Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 30, 2013: Okoboji Day 1

Garrett enjoying Arnold's Park
Our long anticipated vacation started yesterday. It's all about the Lane's, the Brucker's, and the Brucker. Nine of us in total with seven journeying to Iowa's Lake Okoboji on Tuesday. The remaining two, my eldest and middle, will join after work on Wednesday.

After a noon start with well-rested kids, parents, and grandparent; we were on the road. We did make it over the Mormon Bridge and into Iowa before the first question of "how long until we get there?" The questions on the timing for lunch hit before we even got out of the driveway.

Grant, Donovan and Lily
First lesson on vacationing with many teenage kids; they eat often and a lot. Thus our first stop for lunch and our second stop for dessert. But not any ordinary dessert. We treated them to Wells Blue Bunny ice cream at the Ice Cream Capital of the World; LeMars, Iowa. All were happy with our sugary treats and we enjoyed a look around the ice cream museum as well.

Next stop was Remsen, my hometown. In all actuality, it was more of a drive-through. I pointed out my Aunt Kathy's house and my dad's barber shop. It also included a drive by my childhood home, the church, and my grandparent's house. Some places looked exactly the same and others, completely different.

Our stops helped break up our road trip. At least from my perspective. The beautiful blue Lake Okoboji welcomed us with open arms; albeit with cloudy skies. But all was good. We made it. I was back to my old stomping grounds while the Brucker's enjoyed scouting out a respite they didn't know existed.

Crescent Beach will be our home until Sunday with Arnold's Park, a close second. We bought the kids season passes to the amusement park so they can use on an unlimited basis during our time here. That was my trick from years past. After watching them run onto the park grounds with the prospect of unlimited fun, I quickly concurred that Arnold's Park was a hit. First stop was the wooden roller coaster with the bumper cars quickly following.

Today we journeyed, we explored, and we conquered. All in a day's work for the first day of a family vacation. Parents and Grandpa were to bed early. Hearing late-night laughing coming from the front room overlooking the lake was a warm reminder that all was well in the world. Even if it was past their bedtime.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 29, 2013: Fashion Flashback

Me with Baby Grant. I LOVED that outfit
I ran across this picture and had to post. Yes, Zach was a cute baby, but what caught my eye was my outfit. I really loved that outfit and wish I could remember the designer. She was an artist who also designed fun and funky clothes.

I owned two outfits from this unnamed designer. The other outfit was a bright orange shirt with shoulder pads. The shorts were tight like biking shorts and the shirt was full of bright, swimming fish painted across the over-sized top.

The outfit showcased above was complimented with a big pink hair bow and matching hot pink Keds. If only I could have pulled myself away from Baby Grant for a full length picture. The pants were tights and skin tight. the shirt was the look of the early nineties falling untucked below my waist.

Fast forward twenty years and I just smile as I remember this wearable piece of art. How the times have changed. In 1993, I couldn't imagine a world without shoulder pads and large bow barrettes. Today I am feeling styling without these loud accessories.

I now wonder what I will be thinking twenty years from now as I look back at pictures taken in my favorite outfits of today. Maybe I should have held on to my fish outfit. Everything circles back...

July 28, 2013: Guardian Angels

We went to Sacred Heart Church today. I love that church. I always leave with full heart. The people are genuine with the same goal; to share a love for Christ together. We pray. We sing. And we even dance in joyful jubilance.

My aunts sing in the choir. They rock it every Sunday. People greet each other warmly as though all long-time friends. The little girl to my right introduced herself as Diana. After holding my hand during the Our Father, she whispered to me that I had a pretty dress. Larry, my guest from Indiana, sat to my left. He loved this community of Sacred Heart and sang right along.

Although all the sermons are great messages, today’s hit home. The visiting priest talked about prayer. His first remark was in reference to a Tweet from the Pope (yes, the Pope Tweets!). The Tweet asked Christians, regardless of their religion, to find a joyful place to pray and celebrate Christ. And yes, Sacred Heart is a very joyful place. A great Tweet, Pope Francis. I love this humble man.

Next the young priest talked about his favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We all know the story about George and the angel, Clarence, sent to save him. The movie started with our hearing all the prayers given to God for George. God hears our entourage of prayers. I believe in the power of prayer. I have lived it and felt it. God has a plan, so not every prayer will feel answered. But God is here for us.

Clarence reminded me of my own guardian angel. As a young girl, I named my angel, Annabelle Elizabeth. I always felt her presence as my invisible friend. There was no doubt in my child mind that she was always with me. Sometime during adolescence I forgot about her. Until today.

Between hearing about Clarence in the sermon and the little Diana sitting next to me, I suddenly remembered my long-lost companion. My mind then scanned back to my life journey since I last thought about Annabelle Elizabeth. A lot of Godwinks have since occurred during that time. The thoughts gave me a smile as I quickly realized my guardian angel hasn't forgotten about me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 27, 2013: A Skunk Gift

My skunk identity began in the summer of 2008 in my Aunt Barbara's sun room on Lake Okoboji. My sister-in-law, Robbie, and I were vacationing and stopped over for a coffee. While Barbara brewed the coffee, we noticed the selection of interesting books on her end table. The one that particularly caught our eye was a book called "Medicine Cards" which included a stack of cards with pictures of animals. Hmmm…now that sounded interesting.

Barbara had always been a very spiritual and intuitive person. We were curious as to what this book was all about. It had to be a hit as it sat at the top of the stack and one that Barbara, our resident expert in such matters, surely referred to often. Barbara came back with the coffee and we inquired.

"Well," Barbara told us, "we all have a totem of animals that guides us and represents our inner being. They provide powerful insight and understanding to our unique purpose in life."

Wow! That certainly was something I had never learned in Catholic school. But there was more.

"Not only does each of us have a totem of animals that are unique to us and in touch with our being, but we also have a power animal. This power animal is walking by our side at all times. Once we know our power animal, a person typically realizes that this animal has been in our dreams or has been making appearances in our life when needed."

Now this was some cool stuff. At this point Robbie and I were begging for an animal reading. Clearly she had done this before and knew what she was talking about.

Robbie went first. Barbara laid the cards out, face down, and asked Robbie to follow her heart and instinct in choosing the card that would be her power animal. Robbie carefully selected a card...a muskrat.  Barbara read the description. Robbie and I were speechless. The muskrat nailed Robbie's current life circumstance and mirrored her personality. At this point I was anxious to find out my power animal. How could I be 40 and have no clue that I was missing this part of my life?

Although the pressure and anticipation was building, I did my best to choose exactly the right card that was destined to be my animal being. I flipped it over to reveal…a skunk. Really…a skunk? How could I be a skunk? This can't be good. Where is the eagle card?

Barbara read the expression on my face and quickly interjected, "Sandy, this is a very commanding animal. You are SO lucky to have this as your power animal". Alright, I waited to reserve judgment. Barbara then read me the description.

"The skunk brings us an awareness of self-respect. When we fully accept who we are and learn to express the essence of ourselves, without ego, we attract those who share our path and repel those who don't. Skunk medicine is about developing a good self-image. The physical and spiritual qualities of one with the skunk power animal are self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, creative energy, paying attention to intuition and inner knowings."

Now I was listening. It was really impressive. I liked the skunk. I wanted to be the skunk. I am the skunk! 

Robbie (The Muskrat), Barbara (The Card Reader) and Sandy (The Skunk)
On a later trip with Garrett and his dad, Larry, I joked that I should get a tattoo with my power animal, the skunk. Upon reflection Garrett reminded me that the placement of a skunk tattoo near or on my behind could be misinterpreted. Hmmm...a very good point that brought many laughs. My life as a skunk whisperer perhaps should remain a secret. But Larry remembered my affinity to the skunk.

Two months after our conversation on the skunk, I received a package at my work. It was bigger than a checkbook box, but not large enough to hold tax papers. Hmmm...this was curious. The label was handwritten. As I quickly perused the return label and saw "Brucker", I Immediately thought it was a gift from Garrett. I was a bit spoiled in this regard as a frequent recipient of cards, flowers and presents.

But the handwriting wasn't familiar. I looked closer and saw it read "Larry Brucker". Wow, a package from Garrett's dad with no clue on what it could be. I opened the box to find a furry black and white bundle with a yellow sticky note attached. The note read "Sandy, you will want to hang this up a bit and it should be fine.  It's been in a drawer a while ~ Larry"

I unfolded the treasure and realized that what I had in my hands was a genuine skunk skin. Yes, the real McCoy with little holes where the eyes once were and a little nose. I laughed so hard that my co-workers started gathering in my office to see what all the commotion was about. They were amazed by my gift. While they were all sifting through paperwork, pencils and highlighters; I was the recipient of a skunk skin! A never-before delivery at our office and I was quite proud...a gift like no other. Why, Larry Brucker, you have my number. And, yes, I am most appreciative of this treasured gift. Because, you know...I am the skunk :)

My treasured creature!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 26, 2013: Heidi Woodard: Many contenders for title of psycho mom

Blogger: Heidi Woodard
You’ve all either witnessed one or been one or are one yourself: the psycho, overly-involved, hovering-over-your-child mom. You have good intentions (or so you claim), but your actions tend to speak louder than words.
So which division of moms is the most intense? Is it the sports mom? The cheer/dance team mom? What about spelling bee mom? The “My child’s on the honor roll, homecoming court or show choir” mom?
I think by watching only two episodes of “Toddlers and Tiaras” I have locked in my vote. If you are forcing your 3-year old to spray tan and whiten teeth, you maaaay want to step back, take a long look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “Why?”
This psycho mom thing really started to rear its head as I sat and watched my 8-year-old practice baseball last week. First of all, I felt the need to introduce myself to the coach for the first time upon arriving at the field (my husband had handled practice duty up to this point) by saying I would be willing to help during practice if he needed anything. I also tossed in the fact that I played ball at Creighton many moons ago.
And that’s when the little voice in my head said, “Really? You are dropping credentials? It’s a 10-and-under league. If you know which hand your glove goes on and where the concession stand is located, you are probably qualified enough to help out if needed.”
Later in practice, the team started taking batting practice. This is the first year that Owen has competed in a league in which the pitchers are his peers (prior to now it was coach pitch).
My little lefty was at the plate, his helmet balanced too far back on his head, taking cuts. The count was 3 balls, 2 strikes, and I could see that the teammate who was pitching to Owen was trying just as hard to ring him up as Owen was trying to make contact.
Then it happened. An inside fast ball nailed my little man smack-dab on his bony hip. And he went down.
I know I made an audible gasp. The pitcher actually glanced at me. And I gave him this “It’s OK … I know you didn’t mean to do that” look. And then my focus returned to my son. He slowly got up, wiping away tears, trying to reassure his coach and me that he would be OK. I was so proud of him that I can’t even put it into words.
I met him in the dugout (yes, I did … the sacred space where parents really shouldn’t be). I told him the pitcher didn’t do it on purpose. He told me he knew that. I explained that left-handed batters, when facing right-handed pitchers, tend to get hit — especially if the pitcher really wants to strike them out.
The pitcher inevitably winds back to put a little more juice on the ball, and if he doesn’t release the ball at just the right moment, it can result in a pitch that is hard to avoid getting hit with. I told him getting hit with the ball was the worst thing in baseball, but that the pain would go away.
And, finally, I told him to not be scared the next time he went up to the plate. He looked up at me and said, “I won’t.”
All that kept racing through my mind was that someday I would have to explain to him how there will be opposing team pitchers who throw at batters on purpose just to mess with their minds and try to intimidate them.
What will happen if one of those pitchers intentionally hits Owen or someone else on his team? And has a loud-mouth mom who yells, “That’s right, Timmy! Teach him not to crowd the plate the next time he faces you!”?
Well, I can guarantee you that that will be the day I leave the “Toddlers and Tiaras” moms in the dust and solely secure first place in the psycho mom division.
Heidi Woodard is married with three children. Read her Thursdays on

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 25, 2013: Don't Make Mama Mad

The infamous Kingman pool a few years after the incident noted below
A friend once described an upset mother by saying "she's like a mama bear protecting her bear cubs". Yep, been there, done that. As much as I would like to say that I've always kept my cool and been the exception, my mother bear mode has kicked in on many occasions.

One of these occasions occurred on what was to be a casual night of swimming in Arizona. In hindsight, I would label this incident 50% mother bear syndrome and 50% a turf battle with a lifeguard drill sergeant.

The boys and I were visiting Mom & Dad in Kingman, Arizona. Their cousins from Las Vegas joined us for some relaxed family fun. In the heat of the Arizona summer, the decision was made to enjoy some evening swimming at the local public pool.

In my mind, this should have been an everyday occurrence at the Kingman pool; visitors to their pool who weren't local residents with a pool pass. I quickly found that our arrival was outside their radar screen, or at least outside the radar screen of the lead lifeguard.

With kids in tow, ranging from 4 years to 10 years old, I checked in our crew and we immediately jumped in the pool. A lifeguard dressed in a blue one-piece with a serious blond bob immediately blew her whistle. Confused at our violation, I looked up at her.

She went on to tell me in a very militaristic manner that without a designated pool pin, children were not allowed in the deep water. After my pointing out that the kids could, in fact, stand in the water we were in (3 1/2 feet), she reiterated their rule and that 3 1/2 feet fell under that rule.

Hmmmm. Still confused, but trying to be compliant, I asked how we could acquire the said pins as all children in tow, less the four year-old, were proficient swimmers. My attempt to explain my children's level of swim skills and passed swim levels fell on deaf ears. Her answer to my question, "You'll have to wait for me at the lifeguard stand. Remove the children from the water."

So I begrudgingly did so, but with a slight smile still on my face. As the kids and I longingly watched the other young swimmers enjoy the clear blue chlorinated water, Lifeguard Hilda proceeded to blow her whistle and yell in your megaphone "Everyone out. We are performing a water safety reenactment." As we continued to sit still dripping wet and cold at this point, Hilda carefully watched the other guards fake a drowning and life saving techniques.

A half an hour into this exercise and after the other swimmers were allowed back into the pool, I finally got Hilda's attention. I asked the question again on how we could acquire the desired pool pin. After her lengthy explanation on pin requirements which not only included swimming across the pool and back, but a week grace period of "pool time" in the shallow water (i.e. baby pool).

Now I was pissed. Trying to contain my frustration, I faked a grin and asked calmly, "But, Hilda, we don't live here. We are only in Kingman until tomorrow. Are you suggesting that visitors of less than a week aren't given the opportunity to swim in the main pool?"

Her answer to me "Well, you can swim. They can't, unless they wait the seven day grace period."

Trying not to get visibly angry, I then tried negotiating. Somehow Hilda finally consented to allow Zach, the oldest of my crew, to swim the "across the pool and back" test, but only him. He performed marvelously and was awarded his pin.

Hilda did tell me that the others were allowed in the big pool as long as I held them (due to age, they would not be waived the one week grace period rule). So as I stood in the 3 1/2 foot water, four children clung to me. Like monkeys, they were linked on my back, neck, and hip. All while we watched Zach swim in the deep water and entertain us by jumping off the boards and going down the slide.

My parents showed up at the pool late in the game to wave hello and watch our fun. Mom said she knew right away that there was a problem. Purportedly my nostrils flare and I have a death look in my eye when I'm mad. My now adult children confirm this observation.

I did feel better after telling my pool debacle tale to my mother. Of course, she agreed and sympathized. And then we laughed. It really had to be a comic moment to see me dragging four large children around the pool, mad as heck.

I have always viewed the coveted Zach pin as a trophy of sorts. My win over Lifeguard Hilda. Although Zach earned it, I did claim a bit of ownership myself.

The pin stayed affixed to Zach's swimsuit in the years to come. Neither one of us could part with it. Hilda - 4, Mom - 1. But I least I went down fighting :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24, 2013: Kingman Pool with Grandma

Wagner grandkids at the Kingman pool
Guest blogger is my mom. Love her descriptive portrayal of life history...

July 21, 2008:  Kylynn, Josh, Brooke, Ben, Grant & Garrett visit Kingman's old downtown pool.  I drove them to & from the pool in installments....our car seats 5 and it was interesting...Even though it is only a 3 mile trip to the pool, I was worried sick something would happen to the kids at the pool or at our house while I transported. Garrett, the youngest, was 8; & Kylynn, the oldest, was a few weeks shy of 14.  Kylynn went with me on the 1st trip (so she could watch the little ones at the pool while I went back for the 2nd batch); Josh watched those left behind at the house.  Later, on the trip back to the house, I followed the same procedure but in reverse.  For what little time Grant & Garrett spent in the water, it was in the shallow end and they pretty much hugged the side of the pool.  Safety first for those two little guys.  Not so for the older ones.  As a matter of fact, I do believe I heard more than one whistle warning from the lifeguard. As you see in the pictures, interest in the pool had waned for Kingman kids; the pool was pretty empty. On each trip back to the house we stopped at the downtown convenience store, Circle K, for snacks. Wow, were they hungry! 

A good time was had by all!

July 23, 2013: Erin Andrews; a Good Pool Day

A surprise guest at Shadow Ridge Pool
I blogged yesterday about my favorite summer of public pools. I think Ben may differ in his opinion. Although I know he enjoyed our public pool adventures, his preteen summers at Shadow Ridge Country Club rank high on his list.

We belonged for two summers when Ben was eleven and twelve. His posse of close friends belonged as well. It was a far cry from our summer of playing with random friends at random pools. This was more like an exclusive boys club. They ran in a pack with many in his clan living just blocks away.

For us, it was not a walk. We lived a couple of miles away. Thus Ben's excuse to frequently leave the confines of the pool and run wild through the Shadow Ridge neighborhood. Ben & Co. would start at the pool at opening with many days ending into the night. What happened in between will probably remain one of life's greatest mysteries.

On one particular occasion, I had left the pool with Grant; having enough fun in the sun for a day. Ben was busy showing off on the diving boards with his buds. With his having no interest in calling it a day, I relented and agreed to come back to pick Ben up.

When I arrived at our agreed pick-up time, Ben was nowhere to be found. After an hour of scouring the neighborhood and knocking on doors with no resulting child, I started to panic. I decided to talk to the teenage staff at Shadow and ask when they last saw my wayward child. As I walked up to the lifeguard stand, I heard Ben's distinctive laugh. He was hanging out with the teenage female lifeguards in their inside designated lounge area. Note: designated for lifeguards, not boys.

As I collected Ben, he went on to tell me that he and a couple of buddies had befriended the lifeguards. They were considered "one of them". So they hung out in the lifeguard lounge because they were invited to hang out. Of course. What was I thinking?

The photo above was taken of Ben and his friend, Sam, with Erin Andrews. Yes, the sportscaster and celebrity, Erin Andrews. I received this text picture at work. Ben was spending his typical summer afternoon at the pool with all friends and no mom.

Erin was taking an afternoon to relax in between games at the College World Series. Ben and Sam welcomed her into their pool and asked for a picture as any preteen boy would. Who knows, maybe she got an invitation into the lifeguard lounge too.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 22, 2013: Pool Chronicles: Part One

A Miller Park Pool picture...cousins joined us on this occasion
Grant just came home from the pool. He and his friend, Lucas, walked across the street to neighboring Lifetime Fitness. Three hours later he arrived back home. I asked if he had fun; confident of a positive response based on the time lapsed.

"Mom, we didn't know anyone. And then we played with a random boy. That always happens to us."

After some further probing, Grant reiterated to me that he liked meeting random new friends at the pool. It was fun. I had to agree. Random friends are fun. Our summer of random pools and new friendships eleven years ago was the best. It was our summer of public pools.

In my twenty years of raising kids and enjoying our dog days of summers, we have covered it all in the pool category. We have belonged to about every private pool west of 120th Street. There have been summer memberships to everything from fitness centers to country clubs, and privately owned pools.

But the best summer of swimming was the year I boycotted joining a pool. Instead we toured the public pools. Our travels took us to every nook and cranny in the city of Omaha. And the adventures had, nothing short of a delight.

That particular summer the boys were two, six, and nine. I would load them into my car and tell them we were going on a Magical Mystery Bus Tour. I would then randomly pick a public pool across town. With diaper bag in hand and snacks packed, we enjoyed our afternoon of water frenzy.

From Hanscom to Elmwood to Hitchcock Public Pools, we enjoyed the wide variety of pool depths and diving boards. The neighboring parks and picnic areas were an added treat. Our geographic span covered the entire city. But we did have a favorite destination. The best kept secret in Omaha was the Miller Park Pool.

Nestled in North O and considered by many as the "rough" part of town, this pool was many times forgotten. It was newly renovated with a water spitting dragon and winding slides. The depth didn't exceed three and a half feet. Perfect for my young children. A police officer was on duty at all times. As we became regulars of sorts, he too became our summertime friend.

Although the boys would take their own friends on occasion, they spent most summer days meeting random friends. They played with their new friends and learned a little lesson in diversity. The lesson was actually more of a non-lesson.

Most of the kids at the pool were of dark skin and dark hair. My blond haired children were the minority. Yet none of the kids felt a hint of diversity. They played as kids enjoying some heat relief and water games; without an idea or care of each other's home address or backgrounds.

The purity of spirit in an innocent child was reflected in the fact that no one cared. They played with each other. There were no differences under the heat of that summer sun. The same story was true of each pool we visited that summer.

It was a summer of adventures with lessons in trying new things and meeting new people with an open mind. And although we are no longer trekking across Omaha for pool days, I am happy to hear that Grant still subscribes to the belief that random friends are a great way to enjoy the summer.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21, 2013: Cousins

Some of the Lane boy cousins enjoying lake time together
Ben and Grant spent the night at their cousins' lake home on Friday. With two more cousins in town from Canada, the all-boy entourage took over the lake. When the idea came up over sushi to have all the cousins together, I jumped at the opportunity. Any time my kids can spend time with their cousins, I'm all for it.

I have to admit that I'm quite partial to the relationship of cousins. It's like brothers and sisters, but not. A close tie, blood that's thicker than water, but without the sibling drama. We all got to part and go to our respective homes after a long weekend at Grandma's. Fights were few and fun was at an abundance. I always looked forward to our many family gatherings. My girl cousins were a perfect replacement for the sisters I never had.

My cousin, Kelly (Kelly the Great), and I wrote our own secret language. Ben and Adam ran wild with my brothers those many summer on the farm. We built tree houses together; a haven for the older boys to teach the younger cousins naughty words. We walked beans and burned garbage. And we were collectively spoiled by our grandparents.

I grew up among a flock of cousins on both sides of the family. We grew up together under the watchful eye of our related parents and grandparents. And we were as thick as thieves, regardless of our ages.

My mom was the oldest of nine and Aunt Kathy, the youngest of nine. Although I am eighteen years older than her twins, we are close. We are cousins. Blood. Comrades with a shared life journey. A bond that never breaks, regardless of the miles apart and years without seeing each other.

Growing up with a cousin is a relationship that remains intact for life, regardless of what comes with age. I love my cousins. My boys love their cousins as well. It warms my heart to see them all together. Thick as thieves...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20, 2013: Fancy Shoes

A girl always needs to pop her wardrobe
I wrote a blog recently about my love for varying accessories and a great pair of shoes. My mom commented that I certainly didn't grow up with an abundance of shoes. Then she pointed out a prized pair I owned; blue saddle shoes.

We chose them for my First Communion. I am quite sure I was the only First Communicant with blue saddle shoes. The other girls wore white patent leather strapped sandals. Theirs were considered traditional church shoes, mine were not. And I was thrilled.

My mom gets credit for all of this. First off, she allowed me to wear the bright shoes on that important day (most moms wouldn't have for the sake of not wanting to be different). It was my mom who instilled in me a desire to pop a wardrobe and dare to be different. Together we created fashion with a sewing machine and a shoestring budget.

This is where my mom gets the most credit. Those cool pieces of purchased clothing were many times bought off of sale racks. Items deemed to too different for other people's taste, but within our budget. I never felt like we bought the cheap stuff. Instead I felt like we scored with these great special-priced finds. And different was fun.

My mom taught me at a very young age that it's all in the presentation. I loved those blue shoes. I wore them with confidence as a happy Second Grader making her First Communion. I was the envy of the white patent leather crowd.

Did I mention the white Keds I owned; covered with yellow smiley faces? My mom found them in the back clearance room at Vollmer's Shoe Store. My friends still remind me of these shoes that I wore and they wanted. They had a pop alright, with smiles that looked up at me every day of my eight-year-old summer. I wonder if I can find an adult pair on Zappo's....

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19, 2013: I Miss my Dog :(

My Pup, Harry
Tonight I unexpectedly ended up home alone. After putzing about the house a bit, I decided to rummage through pictures in basement. My latest quest is to find specific pool pictures from years past. I have a blog series on pool stories on the tip of my mind.

As always, my adventures into my photo album chronicles led to many photos removed (including the ones I was looking for at the pools) for future blog stories. They filled me with ideas on stories I want to write.

I love pictures. I am glad I have always had this love, as I enjoy the many memories and moments in time that have been captured on film. Some pictures remind me of stories, others; of people from my past. Some just bring me back to moments in time. Feelings reminiscent of my age, my kids' age, and adventures in my then daily life. Time stops in a photo.

I found this picture of my beloved dog, Harry. It was taken four years ago when he was still in fairly good health. Check our my Maltese shirt to match my dog :) It made me smile and then it made me cry. I miss sweet Harr-Bear. He was a good dog. Glad I have this picture. We were both happy to be hanging together. I remember it well. Good dog. Good times.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18, 2013: Peace not War

1989 picture with my future brothers and sisters-in-law
I just spent the last few hours enjoying Blue Sushi happy hour with my previous sisters-in-laws (not sure of the appropriate title) and their husbands. When I try to introduce them to outsiders, it feels awkward. But to us, our relationship feels natural.

What to call them...ex-sister-in-laws? sisters to my ex-husband? aunts to my kids? Whatever I say, the party on the other side is confused. It took me these four years past-divorce to figure out that the other side doesn't matter. Our relationship is our relationship. And it has nothing to do with choosing sides.

When I filed for divorce that painful day in December 2008, I remember the shock and fallout. But I will also always remember the loving text I received from Scott's youngest sister, Jennifer.

"You have been my sister for more of the years in my lifetime than when you weren't in my life."

I choke up each time I think of this comment. Divorce sucks. As difficult as it was for our kids and for Scott and I, it was equally as hard on our immediate family. My husband was a son to my parents; just as Jennifer was my sister.

Scott's baby sister became my sister from the time she was a young teen. We were family. What ever happened between Scott and I were Scott and my doing. Jennifer, my parents, Scott's parents, etc... were the unintended casualties.

They shouldn't feel ashamed for maintaining a relationship with either of us or feel they need to pick sides. Taking a step back, this is so wrong from every angle. Selfish. Relationships happen over time and are separate from the war of divorce. It is best for the couple separating and for their kids to enjoy these relationships without a feeling guilt or taking sides. It may not feel good to either party at any given time, but the focus can't be on the war. It's needs to be on the unintended casualties.

So today I will proclaim that I am thankful for awesome ex-sisters-in law who will always be my sisters. I am thankful for well-adjusted kids with wonderful loving grandparents on both sides who treat us both as their children. I am also thankful for an ex-husband who is a great co-parent with a loving wife who cares for my teenage kids which is notably not an easy job. Peace not war. It's a much better life.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17, 2013: Let's Go to the Fair!

Laura and I getting ready for the Plymouth County Fair
I want to go to the Iowa State Fair. Really bad. I've never been, but have heard great things about it. I'm unsure how this slipped by me over the course of my forty-five years; especially given twenty years of these in Iowa and the rest in neighboring Nebraska.

I have enjoyed many years of the the Plymouth County Fair, the Clay County Fair and even once, the Nebraska State Fair. But never Iowa. A tragedy. Even Martha Stewart gushes about this show put on by Iowa. And with a mere two hour drive away, I have instead sat back, year after year, with no participation.

I just received my HyVee mailer on great cooking and entertaining tips. They highlighted this coveted Midwestern attraction. I am taking this as my needed push. This will be the year. Time to experience a real fair with my kids.

As a child I eagerly awaited our county fair. The Wurth's were the poster family of everything good the fair portrayed. Each day they represented everything from the ag exhibits to the 4-H stand. They gave generously of their time and supported all activities the fair had to offer. They also brought me along on most occasions as a lucky tag-along.

Their daughter and my dear friend, Laura, provided me an open invitation to that wondrous week to close out our summer. We would start in the heat of the day, checking out the farm animal exhibits and 4-H tents. Our nights were full of cotton candy, rides, and teen dances. And we never missed the tractor pulls or the Plymouth County Fair queen crowning.

Boy crushes were found by night and hard work put in the exhibit stands by day. We loved it. I participated in the 4-H entries one year. My recollection is of a painted drawing, sewn baby dress, and baked sugar cookies. I was carefully critiqued by judges and given ribbons for my work. My many days spent with Laura were childhood joy. The fairgrounds were our playground for a week.

So now it is time for my boys to check out what a State Fair is all about. We will try whatever fried indulgence they have schemed up and will partake in the great entertainment provided. I also hear they have interesting butter sculptures on display. Come join us! I know from experience that the fair is best enjoyed with a friend :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July, 16, 2013: I'm Back

Sunset from Sunday over Creighton campus
I've been busy. Thus the "summer rerun" schedule with my last two blog posts. The good news is the "reruns" did serve a purpose as I would like to incorporate blog stories from a different site unto this site. The other good news is that it has been a good busy for me. The sky is not falling.

So now it is Tuesday night and it's the first I've really relaxed since the weekend (technically probably since late last week). Breathe, Sandy. <sigh>. Home at 9:30 p.m. with curious boys wondering how my long day went. Good. And home feels good.

What to do? Hmmm. A little catch up with the boys. And then promptly into my swimsuit with a beer out of the garage frig and directly into the hot tub. The moon and stars are spectacular tonight FYI. Happy to relax a bit and enjoy them.

After catching up on world news, social media, and e-mails while hanging with the boys, I asked for suggestions on my blog topic of the night. I am feeling free as a bird, you see, with my new-found, but temporary, freedom. Suggestions ranged from Ben's "write about me, Mom" to Grant's suggestion of our cat, Abby.

Upon reflection I decided to write about nothing. With the hopes that everyone else reading my post is enjoying their own piece of nothing this particular tonight. Sometimes it's good not to think about anything in particular. Mission accomplished.

A picture of an enjoyed sunset with Garrett was instilled in my mind, so I decided share it. Thoughts on a quiet moon. And visions of a morning sunrise to come. Yes, a blog about nothing. Bliss.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013: Swimming Pool Blues

A summer rerun (from my story blog)...

I am Miss USA to the left and Bev, Miss America, to the right.
With my many years of running and recent addition of cycling to my repertoire,I am frequently asked the question, "Why don't you do a triathlon?"  My answer has always been, "I'm not a very good swimmer.  I would sink".  I have perfected the dog paddle, but past that; my skills are limited.  This statement does seem a bit odd based on my childhood summers spent with endless, parentless hours at the pool.  An inquiring mind would wonder how I could have slipped through those many years in the sun without a whistle twirling around my finger and my butt situated in a life guard seat.  Alas, I am going to have to blame this one on my mom; the woman who virtually does nothing wrong.  But in this case, her snap decision to remedy a wardrobe malfunction with a safety pin derailed the course of my swimming future.

My wardrobe, designed and sewn my my talented seamstress mother, included exquisite designs that were rarely tackled by her Remsen housewife counterparts.  Mom had a little Stella McCartney in her and loved the challenge of sewing a piece that was difficult, different, and required her to "go outside the pattern".  Above is a photo of me in my first bikini which was handmade by my mom.  My best friend, Bev, and I decided to dress up as Miss America and Miss USA for the Remsen Kids' Days costume parade.  We made our roses out of tissue paper, our banners out of streamers, cut our crowns out of card board, and added string to sheets for our capes.  All of our design work was done with the sole handiwork and imagination of two twelve year old girls who only wished we had (and were allowed) high heals to finish off our look. to love the innocence of youth.  There wasn't a hint of embarrassment or self-consciousness in our parade walk that day.  We felt confident in our role as two small town beauty queens.

You will notice some very subtle differences in Bev's and my bikini if you look closely.  Bev's store bought stunner had about half the material as mine; both in the bottom and in the top.  I would refer to mine as a "full coverage" fit.  I would also say that my mom may have had some ulterior motives choosing to make mine herself.  I am quite sure that the thought of me prancing around the Remsen Public Pool in my pre-teen years without full coverage would not be her preference.  And there was room to grow left in both pieces as I am now sure she wanted to be extra cautious in not having my junk hanging out.  Perhaps my mom should be a designer of today's swimwear.  I am sure many parents of teens (girls AND boys) would appreciate her discretion.

I was very grateful to my mom for allowing me this indulgence and for designing my floral bikini.  I wore it proudly to the pool that summer of 1979.  My brothers and I would make our daily trek to the pool and wait in line until the opening hour of noon.  These were the days we were reminded that we needed to wait an hour after eating before swimming.  Note that although the hour rule was strictly enforced to promote safe swimming, we didn't have a clue on the benefits of sun screen and saturated our bodies in baby oil to take in ever inch of the sun.  We would hang out at the pool all day with our friends until the church bells sounded their fifteen minute warning call for 6:00 supper.  When we weren't in the pool, we were either running barefoot in the adjacent park, causing trouble somewhere in Remsen (pay phones were a sinful temptation, the cemetery was our playground, and the church tower was our jungle gym), or spending our hard-earned bean walking money on melted white water taffy, salty popcorn, or sour bottle tops.  And there was no such thing as a helicopter mom in the 70's.  I am sure my mom knew where the pool was located, but I have no recollection of her ever watching from a park bench outside the chain link fence or checking in on us.  She had better things to do with her precious time and we never thought twice of her absence from our carefree days.

In order to gain the privilege of spending hours at the pool while ruining our youthful skin under the rays of the sun, we were also required by mom to go to swimming lessons.  These lessons ran throughout the summer months and were also in the early morning hours when the water was it's coldest.  I never looked forward to these cold swims, but followed the instruction of the trained life guards and passed the entry levels without incident.  Most kids in town went through the beginning learners courses, but only a few took it to the coveted junior water safety level which was necessary to move on to the life saver level which was the only avenue to become a life guard.  And wasn't every Miss USA a life guard as a teenager?  Yes, of course, I wanted this.  Being a good student, the junior water safety course was a breeze.  I passed this phase with flying colors.  The next step, and the only remaining step toward the life guard track, was passing the life saver level.  I went through the lessons learning how to lug weighted dummies out of the deep end of the pool and how to effectively dive in a timed trial utilizing the precious seconds necessary to save a life.  I was prepared and ready to take the life saver test. Since being a life saver and a potential life guard was not taken lightly, these tests were given on a one-on-one basis to ensure that the swimmer had effectively mastered these skills.

On the morning of my testing, I put on my floral bikini ready to pedal up to the pool and show my skills.  By this time, we were closing in on the end of our summer break and my suit had gotten the typical intense chlorine workout of a twelve year old pool rat.  I had noticed my bikini bottoms progressively getting looser.  But that particular morning, they had gotten so loose that they wouldn't stay up.  Panicked, I ran to Mom showing her my wardrobe malfunction.  She quickly assessed the situation and determined that I had stretched out the elastic to the point of it no longer holding it's elasticity (too much taffy perhaps?).  She pondered threading a new piece of elastic through the sewed band with a safety pin, but settled on a last second call of tucking the bikini bottoms to a tight fit by securing them with a large safety pin.  "This will work for now," she said adding, "I'll fix them when you get home tonight."  Hesitant, but with faith in my ever-resourceful mother, I took off for the pool.

A bit worried about the exposed safety pin pressing on my hip, I listened to the hunky and tanned life guard, Rob, explain the steps involved with my testing that morning.  The good news was that Rob never noticed my safety pin as he was more concerned with tanned and trim Connie who was starting her life guard duties of the day by cleaning the leaves out of the pool.  Connie was sporting a pink ruffled bikini which was accentuated with large breasts that were visibly absent from my suit.  Rob couldn't take his eyes off of Connie as she playfully teased him back with every flirtatious curve ball he threw her way.  Not only was I relieved that Rob didn't notice the obviousness of my safety pin, but I was now self-conscious about my noticably homemade swimsuit as well.  This was the first time it crossed my mind that homemade was not the norm (kind of like how Eve felt when she first realized she was naked).  Connie's hot pink ruffles were certainly gathered somewhere outside of Remsen.

As I lugged the heavy dummy across the length of the pool in hopes that Rob would actually watch so I wouldn't have to redo, I noticed that my bottoms weren't staying secured.  As I swam, they would fall down below my hips with my behind exposed under water.  I pulled them up with one hand while head bobbing and trying to lug the dummy to the side with the other.  I am sure it looked a bit like I was drowning myself when I was supposed to be demonstrating my skills as the one able to save a life.  But the choice between exposing my rear or looking confident in my dummy dragging skills went to not letting Rob see my very white buttocks.  After going through the swimming laps portion of  the test, it was clear to me that my drawers were a problem and the safety pin an inadequate fix.  Working elastic was definitely a necessity for an effective swimming suit.  Panic set in as Rob was making too many notes on his clip board and started looking at me strangely while losing interest in Connie.  With every stroke as I was trying to inconspicuously slide my arm underwater to pull up my bottoms, I had surely looked like a drowning rat as Rob looked on.  I am also pretty sure Connie was watching me too, wondering what was up with this strange girl flailing around in the water.

The last part of the test was diving off of the high board.  As Rob explained what was required of me with a puzzled look on his face, I was having flashbacks to my grade school lessons on the law of gravity.  This law certainly wasn't going to be in my favor with my wearing elasticless bottoms going off a high diving board.  As I stood at the edge of the tall board, I locked my knees together in an attempt to keep my suit on during my exposed decent into the water.  I can only imagine how this technique looked by a set of eyes watching from the life guard stool.  Although I was able to keep my drawers on during flight, they came off (yes...all the way off) once I hit the water.  After scrambling ten feet under water to find and re-secure my swim suit bottoms back unto my body, I emerged by the ladder.  At this point Rob was now concerned.  In his defense, all of his attention was now on me as he nicely showed me the proper stance and execution of a high dive.  He even tried to physically position my legs into a stance where my knees didn't touch.  The entire time he was explaining the obvious, I was panicking in worry that the already loose bottoms would fall down as he stood next to me and within inches of my rump.  A second try off the high board by me led to the same result as the first.  Fortunately, I was again able to retrieve my suit bottoms before coming up and thus avoiding exposing either my swimsuit problem or my naked bottom to Rob and Connie.  Rob did take it easy on me as he explained that he couldn't pass me, but with a little work I could try again another time.

I couldn't get out of the Remsen Public Pool fast enough following my failed swim test.  I raced home distancing myself from the embarrassment that stayed behind for Rob and Connie to rehash without me.  When mom asked me how it went and I told her the play-by-play in my twelve year old voice, I think she was actually laughing.  But without saying another word about my swimming pool blues, she simply took the bikini bottoms and secured them with a new piece of elastic while asking me what else lay ahead on that beautiful summer day.  Life went on.  We never wasted any time crying over spilled milk at my house.  I am also pretty sure that I decided to go back to the swimming pool that day in my perfectly fitting floral bikini as I blended in with the hoards of kids with the same idea.  I never did take the test again, but have decided that some lessons are in order before I take on the triathlon.  But no bikini this go around.  I will go for the one-piece spandex made exquisitely in China.

July 14, 2013: Bean Walking

    Bean walking crew of the 70's
    (back - Aunt Kathy, Mom, Dad, Uncle Rich, Uncle Guy)
    (front - me, Mark and Matt)
We all know the feelings of summer. Those small reminders that capture the essence of our youth; the feel of the warm sun on our face while laying back with closed eyes or the sound of sprinklers with the lingering smell of freshly cut grass. These are the feelings of my youthful summers that resonate through me each time I encounter them.

Although not a feeling I experience frequently, another memory is the feel of wet plants rubbing against my exposed legs. Yes, this is the memory of bean walking on those many early June and July Iowa mornings in years past. If you grew up in the farm country of the Midwest, you completely understand what I’m talking about.

While my children complain of having to get up early on an occasional summer morning for a camp, job, or sporting event; they haven’t a clue on how the sound of an alarm clock felt to child getting ready to walk beans.

For those inexperienced in the former art of bean walking (machines and chemicals have made this trade obsolete), let me explain a bit. In order to receive top dollar for their harvested crops in the fall, farmers would work diligently to produce weed-free fields of soybeans. In the seventies this task was accomplished by use a work force well trained in the art of identifying milk weeds, button weeds, and arrant corn stocks. Each unintended plant visitor had a differing method of removal.

My brothers and I were well trained in the use of our hoe versus pulling weeds deep from the root with our gloved hands. In later years, we were given spray bottles filled with Round Up (which I now think probably wasn’t a such a good idea for our long-term health).

Bean walking was a common job that most all kids from my hometown held at some point in their childhood. With our grandfather a soybean farmer, this was a summer job my brothers and I held our entire childhood. But our grandparents paid us well; much better than our friends earned at other farms and we never questioned this as our designated annual summer activity. We started our summer days waking before the sun rose so we would be ready to take on the rows of beans at the crack of daylight. 

The pay-off for all of our hard work was felt at the end of the summer when we received our bean walking money. Grandma was the family farm bookkeeper and would keep track of our hours by day in her large leather-bound ledger. At the end of the season, she would carefully tally our final hours and neatly write us each a check.

Included on each check in the memo section, in her very immaculate handwriting, would be her careful pay calculations. This check always seemed massive in amount and felt magical in our pockets as we traveled to the bank. Although much of it was put into savings, we were also allowed to have some mad money for a shopping splurge.

Then at the close of each summer, our parents would take us to Omaha for a long weekend full of visiting Aunt Joan, swimming in the hotel pool, and shopping with a portion of our earnings. The picture below is of Matt and me, post-swim, showing off our new purchases. We were thrilled, to say the least. Somehow all of those early mornings and dirt clog wars became a distant memory.There were many lessons learned in those endless fields of beans.     
Matt and I show off our new treasures

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 13, 2013: Corn Shucking

The final product...details below
I grew up in Iowa, the land of endless corn. Knee high by the Fourth of July; it was always in abundance. I loved this succulent indulgence since a small girl. Corn on the cob was prepared and available at every church picnic and summer family gathering. A side for the special family meals prepared by my mom.

But she warned me against too much of a good thing. Mom often said "Don't eat too much. Remember, corn is what they fatten the pigs with." The phrase has stuck with me for life. But I still love corn. And I eat it. Just not too much.

Memories of sweet corn not only includes biting into a juicy cob, but the less pleasurable job of shucking the corn. This was the part that we did not like. It was a task my brothers and I avoided, although not very successfully.

Prior to a family gathering, we would sit on top of buckets in the back yard, shucking corn into garbage cans. The silks would stick and the husks would fly as we tore them off. Clean up was even less desirable. But we did it because Mom told us and because we loved the final product.

At age forty-five and hundreds of thousands of shucked cobs later, I have learned a secret. It took You Tube and a cute corn farmer, but who knew? The attached video describes how to seamlessly cook and shuck an ear of corn that results in a clean, succulent result. I demonstrated for Garrett last night, to his complete amazement.

Watch the two minute video "Shucking with Ken"...You Tube - Shucking with Ken. It will be worth your time! This Iowa girl didn't know sweet corn (in moderation, Mom) could get any better, but it has!

My demonstration of Ken's technique

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 12, 2013: Adventure Complete

Grant and camp cabin mates
Grant's week-long camp has been deemed a success. Stefano picked him up from Rivercrest Camp in Fremont yesterday afternoon. Although I have yet to lay eyes on my young camper, I was able to talk to him on he and Stefano's drive home.

My first question..."On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rank your camp experience?"

Grant "A nine! Actually a ten. It was awesome. I'm going back next year!"

Although I think there are some parental steps that need to occur before next year's registration, I like the enthusiasm.

My second question..."What was the best part?"

Grant "Everything. It was so much fun. Can I go back again next year?"

After some more coaxing, I did get some specifics. The food was good. They didn't sleep much and he did get my letters. But he needs to go to the orthodontist because he broke a brace when a tree branch hit him in the face while running in the dark. Hmmm. Of course.

Grant is with his dad this weekend, so I will have to wait until Monday for the longer version of his escapades. I was greeted with some camp surprises upon my arrival home last night. One envelope had enclosed a 5X7 copy of his camp picture (above). The second was Grant's letter to me from camp (below). A man of few words. Yes, Grant, we will look into new "everyday" shoes and yes, you can go back to Rivercrest next year.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 11, 2013: Jazzin'

Our paparazzi from last night
Last night was Jazz on the Green. It was a night full of friends, cheers, and summer relaxation. The jazz music sounded more like blue grass to my naive ear, but enjoyable, nonetheless.

The ladies wore hats and sundresses with the guys dragging our blankets, pop-up chairs, and coolers to the designated grassy knoll. Surprisingly the summer humidity avoided us with the unexpected shade, a welcomed retreat.

The Omaha World Herald reported an audience count of 10,000. Seems right by my visual accounting. I ran into many friends during walks around the perimeter. Lots of smiling faces and dancing legs came out to Midtown Crossing last night. Fun times.

The guys talked Senior Open and the women; kids and upcoming excursions. After a great sunset and an ending fireworks show, we reflected on our great night together. In typical fashion, we planned our next couples outing. Doobie Brothers at Stir Cove was the final decision. The invitation is open...who's in????

The pix the boys took

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 10, 2013: A Trip Home from Lincoln

A little morning stroll past Memorial Stadium
I was talking to Garrett on the phone Saturday night, telling him about my upcoming Sunday plans.

"I'm going for a bike ride in Lincoln in the morning," I told him.

"Did you run out of places to ride in Omaha?" was his response.

Hmmmmm. I didn't know the answer. Why were we riding in Lincoln? Perhaps I am too eager to join the fun without asking questions. Earlier in the day, I put out a post looking for someone to ride with on Sunday. I received an invitation to join two for a ride in Lincoln. It never crossed my mind to ask, why were we going to Lincoln? All I knew was that a van was involved to transport bikes.

As I pulled into my friend's driveway, I was anxious to get resolution to my question. Why Lincoln? Scott quickly apprised me of the situation. A rental car that Kerri had rented for a family vacation needed to be returned to Lincoln. So the idea was to drop off the rental van and ride our bikes home. Of course. A biking adventure. And I do love an adventure.

So that is what we did. Wheels removed. Bikes and bikers loaded. A van drive to Lincoln.

And then we got lost. With printed Google map instructions, Kerri on her phone asking for directions, and Scott trying to map it on his phone; we were still lost. I will take credit for saving the day with my I-Phone map app. It did leave a hesitancy on our navigation skills on our impending exit from Lincoln. But somehow we pulled it off.

I had never ridden my bike on Highway 6 before; certainly not from Lincoln to Omaha. I had driven it. Many times. I am quite sure there were trips home from Husker games that surpassed our 2 1/2 hour length of time bike ride back. Lesson learned: Bike beats car in a log jam of vehicles.

It was careless freedom riding with my fun comrades. We did act a bit like college kids; hooting and hollering past our beloved Nebraska stadium and showing excitement in being acknowledged with a train horn. We survived the forty-five miles on a highway shoulder filled with road kill and loose gravel.

But Kerri planned our route well with a wind out of the west and directly to our back. The rolling hills were a cinch to conquer. All in all...a sweet ride. And the company was pretty darn good too.

No problem

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 9, 2013: It's All in the Accessories

My new hat
I'm a believer in great accessories. A simple black dress can be made into twenty different outfits with the right add-on's. From patterned shoes to a belt with a pop; a new outfit is had. The add of a cardigan or tights can make a previous spring dress, a new fall number.

I bought a hat this weekend. It was inexpensive, but a fun addition to my wardrobe. A great add to a black dress with wedges. Jewelry? So many possibilities. Perhaps my new orange necklace and earring purchase shown below. For a girl who doesn't like to shop, I sure do like my closet.

And the orange necklace and earrings....even more options. With my green dress or hot pink chiffon shirt? The best "new" outfit is one with a throwback old piece. The classic high-waisted black pencil skirt is a staple in my closet. Like my mother, it doesn't age. With a pop of red jewelry or a leopard skin belt, the options seem endless.

I used to love the show "What Not to Wear". I always thought I would be a great add to the Stacy and Clinton combo, helping dress people on a budget. My favorite part of the show was the ending reveal which was a boost to the self-confidence of the "dressee".

No matter a person's size or body type, taking the time to look good and put your best foot forward always feels good. Confidence and a great smile are the most attractive physical features in my opinion. Then add to that, refurbishing an old favorite dress with new inexpensive accessories....pure bliss. That will get me smiling...

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8, 2013: Sunscreen

Mom & Dad
It's my mom's birthday tomorrow. In light of the fact that she doesn't like me eulogizing her, I decided to write a blog about sunscreen in her honor.

Everything sunscreen reminds me of my mom and why we should follow the advice of our parents. You see, my mom has beautiful skin. As you can see in the picture above, her soon-to-be 69 year old skin is that of a 30 year-old. In the seventies, she swore by sunscreen and floppy hats. We thought she was crazy. Obviously she was the smart one.

So I asked mom to locate a past "floppy hat" picture for me. After an exchange of e-mails and my broadening my request to a "picture of her when I was a kid", I received not only great pictures, But in Mary Wagner fashion, I got awesome narrative descriptions for the pictures sent.

This is where I stopped. No blog is necessary. A picture is worth a thousand words, and regardless of the time lapsed; my mom will remember every word. I thought her response and photos were classic Mary. So I will leave it at that. Happy Birthday, Mom. you make me smile :).......

1.  Bicycle: 119 Harrison St; same bicycle as in the photo with Gwen, you & your brothers & Gpa Gib watering the shrubbery.  I made all the clothes we are wearing in the picture. My shorts were light blue chambray; top was a matching blue & white mini check with an appliqued flower done in "mod" style as it was called back in the day. A very large button was centered in the middle of the button. Because I really like the appliqued flower design, I used it for several outfits I sewed for you & me.

Note the window air conditioner on the south side of the house-It kept the dining room very comfortable but less so in the living room.  Not until years later did we have central air installed, and that only cooled the downstairs.  How did the three of you stand it in the summer  with no air upstairs?

2. 1971: The house was decorated in Mediterranean style with colors Harvest Gold & Avocado Green!  Doesn't my hair look fake?  It should - it was one of 2 wigs I owned-the other was a page boy style platinum blond.  The only outfit I made in the picture is the dress I'm wearing using a Vogue pattern-I loved that dress.

3.  August 10, 1975 at Denny & Becky's apartment in Omaha NE.  I don't remember who snapped the picture but we were on our way out the door to eat at restaurant. Was Denny in law school?  I think Becky was out of school & an RN at the time. I made the dress and used the same pattern for 2 other dresses.

4.  November 1977, 612 Harrison, Gib & Marie's house. The Wagner's had a gathering when Connie Stinton was in Iowa for a surprise visit.  (In on the surprise, Jim & I picked up Connie from the Sioux Falls airport and drove to Remsen.)  It was late afternoon & getting dark when we nonchalantly walked into the house to be greeted in the kitchen doorway by Marie exclaiming "Con!!!".  Much to Connie's delight it snowed in Remsen that weekend, .  We have film of Connie & Jay in a snowball fight.

5.  Sadly, I remember working on the dining room furniture very well because Steve Weinreich, on his motorbike or cycle, was run over by a bus in September.  (This project was started in late summer.)  Matt & Steve were friends as were Steve's mom, Jean & I.  The news of Steve's death took my breath away. 

If I could pick something I loved to do more than anything else, it would be working with wood...building, refinishing, whatever.  Together Mark & I demolished the upstairs hall closet in Remsen using mainly a sledge hammer & crowbar.  First we pounded on the plaster to dislodge it from the lathe & then pounded on the 2x4s to loosen them from the wall.  With plaster, lathe, nails, you name it flying everywhere (Now remember, Mark never wasted any time when he got started on something....get this over with!) it was off to the races.  The sizable pile of plaster & lathe had to be taken away with many trips up and down the stairs.  Hard work and a great workout! 

Then there was the indoor/outdoor carpeting that I installed on the stairs to the 2nd floor....NEVER again!!!!!!!  The glue...nasty stuff; the carpeting almost as stiff as a board; the carpet knife--VERY sharp;  knees-VERY sore. 

And now you know the rest of the story.  :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 7, 2013: Are You Ready for the Summer?

Brendon and Grant outside their cabin home for the week
"Are you ready for the good times? Are you ready for the birds and bees, the apple trees, and a whole lot of fooling around..."

It's Meatballs time. Summer camp has begun. Grant is the first of the Lane boys to attend sleep-over-all-week summer camp. Personally, I'm jealous.

Laurie and I drove the boys to Rivercrest Camp in Fremont today. Brendon went last year and enthusiastically convinced Grant into join him this year. They have been talking about it for days with great anticipation.

What I have gathered is that camp includes little sleep and lots of fun. There is a pool, a river, paint ball guns, air boats, a snack shack, cafeteria style food and activities galore. And although in different cabins, there are girls. Hmmmm.

Last year Brendon was introduced to coffee and per his mother, slept for two days straight after returning home. Bags were packed and included stamps and envelopes for letters home and a Bible for daily mass. Left at home were the un-allowed cell phones. No contact with the outside world for five days. A good thing.

As we walked the campgrounds, I felt a bit of envy for this week long retreat. Although nestled in the rustic woods, the accommodations are anything but rustic.The cabins are cozy and the staff, young and friendly. Food is prepared and served in an air conditioned hall. The pool has a diving board and the snack shack filled with every sugary goodie imaginable.

They may not get a lot of "roughing it", but I am hopeful they will have good times and a whole lot of fooling around. I can't wait to hear all about it on Friday.

Bunk buddies