Life is a highway…

The Sunday after Mr. Smith’s birthday, I left on a solo road trip.  My SUV was filled with boxes to take to store at my sister’s in Michigan and several household items that were going on to Elliot’s house in Indiana. It was so fully packed that my suitcase was strapped into the front passenger seat, keeping my company on my drive. I had a full tank of gas, a bottle of water and a chicken salad croissant for lunch provided by my lovely husband.

I traveled the Southern Tier Expressway across New York.  It winds through green mountains dotted with dairy farms and deep forests and past the exquisite Chautauqua Lake.  I drove across New York and into Pennsylvania where I eventually stopped at a rest area to enjoy a quick lunch before soldiering on through Ohio and up to Michigan.

My sister lives in a charming shall town in southern Michigan. We were delighted to have several days together with few obligations. We drank good wine, ate yummy food and shopped! I went to a movie in the middle of the day in the middle of the week! 

These statues in front of the Art Center always make me smile..
And I love any town that has one of these.

On Friday, my sister and I set off for Indiana to meet up with our brother and his wife and our niece and her family.  We visited, ate pizza and watched the movie, Billy Elliot.  I think I loved it even more than when I saw it originally.  Plus, it segued perfectly into my next day when I headed to Indiana to see my fabulous granddaughters.

The biggest reason for my road trip was getting to attend Olivia and Emily’s dance recital. I didn’t know until I got there that two-year old Elizabeth would be making her stage debut! After a week and a half of lessons, she was ready to go out there and perform to Animal Crackers in My Soup! All three girls did a spectacular job and melted my heart.

The dancers and their grandmas!
Grandpa’s Emily…

On a solo road trip, you have all the freedom and all the responsibility.  You chose when to stop and where.  You chose music or no music.  Traveling alone, I thought about how spoiled I am when I travel with Mr. Smith and never have to think about whether I have enough gas or keep track of the car keys.

Many hours alone in the car also gives you time to think.  I thought about how my road trips are always about the destination and not the journey.  I’m going from point A to point B and while I do admire the scenery, I rarely venture off the route.  I hope that one day soon on this highway of life, I manage to take the road less traveled.

C’est la vie.

A celebration of epic proportion…

This past weekend we celebrated Mr. Smith’s 65thbirthday.  Three generations came together and created some lasting memories. We played in the pool.  We walked part of the Towpath Trail. We played Pin the Hat on Grandpa, Grandpa Nick Bingo, and countless hands of Michigan Rummy. 

Pin the hat on grandpa!
Ring around Grandpa…

Before we devoured Becky’s delicious cupcakes,Emmet and Elliot both toasted their father with words that brought tears to his eyes.  Adam co-opted Elton John’s  Your Song, and sang  Your Sons  – …And you can tell everybody that we are your sons…and that brought tears to my eyes!

As parents, Mr. Smith and I delight in seeing our sons together, interacting with each other and each other’s children!  Seeing our grandchildren playing together and creating bonds is priceless.  Celebrations are a brilliant way to show children where they come from. It’s a big, beautiful circle of life.

Our sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren gave Mr. Smith what he wanted most for his birthday – their time.  No matter where we move or where we live, there will always be space for our cherished memories.


C’est la vie.

The Prodigal Son (sort of)…

Driving home from work last Wednesday, I slowed for an intersection. Apparently, the driver approaching in cross traffic decided I wouldn’t mind in the least if he blew through his stop sign and pulled out in front of me.  As I slammed on the brakes, my right arm flew out to protect the phantom child in the passenger seat.  Now my youngest child is 34 years old and 1,600 miles away, but that didn’t stop my arm from flying out to protect my precious cargo! As a mother, do we ever stop wanting to protect our children?  Does your arm still fly out without thinking at an emergency stop?

Over the years of raising our children, I have on more than one occasion interceded on the part of my children.  I admit that I may have hovered a bit too much at times, but I always tried to fight the urge to be a “lawn mower” parent, rushing in to mow down any potential inconvenience, problem or discomfort.   My goal has been to raise independent, resilient adults. Yet even though they have been adults for many years, I still worry. I have had enough life experience to understand a rejection from a college or an employment opportunity isn’t a personal denial of my child’s worth and they will survive and go on (as I have!) But as their mother I find it hard to believe that someone wouldn’t recognize how fabulous they each are and immediately select my son!

Those mama bear feelings reared up this spring when Adam discovered some employment opportunities in his field and decided to throw his resume into the ring. Consequently, this spring was a restless one for me.  It began with Adam’s text regarding positions open in several locations including New Hampshire, Virginia and Pennsylvania. All these locations would bring my newest granddaughter closer to me, but I couldn’t help but think about the Penn State University job in State College, Pennsylvania that would put her closest.  Following that initial text were regular updates regarding scheduling interviews and on-campus visits. We waited for other candidates to be interviewed, decisions to be made and offers to be negotiated.

Grandma’s little feminist…

Hurray! We are over the moon that Adam has just accepted a faculty position at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania and will be moving to Pennsylvania the same month that Mr. Smith and I move to Pennsylvania! We have not lived in the same state as Adam since he graduated from Indiana University in the spring of 2007.   That fall, he went off to graduate school in Colorado.  After a year of grad school, he dropped out and spent a year making salads (not feeding pigs like the biblical prodigal son).  He eventually found a professor he wanted to study under at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.  Mr. Smith helped load Adam and all his worldly possessions into a moving truck and drove with him to Texas, leaving him there in an “interesting” apartment Adam had found on the internet.  At Texas Tech he didn’t waste his life in “riotous living”.   He completed his graduate studies, obtained his PhD, met his wife, Hsin Yi, and they married.  And they gave us Eleanor. Of all our long-distance grandchildren, the distance to Eleanor has always been the farthest. Now instead of 1,600 miles apart, she will be living 130 miles away.  That is Sunday dinner territory for the Smith family!  In addition, this move brings Adam closer to both of his brothers and their families.  While thankfully not a true “prodigal son”, we are all excited and will recognize this move with great celebration and fanfare.  And I’m elated to be able to spend more quality time with Eleanor, my brilliant little feminist.  I think Aunt Ruby would be pleased.

C’est la vie.