A Brand New Driver

September 21, 2018 at 2:50 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I am sitting here at my computer wishing I had renewed my driver’s license sooner. I was involved in an altercation last week and twisted my ankle. It will fun standing outside in the chilly morning tomorrow waiting to get in to renew my precious photo taken last time. Our small town has grown in population the past few years. You are not in and out like times were. It takes three times as long-standing in lines waiting your turn.

As I sit here typing, a fond memory is taking hold. I remember when I and a good girlfriend were juniors in high school. My friend had to get her driver’s license. No one would consider taking her,not her mom, her mom’s boyfriend, her sister or her friends who already were driving. I thought this was terrible. After all, we all had to face the dreaded driving instructor why deprive my dear friend of her turn. After all she was so excited , just needed a ride.

The big day had arrived. I was busy feeding the animals, getting dressed, called my friend to see how much longer for her  to be ready. Her mom said in the background” she has been up since five tried on every outfit she owns and has done her hair three times for the picture. She is ready to go”. So on my way I went to pick her up. It was fun for me because she didn’t know I was letting her use my car to take her driving test in. She just thought she was taking the written test and then her driving part later.

Since it was her birthday, we went to Bob’s Big Boy to celebrate. We had the hamburger combination with a strawberry milkshake. We were full, happy, laughing and ready to head over to Thousand Oaks. I sat in the lobby waiting for her to finish her written test. She came over to me and let me know she passed.”Of course you did silly” I told her. We were starting to walk out the front door when I asked her”don’t you have another part of the test to complete today?” She almost cried when realized I was letting her drive my car to take her test in. She passed that day and what a wonderful memory of a friend I miss still today. She has passed away several years ago, but I remember her giggle, her “Hi” on the phone, and her zest for life itself.

I am thankful for all the memories I have from loved ones, friends, my son and my life as an empty nester. I never thought my golden years I would be writing stories about my husband and son. I am thankful for all the good time I have shared with my family and  all the hardships I have had to endure. No matter what life throws at you, it is still a great life and wonderful t be alive.

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Life Beyond Parenting

September 14, 2018 at 12:10 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

If someone were to tell me eleven years ago my life would be forever changed, I wouldn’t have believed them. My son was a vibrant twenty year old with a good job, friends, a solid church family. I guess we, as parents don’t think past our kids maybe one day moving out on their own, getting married, going off to college. Some of these life stages can be tough.

Your child has enlisted in the Military, you are frightened for their safe return home, your tween daughter decided to get married(elopes). You son announces he would like to live with you forever….. Life beyond parenting is an interesting term for me. I said goodbye to my world one day when he was involved in a tragic car accident. Life could not prepare me for the depth of grief I felt the day his life support machine was turned off. Many parents suffer the child they love and raised decides she doesn’t like living at home with the rules anymore and becomes a runaway, parents dealing with addicted children or the parents who visit the child in jail.

We think these hard days are never going to end. For some, the pain never will end, for many others, the pain eases as time goes on and they learn how to rebuild their lives again. Every family story is a success story, no matter the outcome, the parent was there for the child, watched the kids games, took them to practice, supported their concerns. It is true, kids did not come with an instruction manual, with Levi, I would have thrown the manual out anyway. I wanted the joy that comes with the challenges, I raised Levi from childhood through his teens no easy feat. I am proud of the fine young man he had become.

A few years ago there was a popular book out called” Motherhood ain’t For Wimps”. It is true, parenting is tough business. I would have loved to have more than one son, but as I have been told over the years”Levi gave you a run for your money, but you gave it back.”A strong faith really is essential for your(the parent) sanity. Over night, I became mom, dad and sole provider of my family of two now. Looking back now, I would not trade one single hardship or difficulty I have been through. Levi was the best gift God could have ever given to me and I am thankful I had the opportunity to be a wife and mother even if for a little while. 

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Date Night

September 6, 2018 at 6:29 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

After a long, and very smokey Summer, my friend and I were able to get together last night and have a nice dinner. We both were busy with our work schedules, I cannot imagine how much work my friend spends on her beautiful yard each week plus her war wounds. I was busy working, and caring for my aging mother. We would talk once a week, but we could never get together.

Last week, we finally made plans to go to dinner. We call ourselves the “Cheap eats Queens”. Nice restaurants in the area offer four course meals at a nice price. And who does not like the view of the lake? One of our favorite spots is the golf course, we can enjoy watching a great game and good food. After dinner, my friend made a return to Home depot. We decided a walk around the store was in order as we ate too much. We made our way to the back of the store to the Halloween displays. There two grown woman played with the displays for an hour. We laughed like little girls at the fortune-teller ghost. We asked questions and some of the answers were priceless.

I think the term date night has taken on a new meaning the last several years. Now, couples make plans to meet for dinner and drinks after work, girlfriends have a girl night out, friends meet up and spend the weekend in the country. It is all about staying connect to one another and not let work or life get in the way. I enjoy my long walks along the river, but lately we have had an unexpected visitor prowling  around. A cougar has been spotted in several locations where hikers and joggers like to enjoy the river. I have opted for staying home and remembering my old dance exercises. I know the local gym has incorporated them into a daily routine. Thank you to my dance instructor. I can remember almost all of them because she made the Monday workouts fun.

 We had so many fires around our area that the smoke was thick and hotter than normal. I am truly thankful my home was not on an evacuation list. I cannot imagine having a few minutes to gather what you can carry in the car and just leave not knowing if your home was burned. My heart and prayers continue to go out to the many who have lost everything and have to rebuild their lives again. So many have lived through events I cannot ever begin to imagine. There is an old saying”life can change in a moment” it is true it can change in a moments time. I have learned to say my I love you to those who matter to me,to hug those special ones extra tight today and tell them I am glad they are part of my life and I am truly thankful for them just being in my life. Make time for your loved ones because time truly does just slip away.

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The Best Day Ever

August 31, 2018 at 1:07 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Survivor, Uncategorized) (, , , )

As kids are heading back to school, I thought I would blog my favorite story about my son Levi. My son moved out of my home at the tender age of nineteen to help his grandma after his beloved grandpa died. One afternoon, I stopped over to visit my son as he did not seem to remember where he once had lived. A mother dreams of when her child moves out, he might want some of her home cooking. I was thinking of another child obviously because I would watch him drive past my house after visiting with my neighbors. So much for wishful thinking.

One afternoon, I was visiting with my mom when Levi came home grinning from ear to ear. I asked him ” what made you so happy today?” He began telling my mom and I about his fantastic day he had. ” I went to my church and began helping the guys clear out the sanctuary so we all could stuff 3,000 backpacks for children who were in need.” He told us”mom, we let loose 3,000 kids to pick their packs. Most of the kids were boys and were animals, It was fun watching them from the back of the sanctuary. could see the kids who didn’t have anything;They went up and down the isles to find the school supplies. These little girls went over  I was surprised at how far some of tiny girls could walk to  pick a backpack. He told me he started praying for these little ones because he could remember what I had gone through as a single parent struggling to buy his schools supplies not to long ago.”

My son told me’ he loved me and he could now appreciate the struggles I had gone through to care for him after his dad died suddenly. He told me  we may not have had much money, but we had a lot of love, safe and happy home, good food, and most of all a mother who encouraged, me, never gave up on me, always believed in me, and who was always there for me”. After my son had passed away, I started buying backpacks for less fortunate kids and buying school supplies in Levi’s honor. 

 

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The Changing Season

August 23, 2018 at 3:49 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

The last couple of years, I have decided to try to enjoy all four seasons. I never really enjoyed summer because of the heat, my allergies, lawn maintenance disasters, crowded parks and no parking. I especially have a really hard time eating with the searing temperatures. We are fortunate with the fact we do get some relief from the hotter days with a couple of cooler ones and sometimes even a day of rain.

We have been dealing with the smokey conditions in my area. With so many fires burning around us, the smoke get pretty thick at times. I’m thankful I do not live in an evacuation zone to where my home could be in danger. The bears, wolves and foxes are starting to invade the rural area now because of the fires. My friend saw one the other roaming around the yard. So much wildlife is effected and have nowhere to escape. One of my favorite places to weekend is effected every fire season. I just stay around my home town and enjoy the summer festivities here. I head to the farmers market to sample wine and home-made cheeses and hear some good music. I usually meet with friends for dinner at an outdoor cafe.

With our ever busy lives, sometimes we have to just unplug, unwind, and take time for ourselves. One day a week, I take the day off from all my obligations and have a me day. I may just go to the falls Park and go for a hike, or I may have lunch with a dear friend. It is easy to get overwhelmed with priorities if we do not save time for ourselves. Some may say it is easier for me because I am single, not so. I have to make time in my week to just have a Julie day or it will never happen. I am not one to get my nails done, buy specialty coffees to often, my roots are done by me every three months, I have someone care for my lawn, there is just something about spending the day doing nothing.

The summer has flown by this year. It will soon be time to put away shorts, sandals, pool floats,and make way for the layers, leggings, boots and sweaters. The air will be cooler, clear, and the leaves starting to change color. Football games, chili cook-offs, and good friends to share it all with. I am learning to accept the seasons I do not prefer and embrace the surrounding beauty of the North West. I can say I am enjoying the cooler evenings listening to the cricket’s chirp and the kids playing outside. 

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treasured Finds

August 16, 2018 at 1:28 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Yesterday, I went under my house to clean out some more treasures that have stored under there for the past thirty plus years. I found my son Levi’s paint ball gear; I sat on the dirt floor and laughed at the memories of his friends coming over in full gear getting ready for an all out battle. I am thinking I am going to donate the gear to Levi’s best friend Mike who now has preteens of his own. Most of the stuff stored down here belonged to you guessed it, Levi. I had fun looking at some of his prized possessions and remembering when he had bought the items.

I know how easy it would be to just leave his belongings under the house and not deal with the emotional ties, but I would rather his personal possessions go to someone else who could use them now. Some of my friends wonder how I could turn his old bedroom into my dressing room. I made a decision after my son had well ‘almost’ moved out at nineteen to make his old bedroom into my space now. I knew he would never come back over to spend the night, or have dinner with me, or even to sit down to visit. he was too busy and plus he said “I knew where he was at most of the time, come see me there”. It is a funny thing about being an empty nester, sometimes our dreams do not come true. I used to hear my friends talk about the kids came home for Sunday supper. The parents had fun learning the truth about The stain in the carpet, or how the back door really got broken.

I ran across a couple of my childhood belongings down in the crawl space. I ran across my high school year books, some of my 4-H Club ribbons for my lamb, prized ribbons from the fair. I enjoyed growing up on the ranch. I had many opportunities my friends did not. raising all our animals was a once in a lifetime experience. I could ride my horse in the orchard after school, play with the baby lambs, feed the chickens, or ride our mini-bike. Being raised on the ranch taught my twin brother and I responsibility, dedication,and personal growth. It was fun seeing the birth of a baby lamb grow up and become a Grand Champion in the sheep class the next year.

Life has a way of passing us by if we are not careful. I can say I have some very good memories of the life I had lived and some not so pleasant. I thought when I married my husband, we would grow old and grey together. My life too another direction. I also thought when we had our son Levi, we would one day be proud grandparents to his children, I could watch him buy his first house,upgrade from his beloved car to a mini-van,  watch him enjoy being a father now. My life was again changed forever when he passed away in a tragic car accident in 2007. He was only 20. I am so proud of the fine young man he had become.

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A Garden Make-Over

August 9, 2018 at 12:10 am (Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Yesterday, I was surprised by an old friend who came and helped me with a front yard make-over. He had gotten busy with his landscaping business and I was busy with my hectic schedules. It was nice to finally get some yard work done.  We were planning on updating my front yard in Spring, then my gardener was slammed with  other commitments. So the bricks sat until this week.

I must say, Nigel is a gifted landscape artist. He can take an idea and turn the idea into a beautiful design. Two years ago, we updated my broken down fence, trimmed some trees and planted some flowers in the newly built planter boxes. I am now extending my patio area with concrete so I can have a bigger entertaining space for friends. I may not have the income to  redesign my backyard space like many families are able to, but I love my little retreat I have created for myself.

There is still so much summer left to enjoy. I am enjoying the farmer’s Market, The Parade of Homes, learning how to paddle board, spending time with my aging mom, and trying to stay cool. I melt in the summer heat so this is always a good time to catch up on a good book in the shade, making ice cream is always a plus especially cherry vanilla. In the evening, I like to go down to the bay and enjoy the setting sun on my favorite big rock. The rock is where my son and his cousin used to jump off from the rope into the bay. I set and enjoy watching the boaters come back in for the evening.

I am learning to enjoy the four seasons where I live, my favorite will always be fall and Winter. I love the crisp cold air, coffee tastes better when it is chilly outside, bundling up in layers, boots and scarves, knitted caps. I love the chili cook-off with friends watching the games, movie marathons with friends, progressive dinners, Monday night study, shorter cooler nights, baking. This will all come soon enough, for now, I need to take the time and enjoy my least favorite season. the scorching heat of summer. I do have one consolation though, as the sun begins to set, the temperatures starts to cool off where I can set outside and hear the evening crickets serenade me in my backyard. So summer does have some benefits after all. I hope you are enjoying what is left.

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The Heat Is On

August 1, 2018 at 7:41 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The heat has finally hit my home town. I am one of the lucky ones who cannot handle heat well. After eating, I feel nauseous, it takes awhile for my stomach to calm down. I also suffer from summertime allergies; I get the runny itchy water eyes, it feels like a hair is caught under your eyelid. Summer lasts but a few months here, and I am glad when the temperature cools down and gives my lawn another chance to recover.

I decided this year to try and keep my front lawn greener and water the backyard less often. I don’t really entertain much so I do not need the golf course looking backyard. The more friends I talk to, I am finding that they have invested money into creating a outdoor paradise instead of vacationing. If you have three kids, you have the plane fares, hotels ,food, and theme parks. families have decided to create the backyard of thier dreams. An outdoor kitchen,fire pit, water feature and an outdoor fireplace adds beauty and resale value to the home.

It is ironic to me how just a few years ago the trend was a man cave or mom cave. A place where the parent could create the perfect hideaway from the family to watch the big game or sew the perfect quilt.  Later, the trend became the tiny luxury buildings,or just Another version of the mom hideaway. I have seen some beautiful hideaways out there. It is funny how family members respect the privacy of a man cave or moms tiny special place. I have watched some of the shows  where the couple doesn’t care what the house looks like just give them thier hideout.

When my husband and I were raising our family, I am glad we lived in a time before the trends. We went shopping together, paid our bills together, had date nights, rented our favorite movie. (Until my husband passed away, I didn’t know there were movies made other than karate films)He was a die hard fan. Times have changed, families are crazy busy with games,practice, separate dinner schedules, it is hard to have family time anymore. Folks are opting for a stay-cation for a weekend rejuvenation. Soon school will be back in session, a new schedule to get used to, homework, school sports continue, and life still moves forward. 

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Billing Woes

July 24, 2018 at 6:22 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I always love it when you know you paid a bill on time, and you still get a statement telling you they have not received a payment from you in two months. It is interesting to me when you have them on instant chat you tell them you have a receipt in front of you with the date the payment was sent. I so not use online banking for the mere reason of when I try to access my account, I cannot get past the security passwords. I think I do know my niece’s name, my moms maiden name and the names of my children.

When my husband and I would pay our bills, we enjoyed the hour getting out of the house and paying them in person. When my husband became terminally ill, I took the hour break away from daily stress to pay my bills while our son attended preschool. Thirty plus years later, I still enjoy seeing the customer service gals and chatting a few minutes after bill paying. It is funny how some would call me a creature of habit. I guess I am set in my ways…

I remember a few years ago, the bank tried to take my house away because a clerk didn’t understand about a HUD loan was. They put my payment in a suspended account and then I received a delinquency notice of being four months behind. It literally took my Senator to untangle the mess to keep my young son and I in our home. It is easy to get angry looking at the billing statements sometimes. Accounts can make an honest mistake that needs correcting. Living in a small town, knowing most of the clerks by first name makes it nice when I have a concern. it is taken care of in that visit.

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They Still Call Me Mom

July 18, 2018 at 7:27 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I went outside to change my sprinkler last night. While out there, one of my neighbors called me over. I was embarrassed to walk over because I was in my night-gown. They laughed and motioned me to come over anyway. While chatting with the young adults, I was struck by a thought.

Ashley is a year younger than my son Levi. They grew up together, made snow forts connecting both our yards to escape…. what I do not know. if you stayed out of trouble, you did not need a place to hide(rather chilly hiding place anyway don’t you think). Levi shared his sled with Ashley so she could have fun sledding after school on the hill by our house. They both grew up to be fine young adults I must say.

When my son was attending Kindergarten he met his lasting friend Mike. They were like two peas in a pod together. Spending the night at each others houses, playing Nintendo together, getting into mischief together. Oh such are the The joys of best friends for a single parent. I remember when they were teens, Mike spent the night. One night I heard the front door open and my hallway squeak. I told the boys”busted” they ran into Levi’s room laughing as they hit the bed. They had forgotten I never had that squeak fixed for this exact reason someday. 

Most of my friends have at least four grandchildren. I have been asked “if I ever get angry at God because my son did not give me grandchildren?” My life had taken another direction than I had expected. Instead of being bitter and angry with God, I chose instead to trust him.  My life is full of people who love and support me, a great job I love, a church family, and people who support my blog. I have learned through the year how to make great lemonade. Life is what you make of it. You can go around wearing a frown or you can be cheerful.

It has been hard since I lost my son eleven years ago. I am proud of the fine young man he had become. I miss his infectious laugh, his sparkle in his mischievous eyes, he smelled great, most of all, his generosity to others. I have been shedding a few tears this week, but I know he is proud of me and this is what keeps me moving forward, looking forward to more good things to come. hug your kids extra tight today, let them know how much you love them, how proud you are of them and you are glad they are in your life. We are not promised a tomorrow, make today count.

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