Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Travel Snapshot-Peace and Tranquility

Why a road sign?  This picture may not mean much to anyone else, but to me I look at it and am transported. Taken back to two weeks ago when I was relaxing with a book in my hand at my campsite on Big Arbor Vitae Lake. I passed this sign everyday when I went for my 2 mile stroll.

For one week every July since my daughter Megan was about 3 years old, we have joined my parents on their yearly trip to first northern Michigan then northern Wisconsin. This has been a yearly ritual for me since I was about a month old.  

The first years Megan and I joined my parents were filled with days at the beach, day trips all over northern Michigan, and a trip to Mackanaw Island
. These last couple of years, now that Megan is a teenager,  are more relaxing since she likes to just stretch out on the zero gravity lounger like Mom and read. About the only time she leaves is to go fishing with Grandpa after supper till after dark, then their traditional dish of post fishing ice cream after. 

So this picture takes me back to peace and quiet. I think everyone has that picture they look back on and are taken back to a peaceful time of their life. It can be a travel snapshot or maybe even a picture of a flower grown in the backyard. 

What's yours?

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Mom, You're So Weird!"

I wrote this little piece last week on vacation. I was trying to find a way to communicate to my daughter what she means to me even though at times having a teenage daughter can be uh um interesting.  I know it's a little different from my other posts, but parenting is a journey and one that I am grateful to be experiencing! I just wanted to share.

"Mom, you're so weird" is a phrase I hear daily out of my 15 (soon to be 16) year old daughter. Unfortunately I do not agree with her at all. I think I'm a pretty cool mom. I think I dress okay, meaning I would never be caught dead going to Wal Mart in pajama bottoms. I love to shop, wear makeup, have an open mind concerning pre-martial sex, birth control, and same-sex marriage. I love to travel and experience the world and I love to read. The latter being the no #1 pastime of said daughter.

None if this means anything to her! Honestly when I found out over 16 years ago I was going to have a daughter and knowing by choice that this was going to be my only shot at parenthood, I was overjoyed! I dreamed of a close Mother-Daughter relationship that was all hugs and kisses. A relationship where she would come to me with every question and problem and in my infinite wisdom I could offer advice and a good shoulder to cry on.

So far it has not worked out that way....

I think in the back of every mother's minds this is what they dream of.

As a child my daughter was headstrong. She used to have temper tantrums to shake the heavens, but then come cuddle with you. She would spend hours playing with dolls and didn't mind being alone.

She was always a daddy's girl who wanted to spend all her time with him and liked everything he did. Even at this age, she has maintained this special bond with him. This was always something I was thankful for. There is something to be said of a solid Father-Daughter relationship. It is widely known that if your daughter has a loving, involved father figure in her life when she is young, it will be a model for strong healthy relationships with men in the future. If her strong relationship with Dad follows that statement, I have nothing to worry about!

On the other hand-relationships between mother and daughter are one of the most complex and complicated.

Those toddler temper tantrums may be a thing of the past, but to replace that are these teenage mood swings (aka teenage temper tantrums) that leave me to believe she is from another planet. Also don't get me started on that glare that can only make me want to duck for fear of a dagger passing over my head. Actually I have felt my hair move already! True story! Plus who can forget the ever popular eye roll.

On occasion her true self comes through and she has an incredible sense of humor (as her tweets clearly show), and a mind of her own where she does not go along with the crowd, she's artsy and has a great style all her own, plus she stands up for herself.

Honestly as many times as she says I am weird or she locks herself in her room when I am trying to talk to her or get her to do something, my love for her never waivers. I never feel the need to tell her I hate her like my mom told me once. I love spending time with her going shopping (which she is not a fan of-totally unlike me), camping when it's just us two, watching movies (we both love movies), and listening to her on the rare occasion when she wants to fill me in on her life.

So she can call me weird anytime she likes. There came a point where I thought my mom was weird too and I am waaaay cooler than my mom ever could be!! I know this for a fact since all my friends(and her friends too) think I'm cool.

I love her to death and secretly hope when she gets asked out on her first date it will be me she tells first (highly unlikely, but that's my fantasy) and when she gets her heart broken for the first time, she will cry her eyes out on my shoulder and maybe for a single moment she won't think I'm so weird.

Yes, having a teenage daughter can be trying at times, but I consider myself lucky and only have to deal with the trivial stuff. It could be a whole lot worse. I guess I may never have that " I think my Mom is the greatest" kind of relationship with my daughter, but maybe someday my hope is she will just look at me and say "Mom, I think you pretty cool and I love you"

Please note: I am an incredibly patient person. I have to be.....

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taste Of Chicago Weekend

One if the things that has been on my list of things to do for many years has been going toTaste Of Chicago. It always conflicted with our camping week, so it was never really an option. This year though I decided to leave for camping on Monday and spent the weekend in my favorite US city eating some awesome food at Taste with my BFF Becky and my daughter Megan.

Oh, was I glad we didn't make it a day trip! When we arrived by train on Saturday, we were greated with a major downpour of rain. Even though we came prepared with umbrellas, just the run from the overhang in the front of the station to the cab left us soaked! 
We waited at the hotel for the rain to subside. It didn't take long to end and we walked over to the site of Taste only to find that it had been cancelled due to the rain!! Disappointing as this was, we decided the only logical thing to do was to hit the stores.
Several hours later and a few dollars poorer, we took the red line up to see Blue Man Group. Fabulous show which I highly recommend!

Sunday we woke to news that yes, Taste would be going on. After meeting my friends Erin and her Sister Robin at Wildberry by Millenium Park for breakfast (I seriously recommend this place for the most mouthwatering pancakes ever. Just be prepared to wait! No reservations accepted), we walked over to Taste and bought our tickets for sampling the food. The bad thing was after such a great breakfast, we knew we were not going to be very hungry.

It turned out to be a hot humid day but that didn't stop us from sampling some awesome food. My favorite was the truffle fries, and the yummy creme brûlée cupcake from Chicago Cupcake. If you've never had one before, it's a cross between a cupcake and cheesecake. Fabulous. We also stood in line to get the free piece of cheesecake from the ginormous Eli's cheesecake. I had to get my picture taken with their mascot!!

It was hot and crowded so after a couple of hours we had enough. After the disappointment in Saturday, Sunday more than made up for it. 

As always it was a fun weekend even with the rain putting a little damper on Saturday, but all in all we didn't care. I got my fill of great food and another thing crossed off my bucket list!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fabulous Overnight Getaway To Chateau De Pere

My hubby is always full of surprises.  This past weekend to celebrate our 24th Anniversary he told me to pack a bag  after I came home from work Friday, we were heading to an undisclosed location for the night. After some questions about what to pack we headed off north.

Now you all know my obsession for all things French right?   The only hint he would give me was that our getaway had a French theme.  So imagine my happiness when we arrived after a 45 minute drive to Chateau De Pere in De Pere Wisconsin.  I had been to the restaurant, Café Chanson just this past summer for a Paris girls reunion lunch, so I was a little familiar with that. This restaurant offers traditional French food. 

Not only were we going to have a dinner later in the restarant, but we were going to stay overnight in the beautiful 36 suite hotel!  After we checked in we took the elevator to the second floor to find a beautifuly decorated King Suite with a single whirlpool tub.  It was a corner room, so we had a view of the river on two sides.  We found the room to be quiet and the king sized bed to be incredibly comfortable.  The great part was they are running a special for the month of April.  All rooms are just $69.00 a night!  Check out the website for details.

We had early dinner reservations ay Café Chanson since we were going to a comedy club later.  It was a Friday night and being it was quite early there were not many people in the dining room.  I started out with a white chocolate martini.  We then ordered a Cassolette for starters and for dinner I ordered Beef Bourguignon.  Both were delicious!

It was a perfect overnight getaway!  So if you are looking for a wonderful French themed place to escape to, look no further than De Pere Wisconsin.  De Pere is just a short distance to Green Bay and the famed Lambeau Field which is the home of the world famous Green Bay Packers

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Travel Snapshot-Sault Ste. Marie

Every summer during our week vacation to the UP of Michigan we always took day trips to various places.  This particular year we drove up to Sault Ste Marie to watch the ships come in.  This is a shot of the town.

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Year Of Gratitude-Music Tells My Story

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America.  Music has always been a big part of my life.  There was always music coming from the stereo in my parents living room.  They listened to the Beatles, Elvis, The Platters, and Connie Frances just to name a few.  My Mom had a nice record collection filled with 50's and 60's music.  Pop, rock and country-they listened to it all.

I still have my first album!!

That love of music rubbed off on their daughter.  The first album I ever owned was ( promise not to laugh!)  Donny Osmond My Best To You.  I saved my money and bought that record at the age of 8.  Somehow Puppy Love spoke to me!  More like I dreamed of Donny singing that song just for me!    When Donny's sister Marie put out Paper Roses I bought that album too and promptly spent countless hours singing along into my hairbrush.  Soon I joined the Columbia record club and had albums sent right to my house.  I ordered my first stereo for my bedroom from the mail and the day it arrived I was so excited.  We had a snowstorm that day and I begged my Dad to take me to the trucking warehouse to pick it up!  After that I didn't come out of my room almost all my teenage years! I diligently spent every Sunday afternoon locked in my room listening to Casey Kasum's American Top Forty and obsessively recording in notebooks all 40 songs every week.

Music is the universal language.  No matter what I was going through, music always made me feel better.  Through music I could somehow, through listening, express how I felt. The words, the melodies brought out so many emotions I could not express.

Another music habit I had was falling asleep every night to the radio. I only stopped years later when my hubby didn't appreciate this habit so much.  Sometimes you have to make a sacrifice.

I still love music.  I've been a fan of pop, punk, new wave, disco, rock, classical, and alternative music.  Donna Summer, Queen, Pat Benetar, Garbage,  INXS, The Cars, The Partridge Family, Alanis Morissette, Radiohead, they are all on my play list.  Of course no band speaks to me as much as my favorite band U2.  The boys make up about 70% of my playlist. Plus there is nothing like going to see your favorite band live.  The electricity in the air when you hear those songs you love live can be transforming.

So music has always been a big part of my life. Music has always been there for me when circumstances in life have let me down. When I'm happy, well there's a song for that too.

I am grateful that music is a big part of my life.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Travel Snapshot-Washington DC

Looking out over Washington DC from Arlington National Cemetery on a very hot July 4th 2012.  I think it was about 102 degrees this day.  Seeing the fireworks in our nations capitol made this trip memorable.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Travel Snapshot- Big Arbor Vitae Lake Northern Wisconsin

Sick of winter?  I thought so!  I couldn't agree more.  Today with the wind chill it was about -40 below.  That's weather not fit for man or beast!  So it was time to share a little slice of summer.  this pic was from my week long yearly camping trip to the north woods of Wisconsin.  Our campground happened to be right on Big Arbor Vitae Lake in Vilas County.  Every morning I would take a walk on the road that runs along the lake.  Ah! looking forward to those dog days of summer!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

In Celebration of Parents and Grandparents-My Year of Graditude

Myself, Mom, Dad, my daughter Megan

I'm lucky enough to still have both my parents with me.  They live only 3 miles from me, but yet if I see them every couple of weeks or so that's about it.  my Mom especially has always had the philosophy that she wanted to stay out of her kids lives and if we needed her, we knew where to come to.  I depended on them a lot when our daughter was young.  My Mom took care of her from the time she was 5 and going to pre-school until she was old enough to be on her own.  Besides us my parents were the ones who were with her the most.  She has that special bond with them that every Grandchild should have with their Grandparents.  I certainly had it with my Grandmother, who has been gone for many years now, but I think of her almost everyday and miss her terribly.  Some of my most precious childhood memories were of spending time in the summer staying at her house.  I can still see her sitting at the kitchen table in her apron teaching me how to macramé, or embroider, or letting me play with her jewelry. As Grandmas go, she was a perfect one in my eyes.

Sunday I had my parents over for dinner.  It was my Dad's birthday during the week and We decided to make dinner and have them over.  After dinner we sat at the table talking about my Dad's Mom who is in her 90's and living in an assisted living facility. Its not often I can get my parents to talk about the past, they tend to not share stories as easily as other families do, but on this day they shared a few about my Grandpa and Great Grandpa.  My Grandpa died from cancer when I was a toddler, so the only recollection I have of him is from old 8MM film.  My Mom said how my Great Grandpa used to come over everyday to get a peak at me when I was a baby.

At times I have to remind myself that my parents will not be around forever.  I did not always have the best relationship with them.  I know for a fact they will tell you I wasn't the perfect child. We probably had a pretty normal family life.  We were lucky in that as a family we did so many things together.  Snowmobile, camp. fish, going on yearly vacations, my parents saw to it that we had a good life.

So in my year of gratitude, I am first celebrating my parents and grandparents.  Our parents shape us into what we become as adults.  Grandparents are the ones who have the patience to teach us all kinds of things and love us even when we don't clean our rooms.

And I am grateful for them all.....

Monday, January 20, 2014

My Year Of Gratutude

I know it's almost the end of Jannuary, so the time to make those New Years resolutions has long past. I didn't really make any formal resolutions as of yet.  Usually it's the vow to get in shape and yes I guess you could say I secretly made that vow to myself again this year.  The other thing I want to accomplish this year is to do more writing.  I loved writing just the little bit I did here and I kinda got so involved with work the past 7 months or so that all my extra stuff just got put on a shelf.

So in thinking about some of the things I'd like to share besides the fun things I do and other tidbits, I decided to make this year my year of gratitude.  It is so easy to get into the "negativity" rut.  I really try to make it my daily goal to see the glass half full.

So for 2014 I will make it my mission to share those things I am thankful for.  Sort of my personal gratitude journal.  My mission is to spread joy and to give everyone something to think about.  What are you thankful for? It's a good thing to ask yourself that question from time to time. We are all surrounded with things that we can feel greatful for.

Last year I started off with a gratitude jar.  Maybe you have seen this where everytime something good happens you are suppose to write it down and put those slips of paper in a jar.  At the end of the year you take them out and read them.  I love this idea!  I highly recommend trying this (I didn't get too many slips in my jar, not because good things didn't happen, I just didn't write them down)

This year my vow will be to really focus on all the things I can be grateful for. it may be a big thing or a small thing, right now I'm thinking just  one day of sunshine during an already long cold dreary winter! Yup, I'd be very happy with one of those.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Travel Snapshot

Since our Wisconsin winter has been long so far, I have been dreaming of summer. This picture was taken last summer during a mini escape to one of my favorite cities, Chicago. Next time you find yourself in the Windy City by all means take a 90 minute architectural boat tour. It is well worth it!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What Would We Do Without Our Girlfriends?

As a female I consider us the fortunate of the two genders.  Why you ask?  Simply because I think we are better at friendship than men.  Don't get me wrong, I know men are perfectly capable of having good male friends, I just don't think they have them on the level we women do.

I for one honestly couldn't get by without my girlfriends.  Maybe cause I am not fortunate enough to have any sisters, I feel the need to fill that female void.  Let's face it we women crave intimacy. I'm not talking about the same intimacy you can share with you spouse. I'm talking about the kind of connection that women share.  Its much easier to talk to your girlfriends about those hot flashes and wrinkles that we um.....women of a certain age experience, than to face that glazed over look you get from your hubby when you start talking about "those things".  Plus you need someone to share those crazy things your hubby does that either drive you crazy or make you laugh till your cheeks hurt!

I don't know about you, but if you have a few (or maybe even one) girlfriends that you can count on to listen or make you laugh till you cry, you are a very rich person.

A couple of my friends I have had forever.  My friend B and I have been friends since Sixth grade (trust me that is a LONG time!). She is like a sister to me.  We have been through a ton together and even when our families can let us down we are always there to listen to each other. It's a bonus since our husbands get along and now that we live closer we see each other often.  She's my go to person when I need someone to really figure things out.  I've had my friend G since Sixth grade also.  Her and I went to the same school.  She is my rebel friend.  My husband calls us the Thelma and Louise of Kiel High.  We did a lot of things together and had some great times. We have different lives now, but we keep in contact and see each other a couple times a year. When her first Daughter got married last year, it was like old times celebrating and seeing her family again to talk about the good 'ol days.

Then there are those friends you meet along the way in life.  Some come into your life purely by accident, some you marry into, and once you get to know them-it feels like you've known them forever. They are the ones you have so much in common with that it is like fate that you meet.  When I went on my trip to Paris three years ago I never expected that trip to pay me back in "friendship" dividens.  I met some wonderful people on that trip.  But my friends B and E have certainly made my life richer.  When I need a mood boost I know I can count on B to give me the gift of laughter.  At 75, she is one of the "youngest" women I know.  She honestly has become my inspiration for how I want to age.  My friend E is always ready to go on an adventure.  We've gone on a couple mini trips to Chicago, seen a favorite band, and had many long lunches. When we get together it seems we never run out of things to talk about.  She is one of the most positive people I know.  There's not many people I would feel comfortable meeting at the front door with my pajamas on, her I do.  When I said marry into, I was talking about my Niece K.  Even though she is my Niece through my hubby, we are very close in age.  She makes family get-togethers fun.  We have much in common and do a whole lot of laughing when we get together.  Going shopping with her is serious fun.  She's been through a lot and still has an incredible sense of humor.

There's nothing in the world like having friends that you can laugh so hard with you almost pee in your pants, or your cheeks become numb and your stomach hurts. There's also nothing in this world like having friends that you can be serious with and share life's bad times.  There are many more people that help make my life a happy place to be and I am thankful for all of them.

I'd say we are the luckier gender.  Life would be pretty empty without our girlfriends. If you have some awesome girlfriends in your life-let them know life would be a dull place without them!!!