Surrender 19: Celebration at El Vaquero

I had a birthday ten days ago, a quiet one spent mostly at home, doing things that I enjoy. The weather was cold and snowy and my family scattered so it was the perfect way to spend the day. Greg and the kids made arrangements for all of us to get together this evening, for a late celebration, at one of my favorite restaurants, El Vaquero. Greg, Elissa, Josh, Dayan, Jonathan, Nathanael, Megan, Adriel and Nate were present.  We missed the three younger grandkids, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey.  


It wasn’t a difficult choice at all to surrender to a family celebration. Nothing brings me greater joy than spending time with my family. What I had to let go of was my concern over the wintry weather that moved into the area late this afternoon. Freezing drizzle was creating slick roads. I gave my adult children the option of rescheduling, especially since two of them live in towns outside of Joplin. But they insisted. The Mother in me cautioned, “Please drive carefully!” The surrendered woman and fun Mom/Yaya in me said “Let’s do it!” 
 Left side of the table: Josh, Nate, Adriel, Elissa

 Right side of the table: Nathanael, Megan, Greg, Dayan, Jonathan

I’m so grateful that the kids remained determined to get together. Apparently other diners stayed home this evening because of the weather. The restaurant was almost empty. Which meant no one minded a large group of chatting, laughing people. Because when we are together, we laugh, a great deal. There are stories to share, pictures on phones to pass around, news to catch up on. I enjoyed sitting back and watching them, my children and their sweethearts, my grandchildren, as they interacted easily with one another with affection and humor. 

I couldn’t be more proud of each of them, or more blessed. And the Mother in me was thankful for each “made it safely home” text. Happy birthday, again, to me! 


Journey 172: Father’s Day and Poldark on First Day of Summer

What do Father’s Day 2015, the BBC series Poldark and the first day of summer all have in common? Not a thing…except that they all fell on today’s date of June 21 and they were all part of my lovely journey today.

summer fathers day poldark nate megan and aubrey

Father’s Day began with surprising my son, Nathanael (Nate to most people), by joining him, his wife Megan and daughter Aubrey at their church this morning. Nathanael’s lovely wife set this surprise up and it was fun to watch my handsome son’s face as their car pulled up next to ours in the church parking lot. I have a silver Toyota Camry. There are lots of cars like mine and Nathanael didn’t think anything of it when they pulled up alongside a silver car. It took a few moments before he saw his dad and I smiling at him from my car. I enjoyed sitting with my son and Megan, singing praise songs, listening to the associate pastor speak this morning. I am so proud of my son. He is a wonderful husband and father, son and brother, police officer and man. Watching him with his wife, seeing him spend time with Aubrey, Oliver and Joey, knowing how he works to serve and protect his community, fills me with joy.

summer fathers day poldark linda nicole and kids

After church, Nathanael, Megan and Aubrey followed us to Golden Corral where we joined my mom and stepdad Walter, sisters Linda and Debbie, niece Nicole and her children Weston and Lola, and Linda’s granddaughter London. Aubrey and London got to sit together and giggle and chat like the best friends/sisters/cousins that they consider themselves to be.

summer fathers day poldark dinner

summer fathers day poldark debbie

It was a lively and fun lunch, with lots of trips through the buffet line. (When you are helping children fill their plates, you really do go through often!) My stepdad is a quiet, wise man who stepped into a ready-made and growing family when he married my mom. I appreciate him and his good nature and giving heart. I am typing this blog and just realized that in the rush to get to the restaurant, I left my stepdad’s Father’s Day card in the car, where it remains! He will not be surprised.

summer fathers day poldark mom and walter

I thought of my dad often today. He stepped into eternity five years ago. I think of him every day, sometimes with a sense of disbelief still that I can’t pick up the phone and call him. I know he is near, just around the corner, just in another room, and that we will be reunited someday. I talk to him often, sense his presence. When I look at my son, I see the strong resemblance between grandfather and grandson, and it reminds me how very near my father is. He is, and will always be, my dad. I believe he is proud of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

dad e

To finish off this beautiful start to summer, this day when sunlight lingered the longest, I enjoyed watching the BBC series Poldark. I have been anticipating purchasing the DVD of this series, which completed its first season in the UK. I didn’t know until recently that the series was going to air in the US, starting tonight! I’ve been so excited. Aidan Turner, who recently portrayed Kili in The Hobbit trilogy, plays Ross Poldark.

summer fathers day poldark aiden turner

Set in the late 1700’s, in Cornwall, England, Poldark is the story of a young man who returns home from the American Revolution to a changed world. His father has died, his family and friends thought he was killed in the war, his home and properties are abandoned and crumbling into ruin, and the woman he thought he would wed, is engaged to marry his cousin. With nothing to lose, Ross Poldark, who is considered a rebel, rolls up his shirt sleeves, assembles a group of friends, tenants and house servants, and begins the huge task of restoring his property and providing for those under his care.


Aidan Turner was amazing, as was the beautiful English countryside and the costuming. Like his fellow actor from The Hobbit, Richard Armitage, Turner has brooding down to an art and he is a joy to watch. I look forward to catching the next seven episodes on Sunday evenings.

What a wonderful day, this trio of special events that merged into one lovely journey. All changes of the seasons should be so perfect! Perhaps, if I view them as such, they all will be.

summer fathers day poldark

Journey 74: Wild, Wild Weston Birthday Party

Westons second birthday eating cupcake

Today my family celebrated the birthday of one of its youngest members. Weston, grandson of my sister Linda, and son of my nephew Scott and his lovely wife Nicole, will be two years old tomorrow. Warm weather created the perfect opportunity to move into Scott and Nicole’s big backyard to play, to laugh, to rejoice over this adorable little boy.

Westons second birthday party

Westons second birthday Kaleb

Rather than a game of poker, Kaleb and I played blocks. I couldn’t stop smiling over his moustache!

Westons second birthday cold drinks

Howdy Ma’am, would you like a cold drink?

Using the theme of Wild, Wild Weston, the house and yard had the feel of the Old West, complete with the bathroom becoming an outhouse and bandanas and moustaches adorning the guests. I loved the Wanted….Reward posters scattered throughout the house, with various cute pics of the birthday boy. I have to say, my eyes filled with tears when I thought about the truth in this clever decoration. Weston was SO wanted by his parents. They waited for this little boy with hearts full of love and hope. When he was born, it was definitely cause for celebration. And joy of joys, Weston now has a baby sister, Lola, who at four months, was an interested onlooker today.

Westons second birthday wanted poster

Westons second birthday Lola and Gigi

Little sister Lola tries out the pony

We feasted on grilled hot dogs with all the fixings, and gathered in the living room to watch Weston open gifts. He was excited about all his new toys, seriously inspecting each item, ready to play long before the last gift was opened. He has the cutest way of saying “thank you” without really moving his lips. It’s more the intonation of the words, the rise and fall of sound that’s just right so that you know that is what he is saying. With his curly red hair, big brown eyes, and impish smile, he could easily be a toddler model. He is content being his mom and dad’s first born, and Gigi’s only grandson among her four grandchildren. I love the way that his eyes take in everything. He’s a thinker who considers carefully and then he takes action. He will be an awesome big brother to Lola.

Westons second birthday opening gifts

Westons second birthday boy

The highlight of Weston’s afternoon was the setting up of the gift from his parents, a mini trampoline, surrounded by a safety net and complete with a swing connected to the side. He joined his dad, uncles, and Papa Roy and “Papa” Greg, happy to be in the middle of the action, testing the frame as the guys began set up. Eventually Weston joined the ladies and the other kids indoors, much to his chagrin, while the guys completed the task. It was not an easy job! We joked about how many men does it take to set up a trampoline. It takes a family, apparently. They did a great job and soon Weston had the honor of being the first jumper. I caught a great pic of him as he bounced, body suspended above the trampoline, smile on his face. I foresee many fun hours spent in the backyard this summer.

Westons second birthday helping

Westons second birthday the guys

Westons second birthday jumping

Go Weston Go!

Meanwhile, the adults sipped cold sodas or iced tea, visited and laughed, and watched some of the older kids play a giant sized Jenga that Jon made. It was such an enjoyable, relaxed afternoon, spent with some of my favorite people on this earth. I am blessed that they also happen to be my family. We sang Happy Birthday as Weston blew out the candles on his strawberry cupcake. Watching him as he had fun, it is hard to believe that a year  ago we celebrated his first birthday as he sat in his highchair. So quickly the time flies. The baby has become the toddler and a big brother. He is already busy showing up as the person he was created to be. It will be a joy to watch him journey. Happy, happy birthday Weston!

Westons second birthday Jenga

Westons second birthday London jumps

London jumps on the trampoline

Westons second birthday blowing out candle

Day 313: Aubrey’s Party at Roller City

Aubreys birthday party presents

Today, at last, we got to celebrate Aubrey’s birthday, by having fun at Roller City, the skating rink located at 2800 E 24th Street, in Joplin. I shared special thoughts about Aubrey, on her actual birthday, on Day 304. Today’s blog post highlights the festivities my family shared in as we gathered to eat cake with the birthday girl and watch her open presents. Most of the family was able to be there, and when we gather, we have fun! I’ll let the pictures tell the story today. And as a special treat, I’ll conclude with a video of the young men in the family competing during a skating race. We cheered them all on…and no one fell down!

Happy, happy birthday Aubrey! We all love you so much!

Aubreys birthday party Ethan  Aubreys birthday party Eric and London

Ethan                                          Eric and London

Aubreys birthday party cousins

Cousins…Aubrey, London and Kaleb

Aubreys birthday party Joey and Oliver  Aubreys birthay party Jon Ashley and Joey

Joey, Karleigh and Oliver                                       Jon, Joey, and Ashley

Aubreys birthday party guests

Elissa, Nate, Adriel, Charlotte and Jeff

   Aubreys birthday party guests 2  Aubreys birthday party Nate and Megan 2

          Debbie, Pat, Linda, Kaleb, London                     Nate and Megan

Aubreys birthday party cousins 2

Sturdy “walkers” to help the younger skaters stay on their feet!

Aubreys birthday party cake

Happy birthday, Aubrey!  With London and Karleigh

Aubreys birthday party helpers Aubreys birthday party birthday girl 3

Adriel and Tara                                                  London and Aubrey

Aubreys birthday party Rhett Aubreys birthday party Eiler

Rhett                                                                 Eiler

Aubreys birthday party opening presents Aubreys birthday party birthday girl 2

Opening presents

Aubreys birthday party spotlight

In the spotlight, with other kids celebrating today!

Aubreys birthday party sweet Aubrey

Getting so grown up.

A little fun competition!

Day 75: Celebrate Weston’s First Birthday


One of the things my family does well, is celebrate! We love a reason to gather and have fun. And, we especially enjoy the opportunity to gather for the birthdays of the children in the family. Today’s first was a double first! Today, Weston Miller, my great nephew, had his first birthday party and I had the privilege of being there to sing and clap and watch him celebrate, for my first.

Weston is my sister Linda’s grandson, and son of my nephew Scott and his lovely wife, Nicole. Weston was hoped for and prayed for and planned for, for a very long time before he made his entrance into the world and into our lives. All children are precious. When you have waited for years to hold the child that you’ve longed for, he is a treasure beyond compare. His mommy and daddy are such great parents. I’ve watched them with their baby boy this past year and I’m so proud of them. Weston will grow up knowing he is cherished. Add to that the adoration of his Gigi and Papa, great grandmothers and an assortment of aunts, uncles and cousins, and this boy is well loved indeed.

That was very evident this weekend as party preparations got underway! Nicole brought together a variety of ideas around a Little Monsters birthday party, carrying forward the theme from Weston’s baby shower. Nicole is one clever young woman! Linda’s living room was transformed into a party room boasting bright colors and fun, playful decorations. Little monsters were strewn about the room. Pictures on the walls were covered with colorful plastic table cloths and large eyes attached. The food was both nutritious and delightful and covered with googly eyes. One of my favorite decorations was the banner of 13 flags stretched across the French doors. The first flag had a picture of the newborn Weston, and each flag after had a pic of him as he aged, month by month. The final flag had today’s 12 month picture attached.

Weston thoroughly enjoyed his day. An adorable boy with curly red hair and big brown eyes, he easily accepted being the center of attention today. And when he grew tired, with two presents still to open, his wise mom and dad called a break to the festivities and let Weston be himself, which is an inquisitive, bright boy intent on exploring his world. Weston studies people and objects with a serious, intelligent gaze, and when he smiles, we all smile with him. It will be a joy to watch him learn and grow and become the person he is meant to be. For this day, he is one, and on the verge of walking and talking and figuring out who we all are! And that’s absolutely perfect. Happy, happy birthday, dear Weston!