Tag Archives: family

Pressure Cooker For Sale


I’m selling my pressure cooker.  Ya wanna buy it?  6-quart Elite something something something – $40.  I paid $80.

I suppose you want to know WHY I am selling it.  It’s hard to admit, but I’m a pressure cooker drop out.  Except I really can’t blame the pressure cooker – it worked fine and cooked everything exactly the way it was supposed to…I think.

And there is the crux of the matter.  I am not really sure how food is supposed to look or taste when it comes out of the cooker.  I watched a few million infomercials and they just dumped all the ingredients in and assured the audience that even an idiot can make fabulous meals with it.  I must be some special kind of idiot then.

My first attempt was chicken tenderloins, and I threw in a can of cream of mushroom soup and some cut up potatoes and some butter and seasoning.  I couldn’t get it to pressurize so I added more water, JUST LIKE IT SAID TO DO IN THE TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE.  Still wouldn’t build up pressure.  Added more water.  Do you see where this is going?  Finally, I figured out I had to push down on the top to get a good seal and I finally had pressure.  Yay!

Only by now, I no longer had chicken with potatoes and cream of mushroom soup.  I had chicken and potatoes in opaque water with tiny gross black thingies in it and some weird ass film over everything.  And the potatoes were mushy.  And the chicken looked diseased.  Family reaction?  “Oh my God….”

Although it was not visually appealing, it didn’t taste horrible.  Like, no vomiting ensued after placing a forkful in our mouths.  So, even though Dave begged me to return it, I decided to watch a few more infomercials, and give it another chance.

The 2nd attempt involved spoon steaks.  Usually, I buy the ones that are marinated in the burgundy pepper stuff and even though I know it’s probably full of chemicals, they are quite delicious.  Unfortunately, my brain was on vacation when I was at the store because I returned home with plain, non-chemical infused spoon steaks.  Boring.

But I knew from watching the last infomercial that if I just browned them on the sauté feature and added some organic chicken broth, I would have a miracle dinner in less than 15 minutes.  Liars.  But the presentation was MUCH better than the last time.  Family reaction?  “You don’t have to make this again.”

Despite my family shoving the pressure cooker back in the box, taping the receipt to the top, and sticking it in my car, I decided I just hadn’t hit on the right dish yet.  I unpacked it and snuck it back in the cupboard at midnight, and did some major pressure cooking shopping the next day.

I bought a lemon pepper pork roast.  I bought pork chops.  I bought a stuffed pork roast.  Pork was obviously on sale.  I brought my precious dinner ideas home and nestled them in the freezer until the next Sunday dinner.  This time, it was going to be perfect.

Sunday came and I decided on the lemon pepper roast.  It sounded so delicious!  I made sure it was thoroughly thawed (say that three times fast) and browned it just like I did the spoon steaks.  I added 1 cup of chicken broth, just like the spoon steaks.  I figured after all, the spoon steaks would have been much better if I had used the marinated ones, so this pork roast was going to be fantastic.

When it was finished, I pulled out the roast and set it on a plate.  It looked…grey.  It didn’t look crispy, even though I browned it.  It didn’t look like “the other white meat” like it does when I cook it on the grill or in the slow cooker.  Hmmmmm.

I cut into it, and it was definitely tender.  Still grey, though.  My daughter saw my hesitation (never let your children sense your fear in the kitchen.  One funny look from you and they won’t eat broccoli for five years), and wrinkled her nose at it.  “Is that even done?” she asked.

“Sure.  Sure it’s done,” I said.  I poked at it.  It was a little pink in the center.  Grey and pink.  Not good food colors.  I cut towards the end, pretty sure those pieces would be done at least.  I took a bite.  I smiled.  I chewed.  I smiled bravely while I chewed, and then my eyes watered and my brain screamed “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY SPIT IT OUT!”  I swallowed.

“It’s bad, isn’t it,” said Dave.

“No…it’s not..baaaaad,” I drawled.

Dave took a bite and, to his credit, actually swallowed it.  “Kinda rubbery, dontcha think?” he said.  My daughter was in the process of taking her first bite when she heard his verdict and immediately beelined it for the kitchen sink where she made her opinion known with gagging.

Not only was it rubbery (although a tender rubbery.  Like, not hard to chew but still rubbery.  Very odd sensation.) but it didn’t taste like lemon pepper or pork or a combination of lemon pepper and pork or even just lemon or just pepper or just pork.  It tasted like chemicals, only not in a good way.  More like in a “I’m eating rubberized Lysol” way.

So now, we have an entire lemon pepper pork roast bagged up in the freezer until we decide what to do with it.  I can’t throw it away because of all the starving children in China and Dave won’t let me pawn it off on our son (“Really, honey.  I think you have given him enough fodder for the therapist.”) so it will just sit in the freezer until one day Dave throws it away when I’m not looking.

Meanwhile, I have a pressure cooker for sale.  Only used three times!


PS.  I am fully aware that my experiences have more to do with the cook and not so much the cooker, so no need to point that out.

PPS.  If you DO point it out, expect some rubber pork roast on your porch.

PPSS.  This is why I eat cake.  Cake would never do this to me.





It’s All About That Cake

The first time Dave and I went to Costco, we saw it. The holy grail of cakes. It was huge, even by Costco standards – a Devil’s Tower of dark chocolate shavings over creamy chocolate frosting, covering what we assumed and fervently hoped was rich chocolate cake layered with additional chocolate frosting. It was called the All American Chocolate Cake. And by golly, it was our patriotic duty to buy it.

Except…it was, as I referenced earlier, gigantic. We bent over it for a better look, mesmerized, our breath fogging the plastic dome. Wondering. Dreaming. Drooling. It was just so BIG. Glorious, yes, but who was going to eat all that cake?

Granted, we don’t normally ask that question in our house. We know who is going to eat all that cake. But just because a person CAN do something doesn’t mean they SHOULD do something. I would not normally apply this rule to cake, but in this case, even I had to make an exception.

After about 5 minutes, Dave lifted the cake. “Holy hell,” he muttered. He set it down and it was my turn. Holy hell is right. It felt like it weighed about 10 pounds. We needed a family event to justify that bad boy, patriotic duty or no.

Reluctantly, we walked away. We went and grabbed our 50 pack of toilet paper (because, as you know, we are full of shit), a 20 pack of paper towels, a 100 pound bag of potato chips, an electric fireplace, a sofa, a 10 pack of 5’ x 7’ rugs, a 20 gallon jug of olives, a 500 piece set of pots and pans, a couple of lawn chairs, and a kayak. Then we circled back to the cake.

“I don’t think we can do it,” said Dave.

“Really? I think we can.”



“Nobody in our house needs to eat this much cake.”


About once a month, we return to Costco and re-evaluate the All American Chocolate Cake. We lift it, gaze at it’s chocolatey beauty, and say things like: “Maybe we should just buy it.” “No, that thing is huge. It will take us a week to eat it.” “Yeah, maybe you’re right.” “Wow, it really is heavy. Here, feel how heavy this is.” “Wow – yes it weighs a ton.” “You’re drooling.” “Oops – sorry.” “So, are we walking away?” “Yes.” “For sure?” “Yes – for sure.”

Over the next year, we waited patiently for an All American Chocolate Cake worthy family event. Not Easter. Not Memorial Weekend. Not the 4th. Not Labor Day. Not Thanksgiving. Not Christmas. Not when Cousin Eddy had the plate removed from his head. Not when the raptors had babies in Grandpa Hammond’s sock drawer. Not the Festival of Shirtless Jackman.

Enter November 13th, 2015. My long-lost sister would be home from Arizona, and this was the night we were planning our main get together before sending her off again. We would have 12 people there, and one of those people was my brother, who has the cake capacity of 2 sumo wrestlers. It was the perfect storm.

I was pretty excited walking into Costco and grabbing that 10 pounds of chocolatey heaven and setting it in my cart. I floated to the check out and gleefully rubbed my hands together before setting it on the belt. Finally, it was mine.

The checkout guy acted like he had never seen the All American Chocolate Cake before. “Wow, this is a big cake! It looks delicious! Did you ever have it before? It’s so BIG! Who is going to eat all that cake? Do you need any help? I love cake! Wow, I wish I could taste it. It looks so good! Are you sure you don’t need any help getting your things to the car?” Suddenly I wanted to stab that cotton-headed ninny-muggins in the hand with a fork and hiss at him to get away from My Precious, dammit.

By some miracle, the cake made it all the way to my house and then all the way to my mom’s the next day, without the top “accidentally” popping off and “Gee, as long as it’s open maybe I should test it to be sure it’s not poisoned” happening.

But then, at my mom’s – disaster struck. My brother-in-law Pete was not coming. My brother-in-law Greg was not coming. And my brother had to work and so he was not coming. I was short 3 brothers and 2 sumo wrestlers in the cake eating department. No problem, I told myself. We’re professionals. We can handle this cake.

Then my mom put out snacks. And dinner was really really good. And everyone was getting just a tiny bit full. Still no problem. When the going gets tough, the Conard’s eat cake.

My entire family loves cake – it’s not just me. My mom and my sister Celeste are probably the only two who really have any sort of “cake limit” and will usually only eat a skinny slice (this would be considered a “normal slice” to the majority of the human race) and the rest of us belly up to the cake bar for a big corner piece, preferably with a giant frosting flower, or if it’s a round cake – a 2” slice with an ice cream chaser.

I cut into the cake, and removed what I thought was a very generous piece, only to see the cake literally meld itself back together. Okay, it didn’t really do that, but wow – it barely made a difference. So I kept hacking away – everyone getting a slice of cake the size of Texas including my mom and sister, plus a scoop of ice cream. We still had 2/3’s of the cake left.

The cake was delicious, and we all ate to bursting. But here’s the kicker. When it came time to divvy up the leftovers, nobody wanted to take any cake home. Not even me. Every bite of that cake was going to add 10 immovable pounds to our hips and Lord only knew what it would do to our thighs. I mean, it was a Costco cake – it did everything big and our genetically thunderous thighs did not need any help in that department.

Dave and I brought it home, our poor, sad, unwanted All American Chocolate Cake. We did our best to give it an honorary burial-by-eating, but in the end, we weren’t up to the challenge. It lived the rest of it’s life on the counter, slowly drying to death until we finally buried it in the trash.

It was a good cake. A chocolatey cake. It was heavenly and delicious and I failed it. Apparently even I have a cake limit. It was a crushing blow to my cake confidence and a sad end to our All American Chocolate Cake dream. A sad end indeed.

It took me a week of grieving before I was able to step foot in Costco again. I walked thru the bakery section and couldn’t bear to see the new All American Chocolate Cakes just waiting for a family to love them. I turned away and my eyes fell upon…

A Costco Pumpkin Pie. And it was huge.

Pietistically yours,

PS – Can you name all of the movies I referenced in my post? It wasn’t intentional at first but I seem to love movie references as much as I love puns.

PPS.  The pie was just as delicious as the cake.

PPSS.  Mmmmmmmm….pie….cake…pie….cake…pie…cake….

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: The Number One. Oh Yeah, And I’m BAAAAAACK.

I’m back…sort of. I have a very full agenda yet for the month of June – a mini family reunion, a wedding shower, Father’s Day, a funeral, a wedding, and the MRC Bike Ride. But, I miss my blog family and I miss entertaining my tiny masses with weird and funny stories.

I decided the best way to come back is to participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, and let my photos do the talking. Because, you know, I never have anything to say.

One picture of me holding One bottle of Sam Adams while on my work trip to Boston.

That's MR. Adams to you!

Sam Adams is a LIE!

My last day I was able to take part of the Freedom Trail tour, and learned from the tour guide that Samuel Adams probably never let anyone call him “Sam” (That’s Mr. Adams to you!), wasn’t likely a big beer drinker, and apparently ran his father’s brewery into the ground. I found that a delightful twist of ironic history.

One patient husband, waiting for his wife to come off the delicious drugs ala colonoscopy. I have no idea why I took his picture.

My wife is wasted.

My wife is wasted.

One Grandma Conard white iris.

Good morning, Grandma!

Good morning, Grandma!

Last year, my Cuz-in-Law kindly sent me a package of day lilly and iris bulbs, some of which were descended from irises originally in my grandparents garden (whites and purples). Last spring I planted them down by the pond because we weren’t ready to put anything by the house yet, so we transplanted them this spring next to the house. I didn’t think any of them would even bloom this year so these were a happy surprise.

When my grandmother was a young woman, she became very ill and lost all the pigment in her skin and color in her hair from the trauma. Her pale skin was soft and delicate, very much like the petal of an iris. Despite her complexion, my grandmother was a big, beautiful, strong woman who loved to travel and swim and garden and taught me how to fish with a bamboo fishing pole and she squashed all the spiders in the cottage. Yeah. She was badass. Ironically, if she read that, she would yell at me for swearing.

One very wet bike after one very wet bike ride called the Birky Challenge 67, a ride honoring a fallen police officer whose badge number was 67.

At least it's clean now.

At least it’s clean now.

We were signed up to do the 67 miles, but it was pouring rain that morning so we wussed out and only did 40. That was the longest, wettest, windiest, hilliest 40 miles ever created in the entire history of mankind. In the entire history of the world. The universe, even. At one point, my riding partner asked me “Why didn’t we just do 20?” and I said, “Apparently because we are stupid.”

One pissed off anti-social turtle who just wants to be left alone so she can lay her eggs and read a trashy novel on the beach. This is in no way a reference to me or my current work load because I have a brilliant sun-shiney attitude and love love love the busy season at work.



One memorial tree planting of one dwarf blue spruce, in honor of my sister in law Jen who passes away in March, 2014 (the weekend we moved).

It's the Jen-Tree

It’s the Jen-Tree

We were unable to plant anything last summer, so this was a bit over due. A tough, hardy tree that should adapt well to wherever it’s planted, with soft, kind needles that will offer sanctuary to birds and critters – very much like our Jen.

For more Fun Fotos, all centered on the theme of “One”, head on over to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Freakishly Busy Sue

You Are My Sunshine…

You are my sunshine,

My only sunshine.

You make me happy,

When skies are gray!

You’ll never know dear,

How much I love you,

Please don’t take

my sunshine away.

De Pere, WI

I know I promised you all a story today, but I could not resist Cee’s photo challenge this week, as her theme is the chorus from the song, ‘You Are My Sunshine”.

If our family has a ‘song’, this would surely be it.

It’s not like we were the Von Trapp Family Singers or anything.  My mom is seriously the only one who can carry a tune.  The rest of us attract packs of howling dogs and villagers with torches and pitchforks.

But this song – we all sing.  Loudly with gusto and false vibrato, like drunks in a bar, consequences be damned.

We sang it often when I was growing up, my dad especially. He is tone-deaf, and sings everything in pretty much the same monotone bass – except this one, because he always sings it with love.

He sang it to my mom.  He sang it to us kids.  We sang it back.

My favorite memory is of all of us singing it together in the old blue station wagon on the way to the lake.  This was back when kids didn’t need to be in seat belts, and my older sisters were sitting in the back seat, and my brother and I were in what was known as the “way back”.  We were flying down Pines Road – the last paved road before getting to the cottage – and we were pretty jacked up.


Now, Pines Road had a few small hills in it and was famous for one in particular.  The Belly Catcher.


We hit the belly-catcher hill at top speed, my sisters’ butts lifting off their seats with the g-force and my brother and I airborne in the back”




We grew up and moved away but the singing didn’t stop.  We sang it in our own families, with our own children.  And now they sing it to theirs.  But no matter which of us is singing, my heart always hears it in my dad’s growly bass.

So here, in honor of my dad, my mom and the rest of my family, is my interpretation of “You are my sunshine”, in photographs:


You are my sunshine…

My only sunshine...

My only sunshine…

You make me happy...

You make me happy…

When skies are gray...

When skies are gray…

You'll never know dear...

You’ll never know dear…

How much I love you...

How much I love you…

Please don't take my sunshine away.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

For more fun entries, visit Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!

Keep singing!

All Her Bags Are Packed

All her bags are packed,

She’s ready to go.

I want to tell my sister “no”

I can’t stand the thought of

saying goodbye.


She’s leaving the place

where she was born

Arizona is waitin’

it’s blowin’ its horn

Already we’re so lonesome

we could cry.


My sister is moving to Arizona, and my first intention with today’s post was to completely re-write Leaving On A Jet Plane but that was too cheesy even for me.  And ya’ll know I can handle a lot of cheese.

Instead, I just decided to be frank with you.  Well, to be “Sue” actually.  Not “Frank”. HA!  See, I’m so sad, all the Belgian is leaking out of me.  You know – making stupid jokes.  That obviously have to be explained.  Because nobody else gets them, probably not even other Belgians.  Except my family, and I guess that’s the point.

We get each other.  We share ancient history, DNA, good times, and bad jokes.  My sister is moving and my heart is broken.

I understand families move all the time.  Sisters, brothers, parents, children – all move miles away from each other.  Hell, we wouldn’t even be here if Arnold VerStagen hadn’t traveled from Holland to settle in Little Chute, Wisconsin way back in 1850.  It took him two months, mostly by boat.  Now that’s a long damn drive.

And I know she wouldn’t be moving if it wasn’t right for her.  She’s not willy-nilly, my sister.  But I just need to be selfish for one paragraph.

I don’t want her to go.  She taught me how to sway my babies and how to spend oodles of money on beads.  She brought me to Bjorklunden where I found a piece of my heart I didn’t know was missing, and she believed in me when I told her I sat and talked with Jesus on a rock on the beach.  And it is entirely her fault that I have two high maintenance yorkie-poos that poop on my carpet.  And she’s my sister.  And my friend.  And I love her.  And I’m going to miss her like crazy.

There.  My selfishness is done.  Follow your heart, and go with all my blessings and love, Celeste.  Do yoga in the sun and dance with Myra in the kitchen and drink coffee with Hugh on the deck.  Call often and send us pictures of bare toasty toes while we shovel snow.  Expect a busload of frost-bitten family members soon after.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26



PS. Arizona – just a heads up – we’re sending you one of our greatest jewels.  You best take care of her.

She’s leavin’

on a jet plane

Don’t know when she’ll

be back again

But probably Christmas….


Matching blue sweaters.  Coincidence or weird sister thing?  You decide.

Matching blue sweaters. Coincidence or weird sister thing? You decide.


The Jesus Rock - Shores of Lake Michigan near Bjorklunden

The Jesus Rock – Shores of Lake Michigan near Bjorklunden

PPSS:  As blue as my heart is, this is also my contribution to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge:  Blue

“You Paid How Much For A Pedometer?”

Hi. My name is Sue. And I’m a FitBit Addict.

We recently had a family get together at my parents. We had relatives from my mom’s side in town, and we all gathered to chew the fat and catch up on everyone’s lives. During the course of the evening, I happened to fall into a conversation with my brother in law about his FitBit.

Seems everyone in my sister’s family has one, and they compete against each other each week to see who gets the most steps in. With a glint in his eye, my brother in law methodically sowed his seeds of temptation with stories of my sister walking around the driveway before bed trying to get a few more steps in to be top dog for the day. I knew he was setting me up,- I could feel the “MUST BEAT MY SIBLING” genetic factor flaring up. He sealed the deal by showing me how it synced with my phone and how you can send messages to your friends who also own FitBits.  It even has a “taunt” feature. A little family competition AND techie geekness? Take my money now.

A FitBit, for those of you not in the know, is basically a glorified pedometer. It counts steps, distance, activity minutes, and calories. You can also set up your account to have specific step and weight loss goals, and you can manually enter the amount of water you drank, extra exercise that wouldn’t be counted with the FitBit, and what you ate that day. They make fancier ones that also monitor your sleep, but I wasn’t interested in spending an extra $40 to find out what I already knew: Menopause = shitty sleep.

FitBit Zip

FitBit Zip

So now, I’m a FitBit addict. I wake up in the morning and put it on and don’t take it off until I wake up off the couch and go to bed. My dogs are exhausted from all the extra walks and I willingly accompany Dave to Menards (the local mens mall) and no longer break into tears as we troop endlessly down aisles and aisles of plywood, bolts, power tools, hoses, light fixtures, and paint. I find excuses to check on my irises down by the water and I feed the birds about 20 times a day – all those blackbirds are now too fat to fly south. I even like grocery shopping now. Okay that’s a big fat lie. But at least I get extra steps in.



I recently coerced invited one of my other sisters into hiking Potawatomi State Park with me, under the guise of “Oh, I want to hike the Ice Age Trail – it’s about 3 miles and sounds really cool. Wanna go with me?” and then proceeded to drag her down every available hitch I could find. 7 miles later, we were back to our cars, and I’m pretty sure she was ready to kill me. Good thing all the cliffs were at the beginning of the trail.

She should have thrown me off the top of the tower when she had the chance.

She should have thrown me off the top of the tower when she had the chance.

I worried about hitting my step goal during the work week because I have a desk job. Turns out a trip to the lunch room adds about 100 steps and a trip to the bathroom about 100, so if I drink 5 extra glasses of water a day, I can add over a 1000 steps just going pee. Plus having CRS disease (Can’t Remember Shit) due to menopause adds about 5000 steps a day with all the backtracking I have to do. You know, the times I walk into a room to get something, forget what it was, leave, remember again, and then walk back. Beat that you young whipper snappers.

Right now I’m about 2000 steps away from my goal. It’s 10:30 at night. So if you happen to see a woman flailing her arms at mosquitoes while walking briskly along the side of the road in the dead of night with two pairs of glowing eyes at her feet, please don’t run her over. She’s not crazy. Well, that’s the second big fat lie of the night. She IS crazy. But that’s no excuse to run her over, right? RIGHT?

See ya next week, provided none of you run me over.


PS. On a side note to this whole thing – while writing this, I got up to put the dogs out and stood there walking in place for 5 minutes while they piddled, only to turn around and see my FitBit sitting on my desk. Rat bastard!

Holes In My Heart

Okay, so I’m back. We are all moved in, and officially back to only owning one house. I was going to use this to post pictures of our new digs and tell you all about the joys of moving, but it will have to wait until next week. First I need to tell you about Jen. Jen is my sister-in-law, and she died from a pulmonary embolism the second night we were in our new house. It has been incredibly sad and such a shock to all of us, that I just couldn’t go about telling you any funny stories when all this sadness is going on inside me and the rest of my family.

When I met Dave in Mrs. Brick’s art class, I only knew I sat by a cute boy that I hoped would ask me out. I had no idea at the time that he came from a family of people who would accept and love me as one of their own. A group of people I am happy and proud to be related to, even if it’s only in marriage. Marriage or birth, they are my family and have been since the day we walked down the aisle. Before that, actually, seeing as Dave and I started dating as infants.

And not just Mom and Dad DeGroot, brother Jay and sister Wendy. But aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends – an entire new tribe. It could easily have been intimidating but I was always made to feel welcome. Jen was Jay’s wife, and has been a part of that welcoming family for the last 16 or so years. I have a hole in my heart now from the place she used to live, that I didn’t even know was occupied by her until she was gone. Now it’s just this emptiness and I want her to come back and fill it again.

I won’t hear her laugh or see her make that funny face when something struck her as off the wall or eat one of her cheesecakes or listen to one of her many stories or hear her tell Madison to stop goofing off and eat her dinner.  I won’t laugh with her over Ursala the Sea Witch or ask her what they are getting Dad for Christmas (he is the hardest person to buy for because he already has everything) or see her driving Madison to McDonald’s.

I will remember Jen as a person who didn’t take crap from anyone. Who loved her family and friends and would have done anything for them. Anything. Who loved to stamp and make handmade gifts. Who loved to go home to the farm and visit her parents and brothers. Who had strength of character and an actual backbone to stand up for what she believed was right. Who laughed often and liked to talk, which is good because I wasn’t always a great conversationalist and she made it easy for me. Someone who was generous – the first time I met her, she was helping us move to our house on Weatherstone – ironically, the one we just sold. Seriously, she comes to meet her new future in-laws on moving day – now that’s a generous heart.

Jen – I will think of you every time I cuddle under the Packer blanket you and Madison made for us, every time I pull out a bracelet to wear from the glass jar with the jelly beans stamped on it, every time I choose a necklace from the flower dish you helped Madison make, and every time I put up my Christmas decorations because so many of them are from you. This Packer season I will be cheering extra loud to make up for you. Please put in a good word for us up there.

I will try to be one of Maddie’s stand-in mom’s, but you know I don’t have a spine. I’ll try not to be the one who let’s her go base jumping or get her tongue pierced or get a tacky tattoo, but I’m not making any guarantees. But I do promise to love her, to be involved as much as she will let me, to let her know she can come to me any time. Thankfully, you have so many people who loved you, and love Madison and Jay, that they will both be surrounded with support. But it won’t be the same. They have holes in their hearts too.

When I see you again, I will throw my arms around you in a big hug. Tell you I love you and how much I missed you. And then I might kick you in the ass for leaving so early. Of course, that might get me booted out of heaven, so I might have to rethink that. Please give Amanda, Nana, Shorty, Aunt Darlene, Grandma and Grandpa DeGroot and Uncle Chuck hugs from us. And save us a spot at the big table.

Love and miss you,