Ready, Set, Go!

It’s been planned for months. I’m “ready”

House is cleaned.

Laundry is done.

Make ahead meals are made, and in the freezer, ready to just heat and eat for my husband, Bill, and daughter, Shantel, I know, I spoil them way too much….

Everything’s “set”

All that’s left… is just, to “go”

And on Thursday, that’s just what I’m going to do… ūüôā

I’m taking a much-needed,¬†girlfriend vacation. I will fly to New York, where I will spend several days with my Frissy, hanging out¬†in Manhattan. What’s not to love about that..? And, if that were not enough for anyone of sound mind…¬†On Saturday, we will be joined by our other BFF’s, Megs, and Audrey…¬†MORE FUN…!

On Sunday, Megs, Audrey, Frissy, and I will have a picnic in Central Park and spend a lazy afternoon watching people, catching up, and laughing the time away, until evening when we will attend a Shinnyo Lantern Floating For Peace Ceremony, from 7-8 pm, in Central Park. We will have the opportunity to decorate, build, and float a lantern with our wishes for peace on them. How beautiful is that?

Then, on Monday, we will all make a trip to Vermont.¬†We will spend five fun-filled, beautiful days, in a beautiful house, on the most spectacular property, among the beautiful¬†changing leaves of Vermont!! OMG, I just can’t hardly wait. We will cook, drink wine, talk, hike, stay up late and drink more wine, and laugh, laugh, laugh… cause that’s what we do on girlfriend vacations… And THIS is going to be the BEST girlfriend vacation EVER… ūüôā

We will return to Manhattan on Friday, and¬†have a few more “play” days together there before Megs and Audrey have to leave.

I’m staying on with Frissy, and we will continue the girlfriend fun until I have to leave on Wednesday, October 2nd. But I won’t be sad, because Frissy will be coming back to her second home, in Scottsdale, in November, where we will all meet up again for even more fun times here in beautiful Arizona… ūüôā

So,¬†watch for a future blog post where I will share photos of our girlfriend vacation. But, right now, I’m “ready, set, and all that’s left for me to do….is¬†just¬†go…”

Stay Tuned!

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Bumps In The Road

My cousin, Kathy,¬†a Nurse Practitioner who works in Orthopedics,¬†has a blog I follow at www.bloomingburghboomer.com¬†. This week¬†she¬†shared that she¬†was having some challenges keeping up with her running exercise program due to¬†hip pain she is experiencing, and talked about how that affected her whole daily routine…¬†At the end of her post, she asked her readers¬†“how do you handle bumps in the road“? That question brought to mind¬†an article I was given when our daughter, Shantel, first started attending The Foundation For Blind Children after she lost her sight, due to cancer,¬†at the age of two. I want to share that article here so Shantel will always have it, and for any of my readers who might find it useful.¬†I’ve read¬†this article so many times over the years and it always helped me put things into perspective. While this speaks of raising a child with a disability, I think the same principles can apply to many other life situations… See what you think.

Welcome to Holland“, by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability. To try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel, It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum.¬†Michelangelo’s David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, that day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland!?” you say. What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s¬†slower paced¬†than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandt’s.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

September is Childhood Cancer Month. I dedicate this post to all who have fought cancer, and to those who are still fighting… Share the awareness, pray for a cure until this too is just a “bump in the road” and not a life¬†changing event¬†.

Stay Tuned!

Sense of Humor

I posted a while back that my daughter, Shantel, is taking what I think is a fabulous class, “The Art of Storytelling”. She doesn’t really like the class because a lot of the stories they read are folktales, myths, or stories about make-believe¬†things… Because Shantel is totally blind, it’s always been hard for her to grasp stories about things that aren’t real. That’s the reason when she was in grade school and¬†the Harry Potter books were all the rage, Shantel had no interest at all in getting them in a brailed¬†version or even on a CD. When she was in high school, she really struggled in her language art class when they were studying things like Dante’s Inferno, because again, too many things she just could not relate to at all… It’s hard to imagine something that isn’t real like a flying dragon etc. when you’ve never seen even a picture of a dragon…

Yesterday, each of the students in Shantel’s storytelling class were¬†assigned¬†the story they will tell to the class. The instructor had them begin practicing¬†to tell their story by¬†having the whole class all stand in front of the classroom wall, all at the same time, and tell their story to the wall. So,¬†no one was paying attention to what the other students were saying because, they were busy telling their own story to the wall.¬†This exercise was the first step in getting the students comfortable with just¬†telling their story out loud, before they begin telling their story to an audience next week.

After all the students had plenty of time to tell their story to the wall several times…they returned to their seats and the instructor went around the room and had each student stand up and tell the class how telling their¬†story to the wall felt¬†for them.

When the instructor got to Shantel and asked her how telling the story to the wall felt, Shantel said she just smiled and said “It really didn’t make me feel any different at all because I’m used to talking to a blank space…” Shantel said the whole class erupted in laughter. ūüôā That’s our girl!

Shantel’s¬†always had a beautiful sense of humor.¬†I can honestly say,¬†as we’ve traveled our journey with Shantel after her loss of sight, it was always her¬†“sense of humor” that shined through, even in the toughest of times, and that’s what¬†helped me cope the most.

Stay Tuned!

Family Tradition

Our little Katie, Bill’s daughter, my step-daughter, and her boyfriend, Josh, just got engaged this past Sunday. We are so happy and excited to welcome Josh into our family.

When my husband, Bill, asked me to marry him, he gave me¬†a beautiful diamond and ruby engagement ring. Bill told me later that he had my engagement ring made, and that¬†he helped design the channel setting,¬†picked out the diamonds, and even had the ruby’s special ordered. I was so touched at the effort he put into having my ring made just the way he wanted it to be for me. Bill proposed to me beside the Chapel in the Rock, in Sedona Arizona, just as the sun was coming up over the mountains…

When Bill and I married, he gave me the wedding ring to match the engagement ring.

When Bill and I were married 10 years, he bought me another beautiful wedding set as well as a 10 year anniversary ring that I had welded together. Bill took me to the Redwood Forest and presented the new wedding set and anniversary ring to me.

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So, since I didn’t want to wear two sets of wedding rings, I decided to give our little Katie the wedding set her dad had made for me. I let her know she could do what ever she wanted with the rings, i.e. wear them, store them, or pass them down to her daughters when they got old enough to appreciate them.

Katie and I have always had a special bond, and when I gave her my wedding set, she cried, as did I, and said she loved them, and would always keep them in the family.

On Sunday, when Katie called to say Josh proposed to her, she said he used the engagement ring my husband, Bill, had made for me… This is that ring.

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Katie said she and Josh decided they wanted to get married using the wedding set I gave her. Then, just as Bill and I did, they will get a new wedding set for their ten-year anniversary, and pass the wedding set I gave Katie down to one of their daughters when they get married… I was so touched, and of course,¬†I cried… I told Katie I thought that would be a beautiful way¬†to keep her dad and I a part of their lives, and hoped her marriage, and anyone who wears those rings in the future, will be as happy and Bill and I have been.

Congratulations Katie and Josh.¬†We love you, and thank you for¬†making this¬†a beautiful “family tradition“!

Stay Tuned!

Mom’s Reunion With Beau

I mentioned in an earlier post that my husband, Bill, our daughter, Shantel, and I were going to take my mother out to my brother, Danny, and his wife Bea’s, new home they just had built so we could all see their new home and mom could see her¬†beloved dog Beau, who lives with Danny and Bea and their little dog, Daisy…and Beau’s stuffed froggie girlfriend… ūüôā

So, the day began with a trip across the desert from Phoenix to the town of Maricopa:

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It was a very rainy day and even the desert floor was soaked,

Once we arrived at Danny and Bea’s house, the first order of business was to get mom out of the car safely…

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Then, we entered into Danny & Bea’s beautiful home. Oh my, I’m so happy and proud for them. This is a kitchen to die for:

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Danny and Bea are the perfect hosts, making sure everyone had drinks, and everything they needed, to feel welcomed…

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While we waited for the delicious lunch to be set out( ham, scalloped potatoes, and green beans, with homemade cake for dessert)… mom and Beau just couldn’t get enough of each other…Beau cried, and cried, and when Beau couldn’t stand it anymore, he jumped right up in mom’s lap… mom was worried he wouldn’t remember her…

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After the reunion with mom and Beau….nothing else seemed to matter to mom, but still there was much to see… like Danny and Bea’s little dog , Daisy, who has to hold her cookie treats¬†in her mouth, until Danny goes and sits on their bed with her to eat it so Beau won’t steal it from her …

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Even as mom tried to eat her lunch, Beau sat right at her feet:

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Thank you Danny and Bea for a lovely lunch and tour of your beautiful new home…

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Well done Danny and Bea… Well done.. Congrats on your beautiful new home. It is just beautiful… and mom said to us on the way home… It really has dwindled down to the precious few hasn’t it…? Well, Bro, I guess it has… Love and¬†hugs Bro, love & hugs…

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Stayed Tuned!

Happy Birthday Mom

Today was my mother’s birthday. She turned 87 today. I arrived at the Care Center with a card and some money to put into her account at the Care Center, so when she goes to Wal-Mart, or has her hair done, she always has enough money to cover those expenses…

I stopped at the store, on my way to the Care Center, to pick up something chocolate for mom, because she LOVES chocolate. I found these chocolate frosted, brownies…

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When I went into mom’s room, she was literally just getting out of bed…I showed her the chocolate treat, and gave her the card… she couldn’t wait to get dressed so she could go to breakfast and get back to have her¬†chocolate treat…, Yes, Mom, “you do have to eat your food first”. I bet this sounds familiar to lots of us baby boomers.. ūüôā

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I stayed with mom through breakfast. Then, I had to go, but reminded her Bill, Shantel and I would pick her up at 12:00 noon tomorrow and take her to my Bro, Danny’s new home for lunch, and an opportunity for mom to see her beloved dog, Beau, who still lives with Danny and his¬†beloved ”¬†stuffed frog girlfriend”… see earlier posts..

Later in the afternoon, mom called me to say other family members came to visit her, and some, who live¬†out-of-state, ¬†sent her flowers ( you know who you are)… Thank you to them, for helping make mom’s special day special…¬†Mom said she really appreciated their visits and presents.

All in all, it was a very Happy Birthday for Mom..

Thank you to all family members, and extended family members, who helped make Mom’s 87th Birthday something she really¬†appreciated.

Stay Tuned !

Our 25th Anniversary

Bill and I spent the day taking a trip down memory lane. So what better way to do that than to start at the beginning of the lane and walk forward to our life as it is today.

Our very first apartment was a tiny little furnished one bedroom, right in the heart of Tempe Arizona.¬†And, more specifically, right in the middle of ASU college town…I will leave all that to your imagination…

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We signed a six month lease so we had no choice but to suffer it out…

But, finally, we were able to move to Mission Springs Apartments, offering one, and two bedroom, furnished apartment floor plans. We decided on a two bedroom so we would have room for our kids.

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The window to the right of the door was my Katie’s bedroom. She would sit in her room for hours talking on the phone with the window cracked open.. I smoked back then and would be sitting on the porch smoking and I could clearly hear everything Katie was talking about to her friends…mostly about things she shouldn’t be doing… When I would give her redirection about what she shouldn’t be doing…she would look at me with wide-eyed¬†wonder as to how I always knew what she was up to… Hey, I think every mother has the right to use what ever comes their way to try to help their child not go astray…

Fast forward: My Katie¬†moved out of our home…then one day, after church, my father came up to Bill and I and asked us if we would consider moving in with them because they were on a fixed income and couldn’t afford to live in the little two bedroom house they had and still afford to travel like they wanted to back and forth to Pennsylvania… Bill and I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer to help them because we were foot loose and fancy free then and were able to do a lot of traveling ourselves…we took a cruise to Hawaii, we traveled back east to visit family, we spent many weekends in our favorite of all places… San Diego… So, of course we agreed to move in with them and share expenses. This is the house on Navajo St that we shared tighter. We were all VERY happy with the arrangement we had. We all loved the house and the freedom we had to travel…

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We were still living in this house when I was notified by one of my Katie’s friends, that she was concerned that Shantel was in danger… I contacted my Katie and told her about what I had been told…I asked her if she thought she was able to provide a SAFE home for Shantel.¬†To my surprise she said NO.¬†Long story short…(see earlier posts) Bill and I stepped up, and took guardianship of Shantel, which later lead us to adopting Shantel.¬†An opportunity, and ¬†decision, we feel blessed to have been given.¬†But, that decision meant we had to move, because ,this house was in an adult only part of Ahwatukee… So while my parents were away on a vacation…, Bill and I had to start looking for a house to buy in the family section of Ahwatukee, where we could raise Shantel… We could only hope my parents would be understanding when we had to tell them we needed to move out..

We looked and looked and found a home ,not far away, in a family¬†area that allowed us to raise Shantel. This is the first home we shared with Shantel… We purchased this home for $86,000 (keep that price in mind). We fell in LOVE with this house, and it was well within our budget. It was perfect and nothing needed to be done to fix it…We were a HAPPY¬† little family there.

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But, tragedy struck.., when Shantel was diagnosed with cancer…, and my parents came to us and said “let’s sell our homes and¬†buy a big house together and we will help you help Shantel … So we sold our home, and they sold theirs ,and we bought this split, four bedroom¬†¬†home, together where we had enough room for us all to spread out and also have room for guests…. And we thought we were all happy there until… we weren’t…When that blew up, ¬†seven years later,¬†we decided, out of necessity,¬†to split up, and go our separate ways…

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Then, Bill and I found this house, in the same neighborhood as the first home we purchased to raise Shantel in..,.which was just like the first home we had before my parents convinced us to move in with them… and that we would later regret….and, this was a REAL fixer upper, and we had to pay $132,000 dollars for the same house we had before the “big move that we paid only $86,000 for…¬†This is¬†where we moved after the split with my parents and where we lived¬†for the next 8 years.

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Bill and I spent thousands of dollars fixing this house up just to make it livable for us.. We actually paid this house off and planned to live there forever.¬†We were happy there until the HOA wouldn’t keep up their end of the deal and the neighborhood went into decay…That was when Bill and I made the decision to sell that home and move to an area that didn’t have an HOA. We sold that home in 2 days, and bought our current beautiful¬†home, in Chandler the next week… This is where we live now, and where we are celebrating our 25th anniversary:

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So after the trip down memory lane…what did we do..? Well, of course had to have lunch… We wanted to try a new place,¬† Sleepy Dog Brewery in Gilbert.

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Bill/Bro wanted to try their dark brews…so of course, I was the designated driver so he could taste their brews to his heart content… He had two¬†but he said they were well worth trying…

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This place is a cute local brewery, and throughout the place are signs that support the atmosphere they support for the people who come there…. like this:

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Or this that says ” Come, sit, stay…”

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The food was REALLY good, but NOT Weight Watcher’s friendly…Bill/Bro didn’t care…he said he was going to enjoy every bite…and he did!

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I, on the other hand, ordered a burger, but had remorse when I saw how much food was on the plate,,

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So…I had the self-control to take more than half of mine home,

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which Bill/Bro (who¬†knows, and agreed to be thrown under¬†the bus),¬†ate for dinner…,Because, after all, it is our 25th anniversary

All in all, as usual, when Bill and I are together…, we had a fun-filled time, and actually took this picture of ourselves… we were laughing¬†so hard,¬†because this was our 3rd attempt, and when we finally thought we had the camera right…we were already beyond the point of self-control,,,

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This was just a practice session to what will be our REAL celebration of our 25 years together which we already have¬†planned to celebrate in our favorite stomping grounds…San Diego California in July… after that, I will share more of our 25th Anniversary…

Stay Tuned!

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