Reflections

My 22 day miracles and gratitude challenge ended yesterday. It was a bit all over the place, emotion wise. Loss does that. It seems to step in, sometimes, on a perfectly sunny day, scooting over on the bench next to us.

For a couple of months, I’ve actually felt kind of bad for ‘subjecting’ readers to my going on and on about how badly I miss my momma. “Who still wants to hear about this?” I thought.

I mean, it’s been 6-7 months, shouldn’t the grief be all tidied up by now? Swept up and let go like dust on the wind?

I’m not trying to rush myself through parent loss by any means. I’m trying to survive it and get through it with baby steps and grace. But, I kept thinking about the sharing it part…

Then, about a week ago, while on social media, I did a grief search. Turns out there are tons of pages about loss and grief with thousands and thousands of followers. It reaffirmed that talking about losing my momma is ok.

Does it help me? Yes.

Could it help someone else? Maybe.

My cousin sent me a poem called, “Don’t Miss Me More Than Once A Day,” by Donna Ashworth. It’s a wonderful poem and I was instantly hooked on her writing.

The author has a FB page and lately she’s been sharing about mother loss. Talk about resonating. It seems like when someone gets it, they get it.

Anyway, what I’m learning is, this loss isn’t just some separate thing I can just shut off and send down the road. This experience is part of who I am now. Has it changed me? Oh my, yes. Have I figured out all the ways yet? No, not really.

I’m still getting through the “I can’t believes”, “I miss…”, and “what in the world happeneds.” It’s like when you drop a photo album with a thousand pictures in it and they all fall out in heaps on the floor. It’s the sifting and putting them back in some sort of order, but there’s no sense to where they go.

Maybe, eventually, I’ll get this all figured out. Maybe I won’t. What I’m realizing now, 7 months into this, is that talking about it or sharing this is appropriate whenever it comes up. People went before me in mom loss and people will come after me, too. We can all learn something from each other, I bet.

Instead of a daily challenge now, I’m just going to write and share adventures. Even if and when those adventures are about my beautiful momma.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

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©️ COPYRIGHT 2022 UNMEASURED JOURNEYS

©️ ALL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY ME- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Squeezing in Summer

I haven’t been writing on here. With all this talk about fall, I’ve been squeezing in as much summer as I can.

If there was a bus between seasons, I’d be the last one on the bus to autumn. I LoVe, love, love summer!!

Every day for weeks, I’ve been in our pool. They say vitamin D can be soaked up from the sun, I’ve been getting my share, ha ha.

Labor Day came and went with a day spent bowling, a day trip to Arkansas, and two days by the pool.

And, to top off all this squeezing in summer?

A county fair yesterday!

Ferris Wheel
view from Ferris Wheel
these made me laugh!
sunset at the fair
see all those boxes? potatoes!
those potato boxes belong here
yum!!!

We rode the carnival rides. On one, for some reason, I laughed the entire ride! I could not stop laughing!!

this ride made me laugh!

We watched the demolition derby, too. It’s crazy how those cars get all banged up!

loved that a car was pink!
love Ferris Wheels at night

We had a wonderful time! In the next few weeks, there are two more fairs we are going to. Take a few steps backwards Fall, we’re not quite done with summer yet! Most are, of course, but we aren’t. Ha ha.

Hope you have a great day!

Jessica

Such a Beautiful Day

A trip around the yard this morning, shows it’s such a beautiful day.

the sun is shining
the sunflowers are blooming
the crepe myrtles are
wearing their Monday best

The kittens are awake and showing off all of their cuteness.

Millie on the left, Ruby on the right
Squealer in front, Blackjack in back
Millie and Squealer

Tonight some friends are coming over for a Mom’s Night Out- Swim and Chat. I fancied the name all up for social media, ha ha. Basically, friends are coming over and we’re going to talk, eat, and swim.

sunlight and circles on the pool this morning

I’m excited to see them. Some I haven’t seen in a couple months and one I haven’t seen in a couple years.

Life gets busy. Seems like everyone is doing their own things. Putting an evening on pause once in a while is good for the soul.

We’re having a potluck. I got stuff for yummy sandwiches, fruits and dip, a veggie tray, and my son and I are making a dessert made with graham crackers, pudding and whipped cream.

I already decided that I’m not going to do a lot of cleaning today or get in a huge frenzy about the house. Call it the grace of relaxing into life. Plus, I read an Erma Bombeck article recently, where she mentioned letting people come over even if the carpet was stained.

We don’t have carpet, but I get the point. Just invite them over, is what my heart says to do. No need to get stuck in the details of things being spotless and perfect.

Chances are, they’ll see all the beauty in this day like I see it, and won’t even notice the un-mopped floor. Ha ha!!

Thanks for being here. Hope your day is beautiful, too!

Jessica

©️ Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

Lake and Bowling Time

Something pretty cool happened to me recently.

Really?

Seems like all I’ve been doing is writing about loss and grief.

Here’s the thing I’m learning though. I can go through a loss AND live my life, too. Just because I had a loss, it doesn’t mean I’m *required* to be sad all the time.

In fact, I’m not sad all the time. Sometimes? Yes. All the time? No. Remember my post, Switchbacks and Waves? Sadness and grief come in spurts.

So, back to the pretty cool thing.

My husband bowls. In fact, he’s a really good bowler. Have you ever seen those bowlers who can throw a ball, it almost hugs the gutter, then it suddenly curves over and knocks down all the pins?

He can do that.

He has been bowling in leagues for about nine years. One or two nights a week, he bowls.

Me?

I only bowl maybe once a month, when we go as a family. My balls are usually in the gutter, ha ha, and when I do bowl, it’s straight down the middle, I hope.

Several weeks ago my husband super gigantically surprised me when he asked me if I would consider being in a league.

Like, a bowling league. I about fell over! I was so honored that he asked.

Then, approximately two seconds later, the questions started kicking in:

  • Wait, I’m not very good! Who would want to be on MY team?
  • Is there pressure? Because I don’t want any pressure if I’m not doing well.
  • How long is it? What if we sign up and it’s too long?
  • Me? Are you sure? (Is what I was thinking)

Turns out he does want me on his team, there is no pressure because it’s just for fun, and it is long, thirty six weeks, but it’s one night a week.

Heck yeah, sign me up.

We live in a tiny town and to get to the bowling alley we like, it’s fifty miles one way. So, about a hundred miles one night a week. Sounds like a lot, but it’s totally worth it.

It’ll be family time, a chance to make new friends, and it’s something we can do together.

Bonus?

It’s by a lake!!!

Last night we went up there and bowled. I did pretty decent and my husband and son did great. We even got to meet some of the league bowlers we’ll be bowling with in a couple weeks. It was really fun.

About sunset, we went over to the lake. My goodness, it was so beautiful. Sooooooo beautiful. And, so quiet. We just sat there and watched the fish jump and the sky change.

Afterwards, we found a really nice Mexican restaurant and had a wonderful meal.

Tuesday, the first week of September, OUR league starts. Our! How cool is that?

Me, is included in that our!

Even with gutter balls and very up and down scores, I get to be on a team!

I am so excited!

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

the lake near the bowling alley
Clearwater Lake
unofficial angel wings at sunset
our lake view last night

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

Iowa and Esther

We are back home in Missouri and absolutely loved our trip. It’s interesting how visiting family can lead to different places on the road.

Four years ago, my husband’s job moved us from southwest Missouri to the opposite corner of our state. The significance? It added three extra travel hours to my parent’s house in northwest Missouri, which changed it from five hours to eight.

We just spent eleven days on roads and land I’ve been going to all my life. We passed through a couple of big cities, but my heart belongs to the rural backroads of tiny places that are nearly a blip on a map.

Being at my parent’s house, brought me a sweet peace I can hardly explain. It didn’t make the missing of my momma any less, but it certainly did bring me lots of comfort seeing her things and being in a space she loved dearly.

On my other blog, Jeweled Again by Jessica, I have been sharing posts about my aunt Karen and my great aunt Esther. Esther is the reason we left dad’s and headed for Iowa.

Esther is my momma’s aunt and she is 103 years old. Esther has been an important part of my life for many years. When she turned 100, my boy and I made an eleven hour trip to go to her birthday party.

The pandemic canceled her 101st birthday party, but we were at her 102nd. This year we were late to her 103rd. It was in May, we arrived in August, but you know what? She didn’t care about that. She welcomed us with a huge smile and kind words.

Esther lives in Spirit Lake, Iowa and moved there in 1952. She and her husband rented out lake cottages back then and had their cottages open for 26 years.

If you’ve ever been to northwest Iowa in the winter, you’ll understand how cold and snowy their winters are. Her and her husband started going to Texas in the 1960’s winters. While there, she started doing ceramics.

You know how much I love and miss my momma, well, Esther is the same. I think my momma’s loss touched her in ways I may not quite comprehend. She was 27 when my momma was born in a rural Iowa farmhouse. Of all the people still on this planet, she knew my momma the longest.

I think us being together, soothed both of our hearts. And, family does that sometimes, you know? When the missing of someone is so huge, it seems like just seeing someone else who knew them too, can help.

Esther’s husband passed away over 40 years ago and a year ago March, she lost Patty, her only daughter. She and Patty lived together in a story book type house since 1979. After Patty passed, Esther decided to sell their house and moved into a very nice assisted living place. That’s where we visited her.

Esther loves frogs, this is outside her door
a shelf of Esther’s things, outside her door
cookies my son and I got from a bakery for Esther’s assisted living nurses and staff
where Esther and Patty lived
from 1979 to 2021
pictures on the top shelf are of her 103 birthday, the third shelf down middle one is her wedding picture
the pillow we sent Esther for her birthday

What a heart-filling trip we had. Spending time with my dad, yard sailing with my sister, seeing Kate, Diann, and Karen on the way to Spirit Lake, being with Esther, AND making special traveling memories with my son was exactly what I needed.

Here’s a link if you’d like to read about Esther’s art and see some more pictures. https://jeweledagainbyjessica.com/2022/08/07/esther-and-her-art/.

Thanks so much for reading.

Jessica

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

Scenic Storm Lake

There are places, you know, where we just feel like we are home. One of those, for me, is Iowa. My roots run deep in the rural farmlands and in the towns that were built around cornfields, country schools, and churches.

For the last four days, my boy and I have driven hundreds of miles through the Iowa countryside in search of lakes, water parks, and family we haven’t seen in quite some time.

Oh my, have we had fun!

Our first stay was at scenic Storm Lake. It’s a small town, with a welcoming feel. We had two nights at the King’s Pointe Resort. It sits right next to the lake, so the lobby has a beautiful view.

King’s Pointe Resort, Storm Lake Iowa

It has a restaurant and one evening I had grilled walleye and shrimp. Yum!

vacation food

Besides lake access, there are also indoor and outdoor water parks. We went down this orange slide!

water slide fun

There are some really cool parks around town. One has a really nice veterans memorial and a huge anchor from a 1943 ship.

anchor Storm Lake Iowa

We loved the Living Heritage Tree Museum. My favorite one was a tree that is a descendant of Johnny Appleseed’s tree.

tree museum
apple tree

Our time in Storm Lake was pretty amazing. The lodging, food, scenery, downtown bakery, water fun, and sunsets were definitely memory makers.

sunset at King’s Pointe Resort in Iowa

After Storm Lake, we stayed in the Spirit Lake/Okoboji area. Love those towns, too

Hope you’re having a wonderful Saturday.

Jessica

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

A Stop at Irish Wilderness

My momma’s life celebration was at the end of May, and I hadn’t seen my dad since. You want to talk about homesick!! Oh my, I’ve been homesick….

Timing finally worked out, so yesterday, my kiddo and are started our 8 hour drive to my parent’s house in my hometown.

Near the beginning of our journey, we stopped at a place called, ”Irish Wilderness.” We’ve been there a few times, but I guess I forgot how amazing being there is.

Gorgeous isn’t a big enough word for that place. Stunning is more like it.

When I stepped out of my truck yesterday, there was zero noise. I mean, none! I tried to hear a sound, but couldn’t. Absolutely nothing.

I can’t even begin to tell you how freeing and healing that ”no noise” was. I mean, a couple of Saturdays ago, I was crying about my momma loss at that restaurant. Restaurants are busy places. There is noise.

My own house has been a haven for healing, its pretty quiet there, but the Irish Wilderness definitely knows how to do quiet. I’m pretty sure, if there was a trophy for quiet, it would win.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

trail sign at Irish Wilderness
clouds on the water at Irish Wilderness
path to the trailhead at Irish Wilderness
bliss at Irish Wilderness
lily pads on Camp Five Pond Irish Wilderness

It’s funny how ’homesick’ can lessen a bit, when we step into nature. Irish Wilderness has a calm and serene feel. If you are in the Van Buren Missouri area, it’s definitely worth a stop.

We made it to my dad’s last night. It’s great to be home.

Thank you for reading!

Jessica

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

An Anything but Typical Sunday

Yesterday was a typical summer Sunday afternoon, until it wasn’t. And, when I say wasn’t, I mean things got weird.

About noon, a friend and his son came over to swim. It was sunny, about 90 degrees, and there was a breeze that came and went.

Around 3:30 pm, they left and we went inside. Around 5:00 pm, we heard a huge noise outside. I was in the basement and could not figure out what would’ve been so loud, so I went to look.

In my backyard towards the pool, I saw a chair cushion floating. Hmm, that seemed strange. Then, it started registering that something had happened.

I screamed for my husband, and when he got outside, we were in absolute shock! The pool shed was leveled. All of our patio furniture was IN the pool. The glass top tables had shattered and the glass was inside the pool and all over the sidewalk.

ON a sunny day. A sunny day, in JULY…

We haven’t had rain for over a month. There wasn’t any chance of rain yesterday. There was some clouds, but it wasn’t cloudy.

Apparently, there was some kind of wind storm that kicked up in our back yard. Not rain. Not hail. No clouds. No lightning. Nothing that indicated a storm. It was sunny and hot.

Two separate neighbors came to check on us. They’d heard loud winds, looked our way, and saw our pool shed break into pieces and was swirling in the air, up as high as our house roof!

One said something similar about the pool floats, that they were way up in the air! One landed on our roof and the others landed across the road.

Our swing and hammock were thrown into the northwest corner of the yard, near the pool shed.

Our solar pool cover that had been sitting next to the pool shed, was east of the yard, past the fence.

Weird, right?

Even weirder? It was only in our yard and only back by the pool. Side yard is fine. Front yard is fine. No neighbors have damage.

Except for our back yard area, it didn’t look like anything happened.

We spent a couple hours cleaning up. My husband got the furniture out of the pool and swept up glass that was in the pool. I swept up glass on the sidewalk, picked up toys and pieces of the pool shed.

We’ve never heard of anything like this. I’ve tried researching it and can’t find any information about anything like it. I looked on the National Weather Service for our area’s Facebook page and there were no weather disturbances yesterday…

There is something called dust devils, which form from the ground and can be destructive like tornadoes, but the neighbors said they heard the wind in the trees and there isn’t really any dirt fields around here.

There’s also something called water spouts that can form over water. I researched to see if they can form over swimming pools. I saw one instance of it happening over a pool in the southeast US.

Neither of those makes much sense here. Unless there’s something of a combo pack of some sort, ha ha.

The take away- sometimes things happen that we may just not understand. I have a very math/logic mind, so seeing our yard upside down, puzzles me and makes me want to know why.

However, there’s lots of good news:

  1. we weren’t in the pool when it happened
  2. the pool isn’t damaged where the furniture and glass was
  3. the pool pump is still working
  4. all the electrical components of the pool still work
  5. our trucks that were close to the pool shed aren’t damaged
  6. my neighbors saw it, came to see if we were ok, and told us what they saw- if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t have known what in the world happened
  7. our pets are fine, the house is fine
  8. we are counting blessings

I’ll keep searching to see if I can figure out what that was. Maybe it’s just some weather phenomenon that hasn’t been described yet.

I don’t know what it was, but I can tell you this, I grew up where there were a lot of tornado warnings. My dad was a tornado spotter. I spent many days in Iowa at my grandparent’s farm when we would have to sit in the cellar, waiting out tornadoes.

But, I never thought there’d be some tornado-thingy in my back yard, 10 hours south of there, in the summer, on a clear day, on a Sunday afternoon.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate that.

Jessica

furniture and glass in the pool
swing and hammock in the nw corner
pool shed leveled
pool float on roof

Kangaroo Time

Van Buren is a small town in southeast Missouri. The population is 1,241 (in 2020). But, sometimes small towns can offer big things to do.

Tuesday my son and I drove about 40 miles to visit Van Buren and do some of those fun things.

There’s the Jolly Cone restaurant with its outside walk up and order counter. We went there for ice cream, tater tots, and french fries. Yum.

The Landing is a hotel and restaurant that offers float trips down the Current River. They had a fire in 2021, but are rebuilding and open. We didn’t float or stay there this time, but we have in the past. Here is their link is you’d like any information. https://thelandingcurrentriver.com

We went to Big Spring, which I wrote about in my last 2 posts. It’s a wonderful natural spring with 2 hiking trails, some buildings the CCC built in the 1930’s, a campground, picnic pavilions, and access to the Current River.

Another place we went is called Missouri Down Under Adventure Zoo. It is a small zoo, right outside of town. The big draw is the kangaroos. They also have gem panning, a cave, a quarry dig, other animals, and some amazing tree carvings.

The kangaroos are in a huge fenced enclosure and you get to go right in there with them. The day we went it was 102 degrees, so shade was a priority for most of them.

We did see one over at the water tank. I was able to give it a snack out of my cup.

snack time
drink time
shade time
kangaroo time
tree carvings
gem panning
that hole is the cave entrance
inside the cave

We had a great time. They also have lemurs, baby goats, rabbits, birds, snakes, porcupines, and a few other animals. Their website is https://www.missouridownunder.com if you’d like to see the hours or ticket information.

We had a great day in Van Buren on Tuesday with some hiking time, ice cream time, and kangaroo time.

Hope you have a great day!

Jessica

Big Spring Dining Hall

We live in an area filled with natural springs, Forest Service land, hiking trails, and history. What an amazing place to be! Three miles from our house is the Current River.

It is clear and cold, which makes it a popular area year round for swimming, fishing, boating, and floating.

Tuesday, we were about forty miles from home at Ozark National Scenic Riverways near Van Buren Missouri, which is also on the Current River.

Big Spring is the natural spring that I wrote about yesterday. The area itself is full of some pretty cool history. Back in the 1930’s, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built the roads and buildings there.

near Big Spring, Van Buren, MO
sign at Big Spring about the CCC
sign with the history of Big Spring

One of my favorite buildings there is the dining hall. Set back off the road, in the trees, it just feels like it was an important place many years ago. Stately, is the word that comes to mind, with its rock walls and river view.

dining hall at Big Spring

The windows are amazing. I’ve never been inside, but they offer a glimpse in and a glimpse out, via nature’s reflections.

a peek into the dining hall from a window
reflections at Big Spring dining hall
a glimpse in, the lights are on
dining hall window reflections

Back in its day, it must have been a busy place. While we were there, one other car came, but I was the only one at the building. Back in the 1930’s though, I bet it was bustling with people. I love that the building is still standing after nearly 90 years.

Here is a great link from the National Park Service about the history of the CCC and Big Spring:

https://www.nps.gov/ozar/learn/historyculture/ccc-2.htm

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Big Day at Big Spring

One time my parents came to visit us and we took them to a couple of local springs. My momma LOVED water. I mean loved!! Oceans, rivers, lakes, pools, and mountain streams, water was her thing.

Yesterday, my son and I went back to one of the places we took her. Near Van Buren, MO is a place called Big Spring.

near Van Buren, MO

It is a beautiful, powerful natural spring, tucked back in the corner of the rocks, by a small cave. I took a video so you could hear it.

Big Spring, Van Buren Missouri

When we were there in 2018 with my parents, my momma took a picture of me that she absolutely loved. It was me, looking at the spring.

picture of me my momma took in
September 2018 at Big Spring

To try to recreate it, I had my son take a picture of me yesterday. Funny thing is, I had no idea, but I was actually wearing the same blue long sleeve shirt!

me at Big Spring July 2022

Behind the spring is a set of rock steps that go up and lead to a short trail. It was 102 degrees yesterday and luckily, the trail was shaded.

one of two trails at Big Spring
trail sign
looking up from trail
looking down from trail

The trail just sort of ends. You can turn around or walk across a bridge and back to the parking lot. We chose the bridge because it’s new and it took a couple of years to build. It was our first time to walk across it.

view back towards Big Spring
from the new bridge

If you are ever near Van Buren, MO, Big Spring is definitely worth a stop. There is a campground, access to the Current River, an old CCC camp as well.

We really enjoyed our day, despite the heat. Our adventures didn’t end there, but that’s for another post.

Thanks for reading. Hope you have a wonderful day.

Jessica

My Favorite Picture of the Day

My gosh, I LOVE being a mom. Is there anything better in the entire universe??

Two days ago, my son and I went for a drive. A local lake was calling our name, so we ventured out there. It was a place we’d taken my momma to when she came to visit once.

Except for a million gnats, mosquitoes, and some bull frogs, we were the only ones there. Sometimes there, the water is so still, that the reflection is pristine. This time the water was moving a bit, but it was still pretty.

I took some pictures, but wanted to show you my favorite picture of the day. No explanation needed on why, I suppose.

Holding our kid’s hands is a gift all on it’s own. The scenery was a bonus.

Hope your day is wonderful.

Jessica

my favorite picture of the day
Ripley Lake
reflections on Ripley Lake

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys