Tag: 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!

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Capitol Reef Family July 4th Weekend

Hey guys! Happy 4th of July! I hope you all had a pleasant holiday weekend. I ended up having a fun time with my family at one of Utah’s lesser known national parks called Capitol Reef National Park.

For many years my Dad has loved going down to Central Utah to ride his dirt bike motorcycles and ATVs with his friends over the rough terrain. Last year he bought a property for camping and such that he deemed as ‘Adventure Acres’. He loves going down there and getting away from the stresses of life which I can certainly appreciate.

That said, it’s never had much appeal to me because there is no lake, beach or river to swim in and I’m not interested in motorcycles or ATVs at all. I also don’t like to camp if it can be helped and red rock scenery is pretty but not my favorite.

Nevertheless, almost my entire family including all 5 of my nieces were going down to Adventure Acres for the 4th weekend so I decided to finally check it out. It’s still not my cup of tea but I had a good time spending time with my family.

The only frustrating part of the weekend for me was dealing with the slow internet connection at the hotel because my friend Jonathan and I recorded our podcast on the Doctor Who finale and it took 2 days to upload! You certainly do become grateful for high speed internet when you are away from it. That’s for sure!

Capitol Reef is not as splashy as Grand Canyon or Bryce with it all feeling like a small town but it still is beautiful and a lot of fun to visit especially if you are in to hiking and motorcycle dirt biking. I just enjoyed hanging out with my nieces and spending as much time with them as possible since they live in Portland, Oregon and the DC area and I don’t get to see them very much.

Anyway, we ended up having a good time together and I particularly loved spending time with my nieces. Here are some photos of the trip with commentary:

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Parents Moving and Other Happy News

Sorry again for a week in between posts. It was one of those weeks that just flew by. I’ve been busy and happy and more than a little bit tired (the Olympics threw off my sleep schedule badly). Anyway, I’ve been having a lot of fun working on my youtube channel and movie blog. I am almost at 1,000 subscribers so if you aren’t subscribed help me out! 🙂 I have particularly enjoyed doing podcasts with friends. My friend Tom and I are almost finished reviewing all the Star Trek movies (that’s 13).  The last one will be this week.

I also posted my Disney Canon video of Hunchback of Notre Dame and my friend Christine felt really differently. We did a podcast and talked about our differences. I’m really proud of it and how it came out. It shows to the internet you can disagree without being disagreeable.

On non-youtube front there has been lots of stuff going on. The biggest news is my parents have officially moved to Utah. There was definitely a time when this would have annoyed me, having my parents so close. But now I’m actually really excited about it. It’s nice to have them close by so I can drop by and visit and have support when I need it. I’ve also enjoyed being close to Sam and Madeline my siblings who will now be living close to me. I went to movie screenings with both of them last week (went with Madeline to Kubo and the Two Strings– fabulous. And Sam to Morgan– not good). I’m really excited for the years to come and having all of that family support!

Other fun development is I’ve started entertaining a little bit more. I had people from my new singles ward who all live by me come over to watch the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics. I got Trader Joes appetizers from all over the world! I was having so much fun I didn’t even take a picture. 🙂

I also went to my blogger book club last week where we read the graphic novel One Dead Spy which was very charming history book for kids. Then yesterday I had 4 of my friends over for my smaller book club where we talked about The Martian. The ladies all seemed to like it even if it did have a little more bad language than they are used too.  It was so much fun because I had freeze dried ice cream and tang for the treats! Perfect for your astronauts!

So that’s what has been going on. I’m very busy at work creating a game day campaign and my channel and blogging takes up most of my free time but I love doing what I’m doing.

What do you guys have going on in your life? Anything exciting? Let me know. 🙂

Also if you have any ideas for a regular series I could do on this blog let me know. I was doing the Teaser Tuesday book reviews but they didn’t seem to get much attention, so I stopped.  I could review books or music. Something simple I could do each week.

Rescued

rescued1This week I was rescued.

I know some of you follow me on social media so you know I have been and am extremely sick. Particularly Sunday through Tuesday I was some of the sickest I’ve ever been in my adult life. I couldn’t breathe fully, was coughing non-stop, very congested (went through a box and half of tissues in that time), wheezy breathing, body aches and lots of awfulness.

You might not know because I am so public and bold but I actually lead a fairly lonely life. Most of that is my choice.  I work alone and I am unmarried. Most of my good friends have moved away from me and so I rely on book clubs and other monthly events for socializing and real-world contact. The Summer is better because I meet friends for swims quite a bit. Anyway, my family doesn’t live by me either except for some cousins and my Grandma.  My parents are moving here which will be nice and my brother was going to school for Fall/Winter but for the most part I am alone.

Normally I am fine being alone but when I get sick it is tough. It is especially so when I am this sick. It was painful to breathe let alone cook, clean, drive or do anything else. So I was pretty miserable (as my twitter followers can attest to!).

Finally Tuesday morning I had slept about 2 hours in 3 days and I hit my low. I called my Mom and sobbed but it was the weird halting coughing sob where she couldn’t understand a thing I said.  I told her I wished I could fly her out to take care of me. For once in my life I needed help. I couldn’t do it alone any more. I was just kind of venting but I really was at a genuine low place.

However, I’m a pretty independent person so I think she knew it was pretty bad. To my shock a few hours later she texted me ‘I got a plane ticket. I will be there 7:30 tonight”. I couldn’t believe it! She was coming to rescue me. She wouldn’t normally be able to do such a thing (she still has a child at home and is in the middle of a move and is Relief Society President at church) but it just happened where it could work out.

I’ll never forget this thing she has done. I can promise you that. When I’m old and feeble and she’s long gone I will talk about the time my Mother flew across 4 states at a moments notice to rescue me.

My friend who does not have a relationship with her mother (a very toxic woman she’s better off not having in her life) made a very powerful comment:

“This post makes me happy. I’m glad you have a parent who will come help you. I’m so glad you don’t take that for granted. While I hate that you aren’t well, I am glad you got to feel the love of a parent in action.”

It really is true.  I am not someone who has a ton of love in my life. I do not have a great partner or spouse. I have never really been romantically in love. And I have no children to understand that love. I understand friendship and treasure those relationships but it feels good to know I’m a girl who is loved by her Mother. Loved enough to come and rescue me.

It made a big difference too.  I went and saw the doctors in the morning, which I wouldn’t have done because I went to urgent care on Sunday.  They did blood-work and an x-ray because they were concerned about the wheezing. He gave me a steroid that has helped a lot with the coughing and a new antibiotic. The difference between today and Tuesday is huge.

Sure the medical care is nice but I think the love helped too.

I’ll keep you guys posted on how my recovery is going. Hopefully I don’t have pnemonia or something like that.  I am also soooo thankful to my boss for being wonderful through all this. I am incredibly blessed woman.

I hope you all feel loved and when you are in need of rescue someone is there.  Sure love ya!

Sister Youtube Fun

Over on my youtube channel my sister Madeline and I filmed some videos together and we had so much fun!  We are 18 years different in ages so most of her life I’ve been the mini-Mom figure and not a real sibling.  It’s only been fairly recently we’ve been able to bond as more friends than child/guardian type relationships. I thought filming some videos would be great but it was a lot more enjoyable than I would have guessed.  We laughed and laughed.

Do any of you have big age gaps with your siblings?  How do you make it work?

I’d love if you gave any of these videos a watch, thumbs up or add your comments.  There’s a little bit of everything.

Here’s the Sisters Tag so you can learn about all things Rachel and Madeline

Here we review the Candy Club box.

What started it all off was we ranked all 8 of the Harry Potter movies.  It ended up being very long so I divided it into 2 videos.  It is probably more of a podcast style video but I really think you will enjoy it if you give it a watch.  I’d love to hear your rankings if you’ve seen the movies.

So it was a great time and I’m grateful to be able to share it with all of you.  Hopefully in the future I can do videos with my sister Anna and brother Sam (the other 2 siblings will never happen) . It’s a fun way to become friends through filming (you wouldn’t think so but I certainly found that to be the case with Madeline). So hurray for sister time!

Upstairs Rachel

Hi friends!

I just wanted to give you guys an update on my knee.  This week was huge! I saw improvement everyday and I was very good about staying off my knee as much as possible.  I even had a ticket to Wicked today but didn’t want to push it so I sold it to a friend. 

It’s weird I feel secluded from the rest of the world.  Like I’m in some kind of tunnel or bomb shelter.  I see my roommate and visitors and interact with others (including work) online.  It’s amazing how quickly you can cut yourself off from people.  It is also amazing how quickly the human brain gets used to a new routine, a new way of doing things.  Staying upstairs for days feels oddly normal.

So, what have been doing to keep myself busy upstairs?  Well, a lot of work which has been great.  I met some of my coworkers when they were here for the OR Show and told them some of my ideas for youtube and they loved it!!  They liked it so much they asked my boss if I could participate in a conference call on Wednesday and share them.  I made a power point presentation explaining my ideas and it went great!!!

We’ve been working on this spreadsheet project at work which is fine but I’m really excited to do something a little more creative so hopefully that will be starting after the presentation.

I’ve also been having fun diving into my old VHS collection because my friend Sharla is moving to Malaysia and she sold me her collection and her TV/VCR combo.  I watched Aladdin and Snow White on it.  So fun.

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I think I had built it in my brain there was a huge difference between VHS and DVD/Blu-ray and there is but not much.  I was surprised how long it took to rewind.  Seemed like forever.

As you’ve seen from the reblog I’ve also started a new blog I’m very excited about.  If you like what I’ve said on this blog about movies please follow me on http://57disneyreviews.wordpress.com/  as I watch all 57 Walt Disney animated films (there may actually be 62 depending on where I draw the line). 

I already have posts on Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia.  I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. The melding of mediums in animation is just amazing.  I love it.

I also couldn’t help but do some shopping upstairs ala QVC.  I know what you are thinking but I sincerely like what I bought.  So cute!

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these shoes are made out of neoprene (the wetsuit material) and they are great and so cute!

qvc Aside from that I’ve been heating up microwave food, still filming my videos, watching big brother, listening to podcasts, getting my manga read for my next Adventures in Reading, resting, and heading downstairs once a day.  It’s a very exciting life!

I was pretty frustrated last week but am feeling positive today so hopefully next week I’ll be close to as good as new!

It certainly does make me grateful for all those times my knee does work without pain.  It also fills me with even more admiration for my Mother who went through bedrest for 4 of her children.  I can’t even imagine how hard that would be for months and months.

It has been a tough time in many ways but also a chance to think and be reminded of how many wonderful people I have in my life.  How many people all around the country are praying for me and anxious for my recovery.  How many people have been by for a visit or to offer assistance.  It’s humbling to need service but a good experience too and I’m so grateful.

I was very sad to miss out on the Deer Creek swim on Saturday but I went out and finally tried the Bake 360 brunch menu.  So delish!  Thanks to Emilee for helping me do that. 

bake 360In the end I’m just grateful for this time as Upstairs Rachel but also ready for it to be over.  Please continue to send those prayers. 

Love you all!