Tomorrow may rain with sorrow
Here’s a little time we can borrow
Forget all our troubles in these moments so few ~Heavenly Day/Patti Griffin

It’s back to school time again.  The past two weeks have been calm, healthy, getting organized, gems of normalness.


And when I say normal, it means something different to everyone, agreed?


For sure.


So in this moment of peace, I’m watching and waiting to see what the universe comes up with next.  Back to school has started this way the past couple of years and then taken a nasty turn in September.

Sep 18, 2013 doctors said our mom had a few days/weeks to live.   That whole school year was spent in the mode of when…if…how…why…what?  And included 86,732 miles between St. Louis and Kansas City, a few new wrinkles and pounds and a lot of love and gratefulness.

Back to school 2014 started out in a new normal, aka completely unsettled and thrashing about.  Sep 18, 2014, our dad died.   I’m not making it up that the dates were the same.  That whole school year was spent in the mode of moving mom and Amy to St. Louis, taking them back and forth to the cancer center, social service agencies, trying to make the most out of borrowed time and when…if…how…why…what?  and more wrinkles, more pounds, more love and gratefulness and heartbreak.  Our mom died on May 4th, right before school ended.

What is it with my parents’ and the school year?

So here we are, school is on again and we’re yet again in a new normal.

I dreamt last night that my mom was dying.  In my dream, my heart was shattering and I was telling Dan that I couldn’t live without her; he was saying something about me being dramatic.  Of course I also couldn’t find her to sit and hold her hand as she passed, my dad was there, my siblings were going every which way.

I woke up and it took a while to breathe in reality.  They are gone.  They aren’t dying any more.  The when…if…how…why…what has slipped back into the recesses as it is when life and death aren’t staring you down and ripping you up daily.  Hours later still, I don’t know if that was a nightmare or a beautiful dream.

Those in my dream may have been my first actual feelings in a long time.  Life is settling down and the feelings are loosening up.

I’m going to sleep until 1 Oct.  When I wake up I will accept whatever surrounds me.

I hope it is something like what Dan and I saw when we finished our evening walk the other night.  That’s a rainbow.  But more to the point, our house seems to be sitting on what should be a GIANT POT OF GOLD.

Thank goodness.


You can dance in a hurricane, only if you’re standing in the eye. ~Brandi Carlile

I’m grateful for moments of dancing in this hurricane that our life has become.   

I’m grateful for a second time in one month for that hot, sticky, run down six flags and its ability to make us smile.

  I’m grateful that the hurricane includes life evoling into MIDDLE SCHOOL as it should. Ack. 

And that there are always milkshakes.
And the fact that even in a hurricane and a lot of change, beautiful friendships are still part of the swirl. And many times those friendships step in right exactly when we need them to hold our hands when we step out of the eye and into the chaos of the hurricane. 

 And officially take their position as one of the family.


I am happier when I love than when I am loved. I adore my husband, my son, my grandchildren, my mother, my dog, and frankly, I don’t know if they even like me. But who cares? Loving them is my joy. ~Isabel Allende

I need to take a moment and express gratitude for my husband.

He finds the good in almost every moment.  Especially the half good, kind of rotten, a little bit frustrating, ones.


He is wise and patient and smart as-a-dickens.


He jumps in and has fun easily in unending scenarios.


He’s willing to do almost anything especially if it is slightly risky and involves being outside.


Like sailing with no expertise…


He’s confident, no matter what.


And to him, it all goes well.


And he’s right.


I have learned so much from him.  Like when you need to rest, just do it.


He works really hard and he makes good things happen.


He does a lot to make life fun for us.  Like this drive in movie in our driveway on a 100 degree weeknight.  My idea.  100% Dan’s execution.  150%.

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He loves deeply.

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I don’t have a recent picture of him with Amy, but the way he has embraced her, welcomed her, cared for her and engulfed her with love is simply astounding.

He puts up with a ton of nonsense.

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He has a pretty simple perspective that cuts through many complexities of life with an open mind and comes back to a few basic core principles.  He’s pretty unfaltering and unflappable.

I am so grateful for him.

While grief is fresh every attempt to divert only irritates.  You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it. ~Samuel Johnson

Day 4 started with a trip to get Donuts for the Underwarriors.  Underwearers?  Undie brigade?  I forget what they called themselves.  Half nakeds?


Luckily I did manage to get them in clothes by the time we left for SIX FLAGS!


Grace accomplished one of her summer “goals” and rode Mr Freeze.


I reveled in having a 5 year old along.


The kids were very adventurous. Addie wasn’t posing, she was excited/terrified.


The boys were equally terrif—happy to be going along too.


I’m not sure I’ve mentioned to anyone how often, recently, I find myself thinking “what could go wrong?”


Yep.  Two wheelchairs, ONE mom, five kids.  Nolan got quite queasy after that loop-de-loop ride.  We tried an ice cream stop to get something cold and rest sitting down for a bit but he felt too yucky for ice cream, so we called in first aid.


Please note that I did NOT get to finish that whole entire ten scoop, fresh made waffle, ice cream cone before we got to the first aid house.  I sure tried but it would not have been appropriate to keep slurping up that ice cream in the nurses station.  Would it have?  I debated the whole walk there.  I looked like one of the kids when we got there – ice cream all over my face and hands.  It is SO HARD to push a wheelchair and eat a giant waffle cone in 108 degree heat.   I sure did give a point back to the universe for this one.

Nolan was feeling pretty pitiful for a few minutes but rebounded very quickly.  Don’t let that face fool you – he and Max were super mad there because their side of the boat didn’t get soaked.


Overall, it was a great day.


We bonded like only an amusement park can help you do- being filthy and sweaty and pretty sick to your stomach and going back for more together.


The best part of the whole day, for me, was riding the taxi ride with Walker.  I kept telling him to drive straight, which he couldn’t do as those cars are on that little track.  It cracked him up over and over and over and over.  We rode it 5 times.


This day may have been the best day of this whole year.   It was a purely good day.  I felt my love for my kids and their cousins so deeply and with attention that has been hard to give over the last year.  I was in heaven spending so much time in one big chunk with all of them.

We stayed until they closed down the park.  In memory of my mother.


I find standing and posing for photos very awkward.  ~Nicole Kidman

Day 3 of Cousin Camp was a bit of a lazy, recovery day.  Everybody lazed around in the morning and then we headed out to the movies.  We saw Jurassic World.  The crew mostly gave it thumbs downs.


There wasn’t much noteworthy about the day besides the normal chaos.  Trying to get this picture at the theater at least provides for one thing.


It shows how Walker is in some sort of phase with photos.  He either opens his mouth really wide and acts incredulous or throws a few gang-ish signs.  I didn’t catch him off guard here; he’s posing.


Just in case anyone started to get jealous of me and think I only show the good parts of life (I know, you’re so jealous!) … I think that fake chair broke during this.  I think everyone blends right in with the backdrop.  Yes?


Obviously I quit before we got a good pic, otherwise you would see Walker looking much more thuggish.  And you’d probably see Max’s face.

After the movie, the girls went for a sleepover at Missy’s house and the boys played the night away.  This is the real stuff.

The cave you fear to enter hold the treasure you seek.  ~Joseph Campbell

Day 2 of Cousin Camp was another good day.


We took the advice of my dear friend and MO family friendly outdoor adventure expert, Jodie Allen, and drove down to Onondaga Cave State Park.


We hiked the mile or so into the forest to take the lantern tour of Cathedral Cave.  Half of us were scared out of our wits to go in, especially me.


But the cool temps and wondrous geology distracted us.


The tour was two hours long.


The kids were enthralled.


They imagined super heros building their command centers deep down in this cave.


The best part was when everyone in the tour group turned their lights off and we were all silent.   Lights *accidentally* came on only four times during the two minutes of dark silence.  I’ll let you guess if all four times were caused by our little group or not.


This group gives two big thumbs up to the cave exploration.


We then had lunch by the river and played a little bit.  Max broke down for the first time since he broke his ankle.  His frustration at being held back by the boot was intense.  We decided to make him king-of-the-moment and all 6 of the rest of us carried him down to the water on our shoulders.  It did the trick.


It was such a great getaway.  Revision to original post:  We went home and the BOYS spent the night with Aunt Missy and the GIRLS did some art and had Strange Donuts to refuel and prepare for Day 3.3.


I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest.  I do not judge the universe.  ~Dalai Lama

The first full day of cousin camp was a success!

Highlights included a morning movie.  Was there a lone gunman keeping these kids hostage?  IMG_0040

We celebrated Walker-man turning 5.



We served lunch on the breezeway.


And then went to the zoo, Barmann style.


I laughed to myself and even half-insanely out loud for the better part of a half an hour at the sight of this motley crew at the zoo.


Missy and Elise had to leave because of the heat, so I was there with 5 kids, one in a wheel chair, mind you, and Amy.  Why does someone always have to be in a wheelchair in a Barmann outing?

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No one pooped their pants, which was actually quite a disappointment.  I throw my arms in the air to you, universe; you always keep me guessing.



I loved every minute at that zoo with that crazy crew.

Day 1 Cousin Camp 3.0, thank you!





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