Zipping Our Way Through (really AT) the Natural Bridge Caverns

In sticking with my goal of doing SOMETHING new (as often as I can) once a month I decided to use Father’s Day as one of those opportunities. WIth only two of my three kids here I figured it couldn’t hurt. We’ve all been doing the same thing every day for a while now…maybe it was time to shake things up a bit.

It started out easily enough. Went online and made the reservation at www.naturalbridgecaverns.com . Picked the day, picked the “adventure”, time slot, and boom: Father’s Day plans MADE.

I bought a Go Pro two years ago and had never actually used so I thought this would be a great time to start. I charged that sucker right up, after YouTubing it to figure out how, and we were all set.

I decided to go with the zipline only because I really didnt want to push this very out of shape body and it was cheaper. Turns out to get to the ziplines you need to use those bridges anyway so I was really glad I had gone that route. First time admitting I was out of shape paid off; financially, anyway.

Once there, we were directed to a landing place outside where we were put in straps and hook-y things and were sent on our merry way. Boy, things have changed since the last time I took my kids in about 2001! It’s beautiful! The grounds are STUNNING.

I will admit; it looked A LOT higher up close and personal. A LOT HIGHER and I definetly wasn’t thrilled that CHILDREN were making sure I wasn’t about to plummet to my death but I am here to write about it so I guess you can tell that it all ended well..

I apologize in advance for the REALLY crappy video. Did I mention it was my first time using it????

So we make it up the almost playscape like stairs and get ourselves hooked into the railing. Then you walk onto a platform and just keep walking – even after the platform ends. 

Needless to say; it started out sorta rocky but by the end we were old pros. Aside from my Go Pro falling off my chest strap and plummeting to the ground (it survived, btw) everything else went pretty well… and now I want to go to Costa Rica! I mean, it’s practically the same thing, right. 🙂

My Words of Wisdom as Klari Graduates from College (Hook ‘Em)

Well, baby, here we are. College graduation. I’m sure it comes as no big surprise that I’ve got a few things to say. And because you know how I’m wired on the inside, you also know i’m a bundle of emotions, so bear with me.

Now I know you’re happiest when you’re not the focus of, well, anything. I totally understand why you feel that way. You and I are different. While I am totally fine with showcasing my craziness, you are not.. I get it, I really do. And that’s why I’ve always tried to respect your request to stay under the radar. Until today. Today a momma’s gotta do what a momma’s gotta do. I have very few occasions left to share all this unused wisdom rolling around in my head so I have to take them when they come…

Now there are dozens of things I could talk about here and it’s been a challenge to think of just the right way to explain what I’m feeling as a mom, watching you teeter between the start of your true adult life but still being my baby- because, like it or not- you always will be.

I could talk about all the pride I feel about everything you’ve accomplished academically you’re entire life. Like registering yourself for college courses every summer since the 8th grade. (Who does that?) But I won’t. That would be too predictable and a little too braggy and you’d kill me in my sleep if I did that publicly. 🤪 (like how I did that)

I could share how beautiful it’s been to watch you strike out on your semi-own and live and thrive and manage your time and money and your life and relationships with ease.. But I’m not.

I could tell you how proud I am of all the ways you’ve inspired me with your no nonsense attitude and the crazy amount of self discipline you have, But I’m not gonna go there either.

There’ll be no long, drawn-out soliloquy about how I just don’t know where all the time has gone. Or how it seems like just yesterday you took your first steps or how I cried and you didn’t when I dropped you off at every first day of school until you could drive yourself.. then I just cried at home. ..Nope! I’m not going anywhere near any of that.

And I’m also not interested in talking about the grades on your transcript or your plans after this because that’s your story to tell.

What I’m most focused on at this very moment is who you’ve become since you started this journey, what you’re walking away with on the inside. That’s what’s filling up my heart today and what I really really want you to know. It’s what’s giving me the greatest sense of pride.

To me, it’s all about your willing and ableness to discover your best self. How you’ve learned how to engage with all the people around you and still find your own unique place in this crazy world. It’s about the leaps of faith and risks you took by experimenting with things like majors and friendships and politics and social justice; and the pivots you made when you knew a direction didn’t feel right. It’s how you found that great big voice I knew was in there, how you learned to speak up for injustice and political awareness; even though our views weren’t always the same. Those are the big takeaways as far as I’m concerned and the reasons why I know you’re ready for what comes next. The journey you have been on these past 18 years hasn’t always been easy. On the contrary, it’s been stranger than any of us could have ever even imagined. You started it right before a hurricane was to make landfall and ended it in the middle of a pandemic. To call you, all of you,resilient would be an understatement of gigantic proportions. And yet somehow, in a world that often overwhelmed even the strongest of people, you dug down deep and found a fortitude that kept you moving forward.

So, as you get ready to walk the walk all I really want to do here is say thank you. Just thank you. Thanks for taking all these chances on yourself and believing that the sky is definitely the limit. Thank you for being willing to fall and fail and screw it all up before you got it right. Thank you for doing exactly what any parent hopes their kid does with this experience and letting me watch, even if it was from a distance. Now go do all the same stuff for the rest of your life.I love you to the 🌙moon 🌙 and 🌎back🌎.

Mom

The Family We Choose

We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve celebrated our successes and mourned our defeats. We’ve sat back and watched in amazement at the strength we often didn’t know we had- and we’ve picked each other up when we just didn’t think we could go on any longer. Our kids have fought and made up, spent countless weekends together and then gone months without talking at all….but when one (or all) of them is needed- they’re there without hesitation. I’d like to think that’s something they learned by our example. 🥂Cheers 🥂 to our little tribe. May it continue to blossom and multiply (but not for another 5 years, at least) and may we one day be able to get just ONE decent picture in.

Kickin’ Axes – April

My To Do List of 2021 included doing one new thing a month. Since I started the list late it makes sense that this action item would start late, as well..

Going home for a few days with my daughter led to the discussion about what we should do and she suggested this place. I am not the best at ANYTHING physical but it was definitely new so I made the reservation.

We got there and everyone was totally gracious. They explained the process, the rules, etc.. then they tell us we can bring our own alcohol. Axes AND alcohol??? What could possibly go wrong? Lucky for us; NOTHING!

Before we even officially started I threw one out “for fun” and actually made it right on the bullseye. It was clearly a lucky shot because I never did it agin. AND I WAS THE ONLY ONE!

Doesn’t matter though, because we still had a ton of fun.

Now it’s probably not something I would be in a hurry to do again anytime soon but I am glad I did it at least once. And this is sorta the point of all of this, right…

To Do List of 2021

I tried this last year and sucked at it just as badly as I did in 2018. I can blame the pandemic, because, let’s be honest, it’s affected EVERYTHING but, in reality, I just haven’t put much effort into the “little things”. However, on the eve of my 49th birthday I’m thinking it’s time… definitely not getting any younger so I should probably get to it.

This cakes journey was about as complicated as my own and is, actually, the best representation of my own life I could have ever imagined. Slightly crooked on the outside, a little messy, but pure joy on the inside.

So here goes – my To Do List of 2021. And yes, most of these are a rollover of last years..

  1. Finish up that gun class I took and actually learn how to use one. My darn license is about to expire and I still haven’t done anything with it. When that is done, I want to PURCHASE a gun of my own. Who knows where this life of mine will take me and I really need to learn to take care of myself.
  2. Learn how to meditate – like for real, the right way – the kind where my soul actually leaves my body and does my body and my mind some good. For some reason, maybe age, I feel like I need this more than ever now. There is something in me that just doesn’t feel “settled”.
  3. Take a photography class. I absolutely love my camera and I love some of the things I can do with it but there is still so much more to learn. So starting today; it will go with me EVERYWHERE I go. And I will learn to use it PROPERLY
  4. Visit one new place (city, town, museum, are gallery – ANYTHING) at least once a month. This one is a must. It will be good for me, my art, my photography, and most importantly, give me something to write about. Which leads me to my next “to do”.
  5. Keep up with this blog. It’s here – why not?
  6. Pay off my Target card. Lasy year I said that odds were slim. Since they closed it on me; my chances are starting to look up.
  7. Visit the Selena Memorial Museum… don’t laugh, it’s real!
  8. Stay at a Bed and Breakfast 
  9. Visit that Ice Castle Spa place
  10. See Magnolia Silosdone! In 2020 but whatever, it counts..
  11. Indoor Sky Dive

Yes, this is a pseudo miniature bucket list and all of these are on my actual Bucket List but I’m all about breaking down the little things into smaller, attainable goals..

So here goes.. let’s get started.

Magnolia Silos, Shopping, and Cupcakes

An impromptu trip to Branson led to an even more impromptu stop at the Silos.

Now this place has been on my yearly Things to Do List for several years now and in November of 2020; I finally got to go. Best part; it was completely unexpected!

The stop started out routinely enough… the silos were exactly as I expected. Rustic, but really…. pretty.

The store was open so, of course, I HAD TO SHOP. Things were decently priced; which in all honesty, was a very pleasant surprise. I picked up a lounger set, I mean, I’m not wearing much else in these days of quarantine, and the customary Christmas ornament.

The bakery, however, had to be the highlight of the trip. Not only did the line wrapped around the building go by quickly (they must be trained by the same people from CFA) but they let me take my Kobi in and the cupcakes were UH-MAZING!.

We went and sat out in the amazing courtyard and talked about all things JoAnne. Only SHE can make shiplap – a word I am not only know well but am really in Love with – look amazingly fabulous. I mean, the woman is a damn SAINT. And one of the few people I actually aspire to BE -but will settle for a 2 second meeting!

Bottom line; I will be back, often, and if you ever get the chance to visit.. TAKE IT!

Words of Wisdom (and somewhat cheesy quotes) to Dylan as he turns the big 2-5!

I am sure by now you would think I would have run out of things to tell you since I have already said SO MUCH but there are still so many lessons (so, so, so many) to be learned.

1. You’re A Quarter-Of-A-Century Years Old! (May as well get the cheesiness out of the way now.)If you had asked me how you’d feel about that phrase a few years ago I would have said that you’d find it exactly for what it is; just an overused line found in, just about, every birthday card out there. Today however, I think you might find it as still over rated but, definitely, true. While yes, you are now THAT old and THAT much time has passed and you might feel some anxiety creeping in about what you THOUGHT you would be doing by now and what you are ACTUALLY doing; it, by no means, indicates that it’s too late to do ANYTHING you set your mind to. Want to develop that app you’ve been talking about FOREVER? DO IT. Want to travel the world? (save YOUR money) and DO IT. It is NEVER EVER EVER too late to do and be anything you want to do and be. EVER.

2. Believe in yourself. Go ahead and roll your eyes… I know that it is so much easier said than done but it’s true. Nothing can happen if you dont believe that it can. Look back at all the things you have accomplished and all the memories you have made and let it all sink in. Maybe even smile for bit.. And if you have trouble doing that, then just look at the pics I attached. You’ve made amazing memories with your best friends, with us, and with Paige and figured out most of the basics of adulting -round of applause for getting (and using) your own health insurance- and give yourself a big pat on the back. Think back to all the nights you sat out there with your friends planning out this amazing life with so much confidence and certainty and not an ounce of doubt and then apply those feelings to everything you do from here on out.

3. Let sh$t go… Whether it’s your birthday or not, it’s always good to be reminded of what’s worth your time and energy. I know you have had some pretty heavy stress on your mind about certain things but don’t think about it until you HAVE to think about it. Trust me when I tell you that, more often than not, you’ll find yourself worrying about things that aren’t even necessarily going to happen or are just out of your control. Change your mindset on your 25th birthday and know that everything will happen the way that it should. Worrying will just add some unnecessary weight onto your shoulders. And while you might be able to handle a few extra pounds, your mom cannot.. and what worries you, worries me.. so stop it! We deal with everything like we always have.. One. Day. At. A. Time… and, occasionally, with a little bit of alcohol (enjoy that bottle we sent you – in moderation, please)

.4. Just keep going… Whether you are where you want to be or not just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going. You can (and should) pause every now and then to take a look at your surroundings and take it all in; something I hope you do often, but once you’ve done that… KEEP MOVING. Whatever you want and wherever you want to go is right there in front of you.. as long as you don’t stop moving.

That’s it! Enjoy your special day, my baby! Mom and Dad love you so much and can’t wait to hear all about how you spend your day. Love you to the moon and back!

My Words of Wisdom to my 22 Year-Old Daughter

In my head, I know that you are 22 years old. In my heart, you are still, very much, my baby…

While I find it hard to come up with any TRUE Words of Wisdom for you because anyone who knows you knows YOU are WAY more mature than all of us put together there is just no way I can pass up the opportunity – one. last. time.

So here goes… my Words of Wisdom to Klarissa as she turns 22 years old (holy shit – even writing it hurts me).

1. No one but you knows what you truly need. Everyone needs people. Plain and simple. At different times of your life you will need someone; whether its us, your brothers, grandma(s) and grandpa(s), your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your friends, Bobby, or the lady at Kahns that knows exactly what you like to drink and what booth you prefer to sit in, but at the end of the day, YOU know yourself best. Try to do what is best for your health, your heart, your mind, and especially, your soul.

2. If 2020 has taught us anything its that things can change in a heartbeat. Use this year as a reminder to try and live in the moment. Whatever moment you may be in be as present as you possibly can. You just never know when things are going to change and that moment you were in will never be able to be brought back. Ever.

3. Find what it is you love and give it all you’ve got. Doesn’t matter what it is; if it brings you joy; do it. (although I still believe being a plastic surgeon will bring us ALL joy – or at the very least, make us LOOK like were joyful) but, in the end, it is and will always be YOUR decision. You are the writer of your own story. It’s your life; make it what you want.

4. Don’t take for granted all that you already have while searching for what you don’t. Never settle but also Appreciate EVERYTHING. I’m sure this one is hard to accept coming from me since the most common words in my vocabulary are “I want” but that in no way diminishes my gratitude for a beautiful sunrise, the sounds of seagulls, or a big bright moon. It’s taken me DECADES to come to this realization. Try and figure this out on your own way sooner than I did. I promise you; you will be so glad you did.

5. I would LOVE to tell you to take as many chances as you can (actually, I think I have before) and to never be afraid to speak your mind (although, lately that hasn’t really been an issue for you) but with this strange year we’ve had; I am starting to think that maybe it wouldn’t hurt to sit back and just listen – to everything – pay attention to it all, let it all soak in. Give yourself some time to process, and then, when you have it figured it out (or even if you don’t but think you might) do as I mentioned in #3…

At the end of the day; this is YOUR life to live. Fill it with as much joy and love and kindness and excitement as you possibly can. And never, ever forget that mom and dad love you with every ounce of our being. I said it the day you were born and I have said it every day since then – the moment you made your way into this world you not only completed our family, you completed me.

Enjoy your day with your friends, my baby. I cant wait to celebrate with you tomorrow! Love you to the moon and back again, mom and dad.

Words of Wisdom for my 27 yr old son

TWENTY SEVEN YEARS OLD! I am still in utter disbelief! I am the mother of a 27 year old! We were babies when we had you…. we had no idea what to do or if you/we would even survive the first night alone with us.. we did, just barely, but we did. Now here we are, 27 years later, probably not that much wiser than we were on this day all those years ago. We’ve all made our share of mistakes but I can tell you, without a shred of hesitation, you were (and continue to be) loved like no other.

I realized long ago that no “words of wisdom” from me were ever going to make a difference in your world. You have never had to be reminded to speak your truth or be the writer of your own book of life. Nope, not even once; you had that down since before you could even talk. But I am allowed one opportunity a year to say what I want to say without you making me delete it so there is no way In hell I am passing it up…

Derek, I know it seems like life is never going to be what you want it to be but you will have to trust me when I say; it will. Just TRY to adopt a few of these tidbits of knowledge I have learned over the years:1. Know what is important and what isn’t. While I admire your genuine animosity towards the decline of the Star Wars movies; at the end of the day, you have ZERO control over it.. Don’t let these things get to you. Let it slide right off your back like I do when I’m told I have the eating habits of a 12 year old. Remember what is TRULY important and what you can do about it and focus on THOSE things and those things only. Everything else is just noise.

2. CHOOSE patience, trust, and peace above everything else. Every day is what you make of it. Choosing these things will make that day so much easier to get through. Everyone is a product of their decisions, not a victim of their circumstances. Even Harry Potter..

3 Stop trying to figure out who is with you, against you, or doesn’t even care. If you have to question it; you probably already know the answer. Opinions are a dime a dozen, validation from anyone but yourself is completely unnecessary, and love isnt just a word but a way of life. Just because we don’t always agree doesn’t mean we love you any less. On the contrary; we wouldn’t even know what REAL love was if it wasn’t for you. The day you came into this world was the day I FELT true love. Just because we may disagree on certain things doesnt and will NEVER EVER EVER change that. Having you was the greatest, most scariest, most challenging day of my life; it was the day I learned what it was like to have my heart beat on the OUTSIDE of my body.

4. Everything is temporary. Moments, feelings, people, music, flowers; appreciate all of them while they are still here. You really don’t know what tomorrow may bring..

5. Most things come in twos: life and death, salt and pepper, pain and joy, Batman and Robin.. it’s called balance. Learn to balance everything in life. Learn what strangers to turn into friends and what friends may need to become strangers. Learn when it’s ok to be angry but, most importantly, learn when to let it go.

And lastly, focus on how far you have come and not how far you think you should be. You have done more in your 27 years than most people I know, including me. You have taken chances and lived more spontaneously than I sometimes wish you would but will always admire.

You know me and I could go on and on and on – I mean, I get this chance ONCE A YEAR – but I’m not. I am going to stop right there and remind you, once again, that you are, and will always be, my baby.

Happy Happy Birthday, Derek! Mom and dad love you to the moon and back!

Now go enjoy your day! I am going to sit here and wonder how the hell I am old enough to have a 27 YEAR old and how much longer I have to wait to become a grandma!

2020, You Suck!

What a year this has been!

These days; the ones that seem to drag on and on and on and feel like they may never end have actually not been so bad. Looking back, I am grateful for the time it has given me with my family. The nights we sat playing board games because we couldn’t leave our house or sitting in my car having simple conversation and staring up at a moon that seemed so much more beautiful than usual as we ate a basket of rolls and waited for our turn in the restaurant wouldn’t have happened had it not been for this “new normal”.

Don’t get me wrong. I miss so much of our life. I miss hugs, and Tuesday nights, and being able to sneeze freely without everyone within a 6 foot radius staring at you like you just infected them with the plague.

I miss traveling. I actually miss crowded airports, and paying $18 for a terrible sandwich, and people watching.

I miss exploring new places.

In this time though, I have explored other places. Ones deep inside of me. Ones right outside my front door. Ones I wouldn’t have ever known existed had it not been for these last few months.

They say “hindsight is 20/20” and I cant think of a saying more appropriate for this year of 2020. I don’t usually believe in looking back – I mean, the past is the past and there isn’t anything you can do about it – but this time, I think it’s exactly what needs to be done. Now is the time to clear up any misconceptions, apologize for the mess ups, come clean about the things you’ve been holding on to, and then just let it all go…