One of the Happiest Places on Earth

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As you may or may not know my husband is a Travel Man/Road Warrior/Lives out of his Suitcase kind of guy.  He travels frequently for his job, and his mode of commuting is usually an airplane and a rental car. My job is to make sure Travel Man gets to the airport on time, and I am usually the one picking him up when he returns home.

Some months we’re driving back and forth to the airport so often it feels like we can do it with our eyes closed.  I do have to admit that I have learned to time my drive to the airport to pick Travel Man up to perfection.  I’m always tracking his travel home on an app for the iPhone called FlightAware.  Once the flight tracker shows his flight at 23 minutes until arrival I head for the airport.  I have yet to get my pick up timed to the point where as I drive up the road to make that left turn into the airport, Travel Man’s plane is flying over my head to land.  That time will come soon enough.

Since Travel Man is on the road so much when he lands at the airport home from work, I want my face to be the first one he recognizes when he is riding down the escalator to baggage claim.  So, I always park the car and I always walk in to meet my hard-working husband.

Usually while I’m in waiting mode between the escalator and baggage claim there are many, many happy moments to be noticed. This is one of those places where the happiness is happening for a multitude of reasons.  The grandparents meeting their grand-baby for the first time.  The military dad coming home for the holidays greeted by his 4-year-old daughter. (This one was a tear-jerker.)  The crowd actually parted to make a path for this sweet little girl to run up and meet her Dad.  The missionaries greeted by their families and friends after two years away in Chili.  Two big groups of family and friends.  That was an amazing sight.  The dad and his kids greeting mom after a trip away for whatever the reason.  Smiles all around.  The college kids coming home for the holidays or for summer break.   Dad coming home from a business trip greeted by his young sons, and his wife.  The sons just leapt into his arms for a big hug.

Hugs are all around, and the happiness is infectious. You cannot help but smile, and feel just a little bit cheerier when there is all of this happiness going on around you.  I’m  getting a little carried away with my happy words, but it’s the best way to describe the situation to you.

1-IMG_0112Then the happiness turns to me, and it’s my turn. There’s my Travel Man riding down the escalator.   When we see each other for the first time we give a little wave, maybe I blow him a kiss, and then it’s our turn to hug.  The airport baggage claim.  One of the happiest places on earth, in my opinion of course.

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Have you Met The Super Six?

This is the Super Six.

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They have been together for a lifetime.  Let me introduce you to my four kids, and their cousins ( my brother’s son and daughter).  Starting from the left,  Naomi is the oldest, and I’m pretty sure at this point in her life she’ll remain the shortest of the bunch.  Next is Jim, my brother’s son, he’s the tallest one in the crowd these days,  and then Hilary, Mary (my brother’s daughter), Bryan and Zachary.

The layout style of this picture became a tradition with this bunch many, many moons ago. We would shoot this group shot from oldest to youngest, and then from tallest to shortest.  My grandma (great-grandma to the Super Six) lives out-of-state, and would always ask to see a picture of the kids together.  She wanted  to see how tall each of them were in relation to one another.  So that started the tradition of the Super Six photos. And I’m fairly certain my Grandma coined the phrase “Super Six” for this gang.

Over the years we have taken quite a few Super Six pictures. I just love, love, love a walk down memory lane like this.  When Tom’s son, Ryan, was living with us the group expanded to the Super Seven.

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As you can see in the pictures below, when Evan got old enough he honed in on the photo line, and made sure he got himself included.  These pictures should be called “The Super Six” plus one, since Evan is the next generation!

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This bunch has been fortunate enough to live near each other growing up, pretty much until everyone started working full-time or took off for college.  There were lots of Friday night sleepovers, chances to do fun things together, family beach parties, cheering each other on at school events, or at a sports game.  Just all round having cousin fun as often as they could.  I think my brother and I subconsciously made a point to get the kids together as often as  we could.

Now that they are all a little older it’s not easy to get this picture, but we are still doing it. These shots were taken at Zach’s wedding this past August.   I may be partial, but I can feel a lot of love and happiness coming from these pictures.

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This group of amazing young adults have been through a lot of life stuff together. Graduations, milestone birthdays, 4th of July celebrations, Halloween’s,  family reunions, weddings, divorces, cancer in the family, and the loss of their Grandpa.  They have experienced all of the ups and downs of life.  They are positively surviving the roller-coaster ride together, and have come through it all with smiles on their faces.

My one hope for this great group is that they stay in touch and support one another for eternity.  (That’s my Mom voice shining through.)  My quest with this bunch is to continue capturing the Super Six line up for many years to come.

This post linked to the GRAND Social

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It’s Valentine’s Day- Love is in the Air

1-IMG_0087-002Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my family and friends.  I spent a little time gathering a few quotes on love that appealed to me this week and thought I would share them with you today.

  1. “A life without love is like a year without summer.” -Swedish Proverb

2. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They         must be felt with the heart.”  – Hellen Keller

3.  “Kisses are a better fate than wisdom.” -e.e. cummings

4. “All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M.             Schulz

5. “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies          within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” –Martin                  Luther King, Jr.

7. “Trip over love, you can get up. Fall in love and you fall forever.” -Author Unknown

8. “Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.”-                    Author Unknown

9. “Love is something eternal; the aspect may change, but not the essence.”-Vincent van          Gogh

10. “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus a day so I don’t have        to live a day without you.” — Winnie the Pooh

As you go through your day today,  find a way to tell the people who are most important to you that you love them and care about them.    Life is too short to let words of love go unspoken.  And in the words of John Lennon, “All You Need is Love.”

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Take Just One Day and Unplug

ID-10011760Last month and in the month of December I tried a little experiment on a few random Sundays.  I did not use the computer or do any surfing on my other electronic devices at all.  I did use my iPhone for phone calls only (I have to talk to my peeps).  My unofficial conclusion to this experiment is that this is a nice way to start a new week.  You see since I am a Domestic Goddess now, I am discovering that I need to unplug from the internet-sphere one day a week.  This is especially true if Travel Man is away on a job assignment.   It seems that I can become entirely too dependent on the interaction with my “social” media.  The second Sunday of  unplugging myself, Travel Man was home with me to experience my “unplugged status”.  He was reading something on Facebook or an online news story and he said, “Did you see???”. And then he remembered, “Oh that’s right you’re off of the computers, etc. today”.

For myself,  I find that it is far too easy to spend far too much time browsing and perusing the internet for information.  And it’s most likely information that I may or may not need, and may or may not use in my everyday world.  I just felt like I was becoming too dependent on the Google factor, and not spending enough time on my other interests. It also made me realize I need to just pick up the phone and call and have a conversation more frequently than I have been.

Now I did make phone calls to a couple of my kids, you know a Momster check-in.  How’s life? Are you taking care of yourself?  Are your finances doing ok?  Will I be seeing you anytime soon?   Just a few minor questions that every Momster must ask to get the conversation ball rolling.

On that particular Sunday when Travel Man was home he and I got to watch some football together and had a chance to visit with my brother.  All in all a nice relaxing Sunday. With Travel Man’s schedule, this type of weekend day doesn’t roll around too often.  Staying unplugged when Travel Man is home on a Sunday is essential to my sanity.

So I ask each of you, do you unplug yourselves from the computer, smart phone, gadget world at any point during the week?  If you haven’t tried this I highly recommend it. Your brain will feel so much less cluttered, particularly at the end of the day when you need to be falling asleep.  Free your minds.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Isn’t it About Time I Wished You All a Happy New Year?

Happy New Year, dear friends.  2014 is already in full swing, and I am just now getting back to my writing.  I’m hoping you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with family and love.  January got off to a bit of a wonky start because of…The Flu.  Ugh.  I’m actually the one who got sick first, on New Year’s Eve of all days.  I was battling the flu beast for a good week or so.  Luckily for me Travel Man was home to take care of me. January 3rd was probably one of the hardest goodbyes that Travel Man and I have had in a long, long time.  He did not want to go, and I didn’t want him to go either.  But, boo-hooing aside I got over the flu, and then almost everyone else in my family had a visit from the flu beast in the past two weeks. That brings us to the point we are at now.  It’s the last week of January, and nearly Superbowl Sunday.

My how time flies.   And this time is was not necessarily while we were having fun.  You would think here in sunny, Southern California we could avoid the dreaded winter cold and flu.  But the reality is we don’t.  The flu that just rocketed through the family (I have coined it the “lightning flu”) is probably the worst we’ve had in over five years.

As of this writing everyone who has gotten the flu, is over it.  Hopefully I haven’t jinxed those of you in the family who haven’t had “it” yet!  The past few days the weather’s been great, doors and windows have been opened, and all the germs have been ordered to leave the building!!

We had such a great holiday season with all of the kids and grandkids here at the Party House.  It’s always so enjoyable when we can get  everyone gathered together  for a little while to celebrate.

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Christmas Day 2013
Photo courtesy of J.Weise.

Look at all of those smiles, what a great looking bunch.  Hopefully your 2014 has gotten off to an amazing start.  We’re looking forward to lots of birthday celebrations together, an engagement, some mini vacations, and baseball.

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Sunrise…Sunset

Yesterday was an unusual day for clouds here in Southern California.  We do not get treated to the picturesque clouds of the Midwest, the mountain ranges of Colorado or Wyoming too often.  But, yesterday was a day filled with clouds, and we were treated to a great cloud filled sunrise and sunset.  And just as luck would have it I was able to capture both ends of the day at just the right moment from my back yard.

Sunrise:

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Sunset:

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I found myself humming “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof as I captured the sunset picture at dinnertime last night.  A wonderful, beautiful sight.  Wishing you all a wondrous Wednesday.

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This Family Had a Moment – One Year Ago.

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In honor of Miss Madison’s first birthday over the weekend, I wanted to share my story of how our family learned of her arrival here on planet earth.

Have you ever been together with your family and experienced some news together, collectively?  One of those moments when you all look at each other, and you know in your heart of hearts that you are experiencing a moment together, that you will all remember, and talk about for years to come.

My family had this experience just a little over a year ago now.  We were having dinner together on a Saturday night, actually it was an early Thanksgiving dinner for us.  My sister and her husband had planned to be with us for dinner on this particular night.  Unfortunately their plans had changed and they could not join us on this special occasion.

The other event taking place on this particular day was that my oldest daughter had gone into the hospital early on this Saturday morning to have her labor induced.  Remember awhile ago when I shared with all of you that Evan would be a big brother soon?   Well, this was the day.  Evan spent the night with us on Friday night, and his parents checked into the hospital early the next morning.

All day long we’re checking in with my son-in-law at the hospital getting updates on how Naomi was doing.  I’m sure we pestered him a little too much, but he graciously kept us informed all day long.

In the early afternoon the family members started to arrive, and we were preparing dinner, and getting the table set.  Our family loves to gather around my kitchen counter for all of the snacks and noshing.  It’s always a fun-filled time of eating and conversation.  Lots and lots and lots of conversation.  All in all I think we ended up with 12 of us or so at the dinner table that night.  And in between all of the conversing and eating we are still getting updates on my daughters progress from her husband, Brad.  At one point during dinnertime Brad had sent me a text that the baby would be delivered at 8:00pm.  So, we’re all thinking great!  The baby will be here tonight, and then Naomi will be a lot more comfortable.  She was quite uncomfortable during the last week of her pregnancy, and her mother needed to know that she was just a little bit more comfortable.  It’s a Mom thing.

So after our great turkey dinner we’re sitting around the table – some us drinking coffee, some having wine, some getting ready for pie.  And if I remember correctly this is how our moment happened.  I was on the house phone with my sister in Montana, who could not be with us.  We were giving her an update on Naomi.  My brother’s girlfriend, Elaine, looked at the clock and said, “Hey it’s 8 o’clock, I wonder if the baby’s arrived yet?”  My brother was looking at something on my cell phone, and we got a photo message from “Brad Dad”. It was a picture of the nursery scale with the babies weight, 9lbs. 15oz.  No words with the picture, just that cute little picture.  In that moment we all looked at each other, and I say to my brother, “Is the baby really here?  Text him back and find out!!”  We get the confirmation that it is indeed the babies’ weight, and she has arrived!  the moment we have all been anxiously awaiting.  The entire household is just elated, collectively, all in that same cherished moment.  Miss Madison Kay has arrived.  Woops, hollers, and woots reverberate through the house.  I’m still on the phone sharing this joyful moment with my sister.  My Dad is on the phone with my grandparents, Madison’s great-great-grandparents, and we are all sharing this moment.  From California to Montana to Illinois a poignant family moment.

And I remember Evan.  He was so cute.  He went running through the house cheering for his Mom and Dad.  He was an excited big brother.  As I am typing this right now I can picture this entire moment in my head.  This moment hung in the air for just a bit.  It reminded me of watching a feather float around in the sky.  Watching everyone, and seeing everyone’s reactions.  And my Mom, she had her own precious moment.  She was sitting at the table soaking everything in, and the emotions just overwhelmed her and she started to cry.  Travel Man came and got me and said, “You need to go and sit with your Mom.”  I sat with my Mom, we had a mother – daughter moment.  The day could not have ended more splendidly.

Madison meets her Great-Grandparents

Madison meets her Great-Grandparents

There are always moments in your life that become part of  your personal history, or your family’s history.  But nothing compares to having a family moment, surrounded by almost the entire family.  Savor these precious moments, cherish them, and keep them close to your heart.

This post has been linked to the GRAND Social linky

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An Eye Opening , “Power-less” Day.

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Transformer repair – lots of trucks and equipment.
Photo courtesy of tspindigital.com

Today is Saturday, October 26.  It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and we’ve been a neighborhood with no power since 5 am this morning.  It’s not our entire area just our little block of a neighborhood.  Weird huh?  When I called Southern California Edison to report the outage the customer service rep says, “Are you sure your power is out Ma’am? I’m not showing any outages in your area.”  I was the first one to call in.  And then she proceeded to ask me if we had checked the breaker box.  Ha!

I have to admit I was not planning on spending today with no power to the house.  It’s somewhat inconvenient,  much quieter, and  really making me want to take a nap, and I am not a napper by trade.

We are hosting a birthday dinner/party tonight for our oldest daughter.  My Mom will be handing out flashlights when everyone walks in the door.   It will be an adventure!!

In light of this change in our Saturday plans I have compiled a list of ten things I have been enjoying or will be enjoying with no power today.

  1. What’s that you say, no laundry can be done today? Whoopee , no problem there.
  2. Can’t run the dishwasher, that’s ok, we have lots of paper plates in the pantry.
  3. No TV during the power outage- that’s fine, I probably watch too many home improvement shows as it is.  However, I would like the power to be back on for the World Series game tonight.
  4. What? I can’t be on the wireless internet either? That’s fine I probably spend too much time on the computer.
  5. No baking or cooking (my stove requires electronic ignition) .  Honey, let’s go to Olive Garden for lunch? Yum.
  6. Birthday dinner will require paper plates and plastic cups! Easy cleanup! No problem.
  7. Watching our two cats interact with one another.  They have this love-hate relationship going on.  The older cat is always growling and hissing at the younger guy.  Even when he is doing absolutely nothing.
  8. I’m noticing that having  a technology free day is not a bad thing! Maybe I should do this once a week.
  9. Maybe The Party House needs to “disable” the wi-fi for family gatherings.  Hmmm??  What would the twenty-something crowd do with themselves??
  10. Having Travel Man home today to start-up the generator -priceless.   He loves going into “survival” mode.  It’s a guy thing.

An interesting side note to this day- the power did not get turned back on until 9 pm on Saturday night.  We strung a few lights in the house via my Mom’s RV generator for the birthday dinner.  The conversation was great, not a lot of cell phone surfing going on.  Oh, and my kind brother and Travel Man hooked up the TV so we could see the last few innings of the World Series game.  My family is so great.  Happy Monday everyone!

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Setting the Bar High

The definition of a goal is; the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

My daughter, Hilary,  set the bar high for herself, and achieved an awesome personal goal last month.   In January of this year Hilary boldly signed up to run in the Disneyland half-marathon at the beginning of September.  This was Labor Day weekend by the way.  No end of summer parties for this gal.

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The starting line for the marathon.

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Get going Hilary – it’s only mile 4!!

She joined a gym, changed her eating habits, and set the course for herself to run 13 miles start to finish.  It makes me tired just typing that.   As the date loomed closer Hilary became more determined than ever to get to the marathon,  and get it done.  She had every confidence in herself that she could do it, her mother of course was totally worried about her.  That’s what I do.   And by the way,  she wasn’t running with friends or any of her sorority sisters, she did this solo, start to finish.  No buddies to run with, and no family members by her side.  Just herself and the pack of other runners determined to do what she was doing, and finish what she was finishing.  Hilary’s cousin, Mary, made sure she got to the race venue on time, and was probably her biggest cheerleader for this event.  The excitement and cousin love between the girls just warmed my heart.

During the marathon, Hilary had to be able to stay within a 16-minute mile in order to stay in the race.  She set a goal for herself to run a 13-minute mile and she did it, all the way through the marathon.  We were able to track her time, and milestones through an amazing system Disney had set-up for marathon day.  My Mom and I were in awe of what she was doing.

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During the race we were able to scope out a spot in Angels Stadium parking lot to cheer her on.  It seemed like we were waiting a lifetime for her to come around the corner and through an archway that was set up for the event.  Thankfully we finally spotted her, and she stopped momentarily to take pictures with us, and then was on her way.  I’m pretty sure I got a tear in my eye at this moment in time.

Hilary’s cousin, Mary, and her brother, Bryan raced to the finish line to get a picture of her. Many, many thanks to Mary for sprinting through the race venue to get this shot.

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This picture captures all of the emotion of I set my goal, and I met it.  My first hug with Hilary after she finished her race was filled with such happiness for her.  As a parent, there is no greater joy than watching your kids set their sights on something, going for it, and making it happen.

You set the bar high for this family dear Hilary.  Congratulations to my daughter for stepping out there (no pun intended), and getting this done.  Wow, there’s no other word to describe this, just wow!!

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A Lovely Backyard Wedding

 IMG_0026What does it take to throw a backyard wedding?  First and foremost is a big backyard, which we have. Check that one-off of the list.  Then the bride and groom have to be willing to pitch in and get the backyard ready for a wedding.  Check, we have that.  Then we limit the guests to no more than 70 people.  How do we know this is a good number you ask? We’ve had lots of parties and lots of people in our backyard, and this is the number that works and is controllable.

The remaining major supplies to get our backyard ready for a wedding went like this-  Over 20 strings of white lights, 350 ft. of speaker wire for the PA system and the music,  around 20 poles for the lights to be strung up on (this was for the Mama Mia effect!), an amazing misting system (put together by our favorite uncle), a newly painted deck for dancing the night away on, rented tables, chairs, and table clothes, lovely centerpieces crafted by the bride, lots of big bags of ice, and lots of helpers to get it all set up on time.  Plus we were really hopeful the weather would cooperate, which it did.

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2013-08-25 15.12.39Our youngest son got married in our backyard towards the end of August, and due to the nature of our “stressful” summer there were a lot of plans that just ended up being put together at the last-minute.  This was a 5pm wedding, and my son’s vision was to have the backyard lit up with white lights for a truly memorable evening, once the sun went down, and I think we pulled it off.  We had around 65 guests (that’s my closest guesstimate), in our backyard.  A party this size has not happened since the ladies of ZTA (Kappa Theta chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha) graced our backyard, as we were the host of their annual Bid Day  (there were around 70 giggly, gaggling girls in attendance that day!).

The weather was not too hot, which we were all thankful for. The temps stayed somewhere in the 90’s, and cooled off quickly after the sun went down.   The California summer heat swooped in the weekend after the wedding.  I think it was around 105, the Saturday after!

The wedding ceremony was performed flawlessly, everyone looked so wonderful, and then it was time to party.  We had an amazing caterer who brought in Mexican food, some of which was cooked on the grill right before our very eyes.  This was a great set-up and the food was spectacular.  Drinks were kept simple; just soda, beer and wine.  A cake was brought in by a friend of the bride (it was delicious!).

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And then it was time for the dancing.  My most memorable moments from the dancing were watching my baby boy (he won’t like that I called him that) dance with his Grandma, and seeing the daughters dancing with their dads.  Of course,  the first dance by the bride and groom was memorable too.  Such a cute couple.  My favorite dance of the night was our deck filled with party-goers dancing to “The Macarena”!!  That was fun!

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This was definitely a ceremony/party to remember.  One for the ages so to speak.  I loved the toasts that were given from the heart.  I loved the fact that almost all of our family got to be here with us to celebrate this special occasion.  I loved the fact that all of my kids were so helpful on “The Day”, and made everything fall into place for their baby brother. And our backyard wedding would not have been complete without this amazing ring-bearer.  He carried the rings in his pants pocket, and was so grown-up and handsome when it came time to pass the rings to the groom.  He made his Grandma’s proud.

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Congratulations to Brookelynne and Zachary.  May all of your dreams come true.

14148_301855763290495_708671988_nPicture credits for this post go to: Erica B., Elaine Z., Naomi D., Hilary J., and Mary W. – Thanks Ladies!!

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