Ridin’ Out of Summer

And I’m back!

It’s been a super busy few weeks, but it feels like summer is officially over now (even though technically it’s not.) Between work, projects, summery events, travel, and some other things, the summer blew past me. I felt like I spent my summer either running around like a mad woman, or melting in the heat. Sometimes it was a combination of both.

So where have I been? What have I been doing? Inquiring minds want to know. I’ll give you a bit of an overview and then will post again with more specifics soon.

The Closet project has been steaming ahead and almost got a bit away from me this summer. I was super fortunate and was able to pick up a lot of clothing donations. The bad news was, we lost our space at the school. For last year, we were able to the old dental room. Originally, the health department had a special room at the school in the nurse’s suite where they would come and do free cleanings etc. Once they privatized it, the new company never bothered to come in. That is, they never bothered to come in until we used the space to create the Closet space. Well, at the VERRRRYY end of the year, the company showed up, rather displeased we had taken over the space they failed to use. Maybe it was a snub of “well, if you’re not going to use it, we will” but they have arranged to start coming back to the school, which is GREAT for our students. The bad news is, we had to move everything, and unfortunately the school is packed. Luckily the principal is amazing and find me a small space. It.s not ideal, but it shows she stands behind the project and I was inherently grateful for it. I was getting calls throughout the summer from parents in need, and at times was out late at night doing dropoffs of items. You know, this project really highlights the best in people. My goal every time I step out to help someone is to refrain from any judgement. It’s the only way the project will work. When I tell people about it, people often say “how could parents not have XYZ for their child?” but it’s important to simply go with purpose and not judge. Hard times can fall on anyone, and in a town where you have a mix of rich and poor, people often forget just how tough times can really be for some of us, or how good people don’t always get a fair shake. Judging others does us no good. A big reminder of this was a late night drop off I did the other night. I asked the dad what his daughter’s name was. As soon as he went to tell me, his whole body language changed. He stood tall, and clearly, happily and lovingly told me his child’s first, middle and last names. You could see the pride. You could see the love. To be honest, that simple moment was everything, and it was the best moment of my day. I loved seeing the pure love for his child on his face. Hard times can never diminish that.

I also made the decision of a mad woman to do our family vacations the last week of summer. Meaning, I left on a Saturday, came home on Wednesday (the day before school started), sent my babies off to school Thursday and Friday, before we headed back out for a family reunion from Saturday to Monday. PHEW! Are you tired yet? I sure am!

Trip one was a trip with some family members to a Ranch in Upstate New York. We had such a good time that the trip deserves it’s own post. For now I will say that each family member found something they loved to do, we ate constantly, we all tried new things, and I came mentally relaxed and physically bruised. Better than the opposite, if you ask me. I had bruises on my legs from horseback riding and riding a bananaboat, and I couldn’t lift my arms up over my head from the soreness of all the kayaking I did.

It was heavenly.

We enjoyed ourselves so much we booked it for next year as well. Again, I’ll write more on that trip later.

The only tough part of the trip was getting a call from my dad on the drive up there that my grandfather wasn’t doing well. It was touch and go for a few days as far as whether my dad would be able to attend the reunion or not. In the end, he called and said he was flying out to go look after my grandfather. I think he felt bad about not seeing us, especially since we haven’t seen my dad hardly all year, but to be honest, I felt glad he was going to look after my grandfather. I told my dad not to worry, and I would see him soon. We still headed up to the lake house to visit the family, and it was a wonderful time. It’s laid back, easy going, and always great to watch the kids all fall right into step with each other. They all come from different states but as soon as they land in the same house they all run off like old friends. I really missed having my dad there but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. We spent a day at the lake, a day at a country fair, and a lazy morning before packing up to head home.

Once I got back home, I decided to treat myself to a guilt free nap.

It’s funny because I feel guilty when I nap. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s that I always feel like I should be doing something, or running somewhere, or looking after people. So for me to say…”I’m gonna take an hour and have a nap” was a big deal for me. It was awesome. I slept for an hour and woke up feeling lazy and useless, but it was perfect.

And so begins fall. Fall schedules, which are a bit more hardlined. Sports begin again. New projects begin. Existing projects get streamlined. Pro football starts. Food gets more comforting. Pumpkin everything. Coffee. Just, coffee.

My house stays messy…because while I’m an eternal optimist, I’m also a realist.

Sadly, I think that has wound up most of our travel for this year, outside a day trip here or there. Of course, I never rule out more. The past 12 months have been outstanding in so many ways, but most of the best moments were because of travel. I’m excited to plan for next year!

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Stalker’s still stalkin’

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you probably have read that I have a stalker. It’s an unfortunate situation, because it’s someone I’m related to, and someone I was once close with. That being said, the stalking and harassment has continued on for 5 years. Despite me blocking on social media, taking social media accounts down for a while, not writing on my blog, and multiple other things, the situation is persisting. There is an obsession with me that she has that I can’t understand, and it’s gotten to the point where I had to put standalone software on my blog to monitor traffic. She has made over 280 page views in less than 3 months, occasionally from her home, but mostly from her job. She’s on here almost on the daily, except for a quick break for a few days here and there. She took a week off and I thought that she’d finally moved on, but then it started up again. I’m pretty sure she knows I can tell she stalks me on here, as I’ve been open about the fact I can track it but she doesn’t have enough pride or self respect to stop looking.

And the best part? She served me with a cease and desist accusing ME of stalking HER. Meanwhile, she’s steady checking my blog at 7 something AM some days, or late at night. I really am just tired and over it, so I’m going to lay it all out here as an open letter since I know this is CLEARLY the best way for her to see it without everyone she knows seeing it. I’m not that much of a bitch. Sorry you all have to be a part of it.

So C, let’s just state the facts, shall we?

Over the past 5 years, you have (and not in any particular order):

  1. Created a fake twitter account and blog account name to try and interact with me and dig for some sort of intel. When I called you on it immediately you SCREAMED at me in the parking lot asking me HOW DARE I ACCUSE YOU of doing that. Then a few years later you were forced to admit it was you all along. You also kept up the backstory for that account for 4 years, even while I was under the impression we were pretty close. You then told me “it was years ago, big deal, you should just get over it”. Is that how you apologize?
  2. You stalked Lucille under a fake page, and denied that too, remember?
  3. You stalk your foster child’s parents, adopted daughter’s bio parents, all under the same account, and have done so for years. Have you been up front with them and the state about that? I’d determine the answer is no.
  4. You created ANOTHER fake blog name to get notifications when I post, which you admitted…..
  5. ….in one of your endless text attacks on me, one of which had 76 texts in one morning. The other was the day after my birthday where you felt entitled to try to “tell me about myself”, both of these after me telling you to leave me alone.
  6. You tried emailing my husband, who never read it, deleted and blocked you.
  7. I password protected my blog posts and you sent me an enraged email TO MY JOB asking how dare I prevent you from reading it. ARE YOU SERIOUS WITH THAT HORSESHIT? You’re mad I stopped your stalking for a moment? Why do you feel entitled to knowing ANYTHING about me? We have no relationship.
  8. You started a passive aggressive “pinning battle” where you called me names etc because you think every dry, dark or sarcastic thing I pin has to be about you. Here’s a tip, it’s not. You admitted to others you just sat pinning nasty stuff and directed it all at me. Here’s a newsflash…I don’t think about you. I responded in kind to run a test or two on how often you read my pinterest and to see if we could do a timed test. I posted, and low and behold, you would post a reponse pin in 3.5 minutes. A second test later in the day yielded less than 5 minutes. I have no doubt you just scrolled my pins constantly all day. Seriously, I’m not that interesting.
  9. I watched as you tried to guess the passwords to my blog etc.
  10. You served me with that cease and desist you pulled the template off for on the internet. This was months after you swaggered around the family telling a bold face lie that you’d served me, because you hadn’t. (Lying is your favorite, and it’s honestly frightening you BELIEVE YOUR OWN LIES). You served me, but meanwhile were on here multiple times a day constantly checking to see what I was doing. You’re the one stalking me, not the other way around, but hey, you think what you want. So you served me, right in front of my children. You sent some strange man to my home, knowing I’d likely be home alone with the kids, to come on my property despite being told not to. Your nephew went into a complete panic because he heard the whole thing out the open window with me telling the man to stop as he started approaching me down near the back of the house and as I told him to leave the property and keep away from me. Both kids went into a panic that something was happening to their mother, and they know the whole story of what you have done because they’ve watched it unfold with their own eyes. You destroyed your relationship with them and have nobody to blame but yourself. You told your daughter not to speak to me but have no problem marching up to my daughter to say hi. Newsflash, she is polite and will respond in kind but she came to me to ask why you say one thing and do another.
  11. You’ve destroyed your relationship with all 4 of us, all by yourself. We’re not the only ones, but I won’t speak for others.
  12. You can say what you want about me, but I rallied for you coming back into the fold, I was the only person who went to the adoption ceremony, and I defended your crazy, unstable behavior for far too long.
  13. You’ve sent me unsolicited, unwanted texts, emails, and blog posts from your fake person you use.
  14. Remember all the shit you talked about me, and other people on your blog, which you completely hid not long after? I heard about it, saw them, and said I’d never go on that blog again, because I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction. Never have since.
  15. You’re still doing fake accounts. Still stalking me and other folks. Let it go.
  16. You had your coworker try to get access to my social media accounts. She admitted it, and I have it in writing. What exactly do y’all do there besides worry about me?
  17. You tried accessing my kids’ via social media and facetime until you were blocked.

So here it is, in writing, as nicely as I can put it. I request that you leave me alone. Forget all about me. Forget I exist. Stay off my pinterest. Stay off my blog, my social media. Stop looking. Stop seeking.

Folks have asked me why you’re so deeply obsessed with me. I have no idea. I can only assume you either feel a need to control and feel entitled to know what I do, you think I’m going to write about all you’ve done to me, or perhaps you’re simply trying to determine if I am happier than you.

Let me end the mystery. I am happier than you.

I know this to be true because I’m busy living, loving, laughing, and trying to get through each day. I’m busy, my life is chaos, and some days are utter shit, but I have a focus and it’s not you. I write about my life as a hobby because it’s cathartic. I’m probably not published author material by any stretch, but I do in fact enjoy my little corner of the blogosphere. Even if you’re here lurking every moment of every day, I’ll sigh but I’ll keep doing what I enjoy. I have a happy marriage, with happy kids, and we’re good. I love my life. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, I don’t need to compare myself to other people, and I’m not worried about people like you who hate me because I’m busy loving people who love me. Life isn’t perfect for me, but I love it anyway and I’m making the very best of what I have. While calling me names you announced you weren’t going to worry about what I’m doing, because you’re living life to the fullest. Yet here you are, staring at my blog, yet again, just feeling angry and bitter, 280+ times in 3 months. That is NOT living life to the fullest. Not even close. Go enjoy your kids and husband and all life has to offer. I have nothing to offer you. You hate me, you’ve destroyed all these relationships because of your hate of me. That’s really sad. Ignoring you doesn’t work, asking you to stop hasn’t worked, and to be fair I should have handled this years ago much more firmly and publicly than I did but instead I tried to just get you to leave me alone and hoped you’d just tire of it. I thought you’d muster enough pride and self respect eventually, but it’s not happening.

My little family is not your business. You have broken your bonds with each of us and the damage is done. You’ve continuously lied to me, and to other people about me. The lies never stop. I just want this done and to be left alone. Don’t respond, I won’t read it. Don’t text, email, call, visit, read my blog anymore or comment. Just leave me alone. I honestly didn’t want to have to put this here but the obsession and behavior has to stop. I don’t hate you, I don’t anything with you. There’s nothing there.

Christmas Thoughts in August

This morning, we found our old video camera and some tapes. I had been looking for the camera for years, as I got it as a gift from my parents the Christmas before we had my son. It was also what we knew was going to be the last Christmas with my mom.

That Christmas was such a strange mix of happiness and devastation. My now husband and I drove down to Virginia to spend Christmas with my parents. Until that point (we were still dating at the time) I believe we had each spent the holiday with our own families, but this Christmas was different. My family is British, so of course we held it all together and put on the famous British “stiff upper lip” but each of us knew that the next year, it would be very very different.

Christmas was always my favorite holiday. It was just my parents and I in the US but my mom made every effort to make Christmas magical. If we got to go to England for Christmas it was even MORE magical because then I had my cousins to play with and my massive family around me. While my parents didn’t have a lot of money in my younger years, my mom somehow managed to pull together enough money to get whatever was on the top of my list plus more. It wasn’t just gifts though. She just had an air about her that made the holiday absolutely magical.

2005 was the year my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. By the books, she wasn’t supposed to live more than a couple of months. The cancer had started in her lungs, spread to her liver and pancreas, which are some of the worst places for it to go. She would end up living until June of 2006, but at the time, we never looked up what the books said. We just lived and took each day at a time. That year, I was inherently aware that it was likely my last Christmas with her. This broke me inside in ways I’ll never be able to explain, and I hid that grief from everyone, including my husband. He knew I was struggling, but nobody else knew just how bad it was for me at the time. I put on a brave face most of the time, and soldiered on. It wasn’t until I could be 100% alone that I really let it all come pouring out, and then I bottled it right back up. I couldn’t let my parents see how bad it was because they had their own battles to fight and I didn’t want extra worry about me falling into the mix. They were worried enough.

I was very pregnant that Christmas, and the hormones sure didn’t help me tackle the grief process. My parents I believe had gotten me the camera (althought perhaps we got it?) but I remember recording moments in the kitchen, including one of my mom cooking Christmas dinner. I’ve thought about that moment for years. This was back before smartphones and everyone having a camera and video recording device in their pocket. I’ve spent years wondering if that video was there, and most importantly, if I could hear the sound of her voice. I’ve missed that voice…the sing song “Hello Sweetheart!” and joking “Ya cheeky bugger!” in her British accent more than I can ever say. I just wanted to hear her voice.

This morning, my husband found the camera and tapes, far back in his closet, and handed them to me. It felt like Christmas. I was beyond excited. What was interesting is that yesterday, after having a particularly bad day, I looked up in my linen closet and saw the quilt my mom had given me that Christmas in 2005. I remember the card she had written, asking me to remember that particular Christmas as it was likely our last Christmas together. Somewhere, I have the card stashed away and the blanket has been in my linen closet to keep it safe.

I plugged the old camera in and was thrilled to see it still worked. I popped in tape after tape. Sadly, it looks like the footage I was looking for may have been taped over. On the bright side, it was footage of my husband’s family gathered around the table at a family event, and my father in law is there. He passed away a few years after my mom did. I excitedly told my husband we had footage of his dad, as well as another clip of him holding our son for the first time in the hospital. It was incredibly sweet to see, and to see everyone from 13 years ago in all their youth. There is video of me in the labor and delivery room, in labor, recording while my husband is fast asleep. I found video of them laying my newborn son on my chest while I was in recovery. There was video of my husband talking to the baby in silly voices, and making me cry with laughter by doing silly dances. There was footage of his first birthday party, some of his first steps, him telling me he was scared of thunder, and us being first time parents. There are silver linings.

My house was clean back then too. Isn’t it funny that I made note of that? but it was. Lots of toys around, but it was clean.

2 kids, work, pets, life happened, but ok, I did miss the cleanness of the house back in the day.

That being said, I wouldn’t change it. I love our life and our crazy house. Floors can be dusted. I want the memories.

If there’s one thing that’s been reiterated to me today, it’s to get in the pictures. Get the videos and get IN the videos. One day my kids may be looking for me and my voice in the old home videos. One day they will want to see our memories in a visual form. I want to be in them, and leave them my voice, my love on a screen as a reminder, and to be present. Times have changed and videos are so EASY to make now. I know my mom often didn’t like being on film etc, but I wish I had made more of an effort to get her one screen and in videos. I’d be more content now to be able to hear her and see her on screen on those days I miss her.

In a few weeks, I am headed down to see my dad and step mother. I plan on taking videos. I want voices, and memories for not only me, but for my children as well. I realized I don’t have many pictures and videos of my dad. Not as many as I would like, anyway. It’s time to correct that, while I have the chance.

Seize the day.

Enjoy the Silence

Last week I looked around and had to admit to myself and the people I trust the most that I’m overwhelmed. For the most part, I handle whatever life throws at me with a sense of humor and determination. I take life on and I’m willing to toot my own horn and say that while it sure isn’t always pretty, I get most things done and some extra as well. I balance as much as I can and keep the plates spinning so to speak. But with working full time, 2 kids who have very different needs, a husband who is working opposite hours, pets, my project to help kids in need, and the day to day grind, all it takes is one plate to get unbalanced and they all crash down on top of me.

The other week, I saw the plates wobbling. I knew that my mindset wasn’t quite where it should be, and I felt down and sad. My brain felt overwhelmed, with too much life noise coming at it every day. When you have so many things spinning at once, things start to get neglected. The house is a wreck. Jobs I need to do weren’t getting done. Impediments were stacking up and making things damned near impossible. Money issues felt more concerning. The yard was overgrown and an absolute disaster. Summer wasn’t feeling summery at all as the fun, lazy time I remembered as a kid. The heat was making me aggravated easily. I was antsy, but I was not sure about what. Suddenly all the little jobs I had been neglecting in order to get things done appeared insurmountable, and I froze not quite sure where to begin.

My bestie who had knee surgery was home, so I headed to her house one night for a chat. I laid out some of my worries to get her advice. That’s one of the best parts of having a blunt, brutally honest bestie who has known you your whole life…you can show up and vent your worries and they will give you their unadulterated opinion with no sugarcoating.

She gave me some ideas for resolving the money issue I had, told me I need to pick a starting place and chip away at each job one at a time, and had a very frank conversation about some of the people in my life and that I need to circle my wagons and just quietly watch their behaviors because actions don’t lie like words do. She also recommended I tell my husband I was overwhelmed. I left her house feeling determined to try some of her advice and seeing how it goes.

I admitted to my family how I was feeling. I spent my weekend tackling jobs that had been rather neglected with all my busyness, starting with the back yard. I mowed, I weeded, I pulled out gigantic patches of pricker bushes that had become overgrown and taken over a memorial stone I had received when my mom passed. Our back patio, which had been taken over by vines that were creeping up the house, was cleared and the vines all taken down. I dug, I sweated. Oh how I sweated. I think every fiber of my being was drenched in sweat and smeared with dirt by the time I was done. I felt utterly disgusting when I finished.

But I felt….happier.

My husband tackled a couple of jobs inside. The kids tackled cleaning up their rooms and my son laid down the new rug in my daughter’s room. To be honest, all the work we did is a drop in a bucket to all the jobs we want and need to do around the house, but I still felt like we had been productive. I felt a bit less overwhelmed. I felt inspired to keep going.

While I was weeding, pruning and clearing, I let my mind wander, and it brought me to some conclusions. I talk a lot. I listen sometimes to engage, rather than just listen. I need to work on that. Not only because I could do with being a better listener, but I could also stand to be a better observer. The more I mulled over the words of my best friend, the more I realized that while I had been listening and trusting words, I hadn’t been paying close enough attention to people’s actions. My willingness to always seek the best in everyone was clouding my judgement and causing me to not pay enough attention to actions vs words. People will show you their true selves before they will tell you about their true selves. As I worked, finally not distracted, I started realizing a few things, and I know now I need to make some adjustments. On one level it’s upsetting, but on another, it allows me some freedom without guilt, and I’m feeling it’s a good thing. Silence also allowed me to work determinedly, calmly, and to allow me to see the end goals more clearly. My brain needed the quiet to thrive.

I feel like there is light at then end of my tunnel, so to speak. It’s merely a case of putting one foot in front of the other, quieting my mind, and doing one task at a time. Not everything needs to be done at once. After so long of having attention on everyone else and everything else, I need to focus on me and mine, and make good choices going forward. I need to feel and work in the quiet so I can hear and see what is important. Will my house be spotless and everything be perfect? No, I don’t see that being the case. But I can see me getting through some tasks to creating a place I feel calmer in. I don’t need perfection. I need peace.

Wish me luck as I tackle the mountains that currently feel so insurmountable. One step at a time, I’m determined to scale them.

Oh yes, and I shall reward myself in a few weeks with a lazy, fun filled vacation with some of my beloved tribe. I can’t wait.

The Godsmack Redemption, Old Friends, New Friends, Travel and Sleep

This past weekend seemed far longer than it really was, all in a great way though. The first thing on my list of things to do was to hit up a bucket list item after almost 20 years of trying. I’m perfectly aware it’s a silly thing, sort of ridiculous, but I wanted to do it all the same….I wanted to attend a Godsmack concert. Now, there’s a story behind this. Almost 20 years ago, before I met my husband, I had a boyfriend I’ll call E. E and I got along great, but it just fizzled, and we both realized the other wasn’t “our person” for the long haul, so we split up. It was an easy, congenial split, but it just so happened to come about the day we had purchased tickets to a Godsmack concert. At the time I really liked Godsmack, and I was excited to go. That being said, since I sort of initialized the split, I offered the tickets to him to go. It seemed like the kind, good faith kind of thing to do at the time. He took them and thanked me. I won’t lie, it stung to hand them over, because while he was looking forward to going, I think I definitely wanted to go more. Still, I told him to have a great time, and to tell me all about it.

AND HE NEVER ATTENDED THE CONCERT.

I was so pissed at myself once I found that out. I’ve spent much of my life doing things for others at my own expense, and for the most part it never bothers me, but this one did. Man, it stung, because I had so looked forward to going and the tickets had now gone to waste. The years rolled by, and I never did make it to a Godsmack show. I did attend a concert to raise money for Veterans and Godsmack played a song or two. They sounded great, just like they did on the album, if not better, and I loved the nostalgia of hearing a couple of the songs I knew and loved. It was only a couple of songs, but I remembered the lost tickets and jokingly told my friends about being #TeamBitter. Fast forward to a week ago, when some friends were talking about going to their concert since the band was on tour and tickets were still available. My husband, knowing the story of my unused tickets so many years ago, treated me to a ticket. The show was Friday, and it was fantastic! A big group of us went and we had a blast.

Saturday I woke up tired from the night before, realized it was Saturday, and rolled over to joyously sleep in. That’s before I remembered I had to pick up my daughter from a sleepover within a half hour. I picked her up, headed home, and mowed the lawn…in the powerful sun on an extremely hot day. In no time I was red faced, sweating, lightheaded, and had to get into a cold shower right away and lie down. I was a mess. I’ve never been good in the sun. The next adventure on the list was a birthday party, so the kids and I headed off. After a lovely time there, I headed out to meet up with friends from high school I hadn’t seen in decades. I had a fantastic time. The hostess lived in possibly one of the most beautiful houses I have ever entered. Absolutely stunning. The last time I had seen her she had gone through a divorce and was trying to get reestablished. She met an amazing man, fell madly in love, combined their blended families and married. I was thrilled to see her get the fairy tale. Another friend was entering into a divorce. That’s the thing about my age. For a while everyone was getting married, then having kids, but now I’m at the age where many people I know are getting divorced and their lives are going through big changes. It reminds me how lucky I am to have my husband and that we are happy, as I see many people who are in marriages where they don’t have the same level of happiness. It is nice though that all of us can reconnect after so many years and we all just fall into conversation like it was yesterday. I even met some new people there and each one seemed awesome and funny. We spent the night talking, laughing and just chilling out. It was refreshing and easy. I left feeling thoroughly relaxed.

I came home and collapsed into bed, exhausted but having enjoyed myself immensely.

Sunday we headed off to Newport RI for a day’s adventure with family. It’s an annual trip we do now and it’s probably one of my favorite days of the year. Sometimes it’s hard to get chunks of time off and the funds for a multi day trip, so a day trip is ideal. Newport for us is that trip. If you haven’t been to Newport, it’s a beautiful, quaint seaside town in Rhode Island. There are loads of shops, places to eat, bars, and always plenty to do. If you’re tired of the shopping and eating, there are the Newport Mansions, which are stunningly beautiful and amazing to tour. I haven’t done the mansions in years, but I think perhaps next year we may do a weekend away there and will go see them again. The ONLY issue with that is that Newport hotels lean towards being insanely expensive. I suppose that’s to be expected with the area.

Now there are two things we try to do each trip. The first is a boat cruise. When you go to Newport there are lots of stands where you can book a boat cruise around the harbor and out near the bridge. They aren’t too expensive and there are different types of offerings. We’ve done the Rum Runner tour twice, once for a tour down by the mansions and Jackie O’s former digs during the day, and another sunset complimentary drink cruise. (The punch has pretty much no alcohol so I’d recommend the beer). During the day cruise, our captain rattled off all sorts of interesting facts about the houses and areas we passed, where the night cruise was done without a running commentary except to point out one amazing photo op. The other cruise we did was on Amazing Grace, which has more of a ferry feel but is fairly small. We sat at the back on the lower level, but most folks prefer upstairs. We stuck closer to the on board bar. A gin and tonic, waves and a beautiful view had me happy as a clam. The OTHER favorite stop that we make annually is dinner at the Red Parrot. This restaurant, a staple in Newport, has a massive menu where just about everything is delicious. Hubby and I started off with Shrimp and flatbreads, and then dove into a delicious filet mignon topped with lobster scampi, served with sauteed spinach and fluffy mashed potatoes. We capped off the meal by sharing a key lime pie. Every one of us left feeling full and having thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

There are plenty of other great restaurants there too although I didn’t get to go this trip aside from the Pearl. Brick Alley used to serve an amazing caprese salad, however I’m not quite sure if they still do. Buskers is a favorite for an Irish breakfast (tastes like home) and a pint of Guiness. Black Pearl is known for their chowder. ( I enjoyed it but wish it had more “chunks” of clams). All in all, Newport is great for seafood and you’re bound to find something you like in one of their many restaurants.

After a trek to pick up the kids and head home, we all collapsed into bed, sleepy from a long, fun filled weekend. Morning came before I was quite ready, but I am already looking forward to the next adventure. This year has been quite filled with travel, shows and adventures, and the more I go to places and do new things, the more I crave. I’m in a mood to declutter and put my pennies away for another trip somewhere, even if it’s a day trip or a quick weekend jaunt.

Astraphobia and “The Incident”.

I remember the days when I would love to curl up in bed and watch the thunder and lightening outside my window. I loved the way the sky would light up in such a way I could see the silhouette of the tree branches blowing in the wind. I found it relaxing. Fast forward to my late teens and that feeling changed into fear. Now, the fear is real, but it stemmed from what is now a pretty funny story. Y’all know I love a good self deprecating story, so here we go. After all, if you can’t laugh at yourself, how can you laugh at other folks (easily is the answer, btw).

Now, I can’t remember if I was living with my parents full time when this happened, or whether I was home from college. I know I was in my room at my parent’s house at the time, which we jokingly refer to as “the Big House”. The Big House was so named because it was a pretty big place that was, in all honesty, far bigger than the 3 of us in our little family needed, but my parents chose it when we moved to Virginia so we’d have plenty of space for people to visit. My room had it’s own bathroom, which I loved. (What I loved less after we sold it was finding out there were walking paths behind the house which I never knew about. Since the house backed up to protected forest land, I never worried about shutting the shades. I’m sure I gave some walkers a scary sight as I shuffled around my room in my underwear.) The house itself sat on a cul de sac in a nice neighborhood.

Anywho, it was the middle of the night, and I awoke having to use the bathroom. I shuffled into the bathroom, and turned on the low light. I sat down to pee, and was sort of leaning with my chin in my hand because I was groggy and half asleep. I was faintly aware of what sounded like rain outside the window that was right behind the toilet. (Why would you put the toilet right in front of a window?) but the shade was down so I couldn’t see anything. Suddenly there was a bang. Not a little bang, might you, but a BANG that would have scared the crap out of me, except for the fact that I felt something hit the back of my head with such force it knocked me out for a second. I opened my eyes and realized I was laying on the floor.

Now, I’m not sure if it was being half asleep, being clocked in the head, or what, but I pulled up my pjs and began to scream…..that I had been shot. My parents, awokened from a sound sleep came running from down the other end of the hall, terrified. They didn’t know what had happened, only that was screaming I had gotten shot in the back of the head. With no blood, no physical signs of being shot, they weren’t quite sure what had happened, and tried to calm me down, thinking perhaps I had a nightmare. I noted my radio had turned on by itself. my clock was flashing. My dad went in the bathroom and found the cause of my injury. It turns out that lightning had hit the house and traveled through the duct work. It hit my bathroom exhaust fan and blasted the cover off, which smacked me in the back of the head, knocking me out,

So there’s that.

Aren’t you glad you kept reading to see my embarrassing story lead to that?

The cover itself and a black flash of a soot mark on it.

My awkwardness holds no bounds, I tell you.

Flash forward several years, and lightning hit the house again. This time, it hit while my mom was home alone, aside from an electrician. My parents had decided to renovate and sell the house so they could retire, travel, and be closer to me. Unfortunately, as soon as they started the demo on the master bedroom and kitchen, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My father wanted to halt everything, but my mother persuaded him to keep going with the reno, thinking he may want to sell the house anyway after she died. With their room being under construction, and me having moved out, she was staying in my old room. An electrician was down in the basement working on the panels and during the storm, he saw a fireball on the side where the chimney was. Panicked, he ran upstairs and threw the door open to the room where my mom was. She calmly got up and went to see what had happened, checking on the master bedroom. There, a giant mirror on the wall where the chimney was had exploded. Glass was everywhere, and the frame was smoldering. She put it out. She looked out the window and the deck on both sides of the chimney was smashed up, with bricks lying everywhere. The lightning had blown about 3-4 feet off the chimney. All the electric on one side of the house was shot. It was a mess. “Is anything on fire?” she asked the electrician. He responded no, and she headed back to bed. The electrician was stunned. “Not much I can do about it. I’ll call my husband and have him call someone” she said, and got back into bed. The electrician was so freaked out by it all he left. To this day I am so grateful she was in my room, and not hers, as with all the flying glass it could have been a very bad situation.

It didn’t occur to me that these events had triggered a fear in me until a few years ago. My husband and I were in the car during a bad lightning storm, and I had a full on panic attack. Frozen in place, I couldn’t exit the car. I burst into tears and had trouble breathing. He looked at me shocked, as he’d never seen me in that state, but calmly talked me down until I felt like myself again. I used to suffer from anxiety when I was younger but now panic attacks are almost non existent and I feel like I finally have a grasp on the anxiety to where it no longer bothers me much. That moment shook me. I’m not used to having that kind of fear anymore.

Now all that being said, I have kids. And kids pick up on our thoughts, fears etc. This means I have to hold it together as much as possible and not freak out when there is a bad lightning storm. I don’t want them to take on that fear if possible. So I plaster a smile on my face and get through it. They know I’m nervous around lightning, but they don’t know how deep the fear runs. As I’ve been writing this, a big storm is passing through, and my cat and I are giving each other knowing, uncomfortable looks every time the thunder booms and the sky lights up.

Still better than thinking I got shot in the head though.