Category Archives: Life

The Firsts and the Lasts: A Mom’s Perspective

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My son is graduating from high school in a few weeks.  This isn’t my first rodeo as my oldest daughter graduated from high school five years ago and is, in fact, graduating from college next week.  However, for some reason, this high school graduation of my son is hitting me harder than the graduation of my daughter. I’m constantly on the verge of tears.  I’m not usually a “crier,” and I’m not liking it one bit.

I’ve decided that it is because no one tells you about the “lasts.”  When you become a parent, you are all consumed with the “firsts.”  The first smile (is it true happiness or just gas?).  The first time your wee one sleeps through the night (Hallelujah and praise the Lord!).  The first time they roll over, eat solid food, cut the first tooth, say their first word, take their first step, enjoy the first birthday cake, make their first friend, attend their first day of school.  The list goes on and on.

Jack first day of Kind. edit

First Day of Kindergarten

This year has been spent documenting my son’s senior year of high school.  There have been lots of lasts in this year. The last first day of school while in high school.  The last homecoming.  The last basketball game. The last prom. The last track meet.

I went into a sort of depression during mid-basketball season because my son injured his toe and missed several games. I was out of sorts and grumpy. I went to one home basketball game while he had to sit on the bench because of his injury. While I was proud of him for energetically cheering on his teammates, I couldn’t stand not watching him play and didn’t attend another game until he was able to be back on the court.  This was his LAST YEAR of playing high school basketball and I was being cheated out of watching him play his game.

But another side of me knows that this is what kids are meant to do–grow up. They are meant to venture out in the world, find their niche and passion, and hopefully (at least from this mother’s heart) marry the love of their life and make me a doting grandma in several (and I do mean SEVERAL) years down the line. While we are experiencing a lot of “lasts” presently, we still can look forward to many more “firsts.”

So as I experience a mixture of happiness, pride, sadness and melancholy during this graduation season, I know my son is doing exactly what he is meant to do and that brings me joy–tears, too, but mostly joy.  Someone will probably need to remind me of this joy when our youngest child graduates in two years. Ah, the circle of life.

jack kissing mom

Prom 2015

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Just a Couple of Turkeys

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Our town has a couple of turkeys.  I know you’re thinking, “My town has MORE than a couple of turkeys!”  But, no really, my small town has a couple of real living and breathing turkeys that have decided to make our town their home, and our townspeople have adopted them as our unofficial mascots. Ironically, the turkeys appeared in town a short time before Thanksgiving.  Whether they thought their chances of becoming Thanksgiving dinner were less here in town since it’s illegal to fire a firearm within city limits, we may never know.  But I do know I was very surprised when I first saw them the day before Thanksgiving. In the midst of Thanksgiving preparations, I decided to go for a run so that I could create a calorie-deficit so my pie-eating could be guilt-free the next day.  As I wound my way through town on my regular running route, imagine my surprise when I came upon these two birds: turkeys while running They really weren’t too concerned that this strange human being who was breathing heavily and sweating bullets was taking photos of them.  They just nonchalantly crossed from one side of the street to the other, gobbling as they sauntered away. Of course I, knowing that tomorrow was Thanksgiving and what most people were going to dine on for their holiday dinner, wanted to yell at them, “Run for it!” Quickly I learned that these birds had been hanging around our town for several days.  Soon they were being spotted from one side of our fair city to the other. turkeys stopping traffic

Stopping traffic

turkeys by pizza hut

Heading to Pizza Hut for lunch

Turkeys by city building

Paying their water bill at the city building

turkeys peeking in school

Peeking in the windows of the elementary school

turkeys by train

Waiting on the trains just like the rest of us common folk

One night a few weeks ago, my husband was outside and quickly came inside stating that “something” was in the trees across the street from our house.  That “something” was our two resident turkeys who decided the trees were a good place to roost for the night.

turkey collage

How the turkeys got up in the trees is a mystery. They returned the next evening to roost again.  I stood in my driveway for several minutes as they strutted around the bottom of the tree and flapped their wings.  However, they didn’t get up in the tree until after I went in the house and wasn’t watching them, of course.  Apparently the magic of tree roosting is an Ancient Turkey Secret.  They could show me but then they’d have to kill me. A few days before Christmas, the turkeys wandered through my yard. I think they had heard that I had already bought ham for our Christmas dinner so so they felt confident that their chances of being “invited to Christmas dinner” were pretty slim. turkeys in my ditch Our turkeys even have their own Facebook page and currently have over 300 followers.  They also have been featured on one of the local news stations. These fowls are the most popular thing to hit our town of 1600 residents since, well, perhaps ever? A couple of days after Christmas, I was headed out of town and spotted the turkeys over by the arboretum which is one of our town’s claims to fame (besides the turkeys, of course).  They were counting their blessings that both Thanksgiving and Christmas had passed and they were still in possession of all of their feathers. turkeys by arb I don’t know how long the turkeys will call our town home. If they ever come to a tragic end, I do know that will cause sadness and grief for their fans.  But in the meantime, we will continue to enjoy the antics of our fine-feathered friends.

A Trio of Firsts: Pro Basketball, Sub-30 5K, and Rick Springfield

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October was a month of firsts for me.

1.  I attended my first pro basketball game.  Basketball is one of my favorite sports–I played it when I was young (even though my kids don’t believe me) and currently enjoy watching my son play high school basketball.  Even though I’m not a big fan of watching sports on TV, you had better not interfere with me watching the KU Jayhawks or the WSU Shockers play ball if their games are televised.  You would be facing the wrath of the Caffeinated Ginger and that wouldn’t be pretty.

However, I have to admit I was extremely unimpressed with my first pro basketball game.  The Oklahoma City Thunder came to town to play the Toronto Raptors.  The Thunder was missing a few of their key players because of injuries, including Kevin Durant, so after being in the lead in the first quarter, the rest of the game definitely belonged to the Raptors.

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Besides our “home” team being blown out of the water, the basketball game was, well, boring. It lacked the atmosphere and enthusiasm that I’ve experienced at college basketball games. Not only that, but HOW much money are these basketball players paid?  To MISS their free throws? Seriously…

I’ll just stick to high school and college basketball, thank you.  The game didn’t keep our attention, so my youngest daughter and I had to take pictures such as this to keep us entertained, and no one wants anymore of these!

abby and marti2.  I ran my first sub 30-minute 5K!  Woot!  Woot!  I’ve been chasing that elusive time for a couple of months so I was so pumped to prove to myself that I could rise to the challenge.  This 5K race, which benefited a local food bank, was held in a beautiful park that is surrounded by a creek.  The course led us around the park as well as on top of an adjacent dike.  It was a gorgeous fall day–sunny, cool, with very little wind.  Perfect running conditions.  When I sprinted to the finish line and saw my time, it was cause for celebration!

winfield results

As an added bonus, the race t-shirt had a picture of a running peanut.  You know you want one.

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3.  I spoke to Rick Springfield.  No, not in my dreams–live and in person!  And he spoke back!   I have been a fan of Rick Springfield ever since I was a young teenager. I am a little bit sheepish to admit that I have seen him in concert five times and enjoyed every minute.

A friend of mine had procured two tickets to see Rick Springfield’s Stripped Down show at a casino in Oklahoma.  The casino was celebrating their 30th anniversary and brought in Rick to do a free show for their VIP members.  My friend ended up not being able to go, so knowing I was a huge Rick fan, she offered me the tickets. And who was I to hurt her feelings by saying no?

I took my best friend who also shares a love for Rick.  The show was held in the casino’s bingo hall. We got fourth row center seats—the first three rows were reserved for VIPs. (How a person gets to be a VIP VIP, I don’t know…) We were pretty much the youngest people in the crowd–by FAR. I now consider myself very lucky that I can walk without a walker or cane, can breathe without an oxygen bottle, and also still retain all of my natural teeth.  I’m also pretty sure that most of the crowd had no idea who Rick Springfield was, however they got free tickets so by golly they were going to go anyway.

The show was great–he sang and also told stories about his life and the stories behind his songs. He has a great sense of humor and seemed to enjoy entertaining the crowd.

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THIS IS THE BEST PART–After the show he came back on stage for a question/answer session. I got to directly ask him a question and he directly answered back to me and LOOKED AT ME! Rick LOOKED at me and TALKED to me! Swoon! Swoon!

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My life is now complete.

Things I’ve been doing besides writing on my blog

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Please forgive me readers.  It has been two weeks since I have posted a blog.

You can’t fool me.  I know you missed me.

So what have I been doing besides writing?

1.  Watching those Kansas City Royals inch their way up to the Crown.  I’m not a big “watching sports on TV” fan (except when it comes to college basketball), but those Royals have got it goin’ on!  And they are a class act.  Read up!

KC royals good guys

2. Taking my son clothes shopping.  My son is a senior in high school this year and will be getting his senior pictures taken next weekend.  We went shopping on Saturday for the perfect photo shoot wardrobe. For hours. This boy is more picky than my two daughters ever pretended to be.  Seriously. We did finally buy a few clothing items. Were they what I would have picked out for him?  No, but by that time I did not care. However, he will look great because, well, he is my son and he did get that haircut I kind of badgered him about.  Love that boy.

3.  Running. Then limping.  Running.  Then limping.  This darn plantar fasciitis is a pain–literally and figuratively.  I ran a 5K race a couple of years ago in crappy shoes without training and have been paying for it ever since.   I know a visit to a podiatrist is probably the answer, but I’m afraid of what he’ll tell me.

“Quit running.”

” Wear these extremely expensive orthotics which will only work in ugly shoes.”

ugly shoes

I guess I’ll continue running.  And limping.  For a while, at least.

4. Trying recipes that conceivably have no chance of working.  A muffin recipe has been circulating around Facebook and Pinterest for a couple of months. The recipe only calls for a dry cake mix and a can of pumpkin.

Nope.  Nothing else.  That is it.

There’s no way this will work, I thought to myself.  But I was having a major sugar craving and all I had in the house was a can of pumpkin and a spice cake mix.  So I thought to myself, “What the heck?  Why not try out this impossibly easy recipe?  If it doesn’t turn out, at least Bruno will eat them.”

So, armed with my ingredients,

pumpkin muffins 1

I mixed the two together, baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and voila! Muffins!

pumpkin muffins2

And, dear readers, they are GOOD!  Moist! Delectable! They most definitely deserve the credit they are receiving on Facebook and Pinterest.

Sources have told me that if you add mini chocolate chips to the batter, the muffins are even BETTER!  (I believe them because everything is better with chocolate, right?)  Swoon!

5.  Last but not least, I’ve been perusing the newspaper for typographical errors.  Fortunately for me (unfortunately for the newspaper), our nearest big city newspaper apparently doesn’t hire proofreaders so typos are plentiful.

This particular newspaper article was an inspiring story about an 87-year-old woman who was training to race walk in a half-marathon.  I want you to pay particular attention to what she credits her success:

wichita eagle typos

I know that exercising can sometimes seem like an exorcism, but this is a little extreme, no?

 

So there you have it–the things that take up my time when not providing fodder for my blog.

What have you been up to lately?  Watching baseball? Shopping with a teenager? Trying to ignore aches and pain?

 

 

 

 

 

The State Fair: Pigs, Pronto Pups, and Parking Lots

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A few weeks ago we went to the Kansas State Fair.  The fair is something we only go to every 10 years or so and we had “just” been there about four years ago, but I had bought the youngest daughter tickets to go see Hunter Hayes in concert.

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It was a beautiful day in the Land of Ahs.  Abundant sunshine with temperatures in the 70s.  Usually when we attend the fair, it’s either raining or 100 degrees, so this was definitely a change for the better.

Mr. Caffeinated Ginger dropped me off at the front gate so I could procure our tickets while he, daughter, and daughter’s friend drove off to find a parking spot.

I picked up the tickets at the will-call window and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, about 30 minutes later, they appeared.  Apparently they had to park literally a MILE away.  The next time we come to the fair I bet I’ll be the one parking the car and he will be the one dropped off to the get the tickets.

We entered the fair and after handing out cash to the teenager, we were quickly abandoned by our daughter and her friend.  Apparently they didn’t think it would fun to hang out with the parents.  Pshaw.  Whatever.

One of the main reasons to attend the fair is the food.  None of it is actually good for you, but that all part of the fun, right?

First off, was my personal favorite–The Pronto Pup.

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For those of you naysayers who are thinking “That’s just a corn dog.” Nope.  It’s bigger and better.  It’s like a new and improved version of the corn dog. And for $3.50, it’s one of the more economical grease-filled delicacies you can purchase.

We then checked out the vegetables and fruits on the display.  Some of them even came with hair.

veggie collage

We missed out on seeing the butter sculpture because there was a huge crowd jostling for viewing positions.  I wanted to see this year’s monstrosity, but valued my life even more.  So sorry, you’ll just have to use your imagination on that one.

The baby animals exhibit is one of my favorites. I tried to smuggle a baby goat out in my backpack, but Mr. CF made me put it back.

baby animals collage

The rest of our afternoon was spent traipsing through the RV exhibits (I wanted to take a nap on one of the beds, but apparently that is a no-no), dodging older people on their scooters, trying to find the Dillons exhibit with free ice cream (they were out, gosh durn it), and me really wishing I had worn better shoes as I had forgotten that going to the fair means walking approximately 723.2 miles.

But a huge highlight, if not THE highlight of my day, was the pig races.  You haven’t lived if you haven’t seen the pig races at the fair.  Pigs such as Lindsay Loham and Michael Mahoganey race around a small track in order to win the prize–an Oreo!  You would be simply amazed at the masses of people these pig races attract.  I bet you can’t see such fine entertainment like this in Las Vegas or New York City.

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It was finally time for a meet-up with daughter and friend to give them the concert tickets.  Once that was accomplished and an after-concert meeting place was established, Mr. CF and I headed for a rumored margarita garden which, of course, was at the opposite end of the fairgrounds from where we stood.  However, our efforts were rewarded when we found that garden to be a thing of reality and not just fantasy.

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After enjoying our refreshing drinks, we went to a show by a comic/hypnotist.  He was funny, but it felt like deja’ vu so I’m pretty sure we’d seen him before on one of our every-ten-year trips to the fair.

We then rode the Sky Ride to the other side of the fairgrounds to meet up with the teenagers. Being scared of heights, I’m not sure why I thought riding this would be fun.  But I made it through without tossing my cookies or losing my flip flops.

By the grandstand we enjoyed everyone’s favorite fair food–the funnel cake.

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The lights and sounds of the midway are always more alluring at night.

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The concert soon ended and we were able to meet up with our daughter and her friend fairly easily.  As they extolled the virtues of Hunter Hayes, they also expressed that they were starving because they hadn’t eaten all day.  (Seriously?? How do you go to a fair and not eat??  Isn’t that the whole point??)  So we traipsed the mile through the darkened parking lot to find our vehicle.

We moseyed our way to the nearest Taco Bell, whose dining room conveniently closed five minutes before our arrival. So we went through the drive-through and proceeded to attempt to eat tacos as we drove home.  Good times, people, good times.

It was a fun day, but my feet and legs wanted to make sure that I put on the calendar that 2024 will be the next Year of the Fair.  They can’t handle another one until then.

Remembering the Day the World Stopped Turning

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All of us who are old enough to remember know exactly where we were when we first heard about what was happening in New York City on September 11, 2001.

I was a stay-at-home mom at the time.  Only my oldest daughter was in school full-time.  My son was enrolled in afternoon preschool and my youngest daughter was only two years old.

We were in the midst of our usual weekday morning routine.  The routine went something like this:  The kids would make messes; I would clean them up. Repeat.

The TV was on, but not on network TV.  I’m pretty sure it was set on Nick Jr. and we were watching Blue’s Clues as it was a favorite.  Life was normal.

Until my husband called from his workplace.

He told me to turn the TV to a network channel because an airplane had just hit one of the World Trade Center towers in New York.  My first thought was, how could a plane mistakenly fly into downtown New York City and hit a building?  I assumed it was a mechanical error or the pilot had a medical emergency.

I turned the channel.  Just moments after I started watching, the second plane hit the second tower.  My mind was in a state of confusion.  One plane hitting a building could be an accident.  But two?? My confusion and disbelief continued as Flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania. It turned to horror as I watched people jumping from the skyscrapers and witnessed the Twin Towers falling to the ground.

My 4-year-old son knew something was wrong, even though I tried to keep most of this tragedy away from my young kids’ eyes.  His first worry was that his Uncle Bob (my oldest brother) was okay.  My son knew that rescue workers were in danger as they tried to help victims.  My brother was a police officer in California, not New York City, but it still made an impression on my young son’s mind.

As the facts emerged and it became apparent that this was a terrorist attack on our country and its land, it was the first time I’d really ever been afraid for my kids and their future.  What kind of life was ahead for them if these type of incidents became life as usual?

As for the terrorists, what kind of god do they serve that killing thousands of innocent people as well as themselves is something to be honored and desired?

I think one of the images I remember the most was the next morning when the news stations were showing the emergency rooms of the New York City hospitals.  I had expected to see the emergency rooms bustling with activity as medical personnel attended to the injured people’s needs. However, the emergency rooms were practically empty because there were very few survivors. Unfathomable.

Days and weeks after the terrorist attack, stories kept emerging about people who called their loved ones from the Twin Towers to say good-bye after the towers were hit because they knew their chances of survival were slim. People–both emergency personnel and civilians–who lost their own lives trying to help others.  People who survived but will be forever scarred from the experience.

To these people I want to say, “I remember.” I may live hundreds of miles and several states away.  I may not personally know anyone who experienced a loss of a loved one on the day.  But I remember.

never forget

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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We’ve all heard that saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Every picture also has a background story and knowing the story helps put the picture into perspective.

A prime example is this picture of my older brothers and me when we were young:

Marti Bob Ernie flower bed 1968

My grandmother took this picture at my grandparents’ farm.  I think her motive was to capture her adorable grandchildren and her beautiful spring tulips all in one picture.

However, if you look at the picture more closely, you would notice this:

Marti Bob Ernie flower bed 1968 crop

My face.  Which isn’t very happy.  In fact, I would label that a definite pouty face, complete with stuck out bottom lip.

Why was the young Caffeinated Ginger so displeased?  Well, look no more further than my feet:

Marti Bob Ernie Flower Bed bread bags

Those, my friends, are plastic bread bags on my feet.  I remember very distinctly that there had been a recent rain and the ground was rather wet and a little muddy.  I don’t recall what kind of shoes I had on that day, but I do know that Grandma was concerned about my shoes being ruined, so her solution was to place empty bread bags on my feet.

Even at three or four years old, I knew that this footwear wasn’t going to make for a good fashion statement.

Adding insult to injury, she didn’t make my brothers wear bread bags on their feet–just me. Sometimes it really stinks being the youngest child.

Grandma probably tried to sweet talk and cajole me into smiling for the picture, but being a stubborn ginger whose fashion sense had been insulted, I was not going for it.  Nope, no way. I’m sure she was quite thrilled when she received her developed pictures and saw this masterpiece.  Sorry, Grandma.

Of course, my own children have paid me back for my sins by not always cooperating for pictures either. That’s okay.  The time of retribution will be upon them when they become parents.  ‘Tis the circle of life.