Archive for the 'Random Thoughts' Category

Early Morning Hikes

Well, good morning to you, too!

Before school started for the year, Claire asked me if it would be possible to get in our morning hikes before school. More than anything, this is what she said she was going to miss when school started. (This summer, we’d started a habit of hiking in the mornings, and we both love it.)

I wasn’t sure how this would go with our morning routine, but we decided to give it a go. It’s been amazing. We’ve worked it out to where we walk down to the lake and around to a certain spot and then back. It’s about a mile roundtrip, which is just a perfect way to get the day started. It helps us re-center and works as a great attitude adjustment. It’s empowering, invigorating, and we’re not so harried in the mornings because of it.


Sunrise Collage from 8.22.17

Selfie with Supergirl! (picture taking today.)

General Blog Housekeeping

This summer has not only been about hiking and relaxing, it’s been about updating things on the website, too!

If you look back at April, you’ll see a post I just added about Claire’s Art Show Piece.

Another post is from our trip to Tucson for Spring Break in March!



Knowing what I know is coming

Normally, I love Facebook’s “on this day” feature. I love looking at posts from over the years and the reminders of fun adventures, full-on belly laughs, and milestones. Today, though, knowing what I know is coming makes me sad. It’s reminding me of pictures and fun times we had with my mom last year, on this day, the day before my sister’s world came crashing down, the day before we lost our nephew Trenton, the day before I got the most horrible call ever.

…A call I still can’t think about without crying.

Look! There we are with Grandma at the railroad and mine! Look! There we are with Grandma on our hike!

Look! Look at our happy faces! There we are! …And we have no idea what is about to happen.

Maybe I don’t want to look.
Maybe I should.
I don’t know.
…and that’s okay.

Time marches on with an audacity that breaks my heart, but thankfully it does so whether we want it to or not, because right now, my heart can’t be trusted to make those decisions.

A Simple Solution

A couple days ago, I posted this picture on Instagram with this question:

How do YOU deal with this design without going completely crazy. Asking for a friend... #shiftyglance

How do YOU deal with this design without going completely crazy. Asking for a friend… #shiftyglance

As I found out, I wasn’t alone. Other have struggled with this cap design, too. While pondering this goopy mess last night, it hit me. I had a CRAZY idea, and tried it, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner:

You just screw the cap off and bypass the goop completely!

You just screw the cap off and bypass the goop completely!

(By the way, I always clip the bottom of the toothpaste tube. Figuring out that step eons ago was the first step back from the edge for me…)

I would tell you how much calmness this simple solution has brought into my life, but you’d probably laugh at me, so I’ll keep that to myself. 😉


We’re home from the hardest trip we’ve ever had to make. It was a whirlwind trip, and all of the days are a blur. What day is today? Thursday?

As you may know, my nephew was killed in a car accident, and we made an emergency trip back to Iowa. Grandma was out here with us (on her WONDERFUL vacation!) when this happened, so we did what we could to get moving in a different direction. We got her back to the airport a day earlier than anticipated, and then we started our own 11+ hour roadtrip.

Sunday afternoon, for almost 4 hours, we greeted over 400 people, most of which waited 1.5 hours in line to cry with us. (If you were there in person, thank you. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.) I didn’t think it was possible to cry so hard for so long, and yet the tears still come. Sunday night was spent out at my sister’s reminiscing and laughing at old stories, even though our hearts were broken.

I thought Sunday was the hardest day, until Monday got here. I’ve heard estimates of 500 people at the funeral service, but we were so overcome with grief to even fathom a guess. The procession to Our Silent City in Kellogg was long, and the reverence paid to our procession line, by everyone stopping along the highway was amazing. The internment, followed by the balloons lifting on the breeze? No words.

The luncheon was another place to reconnect with people I’d not seen in years. If there’s a silver lining it’s that I got to see SO MANY PEOPLE, AND my favorite Great Aunt who is just shy of 102! Yes, really. She doesn’t look a day over 80 if you ask me.

Thank you to everyone who has shown support to my sister’s family and to all of us. Our lives will never be the same, but time has a way of marching forward whether or not we’re ready.

The High School added Trenton's Football Jersey number (52) to the statue out front. This is a shot of it during the day.

The High School added Trenton’s Football Jersey number (52) to the statue out front. This is a shot of it during the day.

And this is a shot of the memorial at night, with the red lights.

And this is a shot of the memorial at night, with the red lights.

This has hit Claire pretty hard. She added clover and peonies to the roses from the casket. She thought Trenton would get a kick out of that.

This has hit Claire pretty hard. She added clover and peonies to the roses from the casket. She thought Trenton would get a kick out of that.

We placed this flowers here in honor of Trenton. This dirt road continues from the gravel intersection where the accident happened.

These flowers were at the funeral, and we placed them here in honor of Trenton. This dirt road continues from the gravel intersection where the accident happened, and you can see the sunset. Hours upon hours of my childhood were spent here, and it’s with great sadness that we returned.

Note: Because I have my own child’s grief to help manage, we were able to do some “fun” things while on this impromptu trip. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting pictures. In the meantime, you can see a sneak peek here: ThisJoAnn on Instagram.

The Pothole Saga

Photo from 4.22.16

Photo from 4.22.16

“Hey, we gotta do somethin’ about the pothole at the Post Office.”
“Nah, there’s no rush. It’s been handled.”

Photo from 5.20.16

Photo from 5.20.16

“It’s been a few weeks. Have you done anything with that pothole at the Post Office?”
“Yep. The flag in the pylon kept falling over, so we taped it.”
“Good work!”

Edited to add: They fixed the pothole at the end of May! Now where are we going to go swimming?! 😉

Spring Selfie

April is almost over, and May is just around the corner! This is a busy time at school, etc., so, posting will be light!

Selfies 4.22.16

Stay tuned for more adventures!

From Shoe Chef to Sous Chef

When Claire was really little (3, I think?) she’d get so excited to help Daddy in the kitchen. (I do the cooking during the week, and he loves to cook on the weekends.) One time, she said, “Momma! Daddy said I get to be the SHOE CHEF!” I’ll never forget that moment. Tonight, the Sous Chef and Chef were hard at work for tonight’s meal. To her, this is just the way things are supposed to be. I love it.

She doesn't even need to stand on a chair to cut things anymore! *sniffle*

She doesn’t even need to stand on a chair to cut things anymore! *sniffle*

…OSHA is happy about that. 😀

The Yoda Approach to New Year Resolutions

I’ve always taken the Yoda approach to “New Year Resolutions,” in that I don’t make them. I either do something, or I don’t. (“Do or do not; there is no try.”) I don’t make a list of ways to improve, and I certainly don’t just think about it on the 1st of the calendar year.

I love my life. I’m content, and despite what the salespeople of the world are telling you, that is great! That is okay! THAT IS ENOUGH. Contentment doesn’t equate to laziness. (I have a To Do List, not a To Be List, and there’s a major difference!)

I have all I need, right here.
I am all I need, right here.
I am enough. I have enough.

I’m thankful every day for the life we’ve built. It took hard work, planning, and premeditation to get here, and I plan on being happy every day. THAT is the “happily ever after” we’re seeking. It DOES exist. (The key is that “happily” is an adverb, the WAY to live, not that everything is perfect. It means you can live happily every single day, and I truly believe that. I’ve done it, so I know it’s possible.)

That said, I wouldn’t turn down a duffel bag of unmarked bills, but that’s another story. 😀

The Day We Battled Old Mother Iowa

January 1, 1999: We were stuck in Iowa. Quite literally. The UHaul with all our worldly belongings was parked in a the apartment parking lot, freezing into a solid block of ice as the minutes grew, and all major interstates were closed. Travel was not advised. The city was shut down, due to a blizzard. The car trailer for my car was stuck in southern Iowa. (Again, quite literally.)

“Move to Colorado on January 1st?! Bah-hahaha! THINK AGAIN!” Old Mother Iowa screamed.

“YOU’LL NEVER LEAVE!” she screeched and the piles of snow grew and the temperature shrank. By evening it was clear we weren’t headed to Colorado on January 1st.

Rather than wallow in dismay, we kicked things into gear. I called the only friend I had who had a “real house.” I knew this friend was in Eastern Iowa for the holidays, but I had her mother’s landline phone number. (Actually, it was just “a phone number,” because “landline” wasn’t a necessary descriptor.)

“Do you have an outlet on the side of your house?” I asked. “Would it be okay if we plugged our UHaul into it? We can stay a few extra days in the apartment, but the complex has no outlet for us to use, and the truck will freeze solid.”

We were granted permission with a hearty “Of course! You didn’t even have to ask!” followed by a “How are you going to get over there with all the snow?”

We’re make-a-way, find-a-way kind of people, so that wasn’t even an obstacle.
How will we get there? I have no idea other than I KNOW we will. 🙂

My partner in crime drove the UHaul, and I followed in his car. (The plan was to leave the UHaul at our friend’s house and use his car back and forth. To those reading, this was The Hoopty. Oh yeah. You remember that car! You think it’s a boat on a good day, imagine it in the snow! Woooo!)

We’d both logged HOURS of blizzard driving at that point, and with no one else on the roads, it wasn’t that bad. *cough*

Once we made it to the house, my job was to direct him in backing up the UHaul to the garage so we could get it off the street and get it close to the outlet. Keep going…keep going…keep going…keep going…STOP. Perfect!

That’s when I realized I’d been looking at the bottom bumper of the truck and not the top of the truck, which I’d SOMEHOW got him to stop within TWO MILLIMETERS of their gutter! *Eeeeep!* *WHEW!*

Part 1 of the Plan to Escape Iowa’s Clutches was in effect.

Thankful I didn’t have to figure out how to tell them I’d broken their house, we hopped back in The Hoopty and made it back to the apartment.

…where we partied like it was 1999…because it was! There was nothing in the apartment except a table we’d made out of a moving box, where we ate our pizza.

Over the next couple of days, the blizzard raged on. As it waned, the car trailer was delivered, the UHaul was unplugged, and we set off to Omaha, the first stop on the Escape Route. (Where we got the UHaul utterly and thoroughly stuck on the street in front of his parents’ house.) His brother joined the caravan as a driver, and we arranged for a friend in Colorado to pick up our apartment keys, since we were delayed, and the office would be closed for the weekend when we arrived.

Colorado welcomed us with open arms and this strange glowing ball in the sky, which the natives called “the sun” and temperatures that were above freezing…which was odd for it being “winter.” In fact, we stopped for fuel out on the Eastern Plains and peeled off our coats.

“What’s the temperature?” I asked the lady at the check-out.
“Oh, it’s COLD today. I think it’s 35!”
“Wait…ABOVE ZERO?” I asked.

Coloradans still think they know what winter is…but we know the truth. (They have no idea!)

I can’t believe it’s been 17 years now.
What an adventure!

Colorado, thanks for taking us in and becoming our home.