Gratitude, Celebration & Fun

What a beautiful day, spent with a few members of my family. We enjoyed a casual meal together and celebrated my son-in-law Nate, whose birthday was today. And we tried out a new game, a birthday gift to Nate from his sweet wife.

Today’s gratitude overflowed…and included celebration and rowdy family fun.

I love the ease of meals where everyone contributes. We kept it easy, picking up smoked turkey and brisket from the Billy Sims restaurant yesterday. And we tried new recipes. Elissa supplied apple pie and pumpkin pie and drinks. Dayan made his first batch of brownies. I was told they were very good!

Adriel had dinner rolls on hand and prepared a hash brown casserole, deviled eggs, and a relish tray. She roasted asparagus for the first time, and it was excellent! She also made Nate’s favorite spice cake for his birthday. And I carried in the food I prepared last night: raw cranberry relish, mixed veggies and brown rice, and sweet potato casserole.

Everyone had plenty to eat!

My Thanksgiving meal. Good food! I am grateful.

Today was my son-in-law’s 36th birthday. We celebrated by singing to him and spending a good part of the day with him. Lucky Nate! I am so grateful for this young man. He and Adriel are such a sweet couple. Nate is a kind, good hearted man. We are privileged to have him as a member of our family.

Adriel and Nate have fur babies, and they love attention. Watching how Nate cares for these pets, I know he will be an excellent daddy someday.

Adriel bought Nate this game as a birthday present. Our family enjoys playing board games. This one, which is definitely for adults only, uses cards with photos from memes on them. Each player looks through the seven cards he or she is holding, and selects a phrase that seems most appropriate for the meme. They are handed to a judge, face down, who shuffles the cards and then reads them aloud and chooses a winner. The person whose phrase is selected wins the meme card. The person with the most meme cards at the end of the game wins.

We played this game all afternoon, until well after sunset, and I laughed until my face hurt. Desserts were sampled, and stories told, while we played round after round. Elissa was the ultimate winner!

I appreciated the opportunity to spend time with family today, share a meal, laugh and chat, and play a game together. The holiday season is officially launched, and in the past five days I have expressed gratitude and celebrated with all of my children and their families. I will begin unboxing Christmas decorations tomorrow and spread joy and merriment throughout my home…an outer reflection of my joyful heart.

Life is good.

Dancin’ in the Streets

This evening I took to the streets, accompanied by Greg, our daughter Adriel, and son-in-law Nate. Okay so maybe we didn’t exactly dance, but we did move and chat and enjoy each other’s company as we walked Nate and Adriel’s three dogs, Abby, Xander and Frances.

Tonight, on Day 4 of my 30 Day Walking Challenge, I was thrilled to walk with one of my children in her neighborhood.

There is something magical about an evening stroll. When I had a big dog of my own, nighttime was my favorite time to take her for a walk. I was never fearful, not when I was accompanied by Payton, a lab/chow/Rottweiler mix.

Walking past houses that are lit up inside feels cozy to me. Rather than feeling like I am on the outside looking in, or excluded in any way, seeing the glow of light through windows represents life and family to me.

The four of us headed out into the subdivision just as the sun was dipping below the horizon, and the moon was riding. Temps were mild and a slight breeze played with our hair.

Adriel and Nate are avid walkers, and typically include their two bigger dogs at least. Little Frances was excited to join us tonight. My daughter and her husband led the way, winding through their beautiful neighborhood. This area was heavily impacted by the tornado, resulting in mostly new homes that now line wide streets.

There was an easy camaraderie among us, walking together in the cool of the day. People we met as we walked were friendly and chatty. As we turned down streets and watched darkness fall, Adriel and Nate told stories about their neighborhood, their neighbors, their favorite houses.

This vacant lot is where a young skunk once surprised them, charging the dogs and sending them home with his distinctive, lingering scent.

This contemporary house is home to a large dog and a pack of smaller ones that like to greet everyone who walks by.

And this classic house is one of their favorites.

This one wishes passers by a Happy Halloween.

And at this house, the flag was at half mast, presumably in response to the recent tragedy in Las Vegas.

My daughter and son-in-law were in Las Vegas the weekend before. Their hotel was next door to the one the shooter barricaded himself in. We talked, as we walked, about the senselessness of that violent act, and the timing which allowed them to be safely home when it occurred.

How precious it was to walk together with Greg, and Adriel and Nate and their fur babies. How grateful I am for them. This hour of journeying together was not only good for us, health wise, it was symbolic of our larger journey together, through life.

The light spilling out of house windows, and beaming from front porches guided us back to Adriel and Nate’s home. I appreciate the time they took to welcome us to their neighborhood and give us a walking tour. I look forward to joining my other adult children on walks in their towns, and journeying companionably together, sharing stories and life and good health.

Dancin’ in the streets? Yes, life is dance, is it not? A twirl here, a skip there and joy in being with each other. It was a gorgeous evening for a walk…and a waltz.

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Today is my son’s birthday. He and his family are off on an adventure, celebrating him with a fun weekend. I am celebrating Nate, my middle child, my son, with words and a full and grateful heart. 

Happy Happy Birthday Son
I looked up Nate’s name for his birthday post, using his full name. 

“Nathanael, you have a bright mind and a vivid imagination enabling you to create and offer inspired messages to the world. You enjoy an active life. By nature you are restless, people-oriented, a lover of change, and a seeker of adventures and new thrills. You are bold, independent and curious. You know what you want and understand why you want it.

Dependable, very down-to-earth and well grounded, you have sought meaningful work, a career where you can take pride in what you do and do the best job you are capable of. Your prime desire is to protect and secure your environment, both at home and at work. You do well achieving goals and gaining objectives. You can be very detailed and possess great organizational skills. At times you may appear stubborn and overly critical to others, but your practical approach to life, your creativity, and your productivity make you one of society’s most outstanding members.” 

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

True words that describe Nate well! He does have a bright, inquisitive, imaginative mind. Since boyhood he has lived creatively, drawing, building, using raw materials such as cardboard, paint and a glue gun to create whatever his mind could visualize. The boy was gifted with the ability to birth ideas into reality. The man still enjoys that artistic challenge. 

Nate has known since the age of eight what he wanted to do as an adult, and why. He started down the path of law enforcement at that time and has never wavered from his plan. His desire to “serve and protect” not only applies to his family, it guides him in serving and protecting his community. 

I’ve ridden with my son in his police car as he patrols his city, full of pride for the way he does his job, respecting people, offering assistance, enforcing the law without breaking the spirit of the offender. And I have to admit to delight when my son instructed me, with a grin, to tighten my seatbelt and hold on securely as he flipped on lights and sirens and responded to an urgent call. 

Happy, Happy Birthday Son
Happy, Happy Birthday Son
Nate is an exemplary and outstanding police officer, a sergeant with his department, always learning and growing and training and helping others. And yet where he shines is as a husband and dad, a brother and son. It makes my heart sing when I see this tall, handsome man laughing and playing with his kids or holding his lovely wife’s hand or teasing his sisters. 

He is present with his family, making the time to show up for the kids’ sporting events and awards. Nate knows that his time is the most important gift he can give to Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, and to Megan. They all play games together, take fun trips to Kansas City, Branson and Florida, create projects and go for walks. The time invested reaps smiles and laughter now…and boundless love, respect and appreciation for a lifetime. 

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Nathanael…Son…thank you for living your dream and showing me that determination and hard work pays off. Thank you for listening to your heart and intuition, along with your mind, and for allowing your creativity outlets through art, music and play.  Thank you for loving so deeply and so well your wife and children, your sisters and parents and the rest of your extended family. Most of all, thank you for the gift of your presence, your time, and your focused attention. Your family flourishes because of your care and devotion. 

Happy, happy birthday Son. I am blessed to be your mom. I love you!

Happy, Happy Birthday Son

Happy Birthday Nate

Today is the birthday of my family’s newest member…my son-in-law Nate! Although he and my younger daughter Adriel married just last month, it seems like Nate has been a part of the clan for much longer. My whole family has wholeheartedly embraced Nate, since he and Adriel began dating not quite two years ago. 

I looked up Nate’s name:

“Nathan, you have a vivid and expansive imagination and you are one who inspires others. You enjoy life and having fun, and when self doubt is overcome, you rise to great heights and can achieve great things. You have a knack for avoiding trouble, which is why you occasionally repeat an experience so that you can learn from it. Sociable and people-oriented, others are drawn to your genuine charm and generous nature. You are a lover of change, and a seeker of adventure and new experiences. You are bold, inquisitive and interested in others. 

Dependable, down-to-earth and well grounded, you seek meaningful work, a career where you can take pride in your work and do the best job you are capable of. You desire to protect and build a secure environment at home and at work. You can be very persuasive, goal oriented, detailed and well-organized. Your contributions to the world make you a valued member of the community.”

True words describing a truly wonderful young man. Nate is very people oriented, one who connects easily and genuinely with others. When he and Adriel first began to date, he would stop by the house to visit with Greg and me for a few minutes, as we worked in the yard or on a project. Adriel would be at work, but he felt very comfortable hanging out and chatting. He even attended several family events when Adriel was unable to go because of work, not just standing in for her, but being there because it was a family gathering or party and he wanted to be there. No wonder my extended family fell in love with him!

Nate does enjoy life and engages it fully. He likes to have fun and laughs often. And he is adventurous and seeks out new experiences. He and Adriel have had many interesting outings. They hike with their dogs, take trips together, and spent a mini vacation in a wild life refuge. Which wasn’t a surprise at all. Those two love and appreciate nature and animals. They have a menagerie of rescue dogs and cats that are well loved and cared for. 

One of the things I appreciate most about Nate, is how he cares for and loves my daughter. He is a good man, with a good heart, and no where is that more evident than when he is with Adriel. As a mom, that touches my heart deeply. 

Last month Nate and Adriel joined their hearts, their lives and their families, as they said I do before an intimate group of family and close friends. It was a beautiful evening, inclusive and fun and unique, representative of who they are and how they live their lives. I was proud of both of them, and delighted to welcome another son.

Happy birthday Nate! I look forward to seeing what you achieve. I love you!

Adriel & Nate Get Married

The big event arrived, right on time. Tonight my daughter Adriel and her sweetheart, Nate, said “I do” before a group of loving and supportive family and friends. It was a gorgeous evening for an outdoor ceremony, at the Civil War Ranch in Carthage, MO. 

Here is the special day, captured in photos:

The day began early at the venue. 

Rachel and Camden creating the wedding cake and cupcakes. 

These two…sisters and best friends. 

Grateful my son has a clothes steamer! 

Choco says, “What’s this wedding you speak of?”

It’s time!

Dayan and Oliver. 

The beautiful bride and her proud daddy. 

My son with his wife and family. 

I love the relationship these six have, the three siblings and their spouses. 

Adriel and Aubrey

Although I did not eat any, I heard that Rachel’s cakes were wonderful!

First dance as Mr & Mrs. 

Daddy & daughter dance. 

Nate’s grandmother sang a special song. 

What a wonderful day and celebratory evening. Joy and happiness were present, along with food and drink, laughter and dancing. Two people joined their lives and their families together tonight. Two people promised to honor and love each other and grow as they journey together. A host of people silently vowed to journey alongside them, loving them as they cherish each other.  

I am thrilled to gain another son and embrace his family. I am full of joy to see my daughter so happy. Congratulations Adriel and Nate. I love you both so much! 

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. 



 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.



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

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

summer fathers day poldark nate megan and aubrey

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

summer fathers day poldark linda nicole and kids

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

summer fathers day poldark dinner

summer fathers day poldark debbie

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

summer fathers day poldark mom and walter

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

dad e

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

summer fathers day poldark aiden turner

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


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

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

summer fathers day poldark

Journey 136: National Police Week

National police week

Today marks the end of National Police Week. Created in 1962, by President Kennedy, May 15 is specifically set aside each year as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Established by a joint resolution of Congress, National Police Week recognizes the courage and sacrifice made by law enforcement officers and honors those who have fallen in the line of duty, while protecting and serving others.

Earlier this month was National Nurses Week. This past week, National Police Week. I have a child in both professions. My daughter is a nurse. My son, Nate, serves and protects his community as a police officer and I have a nephew, Eric, who serves as well. These fine young men take their jobs seriously as protectors of the pubic and keepers of peace. My son has wanted to be a police officer since he was a small boy, practicing, learning, studying for years before he ever donned a uniform and fastened on a badge.

Nate honor guard 2e2

I have ridden along with my son while he was on duty, and I am so proud of his dedication in serving his community, protecting others and backing up the other officers on duty. I’ve watched as he showed compassion, kindness and concern toward those he has stopped, and offered help to the needy and destitute. He operates out of his heart, rather than his head, but he doesn’t hesitate to step into the role of firm authoritarian if that is what is needed, for the safety and well being of all concerned. Nate is often the first on the scene of a crisis, and I can’t imagine a man better able to handle those difficult situations with efficiency, knowledge and care than he does.

Nate in car e


On behalf of my son and nephew and the many police officers that I know, I found these helpful tips on keeping officers and the public safe. We can assist these keepers of the peace, who have families at home, depending on them, or hinder them in doing their jobs, which are challenging enough at the best of times.

1. Focus on driving. Don’t text or talk on your cell phone, hunt for items in your purse or allow yourself to become distracted.

2. Give officers room on the roadway. Pull to the right or stop for emergency vehicles.

3. Move over for stopped police cars. When you see a stopped police car, slow down, and move one lane away from the stop, if possible.

4. Watch officers’ hands as they are directing traffic, obeying their signals.

5. Only drive when sober. Drinking and driving causes fatalities, to other drivers and to police officers.

6. Drive within the speed limit. Speeding puts others at risk.

7. Keep volume on radio and phones at a reasonable level, so that you can hear approaching emergency vehicles.

8. Don’t wear headphones while you drive. See above.

9. Report drunk drivers or drivers behaving erratically. You might prevent a tragedy.

10. If you are pulled over by a police officer, stay in the car, roll your window down, keep your hands where they can be seen, such as on the steering wheel. Place your vehicle in park, turn radio off and if it is at night, turn on the interior car light. Be prepared to show your driver’s license and proof of insurance. Be respectful.

National police week badge

I am honored to have a son who serves and protects, and a nephew as well. I am glad there is a week set aside to honor the courage and commitment of police officers across the nation, and to remember those who have fallen while protecting their communities. These men and women make a difference in our cities and towns, and in our lives. We can make a difference in theirs. The next time you encounter an officer, because of a car stop or accident, or you see them eating lunch or stopping to help someone in need, smile and thank him or her for their dedication and their willingness to serve. It might be my son smiling back at you.

National police week heroes

Journey 129: Nate and Megan Get Married

Wedding Mr and Mrs Moore

My family loves to celebrate…birthdays and the birth of babies into the family bring us together to rejoice. Weddings not only allow us to celebrate the happy couple and dance and feast together, they allow us to enlarge our family. Tonight, my family grew again as my son, Nate and his sweetheart, Megan, exchanged vows in front of a teary eyed crowd.

wedding Joey Oliver and groomsmen

wedding vows

Nate and Megan said “I do” in the beautiful Amelie in downtown Joplin. It was the perfect backdrop for this elegant yet festive wedding. Gathered around tables with candle filled lanterns as centerpieces, we watched as Pastor Robin and Nate led the way to the front of the room. Five groomsmen and five bridesmaids walked together toward them and then came the children…Oliver and Karleigh, Joey and Aubrey, the girls dropping flower petals as they walked arm in arm with the boys. We stood as Megan, radiant and gorgeous in her dress, slowly walked down the aisle on the arm of her father, her shining eyes on her waiting groom.

Wedding first dance

wedding Mimi and Nate

wedding daddy and daughter

Weddings make me teary eyed. Seeing two people publically express their love and devotion for each other undoes me. This evening, I should have brought the tissues. Megan and Nate wrote their own vows for each other and I was so touched, so moved by their expressions of love to each other. Listening to them recount their first meeting and first date, hearing their pledges to care for each other, listen to each other, be there for each other, reminded me of all that’s good and right in the world. My tall handsome son, who serves and protects as a police officer, spoke from his heart as he promised to protect his bride, foremost and forever. Megan, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, told Nate he was her best friend, and promised to cherish him as well.

wedding cake

wedding three kids

The evening continued with toasts and dancing, laughter and food, photos and hugs. Two families before the ceremony, blended into one, with Nate and Megan and their three children, and with the Nate’s extended family and Megan’s, one large, boisterous, happy clan, united by choice and destiny. I’ve gained a daughter and two amazing grandsons. I’ve also embraced a wonderful group of people, Megan’s family, to celebrate with in the future.

wedding champagne

I danced a very special dance with my son, so proud of the man he has become, while Megan danced with her father. I looked into my son’s eyes and still I could see the boy there, smiling, trusting. The man is ready for this next great adventure, with his woman by his side. I know he and Megan will have a beautiful, wonderful life together. They are not unaware of the challenges life can bring. But they will not be defined by them. Hand in hand they will journey, onward and upward, throughout the rest of their lives. Congratulations to you both and God’s blessings be on you. I love you!

wedding parents dance

Journey 78: Spring Break Fun

spring break

In the Midwest, spring break is often a casualty of too many snow days. When school has been cancelled more than a couple of times, due to ice or snow, the days are made up by eliminating part or all of spring break. This year, thanks to fairly light winter precipitation, kids in the area enjoyed a full week of recess from school. I’ve had the joy this week of spending time with all of my grandkids, at various times, and all my adult children too. Today, my sister Linda and I took four of the youngsters to that favorite hang out for children, Chuck E Cheese.

Chuck E Cheese London plays

My son Nate, with Joey, Oliver and Aubrey in tow, met Linda and London, me, and my sister’s friend Tammy and her daughter Megan at the fun pizza parlor located at the Northpark Mall in Joplin. Because of spring break, and the cool, drizzly weather outside, the place was packed with boisterous children and patient, good-natured parents. We snagged two tables back to back, with the children occupying one and the adults the other. Fresh hot pizzas brought cheers from the kids, while the adults made trips through the salad bar first. (For me, being Whole30 conscious, the salad bar and an unsweetened tea was it for me. I didn’t even crave the pizza.) Greg surprised us by tapping on the window outside. He joined us for a quick lunch as he took a break from work.

As much as the kids enjoyed chowing down on cheese and supreme pizza, they don’t relish going to Chuck E Cheese for the food. They made one extra large pizza disappear very quickly. While a second pizza was being prepared, off they scampered, cups of tokens in hand. For that is the fun reason for being at this eating establishment…plugging tokens into a host of flashing, whirling, blaring gaming machines to win tickets. London and Aubrey, 5 and 6 years old, are more interested in running around, playing in the playground area and riding some of the small rides than they are securing tickets, even though they love the process of redeeming the tickets later for prizes. Megan, being older, struck out on her own, playing an assortment of games. Joey and Oliver, however, at 8 and 7 years old, have this gaming business down. They have a system of playing the same machine rapidly, and usually score big in the way of tickets. While the girls averaged about 200 tickets each today, Joey and Oliver hauled in 1200 tickets, together. I was impressed. They all had fun picking out prizes.

Chuck E Cheese Nate and the boys

Nate spent time visiting with us and then time on the busy floor, watching the girls and playing skee ball with the boys. Even grown kids need some play time. I made sure he had tokens of his own. After a fun afternoon at Chuck E Cheese, Nate headed to a meeting at work and Tammy and Megan said their goodbyes too. Linda and I gave the kids the option of having ice cream and of course they said yes. We stopped at Andy’s for treats for the kids. We quickly discovered that chocolate ice cream and a group of kids…were there really only four of them?…make a fine mess. But that was okay. Napkins and face wiping took care of that….or most of it anyway!

Chuck E Cheese Nate with kids

We ended our play date at Linda’s house, affectionately known as Gigi. One of the things I love about my sister is that she doesn’t get uptight about kids playing in the house. I would have loved to have taken the kids to a park to run and climb and slide, but we will save that experience for another sunnier, warmer day. At Gigi’s house, it is okay to make a mess, to play hide and seek, to ride the scooter in the house. The kids did all those things, plus coloring and watching cartoons and setting up a mock restaurant. They had fun. Gigi and I had fun, watching, interacting, allowing the fine staff at the imaginary restaurant to take our orders for meals, over and over.

When Nate showed up to claim his kids, he joined in the fun for a bit. And then it was time for all of us to hug and say goodbye and go home. Kay Redfield Jamison said, “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” I so agree. One thing we are good at in our family, is allowing kids that freedom. It is good for their souls. They learn to share, to create, to explore. I’m grateful today for spring break, Chuck E Cheese, Andy’s, Gigi’s hospitality, friends, Nate’s willingness to share the kids….and most of all, Megan, Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and London. Their play, their creativity, their laughter, is good for my soul.

Chuck E Cheese playing at Gigis

Coloring at Gigi’s

Chuck E Cheese Joey and Oliver at Gigis

The boys play “store”. While Joey set up, Oliver discovered that three balls lined up make a pretty good recliner. And yes, we all pitched in and cleaned up after play time!