Songs of Hope and Sorrow – You Were Born

Our granddaughter just had her first birthday. She is light and love and magic. She has the biggest grin imaginable, her face scrunching all up, eyes getting narrow, and her mouth, with it’s little fangs, gets huge. Light beams out of her. Her smile matches her personality. Curious, determined to keep up with her older brothers, tenacious when she has to be, smiley, tough, adventurous, affectionate, loves to laugh, loves books, loves life. She is joy.

I have a personal tradition, started with Sebastian, where I find a song that means something to me as it relates to each particular grandchild. I will post the boy’s songs here in the next week some time, but today I thought I’d post Tessa’s.

I have no idea what made this song Tessa’s for me. It has always worked like that, for each of them. I hear a song, and for whatever reason it attaches itself to them, and to my heart. From that moment on I can’t hear it without thinking of them, and I can’t stop myself from crying. Tears of happiness, tears of being so grateful I’m in their little lives and they are in mine. I can’t hear these songs without getting the feeling that my heart could burst from all the love I feel for them.

I give you Tessa’s song, You Were Born, by Cloud Cult

Best Finds of 2013

I’ve been reading a lot of best of lists in the last several days, everything from albums of 2013 to recipes involving bacon.  Everyone seems to be making a year end list.  I thought, why not jump on the bandwagon.  So here we go.  This isn’t a top ten or even a list with any sort of theme.  These are just things (songs, movie houses, art, tv shows, food, etc.) I discovered in 2013 that will stay with me long into 2014 and beyond.

Let’s get to it….

The Lone Bellow came into my life via iTunes and a free download.  I instantly became obsessed with them.  Great lyrics, excellent harmonies, and catchy tunes that stay in your head for days.

The Cinnamon Crunch Bagel from Panera.  This thing is addicting.  I’m so glad we discovered them, and so sad at the same time.  It’s all kinds of deliciousness in a small round baked good.  Toasted with butter… so damn tasty.

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Kickapoo State Park, Illinois.  We’ve lived in Illinois now for nearly two and a half years.  Surprisingly there are many things we’ve come to appreciate and even truly like about living here.  One thing we haven’t is that there isn’t as much water as we were used to living in Oregon.  We’ve done our best to travel to nearby towns with river walks (there aren’t that many) and to find state parks and such that have a decent amount of water, in whatever form we can find it.  One such place, to our delight, is Kickapoo.  First, you have to love the name, c’mon, it’s kind of awesome.  But more importantly, it has water.  All sorts of little lakes and a stream, running through it.  There are canoe rentals in the summer, and loads of trails.  We went in the fall, when the colors of the foliage were stunningly beautiful.  We will definitely be going back.

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The Golden Harbor Restaurant.  With a huge menu, free tea by the pot, and a cool old school vibe, this place rocks. Plus, the food is great.  How can you go wrong with spicy green beans, salt and pepper mushrooms, and plates full of sweet and spicy chicken.  The menu on the wall is enormous and all in Chinese.  You can pick up an english language menu from the little table by the front door if you like.  Write down the numbers of the things you’d like to order, take it up to the counter, and moments later your tasty hot food starts coming out as it’s ready.  We love this place.

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Season tickets for the University of Illinois women’s volleyball and basketball.  What a great deal.  We’d been to games before, but this all inclusive $35 dollar ticket package gets you into all the home games for both sports.  We’ve had hours of enjoyment at these games.  The atmosphere, the competition, supporting the local university, and eating an occasional stadium dog… all worth it.  Can’t beat it for good sporty entertainment.

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Cris Cab.  I can’t even remember how I stumbled on this young gent.  All I know for sure is that his music is catchy and I’m semi-addicted to it.

Dominic Thomas was born.  I don’t know if you can call him a discovery, but as he grows, and has one discovery after another of his own, we have discovered a little more about him, and ourselves.  I think that’s part of the beauty of little people.  As they grow and change and develop we see the world through them, and it is an amazingly wondrous place.

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The fun of riding steam trains.  Taking a five mile ride on a steam train isn’t exactly something I would choose to do on my own.  Maybe an over night or a several night journey, one with sleeper cars and a nice dining car, but not a shorty ride on a steam train that goes one way forward and then backs up on the return trip.  But, somehow, with the help of the excitement of a three year old, short trip steam trains kinda rock.  We went a couple of different times and I’m sure we’ll be going again this year.  Our mini engineer in training loves it and, consequently, so do we.

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The Blacklist.  James Spader is just plain awesome.  He’s an amazing actor.  In lessor hands this role, and the tv show connected to it, might not be as riveting and interesting as it is.  But with James Spader at the center, a decent supporting cast, and top notch writing, Blacklist keeps you hooked.

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Portland, Maine.  We took a little road trip for our 10th anniversary to Portland by way of NY, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, etc.  We loved New England.  It’s beautiful, it’s people are great, and it’s beautiful.  Portland, the destination for this trip, didn’t disappoint.  We met in Portland, Oregon.  It’s our city, as we like to call it.  We love it there.  I had, however, always wanted to go to the other Portland.  To check it out.  To see what it had to offer.  My honey felt the same.  Seemed fitting that on our 10th we would take a trip to that other Portland to see what we could see.  It was great.  Good restaurants, excellent scenery, really nice people, and funky in it’s own way, we enjoyed it very much.

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Roadtrippers.  I love this website.  We travel quite a bit.  Most especially, in recent years at least, we’ve gone on some major road trips here in the U.S.  This site allows you to plan your route and then see what sorts of places might be along it.  From practical to strange Roadtrippers has them all.   They also have an app, which rocks.  I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

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Cafe ZoJo.  It’s a local coffee shop that’s fairly new.  I’m not sure if we actually found this in 2013 or the year before, but never the less, I’m including it here.  The staff are friendly, with quick helpful smiles, the atmosphere is eclectic and comfortable, the food is tasty, and the coffee is sublime.  ZoJo is our go to for take away coffee.  I’ve never had better drip coffee in my life.  That’s saying a lot.

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Sleepy Creek Vineyards.  We actually discovered this place by way of a thing called the Fork in the Road Tour.  A few local farms, their goods, a nice drive with good friends, and we ended up, last stop on the tour, at Sleepy Creek.  We were given a tour of the vineyard,  an explanation of the bottling process, and then a tasting.  The wine was good, but the people were great, and the atmosphere was awesome.  Later, like a month or so, they hosted the Salk Fork River Art Festival.  Again, great setting, great wine, great people.  We were hooked.  They do several events a month including things like film festivals, live music, art festivals, weenie roasts, and of course wine tastings.  It’s worth the drive east.

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Cinnebarre in Salem, Oregon.  We live in Illinois now, but we still spend a significant amount of time in Oregon.  It’s where I’m from, and where my honey lived for over 30 years.  It’s home.  My mom lives in Salem, in the same house we lived in when I was in high school.  Salem is the capitol city, and has always been considered, amongst people who live in Portland anyway, a lessor town.  But in the last several years Salem has grown up a little, and funked out a bit as well.  To prove this point they now have a movie place downtown called Cinebarre.  It’s a chain, though there are only about seven or eight locations around the country.  The fact that one of those is in Salem is very cool.  Cinebarre is a movie theater and it’s a restaurant.  You get table service during the movie, which seems like it could distract you, but it doesn’t really.  Walk in, look at the menu before the movie starts, fill out your card, prop it up, and the wait staff comes to take your order via your card and then brings you the food while the movie is going.  You can keep ordering if you want to, they also have beer and wine.  It’s a kick and a unique movie experience.  I like it.

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Honda PCX 150 Scooter.  We used to own motorcycles.  Big motorcycles.  Hogs.  We had all the gear, went on rides, and thought we were slightly above all those scooter riders out there.  That’s the way it goes.  If you ride motorcycles you think scooter riders, or scooterists as I like to call them, are slightly beneath you.  Not really in an arrogant way, it’s just that as a motorcycle rider you’re cool.  As a scooterist you’re nerdy.  Until, of course, we gave up the motorcycles and bought a Honda scooter in 2013.  It’s beyond awesome.  It hauls buns, can carry both of us, is fun as hell to ride, and seems easier.  Maybe the easier part is just because you don’t have to shift, I don’t know.  But it’s zippy, and it makes a fantastic second car.  I so love to ride it.  Who would’ve thunk, those few short years ago, we would prefer a scooter, but we do.  I guess if that makes us nerds we proudly own it.  I’m a scooterist.  Damn straight I am.

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Neutropenic No More

It’s a good day.  Had a follow up ultrasound to check on the blood clots in my arm and hand and they are no longer there… yay!  Also had blood work done today, normal Monday thing, and just found out I am no longer neutropenic.  My platelets are up, and the other things are still low, but almost normal.  They probably will be by Thursday.  I’m happy I get to be a normal person for a few days.  No masks, no worrying about germs and dirt and fungus,etc.  I think we will go out, do something.  Mom and I are talking about going down to her house tomorrow.  She hasn’t been there in a couple of weeks, so it would be nice for her… and nice for me to go down there too.  I haven’t been to Mom and Don’s place since before all this started.  Would love to see all they’ve done this summer.  It’s been a lot.

Since my numbers are pretty good, and will probably be even better on Thursday, it looks like I will get my first of my last two pushes on Thursday, outpatient.  My last push will be on Friday.  Yes it’s my birthday, but then that gives me two things to celebrate… turning 45 and the fact that I just had my last push.  Yay!!!

In baby news… he’s a tad fussy.  Not much of a sleeper yet, which is keeping the kids and Karen on their toes. It will get better though… it’s the usual no sleep for the new parents and grandparent thing going on.  I feel for them.  They all look and sound tired, but he’s adorable.  So beautiful.  They will all get through this with flying colors and soon everyone will be getting more sleep.  I have confidence in them. Plus, I’m sending all the love I can their way… that’s gotta help… right?

Ok… well…  I’m going to finish watching the US Open men’s final, which I recorded on the dvr while we were in at the clinic.  No one tell me who won.  I’m excited to finish watching this match!

Sebastian Is Here!!!

For those of you who don’t know from looking at Facebook, our grandson, Sebastian Miles W., was born on September 7 at 8 lbs 15 oz.  Both mom and the little dude are doing well.  He is a cutie.  I don’t have a photo I can include, but when I get one, you will all be able to gaze upon his gorgeousness (I am not biased… no not at all).  I can’t wait to meet him!  I am so glad Karen is there to be with the kids and the little man.  I get daily reports.  I’m in love with the little guy and I haven’t even gotten to kiss his little head yet.  Can’t wait….

I’m a grandma…   wow.

There’s a Doctor in the House

I am so proud. I can’t even express how proud I am. I could cry with it.

I always said I didn’t want children. People would bring it up and I was always the one saying no, not me. Ever. Then a funny thing happened. I met Karen. She asked me, after we’d been seeing each other for awhile, if I wanted to have kids. She already had two, but was willing to have another if it was something I wanted. Strangely, I found myself wishing very much that I’d met her earlier in life. If I would have, I think we might have had one or two. It’s a strange thing to realize that it’s not that I didn’t want kids, I just didn’t want them until I was with the right person.

We talked a lot about it for some time. A LOT about it. We decided not to, which was very much a mutual decision (as is everything we do). And we are both very OK with that decision.

As I mentioned earlier in this little missive, Karen already had two children when we met. One of those kids, Mary, I’ve been around a lot and gotten to know very well. The other, Thomas, I haven’t been around as much and I’m hoping I’ll get to spend more time with him in the near future. What I am, to both of them actually, is a step parent. I didn’t think I would ever even be a parent, let alone a step parent, so being one has been surprising to me. At this point I can only really speak to my relationship with Mary, but then she is why I started writing this post in the first place.

Mary. I love this girl. More than I thought I ever could or would. As all step parents know it’s a tenuous thing, getting to know your partner’s children. You don’t know if you are going to like them, or worse yet, if they are going to like you. You hope so, but you don’t know. When I met Karen I knew the single most important person in her life, the one whose opinion mattered to her the most at that time, was Mary. Meeting her was one of the scariest things I’d done. I wanted her to approve of Karen’s choice in me. Luckily I think she did.

It has been sort of slow going… Mary and I really getting to know each other and getting close. We’ve never lived in the same town, let alone the same state or even country. We’ve had sets of weeks here and there over the last seven years when we’ve had this sort of crash course in developing our relationship. Yet somehow I feel like we have. I love the kid with all my heart. It’s an amazing feeling. Very big. Stunning really.

Today Mary went into a room, talked to some professor’s for an hour, and came out of that room with her PhD. She was awesome! Her mom and I both knew she would be. That’s Mary. The girl is tenacious and fantastically smart.

It’s been and is going to continue to be a terrific year for Mary…. getting married, getting her PhD, and in September, having our first grandchild. I am overwheled with happiness and pride. I am overwhelmed.

For a person who never thought I wanted kids I am now the proud parent of three… Mary, Martin (Mary’s fantastic husband who it would take a completely other post to talk about), and Thomas. For a person who wasn’t sure what it would be like to be a parent and wasn’t sure I even wanted to be one I can say this… It is, without a doubt, the most fantastic thing that has ever happened in my life, save for meeting Karen (which made this all possible in the first place). I am so proud of the person Mary is. So happy for her and the life she is living. I am lucky to be a part of it and so inspired every day by her. I also know I am a better person for knowing her. Mary, you amaze me.

Hey everyone… There’s a doctor in the house… Our kid is a doctor!

It’s A Boy!

So so exciting.  Jackson Miles Widdicks is on his way… or, going to be on his way.  The kids just found out today that the baby is a boy.  It’s such a cool thing to see is little picture.  I can’t even believe how excited I am.  Woo Hoo!

The Apple of My Eye

Wow. What’s up with me anyway? No blog posts in awhile. Lame. What can I say? Sometimes life takes over and there’s nothing to do but go with it. S’ok. I can do that. I just thought, looking at my pages here, that I’ve been a bit remiss. I’ve been blogging now for years. Since 2005 I think, long ago when I started on Live Journal. Strange to think about all that’s happened in our lives since then and all the posts about those life events. A lot of us and life wrapped up here.

Guess I’m just being a tad sentimental. Changes are a foot for me, for us. I will have more time, maybe, to post a bit more often and certainly a lot to post about over the next several months. The most exciting thing on the docket… being grandparents. Woo hoo! VERY excited about that. Right now the little sprout is an apple. That’s the size, not the future name. I wasn’t ever a parent, besides the step parenting I get to do now which is so easy. Let’s face it… when you come into a situation when the kid is in college already there’s not a lot of parenting to do. I love, try to support, and am friends with the kids. It’s something I love about my life. A bonus I was lucky enough to get in the course of meeting and loving K. But I came into it after all the stuff… no school programs, no cheering on the sidelines like a mad woman during a sporting event, no consoling after a let down, no laughing and laughing and laughing about something totally silly that only little kids laugh at. None of that. I can’t wait to experience it. To have picnics in the living room and trips to the zoo and making forts out of blankets and dancing to music while making dinner in the kitchen (Ok, we do the dancing part already but it will be fun to do it with the little one). To have this little person who I know I will adore and will adore us. To hear them laugh. I can’t wait.

These next few months are going to go fast. So much is going to happen… wow.

BABY!!!

Alright folks… I have been sitting on this news and sitting on this news… and I’m not going to sit on it any more.  Mary and Martin are going to have a baby!!  They have been trying for a little while now, since before the wedding, and found out, just after the wedding, that they were expecting.  We are VERY excited.  We can’t wait to be grandparents.  Woot Woot!!!  Life, as we know it, is about to change!  The little tyke is due September 14. It’s too early to know if it’s going to be a boy or girl, but when that times comes I will certainly be posting about it.  SO very happy!