Travel Days are the Worst

Funny, I had to do a search of my site to make sure I hadn’t already posted this blog. Because I think about it EVERY time I go somewhere.

Travel Days are the Worst.

The Rutger’s Conference was by far my favorite to date, but I honestly don’t think I’d return based solely on what a pain it was to get to. And home from.

First of all–and this is no fault of Rutger’s, or Colorado Springs, or Vegas, etc… but I NEVER get TSA pre-approval. (See The Post Card Story) Not only do I not get pre-approved like my travel companions, but I also receive the obligatory pat-down following the full body scan. Trust me, latex-gloved lady, that’s all me.

I have shared with you my ineptitude when it comes to packing. And also, how my luggage ALWAYS gets ‘randomly’ inspected, but I tricked ’em this time–I packed efficiently in carry-on only! Take that, you dirty underwear tossers.

From a previous trip. I have several. Gah.

Seriously, I am so proud of my practical packing I may never check baggage again!




















Traveling to the conference, we all began our day between 5 and 5:30 IN THE MORNING. That’s like basically last night!

We broke the trek into five legs:
1. Get to the meet-up spot.
2. Carpool to the bus station.
3. Take the bus to the airport.
4. Take the plane to Newark.
5. Take the Lyft to our hotel.

Knowing how travel days are, we flew in on Thursday so as not to be too tired for the event beginning on Friday night. They offered a free viewing of Coraline and Stardust on Thursday evening, but after our long day of legs, we took a pass. Thank goodness we came in early, though, since there was NO WAY we would have missed an Evening with Neil Gaiman that kicked off the conference on Friday.

Do you see how close we were? 4th row, baby!
























He was awesome, but that’s a blog for another day.

Driving services are often a required part of our trips. Hotels don’t seem to offer shuttles any more. I guess it’s inconvenient for them when they are 45 minutes from the airport. Hmm, inconvenient, imagine that. Thankfully, my companions both have service aps on their phones.

After miscommunication, confusing location maps, and circling several times to avoid jams and construction, a young woman from Tobago picked us up. She was very forthcoming and chatty and shared much. Most interestingly, I thought, was the fact that she used to work for an insurance company that handled abandoned and foreclosed properties. She may have spawned a new novel series in me based on the adventures she’d had! Also of note, she took us the residential route where we got to see some of the beauty of New Jersey. Yes, beauty, you read that correctly.

We had two different drivers to and from the Gaiman event. On the way there, our driver happily shared information about the areas we were passing through. The return driver was a wonderful story-teller who took an extended detour so he could finish his tale about his early days of immigration thirty years ago.

We experienced a fabulous conference with impressive speakers, terrific workshops and sessions, great food, and awesome authors. But, alas, all good things must come to an end.

Time to tick off the legs in reverse order…sigh.
(travel days suck)

Our final driver from the hotel to the airport spoke very little English and was a challenge to converse with. No matter how hard we tried, lol.

And then we were at the airport…early, because we are efficient, and also because our flight was delayed. Then delayed again. Oh, and at least once more, maybe again, I lost track. It was a nice enough terminal with a restroom close, charging and computer stations nearby, and several dining options. But after a fully loaded and intense conference, we all just wanted to be home.

Finally at O’Hare, we quickly retrieved checked baggage (not me, 🙂 ) and scurried through the airport to the bus stop. We arrived at 7:02. I kid you not, we literally missed the bus by 2 minutes. Luckily, we were 58 minutes early for the next bus.

Please keep in mind, we don’t live at the bus station. We still had to get to the meet-up point, THEN drive to our houses.

We’d left the hotel for the airport at 10:30 am. I pulled into my driveway at 10:30 pm.

TWELVE hours of travel.

Do you remember the Friends episode where Monica bumps Ben’s head while she and Rachel are babysitting so she and Rachel “bang” their heads on the wooden beam and Rachel says, “It’s just not worth it if it’s not a headboard”? Well, that’s how I feel about 12 hours of travel that begin in Newark. That’s New Jersey, people! We could have driven in that amount of time! With 12 hours, I could have been coming home from Europe!

Travel days may be the worst, but it’s always nice to get there. And even better to be home.

More about the actual conference coming soon…




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Our Thing

A couple of years ago, my conference going friends and I decided that we needed a change of pace. We’d been attending the Writer’s Institute in  Madison for several years. The conference had treated us well, but we were feeling restless.

Some in-depth research revealed a conference in Las Vegas that sounded interesting. For the same amount of money as the Institute, we flew to Vegas, stayed in the hotel with the conference, met a variety of writers, experienced new workshops and sessions, and were able to book an afternoon with Donald Maass.

Since that first foray break from our comfort zone, we have ventured to Colorado, Philadelphia, and this year, New Jersey.

It’s kind of our thing now.
And I love it!

I’ll be flying out of Newark today after four days at the Rutger’s 3rd Annual Writer’s Conference. Give me a week to organize my thoughts and I’ll eagerly share our experiences.

Spoiler alert: We had some FANTASTIC experiences.



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In Memoriam

On this Memorial Day, a traditionally picnicky, grill-outing, pool opener kind of day, I thought I’d expand the “memorial” beyond remembering those who died in service of our country.

I don’t mean to take anything away from the military this day is meant to honor, I just thought maybe in addition, we could take a moment and remember something positive about others who have passed. So many have passed.

Share a story, a laugh, a cry.
Remember good things about those you are missing.
Invite their memory to join in the celebration.

Eat corn and burgers and chips.
Lather up with sunscreen and bug spray.
Make new memories to be shared one day.


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Memories made, memories kept.

I came across a bin of old photos. A big bin.

Decades of pictures, some dating back to before I was born up through about five years ago. The variety is impressive. Scalloped edged white framed and dated photographs from my earliest years mixed with school pictures, team pictures, and candid prints from Walgreen’s galore.

You might wonder how such an eclectic collection came to be…I’m pretty sure that as I cleared drawers, folders, and frames, I just tossed found items into the bin. When it got too heavy to easily move, about 2/3 full, I’d start another one. And then another. I came across this one, but I have many.

“Keeper” boxes, as I call them, also contain programs, report cards, TV Guides, letters & cards, newspapers, concert, theater, & sports tickets, etc, that have been saved over many decades.

Yes, these things are important to me. I kept it all.

I’m finding this excavation to be a bigger time suck than Facebook.
And that’s saying A LOT.

I’ve shared pics online and privately through messaging and text. I’ve reconnected with friends and family and reached out to friends of my mother’s. I’ve posted to the DeKalb FB page and the one of the Rockford pages. It’s been fun reading through the comments, seeing how these glimpses of times passed affect others.

Inspiring memories and reminiscing. Blasts from the past.

As I go through the stacks of pictures, I am dividing them into piles.
Nicole, Zach, family, Mary, Pets, Travel/Vacations…
There are a lot of piles and they stack up fast. At first I was putting them in gallon sized Ziploc’s…

but then I bought a bunch of photo boxes from Michael’s. Totally worth the investment.


Don’t tell my kids, but they’ll be getting all their boxes for Christmas. (It’s cool, not like either of them read their mom’s blog, lol.)

Requisite puppy picture.

Past puppies…and present puppies. Taken fresh this morning!

I am grateful for digital files, lol. They are much lighter and take up a lot less room.
BUT there’s nothing like holding a print in your hand.

What do YOU save?

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In honor of Mother’s Day

As a day-lated tribute to Mother’s Day, I wanted to share this poem I wrote two decades ago. I’ve been inspired to update it–Every Grandmother’s Poem–and hope to post the new version soon. I hope you enjoy.

Every Mom’s Poem (Life is Good)

I’m just a “Mom,”
A Homemaker, you see.
But I’m a working Mother!
Yes, I run Domesti-City.

I cook, I clean, I sew, I watch.
I drive, I teach, and then–
I wash, I iron, I feed the pets…
I do as much as I possibly can.

I take out the trash,
And recycle, of course.
For homework assignments,
I’m usually a source.

I don’t get days off,
My “free-time” seems nil,
Whenever a volunteer’s needed
I hear me saying, “I will.”

My hours are long,
The pay far from perfect.
But I wouldn’t trade any of it,
The benefits are worth it!

And all in all, I know it’s true,
As I plan for each day,
If someone should take the time to ask,
“Life is good!” I’d say.

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It’s official, PUPPIES ARE FUN!

The first couple of days were stressful, I was genuinely fearful that Miskey, the momma, wouldn’t make it. When we took the brood in for docking on day 3 and Dr. Dominguez checked her, he said she was looking great. I said “Thank goodness! I was really nervous.” To which he responded, “Me, too.” Seems she was very anemic and took a long time to wake after surgery. I am grateful he didn’t share that information with me at the time.

It’s been ten days and all the pups are doing well–even the scrawny one. She’s still the smallest by far, but she’s strong and feisty and nursing. No eyes are open yet, but soon…

We already have three confirmed to be adopted with several more interested families. It’s happening so fast! I only get eight weeks with these babies, I’m not ready to commit them to others yet, lol.

Trying to get good photos of the individual pups is a tricky thing to do. They sleep in clusters and wiggle when they’re awake! I do have some super cute close-up sleepy puppy shots, though. (And really, that’s the only reason you’re reading this, right? For the photos–)

You know I’ll be posting new pics on a regular basis. They change so much in these first few weeks! And they only get cuter. ❤


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Puppies are fun?

Today marks the 62nd day since we caught our dogs doing it. If that seems oddly specific, it’s because a dog pregnancy takes 63 days and I had marked the calendar based on visual confirmation.

We had purposely brought home a girl corgi, then a year after that, a boy, in hopes of having a litter. Just one litter, then everybody gets fixed because, PUPPIES ARE FUN (but we are responsible pet owners).

A few months ago, I kept hearing Jackson crying–whining like he was hurt. I’d race into the garage or out back, thoughts of cat scratches or toppled chairs or little twisted paws in gopher holes…only to have him greet me with his spastic, happy self.

Then one night when we heard him crying, I looked out the window. Across the yard, in the dark, I could make out the shapes of our two dogs. I clapped to call them in–and Jackson started squealing as Miskey dragged him behind.

Maybe you know, maybe you don’t, maybe you don’t want to know…but oftentimes when dogs mate, they get “tied“.

Here, I thought he was being a big baby, but really, he was a stud. And maybe a bit of a masochist.

So, I marked the calendar from the day we caught them.

We assumed she was pregnant. There’s no stick for a dog to pee on. No real pre-natal care required. Miskey got fatter, which confirmed our assumption. Days passed, the waddle grew, as did her obvious misery.


It was with great trepidation I left my house, and my dog, to get on with life’s obligations. People thought I was silly to make or change plans around my dog’s potential delivery. “In nature…

In nature there are no comfy couches, magically filling water dishes, or chicken jerky. My dogs are pets, not wild beasts struggling in nature, Dave.

This past Friday, she was so uncomfortable; I believed her time was soon. Not wanting to cut my out-of-town plans short if I didn’t have to, I asked my son to stop by and check on her.

She’d delivered one pup. Stillborn. Zach called, I came home.
Hours passed with no sign of further labor.
I called the vet, “Can I bring her in?”
“Of course.”

Thank goodness we did.

We hadn’t had x-rays taken to count babies. We figured maybe 5 or 6 pups.
First thing the vet did was an x-ray. He thought he counted nine.
Next up was listening for heartbeats. He thought he heard a weak ten.

Her breath was shallow, which meant the puppies were not getting enough oxygen. She was frail and tired, but not in labor. Seeing as it was half an hour before the clinic closed, we were offered two options: Emergency C-section here, or drive to the ER Vet in Aurora to try for a natural delivery (but most likely, an emergency C-section forty minutes from home).

This is NOT fun.

The staff at Bethany Animal Hospital rallied around my girl. They called in additional help. The clinic was closed for the evening as Zach and I waited in the Cat Room for updates. They sedated Miskey and proceeded to deliver eleven puppies. Sadly, not all of them made it. Twelve pups in all, but we only brought eight home.


I was so scared, so nervous. Miskey was sluggish, lethargic, and so very skinny.

Her vitality was drained and she was sore.  I was concerned she wouldn’t make it. Petrified.
She’s my puppy!

She wasn’t producing enough milk at first, so we bottle fed every two to three hours for the first two days to supplement.




When she wasn’t with her babies, she was with me. Wherever I was, she was. We gained comfort from each other.


I’m happy (and very relieved) to say we’ve all made it to Day 3 and  things are looking great. All the puppies are eating and wiggling and squeaking. Miskey is recuperating nicely from her physical trauma. She’s feeding on her own and very protective. No cat, no Jackson, no picking up the puppies.

Which is hard for me…
because puppies are fun.

Oh, just wait!






Mom Miskey and Dad Jackson

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