Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bits & Pieces of Me.....III


Ah, Spring, how I love thee! I am currently sitting in the back yard, in the sun, kids playing on the trampoline, and enjoying the sunshine. I should be cleaning out a flower bed (or two, or three...) but instead I'm just soaking up the moment. The girls are laughing and playing and I'm pretty convinced that it just doesn't get much better than this!


My Dad has left California and is headed back to Illinois. He had a hospital stay while he was out there and that really got me thinking...when Dad dies, that's it. We no longer have parents. Our parents are gone, so WE are the "old" generation. That really freaks me out. I am so thankful that Dad was with Jeff and Jim this winter. It was a long, cold, and dreary winter here (even worse where he lives) and I'm afraid he may have not made it through had he been alone at the house for the duration of winter. I'm worried about him as he travels across the country to here, but I will try to keep my calls to his cell phone to a minimum...only one or two per day! I'm sure he'll be careful and pay attention to his health, but he is after all almost 80, and it's scary knowing he's out there on the road.

Happiness in the Face of Sadness...

Happiness isn't always easy. I have a lot to be happy about, but some days it's really a conscious effort to choose that happiness and not get sucked down by the grief and general anger at how the last 14 months have been. I'm so glad and grateful that I have the people around me that I do...they have helped me choose happiness in the face of sadness. They give me purpose to get up and go for another day.


Jeff and I are talking about taking a vacation this summer. I can't imagine that we can leave the kids...my folks are no longer available to be our week-long childcare so that we can sneak away. This year is a biggie....15 year anniversary. For our 10th we went off to Jamaica...no kids, no worries. We're trying to figure out what to do, where to go. I think a place that has kids programs that we can utilize would be a great idea. Does anyone have any suggestions? I hate to miss that fun, 15 year anniversary trip, but we're having a hard time coming to a decision.

Quiet Time...

I really enjoy the time at night after the kids go to bed and before I turn in. Usually I'm trying to get some work done that didn't get finished during the day, but sometimes just the quiet is so very enjoyable! It seems that the days are so LOUD here so that quiet time is peaceful and calming. Don't get me wrong...I like the loudness of the kids, the dog, the phone, etc MOST days...but on occasion it just rattles my nerves. (Today is one of those days...nerves rattled) I'm also in the middle of another book on my Kindle. I'm reading "The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Societ" or some such...it's an entertaining book and I am enjoying it. Thank God our lives are so different from this. It's nice to sit back and lose myself in a book every now and then.

I find it enjoyable to sit and just be....

Fit By Forty

Many of you are following my progress on this through my "Bloggin The Bugg" blog, but for those who aren't...here's the down low....I have lost 23 pounds since 1/15/10. I am working out and eating right. I've tried magic beans before and they didn't work too well for me. Things are going really well...I am even getting up a little earlier each morning and taking the dog for an am walk...it gets my metabolism going and also prevents me from sacking in! I also work out at a gym and have a trainer that works with me once per week. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride in my progress thus far. I'm sure some folks are getting sick of hearing about it, but too bad! I guess you'd better walk away if you're done hearing about it from me! I feel so much better...stronger and healthier. I can't wait to see what the next few months bring. I am going to begin adding in more weight training so the weight may not come off as quickly, but I really need to tone up as I go so that I don't end up a sagging bag of flesh! Muscle weighs more than fat, so as I build muscle and lose fat the scale may not move as quickly, but that's OK. Once I'm done with the Biggest Loser competition at my gym I'm going to phase into more of the weight training with cardio for the long term goals.

Signing off....

Well, that's all of the bits that are rolling off of my head right now. I hope everyone is doing well, staying happy, and getting out to enjoy the sunshine now that it has returned. Go smell the daffodils.....life is too short not to!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Back at it...

I'm baaaaaaack. Did anyone miss me? Probably not, but it feels good to get back into all of those "normal" things, so I'm back to blogging. Interestingly enough, blogging was not the first "normal" activity I got back to...going to the gym was. Hmmmm...who am I and what has invaded my body? Ha ha...

OK, so what am I typing about today? I think FUN is a good topic.

So, what has been FUN in my life recently?

Well, the stomach flu was NOT FUN, so we're going to let that dead dog lie.

But, soon after the dreaded stomach flu came NICE SPRING-LIKE weather....oh, yeah...that was FUN people! A few of my favorite things of spring...
  • Seeing the crocus and daffodils peeking through the ground, and finally stretching up to shine their amazingly vibrant colors
  • The smell of fresh mulch...mmmmmmm
  • GREEN grass
  • Flower garden planning...what to plant, what to move, etc!

I love getting outside with the kids...they can play while I work on cleaning out a flower bed. We did a lot of that last week. They play, I cut, dig, and haul off. The pleasant surprise this year is that as I'm working I'm feeling fine...no out of breath, let's just go in and lay on the couch feelings for me this spring.

I love finding little garden surprises...like the pansies that came back and were blooming on the side deck, or the vinca vine that is coming back in the deck boxes.

I love cutting back the rose bushes, knowing that they're going to be filled with beautiful blooms soon and that we'll have months and months to enjoy their beauty.

I love getting the deck cleaned up, deck furniture cleaned up and ready to go...it's almost time for evenings on the deck while the kids play in the backyard...joy of joys!

And, when the weather outside is too spring showery, fun inside will just have to do, right? Lately fun inside has been Wii Just Dance. It's the first game that I've REALLY enjoyed other than Wii Fit/Plus. Avery thinks it's totally cool...Drake isn't sure about it, but Mom knows that his dislike stems from the fact that MOM beats him every time! The kid just can't take a beat-down from his old Mom!

In general I think the anticipation of Spring is fun...there's so much to look forward to. A fun filled summer, flowers and vegetables growing, the return of the Farmer's Market, evenings outside by the fire pit, flashlight tag, neighborhood bbqs, days and nights at the neighborhood beach, planting new things, riding bikes, taking walks after dinner, fun family times, the return of the snowbird grandparents, cool breezes at night, watching the tree canopy in the back return and shut us out from the outside world....so very much to look forward to!

But, alas, 'tis not all fun and games in the real world. There's a mountain of laundry calling my name (or is that one of the kids?)...well, either way, it's time to get back to work so that I can enjoy some more fun later today. Have a great day everyone and an equally wonderful week ahead of you!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Me = MIA

Sorry that I've been MIA for a while...I WILL return! The stomach flu came to visit our house over Spring Break. It was uninvited and unannounced, so we're asking it to leave today.

I am trying to get back to normal around here, so Monday...the blogging resumes.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, March 5, 2010


Well, here I go again. I'm reflecting on a year ago. I'm off by a day, but needed to do this today for several reasons.

Almost a year ago, on March 6, 2009 I wrote the following "note" on Facebook. Rereading and posting these notes this year is helping me...helping me reflect, helping me remember, and helping me heal.

A Hero's Homecoming

Thursday was the day we had all been waiting for; the day we got Schuyler back home. Nothing about the day was ordinary...the circumstances, the transportation, the crowds. It was a day I'll never forget and something I hope I'll never experience again in my lifetime.

We loaded into the cars for the drive to Moline. Being together helped...we were there for one another, as my family always is. When we got into Moline we were to stop at the McDonalds just outside of the airport to meet up with the Partiot Guard Riders. My understanding was there'd be some veterans on motorcycles that would help lead the way. When we pulled in there it seemed like a stop-over for a Surgis-bound caravan. They were there for Schuyler.

Then on to the airport. We were early and his plane was running late. The immediate family was taken into a building to wait and shield us from the press. After receiving a briefing on where the press were and how they were going to position us we went out to the tarmac. Small private planes were lined up in the space opposite where we were lined up, creating a line of planes and family that Sky's plane would taxi past. Once we were lined up we all spotted his plane making its final descent into Moline...wow...what a moment.

The plane landed and taxied to us and stopped. Once the engines were cut the family was told to move forward and line up off the left wing. The preparation here took a few minutes...I'm not really sure how much time passed. Finally the American Flag draped coffin was removed from the plane.

Reality hit us all...we were there because Schuyler is dead.

Through the tears we watch as his coffin is lowered from the plane and into the waiting white-gloved hands of the military pallbearers. Our boy is home.

The slow-motion salute makes my heart ache...why did WE lose HIM?

We get back into our cars for the drive back to Kewanee. As we drive out we pass a line of military uniformed men and women, all who hold their salutes until the last of the family cars is past them...this makes us all cry even harder.

Beyond them is the line of motorcycles...then we are on the road. After the last family car passes, the motorcycle brigade jumps on and passes our cars to take the lead. We are on our way to Kewanee.

I expected people in towns...that was not a huge surprise. However, as we made our first turn onto Route 150, I noticed cars pulled over on the roadside...we passed a semi. Then I saw her...pulled over on the side of the road was an older woman, probably in her 70's. She was sitting there alone in her car, sobbing into her hands. It was at this point that I realized the depth of the ride home and how intensely emotional it was going to be. I thought being inside the safe cocoon of our car would shield me from the grief outside. This obviously was not going to be the case.

After we passed through the towns we were met at each city limit by either fire truck(s), ambulance, police cars, or other official vehicle. The townspeople lined the streets. This I expected.

What I didn't expect is the farmhouse between towns where an entire family stands waving American flags.

What I didn't expect was the bicyclist who stopped and stood with his hand over his heart as we passed by.

What I didn't expect was looking forward to see over a hundred motorcycles and looking back and being unable to see the end of the line of cars.

As we came into Kewanee we saw the massive American flag hanging over the street for us to pass under. I think I said something about the "Hog Days" flag...then we turned the corner and there was another one.

People lined the streets...everywhere you looked you saw flags, red white and blue, people holding signs, people crying...people there to support and honor Schuyler and his family.

As we pulled up to Veteran's Park, our driver told us we could get out or we could stay in the car. It looked like the other 2 cars were unloading, so everyone in our car got out also. Once we were out of the car you got a sense of the number of people there. I could not see the end of the people, regardless of which way I looked. The KHS band started playing patriotic songs. People everywhere were crying, holding one another, and waving flags.

When the band stopped, a lone trumpeter started playing "Taps". I don't know about anyone else, but I lost it at that point. The only thing worse than that was after "Taps" when "Amazing Grace" was played on the bagpipes. I think everyone in our family lost it there...Schuyler loved bagpipes.

After that we got back into our cars for the short ride to the funeral home. The same military pallbearers were there to transport his casket from the car into the funeral home.

Finally, our soldier is home.

No longer do we wonder and wait. No longer do we worry if he'll make it back. You are now home with us for your final journey.

That evening our family gathered at John and Amy's house. We all had a drink and stood outside to watch the amazing sunset. It was a beautiful evening and a most spectacular sunset. Raise your glass to Schuyler, for it's a breathtaking night and we have our boy home.

God Speed Schuyler, We Love YOU.

Reflecting...that's what I'm doing now...reflecting on those days and weeks after his death. Remembering everyones reactions, but honing in on my Mom's. How baffling to think now that only 4 months after going through all of this together she would be gone too. I remember how anxious she was to get on a plane and get here...she was driving everyone nuts! She just wanted us all to be together and be there for John, Amy, Amber, and Seth. She knew that there is strength in numbers, and she knew that by her, Dad, and Jeff getting on a plane, our numbers would be increased by 3, and how powerful those extra 3 would be.

It really stinks that hindsight is always so clear. In the moment we so often fail to see the whole picture...to embrace the moment and suck the life out of it. Time spent with family is something that is NEVER a waste...there's never something better to do...in my opinion. I spent a lot of time with my family over the last 38 years, and will continue to do so as long as I'm able. But, even spending all that time, I still long for a few more times....a few more trips....a few more lazy afternoons at the River, grilling out, playing in the water, and helping Mom deadhead flowers in one of the gardens. I long for one more beer, around the fire pit, late....late....late at night. Just one more Aunt Lori....just another 15 minutes of talking and sharing time together.

Enjoy the moment...savor it. Pull all the happiness and joy that you possibly can out of it, because you never know when that moment is the last moment.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Year of Writing.....

A year ago today I sat down and wrote out my feelings for the first time. As many of you know my memory is really bad...I can barely remember what happened last week, let alone a year or more ago. But, I have found that the memories of last year at this time are very sharp.

I remember sitting in my hotel room after everyone had gone to bed and feeling unable to shut my own brain down for some rest. My parents were in the room next to me. I was sitting at the computer reading newspapers, facebook posts, and trying to make some sense of it all.

Here's what I wrote:

The Things He'll Miss

So I just read Schuyler's obituary on the online version of the Kewanee paper. (
www.starcourier.com). The other folks in the section were older people. That made me start thinking about the things he didn't get to in his life.

It makes me sad that Schuyler didn't get to come home, get married, and have babies. I know he wanted to, and that makes it all the sadder. Most guys at 25 aren't ready for that, or even if they are, they're not going to talk about it. Sky talked about it. We talked on IM and he was right out there with it. I know he would've been a great Dad too. He had a good example to follow. I know my brother has made mistakes (gee...who's not in THAT line???) but he's a good Dad. He loves Amber, Sky, and Seth fiercely, and without any reservations he shows them and tells them. That in itself is more than a lot of parents can provide to their kids.

So, tonight as I go to bed, I have to admit that I'm kinda pissed. I'm pissed that Sky didn't have the time that those other folks on the obit page got. I know that life's not fair (that's a Dan Patch original speech, that we've all heard at least once), but I'm still pissed about it. He didn't get to grow old and do all of the things that he should've been able to do.

So, for you, Schuyler, I am going to try and remember this night. I'm going to try very hard to remember how sad and pissed I feel. I'm going to try and LIVE my life like there's no tomorrow. I'm going to love my husband and my kids and be THANKFUL that I got the time in life to have those experiences. I know that time is going to go by and I may have days that I forget what a gift that day is, but for you I am going to TRY to be thankful for each day that I get to have more life opportunities.

Well, a year later, I DO REMEMBER. I remember that night...I remember feeling so mad...so angry...and so confused. I remember despair...the despair I felt after each day was done and I was alone and finally being able to let those feelings out a little...that break from being one of the strong ones.

I think I'm different now...a year later. I really do think that I'm trying to live a more grateful life. Not always, but I'm trying...I'm trying to enjoy what it is that I have...these beautiful kids...this wonderful husband...the friends and family that can move mountains with their love. I'm trying to be grateful and live with purpose. I'm trying....

The writing is so helpful for me. I love getting it all out there....I NEED to get it out! A lot of people gave me positive feedback when I first started writing those notes on Facebook a year ago. That fueled me to continue to some degree, but most of all the fuel came from the satisfaction and relief I got after writing. Now the Facebook notes have expanded into a blog. Blogging gives me peace and perspective...it's also a great outlet for my ramblings!

Remember...you never know what the next 5 minutes of your life holds, let alone tomorrow, next week, or next month. Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans. Get out there, and life a grateful life, full of passion and purpose!

Thanks for teaching me that, Schuyler....I love you.