Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For This Year: Herman Cain, the End of "Twilight" and Matching Socks....

'Tis the time of the year for Thanksgiving.  And even when times are hard and sometimes it seems like there's nothing to be thankful for..I am hoping to provide you with inspiration and hope for the holiday season.

This year, I am thankful...

10.  That Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries did not procreate.

9.  That I am not Dovahkiin Tom Kellermaryer's  kindergarten teacher.  (That's right, folks.  The parents named him after a character in a video game so that they could get free video games for life.  For crying out loud...have some pride.  My kid's not named Bud Light for nothing.)

8.  That on August 23, 2011 after taking a load of laundry out of the dryer...all of my socks matched.  It was 5:03 PM.  I'll never forget it.

7.  That Herman Cain has given Saturday Night Live something to work with.

6.  That Twilight has finally hit dawn.

5.  That producers are finally talking about The Real Housewives of Fargo.  (Incidentally...if that doesn't sell, DIY is talking about picking it up for Disaster House.)

4.  That Kate Middleton might be pregnant.  (And personally I hope that means she starts craving Twinkies by the case.)

3.  That pepper spray apparently now comes in large pressurized canisters so that you can spray people just for the hell of it.

2.  That Al Roker is starting to hit his breaking point.  Could be sunny and 70 with zero humidity in New York and he still looks pissed.  (By the way...Willard Scott is sounding slightly annoyed about reporting the birthdays of 102-year-olds who are 30 years younger than he is.  "Al gets the weather...and I get...SMUCKERS?  WTF?")

1.  And the number one thing I'm grateful for...

anyone who had the patience to read through this list of news and non-news.


love to you all

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Whew. Another Birthday Behind Us. We Made It.


We made it.

Another birthday has come and gone.

We spent the weekend in a way that I thought you would enjoy:  Eating junk food, watching movies, and visiting you up in the mountains.

It's strange how I've come to think of your birthday as almost my Widow New Year.  Even though other milestones have happened since the anniversary of your death, I always think of your birthday as the beginning of the next year of milestones.

And now we've celebrated our 5th birthday without you.

Hard to believe, isn't it?

So much has changed.

She's so beautiful and independent.  Today when we threw rocks in the stream, she broke off from the two younger ones, ready to do her own thing.  I guess that's something I should start preparing myself for.  Creative, smart, and never one to give in to the girl drama at school...I know you'd be pretty damn proud of her.

He's so smart...half the time I don't even understand the questions he's asking so I'm completely ill-prepared to give him the answer (Google-ing has become an every night activity).  I know he wishes he had the parent around who would help him take things apart to see how they work...rather than the one who sighs with impatience at the mess he's created.  Sweet, mellow, and the kid who has most of the moms at school saying to their sons, "Ask him over for a play date"...I have a feeling part of his brilliance later in life will be quietly creating trouble and not getting caught.  Just like his dad.

And her.  The one you got to know the least.  Fierce.  Funny.  Fiercely funny.  Her personality matches that wild head of hair and she insisted that she wear her pink cowgirl boots today.  She's in ballet now, but I have a feeling that it won't be too long before she discovers that she can't be contained in a light pink leotard and tights.  She's already passed all of her requirements for school this year and spends a lot of her time socializing and making a little mischief.  Sound familiar?

And me?  How am I doing?

Well, this year was easier than last.  There was less fear of your birthday looming before me and not as many tears.  I think I've spent more time recently looking ahead than glancing behind.  Life has had its hiccups, as life does, but they haven't derailed me as they would have in the past.

Going to the cemetery on your birthday will never be something I get used to and every year I wish we weren't doing it.  I brought you your usual beer and the kids stared at me and laughed as I toasted your headstone, took a sip, and then poured the rest on you. 

It makes me feel good that they are learning that grieving in an unconventional way is sometimes the best way to go.

As I took the pictures today, I couldn't help but wonder what was the point.

But then I realized I wanted to pretend, just for a second, that I was coming home to show you pictures of the kids and let you in on what we're up to.

And I guess in a way that's what I'm doing.

But in my heart I hope that you're always with us.

And that you already know.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dealing With the Mother of All Milestones: My Grief...It Is A-Changin'....

So, I feel like there is plenty of gloom and doom on widow blogs and, usually, as milestones approach, I’m one of those widows who’s gloomin’ and doomin’.

But not this year.

I always think it’s important to write about the things that we’re all trying to overcome because it usually makes at least one person out there sigh with relief and think, “Thank God it’s not just me.”

But as milestones approach, I know that some widows out there read these blogs with a little apprehension because they’re only a year out and the person writing is 10 years out, still talking about how hard Mondays are because that’s the day of the week her husband died.  And it worries the “newbies” because they’re still just trying to remember to put on deodorant in the morning and they live in fear that they'll still be that way in a decade.

I’ve never hidden the fact that my husband’s birthday is usually the hardest day of the year for me.  I have been known to go completely crazy, cry, yell, wallow, break up with perfectly nice people, and generally go around the bend for a good month before it happens.  November 19th is right before the holidays get into full swing and usually by the time it’s done…I am in no mood for eating turkey, being thankful, or yuletiding a few weeks later.

Last year was more of the same.  I dreaded it, feared it, and generally just wanted it to go away.  I have spent the last 4 of my husband’s birthdays, creating a “Daddy Day” for my kids, taking them out of school for a day of junk food and frivolous activities…with a trip to the cemetery up in the mountains where he’s buried thrown in for good measure.  Of anything I have done, trying to raise my kids in theWiddahood…this is what I’m most proud of.  Daddy’s birthday is nothing to dread (for them) and something to look forward to.  Sure, they don’t have a dad like everyone else…but everyone else doesn’t get to have a Daddy Day.

So for one day out of the year…we can one-up the rest of the “normal” world.

I usually spend the day holding back tears and trying to curb my crankiness while they run around on a sugar high and thank God for a Dad who gets them out of school one day out of the year.

But this year has been different.

It’s the 5th birthday he’s been gone…and I don’t feel all of the crankiness.  I’m not feeling the usual build up.  It may be hard that day…but I can honestly say that I feel pretty good right now.  What has been most interesting to me this year is that I now know that my kids really do understand the significance of that day.  Before I was trying to do so many things to distract them while also trying to commemorate the day (we do all of the things their dad enjoyed doing) and I really didn’t think they completely understood what it all meant.

Silly, Mom.  We’re getting older and we’re not as clueless as we might seem.

My son has a birthday party on Saturday in the middle of the day.  And at one point, he really considered not going.

“Am I going to miss Daddy Day?”  He asked.

“No,” I said.  “We’ll just go get pizza, let our balloons go, and maybe go to the movies that night when the party is done.  The girls and I won’t do anything without you.”

“But what about going to the mountains?”  He asked, looking concerned.

“Oh sweetie, we won’t have time to do that on Saturday since the party is in the middle of the day.”

Long pause.

“Do you want to go on Sunday?”  I asked.


I was pretty damn proud of us all that moment.  That I had created a day that we can spend together doing something as a family…my husband would have loved that.  And that, 4 years later, beyond the pizza, the bowling, the movies, or whatever else we might do…that the most important thing about Daddy Day to his 7-year-old son is that we go and visit him…even if it means missing out on a birthday party.

On my husband’s 39th birthday, our 5th without him…I can honestly say that life is good.

That the kids are thriving.

That every time one of them accidentally lets a balloon go when we leave Red Robin…there are no tears because it means it’s going to Dad.

That even though he died when they were just babies…they seem determined that he will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 Retreat: Tennessee's Band of Merry Widows

Ever since I left Retreat in Tennessee, I’ve been thinking about how to write this blog.  I actually thought it would come easily because so many things happened over the weekend.  But then I realized that this weekend wasn’t just a “story”….

It was an experience.  

I’ll be honest with you…I actually thought the weekend was shaping up to be a complete disaster.  After planning this retreat so easily (it seemed like everything I needed just fell into my lap…the Inn, the coach for the Saturday afternoon session, dinner reservations…everything), all of it seemed to start unraveling just a couple of days before.

A blizzard hit Denver and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get out.  It was raining like crazy in TN, making it impossible to put together one of the activities I had planned on.  My luggage got lost.  To the amusement of the workers at the Tri-Cities Regional Airport, I got into the wrong rental car and was frustrated when I couldn’t get my key to turn (yes…I AM that flaky).  And then upon arriving at the Inn, I received the message that the coach for Saturday’s session might not be able to make it…because her husband had been in a car accident.

Which put the blizzard, rain, luggage, and silly rental car experience into perspective.

At this point, I just let it go.  It occurred to me…who understands things not going quite as planned like another widow?  And I decided that instead of harping on the little petty, annoying things that had happened…I was going to have the great weekend I knew was possible.

On Friday, the clouds cleared and the sun came out.  My wonderful coach that I had booked found an amazing woman to back her up.  And the attendees for the retreat started trickling in.

You have to understand…it takes a lot of guts to do something like this.  To book a weekend with a group of strangers and just take the leap of faith that it will all work out (and that you won’t have to have your friend call in with a “sick cat” story to get you out of the weekend), takes a tremendous amount of courage.  But another thing you have to understand is that the people who are coming…it’s a special group.  They’re the kind of people who just might take that leap of faith with you.

And you can’t get better than that.

We met for dinner on Friday night at a little place that served amazing Cuban food.  The group started warming to each other and by the time everyone sat down with a glass of wine in front of the fire in the parlor of the Inn, I thought I heard something.


These strangers suddenly started laughing and talking as if they’d known each other for years.  Confidences were revealed, memories were shared, and our upstairs neighbors were awakened.  By the time we made it to our “ice breaker” activity the next morning…we had not only already broken the ice…

…we were swimming together.

Things that we had never admitted to anyone were met with understanding nods and sympathetic tears.  Difficult times and happy memories intertwined until they meshed together into one, big story of our lives.  Determination seemed to be the running theme as we all decided together that our widowhood would not be our ultimate defining experience and that life is out there…just waiting for us.

Together we figured out that the only thing worth regretting in life is not eating an entire pie when you have the chance.

That widowhood can happen to anyone, at any age, but then again…so can life-long friendships.

That only another widow will not even blink an eye when you explain how you know your loving husband visited you from the great beyond…because you got a whiff of an unexplainable cow patty in your yard.

That wishes have the ability to fly.

To my Band of Merry Widows from Tennessee…last week I thought of you as “attendees.”

But now you’re friends I will never forget.

Special Thanks To:
Maria at The Eureka Inn
Linda Poland with Positive Solutions

And our wonderful, unexpected photographer (and Daughter of the Year) who took our group shots:  Carolyn Bild

Monday, November 7, 2011

Just in Time for the Holidays....The Sky Mall

Just in case some of you are starting to have that pre-holiday panic about what to buy your loved ones this year...I have some suggestions for you.

Now, this is what happens when you are sitting on a plane in the middle of the night, knowing that you don't have the attention span for a book.

That's right.

Sky Mall.

So here you go, my friends.  Just a few things to get you thinking about what the people in your life might like.  (It might also make you glad that you are not on my shopping list for the holidays.)


For those of you who have had the life-long dream of talking with your elbows, allow me to present to you...

...The Frog Hoody.  Now, he's looking pretty proud in this picture and I'm starting to wonder how much Lithium she had to take before she put that on and started flapping her elbows. each their own.  (Just an FYI...these also come in Triceratops, Meerkat, Bear, Gecko, Dragon, and T-Rex.  I just didn't want you to not get it because your sister isn't a "frog" kind of person.)

Now, because I've noticed lately that it's just plain TACKY when my dog drinks out of the regular toilet...I have decided that this might be the answer:

It just drives me nuts when I hear her lapping it up in the bathroom.  I would much rather this be on the mat that I have for her in the kitchen.


You have no idea how much I wish I had had this while the kids were getting toilet trained:

Yup.  The Grim Reaper Bath Tissue Tyrant.  Because nothing says "you better wipe thoroughly" like a decomposing toilet paper holder.


So I was cleaning my cat's litter box the other day and it suddenly occurred to me:  "WHY don't I have a plant on top of this????"  You can imagine how relieved I was when I came across...

The Hidden Litter Box.  Now I don't have to worry about my cat's unsightly litter box!  No one will ever see it under the fake ficus tree planted on top.  GENIUS!


And finally (and golly...I hope my mom's not going to read this because it will really spoil the surprise I have for her)....

The Bigfoot Garden Yeti Statue (is that redundant?  Any Yeti experts out there?).  This statue comes in several sizes and really says "welcome" to any home.  As it says in the Sky Mall catalog:  "...our more than two-foot-tall Garden Yeti Statue will have guests doing a double-take as they admire your creative decor style!"