Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

Family Memories

Happy day after Mother’s Day! I hope all the mother’s who read this had a day full of smiles and pampering.

Most of you know that my mother moved in with us in January. It didn’t take long for us to realize it was time for her to not live on her own anymore. So, with her blessing around the first of February, we began sorting through items in her house. We were lucky because our niece wanted to move in, which meant we didn’t have to talk about selling it. Everyone in the family knows how hard that would have been for Mom.

So the process of sorting through and clearing out 40 years of accumulation began. It quickly became a reason to gather. Mom loved being in the center of things as work progressed, loved the camaraderie as we found beloved items from our childhood. This may seem a bit silly, but we got sentimental over a meat grinder. Mom always made the most awesome homemade minced ham sandwiches.:)

There was a calendar from our childhood with the dishwashing schedule. Trust me, with five kids constantly arguing it wasn’t THEIR night to do dishes, those calendars were a must for Mom’s sanity.

We found our beloved step-father’s well-used fishing hat. He passed away in 1993 and we all still miss him. P1110712

One of the most amazing finds was newspapers saved from when Pearl Harbor was bombed, when armistice was called, when J.F. Kennedy was shot. Those are now in archival packaging in the hopes we can preserve them.

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We also brought bin after bin of paperwork and pictures out to the house for Mom to sort at her leisure. She’s been doggedly going through it all and is down to about 10 photo albums. She kept hospital bills from when my sisters were born. I’ll post a pic of one of them here because, well, the cost of hospitalization for 5 days back then was a LOT less than these days.Hospbill

So now, my niece and her husband are ensconced in Mom’s home for the last 40 years, with her happy blessing. And we’ve had an amazing journey these past couple of months. We’ve laughed and cried over pictures and memories of events. And we all feel so blessed that Mom could be here to share it with us.

Something that could easily have been depressing turned out to be an awesome experience for all.

Have an awesome week, everyone!

Laurie

Welcome, Baby Hazel

I missed my blog on the 8th, so I’ll talk here about what I meant to then. It’s been a worrisome time these past few months and now I can finally explain why.

First, I need to explain something. A few years ago, my sister was diagnosed with Factor V Leiden. This is a hereditary disorder that results in something called thrombophilia, or an increased tendency to form abnormal blood clots. Not good. Anyhow, for her, since she doesn’t have any mitigating factors, they’ll just keep an eye on it and it will be something they’ll have to take precautions with when having surgery.

I recently got tested and thankfully, was negative for this disorder. Three of my nieces were not so lucky. In fact, a couple of them have already had to deal with clots in the legs. Neither of them are even 35 years old yet, by the way.

So, now to talk about the 32 year old niece, who happily got pregnant with her second child. The pregnancy went great until the 7th month, when my niece had a major heart attack. Yep, that tendency to clot…did. It was a very scary time. The final two months of her pregnancy were micro-managed, as was her delivery. She had to give herself heparin shots twice a day and was on meds to manage the clotting factor. She had to be careful. Live life normally, but not over-exert.

And finally, on March 22nd, at a specialty hospital and with a whole lot of personnel in the room, my niece gave birth to our newest family member – Hazel Elyse. They induced and managed the delivery with minimal stress to my niece or to her daughter. And four days later, they were home and introducing Hazel to her four-year-old brother.

So all’s well that ends well, but we were saying a LOT of prayers for those two months. If you’d like to read more about Factor V Leiden, you can do so here. And to finish out on a positive note, here’s some pictures of baby Hazel, including a proud Great-Gramma (my Mom) and one with my brother, a proud, proud Grampa, and rightfully so.:)

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Gallery

Does this recipe work for me? I’m not sure…

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With Mom living here with us now, I comb the internet and my recipe books for low salt alternatives to change up our lunch and dinner menus a bit. I found a low-salt chicken pot pie recipe and tried it. … Continue reading

I <3 Caribbean Cruises!

Running late today, which is unusual for me. And it generally means my calendar is way too full. My morning started with a couple fillings at the dentist, something I angst over big time, even though I have no reason to. I guess anxiety doesn’t care about logic, eh?

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. I thought I’d share some pictures of our recent cruise to the Bahamas. We had good, but not great weather. The temperature was in the 65-75 degree Fahrenheit range. Not really warm by Caribbean standards but warm for us Pacific Northwesters. And it was windy enough that we couldn’t snorkel and one of our ports of call had to be cancelled because they couldn’t tender us in to shore from the ship. But the wind also kept those pesky mosquitoes at bay. So a good thing, in our estimation.

It still managed to be one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever had. We watched 4 hit movies, including The Martian which I LOVED. I read four books! I haven’t had much time to read recreationally lately so that was awesome. I swam in the on board pool and laid out in the sun. And we even managed to go ashore in a couple places. So lots of relaxing made for an awesome trip.

Of course, being back home meant diving back into a too-busy routine, but the R&R time reset my brain and heart so it’s all easier to handle for the moment. 

Here’s some pics from our week away. I hope you all get some time to relax and rejuvenate soon, if you haven’t already!

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Leaping in…

When I saw the Leap Day 2016 was available to blog on I, well, leaped at the chance. I’m not sure why, but it sounded like fun.

Today, blogs all over the ‘net will be spouting facts and superstitions about Leap Day and Leap Year, I’m sure. And rather than buck the system, I think I’ll join it.

Leap Day was added every fourth year to keep our calendar aligned with Earth’s revolutions around the sun. From what I read, it takes the Earth about 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to circle once around the Sun. That time differential has to be made up somewhere so they added the day to the shortest month of the year.

  • Lord Byron (poet) was born on Leap Day.
  • There are about 4 million people with Leap Day birthdays and the chances of being born on Leap Day are about 1 in 1,461.
  • People born on Leap Day are said by astrologers to have special or unusual talents.
  • It’s also, since most of us write romance, the day that for centuries, women have been encouraged to propose to men. I read where this started back in the 5th century, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for men to propose. So he set aside February 29th, allowing women to pop the question on that day.

This continued in Scotland, when Queen Margaret declared in 1288 that women could propose to men on February 29th. Even the more modern American Sadie Hawkins Day tradition has become synonymous with Leap Day.

And finally, the poem that helps keep us all straight. I found there are several renditions of this poem, so I’ll post the one I grew up with:

Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except February, which has twenty-eight.
And in leap year twenty-nine.

Happy Leap Day, everyone!

Settling In

Life has offered us another opportunity…a metamorphosis or iteration of what normal is for us. Wow. That’s sounds pretty philosophical, doesn’t it? At any rate, the change in our lives is that my mother has come to live with us.

The reason for that isn’t great…it’s her health. But she stabilized and settled in and just this past week, we brought out her own bedroom furniture and made it a permanent thing. It’s definitely a change, for us and for her. And yes, there’s downsides. But the positives far outweigh the extra work involved.

I am getting to know my mother, whom I’ve held in such high regard for so many years, better than I’ve ever had an opportunity to before. I’m finding out she’s not perfect. She gets cranky, especially when she’s tired or patronized. But she’s also gracious and generous with her thanks and compliments.

She has a sweet tooth and is a definite desert person. Friends and family keep bringing her chocolates, which she proudly tries to share with us. I hate to say no, because I get the sense it’s something she’s able to offer us in this day and age when we are the ones getting her everything she needs.

She’s very particular about what goes where, and a bit of a clean freak. Must be from all those years of having us five messy kids around, huh?

She’s always been kind when speaking of others, but I never realized it was a mindset, not something she remembers to do. Mom genuinely sees the good in people.

And she’s as grateful for us as we are for her. We are truly blessed. I also love that I have 4 siblings. This isn’t just something my husband and I took on. My brothers have been moving furniture out here as needed and bringing dinner out to save me a night of cooking and to visit. My sister comes to stay so we can get regular breaks from the duties of having someone to care for. And my other sister, who lives on the other side of the states, is in constant touch, providing moral support to Mom and to us.

So it works. It really does. I don’t know if we have a month, a year, or more with Mom. And I know there will be tough times, both with the day-to-day stuff and when her health declines again. But for now, life is good.:)

Now if we can just get these darn cats to get along. Getting two solitary older cats (Mom’s and ours) to cohabitate isn’t exactly easy. I walk around the house with a spray bottle in my hand, ready for the next spitting and hissing fight.

So I hope your 2016 is going as well as ours so far, or even better. Because life is very worth embracing for every moment we can squeeze out of it.

With Mom last year on Mt. Rainier.

With Mom last year on Mt. Rainier.

Guest Blog – Reminiscing with Linda Shook

Our good friend Linda Shook is here today with a guest blog filled with memories and gratitude:
lindaagetwo
I recently celebrated a birthday…it was another big one. Funny how they keep getting bigger. One of the people who sent me a ‘happy birthday’ wish on Facebook commented, “Next year you’ll be a diamond Linda.’  So there you have it. Yes, I was 74.  74!!!! It’s hard to believe. It seems like only yesterday I was a kid, going to school, helping out on our mini farm each day. Maybe I’ve lost track of all those years because I still live in the same town I was born in (in fact I retired from the same hospital where my mom was a R.N. before she had me there), where I grew up and where many of my friends still reside.   The first house my folks bought after my dad returned from WWII is exactly 2.4 miles from where I live now. After I finished 4th grade they bought 10 acres with an old house on it.  There they built a new house and that’s where I played and left for school each day until I graduated from high school. The ‘farm’ is exactly 4.5 miles from where I live now. So you can see, I haven’t gotten very far in my 74 years. (So to speak)

I’ve loved living in the same area..I always run into people I know ~ from school, places I’ve worked, people I’ve know from the couple different churches I’ve attended and I feel sorry for those who grew up here but circumstances have taken them off to another town, another state, even another country. Many of them wish they could come home…home to the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

One of the sad things about living in you home town is all the changes over the years. I remember when I was in high school, a BIG adventure was going ‘downtown.’ Now living in the country it wasn’t always easy. There was a bus but it went into town twice a day and came back twice a day. And if you missed it coming home , well it wasn’t good. But usually one of us had a mom or dad who would take us 3 miles to one of Tacoma’s main streets where we could catch a city bus. Then off to town we’d go. Downtown Tacoma was magical back in the late 1950’s. There were the usual big department stores (Sears and J.C.Penneys) and we also had a great store called People’s Store and then Rhodes Brothers Store. I remember being able to get a pair of really neat shoes at Leeds for $5 and then of course there was Woolworth’s, Payless and S.H. Kress. I remember one time several of us were in the Kress store and I opened a bottle of Blue Waltz perfume and it spilled and the whole store reeked of that sickening, sweet smell.  We laughed all the way to the lunch counter at Woolworth’s where we had our BLT’s and Cherry Sodas.

Now there’s no more downtown, no more Woolworth’s, no more S.H. Kress, no more Peoples store and no more Rhodes Bros.  I’m so grateful I grew up when I did, I was born January 4, 1942 and I graduated from high school in June 1960.   Those were truly magical years. My hometown has changed so much. I feel sorry for the kids growing up the last 40 years…they have missed some great adventures.

Each day God gives me is a blessing.  Another day to be in contact with family and friends. And another day to see the additional changes my hometown is making.

Linda