February 13, 2017

Valentine From Mom

It's been a little bit of a tough winter for me. Some of you know, but I lost my mom last fall. She had a terminal cancer so we expected death, but not like that. The year before her death, she was in and out of the hospital several times then had a stroke in August. A month later she passed away from an unknown reason.

I knew she would die. I knew she would die sooner rather than later. Given all of her illness that last year, I suspected we would loose her sooner than anticipated. The night before she passed though, I had her out to dinner and had a lovely night with her. I would not guess that by 2:00 the next day she would be dead. That was the difficult part.

My birthday passed, then the holidays and finally her birthday. It likely did not help that we had little to no sun in January either. I thought I did well, but still felt her loss deeply.

I can't be the only person who has lost a parent, that talks to that parent. In fact, in mentioning that, I found out that most people talk to their deceased parent. I talk to her mainly when it is quiet, and when I am alone. Like when I talk a walk at night or when driving alone in the car. 

In the last couple days though, there have been several times where I just wanted to pick up the phone and talk to mom. I wanted to share a little story about my daughter or share my son's latest accomplishment.

So this weekend when I had to go to Port Huron for Boy Scouts, I went to where her childhood house on the river used to be. My grandpa was the commercial fisherman/bait guy where the Port Huron Coast Guard station now sits. There is a small park there, across the street from my great-grandma's house, so I walked for a bit to talk to her. I walked and told her everything.

 I still had several hours to kill before getting my son and his friends, so I went in search of rocks. Thanks to my grandfather, I am a rock-hound. Much to the dismay of my husband and children, I can easily spend hours siting and sifting through rocks on the beach. Taking the opportunity to walk along the beach, without anyone else sounded divine.

I stopped at three beaches between Port Huron and Fort Gratiot. The first one is across the street of my childhood home, and the other two were ones I have visited many times when I was a child. There was still a small ice shelf on the beach, but the sun was peeking from behind the clouds and there was little wind, making it a nice winter day.

I know what to expect in searching those beaches. Horn coral, small petosky stones, chain coral, favosite fragments, red jasper, unakite, perhaps some beach glass and maybe a puddingstone. For the first time ever I even found a puddingstone!


I was almost out of time when I visited the last beach. Although I had already found several nice Petosky stones, I asked my mom if she would help me find a really nice (big) Petoskey or puddingstone. That's when it happened. I looked down and found a tiny puddingstone with a small red jasper heart. 

I could not believe the little beauty staring back at me. I immediately picked it up and thought perhaps someone had painted the heart on a tone and left it to be found. I was right. I was painted by God and left for me to find. It was a sign from my mom that she was listening and was sending her love to me.


February 7, 2017

Valentine's Day Craft Projects for Kids and Teens

Kid's can make their Valentine a salt-dough 
heart or create other personalized craft 
creations this week at several events 
throughout Ann Arbor.

Photo courtesy of Kaboose.
When I think of Valentine's Day, I am reminded of a Valentine's Day school party in fifth grade. I passed out the typical handcrafted Valentine's Day cards to classmates and even got crafty with salt-dough, shaping it into a Valentine heart that I gave to Hank, my fifth grade crush. Unfortunately for me, even though I didn't label who the heart was from, he knew, and proceeded to tell the entire class I didn't know how to cook. Explaining that it wasn't a cookie was a fruitless effort and quite embarrassing!
Creating Valentine's Day gifts, though, became a tradition of sorts and one that I have passed to my children — everyone loves a good treat, be it baked or crafted, and this week throughout Ann Arbor, there are many opportunities for your children and teens to craft their hearts out!
Michaels Crafts is always a good location for free or low-cost "Make-it Take-it" craft projects, and this week they are not failing to deliver. On Saturday, Feb. 11 from 10:00 a.m. - noon, kids ages 3 and up can drop in to create their own Valentine's cookie. Later that same day, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Buy blank cards in the store and create Valentine's Day cards with free craft supplies during the Michael's Make Event. 

The Ann Arbor Library has a couple events for children and teens to create sometime sweet for their sweethearts. On Saturday, Feb. 11 fat 2:00 p.m. at the Pittsfield branch, kids can create their very own Valentine's card and decoration to give to someone special. Then on Valentine's Day, be sure to stop in and learn all about chocolate. From 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the downtown library, learn about how chocolate is grown,  how to melt and temper it, and what the different percentages mean. This special event is intended for teens in grades 6 and up and adults. The event is sponsored by the People's Food Co-Op. Be sure to log into your Ann Arbor Library account to register!
Do you know of other Valentine's Day events to add to the calendar. Please share them in the comments below!