The Sunshine and Dad

I have spent the last week and a half with my beloved dad. It’s the time of year when mom and dad become snow birds and migrate to sunny Florida. This year it is just dad though since we lost mom last November. Today would have been her birthday. She would have been a very young 87. 

Traveling with just dad has been a wonderful experience and a treasured one at that. sitting amiably in the car chatting or sitting quietly, he is a man of few words, we just get along well. We took our time and enjoyed our trip driving south through several states enjoying the changing scenery that makes up our beautiful land. We even stopped and shared a pecan waffle at the Wafflehouse in honor of mom, because no trip would be complete without a pecan waffle and a cup of tea in her humble opinion. 

Since arriving in the beautiful southwest part of the sunshine state, I’ve shopped and dad has taken care of things he needed to. I’ve helped him with all his technical issues and we have gotten him settled. We have eaten so well that when I get home, I probably shouldn’t eat for a month!  Life here is on a different pace. It’s as if everyone is on a permanent vacation where he lives. I suppose they are. It’s a slower, more relaxed pace where people have time for one another.

I’ve gone to the beach, of course, but I prefer the pool. Going to the pool each afternoon I find the same group of characters. I call it social hour. Everyone catches up with the latest goings-on in the community. It’s truly an amazing place to be and they have made me feel so welcome. Just today, I had a glass of wine by the pool with these fabulous people. Such fun. And boy was it good!

The shopping is always good here but I was hoping to find a few more things at my usual stores which I didn’t. Had I gone to my other usual stores I may have but I don’t want to spend all my money. I look for bargains only. That I found. There are loads of high end stores but I don’t want to spend everything when I don’t have to. 

There is nothing better than the sound of the waves hitting the shore, in my opinion. Stress melts away instantly while just sitting there listening to the lapping waves and the sounds of the sea birds. I went only one day this time to the beach, but my stress from the long drive instantly disappeared as I sat there enjoying the sights and sounds for an hour. It was a cloudy day so I had the beach pretty much to myself. What a joy and spectacle to behold. 

Soon it will be back to the Midwest for me. Not that it’s a bad thing to go home but I miss this place when I leave it. This is my favorite place on earth. The sun shines so brightly here and the temperature is always warm and delightful. Knowing that I’m going home is like a double edged sword. I miss my husband and kids, I miss my own bed, but I don’t miss the weather. I especially don’t look forward to the winter. But life is what it is and maybe someday I’ll get a chance to love a life down here. It is my dream. Someday. 

Insomnia Strikes Again

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Well, here it is 4AM and I have yet to sleep, again!  So, to pass the time, I decided to write.  This usually helps calm my mind and lets me finally get some sleep.  I tried writing a couple poems on my other blog, but that hasn’t helped me shut my eyes and turn my brain off yet, so here I am, sitting up in my lovely bed with my lap top open and typing once again.

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I’ve decided to make a list of 25 things that bring me great joy. I think with all the negativity in this world, especially with the media always giving us more depressing news, it’s important to bring in joy and kindness into our lives.  So, just to jump start everyone off, here is my list of joy! Hope you get inspired to think about what brings you joy, be in big or small.  Sometimes the smallest things are the best!

  1. Morning cup of coffee brought to me in bed.  This is best when brought to me by Hubs or the Boy.  Yes, at nearly nine, he makes a mean cuppa java.
  2. Noosa honey or pumpkin yogurt.  It’s the best yogurt in the world.  I have to have it at least once a day.  It’s really that good. And the variety will knock your socks off!
  3.  Writing on my blogs.  Well duh!  If I didn’t love blogging, I wouldn’t do it.  Sometimes I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write until I sit and start to actually write, but it is sheer joy to me.
  4.  Likes and comments on my blogs.  This just makes me giddy.  And you should see what new followers does to me!  Ask Hubs!
  5.  Waffle Cone ice cream.  It’s just that good!
  6.  Hubs.  He is the best and puts up with me on a daily basis.  I really don’t have a clue how he does it, but I am so thankful that he does.  I’m a lot to handle most days!
  7.  My kids. Each and every day with them is a blessing.  Even when they drive me crazy, they are still unique and watching them grow up is a privilege.
  8.  Knee length black knit skirts.  They just go with everything and you can wear them all year round!
  9.  Chunky soft sweaters.  What better to wrap yourself in when it’s cold outside.
  10. Backrubs. Hubs is great at massaging those knots out of my neck and shoulders especially.  And I get them all the time.
  11.  Trips to Naples, Florida.  Can we say beach?  My favorite place on earth.  I really want to live there.  I even enjoyed their ER last visit.  I liked it way more than the one at home.
  12.  Trips to Ireland.  Family time!!!  Love spending time with my family there.  If there is a wedding then I get to see everyone.  Too bad that doesn’t happen all the time.  We all got married!
  13.  Seeing all my cousins.  We need to plan a reunion.  I miss everyone so much.  Time to talk to my big brother about that one.
  14.  Weekends in St. Louis.  More family and tons of fun things to do.
  15.  Hockey.  Especially my St. Louis Blues, baby!
  16.  Baseball.  Go St. Louis Cardinals! Love going to those games!
  17.  Seafood.  All the seafood, but especially lobster and crab.  I’m not that picky.  It just has to be fresh and tasty and have butter involved!
  18.  Family dinners.  I love when my dad and brother eat with the 6 of us.  It just feels more complete, even though mom is no longer with us.
  19.  My sister-friends.  These are the friends I choose to call sisters because I’m lacking in the sister department and I believe God just decided to give them to me a little later in life.
  20.  Fur babies.  We have currently got a houseful and I wouldn’t know what to do without all of them. Work they may be, but the love you get in return is immeasurable.
  21.  Baby squirrels and bunnies to rescue.  Although they might not always make it, I believe God places them in our hands to give them another chance at a little love and care, just in case.  If anyone can save them, we can.  We currently have Dexter who we have to give calcium supplements to in order to save his life and help his bones to heal.  Yes, he is an approximately 10 week old squirrel.
  22. My faith.  Without it, I’d never be able to get through all that I have been through, especially the last 6 months.  They’ve been the roughest, toughest months of my life. God is always by my side carrying me through the toughest times.
  23.  My dad and my brother.  My dad is the smartest and most generous man I know.  My brother is just like him.  It’s just the 3 of us now and the madness of my house.
  24. Sunshine.  Nothing feels better than sunshine on my skin.  Don’t worry, I wear sunscreen, but I love the warm kiss on my face and arms.
  25.  My garden.  My place of joy.  I’ve worked hard to make it beautiful and do something new to it each year.  This year I will plant some new roses.  One special one for my mom and one for my neighbor who passed away around the same time.  One I will plant just for me.

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So there is a list of some of my joys in life.  I could go on, but that would be too wordy and I might actually be a little sleepy.  Sleep well and pleasant dreams for those of you heading to bed.  Good morning for those of you waking up! Whatever time of day it is in your part of the world, have a great day.

Let’s be Clear

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As we headed out to the ocean in the shuttle boat, I was struck by the clear sky, the clean lines of the boats around me, the birds diving into the water for their lunch. Life out here was clearly defined. I was also aware that my own life lacked such clarity in it’s definition, or did it?

When you are on holiday and have the opportunity to let the wind sweep through your hair while the ocean breeze and sun pelt your senses, you have time to take note of things in your life that you normally don’t think about. Okay, well, that’s what I do while also trying to find the dolphins swimming along the boat. I did find the dolphins, by the way.

My life always seems to leave me wanting something else and I always feel less than this or that. I’ve tried to believe I’m just as good and just as worthy, but something always niggles at me and my inner diva deflates yet again.

When I’m on holiday, however, I get to pretend to be the person I try so hard to really be in everyday life. I even tell myself that when I get home I will be this person. Granted, this holiday was a bit bizarre with my trip to the ER and all, but I still long to be her!

I know exactly who she is. She’s really lovely and you’d love her. She’s a lot like me only she is more confident. She’s definitely cute and not as heavy as me. She knows what she wants and gets it once she puts her mind to it. Her kids listen to her and there is so much love in her house. No one ever yells.

Okay, okay. I realise this is my dream but the problem with me is clarity. It’s a clarity of vision sometimes. Other times it’s a clarity of instructions. I do know what I want, but sometimes I get in my own way. I think we all do that from time to time. We muck up our road, so to speak. Of we can keep our clarity of mind, our clarity of heart and our clarity of self and the goodness we all possess inside, that holiday person of our dreams can be a reality.

We have to be clear in our thinking and not muck it up with thoughts of “an I good enough” or “am I enough”. We pay too much attention to what the media tells us and really it’s pure and utter crap. Is your family happy? Well then, you are the person you are meant to be. Just be you and you’re enough.

What not to trust your kids with

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I truly love being on holiday. When I’m not up to speed, it’s nice to know that I can trust the older kids with the care of the young one. There are a few things, however that one should certainly not trust them with.

Cooking is fine for my daughter, Clare. She’s a wiz in the kitchen. Her boyfriend, Michael, however, should not be trusted with peanut butter and mini chocolate  chips! The chocolate chips will scatter on the floor inevitably no matter how many times you tell him to be careful. I think this is part of his male teenage nature. My 8 year old is just as bad but isn’t as obsessed with the chocolate chips.

The Jacuzzi tub and bubble bath isn’t to be trusted with any of them! What the hell are they thinking? Well, the truth is, they think it’s great fun to make a complete and utter mess in there and think nothing of leaving the bubbly remnants behind as well as the wet rugs and wet tile floor. Did I mention this is in my bathroom? Oh yes, a seemingly regular occurrence after swimming or tennis. Tonight, they managed to outdo themselves and left the Jacuzzi on while they each got into the shower in their swimsuits to rinse off. Then, I walked in. Let’s just say, bubbles were so high you would expect to see them on a sitcom, not in your bathtub!

I’ve nipped that one in the bud though. They got to work and cleaned like fiends. I now have a spotlessly clean bathroom with a freshly mopped floor to boot! I know, kids will be kids! Seriously though, don’t leave any bubbles near your Jacuzzi tub or you may live to regret it. I only regret not taking a photo to share with you! It was a truly magnificent sight to behold, but don’t tell them I said that.

Towels. Towels. Towels. Did you know that children think that while on holiday the towel fairy, otherwise known as mom, will magically wash towels each day? Clothes are left in their bathroom as are dreadfully wet towels. God forbid they hang up towels or throw a load of wash in. The washer is right next to their bathroom, too! Great to always be a maid! Never trust these heathens with your towels. God only knows how many they will use once they figure out the location of clean ones.

I know this is a post of complaining, but really, for any mother who has any teenagers at home, or any mother of former teenagers, you completely understand and can laugh at the humour here. They will always make messes and eat you out of house and home. The boys begin early, like my nearly 9 year old son. He’s busy eating his weight everyday and obsessing over an 18 year old girl! Yes, he tells me how “hot” she is and today told me that she has a cute belly button. Lord save me!

I wouldn’t change these kids for anything. Just don’t give them bubble bath or mini chocolate chips and your world might be a slightly saner place. Keep only 6 towels in your linen closet so your laundry isn’t ridiculously immense and voila! Life is beautiful again! If you don’t love them, who will!

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Relaxing at the Beach

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Ah a day at the beach. Nothing better to lift your spirits than this activity. Even though I haven’t felt my best, it felt so good to spend a few hours at the beach with the kids yesterday. Not only did it satisfy their need to expend some energy, but it got me out into the fresh ocean air, cool breeze and sandy beach that I love. It soothed my soul.

I’m so grateful for my time here, even if a major part of it is spent inside this trip. I simply don’t mind. This is time spent healing for me in a different way. I’m surrounded by my mom’s things as well as dad’s, but everywhere I look, I’m reminded of just how much my mom loves this home.

Dad will be back here, I’m sure of it. I plan on bringing him back in the fall, God willing. His friends have been asking when he will be back. He loves it here and has many friends and activities here, a different life!
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But mom was happy and had friends where here she was. Everywhere I turn, I see her. The plaque she received when she got her hole in one, her photos, her clothes. I still miss her but it isn’t as raw now. Most of the time I can handle it better than I did before. I don’t cry every day. I don’t cry most days.

Going to the beach reminded me of the time when I was here when my girls were younger. We packed a picnic and went to the beach with mom and dad. It was the first time the girls had seen the beach and the ocean.
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Dad loves to take pictures. He took one that day that I still have of my mom when I posing with jazz hands while sitting at the picnic table. It was a beautiful, sunny day. A dolphin swam behind my oldest daughter that day. I tried to capture that moment on film but wasn’t fast enough. What a beautiful memory though!

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Each time we go to the beach we make new memories to add to our memory bank. These are all things to be grateful for because these are special, but sometimes we have to remember to add those little, everyday memories to the memory bank, too. Those are just as special and things we should be grateful for. Tonight, for instance, I’m very grateful for my 18 year old daughter. She made dinner again and it was delicious. She’s been taking over the mom role while I’ve not felt well and doing a super job!
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So, as you look back on your day, what are you grateful for? If we focus on the positives of life and less on the negatives, we will be much happier people, overall. Forgiveness is the key and the hardest thing to do, but for now, just focus on what you’re grateful for.