Friday, January 23, 2015


Wednesday we took Avery to the Midwest Museum of Natural History in Sycamore. We had never heard of it so we didn't quite know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that we happened to be there on FREE DAY. It ended up being a very nice place with live turtles, snakes, spiders, and other small repiles. There were also large jungle animals that were stuffed (statues as Avery said). We were doing pretty well, comparing the animal skulls and teeth they had on display to our own, and learning about various monkeys, mountain lions, mountain goats, and mammouths. And then we came across the lions.  

At first we weren't sure whether to allow Avery to see this or steer her away, which would have been next to impossible given the location. She questioned why the lion was trying to eat the goat. We could have told a story about how they play in the jungle, but she is too smart for that and saw the looks on the faces and knew instantly that the lion was eating the goat. So we compared it to the Lion King movie and talked about the circle of life and how lions survive in the jungle by eating some of the animals. Her response?  "Oh look! There IS a giraffe here!"

 After a good lunch of pancakes and bacon, we stopped at a friends farm so Avery could gather eggs. She loves to eat eggs and loves animals so we thought she would get a kick out of spending time with the chickens and gathering the eggs herself.

Once the eggs were gathered, it was time to feed the chickens, ducks, and turkeys. We now call her the turkey whisperer. Last year we visted a zoo and spent time in the baby goat pen and those little goats just followed her everywhere. This year, it was the turkeys.

All in all it was a great day. We came back to Gaga's house and made bread and had a tea party. I love spending time with her. At 5, she sounds like she is 25. Her reasoning is better than many adults. 

While the trip to the museum was fun, we don't want to over do it. Next time, we will bake cookies.

Monday, January 5, 2015

80 Days with Judy - Updates

Since I haven't posted regularly I felt it was important to bring you up-to-date on several projects I have discussed on here. I will start with my Mom since that has been the most consistent.

Dad died in April of 2013 which kicked into gear the next phase of downsizing for my Mom. She had started Phase 1 before that but had not taken it seriously. We basically cleaned her bedroom at that point, giving away books she had read and not really liked, magazines she had read, etc. After Dad's death however she realized there was no need to keep all of his clothes and knowing she would need to move "someday" she wanted me to start Phase 2 - the REAL downsizing process - preparing to sell the house.

I referred to the time I spent with my Mom as "80 Days with Judy" since frankly, given her health concerns at the time, I knew I was going to be there a while, and - her name is Judy. It was also in reference to a scrapbook I made for her of our first vacation together a few years earlier that I called "8 Days with Judy."

This was clearly going to be a longer vacation.

We made it through downsizing part 1, part 2, and part 3 and she moved to Minnesota in late September 2013. She loved her new little townhouse that was very different from the home she built with my Dad. I left her a week after getting her settled and came home to rest and get back on track with my Sabbatical, look for a full time job with benefits, and reconnect with my hubby, grandchildren, and dog.

Two months later, she wanted to come home.

Well, she lasted over a year in Minnesota, but in October of 2014 she announced that she IS moving home and directed me to start looking for a place in Minooka so her friends will come to see her. "80 days with Judy" lasted more like 380 days the first time and was rather stressful at times, but this's going to be fun. She is healthier and we have already completed Phases 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the downsizing process in Minnesota. (She discovered her small house was smaller than she thought.)

So stay tuned. "80 Days with Judy, Adventures with Mom" begins this month and you will find those stories here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Welcome 2015!

Seriously? It has been 16 months since my last post? I knew it had been awhile, but sheesh!

So much has happened since then. I left off with the post about my son dying. I will post more about that in the days to come but I want to highlight the best part of 2013/2014. The momentous occasion that always seems to be "forgotten" in all the details of all the tragedy.

Well let me tell you. This little guy is not one to be forgotten. Meet Preston Elijah.
"Hey lady, what at YOU doing?"
Preston is almost 2 (in March) and was born just days before my Dad past away in 2013.  I spent so much time with Avery at this age but circumstances have been different with Preston. First, his Mommy decided to be a stay at home Mommy and start her hair business, traveling to customers homes when Daddy was home with the kids. While that can be a challenge at times, she loves it and I do get to spend time with them both, just not consistently like before. I guess I will survive. She enjoys spending so much time with the kids.

Second, if you remember, I was looking for a job. Enter "Judy's house of horrors adventures".  For several months after Dad died I "lived" at my Mom's, tending to her physical and emotional needs, downsizing and prepping their home for sale, and moving her north to Minnesota. Being so far away from the grand kids killed me. I had a glimpse once again of what it would be like to work full time and I was not impressed. Mom also felt bad so she suggested I work for her. I must admit, that helped a lot by taking the pressure of finding a job off and it allowed me the flexibility to do contract work for the government.

Third, Zack died and that sent me into a tailspin of moving full steam ahead without stopping to think about grief. I operated like that for several months. The weeks leading up to the one year anniversary left me feeling unsettled in a way I cannot explain. To make it worse, our oldest son went off the deep end and landed himself in jail. He is still there.

Also in 2014 my brother was diagnosed with cancer, had surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and is heading back in for more surgery. But so far the tests are good. We have our fingers crossed.

Christmas 2014 was just weird. Fall of 2014 this year brought depression, but in the midst of all of that was joy. And it looked like this:

My middle son Nathan and his family
How can I be sad? 2015 will be a good year. Mom is moving back home. Minnesota is too cold and too far away from her friends. We didn't bother to remind her that it was HER idea to move there in the first place.

I will write more in 2015. I will sell more Avon and I will receive more contracts. I might even find a job with benefits. But until then, GrammaGaga will continue to stalk Nathan's family and count her blessings.