Think Small

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I recently passed what I consider to be a milestone birthday. You know the kind…where both numbers match; 11, 22, 33, 44…etc? You only get a very few of those in a lifetime.¬†

Suffice it to say, I’m now officially “etc.” years old. ūüėā¬†Because I was not looking forward to this particular birthday, I decided early on to make it a special one.¬†

I planned ahead to make sure that on the big day I would be doing my very favorite things with my very favorite people. And so naturally that meant I was off to visit my grandkiddos.

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Granny Puckett from Hoodwinked Too!

Spending time with young people is supposed to make you feel energized and youthful. Spending time with my busy little ones, ages 3 1/2 and 16 months however, quickly made me feel every single year the oldster.¬†Wait. How can that be? Wasn’t I just dealing with my own kiddos a few years back? Well…maybe a bit longer ago than that-but it still feels like yesterday to me.¬†

So what’s changed?¬†Besides the fact I’m not as peppy…(understatement)… seemingly in a blink diapers are different, baby food now comes in pouches instead of teeny jars-(more like food I imagine astronauts eat), and don’t get me started on the blasted red button on car seats! Just when I figured out the over-the-shoulder straps and click into place, my hands didn’t have the super-human strength required to snap that damn red button. (Inconveniently located in an area where I could do a lot of harm with a misfire, I might add. Who designs these crazy things? )

¬†Now to officially sound like an old person on a rant…

Life was so much easier when I had my kids in the 80’s and 90’s. Probably not as safe when it comes to car seats, but definitely easier!

I never did get the knack of fastening those two car seats the entire time I was there…but I did do things that reawakened long forgotten sights, sounds, and feelings from way back in the day when I was a younger version of me.¬†

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Starting with the sights. The majestic mountains reminded me of the many times I had driven alongside them on trips from Idaho to Utah. Starting at about age 19 I would drive my car (Henry) down to see my friends at college for brief visits. We wouldn’t really do much of anything, but we always had a great time together doing whatever it is that kids¬†do at that age.¬†

Fast forward a few brief years, and I was frequently taking my baby daughter to the University Hospital there to receive treatment for her kidney disease. Gazing at the hospital now it surprised me that I was dealing with all that at 24 or 25 years old. Either I was very strong back then, or it was the youthful blessing of ignorance is bliss…

Of course when you look back with hindsight, you’re glad you didn’t know all that was coming. But it was a tender time, and those tender feelings rushed back.¬†

I actually felt grateful to be older (& wiser) because those uncertain times were now behind me. 

On to happier times, and fast forward quite a bit, and I remembered traveling up¬†from Texas to drop my son for his time in the Americorps where he worked in the rugged wilderness of Utah for a time. A skip ahead brought memories of my daughter and her hubby married in the Salt Lake City Temple, and then a year later dropping my other son off for a two-year church mission. (That was a rough one as memories go…)¬†
Lots of memories and lots of years. But all of these things-past, brought me here today to my milestone birthday-present! 

Time  to  celebrate  the  here  and  now. 

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My birthday dinner was at The Roof Restaurant overlooking Temple Square where my daughter and son-in-law were married. (It also happens to be the same building where we celebrated their marriage with a lovely luncheon reception.) 

With beautiful views of Temple Square, the surrounding mountains, downtown cityscape, and the Capitol building, it was a wonderful place to be. 

The pianist even played a jazzy version of Happy Birthday just for me! It was a bit awkward when the waitress showed up with cr√®me br√Ľl√©e and a lit candle-not because I felt shy, but because I was sitting there drooling over a plate of tiny desserts, fork-at-the-ready that I’d already nabbed from the dessert buffet using my grandson as a decoy.

Embarrassing! 

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Oh well, eat, drink, be merry, and all that. I’m daily marching closer to the “all that” so I might as well enjoy it a bit.¬†present

Being with my grands was the best gift I could have given myself, and a timely reminder to enjoy the dailies. And I did. Like sampling lots of little desserts on a plate. Picking wildflowers in a field. Blowing bubbles. Feeding the ducks and playing at the park. Bath time! The joy of boardgames, baking cookies, and watching cartoons. Going to the library and reading lots of books. Mud puddles and dancing. Jumping on an air mattress…(don’t try that one-just sayin’.)

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Being yourself with no inhibitions. Trying new things. Like Mickey Mouse waffles and kid’s toothpaste. (Yuck-bubblegum flavor? not so much…)¬†

Or trying old things you forgot about…like blue cotton candy, fruit loops, and cheap blue box mac & cheese.¬†

I even had Kool-aid for the first time in a million years. (Ok-not quite a million, I’m not THAT old!)¬†

Turns out, although I was dreading it,¬†getting older really is just a state of mind. And if it continues to go the way it’s been going, I think I might like year 55 best of all.

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The year I learned that to be happy being “big” you actually have to think “small.”¬†

imageThat’s¬†me¬†having¬†my cake and eating it too!

 

Queen_Minnie_BBSGrowing old is mandatory but growing up is optional.

~Walt Disney

Puppy Love

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Way back in the day teen heartthrob Donny Osmond crooned out his hit song Puppy Love. (Way before my timeI was but a youth…Ok, you caught me…it was my first 45 purchased with my birthday $ for my tenth birthday!)  Young girls went crazy for him and for that song in particular. Nowadays if you go see him in concert not much has changed, except for the fact that those “teens” are now middle-aged gals who transform back into their dreamy-eyed teeny-bopper selves when Donny teases the opening bars to that particular song.Image result for puppy love 45

Ahhh puppy love… that euphoric feeling of a first crush. A powerful sort of love reserved only for the very young.

Or  is  it?

(use your best Keith voice…)

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There is a type of joy that is akin to that happy “newly in love” feeling of youth. Don’t believe me? Just snuggle a puppy and you can’t help but feel it.

And they call it…

Puppy Love 

(I know quoting Donny’s lyrics was lame.)

Luckily this type of puppy love comes without the added baggage of teen angst and a broken heart. ūüíĒ

Previously, I’ve shared about the many pets I had  growing up and the tremendous blessing they were in my life. (Gimme Shelter Oct.2015)  To be accurate, I said some of my best friends were animals-and some of my family members were too! (Still the truth any way you slice it).Image result for faithful snoopy

 

Poster: Oriental Trading Co.

Horses, cows, cats, dogs-it’s all the same. Good day? Your pet is always there. Bad day? Your pet is always there. Mediocre day? You get my drift…. With happy spirits and unconditional love, pet family members have provided countless hours of companionship, comfort, and the best part-humor.

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Sylvester & Tweety

That’s not to say I haven’t done my share of complaining about my diva cat Jellybean, or rambunctious dogs that bark out trouble at every mailman, school kid, and squirrel. I’ve done that. Like Dr. Dolittle I talk to the animals-albeit sometimes in a caterwauling or barking tone of voice. ūüėľūüź∂  But pets being who they are, never respond in kind. (There’s that example of pets and unconditional love again.)

IMG_5830Bailey & Zoey BFF’S

Of course animals are a huge responsibility and it’s not all fun and games. Animals can be hard work–but as we all know, anything worthwhile is. And they give so much back, it really can’t be compared to what we do for them.

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BAILEY

This year has tested my puppy-love to the breaking point. In February our senior dog Bailey suffered a stroke and had to be put down on her 13th Birthday. She had exhibited all the old-age infirmities so we knew her time was limited, but it was so hard to let her go. As we returned home it felt different. Empty. Quiet. So many fun memories with our family revolved around her presence.

Her spirit was sorely missed in our home, and we grieved our loss. Luckily, Zoey our Maltipoo cheered us with her exuberant nature-even as she grieved her own loss. Spending time with Zoey helped us in our reminiscences about the two of them together. The doggy road trips, meandering walks and swims along the Boise river,  their silly canine hi-jinks. We were able to laugh and be grateful for the time we shared and the happy memories.zoey1

ZOEY

Mindful she was adjusting to a new normal, we took Zoey to the drive-in, on car rides, played hours of fetch, and tried to ease her loss even as she comforted ours.
Suddenly, last week we noticed a stumble here-a wobble there. Goofball. What was she up to? A day or so later a fall and some twitching. My daughter promptly took Zoey into the vet, where she on-cue exhibited no symptoms at all so the doc prescribed steroid therapy. Slight improvement and then more aggressive issues and rapid decline. Meds were changed, daily vet contact and still no answers. What was happening to Zoey?
Imagine our shock when one week after her first symptom we had to release her from this life by euthanasia. A mere 3 months after we had lost Bailey. Bailey to old age and a stroke, and Zoey-full of life and playful a week ago-seemingly to a brain tumor.
It’s nothing we could have imagined, and yet even in death we felt as if Bailey had gone on ahead to prepare us for the quick and unexpected demise of Zoey.

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Picture credits: Rescue Angels, Inc.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, All Dogs Go To Heaven…(ok, so I stole it from a movie-still true!) Today we feel the peace of sister dogs reunited, playing together in heavenly fields, chasing squirrels and freed from pain.

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Together Forever…

As raw as we feel, and even though we never want to go through this again (in theory), We know we happily will. Because having them in our lives was so worth it. One day soon this heartache will heal and we will adopt a new pet family member. In fact, we’re thinking maybe two. Sisters. Just like Bailey, Zoey, and all those beloved family pets that have gone on before. Why put yourself through it you ask?

 They call it Puppy Love. ūüźĺImage result for snoopy

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

~Josh Billings

Guardians of the Galaxy

My sweet little granddaughter Claire is taking her first baby-steps towards toddler-hood.¬†My¬†exuberant grandson Bridger recites his colors, the ABC’s, and memorizes story books. As much as it is a joy to watch them grow and learn and accomplish, it’s bittersweet, too. ¬†They are growing up way¬†too fast!¬† I need more time in this chapter.

Ahh…Rites of passage.¬† Milestones we all mark. First by looking forward to-and then by checking the box when we’ve achieved the thing we set out to do.IMG_5441

One of my favorite to-do’s growing up was Drivers Ed.¬† Probably a highlight for most people.¬† In Idaho where I grew up, you could take drivers ed at 14.¬† Yup.¬†14!!!¬† Exciting for me back in the day, but terrifying when my own kiddos turned fourteen and I realized just how young that really was for such a huge responsibility. Lucky for me, the roads I grew up on were back roads and farm roads, so other than staying on my own side when¬†the occasional car or¬†tractor went down the opposite side there wasn’t a whole lot of skill involved.¬† And my school was less than a mile away, so that was a plus.¬† Night driving was a big no-no…although I’m not sure why 14 year olds could drive during the day at all, let alone night time shenanigans.

My cool friend got her license over the summer, so drove to 9th grade like a boss!  I took the in-school version and was randomly selected for second semester drivers ed, so I was not a happy camper.  The day finally came though and I was ready to go.

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I really looked like that at 14…

For some reason, in my family my brother got to practice driving with my dad over the years, so by the time he was ready to learn he already knew!  Not so with the girls in our family.  It was cold turkey all the way.  Our school had a driving range-(not the golf kind-the car kind)- and the teacher had a two-way walkie system where he directed us from his ivory tower, while we navigated the painted-on roadways, complete with stop, yield, merge, and the dreaded parallel parking spaces. Very futuristic for back then!

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Our class went alphabetically, and as¬†it turned out all the other drivers in my group were boys.¬†Which turned out to be a good and a bad thing.¬† Good, because they wanted¬† the “cool” cars¬†with manual transmissions, and they were very gentlemanly and gave me the automatic.¬†Bad because I may have zipped around the course in the only automatic car, but on testing day had to drive a stick.¬† I tried to fake it-but its hard to fake¬† leaping through intersections, killing the car, popping the clutch, and then¬†leaping some more. It was grim, and I had those dumb boys in the back seat being extra helpful with their “Find ’em don’t grind ’em…” gear comments. Suffice it to say I got a “D”.¬† Oh, and just for giggles my mother worked at the City Hall which doubled as the DMV, so I couldn’t even sneak it past her.

Luckily I am book-smart and aced the written exam with a perfect score. License with a side-view picture?  YES, please!

Well once I ticked off that achievement, I shifted gears. (See what I did there?)IMG_5444

Now I couldn’t wait till I had a car. I had thought my license was the gateway to all kinds of freedom.¬† But when you have cars that belong to the entire¬†family, you don’t get to actually drive them very often.¬† And so began the¬†cajoling that goes with manipulating the old parents into buying a car just¬†to shut¬†me up.

Except for the fact that my¬†parents didn’t fall for it.¬†

Just when I was starting to despair, my¬†grandma and grandpa came along and changed everything!¬† They called and said they had an extra car they didn’t need and wanted to give it to us so that the “grands” would have a car.¬†We couldn’t believe our luck.¬†My grandma didn’t drive, my grandpa drove everywhere and everybody knew¬†he was in love with his Chevy El Camino, so by deduction¬†I knew which car it was.¬† The VW!!! Oh happy day!¬† It wasn’t a VW bug, which would have been my first pick, but it was a VW, and an¬†adorable sparkly red car, even though it wasn’t new.image

His only caveat was…no car unless we visited him in Oregon to pick it up.¬†Ok, so a mini-vacation AND a car.¬† This was getting better and better.¬†And so we headed one state over to get our first set of wheels.¬† My dad even let us take turns driving the Oldsmobile on the trip over! This was going to be great.

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We got to Grandpa’s house and there she sat.¬† Gleaming in the sunlight.¬† Did we have the best grandparents or what? The El Camino was there too, just like an old friend.¬† My grandparents rushed out to greet us, as all good grandparents do, and we all hugged our hellos.

Grandpa, sensing we were antsy about the car, didn’t make us wait.¬† As we fawned over the VW, he dropped a bombshell.¬† “That’s not the car for you.”¬† Wait. What? We stared at him as he continued, “Come around the back, kids.¬† That’s where your car is!—Sillies, the VW is your grandmas car.”¬† I had never seen my grandma drive.¬† That didn’t mean that she couldn’t drive just that she didn’t. ¬†(Hand¬†to forehead smack.)

We sidled around to the back and our eyes widened. Not in awe. In horror. We had inherited what appeared to be a land yacht. In celadon.  After anticipating the VW this was a shocker. Most certainly not even a distant relation to a V-Dub. A Galaxy 500. It sounded more like a bowling ball name than a car.  And the color looked like a bowling ball too. A dirty one. If you squinted, you could tell it had been sparkly once upon a time-just like I had wanted. Only not red. More like faded metallic grasshopper.  Mercy.

The Land Yacht

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With my mom and dad giving us the evil eye,image

we quickly composed ourselves and thanked them profusely.

We had a good visit and back-burnered our feelings about the car. On the ride home though, all bets were off, and we voiced our not-so-polite opinions with my dad as ringleader.

That poor old¬†car had seen better days for sure.¬† It’s not that we weren’t grateful.¬† It was just this car was a jalopy.¬†A beater, a crate, a¬†clunker.¬† A beast of a car.¬†So embarrassing!¬†We soon found out the car had more than its share of foibles.¬† For one thing the drivers side window didn’t roll up all the way.¬†(I was greeted by a front seat full of snow on more than one occasion.) ¬†It was a moody starter.¬† As in, it may or may not start on any given day.¬†The seat had one position—waaayyyy back, which made reaching the pedals a challenge.¬† Oh, and the car belched smoke and did the shimmy-shimmy shake when the ignition was turned off…there is that.

On the plus side, at least it wasn’t a stick-shift. And the velvety interior was pristine. And I could haul all my friends to drill team in the mornings.¬†¬†On the days¬†it started.¬† One day it broke down in the snow just feet from the schools entrance.¬†We all piled out, as busses of kids¬†roared¬†past and¬†mocked. ¬†That was particularly humiliating.¬†Another day it decided reverse wasn’t its thing anymore.¬† It was mortifying. But cute boys pushed¬†us out so there was a bonus in that.¬† From then on I had to park in a pull-thru space where no reversing was required.¬†I had been getting away with parking in the teachers lot up against the building because no one would ever think a kid would drive that big ‘ol car. Busted!

That car provided me, (and countless others) with hours of awkward and frustrating moments. But I grew to love those moments and to laugh with and at them. And by default, I grew to love the car as well. IMG_5445

A few years after high school, it was with real sadness that I agreed to let my brother put down that old car in a demolition derby for charity. But a fitting end for the old girl. She was quite well-known in the community by then!

Nowadays, that¬†Galaxy 500¬†that was the bane of my existence in 1980¬†is considered a classic, and worth a boatload of money.¬† Looking back I wouldn’t trade¬†it for the red VW, or any other car either.¬†Unwittingly my¬†¬†grandparent’s generosity¬†provided me¬†with some of my best memories of high school. The funniest ones for sure!¬† And¬†cherry on top?¬†¬†We¬†were the Guardians of the Galaxy way before it was cool.

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~We Don’t Remember Days, We Remember Moments~

Cesare Pavese