Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Parents

I am thankful for many things, but one thing in particular lately: my family.

I was raised by a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican. My mother is a teacher and my father a chemist. My dad is a well-known musician (the best… better than Trent, guys) and my mother is a creative and crafty genius and a verbal and literary wordsmith.

My mother taught me how to be a mom. I started realizing this once I married my husband and gained a stepson, and it really set in once I had two children of my own. A house full of boys. My mom, whether she or I ever realized it or not, prepared me from the time I was young to be a woman, a mother, a forgiving and thoughtful person. When I cuddle with my boys and pull them close I remember my mom doing the same. The boys bring me books to read or toys to play with and I do the special voices, follow our playful routines (and of course change things up constantly) just like I remember my patient mother doing. I look at my boys and can’t figure out how to not grit my teeth with the abundance of love and emotion I have for them, and I remember seeing the same emotions in my mommy’s face. I lose my patience with the boys sometimes, and hide in my bathroom or cry and try to explain to them what its like to be stressed and overwhelmed and then I remember that they’re kids… and I’m taken back to moments when I’d hear my mom sigh or see her frown and I know she was stressing about adult things, but she was still my mother. She still took care of us and loved us, and when I feel like I can’t do it anymore I remember these moments when she did keep doing it. Some of my favorite memories with my mom involve us going to school with her in the summer to work in her classroom. My sister and I would roam the hallways and explore the old historical original Hall School building. Afterward sometimes my mom would take us out to eat and before we got out of the car she’d ask us, “Do you want to bring in books to read, or do you want to talk?” Often we would all bring in our own books to read and we’d spend time together silently reading for part of the time and talking about the literary worlds we were currently living in the rest of the time. One of my favorite visual memories of my mom is from a family video in our first house. My sister, mom dad, granddad, and a few family friends and I were in the yard at the farm watching a litter of puppies play. My mom was taking a bucket of feed to the chickens: smiling, working, joking. Watching my sister toddling around and laughing at us while we chased the puppies. She’s wearing a skirt and its summer, or maybe spring. She was sort of like a hippy, care-free (seemingly) and laughing and outdoors-loving and just beautiful. When people tell me now that I look like her I take it as the biggest compliment. I hope I can be like her.

My dad taught me how to analyze things and how to be attentive and notice details. My dad has shown me that your plate can actually never be too full, you just have to learn how to rearrange things and ask for help and forgiveness from people. My dad taught me that things can be beautiful and relaxed and worthwhile even when you feel like you can’t go on and don’t have the space or time for things. My dad has shown me that you can make mistakes and be upset about things, and that’s okay, but then you have to pick yourself up, consider what went wrong and how to repair things, and then do it. My dad (and my mom!) showed me how to be an independent woman. Gender never got between things he did with or showed me or my sister; we learned how to properly use guns, how to hike and fish, how to make a plan and build things, how to take care of a yard and house and garden. Growing up we all did those things together; there weren’t different roles for different people. My dad showed me that one can have conservative beliefs but not be stifling.

Maybe I was just lucky to have parents that are completely different and capable of being independent. Maybe that’s why I don’t have trouble sorting out my feelings about current events and political issues, because it is possible to be a Democrat or a Republican and not be outlandishly opposed to everything the other side has to say. It is okay to question things and to push for answers, and it is okay to fight for what you believe in… once you figure out what that is.

Oh yeah, and Atticus and I set all the egg timers at Meijer in Plainfield last Friday afternoon at 1:05. I really hope someone heard them all go off and laughed and didn’t get upset because gosh I feel guilty about doing that.

Advertisements

What’s up with me lately

Everyone goes through tough times now and then… And right now is my time. I’ve been dealing with a rather large personal issue for the past few months, and to put it very simply and very mildly: it’s been a tough time lately. I’m not ready to talk about it ‘in public’ so to speak, and thus haven’t written about it. I’ve tried to think of other things to write about but I just can’t think of anything. I have considered just trying to summarize my day, but my life feels so consumed with this lately. 

I was talking to some friends the other day about how depressed my lack of writing had made me, and they encouraged me –gently– to get back into things. So here goes! 

Thursday after work Nate met me to exchange the boys, and Trent and Atticus begged me to go to the car wash. I agreed, and it was so nice to see their glee while the car got bubbled up and then rinsed off. We took the interstate home, something I rarely do that time of day. At the exit in my small town a homeless man (I assumed) was standing with a sign asking for food. I usually ignore, but for some reason decided to treat the boys and the man to some McDonald’s. I turned around, hollered our and got his order, then met him at a truck stop to hand it off. Trent wanted me to roll down his window so he could talk to the guy. It was so interesting and overwhelmingly emotional to hear how different (happy and animated) Trent was, telling this guy he hoped he enjoyed his food, and talking about me. It was such an uplifting experience, and when I pulled into my driveway I had a lot of emotions and thoughts. 

I saw the guy again the next afternoon, sitting in the same spot outside the truck stop, wearing the same dingy clothes. I had to go to work and run a bunch of errands with the boys, including getting more bad and scary news (because hey, it’s just normal these days). We picked out a few things at the store to pass on to the guy, but when our hectic day was over and we headed home he wasn’t at the truck stop. I keep wondering what his future holds. 

  • My troubles and sorrows are nothing compared to what they could be. 
  • My friends and family love me and support me, and will no matter what. They’re whatever I need when I need them to be whatever, and are relaxed in their expectations of me right now. For that I’m thankful. 
  • Sometimes people fall behind and need help from others in tons of ways, big and small. I want to help how I can, and I am trying to give myself grace and forgiveness when I ask for help from others. 

Here are some pictures of some of the things that make me smile: 

 

  

  

 

  

A Reason & A Season… I Guess

There have been lots of moments this past month where I’ve thought “Oooh, I’ll blog about that!” but nothing ever comes to fruition. I’ve been hitting the gym hard when I go, and I feel good about that. I’ve started working on a really awesome project at work that could pan out to be sometime even more awesome. I’ve got a trip coming up soon to Las Vegas, somewhere I’ve never been, and I’m excited to see all of Nate’s family when we go. I’m starting a fun personal project that I can’t wait to share with everyone. But no, I just don’t feel like writing about any of those things. Each time I think I should write I just don’t.

There has been something on my mind for about 3 months now, and I’m guessing maybe I just need to write about it. I brush it off as something that just happened, but then it comes back into my mind all the time. As often as I’ve brought it up “in passing,” and have gotten confused looks from my family and friends… I think I just need to get it out as best as I can.

Have you ever heard the term “Vaguebooking?” If not, this will be similar to it, but on a larger scale, I guess, since this is my blog.

About three months ago I got my feelings hurt by a good friend. I’ve been working for a long time on being more honest, less timid, and on addressing things that need to be addressed, even though it’s painful for me. Instead of stewing about it, I mentioned it to my friend. Now, three months later I’m down one friend. I don’t understand what happened, and it wasn’t until recently that I realize how much this has effected me.

I try to remind myself that people come into our lives for a wide variety of reasons and for all lengths of time. I try to remind myself that all friends can successfully be “easy” friendships, made up of times where you visit and see each other often and times where it doesn’t work out, but it is still okay. I remind myself that people have lots of things going on in their lives, and that sometimes there just isn’t enough time for people to be present for all of their friends. I guess it just doesn’t feel like any of these things are applicable in this situation.

When I was a teen I remember crying to my dad about my personality and how awful it is. I got tired of not being able to be what people wanted me to be. I clearly remember him telling me a memory he has of me standing at the end of our driveway just watching a group of kids walk by with this look of longing. I remember doing that. I’ve never forgotten that moment or his recalling that moment, because it perfectly sums up the way I feel. I’m always looking on, waiting for friends to come to me, or waiting for friendships to get better, wanting to be liked and appreciated by everyone.

I think about that defining memory a lot, especially when I’m having a day like I’ve been having for the last few days. I don’t have to wait around for people to be my friend: if I want someone to be my friend I have to first be a friend to them. I have to give what I want to be able to take. I feel like I’m pretty good at doing that with my friends, and when I’m not being a good friend, I enjoy that my friends feel okay telling me so.

It is HARD to tell people how you feel, especially hard to tell friends. What if that friend doesn’t take it well and gets upset? Or worse, what if that friend apologizes… then disappears from your life? The life cycle of a friendship is something I’ll never understand. I’m trying, though.

Reading Goals

I grew up the daughter to an avid reader and we spent a ton of time at the local library. We’d get a pile of books apiece, and the whole process is a memory I hold dearly. My sister and mom and I would spill out of the car and head into the library where we’d peruse the shelves for an hour or so. I’d spend time looking for picture books (and later chapter books) in the children’s area, then I’d play one of their two gaming computers if we had time, or I’d play with some of the toys and board games they had available. Sometimes I’d lay in the fiction shelves while my mom slowly shopped, not complaining, but rather enjoying the cavernous, dark secret feeling the shelves seemed to give me. We’d take our books to the front desk where we’d be checked out and I’d relax in the car while we drove the 15 minutes home, my only concern being the decision I had before me of which book to read first.

My mom would take my sister and I along with her to the school where she worked in the summers so she could set up her classroom and sometimes we’d be there in the mornings before school or afternoons after school. When she taught in a classroom I loved lounging in the reading area she had set up for her students, and I’d browse the shelves of books she had. The pickings got better when she became the librarian at the elementary school, and when she moved to become the librarian at the middle and high school I had even more to choose from.

When we’d run errands my mom, sister and I would always carry a book along with us. After the boring stuff was over my mom would sometimes treat us to lunch somewhere, and would ask if we’d rather have conversation or if we’d rather all read over our meals. We’d do both…. sometimes reading and sometimes talking about what we were reading.

In the summers any of us could be found around the yard or on the desk chilling out with a book, and in the winter we’d cuddle on the couches our on the floor with a blanket hovered over the registers in the floor, book in hand.

We’ve just always been readers. We were always reading, a book ever our sidekick. (cute, huh?)

When I got into college I just didn’t have as much time to read anymore, and after graduation I rediscovered the library when I applied for a position there again. I was living with Nate by then, and I’d bring home stacks of 8-10 books every few weeks. I applied for graduate school 6 months later and between that, planning our wedding, and buying and building our house, my reading tapered off. Then I started having kids and the reading tapered off even more.

In the past year or so I’ve picked up on my reading a little more, and it’s really satisfying. I’ve started participating in an online book club at work and have been taking advantage of my Goodreads list as well.

I do wish I read faster and had more time to read. It feels like I never finish a book in less than three weeks. I’ve been working on “A Game of Thrones” for the past three months. It is so good! I am listening to it on CD in my car, and I have the paperback on my nightstand and the eBook on my phone. I’m just about finish it… I’m 5 pages away from the end of the last chapter. Now I have to decide: do I start on book 2, knowing it will take me a long time to read it as well? Or do I take a break and focus on easier reads? I’m leaning towards starting it immediately, because I don’t know how I’d wait!

I think I’m going to make a reading goal next year to read 20 books. I’ll try to read each book club book and a few extras in between or overlapping. Wish me luck!

Beer money! Or: ways to earn money on the internet and on your phone

We all love extra spending money, and have our various ways of making it. Nate and I both love our jobs, but we keep a tight budget. One of my contributions to our family is my passion for finding small ways to earn extra money for spending or saving. Okay, maybe it’s not beer money for everyone. For me it’s Starbucks and woven wrap (My first Didymos Indio, here I come!) money, because let’s be real: beer money is built into my budget.

So here are some of the apps and websites I use. Please note that asterisked items use my referral link 😉

Swagbucks*
Swagbucks is a website that gives you points (called… you guessed it: Swagbucks) that you can redeem for things such Amazon, Starbucks, and Paypal gift cards.

What I like:

  • Tons of ways to earn points
  • Huge selection of rewards
  • Well known and established

What I don’t like:

  • Some points opportunities come with spam if you aren’t careful

I downloaded two free apps that help me earn points (SBTV and Entertainow), and there are a few more apps available for download if you have an android device (which I don’t). Basically I turn these video apps on while I’m using my wireless at home and let the points rack up. Swagbucks sets daily goals for how many points you can try to earn, and when you reach the goal you’re rewarded with more points (on the 5th of the following month). There is a great guide on Reddit written by /u/Garwald that can help you maximize how many swagbucks you earn. In the 6 weeks I’ve been using Swagbucks consistently I have earned $50 in Paypal, and within the next week I will have another $25.

The Ride
The Ride is a super-easy passive way to get some freebies. As you travel via car, foot, bike, plane you earn points that you can redeem for rewards such as gift cards.

What I like:

  • It’s passive; I don’t have to do anything

What I don’t like:

  • It can take awhile to earn points
  • not much to choose from in terms of rewards
  • Only available for apple devices

While I don’t know exactly how many points in getting per mile I also don’t really care. I literally installed this app and then forgot about it. A few months later I redeemed for a Starbucks gift card. I haven’t seen Starbucks as a redemption offer lately, but Dunkin Donuts is one choice, as are Amazon cards among a few other options. I drive about 30 miles each day to and from work so I do earn points fairly easily, but obviously this might not be as useful to a stay-at-home parent. I will be flying to Monterey in two months and I can’t wait to see my points increase after that.

Recyclebank website and app
Recyclebank lets you do activities like watching brief animations, taking shirt quizzes, and reading articles in exchange for points. You can redeem the points for coupons, discounts, gift cards, and magazine subscriptions.

What I like:

  • It’s teaching you something while you earn points
  • It’s easy to earn points

What I don’t like:

  • You can send email referrals or invite people via Facebook, but there’s no set referral link

The activities on recyclebank are quick and easy to do, and it kinda makes me feel good to do them. I’ve actually learned a lot from watching the short (like 30 second) videos and by doing the quizzes. If you have children it’s fun and worthwhile to get them involved, too. You can also put in ziplock codes for points, which is cool. We’ve become more energy-conscious and have a large receptacle for aluminum recycling. I’ve enjoyed some Starbucks as a reward 🙂

Ibotta*
Ibotta gives you cash back when you purchase things at stores that appear in the app.

What I like:

  • You just get direct, good old money (via Paypal)
  • It’s easy to do
  • You can use it as much or as little as you want

What I don’t like:

  • It takes some planning, like couponing
  • There are a few steps involved each time you get a rebate

Ibotta is a mobile app that lets you select items you plan to buy, do a small activity (like read a fact, watch a short video, etc) and then scan the item once you purchase it and submit a photo of the receipt. The app lets you choose groceries and merchandise from stores like CVS and Kroger, dishes from restaurants like Chili’s, and you can even get rebates for movies you go to. I’ve made a total of $42 since I’ve begun using the app. The problem I have is that I don’t think to use it, but I have plenty of friends who use it frequently and get money back every time they shop.

Viggle*
Viggle is a mobile app that let’s you checkin to TV shows or songs for points. You can redeem the points for things like Redbox rentals, music downloads, k-cups, electronics, etc.

What I like:

  • Easy to use
  • Large rewards catalog
  • You can use it as much or as little as you want

What I don’t like:

  • Easy to forget about
  • some of the rewards are for like, 3,000,000 points and it’s like… yeah right

To use Viggle you just hit the “check-in” button while watching TV or listening to music. Your device’s microphone will ‘listen’ for about 30 seconds, then you’ll verify that it picked up the right show or song. You get 1 point per minute of TV (not counting bonuses for things like NFL games or season premieres), or 25 points per song, with a limit of 20 songs per day. As you use the app your “Fandom” level will increase giving you access to discounted rewards.

Mango Health
Mango Health is a mobile app that let’s you keep track of your prescription medications while earning points for taking them correctly.

What I like:

  • Different from other rewards apps
  • Extremely helpful and useful
  • Easy to use
  • Mostly passive
  • Nice prizes

What I don’t like:

  • Points level you up but otherwise aren’t redeemable

Mango Health is super useful and helpful. You enter in the medications you’re on and it reminds you when it’s time to take them and when you’re due for a refill. It also give you information about the medicine including possible reactions between the medications you take. The points you earn level you up but aren’t redeemable. However, as you level up you are eligible to be randomly drawn for higher level prizes. I’ve been using the app for just over 3 months and I’ve won twice: once I won a $1 ASPCA donation, and once I won a $25 Starbucks card. I’m currently at level 6 which makes me eligible to win $50 prizes. I never forget to take my medicine anymore, and the refill reminders are super nice.

Shopkick*
Shopkick is a mobile app that lets you checkin to stores and scan barcodes to earn points (called “kicks”) that are redeemable for all kinda of gift cards and electronics… or even a cruise (uh-huh).

What I like:

  • No purchases necessary
  • Nice prizes

What I don’t like:

  • The app was revamped awhile back and became harder to use
  • If you don’t use the app or redeem your kicks for like 6 months you’ll lose them

Shopkick is mostly easy to use (though not as easy as it used to be). Basically you open the app when you walk I to stores that are associated with Shopkick, and it credits you with points. Also, you can scan items in the store (like groceries or toothpaste) for more kicks. The kicks are redeemable for Starbucks cards, movie tickets, etc. I used it frequently for awhile and my husband and I had a nice movie date. I don’t use it much anymore, honestly, because I just plain forgot about it.

So, what apps or websites do you use to earn extra money? Everyone loves findings out ways to earn money on the internet or using apps, so please share your ideas here, I know I’d love to hear it.

How to freeze green beans

The beans are ripe for the picking, and starting last week there’s about a xerox box or two full of beans ready to pick.

The green beans we grow are heirloom green beans. My dad and I love to try different heirloom vegetables in the garden (we’ve done about 25-30 heirloom tomato varieties!) and green beans are one we’ve had lots of success with each year. He planted a few varieties at my grandma’s house, and one row he built up to be almost 8 feet high. The vibes grow up and up and up so it’s a real space-saver. The tops of the vines have tons of beans, too.

IMG_6885.JPG

IMG_6886.JPG

IMG_6884.JPG

In my opinion the green beans are best straight off the vine raw, that’s not really easy for me to do with all of them. Mary and I like to pickle them, we’ve dehydrated them, and I like to cook them in the crockpot, but perhaps the most versatile thing to do with them is to freeze them to use all year long.

While the process for freezing the beans is by no means difficult, it unfortunately isn’t as easy as just throwing them in the freezer. Freezing beans is a 6 step process, and luckily each step takes only a short amount of time.

IMG_7092.JPG

You’ll need…
A bunch of green beans. A sauce pot. Salt (kosher is better). A colander or two. A few big bowls for ice baths and temporarily storing the beans. Ice. Freezer bags. A straw.

1. Wash. This is easy. Just rinse the beans in cool water, being careful to rub off any cobwebs or dirt.
2. Pop and Pinch. Pinch of the stems, being mindful to leave as much of the bean intact as possible. You can also pop the bean into 1-2 inch pieces, though some people like to leave their beans whole.
3. Boil. Fill a sauce pot with water and add a generous amount of salt, about 1-2 tablespoons per quart of water. The beans won’t be in the water long enough to absorb too much of the flavor but what is absorbed will aid in preserving the flavor and nutrients. Once the water is boiling add your beans and let them boil for 2 minutes. The beans should turn bright green and should taste cooked but should still be quite firm. Do NOT overlook them.
4. Ice Bath. Drain the beans and immediately dump them into an ice bath, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or your hands to ensure that they cool quickly.
5. Drain and Dry. Once the beans are completely cooled drain the water and pat the beans dry with a paper towel.
6. Bag. Once the beans are dry you can portion them into freezer bags. I usually do a mix of gallon-sized and sandwich-sized bags, and occasionally a few snack-sized bags. Lay the bags flat and sort of shake them so the beans are all flat and spread evenly. Of course you don’t want to fill the bags too full. I zip the bags almost all the way closed then stick a straw in the end and suck the air out. While still sucking, pull the straw out and quickly zip the rest of the bag. This isn’t the best way to get all the air out but it does keep the bags flatter and easier to store.

IMG_7026.JPG

Confrontation & Being an Introvert

I am an introvert.

I’m not the life of the party, I hate being the center of attention, and I won’t be the first to initiate a conversation, if I can help it.

But if I’m at a party, you better believe I’ll have a good time. Possibly too good of a time. I want to make sure everyone else has fun, too. While I don’t want attention focused on me I do want recognition… doesn’t everyone? If you want to talk to me, just do it; I’ll listen until you have no words left, and then I’ll talk until the cows come home.

Have an issue? *cringe* I hate confrontation. If I have a reaction I’ll probably go to a friend and sulk about it and whine, a lot longer than a normal person would. But I typically don’t address things… or at least I didn’t used to. I’ve made great strides in the last year or so in working toward being a better person, a calmer person, but I’m not perfect.

Things used to bother me all the time. And what made it worse was that I never addressed things with people unless I couldn’t handle it… and if that was the case, watch out. It was like popping a cork, and I would go ballistic on people with no warning. That wasn’t fair, and it was exhausting. I have to say that while confronting someone is still an exhausting task for me I’m working on it and I think I’m getting better at it. I’m trying to become a happier, more productive person.

 fitterhappier copy

That’s it, really.

Just when you think you’ve had enough

Everyone has times when you think things are bad, and then they just get worse. It’s been like that for me lately. I hate to be a downer, but my job is hard. Being a full-time working mom is hard. Getting housework done is hard. Personal issues I’ve recently had are hard. Stuff’s just hard, man. But just when I thought I’d had enough things start to get better: stuff at work that wasn’t working for so long is… better. Just when I was feeling crappy, a coworker took the time to tell me I’m appreciated.

I know a woman named Jennifer. Jennifer is calm, hilarious, peaceful, sarcastic, smart, sympathetic, and thoughtful. I love working with her because she is always ready to listen, share empathetic stories, give her honest opinion, and take action in whatever way you need her to. Jennifer always has a funny story or humorous idea; some of my favorite work moments involve Jennifer’s humor. She purchased some bump-it’s once and tried them in my hair. Now, if you know my hair, you know why that’s funny. I probably had the highest, tangliest, bumpiest bump ever. Another time I brought in one of my wraps (my Dolcino, my first real woven) and she photographed me posing with some library babies. She’s such a great photographer… I can remember helping her get pictures off her digital camera a few times, so of course I got to check out her pictures. She’s amazing at taking pictures of anything! I’m lucky to be her Facebook friend, because I constantly get to read stories and see photos she’s taken while on nature walks.

20140612-191354-69234995.jpg

Before my 30th birthday last fall I started thinking a lot about what happens to us when we die. Morbid, I know, and yeah… I’ll save the details for another post. Jennifer is a co-pastor for a Quaker church with a lot of theology knowledge, an open mind, and a peaceful demeanor. I talked to her briefly about my concerns, and I’ll never forget how she responded when I told her my fears, and asked her, “what happens to us when we die?” Her response: “I don’t know.” She told me her thoughts and hopes, but she never made me feel stupid, or like I should be fearful, or like I was bad or wrong for not already having a firm belief. I still don’t know what I think, and I wonder about it a lot. But I’m not as lost anymore, and I know I can depend on her to talk it out any time.

Jennifer knows how hard work has been for me lately, and today as I headed back to my office to get my things ready to leave I was surprised to find her in there. “Hey, I was just writing you a note,” she said. “It says ‘I bought you some cookies. Of course I had to try one. Then I had another but I couldn’t finish it, so I only had half.'” Totally Jennifer. So giving, but so honest and funny at the same time. I told her she didn’t have to so that, and she said, “it’s just some cookies.”

Jennifer lied. It was more than cookies. First of all, the gift came with a hug. I’m not one to ask or offer hugs often, but each time I share one with someone I remember how great they are. Once I got to my car I opened the gift bag and shared some cookies with Atticus and Trent. I told Trent that Jennifer had given them to us. He knows Jennifer because he likes to share his crazy jokes with her and play shy with her. We went back in to thank her, then left. It wasn’t until later that I saw what else was in the bag: a delicious looking tea drink I can’t wait to enjoy. I love tea! And the best part… a Jennifer original photograph.

20140612-194830-71310203.jpg

I first saw this picture when Jennifer shared it on Facebook. I showed this to Trent and asked what he saw and he said “some trees.” Then his face lot up. “A heart, mommy!” He said that it was nice of Jennifer to give it to me.

Jennifer also included a note, which made me cry. She said something really important, something I want to remember and something I hope others take away from this.

I think people don’t realize that they are making an impact on others unless the ‘others’ tell them. So, I am telling you!

She’s right. And I bet she didn’t know how much her thoughtfulness meant to me, how hard things have been and how wonderful her words felt to read, and just how perfectly timed she was. Actually, I’m sure she knew. Jennifer’s too smart not to. She always notices the little things.

She is a good woman. I’m so glad to know her. Thanks, Jennifer.

Memorial Day to Me

What a whirlwind month it’s been! My best friend got married in Florida, and Nate and I drove down there to attend. I was the lucky matron of honor and I did feel honored to be a part of Sara and Wally Bolinger’s special day. Sara looked stunning in her dress and her cute starfish updo was amazing. Nate and I got to spend a chunk of time together alone for his birthday which was fabulous. I haven’t been to a beach or Florida in over a decade and it was so nice. I’m determined to take my kids in the next couple is years.

Here are some pictures from the weekend. I can’t wait to see the professional ones!

20140526-202941-73781334.jpg

20140526-202940-73780464.jpg

20140526-202937-73777772.jpg

20140526-202938-73778701.jpg

20140526-202942-73782203.jpg

20140526-202936-73776812.jpg

20140526-202939-73779548.jpg

20140526-202943-73783071.jpg

I saw a post recently in which someone mentioned that there is a difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Veterans Day is meant to honor all of those who have served our country, while Memorial Day is meant to remember those who have fallen during their time in service. I do understand this difference, though I didn’t always. Maybe it isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, but I choose to think of all who have served or are serving on Memorial Day, because surely every service person has been effected by a fallen friend or peer. I find myself considering how difficult the emotional and mental stresses are on our American soldiers.

What do you think?

Daddy, Bluegrass, Nickel Creek, And Aging

Well, last night was interesting and fun. And it has left me thinking about a lot of things today.

Nickel Creek played live at the Murat theatre last night, and because my dad is awesome he bought four tickets. Nate and I and my friend Courtney went with my dad, and Lindsay and her sister Meagan met us there as well. A fun time was had by all.

20140508-223733.jpg

I have tons of memories of my childhood, and in many of them I can hear my dad in the background playing his fiddle of mandolin. I can remember laying in bed with my sister struggling to go to sleep and listening to my dad walk around the house, armed with an instrument. He would often make his way into our bedroom and play in the doorway for awhile; it was soothing and always left me feeling happy when I fell asleep. Playing outside in the summer my dad would either be working hard in the yard or wandering around making music to the trees and the grass and the birds and us. In the evenings when I was older I can remember sitting at the bar doing homework or at the computer chatting with friends and listening to my dad in the living room or basement playing his bluegrass. He’d wander around and often eventually go outside for awhile. As younger kids he would play “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his fiddle and my sister and I would pluck the strings when it was time for the pop. I had my own tiny fiddle when I was a kid. Now Trent has his own, and I can’t wait for him to make his own music. Music, particularly bluegrass, is just part of my life.

20140508-224446.jpg

While we were eating and drinking before the show last night it struck me that my dad was older than everyone else with us, but he doesn’t act it. In fact neither of my parents seem old. I always get comments about having “cool parents.” Yeah, I know they’re cool. My dad doesn’t seem to act any differently… he doesn’t try to act young or change his views or opinions. He tells stories that are just perfect for the situation, shared his thoughts, makes people laugh, and treats people with respect. It’s hard not to want to be around him. When I was young at a music festival I can remember a family friend commenting that wherever Donnie goes others will follow. He has a natural charisma. He makes people happy and comfortable, and it’s hard not to want to be near him.

I sat next to him during the show last night. I had mentioned to him beforehand that I remembered being at a symphony concert with him during college and when someone got a wrong note we had given each other a sideways glance. He and I have pretty strong ears when it comes to things like that, and it’s like a secret we share when we notice wrong notes, strong improv, and other things. I love it. I looked sideways at him at one point last night and noticed he wears a nearly unnoticeable hearing aid. For some reason thinking about that right now makes me cry. I think of my dad the way I remember him 15 years ago. He doesn’t seem old to me. And neither does my mom. When people ask how old my parents are I immediately think 40-50, because that’s just how I think of them. I want my dad to be able to hear the music that’s made up his life just as clearly now as he always has, as clearly as I can still hear it in my memories.

I really struggle with the idea of mortality. The alternative isn’t too appealing and I know that, but getting older and seeing the people I love age along with me is really hard for me. Sometimes I wish I was still 9 or 10. I love my life now. I love my family and my boys and my job and the things I’ve experienced and accomplished. But I store miss being young and just having my mom and dad and sister around me all the time sometimes. I miss the innocence and wonder. I miss trotting around with my sister and the other bluegrass kids at festivals while my mom and dad played and listened to music and chatted.

Getting older and watching those around me age is one of the hardest things for me.