Family · Parenting · Perspective

Family Road Trip to the San Luis Valley

I left Friday for a long road trip to Colorado for my uncle’s memorial. He was a doctor in the San Luis Valley for decades and delivered somewhere around 1000 babies over the years. He loved tie-dye, bright colors, Christmas lights, Halloween costumes, camping, hiking, celebrating, playing with us as kids and in the past 10 years with his grandkids and great nieces and nephews.

Typically a 9-10hr drive, packed into the car with my sisters, mom, dad, and mom’s cousin Jane, we meandered our way across the plains to the foothills and finally to the San Juan mountains. 13 hours later…. we pulled into Del Norte, Colorado.

mtnSeeing the mountains = winning.

Family road trip = winning.

Stellar soundtrack with my very talented musical family = winning.

EXCEPTIONALLY slow food service everywhere we stopped which added 2.5hrs to our road trip = not winning.

Fantastic historic boutique hotel with its own pastry chef providing the morning fare- 5 stars! Gorgeous room and soft bed = winning.

Hotel booked solid- only having a king, 3 people, and only a cot for person #3 = not winning. I took the first night on the cot. Multiple people commented on how tired I looked Saturday. My sister took the second night. She declared it Satan’s cot and told me I was too gracious about it the previous night. It gave her false hope.

Getting to see my cousins, aunts, uncles, and mom’s side of the family = winning.

Being able to reminisce, share memories of my uncle, and truly celebrate his life = winning. — At the end of my life, I hope people are celebrating the love, kindness and grace that I try to live with daily. Sad? Yes but definitely a life worth living!

Meeting an interesting woman at the coffee table in the hotel early on Saturday morning who practices small animal (cats specifically) veterinary medicine in Hong Kong but originally hails from South Africa and is taking 5 days to take in the scenic drives of southwest Colorado before a cat conference in Denver = winning.

I know that was a HUGE run-on sentence, but she was fascinating. We discussed different cultures and how it reflects on pet ownership, politics (respectfully) in South Africa & USA, how to put gas in a vehicle in the US (not full service as in SA), and my obese, “big boned” 15 year old, 18lb house cat who blew out a knee six months ago. Conversation with her was a spectacular way to start my day. <– I do officially strike up a conversation with almost EVERYONE I meet (Uber, coffee shop, etc) if they appear receptive after a “good morning.”

Ending the day with pizza (non-dairy sandwich for me), catching up with cousins, some intense games of pitch, and s’mores on the campfire = winning.

My family is fantastic. For all our distance, differences, and a long time-lapse between visits (close to two decades for some), they are MY family.

Missing my daughter’s cheer camp performance = not winning.

Being told by 5 different people, each in a different circumstance, that my children have “been a handful,” “kept them quite busy :(” and “are not behaving on the school bus.” All while I’m away for this memorial service… = not winning.

This was dealt with yesterday upon my return home. I did not react in a “winning” fashion. Not mom of the year. However, I do think we will see better behaviors, better choices, and hopefully less sibling nit-picking for a little while.

We packed up early Sunday morning. It was 18 degrees F!!! (Can you picture how big my eyeballs are right now!!!) So cold, or shall I say brisk with the wind coming down off the mountains!!!

Our road trip back was a bit more subdued, but did still involve a lot of singing to my DJ Jazzy Jen skills. Everyone was tired – notice the prevalence of glasses instead of contacts. My dad actually let my sister drive my vehicle = winning.

I am blessed to have the loving, supportive family I have. Nobody was forced to get out and walk on our l-o-n-g drives to and from. We did have the running joke that cousin Jane was out if we found some good antiques. All in good fun! We love cousin Jane!

Every family, every trip, every story has its bumps and curves. It’s winning and not winning moments. Fortunately, we pull together for these bumps and hold on tight for the sharp curves. If you ever get the opportunity to load up and take an adults-only family road trip, I highly recommend it!

Perspective · Uncategorized

Travel Anxiety

Travel anxiety.

Ok I said it. I have travel anxiety.

I always have. I was the kid on the bus quietly praying fervently that we wouldn’t slide off the slick gravel road after a thunderstorm (that did happen fairly frequently). I still grip the door or the Oh S*** handle in the truck when I think we are too close to the white line or are driving on a narrow road. I leave handprints on the armrests on airplanes – the WHOLE flight. Jesus and I get in some serious talks in the air.

giphy
My face when the plane takes off.

Friday, my family is traveling to Colorado for my uncle’s memorial service. A 9.5hr trip, we are taking my vehicle. My dad is driving, but he promised that if he gets too tired he’ll turn it over to one of the other five adults in the SUV. We’ve had time to process my uncle’s passing, but the sad reason for our trip will run as an undercurrent as we cover the miles.

Just the original family, no husbands or kids on this road trip. It’ll be a throwback to our childhood. I wonder if my mom will limit our Gameboy and Walkman time? Or if Dad will have ThunderDrums to play in the background as we drive across the southwest? I cross my fingers that we won’t have a freak malfunctioning door alarm that sounds every time we hit a bump…

Growing up, my parents prioritized us going on a family trip every year. One year, it was north to Turtleford, Saskatchewan, Canada to see relatives. Frequently it was to Colorado to see cousins, but with a little extra tacked on such as Mesa Verde or the Sand Dunes Natl Park. When money was tight, it was just a couple days travel across south central Nebraska to buy school supplies and stay at a B&B. Memories made everywhere we traveled no matter the destination.

Regardless- the Anxiety. I can’t help but feel that churny feeling in my stomach looking ahead to our car time. My chest is tight thinking about it. Deep breaths…

I love to travel, see new places, learn about their local history, and people watch. That’s the thing. Quite the conundrum. It’s getting started that’s hard.

 

 

Family · Health · Perspective

A Hot Drink & A Good Playlist

The weather was absolutely the picture of a perfect fall day both Saturday and Sunday. My children played out in the puddles from Friday night’s thunderstorm and blew bubbles in the sunshine while my husband worked on a few outdoor projects.

However, I was sick. After a slow downward spiral over the course of the week, consider me completely ‘flushed’ on Friday. I broke down and called the clinic after being up part of the previous night. Bless our amazing local medical professionals for their care. Most of my weekend was spent in glasses, a long-sleeved tee, and pajama pants.

Monday’s are busy. Today I’m at work. Congratulations antibiotics! You are making a  positive difference!


When it is chilly out and my body is ill, I have a few go-to’s.

  1. Something warm to snuggle in. I’m currently at my office desk with an oversized cable knit cardigan cozily draped around my body.IMG_2381
  2. Hot drink and lots of fluids. Ok… so I already drink a considerable quantity of fluids on a daily basis. Somewhere in the vicinity of 90-100oz. When I’m ill, I try to jack that up another 50-60oz.
    Today I treated myself to a “vanilla cream” decaf soy latte hold the actual cream. Why? Because my doctor called and said I needed to change medications and the coffee shop is next to the pharmacy. Lucky me!coffee
  3. A candle. Every year I ask for an “autumn-smelly” candle for my October birthday. Basically a deep, rich, non-flowery smelling candle. I purchased this one for myself at the pharmacy on Friday when I was in grabbing my meds. If I’m going to be sick and miserable, at least my house can smell inviting and cozy. As a perk, WoodWick candles crackle as the wick burns.woodwick
  4. Good music. My friend Kelsey introduced me to the Avett Bros on Pandora last week. Their station includes the Avett Bros, Ray LaMontagne, Ron Pope, Ed Sheeran, John Legend, etc. All soulful sounds that don’t have a driving beat. Check out one of their songs here: I and Love and You – Avett Brothers
  5. Games with my kids. When I’m not feeling up to running around the yard or house, we play a lot of board games, puzzles and host stuffed animal/ baby doll tea parties. guess whoWe teamed up for games last night. M and I lost 2 out of 3 games of ‘Guess Who?’ to the ruthlessly strategic big brother. It doesn’t help that she ALWAYS tries to draw Diane. Diane has a crown. Of course she wants Diane!!!

What are your go-to’s when you aren’t feeling great?

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Important

Just a thought to ponder.

We tell our children that we love them. Multiple times. Every single day. Hundreds if not thousands of times a month.

When was the last time you told your child that he or she is important? That sweet young person or grown adult- that he or she matters to you?

Shouldn’t these two phrases be simultaneous?

I told my son this a few weeks ago. Actually I asked if he knew that he was important to me.

His answer crushed me- NO.

Maybe it was just the language. He is very literal, no abstract clumping or assuming in that child.

I proceeded to tell him- “You are important to me. You matter. Your choices, ideas, laughter, happiness. It is all important to us.”

It made him smile sleepily. I hugged him and continued our bedtime rituals.

When was the last time you told a loved one that they are important?  Tell them. ❤

#bethegood

 

Creativity · Perspective · Uncategorized

October

Day #1 of Year 35 started rainy and cool

In October, the turning leaves are works of art

Textures in the prairie grass make the roadsides a patchwork quilt

Soulful music serenades my day at the office

A bouquet of deep oranges, rich reds and carmelized yellows adorns my desk

Another trip around the sun

I am grateful. ❤

birthday bouquet (2)

 

Faith · Love · Perspective

Be the Good.

What to say and how to say it? I’m not sure as I start to type.

I’m reeling from Sunday night’s events in Las Vegas. I sat at my desk this morning and listened to the first responder’s audio. Tears streamed down my face. For those experiencing this tragedy firsthand, I offer my sincere condolences. I weep with you.

211_3000x2212_all-free-download.com_935438

As more details become available, a slightly clearer picture of this man comes into focus. Alone. Premeditated. Succumbed to evil. Apart from love. Was he mentally ill? I don’t know. Depressed? Maybe. Angry – ABSOLUTELY.

We may never know what spurred this on. It will leave us all with a shard of fear, questions about that person living down the street or in the hotel room next to us, a hesitation about crowds and what’s on the other side of the door. That is EXACTLY what evil wants for us. To worry, hesitate, and isolate ourselves. To withdraw. To lose trust- in ourselves, in each other, and in God.

Free will. The ability to make our own choices. I’ve said it before. It is a double edged sword.

We have the CHOICE- good or evil. We have the CHOICE- help or hurt. We have the CHOICE- forgiveness or retaliation.

He CHOSE evil, hurt, and retaliation. He CHOSE to inflict pain on innocent people.

This is where we have to fight back. I CHOOSE good, to help, and to forgive. I CHOOSE to love my neighbor. I CHOOSE to shine with the love God gives me to use.

Yes, I’ve been hurt. I’ve been damaged and flat out broken at points. Some moments in life take your breath away, sink you all the way to the bottom, and suck away the life you are clinging to.

I’m also redeemed, accepted, forgiven and loved for all my low and high points. If only the shooter had felt a small portion of that, I can’t help but think he might have chosen differently.


Yesterday, on top of the sadness about Las Vegas was a bitterness that I’ve not experienced before from someone I personally know. It was directed at people who are praying.

“Frankly, if you’re still just thinking and praying, you’re an asshole.”

Ouch! Whoa buddy. Hold that rancorous, spiteful thought for just a moment…

I’m not “just thinking and praying.” I’m currently working with youth at a welcoming faith-based outreach program. I’m also active at my children’s school- not just as a PTO member, but as a caring person willing to stoop down to help tie a shoe, hold a door, and say good morning or hello to that sweet little face that is scowling on his way in or out the doors. I don’t know what they are experiencing and absorbing at home, but for the love, I am going to be a positive influence on them!

I’m doing my little piece as big and as wide as I can. And YES. I’m praying.

I challenge you if you find yourself not only sad, but also bitter and angry, to find a way to positively interact with those around you. This world is broken. It always has been. It seems that more of the pieces keep shattering. But in this, I keep seeing the good. The good surfaces where there is brokenness – in the aftermath of the hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and crimes – neighbors step up, charities step in, people start looking outside themselves and praying for the benefit of others.

The GOOD rises.

Be the GOOD.