Tag Archives: family

Till Next Week


It’s that time of year… I’ve got a fire raging (in a fireplace), some Christmas music playing and my tree is lit. Last week was an epic holiday weekend. It’s wasn’t just Thanksgiving but also Big Sis’s Big 4-0. It was so great to have everyone here. I haven’t laughed so hard in years. Seriously. That said, it’s taken the greater part of a week and then some, it seems, to recover. So, the brief reprieve from my random diatribes is being extended one more week, but then everyone needs a hiatus now and again.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones. Enjoy the weekend. Do good things. And as always, emerge better people.


Aunt Lee

Angel  header

It was my first trip to Atlanta with Clifford. His folks were throwing a party. I don’t recall the occasion. For them it could have been to celebrate a momentous life event or to simply celebrate the friendships they’d cultivated in their years since immigrating to the states. See, when I first met Clifford, his family had only been here for four years. They had no immediate family when they first arrived stateside, so the friendships they built were important to them.  There was one group in particular, however, that went beyond the box of “beloved friends”. Family isn’t always blood, and that’s what they were. They were family.

So when people started arriving and being introduced to Clifford’s female friend, I had already heard a lot about them. The Orffs – they were a package deal so it seemed. Three boys, the folks, Uncle Bob and Aunt Lee. They were  New Yorkers that had somehow found their way down South. I didn’t have to understand it, but as I longed for Northern conversations, I quickly accepted it (says the Hoosier umpteen years later still living well below the Mason-Dixon line). They were loud. They were funny. And they knew how to drink. I liked them immediately.

This is them (basically).

This is them (and Scott).

There was one standout among them, though. She had me at “Darlin”. Aunt Lee became my favorite person on the planet that day. Though married, she was an independent woman. She owned her own business when she didn’t need to work. She was smart, gorgeous, and so full of love – for everyone. It radiated off her in a way I can’t describe, but the moment she walked into a room, the energy changed. There was light. It was a bright light. Her smile was so sincere and her laugh was so contagious. She had everyone’s attention and we were all wrapped around her finger, yet she had no idea. That’s what made her so special.

A little ball of sunshine and some sisterly love.

Sisterly love.

Through the years she would offer me words of wisdom about sisters, spouses and stuff. She had a faith in Clifford and I that warmed my heart. She took me to pick out our wedding bands. She welcomed us to our new home. She suffered losses but became all the stronger for them. She was a selfless and steady rock for others over and over and over again. She never met a stranger and she loved with her whole heart.  Aunt Lee was the type of person everyone should strive to be. I can only hope to one day have an ounce of the compassion and the love this woman expressed and exuded on a daily basis.

We lose people throughout our lives. It’s just what we do. Some we lose because of distance. Some we lose because of pride. Some we lose because we change and grow. And some we lose because it’s simply their time to go.  The latter forces us to evaluate our lives a little more closely. It forces us to reflect on who we are now and compare that to who we once were, all while contemplating who we could be. I met Aunt Lee 17 years ago. My life was changed for the better for having had her in it, no matter how short that time was cut. We could never have enough Aunt Lee in our lives. Take a moment today, tomorrow, soon, to contemplate who you could be. Sieze the day, darlins. She always did.


Happy Birthday Biggest Sis!


Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

Animal lover.

Animal lover.

Free spiriting since 1967 ...

Free spiriting it since 1967 …

Much love from the only little sis wicked enough to publicly out your age.





A big OLD Birthday shoutout to the best big brother a girl could have! I’m not even going to embarass you with stating exactly how many candles should be burning your cake today, but I will absolutely embarass you with a little throw-back montage.

Adorable back in the day...

Adorable back in the day…




Mark Bday Hat









Look at the fire on that cake!!! And that was EONS ago. Imagine how the fire marshalls must be waiting in the wings these days…


Throw-Back-Monday: Going Home

I had to go home a little over a week ago. I don’t know when I’ll stop calling it home. I haven’t lived there for nearly 17 years, but for some reason, I still call it home. Maybe because I don’t feel like Atlanta is my final calling and more like a temporary stopover to wherever my home will one day be (which will never be in rural Northern Indiana, I assure you). I don’t know. The thing is, every time I go “home” to that small little town twenty minutes from Michigan, a tiny part of me wishes I wasn’t there. I like remembering how things were, and things have changed so much over the years. Old haunts and locales I thought I’d never forget are sometimes unrecognizable to me now. But then there are the few things that never change – like idiots driving 54 in a 55 on US6 (I curse each and every one of you. Every. Time.) OR Ruth’s and Joe’s house.

I wasn’t “home” for the happiest of situations.  I was home because Joe had passed away. Ruth and Joe are Chelle’s parents. Those of you who read my blog regularly know Chelle’s my best friend in this world.

That's us. Two besties playing it bad ass. That's how we roll.

That’s us. Two besties playing it bad ass at Ruth’s and Joe’s. That’s how we rolled. Still do.

Ruth and Joe were like second parents to me. They were ridiculously supportive in my formative years and beyond. They welcomed me and all of Chelle’s friends into their home asking us to make it our own.  And we did.

The house is down a long gravel lane set back from a country road (for those of you not from these parts – everything is off of a country road). The moment I pulled in, this time in my Acadia in lieu of the old high school Ford Taurus Sedan, I still peeled down the drive like I always did leaving a cloud of white dust in my wake. I remember every time he saw me do it, Joe would say, “There’s Lib. Driving like a bat out of hell.” And yet he still trusted his daughter’s life in my hands as we’d take off for our next big adventure to parts unknown. Ok. They were always known; we were teenagers. So maybe to like the Friday night football game?


I stayed at their house for one night while I was up there. Just walking through the front door brought so many memories rushing back . Maybe some of the furniture had changed, but the feelings the house evoked hadn’t changed at all. I was left alone in it for a little bit, locking things up before the viewing that day.  I took the opportunity to wander around, not knowing when I’d be there again, and smiling as certain moments from events past sprang to mind (For the record, Ruth, I was totally not creeping in your house—  just wandering and reminiscing, NOT CREEPING. I promise!).

Apparently some furniture had stayed the same. I found one of the old couches we used at every get-together. I was surprised we hadn’t completely destroyed it all those years ago.

Just one of many times we used the famous couch for goofy photo ops.

One of many goofy photo ops on Famous Couch


Case in point.

Just another case in point.

It was still sitting upstairs in the loft. That’s where we would always be – upstairs in the loft. We’d play euchre. We’d watch movies. We’d enjoyed games like Truth or Dare.

A little Twister.

A little Twister here and there.

We had slumber parties.

Chelle does have pants on. I swear ...???

Chelle does have pants on. I swear …???

Superbowl parties. Dinner parties.

Typical bunch of misfits having dinner at the house.

Typical bunch of misfits having dinner at the house.

We did makeup and hair…

After my brief stroll down memory lane (in a not creepy way remember), I had stepped outside to let the dogs do their business (one was Chelle’s and one was Ruth’s and Joe’s) . I was promised neither one would run away. Apparently that rule only applies when squirrels aren’t in the picture as I watched, completely mortified, as Ruth’s and Joe’s little sweetheart tore off for one of the speedy rodents across the property towards the open field.  So there I was, running over the lawn in sharp high heels, screaming at the top of my lungs in 25 degree temps, trying to stop him when suddenly all of the nights we spent playing capture the flag hit me, too. We’d don black clothes and divvy up into two teams. We’d run covert ops through the woods and over the grassy knolls with only the moonlight to guide our way… For those still worried about the dog, Barkley did make it back to the house while I was lost in my mind – crisis averted. Thank God!

I remembered bonfires and swimming parties. I remembered teepeeing those woods more than once  and hauling ass with Darewood down that damn gravel drive (we’d park by the country road so we wouldn’t be seen – it’d always seem like a smart idea before we tossed the tissue in the trees, but it became the dumbest idea ever as we sprinted back like half a mile in the middle of the night as if our lives depended on it).

I remembered Chelle’s engagement celebration. I remembered sitting on the back porch sharing a glass of wine with Ruth and Joe.

As much as things feel a bit foreign when I’m back now, Ruth’s and Joe’s house made me feel like I was home again. That feeling wasn’t because of the house they’d built, but because of the love they provided to anyone and everyone who stepped foot inside. I am so lucky and thankful for the Blackburn clan who unconditionally adopted me into their family so many years ago. I would do anything for those people as I know they’d do anything for me. I can never thank them enough.

The Blackburn Clan

The Blackburn Clan

I didn’t mean for this post to get so sappy and sentimental as basically every story I have relating to Ruth’s and Joe’s is actually rather crazy, comical, or fun. I was just a bit surprised that day because though I was brought there under sad circumstances, I found my heart wasn’t filled with sadness at all. It was filled with the purest  joy and love as I wandered around reliving those amazing moments we shared. And that’s the way life should be.

For Joe …


I Am Thankful For The Internet

Thanksgiving is, well, tomorrow. So it is only fitting that I post something relating to giving thanks or pilgrims. Since I’m not feeling compelled to compose historical fiction today, I’ve decided to go with the former.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the Internet. Now hang in there with me – it’s not quite as materialistic as it may seem!

Firstly I thank the Internet because it has allowed me to find odd roadside attractions. If you read about my journey to Maker’s Mark, then you know that I have taken many a road trip over the years, but have rarely stopped to enjoy the sites or local quirks along the way. I am the girl who has always wanted to see the world’s largest ball of twine. I’m her. That girl. The one who wants the cheap photo op and a kitschy reminder that I WAS THERE. Continue reading


Another Family Adventure (guest post)

Today’s guest post is from community member Christina Cline Schneider. Christina shares another wonderful family adventure. adventure. As always, thank you for sharing, Christina! You have such great insights! 

As a mother, I’ve always found it extremely valuable that my children get out into the world and have experiences. Each experience is eye opening and a teachable moment for me. We learn so much from our experiences and the value of adventure bringing about a sense of fulfillment.

With this philosophy in mind,  I try to plan something special for the kids during the year. Sort of like a “vacation” but I’m not a big “vacation” person. I’d rather create some small budget friendly adventures instead. These adventures can range from a Saturday afternoon trip to the library to a full blown “let’s get in the car and drive to a new landmark we’ve never been to.” It always depends on how much extra money we have because let’s be honest, we are ALL on a budget. Continue reading


Throw-Back-Monday: Sibling Rivalries – Part I

Siblings. You can’t really escape them.

Me and my siblings. I am the completely normal one in the cute maroon coat.

Me and my siblings. I ‘m the totally normal one in the cute maroon coat.

You love them, you hate them, it doesn’t change the fact that they are your blood. But it also doesn’t change the fact that you can get pretty frustrated with them at times, no matter how close you are. There are spells where you want to lash out, make it a little harder on your sibling, prevent their every happiness… you know what I mean. Continue reading


The Family Feud

There was a time I lived for game shows. The Price Is Right (back in Bob Barker’s day), Finders Keepers, American Gladiators (old school), Fun House, Double Dare, Press Your Luck, I’m Telling!, Legends of the Hidden Temple, $100,000 Pyramid, Couch Potatoes, MTV’s Remote Control, Win, Lose, or Draw, Teen Win, Lose or Draw (Hosted by Family Ties’ Skippy and this ep has Wil Wheaton!),  Jeopardy!, and Family Feud. I’m sure there are even more than these that kept me glued to the boob tube as a kid.

The funny thing is, I knew my family could kill it on these shows (the ones not reliant upon pure luck, of course). We are a pretty smart group and were fairly agile at the time. I would watch Family Double Dare and know my family could clean house. Playing along at home, we would shout out the right answers before the families would even blink on screen. We were a gaming family (still are). We were clever (still are). We were competitive (still are). And we lived in Northern Indiana … how in the hell was a clan living in a cornfield twenty minutes from Michigan supposed to get on a show like one of these?

I would dream of the obstacle courses we would conquer and the trivia questions we would nail. Even if we couldn’t be contestants, just seeing a live taping would be amazing! But the chances of my family travelling to California to be part of a live studio audience? Nil.

So living in Atlanta and seeing FREE tickets to a live taping of Family Feud hosted by Steve Harvey a few weeks back, I jumped at the chance to be an audience member. And it was TOTALLY worth it.

Family Feud

Family Feud

Continue reading