Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Turning 60: January, Lunch With My Niece

How often do we say we are going to get together with someone, and the years go by and it never seems to take place? Yes, we email, we Facebook, we text; and it’s not like we are out of reach, but we always seem to talk about doing something, and it never happens.

My “special event” for January is a simple event, but special to the two of us. My niece, my husband’s older sister’s daughter, a junior bridesmaid in my wedding, moved in 2012 from the Canton, Ohio area to Worthington, Ohio. She’s now about 15 minutes from my daughter’s home. I was deliriously happy with this move!

Several months ago hubby and I took The Perfect Grandchild over to their house to play with her youngest, who is almost four. That was the first time we had seen their house. We also spent a Christmas celebration there with her parents, their family and hubby and me. They have YET to get our way, although they attended the Wedding of the Decade. They have not seen our present home….yet. We absolutely must rectify that situation soon!

Kris is forty-seven, twelve years younger than I; and was half my age when I got married. She was (entirely too) young when she was married in 1986, but it seems like yesterday. She’s not supposed to be forty-seven. Of course, I am not supposed to be fifty-nine either.
Kris as a twelve-year-old, braces and all.

It has not always been easy to be close to them. She had four babies in rapid succession, the oldest being ten months younger than my baby. So now, we are both in the “launching” season of life. Her daughter has been married for almost three years! She has two more in college at OSU and one a home-schooled senior in high school. She has a daughter who just turned thirteen, a daughter who will be eight in the spring and the “baby” daughter who will be four in the spring. In December of 2007, she gave birth silently to a son.

Over the years we have visited, and our kids played together. We kept in touch regularly with the advent of email and Facebook. Now, we stand at another stage in life. We have done for others for years—it’s now time for us!

Since I haven’t lived in Columbus since 1975 and she just moved there, we put our heads together, and we ended up at a home d├ęcor warehouse.  Even though she’s in a rental; as they await building their (we certainly hope) final home, we both were attracted by some things and made some purchases. Mostly, we made mental notes. We would return.

My absolute favorite picture of Kris!
She is such a hoot!
A Panera Bread was close by. Sorry, Wicked Amy, I treated myself to broccoli soup in a bread bowl; enough bread for three days! I will pay for this next week!

Kris and I just sat there for several hours, talking about things from our past, present work and family to our dreams for the next stage of life. If you are reading this, there’s a good chance we talked about you! It was so nice, just to talk, and not be interrupted by anyone! Her children are well-behaved and interrupt politely, but her home is not the place to really talk. 

We shared our vision for growing older, hopefully living close enough to see each other often, and sharing grandchildren as time marches on. We both enjoy our books and music and share our love for God, and we just have so much in common. Most of the time, we are in agreement. When we are not, we sharpen each other's thinking.

It was such a delight to spend time with one of my favorite people, and we look forward to doing it again with regularity. It was my “special” time for January’s Turning 60 blog entry.

As always, January in Ohio, is "weather permitting." It was a beautiful day!

P.S. Her parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in two weeks. We will see one another SOON!

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Fitness Journey: Back In the Saddle Again

After the highs of the wedding, it’s time to move on and get back to regular life. This includes the Fitness Journey. I keep it real in this blog; my readers know exactly what is going on—at least that which is fit to print. I was doing fine until the week before Thanksgiving, where I gained two pounds, as a result of hosting a shower and then going to Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. I maintained this weight, even as I chose a break in exercise, until the week of Christmas/Wedding itself. I gained another two pounds that week.

Early in December, when I had a slight sprain in my knee, I just made a decision to take a break from the gym as the highest priority was being able to enjoy the wedding with all my energy and no handicaps. I did not want the photos of the wedding, which last beyond my lifetime, to show me in a boot cast, arm sling or any other contraption that represented the less coordinated side of Mom/Grandma/Great-Grandma.

Looking back, I think it was a good decision, mentally, too. I didn't have to think about working in my gym attendance, in the middle of the holidays and the biggest event in my life for a long time. I could enjoy all the things that needed done during this busy month.

Cue the music!
But I always knew…..after January 2nd, I would be “back in the saddle,” once again.

Wicked Amy and I had made plans to reinstate my personal training schedule. It was indeed time for a ramp-up in my strength and endurance. I made the “resolution” to attend boot camp three times a week. (That said, if something else comes up, boot camp does not rule my life) Also, I started up with again, something I had shelved temporarily.

Amy and I didn't start working together until the third Tuesday in January, because on the second Tuesday, my husband and I went to watch the newlyweds open their gifts. That is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and as I said, the gym was not going to rule my life, when special events occur.

By the fourth week, I had lost the four pounds of Shower/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Wedding, just by using and coming to the gym as regularly as possible. I don’t think we could have expected more than that. But it was now time to shift into a higher gear. Wicked Amy and I have decided that we will work on “form” of the exercises used in boot camp. I may not do as many repetitions as the younger and skinnier women, but I will do them correctly, to get the most benefit of the workout.

Personally, my goal is to work on my abdominal muscles. When everything else will take care of itself, the abdominal muscles seem to be the Last Frontier. I know that I am not alone in this, but it’s still important to me to get this done!

I mentioned other numbers in my End of Year Report. However, Amy and I did take measurements. These were very definitive.  While the weight loss agreed, my BMI (body mass index) was down almost three numbers, and—this is weird to me, but supports the last paragraph—my hips (which include my stomach area) did not lose any inches, but my waist is three inches less. There is definite change there. So we know what needs work, along with strengthening various weaker parts, i.e. my shoulders. Those darn abs!

But also, we know what has been accomplished.

There are women, and men, who starve themselves and go on New Year’s rampages with such a vengeance that they will never be able to keep up! I choose the tortoise method, and turning the page on the year 2013 is as much about life change, empty nest, wedding event, as a fitness page. The Fitness Journey will always go on, for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to write the entry on “maintenance!”

However, in reality, my “goal” weight may not match the weights on the insurance charts; but it will be what I can actually do, maintain and still live the life I want to, without depriving myself of anything! I will always have exercise as a part of my life because I want to be strong as I enter the last season. I want energy and strength most of all; and although I admit to having some vanity in looking as good as possible, it will not be the driving force.

I still have two pounds to go to my last lowest weight, and, hopefully, at least 25 pounds beyond that; ideally 30, giving me a little leeway there. That’s another size and almost all new clothes!

I AM “Back in the Saddle Again.”

Next month: I celebrate an anniversary of a different kind. It has to do with fitness and it has to do with my body. Stay tuned but beware: the keyword is "Gravity."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stuff, and More Stuff. I Am Sick of Stuff!

When I was a young women, single and then married, I had my house under control. I had several different jobs, and my schedule was different for each one, but I had a plan for my housework. 

I read a book “Open Heart, Open Home,” by Karen Burton Mains that essentially said you could make one of two choices: you could clean for company, or you could clean by a routine, and essentially you were READY for company in 15 minutes. Theoretically, you were ready for company at any time. I chose that option.

Even through the years, although my life has gone through seasons, I have followed that concept of cleaning and “maintaining” on schedule, as well as I could.

When I brought that first baby home on October 28, 1983, it all changed. My home was not my own; it was three peoples' stuff. Then we brought another baby home on October 21, 1988 and there was another person with more stuff. Since we had agreed that this was our complete family, I felt confident in having regular garage sales to purge; but as the years went on, the stuff reproduced, it seemed; and Christmas after Christmas brought more and more stuff into our house.

Five years later we popped at the seams, and bought the bigger home, and I had a garage sale before we moved; but it was nice to have a home to “fill.” And we did! Who knew how much stuff kids could accumulate? They weren't the only culprits either; they had two parents accumulating “stuff.”

By 2004 I had a 21-year-old and a 16-year-old. My husband and I were planning a wedding for our daughter, and already formulating the plan for when our son graduated from high school. I knew we had to pare down, and I remember the repeated phrase going through my head, “I will do that when we move,” and distinctly remember the thought, “Why not start now?” So in 2004, I began following a web site and used her methods for decluttering my home. I gave much away. There is another blog which explores this process further here.

In 2005 we launched our first child and that was a major purge. In 2006, she and her husband built a house, so more stuff went then. In 2007 we had a major garage sale, as we were building a house and we knew we would not need some things, so we sold them—and we didn't have to move them.

When we moved into our present home in December of 2007, I really thought we were in good shape. We were……. then! I can’t believe how much we (all three) accumulated in the last five years. There was college, the engagement and planning for the wedding, so again we were at an impasse as to what would be needed after all that was over.

There are things I want to keep forever, like a solid maple headboard that is a twin bed. I don’t know if any of my family will ever use a twin bed again, but it is a well-made piece of furniture. Then there is the crib which is now illegal, and I don’t have a clue what to do with it. It will be time for another garage sale in the spring.

So we've launched the baby and his belongings, and we are back to square zero, as in early marriage. Since we both are good about cleaning up and picking up after ourselves, the house practically cleans itself. It’s a good thing too, neither of us has the energy we had in our twenties and thirties.

Excepting the “garage sale corner” in the basement, I am really OK with this. The house fits us and we fit the house. We have room for overnight guests, and we have plenty of room for other functions. We have room for grandchildren.

This is how I did picture my retirement home. I am glad I kept my son home a little longer than normal, as he enters his new stage in life prepared (well, he doesn't clean so good!).  But I am ready for the “back to the future” of the empty nest, and I hope and pray there are many good years ahead.

Friday, January 18, 2013

From Man Cave to Grandma Room in Eight Days

I never worried about the empty nest. I knew it would come soon enough.

When we planned the building of our present (retirement) home, we knew that our son would live with us during his college years.  However, I always had a vision for the years beyond that. He would live in the basement, and then the room would become the “family room.” Hopefully, by that time, we would have grandchild(ren) and we would want a playroom and another area for watching TV, for those who didn't agree with whatever was on TV in the living room.

I didn't buy new things. We had an extra living room couch and love seat, two original end tables, and we purchased a good dinette set to keep here. Our son used only the love seat and one end table and bought a recliner. I didn't care if he took his futon and the recliner, his desk, bookshelves and of course his HDTV.

By the time he got married, the only thing he took was the HDTV. His desk may still go, we don’t know yet.

Ideally, I would have liked new furniture for the living room, move that furniture to the basement, and move the basement stuff OUT. We bought two cars in 2012, so that changed things. I would be redecorating the basement on the cheap. It’s OK; I think that is where you develop the most creativity.

Stuff that the son left.
I took the day off after the wedding. Then I moved into high gear. I cleared out everything that Favorite Son left, and put it on the ping pong table in the other room. Then I moved the pieces I wanted to keep into the general place I wanted them. I organized the bookshelf with my stuff and children’s books. That was all for that day.

Friday I went shopping and bought new towels and rugs for the bathroom, as well as new rugs for the bathroom and utility room upstairs (it was just time).

Saturday I got my husband into the act. He began by shampooing some of the rug, in places that needed attention. When that dried, we moved the mattress, and two futons into the unfinished part of the basement; and we moved the couch back into the family room. I brought an end table and floor lamp down from upstairs. We got all the furniture in position. Then we tried to lift the old TV on to an old desk. Our neighbor came to help and within a second, we all knew that old desk was not going to work. The TV went back on the floor.

So, on Sunday we had to go shopping for something on which to put the TV. I went to church, we met for lunch and went to Morris Furniture. We were also looking for two MATCHING (for the first time in our marriage) recliners for the living room upstairs, and we found what we were looking for AND we found a beautiful TV cabinet in a back room of the store that was perfect! We brought the TV stand home and put that downstairs. Another neighbor came over to help. Things were taking shape.

On my way home from Morris Furniture, I swung by Target and found two lampshades and a little kitchen set for my granddaughter. I went to the Family Christian bookstore to get something for over the piano that my mother gave me. I didn't know exactly what I wanted, but I saw a print that was about praise, and it used the colors of the room. I bought it.

The baby's playroom.
During all of this time, I was washing toys. They had been stored in the unfinished part of the basement for five years, and were full of cement dust. They were disgusting, and I apologize profusely for letting my grand-nieces and nephews play with them! UGH! I would wash in the evening, and then I would wash some more before leaving for work in the morning. It seemed all I did was wash Fisher Price© little people for four days.

By Monday afternoon, Jerry had picked up the new chairs so we moved the others downstairs. We had everything in place and we made some minor adjustments. Tuesday we went to the newlyweds’ home to watch them open gifts. By Wednesday evening, we were ready to hang pictures. It took two hours.

Thursday evening I had one thing left to do and that was finishing the curtains for the smaller windows. I had previously hung the curtain for the egress window. This was fabric from two houses ago. The living room suite is thirty years old next month, but because it was always in the lesser-used room of the house; while I wouldn't say it looks brand new, it looks fine. One of the tables and one of the lamps is from our first marital purchases. I brought in accents and pictures that we have had for decades.

Finished family room!
This was make-do time and we made it work. We now have a comfortable place for “the girls” to go, or I can go watch a movie on A & E during the Super Bowl if I want to. Baby has a nice playroom to grow into.  I have two pianos now, but in the basement I actually have one that I can play and not bother my husband.

From Man Cave to Grandma Room in eight days. It was always in the plan. Now I am ready to implement it! Come visit me!

P.S. I have an idea for a coffee table that I found on Pinterest. It could happen! I am tired for now.

Another P.S. It seems that my husband also likes this room. At present he has a jigsaw puzzle laid out on the table! What's up with that? 

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Wedding

One of the things about writing this blog that is very important to me is telling MY story and not the story of others, without their permission. I know that some of my readers have been waiting to hear about the Wedding of the Decade (Kate and Will not-withstanding). While turning the son’s “man cave” into my own “woman cave” these last few days, I have had time to think about how I wanted to approach this topic.

The blog on my “woman cave” is for the future! Denise’s design and decorating abilities—not quite ready for prime time!
I had one baby at age 30 and the other at age 35. Just as there is a big difference between pregnancy and giving birth at these two ages, there is a big difference in being the mother of the bride or groom at age 52 and again at age 59.

It’s called tired. It’s called stamina. Whatever you call it, I was wore out!

But I honestly don’t know when I've had more fun.

It was a three-day marathon for us. Saturday we helped to decorate the banquet hall, on Sunday we hosted the rehearsal luncheon at the church where the rehearsal was held. That worked out well. We went into the social room while the last service was taking place, and set up for the dinner. Our son’s fellow basketball coach owns several Subways and he brought in the food about noon. He was a great help in set-up, serving and clean up. (He even watched the rehearsal!)

On the wedding day itself, we had the morning to relax at home. That was nice, all three of us, mother, father and groom, just hanging out. Then it picked up; I had my hair done at 2:00 PM, I came home, dressed, and we were off to the church by four o’clock. The church is on the property of the drive-in theater across from Park Layne.

My second cousin was the florist. This floral shop has done my mother’s wedding, my wedding, my daughter’s wedding and now my son’s wedding. I told her I was done, at least with weddings. I was able to pass out the flowers to the respective persons, and pin a few flowers on people.

As with most weddings, there were pictures taken before the wedding. The bride and groom are not superstitious people, and all the formal shots were taken also. I was very glad that I brought my little camera and took some of my own. They aren't professional by any stretch, but it’s something to show people! The professional shots won’t be ready for awhile.

I enjoyed coming out and visiting with people as they entered the church foyer. It’s nice to not have to be overly concerned with every detail. My biggest concern was for my granddaughter; but her other grandmother was in charge of her, and she even got the little one to take a late afternoon nap.  She was supposed to come down the aisle, but that wasn't happening. Nana didn't get to see the wedding.

During the wedding itself, I thought I would be crying, but I wasn't. I was just so proud of my son. It’s hard to believe that the little person that I gave birth to was actually doing this. He takes things seriously, and he took his wedding vows seriously. There would be time for fun later. It was not a long service, and the pastor did share what a joy it was to counsel the couple. They said their vows, lit the unity candle and he pronounced them "Mr. and Mrs. Derge." 

We had a beautiful night with snow, so the couple exited to the limousine through a line of sparklers. That was kind of cool, I had never seen this done before. The rest of us gathered our things and headed to Springfield to the reception. It was even more beautiful than the room we left on Saturday evening. They started the food early, and I grabbed my plate early on, so I could eat and then I would be able to talk to guests.

Yes, I danced with my son. He picked the song "Simple Man," by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I thought, "Oh my goodness, this is too fast," but if you You Tube this song, the lyrics are perfect. We managed, it wasn't easy to dance to. (And it's too long) But it was a great song.

The bride and groom with their
first dance to Carrie Underwood's
"Look At Me."
The most fun for me was dancing with all my former neighbors. We all got out on the dance floor and undoubtedly embarrassed our children; but the neat thing about this event is that it represented my kids, their friends, and their friends’ parents, who are my friends. We ALL had a good time. This was community; this was a celebration of two “hometown” kids getting married. As the maid-of-honor said in her toast, “If this wasn't a Midwest fairy tale,” —a teacher and coach marrying a nurse, she didn't know what was!

We counted down until midnight, and rang in 2013. I know I kissed someone, I am not sure that it was my husband. We got together eventually. We lasted until about 1:30 AM and then we headed home. I didn't get into bed until 2:30 and maybe I slept 4 hours.  I was pretty wound up.

On New Year’s Day I did NOTHING! Wisely, I took January 2nd off from work also. I needed to get my legs back under me.

All in all, it was a wonderful time for me. I love both these kids so much and believe that they chose a time in life to start out well.  I am glad they began their home in a house of God. Their priorities are good ones, and like all of us have experienced, there will be adjustments in learning to live together.

They should do OK. Their apartment has more square footage than our first home!

Next up: My "Woman Cave."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Twelve Days Before a Wedding

The Mother (and Father) of the Groom does not have the responsibilities of the bride, groom, or her parents.  That doesn’t mean there still aren’t things to be done, especially when the nuptials are scheduled around the holidays. That said; here is my version of the Twelve Days Before a Wedding.

On the twelfth day before the wedding, I helped with the seating charts. I didn’t actually DO them, but I spent time texting relatives and double-checking RSVPs so that the bride could do her work. I gave suggestions as to who belongs with whom, although ALL our relatives know each other after 35 years and it’s REALLY ok! They all know how to behave; well, at a formal event, anyway.

On the eleventh day before the wedding, the bride and groom got their marriage license. Mother of the Groom bought new make-up.

On the tenth day before the wedding, it is a snow day and the FOG and groom got their tuxes fitted. Later, in the evening, my son and I counted all the favors and put them into an air-tight container so that they remain fresh.

On the ninth day before the wedding, the groom and I went to the bank. I took my name off all his accounts and we combined two of them. My name was always on the kids’ accounts because I worked at this bank. This will be my last connection to his money, in any way! (I still own his car, but we’ll deal with that after the honeymoon).

On the eighth day before the wedding, it started to sink in. The groom, a teacher, is out for Christmas Break, and began to move MOST of his clothes and teaching and coaching “stuff” –I quit asking what this stuff was a long time ago—out of the house. The groom, his father and I carried it from the basement and loaded it into his father’s crossover SUV and the groom’s compact car. I stayed home. Dad helped him take it to the apartment. That was enough for me.

On the seventh day before the wedding, it was Christmas Eve. Father and I went to church with the bride and groom, before they took off with the evening with her family. We were alone.

On the sixth day before the wedding, it was Christmas Day. We saw the bride and groom for about 15 minutes before they again went to the OTHER side of her family’s Christmas. BTW, we had our Christmas on December 16th. We were not alone though, as we spent some time with our granddaughter—seeing what Santa brought—and then going to our niece’s home for the evening.

On the fifth day before the wedding, we got another gift of a snow day. As I was planning to work, I didn’t have anything scheduled to do for the wedding. I used the time to take down the Christmas tree—have never done this so early—but felt that next week, AFTER the wedding, I will thank myself profusely.  I also began to go through some of the things he left and laid them out on the ping pong table for “decision making time.” He was home in the evening and we sat and talked in his room in the basement. It was not lost on me that this would most likely be his last “normal” night home for a talk, about anything or nothing. From here on out, it will be a zoo.

On the fourth day before the wedding, I went into work late. I was scheduled to get my nails done at 3:00 and my hair at 4:30. The nail tech was ½ hour late (she did call me) so I called my hairdresser and she had sick children and needed to go to urgent care. I accepted a noon appointment for the next day and went on home. When I arrived home, there just seemed to be clothes thrown around everywhere. I have accepted the fact that we are in the stage of “moving out” and the bedroom is a mess. But then, it caught my eye; the half-packed suitcase of stuff that would be going on the honeymoon. I’m mad, I’m frustrated and now, I’m emotional. Hubby is not with me; he’s taking care of the baby while daycare is on Christmas break. I need wine. NOW!

On the third day before the wedding, I got up and went into work early. Joel was still asleep in the basement, but I peeked in the “upstairs bedroom,” and all of his clothes were laid out on the bed, ready to be moved. Sigh. This was the day that it was pretty much going to happen. Yes, a few outfits would be left, for Mom to wash and have ready to be moved after they return from the honeymoon, but for all practical purposes today was moving day. He would live there, and be visiting here the next three nights!

I got my hair done at noon and that chopped up the day, but it all was fine overall. I stopped by the grocery, and the fitness club to set up my personal training regimen for January. Yes, I WILL return! Then I came home and relaxed in the evening. Jerry arrived home at 7:30. We had a quiet evening. I did not see the groom this entire day, although we texted.

On the second day before the wedding, we helped decorate the hall. I have never been so tired in a very long time. Most mothers of grooms are not 59 years old. My husband and I left the house about 9 and we went to the venue, and along with about 20 members of the bride’s family; decorated the room where the reception is to be held. I worked on centerpieces, folding napkins, setting tables and anything else that was assigned to me. I did NOT get on any ladders. We left at 5:00 PM, and it was snowing. It was beautiful. I love downtown Springfield. I have spent 8 years of my life working in three organizations in downtown Springfield; and I always feel a sense of “home” when I am there. The reception is being held in the area where my grandmother took me shopping, and we always went to lunch—of course!

On the day before the wedding, Jerry and I set up for the rehearsal dinner while everyone else was in church. God will forgive me.  We had quite a bit of set up and then Gary brought in the Subway food but he was amazing in setting up the food, serving, and cleaning up. The rehearsal and the dinner went well. It wasn’t as long of a day as yesterday but still was about 5 ½ hours total. I was tired. I came home and took a nice long hot bath. The groom was home about 9; his last night home. We talked about logistics of the next day, where to keep passports, and turning off cell phones when out of the country.
Two crazy people ringing in
the New Year 2013!

On the Day of the Wedding, I didn’t sleep well. I finally dozed off about 4 AM and woke at 8 AM.  That was going to be it. I had a nice quiet morning, listened to some music and fixed myself some breakfast. The guys were coming and going and doing this and that. I went to get my hair done at 2. When I came home, they were getting ready to go to the church and I realized that if we were NOT going to drive two cars, I needed to get ready in about 15 minutes. Fastest.time.ever! I did not want to drive two cars in the snow, darkness (returning home) and just being alone!

We arrived at the church a little after four. There was primping to be done, pictures to be taken—the groom saw the bride before the wedding—and general getting organized. The wedding started on the downbeat of 7:30. It was a nice wedding, and reflected the tastes of the couple. The pastor told little stories on them and they said the “traditional vows.”

As I sat there, I know that many of my readers thought I would cry. I was at that place where I literally WAS at a “cliff;” one little thing could have tipped me over the edge. But I was so darned proud of these kids, the son I raised to be a man and husband, that I just took it all in. My husband, on the other hand, was essentially a wreck. He has not approved this message. I am just telling the truth!

The reception was as much fun as I have had in years. The music was very youth-oriented. I danced with my old neighbors and friends and had a wonderful time. We were all a little crazy. There is no doubt that this wedding will be remembered for a long time. It was like a reunion of high school AND their parents, which was the cool part. It wasn’t just about kids.

We counted down the clock until midnight and drank a champagne toast at that time. Jerry and I left about 1:30. I was really tired, but enjoyed every moment. I was in bed by 2:30 AM.

On the Day after the Wedding, I slept 3 ½ hours and woke up at my “normal” time of 6:00 AM. As with all of us; I get confused when a holiday falls in the middle of the week. What day was this? I looked under my doorway for the normal light that I can see when one of the men is up for work. There is no light, I realize what day it is (a holiday) and then I realize; there will not be anymore “Joel” light, getting ready for work. And that’s when I realize he is gone.

That’s when the tears flow.