Day 334: Fresh Christmas Wreath


Today’s first was a simple one, and very much a spontaneous moment. The weather was perfect early in the day, reaching the mid 60’s before a cold front moved through, sending the temps plummeting. I decided to go get a Christmas tree while it was still warm. I won’t be decorating the tree for a couple of days, but at least it was pleasant selecting it at Lowe’s Garden Center.

Greg graciously accompanied me with his truck to load the tree in the back. Last year I bought a small Fraser Fir Pine tree and LOVED it. I’ve purchased fresh Douglas Firs for years, usually 6  – 7 feet tall. But last year, wanting to change up the tree decorations a bit, and to conserve space, which is limited in my living room, I bought a shorter, smaller,  Fraser Fir and enjoyed it so much. I embraced my new tradition today and immediately found the perfect tree. As we were headed to the check out, Greg asked me, “Do you want a fresh wreath?” I’ve never had one before. I’d been admiring them at the front of the garden center. I love a fresh Christmas tree because of the way it makes my whole house smell wonderfully woodsy. I have nothing against artificial trees….I just prefer a fresh one for my own enjoyment.

The wreaths smelled just as wonderful. They were crafted from several types of evergreens, including fir trees, and have pinecones and little blue berries on them. When Greg offered to buy one for me, I said yes! I selected a wreath and brought it home. I switched out the fall wreath hanging on the front door for the Christmas one. Every time I enter the house, I inhale the scent and sigh, happily. What a perfectly simple and beautiful first.

Before the weather turned cold, I cleared the front porch of the fall items. That covered area is now ready to be decorated for Christmas. Inside the house, I packed away some of the fall décor and began cleaning. Greg climbed a ladder and handed down boxes of Christmas decorations.

This week I intend to move slowly, from room to room, cleaning, fluffing, and decorating. I don’t want to purchase any new items, but use what I have, in different ways. This year I’ve enjoyed keeping pieces out and moving them to a new location or combining them with different items for a fresh look, as I’ve decorated for each season. So some of the spring items, rather than all going back into storage, transitioned into fall. And those will now appear in my Christmas décor. The bird cages and birds especially will feature in my decorating.

I love this time of year. Partly it is because of Christmas and the way my home looks….so many candles flicker in my house that it raises the temperature on the thermostat! I look forward to time spent with family and friends. I spend time in silent meditation, grateful for the reason for the season and my spiritual journey. Also, December is a transitional month for me and I use this time to reflect on the past year, and release it. And I begin to think about next year and all that will unfold. It is a quiet, refreshing, magical time. I will have much to reflect on, as I finish up this incredible year of firsts. And, I am so excited about the upcoming year. My word, theme and symbol are all coming together, seeking me out, drawing forward into the next adventure. All will be revealed….soon!

Day 333: Welcome Lola Maxx Miller

Lola Maxx

Another beautiful blessing today, for my first. My nephew Scott and his wife Nicole welcomed their baby daughter to their family. They are also the parents of an adorable son, Weston, who just turned 20 months old. Due December 4, Lola knew exactly what she was doing, arriving today. More about that at the end of the blog post.

My family celebrates everything….birthdays, graduations, promotions, holidays, weddings and births. When something significant happens, we are there to rejoice. It is one of the things I love most about my family. So when I heard this morning that Lola’s birth was eminent, I changed today’s plans, which were insignificant, and headed to Broken Arrow, OK, along with Greg and my mom, to meet this new little person.

Lola Maxx with daddy

Lola Maxx Miller was born at 10:43 am, weighing in at 8 lb 1 oz and measuring 20 ½ inches long. She has dark hair and the sweetest, chubbiest cheeks! She is strong and healthy and doing well, as are her mommy and daddy and big brother. I’ve watched Scott and Nicole parent little Weston and they have so impressed me with their combination of practical skills and deep devotion to their child. Weston is well loved and Lola will receive the same care and love. I am so thrilled for them as their little family grows.

Lola Maxx with family

It was precious to watch Weston meet his sister. Not even two yet, it is quite a change for him to move from only child, who never had to compete for a parent’s lap, to being a sibling who must share. This handsome little guy, with his solemn dark eyes and curly red hair was amazing. He was very happy to see his mom and dad, and curious about the baby. He smiled the biggest smile as he leaned over Lola in the bassinet. And he was gentle as he patted her and gave her a tender kiss. Not all toddlers are so accepting. I’m told I slapped my baby sister when my parents brought her home! Weston is already a wonderful big brother. Lola is blessed with him, her parents and grandparents and a host of others who will love her fiercely and protect her just as fiercely.

Lola Maxx meet Weston  Lola Maxx with Weston

As I was beginning this blog post, a thought suddenly struck me that brought goose bumps. My family is used to my strange insights. Part of my growth this year has been moving beyond my comfort zone and sharing them more publicly. Lola was born on Day 333 of the year. I remembered that on August 22 of this year, her mother Nicole asked about the significance of the number 3 and especially 333 and 3334, as she was seeing the numbers frequently. Today, as they were moving mommy and baby Lola to their private room, from the birthing room, the nurses suddenly switched rooms….from Room 332 to Room 333. Amazing. The number 3 has to do with the connection between the Body, Mind and Spirit. It is a Divine number, signifying the presence of angels. And, it carries the energy of creativity, joy, imagination, kindness, psychic ability, growth and manifestation. What a powerful blessing on this beautiful wee girl. She will be a gifted child. I am so honored to welcome her to our family.

Lola Maxx meets Yaya

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 331: Thanksgiving Dinner OUT

Thanksgiving 2014 at GC

Today’s first was about what didn’t happen! For the first time, a small but cheerful group of us, family and friends, ate Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant….Golden Corral in Joplin. Which meant, I didn’t cook today and even better, I didn’t clean up a destroyed kitchen either! I really don’t mind cooking big dinners, especially for family gatherings around the holidays. It was nice, though, this afternoon, to leave the restaurant and not face a mountain of dirty pots, pans and dishes. I actually got to take a wee nap instead, and that was sweet indeed.

My police officer son was on duty today. He and fellow officers had a potluck dinner at the police station and his lovely bride Megan joined him there for dinner. Daughter Elissa spent the day with her fiancé Josh and his family. Tomorrow is a big day for them! With the family dynamics changed, I opted for dinner out. I knew Golden Corral would be open and their buffet would not only have all the traditional fare but many other entrees and sides to choose from.

Thanksgiving 2014 at GC Walter

Our little gathering today included my mom and stepdad, my sister Linda, daughter Adriel, her friend Nate, Greg and Dave. This year I invited others who might want to hang out with us, if they didn’t have any place else to be. Most had somewhere to go, but the invitation went out and everyone was free to join in or not….no obligation! Dave is the awesome Zumba instructor for my mom and me. Over this year he has become a friend and now, he’s practically family. After spending a boisterous couple of hours with us, he knows stuff! He was a welcome addition, as was Nate.

Thanksgiving 2014 at GC mom Dave Linda

I found it fun to be at Golden Corral. I knew it must be an okay place to be when I arrived at 10:45 am and there were lines out both sets of doors. Because our group stood in line together and passed the time chatting and laughing, it didn’t seem to take long before we were being seated. The restaurant was full. It could be said that I had lunch with hundreds of strangers, yet it was a festive atmosphere. I spoke to people in the buffet lines and smiled and discussed the marvelous selection of food. At our table, our group laughed a great deal. Dave and Nate learned some of our family stories and shared some of their own, and discovered that my mom loves Golden Corral fudge!

Thanksgiving 2014 at GC Nate Adriel Greg

It was a great day. Gratitude is so important to me. Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to be reminded of all that I have to be thankful for, and yet I daily choose to make thankfulness the foundation for everything else in my life. It is so much more than living with the “glass half full”, it is an awareness that gratitude for what I have makes what I do have, enough. And it opens the door to so many other wonderful possibilities and opportunities.

One of my favorite quotes is by John Milton and it says, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” I love that. I desire that my heart be so full of gratitude that it can’t be contained, flowing upward, to my Source, the Creator of all, and outward, touching everything and everyone in my world. So be it.

gratitude in your heart

Day 330: Completed Mail Art

Mail Art Dayan and Cindy

Dayan and I completed our Mail Art pieces, in time for me to get them to the post office and in the mail today! The artwork needed to be postmarked by December 1 and we are well ahead of that deadline.

Mail art, also known as correspondence art or postal art, is an artistic movement centered around sending small scale works of art through the postal system. It was created in the 1960’s and continues to flourish on a global scale. American artist Ray Johnson is considered the first mail artist. He developed the New York Correspondence School, a network of mail artists.

Media commonly used in mail art includes postcards, paper, a collage of found objects, letters and numbers, cutouts, stickers, images, rubber stamps, drawings and painted objects….pretty much anything that can be artistically arranged and placed into an envelope to mail. Mail art is officially considered art, once it is dispatched.

By that definition, the art that Dayan and I created became mail art today, as I dropped them off in a padded envelope at the Joplin post office. He and I enjoyed our project, destined for the Post Memorial Art Library, located within the Joplin Public Library. We gathered an assortment of materials and then let our creativity take over.

Dayan’s mail art focuses on maps and travel. He completely covered his oversize postcard with a paper background and affixed letters that declare: “Travel Like Magellan”. I love that! His artwork also includes a globe with a moveable airplane, a compass and a hotair balloon. Dayan definitely has the travel gene that pops up in my family. We have a trip planned to Italy in 2017, after he graduates from high school. What an adventure that will be! His mail art is a beautiful representation of his desire to explore the world.

Mail Art Dayan

My mail art focuses on this year’s word, BEYOND, and my symbol of an empty bird cage. The bird in flight near it represents freedom of spirit. I, too, have the travel gene, and my artwork shows that through the luggage sticker and the signpost with the words, “GO SOME PLACE NEW”. As a hint about what’s to come next year, my new word is also on the postcard. There are three words on there, other than the words on the signpost. I won’t reveal 2015’s word yet. I’ll save that for December, but it is on the card!

I am grateful to Leslie and Jill, from the Post Memorial Art Library, for sharing with me about their upcoming Mail Art Projekt. My grandson and I enjoyed creating art pieces. What a wonderful opportunity to spend time together and to give our creativity expression. We look forward to viewing the Post Mail Art Projekt exhibit in January.

Mail Art Cindy

Day 329: Mockingjay Part 1

Mockingjay Part 1 Banner

Tonight’s first was a viewing of Mockingjay Part 1, the third movie in the Hunger Games saga. In attendance with me were my sister Linda, daughter Elissa, and grandson Dayan. I think everyone except me has also read the books which these movies are based on. Being this far in, I think I’ll wait until the final film releases next year, before reading the books. That way, I’ll be surprised by the ending!

Mockingjay stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julianne Moore. It was directed by Francis Lawrence and is based on the young adult novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. This sci-fi adventure is rated PG-13, for violence, and has a run time of 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Book three in the Hunger Games series, like the Twilight series before it, has been split into two movies. Mockingjay Part 1 recently released with Part 2 to follow late next year. Picking up immediately after the end of last year’s Catching Fire, young heroine Katniss (Lawrence) takes refuge in District 13, located deep beneath the surface of the earth. She shattered the Games, ending them abruptly, and in doing so ignited a desire among the districts for freedom from the Capitol and President Snow (Sutherland). Peeta (Hutcherson) is held captive in the Capitol, along with two other victors. Katniss is reunited with her family and with Gale (Hemsworth), and meets the leader of the rebellion, President Coin (Moore).

President Coin and Katniss’ rescuer, Plutarch Heavensbee (Hoffman), and her old friend and trainer Haymitch (Harrelson) convince Katniss to become the Mockingjay, a symbol of resistance, courage and strength. Propaganda films are created and shown in the other districts to unite them into a rebellion that can overthrow the Capitol. Her candid and fierce appearances on the videos are fanning the flames of freedom while her haunting song, “The Hanging Tree” is sung by the masses as an anthem of hope. President Snow is creating propaganda films of his own, using Peeta to plead publically with Katniss to stand down and end the rebellion. Seeing Peeta being used in such a manner deeply distresses Katniss.

Unable to bear Peeta’s imprisonment, Katniss is ready to give up, when her comrades stage a successful break in and rescue the victors from the Capitol. Katniss’ joy is shortlived when she discovers Peeta’s mind has been altered. Instead of rejoicing over his reunion with his friend and partner in the Games, he tries to kill her. The screen fades to black as Peeta struggles against his restraints in the hospital bed, while President Coin announces to a cheering crowd that the rebellion is underway.

I know some have characterized this movie as slow, since there are no Games carried out in film three. Some have even called it a long trailer setting up Part 2. I liked the movie, though, and enjoyed the character development, and I especially enjoyed watching Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Katniss. She may not be fighting in the Games, but she is struggling to find her way, all the same. Her world is shifting, she is the enemy of a very powerful, vengeful man, and…..she loves two men, Gale and Peeta. If those conflicts weren’t enough to deal with, she is elevated to being the symbol for freedom in the districts. There is a grittiness to Mockingjay Part 1. And scenes with depth and angst in them, as Katniss searches for truth without losing herself, that brought tears to my eyes.

There was also an undercurrent of sadness for me, watching the performance by actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died with one week of filming left. I always appreciated Philip. He was an extremely gifted and versatile actor. Every time he was on the screen tonight, I studied his face, listened carefully to his words, watched him as one whom I will say goodbye to and not see again. He is, however, in the last film. I googled for information to see if Philip’s crucial role would be given to another actor to complete. What I found suggested that he had finished most of his scenes so the character would not be recast. Some scenes were rewritten to remove him from them and computer generation was used to complete his part in the film. Mockingjay Part 1 was dedicated to his memory, in the closing credits.

One more year to wait on this series. One more movie to complete the story. With all the film trilogies and sequels and series I’ve fallen in love with, I’ve gotten rather good at waiting for the next installments. It’s a good thing that I enjoy and appreciate anticipation!

Mockingjay Part 1 Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman with Julianne Moore

Day 328: Christmas Jars

Christmas jars

Today’s first was a simple, fun project. When I was debating what to do this afternoon, among several possibilities, this first was the one that took hold in my mind. I know…it’s not quite Thanksgiving. No, that doesn’t matter to me! I love fall colors and decorating. And, I really love that it transitions to the holidays. I enjoy my Christmas décor so much. The autumn items, rust and gold candles, and pumpkins give way to reds, greens, silvers and touches of blue. My Santa and snowman mug collection comes out. The 60 year old nativity set is placed carefully on a shelf. Lots of candles, mostly creams and whites, replace the spicy scented ones. And my snowmen, miniature trees, and assorted other items get unpacked.

I love the way my house looks during this precious time of year. Every room transforms. And yet, the décor is simple, whimsical. This year, I especially want it to remain simple. I look forward to creating Christmas vignettes in the same vintage pieces I’ve been creating in all year….the old suitcase, the round wooden sieve, Pop’s army trunk. I have plenty of items to decorate with. I don’t intend to buy more stuff, rather I intend to artfully use what I already have, perhaps in new ways. Although I take pictures of the holiday décor each year, in case the following year I pick up an item and think, “Where did I place THIS last year?”, the fun for me is to mix things up, display different pieces together, create something fresh.

Christmas jars dark tree

My project today was one I’ve wanted to do before. Using mason jars, which I keep on hand, I created simple yet pretty Christmas jars. Two of the jars, a large one and a small one, hold plain white votive candles nestled in Epsom salts. The salts are so inexpensive and have fine slightly glittery grains that perfectly imitate snow. Some jars hold tiny Christmas trees with little flecks of fake snow or glitter on them. I found these in the dollhouse section at Hobby Lobby, and they and the little dark tree with the star on top were the only items I purchased, spending less than $6.00. I repurposed a rectangular clear glass vase by adding Epsom Salts and two trees.

Christmas jars grouping

I love my little grouping. When I went shopping for the miniature trees, I had intended to purchase only the green trees. Then I spied the lone dark glittery tree, topped with a star, among pink and purples trees. I felt drawn to the small dark tree. It was 50% off, so I bought it. I really like the way that one looks in the jar.  I wrapped the top of each jar with natural and rust colored raffia and added silver and black jingle bells.

In less than an hour, my project was finished. I lit the candles briefly, to appreciate the effect. Beautiful. Over the next few days, the transformation will begin. I look forward to slowly, thoughtfully, moving through the house, cleaning and decorating, with an emphasis this season on repurposing. I’ll enjoy every moment, and surely find some firsts to share!

Christmas jars candles lit

Day 327: Five Week Middle-Earth Movie Marathon Week 5

5 week middle earth movie marathon week 5

A full day meant that I had a late night viewing of the final film in the Middle-Earth movie marathon. Perched on the bed with a late dinner as well, I enjoyed watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Not only was the Middle-Earth movie marathon part of my first today, this was also my first full viewing of the extended edition of this Hobbit film, which adds another 25 minutes to the movie. I had a sneak peek immediately after I purchased the dvd, however, I saved the full film to savor this evening.

And I did savor it. This middle film in the trilogy moves deeper into the adventure of Thorin Oakenshield and his company, made up of 13 dwarves and one hobbit. The first film is much lighter, as the characters are being introduced and established, while this one delves into the darker undertones. It is in that darkness that we begin to see who Thorin, Bilbo and the others truly are.

Beorn, the skin changer, is introduced in this film. I loved his character in the book and looked forward to meeting him on the big screen. What I thoroughly enjoyed were the additional minutes in the extended edition that focused on the mighty man who can shift into a gigantic and ferocious bear. The scene where Gandalf introduces the company to Beorn, who does not care for dwarves, is one of the most light-hearted scenes in the movie. It is unfortunate that it ended up on the editing floor, but very welcomed indeed in this longer version of the film. I confess to replaying the scene several times, to enjoy the expressions on each character’s face and Gandalf’s rare case of nervousness.

Bilbo is transforming, rapidly. No longer the timid and mild hobbit who fussed over his mother’s dishes and doilies, Bilbo tells Gandalf that he found something in the goblin caves….his courage. Although it might be noted that he was not yet courageous enough to tell Gandalf about the precious ring he found! The ring gives Bilbo a sense of courage often born out of desperation. He uses his sword, which is christened Sting. He engages in battle. He acts as the burglar he was hired to be. And he begins to show signs of leadership, as when he takes action in the musty and darkly enchanted forest of Mirkwood, home to huge spiders, and King Thranduil and the woodland elves. His cleverness shines forth as well. The barrel scene, Bilbo’s exit strategy for the company imprisoned in Thranduil’s kingdom, is one of my favorite sequences in the movie.

I watched with keen interest the growing relationship between the dwarf, Kili, and the warrior she-elf, Tauriel. I know some Tolkien purists disliked the addition of a new character in the story. I researched her a bit, and the reasoning behind Peter Jackson’s decision. He felt a strong female character would be a great counterpart to the mostly male cast, Galadriel being the only other prominent female. He kept her in alignment with Tolkien’s depiction of the woodland elves. Her name, Tauriel, means “daughter of the forest.” I like Tauriel. Although I am a huge Tolkien fan, I am not opposed to change and adaptation. I think her character is well done and I like the romantic element between her and Kili. I suppose because the final film is so near, the scenes featuring their story caused my eyes to sting with tears tonight.

This film fleshes out the titular character, Smaug, in powerful detail. I found the special effects to be as stupendous as the fire breathing dragon himself. British actor Benedict Cumberbatch lends his marvelous voice to Smaug, and actually, through stop-action filming, movements and actions as well. When I first read the story years and years ago, I wasn’t sure what I thought about a talking dragon. But of course he must speak. How else would we know his chilling thoughts? His character, like Gollum’s, is an essential computer generated character that is so important to the story. I am left wide eyed in the final scene, as Smaug flies toward Lake Town, rasping, “I am fire. I am death.” When the screen goes to black, I exhale, both in relief and disappointment that it’s over.

My final thoughts are about additional minutes and footage of Gandalf in Dol Guldur, Sauron’s stronghold where he is gathering his dark army as he gathers his strength. Very vital information ended up on the cutting room floor here too. So much about the return of Sauron and the connection between the Dark One and the dragon is revealed that I’m surprised the decision was made to remove those scenes. And, big wow for me….Thrain, Thorin’s father, is discovered, alive, by Gandalf. I’ve been waiting for him to appear and thought maybe he would be found in the final film. But no, here he is. Again, it seems so important a revelation that I wonder how it was cut from the theatrical version. I am glad to see it included here. Only a shell of who he was, he sighs to Gandalf, “I have been here a lifetime.” He gives a message to Gandalf for his son. Perhaps, since Gandalf has been apart from the company during most of film 2, he will share Thrain’s message with Thorin in the next movie by way of a flashback for the viewers.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug concludes the 5 Week Middle-Earth Movie Marathon. How fun it has been to watch all five movies as a preparation for the final film, in the Hobbit trilogy and the Middle-Earth saga, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. This defining chapter is scheduled for release December 17. I know it is only a movie. And yet, I also know, beyond a doubt, that this one is going to be very powerful for me, very emotional. Two months ago, my mind would shy away from the thought of it, whispering, “I’m not ready….I’m not ready.” This movie marathon has shifted that. I will weep. Perhaps as soon as the music starts during the opening scene. I will hurt because it is still physically painful to me to allow strong emotion to move through me. But allow it to move through, I will. I am ready.

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug

Day 326: Sleepover with Joey, Oliver and Aubrey


Way back in the summer, my grandkids and I planned a first….a sleepover. We intended to pitch a tent in the backyard and camp out, enjoying the warm lingering twilight of July. However our schedules didn’t mesh. Aubrey would be present but the boys wouldn’t, or vice versa. Then the flu bug was a guest at their house instead of me. Finally this evening, everything came together perfectly and I arrived, sleeping bag and overnight bag in hand.

Nate and Megan were sent away to enjoy an evening out with friends while Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and I settled in. It’s too chilly to sleep in the backyard, but we quickly turned the front room into our campsite with pallet beds piled with blankets, sleeping bags, stuffed animals and a couple of pups, Choco and Carl.

We ordered in pizza. We played Sorry and Oliver beat me at checkers. The kids took turns looking through the Toys R Us Christmas catalog and creating wish lists by writing their initials by favorite toys. Watching them, I was reminded of my own kids doing the same when they were small.

I watched them play and video taped their stunts. We chatted, laughed and brushed our teeth together. After lights out we curled up on our makeshift beds to watch Home Alone.

Nate and Megan have been together for about a year and a half. Their little family has blended together beautifully. And I have the privilege of welcoming Megan as a daughter-in-law and Joey and Oliver as grandsons. Tonight was about fully enjoying the kids and listening to their stories, telling them a few tales of my own, and mostly, just being present. We had an awesome sleepover….and not a single mosquito bite!


Day 325: Mail Art Project with Dayan

Mail art example

Sample Mail Art

This afternoon was really a series of firsts, all shared with my grandson Dayan. Last week we spent an afternoon selecting materials to create mail art to send to the Post Memorial Art Library in Joplin. They are sponsoring the Mail Art Projekt, with entries to be postmarked no later than December 1. The art, which is created on large postcards, can feature any subject or theme, as long as it can be mailed in. Completed pieces will be displayed in an exhibit in January 2015. This is just the sort of interesting project that my artistic grandson and I could enjoy together as a first, and we agreed to create mini works of art on oversized postcards.

Today, I picked him up from school so we could begin creating. He’s a growing teenager, so first things first. We grabbed a late lunch to go at the newly opened Orient Express in Webb City. I have one of these amazing little take out cafés near my house. I’m glad to see another one open in the area. Dayan called ahead to make sure they actually had opened. For our first visit, we ordered sesame and general tso chicken and crab rangoons and headed back to his house to eat before we dived into our project.

sesame chicken general tso chicken

Dayan had the great idea to pull up Netflix and watch Dr Who while we ate. Dayan is a huge fan of Dr. Who. I began watching the series, starting with season 1 of the new series, so that Dayan and I can discuss the show. We found where I left off with the 9th Doctor and his companion Rose. I have to say, it is more fun to watch Dr Who with Dayan, who knows everything about the series and filled me in on important-to-know info.

Dr Who 9th doctor

We left Dr Who going on the tv while we emptied out sacks of art and craft supplies. Dayan is focusing on a geography theme, with an emphasis on traveling, while I am creating a piece of art that includes this year’s word and symbol and hints at next year’s. Armed with scissors and glue sticks and a plethora of materials, we chatted and laughed and paused often in our work to watch the Doctor and Rose in their escapades. I treasure these times with my grandson. He is already talking about colleges. In such a casual atmosphere, we talk about all kinds of things, from movies to relationships, dreams to the mysteries of life, and the latest funny happenings at school.

Creating mail art is fun. Spending time with Dayan is priceless. I love watching him create.  I value his insights and his fresh perspective on life. And he’s got a wicked sense of humor. In fact, I had so much fun hanging out with Dayan today, that I totally forgot to capture our firsts and our art projects in process with my iPhone camera. Oh well. I am grateful for google pics. And I’ll make sure to get photos of the finished mail art next week.

mail art example 2

Sample Mail Art