Monthly Archives: May 2013

Another excellent adventure

Today’s the day.  The carpets are scrubbed, hotel welcome packs made.

Laundry’s done, supper’s in the crock pot and even old dog is shining.

all this cleaning is stressing me out!

all this cleaning is stressing me out!

Yes, a few last minute errands remain. But, for the most part, we’re ready.

Ready to welcome them in.

You see, my Mom & sister arrive today.

10 months ago, we’d never dreamed of a day like today.

No, at the time, we thought that was the end of future adventures.

But we were wrong.

I’ve written before about her determination and how she mothers;  I’ve written of the pinch felt when I long for my sister.

But today, today all of that will fall away.

Because today, when I stand in that airport waiting area I won’t be ashamed when the tears fall down my cheeks. I won’t care when I hear strangers say “aww.”  I won’t.  I will smile up at my guys and watch as they wipe their tears away, too.  And when my mother and sister appear, we will simply step forward and wrap them up in our love and thank them for coming to us.

And then — then the fun shall commence!

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


me, mom & Patti in Branson, MO, 2007

me, mom & Patti on yet another adventure in Branson, MO

Categories: Determination, Faith, Family, Grief, Joy, Life, Mom, Personal, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

A family of families

Dianna, of Sunsets and Sundaes, presented my blog with two – count ’em – two awards a few weeks ago.  I’m a little behind in accepting, so today I am feeling the love and saying “thank you, thank you very much.”

That's all right Mama ..

Elvis has nothing to do with this post and that’s all right Mama ..

The first award is called “Best Moment” award (moment in time) and accepting this one requires me to answer a few questions:


Who inspires you?   I am inspired by people who are passionate – about their families, their relationships, their golf game, whatever.  Passion. Passion inspires me.


What is the hardest part about blogging, if any?   I wish the “Publish” button was just a little farther away from the “Preview” button.  There have been a few not-ready-for-prime-time posts published before – oops!


What is your favorite quote?  “To Thine Own Self Be True.”  Know who you are and own it. Don’t know?  Find out.  That’s where adventure lives :).

..:: read it ... learn it ... live it ::..

..:: read it … learn it … live it ::..

What is your favorite dessert?   I’m not a regular dessert eater but I have never turned down pie.  Ever.

one end of the pie table.

one end of the pie table at the hometown fall supper.

What skill do you wish you had taken the time to learn when you were growing up?  I wish I’d learned to love gardening like my sisters do but years of weeding cured me of that.

:: image from Pinterest ::

:: image from Pinterest ::

What is the one activity you wish you had the time to pursue?  I’d enjoy traveling more … for fun, not just for business.


If money was no issue, where would you like to travel?   I’d be very happy to drive all over the U.S. States and Canada, England, Ireland and Scotland, stopping along the way to sing some songs, drink a few beers and eat pie :).

The other end of the pie table ... What to choose?

The other end of the pie table … What to choose?

What is your favorite holiday?  July 4th for purely selfish reasons.

image from

image from

What is your favorite pastime?   Spending time at home: listening to music, cooking, reading and hosting special gatherings with friends & family.


I love it when the patio is filled … L-R Uncle Terry – Hubbs – and my FIL John. In the background, son #1, Auntie Karen with baby MJ on her knee. 🙂

What book are you currently reading? I just finished reading “Waking up in Heaven” by Christal McVea.  It’s chock full of hope and redemption and it made me cry more than once.  Good books do that to me.

An excerpt:

There is so much I want to share with them, so much I want them to know. You see, my story is one of hope and forgiveness and salvation, and of the glorious healing power of God’s presence. It’s the story of what I saw and what I learned when, during a hospital stay, I left my body for nine minutes and went to heaven and stood before God. And it’s the story of how, when I came back to Earth, my life was profoundly and permanently changed— changed down to the very core of my being.

Do you play a musical instrument?   Yes, I plink away at the piano and still play guitar.  A graduation gift, my guitar still has the price tag on it, and youngest boy plays it now.  Hearing him play my guitar makes me grin.

Dianna also nominated me for the WordPress Family Award.  (She’s generous like that).


From what I understand, this award is “… is for everyone who is part of the “Word Press Family.”  The award was started on the basis that the WordPress family has taken us in and shown us love and caring as only WP folks can.  You know what I mean — the way people take time to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition.  Source — Shaun at Praying for One Day.

This award has no questions to answer but it does ask me to nominate at least 10 others in my blogging “family” — I’m asking you to visit those folks whose faces and blog symbols appear along the upper left of my blog — after  nearly 3 years of writing, they always make me feel included and appreciated as a family should. These are the folks whose thoughts I enjoy reading and the ones I’d love to sit down and sip coffee with … over a piece of pie, of course!

And since Dianna is a a “Barn Charm” gal, here’s one for just for her collection — my Grandpa’s barn.  Home to Belgians and Herefords, alley cats, bats and puppy dogs; home to the lazy days that housed this prairie girl’s childhood.  Thank you again sweet friend!

... Grampa's barn ...

… Grampa’s barn …

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Life, Personal, Quotes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

What you can do today

* originally published May 28, 2012

image from

image from

Monday is Memorial Day here in the United States.

A day to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and safety.

What can you do today?

By all means, please enjoy a BBQ, the sun on your face and a drink in your hand.  Laugh and goof off with family and friends.  Stand in the yard and look up at the sky and revel in the fact that you can do all of these things without fear.

And then, then you can say thank you.


It’s simple, really.

Don’t know a veteran?  Local Military hospitals and Veterans Homes would be love to have you volunteer. You can give your time or money. Don’t have a lot to give?   That’s perfectly fine … you’d be surprised how far your monies can go.

When I became a citizen, I asked family and friends attending my celebration party not to bring gifts but instead to buy raffle tickets benefiting our local Veterans Home.  Together, we raised over $250 for the “fun” fund – this pays for birthday parties, bingo prizes, board games and such.   I’ve never been prouder – or smiled harder – than I did walking into the V.A. home to present that check.  The same group buys small items for resale in their gift shop: at Christmastime, residents can “shop” for family and friends far away.     It’s fun to pick items up throughout the year and bring them forward in the fall.  Smiles all around.  Volunteer opportunities can be found here

Lastly, please remember the thousands of men and women still serving us every single day.    Operation Gratitude aims to provide comfort items to troops overseas.    I like to find Beanie Babies(R) at Garage sales and donate discounted candy; my elderly father-in-law crochets scarves and blankets.  Together, we pool our donations and giggle as we mail our contributions. You can find a variety of ways to help by visiting their website here .

All gave some, some gave all. To our military and their families,  thank you.

Categories: Charity, Faith, Family, Growth, Holidays, Life, Love, Patriotic, Personal | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Grow the people

I’ve been thinking a lot about something — something that’s had me troubled since I took the  new job 6 months ago.  Sure, I knew how the department worked, I’d been a key part of it for years. I had a list of what needed tweaking and where changes could be made.

But an area I was least familiar with turned out to be the most important of all.

You see, because the other employees were my colleagues all those years, I really didn’t know what it was like for them.   Now that I was their boss, it was my job to find out. 

Located all around the state, none of us share an office and we rarely see each other. And even though my management style and the previous boss’s are vastly different, I didn’t want to make changes too quickly.

So I started out slowly.  Visiting the team, spending time with them on their turf. Listening.  Bringing forward their ideas, offering encouragement. Bridging the gap between trusted colleague and trusted adviser.

I found myself thinking most about an employee who should have been promoted long ago.

He was doing Manager level work, and had been for years. He wasn’t being paid Manager-level wages.  Oh no, that had never happened, despite the promises made by another.

He didn’t have the right title, although he had all the responsibilities that go with it. Not having the right title meant he often was left off emails sent by other departments.   Not having that information left him at a deficit and unable to perform to the best of his ability.

This wasn’t right.

How to fix it?

I talked with H.R. and my supervisor and slowly but surely,  made it clear that his move up was priority #1.  I kept that move on the forefront of conversations; just enough to have it remembered, not enough to be annoying.


Because here was someone working hard and not getting ahead for it.

Isn’t that why we go to work?

For the reward? The money? The status?

The more I dug into it, the madder I became.

At the years of indifference.

Years of neglect.

The years of hard work for another’s benefit.

No, not this time.

It was not for nothing.  It was going to be for something.

I am delighted to report he got the promotion he deserved and some more money, too.  He’s a proud man, and his quiet but dignified “Thank you, thank you so very much” was beyond meaningful to me.   We laughed about his email in-box “blowing up” with congratulatory notes, and I took great joy in hearing the joy in him.

Thinking about it further, I came to see that this is why I am in the job.

Not just because I understand the policies and can navigate the systems.  Not just because of my experience and good reputation.

No, that’s not it.

I am here to grow the people.

And in there is growth for me as well.

no point climbing the ladder just to sit there by yourself

no point climbing the ladder just to sit there by yourself

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
― Woodrow Wilson

 Have you ever been in a similar position?  Were you able to fix it?

Categories: Faith, fear, Forgiveness, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Men, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

Time passages

Looking through some older photos the other day, I came across some older snaps of Frankie the dog:

baby Frankie

baby Frankie

With oldest boy:

Baby Frankie with big brother Boo

Baby Frankie with big brother Boo

and with youngest:

can't. breathe.

can’t. breathe.

Supervising leaf raking as a young gentle-dog:

in younger days, before the grey

in younger days, before the grey

And later, modeling a shrunken woolen sweater in a move known as the Marino-a-No-No.

you guys are ridiots

you guys are ridiots

He’s been a source of hilarity and a source of comfort, too.

See the smile on Frank's face?

See the smile on Frank’s face?

And always, he continues to do what he does best … stay close.

Grill consultant

Grill consultant waiting quietly nearby.

Time passages.

13 years since he came home with us from the pound.

And always, ever faithful.

There is no faith which has never yet been broken, except that of a truly faithful dog.  ~Konrad Lorenz

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Friendship, Home, Joy, Life, Quotes, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 33 Comments

Bang on the drum all day

It’s Friday.

Friday. Friday. Friday!

2 weeks till my Mom & sister get here :).

The weather’s warmed up and the forecast actually looks promising.

There’s lots to do at the office and plenty to be done at home.

But never mind that.

My conference calls would be a lot livelier if these were in my office!

Conference calls would be a lot livelier if these were in my office! (google images)

It’s Friday.

I just want to bang on the drum all day!


(be sure to crank up the volume for the song below)

Categories: Attitude, Family, Friendship, Fun, Joy, Life, Opinion, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

On Nudges

Last week, I wrote about my travels to D.C. and all that trip meant to me.

What I haven’t written about are all the nudges I experienced while there.

It started with the two Minnesota businessmen seated across from me at the conference dinner, the ones whose accents sounded so familiar.  The fellows who told their stories in the modest way Midwesterners do; what stays with me is how easily we laughed, as though we were old friends reunited after years apart.

There was the English couple making their way to St. Louis; his brown eyes locking on mine when he said, “It’s my Mother, you see, and she wants me to come.” I found myself nodding in agreement.   We talked of the bond between Mothers and children, regardless that she was 84 and he 61. I’d forgotten it was Mother’s Day that coming Sunday.  His wife, serene and beautiful, like Jane Goodall, smiled in support of the journey.

There was the businesswoman softly sobbing in the seat next to mine, our flight delayed again and again because of weather. But it wasn’t the storms that made her cry, it was her husband’s terse texts about being late to their 9 year old’s birthday.

There was the Arizona executive I met at an evening mixer, the woman who smiled as she told me of her Dad’s health challenges and how no other siblings were involved because he was such a cranky-puss these days.   She smiled her way through the fatigue.

There was the skinny smiley cab driver from Afghanistan who showed me photos of his baby daughter and the cleaning lady with the shy smile who never failed to say “Good morning!”

Maybe I was just a country girl in the city overwhelmed with the sights, the smells, the significance.

But I don’t think that’s it.

I felt it. With each of them.

A nudge.

A little push that said, “hear them. see them. listen.”

And so I did.

And in the listening,  that’s where I find the lessons live.

“An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance.  The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.” –  Proverbs

Have you ever experienced nudges like this? What did you?




Categories: Beauty, Faith, Friendship, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

My summer list

Spring’s come late to Michigan; we had snow as recently as two weeks ago. Not surprisingly, everyone around here is thinking ahead to summer.

Asked, “what’s on your summer list?” I found my list rolling off my tongue as though I’d practiced it for days! (maybe some of that’s true).


they're gonna bloom this week I think!

they’re gonna bloom this week I think!

Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy with me at the grill.

Summer Shandy... ah

Summer Shandy… ah

Hanging in the pool till I’m wrinkly and white; cherries, watermelon, corn on the cob and fresh summer peas.


Michigan cherries … yum!

Tigers baseball on the radio .. outside; play dates with the grand kids.


making cookies with the Grands

Summer gatherings, skirts, kitten heels and date nights … all under the light of a summer moon. 

just like this one

just like this one

Lacy sweet peonies that take me back to Grandma’s garden.

"Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the fleurs" - Frankie the wonder dog


Fresh peach cobblers and Texas Sheet cakes, just because.

Summertime means peach cobbler!

Rich chocolate nutty icing poured onto a delectable warm cake? Yes please!

Rich chocolate nutty icing poured onto a delectable warm cake? Yes please!

The squeals of children filling the backyard.

cousins and cousins and more!

cousins and cousins and more!

A contented old dog reminding me to take my time in the sun, too.


Frankie has the relaxing part down-pat.

That’s what I long for this summer.

What’s on your summer list? 

Thanks to Jessie for the inspiration!

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Home, Life, Relationships, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

On Mothering

One of my favorite pictures of Mom & me... having a Killian's in Branson, MO

One of my favorite pictures of Mom & me… having a Killian’s in Branson, MO

A mom reads you like a book, and wherever she goes, people read you like a glowing book review.  ~Robert Brault


We all need someone who believes in us – someone who sees our potential and who encourages us to keep on going when times get hard.  Someone who reminds us of what is working in our life and that tomorrow will be better.  Someone who points out all we have to be grateful for right now.

We need someone who cheers the loudest when we succeed and stays the closest when we’re hurting.

No matter how robust our self-confidence is, knowing that we are treasured is the magic elixir that gives us the ability to be our best.

In everything I’ve ever accomplished and all that I’ve ever experienced, I’ve had one tiny but mighty powerhouse behind me: my mother.

Thank you to my Mom who taught me the importance of a meal lovingly prepared, of make-believe play on stormy days, the joy of reading and the ability to laugh at myself.

Thank you to my Mom for driving me to piano lessons even though I could “hear” the music and didn’t bother learning to read notes; for sewing my skating costumes, helping me finish 4-H projects and listening to me practice my speeches.

Thank you to my Mom who put up with my petulance at 14, what I was sure was true love at 16, and impatience at 18.

Thank you to my Mom who taught me that a real man cries, loves children and animals and his wife, and shows up.

Thank you to my Mom who  inspires me to challenge what I know for sure, to stretch my limits and to never underestimate what can be done.

Thank you to my Mom, who let me have sleepovers, talent shows, weenie roasts and birthday parties.

Thank you to my Mom for teaching me how to have a warm & inviting home; to cook, clean and entertain in a way that makes my family want to be home more than not.

Thank you to my Mom who taught me to not save my best manners for strangers and to, no matter what, stay up for kids coming in at night so there’s always an audience for their stories.

Thank you for my Mom who let me go; who, in spite of the miles that separate us, and the time between our face-to-face conversations, has never failed to rally behind me and say “You can do it, kid.”

Thank you, Mom, thank you.

The greatest gift I’ve ever received … is a Mother who is happy to be one.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

*originally posted 5/6/2011

Want to read more about the 4’11” dynamo?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Faith, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments


Five years ago, Hubbs and I and youngest boy spent the night in Detroit so I could take my citizenship test early the next morning.

Five years ago, I passed that test with flying colors.

Five years ago, I raised my right hand and took the oath of allegiance to the United States of America and proudly stepped forward as a new citizen.

Five years ago, I got my second passport.

Five years.

Five years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that five years later I’d be heading to Washington, D.C. this morning to represent my employer and my state.

Five years.

Only in America!

The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall.‎

…she cried because prejudice outlives passion and because she was sentimentally patriotic.”  ― Irène Némirovsky

related posts:

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Growth, Joy, Life, Patriotic, Personal, Politics, Quotes, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 32 Comments

Lunch on impulse

So there I was yesterday, driving to points north for a meeting with another team.  Recent changes in our company have created opportunities for many, including me. But with those opportunities come changes and with those changes come new responsibilities and with those new responsibilities come questions and concerns.  I think most just want to get it right, but we’re moving so fast right now that many are afraid to ask for help.

That’s where this meeting came in.  Talking with another Manager, she referenced the changes to her team and how a responsibility our departments share has raised a lot of questions.

“Is there any way you’d be available to walk us through this sometime?”

“Sure, how about Thursday.”

This is a role that I enjoy most:  mastering a task and helping others master it, too.  It’s not new, I’ve done it my entire career, but sometimes the ability to share like this gets replaced by other tasks at hand.

Windows down, sunshine in my face, I drove past a “Big Boy” restaurant and I felt it. A pinch. I thought of him: Grandpa to the boys, Step-Dad to the hubbs. Father-in-law to me.  Elderly. Widowed.  Alone.

I called and, of course, got his answering machine. No surprise for he’s never answered numbers he doesn’t recognize.  Listening to his stern message scolding solicitors and anyone daring  prey on this ex Military policeman, I chuckled.  I identified myself, told him where I was off to, and that I’d be back in about 2 hours .. just in time for lunch at Big Boy, if he was free, that is.

About 40 minutes later, my phone rang. The tutorial was already underway but I excused myself to take the call, something told me I knew who it was.

“Hi, this is John.  I’m up for lunch – what time?”

Military man – man of few words — direct and to the point. I like that. We worked out the details with me promising to call when I was on my way back.  Arriving at the restaurant first, I couldn’t help but notice all of the other elderly gentlemen dining …. alone.

slim jim

The Big Boy Slim Jim – yum!

In he came, grinning, and big hugs were exchanged.  We laughed a lot, ordered our lunch, and chatted some more.  He told me how they liked to stop here after her Wednesday hair appointments.   He ordered the “Slim Jim” with the comment “it was her favorite.” We talked about the passing of George Jones and how she’d be tapping her toe in Heaven, now that George and Tammy were reunited again.

We talked of my Mom and sister’s upcoming visit and plans for barbeques he’s invited to and, before long, it was time to go. More hugs, more smiles, and I think I heard a whistle as he walked to his truck.

* “Near You” was played at her funeral

A lonely day is God’s way of saying that he wants to spend some quality time with you.” – Criss Jami

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Food, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Men, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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