A great THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It could be because of my love for food, or spending time with family, or the shopping deals of Black Friday. Regardless of the reasoning, Thanksgiving is truly important to me for so many reasons. There are countless things and people I am grateful for. There is no better time of year to think about everything I have been blessed with thus far in life than today. My first blessing this holiday was Wednesday when Tyler came home from the Air Force to spend the holiday with our family. I never realized how far away California was until someone I care so much about is so far away. Wednesday night several of us got together and went to his restaurant of choice, CINZETTI’S of course. It was great to be able to sit around and tell stories and reminisce about all of the funny things we have done together. Second blessing was Thanksgiving Day itself, which was also great to spend the day with family. My Aunt prepared food all morning and it was spectacular as usual. We ended the night with a late trip to Wal-Mart to catch some pre Black Friday deals; yes I was one of the crazy shoppers who scored a $99 Wii. But, if I would have known so many whack jobs would have been out I would have probably just stayed home. We did find some crazy people, I am just glad my Wal-Mart experience didn’t end with a gun shot or pepper spray like some other holiday shoppers. My third blessing would be shopping Friday with Patrick for holiday gifts; I get so much enjoyment out of buying things our family will like. On top of the purchases we got to spend the day doing what we wanted to do and go where we wanted to go. We got some great deals and even scored coupons from a lady at the jewelry counter just by asking.  As many of you know there is nothing I love more than a good coupon. Saturday might have been my favorite; Patrick and I picked up T and took him to Fritz’s Train Restaurant. I had never been before, but it was awesome. You order your own food and a train travels along the ceiling and delivers your food to the table. He got the biggest kick out of it and went home with a conductor hat and train whistle. The rest of the evening consisted of putting up the Christmas tree and decorations and watching a movie. For some reason doing these things makes me feel like a kid at heart and I can’t help but smile. Final blessing, Sunday morning we woke up and made turkey shaped pancakes and enjoyed the morning together before cooking our second Thanksgiving dinner. For me it was an interesting experience – even with as much as I love to cook and bake, I had never before made an entire Thanksgiving meal. It was a little nerve racking hoping everything would turn out, but I still had fun in the process. I definitely took away some pointers for next year.

Of all of these small blessings I think about how great my life is and how many things I am so thankful for. There are so many families out there who can’t afford to buy thanksgiving turkey, let alone shop for Christmas presents or buy a new outfit to wear to dinner. I am so grateful for the life I have been given. I feel truly fortunate to have a family that is as great as they are. Each one of them supports me and loves me and constantly makes me laugh. I’m grateful for my family members that are no longer here, and that I have their memories and traditions to carry on and celebrate. I’m grateful to be in a wonderful relationship with someone I care so much about, and shows me every day how great someone can treat another person. I have some incredible friends who would go to all lengths to help me, or be an ear when I need someone to listen. I have a job that pays my bills, a roof over my head that keeps me warm, and good health so far. Each of these things are priceless and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.  I hope everyone takes time to realize what the holidays are all about and be grateful for the things they have been blessed with. Be thankful, show appreciation, and celebrate.

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Grandpa Bob

Today my Grandpa Bob would be 81 years old! So, first and foremost, Happy Birthday Gramps! I love you and miss you!

When I think back 10 years ago when he passed I realized how young I really was. To do justice to how long ago ten years was picture this: a 16 year old girl driving around a 1987 dented Chevy Cavalier, named White Lightening, bagging groceries at the local Price Chopper, feverishly taking pictures for the high school yearbook, and a gallon of milk cost on average $ 1.19. I knew nothing about life but thought I knew everything. I mean, doesn’t every 16 year old? I thought my parents didn’t have a clue about what life was really all about, and I thought I was invincible to anything bad.

Growing up my family spent pretty much every weekend of the summer at the Lake of the Ozarks. My Grandpa lived there basically full time. I still remember Friday afternoons in elementary school when my Grandma would come and pick my cousins and me up and we would head out early to beat the weekend lake traffic. It was a great place; we had a blast every time, and made memories that we still talk about years later. Some people may think the best part of the lake would be skiing and tubing, picnics on the ‘little island,’ or dancing at the Salty Dog. But for us, the best part of the lake was being with our Grandpa.  He wasn’t a normal Grandpa, pretty much a fact about everyone in my family. He was active, always up for a good time, and loved to cause a little trouble, and then pretend like he had no involvement. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I look back and recognize what we always thought of as a vacation was actually a lot of work for him. He would wake up early and make sure everything was ready to go before we were up; washing off the stairs and dock, watering the flowers, untangling fishing pools, drying towels from the day before, and working on any project that needed to be fixed. By the time we would get up the boat would be cleaned out and loaded with the essentials for the day, gas tank full, and lunch packed, ready for any adventure. He never once complained about the amount of work or complete and udder chaos we caused, he just enjoyed it. He did it and did it over again; maybe it was the Old Milwaukie Light can that usually accompanied him. But, in all honestly he was such a hardworking man; he was retired but still built houses and decks on the lake.

One of the things I love most about him was his desire to have fun every single day. He had a smile I will never forget, a laugh that was ornery, and he loved to bite our ears when we would hug him. He had so many friends and he made the most of every day, I can remember laughing so much my cheeks would hurt.  He loved a morning screw driver or bloody mary, dressed fashionable for his age, always smelled like a bottle of cologne, loved to floss his teeth, crossed his leg when he sat, called everyone ‘sweety,” and always forgot sunscreen on his baldspot. He would dance if there was music, sing if it was an old time song he liked, and loved taking night time boat rides. He wasnt afraid to start a food fight, people nicknamed him ‘Bobber,’ he was a great fisherman, and even though he tried well to hide it I am pretty sure he smoked ciggarettes all of his life. The man did everything at full speed which caused him to always have a bump or bruise, or a Popeye muscle for that matter. Okay, story time… One Sunday afternoon I was trying to soak up every extra ray of sun I could before heading back home. Well, it was nearing 5pm and I was still lying on the deck listening to my boom box (yea, it was pre-iPod era) and my grandpa was moving at 100 miles an hour to get things done. He was covering the boat, removing the toys, putting everything in the dock house, and washing off the boards. When he went to snap the cover on the front of the Cobalt he leaped over the front of the boat. His leg got caught on the cord to my boom box. Instantly he fell into the water and was all tangled around the boat lift, he tore his shirt and shorts, and his glasses ended up all cockeyed on his face. P-Diddy stopped playing as my radio crashed into the water, gone forever. Apparently he must have hit his bicep really hard on one of the poles because his muscle was indefinitely separated from the rest of his arm. So anytime he would flex this ball of muscle would roll up to the top. We named it his Popeye muscle because it made him look like it was really strong. I am sure it hurt him terribly, but he never complained he just laughed it off, and flexed a lot to show everyone.

He was a terrific man and I could tell his stories for days, there are so many funny ones. But just know my Grandpa lived every day as if it was his last. He loved people and having a good time. At 70 years old he could still party with the best of them. I treasure the years we had together, especially since they were limited. He passed away unexpectedly 10 years ago of an aneurism, after about 8 hours of emergency surgery he just couldn’t make the fight any longer. I still remember how packed the hospital was and how many people were there to support him. It really makes me realize how precious life is and how much you should enjoy the people around you. That day changed my life forever and even though I can’t make new memories with him, I still think about all of the times we did have together. I can only imagine how much fun he would still be having here at 81, and I am sure he would act like he was in his twenties.

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

I would like to invite anyone to share a funny story in the comments below about him.

Trick or Treat

A lot of people think Halloween is only for little kids, so they can dress up and collect candy. But, boy did Lawrence prove that wrong – a lot of adults in strange costumes going door to door for free goodies was the norm! I found a lot of humor in this, well besides for the clown that scared me half to death. But, I don’t think Halloween is just for little kids. I probably get as much good out of it as anyone, and it is a holiday that I try to make last for as long as possible. This year was no exception, and I would say one of the better Halloween’s I have had in a long time. A few weeks ago we went to the pumpkin patch and walked the fields until we found several pumpkins and gourds we couldn’t leave without. I had never seen so many interesting pumpkins. They had all different shapes, colors, and sizes, my favorite was the cream-colored pumpkin, it reminded me of Cinderella for some reason. And, I really liked the green and white striped one, resembling a reversed watermelon.  Terrance had a blast on his search for a small pumpkin; I think he wanted one he could easily carry. Once we got our pumpkins we headed home to have a fun dinner all together. Patrick made out of this world pulled pork, legitimately better than any BBQ place I have ever eaten at. And, the pumpkins were displayed at the front door to greet me each day when I get home!

In the following weeks we did more things to celebrate the season and holiday, we baked and decorated sugar cookies. Terrance had one ball of dough that he was trying to roll out, but he added so much flour to it that ultimately he only had crumbled up balls of cookie dough remaining. Terrance, Patrick, and I decorated the cookies with icing and sprinkles. But I think T had more icing in his mouth than on the cookies – his went into a separate bag when he was finished! If there is one thing I learned from this experience it is that even with sugar-free icing, 3 year olds can still get a sugar rush. It took about an hour and a half to get him to calm down and go to bed. Another thing that 3 year olds aren’t so talented with quite yet… carving pumpkins. After 3 weeks of saying he wanted to carve a monster in his pumpkin he decided on two ghosts. However, Uncle Patrick did most of the work. All T wanted to do was poke the pumpkin repeatedly with the knife. At the end of the day, we got it carved, candle in perfectly, and he was impressed with the results. I baked some pumpkin seeds and actually ate them this time, Mom would be so proud! I also learned a new trick, well two – first, if you cut a hole in the top the candle has more room to breathe and won’t get black on the inside; and second – if you carve a notch when cutting the top off you will always know where the lid fits. This could have saved me a lot of time spinning in frustration over the years.

My work hosts a trick or treat bash every year and it never fails the single word used to describe the event is insaneness – kids running and screaming thru the halls of the building, tackling each other for dum-dum suckers, and then a free pizza party in the café. So, like years past I try to leave work by about 4 that day and miss the festivities.  Maybe when I have kids I will understand how this is fun…

Finally we have Halloween night itself, Terrance was a Ninja Turtle this year, but I have no idea which one. We had dinner together and then headed to Mass Street to hit up all of the shops with candy, much easier than door-to-door with a little boy! First stop was the fire station, and best of all. T got to sit in the fire truck and press all the buttons, turn on the lights, and hold the fire hose. I made the mistake of pointing out Woody and Buzz Lightyear and more so than the candy he just wanted to walk all over to find them. It was hilarious when he kept asking where Woody was. Trick or Treating ended a little early since he didn’t feel too well, but makes next year something to look forward too.

Halloween night ended the best way possible… a HUGE KC Chief’s win in overtime over the Chargers! Great game, great evening, and great Halloween month.  I hope yours was great as well!

 

KU Basketball!

The day has finally come! I am officially counting down the hours until KU tips off mid court for a good 2 hours of pure enjoyment! Well, let’s hope so at least. KU has their first exhibition game tonight against Pitt State and I am hoping it will have a happy ending like the last 37 times. The start of basketball is something I look forward to every year. It seems like eternity waiting after the NCAA Tournament is over for the next year to begin. This season, or as Coach Self would say this ‘process’ should be an interesting one. Kansas has a young team this year, a lot of new faces, and a few returning who need to work on their level of dependability. Regardless of the ranking (pre-season 13th) I still come ready to cheer the hawks on tonight! Missing three leaders on our team will be an adjustment, but I do feel the decision to suspend Taylor and Johnson was the right one. T-Rob will be missed, again no reason to risk potential serious injury during pre-season play. (Can I get a “Conner Teahan” shout out?) This season I ultimately hope that the Hawks can pull it together, play as a team, play solid, practice the fundamentals, and stay out of trouble. They have to play smart, rely on each other, and Tyshawn needs to mute the (Dun, Dun, Dun) sounds of the Sports Center Highlight Reel in his head when he has the ball. We have talented players they just need to make smart decisions on the court and play to their full potential. We have seen Self take young teams and make them into something great; I have complete faith he can do it again. So many people want to count Kansas out this year, but I think this year of growth will be exciting, frustrating at times, but in the end the results over time will be proof of why we have so much tradition. And confirmation of why Kansas fans are the best in the country!

On a final note, I still don’t understand all of these players leaving early or skipping college all together to spring to the NBA. There are so many years of development they miss – on and off the court. A prime example would be, most recently, Josh Selby. A kid with tremendous talent, grave desire, and potential to be an incredible competitor; however, he pranced onto the college court and couldn’t compete at a high level right off the bat. Mostly because he faced bigger challenges, taller players, and a totally different atmosphere. And yet, he chose to skip out on the rest of college to move up another level with ever larger scale talent. The 3 pointer he used to be able to easily drain in High School over the top of a five-foot-nine coach’s son doesn’t work as easily as top NCAA defenders. He needed that time to develop and get used to bigger talent, learn how college works, and get his feet wet with what happens when you are desired in college bars by the so called ‘jersey chasers.’ Instead, he chose to forgo the rest of his college time and possibly a prominent NBA career be a practice dummy or bench warmer for a little cash. Or worse case, like this year an NBA lockout with no chance to play. It will never make sense to me! I understand the possibility of getting injured and losing money by waiting, but I will always believe the experience and maturity they gain in college would be a better decision in the long run.

That’s my 2-cents, so let’s end with a ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK, GO KU! One final thing, a shout out to the best PG ever… Jacque Vaughn.