Posted in Family & Friends

That old adage is true.

1-DSC04857During Meg’s spring visit last month she told me of a discovery she’d found buried in her email from many years earlier. She had been spending the summer in Savannah, Georgia, doing her internship for her sonography certification. She and I had driven down in the spring and got her set up in an apartment (long story here). What transpired that summer in Savannah is best forgotten, at least by me. But apparently she kept the emails that flowed back and forth during that time, and after re-reading them, she called me, all these years later, to first apologize and then to thank me. She apologized for the hell she put me through from a thousand miles away; the drama, the tears, the guilt. Then she thanked me for putting up with the drama, the tears, and the guilt. In her words, “I can’t believe what I put you through!” I can say without hesitation, that was music to my ears!

Anyone who has had a teenage daughter can probably relate in some way to this story. Some of my friends who still have teenage daughters no doubt wonder if ‘it’ will ever end – “it” being the drama, the know-it-all attitude, the tears, the guilt. But I am here to tell you it does end. They do grow up. They do become your friend, someone to talk with, share with, laugh with, cry with; someone to send you gifts for no reason, call you up just to see how you are, even someone to give some much-needed advice when you least expect it.

The older Meg gets, the closer we get. Maybe it’s because inside I feel like I’m still in my 30’s and she’s just beginning that era. I don’t know. I only know that the old adage is so very true:

A son is your son til he takes a wife.  A daughter’s your daughter the rest of your life!



Posted in Family & Friends, Florida Fun

Drew and family visit Florida!

0019Even though this is the sunshine state, one never knows for sure if the weather is going to cooperate when you have company; especially when that company involves small children. I did my best to arrange things we could do outdoors, and with the help of some great friends, I was able to procure two more bikes and a bike stroller. The ocean is always there, so now we just needed some sunshine and warmth. And God provided!

Drew and family arrived late Sunday night, so after a little adjustment, the kids went to bed without too much ado. Morning actually came later than expected, and after a MOTOWN BREAKFAAAAAST! we decided to try the bikes. Thom had to work, so it 0025was left to Drew and I to prepare the tires, seat heights, etc. We had one glitch that we overcame with a little ingenuity on Drew’s part, and off we went, kids trailing happily behind their dad. Leading the way and with Kristin bringing up the rear, I looked back and couldn’t help myself grinning from ear to ear and saying a silent “thank you, God!” to the beautiful sunshine above.

Some time at the playground and a quick trip to show my kids off to my co-workers, and we were back home for lunch, naps, and finally a trip to the 0004ocean. Thom was already there with the umbrella set up, in his wetsuit and in the chilly water. The waves were great but the water was COLD! Drew tried a couple times to go in, finally saying he couldn’t do it; he was already feeling “hypothermic.” But watching how much fun Thom was having and being ‘this close’ to the action, he resigned himself to becoming numb and took the plunge! Standing on the warmth of the shore we could NOT believe he went for it! After a few failed attempts to catch a wave, he timed it perfectly and caught right on. We watched for over half an hour as he and Thom fought and caught the huge breakers in that chilly Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, the kids, especially Dez, enjoyed playing at the shoreline, running from the waves or jumping as they crashed. Dez was a slippery little thing, and he did have a couple scares, but all in all he had a ball. I was in heaven watching Drew in the water, Kris and the grandkids on the beach, and the pelicans and gannets soaring and diving, all creating wonderful entertainment!

The next couple days flew by with more biking, beaching, shelling, swinging, dancing, bubble-blowing, chalk-drawing, crying (yes) and laughing. Meals in and meals out were a great success with the kids behaving beautifully. Drew said the best part for him was it was the first time in four years he and Kristin were both able to sleep in after 7:00 am!

It was a perfect visit. Thom and I had a great time, and I think Kris, Drew, Dez and Evie did, too.

Gotta love the salt life!

       More photos here: [portfolio-gallery include=2652]

Posted in Comp'ny, Family & Friends, Florida Fun

Welcome any time!

It was so wonderful to have my mom spend last month with us. She’s 87 now, thoughAt Cherie Down Park if you ask her, she’d say she feels like she’s in her 60s or so. She likes to say that fish and company smell after three days, but I beg to differ. Perhaps some company smells after three days, but not my mother. She’s the easiest, most pleasant person to have in any home. Here’s how she spent her days:

She’d wake up around 9:00 a.m., laze a bit and then shuffle on out around 9:30-10:00 in her bathrobe and slippers for her morning coffee, her “Nectar of the gods!”  She’d have a piece of raisin or peanut butter toast, a small glass of milk, and then she’d sit and read the paper, maybe start on a crossword puzzle.  She’d then exclaim how lazy she is and how guilty she feels not being dressed yet.

If she spent more than an hour getting ready for the day, it was because she had to shower. When that was done, she’d come out to the living room and drop into the chair and bemoan how hard it is and what a pain it is to get all clean.  (I was never sure if she was just kidding or if it really wore her out. I’m thinking it really wears her out! She’s 87!!)

She’d find her book that she’s read at least three times or a crossword puzzle or P_20140129_211507perhaps her knitting, settle herself in the chair, and then she would proceed to entertain herself. She’d glance at whatever was on tv, she’d visit with whomever was in the room, and she’d have to pat and talk to the dogs as they begged for her attention. She’d snack here and there but wouldn’t eat much. If you found the living room empty, it was because she was in front of her laptop playing – and winning – at bridge. If you asked if she wanted to go to the store or for a drive, she’d happily oblige saying, “Just point me where I’m going.” After dinner (God bless the cook!) she’d watch tv, do her crosswords, reminisce a bit, tell me I worked too hard.

Once she had her bedtime snack of peanut butter and honey toast with milk, and after she told you how spoiled she was, we would say our goodnights, and I would hear the echo of my childhood in her quiet, “God bless you.”

She’d tell you how lovely your home is, your town, your partner, your dogs, and how happy she is for you.

My mother has a gracious and joyful spirit. She remembers mostly the good and happy times, and she loves to relive them. She repeats herself often, forgets what you’ve told her and needs to be reminded of your grandkids’ names. But she is all the things I hope to be when I’m her age: Happy, grateful, kind, loving, non-judgmental, sweet.

And welcome any time.  [portfolio-gallery include=2737]

Posted in Family & Friends, Florida Fun

Meg’s long-overdue short visit

We’re standing at JAX airport watching all the passengers filing by us, coming in from who knows where, some being greeted, some not, most on their phones. I scan each face as they turn the corner, not quite able to make out features from a distance but knowing I’d recognize her walk. Thom asks, “Is that her?” “No.” “Is that her?” “No.” “You know, it’s been over a year. Maybe she’s changed.” “No. I’ll know her when I see her.”

Then, around the corner, I see her coming towards me. Even now, when they’re all grown and away from me, the sight of any of my kids reminds me that some serious pieces of my heart are out there, walking around, most likely oblivious to that fact. But I see my only daughter after being apart for over a year, and suddenly my heart fills back up.

I move forward, talking to myself, “There she is. There’s my girl. There’s my girl”  I wrap her in my arms, breathe in the familiar scent of her, feel her skin against my lips — utter completeness that I didn’t know I was missing until just that second. And I have perma-grin!

And so we spend the next four days at the beach, with a couple side trips to the Daytona Flea Market, some meals out, movies in, and more beach. The days fly by just like I knew they would, but I make sure to fill them with whatever she wants. I hope she had a good time. I think she did.

More pics here and a video here!

Posted in Comp'ny, Family & Friends, Florida Fun


June 1 to June 5 2013 was really fun! Kevanna (Kevin and Savanna) finally came for a visit, and we all had a great time! Thom and I love to go to the beach, and we love to boogie-board. But that doesn’t mean everybody does. And sometimes we have to remember that just because we like it, we can’t just assume our guests will enjoy it as well. We get some pretty good-sized waves here, and the rip current can be pretty intimidating. We’ve been playing in the waves for a while now, so we tend to forget how scary they can be. Plus, if you’re little, like Savanna, well, the waves are even larger. But off we went, hoping against hope they’d love it as much as we do.


What a great time we all had! We ate in, we ate out, we visited an IMAX theater and explored St. Augustine, we sunbathed and enjoyed coffee on the lanai. But best of all we played in the ocean as much as we could. Kevin took right to it. Savanna struggled with a too-big board, but once we found her the right size, she went at it like a pro. We all got rolled around in the surf a bit, especially Savanna (ouch!), but she was a great sport and went fearlessly back at it.

It all went too fast, but they’ve promised to come back. And we’re holding them to it!

Here’s more photos of fun! [portfolio-gallery include=2261]

Posted in Family & Friends, Randomness


an·tic·i·pa·tion1 : the act of looking forward; especially : pleasurable expectation;                                                                       2 : visualization of a future event or state

I have to say, I have a love/hate relationship with anticipation. I love surprises, the spur-of-the-moment, the let’s-not-think-too-much-about-it-in-case-we-talk-ourselves-out-of-it kind of impetuousness that began in my teens and has not yet left me. I’m not saying I like living on the edge, but I’m all for jumping into the car and just driving, or getting short notice of a trip home and really enjoying the whole experience, the good, the bad–all of it. But I also love looking forward to things, thinking about them, trying to decide the hows, then whens, the wheres.

So here’s a rundown of the past few months regarding the theme of ‘anticipation’ and how it has applied to my life lately:

  • Anticipation #1:  Buying a house on a short sale. If you’ve ever heard about how difficult this can be, you’ve heard correctly. While not impossible, it is definitely stressful. This kind of anticipation I can do without. You actually do not know until you sign the papers whether you have a done deal or not. The ups and downs of that roller coaster ride will not quickly be forgotten.
  • Anticipation #2:  Going to Disney Flower and Garden Show and looking forward to that Soarin ride. Awesome!!! And trying to fit this in with packing, working, beaching, packing and working.
  • Anticipation #3:  A stupendous, impulsive acceptance of an offer to fly home for my son’s graduation party, a quick overnight totally worth the stress of missing the first leg of my flight (see previous post about Amy).
  • Anticipation #4: Finally moving into the new house (even though half our stuff is still at the old one); sleeping here, waking here, driving to and from work from here (1 mile!). But tomorrow should be the end of the dreaded anticipation of renting a truck and moving the rest here. To. Be. Finally. Done.

And then these little anticipations, like looking forward to having our wretched patio door replaced with lovely French doors that will open out onto the screened lanai (must wait 4 days!  Anticipation!). Like seeing the kitchen come together after Thom took all the doors and drawers down and repainted them. Like going to work with the broken old counter in the kitchen, only to come home to a beautiful NEW gray counter to go with our now white cupboards! I love leaving the house in the morning and coming home later and seeing new things on the walls, new paint on the lanai, a slightly different room arrangement. Those are FUN surprises!

  • Anticipation #5: Kevanna. They are flying down in 14 days. 14. This is when I love/hate anticipation. I love to look forward to having them here. I love that I know they’re going to love it here and have a great time. I love that they’ll love our new place, because that’s the kind of people they are. Frankly, I love having that ‘deadline’ to get things moving more quickly around here so it’s more than ready for our first visitors in our new home. What I hate about this sweet anticipation is that the hours are going by in a jumble of preparation, and I have to spend all my days at work where time seems to drag slower than a bored manatee. I could be doing soooo much more around here. So while the days are, on their own, going slowly till they arrive, I know without any doubt that we’ll be looking at 5 of the fastest days the earth has ever seen while they’re here with us.
  • Anticipation #6: Caitlin’s wedding. It’s at the end of June. I’m flying in the 27th, a Thursday. I’m still debating whether to spend the money on a car. I don’t want to pack much, but I’m thinking all about that, anticipating the unpredictability of Michigan weather, what clothes to bring, where I’ll be staying, who I’ll be seeing until I leave on the 4th.
  • Anticipation #7: The moving south of my knittin’ sista’ ‘Neet and Dean. Never in a billion, gazillion years did it ever even take a baby step across my mind that she would really want to move down here.  I can’t put into words how very happy — just really HAPPY — this makes me. And I look at hundreds of houses online and send link after link to her, sometimes even going to the house itself and taking pictures of it and talking/walking though it with her on the phone. Her cabin sale just HAS to go through. C’mon Dad, C’mon Murph, Amy, Ria…this little project shouldn’t be hard for any of you, so let’s make it happen!

Yes, anticipation can be fun if you’re the patient type. I’ve been told it’s not my thing  Instead of I’M PATIENT, I’m more without the apostrophe: IMPATIENT. I do think the life lesson I’m here to learn has to do with patience and my lack of it., and I will say that at least I do feel like I’m more patient than I was even two years ago.  Sure, I still stew and worry about how things are going to get done and when. But I’ve also learned to try and step away from the project so no one gets hurt, especially Thom. 

Leatherneck MummaSo yes, lots of anticipation going on around here. The vast majority of it is good, for a change.Summer is coming, family is coming,the beaches are calling our names. I’ve got the days off work to just enjoy being with the kids. I hope there’s a good Florida thunderstorm while we’re at the ocean. I hope we see dolphins and pelicans. And I wonder, were we to get up in the early hours of the morning, if we might just spot a female leatherback turtle, one who has spent the past 10 years of her life in anticipation of moving her nearly 6-foot girth up the very beach where she was born to the dunes to lay her hundred eggs and then turn and slowly make her way back to the water, never to see her offspring again.

Or will she…….?  Something to anticipate!

Posted in Family & Friends, Randomness

Amy Does it Again.

My youngest son, Kevin, had finally earned his Bachelor’s Degree the hard way, working during the day, classes at night. His bride, Savanna, wanted him to don the cap and gown and walk the walk, but he didn’t want to spend the money, the time, or any further effort. He was DONE! YIPPEE!!  Instead, she planned a surprise graduation party for him. I had heard about it kind of by accident through Facebook, since living a thousand miles away, I obviously I couldn’t attend. On my nightly chat with Sarah on my drive home from work she told me she and Nate would certainly be there. I said if I were independently wealthy, I’d hop on a plane over the weekend and just surprise him. “But,” I said, “at least I’ll see him in June, so that’s okay.”

Two days later, rather early in the morning, I got a phone call from Sarah. When it’s that early, I have to wonder if she’s okay. It’s been a tough year. She sounded funny, kind of muffled. “I know,”  she said,  I’m under my covers.”  Then she proceeded to preface what she had to say with, “I want you to be open-minded, spontaneous, think spur-of-the-moment.”  And then she surprised me with, “I want to fly you home for Kev’s party.” 


Three mornings and several excited phone calls to Savanna later, Thom, Sadie and I hopped in the car and headed to Daytona for my  8:30 flight connecting in Charlotte and Chicago and then finally to Traverse City. The plan was for Sarah to pick me up, drive to Boyne to change clothes, then head to Gaylord’s bowling alley before 6:00 p.m. where Savanna would bring an unsuspecting husband to his surprise graduation/bowling party. It seemed perfect, and I was looking forward to surprising not only my son, but some of my siblings, as well, who I knew would be there to celebrate with him.

20 minutes into the 30-minute drive to Daytona’s airport, I pulled out my boarding pass just to double-check the time. I literally gasped when I saw what was on it: “FLT 2291 DPT 7:02 AM DAB ARR 8:36 AM CLT.”


I can’t even begin to express my thoughts when I realized I had 10 minutes until my flight left and I wasn’t even at the airport. I picked up the phone mumbling frantically, “Who do I call?”  “You can’t call the airline!” “You can’t even call the damned AIRPORT!”  Thom – God love him – didn’t say too much, though I know without a doubt he was thinking, “How in the world did you get that wrong????”  We just continued on our way at a bit faster pace, all the while my head spinning with a million thoughts: What do I do? How will I get there? What can I possibly tell Sarah who just spent MANY hundreds of dollars to fly me home?  Will the flight be delayed? No! Of course not! It’s the first flight out!

I’ve missed a plane only once before in my entire life, and it’s a feeling you never forget. And now I was going to experience it again.

Thom pulled up to the front doors, and I grabbed my backpack and jumped out yelling, “Don’t leave!”  I ran up to the now very empty ticket counter and saw two young men coming out the doors, no doubt finishing up sending my flight on its way. I asked them if the 7:02 flight had left, and they assured me it had. I put my head down on the counter, then looked up and said, “I need your help.”  After a whole heck of a lot of typing, several bouts of tears, a half hour and a couple of phone calls later, Alex said to me, “Well, because you missed this flight, your seat from Chicago to Traverse City has been given away…


…but if you can get to Jacksonville, there’s a direct flight to Chicago at 10:40 with a pretty tight Traverse City connection that you could go standby on.”  With my head spinning, I said, “Put me on it.” 

The hour and a half drive to JAX was relatively quiet, but again, when Thom pulled up to the terminal, I suggested he not leave ‘just in case.’ The empty ticket counter yielded me an agent who, after listening to my tearful tale of idiocy, gave me back my seat to TC, but informed me that yes, I could most likely make the connection except that my flight to Chicago was now delayed 40 minutes, which would put me at O’Hare 10 minutes after my TC flight left.


Deciding NOT to tell Thom about that last bit, I called him and told him I was on my way, have a safe drive home, see you tomorrow, and went to my gate just hoping against all hope that we had good tailwinds and the flight to TC was delayed. What else could I do?

At the departure gate, I thought I’d see if there was any new information on the 40-minute delayed flight to Chicago, what gate this flight went into, what gate that flight left from, and if there were any miracles available. There was a lovely woman at the counter who, after listening to my story of my son’s graduation, my idiocy, and seeing my eyes filling up with desperation, finally said to me, “Listen, I’m definitely not supposed to do this, but I’m gonna ask that a cart be waiting for you when you get to Chicago, and they can get you to your next gate faster than if you ran, because they can go underground and around places you can’t go. I’ll do everything I can to get you on that flight, and we gonna pray it happens.”  I quietly thanked her, and then started praying to the one person who I knew was the airport connection I needed.  AMY!

amy pjsMy nickname for Amy is ‘Sparky.’ Living in Belleville and being 20 minutes from Metro Airport, she was always willing and able to get me to and from the airport any time of the day or night, sometimes through sleeting snow, sometimes out of bed and still in her red, one-piece star pajamas. She’d answer her phone, “Sparky’s airport transport. How can I assist you today?”  I called on her again, “Amy…Sparky…Please, PLEASE help me make my connection in TC. See what you can do up there. Please…”

And while Ms. Lovely at the counter was typing notes into my ticket, I happened to glance at the information on the board. Suddenly my flight was only 20 minutes late, which meant I now had a 10-minute window in Chicago to make my connection! 


I had the lady look at the board. I asked her if that didn’t just change from 40 minutes delayed to 20 minutes delayed. She looked at me and said quietly, “Yes.”  I asked her if that happens very often, and she said, “No; hardly ever.”  We looked at each other and smiled.

Thanks, Sparky.

PS: Yes, I made the connection.