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Ode to Summer

Family Time, life, Mothering 101, Travel and Adventure, Uncategorized

I’ve been buried eyes deep in packing boxes, fresh from the “big move.” Racing to make the new house “home” so that we can get back to the pace of real life again. You’ll hear more about that adventure soon. Since I haven’t had much time to write, I thought I’d post my first “guest blogger” and share this lovely article, Ode to Summer, with you.

Enjoy!  I think you’ll enjoy it as much as  I did when I read it.

Ode to Summer

Those lazy, crazy days of summer! Photo Credit Suzanne Scheve 2017

I’m sitting on a California beach watching my daughter jump the waves. This year we swapped our annual crazy road trip for a stay on the west coast, and at the end of an idyllic, albeit busy, ten day vacation with my family, I suddenly find myself staring at a new school year lurking just around the corner. While I’m excited to get my class list and finish organizing my room, I’m definitely not ready for summer’s last hurrah.

Summers Past

When I was my daughter’s age, I counted the days to our annual two-week beach trip by number of sleeps until the big day arrived.    We didn’t own a car, so travel was by motor coach to the south coast of England, a 7-8 hour mostly tedious journey, endless motorways finally giving way to the first views of the twinkling blue waves at the bottom of the hill as we pulled into the bus station at our destination.

We always stayed at a B&B for our fortnight of sand, sea, and sun; usually chosen sight-unseen from a holiday book, sandwiched somewhere along a row of Victorian three-storey homes, mostly the same on the outside, but revealing the personal stamp of the owners on the inside.  Creaky floorboards, uneven staircases, and old paisley carpets were de rigeur, however; along with the smells of morning bacon wafting up the stairs as we woke to the alarm call of the gulls wheeling in the impossibly-blue skies; the sound of stainless steel spoons in bowls of cereal, the scrape of knives and forks as you ate up every scrap of that full English breakfast which always tasted better on holiday.

Nell at the beach, Cardiff, CA. Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

Sand Castles and Salty-Sea-Lips

Most days were unplanned but usually had the same routine –  heading down the Chine to the beach with a towel (sometimes splurging on a deck chair); digging sand castles with a new bucket and spade; salty-sea-lips, mixed in with the taste of suncream and lunchtime baps filled with tomatoes, cheese, the obligatory packet of crisps,  and some form of lunchmeat.  Most importantly, it was essential to time the return to the B&B perfectly so that we’d be first to stake a claim on the communal bathroom – otherwise we’d be relegated to a quick cold dip in the tub, or worse, a ‘lick and a promise’ with Quickies and cold water in our attic twin room.  The bedroom sink did double duty as an underwear rinsing station too: M&S smalls hung to dry on a makeshift clothesline outside the window – and never a problem until one day a gust of wind blew a very sparkly pair of my purple knickers off the window sill and onto the No Vacancy sign in the parking area, where they remained until Mum rather sheepishly reclaimed them before dinner that night.

On the days when the tide was high and the beach area was reduced to a few feet, we’d take day trips to explore nearby towns and sights: a local safari park and forest, miniature recreations of British and worldwide monuments; we’d play mini-golf or time-waste in thAe penny arcade; or shop for souvenirs at Beale’s or W.H. Smith’s.  In the evenings, we’d walk into town or hop on the open top bus and ride the cliff roads with views of the bay: the Aqua show, Pier Theatre, and the fairy lights in the Public Gardens were always at the top of our post-dinner to-do list.

Sometimes we would go to the pictures – I remember seeing the Sound of Music for the first time and crushing on Colonel Von Trapp; belly-laughing at the corny jokes of Airplane!; and the summer of the disaster movie – Earthquake with the simulated shaking in the theatre; Towering Inferno with a sweaty Paul Newman and George Kennedy; and Jaws of course, after which every innocuous black shape in the sea caused a mild panic on the beach.

Years later, I look back at old photographs and find great joy in those memories of childhood summer holidays.  How lucky I was!  And how lucky I am in my summers now, to be able to spend many days off with my own daughter.   My Junes are filled with swim team and Vacation Bible School – quite possibly the best summer invention ever; my Julys and early Augusts calendared with trips by road or plane to visit family.

This summer, my goal was to get my house in order and focus (my one little word for 2017) on the myriad personal projects I never have time for during the school year.  I’ve organized and reorganized my pantry, kitchen, and the bedrooms; prepped for my new classroom; purged, tossed, and shredded paper piles; donated, sold, and put away the contents of my closet; finally tackled my tangled up jewellery boxes;  read more books for pleasure than for professional development; and most importantly, carved out serious quality time making new summer memories with my girl.

My grand daughter, Nell and “grand dog” Toro, a.k.a “Mush” Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

Last week, on our connecting flight here, I found myself sitting next to a mother who had recently lost her Navy son to a tragic accident.  She was on her way to give comfort to her daughter-in-law, who was drowning in despair, struggling to come up for air with a seven-month old son.  We talked about loss; about hanging on to faith by your fingernails when everything seems overwhelming; how there is no timeline on grief; how anxiety and depression can overwhelm your soul in those early days of loss; and how the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel can seem as unattainable as the summit of Everest when the pain of loss is but a few days old.

Time Waits for No Man……. or Woman

In 9 days, I will be exactly the same age as my husband was when he left this earth – 52 years and 98 days old.  28 days after that will be the 6th anniversary of his passing.  My daughter is a rising 5th grader who will turn 11 in October.   She tells me she remembers his voice.  I hear his laugh in hers, and see his kindness in her thoughtful ways.  She is his legacy of love.

Stopping the clock to freeze our favourite moments in time; pushing the snooze button on summer; tweaking the past with a time-turner – these are not available options for us.  In times of loss, it’s easy to clutch at the past, as a drowning man grabs for a lifebelt.  Time passes, and the rawness of immediate grief gives way to what is often called a new normal (I hate that term by the way); we resolve to go forward; to try to live our best lives, appreciate what we have, while we have it.  To be present in the moment and enjoy those simpler pleasures.  Dust bunnies and laundry can wait til tomorrow. Our lives shouldn’t be measured by piles of stuff, but too often, those piles become our defining memories.

Simple Pleasure of Summer

So summer of 2017, here’s to you and your simple pleasures…..

….to lazy days of walking on the beach and jumping the waves….

…..to that can’t-put-down novel and languishing in luscious language……

…..to sunburned shoulders and freckled faces…..

…..,to diving in the deep end of a pool and blowing bubbles through noses….

…..to cold pizza and icecream for breakfast, juicy watermelon dripping down chins, and everything good to eat…..

…to sleeping in on weekday mornings, and napping on the wraparound porch as the hummingbirds dive bomb the hanging baskets like kamikaze pilots…..

Cheers to you, summer…..

Cardiff-by-the-Sea CA. Beach. Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

A bit about the author:

Suzanne Scheve is a single mom and a third grade teacher living in Houston, Texas, with her daughter, dog, and cat.  She enjoys traveling, cooking, eating anything on a plate, and hanging with her extended family in California, St. Louis, and on the East Coast.

Suzanne is also my step-daughter, from a previous marriage (it’s complicated, and FAR too difficult to explain here! She is also the fabulous mother of my only Granddaughter, Nell. Suzanne is a talented writer and photographer, in addition to her other previously named skills. I will vouch for her love for travel, cooking and eating! I have witnessed her abilities in all 3 activities!

Just days after they were with us for our summer visit, and their return home to Houston, Hurricane Harvey hit. Luckily, their home wasn’t damaged, and they were not impacted as severely as many there were.  We are blessed to have these two females as a vibrant and important part of our family.

You can find more of Suzanne’s writings at https://suiteanglaise.wordpress.com

By the way, If you haven’t yet subscribed to my blog, do it now! As soon as the boxes and clutter are cleared away, and I can get back to “real life” I’m going to be running some fabulous “subscriber only” contests!  You don’t want to miss your chance at fabulous free stuff—- do you?SUBSCRIBE ALREADY!

 

Faded Photographs…….

Family Time, Household DIY, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, The Queen's Castle- DIY, Uncategorized

Out With “The Old?”

There is no doubting that in our lives, time passes, things change, people come and go from our lives.  On my computer, my screensaver is a constantly changing round of all of the photos stored on my computer.  I have never gone in and purged photos from the years past, so, undoubtedly, photos from past relationships show up, my children’s past relationships, sometimes family or friends who are no longer with us, or aren’t any longer a part of my life.  My daughter has expressed shock that a picture of an old boyfriend of hers will pop up on my screen. “Mom, why do you still have THAT on your computer?”  I’m sure there has been the occasional time my man has walked past my computer to see a picture pop up of me with one of my ex’s.

You may wonder why I don’t “purge” those photos from my computer.  Time. Or lack of it may be one reason.  However, even if I had the time to go through dozens of files of photos to take out those from past relationships, I probably wouldn’t do it.

This silly picture is me, my daughters, Alyse and KT. We went up to Long Beach, to see my sister who was visiting from Illinois. This was New Years Eve Day, and who could resist these glasses? (I still have 2 pairs!) It’s one of those memories of a great family day, filled with silliness!

Memories of Days Gone By

Each and every one of those photos are a part of me.  Although a breakup happened, those photos typically represent a small snapshot of time, a time that I was enjoying the day, the person, the event.  To purge those photos would be purging a happy memory.  While a relationship, in “the whole” might not have worked, the day at the beach was a good one.  The family trip may have been a special one.  The wedding we attended was a beautiful day for the couple involved, even if that couple’s relationship- or mine- may not still be intact.

Seeing those pictures from years past often give me a brief spark of memory of what redeeming quality  I did see in that person at the time, and make the “mistake” of the relationship a little less piercing.

And if you know me, you know I’m a bit vain, so seeing myself as I looked a few years back is a fun kick in the pants too!  “Damn, I looked pretty darned good at that family party, I must say!” “What was I thinking wearing that Christmas sweater?”  “Look how young the kids were there!”  “That was such a fun vacation! I remember that we did (this or that) on that trip!”

Traces of Love… And Friends No Longer With Us

If you are old enough, you may remember the song, “Traces of Love”, which had the lines, “faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases, tickets torn in half, memories in bits and pieces…traces of love, long ago, that didn’t work out right….. traces of love with me, tonight.”  Our digital photos no longer fade and crease, but our memories often do.  The constant replaying of those photos helps me to remember those days, those moments and those memories.

I love the feeling of looking at my computer, and chuckling over a particularly silly time, or feeling that little “tug” on my heartstrings when a photo of a friend who is no longer with us pops up.

My lovely friend, Sharon Freed. So gorgeous, so much fun! When we worked together, we would laugh so hard our stomachs would hurt. Gone too fast, and too young. When this picture pops up, although I look like a complete DORK in this picture, seeing my friend makes me smile every time! Yes, it’s bittersweet, but memories of our times together are nothing BUT sweet!

Life’s “Before” and “Afters”

I have photos of the first home I purchased as a single woman, about 5 years ago.  At the time, I had recently come out of a marriage to a financially reckless man who left my finances devastated, my credit score well below 500, and no credit cards to my name.  The ability to purchase this home was totally unexpected- kind of kismet, you might say.  So, as I remodeled this home, doing vast amounts of the work with my own two (manicured) hands,  not only did I build myself a new “home”- I was in the process of building a new life. Reinventing myself, and reinventing this dated mobile home into something I was proud of.  I can remember the nights I worked at that house until 2 or 3 am getting it ready to move into. I loved that home, I shared it with numerous friends, having many events there. The sweat equity I built into that home became  a springboard to purchase my second home as a single woman, the home I currently live in.

This was the “before” of my bedroom at the home I redecorated.

Here is the same bedroom after I worked on the house.

Looking at those photos when they randomly pop up- whether it is one of the “before” photos of a dated, worn out kitchen, or the unpainted 1970’s dingy, dark paneling, or the “after” pictures of the fabulous 1940’s style black, white and crystal bathroom I created, I feel a great sense of accomplishment for having made my way through what could have been a dark time.

Here was the kitchen when I took possession of the house. Yes, all of this junk was left for me!

Here is the after on the same kitchen. I LOVED that kitchen! I did it on a shoestring- pulling out the old cabinets myself, re-using the stove, and getting a refrigerator free from a friend! This picture wasn’t taken ‘staged’- so ignore the stuff on the countertops!  You’ve got to remember, many of these photos were taken for “memory’s sake.” I had no idea I’d have a blog where I was sharing them!

There is no rhyme or reason to the order my photos from my past show up.  Some pictures will have rotated 20 times through my screen, when others don’t seem to appear for months, but whatever is on my screen, there is ALWAYS a memory sparked.  Often a smile.  Sometimes a shake of the head and an eye roll, along with “What the hell was I thinking.”  But no matter what the reaction, I know that what I am seeing is a snapshot of my past. And every one of them add up to having made me the woman I am today. The unique me that I am.  Every one of them is a treasure to me, and to my ever fading memories of my past.  Will I clear out those photos of my ex, my daughter’s ex, even the “friend” who might have turned out NOT to be such a great friend?  Probably not.  Because every one of the memories that pop up before my eyes are there for a reason.

My darling grand daughter Nell and me at Disneyland. We were attending the “Princess Lunch” and you can see she was thrilled! (So was I, obviously, because I was wearing a tiara….. Once the Queen, always the Queen, and don’t you forget it!) Nell is 10 now, and she was only 4 here!