Good Night Irene

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I were on our driveway cleaning up from the yard sale we had this weekend. We looked behind us and saw a familiar figure cutting through our backyard. He had his head down and was making hurried, deliberate steps our way.

From a distance he appeared to be the 93 year old neighbor man we have known for 8 years who lives on our block. As he approached though he was almost unrecognizable. His always slender frame was now reduced to skin and bones. His face had an ashen hue to it and his eyes, once bright and lively were now replaced with a lifeless stare.

Bill and his wife Irene have always been some of our favorite neighbors. Bill owns a big tractor snowplow and plows everyone’s sidewalks on the block. They grow a huge garden in their backyard and deposit bags of tomatoes on our doorstep. When we are out walking we always stop by to visit them if they are sitting on their porch. They dole out Dum-Dum lollipops to the kids and invite them to sit on the large porch swing. Then they love to regale us with stories about the “olden days” and we love to hear them. I have heard the story about how they met no less than 10 times. Bill used to date Irene’s younger sister but then Irene stole him away from her. Irene tells me her secrets about how they had the perfect marriage. Irene has taken my kids into the house on several occasions and played piano for them while Bill takes me to the back room to show me his WWII memorabilia. He was in the Coast Guard and stationed in Hawaii during that time. He has several medals and plenty of photo albums that he has proudly showed me. He always takes out a picture of Irene in a bathing suit from that time and whistles.

As Bill sauntered over to us yesterday I said, “Hi Bill, How the heck have you been doing? I haven’t seen you in awhile.”

He stopped and looked at me and said, “Well, you know Irene passed away last month.”

I didn’t know.

I quick grabbed him and gave him a hug and felt his jutting spine beneath my hand. I told him how sorry I was and how much we adored Irene. He just nodded his head. I asked him if his son was at the house with him but Bill said his son lives too far away and has only been able to make it up a few times to handle all of the paperwork.

Bill started to tear up then and he threw his arms up in the air and said, “I’m all alone now” in a jagged voice.

He abruptly started to walk away again and we asked him if there was anything we could do to help out. He just shook his head and muttered, “I’m just all alone now.”

My husband and I watched him walk away in his old straw hat, his jeans cinched at the waist and his flannel shirt draping on him. We were paralyzed and didn’t know what to say or do. I wanted to run to him and tell him just to sit down with us but inside I knew his pride would have denied him from doing that. I just stood there in sadness for a long time watching that 93 year old man walking down the street alone. The same street that I have watched both him and his wife walk down together many of times.

Later last night, I looked up her obituary online and discovered that Bill and Irene would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this coming Wednesday, May 1st. On Wednesday I will be paying Bill a visit with some chocolate chip cookies in hand. I hope he invites me in and I hope he pulls out those photo albums.

I hope he pulls out that picture of Irene in her bathing suit and gives a whistle.

Good night Irene, good night Irene. I’ll see you in my dreams.

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I Wonder if My Great Grandma Knew What She Was Making

I come from a long line of amazingly creative women. From Great-Grandmas down to my Mom.

My Great-Grandma Palma, on my father’s side was only in my life for a short time. I believe she passed away when I was 7 and I only got to meet her a few times. Those few visits though inspired me greatly and were wonderful memories. She had a huge collection of salt and pepper shakers and other beautiful things that I loved to look at and made me want to start collecting antiques. She gave me quite a few of her salt and pepper sets that I still display in my home. She also gave me a very old miniature cast iron stove to use with my Barbies that my daughter now uses with her dolls. She crocheted doll dresses for me that my daughter also still uses.

My most loved gift from her though was my crocheted collars. She made me about 10 in all different colors. I wore them all of the time in elementary school. I thought they were the most extraordinary things! I began putting them on my own daughter when she was in Kindergarten and she thinks they are equally as cool as I do!

I wonder if my Great Grandma knew as she crocheted those little collars for me and gave me those little gifts that they would be with me forever and that I would pass them down to my own daughter. I wonder if she knew that she was making me more than a crocheted collar….she was making a piece of herself, a gift of love, that I can hold on to forever and spread her love to many more.

Iris wearing one of the crocheted collars to school today.

Iris wearing one of the crocheted collars to school today.

A close up of the collar

A close up of the collar

 

 

The Awkward Stick Was Thrown Javelin Style

Studies have shown that the “awkward stage” is officially over. Girls no longer go through this awful transition period. You know that stage during adolescence where your outer appearance is, well, awkward.

Okay, so there really wasn’t a study done on this. It is purely one of my recent observations. I am basing this off of sightings at the mall, pictures on the internet, a middle school volley ball game I attended and lastly on my own two nieces who have managed to steer clear of the awkward stage.

I was always under the assumption that every girl must go through a mandatory “awkward stage.” I certainly know that’s how it was back in my day. The awkward stick hit every girl I knew. Some got whacked harder than others but at least everyone got a few taps.

Apparently, the awkward stick was thrown javelin style straight at me because I present to you my most unfortunate look ever:

My 7th grade picture

My 7th grade picture

Keep in mind this is a school picture, so I can only assume that I was alerted to the fact that they would be snapping a photo of me so therefore meaning that this look was the cream of the crop as far as what I could achieve appearance wise. At least you can kind of overlook the bad hairdo by the size of those spectacles.

If I remember correctly I believe I cut my own hair during this time period. I did this because I had absolutely no idea what to do with it. You see, I didn’t always have curly hair. I had some curls when I was little and then it went stick straight when I was in 1st grade. You can see that picture here. After that it started to get some wave to it.

My 4th grade picture

My 4th grade picture

My 5th grade picture

My 5th grade picture

My 6th grade picture

My 6th grade picture

For some reason after 6th grade my hair got crazy curly and the first picture I showcased was a prime example. Instead of applying mouse or gel to my hair, I would just snip off fly-away curls. Apparently, I had a lot of fly-aways.

By 8th grade, things were getting a little better:

My 8th grade picture

My 8th grade picture

I had discovered mousse and left the years of wacky glasses behind by getting contacts.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of my awkward stage. The summer after 8th grade I doused my hair in Sun-In in order to achieve the sun-bleached blonde hair that was advertised on the commercial. After hours of laying in the sun slathered in baby oil and my hair drenched in Sun-In the only thing I achieved was a terrible burn and bright orange hair. I am sorry to report I have no pictures of this to share with you. I think I may have successfully destroyed all evidence of this period.

I think I may have successfully got things turned around when I was 17 years old and began reading Seventeen magazine and got myself acquainted with all of the latest fashions, makeup and hair tips.

I blame the internet, You-Tube tutorials and hundreds of new and improved skin care and hair care products for phasing out the “awkward stage” in this present time. Girls today have so much information at their fingertips. All the girls I’ve seen recently, that fall into this age category, have beautiful, shiny hair. They have good fashion sense. They keep their make-up to a pretty lip gloss and some mascara.

I am happy for these girls and yet I feel bad for them.

They will have nothing to look back on and laugh at when they get older!

With Silver Bells, and Cockle Shells, and Pretty Maids All in a Row

It feels like Spring is never going to arrive here in Wisconsin. It is almost the end of April and we still haven’t put away our winter coats.

I am eager to get outside and see some flowers.

I have a love/hate relationship with gardening. When I was in my 20’s and had my first home, I put in a pond and garden in my backyard. I was quite enthusiastic about the hobby. I even joined an online seed club and began exchanging seeds with people all over the country. I had over 100 different kind of flowers growing in my garden by the time I sold the house. I also developed a loathing for this hobby when I realized how much work went into it year after year. The weeding and thinning out never ends. Even though I am not exactly enthusiastic about the hobby I continue to dabble in it and luckily for me I married a guy who never gardened before but has come to absolutely love it!

Today I want to share some garden photos mainly to remind myself that I will be seeing some beauty outside pretty soon (I hope)!

My backyard at my first home

My backyard at my first home

The pond

The pond

This is my Mom's flower garden! She amazes me every year with how much hard work and time she puts into her garden!

This is my Mom’s flower garden! She amazes me every year with how much hard work and time she puts into her garden!

Another one of my Mom's garden...I love watching it change and flourish every year!

Another one of my Mom’s garden…I love watching it change and flourish every year!

My daughter Iris standing in front of my Mom's Irises when she was 2 years old.

My daughter Iris standing in front of my Mom’s Irises when she was 2 years old.

My husband and I by one of my Mom's gardens when we were dating.

My husband and I by one of my Mom’s gardens when we were dating.

A garden in our yard that my husband made. I added the dresser that I found on the side of the street and painted.

A garden in our yard that my husband made. I added the dresser that I found on the side of the street and painted.

Oh Spring….I beg you…please get here soon! I might even do a bit of weeding!

 

 

 

You’re as Funny as an Unflushed Toilet

 My three children are a diverse bunch. They all share some similarities but for the most part their personalities and interests are quite opposite.

My oldest, Iris, a 7 year old girl, is dead set on being an elementary teacher or music teacher when she grows up. Since she declared this a year ago, I couldn’t agree with her more. Everything about her screams education. She has a gentle nature about her and an uncanny ability to explain things in a clear and concise manner and is very self-driven.

Iris pretending to be the teacher to the boys a few weeks ago

Iris pretending to be the teacher to the boys a few weeks ago

My middle child, Bency, a 5 year old boy claimed he wanted to be a scientist earlier this year. Both his serious nature and the way his mind works does seem quite perfect for this field.

My youngest, Cesar, a 2 year old boy has yet to determine what he wants to do with the rest of his life. However, since I am with him every day, I have noticed a clear skill set that he owns.

Cesar is extremely outgoing, social and has an amazing knack for doing impersonations and voices. His ability to mimic facial expressions and contort his little body is profound. His voice inflection ranges from high and squeaky to loud and thunderous and can even do a few accents too.

My clownie, clown kid Cesar

My clownie, clown kid Cesar

I have no idea how he learned this but it cracks me up every time he does one of his performances. I made mention to my husband that I think we have the next Seth McFarlane on our hands (the creator of Family Guy).

I picked up a book this past weekend at the library called The Birth Order Book. This subject greatly intrigues me especially since I now have 3 kids. Interestingly enough, it said that last borns are often spontaneous, humorous and high on people skills. Some famous last borns are Jay Leno, Steve Carell, Jim Carrey and Steve Martin.

This past weekend, my whole family was sitting in the living room listening to music. My husband was acting as deejay while the older kids and I were sitting on the couch. Cesar resumed his usual spot on the middle of the living room floor dancing up a storm. He had his body slightly hunched over at the waist and was doing slow, methodic stomping steps and would occasionally throw his hands in the air and wave them around and then laugh hysterically, which led me to believe he was trying his best to look like a complete lunatic.

It worked because I was guffawing throughout his impromptu performance. Iris was looking on with amusement as well while Bency had an annoyed look on his face.

Finally Bency piped up in a deadpan voice, “Hey you little clownie, clown kid. You think you’re so funny. Well, you’re about as funny as an unflushed toilet. You’re about as funny as a lost kid at the circus.”

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I quickly swiveled my head towards Bency with my mouth wide open and asked, “Where did you learn that?” He looked at me strangely and said, “What do you mean? I just made it up.”

I sat there speechless for a moment because I had to fully take it in and then I started laughing uncontrollably. It was one of the funniest things I had ever heard.

No matter the personalities or talents; kids are going to keep you in a mountain of laughter. Sometimes you have to look harder for it and sometimes it is just blinding you in the face like “an unflushed toilet”!

Save the Earth, Make Some Money and Help Someone Out

I have very little knowledge I can bestow on the world. However, there are a few things I am very passionate about and one of those things is rummage sales.

My earliest memory of going to a rummage sale was when I was 9 years old. I bought an antique clock and an old wooden box with rosemaling painted on it. I have been hooked on going to rummage sales ever since and have built myself a huge antique collection. When I was a teenager, my purchases were of antique furniture at rummage sales and when I bought my first house at the age of 21 my entire house was furnished with my finds. As a mother now, I purchase all of my children’s clothes at rummage sales and spend $10-$20 for their yearly wardrobe. For the price of one shirt at a department store my kids have a TON of clothes and very nice ones too! Also, noteworthy to add, I never thought I would have three children so after I had my first two children and they had outgrown all their baby clothes and accessories I sold them at a rummage sale (see… I didn’t say I was very smart) so when I found out I was expecting with baby #3 I went out and purchased everything we needed to equip a baby for the first year for $15 at rummage sales!

Now the downside to all of this purchasing is that I accumulate a lot of stuff and since I like to switch the look up in my house frequently and my kids grow out of clothes at an alarming rate, I in turn have to host my own rummage sales every year. I started having rummage sales when I was 22 years old and have held one or two for the past 15 years.

Since I have a lot of experience on this subject I thought I would share with you some things I have learned along the way to have a successful rummage sale yourself.

First things first…determine if having a rummage sale is the right fit for you.

  • Do have a rummage sale if you want to de-clutter and downsize your household.
  • Don’t have a rummage sale if you don’t have a lot of items and variety to sell (if I only see two tables of items being sold, I keep driving. I don’t waste my time stopping for small rummage sales.)
  • Don’t expect to make a lot of money. People are coming to rummage sales because they want things cheap. If people want to spend a lot of money they will go to department stores and buy things brand new.
  • If a rummage sale isn’t the right fit for you and you still want to get rid of things, donating them, selling on Craigslist to get more money for items and selling to consignment shops are your other options.
One of my rummage sales from 2009

One of my rummage sales from 2009

How to plan and execute a successful rummage sale:

  • Have an area in your house that you can set things aside you want to sell throughout the year. I have a chest of drawers and a corner in the basement that I am constantly putting things that I want to sell. I also have Rubbermaid totes that I am constantly putting the clothes that my kids have outgrown. This saves time so you are not scrambling through the house trying to determine what to get rid of at the last minute.
  • Make sure you have plenty of tables that you will be able to set up the things you are going to sell. We have quite a few tables but I also use old doors and lay them across sawhorses or buckets for makeshift tables. My brother found an old store clothing rack at a rummage sale that I use to hang up clothes but you can also run rope between two objects for hanging up your clothes.
  • What to sell? Anything! Remember the old saying “One person’s trash in another person’s treasure.” Take for instance worn out jeans or clothes. If you price these cheap (25 cents) a sewer may come along and buy these for quilts or the buttons. Perhaps you have a broken wooden chair. This may be perfect for someone to put in their garden with a flowerpot on it. Obviously you can’t make a lot of money on these items but you’re not filling up the landfills, you’re helping someone else out and you’re de-cluttering your house.
I like to find pieces of furniture on the side of the street and repaint them and sell them at my rummage sales!

I like to find pieces of furniture on the side of the street or cheap at rummage sales and repaint them and sell them at my rummage sales!

  • Make sure you price everything. I use the little stickers found in the office supply section of stores. They cost about $1.00 for a pack of 300. I hate asking people what something costs when I go to rummage sales. If they have nothing marked I usually just turn around and leave.
  • When it comes to pricing there are no real rules for this. It’s ultimately up to you and how much you feel something is worth or you can do some investigating online. Just keep in mind people who shop at rummage sales are looking for deals. I generally price kid’s clothes from 10 cents to $2.00 depending on the condition of it. People buy the extremely cheap clothes for play clothes and they are willing to pay $2.00 for things in good shape. Adult clothes are generally hard to sell at rummage sales. I also mark these very cheap (25 cents to $1.00). Remember you don’t have a fitting room and as a rule don’t allow strangers into your house to try things on. People are taking a chance that things will fit. They will take a chance if something is only a $1.00. For everything else price it according to how badly you want to sell it. Some of the bigger items that I desperately want to get rid of I price low to ensure it sells. Other things that I only want to sell if I get a certain price for it I mark high and may come down lower because people like to dicker at rummage sales. Keep in mind everyone’s views on the worth of an object is different. I once had a rocking chair for sale with a $40 price tag on it. A lady came and told me I was crazy and if I wanted to sell it she would pay $15. I told her I was firm on the price and she continued to berate me. While she was standing there yelling at me a man came and handed me $40 and took the rocking chair!
  • Mentally prepare yourself for rude and annoying people.
  • Make sure you really want to sell a particular item. I’ve had seller’s remorse too many times to mention.
  • You can hold your rummage sale anytime. Here in Wisconsin I usually try to have mine at the beginning of Spring. Avid rummage salers are eager to get out and start bargain hunting. I try for April but it is tricky to set a date due to the weather. You have to be flexible and jump on the first nice weekend you see. Summer rummage sales are easier to set dates for but you usually don’t get as much traffic. The most common days for rummage sales here in Wisconsin are Fridays and Saturdays. I once had a rummage sale on a Wednesday and it was my most profitable rummage sale day ever!
  • I start my rummage sales at 8 am. Mornings are very busy. Afternoons are usually slower and then it picks up again late afternoon. I usually close at about 4pm but will stay open later if I have a lot of people stopping. I once stayed open until 6 pm because it became so busy and I made the most money between 5-6 pm that day.
  • Consider getting other neighbors to have rummage sales on the same day as you. People are more apt to stop if there are a lot of rummage sales in the area. I have never done this because I hate commitments and breaking them if something comes up and I can’t have it.
  • Get friends and family to bring their stuff to your rummage sale. This gives your rummage sale more variety and items for people to pick from and more reason to come. Make sure that you put your initials on your sale stickers so that it’s easy to divvy up the money.
My mom likes to buy used children's furniture and repaint it. She then sells it at my rummage sales and makes a lot of money!

My mom likes to buy used children’s furniture and repaint it. She then sells it at my rummage sales and makes a lot of money!

  • Advertise your rummage sale. This is another thing I really don’t really do a lot of since I can’t always pinpoint when I’m having a rummage sale. I once put an ad in the local newspaper for $30 and it ended being a cold day with snow flurries. I still had the rummage sale since I paid for the ad. People still came to that rummage sale but I didn’t have a stellar day. I usually just put an ad on Craigslist the day of the rummage sale and put signs around my neighborhood. This works for me because I live in a busy area.
  • When advertising make sure you give a comprehensive list of what you are selling. If you just write “Rummage Sale” and give the date and address people will not be intrigued to come.
You never know who might want one hand painted bar stool!

You never know who might want one hand painted bar stool!

  • Make sure the items you are putting in your rummage sale are clean and well-organized. I always have children’s clothes grouped by gender and size.
  • To get people to stop it helps to have eye-catching, colorful things close to the road. I bought a flag pendant a few years ago and string it between two trees in the front of my house. I have big, bright colorful signs at the end of my driveway and some of the bigger objects for sale right up front for everyone to see. I also park a car in front of our house because for some reason it gives people the mindset that it must be a really good rummage sale if other people are already there (yes, you have to use psychology with rummage sales).
  • Have a plan for your children if you have any. Having kids and a rummage sale is a big pain in the butt.  Kids love to “help.” Sometimes this is more hindering than helpful. Since my first born was just little she has got to have a bake sale while I am running my rummage sale. This kind of helps. However, my middle son got banned from my rummage sale two years ago when he was 3 years old because unbeknownst to me he was walking up to all of the customers and telling them they couldn’t buy anything because it was our stuff. I kept wondering why people were putting down handfuls of things and walking away until a kind lady told me what my son was doing. Also, my kids get “seller’s remorse” and even though they originally told me I could sell a certain toy they end up hauling it back into the house.
My daughter's first bake sale at a rummage sale! She made a lot of sales!

My daughter’s first bake sale at a rummage sale! She made a lot of sales!

My son and daughter having a lemonade stand at one of my rummage sales.

My son and daughter having a lemonade stand at one of my rummage sales.

Another one of my daughter's bake sales!

Another one of my daughter’s bake sales!

  • The things you will need on the day of the rummage sale are a “sales table” for people to put down their purchases, plastic bags, newspaper to wrap up breakables, money to make change (people often come with $20 bills), paper, pen, calculator, extra price stickers, sharpie and tape (if you want to make signs on any of your items or tables).

 Rummage sales are a lot of work. There is no doubt about it but there are a lot of benefits too. I generally make between $200-$400 per rummage sale, de-clutter my house quite a bit and get to meet new neighbors and see ones that I haven’t seen for a while. Plus in a small way you are saving the earth and helping out people that may otherwise not be able to afford things if you weren’t selling them at your rummage sale!

Older Sisters Are the Dickens

Older sisters are the dickens I tell you! They are by nature…bossy, controlling and nurturing all rolled up into one pretty package. They are a breed of their own as far as I’m concerned.

My daughter, the oldest of my bunch, derived straight from this mold that I believe exists in the “oldest sister making factory.” She has all of the characteristics that I mentioned above. She can be scolding her little brothers one minute for acting like a bunch of hooligans and hugging and kissing them so sweetly after they’ve fallen and got hurt (from acting like hooligans) the next minute.

Now, the other key factor into being an older sister is you must, I repeat, YOU MUST make your younger siblings do many stupid things and catch it on film so they can be traumatized with it in later years. This is absolutely essential.

Here are some things that older sisters like to do:

Here is the first time Iris made Bency wear make-up

Here is the first time Iris made Bency wear make-up

She has also made him dress up as the Tooth Fairy many o’ times!

Dress them up in girl baby clothes...This is Cesar at 6 months old

Dress them up in girl baby clothes…This is Cesar at 6 months old

And more baby clothes...Cesar was such a good sport!

And more girl clothes…Cesar was such a good sport!

Put a flowery kerchief on their head is always good too!

Put a flowery kerchief on their head is always good too!

Yesterday, Iris decided that she no longer needed Dora the Explorer barrettes in her hair accessory box anymore….so she gave them to Cesar! Not only did he let her put them in his hair but he just loves them! He has wore them for 2 days straight now and if any fall out he requests that they put back in!

Cesar with Dora barrettes in his hair!

Cesar with Dora barrettes in his hair!

I know all about this older sister business because I had one of my own. She is 12 years older than me:

My sister and I

My sister and I

Since she was older she did even more elaborate things to me…like give me home perms! For heaven’s sake why didn’t my Mom stop her?!

Check out this gem dandy of a hair-do!

So yes, older sisters are bossy and controlling. They will do things to embarrass you…intentionally or not. But through it all they will be there to hug and support you when things get tough and will love you no matter what…even if you have been acting like a complete hooligan!

One Generation Away From Being the Side Show at the Circus

I am a shorty.  I stand at a meager 5 feet. Notice there is no inches. Just 5 feet. I have dealt with short jokes all of my life…”good things come in small packages…you’re not short, you are height challenged.”

Harde-harde-har!!

I’ve had numerous nicknames bestowed upon me but the most common was always “Little Melissa” because people needed to differentiate me from all of the tall Melissa’s amongst us. Besides being short, I was always chubby too so I guess being called “Little Melissa” wasn’t too bad compared to the alternative of “Chubby Melissa”.

My whole family is short, going back generations on both sides with my Mom as the mascot at a whopping 4’10’’. What we lack in height we make up with in the forms of spirit and charisma! Well, at least my Mom does, she is a little firecracker.

When I became an adult and started down the path of dating, my Mom once said, “Now Melissa, make sure you find yourself a tall guy. We have to get some height in this family because we are one generation away from being the side show at the circus.”

Nice, huh?! Of course she was joking (I think) and of course I would never gauge a potential suitor based on their height or lack thereof. No, I just wanted a nice guy. So I dated a lot of guys in varying heights and sizes.

And then I met my husband. He is 6’3’’.

On our wedding day my husband said, "I have married into a family of Hobbits."

On our wedding day my husband said, “I have married into a family of Hobbits.”

That is a total of 15 inches taller than me. By far, the tallest guy I ever dated and he is the one I went on to marry and produce 3 children with. Even though his height wasn’t the contributing factor in me picking him to spend my life with, I can’t help but to be curious how this will affect our children. Thus far, my DNA proves to be making a forefront in their height department. They are all extremely short for their age.

That is why I was excited when I found this link the other day:

http://children.webmd.com/healthtool-kids-height-predictor

You type in the mother and father’s heights, the gender of the child and their current height and age and it spews out the estimated height of what they will be when they reach adulthood.

According to these calculations my daughter is going to be 5’2’’, my middle son is going to be 5’9’’ and our youngest is going to be 5’11’’.

I was pretty excited about these results. I realize it could be a bunch of baloney because it comes from WebMD (they have diagnosed me with terminal illnesses for years even though I only had a slight pain in my elbow). However, these little pieces of information give me hope. I am going to quit worrying that my kid’s futures lie in the hands of the side show at the circus.

And well, if it is wrong…so be it. Everyone knows….good things come in small packages!

Weekend at Grandma’s

As indicated by the title I am sure you have surmised that my children spent the weekend at Grandma’s. This is in fact true. You may have also felt your mind wandering to the movie Weekend at Bernie’s and are imagining that my kids had one heck of party while they propped “dead Grandma” up in a corner.

Weekend at Bernie's...image courtesy of Google images

Weekend at Bernie’s…image courtesy of Google images

In past overnight visits with Grandma this is not that far off base. My husband and I pick up the kids late morning only to find a once very tidy house looking like a tornado has swept through. The children are running around like lunatics still in their pajamas and uncombed hair throwing Cheerios and marshmallows in the air and Grandma sits in the recliner looking like death warmed over in a comatose state.

Even though my Mom raised three children herself, we were all spaced out quite a bit so she never had 3 little kids running around. My kids are all small yet so they all demand guidance, supervision and some level of help. I am somewhat accustom to the demands and expectations that this involves but am not immune to the knowledge of the amount of work and exhaustion this brings. Through the years I have developed a set of guidelines I expect my children to adhere to at home so that things run somewhat smoothly. However, when my kids go to Grandma’s house all of these rules and regulations go out the door.

My children convince Grandma that food should be doled out every hour, there is no such thing as bedtimes, clothing is optional, every toy in the house should be taken out and cleaning up is not necessary. It’s not that my Mom doesn’t try to enforce proper behaviors but after a few attempts she just gives up when she realizes the effort it would take and comes to the conclusion that it’s only for a short time and her most important duty is to keep the children alive and let them have fun.

However, this past weekend was different. When we picked up the kids, the house was tidy. The children were sitting quietly playing toys in their clothes. The came and gave us hugs and began showing us the stacks of crafts and projects they did with Grandma. Grandma looked vibrant and youthful.

I think weekend at Grandma’s was a roaring success!

We arrived back at our house at noon on Saturday and unloaded the kids from the van.

The youngest had fallen asleep on the way home so I immediately brought him up for his nap.

When I came back downstairs I found a most unusual sight. My two older children who never take naps….were sleeping! All of the kids slept all afternoon and my middle son only woke up long enough to go up to his bed and go back to sleep until the next morning.

Iris asleep on the couch Saturday afternoon

Iris asleep on the couch Saturday afternoon

Bency just fell asleep on the floor

Bency just fell asleep on the floor

Apparently, even during the most successful weekend at Grandma’s there is still no such thing as bedtimes!

The Places I’ve Been

In my 20’s I was a frequent traveler. I was up for any adventure. Oh, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen are astounding. The following are all pictures I took on my journeys.

Some of the things were just right in my neck of the woods here in Wisconsin:

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Copper Falls in Wisconsin

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Me canoeing down the Wisconsin River

I also ventured throughout the United States to places like California, Washington D.C. and all over the south:

An alligator in the Everglades in Florida

An alligator in the Everglades in Florida

Key Largo, Florida

Key Largo, Florida

I’ve also been to Mexico:

an island in Mexico

an island in Mexico

children on their way to school in Mexico

children on their way to school in Mexico

I have also seen quite a bit of Europe and even had my own apartment in Venice, Italy for a bit:

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And then I met this guy. We fell in love.

My husband and me

My husband and me

This in turn started me on my grandest journey. The places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen are astounding!

The most astounding things I have ever seen!

The most astounding things I have ever seen!