A-Z Challenge 2014

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Please scroll down through the alphabet to read each day’s post. 

 

A – Do you believe in ANGELS?

It’s been only two months since he passed away, but she couldn’t stand by and drown in her grief.  Yet, how would she ever be able to go on without her son?  She knew she had to get out of the house, and yet when she did, everyone else was going about as if nothing had changed, as if nothing was wrong. She wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, “STOP!  Nothing is normal! Nothing is right! He is not here!” For her, it will never be the same again. SHE will never be the same again.  But she must do it, for her young grandsons who will never again see their uncle who was larger than life, for his son who, at two years of age, will never know what a fantastic, loving father he was.  Christmas shopping was the last thing she wanted to do, but she had to do it for them.Angel A-Z

Entering a children’s clothing store, she paused at the door. Even though there were others working up front, a young woman working in the back of the store came forward and offered her help, saying, “If you need anything, I’ll be right back there.” She walked around and found a couple of things for her two year old grandson and walked up to the counter.  The young woman again appeared and told the cashier, “I’ll take care of this lady.” Not being familiar with this particular store, the mother asked, in the event for a need to return, was there a store located convenient to where her grandson lived with his mother in Atlanta. The young woman stated that her brother had lived there but had passed away a few years earlier.  Tearfully, the mother confided that her son had lived there and recently passed away. The young woman, who was markedly different from the other cashiers at the store, had shiny black hair, multiple piercings and was dressed in dark colors with lots of chains, bangles, and rings, in addition to her earrings and other metals.  Reaching out and looking deep into the eyes of the grieving mother, she said, “My name is Angela, you can call me Angel. If you ever need me, I am always here.” Angels A-Z

The mother gathered up her packages and left the store to finish her Christmas shopping for her other grandsons. A few weeks later, she returned to the store to thank Angela for reaching out to her when she needed comfort. When she entered the store and looked around she didn’t see Angel.  She approached the cashier, who happened to be the store manager, and asked when Angela would be in. The manager said,”We don’t have an Angela here.”

“I was talking to her a few weeks ago and I came back to thank her.”  She then described the young woman and the manager told her no one by the name of Angela or anyone by that description had ever worked at the store. She returned home knowing that Angela or Angel was there for her that day to give comfort when it was needed so badly.

B – What is your favorite type of BEACH?

pail on beach - A-ZWhat is it about beaches that draw us to them? Is it the various sounds of the surf – crashing, lapping, rippling – or perhaps the feel of sand beneath our feet? Could it be that, amidst the noises of other beach goers, we are still able to find a sense of solitude? For me, it is the above and romping in the water with my sons, a time to read books, and a time to “zone out”. I’ve been to many different kinds of beaches – rocky beaches of New England, black volcanic beaches of Hawaii, white sand beaches and sea shell beaches of Florida, and beaches with cliffs above them. Some beaches have warm water (my kind of water) and others are icy cold. Is one type of beach more favorable than another?  I don’t think so. Each beach is unique in its own way. They each have their own beauty.

Do you favor one kind of beach over another?

C – Do you like to COOK?

Cooking is one of the most relaxing things I do.  Sometimes I just throw things together and they come out delicious, other times not so much.  Often I find recipes online or in cookbooks or magazines that look fantastic. Sometimes they are, other times not so much.  Of course, what a person thinks of something you cook depends on their individual preferences. Stove Cooking for family or friends gives me a great sense of satisfaction.  Partly because I love the preparation, and partly because of the warmth and camaraderie that inevitably comes with sharing a meal.

When my grandsons request a specific dish (oldest grandson like lasagna), I know that I’ve created a memory that I hope will bring warm thoughts of home wherever they go. What is your favorite meal?  Do you favor a roast or a casserole?  Speedy weeknight meals or gourmet dinners?  Do you tend to go to the same-old, same-old out of habit, or are you an adventurous cook?

D – Daughters-in-Law

So much is written and said about in-laws that is decidedly negative in tone, whether they are parents-in-law, sons-in-law, or daughters-in-law.  The world is full of in-law jokes.  I, however, have been blessed with two extraordinary daughters-in-law. Not only am I lucky to have two daughters-in-laws who are the most loving and giving people I’ve ever met, they are also the daughters I never had and my best friends. Though this photo is a few years old, it is one of my favorite because, since each of us lives in a different city, it is one of the few I have of just the three of us.

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E – Exercise

Exercise is a tremendously crucial component of a healthy lifestyle, yet many people claim to hate exercising. Those very same people probably didn’t hesitate to ride a bike, skate, swim, climb a tree, jump rope, run (you get the picture) when they children. It was called playing. It still is, but the playground looks a bit different. Think of what a typical gym looks like, and then think of the local park or school playground. They’re not so different, are they?

Did you long to be able to fit on your child’s big wheel? Go hop on a recumbent bike. Did you enjoy climbing the monkey bars as a child? Have you tried a climbing wall? What about all of those exercise machines? They are just playground equipment in disguise. Go to a gym and check it out. Try some of the different exercise equipment or choose one of the multitudes of exercise classes available. Find your exercise niche.

I exercise almost every day. My favorites include walking (especially deep water walking), Pilates on the reformer, TRX training, and Swiss ball exercises. Let’s take a look at some of these options.

I took private Pilates reformer classes for about four years. When my instructor told me I had mastered even the most advanced exercises and images (1)suggested I get certified as an instructor, I decided it was time to drop the lessons and get my own reformer. There are a wide variety of exercises, and all are designed to strengthen your core while strengthening all of the other muscles. They are ideal for flexibility and are so much fun.

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The TRX is a new addition to our home gym. Like the reformer above, the exercises are whole body, but concentrate on challenging the core.

images (20) The Swiss ball is an extremely versatile piece of equipment. You can use it with dumbbells,do various Pilates exercises, stretch, and even use it as a chair to relieve low back   pain. If space is a problem, the Swiss ball is the solution.

Other pieces of exercise equipment that require little space and are relatively inexpensive are body bars, resistance bands, and dumbbells. If you travel, no problem, throw a few resistance bands in your luggage. The secret is to find exercises you enjoy, vary your routine so you don’t get bored and to keep your muscles challenged, and make it a priority.

Did you say you were off to the gym? Have a great workout!

F – Flowers

It is early spring, and I can see the first flowers of the season emerging in my garden. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, crocus, and narcissus have begun to peek from their winter’s hideaway.  The blooms won’t last long, but that’s okay. They are the precursors of what’s to come. images Before long summer will be upon us, and my garden will be a kaleidoscope of color with the purple clematis, pink, red, and yellow roses, white daisies, lavender phlox, yellow, lavender, and coral Hemerocallis, and pink and yellow coreopsis.  The Gaillardia, butterfly bushes, and Monarda will be difficult for the butterflies to resist. We have a small backyard garden and several rose gardens, but I load them with color.  My patio gets a lot of sun so perfect for succulents, cacti, and other sun-loving plants.  My shaded front porch is the picture-perfect setting for pots of begonias, ferns, and hosta. So much beauty to look forward to, I can hardly wait.

G – Grandchildren

Thinking of our grandchildren makes me smile, but being with them finds me overjoyed! When our children were born I felt we had received the most beautiful gifts, but when our grandchildren were born I knew our children had presented us with the greatest gifts of all. Tyler and Taylor in Groton with New London in the background 11-17-13 (1) - Copy

Nearly 15 years ago, our oldest son and his lovely wife presented us with our first grandchild, followed three and a half years later with their second son.  At the time, they were living out of town, but moved here when “our guys” were 5 ½ and 2 years old. During the next six years, they lived about a mile away, and we were able to see them several times a week or more. It was terrific having them so close by and watching first hand as they developed into delightful and remarkable young people. A few years ago our son accepted a position in Boston and moved there. We miss “our guys” terribly, but when we visit, or they come here, it is as though no time had intervened. Our grandsons are the same loving, witty, captivating boys that once lived here, and every moment spent with them is something we both treasure.  They are both avid sports enthusiasts, especially favoring soccer, love to go hiking, enjoy fishing, and like most young people, they love playing video games.

Cruise - Ian (3) Son number two had a son who lives in Atlanta.  Our son passed away when his little boy was two years old.  It amazes us how much these two are alike, even though our grandson was so young when his daddy died. They look alike, sound alike, act alike, have the same mannerisms and expressions, and enjoy the same interests, including a love of math. Our grandson will be twelve years old this summer.  Even though nearly ten years have passed since our son’s death, visiting our grandson brings bittersweet moments with it. We truly feel blessed that our son left this beautiful gift of his son.

Our youngest son and his charming wife presented us with our first granddaughter in September 2013.  Yes, of course, the whole family is delighted finally to have a girl among all those boys.  She is a beautiful little girl and has won over the hearts of Grammie and Grampie, as well as her parents, aunts and uncles, and her cousins.  Thanks to FaceTime and instant photos via text message, we get lots of photos and videos of our little sweetie.  We also get to see her often because our daughter-in-law’s family lives here and she brings our granddaughter home to visit both families. Our granddaughter lives in Northern Virginia because her daddy is a lieutenant in the Coast Guard, but he is being transferred clear across the country to Astoria, OR (which happens to be where our oldest son met his wife while he was in the CG, and where she grew up). It saddens us to see them move so far away; while at the same time provides us joy that they are living their dream.

Even though we don’t see our grandchildren as often as we’d like (which for me would be every day – I cannot get enough of them), we couldn’t be happier to be grandparents.  Grandchildren are the greatest gift for sure!

 H- Hubby

I married the love of my life, my soul mate, forty-five years ago. wedding photo 3-21-69 He is a Marine… On Marine Base October 1968 A father… South Carolina - July 1991 - Fort Sumpter - Ryan, Dad, Todd, Greg   A coach… QC Raiders - Coach James talking with team members 8-87   A hot date… Mom & Dad - Grad 2006 Fun… IMG_0214 A builder… Dad and Greg (10.5 yrs) working on basement wiring 8-88 A grandfather… Natural Bridge 7-9-11 (10) Loyal husband… DSC01701

I – Ice Cream

Ice Cream aDo you like ice cream?  I love ice cream!! I could eat it every day if it weren’t so full of cream and sugar. The best way to eat it is to let it slowly melt on your tongue. Ummm! Yummy! If you live in the southwestern Ohio, you have some of the best ice cream parlors available.  We have UDF (United Dairy Farmers).  They have unusually tasty ice cream and lots of flavors in virtually every neighborhood, and you can get it in grocery stores, as well.Ice Cream d Aglamesis is the place to go if you desire an old fashioned ice cream parlor atmosphere.  They only have two locations, but if you just have to have that delicious Aglamesis ice cream, it is also available in the freezer section of many local grocery stores. My absolute fIce Creamavorite is Graeter’s.  This has to be the best ice cream in the world! Though Graeter’s has more locations than Aglamesis, you might have to go a bit farther to enjoy it in one of their stores.  They even have stores in a few locations outside of Cincinnati where they are located. I love a scoop of delicious old fashioned chocolate chip. What is your favorite flavor?  Do you like sprinkles on top? Cone or a cup? Soft serve? Sundae? Waffle cone? There endless ways to enjoy ice cream, and I like them all.

I think I’ll go have some ice cream now.

J – Jolly Jumper

Our granddaughter is a six months old cutie-pie.  Watch this video to see why she is a jolly jumper.

I love this little girl!

K – Kentucky

Kentucky is a beautiful state with its mountains, karst topography (caves and underground streams), forests, and natural rock formations. It’s where you will find Mammoth Cave, Cumberland Falls, Natural Bridge, Daniel Boone National Forest, among other equally impressive sites. Natural Bridge and neighboring Sky Bridge, located in Red River Gorge National Recreation Area are spectacular and provide some fairly rigorous hiking. It is worth the trek. The views are incredibly beautiful. The rock formations are magnificent! It is one of our family’s favorite weekend destinations and is about 156 miles from our home in SW Ohio.

Our sons with my husband in Natural Bridge State Park, 1989. Natural Bridge - SKy Bridge July 1989 (George, Todd, Ryan, Greg Our sons coming through one of the tighter spots on the trail in Natural Bridge State Park, 1989  Natural Bridge - SKy Bridge July 1989 (Greg, Ryan, Todd, Mom) Our middle son (on the right) with two of his friends under Sky Bridge, 1991  Natural Bridge - Skybridge June 1992 (Josh Rupley, Danny Dwyer, Greg under Skybridge) Our youngest son on Natural Bridge, 1997  Sky Bridge and Natural Bridge Trip 8-97 Ryan (13.5 yrs) Me on Sky Bridge, 2005  My Pictures0019 Lush forest and rock formation, Sky Bridge, 2005  My Pictures0024 Grandsons coming through the same spot as their dad and uncles above, 2011  Natural Bridge 7-9-11 (6) Grandsons in a karst feature along trail at Natural Bridge State Park, 2011  Natural Bridge 7-9-11 (17) Grandsons and me on Sky Bridge, 2011  Sky Bridge 7-9-11 (5) Grandsons atop Natural Bridge, 2013  12photo I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to Natural Bridge and Sky Bridge with my family.

L – Love and Laughter  

Love and laughter are the foundations for a happy home. As a child, our home was always filled with laughter.  With so many living in one house (grandparents, parents, six children, and assorted pets), there was always something to laugh about. Love abounded, as well. My parents set the standard that I followed in my own home.  Never leave the house or allow anyone else leave, in anger. Remind them that they are loved. Regardless of what you are doing or how busy you are, always say “I love you” to every family member every day. My parents have long since passed on, but my siblings and I never end a phone call or depart from one another without expressing our love.

Todd Greg Ryan 9-04From the day we married, my husband and I have remained true to this foundation. We both wanted the same thing – a big happy family. Years after my children have grown and moved to their own homes, I can still hear my sons laughing, playing jokes on each other (and on us), and in general enjoying each other. They were the best of friends, and they were always finding something to laugh about together. They are as close as or closer than they were as children. When we are together, you can feel the love each of us feels for the others.

This is what I hope my sons remember about our home – that it was filled with love and laughter.

M – Mother

When we are children we take our mothers for granted, after all, they are always there and always attending to our needs. They play with us, feed us, and hug us when we’re hurt or sad. They tuck us into bed, and come to our rescue when dreams frighten us.

As adults, we recognize that our mothers are our role models.  It is from them we learn to love and care for our families. Most often we learn to cook and do the cleaning and laundry. But more than that, they teach us about compassion, forgiveness, caring, and unconditional love.Mom in Rocker - Copy

My mother is no longer with us, but I think of her so often. Some days I wish I could call her and ask her things or share a part of my life with her. My mom and I are both strong willed people so it would be inaccurate to say we always saw eye-to-eye. We didn’t, but she was my mom, and I was her daughter, and love for each other never wavered. I wish my mother was still around so I could tell her “I’m sorry.” “Teach me.” “Let’s go shopping.” “Forgive me.” “What would you like to do?” “I love you.” “Thank you.” But most of all, I would like to reach out and hug her. I am who I am because she was my mother.

 N – New England

My husband and I had never been to New England before our oldest son went to school in Connecticut at the U.S. Coast Guard AcademyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA in the early 1990’s. It was always one of those places we will visit someday. We took advantage of the many times we were there visiting to explore the area – Mystic, home of Mystic Seaport, and Stonington are two of our favorite places. The area is extremely picturesque and abounds in historic sites and natural beauty.  There are rock walls and lighthouses, including the New London Ledge Lighthouse, which is purported to be haunted. Many different drawbridges, but one of the oldest and most picturesque is the Mystic River Bascule Bridge.Bascule Bridge A great day of exploring the area always ends with dinner at S & P Oyster Co. or Mystic Pizza. Twelve years later our youngest son also went to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and we got to see these favorites again, as well as some new stops.

Boston, MADSC01932 is another New England highlight on my bucket list. Our oldest son and his family moved to Boston a few years ago, so my life long desire to go see Boston has obviously come to fruition. I love Boston! It is an amazing city, so full of energy and history! The historic North End is home to the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House. If you love good Italian food, the North End is the place to go.

The city of Boston has a abundance of fascinating sites. There is Faneuil Hall and Faneuil Marketplace (Quincy Market), a gastronomic delight. Located nearby is the Boston Inner Harbor. There are plenty of hotels near the Inner Harbor which is a prime location for heading out to sightsee.  While in Boston, a must visit is the Black Rose, an Irish tavern where the food is terrific, and the Guinness flows freely. There are simply too many points of interest in Boston to identify them all.

My husband and I want to venture north of Boston and visit Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont one of these days, but there is still so much for us to explore in Boston.  The most notable Boston highlight, for us, is that is where two of our grandsons, our son, and our daughter-in-law live. Seeing our family trumps the best Boston has to offer.

O – Oregon

downloadOregon is a beautiful state, but it is a long way from Ohio.  Our oldest son was transferred to Astoria, Oregon imagesafter graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the mid-nineties. It is there that he met and married his beautiful wife (they now reside in Boston). We toured his base on the Columbia River, explored Oregon’s beaches on the Pacific Ocean, and saw Tillamook Island Light, among other fascinating and scenic spots. The hardest part for me was the time difference. By the time he got home from the base, we were getting ready for bed.  I tried calling him in the morning before taking his brothers to school, to realize he was still in bed at 4:00 am. No, he was not happy to talk to his mother at that hour!NR_OregonCoast_Overview_12855646_ZachSchepf_-652x521

Now once again, part of our family will be living in Oregon. Our youngest son, a CG lieutenant and his wife and daughter are moving to Astoria, Oregon and will be there for the next three years.  (Yes, we are talking about our precious granddaughter moving so far away). Since graduating from the academy in the 2006, he has been stationed in Florida, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, all much closer to home. We have enjoyed the fact they’ve lived in relative close proximity to us. We are excited for them and the adventure of living and working somewhere they have never lived before.  They love hiking and Oregon is just the place for that with the lush forests, rocky beaches, and several national parks within driving distance. Besides, we get to visit!

P – Photo Project

Do you have lots of photos of your family and friends? How about selfies? We are a crazy photo taking family.  We have bookshelves full of photo albums that I have painstakingly kept current for years. I did photo albums for each of our sons too. The problem is no one looks at photo albums. They sit on the shelves and collect dust, and some of the older ones have become so brittle they would fall apart if anyone did look at them.

Every room in our house has family photos framed on the walls and on tables or dressers. I love being able to see our photos – both old and new.

To solve the problem of so many photo albums, I am scanning all of the older photos (pre-digital) to my computer. I’ve been working on it for about a year now, and I am only half way through.

What do you do with your photos?   Do you put them in albums or keep them on your hard drive or on your phone?

Q – Quiet

Playing Private Investigator Todd (7.5 yrs) Greg (2 yrs) 2-80.As empty nesters, we have a much quieter house than we did when our sons were growing up. Sometimes it is just way too quiet.  I miss the doors swinging open, and young voices calling out, “Mom, where are you? I’m home!” The sounds of our sons laughing with each other over something funny that happened at school or a funny line in a movie are now just memories. I miss the sounds of them playing quietly together. The sounds of them coming in and out of the house with their friends, rooting around in the kitchen for a snack, taking their shoes off and dropping them on the floor upstairs in their bedrooms were all happy noises I enjoyed hearing.Ryan captures his brothers 85

Each of my sons had their own level of noise.  The oldest son clomped and slammed doors. He was noisy even when he wasn’t doing anything. The middle son was quiet. He knew where all the squeaky boards were, and even taught the youngest son. Those two could walk soundlessly through the house, but it was unquestionably the middle son who had it perfected. Mostly, the youngest son was neither loud nor exceptionally quiet.

4-28-10 (5)When our grandsons are here, they make their own style of noise that is neither loud nor soft, but just happy sounds. They like toDSC01218 fish in the lake behind our house, but when they aren’t here fishing, even the lake is too quiet.

What about you? Do you like your home noisy or quiet?

R – Riley

Riley is our granddog. Youngest son and his wife adopted Riley from a shelter, and she has turned out to be the best dog in the world.

She loves snuggling with her stuffed animals

Hanging out with friends 8-10-13

 

Playing in the snow

Riley loves the snow 3-17-14

Having breakfast in the park

August 31, 2013 Breakfast in the park

Playing in the ocean

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And now Riley has a forever friend

Riley and Josie 11-16-13

S – Surprise

DSC01174A few years ago my husband and I decided to downsize from our large two story house to a smaller ranch style home.  We looked in our communityKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA and in many of the neighboring communities for the perfect house for us. Our grandsons, who at the time, lived about a mile from us, protested if we looked anywhere but in our community. They wanted us to stay nearby, and of course we wanted to be close by them. After months of looking, we finally found the house we wanted, and the bonus was that it was near our son’s home.

We bought our house in December during a winter we had an unusual amount of snow. Since we hadn’t told our grandsons about the house (we wanted to surprise them), we arranged to take them to the house under the premise that we were going to clear the snow off the drive for a friend who was out of town.

When we arrived at the house, my husband started to clear the drive, and my daughter-in-law and I told the boys to come inside as their clothing was still damp from IMG_0216sledding. The oldest asked why I had a key and I responded that I had to take care of some things inside for our friend.  When we entered the house, the guys very politely stood in the foyer and asked why our friend didn’t have any furniture.  I told them that it was our new home, and they excitedly took off to explore. “Gramma, did you know you have a big lake in your back yard?” “Gramma, I can’t find your upstairs.” “Gramma, you have a BIG basement!” They were extremely excited and totally surprised.

Did they approve of our new home? ABSOLUTELY!

T – Taney

Taney, our grandcat, is named for the USCGC Taney. Our oldest son was a lieutenant in the Coast Guard at the time he acquired our grandcat, and with the help of our oldest grandson who at the time was about 4, gave the little kitten the name Taney. It is a particularly appropriate name, not only because of their connection with the Coast Guard, but also because everyone in the family has a first name that starts with the letter T.

Our oldest grandson quickly became attached to his kitten and remains so to this day. Taney is about 10 years old

Taney is an inside cat, but has on occasion slipped out, however, most of the time he seems content to stay inside. photo 3

Taney likes a good belly rub

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Taney enjoys the sun

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Taney is extremely affectionate

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Taney likes being with his best friend

Tyler and Taney June 16, 2013

U – Unforgettable

Whenever we visit Arlington National Cemetery, I am struck anew by the sacrifice those buried there made for this beautiful country we live in. Row upon row of white DSC01295DSC01710tombstones and burial niches too numerous to count are a stark reminder of the enormity of combat. As you stroll past Section 60 (where recent war casualties are buried), it is not uncommon to see a parent or a spouse of a fallen serviceman grieving – a father kneeling before a tombstone with his head bowed, a mother in a folding chair reading to her son/daughter, or a young wife lying on her husband’s grave.ss-120528-memorial-day-new-02.ss_full[1] This is a solemn and hallowed place. – It is unforgettablePicture 036

We visit Arlington often as my husband’s father is interred there. During one such visit a few years ago, a young mother walked by carrying her baby. We overheard her whisper to her daughter, who had never met her father, “Let’s go see Daddy.” Our youngest son and his wife were with us, and there wasn’t a dry eye among us.

We spoke with the young woman before we left. We hugged her. We cried with her. On another visit a couple of years later, she wasn’t there, but there were paper cut-out hearts and a toddler’s toys beneath his niche. The young mother will not let her daughter forget the father she never knew. – He is unforgettable.

Recently, we made another trip to Arlington, and as is our practice, after visiting Dad we stopped by to pay our respects to this brave man who gave all. No, we did not see the young wife there, but she had been there not long before and left lipstick marks where she had sent kisses to him. She will never forget.  We will not forget. – This is unforgettable!photo

V – Vacations

Who doesn’t love a vacation?

When I was a child, my family went on camping vacations.

One of the earliest vacations my husband and I took was to Disney World with sons number one and number two.

Disneyworld 8-7-81 Todd (9.5yrs) Dad and Greg (3.5 yrs)

There was a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida one year.  The alligators came right up to the picnic tables at the condo where we were staying, and went swimming in the pool. There was a gorgeous flowering tree outside our kitchen window, and the beach was perfect with lots of seashells, warm water, horseshoe crabs, sand dollars, sting rays, and sunshine.

Ryan & Greg on Beach at South Seas Plantation, Captiva 7-92 (2) Greg and Ryan's ocean finds - horseshoe crab, sand dollars, starfish 7-92

Our favorite vacation spot was Kiawah Island, SC. We’ve been there more years than I can count.  The bike trail, ice cream shop, the beach, and the many, many nearby sight-seeing attractions kept us coming back.

Greg and Ryan at Kiawah 7-99 (2) Kiawah 7-98 (2) Ryan, Tyler, Todd, Dad - Kiawah 6-2000

Another favorite beach vacation was when my husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary in Maui. Snorkeling and hikes across the lava flows were fabulous! And, there were those amazing drinks in a scooped out pineapple.

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We’ve also done many city vacations – Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, Scottsdale and others, but my favorite city for exploring is Washington, DC. No matter how often you visit DC, there is always more to see.

Bellagio Fountains View of Chicago River, Trump Tower, Chicago Tribune BuildingDSC00545DSC00948

 

Do you like hiking vacations?  One of the most gorgeous places we’ve hiked is Sedona in Arizona.

Mom & Ryan at Sedona 4-01 (2)

Are there any other vacation locales on my bucket list? Tours of Gettysburg and other Civil War sites, trips through Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, Europe (England – France – Switzerland – Germany – Italy – Spain), and a vacation in St. Thomas top my list of travel wishes.

W – Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a fabulous place to visit, and is one of my favorite cities. My husband and I go there often. Two of our sons have been stationed in Washington while in the Coast Guard, so we have been there more than the average person.

The monuments are amazing. My favorites are:

Franklin D. Roosevelt Monument

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Washington Monument

Washington_Monument_Panorama

Korean War Monument

korean-war-memorial-1

Vietnam Wall Memorial

vietnam_war_memorial_at_night_washington_dc

Thomas Jefferson Monument

Jefferson_Memorial_At_Dusk_1

Massive and beautiful historic buildings are everywhere you turn

The White House

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The Capitol Building

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The Old Post Office Building

(which is closing in May for two years while under renovation and remodeling – it will become a Trump hotel)

Old_Post_Office_Building_Washington_DC

The Supreme Court Building

USSupremeCourtBuildingDomeView1

The magnificent Eisenhower Office Building

(next to the White House)

Eisenhower Office Building

The Treasury Building

(also next to the White House)

treasury

There is so much more to see in Washington, D.C. that I could never mention all of them. This is a fabulous city. If you haven’t been there, it’s time to start planning your visit.

X – X-Box

800px-Xbox-consoleX-Box is a funny name for a game, but it is a game my grandsons love. I guess X-Box isn’t truly a game, but a means to play a game or a game console. According to Wikipedia, X-Box is Microsoft’s video gaming brand, but to my grandsons it means hours of intense fun. Whenever I ask them to send me a wish list for their birthdays or Christmas, you can bet there will be one or two X-Box games listed.

Did you have X-Box when you were growing up? My oldest son had an Atari game.  800px-Atari-2600-Wood-4Sw-SetI think it has been fossilized. Since then we’ve had several games such Nintendo and Playstation.  My grandsons also have a Wii.600px-Wii-Console

I have never liked video games. I just don’t have the patience to play them. We have an old Playstation now that our grandsons still use when they visit, but in between their visits, it never gets turned on.

Taylor and Tyler3 2-1-09 - Copy

What about you? Do you like video games? Do you play X-Box games or another kind of video game player?

Y – Yard

When our children were born; my husband and I wanted a nice yard for our young children to play in, one that we could fence to keep them safe. Our first house had a large flat backyard and was on the corner, so we fenced it and set up a swing set.   It was a terrific yard for them to play in any time of year. As our children got older, there was plenty of room for a kid’s baseball game or soccer practice.

Greg - 19 months, August 1979 (2) Todd (9.5 yrs) Greg - almost 4 yrs 1-82

As our family grew, we outgrew the space in our first house and moved to a larger house. It had a spacious backyard that we fenced because the youngest was just a baby when we moved.  We also had a lovely front yard, and we put up a basketball net so our guys could play basketball as they got older. The backyard had another swing set for the youngest, and there was a fairly steep slope in the back where we could set up a slip-in-slide so they could beat the summer heat.

Ryan - 4 yrs and Greg 9.5 years November 87 (2) Ryan (4.5 yrs), Greg (10 yrs), Todd (16 yrs) 6-88 - CopySlip-n-Slide - Greg (age 10.5) Ryan (age 4.5) June 1988

Our next home was purchased after the guys had grown up and the youngest was in college.  It had a small backyard with woods, a bridge over the little creek and a stone trail through the woods.  It was fun for our grandsons to play in the woods when they visited even though it was designed for adult relaxation.

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When my husband retired, we downsized and moved into a house with a nice backyard for relaxing. It is on a seven acre lake and gives us a beautiful view. Our grandsons like to fish in it when they visit.

7-11-11 (3) photo 4

 

Z – Zowie!

Zowie! I have completed the A-Z Challenge 2014!

80 thoughts on “A-Z Challenge 2014

  1. Hi!
    Just found your blog. I am working my way through your A-Z challenge and living it! I’m sure I will have a few more comments to add.

    O-Oregon: My son is also in the Coast Guard and is now stationed in Astoria with his family. I’m heading up in July for a visit.

    E-Exercise: I’m a writer (Dead Girls Don’t Blog), so I spend way too much time sitting on my bum, Three times a week, I drag myself to the gym, because I know I must, but tomorrow I’m going in with a new attitude. It’s a playground! And those machines are playground equipment in disguise. Love it!

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  2. Youʻre a hiking enthusist as I – loved going through your snapshots throughout your life – so much fun – esp. loved your Maui trip – nice! Thanks so much for visiting my blog – please stop by anytime – Iʻll be keeping storytelling, writing, and reading alive on my posts.
    Mahalo, Sue

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  3. Love, love, LOVE the Jolly Jumper! I laughed right along with her. Sounded like a room full of adults gazing upon her while she jumped – whatever did you do with your free time before grandchildren? She’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL. But then, you know that! Who’m I talkin’ to?!

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    1. Julie, I’m glad you enjoyed it. My son and daughter-in-law send me photos and/or videos nearly every day. Megan’s is in town this week for her sister’s wedding shower and, of course, she brought Josie. We had a wonderful time yesterday – Megan had her car serviced and I kept Josie. The time for them to move clear across the country is marching closer and closer. I know I will go to Oregon to visit, but it won’t be as easy to get there as it has been to get to Virginia. I just love that little sweetie so much! Gonna miss her.

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  4. This is an amazing set up – I love the way you’ve added to it each day rather than one post after the other. It makes such an impact now that you are the whole way through it. Congrats.

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  5. Have you tried cruising? That’s one of our very favorite ways to travel. It’s all inclusive, and you can hit several sites in one vacation. We don’t usually vacation, we just move and become thoroughly acquainted with a new place. Of course, we might not be doing that as much now that the kids are getting older. =)

    True Heroes from A to Z

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    1. Youngest son and his wife love cruises, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to try it. Everyone tells me how small the berths are and I am extremely claustrophobic. No one wants a raving, screaming claustrophobe next to them. Glad you enjoy it. We didn’t vacay during the years my husband was coaching our son’s soccer team – all those out-of-town soccer tournaments used up his vacation time and our vacation money!

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  6. Your photo project sounds interesting! I’ve been trying to figure out what to do myself. What are you going to do after you have them all scanned and organized? Do you have them backed-up on a disk? I’m always afraid I’m going to lose all our digital photos. Photo books seem like a good option (http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-books), but I think they could get expensive, and then you have more albums laying around collecting dust.

    Riley is adorable!! Melts my heart 🙂 and reminds me of our little girl Sasha, especially the snow picture. Sasha loves getting covered in snow. Oh, and your house is stunning!! Having a lake in your backyard would be amazing! I love it!

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    1. I have them backed up on my computer and on an external drive. I will copy photos for each of my sons so they have the ones that are important to them. I look at them all of the time. I love photos. I run some of them in a screensaver, but I have way too many to include all, so every now and then I switch them out. With the thousands of pics I have the photo books would be expensive, and that would defeat the purpose. I am trying to clear space.
      Riley is a sweetheart. We got to see her Easter weekend when we went to Josie’s baptism, which took place in the same church in Alexandria that George Washington attended. Riley loves the snow. (I’ll have pics of our weekend coming up in the near future).
      Thank you. We love having the lake behind us. It is very restful. No boats, swimming, wading allowed, but people can fish (throw back required).
      I am so behind in everything since our trip, but that is the price you pay for a fun getaway. I did manage to keep up my A-Z Challenge, but it was very challenging!
      Hope you had a fantastic Easter. Did you spend it with family?

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      1. Good call on backing-up. I really have to get on top of that too. Although, right now I’m focused on creating a large picture gallery wall, so I have to start going through our photos and picking out the ones I like best. I feel overwhelmed already haha.

        Oh how cool to be in such a historic church! I can’t wait to see pictures of your trip 🙂 Hopefully you can see them all again before they leave for Oregon. Your pictures from there are beautiful! I love the lights at night on the bridge and the greenery… so peaceful feeling.

        Thank you! Actually, my husband and I had a quiet Easter at home just the two of us. He had to work and didn’t get home until dinner time, so we just decided to do an easy crock-pot meal. I love seeing family, but it was nice to have a stress-free holiday as compared to Christmas and Thanksgiving. I hope you guys had a wonderful Easter too!

        You’re doing great on the challenge! I can’t wait to read more!

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  7. Thank you for sharing bits and pieces of your life with us passing through via the A-Z Challenge. I enjoy the positive cheer in your writing voice. A few times, as I was reading, I’d think, yes, that’s me, too. For instance, the Husband is a great date and the Mama and I were always at odds when we were both younger. 🙂
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and checking out my A-Z Challenge. I was apprehensive about doing the challenge, but now that I’ve started it, I found it isn’t as hard as I thought it would be to write something everyday. The biggest plus is that I am having a lot of fun with it. I will hop on over to your blog and check it out.

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  8. I love this!!! Your posts and ideas for each letter are so wonderful and touching. Especially the ones on your family. Jolly-jumper, adorable! Husband, love it (such a cute couple too–your wedding photo is gorgeous)! Good-looking grandsons. Beautiful family. And your post on your Mother totally brought tears to my eyes. I can’t wait to read more 🙂

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    1. Awww. Thank you!
      I am glad you enjoyed my blog. I stopped by yours and it looks really interesting. I’ll have to spend some time there.
      As for my granddaughter – she is the apple of my eye for sure. But then, so are all of my grandsons. 🙂

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    1. Thank you. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up with it, but here I am nearly 1/2 way through and I’m still going. It really is a lot of fun, but I wish I had found time to write a few ahead. Next year you’ll have to give it a try.

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  9. I am glad you are part of the A-Z. I just read through your past posts, and here’s a couple answers I missed giving. Yes, I believe in angels, but no, I don’t like to cook.
    Is far as my grandchildren go? They can cheer up even the worst of days. Love them to pieces.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I am having a lot of fun with this challenge.
      I checked out your A-Z Challenge posts. I love your prompts. especially ELEPHANT. I love elephants, and collect elephant figurines.
      BTW – I definitely understand about grandchildren. They sure can work some magic.

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  10. Hi…saw you over at Damaria’s blog. I’m an exerciser too but try to incorporate it into my day, as opposed to a gym (which I too tried). I use a treadmill, do pull ups (I have a doorway setup), and also have the swiss ball….which I’m still trying to figure out. You gave me some ideas! Come check out my blog and learn about Yummy Fruits!

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  11. Hi Michelle! Read all your posts from A to E. I am unable to find a separate comment section for each post!
    A : Angel was indeed an angel for you that day, to uplift you. But didnt that spook you later?
    B : For me, a beach is to zone out too… read and relax is my mantra! 🙂
    C : While I prefer cooking regular food, my husband is great at experimenting. He is passionate about cooking and tries all different recipes and cuisines!
    D : That’s such a happy pic of 3 of you and you are truly blessed to have such wonderful DILs 🙂
    E : It’s walking and swimming for me!
    Have a great weekend 🙂
    Shilpa Garg
    Co-Host AJ’s wHooligan for the A to Z Challenge 2014

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  12. Thank you for your comment in my blog.
    I like cooking with pressure cookers. I use one almost every day.
    I don’t attend any exercise classes, but I like taking a walk and doing stretch excercises.
    I enjoyed reading your posts.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. I’ve never used a pressure cooker. I saw one blow up when I was a child and that did it for me. No pressure cooker has ever graced my kitchen. 😦
      Taking a walk and stretching are both great!

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  13. Thanks. I am not a cold water person. When my sons were at home they always teased that I wore long underwear until the 4th of July. I may have to rethink getting in warm water though.

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  14. I definitely like cold water beaches, having grown up on the Pacific. Warm water beaches make me think of what the kids nearby have done IN the water . . . Nice a-to-z challenge format and writing!

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