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.
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.”
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?
What 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. 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.
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 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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!
I married the love of my life, my soul mate, forty-five years ago. He is a Marine… A father… A coach… A hot date… Fun… A builder… A grandfather… Loyal husband…
I – Ice Cream
Do 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. 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 favorite 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. Our sons coming through one of the tighter spots on the trail in Natural Bridge State Park, 1989 Our middle son (on the right) with two of his friends under Sky Bridge, 1991 Our youngest son on Natural Bridge, 1997 Me on Sky Bridge, 2005 Lush forest and rock formation, Sky Bridge, 2005 Grandsons coming through the same spot as their dad and uncles above, 2011 Grandsons in a karst feature along trail at Natural Bridge State Park, 2011 Grandsons and me on Sky Bridge, 2011 Grandsons atop Natural Bridge, 2013 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.
From 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.
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 Academy 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. 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, MA 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
Oregon is a beautiful state, but it is a long way from Ohio. Our oldest son was transferred to Astoria, Oregon after 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!
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
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.
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.
When our grandsons are here, they make their own style of noise that is neither loud nor soft, but just happy sounds. They like to 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
Playing in the snow
Having breakfast in the park
Playing in the ocean
And now Riley has a forever friend
S – Surprise
A 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 community 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 sledding. 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.
Taney likes a good belly rub
Taney enjoys the sun
Taney is extremely affectionate
Taney likes being with his best friend
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 tombstones 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. This is a solemn and hallowed place. – It is unforgettable
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you like hiking vacations? One of the most gorgeous places we’ve hiked is Sedona in Arizona.
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
Korean War Monument
Vietnam Wall Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Monument
Massive and beautiful historic buildings are everywhere you turn
The White House
The Capitol Building
The Old Post Office Building
(which is closing in May for two years while under renovation and remodeling – it will become a Trump hotel)
The Supreme Court Building
The magnificent Eisenhower Office Building
(next to the White House)
The Treasury Building
(also next to the White House)
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
X-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. I think it has been fossilized. Since then we’ve had several games such Nintendo and Playstation. My grandsons also have a Wii.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Z – Zowie!
Zowie! I have completed the A-Z Challenge 2014!
80 thoughts on “A-Z Challenge 2014”
The angel story really touched me. 🙂
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Thank you. That was a tough one for me to write. I appreciate you heartfelt comment.
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You’re more than welcome. 🙂
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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!
D for Daughters-in-law is a wonderful tribute to your special friends. I LOVE THE PHOTO TOO! 🙂
Thank you so much! They are truly special.
Thanks for visiting my blog again. Blessings, Natalie 🙂
Thank you for visiting my blog today. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Blessings, Natalie 🙂
A really lovely set of posts. well done on completing the tour and I’d like to answer the question from letter A , Yes I believe in angels!
Thanks. I really enjoyed the A-Z. So glad you believe.
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.
I will definitely be stopping by, and often.
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?!
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.
What an accomplishment! Congratulations!
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.
Thank you! I enjoyed doing the challenge.
hey Michelle! Congratulations for your successful completion of the challenge! I love each of your posts, esp. the photos. 🙂
Awww, thanks so much! I almost backed out of doing the challenge the day before the first posting, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I had so much fun doing it! 🙂
even I wanted to participate but because of my travel plans and all other stuff I did not sign up this time 🙂
There is always next year to start thinking about.
yeah, maybe i will then 🙂
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
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!
The lipstick on the stone is heart-wrenching. I’ve been to the Arlington cemetery on once, but I’ll never forget it.
It was. It is so difficult going back there and remembering the day we met them.
Taney is not only an appropriate name, it’s adorable, just like her.
Taney is such a beautiful cat!!! I am a cat lover, too. And belly rubs are the best. 🙂
My grandsons will be happy to hear your comments. Thanks so much.
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!
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?
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!
How wonderful to be so close to your grandsons. I’m stopping by from the A to z, and I just subscribed to your blog. Thanks for paying mine a visit the other day.
Thank you for your comments and the follow. I am following your blog as well.
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
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.
Stopping in to say ‘hi’ from the A-Z Challenge 🙂
Thanks so much. I’ll hop over and checkout your blog.
I take loads of photos, but hardly ever print them out.
Love reading these! I have been making my way through them and find your posts quite enjoyable. The jolly jumper is simply precious. Reminds me of when my boys were that age.
Thank you so much. Off to visit my Jolly Jumper this weekend. 🙂
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 🙂
Awww Stephanie, your comments melted my heart. Thank you.
Superb set of posts. I am so glad the A to Z Challenge brought me to your blog. The post about angels was outstanding!
Thanks you so much. I am so glad you stopped by my blog. I checked out your’s as well. Fantastic job. I especially liked your post on Indian railways.
It was fun to go through your blog posts – your granddaughter jumping – my favorite – so happy!
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. 🙂
Well done for accepting the challenge and executing it so well! I couldn’t commit to the time to take part but seeing this makes me wish I had!!!
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.
Thank you It is a beautiful place that holds many of our family’s happy memories.
Enjoyed the virtual tour to Natural Bridge and Sky Bridge with you and your family, Michelle 🙂
Co-Host AJ’s wHooligan for the A to Z Challenge 2014
This is such a lovely way to approach A to Z! Love the pictures and themes:) Your granddaughter is the cutest “J” ever!!
Echoes of Olympus
A to Z #TeamDamyanti
Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you enjoyed my A-Z. My granddaughter has me wrapped around her finger already.
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.
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.
I’ve so missed flowers this long, long winter. Yesterday I planted a few packs of pansies, which did my heart tremendous good. Nice to meet you through the A-Z!
Flowers definitely boost my spirit after a long winter.
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!
Thanks for stopping by. I will hop right over.
I love walking my dog. It gets me out into the fresh air 🙂
Good for you! I am sure your dog loves the fresh air walks too.
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 🙂
Co-Host AJ’s wHooligan for the A to Z Challenge 2014
Thanks for leaving your comments. I have tried to insert a comment section after each post on this page, but for some reason, it has not worked.
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.
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!
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.
I’ve always gotten along well with my mother-in-law. It is a blessing in so many ways!Simply Sarah
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!
Thank you so much. I am a warm water person myself, but I may have to rethink that. Hadn’t thought about what everyone was doing in the water.LOL
What a great picture. You all look so happy. 🙂
its nice to see someone talk positive about in-laws 🙂
Thanks. I’m sure you would like my daughters-in-law. They are both wonderful ladies. I can’t imagine my life without them.
God bless you guys! 🙂
love cooking – all of it from choosing ingredients – prep – cooking – and of course the eating:)
Oh my goodness! Thanks for reminding me. I forgot to mention how much I like to eat it. LOL