Grieving the Parents I Never Had

I have this picture in my mind of what parents are supposed to look like. Yes, it is a little bit Norman Rockwellian, but that’s how I see it. There is a dad who works and supports the family. There is a mom who maybe works or maybe stays home full-time to take care of the house and family. As a kid, this was the stereotype I looked up to and wished I had, but as luck would have it, I was born into a dysfunctional family with a single mom and an absent father.


I am not responsible for what happened to me as a child, but I am 100% responsible for what I do about it as an adult. So, here I am dealing with it as an adult.

My parents divorced when I was a baby, after my mom found out my dad was cheating on her while she was pregnant. After six months of age, I never really had a father.

My dad died in 1997, just a few weeks after I saw him for the last time at my brother’s wedding. He was absent most of my life, but we danced and talked that night at the wedding and had a great time together. The next morning I woke up and he was already gone, true to his style. I never saw him again. I think I only saw him a handful of times in my life before that.

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Here is the last family picture taken. 1997.

My mom is still alive, but she is essentially not in my life because of mental illness. I am grieving a living loss because she is still alive, but it is impossible to have a relationship with her. I want one, and she wants one too, but we are down to weekly emails and even those don’t go so smoothly most of the time. Talking on the phone is very stressful, and visiting in person takes a lot of work on both sides.

I have this picture in my head of what married parents are supposed to look like yet, it’s not what I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps that is why my life is the way it is. My husband works, I work part-time at home tutoring math, and I care for our kids and our house full-time. I am trying to create something I never had, yet want more than anything else. It is fulfilling and rewarding just as much as it is stressful and trying, but it is what I think a household should be like. Maybe I create my life the way I think it SHOULD be instead of based on my experiences.

My mom is so difficult to deal with. She has been diagnosed with depression, OCD, and borderline personality disorder. Look all of them up, and you will see that this combination presents a major challenge to all those who love her and care about her. Her illness is like an elephant in the room, but if we talk about the elephant everything goes bad. And when things go bad, we don’t talk, so we don’t talk, and then the elephant becomes something that we talk AROUND and never address. So, the problem itself never gets solved or dealt with. It’s just a game of “I have my cards and you have your cards.” And that’s it, deal with it.

I don’t like the cards I was dealt. I don’t know how to deal with it. It hurts me to my core that I don’t have parents I can to talk to, lean on, etc.

I do what I can to meet my own needs. I write my mom weekly emails and do my best to let her know what is going in our lives without engaging in her problems with her. It is difficult, but it is all I can do to keep a ‘relationship’ going.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!


31 Day Music Challenge: Day 22 A Song You Listen to When You Are Sad

Billie Joe Armstrong, musician, primarily of G...

Billie Joe Armstrong, musician, primarily of Green Day. Photograph was taken in Cardiff during the American Idiot tour, using a Casio QV-R40 35mm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day is a song I listen to when I’m sad.  It’s sad because it’s about losing someone.  In the video the guy joins the military and goes off to war while his girl waits for him at home. It’s about the fragility of life, how things can change quickly and before we know it life is over.   One of my friends died during the month of September, so it also reminds me of him.  Like, just wake me up when the month is over and I don’t have to think about that day.

See the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Friday Ficton #16: Without You

created by Kelly DeBie

created by Kelly DeBie

My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week, I provided the prompt. This is episode sixteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first fifteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
Amanda dreamed about Richard every night for a week in a row.  There were bits and pieces of flashbacks to previous memories like the first time they met and the last time they made love. She usually didn’t dream about him, but since he passed away unexpectedly, it was almost all her subconscious was working on.  The press of his lips, his muscular arms holding her, and the sound of his voice all seemed so real.  Other times, the dreams took place in surreal surroundings with imaginary people. This time as Amanda slept alone in her king size bed, he told her he loved someone else and wanted a divorce. There was no emotion, no remorse, just simply stating the facts. He wasn’t attracted to her anymore and found someone else he wanted to be with.  That was it whether she liked it or not.She begged and pleaded with him to stay with her and was so mad at him she even tried grabbing him and slapping him in the face to bring him to his senses. “I know I’m not as young, hot, and cute as she is, but Richard we have children together! I will try harder to lose weight and get in better shape. Please stay with me. Don’t do this!”But it was to no avail. Richard and his mistress, a thing yet curvacious long-haired brunette who looked no older than 25, held hands as they turned their backs to her and walked away. Amanda cried and felt completely defeated as her husband literally walked out of her life.  The woman turned back to give Amanda a sly smile as if to say, “he’s mine now.”Crying out in her sleep, she awoke to see her familiar bedroom windows and realized none of it was real. Her heart pounding and her breath heavy, she told herself it was just a dream, blinked her eyes a few times to focus and rolled over to look at the ceiling.  The fan turned around and around as her mind adjusted back to this earthly realm.Sunlight poured in through the window and lit up her wedding picture on the opposite wall from her bed. She didn’t know what to think. Her new normal included a quieter house with fewer chores and nobody to fight with or blame her for the death of their children. But her new normal also meant life as a single mom. Nobody would be there to comfort her when she had a bad dream. Nobody was there to help with the kids or to share happy times with. It felt like being alone in a crowd. Life would continue around her, but inside she knew she was alone and could only count on herself.

Her book of boudoir photos sat next to their bed. Richard died the day before the pictures came in, so he never got to see them. Amanda scoffed at herself as she picked it up and looked through all the pictures of her scantily dressed in provocative poses.  She wanted so badly to surprise him with something special and to put a spark back in their relationship. She remembered seeing the picture of his mistress wearing lingerie on his phone and a sick feeling came over her. While her nightmare wasn’t real, Richard was cheating on her in real life and wanted to leave her. Plus, she looked way better in lingerie than Amanda did.

How could he stay with me if that’s how he felt? When was he planning to leave? Was there anything I could’ve done to stop him or change his mind?  We made love the morning he died.  Everything felt nice between us. I knew he was distant sometimes, but I didn’t know…

She got out of bed, showered and went to the cemetery after she took Robert to school. Richard’s grave was right next to Anderson’s. It had a lack of green grass growing on top, just a sandy rectangle of disturbed earth. All the flowers from the funeral were gone.  It was obviously a new grave compared to the other two. She placed single roses on each one, pink for Ella, red for Anderson and Richard. She still needed to order him a headstone, so the temporary marker identified the place where the love of her life lay. She realized that’s where she would also spend eternity, next to her husband and kids. But for now, she was still free to live her life.

Angel 013

Angel 013 (Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

She sat down on his grave. Her legs felt weak as noodles. Her body ached with exhaustion and grief.  Her heart overflowed with emotions.  With a pen and paper, she started to write:

Under the earth you lie

Still as a statue
Frozen in time
Resting forever

Body entombed
Spirit free as a bird
Flying through space and time
Living in the next world

Everywhere and nowhere

Watching and waiting for us

You were so full of life
I didn’t know how fast it would end
Now the story’s told
And I’m here without you

Living, breathing, loving, learning

In the sunlight with the wind in my hair

And all I want is to be near you

Can you hear me?

Can you see me?

I should be mad at you

I should want to leave you for what you did

But I’m not glad your gone

The truth is

I wish you were here with me

I miss your smile

Your beautiful eyes

Your soft lips to kiss

Your strong arms around me

Your sense of humor

Your heartbeat

I miss you, all of you

It’s hard to be here

Without you


Here is the prompt:
Use the cliche, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” in your story (when you are not with a loved one, you tend to miss them more). You decide how to use it and if your character agrees with it or not. As an added optional challenge, use the literary device, “antithesis” (used when the writer employs two sentences of contrasting meanings in close proximity to one another. Whether they are words or phrases of the same sentence, an antithesis is used to create a stark contrast using two divergent elements that come together to create one uniform whole. An antithesis plays on the complementary property of opposites to create one vivid picture. The purpose of using an antithesis in literature is to create a balance between opposite qualities and lend a greater insight into the subject.
Example: When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon it might have been one small step for a man but it was one giant leap for mankind.

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Susanne’s World

Grass Oil

Clearly Kristal

World’s Worst Moms

No Holding Back

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Friday Fiction #15: Wings to Fly

created by Kelly

created by Kelly DeBie

It’s Fiction Friday and a new month with a new theme: cliches. Starting this month, we are going to rotate giving prompts by the week. This week’s prompt is from Clearly Kristal. My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This is episode fifteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first fourteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
The next day, they started packing up Anderson’s and Ella’s bedrooms. Once they finished those two rooms, they could start working on the rest of the house. The house was already nicely decorated and usually kept tidy since Amanda was a stay-home mom. It had been four years since anyone touched the two empty kids’ rooms. Bravely, Amanda got to work with all three of her sons, starting in Ella’s room with Brad, while Steven and Robert started in Anderson’s room. Deciding to pack everything away temporarily and not throw or give anything away, it was just a matter of putting things into boxes.
Little Cassidy played on the X-box downstairs in the living room while everybody worked upstairs. She made noises as she swiped left and right to chop fruit on Fruit Ninja. Jumping and laughing, she was totally oblivious to the serious tone of her family upstairs. “Woo hoo, high score daddy! Look!”
“Cass daddy’s busy upstairs now. Good job, I’m super proud of your high score. Try to beat it again!”
Picking up Ella’s bedazzled dance bag by the strap, Amanda zipped it and packed it away as it was. They took the pictures off the walls and carefully bubble wrapped them. Her jewelry went into Ziploc bags, and her posters were carefully rolled up. One by one, they cleaned out her drawers and emptied her closet. Next to her bed sat a small framed picture of baby Ella, taken on her first day of life in the hospital. She wore the generic pink and blue stretchy baby hat that all newborns receive as a welcome gift. Her little face was pink and puffy, but Amanda could see her big girl in that baby’s face, and it was all too much for her. She reached her limit. She sat down on her bed holding the picture frame, hung her head, and started crying. Steven hugged her then took the picture frame from her hands and put it back down on the bedside table.
Charlotte's Newborn Session

Charlotte’s Newborn Session (Photo credit: Christine ™)

“Mom, take a break. I got this. Why don’t you go hang out with Cassidy for a while?”
Nodding her head and taking a few breaths, she agreed with her oldest son and left Ella’s room to check on her granddaughter. Cassidy was still slicing fruit, making samurai moves and grinning ear to ear. “Grammy look I got a high score! Want to play with me?”
Amanda couldn’t help but smile and laugh in return. Such innocence. “Oh honey, I don’t know if I feel like playing now. I’m not feeling so great.”
“Let’s go outside! Daddy always tells me to go outside for some fresh air when I’m not feeling good. We could ride my new bike! You know, my pink one with the bell that you keep here for me to ride? Please Grammy, please?” She smiled a convincing smile and opened her eyes wide with anticipation.
How can I resist her? “Sure Cass, let’s go outside, why not? Get your sneakers on and I”ll go look for your helmet.”
Cassidy had her own bike at her house and was in the process of learning how to ride it. Amanda bought her an extra bike so she could practice when she took care of her. They just took the training wheels off the last time she was over a few weeks earlier.
Outside, it was a beautiful sunny day without a single cloud in the sky. Amanda and Cassidy brought the bike around to the front of the house so she could practice on the sidewalk.
“OK, now remember how you did this last time? Remember to keep the pedals moving forward and handlebars straight. Find your center. Balance.” Holding her gently from behind, she counted to three then pushed Cassidy slightly forward. Cassidy pedaled, and the handlebars wiggled. She put down her left foot to keep herself from falling over to the side.
“I’m going to crash! I can’t do it! Grammy, I’m scared.”
“It’s ok honey, you can do it. It just takes a little practice. You’ll get the hang of it; I promise. Come on, let’s try again. Let’s move your pedal around to the top of the cycle so it’s easier for you to get started. Ready?”
Reluctantly, she tried again. This time she pedaled, and although the handlebars wiggled a little, she straightened them out and kept going straight past the next house on their street.
“I’m doing it! I’m doing it!”
“Yes, you are! Keep going and stop at the alley!” Amanda watched as Cassidy continued down the street and to the alley. Cassidy stopped, turned around and called for her Grammy to help her get started again.
“Try it once on your own and see if you can do it!” she encouraged.
Cassidy paused for a few moments, then started pedaling her way back. Her blonde curls blew in the wind, and her sweet smile was mesmerizing as she approached and stopped her bike. Elated, she jumped into Amanda’s arms. “I did it! I’m so happy!”
“You sure did. I knew you could. High five!” She congratulated Cassidy and decided to bring out her portable chair to the front yard. “I’ll sit here and watch while you do it again.”
Here is the prompt:

Use the quote below to tell the story of how your primary character comes to the edge (a cliché). Note: Your character may/may not fly. However, he/she encourages others to start a new beginning – i.e. to “fly.” Spring offers new beginnings to grow and soar. Tell this story in no more than 1,500 words (no less than 800) with a balance of dialogue and imagery. Now let your story fly!

“Come to the edge, He said. They said: We are afraid.Come to the edge, He said.They came. He pushed them,And they flew . . .” — Guillaume Apollinaire French poet

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

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Susanne’s World

Grass Oil

Clearly Kristal

World’s Worst Moms

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Fiction Friday #14: Moving On

created by Kelly

created by Kelly DeBie

It’s Fiction Friday and a new month with a new theme: cliches. Starting this month, we are going to rotate giving prompts by the week. This week’s prompt is from Molly Field at Grass Oil (see below). My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This is episode fourteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first thirteen episodes, here are links:
7. Love
Amanda decided it was time for a fresh start. There were too many memories in the Keilsth family’s four thousand five hundred square foot home. They bought it when their oldest son, Steven, was a baby with hopes of filling up the rest of the bedrooms over the years to come. They wanted a big family, and they wanted to grow roots in a big house where their kids could grow and return as college students to their old bedrooms. They thought of retiring near the ocean eventually, but with their youngest son, Robert only thirteen years old, they thought they would stay in the big house for a while. But everything changed when Richard died; Amanda decided it was time to put the house on the market and start over in a smaller house. She couldn’t stand to sleep in their bed alone or to see the pool where he died every day .

Anderson’s and Ella’s rooms remained untouched since they died unexpectedly four years ago. It was too hard for Amanda to clean out their rooms or to change the decor. A part of her wished that if she left the rooms the same as they left them, parts of her kids would stay alive. She often spent time in their rooms wondering what would have been had they gotten a chance to grow up.

Posters of Justin Bieber still hung on Ella’s walls, and her dance bag still sat on the floor unzipped with ballet and tap shoes sticking out of the unzipped opening on top. Medals and awards lined her shelves. Recital and competition pictures covered the pink walls. Notes from friends lay folded on her dresser, and candid pictures of her and her friends smiled from a bulletin board hung over her bed. Her favorite pink baby blanket waited patiently on her bed for Ella to come back from school that day. She used to joke about her attachment to her baby blanket, claiming to be unable to sleep without it.

Anderson’s room was dark blue. Toy dragons and legos decorated the corner next to his wooden bookshelf. Baby books, handed down from his older siblings were mixed in with stiff toddler books and picture books. The Superman sheets and comforter reminded her of how often little Anderson used to run around wearing a superhero costume. He loved airplanes and anything else that flew. His Taekwondo uniform sat out on top of his dresser waiting for his next class. Portraits of a happy baby boy hung from the walls in the room where her youngest child was growing up, subtle and sad reminders of the potential of his young life.

This was not how Richard and Amanda planned for their lives to unfold. She decided to put the house on the market and downsize to a smaller place. Obviously, their vision for the future had been crashed into tiny pieces, and staying in their family house just didn’t make sense any more.

She called Steven, now 21 to ask him to come over for dinner so they could talk.

“Mom, I don’t know I’m awfully busy. Do you want all of us to come? Althea has class I think. I’m supposed to be taking care of Cassidy tonight.”

“Steven it’s important. Please I need to talk to you. I know you’re busy, just thirty minutes, that’s all I ask.”

He worked part-time as a physical therapy aide while he also went to college, majoring in physical therapy. He had experience as an Army medic and wanted to use it to build a career in the medical/health field like his dad. He was getting used to the role of fatherhood despite its challenges, and he was working toward the idea of a long term commitment (engagement and marriage) with Althea. There was just so much going on in their lives, and they had only gotten back together a few months ago, he wanted to take things slowly and not make emotional decisions. Althea was also in school and working part-time, struggling to make ends meet and get an education at the same time as mothering her little girl. With his father gone, Steven felt more responsibility to help with his mom and stopped by to visit her more often since the funeral.

“OK mom what time is dinner? 6:30 as usual?” He was used to 6:30 being family dinner time growing up and knew it was his mom’s favorite time to eat a family meal together.

Nineteen year old Brad took a year off after graduating high school after the drama of losing his two younger siblings and was accepted to start college at the University of Texas in the fall. He would be moving out of the house and into a freshman dorm on the university campus. He had no idea what he wanted to major in, but he felt it was time to pursue higher education and was looking forward to a whole new life as a college student.

Thirteen year old Robert was Amanda’s youngest child. He still had several years left living at home. Amanda wanted to find something with three bedrooms (instead of six) so she, Robert, and Brad could finish this school year and then it would just be the two of them, Robert and Amanda, living together after that. It would be a tough conversation to have because life would be so different, but she needed to have it with her boys.

That night when they sat down to eat dinner together, she told her sons what was on her mind. Little Cassidy watched Spongebob as she ate her dinner, spilling peas onto the placemat.

“I decided to put the house on the market boys. I know this is the only home you’ve ever known, but it’s time to move on. There is too much sadness, and there are too many memories here. I called my realtor earlier today, and tomorrow we will start getting the house ready to show. I know this is going to be hard for you, but it’s something I feel very strongly about, and it’s something I need to do…for me and for us.”

The boys were surprised but took the news pretty well. In between bites of mashed potatoes with gravy and roast chicken and peas, they took turns asking questions.

“What about school?” Robert inquired.

“We will try to stay in the same zone. I don’t want to disrupt your lives any more than they already have been. I need to think about the finances, and this house is just too big for us. I also…” Amanda broke into tears, “…I also need a whole new reality. It hurts too much to stay here after everything that’s happened. Daddy left us insurance money, but I’m probably going to have to go back to work, and we won’t be able to afford living in a house this big. I need to make a fresh start in a smaller place, and I’m hoping you will both support me in my decision. Our family needs a fresh start.”

“What about Ella and Anderson’s rooms?” Brad couldn’t imagine the thought of his mom packing both rooms away. “Do you want my help in there?”

“Brad, that’s very sweet of you. Yes, I would love your help. I will need your help. It’s been too hard for me to change them so far, but we need to accept the past for what it is and go for it. It’s time. Life is telling us loud and clear it’s time to move on.”

“I’ll help too mom.” Robert added.

Steven agreed it was a good decision and also offered to help. “Mom, maybe you should let us take care of the packing for you. Dad would want us to take care of you. He wouldn’t want you to pack up their rooms alone.” His green eyes mocked Richard’s glances as he waited for an answer. His lips smiled in Richard’s familiar way.

Amanda was so proud of her young men. They all shared a piece of their dad with her and carried on his life in his absence. Amanda imagined all of them together, although there were three empty seats were at the dinner table that night. “Thank you. I love you guys so much!”

Here is the prompt:
Your character (new or old) has been stuck in a rut of inaction or stinkin’ thinkin’, encumbered by doubt or memories s/he has been unable to shake. In a moment of whim and unbridled mirth, who knows: faith? s/he decides to throw caution to the wind and just go for it, do what s/he has been avoiding out of fear, or just sheer bad timing or dumb luck. The stars have aligned: this is the moment. S/he goes for it… you decide if the venture is successful or not.1,500 words max. 50% Dialogue optional, but suggested

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

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Susanne’s World

DeBie Hive

Grass Oil


Clearly Kristal

World’s Worst Moms

Near Genius

Quirky Chrissy

No Holding Back

Unconventional Wisdom

The Incompetent Hausfrau

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Terms of Endearment

I watched Terms of Endearment the other night with Joe and Zoe. Joe had never seen it before, so it was on our ‘to watch’ list for a long time.  Zoe and I both cried a few times. Joe, not so much.  I don’t know why I do it to myself, and I don’t get why Joe doesn’t feel moved by it, but I love watching this movie even though I cry every time.  It’s touching.  I’m such a girl.

It’s about life, love, and loss.  It’s about the beauty and joy that life brings along with the sorrow and challenges that present themselves.  It’s about family dynamics, between a mother and daughter, a husband and wife, and between mother, father, grandmother and children.  It’s profoundly realistic, a movie we can all relate with.  No wonder it won awards.  Here is a list of some of the life lessons in this movie:

  • Mothers and daughters don’t always agree on things, but the lucky ones get along anyway.  They talk on the phone and try to understand each other when one is upset.  If they don’t understand each other, they take time apart but love each other unconditionally.
  • Husbands and wives may love each other but don’t always meet each other’s needs.  It takes communication and dedication to the family.
  • Kids are damaged when they see and hear their parents fighting, yet there is unwavering love between a mother and her kids no matter what.
  • While all parents can’t be perfect, we are all doing the best we can in juggling our desires and responsibilities.
  • Marriage is never easy. It takes compromise on the parts of both parties, but together you can take steps to do what’s good for your family.
  • You are never too old to fall in love.
  • Life can grab you by surprise when you least expect it.
  • When you find out you are going to lose someone, your entire perspective shifts.
  • When you do lose a loved one, you are faced with a choice of crumbling or doing what you have to do to continue living.
  • The spirit of a lost loved one lives in the hearts of all those who knew and loved that person.
  • Life goes on.


FOR TODAY:  July 18, 2011

Outside my window…partly cloudy blue sky day. Not much going on in the neighborhood. I guess it’s too hot!

I am thinking…about everyone I know who is struggling with the loss of a loved one today.  Sierra attended the funeral of a friend who died from mysterious causes this morning. Another friend lost his brother to a heart attack on Wednesday.  The mother of a friend is praying to bring his body home from S. America where he died in May.  Friends of a friend are grieving the loss of their two year old son from a recent drowning accident. My heart goes out to these people and everyone else I know who has lost a friend or family member.

I am thankful…for time off work.

From the learning rooms…Zoe is learning about exponents and metric measurement.  Thomas is practicing handwriting and addition/subtraction. Sierra is reading and preparing for moving to college next month.

In the kitchen…turkey stock is simmering.  Yesterday, I made homemade chicken veggie noodle soup for the kids (including chicken stock from scratch).

I am wearing…gray shorts and a white short sleeved hoodie.

I am creating…a nicer space in my bonus room. It’s a guest room/office.

I am going…out to get more ink for my printer.

I am wondering…how next school year will go. I’m moving from 7th grade to 6th grade math and looking forward to the change.

I am reading…The Art of Racing in the Rain.  The father’s name in the book is Denny, and that’s Thomas’s middle name (after my mom’s middle name and her mom’s last name).  The daughter in the book is Zoe, and my daughter is Zoe. Small world.

I am hoping…to get to the bottom of my eczema problem.

I am looking forward to…Joe getting home from work! The weekend went by too fast.

I am hearing…birds singing outside.

Around the house…lots of work happening today. Teaching the kids how to keep their rooms clean and to keep clothes folded.  It’s easier said than done 🙂  Decluttering and designating lots of things for giveaway/garage sale.   Bonus room is taking shape slowly but surely!

I am pondering…whether the hand eczema I’m experiencing is due to my nickel allergy more than it is due to foods.  I have a documented nickel allergy, and that is the one of the main associations with dyshidrotic eczema.  I am connecting the dots and wondering whether the gold filling in my tooth needs to be replaced!  I already don’t wear any jewelry with nickel and know better than to wear gold jewelry but haven’t thought about the gold filling in my mouth before. That is a constant source of exposure that I have overlooked. Additionally, I have overlooked the details of a nickel allergy like anything metal like doorknobs, watches, coins, zippers, and even tap water!

One of my favorite things…lazy summer days.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  visiting the allergist and guitar lesson tomorrow, taxiing kids to and from classes (taekwondo, tumbling), being productive at home.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…