Silver Lining

Perhaps the silver lining of having to move through the burial of Papa & Nana Florence was getting to enjoy some long lost quality time with our familia that lives across the country….

…until they return to their lives in Florida and Arizona, resulting in severe withdrawals felt by us Wisconsinites.

Clearly, the loss of my grandparents is immeasurable, but so is the love that is left behind… a love that flows through all of us.


Now that I’m an avid golfer, I understand that I should yell, “FORE” to warn people ahead to be on guard; to beware.

Well, that same advice holds true when I warn you that my sister is now “FOUR!”: Get out of the way.
(Unless, of course, you come bearing unicorn gifts; then you’re safe for a while.)

But G’s birthday wasn’t just magical because of the unicorns; having a party while our Florida and Arizona family was still in town was truly the icing on the cake! After all, it takes a village to celebrate this girl and all that she is becoming…

A lover of chocolate milk, lemonade, blueberry biscuits, and all things bacon.
The fangirl for McDonald’s chicken mcnuggets and strawberry shakes.
A modern Punky Brewster, who prefers to wear mismatched socks.
The ultimate tickle monster, bath bomber, and bird chaser.

My sister may struggle to pronounce s-words and confuse “before” with “after,”
but she speaks with great conviction and can also communicate with eyes that go blinkety-blink-blink.

You might get fooled by her cute little giggle or that wrinkled-nose smile…
but this version of Genesee is a “fource” to be reckoned with, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sunset Cruise

There’s just something about being on the mighty Mississippi with loved ones.

So, as Brooklyn, Codey and Lina prepare to return to Arizona in the next 48 hours, we launched the boat at the Clinton Street Bridge to make some Mississippi memories before the sun sets on our long overdue family reunion.

Globetrotters 2021 Tour

When the Harlem Globetrotters stopped in La Crosse, Wisconsin, as part of their 2021 tour, we decided to purchase tickets to give them a Goodenough-Florence-Graham-Behl-Krueger cheering section.

I watched in awe as they exuded pure athleticism and outright silliness, and I listened intently while they amplified barriers and triumphs of Black History, but one of the neatest moments was when the announcer climbed into the stands to give Genesee a much-deserved birthday shout-out!

Time flies when you’re having fun; the whole night is already a blur. Luckily, Genesee and I have our autographed basketballs to prove that we were there.

Got Blueberries?

Most Wisconsin regions aren’t favorable for growing blueberries, but lucky for us, Grandma’s friend is the owner of Sunnyvale Farm Blueberries, which is located just ten minutes away from our house! So, we woke early to beat the heat and crowds, and set out on a quest to fill buckets with fresh-picked blueberries. This wasn’t my first rodeo, but it was fun to have Genesee, Mom, Cha Cha, and Ernest along for the experience! Together, we picked enough fruit for Grandma’s blueberry pies, Grandpa’s blueberry pancakes, Dad’s blueberry smoothies, and anyone else’s blueberry anythings! But instead of heading straight home to begin blueberry creations in our kitchens, we made a stop at another kitchen: Perkins Restaurant & Bakery. Thanks for the breakfast treat, Grandma & Grandpa!

The Burial: Rest in Peace & Power

Today we gathered to celebrate the lives of our beloved Papa & Nana (Gene & Margarita Florence).

Nana left this earth 14 years ago, on July 8th, 2007 (7807… which was ironically the last 4 digits of mom’s childhood phone number). 

Mom says Nana was the best teacher, a soccer, basketball and life coach, and an incredible cook who found her way to so many hearts through their taste buds and stomachs. She was a mentor, and a superhuman kind of selfless. She was a caretaker, peacemaker, and the bridge across languages, cultures and family. Nana was the Florence Family rock, their rock and roll, their everything. She is dearly missed.

Papa departed last year, on March 21… or 321 because our grandparents must have had a thing for numeric symbolism.

Papa was a tireless provider, a workaholic, a Mr. Fix It, and a lover of dogs. He was rough around the edges but a softie in the middle. Papa was always faithful, and the embodiment of strength even though he admitted, in the end, that “dying is not for sissies.”

Our grandparents worked hard to make everything happen, to do the right thing, to give anyone the shirts off their backs. They were a compass for strong values and strived to pass down intergenerational resilience instead of trauma. They taught my mom and aunts a lot about work ethic.

Papa and Nana always said they would sleep when they’re dead. Those who fight the good fight, like they did, deserve the good rest. 

As we finally laid Nana and Papa to rest, mom reminded us that, although they physically left this world, they will live on forever in our hearts, in our memories, and in the future generations – like me and Genesee!

The world, our world, is better because they lived.

July 19, 2021 | 3:00 p.m. | Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery | Section 11, Grave 1D
Rest in peace and power, loved ones.

(Not so) Happy Acres Kampground

On the eve of laying Nana and Papa Florence to rest, we took their ashes to Happy Acres so we could have one last camping experience together. It wasn’t a happy occasion, but as family gathered around us, I started to wonder a little bit less about what becomes of the broken hearted…

That’s a Wrap

My first session of golf lessons came to a close on July 12th.

To celebrate, we kidnapped Colin for the day and night (with his parent’s permission) and embarked on a FULL day of fun.

First stop: Introducing Colin to Noodles & Company for lunch!

Next stop: Springbrook Park on the south side of La Crosse for zip-lining and splash padding!

Third stop: Sparta’s Aquatic Center, where we rode 2-person inflatable tubes down the water slide, and competed against others for the fastest time.

Fourth stop: Another park!

Fifth stop: Sparta Cinema 6 to watch The Boss Baby: Family Business

Sixth stop: Taco Bell… because tacos.

Last stop: My pillows!

Wandering Winona

I wish we could wander Winona with the Docan-Morgans every day! Even though I took a hard fall off my bike and bruised more than my ego, I would do it all over again just to make memories with them.

After pedaling around the lake, we walked to Lakeview Drive In to cool off with root beer floats and ice cream cones. Then, we worked up more sweat at the playground before finding a nearby basketball court to shoot some hoops. To bring a fun-filled day to an end, we followed our appetites to El Patron Mexican Grill & Cantina for refreshing margaritas, delicious guacamole and flaming queso appetizers, and abundant Mexican entrees, where we cheered on the Milwaukee Bucks during game 3 of the NBA Finals.

And that’s how you make the most of a warm, summer’s day… Great friends, great food, great times!