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Posts Tagged With: Mom

Strong Women, Grey Ties & Valentine’s Day

As a girl, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a school party, card boxes, ice skating and moms visiting our classrooms.

google.images.com

google.images.com

As a teenager, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a boyfriend if I had one and avoided if I didn’t.

google images

google images

As a young married woman, Valentine’s Day meant cards and flowers – for a while, anyways.  As our relationship evolved, romantic gestures were replaced by thoughtful ones.  Things you can’t buy in the store: taking out the trash; filling my car up with gas on a snowy day.  Running his vehicle through the car wash then detailing the inside myself. Folding the laundry left in the dryer; bringing in the groceries.   It’s the little things  ~ but they’re helpful and kind and nice.  And there’s a flow and a comfort to it that I love.

In my 50’s I don’t wait for someone else to make me happy ~ I make myself happy.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1You see I learned it from her:  My mother was a strong woman and my role model  – 100lbs of dynamite ~ she calved calves, trained horses, wrangled 5 kids, a husband, a 1/2 acre garden, 2 dogs and 14 cats.  She rode in trail rides, taught 4-H and Sunday School, balanced the books and Chaired the Board.  She always got out to vote, once taking the tractor to the highway to catch a ride to the polls. No muddy roads were going to stop her!  Not much ever did!

Mom wrangling a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963 - mother of 5, do-er of anything she set her mind to. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Mom wrangling a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963 – mother of 5, do-er of anything she set her mind to. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Like she did, I go to bed when I’m tired,  take a nap if I need one and I stay up late when I choose to.  I make room for the things I love – books – and never apologize for the space they occupy.  I have learned how to say “no thanks” to stuff I don’t want (or want to do) and “YES please!” to the ones I do.

Years ago Mom bought my sister & I that novel about the guy with the grey ties  ~ She made it clear she had no intentions of reading it and quipped “you can handle it” with a snort.   The two of us traumatized our grown kids by leaving it out on end tables.  The comments of horror from my nieces and the looks our boys shot my way were so worth it.  That was her point, to stir the pot and to remind us we always have a choice.

I chuckle remembering how Mom and I joked that if a good looking, rich man came near us with a grey tie, he’d find himself in some deep do-do.

God, I miss her.

So this Valentine’s Day I wish you this:

  • I wish you the courage to make the leap you’ve been pondering,
  • I wish you dreams in technicolor,
  • I wish you the conviction to change what’s not working, to stop worrying about what others think and to do the things that make your soul sing.
  • Time’s a-wasting and, per the wisest woman I’ve ever known, the only hero we have is ourselves.

 

strong-women

 

 

 

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Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Fun, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Holidays, Humor, Joy, Love, Mom, Personal, Romance, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak

It’s been some time since I’ve written and I’m sorry about that.  I don’t like to write just to have something to post.  I also don’t always want to talk just to talk.  Sometimes … I just need quiet.

My job is so busy right now – and while I am not complaining, it takes effort to carve time out for me.  Work is all encompassing – meetings bleed into evenings, projects spill into weekends, and boundaries shrink as more is piled on and more is expected.   Still – I accept invitations to get out the door and off to someplace new.  I don’t mind travel through poor cell coverage areas (yay quiet!) and I relish hours in the car by myself.

The world seems so loud these days ~ we still have a land line and callers tend to be Telemarketers, Automated surveys, Charities I’ve never heard of .. and older relatives.

I realized the other day that sadly I no longer have the excitement about the phone that I enjoyed as a girl.

See, at our farm, we had a party line hanging in the kitchen and when that phone rang we kids raced to answer it.  Maybe it was Grandma calling to invite us all for cake & coffee on Sunday afternoon.  It could have been Mrs. Prentice calling for an upcoming 4-H meeting I was to attend. Often, it was my cousin giving me a quick call as she saddled up her pony J. Jay and headed my way  – “meet you in the middle!” we’d yell.  Our farms sat about 2 1/2 miles apart – with fields and hills and trees in between.  We’d race up, sweaty and breathless, and ride together back to one farm or the other (or Grandma’s).  Sometimes we’d turn our faces and braids to the north and head to the river valley, talking and dreaming and laughing all the while.  Other times we’d turn south and follow the canal trails down to the lake, jumping our ponies over puddles and logs like the Equestriennes we thought we were.

the best view is from the back of a horse!

the best view is from the back of a horse!

Sometimes a phone call was an older sister’s new beau –against our giggles she’d take the phone as far as the cord would go – and away from prying ears of snoopy siblings.

telephone_yellow

That harvest yellow farm phone was our lifeline: Phones brought wonderful, happy news – “back to bed, the bus won’t start,” “your cousins are coming for two weeks after your birthday!”, “You’ve been accepted to summer camp!” “So and so’s birthday party is at the rink this year and then a sleepover for all you kids!”

Phones also brought somber news – a car accident, a diagnosis, a funeral to attend or cook for or both – and sometimes calls were on behalf yet another dumb teenager stuck at the beach and a request for Dad to come and help.

I can still recite my parents’ number and, even with Mom gone, I’ve called it since.  Her harvest yellow phone is now gone, too.

In the quiet ~ it’s the memories that remain.

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Does the world seem noisier to you these days?  How do you manage the noise in your life? Do you still have a land line? Who calls you?

quiet-the-mind-soul-will-speak-life-quotes-sayings-pictures

 

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Life, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Rants, Technology, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Random 5 – Good-bye 2016

I don’t know about you but I’m OK with saying good-bye to this year.  It’s not been all bad, but it’s been far too rushed-stressed-scheduled-manic-busy for me.   I don’t foresee that the work pace will slow but do I feel a shift in how I’m managing it:  I’m speaking up more and saying “no thanks” where I can. I no longer feel responsible for everyone and everything.  (No one asked me to do that, by the way, but that’s just how I rolled).  The surprising part? No push back.  Huh – should have done this long ago!

Having (most of) this week off has allowed time for reflection.  To think about what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, what I want and where I’m going  – here are my Random 5 thoughts on the cusp of a new year:

1 Traditions can change and you can, too.  Everything about this Christmas was different – everything.  What day we all got together.  What we ate, how we managed gifts, who was here and how we spent our time. I loved it!  Fewer decorations went up and came down sooner.  We stayed in more. We rested – we cocooned.  It was wonderful, magical, soul-restoring.

between-christmas-and-new-years

2 Family – this was our first Christmas without Mom and we all felt the pinch.  My sister called late one night, her voice cracking, and as we connected our tears fell. She was just “having a moment” she said.  “I get it,” I said.  We told our stories and cried and laughed and gave thanks for a Mother so joyfully recalled.

motherhood

3 Gifts – the best gifts are those that cost little but take time and effort and come straight from the heart: this year I made our boys a family recipe book.  It’s not perfect and it wasn’t professional but the joy I felt as they sincerely reveled in it was my gift.  I teased that I chose a red binder for a reason – likening it to the President getting the Nuclear codes – and that they’d best guard it closely.  They assured me they would.  😀

food ina garten

4 Epiphanies abound, case in point:  When we go out socially, I yearn for interesting and fun conversations.  When those don’t happen I withdraw or get frustrated.  Crap – I’m a conversation snob!!  Hubbs and I can have hours-long meandering conversations and I shouldn’t assume they’re available everywhere.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1

Great conversations make me happy!

5 Here comes the New Year.  We’re heading out tonight for Japanese Hibachi dinner with a host of friends.  I’ll find something sparkly to wear and hope for good conversations.  I’ll take a breath and look around and give thanks for the chance to do it all over again next year.  ~ Happy New Year all!

photo from flickr

photo from flickr

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, fear, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Joy, Life, Mom, News, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Random 5 Sunday – Vacation, Naps, Plans and Cheer

It’s time for Random 5 Sunday on the first Sunday in December:

  • Thanksgiving week vacation:  I’ve never taken the whole week of Thanksgiving off. I’ve taken a day here and a day there. But never the whole week. And now, ladies & gents, I do believe I have a new tradition ~  whoop!

good-for-your-soul

  • Hallmark Channel Holiday movies.  While on vacation, I watched at least 5 Hallmark Holiday movies – sometimes I only caught the tail end or the beginning.  You have to admit, the plot is easy to predict most of the time – a beautiful young lass soured on love by a jerky boyfriend moves back to her home town only to bump into the world’s hottest handy-man while shopping for her daughter who it turns out only made 1 friend at school – the (widowed) hottie’s son … and in just a matter of weeks she finds the love of her life, saves a small town business, rescues kittens and puppies and all they live happily ever after, over hot chocolate in perfectly coordinated tartan jackets ~ sigh

hallmark-christmas-movies

  • Naps – glorious, wonderful, and life-redeeming.  Because we stayed on our “normal” schedule during our time off,  just 1 nap was enough. Somehow I kept up on my rest.   Went back to work wide-awake and refreshed.  And good thing, because I clocked 800+ miles last week alone!

kitten asleep

  • Travel plans ~  Sissy and I are planning a “sister’s” getaway – we’ll likely revisit Branson, MO for a week of visiting, shopping, visiting, shows and fun.  We’ve visited there once before, 10 years ago, when we took Mom for her 77th birthday.  What a great time we had – and such a relaxed and friendly place to be.   After our 3rd night Mom happily chirped, “You know, I’ve never stayed in a hotel this many nights and I’ve never gone out for every single meal!”  We were girlfriends on this trip you see, more than mother and daughters.  She loved the adventure and spoke of it many times with fondness.  I know she’d love that we’re planning to go back.
me, mom & my sister in Branson, MO, 2007

me, mom & my sister in Branson, MO, 2007

  • Christmas Spirit:  I wasn’t really feeling any Christmas spirit heading into our Family Christmas party last night.  The hustle and bustle and holiday ho-ho-hos didn’t do it.  Lots of yummy foods, hugs and merriment didn’t do it.  No – it was capturing this picture – of wee cousins (with our grands in the mix) at the exact moment they all cheered “SANTA CLAUS” – that’s what did it.
xmas-party-2016-kiddos

Santa Claus!! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”  ― Roy L. Smith

What randoms would you like to share?  Are you feeling the Christmas spirit yet?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Patriotic, Random, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

It’s not the grief, it’s the longing

Six years ago I registered for this blog site – 6 years!  My very first post involved lessons learned from Mom – you can read it here.

Man, I miss her.  She was my “go-to” person on so much but especially politics.  Oh the conversations we’d be having right now!   She’d snort, I’d laugh and the two of us would conspire like school girls.  I remember her whispering to me once that “none of the other kids read like you and I do” – now some siblings do read, a lot. But the way she said it makes me grin because I know she saw herself in me.  I couldn’t be more proud of the similarity.

This is the same woman who gifted me (and my sister) a scandalous book about grey ties. She had no intentions of reading it but told me, “You can handle it.”  I know she did it to scandalize us… and it worked.    The two of us horrified our (grown) kids by leaving it out on end tables.  The looks my  boys shot my way were worth it.  That was her point, to stir things up and to remind us we always have a choice.  God, I love her.

I’m lucky to have had someone so feisty as my role model.  Someone who didn’t let her gender define her. Someone who slung her purse over her shoulder and leaned in as she marched forward, even when she didn’t know the script.  We talked about this often, how as women we do more – we’re expected to  – be more, accomplish more just to earn a seat at the table.  We often talked about “not having the playbook” and her response was always the same, “you’ll figure it out, kid.” And I did.

So I think I’ve finally hit on out why conversations around me  of late have left me bored: It’s the lack of layers. The surface talk. Not having her intelligent interjections to both jar and delight me.

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
― Stephen King

 

What conversations do you miss having?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, Grief, Growth, Humor, Joy, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Wisdom, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

‘Till next time

There’s no other way to say it than to say it: Mom passed away last week.

She’d been up & down and things weren’t getting better; but we’d been there before, collectively holding our breath.  And then the little bit would rally and surprise us all, over and over again.

Oldest sister sat with her last Sunday and they talked frankly about things; thankfully Mom made her own choices about being moved from the nursing home to the hospital.  “No way,” she said emphatically.  But the meds weren’t working as they had before.  Sissy asked if she was tired and Mom said yes, yes she was.  Sissy told her it was OK to rest that she would sit with her and she did. She asked about calling the others. Mom’s response was a typical Mom response, “Don’t believe that’s necessary.”  Sissy did anyway and they all visited the next day.  The morning after that, Mom slipped quietly away.

Even when you expect it, there’s no way to prepare for the loss of someone you love. You can’t.  All you can do hold on as hard as you can and brace yourself for the waves of grief that are sure to come. Some are Tsunamis, some are ankle nippers.  You try not to drown.  I’m still there, some days floating, other days gasping.

I had booked flights for my nephew’s wedding at the end of July; our oldest son’s wedding is this Saturday.  It was so like her to slip off before all that – not wanting to cause a fuss. It was so like her to put space between those milestones so as not to tamper anyone’s joy.

Tickets have been changed, I’ll leave sooner.

She wanted to be cremated and for us to hold a service “when it made sense.”  That was also so her. We laugh about how, even now, she’s still ‘large & in charge.’  Sobs come through our stories.

We’ll have a service at the grave site then a gathering in the town hall with several hundred people followed by a lunch. There’s no church big enough!!  And not having everything this week or next gives people time to come.  And they are. By the droves.  Not just locally but from all over Canada & the U.S. as well.   Mom was well-known and loved; friends & family want the opportunity to tell their stories and pay their respects.  I’ve tried to help where I can, making phone calls, sending photos, and just being part of things.  But I know when I step off the plane that grief will hit me in the face like a wet towel.  Drafting her obituary last night stung but I was  honored to do so.

As sad as I am and as much as I’ll miss her I know she’s free.  She’s with Dad on a date night, holding the winning ticket to a fast horse, enjoying a hot Rye, her purse just a-swinging.    I smile knowing Frankie’s tucked up under Heaven’s kitchen table getting fatter by the second; she always called that dog “the Gentleman.”  Her Mom and Dad are there, she’s with other pals and family.  Farm dogs, barn kitties and ponies we’ve lost along the way are all snuggled up close to her. How can we be sad at that?

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses - and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

No, the sadness, that’s for us. The sadness comes in knowing we have to wait to see her again. And I’m not that patient.

But mixed with the grief is the gratitude: for all who she was, all that she did, and how deeply we loved her.

I’ve lived far from home for 32+ years. She and I enjoyed many happy visits, there, here, other places, plus other trips and adventures. We had a thing: we never said “good-bye” we always said, “’till next time.”  The last time I was home with her, when it came time to leave for the airport, she stood to hug me and laid her head on my chest. We stood quietly like that, her head on me, me supporting her, and her hugging me tightly. I’ll never forget that hug.  Breaking apart we looked each other in the eyes and said “till next time.”   She smiled and I smiled and headed out the door.

Soon my siblings and cousins, aunties and friends will gather – we’ll share her stories and we’ll sing her songs.  We’ll find ourselves saying the things she would have said. We’ll sip on a Rye and we’ll reflect on the gift of a Mother happy to be one.  On the gift that was her.

related:

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ~ Kahlil Gibran  

angels-kiss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Home, Life, Love, Mom, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Random 5 for Mother’s Day

Mom & I watching the SK football game 3 weeks ago. An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Mom & I watching her favorite football team. An Emjayandthem (C) photo

  1. A mom reads you like a book, and wherever she goes, people read you like a glowing book review.” ~Robert Brault.  If only I could do half the things Mom believes I can!
Mom would call these "Life Lessons"

Mom would call these “Life Lessons”

  1. Mom taught me a lot, but in spite of her best efforts, there remain some lessons that didn’t take: I can’t sew, I don’t enjoy gardening and I never mastered her bread recipe.   Here are the ones that did: sharing a meal lovingly prepared, the joy in make-believe play on stormy days, the places books can take you and the ability to laugh at myself. (Remember her story “I’m Gay?”)
Grandma and Mom in the kitchen together; and Emjayandthem (C) photo

Grandma and Mom in the kitchen together; and Emjayandthem (C) photo

  1. Mom loves music and always had the radio playing in her kitchen, and I do the same.  She also taught me the importance of date nights, of a dab of perfume and a swirly skirt and jewelry that makes you feel like a girl. Mom loved me enough to let me go yet never failed to rally and cheer, “You can do it, kid!”
..:: read it ... learn it ... live it ::..

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

  1. When I think about how much I love my boys, I get how much she loves me.  And I think that when you’ve been loved .. you can love.  ❤ Tomorrow, they’re taking me out for Tex-Mex and Margaritas, laughter and love.  And if she could, she’d be in there “like a dirty shirt.”

get-your-happy-on-quote-1

  1. Some of my best times with Mom have taken place when it was just the two of us; up late in a quiet house enjoying rambling conversations.  In those moments she told me more about herself and her life’s journey than I had known or imagined. Time stopped and we were just two good pals hanging out together– laughing, crying, looking back, and being grateful.   I’m so glad I took the time to know her as a woman and not just as my Mom.

Nameless moments

related:

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.

The 3 words that describe her best?  She. Was. There.

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Happy Mother’s day to all of you!  Please share a favorite memory of your Mom with me!

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Life, Love, Mom, Personal, Quotes, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

Christmas 2015 ~ Changes, lessons and blessings

Christmas has come and gone and with that comes time to reflect.  I have a few days off ahead of me and a couple of closets that need attention.  But I also have new books waiting on the end table … I think the books might win. 🙂

The grand kids were with us the night of the 23rd and all day the 24th, and our family feasted, played and opened presents that evening. It was fun and cozy and wonderful.  But it was also different.  You see things changed this year: they’ve slept over on Christmas eve for 3 years now, and we have embraced waking to two bright little faces … even if they do tend to get up on the early side.

But this year was different.  They wanted to go home, to hang their stockings there with Dad and his fiance.  That’s a very good sign that they know who their home is.

Still, we packed as much in as we could, playing Yahtzee and Dice, making chocolate chip pancakes and lunches/snacks, enjoying Holiday movies like “Elf” and “Prancer” and calling the Santa Tracker regularly to check on the big guy’s whereabouts. We read the story of Jesus’ birth and “The Night before Christmas.”    At the end of the night, as Dad and his love bundled them up, they were sleepy but excited to go home, see the dog and put out cookies for Santa.

Several times that day I had tried calling Mom but she didn’t answer; what I didn’t know is she’s congested again and that impacts her hearing.  The phone is next to her, but she never heard it ring.  Talking with my sister Christmas Day she relayed that she and my oldest brother spent part of the day with Mom and how much she enjoyed it but that it played her out, too.   I shared my connectivity concerns and she suggested I call the front desk and have them bring Mom the portable phone, which we did.  For about 5 minutes Mom chatted with me, Hubbs and youngest boy, and while our conversations were brief,  we all expressed our love and gratitude for her as well as our sincere wishes for a Happy Christmas.  We each had a tear when the call ended. And if the time comes that she can no longer hear well enough to talk on the phone, I guess I’ll have to come up with an alternative.

I’ve beat myself up for weeks,  wondering why I wasn’t feeling it ~ the Christmas “spirit.”

I can see now that life has been preparing me for another change.  Time to let some things go – to roll with the changes – and to land safely on the other side.   I’m trying to remain open as to what He has in store for me.

a time to keep

“Sacred blessings and divine opportunities appear in your life disguised as unforeseen changes and challenging circumstances.” ― Miya Yamanouchi

 

What changes are you sensing?  Are you able to roll with them?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, fear, Grief, Growth, Holidays, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Mom, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Monday wonderings

Woke up to thunder and lightning yesterday, and temps later climbed to 65F here in West MI.   Firing up the oven, I wrangled my cookie sheets and recipe cards and started my Christmas baking.   Sometimes I can be a bit dense – as it took me a while to figure out why I got so warm (I thought it was just a surge)  – between the temps and humidity outside, Hubbs having the furnace set to 72, and the fact that I was wearing sweats  (hello!) I thought I was going to melt along with the chocolate.  I changed into shorts & a tank top, cracked the windows to cool me down and soon got into a baking rhythm, making cookies, fudge, candies and such.  I love those kinds of afternoons because time stands still while I sort, measure, stir and create.   Between 12 and 4pm I clocked 5 miles on my Fit-bit.  5 miles – inside the house – up and down stairs, doing laundry, vacuuming, and baking.   (( The Holidays aren’t for sissies!! ))

And when 5:00 rolled around it occurred to me that we now had a freezer full of sweets but no food (!) ~ back into the kitchen I went to make dinner.

Later, as I faded into my recliner, I talked with my Sister so I could get an update on Mom ( it’s not great); we later chuckled how both of us had put in a Holiday-baking-wrapping-cleaning marathon yesterday and, while neither of us are sick (bonus!) we both felt like biscuits:

busted can of biscuits

Why am I doing all of this now?  I just have a feeling that life as I know it is about to change.  That I may have to step out of my life here and head home to another.  And being busy helps me cope when there’s nothing I can do but …  think.

photo credit news.bbc.co.uk

photo credit news.bbc.co.uk

What’s on your mind this Monday?

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, fear, Grief, Growth, Holidays, Life, Mom, Personal | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments

Love stories

Mom’s settling into the nursing home and my sisters have started the long haul of cleaning out the house.  Sorting, stacking, settling, packing, throwing, reading, crying.  60+ years of living in the home Mom shared with Dad, the same home he grew up in.

I’m not there, I’m thousands of miles away, and the guilt is palpable.  But, so is reality.  I could stop what I’m doing and take a week off and dig in too, and guess what, a week is not enough. They work too, so they’re fitting this in as they can.  One sister gets it, the other grumbles, and I understand and appreciate both.  Again, the guilt …

There are the books, the pots, the pans, the dishes, the china, the crystal, the photographs, the note pads, the junk drawer, the sock drawer, the paper drawer, the plastic drawer.  The Christmas ornaments, the treasures, the junk, the furniture, the appliances, the you-name-its. No, a week would hardly be enough.

But, as my sissy has said more than once, the journey has brought moments of awe – a trunk we never knew about, tucked away in a spot we’d long forgotten, filled with our baby outfits – in pristine condition.  Shorts, caps and vests for my brothers, yellow and peach dresses for my sisters, and this frothy pink confection for me:

baby MJ in this pink dress. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

baby MJ in the pink dress. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

I don’t own pink, haven’t in years.  But seeing this photo again let’s me see myself through their eyes.

They also found letters – from Dad to Mom. She had been away visiting a sister and he missed her is all, and “Scout” the dog wasn’t much of a companion.  He used words like “my darling,” words I don’t remember hearing him say.   I expect he was about this age, or younger, when he wrote to her.  And the love and longing in his words transcends time and miles for all of us.

Dad riding

Dad wrangling a horse in spring. An Emjayandthem (C) photo.

So when I think of them, I think of their date nights, his taking her hand on the dance floor, holding the door and her giggle as she stepped through.  I think about the farmer and the teacher who met on a blind date, fell in love, and built a life and family together.

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses - and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

 

Mom & Dad dancing (and singing) at our wedding

Mom & Dad dancing (and singing) at our wedding, an Emjayandthem(C) photo

Dad’s been gone 11 years; Mom’s carried on and accepted this new phase in her life.  There were many great times, and some that weren’t.  But their love stories – those are the keepsakes that remain with me.

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“As long as you remember the person who loved you, and whom you still love, then you’re making love endure.”  ― Guillaume Musso 

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Have you been far, far away as major life changes took place?  What keepsakes are worth keeping?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Faith, Family, Grief, Growth, Love, Men, Personal, Relationships, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Goofballs & Billy Boy

*originally posted October 29, 2011

Halloween parties meant a costume parade through the entire school! (My grade school ~ An Emjayandthem (C) photo)

When I was a little girl, Halloween was a very exciting time. We had a class  party and costume parade to look forward to, yummy treats to enjoy, games to play and of course …“Trick or Treating.”

Living on a farm eight miles from town, “Trick or Treating” involved 2 absolutes: cold weather and a car.  Mom and Aunt Irene helped us make our costumes and we often recycle pieces of from older costumes into something new. After supper, we’d pile into one of their cars and head out for the night.  This involved a total of five – count ‘em – five farms to visit:  The Lee home (neighbors), Uncle Harley & Aunt Maxine’s, Grandma and Grandpa’s, Aunt Irene & Uncle Jarl’s and ours.   So, depending on who was driving, we’d start at one and end at the others with three stops in between.   It was expected that we’d “sing for our supper” – sing a song, tell a joke or do something entertaining. Our song of choice was always, “Billy Boy” (Oh where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy boy .. Oh where have you been, charming Billy..) because 1) we knew the words, 2) they knew the words and 3) it always seemed to bring the best results.

I still love Halloween! Me & the Hubbs had a lot of fun with this costume.  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Bear in mind that very few treats were “boughten” at that time – most offered us a home-made treat.  ((and trust me, this was the good stuff!!))   Norma and Roy Lee always gave us pop – our choice – orange or root beer – and a small bag of home-made cookies or fudge. Yum!  Aunt Irene was known for her caramel apples; Granny Smiths smothered in a thick layer of buttery rich caramel… mmm.  Aunt Maxine was crafty and loved to carve massive jack-o-lanterns to delight us… and her chocolate fudge was delicious as well.   Grandma made each of us our very own candy bag filled to the top with home-made popcorn balls and cookies mixed in with a few store bought treats – black licorice, toffee, and Old Dutch potato chips.  Smiling shyly, Grandpa always slipped in a can of pop and two bits (a quarter) and we felt oh so rich.  Our pillowcases were filled with to the brim with treats and good wishes.  After much admiration of the genius of our costumes and our profound musical talents, off we’d go to the next farm, darting through the biting October wind, wondering at the sky and trying to spot the witches we just knew were flying around.

At the end of the night, we’d get back home and marvel at the abundance of treats .. but it was always those home-made delights we fought over most.

I remember Mom making us “Goofballs” and I think I’ll make some for my grand-kids today :).

GoofBalls

Goofball image courtesy of theartofmakingthings.tumblr.com

1 pkg. Kraft caramels
1 can Eagle brand milk
1/2 lb. butter
1 box Rice Krispies
1 bag large marshmallows

Unwrap the caramels and place into a heavy saucepan.  Add the Eagle brand milk and the butter and stir until the caramels are melted and a sauce is formed. Remove from heat.

Stick 1 toothpick into a large marshmallow and dip it into the sauce carefully.  Immediately roll the caramel covered marshmallow in Rice Krispies. Set on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet to cool (remove toothpick).    These travel great and kids (and adults) gobble them up!

And .. sing something, will ya?

Happy Halloween!!

Categories: Attitude, Family, fear, Food, Fun, halloween, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Mom, Personal, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Random 5 Sunday – 5 years

It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday (yay!) so here are 5 randoms from my little corner of the universe.

1  Cooked yesterday and doubled everything. Why? I’m dropping off half to oldest boy and the grands later today.   The work/school/homework schedule is just nicer when you have “extras” around.  Homemade soup, sloppy Joe’s, Game day brownies  and more.   To quote Mom, “Love is Groceries.

food ina garten

2 It was Mom who taught me the significance of caring for others.  On Mothering is just one of many posts I’ve written about her. She taught me so many things but, most importantly, she taught me how to mother.  And, like her, I’m fierce — no apologies.  Because of that, I can’t wrap my head around that our grand children’s mother left them like she did.   But it was my wee Mom who reminded me He gave our boy big shoulders for a reason and sometimes Mom & Dad are the same person.

smell the color 9

3  Stopped the other day to take this picture – October will end soon and all of this will pass.  Don’t miss it.

Country Club trees

4  I write as means to formalize my thoughts, connect-the-dots and express myself.  Through this experience I’ve connected with many of you, and one I’ve even met in person (lucky me).   When I write what I know – posts about life, relationships, personal growth, faith and home – you chime in and I love that so much.

m151be-yourself-unknown-posters

5 Going back to Mom, she was moved to Nursing Home placement this week and, when asked how things were going, her response made me laugh.  “I’m doing the best I can and managing to stay out of trouble… so far!”  This center is small, 17 beds, and in a rural setting, which is much more her style.  Both my sisters are certain she’ll get more personalized care and that’s of comfort to us all.  Thinking of her it hit me that 5 years ago today I published my very first blog and, not surprisingly, I wrote about  another life lesson learned from Mom.      5 years, 824 posts,179,273 visitors, still writing.    Thank you for reading along.

yes i can

Happy Sunday to you!  When you look back over your blogging lifetime, what do you see?

 

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Food, Growth, Home, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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