Monthly Archives: October 2014

Halloween Random 5

It’s Friday! It’s Random! It’s Halloween!  Here we go….

1. I don’t know about you but Halloween was one cool night when I was a kid. Having it land on a Friday was like a gift from above.  A Friday vs. a school night meant one or two extra stops and no strict bedtime ~  that gave us more time to check for razors in apples (never happened) and inventory the goodies in our bags.  Yippee skippy!



2. I was a complete tomboy as a kid.  Sporting a rats’ nest of curls, jeans and a hoodie, I just couldn’t be bothered with dresses and all that stuff.  When you’re busy riding your pony and picturing yourself as some kind of “Billy Jack” outlaw, dresses just get in the way.   So it made perfect sense when Mom bought me a Princess costume and mask.

It was hot with sharp edges ... kinda Zombie like, really.

Hot with sharp edges … and kinda creepy.

3.  At school we had to go around town and collect money for Unicef.  This was done before the hot dogs and the games and treats and the candy toss.  I’m pretty sure that, between the 8 of us in my grade, we collected about $1.49.

Anybody else remember these?

Anybody else remember these?

4. Our forecast is for 40 F temps and a sustained wind of 45 mph.  We’ve been to lots of Halloween parties over the years and, now that I think of it, it’s always been cold … but that has yet to damper our fun.

Hubbs and I and Halloween fun a few years back; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

Hubbs and I having Halloween fun a few years ago; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

5.  Remember me fretting about giving a speech before 450+ people the other day?  I was nervous and woke up with a swirly stomach feeling.  I had a little chat with myself and the gist of it was that I know what I’m talking about and, on the topic in question, more than anybody in the room. And you know what?  I nailed it!  That feeling of accomplishment lingers with me still. Whew!

So .. do tell .. what were your Halloween traditions?   Do you still celebrate Halloween?

I still miss singing for our treats and receiving home-made caramel apples & goofballs.


Happy Halloween!


Categories: Attitude, Determination, fear, Fun, Holidays, Life, Personal, Random, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Two-Five Randoms for a Tuesday

image from

Sometimes I’ll re-read some of my earlier posts just to see where I might have changed or evolved. This post, from January 2011, rings loud & clear for me still today.

25 Randoms about Emjayandthem:

  1. Old people make me smile. I love it when an old fella stops me in the grocery store to tell me a joke .. I know that this moment was his one moment of the day to tell someone his little story. His wife is sick of hearing the same joke over and over so he maybe he makes up a reason to go to the store and find someone else to tell his story to … people just want to be heard, and I love it when they choose me.
  2. Our boys make my heart sing; seeing them fill the doorway, leaving me voice messages that say “love ya mom” and being warmly embraced by either one of them (who both tower over me by about 20 feet) make my heart melt. Every time.
  3. I’m patriotic. “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” make me cry. Every time. “O Canada” (except for the French parts which I’ve forgotten) does as well. I came to the U.S. with $178 and a guitar and I’m so grateful for what I’ve been able to learn, who I’ve met, and the life we’ve created. Being a dual citizen, how cool is that?
  4. Black licorice is still my favorite candy.
  5. The hubbs makes me laugh. There’s something sexy about a man who can laugh with you and at you. He’s also a very good listener. We don’t always agree, and sometimes he can be a bonehead (so can I) but he’s perfect for me.   He’s the kind of man your mother would wish on you … and mine did.
  6. I like the wind and the feel of it on my face:  it reminds me of my childhood home on the prairies. I could never live in the woods as I get claustrophobic if I can’t see the horizon. You?
  7. I love to cook. I can’t cook anything fancy; I cook like my Grandmother – good, hearty, soul-filling food and lots of it. When I cook, I pay tribute to my mom, my Aunt Irene and my Grandma F.– the 3 greatest cooks I know.
  8. I am not a camper.  I like being at a campsite, sitting by the fire and looking at the stars … but I’ll sleep in the RV, not a tent, thanks!
  9. The Library is one of my favorite places to be.  I love the quiet, the smells of the books and all the nooks and crannies in which to tuck away and read. My mom got me a library card when I was 5 and I’ve had one ever since! Not sure I’ll ever have an e-Reader.
  10. If I’m upset, I get quiet. If I’m bored, I get quiet and…  I get bored easily.
  11. I don’t believe being related gives you the right to be hurtful. My parents always told us “don’t save your best manners for strangers.” There’s nothing admirable about being brutally honest if all someone remembers about you is …..that you were brutal. However, if you’re acting like a fool, and I’m invested in you, I will find a way to tell you. If I don’t care, I won’t say a word.. I’ll just sit back and watch the show.
  12. I feel great satisfaction when the laundry is clean, folded and put away.  That has happened less than 5 times in my life.
  13. I love music. Playing it, listening to it, recording it, researching it, sharing it. An old friend reminded me of a “mixed tape” I made him in the 80s, and how he still has it, and it made me grin because now I use CDs … same difference. Maybe I was a DJ in another life.
  14. I’ve learned that, as a family, you should eat supper together every chance you can; kids tell you an astounding amount when they’re eating.  (Hubbs calls it dinner, I call it supper….. oh well!)
  15. I really enjoy conversations, especially  juicy ones with new people. Or new topics with old friends. But stupid ones? see #10.
  16. I struggle with the lack of sun during our Michigan winters.  Living near Lake Michigan, we get a lot of cloud cover.  I don’t mind the cold .. but I miss the sun. Ever notice, in late-January, when it’s cold and windy and rotten outside, but if the sun pops out everyone suddenly have a little bounce in their step? That’s me.
  17. Most of what I learned in college has very little to do with what I do in my job.
  18. I absolutely cringe when we’re out with friends and verbal spouse bashery begins. Even in a “teasing” fashion I get embarrassed .. please stop.
  19. My eyes used to be blue, but are now green. How does that happen?
  20. The last really compelling book I read was “Gone Girl.” I have to pace myself with reading because I’ll get so involved in it that nothing else gets done. Nothing.
  21. I love going to the airport!! To watch reunions and to fly home to see my Mom. Somehow I end up next the person … who needs to tell their story; I’ve heard some doozies along the way.
  22. Breakfast is my favorite meal and even better if someone else is cooking it.   3 of my favorite scents occur at breakfast: coffee, toast and bacon.
  23. The best day is when we have a house full of family, something yummy on the grill, drinks, music playing, and laughs together. If there were a candle for that this would be called “home.” 🙂
  24. I didn’t know until they arrived that grandchildren could bring as much joy as they do .. but they do in spades.  I adore my boys but grandchildren have made me slow down, choose my words more carefully and appreciate … everything.   One word: delicious!
  25. My favorite quote of all time is this one: “To thine own self be true.” Know who you are and own it. And if you don’t know who you are and what you stand for, it’s time to find out.
..:: read it ... learn it ... live it ::..

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

How about you?  What are some of your “randoms?” 


Categories: Animals, Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Joy, Life, Love, Men, music, News, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Share a Sunday

share sundaySaw this and laughed out loud.   🙂

What a fun weekend we’ve had ~ watching College Football with friends yesterday, we sampled a Chili cook-off and yummy snacks at our local American Legion Hall. We bought 50:50 tickets in support of cute young Marines who were there raising money for “Toys for Tots.” And, we even got up the courage to Karaoke!

When I took the microphone to sing a Patsy Cline favorite, I flashed-forward to my speaking engagement later this week. I realized then that if I can sing in front of 70 friends and strangers Lord knows I can talk to 400.

Here’s the song I chose; if you’re ever find yourself about to sing at a local Legion Hall, you’re well advised to pick a country or rock classic.  This song drew dancers to the floor and some chair singers, too.

Happy Sunday, peeps! When’s the last time you pushed yourself to try something new?



Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Fun, Growth, Joy, Life, music, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Random Five Friday ~ You can do magic

It’s Friday! It’s Random! Here are my 5 random thoughts on this Friday!

1. We’ve had day after day of bright sun + orange-leaves-so-bright-you-could-drink-from-them colors.  Everywhere I look is a photo opportunity and a reminder that I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers.

2 doors down & Taken on my cell phone.  An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

2 doors down & taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

2. Oldest boy was faced with a dilemma recently: ex-wife landed a new job which entailed two weeks of training in Chicago.  He normally has the wee ones 2 week nights + 3 nights every other weekend.  She called him in a panic referencing this, that and the next person who could share their care with him.  His response couldn’t have made us prouder, “They’ll stay with me. It’ll be fun.  They can have 2 full weeks in one place and we’ll make it work.”  Well, it is a big deal for a single working Dad who has a physical job with varying hours.  But as we saw how delighted they were for all that time – doing homework, picking pumpkins, helping him in the yard, playing with their neighbor friends and leaning into a routine, we knew that even though he’s not yet mastered the pony tail, he has all the important stuff figured out.


3. When I heard the news out of Ottawa … my heart sank.  Giving thanks for bravery and selflessness and for a young life so tragically lost.

RIP Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.  Google

RIP Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. Google

4.  Next week I’m attending a conference with my team.  A couple of days ago I was asked to address the 400+ attending.  I accepted and soon felt a wave of “oh geez what have I gotten myself into.”  Thinking back to 4-H public speaking classes and similar but smaller opportunities over the years, my own sayings came to mind: “Go with what you know.”   The PowerPoint is ready and my comments  prepared ~ and when the time comes for me to stand and deliver – I’ll lean into it, smile and check that off my list!

5. I heard this song the other day and was reminded how great this band was – great melodies, catchy lyrics and beautiful harmonies.  I think I’ll play it on the way to the conference – as a reminder that I can do magic, too.  🙂

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You’re the one who can put out the fire


And how was your week?


Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Joy, Life, music, Opinion, Random, Random observations, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Xnay to the Reach Out

It started earlier this year and peaked in summer.

A saying had crept into emails, conversations and conference calls.  Crept in like some kind of invasive species being harbored by the innocent.

“I’ll reach out.”  “We reached out.” “Let’s reach out.”

One crazily busy day I took notes and counted 20 occurrences … before noon.  I shuddered … we were in deep.

Conference calls were especially prone to it. Example

Call Leader Q: “What’s the status on X?

Someone, anyone A: “We’ve reached out to (any name/any department) but there’s no update available at this time.”

Call Leader Q: “What are your next steps?

Someone, anyone A: “We/I will  reach out again then we’ll reach back to you with an update.”

“Reach out.”

It officially had become the catch phrase for saying you’d done nothing at all.

It was the new cover.

Think about it .. it sounds so gentle that no one’s ever going to challenge it.  Let alone .. follow-up on it.

Oh good gravy.

It’s overdone, misused and now .. meaningless.

The funniest instance happened during a regularly scheduled call at a regularly scheduled time with regularly scheduled participants and a regular percentage therein who  regularly … were never heard from.

One such person was called upon.

A scuffling of papers and scraping sounds ensued.

The reply, “Uh .. sorry I was multi-tasking, could you repeat the question?”  Followed by a mumbled promise to reach out.

I reached out to ensure the phone’s mute button was fully engaged before I LOST it.  Lost it.  Laughed so hard I cried.  In my office. Pounding my desk.  Feeling like the only sane person in the asylum.   That’s when I knew I had to do something.  I couldn’t trust myself not to blurt out “Oh good gravy” on a call.

I paid attention to my words.

I steadfastly avoided the term.

I shared my feelings with my team and challenged all of us to use action words that actually meant something.  Words like: called, wrote, stopped by, checked in on, held a meeting with, followed up with, etc.  And, I also made sure everyone knew that if they were called upon and found they’d missed a step, they could admit it and we’d could go on.   The last thing I wanted was a team giving me mumbled promises about reaching out.

It’s taken time but there’s been a shift. Or maybe I’m desensitized. Not sure.

By all means reach out – but can we save it for charity, compassion, kindness, and … the Four Tops?


What particular office vernacular makes you cringe?  How are you at “touching base,” developing “synergies,” picking “low hanging fruit,” and “brainstorming?”





Categories: Attitude, Determination, Growth, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Thoughts, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Random Five Friday

It’s Friday! It’s random! Let’s go ….!

1.  Our trees are have peaked and with the rain this week many have let go.  There are still beautiful scenes to behold and yesterday I noticed another favorite of fall – that rich  autumn smell. The fresh smell of wet leaves and plants letting go of their summer glory.  The fragrance that reminds us all what Mother Earth smells like and all that she gives us.

Many scenes like this one right now

Many scenes like this one right now

2.  I’ve taken the past 3 days off.  Why?  Because after leading an 8 1/2 month project while also covering another’s duties for 7 of those same months, I hit the wall. Everyone around me asked the same questions: what are you taking time off for? Where are you going? Are you going away? What are you going to do with all that time???? And my answer was the same: nothing. I’m not committing to anything. I’m going to rest, read, rest and read, in that order.  And I have.  I don’t feel the urge to “fill up” every spare minute with more to do.   You?

3.  Heard this morning of that a friend’s Dad passed away last night.  That’s the stage of life we’re in now-a-days.  Most of us have (mostly) grown children + aging parents and there’s a whole lot of both. Tomorrow I’ll make up some soup & other foods and have Hubbs drop it off to the family.   Good thing I am rested and had that time off ~ see how that works?

4. Tomorrow marks 4 years of blogging. 4 years!  In my very first post “Who’s the turkey” I wrote about things that I still write today – Mom, cooking, traditions, personal, relationships, joys, life lessons, and faith.   Some topics can stand the test of time.

5. And this last photo is for my blogging buddy Dianna who writes at “These Days of Mine.”   She has a pair of wild swans who visit their yard in S.E. Virginia and when I saw this picture I had to snag it for her.  Taken in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada earlier this fall, I call this one “Seven Swans a  Swimming.”   Millions of birds are very happy to summer “up north” where the world’s wheat basket is located.   And yes, there are only 68 days till Christmas!

photo credit: Owen Lasseur

photo credit: Owen Lasseur

How’s your week been?  Do you ever take time off just to “be?”  Are you seeing migratory birds in your neck of the woods?

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

The beautiful moment after the door closes

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?  Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

That beautiful moment after the door closes is here and today feels like it is mine, all mine.

an Emjayandthem (C) Photo

an Emjayandthem (C) Photo

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Faith, Gratitude, Growth, Life, Quotes, Relationships, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

R5F – Say Hey ~I love you

It’s Friday and time for 5 random thoughts ~ here we go:

1. Last night I stopped for groceries ahead of the weekend. Why? Those cute lil’ Cub Scouts who camp there on Saturdays, that’s why.  They’re adorable, irresistible and I am absolute putty in their hands. Yes, I dodged them and fully admit it.  Please forgive me.

popcorn_cub scouts

I don’t have a prayer against an army of cute.

2.  Have a couple of friends going through trying relationships of late.  It’s hard to witness because sometimes, as an “outsider,” you can see things the person “inside” cannot.  Doesn’t mean you can say anything though.

True that

True that!

3.  We’ve had cooler temps lately but loads and loads of sunshine.  I don’t know about you but the sun shining just makes everything happier, brighter … and better.

There's a photo opp every 20 feet!  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

There’s a photo opp every 20 feet! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

4.  My cordless phone battery died.  You know the one that made us feel so “with it” cause we weren’t tethered anymore? Well here’s the kicker: no one sells cordless phone batteries now.  I can find a replacement online but .. is this a sign that people really have  dropped the land line?  I still have the (now-ancient) plug-in-the-phone-jack-and-work-without-batteries-phone.   When our power goes out and the cable/phone modem is kaput, it still works.  Hmm … perhaps the cordless phone is out and the land line remains!

Like this .. only beige.

Like this .. only beige.

5.  Heard this song in an airport recently and I’ve been playing it ever since.  Check out Michael Franti & Spearhead singing a happy Reggae-inspired “Say hey I love you.”


And how was your week? Dodged any cute kids lately?  Any relationship advice to share? How are the temps in your neck of the woods?  Do you still have a land line?  Are you digging any new tunes of late? Do tell!




Categories: Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Humor, Joy, music, Opinion, Personal, Random, Rants, Thoughts, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Two for Tuesday ~ Resemblances

So there we were Sunday, oldest boy, grands and I, out shopping for Halloween costumes.  I know Halloween is weeks away but this happened to be a weekend where 1) he had the kids and 2) I didn’t have plans – whoop!

We started out slow but smart – at a Chinese buffet – Yum! The kids love that because they can each dish up whatever they like.  Later, an elderly couple stopped by to compliment them on their “nice” restaurant manners.  Apparently the kids they’d been seated to the night before were “beasts,” per the Grandmother. Yikes, glad that wasn’t the case for us.

Care to play along?  On Tuesdays, pick a topic and segue into it!

Care to play along? On Tuesdays, pick a topic and segue into it!

We arrived at the store and found our way to the Halloween display.  Now if you’re going shopping with me you need to know we try everything – all the displays, the sounds, the costumes, you name it.  We weren’t in a hurry and I think that’s what the kids like the most – we “moseyed” and they had time to point, laugh and be silly.

MJ ran right past the Princesses (yay!) and declared her choice: Supergirl.  AB hand-picked a white Ninja costume with, ahem, built in muscles.  Of course he had to get the $2.00 sword and she couldn’t resist the $4.00 bejeweled mask.    They stayed in costume the rest of the day :).

An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Kids spell love “T-I-M-E” ~ An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Talking over their Halloween plans, I mentioned growing up on a farm and how we couldn’t go “trick or treating” door to door – our nearest neighbor was a 1/2 mile away.  Instead, I told them that my Mom and Aunt would load us up in the Pontiac (with the heat on high) and we’d visit 4 or 5 farms (mostly relatives) where we’d sing a song (Billy Boy) and enjoy home-made treats. By the end of the night – and 5 farm visits later – we had a pillow case and a tummy full of treats.

Most of the time we made our costumes and we recycled year after year.  As we got older Mom would break down and let us buy a costume. Remember the plastic clothing? Freezing cold and guaranteed to rip 20 minutes into the wearing.  And those masks let us all experience our first full facial sweat.  Yuck.

Their excitement was palpable and it was in watching MJ’s facial expressions that I remembered a picture of me taken around that age.

this MJ at age 3; on the back, in my Mom's handwriting is "MJ and The Look!" An Emjayandthem (C) photo

THIS MJ at age 3; on the back, in my Mom’s handwriting is “MJ and The Look!” An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Compare to the cheeks on our MJ:

MJ on her 5th birthday ... look at that excitement!  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

MJ on her 5th birthday … look at the excitement! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Come to think of it, I’ve always loved Halloween and the excitement that came with it.  I wasn’t a fan of the scary/gory stuff (still not) but the dressing up and the planning and the treats and the rest of it?  Bring it on!

Frankie hated Halloween. image from

Frankie hated Halloween. image from

How about you?  When you were a kid, did you make your costume? Ever recycle year over year?  Do you remember a full facial sweat in a gorilla mask?  What was the best home-made treat someone made then?  Do you see family resemblances across your generations? Do tell.



Categories: Animals, Family, Fun, halloween, Holidays, Life, Personal, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Random Pulaski Friday!

It’s Random! It’s Friday! Here are 5 random Friday thoughts ~

1. In addition to today being smack-dab in the middle of a 19 day event known as Art-Prize (an urban, open art festival /contest where what the people think matters most) today marks the start of “Pulaski Days!Celebrating Polish heritage, this is a weekend-long event of kielbasa, pierogies, holubchi (cabbage rolls), beer and of course, lots and lots of Polkas.  Tonight we’ll meet up with friends at one of the Polish halls and eat, laugh and, of course, get our Polka on! I’ll check out the “art” next week – or not.

2. Took a road trip to points north Wednesday.  My meeting started early afternoon so I had time to meet my Father-in-Law for lunch first. Arriving at a restaurant filled with Seniors,  I spotted him at a table about as far from the door as you could sit.  It was the seat you take when you don’t mind everyone knowing you have yourself a lunch date.   It’s also the kind of place where people like to linger because the food is good, the wait staff is friendly and nearly everyone gets called “Honey” or “Sweetie,'” at least once. We enjoyed a tasty meal and meandering conversations and I couldn’t help but think of her, my late Mother-in-Law, and how much she’d have loved that moment.

3.  On Facebook, have you ever noticed that friends & family share recipes of really yummy/naughty foods …  at night?  Sometimes my morning FB feed is filled up with cheese bread, caramel cake and pie recipes.  Right after the posts on workouts.  Hmmm.

4.  Speaking of workouts, I think I own most of them. I get bored easily. There was a time I was running, but then my knees started hurting.  Then came yoga, which I still like, but have never mastered.  Walking bores me and Zumba … well that’s just an epic fail. The only program I’ve stuck with is this one:  Kettleworx.  I found it in the clearance rack (that could have been a sign …) and gave it a go.  I started with the smallest weight and worked up.  The instructor is corny and the editing isn’t great, but it’s a 20 minute weights workout with a slow-enough pace that I can actually .. f-o-l-l-o-w along.  And you know what? It’s working.  I am stronger – noticeably so – and my clothes are looser.   Hmmm.

5. And finally, I have made no secret of the fact that I’m a list maker.  Always have a list. Yes I never find money in a winter coat pocket .. I find a list.   And this little saying here hits way too close to home.You?

oh yeah!

oh yeah!

How about you?  Have you ever danced a Polka? What’s your favorite? (Mine is “Idon’twantheryoucanhavehershestoofatforme)  Any cool doings in your town this weekend? Are you a late night recipe poster? What’s your workout of choice?  And lastly … can you remember a phone number without writing it down? 🙂

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Food, Fun, Humor, Joy, music, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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