Thursday, December 30, 2010

Old Toys

Technology has offered us a plethora of new gadgets to play with and to entertain us. Maddison asked for and got a Nintendo DS for Christmas. She loves it. Mason inherited her Leapfrog video game. . . and he loves it too. But as far as I can tell, the best toys they got this year have been an easel with a wipe off board / chalkboard (Maddison) and a toy rifle (Mason). The easel has brought Maddison and I some very fun hours over the Christmas break. We have (with various other players) enjoyed hangman, pictionary, and a variety of word and spelling games. We use the wipe off side for a while, and then switch to the chalkboard side. It brings back vivid memories of my childhood when my sister and I would play school on the chalkboard in our room. One of the reasons that I appreciate toys like easels is that they can be used in so many different ways. And it requires very little effort or materials to use (no batteries, cartridges etc).
Masons one request for a gift was a gun. He got to hunt with his dad this year, and thus began his attachment to guns. I am not a big fan of a child playing with guns. I remember being opposed to Josh having a gun as a child. On his 4th birthday, he invited 8 friends to a party. Every one of the children brought a gun or weapon of some kind as a gift (swords, cap guns, etc). As a grandmother, I still wince a little when Mason plays with toy guns. But I also see the bond that Mason and his Dad have and the pleasure they both got from their hunting time together. With Josh being gone so much lately, Mason holds on tight to anything that reminds him of his Daddy. I have a clear vision of Mason wanting a gun so he can be like his Dad. And when you look at it like that, it is a pretty harmless toy.
All in all, it is nice to have a variety of toys for children. But, from an old fashioned point of view, the simplest classic toys are the best!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


In reference to Resolution # 3. . . I know it isn't 2011 yet, and I have just started "The Confession", but I was playing with my blog and since I actually got it to make this list, I didn't want to mess with it. My blog design skills are still in their infancy stage!

New Year's Resolutions

I decided this year that I would base my New Year's Resolutions on old advice to be "healthy, wealthy and wise". (Since I already manage the early to bed and early to rise part.). I have made 3 resolutions, each one falling in one of the above mentioned categories. Here goes:
1. Healthy. This resolution goes without saying. For the past two or three years I have reaffirmed my goal and desire to be in better health. Having one major bad habit in my life (overeating, under activity), this is the area I find the most need to work on. Somehow during this past year, I have lost my way on this goal. I have managed to gain back weight I worked very hard to lose, and it has to go! Putting action to words, I am going to join Weight Watchers on line (trail for 3 months, if it doesn't work, I will go back to the meetings), and march my self back to the gym.
2. Wealth. I really don't have any desire to be "wealthy", but I would like to retire without worry someday soon (7 to 10 years). My goal for this year is to pay off some annoying bills, and reach my "emergency fund" goal. I have my husband's blessing on this goal (as well as the first goal), but since I do most of the money handling in our home, the job is mostly up to me.
3. Wise. I am an avid reader. I belong to a book club and I have several family members and friends that read books similar to what I read. The problem is I have read so many books, I cannot remember what I have read and what I have to read. Case in point is a trip I made to the library today. I checked out 8 books and ended up bringing home 2 that I realized I had already read. I was a bit rushed, knowing my husband was in the car waiting for me. . . but still. So, the point of the Wise resolution, is that I will begin a journal of the books I have read during the year, with a short commentary on my opinion of them. This way, when someone asks for a recommendation, I will be able to tell them something without fumbling around saying: " I think I read this book . . . I can't remember what it was about. . . but I think I liked it. . . .".
Now that I have committed my resolutions to "paper" so to speak, I have to act on them. I review my writing occasionally, so I will revisit this post and stay motivated to achieve these resolutions. I will report in on my progress. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Bald Eagle and the Airport Disappointment

This is a bald eagle that we stopped to photograph a short distance from the Columbia Airport. Little did we know that the few minutes we spent taking these rare photos would make us late for Amanda's flight, and she would not be able to fly to Memphis to meet Josh. (We actually weren't late for her flight, but missed the 30 minute advance arrival time they require by 3 minutes. If we had KNOWN she had to be there that early, we would have been.) I cannot imagine why they shut the check in down, she had no luggage, there were TSA staff just standing around, as well as other Delta employees. Not only did she miss it, but two other travelers also did. It would be nice if there was some notice that if you didn't get there 30 minutes ahead you couldn't board. Anyway. . . I am superstitious enough to think that there was some reason that she was not meant to get on that flight. I mean, this is the first time I EVER remember seeing a bald eagle so close. . . strange coincidence if you ask me. The happy ending is that Josh was able to make it home ahead of the storm and all is well that ends well. Still. . . a bald eagle, a missed flight. . . It may have been some sort of Christmas miracle. We may never know.

Talent Void

Yesterday was our extended family get together on my husband's mothers side of the family. She had 9 siblings, and most of their offspring live close to "home". We rented a Knights of Columbus Hall for the gathering. Three of the cousins brought guitars and spent a great deal of the evening picking and singing together. Oh to be talented with a music ability. None of these cousins would admit that they had any (or at least much) musical ability. But to just be able to play an instrument or carry a tune seems talented to me. If I were ever able to have a "do-over", I would insist on being gifted with an ability to write, play or sing music. It was obvious that to these men, making and sharing music brings them much joy. The music ranged from the Beatles and country rock from the 60's to modern day hard core country. The entire day was great. Games were played, children laughed and family stories were shared (some new, some tried and true (?) ). As far as I know, no cross words were spoken or feelings hurt. This is an annual event that has been going on for many, many years. Every year the men discuss building a place on the "farm" for the family to meet. This year was no exception. Maybe next year it will come to fruition. . . but maybe not. Either way, it is a great way to keep a family together and build tight bonds of love.

Its a Wonderful Life!

From our home to yours, we hope your Christmas was full of blessings, love, family, friends and faith. I am looking forward to a great 2011. I already have my resolutions made! Of course there will be more on that later!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Countdown!

I am now officially on vacation for a bit. Today has been very long and tiring for me. I am not sure if it is the emotional drain from the job, or fighting this allergy/cold thing I have had for two weeks or maybe just the extra work load this time of year.
I almost always leave my job at work. I have the kind of job that can really get to you if you "bring it home". I work in public health and we see plenty of sad situations through the year, but somehow they seem worse this time of year. There are a couple of families I have on my mind today that are worrisome. Like many other caring people that I work with, I get frustrated with some of the decisions people make. There is something about "wasted" potential that makes me crazy. I know that people have free will and all, but when they make mistakes that are sure to haunt them for a very long time, I want to intervene. But for some, all the education, support and guidance in the world will not keep them from self-destructing. But why? Why do people do things that will prevent them from being (take your pick: happy, healthy, successful etc, etc.). And I can almost understand someone taking risks and pushing the limits if they only have themselves to worry about, but these are people with children and families who love them. . . . See what I mean? It has been a hard day.
I guess it is a good thing that I have a few days off. . . I need to clear my mind and start fresh again.
Now on to the vacation plans. We are having guests for the holiday and Josh will be home for several days. It is so comforting to have your chicks back in their nest, even if it for only a short period of time. We don't have any major plans for the holidays, just family, food and fun.
I continue to reflect daily on how lucky I am. I hope to never have to say, "I didn't know how lucky I used to have it". Because I think I do know how lucky I am. God has been good to my family and me. I hope your blessings are abundant and that you feel the full gratitude of these blessings. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I want to have a "label this photo" contest with this picture! Hanging out on a Sunday, watching football, a guy just has to have a recliner. Mason is making do the best way he can. Randy's foot was Mason's pillow, and his stomach was his footstool. I guess you know how we spend our fast paced weekends!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches!
I am not sure who had the most fun with this gingerbread tree.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cake decorating is almost as much fun as cake eating! Maddison had a great time decorating her and her papa's cake (with a little help from Aunt Bea).
Place settings Jessica and Scott made for our Thanksgiving table.

Gratitude in hard times

I am not sure how to feel this time of year when I know that so many people are suffering. I guess the time of year really doesn't matter, except it tends to magnify the sad situations. I heard today of the death of a cousin's father, quite unexpectedly. I saw a friend at the store who just lost her mother. I am helping collect donations for a young family that is fighting cancer. The list this year could go on and on. And that isn't even counting the depressed economic times that we are having in our country. Somehow it takes the spark out of all the Christmas shopping "buzz". The gifts I have bought this year are mostly practical and useful. The exception is for the grandchildren, but I hope to help them have a magical Christmas, so socks and clothes just didn't seem appropriate.
Last night at supper, my husband mentioned to me that he hoped that I had not gotten him any gifts for Christmas. Over the years we have rarely exchanged presents on Christmas. Many times we felt that the focus should be on others (mostly family), and we haven't really had a need for gifts. Lately, we have been in the position where we have very few wants or needs. Our lives have indeed been blessed. Anyway, back to the conversation. . . I told him that I hadn't yet gotten him anything, and he offered up a wonderful suggestion. He wants to take the money that we might have spent on each other and help someone in need. I loved his idea. How better to share our bounty this time of year than to help someone else. I have been thinking about this opportunity all day. He wanted to give the entire amount to the family struggling with cancer. I think I will suggest that we split it up between several causes. I feel challenged to be the best steward of this money that I can be. This all makes me deeply appreciate the gifts that we have in our life. Our family is healthy and close. We both have jobs with security and benefits. We have a cozy warm home and vehicles in good running condition. We live in a caring community and a country where freedom and liberty are valued. I could keep going about the blessings in our life, but you get the idea. Gratitude. . . It is not so much about what you have or don't have, it is how you view life and the gifts given to you.

Are you ready?

The countdown is continuing and I am getting nervous. I have managed to start and almost complete lots of holiday activities this year, but not finish any. There are a few gifts left to buy, a few left to wrap, some baking done, some left to do. The only thing I have completed is my Christmas cards (downscaled from previous years). It is about this time of year when I say; what is done is done, and what isn't will probably not be (done).
On a different note, yesterday I read about a teacher who began blogging about school lunches. Every day for a year, she photographed, ate, and then wrote about the school lunches where she works. I have her site marked on the blogs that I am following, if anyone would like to check it out. I have eaten lunch twice at Maddison's school this year, and breakfast once. The food certainly leaves something to be desired if you consider nutrition. I think you may be hearing more about this woman ( Mrs Q is her name, she did all this anonymously in fear of her job). I only managed to get through a few posts, but it was interesting reading to be sure!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Goofing around at a thrift store in Birmingham. The kids had fun trying on different costumes!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Love Being a Grandparent

In honor of a sweet red head that was born 6 years ago today!

The Top 10 Reasons to Love Being a Grandparent are:

10. You can play with toys again and not have to explain why.
9. You finally realize why YOUNG, not old people have children.
8. You have the money to buy the fun stuff you couldn't afford for your children.
7. 'Spoil and send home' becomes your new mantra.
6. You can color pictures and build Lego castles all day and not feel guilty.
5. You can finally say: "Back in my day. . ." and have someone actually listen.
4. You truly know that each development stage is but a brief blink of the eye.
3. You can forgive little transgressions and actually laugh at embarrassing moments.
2. You FINALLY have an excellent excuse to nap in the daytime.
And the # 1 reason to love being a grandparent is:
1. The pure, unconditional, no strings attached love you share with the most wonderful little people in the world!

More Gratitude!

Today I am grateful for quiet early morning hours. The alarm goes off at 5:15, Randy is off to work by 5:45, and I am left in a very quiet and peaceful house. Sometimes I do laundry, light cleaning or dishwasher unloading. Other times I read, catch up on recorded shows or just sit and look outside. It is my time to do whatever I choose. How often do you get the chance to just do what you want? I cherish these hours but I am also so glad that I know the day will bring an interesting combination of work and family and friends. I think unscheduled time is appreciated so much more when you have a busy and usually scheduled life. Oh, and did I mention that some mornings are spend blogging or doing some facebook stalking?

Monday, December 6, 2010


I have recently been reading about the benefits of keeping a "Gratitude Journal". I am not sure I want to commit myself to one more daily task, but I think I will try and take some time out weekly, at least, to remember all of the things I have in my life to be grateful for. Today, I feel grateful to have a loving and close extended family. My siblings and I are separated by many miles, but we make a true effort to get together at least four times a year. My husband comes from a large family and they manage to stay close also. The majority of his family live within 30 miles of us, and they usually have get togethers at least twice a year. I have learned to appreciate the uniqueness of this. Many, many families I come across rarely, if ever get together. It certainly takes effort to plan, organize and execute these reunions. I for one, am very grateful that the effort is made. We have so much we can learn and share with each other. A recent death of a cousin, who had lost touch with his family, highlights the importance of staying close. I honestly believe that his death might have been prevented if family had been able to intervene. I guess we will never know for sure, but I have to believe that family connections go a long way in improving ones quality of life. A great first entry for my gratitude journal!

Proud Grandma

I thought I would add some fun pictures that Amanda downloaded onto my computer. Maddie was a winner of the "Terrific Kid" award. Of course we have always know that, even without a certificate!
Have you even seen such a contagious smile as Mason has? When he grins (which is often) his whole face lights up. I have so much to be thankful for, and these two happy and healthy children are high on my "gratitude" list.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We spent a great evening recently with Aunt, Uncle and cousins. After some good food, we played a game called "Fast Track". I have never played this before and it was such fun. The game is a little like "Sorry" or "Parcheesi", but involves several decks of cards. It was a great way to spend a Saturday night. All of my immedite family (except Josh, who is still in Alabama) were there. The grandchildren were entertained by some older cousins and they had a great time too. It was so good for them to be around family that they don't know all that well. On the way home, Maddison said "I can't wait to go back to those peoples house!" A great endorsement for a child who tends to be very bashful around people she doesn't know well.
After a sad few days involving two family deaths, it was good to just visit, play and have fun. We don't take time out of our daily activities often enough to do that.
Today will be bittersweet. Maddison has a kids birthday party this afternoon (followed by a trip with lots of little girls to see Tangled), and then we are going to the funeral home for visitation.
Such is the way of life in a large family.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Somehow, Amanda manages to capture the beauty of fall in mid-Missouri. This fall has lacked a great deal of color in our area, but the red sure stands out in this picture. I love this picture because it is so simple. If there is one thing I hope Maddison and Mason have learned in their short years it is a love of outdoors. There is so much to discover when you spend time outside. Don't we all have a country road in our childhood memories?