Hello, world!  I’m home!

The family and I spent nine days visiting with friends and relatives throughout the Midwest.  I call this trek our annual Midwestern Tour, as we hit Illinois, Indiana and Michigan in the same week. This time of year the area where I grew up is amazingly beautiful.  You wouldn’t believe how green everything gets.  Even the corn fields look beautiful when I haven’t seen them in a while.

We spent the first couple of days in Chicago, then drove south to central Illinois to visit my grandmother.  We then drove three hours north through Indiana and Michigan to reach my mother, other grandmother and various relatives who live in the area.  It was fast, organized, exhausting and incredibly fun.

Here’s the highlight reel…

10635748_10152955877379574_8811372455149121989_n[2]While in Chicago, my college friend hosted a house party and invited all of our girlfriends from school, along with their families.  We BBQ, drink, laugh and relive our glory years together while our kids run around and make new memories and form new friendships.  This year the adults sent the kids to the basement to play so we could play the game, Cards Against Humanity.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an adult card game of mostly vulgar and inappropriate topics.  If you’re not too uptight and appreciate a dirty joke, then this game is for you.  I will say that I did surprisingly well in the game, and my two most popular cards read, “Altar Boys,” and “Two Midgets Shitting in a Bucket.”  Feel free to use your imagination here as to what these cards may have been in response too.  ūüôā

We visited my grandmother, who is 94 years old.  I’ve always had a very close relationship with my Nanny and she’s an incredible woman.  She is in amazing health but starting to lose some of her short-term memory.  We looked at the same photo album about four times, and although it was new for her every time, I continue to be amazed at her ability to remember details about family history from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Her own mother was born in 1897, and every conversation feels like a history lesson, but one you don’t want to miss.  When I ask her how it feels to be 94, she tells me, “getting old is not for sissies!”

St. Joe lighthouse

St. Joseph, Michigan

While in Michigan, we visited with several of my high school friends, my mother, grandmother, aunt and a few cousins.  I went to my favorite childhood restaurants.  We drove to St. Joe and took the kids to Silver Beach, which is on Lake Michigan.  My kids ran down the pier alongside the lighthouse, disbelieving that Lake Michigan wasn’t as big as our Pacific Ocean back home.  I found a lake house there I would like to buy for the low, low price of 1.6 million dollars.  What a steal!  LOL!  At one point Bryn looked at me, while having dinner outside on a patio overlooking a beautiful lake active with boats and jet-skis, and she said, “I can’t believe you got to grow up here!”

Yeah, I got to grow up there.  It’s funny how so often in life we don’t appreciate what we have until we can look back with some perspective.  Growing up, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of the fields, the lakes or the small community that looked out for each other.  I took it for granted and was more excited to see other places.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that the older I get, the more I appreciate where I come from, and this annual trip means more to me every year.  I want my kids to experience the things I loved about growing up in the Midwest.  Admittedly, my kids have opportunities that I never had as a child, and I’m thankful for that.  But I also want them to appreciate the simplicities of life.  The small things and traditions that add up to big things when you look back on your life and remember what you loved most about your childhood.

lake canoeingI want them to gorge themselves on strawberries while picking them fresh from the fields, and then bring the berries home to make fresh strawberry jam in grandma’s kitchen.  I want them to canoe the rivers of my hometown and camp under the stars, even if it’s just in their grandmother’s back yard.  I want them to catch fire flies,  sit around a bonfire in a field with their cousins, learn to water ski on the lake and marvel at the incredible beauty of the leaves turning in the fall.   I want them to know who their people are, and why, no matter what they choose to do in life, it will always be special that their family comes from this incredible place.

So yeah, it was a good vacation.  ūüėČ



Wanda Says…Blogging Awards, number 3!




It happened again!

A Girl Named Wanda has been nominated for the Real Neat Blog Award by Ray over at The UnsimpleLife.¬† I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Ray through his blog and you should head over and check him out.¬† He has a fun, wicked sense of humor combined with¬†the madness that is raising children, and¬†that makes reading his posts a real good time.¬† Thanks, Ray!

I love blog awards, and let me tell you why…there is validation in being recognized by your peers.¬† To receive¬†that recognition¬†is to know that other¬†people ‘get you.’¬† They pick up what you’re putting down, and they enjoy it.¬† I love knowing that when I write a post and throw it out there for the world to read or discard, that even if only one person hits the like button, or only a handful of people read it or leave a comment, that someone understood what I wanted to say and maybe felt the same way too.¬† Or maybe I made someone laugh with my¬†stupid sense of humor and not-so-artfully placed F-bombs, which is even better.¬† So again, thank you for the recognition, and thanks for reading my Wanda!

Let’s get to the award!

Real Neat Blog Award Rules:

1. Put the Award Logo in your post

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

Here are Seven Questions for me to answer, provided by Ray at The UnsimpleLife….

imagesCIAWB5U7If you could be a sound, what would it be?

Have you ever been at an airshow, and an F-18 fighter jet flew overhead?¬† Have you heard the earth-quaking sound and sonic boom as the jet breaks the sound barrier?¬† Felt the way your bones compressed with the energy and noise?¬† If I could be any sound that’s what I would be.¬† It’s strong and creates an intense¬†physical reaction.¬† It forces your¬†heart to beat a little faster¬†and¬†chills to¬†sweep up and down your body¬†.¬† You can actually¬†feel that sound¬†moving through you¬†and the ground vibrates beneath your feet from the enormity of it.¬† Yeah, I would be a totally fucking badass sonic boom.¬† (My friends who read this are probably like, “You’re more like a sparkler, or a weak firecracker, Wanda.”¬† And I would say, “Oh yeah, screw you guys!¬† I’m a sonic boom and you know it!”).

What is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to you?

Of course, becoming a mother is the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me.¬† If you’re a parent, you get it.¬† If you’re not, then let me describe it as¬†the moment in your life when you truly and irrevocably¬†become part of something bigger than yourself.¬† And I think it’s the most amazing thing in the world.¬† Everyday I look at my kids and think, “I can’t believe I made you.”¬† (And please, God, help me not to screw this up!).

loch nessIf you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

I would go to Scotland.¬† I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland.¬† It’s so beautiful in pictures¬†and I want to explore old, ruined castles and spend hours imagining the lives of the people who lived there.¬† And I want to go to Loch Ness and look for Nessie.¬† I totally believe in Nessie, and I don’t care what anyone says.¬† And just so you know, Mermaids are real, too.

If you could invite any three people (living or dead) to dinner, who and why?

First and second would be both of my grandfathers.¬† Each, in their own way were larger than life and two of the greatest men I’ve ever known.¬† I would introduce them to their great-grandchildren and my husband.¬† To be able to¬†spend an evening with them, just one more time, would be one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.

imagesJJGJ5OSEAnd third, I would invite Linda Carter, but only if she shows up as Wonder Woman, parks the invisible jet in my driveway and demonstrates the Lasso of Truth to my kids.  Wonder Woman was my childhood hero and I still idolize her today.


What is your ideal sandwich, and why?

The Rueben is my favorite sandwich.¬† I love it because it’s¬†sweet, salty, and a little bit sour,¬†just like me.¬† ūüėČ

What is true about you today that would make 10 year old you cry?

As a child I was painfully shy and insecure.¬† I grew up in a dysfunctional household¬†(who didn’t?), which didn’t help with my low self-esteem.¬† It wasn’t until I became a young woman that I began to embrace my own inner-strength¬†and¬†to speak up for myself, as well as others.¬† As an adult, I would tell my ten year old self¬†to be patient, because life gets better.¬†¬† I would tell her that she has to learn that she can survive the hard things in life, because that is part of becoming who she is meant to be.¬† I would tell her….you are good enough, and one day you will feel the unconditional¬†love and acceptance that you so desperately wanted as a child.¬† One day, you will feel whole instead of fractured.¬† One day, you will¬†be confident and happy.¬† And it will have been worth the wait because you will be made stronger and smarter¬†for the more¬†difficult¬†things you experienced in life.

What do you get out of blogging, and why do you continue to blog?

Blogging helps me to¬†feel more connected to others.¬† Since giving up my career and becoming a stay home parent, I’ve struggled with my sense of self and my sense of purpose.¬† I like being a stay home¬†mom, but it’s hard to feel connected to the world when your life seems to be centered behind the walls of your house.¬† Being a part of the blogging community takes me to different corners of the world.¬† I can read and share in the lives of others, both near and far.¬† And I can contribute my own little piece to the ever-expanding puzzle.¬† Plus, I feel valued differently when I write something that another person enjoys, finds interesting or funny.¬† It makes me feel¬†good to know that¬†another person appreciates what I have to say, and also appreciates my participation in their blog, or their little piece of the universe.¬† ¬†I also enjoy reading and gaining the insights of others on topics that I may not have much experience with.¬† People are fascinating, even if you don’t always agree with them.

Now, onto my nominations….to the nominees listed below, if blog awards aren’t your thing, no big deal.¬† But hopefully you’ll enjoy some new¬†traffic based on the super awesome things I’m about to say about you.

1.¬† I Refuse to Follow Your Blog ¬†(This blog is very funny and the mastermind behind the catchy title enjoys making fun of¬†all things in life that he considers to be pathetic, which is pretty much everything, including himself.¬† It’s a great read so check him out!).

2.¬† inspired4business (I’m new to this blog, but I love it.¬† Steve’s posts are always positive, upbeat and inspirational.¬† Just the pick me up many of us need to regain some perspective and insight on life and how we interact with others.¬† Check him out and I dare you not to be moved by his¬†amazing attitude and outlook on life).

3.¬† Ben’s Bitter Blog¬† (Now, Ben’s blog has been around for a little while, and he’s¬†been nominated for multiple blogging awards.¬† But not this one, because I checked!¬† Ben is very bitter, about everything.¬† And I really enjoy¬†reading his¬†bitter ramblings, and if you like to laugh, you will too!).

Now,¬†I could list seven new questions here, but I found the questions provided by Ray to be thought provoking and entertaining.¬† So I’m going to mooch off his genius and save myself¬†some time.

Thanks again for the nomination, and happy blogging!