Day 171: Pick Up Aubrey From School


Sometimes, it is the little things that brighten my day and bring joy to my heart. Although seemingly small, these experiences are nonetheless memorable. For my first today, I had the privilege of picking up my granddaughter, Aubrey, from school.

Five year old Aubrey starts kindergarten in the fall. One part of me recognizes that this bright young lady is fully ready to embark on this next adventure on her journey. And another part of me can’t believe she’s already old enough to be in school! Aubrey did not attend preschool, so she is taking part in the Jump Start program. It is designed to give incoming kindergarten students a chance to become familiar with school routines and expectations while enriching their education through fun and engaging activities.

This, then, is Aubrey’s first experience with school and she has embraced it. It is a long day for her, and yet she remains positive and excited about it, except for the mandatory nap time. She loves recess and learning. She is proud of the work she brings home. And, she was happy to report after her first day, that she had made five new friends. That’s not surprising. Aubrey values friendships and engages others easily.

When my son asked if I could pick up Aubrey today, while he picked up Joey and Oliver, I was happy to help out! I wanted to see this sweet child with her classmates and friends and enjoy some girl chat time while we waited for her dad and the boys to meet us at the house. Aubrey was watching for me to arrive as I parked the car. She clutched her school work and waited patiently with her classmates as I crossed the street. The wind was blowing her long hair and she gave me a happy smile as I snapped a picture to capture today’s first.

What fun, as we drove away from school, to get to ask her about her day. It was party day at school, she was pleased to tell me. The kids watched a movie and ate snow cones. When she asked me to guess what color of snow cone she had, I only had to glance at her face in the rear view mirror to guess correctly. Her lips were blue! She shared about the letter “L”, and how the words Love, Leaf and Lollipop all begin with that letter. We talked about her best friends. And I learned what she ate for lunch. Even though it was a party day, that nap time was still observed, but I suspect Aubrey, who has been arising very early on school days, appreciated it more than she let on.

At home, we sat in the porch swing and watched for the guys. I admired her drawing of hearts and a rainbow. Her blue eyes would sparkle and her mouth curve into a broad smile as we talked more about what she was learning in school and about her friends and the upcoming weekend. I treasured this first. All too quickly, Aubrey will be in middle school and then junior high and then….graduating from high school and leaving for college. For those precious moments though, she was a happy five year old, full of stories and wonder and joy, sharing with me, her Yaya, about her day. What a beautiful time.


Day 170: Furballs Launch Party


Third Thursdays are always fun. Thousands of people wander about in downtown Joplin, between 7th and A Streets on Main. Vendors, performers, artists and organizations are set up along Main and in storefronts. It’s a great time to connect with friends and meet new people. It’s a very festive atmosphere, which is perfect for a Launch Party!

Today, for my first, I attended the launch party for Furballs, a new game app. A year in the making, Furballs is the baby of creator Les Olsen. His company, Wise App Inc., is located in downtown Joplin along with his other company, Sidecars Inc. Les embodies entrepreneurial spirit and creative energy. His vision was to create a modern day Duck Hunt with cute little woodland characters who inflate themselves with an air compressor and float around the screen. The player shoots them to deflate them, knocking off their fur and sending them to the ground. There are multiple levels, that increase in difficulty as the player progresses, making this a game that appeals to all ages.

After sharing the idea with colleagues and friends, Les says, “I knew by how excited everyone was that this was a good idea and from there, it was a matter of finding out HOW to get this done.” Thus began a long and not always easy journey of bringing his vision to reality. Using a post production team from Bulgaria and a support team of collaborators here, the project evolved from an idea to character development to storyline to the app that released today.

I downloaded the game app, from the iTunes store, before attending the party this evening. I confess that I enjoy playing games on my iPhone. It is my guilty pleasure and after a long day of work and play, it is a way for me to unwind. I’ve played Angry Birds and a variety of arcade style games. I still play Candy Crush. So I am not a game novice. Furballs is a FUN game. I played for 40 minutes before needing to leave the house and I laughed and learned and progressed. The graphics are amazing, the music catchy without being annoying, and the game easy to figure out as I moved along. I love the movie quotes that the main character, Beemer, shares after each round of play. And I laughed the most when, after a poor round on my part, Beemer came out and shook his head, saying “No, no, no….”.


This app is available now for iPad and iPhone and will be available for other platforms soon. At a price of $2.99 this game joins a movement against in-app purchases. There is an option to purchase coins for those who want to take a shortcut, but it isn’t necessary to progress in the game.

My daughter, Elissa, works for this amazing company. I’m looking forward to spending a day with her at work soon and learning more about this product and other upcoming adventures. I’m excited about this game, not just because it is so fun to play, but because it is inspiring to witness a dream come true.


Learn more about Furballs below:

Day 169: Giving Jars


Today’s first was inspired by my facebook friend, Marva. In several of her posts she told the story of her neighbor and her exchanging a mason jar filled with various goodies. One would give the other a gift in the jar, such as soup, and the other would soon return the jar, filled with something new. Marva didn’t know she was inspiring me….she was just being her delightful self and as a result, goodness went out into the world and sparked creativity in me.

I adapted the idea. Today I created two giving jars, using pint sized mason jars. I filled each one with blackberries and blueberries and tied a burlap ribbon around the top of the jar. They looked cute and they were filled with a healthy snack. As the recipients of the giving jars use up the gift, they can then fill the jar with whatever they want, when they want, and pass the jar on to someone else. This is an act of paying it forward.

The first person I dropped a jar off to was my younger daughter, Adriel. This hard working child is currently taking two summer classes and then has one more semester of nursing school. She has persevered and continued down this path without wavering. She has worked while going to college and then nursing school, so this has been a long, slow process for her. I know she’s dealing with stress, with school and work and life. I also knew that today she was home studying for an online exam this evening. I wanted her to know I was thinking of her and quietly cheering on her. She knows I love her, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to show that love in a very concrete way.

The next person to receive a giving jar was my friend, Cate. She invited me over for dinner tonight, a lovely, healthy meal prepared with my diet in mind. How incredibly thoughtful! Cate and I enjoyed chatting and laughing before, during and after dinner. She is a new friend, but it feels like we’ve known each other for a long time. We have very similar views of the world and what fun it was to toss ideas and stories back and forth. I know Cate will surprise someone else with the giving jar, and enjoy doing it.  I look forward to our continuing friendship as we journey together. I found out as I was leaving that tomorrow is Cate’s birthday! I love how things work out.

This was such a fun little project, that I think I will create more giving jars to give away.  Steve Maraboli says, “Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned.”  That captures the essence of giving, doing so without a thought of receiving in return and yet knowing love and goodness will flow back to me in some fashion. It’s not up to me to think about the hows or whens. I am to give freely out of who I am. I am open to give, open to receive, open to life.

Day 168: Dinner at Big R’s BBQ


Daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan took Greg out to dinner tonight, for Father’s Day. They all graciously allowed me to tag along! I’ve eaten lunch before at Big R’s, many years ago. And I’ve stopped in for a slice of pie to go. This evening, for my first, I ate dinner at Big R’s BBQ, located at 1220 E 15th Street in Joplin.

This restaurant, which features smoked and barbequed meats, and their famous homemade pies, has a quaint and interesting building. The exterior is unimposing and fashioned from wood. Inside there are two cozy rooms, with wooden booths and tables, and a small bar area. The walls are decorated with plaques and signs with funny quotes and vintage items. It’s a down home place for delicious home style meals. Iced tea, water and sodas are served up in large mason jars. The dishes are purposefully mismatched. It’s a fun, casual place to dine. As I looked around, I wondered why I don’t eat here more often. I intend to remedy that.

According to their website, Big R started preparing meats, in 1983, in a homemade smoker, fashioned from a refrigerator shell. What started as a hobby soon became a fledgling business. Big R created a larger smoker using a retired Guy’s Potato Chips truck. He traveled the Ozarks, selling his hickory smoked meats to local businesses. After perfecting his own barbeque sauce, it was time to open a restaurant. That was in 1985. The first Big R’s BBQ opened on Main Street in Noel, MO. This very small place gave Big R the outlet he needed to perfect his loinback ribs, brisket, chicken and pork. His hard work and dedication paid off. A larger restaurant was opened in Anderson, MO. Mrs. R had the kitchen space to create wonderful sides and those incredible pies, using her family’s recipes. Today, daughter Twyla continues the traditions and service, established by her father and mother, in the Joplin restaurant.


We had a wonderful dinner. I tried the grilled barbeque pork chops. They were so tender and the serving was very generous. I brought half my meal home. Dayan had a cheeseburger with bacon, and the largest plate of curly Q fries I’ve ever seen! It was great to chat and laugh and catch up on each other’s news. We were all full, but you can’t eat at Big R’s without having a piece of pie! We each ordered a slice to go. Keeping with my theme of first experiences, I selected the pie of the month, Strawberry Lemonade Pie. I had one bite before boxing it up. It was a wonderful blend of lemon cream filling with a center ripple of sweet glaze and freshly sliced strawberries.

That bite of tangy sweetness was the perfect end to a great meal. And sharing that meal with family was the perfect end to the day. Thank you, Elissa and Dayan!


Day 167: X-Men: Days of Future Past


As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I love hero movies. I grew up reading Marvel and DC comics. When the first X-Men movie came out in 2000, I was there to see it. Two of my favorite older actors were in it, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, so I knew I would enjoy it! Tonight, for my first, I saw the latest film in the X-Men saga, Days of Future Past. Linda went with me and this was a first for her as well….this was her first time to see an X-Men movie.

X-Men: Days of Future Past stars Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Halle Berry and is directed by Bryan Singer. It is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 2 hours and 11 minutes. It is a sci-fi adventure.

I enjoy storylines that explore the possibility of traveling back in time, especially those that are attempting to right a wrong. Don’t we all wish we could go back, and change a choice we made or correct a wrong we did? I know I have thought about being able to do that very thing. In the opening scene of this movie, we see a very bleak world where mutants, and humans who help them, are being mercilessly hunted down and killed by robots known as Sentinels. Created in 1973, they have wreaked havoc on the world. The X-Men have decided someone needs to go back and stop Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence, whose actions in 1973 brought about the current situation. The only X-Man strong enough to endure having his consciousness sent back to his counterpart in the 70’s is Wolverine, wonderfully portrayed by Hugh Jackman .

His mission is to find the younger Prof. Charles Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart, and Eric/Magneto, played by Ian McKellen and convince them to find Mystique and prevent her from killing the creator of the Sentinels. She was captured in 1973 and her DNA used to enable the Sentinels to adapt to any mutant that they encountered, more effectively killing them off. I enjoyed the continuing story of the younger counterparts to Charles and Eric, portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively. These two have long had a friendship/enemy relationship, or, as Linda described it, they are frenemies. And Wolverine is always a joy  to watch!

These are movies fun, full of action, and include good dollops of humor. And yet I found nuggets to ponder. The whole movie is built upon the premise that the future isn’t really set. Charles says, at the end of the movie, “The past: a new and uncertain world. A world of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes. Countless choices define our fate: each choice, each moment – a moment in the ripple of time. Enough ripple, and you change the tide… for the future is never truly set.” The characters also discuss whether a person can be changed, or no matter what is done to affect change, does that person return to who they really are and continue on. Good questions to think about!

I have thought about my own past and what changes I would make if I could go back and redo or undo some choices I’ve made. I know that can’t be done and to dwell on what is past is a waste of my energy. What I can do, is be mindful of the choices I am making NOW, knowing that my future and ultimately my past, is going to be affected by those decisions. I still wish I had a super power though!

Day 166: Reupholster Bistro Chairs


In early March of this year, I purchased a bistro set at the 2 Friends & Junk show. Although creating a space for it in my garden was still a month or more away, I loved the set when I saw it and gave it a temporary home in my bedroom. Today, for my first, I removed the old seat covers and replaced them with new outdoor fabric in a wonderful paisley print.

When I was a child, I’d come home from school and find that the living room chairs or sofa looked different. My mom had made new slipcovers while we were away. Or my favorite old rocker with the wooden arms would be sporting new corduroy upholstery. It was always a fun surprise. Mom was quite the seamstress, making all kinds of household items, sewing clothes for my sisters and me, and creating piles of doll clothes as well. The hum of her sewing machine was comforting and the sound still creates a cozy warm feeling when I hear it.

I, on the other hand, am not a seamstress. But I wanted to replace the fabric on the bistro chairs and since I could do so without any sewing, it seemed to be a task I could handle. I found the perfect outdoor material at Joann Fabrics, a pretty paisley print in teal, green, brown, yellow, rust and cream. Another outdoor project that is under way this week will feature a teal door, so I selected a pattern that brought that color to the far corner of the garden.

I didn’t need a sewing machine, but I did need tools. I gathered scissors, a screwdriver, a drill, the compressor, and a crown stapler. It was simple enough to remove the seats, saving the screws. I tore off the ruffles and using the seat as a pattern, traced around it on the new fabric. I added an allowance for pulling the fabric around the foam topped wooden seat, where I would secure it with staples. I encountered my first hiccup when I didn’t have enough staples to complete the job. Greg, bless him, checked a couple of stores before finding and buying more for me.

Fabric circles cut and ready to go, I stapled one to a seat and prepared to reattach the seat to the chair frame. Next hiccup. I realized the former owner of the chairs had made the seats a bit small and the original holes in the frame barely allowed a screw to bite into the wood of the seat. Greg again came to my rescue. While I finished covering the remaining seats, he drilled new holes in the metal frames, moving the holes further in. The screws now had something to sink into. I was able to quickly finish up. I got much better at handling the fabric and tools as I went along.

I am very pleased with the results! The chairs have a fresh, updated look. The colors are so perfect that I will most likely use them throughout the backyard. I placed the bistro table and four chairs on a corner of the brick patio. What a great place that will be to sip a morning cup of tea or have an outdoor meal.  I feel the satisfaction my mom must have felt when she finished one of her projects. Mom….look what I did!


Original seat covers



New paisley covers

Day 165: The Screen Door


Family gathered today for an early Father’s Day celebration for my step-dad, Walter. We enjoyed lunch together and this evening, a time around the fire pit in my backyard, chatting, laughing, sipping drinks, toasting marshmallows and making S’mores. In between those two activities, the ladies slipped away to do a little junkin’. For my first today, I visited The Screen Door, located at 112 E. 4th, on the square in Carthage, MO.  My mom and sisters, Debbie and Linda, accompanied me.

We girls have a good time, no matter what adventure we set off on. We love to browse in flea markets and vintage stores. Although today I didn’t have any particular items that I was searching for, my sister Debbie was on the hunt for specific treasures to use for Halloween decorations. The Halloween Party War is on, between Debbie and her daughter, Ashley, and my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan. Both families throw amazing parties, and it’s all in good fun. For the rest of us, we get the benefit of enjoying two outstanding parties.

I’ve looked forward to visiting The Screen Door. I’ve read good reviews and seen pictures that piqued my interest. I was not disappointed. This is a very cute, very clean shop, full of flea market type items, vintage pieces and antiques. There is truly a bit of everything here. We took our time wandering around, looking at treasures, discussing what we could make with them. It is always fun to discover an item that we had as kids or remember a grandparent using, like ice tongs.

Debbie scored with a vintage wicker doll carriage. With some slight repairs and Debbie’s or Ashley’s handiwork, it will make a great addition to their Halloween décor. I foresee a zombie baby or other creepy kid nestled within it. Debbie was delighted with her find.

I found many interesting items, including fun pieces for the garden. I didn’t purchase anything today, but I will certainly return and check this store frequently. That’s part of the fun of junkin’ and visiting flea markets, seeking and finding and walking out of the store, feeling like I’ve found a treasure and a bargain.


Day 164: Full Honey Moon on Friday the 13th


Talk about a day when superstitions collide….Friday the 13th, full moon, and not only a full moon but because of the summer solstice, which occurs next week, the full moon is at its lowest to the horizon for this year, making it a “honey” moon. So called because of the amber color as it rises, this honey moon reached its full phase at 12:13 am this morning, on Friday, June 13.  This is a rare occurrence with the last one happening June 13, 1919 and the next one taking place June 13, 2098. For me, and indeed, most people, this is an astronomical first…and last.

I am not a superstitious person, so for me, Friday the 13th is not a day to be feared. I believe this day, like any day, is what we make it to be. For many people though, this is a day to stay home. Or, if they have to be out, to be cautious and not make any major decisions. While most of us see Friday as a great day, heralding the approach of the weekend, it used to be considered a day of ill omen. According to Michael Bailey, a history professor at Iowa State University, the day is associated with misfortune because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. In the Middle Ages, weddings were never held on Fridays and it was considered a poor day to begin travels. Friday was also hangman’s day during this time. The number 13 being considered unlucky is rooted in the belief that there were 13 guests present at the Last Supper, with Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, being that 13th person. When Friday and the 13th coincide, culture has long declared that this is the ultimate bad luck day.

Full moons also receive a bad rap. Our words “lunacy” and “lunatic” both derive from luna, the word for moon. Studies show, though, that a full moon does not cause a rise in crimes, craziness, or childbirth. Our word “honeymoon” may derive from this type of moon as most weddings took place in June in the 1550’s, when this term was first recorded.

I love the moon, with her beautiful silvery light. The moon is enchanting, mysterious, ever changing. My birth name, Cynthia, is a Greek name meaning moon. Perhaps it is natural that I would be drawn her.

And I have no terror of Fridays or the number 13. Thus, I have been blessed, on this rare day, enjoying family and friends, good food and gorgeous weather, and a lovely stroll through my garden. As tonight’s nearly full moon rises, and Friday the 13th draws to a close, I just might slip barefoot into the backyard and dance in the moonlight on the brick patio. Is that lunacy? I don’t think so. I am grateful, however, for the privacy fence!


View of the honey moon, from my front deck, early this morning.

Day 163: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


It’s been almost a month since I had a movie night at home. After weeks of watching the Best Picture nominated movies, I took a break. But tonight it felt right to bring home a DVD. I loved the trailers for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which released in theaters in December of 2013. I missed it at the local theater, so this evening, I was excited to watch this film for today’s first.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty stars Ben Stiller, who also directed the movie, Kristen Miig, Shirley MacLaine, Sean Penn and Adam Scott. It is rated PG and has a run time of 1 hour and 54 minutes. It is classified as an adventure-comedy-drama.

Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, is an average, unassuming man, living an average, anonymous life. He works at Life Magazine, which is about to publish its last print magazine before becoming an online publication. He is a daydreamer, often going into “the zone” where he lives out the life he’s afraid to live in the real world. In his imagination, he is an explorer, a lover, a hero. He’s interested in his co-worker, Cheryl Melhoff, portrayed wonderfully by Kristen Miig, but he’s afraid to engage her beyond casual chit chat.

Walter’s job is tedious but important. He’s the negative assets manager, with the job of preparing the negatives of the famous Life photos for print. He has had a long working relationship with independent photographer Sean O’Connell, who had mailed Walter his last batch of negatives for print. Included in the package is a note stating that negative #25 is intended for the cover of Life’s last magazine. It is his best work. Also in the package is a gift for Walter, a wallet, as a token of appreciation for all the collaborative work between the two.

Negative #25 is missing, however. With downsizing taking place in the company, Walter’s job and reputation are at stake. He must find the negative. A search begins to find the elusive photographer, played by Sean Penn. Driven by his need to find Sean, and locate the missing negative, Walter overcomes his shyness to form a friendship with Cheryl, who has offered to help him figure out where the photographer might be. Walter must step out into the real world and embarks on an adventure that is so much more amazing than the fantasies that occupied his mind.

This was a wonderful film, funny, touching, thought provoking. I loved the quote that Sean tucked into the gift wallet for Walter. It is the motto for Life Magazine (the movie version, not the actual motto for the actual magazine….I like the fictionalized one better!).

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.

Walter has only seen the world vicariously, through Sean’s photos. He’s afraid of dangerous things, afraid to draw closer. He’s afraid to feel. He lost his father at a young age. As a result, he gave up his individuality, his creativity and his desire to travel, to work in mind numbing jobs. I enjoyed the transformation of the hesitant daydreamer into the self confident journeyer. He found his courage, both to really live, and to draw close enough to love.

I enjoyed too the use of synchronicity throughout the film. For the characters, these were clues to discover the whereabouts of Sean. But they were more than that. These signs and wonders and connected events opened the way for Walter to not only find the photographer, but to find himself.  Negative #25 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty are about the quintessence of life, the fullness and richness of life. It’s important to dream, and dream big.  Even more important is to find the courage to actually live those dreams, one step, one adventure, at a time.

Day 162: Gryphon Building Firsts


Today’s firsts both took place in the Gryphon Building, located downtown at 1027 S. Main, Joplin. Formerly known as the Bagcraft Building and before that, the Inter State Grocer Building, this huge historic structure, built in 1915, sat empty for many years before being renovated in 2010. It features 123,000 square feet of office and retail space, and modern amenities with historic class and character. The Local Color Art Gallery & Studio is located in this beautiful building. There is also a restaurant, Fork American Kitchen, that I had not eaten at before, and as of today, a new ice cream shop, called Sweet Caroline’s Cream & Coffee. For my first today, I had lunch, and then dessert, in the Gryphon Building.

Fork American Kitchen was formerly Table Mesa. I did not try that restaurant before they changed their name and menu. From what I understand, Table Mesa served Latin food and this new menu focuses on American favorites with a twist, such as crab mac & cheese and curry chicken pot pie. Whatever the past restaurant name, menu and experiences were, it is most definitely in the past, so for today, for me, this was a delightful new experience. And I enjoyed my lunch. Loving a good Reuben sandwich, I chose that with a side of sweet potato fries. Both were excellent. The sweet potato fries were perfect….crispy on the outside and tender inside. Greg, who accompanied me, tried the Hollywood Chicken Sandwich with potato wedges and found those tasty as well.


The service was good, the restaurant attractive and clean, and the atmosphere was fun. There are also three banquet rooms available that seat up to 100 people. And live music on the patio on Friday nights. I will eat here again.

Sweet Caroline’s Cream & Coffee just opened in the Gryphon Building today. After lunch we strolled down the broad hallway to this new ice cream shop with an old fashion look. Offering 32 flavors of hard packed ice cream, fine chocolates and coffee, Sweet Caroline’s is a family owned, mom and pop type shop. They also serve up such specialties as shakes, floats, sundaes and cones. The décor fits in perfectly with the charm of the old building. I had a single scoop of no sugar added raspberry cheesecake ice cream in a waffle cone. It was delicious! Greg enjoyed a scoop of Caramel Caribou ice cream. We got our cones to go, but there was ample seating available in booths and tables.


I hope both businesses flourish. It is great to see more and more stores and restaurants opening in downtown Joplin. And for this grand old building that sat sadly neglected for so long, it has a vibrant and well deserved new life. I love seeing such restorations. It is the ultimate in repurposing.