Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Long Sorrowful Sighs...

I was reading some old posts I had written around this time last year and thinking about what a difference a year makes.  A year ago, I was in Florida visiting my brother in law because he didn't sound good on the phone and seemed to be in pain.  He had been fighting cancer and winning.  Me, thinking I am the expert on pain control, decided I needed to fly down and as my husband makes fun of me for saying, "lay my eyes on him."  He looked okay, was more handsome than I had seen him in the 35 years I had known him but he was in pain.  We talked and hung out and we changed pain medication around and when I was leaving on that following Sunday, I was so glad that I had gone to see him.

Then, a week later, he fell apart.  He took a turn for the worse and I found myself flying down on a Sunday to help my sister take him home.  It was by far, one of the most difficult things I have done in my life.  It was also, next my love for my family, the thing I am most proud of in my life to this day.

I was on the other side.  I wasn't the hospice nurse that kept it together no matter what to support the family.  I wasn't the focus of the gratitude of the family.  I was Aunt Terry taking care of my brother in law who I met when I was 11 and knew that whole time. We had our disagreements, our times of anger and times when I wanted to punch him in the face...honestly...but he was one of those people in life that leave a large gap that cannot be filled easily, if at all.

If you want to catch up on last February and give you things to think about...start on the Feb 2012 posts and read what you can stand...made me cry and miss him even more.

Now, it's almost a full year later and I still wish he was here.  I feel like I need to go back to Florida to be with my sister and to breath deeply and support my sister...but I also feel like I need to leave her alone.  She's a strong one, my sister and she is grieving her way and I wouldn't expect anything less.  The problem is, I am too, and I don't think I am half as strong as her.

I didn't like the month of February much...it was the month that I lost my mother and learned about losing someone that you love so much but have regrets.  Now, on Valentines day last year, my brother in law left us...no regrets this time but pure sadness because I miss the sound of his voice.  Think about how my sister and my nieces feel.

I get it...the sorrow and pain of losing a loved one...losing a love of your life, a child that you thought you could never live without, a mother who I find myself emulating, or a father who was the apple of my eye...It is like torture that you get very used to and then certain times, it starts all over again.

I can say that I think of all of them every day and each thought doesn't bring the "stab of the knife in the heart" back.  But there are times when the sorrow is overwhelming...when my Howie was born and my mother was gone, or when my son and daughter graduated from high school and I wished my parents were there to see it and now, when I hear about Valentines day coming up and remembering how last year went, losing Uncle Pete.

I guess a life well lived is filled with love...people loving you and you loving them...

That love comes with pain, huh?  But what is the alternative?  Being a loner and not loving the people around you because they may die?  I think we can count on dying...all of us.  I don't know when or how or why...if its before our time or after our time...we just don't know.  So, again, what is the alternative?  To love...deeply, fully and hope for the best.  To be there through the good, the bad and the ugly.  Then, when they are gone, you miss them and the pain is unbearable but you have the comfort that you did everything you could to let them know you loved them....and no regrets.

So to my brother in law, Uncle Pete...we miss you so much.  We miss your sassy attitude, your sense of humor, floating in the pool with you solving the worlds problems after a few drinks, pool volleyball, going out in the gulf in your boats, and your "famous meatloaf".  Mostly though, we miss you and your sense of humor.  I miss our talks on the phone and when we hung up...you would always say..."Carry on and be careful"

I'm sure you know but we're all trying....

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A condo in Keystone, 12 liters of soda, food for 10 teenage boys...50 dollars a piece, Being invited to hang in the terrain park...priceless.

I picked them up after school and we set out for the ski area.  The boys were busily talking about school, the teachers they like and dislike and the plans for the weekend.  I just drove.

I listened to the conversation in the back seat but honestly, I didn't hear that much because I am going deaf...I started thinking about what was gonna transpire with 9 teenage boys and a menopausal crabby old mom.  As we pulled up to the ski area, the level of excitement built and before I could put the car in park, they jumped out and started stripping in the parking lot.  All at once, there were teenage boys in their boxers, putting on long underwear and ski clothes everywhere.  Cars were trying to get by and as some of the boys were hopping with a shoe off, half dressed for skiing... I had to laugh.  I thought about getting the camera but I didn't move fast enough.  

They left me in a matter of moments, "We'll call you and you can meet us when they close the gondola" is all I heard from them as they faded away.  I headed to the condo.  It was a nice place and I thought about all the "mom points" I was racking up.  I put my stuff in and headed to the bar to meet a few mom's that skied all day and were having a drink.  I decided that while I didn't do a thing to earn a drink,  I ran over anyway and sat down with the girls...

Before I knew it, the boys were done night skiing. "Were done and we're starving" was the phone call. I put on the food and waited.  They arrived, took off their ski stuff, headed to the table and started to eat like a pack of starving wolverines.    

Then, as fast as they came in and scarfed down the food, they stood up, walked to the garbage can, threw away their plates...looked toward me and one after one said, "thanks Mrs. Ritter" and  walked upstairs to play pool, video games and hang out.  I fell asleep on the couch and moved to one of the bedrooms.  I heard the boys upstairs talking and the pool balls clanking but really they were pretty quiet.  I woke up around 11:30 and all the lights in the condo were off and boys were all in beds sleeping.

Morning came and I woke up, looked around and found all the boys asleep in beds, on the floor and where ever they fell.  All of a sudden, they came alive again and breakfast was being consumed, gear was being put on and they were getting ready to head out the door.   My son looked over and said, "Come on, Mom...get ready, the lift opens at 8" and while I was stunned, I quickly put on my ski pants, jacket, snowboard boots and headed out with the gang.  We walked to the lift, split into groups to ride up, and I was on a lift sitting between my two sons.

"That condo is really awesome, Mom, thanks for doing this" I heard through the helmet and baclava.  It felt like a dream...The lift was humming and the two boys were doing there usual bickering and I was in the middle of it.  The lift got to the top of the mountain and we got off.  I was putting my snowboard on, when again, I heard my older son talking to me, "We're gonna go to the terrain park before it gets crowded...you can come with us if you want or we'll meet you at the Montezuma lift."  Did he just invite this "48, feel like I'm 100" mother to hang out in the terrain park with the fellas...did he really?  Of course, I took the easy way out and met them at the lift after they did all their jumps and craziness.

My cell phone rang and Jim had just shown up.  We were going to ride our snowboards together and then I was going home in the evening to let the dogs in and take care of the home fires.  It was my turn.  Jim and I got on the lift and rode with the boys all morning...I was the last one to the lift or the last one to make it anywhere but I didn't care.  I was still included in the pack.  At lunchtime, I decided I was going back to the condo to eat lunch and chill for a few hours.  Jim went with me along with a few of the boys.  We all ate lunch and Jim and I sat on the couch...two hours later, we both woke up from dozing...me with my feet wedged under his rear end because I was cold and him laying across my hip and on my arm.  When we both came to, my arm was dead asleep and I couldn't lift it.  We laughed about how we fell asleep like a couple of old dogs snuggling into each other to stay warm...

We headed out to finish the day with a few more runs and then I was ready to go home...I headed back to the condo, cleaned up what I could and waited for the traffic to clear.  Then, I left.

I got into bed last night, remembering the day and trying to recover from the huge dose of testosterone that I had the pleasure of being around for 24 hours...and felt pretty happy...and lucky...and blessed.

The boys were good, they were polite, they looked me in the eye and talked to me...even included me when they really didn't have to.  I had the opportunity to understand who they are...how they interact with each other and how they have fun...and, if I wanted to, I was invited to the terrain park to do some sweet tricks with them if I had the nerve.   Too bad I didn't...

I'm not sure what this weekend really costs in dollars...but to Jim and I, it was priceless.  Teenage boys are not nearly as bad as the reputation they have and I lived to tell the truth!

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I sat in my nurse's meeting today, mind wandering all over the place.  The joke at work is that I can't sit through meetings...I just can't sit still.  I looked down at my blackberry and there was a text from a friend with little kids.  Not little teeny, but school age and busy.  The text read, "It must be nice to have your life back now that your kids are older".  I sat in the meeting and thought about that in between learning about Hospice documentation...

Tonight, Jim and I are sitting on the couch...me with my computer and him with his Soduku.  Howie went to youth group at church and won't be home until 9pm (at the latest, per my edict from on high.)  So Jim and I are alone, in the house, and it is silent except for the occasional body noise, the number put in the wrong box and "oh, that doesn't work"  and  the tapping of the computer.  

I sit here thinking, "so this is what I dreamed of when the kids were little, teeny and needed me?"  I can remember thinking that if I just had a minute of peace and quiet, if I just had time to go to the bathroom, if I just could finish a task set before me...I would be so happy. 

Tonight, as I sit here...I gotta tell you, I'm not happy.  I'm not sad actually, just sitting here thinking about all the good times, the busy times and how much time it takes to raise kids. 

When Christie (the Queen) was born, I never felt such amazing love and a sense of who I was.  It was a magical time, a change of priorities, a re-purposing.  I was a mother, not a 20 something trying to make money to buy the latest and best this and that.  It was life changing.  Slowly as I learned to mother, I understood my mother more and her ways and what she did for us and what I didn't appreciate.  That too changed a lot.  When Christie was 15 months old, I decided that what I was meant to do was raise children.  Christie was easy, quiet, and more enjoyable every day that I spent with her.  I talked Jim into another one...ha, ha.  He hoped it would take some time but it didn't.  Mac was born 26 months after Christie Lou and he was a handful.  He was a demanding baby and woke up crying every morning for 11 months.  I was worn out.  Finally, Howie came to us a little over two years after Mac.  Still can't figure that out but my mother passed away Feb 8th, 1996 and along came Howie on December 1st that same year.  That's when I went off the deep end and began to wish those little kids would grow up.  

Grow up they did...Christie did everything and more when she was little.  She played soccer, was a girl scout, swam, played an instrument and in high school, she ran cross country and marching band.  She was a busy girl and I made sure I didn't miss a thing.

The same with Mac...he played baseball, was a cub scout, tried soccer and basketball, played an instrument and in high school he also marched.  All the while, I was dragging Howie around to watch his siblings and when it was his turn, he got involved.

In our house, in the fall, we had dinner together at night but had no time on the weekends.  In the spring, we had dinner at a ball field watching baseball games and soccer games.  I had a calendar and a color for each kids activities so I could glance and know where and what I was doing after school.  I'm sure you get the picture.

Now, it's me and Jim and Howie.  Howie is my quiet boy who only says what he needs to and no more.  He can sit and do a puzzle for an hour without saying a word...he just doesn't take after me.

It is probably a good thing to have the quiet one as the last one home...he is getting us ready for the empty  nest.  

Dinner was ready and Jim called me to the kitchen table.  The table was set with a plate, fork and spoon.  He made refried beans and put out tortillas and cheese...one of my favorite quick meals.  I handed him a napkin but didn't say what I was thinking and we prayed before our dinner.  He began to tell me about all of his conference calls and what he did all day and I tried to pay attention...I really did.  My mind was drifting to other things and I was thinking, "what are we gonna do when all the kids are gone?"...and before I knew it, I blurted out that question.  He followed up with "what did we do before we had kids?" and to be totally honest, I can hardly remember.

You see, I loved my little kids, I loved my high school kids. I'm not gonna say it was all wine and roses...all though it was a lot of wine at times, but really, they were good times.    I loved doing all the "mom things", being the class mom, the one that drove everyone to the ball games, sitting in the stands and watching them play their horns or trying for a rebound or fielding a baseball.  I just loved it.  Because it was so hard to be everything to everyone, I knew it would never end.  I didn't even think Christie would finish high school when I drove her up the drive that first day and dropped her off.  

But she did and so did Mac and they are at college forging ahead in their lives.  They keep in touch and call a lot and I get to see them if I want.  It's just different, they have moved out and on.  They are becoming the independent young people that they were meant to be...and that's good.  You could say, they have "re-purposed" from kids at home to college kids.  As for Howie, I can see him pulling away, figuring out what he is going to do in a few years, feeling independent driving the car around and making plans with his friends...that's a step in the right direction.

As for me, I need to take my "mother" glasses off at times and put on my "wife" glasses more.  I need to remember why I married Jim and what we did do before we had kids.  I guess we camped and rode our mountain bikes and we worked a lot.  We remodeled a house and skied when there was snow...I wonder if we are too old for those things now.  

It's interesting to think that 24 years has gone by and almost 21 of them have been with kids...we had three years as a couple and 20 plus as parents...

Gotta figure this one out...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Drowning in resolutions...

Yesterday at work, the agency dietitian started a wellness group.  If we signed up, and I did, she had a folder with information about diet, exercise and water.  She had compiled a small amount of information on us and used it to make our wellness plans.  It was all so exciting, as it always is, when I decide to take another crack at losing some weight.  

I get excited and start making plans.  I always decide that I want to lose 5 pounds a week and it will take 8 weeks and I will be the size I was in high school(which I didn't think was a small enough size)  and I can stop all this diet nonsense and eat.  

She talked about how we are going to have to change everything about what we think about food and how we eat...like a remodel of a house down to the studs...she called it "the bones" and start over with new and different thoughts.  I kept thinking "great, now when is she going to weigh us and when she was going to give us the list of what to eat?"  She then said we can eat anything we want, that there should be no "off limit" foods...yeah, right.  We even have "accountability partners" to keep us honest.

She went on to explain that this is going to be a year long process and we are going to move slow...painfully slow... changing our patterns, our thoughts and how we eat.  When all was said and done, we were going to be able to control food and I thought ..."and not have food control us."

I sat and listened to the plan.  I thought about how I would show them, lose a bunch of weight fast and then move on.  The usual...

This morning I woke up ready to start this "diet" or should I say, wellness plan.  I sat at the table and thought, "I'll send my accountability partner an email and motivate her to get going" and I began to type my plan of the day.  It started with not eating much, if anything until dinner, going to the gym and I would have lost 5 pounds of water weight today.  I was on a roll...the usual, non-reachable roll.

I looked at the page after I typed it and heard the last words of the meeting yesterday, "Pick a big goal and then cut it into small, reachable goals"...wow, I never have done that before and how do you even do something like that?  Then her words echoed in my head again "I have a goal for all of you...drink water.  Look at the book and work up to what your body needs everyday.  That's it from me...water."

I looked up how much I need to drink and set a reachable goal.  100 ounces of water during the day.  Easier said than done but I decided that is what I was gonna do...drink water.  I would eat as I normally eat and not stress out too much about that but I will make sure I drink water.

As the day went on I realized that I hadn't had an ounce of water.  I headed to the Safeway to find the perfect vehicle to drink out of.  I found a 50 ounce bottle and bought it.  I drank half of it quickly and headed to my last patient's house.  By the time I arrived, I could hardly breath because I had to use the bathroom.  I then realized that I generally don't drink at all during the day so I don't have to stop and use the bathroom...and this is exactly why.  I guess I'm gonna have to work on some bladder training, huh?

On the way home, I polished the rest of the 50 ounces and ran into the house before I wet my pants. It didn't deter me from my goal...I was home and had my own potty.  I refilled the bottle and drank it  while I made dinner.  I did it...I drank 100 ounces of water today.  I lost count about how many times I had to use the bathroom but I figure that will have to get better as I get used to drinking that much. 

The interesting thing about all this water...I didn't eat very much.  I mean, I ate enough, but I eat a lot when I am watching what I eat and even more when I'm not.  I learned a lesson today.  

Listen, I don't even like water.  I like chocolate milk, soda and wine...and if we are at a brewery, I love me some beer.  I never drink water.  I plan on keeping this 100 ounce water goal every day.  I want to see if it makes any difference...

A big goal that isn't reachable may be reachable if I break it down into small goals...like drinking 100 ounces of water.  I can do it.

Let's just hope I don't drown...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Make this place your home...

Home.  My house.  The place I live.  Today, I cleaned it...or at least I straightened it up.  I took down the Christmas decorations and sorted them out until I had one large plastic bin with everything we need for the holidays as far as decorating.  

Like I mentioned in previous posts, this Christmas was different.  The kids got a few gifts...pj pants, a flannel shirt, and Christie and Mac got a college ornament that plays the school fight song.  Howie got a Bronco's ornament because he loves the Bronco's.  My point is...that's it.  No Santa, no putting things together after everyone goes to sleep, no pretending.  I may sound like a Grinch, as a matter of fact, I know I sound like a Grinch, but things were so much easier, and less stressful.

Christmas night, we were in a Comfort Inn in Amarillo, Texas.  We had two big beds, a nice TV and a couch.  Jim and I slept in one bed, the boys in the other and Christie was on a cot.  I don't even think we mentioned that it was Christmas...we got into our hotel beds and went to sleep.  That was Christmas day for us.  Driving, McDonald's and the Comfort Inn.

The next day, we met up with our group and planned our days of building a house for a family.   Building a house for a family.  It's a different house than the one I have, much smaller with much less stuff.  This house in Mexico, we built an 11 x 22 foot house that was split into two rooms.  It had 4 outlets, a ceiling fan with a light and a light in another room.

Today while I was cleaning my house...my home...I thought of the house...the home in Mexico.  I thought about the family and if they moved in.  Was it warm?  Did they put the rugs on the concrete floors that we poured?  Are they more comfortable and are they happier now with a reliable roof over their heads?  

Before we start the drywall, the team goes into the house and writes  on the inside of the walls...some of us write prayers, some of us write hopes and dreams for them.  Then, the drywall is hung and the house is done.  I always wonder if they feel the love and good wishes that come from the builders...

I finished dusting the living room,  vacuumed the floor and moved to the kitchen.  I cleaned the counters, emptied the dishwasher, refilled it with dirty dishes, and then mopped the floor.  The music played behind me and I thought about my house...my home and what it means to me.  

I hope Sylvia and her family have moved into their house and made it their home. 

We are lucky to have a house and even luckier when it is a home.
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day to Day...

The alarm went off at 04:30 this morning because the Queen needed a ride to the airport.  I am not sure where she is going and I have it penciled in on my calendar when she gets back...such is the life when you've let go.

Jim drove her and then is headed for the office.  It's not like he goes to the office much.  He sits at the kitchen table with his computer and the phone and gazes out over Pikes Peak while he is working...conference call after conference call.  He taps on his computer through the calls looks like he is working hard.

The boys, college and high school, would sleep until the cows come home.  Literally.  Funny thing is, we have no cows.  I guess they are tired or growing or even fermenting, for that matter.  I heard wind of a meeting at Safeway to go snowboarding today at 8 am.  Let's just say that I'll believe that when I see it.

So I'm up in the kitchen thinking about the day.  I have blood to draw at 8 am and will begin from that.  I am not headed to the gym today because my favorite class starts at 7:45 and there is no way to make it.  Kind of relieved though because I went to kickboxing yesterday morning and fought the urge to puke through out the class.  That was a nice feeling!

In Colorado, we start the long days of winter when I am looking forward to spring.  It's cold, it's icy and it takes everything I have to get out of my warm bed...and to be honest, my house is pretty warm in the winter.  The weather man says it is going to warm up...get in the 40's later today.  That would be wonderful.

My Christmas tree sits in my living room...I guess, ready to come down.  But, I'm not in the mood.  I will leave it up until the weekend and then reevaluate.  I have the post holiday exhaustion that I usually have compounded by a 16 hour road trip from Mexico and a house being built in the meantime.  I guess I deserve to be a little draggy.

The time has come to get going although I am hesitating.  A shower is in order and then the daily run through the closet taking inventory of the clothes that fit.  Hopefully that will get a little quicker as the year goes on.

So, I wish you good day...and joy.  Even in the most predictable, cold, tired routines...I will be joyful...or let's be honest...I'm gonna try.  

Have a wonderful day and stay warm!
I love you all,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


January 1, 2013 and I am sitting here thinking about resolutions.  I have the usual resolutions that I have made every year since I was 5...lose weight, exercise more, blah, blah, blah.

This year, I am thinking about how foolish these resolutions have been and are.  I mean, it's great to lose weight and it's great to exercise and honestly, I exercise quite a bit.

The losing weight part for me is the difficult part because I get so much joy out of a good meal and a nice cocktail.  I am not very different that most people with those feelings.  I understand now why it has to stop or at least slow down a little.

In 2013, I will be 49.  This body has produced 3 children, taken care of countless people and wept for not being able to take care of countless more...this body needs to be taken care of.  

I need to take care of me.  Just typing that statement feels wrong and selfish.  "You are fine" my head tells me, "and don't let on that you're not."  Well, I am fine but I could use a little attention and work on me, myself and I.

I'm not talking about changing major things in my life.  I am talking about giving myself a break.  I'm talking about working on changing those voices in my head that tell me I'm not good enough and I need to do better...get the laundry done, mop the floor, be a better wife and by God, lose weight!  I have been led by those voices for a lot of years and what I did to keep them quiet...was to keep busy.  I was the PTA president, Sunday school teacher, class mother, swimming teacher, and whatever else I could fit in while raising the kids and working.  To be perfectly honest, I don't know what it is to relax and quiet the voices in my head...never have really.

 Those voices are some of the reason that a nice glass of wine at night became the usual.  I could pour it up and look forward to the voices in my head that usually let me know all the things I didn't get done...quiet down.  Those voices were feeling the calm of the alcohol like I was.  Problem is...that's a problem.  Occasionally it's not a problem but every night...it becomes a problem.

Here's the thing...a glass of wine to relax makes for a nice night.  But, it also makes for a relaxed attitude in food choices for dinner and portion sizes at dinner because...who cares now if your fat?  Not me honey, I'm relaxed...

Anyway...I digress.  But, I am thinking I need to ease off the pink wine and keep the alcohol to a minimum during the week or, sad to say, none at all.  I have to say that I am going to miss my nightly glass of wine like I missed my cigarettes after I quit.  Those vices, sadly, become my friends.

OK, so I am not drinking.  What am I supposed to do with the voices in my head?  I have been thinking I should tell the voices all the good things I do and move on.  In counseling terms, I am using positive affirmations.  God knows I spent enough time on the couch to dig up some of that advice...

I also want to continue to work on being genuine...as my husband says, "Be who you are".  Sometimes being who I am is painful...but it is who I am.  

"So what's the point?" I say to my husband when he begins to ramble on...and I think it applies to me and this blog post.  What is the point?  

The point is that sometimes I/we can get in the way of success in our resolutions, our lives and our day to day happiness.  Sometimes it's just being who we are and who we are is negative, or a pessimist or we just can't get past a hurt that we wish we could.  

Listen, we all have 24 hours in a day, no more...no less.  We all have obligations to family, kids, parents...pets.  None of us are independently wealthy so we are working or supporting someone else who works to pay the bills.  Those things are what we can count on every day in some fashion.  Now, I think we can also count on overwhelming sadness at some point in our lives.  All of us, bar none, because none of us get out of here alive.

The question is...what are we gonna do in between?  Listen to those voices that beat us down...or change them and build us up?  Are we going to struggle for more things we don't need and work harder to pay the bills?  Or, are we gonna take our kids outside and hike, pack lunches and spend the time.  Are we gonna live in worry and fear or screw those feelings and live in joy?  Those parents of those precious babies in Sandy Hook didn't expect to be burying any of them when they dropped them off at school.  They thought they had unlimited time with them...well guess what?  That could have been any of us if we really think about it...and who wants to. 

My resolution is to live in joy...spend more time with the people I love and worry less about measuring up.  I will treat my body better and see if it treats me better.  I hope it does.  Oh and the last resolution for 2013...I will love more fully, be it a good meal or my husband of 24 years and...I hope to laugh more often and at times so hard...that I wet my pants!

Now that's what I call living in joy!

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,