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I Belong to You

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I felt a little awkward wearing a bright red t-shirt that day even though everyone else in the family was wearing one.  When we walked up to the front to greet the rest of the family, we sort of made a ruckus.  A lady in a pew behind us reminded us that people were trying to pray.  We simmered down and were good even though we were excited.  We waited for this day for a long time and were happy that it finally arrived.

Towards the end of Mass, the priest approached the front pew where we were sitting and announced to the congregation that someone was celebrating their 100th birthday.  Grandma stood, turned slightly and waved, as Father introduced her.  Father asked us to sing Happy Birthday.  Grandma smiled, and the rest of us couldn’t help but smile right along with her as we were very proud of her accomplishment.

After Mass was over, we went to the family reunion.  Groups of people trickled in.  Some brought Polish food.  The first presentation was poppy-seed bread.  A cousin made six loaves the day before.  Then the polka kielbasa made an appearance followed by Aunt Mary’s homemade sausage.  I had no idea what the ingredients were, but it tasted fabulous.  The beet and horseradish condiment tasted great with the different sausages.  Then the cabbage rolls were ready to eat!  I got a lot of exercise going back and forth, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from getting full.  As if that wasn’t enough, a caterer set very large rolls, pasta dishes, salad and more desserts on the tables.

As people visited with each other and made a point to see Grandma, I thought about how Grandma had been such a great companion to me and the kids when I was a stay-at-home mom with three small children.  We tried to visit with her at least once a week.  She went to the park with us to help me push the kids in the swings.  Other times we visited the library to get books for the kids and Grandma got some too.  Visiting the mall was fun especially when Grandma announced that the kids could pick out one special toy.  Just as a grandma should, she always made sure that we had cookies or some kind of treat to bring home with us when we parted ways.

The day I married my husband, I was blessed with two Grandmas.  They both treated me like I belonged to them.  That made me happy because I never got to meet my biological Grandmas because they passed away before I was born.  I didn’t know what I was missing until those two wonderful ladies warmly welcomed me into the family.

As the party started to wind down, I sat down next to Grandma.  I like the way she always holds my hand when we first talk to each other.

“Hi, Grandma,” I said.

“Hi Mary Ann.”

“Are you having a good time?” I asked her.

“I’m overwhelmed by all the people.  It’s so nice how they all came to talk to me.  I just wish that my husband could have been here to see everyone.  He would have really liked this.  Sometimes it was a little hard to figure out who belongs to who.”

“Well, I belong to you!” I said.

“That’s right,” she agreed.

A while ago, I asked Grandma what her secret was and how she got to live to be the age she was then.  She said, “Don’t eat the same foods every day.  Be sure to eat something different.”  But I know it’s more than food.  It’s her attitude.  Once she told me, “When I feel down, I ask myself, why?  I don’t have a reason to be.”  Last Christmas, Grandma remembered it was my first Christmas without my Mom, and she said, “I know it’s hard, but you just have to look forward to all the fun things that are coming your way.”

One of my favorite things that Grandma said when someone told her that she spoiled her grandkids was, “If I don’t spoil them, who will?”

If a person can get spoiled by their Grandma’s love, then that makes me rotten!!!

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The Adventurous Ones!

Katie & Me on a Bench Somewhere in Rocky Mountain National Park
When we visited Estes Park, Colorado a few years ago, Dad, Laura and Matt decided to be adventurous and go on the gondola ride.  Since Katie and I are not ones for rides, we decided to go explore the shops instead.  After we saw the rest of the family off, Katie and I headed down the path and we talked and talked while we walked and walked.  We chattered enthusiastically because we were secretly happy that we didn’t have to go on that ride, and we told each other all about it.

There was not much activity going on where we started on our way.  We walked by many houses that were along a dirt road.  One other lone walker was right ahead of us, and we slowed down because we didn’t want to pass him up.  Suddenly we both realized that we didn’t know where we were going.  We thought that we were heading towards the quaint shops, but it turned out that we took a wrong turn at the very beginning.  Even though we had driven through the town many times before, I knew we had been on this road.  It would have been better if we would have taken a right instead of a left, just like Dad told us.

I was disappointed in myself that we went the wrong way.  Not only did I feel like a bad Mom who wasn’t paying attention, I knew that we would hear about our getting lost from the adventurous ones later on.  It was yet another confirmation to me that I was not born with an internal compass.  This idea is difficult for those who do have internal compasses to understand.  They cannot fathom that people like me do not automatically know the direction by where the sun is sitting in the sky or that we do not have some connection with gravitational forces like they must.

Panic started to set in a little.  First, if I knew that we were going to be going on such a long walk, I would have worn tennis shoes instead of flip-flops because my feet were starting to hurt.  Second, if I knew we were going to get lost, I would have paid more attention to where we were going in the first place.

Our feet got grungier and grittier, but we finally came to a spot where we could turn.  About the time we tried to connect with the rest of the family was about the time when we thought we were on our way to the shops.  We dialed numbers that kept on ringing.  When we didn’t get an answer, we decided to enjoy the scenery on the way and discovered that the quaint shops were not where we thought they were.

After many lost phone connections and directions of ways to go from the adventurous ones, we found our way to the Super America Gas Station where we met up with the rest of the family.  That’s where Katie and I got a Coke and called it a day.

There were more days left to discover the cute shops, but that day it turned out that we made an adventure of our own.  Even though we got lost, we saw lots of sights that we would not have seen if we thought we knew our way!

Cute Shop!
We were glad to make it back to the cabin ~ this wasn’t the cabin we stayed in though!
When we were all together again, we stayed that way, and explored Rocky Mountain National Park as one happy family!
We made sure we stayed together on hikes.
I made sure I wore my tennis shoes!
We were glad to see beautiful streams!

We drove up high into the mountains!
Luckily, we only saw one wild animal!
Don’t let people drive you crazy when you know it’s in walking distance. 
~Author Unknown

Sand, Birds and a Manatee!

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I dreamt about sand days before we left on our trip and
imagined the warm sun shining down to sparkle on the waves.

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A sand sculpture of an eagle greeted us on our first walk on the beach.
We admired all the shells that had been gathered to make this creation.

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A blue heron investigated our hangout.  He didn’t squawk at us like he squawked at the birds.

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The beautiful hibiscus and other flowers were a welcome sight!

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When it was time for a dip in the pool, the blue heron was there to welcome us again!
In the above picture, he’s perched on the corner of the roof that protects the table and chairs.

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A bird made a nest close to a beautiful home.

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Seagulls gather, not wanting to be disturbed.

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Manatee

A manatee snorted a hello while he slowly traveled
about the harbor munching away on his green salad.

Many of the resorts on the islands of Captiva and Sanibel, Florida offer activities for visitors.  People can:

  •  Sign up for sailing lessons;
  •  Go parasailing;
  •  Reserve a fishing guide;
  •  Go on tours by boat or enjoy nature guided tours; and
  •  Rent bikes or Rollerblades (just to name a few).

We preferred the sand, birds and searching for the manatees.  The pelicans entertained us by skimming along the top of the calm gulf water together in their flock.  Some days the dolphins made an appearance by flashing their fins through the waves.  A fisherman pointed out the different kinds of fish that could be seen from the shore such as the lady fish or the fish that had markings like a zebra that was probably a striped bass.  We swam “laps” in the pool in the late afternoon and dried off at our hangout in the sand.  There are many shops to buy souvenirs nearby, and the restaurants made sure that we got our fill of shrimp, grouper and snapper.  We also found places that serve chicken wings and burgers!  Thankfully, we discovered that Latte Da is the place to go for a raspberry chocolate chip ice cream cone.

Now that we are all rested up, we’re ready to welcome the Christmas celebrations!  The lights on the islands showed us that they are ready too.

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The sand in our suitcases reminds us of the fun time we had!

Empty Nesters Still Nest

“May I help you find something?” the saleslady asked.

“Yes, do you have any Lazy Susans?” It was my first time in a long time shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I had been to this store a very long time ago and decided that I should stay away from it then because I thought it was expensive and frivolous. That was back when I was a stay-at-home mom. Now I am practically an empty nester.

“I think we have some over here.” I followed her over to all the kitchen gadgets. “What will you be using it for?”

“To organize vitamins and aspirin in my cupboard,” I said. I thought back to the day when my daughter, Katie, told me that I should really organize “that cupboard.” I felt like I looked at her funny when she told me that because she is not always so very organized.

“They are called turntables now,” the saleslady told me with a swift turn of her head as she looked back at me.

“Oh.” I was happy she told me this because I didn’t want to go around saying Lazy Susan all the time if I wasn’t using a popular term and not being up-to-date. Some Susan somewhere must have started a movement against derogatory name calling on behalf of herself and her fellow Susans. Obviously, I didn’t hear about the revolution.

“I ask because we have several types of turntables. I think this one here will best suit your needs. The other types of turntables that we have are wooden and very large.”

The plastic turntables were stacked on a shelf and came in two different sizes. There was a larger single-shelf turntable and a smaller one with two shelves. I wondered out loud if there was a larger double-shelf turntable.

“I will go check our stockroom,” she said. I hadn’t seen such great customer service for a while and I was definitely impressed.

I wandered over to the wall that contained all sorts of utensils. My friend, April, told me about her pineapple corer, and I found one and put it my basket. A bright yellow banana saver screamed “Buy me, buy me.” I don’t know how I managed to live without these items for so long!

“I couldn’t find the larger type with two shelves,” the friendly lady reported back to me.

“Thank you for looking. I think the smaller one will work just fine.”

I found a nice cotton blanket on clearance and headed for the cash register. The cashier greeted me as if we were long-lost friends! While heading for the exit, I spied a wire shelving unit that looked like it would fit under the bathroom sink and help us find things easily. I knew I would be back soon.

When I got home, I piled up old medications in a bag to toss at the local pharmacy and found a new home for my Lazy Susan turntable. Every morning I turn the table and easily find my daily vitamin and fish oil that will hopefully help me remember to say turntable, not Lazy Susan.

The next week when I was in the checkout line at Marshall’s, sitting there, just for me, was a double-shelf turntable. I picked it up and bought it with my new socks. The moment I got home, I organized the shelf that holds the peanut butters, oils, vinegars and honey.

Since the two youngest kids left for college, I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning. This is good because when you clean you might find your kid’s old forgotten bag of Halloween candy sticking to a shelf and wonder how long it’s been sticking there! You also might forget about wondering why your kid is not always so organized.

Empty nesters still nest, but I didn’t think I’d be emptying the house this way!