See you next year

I was hoping to write something eloquent, clever, gritty, or funny today to end the month. But alas, I didn’t get to my slice this morning, and as the day went on, it only got more and more busy and very stressful. So I’ll just say thank you to everyone who played along this month. Thank you for sharing your slices. I’ve loved reading them. Thank you to everyone who read my slices. And thank you to those who took time to comment. Every view and comment made my heart leap more than you will ever know.

I love writing in here. I love it, and I feel like I’m good at it. And I love sharing my writing. I say every year that I will try to continue on Tuesdays and then life gets in the way and it never happens. But I’ll leave it open. Maybe I’ll try to get some Tuesdays in, here and there.

I wish everyone the best. See you next year!

26 years in the making (let’s hope)

Let’s take a trip back in time. The year is 1995. TLC’s “Waterfalls,” “Mariah Carey’s “Fantasty,” Madonna’s “Take a Bow,” “Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” (come on, you know you loved it!), and Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” (very poignantly, but unintentionally released just 3 weeks after the horrific Cary-Grove bus crash in my town) topped the charts.

You could find my high school self sporting chokers, flannels (um, this never went away, as I writing this while wearing one), Steve maddens, scrunchies, a leather jacket, baby doll dresses or short skirts with thigh highs, and round sun glasses. And I saw all of the top three grossing movies “Die Hard With A Vengence,” “Toy Story (first pixar ever!),” and “Apollo 13” in the theater.

Now that you are snuggled in closely with the mid 1990’s, I can share where my story begins.

My aunt was in town from Georgia, and I just loved everything about her. Her southern drawl (even though none of the rest of our family has this accent), her sweet smell, her interest in my teenage life, and her general sense of “coolness.” On one particular day of her visit, Aunt Shelia picked up the yarn from my mom’s current crocheting project and asked me if I wanted to learn how. Like a true teenager, I said yes! Despite many pleas from my own mother to learn.

I felt so special with my aunt nestled close to my side while she showed me how to wrap the yarn through my left fingers while holding the needle in my right. It was easy enough, just a single crochet. But I was mesmerized. Before long I had a couple of rows, and I couldn’t believe I had created something!

We ventured out to Frank’s Nursery and Crafts (one of my favorite stores EVER as a kid and teen. Just thinking about it now is giving me super happy nostalgic feels) to buy yarn for my very first blanket. After eyeing skeins and skeins of every color imaginable, I chose a creamy pink for the bulk of the blanket and white for borders on each end.

We got home, and I went straight to work. Push through, turn, grab, pull through. Push through, turn, grab, pull through. On and on I went. By the time my aunt returned home, I had finished the entire white bottom. I was on a role! I’d be done in no time!

Let’s take a trip back in time. The year is 2005. I was seeing Star Wars Episode 8 and The Chronicles of Narnia in the theater. I was listening to “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani, “Since You been Gone,” by Kelly Clarkson, and “You and Me,” by Lifehouse….which ended up being in MY WEDDING VIDEO. Because yes, 2005 was the year I got married. And you guessed it, the blanket is not finished. I start joking about how, perhaps, it will be a baby blanket for my first child. And by now I have grown tired of the giant swatch of pink that this blanket has become, so I change it up a bit and get a blue, pink, and white ombre skein. Only further pushing the baby blanket idea. I’ve got a lot to do the year I am getting married, but I’m 1/3 of the way through the blanket. I’ll be done in no time!

Let’s take a trip back in time to…2020. This is going to be a great year! Nothing weird or world ending is going to happen! For some reason I can’t recall any movies or music that came out…hmmm…it’s like the world stopped…but it must just be me. But I’m fairly certain the main fashion craze was pajamas. Anyway, I’m going to work on my blanket again! By now, it may have to be a baby blanket for one of my two CHILDREN’s children, since they are now 10 and 7. Oops, oh well.

Then, wouldn’t you know it, somehow 2020 turned out to be kind of stressful. Weird. So despite having lots of time at home, it fell by the wayside into a poor, tired puddle in the back corner of the family room, collecting dust once more. Until one day, when my 7 year old daughter saw it and said, “Mommy, why don’t you finish it?” I told her I might just give up on it. I don’t even like the colors anymore. It’s not the best/softest yarn. And I’d rather just start something fresh. “But I love it! I would use it!” And that’s when I decided, I had to finish the darn thing. Even if it took 25 years since I first laid fingers on it.

It was meant to be a Christmas present, but with not being able to work on it while she was awake, that made that idea very difficult. But I finished as much as I could and wrapped it in a box. When she opened it, tears came to her eyes, and she said “Awwww….mommy…you didn’t have to do that.” And I cried. It was worth the crazy amount of work I had put into it the last couple months. Literally working on 2/3 of it in the last 2 months, when it took me 25 years to do the first 1/3!!

Unfortunately…it’s still not finished though. It hit a literal snag and parts of it and my sanity began to unravel. I got some of it fixed by a friend and began again. More unraveled, and I attempted to fix it myself. This thing is no longer the masterpiece I had hoped for. It’s got spots that have been stitched over and over to try to get it to stay together. It’s wider in the beginning than towards the ending because of learning how to finish the rows better. And accidentally switching to a smaller needle halfway through. But gosh darnit, I’m going to finish it! It will most certainly be filled with lots of love. Swears and tears too, but lots of love.

I’m really hoping lucky number year 26 is the magic year. It will be pretty amazing when this finally becomes the blanket my daughter and I read under every night. Even if it is when she is 18 😉

Hiking, family of 4

The kids are on spring break. My husband took the day off of work. Now what? I’m not a camper and we don’t often even hike too much other than on flat trails, but I suggest walking/hiking at a forest preserve and the plan unfurls from there.

2 years ago, just the two of us, my husband and I explored Waterfall Glen in Lemont, IL. It was pretty and we had said we should take the kids there sometime. Well, a year go away from us and then, well you know those pesky pandemics and how they like to ruin your fun.

So today was the day. The are back open. The weather is beautiful, if for just a bit extra windy. Off we drove to Waterfall Glen with all 4 of us strapped in the car and loaded with snacks, water, masks, sweatshirts, and towels in case the kids wanted to walk in the river.

The first few minutes on the trail start off the excitement with passing by lots of loudly, ribitting frogs. We continue further where each child acquires their perfect walking stick. No walk or hike is complete without one. We meander through smaller trails through the woods, but end up back on the main trail that heads to the waterfall.

You can hear it coming long before you can see it…from the rush of the water and the yelling excitement of children enjoying their time there. My kids get excited when the arrive. Cool!! It’s so pretty! Now don’t get TOO excited. It’s not THAT big of a waterfall. if measure from the bottom to the top, it’s about 7 feet. But it’s all broken up by rocks and makes for a beautiful site and lovely bubbly sounds.

My daredevil of a daughter has already decided she wants to take her shoes off and wade across the rocks to try to make it all the way around the river and over the water fall. And she pretty much did it! I love her go get em attitude and spirit! My son was staying on the sidelines. Not because that’s where wants to be necessarily but because he’s just too scared to try things sometimes, unfortunately.

After snacking at the water fall, we hiked more, up and down steep sides of the small canyon that nestled the river at its base. I was thankful for the tangle of roots and stones that served as natures staircases to help you climb up or down the hilly elevation.

By the time we made it back to our cars, we were all exhausted. The kids, in unison yell, “Andy’s!” The local frozen custard place down the road. So to Andy’s we navigated.

It was a great day. Spent in nature. Spent with family.

Now I’m ready for a nap.

Snail Mail

In the least year or so, I have taken up writing cards to others. It has become something I really enjoy doing. Imagining what their face looks like when they get real mail in their mailbox that is normally bogged down by bills and junk mail. I know it always makes me happy when I get something like that.

So every so often, I sit down with my growing piles of pretty, cute, and colorful cards and write down short notes to friends who I just feel like saying hi to. Others I know are having a hard time, so I address that a bit while also just spreading some cheer. I send notes of thanks. Thanks for something they did for me. Or just thanks for being a good friend.

Sending some cards has been on my to do list for weeks now, and it kept getting pushed off. So today, after all of our other activities were over, I pulled out my writing bucket and went to work. Kitten, flowers, butterflies, and stripes filled each card I wrote my happy message in. And now I will walk them out out and pop them in the mailbox and do my favorite thing every since I was kid…put the flag up 🙂

And then I begin to wonder when they will arrive at their destinations and how each person will react. It doesn’t matter how. I have already gotten my end of the joy from it.

Anxiety Attack

Fingers flicking.

Face tightening.

Foot tapping.

Leg shaking.

Hair twisting.

Lip biting.

Heart racing.

Hair pulling.

Tears welling.

Temper rising.

Patience snapping.

Mood tanking.

Interaction failing.

Thoughts spinning.

Anger exploding.

Hurting feelings.

Thinking spiraling.

Mind overthinking.

Feelings overriding.

Logic strangled.

Guilt overwhelming.

Thoughts speeding.

Brain frying.

Mind paralyzed.

Anxiety invading and conquering.

Future Slice of lifer??

My sister in law got my 7.5 year old daughter a journal as a little gift today. She was immediately excited when she saw it. “I can like, journal in this??” Yes! I told her. My son chimes in, you know like mom does her blog. You can write in there. I love that they know about my blog challenge and how much I like it. (When my daughter was in preK, for mother’s day, they wrote a “my mommy always…” and she wrote “writes in her blog” and drew a picture of me at my computer 🙂 She worked on it March, so it made sense. So cute though)

She pulls out a pencil and attempts to write, but gets frustrated and says to me, “I don’t know what to write! You have so many good ideas and write about such great stuff!” I told her, ummmm…I wrote about Cheez it’s the other day, lol. Not exactly Shakespeare. It’s not always amazing subjects, just something that strikes you and then you just run with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

So I listed a few things that I wrote about this month…cheez its, a lamp, a walk, flowers, a song, finding melted candy in my pocket…and she suddenly says, “Oh! I know! I can write about seeing the cardinal in the bush!!” I told her that was great and off she ran to get started.

She doesn’t want me to share her entry because she said it’s meant to be kind of private (but I am so happy she let me read it), but I will just say, it’s so good!! We have been talking about similes because the Ramona book we’ve been reading has a ton of them, and so she used 2 really good ones! “As red as a ruby” and “a mask like a bandit.” (she was okay with me sharing those 2 quotes). So good! And the whole thing had such good voice. And great descriptive words!

I just love that she sat down on her own and wrote a whole page! I love that she is loving writing. I love that she has sensed my love of writing. And I love that she is so good at it! This is not the first thing she has written that I have been impressed with. She has written a few stories that are pretty awesome too!

Maybe she’ll be in our SOLC one of these years 🙂

You hold it together, until you can’t.

Days go by and I endure the pain. The ache. The agony.

Silently. Restrained. Reticent.

The torment, like fire, licks at my flesh and bones, wounding my psyche more with each passing minute.

But I abstain from unloading my burden onto others or even myself.

Instead, I move along. Advance. Survive.

Elbowing the misery to the corners of my mind,

To live. To support. To mother.

Until

The crushing weight of suffering spills over the break wall of tenacity.

The wounds are too vast. The load is too heavy.

My body and spirit crack under the pressure,

Releasing unbridled sobs of suppressed sorrow, pain, and anguish.

Weeping persists as my brain releases turmoil like a release valve on a pressure cooker.

Slowly, the grieving of the past’s abuses recedes,

Sadly, only for it all to begin once again.

Mourning the loss of a beloved snack

I knew it was coming. The countdown to the end started months ago. I didn’t want to face the truth…My beloved Original Cheddar Cheez it Grooves were being discontinued…being replaced by what they claim is a similar flavor. BUT IT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE.

It was a day like no other. After getting a Walmart pickup, which should have included said grooves, and unloading the car, something is different. From afar, my red boxes of cheesy goodness appeared to be what they should be. But when pulling one out of the bag, the truth was revealed. These were not my Original Cheddar Cheese Cheez It Grooves! “Bold Cheddar?!” What is this?? Walmart must have made a mistake. I look up the item on their website and horror washes over my face. Where my cherished Original Cheddar should be stands a picture of the Bold Cheddar flavor. And the nail in the coffin…Bold Cheddar on the Kellogg’s website. The Bold Cheddar flavor has officially usurped Original Cheddars’ role.

I race to my pantry to count how many boxes I have left of my hallowed grooves. 1…2…3…wait…no…there has to be more!! Three. That’s all that remains. These three boxes are all that’s left of this light and crispy crackery wafer covered in a powder of the most delectable salty cheddar seasoning I’ve ever tasted.

I formulate a plan and visit Walmart’s shipping website (instead of the pickup website). And there! After typing “original cheddar,” the picture of the old box appears!! Hope surges through my body! I order 10 boxes (like the crazy person I am). The order is confirmed and relief sweeps over me. I will have more original cheddar! Then I get another email saying that the order will be delivered from a local store earlier than expected. Awesome. I’ll get them sooner! I go to the porch to bring in the obscene amount of boxes that would have all been packed in one large shipping box, disguising my OCD purchase, but were instead in bags. Lots and lots of bags.

I open the first bag and my face drops. Bold Cheddar. I move to the next. Bold Cheddar. I erratically tear into all of the bags: Bold Cheddar Bold Cheddar Bold Cheddar Bold Cheddar Bold Cheddar Bold Cheddar. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! I should have known since they came from the same store that these would be the same imposters.

New plan. Perhaps other stores still have some of the old flavor left on their shelves. I must buy them all! I scour the aisle in Mejier. Bold Cheddar. I comb the shelves at Target. Bold Cheddar. I check another Walmart. Bold Cheddar. I think I’m going to have to start accepting this new reality. A reality without Original Cheddar! A reality I’m not quite ready to accept.

So I mourn for only a few moments because I’ve got work to do. I must preserve the 3 boxes I have left for as long as possible. I set off to separate them into individual snack sized bags. The final number is in….sad drum roll….30 bags. 30 bags, EVER. I must make them last. I try to eat a bag only every few days. It works. The pile of bags stored inside the box dwindles, but slowly enough that I don’t panic right away.

But last night was THE NIGHT. I reluctantly plucked the final bag from beautiful original cheddar box. I brought it upstairs, got in my cozy bed, and settled in for a snack and some tv. I ate the grooves one exquisite crunch at a time, savoring each and every spec of cheesy salt from every cracker. As the bag grew emptier, my mood turned glum. I was trying to enjoy them, but the sadness of the coming inevitability hindered my indulgence. And finally, there was only 1. One lone cracker left. I popped it in my mouth, sucked the cheddar salt clean off it (the only proper way to them), and then they were all just…gone.

Life will have to move on. I will attempt to move on to Bold Cheddar but it will never be the same.

What favorite food or drink of yours went to the chopping block? I have had so many others too. This is just the latest.

(as I was writing this, I was thinking, I don’t think I looked at Jewel!! They have been my go to for all things discontuned at other stores. Maybe they still have some there??? Maybe this isn’t the end??? I really shouldn’t get my hopes up. But I may stop there today and report back here!)

Magicked out Mama

This magical mama is tired. Exhausted from the week’s enchanted activities.

Late at night, already tucked into bed, hurting, tired, and really not wanting to get back out of bed at 11pm, the Tooth Fairy glittered her way into the room of sleeping babes twice this week. Once, even visiting the bedroom of the child who did not lose a tooth because said child left cute signs all over the hallway to visit her and read the letter she wrote and try out the trampoline she built for fairies (she had made this trampoline before she even realized that a fairy was DEFINITELY coming that night).

The job of being the Tooth Fairy is one of the most anxiety inducing duties in the parenting job handbook. YOU HAVE TO GO IN THEIR ROOM WITHOUT WAKING THEM UP. You painstakingly slowly turn the doorknob, and it inevitably lets out a large click no matter how hard you try to keep it silent. As you tiptoe into the room, you hit the one spot in the floor that creaks like the rusty gate of a 100 year old haunted house. Your knee and hip pop with the sound of a golf ball striking against a putter. The child stirs, letting out adorable, tiny moaning sounds and turning their head or body in a new direction, which either stops your heart completely or makes it beat right out of your chest with panic. The excuses you rehearsed ahead of time as to why you might be in their room suddenly fall right out of your brain. You hide behind their bed like a monster ready to scare the ever living daylights out of the child, praying they lay still once again.

As they settle, you lean down, and slower than a sleepwalking sloth, you begin to slide the envelope holding the prized tooth out from under the pillow and your kid’s 75 pound head. Once released, you gingerly slip the quarters under the pillow, where they undoubtedly scrape together and let out a small “clink.” (every damn time.) You restart your heart, again, quickly shove the envelope inside your shirt, and start the slow creep back to the door. Repeat cautious turning of the knob, run to the other side of the door, quietly turn the knob AGAIN, and then run away!! You get back into your room, close the door, and collapse on the floor. You did it!!

After two teeth in one week, and a Leprechaun visit to boot, this magicked out mama is really hoping for a much needed reprieve from the sneaky charms needed to create these childhood memories. But the stories they tell and the looks on their faces make it all worth it.

Baby songs

It started in an expected place. It was during one of my umpteenth viewings of the Robert Downey Jr. movie Heart and Souls, a movie that came out in 1993…17 years before I would have my first baby. But in the movie, the mother character has a special song she sings to her kids every night. She then dies and becomes one of the souls that are stuck with Downey Jr. throughout his life. Later in the movie, they try to find people from their lives. She hears a policeman singing that same song to his daughter and she knows that has to be her son because that was their special song that she made up. So as a teenager, I knew…I wanted special songs for my kids.

Fast forward to 2010. My baby is here. A little boy. I sing lots of songs to him early on. “You are my Sunshine” is strong in the rotation (and still special to me now because of that). I break out “Once Upon a Dream” from Cinderella quite a bit (That is still very special because I sang that to him while in my belly…it’s about not having met yet, but you would know them and love them right away when you meet them! Very fitting for a baby in the belly). And “Good Night My Someone ” from Music Man is another favorite. “Sailing” (based on Nsync’s version) is another special song we share. But not too long after he came into our world, I decided I wanted that special song just for him. So I set out to write it. It didn’t take long. Being a music teacher, I could come up with a melody pretty quickly. The words aren’t anything fancy, but they are his and his alone. And he still requests it to this day at age 10.5.

“Little Baby Ryan”

Little baby Ryan, I love you, I love you, yes I do.

Little baby Ryan, I love you, and I hope you love me too.

Little baby Ryan, I love you, I love you (kiss 3 times), yes I do!!

Little baby Ryan, I love youuuuuuuuu. And I hope that you love me to-o-ooo.

Next is 2013 when my baby girl arrives. She must have a song as well. She was already been hearing mommy singing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, “Part of that World” from Little Mermaid, “Be My Baby” by the Ronnettes, and “Can’t Keep my Eyes off of You” by Frankie Valli. But she too needs her very own song. I sat with pen and paper, working out a few rhyming lines that could speak my love for my baby girl. Eventually I came up with the song that is now hers forever.

“Baby Sarah”

Baby Sarah, close your eyes, slumber time is here.

Cuddle close sweet baby girl, mommy’s always near. (repeat verse 1)

Baby Sarah, dry your eyes, never shed a tear.

Snuggle close sweet baby girl, mommy’s always here. (repeat verse 2)

And so now my two beautiful children have a song of their own to hold on to forever.