Monthly Archives: April 2015

A glimpse of Heaven

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in West Michigan ~ crisp, bright and I’m enjoying the sounds of morning songbirds  … and lawnmowers.

Soon I’m off to brunch with Hubbs’ family – aunties, uncles, cousins, second cousins, in-laws, and outlaws (ha!).  Some I’ve known for years, others I’ve never met before.  One I introduced you to here.

Hubbs is off golfing so he’ll go next time.  That’s something I love about this family – they pull me in and count me as one of their own.  And, living so far from my kin, it’s lovely to feel part of another’s.

a glimpse of heaven

What are you up to today?


Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Friendship, Fun, Home, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Random 5 Friday ~ TV dinners, road trips, community and common sense

Random Five Friday pic

It’s Friday and here are 5 random happenings and thoughts from this week:

1.  Hubbs and I talked about this a couple of days ago but who else remembers when TV dinners were good and something to look forward to?   I remember, on special occasions, Mom coming home from town with some of these.  Our excitement was palpable as we placed our foil trays into the oven and, later, peeled back the cover and attacked the fried chicken, potatoes, vegetables and little apple or cherry dessert.  It was even better if Mom and Dad were going out for the night and my cousin and I had an Elvis movie coming on at 8!   Haven’t had one of these in 35 years but I still smile at the memory.

tv dinner

Oh yes!

2.  Road trip Wednesday crossing three counties and at least 3 weather bands.  Several times I drove through freezing rain or flurries.  On my way to my last appointment, I rounded the bend on a country road, and spotted something odd.  It took me a few moments to realize what I was looking at: newly shorn sheep shivering in the snow.  (Say that seven times – ha!)


Dude! It’s way too early for us to be naked!!

3.  Stopping for gas yesterday morning, an older gentleman was filling his van up just ahead of me.  As the wind blew my hair sideways I looked up, his eyes met mine, I smiled and commented, “So much for Spring, hey?”  He laughed and replied, “I know, we just got home from Florida yesterday, and I told the wife next time we’re staying there!”  He chatted a bit more about their trip there and the snow on the ground at his home here and what a crazy year it’s been weather-wise.  He paid his tab, wished me a good day, and off he went.  And as I left the gas station, there he was at the next intersection, giving me a hearty wave good-bye.  I smiled, waved back, and gave thanks for living in a place where weather is always a safe topic and more people than not are friendly and nice.

4.  I’ve been out of the office a lot lately and something I’ve had reinforced again is a simple rule of business etiquette.  When I’m away, I put the “out of office” message on ~ I let internal employees know how to reach me and my team and external contacts know I am away until X time or date.  I do the same with voice mail.  This helps manage the influx of requests, keeps inquiries and tasks moving, and lessens the “Hi it’s so and so; call me back please” messages — simple, effective, and irritating when others don’t do it, too.   Yes I know we live in a 24/7 society and instant everything but there are times I’m in meetings or out of range.  I’m not a Fireman and managing expectations has become as important as meeting deadlines.


5.  Saw this recently and laughed out loud.  I’m pretty sure our dog Frankie would have answered to these names, too!

stop that dog

Do you remember having TV dinners on special occasions as a kid?  What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen on a recent road trip?  Does it make you happy when random people comment on the weather to you?  What rules of business etiquette work for – or annoy – you?  And what other names do your pets answer to?

Happy Friday, peeps!

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Family, Food, Fun, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Mom, music, Personal, Random, Seasons, Thoughts, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Life, lies, trees and hell

Last night, wandering through the house, I found myself thinking about Mom.  Why?  I did something she taught me – and you’ve done it, too.  That moment when you head to a room and forget what you’re there after?  She calls those the “here-afters.”   I was in the basement before I realized what I wanted was 2 flights up.  Geez.  I sorted myself out and found what I was looking for and went on my way.


Life’s like that though, isn’t it?  We get busy zipping around, doing our thing and other things distract us from what’s at hand.


I’m attending a workshop soon and part of my pre-class “homework” includes thinking about answers to several thought-provoking questions ~ some were easy for me,  especially the question about passion.


What I’m passionate about always comes down to this: it’s what’s not negotiable. It’s what I could never, ever leave behind.  It’s how I behave and who I am whether anyone is around to know. I know, and that’s enough. It’s honing the traits and values that I’ve carried with me from middle school to middle age.  It’s all of that and what’s yet to come.


To that point, I saw this clip this morning and what he had to say resonated with me.

Have you ever had someone try to make you part of their lie?  Have you pulled back and found your own character in question?   There’s a lot of truth in him saying that we all lie – maybe not like that lady does — but we tell ourselves lies like these all the time: “I’m fine,” “It’s no big deal,” “I don’t care,” “I can’t,” or, worse yet, “I’m not worthy.”

But, to that end, I’m not helping you go to Hell, either.



Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, fear, Growth, Home, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Random 5 .. Thursday ~ Love and Death

It’s Thursday already?   How did that happen?  I won’t be blogging tomorrow (more on that later) so here’s my very Random 5 for this crazy week:

1.  My supervisor’s mother passed away last weekend after a lengthy illness.  She was in her eighties and had lived a long, full live.  I’d met her a few times and she was a neat lady, so I was genuinely sorry to hear the news.  Stopping to buy a Sympathy card I suddenly had the thought that I should buy more.  I shushed the thought, bought the card and left the store.

2. The next day we received the shocking news of a young relative’s passing. Background: Hubbs brother passed suddenly 29 years ago, at the age of 29.  He left behind a little girl, Hubbs’ niece, who was 4 then.  The situation was tragic and life-changing and Hubbs talks of him often but always with that sad “what-if” look in his eyes.  Well this little girl’s Mommy went on to marry and have another family.  It was her son, niece’s brother, who passed.  At 28.  The similarities are just too close and when I told Hubbs the sad news, his eyes clouded over and his face went grey.

3. Feeling helpless, I did what I do in these situations – cook, clean or organize.  Since I was going to be on the road today, I knew cooking was out of the question.   And people wouldn’t be gathering at our house, so cleaning wasn’t necessary.  So I sent a private FB message to all the cousins and aunties and uncles to let them know the news and to rally support for our girl and her family.  Soon I found myself talking to the funeral home staff who said “sure you can bring food here for the funeral luncheon, c’mon over.”   We have a big family and all they needed was for someone to circle the wagons:  casseroles and desserts are being prepped as I write this.

4. Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Funeral Home, met the Director, and loaded up the kitchen with food I’d bought:  pre-made deli salads, veggie trays, chips, dip, rice krispie bars, punch and more.  I heard a door slam and found myself alone.  In a Funeral Home.  Let’s just say the speed with which I exited could have qualified me for the Olympics!

5. On my way home, I made one more stop and this time I bought 3 Sympathy cards.  Why?  Not to tempt fate but my experience is that these things always come in threes.


What is your family’s way of coping with grief? Do you band together?  Cook, clean, organize?  Have you ever been alone in a  Funeral Home?

Categories: Faith, Family, fear, Food, Grief, Growth, Home, Life, Men, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Two for Tuesday – the boys

It’s Tuesday – and time for 2-for-Tuesday – pick a topic and go with it.

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!

On Sunday, as I putted around the yard, I noticed a large amount of water on top of the pool cover.  All that snow melt and recent rains amounted to a lot of water – the amount of water that ducks just love to make their Spring home.  The amount of water that starts to pull on the pool cover and create issues for the structure.  ~Sigh~.

Chastising myself for not noticing sooner, I hooked up my little water pump and watched the water trickle through the garden hose and out onto the back lawn.  I knew that, at this rate, it was going to take a long, long time to make any headway.  And I knew about  rain in the forecast.  Geez.

Yesterday morning, fretting about the water, I mentioned it to oldest boy who promptly offered to check his inventory of tools and supplies to see what he could come up with. He promised to call me later and I went on my merry way and forgot about it.  Yep, I stopped at the Hardware store and bought a new, bigger pump and as I pulled into the garage, there he was, big smiles, pulling in, too.  He had a heavy-duty power-pump ready to go.  He labored a while and got the contraption working and the water level soon dropped dramatically. Sorry ducks, no spa for you this year!

Walking with me to the house he offered tips on monitoring the situation all while asking what’s in the fridge these days anyways? After warming up some stew, he chatted happily with Dad and little brother and it was in that moment that I learned another lesson:

Refusing help when you need it is refusing someone the opportunity to be helpful.

We’ve helped him a lot.  I guess it hadn’t occurred to me to let him help me.

Later, I’d left the TV on and gone off to put away some laundry.  When I came back, youngest boy told me, in an outraged voice, that he couldn’t believe what was being shown on TLC.  TLC is an abbreviation for The Learning Channel and that’s a channel I often watch.  But he didn’t know that.  He went on to tell me that he had walked through the living room and a show was focused on domestic abuse.  Why the outrage? Above and beyond the programming – this is a boy who grew up believing the only possible thing TLC could stand for is: tender-loving-care.  I smiled big, hugged him good night and gave thanks for getting two things just right.



 Are you able to let others help you? Does that include your children?  Were the men in your life allowed to be tender or only tough?

Categories: Faith, Family, Growth, Home, Life Lessons, Love, Men, Mom, Personal, Random, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

Random Friday 5 – New Friendships, Old Favorites, Love and Night Life

It’s Friday! It’s time for 5 random thoughts from my ever-swirling mind.

1. I love the smell of Noxzema.   Growing up, that’s what we girls used to wash our faces at night – and that menthol clean smell still means clean to me.  I’ve bought the expensive tubes and creams and gels and every last bit of it sits – and rots – on my shelf.  


2. This week I initiated FB friend requests to a few long-time blogging pals.  You know who you are. Please know this.  My ❤ swelled when you said “yes.”  There’s a lot of things I blog about that I don’t post on FB, so for me to take a risk and invite you in, means I trust you.  My little writing hobby that started 4 years ago blossomed into friendships with some amazing people whose input I truly value.  People I hope to meet one day. My heart grins just thinking about it!

add as a friend

3. Yesterday morning, around 4:30 a.m.,  a thunderstorm rolled through.  I did a tuck and roll and all was right with my world.  Am I the only one who finds a T-storm an invitation to dive deep into slumber-land?


I love this sound!

4.  Hubbs and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this week: 23 years.  Crazy. Recently, I’d made a favorite meal of his and, although he doesn’t usually do so, he announced he was going to indulge in another favorite: bread and butter on the side.  I’d already eaten and the kitchen was cleaned up and things put away. Quietly I took the (supposedly spreadable) butter out and set it on the counter.   Because who wants hard chunks of buttery goodness on a roll? No one.  A while later, he came upstairs to fix his plate, saw the butter and laughed out loud. And from the kitchen I heard this, “Thanks for the butter take-out!  There’s 23 years of loving right there!”  It was a good reminder that cards and flowers are great but often all we really need is to know that we matter to someone else.


Love was in the butter.

5. And with that ~ I’m off. Off to a new city to meet new people and do my job.  Coffee’s poured, tunes are ready, and I am rousing up some old classics like this one:  Ray Price crooning “Night Life” with Willie Nelson accompanying him. Ray’s voice is as rich as his Polyester Fortrel suit and I love it!

What fragrances take you back to your childhood?   Made any new friends lately?  Are you scared of T-storms or do they make you want to get cozy, too?  What simple ways allow you to express your love for someone? What type of music is your favorite to drive to? 

Have a great day, peeps!


Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Fun, Life, Personal, Products I love, Quotes, Random, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Sisters don’t need words

A week ago, my sister had a heart attack.  A week ago, my world stopped.


Time stopped.

Breathing stopped.

Thinking about anything else but her… stopped.

In the scramble of moments that come after an incident like that, you can’t help but think differently.  What you’d do differently, what might still need to be said.

Thank God for technology:  my brother-in-law kept us updated, the best he could, with newsy-news from home, and updates on her condition (a good prognosis now, thank you!).  I texted back and forth with my niece, and she shared my quips with Sissy.

I’ve always had her in my life, you know.

The older, wiser sister coming in from a date, breathlessly telling her two little sisters about the fun times she’d had, all the while brushing her hair and looking like a Barbie doll.

The older, wiser sister, counseling me through college class choices, pestering me to keep my grades where they should be and not to spend so much time working, that work will come later.

The older, wiser sister sewing me skirts and dresses when that was the style and I didn’t have the money to afford such luxuries.

The older, wiser sister with the first grand-child, and choosing me, me(!!), to come on family trips as a “helper” –when in reality I adored his tow-headed self and he was and is my special favorite to this day.

We’ve been through so much — traditions and tears, laughter and fears, holidays and trips, weddings and funerals, milestones and challenges. At oldest boy’s wedding, a family friend commented that it was “so nice your sister could be here for you.”  My response, “My sister has ALWAYS been there for me.”  She beamed and then we both cried.  That’s just how we roll.

She’s home now and doing well, some changes to be made but determination has set in and we talked about this last night.  We laughed, we cried, and we made sure to choke out the words we both felt but had never said: “I can’t imagine a world without you in it.”

“Sisters don’t need words. They have perfected a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks — expressions of shocked surprise and incredulity and disbelief. Sniffs and snorts and gasps and sighs — that can undermine any tale you’re telling.” ~Pam Brown

me, my sister, and Charlie the dog. An Emjayandthem (C) photo

me, my sister, and Charlie the dog. An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Categories: Faith, Family, fear, Gratitude, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Random 5 April Friday

It’s Friday – Good Friday – and here are my random 5.

1. Yesterday, with the windows open, I heard a sound I hadn’t heard in a while: birds singing. Lots and lots of them.  It had rained and their little chirps conveyed their delight at Spring’s arrival.

2. Tuesday my sister had a heart attack.  She’s stable and will be OK – but it was a very close call. Living on a farm, 25 miles from the hospital she nurses at, she realized what was happening, called ahead and had her husband drive her there (translate: drive like h*ll through hills and potholes!! ).  Life flight was soon on scene and she was transported to a bigger hospital with cardiac facilities.  How did I find out? My brother-in-law called his kids and emailed a few of us.  I got his email just before heading off to my grand-daughter’s Kindergarten concert.  I pulled in a few people and made some calls and waited.  The waiting, that’s the hardest part.

3. This little face was the perfect distraction from chaos going on elsewhere:

MJ's Beach-themed Kindergarten concert; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

MJ’s Beach-themed Kindergarten concert; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

4.  Chatting with my Mom,  we both cried while discussing how close we came to losing her and how grateful we are that we still have her in our lives.     Sissy is a nurse, the care-taker, primary caregiver to Mom, the sun in our family’s universe.  In her honor, I baked.  I baked a cake for my Father-in-Law because that’s what I do when I can’t do anything at all.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Caramel icing

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Caramel icing

5.  This morning, I woke up to birds chirping, a cake on the counter, and the knowledge that He loves me this much:

We asked … How much do you love me? And He said “This much.”

And then He stretched out His arms and died.

For you. For me.For us. For them.

For the good, the bad, the weak and the sad.

For all of us. He loves you this much.


** Wishing you and yours a blessed Easter **

Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Home, Life, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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