Day 304: Birthday Lunch with Aubrey

Aubreys birthday

My granddaughter, Aubrey, was born on Halloween, 6 years ago today. Far from being frightful, she’s been a delight since the moment of her birth. We had intended to celebrate her last Sunday, but the flu bug changed the plans. Her family will gather next Sunday, instead, to wish her happy birthday and celebrate her big little life. For my first today, I had the privilege of joining Aubrey and her daddy, my son, at Aubrey’s school, for a birthday lunch.

I was thrilled when Aubrey called yesterday and invited me to lunch. I have not had lunch with my granddaughter yet, at school. And to get to do so on her birthday was a treat. Nate picked me up early so we could pick up birthday cards, a piece of rainbow confetti birthday cake, complete with a number 6 on top, and Subway sandwiches, which is what Aubrey requested for her birthday lunch. We arrived at the school ahead of Aubrey’s lunch time, so we could watch for her to file into the cafeteria. I love how my son loves his daughter. We chatted as we watched for Aubrey’s class to arrive. As I was looking at Nate, his face brightened and he smiled, saying “There she is!” His obvious delight in her is apparent, to me, to anyone who knows him, and most importantly, to Aubrey. It nurtures a girl’s heart and soul to know she is loved and cherished by her daddy. She was just as pleased to see him.

Aubreys birthday cake

We let our birthday princess pick out our seating spot and then unpacked our lunches. She was excited about her piece of birthday cake and her cards and even more excited to have her dad and Yaya with her for lunch. As the rest of the kindergarten kids walked by, on their way to picking up their lunch trays, each one wished Aubrey a happy birthday. Her little face flushed pink with all the attention.

This beautiful little girl is so precious. She is bright, funny, happy, and sociable, as comfortable talking to adults as she is talking to children. Since her toddler days she has exhibited a strong spiritual side, frequently talking about God, angels and the Spirit realm. She’s intuitive, like me, and has some of the same abilities and gifts that I do. It has been insightful, and healing to me, to watch Aubrey grow up with her intuition, completely without fear.

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She loves animals and family, rainbows and climbing trees. Aubrey is a movie buff, which is another passion we share. She first fell in love with films watching The Beauty and the Beast and has since collected all the Disney movies and other animated films and moved on to non animation. When a new children’s movie hits the theater, Aubrey and I make plans to see it. She not only enjoys watching the movie, but also acting it out and discussing it afterward. The movie Frozen, which we saw for the first time last December, has become a favorite of hers. Aubrey accompanied me to the Frozen Sing-a-Long as a first, and stood and sang her heart out during the movie. I love her free spirit and her sense of fun.

I have my favorite Aubrey stories. When she was three, we had a talk about what was appropriate language, and what wasn’t! She asked me about a certain word. “Oh no,” I said, “we don’t say that one.” A short time later, while playing, she dropped a toy over and over. I heard her sigh and whisper in exasperation, “I almost said sh*t.” Another time, at about the same age, she asked me for a drink of water. Always mindful of teaching moments, I asked her, “What’s the magic word?” Without hesitation Aubrey said, “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.” After I choked on laughter, I got her a drink.

Magical might be the word that describes this amazing child best. I am honored to be her Yaya. I look forward to watching her grow into the person she is meant to be, and I will enjoy journeying beside her as she discovers her world, and her place in it. Happy birthday, Aubrey! I love you so much!

Aubrey birthday color me happy

 

Day 285: Joey’s Tailgate Party

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What a delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, with family at my first ever tailgate party. Grandson Joey’s final football game of the regular season was played today, postponed from yesterday due to a very soggy football field. That worked out perfectly. My sister Linda and great niece London was able to join us today. Five year old Aubrey and four year old London were long overdue for a play date.

The overcast day was chilly but remained dry, perfect weather for jeans and hoodies. Joey’s third grade Carthage Tigers football team hosted an end of the season tailgate party complete with grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, chips, drinks and homemade cookies. I gathered with Linda and London, my son Nate and his fiancé Megan, and the grandkids, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey. We parked on a picnic table and enjoyed food and fun. The kids lined up to have their faces and hands painted, in blue and white designs and tiger orange and black paw prints to show team spirit. While the kids ran off energy, the adults chatted and kept an eye on the antics of the children.

This afternoon’s game was against the Webb City Cardinals, who are always tough competition. I watched Joey’s team run two touchdowns and hold the opposing team to a single score. And I applauded not only their efforts today but the marked improvements the boys have made, playing as a team. Joey ran and carried the ball and made impressive tackles. Oliver served the team as water boy today and he performed his tasks well. It was especially touching to see him carry a Gatorade onto the field for his older brother and trot alongside him Joey drank.

Aubrey played with her cousin until it was time for London to leave and then joined another friend in practicing cheers. I loved her enthusiasm and self confidence. She stood before the bleachers, calling out cheers and kicking her legs and waving her arms. When the girls ran out of known cheers, they sang the ABC song! Adorable.

It was a fun day. I enjoyed sitting with my sister, son and his bride to be, watching the game, cheering and chatting between plays. With this win, it was a near perfect season for the third grade Tigers, and a perfect end to the weekend. Below is a Magisto movie of the day. Enjoy!

Day 239: Happy Dance, Just Because

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Today’s first was the culmination of several inspirations. August 27 is Just Because Day. The day offers the chance to do something without having a reason for it, free of expectations or “have tos”.  It was the opportunity to explore something new, uncommon or unexpected, just because I wanted to! What a perfect day to celebrate a first.

While in Scotland, I walked every day. I liked the way my body responded to the additional exercise and inspired, I vowed to continue walking when I returned home. Except I discovered, upon my arrival home, that it was in the 90’s, temperature wise, in Missouri. I’ve let the warm weather be my excuse for not walking. Today, I wanted to move beyond that excuse and combine a walk on a new trail with Just Because Day.

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My greatest inspiration for today’s first was my five year old granddaughter, Aubrey. On a recent trip to Chick Fil A, just us girls, Aubrey came out of the children’s play area, announcing that she had to use the restroom. We headed toward the restrooms, across the restaurant. I walked behind Aubrey. But she didn’t walk. She danced. Not the well known “pee pee dance” that small children perform when they’ve almost waited too long to get to a bathroom. No, this was pure, uninhibited joy, expressed as dance. She moved with the freedom of expression that children so easily inhabit, swinging her arms side to side, twirling occasionally. People watched her with smiles on their faces, as she pranced by. One diner caught Aubrey’s eye and this beautiful child tossed out a “Hello there!” as she danced on through. As we reached the restroom door, she twirled dramatically for her finale. I laughed with delight. And I wished I had danced along behind her. When did I outgrow public freedom of expression and become too concerned about what others might think?

The final inspiration for this evening’s adventure came from Zumba class this morning. Dave introduced a new dance routine, set to Pharrell Williams’ incredibly fun song, “Happy”. I love that tune. It was a very upbeat song to do Zumba to. Thinking about my first for today, I knew I wanted to include this joyful song.

All those inspirations came together this evening as the sun began to set. I chose to walk on the new trail north of Parr Hill Park and 15th Street. Dozens of young trees have been planted in that green space and a paved walking trail winds through the area, connecting the pathways from Parr Hill Park with the Campbell Parkway Trail. I had downloaded the Happy song on my iPhone. And with a freedom inspired by Aubrey, I danced and walked along the trail as the song played cheerfully on my phone. To document the moment, I did a short video. I discovered I couldn’t play the song and create a video at the same time. I improvised by shooting the footage, as I sang the song, and then later creating a movie of the Happy Dance by using my new app, Magisto.

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The heat was draining out of the day as I turned off the video, cranked up the music, and just moved. I didn’t meet any other walkers on the trail, but it wouldn’t have mattered if I had. I danced. I sang. I moved my feet and clapped my hands. I thought of Aubrey and wished she could have joined me. I’m sure we would have laughed. So I laughed and exalted in the freedom. I celebrated Just Because Day….and life.

 

Day 214: Open to Receive Day

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This morning, as I sat in the garden, I considered what I might do for my first today. I had several options. As I enjoyed the sights and scents around me, an idea came to me. A simple idea. Stay open all day to receiving. I turned the idea over in my mind and the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I didn’t ask for anything or expect any particular gift. I decided to stay in the attitude of openness and be aware of all the blessings that I received.

Once that decision was made, my awareness shifted immediately. The first gift I received was the beauty of my surroundings. I rose from my chair and slowly walked along the pathway that winds through my garden. I stopped to touch several plants, and admire how they give so freely of who they are. Their fragrances wafted about me. They didn’t give to me because I asked anything from them. In their being, they offered, and in my state of being receptive, I accepted.

The cats joined me in the garden and I was the recipient of their love and affection. I laughed as they wound around my legs, vying for my attention and purring as I scratched behind their ears. Back in the house, as I prepared to head to the office, I drew a random card from my homemade deck of affirmations. I draw a card every morning, from the 100 quotes and sayings I’ve written down. This morning I drew the card that reads, “I am willing to surrender”. How appropriate for today. In allowing myself to be open to receive, without expectation, I could surrender the need to know how I would be blessed this day. I surrendered worry that I wouldn’t receive anything. How could that happen? So many good things had shown up already. I surrendered planning out how the day could go so that I might receive more easily. I simply surrendered….and fully opened to allowing.

The day was lovely. A few of the blessings I received today included a large yellow and black butterfly that fluttered around me as I walked to daughter Adriel’s house, her loan of a very nice camera for my trip, visitors to my garden who got to view it for the first time, and offers on properties. I engaged in great conversations today and learned from watching author and speaker Thomas Moore on YouTube as he spoke of art and dreams. He shared about the healing properties of the color blue, which is my favorite color, and I smiled as I looked down at my long blue T-shirt dress that I wear around the house.

Via email I received an invitation to write articles about my trip to Scotland to include in the Clan Maitland publication. I was also given information about visiting the burial site of many of my Scottish ancestors and was told how to “open doors” on my journey. A friend blessed me with her email also, and the amazing energy from her words could not be contained as it flowed over me. I will carry her well wishes with me as I travel. Another friend surprised and inspired me with a text full of pictures from her own lovely flower gardens.

This evening I received greetings and kisses from my grandchildren Aubrey, Oliver and Joey and warm hugs from Nate and Megan. For a couple of hours I was blessed with seeing the world anew through the eyes of those precious children as we walked to the cul-de-sac, or rather they outpaced me on their scooters while I trailed behind. Holding their small hands and hearing their stories blessed me so much.

Songs on shuffle on my iPhone touched me, grace surrounded me and total strangers gave me the gift of their smiles and kind words. Abundance comes in many forms, and today, I was on the receiving end of joy, beauty, kindness, love, family, friends, great clients, affection, opportunity and well wishes. I am grateful for my “Open to Receive” Day and all that flowed to me. I am blessed, indeed.

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Day 200: Christmas in July

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I know many people who celebrate Christmas midyear. However, my family has not done this, until this year. My sisters, our children, all have families and traditions of their own. It is difficult nowadays to get most of us together to celebrate anything! For my first today, I gathered with many members of my extended family to celebrate with a traditional Christmas dinner.

This was a fun day. Another first for me was the privilege of including Joey and Oliver in this family event. My son Nathanael had to work today, and his lovely bride-to-be, Megan, had a day long class at MSSU. They couldn’t join us today, but they allowed the three children to ride to Broken Arrow, OK with Greg and me. I was excited about this, our first outing. I have to say, the kids did great, riding in the car for such distances and playing with cousins. Many more adventures together await us.

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My niece Ashley, and her husband Jon, once again hosted the family for a large dinner. They are such gracious and generous hosts, opening their beautiful home and planning and carrying out these get togethers. Parties are such fun….and a whole lot of work. This young couple focuses on the festive aspect of parties, not the hours of labor involved. I am grateful for them.

Everyone contributed a side dish, sodas or appetizers. Mimi Jerri and Steve brought the chocolate cream pies! Jon deep fried the turkey breast and it was delicious and juicy. We all feasted well and enjoyed a day of visiting, laughing and taking turns keeping an eye on the kids. I was grateful daughter Adriel was able to join us, and grateful for daughter Elissa as well, who was accompanied by boyfriend Josh and his son, Jonathan. Linda’s son Scott and daughter-in-law Nicole were able to be there, with toddler Weston. By the time we say Merry Christmas again, in December, this wonderful couple will have been blessed with a baby daughter. We missed Nate and Megan, my grandson Dayan, who was with his dad, celebrating their Christmas in July this weekend, Adriel’s husband Kelly and Linda’s son Eric and his family. Mom and my stepdad Walter stayed home too, as Walter is recovering from heart surgery.

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July Xmas Josh e

We didn’t exchange gifts today, or sing Christmas carols, although we did wish each other a very Merry Christmas. The purpose today was to take time now to get together, as a family, and celebrate life and successes and express love and joy to each other. And those are the greatest of gifts, to offer and to receive.

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Day 195: Shrimp Quesadilla at El Charro in Carthage

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What a busy day today, meeting with clients and making phone calls and getting mulch down in the newest part of the garden. In between meeting my last two clients for the day, I had the opportunity to have dinner with my son Nate, his fiancé Megan, and their three delightful children at El Charro in Carthage. I had not eaten at this El Charro before, and to really make it a good first, I tried a new dish there, shrimp quesadilla.

I was missing my son and his family. With their busy schedules and mine, it had been too long since I’d seen them and hugged on the kids. It was great to get to be with them, and fun to go to dinner together. I don’t believe I’ve had dinner with this little group by myself before. We often have family dinners for someone’s birthday, where the whole group gathers. But this was special, too, having an intimate dinner.

I rode with the family in the car to El Charro and Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and I sat in the back and chatted. I loved hearing the kids’ news and stories and listening to what’s important to them. We settled in at the restaurant and ordered dinner. These are precious times. I remember what it is like as a parent. Someone needs to use the bathroom, everyone has something special that they want for dinner, each child has something to say. Like Nate and Megan, I had three kids and they can keep you busy!

El Charro dinner e

The wonderful thing about being the grandparent, the Yaya in this case, is that having a boisterous, everyone telling stories at once kind of dinner is great fun for me. It brings back memories of my own young family. And having raised those kids and knowing how fast the time goes by, it reminds me that these children will grow up just as fast. All too soon, they won’t discuss who gets to sit by Yaya in the car or at the restaurant. They won’t be so eager to tell me their stories and they will be embarrassed to hold my hand. And I definitely won’t be able to pick up each one for a hug and a kiss.

Tonight, I didn’t mind escorting the kids to the restrooms, twice each. Or sharing my rice. Or wiping up drips of queso. These children with their bright little faces, curious minds and their open, loving hearts bring me great joy. Nate and Megan are amazing parents and they have every right to be proud of their offspring. I’m proud of them, as parents.

And, the shrimp quesadilla was excellent! Plump shrimp and sautéed onions and green peppers made a delicious and healthy dinner. I’d have this unusual quesadilla again. The restaurant offered friendly service and our meals arrived promptly. We had a fun, engaging meal with lots of interesting conversations and no one, not even me, spilled a drink or even dropped a fork!

Before heading back to Joplin and meeting with my last client, I drew pictures on the driveway with colored chalk, traced around each child as they lay on the driveway, and participated in car races with Hot Wheels. Oh, the incredible joys of summer and childhood. When I’m with my grandchildren, I get to experience both.

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Day 171: Pick Up Aubrey From School

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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.

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Day 144: Girls Outing to Andy’s Custard

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My planned first for today didn’t involve family or food. However, when the day shifted and an opportunity presented itself for me to get together with my granddaughter, Aubrey, sister Linda, and her granddaughter, London, I seized it. Aubrey, 5 years old, and London, 4 years old, adore each other and treat each other more like sisters than second cousins. Aubrey misses London, and vice versa, when too much times passes without a play date.

We had a fun lunch at Chuck E Cheese. The girls chowed down on pizza, played games and danced with the mouse, Mr. Cheese himself. Since we’ve all eaten at this place many times, I considered dancing with him also, as a first. But that didn’t seem appropriate somehow.

As the girls used up their tokens, we discussed what we could all do, for my first today, that could involve the girls. We decided as we were leaving Chuck E Cheese to go to Andy’s for frozen custard. The little girls weren’t sure if they had eaten there before. Linda and I knew we had been there, and  frozen custard isn’t on my list of acceptable foods, but off we went.

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As we arrived in the parking lot, the girls recognized Andy’s. Everyone was agreeable to trying something new that they had not eaten before. London and Aubrey got children’s sundaes with rainbow sprinkles, Linda tried a new vanilla – chocolate concrete and I had Andy’s special for the month of May, a strawberry shortcake sundae. I did get the smallest size available!

The four of us had fun trying new treats. We chatted as we ate and snapped pictures to post with my blog and to capture a visual reminder of our special outing. The girls got to play at Linda’s house afterwards. These young ladies know how to get all the joy and fun possible out of spending time together. Watching them, listening to their animated conversations, clapping as they danced from their hearts, brought the assurance that all was well in my world. Children are wonderful teachers, showing by example how to live in the moment and find the happiness and perfection there. Thank you, Aubrey and London.

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Day 137: Jasper County Sheriff’s Office Community Safety Day

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Today’s first was special, and actually a double first, as my mom, sister and I took Aubrey, Oliver and Joey on a first family outing! We attended a fun event sponsored by the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department. Located just off the square in Carthage, MO, Community Safety Day was geared toward children but had plenty of fun and interesting activities for the whole family.

I often do things with my grandchildren and always enjoy being with them. It is fresh and magical, seeing the world through a child’s eyes. For the first time today, I enjoyed taking not only Aubrey out for some fun, but also got to include the boys of my son’s fiancé. It was great having my mom and sister with us as well. With the crowd and lots of booths to visit, we each paired up with a child and could give the kids the freedom to participate in the activity that they wanted to, without trying to keep everyone together.

Immediately after we arrived, we watched a demonstration by the county’s attack and drug sniffing dog. Later we watched the bomb detecting dog do her thing, alerting her trainer to the presence of an explosive. The kids got to get up close and pet the bomb detection dog, although the attack dog was strictly off limits. Each child also tossed a ball for the bomb dog to fetch. Even working dogs need to have some downtime!

There was also a demo by the county’s swat team and a booth set up with all their gear on display. Aubrey headed a different direction, with me in tow, but Joey and Oliver were fascinated with all the equipment and asked the officers great question. They got to stand behind a protective shield and each one tried on a safety vest, which weighed a hefty 40 pounds.

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The kids visited the face painting booth and left with painted characters on their faces or hands. The balloon animal man created two monkeys and a sword for our little group and we munched on popcorn, hotdogs and shaved ice! The big hit at the event was the bounce house that looked like a giant police car. The kids were quick to shed their shoes and crawl inside. Fortunately for us, there was a tent nearby with chairs and tables so we could unload our arms of balloons, bags and food and rest for a little bit.

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Sheriff Randee Kaiser and his deputies did a great job creating a fun and educational event. They were on site to mingle and visit and answer questions. I think it is important to be very visible, in a positive way, in the community in which they serve. The kids just knew they had fun playing and eating and learning about safety and being protected. And that made our day, knowing they had a great time. On the way back to their house, we also stopped for ice cream cones at Braum’s. That finished off a perfect outing!

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Day 34: Disney’s Frozen Sing-A-Long with Aubrey

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This wasn’t my first viewing of Disney’s newest animated film, Frozen. It was, however, the first time I have participated in a sing-a-long at the theater. My granddaughter, Aubrey, graciously agreed to go with me, and oh, what fun we had!

In its tenth week in theaters, Disney made an unprecedented decision to release a sing-a-long version of this wildly popular movie. Lyrics appear on the screen during the film’s songs along with a bouncing snowflake. It’s an invitation to join in, and audiences are accepting, with gusto.

I understand the appeal. This movie connects with me, deeply. The song, “Let It Go”, nominated for an Oscar, is my theme song for 2014. Aubrey and I both identify with the character, Elsa, who has a gift that she fears and therefore, hides. Something stirs in our hearts as Elsa embraces who she is and uses her ability to create beauty and bring joy to others. A couple of weeks ago, when my mom, sisters, niece and I slipped away to a late night showing of Frozen, sans kids, we hoped we would be the only patrons in the theater, so we could belt out the songs. Alas, there were a lot of other late night movie goers!

When I found out Disney was releasing the sing-a-long version, I knew I’d be attending. Because of the time of day for the movie, there was only a handful of adults and kids in attendance. As the first song began and the bouncing snowflake appeared, we all tentatively joined in. In a few moments, though, led by the children in the room, we were singing heartily. What an amazing experience. I loved watching Aubrey sing, dance and act out scenes from the movie, as only a five year old can. I loved hearing the man down the row from me singing in his deeper baritone, shyly at first and then with more confidence. After one song ended, we glanced at each other and smiled. And I loved singing each song, from my heart, and seeing this powerful movie for the third time.

Aubrey and I left the theater humming and singing our favorite Frozen songs, delighted by the experience. It was a good warm up for another first that I have on my list….karaoke.