Friends, Family & Fun

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the wonderful people in my life. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family who love and care for me. As I have reflected, on all those I hold dear to my heart, I have felt deeply blessed to be the recipient of so much love and affection.

Each and every morning our bodies awake and arise, from the sleep so desperately needed during the night. As we open our eyes, and take in the morning, a new day awaits us. Our mind begins to churn with the thoughts of what our day might bring. Our heart begins to beat a little faster. Our senses begin to work in earnest, at the realization that a new day is upon us.

Often we begin our day with a quick, mental countdown of everything on our “To Do” list for the day. Sometimes…we awake slowly, and take time to savor those early morning feelings of peace and contentment, and the realization that today is a gift from God.

I have thought often lately of the many gifts that God has given me. Family and friends seem to be at the top my my list. I have been blessed with a wonderful family (immediate & extended), and I have been blessed with so many wonderful, and caring friends.

It is easy to get caught up in the challenges of the day. Each day we are faced with so many choices. What will we eat? What will we do? Who will we see? How will we act? Will we be kind? Or, will we lose our temper? Will we be observant of those around us? Or, simply focus on our own needs? Will we notice how our words affect others? Will we take the time to express gratitude? Will we stop and take a moment to truly observe those we are interacting with? How are they feeling? What can we do to lift them up?

When we take time to put others first, our whole world begins to change. Suddenly, it is as if you can read their thoughts and sense their feelings. You sense their frustration, their sadness, and how lonely they sometimes feel. You can sense their desire to be loved, and their quiet yearning for friendship.

You smile as you observe their joy, as they observe something simple that brings happiness to their heart. You watch as they go about their day. You understand that what they show on the outside (through their words and actions) is often very different from what they are feeling on the inside.

You feel all of their emotions that they try so desperately to hide. You feel their sadness, their pain, their longing for something better. You feel their joy, their happiness, and their love for others. You wish desperately that you could help them to understand how loved they are and how truly important they are in this journey we call life.

It is with new eyes that I observe those around me. My family, my friends, and even strangers that I encounter in my daily life. I am deeply grateful for each and every person who has been, who is, and who will be a part of my life. Each person brings unique gifts and talents to this world and each one seems to have a profound impact on my life.

It is for this reason that I write this post. Know that YOU are a gift from God. He has placed you on this earth to learn and to grow. You have been placed here for a special purpose. You can bless the lives of so many. There are some lives that only you can touch, in the way that is needed. Will you rise to the task? Or, will you go about your day oblivious to those around you. Only you can decide…

My challenge to those of you reading this post is to take the time to be more observant of those around you. Be less judgmental and more loving & kind. You may never know the trials and challenges facing those around you, but rest assured, they have them just like you.

Take the time to express gratitude, to show kindness, and to be patient. Pay attention to the body language of those you interact with. While you can, and should, listen to their words, their body language will tell you so much more. Listen to what they are really saying. Often, when we think others are angry, it is in reality that they are feeling hurt. When you recognize this simple truth, the outcome can be so much different. You can help to heal broken hearts if you will but truly listen.

“No Act of Kindness, No Matter How Small, is Ever Wasted” Aesop

Today I bought 30 Roses…

ImageI had just left the restaurant after having a delightful lunch with my husband and two of his coworkers. My husband had sent me a text earlier, inviting me to join them for lunch. I have to say that we had some great conversations and laughed A LOT! I’m not sure what was more fun, listening to the funny stories they shared, or watching them laugh so hard I thought they were going to cry. It was definitely a much needed break from my work day.

As I got in my car to leave, I remembered that I needed to pick up some laundry soap. So…I drove to the nearest grocery store to buy some. Upon entering the store I noticed all the beautiful flowers for sale. I’ll admit that on most grocery trips, I walk right by the flowers with nothing more than a quick glance in their direction. Today was different…

As I walked by the flowers, I looked at all the beautiful varieties and vibrant colors. I kept walking on by, as usual, when I suddenly decided to turn around. I walked back to the flower section and moved among the flowers, glancing at all the many choices. My eyes were naturally drawn to the roses, as they have always been a favorite of mine.

I soon found myself standing in front on the many, many, roses they had on display. I took in all the vibrant colors, and the aroma that wafted into the air surrounding them. While there were a variety of vibrant colors, I found myself searching for the white ones. They have always been my absolute favorite!

I spotted several bunches of white and ivory roses. I decided that today, the ivory colored roses seemed to draw my attention more. I picked up a pre-wrapped bunch, which contained 18 ivory colored roses. I decided I would buy them on an impulse. As I prepared to walk away, my eyes rested on a dozen red roses at the other end of the display. Okay…that was it. I was buying both!

I don’t often buy myself flowers, but I said to myself, “Why not?” I love flowers and the beauty they provide. Most often I observe them in their natural state outside. However, I have always loved a beautiful display of flowers in a vase. Today I was buying 30 roses for myself and completely happy with the arrangement.

When was the last time you bought yourself, or someone you love, flowers?

As I stood in line to pay for my roses today, I noticed the gentleman in front of me. He was waiting to pick up some flowers he had obviously purchased. As we began to chat, while we waited, he said to me, “I’m going to break into my wife’s car today while she’s at work.” He had a huge smile, that brightened his entire face, and I could tell he was excited to surprise his wife with flowers today. I smiled contently, as I watched and listened, to this kind man who was obviously planning to surprise his wife today. He was so excited, to share his surprise with me, that it was obvious he loved his wife very much.

How do you show your love for those you care about? Oftentimes, it is the small, simple gestures that mean the most. It doesn’t have to be flowers. It could be a simple note telling them you love them. Perhaps its a text message during the day to let them know you’re thinking of them. Maybe, its just spending time with them.

Often, we get caught up with our own busy lives, and all we have to do each day. It’s easy to forget to stop, and pay attention, to the subtle signs that could easily be overlooked. Think about those you love, and take the time to really notice them, each and every time you see them. Are they worried, stressed, happy, sad, content, overworked, exhausted, sleep deprived, serious, or playful? Consider how their day may have gone and find a way to do something kind for them. Remember…its the small things that matter most.

4:30 am is REALLY EARLY!

My adorable daughter and granddaughter who came to visit recently.

Okay, I’m back. It’s been about 3 months since my last post and time to write again.

This morning I awoke at 4:30 am to get up for my new morning workout schedule. I’ve been trying to determine the best time to workout as my life is much busier than last year. I finally concluded (with the help of my husband and daughter) that 4:30 am would have to be the time. I’ll admit that I had mixed feelings about getting up that early but I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself actually excited to head to the gym. I actually think I’m going to like that time.

When we walked in to the gym there were only a few people so it was wide open for anything we wanted to do. My husband, daughter and I all walked off in different directions as we had our own plans in mind for our morning workout routine. It was fun to have them there with me and just knowing that we are going together makes it a little easier to arise so early.

My goal is to go at least 5 days a week (preferably 6). After my injuries last year its taken me a while to get back into working out regularly again. My first day back was Saturday and just after Saturday’s and today’s workouts I am already feeling sore. I must admit that even though I’m sore, it feels good to be back.

I grew to love P90X last year and will most likely toss some of those workouts in now and then, but for now I’m hitting the gym and varying my workouts to keep my muscle groups confused and constantly improving. The one session of P90X that I plan to implement regularly is the Ab Ripper X routine. It’s brutal but REALLY WORKS! I’m going to start adding that in again next week.

Wish me luck as I “get back on the wagon” so to speak.

The photo I’m including was taken recently when my daughter and granddaughter came to visit. I just returned from visiting them last week as well and my granddaughter started walking while I was there. So fun to spend time with them. For those of you who are family, I’ll try to post some new photos soon of Ady’s first birthday.

Short & Sweet

We just finished spending the past two weeks with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in town. It was fabulous! Being a grandma is incredible. I can’t even describe how happy I am every time I get to see and hold my granddaughter. It was a little disappointing this morning waking up without being able to hold my smiling, happy granddaughter before heading off to work. Adalynn is such a delightful little girl and so full of smiles and laughter that she is truly missed.

I had big plans to take lots of photos of her while she was here but ended up spending most of my free time playing with her and holding her. I did manage to snap a few photos though and thought I’d share a few here so our extended family could see how much she’s grown.

We were able to take Jessica, Ryan & Ady with us to cut down our Christmas tree. Ady had great fun checking out all the trees and people along the way. Here are a few photos of our adventure…

Here is Ady watching all the fun taking place…

Freezing cold but hanging in there…

Walking through the forest with her mommy…

Pretending to be a Christmas Tree ornament with her daddy…

No dad, I don’t think that is a proper Christmas tree…

Finally headed back to the car after finding the perfect tree. Thanks grandpa for carrying it!

I was able to snap a few photos of Ady while we were relaxing at home with the family too. Here are a few pictures of her…

Smiling for Grandma…

Pretty please can I have another cookie?

Ady loves to clap all the time, especially when she’s happy. You can’t help but smile when you watch her…

It was so much fun having all of my children home for a couple of weeks. As our children grow up our family just grows in size as new ones are added to the mix. I’m so grateful for all of my family and the happiness and joy they bring into my life.

Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life like spending time with your loved ones. Smiles and laughter are good for the soul so be sure to smile and laugh often…

Counting the days…

Ady is sitting up all by herself and has 2 teeth now. What a cutie!!

Today I woke up thinking about my darling granddaughter. She lives in another state so I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like, however my daughter and son-in-law are wonderful about texting me photos and short video’s as she is growing. My daughter and I skype often so I can “see” Adalynn and chat with her face-to-face (over skype that is). Technology has made it a little easier to be so far away but it just isn’t quite the same as being there in person. I’m counting the days until I get to see them all again in person. Just a couple more months.

I can’t explain the joy I feel at being a grandmother. It’s a wonderful feeling. When they say you find joy in your posterity it is really true. Today I am grateful to not only be a mother but a grandmother. Life just keeps getting better.

What are you grateful for today? Take a few moments to make a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life. When you count your blessings you realize how much there is to be grateful for.

Fun In The Sun

We just returned from a fun filled family vacation at the cabin. Many thanks go out to my husbands family for making our time with them so much fun. This post is dedicated to my father-in-law and his wife so they can share in the many photos we took from our time with them.

“The Cabin at 10 Acre Woods” is a favorite place for my family. We have spent many vacations there and when we’re not all able to go back we’ve sent our children to spend time with their grandpa in the summer’s. Life moves at a slower pace when we’re at the cabin. We rarely look at a clock or worry about the time. We just sit back, relax, and have fun!

The kids love to spend time in the lake and that is where much of our time is usually spent. The cabin sits on 10 acres with 1000 feet of waterfront on a spring fed lake. The water is crystal clear and refreshing to swim in. Launching the floating dock out into the lake is always a fun adventure. My three boys took on the task this year and had a blast doing it. Here’s a few photos of the launch and anchoring it down so they could jump off it.

Here's our three boys as they push it out into the lake to begin the process.

Once the dock is pushed away from the shoreline the kids scramble to get into place so they can begin paddling it out farther into the lake. James had the easy task of enjoying the ride while his brothers paddled them out into the lake.

Getting ready to paddle...

I love this photo of my boys. They had so much fun taking the dock out into the lake so they could jump off and swim in deeper water.

I love this photo of my three boys!

Jeffrey decided to be the first to jump in so he could test the depth of the lake to make sure they’d moved it out far enough into the lake. Big brother,  Jonathan, dropped the ladder so Jeffrey could climb back up. I love this photo because it actually looks like Jeffrey is walking on water…

Jeffrey wanted to be the first to jump off!

James decided to be next to jump off and didn’t waste any time jumping in. Jacqueline, Jim and Patricia all made their way to the dock rather quickly as well.

James has no fear of the water and jumped right in! A big thank you goes out to my niece, Tiffany, for spending the last two summers teaching James to swim stronger and better. He absolutely LOVES swimming now!

Knee boarding was one of the funnest adventures this year. My daughter, Jacqueline, could hardly wait to go! She had spent time at the cabin last year with her cousins and knew how much fun it was. She was amazing and it was so much fun watching all of her crazy expressions as my husband tried to make her task more challenging. After Jackie had her turn she decided to show her youngest brother, James, how to knee board. He had never been before but learned very quickly. He amazed all of us with how quickly he was able to get up on his knees. Here’s a few shots of their adventure.

Jackie just had to show off a little…

Enjoying a sweet ride.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jacqueline as she maneuvered all over the lake…

Loving the ride.

Jackie decided to stay in the water as she taught James what to do. Little did we know that she would end up staying in the water for much longer than she planned. James got up so quickly that we had to leave her in the middle of the lake as James cruised around on the knee board. Thank goodness she had her life jacket on and there weren’t any other boats on the lake. James had a blast smiling at her as he cruised by, multiple times, as we took him around the lake.

Teaching her little brother how to knee board.

Here’s James in the water getting ready for his first try…

Learning the ropes from his big sister and getting ready to begin.

Here is James as he just begins his first run. One minute he was laying down and the next minute he had jumped up onto his knees. My husband and I kept looking back and forth at one another saying, “Did you see that?” We were shocked he got up so quickly.

So excited for his first turn on the knee board.

Here’s my little boy enjoying the ride…

Absolutely LOVING this new sport.

It’s usually pretty warm at the cabin so the kids spend lots of time in the water. My oldest daughter joined us at the cabin and brought my granddaughter with her. Ady had lots of fun checking out the water! Here’s a few photos of the kids and the lake.

Ady checking out the water for the first time…

Jess had fun dipping Ady's toes in the water to get her used to it before putting her legs all the way in.

Ady getting knee deep in the water…

I love how excited she is. She was giggling at the new sensation of standing in the lake and feeling the soft sand on her toes.
A few of the kids are patiently waiting for Grandpa to come take them inner tubing. I love how peaceful and still the lake is in this photo.

Jess & Ady watching as the kids take off inner tubing with Grandpa…

Sitting on the dock watching as the kids take off to go inner tubing with Grandpa.

This was one of the first photos I took at the cabin. The kids could hardly wait for their first dip in the lake…

This is where we spend a great deal of time swimming.

Here’s a view to the south of one of the docks showing the various boats kept on the property for enjoyment. I realized after reviewing all my photos that I didn’t take a turn in the paddle boat this year. I love going out in that and peddling all over the lake. Oh well…there’s always next time.

Just a few of the many fun things to do on the lake.

Here’s a view looking north of the dock showing the shoreline. The water seemed a little higher this year as it came all the way up to the grass & trees. Normally when we go there is a few feet of sandy beach along the shoreline…

One of the days we spent at the cabin the weather was a little on the chilly side. My father-in-law decided to head outside and chop up some wood to stock up for the winter. Jessica, Jonathan and James decided that sounded like fun and followed him outside to help. Little did they know that the weather would turn wet and they’d end up finishing in the rain. They were all great sports and didn’t seem to mind the rain at all.

After spending some time watching his older brother chop wood, James decided he wanted a turn. Grandpa was kind enough to find a saw for him and took some time teaching him how to saw off some of the smaller, lower branches on the nearby trees that could be used for kindling.

Jonathan helped chop up a lot of the wood and then he and Jessica loaded it all up into the wood shed. Yes, they got a bit wet…

I love this photo of my father-in-law! The kids had so much fun working with him to chop up the wood.

Are you wondering what the cabin looks like? Well, here are a few photos of the cabin and the property surrounding it. It’s so peaceful here that I always feel like I could spend my entire summer here. My father-in-law and his wife bought the property years ago and have spent a great deal of time improving the property and the cabin over the years. When my oldest two kids would go back to spend summers with them it was just a tiny one room cabin that they built by hand. The original cabin is still part of the house today. They added the larger section about 10 years ago along with indoor plumbing and electricity.

Here’s a photo of the cabin and deck.

Here’s a view of the side of the cabin showing the smaller section, which is the original, hand-built, cabin. It has a screened in porch facing the larger main deck today.

A huge deck surrounds the south and east sides of the cabin offering plenty of space for BBQ’s and relaxing. They have fabulous lighting around the outside in the trees and down the railings of the two staircases.

We had a couple of huge campfires at night and made S’mores one night (which were delicious I might add).

Our vacation time at the cabin would not be complete without our family photos taken on the stairs. We do this every time we go and its fun to see how the kids have grown over the years.

Here’s Grandpa Jack and the kids.

Here’s my family. Everyone is here except my son-in-law (we missed you Ryan!).

Jim and his dad…

I can’t forget to include some photos of the rest of our extended family that we saw while visiting.

Here’s Jim and three of his siblings.

Here’s a photo of my husband and our two daughters and granddaughter.

I love this photo of Jacqueline and my granddaughter Ady. It seemed that every time I turned around someone different was carrying Adalynn in the pack. Fun times!

My wonderful husband. This photo was taken as we were cruising up the Mississippi river on a paddle boat.

Jim and I on the boat on the Mississippi river.

Two of my beautiful nieces. We had so much fun spending time with them and their parents.

Jackie and her aunt Kathy. Jackie actually had no idea that Kathy was behind her when I snapped this photo. Kathy saw me getting ready to take it and quickly leaned down to get in the picture. Jackie was so surprised when she turned around after and saw Kathy so close. It was actually quite funny!

Mary Kate was FABULOUS with Ady and spent a great deal of time playing with her while we were visiting them. Ady loved every minute of it too!

My sister-in-law, Ginger, and my niece Kelianne.

My oldest son, Jonathan.

The spectacular view from my sister-in-law’s (Kathy) house. I LOVE her view!

My post would not be complete without a few more photos of my kids and granddaughter…

My youngest son was thrilled to find this fountain after our cruise on the Mississippi River. As soon as I’d snapped this photo he immediately took off his shoes and cooled his feet off in the water.

I think James started something because pretty soon everyone was taking off their shoes and dipping their toes in the cool, refreshing water.

James was thrilled when his Uncle Pat let him ride his motorized scooter! When we went for a walk that night he rode it right along beside us the entire way. He thought that was the coolest toy ever! Thanks Pat for sharing your toy with him.

My two youngest boys had fun swinging with their niece on the porch of their Aunt Kathy’s house. Jeffrey spent many hours curled up in this hammock chair reading a book. The temperature was perfect out on the screened porch and the view was spectacular.

Uncle Jeffrey and Ady

Here’s James and Ady taking their turn in the hammock chair. James was making sure to hold her in safely so she didn’t fall out.

This is one of my favorite photos of Adalynn. The colors are so vibrant. She sure was a great sport and so happy the entire time. I kept telling my daughter that she was blessed with the perfect baby! Ady was always happy and smiling for everyone.

Adalynn had lots of fun hanging out with her Grandpa Jim. Here she is sitting on her grandpa’s lap out on the deck at the cabin.

Even though my son-in-law wasn’t able to come with us on this trip he was always just a phone call away for my daughter. Here Jess is talking to Ry on the phone as we hung out on the porch of Kathy’s house. Good Food, Fabulous Family & Lots of Fun!

My two daughters and my niece spent a quiet afternoon hanging out with me on the porch. Much needed “Girl Time”. Ady had fun hanging out with the girls.

I snapped this tender photo of Adalynn the night before we flew home. She had crashed on my bed and was sleeping so peacefully that I just had to take a photo. She had a fun filled busy week and was all tuckered out and ready for a good night sleep.

Well, that’s about it for my photo journey of our vacation. I have literally hundred’s of photos that I took but thought I’d share these so that our extended family could see some of the pictures from our trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. Thank you to all of our family who made this trip so much fun! We Love You!!

Eating Can Be Exhausting!

I had to laugh today when I received this photo of my granddaughter via text. Eating can be so exhausting when you’re little. At least she fell asleep with a full tummy.

I remember the days when my children would fall asleep in their high chair, or even at the table, with their face in their plate. This picture brought back so many memories that I had to laugh.

Do you ever feel this way after you eat? Have you ever fallen asleep at the table? I know my children have. Usually when it happens it is after a long day of playing hard. That’s when I know they’ve had a great day! Their little bodies just get tuckered out and no matter how hard they try they just can’t stay awake. Oh, to have that luxury of drifting off to a deep, sound sleep and having someone carry you to bed.

I’m so glad that my daughter and son-in-law captured this sweet photo for me today! It makes me feel like I’m a part of her daily experiences even though I’m in another state.

If you have little children, take a moment to snap a photo of something in their everyday routine and send it to their grandma or grandpa. Trust me, it will make their day!