Five Minute Friday — Imagine

5minutefridayHi and Happy Friday!  Can you believe it’s the last day of May?  This month went so fast.

Today’s word for Five Minute Friday is Imagine.

Here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Now GO …

A few things come to mind at first when I think of the word Imagine.

There is an amazing song by the group Mercy Me, entitled, “I Can Only Imagine.”

This song imagines what it would be like to meet God in Heaven.   The singer basically asks would I fall on my knees or just be in total awe.  Each time I hear this song, I get tears in my eyes.

I remember the first time I heard it was soon after the death of a dear friend.  That time I truly cried since I knew that friend was in God’s presence.  Thinking of it now gives me chills.

Another song is “Imagine” by John Lennon.  There is a line in this song about Heaven that has always bothered me.   It states, “Imagine there’s no Heaven, it’s easy if you try.”

I don’t agree with him although it is a compelling song.  I believe in Heaven and know it exists.

Isn’t it funny that my first two items have to do with music when thinking of this word.  The other thing that comes to mind is my son Ian.

He loves to play and imagine.  He is creative throughout the day and loves to make up friends and voices for his favorite stuffed friends.

I love seeing his mind at work and what he comes up with.  It is truly an inspiration.

Being able to imagine a variety of things to me is a gift.  I am so thankful that my son has that gift.

STOP … times up.

To check out other amazing blogs from the FMF community, please check out

Weight Loss Update – 5 Pounds Lost!

scaleHi and Happy Wednesday!

Hope you are having a great week.  Mine has been good so far.

When I weighed myself most recently, I had lost 5 pounds!  Yeah!  I still have a long way to go but I am getting there!

I guess it’s the little steps that make the most difference.  And, I have been making them.  I am eating better and making more sensible choices, and have been walking more.

Still there are many pounds to go and many miles to walk or bike.  I won’t let myself get overwhelmed by it — or it would be an uphill battle.

I have lost weight before and know I can do it again.  Here I am pictured at a really good weight 6 years ago with my nephew Aiden. We were at the San Diego airport for a beach vacation.

Vacation 2006 070This was taken before I got pregnant with Ian.  I gained quite a bit of weight during my pregnancy.  Then about a year ago, I gained some more and realized I weighed more than when Ian was born.   That was quite depressing to discover. ARG!!

The size in this picture wasn’t the smallest that I have been but I felt good, was comfortable in my skin and my clothes.  And, my blood pressure was under control.

Now I keep photos like this and others as motivation and inspiration to stay on the journey.

My downfall continues to be too little exercise and stress eating.  Right now, I am super busy and life is quite stressful.  At night, I eat for comfort and that isn’t good.  I don’t do this every night, but it’s enough to make a problem for me.

I am working to change this and find a way to exercise, which always helps me with stress.  I also try to have time to relax and do a few activities that I really love — like reading, word finds, taking photos, writing, walking around the neighborhood, shopping at discount stores and book stores, listening to music and/or dancing and singing, and spending time with Ian and Kirk and friends and family.

In a few months, there will be some changes so hopefully all of this will be easier for me.

I’d love to hear from friends, family, and followers who are also on a weight loss journey or some other journey.  It is always helpful to have others in your corner.

During my journey, I have been learning a lot about myself and what my triggers are.  That has been helpful in making some lasting changes.

I wonder if I will lose more weight this week.  I also wonder what new things I will learn that will help me.  I look forward to the adventure.

Live, Love, Laugh

3Cates.9-2012I saw a photo a morning on Facebook and was inspired.  It stated, Live, Love, Laugh and was on a bicycle near a beach with flowers and two tea cups on a table.

It was beautiful, but I couldn’t copy it to here without a computer problem.

(Actually I tried to and got a threat on my virus protection, so I had to delete it.  I guess what I share on Facebook has to stay there.)

I liked many elements about this photo — including what looks like the beach and ocean in the background — two of my favorite things.

In addition, I liked the flowers, tea cup, and bike.  All of these are great and fun ways to relax.  I love the beauty of flowers, the taste of tea, and exercising on a bike is fabulous.

Instead of that other photo, I added this photo of myself with my hubby and son last summer since we were having fun and full of smiles. That particular day we were living, loving, and laughing.

I think the words are very important to remember!  Don’t you?!

Live — this means making the most of each day that we are given.  After all, we don’t know how long we have.

Having a child helps me to be able to live in the moment, since that is what he does each and every day.

Love — this is equally important I think.

Telling your loved ones that you do love them each day is very important.

As my friend Gordon told me and I remember, never be a grave hugger.  Tell those who love that you do and try not to leave things on a bad note with someone.

Laugh — this is something I enjoy doing and try to each day.

My husband and son make me laugh and so many other people and things do as well.  I firmly believe that laughter is the best medicine.

It is important to surround ourselves with people who make us laugh and bring joy into our lives.  I hope that you do have people like that in your life.  I do in mine and I feel very fortunate.

I wonder if I can remember to Live, Love, and Laugh each day!  I am certainly going to try!!

Here is a link for a blog I wrote on a similar subject last year:

Happy Memorial Day

cross_Memorial.DayThis morning Ian asked me what today is all about.  “Mommy, what is Memorial Day?”  he asked.

I told him that it is a day to remember people who have protected us and our country.

The concept of war is totally foreign to this sweet 5 1/2-year-old, but my husband and I have tried to explain that people have fought for us in order to keep us safe.  And, some have died in the process.

“Okay, Mommy,” he said in response.

Although he doesn’t understand all of this, he does understand death — well as much as someone his age can.

Last night on PBS, the Memorial Day special from Washington, D.C. aired.  Ian watched some of this with us before his bedtime. It was such a moving show.  We only saw part of it, but what we did see was packed with patriotism and honoring our Vets.

We started watching it during the honoring of Korean War vets and the memorial in D.C. to them, then a tribute to Charles Durning who was a great actor and Veteran of World War II.   Hearing his accounts of landing at Normandy and all of his buddies that he lost gave me chills.

He was awarded a Silver Star and several Purple Hearts.  I fondly remember him on the show, “Evening Shade” and several other items, but hadn’t realized his bravery in battle.  Thank you Charles and all other Veterans for all that you have done!!

The special also included songs from each branch of the military.  They celebrated the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, and National Guard.  Thanks to all of you who have served or are still serving!  You are awesome and so very brave.

As you know too well, war truly is hell.  I want to take today to say thank you to all veterans for enduring hell on earth for our freedoms!  We cannot thank you enough for your love of our country and your sacrifice.

Thanks also to your families for their sacrifices as well.

Today on this first unofficial day of summer, I am going to remember these fine people and all that they have done for me and my family.

I wonder if I can remember that each day?  I sure hope so since freedom is not to be taken for granted.  Also freedom is never free.

Here are a few quotes about Memorial Day:

  • “For love of country they accepted death,”  ~James A. Garfield
  • “They fell, but o’er their glorious grave floats free the banner of the cause they died to save.” ~Francis Marion Crawford
  • “The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men.” ~Minot J. Savage
  • “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”  ~Benjamin Disraeli
  • “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” ~Lee Greenwood

5 Minute Friday — View

5minutefridayHello and Happy Friday!  I don’t know about you but I am so glad that it is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend!

I am at my computer today for Five Minute Friday and so glad to be back!  The word this week is VIEW.  Here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Now GO …

Last year I went to a writing seminar where the lecturer was talking about point of view.  This is very important in writing a novel.

You have to decide if it will be written in 1st person, or third and narrated.  Then you have to stay consistent throughout.

This is a challenge and I guess the first major hurdle in writing fiction.  To date, my experience with this genre has been very limited.  My usual writing is from my point of view and my views of life and trying to figure things out.

As my regular readers know, I think it is important to learn about someone else’s point of view.  I just like figuring out how people tick and what they consider important.

I grew up with a very diverse family — extended with cousins who I would see every few years in California.  Although we were all different and had our unique points of view, we got along and learned to love and respect each other.

There is a quote of don’t judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.  I totally agree that until you know and can understand that person’s point of view, you shouldn’t judge.

NOW STOP … times up.

Well that went very fast.  I had other items to add about view — like the view through a camera or the view from a mountain or airplane being totally different than being on the ground… but that will have to another time.

I wonder if I can continue to want to learn about another’s point of view.  I certainly plan to do just that.

To view other comments about view, please link on 5 Minute Friday —

Hope you have a fabulous long weekend!

Thursday Tunes — Ian’s Songs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had planned to write about a different topic today, but then I started thinking of some recent songs that Ian has made up and knew I had to write about my son.

This first picture is on his 2nd birthday when he received his first toy guitar.  He was so excited at this gift!  He had fun all day with the guitar!  That year he also got a toy violin and two more toy guitars.

Since he was three years old, Ian has been coming up with his own songs.  His first was Oatmeal since he ate a lot of it at the time.  As you might imagine, the entire song is the word Oatmeal.

Although it is repetitive, I absolutely love it and love to hear him sing!  A friend of mine recorded it on video as he sang it and played a pretend guitar.  It is so great!!!

Ian loves music and is recognizing songs that we hear on the radio and CDs.

Recently, he has been singing the words of Footloose, Love is a Battlefield, as well as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the ABC song.  Can you tell his mother likes 80s music?

A week or so ago, VH-1 Classic aired concert footage of a Bon Jovi tour.  They are one of my favorite groups!  Ian also seemed to enjoy watching them and especially liked the special microphone that Richie Sambora uses at the beginning of Livin’ On A Prayer.

“Mommy, I like that wwhhaa-whhaa sound.  That is cool,” Ian told me.  “I think so too,” I told him.  “Did you notice how that special mic is in his mouth Ian?”  “YEAH!!!!!,” he said.

I love that Ian is noticing words and the different tunes of music!  He likes all kinds — including some classical.  He has mentioned that a song on Little Einstein’s is also played by the ice cream truck.  I told him he is right.

Ian_with_guitarThis week he has made up a new song and it is absolutely priceless.  It is Jesus Was Born Before the Zeros.  Isn’t that a great title?!

He played his keyboard as well as our piano with the words to this song.  Again, there aren’t many, but it is fantastic and I beamed as he sang it!

Another recent song is My Name is Ian James Cates where he tells his name and a few things about himself.  He moves around like a real rock star does.  It is so fun to watch!

He loves music as much as my husband and I do.  That makes us happy and very proud!  Here he is trying out a real guitar when he was 2 1/2.  You can see it is nearly bigger than him.

I see piano lessons and maybe violin and/or guitar lessons in his future.  If he practices, I think that he will really get good at the music.  And, hopefully he will learn more about how to write music and play it correctly.

I look forward to nurturing this talent.  I love that he has such fun with music and definitely want that to continue.

I wonder what his future with music holds?  Whether a vocation or hobby, I know that it will always be a part of his life.

I so look forward to seeing him grow and mature – both as a young man and a musician, in whatever form that is meant to take!  Rock on Ian!!

Ready For Summer!

CATES_at_MBThis month has been a crazy busy one for me.  How about you?

There has been so much to do for a while now.  Hopefully all of that will soon wind down with summer coming!

Can you believe the first day of summer is on Monday with Memorial Day?  Actually it isn’t the first official day of summer but does start the time. Pools open and people get out their boats to take to the lake.  It’s a wonderful time of year!

With many schools starting in mid-August, the summer is now a lot shorter than when I was in school. I remember three months of summer back when I was in high school.  The summers seemed to last forever and did from early June until after Labor Day when we went back.

There has been talk in Tennessee of changing the starting date of school back to September.  I do hope that is done!

I do so love the summer and all of the fun to be had!  Days at the pool or lake, trips to the library and local museums, or doing whatever we feel like.  YEAH!  I just hope it isn’t too humid.  But, in East Tennessee, that is part of the summer.  Time to get used to that!

What I especially like about the summer is going to the beach.  I have been fortunate to go each summer of Ian’s life to our favorite beach — Mission Beach, California (which I have written a lot about).  It has been fun to spend time with our family and see our friends each summer.  The ones there have seen him grow from an 8-month-old to now 5 1/2-year-old.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFive years in a row for mostly a month visit has been an amazing gift and real pleasure!  I feel totally spoiled and have loved each and every minute!  Above is one picture of us when Ian was 2 years old.  To the left is from last summer when he was playing on the sand.

Unfortunately this summer, we won’t be able to go.  That is a real bummer and something that saddens me greatly.  However, we will make the best of our other activities that we will be doing.

Each time I go to the beach, it is so relaxing and brings back so many memories of my childhood.  I hate I will miss it, but have so many pictures of fun in years past to enjoy.

We can’t do everything that we want and this summer is one of those things.  Perhaps, I will instead go to the community pool to swim, go to the lake for a cookout, go to a baseball game, or simply go out for an ice cream treat.

This summer will be different but it will also be a special one since my son starts kindergarten this fall, actually in August.  My baby is grown up and ready for the next part of his life.

I must admit it is a bit tough on his mommy, but he is so ready!  I am thrilled and excited for him and all of the new things that he will be learning.  He already is a sponge and that will just increase.

Ah, summer!!  How I love it so!  I hope it will be a great one for us and for you as well!  Have fun.

I wonder what our adventures will be with this different summer!  I can’t wait to find out.

After the Storm

prayingLast night I watched the news and was truly saddened by what I saw.

The town of Moore, Oklahoma, was pretty much devastated by an EF-4 or 5 tornado which was a mile wide and, according to the news, even up to two miles across during part of its life.

My thoughts and prayers go out to this community which is dealing with so much.

It was very hard to watch the news and see entire neighborhoods flattened to nothing but the foundations.  And, the schools and local hospital there were severely damaged as well.

Watching the meteorologists and news reporters get emotional is tough as well.  You know many of them have seen so much in their careers, that you realize how bad this really is when it affects them.

A resident there who is 72 years old said he would be fine.  He mentioned that in life you accumulate a lot of junk and now he’ll get to start over.  He gets a do-over.

Would I be that positive in light of what happened?  I don’t know.  Do you think he was in shock or just trying to make the best of an unfathomable situation?  I was impressed with his positive outlook I must say.

And, I salute all of the first responders, the firemen, policemen, the national guard, emergency response staff, doctors and nurses, search and rescue people, and those who repair our power lines.  All of these men and women have stayed up all night trying to help their community.

The Red Cross will be there as well to help in the rebuilding effort.  My question is with this much damage, where do you start?  One man answered that question – I think either the mayor or city manager — who said first we find the people and go from there.

As I put my son to bed last night, I wept with happiness that I had a bed to put him on with a pillow under his head.   Some people don’t have that anymore and that is heart breaking.  I suppose more so is having lost a child or spouse or other relative or the not knowing if they are alive or not.

Today I am thankful for my family and friends and some things that I have often taken for granted.  I love having a wall in my house to hang a favorite photo on, a refrigerator full of food, a washing machine to clean my clothes, a blanket to put on my son as he sleeps, a sink to wash my hands in, a sidewalk in my neighborhood to walk on and visit with neighbors, and a night stand where I have my Bible.

Lord, please help this community and the amazing people who live there.  May they find their loved ones and be able to stand with one another to rebuild.  May we who don’t live there do what we can to help.  May you provide comfort in these hours of need and loss.  Amen.

To give to the rebuilding efforts, we can contact the Red Cross.  From what I understand, they are asking for blood donations as well as money.  Please see their Ways to Help web site for more information –

Busy Couple of Days

busyFrom Thursday to Sunday, I was pretty much off the grid as far as a computer goes and out of town so I missed out on a few fun events.

I was at a homeschool convention that I will write more about in a day or so.  It was a great experience but made for some very busy and long days.  Busy, busy, busy!

On Thursday, we drove for 5 hours to the convention location and then worked a few hours that night at our booth.  My son and I traveled together and ate lunch along the way.  After helping with the booth, we ate dinner with Kirk at the hotel where the convention was being held.

That day I missed writing my posting on Thursday Tunes, which I recently started.  This week I will be writing about the movie, “Rock of Ages.”  Please check back with me to read this blog.

I also missed a Girls Night Out with some friends from high school and the chance to say goodbye to a friend who is moving to another state.  I hated to miss this but hope to be able to go the next time we get together.

On Friday, we were at the convention for most of the day and met some amazing and fun people!  It was great seeing all of the families and I must admit, I love to people watch and meet new people so it was a good day.

I did, however, miss writing my Five Minute Friday posting.  I will probably write that tomorrow.  The word is SONG so that will be fun!  I just have to not think about it until I write tomorrow, which may be a challenge.

Friday also was the birthday of one of my dearest and oldest (pun intended) friends.  Actually she is 6 months younger than me.  Happy late birthday to you Dawn! I hope that you had a fabulous day!!  I have some fabulous memories of the two of us celebrating our birthdays through the years.

Saturday, we had another busy day at the convention and met some more new people.  Many new contacts were made and that was great!  That night we went to a Ruby Tuesday for dinner.  Needless to say, Ian was pretty tired and went right to sleep once we returned to our hotel.

While at this convention, we missed my Aunt Beth’s birthday party.  Her birthday was on Saturday.  I hated to miss this since we always have fun with my family get-togethers.  But, we couldn’t make it.  Hopefully I will see her again soon!

Then Sunday morning, we were woken up at 4:30 a.m. by a very loud thunderstorm.  That was not fun, but thankfully Ian slept through it.  We had breakfast, packed up, and headed back home.

At around lunch time, we had to get off the interstate because of a thunderstorm.  The rain was so heavy that I couldn’t see past the hood of my car.  Scary to say the least!  Thankfully, I was only 1 mile from an exit where we had lunch.  Thank you Lord for watching out for us!

As I told Ian, it was like driving through a cotton ball.  He totally got that!  On the way home we stopped at our library and grocery store.  When we got home, we were tired and had to unload the car.   Then it was time to relax.  Ahhh!

Sunday was also my friend Dawn’s son, Kendrick’s birthday.  Happy Birthday to you Kendrick!  Hope you had a fabulous day.

I felt really bad that I missed so much, but this weekend was important for my husband’s family business.  I guess sometimes in life you do have to miss things that you want to do.

All in all, we did have a good time with where we were and made the best of it.

Mommy’s Wednesday Mistake

sad faceToday I feel like the worst mother in the world.

My son Ian is doing well on using the toilet these days but still needs help when he goes poop.  This morning he went to the bathroom and I told him I’d be right there. Well, I wasn’t right there.

In fact, I didn’t respond for a while.  So, it scared him.

My poor little boy called for me and I didn’t answer or respond.  I couldn’t hear him since I was on the other end of the house.

I finally went back to the bathroom after Kirk told me that he was crying in the bathroom.

Can I just tell you how I felt?  TERRIBLE!!  Not only did I inadvertently make my son cry, I also scared him.  I was busy on my computer while he was in the bathroom and got totally sidetracked and when I realized what I’d done, I felt so bad.

When I saw him, I too cried and apologized to Ian.  You know what he said?  “It’s okay Mommy,” as he looked at me with tears in his little blue eyes.

He is such a sweetie!

I truly feel like I should be in the dog house, but my son was loving and forgiving!  I love that I can learn about this from him.

Aren’t children amazing? They deal with the present, forgive, shed some tears, and move on.  If only I could live like that!

I hope and pray that I have a better rest of this Wednesday!  Hope you have a good one as well!!