Waiting to Exhale

The calendar showed October 4th, 2012. She and I sat in the sterile office surrounded by semi-gloss light blue walls, our hearts thumping, hands like ice. We waited for the man who wore a white coat to join us, hoping he would provide gentle answers to appease our questions.

The matter was serious, but when I first saw his face, I thought of Santa, stark white hair and fluffy beard, red, rosy cheeks good for pinching. The only thing missing was the apple red hat, and though he would bear dreadful news, his smile was welcoming, as if the three of us were meeting for a stroll in the park on a lovely spring afternoon.

It was amazing how a tiny scope could be guided through the mouth and throat then down the esophagus. CT scans, lab work, MRIs, and a needle too long to discuss occupied her hours for over 1,000 days. Still, we craved clarity. Our world was hazy like thick fog a driver would endure crossing the Golden Gate Bridge during summer in the wee hours of the morning.
And we waited – a necessary evil that all people grapple with too often to count the times on their hands.

Then on that autumn day came words we would have liked to have hurled back to Santa. We had hoped for gentle. Instead…
“All tests point to this auto immune disease, and there is no cause or cure,” he told us with a touch of remorse. The future would necessitate a transplant. It was not cancer, but this finding should not be shunned. She was twenty years old, like a sunflower of friendliness and optimism. He added, “Just live your life.”

I felt her physical pain rip through each atrium and ventricle – my most excruciating moments of being a parent. But her strength embraced and consoled me, her mother, of all things.
Life pulled us through each season.

The calendar now presents the year 2021: She is a lovely, young woman – a wedding band adorns her left ring finger, and geography has changed along with a new insurance card. She meets with another man who wears a similar white coat. X-rays and jabs repeat. “All of your tests are normal,” he affirms. All is normal. Words we had hoped to hear from this new expert.
“I don’t see a reason to keep you in the same box,” he confirms.

This is amazing news! But abdominal stabs and pruritus from the past were as tangible as a twisted knife to the gut. How can we negate that agony? What is the deeper meaning? Should we get the champagne flutes out, give them a quick wash? Has this nightmare finally ended? She chooses to live in the here and now.
Life continues to draw us forward to witness each sunrise and sunset,
although we are still waiting to exhale.

Lauren Scott (c) 2021

Rocking with Love

Built with tender hands
and love for his daughter,
she happily rocked through

childhood. Then with tiny fingers
wrapped around books, they
rocked like her – smiles spreading
across their soft cheeks.
Adorable animals enhanced
the white finish – charm never
to be erased. As memories

of her father flooded her mind
like a scrapbook of Polaroids,
Grandma watched her grandchildren
with a full heart, for that special rocker
embraced new generations
with the gentlest rhythm of love.

Our son in 1997, enjoying Grandma’s rocking chair that her father built. This precious little rocker has been passed down through our family for each new grandchild to feel the love.
Bigger smiles.

Lauren Scott (c) 2021 ❤️

Where the fun never sets!

Since the empty nester phase has arrived, my husband and I have been flipping through old photo albums. Remember those? Not a folder on a computer, but good old albums where memories come alive on each page. We ran across this article I wrote in the year 2000 that was published in our local newspaper. Talk about memories!

San Anselmo Memorial Park: Where the fun never sets!

It’s a beautiful summer day in the low 80s. My husband is at work and I’m the designated recreation director for our son and daughter. There aren’t any play dates scheduled today, so what would be a fun way to entertain them?

I’m a stay-at-home mom and have met many people since we moved to San Anselmo, mainly through school and extracurricular activities. One of the most popular pastimes for parents and their children is going to the park. I have never seen so many beautiful parks to choose from.

Memorial Park is the hot spot in this quaint little town. Although the equipment was old when we first visited, it was a great destination for our children to expel their energy. Then, about a year later, I heard talk of a possible renovation, making it more desirable for children to play.

Talk soon turned into a dream come true. With the help of community volunteers and hired architects, Memorial Park was remodeled in one week! I knew if I didn’t volunteer to help, I’d feel guilty for a long time. This park and our children had already established a close bond and would be seeing a lot more of each other.

So, I volunteered to get my hands dirty and to participate in the camaraderie. Hammering, painting, lifting, cleaning, whatever it took, the work got done. The newly improved Memorial Park is even more magical than before. I haven’t visited once when it wasn’t filled with happy, giggly children creating their own adventures, whether in the mystical castles, climbing on the long-neck dinosaur, or building sandcastles in the big sand box.

Now, instead of wondering how I will entertain our son and daughter, I choose the best time to leave for the park. Usually, our children meet up with friends they’ve already made, which adds more dimension to the fun. While they’re playing, I share in adult conversation with other parents, flip through a magazine, continue where I left off in a good book, or simply enjoy the relaxation on a splendid summer day. What better music to our ears than the giggles of our happy children!

I truly appreciate the many volunteers and their working hands who conceived the renovation, thought it doable, making it reality!

Lauren Scott (c) 2000

I don’t have photos of the park during that time because I probably didn’t carry my camera on me. My bag was most likely filled with lots of water and snacks. And those were the days before smart phones existed where a simple tap, tap, tap could create 1000 photos in 5 seconds.

So, the photos I’m sharing are from the current website, along with the picture of my children that was included with the article. Now they’re 29 and 26! How is this even possible?!

Are you about to embark on the same life chapter of becoming empty nesters…or, perhaps, do my memories evoke special memories of your own? If you’re inclined to share, I’d love to read.

And thank you for joining me on this day at the park!

~Lauren ❤️💙💜
All park photos: Memorial Park website

In the Air

My husband and I have never been fond of flying. Not that we haven’t flown, we have, but if driving is feasible, we’d rather hop in our car, turn the key or press the button, and accelerate.

The year was 2019 when we visited our daughter and son-in-law for the first time after they moved to Tennessee. It’s tough living so far from them now. Visiting takes more thought – sitting in an airplane for almost five hours or driving across country are the best options. Since flying will bring us to them swiftly, flying it is!

“Mom, if you and Dad take a red-eye, you’ll fly at night and won’t waste a day of traveling,” my daughter suggested.

“That sounds like a good plan,” I replied, not giving it much thought. So, Matt and I booked our red-eye flight. On the night of our departure when we clambered our way through security, we were surprised at how crowded the San Francisco Airport was at 11pm. We were definite red-eye rookies. We had time to kill, so relaxing over a glass of wine sounded nice. I realized Matt was more talk when it came to jumpy nerves about flying. Once we survived the winding lines of security, the juggle of wallets and cell phones while tightly gripping our luggage, any jumpy nerves he experienced lied down to rest. He enjoyed the airport experience – the buzz of people in masses coming and going from who knows where and heading to who knows where.

My nerves, however, were as jumpy as kids in a bounce house, and I had high hopes for that Chardonnay. Our flight was boarding, so we joined the other passengers in walking through the boarding bridge. The rows on the plane comprised of three seats on each side. Our seats were near the wings. After sliding my carry-on into the compartment above, I slid into the middle seat with Matt to my right on the aisle. In a few minutes, a young woman wearing a black jacket with the hood pulled over her head climbed over us to find her window seat on my left.

I silently kept telling myself that all will be fine. Get comfortable, breathe in, breathe out. The jet began to roll down the runway and Matt took my hand to calm me. Takeoff was as smooth as silk. Once we were flying in the air and seatbelts unbuckled, I exhaled, assuming I was fine. But where I blundered involved my breathing. Did you know you can breathe incorrectly?

“Honey, I feel like I’m going to pass out,” I whispered to Matt.

“What?” He said with panic in his voice. After all, by this time, the clock read midnight and the jet soared over 30,000 feet in the air. No emergency exit provided an escape. This was not a Disneyland ride.

“Honey! My hands and feet are contorting and going numb. I’m going to pass out! PLEASE FIND HELP!” I pleaded through the light-headedness.

The Eagle Scout in my husband shined as he hurriedly walked to where the flight attendants were comfortably sitting. He couldn’t believe this was happening at thousands of feet in the air trapped in a silver cylinder! I’m sure this event wasn’t a first for the flight attendant. The woman was compassionate and, in a firm, loud voice for all passengers to hear, she asked if a doctor was on board, and gratefully, a doctor was on board!

When Matt returned to my side, two flight attendants and that doctor accompanied him. My hands resembled pretzels and my head lolled back on the head rest. I couldn’t feel my feet. I remember the male doctor’s soothing voice, instructing me to again breathe in and out s-l-o-w-l-y. I was given a few sips of 7-up to help raise my blood sugar level. In a matter of minutes, I began to feel human again…hands relaxed to normal position, I could wiggle my toes, and the dizziness in my head subsided.

“Lauren, it looks like you hyperventilated. You didn’t have a panic attack, but it’s important to stay calm and breathe slowly,” the kind doctor said to me. When I exhibited no more symptoms, the doctor and flight attendants returned to their seats and stations. By the way, the young woman sitting on my left kept to herself during my entire calamity – white earbuds plugged in for entertainment and the hood still covering her head.

When the excitement ended, embarrassment washed over me like a tsunami. I wanted to slide down my seat in flexible fashion like Gumby. Instead, my head held high, I analyzed what had just occurred. My analysis was clear as drinking water. It wasn’t so much the flying; it was flying at night that terrified me. But the only way to realize this is to sit in an airplane as it soars through the inky darkness. This nugget of knowledge noted.

No more red-eyes for me and a Big Thank You to doctors on board! From now on, my flights will ascend into the big blue with the golden sun as my beacon. I now know how not to breathe! And a day of airport hopping will never be a waste when our children wait for our arrival on the other side of the itinerary.

The “kids” playing tourists in downtown Nashville.

Lauren Scott (c) 2021 ❤️
Airplane photo courtesy of Google

Love in Every Flavor

Stepping inside
Grandma’s house,
their eyes zero in
on the white candy dish,
elegantly painted in pink
and pale green flowers.
Grandma gives them
her approving nod,
so their young hands
lift the lid where inside
they find magic –
gumdrops in red,
orange, yellow, green,
purple, white, and pink.
With each bite and
new flavor bursting,
they give her big smiles.
The candy dish
is only one way
Grandma shows
her love.

(Mom passed away in 2012, but this is one lovely memory of her and our children. My sisters and I can’t seem to find a photo of that candy dish, but I found the one above on the web – a close likeness.)

~ Lauren Scott 💗💗

Find Your Happy!

This past week has felt 21-days long! Last Sunday, our son moved out of the house embarking on a road trip across country. He left the nest not for college or his internship, but for his independence. The pandemic had delayed his original plans, but they are delayed no more. So, my hubby and I officially hold the title of empty nesters. Excitement swirls in this new chapter for all of us, but while he blazed through state lines heading east, I worried. My hubby worried. We busied ourselves doing things around the house, and of course, going to work, trying to focus on the job. Some of you may recall that I briefly wrote about this in my post from April 17th. Now it’s as real as ever.

While we are proud of him, we miss his presence – the conversations, the laughter, the hugs. We know Copper, our dog, misses his “brother” too, that his canine perception senses the change. The quiet in the house is also LOUD. So, this past week has been an adjustment.

But now that he has reached his finish line and holds the keys to his new apartment in his hands, WE ARE HAPPY! We wish that his chosen path could have been on the west side of the USA. But, he now lives closer to his sister who also lives on that side of the country, which makes us HAPPY! We are eager to make new memories in his home just as we’ve done with our daughter and son-in-law.

I have shed many tears during this exciting, bittersweet week. They fell out of joy for our son and the new adventures awaiting on the horizon. They gushed out of worry as he accelerated on those highways; I thought of other reckless drivers out there. And I have never felt such an affinity for my cell phone before as I anticipated his text messages to ping each evening, letting us know he is safe. It was in those moments when tears flowed out of relief. And if you’re wondering, my hubby shed a few, too.

So, this post is all about FINDING YOUR HAPPY!

Wherever it may be, it’s out there, loud and clear!!!!

Welcome it!

Embrace it!

And don’t let it go!

Reasons for feeling Happy float around us every day, but it’s up to us to capture them and relish in the joy.”

Lauren Scott 🥰❤️

(When I think of happiness, flowers also come to mind. The California Poppies are gorgeous and abundant around here, but I don’t have a good photo to share. So, of course, I visited Google, where I also found the Happy Face. The Daisies are from our garden.) 😍

Journal entry: April 16, 2021

Wrapping up my workday with fifteen minutes to go before stepping outside into Friday freedom, I hear my phone ping. A short text from my daughter: Hey, Mom, would you want to chat later?

It’s been a couple of weeks since we talked, and since she lives on the other side of the country, of course, I wanted to chat! My fingers tapped back: Sure! I’ll call in a half hour when I’m home.

For hours to fly by when we talk on the phone isn’t unusual at all. But this call turned out to beat that record by a landslide. When my husband walked through the door, home from work, I said, “Hi Honey, I’ve been talking to Steph for two hours.”

“Are you kidding me?” He asked, grinning, not understanding what in the world could keep a conversation going for so long.

And it kept going. We chatted about work – the fun and the annoying elements, and about friends. I asked her about the 3-year-old tabby cat, Oliver, she and her husband recently adopted. Somehow the weather swept into our conversation – another drought and fire season on the horizon for us, and lastly, about her brother who is moving out in a week, embarking on a new chapter of life. He’s been home with us for a couple of years post college graduation, working full-time remotely. But the time has come. The time is right.

Steph and I gabbed about Michael’s new chapter nudging “Dad and I” into our new Empty Nesters stage. Exciting times for all of us, but bittersweet where many different emotions whirl around in our heads and hearts. The thing is he’s moving across country, too, which means both of our children will be on the same coast as each other, but miles and miles and miles away from us. This is when our hearts become heavy. We can’t see Steph and Ryan on a whim, and the same will be for Michael when he’s moved.

I filled Steph in about Michael wanting to help us rearrange furniture in the bedrooms so that Mom and Dad can reap the benefits of having the house to themselves. Shortly after he signed his apartment lease, with each day came a new flood of tears for me. But as he moves furniture and rewires electronics, he has tamped down those tears by keeping my brain and emotions occupied. Though a tsunami will gush on the day he drives away. No doubt.

Steph understood. When she and Ryan moved, Michael lived with us. Tears still trickled down our cheeks, but it was different with having one of our kids still at home. So, when Michael leaves, it’ll just be Matt, me, and Copper, our crazy canine, who will watch the distance widen between us and his car. We know Copper will sense the emptiness in the house, missing the cuddles, too, from his brother.

After Matt watered the grass, he poured us some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and I carried the conversation out to the patio. He joined in, telling Steph all about his recent motorcycle trip, and how he checked off that box on his bucket list. He shared that his dad, two weeks shy of turning 98, is not doing well. “Give him a call,” he tells her. “And send him a birthday card with photos of Ollie. He’d love that.”

Before we knew it, tears from all of us struggled for freedom. The conversation stayed light-hearted, full of laughter, but also brimmed with love and poignancy. When we all finally said talk to ya later, four hours had passed!

Here’s my take-away: we love our children so much, yes, and sometimes to the point that it hurts. Parenting doesn’t get easier as age transforms into a larger number – with each new phase develops new sets of worries. But as our daughter and son pave their own paths, we couldn’t be prouder. They’re adulting and doing it well. We just wish their paths were on the west coast. Such is life. And as the gray hairs flourish and the wrinkles form, knowing they love us to the same extent is something so much bigger to be thankful for – and knowledge to sustain us until we or they hop on a plane, heading across country.

A phone call to treasure.

Lauren Scott ❤️

Cake

I opened the oven door with my young children peeking around me and we all laughed! Instead of the meringue cascading in still perfection, cracks engulfed every inch as though an earthquake rumbled over the top. Through giggles, we yelled, “The Earthquake cake!” A Blitz Torte. It was my dad’s favorite, stemming from past generations of his German heritage.

The memories! There was Mom, standing in the kitchen of dark wood cabinets, hand mixer purring as she blended the magical ingredients for dad’s birthday each year. Mixing up this feather-light textured cake was no simple culinary experience; separating egg yolks from their counterparts, the egg whites, was a step mastered with practice over time. The meringue topping had to be whipped to precision like an image of still cascading waves in the ocean. Having only attempted this recipe once with the result resembling the earth riddled in quakes, Mom and Dad cracked up when they saw the cracked-up cake! Hilarious to the eyes, but the slight almond crunch of the meringue and creamy texture of the custard filling decadently pleased our palates.

And then one day I tasted carrot cake – the mixture of spicy cinnamon, tangy crushed pineapple, shredded carrots, and crunchy walnuts immediately deemed this cake my utmost favorite. Add the smooth, delectable cream cheese frosting (that I could eat by the spoonful) and you have life’s essentials on a plate! And it’s advantageous that carrot cake counts as a vegetable in my kitchen.

It was the day of my bridal shower. I walked into my maid of honor’s home, instantly inhaling the spicy scent. Carrot cake! She knew me too well, and her mother created the best recipe. Our moms and all the girls were in dessert heaven with each bite of that delicious piece of art. And so, the top of my 5-layer wedding cake was carrot – it had to be that way for my special day. Fortunately, my husband was a fan, too!

My two teenagers on a spring March day pulled on their carrot-shredding gloves and presented to me their creation while belting out, “Happy birthday to you...” With its two uneven layers, it wasn’t pretty, but it brought on the biggest smile. Their efforts earned them an A+, and when I treated myself to that first bite, I tasted spicy, creamy excellence. With their love and thoughtfulness stirred into the process, satisfaction was redefined!

I often delve into the carrot shredding and cream cheese whisking myself, watching my family revel in each forkful of the sinfully delicious dessert. This recipe has become a treasure in my collection evoking these precious memories. Whether it’s a Blitz Torte bringing to life images of my parents who have since left our physical world or a Carrot Cake from wedding and birthday celebrations, the stroll down memory lane becomes more poignant with each new bite.

Lauren Scott (c) 2021

Header: My birthday carrot cake this year that a wonderful friend made for me. 🧡🧡

Twinkling Magic

Their eyes see twinkling magic
Unaware of worldwide discord.
Children, innocent in youth,
Show how joy can be restored.
Let their wonder guide and excite
With their eager anticipation
Let our worries fall to the floor
As we welcome exultation.

Christmas memories from when our son and daughter were little are still so vivid – how they became excited awaiting the rooftop-arrival of Santa Claus and Dasher & Dancer & Prancer & Vixen & Comet & Cupid & Donner & Blitzen & Rudolph!!!
They were my little helpers in the kitchen baking cut-out sugar cookies for Santa and we made sure to leave a bowl of carrots for his reindeer to chomp on.

Those were magical times of make believe, yet times also for believing. 🌟🌟🌟

May we hold that magic of innocence and our inner child in our hearts during this holiday season. 🎄💗

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

Another world…

Walk with us into
the magic of autumn
where tree-lined
serenity surrounds…
the old swimming hole
evokes precious
memories of when
they were young.
We stumble upon
a home for one
lucky critter,
but built by who?

We’re touched
by the Compassion
on a bench…
Only a short drive,
but as we walk
in the light rain,
reveling in the

fragrance of a
new season,
it seems we’ve
stepped into

a whole new world.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020 💗