Tag: family

the one where they go to Beverly Hills

Last week was a whirlwind.

I mean, we tend to live in one, but last week was more of one than usual.

Due to extenuating work circumstances, we’ve been scouting magicians. Yeah. Six months ago I was scouting homeschool curriculum, now magicians. Anyway, an act at the top of our list happened to have a show in Los Angeles, where Pat Boone also happens to live (in the Hills, that is), so it made perfect sense for Rod to go.

When he started looking at flights, the airline we typically use to fly out of the Myrtle Beach airport only had flights to L.A. that stopped over in Chicago.


Well, it then made perfect sense for both of us to go (we work better together, after all) (and we haven’t had a night alone that didn’t involve packing or unpacking boxes in m o n t h s) (and, Chicago!). We flew to Chicago on Wednesday evening, leaving the girls to suffer with my parents…

We flew to L.A. Thursday morning, by way of Vegas

(it was 45 degrees in Chicago, that morning, by the way).

(it hurt my heart a little not to stop there. I heart Las Vegas)

and spent our rental-carless evening ordering pizza and watching utter crap on the TV before passing out at 9:30 pm, Pacific Time.

(and I am sad to say, due to our lack of a car and forethought, we had to pass up the opportunity to go here):

The next morning I woke up at 5 – 5AM! – which was ok, because it was already 8 on that other coast, where we live now.

I checked on Sara, because checking on her has been a habit for over a year, and now that her journey has almost ended, I find myself manically checking on her. Thankfully, on Friday, there was a blog post update, and it’s been quiet since. She is resting peacefully, it seems, and though we the internet love Gitzen Girl, this time is really about her RL family and friends. And so I pray. And choose joy…

After it became a respectable hour on the Pacific coast, Rod and I foraged for food. Let me pause her to say that while there are many lovely things about L.A., the area surrounding the airport is not one of them. At least we got a good walk in, before finding a Denny’s.

…where we encountered a waiter who was almost assuredly a character actor at some point, kind of reminding me of a pivotal Buffy character, in fact:

(and might I add here that I kind of miss scouring the internet for Buffy screencaps and such…those were the days…anyway…)

Also, Rod tried his own hand at magic.

Any second now, he’ll be shoving me into a box with flaming spikes.

Awhile after that, our new friend Marc (aka Pat Boone’s manager) picked us up and took us to the place where many pivotal scenes of The Lost Boys were fillmed~

(Also known as the Santa Monica Pier).

And we ate at a lovely restaurant across the street, where I ordered not enough of this:

(butternut squash & walnut ravioli. Yeah, it was).

And for those who enjoy hearing such anecdotes, I did trip THREE times crossing the street from the restaurant to the pier. Kelly is Kelly no matter what city she’s in…

As we headed to meetings at the Pat Boone office, Marc was a super-gracious host. He pointed out every cheesy landmark he thought I would like (It might have something to do with my squeeing over the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. He offered to stop there, but we were kinda running late, so my closest brush with the place that made Julia Roberts truly famous was this)~

It is absolutely true about L.A. traffic, by the way. There is no way Jack Bauer made it to all those places to save the world just in time. I mean, he’s amazing, but Chuck Norris he’s not…

The PBE offices~

were a ton of fun! There was Pat Boone (read: mainly 50s and 60s) memorabilia EVERYWHERE… from branded bobby socks to pictures with U.S. Presidents. And the cool part was, I got to ‘go shopping’ for the Pat Boone Family Theater by strolling around with a pad of Post-It notes (which is all this girl really needs to have a little fun) and marking things I want for display in the theater.

You’re really going to have to come see it

We did meet Pat Boone for a moment when we were there, in which he mistook me for my daughter due to this practically famous Facebook post:

And we watched some fantastic vintage footage with Charles and Andrea, the PBE office gurus. (Charles pictured here):

Then we had to leave for a magic show…20 miles/2 hours away. We pretty much made it just in time. We saw awesome stuff. Rod was an audience volunteer, teehee~

We met two completely wonderful people whom I hope to tell you about soon.

Then we crashed.

Then we woke up and graced the famous Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge with our decidedly Chicagolina selves…for breakfast with Marc and Pat Boone. For the record, the coffee was wonderful, I ordered the So Cal omelet, I did not spill anything on myself (or anyone else – score!), and… I did not take pictures.

But he was really there, as evidenced by this graceful entry he wrote for my nephew’s ‘journal around the world’ school project!~

He was full of fantastic stories. When I am, ahem, conducting business, I try not to put people into roles, but it wasn’t lost on me that Mr. Boone, just taking age into account, could be my grandfather, and my own grandparents would have gotten such a big kick out of my having breakfast with him. In Beverly-stinkin-Hills. He even sang a few little things, and prayed before breakfast. It was one of those wow moments, really.

Afterwards, I did the most subtly awestruck things I could do. I emailed my friends from the very posh bathroom, and made our good-humored Marc take this photo~

After the trip back to Illinois, we had one day to spend there. We went to our Chicago home church, we hung out with my parents, and I was visited by 3 of my besties, who came with food I can’t get in Myrtle Beach and babies i don’t get to see there~

…and then we headed to my bro and sis-in-law’s, who have one of the world’s cutest babies, which I don’t say only because she is my almost-namesake:
I was sad to see the time end, but grateful for a little bonus trip, one that included this

and this!

(having all four kids together for such a brief period of time that there are no pictures…)

and coming home to this:

We go rollin’ down this highway, chasing all our crazy dreams. You go your way and I go my way, and everywhere in between. One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground, just outside some sleepy little town, and set this circus down. { Tim McGraw }

they walked with me

When I got married, I broke with some traditions. We didn’t have chicken, beef, and pasta…we had fajitas. We sang our vows to each other.  Our best man and maiden of honor were Rod’s (now our) kids. And I had both my mom and my dad walk me down the aisle.

For me, it wasn’t really a question. My parents go hand in hand. They have been married for nearly 40 years and where one is, the other is usually close. They raised Jerry and me the same way. There was no pitting one against the other, no sneaking behind one’s back. You might think you’re confiding in one or the other, but it’s only a matter of time before beans are spilled.

(except when it came to surprise parties, or as I call them, torture. I think we’ve put a moratorium on them, until my 40th (!!!) and then, you all better be in on something amazing).

During the most difficult part of my life, reconciling mistakes and lies with grace and second chances, I lost a lot of people. Most of them were friends, and many of them have returned and been reconciled to me since then. But some of them were family, and they’ve been lost to us. Some forever. And because Mom and Dad, in spite of, shall we say encouragement to do differently, stuck by me when it wasn’t pretty, simple, or easy, they lost people too. In a big way.

Even when they had a hard time being my biggest fans, they have always been my most loyal supporters.

And in April, when Rod and I said for sure, for real, it’s time for us to go, they let us…no guilt, no pressure, sincere sadness, enthusiastic assistance (in the form of 16 hours on the bus with my children), and promises to at least consider maybe relocating, perhaps…

When I tell people my stories, the ones in which I must introduce my cast of characters, I usually preface with something like, “If you met my mom and dad, you would think I am adopted.” Other than the fact that I look more like my mom every day, and I have my dad’s temper, and I have my mom’s screech, and I have my dad’s sensitivity, and I have my mom’s sense of doom, and I have my dad’s sense of culinary adventure, we’re not much alike. I take the bull by the horns, and they are more passive. I figure it out as I go along, and they plan to the minute detail. I am always late, and they are always early, or at worst, right on time.

But here is the thing: the fact that my parents are timid doesn’t make them weak. And the fact that they have been responsible and loyal and generous even if not necessarily big risk-takers still makes them heroes. And what they are about to do makes them surprising and courageous in a way I could not have imagined.

I’m impressed. I’m beyond grateful. And I am happy to announce South Carolina’s newest unofficial residents beginning mid-October:

…well, they are coming to stay for a few months anyway. I’ve offered shared custody to Jer & Gina, so we’ll see how it goes. But there is a Par 3 next to the girls’ pre-school with Dad’s name on it, and Mom has been waiting since my nephew Andrew was a baby (he’s now 12) to be Caretaker Gramma, and God knows we need some help right now, so… (thanks for the blessing, Jer, and…)

Thank you Mom and Dad….for always walking with me, and now, for embracing the rock star, ocean breeze, Chicagolina life. May it bring some of your best times yet.


Keep g(r)o(w)ing

‘…But wherever it is that I am meant to be, I’m learning, bit by bit, day by day, how to open my heart up to it and accept the imminent and inevitable change.’ Relevant Magazine

I have a confession to make that seems scandalous to me.

Ten week into my new life…

I love my job.

Also, I am so happy for my kids, who are so excited about starting school. At a school.

I am thrilled for Paige as she prepares to leave for college at her dream school.

I’m exhilarated by the thought of Rod and I ‘taking on the world,’ just the 2 of us.

And, I feel at home at the beach.


It doesn’t mean I don’t still believe my kids are in the best care available to them when they are with me, because no one ever could love them more. But also, no one knows them better…and I know this experience is something that fits and is best for their lives today, (and I know that everything could change tomorrow).


We tend to live our lives in bursts of grand passion. Sometimes the objects of our passions stick, and sometimes they fade. Sometimes, the process of sifting through it all is exhausting, bewildering, seemingly fruitless. But I would rather keep riding the wave of a life that brings the unexpected than settle for whatever today holds in case it’s the best it will ever get.

{ photos by becky }

Thank God for Dads

..who change diapers when they are babies and still clean up the puke when they are teenagers.

..who don’t want us to go anywhere but still give us away.

..who consistently tell the daughters they are pretty AND smart..like their Mommy.

..who are proud but sensitive, hard-working but playful, informative and teachable.

..who still adore our Moms

..who still kiss their sons and tear up at the thoughts of how their kids have grown

..who brag in a non-competitive way

..who protect but give space

..who give advice and don’t get too mad when it isn’t taken

..who ask for help from their Heavenly Father

..who give hugs.

..who give themselves

I am so blessed to have a husband who is as wonderful a Daddy as my own, a Dad who is still with me (I miss you so much today), a brother who has and will always step up for his family, and many other special men in my life whose integrity is matched by their great big hearts. I love you all every day and thank God especially for you today.

The Red Room

The RED ROOM is synonymous with Rod & Kelly’s house. People either love it or hate it. It has served us well.

Several week before our wedding, in the summer of 2003, we spent a weekend painting it. We didn’t know to use primer. We did 3 coats on the ceiling (it needed one more that never got done), and I think 4 on the walls. I could barely walk from getting up and down the ladder so many times. Our friend Michelle helped. We did kind of a terrible job, but we loved it.

We wanted it to be our music room, and it was. We never obtained the black baby grand piano we’d envisioned for it, but music filled it nonetheless. For a year or so our praise and worship team practiced there. Rod recorded a CD in there & practiced music many other times, often with a baby strapped to him! Kaity grew a little and played her guitar in there. And Christmas? Oh, if ever a living room was made for Christmas, it was this one. We put up the tree 9 times to the sounds of Bing Crosby and Celine Dion and many more Yuletide favorites. This past year, our babies and their little friends made music in that room, too.

As of today, the red room is some sort of “lace” color. It is much brighter, it looks clean and pristine (thank you, Erik), and it shows no signs of the life lived in it for the past eight years.

There are 3 weeks until we exit this house. We still don’t know where we’re going. Our peace is deeply embedded, but our stress level is high. I am comforted knowing that the music, the redness that makes our home ours will go with us wherever we journey.