Shaded Easter Traditions

imageEaster mornings used to include rising early to get Hannah dressed in big poofy dresses, huge hair bows and shiny white patent leather shoes … looking picture-perfect for church services. After Mass, we would head home for an Easter egg hunt in search of the big white Easter basket filled with bunnies, dolls and chocolates.

Today our Easter is a little different. It’s just me & Hannah, now. She is a typical twenty-year old college kid with no need to rise before 11am. Although I pray before falling asleep every night, sadly the closest to church services I came today was brushing past the re-finished church pew that sits in my kitchen. The Easter egg hunt consisted of a few plastic eggs that trailed to the same white Easter basket, now a little tattered & worn, filled with gift cards and clothes for the upcoming travel-abroad trip. Today’s ‘traditional’ Easter dinner was crab cakes, lobster mac & cheese, asparagus and fruit salad … Although very yummy, all compliments of the local grocery’s deli.

But, despite the changes in our circumstances & traditions, this was an absolutely wonderful Easter! I received the blessing of sharing the entire weekend with my daughter – not the little girl in my memories – but the amazing young woman she has become. We caught up on her busy & wonderful college stories, laughed at my ridiculous dating adventures, and emotionally went through our family photo albums – reminiscing through a mixture of smiles, hand-holding and tears.

Easter was everything it is supposed to be … A celebration of unimaginable love & continued hope.

Happy Easter … From Fifty Shades of Cheryl

When he started asking me about spinners and shafts, no way could I keep a straight face …

“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” – R. Collier

I have no doubt this quote was intended to have deep meaning and provide great insight to famous, intelligent or successful people. And I’m sure R. Collier can rest assured that it has done just that … but I’m equally sure Collier would not be overly impressed that this quote made it into the current blogging post of Fifty Shades of Cheryl!

Family & friends who know me well would not describe me as a self-sufficient, independent woman. However, over the last few years, life has challenged my comfort zones and cast me into situations where I had to learn new skills in order to see new successes. Keep in mind, these ‘successes’ did not come with out a few tears, a few curse words and a lot of comedy!

I have learned to changed a furnace filter on my own – after three men actually looked at the furnace and could find no filter! I searched online for the furnace manual, followed the steps to locate the filter, removed the filter and replaced it. Of course, the most memorable part of this experience was asking a crew member in my local Menard’s for a Nut Driver! When he started asking me about spinners and shafts, no way could I keep a straight face … I finally just handed him the manual! I have a feeling he was enjoying my embarrassment way too much.

Then there was the first summer in my condo four years ago when I trimmed shrubs all by myself! Admittedly, it was a six-hour project, a 3 extension cord fatality (cut the dang things right in half – yeah, those power tools can really be exhilarating!), and the shrubs sported fairly bad haircuts that year … but I had taken on another new effort.

I’ve learned to spray weeds, start bonfires in the pit, reset the circuit breakers, kill spiders (yes, I still and always will scream like a girl!), negotiated & purchased cars and today, I changed a license plate for the first time.

As I opened the mail today I saw the envelope from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. I thought is was an awfully large envelope for a little sticker – and then when I opened it I thought, ‘shit, it’s a metal plate with screw holes, now what do I do!’  So like any self-assured, confident woman, I put on my jammies, poured a glass of wine, took my collection of pink-handled screw drivers into the garage with me and put on my first license plate.


To most of you reading this, I’m sure you are thinking, ‘so unimpressive!’ But those of you who have known me for years … you know what true strides these are for me. I mean, the first time I ever pumped gas was probably 15 years ago … and I only did that when the very last full-service gas station in Lafayette (on Teal Road) gave in and stopped offering that beloved service.

So while I realize I may not be a model self-sufficient, independent woman, I will continue to jump into new situations and experiences daily – still shedding a few tears, a few curse words and no doubt a lot of laughter. And I WILL eventually make R. Collier proud that my“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.”

Sounds like Fifty Shades of Cheryl, to me!


Tears, foolishness, laughter & love … it’s what makes my life Fifty Shades of Cheryl

Welcome back to Fifty Shades of Cheryl …

As most of you know, I have been going through a difficult time lately with my daughter. Beginning July 23, while we were vacationing in Gatlinburg, TN, Hannah ended up in the hospital diagnosed with blood clots in her leg and both lungs. Like most other vacations, we were not ready to come home and would have loved to have stayed in our beautiful cabin in the mountains longer than the reserved week, however, five extended days in the local hospital is not recommended. 🙂 After her week-long hospital stay, Hannah was finally stabilized and we made our eight-hour drive home in the doctor recommended time of two days and stops every two hours to walk 15 minutes. Home for just a few days, complications arose and Hannah ended up in our home IU Health Hospital for another seven days. Four specialists, countless CAT scans, hundreds of blood draws and two surgeries later, the blood clots have finally been effectively treated and Hannah is on a closely monitored regimen of blood thinners and follow-up appointments … and thankfully, this strong-willed, beautiful, determined young girl will be just fine.

Without question, these have been four of the hardest weeks of my life. Having lost Hannah’s dad just two years ago to a blood clot, the seriousness of her situation never left my mind … or my heart. My nights in the hospitals were spent praying, bargaining and begging God to let my baby girl be ok … it’s been a long time since I have felt that helpless.

But yet, as weak and vulnerable as I felt inside, I knew I HAD to remain strong. I truly had no other choice. My family helped with that … my friends helped with that … the nurses who became our short-term and long-term friends helped with that … my employer and co-workers helped with that …. the phone calls and gifts and texts helped with that … and yes, laughter helped with that. No matter the day, Hannah and I seemed to find something to laugh at … and not surprisingly, usually ourselves. Even the nurses would come into Hannah’s room just to chat and remarked how fun we were – of course, I loved it when they said I ‘was just adorable!’ (Here is where I need to insert daughter rolling eyes!)

On one of the days Hannah was not feeling well at all, the nurse gave her a shot of morphine to help with the pain. Like her mama, Hannah’s tolerance to any altering substance is pretty low 🙂 so she was feeling nauseous. I gave her one of the green ‘sick’ tube-sacks in case she became sick. She eventually dozed off. Hearing her sleeping peacefully, I mindlessly allowed myself the luxury of relaxing – and then the tears began and would not stop … partly from exhaustion and partly from fear. A little while later, for whatever reason, Hannah stirred and I looked up and burst into immediate laughter! Instantaneously, I had forgotten why I was crying. God love her, but this is the image of my daughter peacefully sleeping, that got me through that particular day …


I have no idea why the child chose to place the sack at that location on her body nor why it stayed inflated … but I do know it gave us both the laugh we needed (well, once she was done being mad that I took her photo like that!)   🙂

I shared once before that I believe all of us get through life changes and events in our own way … and that I get through mine with a few tears, a  little foolishness and a lot of laughter. Well especially now, after these past few weeks of hell, I am sticking with that message … tears, foolishness, laughter & love … it’s what makes my life Fifty Shades of Cheryl.

“Can I bother you for a quick sex? YES, the x and c are right next to each other … meant to say sec (second)!”

So I’m sitting in the NeoVision reception area this morning, waiting for my daughter to complete her eye exam. Long gone are the days of thumbing through the tattered coffee table magazines … of course I’m posting on Facebook, instead!

For no real purpose other than the song makes me smile, I decided to share with my FB friends my newest favorite tune: Sorority Girl by Luke Bryan. Following is what I posted: “Can’t help but share my new fave song … Sorority Girl by Luke Bryan! It is totally my daughter and her friends – I can’t help but smile the whole time I’m car singing & dancing along!”

Now, I have to admit I am not always good about proofing what I type … but with each day that my eyes become older and my fingers become fluffier (nicer word than fat!) … I very much grasp the importance of proofing.

You see, my original post that I posted – and faster than I thought humanly possible, I went in and corrected and republished before anyone had the chance to read – contained a slight typo that for sure would have caused much embarrassment to me … and way more to my daughter! 🙂  Really funny how one letter can change a whole sentence, too!  My original post read: “Can’t help but share my new fave dong…… I can’t help but smile the whole time I’m car singing & dancing along!” Seriously? My new favorite dong!?!  What more embarrassment could a mom cause her kid … well, besides posting the story on a blog. 🙂

Of course, mis-typings must be a common thing as it has happened to me a few times before. Recently I was wanting to ask a friend if he could spare me a few minutes for a quick question. Instead, what he received from me read: “Rob: Do you have a minute? Can I bother you for a quick sex?”  YES, the x and c are right next to each other … meant to say sec (second)!  Thankfully he has a wonderful sense of humor … although, he was very accommodating and willing to give me either one, hmm?

But my very favorite mis-typing happened a couple of years ago. I had been up all night with the old-fashioned flu. Morning came and I felt like death warmed over. I sent a text into my supervisor to let him know I had been up all night sick and was not going to make in that day. Here is what my supervisor read from me that morning: “Tom: I will not be in the office today. I am home still in bed. Been up all night getting dick.” What?!? It was spelled right! Of course I had no idea what I had sent until I was back in the office two days later after recovering from the flu. And … he just couldn’t wait to share my text with me. Said that if I was lucky enough to have that kind of night, he was more than happy for me!

So … always remember to proof when texting … and if you don’t, well, be sure to share your oopsies in my blog comments and I’ll publicize them for you!

Welcome back … to Fifty Shades of Cheryl!

“… maybe instead of her dream of working at Hooters, she could own a Hooters!”

So I knew this man would be an amazing dad from the beginning … it started when he was so excited we drove to the wrong hospital to pick up our newly born adopted daughter! I remember pulling into the hospital drive and saying, I think we are at the wrong place … his response all while laughing was, “I know … I’m so excited … where do we go!”

From there our daughter had a childhood of Kodak moments. Fishing in our pond with her dad, proudly holding her first dirty, stinky, slimey fish while she happily wore a frilly dress, pure white tennis shoes and a matching hair bow; sharing a day of dress-up with her dad … her the beautiful princess in the long flowing gown, him the wicked witch, wearing a pointed witch hat, his entire face covered in green, black & purple make-up and a child-size witch dress pinned to his clothes! And Daddy’s bedtime stories always ended with him telling her she could be anything she wanted to be: doctor, baseball player, even president … but just maybe instead of her dream of working at Hooters, she could own a Hooters! There were countless tea parties between the two of them – both sporting big floppy hats was a must, and one of her favorite activities was playing school (hmmm, we are majoring in Elementary Education, now!) – of course, she was the teacher and she had a full-size bed lined with students of bears, dolls and one overgrown student right in the center of them all … her dad.

As with most dads, she had him wrapped around her little finger before she ever knew of her magical power over him … but he was also that little girl’s hero. Because of him, she has learned she is a Survivor, not a victim. Because of him, she has grown Strong & Confident. Because of him, she knows she has the Courage to face the future and do anything she wants to do. Because of him, she will always know she is Loved.

He has been gone from us just under two years now, so the tears and heartache of missing him is still very fresh, however, it only takes of few stories to trigger those Kodak moment memories to help us both find a smile again … and know that together, we will be ok.

Happy Father’s Day … welcome to the softer side of Fifty Shades of Cheryl.

Welcome to Fifty Shades of Cheryl …

With full disclosure, I must admit I have no idea how a blog operates … but, I’m going to give this my best shot, have a little fun with this creative outlet and hopefully make at least one person smile.

In an effort to prepare, I Googled ‘Blog Writing.’ The best advise I came upon was “A little personality goes a long way when blogging. So don’t be afraid to let loose now and again. When done tastefully, it’s bound to make people take notice.”

I think that advice applies to my ever-evolving life as a middle-aged woman, too! (Ugh, really dislike that description – middle aged woman!) Entering the ‘Empty Nest’ world, trying to figure out if there are hobbies or interests that I have, turning 50 and finally, learning to date again are all life events that have actually forced me to ‘let loose now and again.’ I’m doing my best to keep my shenanigans tasteful … but no matter what, there seems to always be something ridiculous happening, but I love that about my life … keeps me smiling and laughing!

So … for a quick teaser of what’s to follow on my future blogging tales, this was how my morning began yesterday:  I am always, but always running late – and that includes for work every day. So I’m standing in the middle of my OCD’d organized walk-in closet, and as I’m putting on my bra, I suffer a heart-skipping moment of panic, ‘Oh God, they can’t be growing again!’ After a few minutes of forcing ‘the girls’ to find room in spaces that are terrifyingly too small, I happily realize that my daughter’s lingerie undergarment got into my closet by mistake!

Yep … even my mornings getting ready of work can create ridiculous stories! Welcome to Fifty Shades of Cheryl!   🙂