Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Don't Forget To Dance

A funny thing happened along the way...
I hung out with girls twenty years my junior last weekend. 
And I survived. 
As I know my limits on booze. 
I know my limits on bedtimes. 
I know my limits on the dance floor...wait. 
I didn't know my dance limits. 
And my outer thighs are still feeling it. 

My mom's youngest brother is six years older than me. 
We grew up together and were quite close as he lived three blocks away from my brother and I with my grandparents. 
He has two daughters, with the first being born while I was still in high school. 
And he and his wife lived with grandma and grandpa with their new baby girl for a while. 
His second daughter (who I'll call KR) was born when I was at college. 
And the family didn't live at grandma and grandpa's house anymore. 
There's a big age gap with these girls and myself, but I love them bunches. 

Right before my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, KR almost lost her life in a drunk driving accident. 
A drunk driver smashed into her car in the middle of the day. 
A head-on collision on a two lane highway. 
While she was talking to her mother, my aunt, on her cellphone. 
We are thankful that she's still here. 
And we all become closer as she fought to regain her life while her little cousin Zoe fought to keep hers. 

KR had to take a year off from college. 
To recover at home. 
To learn how to walk again with rods and pins in her body. 
And she switched colleges when she went back to her studies. 
And that's where she met him. 
Her future husband. 
And that's why I was at a bachelorette party this past weekend in St. Louis. 

I went with two other cousins who are my age. 
My mom has four other siblings. 
The cousins that I drove down to St. Louis with are my mom's other brother's daughters. 
And we are 43, 44, and 45 years old. 
We met my mom's younger sister, who flew in from Atlanta, at our hotel that was three blocks west of the mighty Mississippi River.
And we kept up just fine with the young girls during our weekend. 
Which comes, I guess, to the point of this post. 

You're never to old to have fun. 
And life can throw some killer curves at you. 
You never really know what's around the next corner. 
So do it. 
Shake your stuff on a dance floor. 
Drink some drinks and show the younger crowd how it's done. 
I wore heels out all weekend. 
My cousin, who's my age, said she was going to wear her comfy, sensible shoes out. 
"Oh no!" I said. 
"These feet of mine don't get to go out too often. 
So when they do venture out, the heels go on!"
Yes, I got a blister. 
But I had fun. 
I did some dance grinding with my younger cousins. 
Is that a thing?
Dance grinding?
I did something like that. 
I whooped out loud on the dance floor. 
I danced low, low, low. 
Maybe a little too low. 
Because every time I went to sit on the toilet, whoah!
The tops of my thighs were screaming at me...
"You went too low!"

You're never to old to have fun. 
To remember to dance. 
Go ahead and relive your younger days. 
At one point as we were dancing, I pushed through the crowd to the front of the stage (it was a dueling piano bar kind of place) urging my young cousins and their friends to join me.
It's what I would have done when I was in my twenties. 
I would have been front and center. 
Never dancing on the outer fringes. 

Don't forget to dance. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Drooling Pony

Our horse is drooling. 
Like Niagara Falls drooling. 
She's drooling on the gate. 
She's drooling on the goats. 
She whips her head around and anything in her way gets drooled on. 
Like my legs. 
And arms. 
She's creating lakes of slobber in the stall that I had initially thought were lakes of pee. 
And I said to her angrily a few days ago "Buttercup!  This has got to stop!  Go outside to pee!"
But it's not urine. 
It's drool. 
All caused from this...

Our pasture has a lot of clover in it this summer. 
And the clover has gotten a fungus. 
Some fancy name called rhizoctonia. 
Our pastures are ripe for this as we've had a lot of humidity and little rain at the beginning of the growing season. 

We noticed that Buttercup was licking a lot and drooling last month. 
So, like we always do, we looked in our Horses For Dummies book. 
Why aren't drooling horses in the dummy books?
I'm a dummy when it comes to horses and I need this kind of information. 
So, I turned to the internet. 
And found rather quickly the link between clover and drooling. 
So, we took her off the pasture and fed her in the stall. 
And she stopped drooling. 
And we learned there's nothing to do for a drooling clover pony. 
It will pass. 
And the clover fungus will die off. 

We put her back on the pasture a week later and she did fine. 
Until this week. 
When the overload of slobber started up again. 

She begins to lick obsessively. 
And the slobbering starts. 
And don't you dare pull her lip back. 
Because when you do...out gushes 42 gallons of viscous, grass tinged, sloppy, wet drool. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

These Days

I haven't written a post in a while that is simply a "what's been going on" post, so here it goes...

My kids got out of school last week. 
And we have three extra weeks added onto our summer in August because new schools are being built in our district. 
They don't go back until September 8th. 
As I write this, they are in the other room pretending they are in music class. 
And they are screech singing. 
And it's raining outside. 
Help me. 

We saw the movie Tomorrowland yesterday. 
Very good film with action, explosions, and a message worth thinking about. 
That we, people of this planet earth, need to cut the crap and fix what has happened to our home. 
A few days before that, Chad and I watched the movie Still Alice at home. 
Early Onset Alzheimer's. 
An amazing performance and a film that made us both hope that that won't become our future. 
Because it was so scary. 
Scarier than the message seen in Tomorrowland. 

Even with the kids being out of school already and three extra weeks of summer break, when I look at the calendar on the wall it's so full. 
And I didn't really sign the girls up for anything.
They have a 3 hour camp on Thursdays learning about Lewis and Clark.  
Swim lessons on Monday and Wednesday mornings. 
They have sleepaway camp in July for a week. 
We need to get to Memphis in June. 
We are going to Michigan for a week in August. 
Our friends from Vermont are coming for a few days in July. 
We have a family wedding in August that the girls are in. 
I'm exhausted already. 

But today, I have absolutely nothing to do. 

We had a sick chicken. 
Took her to the vet and she's all better. 
We had a goat with a bloody horn a few weeks before that. 
Took her to the vet and she's all better. 
Here's hoping everyone else in the barn stays healthy. 

Speaking of health, Zoe had a blood draw last week. 
She has horrible veins.
They are deep in her arms and they hide as soon as she enters the hospital. 
It did not go well for her. 
Our nurse friends had to call in Dan. 
I don't know Dan, but we all certainly put the pressure on him to get blood from the girl who doesn't like to give up her blood. 
Dan the phlebotomist. 
He got the job done, but not before suggesting taking it from the big vein in Zoe's hand and her yelling NO!
She had that done once and vowed to never let anyone touch her hand veins EVER again!
Her blood, her veins, her choice I say. 

She (and her sister) raided the toy closet before we left. 
People donate tons of stuff to children's hospitals. 
Sometimes it's the only way people know how to help sick kids. 
After the hospital visit we headed to lunch.
A new place for us. 
Obed and Issac's Microbrewery and Eatery. 
Such a long name. 
A restaurant in a big house right in downtown Springfield, Illinois.  
A block away from Abraham Lincoln's house. 
We had great service and great food and will definitely eat there again. 
Since Abe's house was right across the street, we headed over for tickets to see inside. 
The girls have been inside twice before, but between their young ages and Zoe's chemo brain, they both couldn't remember taking the tour.  
Abraham Lincoln's home and neighborhood are the only National Park within the state of Illinois. 
It's free to get in, but you need a timed ticket and can only get in while on a tour given by a National Park Park Ranger. 
They even wear those cool wide-brimmed hats you see Rangers wearing at Yellowstone and those other parks with lots of trees and wolves and giant waterfalls. 
Each time my kids go into this house, even the times they don't remember, they giggle about the chamber pots under the beds. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We Are Human

I was watching a show on television last week and they had an interview with the author Judy Blume. 
She's written a new adult fiction novel. 
But it's based somewhat on some factual airplane accidents that occurred in the neighborhood that she grew up in as a child. 
The neighborhood that inspired her to write teen novels involving menstrual cycles and letting boys touch your boobs. 
But she said two sentences at the very end of her interview that really struck me. 
Struck me so much that I searched for a pen to write them down. 
Two sentences that are basic yet so powerful. 
Two sentences that will mean much to anyone who hears them, I think. 

"There's joy in life after terrible things happen. 
We are human and we must go on."

I think of parents who have lost a child. 
Or children. 
A child who has lost a parent. 
Or parents. 
Great tragedy, I believe, really occurs when someone you love has died.  
Especially before you or anyone else believes that that person has lived enough life. 

Tragedy also comes with illness. 
From the trauma of a natural or man-made disaster. 
From horrific accidents or decisions that lead to despair. 
Drug addiction. 
Cancer in a child. 
Tornados and terrorist bombings. 

Humans are resilient. 
Humans must move forward or they will cease existing in this world. 
And it may take time to pull your bootstraps back up. 
To get your sense of self back. 
To learn how to breathe again. 
But we do. 
We all do. 
Because there is joy in the world after terrible things happen. 

Babies are born. 
The flowers bloom with each spring season. 
The wind blows a cool breeze on your face on a hot day. 
You learn to appreciate the small things. 
The regular moments in life. 
You laugh at a movie. 
You hug a horse. 
You get a puppy. 
And life goes on...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Going Gray

I stopped coloring my hair. 
The gray has started to take over and I'm letting it. 
My husband has no hair, he started loosing it more than 20 years ago. 
But he has facial hair. 
Why he is bald on top and hairy EVERYWHERE else is a mystery to me. 
And him. 
His facial hair is more white than brown. 
And he looks so great!
Why do I need to color my hair to look great?
I have been noticing couples when I am out and about these days. 
Many men have gray hair. 
But their partner, when it's a woman, does not. 
It's rare to see a gray haired woman. 
They are there, but in small numbers. 
90% of the time she has colored hair. 
The brownest of brown. 
The blondest of blonde. 
The reddest red from a bottle.
These couple look mismatched. 
He looks his age while she's trying as hard as possible to NOT look her age.

I don't want to spend the money. 
I don't want to spend the time. 
I am not going to color my hair anymore.
I got it cut last week. 
I have always had short hair and get lazy between cuts, so I need to get on the ball with that more. 
I found a great stylist last week as my old stylist is moving to Florida. 
My new stylist is another mom from school. 
She has two boys around the ages of my two girls. 
And she did a great job when I went in and said...short, messy, feminine. 
And seemed pumped when I said I'm not coloring my hair anymore. 
Maybe not too pumped as I'm one less client she can persuade to get golden highlights. 
My husband seems to like it.
He told me "the gray looks sexy."
And I said "really?"
And he said "for sure!"
And I made googly eyes at him. 
And he made googly eyes at me. 
And my ten year old yelled "I'm sitting right here so stop it!"

Hair has been a big topic in our home for a few years. 
My oldest lost her hair three times between the ages of five and eight. 
And then we were told it may not grow past her shoulders due to the cranial radiation she had. 
Currently her hair is longer than anticipated (past the shoulders!) and a deeper brown than her "first" hair. 
And her blonde sister got her baby curls cut off about 6 months ago and now sports a cut deemed hipper for a six year old. 
Someday they may color or shave or dreadlock their hair. 
I say go for it. 
Hair grows back. 
Life needs to be full of variety. 

Here's to the gray. 
For taking my head into my own hands. 
For not bowing down to what women in their 40s are "supposed" to look like.
Who decides how we are to look?
Do we just follow our predecessors and peers?
I look like me. 
My gray kind of looks like highlights I think. 
Highlights of the life I've led. 
And I thank my friend Carla for starting this trend for me to follow. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?

My conversations seem to be about people one-upping me. 
You know what I mean?
Here's the situation...
I try to tell a story. 
An event that's happened to me within my life. 
Boring or monumental. 
Each day is different, right?
People do this hundreds of times a day.
Have conversations with other people. 
Unless they are hermits. 
Hermits never see, let alone talk, to other humans. 
But I'm not a hermit. 
And I have conversations with real, live people and they seem to be listening but really they aren't. 
They heard two words probably. 
It's a one-sided conversation from the start. 
And I had no idea. 
This other person is thinking throughout our entire conversation about their turn. 
"Ohhhhh, when's it my turn???...my turn, my turn, my turn!"
And when you stop speaking, having maybe spilled out your heart, they immediately one-up you. 

You went to birthday party for a 95 year old woman?
They know someone who's 96!
Planning a trip to NYC?
They just got back from London!
You had a chemo treatment?
They know someone whose dog had a brain transplant!
You are thinking of getting a shingles vaccine?
They are working on an AIDS cure!

Kids do this too. 
A lot. 
I wonder where they get it from?
As a parent, I'm raising a portion of the future. 
A very small portion, but a few can change the world. 
And I'm trying to help my daughters navigate through the *intelligent and thoughtful conversation* protocol. 

Why can't people hear you anymore?
Just hear what you have to say and accept it. 
To say wow, great story. 
To be empathetic.
Always have to one-up everyone. 
I'm trying to be more cognizant of this. 
And I hope I'm not doing this. 
I'm sure I am at times. 
So, I'm nipping it. 
Where are the snippers?
Nip, nip...I want to hear what YOU have to say. 
And I hope you can stop to hear me, too.

...photo credit goes to my friend Mark, he captures my best moments. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Typical Tuesday

I like to take random photos of my family. 
Not just posed shots where "everyone is smiling and heads are up and both feet are on the ground, stop wiggling!"
But real life moments. 
Captured forever. 
Or if I look like I have three chins, then quickly deleted. 
I hope my children will one day look at these everyday events that I have saved for them and remember our journey together. 

This picture says many things to me. 
It was taken on a recent Tuesday. 
We met my husband at the university where he works to eat dinner. 
This happens most weeks. 
Then the girls have piano lessons across campus. 

Zoe had some math homework that she brought with her. 
My husband is Math Man in our house. 
I'll help you with your spelling. 
They sat together discussing the problems at hand. 
He's a very hands on father. 
A father who never wastes a moment with his children.  
He seems a bit tired and is working hard on concentrating. 
Fourth grade math can be a doozy in the 21st century. 

And look way in the back of the photo. 
At the tall tables. 
The girl who has a lot of anxiety in new and stressful situations. 
But who feels very comfortable at this university. 
And she often likes to take her dinner and will eat alone on the other side of the room from us. 
To feel her need for independance warms my heart. 
She and I are a lot alike. 
We are loud and energetic and independent. 

My family. 
In a photograph.