Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend in Breckinridge

The first words that greeted me when I woke up this morning were, "Mom! Can you come here?" As I stumbled out of bed and across the hall to inspect my daughter's tummy for a rash (which was rather innocent looking, I think she had too much sun), I thought longingly of the past two mornings and my "Girls' Weekend". Why is it that the really fun things we do, pass too quickly like it was all a dream, and bad stuff seems to take forever to go away?

Our Girls' Weekend was wonderful to say the least. Forty-eight hours of being self-absorbed, lounging and shopping and being in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Five of us "girls", who have been together in a Bible Study group for over eight years, and known each other through the challenges of raising kids and raising husbands. We rented a condo in Breckinridge where the warm, sunny, 70 degrees of the village belied the freezing air and snow-capped mountains that hovered over us. It was a weekend of staying up too late, sipping wine, trading stories, pouring out hearts. Then waking up late and gathering around the table for breakfast, all bed-headed and in p.j.'s, until late in the morning and three pots of coffee later, we decide to get dressed and do some shopping.

Not having sisters to grow up with, it's experiences like this that give me a glimpse of what I missed. Five women sharing two bathrooms, make-up bags scattered all over, trying out someone else's colors, talking hairstyles, sharing blowdryers when one catches on fire (no, that wasn't good). Many hands make light work in the kitchen. We work together so easily and it's fun.

Saturday afternoon we walked the main street in Breckinridge. We went through all the shops, admired the gorgeous flowers growing in baskets and planters all over town. The pansies, daisies, labelia and columbine thrive in the mountain air. It was pure joy to stop at an art exhibit and listen to a street musician without kids tugging on my arm to "let's go, I'm bored." About mid-afternoon we found a cafe with a balcony that overlooked the town. We feasted on drinks and appetizers, then shopped a bit more before heading back to the condo. Supper was a smorgasbord of snacks that everyone chipped in. So simple, but better than a meal served at a five-star restaurant.

Ending the weekend was hard, but made easier knowing that we'll do it all again. And not a bit too soon:)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thinking out loud

Our house has been on the market for a week now. We've been pleased with the number of showings and the feedback. Everything has been positive and we even had one guy who wanted to make an offer, but it was with a contingency that he sell his house. At this point, I'm more concerned that we haven't found anything to buy that we're "in love" with. So, we'll just sit tight and see what happens. I continue to be amazed at how easy it is to keep the house tidied up and clean. Granted, about a fourth of our belongings are packed in boxes in the garage. I'm only half kidding when I say that we should just have Goodwill haul it all off. With the exception of having to dig through a couple of boxes for one of Luke's baseball hats, we haven't missed a thing! I know there are some things packed out there, such as the contents of my hope chest, that I would never part with. But, for the most part, I can't remember what all I put out there. We've settled into a comfortable routine around here. Dan is traveling during the week, so it's just the three of us -- me, Luke and Em. Luke is taking a math class four days a week that requires him to be out of the house before 7 o'clock. He is such a good sport about the whole thing. I can't imagine having to sit in an Algebra class for five hours a day, four days a week and not be a total crank. He puts in his time, then gets home and hangs out for a couple of hours before heading off to baseball practice. Granted, if he had the choice, he would not be spending six weeks of his summer retaking Algebra. But, as he put it, "from 7:30 in the morning until 12:30, I wouldn't be doing anything but sleeping anyway." Emily is coming of age in that she likes to sleep in. My early bird, who was always up at the crack of dawn, chattering and bustling about the house, is now a pre-teen who sleeps until 9:00 and then stumbles down the stairs all bed-head and ruffled p.j.'s. So, from 7 until 9, the house is all mine. I've been using the time to get a jump on work stuff (I guess someday I should blog about what I actually do for "work". But then I'd have to blow up my blog and change my name and move my family to another country). And some mornings, like today, I choose to blog and drink coffee and try to distract the Pesky Puppy who is insisting we play fetch. He doesn't understand blogging. He doesn't understand that . . .each and every time . . .he brings me the little rubber ball. . . he interupts. . . my . . . creative. . . flow!! When I can't stand it another minute, I get his little hollow rubber toy thing, fill it with peanut butter, and it keeps him occupied for a good ten or 15 minutes. Soon Pesky Puppy will be Roly Poly Puppy. Today, I'm meeting a friend to plan an exciting trip which I shall write about at a later time. Then, Emily's girlfriend is coming over for the afternoon. They'll go to the pool and I will spend a few hours getting ready for my Girls' Weekend. I need to buy some snacks, pack a few things and get a manicure:) Later this afternoon, we'll drive up to Ft. Collins where Luke has a baseball game. Em's friend is spending the night. Dan is coming in on a late flight this evening. And tomorrow, I get to head up into the hills for two nights and three days of girl time! Have a good weekend everyone:)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Tale of the Pesky Puppy, Part I

Yesterday, was a typical Monday for around here. It's always my busy workday, with deposits to prepare and banking to do. Emily had a piano lesson, we had two showings for the house, and I drove my aunt to a dr. appointment in Denver. Afterward, she took me and the kids to Applebee's for supper, where she and I toasted the crazy day with a couple of mojitos. We returned to my house, where we laughed off the day, gave each other hugs in the driveway, and she drove off in her car to go home. The kids had gone in the house and soon came running out, announcing that the puppy was gone! He left behind a big hole in the fence that had been previously covered up with bricks and rock.

We calmly formulated a plan to scan the neighborhood, while I was scratching my head wondering how a 13-pound puppy could move 35 lbs of brick and rock. And, yes, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps my prayers had been answered as to what to do about that pesky dog.

Soon, Emily rounded up some neighbor kids to help with the search and had started the requisite sobbing, certain that her dog was gone forever. I called The Dog Catcher aka Animal Control and, as an aside, was surprised that the officer on duty works until 8 p.m. on weekdays? I left her a message and soon after, Luke spotted her truck on our street. We all headed down the street to talk to her, scanning the back of her truck as we approached, only to see empty cages. BUT. . .she had the news that she had picked up our Pesky Puppy only an hour before and taken him to the pound. Which is only a quarter mile from our house. And she would meet us there in 15 minutes to release him. After she went back to her office to get her Recipt Book. For the fine.

I was expecting the fine to be $80, since that's what I paid the last time Abby got out. That is a story in itself. She often escaped our yard when, Lacey, our back-door-neighbor-dog, would break through our fence to our yard, then dig them both out of our side yard. They would run through the neighborhood, free at last. Dan dubbed them Thelma and Louise. But I digress. The Dog Catcher must charge by the pound, because Pesky Puppy's fee was only $35! Oddly, I felt the thrill of having bought something on sale.

Soon, Em and I were on our way to rescue P.P. while Luke was settled in front of the T.V. watching ESPN. I have to admit, the puppy looked a bit bedraggled and happy to see us. I filled out the required paperwork and couldn't help but notice the name and number of the woman who called to report the dog at large. There was also a notation next to her name: "Would be interested in adopting the animal." Nonchalantly, I copied down her name and number.

Today, we'll go to Petco to get a collar that can be worn with the "bark collar" and hold Pesky Puppy's tags. Our dilemma has been that the i.d. tag won't fasten on to his bark collar, which is what he wears when he's outside for long periods of time. Bark collar: $67 on e-bay. New collar: $5.97 at Petco. Fine for animal at large: $35. Look on little girl's face when her puppy is found: Priceless. But I think she would have been just as happy had she found a pet hamster. My family is right. I should have my head examined.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Daybook

Outside my Window... It is slightly overcast and the higher moutain peaks still have snow on them.

I am thinking...that I need to get outside and weed the rose garden while it's still cool.

I am thankful for... being able to stay home with my kids, especially in the summer months.

From the kitchen...I'm baking cookies to send to my brother.

I am creating...not much these days. Seems like I'm mostly doing upkeep, which is not nearly as fulfilling as creating something.

I am take Emily to a piano lesson this morning.

I am wearing. . .A Vera Wany, black strapless gown with rhinestone trim. (Just wondering if you're paying attention.)

I am reading...What Women Want -- the Life You Crave. (Geez, what a title. I honestly like my life, it's not like that at all.)

I am find a house in the neighborhood we like.

I am hearing...the news on the radio that George Carlin died:(

Around the house...I need to make the beds, and pick up a bit.

One of my favorite things...reading my favorite blogs.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...getting ready for my "girls' weekend" in Breckenridge this Friday through Sunday. Whoopee!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...Joe took this at a car show a couple weeks ago. I think it's really cool:)

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Charming 3 bdrm, 3 ba, 2 car garage

The sign went up yesterday, and now we start the waiting game to see if when the house will sell. The place has never looked better. I've discovered the secret to having a warm, cozy, care-free nest. First, take half your stuff and pack it in boxes and put it in the garage. Then, take half of what's left and throw it out or give it to Goodwill. It's amazing how sparkling my house looks and how quickly I can tidy up! I have half a mind to call Goodwill and tell them to come get what's in the garage. I honestly can't remember what's in most of the boxes out there. It took just 16 years, but we finally replaced the "foggy" window in the master bathroom. We kept saying, let's just wait. Someday we'll replace all the windows in the house. And for 16 years the light bulb at the top of the stairs has been out, but for good reason. When we moved in, Joey was only 3 years old. There are two light fixtures in the hallway and it was way too bright in the evenings to leave both of them on for him. So, we unscrewed one of the bulbs and it's just always been that way. It don't know how long the carpet in Luke's room has carried a red ink stain. (Now 15, he gave up coloring with markers years ago.0 But only $40 later and Larry-the-carpet-guy patched it up as good as new. I'm a bit envious of whomever comes in and falls in love with this place. And I know someone will. The rosebushes are in full bloom. The back screened-in porch has been freshly painted and is especially welcoming on days like today. The kids' rooms are clean and bright, and the beds made up with colored quilts. It will be nice to make a change and find a new place to call home and to make into our own nest. I hope it doesn't take too long. Because as much as I love having our home all nice and clean and fixed up and decluttered, I don't think I can handle this for more than. . . oh, I don't know. . . three more days? I have found that it's easier to keep to a routine with less around. At night, I do one or two loads of laundry, and it is dry and folded and put away in dresser drawers by morning. It's easy to run the vacuum cleaner with less furniture in the rooms. And I didn't go overboard planting flowers this year because I knew I wouldn't want to take a lot of time to care for them, so the few pots of geraniums and the window boxes in the front window look especially cheerful and decorative. As odd as it sounds, I find that I (almost) actually like to clean when there's less around. Yesterday, I was talking on the phone with my friend Kathy and wiping down cupboards at the same time. It was invigorating! I'm kinda liking this new side of me. I could be a clean freak. Like my sister-in-law who cleans when she's bored! She doesn't have a lot of stuff around her house either and she's not even moving. I counted her cookbooks one time (when she wasn't looking) and she has five. One came with my brother, I gave her one, and another came with the stove. Curious, I went home and counted mine. I have thirty-seven. I've tried to part with some of them, but you just never know when you might want to whip some Paella Valenciana from the Mediterranean Taste of the Good Life, or maybe roast a side of beef over a fire as described in Recipes from the Oregon Trail. I can't help myself, I just love to collect cookbooks. Now, they are safely packed away, out of my way, but still comfortably in my possession. Perhaps the key is to find a new home with a 4-car-garage. Three for Dan and one for me. I could store my cookbooks and anything else I can't bear to part with, and still have a sparsely decorated home to boot.

Monday, June 16, 2008

For today. . .


Outside My Window. . .It's overcast and cool. Chillier than usual for sitting on the back porch and reading the newspaper, but nothing a cup of coffee can't warm up.

I am thinking. . .I have a few things left on the to-do list and we can put the For Sale sign in the yard. I hope I can get the carpet guy over here to patch the spot in Luke's room that we've always just hidden with the trash can! The interest rates aren't being very kind, but we're so far into preparing for this, we'll see where it goes.

I am thankful for. . .the quiet hours of the early morning when the house is all mine:)

From the kitchen. . .It's just me and the two kids and lots of baseball/softball in the evenings this week. I hope my kitchen doesn't miss me:(

I am wearing. . . my usual uniform of denim capris, sleeveless blouse and sandals.

I am creating . . .a huge mess in the garage, with stacks upon stacks of boxes!

I am going. . . to take Emily to piano lessons this morning and take the van in to get the air conditioning fixed.

I am reading. . . the newspaper when I'm lucky to find a few minutes.

I am hoping. . . it doesn't cost too much to get the AC fixed.

I am hearing. . . baby birds chirping in the bird house from the back yard.
Around the house. . .things are shaping up!

One of my favorite things. . .my rose garden as it comes into bloom.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . . softball, baseball, softball, baseball.

Here is a picture I am sharing. . .from my rose garden.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Game time

I should make another to-do list for today and carry over the stuff I didn't get to yesterday. However, my schedule today is dictated by baseball games, so I need to get lunch together in a cooler (pita sandwiches, grapes, iced tea, cookies and a variety of flavored sunflower seeds), pick up Em from VBS, and head over to the fields, where Luke's team has two games today. The weekend schedule depends on if they win or lose the games today, since this is a tournament. Thank goodness it's close to home! I'm not complaining, because I enjoy watching any kind of baseball and our weather is just gorgeous for being outside. Low 70s, blue skies. It's beautiful.

Emily is playing softball again this year and is a catcher. Luke is a pitcher and I enjoy watching both of them play. But, I do have a house to get ready to sell (yeah, we're still at it), so there's much to do around here. Our goal is to have it ready next week (didn't I say that last week?)

Whatever your plans are, have a good weekend, everyone!

Emily behind home plate

Luke watches the game

Sunday, June 8, 2008

He's on the road -- again

As I type this I am just in a puddle, just minutes ago having said good-bye to my oldest son who is on his way back up to the northwest. He's been home for the past three weeks -- graduating high school, receiving his Eagle Scout Award, fixing computers for friends and family, and filling our house with his usual whirlwind of activity. I miss him already. I've become used to saying good-bye to him, knowing that it will be a few weeks, or even eight weeks at the most, until he's home again. He's traveled to Japan twice and Europe once. But this time, it is likely that we won't see him until Christmas. Frequent flier miles stretch only so far, and it gets expensive flying back and forth. We plan to cash in some miles at Thanksgiving so the rest of us can go and visit him, and see the beautiful Seattle area. But, for now, I need to get used to the household again, minus my oldest boy. When I first laid eyes on him, he was three weeks old. He big, round brown eyes held my gaze intently. The others in the room commented on how he "only has eyes for his mom." It was love at first sight for me. And in the years that follow, he has gone through life with that same straight-forward sense of purpose. Nothing has held him back. I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for the way he would stride into new situations, confident and no-holds barred. While I was frantically flipping through books on "Raising Your Spirited Child," and "Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child", he was charging on, charming the rest of the world and drinking up life through a wide array of experiences -- ham radio, piano, fencing, scouting, and hanging out at the library and reading everything he could get his hands on. He started his first of what would be many businesses in fourth grade when he bought the materials to make "button badges" for the school elections. He was soon taking orders and selling his wares. (And, I'm proud to say, he has never been without a job since. Which might be part of the reason he was voted "Most Likely to Become a Billionaire" for his senior class.) Meanwhile, I was flailing about, trying to get him to conform to "behaving" as I thought he should. Imagine my surprise when, with the kindest of intentions, he pointed out a book at the bookstore one day and suggested it might be helpful to both of us: "How to Behave So Your Kids Will, Too." I was speechless. My psychiatrist friend told me, gently, "He's right. It's an excellent book." I threw the books aside. I said to my mother, "I just don't know what to do for him sometimes. He is so self sufficent, so independent." Her response was, "The best thing you can do for him, the best gift you can give him, is to let him be who he is." And that advice was the best I've ever received as a parent. Oh, how I wish she could see him now! So, this morning he loaded up his Mazda MX6. Boxes fill the trunk and half of the back seat. There will just enough room for Joe and his two friends, Liz and Sam, who will be driving the 1,800 miles with him. They're all up for an adventure. Once they get up there, the girls will stay for a week and then fly back. They're all good kids and part of me envies them. Road trips were some of the best times I had with my friends when I was in college. Once he gets settled in to the house he is renting with two other friends, he'll start his summer internship and an on-campus job. Thank goodness for cell phones and e-mail. I can't wait to see where his journey takes him. Where he lands will be anyone's guess. But I know for sure he will land on his feet.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I'm reminded tonight of when I was a little kid and my parents sent me and my brothers up to bed so that the grownups could visit. Wow. When was the last time I insisted my kids go to bed so the grownups could have their time together? Part of the reason, I suspect, that we were banished to our bedrooms was that the only common area in our home was a living room and a kitchen. We didn't have a rec room or separate family room to separate the kids from the adults. So when it was time for the grownups to visit without little ears listening (and we wouldn't dare speak up and say anything), it was just a matter of course to be sent to bed. There was something comforting about lying in bed, listening to the hum of conversation downstairs, trying to make out the words that drifted up the stairs. The bursts of laughter or the rise in volume when several people would talk at once. We have an old photograph -- in an oval frame with a big bubble of glass covering it --of the farm house that my husband's grandmother grew up in. My father-in-law tells us that one of the memories he has that is still so clear is being upstairs after being sent to bed, and lying on the floor by the heat vent so he could listen to the adults' conversation downstairs. Tonight, I've been exiled once again, upstairs in my bedroom. Emily is stretched out on the bed next to me, watching a movie. The house downstairs is filled with teenagers, "hanging out" or "just chillin'." For the most part the conversation consists of hoots and hollers and laughter as they compete with the Xbox and one another. Strains of Japanese and English language float up the stairs, but the laughter is universal. The kids are gathered for one of the last evenings that they'll be together before our Japanese exchange students head home early Saturday morning. The first month of their visit they did a lot of touring and visiting places and seeing the sites with host families in the area. For the past week they've each been assigned a host family with a student that visited Japan last year. Reunited with their American friends, they've been spending the time just being kids -- going camping, going to a concert in the park to celebrate the end of school and hanging out at each other's houses. I've noticed that the teens that speak English fairly well are gathered with the American kids on the back porch, while the others that don't are in the family room, playing XBox and chattering endlessly among themselves. What a relief it must be for them, after spending so much time with people who speak another language, to just hang with their friends and be able to talk without having to translate their thoughts and speech. I felt that way earlier today when I met with my friend, Renee, for lunch. We both had purposely planned our lunch for later in the week because we knew it was going to be one heck of a week. It's the first "real week" of summer, but it's also been a transition with finishing up work at the school for her and, for me, tying up loose ends before Joe goes back up to school and the other two kids begin some summer activities. Our lunch today has been my lifeline and when we both slid into the booth at Panera, we were almost talking over one another, giddy that we could be with a person who really "understood." Friendship and the need to be understood, it's universal just like laughter.
For my kids, the summer means spending extra time with friends, just "chillin'" and going where the spirit moves them. Afterward, they're in a good mood (most of the time, Em's an 11-year-old girl with 11-year-old friends and we all know how that goes sometimes) and refreshed from having spent time with their "own kind." So in the midst of all the stuff going on this summer, watching oodles of baseball games and taking care of the usual home keeping stuff, I need to make it a point to just "chill" with my friends, too. We'll all be happier as a result.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

For today. . .

I found Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook through my friend Jen's blog. I thought it would be fun to join in. It's supposed to be done on Mondays, but that's me, always a day late and a dollar short.
Outside My a view of the mountains (if I look between the neighbors' houses across the street). There are also two window boxes filled to the brim with assorted purple, pink and yellow petunias and mariogolds. I hoped they would make the front of the house look pretty, but seeing them as I work at my desk is an added bonus.

I am thinking...about what Emily and I will have for supper.

I am thankful for...being married (for 24 years as of yesterday) to the best guy ever.

From the kitchen... not a lot going on in there tonight or tomorrow night:) It seems we are on the run this week.

I am wearing...denim capris, a white v-neck tee, and Land's End sandals that are soooo comfy.

I am creating...

I am going... to Target this evening to buy dog food, a lamp, Raisin Bran and ziploc bags.

I am reading... Our Lady of the Lost and Found

I am sell our house and be settled in an new home by the end of the summer.

I am hearing... Jimmy Buffet on the radio

Around the house...things are in disarray as we are still getting our act together to list the house next week.

One of my favorite things... summer mornings on the back porch, drinking coffee, reading a book or doing the crossword puzzle. When is this going to happen???

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: softball tonight, baseball tomorrow, lunch with my friend Renee on Thursday, baseball tournament this weekend and a Sayanara Party for our Japanese exchange student.

Here is a picture I am sharing. . .we've had some incredible thunderstorms the past couple days. And some awesome looking clouds leading up to them. Here's one. . .


This was fun. If you'd like to join in, check out The Simple Woman's