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