Birthday Dinner & Shopping with Aubrey

This evening it was Aubrey’s turn to be treated to a birthday dinner and a shopping trip. She will be nine years old on Halloween day. I began this tradition several years ago, of taking each of my five grandchildren out for a special evening to celebrate their birth. It has become a wonderful time of sharing and listening and being together, one that the kids anticipate and that I do as well.

Aubrey selected Chicken Mary’s, in Pittsburg Kansas, as her dinner destination. Normally these outings just include the grandchild and me. Because of my knee slipping out of place yesterday, Greg volunteered to join us and drive. Aubrey was delighted.

I’ve never seen this child eat as much as she did at our early dinner. Chicken Mary’s was a good choice for her, with their home style meals and plenty of food. I was able to enjoy a salad with the chicken on the side, so that Aubrey could take it home for her lunch tomorrow.

Back in Joplin, Greg dropped Aubrey and me off at the mall for the birthday shopping, promising to pick us up when we were finished. This is the part of the celebration that the kids most look forward to. I give them a specific amount to spend, and they can use the cash to purchase what they want or they can save it. They typically spend most of it, and that is perfectly fine.

I can tell my granddaughter is getting older. This is the first time she has chosen the mall for her birthday shopping trip, rather than the toy store. She wanted girl stuff…jewelry, a billfold, a unicorn, small items for her school backpack. And an experienced shopper she is. I loved watching her examine items she was interested in, looking for the wow factor, weighing the cost of the item against the gratification. She kept up an amusing chatter the whole time.

This girl loves her fake fashion glasses!

What an almost nine year old girl’s shopping basket contains.

Aubrey settled on Claire’s Boutique, and struck gold here. A big sale meant her birthday cash went further. We visited several other stores in the mall, but this one drew her back. The young female clerk did an amazing job of assisting Aubrey, and every other customer who walked into the shop, with genuine warmth and obvious joy. She and Aubrey connected well over their discussion of animals.

This child, who is rapidly approaching her teens, has a big heart and such profound insights. In her I see echoes of myself, and Aubrey likes to discuss all the ways we are alike. In her I see a boldness and a fearlessness that has taken me years to cultivate. In me she sees a woman who tries new things and makes her dreams come true. She believes anything is possible, and that she can become whatever she wants to become. I agree with her.

At the girls’ clothing store, Justice, Aubrey discovered a writing table set up, with the question posted, What makes your family special? She carefully wrote her answer on the star shaped note and stuck it to the display.

LOVE she wrote. Love makes her family special. Love fills Aubrey’s heart and overflows to touch her family members and her friends and even the kind clerk she just met at Claire’s. Love is woven into her very soul. Aubrey receives it, accepts it and just as easily offers it to others.

Happy birthday, a few days early, sweet child. I appreciate the love that you so freely bestow upon me. Someday I hope you can understand how much healing you have brought into my heart and soul, just by being you. I love you!

Mom’s Big Year

I haven’t shared many birthday posts this year. Last year I did celebratory posts for every member of my family, both immediate and extended, on their actual birthdays. I’ve given the tradition a bit of a rest this year.

Today is my mom’s birthday. And rather than sharing what her name means or how she has influenced my life, as I have done in the past, I want to express how proud I am of my mom, for making some big changes in her life.

Mom has had some health challenges the last few years. Nothing was life threatening, however a host of ailments has greatly affected how she felt and necessitated several surgeries. Some might simply accept that as we get older, our health naturally declines. While this can appear to be true, my mom decided to shift that belief and take responsibility for her health.

Exactly a year ago, I accompanied my mom on all of her doctors’ appointments. I had recently switched to a plant based diet, taking charge of my own health and desiring to heal from chronic pain. Seeing my improvements, Mom was interested in embracing a plant based lifestyle as well. During that week of doctor visits, I got their hearty approvals for her to eliminate meat, eggs, dairy and gluten from her diet and consume instead fruits, vegetables, brown rice, gluten free oats, nuts and legumes.

Because here was the incentive…we were planning a trip. In twelve months my sisters, niece, mom and I intended to visit Ireland, Scotland and England. Mom and I both wanted to enjoy that trip in good health.

Six months later, when she returned for check ups, Mom was excited to learn that her health was indeed shifting. Inflammation was greatly reduced. Other health conditions had improved. Her doctors were impressed and encouraged her to continue with a plant based lifestyle. Even though she ended up having to have a knee replacement at that time, due to breaking a bone in that joint, she recovered remarkably well.

Her surgeon approved travel…and our dream trip became a reality.

I am so incredibly proud of my mom. We spent 12 days traveling. During that time we walked, a lot. We climbed stairs, toured landmarks and castles, and spent hours in planes, trains, automobiles and buses. We hopped on and off the London Tube. Did we slow our pace a bit? Yes. But only because she had knee surgery, just six months ago. Did we ever leave her behind at a hotel? Not once.

Mom and I are continuing in our plant based lifestyle. It is too important to my health, and to hers, to ever go back to the way we used to eat. I am thrilled. Mom inspires me every day, and now she is showing me how to live life to the fullest, as a “senior”.

Mom and Walter at dinner tonight.

During our recent trip, I often thought how precious it was to see Ireland, Scotland and England with my family, and especially with my mom. Travel has been an important part of her life, and her desire to explore the world has been passed on to me.

I also thought that this trip might be Mom’s last overseas adventure. And if it is, we have absolutely no regrets. However, my sisters and I are already talking about taking another girls’ trip together in 2019. And guess who wants to go with us?

Happy birthday Mom. I love you. I am so grateful for you and your desire to be the best version of yourself, at every age. Long may you have new adventures. And yes, you are always welcome to travel with us!

Being Adriel

I started something new last month, when my daughter Elissa had a birthday. Although my son’s birthday occurs earliest in the year, Elissa is my oldest, my firstborn. I seem to reset on her birthday and then continue the new tradition as my other children’s birthdays come up.

Today is my youngest child’s birthday. And as I did last month, this is not a birthday post as much as it is a reflection on my younger daughter, Adriel, and the lessons I’ve learned from her.

I have enjoyed this rainy Sunday, and a day of rest and self care. Last night I had the opportunity to see my daughter and share a meal with her. During this peace filled day, I’ve reflected on Adriel’s life and smiled over the joy she has brought to me…and teared up multiple times as I’ve sorted through family photos and pondered the lessons this beautiful soul has taught me.

Adriel has always surprised me. Discovering I was pregnant with baby number three was a big surprise…more of a shock really. With two toddlers already, a girl and a boy, our little family felt complete. However, it obviously was not! My pregnancy with Adriel was challenging, for two reasons. A minor heart condition that I have became a major problem during this pregnancy. And I felt very alone during those nine months of weekly doctors’ visits. Greg was busy with work and a new hobby…golf. His parents and mine all lived in other towns and/or states. I struggled to care for two active kids and a house.

Before she was even born, Adriel taught me to keep going, no matter what, and to find the joy in every situation. The day I heard her tiny heart beating for the first time, was the day I fully embraced this new life growing within me and opened my heart to her. I went home and sat quietly on the bed, holding infant clothes in my hands, imagining who she would be…and who she would become. I loved her fiercely.

And fierce she turned out to be! Adriel was the game changer in our family. The girls now outnumbered the boys. She was the youngest, but that never stopped her from doing her best to keep up with her older sister and brother. She was ornery…expressive…vocal…and tender hearted. She could love on her sister and then turn around and pinch her. She laughed when her daddy teased her brother, but cried when the teasing included her. She liked to tattle on me to her dad, if a male stranger smiled or winked at me while we were out shopping.

Adriel has always been her own person, and a force to reckon with, then and now.

One of the things that Adriel taught me, that had a great impact on me, was the beauty of tears. She cried easily as a child…because she was angry, because she was sad, because her feelings were hurt. Adriel felt no shame in crying. She would grab a handful of tissues and dab at her beautiful little eyes as the tears rolled out of them.

I envied her ability to cry like that. I struggled with showing emotion, and yet this precious child simply allowed the tears to flow. How her tears always melted my heart. I never shushed her. Adriel’s tears tried to open my own heart to the beauty of releasing pent up energy by crying. I wish now I had held her close and joined her by allowing my tears to flow with hers. I still think of young Adriel with her wadded up tissues, wiping her tears away. She is, unknowingly, still teaching me about crying.

The greatest lesson my youngest child has taught me is perseverance. Adriel has a “can do” attitude that has guided her through life. She decided at an early age that she wanted to be a nurse, and she has relentlessly followed that path. This was my child who gagged if someone said the word “snot” or sneezed in her presence. I never dreamed that she would enter the medical field.

But as I said, she surprises me. She started down her chosen path by volunteering at the hospital as a young teen. She allowed her fascination with the intricacies of the human body to overcome her tendency to react to certain unsavory things that the body is capable of. She taught me, by her example, to never give up…to follow your passion and your heart…and to get up every morning and keep going.

It was a long journey for this fiery girl, becoming a nurse. There were challenges as she worked full time and semester by semester completed her studies. Nursing school is difficult, even in the best possible circumstances. She didn’t have ideal conditions, as a tornado destroyed her home and a marriage came apart. Her life was upended. And yet…she persevered. She kept going. She didn’t stop trying. And she did it. My girl became a nurse.

Adriel bought another house. She married her sweetheart, Nate, last October. She has a career she enjoys, working as a RN for a neurologist. And still she keeps learning and growing and persevering, in pursuit of the life she desires.

As I did for Elissa last month on her birthday, I considered what symbol best represents my daughter Adriel. If I was going to get a tattoo for Adriel, in honor of her, her birthday, and her life, what would it look like? I asked for guidance, and I love how I was led.

My attention was first pulled to a pair of framed prints in my bedroom, vintage drawings of flowers. So, a flower for Adriel. The word that I associate with my daughter is “perseverance “. I googled to see which flower symbolizes that character quality. And I knew…before I saw the flower, I knew where I was being led.

Adriel’s middle name is Lauren. It’s a derivative of my own middle name, Lorene, and it is associated with laurel leaves which symbolize victory. That’s appropriate. However, I looked up the name Lauren. It literally means “from the place of the laurel leaves.” Is there a laurel flower? There is. And guess what the laurel flower symbolizes? Perseverance…steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

I drew laurel flowers for Adriel. There are laurel leaves in the sketch too, representing victory. But the flowers are significant. They are beautiful, these clusters of delicate blossoms, and the plant thrives, in less than ideal conditions. Poor soil and deep shade (darkness), do not prevent this flower from blooming and offering its fragrance to the world.

And that’s Adriel. Less than ideal conditions in her life have not stopped her from blooming, from offering her gifts, her beauty and her heart to the world. I am so grateful for the many surprises and great joys that have flowed into my life, since the day I discovered I was expecting another child. I continue to learn from her.

Adriel, my youngest child, the one who perseveres and doesn’t give up, I am excited to see where your journey takes you. I’ll be watching, and cheering for you, and surrounding you with love.

Becoming Elissa…

Today my older daughter celebrated a birthday. This is my fourth year of blogging and although I wished Elissa a Happy Birthday through text, Facebook and in person, I wasn't going to do a birthday blog post this year, since I've done several in the years past.

So this is not a birthday post. This is a post about Elissa, that happens to be on her birthday.

As I left the house this morning to go show property, my thoughts were on my daughter, my firstborn. Memories flipped through my consciousness, like a movie of her life. She's always had a will and mind of her own, even as an infant. She hated to sleep, preferring instead to look around and study everything. Her petite size led people to believe she was younger than her actual age. They were shocked when she piped up in her high voice and spoke of things way beyond her years. She was, and still is, an old soul.

I have learned so much from Elissa. She taught me about being a mother and loving unconditionally. Because her personality is very different from mine, she expanded my perspectives, shattered old beliefs, and challenged me to grow. Elissa loves horses. Watching her as a teen, as she worked with yearlings, helped me to see that raising children was less about control and discipline and more about seeing the gifts a child is born with and creating an encouraging and supportive environment to develop in.

As my daughter entered adulthood, life presented both blessings and challenges, as it does for all of us. My bright, artistic, strong, empathic daughter feels the pains and griefs of the world keenly. She is a very real person in a very false society, to paraphrase a treasured children's story. My regret, as her mom, is that years ago, I didn't know how to listen deeply enough to the story Elissa was trying to tell me, through her words and her silences, her actions and her own pain.

She continued to grow and strive and seek. I learned to hear with different ears and a bigger perspective. I learned it was okay to struggle to find your place in the world. Elissa's survival skills turned into thriving and then peace and an acceptance of her own courageous heart. She is still learning how to offer out of that heart. I am proud to be a witness to her life.

Elissa has a good man who journeys with her and each of them brought a son into their blended family. My child has raised a child. And in watching my daughter be a parent, I have seen grace and deep love and openness and sacrifice. Next week my daughter will escort her son to a university several hours away, and drive home without him. Her tender tears and strong determination to launch him successfully onto his own path touches my own heart deeply.

Recently my 18 year grandson made public that he is bisexual. I am so proud of him for his openness and his desire to live authentically as the person he is. Elissa has raised her son to speak his mind and offer his heart. He is fearless. He is the future. As the time draws near for Dayan to leave for college, Elissa got a couple of tattoos, one on each of her forearms. One is the Italian phrase cogli l'attimo…pick up this moment…hold this moment. The other is a series of dots, rainbow dots, in honor of her son. She said if Dayan could be brave enough to live his story transparently, she could be courageous enough to wear the rainbow on her arm, for him. What love.

As I neared my destination this morning, I considered what tattoo I would get, in honor of my daughter and her story. I am not going to get an actual tattoo, not at this time, but I asked aloud, in the empty car, What symbol would be perfect for Elissa? Immediately the Velveteen Rabbit came to mind. Elissa loves this story of the stuffed rabbit who becomes real through the love of his boy. The rabbit becomes a bit tattered with the joys and pains of life and love. But he becomes Real. Authentic. He Becomes. He is. And he learns once you become Real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.

Elissa has become Real. My love, her dad's love, her sister's and her brother's, her whole family's love, her husband's and stepson's love…all have contributed to her becoming. Like the Rabbit's boy and his fierce love, her boy's love, that full of trust, unconditional, straight from a child's heart kind of love, opened a space around her and within her, so that she could become Real…so she could become fully Elissa.

I drew the Velveteen Rabbit for Elissa, with his scruffy fur and his soulful eyes and his hint of a smile, on his way to becoming Real. I inked him in and colored him with my pencils. He reminds me of Elissa's courage and her great mind and greater heart. He reminds me of her love for her sons and her husband and her family. And the Velveteen Rabbit reminds me of Elissa's love for me.

"When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with but REALLY loves you, you become Real." The Velveteen Rabbit

Elissa, my child, my firstborn, the one whose birth on this date years ago made me a mom, has helped me to become Real too. My love overflows.

Happy Birthday Aunt June

This afternoon, members on the Lauderdale side of my family gathered to celebrate my Aunt June. She recently turned 82 years old. For the past five years, today’s party has been a joint celebration for Aunt June and her older brother, Rex, who both had July birthdays. Sadly, my uncle passed away earlier this year, making this afternoon’s gathering more poignant and even more precious. 

Happy Birthday Aunt June
My aunt is, in fact, the last surviving sibling in her family that at one time included my father and her twin sister, Jean. They were the six Lauderdales, children of my grandparents Dennis and Grace. One sister died in a tragic accident, as a toddler. I don’t think the family ever quite recovered from little Margaret’s death. My grandmother could not speak of her youngest child and my uncle always referred to her as “poor little feller”. My father was deeply impacted by the loss of his baby sister and carried a misplaced sense of guilt over her death his entire life. 

There was no sadness in my aunt today however, as we loved on her and sang happy birthday. This kind and sweet woman lives very much in the present moment. With age, her recent memories have begun to slip away or get tangled in her mind. And yet her spirit remains bright and pure, like a child’s. She is gracious and grateful, responding to affection with sweet hugs and kisses. 

Happy Birthday Aunt June
Happy Birthday Aunt June
I appreciate her children, my cousins Pam and Alan, continuing what has become a treasured family tradition. We decided years ago, as we gathered at another family member’s funeral to say goodbye, that we needed to honor the living while they yet lived. 

I am so glad that we put actions with that intention. Saying goodbye to Uncle Rex a few months ago, there were no regrets, no we should haves. I hope we have Aunt June here with us for many more years, to love and honor and celebrate. She is our beautiful Lauderdale matriarch. Her very presence inspires me to seize each moment and live it fully. 

Happy birthday, dear one. I love you! 

Happy Birthday Aunt June

Joey’s Birthday Lunch

My grandson Joey turned 11 years old Thursday. I have the tradition of taking each of my grandchildren out for a birthday lunch or dinner and shopping, just the two of us. More correctly, I give each child an allotted amount of money that he or she can spend, or save. It is always their choice. 

Today I had the joy of taking Joey to lunch and out shopping. He chose Lambert’s Cafe, near Springfield, MO, for his celebratory meal. I picked him up mid morning and off we went on an adventure. 

Joey's Birthday Lunch
I was as excited as Joey about going to Lambert’s. I have heard about this restaurant, famous for their tradition of throwing rolls to diners, since I moved to Joplin in the early 1980s. And yet, I have never visited it before. 

I looked up the history of this fun cafe. It was launched in 1942, in Sikeston, MO, when Earl and Agnes Lambert borrowed $1500 to open their own cafe. The original building was small, seating only 41 diners, but the couple immediately established the custom of serving wholesome meals consisting of vegetables, meats and desserts. 

Joey's Birthday Lunch
Their son, Norman, inadvertently began what is now a tradition. Passing out freshly made rolls in the cafe, he couldn’t get to a customer tucked into a corner. “Just throw the #%@$ thing!” the diner called out. They are still tossing out rolls at Lambert’s, these many years later. 

The cafe near Springfield is the company’s second location. It opened in 1994. Lambert’s is still owned and operated by the family. 

Joey's Birthday Lunch
Joey expressed a concern as we drove to Springfield. Lambert’s is so popular that there is always a wait time. What if we had a two hour wait? Joey had plans with his family later in the evening. We had a limited amount of time. This thoughtful boy googled to find other dining options, if we needed to go to Plan B.  

I silently put our desire to eat at Lambert’s out there as a request of the Divine. I asked for a short wait time so Joey could eat at his first choice for his special lunch. As we arrived at 11:30, I wondered though. The parking lots, all three of them, were full. A crowd of people milled about about outside. We decided to park in good faith, in the lot down the hill from the restaurant, and inquire about the wait time. 

I’m so glad we did. In spite of the crowds, we only had a 30 minute wait time for a booth for two. 

Joey's Birthday Lunch
Joey's Birthday Lunch
What a bustling restaurant we walked into with a party like atmosphere! There are three dining areas, that combined, hold a surprisingly large number of people. Just before we were seated, a party of 35 strolled by us. The interior of the cafe is warm and homey, with lots of wood. Colorful flags hang from the ceilings and metal signs and car license plates adorn the walls. 

We ordered our lunches, chicken tenders for Joey, a vegetable plate for me, and enjoyed people watching and chatting as we waited for our food. My water and Joey’s Dr Pepper arrived in huge containers. That was foreshadowing. Everything is done in a big way at Lambert’s. 

Joey's Birthday Lunch
Joey's Birthday Lunch
Not only are the meal portions very generous, the servers also bring around additional sides called “pass arounds”. Offered in an all you can eat manner, the extras consist of black eyed peas, fried potatoes and onions, fried okra, macaroni and tomatoes, and those famous rolls. It is a lot of food! It is good we were hungry. 

At last a server came into our dining room with a large basket full of hot rolls, fresh from the oven. You raise your hand if you want a roll, and prepare to catch it as the bread is thrown. This was great fun to watch, and difficult to capture well in a photo. Watch a brief video of roll throwing HERE.   

Joey's Birthday Lunch
Joey's Birthday Lunch Tossed roll circled in the pic above. Joey caught it!

We had a great lunch. I love that after sitting across from me initially, Joey asked if he could sit by me. He’s growing up, but he doesn’t mind being close. We talked about so many topics today. Joey is a great conversationalist. He’s polite, kind and thoughtful. I see him beginning to govern himself, monitoring his own speech and behavior, as he takes responsibility for his words and actions. Those are definite signs that this young man is leaving childhood behind. The teen years are rapidly approaching. 

Joey is artistic, creative and loves music, video games and technology. Later in the car he showed me birthday presents he received, demonstrating how his new gadgets for his iphone worked. Driving home, we listened to Ed Sheeran through a new mini speaker he got. 

Joey boxed up his leftovers and we left Lambert’s, extremely happy with our lunch. Our waiter even secured a birthday discount for us, in honor of Joey’s special day. I look forward to a return visit. 

And I look forward to many more such outings with Joey. We stopped by Toys R Us and the Battlefield Mall on our way out of town, so Joey could spend his birthday money. He scored with sale items today, making his money go even further. 

I am so proud of this gracious young man. He expressed gratitude for the lunch and the shopping trip and the time spent together. I felt gratitude too. I am grateful for him and for the incredible joy he brings. Happy birthday, Joey! Thank you for picking out such a fun place to eat. And thank you for being you, so delightfully. I love you!

Joey's Birthday Lunch

Being Weston

Today my great-nephew Weston turned four years old! There will be a family gathering at a Joplin bounce house later this month, with cake and gifts. However, I chose to celebrate this little charmer today. 

Happy Birthday Weston
I started looking up family members’ names during the April birthdays last year. Weston is the last person in my family to have the meaning of his name included in a celebratory post. As a four year old, he wouldn’t be happy about being last in anything! I’m glad he’s too young to realize that he completes this series of posts. 

“Weston, you follow the divine law of love. Charming and magnetic, intuitive and spiritual, you are a people person and enjoy gatherings and celebrations. You will have an eventful and exciting life. Learning new information comes easily for you and you remember what you’ve learned. You have great persistence and do not give up easily on anyone or anything. 

In life you are most content when you are with your family and loved ones. You have a great sense of responsibility and duty and want to provide for those you care about. You are comforting, appreciative and affectionate. To be treated fairly and in turn be fair with others is important to you. Because of your loving nature, you will find great happiness and satisfaction.”

Happy Birthday Weston


The first truth that stood out to me, reading those words about Weston, is that love is at the center of his life. This bright eyed, curly haired boy is so loved. And he so loves others. He has wonderfully supportive and encouraging parents, my nephew Scott and his wife Nicole. And he has an adoring little sister, Lola. His grandmother is my sister Linda. He calls her Gigi and he knows she loves him to Jupiter and back and that she would do anything for him. 

In fact, this boy has a large extended family around him…grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins…who cherish him and walk alongside him, committed to helping Weston learn and grow and have fun. He may not fully realize the depths of the love that surrounds him. But he thrives in that environment. 

Happy Birthday Weston
Happy Birthday Weston
All of this love allows this handsome child to do the things that he does best: Have fun. Figure things out by trying things out. Learn. Grow. Be Weston. 

Being Weston is the most important task he has. I’ve watched Weston this past year, as he moved from being a toddler to being a kid. He likes lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners and power tools and blow dryers…in short, anything that moves and makes noise while it moves. He likes to help, whether it’s in the kitchen or vacuuming the floor for Gigi or helping his papa remodel a bathroom. 

Happy Birthday Weston
Happy Birthday Weston
Weston is very smart, articulating well his ideas and desires. He reasons things out and thinks things through. He is persistent. Just ask his parents or his Gigi. Persistence is a powerful quality to carry though life. Weston has a strong sense of responsibility and the desire to care for others. He wants to make sure everyone is treated fairly. And being four, it is extremely crucial that he feels that same fairness extended toward him. 

Weston exudes charm. And he can be polite even when he is asking you to leave. When his mother told him he couldn’t vacuum at Gigi’s anymore until after I left, he immediately came to me and with a serious look in his big brown eyes, said with great sincerity, “Good bye Yaya”. 

He is affectionate and loves to cuddle. He is learning and growing. He is discovering the world and how he impacts it. He is being Weston. And what an amazing Weston he is. 

Happy Birthday Weston

Happy Birthday Linda

Today is my younger sister’s birthday. Linda’s birth created the bond of sisterhood that has sustained and nurtured us, and later included our baby sister Debbie, throughout our lives. We all have our own families and our circles of friends…and yet my sisters and I have a “got your back and I’ll walk with you through it” kind of love for each other that is fierce. 

Happy Birthday Linda
I looked up my sister’s birth name, Lindel, a name she shared with my paternal grandmother. 

“Lindel, you are a wonderful person, generous and loyal. You tend to over-think things and sometimes worry too much, but you are thoughtful and extremely loving. An original thinker, you are always coming up with brilliant new ideas which others don’t quite understand. Your thoughts can appear to be vague, but this is a misconception. You are usually just off on another plane of thought. You are highly intelligent and articulate, with a gift for communication. You have an intuitive nature and the arts, drama or sciences may draw your interests.

You want to enjoy life, have fun, go places and do things. You are honest and fair, because you know that this is the only way to receive fairness and honesty from other people. Look to your own personal growth, and live a big beautiful life, and others will be drawn to you.” 

Happy Birthday Linda

I see the truth in these words about Linda. She is wonderful, loyal and generous, with what she has and with her time. She cares about others, human kind and animal kind. And she is one of the most loving people that I know. 

Just watch her with her loved ones…her large extended family and her children and grandchildren. She is a supportive and giving mom to her sons Scott and Eric, and her daughter-in-law Nicole, and a wildly fun Gigi to her grandson and three granddaughters. 

Happy Birthday Linda
Happy Birthday Linda

I appreciate Linda’s ability to think big and come up with fresh ideas. She is a free thinker and loves a lively discussion. An encourager and an includer, my sister excels at walking alongside another, offering a listening ear or a sincere hug. 

I especially love the very last sentence in the description about Linda, urging attention to personal growth. 

Linda has just experienced her biggest year yet of personal growth. It is her story to share. However, I am so intensely proud of my sister. She has learned about her heart this past year, and how to focus on what she can offer. Linda found hope in pain and uncovered her own self worth, discovering that the only person she can change is herself.  

Happy Birthday Linda
Happy Birthday Linda
From this place of strength and tenderness, Linda is exploring who she is. It will be an exciting journey for her. And one that will indeed draw others to her. 

Thank you Linda, for being my cheerleader, my confidante and my fellow traveler. I am so looking forward to journeying with you to Ireland, Scotland and England this fall, and through life. Thank you for displaying hope and courage in challenging circumstances and knowing how to have fun. Thank you for sharing your heart and your love so freely. 

Happiest of birthdays Linda, and many more as you live your big, beautiful life. I love you! 

Happy Birthday Linda

London’s Birthday Party¬†

The family gathered this afternoon, to celebrate London Kate Miller, who will be seven years old on Monday. London is my great niece, daughter of my nephew Eric, granddaughter of my sister Linda. 

I call all the younger children in my extended family the “grands”. The kids interact a lot, and consider each other cousins and friends. Linda is Gigi, my sister Debbie is Meem, and I am Yaya to this group of sweethearts, with the exception of little Kaleb, who has always called me by my name. 

London's Birthday Party
I looked up London’s name:

“London, you bring to completion anything that you start. You are generous and like to see returns from your giving. You possess leadership abilities. You are moral, balanced, honest and intellectual, and you may choose a spiritual path through life. You are wise and practical with an appreciation of beauty. You are direct in your communication style, methodical, and believe in law, system and order.

 Keeping the peace is important to you, and you want those you love to live in harmony. You desire to balance your life with those around you and you may feel incomplete without someone to share your love, ideals, wealth or work with. You can be very sensitive and appear a bit shy. You are developing your intuition. Compassion and empathy enable you to nurture others well. 

London's Birthday Party

Such powerful words, for a seven year old. And yet I see London already exhibiting many of those characteristics. She is generous, with strong leadership abilities, honest and direct, with a sense of justice, law and order. 

London is a peacemaker. The eldest of Linda’s grandchildren, she desires harmony among the cousins and helps with one while entertaining another. Watching her, I see how much London already values peace and love within her family. 

London's Birthday Party
London's Birthday Party
This loving child knows how to have fun, too, and that’s what today was about. London kicked off the party by opening presents, expressing gratitude for her gifts, allowing her younger cousins to help open a couple of them. 

London's Birthday Party
London's Birthday Party
Happy birthday was sung…with the large group present, it took a couple of attempts to get us singing in harmony…and London’s cute birthday cake served up. I passed on cake and ice cream, and enjoyed instead the closeness of family, the joy and laughter, as I chatted my way around the room. 

London's Birthday Party
London's Birthday Party
It was a fun afternoon, celebrating this precious girl. No matter what paths she chooses, as she journeys through life, I look forward to watching her continue to grow, in body, in spirit, in wisdom, grace and beauty. I choose to walk beside her, encouraging her along with her parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, sister, brother and cousins, as London offers her compassion, peace and harmony to the world. 

Happy birthday, London. I love you!

London's Birthday Party

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Today is my son’s birthday. He and his family are off on an adventure, celebrating him with a fun weekend. I am celebrating Nate, my middle child, my son, with words and a full and grateful heart. 

Happy Happy Birthday Son
I looked up Nate’s name for his birthday post, using his full name. 

“Nathanael, you have a bright mind and a vivid imagination enabling you to create and offer inspired messages to the world. You enjoy an active life. By nature you are restless, people-oriented, a lover of change, and a seeker of adventures and new thrills. You are bold, independent and curious. You know what you want and understand why you want it.

Dependable, very down-to-earth and well grounded, you have sought meaningful work, a career where you can take pride in what you do and do the best job you are capable of. Your prime desire is to protect and secure your environment, both at home and at work. You do well achieving goals and gaining objectives. You can be very detailed and possess great organizational skills. At times you may appear stubborn and overly critical to others, but your practical approach to life, your creativity, and your productivity make you one of society’s most outstanding members.” 

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

True words that describe Nate well! He does have a bright, inquisitive, imaginative mind. Since boyhood he has lived creatively, drawing, building, using raw materials such as cardboard, paint and a glue gun to create whatever his mind could visualize. The boy was gifted with the ability to birth ideas into reality. The man still enjoys that artistic challenge. 

Nate has known since the age of eight what he wanted to do as an adult, and why. He started down the path of law enforcement at that time and has never wavered from his plan. His desire to “serve and protect” not only applies to his family, it guides him in serving and protecting his community. 

I’ve ridden with my son in his police car as he patrols his city, full of pride for the way he does his job, respecting people, offering assistance, enforcing the law without breaking the spirit of the offender. And I have to admit to delight when my son instructed me, with a grin, to tighten my seatbelt and hold on securely as he flipped on lights and sirens and responded to an urgent call. 

Happy, Happy Birthday Son
Happy, Happy Birthday Son
Nate is an exemplary and outstanding police officer, a sergeant with his department, always learning and growing and training and helping others. And yet where he shines is as a husband and dad, a brother and son. It makes my heart sing when I see this tall, handsome man laughing and playing with his kids or holding his lovely wife’s hand or teasing his sisters. 

He is present with his family, making the time to show up for the kids’ sporting events and awards. Nate knows that his time is the most important gift he can give to Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, and to Megan. They all play games together, take fun trips to Kansas City, Branson and Florida, create projects and go for walks. The time invested reaps smiles and laughter now…and boundless love, respect and appreciation for a lifetime. 


Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Nathanael…Son…thank you for living your dream and showing me that determination and hard work pays off. Thank you for listening to your heart and intuition, along with your mind, and for allowing your creativity outlets through art, music and play.  Thank you for loving so deeply and so well your wife and children, your sisters and parents and the rest of your extended family. Most of all, thank you for the gift of your presence, your time, and your focused attention. Your family flourishes because of your care and devotion. 

Happy, happy birthday Son. I am blessed to be your mom. I love you!

Happy, Happy Birthday Son