Category: family

Memories of My Grandma

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Today I am writing to you from a hotel room in Folsom, California. I am here to bid goodbye to and remember my dear Grandma Judy Wagner. There are few people on this planet that I love more than my Grandma and as one might expect my emotions at the moment are quite tender and overflowing, but I thought I might take a second to explain why I loved her so much.

It’s interesting because we all have those people in our lives who are complicated to love. That are difficult, demanding, frustrating, even cruel but they are a part of our lives so we learn to love them. This was not the case with my Grandma. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t adore her. Sure we had a few mild tiffs but they were always resolved by mealtime and quickly forgotten. She was just so darn lovable.

There are a lot of reasons I loved my Grandma but one of the biggest is that she got a lot of joy out of life and out of introducing her loved ones to what she loved. It’s always been strange to me that she enjoyed morose books like Ethan Frome because whether it was a new place for muffins or a Broadway show her love of what she loved was contagious. When I was 9 or 10 she took me to see Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco, and we both sat mouth agape when the chandelier came crashing towards the audience. It was a magical moment!

When I was 10 I saw Home Alone with her and it is my earliest memory of laughing uproariously at a film. I will always be sad that I never got to go to Hawaii with her because we both shared a love of the ocean and those beautiful islands. I remember many times her coming to visit us in Maryland and since it was the old days when calling long distance was expensive I enjoyed writing her letters for many years as a child.

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My Grandma loved Christmas, Easter, the Rockettes, yummy platters of simple food, theme parties, New York City, Hawaii, tap dancing, Gone with the Wind, cozy detective novels, and getting her hair and nails done each week.

One of the last real conversations I had with her before her heart troubles made communication more challenging I had sent her a cheesy bracelet for Christmas with the saying ‘God couldn’t be everywhere so he gave us Grandmothers’. After she received it she called to thank me, and we chatted for an hour so. We talked about the family, my various activities, and we both said our I love yous. I remember the conversation because I had to step out of a church activity to take her call. Boy am I glad I did! Life is funny like that. It gives you moments of connection that are so easy to miss! I’m going to try and grab them from now on.

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My Grandma loved pomp and ceremony. She loved attending graduations, weddings and celebrating the accomplishments of her family. I am sure more than one of us grandkids have gone through the processional of graduation more because we knew how much Grandma would love it than it was our true desire to so. I think she was just really proud of us and loved being a part of our lives. We loved her right back for it.

When my Grandma first had her heart problems my sister lived nearby. I remember calling her and saying ‘make sure to let me know if I need to fly home because Grandma and I have an extra special bond’ and Megan saying  ‘you’re like the 10th cousin who has called saying that today’ and it was the truth. Everyone felt like they were the most special of all grandkids and the most loved. That’s such a gift. I hope I can love people in that way.

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One of my happiest memories with my Grandma occurred in December 2000. My cousin Lisa and I developed a scheme where we would promise to go to see the Rockettes if my Grandma would go with us to New York. Of course in reality we loved the Rockettes so it was a win-win situation. The 3 of us spent 4 or 5 days in New York City eating pizza, going to shows (Beauty and the Beast, The Music Man and the Rockettes Spectacular) and enjoying Christmas in New York City. Little did we know that Lisa would pass away the next April. Now they are both gone, and I’m so grateful for that sacred time we had together.

Other memories…I remember her calling to cheer me up when I was depressed at work each Wednesday at lunch. I remember swimming at her very unique pool that had a huge shallow end. I remember hearing of her trips and the yummy things they had and looking through her stamp collection (or her collection of Mickeys, Santas, watches etc). I always loved the way her home smelled like a new car and the way you could run through the hallways with glee (to the point once I ran my hand through her stained glass window and had to go to the hospital). I remember going to a family reunion with her brother’s family and how much that meant to her (we had whole lobsters!).

I remember when she was babysitting us, and we brought home a nest of quail a neighbor had ‘given’ us. I remember watching Christmas Vacation and her laughing so hard she could barely breathe when the aunt offers the pledge of allegiance as grace or when the squirrel comes out of the tree. I remember watching Gone with the Wind with her and looking at her beautiful Scarlet O’hara inspired doll collection.

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When I was 8 or 9 she got me my first doll but only did so after I swore I would take care of it. I was a messy kid (and messy adult), and she didn’t believe I was ready for such a special doll. After that, it was most prized, and I’m proud I still have it to this day, box and all! When my little cousin destroyed one of my dolls she had given me I was furious not because of my heirloom but because it was a betrayal of a promise I had made to my Grandma. A betrayal not of my own doing! How dare she!

I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t want to be like my Grandma. She was simply the best, and I will miss her dearly. I hope she is enjoying catching up with Lisa up in the Spirit World and that she knows how much I love her.

As for me down here on Earth I will cry a lot today and recommit myself to be more like her. Thanks Grandma for all the memories. I love you!

Rachel’s Holiday Update 1

 

It’s 3:20am and I should be sleeping but alas I am just not tired so I figured I might as well update my blog. I should have updated it sooner but I have been in over my head with podcasting. Today I literally watched my 50th Christmas movie, both Hallmark and other networks and amazingly enough I am still on board for more holiday films! The Hallmarkies Podcast has been doing great this year with us making the top 120 TV and Film Podcasts on Itunes and getting over 16k listens in the month of November! Wow! I am still blown away by all of that. It has been an insane amount of work but I am so proud of what we have built.

We have a new merch store for the first time which is so much fun! You can get all kinds of holiday and Hallmark inspired gear:

https://www.teepublic.com/user/hallmarkies

I’ve managed to have a little bit of fun doing other things for the holidays including setting up my traditional holiday decor. Each year I have a memory tree that is full of ornaments that symbolize different parts of my life:

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My memory ornament to symbolize this year is all about podcasting and I found this adorable headphones ornament! I was so excited!

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I also fulfilled my dream of getting a white tree (4 ft) for my office. I love it!

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I also have already kind of celebrated Christmas. My brother and 2 nieces came into town for a weekend and so they came to my house and we had a baked potato bar, exchanged gifts and had a great time!

It was a really great time to be together and celebrate Christmas. My parents are going to be gone for most of this month so I’m planning on just working on my podcasts as much as I can and do a few fun things (Thursday I am going to see Christmas Carol at Hale Theater).

The one crazy thing about the podcast is there is always more work to do. There are people to contact for interviews, movies to watch, notes to prepare, the list goes on and on. Never a dull moment! I want to be ready to reach out to sponsorships in the new year and maybe develop a patreon account but I want it to be done right and not just thrown together. I’m very excited to see what the New Year has in store for our podcast and to have survived Countdown to Christmas 2018.

Also we have 2 hour church coming in January which I am over the moon excited about! Yay!

How have you guys been? I hope the beginning of your holiday season has been going great!

 

Friday 5: My Dad’s Favorite Songs

This week for Friday 5 we had a special topic. It was all about Dads and Father’s Day.  I tried to find songs about fathers like I had done for Mother’s Day but most of the songs were really depressing (like Papa was a Rolling Stone).  This certainly didn’t capture my Dad at all. So I decided to do something different and I asked my Dad what his 5 favorite songs were and he gave me 6 great choices.

I think the songs show  a lot about his personality and how much of a people person he is.  They are also diverse and songs filled with empathy.  I was a little surprised he went with a Fleetwood Mac song as I had no idea he was a fan of them.  That’s what’s cool about the Friday 5 is I’m constantly learning new things about music.  It’s neat because I think I know just about everything about my Dad or other relatives and then it turns out there is always more to learn.

So these are my Dad’s 6 favorite songs and they are all fantastic.  I particularly love Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Credence Clear water Revival. With the horrible events that happened in Orlando I found myself listening to that song and finding some comfort in it.

Anyway, let me know what you think of these 6 songs and to all you Dads out there have a great weekend!

Scheduling Happiness

On Monday I got the chance to go to an early screening of the new holiday film Love the Coopers.  It’s not a good movie.  In fact, in many ways it is a very terrible film but I had an ok time watching it.  Here’s my review:

One of the things I liked in the film is this idea of scheduling happiness that happens during the holidays.  I’ve felt that a little bit the last few years.  When I was a kid I loved the holidays because they were happening to me and the magic of the season was easy to latch onto.  As an adult that magic usually takes a lot of effort and has to be planned out.  It’s like I am saying “this Thursday I will be happy.  Let’s schedule it in”.  I don’t think during other times of the year I have such a weighted expectation of achieving happiness in all my plans.

It’s not that I expect to be miserable during the rest of the year’s goings-on but usually it’s more a more neutral every day form of happiness that is anticipated.  I go to a movie, meet a friend for lunch, attend a birthday party.  All pleasant experiences but not a highlight of the year.  During the holidays pleasant somehow feels like a letdown.  Does this make sense to any of you?

Last year I was basically alone on Christmas which was a little bit sad.  I am sure there is someone out there that likes to be alone on the holidays but the vast majority of us think of it as a time to be with family/friends.  I did have Christmas Eve with family and Christmas brunch with friends but most of the day I was alone.  The thing is it actually ended up feeling like any other day and you know what- that was a relief.  It was just a day off from work and not that different from 4th of July.  Perhaps it was being so horribly sick the year before I just allowed myself to have an ordinary day on Christmas day.

I think there might be something to this.  Instead of scheduling and planning happiness just allowing Christmas to be more of an ordinary day.  That way when the joys of the season come they feel unexpected and give us even more happiness than if we planned them out.  I know I might miss out on some things that require planning but I feel I have enough of a routine that I’m not going to really miss out. For instance, I go to Christmas Carol at Hale Theater every year.  That’s my routine so it doesn’t require much planning.

The last few holiday seasons have been interesting.  In 2012 I was alone, everything in boxes, and getting ready for the move.  Things were tough in my family that year and it was a stressful time.  In 2013 I got sick as a dog.  It was one of the sickest I have been in years.  It hurt to breathe and I was so miserable I couldn’t even open presents on Christmas day. And then last year I was alone but had a pleasant simple Christmas (again that felt like a little bit of a letdown because it was just another day).

I know people who say Christmas is better for them as adults than as children.  That’s cool for them but definitely not my experience.  Like I said, when you are a kid the magic is presented for you (or at least it was for me) and as an adult it all gets much more muddled.  I feel like sometimes I end up chasing that Christmas of my childhood and am a bit disappointed when I don’t achieve it.

This year I am going to see my family in California for Thanksgiving but not at Christmas.  I am going to try and plan a few things but I am going to try and temper that expectation of happiness and just enjoy the moments for what they are.  Sure I will plan some things but the idea of scheduling ‘I will be happy next thursday’ I don’t think works very well.  It ends up feeling like a cheesy smile in a school photo- kind of hollow version of happiness.  I just want to schedule a few things and if they make me happy that’s awesome!

Do you know what I am saying?  Does that make any sense?  Have any of you felt a little underwhelmed by the holiday season as adults?  What do you think of this idea of scheduling happiness?

Family Movie Night Update

Hey everyone!  I just wanted to put a little reminder about my new column over at ldsblogs.com.  I just had posted my 6th piece on Curious George.  It would really help me out if you went on the site and left some comments on the articles.  Please, please, please

Here is a link to each article.

The articles include both my video and a print review that goes into more depth.  I have tried to do a variety of films that will hopefully appeal to a mixture of families.  I would love some feedback from you on the type of films I should review in the future.  The only rule is it has to be a film available on Netflix Stream, as that is the main premise of the column.  If you watch any of them with your family I would love to know how it goes.

So far I have reviewed (I will include links to the column and the video review if you just want to watch those.)

Column 1- Disney’s Holes

Column 2- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Column 3- Anastasia

Column 4- An Extremely Goofy Movie

Column 5- The Boxtrolls

I have been working on learning to use Adobe Premiere software and it is tough.  Curious George was my first video with that software.

Column 6- Curious George

Next week’s pick will be the Rodger and Hammerstein musical State Fair.  Here’s the video (I am a week ahead on the channel to give me time to write for the column).

This is the best video I have done with Adobe Premiere.  I’m kind of proud of it