Tuesday, February 28, 2023

February 28--Moving Westward

Always kiss your children goodnight--even if they're already asleep. 
--H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

    But of course! My son sent the most adorable photo of my grandson yesterday afternoon whereupon Grammie had a meltdown. JOY!!
    We traveled yesterday from Savannah back to Panama City Beach, picking up our host's dog from the relatives who were dog-sitting. That was one happy pup, to reunite with Mom. We unloaded our vehicle, got laundry started, and put on our suits. We glided into the pool and stayed there till sunset. The evening was mighty fine pizza and cocktails enjoyed during a hilarious game of Rummikub. 
    We are staying one more day here, so right now, it's off to the golf course...


Monday, February 27, 2023

February 27--Moms Rock!

I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.  --Oprah Winfrey

    I hope that has been the case for me. I remember that when our sons were teenagers, they truly thought Mom was out in left field spiritually. Later, in college, they started speaking the ideas I had shared with them earlier back to me like they had just discovered something completely new. Big smile. 
    Savannah, we love you! So much fun! Yesterday we went out of the city to Wormsloe Historical Site and did a one-mile hike that lasted 3.75 miles. The trail signs (colored arrows) and map (no color indications) were poorly marked and we got lost. However, it was a lovely walk with big live oaks, marshlands and birdsong. 
    Later we roamed around City Market and had lunch and shopped. Below are some of the funnies we saw. We capped off our visit with a great spaghetti and meatball dinner at Corleone's. Of course, we finished off the day with card-playing. 
    Today we return to Panama City Beach, starting our trek homeward. 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

February 26--Another Day in Paradise

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. 
--Desmond Tutu

    I believe that in some way I don't understand that we DO choose our family. In some instances, I wonder what the hell I was thinking!!?! I did make an excellent selection for my dad and oldest brother. Now I do get to choose my "friend family," and it is the best!
    Yesterday's Savannah adventure included a walk to Cafe M for a French pastry breakfast. As is typical, I got us lost on the way there (seriously, it was right down and across the street from our hotel). But our wanderings took us down to the beautiful riverfront, where we found the Christmas shop (an ornament being one of the must-haves of my travel bud) and a Life Is Good store, which is my favorite clothing brand. After shopping we rode the trolley for the full tour. This is a gorgeous city with loads of amazing architecture and history. 
    The evening was capped off with a fabulous dinner at Elizabeth on 37th. It is a restaurant in a beautiful old home. It was by far the best and most expensive meal I've ever had, an extraordinary treat. 
    And of course, we finished off the day with card-playing--we played 31, and since we had no coins, we played with EmergenC packets 😄
    Ready for more fun!
Approaching Elizabeth on 37th

Saturday, February 25, 2023

February 25--Interesting, But No Ghosts

We must take care of our families wherever we find them.  --Elizabeth Gilbert

    We are now in Savannah. We went on a ghost and pub tour last night. There was some interesting history, and we had some great key-lime-flavored shots. We did not see any ghosts. The "story" of the tour for us was that a very high/drunk bridal party latched onto us and told us their life stories and made us their new best friends. They were a beautiful bunch of girls, and it was quite a hoot. 
    The hotel, in some mysterious way that no one could figure out, messed up our reservation and cancelled one of our rooms. The three of us stayed in one room last night, thankfully with two queen beds. Our travel agent managed to get the second room back for tonight and Sunday. 
    I think we'll be doing the hop-on/hop-off trolley today. I'm excited to see the many beautiful squares in the daylight. 
    Up and moving,

Bradley Lock & Key Shop--
the oldest still-operating 
business in Savannah

Friday, February 24, 2023

February 24--Making Family Memories

Sticking with your family is what makes it a family.  --Mitch Albom

    You have to love a vacation when each day keeps getting better than the previous one. My three soul sisters and I are creating a very awesome family. 
    Yesterday four of us played 18 holes at Riviera Country Club. It's a very woman-friendly course, the weather was perfect, and we had a great time. Oh, yes, loads of laughter. But no alligators. This fulfilled one of my "bucket list" items. 
    After an assorted-snack lunch, we drove to Barberville and enjoyed the Yard Art Emporium there. Photos cannot do it justice. It's overwhelming, beautiful, crazy (photos below). You can get a full-size dinosaur or a full-size Virgin Mary. I bought three suns to hang on our garden fence, plus a couple gifts. Then our host took us on a scenic drive, where we marveled at a 2000-year-old live oak. Yes, two thousand. Then we drove along the ocean, saw lots of million-dollar homes, and stuck our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. The water was not as cold as expected. 
    The evening... squeal!! Our host's daughter surprised him by coming from Amsterdam for his 70th birthday. We were able to keep it a surprise, yippee!! Wild celebration and family joy ensued. 
    Today three of us head to Savannah, leaving one of our soul sisters at home in Florida (😀😞)
    Is it possible to have too much fun!?!?!

Looking up the 2000 year old live oak

Don't you want one in your garden?

I did not hit a ball into THAT pond.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

February 23--NO PARKING!

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there. 
--Barbara Bush

    There's been a lot of hugging going on! We moved yesterday from Panama City Beach to Ormond Beach, and I did not have to drive any of it, yippee!! We saw so much devastation still remaining from Hurricane Michael which went through in 2018. We also got the idea on I-95 that they don't want one to park in this area: 

    Heading out to golf!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

February 22--SISTERS!!!

For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather.  --Christina Rossetti

    As I sit by the pool this morning, the early fog has been burned away by our magnificent sun (Astronomy Picture of the Day below). Soon I will be in the bathtub-warm water by my side 😀
    Sisters!!! I am currently having fun with three soul sisters, and yesterday was a heavenly day of relaxation. We lazed in the pool, went out for a Thai feast at lunch, and finished off the day playing Rummikub. Game-playing is a huge source of laughter and bitch-calling amongst this bunch.
    Today we move on from the home (resort!) of one to the home of another further east in Florida. It is winter back home, so I am most grateful to be closer to our sun!

Note the size of Earth
in the upper right corner

Soul Sisters

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

February 21--Four Mothers

A mother is a story with no beginning. That is what defines her. 
--Meghan O'Rourke

    This mother is on a road trip, and now enjoying a stay at the home of a friend in Florida. This is my view: 

About a mile beyond those trees is the Gulf of Mexico. Though the morning is breezy and cool, the pool water is warm, and I will soon be in it. 
    Yesterday's journey of 300+ miles was broken up by a round of golf at Lagoon Park near Montgomery, Alabama. I'm tickled to get my first round of the year played in February! The course is mostly flat, fairly soggy and loaded with mature trees. We had fun! 
    Now I am having massive girl fun with three other mothers. I ponder that we grew up in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida and Kansas, and here we are, celebrating life and love together. I guess we fulfill the quote nicely. 
    Ready for a dip!
NOT a golf course in Kansas!

Monday, February 20, 2023

February 20--My Soul Is Comforted!

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings.  --Hodding Carter

    An oft-repeated quote of my own: We raised our children to be independent, and dammit, they are. My retired husband was out to dinner with our younger son recently, and when the check came, our son grabbed it. My husband tried to talk our son into letting him pay, and our son, straight-faced, replied: "You don't even have a job!" Huge laughter ensued, and our son paid the check. 😂 
    Yesterday's drive from Conway, Arkansas to Birmingham, Alabama (just over 400 miles) was easy and in many parts quite lovely. The highlight of our day was lunch at Aunt B's Soul Food in Tupelo, Mississippi. (Mississippi is fun to type, Mississippi!) It was a home-cookin' total comfort meal. I'm in love with any place that makes really good mac 'n' cheese, so I left a piece of my heart at Aunt B's. See photos below. 
    Today's destination is Panama City Beach.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

February 19--EWWWWW! YUMMY!

Every child begins the world again.  --Henry David Thoreau

    My six-month-old grandson is getting used to his new high chair and learning to eat "real" food. His dad, being an excellent chef, is having great fun introducing new foods. Have you ever seen a little one trying assorted foods for the first time? It's a riot--the faces, the rejection, the wide open mouth that says, "more, more!" Their two dogs are going to LOVE hanging around Luca's high chair!
    Our first day of travel, about 400 miles, went very well. We found a lovely Mexican restaurant within easy walking distance from our hotel in Conway, Arkansas. Being from Kansas, we have to remember how to pronounce "Arkansas" here. Tomorrow's destination is Birmingham, Alabama. 
    Adventure rocks!
Not my grandson, 
but you get the idea!

Saturday, February 18, 2023

February 18--Eat and Be Happy

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations. 
--Oscar Wilde

    This quote inspired in me a sarcastic snort, I suspect in the spirit it was meant. I think back to holiday dinners growing up. With an overflowing table of fabulous food, we stuffed ourselves, waddled away to the couch, then came back for more much too soon. Everyone mostly got along because we were all in a food coma. Eating was a competitive sport in my family of origin. 
    On a different note--today I leave on vacation to parts south and east. After many a cold winter doing taxes, my friend and I are finally going somewhere warm in the winter, as we discussed over many an annoying tax return. Lots of golf, girlfriend fun and sight-seeing are ahead. 
    On the road again!

Savannah--one of our destinations

Friday, February 17, 2023

February 17--I'll Take a Good Mother Any Day

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one. 
--Jill Churchill

    I like it! I think back when our sons were little, and it was becoming "the thing to do," to send your children to preschool. We did not do that, because my philosophy was, if anyone is going to have fun with my kids, it's going to be me. I was fortunate to be able to work just part-time, and I did have a lot of fun with the kids. No preschool was no detriment to them whatsoever. 
    My sons have made it clear on occasion that they do not think I was a perfect mother. They have made it clear on a multitude of occasions that they think I am a good one.
    I see my son and his wife with their new little boy, and I see the desire to do everything perfectly. There's nothing more crazy-making than perfectionism. It is a great source of freedom to let that go and know that doing one's best, albeit imperfect, is the finest way to move through life. If nothing else, having children will teach one that "perfect" does not exist.
    Ready for a good day,
Sweet Barney makes it easy to be
a good doggie mom. 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

February 16--Siblings--Love Them? Maybe, Maybe Not.

A sibling may be the keeper of one's identity, the only person with the keys to one's unfettered, more fundamental self.  --Marian Sandmaier

    I expect this is quite true if siblings are somewhat close in age. I picture that this quote applies to our two sons who are just over two years apart in age. I, however, was born when my brothers were 16 and 14 years old. For me it was more like having two sets of parents, because one brother was like my dad and one was like my mom. One brother (older, Arlie) adored me, and the other (younger, Ken) despised me from day one. Those early sentiments have continued throughout our lifetimes. Arlie left home when I was two, and he and his family lived far away, yet he and I developed a very close relationship. I was around Ken a lot as he worked with Dad and his family lived nearby. He never really got a clue as to who I am because his only interest was to put me down. He has proven to be my greatest teacher in life, but I must say that I would not care to repeat the life experience I had with him. I hope I've learned all my lessons!
    My nieces and nephews are more like siblings to me, and I love them all!

Nephew and brother Arlie

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

February 15--FUN!!!

One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.  --Jane Goodall

    LEGOS!!! Isn't that why we have children!?!?? So we can play with Legos!??!?! I have an absurdly huge collection of Legos from when the kids were young and from scores at estate sales. I told my sons that the first one to give me a grandchild gets the Legos, so my older son "wins." I'll let Luca get a bit older before I move on the "wealth." I can hardly wait to build the bricks with him. 
    Reading books, swimming, exploring, shopping, golfing, planting flowers, baking treats, dancing, laughing, sharing meals, talking about life, playing games--these are just a few of the ways to have fun with kids. While empty-nesting has its rewards, the most fun I had in life was when the sons were still at home. 
    How many Legos are too many?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

February 14--My Heart in Many Places

Making a decision to have a child--it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  --Elizabeth Stone

    This is what inspired the "set of angels" series that started off my blog writings this year. Our two sons moved to Colorado over a decade ago, and the addition of a daughter-in-law and grandson means two more pieces of my heart walking around outside my body. What a great way of describing being a parent!
    Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2023

February 13--The Joy of Children

What can we make of the inexpressible joy of children? It is a kind of gratitude. 
--Annie Dillard

    My 6-month-old grandson is an inexpressible joy to me. I look at his pictures in wonder at this perfect human body formed in about nine months from two tiny seeds. His "big kid" dad is really good at getting smiles out of him with goofy noises and faces. Everything is new and interesting. It is a thing of beauty to explore the world through a child's eyes. 
    Our eight-home court has a mixture of older couples and young families. I love a warm day when the neighbor children get out and play with the latest ball or trike or gadget. It's all just plain fun without a care in the world. Maybe we adults would be better off if we adopted that mode of operation!

Little ones at the beach...
does it get any better?

Way to go, Chiefs!!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

February 12--Family IS Everything

Family is not an important thing. It's everything.  --Michael J. Fox

    AMEN! many times over. Here's an example. My husband drove ~600 miles to Colorado yesterday, to spend today skiing with our younger son, then he's coming home tomorrow. It's a lot of driving for one day of skiing, but like me golfing with our sons, this is his favorite adventure with them. Oh, and by the way, this includes some alone time for me 😉😉 Alas, I have devoted a big chunk of that alone time to much-needed house cleaning. But it's DONE!!!!! Now I'm all set for...
Super Bowl 57, GO CHIEFS!!!!

    Aren't Roman numerals dumb!?!?!

Saturday, February 11, 2023

February 11--It's a "Must Have"

Call it a clan, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.  --Jane Howard

    My best friend from high school has been begging me for a couple years to come to our 50th reunion this year in Pennsylvania in August. I have never been to a high school reunion and would like to keep that streak intact. And hallelujah, I just learned recently that there is an event in my area that weekend that I need to attend more than the reunion. Whew!
    I would offer that we need more than one, whatever we call it. I've had several church families, and there's my golfing tribe, my MELT/yoga community, and my 12-step clan. That's all in addition to my family of origin, the family I helped to create, and the large tribe of friends collected along the way. Life is rich because of all these connections. I can't imagine life without all the clans, tribes and family!

Family fun in MD last summer

Friday, February 10, 2023

February 10--My Dad

What is a family, after all, except memories?--haphazard and precious as the contents of a catchall drawer in the kitchen.  --Joyce Carol Oates

    We have a couple (several!?!?) catchall drawers in our kitchen/dining area, and I'd say my family is a lot more precious than those contents!
    The thought of memories this morning leads me to my dad. Even though he passed in 2000, I still miss him every day. He spent countless hours teaching me to swim at Whipple Dam State Park in central Pennsylvania. The family business was a sawmill across the road and through the woods from our house. Dad walked to work on a well-worn path, and used it each day to come home for Campbell's soup for lunch. I walked that path many a time. To this day, the smell of sawdust brings tears to my eyes because that was how my dad smelled. My dad drove the truck delivering lumber orders, and when I wasn't in school, I was in the lumber truck with him. Somehow after each delivery we ended up at a favorite ice cream stand. 😉😉 My dad taught me finances and generosity. He tried to teach me tennis (he was an excellent athlete in his youth), but I wasn't very good at that. Once I reached the "doing chores" age, after supper it was me washing the dishes and Dad drying them. We spent many hours at the kitchen sink together. He taught me all I know about football. I remember watching the first few Super Bowls with him. Though my mom was a dedicated church-goer, my dad never went--another way I have become like him 😏 It was devastating to see him slip into stroke-induced dementia. His last amazing act was to transition on the same day Mom did, September 24, 21 years after her. 
    Very precious memories!

My photo

Photo from the park's website...
yes, it's that beautiful!!

Thursday, February 9, 2023

February 9--Mountains of Love in Return

Give a little love to a child, and you get a great deal back.  --John Ruskin

    The two best and favorite things I did for my sons (and me!) were to read aloud to them every night for years and to teach them to play golf. Both have a love of reading and great curiosity to this day. And my most favorite thing to do is play golf with them. I get much more back than I have ever given. 
    My new grandson, already close to six months old--every single smile is a heart-melter. He is at that glorious age where goofy sounds and funny faces make him light up. I can hardly wait to explore the world with him and see things anew through his eyes!
    On a side note, my first week of tax work is complete (yes, Wednesday = Friday for me). After all these years of working, I finally have a corner office with a window. It's a tiny office, yes, but still my own space with a door. They did not have an Excel license for me on Monday, but I had it Tuesday morning when I arrived. My boss was so happy with all I completed in two days that she has begged me to work more hours. This makes me smile. I said "maybe," that I would consider it after an upcoming trip. I like Wednesday = Friday! I was quite anxious going into this gig, so I'm tickled that this first three days have gone so well. 
    Below is today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, nacreous clouds over Lapland--too beautiful not to share. 
    Life is good!

Our Mother is amazing!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

February 8--Fine Art

The family is one of nature's masterpieces.  --George Santayana

    Just like any piece of art, there are infinite perspectives and opinions. That's why families so often avoid talking about politics or religion--opinions are so likely to differ. 
    My son, his wife, and our new grandson are so fun to watch together. On our recent visit, when we first held Luca and he would see his mom or dad, the pout appeared and the crying soon followed. But as we hung out around him, he soon got used to us, and he even let me hold and play with him for a half hour. Luca knows where the day-to-day love is--mom and dad. The three of them are a beautiful work of nature!
    My brother appears to be recovering from Covid, and I am so relieved. He and I are the last of the "masterpiece" that was our family of origin. It's a little freaky to ponder being the only one left of a family. 
    Right now, all is well,
My big bro and me

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

February 7--God's Big Helpers

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.  --Jewish Saying

    I love it! This makes me smile. Actually, God is everywhere, but he still needs the help of us moms. Parenting can be a tough job, so it is a small victory when a teenager says, "How could you have known that!?!?!" We mothers have our ways!
    My first day of tax season 2023 went well. I believe I will enjoy working just 20 hours per week. The best thing is that I don't have to make copies. I spent probably a quarter of my tax work time in years past doing that. Plus I have a secluded office all to myself, and I don't have to answer phones. It's a fine gig.
Ready for spring!

Monday, February 6, 2023

February 6--The Mother of Us All

Mother is the home we come from. She is nature, soil, ocean.  --Erich Fromm

    We drove through miles and miles of Kansas wheat fields on our way home from Colorado. I love looking across those fields and seeing just the faintest hint of green popping through the rich soil of Mother Earth. 
    Though it is winter-time in Colorado, we had two lovely, sunny, warm days out there wherein we could sit outside at the local breweries in the afternoons and enjoy friends, family and beers. What a treat for February! 
    Here's another one in the "great business names" category: I saw a semi while driving home with the company name "Haulin' Assets." 😉😉
    Today I head back to tax work, but only 20 hours a week this year. My brother has Covid on top of several other serious health issues. My anxiety level is mounting by the minute, so I'm off to swim to calm myself down. 
    Happy Monday?!?!
Our Mother's beauty in Jamaica

Sunday, February 5, 2023

February 5--Back to KS

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family. 
--Anthony Brandt

    Today we end with the family in Colorado and head home to Kansas. It has been a super visit. We had fabulous weather, warm enough to spend both afternoons outside. We finally exchanged Christmas 2022 gifts. My son gave us a great tour of New Belgium Brewery. Best of all, I held and played with Luca for quite a while without him crying. He's developing such a fun happy personality. I am thankful for such a great time with my family!

The pair that "started" me...
Madeline and Snapper

Saturday, February 4, 2023

February 4--A Little Craziness is Necessary

Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit.  --Bill Cosby

    It's a good thing that the human gestation period is approximately nine months to attempt to get some sort of grip on what those "two people in love" have done. The excitement of pregnancy turns into the realization of we-are-about-to-be-parents, and do we know how to do that?!?!? It is so fortunate that first time parents really have no idea what they are getting into, otherwise, I think the population would be a lot smaller. And we forget the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth, otherwise no one would have more than one kid. Having a child really is both totally organic and totally irrational. In the end, kids are fun and amazing, and we keep on having them. 
    I am totally enjoying my grandson Luca--he's a smiling little goober of love!

P.S. I must add this note of amusement in the "great names for a business" category. Seen in Fort Collins: 

The Screamin Peach, a Waxing Studio

Friday, February 3, 2023

February 3--BABY!!!

The soul is healed by being with children.  --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    AMEN!!! I got to hold and play with my grandson last evening. Heaven!! I have agreed not to post photos of him, so you will just have to believe me when I say he is the most adorable baby in the universe.
    There is a lot of piled up snow out this way, though the streets and highways are clear. We have two whole days to adventure around town with the family. We have offered to Luca-sit so Mom and Dad can go on a date. We shall see if they deem us competent for such an event.
    Go find a child to giggle with today!!

Thursday, February 2, 2023

February 2--Growing More Love

Families are ecosystems. Each life grows in response to the lives around it. 
--Mary Schmich

    YIPPEE!!!!! I'm headed to Colorado to see my grandson! Oh yes, and my sons and daughter-in-law, too. Our family ecosystem has changed dramatically with the arrival of the little one, and I'm so excited to see how he's growing. At almost 20 pounds, I'll get my workout carrying him around. Smiles and giggles to come!
    Speaking of little ones, I feel like mentioning Barney, our dog. He has adapted to our ecosystem in a fabulous way. My husband has trained him to come and notify me when lunch or dinner is ready. He has grown into a brave defender of our home, and he's most relaxed when he has both of us herded into one room. He loves to romp with extended family dogs Dusty and Tilly when we visit Colorado. 
    On the road again...

Sweet Barney, enjoying our ecosystem...

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

February 1--We are FAMILY!

Remember we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand.  --Emily Kimbrough

    Yep, you got it, FAMILY is the theme for February in "Daily Gratitude." I am probably more grateful for my families than for anything else. Likely you are, too. 
    The automated blog editor tells me I ought to change "families" above to "family." Nope. I have families. 
    My family of origin was Mom, Dad, and two brothers who were 16 and 14 years older than me. Yes, I was a "surprise," at least to Dad. To my older brother, I was a wonderful princess to enjoy and show off. To my other brother, I was the bane of his existence. Isn't it a good thing that you don't know how messed up your family is until you get outta there?!!?! Thankfully, there was plenty of love along with all the nuttiness. 
    I consider my greatest accomplishment in life that I created with my husband a strong family including two sons who have matured into loving, responsible adults. This process has been my most potent teacher in life. Family expansion with a daughter-in-law and grandson is "double cream cheese frosting on the carrot cake." 😉😉
    I have a 12-step family that has been with me for decades, and it has been every bit as important and formative to me as my family growing up. Those brothers and sisters know the worst of me and still love and support me. That's true family.
    I also have a golfing family, a former-church family, my MELT/yoga family, and a fine group of assorted friends. 
    Family life is not always smooth, but I'm grateful for every bit of it!
    Goodbye, January! One month closer to spring!

Me and a few of my loves on the Miller side