feel connected to her during this time. Using dishes that have been passed along are just a soft touch for me to keep my Mom, grandmother, and memories alive in my mind.

It’s my hope to share, teach and inspire the young women in my family to carry on the traditions for upcoming years and generations for their families.

What traditions do you have in your family during the holidays? Have you started new ones or do you carry on ones that have been in your family for a long time?

Below you’ll find the traditional pumpkin pie recipe I use each year.  Enjoy!

(1) 9 inch pie crust. ( homemade or a defrosted all ready crust)

2 eggs, lightly beaten, (1) can 15oz. Solid packed pumpkin, 3/4 c sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, (1) can 12 oz. undiluted evaporated milk

Prepare pie crust, mix filling ingredients in order listed. Pour into crust. Bake in preheated 425 oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350. Bake an additional 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary cover edge of crust with foil to prevent burning.

Cool and garnish as desired.

 

 

Oh Baby!

“We interrupt the usual programming of health, fitness, cycling, running, and all things athletic for this important message….”

So this is just gonna be a fun post. Let’s call it a life event post. You know those cool things that happen in life that you want to celebrate and rejoice over?

It’s baby time in our family. Actually, it was baby time last Monday as my son and his wife were delivered of their beautiful baby girl, Trinity Ally, who made her entrance into this crazy world.

I really am having a hard time grasping she’s here since it honestly seemed like yesterday that we got the excited news from them.

And October seemed sooooo far away…

So when the news started coming to me that a baby would be arriving sometime Monday and as I made my way to the hospital, I had some time to think and reflect on all that was happening.

I mean as far as babies being born and all that, it happens every day, and has for a zillion years.

Circle of life and all that, right?

But it’s not every day that babies come into my family so that well, makes it a big deal.

I guess one of my thoughts was… how can my child already be a grown man having a baby?

Oh, I did my baby time. I was fortunate to have three beautiful sons with easy pregnancies and deliveries.  I loved the process. I loved nursing them and those sweet, precious baby days in the weeks following the deliveries.

The days seemed long in front of me before I would have to worry about them being a grown up and having their own children. I had well meaning people tell me to appreciate and enjoy them because it would go so fast. Yet, when you’re caught up in the day in and day out moments of raising them somehow that all seems so very, very far away.

Yet here I was in this moment as I waited for the arrival of his daughter. Years rushing by in my thoughts and ponderings.

I was getting ready to put the “grandmother” hat on again ( this would be my 4th one) time to get into the present…

My daughter in law had pretty much sailed through her pregnancy glowing and beautiful, staying slim with her little baby belly, and embracing the journey of carrying her daughter.

My son, well, was a total goof with her most of the time watching him pet her tummy and wait for the baby to move under his hand. He was so fascinated with the entire process it amused me watching him.

By the time I arrived at the hospital her labor was progressing well and we were all excited at the prospect of baby girl arriving later that evening.

I said 10 pm. I also said 7lbs….

as deliveries go, we stayed and hung out with expectant momma till she was ready to be alone and then we retreated to the waiting room to… well.. you know… wait.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long when we started receiving news that little baby Trinity had made her arrival.

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In the nursery after, I couldn’t help but pet her tiny foot.

 

 

At 9:55 p.m. weighing 6.14.

WHY didn’t we have a betting pool?? I woulda won! Hahaha

Of course, knowing she was there and having to wait while they did everything that needed to be done with mom and baby… was hard!

But finally, I got my moment to go back to the room.

What is there about entering that room when a baby has been born that’s almost hallowed and sacred?

A new life. A process as old as time yet, as miraculous and beautiful each time it occurs.

More beautiful when you’re gazing upon your child’s, child.

Tiny baby girl laying on her glowing mothers chest, I’m not sure there is anything more lovely, or overwhelming.

After months of watching her move actively in her mother, she was here.

Tiny, beautiful,  perfect and healthy. She also has a good set of lungs 😉

I know I swallowed twice to keep my wits about me.

I teased my son about surviving the birth process. His accounts of things later would have us all laughing. There had been a common joke about worrying he’d pass out on the floor…. 😉

Yet, like all new parents, they had made it through the process, basking in the glow of a miraculous experience.

I think, the thing that almost overwhelmed me was when my daughter in law asked me to take her off her chest and swaddle her. It was then made known my son hadn’t held her yet as she had been on mom since the birth.

Swaddling that baby, and then placing my child’s ( child ) in his arms was one of the most precious things I’ve ever done.

Yes birth is a process as old as time yet, still so mysterious, magical and always amazing to see a new life ready to unfold full of promise and dreams.

And most of all in it, this gentle reminder,

 

baby-gods-opinion

 

The Step Parent

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Christmas 1998 with my dad

 

 

Heads up. This is a “life” post. Don’t worry… we’ll return to healthy eating, fitness, my current cycling adventures, food, and other interesting topics soon….

This past Sunday we  celebrated Fathers Day in the U.S. It’s a day celebrated each year on the third Sunday in June to honor the men in our lives.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by some pretty awesome men in my life, from my inner circle, to those I interact with out in the world.

The man in the picture is my dad. It’s obviously, not, a current photo of me. My mom dated it ’98 on the back. I found it digging through some old photos that she had. Honestly, I have no memory of that picture being taken.

I was a young mom and according to the year my boys would’ve been between 4-10 years old.

No laughing at my mom jeans and bangs.

Christmas has always been a fun, celebratory event in our family. My parents delighted in it and loved giving way more than anything they’d receive. Not only did they always bless us with a fun Christmas, they’d also find a needy family or two to help out. My mom always wanted those families to experience Christmas like she gave to her family.

My dad was the handwriting for “Santa” for way longer than my kids probably bought into it. He loved doing that, it was his job he knew he was expected to do each year. He’d get the name tags ( ask again how to spell everyone’s name haha) and get to work on his project.

Maybe I should pause here to mention… he’s technically… my “step” dad.

I never use that term unless, for some reason I have to clarify something in my life and using the “step” part helps to do that.

My feelings…on referring to anyone as “step” something? I don’t like it.

To me it says… keep your distance, I don’t want you to close, you aren’t worthy enough to not have the “step” attached to it, you aren’t as good as the original etc etc

Now don’t crucify me if you don’t agree. I know all situations are different for people but for the sake of (me) in my family, I have always tried to just include everyone as a part without making them feel separated out.

So, he’s technically my “step” dad. He came into my life when I was 19, almost 20, and about to be married.

I had passed the point of needing a dad. I had two men in my life who had that job and both had walked out on me and my family.

My birth dad left my family when I was 8 for another woman.

My mom later remarried and this man “adopted” us. When I was 17 he walked out.

When this new guy ( step dad #2 ) came around, I was a bit jaded to male figures in my life at that point as “dad”.

Hear me out on this… I’ve made my peace a long time ago with it all. I’ve not allowed it to define me or make me bitter or angry. I’ve not carried it along with me as baggage. I’ve not held onto hurts that I can take out and pet when I’m feeling sorry for myself. Like all things in life, I believe it has strengthened and defined me as a woman. It is what it is, I can be bitter or I can deal with it and move on and that’s what I’ve done.

Oh of course, years ago, I did ask all the questions. I did ponder the “whys” of it. I did wonder why two men didn’t wanna stick around in my life.

I asked all the hard questions. I got answers for some things, some I didn’t.

And I let it go. Nothing would change what was.

My “step” dad.

He married my mom the year after I was married.

He never tried to set himself up as my dad. As an adult, I called him by his first name from day one.

His personality was a bit gruff, rough and stoic. He didn’t often reveal a lot about himself. He had his own quirky things that we all came to jokingly love and tease about.

Rough and not sometimes “polished”, he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He would help you if you had any need.

As the years went by and he was still around, he just did those things dads would do.

If I had car problems, I called and he’d come rescue me. If I needed help with anything, he was willing to do what he could.

When my husband was in school and things were tight I can remember him and my mom dragging bags of groceries in telling us “they had been at the store and just thought we might need a couple things”

When we started having babies, he always wanted us to have what we needed. He loved picking things out for them.

He bragged on me to anyone who would listen. Even now, with his memory slipping away, one of his caretakers told me one day when I stopped…. “Oh, you’re the runner. I’ve heard all about you”

Life just settled into routine and the years went by…

He was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimers a few years before my mom passed away.

They celebrated 30 years of marriage shortly before  her death ( 2 years ago) then the  mantle of “Caretaker” fell on my shoulders.

It has not been easy watching this disease take a horrible toll on him. It is heartbreaking when he asks if it’s ok to use things in his house… or if it’s REALLY his house.

I have to remind him to eat, tell him he needs to take off his shirt before he puts on another one otherwise he will have “layers”, and try and convince him it’s not winter, but summer and he doesn’t need to wear heavy coats.

Looking at photos this passed weekend, he saw some of my mom, and when asked who she was he said… “your mother”…. yet… was unable to come up with her name.

He has days when he’s almost like himself and those are nice. I’ve just gone through “hell week” as this past week was awful with him being angry, temperamental and very uncooperative.

Those days are draining. They make me feel helpless. Tired. Overwhelmed.

I sometimes don’t know which way to go and what to do. I feel a heavy level of responsibility to make sure his needs are met in the best way possible.

He doesn’t always know it, but I’m what he’s got. I’m his advocate.. standing in the gap and fighting for him….Some days I feel so inadequate.

That’s often what you feel like as a parent isn’t it?

Somehow, our roles have been reversed. I try and give him the freedom and dignity as the grown man he is, while remembering mentally, I’m dealing with someone more childlike and have to guide and protect for his best interests.

So, we celebrated Fathers Day yesterday.

He may or may not have totally gotten what the entire day was about.

He may or may not have read and understood the cards or the writing on them.  He may not be able to retrieve the memories in the photos that were shared with him or the names of people. They could be lurking in his mind like ghosts of yesterday or play out like stories from another life in his mind.

32 years have gone by since he entered my life. Those years have contained all the things that make up our lives…. from the normal mundane, to the fun and exciting, the sorrows, and joys, laughter and tears… he’s been there.

So yeah, I dropped the “step” thing a very long time ago. At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, it’s simply about being family, isn’t it?

And family is anyone, I believe, who we bring into our lives to embrace and accept as such.

Happy Halloween

Happy halloween

Happy Halloween =)  Time for ghosts and goblins and all things cute… and candy… free candy….as much as you want depending on your endurance and patience to hike house to house getting single or sometimes, double pieces at a time.

Let’s face it… the best and coolest places give out real chocolate 😉

Oh wait… hold on… I’m like… an adult now…. do I get to participate ??

Haha I still love having a costume and heading out with my kids… and they are all pretty much grown but I can still tag along ’cause now I’m in grandparent status.

I will shamelessly admit I still love dressing up. I love costumes and all things fun. I figure there are enough people in the world holding down the “sane, sensible adult category” I don’t need to  take up space there 😉

So yeah… costume ready… and I do get to fish some good prizes outta the kids treat bags so it’s a win/win.

But I got to thinking…. hang with me if you will….  I was getting a little nostalgic thinking of Halloweens past and trick or treating when I honestly WAS a kid.

Times seemed simpler. The day seemed longer. There weren’t so many of the worries and concerns there are today. There weren’t crazy stigmas tied to it. You got to make tissue ghosts and spiders and have real Halloween parties in school before it became generically “fall” themed.  It was just a fun time to dress up in cool costumes and roam the neighborhood hoping to get enough candy to carry you over till Christmas.

My younger childhood was spent in a classic low key typical neighborhood where all the kids roamed and hung out at various houses all year long. Even as a kid I got that it was a pretty comfy thing. On Halloween though it was always fun because the neighbors went all out to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. There was an older lady down the street who made real, honest super sweet popcorn balls. They were awesome. There was never even a hint we shouldn’t eat them. She was like the resident grandmother of the group. My Mom of course, cookie baker, as well as making those crazy red candy apples that threatened to break your teeth. Honestly, I never did like them. I love caramel ones though.

Costumes of course were simple affairs crafted by whatever you could pull together laying around the house. My brother and I were skilled at coming up with stuff…. and of course our Mom had to be dragged into it also. My poor brother, bless his heart, would pretty much go along with whatever hair brained ideas I came up with.

We would head out at dusk, orange plastic pumpkins with happy smiley faces in tow. The plan? Have them full before we returned home for the evening… or until our mom made us stop 😉

I don’t know why those evenings took on that “spooky” kinda feeling, but they did. You know…. where you spent time looking over your shoulder ? worried something might pop out and grab you ?  Mom always said we shouldn’t worry ’cause whatever grabbed us would soon return us haha

kids halloween

One year we had hit up a small one floor apartment complex. It was perfect….just seamless moving from one door to another collecting our sugar high.

Until…. this small, evil, yapping Chihuahua came outta nowhere and started chasing us. ( seriously I think they have “little dog” syndrome. Must they all be so nasty?) My brothers pumpkin went flying, I bolted, that dog seemed like it was everywhere….candy flying…some screaming… the owner running after it yelling… “Frito! Come here!”  ( yes. Frito)

We managed to get his pumpkin and then made a quick exit out of there. Thanks dog for ruining a good thing… but we weren’t up to wrestling with that demon anymore.

Those nights were a time of laughter and fun and high expectations. My brother and I would head home, dump out all the candy, set aside the ” not so desirable” fare and re-bucket the “good stuff”. There was the inevitable trading off for our favorites from each other.

Simple times that go by to fast. Actually, simple times that are lost and gone in todays world.

Maybe it’s just fun to me to still appreciate it on some level…. “Adult” or not. Actually in some ways, it’s more fun as an adult…. although…. the neighbors kinda frown when you show up on their door step looking for free chocolate 😉

What fun Halloween memories do you have ? Do you still like dressing up for it ?

trick or treat

Things My Mom Taught Me

My mom passed away last year in the early morning hours of April 24, 2014. I won’t ever forget the day she quietly stepped out of this world as it was also my daughters 16th birthday.

I miss her.

I miss her sometimes in ways that crush my chest and leave me feeling breathless. There are moments I still can’t believe she isn’t with me. Grief is a weird animal and yet, another blog I have yet to write on. I think perhaps, in a way, I’m still kind of afraid to sit down and write about it. I don’t like pain but I also understand there is healing in pain too.

Ah well dear reader in another moment I will feel up to tackling that topic because I know there isn’t a person on this big planet who won’t walk through the avenue of grief at some point in time.

But for now… for this post… I’m reflecting on things my Mom taught me. Maybe in a way, some type of tribute to her for what she invested into me and my life.

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Circa…. mid teen’s…….

Her first born and only daughter ( my brother would come along 15 months later) we shared a close bond and enjoyed many similar things. She was always proud of me and supported me in everything I did. I can’t tell you the times I’d show up at the hospital and some member of the hospital staff  (whom I’d never met) would see me and say… “you’re that marathon runner, aren’t you?” My mom had pics of me running hanging in her room and she took every opportunity to tell a new victim  person about my activities.

Marathon running ( and training) of course requires a tremendous amount of strength, physically and mentally. I learned a lot about being strong from my mom.  I am grateful in the last few months of her life I was able to recognize that strength in her in a new way and see how I had been blessed to have that as a part of my makeup. I don’t mean strong physically, although I am, I mean the deep strength of a woman who goes through difficulties and can stand under them. One who learns to move through the storm and grow in the process. A woman who chooses to keep seeing good and joy even in the face of hardship and difficulties.

A woman who makes a choice to fight back and not curl up and die. Strength. My mom embodied that and I’m grateful to be molded in a similar way.

Moving into fall and the approaching holidays makes me miss her more acutely ( I encountered this last year) the changing of seasons and upcoming festivities reminds me how much she loved and embraced all activities from now through New Years.

I’ve missed her enthusiasm and planning of dinners and activities. The plotting of menus. The brainstorming over gift ideas. She approached the “holiday season” with a childlike enthusiasm.

So I’ll start with this… she put a love in me for all things holiday. With the first crisp of fall air pumpkins, scarecrows and her homemade pumpkin bread showed up. Thanksgiving was always accompanied with some new recipe she wanted to try and her “gifting” was to deliver pies to suit every tastes for each person who would be there.  When I say they dragged like, 12 homemade pies over to my home, I’m not exaggerating. Last year her gifting was sorely missed. I bake but don’t put the spread of pies out like she loved to do.

Christmas? Oh my goodness. It was a time to bless not only her family, but anyone in need she could find. Christmas was (is) about giving, sharing and family. She baked goodies to share with everyone she had connections with. Our home was always decked out ( no wonder I’ve grown up and my home is always all dressed up. Imagine my shock when I learned not everyone went through such effort to celebrate)

Special cookies. Stockings gently used from years of being hung with care. The anticipation of Santa’s arrival.  Putting cookies out. Late night Christmas eve service. The picking of just the “perfect” tree. ( to this day… I want a big one. I have 12ft ceilings so why not ??) The lights. Evergreen. The Nativity set carefully arranged honoring Christ’s birth. The old cardboard village with the ( lead!)  Barclay Santa and skaters nestled around it (this is my FAVORITE Christmas display which I’ll share in another post) Every area with something tucked into it.

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Mom and I our last Christmas together December 2013

My kids have grown up loving it and their friends have viewed it as going to a Christmas shop at times 😉 It makes the work all worth while. There’s something magical…. and that is the thing I guess my mom ( and grandmother) gave to me and I’m glad to give it to others.

I do so many similar things… traditions. Traditions that now my grown children want to do… there is something satisfying in that. Traditions involve family and a sharing of events that have been passed along from each generation.

She taught me how to invest into my family, my husband, to cook, bake, sew, keep a home, artfully arrange flowers, and make beautiful things. To be a cheerleader and encourager. I learned a Mom keeps things spinning.

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My wedding, 31 years ago. Can I mention, she made my amazing dress? And did my flowers ?

Random things were meant to be celebrated. A good report card? It was Friday? Nailed a new job ? Successful on a test or something challenging? Whatever… there were simple moments that were worth something celebratory.

She modeled loving sacrificially in marriage. She went through many difficult things with my dad, one of the biggest was his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s a few years ago. She would share some things with me about dealing with him but as a mom, I know, sheltered me. Since I’ve had the responsibility of caring for him in this last year I see some of what she dealt with and feel bad I didn’t really understand to offer her more support in the difficulty of what she dealt with.

She taught me as a mom, that a mothers love is bottomless and that no matter what she was always there. Even in her last days she was concerned about some difficulties I was currently going through and insisted I talk about it. I miss being able to share those things with her.

She taught me how to love and be loving. How to give freely and from whatever I have.  To be generous and selfless. To be kind to others.  I learned to be content with what I have because if you aren’t content, then you are ungrateful for all you do have. I learned about working hard for what you want and not having an attitude of expecting to have things handed to you.

She told me about God and faithfully took me to church. She put me in a place that in the years to come would allow me to move into my own relationship with Him. She taught me how to love and trust Him.

She taught me to embrace life and that every single day we are given is a pure, sweet gift. She encouraged me to see the beauty of the world around me and always pointed me to the fact we had a Creator who had fashioned all we see.

On being a woman… she taught me things that I value so much now….

How to be a lady. To act classy. To stand up straight ( in my …younger years… I hadn’t embraced or become confident in my 6’0 frame and sometimes tended to…slouch) I’m grateful I learned how to carry myself with confidence thanks to her “encouragement” 😉

She taught me to be proud of myself and my accomplishments and to always keep trying no matter what.

I was raised to be polite, courteous, and respectful.  On the flip side, I was also taught to stand up for myself and take nothing off of anyone.

I learned how to use makeup so I enhanced my looks without ( in her words) “looking like a clown”. I was schooled in the wearing of high heels so I didn’t “clop along like a girl who fell off a tractor” haha (My mom always had some lovely visual illustration to use)

let me tell you… today….I can rock a pair of high heels like no ones business… thanks mom…..

She often reminded me that being a woman, wife, and mother required some time to step away for myself and that was an ok thing to do.

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A Sunday afternoon hanging out. Me most definitely pre-transformation days…

My mom was an amazing,strong, passionate, loving, generous and giving woman. I’m so blessed to have had her and her influence for almost 50 years of my life.

I do miss her tremendously. However, if somehow, I can carry on and share the things she taught me, her life will continue to live on as well.

And hey… if you still have your mom.. right now… call and tell her you love her and thank her for what she’s taught you.