Tag: family

Memories of My Grandma

grandma and triplet

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!

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!

 

On Bended Knee

Alas I have not been proposed too.

Mine is a knee problem of another sort.  Sadly today was supposed to be my last day at the family reunion but yesterday I slipped on a tub in my hotel room and twisted  my knee badly.  I was able to get out of the tub by rolling out and then hobbled to clothes.  However, when I tried to get onto the bed and lift my knee a bit my leg turned to jello and I toppled to the ground.

My poor Dad came to my rescue and had the Herculean task of lifting not so little me up onto a desk chair that they rolled down the hallway onto the elevator.

No wheelchair or bathroom mat I could see!  Badly done Hampton Inn.  The lady was very good to wait for me but I called and told them what had happened and she said ‘I will have someone come fill out an incident report’ and I said ‘could you get me a bag of ice first…(sigh. Litigious world we live in)

Nevertheless, I was in so much pain.  Worse than ever in my life.  Basically carrying me into the car and then drove me to the urgent care.  Luckily the urgent care took my insurance (even though Humana had no one at their call centers for emergencies!)

They were great at the urgent care and did 3 x-rays and gave me a shot, some meds.  According to the doctor it could take a while to heal.  I certainly can’t put any weight on it right now.  I’m honestly very surprised it isn’t an ACL or break because the pain is very strong (although the pain meds do help).

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I have been packing the knee with ice 24/7 and resting.  Thankful for my family for taking care of me and Sam for giving up his room.  In a way it is a good place to have something like this happen because at home I would have lots of stairs and nobody home most the day to help me.

I was supposed to fly home tomorrow but I can’t even have my knee dangling and if anyone touches it there is extreme pain.  There is no way I could wedge into a little airline seat right now.  Luckily I had gotten the trip insurance and Delta let me get a credit.

I hope Sunday I am able to continue to rest so I can work a little bit on Monday.  I’d hate to get too behind after missing 3 days of work this week for the reunion.

Please send a little prayer for me that the pain will be bearable and that it will heal quickly.  It’s certainly been one of the most painful experiences of my life.  I just wish it was all for something more exciting than a shower!

It’s a real shame because I had been having a pretty good time at the reunion.  This is actually not the first knee injury at a family reunion.  My Uncle Jim tore his ACL at a Thanksgiving reunion we had in Colorado.

I guess family is hard on the knees and not just from all the praying!

3 Sisters and 2 Brothers

crazy family

I look at this blog as a form of ministry.  As a chance to share my story with the world and hopefully help people going through their own struggles and appreciating our victories together.  As such, I have tried very hard to talk about my life and let other people tell their own stories however they see fit.  I very rarely speak of friends or family except in the most flattering way and even then it is unusual.

Today I want to depart slightly from that philosophy as my sister Anna is moving out of Utah tomorrow and then will end up in Japan for 1-2 years as a teacher.  She’s been here studying for 5 years and I will really miss her.

So let me tell you a little bit about my family.  My parents are still together after 36 years of marriage. They are kind of a ying-yang, balancing each other well. My Dad is energetic, passionate and full of ideas.  My Mom is calming, nurturing and peaceful.

They were young and excited to start a family and my brother and I were born quickly.  He is 35 and I’m 33.  Then my sister Megan came 3 years later but she was a month early and my Mom had complications.

But the dream of a big family never went away and 8 years later they announced my sister Anna was coming. This was a challenge because my Mom had full bedrest and my Dad was working a lot in Japan at the time.  We all worked together and a baby came.

My parents wanted to have more kids but then it took 5 years for another baby to come.  I was 15 when this happened and Sammy was born the beginning of my sophomore year in high school.  Once again my Mom had to go on bedrest and I internalized a lot of fear and worry about her situation.  Whether it was bedrest, recovery or caring for an infant, a new baby kind of monopolized my homelife in high school.

Then we moved to California and the winter before I went away to college my Mom announced she was pregnant again.  At the time I was young, selfish and very upset.  I was acutely aware of how hard this was going to be and I worried it would pull me away from  my dream of BYU.  In a way I was right because I felt really guilty at abandoning my Mother at such a hard time.

In August we came home and my Mom had the baby and I went back to school.  My sister Madeline and I have never lived together as siblings.  The longest time was probably after I returned from my mission in 2005 and lived with  my folks for about 3 weeks.

So that is the dynamic of my family.  It was unique to have 3 teenagers and 3 babies.  It taught me a lot.  It forced me to be selfless when I really didn’t want to be and it hopefully gave me some real-life experience if I ever have to be a parent (or co-parent).

I love all of my siblings and as the younger one’s get older I am less the step-Mom and more the sister which is nice.  Madeline and I have turned out to have the most in common as far as religion, energy and personalities.  Sammy has proven to be a great listener and have a calming spirit about him.  He is a great person to talk to when you have a problem because he is very empathetic and encouraging. As a little boy he would get so emotionally involved in your worries it was very touching and he still has that.

Anna and I have a lot of similar tastes in music, theater, movies etc, which has been fun.  I’ve enjoyed having her close by and will miss my event buddy.  Anna has a bright, cheerful countenance and I will miss that too. Sigh…

My sister Megan and I were the best of friends growing up.  She is a great mother and very nurturing and kind.  She also has been a great influence in reading and writing.  Growing up I was not a great reader and she always had her nose in a book.  She is currently trying to achieve her dream of writing a novel and has made strides with an agent.

My brother Ben and I are the most different.  I guess it is a classic oldest and next kid dynamic.  I thought left, he thought right.  That has been an interesting tool to have in my life.  To see that someone so fundamentally different can still make good choices and lead a good life has been helpful.

Life in any family can be both a joy and challenge. I know I still feel radically different than my siblings but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It forced me to be happy with my own life choices and to not lean on anyone else.  We could support each other, and love one another but that didn’t mean we needed to be the same.

One time when I was in high school I yelled out to my family ‘I’m the normal one.  You are the weird one’s and yet in my family I’m the weird one’.  That was a ridiculous thing to say but it was kind of true.  Megan, Ben and my Mom were more homebodies and happy with a few good friends.  I was an active social butterfly.

Neither way is right or wrong but I think I learned to lean a lot on my friends who seemed to process things the way I did.  Because of this, I have always been a very friend-reliant person to this day.  I guess that’s why loyalty and friendship is the most important topic to me.

So that’s my family.  They’ve all taught me something different and I’m glad they are all a part of my life.  What about all of you?  What have you learned from your siblings?  What is the age dynamic in your family and how has that affected you?

Sadly minus Meg and Ben but still a mighty fine family photo
Sadly minus Meg and Ben but still a mighty fine family photo

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Thanksgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from this smiling girl!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with lots of yummy food.  I’ve had quite the busy day.   It all started yesterday when I flew to my parents house in Cali.  We had a full house so I am at the local Hampton Inn which I love.  Very comfortable room and it makes visiting my family more of a vacation than a family visit, which is good!

Then I got a kiwi crate and did a cute craft with my nieces (all 5 are here.  So fun!).  The craft was turkey namecards and they turned out very adorable.

Isabel punched out the craft real quick
Isabel punched out the craft real quick
Olive was the crafting queen
Olive was the crafting queen
One of these was done by my niece. One by me...
One of these was done by my niece. One by me…
Thanksgiving Kiwi crate
Thanksgiving Kiwi crate

Then this morning we continued the Thanksgiving festivities with the Folsom turkey trot 5k.  This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve done turkey trot (last year I did one in Utah, year before in Folsom).

I’m not much of a walker and even less a runner but its fun to get some energy out before the big meal, challenge yourself and help give back to the community.  This year I mentioned it early and we ended up with 11 of us attending- Me, Dad, Seth, Megan, Sam, Anna, Madi, Olive, Lucy, Nelle,Isabel.  All of the kids did great and everyone finished.

The girls ran together the whole way.  So cute
The girls ran together the whole way. So cute
Lucy doing a great job on the run
Lucy doing a great job on the run
Nellie running and smiling
Nellie running and smiling
My niece Olive
My niece Olive
Starting the race
Starting the race
A finisher!
A finisher!

My feet are pretty blistered and body was sore but I’m doing pretty well on the pain recovery.  I was feeling strong enough to help out with the kids and I decided to take them to the pool at my hotel to get them out of the chefs hair.  It was a lot of fun but I’m definitely very tired!

swimmer
A little fuzzy but here they are heading out to the pool

Once we got home from the swimming we got busy making a huge meal.  I was pretty tired but I made the mashed potatoes which you could say is my specialty. The secret is heating up the cream/milk and butter together so they become one liquid and mixing that with the mashed potatoes.  Its so creamy!

I'll dream about these for many months...
I’ll dream about these for many months…

We ended up with 21 people at thanksgiving dinner and it was quite the endeavor for my Mom and sister.  Here are some photos

spread

Seating for 21
Seating for 21

So it was a very Happy Thanksgiving at the Wagner house and I hope it was the same for all of you.  God bless you and your family and let’s have a wonderful Christmas!  Love you all!