Mid-July???? Seriously???

nd2I give up. Time just speeds by. I feel like I’m busy. In fact, I am busy. But when I look at the calendar it’s obvious that I have been sitting on my thumbs for about two years.  Wasn’t I just in Paris?

We’re on a rowing break which is kind of awesome. Andy is doing some kind of strength/conditioning camp thing two days a week. Compared to three hours a day six days a week, that’s a cake walk. He continues to search for a summer job – so many places only hire people 18 and older. In the meantime, he’s been picking up odd jobs when he can.

With the rowing break, I thought things would slow down a bit. When it was still relatively cool, I started painting the shutters on the house. I WILL finish them tomorrow. I don’t mind climbing the mountainous ladder – I just mind the news people tell me it’s going to feel like 105 when I’m up there. Who does that help? No one.

Before I could finish the shutters, we ran into lots of rowing. Then . . . who knew? We became party people. Graduations, birthdays, it’s Saturday – all kinds of parties. Up front, it’s kind of fun to finally be in the “cool” group. Only took me 52 years and what’s cool has changed quite a bit over the years. Anyway – we’ve been eating and drinking our way through Orlando and we’re going to continue for the next week or two.

I’m mostly excited that Danny will be coming home on Thursday. He’s only been to this house once before. Weird, huh? I got to see him back in December but Mike and the brothers have not seen him for over a year. I’m so, so, so, thrilled to have all six of us together. We’re all pretty excited. Since he’s missed the past two Thanksgivings with us, we’re hosting a Thanksgiving-in-July cookout.  My sister is even coming with 2/3 of her kids!  (If you have food ideas, please share in the comments!!!) I think we’ll have between 25-35 people. If I haven’t officially invited you and you’re in Orlando – you’re invited July 15 around 4:30.

finallogo jpgIn other news, I’ve started a new side business – Overalls Overhauls. I have spent so much time over the past (yikes!) 25 or so years redoing furniture, and I LOVE  doing it, that I thought I might as well start selling the stuff instead of cramming my own house full of “just one more adorable” whatever.  To my Facebook friends, I apologize. So much of this is a GIANT learning curve for me. I’m getting it now and soon I should have my personal and my business pages working independently.  If you’re on Instagram, I will apologize in advance – that’s next week’s project.

Hope all is well in your worlds.

 

Part I: Sooo … did I mention my trip to Paris?

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Me and Tony doling out champagne on a tour of the Seine River. I may never drink Champagne again this was so perfect!

So, yeah, I did go to Paris. Got back around 10 o’ clock last night. It’s midnight (US) now and I’m not sure what planet I live on. I wanted wine with breakfast this morning and now I feel like I should be making breakfast. It’ll sort out, I imagine.

Paris? Awesome. After a full day of travel (18 hours total to get home) and then weird today, I’ve been trying to figure out how to blog about my trip. I didn’t bring my lap top and I’m glad. Sometimes, trying to stay in touch takes away from the actual experience. That said, I missed my lap top.  The biggest thing for me about any kind of vacation or break is who I am with. For Paris-week – I was with my mom, Judy (my mom’s cousin and someone who I’ve always thought of as a cool aunt) and Tony (Judy’s husband who has always been my cool uncle).

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L-R – Bing, me and Judy. What you can’t see is us shivering! So cold and rainy waiting outside of Notre Dame to see the Westminster Choir.  What you also can’t see is the laughing and snorting we were doing while waiting. So. Much. Fun.

Judy and Tony lived in Paris for several years when I was a little girl. They’ve always gone back for a few weeks at a time and have always encouraged all of us to come visit them. I finally did! (My mom has been to Paris a few times before). We stayed with Judy and Tony in their real Paris apartment in a real neighborhood in Paris. That alone made the visit different than had we stayed in a hotel.

The apartment was in an old (19th century-ish) building. There was a small (incredibly functional and storage-savvy) kitchen, a small bath, a lovely living room with HUGE ceilings featuring gorgeous molding and two small bedrooms. In Paris, you can’t beat it. The owners of the apartment have kept it the same since they bought it 30 years ago. I love it. Old, old floors, awesome high ceilings and all over perfect. Sure,  some HGTV stars could bring it to life but it would lose its charm.

Short story? I loved Paris. I loved the opportunity to stay in an apartment in a real neighborhood. Mostly, though, I loved getting to spend time with Bing, Judy and Tony. I don’t know that I have ever spent time with all three of them without crazy kids.There were ups and downs but mostly there was a lot of laughing going on.

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Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley. Judy and Bing.

I think it’s the laughing and just being comfortable that I will remember more than anything we did or saw. Judy and her napkins. Tony trying to herd the three of us through the Metro and beyond without actually stamping his feet.  My mom putting her hood up in the rain only to further drench herself. These are the real things. These are the things most of us don’t photograph (because there is no need). I have so many of these wonderful “snapshots” in my head.

I have so much more to share about our visit. But, to me, the biggest thing about my trip to Paris ended up being the time I spent with people who have known me always and who have been so integral in making me the slightly-off person I am today. At 51, it’s kind of nice to be treated as a 12-year-old again by people who you love and who love you.  I imagine we would have had as much fun going anywhere. BUT, I’m glad we had THAT much fun in Paris. Thank you – Mom (Bing), Judy and Tony ❤

De-Fogging

b1302-oldfriendsI feel like I’m coming out of a fog. The past year has been so full of things that I never wanted to deal with or even think about. And, while I’m still reeling from things like my dad’s illness and death, moving from our beloved neighborhood and more – I’m starting to feel more like myself than I have in a long time.

I’m still sad. I have some days where I just want to crawl under the bed an hide. But, more and more I am starting to feel like me. School with Andy has been fun so far this year. I’m no longer wandering room to room wondering why I’m wandering room to room. I still wander but, usually, if I give myself a few minutes, I can figure out why I am there.

I’ve sort of got a handle on this house, this kitchen and what’s coming up for the next year. Of course, life will happen and change my plans but I’m ready to face life again. It’ll never be the same but, it will go on – and, if I have anything to do with it, it will go on in an orderly fashion. Or not. We’ll see.

I’m accepting the fact that three of my boys are grown. They still love and need me but not like they used to. I doubt they would admit to needing me – but they do. Right?  I miss them and marvel at their lives as young adults at the same time. No complaints, they keep in touch and share funny things, poignant things and just the plain ol’ stupid things. Can’t ask for more than that.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the sad, I’m overwhelmed by how incredibly fortunate and blessed we are as a family.  Part of me is still sad and I guess it will always be that way but, I am happy to be seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel.

(And, yes, it IS 4 am.  My wandering ways have improved but need even more improvement. I forgot I had started making bread several hours ago. I JUST pulled it out of the oven – it’s beautiful.  BUT … I think my next plan is going to be working on my wonky hours.

Whew!

Ian is home! I picked him up last night.  (I hadn’t mentioned the new(ish) car, so that was kind of a fun surprise.)  He’s thin and exhausted, but he’s a changed young man.  This trip was the best thing he could have done for himself.  I knew Mike, Tim and Andy were waiting at home for Ian so I tried not to drill him with the million questions I have.  Plus, I’ve learned, it’s easier to let information just ooze out over days/weeks than to demand it on the spot.  

I can see that he is still processing all of the things he’s seen, people he has met and just the whole experience.  Ian was passed out cold by about 8 pm last night.  He took a shower before bed and every single one of us commented on how short the shower was and how clean the bathroom was when he was done.  This is not my son. Today he spent a lot of time sorting through pictures (“I didn’t take as many as I thought I would, only about 4000.”), reactivating his work schedule at Chili’s (this did not involve a lot of enthusiasm), reacquainting himself with driving and tormenting Andy and the dog.  

Once Ian gets his pictures sorted out, I will try to share some. He’s already got at least two future trips planned out.  I survived the first one, I guess I can survive what’s to come.  LOL, like I had to survive anything, right? 

I’m so happy to have most of us together.  AND . . . I’m going to Tallahassee this weekend with my mom to see Danny’s friend-that-is-a-girl (yes, the SAME one – read about their first “date” at the link) give her Senior Recital. It’s just her – and her trumpet- and a roomful of people. I am surrounded by brave young people. Aside from her internship (here in town) this spring, she is done with school (for the time being anyway).  How did that happen?  So, in one week that does not involve a holiday or birthday or anything, I get to be with all my boys.  Not too shabby. 

Thanks to all of you who were so supportive of Ian and me while he was gone.  It means a lot and it really helped. Ian did say on the drive back from the airport how glad he was he did not come home mid-trip.  That low point was a turning point.  He would have missed out on meeting a lot of good people have seeing even more great things without all of the encouragement! 

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year

I hope that those of you who celebrate Christmas had a wonderful holiday. We definitely did. As usual for our family, there were some bumps and bruises along the way, but the beauty of having older kids is that nothing is as tragic as mom might try to make it. 

We discovered on Christmas Eve, a few egg nogs into the party and far too late to do anything about it, that we were missing a BIG box from Amazon.  (I have stuff shipped to the warehouse and have never really checked anything beyond the tracking info online in the past 15 years.)  Ummm . . . that would be the box containing EVERY single thing Ian was getting this year.  The box also held my brother’s gifts.  Fortunately, we  were at my parents’ house and I happen to have one of the smartest moms in the world.  We printed out pictures of my brothers gifts and wrapped them up big.  He did not cry or anything. 

When I got home, I wrapped the gifts of my three “favorite” children and then headed to my printer to print out Ian’s virtual Christmas and wrap that up.  Lucky Ian, I did find a pack of boxer shorts that I was able to wrap and stick in his stocking so he had one real thing to open Christmas morning.  But, it was all good.  Ian, who had received gifts the night before, was fine with his virtual Christmas.  No tears, no drama.  (Okay, well, except on my part – I was sooooo disappointed!)  

Other than that, we had a lot of fun at my parents on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day. I had all my kids at home. I have my parents and brother close.  I miss my sister, but she’s in town now so I get everything.  And, then, to live in a neighborhood where everyone is so nice and fun is just icing on the cake. Christmas could not have been much better.  Our one mean neighbor did not even call the police! 

I miss vacation.

I am having a hard time coming back to reality. In fact, the past two days have been spent in actively avoiding reality. Not sure how much longer I can keep this up and get away with it. It’s just too hard to go back to laundry and all the rest of it after so much time at the beach.  
At the beach, I will do anything as long as I can see or, at the very least, hear the ocean. Laundry, no problem. Cooking? Sure.  It’s fun.  Like playing house.  It helped that the house we stayed in was so cute. It was such a change from our last vacation’s sleek huge house. I would argue with the owners that the house sleeps 12 – we did it for several nights, but it was a stretch.  BUT, I would recommend the house to most families.  It was cozy, quirky and really delightful.  I like quirky, you know.  I also prefer color to neutrals and this house had all of that.  
It was weird this year.  Mike, my dad and my brother usually take turns commuting so that we can keep the business running (someone had to pay for the wine and ice cream).  However, this year, Ian and Tim were also going back and forth, though not as much as I had feared.  Danny was only able to join us for a long weekend.  Each vacation is different and each one seems like more fun than the last, even with all the changes.  
We had a bunch of visitors while we were there.  A couple of our neighbors were able to join us one day. It was fun to have so many kids running around and doing so many different things AND there were enough adults around that we were not outnumbered. As with most of our beach activities, there were lots of food and snacks involved.  Our friends Gregg and Ann and their kids came late one day and stayed for a long beachside dinner.  Not too many people can make me laugh so hard.
During the second week, Aunt Judy and Uncle Tony arrived.  They stayed at a nearby hotel being sane, but spent the bulk of their time with us. What a blast.  We celebrated Judy’s birthday and their 45th anniversary with two cakes and a night launch of a bunch of Chinese fire lanterns on the beach. During the days, we traded book lists and did a lot of cooking.  I’ll try to get the recipe, but Judy came up with a delicious shrimp dish (shrimp cacciatore?) the one night. Ian and Tim cannot have shellfish so we served that with amazing pasta and a big salad.  It was like eating in a fancy restaurant – only without having to put on shoes or a bra.  
One afternoon, Lynne surprised the kids with a parasailing adventure.  Andy was not interested and I’m the family’s designated purse, camera holder though Andy and I did go out on the boat.  I’d love to share pictures, but I guess I can add boat rides to the list of things that now make me violently ill.  There I was, I finally had my hands on Ian and Tim’s amazing cameras (they never let me near them) and I was so excited.  I was going to take pictures of the light house from the water and of everyone flying through the air.  I managed about three pictures before I was considering just jumping overboard and swimming back to shore. (I’m old, but I could swim 1-2 miles, right?) 
As my sister and my niece were launched into the air, I found myself cursing the guys running the boat (if the skeevy guy who does the ShamWOW commercials has brothers – that’s them) and then praying for death. So, I have no pictures, but someone took some and maybe eventually I will add them to this post. I did not die. The nice lady on the dock gave me a big glass of ginger ale and bitters.  I don’t know what bitters are, but I will never visit anything involving possible motion-sickness again without them.  Oh well.  Everyone else had a great time and I learned something new about myself.  That’s good, right?  

Overall, it was a great vacation. I could type all night about everything I loved.  Maybe when I get my hands on Ian and Tim’s pictures, I will. 

Boredom . . . never admit to it!

After all of these years, you’d think I would learn to keep it to myself when I am feeling restless, unchallenged and bored.  But, I never do.  After a week or so of basking in my blah, I FINALLY had a whole set of projects lined up and things to do and all of that.  I also asked Mike if he would mind scraping the grout out of the tub in the boys’ bathroom (been meaning to ask that forever) as it was gross and the sound of a razor blade on the ceramic makes my skin crawl.  
And, I went off on my merry way scouting for useful things for my useless projects and to pick up some new grout.  I came home to find Mike looking “not happy.”  I should have asked him about the grout way back in forever-ago.  The drywall and some of the wood behind the shower/tub is moldy (no wonder I couldn’t keep that stupid area clean) so it’s all got to come out.  :::sigh:::: 
Until we get it all fixed, we will all be sharing the same 5 x 8 bathroom off of our bedroom.  Yay.  Dan will be home in  1 1/2 weeks.  Double Yay – an extra person. ; ) Honestly? I am just happy we live in a house with two bathrooms!!!!  
As we’re tearing out the old, I’m considering the new. There is NO budget. We cannot replace the nasty old tub so we’re going to work around it.  I loved this idea (picture, left).  We won’t be that cool – no track lights or candles in the shower, but it’s kind of fun.  Makes me think of going with a mostly black and white bathroom, a pendant light over the sink (industrial-ish) and bright colors in the towels and stuff.  Now, what to write in the shower? Any ideas?  We’re working with a much smaller (probably 1/2) area.  Any other ideas – preferably cheap ones as we had not planned on this AT ALL.
And, because I’m here and too tired to make a new post, here are some cute pictures from this past weekend that I do not want to lose:
While I sometimes hate my house and wish for more space and fancier whatevers, I do like our neighborhood.  I love that the kids congregate outside and figure out ways to entertain themselves without adults and in a way that includes even the youngest of them.  This is not all the kids, but a typical scene.  (The sad, colorless house in the background belongs to our mean neighbor.  I am currently fighting the urge to go sprinkle wildflower seeds over her lawn.  Just some color, please?) 
 More of the same.  The kids are playing in front of our house now.  Behind them is what we call “the island” that separates the two sides of the road.
Gee?  Think they’re related?
Andy and Tim look more like twins than Tim and his twin, Ian, do!  And, strangely, Ian and Danny look more alike.  Go figure. (I’m not sure what’s up with Mike’s eye in this picture.) 

No matter what side of the family the boys landed on, they did not stand a chance in the nose department, though!  😉 

New Camera!

My old camera disappeared right before Christmas.  I’ve torn the house up and down in search of it.  In the meantime, all three bigs have received or bought amazing cameras for themselves.  The other night, I decided to use the money I did not spend on freezer items this month (hurricane season, dontcha know?) on a little camera.  Now, to find things to take pictures of.  LOL For months I’ve been whining about missing pictures and now I’m in a drought.  Never fear . . . 

Last night, we had my parents, my brother and Danny’s girlfriend here for dinner.  My mom left today for a week at the beach with her painting buddies and she’ll miss Dan leaving for school (in LESS than a week – I’m fine, thanks for asking!).  We had an easy dinner of spaghetti and meatballs with salad and heart-killing garlic bread.  We had so much fun.  I love that my kids are so easy with my parents and with “Muncle” Matt.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  Danny’s friend-that-is-a-girl, Christi, fits right in.  It was an excellent evening, as you can see from the excellent pictures from my new camera!!!!

Whew!

So, we’ve been approved by the rescue people.  The only thing we have to do is send a final form and a picture of all of us with Cally.  The form is no problem.  The picture?  Weird, but okay.  The problem is getting everyone in one place and awake at the same time.  We sort of managed last night . . .
The dogs were a little wound up.
We finally got them contained – sort of.  Forget about the people in the picture looking in the right direction or sitting still.
And at last, a new family portrait. 

Not that we’re competitive . . .

Not that my sister and I are competitive or anything, but I howled today when I opened an email with this picture in it.  My last post mentions that her kids are too old to fit in buckets.  Well, color me wrong.  *snort*

I’m a-going out tomorrow to find me some super big buckets to stuff my kids into – I’ll show her.  

L-R:  Jamie, Jesse, Mitchell