October 30, 2012

How much did your vote cost you?

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  Maybe you've heard, but there's a pretty big election coming up. I mean, it's kind of a big deal. Oh, and the best part for you?! It won't cost you anything to participate. That's right, YOUR vote has already been paid for. And let me tell you my friend, the price tag was a pretty hefty one. No, it wasn't paid for in diamonds or gold, but it was bought with the blood of generations of brave men and women who have given everything defending your freedoms and liberties. Don't let those sacrifices be in vain. Do your research, educate yourself on who YOU think is the most eligible candidate. Don't let your vote be determined by your friends, or the media, or the voting record of your great-great granddaddy. You decide for YOURSELF! Once your decision is made, don't sulk and pout over political affairs as you make your way to the voting precinct, voting is a PRIVILEGE!!! Remember?!  Oh, and one last thing... don't waste your time or the time of others by making silly comments about what you will do or how you will feel if your candidate doesn't win. You've done your part. Say a little prayer, and give the rest to God. He gets the ultimate vote so spend your time in prayer, don't waste it on worry. You have the right to vote, CELEBRATE it!!


Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. - Romans 13:1 



I think my girls have gone with me to vote in every election that I've had the oppurtunity since they've been alive. I love to talk to them about the bravery of the men and women who with such courage volunteer to defend our rights. I want them to know that they are a part of a blessed nation. I don't know what the future holds, and neither do you. So the only thing that we need to worry about is doing our part the best way that we know how. Go vote.

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October 23, 2012

Perspective

I've been thinking a lot lately about a little word called "perspective". I recently spoke with a beautiful lady who has been battling an advanced form of cancer for the past few years. As she so graciously shared parts of her story with me, I was deeply moved by her positive disposition. She explained to me that the doctors had told her that after she made it through treatment, and after a certain amount of time had passed, then they could give her a 5% chance of survival without relapse. Wow, 5%... but before I had time to consider what that number really meant, she said something that struck me. With a smile on her face, she gently placed her hand on mine and said, "hey, someone has to make up that 5%, right?" Wow, what an amazing perspective. Not long after this conversation I couldn't help but notice the way this same lady and her husband were interacting. His love for her was completely evident in even their simplest of exchanges. I said to him, "I bet you look at everything differently now." Without hesitation he said, "Everything." They both went on to explain how things that they used to disagree over, now seem so petty. Every moment is a gift, not to be taken for granted. We gain perspective through our own life experiences, but we can also gain perspective through the experiences of others. I want to learn to recognize opportunities to be encouraged and gain perspective. Opportunities like the one that I was given when I crossed paths for only a few hours with a very special couple. In such a short amount of time, through their example they taught me an invaluable lesson. I want to cherish each moment with my husband here and now. I don't want to wait for tragedy to strike before I'm reminded to speak sweeter, and to laugh harder. The day may very well come that our world will be turned upside down by disaster or disease, but by the grace of God that day isn't here yet. Sure there are things in life that we have to deal with in the day to day. There will be times that we feel overwhelmed or discouraged, but remember this... we are not promised another minute on this earth. When your path is laden with obstacles that offer pain, or scattered with roadblocks that seem hopelessly discouraging... search for an avenue that will lead you to a greater perspective. Will a better attitude change your situation? Maybe not... probably not. Life will always have it's challenges. That fact gives us hope for a greater life beyond the one we know here. What is your perspective today? Is your glass half empty, or half full? There may be times where by worldly standards, you have every right and reason to think it's half empty. Times when you deserve to say that it's half empty. CHOOSE to see it as half full. Sure, that may be the unexpected path to take, but take it anyway. If you are reading this then that tells me that at this very moment your heart is beating in your chest, which means that things could always be worse. Today is a gift... will you throw it away, or will you rip the paper off and see what's waiting for you?! Maybe it's not what you've always dreamed of, but what can you make it to be? Sometimes the cards are crummy, but strive to make the best of the hand you've been dealt.




Many times when I write, it's something that I need to hear myself. I have a feeling that I may be revisiting this one from time to time!!

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October 1, 2012

Seasonal Nesting: AND a Thirty-One GIVEAWAY!!!


 Seasonal nesting...


Do you know what that is? It's the urge to purge, clean, tidy, organize, and make your home "homey", only instead of being triggered by the upcoming birth of a child, it's brought on by the shift in the seasons. Happening now... FALL nesting.



 Yes, in order to start the season off just right... I must light a Pumpkin Spice candle, hang a cinnamon broom, and place an arrangement of fresh cut fall flowers on my table.


Once these things are in place... the rest just happens. The combination of fresh cut flowers, cinnamon, and spiced pumpkin does something to me... it gets my insides stirring. Suddenly, corners that have accumulated piles of misfit items for weeks, just can't wait another day to be sorted. Jobs that have evaded completion for months are now screaming, FINISH ME. Donation bags are filled up and are dropped off. Drawers are organized and closets are cleaned out. Loaves of pumpkin bread beg to be baked, and visions of fall flavored craftiness start to dance in my head. It's such a magical time, the shift from summer to fall... so full of potential. While I have to admit that I still long for the more obvious shift in the seasons that an Indiana autumn brings, I'm learning to make the best of a Florida fall. It's true... I miss the crisp, cool air of late September evenings. I miss the enchanting performance of the leaves each October, as they fade from summer greens to hues of orange, yellow, and red. I miss sweatshirts, and blue jeans, and hot cocoa at football games. And sometimes, as I trudge through the 90 degree heat and feel the sweat that is rolling down my back, I slip up and let it show. I resentfully mutter things underneath my breath. Things like, "October was never meant to be this hot!" Here's the thing though... I want my girls to know how special this season is, regardless of what the outdoor thermometer says. Anyway, lucky for them... they don't even know what they're missing. Okay, and in Florida's defense I should at least add that it pretty much has the whole,"winter weather", thing down.  So for now... we will light candles, and decorate. We will craft and bake. We will make fall flavored memories the best way we know how.

Beau and I laughed over how accurately this picture and the next represent our girls' personalities. Here you see our little perfectionist. Below you see...

...our little free spirit. (Free spirit sounds a lot sweeter than "our little mess.") She was sloppin' pumpkin bread batter all around. :)

The first batch of the season is always the best. Soooooo yummy!!

Don't feel too sorry for me, the cooler evenings will start making an entrance soon enough. And when they do, we'll be ready. We'll celebrate with sunset trips to the park, and late night runs for hot chocolate. What about you? Are you celebrating the shift in seasons? I want to hear about your favorite "Fall Nesting" ritual. Do you do anything special that gets you in the mood for fall? What about a favorite fall memory from seasons gone by?

I've been chatting with fabulous Thirty-One consultant, Laura Coles. We thought it would be fun to do a GIVEAWAY!! Need a new wallet? Well we're going to give you a chance to win one. This is a BRAND NEW item from Thirty-One.

Retro Metro Wallet

If you win you will have your choice of three great patterns. Want to be entered to win? Then follow these 3 simple steps!! Leave a comment here on this blog post. Tell me about your favorite fall ritual, tradition, or memory. (Comments left on Facebook are welcomed, but WILL NOT be entered in the drawing.) After you leave your comment, click on the Facebook icon below and share this post with the caption, THIRTY-ONE GIVEAWAY, CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS!!!. Last step, click here or type "Sit Down And Take A Brake" in the search box on Facebook, and "like" the page. After these three things are done, sit back and relax... you're in the running for this great new Thirty-One Wallet!!! Contest will be closed at 1:00 pm on October 6th. One comment will be randomly chosen via random.org and the winner will be announced on the same day. Don't go yet, there's more!!! LOVE Thirty-One products?! Laura is offering YOU a 10% discount off of your ENTIRE order, now through October 10th. If you want to take advantage of this great discount then click here, and then click "Place An Order". You will see a party that is named "Sit Down and Take a Brake", beside it there will be an option to "shop now." One thing to remember... you order will not be processed until Laura closes the party out on the 10th. Your 10% discount will be applied at that time. Happy shopping everyone, and HAPPY FALL!!!

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September 5, 2012

Sisterhood... A View From the Passenger Seat


Tonight, my heart melted. I use that expression in various forms... a lot. Too much probably, but sometimes I just don't know what else to say, well... when I feel my heart melt. It's an actual physical sensation, ya know?

You see, I've always wanted a sister. Always. I have two older brothers, and I love them dearly. We are very close, and I would put up a fierce fight to protect them. That being said, I was always a little bit resentful that I never got my sister. (I say that playfully.) As close as I am with my brothers, there is still something that they share with each other that's different from what they share with me. I mean, don't get me wrong... being the youngest and the only girl had it's perks at times, but nothing that I wouldn't have traded if it meant that I would get a sister. I used to sit and daydream about what it would be like to have a sister. I was aware that after I was born there were some permanent precautions that were put into place. Meaning... I was 3 of 3 with no chance for a 4th. Even still, I would imagine every possible scenario... maybe I had a long lost twin, or my parents would adopt a little girl, or maybe... just maybe, the doctors goofed up when they were administering those precautionary measures. Finally to come to terms with my disappointment, I would work to convince myself that having a sister probably would have been the pits. She would have been in my space and on my nerves. She probably would have been smarter, or prettier, or more likable. No doubt she would have been the favorite, I would tell myself. It would have never worked out between us. Then somewhere around the final scene of a knock-down, drag-out fight with my fictitious, imaginary sister... my mind would gradually shift back to a vision of complete harmony. There we were, like Susan and Sharon, reunited in The Parent Trap



We'd be singing and dancing to our very own rendition of "Let's Get Together." Just as we were shouting out the final refrain of, "yeah, yeah, yeah", complete with synchronized choreography and hairbrush microphones, the music would fade and I would drift back to reality and to the realization that I still wanted a sister... and didn't have one. Where am I going with this? Well, my story doesn't end there. I know that God heard my prayers all of those years and I like to think that just maybe He was smiling down as He, of course, could see what I had coming. No, I never got my sister, but look-y what I did get....

Heart. Melting.

Yes, I get THIS. I can't even say it's the next best thing because as far as I know... it's the best! When I wasn't daydreaming about having a sister, I was daydreaming about being a mama. More specifically, a mama to little girls. I imagined hair bows, and dresses, and frilly socks... oh my girls were destined to wear frilly socks. And one of my favorite things is this, ever so often and without warning, I have a "moment". You know, one of those heart-melters. It's like time stands still just long enough for me to soak in an image of perfected motherhood bliss. Many times when this happens, it feels vaguely familiar. Like a vision that once danced around in the mind of nine-year old daydreamer, and 20 years later, is now her reality. Tonight Beau walked in the livingroom with a big grin on his face. He told me to go look, that Teagan had fallen asleep in the bed with Morgan, and that they were all snuggled up together. I didn't know then that I was fixin' to have a "moment", but I did. See, the one thing I always wanted more than a sister, was a daughter. I'm so completely grateful that I was twice blessed. Not only did God give me a daughter, but He let me be a mama to sisters. It's everything I hoped it would be and greater than anything I could have dreamed up. I'm so thankful, and after all these years I've quit whining about the fact that I never got a sister... well, almost.

It seems like every day their relationship blossoms just a little bit more. Yes, there are times when a certain two-year old ruins the creation that a seven-year old just finished building, and tears of frustration are spilled. Or a certain seven-year old gets a little too motherly for the likings of an independent two-year old, and a siren of high pitched squealing commences. However, there are so many more moments that are completely blissful. Moments that hang in time like a snapshot in my mind. A vision of what I once pictured, and a memory that I will carry with me for years to come. I'm LOVING that I get to ride in the passenger seat and witness the beauty of a magical little journey called sisterhood. There's nowhere else I'd rather be.



Planning to be back in a few days, and I'm excited to say there will be a giveaway!! I'm ironing out the details with a very special Thirty-One consultant today!! Stay tuned!! If you haven't "liked" my Facebook page, please search for "Sit Down And Take A Brake" and give me a like! I hope that each of you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We spent the day relaxing with our favorite guy, who just happens to be the hardest working man we know. The picture above was taken at our bee yard, Beau was jumping off the hood of the truck to distract the girls from the fact that it was 90 degrees, we were being swarmed by gnats, and surrounded by tall, itchy grass. I wish I had a picture of his jumping performance! You're half way to Friday, do a little dance!!



August 17, 2012

A Letter to Me In 2018: Young Minds in the Age of Social Media

Hello there! Whew, life sure has been busy these past few weeks. There is so much that I would have enjoyed writing about, if only there were a few more hours in the day. I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine shortly and settling down just a bit. For now though, I have had some thoughts that have been heavy on my mind, and I want to put them into words. So, I'm making myself slow down for a few minutes to do it. There have been many, many times lately when I've been scrolling through the news feed on Facebook, and I find myself feeling SO incredibly grateful that social media didn't exist when I was a melodramatic 13-year old girl. Furthermore, I'm especially grateful that there was no outlet available by which I was able to share hundreds of photos of myself in a variety of awkward poses and positions for all to see. Let me be clear, I'm not claiming that hundreds of awkward photos of myself don't exist, they are just tucked safely away in a box beneath my bed. I like to tell myself that had Facebook existed when I was a 13-year old girl, my better judgment would have prevented me from posting about every small bit of drama that I faced. I mean, I would have had the established reasoning skills to recognize that posting about drama, begets drama... right? Or I think that if at any point I felt compelled to post 40 self-portraits in less than an hour with my tounge hanging out or sporting fish lips and a peace sign, well surely my better judgment would have prevailed and at the very least determined that... nah, two is enough. But alas, goodness knows that there were plenty of times where my better judgment failed me, so who is to say how 13-year old me would have maneuvered through the wide abyss known as Facebook. Seriously though, I'm concerned. Sincerely concerned. Facebook may not have existed when I was an adolescent, but it does exist today. It's a part of the world that my children, my nephews,  my friends' children, and my children's friends will grow up in. Some of what I'm seeing these days, scares me. I wish there was a way to issue a heartfelt, sincere warning to these young girls and boys. One that they would actually consider. I've seen a few instances where well-meaning individuals have tried to encourage a young mind to be more thoughtful in what they are sharing, and have been met with an, "I don't care, I'll say whatever I want and you can't stop me", attitude. Well, that's true. Unless a parent, or responsible caregiver is willing to step up and intervene, no observant bystander can stop them from posting whatever they want to post. Here is what I wish I could get through to these young minds. They should be the ones to desire and to determine to use more careful discretion in what they are posting. For themselves. Not because Grandma Polly or Uncle Joe is telling them to, but because they alone are establishing a reputation through their words and actions on Facebook, and unfortunately a bad reputation is not always easy to shake. A day may come when they will wise up and start using better judgment, unfortunately when an opinion has been formed in the minds of others, it's sometimes hard to go back and undo it. There are times that it's hard for me to grasp just how far reaching what we put on the internet can be, I know that some of these kids don't get it. It's easy for them to throw words out like daggers, when they are sitting behind the shield of a computer screen or a cell phone. It's easy for them to post about inappropriate behaviors when they only consider the small circle of their friends that may be reading it. I think back to things that I said or did when I was younger, I'm not suggesting that I was a thoughtless heathen, but I know I had my share of moments that weren't covered in glitter. I think about certain situations where an inconsiderate action or careless word or thought may have affected the way I was perceived by those involved. Then I imagine having those moments magnified and encased in a time capsule or as some may call it a "TIMELINE", to be read and reread by everyone that I know. It really is painful to witness and I am genuinely concerned for today's youth. I'm afraid that what they can't see now will one day slap them in the face like a bag of bricks and they will be ashamed and overwhelmed with regret. Unfortunately, I don't have a solution for the concerns I have expressed. I guess my hope is that maybe, just maybe... one or two young people will read this and will make the decision to be more cautious. Sure, your family may be embarrassed by what you are posting, but you are the one who you are hurting the most. Or maybe my hope is this... a parent of a 12 or 13 year old with a cell phone and two happy thumbs will read this and feel encouraged to protect their child by taking action. Yes, maybe it will cause a battle today, maybe they will "hate" you for a time. They don't have the comprehension to understand the consequences of their actions. SAVE them from themselves!! I want to write a letter to myself to help me to be encouraged. Not to the 2012 me but the 2018 me that will be the mother of a 13 year old girl. This is what I want ME to remember.

Dear Me in Two Zero Eighteen,

You are most likely struggling with the desire to give your daughter everything she wants, we both know that is something that has been an inward battle since the day that she was born. She, no doubt, is requesting a cell phone, an IPOD, an IPAD, a laptop, and whatever new technological advances that the past six years have provided. Be strong and fight against it. It is okay to give her some of these things, but she doesn't have to have it all. Set limits AND enforce boundaries. You will be more her friend by doing these things, than you will be by giving in to every one of what she thinks are her hearts' desires. She doesn't know what is best for her right now. The perspective of a teenage girl is cloudy and misleading. You know this, after all... you were one some time ago. She may not realize it now... but she is depending on you to help her through these turbulent years! She doesn't need passwords and privacy. Not where the internet and her well being are concerned. She may not understand it now, but if you stick to your guns, a day will come when it will all make sense to her. She will make foolish mistakes and poor decisions... just as you did, but she will appreciate that you didn't allow her to let those moments define her character in the eyes of all who know her, by allowing her to share them for all to see. Love her, hug her, kiss her, encourage her... just as you always have done. Praise her when she does well, but correct her when she is in need of correction. Most importantly pray for her, ask God to give you direction as you mold and shape the heart of your beautiful teenage girl. I've been praying for you for years as I've known your road would be difficult at times. I've striven earnestly to teach her and mold her throughout the early years, so that she will honor you and respect you during these more difficult years. Yes, I know that there will be trials to overcome, but don't give up and undo all that you and her daddy have worked together to teach her this far. Now is the time to be more diligent then ever. Talk with her, listen to her... hear her. It may be hard to imagine it now, but one day she can be your best friend because first you were her parent.

Sincerely,

You in Two Zero One Two


I know that there are many vigilant parents out there, and I am so grateful for the example that they lead by. There are also many wonderful young minds that I see on Facebook, and I love reading their posts and admire the example that they set as well. I only hope that I can help my girls get through those rough years and pray that they will be better people when they step out as young adults. I'm not interested in writing an "advice column", but these are some thoughts I've had bouncing around in my mind. If this helps no one else, maybe I can be encouraged by it in 6 years when I'm in a battle of wills with a sassy teenage girl. Now, I have two little girls who know nothing of status updates and think a friend request is when you ask someone to play tag at the park. They are waiting on me for some cuddles and a movie, duty calls.

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***I'm adding this because a few people have asked my permission to share it. If you think this could be useful to someone you know. By all means, please pass it on!

July 26, 2012

Time marches on... (If mush isn't your thing, then look away!)

I came across this picture today.


 It's one that was developed from a disposable camera from our wedding (obviously). We have several variations of this photo, as there were at least 10 little ones that ran up to us with camera in hand. I sat studying it for several minutes and got a little lost in time. My first thoughts were centered around the fact that, man... we're actually getting older. That's something that happens when you're not paying attention. One minute your a teenager... and the next minute, you look in the mirror and your reflection has changed a bit.

After I wrapped my head around the fact that I'm not 21 anymore, my thoughts shifted.  As I sat staring at this picture, it occurred to me that I did it. I actually married the cutest boy that I've ever known. I know, I know... you think that you married the cutest boy ever. I won't argue with you, but I can honestly say that I think that this boy... is by far the cutest!! I started thinking about my 16 year old self. If my 29 year old self walked up to my 16 year old self and handed her the picture above and said, "This is who you're going to marry." I think my 16 year old self would have done a back flip. He's totally her type... cute face, blue eyes, nice smile, perfect hands... 16 year old me would have totally been into him. Suddenly my balloon popped and I slowly made my way back down to earth. Without realizing it, a big goofy grin had formed across my face. It was so goofy that I actually glanced around, embarrassed as if someone may have been watching me and reading my thoughts. Ten and a half years have gone by since I was first smitten by his big blue eyes in the moonlight, and his sweet ride.

Throw a couple of surf boards on top, and that would complete the picture. (I grabbed this one off of Wikipedia.)

A few things have changed since then, but one thing remains the same... he's still the cutest boy I've ever known. I tell him that a lot, and he rolls his eyes and scoffs... "yeah, right." What can I say, it's true. Even when he makes me SO mad that I can't see straight, I can't deny to myself that he's cute.


Two babies later and tonight after dinner he whistled when I walked by. I grinned when I was out of his sight, because whether or not I want to admit it... it felt good. There is nothing that goes untouched by time, myself included, but he still loves me.  One night when Morgan was a few months old, we were laying in bed. I was emotional and fussing about changes with my body. Beau rolled over and put his hand on my tummy and said, "without those, we wouldn't have her", as he gently nodded in the direction of Morgan's bed. I melted. In that moment that was all I needed to hear. We've had our share of ups and downs... but on April 3, 2004 we stood before God, our family, and our friends and we made a vow to one another. It's because of the sanctity of that vow that when life throws us lemons, the thought of running doesn't even cross our minds. Our only choice is to work it out... together. We have to overcome trials just like anyone else, but I am thankful to be married to a man who is willing to stand by me while we work through them. The appearances of youth will fade, our bodies will grow old and feeble. Love, respect, kindness, compassion... these things will continue to grow stronger. Ten years from now I hope that I'm even more in love with my husband than I am today.

July 21, 2012

Summertime Memories and A GIVEAWAY!!



From the time we are small children, we understand that there is something special about memories that are made during the summertime. A couple of nights ago I started thinking about my own childhood memories of summertime. The girls were sound asleep... and the steady, rhythmic breathing coming from the couch in the next room told me that Beau had fallen asleep too. I sat in the darkness in front of a brightly lit screen, and with a few short clicks of the keyboard I typed... #1. I decided to put my memories in to words. Only the first ten, typing as they came to me. I closed my eyes and leaned back in my chair, as I quickly began to retrace the steps in my mind. My first memory stopped me somewhere around the late 80's/early 90's. I found it tucked away in a folder marked with the inscription... "Childhood Memories: Summertime Edition". I flipped it opened to take a peek, and here are the first 10 that I found...

#1. It's nighttime and I'm in the back seat of a car that's driving down a country road surrounded by cornfields. I don't think this is a specific memory, but a collection of memories that represent an experience that I loved as a child. The windows are down and the wind is whipping through my hair. As I peer out the window, the fields are twinkling with 1,000 tiny lights. Lightning bugs. The twinkling of the field is mirrored by the grandeur of a sky glowing with thousands of brightly lit stars . I'm sure this scenario repeated itself hundreds of times throughout my childhood. I still love to drive down country roads at night with the windows down. There's just something about the smell of a field at night on a dark road, while the wind wraps itself around you. Pure. Magic.

#2. My dad and his moped. When we were kids my dad had this black moped. It was bigger than the small little scooters that you see now, but smaller than a motorcycle. There were several times this one summer, my dad stuck me on the back of that moped and gave me a ride to the public swimming pool. The thought of it makes me laugh out loud... seriously. I'm not kidding... right now I'm laughing. It makes me think of that scene in Dumb and Dumber. You know... when they're on the moped. Whatever, you know what I'm talking about. Anyway, we lived in rural Indiana at the time so it wasn't like we were fighting traffic, actually we were probably passed up by a few tractors. I don't remember why we took the moped, or how my brothers got to the pool for that matter. Anyway, speaking of my brothers and the moped...that leads me to memory #3.

#3. Same moped, different summer. In this memory, we're at our house in Chesterfield. It was a hot, sticky summer evening. We're a little older at this point and my dad would let us take turns driving the moped from our front porch to the small creek at the back of our neighbor's property, which was a pretty good lap. My brother, I won't tell you which one... (starts with J, and rhymes with posh), was driving the moped when he took a bit of a spill. My mom frantically leapt from the porch to run to my brother's side. Well, it just so happened that a group of Chesterfield hooligans were meandering by at the exact same moment. Those heathens had the nerve to laugh at my brother?! Oooooh, no! Sista don't play like that. My blood boiled. I marched out to the road and gave them an earful of the trashiest trash talk that my 11 year old self could muster up. That's right... they kept on walking. But not before I spit on one of them and my mom ran over to hold me back... sorry I got carried away. The spitting is just completely untrue, but I'm not kidding about the smack talk.

#4. The ball park. I happen to hold the opinion that every kid should have childhood memories that involve bleachers, dirt, sweat, and the stickiness that comes from half sucked lollipops, Fun Dip, and Big League Chew. I probably won't be sticking my kids on the back of a moped any time soon, but I'm firm on this one. My babies will have memories of the ball park.

#5. Box fans in opened windows at night. If you know me, then you know that I have this thing about wind. If I received an offer to live in a wind tunnel, well... if I could persuade my husband then I might consider it. Our wedding was on the beach, which of course included wind. I can't sleep without a fan. I took my own fan to the hospital with me when I delivered both of my girls. Life is just better when you add a good breeze! When I was growing up, we always had box fans in opened windows on summer nights. The coolness it provided, the crisp smell of the night air, the sound of singing crickets barely audible beneath the steady hum of the fan... mmm... just the thought of it makes me want to grab an afghan and curl up on the couch. 

#6. Camp. My mom would always take me shopping and let me pick out all of my own toiletries a few days before camp. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, a new sponge, deodorant, shaving gel, razors, a new toothbrush, toothpaste...the works. And only the best... we're not talking about Suave here people... we're talking Pantene, maybe Herbal Essences... okay? Now, to a 12 year old girl with a hot pink and black Caboodle, let's just say it was kind of a big deal. I'd always get to pick out new socks and undies, some new knee length (FC regulation, of course) shorts, and a new white pair of canvas tennis shoes. (Not sure at what age I quit requesting those.) Anyway, camp has it's own separate file in my mind, and trust me...it's busting open with great memories. One last thought on that. I realize now what a financial sacrifice it was for my parents to send the three of us to camp each summer. (And in our latter years to two camps, Minnesota and Indiana.) I will be forever grateful for the memories that they allowed us to create by making that sacrifice.

#7. The Grahams & Kelley Veneskey. This isn't a specific memory and I'm going to have to double up because I'm running out of numbers, but I have to say something about The Grahams and Kelley. As I've been typing, I've thought of several memories that include The Grahams, or Kelley. Both were such a huge part of my life growing up in Indiana. The Grahams are my second family. I could type for hours of the memories that I have of growing up with them, and still not come close to getting them all out. Our families went to church together, went camping together, took road trips together, celebrated holidays together, got together for game nights every weekend... I could go on and on. Karen, Becky, Julie, and Terri are the closest thing that I've ever had to sisters. They are still family to me, and always will be. Kelley - to this day when someone in my family talks about Kelley... we know who they referring to, no Veneskey needed. She was my best friend during some of the most important years of my life. You know, that time in your life when you can say anything and not have to worry about sounding like an adult. That... not a girl, not yet a woman phase. She was my Kelley. She saw me through my earliest heart aches, and made me laugh harder than just about anyone ever has. We had BOXES full of inside jokes written out into notes which were then folded craftily and adorned with acronyms such as, L.Y.L.A.S and B.F.F.A.A.D, and topped off with a 4U2C-ONLY. I've only seen Kelley one time since I've been a bonified adult. I was pregnant with Morgan and she happened to be in Florida on vacation. I pulled out a box of those old notes that I was talking about and we laughed until we cried as we tried to decipher our code words and remember the details of our inside jokes. When school was out for the summer, I always had more time with The Grahams, and Kelley. Late nights, sleepovers, good times...

#8. KOOL-AID POPSICLES! Who else had them?! The little tupperware popsicle containers that you poured Kool-aid into and then stuck in the freezer. Grape was my favorite. Note to self: search ebay and find some of these. This may be a firm requirement for my girls as well.

#9. My dad and the weather. If there was a storm coming, he would always walk out on the porch and study the sky. When I was 4 or 5 and we were living in Illinois, we had a close call during a breakout of big tornadoes. My dad was out of town that night, and it brings tears to my eyes as I recall how terrified my mother was as she did everything in her power to ensure that her babies were protected. I have so many vivid memories of that night, but I won't go into all of the details because I'm on a roll with good memories and that was a very scary night for me. Basically, I grew up with a fear of tornadoes. Probably not too uncommon of a fear for a kid growing up in the Midwest. Where did I find solace? My dad. I trusted him, especially when it came to the weather. I knew that if it was going to be bad, he would make sure we got to a safe place. It's funny because Beau is very much the same way. Only, he can pull up the radar on his iphone. I never saw my dad do that.

#10. I'm officially cheating because I'm gonna double up... again. I have to say something about watermelon and Mason jars. I can't imagine a summer without watermelon, nor do I want to. I grew up on watermelon, I think that's why I'm so sweet. ;) I love, love, love me some cold, crisp watermelon. We put a little salt on ours and the summer simply can't start without it. And Mason jars... well, let's just say my mama had us drinking out of Mason jars before Pottery Barn slapped some in their magazine and called 'em chic. Mmm... a Mason jar packed to the lip with ice and beverage, the cold glass against the warmth of summer forming little beads of sweat that slowly roll down the sides pushing away the heat of the day. There's nothing like a cold drink from a Mason jar. Okay, so now I feel compelled to talk about bologna sandwiches with lettuce and Miracle Whip... because obviously that's what you eat for lunch on a summer day when you are drinking an ice cold drink from a Mason jar... BUT I'll stop here.

Oh, there are so many more memories. Stories with my beloved brothers, and corn fields, and water hoses, and cool grass under bare feet, and dirty feet on hot pavement, and sleepovers, and sprinklers, and swimming pools, and good friends, and late nights, and... maybe this post will require an encore. I'm bummed that I didn't dig out some fun pictures to accompany this post when I was at my parent's house a few weeks ago. BUT, for now, you have a sampling of my childhood memories of summa, summa, summatime!

That was fun... and refreshing. In fact, it was so good... that I think that you should do it too! I want to hear about your favorite memory from summertime as a child. Guess what?! It's time for a GIVEAWAY! (Enter brass band, balloons dropping and confetti cannons.) That's right, one commenter on this post will receive their very own $25 gift card! (Winner may have their choice of either a Walmart or Publix gift card.) Seeing as how this blog is just getting rolling, I'd say the odds will be pretty good. ;)

THE DETAILS: To participate, share your favorite SUMMERTIME memory from your childhood, in the comments portion at the bottom of this blog. Only comments left here on the blog will be entered in the drawing. After you share your memory, visit the Sit Down And Take A Brake Facebook page, and hit like! After that, you are in the running! Want to increase your chance of winning? Share the link on your Facebook page, and get an additional entry in the drawing. To make sure that your "share" gets counted, send a message to Sit Down And Take A Brake on Facebook with the word "SHARED." The winner will be selected via Random.org, and will be announced on Facebook no later than Wednesday at 9:00 PM EST. Talk about an easy $25, perfect opportunity to grab yourself a watermelon and some Mason jars! ;) Until then... share it, shout it, pass the word to all of your friends! Oh, and happy recollecting everyone!

Summer ain't over yet!! Drink it up!!

July 17, 2012

Letting Go and Lessons Learned... at Skateland


 Last night at the skating rink, Morgan asked me if she could skate in the race. Secretly, I didn't want her to. I was hoping that she'd be content sitting on the sidelines as a spectator for just a little while longer. You see, we don't go skating very often... and she's just starting to get the hang of it. I don't like to underestimate my children, but let's just say that I'm aware that roller skating isn't quite yet one of her strengths. Somehow I managed to be mildly enthusiastic as I said, "Sure, if that's what you want to do. Just remember that as long as you try your hardest, that's all that matters." I was afraid that she would go out there and end up getting hurt, and I'm not talking about broken bones.

The whistle blew and the "black and white striped shirts" cleared the floor, it was time for the races to begin. Morgan was so excited, she had reminded me at least five times in the two minutes prior, that the races were about to start. I watched as she slowly made her way to the starting line. The whistle blew, and she was off. Sort of. She fell immediately, but then got back up. As she was leaving the line, another little girl was rounding the rink and coming up the other side. Obviously, it was not going to be a close race, but my Morgan kept going. She fell again, and got back up. Then again, and got back up. She rounded the end of the rink where one of my girlfriends, Teagan and I stood cheering for her. When she saw us she didn't skate over to the edge in defeat, but gave us a big grin and kept going. Falling several more times, but getting back up. She made it back around to the starting line, where one of the "black and white striped shirts" ushered her off of the rink. I watched from across the rink as she crumpled to a heap on the floor to rest.

During the few minutes it took her to make her way around the rink, I think I fought harder to choke back tears than I ever have. I'm not even sure which descriptive emotion to use to explain myself. It's hard not being able to reach out and grab your child's hand when they fall down so that you can guide them to the finish line. At the same time, I was so proud of her. She's never been much of a quitter, and even though she was one of the last... she finished. A few minutes later she made her way around to me and being true to her inner drama queen, let out an exasperated, "Whew", before falling into my lap. She was trying to fight off a big grin and this time I didn't have to try hard to sound enthusiastic as I told her how well she did. I let her know that I was so proud of the way that she kept going and told her that she'd really be set to race the next time. She smiled and nodded, then asked when the races would be over so that she could go skate again.

Somewhere between watching her fall down, watching her get back up, and seeing that big ol' grin on her face, something occurred to me. This is such a big part of who I want her to be. I've always encouraged her not to worry about what people think when it comes to being yourself and having fun. In other words, don't let someone else hold you back because they are worried about looking silly. I was worried for her, that she would end up disappointed or embarrassed. But she wasn't. She taught me a big lesson in a little area of life I like to call, "WHO CARES?" Are you having fun? And did you try your hardest? Well then, who cares how many times you fell down!? I think that sometimes we lose a little bit of that when we turn into adults. (By the way, when does that happen?) Anyway, I felt a little bit ashamed of myself that I mentally voted for her to sit it out, just so there wouldn't be a chance for her to get hurt. (And by that I mean that I didn't want her to feel bad if she didn't do well.) That's not the standard I want her to use when making decisions in life. Besides, how can we improve if we never start trying? So, last night gave me a lot to think about. I learned that sometimes our children teach us lessons that are as valuable as the ones we try to teach them. AND sometimes they teach us these lessons using tools that we've given them. I'm so proud of her and I hope that she NEVER, ever loses the confidence that enables her to fall down in front of hundreds of people, and then get up and give 'em a grin!

And now, for your viewing pleasure... our night at Skateland!

It was a big night for Teagan too! She rocked her first pair of skates, as well as her first French braid!!
So thankful for our good friends who loaned us these sweet little skates!
This girl did a lot of falling down too!
And a lot of getting back up with a grin!
Morgan and her sweet friend Lydia! (Her poor brother did end up with a broken bone!) Roller skating is dangerous business people!
Slowin' down for a pose!
Naturally, Ms. Independent didn't want my help when she stepped out onto the rink. After about her 15th fall she finally REQUESTED my assistance!
My little racing star warming up before the big meet! ;)
Sweet girls, making sure Teagan felt included!

So remember,

It's not the number of times you fall down that matter, but the number of times that you get back up that count!


I'm very excited about an upcoming post that includes a giveaway! Also, I've created a page on Facebook for Sit Down And Take A Brake. If you haven't had a chance, please drop in and give it a "like".  You can also subscribe at the top right of your screen! As always... thank you, thank you, thank you for your encouragement and support!! I'll be back soon!! 

July 14, 2012

Lessons From Big Blue

I was blessed to be without a car for the entire month of June. While it inconvenienced me greatly, I'm calling it a blessing. What's that, I'm not making any sense? Well, I've been trying to focus lately on just how blessed I am. I mean, really think about it. There are so many in this world who are suffering in ways I could never imagine. When you put it into perspective, it seems very silly to complain about a broken down car. I think that sometimes the best way to appreciate what we have, is to go without it for a while. I've used this same principal in the past to teach my daughters a lesson. I'm afraid that many Americans live such rich, comfortable lives... that sometimes when things don't go exactly as we plan...well we throw a tantrum like an unruly toddler. Life will be filled with trials and adversity, but there is a peace that comes with finding contentment through tribulation.

*****************************************************************************

So, there I was... at the very beginning of summer, without a car. At first we thought it was a small repair, so we left it to sit in... "the shop." Oh, and by... "the shop", I mean the driveway. We thought we'd save a few pennies by letting my ever so talented, jack-of-all-trades husband take a look at it. The problem with that... is this. When you are a jack-of-all-trades, your plate tends to stay pretty full. One week passed and we quickly realized that Beau's Automotive Repair Center, wasn't getting very good nods from the BBB. So...Plan B, get someone to come look at it. Mechanic hopeful #1 thought he could make it out within the week, then mechanic hopeful #2 thought he could make it out within the next week. I went out of town for a week and put the whole thing out of my mind. Upon my return, I realized that putting it out of my mind did not result in a magical repair that left me with a fully functioning vehicle. SO, I picked up the phone and called for a tow. Long story short, I have my car back now. Turns out it was not a small repair, but I'm ever so grateful to have a running vehicle. Fingers crossed that it stays that way!

There's a rainbow in the clouds. Let's talk about home. Turns out there is a lot of good that comes from just relaxing and spending some time at home. I'm not the most qualified to discuss this considering that I had occasional access to my in-laws' vehicles during my stint of house arrest, AND I spent a week at my mom and dad's house. A week which included visiting with family, time at the beach, the pool, gator chasing, and a trip to Disney World. However, I was home much more than I would have been had Big Blue been up and running. (I've never called my car Big Blue. I just felt like I needed something there.) So, what valuable lessons did I learn about the goodness of being home. Well, for starters...there is no rushing around to find a lost shoe or make sure that you remembered to pack the wet wipes as you frantically strap two little bodies in to the car so that you can fight traffic to get to where you are going. I'm a girl that likes to be on the go, but admittedly, it was a nice change of pace. 

We broke rules...I'm talkin' snow cones for breakfast. (I whispered that last part there.)

 

Suckin' it dry!


As always, chipped pink fingernail polish and tiaras are optional. 

Followed by oatmeal... of course!


 We played with ponies...



We rode bikes...


 And took morning walks...

Our $2 garage sale find. It's seen better days but Teagan LOVES it!!




We played with bubbles...




We... laughed, and danced, played with sidewalk chalk, read books, colored, played games, watched movies, made crafts, took naps, baked cookies, dressed up, pretended we were royalty, pretended we were animals, pretended, pretended, pretended...all within the boundaries of the place we call home.

So, when I talk about how blessed I am. I don't mean that I have the most, the best, or the nicest. I think that it's easy to get caught up in comparing our lives to the lives of others. A friend left this quote on a Facebook status of mine a few weeks ago: The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick

In the age of Facebook and Pinterest, it's easy to look and compare, which can lead us to feel like our own lives are lacking. Here's the thing, nothing of this world can go with us when we're gone. SO WHAT, about designer clothes, and fancy cars. So. What. I've got clothes on my back and a Durango named Big Blue, who happens to be running well at the moment AND with A/C that's ice cold. I'll take it. Life is all about perspective. I'm learning, there will always be someone who has more than you, bigger than you, and better than you. On the other hand... for most of us there will always be someone who has less, smaller, and worse. If we spend our lives chasing more, more, more... then there is a good chance our lives will pass us by without ever tasting the peace that comes with being content. I'm not suggesting that we can't work to better our lives, and strive to achieve goals that will improve our way of living. But, we need to always be aware of the blessings in our lives, regardless of how big or small they may be. We shouldn't lose sleep over the desire to have a nicer kitchen or a bigger closet filled with fancier clothes. It seems that many times the folks in this world that have an abundance of wealth and the finest of earthly possessions, are still seeking. Enjoy life while you have it. It's something that can easily be taken away, so make the best of your circumstances today. Something to think about...one day this life will come to an end. There is no way to get around that. When that day comes, it won't matter how much you owned, how nice your house was, or whether you carried a Coach bag. It won't matter if you had perfectly polished toes or if your hair was always in place with fresh highlights. It won't matter if your skin was flawless and your teeth were straight and white. Nor will it matter if you drove a nice car, wore expensive jewelery, or went on extravagant vacations. Trust me, I like to feel good and get pampered just as much as the next girl. I enjoy getting dolled up and slipping into some new clothes. I like pretty things. My point is, they are all things. There are more important things in life. In the end, what we owned and how we looked won't matter. The way we choose to live our lives will. Make the best with what you've been given. This world is not our home. Have a great weekend everyone!

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matt. 6:19-21

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July 9, 2012

Life's A Teacup, DRINK IT UP!!!

WOW!!! My life has felt like a whirlwind lately!! I can't believe it's already July!! Let's see...what's new since we've last met? Well, I'm now the proud mama of a beautiful seven-year old. 


Morgan's seven-year photos. We pulled off a dirt road and took them in an old orange grove. We were hungry and Teagan was in her car seat yelling, "I want out!",  which was motivation to move quickly. I think we were done in about 10 minutes. I didn't get a lot of big smiles but often times when I ask her to smile, it looks forced. That's why I love candid photography. Thankfully I have LOTS of her smiling. She's getting in to this "serious" posing business these days! See for yourself! :)






So, seven... I've been thinking a lot about this. Seven just sounds so much older than six. I really can't believe that we are here... and so soon! There is a window that is raised when a child is born. It is opened wide with a view to all the magic that childhood can hold. I'm aware that with each birthday that passes, that window closes ever so slightly. I know, I know...she's ONLY seven, but sometimes my mind runs away with me. I've always done this thing where I say, "double the time we've had her and she'll be...". I do it because I can never quite figure out how it's possible that time can move so quickly. It started at 6 months. I said, double the time we've had her and she'll be a year. Then at 18 months, double the time and she'll be three. Then at three, double the time and she'll be six! Now, she's seven...double that and you get fourteen. Sometimes Beau has to help me make my way back down to Earth by reminding me of just how much time that really is. Maybe that's true, but it certainly has flown by. I know that these next seven will too. It tugs at my heart a little, but here's the thing. Knowing that it's going to fly by gives me motivation. Motivation to fill these next few years with as many magical memories as possible. I know that a day will soon come where she won't buy into my letters from the tooth fairy, or my tales of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. It is up to us, up to me...to be sure that the space in her brain that is labeled "Childhood Memories", is filled to capacity with as much magic as possible. Of course there will be a space for life lessons and discipline acquired, those may not be covered in glitter but I realize that they are equally important and just as necessary, and one day she will too.  There is so much I need to teach her and I know the time for that is now. It's easy to pull out the boxing gloves at night when I'm in bed and beat myself up. I didn't do this, or I should have said that. I lost my cool there, or why didn't I ask that here. Trial and error is a part of parenting, and thank God that children are forgiving little beings. This is what I'm praying for now, that God will guide and direct me as I raise my girls. That He will give me the patience and wisdom that I need to handle situations that arise. That He will give me the strength to get back up when I stumble, or fall short. That I will be the best that I can be, and that I will provide for them in all that they need. Spiritually. Emotionally. Physically.

And this girl?

Life's a TEACUP baby, drink it up!!
 Well, let's just say she buys me some time. I remember when we made the decision to go for two, I was so incredibly torn. I was so worried that having a second child would somehow throw a wrench in the bond that I share with Morgan. Silly me, I was so wrong. That magic I'm talking about building in Morgan's memories? Teagan has multiplied that magic in ways I could never describe. She's feisty, spunky, and sweet. She keeps all of us on our toes for sure, but I know that she will extend the magic in our house. The four and a half years between my girls means that one day Morgan will be a player in building the magic for Teagan in those final years before her window drops shut. I know that life is filled with magical moments beyond childhood. Trust me, the experiences and emotions that motherhood has brought me are absolutely some of the best that I have. But there is something about childhood memories...no worries, no clouded judgment, no prejudice, no disbelief. When we're not looking, ever so gradually, those qualities fade. I know that I am establishing a pattern that they will one day repeat with my grandchildren. (If we're all so blessed.) My hope is that it is a pattern worthy of repetition.

And why does my heart swell when I sit back and read my thoughts that I've just put into words? Certainly not because I'm a grammar queen, or a spelling champion. Here it is...I read this quote this morning:

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." ~Anais Nin

Yes, that just about sums it up. I want to taste this again one day. 

If you are interested in following along with me, well...I'd love your company. Please join to the right of your screen. Planning to catch up with another post in a few days. Until then...drink it up baby!


June 15, 2012

I hate you...

Tonight something happened. I had one of those moments. You know, the kind that you always hear about... but you kind of think, maybe we'll never go through that. Then when it happens and all is said and done, you sit back and think..."Ooooh, that was it." Well tonight we confronted the "I hate you moment." Wait, don't go!! I promise it gets better. It didn't go at all like you see it in the movies, and SO much good came from it. Here's how it unfolded... I tucked the girls into their beds and came straight to the computer and sat down to start typing. I hadn't even had time to touch the keyboard when Morgan came walking in behind me. I asked her what she needed, and right away I could tell something was weighing on her mind. Let's see...what were her exact words? Oh, yes..."we need to have a conversation." Hesitantly, she began to speak. "Well, I need to tell you something, but I'm scared to say it." This is how she starts anytime she tells me something she is embarrassed about, or worried that she might get in trouble over. "Go ahead", I encouraged her. "Well, I don't think I can tell you." "Morgan, you can tell me anything, now go on." In a very worried voice, she began to explain. "Well, sometimes when I get in trouble, and you send me to my room, well...I get angry." "Uh-huh",  I nodded for her to continue. Stammering on she added, "And well... I know it's not good, and it's not true. I mean... I don't mean it, and I don't know why I say it." "Morgan, what are you trying to tell me?" She lowered her head and said quietly, "it's about the H word." "Hate?", I asked. "Yes", she said softly. Tears sat puddled on the lower lids of her eyes, and her honesty and vulnerability melted me. She continued,  "When I turn the corner to go down the hallway, I stomp my feet and I whisper under my breath that I hate you. But I promise I don't mean it and I don't know why I say it." Now, if there is one thing that I'm confident about, it's the love that I share with my girls. Instinctively I scooped her up in my lap and said, "well, I love you anyway." My little girl, so innocent and tender. I asked her quietly if she understood what that word means. She shook her head, and I explained that when you hate something, you don't want it to be a part of your life. We looked up the definition of the word and by the time I read it she was sobbing. Pleadingly she explained that she didn't know it meant that, and that I'm the best mama in the world. She would never want me to not be a part of her. "I'm so sorry, mama!" I held her tightly and assured her that nothing she could say would ever make me stop loving her. We talked about feelings and how everyone gets angry sometimes. How learning to control that anger is the part that's challenging. I told her that I probably whispered the same thing to Nina when I was a girl. Then I sat back and said, look at us now - we're best friends! She smiled and nodded. Here is where it gets really good. She was feeling much better and just as I was about to send her back to bed, she asked..."can we have a Mama and Morgan date soon?" And in the name of spontaneity it just came out..."why not now?", I asked.  She looked confused..."huh?" "Quick", I said. "Go throw some clothes on!"

 We quietly slipped out at 9:45 on a Thursday night and drove to Starbucks. We laughed the entire time. At a stop light on the way there, she looked out the window and exclaimed. "People are out walking at this time of night?!" You see, 9:45 is a big deal when you're six! (I'm over-using six since I only have one week left to use it!)

Watching them make our drinks.

She wanted to wear her masquerade mask and cheerleading skirt.... good for you girl!


Everything she said while wearing "the mask" was even funnier because she didn't even look like herself.

Don't forget the whip!!!

When ever she wears this big claw she refers her hairstyle as, "The Tornado".


I love moments where she is completely herself....regardless of who is watching.


We "did cheers" five times.... Just to be safe!

Thank you God for the tender conscience of this child. Please help me figure out how to maintain and preserve it. Amen.

Oh, what's that? You want to know what I'm thinking now? Well, I'm glad you asked! See, parenting is tough sometimes. When you decide to have a baby, you think about coos and kisses and cleaning up messes. Sleepless nights with a fussy baby are your biggest concern. Then that baby grows up, and they ask lots of questions, sometimes hard ones. Situations arise that require a lot of prayer and consideration before you can decide the best way to confront them. Tonight, my girl came to me. She needed me to comfort her, to tell her it was okay. I know that as the years go by, not every tough conversation will lead to a "drop everything and run to Starbucks moment". I'm happy to take it one mile at a time, and tonight it did. There have been many times where I've looked back and felt like I got it wrong, and with all of the second guessing that parenting sometimes brings... I'm happy to celebrate a moment that I feel confident about. Moments like the one tonight, well...it may seem small to some. But I feel like these are the moments that will pave the way for our relationship in the years ahead. I want her to know that she can come to me with her thoughts, big or small. Tonight reassured her of that. It's my prayer that we will always have an open line of communication, regardless of the consequences that may follow.  Six-year old girls are sometimes sassy. I'm pretty sure that's well documented. My girl can be sassy with the best of them, but she has a tender heart. Knowing that she is so mindful of the feelings of others, it makes me smile that in our "I hate you moment", she "whispered it under her breath". SO you could say that I'm entirely grateful for the night we had. Through her vulnerability and humility, we were able to connect in a way that has strengthened our relationship. I love her. She grew inside of me. I've cared for her. Nurtured her. Disciplined her. Hugged her. Kissed her. Encouraged her. I know how she feels about me, she shows me everyday. No words are needed for that. I know.


Happy Friday everyone! If you are interested in following along with me on this blog, then by all means, please do!! You can join at the right hand side of the screen. Have a wonderful weekend!!