Casual Fridays ( Weekend Rewind) 8/28/15

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Its time for Casual Fridays/Weekend Rewind – my weekly chat post with no rules, no prompts, anything goes. Since it is Sunday night, I am coming in just under the wire.

Let’s get random …

This will be a short post since it is getting late. My weekend was equal parts busy and restful. Saturday we spent time getting ready for the first Girl Scout meeting of the season. The first meeting is our investiture and rededication ceremony. This is where our old scouts rededicate to another year and our new scouts are initiated into the troop. We have added several new girls this year so that is exciting.

On Saturday night, both of my daughters were invited to sleepovers. This meant that I had an evening to myself since my husband was busy raiding on World of Warcraft. So I actually had some time to write. I spent time writing other projects and unfortunately did not get any blog posts finished. But I had time to write and that’s the important thing. It felt great!

With both girls gone this morning, my husband and I were able to sleep in and enjoy a lazy Sunday morning in bed. We don’t get to do that very often so it was almost like a mini vacation. Of course, laundry and housework also called. Then this afternoon it was time for the Girl Scout ceremony.

Tonight I watched the second episode of fear the walking dead. I am really enjoying this new series.

While Mondays are always difficult, I have hope that this coming week at work will be better. My schedule is lighter and I am hoping to catch up on some things. Fingers crossed.

Have a great week, everyone!

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Casual Fridays (Weekend Rewind) – 8/21/15

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Happy Sunday! That means it is time for the latest installment of Casual Fridays (Sunday edition), my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

Ah, glorious Sunday morning.  Lazy Sunday morning. I have spent most of the morning lounging in the bed. I get up every hour to rotate the clothes in the laundry. Now I am watching The Walking Dead marathon on AMC.  My kids are entertaining themselves (otherwise known as “total bliss”).

So, the Walking Dead… the new companion series, Fear the Walking Dead, starts tonight! I am so excited. Since it is from the same producers as the original I know it will be high quality and every video clip sneak preview that I have seen does not disappoint. Watching the marathon of the original this morning has just made me even more pumped. I cannot tell you how much I love this show. Spoiler alert if you are trying to catch up… I just watched the episode where Beth dies and I am currently watching the episode where Tyreese dies. So much heartbreak in these two episodes. I have high hopes that the new series will give me a whole new set of characters to love (and hate – because these producers are just as good at creating evil villains as they are at creating lovable heroes).

Work was busy this week and it will be even more hectic next week. I have accepted this. Right now I am just enjoying the calm before the storm.

Thursday night was instrument rental night for my middle school daughter, Kiera. A band student for two weeks, she now finally has her flute. She’s a chip off the old block as I am a flutist as well. I’m sure that had something to do with her choosing it and I am okay with that. I think she will be good at it. To watch her excitement that night and to see her swell with pride when she opened that case and saw that shiny, new instrument… well, that did my heart good. I can’t wait to share my love of music with her and watch her develop her own. We took the flute out yesterday and I taught her how to put it together, hold it, clean it and care for it. I played music for her on it. Fun times are ahead.

(sidenote: I had to look up whether flutist or flautist was correct. I think they both are but flutist is more commonly used in America and flautist is more commonly used in other countries. Carry on)

We were at an event yesterday and Kiera was doing face painting. She had a blast. She loves art and she is pretty good at it. There were also horse rides there so she was totally in her element. My younger daughter at one point wandered off to go do the water balloon catapult with the boy scouts. She came back a while later with the front of her shirt soaked. She had went from launching the catapult to catching the water balloons. It didn’t matter in the end because a rainstorm blew in and soaked everything. We all wound up huddled under a pavilion to wait it out.

I am working on a piece today. It is very short but I am so anxious to get something published here besides Casual Fridays. Stay tuned.

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and upcoming week, everyone!

Casual Fridays (Weekend Rewind) – 8/14/15

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Happy Sunday! That means it is time for the latest installment of Casual Fridays (Sunday edition), my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

I am thinking about changing the name of this feature to Weekend Rewind. Thoughts?

This was a busy week in our house since school started on Thursday. Summer is officially over. Once supplies were organized, we took them to open house on Tuesday. New clothes were washed and closets were cleaned out and organized. We took the first day pictures and posted them on facebook. Lots of papers came home and our calendar is quickly filling up with events. Suddenly I am drowning in paperwork. So far so good, though. Both kids are adjusting well to their schedules – even my reluctant sixth grader is getting used to switching classes every hour. The new band parent meeting is this week for instrument rental. So by the end of the week, we will add daily flute practice to the agenda.

We are also making a schedule for the upcoming scout year. With two troops, this gets a little hairy. We strive to keep the troops active and the activities varied and interesting so it is extremely time consuming. I am thankful that I can share this experience with my girls, though, so we make it work. The girls are excited to get “back to troop.”

The first three days of the week at work were quiet. I was caught up and feeling pretty good about things in general. Things hit the fan on Thursday and Friday, throwing my little world off kilter. By the end of Friday, I felt completely buried and overwhelmed. One step forward, two steps back. We dance.

This weekend has been about relaxation. Friday night (kid-free) night was ice cream and redbox night. That is a perfect way for me to unwind. Saturday I got a lot of rest. I also had a headache so I kind of hibernated. Today we cleaned house in the morning and have been relaxing this afternoon. My husband cleaned out the garage (again, thank you, Adderall). He moved everything out and powerwashed and he will put things back in a more organized manner. We actually have a big garage so there is quite a bit in there besides the two cars.

One week from today is the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead (the companion series of the Walking Dead) on AMC. I am SO excited. It will be a six episode run and then it will be time for TWD new season to start.

I have decided that I want to make a Home Management Binder. You know, where you print sheets and keep all of your details in one binder (budget, bills, calendar, health info., accounts, passwords, to-do-lists, etc.). I have been on Pinterest lately scouting out free printables. I’m not sure why I haven’t jumped on this bandwagon before. It is the perfect thing for my little obsessive-compulsive heart. I can’t wait to get all of my sheets and pick my binder.

That’s all for me this week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great upcoming week, everyone!

Casual Fridays 8/7/15

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Happy Sunday! That means it is time for the latest installment of Casual Fridays (Sunday edition), my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m just getting around to Casual Fridays. But, in my defense, it has been a busy weekend. It’s the last weekend before school starts.

I actually had a pretty good week at work. Things are starting to settle in. On Wednesday, I went out to the suburban office – which is where I worked before I lost my job four years ago. It was so nice to be back there and to see all of my old coworkers. I will be going out there one day a week and I will be at my normal downtown office four days a week.

We had a girl scout recruitment event Wednesday at the pool. My girls were happy to get to swim since we haven’t been to the pool much since swim lessons ended. We may be adding some new girls to the troop which is always… interesting. The pool time was unfortunately cut short by a storm. This has been the rainiest summer ever.

Yesterday was spent shopping for back-to-school shoes and clothes. It is also tax-free weekend in my state so the stores were packed. Shoe shopping turned out to be far easier, we only had to go to one store. We were even able to find acceptable shoes for my picky sixth-grader. Clothes shopping was more strenuous as both of my girls are hard to fit. But after schlepping from store to store for hours, we were able to get enough jeans, leggings and tops to start the school year. It was a long day and I came home and had to recharge my social batteries.

To reward myself yesterday, I got a new purse. And I absolutely adore it.

Today we organized and labelled school supplies. Everything is sorted and ready to go to school on Tuesday for open house.  My sixth grader is so nervous about switching classes this year. There have been tears. We wrote out her schedule today  for A and B days and put it in her binder. We will find all of her classrooms on Tuesday and reassure her again. Growing up is so hard (on everyone). I’m really proud of her, by the way. Her favorite part of shopping day was not the clothes but wandering around Barnes and Noble browsing the books.

It was sunny this morning and my husband put our dog outside on the zipline. I was laying in bed and all of a sudden I heard rain on the roof. I looked out the window and it was sunny and pouring down rain! Even on our nice days we get rain. My daughter ran out to get Rusty, who was barking and not too happy about getting wet. Strangely, the little cloudburst only lasted a few minutes.

Have a great rest of the weekend and upcoming week, everyone!

One Year Later

July 31, 2014

I remember that day well. It was a sunny, beautiful day and I was at work when I got the call. When I saw my husband’s name on my cell’s caller ID, I assumed he was calling to say hello or ask what I wanted for dinner. I was not prepared for what I heard when I answered the phone.

“My mom was in a really bad car accident. I don’t think she’s going to make it.”

His voice was shaky, but clear and I could tell that he was trying to hold it together, trying not to panic. As my brain slowly processed the information I started to ask the usual… what, where, how?

“She had Bria and a couple of her friends with her. They are saying someone died on scene but nobody knows who yet. I’m really scared that it’s Bria.”

Bria is our niece (my husband’s sister’s daughter) and she was 14 years old at the time of the accident. Bria was born just a few weeks after our wedding, the first grandchild for my in-laws.

We started to make plans. I was at work, an hour away from my husband. And the accident happened in Charleston, South Carolina which was a 14 hour drive from our home. I left work immediately and phoned my parents to make arrangements for our kids. We debated on whether to take them with us in case there wound up being a funeral, but we decided to leave them at home with my parents since we had no idea what was going on in South Carolina. My sister-in-law was in Columbia, South Carolina, two hours away from the accident. So by the time I got home from work, she still hadn’t made it to the hospital to learn her daughter’s fate.

My husband and I packed hurriedly and started driving south. I found a news report of the accident online and they were calling it a fatal crash. I read the comments under the article trying to glean any information. There were actually some comments from someone who witnessed the accident. There were also some hurtful comments – remember family members do read those.

We were in contact with my father-in-law and sister-in-law and information slowly filtered in. My mother-in-law had a significant brain bleed and underwent emergency surgery upon arrival at the hospital. Our niece, Bria, was alive and stable. She had several injuries but none were life-threatening. Bria had two friends with her in the back seat. One was also stable with multiple non-life-threatening injuries. The other friend, Hannah, died at the scene. My mother-in-law had been driving the kids around town in a convertible with the top down. She had lost control of the vehicle and drove into oncoming traffic and was t-boned by a minivan.

After surgery, my mother-in-law did stabilize. My husband decided to take me home to stay with the kids even though we were several hours into the trip. He went to South Carolina alone and spent his days with his dad at his mom’s bedside in the ICU and his nights in a hotel (my in-laws also live in Columbia so they had nowhere to stay in Charleston). The neurologist warned the family that with the amount of cerebral hemorrhage that the MRI’s did not look good. They gave her a very poor prognosis and slim to no chance of recovery. She was in a coma for weeks. As often happens, the family disagreed over what to do. Some wanted to honor her living will and let her go. Others wanted to wait and see and give her a chance.

When she did finally wake weeks later, progress was extremely slow. It was not immediately clear what her prognosis was. The accident had left her with no sight in one eye and limited sight in the other. Her hearing was affected. She had multiple physical injuries. The most significant, though, was the impact of the brain injury. Her brain was swollen and damaged which made everything difficult. She had some intact long-term memory but her short term memory was non-existent.

She learned of Hannah’s death. This may have been harder than overcoming her own injuries. She also had to be told multiple times because her memory wouldn’t let her store the information long. Bria healed physically but struggled emotionally with the loss of her close friend.

As months went by, my mother-in-law slowly improved. She learned to walk again. Her speech improved more slowly but it did improve. Her sight remained limited. Overcoming the effects of the brain injury proved to be her biggest obstacle. She was plagued with headaches and dizziness and she could retain new information for a very short time. My father-in-law retired to care for her at home. She couldn’t be left alone so they hired a part-time homecare nurse to help.

It became clear that their lives had permanently changed. We realized that she would never work again. Prior to the accident she was a vibrant 62 year-old who was a consultant for Alzheimer/dementia patients and their families. She was always on the go. My father-in-law worked two jobs before the accident even though he was retired from the military. Now he was fully retired and caring for his wife who was completely dependent and had many medical needs and was also dealing with grief and guilt issues. The last half of 2014 was tumultuous to say the least.

A lot of emotional healing has happened in this family – for my mother-in-law and between her and her husband, her daughter, her granddaughter and Hannah’s family (who remain their close friends). Right after the accident, the stress of her coma and prognosis caused fractures in the family. These are fractures that have also had to be reopened and healed.

Today, my mother-in-law still walks with a walker. She has regained some of the vision in her better eye. She still has partial hearing loss. She still has some headache and dizziness issues. Her short term memory has improved slightly, but remains a significant setback. Her speech is clear, though slower than it used to be (even slower when she’s tired). She only occasionally stumbles or has to search for words. She still misses Hannah, though she has made peace with Hannah’s family. Overall, she is thankful for a second chance.

Why am I sharing this story? This has obviously changed our family greatly, even more than I can adequately express here. My message is simple. Life can change in a split second. It takes a fraction of a moment to alter the future that we have planned for ourselves. Loved ones can be taken away in a heartbeat. Cherish life. Tell your loved ones what they mean to you. Love and don’t let go.

Casual Fridays 7/31/15

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Happy Saturday! That means it is time for the latest installment of Casual Fridays (Saturday morning edition), my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

It is August!! How did that happen? We are knee-deep in back to school mode in my household (my kids go back to school in 12 days… but who’s counting?) and it still feels like summer but turning the corner into August means we are one step closer to my favorite time of year. It means that we are almost to September and October. This girl can almost smell the bonfires, taste the s’mores and feel the soft warmth of my hoodie. Soon, sweet fall, soon.

School supplies are bought and middle school orientation was attended. My daughter has her schedule and posed beautifully for her picture. I wrote a million checks. We still have to shop for clothes and shoes. The only other thing that stands between us and the first day of school is Open House night. Of course, the second grade and sixth grade decided to have open house on the same night so I will have to pull off that mom-magic of being in two places at once. They do overlap but thankfully one starts earlier than the other so we will do that one first and then mad dash to the other. My second grader is desperate to find out who is in her class. She only knows that her closest friends are not in her class which has made her cranky.

This weekend is the Seminary Picnic. Let me tell you about the Seminary Picnic. I live in a small town of about 8,000 people. It is a typical small, midwestern town. People are nice and friendly for the most part but everyone knows everyone and everyone’s business. About three-quarters of the town goes to the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has an old seminary – St. Mary’s of the Barrens – that was built in the early 1820’s and was the first seminary west of the Mississippi River. The seminary grounds have a breathtaking old cathedral, cemetery, grotto/shrine and just happen to be one of my favorite places on earth. The old church still has one mass every weekend but most people go to the newer church down the street. So back to the picnic. It is the small-town church picnic that trumps all other small-town church picnics. It has been going on for over 100 years and draws people from all over the area. On the sprawling seminary grounds, the picnic has tons of food stands, beer stands, games, rides, bingo, live music and sit-down dinner in the dining hall. And the best homemade ice cream you have ever tasted. And quilts. There is a committee of women (most of them over 75 years old) who make quilts all year long for the picnic. People pay top dollar for these elaborate, hand-stitched quilts (or get lucky and win them at bingo). My dad has been going to the picnic since he was a kid and so have I. And so have my kids.

So the Seminary Picnic will be the social event of my weekend. I am an introvert with social anxiety so you can also imagine how that goes. The crowds make me anxious and I run into everyone – and I mean everyone – that I know. It is exhausting. My kids absolutely love it. They mostly like the games and rides. I am happy to sit with ice cream or maybe even a mixed drink and listen to a live band. They want to walk around and see everything. And, of course, I indulge them because I remember how excited I used to get for the picnic when I was their ages. I am looking forward to ice cream and a funnel cake. Did I mention the ice cream?

Yesterday also marked the one-year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s car accident. I’m thinking about writing a longer post to talk through the aftermath. Maybe I’ll do that tonight or tomorrow.

Oh, and work! It is going okay. I am super busy but I am keeping up. I am trying to not let it bleed all over my life so I think it’s good that it was basically a footnote in Casual Fridays!

Have a wonderful weekend and upcoming week, everyone!