Living the Grateful Life

or at least making a good attempt

Once When I Was Little

Once when I was little,

I plopped myself down

In the favorite chairScreenshot 2017-01-20 at 2.36.02 PM.png

Smiling and giggling.

Soon I felt your arms

Picking me up with ease

As you tossed me across the couch

And quickly took my spot.


Once when I was little,

We stayed up late to watch TV.

You would replay the movie,

Showing me the same scenes

Late into the night

As we held our stomachs tight

From the pain of laughter,

Showing me what funny meant.


Once when I was little,

I would sneak into your room.

Wandering around your grown up things

Black lights, a tarantula, and incense

Nets, and albums and instruments

You sometimes caught me

And chased me up the stairs

Fast at my heels


Once when I was little,

You went out for the night

Dropping piles of records on my bed

Before rushing out the door

Assigning certain tracks

For me to assess

My little girl records temporarily stashed away away

To learn about what music you loved


Once when I was little,

You took out your electric kit.

Connecting wires and wires across the room

Spending hours setting up the obstacle course.

With the lights off you challenged me to find my way

In the dark I crept and crawled, felt my way around each wire

Hoping the buzzer wouldn’t sound

But it always did.


Once when I was little

It snowed up to the roof

You dressed up in your warmest clothes

And dug twisted paths with connected rooms

Working in the cold for hours.

I helped as much as a little girl could

We stayed in that fort for what felt like days

A special winter space that we both could share.


Once when I was little

I watched you play in the band

There you stood on a stage

Belting out solos

Or floating over the vocals

While all of the teenaged girls screamed.

At school I became a celebrity, too

Simply by sharing your name,

Never by playing as well.


Once when I was little

I went to bed on a hot summer’s night

Flipping my pillow to cool my face

I fell on the verge of dreams.

But stirred when I heard

The gentle thud of a glass jar

I opened my eyes to the small summer lights

that you had caught just for me.


Once when I was little

We flew to your home on the sea

For a few days you showed me around

We walked on the beach, and drove along the shore

We visited the classic sites

You shared that world with me

Until it was time for me to go abroad

You were the last one to say goodbye to me


Once when I was little

It was my special day

I dressed up all in white

And wore flowers in my hair.

I tucked my arm under your own

You smiled at me before we were on our way

You guided me down the flower-strewn path

And gave me to my groom


Now I am no longer little

Many years have passed

We have each watched

As our own little girls have grown

Many new memories have been made

But I still remember

I remember

Once…when I was little


Remembering Thanksgivings Long, Long, Long Ago

When I was a child, the day before Thanksgiving was always the day that we packed our suitcases into the car and went to the farm. My mother was raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, and when her father died many decades earlier, my mother’s brother took over farming. The excitement only grew as the day went on and each mile marker was passed, bringing us closer and closer to my mother’s childhood home. A place where I could run around to my heart’s content, checking on the baby pigs, wandering around the farm machinery building, and walking to the natural well that the family had named “Boy Blue.”

I am the youngest of all of my cousins. Number ten of ten. My oldest cousin is 17 years older than me, and he, along with other older cousins and my brother, can’t come because they live too far away. Even still, I have plenty of cousins to hang out with, and all of my aunts and uncles are here.

As we walk up the stairs into the old white farmhouse, I can smell the smells of farm and good food. We carry our suitcases up the narrow, steep steps. I will either be bunking with my cousins in their room, or we may camp out on the living room floor. My mom will sleep in her childhood bedroom.

The first night is filled with talking, telling stories of long, long, ago, laughing, playing games, and watching TV. If I get tired of what is happening in the living room, I can go and sit at the dining room table and join in on the game, or I can go into the TV room and see what my cousins are watching, or I can go into the kitchen and listen to my mom and her sisters talk about stories of my grandmother and the older generation of relatives.  Once I tire of that I can go outside and investigate the farm.

On Thanksgiving Day,  the women prepared the typical turkey dinner with all of the fixings. The adult table held all of my aunts and uncles and a few of my older cousins. I, of course, sat at the kids table. There was always a big plate of black olives for us to stick onto our fingers. Wiggling our fat black fingers at one another, we would slurp the olives off one by one until all of our fingers were empty. Then we would reload and do it over and over again until all of the black olives were gone.

Continue reading “Remembering Thanksgivings Long, Long, Long Ago”

5 Things I Love About My Electric Pressure Cooker

About a year ago I purchased this electric pressure cooker, and I can tell you that I have been in love ever since. Seriously, how does anyone survive without one of these?

Elite Platinum 8 qt. Electric Pressure Cooker

There are so many different models to choose from, and I did my research before selecting this one. The major selling points for me at the time were that it was large enough to cook for large family gatherings (which it has), that I got it for a ridiculous pre-black Friday sale price (under $40 – HONESTLY!), and that I could use it for canning (which I never have). The only downside to this model for me is that it doesn’t come with a steaming rack, something I wish that I had so that I could pressure cook eggs and other things that need to be up and off of the bottom heat plate. I can easily go out and purchase a steaming basket, taking care that it will meet the measurements to fit into my electric cooker.

Now that I’ve had this baby for a year, I’ve had a lot of people asking me questions about it, wondering if they should take the plunge and buy one. I answer their questions honestly, and have developed a list of the things I love about using my electric pressure cooker:

Continue reading “5 Things I Love About My Electric Pressure Cooker”


I would park the car in a spot where a steady stream of trick-or-treaters passed by so that he could watch them. After taking my little ones up and down the downtown loop, we would get back into the car and I would drive to a nearby neighborhood (sometimes double parking other people in for a short period of time) so he could watch more witches and minions and vampires parade by. In this spot, I would stay in the car with my father-in-law while my husband took our little ones out.
“Look at that one,” he would say as he pointed to an extravagant costume. We giggled together at some of the more creative costumes. Some years, we would watch together through the blurry windshield as the wipers kept time with the pulse of his oxygen tank.
Tonight I drove past both of those parking spots. I purposefully parked in a different place in order to preserve the memory of what he enjoyed doing with us. This is our first Halloween without him by our side. This little cat and little cowgirl are missing him tonight, too


What I Cooked in My Hotel Room!

I’ve had a travel kitchen for many years. Want to stop during a five hour trip for a cup of coffee? I got it. Are you getting hungry, but don’t want fast food or a sandwich? No problem. I pretty much felt like the supermom of travel cooking! But what about staying at a hotel? Could I cook there? Would I set off a fire alarm? Yes, and yes, but I promise that the fire alarm was coincidental.

We just got back from a three day stay at a waterpark hotel. Each year we go as a family  while my husband attends a conference. After a day of traveling and setting up a hotel room, I’ve always hated having to go out once again to eat and shop for breakfast foods (this hotel does not have a continental breakfast). I wished that I could finish setting up a room and just have a nice meal ready to go because my children were starving and cranky by that point. And, honestly, so was I. So I planned. Should I bring the slow cooker? Or maybe the pressure cooker? Well, I bought myself an early birthday present and brought this instead:

Continue reading “What I Cooked in My Hotel Room!”

The View From Where I Sit Today

Today, we rest. We have four daughters. We call them the “bigs” and the “littles” because there are 11 years between the two sets. Our bigs are in their 20’s and our littles are under 10. We adopted our littles six years ago, and they continue to challenge us with behaviors connected to attachment disorders.

It was a particularly difficult week, so we sent them to daycare Thursday and Friday, hooked up our camper, and took off during the day.


It’s amazing how a trip to the beach with this view can rejuvenate the soul!

Continue reading “The View From Where I Sit Today”

Daily Prompt: Maybe

via Daily Prompt: Maybewhat-ive-accomplished

Maybe I will do something today. Just when the entire day had slipped away with very little on the “Accomplished” side of the list and a lot on the “You’d better get to this” side, I realized: Today is #nationallazyday

Well then, it’s back to bed for me!

There’s always tomorrow!

Yes Mom, I Can!

IMG_20160717_100251_406My mother hated to cook. When company came to the house, she would fret and stress out over what to feed them. Most of the time she would go out and buy Kentucky Fried Chicken or hamburgers from our local diner to bring home. On the rare occasion when she actually did cook, she made hotdogs or spaghetti and then she would ask everyone, “Does it taste OK?” mutiple times while they were chewing.

Continue reading “Yes Mom, I Can!”

A New Journey

IMG_20160514_174918_194I was walking along the beach with my dog thinking about life. My father-in-law had just died, only nine months after my mother had died and seven months after my aunt had died. It was a difficult time. So, I went for a walk. That always helps, right? Well, not always.  Continue reading “A New Journey”

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