Bittersweet Spring

April 19, 1988, at Ohio State was one of those stunningly sunny days, one of the first truly warm days of the year. Everyone was feeling buoyant and you could see it in the ways the students swaggered through campus. I distinctly remember sitting in some business class before lunch on the first floor of Hagerty Hall. The windows were flung open, brilliant sunshine pouring in accompanied by a warm breeze wafting throughout the room.

Hagerty was among the least glamorous buildings on campus and it had no air conditioning just to punctuate that fact. I wore a lightweight sweater and brand new floral jeans that morning…so by 11am it was way too warm for the surprise heat but I was nevertheless sporting some pretty funky clothes for me, an accounting major.

Yes, it was the kind of day that heralded an early summer in Columbus. Undergrads whipped out the shorts for the first time in months, laid out on the Oval, threw frisbees, and tolerated the fake, crazy preacher-dude who frequently admonished the masses who gathered around to listen. Just a typical spring day on campus, really. I was a junior and mid-terms were upon us.

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The rest of the day was a blur but by evening, I was sitting in a random room somewhere else on campus tutoring students in Accounting 101. Ohio State’s campus was huge, and we weren’t anywhere near the business school for this tutoring class. I don’t think I had even been in that building before. I didn’t tutor very often; a group of us honors accounting students took turns, and so I reported for duty in the evening of the 19th, and was helping someone work through the debits and credits of a fixed asset sale.

I heard a familiar, stern, but out-of-place voice call out from the hall:  “Denise,” he said in his clipped way. “We’ve got to go. Now.”

I looked up to find my brother in the doorway. My face fell.

My brother and I don’t exactly get along. We were barely on speaking terms back then, and not much has changed all these years later, sad to say. So for me to see him in the doorway of a random room on OSU’s campus at 7pm that evening was a life-changing event.

My brother is six years older than me. He lived in Columbus at the time, but he barely knew where I lived on campus or that much about me for that matter. There I was, doing the instant mental math of calculating what it must have taken for him to track me down on that huge campus before cell phones, email, and personal computers. The answer was staggering. I mean, even my roommate Lora didn’t know where I was tutoring; she only knew that I was tutoring. Well, brotherly duty and all, he managed somehow to track me down to the room. I knew it had to be something serious.

My heart raced as I joined him in the hallway for some privacy. He explained, “They think mom had a heart attack. She’s in the hospital and it doesn’t look good. Kathy said to pack good clothes for the trip home.”

Kathy is our sister. Home is a two-hour car ride east to the border of Ohio with West Virginia, where my mom was in the hospital.

I don’t remember much after that. We stopped at my campus apartment, I packed for what sounded like a pending funeral, and he and I drove the two hours home in near total silence. I’m sure we went straight to Wheeling Hospital on arrival in the Ohio Valley, home. It had to be 10pm by then.

Our two sisters and their husbands were already there. Kathy looked at me, and cried, “What are we going to do without our Mom?” She ushered me to join Dad and our other sister as we walked into my mother’s hospital room. I saw someone in the bed but turned, thinking we entered a stranger’s room by mistake.

Kathy stopped me. “No, Denise. This is Mom.”

Utter shock consumed me and I stopped breathing to take in the scene, something my 20 year old eyes had never encountered before. I didn’t recognize that woman in the bed, tubes inserted and a loud machine helping her lungs breathe, IVs dripping, the beep of the EKG monitor…  That woman’s face was covered with a mask. She was completely unconscious and very swollen, her skin color was strange, her hair wild with significant gray roots overtaking her light brown hair, not exactly well groomed. That’s…..Mom???

A curtain of unfamiliarity had fallen to separate us.

None of us slept that evening….we all just laid in bed barely breathing, staring at our old bedroom ceilings in our parents’ house, silently trying to piece together the day’s events….trying to make sense of what on earth happened…trying to prepare for what was about to happen…and how life was suddenly, drastically different.


At same time I sat in a warm sunny classroom reflecting on the gorgeous day, back in my hometown Dad told Mom he was headed to buy groceries and that he’d be gone maybe 20 minutes, in and out.

After Dad left, Mom picked up the phone to call a former high school teacher of mine. She saw the teacher’s picture in the paper that earlier that week, and remembered her as the advisor for one of my senior activities. Mom was concerned that she had come across as meddlesome to the teacher and her advisory work three years earlier, when the teacher was pregnant with her first child. Mom regretted the idea that she may have dampened this woman’s efforts… and knew how heightened a woman’s sensitivity is when pregnant. Now that she had some time to reflect on it and was reminded of the teacher from the paper, she thought she would call to apologize for being troublesome, bring closure to the whole episode, and thank the teacher for her work. The advisory activities were volunteer work on the part of the teacher, after all.

So there was Mom, on the kitchen phone with my former advisor gabbing and laughing like she did hundreds and hundreds of days before, when she suddenly exclaimed how she had “such a bad headache”.  She immediately dropped to the ground and down the phone came with her.

My advisor had no idea what just happened. These were the days before 911. All she could think to do was hang up and then reach for the phone book. She had no idea which entry in the phone book was ours or IF she’d find an entry for my family. Luckily there were only three entries for my family name in the phone book. Gotta love a small town! She dialed my Uncle George’s house first and Aunt Josie answered. My aunt immediately called the local volunteer paramedics who were two minutes away by car.

Dad walked in the door of our house to find Mom on the kitchen floor and the paramedics arrived two minutes after him. Aunt Josie arrived immediately after that.

They revived Mom on the spot, apparently…but for all intents and purposes…she was gone. Massive stroke, cerebral hemmorhage…we don’t really know what it was officially but based on what we know about our family, I’m going with an aneurysm. The maternal grandmother I never met had one as did a cousin, so chances are excellent that’s what it was. Mom didn’t want “investigative” work in the form of an autopsy, so we’ll never really know.


After our sleepless night our immediate family trekked back to Wheeling Hospital to sit with Mom all day, then watch as they carted her off for EEG testing and return. Whoever the hell her doctor was had not one ounce of compassion. When the tests were done, he  blew through the doorway and coldly announced to all of us, “Mr. Silon, the results of the EEG show that Katherine has no brain activity. Would you like to shut off the life support machine?”

Just like that. Just.like.freaking.that.

Something about the doctor’s tone implied we didn’t have – correction – Dad didn’t have time to decide. The doc wanted an answer. Now. Dad could barely choke out his answer, but he did.

“Y…es…”

And just like that…click…they shut off her breathing device and it wheezed to a stop.

I distinctly remember thinking how the doctor’s report was not a surprise but it still hurt like hell to hear him say it. And how it was not my position as the youngest daughter to intervene in the events taking place before my eyes, but I couldn’t believe how this was spiraling downward before me so rapidly. There I was, absolutely mute. Inside, I was screaming. I do that a lot, scream internally while desperately trying and failing to find composed words to say so I don’t sound like a madwoman.

Doesn’t the man get a moment to think about it privately? Doesn’t the man get a moment to say goodbye to his spouse of four decades, alone, or with us kids if he so chooses? Are you demanding an answer right this very second? OMG, that’s exactly what you want. It’s like you need to turn the hospital room for someone else…like you’re the maitre ‘d turning tables at a popular restaurant. What the hell is wrong with you?

But in that same split second, you realize you’re wasting your energy and witnessing one of the most sacred events you’ll ever experience.

My Dad’s bottom lip trembled, and tears streamed down his face as he leaned over to kiss Mom on the forehead as she took her last forced breath: “Thank you, for 41 wonderful years.” Of course my Dad knew exactly how many years they had been married…he was a very good and faithful husband that way. He really was a tender-heart for as much as people assumed he was Mr. Tough.

My sisters, brother, Dad and I were gathered around her bed, at least that’s all I can remember in my mind. I may or may not have held her right hand. I really can’t remember other than picturing my Dad and those damn machines, and knowing we were all there as witnesses.

It was, however, some time before Mom’s heart stopped beating on its own, or so it seemed….We sat in silence as it happened. And when it was all over, Kathy whimpered, “See?  She had a strong heart…”

 

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It’s all I can do to remember the last hug between my Mom and me – in the middle of our living room two Sundays before she died, on Easter, or Pascha as we Orthodox call it, 1988. It was the biggest bear hug. I felt a little more grown up that Spring. The adolescent-menopausal bickering that had consumed our relationship for the prior, oh, seven years was finally starting to melt. It felt hopeful, that hug. Maybe my relationship with my mother was finally on the mend. It was not a good one, and it hadn’t been for years.

She called me the following Sunday after Easter when I was trying to study for my mid-terms. By the time she rang around 7pm in the evening, I had already spent the entire day trying to study but allowed myself to be interrupted by a half dozen friends wanting to talk. By the time she called, I was getting a little panicked about my lack of studying so I was short, impatient, with her.

She sounded really down on the phone. Sad and lonely. She just wanted to talk, and I knew it. But I explained that I really, really had to study at the point and hung up the phone. I distinctly remember hanging over the edge of the bed with the phone dropped to the ground before me. It was the kind of hardwired phone that didn’t need a cradle. As long as you laid it on a flat surface, it was dormant. I stared down at that phone on the floor.

“Ah….Denise…she just wanted to talk…you could have taken a few minutes to talk like you did for EVERYONE else today…and you didn’t even tell her you loved her!

Eh….next time!”

And I rolled over, and threw open my book finally to study.

It was the last time I ever spoke with my mom.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Most of the rest of those days after she passed are a blur.  All these years later, I reflect on April 19 and 20 as the days my mother died. Sure, the obituary says April 20. But when I walked into that hospital room that evening…that wasn’t my Mom. I firmly believe she was gone from this world.

All these years later, I still don’t know “where” she was while she laid on that hospital bed. Was she in the room? Was she in her body? Was her spirit free to roam where she wanted? Was she already in heaven? Was she trapped? It’s agonizing to have no answers. 20-year-old me wanted answers. 50-year-old me hasn’t moved beyond wanting those answers. It’s like I’m still stuck there, with my 20-year-old mind and its questions.

It makes me truly wonder what happens to us upon our passing…since hers was prolonged and yet not. I am still really confused by this. Is it painful for the soul to be in that state of limbo? I wish I knew…or maybe I don’t. I just hope she wasn’t scared… wherever she was….if the soul has feelings at that point or is disoriented away from its body. It is really, really confusing for me.

In my heart, I know that I’ll see her again. With the freakishly fast passage of time, I realize it really won’t be that much longer before I do.


Mom’s adored kid brother Louis was born on the first day of spring, which for most people is a happy, promising day. But for her? She cried every year because she missed him so much. He died as a handsome 28-year-old several years before I was born.

Spring was always bittersweet for her, just as it is for me now. Just when the sun starts shining, the flowers are blooming, and the breeze feels warmer, I blink my eyes and find myself sitting in that first floor room at Hagerty Hall. I relive this crazy way I lost my Mom – where it happened in a flash yet took another 24 hours. How it ended with a click, a kiss, and the slowing pace of an EKG machine down to its final beep.

Spring is always bittersweet.

 

Good Gracious, Get Writing!

Hey all! Sorry for the slightly extended blog absence. Ah…life snuck up on me with various kid events, Easter (aka Pascha to all you Orthodox Christians out there), some surprises at work that changed the tempo and priority of my projects, a moderate-to-severe case of the mid-life funk, and ta-da! The big Cuba trip has come and gone. The timing was perfect given my case of the funk.

Maybe I need to start referring to it as The Funk. Whadya think?

michal-parzuchowski-224092-unsplashYa know, sometimes it feels like life is a giant game of Jenga, and I’m trying so hard to stay in the game…

I will be writing about the other events and Cuba here soon, with some pictures from the trip although not the best ones as I forgot the good camera. I hardly ever think to pull it out these days since most of my photos are snapped on the iPhone.

I’ve also been chipping away at a couple of pieces that are longer than my usual entries and trying to figure out if I should split them out into a series of posts or just a couple of long ones. Tell me what you think about the length of my typical posts. Do you get lost or disinterested in the longer ones? I am eager to hear your feedback so I know what resonates with all of you.

Just wanted to say hey, I missed writing, I miss you all, and stay tuned for some substantive posts before long.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast Party

Since starting this blog last September, I have thrown around a few hints about how I listen to podcasts, and I then I joked:

Where have you been all my life?

Let me back up a bit. For the last several years I have had a 30-minute, one-way commute to work Monday-Friday on a country road past a handful of quintessential Ohio farms. Horses, llamas, cattle, and corn. I’m not much of a country girl but you know what? The visual is pretty soothing, which beats staring at tail lights and pumping my brakes non-stop while I inhale automobile exhaust headed in the other direction toward Cleveland.

It’s a bit hard for me to do nothing on the drive. It’s an hour of my day, after all. I’ve tried all sorts of things to occupy my time. I have tried listening to certain local radio shows, certain national radio shows, Sirius XM, streaming music from my iPhone, books on audio, silence (which, let’s be honest, wasn’t ever really silence because the voices in my head would talk the entire time about the situation I was leaving at home in the morning or at work in the evening), and prayer (because, well, the voices….duh).

A couple of years ago I was forced to find inspiration in every nook and cranny I could find it. Maybe one day I’ll get the courage to write about that story because it was one hell of a tough life lesson to live through, but I did. Believe me, it will take courage to tell that story. Courage is a muscle I need to build.

Without digressing too deep down the path of the above paragraph, let me share that one of the places I looked for inspiration was this uncharted territory for me: podcasts, an app on my iPhone I never bothered to use. This is pretty odd for me because I have always been one to gravitate toward and early-adopt technology.

I asked friends for some ideas on how to get started, and recommendations on any podcasts they listen to. Some early shows I listened to were The Ziglar Show, where I heard Mark Timm speak and got the idea for our own family’s Louie Scoop meetings, and Joel Osteen, because I figured if I’m gonna listen to inspirational speakers, why not have a Biblical basis for it?

I don’t listen to either of those shows anymore.

Don’t get me wrong: Ziglar is a very good show but the format started to wear on me. Now, you don’t have to be a salesperson to appreciate Ziglar. It really is great to hear these inspirational snippets from Zig’s talks but after two years of solid listening, I think my bucket is full on that one. It also seems the talks are frequently geared toward people creating a side hustle or being entrepreneurs so it doesn’t always hit the mark for me. That’s not the best characterization of the show as I definitely think it has merit, and it’s highly rated, to boot; it’s just not best fit for me going forward. However, I can imagine picking it back up again one day.

Osteen on the other hand? I had to stop listening to him after the Houston hurricane debacle when he wouldn’t open his facility to people in need. That just seemed so selfish of him, especially after you hear a pitch for buying his latest book or whatever at the end of each episode. Honestly I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. He just comes across as inauthentic, and at this point I’ve bucketed him with many of the other crazy, rich Christian evangelicals. If you’re gonna talk the talk, you better walk that walk as well. You know what I mean?


But that’s not my focus today. Let me tell you about the podcasts I love and why! Some of these shows are 20-30 minutes in length, while some are one hour long or sometimes even 90 minutes. Occasionally a show will feature a short, 2-5 minutes in length, to convey a singular, inspirational idea. I favor the 30 minute shows because I can listen to an entire episode during one trip in the car, but the longer ones aren’t all that bad. I just end up dedicating my outbound and return commute to listening to the whole thing.

IMG_6870I will highlight two podcasts that have held my attention ever since I started listening, plus three more I have adopted in the last six months or so.

  1. Happier by Gretchen Rubin (Gretchen Rubin)
  2. The Good Life Project (Jonathan Fields)
  3. Stay Tuned with Preet (Preet Bharara)
  4. The Keto for Women Show (Shawn Mynar)
  5. Oprah’s Super Soul (Oprah Winfrey)

Happier

Host Gretchen Rubin and her co-host sister Elizabeth Craft share tips and tricks to make life happier. They often feature ideas captured in author Gretchen’s books. I am intrigued by her concept of the Four Tendencies, and I love the Try This At Home ideas they suggest. Overall this is a light-hearted podcast, and it’s fun to listen to the two sisters banter back and forth. I feel like I’ve gotten to know their personalities and idiosyncrasies, and I laugh at their stories. Gretchen is a true literary fan so she’s always offering quotes from classic stories I haven’t actually taken the time to read. Overall I find their advice to be practical and immediately applicable.

The Good Life Project

Jonathan Fields holds hour-long, deep conversations with a wide variety of fascinating people who you may not be familiar with, people who are champions of the human spirit. I love deep, philosophical, thought-provoking conversations yet I hardly ever get to have them so this podcast is the next best thing.

Jonathan has mastered the art of conversation. It isn’t so much an interview as it is a really intimate talk between two people. His voice is so soothing, too. It’s like listening to a friend. He talks like I do in real life.

Jonathan released a book this past year called How to Live a Good Life, which is the question he asks of his guests at the end of each episode. In the book, he champions the idea that we have three buckets that we should continuously replenish: the vitality, connection, and contribution buckets. I could read this book again and again as it is loaded with powerful ideas to fuel your body, mind, and spirit. Given that I wanted and needed a boost in all three, this book resonated strongly with me.

Occasionally you hear side stories about how Jonathan was a gymnast once upon a time, but started his professional career as a hard-charging attorney for a law firm, working for a few years until he opened a yoga studio. Now he channels his energy into studying how to live a good life, runs a summer camp for adults who want to explore this topic, and hosts this podcast. I view him as a really hip, cool contemporary. This is a dude I will follow for years to come.

Stay Tuned with Preet

I suppose if the esteemed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York had to be unceremoniously fired by Trump, then I’m glad it happened because now we get to hear Preet Bharara deliver a weekly podcast that demystifies our justice system and all the chaos in Washington this administration.

Maybe Preet just physically reminds me of my dad when I was a kid, which is weird, but I really like the guy. He speaks in this calm, even-toned, moderately-paced voice that makes it incredibly easy to digest the gravity and complexity of the topics he discusses. I just find it so hard to comprehend stuff thrown at me rapid-fire by some of those news fanatics, like I’m wolfing down crappy fast food that leaves you with indigestion. Preet delivers his message in a nevertheless riveting way where you have time to absorb and think about what he’s saying. His delivery sounds unlike anyone else and I’m learning more about how our government works (or doesn’t) than I have since I studied civics in 8th grade.

The Keto for Women Show

Nutritionist Shawn Mynar hosts this weekly podcast covering the topic of a ketogenic diet for women, one that is high-fat and low-carb and promotes brain health as well as hormonal and digestive healing for the body, primarily for women.

I am not too bright when it comes to nutrition. I probably know the basics like everyone else, but it seems like the last 30 years have been filled with gobs of misinformation leading to today’s American obesity epidemic. It feels like we could use all the help we can get when it comes to nutrition, so I find so this podcast to be hugely educational about a way of eating that mirrors what I likely ought to adopt for my own health. Shawn is a nutritionist who is upbeat, informative, and focused like a laser-beam on women’s health not necessarily weight loss. Eating for health will lead in that direction, but she’s not about dropping pounds rapidly at any cost, when so many other fitness pundits are.

Shawn is just consistently upbeat in her delivery and I have learned so much from her. Love the guests she has had on her show as well.


I’m sure I’ve forgotten a couple of good podcasts that have come and gone over the last few months. Maybe I’ll update this post with additions should I think of any.


And now a word about podcast apps themselves. I’ve been listening by using the Apple podcast app all this time. It is the purple app in third row down on the far right in the image above.

I’m not a fan. It seems like just when I get used to the layout of the app and how it works, they change it on me, like they seem to do with iTunes which used to be intuitive once upon a long time ago. This app is not intuitive. I’m not a technology ding-a-ling but it is not easy to skip over or delete episodes I don’t want to hear without accidentally unsubscribing to the show altogether. I just don’t understand why they have to mess around with the layout.

Little did I realize there are other apps out there you can use to listen to podcasts: Overcast, Downcast, and Stitcher to name a few. Apparently even Spotify will work but not for all shows. I haven’t had a chance to check any of these out just yet so “stay tuned with Silonda” (Get it? I took a page from Preet’s playbook) to see what I think of these tools. It may take me a while to try them out and pick one I like. I just thought it was intriguing to hear there were other, quite possibly better, apps out there for our listening enjoyment.

I’d love to hear from you regarding which Apple podcast apps are your favorite (my platform of choice) but I’m eager to hear from Android fans as well. Looks like I have a global readership going on so let’s hear from you guys and thanks in advance!

Log Cabin Livin’

We’re back after a couple of spring break days away in heavenly Hocking Hills. Oh man, what a perfect getaway! Not enough time….just not enough time to enjoy it all!

We took the scenic route – three hours – from northeast Ohio to southeast Ohio, which I don’t recommend if you have kids in the backseat prone to car-sickness. Too many rolling hills and turns for that sort of thing! Our navigation roulette took us through the towns of Granville and Lancaster, Ohio, both of which looked charming enough to deserve more than a drive through.

Our little family rented a cabin for our stay. It was tucked away on a gravel road, up on a hillside, completely nestled among the trees. From the outside it didn’t look all that grand, but from the inside it was beautiful. An immediate sense of calm overwhelmed me from the moment we stepped inside.

The kids were blown away by the setting. Three bedrooms, three levels with the upstairs as a skylit loft, 3.5 baths, a nice kitchen, a couple of TVs, indoor and outdoor fireplace, jacuzzi, wrap-around porch, and hammock. Every one had a nook or cranny they could hang out. We used the jacuzzi each night, watching the moon rise and the stars twinkle in the evening sky.

My oldest was struck by the total quiet. I even forget how he put it but it was something like, “Why is it so quiet?” Well, uh….you’re on a hillside surrounded by nothing but trees. There is no street traffic, no neighbors, no TVs blaring, nothing but birds. It’s not like we live in a city, either. We live in a perfectly suburban neighborhood but even our teen realized that we had escaped mainstream living.

The name of the cabin was Gökotta, apparently a relatively untranslatable Swedish word for “arising in the early morning to hear the birds sing.” I loved it. The cabin was punctuated with bird decor, little touches that made you smile instead of feeling overwhelmed.

The cabin was so sun-shiney! And of course, it had this warm glow from the timbers and wood everywhere. The loft was one of my favorite places to chill, bright and cheery from a couple of skylights and altogether inviting with a giant bean bag by a triangle window, perfect for reading and snoozing. At one point, all three kids came to snuggle with me there.

My cabin pictures aren’t the best – I didn’t get an exterior shot – but you get the idea…

 

On our second day, we all donned our boots and drove out to Ash Cave to hike. It’s a very easy walk to the cave from the parking lot. The kids were amazed at the size of the cave itself. We climbed some wooden steps to the upper rim and took pictures which don’t give you a sense of the size at all. Maybe you can see the tiny people in the photo below.

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From the top, the kids announced they were game to hike the 2+ miles to Cedar Falls so off we went. The trail was muddy for most of the trek but we didn’t care since we had our boots on. Frankly, we all had more fun because of it! Every now and then we washed our boots off in the meandering nearby stream and then punched through the mud some more. We never did make it to Cedar Falls but found our way to the 80′ Ash Cave Lookout Tower which the kids climbed for the view.

 

The hike was both exhilarating and a case of family-induced attention deficit disorder. I’m sure other moms can appreciate how every 30 seconds one of the kids was asking me a question about something on the hike or altogether random. They would take turns running off into the distance, holding my hand, falling behind, splashing through the mud puddles, or pairing up with each other.

At some point four of us tried playing Red Rover to see if the fifth could run through our clasped hands.

“Hey, no shoulder butting allowed! Since when is it ok to shoulder butt in Red Rover? Huh? Huh?”

IMG_6973One of the kids found this painted rock, and on the flip side there is a tag that said to post your finding to the Dayton Rocks Facebook page. We took it home with us and promise to release it on our next hike. The kids and I just might paint a few rocks of our own this spring and release them to the wild! Or maybe we’ll try our hand at geocaching.

And oh yes, there will be a next hike. We only attempted Ash Cave on this trip but there are so many others to explore in Hocking Hills. We returned to the car after maybe 2.5 hours of hiking and all of us felt pretty good. I felt completely exhilarated. Maybe it was the fresh, cool, tree-scented air, maybe it was the pure exercise. It felt like every cell in my body had been pumped full of oxygen – I was literally tingling with energy. My muscles felt used, not overworked. I could have kept going for another couple of hours, I suspect. I honestly didn’t want it to end, but the last thing we needed was for anyone to poop out half way through the trek.

All told, we were only in Hocking Hills for 48 hours but I must go back. I mean, I was online the night we returned home, trying to figure out how to finance the building of a log cabin for retirement. Crazy, I know. But it is unmistakable the feeling of peace and calm that washes over me in the woods. This is only my third trip overall and second staying in a log cabin, but this decidedly indoor kind of woman feels quite at home there.

In the meantime, I’m going to make a lot more effort to get the five of us out hiking far more often this year. Besides, taking them to Yosemite one of these days is on my bucket list and I want them to appreciate the beauty of what they will see there.

The thing that gets me the most is how much the kids loved this trip. Maybe it was the cabin. Maybe it was the hiking. I can’t tell. What I do know is how we’ve taken our kids everywhere. By everywhere, I mean our oldest, 14-years-old, has been to 38 states already, and our youngest, almost 8, has been to 22. But all three loved this trip the most. I think we’re onto something here.

Lovin’ that log cabin life….