Monday, October 31, 2011

From the Mouths of Babes

At my Grandma’s funeral, my mom’s cousin gave the sermon and talked about a book where a little boy goes to Heaven and comes back to tell us all about it. The title of the book says it all – “Heaven is For Real.”


That’s not an affiliate link up there, I just wanted to include it if you were interested in reading more about the book.

When you lose someone close to you, you rely on your faith to get you through. You remember that your loved one is now in a better place, in Heaven, where there is no pain. Reading through this four-year-old’s account of what Heaven is like made me laugh through the tears. I don’t want to give away any details if you end up reading the book, but wow, it makes you rethink every notion you have about Heaven and definitely reinforces the others.

For those who are grieving, or just curious how Heaven really stacks up against our imagination, this is a great read. And I wasn’t paid to say that.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Road Trip to South Bend

Last Thursday, the day after the Cardinals game, Mom flew up to St. Louis so we could drive up to South Bend on Friday for a Notre Dame football game! I was so excited – I had never seen the Fighting Irish play in person before!

We’ve always cheered for Mizzou when they play, because that was the nearest college football to Dad growing up. But there’s something about Notre Dame – that’s where Dad met Mom in law school. So when Mom said she had an extra ticket to the big ND-USC game, I jumped at the chance to go. Road trip, here we come!

After six hours on the road, we met up with Mom’s friends and headed towards campus for the pep rally on the Irish Green.

Notre Dame vs USC Weekend in South Bend (2)

They even had a trojan horse with an Irish army inside! Hehe.

Notre Dame vs USC Weekend in South Bend (7)

The mascot was a guy dressed up in a Leprechaun outfit, complete with a shillelagh! Awesome.


Even though we were all bundled up, it actually wasn’t as cold as we had been warned it was! For the pep rally, we didn’t wear our long underwear and we were fine. The next day, however, since we knew we wouldn’t be back to the hotel in between walking around campus, the tail gate and the game, we opted to wear our long underwear the whole day. We were actually hot and ended up carrying around our coats rather than wearing them. But I’ll take that over 30 degrees and raining, any day!


So the next day started out with breakfast at the hotel and then walking around campus. Man, I know that I visited this place when I was looking at colleges and I know that I loved my experience at SLU, but this would have been an awesome place to go to school. Other than the cold. And the snow.

Who doesn’t want to see Touchdown Jesus giving you the ok to run for a touchdown in the stadium? This mural is painted on the side of the main library on campus and from one side of the football stadium, you can see Jesus lifting his hands up like a referee, hence, Touchdown Jesus!


Notre Dame also has a beautiful administration building with a big gold dome on top. I think Mom said that the statue is of Our Lady of the Lake, the full name of the college – Notre Dame du Lac.


After a good walk around campus and a trip to the Grotto and the lake, we headed to my mom’s friend’s tailgate. I have never been to a real tailgate and it was a blast! But it made me wish that I drank beer.

Finally, it was time to head to the stadium and find our seats.


Once we sat down and I had this look over the field, I burst into tears. My dad would have so loved to have been there to see his Fighting Irish take on USC! It’s a big rivalry and so everyone was really pumped up. There are still things that make me hurt so intensely that my dad isn’t there to experience with me. After the Cards won the first game of the World Series this year, I wanted to pick up the phone and tell him how awesome it was. It feels like a sucker punch when I realize that I can’t do that anymore.

But I had my mom there and we got some good pictures. It was good to be there with her.


I’ve always been a sucker for marching bands – and the Fighting Irish was no exception! Their lines were perfectly straight and the sound was spectacular.


We were given rally towels when we walked in and the student section really got into using them – it was neat to watch!


The game was pretty good to watch, even though our team didn’t do as well as we had hoped. But we got to see the band form the ND logo during halftime!


Notre Dame lost but we had a blast anyway.  What more could you want from a road trip weekend?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall Scarf Swap–the Reveal!

Oh how I love getting mail. And I love shopping. So blog swaps are just up my alley – I get to do both!

I signed up for the Fall Scarf Swap at The Adventures of Mrs. Smith and was paired with Rebecca of I Wanna Be a Domestic Goddess.

I forgot to take a picture of her scarf before I mailed it, but I’m sure she’s going to post about it soon. I wrapped it up in pink tissue paper and sent it off, while waiting for mine to arrive in the mail.

My husband brought me the mail yesterday, while I was home sick, and sure enough, I had a package from Rebecca! I was too excited to find the real camera before I tore into the packaging.

Blog swap 1

My scarves were wrapped up in pink tissue paper too! Even cuter were the cupcake stickers on there! Love it.

Blog swap 2

The scarf on the left is actually more pink in real life, but that’s an iPhone camera for you. I love the patterned scarf because I don’t think I would ever pick that one out for me, but seeing it in person, I think I’m going to find LOTS of outfits to wear it with!

I so love getting things in the mail and participating in this blog swap was so much fun. I hope that there are more coming up – besides getting things for oneself, it’s fun to find other bloggers out there through the swap.

Check out the other lovely ladies who participated at the scarf reveal post.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

World Series–that’s a winner!

That’s one to cross off the bucket list – watching a World Series game in Baseball Heaven. Smile

World Series 2011 Game 1 Cards vs Rangers (1)

It was the best game and not just because we won!

World Series 2011 Game 1 Cards vs Rangers (6)

“I’m here for the toasted ravioli” – nice sign, even for a Rangers fan!

World Series 2011 Game 1 Cards vs Rangers (9)

Scott McCreery, winner of American Idol, sang the National Anthem. I thought he did a really great job!

World Series 2011 Game 1 Cards vs Rangers (16)

Our seats in the bleachers were awesome. I brought a blanket to sit on and one to sit under. It was just annoying when the guy next to me went and got a beer – because I got really cold with the wind blowing and him not there to block it!

We were up and down all night but on the final pop up that the Cards caught to win the game, it was so worth it.

Now they’re looking to win it at Busch Stadium – I’m going to quote the Rally Squirrel and tell you to “Go Nuts!”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Go Cards!

I have been a Cardinals fan since I was a very little girl.

See? I have proof!

Ok, so I borrowed Dad’s jersey back then. But I got one of my own soon after. I lived in St. Louis when growing up, from age two until about third grade when we headed to Texas. San Antonio, Houston and Arlington to be exact. Baseball was always around, but the Cards were always the favorite, even when we watched the local teams.

The entire family has been saying these past few days that my dad has a hand in this year’s World Series contestants. You see, the Cards have always been his team, after growing up here. There’s even a family story that Dad was pulled out of seventh grade (I think) religion class by his uncle because somehow they had scored 1964 World Series tickets at the Busch Stadium II. It’s built up to lore and Dad loved telling that story.

But when we moved to Texas, it was ok to route for the Rangers because they were the American League team and didn’t directly compete with our beloved Cardinals that often.

It took Dad a year and a few months since getting to Heaven, but he was finally able to get St. Peter’s ear and arrange for this match up. I know that he’s sitting up there, score card in hand, pencil at the ready, a cold O’Douls next to him, ready for that first pitch at Busch Stadium III.

And his daughter will be in the bleachers, screaming her lungs out, knowing he would have LOVED to be there with her.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Scarf Swap!


My good blog friend Mrs. Jones posted on Twitter about a blog swap coming up. It’s for fall scarves!!! I absolutely loved participating in my first swap, when I get an awesome keychain from New Teacher Wife. You can see my post about it here.

So when I saw Mrs. Smith’s blog about the swap, I definitely wanted to participate. If you love scarves as much as I do, please join in! I promise that it will be fun. Who doesn’t like shopping for gifts and then getting one in the mail in return? I love getting mail – but only when it’s a present.

Go sign up now! I promise it’ll be fun. Really!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Car Saga

This is a continuation of the car saga.

Last Sunday, we had to take the car to the shop AGAIN because it was doing the same scary check-engine-light-on and shaking-uncontrollably and losing-quarts-of-oil-at-a-time-over-few-miles. NOT FUN. Monday morning, we were told the car needs a new engine. After $2,400 for the first fix in January and then other smaller fixes over the past few months and countless mornings when I stopped by to have them record the oil level in an attempt to discover the source of the leak, the mechanic decided a new engine was the only solution. We were losing compression in the other cylinders and without a solution, the problem would just keep coming back throughout the whole engine and so, we should just replace it.

Then Tuesday morning happened and I was off to Kansas City in a rental car for the week. I went back and forth with my cousin (a car guy) and his friend (a mechanic) and a second cousin (a big motorcycle/car guy) and finally at the end of the week, decided that we did indeed need the new engine but that we needed a second opinion before spending that kind of money.

Husband was a doll and dealt with getting my car from the one shop to the other shop earlier this week to let them do their thing and give us the second opinion – it was the same as the first. A new engine, here we come!

Because the rental car was due back Tuesday, and we couldn’t get up to the airport then, I submitted a Priceline quote for a new (read: cheaper) rental car for the rest of the time the car would be in the shop. I picked it up yesterday morning. And then promptly forgot how to drive a car.

The rental car I got was a Fiat 500. It was that or a Versa and Husband said I should get the Fiat because it was fun and small and he thought it would be fun to drive. Ok, so that’s what we picked. I got into the car and tested all the buttons and figured out how to adjust the mirrors – you know, the usual.

Husband then took off, and I drove the car off the rental car lot and thought everything was fine. When I headed towards the highway, I noticed that the car was awfully loud – as in, sounded like a diesel in my tiny little car. The engine was really close to the dashboard, though, since the car was so small, and I just thought that was it. But when I increased my speed, it got louder and louder and almost red-lined when I was getting towards 40 mph. VERY strange. I called Husband and told him what was going on and he said it must be because the engine was small and he was sure it was fine.

It was very hard getting the engine up to speed, and I noticed the dial in the middle of the dash did keep going from “1” to “2” to “3” when I pushed it. The gear shift also had a “+” and “-” next to the “D”. When I accidentally hit one of those, it changed the numbers in the dial. So perhaps I’m accidentally driving a manual? This is probably not a good thing. In order to get to work, I kept hitting the gear shift into 2 or 3 to keep it from redlining when going over 40 mph. I arrived at work in one piece, thank goodness.

After some Googling, I realized that the Fiat 500 has a fancy dual engine – it can be automatic or semiautomatic. But NO WHERE could I find instructions on HOW TO SWITCH IT  from one to the other. Even a call to the front desk of the lovely rental car company didn’t solve the problem (her solution if I wasn’t happy with the car? Bring it back and they’ll switch it out).  If you car can go from automatic to SOMETHING OTHER THAN AUTOMATIC, perhaps your front desk clerks should be able to explain that to a driver. Or maybe leave the manual in the car. Something.

Husband came up to my office to switch cars with me because I was so worried I was going to strip the engine or do something horrible to the poor car. Besides, he wanted that particular car in the first place, and he was excited about driving it. In about two seconds of him driving the car – the time it takes to pull out of the spot and go around the line of cars parked in the lot – he rolled down the window and called out to me that he had fixed it.


Let me explain with the picture above – see the D? See the extra area to the right of the D where you can put the gear shift? There’s also the plus and minus there. To put the car into semiautomatic mode and be able to change gears without messing with a clutch (which the car doesn’t have), you put the gear shift as close to the D as possible, so you can hit up and down to change gears. To be an automatic? You pull down and go around those other gears but you DON’T push it closer to the D.

Now I’m a smart lady, I think. My husband was able to figure it out in seconds. What in the world is wrong with a car maker/rental company that they wouldn’t make this easier to figure out?!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goodbyes Don’t Get Easier


Things have been quiet around here, I know. I’m sure you kept checking in, expecting to see the continuation of the love story of me and my dear Law School Husband. Unfortunately, a bit after I published last Tuesday’s post, I was at work, preparing for a big event, when I received a phone call from my mother. She was in Kansas City, with my grandmother her mother, who was now in the hospital and not expected to last 48 hours.

After sobbing a bit in my boss’ office, I made the decision to leave the event in my capable collegues’ hands and high tailed it across the state to be with my family.

You see, my mother is one of two daughters of my grandmother. I have one cousin – so my grandmother has one granddaughter and two grandsons. We are a very tight knit family on that side. My cousin recently bought a house near my grandma and near his mother’s apartment so everyone could be closer together. They spend a lot of time together.

I am so grateful that I was able to get a rental car quickly (the Saturn is in the shop again, which is a story for another day), prep my coworkers about the event and drive across the state so quickly (I may have broken a few speed limits along the way).

When I got to the hospital, I found her room and was able to see her while she was still lucid. It was truly a blessing to be able to say goodbye in person.

We spent the afternoon chatting in between her morphine shots and her dosing, and I got to spend time with my cousin and mother in the hospital room. It was a late night but my brother and I finally went to hotel room to get some sleep, but early Wednesday morning my mother called us back to the hospital. Grandma was in a lot of pain, having even more trouble breathing and she was thinking that she might not last the day.

At one point on Wednesday, the pain management doctor suggested a test to determine where the bad pain was so they could get a better pain medicine for her to deal with it. When the admitting doctor explained the path that it would take us down, and we asked Grandma what she wanted, she said as clear as day - “I want to go to heaven.”

And so she would, a few hours later. Those might have been the last words she said, as we think back on it. She was given a bed in the hospice wing of another hospital and transferred around dinnertime on Wednesday. We got settled in the new hospital room after dinner and she started going downhill even faster.

By 10 pm that evening, the hospice nurse suggested we call anyone who might want to say good bye at that point – she was going to be leaving us in just mere hours, according to them. Her husband of 14 years, my step-grandfather, was able to say his goodbyes by the nightly news.

And then, thirty minutes into Thursday, she passed into her Eternal Reward. She was reunited with her first husband, my grandfather, her twin sister and all her other siblings, and of course, my father. We can only imagine what a reunion they are having right now!


My apologies in the horrible Photoshop job, but privacy, ya know

Sunday morning, we piled into a town car from the funeral home and made the trek to Northern Missouri to inter my grandmother’s ashes in the family plot. Her family has relations in the cemetery that go back to the homesteading of the state – we even found their plots. I love that I can walk through that cemetery and see people who are listed in my genealogy plots. It really does make you feel connected to my past. The sun was shining, the weather was beautiful, and we got to meet some of Grandma’s  high school classmates (!) that came to the cemetery to pay their respects. We sang Amazing Grace and it was about as perfect as it could be.


My grandmother has been on oxygen almost as long as I can remember. My earlier memories of her were of course cooking me breakfast when we visited (always a treat – real bacon grease!), reading at the kitchen table (we used to have an awesome booth around their table too before the renovations), and bringing back garage sale finds (I think that’s why I get the thrifting bug). She smoked for a long time and her being sick was just a part of my life for a long time.


Being with her as she passed, surrounded by her daughters and grandchildren, made me so happy that I was able to get there in time. We know that she is in a better place, that we grieve not for her, but for us, those who are left behind.

But planning another funeral only 16 months after my father’s – not a fun time. I am quite done with bad news delivered via phone and funeral homes. No more for a while, please.

My cousin read this poem at the burial on Sunday. It pretty much sums up the way we all feel.

Poem by Unknown

God looked around His garden and found an empty place

He then looked down upon the earth and saw your tired face

He put His arm around you and He lifted you to rest.

God’s garden must be beautiful, He only takes the best.

He knew that you were suffering, He knew you were in pain.

He knew that you would never get well on earth again.

He saw the road getting rough and hills were hard to climb.

So He closed your weary eyelids and whispered “Peace is thine.”

It broke our hearts to lose you, but you didn’t go alone

For part of us went with you the day God took you home.

Though the smile is gone forever, and your hands we cannot touch

We will always have sweet memories of the one we loved so much.