October — My Favorite Month

I cannot believe that tomorrow is the last day of October.  This month has gone by quickly, has been busy and a good one, and is my favorite month. It is the time of football, the World Series, fall leaves, cooler weather, and pumpkins.

It is also a time for celebrations.  My husband and I got married in October, our son was born this month, and we also celebrate the birthdays of both of my parents, three nephews, and several friends, and the anniversaries of a few friends.

We also had our fall break this month and some down time to enjoy the leaves changing and the cooler weather.  Although at the time of the break, it was still pretty warm.  It is still nice to have a break to enjoy ourselves during the hustle and bustle that school has become.

This was photo was taken a few falls ago in North Carolina. Don’t you just love the colors of those leaves? I sure do. I like the vibrant reds, yellows, and golds.

Along with a lot of fun and happy celebrations, we have also had to say goodbye to some loved ones this month.  I found out that over the weekend, one of my pediatricians had passed away and one of my friends from MOPS also died.  So sad to lose both of these wonderful people.

These losses are bittersweet since they leave behind family and friends and those who loved them so very much.  Both made the most of their lives and I have learned from them.

This month, we also had a school field trip to an interactive STEM museum and a historical center.  Both were fascinating and we learned a lot.  Ian and I enjoyed the day very much, as did his friends.  So many fond memories that I will cherish.

Also in October, I usually end up with a sinus infection or cold.  It seems to happen each year because of the ragweed and changes in temperature.  Sure enough, it did again this year.  I am finally feeling better after a week of being sick and on medication.

On this next to last day of my favorite month, I am thankful for:

  • Warm sweaters and socks
  • Homemade chicken noodle veggie soup
  • Hot tea and hot coffee
  • Naps on the couch
  • Library books
  • Time with my guys
  • Sleeping in on the weekend
  • Family time
  • Birthday parties
  • Lunches or dinners out with friends
  • Family photos
  • School field trips
  • PTO members and activities
  • Halloween candy and costumes, but nothing very scary
  • Hugs and messy hair in the morning
  • Late breakfast on Saturday
  • Watching the World Series
  • 19 years of marriage
  • Our 10-year-old son
  • All that my parents taught me
  • My family
  • My friends
  • Meals and laughs with family
  • Movies at home
  • Ian’s school and all of our friends
  • My many blessings

I truly enjoyed October.  I wonder what the next month will bring?  I am sure a lot of fun activities and more time with loved ones. We cannot wait.

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Happy Birthday Dear Beckie!

Today is my sister-in-law Beckie’s birthday.  Happy Birthday to you dear Beckie!  Hope you have a great and wonderful day. Hope you can do something fun and enjoy the entire day!

Beckie is married to my brother and is my second sister.  We always have a great time when we get together. I am always wishing for more time with her, my brother, and their two teenagers.  For example, we missed her party over the weekend since I wasn’t feeling well.  Bummer.

This photo is from our lunch out years ago at the beach.  We had a great time that day and some delicious food.  Over the years, we have enjoyed many meals, many laughs, some sorrows, lots and lots of conversations, inside jokes, and have taken, posed for, and shared many photos.  I am blessed to have her in my life.

Beckie, I hope that you have a great day and another wonderful trip around the sun!  I also hope to see you again soon.  Take care!  Love ya.

A few birthday quotes:

  • “The first fact about the celebration of birthdays is that it is a good way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive.” ~ G.K. Chesterton
  • “A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip.” ~ Author unknown
  • “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” ~ Chili Davis
  • The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” ~ Lucille Ball

Flashback Friday – Family

ff118_familyHi and Happy Friday.  For today’s Flashback Friday, I decided to use an old family photo from the 1970s.  It is one that Mom just sent to me and I love it.  Besides, the photo challenge for yesterday was family.

Here is my family.  I am the one in the middle. Interesting how we are all barefoot except for Dad.  I love these old photos and treasure them like gold.  Seeing the changes of all of us and the next generation in these faces is fascinating.  I just wish I could remember what I was thinking back then.

I love this family of mine — me, my sister, my brother, our mother and our father.  I love this photo too since it is so 70s.  The clothes, the hair, the couch, the wall, and did you notice the flag in the corner?  So retro and so cool.

I am fortunate to have grown up in a family where we were taught and shown unconditional love, acceptance, and compassion.  Also, we were taught to be kind and respect those different from ourselves.  Kirk and I are now teaching that to Ian.

My extended family is equally as awesome.  We are diverse in everything – our beliefs and our religions, who we love, how we earn our livings, what we are passionate about, our politics, and so much more.  Each one is unique and special and I love them all with all of my heart. Also, I have learned a lot from them.

I have recently had the pleasure of editing a family history book that Mom wrote.  And, I have to say from ancestors to those living today, my family is amazing. So many people have been passionate about so many things and we are all so different.  I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of this amazing legacy.

Today I am thankful for:

  • My loving parents
  • My fun siblings who are life-long friends
  • My amazing hubby and son
  • My wonderful in-laws
  • My fabulous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews
  • Learning about my heritage
  • Learning about my grandparents and many great grandparents
  • Growing up knowing that differences in people are okay and interesting
  • Long talks with loved ones who see the world differently than I do
  • Kindness and compassion towards others
  • Love not hate

I look forward to family time during the holidays and cannot wait for more time to chat and learn more about them.  I hope to see my extended family in the summer again soon.  Love to all of them.

Happy 51st Anniversary / Happy Father’s Day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA TT.DadDay2This weekend is big in my family. Today is my parent’s 51st wedding anniversary.  And, tomorrow is Father’s Day.  So Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad and Happy Dad’s day to Dad. Here is a favorite photo of the two of them and another of me with Dad.

They are awesome parents and we celebrated their anniversary last night.  We enjoyed dinner with them and cake and ice cream and a long visit.  It was great. Tonight they will have dinner out with some dear friends. Then tomorrow after church, we will make lunch for them and for Kirk in celebration of Father’s Day.

Ian had asked me recently if we were going to celebrate their anniversary this year.  Last year was their 50th anniversary and we had two big parties.  We had visits with friends and family we hadn’t seen in a while and had a terrific time.  This year we celebrated but on a much smaller scale.

I love that we live close enough to them to have regular visits.  It is so great for Ian as well to have lot of time with his grandparents.  I am so very thankful for that and count it as a definite blessing.  My parents taught me so much and now they are teaching Ian many things as well.

I have such fond memories with my parents:

  • Camping trips at state parks
  • Driving cross-country to the beach
  • Reading the paper on the beach house porch
  • Camp Fire songs and food
  • Shag carpet and dark walls
  • Photos at the beach
  • Numerous sunsets
  • Fireworks and cookouts
  • Weddings and Baptisms
  • Lions Club sales and meetings
  • Moving them into their new home
  • Singing with them at church
  • Lunches after church
  • Activities at Ian’s school
  • Many moments with my parents, my siblings, and our children
  • Birthday celebrations with family and friends
  • Family books and inside jokes

My parents mean the world to me.  They have taught me so much:

  • Unconditional love
  • Tolerance of others
  • The love of the ocean
  • The love of extended family
  • Parenting with discipline and love
  • To work hard and equally play hard
  • To savor and cherish each day
  • To always be thankful
  • To spend time with loved ones
  • To use my talents and abilities
  • To be appreciative of others
  • To be kind and loving
  • To still wonder about things

Mom and Dad, thanks for everything!  You were and still are amazing parents to me, to Cindy and to Richmond, great in-laws to Kirk, Cody, and Beckie.  And you are amazing grandparents to our children.  Love you always!

Throwback Thursday – A Special Gift

TT.Gifts_3-3-2016Hi and Happy Thursday!  For today’s Throwback Thursday photo, I decided to post one of a gift that I received when I was a kid.  It was a white AM radio.  It had a rotary dial and I think I am looking at the back of it.

I am the one in the middle.  I am between my brother and sister.  You can see how excited I was.  And how excited my brother was.  I love the shapes of our mouths  Too funny!  We were always making faces and silly expressions and still enjoying making them when we get together.

Don’t you just love the 70s clothing and hair?  And furniture?  This photo was taken in our living room.  I remember this couch very well and liked all of the flowers, which were in style then.  Also, the coffee table was lovely and a nice dark brown.

I don’t remember those pants but think the patches are fun.  And it seems to be a turtleneck that I am wearing.  I wasn’t wearing any accessories.  I wear them all of the time now — earrings, rings, bracelets, a watch, and hats and scarves on occasion.

Cindy, Richmond, and I had a great time growing up.  Our parents were generous to us and always made big deals for our birthdays.  This appears to be one of my birthdays, although I don’t remember which one.  The nicely wrapped packages are fun and gift bags weren’t used much back then.

They also disciplined us, taught us to respect our elders, and taught us about the importance of family and life-long friends.  We also learned to have fun on family vacations and enjoyed many after school activities, including our community theater.  I am so thankful to them and my siblings for an amazing childhood.   Not that it was perfect, but my good memories far outweigh the bad ones.

I was blessed with many amazing gifts during both my childhood and since.  My parents started my Snow Village collection, gave me souvenir spoons from various trips, helped pay for chorus trips, camping trips, and many excursions to the beach.  They were and remain extremely generous.  I have albums full of photos of gifts, trips, and amazing memories.  I will always treasure them.

Today I am thankful for:

  • My family
  • Silly faces of my sister, my brother, and me
  • Inside jokes with my siblings
  • Our children’s silly faces
  • My parents who I adore
  • Birthday celebrations
  • Delicious birthday meals and cakes
  • Reversing the numbers
  • Camping trip memories
  • Singing with the family
  • Gifts given from the heart
  • The generous spirit of my loved ones
  • Photo gifts
  • Shared moments and memories
  • Old family memories
  • My hubby and son
  • Ian’s wonderful school
  • My many circles of friends
  • PTO moms and dads
  • Teachers and an amazing staff
  • A hug before bed
  • Chili in the crockpot for dinner
  • An amazing life so far

I wonder what new gifts we will give to each other?  I cannot wait to find out.  I love that we are creative without having to spend a fortune. And I love my friends and family.

December 8 – Family

Hi and Happy Wednesday!  Today’s photo challenge is Family.   I am blessed with an amazing family.  Both the one I grew up in and with and the one that I married into.  I am thankful for these amazing people – all different, all unique, all special.

From my family, I have learned that differences of opinion are okay and to be respected.  I have learned the meaning of unconditional love.  I have learned how to deal with the joys and sorrows of life.  And, I have learned about partnership, acceptance, and forgiveness.

I have learned so much on every subject from my family.   We all have our own ideas and are comfortable with sharing them.  That to me is an amazing blessing.

My family is perhaps unusual in that we like to be together, we look out for one another, and we truly love one another.  We don’t always agree and may have arguments.  Still there is love and respect and a bond that I am thankful for each day.

This photo is one of my favorites ever taken of my hubby, me, and our son.  We were on vacation at the beach and being silly for the camera as usual.  For some reason, Ian and I had our mouths wide open.  I wish I could remember why our mouths are so big. Anyway, I love this family of three so very much and cherish them both.

For my family who I love so much, I am thankful for:

  • Parents who love me unconditionally
  • Siblings I can always count on
  • Cousins who are true friends
  • Aunts and uncles who loved me like their own
  • Grandparents who I will always cherish
  • My amazing husband and our family
  • A child who I cannot imagine life without
  • In-laws who accept and love me
  • Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law who are truly siblings
  • Nieces and nephews who I knew and loved before Ian was born
  • Friends made long ago
  • Friends made in all walks of my life
  • Loved ones I have lost and will never forget

A few quotes about family:

  • “The truth is maybe we are just average. But the way I see it — families where parents get up every morning and go to jobs that are hard so they can get their kids through school and through life, and struggle to make it all work and manage to do it with dignity and a little humor — well, that’s not average. That’s extraordinary.” ~ DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler, The Middle
  • “Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts.” ~ Author Unknown
  • “The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” ~ Erma Bombeck
  • “Ohana means family — no one gets left behind, and no one is ever forgotten.” ~ Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, Lilo & Stitch
  • “When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.” ~ Joyce Brothers
  • “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~ Jane Howard
  • “Having a place to go — is a home. Having someone to love — is a family. Having both — is a blessing.” ~ Donna Hedges

I wonder who of my family I will see over the holidays?  I hope I will see each and every one of them.  That will probably not happen.  Still, I will be in touch with all of them.  Hugs and love to you all!!

Flashback Friday – May 1st

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAHi and Happy 1st Day of May!  Hope you have a great Friday!  I don’t know about you, but I have to say, TGIF!  This has been a crazy busy week and I am ready for the weekend.

I totally missed Throwback Thursday yesterday, so I decided to write a Flashback Friday instead.  Here is a photo of Ian from 5 years ago.  It was taken during a visit by our local fire department to the kid’s reading program at the library.

He was fascinated at sitting in the driver’s seat of the fire truck. I love seeing the huge steering wheel next to his short legs and little feet.  He is way too small for the spot but seems to be enjoying it just the same.

Today I am thankful for:

  • Our city’s library and the amazing books
  • Our city fire department and other services
  • Girls’ Night Out with dear friends
  • Yummy food and wine
  • Hats to cover up a bad hair day
  • Laughing at jokes and shared stories
  • Play time for Ian with a friend
  • Date night with hubby
  • My mom’s pot roast and potatoes
  • My dad reading with Ian and helping him with projects
  • Hugs between grandparents and grandson
  • Early mornings with my guys
  • Hearing good news
  • Answers to prayer
  • My home and community
  • My loved ones

I wonder what this Friday will bring?  I cannot wait to find out and am looking forward to it.  Hope you have a great one.

Great Family Rules

Now.Oct.21On Sunday, I enjoyed watching the Golden Globe Awards.  Michael Keaton won for best actor for his part in the movie “Birdman.”  I haven’t seen the movie but do want to. He gave an amazing acceptance speech that was quite moving. He talked about his tough childhood and his best friend among other things.

Here is my favorite quote from it that I wanted to write about today: “In the household in which I was raised, the themes were pretty simple: work hard, don’t quit, be appreciative, be thankful, be grateful, be respectful, also to never whine ever, never complain, and always, for crying out loud, keep a sense of humor.” — Michael Keaton

I love this since these are all themes that Ian needs to learn.  My parents taught us these ideas as well as the importance of faith and family and that just as important as working hard is playing hard.   So here is the quote broken down and a few thoughts on each item.

  • Work Hard.  This is so important for both children and adults to remember.  Hard work is a key part of success.  We tell Ian that his job right now is school, learning, and doing his homework.  It has been a learning curve, but we are helping him to understand that he must complete tasks assigned to him since they are so very important.
  • Don’t Quit. Another important thing to remember is that once you start something, you need to finish it.  Sticking with a task or project will help as a child becomes an adult. And, when you don’t quit, the end is so very sweet.  Success in one’s accomplishment can be celebrated.
  • Be Appreciative. It is easy in this amazing country we live in to take things for granted.  But, appreciating what we have is necessary to knowing its value. So many people are lacking in things that are part of our everyday lives. That gives me pause and helps me remember how blessed I am.  I appreciate having running water, electricity, glasses to wear, a refrigerator, health care, an amazing school, a car to drive around in, faith, and good health.
  • Be Thankful. We regularly pray and say thanks to our Lord for the amazing gifts that we have.  We also thank others for what they do for us, how they make us feel, and for spending time with us.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday since it is all about food, family, and being thankful for all our blessings.  Each year, before we eat, our family stands in a circle, holds hands and shares what we are thankful for, and then we pray.  It is a very special time for all of us.
  • Be Grateful. This is a little different.  I am grateful for all of the opportunities and things that my parents did for me over the years.  They were amazing teachers and have taught me so much.  Now for our son, I am grateful to have them and Kirk’s parents there for him.  Our other family is equally important as are dear friends.
  • Be Respectful. My parents taught me this very well and we are teaching Ian.  It is important to respect others, whether they are different or not.  All people, from the CEO to the janitor at a company are important for that company’s success.  It is important to remember and respect all that people offer and other’s differences.
  • Never Whine Ever.  I love this!  I have always hated whining.  When Ian was growing through the terrible twos and threes, he used to whine.  It felt like fingernails on the chalkboard to me.  We would talk to him to help him stop and explain what he needed or wanted, without that whiny tone to his voice. Thankfully he learned how much I didn’t like it and didn’t do much.  Every once in a while it comes back up, but we try to stop it right away.
  • Don’t Complain. This is so very important to remember as it is an easy habit to get into if one isn’t careful. I know someone who complains regularly.  It is so hard to be around this person.  I feel myself getting more down on life when I hear too much of that. There is too much good in life to dwell on the negative. And if someone doesn’t like something, it can be changed.  We are working to teach this to Ian.
  • Keep A Sense of Humor. Being able to laugh is so vitally important for our sanity and our life.  I have always loved laughing and laughter.  I love to hear Ian and his cousins giggle at something funny.  I love when I am with dear friends and we look at each other and burst into fits of laughter.  And, I love being with family while a funny joke or story is shared.  Laughing at ourselves can make the worst days somehow better.
  • A few thoughts from my family to add. I am also grateful that my parents taught us the importance of faith and living it each day, the importance of family and friends and spending time with them as much as we can, and that playing is just as important as hard work. Regular prayers and being active at church were part of the faith but so were showing it each day in how they treated one another and us. Each summer we had time with family and friends, and our family makes a big deal about birthdays.  We gather to celebrate each person’s special day.  And, Dad worked hard at his job for years but always made time to do fun things, take vacations, and truly his down time.  Mom also worked very hard in all that she did but always made time for fun and things she loved to do. He and my mom cherish trips with friends and family and I have learned to do the same.

I wonder if Kirk and I can continue to teach Ian these amazing themes for his life?  I will work each day to do just that!   What themes did you have growing up?  Please share them.

Prayers and Praises

graceBe still and know that I am God.   I so need that comfort today.  I have so many loved ones on my mind right now who need prayers and love and support. I can’t help but tear up when thinking about some of them and what they are going through.

And, I know that God is there with me and my loved ones every step of the way.  He promised to be with us through everything.  I take comfort in that incredible fact.

The son of a family friend had a stroke a few weeks ago and wasn’t expected to make it.  This young man is only 47 years old.  Since we found out the news, quite a few people have been praying for him. This afternoon we found out that he was able to move his finger and his feet.  And, the report is that he will be okay.    So I must say,  Praise the Lord!!

Another friend from high school said today that her 10-year-old daughter Lily has bone cancer.  I cannot even imagine how my friend is feeling right now.  I would be an absolute wreck.  I read this in her posting asking for prayers for Lily of family and friends.  Wow, what an amazing mother she is.  She is doing the best thing for her daughter — putting her in the Lord’s hands.

A relative is struggling with some major health issues and her family is trying to figure out what to do to help her.  Another friend’s child is recovering from surgery, a dear pastor’s wife is battling her second round of breast cancer, and several other friends just finished chemo treatments.

It is so easy to get almost overwhelmed by all of these needs of prayer.  Yet, by placing them in the Lord’s hand and asking for His protection, guidance, comfort, answers, and support, we are doing the best thing for them and their struggles.  We don’t always know the answers of why or the outcome, but praying is still the best thing to do, in my opinion.  Also, I think it is important to let those loved ones know we are praying for them and that we can help them if they need us to.

In addition to all of the sadness and hardships, there are also things to praise the Lord for.  One relative just received a clean bill of health after cancer treatments, another had a baby shower for her daughter who is due soon, and another is expecting her first child and will find out the sex when the baby is delivered.

I also want to praise the Lord for traveling mercies, for special times with family and friends, and for celebrations of life and our relationships, and that my son prays regularly. Praise also for two friends who suffered major losses and are now healing and discovering new relationships and friendships.  And, praise for the ability to laugh with our friends and family and the chances to share funny stories.

There is an amazing hymn that is coming to mind today — “It Is Well With My Soul.”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Refrain

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

Isn’t that song amazing?  It was written by a man named Horatio Spafford who suffered some great losses in his life.  The fact he was able to craft these words still amazes me today.And, it is so comforting and inspirational as well.

I want to close with a prayer:

“Lord, please watch over my loved ones in all that they do. Please stretch out your healing hands on those who are sick and suffering.  Please give us comfort and help us as only you can. Please help to us be there for one another and show the love that you have taught us.

“Praise and thanks to You for all of the gifts You provide for us. Praise to you and thanks so much for your love that You shower down on us. Praise also for our friendships and relationships we have. Praise to you for giving us the ability to love, laugh, and forgive.

“Thanks so much for life and liberty and freedoms. Amen.”

Happy 7th Birthday Ian!!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERASeven years ago at this time, I held a newborn baby boy in my arms. That morning, we met Ian Cates for the first time. So much has changed from that day to now. It is truly amazing. I have loved seeing Ian learn how to do things, discover the fun of reading, and share his own thoughts and ideas.

He is a sweet soul who cares about others, enjoys playing and having fun, enjoys special time with Mom and Dad, and time with his grandparents and other family, and loves to play and tell stories. It is hard to believe our boy is 7 years old today. My how those years have flown.

This morning before school, we put candles on his biscuit for breakfast. He enjoyed blowing them out and loved hearing me sing Happy Birthday to him. Tonight we are having a birthday dinner with family. He is excited about that as well.

He enjoys his birthday and enjoys making a big deal about it. He was appreciative about the gift we gave him this morning as well. “Thanks, Mom and Dad,” he said with a smile that stretched from ear to ear.

This picture was taken several months ago. It is amazing that now he looks more like a little man than a little boy. I am not exactly sure when that happened, but it certainly did.

Today I am thankful for:

  • A boy with dimples and a wonderful smile
  • Big blue eyes that are full of wonder and love
  • October 2 for that is the day we met this amazing boy
  • Hugs and hearing, “I love you Mom”
  • Ian appreciating a special gift
  • Making meals and sweet treats with a boy wearing an apron that is a little too big
  • Reading a hand-written note that says, “Mommy, I will love you forever”
  • Hearing Ian pray at meal time
  • Watching him play, discover, and learn

I never thought I could love someone as much as I love my hubby and our son. They are two amazing blessings who I am very thankful for. Today I will enjoy looking back on all the phases of our sweet birthday boy.

I wonder if I can savor each moment of Ian’s birthday?!  I plan to do just that and look forward to him getting out of school today.