Our youngest daughter Leah graduated this year (in spring 2021) from college with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Graphic Design. My husband Ray and our family are so proud of her for this huge accomplishment! Ray and I have rarely been able to take our children on vacation throughout the years, due to the expensive cost. But because Ray and I received our stimulus checks this year, we were able to travel to Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon to celebrate Leah’s graduation. What an amazing blessing from God!
Today is the first day of summer (you can get great summer deals today, including a free small blizzard at Dairy Queen), when it’s the longest day of the year in the U.S. and the shortest day of the year for people in Australia and residents south of the equator).
Our daughter Heather, her girls, her boyfriend Andy, and his kids, took off fast today for a much-needed break from work and a vacation in Branson, MO. It was a surprise for the kids.
There’s lots to do in Branson, although I joke to Ray that it’s “an old people’s place” with country hick singers and the entertainment shows (he loves it). However, Branson has beautiful scenery at Table Rock State Park and nice shopping and restaurants at Branson Landing.
Heather made a fun scavenger hunt at her house, where the kids looked for clues all over the house, until they got to the last clue which read that they were going on summer vacation in Branson. She is such a fun mom! The kids loved the scavenger hunt!
Today I went to lunch with our youngest daughter Leah. When she was still living at home, she and I would go to lunch every two weeks when Ray was paid.
This was our mom-daughter special time together. After she moved out, I wanted to continue the tradition. Leah now stays busy working, taking her violin lessons, drawing her art, and doing stuff with her friends. We still try to go out every couple of weeks for our “mom-daughter” time.
I try to do lunches with Heather, too, only she lives much further away (an hour), she works more than full-time hours, and she is constantly busy, but we see each other when we possibly can.
Our middle daughter Eden stays very busy too, working 3 jobs, but she and Ray regularly text and video chat. We drop by to see them at times, since they and Leah live down the street from us in Butler.
While our three precious daughters stay on the go every day and live their own, busy lives, I’m still trying to adjust to the empty nest. (I digress from the first day of summer, but I’m going with the writing flow for now.)
I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. Real hard. The house feels so empty at times. (My marriage isn’t what it should be yet, though we are in Christian marriage counseling now.)
At night when things are often too quiet, I lay down, wrestling with insomnia again, and then the mom guilt attacks me. The regrets. The painful ache in my heart, missing their beautiful, sweet faces and their physical presence here.
The haunting, condemning thoughts of, “I should have done more fun things with them” or “I shouldn’t have yelled at them so much” or “Why was I so focused on a clean house instead of just enjoying my time with them more?” Sometimes I miss them so much.
These days I do stay busy with my speaking and writing books. When I’m in between books, I get so restless, and feel like I’m just going to absolutely come out of my skin from boredom and anxiety. Today at lunch, Leah wisely told me, “You need to find new hobbies, mom.”
“Like what?” I asked her in between bites of a juicy cheeseburger and french fries drowned in ketchup.
I told her that while origami is cool, I don’t want to do that and that I don’t know how on earth to draw or to play an instrument. The only instrument I’ve ever wanted to learn how to play was piano (which I quit my lessons as a child) and the guitar, so I could pretend to be Heart’s musician Nancy Wilson. But I wanted to play bass guitar, not rhythm. I never learned how, and now I have no desire to be a rock star.
“What else can I do?” I asked my child who is wise beyond her years.
Whatever I want, she said. And Leah thinks that anyone can learn to draw or to play an instrument, no matter what your age is. It’s not too late to learn something new!
Here are some things I DO want to do–this summer:
- Spend time with God and our family;
- Travel somewhere new;
- Start my walking/jogging routine again (pray for my self-discipline, puh-leeze! I’ve gained all my weight back!)
- Drink more water and continue healthy eating (cut carbs and sugar dramatically, more salads and fresh veggies);
- Restore our marriage;
- Possibly write a children’s book with Leah illustrating the art on the front cover (she’s thinking about it!);
- De-clutter my office (tame the paper tiger!);
- Go horseback riding somewhere;
- Have some much needed down time at the beach, my place of rest and refilling;
- Visit my family and friends in different states;
- Go on another train ride;
- Speak at a women’s conference (several times would be great!);
- Lead at least one person to Christ, hopefully more;
- See God moving in our family, drawing us closer to Him and one another;
- Visit the mountains;
- Ride a hot air balloon ride with Ray, drinking champagne;
- Have roses bloom in my home garden;
- Grow more Christ-like, in the fruit of the Spirit.
- Laugh more.
These are just some of the things I’d love to do. What about you? Share your comments below.
Earlier this summer I rode the Kansas City Streetcar for the first time with our daughter Heather. It was such a blast, and I wanted to do it again and take our daughter Leah, who had never ridden it.
Although summer is the peak time, especially for the Kansas City Market with its bounty of fresh produce, beautiful flowers, and vendor tables, the streetcar runs all year long. It is also free and so much fun!
When I asked Leah what she thought of the ride, she said in her calm, easy-going, non-emotional, Leah-like way: “It’s a streetcar.” LOL! But she said she liked it.
Leah recently had her hair cut in a modified pixie. She said it took her a long time to decide to cut her hair short, but she’s so glad she did. Here’s a better picture of her than the one above. She’s so beautiful!
The KC City Market was surprisingly empty, compared to this summer when I went with Heather, although there was some fresh flowers, produce, and the international restaurants (Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese) open.
These giant daisy flowers were gorgeous and unique at one flower vendor!
These tall, colorful giraffes and big zebra at the flower vendor were unique! I asked Leah why anyone would buy these, especially since the smaller giraffe cost $150. She said, “Because it’s artsy.” (She’s an artist.)
A Marine (Navy corpsman) for over 14 years in the military and gifted in spiritual warfare, I thought my husband Ray would like the medieval knight. He’s always been fascinated by this time period in history.
The market had some fresh produce, although not nearly what there is the summer time, such as pumpkins, peppers, and strawberries.
An animal lover, Leah enjoyed seeing a variety of dogs at the market. (You do have to keep them on leashes!) We both enjoyed talking with the funny, chatty streetcar security guard named Sierra, which is also the name of a calico cat Leah used to own. Sierra the guard is a single mom of a one year old daughter, and has a fiance’ in prison. She said she told him if this relationship doesn’t work out, she’s finding a new man.
When Sierra found out where Leah lived, she told her about the Salvation Army store which has a 50 cent sale each Monday. She’s bought her daughter lots of clothes and toys there. She was so surprised to find out that Leah was almost 23 years old, thinking she was still a teen living at home. We laughed at Sierra’s expression of shock, and she reassured Leah that when she gets older she will “look good and much younger.”
You can see all walks of life in Kansas City, like this senior citizen woman with heavily-tattooed arms.
There’s lots of international restaurants at the City Market and cute coffee cafes, but Leah didn’t want to try them. So we had Mexican for supper, which is a favorite for both of us. (I’m addicted to chips and salsa!)
We usually go to Jose Pepper’s for lunch every couple of weeks for a “mom-daughter” date, but this time we ate at another Mexican place in Raymore, MO.
I’m so glad we did this, as it wasn’t very crowded and it enabled us to talk (without having to shout to each other and we could hear). The salsa was also delicious!
As we ate, Ray texted me that the weather prediction was a severe thunderstorm with winds up to 60 mph and to be careful. He had just worked a rollover car wreck. Thinking of the recent hurricanes (although we don’t have hurricanes in the mid-west, but we do have tornadoes!), I asked our other daughter Heather if I could spend the night, as we were close to her house. I hate driving in storms, but it wasn’t a good time then for me to stay over.
My own daughter didn’t care if I was driving into a tornado? Just kidding. Heather thought I’d be okay if I left then; she wouldn’t really refuse if she thought I was in grave danger!
As I drove the 50 miles to my house, God encouraged me with a “sign” of His protection and promise: not only a rainbow, but a double rainbow, which I’ve never seen before!
It really blessed me. Thankfully, although there was bad lightning, I arrived safely home. It’s a little hard to see the double rainbow in the second picture, but I did get it on camera.
Then today, Ray went out of town for a dental appointment and brought me home Mexican wedding cookies and milk chocolate from the International Market store. The chocolate is divine!
I’m allowing myself just a couple of the cookies and sending them with him to his work for others to eat!
It was so much fun riding the streetcar with my daughter Leah on her day off work.
You can easily explore Kansas City riding it. It has 16 platform tracks and 2 miles of track. There’s plenty of places to park along the way, although in some places you have to pay to park. I don’t advise using the parking meters on the streets if you want to spend a lot of time at the market. (I paid $10 at a parking garage that day.) I used my iPhone’s GPS to get there, as I’m very directionally challenged!
You can find out more information about it here.
What is left on your bucket list this year? Keep adding to it and doing fun things! Leave your comments below.