I’m getting in very late tonight, after an extremely fun evening with my son, Nate, daughter-in-law Megan, and grandkids Joey, Oliver and Aubrey. Greg and I joined this merry group in visiting Exeter Corn Maze, in Exeter, Missouri.
I have never been to this entertaining farm turned fall playground. I’ve been excited all week to experience it and to watch my grandkids enjoy the various activities Exeter Corn Maze offers.
Established 13 years ago, on an actual farm, this country place offers many activities for the entire family. There is a corn maze, a huge one full of creepy clowns and chainsaw wielding maniacs. The saws have the chains removed, so it is all good fun. We got lost in the dark cornfield, which seems to be my fate in corn mazes. And that’s part of the intended experience.
The kids bounced on giant inflated pillows, petted farm animals in the petting zoo and flew overhead on zip lines. These kids are fearless! They “swam” in the corn pit, filled with dried kernels. Joey and Oliver faced off with mock opponents in the archery maze, while Aubrey tried out the indoor swings and mini zip lines located inside a made over barn.
The adults joined in on the Spook House, which was scary fun, and the Zombie Shoot. We did the Zombie shoot late in the evening, and as a result, we were the only participants. A tractor pulled us on a trailer through more cornfields and another barn, where scenes were set up. Zombies inhabited those scenes. We shot them with paint ball guns. This was a first for me, both dealing with zombies and firing a paint ball gun. It was a blast, literally!
It was an incredible evening, with the highlight being watching Joey, Oliver and Aubrey exploring and playing and having new adventures. Exeter Corn Maze offers marvelous opportunities for all of those things and creates a fun environment for families to experience together.
I’m glad I got to experience it with part of my family tonight!
Today I enjoyed a road trip north to the beautiful city of Columbia, Missouri and the campus of the University of Missouri. It has been two weeks since I saw my grandson Dayan. I traveled to MU with Greg and our daughter Elissa to visit Dayan for the first time since he moved into the dorm, and I captured our trip in photos.
Photo by Elissa Adam
Crossing the Missouri River as we passed the state’s capital, Jefferson City. Columbia, which is 236 miles from Joplin, is not far from Jefferson City. It was a beautiful day for a drive and I enjoyed catching up with my daughter as we all chatted.
Dayan’s residence hall on the gorgeous campus of the University of Missouri. Mizzou is the affectionate nickname for this university. It is a form of clipping, or shortening, a longer name into a shorter one. In this case, Missouri to Mizzou. The first reference to the nickname was in a 1905 college publication. At games and events, it is customary for the fans on one side to shout MIZ…and the other side to answer ZOU! The university mascot is the tiger and the colors are gold and black.
And this is the young man we came to see! It was so good to hug him and talk to him and hang out for a few hours. We met Dayan’s roommate, Carlisle, who was kind and personable. I was impressed with the dorm room and with the hall’s casual meeting areas and laundry facilities.
On the way to lunch, Dayan guided us around campus. I loved the stone and brick buildings, the newer structures and the mature trees and many gardens. The campus is actually considered a botanical garden. I’ll be exploring the grounds on foot during my next visit.
Holding to a long established tradition between Dayan and me, we enjoyed Chinese food for lunch at a nearby Panda Express. I was able to select brown rice topped with mixed veggies, while Dayan had his usual orange chicken. Elissa and Greg both tried the kung pao chicken. We read our fortunes to each other. Mine said Important events are in your future. True!
After a trip to Walmart to get a few things Dayan needed, we wandered through downtown Columbia, on the way back to campus. I’ve been to Columbia several times, but this was my first time to the charming downtown. The city, which is about twice the size of Joplin, had a lively energy and the definite feel of a college town. Small shops and cafés lined the streets and this time of year, bistro tables and chairs provided outdoor dining.
Dayan’s favorite Starbucks.
I enjoyed getting to know Mizzou’s campus. I’m impressed with the extensive grounds and the halls. I look forward to attending future events and activities here.
It did my heart good today, to see my grandson. I have missed him. And it brought me great joy to see that he is thriving. He is happy and having fun. His classes are interesting and challenging. Dayan has learned his way around campus and around the city and he is making new friends.
College life agrees with Dayan and it shows. He was confident and relaxed and excited to show us around and share about his classes and activities. I could drive away after our visit, knowing he’s not so very far away and that he is doing well and thoroughly enjoying this new adventure. And that brought peace to the hearts and smiles to the faces of his Papa, Yaya and Mom. The boy has become a man.
From the title, you might surmise that I have had a really good Monday! However, the reality is that I felt drawn back to the travel journal I am creating, after the recent trip to Italy. As I wrote about previously, I didn’t have time to journal the way I thought I would, during the trip. Instead, I decided to journal about the experience after the fact.
I am appreciating how the acts of sketching and writing are allowing memories to surface. Like bubbles, they rise up and pop, surprising me and making me smile.
On day two of our tour, we left Rome, and entered Tuscany. We stopped at the little medieval village of Lucca for lunch, and later enjoyed a wonderful tour and five course meal at a vineyard. As I flipped through photos on my phone today, I felt inspired to capture Dayan’s first Italian pizza in a sketch. I also drew the bell tower of Lucca, with the trees growing at the top, creating the illusion of hair.
Although I would not learn about the significance of Italy’s bell towers until later in the trip, Lucca’s towers were the first to catch our attention and our interest.
We capped off our day at Fattoria Il Poggio, a Tuscan farm featuring vineyards and olive groves. What a magical evening. Our group dined al fresco, at long beautifully set tables under twinkling white lights. The wine and the food flowed freely. I learned that night that I would be fine, eating plant based in Italy. The food was marvelous.
As I wrote in my journal, I realized the true magic that wove itself through the evening involved relationships. That night, over a long and delightful dinner, strangers became family. Perhaps because of the wine, or the music, or the incredible beauty that surrounded us, 43 people bypassed the acquaintance and friendship stages and connected on deeper levels.
We laughed, we sang, we danced, we dined on amazing local foods and drank wines created right there at the vineyard. We fell in love with Italy and ourselves and each other.
The memories from that night warmed my heart and made me smile as I wrote in my journal.
And then they jostled another memory, that sent me searching for a piece of paper.
My family! My Globus family! Judy and Chelsea and Hilda, Norm and Rohini… We all wrote our names and email addresses on a piece of paper labeled “Traveling Companions”. Let’s all stay in touch, we said. I’ll email you, I promised.
I have not contacted my traveling companions, my new family, since I have been home. I found my paper with their names and email addresses. Perhaps this is why I was drawn to journal today. Perhaps this memory needed to surface. Regardless, I am grateful for the reminder that this day of the trip was full of so many good things, including gaining 41 new family members.
I will begin emailing them tonight. It is time to catch up with my family!
What a beautiful day! This Christmas was different from last year, in that none of my grandchildren were present. All of the children spent the day with their other parents. Today, I missed the kids…and I had a joyful afternoon with my adult children, their spouses, Greg, my mom and my sister.
My younger daughter Adriel and son-in-law Nate hosted the family in their beautiful home. We had a true smorgasbord for our shared meal, rather than a traditional Christmas dinner. Each of us brought a dish or two. There was taco soup, hash brown casserole, cheesy peas and other tasty offerings. I brought what has become regular fare for me, so my family could sample a variety of plant based sides. Included were seasoned potato wedges and brown rice pasta, served with marinara sauce, homemade hummus, lentil curry with brown rice, and roasted apples and pears, along with pomegranate bark. I loved the lentil curry that I made for the first time, using my slow cooker.
My Christmas meal today…lentil curry with brown rice.
After our meal we gathered in the living room, where the kids spent a couple of hours rummaging through boxes of their childhood artwork and flipping through old photo albums. Much laughter filled the room as drawings were revealed and the artist remembered the story behind the art. My children are all talented and creative artists, and my mother’s eyes could see that potential, even in their earliest works!
My funny son-in-law, Josh.
Our gracious hosts for the day.
Six of the most beautiful souls that I have the pleasure of knowing. I am grateful to be their mom and mom-in-law!
I sat back today, watching the adult kids in my family, listening to their easy banter and peals of laughter as they pulled drawings or photos from the boxes. I love hearing my children and grandchildren laugh. I love seeing them interact with each other. It was an incredible time of celebrating together.
I received special, and unexpected, gifts today, that include coloring books, gift cards, cookbooks and a pressure cooker that I am eager to try out. Greg surprised me with an art print that speaks deeply to my heart and ignites my creativity. Painted by a local artist, who is also a friend of mine, the piece is called “Incandescence” and contains my symbol for 2017 and an old fashioned typewriter, which represents my writing. I am thrilled to own this limited edition print. Hanging in my studio, it will be a daily reminder of the path I am on, and of the invitation I have been given for next year.
Gratitude fills my heart tonight and overflows. I have so much to be thankful for…health, happiness, wonderful family and friends, and another magical Christmas captured in photos and memory.
Merry Christmas…and truly, God bless us, everyone.
Family fun continued today, after a beautiful wedding celebration last night for my daughter Adriel and new son-in-law Nate. Early this morning a group of us gathered on the square in historic Carthage, MO for the 50th annual Maple Leaf Parade.
On this unseasonably warm morning, I waited for the parade to begin with Greg, my sister Debbie, niece Ashley and her husband Jon and sons Ethan and Kaleb, my daughter-in-law Megan and granddaughter Aubrey, and my daughter Elissa and her husband Josh. We made a merry group!
Leading the parade was my son Nate, with the police honor guard. This year, Nate carried the American flag. Standing tall and at attention, Nate made eye contact and gave me a small smile as I snapped a pic. We cheered as the parade got under way. Grandsons Joey, Oliver and Dayan were all participants this year in the parade. We settled in to enjoy the morning and watch for the boys.
There were elephants in the parade, from the Tarzan Zerbini Circus. They winter in Carthage.
Josh picked up a box of Hurt’s Donuts to share. These colorful dessert type donuts, known for their outlandish toppings, are the creations of a Springfield based store that is growing rapidly and expanding its franchise. Hurt’s will be opening a Joplin shop soon.
I said “no thank you” to a donut. But Kaleb said a big yes! He snagged the Cookie Monster donut because blue is his favorite color.
The kids scored big at the parade, collecting candy, pens and pencils, bead necklaces and coupons and advertisements of all kinds.
The Tiger Football floats rolled past. Joey was seated on the opposite side of the float but his teammates got his attention and he waved to us. I captured the moment by snapping a pic of his arm as he waved.
Oliver sat facing us on his float. We waved and clapped, as he smiled and darted his eyes toward his mom. He played it cool, but those big eyes shone.
Joey’s arm and the bill of his ball cap!
Oliver and his charming smile.
We enjoyed more floats and bands, and then the Carl Junction Marching Bulldogs appeared at the end of the block. The band, one of the largest there, looked and sounded great! They played Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones and wowed the crowd. Apparently they wowed the judges as well. The band took first place in their division.
The Maple Leaf hosts a marching band competition after the parade, drawing participants from a wide region. The Bulldogs took third place overall today, a great accomplishment and a fantastic end to their marching season and Dayan’s time in band.
Dayan, on the far right.
Tonight I completed a day of family fun by attending Oliver’s final football game of the season, his Superbowl, held in Joplin. As a third grader, this was Ollie’s first year to play Tiger football.
Greg and I watched, proud Papa and Yaya, as this boy moved with confidence on the field, playing on the defensive team. He assisted in several awesome tackles. What a change in the team, during one season of play. I was impressed with their skill level, acquired in such a short time.
Oliver and the 3rd grade Tiger team won their superbowl game, 14-12. It was a great, close game, well played, and the win was well deserved. We got to visit with Joey during the game. Papa gifted him with money for an after game snack.
As the clock ran out and victory was assured, we moved down onto the field to congratulate Oliver, get a hug, and slip him cash for his snack. And we took a selfie, of course.
What a fun day, another to add to the weekend’s cherished moments. I wouldn’t trade this journey, full of these incredible moments spent with family and friends, for anything.
Today was another Monday spent in Arkansas. While Greg worked outside today, doing some needed repairs, I had the inside of the house to myself. The children have taken the items that they want, or tagged the bigger pieces for later delivery. Greg and I have also picked out the mementos that have significance for each of us.
Today I started the task of the final pass through. Beginning in the spare bedroom, I once again sorted through boxes of items, creating three stacks: sell, keep, throw away. By far, the two largest piles were in the throw away and the sell categories.
In the still house, in this stripped down room, I felt a mix of emotions. Is this what’s left at the end of life? Piles of stuff that no one wants or needs? I threw open windows and let sunshine and warm fresh air in, to dispel the gloom and chill, of the room and of my thoughts.
I know, in my heart, that Bob and Leta Moore leave a much greater legacy than these boxes of knick knacks, piles of papers and stacks of photos. And those memories and stories and character qualities are passed on to their surviving son, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I sorted through the items, hauling out four more large bags of trash. From that room, I only toted home one small box. But, what interesting items I found. The tiny gold ring, a baby’s ring or a pinky ring, pictured above, obviously belonged to someone. The little wooden frame is handmade. Unfortunately, there’s nothing written on the back to tell the ring’s story. And now, no one to ask about it. Into the Keep Box it went.
My grandson Dayan helped me properly identify this cow bell! I sent him a pic and an inquiry about the country of origin. I was thinking Peruvian. It’s Swiss. He’s such a smart young man. One of Peterson’s world traveling sales reps must have brought this piece home to Leta. Her home is an international bazaar of goodies. I kept this quirky bell too.
This cute little chick, made from modeling dough allowed to hardened and then painted, brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. On the bottom is scratched “EM”…Elissa Moore. There’s no date but she was a just wee girl when she made this for her Mimi. And Mimi loved it and kept it. This big-eyed guy went into the Keep Box, to be given to the artist. Elissa was happy that I found him.
I found this unusual item, made of brass, that I had never seen before. I picked up the duck head, wondering where the rest of him went! On closer examination, I discovered it is a pencil sharpener. That made me laugh. I can use this conversation starter with my colored pencils, and think of Leta every time I use it.
As I was finishing up in the spare room, I picked up one last item. I didn’t want it. The kids didn’t either. It had no value at all. The beach ball, still inflated, had been hidden away, in the closet, for at least 25 years. That’s no exaggeration. My children are all in their thirties. It has been many, many years since they have batted this colorful ball around.
As I held the somewhat squishy ball, a thought struck me. Papa Bob, or perhaps even Mimi Leta, blew this ball up for the grandkids, long, long ago. I was holding their breath, literally in my hands. Breath…air exhaled from the lungs…synonymous with life.
In that quiet, now sacred space, I slowly pulled the plug on the ball. Hesitating for just a moment, holding my breath, I squeezed on the beach ball, releasing the air within, releasing so much more. Fearing the air would be stale, I nonetheless directed that pent up breath into my face, inhaling deeply. The air was cold, sweet, with no hint of staleness.
I stood there, eyes closed, breathing in the air that Bob or Leta used to inflate that ball for my kids. Their beautiful grandchildren. What fun and loving grandparents they were. What precious people who enjoyed life. I breathed in the essence of their lives, spent now as this ball was spent, an empty shell.
The tears started. I surrendered to them. Releasing tears. Cleansing tears. Grateful tears. It was time to go home.
This year I surrendered to an idea to celebrate each member of my family, on the day of his or her birth. Whether there’s a party on the big day, or I see them another time, or I simply send a happy birthday text, I want to take the time to express my appreciation for who that person is. Today is my sister Linda’s birthday.
I’ve known my sister since her birth, and oh, the stories I could tell! That is, perhaps, a post for another time. Instead, as I have with other family members, I’ll focus of the past year, since Linda’s last birthday. And what a fun year it’s been.
Linda continues to accompany me on many of my adventures. And invites me on some of her own. In the past year we’ve enjoyed watching The Phantom of the Opera musical from front row seats, attended parties and a wedding, and said good bye to a cousin, an uncle and two aunts. She journeyed alongside me as Greg’s dad also stepped into eternity last summer, offering encouragement and quiet help.
We enjoyed the annual Halloween party, hosted by our younger sister, niece and nephew. And got lost in our first corn maze with Mom and our granddaughters, Aubrey and London. We made new vision boards, while having deep discussions and impromptu sing alongs with Dayan and Mom. In fact, we gathered to have fun for any reason whatsoever. That’s one of Linda’s greatest gifts that she offers to others, the ability to have fun and make an ordinary event extraordinary.
She continues be an advocate for animals, her heart tender toward those who are homeless, abused or neglected. And Linda’s heart is just as tender toward people, especially those who are overlooked, under appreciated or who have lost their way. She is a champion for the one who lacks confidence in himself and a cheerleader for the one who has a difficult time seeing her own value. It’s important for me to remember that sometimes Linda also appreciates being championed and cheered for as well.
Linda’s greatest gift is how fiercely and deeply she cares for her family. She offers that love to all of us, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and all the “grands” in the family. However, as Mom to her two sons and their brides, and Gigi to her four grandchildren, she shines. She is selfless in her devotion, dividing her time between her Tulsa clan and her Joplin clan. She is a witness to their lives, present for celebrations and achievements. London, Aralyn, Weston and Lola are too young yet to realize what an amazing grandmother they have. They just know she’s there for them and she’s fun and she loves them very much.
May the next year bring continued joys and blessings to my sister Linda. May she know boundless grace, deep peace and experience an abundance of wealth, fun, health and vitality. I look forward to many more adventures together. Happy birthday, Linda. I love you!
Today my son Nate had the opportunity to join his dad and me at the house in Arkansas. Because he had to work Saturday, he was unable to join his sisters on that day, as they walked through their grandparents’ house, selecting momentos to take home. They graciously allowed their brother the opportunity to visit, before claiming anything else.
As it was with the girls, it was interesting to quietly follow Nate as he moved from room to room. The house is full of stuff, and yet empty, missing the bright sparks of life that were Papa and Mimi to Nate and Elissa and Adriel. Memories linger there though. My son smiled as he picked up items that stirred recollections from his childhood.
Although he selected several small figurines for his kids, his focus was on photos, such as the one posted above. Nate and his sisters were frequent visitors to the hangar containing the small airplanes that Papa Bob flew for Peterson’s. They had fun climbing into the cockpits and pretending to fly. Their vivid imaginations took them around the world.
And Nate sorted through stacks of sheet music for piano. Mimi Leta was a gifted pianist, who passed her musical ability on to her grandson and younger granddaughter. Nate has her piano already, in his house, and today he collected an assortment of music to take home as well. Some of that music is vintage, as Leta played the piano in various churches throughout her life, from the age of 16 onward.
Saturday Elissa found this scrap of paper, with a drawing by 5 year old Nate. She snapped a pic and sent it to her brother, with the remark that his artistic ability had certainly improved! We looked at the little sketch today. I will save it, as Papa Bob apparently did. He and Mimi Leta kept artwork from their grandkids. They are more than kids’ drawings, they tell stories. They capture a moment in time as accurately as a photograph does.
Nate’s latest drawing, given as a gift to his wife.
I enjoyed spending a good portion of the day with my son, as I did Saturday with my daughters and their sweethearts. As we prepared to leave, Nate asked if he could first walk around outside the house. “It may be the last time I see this place,” he quietly explained. I let him walk around, accompanied by his dad, while I closed up the house.
Nate’s words made me aware of the reality of what’s happening. In the midst of sorting and packing, tossing and keeping, laughing and remembering…and preparing to sell the house…I’ve overlooked the fact that it will be gone soon. This house. This place of memories. My children and I never knew any of the other houses that Bob and Leta Moore lived in. This was home.
Soon memory will be all we have of this place, and those years of being together here. Except for the photos. Except for the momentos and the few pieces of furniture that have gone to new homes. I’m so grateful that those cherished items will carry memories forward, and that the stories around them will continue to be told. I’m especially grateful for my beautiful children, who have a rich appreciation for family history and the desire to hold it close….and then pass it on.
This evening my sister Linda, my mom, and my grandson Dayan gathered with me to complete our vision boards. Or in Dayan’s case, his drawing.
And just like last week, we enjoyed a time of creativity and lively conversation, as we began the task of gluing images, words and phrases onto the white poster boards. Dayan deftly sketched Egyptian landmarks, artifacts and symbols while contributing to the topic of the moment. We had so much fun, chatting and laughing, that Dayan opted to stay with us this time, rather than going to his youth group.
I love that three generations of my family can have so much fun together. Somehow the conversation shifted to music. Dayan used his iPhone to play a couple of his current favorites, one of which was Pink’s version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Of course, we sang along. Adele’s widely popular song “Hello” was discussed and a funny video watched. When Linda requested the actual song, well, we put our hearts and souls into that sing-along, and perhaps a few hand motions. Adele would have approved, I’m sure.
As we finished, we took turns holding our boards up so I could take pictures. Mom started the trend of peeking over or around the edge. Her board features her word for 2016, “Kindness”, and an emphasis on health, fitness, finances and a trip to Ireland.
Linda’s board has her word for the year, “Courageous “, at the top. She is focusing on fitness, organization, better habits, a trip to Seattle…and her love life apparently!
My board is pictured below. I am hence forth referring to this yearly practice as creating an awareness board. I’ve realized that I’m capturing who I am, at this moment in my journey, on my board. This is an accurate snapshot of who I am, right now, and what I enjoy, what I dream about.
My symbol is there, in the middle of a collage of words, quotes and images. My word, “Surrender”, is captured in a couple of quotes. Creativity, writing, coloring, and gardening are all represented. My family is there. And almost half of my board is devoted to travel, with Scotland and Italy pictured as destinations. Rivendell made the board, along with a playful nod to an upcoming adventure in which Dayan and I will meet David Tennant and Billie Piper, from Doctor Who.
I appreciate my family joining in, in the creative exercise, the conversations and the singing. They created awesome boards and Dayan’s drawing is amazing. I like the way my Awareness Board turned out. It’s a great collage, representing a great journey. Life is great!
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.