Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The paperback of "Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff" is now available!

Hello Dear Readers!

Just a quick note to say that my brand new book, "Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff" is now available via Amazon as a paperback. A couple of weeks ago I released the eBook, and now the "real deal" is just a mouse-click away. I'm still awaiting the arrival of my own personal shipment, which I'll be happy to sign and send once they arrive. However, if you're looking for a stocking stuffer for Christmas, consider ordering your copy online. 

I hope this post finds you happy and healthy. All is well in my neck of the woods.

Happy Reading!!!


#newbook  #sillystories  #sentimentalstuff  #writing  #editing  #publishing  #workinghard

Here's the link:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Is your life a wonderful life?

Okay, so probably about a month ago, I was talking with an old friend of mine. She had tickets this season to see a stage production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” After marveling for a minute (or five) at how lucky I felt she was, she confessed, “I’ve never seen the movie.”  

Stop right there. Never seen the movie? At our age? Technically, she’s two years older than me, so that made me all the more surprised. I reflected back to the first time I had actually seen it. It was a Saturday night in early December of 1987. Tony had just turned two that week. I remember sitting on the living room floor, wrapping Christmas gifts, and crying at the end when the whole movie came together.   

Back to present day, I noticed that the movie was scheduled on NBC for 7 p.m. last Saturday night. When I saw the listing I shot my friend a text message and told her she could watch it, if she had the time. As long as Todd and I were home, I suggested we should watch it again too. For me, the movie’s message never gets old. 

The story’s main character, George Bailey (played by James Stewart) says, “I suppose it’d  been better if I’d never been born.” It allows the viewer to look back and see how his life pieced together – decision by decision – and how each one shaped, not only George’s own life, but so many other people around him as well. If George had never been born, so many of life’s circumstances would never have happened, or would have happened completely differently – most for the worst, in this case.  

My annual viewing made me stop and think about my own life and the lives of those I love. How have the decisions that I’ve made, or not made, impacted the people around me? Yes, there are the obvious things that stand out – marriage, children, etc. But within all of that, in the nitty gritty of life, what differences were made by my simply “existing?” The truth is that I/we might never know the difference we make in another person’s life. 

Take my children for example… One of my daughter’s favorite songs – it’s more of her ‘theme song’ really – is Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Even as a little girl, Megan would dig her heels in and have hefty opinions. At times, as her mother, that trait drove me crazy. But as a young teen and young adult, her opinions were extremely valid and admirable. In matters that really counted, she didn’t back down, and that fact made me very proud. She’s still that way when she sees something askew or wrong. Because she spoke out for herself and for others, did she ever change someone’s heart or mind? If she hadn’t been there at a particular time, would someone have chosen differently? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not… I hope that whatever she did/said mattered. 

And Tony – born without his left forearm and hand, taught himself the guitar, and regularly exercised his lovable sense of humor. How has his life changed others? I told him in a recent phone conversation how adaptable he is in life's many circumstances. It doesn’t matter who he’s with or who he’s supposed to play for – he smiles and adapts. How many school age children have benefited by his and Lesleigh’s music clinics and concerts? Because they so often work together, how has their marriage reflected out into the world? How many teenagers who face difficulties have met Tony and thought If he can do that with one hand, maybe I could do it too… I don’t really know. Maybe many, or maybe just one or two - but certainly someone. Of that I’m very sure.

And me – if I’d never met and married Todd, if we’d never given birth to our next generation, if we’d never gone through all of our parenting sorrows and joys, if I’d never written “Five Fingers…”  Well, who even knows? Something interesting happened a while ago. I was at a high school, speaking with a Family Living class about our story. Afterwards, a young male student came up to me, shook my hand, and asked me a few questions. Later, the teacher came over to me and said, “He hasn’t said anything all semester. Today he spoke with you…” Honestly, I’ll probably never see that young man again. It was a brief moment in time. Did I make a difference that day? I don’t know. Maybe… I hope so. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you look at your life and see all of the people you’ve been in contact with and possibly influenced for the good – take a moment to appreciate your life, your gifts and talents, your personality. Thank God you were born, and that you have/had every opportunity – the good as well as the ones we perceive as negative. None of us ever knows who’s watching or what they’re thinking. None of us ever knows the difference we might be making, just by being exactly who we are.  

At 9:58 last Saturday night, my friend texted me back. “That was a really good movie!” she said.  

I’d have to agree with her on that. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a wonderful movie about a wonderful life. 

Now go out and have a wonderful day…!

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference.” For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thanksgiving AND a Birthday - what a week!

Wow, what a week… In a good way!  

A while back, Tony called and asked if we’d like to come down to Nashville for Thanksgiving. He also said that Megan, Joe and Jakey would be joining the fun. We accepted, of course! Yes, our family did have the opportunity to be in the same room together for a few hours last summer, but we hadn’t spent any real quantity or quality of time together for a couple of years. Needless to say, I was thrilled!  

Sooo… exactly one week ago right now (Wednesday, 10 a.m. CST), Todd and I were heading south on I-94, almost entering Chicago. Other than two stops for gas and for nourishment, we made it to Nashville in about 9 ½ hours. Add on that we had to stop at the mall because Todd wanted to buy cinnamon rolls from Cinnabon (ye ole’ fam tradish. The next morning's parade would not be complete without the scent and flavor of cinnamon). Basically, we arrived at Tony and Lesleigh’s in time to spend the evening with our kids.  

Thanksgiving may just be my favorite holiday. I love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I love getting together with loved ones, I enjoy the food and football. Overall, I love the relaxed feel to the day. And if you recall, from my last blog post (here’s the link in case you missed it: http://katiekolbergmemmel.blogspot.com/2015/11/a-thanksgiving-challenge.html ), I had been focusing on the things I was most thankful for this year, and had made a list of ten items every day for ten days. I felt that doing this greatly improved my overall attitude.

The weather on Thursday was incredible. You must understand that when we left Wisconsin, there was still some snow on the ground from the prior weekend’s snowfall. So…when we got to Nashville and it was close to 70 degrees and sunny, it felt amazing to us. We went for a walk, and took turns sitting out on the kids’ balcony, enjoying their views. We all played with, sang to, and snuggled Jakey. It was such a joy to spend Thanksgiving Day with our new little grandchild. If you recall, it was last year on that day that we enjoyed a Skype session with Megan and Joe, and they told us she was expecting. They gave us a sleeper with a turkey on it – well, this year, the turkey was actually being worn. Adorable! (Here’s the link if you’d like to read about their announcement: http://katiekolbergmemmel.blogspot.com/2015/01/megan-joe-and-their-big-announcement.html ). 

Lesleigh prepared (all by herself – no help) the entire feast for the day. Turkey, mashed potatoes, apple stuffing, homemade macaroni & cheese, rolls, green beans with nuts and goat cheese, two pumpkin desserts… mmmmm…. Yes please! I’m getting hungry all over again just thinking about it.

As many of you know, we are all big Green Bay Packers fans, and since they were playing at 7:30 that night, we were all gearing up and getting excited. While we waited for the game to begin, we played a game as a family – trying to describe movie titles to our team mates, in record time. We split our teams into Women vs. Men. Ummm… the gals won (wink). Unfortunately, the Packers did not… so we all went to bed and got ready for the next day. 

Since it was Black Friday, we decided to go out for lunch, but leave a little early, just in case hungry shoppers mobbed the restaurant. We ate at a new Mexican restaurant, everyone trying their fav flavs of tacos, beans, rice, etc. When we got back we all went for a walk to the farmer’s market near Tony & Lesleigh’s place, and did a bit of browsing, as well as ate some ice-cream. Tony thought it might be fun to do some Christmas decorating as a family. It had been many years since we’d all done that together. He put on some Christmas music (John Denver & the Muppets) and we strung lights, unwrapped ornaments, and did some reminiscing. I must admit, tears filled my eyes with the music and the memories – both the old and the newly-created. To end the day, we ordered pizza and sat around talking.


Megan, Joe and Jake left very early (like middle-of-the-night early) to drive back to Connecticut. I guess the baby made an excellent traveler as he rode thru both long treks of their journey. They did arrive home safely late in the day on Saturday. Since Lesleigh had to work, Tony, Todd and I went downtown and enjoyed some shopping and music at some of Nashville’s establishments. It was raining, but we had umbrellas, so…  

And on Saturday night, the four of us ate Chinese, and sat around talking about the kids’ brand new album. They are SO EXCITED to share this brand new music with you all. Some of the songs will be familiar, and some have never-before been heard. The name of the album is "We’ll Be on the Radio" and has been a dream of theirs to record for quite some time. Keep your eyes (and especially your ears) peeled for the new release, coming soon.  

Sunday morning it was time for Todd and me to hit the road and head home. We took a less-traveled route, and although the mileage is longer, the traffic is nowhere near as terrific. I’d vote for that route again. 

And so here I am, a whole week later, unable to believe how fast time moves. Not to mention that today is December 2, and tomorrow is Tony’s 30th Birthday. Yes, I know, I can’t believe it either. H*ck, I don’t even know where the past week went, much less the past 30 years!


But seriously, I want to end this post on a more serious note… You know, I was so unsure of how life would play out all those 30 years ago. Sometimes these birthday anniversaries are a little hard because of the emotions I faced after Tony’s birth. I’m not really proud of that, but it is true. So what an absolute JOY it is for me to honestly say how proud I am of all that he’s accomplished and become. He has shown me every step of the way that my early judgments were unnecessary and quite wrong. I am so grateful to have had this guy in my life for the past 30 years. 

Happy Birthday, Tony! Here’s to another 30 (Sure, I’ll be 84 then, but if you’re still nice, maybe I’ll mention you in my blog then too). 


Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference.” For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com  #WBOTR #LuckyFinsRock #FiveFingersTenToes #HappyBirthday

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My New eBook is now available!

The cover of my new book
"Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff"

I just wanted to touch base with an update regarding the "Thanksgiving Challenge" I mentioned in my last Blog post. I've stayed true to writing down ten things per day that I'm thankful for, and I think I'm going to continue this exercise past Thanksgiving day. It's quite beneficial, in my opinion.

And the other thing I wanted to announce is that I have released my new book, "Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff." Right now it's an eBook, but a paperback is in the works. It's a compilation of some of my favorite writing pieces - both the lighthearted as well as the heart-felt. Early reviews are telling me that my stories are "relatable," and "fun," and one nice woman told me the writing is "clever," which I loved hearing! :) 

Here is the link to Amazon:


I hope that all who are celebrating Thanksgiving have a wonderful weekend. I can't wait to see how mine plays out, and share some of the details with you. Until then...

Happy Reading (and eating) (and shopping?) (and conversating with fam & pals) (and...) Well, you get the picture!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Thanksgiving Challenge...

Hello, and a Happy Thanksgiving week to all! 

I’m writing today with a challenge for all of you – all of us. Yes, I definitely felt challenged when I heard about this challenge and decided to challenge myself to fulfill this particular challenge. (Silly, I know… ANYway… 

By now, I’m sure you’re dying to hear what in the world I’m talking about, so here we go…   

I’ve attended my Tuesday morning Bible Study for about 25 years now. Every Tuesday, with no break in the summer, about a dozen women (give or take) in my church’s congregation get together to share our joys and sorrows, pray for each other and many others, and study something Biblical that has the potential to change our minds, hearts and (hopefully) our lives.  

I started attending when Megan was only one year old, and to be honest, my initial attraction to it was that it was during the day and offered child care. But, since Megan just celebrated her 27th birthday, and I’m still going, you can see that the group grew to be very important to me. In fact I now grieve the times when I can’t attend.  

We’ve always tried to approach the week of Thanksgiving with thankful hearts. Even when one of us has gone through something terrible, we still always try to approach God with a thankful heart for some greater good. I’ve found that approach to be a super way to live life. Do I ever fail? Yes, I do. Sometimes I/we, in our human-ness, don’t feel grateful for much of anything, am I right?  

So two days ago, (on Tuesday the 17th) the woman who has lead our group all of this time challenged each of us. She said, “I’m asking each of you to think of ten things that you’re thankful for, every day, between now and Thanksgiving. If you can, I want you to write them all down. By the end of this period, you won’t believe how differently you’ll feel. ” 

Hmmm… I’ll be honest, my initial reaction was, WHAT? TEN? That seems like an awful lot! I’ve heard that “Oprah” only suggests writing FIVE! But when I got my bearings, I realized that ten is really nothing at all, not even a drop in the bucket of things in my life for which I’m grateful. I got out my notepad and got busy. 

My List so far - Day 3 is on the back - and that's Millie, the cat...

Today was my third day already. I make a list on a sheet of paper – nothing fancy – and write the numbers one through ten, in list form. I decided to start my challenge with each member of my family, and think of ten things that I love about them, and for which I’m thankful. I decided (just in case you were wondering if I forgot) to thank God Himself next Thursday. On that day, I may even seem repetitive, because I’ll be thanking Him for each of the things I’ve already mentioned. After all, He’s provided me with the means to obtain and nurture all that I have, right? At least that’s how I view it.  

I also realized that by Thanksgiving Day, I won’t likely be anywhere near done, and I’ll need to continue doing this exercise every day – maybe even forever. Probably not a bad way to greet each day.  

For me, I think – I believe – it’s going to make a good difference. When I live my life with a grateful attitude, there’s nowhere near as much room for the doubts and worries to creep in. Will they ever creep? Yes, unfortunately, they will… but I think that on those days, I’ll whip out my list, and start reviewing all of the ways in which all of my doubts and worries have (thankfully) gone to waste in the past, and focus on the good again.

Are you with me? Will you take my study leader’s challenge? Let me know if we’re in this together, okay?  

OH! And if we don’t connect before next week, have a Happy and very Blessed Thanksgiving!
Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of "Five Fingers, Ten Toes - A Mother's Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference." For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Decisions, Decisions... (and ACTION!)

Welcome back to “Katie’s View.” I am your host, Katie – and this is where you read about my view – thus my blog’s title, “Katie’s View.”
How’s everybody doing today? I’m good. Here, in Waukesha, Wis, we’re smack dab in the middle of fall. The leaves seem to be changing right here, outside my office window. What a glorious 60-degree day. I’m anxious to get outside and listen to the leaves crunch beneath my Nike’s. BUT before I make that “D-E-C-I-S-I-O-N” … (a hint to what this blog post will be about) … I want to write down a few of my thoughts for the day.
Here’s my dilemma for the day. Let’s say I have a room to clean. I should be clear – when I say “clean” I really mean “shovel.” I’m not talking about anything as mundane as a little dusting or vacuuming here. No, I’m talking about a place where things have been set or tossed or stored when there’s no other clear space to set or toss or store them. Sometimes I walk into that room (or basement, as the case may be), turn on the light, and just stand there, looking around. I feel immobile. I just look around and wonder where in the world should I even begin??? Has that ever happened to you?
Often, it’s a lot easier to snap the light back off and shut the door, or go back up the stairs - anything but to address what has to happen in that room right in front of me. It’s a decision that needs to be made. Will I shut the door and live with the knowledge of what lurks behind it, dreading that someone (God forbid a guest) may enter? Or should I clean (at least straighten) it up so it looks half-way presentable?
Not only is my decision to do the needed work, but I know there will be decisions to be made all the way through the project. Not everything is mine, not everything belongs to me, not everything is my decision to make. I need to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of possibly waiting for the other person to help me – and that could be a while down the road.
I think I’ve come up with a solution for these types of dilemmas. I think it’s time to at least do what I can do. Since I don’t have any control over other people, their schedules, or their decisions about where things get placed, then all I can do is my own part. Maybe if I just get STARTED, it won’t seem as bad as it looks from the doorway. Maybe if I even just put a dent in the stuff, it will make me feel better, and the stuff might look better…?
I’ll confess – my laundry area was looking a fright. Two things happened that jarred me into action. #1) When Lesleigh was in town last, she asked to do a load of laundry. (GULP!) There’s that houseguest thing I was talking about. How dare they be gone from home for two weeks and need to do laundry??? (Rolls eyes even thinking about all of this) and #2) Baby Jake is coming to town soon, and we all know that babies have the tendency to generate a fair amount of laundry.
So, for me, I felt the pressure was on that I get down there and clean off the dryer of spare dimes, lint and receipts – not to mention other treasures that show up in laundry rooms. It was funny because even though I wasn’t sure of what to do with everything I encountered, I was able to organize things for the future so that perhaps an easier decision can be made. I will say, however, that the decisions weren’t as hard as I thought they might be. I threw out quite a few of those “treasures” I mentioned earlier.
And now, here I am, having a spare minute to blog. I feel good about it too, after my morning of shoveling - like I earned the time to sit down and write.
Next on my agenda? The hardest project of all for me… I’m two weeks into changing my life. Yeah, I know, no small feat! But sometimes I think I’ve approached my health all wrong. Whenever I’ve wanted to attack weight loss in the past, I’ve taken it on as some sort of huge challenge. I’d get completely obsessed with the whole thing, trying to achieve perfection; and the first time something went wrong, or I saw a + instead of a – on the scale, I’d freak out, throw up my hands, and ask “What’s the use?” For that Katie, I’d like to say that the “use” was how good you felt, how your clothes fit better, and how you seemed to smile more.
If I look at this with a different focus, if I take my very own advice from a few paragraphs ago, if I make a good DECISION about this, then shouldn’t I simply say, “I think it’s time to at least do what I can do. Maybe if I just get STARTED, it won’t seem as bad as it looks from the doorway. Maybe if I even just put a dent in the stuff, it will make me feel better, and the stuff might look better…?” (and of course the “stuff” I’m referring to in this case would be ME!)
If it’s all for a better “life,” and I’m hoping my life might still be quite long, then why should one silly weigh-in cause a reaction of “What’s the use?” Isn’t the “use” a better me – long-term?
Well, that’s my sincere hope and prayer. Wish me well!

QUESTION: As a favor to me, can you share with me something that works for YOU while maintaining your healthy lifestyle – whether it’s about food preparation, or eating, or exercising, or anything at all…? Maybe the best advice will come from those who work at this every single day and don’t throw up their hands, but just simply keep going. You can share it publicly here, on my blog, or may comment on FB, or e-mail me privately at kkmemmel@gmail.com. Can’t wait to hear from you guys!


Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference.” Watch for her new release coming soon: “Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff.” To learn more about her, go to her website: www.katiekolbergmemmel.com   

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Freezer... Fun (?)

Well hello! I cannot even believe how long it’s been since I wrote a blog post. Apparently, September got away from me. I’ve been spending most of my time working on my two upcoming, exciting writing projects, so it makes sense that my focus was elsewhere, but still…
I admit that I’m always brainstorming for new bloggy ideas, but for weeks now, nothing ever stuck… until this morning. This morning I had one of my everyday occurrences occur, (?) and it made me stop and wonder. Allow me to explain, and let me know if this has ever happened in your world.
The good news is that ever since Todd and I became empty-nesters, the amount of cooking I need to do has been cut in half. A pot of chili or spaghetti can stretch for at least two meals, and I’ve really enjoyed using up all of my leftovers. Figure in a pizza and maybe a meal or two out in a restaurant, and a week flies by in no time. So if that’s all true (and here comes the dilemma) if I’m using up all of my leftovers every week, and I’m able to shop and cook less food, then what in the world is taking up all of my freezer space? This morning I realized that nothing fits in there anymore. On the contrary, whenever I open the door, something always slides out and crashes to the floor or (worst-case scenario) onto my bare toe – pork chops, ice-cubes, ice-cream cartons, etc. What is causing all the over-crowding?
Cleaning out the refrigerator/freezer/pantry/etc. is never my favorite job, but I figured, Hey! Somebody’s gotta do it. It was time to put on my hazmat suit… and go in. My first find was two very old sherbet containers, both holding some form of ancient frozen meat. Beef? Pork? Chicken? I wasn’t completely sure, but by its color, I’ll call it beef. I wasn’t about to taste it to find out. How long had it been since I’d made crock-pot beef? I will not, at this time, make a guess. Do not fear, however. It’s gone.
The ice-cream cartons that had been sliding out of the freezer and falling to the floor were not even half full. Everybody, me included, loves a beautiful fresh dish of ice-cream – usually with fresh strawberries or chocolate/caramel topping. Mmmm. But shortly after that first serving, it becomes less and less appealing, doesn’t it? Apparently, it’s easier for us to just buy more ice-cream than use up what we started, or even get rid of what we started. Finally, on a day like today, several mostly-used cartons get shoved down into the kitchen sink’s dispose-all, as yellowing rubbery substance, unlike any form of the original creamy goodness it was ever meant to be.
Also shoved into the freezer were half-used baggies of ice. Why, you may ask, do you have half-used baggies of ice in your freezer? Well, the ice is from our occasional swollen knee or ankle injuries. Neither of us is big into sports or anything, but I guess we save the used ice because we don’t want to waste an ice-cube…? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s why… (Rolling my eyes at myself)
One of my most disturbing finds (I’m ashamed to say) was a completely unopened box of macaroni and cheese. Since it was completely unopened, I was able to completely read the expiration date, and I completely decided it needed to go. A terrible waste – I KNOW! It was a mistake I do not plan to make again.
My reconnaissance efforts had proven effective. I finally knew why my freezer was so full. I wasn’t proud of myself, but admitting you have a problem is the first step to change, right? Since today is Thursday and Friday is our neighborhood’s garbage day, it was time for me to do the dirty work, and make the tough decisions. I got out the garbage bags and got busy.
What I’ve learned: If you’re hungry and searching for a snack in May, and you look at the ice-cream and it’s the consistency of paste, it will not, NOT look any better in October. In a case such as this, you may as well dump it in May. Better yet – eat what you buy!!!
Anyway, the project is done and it actually feels really good to know that a part of my life (a very small and frozen part, but a part nonetheless) is clean. It feels good – hopeful maybe – to have an area of my house in complete order.
Up next? The pantry - whether it needs it or not. After all, everything’s better when it sits on a Ritz – unless the cracker box expired in 2011 – then, not so much… (wink)
As always, thanks for reading. Until we blog again… 

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference.” For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com or visit her on Facebook and Twitter.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Whooo Are You (who who, who who?)

Well, well, well… how in the world are you all doing today? I’m good! The weather is FABulous, plus I just got in from cutting the lawn, which now looks magNIFicent. (Wink)  

I wanted to share with all of you what a great couple of days I’ve been having. First, I want to tell you about two brand new up-and-coming writing projects I’ve been working on. The first one is hopefully (fingers crossed) coming out later this fall. I’ve been taking my Creative Writing class/going to writing critique groups since the fall of 2009. In that time I wrote my book, “Five Fingers, Ten Toes…” and continue to ‘get word out’ about that; but I’ve also written many other things as well. I’ve been putting my finishing touches on many of those yet-to-be-seen pieces, and expect to release a fun compilation of my work. Much of it will be humorous, mixed in with a few more serious pieces; but it will all be  very ‘Katie’s View’ – through and through. // The other project I’ve been working on is very important to me. I seriously can’t wait for you all to read it. I’ve been conducting one-on-one interviews, and although I’m keeping it somewhat under wraps for now, my goal is to have the work done in 2016. Wow, what a feeling – having so many exciting irons in the fire, and feeling like I’m doing exactly what I should…  (That box in the picture is stuffed full, by the way)
…which brings me to what I’ve been doing the past couple of days…
Throughout the summer I’ve been meeting with a group of women who all share my love for writing. I didn’t sign up for my normal class because our first grandchild was due in July. I didn’t know exactly when, or for how long, Todd and I would need to go out and stay in Connecticut. So almost every week a group of us would hang out and haunt the workers at the Hartland Public Library. Just by being ourselves, we caught the attention of one of the librarians, and she asked if our group might like to be part of a Writer’s Panel. We’d present a short program; talk about our writing styles, inspirations and motivations – whatever we wanted – and the library would advertise to the community and get word out. We all helped with that as well.
Andrea, Denise, Rosemary, Me, Cat, Christine (Brenda is not pictured)
As a group, we’re all at different places in our writing lives. We have a poet or two, we have fiction writers, non-fiction and memoir. Some of us are published while some are working toward that goal, while others have won contests, but aren’t sure of their next formal move. We figured it might be a lot of fun to brainstorm and see what type of program we could present. We accepted her invitation, viewed it as an opportunity, and got busy.
As the date (Wednesday, August 26) drew closer, we practiced in front of each other, using a podium, and timed the presentation so it didn’t get too long. Now, as some of you know, I’ve been doing a fair amount of public speaking, and am pretty confident in my speech. I talk about our story, giving birth to Tony, having no knowledge of our situation, the Lucky Fin Project, bracelets, etc. But as the women critiqued me on our practice day, they told me something I had never heard before. ‘It’s really good, Katie, we love the information, but for THIS we want you to talk about YOU…’
Me… me…? They want to hear more about ME? You need to understand that’s not something I hear very often. I’m generally the listener. Can I talk? Oh, ya, I love to talk! But most often, in public, I tend to ask questions and then listen. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy blogging so much – it’s like I can talk talk talk and people either read or they don’t; but my voice is heard through my written word. So hearing them say to me that I should revamp my talk, and tell the listeners about WHY I wrote the book, HOW I write, what motivates ME, and what’s MY style – well – it felt foreign to me. I had to go home and think about that. For the program, I’d only have eight minutes in which to speak, plus do a short reading. What in the world should I say about me???
All I can say is Thank Goodness for Microsoft Word. I brainstormed with myself; (Is that possible?) and ordered the computer to remove large chunks of my usual spiel, replacing the material with some that was a bit more personal. I still talked about Tony (a little) and his birth (some); but also about my own writing process, how it feels, what’s next for me, things like that. As always, people came up to me afterward and shared with me their own special stories - let me know where their own thoughts took them as I spoke. Maybe for the first time, they knew a little bit more about me, the author, than ever before. I’m not sure… One thing I do know is that our whole group enjoyed giving the presentation, and would love to do more of this!
I guess it’s an interesting twist to this new profession that I find myself in. My story is my story is my story, BUT each listening group has their own agenda. Sometimes I talk in a classroom, so I highlight things that students need to know; sometimes at a church, where I highlight certain faith-filled aspects of our journey; I’ve attended book groups, where they dissect the story and delve through study questions; and now to a group of readers/writers who want to know more about the author. (Smile) Well, how about that…?
A few days ago I spoke at one of my favorite stores, Faith & Giggles in Hartford, Wis. The owners, Jason and Wendy, are super people – so supportive of community and so giving. I called Todd as I drove out there, and as we hung up he said, “Have fun – or whatever you call it when you’re going to work…” I got to thinking about that comment, and I must tell you… This writer’s life I’m living, it really is fun for me. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out what’s next, or to find the motivation to put my fingers to the keys. But I feel very blessed to be able to share stories of my family, of my experiences (both the good and the hard); and yes, now being asked to share more and more of myself as well.
Thank you, ladies, for giving me the confidence to move in that direction.
Until next time… 

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference.” For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com 

Friday, August 21, 2015

"That'll be Forty dollars, please..."

Is it just me, or do other people have trouble escaping from grocery stores before they spend Forty dollars? I don’t know what it is about that number, “Forty dollars,” but it seems to be the result of my own poor planning and my own over-shopping. Whenever I enter a store, “Forty dollars” seems to be the magic amount I spend. Has something like this ever happened to you??? 

I attended my writing class this week, and instead of worrying about that night’s dinner, I already had a plan. I felt organized, downright good about having all the ingredients at home. Then, suddenly, I remembered that we didn’t have much bread in the house. I wanted Todd to be able to make toast for breakfast the next day, so I knew I’d have to stop somewhere. At first I thought I’d just swing in to a gas station mart, grab the bread and go; but on second thought, maybe not… I thought of something else I needed. 

Milk! I only had an inch left in the bottom of the gallon. If I wanted to spend the next morning writing, and not have to run to the store, I’d better grab the milk while I was out. I still figured I’d stop at the gas station, but then reconsidered when I thought about how much Todd’s been enjoying half-gallons of chocolate milk. Maybe instead of a whole gallon of white, I’d split my order into a half-gallon of each. 

So, I’d get bread, a half-gallon of white, and a half-gallon of chocolate, I’d be in and out in no ti.… 

Wait! We were having chicken tacos for dinner. Wouldn’t some frozen lemonade be delicious with those? I didn’t think they sold that at the gas station so for sure I’d need to stop at the actual grocery store. I wasn’t super thrilled with that idea though because I was wearing my black flip flops on my feet, and since they’re not all that comfortable, I hadn’t pre- planned to plod around the grocery store. The gas station was one thing, but now the whole ‘stop for a quick item’ plan was completely blown. As long as I was going to the grocery store, then…

Well, then I may as well pick up the food I’d need for the next night’s dinner too, as long as I’d be heading all the way to the back of the store for the milk! As I stood there choosing my two cartons of dairy, I glanced over and saw that the store DID stock the iced tea we love. I couldn’t find it in the aisle by the soda the other day, because I now saw that it’s refrigerated – and on SALE, nonetheless! Two for four dollars – SOLD! Then the thought process began. Hmmm… maybe I’ll make some burgers this week. That sounds delish. Ooooo, but wait, if I got the burgers, I’d need the buns, and I didn’t think that buns from the bakery would stay fresh for a day and a half. I carefully selected some pretzel rolls, which I’ve recently heard are fabulous with burgers, and they don’t get quite as stale as the regular hard rolls. Super! But maybe I’ll just get one extra roll, just in case I want something for lunch tomorrow, since I’m not planning to leave the house – so that I can write all day, remember? (Yeah, right…)  

I chose a loaf of bread, which was the item that started this whole fiasco to begin with, and proceeded through the produce section. Oh man… fruit! All we have is a splash of orange juice, and a scant handful of grapes in the refrigerator. There’s nowhere near enough to get us through the whole next day AND the following morning. I saw that green grapes were on sale and “looking fine,” so I grabbed a few bunches. I also chose a few nectarines that were too hard to eat right away, but would probably be perfect in about two days. (See? I was planning ahead because I’m Just. That. Organized!)  

I reached the cashier, only to realize that I didn’t actually buy the ground beef for the next night’s burger feast. I sighed, turned around, and flip flopped back up the aisle toward the meat. Dang, as long as I had to come all the way to the back of the store again, I might as well buy some shredded cheese and a small tub of sour cream for our taco dinner – just in case the quantities at home were lower than anticipated. I threw both into my cart.  

Then I remembered the cat. Shoot! The cat food is low, and believe me when I say that for our two felines, you do not ever (repeat EVER) want to run out of food. I was suddenly very glad to be at the grocery store, and not at the gas station. The small cart I’d chosen at the beginning of my short excursion, was brimming with items.  

Okay, so long story long, I may have exaggerated when I said I spent “Forty dollars.” It was really only $39.75, but I think you can see just how close I came to the predicted, dreaded amount. 

As I left the parking lot, I felt good – totally prepared for the next few days – totally prepared to stay home and wri… 

And then it hit me… Aww man, are you kidding me?!? I forgot the Ketchup! How in the world can you prepare a burger feast without Ketchup!?! So when I got home, I put Ketchup on my list, along with several other items I’d just forgotten at the store. I figured that tomorrow I could just swing in to the gas station mart and pick up a quick…   

But then again, maybe not.




Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference.” For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Grampa and Gramma took a drive...

Grampa and Gramma took a drive – a long drive – and boy, was it worth it!

Hi all! It’s been a while again since I wrote, and there are reasons for that. First of all, the last post I made was right after our new grandson, Jake, was born. Before saying any more about him, I needed to see for myself all of the miracles and wonders that were Jake. I can now honestly say that I have seen, I have held, I have laughed and cried, I have enjoyed each and every minute of my time with him; and I’m fully ready to tell you a thing or two about him and our trip – if you’re interested.
Todd and I left home early on Saturday morning, August 1. We had to forego the Helping Hands Midwest picnic this year in Ohio because we had a very special baby to meet. South of Chicago, we got on I-80 and it took us all the way east to Pennsylvania, where we exited 80, and began our trek into some of (what I believe) our country’s most beautiful scenery. The quaint towns in valleys, the green trees and hills, the views – it’s all just lovely. Fifteen hours later, after having made a few stops (I think there were five brief ones) we pulled into our daughter and son-in-law’s driveway. Not too bad for a coupla fifty-somethin’s, considering we endured quite a few orange barrels along the way. Allow me to just say that there was one crazy piece of roadwork that made me feel like we were on Disney’s very own “Space Mountain.” The other feeling I got from that same experience was similar to how it might feel to travel down a luge – in the dark. Eek! Glad Todd was driving! (not kidding… he’s a very good driver!)
It was so good to see Megan and Joe. They’d been through so much of life since we’d seen them back in early May (the baby shower weekend). Joe seems to really enjoy his new role of ‘dad.’ She’s doing just great – two weeks post-surgery. She was up and about and feeling pretty darn good. She’d already gotten news that she could drive and everything.

Then she presented me with Baby Jacob. Oh my… He was sleeping, so I couldn’t immediately see his eyes, but I’ll tell you what I told her. Jacob is one of the three most beautiful babies I’ve ever seen (Tony and Megan are the other two). Now I’m not putting the three into any exact order at this time – I’m just saying that new baby is mighty fine! I passed him on to Todd and he enjoyed the experience too. I’ll speak for both of us when I say that there were so many times we all just sat and stared at Jake – not like awkward silence or anything – but I’d say more of like an “awe”some silence, you know? I once heard it said that the “smallest thing in a room will gather the most attention.” The author offered up examples like a puppy or kitten, and of course a baby. I’d have to say that I completely agree. That seven-pound boy certainly had all of our attention last week… and he didn’t even have to try.
The next day, first thing in the morning, Megan offered suggestions of what we all might do together that day. I was so surprised! I truly thought that she’d just want a break – a breather. Maybe some extra sleep, or just some new hands to care for baby… but no – they were rarin’ to do whatever. So we piled into their car – Jake in his new carseat (stroller combo) and we went to the “Elephant’s Trunk” event, taking place less than a mile from their home. We all walked around, commenting and joking, about the (some) precious, (some) antiquey, (some) junky merchandise offerings. Jake just three-wheeled around (some strollers now have 3 wheels for better maneuvering) and slept. We all had a great time.
We spent quite a bit of our week on the kids’ back deck in the shade. I loved being able to give the baby his bottles and burp him, getting all kinds of time to stare into his gorgeous deep blue(?) grey(?) eyes. I loved his tiny feet and holding his teeny tiny hand. He made me laugh so much! His little facial expressions were so cute! And that silly desperate breathing thing babies do when they want the bottle returned to their lips – The “enough with the digestion – let’s get this show on the road” sort of thing. It was a complete joy.
The baby is gaining weight and growing like a weed. I swear one night while we were there, he actually grew. The little bed he’d spent time in during the day, suddenly seemed smaller. Crazy!
Todd helped the kids out by doing a few projects for them, while Joe went back to work. That’s his way – he likes to do things like that. I did some dishes and some laundry, maybe a little sweeping – but mostly wanted to be on hand for whatever Megan needed. While Joe was at work, we also took a nice drive out to Litchfield and had some ice-cream, we went on a picnic at a lake (Candlewood) near their home, and had dinner one night in a restaurant. We offered that if the kids wanted to go out, we could watch the baby for a couple of hours; but they weren’t ready for that yet. Sooo… we grilled a steak dinner instead.
One really neat thing was that while we were at Megan & Joe’s, Tony and Lesleigh were also in Connecticut, playing some gigs and staying with “Helping Hands/Lucky Fin Project” friends. A surprise party for our daughter-in-law’s 30th birthday was on the agenda at the family’s house for Friday night. It was up to Megan whether or not we attended because of Jacob and his needs/schedule. But she and Joe seemed excited that Jake would get to go to his first party. So Joe drove the distance to the event, and Jake was a total trooper! Lesleigh was very surprised – I don’t think she suspected a thing. What fun! What a thrill it was to witness "Uncle Tony" and "Aunt Lesleigh" meet Jake for the first time. They seemed quite taken with him. I also got to meet some new friends from Helping Hands, and some others who’ve been so supportive of the kids. The truth is that the six of us (our family) had not all been in the same room with each other since April of 2013. I feel very blessed that our number is now seven, and that we all got together again! (tears) We took some awesome pictures too… 
Karen, Stacey, Barb, Me, Nicole, Alex, Nick, Tony, Myla
Saturday morning, our departure day, came waaaaay too fast. But… that’s the nature of this long-distance beast that we’re dealing with. I took a moment with Jacob – kissed his sweet lil soft head and told him, “Gramma loves you, Jakey…” I won’t lie – it was hard and I had a few tears. Skype is wonderful technology and all, but I know it will pale in comparison to the real Jacob deal. Plans will soon be in the works as to how we all might see each other again. It helps to know that today (Monday) Tony and Lesleigh are heading to Megan’s to spend some days with her little family. After that, Joe’s mom and dad are going. It’s always helpful to me to know that somebody who loves the kids is nearby. After that…? Well, like I said, we’ll have to see what happens.

Our trip home was uneventful. More road construction, of course, and we stayed a night in Ohio, just to break up the ride. It felt good to get home. I’m very much a person that… if I can’t be where I want to be (on vacation or whatever) then I want to get home. Some may disagree with me, and that’s okay. That’s the beauty of life.
And so… Todd went back to work today, and what did I do? Well… if I can’t BE with the baby, then I may as well BLOG about the baby – am I right???
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for our family. Things are going well, they really are. Grandparenthood is all it’s cracked up to be. Todd and I don’t have to make any of the big decisions anymore, we just need to be there and help when needed. We can do that, and are happy to do that. Personally, I can’t wait to see all that lies ahead.
Till next time,
Gramma Katie
Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference.” For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com 

Monday, July 20, 2015

I've got a new man in my life...

I’ve got a new man in my life… 

Or better yet, I SHOULD say that our whole family has a new little man in our lives! That’s right… Baby S has made his debut, and every one of us is thrilled!

Jacob (Jakey) (JJ) (You name it...)
Here’s how it all happened…  

Since many miles divide us, Todd and I had sat down with Megan and Joe over the weekend of the baby shower. We asked them directly how they’d like all of this to play out, and when we should plan to make our pilgrimage to the east. Once we all got to voice that we wished the whole situation was different, we accepted the fact that it’s not, and decided how to proceed from there. Since Joe had time off from work for family leave, the kids decided to use that time to go home from the hospital and get used to their new big/little reality. They asked if we could come out to Connecticut near the end of that time – that way Todd and I could give Megan a hand with the baby, and help around the house, as Joe went back to work. It makes total sense on paper, and we agreed to it; but I kept thinking that if anything went awry, or if anything changed, we’d just pick up and go sooner. You just never know, you know?

It was pre-determined that the baby’s birthday would be July 15 – about a week before his actual due date. It was a crazy thing because on the morning that Megan and Joe reported in at the hospital for her surgery, Megan felt that she was already having contractions, about 8 minutes apart. We all concur that indeed, the 15th was to be his birthday one way or another. 

Joe was able to be part of the delivery. He sat alongside Megan and talked with her, supporting her as only a best friend can… and these two are definitely best friends. The doctor pronounced “It’s a boy!” and the two felt so happy. As she was wheeled off to recovery, Joe watched as they washed, weighed and measured his baby son. What a feeling!
Look who's here! Jacob Joseph
Joe kept us in the loop with messages and pictures of their new addition. My immediate first impression was that the baby looked like him. Finally we got the news we’d been waiting for…  Megan was recovering well and the baby seemed to be healthy and happy. (Tears) (Praise God!) They proudly announced that Jacob Joseph was here, weighing in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce, and measuring in at a whompin’ 20 inches. 

We’d played a baby name game at her shower, and each guest announced their favorites.  Afterwards, I asked her if she’d heard the name that she and Joe had chosen, but she said “No.” This surprised me since quite a few solid names were shared. She and Joe picked one they felt was strong, and one that worked well with their lengthy German last name. I think they did a great job. Jacob… my new favorite name!  

Todd was at work, but we talked on the phone and congratulated each other about being grandma and grandpa. We planned to celebrate later when he got home. Tony and Lesleigh, who happened to be in town, and happened to be staying at our house that day, congratulated me and each other, all sharing in Megan and Joe’s wonderful news together.

I spoke with Megan on the phone from her hospital room and she sounded good. From a thousand miles away, it isn’t always easy to assess emotion or what the two might want or need; but she clearly sounded good that day. Anyone who’s had a baby knows all of the mixed feelings that pump through new parents; but I must say she sounded upbeat.  

Later that night, Joe set up Skype from their hospital room. Since Tony & Les were here, the six of us (excuse me, SEVEN of us) gathered around and were able to see each other and exchange the priceless experience. Through all of the distance, we were able to see the new baby in his mother’s arms, witness the kids’ smiles at each other, watch them place tiny kisses on the baby’s soft head, hear their birthing experience and watch them as they told it. My oh my, how technology can be a gift…!
Skype session from the hospital - Amazing!  

I’ll be honest – it’s hard having this new grandma title, without being able to hold the baby. But as everyone around me keeps saying, “Soon – you’re going to be there soon…” Soooo…. for now we text, and skype, and chat on the phone a bit -- not a lot of time for that, after all, rumor has it that babies are life changing and take a lot of adult time and attention! Oh man, how exciting! The next generation begins…  

Baby Jacob has brought new experiences to us all so far. Obviously, Megan and Joe have never been parents before. Todd and I have never been grandparents before, and Tony and Lesleigh have never been uncle and aunt before. It’ll be fun for us all to try out our new roles on this lil guy, and we’re all ready to meet him up close and personally.  

Until then, thank God for FaceTime. (Seriously!) :) 
Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of "Five Fingers, Ten Toes - A Mother's Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference." For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com 

Friday, June 26, 2015

We've Come a Long Way, Baby...

Good morning!                    

I just love a good Friday morning in June, don’t you? It’s summertime, it’s almost the weekend, it just feels so… “hopeful,” doesn’t it?  

Speaking of “hopeful,” I had a neat experience recently. About a week ago, I spoke with my daughter, Megan, on the phone and asked what she and Joe were up to. She said that they were going for a maternity photo shoot.  

Oh, okay… I thought. Now don’t get me wrong - I’ve seen the types of photos that she was referring to; but I’ve got to tell you that just a generation ago…? We did not participate in this sort of shoot. Something has happened over the course of 20-30 years that has added this category to the photo shoot list of musts: engagement photos, wedding photos, maternity photos, newborn photos, 3/6/9/12-month photos, family photos, pet(?) photos…
Me and Baby Tony at my Baby Shower  

For us, an engagement photo meant that some night before going out to dinner, if we looked a little better than usual, and if we were engaged at the time, one of our parents pointed the camera at us and said, “Say cheese…” Because we still bought and used rolls of film, there was a good chance that one of us had our eyes shut, was talking, or was reaching for the camera. Two photos were usually clicked “just in case.” The photos often sat in the camera for six months or better, usually until after the holiday season, when people took more pictures than usual. We then submitted the roll to Walgreens or Target or one of those little photo developing places in a parking lot, and waited a couple of days for developing. 

We did have a wedding photographer. Todd’s brother (Timm) agreed to follow us around on that day and snap shots of us – probably looking better than our usual selves. Again, after the wedding we took our five or six rolls of film to Walgreens and waited.
A maternity photo was usually snapped at our baby shower. I can’t speak for everyone, but at that time, having gained 50 or 60 pounds, I think my response was something like, “Do we have to take pictures today?” and of course we did have to. I felt so self-conscious, so unworthy of photo attention. The shots didn’t turn out so bad, and I’m glad I have them to show the kids, but my heart wasn’t really in to being photographed.  

A newborn’s photo was snapped in the hospital nursery. A photographer would go in, and while the baby had their little knit cap on, swaddled from head to toe in receiving blankets, snap a picture of their sweet little face. Sometimes hands were showing, sometimes just eyes, nose and mouth.
Tony and Megan after our one-hour photo shoot 'wait' 

I did take the kids to Sears for a six-month and a year-old photo. After that, we again relied on our own cameras most of the year. I remember one incident when the line (no appointments necessary) was so long that Tony got all sweated up playing for the hour prior. His hair is slicked back and I’m laughing right now as I type, remembering his rosy red cheeks and wet hair. Ah, the good ‘ol days… 

THEN, this week Megan posted some photos from that maternity shoot that I mentioned earlier.

Megan, Joe and Baby S

Maternity Photos: Keane Eye Photography, LLC 
This next generation is really on to something. The photos were absolutely beautiful. Some were posed, yes, but incredibly natural. Instead of a young woman waving the camera away (like I did all those years ago), she embraces the way she looks and the baby growing inside. The photographer also captured the love that Megan and Joe share. I remembered at the kids’ wedding, after they’d said their vows and walked back down the aisle of the church, I saw Joe pick up Megan and swing her around. That was the joy they shared that day, and these photos show the joy that they are sharing on this day – as they wait for their little Baby S to appear. It just seems so… “hopeful!”

My beautiful daughter and our grandchild... (sigh)

I was so impressed, and may I say, moved to tears? 

Where did my little girl go? I used to gather her hair into a ‘whale spout.’ She wore braces for several years. She got glasses when the school’s blackboard grew fuzzy. She dated, she married, and now she’s going to be a mama… 

I think that these photos are also extra special because we’ve had the thousand miles of physical distance between us. It’s a wide separation, and though we’ve seen her a couple of times this year, it’s been so special to visually witness this part of their present life.  

Can I ask you a favor? Baby S is supposed to arrive in less than three weeks. Please keep our family, especially Megan, Joe, and the baby, in your prayers.

Until we blog again…


Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference. For more information, visit her website at: www.katiekolbergmemmel.com 


Thursday, June 4, 2015

To clean or not to clean...

            I have a teensy tiny confession to make. This week, from out of the clear blue yonder, someone (a.k.a. my sister) “dropped in” on me. Now, you must try to understand… for Todd and me, and the way we “keep house,” dropping in is not our best or most favorable option. When my doorbell rings, I freeze, imagining every horrific scenario. It’s such a blasted conflict of interest too, because I really do enjoy visitors – and I really do enjoy my sister. I guess I just really really (really) need a heads-up – 24 hours is preferable, but even 30 minutes can get me a quick fix. 

Here’s the real deal, okay? (Take a deep breath here.) Todd and I are both a bit  (for lack of a better word, I’ll create one…) “Pack Ratty.” It’s true. It’s not like they’re going to film a reality TV show about us or anything (at least not yet…); but we really do have a lot of “stuff’” and our “stuff” may or may not be absolutely necessary to our day-to-day living. If you are unsure about your own state of “Pack-Ratty-ness,” allow me to provide you with a few examples, so that you can compare: 

When the kids lived here, we’d/I’d say things like, “Oh my gosh you guys, your rooms look terrible!” (The word “sty” may have even been used a time or two). Sometimes I’d make them a deal – usually at the beginning of summer vacation. “Tell you what – if you clean your rooms really well, I’ll buy you each one CD of your choice.” Each child, feeling encouraged by my offer, went to the kitchen cabinet and withdrew a big, black Hefty bag. They knew that along with the actual dusting and vacuuming associated with cleaning, also came the “let’s take a load of old clothes and toys to Goodwill.” The children would put on music and get down to work. 

I’d feel pretty good about myself. Here it was, mid-June, and I had the kids motivated to clean, plus they even “whistled while they worked.” I’d throw in a load of laundry, make a shopping list, and then meander down the hall to glance into their rooms, just to see how things were going. BIG mistake, BIG! 

I’d see a stack of items on my daughter’s bed and I’d point. “What are you doing with those?”
“That’s the start of my Goodwill pile,” she so innocently admitted.  

“What? You can’t get rid of this! (I’d hold up a sweater that was probably borderline too small on her.) I love this sweater on you! Remember the time you wore it with…?” And so on, and so forth, I’d give examples of how and why she couldn’t possibly get rid of whatever item was on the chopping block. Finally, she’d relent, and hang the sweater back in her closet. I hate to admit this, but these types of conversations took place until the day she got married and moved out. I do not believe that she is “Pack-Ratty” in her own home, like her dad and me. Time will certainly tell...  

It was surprising to me to find out that not all people act the way that we act. Who knew? Some people actually enjoy getting rid of clothing that doesn’t fit, and actually enjoy donating their kids’ old toys to people who’ll use them. For example, not everyone holds onto a high chair in their basement for twenty years because some day their five-year-old might have a child and bring that child over for dinner, and what will that child sit on then if we get rid of the high chair today?  Note: The high chair is now yellow and is heading to the dump this weekend because no child (grand or otherwise) would ever safely sit on it again. Did we learn our lesson? Hmmm…  

We’ve actually had some sane adult family members and friends who’ve offered to go into certain rooms in our home and dispose of items for us. Oh, the horror, oh, the trauma… “Absolutely not!” We exclaim. “We’ll be going into that room soon – very soon, and making the tough decisions for ourselves.” The sane ones nod as though they understand, but… I’m not really sure that they do. 

And just so that we’re clear – it’s not just me! Todd’s lower level, his section of the basement, is – well – let’s just say that it’s full. Every so often, on a rainy weekend, he’ll say, “I’m going into my workroom and I’m going to organize. If I’m not out in two hours, throw me a lifeline.” 

“Okay, Honey, you do that,” I say. I’m not sure of any real dent he’s ever made in the clutter, but I know that he loves to be in that room.  

On rainy days, many women like to clean. I do not. Rainy days are made for many things, but I’m afraid that cleaning is not one of them. Okay, obviously I’m kidding (a little bit anyway). The house isn’t that bad, but I do enjoy just about any other activity more than housework. 

One thing is true though – once you’ve been caught – once that doorbell rings and it’s not the FedEx man – once that porch person says, “Suuure, I’ve got an extra half hour and I’d love to come in for a Diet Pepsi” – you’re totally busted, my friend. It makes you stop and re-evaluate your time management skills. It makes you want to drag out the broom, the mop and the 409, the vacuum and the webster/duster thing, and get down to business. 

But it’s a funny thing – just as soon as she left that day, my phone rang. It was my daughter. The sweet sound of her far-away voice said, “Hi Mama Llama, how are you today?” and all thoughts of grime removal washed permanently from my brain.” 

“Hi Hon, I’m good – how are you? How’s the baby?” … And an hour later, scouring the bathroom was the furthest subject from my mind. 

I’ve never had a particularly immaculately clean home – that is true. But I do like to think that I’ve always taken time out for the people and activities that matter the most to me: My husband, my kids, pets, church activities, writing, reading books (or anything else), going to movies, watching TV, meeting friends for coffee, talking on the phone, going for walks… ;)  I think you catch my drift…  

Have a wonderful day! 

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – a Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference. For more information, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com