Happy Birthday Josh

Today is the birthday of my son-in-law Josh. Married to my older daughter, Elissa, Josh officially joined our family a couple of years ago, when these two first borns said I do during their November wedding. However, I’ve known Josh his entire life. I was thrilled by Elissa’s and Josh’s union, and also by the journey of the Adams and the Moores, beyond friendship to family. 

Happy Birthday Josh
Celebrating my son-in-law, I am happy for the opportunity to look up his name. I began this practice as part of the birthday blog posts last April, missing the family members born in January, February and March. 

“Joshua, you are honest, benevolent, brilliant and often inventive. You are courageous, honest, determined, original and creative. You have leadership characteristics, especially when you feel passionately about a cause. Sometimes you do not care to finish what you start, or may leave details to others. You do well in positions of authority, and prosper when you take charge. You are dependable, methodical and believe in law, system and order.

You look for opportunities to achieve financial and emotional security for yourself and others. You are a peacemaker. You understand the law of harmony and desire balance in your life and with those around you. You may feel incomplete without someone to share your love, ideals, wealth or work with. You can be sensitive and may appear a bit reserved to those who don’t know you well. You have developed intuition, patience and the ability to nurture others. Contentment is yours as you accept who you are and live in harmonious relationships with others.” 

Happy Birthday Josh

Happy Birthday Josh

I recognize and appreciate these characteristics about Josh. He has an amazing heart, full of patience, kindness and love for others. He is a wonderful husband to Elissa, and a fun and attentive dad to Jonathan and Dayan. Family is important to him, and his quiet wisdom and strength are vital. 

In this past year, he has stepped into a leadership role, and an entrepreneurial one, starting his own pest control company. He is diligent, and methodical, about building his business and offering exceptional customer service. 

Happy Birthday Josh

Happy Birthday Josh

Josh is most definitely a peacemaker. He listens. He offers sincere and heartfelt advice after considering options. I believe Josh does desire harmony with others and seeks benevolent ways to accomplish that in all of his relationships…with his wife and family, with friends, and with clients. Josh is the kind of person whose presence brings peace and the sense that all is well. 

His steady and consistent nature includes a delightful sense of humor. Josh knows how to have fun and laughs easily. I love watching my children and grandchildren interact. Josh is typically there in the midst of them, joking or striking a humorous pose.

Happy Birthday Josh
Happy Birthday Josh

Thank you, Josh, for all that you contribute to our family…for showing such love and devotion to Elissa, Jonathan and Dayan…for giving so selflessly from your heart. Thank you for joining in wholeheartedly at family gatherings and getting your license so you could officiate at Adriel and Nate’s wedding and being a peacemaker. Thank you for listening and sharing and going above and beyond in carrying out your responsibilities to your family. Thank you for making us laugh. 

I am grateful for you, who you are and who you are becoming. Happy birthday, Josh! I love you. 

Happy Birthday Josh

Journey 290: Maple Leaf Parade

What a fun morning, jump started by a big parade! The air was crisp with a definite fall chill to it and the sun not quite up when I headed east to Carthage, MO. This is the 49th Maple Leaf Festival, held annually in this beautiful Ozark town. The highlight of the festival is the Maple Leaf Parade, touted as the largest in southwest Missouri. 

I marched in this parade while in high school, with the Mustang Marching Band, and more recently walked the route as a realtor. Now I enjoy watching from the sidelines. And today was a special event. Four of my five grandchildren were in the parade. And my son Nate, a police officer with Carthage PD, led off the parade with the Honor Guard. Daughter Elissa, son-in-law Josh, grandson Jonathan and daughter-in-law Megan sat with me on the west side of the square. Greg joined us just as the parade was starting. 

Here are highlights of the parade, captured in photos:

 

Elissa and Jonathan

 Jonathan sporting his Link costume. 

 

Josh

 Megan and Nate

 

Megan and me

 Nate was in charge of the Honor Guard, which led off the parade

 

 One of the winners in the float category

  

This dog, wearing a hat, cracked me up. He seemed to enjoy all the attention. 

 Grandsons Joey and Oliver, with Tiger Football

 

Lots of scary floats, advertising local haunted houses for Halloween

   The Flip Shop with their trampoline on wheels

  

Grandson Dayan with the Carl Junction Marching Band, which sounded great! There were lots of bands in the parade, as there is a band competition in the afternoon. Carl Junction was awarded first place in the parade! Latest update is that they are in the finals for the afternoon marching band competition. 

 

 

 Granddaughter Aubrey, and her mom Brittany, Nana Shelby and brother AJ, with the Donate Life float. Aubrey’s Nana is a liver transplant recipient, celebrating her 6th anniversary! 

 

One never knows where a kilted man will show up!

 Or Darth Vader 😃

 

This guy was cool!

 The crowd pleasing Dancing Cobras from Springfield MO

 

Horses and mules signal the end of the parade, with the city street sweepers behind, for obvious reasons! 139 units passed by…bands, floats, businesses and organizations. 

I enjoyed the morning immensely, sitting with family, watching for grandkids in the parade, smiling as I watched my son carry out his responsibilities with dignity and ease. On the way home I found myself humming the song “I Love a Parade”, so I looked the words up. The lyrics are a fitting conclusion to this blog post. 

I love a parade, the tramping of feet,

I love every beat I hear of a drum.

I love a parade, when I hear a band

I just want to stand and cheer as they come.

Yes! 

 
   
  

Journey 194: Italian Dinner

What to do when the restaurant I intended to try, and write about in my blog, happens to be closed? Daughter Elissa and her husband Josh, and Greg and I arranged to meet at a new restaurant in town, Joe’s Italian Grill. We discovered when we pulled into the parking lot that Monday is the only day Joe’s is closed.

  
What to do? We took the party to Olive Garden, since our appetites were whetted for chicken parmigiana and fresh, crusty bread. Last year I learned to go with the flow. If a planned first failed to come together, another first always appeared and it was always the perfect activity.  

My journeys this year have been the same. I don’t sweat it. I just open to other possibilities. In the spirit of adventure, I tried something new at Olive Garden, rather than dining on my usual Seafood Alfredo. 

  
I’ve never created my own Tour of Italy platter before. I chose eggplant parmigiana, fettuccine alfredo and cheese ravioli for my “tour”. Josh and Elissa created a Tour of Italy also that  they shared, leaving room, as Elissa mused, for dessert! Greg had chicken parmigiana. We shared a big bowl of salad and a basket of fresh breadsticks. 

We will all gather at Joe’s another time for a meal. Tonight we dined well. Primarily , we talked and listened and laughed. It was good to catch up on news and tell stories. That’s the real joy in sharing a meal. And the dessert did turn out to be pretty awesome! 

  

Journey 16: Family Friday

family dinner quote

If I described today’s journey in one word, it would be FAMILY. A week ago today, I had a birthday. I got to see a few family members throughout that day and Greg and I enjoyed Keltic Knot at the Woodshed in Carthage, a real treat for me. With the varied schedules among my adult children and their kids, it was a whole week before we could gather for a meal. Today was a Family Friday.

I spent a portion of the day with two family members who are very dear to me. Harry and I accomplished so much today and enjoyed chatting in between our many errands. Those interesting talks in the car as we drove to various appointments were priceless. Such an amazing young man. I got to love on Jeff too, giving him a hug and sharing lunch together. Jeff is a sweetheart. A grown man with a boy’s heart and enthusiasm, his way of looking at life and enjoying the moment teaches me to do the same. When Harry and I returned late this afternoon from our last appointment, Jeff greeted us and wanted to know where we had been. I loved how he studied us, determining whether we had been off having fun without him, even after Harry assured him we had NOT been having fun. Harry is so compassionate and so very good with his uncle. Watching them together warms my heart.

family dinner Jeff, Mindy and Harry

Because I failed to snap a pic this afternoon, “borrowing” one of Mindy’s fb pics.           
Harry, Jeff, Mindy

This evening I joined all of my children and all of my grandchildren for dinner at El Vaquero on Main Street in Joplin. This is a rare enough occurrence, having everyone present, that it qualifies as a high celebration! Greg, my mom and stepdad, and my sister Linda made us a lively party of 16. That created a bit of a dilemma for the staff at my favorite Mexican food restaurant as they sought to seat us. They found two oversized booths close together and we divided up. Greg joined the adult children and their spouses and significant other, and I gathered the grandchildren to me, along with Linda, Mom and Walter. We declared our table the fun table, and indeed, it was! (Although hearing laughter ringing out from table 2, I did peek over and they appeared to be having a grand time as well!)

family dinner side one

family dinner side two

Table One: Jonathan, Joey, Cindy, Aubrey, Linda

Walter, Mom, Dayan, Oliver

I have five grandchildren, ages 15, 9, 8, 7, and 6. Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, who is the youngest, and the only girl. They are each unique and gifted and precious in their own ways and I enjoyed talking to all of them and listening to their stories. Dayan could easily have joined the adult table, but I’m so glad he sat with us. The conversation was animated, and not just because of the kids. Linda and Mom joined right in. Poor Walter rarely got a word in, but he smiled and he won the cool hat award.  And I learned a new tech tip. Dayan taught me how to use the pano button in my iPhone for taking wide angle pictures.

I am so grateful for my family. Grateful for Harry and Jeff. Grateful for Elissa, Josh, Dayan and Jonathan….Nathanael, Megan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey…Adriel and Nate. Grateful for Greg, Mom, Walter and Linda. Each juggled their schedule around or made some effort to be present with me today and this evening. I couldn’t ask for a better family. I couldn’t feel more loved!

family dinner table two side one e

family dinner table two side two

Table Two: Greg, Elissa, Adriel, Nate

Josh, Megan, Nathanael

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

Jonathan

(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!

Day 332: Elissa and Josh Get Married

Elissa and Josh wedding Dayan and Jonathan

What a beautiful day for a wedding, and for a first. How lovely that the two were combined as my elder daughter, Elissa, married her beau, Josh. In a charming little chapel, with family present, these two long time friends and more recent sweethearts, pledged to love and cherish each other.

The story of Elissa and Josh goes way back. Back, even, before they were born. Elissa’s dad Greg, and Josh’s dad Mike, were friends as young boys in a tiny town in southwest Missouri. I met Josh’s parents shortly after Mike married Debi. After Greg and I married and moved to Joplin, we discovered Mike and Debi lived in nearby Pittsburg, KS. We met frequently, as our families grew, and the kids played together. Josh was their eldest and Elissa ours. They have known each other all their lives. Both grew up and married someone else, each having a wonderful son as a result of their first marriages, and they stayed in touch over the years.

Elissa and Josh wedding Dayan

It seemed a natural pairing when they reconnected after their first marriages ended. Neither was in a hurry to marry again and they spent time being friends first and then so much more. Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed watching Elissa and Josh grow, as individuals and as a couple, encouraging each other, supporting each other, loving each other. They recently spoke of getting married next October. But, as Harry says to Sally, in the delightful movie When Harry Met Sally, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.” With the upcoming holidays and the threat of bad weather making travel between Joplin MO and Pittsburg KS more treacherous, Josh wondered, why wait? And Elissa agreed!

Today was such a joyous occasion. The ceremony was simple, classy, family oriented. Elissa’s 15 year old son Dayan walked her down the aisle and gave her away. He stood tall by her side, while Josh’s 9 year old son Jonathan stood proudly by his dad. What a sweet symbol of unity, seeing the four of them together at the front of the church, a beautiful blending of two families. There was no rehearsal, just life unfolding. We smiled when Elissa handed her flower bouquet to a slightly startled Dayan, as she and Josh exchanged rings. And laughed when Jonathan peered around his dad to watch him kiss his gorgeous bride. The ceremony concluded and Jonathan threw both arms upward in an excited expression of victory!

Elissa and Josh wedding

The wedding party and guests moved to the beautiful old Stillwell Hotel in downtown Pittsburg. Tables were arranged around the ballroom, their tops covered with cream tablecloths. Bud vases filled with fresh baby’s breath, white votive candles and hearts cut from vintage looking newspaper made attractive centerpieces for each table. There was a delicious dessert bar with two small wedding cakes, one with chocolate cake, one with vanilla. Family members contributed home-made desserts such as chocolate meringue pie, cupcakes, snickerdoodle cookies and fresh peach cobbler. The table was so cute, with burlap covered vases filled with more baby’s breath, hand lettered signs for each treat, a burlap covered letter A, and a lace cloth. I enjoyed the reception so, and forgot to get a picture of the table! We all watched, with teary eyes as Elissa and Josh slowly moved through their first dance together as husband and wife. And cheered and clapped for the children in the room who danced with uninhibited joy. Josh’s sister, sisters-in-law, mom and grandmother made the reception very special and one of Josh’s brothers snapped pictures, capturing moments and turning them into memories.

Elissa and Josh wedding dance

What a heart-warming afternoon of firsts, seeing my girl marry her man, officially welcoming a new son and a new grandson, and joining with the Adam family after almost a lifetime of knowing Mike and Debi. Someone once told me that when two people marry, it isn’t just a man joining with a woman, it is two families that join. I am thrilled to be so aligned with the Adam family. May we all live happily ever after!

Elissa and Josh wedding Nate and Adriel

Elissa and Josh wedding I do

Day 263: Jonathan’s Minecraft Birthday

Jonathan birthday Steve and Jonathan

Today’s first was another September birthday celebration, this time for grandson Jonathan. He is the son of Elissa’s significant other, Josh. I already count sweet Jonathan as a grandchild and this was the first time I’ve attended a birthday party in his honor.

Jonathan turned 9 years old today and started the afternoon in a special way….he was baptized. The party was held at Trinity Baptist Church, in Pittsburg, KS. The party attendees met upstairs to be witnesses to this significant event. After a few words, the pastor baptized Jonathan, signifying new life in Christ.

Downstairs, we gathered in the fellowship hall for cake and goodies and joyful celebrating. Jonathan chose a theme based on the popular video game, Minecraft. I’m familiar with this game only because I’ve watched Dayan play. It is based on creating and breaking blocks. You can build structures to protect against monsters, in worlds where everything is square shaped, but there is much room for creative playing and building, and exploration, and there are a variety of resources to help you along your journey.

Jonathan birthday blow out the candles

The decorations were all made by Jonathan’s family members and the room looked so cute! The food matched food resources available in the game, and were labeled so non-gamers knew what was what. There was a Minecraft piñata that the kids enjoyed breaking open and a scene set up for a photo op. The central character in the game is Steve. Dayan graciously dressed up today as Steve, sporting the large blocky head and turquoise shirt. The kids enjoyed having Steve at the party and having their pictures taken with him.

It was Jonathan’s day, and he had a fun afternoon. From blowing out candles to eating cake to opening presents, he was surrounded by other children, and loving adults, who allowed him to shine in the spotlight. Jonathan is a cute, good natured, smart young man, who loves music and computers and gaming. At the age of nine, he already has an idea for a game app of his own and has spent time planning and working out the logistics of it. I have no doubt that he will find a way to launch his creation. Jonathan has huge potential in the gaming world, indeed in any field he chooses, and the support of those who love him who will encourage him to keep creating and keep dreaming. I look forward to watching him grow and become all that he is meant to be.

Jonathan birthday gifts e

It was fun too to see Josh’s family. I have known his parents, Jonathan’s Nana and Papa, Debi and Mike, since they were in their late teens. Greg has known Mike, actually, since childhood. When our families were young, Mike and Debi’s children and ours played together often. Elissa and Josh have literally known each other since babyhood. They’ve been close friends for most of their lives. It is wonderful to see them together as a couple, blending their families, and journeying hand in hand. And it was amazing to gather today with Mike and Debi to celebrate a dear grandson’s birthday. Many joy filled years ahead, Jonathan. Thank you for allowing me to be your Yaya.

Jonathan birthday with Yaya e