A night in Orlando

I’m not a party animal anymore. Yes- a long time ago I liked to have a few drinks and let loose with the best of them. But age and the hatred of feeling crummy the next day has slowed me down. Now I’m up late if it’s 10pm. 

So how did I did I find myself out at a party the other night  that didn’t begin until 9pm?  Well I wa he played out in Orlando with two of my kids and Kevin my husband who is here on business. He is working the biggest fitness trade show in the US. His company hosted a VIP party last night and we got tickets. I guess because we are important(not because it was  mandatory for employees to at least show up-enjoy wink.) So I had to go right? 

Well I wanted to go in theory but it was going to cut into my bedtime. So I wasn’t sure. Kevin could go alone except he doesn’t like doing the party scene alone and he really hoped I’d go.  Stick him in front of 5000 people and ask him to talk business and he’s your man. But some social situations make him quiver and he doesn’t drink to calm his nerves. 

Since his precense at least for some of the evening was mandatory, I was feeling like I should go -plus it would be a reason to dress up some and I had just the dress in mind to wear. One that I bought 2 years ago and loved on me but never wore.  It was one of those dresses that could go dressy or go more casual. Perfecto.  It still had tags. It needed a debut. And I had just the shoes. I didn’t care a lick about the party but I wanted to dress up some!

Was Cinderella into going to the ball to find a guy or for the awesome ball gown? I am guessing the duds. Maybe im wrong. She is nearby- in Disney -maybe I should ask her. I’m sure she’d say the clothes. 

So after a busy day walking around the trade show as hubby worked and then spent some time at the pool (so tiring laying in paradise) I was hoping to get a second wind so I could enjoy said party. After I got myself ready I was feeling pretty good. I looked ok -not as in shape as I was when I got the dress but I was looking ok and Kevin thought I looked awesome so that was the point -right? 

We had the teens to contend with. Our two sons are with us here and our daughter joins us on the next leg of our trip in Marco Island.  So we took the boys to dinner. I was a little over dressed for Johhny Rockets but that place is great for the boys. And it was right near the restaurant where the party was being held. And near a movie theater where the boys would be going while we got our groove on. 

Once we disposed of the boys (and I mean that in the nicest way) we strutted our stuff over to the Partay!!  I was kind of excited – which surprised me. 

  The restaurant/bar Cuba Libre was impressive. Kevin’s company pulled out all the stops. Outside they had  two women that were like ten feet tall dressed in gold sequin dresses  standing sentry at the door. They were a sight to see and many people were taking photos.   Inside the restaurant looked like a little town in Cuba. Well I haven’t been to Cuba but I’m thinking that was the effect they were trying to go for. It had beautiful dyed concrete floors and the walls were all fronts of buildings so you felt like you were out in the streets. 

Kevin’s company had rented the entire place for the VIP party for the night. Very private and posh We got there early hoping to make the rounds and then make a quick exit. But there weren’t many people there yet so we’d have to wait a while to make our precense known.  So we may as well make the best of it I thought. 

We migrated to the upper level via a very lovely and long stairway. I got a drink. I said hubby doesn’t drink. I do occasionally and usually no more than one or two. I’m a lightweight. 

We began to see folks Kevin knew arrive and we said some hellos. I was kind of bored and chilly upstairs and I wanted to bail and go back to the hotel room and watch hgtv. But we pressed our way back downstairs and thats where the real action was. The dance floor was packed and the DJ played EDM (electronic dance music) which I didn’t know much about (and still don’t really) until my almost 18 year old daughter got into it. I was ways poo pooing her love of EDM and told her all the kids do at those EDM events are drugs-I’m a harpy sometimes.  And maybe that’s true but I was sort of digging the music at this event. I couldn’t do that nightly my brain would be mush from the intense bass. But I could see why my daughter might like it! Hopefully drug free. 

The dancing was infectious I kind of wanted to jump in. Kevin isn’t a dancer at all and he said I should jump in the fray if I wanted to but I had only one drink in me and it was a small one. I needed more alcohol to fuel my dance legs-so I opted to stay on the edge of the floor and dance some and take photos. And it turned out that I got some kinda cool photos.


A hired photographer was walking around and taking photos of groups and we got in a photo thus cataloging our attendance at the party-(later I would photo bomb another group -it was too much right in my face not to do it – a little of the party Anne is still inside me!) So –hey -after being in an official corporate picture and a photo bomb we could go now there was proof of our attendance -except we didn’t leave. We were kind of having fun watching the dancing .  It wasn’t a place to hold any conversation so I just said hello and smiled a lot. Which was fine with me. I don’t like screaming over blaring music. 

The bummer of the night for me was that the place was getting smoky – they had a cigar making bar set up outside on a terrace. (Cuban bar thing I guess). There are still smoking areas at bars in Florida -outside- but the smoke wafted inside as the doors opened and closed.  And I am super sensitive to smoke. I can’t believe I ever smoked years ago. It boggles me how I did it. But it was getting bad so we went back upstairs hoping for a respite from the pungent cigar smoke – but the smoke was up there too. 

We sat for a bit watching the dancing and I felt myself getting sleepy and a little sick from the smoke . Ugh I’m so not a party girl. I needed a coffee to wake up except I don’t drink caffeine anymore. I know – I feel bad for me to! 

I think Kevin was just waiting for me to say we could go so he had an excuse if anyone from work asked why he left early. 

It was a good party. And the fun was in the watching I think. Though I would have danced maybe if I had another drink. Maybe. 

The company tried to make it a nice night for clients with the dancing and drinks and finger foods. They even had artists doing caricatures -on iPads -my have things changed. I had to take a pictures of that. 

We took a turn in the photo booth they had in a corner and even donned some kooky hats – I still have our photo booth pictures from 18 years ago. Back then you didn’t see them at parties or weddings like you do now.  I wonder if any over indulged parties took photos in there later in the evening. 

Alas I wouldn’t find out as the smoke forced us to have to take leave. No more watching the dancing from the floor of the balconies. We had to squeeze our way  out the door to head home. 

I am not a party girl. This event was so out of my element but it was good I went. And with people of all ages dancing I didn’t feel too old. I think I’ve been feeling old lately for some reason. It was kind of fun really and we realized as we left it was after midnight. 

Way past Cinderellas bedtime and mine-and I didn’t lose a slipper. 

But I already had the handsome prince.  

that last shot i wasnt ready for!


Just wake me when the ball starts dropping…..

celebration-horn-300x243I love the week between Christmas and New Years; the world just seems to slow down. I think I am going to spend the last few days of this year chilling out – maybe read some. Maybe sleep. One day we will visit family from out of town who came to see all of us after my father-in-law passed away last week at the age of 91. I am emotionally exhausted and I need to take a breather.

I want to wind the year down quietly. We were supposed to go skiing in Western Maryland this week and those plans have been put on hold. Not only because of my father-in-laws death – we still may have gone for a night or two- but also because there is only one slope open at the resort – and it is supposed to rain for the entire time we booked our place. If it happens to look more promising in the next couple days we can make the two-hour trek up to the resort and stay a night. I don’t ski anyway – I was hoping for snow tubing – which isn’t open. It is almost like the universe is saying, “just take a breather Anne”.

I have never been a big New Years Eve celebrator. That is not to say I haven’t tried to celebrate it but it always turned out flat- I never felt the elation when that clocked clicked into the New Year.

Maybe going from 1999-2000 was kind of exciting as my mom, my husband, and I sat up waiting for the some catastrophic event to happen because someone forgot to re-program the clock in some important computer somewhere. Nothing happened- which was reason to celebrate- I suppose.

I can recall yet another New Years Eve memory – one of me puking out the passenger side window of my boyfriends car… it was one of the rare times my parents allowed me to go out on New Years Eve in high school. That didn’t end well.

New years Eve is too forced a night for me – and there are too many nuts out drinking and getting behind the wheel. These days, Kevin and I don’t go out – the entire family falls asleep watching TV -after eating some yummy but not good for us food and I normally wake to the countdown of the new year and then wake whoever is piled on the couch and we sleepily cheer and hug and then we head to our respective beds and sleep away the first hours of the new year. It is lovely.

A couple years ago I awoke at 12:02 am and jumped up. I missed the turn of the new year! I always wake up. And as I woke from my haze of dismay I looked over to see my son, Luke, staring at the TV.

“Why didn’t you wake me?” I asked.

“Oh sorry.” He said “I didn’t want to wake you.”

“I told you to wake me before the ball dropped!”

“Oh – but your were really asleep…”

Gah! You can’t win with teens. I woke Kevin up and we went to bed – maybe just a little off kilter – amazing how our night of not celebrating still had a small iota of celebration in it such that if we missed that ball drop it was still a bit disappointing.

I hope someone wakes me this year if I am asleep. Wake me when the ball drops peeps!

As for resolutions, I stopped making them a long while ago. They never stick with me. I have resolved to quit cussing many times – well that didn’t work at all – my world loses a little color if I cant use salty language from time to time- ok it is more often than time to time but I like a lot of color in my world.

One year we had a cussing jar. We set it in our family room if Kevin(who rarely cusses) or I cussed we would have to put fifty cents in the jar. I think we collected a few dollars – not because I didn’t cuss- I just got plain irritated at the jar and the kids telling me I cussed- so they stopped telling me. Cuss jar forgotten – resolution forgotten.

Then there is the eating better resolution. I already eat pretty well and the things I eat that aren’t great for me I really enjoy eating. Like bagels.. I love them. I eat gluten free bagels most of the time and usually I only eat a half at breakfast. So on the days I want to eat one really super-good gluten filled bagel I am going to do it – and I am going to like it- ok maybe I have a bit of guilt but it’s short-lived. This same thing applies to cookies, ice cream and chocolate.

Do not deny me chocolate when I need it (I am feeling the urge now as I write…I think there is a piece of Ghirardelli in my freezer- Kevin is checking – God love that man. Yes – score – a hidden treat has been found.).

In the past I have resolved to pray more, read the Bible more, meditate more, better serve my fellowman, love more. More, more, better, better – those words just cause too much pressure and undo stress I think. So now I don’t make resolutions.

Eating better or praying more or being more loving aren’t bad things in themselves. They are all good things but there is something about these things when they come as a resolution in the new year that makes it seem required and for me that is too much pressure – what if I eat badly, what if I don’t pray for a few days, what if I am in a really crummy mood and not very loving for a day or two? Have I failed because I didn’t live up to my resolution?

Face it – most of folks who don’t make a resolution don’t live up to them. We are only human after all. I have realized that there are areas where I could strive to improve but if I don’t -I haven’t failed…I have just been human.

So this week I am going to be thankful for the year I am leaving behind. It was a tough year in many ways but it was also a year I learned much, and it was a year where I had much joy and many blessings.

I will look toward the next year with hope. Hope for a good year financially, and a good year for my teens -that they face their own challenges with strength and fortitude because being a teen these days is really hard.

I will pray for health and safety for my family. I will pray for my friends and for this world that seems riddled with anger and hate. I will hope that-though quieter- that love will win over loud nasty hate. I will always hope for peace…maybe it is lofty and a pie in the sky dream but I hope for it anyway.

In 2016, I hope I have more joy than hardship. I hope that when I am faced with the tough times I have the strength to get through them in one piece – and I pray that I will have my eyes wide open enough to see and cherish the many joys that will surely be part of my days. I hope that I will end the year a bit wiser then when it began. For that I will be grateful.

And I will always be grateful for chocolate.

Happy New Year!



Goodbyes and love  – Ball of sad

On Sunday, we took two of our three teens –my daughter and one of my sons- to Casey Hospice House in Rockville, MD to say goodbye to their grandfather -my father-in-law. We pulled up to a well-manicured building that looked pretty new. I could see in the summer the grounds would be quite beautiful.

I had given my three children – my boys, age 15, and my daughter, age 17, the choice of going to see him or to stay home. It’s a personal choice and I told them it was ok whatever they chose. Two of them felt like they wanted to say goodbye. One of my sons didn’t feel like he could handle seeing his grandfather. I could tell that he was anxious about it and I told him it was ok that whatever he decided was the right choice for him and there was no pressure for him to go.

It’s one of those things you don’t want your kids to have to face but I also know death is as much a part of life as living is. If they felt ready to see it then I was ok with that.

I don’t do well with death. I have lost a number of people in my life and it has never gotten easier but I have learned that the more I open myself to feeling the sadness and grief instead of running from it the more I am able to face it.

We had been losing Dad for a number of years to Alzheimer’s.  His condition has gotten much worse over the last 6 months. He is now in what is called late-stage Alzheimer’s. Last week he lost the ability to walk, eat on his own, and communicate clearly. He didn’t know his home anymore and became agitated and would try to ask if someone could take him home.

Dad and my mother-in-law have been being cared for at home by my brother-in -law who made their care his full time job 3 years ago. He gets relief from 2 other brothers regularly and the rest of us try to pitch in when we can. It has been a blessing that he has been able to be home for so long. Recently in home hospice care had also started at their primary doctors recommendation so they had a number of nurses, aides, and social workers coming in as well.

With six sons it has been possible for Dad to have home care until this past week when he took the big turn downward and the social worker that visited them a couple times a week recommended he go to a hospice house to be evaluated to see if he should be moved to a nursing facility or if he could go back home with 24 hour nursing care. Sadly, in hospice he began declining and it looks like he will be leaving us soon.

This was my first time in a hospice house and I was nervous wondering what it might be like.  Would my kids be freaked out? Would I? But I found the place comforting and warm. There was a big fireplace and sitting area. There were quite a few people sitting on comfortable looking couches by the fire. The staff was very nice and before we went into the room they updated Kevin on his fathers condition. She said he was declining but couldn’t give a timeframe of when he might pass.

We walked into a nice private room with a lounge chair and a window bench. My eyes went to the bed where the man I’ve know as Dad for 18 years lay sleeping soundly. He looked peaceful but that’s when reality hit me that he was really going to leave us soon and the tears began.

Though we had been saying goodbye to him for so long as his memory slipped away we still had his body- now we were really going to lose all of him. It is so final.  I wanted to hide my tears from my kids. But I couldn’t and I realized it was ok. Kevin and I could show our grief because that is part of life too.

I think in some ways I am relieved that he will be released from the clutches of Alzheimer’s that has taken away much of his quality of life. But the other part of me wants to keep him here because I love him so much and I am crushed by the reality that he will be physically gone. I also am so sad for my mother-in-law because she is losing the man she has been married to for 68 years.

My father-in-law was resting peacefully thanks to medication. Gone was the agitated and confused man from a few days before when he didn’t know his home was home anymore. I was glad my kids saw him like this – peaceful. I think seeing him upset would have been harder.

I leaned over and rubbed his warm shoulder and prayed for a bit and then I began talking out loud to him. I wanted my kids to feel free to speak to him if they felt like it- but they didn’t have to do anything. This was the first time they had ever been to a care facility such as this. I was worried they would be afraid. I wanted to somehow put them at ease but they were handling it ok.

We left my husband to be alone with his dad for a while. My kids and I sat together on old rocking chairs in the hallway- we cried and we talked.  I kept asking if they were ok. My son said he was shaken because he “hadn’t done anything like this before”- (saying goodbye to someone he knew that was going to die). He and my daughter both said they were glad they came to say their goodbyes but that it was very hard.

When Kevin came out of the room to get us I asked the kids if they wanted to go back in and they both said yes. I’m glad they wanted to – I think they’ll always know they got to say goodbye. I think it is closure for them.

I leaned over the man that has loved me like a daughter and whispered a few things in his ear – then I kissed his head.

I thanked him for loving me like his own child. I thanked him for raising the most wonderful son. I told him I would take care of Kevin, and I asked Dad to visit me in my dreams to let me know he is ok.

My son hugged him – tears flowing. He is my sensitive kid and I worried he would hold it all in. I’ll try to talk with him often over the next week. My heart hurts for my kid’s pain.

My daughter stood crying in the doorway – I can tell she was scared but didn’t want to be. She was faced looking into the hall and she would turn and look at Dad and then turn away and try not to cry but it wasn’t working. She’s pretty tough and I think this tug at her emotions threw her off a bit. She doesn’t like to cry but she let the tears come and I think this was good for her. It hurt me to see her so saddened but for her to let that out is a big deal.

We went to leave and my heart dropped. This may be the final goodbye. I could hardly step from the room. I kissed him again and I walked out – my heart breaking and my eyes zooming in on the exit door. I needed to get out before the dam broke.

I pushed out of the door and the sobs came. I turned around and looked at the rest of my family and realized we were all crying too. When we got back to the car we sat there for a little while trying to get it together. We were one ball of sad – but we were sad together.

I didn’t feel like going home right away and I felt like doing something happy. So we drove to see a big Christmas light display in a park not far away.

I think it lightened my kids’ mood and it did lighten mine. Kevin seemed glad for the distraction.

Sometimes the blend of sadness and happy and grief and joy that can exist in one day astounds me. They all exist at each second of the day. When we are sad and grieving we want life to stop and wait because we are so consumed with it but the world still throws some happiness and joy in there. Sometimes we experience them all in one day – it’s quite amazing.

I think Dad would have liked those lights. I remember when we all went to walk through a Christmas light display when we had just one small baby boy.  Dad picked our little son up and walked through the light displays reliving the wonder through a little boy’s eyes.

I’ll miss that man.

I told my kids that this is one of the hard parts of life – the part that we often want to avoid. But really this sadness is also a gift. This sadness comes because we loved someone so much. Love is a true blessing and when we feel grief it’s because we opened ourselves to connection and love.  The grief is hard  -but how great was that love. The pain is worth it.



Falling in Love with Charm City

This past weekend Kevin, my husband, and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. Yeah – wow where did that time go right? So for the first time since our first anniversary we went away for the night. No kids! How devine!

When planning the trip I pondered over where to go. I didn’t want to travel too far from home because my kids – all teens- have only been left to their own devices overnight one other time and that was last December when we headed down to see a blues band in Bethesda MD.  Should we head to DC? Maybe Annapolis – or Saint Mikes on the Eastern shore? One place kept popping into my head over and over again. Baltimore, MD….some of you may be a little familiar with B’More as old and industrial (and in the past some may have said dirty) and wonder why we might want to head there. Those that are more familiar with the Baltimore of today might find themselves a little jealous that we got to spend a couple days tooling around the area. It is a really great town!

Baltimore was once the second largest port of entry for immigrants in the United States. In the 1700’s it was a port of entry for the Maryland tobacco trade. The port is still used today for a multitude of imports and exports. Early on it was an industrial town but over the years has be revitalized. Today it is not only have a thriving tourist trade it is also home to some major corporations like Pandora and Under Armor. Baltimore is a very fun place to visit. It has the famous inner harbor that was created in the 19070’s to bring more tourists into the area – but it also houses many great neighborhoods rich in history that are fun to visit.

I loved the inner harbor but I knew there was more to explore. My brother had attended Loyola College in Baltimore and raved about the culture and of course the bar scene that could be found in the city. Nicknamed Charm City as a marketing strategy in the mid 1970’s, the city has become just that. Many neighborhoods have undergone revitalization and many areas of the city are considered trendy places to visit and to live. I wanted to explore the city outside Harborplace (which is great) and Camden Yards (the home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball- and awesome park with unreal food). So I booked a room at the brand new Hyatt Place right near Little Italy and Fells Point.

I can tell you that I was stoked to be getting away for a few days in early spring with just my husband and I . When you can actually leave your kids alone and know they can generally care for themselves (I left them with a crockpot full of Mac and Cheese and cupboards of lot of junky food) it is freeing as…well it’s just freeing! Being away without your kids reminds me of being away before we had kids except that its not quite the same because once you have kids they are like part of you so you never really totally forget them when you leave them. There are the texts checking on things  and when its too quiet (no texts) you begin to worry a little. But for the most part it was Kevin and I – not texting our kids- doing what the heck we wanted. No one (teens) rushing us or complaining that they were bored or hungry or bored or bored.

So here is a bit of our 18 hours in Charm City…

Below is our view from our room at the Hyatt Place – a new hotel- and I would recommend it. When we checked in our room wasn’t ready – no prob- but as it turns out a cheerleading competition at the convention center had the place filled with kids gearing up to compete – I sort of wondered how noisy it would be there. Turns out we had booked a queen room but they only had a king room (I didn’t book a king room bc they didn’t have a king room when I was booking). Did I want a King room? It was on the top floor great view-? Um Yes! And it turns out it was a great room and the views were awesome. And our room was tucked back in the hallway and the rooms are super quiet – I did not hear any cheerleaders!

A room with a view

Looking over at Little Italy


I was like a peeping tom looking inside all these passages!

When we got settled into our room we headed out to see Fells Point. All my years as a bar-hopping party girl had never brought me to this area. I even spent a semester at Towson State University which is right at the edge of the city but never went to Fells Point. My brother had frequented this area and if he reads my blog he might recognize some of the places in the pictures. One cool thing about Fells Point was the cobblestone streets. I wondered how many partiers had fallen or turned an ankle on those streets. They are very cool though.  Turns out in Fells Point there are lots of neat places to see. And great streets perfect for picture taking.


Notice those cobble stone streets…  

I was fascinated by these gated passages. Some had pretty gardens hiding inside and others were bland or messy.

The waterfront is never a disappointment. You can grab a water taxi to get from different neighborhoods. The city also has a free bus line (the Charm City Circulator) that goes between different areas of interest. Notice all the ships in the harbor.        

The bar and restaurant area of Fells point is kitschy and fun. I was so happy to see that youngsters of all ages frequent these establishments. You don’t feel out of place at any age. We saw a number of bachelor and bachlorette parties – I can see why you might pick this area because one need not get into a car and drive from place to place – you can walk to many of the place in Fells Point – or take a water taxi or the bus.  Or….

…you can peddle by your own power and your friends power…

This is one of the many marinas in the city..

A cargo ship with the Domino sugar factory in the background.

Maryland is for Crabs (our old Maryland slogan from years ago). You have to have the token blue crab statue – Maryland is home to the very tasty blue crab.

  A boardwalk area along a water front in Fells Point.

It was a great day to hang outside and many of the local restaurants were packed full with people enjoying the warm day.

A schooner sitting outside the Schooner Inn in Fells Point….

  We walked and walked along the neighborhood streets and were treated to the cutest homes…How could I not photograph these adorable row houses?

THIS is no ordinary church! It is an old church that houses a personal training studio and yoga studio. If I lived in Fells Point I would come here to workout! How serene would it be to workout in an old church? The building’s architecture was lovely…(we couldn’t get inside- bummer!)      

We walked by some newer condo homes and I loved how the light hit the camera in this shot.   We ate dinner at an open air restaurant called Barcocina– and dined on tacos and more tacos. They were a bit spicy for me but it was a nice place to stop and rest for a while.  (I did not get a picture of it- duh Anne?)

This is the view from or room as the sun was setting. There was an O’s game going on and if you look at the real orange in the photo you can just see the stadium lights. We came home for a quick rest and planned on heading out into Little Italy for dessert…you would think we would end up at a wonderful Italian Bakery –no…I had read about another place and heard the food was awesome…and they had bowling so…

Sunset over Baltmore

…..we ended up at Mustang Alleys…What a great place! We didn’t bowl but we had an unreal dessert- okay 2 desserts that we could not finish. Worth every calorie! They even turned on the Nationals game for us! I am going back there.      

OMG….!! It was so good!

Finally we headed back to the hotel for the night..I have been charmed by Charm City. I think it might be love. I was thinking it might be fun to have a little place in the city someday( a pied-à-terre’?). Well one can dream can’t one? Anyway, it really is fun to talk with Kevin about the possibilities.  I am a country girl at heart but there is nothing like stepping out your door and being able to find something cool going on at any hour. No lawn to mow…and there were tons of dogs down there -so there you go! That must have on my list is now checked off.

I am not sure if this photo is scary or neat!


When I get away with my husband it makes me realize that when the kids are gone it won’t be boring. We wont just sit and wonder what to do everyday- we wont be bored with each other. Kevin and I love being together. He is truly my best friend. And its just easy to be with him. He gets me- I get him. I didn’t just fall in love with Charm City last weekend. No that was just a bonus. The best prize is that I fell a little bit more in love with my husband of 16 years. What a blessing he is…


Thanks for reading….


Everyone needs a little time away sometimes. For my husband and I this was the time. We had spent months talking about it. We pondered what we would do. A night away in a hotel. A dinner. Sleeping in with no dogs to let out or horses to feed or kids to deal with. It sounded so fun. But could we do it?

We had been getting out on regular date nights. The kids -now all teens -can handle nights where we go out for a few hours and get home before the carriage turns back into a pumpkin. But we hadn’t been away from the kids for an entire night in over 13 years.

I had a lot of nerves about trying it. We have one special needs teen and I was hesitant to commit to a full night away. My fears of getting a call informing me of some disaster and I being too far away to get home in time to save the day were winning. So the dream became a pipe dream. One that we would talk about sometimes but basically had put it on the back burner. Until a week ago…

I was on Facebook and I saw a post about a band that I used to go see in my younger days. They were playing locally (40 mins away) at a dinner theater and just a few seats were left. Just for fun I looked up the venue -it was the old movie theater that I used to frequent it had been changed into a supper club and they hosted live acts. I loved that theater. So I went a step further and clicked on the ticket info. Next thing I knew I had purchased 4 seats at a table. Impulsive – yes- but maybe thats what it needed to be- a quick decision where no foreboding thoughts could win. The next thing i knew I was playing the bands music on YouTube. I decided to check out Hotels.com and just see what a room would cost. Pretty cheap it turns out.  So we decided to add a hotel room to the evening and BAM we had planned a night away. As it turns out this plan came together just in time for it to be my birthday present.

I was pretty excited but the day we were to leave I began to worry about everything – everything that could go wrong and leaving my teen kids alone for the night. We were only going 40 mins way. But still… I was nervous. I sat on the bench in our room and kind of froze. I would pack some then freeze a bit again. I’m sure other moms out there can relate. I was determined , though, to not let this worry wreck a much needed break. Turns out that as soon as we got out the door and a few miles down the road my worry began to leave and it was all about our night.

And it was a great night. There were laughs with friends, nice dinner, great music, and dancing. Sleeping in a king bed and no dogs to let out at six am- bliss. We had a few texts with the kids..mostly them asking if we were having fun. We had breakfast at a pancake house and we headed home. I could have used another night away but I was good with the one.

Our children didn’t meet us at the door to hug us on our return. The boys were still asleep. Teens! It was almost 11am!  My daughter had done all the morning barn chores on her own. That was very sweet. I think they missed us -but I bet the break did them good too. I’m thankful they got along ok because I know I’ll be ready to do it again in the near future. With three teens it doesn’t take long for me to need a break. They drive me nuts -but I love them to the moon and back. Am I ever thankful for small respites.

Thanks for reading…




The band – dance floor is up front.


The room was small but perfect for us.


Kevin and the stage behind him. Dinner was very good by the way.


mirror mirror





Curse you Department store dressing room.

Your bad lights – and mirrors of doom.

My reflection tries to mock me- “You’re looking pretty bad.

Look at those dimples and that behind of flab.”

I look a little closer and I see what she means.

I am dimply, and flabby, and 2 tushes can be seen.

Then I look at my face and it stares back at me.

There are lines and creases where smoothness used to be.

“I need a new face cream”..I whisper to myself.

“Something expensive, a miracle, and not off the shelf.”

Then I look at my hair and see limp strands- a disgrace.

“Maybe I need a new shampoo, or hairspray, or Mace.”

Wounded and low I try on each piece.

First a pair of jeans, then a shirt, then a fleece.

I close my eyes until the clothes are all on,

I step back a step and open my peeps to see what I don.

And lo and behold I don’t look too bad.

I’m not perfect- but clothes hide the flab.

Take that dressing room- you don’t win today.

I am taking these clothes and Oh by the way…

I am proud of the woman I am – it may have taken years

But I love who I am- flab and wrinkles, double butt and big ears.

I have walked a long road to get where I am.

You can try to cut me- but I don’t give a damn!

With every wrinkle and dimple there is a story to tell-

I look back in that mirror – hug myself, and say, “I think I am swell.”




Entering a photo contest part 3

Yesterday my husband asked me if I wanted to go check to see the results of the photography contest at the Howard County Fair. To be honest I wasn’t feeling great and I also wasn’t sure I was ready to see the results. I really thought I didn’t care if I got a ribbon or not but even though just entering the contest and getting everything together was really a win for me -I am super competitive. So I couldn’t just turn off the hope that I might get a ribbon. So I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go to look.

I realized I was only going to keep wondering so I decided to go look. My daughter, my husband and I drove the 25 minutes to the fairgrounds. We headed straight to the Fine Arts building. I stopped in the front to admire the cakes and the baked goods – yes I was stalling. The cakes were amazing though! My husband was already in back looking at the photos. My first picture we saw was my black and white landscape. No Ribbon but it was cool seeing my photo there. I stalled again looking at all of the other photos in that section and commenting in each one. My husband was already to the next section. When I walked up he pointed to a picture of icicles. There were a lot of icicles in the competition I had entered one but it was in the “other” category. The category we were looking at was “winter landscapes”. That icicle picture got second place. My daughter was trying to say something as we gazed at the icicles. I looked to the left to begin looking at other photos and OH MY GOD! My winter landscape photo was next to the icicles and it got a BLUE RIBBON. 1st place! What?

My mouth stood open, my eyes bugged out and the tears began. I mean a ribbon of any sort would have been great but a blue one? Really? It had to sink in. I took a minute. We took a picture of it. Then we moved on. We looked for my three other pictures and I didn’t get a ribbon for those but I had gotten a first place already anything more may have sent me over the edge!  The ribbon was completely unexpected. I was ecstatic inside. The competition was amazing and I am glad I wasn’t a judge. How do you choose? I don’t know but I’m sure glad they chose mine. We went back to take another picture with me next to it. My husband immediately posted it on Facebook. It’s so nice to have your spouse be so happy and excited for you. He is the king of support. That is the ultimate blessing.

I hadn’t realized how lost I had been until I saw that ribbon. Getting the entries together seemed a large task and lately so many things overwhelm me. I used to be able to entertain for 20 or more people with no problem. Now to consider that seems impossible. So many things I used to do easily have seemed too much to even try now. I try to break things down into pieces to get a project done -and that is what I did with the pictures. I chose them – ordered them- ordered matting supplies – matted them- entered them. Each was a a task and after I did each part it seemed less overwhelming and actually fun.

The photo that won was taken after one of our nasty ice storms last March. We went out to clean up trees and I wasn’t going to be much muscle bc of my shoulder issues so I grabbed the Nikon. I hadn’t been using it much. I remember the shot well bc i had been taking pictures back towards the fields and I walked out into the field to photograph my boys at work. I turned to go back and the sun was setting and the sky and colors were amazing. I stood there looking and then realized I needed to take a picture of it bc it wouldn’t last. I snapped away and was so happy when I came inside to download the photos and saw this amazing light in that shot. It was the shot of the day. Sometimes you get only one -sometimes some- and sometimes none. Since I hadn’t been using the camera much I was very happy with this result. I had no idea that in a few months I would be entering it in the fair as I had forgotten all about my desire that I had gotten last summer when we were visiting the fine arts building. Thankfully it all came back to me just a couple weeks before the entires were due. Since I hadn’t taken too many DSLR photos in the last year it wasn’t hard to settle on that shot. But we almost didn’t enter it! We took it to the fair but it was between that and my dogs eyes. I love that shot. But my husband said to enter the winter landscape -it was his favorite he said. So I entered it -and– it –won —- first place!! I just can’t believe it! I am just so grateful! And happy!

Do I stop now? I got a first place – how can that be topped? Will doing less than first in another contest be a let down? I don’t think so – I hope not because the Great Frederick Fair is coming up. I think I’d like to try to see how I would do in that one. I would not enter my winning one though. I’m going to retire that one to my wall. It reached it’s pinnacle. But I know photographer Anne is back and this is only the beginning for me.

Thanks for reading!


My shot and the icicles we were staring at when we first came to the section!


Some of the entries!


More entries- I LOVE the lambs..my shot is lower down (I didn’t get it in the picture) I never thought to enter a chicken picture- maybe because I have so many I have become numb to them- so maybe I will enter one in another contest the one here got second!


…and more entries… there were a lot!


Um yea- my husband wanted this shot! 🙂

When the cook leaves the kitchen

I am not sure when the shift occurred maybe it was while I was recovering from cancer treatments or maybe it began way before that. Maybe it was because I read somewhere about the amount of meals a women had cooked for her family of four for beyondthepicketfence.com_-300x22540 odd years- the number was staggering. It freaked me out – I am only 15 years in that’s 5,475 dinners alone- and for years I made three meals a day. So I have made- I don’t know – maybe like maybe 10k meals (we do eat out some) Gaa! and how many times had I made the same thing again and again? AND I had thousands of dinners to make ahead of me- thousands!!  So I was living with that happy thought in my head and at some point I became resentful that I had to cook most of the dinners night after night (at least now my kids can do their own breakfasts). All I know is that one day after I had worked all day and done a ton of laundry and a bunch of other stuff, I was in the kitchen stressing about making dinner and I watched my three teens lounging around on their phones or the computer and not offering to help- and I snapped. Silently… but my plan began.

I decided to tell my husband of the plan first because he needed to be on board and he often steps in to make or help with dinner.  Also I suspect he had picked up on my increasing disdain for cooking night after night. Maybe my hint “I hate having to make dinner every night” was the clue. Or maybe ” I just don’t feel like making dinner again- I need a break.” Was another. But after I told him my plan he was on board- as he should be if he knows whats good for him..no really he isn’t faking- he is on board.

The Plan? I am leaving the kitchen. Yep leaving.  Not everyday but I am only on duty part of the week. I will cook 3-4 nights- hubby can step in 1 or 2 (his contribution can include carry-out) so that leaves 1-3 nights a week left for my kids to fend for themselves.  I look on it as a learning opportunity for them.  When I was a kid (yep here I go) I had to learn how to at least make a small meal (hot dog, tater tots – golly day(did i just type golly day? – I did..) I loved them babies and I gained some major high school poundage from eating – no feasting- on taters with Miracle Whip (Uh Huh!). My parents went out and left me in charge one night on the weekend and I had to make dinner- we did not have delivery in 1980 where I lived anyway. So I made frozen pizzas mostly – but it was something.  In hindsight I do wish I had learned to cook more “real” meals as my step-mother was a gourmet cook- I could have learned a lot from her. And she never seemed to get resentful over cooking for us- unless we made a negative comment on her meal (once she made beef hearts and didn’t tell us until we had eaten half of it – that did not go over well.) So if my kids can learn a little cooking and cleaning while they live with us they will hopefully be a bit more prepared to be on their own – I am no gourmet cook but I can help them learn a think or two. So I look at my plan as a win win situation.

So about a week or so ago I made the announcement at dinner.  I don’t know what reaction I thought I was going to get but I must brag and say they took it quite well. I explained the plan and on the nights that I wasn’t cooking that I would have enough ingredients in the house that they could make a real meal or they could opt out and eat cereal. I encouraged each child to volunteer to cook one night – I explained how much they can learn in the kitchen by doing this and how that can positively impact their future – by the time I said all this I was being tuned out but I felt good.

How did it all turn out?  Pretty well. Two of my three kids took a night to cook last week and hubby and i covered the others. Not bad for week one. My daughter made BBQ Baked Chicken with sides(gluten free noodles and a veggie). She did not have a recipe for what to put on the chicken – so I gave her the tried and true recipe of baking chicken (these were legs btw)…take some good BBQ sauce – we like Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey – brush that on the chicken and sprinkle garlic powder on it – bake it for 35-45 mins. Tasted great!  For my son- he made meatloaf on Friday – smashed baby red potatoes and a veggie. I oversaw his meatloaf creating because I didn’t want him to touch raw meat and then touch everything else in the kitchen. (Yes my tutorials include food safety!). The meatloaf was great and we had leftovers that took us into the weekend and were gobbled up at lunch.

My other son is great at consumption of meals but not great at stepping up to cook(too immature I think) but we will see. I might suggest going forward that he assist one of us when we prepare our meals…if we don’t kill him in the process. All in all I think week one went well. Sadly because of the long weekend I did not make a plan for who is cooking this week and I have a meatloaf son home sick today (so we don’t want him anywhere near our food now).  So I have tonight and the rest of the week in a mystery! Oh well cereal is good too. And all my kids can make eggs in some form – so they will not starve!

I found that it was not cooking I was so sick of it was just doing it alone every day that was getting on my nerves. When I had to help the kids it was fun and I kind of liked that they saw me as the expert ( I am no kitchen expert but I play the part well!). It was fun chatting with them while we prepared the meal together. My daughter did hers more independently but we still conversed..  It was better then seeing the tops of their heads as they gazed into some phone or laptop. They were very proud when their meal was served (we still try to eat together most evenings) and we praised them for their efforts in stepping up and in their culinary skills. It was a win win – But then I realized that the cook doesn’t have to clean up after dinner (a rule we instilled  a few years ago)—which meant someone else had to clean up-crud- I think I am even more resentful of cleaning up dishes…I may feel another mutiny coming on:)

Thanks for reading….