Shock

We’ve all had shocks in our lives.  Good ones, bad ones.  It’s part of the life journey, sometimes.  My favorite shock was when I found out I was pregnant at the age of 39, after being told by two specialists that I couldn’t get pregnant without medical intervention.  But that was with my EX-husband.  Four days before our first anniversary, my second husband and I confirmed that I was “with child.” WHAT???  At that age??  And I’d just started back to school to get my masters degree in education??  And we lived in an old 580 square foot house, along with two dogs (one large and one medium sized), a cat and a 55 gallon fish tank??  This was way before tiny houses were a “thing.”  There wasn’t a garage, or even a driveway for that matter.  We did have a driveway on each side of the house; literally right NEXT to the house, for the neighbors on each side.  We had to park on the street right in front of the house, unless a neighbor’s guest decided to park there.  There was no room for a crib or bassinet, a changing table, nor the gizmos, gadgets, and toys that one gets for babies.  Or baby clothes!  Punkin/car seat!  Stroller! No dishwasher, but we did have a washer and dryer in the scary old basement.  This wasn’t even remotely feasible in my mind.

I arrived home on St. Patrick’s Day, from visiting my oldest friend, Jo, in San Fransisco, during the week of spring break. Before I left on break I was exhausted all the time, and figured it was just because I worked 30 hours per week, was taking 14 credit hours at the university, and was very focused on receiving high grades, because, well, that’s how I roll.  My dear friend, who knows me so well, kept telling me I was pregnant, even though she knew I supposedly couldn’t conceive without “help.”  While visiting her, I took at least one very long nap every single day.  I almost got carsick riding the curvy roads on the Pacific Coast Highway.  I love that road and I never almost get carsick. Never.  Until then.  She kept telling me, with a chuckle, that I was pregnant.  My response — No way! And smells got to me. We were at her favorite Indian restaurant, and I couldn’t stay because the smells in there were getting to me.  Especially the chicken in my dish. (Turned out that the smell of chicken and bleach were the only things that would make me lose my last meal during my pregnancy! And it took well over a year before I could eat chicken again.)

When we were saying goodbye at the airport, dearest Jo said I needed to take a pregnancy test as soon as I got home.  Ya ya, whatever.  I still didn’t think there was any chance I was in the family way.  I mean, two very well known specialists told me it couldn’t happen.  And then we had turbulence on the flight.  oy.  I didn’t hurl, but wished I could as I was so incredibly nauseated.  But I didn’t want to subject my fellow passengers because I’m not very quiet about it.  Nor quick.  Right before we landed, my stewardess told me I’d been an ugly shade of green ever since the first sign of turbulance, and she lost a bet about when I would lose my cookies!!  She’d been plying me with gingerale and saltines, bless her heart, and asked if I was expecting.  I told her my story, and I remember her smiling at me, with that look that said, “Well, you are!”

I got home before my husband, and picked up a pregnancy test from the pharmacy on the way.  Took it and bam–an instant “yes, preggers.”  I drove back to the pharmacy and purchased a double pack pregnancy test.  I asked the pharmacist which was the best brand, the most accurate.  I honestly don’t even remember driving there the second time. I did both tests.  Instant yes both times.  And then I nervously waited for my unknowing husband to get home from work.  I’d pace, sit for a moment, get up and pace some more. It was horrible. Waiting. Wondering. Worrying.

At first, I was actually almost devestated that this was happening, while simultaneously excited out of my mind.  And scared.  My initial thought was that I’d FINALLY gone back to get my master’s and teaching certificate.  Thought about it and talked about it for years before finally biting the bullet and stepping away from my department manager position, pay and hours at the gourmet grocery store to become a checker again.  I immensely enjoyed being back full time in the academia scene, juggling that with work and still being a newlywed. What a shock!  I couldn’t wrap my brain around this turn of events.

I had the last pregnancy test sitting on top of a paper towel on top of the mail where we always put it on the kitchen table.  FINALLY, he got home, with a wonderful welcome home.  I remember feeling kind of weird and distant.  When he went through the kitchen, he glanced at the pile of mail on the table, and walked past it.  I said, “Well????” “Well what?”  “Aren’t you going to say something?” “About what?”  “THAT!!!” I pointed to the test, and he didn’t even know what it was!!!  When I told him, in tears, that I was going to have a baby, he was ecstatic!   Beyond ecstatic!  I literally told him, with a wail, “I can’t be pregnant NOW!!!!!  I finally have my life planned out! For the first time ever!!” He hugged me and said, “You can always get your master’s. But, honey, you can’t always have a baby.” 100% Logic.  Can’t fight that.  I was still stressing out, but we cautiously celebrated.  I was so scared.  And still didn’t believe it was really true.

I’d gone through a horribly intense mourning process while with my ex, because I didn’t believe I should have a baby with anyone else involved, besides my husband and I.  It was part of the reason that the marriage didn’t last.  He’d wanted six kids.  I’d always wanted three or four, maybe six.  That was part of my life plan.  He refused to adopt, and I wasn’t keen on having a surrogate. We couldn’t get past it.  That and other things. I think my body wouldn’t let me have a baby with the first guy because of how wrong that marriage was.  But now I was with the right guy.  And he knew that I believed I couldn’t have children from early in our relationship.  We planned on adopting, because we wanted a family with children.  But AFTER I was done with school, had a secure job somewhere, and we moved into a larger house.  Yeah, we had our plans all figured out.

I was aware of the health risks for a new mom at my age, which really is nothing compared to back in the day when you were a grandma by 39, not a new mom.  I was aware of the chance that there might be health issues with our baby, because, you know, my eggs weren’t so fresh anymore.   And how on earth was I going to go to school, work, and be a mommy?

When I went to my “new” obstetrics doctor the following day, she did an ultrasound and we saw and heard the teeny tiny blipping heartbeat.  I was already six weeks along!  All I could say was Ohmygoodness.  Ohmygoodness.  Ohmygoodness.  She assured me I was extremely healthy.  When I lamented the fact that I’d taken ibuprofen for headaches and cramps at the beginning of the pregnancy, cold medicine about two weeks into the pregnancy, and drank a lot of wine while in California, because we spent a few days in wine country, she said what was done was done, and I just needed to be a good pregnant mom from that point on.  ohmygoodness.  o h m y g o o d n e s s. ohmyGOODness!!!

My favorite “shock” is now 17 years old.  A gloriously healthy, incredibly smart, very handsome, hilariously funny, wonderful, loving young man with so much ahead of him. I am so incredibly lucky.  And my journey continues, with more shocks, I’m sure…

Warm wishes on Your journey!
Nance

via Daily Prompt: Shock

Shock

Advertisements

100 Things For Which I’m Grateful

gratitudequote1

I read the post at http://mostlytruestoriesofkrenaep.com/ ages ago.  I’ve tried doing something like this before, without success, because it had to be done daily.  Then I thought, why not just let my mind think of them one at a time, as I open my heart?

100 Things I’m grateful for (not in any particular order):

  1. the snow flurries falling outside my window, glinting in the morning sun as they flitter about
  2. my warm house
  3. my husband
  4. our son
  5. our nephews, who’ve survived the military
  6. family
  7. friends who make this crazy world seem ok
  8. our two dogs, who greet me with such intense love first thing in the morning and whenever I return home
  9. food, to fill my stomach and make my nose and eyes happy
  10. my future that, although really and truly unknown, is there waiting for me, when I get there
  11. the memory of how my newborn babe smelled
  12. laughter
  13. hugs, warm and filled with love
  14. love!
  15. taking pictures to remember special moments and people and things
  16. the camera that I use to take those pictures
  17. clean drinking and bathing water
  18. newly married and newly engaged friends and family–their joy brings me joy
  19. my ability to search for the good in situations
  20. books that make me think, laugh, relax
  21. cookbooks!
  22. the master bath (feels like a spa and took 1 yr., 10 1/2 months, but yay!)
  23. my oh-so-comfortable bed
  24. the herbs drying in my kitchen
  25. music — classical, classic rock, new age, (?? should it be called old age?), some rap, (rap that is poetry, not put-downs) pop, alternative rock, golden oldies, big band, instrumental, …
  26. essential oils, as they’ve reintroduced lovely scents for my nose since I cannot tolerate most synthetic scents
  27. a perfect cuppa joe
  28. a lovely glass of wine
  29. a beer that’s so good it makes me smile after the first sip
  30. flowers in the springtime and their scent in the air
  31. leaves changing in the fall, catching the sunshine and exploding with color
  32. snowball fights with my son and dogs
  33. watching my son sleep
  34. my hair
  35. my mama and daddy’s love
  36. the trip we took to Ireland
  37. the many different birds hanging out, chirping, eating the seeds from the feeder and off the ground under it, and taking baths in the tiny fish pond
  38. the new living room furniture that took forever to find because of my severe allergy to formaldehyde and other chemicals used in furniture construction
  39. looking through the gazillions of photos I’ve taken, going down memory lane
  40. realizing I can go back to sleep after using the loo in the middle of the night.  Better yet–waking up semi-rested in the morning after thinking I couldn’t get back to sleep
  41. taking a pie out of the oven that smells heavenly and looks even better than imagined
  42. eating that pie, with people who are so happy to also be eating that pie
  43. slowly cooking onions in butter and olive oil until fabulously golden brown
  44. hearing two owls hooting at each other late at night, while I’m in my study
  45. seeing a V-formation of Canadian geese fly over my house, through one of the skylights
  46. seeing the full moon through that skylight
  47. watching birds of prey, like red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, Cooper hawks, glide calmly through the air, just scoping things out
  48. when my car’s wipers automatically (!) swipe because there are finally enough drops on the windshield
  49. new plants coming up in the spring
  50. the first apple and pear buds opening in the morning light
  51. the smell of the woods when hiking
  52. helping a stranger smile just by being nice
  53. the feeling after doing something unexpected for someone, as in random acts of kindness
  54. being joyfully recognized by former students
  55. getting cards in the mail from family and friends
  56. sharing my gratitude with someone who has done their job, but it was for me
  57. cleaning something that got surprisingly grungy, and it looks like new
  58. looking at certain shades of red, blue, green and purple
  59. laughing until my stomach hurts
  60. finishing a reeeeeally good book, and liking the ending
  61. going on vacation and learning new things
  62. learning new things while at home too!
  63. wrapping presents for loved ones, hoping it’s something they’ll enjoy as much as I think they will
  64. tasting something that reminds me of my mom or dad
  65. hearing a song that reminds me of my mom and/or dad
  66. reconnecting with someone I haven’t see in a while, and still being connected
  67. having my son sometimes recognize that I’m really not that stupid or boring
  68. when my dog, Gracie Jane, talks to me
  69.  when my other dog, Spencer, softly snores while laying on my foot
  70. driving my pretty “Universe Blue” car
  71. being welcomed into our favorite restaurants and the local produce market
  72. watching videos of puppies, kittens, and other animals
  73. seeing the inside of a gladiola bloom, or a rose or a peony
  74. being able to smell the white allysum and raspberry scented red roses through the front screen door
  75. holding my honey’s hand while we walk through a store or park or anywhere
  76. freshly washed bedding
  77. the sound of a gentle, steady rain without blustery winds, thunder or lightening
  78. the smell of that rain (petrichor)
  79. looking at the river rocks in our yard, marveling at the differences and their history
  80. my butter yellow laundry room with photos I’ve taken on the walls
  81. the crystals that you can look down into in our granite kitchen counter-tops
  82. my collection of old oil cans (based on Wizard of Oz and my dad using that kind of oil can)
  83. my mom’s collection of 4 leaf clovers inside the cover of her first cookbook
  84. the sound of hummingbird wings as they hover nearby
  85. hearing children laugh, especially babies
  86. the feeling of a little baby tightly wrapping its fingers around your finger
  87. taking someone to a place they haven’t gone to before, and sharing their delight
  88. making adventure plans
  89. making vacation plans
  90. going on a docent tour at the fabulous St. Louis Art Museum
  91. decorating for different holidays, like Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas
  92. hearing “Susie Snowflake” play on the stereo as the very first Christmas song while decorating (family tradition)
  93. tasting the first bite of something that stops the world for a moment because it’s so delicious
  94. learning a new skill or improving on one I already knew
  95. realizing I’m gently smiling because I’m content and at peace (for the moment!)
  96. giving unexpected genuine compliments
  97. the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil
  98. enjoying a meal or dish that someone made for me
  99. hearing my husband or son call my name (when not urgent or panicked!)
  100. the occasional realization (ah-ha moments) of how incredibly fortunate I truly am

This was really amazingly fun, rewarding, and enlightening for me!  I’ve been working on improving my attitude of gratitude, and this was honestly an powerful step.  I don’t recognize how wonderful my world is as often as I probably should, but it’s something I’m striving for.  As the old year leaves us and the new one approaches, my gratitude, things I love, things that bring joy list will be added to in order to develop my positive thinking.

You might want to give it a try sometime, just to see!

Sending warm wishes for your journey,

Nance

Hand-Me-Downs

Hand-me-downs vary in families. The best hand-me-downs I personally have are two of my mom’s recipe books.  I also have some old family photos which are very wonderful representations of the early 1900’s and family. But, honestly, the recipe books are more special. In one of the books are some yellowed handwritten recipe cards. I’d recognize her handwriting anywhere. She’d always swirl her hand above the paper to get into the “rhythm” of writing before the pen touched the paper. She said that’s how they were all taught to write. Mercy–cursive isn’t even taught in most schools anymore. It’s becoming a lost skill, with most things done on electronics with a keyboard. (whoa–that makes me sound old!!!) There are also newspaper clippings, golden with age, taped in that book. The tape is an even more vivid yellow-orange and curls a bit, the stickiness of it having dried out a long time ago.

The other cookbook I have was her favorite: The American Woman Cook Book, published in 1942.  I can’t remember who she said gave it to her, but it was a big deal, getting it around her second anniversary with my dad. The binding has come apart a bit, the edges of the cover are frayed. There are little spatters on the pages of the favored recipes. The very best part isn’t a recipe, though.  It’s her collection of four-leaf clovers.  She could spot one quick as a wink.  She’d make this tiny squeal and would swoop down to pluck it off the plant, with a beautiful smile filled with delight. And she’d say something about “the luck of the Irish.” It always astounded me. My mom, who wasn’t exactly proud of being half Irish, would find something that unequivocally represented her heritage. Four leaf clover represent a Celtic charm, (spell,) and were thought to provide magical protection, warding off bad luck. As a young girl, I bought her a special magnet with a four leaf clover hermetically sealed in resin. That magnet now has a special spot on my refrigerator door. In my early teens, she bought me a clover charm for my charm bracelet; a tiny four-leaf clover in a sphere. Sadly, it cracked and we had to discard it. I never thought until just now how clover, my mom, and I have a special connection. Funny thing is that I never can find one with four leaves in a patch of clover. Wonder how she did it…

There are nine four-leaf clovers on that first page of the table of contents. I wish I knew when she started collecting them in there. I never thought to ask. I remember them being there when I was little, so it’s been a while. They’re all a bit faded, but still definitely green.  I feel her love the second I open the book to look at them, which I do whenever I miss my mama. Pretty wonderful hand-me-down, eh? Remember to make your moments matter. They can become a hand-me-down without us even realizing it…

2014-09-11 Mom's 4 leaf clover 001

With warm wishes on your journey,
Nance

Twelve Years Old, and I Lived

…in a brand new split level home in northern Wisconsin, with my mom and dad.  That was the year, ironically, that my parents also split.  Huh, I never thought about that correlation before.  We’d lived in a duplex across the street and got to watch the house being built.  I was incredibly shocked when I found it was ours!  It seemed so huge.  You couldn’t just holler to somebody as there was too much separation between rooms and floors.

Lots of stairs in the house, with landings and a boxed corkscrew effect.  When you walked in the front door, you could either go up a few stairs to the living room that had a brick fireplace set on the diagonal, or go down a short flight of stairs to the garage entrance,  with another short staircase leading into the family room.  The family room had a fireplace directly below the one upstairs, so we thought this place was really something because we had TWO fireplaces, never having had even one before.  In the family room, we had a honkin’ big new picnic table that I helped my dad stain and paint, and it was the only movable furniture in this long room.  I wonder why? The three of us would have picnics down there when it was too hot and humid outside, as well as having picnics all winter long with a fire in the fireplace. There were also built in benches under the windows to sit on, but I didn’t like them as they were terribly boxy and straight, and not at all comfortable.  You know, I haven’t thought about how quirky and unique this house was until just now. Funny, looking back.

Also down in the lowest level was the utility/laundry room and my dad’s “bathroom” with the only shower in the house, all in one room.  The shower was cinderblock, cold, dark, and I hated it. But I hated baths more, so I’d go down there to shower anyway.  My mom still had a wringer washer she preferred using.  She had a regular washing machine too, but said the wringer washer got clothes so much cleaner.  I can’t tell you how many times my fingers got “wrung” as I helped with the laundry.  (Not by choice!!)  There were clotheslines down there too, for rainy laundry days or winter weather.  We had a fairly new dryer, but my mom preferred hanging things to dry.  I didn’t like it because of the stiffness of the dried clothing, bedding and towels.  Especially the towels.  ooooh and washcloths.  Not pleasant at all, even though we used fabric softener!

If you were up on the main level, you’d go up another small flight of stairs to the three bedrooms and main bath.  I LOVED my bedroom.  Peach walls, white sheers on the windows (three large windows, so there was a LOT of light,) with white shades for privacy and darkness.  The best part was the crazy shag carpeting.  Surprisingly colorful for my parents; dark orange (almost a rust color,) medium orange that was Halloween pumpkin-ish, and yellow orange, like butternut squash.  The amazing thing was that we found a bedspread with those exact colors.  It was meant to be, I swear!!!  I had white French provincial hand me down furniture that I never really liked from my next older sister, consisting of  a huge dresser, a headboard, and make-up table with a little chair.  Never understood why we had a  make-up table since my mom wouldn’t let us wear any.  ha!  There was also a wonderful and simple bookshelf my dad and I made out of cedar, painted a shiny white.  He tried to talk me out of the high gloss, but that was what I saw in my head.  I still have it, and my son treasures it because his Grampa and I made it together. Honestly, I’d forgotten how much I treasure it too.

The kitchen was full of new “avocado green” appliances. Even the hood over the stove and the first dishwasher we ever had.  We were living in style, we thought. But I’d have moved back to central Wisconsin in a  heartbeat. That was where we were still together, still a family.  But then I wouldn’t have my orange shag carpeting…

With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance

Ever heard of Lefse and Pasties?

A Writing 101 assignment is to tell you about my favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted me and has deep roots in my  memory.  I can’t choose between two favorite meals, so I’ll share both.  Once comes from my Norwegian heritage: lefse, but NO lutefisk!  (Uff da!! That’s nasty tasting whitefish that’s been dried in lye to preserve it for the winter when fish were scarce. To use, it’s soaked in a pot of cold water overnight to rejuvenate it and remove the lye. yeuck!)  The other favorite, special occasion dinner comes from my Irish heritage: beef pastie pies.

Lefse is seasonal, so we’d have it during the cold months.  The special celebrations included my birthday, sometimes Christmas Eve and/or New Year’s Eve. Have you ever heard of lefse??? Lefse is potato flatbread.  Rolled flat, like a tortilla.  Only thinner, if made well.  You use leftover mashed potatoes with an egg yolk, flour, and butter mixed together gently so it makes a dough the consistency of a delicate pie crust.  This is rolled out in a circle, as thinly as possible and handled as little as possible or it gets tough.  Fried on a flat griddle, flipped when it starts to bubble and brown on the one side, then lightly browning the other side.  Traditionally it was served with lutefisk and mashed potatoes with blobs of butter smeared all over it.   My mom only made me try lutefisk once, thank goodness!  She’d normally serve lefse with flaky cod, poached in milk, salt and butter until done to perfection.  Add more wonderfully fluffy mashed potatoes, with gobs of butter.  Know how to eat it?  Lay the lefse flat on your plate.  Plop some mashed potatoes in the middle, and spread them out with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Take chunks of the fish and place on top of mashed potatoes.  Put little dollops of butter all over the surface, lightly salt, then roll it like a burrito.  mmmmm–I’m salivating as I write this!  I grew up in Wisconsin, and there are lots of folks with Scandinavian roots up there.  Not very many here in Missouri, so I either have to make lefse myself or head north to find some in the cold months.  My great aunt Irene gave me her recipe, so it’s for real–it’s how my great grandmother made it for my great grandfather, whose parents came from Norway.  I don’t really have the right “touch” for lefse, but I do with pie crust.  I’m sure with practice I could make some really good lefse!  Maybe someday. But hubby and son aren’t that crazy for it and it’s very labor intensive.  Silly them!!

The other favorite celebration meal, pastie pies, were hand held ground beef pies wrapped in my mom’s flaky pie crust.  She’d only use salt, pepper and catsup to season.  I thought I’d died and went to heaven when she made these.  If lefse wasn’t an option, I’d get to have these.  I make them for my son and hubby, but add finely diced onion, potatoes and carrots along with some garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme.  After visiting Ireland and checking several Irish cookbooks, I found these additions to be the norm, and it tastes so much better to my advanced palate.  Jeepers–I must be hungry as I’m salivating again!   I think I need to make some this weekend and bring my mom’s spirit into the kitchen with me.  What’s your favorite, special meal from your childhood??

With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance

Three important songs? hmmmm

Ok–15 minutes on the stopwatch and I have to write about my 3 top songs and what makes them important for me.  No editing–aaaaaah!  My first song is James Taylor singing “whenever I see your smiling face” because that was the song my hubby chose for us when we were dating.  He said that was our song.  Really???  Then I listened, for the first time, to the emotion behind the words.  Hearing it on the stereo or if he plays the CD totally makes me teary because he knew.  He knew before I did.  He was happy with another person, and this song represented the joy in his heart.  ohmygoodness.  Top it all off, when we invited his parents over for dinner to tell them the “news,” that song came on the radio.  For real?  Yes, for real.  He just about exploded with happiness.  Aren’t I lucky?  ❤

Next song:  Macklemore–THRIFT SHOP!  ohmygawd–LOVE this song.  (Censored, please.)  LOVE IT>  sonny buoy and I were at a teen resale shop and this came on.  OHMYGOODNESS!!!!!!  We were dancing like we always do and singing along, and making the gestures that we felt were appropriate for certain words and it was one of the best times ever.  This was last year, so he was 12.  There was a young man looking in the aisle where we were, who couldn’t help but smile as he pretended he wasn’t watching us.  He didn’t dance, but ya know, he wasn’t that comfortable with an “old Lady” and her son dancing and singing and being totally happy.  hehehe  I bet we made an awesome impressions on him though!!!  🙂   

Third song of my eclectic collection is Bach-Canon in D.  My wedding song.  Second marriage, so I sure wasn’t gonna go with “here comes the bride”!!!!!!!!!!!  Every time I hear this, I stop what I’m doing, relive that beautiful moment, remembering the perfect dress that was on the clearance rack and NEEDED NO ALTERATIONS, the small gathering that we had in the wonderful stained glass foyer of a non-denominational church, and all of the love that was present in that small area.  Follow that with a reception that was so us–Hubby, being a chef, made all the incredible food at the super fantastic microbrewery where he was the exec. chef.  Our gift from them was their awesome bar for the evening AND all beverages, plus letting us get food for cost.  The owner told me at the end of the night that our wedding and reception was filled with the most love he’d ever experienced, even his wedding! I made the table decorations, floral arrangements with flowers from the floral market, and split my bouquet of white tulips (that I had wired the night before,) into two vases on the main table.  One went with my matron of honor and one went with me.  And the dynamite guitarist strumming in the back ground as we mingled and laughed and started our married life together. 

These  are my three songs.  Funny how I didn’t realize until just now that they’re all related to my family.  🙂   Annnnd the timer went off.  Perfect!!!  🙂

 

With warm regards on your life journey,

Nance