Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee - Memorial Day

It's a holiday here in the U.S. - Memorial Day. 

A day of remembrance of all those who have given of their time, given of themselves, and for some, given their lives, to defend and keep our freedom here in the United States.

While I have a few uncles who served in the military, my immediate family did not have any service members. I know that my dad really wanted to, but a health condition of sorts would not allow it.

But that doesn't stop me from being proud of the country in which I live. I am thankful, so very grateful, every single day of my life, to be an American citizen where I can freely worship, play, love & live as I want.

Yes, there are "rules", or laws if you want to be technical. But they are written with our freedom as Americans, in mind. As it should be.

So this weekend has been a beautiful one. Even the weather is cooperating. While Saturday was overcast and quite humid most of the day, it was still a great day to be outside and enjoying life!

Dream Boy & I have been sticking pretty close to home all weekend. We went out for dinner Friday night to our local Applebee's, and even though we rarely do chain restaurants anymore as we like to support our local, homegrown eating establishments, it was a welcome change as I got to see one of my former students and catch up with her and her older brother, who moved away during high school. I found out from her that he has moved back to our area and was actually working in the kitchen of that same restaurant.

Saturday we did housework. Meaning, I cleaned inside, while Dream Boy worked outside on rebuilding one of our retaining walls. He has removed the old, rotted railroad ties that had been serving as said wall since we moved here 20+ years ago and is now setting rocks in its place to tie it in with the rest of the retaining wall all along our back yard. Most of it was here when we moved in, but in 1999 when we put in an above ground pool, he had to rebuild the wall at one of our yard. All that was left to do was this section he is currently working on. It's a true labor of love that he is doing, these rocks are ginormous and it amazes me to see the craftsmanship he is applying to this wall.

While he continued his rebuilding project, I headed to the grocery store. Yep, grocery shopping on a Saturday is not really a favorite of either of us, but we needed them badly. So off I went, but you know what? It was not busy at all as I believe most people had done their shopping earlier in the week to prep for the kick off for summer holiday weekend!

We spent the rest of the day at home - I made dinner for us and we ate outside on the patio, 'el fresco!  Then we retired inside at dark to watch a few episodes of House of Cards before heading off to bed for the night.

Sunday morning dawned beautiful, clear & cool. Ahhh - a reprieve from the humidity of the day before. 

We headed into town for church, picking up one of my seniors on the way as she started going to church with us last week. Church was a little warm as it was struck by lightening, or the power line out front was struck during a thunderstorm earlier in the week, and it knocked out our organ and our air conditioning in the sanctuary only. But it truly wasn't that bad.

After church we headed downtown for breakfast and then home, dropping off Blake on our way.  We got home and packed up the gear for a trip to the dock & of course, the Wonder Dog was going crazy!

It's amazing how 9 months or so can pass, but the minute I open that cupboard door in the bathroom to get my suit & beach towels out, she KNOWS what is going on!

Oh my gosh - this girl was in her absolute glory at the dock. But poor thing, who will 10 years old on the 14th of June, is starting to show her age. She can swim & swim & swim, but doesn't know how to just lay on the dock and relax - watching the world float by. She has one motion in her head - GO! So when we left to head home, she had a rough time getting up the stairs. She has been sleeping ever since, I believe. 

So once home, Dream Boy & I began the preps for dinner. His next youngest brother is home for the week, so he & mom were heading out to eat with us.
Nothing says summer more than kabobs on the grill! We had baked potatoes on the grill, along with green beans and fresh watermelon. I can tell you no one went away from the table hungry.

So here we are to Monday - a holiday. A day off and it is again a beautiful day! While I have tons of photos to finish editing and a video to put together for Friday night's graduation, I plan on enjoying this day with my guy! I have tomorrow off from school - so I can work on all that other stuff then, right?

Today - I have some reading to catch up on, as another friend of mine has been published. Sarah, from Paisley Rain Boots, was recently published in The Artful Blogger magazine. I read through her article last night, but there are plenty more in there for me to read and help inspire me to get this blog back to a more than once weekly blog again. Crimenies - I had this blog for close to 10 years and I used to post 3 or more times a week, what has happened to me/it? Well, I have plenty of people tell me I need to write more, so maybe this is the push I need to get back to that track?

It's also hard to believe that one year ago today we were doing this:
My babies are so beautiful - all of them! Dream Boy & I have reminisced about this weekend so many times over the past year. It was great having all of us together in one place and it's been a year since that happened. I don't like that, but I live with it & love the time we all have together regardless of how much time has passed between our last gathering.

Happy ONE year anniversary Shaun & Kylie - as you celebrate in the wilds of Idaho this weekend, know that we love you & continue to pray for a long, health & happy marriage!

I hope you are all enjoying today - wherever you may be. Thank you for spending some time with me this morning!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Morning everyone!

Show of hands - who had a hard time getting up this morning?

This girl.

I think it's because we spent so much time outside this weekend, but with weather like we had - who wouldn't? It was amazing.

I think that old man winter has finally found his way out for the season and hopefully will NOT be returning again until late next fall!

Seriously!

So we went out Friday night & spent some time wandering through World Market, Dream Boy in the wine section and me in the rest of the store.  HA!
I found an amazing new journal! If you know me, you know my love for journals. Blogging is another format of writing for me, but you'll find my chicken scratch in many a journal in my studio at home. I have always loved writing.

After our trip to the Market, we headed to Earth Fare and ordered our Friday night pizza and favorite salad before heading home and settling in for the night.

Saturday morning Dream Boy headed off on his weekly ride and I headed off for 2 more senior model sessions.  The 1st was with my niece, who is a goof that I love greatly. The 2nd was with another senior to be from my high school.

The shoots were in 2 different locations, making it even more fun. The 1st was in my niece's little town - so this was new to me. We had fun playing on the train cars and exploring their little historical village. The 2nd was in the park in downtown Kzoo. Always one of my favorite places to explore & find new places to shoot.

After returning home, I spend some time on the patio reading and then headed to the grocery store to pick up a few items for supper. We grilled burgers & I had corn on the cob, cole slaw, baked beans and watermelon for us. We ate out on the patio and just enjoyed the time outside.

Soon after we cleaned up supper, Dream Boy built a bonfire and we cozied on up and were joined a little later by S&D1 toasting s'mores. 
Sunday morning dawned as another beautiful day -- and we started it in church, then headed out for breakfast!

When we got home, we pulled out the lounge chairs and settled in for some time for relaxation and reading. 

After a few hours of just enjoying the day, we headed out for a ride on Daisy. We decided to ride over to the local State Park where Dream Boy wanted to take me on a trail, as it was a short cut. I've never really ridden the trails before - so this was an adventure for me. But it was a little different riding trails on a tandem. I quickly learned to just hold on and peddle, letting Dream Boy do all the navigating. When riding on the back of a tandem, the handle bars are basically ornamentation & just there to give you something to do with your hands. They are NOT for steering.

We found our friends at a campsite and stopped in to wind up their granddaughter and just say hi, before heading home, stopping on the way for an ice cream cone.  

It was just a beautiful, relaxing & peaceful weekend. One that we both needed and fully enjoyed together!

So heading into what is the final week for our high school seniors, I am refreshed and ready.

This also means that there are only 3 weeks left in this school year for me. I have a week off after that before starting up summer school - but I'm looking forward to my week off and the slower, lazier pace of summer.

Have a great week everyone - thanks for having coffee with me this morning!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What I Love To Do....

It has been a long winter once again. Not necessarily the weather, but just being closed up inside, darkness descending so early every day & not being able to go and out and freely roam as one would want.

My creative side, my photography, suffers during this time. I did spend a lot of time exploring and reading the best way to go about officially kicking off my business, and I'm still working through that process. I've learned there is SO much to consider and record and track and it can be a bit overwhelming. But slowly I am getting there. I just want to make sure that I don't get slammed with something unexpected because I didn't calculate right or record something that I should have, etc.

But spring is here and my creative itch is really needing to be scratched. You know, backing up to a tree and rubbing against until that itch is deliciously satisfied. Like Baloo, in The Jungle Book.

So this week, I started with this shot:
This is the Top Ten from the high school I work at.

Kids - people. It's what I love most to photograph.

So tonite and again tomorrow, I will be shooting a couple of seniors from my senior model program. 

Can.not.wait.

But my mind is still swirling - I need to step out of this zone and reach beyond. I need to push my creative side more and find focus on exploring and capturing the unexpected in nature, on the streets of my local town, sitting in a cafe, or at the beach.

I need to, as my friend Sarah says, find more feeling from deep within me. With my photography and with my words.

Back to my "bench" so to speak - back to a quiet, thoughtful and reflective place that is seeded within me.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning everyone!

Oh this morning is a chilly one, but the sun is shining and I am very thankful for that! We haven't seen much of that bright orange orb lately - just rain and snow. Yes, we had snow over the weekend.  Thankfully it didn't stick - just made it's nasty presence known.

But, let's move on.........

How was your weekend? I had a great one! 

Friday night Dream Boy & I headed down to our favorite Italian place, claimed our seats at the bar & feasted on fresh mozarella salad, a pizza and then of course, Tiramisu! Oh my - what a wonderful way to spend a Friday night!

Saturday Dream Boy was gone all day for a retreat with consistory, so I was left to entertain myself. 

Welp - that wasn't a problem for me. Never is actually. I rather enjoy my time alone. So I headed into town to pick up some much needed office supplies - see that sticky note holder up there? How cute is that? It's a polaroid camera - and I found it on sale at Office Max! Love it!

While in the vicinity - I made a quick stop into Old Navy. My favorite "go to" store. I picked up a few new t's for my man & one for myself.

I then headed off to do the weekly grocery shopping, but not before stopping for lunch at the local drive in, The Root Beer Stand! Chili Cheese Dogs, Root Beer & popcorn were on the menu for me! That's pretty much all they have, no frills, just good old fashioned hot dogs & root beer!

Grocery shopping was next - just what everyone wants to do on a Saturday afternoon. But hey, the sleet was pelting my car & it was windy & nasty cold out, so there wasn't much of anything else to do and we gotta eat ya know.

Dream Boy got home from his retreat around 5:30 and we snuggled in for the night to pick up on our latest Netflix series - House of Cards. We'll watch 2 or 3 episodes back to back. Cheap entertainment, but we enjoy it!

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day, but stone cold once again. I guess during church there was a major snow fall - but thankful we only had to hear about it & not see it. It was again, a very cold day for Michigan in May. 

When we got home, we emptied out the living room & headed out to pick up our new furniture. We bought a couch, love seat & chair from D1's parents - it's like brand new and we were in desperate need for new digs.

So, here we are again, back to Monday!

And today is a special once because it's the day my friend's 1st book is being released!
There's no "Coming Soon" anymore, it's is HERE!  I spent my weekend pouring throw the pages and stories and testimony of Sophie and am again in awe of the works God is doing through her!

You can order your copy now on Amazon or Barnes & Noble today!!  Also, on May 29th from 10am - 12:30pm, Sophie will be at Haven Church in Kalamazoo to sign your book. 

My prayer is that you will come closer to knowing God as your read through this amazing journey.

So everyone, have yourself a wonderful week!

Thanks again for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

So Excited!!

There's this girl I know.

I've watched her grow both physically & spiritually. 

She was a young girl when I first came to know her, going to our church and being about the same age as my boys.

She went off to college and was a year ahead of our youngest. She played soccer and was a very devoted girl to her faith.

She eventually went on a mission trip to Zambia and it was there she fell head over in heels with Jesus and the work she was doing for the orphans there. She soon left college and moved to Zambia full time to work in the mission.

This was a hard decision for her and her family. They were so concerned about her being so far away by herself. But she knew the love of Jesus and the protection she had from His love would help her move mountains for these children.

I followed her blog, never missing a post and being amazed at her words and the depth from which they were written.

And now, this girl, Sophie, is a mom to 2 of those Zambian children. She has taken on the roll of a single parent. Living back in the US with them, she is still devoted to the children in Zambia and has recently written a book about her heart and devotion and journey.

I am SO excited about this book, and have been ever since Sophie dropped a few hints to me about it when we spent Thanksgiving together and my son's home in Seattle. 
Sophie's book, Crowns of Beauty, is scheduled to be released next Monday, May 16th. It will be available on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble.

I can hardly wait to read it and once again immerse myself in the beautiful writing of Sophie.

If you never meet her, please read this book. I promise you that the heart this girl has for Jesus is amazing and you will feel you DO know her. You will fall in love with her and these children she so wants to save.

If you read this book, let me know, I would love to chat with you about your feelings as well.

You can check out more on Sophie and the release of this book on her Facebook page, Sophie Hartman/Author

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning!

Did you have a great weekend? I did. The weather here was beautiful & I spent my weekend with my Dream Boy. 

Life is good.

Friday night we were going to venture downtown for Art Hop, but soon changed our minds & made shrimp tacos at home for dinner and just hung out together. After dinner, we brought Daisie out for her inaugural ride for the 2016 season and peddled down to the local ice cream shop. Then we tooled around town on our bicycle built for two.
Saturday morning I spent with DIL #1 getting our tootsies all prettied up. Mine were a hot mess. I kept apologizing to my nail tech about how bad they were. You know, when you think of it, that's to be one of the most thankless jobs. I've seen some people in those places that just would make me walk away, saying, "no, oh no" before I could touch their feet. 

Think about that.

But I was so thankful to spend the time with DIL, wishing my other DIL lived closer for these times. I really miss my #2 children, really.

You know, 37 years ago when I was just 19 and planning my upcoming wedding, all I could think about was marrying the man of my dreams and spending my life with him. The excitement of being together all the time, not having to say goodbye and night and waiting anxiously for the next time we would be together.

I was 19, I wasn't thinking of kids, I wasn't even thinking of what life would be at 55 for me, let alone the fact that my mom and dad weren't even 55 at that point.

But not long after we married we both began to feel the want for children in our lives and made the decision to start trying. After about 4+ years, when a pregnancy wasn't happening and the pain of negative after negative pregnancy tests was so deep, we made the decision to adopt. 

God led us to Bethany Christian Services and we started our home visits soon thereafter. We went through 8 months of visits with our social worker, spending many hours talking about what our hopes & dreams were for a family and learning all the while to lean even more on God & each other through this whole process.

A month after we received our letter approving our application to adopt, we received the call from our social worker. The call that we didn't think would come for at least 2 years, 1 if we were lucky.

We had been chosen by a birth mom to become the parents of her baby boy. A baby! How did this happen so fast? Was this really happening? We received the call on Friday afternoon and were told to be at the agency on Monday to meet our son. 

We didn't have a nursery ready, we had absolutely nothing to raise a baby. In one weekend a bedroom was transformed into a nursery. Our dad's spent the weekend painting and the mom's spent the weekend shopping for a new grandson!

Our lives have never been the same since. Two years later we were blessed with the birth of our 2nd son and have never looked back.

As I celebrated Mother's Day this weekend, the wonderful treat of a pedicure with an amazing daughter-in-law, then the arrival of a floral arrangement complete with sunflowers that ONLY my 2nd amazing daughter-in-law could have orchestrated on Saturday afternoon, to the brunch spent with my #1 kids and mom-in-law on Sunday morning, to the absolutely delicious meal that Dream Boy made me Sunday night, I know that God has richly blessed my life.

Never did I think 37 years ago that my life would be so full at this point and time. I know that Dream Boy & I building our life's foundation on our faith in God has been the reason we have been able to weather so many storms in our lives. 

I am also thankful for the ability to write & share with all of you, whether I know you or not, I am thankful for you! 

I hope your weekend was a wonderful one and that your week ahead is great too.

Thank you for sharing your time with me this morning - I'll be back soon.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Hey ho!

Happy Monday morning to you all! How are you doing today? Me, I'm recovering from a crazy, busy weekend. Story of my life lately. But it's all good, it's all so good.

Friday started off great with our weekly meeting before school of our FCA group.  FCA is Fellowship of Christian Athletes and we have a group of about 10-12 kids show up every Friday morning to talk about our faith and walk with God. This past Friday morning, my Pastor came to talk with the kids. He is awesome with them, gets right down to their level and is so open & honest with them. The kids love it when he comes.

I had a fabulous date night on Friday  with my Dream Boy. We went grocery shopping! Actually, it's not as bad as it sounds......we do have fun when we're together. We picked out dinner and came home fixing it while putting away groceries and then settling in for our weekly Netflix fix. We are currently working through House of Cards, just starting on season 2. Not sure how many seasons are in it this series, but it is one that grabs your attention & you have to pay close attention to follow all the twists & turns in it.

Saturday was the busiest day of our weekend. Dream Boy headed off on a bike ride & I headed off to our prom venue to set up for portraits. We met back up at home and then headed into town together to celebrate a very special birthday. Dream Boy's Great Aunt turned 100 on Saturday & her church had a cake & ice cream open house for her.
Aunt Eleanor is on the left and my mother-in-law is on the right. Mom's mom, was Aunt Eleanor's sister. 

We walked into the church and were amazed at the display table. She had the original box with her wedding dress & veil stored inside, a dress from when she was a baby, her dress from her high school graduation and a dress from her wedding that she called her "going away" dress. Several pictures were scattered around the table of her in her wedding dress, her graduation dress and then pictures of her with her sisters and mom. She had them stored in her cedar chest and upon her recent move, they were found again and she proudly displayed them.

Aunt Eleanor just recently decided to move from her apartment into a senior assisted living center, but don't let that fool you. She is still very independent, only taking one prescription and that has just come about in the last year. She attends church regularly and is very active.

Amazing!

Saturday night I was the portrait photographer for our high school prom. The kids and parents of the junior class worked hard all day getting the venue jazzed up and it turned out so nice. The kids had a great time!
Junior Class of 2017
Senior Class of 2016

Don't they all look so nice all dressed up? It's amazing how different they all look when they dress up, just so grown up!

Sunday morning we headed off to church and stayed afterwards for an all church potluck. Aren't those the best? So many dishes and good food to chose from, why does it seem you never have a big enough plate?

We headed home and this girl, spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch.

Napping.

I was just feeling like I was recouping from the senior trip last weekend and then prom hit me and I felt like I was starting all over again. But a 2 hour nap works wonders on a cloudy, gray, cold Sunday afternoon.

This week will be spent editing pictures from prom and getting my order together, along with setting up a group session for my 2017 Senior Models. 

How was your weekend? Got any big plans for this week?

Well, as always, I hope you have a wonderful week, thank you for stopping by, even those of you who "secretly" read my blog.  LOL!