Sometimes . . .

I couldn’t tell you what I love more; watching Gavin play baseball, or watching his dad, TJ coach his team. It would be like trying to choose my favorite child. The team played very well last night; their first game of a tournament weekend. TJ was not only coach, but head cheerleader, encouraging each kid and their unique talents; Chief Medic, tending to head bumps, re-injuring an elbow; and helping a little guy stop his nose bleed so he could continue pitching; and equipment manager, gathering it all up after the game so he’s ready for the 10 a.m. game today. That man can do it all!

You can tell the boys look up to their coach. They are learning not only how to pitch, field, bat, and the rules of the game, they are learning how to be young men. They are learning to concentrate on this game, the one right now, not dwelling on yesterday’s mistakes. Their coach has a different approach, he appears firm but fair, plays everyone, and corrects their form as needed. Before the game last night, he told them, “Just play better than you did Tuesday.” Tuesday night was a terribly off night for everyone, all at once. They did! Crossing my fingers on today.

I’m excited to go this afternoon to my class about using my new sewing machine. I’m not only learning about something new, I’m opening another door towards creativity. Hoping to get back to making things to wear (in my spare time.)

I look forward to this day, and learning. The Babe just texted. Gavin’s game is on, with a 15 minute rain delay. I hope he has a great game. He’s learning about the strategy of resting his arm when he’s the pitcher. Dad calculates carefully how much Gavin can pitch, and he plays other positions in between. He’s great at first base, catcher, but seems a little bored at second, the outfield, and third. You can just see the improvement since the first game, and that is because the boys are learning, and growing as players, under the guidance of their coach. So proud of him. Our family is so blessed.

Time to get in front of the new sewing machine. May you all have a wonderful Saturday. We’re planning to. See you tomorrow!

A Weird but Good Day.

The best laid plans of mice and men. The best laid plans of authors and others.

Yesterday, for some reason, I became convinced it was Monday. I texted my two brothers, “Happy Monday,” along with a punny meme. One reminded me it was only Sunday. I knew that, but gee. How does the human brain do that to us? And then, today, I was further convinced it was Tuesday. Gosh. Not another day of being clueless! Where does that come from? Wow.

Mom called yesterday, and asked if I could do her a favor. It was a grocery run. No problem! But I had to come to her home first and see what cereal she wanted (she has very low vision, so some days reading packages is not in the plan). So, I made a list and set off on my quest.

I had a big flashback to when my older brother Tom and I sometimes had to walk to our neighborhood Safeway store. We only had one car, Dad worked nights, and when the two younger brothers came along, it was hard for Mom to get to the store.

Tom and I walked three blocks to the store; we cruised the aisles with Mom’s handwritten list, wondering what the heck a “loof of bird” was. Her handwriting wasn’t too legible. Our analysis revealed it meant a loaf of bread. That’s ok, Mom. We broke the code. We proudly presented the cash she gave us, and each took a nice brown bag filled with the good stuff she sent us for.

We reached the end of the first alley shortcut. Tom had such a heavy bag, we had to stop and re-bag some of his things. I gave him some of the lighter items and took the package of chicken. We made it the rest of the way home with no problems. Mom was thrilled. We felt rather victorious.

It’s funny, I found everything Mom wanted today. She insisted I call her from the store, in the cereal aisle, specifically, to report how much a certain store brand cereal cost. I reported in, and she determined at 2 for $4, she needed six boxes of that particular type of cereal. At this point in life, whatever makes her happy. Whatever my two brothers and I can do to make her life easier and hopefully worry free, the better days she’ll have for the rest of her life. A 92 year old widow shouldn’t have to worry about her food supplies, her comfort needs, or anything else. It amazes me that she is still a homeowner. She needed another roof last summer, and luckily, my brother who lives across the street from her handled the project. She deserves a rest. And thanks, Steve.

Now that the cereal supply is complete again, the quest is to find the cat food her fussy cat eats. No vet or pet store in Omaha has any. This supply line is weird, it’s an American company, not a foreign one. The cat is getting old, and Mom’s had him for probably 10 years. His name is Hugo, although my youngest brother calls him, “Pffatt Ass.” Very fitting, for sure. I’m not a cat person. Sorry, folks. Dog lover until the end!

Had a proud grandma moment x 2 this weekend. Grandkids Addison and Joell each showed what kind of great teenagers they are. Addison was a last minute sub for a senior at the regional Dance Squad competition on Saturday. The whole family went to Minnesota. The team came in second. Second! So proud!

Grandson Joell was celebrated by his immediate family after his first official day of work. He just turned 14 so I was surprised he got a job. He is a fantastic competition swimmer out in Maryland. His job is that of a swim coach for the younger kids. It’s perfect! We’ve watched him develop from a beginner swimmer to a tough competitor. So proud of him for doing what he loves and the growth he’ll experience by teaching younger kids. So proud!

Addison, back row, middle; Joell, surprised by his family after his first day of work. Life is a celebration!

As we gather our thoughts on whatever day this is, I hope you’ve also had a great day. There’s another new opportunity happening in the morning, too. We an make the day as good as we want. Be positive, and see how it unfolds! See you tomorrow, whatever day it will be.

December 26. Is It Over?

If you view it as only pertaining to gifts, what you got, and what you didn’t get, it’s over. And that’s sad. If you view it as the joy of sharing meals and time with your people, be it bio family, friend family, or a mix of both, it is just beginning. And that’s wonderful.

Why? Because you get it. You understand the importance of building bonds, friendships, and what it takes to maintain them. You get a bigger kick out of giving rather than receiving. You understand sometimes the gift of time is the most important and appreciated in the life of many. You stay later than you plan because you know telling stories is important to some folks who have had drastic changes in life and health in the past year. Ah, the stories. Great from an expert storyteller. I love to listen, because some of them, no matter how many times you hear them, a new twist or turn can be added and there you go; it’s even funnier than before.

The Babe and I, along with our daughter Tracy, TJ, Addison, Gavin, and cousin Beth, spent another beautiful Christmas afternoon at the lake home of Tracy’s Uncle Lou. Lou is the person who brought the Babe to Omaha to work at his company. He’s known him for over 40 years. Through good times and bad. Through their mutual sicknesses and health. And now, as they’re both retired guys who manufactured a *(^$-load of block, brick during those years, and had tons of adventures together. There are stories to be told and lies to be made up. A bromance before anyone was concerned about such things. Two good men who are best of friends and brothers. It’s a joy to share. One time, I talked to Lou regarding a hospitalization and procedure the Babe was having. He said, “I’ll just stay home and pray. Remember, I’ve loved him longer than you have.” Truer words were never spoken.

My header photo today is of our friend, our Christmas Day host with the most, if you leave his home hungry or thirsty it’s your own doggoned fault, Louie! We love you and are grateful to share another Christmas together. Thank you, Lou, for your generosity, your stories, and most of all, your friendship. Let’s have a great 2022, with more visits and more stories. Let’s enjoy! And I believe we probably all need a power nap before the KC Chiefs play football today.

Folks, if you have a Louie in your life, make sure you make time for them soon and often. We all need to make priorities for what is important, and what is more a priority than lifelong friendship? Be safe out there today if you’re traveling or out exchanging gifts. This is a look at mine, I opened those Amazon boxes on Christmas Day and gosh, I’m glad I bought them. More reading and learning for 2022! But I won the book in the middle, “Venus the Monk,” by Cory Swanson. Thanks, Cory! I appreciate winning!

I appreciate you reading today, we are pre-planning our projects for next year, and it’s going to be awesome. Thank you for sticking with me. We’re so close to having some finished books to read. See you tomorrow!

Christmas Eve 2021

Today is another opportunity to have a beautiful Christmas Eve. It is a chance to share beautiful memories, release bad memories, and recognize how we get to choose how the next two days are. There are good and bad memories in everyone’s past. The love that got away. The love that stayed. While I was divorced, this time of year was always hard. I thought the only joy there was at Christmas was in a relationship. Wrong! I went through the motions, and did a lot for the kids, and they were happy, so I was happy about them. My thinking was clouded; I was always glad when it was January 2.

I’m here to tell you a lot has changed. My family looks totally different. There is a wonderful partner for me. There are grandchildren. There are close friends. The change had to take place in my heart. I had to put the bad past Christmases away. Yes, they happened. They are now left in the past.

As a child, Mom really made great Christmases for us. She was a decorating nut (still is), and she put a lot into the gift giving. I’ll always remember when I got my Barbie doll. I was 11, I think. Mom sewed a huge wardrobe for Barbie. Grandma Bobell got involved by knitting some very beautiful outfits. One was purple and green (the dress was awesome!); it had a hobo-styled purse that was purple. My brother turned the purse upside down, plopped in on Barbie’s head, and said, “This thing looks like a football helmet!” So much for fashion sense. It is a great memory.

The next year was not a good Christmas. It haunted us for years. We didn’t go to Grandma’s that year, but got a phone call between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. Grandpa is gone. Died. Massive heart attack. It was never the same. Not for a lot of years. Grandma had no idea Grandpa was being treated for angina. That day, in a hurry to get home after work, he left his Nitro pills in his locker at work. End of story.

Christmas Eve with my first in-laws was fun. The kids ripped through wrapping paper, were loud, happy, and Josephine put her heart into a beautiful experience for her family. It was finally happy again. The year I filed for divorce, I waited until after Christmas to file. Didn’t want to ruin it for the kids. A few years later, I had the best Christmas Eve ever. My sixteen year old son didn’t want to go with his dad. He said he wanted to stay with me instead. We had dinner at McDonald’s; we had one of the deepest conversations we’ve ever had. It is one of the best in memory.

In 2014, it wasn’t a great Christmas season. The Babe wasn’t feeling well after being ill all summer and fall with Chikengunya. He contracted it while we were in Puerto Rico. Danged Mosquito! At any rate, he felt lousy for months. It appeared he also was having heart issues. He ended up needing a quadruple bypass. A few days before Christmas, we were at Bergan Mercy Hospital, him in Cardiac ICU, grumpier than hell. Tracy and TJ, along with the kids, came on Christmas Day, bearing trays of food from the Cafeteria, and we had a turkey dinner together. I love that girl. She makes the best of every situation. She’s like a daughter to me.

As the nurses commented how sad it was we were in the hospital, I said, “I’m just glad we’re on this side of the street.” They stopped a minute. Across the street was the cemetery. I could see the area my Grandpa is buried in. Grandma is there, and my dad is too. I prayed to them, as angels of hope, love, and peace. It was meant to be that we were on that side of the street. I was grateful. So grateful. Still am.

Again this Christmas, we’re spending Christmas Day with a lifelong friend of the Babe, and one daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids. It will be a day filled with love, great food, and stories. A good time will be had by all.

I’m off to finish baking cookies, and making the wonderful nut bread. I have to go boxes to prepare for our neighbors. This is going to be a day of sharing and caring. It will be a wonderful Christmas. I will make it that way. Be positive. After all; it’s my blood type! Take care. Happy Christmas Eve. See you tomorrow!

Mom’s Day; A Day for Nurturers

This greeting goes not only to Mother’s, but also to single moms, single dads, grandparents, and anyone who has an influence on children that is positive. It could even be a teacher. Many, many kids have no one to look to for nurturing and guidance. Yes, we have to be careful in this day and age, but I believe you all know what I mean.

All three of Mom’s sisters nurtured me in different ways. Mom was the oldest, and in an alcoholic family, she took the lead and took care of everyone. She still plays that role. Every sister of hers shared insights with me about growing up during the era they did. They gave me an extraordinary gift, I can forgive her for not knowing what I needed as a kid. The era was “tough love” before it was ever invented, and I have to say, it didn’t motivate me. It did her, though. That’s just how she is. I’m not that way. Many thanks to all my aunts for being so good to me. I miss you all.

I think that has caused a lot of disagreements between us. It’s not her fault. And it’s not mine. We are simply like water and oil. Just don’t mix well. Don’t get me wrong. I love her and will always help her. She has helped me out of some tough situations by just being there. Always being available during an emergency; my son drowning, my other son’s ruptured appendix, and my daughter cracking her head open against doorframe woodwork while her dad was at Church. We’ve talked about life in many an ER waiting room. Thanks, Mom, for always being there.

Our daughter Tracy and daughter in law Monica; You ROCK! Thank you for the love you give so freely to our family and everyone around you both. You are different personalities, and you both love fiercely. I’m so happy we have the family we do!

To the women, like my daughter, who live over 500 miles away from their mom’s, and they dig in and decide they can do this mom thing alone, with no help from their own mothers. I could help you, but I’m not one to put myself into a situation where I’m not invited. You have always been fiercely independent; after all, I learned that from YOU; of course you don’t want help. I get it.

To my sons Frank and Nick, who babysat for their friend’s babies, and haven’t flinched at changing dirty diapers. I’m proud of the men you’ve become. You would have been great, nurturing Dads. You’ve given Sam, Joe, and Malachi someone to look up to. I’m so proud of you. I love being your Mom. And Becky’s, too.

To the men, who like my son-in-law TJ, have made ponytails, pigtails, and braids with their giant hands on a little girl’s head, who have performed on stage at countless Dad’s Dances at recitals, (you have a great extension there, TJ!), and who have worked extra so the children can have everything they need. You are also nurturers. TJ, I love you like my own son!

To the grandparents raising kids, you have a hard job. You’ve done it before, and are pitching in, perhaps doing it all. You are so needed, and I’m sure you’re tired, too. May God keep you strong and on your mark. May God give you grace when you need it. Thank you for what you’re doing.

To the teachers who use their own money to buy warm hats, mittens, and scarves for kids in need. You are doing much more than teaching at school; you are making a difference in their souls. Thank you and know you positively affect lives.

I salute all of you nurturers out there. And all Mom’s. It’s a tough job, and it can break your heart. And when your broken heart heals, it comes back twice as large, and you give more love away. That’s what we were made for, all of us. Just keep nurturing and loving. The world will become the place it needs to become. Thank you for reading today. Be Kind. Be Safe out there. Be the Love You Needed. I’ll see you tomorrow.