Love, Feel, Observe, Absorb, Listen

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI came across a great quote recently on a calendar.

  • “Do more than exist… live
  •  Do more than touch… feel
  •  Do more than look…. observe
  •  Do more than read… absorb
  •  Do more than  hear… listen”

Isn’t this great?!  Here are my thoughts on each word of advice.  I would love to hear from you on this quote too!   This picture was taken during an Easter sunrise service.

**Do More Than Exist … Live —

Have you ever felt like your life is just passing you by?  Or the routine is getting to you?  This sentence can remind you to not just exist on auto-pilot, but really live.

We need to make the most of each day and realize that each morning we wake up is another gift that we have been given.  These days go by very fast so it is important to truly enjoy and appreciate them!

Hope you can find a way to truly live and be happy!!

**Do More Than Touch … Feel —

Have you ever noticed the amazing comfortable feeling of a plush blanket or sweater, or the smooth surface of a pebble, or the sand swishing between your toes?

I love to feel different textures and objects.  Sometimes I rub a pebble from the beach to calm me.  Amazing how that works!  But more important are holding hands with my husband, hugging a friend or family member, or cuddling with my son.

When babies are in distress, parents are often told to hold them skin to skin.  Something about the feel of his or her mother’s or father’s warmth and skin contact is comforting to that new and precious little person.  I think the babies feel comforted, as we can be by truly feeling the love of another.

**Do More Than Look… Observe —

Have you ever watched a sunrise early in the morning?  The world seems to wake up and get going.  You can observe the animals and nature spring to life and await the new day.  Ahh, life and all its splendor.

Or the beauty of a sunset going down at a favorite beach?  I love to observe the changing clouds and light, the people watching and playing, and all of life going on as the daylight fades and night comes out.

Life is being lived all around you and I hope you will take the time to observe it!

**Do More Than Read…Absorb —

This is exactly what Ian does when he looks at a book or asks to have one read to him.  As I read the story to him he is absorbing all of the skills of a new reader.  I have heard the saying for years that the way to learn to read is to have someone read to you each and every day.  He learns and absorbs more than I realize.

I just finished a book which totally took me in.   It was so well written that I was transported into another world.  And, in that world, I learned some amazing lessons.  The setting was the 1940s where life was very different.

It was different for women and families and for minorities as well.  Things have changed so much since then and for that, I am thankful.  (I will be writing another blog about this book soon.)

**Do More Than Hear… Listen –

I have heard that mothers can hear their child’s cry even in a crowded room.  Or a mom will wake up in the middle of the night if they hear their child making noise.  I do that with Ian and it baffles me.  I didn’t take a class on that, it just seems to be the instinct.

I love to listen to music in many forms.  From classical to the 80s music to dance music, each kind of music speaks to me and makes me happy.  It often depends on my mood what I want to listen to, and that is often changing.

As far as listening to each other, I hope that we can do that and truly tune in to our loved ones and what they want and need.

**May you live as this quote reminds us to do.  I am going to try to live this way too!

Ice, Ice Everywhere

icecubesThere seems to be ice everywhere outside.   On the trees, the streets, and the power lines.

If only it were the ice like in this picture — for a cold drink!

And now the state of Tennessee has declared a state of emergency.  This apparently is so they can start responding right away.

The storm has been named too.  It is called Winter Storm Khan.  Since when did they start naming storms like this?  They didn’t used to.

Thankfully schools have closed as well as many businesses, and people are staying home.  That is a good thing! I just hope and pray that the power will stay on.

A friend of mine mentioned on Facebook this morning that it’s too bad we can’t make ice cream out of the ice like we can make snow cream from the snow.  Too bad indeed.

Another friend of mine who writes the blog, “Postcards from the Ridge” (listed in my Blogroll) posted some great pictures taken in her yard this morning of this ice storm.

I may venture out and take some images.  But since I have a new camera, I won’t be going very far.  I don’t want to fall and hurt myself or break the camera!

For now, I am off to enjoy some chili for lunch and Ian has asked for chicken noodle soup.

To my friends and family, stay safe, stay home, and stay warm!!  Hopefully the temperatures will rise before the trees fall!!!!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

ice“Mommy, my eyes are cold,” Ian told me this morning.

On this cold Wednesday, this is what he said as we walked from the car to the front door of his school.  As we quickly walked, the cold wind hit his face.

“I know Ian.  That is why we have to bundle up and wear hats and scarves,” I told him.

Neither Ian or I are used to 23 degree weather in the morning.  That was the temperature this morning.  Yesterday, it was 22 degrees.  Brrr,  it’s cold outside.

He was bundled up in his coat which includes an attached hood, gloves, a warm sweater, pants, and socks and shoes.  But, nothing on his face.  So, I will need to look for a scarf for him and a heavier coat, and maybe some insulated pants.

When it’s this cold, the kids don’t go outside to play.  When I picked Ian up yesterday, the students were sitting on the carpet together, had instruments and were singing “Old MacDonald Had a Band.”  It was great.  I was the audience and clapped for them and they smiled.

I think as the week goes on that it will warm up — at least I hope so.  There is, however, a chance of some wintry weather.  I just hope it doesn’t interfere with going to school — especially since had to miss all of last week since he was sick.

On this very cold day, there are a few things I am very thankful for:

  • Hot coffee with creamer
  • Leather gloves
  • A long scarf
  • Fuzzy slippers to wear in the house
  • A bowl of soup or chili for lunch
  • Not having to work outside
  • The chance to cuddle with my husband and son
  • A steaming hot shower in the morning
  • A house with a heater
  • A cozy blanket to sit under while reading a good book

I wonder what the children will be doing today when I pick Ian up?  I imagine it will be something in their classroom since it isn’t supposed to warm up that much again today.

May you stay warm and cozy!

What a Day!

Today is the holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  It is also Inauguration Day for President Obama.

According to the news, 1 million people are expected to be in Washington, D.C. to see our first African-American President be sworn into office for his second term.  I wonder if that many people will actually be there on this cold January day?

He will be using a Bible of Dr. King’s as well as Abraham Lincoln’s.  That is very cool and an amazing part of history, since both of these men helped make today possible.

I look forward to watching the speech, seeing all of the people, and watching the parade as well.  Will you be tuning in?

Dr. King was quite a speaker and had a real way with words.  Do his words inspire you as they do me?

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  • “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
  • “I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
  • “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Amazing Grace

graceIn a time of loss or struggle, the words of the wonderful hymn Amazing Grace can truly be a source of comfort.

We are so blessed to have God’s grace as this song by John Newton, so clearly explains.

  • Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
  • That saved a wrench like me.
  • I once was lost but now am found,
  • Was blind, but now I see.
  • T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
  • And Grace, my fears relieved.
  • How precious did that Grace appear
  • The hour I first believed.
  • Through many dangers, toils, and snares
  • I have already come;
  • ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
  • And Grace will lead me home.
  • The Lord has promised good to me.
  • His word my hope secures.
  • He will my shield and portion be,
  • As long as life endures.
  • Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
  • And mortal life shall cease.
  • I shall possess within the veil,
  • A life of joy and peace.
  • When we’ve been there ten thousand years
  • Bright shining like the sun.
  • We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
  • Than when we’ve first begun.

Amen and Amen!  Wow, what an amazing comfort!  I so needed these words this week!!

Lord, may these words and your Grace be a source of love and comfort for those suffering and dealing with loss today!  Amen.

On Happiness and Sadness

In the movie Steel Magnolias, Truvy says, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

That is a bit how the weekend was.  We had the celebration of my grandmother’s life and the following day found out we lost one of our dear sweet family members.

How does one’s mind get around such extremes — of happiness and then sadness?  I don’t know the exact answer and so wish that I did!!

Grams’ party was a lot of fun and she loved my blog that I’d written.  My cousin read a really nice poem and then a funny one, gifts were opened, and great food and cake were enjoyed as well.  It was a great evening.

Then the news of the loss.  Losing a loved one is always difficult.  Crying and prayers and hugs and love are about all I know of to do in times like this.

I saw a picture this morning on Facebook that resulted in some tears — “I wish there were visiting hours in Heaven.”  How I wish that were true!  And, how I wish I could visit our loved one.

There is an expression, “time heals all wounds.”  How much time?  With some losses it feels like that will take a very long time to be true, if ever.  Another is “take it a day at a time.”  On some days, that could be changed to “take it a minute at a time.”

I found some quotes about sadness, loss, and happiness:

  • Tears are God’s gift to us. Our holy water. They heal us as they flow.” ~Rita Schiano”
  • “I don’t know why they call it heartbreak.  It feels like every other part of my body is broken too.”  ~Missy Altijd
  • “If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.”  ~Claudia Ghandi
  • “I dropped a tear in the ocean.  The day you find it is the day I will stop missing you.”  ~Author Unknown
  • “Happiness is never stopping to think if you are.”  ~Palmer Sondreal
  • The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”  ~Mark Twain

Lord, please hold my family close and watch over us.  Hugs and love to my family.

Happy Birthday Grams!!

DSC06130Tonight my family and I are celebrating my grandmother’s 92nd birthday!  Is that not the coolest?

Her birthday was actually earlier this week but this is when we are celebrating.

This is a picture of me with Grams 6 years ago (when she was 86 — she looks great, don’t you think?).  We were at the Tennessee Smokies baseball game with my parents and my aunt.  It was a fun evening!!  We went again this summer with all of them and Ian went as well.  It was fun to add another generation to our fun.  Unfortunately my husband wasn’t able to come with us.

Grams (aka Fran) is quite a gal! She loves having the family together to celebrate events.  We make big deals about everyone’s birthday and hers is truly a party!

Since her 90th birthday, for her birthday, we have been getting everyone together in the church fellowship hall, have enjoyed barbecue, baked beans, cole slaw (her favorite), cake and some wine along with it.

I enjoy this family tradition and especially enjoy celebrating her life. We will laugh and tell tales, enjoy being together and I will thank my lucky stars (actually my Lord) for being a part of this family.

Grams likes a good bottle of wine, real cheese, a sunset over the ocean, sailing, gardening, reading, and being with her loved ones.  She was born in 1921 — one year into the roaring 20s.  Life was quite different when she came into the world.

I remember a conversation once with her about the jobs available to a woman when she started working.  There were only four — teacher, nurse, secretary, and librarian.  She chose secretary and worked for many years.

She worked in the era when people could smoke at their desks, took shorthand, dialed a rotary phone, and if you made a mistake in typing your letter, you had to reset the paper and mimeograph paper for the copies.  No computers and backspaces available then.  I don’t know if I could have done this work like she did.

Since none of these were my chosen profession, I am glad that times have changed since then.  I do like that women have so many more career options.  I appreciate women like my grandmother who blazed the trail for me.

She had some tough times in her life, but always managed to pick herself up and carry on.  Grams is an inspiration to me.  She doesn’t let people or circumstances get her down but instead plows ahead.

She became a widow way to young when my grandfather passed away suddenly.  I never knew him but have heard so much about him my entire life that I feel that I know him.  Although he is in Heaven, he is still part of the family and our special angel!

For as long as I can remember, Grams hasn’t been shy about sharing her opinion — whether you wanted to hear it or not.  Sometimes not, but she had kernels of wisdom.  She was, however, usually blunt.

Last summer I had some time to talk to her one-on-one at the beach.  She came with us to the family beach house for a short time and it was great! Hearing her opinion on a variety of subjects was really nice.

One evening, I was on the beach with her, my father (her son), and my son.  She wanted to get her feet wet so we all went down to enjoy that moment with her.  And, let me tell you something, it was amazingly special!!!  Having the four generations there with our feet in the sand and surf is unforgettable!  We tried taking pictures but they didn’t turn out very well.

I hope to have other special moments with her.  I cherish each one that I now have and am so thankful that Ian is getting to know her.  For her birthday, he has chosen some of his special items to give to her.

We love you Grams very much!  We wish you a very Happy Birthday!  May you enjoy your 9th decade as much as the rest!

Preschool Begins

preschoolToday is a milestone in the Cates family.  This Wednesday, January 9, Ian started preschool!!

He was so excited this morning that he couldn’t eat all of his breakfast.

Last night before bed, we got his lunch box ready and his backpack and he picked his outfit.  I told him that on Wednesday morning, he had five jobs to do before school — eat your breakfast, take your vitamins, brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, and get dressed.

This morning he did all of those quite well and was ready to go!  Except for only eating half his breakfast.  At least they have a snack time!!

When we got to the school, a boy he’d met about 3 weeks ago saw him.  He said, “Oh hi Ian.”  His name is Malachi and he was clearly glad to see Ian!  That made me very happy.  I think that Ian has his first friend there!!!!  YEAH.

My husband and I both went this morning and got pictures of Ian outside the school.  I will try to post some of those later.

“Mommy, for school, I need paper, pencil, and an eraser,” he told me last night.  I told him yes we can take all of those items.  So, we put them in his backpack.

Once we arrived at the school this moring, Ian said to me, “Mommy, why don’t you stay for a little while.”  I said, “no Ian, I need to go.”  So we left without a big goodbye.  Kirk and I thought that would be easier for Ian.  I was proud of him that despite being a little bit nervous, he was paying attention to the teacher and the other kids.

Thank goodness for his teachers, Trish and Lisa, who keep everyone busy in the morning as they are dropped off and throughout the day.  They are great ladies who will teach him a lot!

Really and truly, this morning I wanted to stay with my baby.  But he is 5 years old and it is time for school.  I do have to say, I cried a bit after dropping him off.  This is the beginning of a new era for Ian and our family.

His classroom is really nice and there are many things for the children to do.  The teacher told me the boys are very glad to have another boy.  There are more girls in this particular room.

Just before lunchtime, we will go and pick him up and hear about his day.  I think we’ll have a celebratory lunch today.  Hopefully by then, I will stop crying.  They are tears of happiness, but still tears since my boy has grown up so much today.

I know that all of you who have taken your child to school for the first day can totally relate.  I’d love to hear from you on your experiences.  I also would love to hear that it gets easier!

Lord, please bless my sweet Ian who is ready for school and ready and eager to learn!  AMEN!!!!!!

Early January

Hope you are having a good January!  Here are a some random thoughts for this early and cold January.

***It is hard to believe that we are now a week into 2013.  The last few months have flown by and seem to be getting even faster.

***I like some of the television show restarting this month — like Downton Abbey, Castle, and Suits.  These are a few of my faves that I am glad to have back on.

***In addition, there is much on tv and in magazines about weight loss and things to help with that.  This is something I am trying again and really hope to do it this time.

***Tomorrow, my son starts preschool.  I must admit that I have mixed feelings but am happy for him.  He will be going in the morning for 4 days a week.  He is excited!

My baby is growing up and will be ready for regular school soon.  The time has gone so quickly.  I will try to write tomorrow about how that goes.

***This coming weekend, we are celebrating my grandmother’s 92nd birthday.  I am thrilled to be with my family for this milestone.

My Grams (as we call her) is a lot of fun and has had an amazing life, although she certainly doesn’t think so.

***Also this month is a holiday to celebrate the amazing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he did for civil rights.  We also have the inauguration of President Obama, the Super Bowl, and the announcements of the Oscar nominations.

So much is going on as we move on from the holiday season.  Let’s make it a great January!

We Can Make A Difference!

jarEach person can make a difference in someone else’s life!  No matter how small a gesture it may seem, you can impact someone else.

I have read several things this morning which have truly inspired me.

The first was from a friend who posted a Pay It Forward item on Facebook.  My sister-in-law and another friend then posted this item as well.

It was requesting that the first 5 or 10 people who comment would receive something from them over the next year.  The only thing that these people have to do is do the same for other people!

Isn’t that a fabulous idea?!  I decided to participate so I will be in touch with 5 people over the next year.  Hope to hear from several people once I post this item on my wall.

I truly like this idea of keeping in touch with others and doing something kind for people throughout the year.  May we all try to help one another!!

The second item made me weep as I read this story.  It is entitled, “The Impactful Legacy of a 12-Year-Old Girl and the National Movement She Sparked.”  It was written by Eric Aldeson and published on Yahoo! Sports.

A girl named Jessie Rees started the movement of JoyJars and NEGU (Never Eve Give Up).  Have you heard of these?  I hadn’t until reading this amazing article.

The article states, “Jessie Rees got into the backseat of her parents’ car after another grueling round of chemo and radiation and looked back at the hospital through the window.

“She wondered aloud: Why did she get to go home from the hospital?  What about the other kids? Why weren’t they going home?”

Sadly, as the article states, the reason she got to go home was that her brain tumor was inoperable.   Jessie had another question, “What can we do for them?”

Can you believe that?  Neither could I?  This sweet and young soul was going through her own treatment and suffering major pain, yet her thought was for other kids in the same situation.

So she and her parents started JoyJars, so named since Jessie’s middle name was Joy.  She first assembled brown-paper bags and filled them with trinkets and toys from her house.  They then switched to jars filled with items to hand out to children at the hospital.

The movement has grown since then.  According to the article, in 2012, 47,000 kids received JoyJars.  For more information, please see their site,

Wow!  That is a lot of children who have received a gift at a very hard time in their lives!  I was stunned that many jars had been given out.

Jessie passed away but sure made an amazing impact!  Thanks to her and her amazing parents for this movement and effort that they started!

I hope that we as adults can learn something from Jessie!  It is so important to think of others and what they may need.