If We Were Having Coffee… 3/3/19

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On our coffee date today, we are once again dealing with cold weather and snow. I know, winter just doesn’t seem to know when to let go this year. We can also have a slice of cake with our hot beverages today because… today is my birthday! It has been a great day for me. I’ve stayed inside out of the snow and watched spring training baseball (oh, how I wish I was in sunny, warm Jupiter, Florida!) and Netflix. An introvert’s dream!

We went out (as a family) last night for dinner for my birthday. I had an awesome steak. My kids actually got along for a few hours. We listened to 80s music in the car. I sang. Loud. The kids looked at me like I had three heads but I think they secretly enjoyed it. They gave me a ginormous bag of Cadbury mini-eggs as a gift. Best gift ever.

We’ve had a busy few weeks. Our ski trip to Wisconsin was successful and so much fun. My younger daughter tried skiing – I am so proud of her – but ultimately opted to spend her weekend tubing. She had a blast. My older daughter has become quite a skilled skier. She took on the most advanced slope and didn’t fall once. She also met a cute boy on the slopes and spent the ride home messaging him. Teenage parenting, y’all… it’s not for the faint of heart.

Since we’ve been home, it has been a blur of girl scout cookie sales, illness, and school snow days. Now that we are officially in March, I’m hoping the weather settles. We’ve had way more snow and freezing rain than we are used to.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

And stop in to grab a cup with the other Weekend Coffee Share participants here. Thanks to our host, Eclectic Alli!

 

If We Were Having Coffee…2/10/19

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Welcome, friend! Our coffee date again finds us battling a cold, blustery morning. The roads were pretty icy this morning, my husband barely made it home from the night shift. Come in and let’s grab a warm beverage!

Our temps continue to bounce between 40’s and 50’s (F) and subarctic. Everyone has upper respiratory junkiness and I’m convinced the yo-yo weather is a big factor in that. We got an awful dose of freezing rain last night, though the temps should climb above freezing today and melt it away. It’s an all-too-familiar scenario, happening over and over the last couple of weeks. To say that I am OVER this winter is an understatement.

Our refrigerator died this week. It started with the freezer (we have a side-by-side). We noticed things weren’t quite frozen. But the refrigerator side seemed okay. So we bought a new one (and that was quite the unexpected expense!) and didn’t worry too much when the store told us it wouldn’t be delivered until this coming Wednesday. We’ll be okay for a week, we thought. Well, that very night the refrigerator side went out also (and yes my husband tinkered around with it to try and fix it, to no avail). Luckily, we aren’t home much and my parents down the street have a spare that we can use for essentials. But we still are going to have to throw out and replace a lot of food.  And of course, the new fridge is coming the day before we leave for our ski trip. Like I need anything else to stress about during an already-busy week!

In preparation for the ski trip, we put new tires on my car on Friday. One of my old tires had a little warp so it made this annoying noise. The new tires are fabulous and the car rides so quietly now. You know you are firmly in adulthood when things like new tires bring you so much joy!

My kids are super excited for the ski trip to Wisconsin. My older daughter has been there before. This will be the first time for my younger one. She has been talking non-stop about it for weeks. She’s been trying on her new gear (thank you, Amazon!) every night. I’m excited for her. We are taking a total of ten girls… eight high school Freshmen and two middle-schoolers. Wish me luck!

Before I run off to do laundry and check things off my pre-trip to-do list, tell me all about your week…

And stop in to grab a cup with the other Weekend Coffee Share participants here. Thanks to our host, Eclectic Alli!

 

If We Were Having Coffee… 3/12/17

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Welcome! Come on in out of the cold. Yes, our erratic weather has struck again. After some very warm spring-like days, we have hit low temperatures yet again (but luckily avoided the snow). Hopefully this will be the last bit of winter. We can enjoy some warm beverages today.

My house is quiet this morning. We have a bonus kid today (older daughter had a sleepover last night) so the kids are occupying each other. They were up quite late last night, though, so I am tired today. Add in daylight saving time (I loathe spring forward!) and it is a recipe for zombie-level fatigue today. The Walking Dead is on tonight so maybe that is perfect.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it has been an uneventful week. Uneventful is actually good. Work and school made the week pass quickly. There have been two promising changes at work. First, someone has been assigned to help me call out screening results, relieving me of some of my overwhelming workload. Second, we may have an interested candidate for the other counseling position. Yes, the counseling position that we have been recruiting for for a year and a half. I really hope she takes the job because it would help me immensely. Fingers crossed.

If we were having coffee, I would also update you on the Kitty Chronicles. Precious, the new cat, has become quite the lovebug. She is so sweet. The cats are getting along better, there have been fewer scuffles. More and more, they can be near each other with no problems. Things are not perfect, but the house is much more peaceful.

I have also made the decision to try to quit sugar. You give me that look. I know, I understand. My sugar addiction is like a level 100 critical. I am not saying it will be easy. I am going to cut out soda (goodbye daily Mountain Dew) and my beloved high-fructose-corn syrup-laden Hawaiian punch (it deeply pains me to type that). I will drink more water. I will eat better. I went to the store last night and bought fresh fruits and nuts. I will cut out the candy (this may be the hardest part). I will exercise. These healthy changes will hopefully help me to look and feel better.

I wrote a flash fiction piece for Friday Fictioneers! It has been so long since I participated. Please check it out here.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Thanks to Emily at Nerd in the Brain for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share (created by Part-time Monster)! Stop in and have a cup with our other participants at the linkup here.

If We Were Having Coffee on Friday the 13th

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It is a great day for coffee as we settle in to ride out the ice storm, enjoying an unexpected four day weekend. I am glad I was able to clear my work schedule today and stay home and off of the slick roads. Funny, just two days ago it was 60 degrees and fabulous. I know, it isn’t supposed to be that warm in the middle of winter but I loved it. Now here we are bundled up in blankets, looking outside at the ice-covered tree branches. Sixty-five days until Spring.

I heard on the radio yesterday that pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter, Florida on February 14th. Valentine’s day. Spring training is just around the corner. The MLB season will be here before we know it. Only 78 days until opening day.

Easter candy is already on the shelves. So it can’t be that far away either, right? I got a wonderful surprise in the mail this week. My lovely friend, Violet, sent me a package. I opened it up to find:

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I love Violet! And there’s 92 days until Easter and then my beloved mini eggs disappear for the season.

The freezing rain is supposed to continue through the weekend. All of the ice will melt away next week when the temperatures climb back into the 50s. A few days holed up in the house snuggling and eating and watching a glaze form on everything outside never hurt anyone. One could even argue that it is therapeutic. Today we baked cookies. This weekend I also hope to spend time watching TV, reading and writing. If we get cabin fever, we just need to remember… 65 days until Spring.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Thanks to Diana at Part-time monster for hosting this weekly coffee chat! Join in by posting your own coffee post with the tag #weekendcoffeeshare and check out the other coffee share participants via the linkup linky on Diana’s post.

 

Port in a Storm

What I thought would be a normal trip home from work turned into anything but.

The freezing rain – the rain that the weather folks told us wouldn’t freeze – threw a wrench into an otherwise decent Friday afternoon commute. As I got further south in the city, the traffic grew heavier and slower. The roads got slicker. By the time I got out of the city proper, everything ground to a halt. I could see the northbound lanes on the other side of the wall and there were cars everywhere they shouldn’t be – against the wall, in the median, slid off on the shoulder. There were more accidents than there were emergency crews to deal with them.

After white-knuckling it for two hours (a part of my trip that normally took 30 minutes), I was exhausted and still 50 miles from home. Worried that I would either slide off the road or get slid into by another vehicle, I decided to take the next exit and wait it out. The temperatures were supposed to climb through the evening and travel would be safer later. The ramp was slippery and I felt my tires slide. Turn into the skid. Turn into the skid. Not too much brake. Easy does it.

At the bottom of the ramp was a gas station, a McDonald’s and a Super 8 hotel. Stopping for the night was probably the safest decision, but I wasn’t too hopeful when I saw the packed hotel parking lot. One quick call to the front desk confirmed my suspicions. No vacancy. I weighed my other two choices, knowing it was going to be a long night.

McDonald’s it was. Any port in a storm.

I quickly realized that many others had the same idea. The restaurant was busy. The stranded travelers were easy to spot. We were the ones huddled in the back, looking out the big glass windows at the interstate up the hill, frantically talking or typing into phones. It was 6pm, though, so others just decided to order food and sit and eat before making a plan.

It didn’t take long before people started to talk. To commiserate. To share stories. Where did you come from? Where you headed? North or South? How long did it take you to get here? How many accidents did you see? Every time someone new came in, we would get more stories. More information. Between the apps and word of mouth, we knew which highways were shut down and where. One person would share their destination and the group would share their collective data on how bad the route was and possible alternatives. There was a group of four truck drivers who were particularly helpful. They settled in for the evening and got comfortable – a sure sign that travel was a lost cause. If anyone knew a way out of this hell it would be them. The whole region was paralyzed.

Everyone had a story the night the ice shut down the city. Some were like me and just trying to get home from work. Another woman was trying to get to a town even farther south than my destination for a concert. She was an elementary music teacher. I talked to her for hours. It turned out she knew my middle/high school band teacher. She knew she couldn’t get all the way to the concert so she was going to turn around and go back home. But that required her to go North and the northbound lanes of the interstate were closed (and would wind up being closed the rest of the evening). An older man (who resembled Richard Dreyfuss, in my opinion) was trying to get home to his wife who was babysitting their grandchildren. He lamented about missing time with the little boys. A family was travelling to a wedding. Another family was passing through the region from Memphis, unsure whether to keep going or to turn back and head toward home. A couple was heading south to their rural home after spending the day in the city attending medical appointments. A young couple was heading home after the girl had just picked up the boy from the airport.

The people came and went for the most part. There was a group of us – the music teacher, the four truckers and me – who stayed all evening. Others came in for an hour or two and then left again to take their chances in the traffic. And everyone who came was welcomed into the fold. We watched the overworked crews clear accident after accident on the interstate above. The traffic was neverending, thick with volume and backed up for hours from accidents. About 10pm a volunteer firefigher came in exhausted to grab a quick meal before heading out again. He had been helping clear accidents all night. We paid for his food.

The truckers finally left around 10:30pm. The restaurant was clearing out by that point. I stayed until about 11:15pm. The southbound traffic had eased by then and the temperatures had risen above freezing. My MODOT app was telling me that the roads that would take me home were mostly clear. The northbound lanes were still closed so my teacher friend stayed.

Five hours. Five hours of my life were spent unexpectedly at the little McDonald’s just south of the city. I met countless people. We shared more than just routes and destinations and travel headaches that night. I heard a little slice of their life story. Connecting with strangers like this can be very uplifting. There are still good people – many good people – who are willing to help others, to reassure and support them when they are scared and frustrated.

I am thankful that I spent five hours of my life with some of those people Friday night.

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True Story. Friday, December 16 an unexpected ice storm moved through the St. Louis area causing massive accidents and crippling travel. The temperatures got just a bit colder than expected and by the evening rush hour the rain turned into an ice event of epic proportions.

Weekend Rewind 2/14/16

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It’s time for Weekend Rewind – my weekly casual post to chat and catch up. No prompts, no rules – anything goes.

Let’s get random…

First things first… THE WALKING DEAD! GAH! OK, I will post no spoilers here but if you are a fan and haven’t seen tonight’s episode then run to your dvr and watch it NOW. It is seriously one of the best episodes of the series. It is intense, amazing, inspiring. Daryl is a total badass, Rick goes bat shit crazy, people die, our favorites band together to take a stand. Ah, just go watch.

Second… happy Valentine’s Day! Like with most holidays, I count my blessings today. I realized today, as I scrolled through my facebook feed, how many of my friends were in pain today due to divorce, loss or loneliness. My husband and I are not big celebrators of V-Day, but we did watch The Walking Dead together (seriously, go watch that episode!). My children, though, poured their little hearts out in homemade valentines and cards and drawings. They are just so full of love. I happily soak in every ounce of it (and thank my lucky stars).

Unfortunately, winter arrived this week. We have had more snow in the past seven days than we have had all winter. We didn’t get much at a time, but just enough to mess up the commute. Several days. Then this morning we woke up to several inches again. As stressed out as I have been, I have managed to get back and forth safely all week. By the end of this coming week we are supposed to be back in the 60’s so *fingers crossed* I am hoping winter is almost over.

My older daughter turns 12 in eight days. Eight days. Wow. I remember bringing a tiny six-pound bundle from the hospital all those years ago. I was just worried about keeping her alive then. Now she is a tween and I worry about so much more. I worry about helping her navigate the crazy world of middle school and hormones to become a good person who will grow into a happy, well-adjusted adult. She is an awesome kid but I wish she wasn’t growing up so fast.

The girls and I had a movie night last night and we watched Maleficent (at Caitlin’s request). We’ve seen it before, it is one of our favorites. I love how it shows that there are two sides to every story and not all villains are as evil as they seem.

Have a great upcoming week, everyone!

Best Winter Day Ever

Once upon a time, in the middle of the Midwestern winter, the people were blessed with a beautiful sunny 60 degree day. The warmth was like magic, lifting people’s spirits and bringing them out of their hibernation spots. The people knew the warmth would not last long, so they took advantage of every last glorious moment. This is how my little family spent that day.

First, we went to one of my favorite places: The Seminary. It was one of the first Catholic Seminaries built this side of the Mississippi River. The church, an old European cathedral style, still holds one Mass per weekend. The Seminary no longer trains students but serves as a retirement home for Catholic priests. The grounds are pure serenity.

The church:

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On the way to the walking/running path, we passed by the cemetery. This is where the priests are buried (I’ve always found it a bit ironic that the windows of the retirement home look out over the cemetery). I love walking through here and looking at the tombstones. I like to imagine all of the stories they could tell.

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On the path (those are the kiddos). Image how beautiful this is in the spring and summer when the trees are green and everything is blooming. I actually ran a little… just a little since my back can’t take a lot.

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At the Grotto, about halfway through the path.

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After completing our walk around the Seminary grounds, we went to the lake. There is something so medicinal about standing on the waterfront, breeze blowing your hair and sunshine warming your face. There were people fishing, boating and riding ATV’s. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn that some time warp had picked us up and tossed us into spring.

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In the woods by the lake there is a shooting range where Caitlin shot her bow and arrow. She’s getting pretty good. We also walked on the trails and the girls looked for sticks and rocks. My girls are country girls! On the way home, we took bets on whether there would be anyone golfing on the golf course. There were several.

This day was truly a gift from the heavens. A cold front is supposed to move in and we will get some severe storms in the next couple of days. February is predicted to be snowy. Today none of that mattered. Today was a promise of what awaits on the other side of winter.