Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Happy Birthday, Chris!

Today is my son-in-law, Chris Tidd's, 39th birthday.  He is such a wonderful man and the best son-in-law anyone could hope to have. 

Every year (make that every day!) I wish I could properly show how much he means to me. This year, I decided to give him a "gift from the heart" for his birthday, rather than the traditional Amazon-wish-list-item.

The Card

First, I thought:  I'll make him a special card by taking an Art of Data class! With the proper training, I was hopeful that I could create a unique and meaningful card.


Uh... That didn't happen. The card turned out so badly it was worse than anything I ever made in elementary school.  My art skills have actually digressed. Two of the "candles" fell off (and disappeared) before I ever gave it to him. It was very embarrassing to even give it to him, but I did want him to know that I at least tried to make him a card.  I gave it to him when no one else was around, hoping that he would immediately throw it away so that no one else would see it, but when I was at his house a few days later, I saw he still had it.  Chris: Please destroy the card! Also, art lessons for me would be a welcome gift from you!

The Poem

OK, How about a poem instead?  My poems are also on the level of an elementary school child, but I am a little better with words than I am with art, so here's my poem for Chris:

My son-in-law, Chris, has a birthday today

So this poem is to honor him - Hip, hip, hooray!


Chris can grow anything, make anything, too

Take anything old, and make it look new.


Transforms discarded trash into artistic treasure

His talents are vast, way beyond measure.


But what I appreciate most, even more than his art

Is that Chris always acts with a giant-sized heart.


In his eyes you can see hints of mischief and humor

Playful with all, whether baby or Boomer.


He’s generous, creative, funny, and kind

He’s better than all the great heroes combined.


Teacher, husband, father, brother, and son

Learner, leader, and friend, all rolled into one.


I’m so grateful to have Chris in my life

So happy he made my daughter his wife.


So much more I could say, but I’ll leave it at this

These words say it all: I love you, Chris.

The Movie

A little hobby of mine is to use iMovie to create videos slideshows for people.  For my 60-until-60 project, I asked people to pick a favorite song that could be used as the background music for their movie and Chris picked a song and group I'd never heard of,  Concept 1 by Kodomo.  I've been experimenting with rewriting lyrics to the songs. (For example, I did this in my last blog post rewriting the lyrics of Happy, for my daughter-in-law, Stella.)

However, Concept 1 does not have lyrics, so.. I just created a new movie with photos and a movie featuring Chris:


My Gratitude

Finally, I'll just write 10 things (in no particular order) that I love about Chris and why I'm so grateful and proud to have him as part of our family. 

1) He treats me like another mother. I've known Chris since he was a teenager and even as a kid, he treated me with respect and kindness. I know he has a very loving mother who he's very close to and he has so much love from so many people, so he certainly doesn't need another mother. Even so, his thoughtfulness towards me and inclusiveness in family gatherings has always made me feel loved by him. I love him as though he were my own son. 

2) He's an amazing husband to my daughter. I see how well Megan and Chris have grown together over the years, complementing (and complimenting) one another, celebrating their monthly Anniversary on the 23rd of each month as well as their yearly trip each May. 

3) He's an outstanding father to my grandchildren.  Lovingly playful while also providing parental wisdom and guidance in all his interactions. Even all the "chore charts" he makes for the kids are colorful and fun.

4) He's artistic. As I just mentioned, even Chris's chore charts look artsy! Everything he creates is done with such talent. He's painted some beautiful works of art, one of which I have hanging above my fireplace, and several that have been on display at art shows in Denver.  He has such amazing talent!

5) He has such a great sense of humor. This skill of Chris's is one I think we all wish we had. He's so naturally funny in an easy-going, playful way.  I remember a family dinner we invited him to when he was dating Megan.  I was serving green beans from the garden and they tasted a little tough and I said something about them maybe being "old."  Chris made a joke, and I can't remember exactly what he said now, something like, "Well, I'm 18 myself, and very mature." But whatever it was, I remember laughing hard, thinking it was so funny! His delivery was just so spot on!  He has since performed as a stand-up comic at open-mic nights and even roasted me at my 50th birthday party. I was so honored that he volunteered!

6) He's a talented woodworker. From the incredible tree-house in their backyard, to the dog-house (that looks like a people house!) to the tiny house they are now building on their mountain property, Chris (partnering with Megan who also has amazing architecture and artistic skills) have created masterpieces! I was especially touched by the bedside table that Chris made for me in an afternoon we spent together as one of my 60-until-60 1:1 celebrations.

7) He's an incredible landscape artist and gardener. It makes sense that someone who's as artistic as Chris would be talented at landscape design and gardening, but I'm in awe.  Every time I'm over at their house, I see such a colorful array of flowers in bloom and serene sitting spots.  I remember reading "The Secret Garden" as a kid and the description of beauty as the garden was discovered. That's how I feel as I walk into their backyard garden.

8) Chris has such optimism, always seeing positivity in a situation.  Last year, Chris had an accident when he was working on his tiny house and severely sliced his right hand. This was a big deal! The doctors didn't know if he'd have full use of his hand again. But Chris didn't complain at all.  If anything, he downplayed the whole accident and said he was grateful for Megan and the kids for helping him carry on with the work he wanted to do on the house. I don't think I've ever heard him feel sorry for himself or play the victim. 

9) Chris gets excited about even the smallest things. I noticed at Christmas that no matter what gift Chris opened, he genuinely seemed super-psyched about the gift. Once one of my kids gave him a broken trumpet (I think..  It's hard for me to remember because, to me, it just looked like a piece of junk.) But Chris was so excited about it! (Note: This habit of Chris's to get excited about any gift, may not be as strong as it used to be. I do not notice the same level of enthusiasm over my Dollar Tree finds...)

10) Chris is kind. Not just when-people-are-watching-kind...  genuinely kind. He's helped me with my ALS fundraisers, he's checked on me when I've had health issues, he's cared and participated in my projects and parties.  He is such a thoughtful, caring, compassionate, and good man. I have so much admiration and love for him and so grateful that he is in our lives.

BlueMountain eCard

Oh, and one more! Here's a personalized eCard! (I think these cards are so cool!)


So there you have it, Chris..  My gifts from the heart!  Next year I'll go back to the Amazon Wish List (maybe with a few Dollar Tree goodies on the side!)


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Because She's Stella!

 



Because She’s Stella!

 

It might seem crazy what I’m  'bout to say

I know a gal who is brilliant in every way

Makes you feel special every single day

Gotta dare? She won’t care, baby she’ll play!

 

Huh (Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know she shines in all that she wants to do

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know that she gives her whole big heart to you

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know she’s pure happiness, it’s true

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you feel like you want to know her too

 

 

Every Thursday we’re talking this and that (Yeah)

Well now she’s moving with my son Matt (Yeah)

Well I should probably warn you I'll be just fine (Yeah?)

‘Cause I’ll be following in just a matter of time

 

Here's why

Huh (Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know she shines in all that she wants to do

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know that she gives her whole big heart to you

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know she’s pure happiness, it’s true

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you feel like you want to know her too

 

She brings me up

Her acts of love

She warms my heart

So super smart

Themes and puns 

I love her tons

My level's too high to bring me down

Can't nothing, bring me down, I said

 

Clap along if you know she shines in all that she wants to do

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know that she gives her whole heart to you

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know she’s pure happiness, it’s true

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you feel like you want to know her too

 

 

Clap along if you know she shines in all that she wants to do

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know that she gives her whole heart to you

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know she’s pure happiness, it’s true

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you feel like you want to know her too

 

Brings me up (Stella, Stella, Stella, Stella)

Acts of love (Stella, Stella, Stella, Stella)

No words can say, my heart’s  too full

Of love for who? (Stella, Stella, Stella, Stella)

Can't nothing (Stella, Stella, Stella, Stella)

Bring me down, I said

 

Clap along if you know she shines in all that she wants to do

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know that she gives her whole heart to you

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know she’s pure happiness, it’s true

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you feel like you want to know her too

 

 

Clap along if you know she shines in all that she wants to do

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know that she gives her whole heart to you

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you know she’s pure happiness, it’s true

(Because she’s Stella)

Clap along if you feel like you want to know her too

 

Come on

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Microadventure #8: Pelican Cabaret Singers at Sun City Center

This microadventure really started with a macroadventure that involved me singing on stage under the tutelage of Faye Nepon. Through that performance, I was introduced to Faye's sister, Cyd Charrow, who is part of the Pelican Cabaret Singers.

When I heard that the Pelican Cabaret Singers were going to be performing not too far from Sarasota, I absolutely wanted to attend!

The performance invitation read:

The Pelican Cabaret Singers will perform after a delicious lunch by Banquet Masters in Community Hall on Saturday February 12.  The doors will be open at 11:30 a.m. to view raffle baskets and socialize;  lunch at noon;  followed by a performance by the Pelican Players Cabaret Singers.

I was told that the performance would be in "Sun City Center" which sounds like a building, but as it turns out, it's actually the city name of a 55+ community.  Though this created a bit of confusion for both me and my GPS, I eventually figured out that this little city was very close to Ruskin, the place that Kellie, from Microadventure #5 lives.  Kellie had said she'd be happy to meet up for microadventures, and she likes theater (we both love "Beauty and the Beast" and Disney music) and happily accepted my invitation to join me!


I'd been eating very healthfully since the beginning of the year..  including no desserts, sugar, or chocolate.  However, I could not resist completely indulging at this delicious luncheon.

There was a buffet-style with salads, veggies, chicken, and lasagna.


Check out the dessert table! Though I started with the carrot cake, I admit, I went back for samplings of the cheese cake and chocolate cake. It was Valentine's week after all..


The program included some fun show tunes that I hadn't heard in years.  The audience couldn't help but snap their fingers or sway to the beat on some of these old favorites.  "King of the Road" brought back happy memories - Glenn Campbell on the record player when I was a kid.


Cyd's performance was "Gimme Gimme" from the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie."  I haven't seen that play yet, but after watching this performance, I'm putting it on my list! Cyd did an awesome job! 


It was such fun to see this performance and share it with Kellie.  Musical theater, delicious food, and new friends! What a treat!

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Microadventure #7: Exploring Sarasota and the Art Ovation Hotel with Samar

I met Samar at Mutual of Omaha where we were both working as Agile coaches through her sister, Sally's company, Agile Transformations.  A week or so ago, Samar texted me and told me that she, Sally, and the whole gang from Agile Transformations was going to be at a conference at the Art Ovation Hotel in Sarasota!

I picked Samar up at the Sarasota-Bradenton airport at around noon and we had the whole afternoon together! The weather was beautiful and sunny - the first in several days - so we had a nice long walk, ending at Marina Jacks, enjoying a delicious lunch on the patio.  We even saw several dolphins as they surfaced


The streets of Sarasota are adorned with these pretty painted bicycles


Lunch at Marina Jacks

Samar is a wonderful and wise friend. We reminisced about the days when we were working at MoO with our friend and fellow-coach, Ryan, and talked about how all 3 of us have succeeded in having the dreams we were hoping for come to pass..  both personally and professionally.

Ryan, me, and Samar in 2018 in Omaha

When we got back to the Art Ovation, we were able to take a tour and hear about the art that was on display as well as hear about the artists.




The hotel was unique with lots of artsy touches throughout. Even the rooms had sketchbooks, colored pencils, and other interesting items... all for sale (at very high prices!)



I especially liked the rooftop that had a bar, infinity pool, and cozy outdoor furniture.


Sally (Samar's sister) didn't get into Sarasota until about 5:30pm. I'm glad I got a chance to see her, too.. She's one of the most respected Agile leaders there is and I feel so lucky and proud to know her personally.

Sally, Samar, and me!

So ends another unplanned microadventure.  A couple of weeks ago, I had no idea that Samar would be in town. How fortuitous that the conference was here in Sarasota and that we were able to spend such a gorgeous day reconnecting!

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Microadventure #6: Bird-Watching at Oscar Scherer State Park


This week's microadventure has been every bit as much about the "who" as the "what" and "where."  Yes, bird-watching at Oscar Scherer State Park was a new, unique experience for me. I'd never really been exposed to the world of bird-watching, and Eva is quite a serious birder! It was interesting for me to learn about the "Big Year Challenge" in which birders find and log as many different species of birds in a particular area during a year.  That kind of thing is SO up my alley.

On this hike, we were in hot pursuit of the Florida scrub-jay, which, unfortunately, we were not able to find. 


Though we didn't find the illusive jay, Eva still captured some worthy bird photographs. She recently started a new business, evasbirdsiview.com with her wonderful bird photography captured on shirts and greeting cards.  She even gifted me with the pretty pick-me-up Pelican greeting card. 


As I said, though, this microadventure, was extra special because of the women who I shared it with. Becky had invited a group of girlfriends, Eva, Feli, and Georgette, to spend the weekend with her. These ladies have known each other and been close for over 50 years, though they've been geographically scattered.  Eva and Feli are cousins and they are all as close (or closer) than sisters and their love and support for one another is apparent.


They all share a love of singing and I enjoyed an evening of untethered joy on the first night of their reunion as Eva and Becky got out their guitars and sang together. 


On that first night, Becky's sister, Susie, joined the reunion, singing harmony.


But the highlight of the weekend was hearing and recording a song that Georgette and written long ago, "Any Way She Can" and she and Eva had put to music. The lyrics of this unique love song are a powerful testament to the long-time love and friendship that all these women share.  Eva's daughter is in the music business, so I hope she's able to get this in front of the right people. Both the music and lyrics are enough to make me tear up whenever I hear it.


So, again, this week's microadventure was much more than a hike in a park..  it was about being accepted and welcomed into a special sisterhood weekend, giving me a peek into the lives of these unique, talented women who have gone "any place, anywhere, any way they can!"



Monday, January 31, 2022

Microadventure #5: Ruskin and Apollo Beach with Christine and Kellie

Say what you will about Facebook, but I find it an awesome tool for staying in touch with friends from around the world.  Just like in Microadventure #4, I, once again, discovered an old friend was in Florida.  This time, the friend was Christine, someone I'd met in 2017, the year I was working at Mutual of Omaha. Christine was vacationing on her own in Tampa.  I gave her a call and found out she only had one day left of her vacation and she'd made a new friend, Kellie, at the airport, who she had plans to meet up with.

Two friendly, single, independent women make perfect Microadventure Buddies! I asked if I could tag along, and received a welcoming thumbs up!

We all met at Kellie's beautiful new home in Ruskin, FL, which turned out to be exactly the half-way point between Sarasota (where I'm staying) and Tampa (where Christine was staying).  

The Gulf Coast is going through a bit of a cold, rainy, cloudy spell right now, so the weather wasn't exactly the tropical paradise that one would hope for, but still nice, compared to the weather most of the rest of the nation was experiencing.

Our adventure started with a lovely hike at the Wolf Branch Nature Preserve in neighboring Apollo Beach, FL



 

I just love those big trees with their draping Spanish Moss creating romantic canopies. Bailey, Kellie's dog enjoyed the expansive trail, too, and was always ahead, scouting the way for us.

Our next stop was the Manatee Viewing Center, offering up more pretty walkways, gift shop, an opportunity to pet stingray, and, of course, the main attraction - a manatee viewing area.  The manatee are supposed to be more observable during rainy, cold days, but, unfortunately, we didn't see any.  However, I discovered, you can use Webcams to see them via your computer from anywhere, too!  This worked a lot better than the live viewing! They were all over the place!



You can zoom in and adjust your camera, so it's very cool!  

However, of course, being there in person was very fun and I loved seeing all the stingray swim by in the stingray petting area.




Our final stop was the Sunset Grill and Beach Bar, a cute lunch spot on the beach.  You can't go to Apollo Beach without going to the beach, right?  Even though it was a bummer that it was a rainy day, it was fun to listen to the live music and enjoy some warming seafood bisque soup.




Awesome Microadventure!