Vacation! Part 1

I’ll have to break this up into a couple of posts. Here’s the first installment!

For the first time ever the girls and I were able to take a really real vacation. Usually our vacation time consists of trips to Idaho to see family. Don’t get me wrong! That’s totally a vacation because we’re away from home and life is a lot slower there but it’s not a VACATION! type of vacation. Neither of the girls has ever flown so that was a first. MiniMe has never been any farther than Idaho in her whole 14 years. Beauty has been across the country but she was only 9 months old so she doesn’t count that.

This was our “Pack your suitcases girls! We’re going somewhere you’ve never been!” VACATION! For the last couple of years I’ve tried to plan a trip to San Antonio, Texas to visit my “mom friend” Erica again. I went in 2009 for her college graduation but the girls didn’t get to go with me. This year it all came together. I was able to get airline tickets for a very reasonable price and I got a weeks paid vacation so we made it  happen!

 

All packed and ready to go!

All packed and ready to go!

On the night of April 1st we spent the night at my brothers house so they could drive us to the airport at O’dark O’clock. Note to self: Next time, do NOT book a flight that leaves at 6 a.m. when you live almost 2 hours from the airport. We got up at 1:00 (I think I slept about 45 minutes) so we could leave by 2:00 to get us there by 4:00 for boarding at 6:05. I’m tired just thinking about that morning!

We're really tired

We’re really tired

 

 

 

When we got to the airport we went right to baggage check and got our suitcases checked for the flight and headed for security. Unfortunately Beauty forgot to put the brand new tube of toothpaste in her checked bag so when we went through security…

 

 

 

I was wrong!

I was wrong!

I was expecting Beauty to be inwardly freaking out about flying but she would play it off all calm and cool. MiniMe was the one I was expecting to freak out all over the place.

Obviously I can’t read my children as well as I thought. Beauty was a hot mess and asking for anxiety medicine and MiniMe was cool as a cucumber. I was totally impressed!

 

 

 

Beauty got some pretty pictures from the air.

Beauty got some pretty pictures from the air.

Sunrise above the clouds

Sunrise above the clouds

A mountain somewhere between Seattle and Phoenix.

A mountain somewhere between Seattle and Phoenix.

The flight to Phoenix was uneventful and we landed fine. After finding something to eat it was time to board again for Austin. We landed in Austin at 2:45 and Erica picked us up and we headed for San Antonio.

Everything's bigger in Texas!

Everything’s bigger in Texas!

This gas station  has over 100 gas pumps! For all my local peeps, I agree. We need a couple of these around here! <ahem>

On our way to Erica’s house we stopped at Rudy’s for some Texas BBQ! Unfortunately Beauty had problems eating for a large portion of this trip because she had her wisdom teeth pulled 2 weeks before we left. Lucky for her I found a recipe online for Rudy’s style corn. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I’ve made it twice since we’ve been home!

 

 

Our first full day in San Antonio started with the Zoo!

Our first full day in San Antonio started with the Zoo!

 

 

If you know me in real life you are probably aware of how much I love flamingos. Well, this was totally the place for me! They had 3 different areas with my favorite bird!

 

 

 

 

Totally a tourist shot!

Totally a tourist shot!

Apparently we are speed walkers because we made it through the zoo in about 3 hours. We ended up catching the city bus downtown. We saw the Alamo (from across the street) and all these other cool little shops I didn’t see last time I was there. We found Ripley’s and had a good time checking out the gift shop.

 

Yep, we're cool!

Yep, we’re cool!

My Thankfulness Post

I’m a little late, I know. But life has been a little busy. Ya know?

I’m thankful for my boss. This year has been a difficult one in a lot of ways but my boss has been understanding in ways I didn’t expect. She is also currently laying on a beach in Hawaii while we freeze our butts off here at home.

I’m thankful for MiniMe. Yes she’s a teenager now and that brings all kinds of angst but she is still my sweet girl and I love her.

I’m thankful for my girl Beauty. This has probably been the most difficult year of her life so far but she still continues to amaze me with her caring attitude and the love she shows her family.

I’m thankful for my brothers and sisters. Without them I would be lost.

I’m thankful for my nieces and nephews and cousins and aunts and uncles and all the rest of the extended family. They were so supportive when my mom passed away. Without them I’m not sure I would be here today.

I am thankful for all of my friends. You know how to make a girl feel loved.

I’m thankful that even though my mom is gone from our everyday life we know we will see her again.

I’m thankful this year is almost over. My birthday is in a couple of days so I can officially be done with this year. Turning 40 was painful a year ago but I’m happy to turn 41. Maybe it will be a lot less stressful!

 

Summer fun!

When I was little we lived in a little tiny town. Just outside of town there was a pond where we could go swimming. When I was really little my sister and brother used to take me there. Nothing like being a teenager and having to take your baby sister with you everywhere. When I got old enough my parents finally let me ride my bike to the “second dock” to go swimming with my friends. It was maybe a mile. That was all well and good until you hit the gravel road. Or heaven forbid you got to close to the edge and got sucked into the deep gravel.

I have great memories of swimming there when I was little. There was a little sandy beach we could play on and a diving stand you could climb up if you were brave enough (I wasn’t). I didn’t really know how to swim very well so I never got very far away from the dock where I couldn’t touch. There were drop-offs too. My niece almost drowned because of one of those.

One specific memory I have was when I was a little older. Pretty sure I was 13 when this happened. I was staying with my sister and helping take care of her and my nephew while she was pregnant with my niece and on bed rest for 6 months. It was a nice summer day we went to the pond and had a picnic with a bunch of her friends. While we were there my ex-boyfriend showed up. For some reason I didn’t have a swimming suit so my sister gave me a tube top to wear swimming. I was pretty proud of myself that I had learned how to swim under water and decided to show off a little. Unfortunately when I stood up my top came down and I flashed not only my ex-boyfriend but his brother and a bunch of his friends. It was mortifying. And there’s nothing worse than trying to get that stupid roll of fabric to un-roll in a hurry!

When MiniMe was a baby we went to visit my parents and went out to that same pond and she got to put her feet in the water just like my sister used to do with me. A couple of years ago we were on vacation at my sister’s house and the girls along with their friends we brought with us spent the day at that very same pond jumping off the very same dock I used to. The diving stand is no longer there but the little baby fishes still like to nibble on your toes if you stand still.

Growing up in the dark ages (i.e. before internet and cable) had its perks. We really did use the sun (or our stomachs) as our clock so we’d know when to come home. We didn’t have cliques or anything. There weren’t many kids in town so everybody just played together. Getting to ride your bike to the pond was a right of passage that we all went through. And jumping off the dock was the highlight of every summer.

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I’m such a follower

I’ve been following a couple of blogs for a while and they have inspired me to step it up. Thanks Lily and Tim!

The writing prompt this time is sleepovers. I actually have a really good one for this!

When I was 13 my mom decided to throw me a big “friends” party. When you have a December birthday that doesn’t usually happen. But my dad had died a few months earlier and my mom wanted to do something fun. Plus my sister had done something similar for my niece 6 months earlier. Huh, mom was a follower too!

Anyway, I got to invite 4 friends over and we had a DIAPER PARTY. It’s not as kinky as it sounds, I promise!

It was a way to say goodbye to childhood and hello to being a teenager. My mom searched the city and found the old-fashioned diaper pins. You know, the ones with the little bunnies and ducky’s on them? Yeah, those ones. She also found receiving blankets to use as cloth diapers. Imagine 5 giggly tween girls all dressed up in diapers and t-shirts. My mom was a brave woman!

Everyone received a 4 oz. baby bottle when they got there and all liquids had to be drank from that. Carbonated soda in a baby bottle was a lot of fun. For games we played Pin the Tail on the Donkey and this one where you were blindfolded and had a big bowl of cotton balls and a spoon and had to transfer the cotton balls into a smaller container. Mom made up a bunch of finger foods and we watched little kids movies. Well, we watch The Care Bears Movie and one that was recommended by the movie store clerk called Zapped! Mom wasn’t overly impressed with that one! We also got to eat Pudding Pops! We didn’t sleep much but had a blast and all in all, it was the best birthday I ever had!

Best childhood treat EVER!

Best childhood treat EVER!

How about you? Do you have any sleepover memories?

Zebra Garden

51 Days later…

51 days ago my mom passed away. I had what I can only call the most stressful week of my life so far. There have been good days and bad days in the last 51 days. Some have been easier than others and I know that will continue to happen likely forever. A week ago my niece and I got matching tattoos in memory of my mom. It was a pretty amazing experience and I’m glad we did it together. I haven’t been posting because every time I try to think of something to write, I feel like I can’t breathe so I stop.

I don’t want to turn this into a place where all I do is vent about how sad I am. That’s not who I am in real life so why should I let that be who I am on here? Father’s Day was really hard because that was the 1 month mark. But I got through it and I’m still here.

We started our Horse Camp season the first week of June and have been having a blast getting to know all the new families and being able to reconnect with old friends. My family does something we lovingly call “Horse Camp” every summer. We started 13 years ago when MiniMe was just a baby. I got a call from my brother asking if we wanted to come over after soccer practice and ride horses. That really is how we started. My niece and nephew started coming and I invited one of my co-workers one time and my brother invited the crew from his roofing business to bring their families out. Because we were doing this right at dinner time we pulled out the BBQ and started cooking up hotdogs. A few years later we had grown to anywhere between 20 and 50 people each Wednesday. One night my brother gathered everybody around and started telling a story about a cowboy named Cactus Jack. When I was in college a few years ago (well, more than a few but who’s counting, right?) I had to create a Powerpoint presentation and I chose to make mine about Horse Camp. I came up with the name Cactus Jack’s Hope Ranch because that’s what it’s all about for us. We have never done any real advertising, it’s all been word of mouth. We do have a Facebook page that I created this season that you can find by just searching for Cactus Jack’s Horse Camp. I’ll try to post a link later.

So that’s how the last 51 days have been for me. I still miss my mom, sometimes so much that I can actually feel a hole in my heart where she should be. But most days I “Just Keep Swimming” and breathe in and out until it doesn’t hurt so bad.

I don’t know how to do this

Life has thrown me some big huge curve balls lately and I can honestly say I don’t think I’m handling it very well. That being said, I’m not exactly sure how one is supposed to handle the amount of stress and tragedy I’ve been subjected to in the last few weeks so maybe I’m handling it just exactly right. I have no idea, but I DO know that this part just sucks!

My brother asked me the other day how I was doing. I answered him truthfully. In that very minute I really was ok. A couple of minutes later I was crying.

I miss my mom. A couple of days ago I posted that on Facebook. I hadn’t had much sleep the night before and I was super emotional. I ended up crying pretty much all evening. We had a video slideshow that we played at her service and I ended up watching that a couple of times. That just made it worse! I think it’ll be awhile before I can watch it again.

Last week a former co-worker was killed in a motorcycle accident. When I found out about it I had another anxiety attack. It just so happened that I was standing in a local pizza place at the time. Yeah, that was fun. The service for that amazing young woman was yesterday. I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle it but I think I did ok. I was able to breathe my way through an anxiety attack so that’s something anyway. My heart breaks for her twin sister. I know how hard this journey has been for me since losing my mom 25 days ago and I can only imagine that what she’s going through right now is even harder. Please pray for the family as they figure out this new life without their loved one.

I find myself being so afraid that something is going to happen to another person I love that I feel like I’m becoming an emotional wreck. I’m needy in ways I never have been in my entire life. I want to gather everyone I love close and not let them leave my side so I can make sure they’re safe. I know that isn’t reasonable so I keep it to myself most of the time but it’s always there. Is that normal? Again, I have no idea. Maybe it is… maybe everyone who’s been through this feels the same way.

I just know that pretty much every day is a challenge and I just want things to be ok. Mostly I want ME to be ok.

And I don’t know how to do that.

Life in a small town

When I was little my family lived in a little teeny tiny town. I’m not even kidding when I tell you how small it was. The entire town is 4 blocks long and 6 blocks wide. We didn’t have all of the gadgets kids do today. Nobody had cable TV. We had 3 or 4 channels that we got with rabbit ears and they were all a little fuzzy. It didn’t matter much because the only time we really wanted to watch TV was early on Saturday mornings to catch our favorite cartoons. Well, I watched Captain Kangaroo in the mornings before school until they cancelled him and put The Great Space Coaster on in his place. I really hated that show. In the summer we were outside shortly after waking up and didn’t come home until it was time to eat. There is a little pond just outside of town that when I got a little older my parents would let me ride my bike to go swimming. What freedom that was! We would wave to the log truck drivers as they went through town and they would always honk at us making us laugh like crazy people. It never got old. When I was really little, my parents owned one of the 2 restaurants in town. Half of the building was a restaurant and the other half was a bar. I don’t remember much about when my parents owned it but I remember when my cousins bought it and my cousin Andy and I used to get quarters from them and swing dance on the stage. Not sure if there’s video anywhere (this was the 70’s after all) but I remember we were really good and did an awesome jitterbug! And for the record, I’m positive we danced JUST like that! Hahahahaha

It was a very sad day when the building burned down. They eventually re-built it (my daddy even helped!) but it just wasn’t the same. The new building has changed hands a few times, it’s still half restaurant and half bar. When we go visit we always stop and get a burger there. Even though it’s been owned by different people over the years they have kept one thing on the menu. The DJ burger! This was something my parents made up and named (each of their initials) when they owned the restaurant in the 70’s and the last time I was there, it was still on the menu 40 years later! It’s awesome. There’s just nothing like getting a burger at a small town joint. Trust me, if you ever get the chance to find one of those hole in the wall places, you totally won’t regret it.

Right before my 7th birthday (I’m a December baby) my friend Tina and I decided to go sledding on the hill by the school. They had put in a sidewalk and it was perfect for sledding. I had a plastic toboggan and she had a fancy sled with metal runners. I’d never used one of those before so when she offered to let me try it I was a little nervous but mostly excited. She made it look easy! Well, it totally wasn’t! I’m pretty sure I broke the speed of sound going down that hill and I had no idea how to turn or stop or anything. Yeah, I could have just rolled off or something but I didn’t think of that. All I could think was that I was going way fast and headed for the highway. I did the only thing I could think of to stop myself…ran into the telephone pole face first. 😦 I hit the pole, fell off the sled, and layed there. Lucky for me one of my brothers friends saw me and came and helped me up and to my house across the street. I was bloody and crying. I’m positive he was horrified! I’m friends with him on Facebook now, I wonder if he remembers?

We had an awesome sledding hill right in front of our house (NOT the sidewalk with the telephone pole at the bottom!). I remember one year we had a HUGE sledding party and I’m sure pretty much everyone in town under the age of 30 was there. Trudging back up the hill kinda sucked but man, it was so worth it coming down that hill! And the best part was that my house was at the bottom so I could totally go in and warm up and drink hot chocolate before heading back up the hill.

We ALWAYS got lots of snow. The most I remember was about 6 feet when we lived there. More recently (5 or 6 years ago) they had 10 feet that fell! O.O Yeah, where I live now, we get a few inches and the whole town freaks out and pretty much raids the stores. In Podunk? The power goes out (heavy snow takes out power lines) but it’s ok because pretty much everyone has a wood stove for heat and cooking and kerosene lanterns and candles for light. Snow and power outages never meant school cancellations for us. Heck, we usually WANTED to go to school since at least they had a generator so there was real light and all of our friends!

My girls would never survive. And for that matter, now that I’m older and have lived in a much bigger town for the last 30 years, I don’t think I would either. I love to visit and just relax but I’ve found that I really don’t like the snow anymore. I’m ok with it for a day or 2 but then it just needs to be gone. When I went to visit last month they still had snow on the ground. And it snowed when I was there! Yeah, I’m not ok with that. I also appreciate the convinces we have here. Like gas stations and grocery stores.  I like the fact that if I am in the middle of cooking and run out of something, it’s just a quick trip to the store to grab what I need. Not a 3 hour tour. And no, I’m really not kidding.

In retrospect, I’m glad that I grew up in my little Podunk town. There was a sense of community that you just don’t see these days. As kids, we didn’t really do stupid stuff because even if our own parents didn’t see it happen, likely someone else did and would call mom and dad before we could even get home. There was a real sense of innocence that has been lost in today’s youth. With the technology available to even the youngest of our children, it’s no wonder that some of these kids make the choices they do. I’m not saying that all technology is bad, I have a droid phone myself that is totally my lifeline. I just think that our youth today have been desensitized to violence, profanity, nudity and drug use. Now, even my little tiny town has cable and the internet and there really aren’t any kids left.

Loopie Moms!

Back in the dark ages, like before wi-fi, there weren’t a lot of options for internet. I had an awesome boss that actually helped get me online. I worked at a local hotel and we had one computer at the front desk that we could use to access the internet, with dial-up. Remember that? It was sad really. Anyway, one of my co-workers set me up under his AOL account and I was off and running. Those slow evenings at work consisted of sitting at the front desk and going into AOL chatrooms with my boss on her computer from home. Talk about a fun boss! I met some really fun people that way, some of whom I am still in contact with today. Chatrooms wasn’t the only thing I did tho. I was a young single mom with a preschooler. I found a couple of websites for moms and signed up for them. One day I received a random email from a random person asking if I wanted to be part of a mom’s email “loop”. I had no clue what that ment but figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. Honestly, that was the best “what the heck” moment I’ve ever had! That was 1998.

I started getting emails from young moms all over the place. It was awesome! At one time there were 25-30 of us spread all over the U.S. These ladies helped me through so much. They helped me through the final split with Beauty’s father. They encouraged me when I started a new relationship and let me vent when it ended badly. These moms whom I had never met in person actually helped me name MiniMe. When I had the ultrasound and found out I was having another girl I came home and emailed everyone that I needed ideas because I already had my girl and had nothin’. Not even joking when I say they named her. They totally did!!! Another of the mom’s got pregnant with twins the same year. Her girls recently turned 13! I remember calling her right after they were born and congratulating her. That was the first time I’d ever heard Kay’s voice.

A few years ago we got word that one of us had taken her own life. That hit all of us really hard. I know for me, I will always wonder if there was something more we could have done to support her. I was going through some old papers a few months ago and found a couple of poems she had written. It makes me sad to think that she’s not here anymore. I hope her girls are doing ok.

Over the years many moms have come and gone (we even had a dad at one point!). Each one of us has had more children and all except me have been married and some have since divorced. A few years ago I had an opportunity to finally meet 3 of my “Loopie Moms” in person. The original Loopie, Erica, was graduating from college and invited a couple of us to fly to Texas to attend her graduation. I got to hang out with Chelle and Erica the entire weekend and Kay met up with us a couple of times and we got to spend some time with her too. It was Mother’s Day weekend. It was AWESOME!

I honestly can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had not responded to that first email. These ladies have helped me through so much and likely saved both of my children’s lives more than once. In the last few years we have been able to stay in contact through Facebook more so the whole email thing has mostly gone away. That kind of makes me sad because although I get to follow them a little closer it just isn’t the same as getting that more personal connection we used to have. Maybe some day I’ll get to meet Stacie and Andie but at least I know that we can still stay in touch through Facebook. Hopefully soon I will be making another trip to Texas to see my BFF Loopie Erica and help her plan her happily ever after.

Mostly, I’m really really glad I have my loopie mom friends and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them.

Live you guys!!!