Monday, December 30, 2013

The "Word"

It's that time of year when some are choosing their "word" for the year.  A word that may define what they may want to achieve, aspire to, to accomplish, or live for.  Last year I chose the word "YES", yes to new adventures, new thoughts, new actions.  And I think I did a pretty darn good job of saying yes.
  • I said yes to planning a trip to Italy with a blogging buddy who at the time I had not even met.  Unfortunately due to my husband's condition and hospital stays, I didn't feel comfortable leaving the country.  But I did say yes.
  • I said yes to a Photography Workshop in Tennessee in the incredible Great Smoky Mtns, knowing absolutely no one, but now have beautiful memories of a time well spent.
  • I said yes to starting a Family Photography Business that is beginning to blossom.
  • I said yes to hosting the women from "Focusing On Life" the collaborative blog that I participate in at my home in August....all coming from Texas, New Jersey, Kentucky, Arizona, and Oklahoma which was an absolute glorious 3 days.  Some of us had never met, but life sisters we have become.
  • I said yes and participated in the Alzheimer's Walk in October raising money for research to conquer this terrible disease that has taken my husband from me along with millions more.   
There are more yes's yet to come and I want to hold on to that word for as long as possible.  I think saying yes to opportunities, adventures, and new acquaintances only enhances our lives so "yes" will remain.

However this year I am adding another "new word" to my life, "compelling."  My granddaughter-in-law (and she is a very intelligent and delightful young woman, I might add, see photo above for us together) used the word a couple of times in conversation yesterday.  I don't believe I have ever said that word "outloud ever.  But I liked how she used it, how it sounded, so I referred to Webster and this is how "compelling" is defined.

: very interesting
: able to capture and hold your attention
: capable of causing someone to believe or agree
: strong and forceful
: causing you to feel that you must do something

With synonyms being...
: conclusive, convincing, decisive, effective, persuasive, satisfying, strong & telling.

So this year I want to be conclusive and decisive, I want to be strong (not forceful), I want to be very interesting and capture your attention, satisfying & telling.  That's a big word to swallow, I may have bitten off more than I can chew.  But when you are on the downhill swing of life, this is not the time to shrink from challenges, live out-loud so someone said.  And that is what I hope to do in 2014.  Lead a compelling, live "out-loud" life.

Do you have a word for 2014?  If you do, I would love to hear, do tell.

It is time to say goodbye to 2013.  It was a year filled with many ups and a few downs for me, but as the year ends, I am content and filled with thanks.

"Wanting something is not enough.  You must hunger for it.  Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way."  ~  Les Brown

Until next time...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Delight in the Beauty & Happiness....

Looking back over this past year, I have been very fortunate to have been a little part of capturing precious moments for families.  These are just a "very" few of some of my favorites...if I listed all of them, it would be like a TV marathon.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did in capturing them....

Loved doing this one....he was so animated while telling me a story that I just kept snapping away and then creating a poster size of all of Ben's faces....

Ryan is not exactly a child anymore....married for at least 3 maybe 4 years...can't remember, but I have known him since he was much younger.

Oh the eyes of the innocent are so precious....

And this sweet one, taken on the beach, poor child had sunburned eyes and needed those sunglasses for protection....I love them...

And how can I not include this one...tongue and all!!

And then yesterday, I was a part of this cute family....twins, boy & girl.  Both of them just as cute as buttons...!!!

As I said this is just a small handful of some of the images I captured this past year.  And hopeful that 2014 brings many more.

"We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body."
     ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson
Until next time.....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The 3 M's....


What better way to enjoy the day after Christmas than this??  Sitting with a cup of joe, feet up, still enjoying the lights from the Christmas tree and remembering yesterday...pretty close to perfect.

It snowed last night so there is fresh powder to enjoy....

Yesterday, Christmas, was perhaps one of the most unusual, but by far it will rank right up there as one of the most memorable ones I have ever had.  What with half of my family in other states, my sweetie in a nursing home, it was just me and my grandgirls spending some precious time together.  With Bailey and her work schedule and Brie away at college it is rare that I get to spend cherished time with both of them together.

We began our day sitting and drinking coffee (I bought some creamer made by Bailey's, ya know those Bailey's Irish Cream people called White Chocolate with Raspberry Swirl, makes the coffee taste like a dessert)'s so fun sharing a cup with them.  It's still hard for me to grasp that they are both adults...Bailey is 23 and Brie will be 21 in just a couple of months.  Hot chocolate was always the drink of choice, now it's coffee.

Then it was picture taking time....them

then me...(and Cinder)

If I were a normal Gramma, I would have gone grocery shopping the day before and bought something scrumptious to eat on Christmas day....however, I didn't, thought it would be fun to have lunch out somewhere before going to the movies.  Do you think we could find anything open on Christmas day except Indian or Chinese Restaurants??? Absolutely not.  Now I completely understand why nothing was open but it was hard to convince our stomachs that it was Christmas Day and all the restaurant employees were home enjoying Christmas with their families.  Good ole' Ronald McDonald came through, so we were toasting Christmas inside McDonald's (along with a few others) with burgers and fries.  I still giggle thinking about Christmas Dinner at McDonald's.

Then off to the movies....we saw, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND, "Saving Mr. Banks"...the story of P. L. Travers the author of "Mary Poppins" and Walt Disney's struggle with her to bring her book to the movie screen.  She was a pip and supremely acted by Emma Thompson with Tom Hanks portraying Walt Disney.  Great story, great performances....put that on your list of "must sees".  And by the way, there are 100's of people that go to the movies on Christmas Day...the theater was completely sold out.

After that total enjoyment, we visited with my sweetie.  He was in great spirits, smiled, talked, even managed an "I love you" which was gift enough for me on this Christmas day.

One more stop at the house for a quick glass of wine (no worries, I buy the screw top flavored with sweetness kind, Moscato, which probably has about 3% alchohol) so we ended up calling this the 3 M day....McDonald's,  Movie, and Moscato.

A beautiful day spent with those I love dearly.  And I still have Christmas to look forward to.  Sunday is our "family" day to celebrate.  I hope you had a day as wonderful as mine!!

Joining Kim for...

Little by Little

"Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile." ~ Franklin P. Jones 

Until next time....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's Today....

It's's Christmas Eve.  How did that happen?  My Christmas cards are still not sent...but they will be, just as soon as I can get to the Post Office.  I know they will be late, but Christmas is not just a day, but a feeling that we should have all year through.  Don't ya love getting that straggler card, it is a reminder that Christmas is still here even after the 25th has come and gone....and we really don't know the exact date that Jesus Christ was born, I think Hallmark gave it that particular day....just like they did Sweetheart Day and Secretary Day.  All kidding aside, Christmas is an extraordinary day, the day that Christ was "born", a day that made the world more special and our lives filled with his everlasting love.  He carries me through the hard times, he lifts me up when I fall, he gives me strength when I am weary, so yes, Christmas is special.

This holiday season I have missed my sweetie I drove to see my daughter's dance recital, I became particularly teary thinking of all the years past that we have been there sitting 5th row center year after year.  And by the way, driving and crying don't mix well.   Then we had a health scare with my oldest granddaughter and he wasn't here to hold my hand and give me a hug and say that everything would be alright (and it was, but it sure was scary for awhile), and the shopping together, and the decorating the house together.  I have been exceedingly busy this holiday, and I am so blessed to have so many friends, but man do I miss my man.

I hope your Christmas is filled with the love of family and the joy of friends....Toby, Cinder and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

And I hope that Santa is extra special to you this year.

Merry Christmas!!!

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”   ~  Bob Hope

Until next time.....

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Missing the Moments....

Oh my stars, it has been a busy busy couple of weeks.  This shortened holiday season has brought on a "love-hate" relationship with this particular year.  I absolutely LOVE the Christmas holidays, I love the decorating, the parties, the festivities, the church events, the holiness but this year it has just been a hectic, hectic event, and I have missed the quiet, reflective moments that should come during this time of the year.  Whenever I would sit down, I either fell immediately asleep from exhaustion, or I would
hop right back up remembering that something else had to be attended to.  

I always start my day with a cup of coffee from one of my sweet Christmas mugs, but don't ask me the last time I actually sat and read the newspaper.  How do we get our lives wound so tightly that I can't even enjoy the morning paper?  I think I have fallen in the "must get it all done" category and I am going down for the count.  

Now don't misunderstand me when I say I have had a love-hate relationship with this season, I have enjoyed all the wonderful events that I have been a part of this year .....

A Christmas Tea with some special girlfriends at a wonderful tiny little restaurant that was absolutely delightful....

Finished my holiday decorating which seemed to take FOREVER this year....

Slipped out one afternoon to take a quick drive to the Arboretum...we have had snow and I wanted to capture that beauty, but because I was so busy, I missed the most beautiful time when the snow is laying on the limbs of the trees....

But it snowed again today, so I was able to capture some of the snow on branches...

Tuesday was our Bunco Christmas party where I ate again....after Monday's trip to the Christmas Tea you would think I wouldn't be hungry...doesn't seem to work that way, at least for me anyway.  Home-made lasagna oh yum...!!!

And then Thursday was our annual Book Club Christmas Dinner that I host...I always insist on hosting because it pushes me to decorate my house for the holidays.  I provide the ham (and it was divinely edible) and all the members bring a dish or was like manna for the innards.  Again, eating eating eating.

Friday was the Dance Recital...I posted a couple of pics from the dress rehearsal, but Friday night was the real thing.  Oh it was great!!  My daughter outdid herself this time, with all the wonderful dances and costuming, I know I am bragging but it really was quite the production.  My youngest granddaughter, Brie arrived home from Iowa State for the holidays....and was sure wishing she was part of the show.  The only dancing she did for the night was the traditional jump.....  PS Brie is the one NOT in costume.

My daughter is always delighted when Brie is home for awhile....but right now Lisa (daughter) and her husband Sam, are in Las Vegas for a little wedding anniversary celebration and then they are off to San Diego for Christmas and the Northern Illinois University Poinsettia Bowl Game on the 26th.  So Christmas will be postponed until Sunday, the 29th.  I was quite upset (like crying upset) when she told me they would not be home for Christmas, the first time ever we have not been together on Christmas, but being the POM coach she had no choice but to go.  My two granddaughters and I are doing a girls' day on Christmas, so looking forward to having my two all grown up granddaughters all to myself.

Last night I was doing prep for a Cookie Exchange, had the holiday music playing and was baking and frosting some tasty cookies.  Five dozen cookies was the ticket....but I just couldn't squeeze 5 dozen out of the batch I made...they kept getting tinier and tinier but only made it to 4 1/2 dozen.

My friend, Marti's niece had her annual brunch/cookie exchange so off we went with 5 dozen cookies (me with my 4 1/2)  each, to be greeted by dozens and dozens more.  What a delightful afternoon. Again, another food bonanza.

Even Lucy enjoyed the festivities with her Christmas attire...

So tonight when I arrived home, I made myself a cup of coffee, ate a couple of the cookies from the afternoon, lit the candles and had some of that quiet, reflective time that I have missed, and this time I didn't fall asleep, or hop up to attend to something undone.  We all need that quiet time, that thoughtful time, that reflective time to really take in all the goodness that surrounds us.

"Don't wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect." 

Hope you have been having some perfect moments during this Christmas holiday.

Until next time....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Slow, Slow & Slower

Again, way too busy to even keep up with the blogging world.  I so appreciate all of you that stop by and leave me love, and I am so sorry I have not been good about returning the love.  I promise to do better when the holidays calm down.

I can't believe I am STILL decorating, what is wrong with me??  I move like molasses, and my speed lately has been slow, slow and slower.  Yesterday I did go to my daughter's dress rehearsal where I do take a kajillion pictures.  She always has a theme to her shows, unlike random dance recitals, she tells a story, almost like a broadway production only with much younger stars.  And they were all stars yesterday.  I must share a couple of photos that I took with my new Tamron 70-200 2.8 lens....oh my, I am really, really pleased with how it performs.

What a cutie patootie....

And here is the Queen of Hearts....what costuming!!

And the Mad Hatter....loved this!!

I will share more later because I really really got some good shots with my new lens.  What with the really crappy lighting and the constant movement, as I said, I was more than pleased with the results.

But, getting back to decorating and getting ready for the is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around these parts and with the added snow it is a might festive.  She makes me smile!!

Adding my dried hydrangeas to the tree was an ordeal this year.  It snowed and then turned blasted cold, so I didn't step my tootsies out to cut them until a couple of days ago.

Oh and must show you this...Samantha is my very good friend Marti's granddaughter.  This is their Christmas Card picture this year.  Sorry if I am spoiling it for those who read the blog and also may receive a Christmas card from Marti...oops spoiler.  But she is so darn stinking cute....

And finally Toby, he loves the snow, unlike the other little one.  Isn't he handsome standing guard over his domain?!

Hope you are having a joyous holiday and that you are much further along with your holiday decorating than I am.

Joining Kathy at "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" for her weekly song-ography....with the theme being "It's Beginning to Look ALot Like Christmas."

"How did it get late so soon?"      ~Dr. Seuss

Until next time......