Friday, January 10, 2014

When In Doubt, Bake

So, we are still in a holding pattern.  As of right now we really don't know much more than we did a week ago.  And that was that dad was admitted to the hospital with jaundice, off color "output".  A CAT scan showed nothing.  An ERCP scope to stent the valve between his liver and pancreas and take a scraping of cells from the valve showed no signs of cancer  after biopsy.  However a blood test showed his C19 levels (a mark for pancreatic cancer) increased.  Not off the charts but with all presenting together Dad's gastric Dr is fairly convinced it's pancreatic cancer.  He has been recommended to a surgeon in Albany to help diagnose and treat.  We head down Sunday for a Monday morning CAT scan and a meeting with the surgeon to discuss our options.

In an attempt to pave the way, as it may be, we have hit every Dr to get him cleared for any possible surgery so that we can hopefully get him on the schedule as quickly as possible.  We've seen his pulmonary Dr (check), his gastric Dr (check), his cardiologist (check) and his family practice Dr (check).  The only Dr left to see is his nephrologist and we'll hit him when we get back.  But the major ones have signed off on any surgery.

So, this week has been a lot of appointments and in between a lot of waiting.  I don't do well waiting.  Instead I have chosen to make myself useful by taking over pretty much all the cooking.  We've had steak and shrimp (per Dad's request), beef vegetable soup (in the midst of that bitter cold) with beer bread, chicken marsala, spaghetti (the way Dad makes it so he walked me through it),  stuffed pork chops and tonight was chicken pot pie.  All of which takes up my afternoon, but leaves me at a loss during the day if we're not hitting appointments.  In an attempt to stay busy during the morning, I decided to make a Walnut-Pear Sour Cream coffee cake.

I've made this before and now I remember why I don't typically make it very often.  As I told dad I believe I deserve congratulations are in order because I managed to do what I don't think HE has ever been able to do:  in the making of one cake, I managed to use an entire set of 5 graduated bowls.  And use them CORRECTLY.  

Because I've been requested for the recipe and since, if my thighs have to be big, yours should be too, I'm willing to share:

Walnut-Pear Sour Cream Cake

1 cup broken walnuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and sliced (about 2 cups)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1-8oz carton dairy sour cream
½ cup broken walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 inch spring form pan or a 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Combine  1 cup nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon (bowl 1).  For topping cut the 1/4  cup butter with 1/3 cup flour to make coarse crumbs.  Stir in ¾ cup of the nut mixture(bowl 2).  Set nut mixture and the topping aside.

Toss pears with lemon juice(bowl 3).  Set aside.  In a medium bowl combine 1 ¾ cups flour, baking powder, soda, salt(bowl 4).  Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat ½ cup butter with electric mixer for 30 seconds.  Beat in granulated sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each(bowl 5).  Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to batter.  Beat on low speed after each addition until combined.

Spread two-thirds batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture (without the butter).  Layer pears over the top.  Gently spread remaining batter over the pears.  Sprinkle with topping (with butter).  Bake 10 minutes.(  For a chunky top, sprinkle with ½ cup more nuts (I bypassed this and just baked it for 40 minutes then checked the doneness of the cake every 10 minutes ~50 minutes).  Bake for 45-50 minutes more or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove sides of spring form pan if using.  Cool at least 1 hour (yeah, right).  Serve warm with whipped cream if desired.  Serves 12.

In the end, it should look like this:
And yes.  It does taste as good as it works.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Five Year Circle

I started this blog almost 5 years ago as a way of keeping track of my thoughts regarding my dad's health and its impact on me as I headed back to NY for his heart bypass.  I never expected less than five years later, I would be back.  I'm just gonna say, a mid afternoon phone call on New Year's Day saying your dad has pancreatic cancer, isn't anywhere on my list of top 100 ways to start a new year.

So, a quick phone call (and a big shout out to Delta for getting me back to NY within 24 hours in the midst of one of the biggest storms to hit the east coast), a fairly "easy" trip with no surprises (for me) aside from a really ugly ferry ride from VT to NY and I'm at my dad's.  And the current news is that the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, might...MIGHT have been premature.  He had a scope procedure to place a stent in his liver/pancreas and a scraping was taken for biopsy as well as a cat scan and the biopsy and cat scan came back with no indication of cancer. HOWEVER, the Dr has said that he WON'T say that there is no cancer. He is sure there is something there, he's just not sure what it is.  Unfortunately, the internet isn't very optimistic with regards to pancreatic abnormalities.

Next step, consultation with a surgeon in Albany to see what they can do.  I don't THINK that they're looking at a Whipple Procedure (which involves removing a whole bunch of organs) but if they get in and find that which isn't there, then we might just be looking at that.  We talk to the surgeon on Monday.

What I am most concerned about at this point is the lack of urgency.  No rush on the biopsy report. No rush on chatting up a surgeon.  The only rushing going on has been me and my siblings hauling ass to NY.  My poor sister is on day 2 of traveling and we still don't expect her until tomorrow.  She had reservations from Seattle to Burlington via Detroit, thinking Detroit is more capable of dealing with snow.  She made it to Detroit to find her Burlington leg cancelled and ended up at LaGuardia via Cleveland, expected to leave LaGuardia at midnight only to find her plane to Burlington was sitting in Raleigh.  Put into a hotel at midnight, back in the morning to find her 330pm flight was again cancelled.  So, maybe tomorrow.  Fun huh?

Hurry up and wait.  Not one of my strong points.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When Push Comes to Shove

I think it is generally accepted that Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Stop and really ponder that.  How often have you let something pass because you just didn't want to get involved.  It wasn't your place.  You didn't want to make a scene.  Especially when it's something for which you will possibly be going against the accepted "grain".

I am in the midst of such a moment.  It hasn't played completely out as of yet, but the wheels are set in motion.

A couple weeks ago, my oldest daughter let it slip in conversation that her college prep writing teacher at the high school had viewed in class the unrated version of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" video.  I simply cannot post it here, but I'll wait while you do a google search.  It's out there for ANYONE to see. (Whether or not it should be is a topic for another discussion).  According to my daughter, they were dissecting the lyrics and the teacher thought it might be of some educational value. (as if the lyrics aren't explicit enough).  At any rate, I mulled it over for a while and I realized the my silence was eating at my gut and decided that it was time to shove back.

I chose not to approach the teacher on this because frankly, she had already made this autonomous decision and all that viewed the video cannot unview it.  I'm sure she rationalized why her decision was a good one and nothing I can say or do at this point would change her mind as to the appropriateness of her decision.  Instead, I wrote to the school principal, explaining the situation, giving HER a link to the video, and asking HER if she felt that this was appropriate material for children to be viewing in a high school situation.  I also expressed concern that my daughter would be subjected to criticism (which happened last year to a friend) for having informed me of the teacher's transgression (and make no mistake about it...I consider this complete lapse of judgement a transgression) and harsher evaluation especially when dealing with a subjective topic as writing. OH, because I sometimes become, let's call it overly passionate, I ran the email past my husband to make sure that I kept the focus where it should be. He approved and I THOUGHT I sent it.

This happened homecoming weekend and I figured that the principal would have her hands full with the game and dance so I didn't expect an immediate response.  After a week went by, I checked to see exactly what time I had sent the email and lo and behold, it was still in draft form.  So, I sent it a week later than I expected.  But I sent it. (Friday)

The first response from the principal came this past Monday.  She said she would talk with the teacher.  M...okay.  My question wasn't addressed to the teacher, but if the principal felt she needed to "get her side", then that's fine, but my expectation was that the principal respond to my question:  Yes or no...this video was/was not appropriate viewing material for high school students without their parent's knowledge or consent.  Today, I received an invitation from the principal to meet with the teacher, with my daughter and possibly the principal, to discuss this situation.


So, there is an explanation for showing a pornographic video in a high school classroom setting?  As a friend brought up to me, if a MALE teacher had viewed this video in class, would it have been as calmly accepted as it appears to have been with the female teacher?  Or would all holy hell be breaking loose?  I do not believe that there is ANY reason why this video should have been viewed in class, I don't care if it was a male or female.  Not this.  NOT EVER.

After speaking with my daughter, who didn't want to me to say ANYTHING about this to begin with, she said she most definitely did not want to meet with the teacher and frankly, neither do I.  I do not want to hear a teacher's rationalization why she though this would be of educational value.  Of all the "educational valuable" material out there, I'm guessing this would rank right down there with the in depth study of toe jam/navel lint.

She (my daughter) is also (still) concerned about the repercussions that will fall upon her IF the teacher learns of her identity.  At this point, I am holding out hope, since I expressed concern of the possibility of harsh criticism of my daughter by the teacher in my initial email, that the principal would show some discretion when speaking to the "a student and their parent have emailed me with concerns regarding a video that was shown in class", but I have no idea if she did.  Simply put, it does not matter.  The video was inappropriate.  EVERY student should have told their parents and their parents should have responded in a like manner.

So, no.  We have no intention of meeting with the teacher.  And sadly for my daughter, I have no intention of dropping this if the principal fails to respond and actually answers my question (IS THIS APPROPRIATE? If not, own it, fix it and make sure it never happens again).  My next stop will be the school board, although I suspect the reason I haven't yet heard back from the principal is because they are frantically looking for a way to deflect the situation.  From there, the news and blog world will be the next stop and then all possibility of anonymity (if it even existed) goes down the toilet.

I don't care about it for myself, but I am concerned for my daughter.  She is having a stellar  year this her senior year and I would really hate to see that derailed because *I* had to prove a point.  And that point is, when did pornography become part of the high school curriculum?  Is it possible that class time could be better used than by showing titillating videos in class to adolescents?  When and more importantly WHY does education need to sink to this level of perversion? Back to Burke, is this evil?  No. But it is morally and ethically wrong and to do nothing is giving implicit acceptance.

Do I wait until the schools are bringing in actual people to have sex on desks to object (yes, this was college, just  one short  year away from where my daughter is now)?  Or is there educational value in that as well?

Seriously. If not me, who?  If not now, when?

Friday, September 20, 2013

By Request

My husband keeps telling me that people at his work are tired of seeing the "Icky" post and that I need to post something new.  But I have a conundrum...HOW?  No. Seriously. HOW?  It's been over 5 months since my last post.  How do I just jump back in?  Don't y'all want to know what's been happening during that time here at the Ruff homestead?  C'mon...I know you do.  That's why you're here.

So, what I have decided to do is a pictorial review.  I'll attempt to keep the captions to a minimum, only if something needs explained.

Annnddddd....away we go...

Picking up back in early May.  THIS showed up in my garage:
I made an attempt at blogging about it, but decided discretion was the better part of valor.

After the snow stopped (yes in May) and in between bouts of drizzly rain, I planted commercial gardens. Like this:
Not often you get paid to play in the mud.

With rain frequently comes thunder.  Yes.  I caved.
No, it doesn't work.

Due to the snow and cold rain, we were late looking, but find we did:
Moving into June, me, the husband, my middle daughter and my son's girlfriend headed to San Antonio for his graduation from Basic Training.  The girlfriend was a surprise as he didn't know she'd be there.  First time he saw her was when he marched out to take part of the Honor's Ceremony.  OH, did I not mention that he 1.)was an Honor Graduate, 2.) and his flight  (TRS 324/Knights)graduated Warrior Status (akin to Honors) and 3.) was awarded a ribbon for Small Arms Marksmanship.  But his first glimpse of the girlfriend was when we were seated right in front.  So it amazed me that he remained "stoic".  I saw the eyes though... the eyes, they smized (ANTM):
That's him.  Dead center.  But this was the best.
The next day was a bit more formal.
Then the graduation ceremony.

We learned it is not at all easy to find a 6 ft tall blonde (like it mattered) young man in a sea of 6 foot tall young men all dressed the same.  We were able to eliminate the young men of color (racist) from being our son, then the young men with glasses (opticalists...yeah, you know what I mean), until we narrowed the group of 400 down to about 300.  But we found him.

The boy was headed off to Tech School in VA and we headed back to MN as we had dance recitals to attend.  Yes.  Multiple.  If we wanted to see all her dances.  Dancing to MN Style (take off of Gangam Style):
June seemed to FINALLY get warm and look what we were able to do:
If that young man looks AMAZINGLY like the one you probably thought was in VA, SURPRISE...IT IS.  There is a whole story about this and if his mother blogged, then you'd know it.  Suffice it to say, we "lucked" out to have him at home all summer.  And since he happened to be home for his birthday, he asked for Twins tickets.  We made a night of it:

The Fourth of July was spent at the SIL's cabin on Bay Lake.  And we lucked out with a beautiful weekend.
The oldest daughter took an interest in boat driving:
My  husband surprised me with tickets to the Basilica Block Party to see Matchbox 20 and the Goo Goo Dolls.  We hit Stella's first:
Then the Basilica:
As if that wasn't enough music for one month, we hit up Lakefront Days with a group of friends...arriving in style:
                              Photo: Here we come Firehouse, Warrant and Brett Michaels.
Then watched Warrant, Firehouse, and Brett Michaels ROCK.THE.HOUSE.

I also got an opportunity for a couple girls events, one being a wine tasting down at Chankaska Winery in St. Peter:
ANNNND now we're into August and we ALWAYS start out August with Derby Day's activities. The Taste of Shakopee, followed by Johnny Holm band Friday, followed by "the run":

Then the post run "reward":
Then off to the shoes tournament (where the boys weren't on their game):
Sunday was the parade:
Followed by a back yard clam bake:
C''re jealous right?
As summer started winding down, we managed to get an adult trip out on the boat and enjoyed a FABULOUS sunset.  As if it was put there just for us:
And if we thought that was the finale, nope...Mother Nature decided to bless us with a blue moon:
After living in Shakopee 16 years, we had yet to hit Canterbury Race track until now:
Of course, the ending of the summer means the beginning of school which means sending the boy back to school.  Apartment living this time, so a bigger load haul back to Fargo:
September began with some milestones.  The middle daughter...she's doing this:
Yes...a drivers permit.  SHE thinks it gives her SWAG.  Or adds to her SWAG.  Or something.

And the youngest daughter, she complained for months about not being able to see.  It appears that she really couldn't see.  Who knew? (well aside from her)
We didn't get to the State Fair, so no BINGO this year. STATE FAIR BINGO. Since we went to the Renaissance fair instead, we, well, let's just say we adapted:
Yeah, yeah...I know.  So very politically incorrect.  But that's how we roll.  Besides, I'm thinking there are about 50 things "politically incorrect" about this:
That picture above?  That was posted from the husband's new, 21st century smartphone.  Galaxy 3.  When you and your flip phone become a Jeopardy question at the monthly QA meeting at work, then it's time.  I dragged him kicking and screaming. take it away and you'll see more kicking and screaming.  I think he likes.  You're welcome Sweetie.

Then school started and I can prove it:
                          Photo: One senior (digging that this is the last time she'll  have to pose)  one freshman  and a 7th grader.   The senior doesn't need to be in until 11 but she likes her cinnamon roll hot. #priorities
The middle daughter celebrated 15 with a birthday breakfast with more SWAG, or something:
I canned 100 lbs of tomatoes which was 50 quarts of spaghetti sauce:
And to top off September, we went to Rocktember at the Grand Casino in Hinkley.  What, you're asking is Rocktember?  Well, let me share:
And even if it happens to rain, well, if you're with the right people, frankly, you won't give a sh!t.  What do you think?  Yeah.  Me too.
                            Photo: Rocktember baby!..where is your poncho Al?
So.  There you have it.  You're all caught up.

Now, I'll see what I can do with keeping you caught up.

Friday, April 26, 2013


That's what this year has been for my 6th grader.  Icky.  While I remember my other three kids having the occasional issue around this age, I can't recall it being THIS protracted.  Seriously, this has gone on since the beginning of the school year.

Lest you think I am not aware of my kids' idiosyncrasies, and how they relate socially.  Don't.  I get it.  I especially get it with my youngest.  She's the one who has had the most freedom, mostly by virtue of being the youngest.  As parents, we are entering into the equivalent of "senioritis" with regard to parenting.  So, yes, we've been lax.  But I'll  be honest and say that I'm not sure exactly where or how that fits into her experiences this year.

She is at a 6th grade center.  ALL of town's 6th graders go to one school then next year they will be split up into one of two junior high schools.  I thought this would be a good thing as it would give her the opportunity to expand her friend base.  Up until this year, she had one friend, pretty much from birth, one really good friend from school and a couple of girls who were in a more popular clique where she would SOMETIMES be included, but that seemed to wane at the end of last year.

Within the first month of school the friend, from birth, apparently had taken up with a new friend and openly mocked my daughter on the bus, in earshot of other people but behind my daughter's back.  One of my middle daughter's friends, who had NO dog in the fight, passed on what happened and the middle daughter  texted me and said she was going to put a stop to it.  Now, given the contentious relationship my youngest two have, I actually saw her desire to stand up for her sister as a good thing but I also know that in confronting these girls, she would be seen as the aggressor  so I asked her not to.  Yeah, well, THAT didn't happen because as I have mentioned here, and here, and here, oh, and here, my kids don't always listen to me.  So, she confronted on the bus and said, "talk smack about my sister and you'll deal with me".  Is it actually possible to be horrified and proud at the same time?  No threat, just that she has her sister's back.  But here's the kicker (and you just KNOW this was coming right), first  they LIED flat out about mocking her, then they ran to the principal of the 6th grade center and reported my middle daughter for bullying.  And thus began my frequent visits to the principal's office.

LUCKILY, the principal is about the most awesome principal that there could ever be.  EVER.  He moved from the grade school my youngest three attended to the 6th grade center and I am well acquainted with how he works.  And as he has seen me volunteering frequently at the grade school, he knows I am an involved parent.  Which made this first meeting much easier than I would have expected.  We both put this down to a somewhat bad experience and hoped this would be the end of it.  Oh, it hasn't always been these same two girls.  And I'll be honest, some of this is on my daughter.  She wants to be in with the popular girls and simply put, they don't want her.  She's that kid who will do whatever they want of her, thinking it is her way "in" only to be disappointed over and over and over again.  And most of it has taken place out side of school.  She'll make plans with one of the girls only to find herself ditched while they all get together without her.  And I GET how she needs to own some of this, but some of this behavior is just plain ICKY.  Like calling a girl and having them pretend they don't know anyone by her name.  SERIOUSLY?  I'd have preferred that they had taken a much more honest but possibly brutal approach and said, "we just don't want to be friends with you".  BTDT.  I have the battle scars.  But it makes you evaluate what about them you were drawn to.  Was it popularity?  Was it common interests?  Or was it simply convenience.

My last trip to see the principal was the most harrowing.  We were back to the bus girls and apparently they had (all) been online with each other (KiK) and one asked my daughter if she considered suicide.  Then they brought it up on the bus.  THEN, oh so coincidentally, a note was left in my daughter's locker saying "kill yourself".  THAT.VERY.SAME.DAY.  She didn't take it to the principal, the principal just happened upon her when she found it and SAW her reaction.  You can't fake that.  Not the timing.  While the principal said he would investigate the note, discreetly, I said let's just see if this will go away on its own.  Then he brought up this point:  If HIS kid had placed the note in her locker, he would want to know.   I had to agree.

But I don't think most parents these days DO.  Want to know, that is.  I think most parents want to bury their heads in the sand about their kids' activities, which is why we have so many problems with this generation of children.  NO culpability.  Parents refusing to accept responsibility for their kids' actions.  HECK, parents refusing to accept that their kids MIGHT actually NOT be the little angels they think they are.  

No, I haven't heard anything further on the note although circumstances point to who is responsible.  For now, it's water under the bridge.

The next event was a sleepover with a newer friend.  The child got dropped off and the girls immediately hit the hot tub.  My husband came home and he took the girls to the Y so they could go swimming.  They were home for maybe half an hour when my daughter came to me in tears saying  her "friend" wants to go home because she's bored.  I was STUNNED.  Literally.  I had the girls come to the kitchen table and attempted to teach her friend how to play the card game golf, and while she played, she also spent the whole time texting.  I was never so glad to see a parent as I was to see hers, to get her out of my house.  The parent is lucky my husband was not there as he had some CHOICE words for the parent.

The latest incident with the youngest involved a birthday party she was invited to.  She came home on Wednesday with an invitation, written on notebook paper, for a sleepover on Friday night.  Of course, as a parent, the invitation was a giant red flag, but she assurred me that EVERYONE got their invitation on notebook paper.  But they got theirs earlier in the week.  I quelled that icky feeling in the pit of my stomach and said, yes, she could go.  Then Thursday she was told she was DISINVITED to the sleepover, although she could still come for the early part of the evening.  WHO.DOES.THAT?  And yes, this was "the popular" girls.  We found an alternative activity for her and she called and thanked the girl for her invitation but declined.

Seriously, it has been a whole year of this.  At conferences, I spoke to her teachers to see if THEY see some issue with her that I'm not seeing and they all seem somewhat baffled because she seems to get along well with most of her class mates.  Her biggest issue is that she is too concerned with what is going on around her (well, DUH) than she is with her school work.  But relationship wise, they don't see it.

And I don't know if a lot of what she is relaying to me that happens in school is exaggerated for my benefit (although truthfully, the only thing that I THINK is exaggerated is that ALL the boys at school hate her), or if that is how she actually perceives it.  Either way, it's not a good environment for her.

Now I'm struggling with what exactly are our options.  I've done a cursory look at some charter schools but the deadline for those that COULD work for us was in JANUARY.  For next year.  And I'm not sure if running away is the problem.  But this is such a tough time for kids this age.  I'd consider home schooling but I simply do not have the patience.  Yes, this is MY character flaw (one of a great many I assure you).  Plus, she is a child who CRAVES social interaction.  I don't think online opportunities would be a good solution for the same reason.   

So, yeah, this school year has been ICKY.  ICKY. ICKY. ICKY.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Fifteen years ago today, I lost my mother to brain cancer.  It was a Wednesday (don't ask me why I remember the day) and we were all just headed out the door for dinner when the phone rang.  And I knew before I answered it.  Not because I was expecting it, but I just KNEW.  My world tilted as my sister relayed the news that the cancer on her brain stem had shut down all her involuntary reflexes, coupled with the radiation having destroyed her immune system. And she was gone.

Unfortunately, with most people who have cancer, you have to accept that losing them is a very real possibility, so it wouldn't be fair or accurate to say it was unexpected.  But her death was proceeded by a series of events that one would never choose (if you even could) but makes sense when you look back in retrospect.  I was pregnant, and due April 10.  I miscarried in early September.  My parents came out in October.  My mom's medical issues were identified in December, shortly after I became pregnant again.  In early January, my parents suffered through a horrific ice storm which knocked out power for a week (in upstate January) and caused massive damage.  The actual diagnosis of brain cancer didn't come until late January.  She went through radiation in February.  I flew home in mid March, helping my dad cope with the repercussions of the radiation.    My dad and I came up with a plan to get her eating and drinking (she was suffering dehydration). She seemed to bounce back and was excited about another grandchild (I was about 4 months along).  She had plans to do some crocheting for the baby.  When I left after a week, I thought things were going well.  My sister was due to arrive in another week and I thought my dad could cope in the interim.  When my sister arrived, things had taken a decided turn for the worse, the cancer was growing again and was radiation resistant.

Sometimes the game of "what if" is hard to avoid.  What if I hadn't miscarried?  Would I have been released from my Drs care to return to NY to spend that last week with her?  Would I have been able to attend her memorial 4 states away?  No one ever enjoys having to choose between equally horrific circumstances, so maybe there is a reason why we don't always have to.  If you're willing to dig for it.  To this day, I consider myself blessed.  Blessed that the series of events had allowed me to have that last week with my mom.  Where we were able to talk and plan and I cherish that time.  Deeply.

I actually gave the eulogy for my mom at 4 months pregnant and having traveled 900 miles by car to do so.  It wasn't easy either because my mom wasn't "typical".  Or maybe she wasn't what I would define as "typical".  My mom came from a kind of "git'er done" mentality that didn't really  reflect the Carol Brady persona I wanted her to be.  She was the type of person (with my dad) who let us make our own mistakes and forced us to live with the consequences.  They would tell us, "we will come and pick you up any time, any where.  Except jail" and I have to tell you, that sticks in the back of your mind when you are evaluating 'do I really want to'?  And not surprisingly NONE of us have ever gotten CLOSE to a jail.  Go figure.  With them, no meant no. I recall being hit once, at about 14, for being completely disrespectful and completely deserving it.  Mom was the type of person who nudged.  She nudged you in a direction and let you figure it out.  She was supportive in the way that a foundation of a house is supportive.  You know it's there, keeping things right, but you don't really pay heed to it.  And I think that's the way she wanted it.  I acknowledged all of that in my eulogy.  And I accepted that I am who I am because of who she was.  I think she would be proud.

So, goodbyes are never easy. Even when there expected.

Tomorrow I get to do it again.  This one has been scheduled for 3 months, so I knew it was coming.  My oldest and only son leaves for basic training for the Air National Guard tomorrow.  Lest you think that I am the least bit upset over him serving his country, don't.  And yes, he went away to college last fall without much ado, but this is different.  This is where I fully expect my son to become a man.  Fundamentally changed without my input.  That's HUGE.  He also is making a sacrifice.  He's taking time away from his education to do so, and with the sequester in progress, uncertain if the promises made to him for that sacrifice will be fulfilled.  I've explained to him that even if they do not come through with the tuition assistance that was promised, he still needs to look at his service from a character and integrity standpoint and be proud  to serve his country.  He understands and agrees.

Still, doing all the right things for all the right reasons doesn't make it any easier saying goodbye.  Yesterday in church, we've been in a series called Fearless and yesterday's message was on the Fear of Challenges.  The pastor spoke of fear and faith (the story of Peter stepping out of the boat at Jesus's command to walk on water).  When you fear, look to your faith.  Don't gaze at your circumstances and glance at God, but keep your gaze on God and glance at your circumstances.  Because with faith, God will handle your circumstances.  So that's what we did.

And now I'm holding onto Jeremiah 29:11:
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

So, tomorrow I'm going to paste a happy face on and drop my son off at the airport.  With my mom in my heart,   I'll say goodbye to him and hold onto the knowledge that I'll see him in 4 months.  And I'll keep my gaze on God.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chrisapalooza 2013

This is gonna be a long one because I'm gonna cram 12 fun filled days of 'Palooza into one post, so if you need to take a potty break or grab a cup/pot of coffee, do so now.

I had this idea for the twelve days (given his birthday is on the twelfth) while I was down in the Dominican Republic and I thought I had enough ideas that I could round out the rest.  Yeah, well, there's always a weak link in a plan and that was mine.  First, I should have written them all down so I knew what I was doing and when and THEN worked around the thin spots.  Second, never, EVER count on "we ship immediately and you will receive within 5-7 business days", because, if you count on that, it ain't happening.  But, I perservered an YES...I made it to all 12 days.  Yeah, you can call some of the gifts "lame" or a stretch, but there was something.  Also, the Chrisapalooza notes are to be done to the cadence of the 12 days of Christmas.  I should get extra points for that.

So, onward.

Day one started out simple.  His favorite candy (and he's not a sweet guy): 50  Reeses Peanutbutter Cups.

Day two was a bit of a stretch.  I went with a Captain America (as memory served*, popular in the 1950s).

Day three was the movie 50/50, which we haven't seen, although a comedy about a guy dying might seem a little perverse, that's how we roll.

Day four was a 50 minute massage.  Yeah, I know people who know people.

Day five was fifty brussel sprouts.  Yeah, I know, that might seem lame, but he loves them and I rarely make them (HOWEVAH...I happened to find a recipe for them roasted with bacon and toasted pecans in a maple/balsamic vinegar glaze....YUM).

Day six (and only halfway there...surely you grasp that this was no easy task by now) was 50 minutes at an indoor (HELLO?  It's MN. It's WINTER) golf range.

Day seven I proved my purchasing prowess by setting a goal of not spending more than $50.  And for that $50 I was able to procure 5 new sweaters for casual wear that he can pair with his new "boy jeans".  LOVE Macy's and Herbergers clearance racks.  Just sayin'.
 Day eight had me doing the scramble.  Because that gift I had ordered from online with "assurance" it would be there in time, wasn't. So, recalling a recent conversation regarding the "best coney island dogs EVAH" and the friends who suggested that we add this to our bucket list, and the opportunity to add it and cross it off in one swell foop...well, that was a no brainer.

 THIS was the bonus coming home.
 And yes.  They were the "Best Fu@kin' Coney Island's in Town".

Day nine involved a trip to the meat counter, some stunned looks on butcher's faces, the "a--ha" moment when they GOT what I wanted.  A cut to order 50 oz piece of top sirloin.  Oh, they delivered.
We wrapped up Day nine and Day five in one evening.

Day ten was a "want" and I couldn't figure out how to relate it to 50.  So I didn't.  He wanted a running watch.  Ask and ye shall receive.
Day eleven involved some clandestine phone calls to the in-laws in search of pictures from his first 25 years.  I was able to come up with the last 25 years.  They delivered.  And I delivered.  50 years of pictures of HIM. (And I'll be honest...I think this is THE BEST one because, at least for the last 25 or so, I managed to hit most of the highlights of those years.  Marriage, kids, vacations, things he LOVES to do, boating...)
And finally, Day twelve.  The big one.
You are welcome to count, but yes, there are 50 bottles of wine there.  Many we've had, many are new.  I don't expect they'll last very long.  But that's what there here for, right?

We finished off Chrisapalooza by attending the All Night Grad Party's Wine Tasting, which was a fitting end.

Seriously though, I'm spent.  That was WAY more difficult than I envisioned it would be (as I was sitting on a beach in DR drinking my rum and coke).  I'm glad I pulled it off though.  Ideas are always the easy part, it's the follow-through that is work.

*memory=that of someone who wasn't there then, nor had any interest until the movie Avengers, probably isn't the most reliable.  So you can call it a stretch.  I did.