Thursday, July 27, 2017

Get Your Stuff and Leave...Please

My shift at Target last night. Where do I begin?

I had a grapefruit thrown at me. I told the customer I wasn’t doing a comedy routine, so there was no reason to be medieval. I jokingly berated him in front of the other customers and we all laughed. The grapefruit really slipped out of his hand and headed my direction but I told him I would greatly embellish the details of our encounter. (I did, in fact, have a guest throw a package of men’s underwear at me that he intended to purchase. He seemed to think it was okay to catch me off guard by hurling his future undergarments at me. I did not think it was okay.)

A young man was in my line purchasing a few items, which included a box of strawberry Pop Tarts. I commented, “Cinnamon Sugar and Strawberry Pop Tarts are the only acceptable flavors of Pop Tarts. Period.” He laughed and replied in a British accent, “Oh really? I have never had one, this is my first.” I gasped, “Well getting ready to have your eyeballs vibrate!” He laughed some more, revealing a most impressive set of snaggly teeth. They were clean but I have never seen teeth the likes of his. I then asked him how long he had been in America and what was the coolest or craziest thing he had seen or experienced. Without hesitation, he said, “The portion size.” I laughed and felt a twinge of embarrassment for my country and then said, “Welcome to America, land of the free and home of the obese.”  I hope I made his Target experience a memorable one.

An entire empty tube of toothpaste was found in the grocery section. When an employee brought it up to the customer service counter to ask what should be done with it, she also told us her theory about why it was there. She was convinced someone had eaten the toothpaste in the store and left the tube behind. I theorized it was probably brought in by a guest to remember which toothpaste they were supposed to buy and then left behind because they were not very considerate. I couldn’t convince my co-worker the toothpaste had not been consumed.
A young lady I work with said she didn’t think I was old enough to have been with the same guy for the last fifteen years and have two kids. She said I looked much younger than my age. A few minutes later she said I was the happiest employee working for Target.

A lovely lady was buying about twenty bottles of Sinful Colors nail polish for a Sunday school lesson. I pointed this fact out to her and she laughed all the way out of the store.

Our security guy told me he always knows when I’m working, even if he can’t see me, because he recognizes my laugh.

The second to last customer of the night was walking up to the register after the overhead lights had been turned off. She insisted we stayed open until eleven because another Target in the area did. We assured her our closing time was ten o’clock. She didn’t seem to understand I needed to scan the two items she was purchasing. She was holding onto to one item, sanitary pads, continuing to examine the package. When I finally did get her item into my hand, she noticed my wedding ring. She was VERY interested in it. Usually when someone notices my ring, they just compliment it and move on. This woman wanted to inspect it like a jeweler. I started to get uncomfortable.

When her transaction was complete, I went to hand her the receipt. Without realizing it, I must have touched my face first, scratching it or adjusting my glasses, I honestly don’t know what I did. She then told me she has a thing about germs and people’s faces and she requested a new receipt. But she still took the first one that had my face germs on it. Then she crumpled it spreading more of my face germs on her hand. When the new receipt printed, she didn’t want me to hand it to her. She reached over the counter to fetch it. But wait, there’s more.  I proceeded to help the last customer. I didn’t hear or see her say to my manager that she needed to use the restroom. The last customer was a super nice guy and saw everything that went down with face germ lady. She was just one of those peculiar people that makes the shift interesting and he understood.

As I wished him a good evening, germ face lady came back to the register and requested a refund for the opened package of sanitary pads she had just purchased. She then proceeded to tell my poor manager, in detail, about how this product did not fit her bladder needs. My manager was very polite and returned the purchase. Apparently, this guest is notorious for being rude and returning purchases immediately after completing the transaction. She was a real peach, let me tell you.

So, the shift ended on an odd note. But the night ended on a high one. When I said good night and that I would be back on Saturday, my boss was thoroughly disappointed we wouldn’t be working together. Every time I think I am going to call in to work and say I can’t make it, but then I go anyway, my ego is stroked and I must go back for more of that sweet validation. Yes, I am the Chanhappenin’ Target lady. Remember, we close at ten.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

She's Been Here for a Decade

She came into this world ten years ago and smiled right away. She has changed our lives in the most amazing ways. 

She has a tremendous capacity for empathy. Her heart is so big, but 'big' seems like such a small word to describe it. She hurts when there is injustice. 

I made a charm out of this picture and I always wear it on her birthday.

She loves her brother and fiercely protects him, when he isn't driving her crazy. Her wit makes me laugh harder than I am expecting. 

She has been forming friendships, that increase with value to her, everyday.
She has been physically growing into a young lady this past year
and it has been difficult some days, awkward on others. 


She is learning she can trust mom and dad with embarrassing questions. My God, she asks the best questions! Sometimes I am completely thrown off guard by her level of curiosity. Sometimes I am just overwhelmed that she is asking about such adult topics. But I am glad she feels safe to ask them. 

Her artistic talent and the imagination that fuels it is astonishing.
I am trying to not underestimate her. 

She has been the best big sister from the moment Jack arrived.
I caught a sweet moment where she was helping Jack brush his teeth.

She has days where she forgets to make good choices and it is hard for us as parents to not lose our cool. We are definitely guilty of that.
But we also have to remind ourselves that she is still learning and her maturity, while ahead of her peers, is still in a kid's body. 

I love this caught off guard moment. She was brushing her hair.

Lastly I have to say, she is stunning. I know I am her mom, so I must be biased, but seriously, she is gorgeous! She has a style all her own and I adore it so much! I am happy to oblige helping her discover her personality by expressing herself through her appearance. It's part of growing up! I am relieved she has so much confidence. On the days it is shaken, I am glad she turns to me for encouragement. I am so incredibly blessed to be Rylee's mom.
I am thankful to God for bringing her to us!

This is definitely in my top five favorite photos I have taken of my beautiful daughter.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Not the Best Date, Not the Worst Either

Today I had to go to my doctor for my post-op check up, it's been a week since my surgery. I was terrified. TERRIFIED. I had not been this scared of potential pain since I fell on some asphalt when I was a kid. I knew my dad would be merciless in his endeavor to thoroughly clean my wounded knee, to avoid infection. It was last night I realized there is another level to asking for help that is hard. I wanted someone with me at the appointment and I wanted that person to be my husband. It should be a given that he would be there, I mean, he is the only other person that wants Cysty Spacek gone as much as me. There's the obvious reason he wants her annihilated and the less obvious. The lesser reason being he doesn't handle Jack's terrible two tyranny as well as I do. Maybe I am just more accustomed to the temper tantrums, I do spend all day with him. After lots of intense Jack time, I think John is looking forward to a full day at work! I know my husband has really felt the impact of my absence, even though I have just been downstairs in bed. It's felt at dinner time too. I don't cook amazing meals every day but I at least get dinner on paper plates or unwrapped! It's felt when there is milk to be bought and the cupboards are looking a little bare. I do the grocery shopping, I run all sorts of errands. He has had to work twice as hard since I have been out of commission. 

So I didn't want to ask him to take more time off of work just to hold my hand. I didn't want to press my luck. I didn't want him to feel guilty if he had to say no. I tried to tell him I would be fine. It wasn't working. I knew driving would be painful. I knew Jack wouldn't want to be in a stroller inside an office. But I just couldn't bring myself to ask for help. As I was trying to relax (very unsuccessfully) and watch TV last night, it hit me. I need to say the words and speak what I want and need. I burst into tears, again, and said, "Will you please come with me?!" John looked confused and replied, "Uh, I thought I said I would." He had. But I felt this urge to actually say the words, actually ask for myself. I was being passive aggressive, something we both hate. I wasn't meaning to be, I just didn't want to ask anymore of my husband than I already had. I felt like a wimp. Did I really need him to be there to hold my hand? You bet your sweet bippy I needed him to hold my hand! 

Today, I got up and read my Jesus is Calling book. (Calm down Mom, I read it more often than you think.) The first line of today's message said, "Peace is my continual gift to you." It hit me in the gut. I pray for peace all the time, hello, I have a toddler! I sometimes think when we are asking God for help or peace or grace, we reflect on how often we don't pray and then we worry God will deny us the peace we are seeking because we don't pay enough attention to Him. Uh nope. That's not how it works. 

He says in Hebrews 4:16 (I didn't look it up, it was on the page.) 
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

He purposely gives us peace and grace when we ask for it, instead of a constant stream of it, or we would become self-sufficient and not come to Him! I know right, mind blown. 

(Uh Jessica, your subconscious mind here. Just want to let you know that you just quoted scripture and have mentioned God a few times. You are running the risk of turning people away and possibly losing friends.) ~~~~ Yup, I understand. Thanks for clearing that up. I kind of feel like it's not worth worrying about your observation right now. If anyone reading this doesn't feel it's the right view for them, that's totally cool. I'm just feeling really good about the personal growth I have been experiencing these past few weeks. I'm digging what Jesus is laying down for me and there's no reason to be weird about sharing it! Am I going to start quoting scripture all the time? Nope. Not my style. Am I going to start telling people how they should be dealing with their own problems.? Nuh uh, that sounds like a bad idea. Will I be open and honest with anyone that wants that wants to talk to me about anything I have written? Duh, of course I will! 

So, if you are still with me, I will finish up with good news. My appointment went very well! I didn't experience any pain because the doctor didn't need to poke or prod or pinch or do anything to see I am healing nicely! Whew! What a relief! I'm so glad I didn't have to break John's hand while he held mine! If I knew it was going to go that well, my rational brain says John didn't need to be there. But my heart says he did. I needed to be a big girl and ask for help. I am glad I did. 

The longer I have been married, the more I realize it's easy to see how much we actually stop needing our spouse for support unless it's something big, something traumatic. We rely on each other to carry the load of every day tasks, like trash, laundry, groceries, dinner, diaper changes, homework, cleaning. We know we can do all those things on our own but it sure does make life easier with someone by your side helping of course! My thought is that I should be doing all the day to day stuff to bless my family, not just because it needs to be done. Today I needed my husband to be my friend, to hold my hand, and to shut out the rest of the world. He did that. He kept me calm. He made me laugh. He always knows how to make me laugh when I need it the most. (Side note, our friend, Julie, offered to watch Jack while we went to the appointment. That took a lot of stress off my shoulders and allowed John to focus on supporting me. The bonus, we found out when we went to get Jack? He slept while we were gone! Dude, that just doesn't happen! He loves playing at Julie's! I was so relieved she didn't have to put up with his crankiness!) It was almost a date with my husband, almost. Not how I like to romance my hubby. I prefer to avoid a paper sheet across my nether region with another woman talking about my hoo-ha to get us in the mood to play kissie face. We did, however, get to each lunch together without a kids menu and crayons being pushed off the table. Oh and I felt closer to my man after all of it, so yeah, it was a great date indeed! 
We sat next to each other like dorks because we could.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cysty Spacek's Demise

I'm not one for getting too personal on Facebook. I try to keep my posts light hearted, fun, loaded with pictures, and occasionally informative. I don't intend on changing my routine. I have been through something pretty intense this week and I felt that maybe if I shared it, it might help someone out if they feel alone in something they are going through. I really don't want to post this just for attention. That's not my style. (I feel like I have said this before. Sorry.)

On Monday the 11th, I had surgery to remove my left Bartholin gland. It's been giving me trouble the last three years. Many trips to my doctor and one trip to the E.R. while I was pregnant with Jack. A cyst developed a while ago and it was time to have it exorcised. In the midst of the swelling and pain, I texted a few friends and asked for name suggestions for the nasty beast that was making my life quite miserable. I thought humor might make the problem seem smaller. My friend, Robin, never fails to make me laugh with a sense of humor that is so clever and always leaves me in stitches. No pun intended. So, henceforth, the fiery development growing inside me was aptly named Cysty Spacek. I won't gross you out with details. Just know, this b*tch has caused a lot of havoc and even led me to endure THE MOST PAINFUL PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. Not exaggerating.

Um, I don't actually want to say this but I think it would be best to mention what a Bartholin gland is, to save your eyes if you decided to Google it. Women have these glands in their vagina. These glands produce lubrication during sex. There, I said it. We're all adults right, we can handle what I just explained? 

Here I am, day six of recovering and still in a fair amount of pain and lots of discomfort. (Two sets of stitches, one way inside and one in a most unpleasant place.) My husband has been very helpful and very patient. (I can't sit normally or stand for too long.) I have received phone calls and texts asking how I am and wonderful get well wishes. That has meant so much to me! My neighbor, Brandi, took Rylee to the park and it helped me by having one less kid to take care of for an hour. I even received a basket of Ghirardelli goodies delivered to my door from Mindy! Then, last night, Julie brought me See's candy and Sour Cream & Onion Pringles. It sure does feel good to be cared about!

I realized something about myself today. I never want to be thought of as lazy. I love to lounge and chill in my jammies, just not for the amount of time I have been this week. I love lazy Saturdays but not when the weather is gorgeous and I could be walking at the arboretum or the zoo or anywhere! I don't like feeling lazy when I am really just trying to get well again. My body needs to heal but I feel guilty for laying down when I could be getting groceries or making dinner or creating some art! I think, as women, we have pressure put on us by society to always be on. We know we're strong, so we always have to prove it. We also put pressure on ourselves and forget to cut ourselves some slack. I have been trying to give myself a mental break all week and it hasn't been working. I realized today that part of my struggle has been feeling really alone during Cysty Spacek's reign of terror. I don't know anyone that has experienced this torture. I know there are other women out there that have dealt with this problem but I don't know any of them. So I started telling myself I was whining about my pain just because no one else could moan with me. Isn't that how it goes with any of the junk we deal with in our lives? We feel isolated and think we must be crazy for feeling that way, since we don't hear anyone else complaining? Of course I like to add guilt on top of my misery. Like, "C'mon Jessica, don't be such a baby! There are far worse things people deal with every single day. At least you can go to a doctor for help! What about the families with no health care? What about the people starving and their kids?!" Before I know it, I'm pushing myself to move when I shouldn't because I feel guilty about not helping anyone else. I'm not trying to paint myself as some sort of amazing person here for worrying about others. I'm hoping that what I am sharing resonates with you, so you don't feel alone. 

Hi, my name is Jessica, and my toddler ate at least two boxes, possibly three, of fruit snacks this week, all while the TV was on and his iPad was on too. Yes, he had fruits and vegetables, in the form of squeezy food pouches he should have outgrown by now but since he's extremely picky about food, I have to get him nourishment somehow. He also enjoyed dry Honeycomb cereal for the first time because I didn't have the energy to say no. I don't even know what my nine year old daughter has been up to (besides playing Minecraft) because she is capable of making her own food. I have been relieved when she only wanted cereal for dinner. 

I know I will recover, it might actually take weeks from what I've been reading, but I will recover. I am getting better about asking for help and letting people do nice things for me. I feel guilty about that too. I don't know if this whole mess is just so I can learn how to let go of control. I never thought I had a problem with always needing to be in control, until now. If that's the case, I will definitely work on it because I really don't like being in a position where I am worried my cause of death will be from sneezing. Good grief, this is not the time to have allergies! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Jessica in Wonderment

How do I describe the kind of day I have had? I can tell you it ended with me crying in front of the computer some of the happiest tears ever. It started off smoothly when I took Jack over to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum​ for a few pictures. I was behind on taking his two-year portraits. He smiled and posed all on his own. He was such a ham and it was perfect.  

© 2Js Photography
Headed to Costco and after loading my groceries, I turned to put my cart away. The woman parked next to me was also done loading her car and she said, "I'll take your cart for you, I have kids, I know what it's like." I told a perfect stranger, "I love you" and I'm not ashamed of it. That moment when another human is helpful and nice for nothing in return, so refreshing!
© 2Js Photography
Went to Caribou for some iced tea. When I pulled up to the speaker, I heard, "Weeeelcome to Caribou! Tell me what you want, what you really really want!" If you know me, you know I answered as everyone should when greeted with such a great attitude, "I'll tell you what I want, I really really want a mango black tea!" I got to the drive-thru window and he said, "You're so giggly!" I replied, "It's because you are making me happy! I wish every employee in the world could do what you do!" He pointed to a tattoo on his arm, it was a smiley face but the eyes were a semicolon. He said, "You gotta be happy through hardship, I got this to remind me of that." Then he noticed I had a tattoo. He joked, "You should have gotten that in Comic Sans!" I laughed and proceeded to briefly tell him about my tattoo. It was a family thing and the font was the Royal typewriter font, which was the typewriter my brother had. I told the barista my brother took his life over two years ago. That's when he pointed to the semicolon. I let him know I knew what that meant. He smiled and we just didn't have to say anymore. We wished each other a pleasant day and I drove off. As I left the parking lot, I realized that was the first time I talked about the loss of my brother to a stranger. It wasn't weird or uncomfortable like I figured it would be, if it ever happened. I felt relieved and a small weight had just been lifted off my heart.

I was driving home, Jack was happy and we were rocking out to music. This is the part where I feel like life is too good to be true and something is about to go wrong. And then I got mad at myself. Why do I always feel the other shoe is going to drop? And who came up with that weird saying?
Yes, life goes up and down, but just because it's going up for a moment or two or three, doesn't mean it's going to crash. Good moments are good. Bad moments are bad. They aren't related. You CAN have one without the other.
©Tracy Schuffenhauer
Then I get home to find out the Minnesota Zoo​ announced the winners of the photo contest. My daughter just happens to be in the grand prize winning photo. Have I already mentioned this today? Yes, yes I have. I think I am more excited because it wasn't my photo. If it had been my photo, I wouldn't want to brag. But because I didn't take the photo, I'm okay with mentioning it again. (I'll probably tell some people on the street about it too. Would a billboard be too much?) Sorry if you're already sick of reading about it. I won't mention it again. The zoo will though, for the rest of the year. Those gorgeous eyes are going to be gazing in wonder on the zoo wall.
The Grand Prize winning photo of the 2015 Minnesota Zoo Photo Contest!
"Rylee in Wonderment"
©Tracy Schuffenhauer
And then there's another moment with a stranger that must be recognized. I have, on more than one occasion, taken a photo of a perfect stranger because I saw a moment that needed to be captured. I have then walked over to that person or their parent, showed them the photo and asked if they wanted me to email it to them. I have given them my info and told them to email me if they wanted and I would pass the photo along. When I met Tracy, the lady that took the photo of Rylee (that won the grand prize) in the butterfly garden, I was a bit frazzled. It was pretty warm. I was sweating. I had to carry Jack because they didn't allow strollers and I had to keep assuring him the butterflies were not dangerous. He was freaked out by them and it was hard not to laugh. Rylee kept calling for me to look at all the beautiful butterflies she was spotting, while Jack wanted down and then up and then down and then up. When the butterfly landed on Rylee, it landed on her back first. I snapped a photo and then it went to her nose. Tracy was right there and asked to take Rylee's picture. I was relieved because it was such a fun moment and sure enough, I had just run out of space on my smartphone for another picture. I couldn't carry around the big camera with Jack in my arms. We exchanged emails and chatted for a bit. I told her how fun it was to meet someone that did the same thing as me! She was the perfect amount of friendly.
©Tracy Schuffenhauer
A day or so later, the emails started coming through one photo at a time. Tracy had captured several amazing photos of Rylee and that gorgeous butterfly! After the fourth picture, Tracy asked if it would be okay to enter one of the photos into the 2015 Minnesota Zoo Photo Contest. Then she asked Rylee to pick the photo. All three of us happened to like the same photo. The rest, they say, is history.
©Tracy Schuffenhauer
I feel like this experience with Tracy and the photo contest is the fruit of all those times I have talked to strangers. All those encounters that resulted in a smile on my face because someone was nice enough to chat for a moment. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm taking credit for anything in regards to the winning photo, that was all Tracy. I just feel reaffirmed in my belief that it's okay to assume the best about people. Not every encounter with a stranger is going to result in a picture perfect moment, some won't even result in a smile. When those moments come where I have the chance to listen to someone's story or share a laugh while ordering food or give a compliment to an employee or learn something new in a craft store, I will let myself be open to the possibility those moments may change my life. An even crazier thought? What if I change someone's life just by listening?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

My Place in History

Nine years ago at my Aunt Rita's wedding, my Aunt Chris, bestowed upon me, my grandfather's and grandmother's picture albums/scrapbooks. She said because I was the oldest grandchild in our family, it should be left to me. Their photos should be my responsibility. I was floored. I guarded that photo album with my life on the plane ride home. (I have since been told the photos are in good hands with me because I value them so much.)
My grandpa wrote, "My first vehicle."

I have been looking at these photos almost every other week ever since they came into my life. I realized I could do something amazing with these photos and be able to share them with everyone in my family! I could scan them and load them up on a DVD and make as many copies as I wanted. I could email them and I could make prints! Granted, there's a lot of photos, I have two kids, and this task is taking me way longer than I like.
My grandmother, on the right, with two friends.
Look at the fashion!
Just out for a bike ride.
My grandmother is on the left.

As I have been so honored to have these photos in my possession, I have come to realize I have a mission now. I have never felt a sense of purpose in my life that drives me everyday to finish what I have started. I know now that it is my job, my duty, (hee hee hee, duty) to be my family's biographer/historian/genealogist. It hit me like a ton of bricks about a month ago, I NEED to make a family tree. I need to give a family tree to my kids. I need to give them the information about their ancestors that I should have asked for when my grandparents were still alive. I was too young to know that I should have asked more questions of them. I should have asked them about their childhoods, there favorite teacher, their fondest Christmas memory, their first love, their first job, and what they felt when I was born. I was selfish and didn't know any better, how could I?
My grandmother, look at that fashion statement!
Part beach bum, part gypsy!

It occurred to me I have been documenting my life in such a way that I have been trying to leave all the information I can for my kids. When I am gone, I don't want them to have to wonder about where they came from for the rest of their lives. I don't want them to have questions about me that can never be answered. I have been saving pieces of my life for as long as I can remember. With the technology in photography these days, like digital cameras and smart phones, we have the capacity to document every single minute of everyday from here until the world ends. Sure, that has it's pluses and minuses, but I am going to attempt to snap all my pictures for fun and posterity.
Playing or trying to keep her balance.

I have also been fortunate to have in my care, John's family photos. I have helped go through my late mother-in-law's stuff and help my father-in-law and sister-in-law get rid of junk and in the process we have found treasures! Old photos in Jean's (my mother-in-law) wallet, birth announcements, and photos of my in-laws before they knew each other. Now I am also scanning photos from the other side of the tree!
Probably a bit of both!

Last night, I couldn't sleep, so I started scanning photos again. I was going through a few of my grandpa's pictures and a few of my grandmother's. (My grandpa developed his own photos for a long time, how cool is that?! He definitely had an artistic side to his photo taking.) Even if I were to inherit gobs of money, these old photos are worth more than gold to me. My grandmother, and I know technically that's who she is to me, but I frequently call her my mom's mom. I didn't know her. I knew my grandpa and I knew my grandma, my dad's mom, that was it. It seems strange to call my mom's mom, my grandmother. Last night, as I was looking at photos of my mom's mom, I kept getting tears in my eyes. She was gorgeous! (My Aunt Rita looks just like her!) She was always smiling, she looked so happy! She looked fun. There are pictures of her next to her friends, her sister, and then my grandpa. Oh how I wish I could have known her, not met her, known her. I have been told she was instantly loved by all those she met. (I know my mom is like that.) And then that's where I feel selfish. How can I long to know my mom's mom, when my mom didn't know her? She passed away when my mom was five or six. And that's when I get a lump in my throat because I can't imagine my life without my mom.
My grandfather, Robert John Wendell.
Everyone call him Bob, except us kids of course.
My mom's mom was obviously sophiticated and classy.
The only upside to never having met her is that she remains perfect in my mind.

My mom doesn't like to be in pictures. I get it, but I tell her she doesn't have a choice. The pictures aren't for her. The pictures are for me, for my sister, for my kids. My mom won't be around forever, I won't be around forever. Pictures help us keep our memories alive. I truly believe kids in the coming generations will have better memories, earlier memories, and hopefully more vivid memories of their childhoods because of all the pictures being taken. I hope to add something extra to those memories by giving my kids a family tree. Then I hope because I have taken the time to do that, my kids will ask questions of their grandparents and other family sooner than I thought to.
This could be my Aunt Rita!
It's my grandmother!

I know my purpose in life now. It's not a noble quest like being a doctor in an impoverished country, or an anonymous philanthropist, but dang it, I'm excited. I feel like I have a confidence and sense of self-worth because I know my parents. I have a great relationship with my parents. My parents are there for me and always have been. Both my parents had something severely lacking in their relationships with their parents. Because my mom never really got to know her mom, I think my mom missed out on something important that I know I have because I got to know my mom.
My grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Orr (Wendell)
Everyone called her Bess.

And my dad, well, we're on another quest together, we're trying to find out who his dad was. I'm saying this because I know it hurt my dad to learn the man he thought was his father, left a big question mark in my dad's life when he said he wasn't sure if he was the right guy, and that my grandma was the only one that would really know. That turned my world upside down when my dad told me that and my dad had that question in him almost my entire life. I didn't find out until several years ago. I know my dad. My dad has given me the support all girls need when they are little and then a whole new kind of support as I have become an adult with my own kids.
My grandparents on a boat. From the photos that were around it,
I think this is when they were dating.

My parents didn't have ideal parental situations. If I had a time machine, I wouldn't head back to see Abraham Lincoln give a speech or find out who killed Kennedy. No, I would take a trip and observe my grandpa in love with the grandmother I never knew and spy on my grandma and get some answers for my dad. I wouldn't change my parents' history. I exist because of that history.
This is one of the most beautiful photos I've found so far.
This is my Great Aunt Frances and the man that loved her, Al.
She was my grandmother's sister on my mom's side.

Now it's my turn to pass on this chaotic history to my kids. I'm just trying to give them a whole tree instead of a few branches.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Day I Listened to My Calves

I made this photo x-large so you could see where I walked/hiked/sprinted/almost drowned.
I was on the Ridge Trail, and then the Three-Mile Drive. Basically the perimeter of the arboretum.
Today was the day. I decided to conquer a new trail at the MN Landscape Arboretum, a harder one. The Ridge Trail didn't scare me, I've been walking a lot and my calves said they were ready. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say the first half was up hill. It seems like a long walk up hill and a long walk down. The terrain is natural, just mowed in the prairie area and then dirt and wood chips in the forest area. It's quite bumpy, as Jack will attest to. Oh yea, did I mention I pushed a stroller the whole way? Going downhill isn't just testing my legs, it's testing my arms as well. I have to hold on to Jack's stroller so it won't go speeding off without me. He might enjoy that ride but
not the crash that would follow.
Panoramic shot of where the woods got creepy.
And then I felt like I was being watched.

If Snow White had a cell phone, the story would have been very different.

Along the way we came upon three turkeys, they waddled off in a huff. Then I startled a squirrel
enough that he chirped and chattered at me until I apologized. At a crossroads we stumbled upon a turtle getting ready to lay eggs. She was in a very zen-like state, so I was able to get a picture without
bothering her.

At this point I could have turned right and been back in my car in twenty minutes. Not today! I said to myself, "You got this, take the long way and hit the three-mile trail." After all, it's paved and seems easy after the trail I had just dominated! Since you couldn't see me sweating and hear my heavy breathing, I can say dominated. So we continue our journey towards the car. It started to drizzle just a bit, but it was no big deal. As we approached another hill, we saw a single turkey. I called it and it responded. Jack thought it was funny. I impressed my son with my turkey calling ability. 

A little farther and it started to sprinkle. No problem, it felt good since I really worked up a sweat! And a bit farther, now it was raining, raining enough that I had to cover Jack's stroller with the rain guard. Now we were hearing thunder and even saw a bit of lightning. I found my way to an awning by a restroom. I FaceTimed John to let him know the predicament I found myself in. I could laugh about it. The one day I didn't check the weather, Mother Nature was letting me know I should have paid more attention. I took a deep breath and headed out, I still had to get back to the car and there was still a bit to go. Now it was pouring. Thunder rumbling and my cell phone was giving me weather warnings. Now my eyes were stinging from the rain and little bit of mascara getting in my
eyes. They were stinging enough for me to not realize I took a wrong turn. I ended up walking in a complete circle, an extra fourth of a mile for nothing. When I found myself right back where I called John, I was getting frustrated. I was soaked to the bone and it was raining even harder. 

Before it down poured, we saw lovely bits of nature!

That's when a red truck stopped. Two wonderful ladies that worked at the arboretum offered me a ride. I was hesitant for a moment because I was dripping wet and didn't want to mess up their seat. But it was no big deal since it was always carrying dirt covered gardeners. The gardeners following behind them put the stroller in the bed of the truck and we hopped in the cab. Jack was in heaven as we drove along. He got to see the world from a whole new perspective. He squealed in delight as he pointed at everything and let out a "wow" here and there. The two ladies were so nice and they thought Jack was a hoot. Then a call came through on their radio that a kid was sick and needed a ride. We were right there and pulled over. The lady in the passenger seat got out so the kid could get in. Turns out he was having trouble with his asthma. We drove to the visitor center. While the driver walked the kid in, I unloaded the stroller and got Jack back in it. Keep in mind, it's still pouring rain. Just as I start towards the car, a bolt of lightning cracks right over us and the thunder is immediate. 
I hear my phone give me a warning, "Lightning has been detected in your area." I yell at my phone, "No sh*t!", and hustle to the car. By the time I get Jack strapped in his car seat, water had pooled in his stroller! I get in the car and I can't believe the adventure we just had. The fiasco is over.

If I hadn't gone the long way, I wouldn't have gotten caught in the storm. But then I wouldn't have conquered the trail either. Even with the ride in the truck, I still walked over four miles! Pushing forty
pounds! My fingers and toes got a bit pruned, but no big deal. Besides, I found a deep sense of satisfaction knowing I accomplished my goal under such circumstances. 

No filters here. Just a rain soaked mess!