Surrender 140: Happy Birthday Dayan

My oldest grandchild has a birthday today. Dayan’s last day of school yesterday was also his last day being 16. It seems fitting that he embarks on summer vacation as both a high school senior and a 17 year old. He has quite a year ahead. But the past year has been pretty amazing too. 

Dayan accomplished much during his 16th year. As a high school junior with a busy schedule, he devoted his time to the activities that he most enjoyed. He continued in band, as a Section Leader, performing in marching band, Honor Band and the Wind Ensemble. I am always inspired after attending Dayan’s concerts. 

Dayan and the Academic Bowl Team took their school to the state competition, for the first time ever. He also competed with the Debate Team. While these are fun extracurricular events for my intelligent grandson, they are also preparing him for the future, teaching him to think quickly, present an idea and speak well.  Dayan completed his junior year with an induction into National Honor Society, as an officer. 

The Academic Bowl Team

As soon as he got his drivers permit, Dayan became my chauffeur. Anytime we were together and needed to go somewhere, I handed over my keys. It was great practice for him, and he passed his driving test with ease, receiving his driver’s license. For me, I not only appreciated being a passenger, I valued the conversations we had as he confidently drove us around. Dayan is a great conversationalist and deeply insightful. So often he knows just what to say to me or how to offer a fresh perspective. 

He passed the driving exam! 

Dayan has been wonderful to accompany me on many of my adventures this past year, a willing companion for fun and experiencing new things. He introduced me to the British TV series, Doctor Who, and we spent many a pleasant afternoon getting me caught up through eight seasons of past episodes. I came to love this show about a Timelord and his companions. Even more, I enjoyed discussing the episodes with Dayan afterwards. 

Together, we set the intention of meeting actors David Tennant or Matt Smith, who played the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, respectively, should they ever attend a Comic Con in our area. In early April that intention became a reality, after an extraordinary series of synchronicities brought BOTH actors to Wizard Comic Con in St Louis, MO. What an amazing day, walking the convention floor, listening to panel discussions, getting photos and autographs, and meeting these two charming and gracious men. I will never forget that day or seeing the grin on Dayan’s face as he stood between the Doctors. 

As much fun as I’ve had with my grandson, as much as I cherish our heart-felt discussions, the thing I have marveled at the most this past year with Dayan, is how much he has grown, in all areas of his life. I’ve watched the boy become a young man. He has learned so much about himself…who he is, what his gifts are and what paths into the world are open to him. Always drawn to geography, world history and world cultures, Dayan has turned his focus toward a career in politics, political analysis or being an ambassador. I fully anticipate that Dayan A. Reynolds will be a US or world leader. I look forward to visiting him in Washington DC someday, or further abroad.

Dayan is an awesome son and brother, grandson and cousin. 

I looked up Dayan’s name, as I’ve been doing for other family members on their birthdays. I was astounded. 

Dayan, you are strong in material matters, determined and stubborn. You have good business abilities. You are a good worker, steady and practical, a builder who takes responsibility well. These qualities may bring you a position of authority and power. You are a doer, down-to-earth, serious-minded, reliable, and self-disciplined and have good powers of concentration. You are bold, independent, inquisitive and interested in research. You know what you want and why you want it.

You desire to inspire and lead, to control other’s affairs. You are giving, courageous and bold, action oriented, energetic and strong willed. You want to make a difference in the world, and this attitude often attracts you to cultural interests, politics, social issues, and the cultivation of your creative talents.

These words SO capture who my grandson is. He does know what he wants and what his why is. He does desire to inspire and lead. He definitely will make a difference in the world, governed by courage and compassion, boldness and conviction. 

He’s made a difference already, just by being his unique and authentic self. He makes a difference in my life and the lives of others. Happy birthday Dayan! I love you!

Surrender 137: Happy Birthday Bryan

In my family, May is a big month for birthdays, providing ample opportunities for celebrations. Today the person I’m happy to honor is my brother, Bryan. When my dad and stepmom announced they were expecting, I fervently hoped for a baby brother. I had two wonderful sisters. It was time to have a boy in the family. I held my breath, listening to my dad on the phone after the baby’s birth. The announcement came…it’s a boy! Curtis Bryan Lauderdale had arrived. 

I am 14 years older than my brother. My sisters are 12 and 8 years older than Bryan, respectively. Born into a family of girls, this boy never lacked for arms to carry him and cuddle him, or for someone to “play me toys” in his room. We doted on him, and happily so. He was adorable and good natured, then and now. 

I have never lived with my brother, except for the long lazy summers while on school break. Until I married, I spent at least a part of each summer with my dad. And even after I had children of my own, my kids and I would spend a week with Dad and my stepmom Jerri, and Bryan. Those summers were when I made up for the time we spent apart, and got to know my brother. As he grew into a young man, I had the opportunity to see his strengths.  He’s smart and funny, a great communicator, affectionate, with a bright, optimistic outlook on life. He still calls me Sister, which I love. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard him call me by my name. 

Participating in the Color Run, with son Fox. 

Looking up Bryan’s name I found this: 

Bryan, you can go to great heights and equally great depths. You can be emotional, yet solid in your opinions. You are hospitable, sentimental, often psychic, sometimes moody. You are ruled by love or the lack of it, and feel a need to be encouraged and appreciated. You are inventive, intuitive and methodical. Since your will is so strong, you can be hard to convince. You also dislike advice. You love beauty and philosophy, and you desire achievement. You have a strong need for freedom – physical, mental and spiritual.

You find the best contentment in life when you own your own home and provide well for your family and loved ones. You have a great sense of responsibility and duty. You are comforting, appreciative and affectionate.

Those words describe well the man that my brother has become. He is hospitable, which to me means more than welcoming someone into his home. He’s open, welcoming others into his presence, into his life. He’s like my dad that way. Bryan does appreciate beauty and the arts, frequenting plays, musicals, movies and the ballet with his lovely wife, Christel. He runs in races with his sons and Christel and his mom joins in often too. 

Bryan provides well for his family, in all ways. He loves his wife and enjoys being with her. They share many common interests. And he’s a great dad, fathering his sons with grace and love, leading by example, showing and receiving affection. I’m so proud of the man this baby brother has become. 

Our dad passed away six years ago, journeying down a path we could not yet follow, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. I look at my brother now, and I see my dad in his kind brown eyes, with the spark of mischief, and in the beautiful smile. I know Dad is proud of his boy too, and rightfully so. 

I see the strong family resemblance to my son Nate as well, who looks so much like my dad and brother. When Bryan’s first born, Cade, was a toddler, he often held his arms up to my son at family gatherings, thinking Nate was his dad. I love that not only do these three men share physical characteristics, they also have the same great hearts and share a strong sense of justice and fairness. 

My dad, my brother, my son. 

I’m grateful for Bryan, and this opportunity to celebrate his life and who he is. May we journey together for years yet to come, so that I may continue to discover more and more about him. Happy birthday, Brother! I love you! 

Surrender 135: Happy Birthday Debbie

Today is my younger sister’s birthday. Debbie lives in Oklahoma, and while we see each other frequently, I’m rarely with her to celebrate on this special day. I’m grateful for the inspiration I had to do a blog post for each member of my immediate family, so that for the first time, I can share more about this beautiful soul. 

I was six years old when Deborah Jean Lauderdale was born, and I was literally pacing back and forth in the neighbor’s yard as I awaited news of her birth. Judy was watching me and my other sister, Linda, while my parents were at the hospital, and when she came to the front door, to announce Debbie had been born, the nervousness I felt was replaced with a strong sense of responsibility. I wanted to help watch over this tiny girl, and protect her. I’ve been doing that ever since. 

Apparently I also felt it was sometimes my duty to keep her humble. The youngest, at that time, of three girls, Debbie was an adorable child, and she knew it. She was told so frequently. She learned at an early age that to get what she wanted, she merely had to bat her big brown eyes. She would cuddle up next to my mother, flash her eyes, and say, “Aren’t you glad you’ve got pretty little ole me?” 

Debbie, who once cut her own bangs, always enjoyed a good peanut butter & jelly sandwich! 

Even though Linda and I managed to convince Debbie for a time that she was retarded (I cringe at that now), and my sense of responsibility failed completely, along with my words, when a stunt I convinced my little sister to try resulted in a broken arm (it was years before the full story was told), I had to agree. I was glad we had pretty little Debbie. I still am! 

I looked up the name Deborah on the name site I like. 

Deborah you are strong in material matters, determined and stubborn. You have good business abilities. You are a good worker, steady and practical, a builder who takes responsibility well. These qualities may bring you a position of authority and power. You are a doer, down-to-earth, serious-minded, reliable, and self-disciplined. You have good powers of concentration. You are versatile and have the ability to learn easily.

You have the power and ability to chose your own destiny and achieve anything you want in life. You can expand in any direction according to your will and your set of values. You have a passion for justice and belong in a position of authority. You have an inherent courage and the endurance to accomplish “The Impossible Dream”. With power comes responsibility. You hold keys to the material world, but with this gift comes high spiritual responsibility to be fair and true to others. You are philosophical and mature, determined and intense with a desire to endure. 

Debbie’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons. 

I can see my sister’s characteristics in those words. She is reliable and self-disciplined, a hard worker with the ability to learn and retain that knowledge. I’ve never met anyone, except her daughter Ashley, who can recite movie quotes for all occasions like she can. She’s creative. She draws and creates wonderful framed quotes and artwork. And at Halloween time, she and Ashley transform the house they all share into an insane asylum or a haunted hotel. Truly, their themed decorations are incredible works of art. 

The second paragraph connected to Debbie’s name is especially significant. I’ve seen my sister live those words. A few years ago she went back to school, to pursue her dream of working as a legal assistant. She had a perfectly fine job, but her heart wasn’t engaged there. After finishing her courses and receiving her certifications, she found the ideal law office to work for, achieving her dream. I am so proud of her. She never gave up, never wavered in taking the next step. Her “passion for justice” has a place to serve. 

Debbie is fun and playful, with a wicked sense of humor. She loves roller coasters and amusement parks, crime dramas and live musicals, children and animals. She wants to visit Scotland someday. I want to go with her. She’s compassionate and puts actions behind her desire to help others. She joined me this year in Joplin’s Chase the Chill event, hanging scarves in trees for anyone who needed one. She jokes that Eeyore is her spirit animal. Debbie relishes her quirks. 

I treasure my sister. I knew something amazing was happening the day she was born. And honestly, she’s watched over me as much as I have her. She has journeyed along side me, encouraged me, been there at my lowest moments and celebrated my greatest ones with me. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.

Eeyore said, “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

That’s my sister, making all the difference, in the lives of so many people. Happy birthday Debbie! I love you! 

Surrender 79: Weston’s Birthday Party

The family joined together this afternoon to celebrate Weston’s birthday. This adorable little boy, the grandson of my sister Linda, turned three on March 16. He chose to have a Minion/Paw Patrol party theme, and why not? He enjoys both sets of animated characters. That combination made his party as unique as Weston is. 

 I love that this hand crafted minion has hair and eyes that are the same colors as Weston’s!  

Although these birthdays seem to roll around quickly, I can recognize the passing of time by observing the birthday boy. Last year, he was a toddler, leaving babyhood behind. This year, Weston is an active, smart, curiosity driven boy, with the role of toddler being assumed by his younger sister, Lola.  

He knew what this celebration was about this year, and he was eager to get his party underway. Told he had to wait for his daddy to get home from work, before he could open presents, Weston was content to play with his cousins…until his daddy walked through the door. The moment Daddy was home, Weston was selecting his first gift to unwrap. 



I laughed at Weston’s no nonsense approach to opening gifts. He carefully removed all the paper from each present and wasn’t distracted by the cheerful ruckus going on around him. As he tore the paper away from one large gift, his mom asked, with enthusiasm, what he had received. Without pausing in his gift reveal, he held up one hand and said firmly, “Not now, Mom.” It was a polite response meaning, Don’t bother me right now Mom…I’m busy!



I loved what his mom and dad surprised him with. Like many young children, Weston enjoys watching YouTube videos in which small mystery packages are opened, revealing the surprise within to the audience. It sounds strange to adults, but kids love these videos. The mystery packages are often placed in a huge plastic egg and then covered with playdoh. Weston is blessed with parents who understand their child well. He had fun experiencing the egg full of surprises. 




What a special day, celebrating an amazing little boy. Weston is intelligent and wise, playful and mischievous, and a peacekeeper in the making.  If his cousins are being too rambunctious as they play together, it concerns him. He wants his mom to sort the situation out. He has serious brown eyes that perceive deeply. And a dashing cap of riotous red curls. He loves his family. And his family loves him. 

Happy birthday Weston! I love you. 


Surrender 48: Belated Birthday Post for Eric

I wished my nephew Eric a happy birthday on the actual date of his birth, January 12. At that time, early in my new journey for this year, I had not yet made the decision to do a blog post for every family member. By the end of January, as we celebrated Eric’s younger daughter Aralyn, I thought how fun it would be to write a post for each person in my family, on his or her special day. With that decision came the realization that in our sprawling and growing family, I had missed one person already. This is Eric’s birthday post, belated but heart felt nonetheless. 


Eric Mitchell Miller is the younger son of my sister Linda. His birth evened up the grandchildren in the family, giving my mother three granddaughters and three grandsons. 

He may have been the youngest in the family, at that time, however he was always a force to be reckoned with! Eric not only had no problems keeping up with his older brother and his cousins, he wasn’t all that concerned with keeping up with them anyway. As a kid, he was his own unique person, a boy who fearlessly forged his path through life, whether that was doing stunts on the backyard swing set or creating a distinctive fashion statement. Cowboy boots and shorts were always appropriate attire for Eric as a youngster. 

 Eric between his brother Scott and his cousin Nate.  

Eric is still intently following the path of his choosing, as a handsome young man, although it’s been years since I’ve seen him in shorts and cowboy boots. He’s conscientious and loyal, determined and smart, and unafraid to stand firmly for what he deeply believes in. His quiet strength and level head make him an excellent police officer. He serves and protects in the same police department as his cousin. 

Eric has a beautiful wife, Tosh, and two adorable little girls, London and Aralyn. He is unfazed by his household of ladies. Rather, they have captivated his heart, and his desire to love and protect them is evident in his actions. 

My nephew loves music, playing guitar, and attending concerts when he can, of his favorite band. He enjoys order in his life, and yet he also knows how to cut loose and have fun. He loves his job. Most of all, he loves his family. And I love him. The gutsy and independent little boy has grown into a courageous and independent young man. Shine on, nephew. And happy birthday again. 


Surrender 30: Happy Birthday Aralyn

Today family members gathered to celebrate Aralyn Miller, who turned two last Monday. It takes a certain amount of courage, and indeed surrender, to throw open the door of your home and  welcome in a boisterous crowd intent on partying. My nephew Eric and his wife Tosh possess both, and graciously invited us all in. They were marvelous hosts for the special event. 

The birthday girl was pretty in pink, her hair in adorable braids, her outfit matching the party theme of My Little Pony. Aralyn was accepting of having so many people in her home, her bright eyes taking it all in. She wasted no time in requesting cake, officially kicking off the party. 


Cupcakes artfully created the My Little Pony birthday “cake”. After we sang Happy Birthday, Aralyn blew out the candle, with a little help from her mommy. Party goers lined up for a cupcake and a scoop of ice cream, kids settling together on the kitchen floor while adults enjoyed the delicious cake in the living room. Aralyn occupied the dining room, perched like a princess in her chair, creating perfect photo ops as she sampled her birthday treat. 



And then it was right on to opening presents. With encouragement from her big sister, London, and cousin Aubrey, Aralyn revealed her surprises, exclaiming over stuffed unicorns, a bright purse and beaded necklace, and an assortment of toys and cute outfits. She’s inquisitive, this gorgeous girl, and it was fun to watch her toss tissue paper as she delved into gift bags and carefully rip away wrapping paper to uncover the prizes within. She paused at appropriate intervals, flashing a smile as she said “Cheeeeese” for the cameras.




The final gift was a little pink tricycle, which Aralyn immediately tried out. It won’t be long at all before she is pedaling her trike down the sidewalk, as mommy or daddy or sister London trot along behind her. 



I’m an observer of people, learning a great deal about those I study. And watching Aralyn today, as she enjoyed her party, this is what I learned. She is a very bright girl. Although she’s only just turned two years old, she has a keen ability to observe as well, and figure things out. She’s extremely well behaved, a testament to her parents, while still being playful. I laughed as she created a teasing game with her cousin Weston, her little face as mischievous as it was beautiful. 


She’s a thinker, with much going on beneath the surface. I only have to look into her big eyes to sense the depths of her perceptions, which she is just beginning to articulate. After the party, as some of us had dinner together at Applebee’s, she had a conversation with me that showed how well she is able to connect events. When waiters sang Happy Birthday to a diner, and I explained what they were doing, Aralyn related that to her own birthday celebration earlier, and then proceeded to list those who had attended her party. I was impressed! 

What a happy day, and what a special, happy girl. I look forward to watching Aralyn grow,  expanding in knowledge and beauty, never losing that spark of joy and mischief in her eyes. There’s great potential in this girl. As I left the party, I paused to give her a hug and a kiss, as she swung on the porch swing with her Gigi. “Happy birthday, Aralyn,” I whispered. “Happy birthday, Yaya,” she answered back with a smile. She’s polite too! That melted my heart. I love you, little one. 


Journey 333: Happy 1st Birthday Lola

Incredibly, a year has passed, exactly, since we welcomed Lola Maxx Miller to the world and to the family. We gathered today to celebrate this beautiful little girl on the anniversary of her birth. Her daddy, who is my nephew Scott, and mommy, Nicole, and big brother Weston welcomed us all to their home. 


Nicole has a wonderful tradition of carrying over the baby shower theme to the first birthday party. Lola’s shower was a yellow & gray theme. Today there were yellow and gray decorations, including a large sunburst on the wall with monthly photos of Lola capturing her year of growth, and festive cupcakes on yellow and gray plates. 


I realized after I took the pic that the 2nd month photo had fallen off!

And it has been a year of growth and accomplishments. From newborn to toddler, this cheerful little lady has gone from being immobile, yet incredibly strong and alert, to walking, running and keeping up with her brother. She’s always happy. Smiles easily. Flashes her big brown eyes as she wrinkles up her nose. 

She was less interested in opening gifts and more interested in the toys that magically appeared before her, after Weston and Kaleb helped with tearing off paper. 


Seated atop the dining room table, in her little chair, she was like a princess on her miniature throne. She smiled as her family surrounded her, not sure what all the fuss was about. Her mommy lit the single candle on the small birthday cake created just for Lola. As we sang “Happy Birthday” this precious girl brightened up and looked around….until we sang the “….dear Lola…” part. Realizing we were singing to her, she dropped her head, overcome by shyness. It was such an endearing moment. 



Song over, Lola daintily picked at her cake, putting tiny morsels into her mouth with her fingers. Mommy helped her out by providing a fork. That handy utensil not only got more cake into her mouth, it functioned as a great comb too! As she finished her cake, Lola gave into the impulse to rub cake everywhere. It was bath time after that. 



What a special day, celebrating a special girl. Scott and Nicole are an amazing couple, parenting their young son and daughter with love, patience and a good dollop of humor. They work well together as a team, taking turns handling the never ending responsibilities of raising kids.  And they have a wonderfully supportive family who encourages them and steps up to help. I love watching this little family together. 


                                      Big brother Weston.  

Lola is a beautiful child. She was born into a loving family, surrounded by the number 3. I look at her birth date, Day 333 in the year, and remember that 3’s signify a Body, Mind and Spirit connection, the presence of angels, and are connected to the energies of creativity, joy, imagination, kindness, psychic ability, growth and manifestation. Though she be but little, as Shakespeare would say, she is fierce. Not in a mean way. But in her determination. In her joy. In her kindness. Time will reveal her creativity and how powerful her imagination is, how strong her intuition. I know though. I just have to look into those wise eyes. 

Happy birthday Lola Maxx. I love you!



Journey 283: Happy Birthday Jonathan

Today’s journey was to celebrate the birthday of my grandson, Jonathan. This charming, happy boy turned 10 on September 20. The birthday party was held today so that out of town aunts, uncles and cousins could be present. Jonathan chose The Legend of Zelda as his theme, with an emphasis on the character of Link. 


For clarification, and because it is important to Jonathan, Link is a youth in The Legend of Zelda series, of the Hylian race, originating from the fictional land of Hyrule. Link often travels through Hyrule, defeating creatures, evil forces, and the series’ primary antagonist, Ganon, while attempting to save Princess Zelda and Hyrule.

The festivities were held at the Pittsburg Y, and what a great idea that turned out to be! The large gymnasium type room had mats and balance beams, wedges, cubes and cylinders to jump on and climb over, a long trampoline and a foam pit. The pit proved to be very popular with the many children running about, and with adventurous adults as well. 

Filled with bright blue cubes of spongy foam, the pit allowed kids to tumble safely into its depths. The cubes gave as little and not so little bodies made impact, so that the party goers sank as if in water. There was a swinging rope, and the end of the long trampoline culminated at the edge of the pit. Kids and adults alike did flips into the pit, swung out on the rope and dropped, or simply jumped in from the side. 


Jonathan’s Nana, who is also my dear, long time friend, very bravely entered the foam pit with her small granddaughter. Much to the amusement of onlookers, she discovered that it was much more difficult to exit the pit! At last help arrived and Deb, who was extremely good natured about it all, was rescued. Deb is the sweetest of ladies, and blessed with many grandchildren, who adore her. I am grateful that our families have joined, through our children!

Jonathan’s yummy birthday cake was designed to look like a video game controller. So clever. Gaming is one of Jonathan’s passions. He loves trying out new games and currently is enjoying an old favorite, Super Mario Brothers. I watch this boy play, while he patiently explains what he’s doing, because I don’t play these various games well. To his delight, he discovered that I actually used to play some of the Nintendo games. I promised to join him soon and have a try.   

 Jonathan received game related gifts, money, and gift cards as presents today. And a shirt, cap, pointy ears and a sword to create a Link costume. I’m sure he would go to school as Link, if he could. The kids gathered around a Legends of Zelda piñata, one with strings to pull rather than one that has to be hit to break. The kids squealed as candy rained down on them. 

What a fun afternoon. I am beginning to see glimpses of the young man emerging in Jonathan, as he rapidly approaches his teens. He is bright, affectionate, and so talented. I’ve never seen him shy or afraid to try something new. He excels in front of a camera or an audience, singing, dancing, and performing. He has dreams, this boy does, and confidence in his ability to make them reality. Watch for him on YouTube or in movies or on television someday, making his way in the world. I know I’ll be applauding him on. Happy birthday Jonathan! I love you! 


Journey 46: Happy Birthday London Kate

Londons birthday cake

This morning my family gathered to celebrate the birthday of my great niece, London Kate Miller. London, who turns five later in the month, is the oldest grandchild of my sister, Linda. What a happy bunch of us showed up at the Joplin Chuck E Cheese restaurant, which is always a favorite hang out for the kids in my family. Today, the adults joined in as well, making a boisterous group of 28 there to laugh and sing and watch over the kids as they played together. One of the things I love about my family is how my sisters and I get our grandchildren together as often as we can, so that those kids, who are all second cousins, spend as much time together and enjoy each other as much as our children did, growing up. I was thrilled today that most of the family was present, with the exception of my eldest grandson, Dayan, and one of Linda’s granddaughters, Aralyn. Unfortunately, both of Linda’s sons had to work today and couldn’t join us either.

Londons birthday group

London had a princess party at Chuck E Cheese. This specialty pizza place provides a safe environment for kids to run and play and plug tokens into machines, earning tickets. Those tickets are redeemed later for prizes. The boys in the family know how to turn those tokens into a large pile of tickets. However, London and Aubrey have always been more of the opinion that playing and running around is preferred, and if they happen to win a few tickets, that’s good enough for them. The grown up “kids” had just as much fun, adding an element of competition to their playing. The basketball hoops and the skee ball lanes allowed challenges to be thrown out and provided much fun for the rest of us, watching. Young Weston wasn’t quite sure about all the noise, and that giant mouse that occasionally roamed around, but he enjoyed the pizza and played. Baby Lola got passed around for all to admire and coo over. She is adorable and will be joining in on the fun before we know it.

Londons birthday Aubrey and Lola  Londons birthday Weston

At the center of this whirl of activity was the birthday girl. London is a beautiful child, full of bright energy, with big, sparkling blue eyes that can get quite the mischievous glint in them. She is smart, affectionate, playful, and loves to dance, sing and create. And she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask about it or go after it. She enjoys her family and passes out hugs and kisses generously. My granddaughter Aubrey and London have been close since babyhood. These girls think of each other as sisters and best friends. I’m so glad they got to party together today! At Chuck E Cheese the birthday child gets a trip into a wind tunnel, where tickets fly about and can be caught. London invited Aubrey to join her. With their clear goggles on they stood ready. They had fun grabbing at the swirling tickets. This was Aubrey’s second time to be in the tunnel. She learned from past experience to grab and hold the caught tickets close to her chest. She scored a big haul for her cousin!

Londons birthday in the ticket tunnel

Londons birthday opening gifts

What a fun morning. Although I took time to grab a salad, I forgot to eat any pizza. I enjoyed walking around, taking photos, talking to little kids and big kids, and chatting with my mom, sisters, and nieces. I picked out a special gift for London Kate. It is from a line of dolls called Journey Girls. And this particular Journey Girl is blue eyed with light brown hair, just like the birthday girl. She is wearing a frilly purple dress, and her name is London. I hope London Kate enjoys playing with her. I will enjoy watching this bright child as she continues to grow, marveling at her quick wit and her giftedness, her affectionate nature and her soulful eyes. Look out world, this is London Kate! Happy birthday, dear girl.

Londons birthday princess

Day 359: Christmas 2014

christmas 2014 logo

I love Christmas time….the magic of the season, the deeply spiritual meanings, the time spent with family…all bring joy and peace to my heart. This year, in keeping with the theme of new experiences, we had a different type of Christmas.

Oh, we gathered together as a family, and as always, we had a wonderful, cheerful time. For the first time ever, one of my children was not present. She had the opportunity to spend Christmas in Georgia, with her dear friend Nate and his family. And I’m so glad Adriel, who loves tradition, stepped out of her comfort zone, and accepted their invitation. We gathered at her house anyway, Nathanael and Megan, Elissa and Josh with sons Dayan and Jonathan, and my sister Linda. I’m pet sitting for my daughter while she is away and she gave us permission to celebrate in her home, as we have the last couple of years. We had a non-traditional Christmas dinner. Greg picked up a variety of smoked meats from Rib Crib and we had appropriate sides such as baked beans, mustard potato salad, rolls, a veggie tray with ranch dressing, deviled eggs (thanks Megan!) and a relish tray. The meal was finished off with Dutch Apple pie and pecan pie.

christmas 2014 adriel and nate

Nate and Adriel in Georgia

Just as I was missing Adriel, Elissa had the brilliant idea to Facetime her and Nate. We spent a hilarious 10 minutes talking to Adriel and Nate as they peered into the phone. We all waved and chattered and the phone got passed around so we could wish our absent family members a Merry Christmas! I love that technology can keep us closer and I’m so grateful for the ability to see people as we talk, who are miles and miles away. We missed Aubrey, Joey and Oliver, who were spending the evening with their other parents. I’m so glad I got to see them last night and spend a few minutes with them.

christmas 2014 elissa talking to adriel

Elissa on Facetime call with Adriel

After opening presents, which I won’t speak of, since Adriel and Nate have not received theirs yet, we chatted for a while, laughing over stories. Dayan’s recent hilarity at his high school musical is probably the family’s top funny story for the year. Nate shared a recent tale about Aubrey, complete with a picture to illustrate it. I love that our family laughs so much together. I love that we can be so easy and relaxed with each other. Love flows as richly as conversation and storytelling and laughter. I am deeply blessed.

christmas 2014 megan and linda christmas 2014 the guys

Megan and Linda                              Josh, Nathanael, and Dayan

Greg surprised me with special gifts that relate to my word for next year. He gave me a box of chocolate covered cherries, which I have always loved, and have nothing to do with next year. And he gave me a hand lettered sign with the word “journee” on it. He was concerned that I would think he didn’t know how to spell “journey”. I knew immediately the significance of the word. Journee is the Old French word from which we derive our word journey. It literally means “a day’s travel”. This word is from the Latin diumum meaning “daily portion”. I love that. More about my word, theme and symbol for next year on January 1, however, I am thrilled with the sign. He also gave me a gift card to Books A Million with the Dr. Seuss quote, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”  Again, an acknowledgement of my path for next year. I am grateful!

christmas 2014 jonathan e


(forgive the poor quality of my iPhone pic!)

When I was a child, the day after Christmas was the saddest day of the year for me. A whole year to wait until Christmas rolled around again. I no longer feel sad after the holidays. I keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart all year. Each day brings its own gifts and blessings, mine to receive. I am content with the journey, and Christmas will arrive again, at the perfect time.

christmas 2014 gifts

Oh, the places I will go, indeed!