Tag Archives: love my life

Grandma Tour 2012 – Spring Break Edition – pt. 1

note: I started this nearly two months ago. Um, now four months ago. Oops.

I’m currently sitting on a porch swing in Denver, CO, valiantly trying to type this post on an iPad. We’ll see how well I do in the 5-who knows how many minutes until Ike wakes up.

Since my husband and I both teach in the same school district, we are quite fortunate to get coordinating spring breaks. Because his grandmothers are getting on in years, we decided that we would spend spring break taking Ike to meet his great grandmothers and visiting my husband’s parents.

My husband hates to fly. As in, anxiety riddled, permeating every facet of his life in the weeks leading up to take-off. I used to be this way but I’ve gotten better over the years and wrangling a 20 month old doesn’t leave much time to indulge in my panic.

We left super early last Saturday and after a fairly decent flight we arrived to waiting family who were so excited that Ike recognized them and called them by name (G.G. & Pop). We enjoyed spending a glorious 80 degree day with them and headed to bed early enough that we wouldn’t be dying at our 6:30am departure for Gettysburg, South Dakota.

Yes, we are those people. The people who pack up a vehicle with three generations of family intent upon a 10ish hour road trip. Z and I had no idea how Ike would handle being strapped into his car seat for such a long trip. Thankfully, he surpassed our best expectations. Since he is still nursing, I did have to figure out a way to give him his “muck” while he remained strapped in his chair. Thankfully, we managed and did not have to stop more than planned.

My in-laws were so gracious to do all the driving which enabled Z and I to sit in the back and entertain Ike. Before this trip I was one of those people who was certain that  Ike would not rely on electronics other than an mp3 player to get him through the long car trips we would inevitably take in his life. If looking out the window, reading, and >gasp< talking were good enough for me, they are good enough for him! Oh, how I have had to eat my words. You know what? They taste like cake. Gluten-free cake to be exact.

Thankfully, Z and his mom are more sane than I and between the two of them we had train videos, noise-making books and all the toys and “hnacks” (snacks) a little boy could want.

We pulled into S.D. and headed straight to see “Nana,” Z’s maternal grandmother. Ike warmed up very quickly (possibly because of the M&Ms she gave him, or maybe it was the “wawat” (rabbit) that won him over).

Ike pushing Nana in her chair

We took Nana out to dinner in the next town over. Ike’s favorite part was wheeling her to and from the table. When we woke the next morning the beautifully warm weather had turned cold and very windy. As I watched the wind whipping in all directions through the tall grass, I thought how Laura Ingalls would have experienced the same spring weather. I was wistful for a life I have never known (and began to wonder just where I had put my Little House on the Prairie books).

We spent the next day with Nana and enjoyed every minute she and Ike were able to be together. Hilarious stories were retold about how a very young Z. locked her out of the house so he could eat all the M&Ms, or requested steak for dinner. While it was a short visit, many memories were made (and pictures taken). The next morning we said goodbye to Nana, loaded up the car and headed back to Denver. Part 1 of Grandma Tour 2012 was over.


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Guest Post – 7 stories

The following post is a bit of a special treat. It’s Joann’s birthday today, and this is her husband. We have a group of friends over for dinner and they have all been invited to come prepared with a picture, story or anecdote to share about Joann’s creativity – something she made, something she made with her friends, or something she shared. This post is a tribute to Joann Varnell – a friend, a wife, a mother, a singer-songwriter, a seamstress, a naturalist, a gluten-free baker, a rockabilly girl and a model citizen of the east side of Tacoma. These are her stories.

I have a small tattoo of a trifold on my right wrist. I chose this symbol because it means the cycle of life or change. If you are around me long enough and pay attention, it shows up in a lot of my art and design projects. Joann, who is not normally a jewelry designer, created an olive green brooch in a trifold design for my last birthday. When she presented it to me, she said, “Let me know if it falls apart. I didn’t really know what I was doing.” Joann, I’m reporting that I have worn it several times and it has not fallen apart. In addition, it looks fabulous on me!

About seven years ago I created a poster with my friend Tom called Red Brick Town. When Joann saw the poster she was inspired to write music based on the words from our poster. I have always loved her songwriting and she shares honest transparent stories from her heart. I love this girl. That was Lance, this is Dana now 🙂 One of my most memorable moments was the morning of 9/11 and at the time Joann was living next door to us. She showed up at our front door on the morning of the disaster in tears and disbelief of what was going on in our country and the pivotal moment in history unfolding right before our very eyes. We watched the events for hours and I could see Joann’s humanity as we stared speechless with what was happening. Joann has such a heart for people! That was my mom. This is Emily now! I like how nice Joann is and how much fun it is to be around her and Ike and Z. And Indie and Wally.






When I met Joann I knew that I wanted to be her friend. She has such a free spirit that is loving and accepting of all. When Joann was pregnant with Ike we made a trip to Portland for the weekend, that’s where that picture is from. Even with her basketball belly we walked everywhere and explored the city. Joann has a contagious love for life and is constantly making me laugh. She lifts my spirits and is truly a great friend. Happy happy birthday! I like you a lot!





This is Adam… I’m the guy in the picture who is actually bald but is too scared to shave his head. Her name is Penelope. Z is the guy on the right with the shaved head. He’s Joann’s hubby. We’re all friends. This photo was from our hilarious weekend trip to Portland. I’ve known Joann for a few years. We were in a band together and made music but the woes of life have taken over yet the hope that the band reunites still remains. Joann is a truly talented woman who has an incredible voice. Seriously, ask her to sing sometime. She has always been a great friend and I couldn’t be happier that she married Z. I wish the best for their family in the coming year and look forward to continuing on in the journey of life with them. Happy Birthday Joann! Here’s to yet another year of sheer awesomeness for you and the fam!

This lady is such an amazing woman. She will not take anyone’s drama, yet when you really need her she is right there for you. She is the most creative, caring, loving, outstanding woman you could ever meet. I have countless memories of times where she and I laughed so hard we were crying; from CRAZY Scrabble games, to house hunting and claw foot bathtubs. She is such an amazing friend that I cannot believe how lucky I am to say she has been my mentor and #1 role model. The one thing that comes to mind with her is that she has this sense of humor that cannot be compared to anyone else. Honestly, there can not be enough words to describe this amazing lady! Happy Birthday Lady!

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