Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

This week for the photo challenge at said, “IN A NEW POST PUBLISHED SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE “THREE.”

I took this while in Texas visiting my youngest daughter.  We had just enjoyed lunch and tea at the Ambrosia Tea Room in Salado.  We were enjoying a nice walk together in the crisp November air.  She had been a married woman for only a month and I remember smiling at the realization of the subtle, but interesting changes in our relationship and conversations even after such a short time.

We took the time to slow down and enjoy the scenery around us and shared meaningful and heart warming conversation.  She is the photographer in the family and it was her idea to capture the “old bicycles on a fence”. 

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Threes

Three bicycles

Oh Christmas tree, MY Christmas tree

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

This Christmas is a first of sorts for my husband and I.  December 25, 2013 will be our first Christmas as empty nesters.

Don’t worry; this post isn’t going to be a sappy one lamenting a dismally quiet household and no one to wake up with us on Christmas morning.  Although we are disappointed that our eldest can’t make it home this year with our only grandchild, we will have our youngest and her husband here for the holidays.

With all of the ornaments laid out on the kitchen table this year, I made a decision.  I was going to split them and ship them!  I painstakingly and with absolute fairness, separated them into two large flat rate postal boxes.  I wrapped them using bubble wrap and tissue paper and one Christmas dish towel (a little extra). One of the boxes is on it’s way to Louisiana while the other heads for Texas.  Why, you might ask?  Well, I decided I had a couple of choices.  I could hoard them all and continue to have the same old tree year after year, or I could send them each a little piece of home, while also helping these young couples build up their Christmas decoration stock.  Why keep them until I’m old and grey? (wait, I’m already grey without color every six weeks) – anyway, I figured I would let them enjoy them and have memories of home hanging from their trees.

What was in it for me?  To be honest, as I packed all the cute, kiddie looking ornaments, I was dreaming of a tree similar to one I’d encountered on Pinterest, with a woodland animal theme.  You might think I’m not sentimental enough and that I should be pining for the ornament that a 6yr old made in art class.  Well, I did keep a couple that were made by their own little hands.  However, not for my tree; just for the memory.  I much prefer the memories of spending time with them and our conversations and laughter to things.

I marched right to Kohl’s the following day where I had already eyed the ornaments I liked and filled up a basket with owls, foxes, cardinals and others that would match my theme; Then it was off to Target and then Family Christian Store for more tree decorations.  I turned on Christmas carols, turned down the A.C. (yes, good old south FL weather) and began.  A couple hours later I stepped back, pleased and beamed when my husband said it was beautiful.

As families grow and change, a new tradition or a new twist on an old tradition helps to move us forward.  I have beautiful memories with my children decorating and them picking out an ornament every year, but they don’t live here anymore and this tree makes me happy.  It let me pour out some creativity and refresh an old theme.  We can’t dwell on the past and the way things were.  Things and people change and we can’t allow ourselves to get bogged down in the yesterdays and how things used to be.  We grow, people pass on, family members move, more members are added.

If you find yourself in a new season in life, make a change, do something different, something new and enjoy it!

I am reminded of a similar post called “Gone are the matching bows” that I wrote at a different time in my life last year about Christmas trees and letting them be for the children; you can click on the link below to check it out.

https://longwalksanddarkchocolate.com/2012/11/28/gone-are-the-matching-bows/

 

SONY DSC

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Infinite

Texas spring

Empty nest but a full heart

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As the curtains gently sway with the beautiful fall breeze on this quiet Thursday morning, I sit in the midst of the leftovers from the wedding; the items that they couldn’t quite squeeze into the very packed black Jetta now bound for Texas;  the one with “just married” fading on the back window.

As I take a few moments to reflect on the past several days, I smile broadly and my heart warms.  She said, “The wedding ceremony and the reception were everything I wanted them to be”. (and wasn’t that the goal?)

We were blessed before, during and after the wedding with friends and family who smoothed out the potential wrinkles prior to their occurring with their support, love and encouragement.  During the wedding ceremony, love permeated the crowd; the love between the bride and groom and also the love felt for both of them by so many family members and friends who came to share in the joy of their nuptials.

This now official “empty nester” knows that days will come when the sense of loss brushes across her heart in large, sweeping strokes.  But, at this moment I feel nothing but excitement and thankfulness; excitement about all that God has in store for them and thankfulness that another daughter has found love and happiness with her soul mate.

Yes, mom and dad may be all alone now but as the youngest takes that final leap and clears the nest; we will look on and smile knowing she has been equipped to soar.

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Dust bunnies and Diaries

Will I even miss the mess?

Will I even miss the mess?

“My mom used to force us to do this at least twice a year”, I said, as we sifted through each and every item in her closet and drawers.  My daughter is quite the packrat and I knew we had better take a day (and preferably a full one) before her move to Texas to dig in deep.

As we went through every box, purse, bag and crate piece by piece, she painstakingly decided which pile the item would make its home.

Memory after memory assaulted my mind as I tried to keep this a lighthearted event.  There were the multiple pairs of Toms that she began wearing after her first trip to Mexico, when she learned she could supply another child with a pair if we bought them.  This reminded me of how compassionate she has always been.  There was the birthday card from Granny that still had the crisp $2 bills tucked inside that she had been saving; the tiny pee wee cheerleader uniform she once wore; the drum sticks that light up when you play from her days of drum lessons; the Dr. Seuss books, stuffed animals and old report cards.

She laughed as she opened an old diary and began to read.  As I listened to the words written by a nine year old, describing her days in detail, the thing that brought me the most pleasure was the happiness reflected in her entries.  So, as we laughed over silly diary entries and I again hid tears, we reflected on the past.

When you clean the cobwebs and dust bunnies from things long forgotten, it’s akin to cleaning the cobwebs from the recesses of your mind, or removing the layers of dust accumulated from years of not remembering.

Thankfully, my mind is alive tonight with so many beautiful memories that I had tucked away.  It’s a joy and a pleasure to revisit them, to recall all the good times with my family.

A matter of trust

another FL sunset

another FL sunset

 

Since I work from home on a laptop all day, I try to make an effort to get outside and take a walk or work in the yard during my lunch break.

Today, as the sky threatened to open up and pour buckets on me any minute, I figured it best to stay close to home.

As I was weeding, I heard a rustle.  I thought it was just lizards (here I go again, denigrating the lizards; see yesterday’s post to understand) until I saw the familiar red hue of the male cardinal.  He wasn’t even four feet away from me, hanging out, hopping around in the shrubs.

I found myself both thrilled and somewhat amazed that he trusted me that much.  But, after all, I am out here every day.  My husband and I do keep his source of food brimming over for the continual taking.

The first time I ever saw the cardinals, they were very skittish and flew away if we got anywhere near, but with time and the proof that we care (food) and we won’t harm them, they are growing to count on the fact that they can come and go as they please.  I couldn’t be happier.

You know those people who you feel like you just can’t reach?  Their problems seem overwhelming; life has been seemingly overly difficult for them.  You want to reach out; you want to be that listening ear, to help them in some way.

Be reminded that trust takes time especially once it has been broken.   Gaining confidence takes patience.  That acquaintance may have lived through hurt you can only imagine.  What you perceive as anger and hatefulness might be a mask that hides years of pain.  Keep smiling at them.  Keep praying for them.

That teenager who lives down the street might have been burned more than once.  The surly attitude and atrocious manners might be hiding abuse.  Be gentle, and forbearing.  But also, be diligent, and persevere.  You will reach them one day.  You might be the only one who cares enough to wait quietly, with ears to listen, arms to hold and a heart that beats to give hope to others.

And a note…I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Boston and West, TX tragedies that have shook our nation.  We must pray diligently for swift justice to the perpetrator, spiritual, physical and emotional healing for all involved and hearts that are never hardened to another’s pain.

Blessings!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

Today when I got the email for the weekly photo challenge, it was pouring down rain, a dark and dreary day. At first, I thought I would have to use all old pictures because I really wanted to use pictures representing the magnificent color in God’s creation. I used a couple of older ones, but most of these are from today, after a cleansing rain drenched the plants outside.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the details

I took this in Texas and every time I look at it, I find myself looking at all the different elements and loving the way they all fit together.

something special along the way...Texas trip

something special along the way…Texas trip

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

This week’s photo challenge was “In a new post specifically created for this challenge, share a picture that says UNIQUE to you.”  These are all unique to me in different ways.  Things that all by themselves might not make a huge impact, but due to their pairings, situations or surroundings, they become “unique”.   Hope you enjoy!

A charming little place somewhere in Texas

A charming little place somewhere in Texas

Bird nest that fell out of my hydrangea when I was trimming last spring

Bird nest that fell out of my hydrangea when I was trimming last spring

Colorful buoys in Abacos

Colorful buoys in Abacos

Mossy phone booth; Olympic National Park

Mossy phone booth; Olympic National Park

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in pictures

This year has been a busy one, filled with many road trips, fun-filled days in the sun, trips to Indiana, California, Texas, Washington, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia and D.C. There are always so many photo ops when you travel as much as I have this year.

When I was home, I enjoyed capturing our beautiful FL sunsets and some of the abundant wildlife. We enjoy riding around in Big Cypress NP and taking pictures, looking at the deer; I was shocked to get such a good one of a bear.  The dolphins always come up behind our boat, but I have never been able to capture one in mid air, so I think that is my favorite shot this year!

My daughter and granddaughter were here with us part of the year as her husband finished up his 2nd tour in Afghanistan.  We enjoyed celebrating my granddaughters 2nd birthday together. While she was here we created a butterfly garden but I didn’t begin to see butterflies until they returned to CA, so I took the photo above and asked her mom to show her. Anyone who is a grandparent will understand my obsession with photographing her.

My love and I enjoyed fishing together and we celebrated our 19th anniversary.  He and our youngest entered a fishing tournament together and we spent lots of time watching her play softball and volleyball.

This has been quite a challenge; to narrow down in just a few pictures – It was a great year; lots of family time – I am truly blessed!

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