Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Miss My Girls

Amy and the kids were at our house today. It is always so fun to see them and spend time with them all. But I MISS MY OTHER DAUGHTERS!! Sometimes I get so lonesome for them. I wish I could take them out for tea or a Starbucks latte. I wish I could bring them shopping to help me pick out clothes that make me look good (they are both so much better than I am with colors, styles, etc.). I wish they could pop in once in awhile. I wish I could see their kids much more often. I wish I could share some holidays with them. And I really miss hugging them.

I love you, Rana and Sonia! Won't you p.l.e.a.s.e. move to Colorado???

Saturday, August 29, 2009

All In One Day

New eyeglasses and new car - all on the same day. I think I'm going to like my new glasses. They fit well and are a little more stylish than what I've had. And I think I'm going to like my new 2010 Prius V a lot. It will take awhile to get comfortable with all the bells and whistles, but meanwhile, it drives really great. Hey, if you live near me, come on over and see it! I plan to test it on a long road trip when I take it to ND in October. I'll see if it really does get 48-51 mpg like they say it does. One of the things I like best - I never have to dig out my keys. So long as the key is on me or in my bag, I can lock and unlock the doors, and even start and stop the car. Now is that convenient, or what! I even like the color; it's called Blizzard Pearl and has the metallic flecks in it. Roomy and comfortable. Navigation. Satellite radio. All around good car. And it better be. This is my second to last car. It has to get me into retirement, when I will then buy my final car for this life. And the Avalon? Well, I can take only so much grief in a week's time - I decided to hold onto it for awhile. Gosh, it's been with me for over 10 years. I can't just walk away, as if we never had a relationship....

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Last night I walked across the street from my hotel and had dinner at "Salsa's", an authentic locally-owned Mexican restaurant. New building, nice interior, great service. I had two chicken tacos, one soft shell and one hard shell (both very, very good), a basket of chips and salsa, (of which I could only eat a few), and a dessert (which was huge, and I could only eat about half). I was stuffed with yummy, tasteful food. Then I got the check - $5.73. I'd say that's quite a bargain! Next time I go to Mountain Home, I'm giving them my business again - with another good tip.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


They are going to be sharing memories tomorrow morning at the funeral home and the lunch afterwards. How I wish I was there to hear them! My older siblings have childhood memories of him; memories from the time he was born, memories of his early years. I have no idea what he was like as a child or as a young teen. I'm not even sure what he was like as a young adult. I really only knew LeRoy from around age 50 or so. How sad is that! How much I missed! If I could go back and do it over again, I would have reached out to him very early on; I would have made an effort to know him sooner and better. I know my life would be much richer if I had done that.

As I make my three-hour drive to the airport tomorrow morning, my heart and mind will be in Wisconsin. And I know many others will be feeling the same way. I hope he knows -- and understands.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mountain Home

Mountain Home, Arkansas. What a beautiful place - right in the Ozarks. A local drove me around tonight and I discovered lots of lovely places. There are four or five rivers and a lake right within Mountain Home. Anyone who loves to hunt or fish would love this area. It is surrounded by towns with some unusual names, though. Names like Yellville, Gassville, Salesville, Pyatt, Snow, and...and Flippin. You drive by the Flippin gas station and the Flippin library. Kinda reminds me of a town next to one we used to live in. It was called Grudgeville. It was called Grudgeville because there were two prominent families who held onto their grudges against each other for decades, even while they were intermarrying. What fun it is to see such unique parts of this great country we live in!

Monday, August 24, 2009


LeRoy Oscar Sinness – firstborn son, carrier of his father’s name, oldest brother. Today he left us. As I sit in seat 10B, flying over the prairies, I hurt. Another brother is gone – prematurely, it seems to me. He would have been 68 next month.

LeRoy was 10 years old when I was born. For the first half of my life I didn’t know him very well. Then we moved to the same state in which he lived and we started to connect in a new way. I’m so thankful we did! I discovered what a wonderful man he was. I found out that he was thoughtful and kind. He was always so supportive of me and believed in me. And he seemed to have such common sense about everything!

On his birthday, September 27, I will share memories. But for now, I need to say that all of us who knew him experienced a big loss today. And it’s hard.

This picture was taken this past spring.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lovely Day in Estes Park

We went to Estes Park today. Beautiful community and much cooler than here on the plains. They had a "Heritage Festival", with lots of displays of the very early settlement days. The drive there and back is breathtakingly beautiful. May I never take for granted the beauty that surrounds me! 97 degrees in Thornton. Thank God for central air conditioning!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mom - I Wish I Knew You Better

I've been thinking about my mom a lot. Mom has always been a fighter with strong opinions and, often, an untamed tongue. Up until a few months ago she took care of her own checkbook and managed her own investments. She will be 93 next month. She fought to keep her independence and always made her own decisions about her life - when to sell the farm, when to give up her driver's license and sell her car, when to move into assisted living, and yes, when to move into the nursing home. She always said she would never move to a nursing home, but when the time came, she made the decision - on her timetable and in her own way. She moved in six months ago today. And she is failing. In those six months she went from taking care of herself within her own room to needing assistance even with using the bathroom. Her walking during physical therapy is half what it was. Her hearing is getting even worse. It is getting harder for her to stay focused on a train of thought during a conversation. Worse of all, it seems like she has quit fighting, quit caring, and has lost interest in nearly everything. Is it because she has lost what little control she wanted? Is there nothing more for her to live for? Not long ago she was buying blouses, buying dolls, eating with friends, going shopping at the grocery store and at Walmart. Now she eats a little, sleeps a little, watches TV a little, sleeps a little, reads a little, sleeps a little...and waits for the next visitor or the next phone call. I wonder what she thinks about. Is she revisiting happier and healthier times in her mind? Or is she longing to be released from this life and join Oscar on the other side? Is she dreaming anything during her many segments of sleep? I wish I knew. I wish I could be there with her - even if only to sit quietly in her room so she wouldn't spend so much time alone. I wish she wasn't so old. And, sometimes, I wish she would just quietly and painlessly cross over.....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Remember my post on August 5 about Amy's birthday? I told you about her "sweet tooth". Last weekend we had Amy's kids with us. Julia, who is 7, asked for hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows. I thought, "this is a good time to share a memory about her mother". So I told her about her mom's "Sweet tooth". I then went about my business feeding the children. Suddenly, Julia says, "I think I know which one is my sweet tooth. It's right here (pointing to a tooth in the lower left of her mouth). Every time I have sweets, it tastes really good by this tooth." Almost the exact scenario as over 25 years earlier! And she was just as serious about it as Amy was. I almost cried; and I almost laughed. But instead I told her, "you are probably right - that must be your sweet tooth". Later, alone, I cried and laughed.

Vivian - #1 out of 10

August 20 is my oldest sister's birthday. I often wonder how it must have been for her being not only the oldest of ten children, but also being born to a mother who was only 18 years old. Not only that, but times were really tough - it was the "great depression", after all. I have no memory of Vivian living in our house at the same time I did. She was 17 when I was born, so was off to college, then marriage by the time I was three. One of my lingering favorite memories of Vivian as a sister was when I stayed at her house for a few days over the summer. I must have been around ten years old. She had a bunch of kids by then, and she was very, very busy with kids, gardening, chickens, cleaning, cooking, and helping out with other farm work. Winding down from the day was the very best. I watched her put the kids, one at a time, up on the counter and wash them up before bed. No running water at that time, so even that was not an easy job. After all the kids said their prayers and were tucked into bed, Vivian brought out a couple dishes and she and I had watermelon. I remember that I, who was still a kid myself, felt so grown up and special because I got to stay up later, having watermelon, and best of all - a real conversation with an adult. She told me not to eat too much, though, because if I had to go to the bathroom, I'd have to go to the outhouse in the middle of the night. Thanks, sis, for that great memory! All my growing up years, I saw Viv with babies, toddlers, more babies (she had 5), and always lots and lots of work. In later years Viv taught me an important lesson I needed to learn. I spent a good share of my life on airplanes and in airports. It got so "old" that I could fly across the country and never say a word to the person sitting next to me. If there was a fussy baby, I'd turn my head and try to sleep. After spending a weekend with Viv a few years ago, I saw how she struck up a conversation with whoever was around. She would come out of a public restroom and tell us all about the other lady in there and what was going on in her life! Well, I will never be THAT social, but it taught me an important lesson - the people around me are valuable human beings and I need to make a connection much more often. I've done that, and I have been blessed many times over by the people around me that before I would never have noticed.

I don't remember the picture above. It was taken in 1953. But it is my favorite picture of us "sisters". Happy Birthday, Vivian! Thanks for all the good things you've brought into my life. May you have many more healthy years!

Monday, August 17, 2009

So Sad

Yesterday I was at the local skateboard park watching Cade try dare-devil things on his scooter. I noticed another boy, aged 7 or 8, hanging around watching everyone. He came up to Cade and asked if he could use his scooter for awhile. Cade, nice guy that he is, said, "yes". This kid took off on the scooter and did amazing things; a very talented child, when it comes to scootering in a skateboard park. I finally had to wave him in so Cade could play some more. He immediately brought the scooter back to Cade. Then he sat down and watched everyone again. It finally dawned on me that this little guy, who did so well, has no scooter or skateboard of his own. He has obviously practiced a lot; but now, for whatever reason, has no way of continuing. It almost made me cry....

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Julia - I really like waffles. I really like waffles shaped like hearts (I think she's seen my Norwegian waffle maker)
Me - Are you saying you want waffles while you are here?
Julia/Cade/Amber - Yes! We had waffles at Sylvia's (my sister) house. She makes the very, very best waffles. They were so good. We ate and ate and ate them and then we had them again. Sylvia makes the best waffles I've ever tasted!
Me - What did you put on them? Syrup?
Julia/Amber - whipped cream and strawberries / strawberry juice
Cade - mine had syrup
Me - well, we can have syrup. I don't have any whipped cream.
Julia - Can't you go to the store and get whipped cream?
Rod - Sure we can

Today I fed them heart-shaped waffles with whipped cream, strawberries, strawberry juice and syrup - just like Sylvia did. If anyone hears them talking about how good they were, let me know, okay?

How Do They Do It?

You've probably heard about how so many grandparents are raising their grandchildren. I really, really admire them! We had three grandkids here for two days and one night, ages 5-10. These are very good kids; obedient, fun, polite. But I was e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d when they left. How do grandparents do it when the kids are tough to handle and unruly?? Have I gotten soft and lazy? Maybe if I had them all the time I would eventually get in the groove and not be so tired out. One at a time is a piece of cake .... but three at once is like running a marathon. I think I'll sleep good tonight.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

May 6 - no vision insurance. Cost of an eye exam, frames and lenses = Out of Pocket $289.25
August 15 - insurance. Cost of frames and lenses = $750.00 / Out of Pocket $376.00.
I'm thinking I might be better off not having insurance!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Can't Believe This Happened

Many, many years ago I made a commitment to be with my mother for her birthday for the rest of her life. Although I wasn't really expecting her to live this long, I have been able to adjust my schedule and be there on September 13. And because my sister from Omaha agreed to be there at the same time, we have been having a special sister's outing at the same time. My boss in my old job knew it was not negotiable - I had to be in ND on 9/13. Then I started a new job. I told my boss right up front that I needed to be with my mom for her birthday. No problem, she says. Even though the Medical Director's meeting is scheduled for that weekend, I could leave Friday night or early Saturday. So we're cool. Then I get the agenda for the medical director's meeting from our CMO (Chief Medical Officer). And guess what - I am on the agenda for a presentation to all the docs - on September 13. I never expected this and it was too late to change. Now, if the meeting was at headquarters (in Denver), I could still hop on a flight and get to Devils Lake late on 9/13. But the meeting happens to be in Virginia - an hours drive from Richmond, the nearest airport. Connecting flight. Can't leave until noon. Can't make it. Okay - Plan B - I'll fly out Monday and be with Mom all week. I told her, "I'll be there Monday night". But wait, I get a call from my boss a couple days ago and she says she arranged for us to meet with the physician team at Texas Tech University in Midland, TX, on Thursday 9/17 at 3:00. I can come right from ND, she says. Umm, let's see. Spend all day Monday getting to Devils Lake, spend time with Mom on Tuesday and spend all day Wednesday getting from DL to Fargo, to Denver, to Dallas, to Midland. Believe it or not, there are no direct flights from Fargo to Midland. I finally threw up my hands and said, "I just can't do it". I'm sorry, Mom! I'm sorry, sisters! I'll try for October, but it won't be quite the same because Evie won't be there, there will be no birthday party, and September is the very best month to be in ND. Next year I will do my best to get back on schedule. I just hope Mom makes it another year!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I just love Sundays. I used to love Sundays because it was a relaxing day - church, lunch, nap, not much of anything. Since we started going to the Saturday evening service, I love Sundays even more. I claim Sunday as my day - a true day of rest, of catching up with lots of little things that pile up over the week, reading, cooking - or not, sleeping in, tea - at home or at a special shop, a drive in the country. It's a great day to re-balance before hitting the 5-day work week again. BTW, so far I LOVE my job! It's been one month, but feels like I've been with the team for a lot longer than that. AND - I'll blog about my new car after I actually get it. Rod talked about it on his blog, but maybe it will be fresh news in a couple weeks when I bring it home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Child Who Almost Wasn't

33 years ago on August 5 I gave birth to a child who is very blessed to be here. Amy Jo, AKA Amos Josephine, was born because my dad died. We had decided one child was plenty. There are several reasons we planned on having an only child, but that is a story for another time. Our only child turned three one week before my dad unexpectedly passed away. This death was a shock to all his children (10 of them). Through this process I realized how very glad I was that I had several siblings to go through this with. It got us to re-thinking this only child concept. For me, it took me beyond what was convenient for me at the time and into the long term effects for both child and parents. There are several other reasons why we decided to have another child, but that, too, is a story for another time. I got rid of my birth control device and got busy (if that's what you call it). A year later we had our second daughter. Baby #1 was tiny, skinny, sickly, and a difficult baby for new parents to figure out. Baby #2 was larger, rounder, more content and healthier. Much easier to care for! Amy is the child who would not talk at all - until one day she started talking in complete sentences. Amy had a strong affinity for sweets from very early on. I remember the day she very seriously pointed to one of her teeth and said, "this one is my sweet tooth". Although Amy was usually very obedient and respectful, she also was the one who was least likely to cuddle and show affection. Today Amos is one of my best friends. She is the only one of my kids who lives near me so I see her more than the others. This has enabled us to have more experiences together that have enabled me to get to know her on another level. I am so thankful that God put in our hearts to add to our family. Happy Birthday, Amy! I love you lots and lots!

Monday, August 3, 2009


Tonight I am sitting in a hotel room in Storm Lake, Iowa. Well, it's not really a typical hotel room. I am staying in a waterpark resort. Who would think that in a place so far from anything , they would have this fancy resort with nice rooms, nice soap and shampoo, and sitting right on a huge lake? I flew into Omaha and drove 125 miles to get here. Years ago, we lived in Iowa - we were in Creston for over five years. I had forgotten how beautiful the countryside is. I drove mile after mile through lush green fields. The corn looks fabulous. I'm not sure what the other crops are. And all along the highway are these beautiful farmhouses with mowed, green yards - acres of yards. The buildings are nicely painted and the entire farmstead is well kept. I saw very little shabbiness the entire trip. Tonight, after dinner, I went for a walk around the resort and beyond. This, too, was pleasant. It had cooled off and the humidity was much lower than during the day. And I felt safe! Everyone I met smiled and spoke to me. I saw something I hadn't seen in years - fireflies! Hundreds and thousands of fireflies. It almost seemed like they could light up the night. Yes, this country gal likes getting back to the country from time to time. Just like in ND, here in Iowa, my soul can stretch from horizon to horizon, with nothing to interfere. Aaaaaahhhhhh.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Today is a special day - it is my nephew Chip's 53rd birthday. Now, I know I won't be writing about the birthdays of all my nieces and nephews, but this one cannot go unnoticed. I remember the day, several years ago, when Chip told me his goal was to make it to his 50th birthday. About 10 years ago Chip was diagnosed with CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia). Things were touch and go at times, but Chip went through treatment and had several years of good health. It returned about a year or two ago, but he beat it again! Today, he is looking and feeling great. So you see, turning 53 is a very big celebration! Happy Birthday, Chip! I know you will have many more birthdays in the years to come!
The pictures are from 1957. Chip was born one month after my brother Jim. The top picture is of me holding Chip - he was probably about 9 months old. (Back then we called him "Chipper")The second one is the uncle/nephew duo - Chip in front and Jim in back. Weren't they cute little tykes?