Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 25, 2014: Date Night and Stuff


Tonight was date night. A very nice reprieve. And as always, there's a lot of stuff going on.

Dogs to walk. Kids to raise. Employees to lead. Buildings to build. Flowers to water.

Stuff. Lots of stuff.

There are trainers by day and long-time friends by morning. New friends sprinkled throughout. Runs in the morning. Gym dates when we can work them in. And work to get done. All the time.

Kids with stuff. Kids getting older. Parents getting older.

Places to see. Pictures not yet taken. Full calendars, but yards and animals that still need tending.

With many invitations for stuff full of other things and other people, tonight stayed true to us with Thursday night date night.

Margaritas. Chips. Smiles. Sneezes. World problem solving and just plain trying to figure out our collective seven kids. Texts from the road and the football field. School updates and planned events for the weekend. Time never stands still. Constant movement.

Work together. Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Weekends never alone. Can't even imagine how we lived four years of only every other weekend together. Apart. Separate lives. Except for date night and together weekends.

Forever friends and life partners; whether together or apart. We used to talk through our days and now we live them together. The rawness of this reality isn't always easy, but always better together.

Date night and stuff. The new normal.

I can't imagine it any other way.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 20, 2014: On a Skunk and a Prayer

Larry's in town. And we're having a good time. He started with a flight into Denver last Friday and has been tagging along our busy schedules ever since. Last night was a fundraiser in Omaha and then late-night sushi. Today is Husker football and Cabela's. Tomorrow is our last day of the Larry tour, so I believe a grill out is in order.

For those who haven't met Larry, he's Garrett's dad. He and I have had a special bond from day one. We first met five years ago in Garrett's Denver kitchen. I had flown in to visit while Larry was doing the same. Garrett chose to surprise his dad with my later entry.

At that point in Garrett and my early relationship, Larry knew of me, but knew little about me. He later said what he knew was "my son had stars in his eyes when he met you". In Garrett's defense, my mom later independently countered with "she fell fast. I never saw her fall for someone like that".

So as Garrett and I were falling fast with stars in our eyes, Larry walked into my life.

Fresh off an airplane, I was alone in the kitchen. Dressed in a favorite teal polka-dotted dress and black boots, my hair was still curled and make-up intake. Larry walked in the door expecting Garrett, but instead saw me.

Taken aback, he expressed his famous first words as we met for the first time.

"Good Lord, do you have a mother?"

Meet Larry Brucker. My future father-in-law. I liked him instantly.

Through the course of that first weekend together, we laughed and shared life. He told me his heartfelt story of raising Garrett by himself and then later stories of re-marriage and raising a teenage Garrett. He and I had commonalities in having fathers who were barbers and growing up in a small town.

My first gift from Larry arrived in a hand-posted package at my work. This was about six months after our first kitchen encounter. It was a skunk skin. He had shot it and skinned it himself. After years in storage, he thought it needed a new home with me. This followed my telling him that the skunk was my power animal.

The skunk skin remains on my bedroom dresser. After receipt of this thoughtful gift, I liked Larry even more. We now coin each other "partners in crime". Garrett shakes his head as he is often the third man out during our many outings together. But he's okay with that. Overall, we are Team Brucker. All for one and one for all.

This morning the three of us are sitting at the kitchen table with steaming coffee mugs and Pandora playing softly in the background. Garrett and I are typing away on our computers while Larry is messing with his new phone. Collectively we are watching squirrels run in the backyard while Cookie snores on Garrett's lap and Grant snoozes in the basement.

The quiet of morning before a busy day is welcomed by all of us. We laugh over silly things. We talk out loud as we mindlessly mind our gadgets. And we just enjoy our coffee and light conversation. A darn good morning. Larry Brucker, you can stay at our house any time.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 13, 2014: My Birthday

Some B-day flowers and balloons for good measure :)
"You say it's your birthday. It's my birthday too, yeah...."

My birthday is was technically yesterday. Birthday Weekend. And I love having my birthday. I love everything about.

I'm grateful for my parents birthing me mid-September. A glorious time to celebrate being born. My memories are filled with sunny, but cooling, transitional days from summer into fall.

As an adult, this annual celebration has most times been in the enjoyment of the outdoors with much anticipated first-of-fall weather. Last year's milestone was exceptional as I watched my son collect a football win under an orange moon sky. Friends gathered before and after this high school event as I donned my gift of a pink tiara.

Birthdays of days past have included Husker football tailgates and wine with friends on the restaurant patios. A 40th b-day golf celebration was filled with a dozen friends on an otherwise tranquil Thursday night. Many of my b-days have begun with birthday runs with my favorite gal pals at the crack of dawn under starry black skies. Our tradition is to finish with a celebratory coffee and homemade pumpkin bread. A great way to start a special day.

My 42nd birthday was in Chicago, running a half-marathon with the Dream Team with included my 20-something twin cousins, Angelina and Stefano. 45th was a rainy b-day year with Garrett flying in from Denver, just to spend my day together. We enjoyed a movie marathon at Film Streams and a surprise dinner with friends.

As a child, I had the ideal birth date. I was one of the first birthdays of the school year. First to adorn a birthday crown and first go through the coveted human spanking machine. Parties were an easy skip to my house, just blocks from our grade school, with outdoor games of pin-the-tale on the donkey and Red Rover. Sleep overs were a must with opened screened windows filled with the noise of birds chirping over little girl giggles.

Entering my young adulthood adventure as a college student, my birthday coincided with new-found friendships. Connections with fresh faces with hometowns outside my own town of Remsen, I invited several of of my new girlfriends to travel the short nine mile drive from our new college home to my childhood home.

My parents warmly treated us with my traditional birthday meal of choice, spaghetti, and a candle-filled banana bread as my birthday cake of choice. My mom played the piano as my dad happily served my b-day feast to my new girlfriends. It was a birthday to remember. I remember it like yesterday.

That was 29 years ago; my 18th birthday. The crew of gals that celebrated with me in Remsen that night are still my friends. Robbie is a constant fixture in my life. The many others are just a FaceBook click away as we stay caught up via posts and messages. Thank-you to social media for allowing us all to stay connected over many miles and states so many years later. It was a magical time to be 18.

Now I am 47. And I LIKE it. Yes, I do. Garrett was giving me a hard time about getting old (note that he is two years older than me...feel free to do the math). I quickly reminded him that it is better than the alternative. Not getting older.

So, yet again, it was a glorious birthday weekend. I enjoyed family, friends, a pumpkin spice latte, gorgeous downtime in Denver, a plethora of cards/e-mails/texts/FB messages, a beautiful long bike ride through the foothills and then the grand finale....watching a Broncos win at Mile High Stadium with some of my favorite people.

Life is good. Thanks to everyone for your kind words and good wishes. I will take them all to heart as I do my best to make year #47 exceptional :)

A little added balloon treat on our bike ride this morning

A view from our afternoon

Closing of Birthday Weekend (blogging from the backyard)

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014: The Unpublished Stories

Summer of 2008 ~ before the pool was drained
Today as we drove home from the kids' various sporting events, Jake noticed that the neighborhood pool had a vacant parking lot. He asked if it was closed or opened, as he noticed there was water still in the pool.

"They probably haven't drained the pool yet" was Garrett's answer.

Although this answer was full of father logic and small talk; unknowing to the others in the car, it struck a nerve with me.

A similar comment was made to me six years ago at the close of summer that year. The timing was sometime around Labor Day as this typically corresponds with annual pool draining.

"They've got to have that damn pool drained by now" was the comment.

And I'll never forget it.

My kind counselor had tried using typical professional jargon in attempts to convince me to move on during that fateful summer. I wasn't following his good advice. In exasperation, he made this side comment.

His comment got my attention. At that moment I realized that all my pool jabbering was nonsensical talk. A circular reference. It was time to move on. Drain the pool.

As I thought more about these stories that I repeated to my counselor that summer so long ago, I laughed to myself. These pool stories I told to him were actually pretty funny now, in retrospect. But they are stories that fall in the category of un-bloggable. The ones that stay in constant draft mode, never to be published and shared.

Going through my divorce, a friend once encouraged me to write everything down. He thought putting thought to paper might help settle my brain as it was apparently in overdrive. The reality was that I probably told him the same stories over and over. Writing gave him a necessary break, similar to the drained pool to my counselor.

So I wrote. And I did it the good-old-fashioned way. I had a yellow legal pad that was in the top draw of my bed stand. I would write and write as my mind would race with stories and thoughts.

As I slowly arose from the fog of divorce, the crazy stories that raced in my mind became less frequent. I found myself forgetting about the yellow writing tablet that sat by my bed. Time really does heal all wounds.

Two years post-divorce, I received a call from my attorney. He described to me the expansive file he had from my long-finalized divorce. Was there any reason to hold on to the files? With my approval, they would be destroyed. My answer needed no reflection.

"Please get rid of them. No need for anyone to see those again."

And then I promptly went home and dug out the forgotten worn yellow notebooks next to my bed stand. Page by page, I destroyed every written work. I couldn't imagine wanting to relive these times again. I didn't read a word as I took pleasure in ripping the pages into tiny pieces. In my mind there was a make-believe fire and I was basking in the burning.

Over the last six years, I have moved on from a yellow legal pad to an Internet blog for my writing outlet. The blog is for positive sharing of experiences and whimsical thoughts. My rule of thumb for sharing is that the purpose of the story has to have a motive outside of myself. Definitely not to scorn others for perceived injustices or to simply make me feel better.

Following the advice of my friend from many years back, I have at times reverted to writing down negative feelings and experiences when my brain is spinning. My motive? Typically just to sort out my thoughts and help me feel better. So they remain in the draft folder.

I have used shocking titles like "Betrayal", "Dear Diversion Officer,..." and "Chronicles of a Mad Ex-Wife", but the publish button is never pushed. They just sit in draft.

I once told Garrett that he had my approval to print these scandalous drafted blog stories after my demise (assuming it would be before him). Later, after I thought through this idea further, I knew it was a bad one. What was my motive in wanting to do this? Revenge or humiliation of others sure didn't feel good. These are definitely not the reasons I share my stories with others.

So today probably is a good day to drain the pool. The drafts are going to deleted. I will picture the fire as I push the delete button without regret. Thanks for the reminder, Jake.