Couch Surfing and My Hip Dad

My dad got home from a fishing trip today and saw that there was a random car with an out of state license plate in the driveway.  After putting his gear down and giving me a hug he says, “Are those couch surfers or do you know those people?”  I love that this is my dad’s response, and he couldn’t have said it any more nonchalantly, like it didn’t matter that there could be two strangers sleeping in the extra bedroom in his house.

I introduced my dad to Couch Surfing after living a very active CS life in San Diego.  My apartment was always filled with strangers from other parts of the world.  These strangers, or instant friends, became more than just weekend guests.  They became a part of my world, some staying for extra days, weeks, months, and it was beautiful.  I made some very good friends at the time, by hosting and meeting other local hosts, friends that I still talk to and friends that I will stay connected with for the rest of my life.

This is the part of Couch Surfing that I wanted my dad to see.  I wanted him to see that CS is not a community full of freeloaders and people that want to steal your precious stuff.  It’s about being comfortable with yourself, your surroundings, and letting other people into your life.  It’s about opening yourself up to others which is something all of us should practice.

So, after hosting a frisbee world champion, a couple of dudes passing through trying to avoid the busy city, a couple of girls that just wanted to go on a bike ride in the forest, and many friends of friends of friends my dad has become part of the Couch Surfing community without even realizing it.  He is now used to and comfortable with meeting new people, and his generous hospitality has extended beyond the realm of family members.  He has grown to trust his daughter and her judgements (I hope!).  Above all, he has learned the importance of hydration and making new friends.  Much of my happiness and knowledge of the world comes from meeting new people, sharing lives, and sharing homes.

That is the type of thing a person carries with them forever, whether they are on the Couch Surfing website or not.  We learn to share from the moment we come into contact with other human beings.  Remember what they taught us in school, “sharing is caring”.  Thank you dad for being so open, accepting, caring, and way hip.

Family, It Never Stops Growing

I tried to log into WordPress today and realized that I forgot my password.  This is a sign that I need to get back into the swing of things.  Believe me, I am still smiling on a daily basis, and you should be too!

I would like to share a little something that shows you can still smile no matter what is happening in your life.  Even in dark times, there is always a light.  You just need to open yourself to it.

Recently, a family member passed away.  She was my dad’s aunt, married to my Gram’s brother, mother to five of my aunts and uncles, grandmother to a bunch.  Much of my family is like this.  I call people my aunt, uncle, cousin even if that’s not what they technically are.  Sometimes I even forget how I am related to all of these people that I love!  There are just so many of them, and every time we get together it seems like the family grows and grows.  I am very lucky to have all of these wonderful people in my life which is something I am reminded of all the time.

I called my aunt to tell her how sorry I was that she lost her mom.  I wanted to be there for her, help her in any way I could.  Throughout the conversation she ended up consoling me.  She made me smile.  We both smiled remembering her mom, my great aunt, Lorraine.

Lorraine was a very petite, under 5 feet tall, yet powerful lady.  I was always happy to talk to her at family parties.  She told it like it is and was always up for a good laugh.  You could tell she was the head of her family, the family she left so many of her traits within.  Above all, Lorraine was a caregiver, a caregiver to everyone.  I see this in all of my family members.  We will always care for each other and all the people in our lives.  Our family doesn’t just stop at Nowicki, Sava, Banks, Goldsmith, or Kelly.   It extends beyond names as we show the love Lorraine showed us to those we meet along the way.

If you have love share it.  It’s not meant to be kept a secret.

Another Birthday, Another Reason to Celebrate

Today is March 5th. It’s just a normal day for most people. Ideally, the snow is melting and the Earth is starting to peek through. Today would have been my mom’s Birthday. My dad would have been siting on the couch, waiting, and watching some sort of fishing show on TV as my mom would have been upstairs in the bathroom for hours getting ready for dinner at the restaurant of her choice. My brother and I would probably be teasing each other or enticing the dog to bark at the fish on television. My mom’s phone would have been ringing nonstop, all of her friends and the family calling to wish her a happy birthday. She was a popular lady. Once she was finally ready to come downstairs the four of us, possibly joined by my grandparents, would have driven to the restaurant for a lovely meal and back to the house for wine, candles, and ice cream, maybe some pound cake.

We would have been doing the same thing we do every year for all of our birthdays, but it would have been special since we’d all be together. The rest of the family would come over on the weekend for a proper celebration and more cake, candles, and singing. My mom would have gone out with her girlfriends for a few more parties.

We tend to think of our birthdays as marking another year gone by; therefore, making us another year older. Once you reach a certain age, shall we say 25, every birthday is a year closer to 30, and then closer to 40, and then, in the blink of an eye you’re turing 60! Where did the time go? How am I getting this old? What are these wrinkles on my face? Do I really have to get any older? I’ll just turn 39 for a few more years. Some of us even fear our birthdays, and when the time comes to celebrate we convince ourselves that we want to sit at home crying over romantic comedies on television. Some of us may also convince ourselves that we are nothing to make a fuss over, that we are not worth our friends and family going out of the way to nice things for us. But, we are missing the point!

Birthdays are a celebration of the day we were born, the day we came into this world to start our beautiful journey. Every year that goes by is another year we are lucky enough to be among friends and family, lucky enough to do new things or enjoy the same old things, lucky enough to experience life! We gather with those we love to celebrate all that happens in a year, to celebrate growth, to celebrate the love we gave and received, and most importantly to celebrate the fact that YOU are here today! We celebrate the past year, your current breath of life, and hopes for the future and good things to come. After all, It is tradition to make a wish before blowing out the birthday candles.

So, this year on your birthday remember that you are important, your life is special, and if some one wants to throw you a party, take off your sweatpants, stop complaining, and live a little! You are here on this Earth. Remember to enjoy.

SuzieQHappy Birthday Suzie Q

Daytona is Not a Place for Sleeves

NASCAR has officially begun!  We decided to celebrate yesterday by gathering at my cousin’s place to watch the Daytona 500.  My family isn’t the most normal family on the planet so we decided to spice up this race in Norwicki fashion.  We met early in my cousin’s garage to tailgate and eat some breakfast sandwiches.  The sun was out, the Caballero was looking great, and new traditions were coming to be. Next time you get those delicious pink marsh mellow bunnies or yellow duckies that everybody loves so dearly, try charring them with a blow torch.  They will taste even better.

PeepsAfter the tailgate we went inside to enjoy the revving of engines and some arts and crafts.  All guests had to make a team t shirt to sporting their driver’s number and sponsors.  Sleeves were not allowed.  I was rooting for Brad Keselowski, and we were sponsored by Peeps, Hennesee, Baby Annie, ‘Merica, Glowsticks, and Ja Rule.  Danica stopped by before the race to say hello.

shirtThe race was exciting as always, and Scoot came out victorious with Jimmie Johnson.  Even though my driver didn’t win, I came in second in the fantasy league that I joined!  After some Mario Kart and a few slices of pizza the group was ready to head down to country night at Houndstooth, in our team t shirts of course.  We celebrated another Blackhawks victory, played a few rounds of Quarters, and then it was time for me to go home.  Even now, I am still amazed that I didn’t miss my stop on the train.

Garage

1.11.13 – Kim Christmas

It’s been a while, 9 days to be exact.  Like anything, when you fall out of habit, it’s hard to get back into it.  Or, I could have been really busy with lots to do and little time to write.  Or,  I could have flown out of my window to Neverland with Peter Pan and Tink.  By the way, they don’t have computers in Neverland.  Whatever has happened in my absence from the blog world it is now behind me, and I can start taking my one a day vitamins again.  Sure the past is past, but I bet you are all wondering just what the hell happened to me.  I will share some highlights:

I finally got to meet Annie, my cousin’s baby, my niece.  She is even more beautiful in my arms than she is in photos.  She is going to grow up to have her mommy’s long blonde hair, pretty eyes, and smart head.  And, just look at that little pink bow!

AnnieI also got to see my baby, TOBY!  It still amazes me that I can be away from home for four months, and as soon as Toby hears my voice he knows it’s me.  I really hate to leave the little guy for that long, but he and my dad are buddies.  Who else is going to protect the house from those vicious squirrels?  It snowed a little too :-)

Toby

Work brought me back home for a week which allowed me to surprise my friends and family.  My dad and friend Mel were the only two people who knew I was going to be in town.  My crazy family celebrates Ukrainian Christmas so I was able to see everyone on one of my favorite nights of the year.  My Grandma cried, I cried, and baby Annie may have shed a tear when she got hungry or pooped her diaper.  I got to hang out with big Annie, who is now in seventh grade! I can’t believe my favorite little cousin isn’t so little anymore.  She is more beautiful every time I see her.

I even got to have my very own Kim Christmas!  My dad set up presents under the tiniest Christmas tree.

Mini Christmas

Every day this past week had Mel in it.  She is moving to Hawaii, and we needed to spend as much time together as possible!  With Mel, I made new friends, saw old friends, stayed hydrated, ate peanut butter sandwiches, fell asleep in the library and almost missed a train, and turned my hotel room into my “apartment”.  The entire week I had friends come and go, beverages consumed, movies watched, beds jumped on, and smiles shared.

Toast

So there you have it.  I did not get abducted by aliens or eaten by dinosaurs, but I did laugh so hard my stomach and my face hurt.  What a wonderful nine days it has been.

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas

Christmas and the holidays are a time for family.  I think everyday should be a time for family, but it gets tough to have everybody – grandma and grandpa, aunts, uncles, parents, cousins, kids, second cousins, friends – over for dinner every night of the week.  This is why we celebrate holidays.  Sure Christmas has a historical meaning, sweet baby Jesus was born on this day, but it’s so much more than that.  Hell, not everyone who celebrates Christmas believes in Jesus anyway.  Christmas is recognized as a time to celebrate the love you have for those around you.  It may be the only time throughout the year when everyone can gather together around the same table and enjoy each other, cheesy potatoes, turkey, and grandma’s pirogies (they are the best).

Unfortunately, I was unable to spend Christmas with my family this year.  My family is the family that gets together for birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, summer vacations, multiple Christmases, baseball games, Saturday nights, Cousin Conventions, fishing trips, and any other event we can come up with.  As you know, my cousin just had a baby, Annie, who I would really like to meet.  I would love to give my cousin a big hug and tell her she is going to be the best mom in the world.  I missed the laughter, the hugs and kisses, the visit from Santa Claus, the food, spending time with my grandparents, the annual watching of “Piranha”, the secret Santa gift exchange, pulling each other’s hair in church, washing dishes, laying by the fire, letting my dog eat all the wrapping paper his heart desires, making my dad and brother try on their new outfits, and did I mention the food?  This is the second Christmas I did not get to spend with my family. I thought this year would be easier, but it hasn’t been.

There are always things that make being away from your family just a little easier.  You make the people around you your family.  Together you all eat an untraditional feast of breakfast for dinner even though you still, as tradition goes, stuff your face until your plate is empty.  You finagle the old 2 for 1 deal at the cinema and see “Les Misérables” in IMAX where the person you’re with doesn’t fall asleep during the 2.5 hour musical!  On a side note, go see “Les Misérables”.  You will love it if you are a musical fan and you will appreciate and actually like it even if you’re not.  “This is 40” is worth seeing as well.  Another way to make Christmas feel like Christmas when you are away from home and family is to play Santa Claus.  Make stockings full of goodies for your friends.  They will love the surprise when they open their doors in the morning, and you will feel the joy that comes with making some one smile.  Tell strangers “Merry Christmas”.  It makes them smile too and forces you to smile back.  Always remember to tell those you love that you love them, even if they are far away.

It’s a big deal, maybe even bigger than some of you will ever know, for me to miss Christmas, but I did what I could you make this year special.  I hope your Christmas was a special one too.  Thank you to those that spent time with me.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

12.19.12 – An Early Christmas

It’s a girl!  My cousin had her baby early this morning!  I woke up to a text at about 5 AM MST with a photo of the most precious thing I have ever seen!  The little one finally came out, and her name is Maryann or Annie for short.  Everything is exclamation points today!  I can’t believe that my cousin is a mom now, my aunt and uncle are grandparents, and my grandparents are great grandparents.  A new generation has started in my family.

The beauty of a family is that it never stops growing.  (You should see how many people come on vacation with us every summer.  The number gets bigger every year. )  That is the reason we are all here.  Our parents brought life into this world to make their family grow, and we will do the same. My cousin created life, she made that beautiful baby girl out of the love that brought her and her husband Jimmy together.  Together they created a human being!  It’s incredible!  Our family just got a little bit bigger.  Christmas came early this year :-)

12.17.12 – It’s Baby Time!

The baby is almost here!  Yup, I skipped a day because I’m that excited.  My cousin is going to have her baby today or tomorrow!  I am going to be an aunt to the most precious little thing ever.  Sandra is the oldest and probably the wisest cousin on my dad’s side of the family.  She was the first cousin to get married and now she is the first to give birth to a new life.  I just wish I was there to meet the little bugger and to support her on this journey.

To all those travelers out there.  You know how it is.  We travel because we love it.  We even take jobs that will make us travel, but it’s times like these that make the wandering life a hard one.  I will get to meet my niece or nephew in February and see what my cousin looks like as a new mommy.  I can’t wait, and I couldn’t be happy for Sandra and Jimmy.

:-)

12.9.12 – The Candle Box Fairies

Tomorrow will be my last night here at the Candlewood in Birmingham, AL.  It’s nice to be moving on to a new city, but I am sad to be leaving the little community here, especially the wine fairy.  He magically fills your glass as soon as you sit down at the table and continues to do so for the rest of the night.  You will leave the patio for a few minutes to call your dad, and when you come back, there will be a full glass of wine waiting for you.  There is always some one who will bring you a jacket when you start to shiver even though it is nowhere near Chicago cold at this time of year.  The cigarette fairy visits occasionally, and tomorrow, the steak fairy is rumored to make an appearance.  In honor of my last night at the Candlebox we will be having a party on the patio.  Steak, red potatoes, salad, wine, fairies, friends, and who knows, maybe some karaoke.

People are good.  They are so good that it sometimes makes me cry.  I got back to my room, closed the door, and shed a couple of tears for the niceness (apparently that is a word) that exists in people.  I have been smiling since the day I arrived in Birmingham.  I laugh so much that my face hurts!

I got kissed on the forehead today.  You don’t realize how nice that gesture really is, unless of corse you are female.  Then you know all about it.

12.8.12 – You Look So Much Better When You Smile

You look so much better when you oh oh oh

You look so much better when you smile, so smile.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in the holy ghost or not or if you don’t like gospel music, this song still applies to you.  Try listening to it without smiling.  It simply cannot be done.  You will most likely find yourself singing along.  Listen to the lyrics.  Everyone has been down, maybe about to give up, but instead, you look up.  You smile :-)