Probably the Inevitable Result of So Much Isolating

I have been in such a slump! And I had really good intentions for the new year too. (Doesn’t everyone? I just didn’t think I’d fail so quickly.)

I’m not much for making specific resolutions, but there were two things to which I quietly committed to doing more in 2022- exercise and writing. I’ve had a steady habit of moving my body in some way almost daily for years. But that pattern was derailed after Thanksgiving with the muscle strain in my lower back (which as you may recall, occurred with sudden and intense fury as I valiantly bent over to pick up earmuffs from the floor). Three days into the new year, my back was showing signs of returning to normal, but Jack’s cold had obviously crept into my body while I wasn’t looking and my resolution to reignite a writing habit had fizzled already.

I felt the cold virus manifesting inside my sinuses and lungs, taking not one, but two covid tests that first week, sure that I was dying in spite of having been vaxxed and boosted. (I was not, in fact, dying and both tests were negative. I’m apparently just paranoid.) Ultimately, I spent an entire Sunday in bed and three days trying not to talk in work meetings because I had absolutely no voice and talking only prompted another fit of coughing. Let me tell you. You can take all the vitamins and supplements you want. Eat your vegetables. Drink your protein and nutrition shakes. Do all the healthy things. But when it decides it’s gonna get ya, it’s gonna get ya. I’m still shaking off some of the effects of it.

In brighter news, however, last week, little MK came for her first sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I’d taken time off from work and was excited to spend two and a half days spoiling my little peanut. Chesney took a break from work too, wanting more time with her niece and godchild. Little did we know that MK brought along a stomach bug and was handing it off – particularly to any immune systems which were already in a weakened state. (Her mom had been sick on that Tuesday.) While MK didn’t appear to be impacted much – just a bit of fussiness on Wednesday afternoon – I was gypped out of an entire day of baby lovin’ on Friday. Jack then came down with it on Friday night. And we learned that MK’s other grandma, who had been caring for her earlier in the week, had been sick on Thursday. Thankfully, Chesney managed to avoid it.

So although my good intentions have been delayed, the year is still young. At least I got all of this gunk out of the way early and hope to be done with illness for the year. (Knock on wood.) I think I’m finally ready to get back on track. Now if the windchill would just get out of the gutter, I’d love to get outside for more than two minutes at a time.

Nothing to Do and Nowhere to Go

It’s one of those crazy Minnesota weather days. A fierce, blowing wind last night brought snow, and sometime this morning the rain followed. It’s a good day to be at home on a paid holiday. I had to salt the deck and steps before I could let Lucy out this morning as it was all covered in glare ice.

I haven’t written forever, which seems to be the thing I say anytime I manage to come to this dusty blog and try to put down a few intelligent words. I can’t figure out, now that we are truly empty-nesters, why I don’t manage to write anymore.

To be honest, I think I have figured out why. It used to be that Jack worked these crazy, rotating shifts. Nights and weekends while he was away, I’d fill my time alone by writing. When my parents’ health went downhill and they eventually passed, I could barely muster up any words that weren’t self-pitying. And then Jack took a day job after thirty-some years. For some reason, his being around all the time for the past four years has impacted my urge to write. I miss the habit, and I’d like to say I’ll make a New Year’s resolution to do this with more frequency, but I’m not sure I trust myself to follow through. Let’s just leave it at “we’ll see”.

Anyway, I’ve been off work for a stretch of days, and for a rare occasion, I have nothing I really have to do. Since Thanksgiving, I’ve entertained four times. Work has been crazy. There was Christmas shopping and wrapping to do, cookies to bake, and a million other things typical of the holiday season. But today? Today I am free.

Life these days seems to move so fast. When I first started writing, my children were in school. High school and college graduations happened while I continued to write, and eventually a wedding. The kids moved out on their own, the last one leaving just this past July. And our first grandchild arrived this summer! When they say life happens in the blink of an eye, believe them.

If the past year of my life was a collection of pictures, the vast majority of them would be of our beautiful granddaughter, MK. She is my joy and I absolutely adore her! Jack and I are having so much fun being grandparents and the entire family wants to smother MK with love and affection. She is so good-natured, so curious and ambitious. She is absolutely precious! Her daddy, Jaeger recently remarked while watching me hold and play with MK, “Someone, please get these people another grandchild already!” I wouldn’t complain, but for now, we are enjoying all of the firsts that come with being new grandparents. It makes me think of my own parents so much more often, and how they must have felt when my niece, their first grandchild was born. Life is funny this way. New experiences call back old memories and keep our loved ones who are gone very much alive and present in our day-to-day lives.

I like this place in life though. I was thinking just yesterday, actually feeling how well this fits me. Seeing my kids reach adulthood and begin lives of their own was tough. I wasn’t sure who I was once they no longer needed me like they used to. But now some time has passed and I can take a step back and appreciate that they’ve all succeeded in their own ways. They are good, kind, loving people. They are building lives and families of their own. I can relax a bit now. And I’m enjoying the space to invest in myself again.

Christmas is over already. It comes and goes more quickly with each passing year. Ours was wonderful, but I couldn’t help reminiscing and missing the old days just a little bit. Nothing can stay the same forever, but I’m so grateful to have the memories that I hold. I think back to all the little setbacks and challenges I’ve experienced along the way, and marvel at how some seemed so devastating and insurmountable at the time. But I’ve survived and moved on. Happiness always comes back in many different ways. I’ve been blessed more often than not. It really is a wonderful life.

We are GRANDPARENTS!

Our sweet little granddaughter is here! She arrived in July, three weeks early than expected. She was tiny at just four pounds, fourteen ounces, but she is healthy and growing and she’s absolutely perfect! I can’t even believe how much I’m in love with her. Oh, who am I kidding? Yes I can! I knew long before she arrived that I would adore her.

She’s just beautiful, and like every proud grandparent, I think my granddaughter is the most gorgeous baby ever born. My son, her daddy, gazes at her with such adoration, and speaks to her so gently. He looks on that little girl’s mommy with such love love and admiration. He’s got his own little family now. I marvel at how quickly the years have transported us from the time when he was our baby. And now he has one of his own. His nest is beginning to fill as ours has now emptied.

I think about that little peanut multiple times a day. I count the days until I get to visit with her and hold her again. I imagine the things we’ll do together as she grows. I’m planning how I’ll decorate one of our now empty bedrooms just for her, how I’ll fill it with toys and books, or cars and trucks, or baby dolls or whatever it is that will bring her joy. She is my joy and I’m just over the moon with happiness!

Springtime, Puppies, and Babies

It is gorgeous outside this morning. Makes me think of Oklahoma songs. There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow! Of course, I don’t have a meadow. But I can be content with our yard where the grass is suddenly green and lush, the Sedum and Hostas are beginning to stretch up out of the ground, and the Crabapple tree is exploding with pink blossoms. I love this time of year! It’s so full of promise and expectation – especially now after the year of fear we’ve just endured. (I know, I know… not everyone was fearful. But I was.)

The impact of COVID on our household is quickly fading. Jack feels much better and has been back to work for a couple of weeks now. The first week, he’d come home and collapse, exhausted on the couch for the remainder of the afternoon and evening. But he’s been more like his old self this past week, getting outside, doing some yard work, socializing with the neighbors. I’m so relieved.

Now that Jack’s feeling better and we’re fully vaccinated, we’re going to go see his mom ASAP. She’s been a trooper throughout the past year and I’m so proud of her. Her assisted-living facility took great care of the residents and had very few cases of infection. And now restrictions have been lifted significantly and we can show up without an appointment and go visit my mom-in-law in her own apartment, sans masks and plexiglass dividers. I hope she’s ready for it, ’cause she’s getting hugged!

In neighborhood news, our neighbors and good friends had a visit from their brother/brother-in-law, J, who came to Minnesota from New York to buy a puppy. J and his new puppy stayed with our friends for a few days and (being the animal lovers that we are,) we were invited to stop by for a visit. The puppy was adorable and I was tempted to steal her and take her home. My Lucy wouldn’t have appreciated it though. Either she’d be insanely jealous, or she’d mistake the puppy for a chew toy. And puppy’s owner wouldn’t have been too happy either, since she’s a very pure-bred, very expensive little canine whose future holds serious bird-hunting duties! I sure enjoyed spoiling her for a little while though. I kept cooing over her and exclaiming, “OH, she’s just a BAY-BEEEE!”

Soon enough I’ll be able to hold a real baby though. The first baby shower for Jaeger and Camping Girl’s little bundle of joy took place last weekend. Chesney and I were invited to attend and we had so much fun meeting Camping Girl’s extended family and friends.

I have to say, our granddaughter is going to be one well-dressed and well-equipped little girl. Jaeger showed up near the end of the event to help transport gifts back to their house. The entire bed of Jaeger’s truck and the back seat were packed full with gifts. And there’s still another shower to take place with my side of the family! I now have to remind myself to refrain from buying every adorable little outfit that catches my eye. (Or maybe I just need to start buying down-the-road types of things.) The first grandchild on both sides of the family is going to be so very welcomed and loved!

In preparation for Baby Girl’s arrival, Jack and I took a virtual grandparents’ class this past week. I hadn’t even known such a thing existed, but Camping Girl suggested both her parents and we take it, and I’m glad we did. Times have changed, from the way babies should be placed in their cribs, to perspectives on eating, engaging with, and just generally caring for babies. We’re all up to speed now and I can hardly wait for our granddaughter to arrive.

Baby snuggles are the best!