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

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100 Things For Which I’m Grateful

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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

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

Wanderlust runs through me and 5 Place I want to go

I know people who haven’t visited hardly anywhere else in their lives, because being home is enough.  I’m not that way–although I LOVE being home.  In fact, I’m a genuine homebody with a wanderlust side. Is that possible?  Can you relate?  

I was a lucky kid, who got to go on summer vacations with the family until I was around 10, maybe 11.  They didn’t happen as much when my older sister moved out.  Never thought about that before.  Huh.  That’s also about when we moved to northern Wisconsin from central Wisconsin, for my dad’s job.  Until the house sold, there was a lot of commuting back and forth, so I guess that counted as our “trips?”  We went on a gazillion Sunday drives, taking short day trips to different locales, eating different food, seeing different sights, so I’d say that counts. My parents divorced when I was 13, so no more trips until I had enough income to pay for my own travels.  My very first flight and vacation was when I travelled to Oxnard, California at age 21 to visit my older sister and her family.  The travel bug bit me big time!

I’d actually started dreaming of travelling the world when I was 8 years old.  Life magazine had an article, with gorgeous pictures, about the Emerald Isle or something like that–Ireland!.  Oh my goodness–I looked at those pictures and read the story over and over and over.  I was so excited when my mom finally told me I could rip it out of the magazine so I could keep it!  It was up on my bulletin board for a long time.  Last time I remember seeing it was in my mid 20’s, sorting through my “archive box” of memorabilia that I wanted to downsize.  I remember thinking that I’d probably never make it there, and the article was tossed on the discard pile.  For my 50th birthday, my husband “gave me” that trip.  It was everything I’d dreamt of and absolutely more.  Not kidding that I could move there.  Hubby won’t though–he’s an American through and through.   

I have friends who travel the globe, and I was so envious of them until lately.  They literally left for England yesterday!  Funny thing, I’m so glad to be home, taking care of things, writing on this blog (which I COULD do anywhere, I know!) playing with my two dogs, planning the garden, working on little projects…  Right now the wanderlust in me is dormant.  I suppose it’s because I just want to get healthy, and am focused on being whole as well as not being worried financially.  But if I could travel…  hmmmmm….  The five places I’d like to go…

–Thailand–I’d love to take my husband and son on a food journey through Thailand.  We LOVE Thai food.  When we eat out, that’s the most common place to find us.

–Back to Ireland, FOR SURE.  I’d seriously love to have a place there, so I could go home to County Kilkenney whenever I wanted. 

–Back to Italy, again (went before in my early 30’s) on a food journey with my hubby and son–that’s our second favorite food!  I’d really enjoy taking them to the places they’ve heard about and seen in my picture albums.

–The other two locations would be in the U.S.  I’d like to stay somewhere on a horse ranch, and also a place in the mountains.  A couple of weeks would be long enough to get a feel for the life/area. Mountains call me most of the time, but I do enjoy the ocean as well.  Had one of my most relaxing vacations EVER two years ago on the beach in South Carolina.  I loved living in San Francisco, thoroughly enjoyed Colorado when we visited there 10 years ago, loved visiting Boston, couldn’t get enough coastline in Maine, found the Redwoods to be spectacular…

Yeah, I’ve travelled a bit.  And hope to continue because my wanderlust probably won’t dissipate.  Don’t think I’d want it to–it’s definitely part of my adventure called life, part of my journey helping me experience happiness. 

With warm wishes for your journey,

Nance