Saturday, January 29, 2011


Friday has forever been the one day of the week that I look forward to most. For a very obvious reason...the end of the work week, but also for some not so obvious ones.

When I was growing up, Friday night meant going out for dinner. My dad would come home from work, and we would all go to dinner at Mickel's in Harlan. Friday night was All-You-Can-Eat Fried Chicken and Snapper, so my parents always ordered that. I think us kids usually ordered burgers or a drumstick, but we all got to enjoy the legendary Mickel's greasy dinner roll. Those rolls were just that - a dinner roll dumped in the deep fryer!! (Lord help our hearts!!). Those nights at Mickel's are so vivid in my memory...I remember Rusty the enormous Shrek-sized cook looking over those swinging doors from the kitchen. On occasion, he would drop off mints for us girls. I remember my Mom and Dad giggling about Mrs. Hemminger stashing chicken into her purse! I remember writing on the paper place mats at our table. Sometimes we did the mind teasers on the front other times we would flip it over and write the names of all of our aunts and uncles. When dinner was over,my parents would pay their less than $20 ticket, and we would head out. Our drive home would typically consist of one cruise of the circuit and then back to our neighborhood. As soon as we hit the main street to head home, squeals of "Erie, Erie!!" would resonate our vehicle...that meant take was the long way home (Erie Drive), around a circle and back to our place on Cheyenne Avenue. (I think we needed to know what was happening in the 'hood while we were gone!)

Friday night also stirs a few other memories from my childhood...popcorn and pop and night time soap operas! My dad loved popcorn. He would make a huge bowl that all of us would skim off of, and he'd finish every last popped and unpopped kernel in that bowl. In the summertime, we'd occasionally take our night time snack outside to the driveway, but when it was prime time TV season, we would watch Dallas and Falcon Crest! I am not quite sure why they thought it was okay for us to watch that late night "smut", but we did! I loved Bobby and Pam way more than JR and Sue Ellen...I thought Charlene Tilton (aka Lucy) was so pretty with her long blonde hair...and Jock and Miss Ellie...what great people!  Falcon Crest followed Dallas.. all I can say is Cole Gioberti...I can't begin to tell you what he did to a young girl's heart!!! (STOP laughing, Angie! I know you know what I'm sayin'!). When the shows were over, we were usually in bed by 10:00, so mom could watch the news.  The nights as I remember them were great...especially because we were together!

Jay and I have tried to make Friday nights special for our kids, too. Jay works until close to 8:00 on Fridays due to end of week collections at the car lot, but we don't let that stop us from eating together...typically Oscar's wings and fries or a large Mama's pepperoni pizza. Movies or Wii are usually next on the agenda and structured bedtime...well, that's usually out the window. In fact, sometimes mom and dad are asleep on the couch before our little guys even think about sleep! It's funny how only 8-10 years ago happy hour and bar night with friends sounded like a great Friday night...I wouldn't trade my new Friday night plans and the boys that I'm hangin' with for the world!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Power of a Song

Somewhere along the way in my 38 years of life, music became a big part of who I am.  I don't know if it was dancing in the living room to old Elvis albums, dance parties in my neighbor Nicole's basement or playing in the band in jr. high and high school.  For whatever reason, music is one of the fibers that makes me who I am...

You all think I am crazy obsessed with Kenny Chesney, and you are probably right! I have seen him in concert 6 times in the past 6 years...and he didn't even tour in Omaha 2 of those years!  I LOVE HIS MUSIC because so many of the songs he sings tell a story that parallels real life. You can put yourself in his songs, and they have real meaning. Every time he sings There Goes My Life, I think of my husband Jay and my step-daughter Brooke and how closely the words mirror the road that they have travelled since the first day Jay found out he was going to be a father for the first time - unwed and 19 years old. Kenny recently had a #1 hit called The Boys of Fall. If you grew up in Harlan, Iowa, passionate about high school football, like I did, you have to picture our small town when he utters the lyrics. The list of Kenny Songs goes on and on, but for me, one song sums up the power of a song...I Go Back.  This song talks about hearing a song today and the place it takes you back in time. There are so many songs that trigger those days when I hear them...

I'll Be There for You (Bon Jovi)...first love, first song.  (Okay, I don't think it was really love...but it felt like it then!)

Everything I Do I Do it for You (Bryan Adams)...Do you remember this song?...Bryan Adams?  Theme from Robin Hood?  Takes me back to the old Harlan swimming pool where I worked many summers.  I was part of the staff that worked at the old pool during the last season that it was open.  This song was a hit at that time, and all of the lifeguards I worked with made it "our" song...(not sure why we needed a song...??!?!)  If it came on the radio, we would sing it over the intercom.  I'm sure the pool patrons and the neighborhood were happy about that!

Fishing in the Dark (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)...The good ol' days at CU.  There were too many Saturday night parties to count where my roommates and I would end up in a circle singing with a bunch of Sig Ep hotties!!

Can't Help Falling in Love with You (Elvis)...Dancing with my Dad at my first wedding.  He loved Elvis, and I couldn't have thought of a better song to have danced with him.  I still remember how handsome I thought he looked in a tuxedo...I don't think I had ever seen him in one before that.

Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler)...Bette sings this song well, but there was never a better performance in my mind than when three ladies from our church, some of whom were actually family friends, sang this song at my Dad's funeral.  He loved their voices when they sang at mass, and their rendition of this song was a perfect tribute to him.

Me and My Gang (Rascall Flatts)...Of my two kiddos, Jack is definitely the performer.  Owen...not so much.  Before Owen was born, Jay and I could put in a Rascall Flatts CD, and Jack would dance/gallop for hours.  I have some great video of this that I'll definitely be sharing when he graduates from high school!

How Do I Live (Leanne Rhimes)...I'm taken back to the recording studio where my sister-in-law Holly and I took my step-daughter Brooke to record a cover of this song, so that I could surprise Jay with our first dance at our wedding.

Anything Bon Jovi...Bon Jovi was the first rock concert that I ever got to go to.  I was a junior in high school, and hair bands were it!  I got the best concert t-shirt ever - with a huge picture of Jon Bon Jovi on the front!  (I so wish I had that now for an 80s party!!)  My love for this band continues as I have been to two of their concerts in my 30s too!  Jay and I, along with several other couples we hang out with, have created some gut-busting memories with Bon Jovi playing in the background!

This blog could be longer than it is already becoming because as I'm typing I've thought of a half a dozen more songs that take me back.  I'm sure if you love music, you can relate.

Most recently, I've been touched by a song.  It's was only released in the past couple of weeks.  It's by the country group, Rascall Flatts.  This song has words that are as powerful as any I have ever heard, and especially appropriate if you know anyone who is travelling a road in their life that is difficult.  I turned my family on to this song because it seemed to fit how I was feeling about my sister Kristen's trials and tribulations with Baby Charlotte.  In turn, when she heard it, she immediately related it to her own little family.  Well, Thursday of this past week, this song was exactly what I needed when I was at a loss for words for a friend in need.  You see, I have a girl friend at work.  We have only been friends for less than 2 years, but I consider her one of my dearest.  In late 2009 about 6 months after she and I became friends, she was re-diagnosed with lung cancer after a nearly 7 year remission.  She has fought and continues to fight her fight more graciously than I could imagine.  During 2010, she endured treatment after treatment, some successes, some failures. The lung cancer spread to her liver.  Thankfully, her liver was successfully treated.  But on this day, she shares with me that this dreadful disease has now spread to her brain.  In all of this, I made a promise to her that I would always treat her special treatment, no feeling sorry for her....but on this day, I'm sad.  She's sad.  I have no words for her.  Only a song.

I confessed to her that I had no words, that I didn't know what to say, but the word that I wanted to say were part of a song.  She see she hates country music, and she knows I LOVE IT!  In fact, when we were first getting to know one another, she jokingly told me she questioned whether we could be friends given my love for that "crap"!  She listened and now she knows what I wanted to say because the song could convey the words I just couldn't get out.

That's music...That's a song...That's powerful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not off to a very good start...

Well, it's nearly a week since my last post. Please don't take that to mean that my blogging resolution is on it's way out the window. Blogspot and I did not get off on the right foot! I sat down last Wednesday to post my Wordless Wednesday photo and the whole thing decided to lock up on me. After nearly an hour of fighting a technology battle (which by the way is often how I spend my working hours...), I gave up...and obviously, didn't find the patience to return until today. I have a renewed spirit and am looking forward to posting some good reading and thought provoking items going forward!

First off a little explanation on Wordless Wednesday, which my last post left you waiting for! I will post a picture on Wednesday. This picture may or may not have been taken that day, but it will be posted with no commentary from me. My hope is that the picture in and of itself will stir some sort of emotion...a smile, laughter until your stomach hurts, a memory of days gone by, or awe of simple beauty. I welcome your comments on these photos and can hardly wait to post my first one this week, since I missed last week!

Some of you know that I spent the better part of last year enrolled in Boot Camp after Boot Camp. These classes were a true test of my endurance, and I feel very proud of myself for completing 9 full months of this kind of routine, BUT my body just plain CRAPPED OUT, and said I'm not doing this any more. The getting up at 4:30 am three days a week for a 5:00 am class was just too much. The last class I attended was on Friday, October 1st. I missed going, but I resolved myself to the fact that a little less intensity would be a good change of pace. I tried to make it the gym regularly for awhile to hit the stair master and do a little weight training, but all in all I have been pretty INACTIVE for the past three months (except for taking the stairs at work...all of three flights!). Well, yesterday marked my return to the world of physical fitness. I walked through the doors of Lifetime Fitness with a renewed energy. I walked on the treadmill at a moderate pace for about 45 minutes and finished up with about 50 sit-ups. It's kind of sad, but I felt it today! Crazy how fast your body can revert to OUT OF SHAPE with a three month break! I have set some new goals for myself, and finally, after 10 years, none of them revolve around losing 10 pounds. You see, I have been chasing that same 10 pounds for a very long time, and I have decided that 2011 is the year that I am comfortable with carrying it forever it I have to. Let's be honest. If I lose it, I will ultimately find it again. This has been the vicious cycle for way too long. So my workouts now are going to have new purpose. I want to maintain my weight from this year forward and will continue to exercise now for the HEALTH of it. Walking, stair stepping, doing the elliptical are all good for my heart, my mental state and will aid in the prevention of a number of diseases as I continue to get older...which is way more important than dropping a jean size! 

I hope this post finds you motivated to do something for your well-being today!  (I wrote this entire post while huffing and puffing on my elliptical!  It certainly made the time go by faster!)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"I want to BLOG...but I'm not sure what I will blog about!!"

I'm already 3 days behind...I'm going to have to play catch up in the days, weeks and months ahead if I'm ever going to share 365 days of 2011 with you!  (LOL...that's for you Matt...I know how much you loved that in 365 Days of Kathryn!!!)

Blogging...something completely unheard of 5 years ago, but now a craze that has swept the internet.  You can find blogs on just about any topic with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks.  It is the information age, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that one person's information is valuable to another.

My first experience with following a blog came in late 2009.  My youngest sister, Kristen had gotten married in February and in the fall, she and her husband Matt found out that they were expecting their first baby.  Since Matt and Kristen lived in Sioux Falls away from family and friends, Kristen decided a regular blog post would keep everyone informed of the progress in her pregnancy.  Kristen is the BEST writer!  I envy how her words can make you feel like you are living a "day in the life".  It was so fun to keep tabs on the Ritchies through the blog...we got to watch a growing belly, see a nursery come to life, and finally, share in something that would change my life.

In January 2010, we found out that Baby Ritchie was a girl!  But unfortunately, the excitement of learning I was going to have another niece was clouded with a diagnosis of a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).  Baby Ritchie, now better known as my niece Charlotte (aka Charley, Chuck or Cha Cha!), has Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome.  Shortly after her birth in May, Charley would have two open heart surgeries, and as recent as yesterday, she had her third.  She's just shy of eight months old.  My sister's blog updates Charlotte's progress and shares life lessons that warm my heart when I read them.

For those of you that know me and my family, you know that there are four of us girls.  I am the oldest, a CPA turned IT geek, Lindsey, a teacher turned stay-at-home mom, and Angie and Kristen, the brainiac Pharmacy Doctorates.  I call them all the time with questions about dosing meds for my kids or myself, what meds can be combined, etc.  It's so handy having two doctors in the family!!  I, on the other hand have never had a love, or for that matter an understanding of science/biology.  Unless I can read it on WebMD, I generally glaze over!

Charlotte's disease has changed this part of me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to pursue a medical career, but I am now AWARE.  I'm starting to understand the anatomy of the heart.  I know this sounds ridiculous, but I have a healthy heart like most of you and just take for granted that it works.  I'm also very aware of CHD.  Prior to Charlotte's diagnosis and following Kristen's blog, CHD was not a part of my life.  I have two very healthy boys of my own and not once during my pregnancy or after their births did I think about a heart defect, but CHDs are a reality.  They affect 1 in 100 babies (I didn't know that until Charlotte either...).  Babies that families anxiously await and prepare for just like I did mine.  Babies who endure more that most adults do in a life time.  Babies who sometimes come to this earth for just a short time and then are called back to God.  

I laughed in the hospital waiting room with my family yesterday.  I wanted to blog in the New Year, but quite frankly, I didn't really think I had anything important enough to share.  Let's be honest, I won't have something like CHD to share in every post, but who knows, maybe something that I share will touch you in the ways that I have been touched because of the craze of blogging.

If you have time, check this out and any of the blogs that are linked to this one.  You won't regret learning what I have.


Up next...Wordless Wednesday (Inspired by my sister Kristen).  Stay tuned!