We Only Get One Christmas Per Year

So make the most of it.

Put your decorations up early. They’re yours and if it makes you happy, who cares what others think?

If you want more than one tree, or even more than two or three, it’s your choice. Your decision. Who cares what other people think? We now have ten big ones and four 2 foot ones, after getting a new one this year that we just couldn’t resist.

If you want to bake lots of Christmas cookies, even if you’re not planning to eat them all, make them. You can always give them to friends and neighbors. And if they’re not perfect, who cares?! It’s fun and if it makes you happy, do it.

If you want to help your kids or grandkids make gingerbread houses that you know will never look like the pictures on the box, do it. As long as they have fun, who cares? It’s not like you’re going to eat them, and they’ll be proud of their accomplishments.

Take the kids or grandkids to see Santa, and if you want to tell him what you’d like for Christmas, do it! Who cares!

If you want to wear an ugly Christmas sweater, wear it! Others may decide it’s ok and wear one, too. (And if it has a flamingo on it, that’s even better!)

If you want to wear reindeer antlers or a Santa hat, put it in and wear it proudly!

If you want to binge watch holiday movies with a cup of hot chocolate, go for it! And add extra whipped cream!

If you find a really special ornament you really, really want, buy it! There’s always room for one more ornament on one of those trees!

If you want to give gifts to people you don’t really see that often, and probably won’t get you one, get the gift. If it makes you feel good, why not?

If you want to put Christmas collars on your pet, do it! Or dress them up, do it. And take them to see Santa if you want to. You can even hang up stockings for them and give them gifts. We do.

And if you see a Christmas throw pillow that you absolutely have to have, get it. You can always find a place for another one!

And if you happen to like fruitcake, then eat it! You don’t have to go along with everyone else!

And most importantly, if you want to put a stuffed pink flamingo wearing a Santa hat on your stairs, do it! We did!

Enjoy your Christmas decorating. After all, it’s only once a year!

Remembering Thanksgiving

We just finished Thanksgiving 2023. And yes, it was as usual unlike other Thanksgiving dinners we’d had before.

Yes, the menu was still basically the same as with other traditional dinners, with turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and other vegetable side dishes. The turkey was deep fried rather than roasted. But we still had my mom’s cinnamon buns made by my daughter with both of her daughters helping. The pumpkin pie wasn’t homemade, but it was delicious.

Our son-in-law deep fried the turkey while Ben supervised,  and while our daughter took one of our grandchildren to urgent care screaming at the top of her lungs with a bad earache. Fortunately they weren’t busy, and the medicine kicked in quickly, and she was actually able to eat dinner with us  when they got back.

Of course the grandchildren ate only what they liked, with no one forcing them to try anything they didn’t want. After all, it was a meal of thanks; thanks for family, and for all of us being able to be together. Other family members weren’t there, because they were at other family members’ dinners, or were no longer with us. It wasn’t what Thanksgiving meals of years past were like, and most likely never will be again, but it was what it was, and exactly what it should’ve been.

And this year we had our newest grandson having his very first Thanksgiving. He enjoyed little bites of turkey and rolls and mashed potatoes.   And then of course, his mother had to take a zillion pictures of him to remember the day by, including some with his two sisters. Of course by that time he’d had enough and we gave this great picture Ashley titled “It’s my first Thanksgiving and I’ll cry if I want to!” And yes he did! But he’s still adorable!

And afterwards we realized we didn’t even get a picture of all of us together!

No Black Friday shopping this year though. We didn’t want to fight the crowds, and actually I had ordered most of the grandkids’ gifts already and was ready to start wrapping them.

So we did our annual gingerbread house instead, which will be another story, but let’s just say the pre-assembled ones are more than worth the money! At least for our daughter.

As I’ve said before, I do miss the big family gatherings we used to have with 10-12 of us all together, but things change over the years. 

Regardless, we still had so much to be thankful for this year, even though it wasn’t a Hallmark movie channel kind of day. But then again, those Hallmark movies are a representation of what writers imagine holidays should be, and not the way they really are.

But one thing remains the same. Families are important, whether there are two of us, four of us, or in our case this year, seven of us. Keep that in mind through the rest of the holiday season and keep the attitude of gratitude every day. And stay thankful.

I Am Thankful 2023

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to once again share my list of “thankfuls,” because I don’t think we’re doing that nearly enough these days.

These days too many of us tend to be negative, concentrating on all the things in our lives and our country and the world around us that aren’t going the way that we think they should.

Yes, there are a lot of those right now, but there are a lot more things that are good in our lives, if we only stop to think about them; concentrate on them, at least today, on this Thanksgiving day.

So here’s my list:

I am thankful for the chance to still gather some of our loved ones together. I am thankful for my family, and the love we share, even though sometimes we don’t act like it (just like everyone else I know…let’s be real) or feel like it. But the point is we do love each other. And I’m thankful for that love.

I am thankful for my husband and the life we have made together these past 39 years. We’ve been through a lot: family issues and loss; infertility; successions of career moves; and some serious health issues. We have stood by each other through it all, and we have prevailed against a lot of odds. And we will continue to do so. Marriage is a commitment “for better or worse”.  No one ever said it would be easy, but it’s certainly worth it. And it’s hard to believe we’ve been together over 40 years, and married for 39.

I am thankful for our daughter and son-in-law and our now THREE beautiful grandchildren. As sick as our daughter was during this pregnancy, I am thankful that our little one made it into this world safely, even at 5 weeks early. I guess he couldn’t wait to celebrate his first Christmas, so he decided to make his appearance on December 20!

I am thankful for true friends who love us and stick with us, even though we don’t always agree on certain things. True friends remain friends and don’t drop us because of being on opposite sides of issues. We can still be friends without arguing over ideas that we’ll never agree on. If we can’t, we were never true friends. And unfortunately we’ve found that out over the past several years, but I am grateful for the years we did have together.

I am thankful for my health. As I grow older every year, that is one blessing I continue to be ever so thankful for. Because so many others my age are not as fortunate. And I am thankful that despite all the medical issues my husband has been through since our marriage, he continues to maintain a positive attitude and also continues to come through each medical challenge with flying colors! 

Along with that, I am thankful for the availability of excellent doctors and medical care, especially as it pertains to my husband. We are blessed with some of the brightest and the best in their fields, and as we age, and new diseases come against us, that’s extremely important. Some may not necessarily agree with our medical choices, but we are thankful we have those choices and are able to utilize them.

I am thankful for the home we have lived in for 30 years now. Yes, it’s showing its age, with some wear and tear, but it’s our home, and it holds an abundance of family memories that we hold dear. Even though our house went through some issues of its own this year, we made the best of it, and it’s still our home, even with some new unplanned changes in decor. We don’t know how long we will continue to live in it before we decide to downsize, but for now we’re still here, and making more memories every day.

I am thankful for a job that I really enjoy; one in which I am respected and able to use all of my past experiences in real estate to improve the performance of my department. Although I’m at retirement age, and actually a few years past it, I’m not ready to stop working yet, and I have the opportunity to continue to do what I enjoy and get paid for it, and work for a wonderful company with lots of great people.

In a similar situation, I’m also thankful that although he’s technically semi retired, my husband is still working a 30+ hour week, enjoying what he does as well, and like me, working for a great company who appreciates him.

I am thankful we live in a country in which we are still free to express our opinions and maintain our right to free speech. Although we have a politically divided country right now, I still have hope that we can overcome our differences and once again become a country united for the good of all of us, and not a country trying to see who we can get back at for perceived wrongs and doing nothing but criticize and threaten those disagree with us. Because if we continue on the divided path we are currently on, what kind of country will we be leaving our children and grandchildren?

And above all, I am thankful for all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us; the things He has walked us through, and the things He has protected us from. It’s been another challenging year, but we continue to remain strong and positive that our family will continue to also retain our strong love for each other no matter what challenges we may face.

May God continue to bless us all, both on this Thanksgiving Day and in the coming months and years.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Reflections 2023

I always tend to get a bit nostalgic at this time of year because there’s so much emphasis on family and the things that tradition tells us we need to emphasize during the Thanksgiving season.

How about those of us who don’t have the “traditional” family unit? Whatever that is any more.

In our case, that’s sort of, kind of, true.  Our family has shifted quite a bit, and the closeness of years long ago is no longer there. It doesn’t mean we love them any less, but we love in a different way. 

Family dynamics have changed, and we no longer have actual physical gatherings with all of those who are still in our hearts. It’s a way of life, whether we like it or not.

Our traditions have changed. Around our table will be our daughter and son in law and this year there will be THREE grandchildren. Maybe others. Who knows? Of course, Ryan most likely won’t be eating turkey, but I imagine he’ll try a bite or two. After all, today he is officially eleven months old! Where has the time gone?

Our meal will still be the traditional turkey and trimmings, and this year our daughter will be able to eat what she wants. Last year she was so sick with her pregnancy she had really couldn’t eat much of what she wanted.

But I can’t help but look back on Thanksgivings some 20 or so years ago before things started to change, and yes, I still long for those days again.

But then I stop to think about all that’s happened in the intervening years, and I realize I really wouldn’t want to change much of it. Certainly I’d still want my mother with us, but I wouldn’t want the friends we’ve met along the way to no longer be with us. I’d not want to give up my daughter and her husband and our precious grandchildren for anything in this world.

Unfortunately change happens. Change is inevitable. Families evolve and change as family members move away or sadly, pass away. And our holiday traditions evolve as well. Friends who can’t spend holidays with their families join with us at our Thanksgiving meal, traditional or not.

Friends become the family we choose for ourselves. And that’s ok. Because we no longer live in the world as it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what we have. For those we love. A time to fellowship and share with others and allow them to share with us. For me, I am thankful for my husband’s continued heatlh, and for our daughter and son in law, and as I’ve said before, especially thankful for our grandchildren, and very thankful that baby Ryan, although coming into this world five weeks premature, is healthy and happy (except for the teething of course,) and the best Christmas gift we could ever have had. We’re so looking forward to sharing a wonderful Thanksgiving with all of them.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Sharing and giving thanks for the blessings we have.

And we have many. Sometimes we forget just how many because we’re all too often complaining that things aren’t the way we think they should be. And we almost overlook the things we should be most grateful for.

And if we stop and think about it, we can list a lot more things to be thankful for than things that we think are wrong in our life.

Try it. Be honest with yourself.

And you’ll see what I mean.

Mother Nature Has the Best Box of Crayons

Around our area this year, it seems the leaves have been turning colors a bit slower than usual.

Not that I want the cold weather to hit, but now that Halloween is over, and it’s already November, well, I guess it’s time. After all, November in our household marks the beginning of Christmas decorating. And since we have a total of 12 trees, it does take a bit of time.

But once the leaves start changing, and the fall flowers arrive at the garden shops, it’s time to start looking at and appreciating Mother Nature’s fall box of crayons.

And what an array of colors we find!

We tend to think of fall colors as just leaves turning colors on trees in varying shades of orange. But there are other colors as well.

And that’s certainly a big part of it.

But there are also pumpkins. And they’re not just orange. They’re white, yellow, speckled, and even blue! The first time I saw a blue pumpkin I thought it was fake. My husband didn’t like it at all, but I thought it was great. And so did the squirrels who decided to chew on it since we put it on our front steps with the other pumpkins. And don’t forget the decorative gourds which come in the most original and unusual shapes.

And then there’s the Indian corn. In a huge array of colors from orange to white to varying shades of blue and purple! Last year we also bought several ears of this colorful corn to put outside with our pumpkins. The squirrels enjoyed them as well.

This year we didn’t put out real pumpkins or corn.

But leaves and pumpkins aren’t nature’s only colors of fall. There are also stunning fall flowers. In beautiful shades of yellow, purple and orange. Pansies are one of my favorite flowers and I already have several pots of them on our deck. Mums are very popular as well, and are my husband’s favorite, but they don’t last as long as I’d like, even though I’m very careful to water them daily.

And don’t forget the fall apples. They’re available in all kinds of varieties and colors. And they’re all delicious, and can be found in luscious pies and apple dumplings!

Yes, Mother Nature has a box of crayons that are incomparable to anything we can come up with in a lab or by mixing paint on a palette. The beauty of nature and the majesty of the Creator continues to amaze us on a daily basis. 

We could never put together a box of crayons that could compete with these.

Don’t you agree?

Dressing Up for Halloween, and Yes it’s Fun!

Yes, it’s that time again. Halloween costumes have been all over the stores and specialty shops, and selling out quickly. Fortunately our grandkids got their costumes early, and I can’t wait to see them dressed up. Even our ten month old grandson has his first Halloween costume. He’s going to be an adorable lobster! And his mom is actually going to put on an apron and a chef’s hat and carry him around in a big cooking pot! We’ll see how long that lasts! I told her that’s the closest she’ll come to cooking this year.

And pumpkins are everywhere. It seems almost everyone has carved ones on their front steps, well, except those who have big dogs who try to eat them, or an overabundance of squirrels who try to eat them! I remember growing up and my uncle making the most beautiful jack-o’-lanterns. Over fifty years ago, he was painting faces and other designs on the pumpkins rather than carving them, because they’d last longer. He was certainly ahead of his time, and if he were still here today, I’m sure he’d still be doing it, only more elaborate.

And I have do enjoy seeing the costumes the kids are wearing when they come to our door to get their candy. The little ones are always adorable. Of course now, we celebrate with our grandchildren in their development. They look so cute, and so do their friends. To them Halloween is an excuse to dress up and get candy. And what’s wrong with that? They’ve looked so adorable over the years, and this year will be no exception, I’m sure!

pauline-and-fowler-halloween1951In fact, when I was growing up, most of us dressed up for Halloween, but very seldom in anything scary or spooky. My hometown had an annual Halloween parade, with several of the main streets blocked off so the participants could march around our little business district and the county courthouse. Children and adults paraded around streets in costumes and competed for prizes, and the streets were filled with onlookers. My aunt and uncle actually won first prize in the adult division one year, dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy. Weren’t they looking sharp? (How many of you know who Raggedy Ann and Andy are?) And if memory serves me correctly, I think some of the local churches sponsored the parade and contributed the prizes!

Imagine how excited I was when I saw pictures on Facebook this weekend from a Halloween parade my hometown held this weekend. Not that I recognized any of the people, although I still stay in touch with some of them, and visit when we can. But I certainly recognized the local businesses, and was happy to see the church my mom and I attended there even had an entry in the parade. If I’d known about it, I’d probably have tried to go see everyone.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a Halloween parade. But they were a lot of fun! At least to us kids, and the adults who still acted like kids. It was just a fun time to enjoy ourselves, and get candy, of course!

We even dressed our dogs up one year and entered them in a costume contest at a local restaurant and they won first prize!


These days a lot of us who actually enjoy seeing the kids dressed up, and even go with the to get their candy are told by many people that we’re worshipping the devil, by going along with Halloween. That we’re teaching our kids to do the same thing. We’ve even been called all kinds of names, and none of them good!

So let me say this to those of you who put us down for allowing our children to have fun at this time of year. We are NOT celebrating the devil. We’re not worshipping Satan. And we’re certainly not teaching our children and grandchildren anything like that. People are entitled to their opinions and so are we. But I draw the line when someone starts making rude comments like that to us on social media or in person, and especially when our grandchildren are with us. There are a lot more important things to get upset about right now than kids and adults dressing up for Halloween and bringing home candy!

I saw a post the other day about this very thing. It basically said the kids who come to your door are having fun. Nothing more. They’re enjoying being kids. So give them a bit of candy, smile at them, and tell them how cute they look. Life only gets harder as they get older, so let them enjoy this time to be a child and have some fun.

That’s what we’re going to do.

It’s Halloween Candy Time!

And you know what that means. There are all kinds of yummy candies everywhere you look The drugstores have an entire aisle or more dedicated to candy. Bags and bags of it. And usually it’s on sale. Sometimes they even have two bags for the price of one. The grocery stores put their candy displays right in the front of the store, where it’s the first thing you see. And of course, if you’re shopping with your kids, guess what they want! And they don’t want to leave that display until there’s at least one or two bags in the shopping cart!

And even if you’re not shopping with children, it’s still a big temptation, because it’s right there in front of you, staring you in the face! Almost talking to you, or maybe shouting “BUY ME” as you try to walk past the display into the produce aisle.

Who wants to go buy salad makings and other healthy things when there’s all that candy right there in front of you with the words “SALE” in big bold letters!?

And let’s admit it, we’re all guilty of coming away from the store with at least one or two bags of Reese’s pieces or miniature candy bars hidden underneath all the other things we had on our shopping list.

The problem is, what do you do when you get home with it? Do you hide it? Put it out in full view where other family members can see it and pick at your stash? And if you do that, you’ll end up having to go back and get more!

This is a tough time of year for candy/chocolate lovers. Especially those of us who work out of the house. IT’s just too tempting.

And then there are all of the recipes out there for using your leftover Halloween candy.

Leftover Halloween candy? Is that a thing?

That’s sort of like how to use leftover wine, isn’t it? Like who really has leftover Halloween candy? (or wine?)

Well, actually, we used to have some leftover Halloween candy each year. We usually bought too much (on purpose) because we enjoy it, and even though I am still working remotely, I like to have a candy dish in my home office. And what better to fill it with than those miniature pieces of candy that are so tempting.

When our daughter was still a little girl, we would sit on the floor after trick or treating with her and our neighbor’s son and sort through all the candy, making sure it was ok to eat, of course, and then exchanging pieces back and forth if one kid didn’t like something and the other did. We all made out fairly well from the candy exchange and of course, ended up with a lot more in each house than we really needed to eat!

But now we don’t stay at home on Halloween night and give out candy, because we’re with our three grandchildren, helping our daughter and son in law with their trick or treating (and of course helping them sort out the candy between what they like and what we like)!

And then the day after Halloween, all the remaining bags of candy are marked down even more, and if you get to the store early on the day after, you can really stock up. Like we all need it!

I’ve been hearing ads on the radio and seeing Facebook and Instagram posts about where to donate leftover candy after trick or treating. Well, that may be good for some people, but chocolate candy is a bit pricey, and call me selfish, but I sort of want to eat it…..?

Last year, I ran across a couple of recipes for brownies using Halloween candy. And I thought, why not try them? I had a big bowl of it sitting around in the kitchen, and since I do enjoy baking I tried it. And it was really good! And easy.

So here’s the recipe for those of you who want to try something new!

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbl flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • t/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup M&M’s
  • 1/2 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate candy bars

OR, you may want to use a boxed brownie mix, follow those directions and just add the candy! Yes, that’s what I do. I like easy.

To make the brownies from “scratch”, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ square baking pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat brown sugar, butter, and vanilla together in a separate large bowl using an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.

Fold in candy and press into prepared baking pan. You can add a little extra, which I did, but just don’t add too much or it won’t cook properly. Bake in pre-heated oven 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack for ten minutes and then cut into squares.

Then enjoy! They’re delicious. In fact, I think I’ll go make some!

Crafting Fall Pumpkins

Over forty years ago, there were colorful painted pumpkins in our family’s Halloween decorations. That was back when it was commonplace for us all to carve pumpkins for our Halloween decor without being told we were celebrating the devil’s holiday because we dared to decorate our homes and porches with pumpkins with carved faces and a candle inside them.

My uncle, who was a talented hobby artist, was obviously ahead of his time, and he decided one year to paint faces on the pumpkins rather than carve, so they’d last longer. They were colorful, and extremely creative. Unfortunately I have no pictures of them, because “back then” we didn’t memorialize such things.

I am fairly certain that if my uncle had lived to retirement age, he would have spent those golden years painting all sorts of wonderful things, as well as pumpkins, along with his hobby of bird carving.

Fast forward to now. 

It seems like every year Halloween decorations come out earlier and earlier. This year they were out by the end of August! And along with the truly Halloween decor are the pumpkins. Now we can get not only real ones, but craft pumpkins that we can decorate with all manner of designs, and even better, we can keep them from year to year to use over again in different displays. 

And as a crafter, I really do appreciate that. If I have to succumb to fall and all of its decor styles, then I can at least do something creative and fun with it. Here are two I made a couple of years ago.

It seems like all kinds of things can be used now. Flowers, chalk paint, feathers, glitter on stems, acrylic paint, decals, glue-on jewels, even nail polish that’s mixed with water to produce colorful swirls.

Or try a unicorn birthday cake topper for two little girls’ special pumpkins?

How about a headband with gold deer antlers, deer ears and leaves for the top of a very special little boy’s first Halloween pumpkin?

And another mermaid cake decorating set for a mermaid pumpkin for two special granddaughters in their mermaid bedroom at Grandma and Papa’s house?

Two years ago we gave our granddaughters their own little pumpkins to decorate themselves. They had a really good time. And they were very proud of their creations!  (So were Grandmom and Papa!)

Yes, if I have to go into the fall season, and let’s face it, what choice do I have, at least I can use some creativity to make it a bit more fun.

What fall decor have you done this year?

Falling In Leaves

Yes, that’s what I meant. Not falling in love. It’s really easy to fall in love. Sometimes we do it every week. Or even every day.

I’m talking actually falling in leaves. Like kids do. Like you probably did when you were a kid. That’s actually even easier than falling in love!

Our parents, usually our dads, would rake the leaves up every week once they stated falling, and depending on where you lived, it could be a rather big pile!

But lots of times, right before the wheelbarrow came out to scoop them all up in, or the big plastic trash bags, depending on where you lived, suddenly the youngest child in the group just jumped in like it was a dry leaf-filled pool and started splashing around in all the colorful leaves, throwing them around at the other kids like dry colorful flaky snowballs. That didn’t hurt when they hit you because they wouldn’t stick together.

And suddenly there was no more pile of leaves, because they were all scattered back all over the yard. 

And if there was a dog or two around, they’d be right in there with everyone else.

It wasn’t quite as much fun as jumping into a pile of snow and making snowballs to throw, but it was a lot warmer! And drier!

Now it’s not as much raking the leaves up as it is mulching them with the lawn mower. Or in our case, scooping them up out of the pool every couple of days.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve really seen many piles of leaves yet this year. But I’d bet our two oldest grandchildren would love the opportunity to play in a big pile of leaves along with their two big dogs. And I imagine their new 8 week old puppy would have a great time playing in them, too. Maybe we should suggest it to their mom and dad? 

And actually, I bet their parents would probably have just as much fun as the rest of them!

I guess if we have to say goodbye to summer, this would be a good way to have one last outside fling before winter sets in. However, in all honesty, I’d rather keep summer around a bit longer.

Who’s with me on this? Or who wants to go help our kids rake leaves and have a “jump in the leaves” party?

Not Pumpkin Spice Again!

Please. No. Not. I just can’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I like pumpkin pie. Really I do. And it’s usually made with spices. And I like pumpkin bread. Within reason.

But as I’ve said before, it’s gotten way out of hand now. I even saw ads the last week of August for pumpkin spice coffee, and similar items.

It wasn’t even September! 

And now, at the end of September, now that I’ve once again been dragged kicking and screaming into fall, it’s everywhere!!!

Even my very favorite beach popcorn stand is advertising pumpkin spice popcorn!!! Caramel apple is one thing, (and that’s delicious!) but pumpkin spice caramel popcorn sounds horrible. At least to me.

I even went on line this week to order more flavored tea, thinking I could find something new and yummy for fall. And you guessed it…the first thing that came up in my search was pumpkin spice tea! And no, I didn’t order it.

I did find a delicious caramel apple tea, and a fabulous salted caramel concoction, and even a vanilla caramel flavor which I haven’t tried yet.

But sorry, not sorry, that pumpkin spice tea doesn’t sound any better than pumpkin spice coffee, or pumpkin spice cocoa. Please. I even saw a butterscotch spice mixture but I doubt that would be much better.

We went to dinner the other night and even the drink specials were full of pumpkin spice choices. Pumpkin spice martinis, pumpkin spice beer, and some kind of pumpkin flavored after dinner coffee drink with whipped cream. I don’t drink martinis at all, nor any beer very often, and certainly I’m not trying a pumpkin coffee drink!

Enough is enough.

But what sent me over the edge was an ad from one of my favorite bead suppliers advertising their new pumpkin spice fall bead collection!! Please make it stop!

Next thing you know, there’ll be pumpkin spice dog food. Or cat food. Although there are pumpkin flavored dog treats available that my dogs love! They’re NON spicy, and not a fall-only flavor. 

So please, before someone comes out advertising pumpkin spice colored flip flops, let’s pretend all this didn’t happen. If I have to have fall, and I guess I have no choice in the matter, can we just leave the flavors with apples and caramel?

And speaking of that, I think it’s time to sit down with my salted caramel tea and a good beach novel. At least I can still READ about summer!

Looking Back to 1776 from 2023

It’s the 4th of July. Known also to most of us in this country as Independence Day. 

And no, I’m not talking about the 1996 movie in which aliens invaded the earth to destroy it. Although sometimes I do wonder if we have some aliens here already masquerading as politicians, but that’s a debate for another time.

Today for most people in our country is a day off. A day we use to celebrate with cook outs, beach or pool or other backyard parties, flying the American flag if we have one, and then ending the day either setting off fireworks or crowding into parks and other areas to watch firework displays put on by whichever city or town we live in.

Sometimes we even remember why we celebrate this day. 

But I don’t think enough of us, and I’ll include myself, really stop to think why we recognize this day as being important in the history of our nation. Because we’ve known nothing but freedom in this country for our entire lives. We don’t stop to think about how hard fought that freedom really was.

Our nation was founded on a concept of freedom from tyranny, from another country that wanted to make those who came to these shores to begin a new life continue to live their lives under that country’s rule. 

And after a while, the colonists decided they’d had enough, and it was time to separate and form a new country. And they did. They risked their lives to start this country, to set in motion their dreams for a better life for their families and future generations. And they succeeded.

Now here we are today, some 247 long and challenging years later. 

And I wonder what the men who started that revolution, who dared to defy a then-mighty country who controlled those 13 little colonies…I wonder just what they’d have to say about our country today.

I dare say they wouldn’t begin to recognize what we’ve become. A nation united now becoming more and more strongly divided between two political parties. Between two sets of ideas for what this country should be, each side with basically no respect for the other. And sadly now, a nation beginning to see an erosion of many of our basic rights and freedoms for certain people, women especially, in a growing number of states. And it’s most likely not going to end there,

In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Most likely they’d say our government has become too powerful; too over-reaching into our daily lives, and trying to control too much of what we do and how we do it. There are too many laws, both federal and state, which attempt to restrict the freedoms they fought so hard for.

And definitely too many politicians running the governments who are only out for themselves instead of the people who voted them into office. Too many egos saying what people want to hear, getting into elected office, and then going along with whoever can help them make the most money and get re-elected.

I think the founding fathers would be appalled. And I wonder if they wouldn’t try to maybe start another revolution of some sort to get us back on the right track?

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country. It’s not perfect, but it’s so much better than most of the others. Many other countries have nowhere near the freedoms we have, and if their citizens dare to assert their rights to individual freedom they are many times arrested and thrown into jail…or worse.

We’re allowed to speak our minds when we don’t like what’s happening; many other countries don’t have that luxury. But we don’t have the right to riot, burn businesses, and use guns to kill those who disagree. Which is now happening far too often. And we don’t have the right to go to a crowded club, musical event, or other celebration, or to a school where the future generation of Americans are trying to learn, and shoot them randomly. While politicians sit back and do nothing because we have “freedom” to have guns.

What would the founding fathers think of us now? They didn’t envision people owning assault weapons and other firearms in order to go shoot other people. They envisioned law abiding citizens having weapons to defend themselves from tyranny and attacks; not to attack others just because they have the weapons to do it. They didn’t envision career politicians running this great land. They wanted everyday people to make those decisions. And that’s not happening now.

Today let’s take a bit of time to reflect on what this day means, and what we can help do to get back to some of the basic ideas this country was founded on. 

I don’t know exactly how, but if all of us actually start to take the time to think about it, maybe we can accomplish something…at least for our children and grandchildren and all of the other future generations.

Thank about it. And have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Any Man Can Be a Father 2023

Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

We’ve all heard this so many times. But did you ever stop to think about it? This was a difficult piece to write but one I feel needs to be written. Because this is happening far too often.

I was blessed with a wonderful dad. I just didn’t have enough time with him to get to know him the way I should have. You see, my father died before I was even nine years old. Yes, he left me, and I struggled for years with those feelings of loss and abandonment.

But my father wouldn’t have left me, if it had been up to him. He wasn’t given a choice. He died from a disease that perhaps today’s technology could have prevented, or at least diagnosed earlier.

Our daughter is also blessed with a husband who is a great daddy to their children. He adores his two girls, and they’re his princesses.

But when his son was born in December, we saw him as an even more devoted dad to his little boy. A little boy born five weeks early, he was our special Christmas gift, and the moment he came into the world, he became an even more devoted dad. He now had three children to love and care for. Along with his two princesses, he now had a young prince to care for as well, a baby that was long awaited, and one that immediately took over the hearts of his sisters as well as mom and dad, and also his grandparents.

Our son in law is a very proud dad who helps our daughter care for their children and is enjoying every moment of being a dad, even when the kids don’t always behave as they should He wouldn’t change his family for anything in this world.

Unfortunately not all of today’s modern fathers are like that. Many fathers decide that they aren’t ready for the 24/7 responsibilities of fatherhood. It’s easier to let the mothers do the parenting. Far too many take off and leave not only their wives but their kids behind, and stay almost totally out of their children’s lives, unless it suits their schedule to actually see them or talk to them.

They ignore child support orders, because after all, why should they give their ex-wife money? Never mind that she needs the money to help support his children. He has new responsibilities now, and those children aren’t a priority any more. Someone else can handle them. Children are a gift from God. How in the world can someone throw them away, ignore them?

There are more of these fathers today than we want to think about. Single moms are raising their children as best they can, with little or no help from the father who helped create them. They have to be both mother AND father to them. And speaking as a child who was raised in that environment, even though my circumstances were far different, I can honestly say it is a far more difficult task than anyone should ever have to do.

And it’s not fair to the children. They are missing out on so much. So are their fathers. But their fathers make that choice; the children don’t.

I’m not speaking about the fathers who are kept from their children by ex-wives and ex-girlfriends because of various reasons that may or may not have any merit; that’s a totally different topic for a different day. I’m referring to the fathers who decide not to be involved in their children’s lives for their own personal, and yes, selfish, reasons. Who have disappointed their children in so many ways, and yes, those children will have to deal with those feelings of abandonment for years, well into adulthood.

Those fathers most likely don’t think about how that little girl dreams of her elusive father coming by to pick her up, take her somewhere; or just sit with her, talk with her, hug her, and show her that, yes, he actually does love her. They don’t think about the times they promise to come get their children, and then forget about them. They don’t think about that little boy sitting by the door patiently waiting for a knock that doesn’t come, who then goes to bed and cries himself to sleep, as his mother tries to make excuses for someone she knows doesn’t deserve him.

Then there are the children who, instead of admitting to themselves that their fathers don’t want, them any more, fantasize that their fathers are somewhere far away, maybe in the CIA as a spy, off fighting bad guys and can’t get back to them. Maybe they’re somewhere seriously wounded, or very ill, or have amnesia and don’t remember anything. Surely they wouldn’t purposely abandon them.

What a sad, sad state of affairs.

And I’m not referring to the fathers who stay in their children’s lives after a divorce or breakup; who maintain a relationship with them, attending school functions, dance recitals, and soccer games. Who call their kids regularly, and take them out for dinner and ice cream. They’re still dads to their kids. They know their children are more important than their own lives, or the fact that he and their mother couldn’t make it together.

Are you seeing the difference here?

It’s a sad commentary on today’s life to think about how many children there are whose fathers don’t care enough about them to try and stay in their lives. Who refuse to pay child support, or pay it grudgingly and think that’s the only obligation they have. Who show up once in a while and then wonder why their child doesn’t want to have very much to do with them.

Where did the sense of honor, the sense of responsibility, and yes, the sense of loving someone (someone you helped create) more than your very own life disappear to?

As you’re reading this, if you’re in a situation in which you don’t have custody of your children, ask yourself…are you a father or a DAD? There’s a huge difference. And chances are, if you’ve read this to the end, you’re definitely a DAD!

Happy Father’s Day!