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. Stay at a Bed and Breakfast 
  8. Visit that Ice Castle Spa place
  9. See Magnolia Silosdone! In 2020 but whatever, it counts..
  10. 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…

Three Years _ 2016

It’s been three years….

Three years sounds like a long time, but it actually got here in the blink of an eye. And in that blink I have learned so much…

I learned that things don’t always turn out the way you had planned or the way you think they should, but life still goes on.
I learned that some broken things can easily be put back together and some require a lot more work and sometimes still don’t get fixed.
I learned that sometimes we have to experience things we don’t understand and that it’s ok to ask questions you may never get the answers to.

But most importantly, I learned that you can get through the really bad times, and even start enjoying some of the good times, as long as you have people in your life who love you.

I continue to be in awe of his spirit and sense of humor. He continues to be my hero and one of the loves of my life. And I will forever hold dear all of the lessons these three years have taught me and hope for nothing more than a life filled with gratitude and love.

On this day, two years ago… 2015

On this day, two years ago, our lives were forever changed. Although I was just an outsider looking in my heart was shattered into a million pieces and my faith in “Gods Plan” was doubted. But on this day, two years ago, I also saw a community come together, rivals stand together in prayer, and felt HIS presence like never before. Since that day I have learned to find peace and joy in the simple things, learned to appreciate the moments of calmness that have become so rare in my life, and take each day with grace and an understanding that things can change in a second. At the end of it all, your family and friends are what matter, love is what matters, and quality is way more meaningful than quantity.

Seven Years

If we had known that a few weeks after this picture was taken our lives would be changed forever… I don’t know that we would have done anything differently. If we had, would it have made a difference? 

I use the term “we” loosely. No, it did not happen to one of my own children nor am I the one who’s had to adjust to this new life but I’d like to think that WE have been just as much a part of this journey as Rick and Roxanne

There is no handbook that tells you what the “right” thing is to do when your sons best friend/best friends son/yes,he’s my kid too has something as significant as this happen. There were days we didnt know whether to keep calling or give them space, times we weren’t sure if a night out was what was needed or to simply leave them alone. We handled the days as they came, one by one, trying to do what we thought was best in the manner we thought was appropriate. Sometimes that meant showing up with pizza and wine, completely unannounced, and other times it meant just sitting home wondering if everything was ok. And each decision we made ALWAYS left us questioning if it was the right one. 

Over the years, seven now, things have settled into somewhat of a routine; the unexpected visits are a little more expected. We no longer get annoyed (as much) when Rox doesn’t answer the phone or respond to a text for several days, although she knows I will show up with the police and a bat if TOO many days go by. We no longer avoid talking about THIS DAY and what happened. Instead we talk about what we’ve learned and what we miss. We (try) and focus on the good, like that smile that continues to light up every room he rolls into. 

We’ve learned to adapt and adjust and not freak out (as much) when he says he doesn’t feel well. I, specifically, learned that a frozen margarita pouch is great for getting body heat down (not so good for the margarita). 

We’ve learned to appreciate the changes that we, as friends and individuals, have made and learned what true admiration and bravery look like.  Vangie and I sat there in awe as Roxy finally found her voice, even if I was the first one she chose to use it on 😜

We learned that some days are good, and others, not so much. 

We learned this by example – Isaiah’s example. As we sat there and talked about what the next best move was, he sat there and stared at us like we were crazy, taking each day in stride, laughing at the wild suggestions we sometimes had for making HIM feel better…. And all along, it was him making US feel better. 

Alot has changed in seven years, the boys aren’t as close as they used to be but, my guess is, it would have happened eventually anyway. The girls may communicate more than ever but it’s not to talk about anything other than the love they have for a certain little someone who has brought us all so much joy, but US – our little group of friends – we are the same.. Still don’t talk every single day, still show up completely unannounced, and still drop whatever we are doing if we even THINK Rox needs a night out.

We still enjoy the not-so-funny jokes Isaiah tells- but we did stop pretending to laugh. And I still, to this day, feel nothing but enormous love for the kid who used to hide from me in my closet when he knew I was mad and pride for the young man I see before me.

Vaccine #1 – √

I arrived at the testing center thirty minutes before my scheduled appointment; exactly as instructed. I was signed in and given the consent forms to read and sign – again.

After a few minutes I was taken to an exam room where I was greeted by a lovely young lady who asked me the most personal of questions. How many pregnancies? 3 How many kids? 3 Last period: 2006. Surgeries: 3 Allergies: none – you get the idea.

Shortly there after, a PA came in and did a complete physical exam. Lungs: clear, Heart: pumping, Ears and throat: all good… feet: slightly swollen but that always happens when I wear my Tieks.

Cleared to continue to the next round.

Since I no longer have to worry about a pregnancy test I can finally go to the bathroom. They decide to check my weight while en route, something I should have probably done AFTER I went, but ok. Still in the parameters… on to the next round.

Within a few minutes, two children, I mean, people (students, im guessing) walk in. One sticks a swab so far up my nose I swear he touched my eye ball. I had never felt such… discomfort. But he’s not done. He moves on to the next one. This one had to have touched my brain. He’s certainly been to places otherwise unknown – you can at least buy me dinner first- geez! Luckily, I am happily informed that this is, by far, the worst of it. (THANK GOD). And I guess it was… I did, however, have an ENORMOUS amount of blood drawn, 8 vials to be exact.

I had never been so happy to see two people leave. And I am a quarantined sales person – I NEED TO TALK TO PEOPLE – ANY PEOPLE – but these two were probably the last on that list. I, as cheerfully as I could muster, thanked them and sent them on their merry way. The door closed behind them and I was left to sit and wonder if I had any blood left. I tried to focus on the mission at hand and resist the the urge to get up and run. Thankfully, I didn’t have the energy to do that.

I sat there a few minutes more and another sweet, but obviously exhausted, person comes in and gives me a present. A gift card and a cookie! I wasn’t sure which one made me more excited. The cookie, definitely the cookie..As I am, once again, left to sit and ponder how in the world I had gotten myself into this, no longer feeling violated by the child with the swab and feeling the blood slowly start to replenish in my body, I grabbed a COSMO I had in my bag, sat back, enjoyed my cookie and waited. Again.

Few more minutes later and I get to go to “the back”. The back is where the vaccines are actually administered. The time had finally come.. As I am seated in one of the six massaging recliners, I realize that it reminds me of the place my mom would get her chemo administered. All that was missing were the IV poles and bags.. You know how all these chemo places always have that one nurse that is just a tad bit to chipper to be there? Well, yup, we had one of those, too. Jerry. Jerry would come in every few minutes with a new vaccine and holler, “we’re saving the world today, folks!” The first few times it happened, I giggled with delight. After a few minutes I just wanted Jerry to come in and do what he had to do…. no shouting necessary. We get it, Jerry.. 🙂

At exactly 6:35 pm, my vaccine was given. I had to turn away because I was not allowed to see the injection. Not any part of it. I guess this is what they mean when they say “blind study”. The most important part of the day was, in a nutshell, pretty routine. I didn’t feel much of anything.

So now I wait – for exactly 30 minutes. In those 30 minutes I see people being excused without much fanfare. The most complicated part was downloading the app, and that was mainly for the older generation. But after a few minutes, even they got it and were merrily sent on their way with instructions on what to look for, when to call, what to report, etc. It was all pretty cut and dry. Until they got to me….

Being the impatient person that I am, I had already set my timer – 7:05 was when I could leave. By 7 I had the app loaded, the activation key inputed, I had selected my security questions, and I was ready to go. 7:03 – it’s all ready to go but no vitals can be taken till EXACTLY 7:05, so we both wait.. staring at the clock, watching the minutes turn.

7:05, let’s do this. Temperature √ added to the app. Injection site clear: √ added to the app. Headaches, pain, blurry vision – nope – √ added to the app. I was already grabbing my bags and texting my mom that I was done when she tells me that the last thing to do was check my blood pressure. No problem, check away… hold up, 140something… hmmmm, let’s try this again with a different, smaller cuff… now its a higher 140something. I’m instructed to uncross my legs – yeah, that’s gotta be it- an even higher 140something. OK, time to go to a private room, doctors coming in from every direction. In the 45 seconds it took me to get from one room to the other, it had gone from the high 140’s to the 160’s..

More doctors called. I felt nothing. No headache, no ringing in my ears, no flushed face – I FELT PERFECTLY FINE.

They decide to let me sit in silence for a few minutes – I put my head back and try and think good thoughts. Within a few minutes, they come back in and try again. Still nope.

There is talk of me going to the hospital; I say no. More talk of me sitting there a few more HOURS; also no – IM VERY HUNGRY. I decide that that is what had to have done it and they agree to let me go with a follow up call in an hour and another in the morning. Agreed.

As I’m driving home I realize that today was possibly a little history in the making. I also decide I DESERVE, not only my mothers cooking but some Delia’s Tamales, as well.. and I smile a little. With a little bit of luck and a whole lot of expertise I know nothing about it’s very possible I did just help save the world. (ok, maybe a bit much, but I’m feeling all sorts of things, mainly hunger, so just go with it).