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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Summer Has Arrived

July 12, 2018 at 7:07 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Summer has arrived in Idaho. Every year, we have wild fires threatening to destroy the beauty we so enjoy. I feel sadness towards the homeowners who every year have to evacuate their homes and come back hopefully to a house still standing. I worry sometimes because I live right in front of a natural forest. My home can easily be in danger. Every year the Fire Department offers sound advice to home owners. Make sure all brush, wood, and any flammable material is kept away from your home. Make sure the grass is not weeds and use drought tolerant landscaping to help preserve the home better in an outbreak of fire. 

I have always had a love/ hate of summer. I hate the watery itchy eyes of allergies. I have a major allergy to fresh-cut grass, my throat feels like it is closing up. The ninety plus degree heat for days on end In winter, your heat bills goes up, in the summer the water bill goes up. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many ways to tolerate this few short weeks until I can enjoy fall again. I don’t mind wearing dresses to keep cool plus you look more pulled together when running errands. I love the summer hair dues to keep your head cool and looking fresh. The lighter make-up routine, I still enjoy making my ice-cream for an evening desert.

Most of my friends live for this time of year. they get out on the beach,go for a swim to cool off, enjoy getting a tan on. I have a hard time with crowds. The little kids who have a foul mouth on them, no supervision, throwing their trash wherever it lands instead of using the provided garbage containers. It is getting harder to find a quiet spot just to enjoy watching the boaters drift past you or watch the paddle boards drift by taking their time. I know I would not be a good candidate for living right on the water. A few years ago, I went to an open house right on the lake. The boaters speeding by were loud, you could not hear yourself talking the person beside you. I understand it is a price you pay for the luxury of lake side living, but I prefer a quieter home overlooking the forest in front of me.

I older I get, I guess I get more set in my ways. Give me a farmers market where I get to know the locals and learn how they make fresh goat cheese spreads and home-made wine. give me fresh fruits and vegetables that I can go home and make a fresh summer salad with a unique blended salad dressing to try. Give me a concert in the park filled with families, kids dancing on the green to the music. A walk down town exploring new shops and visiting with old friends who are shop owners. Give me a drive around one of the many beautiful lakes in the area. Where there is always a chance to see  deer or moose. Watching the golfers perfect a swing enjoying lunch overlooking the lake with a dear friend having lunch. I enjoy my hometown with friendly folks, nice weather, beautiful lakes, rivers you follow while driving the back roads.

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A Page in Time

July 5, 2018 at 5:21 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I was in my dressing room getting ready to start my day. I was looking at some of the family photos on the wall while I was dressing. I was looking at my son Levi. I started to remember the day in the photos… The first tattoo Levi had gotten; He had two arrows crossed across the shoulders. he told me he never really knew why he chose the arrows now. I was teasing him saying”you know Levi, iron sharpens iron.” Teasingly he told me”shut up mom”. The day my son bought his truck. He was laying carpet so he could help his boss carry more product to the job site. The first ride in his new truck. He asked me” hey mom, do you want a coffee?” 

 After my son moved out to help his grandma, I turned his old bedroom into my dressing room. I knew he would not be coming back just to spend the night or have dinner with me. he told me “I am at the neighbors, come see me there.” Really! Sorting through the pain from the loss of my son, I am blessed with fun stories and memories I can still look back on and chuckle. I think if he could his old house now, he would be surprised at how different it looks today. For one his mom(me) knows the difference between neon green paint and uh olive. I remember when he and his best friend decided to paint his bedroom while I was at work. he thought I would be angry at him but he had to live with the color choice not me. 

 I have been fortunate that Levi had some really great friends,many of them called me mom. I think one the reasons I could continue to carry on and not give up is his friends never stopped calling me mom. I appreciate that I am still called mom by the fine young adults his friends have become. A few have families of thier own now and I am a part of their lives. I tease some Levi’s friends because we live in the same town, but never run into each other- anywhere. Something I am told about schedules or something like that I don’t know.(smile). I feel blessed to part of a special small group of friends who have allow me to continue to part of their lives.

Last night, we had a neighborhood fireworks show. the neighbors have not gotten together since our kids were young. We didn’t want to fight the crows in town, so the whole neighborhood had a fireworks war going on. The night air was cool, not muggy like last year, everyone had the evening off so they could stay and enjoy each others company. I live in a great forever home and have some great neighbors. we were talking about how long we had been neighbors. Thirty-three years of good memories. One neighbor remembered when there weren’t any homes around us just an empty field. His firework shot across the field  and landed just inside the kitchen slider that was slightly ajar. 

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Summer Memories

June 30, 2018 at 10:57 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Everyone has a special Summer Bucket List of activities they would love to try just once. Some want to brave the giant roller coaster at the local theme park, some want to find the best huckleberry patch, other just want to enjoy family and friends. Whatever you place on your Summer Bucket List, making memories last a life time.

One of my favorite summer memories taking my son to Seattle for the weekend. We met with my friends who were in a Band. My son and I were invited to a concert for the Village People several years ago. When I arrived at my friends hotel, my son was mad because he thought ( the biker character) and I were going to a private lunch together and he and my ride were going to MC Donald’s for their lunch. Glenn  took us all out to lunch, then were walked around the area until it was time for him to get back to his hotel for rehearsals for his concert. My girlfriend and I had front row seats and a back stage pass to see the guys after the show. What a memorable weekend it was indeed.

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A Rare Week

June 22, 2018 at 12:29 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking) (, , )

After a very busy week last week, It has been nice to just relax my three days off this week. I started my day off with weeding my flower beds. I hate weeding my flower beds; I know what some of you are thinking” who can hate to wed the flower beds”? I am a reforming black thumb gardener who is learning to like things like digging in the dirt, dead heading plants, mulching, and  choosing the right plants for your zone. I have very rocky soil in my backyard so I don’t have to worry too much about anything growing. My favorite thing my friends like to ask me is”did you water the grass and plants?” “Yes” ” I don’t know what to tell you then”. 

This month is the Annual Home garden Show. I love to wander around  the beautiful gardens and get ideas. Most of the participants are retired and have the time to create intricate spaces. Some gardens are funky and fun while others are formal and elegant. I sure do admire those who have a true green thumb. I thought about asking for some advice, but you must have the time to put the work into your space and do the weeding, fertilizing, watering to keep the plants and flowers looking beautiful. I have several unique designs. Old trucks are used as planters, wheelbarrows, bicycles, a son or daughters combat boots, old tires cut in half and hung on the fence. Every year the tour is more and more creative. 

I have a dear friend who owns a beautiful Victorian home not far from me. Many people have told her she should be part of the garden tour; Her garden is semi-formal with trees, bird houses(Victorian) rounded edging for her many colorful flowers. I know my friend works many hours to keep her yard looking beautiful. She get compliments from small children walking by her house with the parents. Such dedication she has to live in a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood. her house sets across the street from the river so she can enjoy river view. The neighborhood looks like a picture out of Currier and Ives. I have a few places I can drive and see the deer and moose and  some nice homes in the area. 

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Catching Up With Friends

June 15, 2018 at 12:11 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I ran into an old friend at the grocery store yesterday while doing my moms weekly shopping. We chatted for a while, caught each other up on our families, summer activities, and still talk about how we both met. She was an Avon Representative at the time. I had just lost my husband and was just basically going through the motions on dad to-day living. One day, a nice Avon lady came to my front door. I had on no make-up, not dressed yet ready for my day, I did offer her a cup of coffee. My new friend helped me find colors to compliment my skin tone. One week later when she delivered my package, she was amazed at the transformation. I was dressed, hair combed, house picked up and I looked better than the week before. We stayed friends even though our schedules do not allow us to get together as often anymore. 

I appreciate my friends. They accept me when I am in a good mood or when I am feeling a little melancholy. I know they have prayed for me over the loss of both my husband and my son. It is a nice feeling when I am feeling sad, someone will ask”how are you doing today Julie?” One of the comments I have heard the most is”I can’t even imagine”. I have learned how to live without my son, you never forget them or the good time with them and the difficult times you shared. I have so many wonderful memories of the fine young man Levi had become. One of my most cherished photos in my living room is the one where when our picture was being taken, Levi picked his mom up and my cousin snapped the memory. I remember we were both laughing because Levi told me”how many sons can pick up their mother?” 

This has been a long journey of pain, healing, acceptance, and most of all, the love and support of family and friends. I could not have done this without any of you. The prayers, getting together for coffee and a good cry,and turning my son’s old bedroom into my dressing room. I have friends who have also lost a son or a daughter, they shut the door to the child’s room and never go in it again. I chose to turn my son’s old bedroom into my dressing room. I love getting dressed in the morning and putting on my pajamas at night. I find comfort in seeing his pictures on his wall and reading his hand written notes on his message board. 

When we were born, we were not guaranteed the “perfect life”. We appreciate the little things in life that gives us joy. I know my son is smiling down on me from heaven. I wake up every morning knowing how proud he is of me, his mom who has persevered through my grief and come out the other side into happiness. Hug your kids extra tight today, let them know how proud you are of them, let them know how loved they are and you are glad they are in your life. You are not promised tomorrow , so make today count. 

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