Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Well hello there.

I'm back in the Mitten and back in school. What a wonderful, glorious week we had on the beach. Only one day of rain, but we found something to keep us occupied.

Shopping. Eating. Shopping. Eating.

Every morning I woke up and pulled my chair out onto the beach, and spent time with myself and my Bible. I did a lot of journaling, a lot of reflecting and a lot of sitting and enjoying the peace of the world around me.

I am feeling very refreshed and very thankful for the week Dream Boy & I spent together with absolutely no schedules, no worries and no pressure.

We had a cool down after the day of rain on Wednesday, but we spent our days sitting poolside, rather than on the beach, but the sound of the waves crashing were only a few feet further away and could still be heard loud & clear.

It's a life that I could really get used to without any problems, I'm sure.

But all good things must come to an end and reality becomes real all too soon. We left the sunny shores on Saturday morning at 4am and drove straight through, arriving home at 1am on Sunday. 

When we arrived home, there was this girl waiting for us. This white ball of fur filled with so much joy to see us walk through the door. She fell at my feet and cried and cried. 

That makes it all worth coming home to. My girl, my Wonder Dog, my faithful friend.

Oh, and my kids. We had dinner at their house last night. Son #1 grilled burgers and D2 made home made fries. It was a wonderful way to wrap up a great week.

Today I am back to school, albeit for only a half day. I found out Thursday morning that a respected colleague passed away suddenly on Wednesday night and his funeral is today. Our district has scheduled a half day so that the staff may attend his funeral this afternoon. 

This morning I'm back to having breakfast and coffee with my 2 wonderful friends. It will be so good to see them, we missed several weeks before I went on vacation. 

Life is good and I am thankful for the life I have and the guy who shares it with me.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning to all of you from sunny Florida!

Yep - Dream Boy & I are enjoying a much needed rest and break on the beach this week. This time is needed in so many ways.

But 1st of all, my heart is filled with so many emotions today. While I am here on vacation and removed from the source, my heart hurts for my hometown and all that there in the wake of a senseless, random shooting spree that took place on Saturday night in Kalamazoo.

The pieces are falling slowly into place, but it still doesn't explain the why of this act. The reasoning that 6 people were killed and 2 are in very critical condition. The fact that we hear of this happening all over our nation, but this time it's my hometown and the reality of it all is raw to so many at home.

Please be in prayer for the families of all the victims who died and for the family of the man accused of this heinous crime, and also for that man. 

I spent the morning on the beach yesterday doing my devotions, and the passage I read spoke so loudly of who we, as Christians, and as humans should strive to be. In Luke 6:36, The Message, it states, "Our father is king, you be kind."

It's that simple, really.

So, here I am. On the beach for a week. Already, the stress and anxiety I felt building over the last few weeks are washing away. I am coming back to myself, searching and seeking out more from God once again and knowing that He is my source of peace and happiness.

We spent Friday traveling and arrived at our destination late that night where our friends were waiting up for us. After catching up we soon headed off to bed and awoke on Saturday morning to a beautiful, clear, sunny day. 

I immediately grabbed my Bible, my journal and my coffee and headed to the beach for my devotional time. I set up my table and dried off my chair and I no sooner sat down when I saw my 1st dolphin swimming slowly across the water straight out in front of me. 

The day continued on sunny & clear and I parked myself on the beach with my book for all of it, soaking up every ray of sunshine that I could handle!

We all cleaned up and then headed out for a wonderful dinner where we managed to stuff ourselves to a point of overflowing!

Sunday morning Dream Boy & our friends headed to mass, while I once again headed to the beach with my Bible & journal. As I was sitting there opening my Bible to Luke, a woman approached me and said good morning. I replied with a cheery good morning as well and she then proceeded to chat it up with me.

After about a 15 minute conversation, maybe a little longer, I was amazed at the story she shared with me. She is a survivor and managed to escape the awful times in West Berlin so many years ago. She shared so much with me I am still trying to process it all, but she was a beautiful soul and had such a grand outlook on life. Her name is HanaLaura and she is a retired teacher from Massachusetts. I truly hope to run into her again this week as I was just gobsmacked with her story!

Dream Boy soon returned and we all decided to take advantage of the yet again gorgeous day & hang out on the beach. I planted myself once again in my chair, on the sand with the waves breaking softly not far from me.

We walked the beach later in the afternoon, collecting some treasures and seeing some jellyfish. A fisherman pulled in a flatfish right in front of me as well and beamed with joy when it measured a length that assured him he could legally keep it!

Late in the afternoon, another couple from home joined us for dinner and we enjoyed a great meal at The Beach House. 

This week is more of the same. No schedules, no plans, no nothing but whatever we want to do.

I hope you all have an amazing week and for my friends back home, know that I am praying constantly for all of you and will be home soon to hug you!

Sending love from Florida!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Well happy Monday morning to you all! So glad to have a chance to chat & enjoy a cup of coffee together!

Did you enjoy your weekend? Mine was so nice - so refreshing and actually quite relaxing.

Friday brought in some major lake effect snow and we got about 3-4 inches. It was snowing pretty hard all day until right after I left school. Then we had breaks of blue skies and then snow squawls that would dump a little more.

So Dream Boy picked up a pizza from our new favorite pizza place - the deli kitchen at Earth Fare - a salad, a bottle of wine and a dozen roses for me. Such a sweet, sweet man I married. 

We really don't make a big deal out of Valentine's, so when he makes a gesture such as roses, it's that much more special! 

We snuggled up with a warm fire and commenced to watching the Scandal episode we missed on Thursday night. It's actually no fun now having to wait from week to week to watch it, where before, we could binge watch 2-3 episodes until we caught up on the show just before Thanksgiving.

Saturday dawned sunny, but cold. We spent the morning doing a little of this & a little of that. I pawed through some items that were in my living room prior to our painting and sprucing up and added it to my ever growing pile of schtuff for Goodwill. Dream Boy loaded up the car & we took off for town to drop off the goods and then we stopped at the electric beach on our way home. We are heading south this coming week for some real beach time! And yes, our house will be filled with lots of activity while we are gone - so don't anyone go getting any ideas, k?

We headed home after a short soak of electric sunshine and changed our clothes before heading off to church. We had baby dedications to witness! One family, a friend of mine from school, she & her hubby were dedicating their 2 littles at the 4pm service. It was a beautiful worship service and our hearts were overflowing when it was done. After a round of pictures

.......we grabbed a cup of coffee while waiting for the 6:00 service to start and the 2nd dedication we were invited to witness. 

After this service was done we headed down the street to the grocery store & picked up something for dinner - Chinese - and headed home where we fixed dinner together and snuggled in to watch a movie. 

We chose "Burnt" with Bradley Cooper. Have you seen it? It wasn't a great movie, but it wasn't a bad one either. Dream Boy was very confused at the beginning, having a hard time following it - but finally caught on somewhere in the middle and ended up with the same feeling about it as me.

Sunday morning we headed off to our little church. Yes, we are extremely blessed after this weekend----heh, heh, heh.  We arrived at church & Dream Boy pulled up to the door to drop me off. When I stood up to get out of the car I hear him say, "uh oh". 

"What's wrong?" I asked.

He responded that the seam of my dress had fully ripped out & I had a major wardrobe malfunction on my back side. He told me to just tie my coat around my waist. 

Um, no.

So, I dropped him off and headed back home to change. Sure enough, my dress had about a 4 inch area on the seam where it had unravelled and was fraying out. Boo - it is one of my favorite dresses, I'm going to see if I can creatively fix it. I then headed back to church and arrived just in time for communion!

After church we met up with my mom-in-law for her birthday lunch! Her birthday was on Saturday, but she had a friend taking her out for dinner, so she opted for lunch with us on Sunday. We had a wonderful lunch and time together. I was able to show her the pics of her most recent great grand daughter who was born in Guam on Friday. 

Dream Boy & I headed home after our lunch, stoked up the wood burner & promptly took naps! Exactly what Sunday afternoons are made for, especially cold, snowy ones.

So this week we are busying ourselves with packing & getting ready for a week in the Florida sunshine with our friends. We haven't been down in 3 years, so it will be wonderful to spend a week with them again away from the daily grind. It will also be nice to hug them both as we were unable to attend the funeral this past week for his mom because the service was held in Florida.

I wish you all a wonderful, happy, healthy week - wherever you may be! 

As always, thank you for stopping by!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Oh what a beautiful morning!
Oh what a beautiful day!

Yep - it is. The sun is coming up and this mama has a full heart. What a great weekend we had!

Last week was Snowcoming at our high school and it is a crazy, busy week. But it was a fun one! Every day is filled with lots of activities and Friday is always overflowing with school pride and spirit.

Friday morning our administration held a celebration breakfast for all of our students who went the full semester without any referrals due to behavior and/or attendance. I believe almost every student was included - a great number!

They pulled them from their classes and the kids were served an amazing breakfast by our kitchen staff and they were then given time to just chillax. I had set up my camera and props and the principal took care of the "photo booth".
I was pretty busy all weekend & didn't have much time to go through all the shots, but this one caught my eye and I immediately fel lin love with it. The candid shot, catching the laughter of those few, just made me laugh out loud myself!

After school on Friday I came back to take the court pictures. Our King & Queen were so cute!
Both are top notch students and just a lot of fun to be around. So happy they were selected by their peers to represent!

Dream Boy met up with me & we stayed for the games. I haven't been to a game in forever, so it was fun to watch the student section cheer on their teams!

Saturday we spent the day running errands. We had our taxes done, went out for lunch, did some shopping for the house - coming home with new bedding! We also did the grocery shopping and returned home several hours later. 

S&D1 picked up pizza that night & brought it over for us all. It was great to spend a couple of hours with them - we haven't seen them for a bit, so the time was wonderful. We had invited them for the Super Bowl, but they were going over to some friends' house and for a party with their group!

Sunday started off at church and then out to breakfast with a family from church. They told Dream Boy they were headed out to the little cafe by our house, so we surprised them and joined them. It was a wonderful time with them, we thoroughly enjoyed it!

Soon we headed home and I got busy on making dinner for our Super Bowl gathering. We originally invited our Pastor, his wife & their 2 daughters, along with another couple from church. 

Pastor Steve came out early & he & Dream Boy headed out on the bikes for a ride around the lake.

The other couple had texted on Saturday and said they were just going to stay home for a quiet night, but after some coaxing at church Sunday morning - I even promised her she could come in her jammies if she wanted to, no judging here, they agreed to come out for dessert.

By the time 4:00 rolled around, we went from 6 of us to 13 of us! Our house was filled to the brim with people and food. I can tell you if you left our house hungry last night, then it was your own fault! Oh.my.goodness! We had nachos, pulled pork, macaroni & cheese, guacamole, spicy cheese dip, potato chips, cupcakes, and cherry cheesecake dip.............my belly was so full.

The main event - half time - soon came on & we were all there to watch the performance. What a great show it was, do you agree? But as it was when we had little ones, once half time was over, everyone packed up and headed home. 

But my heart remained full and is still brimming with delight this morning as I look back over a very busy weekend, but a weekend spent enjoying this life that God has given me!

Thanks for stopping by for coffee this morning - I hope you have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Benches

Life is forever changing. It begins and it ends.

A new normal to be found when it ends. Only memories to carry us through, the sound of their laughter, the knowledge they imparted upon us and the love they carried for us.

It is our turn to carry on their memory & their legacy. To share who they were with those who come after they are gone.
I have learned in my life that death is as much a part of life as birth. I have also learned what it is to find the "new normal" when that space is now empty. The chair where they sat at the family dinner table is no longer filled.

I have learned in the past 2 days about the loss of an uncle and a very good family friend - who we consider family.

My Uncle Bob didn't live close by and was my mom's last surviving sibling. I was in his wedding, once upon a time. I remember him living at my grandma & grandpa's when I was a little girl and always flipping his silver dollars - just begging for me to try and catch them & run away! 

He soon married and moved to Indiana, and then later to the Grand Rapids area where he was a teacher. Maybe he's where I get the love of my job from?

It's bittersweet to know that my mom's family is gone and that my sisters, cousins & I are now "the family". It is up to us to carry on their legacy and share the stories and the memories and the love our grandparents instilled into their children for God.

The other is of the mom of our very close friends. She is pictured above on the right in the beautiful floral jacket & long black skirt. 

Linda was a beautiful soul who loved life and loved her family unconditionally. She enjoyed laughing, reading, cooking (I love her stuffed peppers) and she loved the beach. Kindred spirits she & I were in that area! 

She battled cancer for the last year and sadly, lost that battle early this morning.

I have been quietly reflecting all day of these two wonderful souls. I am so very grateful to have known them both and that they were a part of my life. They blessed me in so many ways.

I sit and listen to that quiet laugh of my Uncle Bob in my mind. How his whole face would light up when he laughed and the how he would grab that silver dollar just as I thought for sure it was in my grasp. The quiet demeanor of him when we were together as a family at Christmas' past. The hug he embraced me in when he came to the hospital to see my mom & I had walked him out to his car so he didn't get lost in the hospital.

I hear in my mind the laugh of Linda and the stories she would share of the alligator who lived in the pond behind their condo. How she was upset, yet hopeful, that when they came to remove him, he would be taken alive and set free where he should be.

I see her face glowing at the wedding of her grandson and the joy she held in her heart having her whole family together not only at the wedding, but for Christmas that year as well. I remember her telling me how long it had been since they had all been together for Christmas and how her heart was overflowing with happiness to celebrate together once again.

Life changes every moment of every day. It changes so fast.

So I choose to reflect, record in my journal and in my mind, those moments to cherish later in the still, quiet space of my heart.

Uncle Bob and Linda - you are gone from this earth, but your memory is carried on in the hearts and minds of so many, mine included. I thank you both for all that you were to me and that God honored me with the chance to know you.

May we all reflect and be still and remember those that we cherish most and never forget who they are in our life.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

So - it's the 1st of February, already! 

Our second semester starts today - whoa! It seemed to fly by, yet at times it also seemed to drag. Like last week........I swear it was a full week of Monday's, even with 3 half days due to exams. It.just.dragged.on.....and on.....and on.

The weather here has been not a typical January as of late either. We've had swells of warm weather and rain. We've had very little snow this winter, which is okay I guess. I'm a Michigan girl & I like Michigan winters......this in-between stuff is just no fun. 

I spent a couple afternoons last week revamping my website. I made a decision the 1st of the year to take a very in depth look at my photography "business" and I've been doing a lot of research and reading and I am feeling compelled to make it an "official" business.  You know, registering - licensing - the whole shebang. So I've been working on a business plan for the last several weeks, still working on that, and changing my pricing and packages. There is still room to tweak and play with that, but at the moment, I am confident in what I've decided based on my business plan. 

Did I tell you that the "business" side is not my favorite side of all this? Can you tell?

Well, it is what it is and I am determined to move forward. I love what I do and I want to make it grow. So I am also working on many ideas for photo shoots and expanding my senior model program.

Dream Boy and I spent the weekend close to home. Friday night we watched a couple movies and Saturday we went to a 40th birthday party for a teacher I used to work with. It was great seeing him again, it's been a few years. 

Following the party we headed to church for game night. I'm not much of a game player, so I watched, which is what I really love to do. I absorb and what is going on around me, much like watching people for my photography. We went out with some friends afterwards for coffee and beer and time to have a few laughs.

Sunday was drizzly and just plain not pretty. We headed to church and then dropped off our taxes - yes, our taxes - and then came home where we just lazed and napped the afternoon away. We had a congregational meeting after church that took up most of the early afternoon, so there really wasn't much napping time left. Oh well - it was still a great day!

So here we are again at Monday. A new day, a new week, a new start!

Make it a good one!