Tag Archives: holiday

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go: Putting 2017 in the Rearview

12 Dec

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PHOTO (AND RUSSELL KID BOMB) CRED: ANI VATTANO

Even though the rapid succession of mergers and acquisitions in IT that started in 2016 resulted in bringing my business to a grinding halt, I have to admit that the universe probably had a hand in it looking back. And that may be the only reason I’m not completely bald. (The Rogaine helps too.)

I am going to dub this year THE SHOW ON THE ROAD YEAR. Mostly because the YEAR OF DEATH is just too macabre. Even for me.

Let’s get the sad part over with first, shall we?

The first one came mid-January. The death of democracy as we know it vanished before our eyes as the Grabber-in-Chief was sworn into office. Setting the tone

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The bean machine

for what would become a daily diatribe between the hubby and me as we agonized over some new bit of news. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. This election has set the tone for us this year as we entered a level of mourning and sadness that we didn’t think was possible. Leading us to march in Denver as a family for women, science, the EARTH, common sense, equal rights, immigrants, blacks, browns, LGBTQ…pretty much ANYTHING EXCEPT power-grabbing, rich, white guys. (Don’t worry. It’s all fake.) And here ends my political rant, as I know better than most that it falls on deaf ears anyway among those of you who still, in spite of everything blazing into our brains daily, LUV YOU SUM TRUMP.

Then, end of January was Uncle Dick. It was a very hard hit because even though we knew his diagnosis of ALS was really, really bad…we all thought we’d have a little more time. Uncle Dick was one of our most favorite people. Always good for a laugh, a little gossip, a fantastic manhattan. He introduced us to The Stinking Rose, our favorite city, San Fran, and was one of the inspirations (along with Val) behind our move west. As Kenny’s godfather and uncle, he was a constant source of inspiration for a life well lived, outside of the normal, expected boundaries. I don’t know that we ever thanked him enough for always being there and for the positive impact he had on our lives. I hope he knew.

It wasn’t until June that the next news came. Just a few short hours after we’d returned without the hubby (who flew straight to Greenville, SC) from Montana. My aunt Kathy. She’d been in the throes of dementia, but now there was more to the story. Stage IV metastatic bone cancer. She’d be gone in two months. I’ve written quite a bit about her and you can too here and here. It was an incredibly rough summer.

During this ordeal with Kathy, our dear friend, Martha (age 15), had a scan that showed her Ewings Sarcoma had relapsed. So shit news all around. In fact, I was driving Martha and her mom back from her first chemo when the news came that Kathy had died. Life is just really a shit show sometimes. For real.

So why THE SHOW ON THE ROAD YEAR? That sounds so exciting, right? Well, seeing as how the hubby was gone for most of the year for work and we’d have to meet up with him to do things like celebrate his 50th in NorCal, but then attend his dear uncle’s funeral later the same week…well, you get the picture.

We were, however, lucky enough to stage a full-fledged getaway to Riviera Maya at the Andaz Mayakoba for spring break. Even scoring a sweet day in the epicenter of the

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In the belly of the Spring Break 2017 BEAST

spring break maelstrom also known as a catamaran in Cancun. (We are SO smart. The girls have now been officially indoctrinated! Rum punch and death-defying spinnaker flights for everyone!)

We made the best of the trip the following month to Marin and Sausalito, even through it was under such sad circumstances. The hubby was in San Jose that week for Monday and Tuesday. Flew back Tuesday afternoon (his birthday) just in time for some champagne on the porch and dinner at Blackbelly with the girls. And had just enough time to pack again and fly back to San Fran the very next day.

We got to hit Zuni Cafe (we live and die for that chicken!), saw a guy smoking crack on the way back to the car (“welcome to the city, girls!”), stayed at an awesome carriage house in Sausalito, tasted vino in

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A buncha hog legs

Healdsburg, shopped at the Heath outlet (yay for new dishes!), ate our collective body weights in oysters at Hog Island, and then spent the weekend celebrating the life of a man well-loved. It was beautiful, joyful, sad, bittersweet, and we were so thankful to be there.

The next month it was off to Montana to celebrate our sweet Ty-Ty and her amazing high school achievements.

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Congratulations, Ty!

Then, upon receipt of the Kathy news, Lucia and I were back on a plane to South Carolina to check in on her, get her settled in with Hospice, and help her friend, Bobbie, with anything else that was needed to sell the house and settle her affairs.

When it was time to leave, I was extremely upset and torn. I felt I needed to be in SC as much as possible and knew I’d need to go back as soon as I could. As luck would have it, Kenny was working in Greenville a ton, so it wasn’t very hard to arrange an extended stay for the end of July. Plus, there was a work event his boss asked us to attend in his place at the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee, so with a huge amount of logistics wrangling, and a schedule for 2 ½ weeks that took a spreadsheet to manage, we were set to return.

On July 4th, we were enjoying the respite at home before we hit the road again. Lucia had headed up to a friend’s family cabin in the mountains to spend the day BBQing, canoeing and hanging with friends. Sella was jumping on the tramp with some neighbor kids. And Kenny and I had just scooped ourselves some freshly made frosé for our planned Crown marathon on Netflix. So you can imagine how startled we were when three of Lucia’s friends — who were supposed to be with her at the gathering — show up asking if we know where Lucia is. It was one of those moments every parent of a teenager dreads.

After a short bout of questioning, Kenny whipped into action, getting both the car description and license plate and placing a call to the police. I grabbed my keys and loaded the boys into the car with me to retrace the drive up the canyon. It was a very solemn ride and I kept reminding them to look down the cliff on BOTH sides and keep their eyes peeled. I was fuming a bit assuming they had done something stupid or were pulling some antics.

Well. Turns out they weren’t. I arrived to a scene of cops, paramedics and another frantic mother who had beat me there. My legs turned to lead as I started to get out of the car. The frantic mom was on me immediately and I whipped my head around looking for Lucia and her boyfriend as I took in every fourth word or so from the stream being hurled at me. It went like this: ACCIDENT. ROLL OVER. AMBULANCE. As my level of hysteria grew, my knees started to give way and bile rose up in my throat, a police officer grabbed my arm and said the words I so desperately needed to hear, “Every. One. Is. Safe.” And that’s when I finally spotted Lucia. The relief flooded me as we hugged for dear life and cried our hearts out. She’d lost her phone. I told her I could care less about that. All I cared about was her. Patrick was okay too. He’d just burned his leg a little on the exhaust pipe as he helped everyone out of the car.

The car came by on the tow truck about then. It was totaled. And I think I aged about 15 years in 15 minutes.

Yes. Lucia has a boyfriend. They have been an item for almost 9 months now, are inseparable and Kenny is having the appropriate dad-of-a-baby-girl fit. Luckily he’s a

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Love birds

good kid and treats her like she’s made of spun gold.

Then, Lucia had her wisdom teeth out three days after the accident (wanna see the video?) and, a few days after that, it was time to hop back on a plane to head south again. The spreadsheet was officially enacted and we traipsed from one side of the state, then to Georgia, then back again with a little lake fun thrown in between visits to the nursing home to see Kathy. Then a few days at the HAUNTED rental in Greenville (blog on that coming soon) while Kenny worked and the girls and I goofed off. We got home to Colorado and had two whole days before Kenny left for Chicago and Lucia left for five days in Minnesota with Patrick’s family. (Are you keeping up still?)

Then it was wedding weekend for our dear friends, Julie and Tricia. (So incredibly happy for them! What a touching day.) And then school started back (Bean is a middle schooler!

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First day: 11th and 6th

Teen Queen is a JUNIOR and looking at colleges! Shitdamn.) A few days later we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary, then the very next day, Martha started chemo and Kathy died.

The month of September was a blur of funeral planning and crazy cat ladies and chemo (for Martha). And then we were back on planes to say another final goodbye.

Even though some may think I should call this THE MOST FREAKING DEPRESSING YEAR EVER, I’m gonna stick with SHOW ON THE ROAD and make that my silver lining playbook.

At this point, I am happy to report that the deal finally closed for Kenny’s original company, paving the way for the deal for his new company to close. So he is now officially an employee of Ruckus Networks, an Arris Company. He has no travel planned for the rest of the year and we are all happy, healthy and glad to be home for a bit.

As for me, I am actively plotting a March adventure and fervently hoping 2018 will be a little more kind.

Here’s hoping it is for ALL of us.

Some 2017 Highlights and Bragging Rights:

  • Bean was Simba in the Lion King and graduated from Mesa Elementary, thereby ending an 11-year run at the school for us. It was sad!

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    Behold Simba-Bean

  • Teen Queen got her license (my heart still hasn’t recovered).
  • We fit in at least one camping trip and didn’t tip the camper over or anything.
  • We hiked our butts off every minute we could — our adopted home state is a truly glorious place.
  • Bean secured a spot in the middle school jazz band as the only female trombone player.
  • Bean braces went on 12.12.17. Jumping straight into the season with a sore mouth. Oy.
  • Teen Queen has thrown herself into photography, guitar lessons and hip-hop dance in between boyfriend and school. I don’t know how she does it. 😆 🤪
  • We got two toes in sand times for the year. Not too shabby considering.
  • Our dear friend, Amy’s, book was published and will be available for orders soon 22770521_922019764616703_4899359695158133580_othanks to the passionate efforts put in by her loving husband and family. Her memory lives on in her vibrant words. We love you always, Amy.

 

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The Matthews 2016 Download

11 Dec

Brought to you by that family who brings you their sad sack stories. Every. Single. Year. Until. Now.

2016 has been…dare I utter the word?…normal. Blissfully, unbelievably, normal. But that’s only if you factor in the smack-you-in-the-face-because-damn-you’re-old moment of taking your oldest to get her driving permit and then having to actually ride shotgun with said newly-minted driver and be nearly killed. Each. And. Every. Time. (Okay. Kidding. She’s SUPER responsible and careful, just like her mom.)

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Miss-miss hits the DMV

So near death driving events aside, we found ourselves in our very own version of the upside-down in the slow, but sure lane. Dear friends with clean scans (talkin’ ’bout YOU La-La and Mar!), hubby with a still clean colon…we became those people who just go see friends play in their bands and launch their art exhibits. You know the ones. Dr. Everything-be-all-rights? (Oh right, THAT one hit one of us particularly hard this year…RIP Prince.)

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Bliss c/o Belize

Our favorite 2016 moment was when we happened upon our one true love, Belize. Checking a big something off of our bucket list, we arrived in March for spring break with no expectations and came away changed people. We fell in love with the turquoise, tranquil waters, the daily fresh coconut provided by our new, dear friend, Eric, and left a bit of our souls there when we left. Many tears were shed and we have vowed to go back as quickly as possible.

For the first half of 2016, we did all of the boring, mundane things we had been meaning to do, in fact. Finally got the 4-years-in-the-making landscaping done. Replaced the Vitamix. You know. The good stuff.

And we hummed right along with a tag-along trip with the hubby to Cali and San Fran as soon as school closed its doors for summer.

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Some famous bridge (and bikers)

Took in as many foodie stops in the city as we could fit in for a few days. Drank copious amounts of wine with Cheryl by her pool. Got in some QT with the Cali fam. All adding to that good stuff list.

It wasn’t until ALL THE WAY INTO THE END OF JUNE that the first hit of the year came. (I feel like I’m jinxing us with a walk-under-the-ladder-holding-a-black-cat-while-breaking-a-mirror-and-NOT-knocking-on-wood just by saying that.) But it’s true. And surreal.

And even though everything is fine now, having your baby diagnosed with epilepsy is a big sideways hit no matter how you slice it. So there was that.

We survived and made it to the appointments and figured out how to still get to

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Sharpthews hit Yellowstone
(Photo cred: Rhys Sharpton)

Yellowstone the next week with new meds and just-in-case emergency procedures to follow. And had a fantastic time in that breath-taking place with our dear friends. (Who were generous enough to pick a spot to meet us…er…halfway from Kalispell…with the joke squarely on US with our 11-hour drive to their 6.)

We’ve had school plays, concerts, field trips, volleyball tournaments, dance classes, softball games, camping trips, lots and lots of house guests, hikes,

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Bean at bat

cocktails, picnics, dinner parties, laughs, cries, and all of that good stuff too. And even with all of the uncertainty the IT world has wrought lately with all of the mergers and acquisitions that directly impact BOTH of our jobs…It’s truly been one of the first solidly great years we’ve had in a while. So we will TAKE IT. In fact, when we take into account all that the last few years have sent our way? I’d say we are counting our blessings in a BIG way as we close out 2016.

Three Cheers for the New Year

26 Dec

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Photo Cred: Ani Vattano Photography

The 2015 Matthews New Year E-Letter

Brought to you by that family who brings you their sad sack stories. Every. Single. Year.

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Facebook image inspired by Charleston shootings.

The fact that these greetings are coming your way after Christmas is over should speak for itself. The tumult that was 2015 was a stealthy little bastard. Poking it’s nasty head up just as we thought we’d crossed into some well-earned peace. The overview through September is here for a refresher. I notice that I omitted the horrific tragedies that befell our home state this year. Those brought on many, many bouts of tears and hand-wringing from afar as we watched and waited and hoped all would be okay. (And I couldn’t help but think, “How many times can one change their Facebook profile pic in one year in homage to yet another tragedy?”)

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Percy home, safe and sound with Boone.

The other big event was in July — when some crack-headed idiot decides it’s time to up and steal a car. With my parents’ dog inside. Huge favors called in and multiple news stories later, Percy was found safe (albeit a little bit more whack-a-doodle ever since).

So you’d think that would be quite enough for the year. And it would. But then the hubby decided to take a nap on the conveyer belt at the Whole Foods check out and couldn’t get up. So we had that fun time visit to the ER, complete with MRI, to learn he had a compacted disk.

Then Teen Queen decided to break up with her cutie patootie boyfriend after homecoming and bean came home with THE LICE.

Then. I decided to post a photo of all of the kick ass peeps I know who’ve kicked cancer’s ass and, what do you know, that

We’ll miss you always, G-Man.

asshole fate decided to take another one of them just to mock me. So just as the lice prevention olive oil hair styles were at their peak, we flew to DC to bid an incredibly sad farewell to our dear, dear friend, Amy, who just didn’t get long enough to do what she was doing – which was inspire us and make us laugh and lift us up when another BFF gets cancer. It still makes me cry to think about it. The hubby was honored to be a pall bearer though he counts it as one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do.

RIP dear, sweet Gigi.

RIP dear, sweet Gigi.

November brought another terrorist act and another profile pic change and more sadness for lives lost. And then Gigi decided 99.75 years was quite enough and took her leave as well on December 2nd. So off we went to SC to say good bye to yet another person we held so dear.

And so we don’t end there with you face down in a gutter with a brown bag and bottle just from reading our year end retrospective, I’ll end on a high note (in chronological order):

    1. Excellent trip to Santa Fe in February for Teen Queen’s birthday. We ate our way across the town and kept the
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      Chile ristra, La Posada de Santa Fe

      ghost at La Posada company for the weekend. What an incredible time we had

    2. Another family adventure to California for spring break in March found us in a VRBO in the heart of Venice.
      Bikes rented, we headed out in search of the best eats and got to see one of our favorite peeps while we were there — plus the Warner Brothers lot where Lucia decided I was destined to write for any one of her favorite TV shows and set out to locate every possible link toevery job posting she could find.
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Welcome to…California!

  1. On my birthday in April, the hubby got the five-year-all-clear scan results we’ve been holding our breath for since his diagnosis in June 2010. Best birthday present ever!
  2. June found us in SC one row from the beach at Folly. It was a Simmonds reunion kind of weekend with my girl cousins (and memories of the third ever present), mom, aunt, brother, sis-in-law and all of their offspring. We even got a day visit from the wife of one boy cousin with all cousin kiddos. What a blast.
  3. The hubby landed himself a job in July and has been a working stiff ever since. He’s been traveling like crazy and it’s been quite the adjustment. You can read more about that here.
  4. We bought ourselves a sweet camper in May and got in more than one adventure before the
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    Little surfer girl, Folly Beach, SC

    hubby was back tied to a desk and airplane. We even tipped the damn thing over on our maiden voyage…because that’s how we roll.

  5. We had visits from a boy cousin, a brother/brother-in-law and the parents/in-laws and got to celebrate the big 8-0 for Pop with all of his brothers and most of the ‘west coast contingent’ of the Matthews clan.
  6. I made a solo voyage to Ohio and got to party like it was 1999. Kentucky-border style.
  7. We got new windows.
  8. We watched the bean swim, run and kick a ball and the teen queen volley and do the bump-n-grind — I mean dance.

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    You never know what will pop up.

  9. We survived one whole semester with a high schooler.

Now we have driver’s ed to weather and a shiny, new year that we are counting on being full of adventures far and wide and smack full of good health, mother nature 100%  in a good mood, and peace on earth without hearts full of darkness. Can I get an AMEN?

THIS YEAR’S THEME SONG: Because a pause is the only time it takes for them to get a jump on us so if you’re staying in, you best be braced, but if you’re coming out then let’s just go. ~Ages and Ages

 

 

 

 

 

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