slowing down

I’m a very social person. I love being busy, doing things, going places.  But Greg wasn’t like that and when he was alive, we had a fairly slow life. He worked 2nd shift and I chose to/was able to be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always considered myself lucky for that and very thankful to Greg for working so hard that I could be home. Since Squirmy and Squeaky were young, we didn’t have to wake up for school, work, anything, so we rarely felt rushed. The girls were our alarm clock and they would climb into our bed in the morning to play under the sheets, read books or watch a video if Greg and I weren’t ready to get up…zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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Greg and Squirmy at Horicon Marsh

We were able to choose if we wanted to go to a play group or story time that day, wander to the park or around our yard, ride bikes, stop over at a neighbor’s for lemonade (Hi Jan!), without being rushed to get to some class or event. And that felt good.

When Greg got sick, things sped up. And they haven’t really slowed down much since.

A week or two ago, as we were driving from one event to another, I asked the girls, “Do you like doing all this stuff and going all these places or would you like to slow down?”  Nine times out of then, when I ask them both a question they say something different. But not this time. They both said, with enthusiasm, “SLOW DOWN!”.

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Greg and Squeaky at 4th of July in Monona

Yeah, I agree. This is all great stuff and I’m thankful we live in a community where so much is available and we have lots of friends we want to see, but sometimes I can hear Greg telling me to slow down a little, stop planning so many things! I think of the times that I left him with the girls to run an errand (thinking he would take them somewhere or do something eventful with them) and they would be in the same place I left them in, still playing, reading books, flopping around, happy as clams.

I’m hoping the move will help us slow down a bit, something I need help doing.

So, here’s to taking a deep breath and slowing down.

xxx,

Mariah

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kid photographers

I let the girls take pictures with my camera when we were out for a walk to the park this week. Up until now, I haven’t let them touch my camera (they have an old one they play with) but since there isn’t anybody else to take a picture with me in it, I figured it could be time.

Squirmy knows how to take a picture pretty well so she snapped this shot of me and the Squeak on her first try. Squeaky’s pretty happy but Mama’s hair is being pulled and is in pain – can you see it in my face?

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Squeaky cut off Squirmy’s head a few times and needed a little coaching but when she got this one, she shrieked, “This one is great!” I agree.

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We’re having a beautiful fall here and have been fortunate to have people help with the girls (and take them outside all afternoon – thanks Christine!) while I’m stuck in the house most of the time organizing and packing with more helpers (thanks Auntie Dawn and Uncle Wayne!).

We already pick up the keys to our apartment next week!

Happy Friday!

xxx,

Mariah

 

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goodbye to BLOO

Greg named his car Blue. But since the correct spelling wasn’t available for Wisconsin license plates, he settled for “BLOO”. He loved this car. He bought it when we first started dating, it was like a fresh start for him. Everything about it was bright and cheerful. The light blue exterior, the light leather interior. (Do I sound like a car commercial?) It helped that he always had good music playing in it too. It was the car he took me for dates in when we first got together and after having kids and driving the minivan, it once again became our “date car”.

I sold BLOO last weekend. :(

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I was just about to give up after it had been on Craigslist for over a week with absolutely no interest. I was prepared to slash the price to just get rid of it and had arranged for a friend to take it and sell it for thousands less. Literally, two seconds after making plans for him to come and get it that evening, I got a text from a guy wanting to see the car asap. And that’s when I broke down. It seemed like I had been waiting and waiting to sell his car and was getting anxious about where to store it, how to take care of it, that I wouldn’t be able to drive it enough (It NEEDS to be driven, you know!), etc. But it was too real that someone wanted to see it at that moment and I was overwhelmed. I broke down in front of the girls. Squeaky came over and rubbed my back. Squirmy walked away from me but I realized she was going to get me a tissue. We talked about it and then Mama felt a little better. I also got in touch with a neighbor who came over to help since I’ve never sold a car myself before. Thanks again, Scott!

So, about the buyer. There is a connection with his name. My grandpa’s name was Kenneth. I never knew him because he died at age 46. Greg’s middle name was Kenneth and he ALSO died at age 46. The rabbi at Greg’s funeral was Kenneth. And when the guy who came to look at BLOO last Friday shook my hand and said, “Hi. I’m Ken”, I wanted to look up into the sky with my hands outstretched and yell… “Okay, Baby – Thank you!” …but I didn’t want to freak the people out so I just did that yelling thing in my head.

Sometimes it sounds like a stretch when I try to explain it to someone, but it’s a connection that gave me comfort that Greg’s car was going to exactly the right person.

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Squeaky*, Squirmy and I took a drive in BLOO and posed for some pictures before it was gone.

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The girls yelled, “Bye Daddie’s car!” as Ken drove it away.

xxx,

Mariah

*I bought Squeaky a new winter jacket and snow pants that I had her try on. She wouldn’t take it off. saying, “I’m wearing it until winter!” So I let her wear it outside until she started sweating and it was sticking to her. :)

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one last time!

We move at the end of this month (ZOINKS!!!!) and there are so many things we want to do while we’re still living here…one last time! Last week, we went to Ella’s Deli for dinner to have matzo ball soup and ride the carousel. We really haven’t been there many times so it’s not that nostalgic to us but the last time we were there, the girls discovered they love matzo ball soup. So it’s one restaurant they’ll be eating something other than mac-n-cheese, grilled cheese or chicken nuggets!  Plus, there’s the carousel!

We talked and slurped our soup (more slurping!) but mostly looked around at all the crazy things all over the ceiling and walls. Bart Simpson was ‘flying’ over our table while we ate and Betty Boop was swinging just behind us. That place is a trip.

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In the past, Squeaky refused to ride a carousel horse (she would always sits on the bench for little tykes) but just as it started going, she screeched, “I want to ride on a horse!”. As she was climbing on, she told me, “I might be a little scared but I’m brave.” What a big girl! We were the only people on the carousel and when it was done, we all wanted to go AGAIN…so we did.

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With all the work it takes to organize and coordinate and pack up to move,  it’s even fun for me to pack in all this fun stuff…one last time!

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xxx,

Mariah

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family drawings

My grandma had surgery about a week ago and weren’t able to visit so we decided to make pictures to send for her hospital room. It was the first time, since Greg died, that I had drawn a picture of our family. I first drew the three of us and it looked all wrong. I couldn’t just leave him out, he is still so much a part of our family. So, I stared at the paper for a minute and then decided to add him…in the sky. Squirmy said, “Make him laying on the clouds!” So I did. :) Squirmy chose to draw a hand holding a bouquet of flowers and Squeaky drew a rainbow with lots of ‘words’ on it.

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Have a happy fall weekend.

xxx,

Mariah

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a birthday morning idea

I’ve been really busy packing (our house sold!) so I didn’t have time for anything real thoughtful today but I found something I could show you. Okay? This is not an original idea, I found it on Pinterest awhile ago. But it was easy and fun for a birthday morning – a balloon avalanche!

Squirmy turned five last month and I wanted to do something for her when she woke up. So, I blew up balloons to put in her doorway so they would spill out when she opened the door in the morning. I held them inside her door frame by taping up a crepe paper “web”. I told her that there was going to be a surprise when she opened her door in the morning. And then I forgot to get balloons! So I dug through the house and this was every balloon we had. I had wanted to do more so it was dramatic but hey, it was still exciting…kind of. :)

Squirmy opens the door!

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After she realized what had just happened, I told her she could run through the ‘ticker tape’ crepe paper while Squeaky and I cheered for her. That was her favorite part.

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She is usually pretty mellow but I’m positive she felt like this on this inside! And she did tell lots of people about it that day.

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So there you go, a fun idea to do for someone, big or small, on their birthday.

xxx,

Mariah

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365 reasons why i love you

12-25-11photos 067For Hanukkah in 2011, Squirmy, Squeaky and I gave Greg a jar filled with little pieces of paper filled with 365 reasons why we loved him.

I have never seen him so excited about a gift. He held onto that jar and carried it with him for days, like a little kid. It ended up on his nightstand and he would, for months and months, open up that jar in the morning while we snuggled in bed, to start reading. The girls would help him pick them out and he’d read each one out loud…well, not the x-rated ones! They would get so excited when one was from them.

I spent a lot of time on this long list. I thought about all the obvious reasons I loved Greg which was a long list but I was struggling to not repeat myself after 250 or something like that. Then I started thinking about the things that made him who he is, his quirks and even things that annoyed me about him! And it was ALL of these little things, rolled into one that made him HIM and acknowledging them to him was probably why this gift meant so much.

Here are some of my favorites (sorry, it got kind of long…at least I’m not making you read all 365!):

  • I love you because…you think that ‘getting up’ in the morning is having your eyes open. – Red
  • I love you because…not only do you NOT leave the toilet seat up, you even put the cover down.  – Red
  • I love you because…you do funny dances.  – Red
  • I love you because…you are good-hearted.  – Red
  • I love you because…you always make me laugh when I’m supposed to be mad at you!  – Red
  • I love you because… you don’t care what others think of you.  – Red
  • I love you because…you have a soothing voice. – Red
  • I love you because…you have a martial arts background and would beat someone up for me…if needed. – Red
  • I love you because…you don’t mind when your mother-in-law stays with us.  – Red
  • I love you because…you almost destroy clothing in order to get rid of a visible brand name.  – Red
  • I love you because…you never yell.  – Red
  • I love you because…if I don’t know where you are, you are most likely in bed or on the toilet!  – Red
  • I love you because…you think and act like Larry David…and you’re proud of it!  Sigh.  – Red
  • I love you because…you drive with the sunroof open even when it’s freezing outside! – Red
  • I love you because…you put your hand on my leg when we drive.  – Red
  • I love you because…you comfort our children. – Red
  • I love you because… when you have a chore to do, you go balls to the walls like you’re being timed.  – Red
  • I love you because…you like perfume only 1 squirt at at time…or less.  – Red
  • I love you because…you need to choose the perfect playlist for every, I mean EVERY task. – Red
  • I love you because…you yell goodbye and I love you and wave out your sunroof every day when you leave for work.  – Squirmy and Squeaky
  • I love you because…you throw pizza dough into the air.  – Squirmy
  • I love you because…you stood on your head in Squeaky’s room one time…a long, long time ago.  – Squirmy
  • I love you because… you draw silly faces on my check-in sheet at preschool.  – Squirmy
  • I love you because…you explain things to me. -Squirmy
  • I love you because…you wear your Uffington horse and robot shirts.  – Squirmy
  • I love you because…you don’t discount anything I say.  – Squirmy
  • I love you because…you put a sock on your nose like a nose.  – Squeaky and Squirmy
  • I love you because…you always have time for us. – Squirmy, Squeaky and Red

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following year, Greg made a jar for me. I have our two jars next to each other and will keep them together. It’s another comforting reminder of what we shared.

I highly recommend doing this or something like it for someone you love. It takes a lot of thought, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it for the recipient but it will probably also help you remember the reasons you fell in love. It may even help you discover some things you truly love about that person that you may not have ever realized.

xxx,

Mariah

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for the record

A few weeks ago, I received a summons to report for jury duty. Sigh. Why am I being called for jury duty for the first time NOW?  Well, I think I might know why.

I had to go through a little paperwork to be excused for jury duty this time. But in the process, I was put in touch with the jury clerk in Madison…someone I needed to talk to in order to get the following information…

Back up to spring of 2012…When Greg was summoned for jury duty, I remember he had a good time and was excited to tell me all about it. On some questionnaire he wrote out his age in days instead of years, which is SO Greg! I also remember a story he was very proud to tell me. The judge was asking questions during jury selection and Greg got something about ME put on the record. I have a horrible memory and that’s all I remember about it, but getting my own summons for jury duty brought it back up.

As I was making my case to be excused (I’m moving), I decided to ask the jury clerk if she could look into the records for me, to find anything from the day Greg was there.  I had JUST come across a paper with Greg’s jury pool number and ID on it about a month ago. She told me there is not usually a transcript routinely prepared unless there is a request for one or an appeal but that she would look into it. Twenty minutes later, she called me back and said that she talked to the court reporter and they both remembered Greg and this certain instance in the courtroom. AND SHE FOUND THE TRANSCRIPT. She said, “I’m folding it up right now and sending it to you.” And then I could hear her start to cry. She managed to get the words out, “It’s really nice.” And then I started crying. And then we were both sobbing and I hope she heard me say thank you about ten times before I finally hung up. I felt a little rude but it seemed silly to stay on the phone crying!

It turns out the part about me was what Greg had written on that form, my occupation. So here it is:

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Just another example of what a sweetie Greg was. Thank you for this, Baby.

And thank you to the Dane County jury clerk, Maureen, for treating this as an important matter and finding it for me.

xxx,

Mariah

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carrot soup

This soup is so good that I usually want to put it in a mug and drink it! We call it our slurping soup. It’s a simple recipe but so good. I grabbed it out of a children’s book, called Carrot Soup by John Segal.

We don’t own this book, just checked it out from the library. I’m the mom who checks out 20-30 books at a time. I see other moms telling their kids that they can pick 1 or 2 books and I look at my girls and say, “You can have a hundred books!”. And Squirmy looks at me with a big-eyed, raised-eyebrow smile like we’re doing something so naughty.  That’s as bad as we get!

carrot soup

Carrot Soup

2 lbs carrots, shredded (Sometimes this doesn’t seem like enough so I add 1 or 2 or 10 more carrots! And use a food processor if you don’t want a sore arm – ouch.)
4-14 oz cans chicken broth (if you make your own broth, bless you)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lg onion, chopped
1/4 C butter
5 sprigs fresh dill, chopped (more or less, depending on how dilly you want it)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and celery in butter until celery is getting soft. Add carrots and broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Let cool and blend in batches. Add salt, pepper and dill. Slurp.

This carrot soup is delicious any time of year but it really needs fresh dill so whenever you can get that, MAKE this! While it is a simple recipe to follow, it can get a bit sloppy. I always make a mess and my kitchen is covered with bright orange splotches after all the shredding, pureeing and pouring of the beautiful carrots. I have a mound of dirty dishes from pouring from this pan to that, but with some fabulous soup to slurp up, I don’t even care.

Greg used to add Sriracha and would always offer it to Squirmy and Squeaky too. They still pay homage to Daddie by adding one drop of hot sauce to their soup.

And if you check this book out from our library, the orange splotches on the recipe page may or may not have been from me! I should probably buy my own copy.

Slurp.

xxx,

Mariah

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tremble before greg’s high score

Greg loved video games. He played a lot growing up and was brilliant at Robotron. A friend told us about a Vintage Arcade Week at the Wisconsin Historical Society back in 2007. So of course he went and he won two t-shirts for getting the highest score on Robotron and another game. The girls (especially Squirmy) loved it when he wore one of his “robot shirts” and would always want him to name all the characters. He knew all of them and would list them off one by one!

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One of the places Greg loved going to was Rossi’s Pizza in Monona, WI. When he had the chance to do something by himself (because his wife is not a fan of video games), he’d head to Rossi’s for a slice of  “pie” and some arcade games.

Rossi's pizza

When Greg got sick, we talked a lot about making a list of things that made him happy and he loved; things he could do one last time. But he got so sick, so quickly, he wasn’t able to even start that list.

After a long morning at the hospital sometime in April, Greg was feeling okay, even though he had to wear a mask because of the neutropenia he had developed after chemotherapy. We were planning on getting something to eat on the way home and I asked him if he wanted to go to Rossi’s. He lit up and said, “Really?” like we were going to play hooky or something.  It was so hard during that time because we were gone from Squirmy and Squeaky so much, we were usually so anxious to get back home to them. So this was a big deal, especially since I was the one suggesting it.

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Greg played two or three games but got really tired out from them. While I’ve never really liked video games I have played Ms. Pac Man a few times. So, I played Ms. Pac Man while he leaned back on a stool and watched me. He was impressed that I was getting so into it. Ha! He was happy, doing something he loved. And it was nice that we could share that happy moment together, one last time.

And before we left, I wrote something like, “I love my hubby forever!” on the chalkboard wall in the bathroom.  :)

xxx,

Mariah

 

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