The end of an era

I’m not going to cry. I’m not. I’m not. I’m not.

Okay, yes, I cried.

Today is the first day of Pre-K for Twix. And, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit this is a bittersweet day for both Entrepreneur and me. She has been with us since the day she was born. We were at the hospital when she arrived three weeks early, one day ahead of a February snowstorm.

She came home to our house when our daughter and Peanut were living with us. We were right there with her Mama when there were concerns about health issues stemming from her premature birth.

After our daughter went back to work, I transitioned to working my job from home so she didn’t have to worry about child care. And so my journey  with our second grand girl began.

Twix’s health issues improved and she flourished with so many caregivers watching over her. I made her baby food and she went everywhere with me. She took her first steps in our home and it was here she said her first words.

Even when they bought their own home and moved out, she continued to show up Monday through Friday at 7:30am while Mama went to work and Peanut went to school. We watched her grow from an infant into an inquisitive toddler…and now into a precocious preschooler.

I know she is, technically, not my daughter, but she has become such a part of me over these past four and a half years.

And now we have to let her go. As hard as this is for me, I believe it’s going to be doubly hard on Entrepreneur. She’s been his little shadow ever since she could walk, and a shining light in the middle of a very dark time for him.

She has her new backpack, new first day of school outfit, Nana-made quiet time blanket, pillow and small luvie. She is ready.

I’m just not sure I am.

Blog hopping with Happy Tuesday from Comedy Plus and Pictorial Tuesday from Peabea’s Photos ‘n Scribbles

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Blended Beginnings Part 1

Earlier this summer, our oldest daughter and her man made the decision to tie the knot and blend their families together.

Nothing extravagant. It would be outside in their backyard with a large maple tree as a backdrop for the ceremony. Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles would be invited to witness their families officially uniting together. Sounds simple, yes?

Unless you live in unpredictable Missouri. The week prior to the ceremony called for varying percentages of rain/storms for their big day. Nothing like stressing out the bride a week before her wedding. Plan B went into effect on Thursday when there was 90% chance of rain on Saturday. Entrepreneur and I transformed the lower level of our home into a chapel for 40 attendees. The arbor they built initially for their backyard was set up but the wall behind it did nothing to make it acceptable. Add borrowed sheers and some Christmas twinkle lights. Voila!

This was not the first wedding for either of them, but there was no less anticipation and excitement. It was a DIY wedding in almost every way and on a tight budget. My kitchen looked like a florist shop and bakery the day before the ceremony. They built and decorated the arbor, she put together all the flowers for bouquets and boutonnieres, as well as made the centerpieces for all the reception tables. I made program fans (because it was to be outside in the sweltering Missouri summer heat) and sewed reception table cloths and the aisle runner. Every tablecloth I owned was hauled out, cleaned and ready for duty.

The morning of the wedding was like any other. Last minute preparations and adjustments were being made. The dresses and suites were ready. The pre-wedding toast with champaign and sparkling grape juice was waiting.

 

Wedding attendants were their children, which I thought was a beautiful touch. Peanut was her Maid of Honor. His sons were the Best Men. The two four-year-olds were the flower girls. The rest of the photos in this post are a mixture of mine and the photographer. It was a lovely, intimate ceremony, filled with emotion and happiness for this new, blended beginning. Enjoy these captured moments and I’ll catch up with you at the reception.

 

After the “I Dos” the new Mr. and Mrs. moved the gathering to……our garage for the reception. Transformed from a lowly garage to a reception hall took some doing, but when you hang a few curtains and shoot photos close up, you can’t really tell, right? 🙂 Oh, and BTW…..it rained early in the morning and not a drop the rest of the day. Typical.

 

Our driveway served as the setting for those special first dances.

And, I could hardly see to take this one because my eyes were leaking. Thank heaven for auto focus.

It wasn’t the wedding she’d envisioned in her mind, but I hope it was one that will make both of them smile when they reflect on their special day. The pastor’s message was awesome, encouraging and perfect. Yes, there were a few hiccups, but when it’s all said and done, they made promises to each other in a room filled with the people who love them most. And, I can’t help but believe that Jesus looked upon the scene and gave his blessing as well.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
~Matt: 18:20

Blended families
Woven together by choice
Strengthened together by love
Tested by everything
And uniquely ours
~Author unknown

July Photo Challenge: Staying Cool

I completely missed June’s photo challenge last month. Lately, life has this bad habit of derailing my plans; regardless of what they are. Peanut and Twix were gone to their dad’s house in Alabama all month, so Entrepreneur and I tended to vegetate whenever possible. Is vegetating even possible anymore? Doesn’t seem like it.

This month PJ’s theme is Staying Cool. Appropriate for the hot, summer month of July. Even though we didn’t do anything spectacular, I think I captured some contenders for this month’s photo challenge. So here goes……

Staying Cool #1
The Golfers from Jax Beach came to town the first of the month for a week and brought their Florida temps and humidity with them. During that time, we hosted an engagement party for them for the family and friends here in the Heartland. Thankfully, we have quite a bit of shade on our property, so no one suffered from heat stroke during the party. Here are my two very “cool” daughters!

Staying Cool #2
Who are these “cool kids”? These youngsters at heart would be four of the five grandparents who stayed to the bitter end of the engagement party! Hanging out in the shade with a cooler full of beverages made for a relaxing afternoon in the heat.

Staying Cool #3
Floridians know how to stay cool in the summer heat. Even though she was born and bred in Missouri, she’s a coastal soul…and will never be landlocked again.

Staying Cool #4
This is what you get when you combine the goofiness of a water-loving Golden Retriever and the playfulness of a Standard Poodle. A 50 pound, goofy, water dog. The hose and sprinklers are always a good way to cool off when you wear a fur coat 24/7.

Staying Cool #5
Ahhhhhh….everyone’s gone and Entrepreneur is napping. Time to float with Captain Morgan and a Pepsi 0. And shut off my brain for a while.

Staying Cool Bonus Shot
The end of July brought some relief from the oppressive, middle Missouri summer heat. Here’s a bonus shot on staying cool during the summer taken with my phone. Okay….it’s a screenshot….but I think it should still count! 🙂

Posting early this month because, come Monday morning, Peanut and Twix will return to our care during the day until school begins….and I’ll get even LESS done than I have these past six weeks! Blog hop over to PJ’s on July 31st to see how others stayed cool this month.

Thankful Thursday

Trying out a new blog hop today called Thankful Thursday. I probably need this hop to actively remind myself to look for the positive things in life since so much of my last few months have been spent in the company of anxiousness, stressfulness, irritation and frustration. They are really not good company and even worse influences on others.

But, semester is (mercifully) finished, grades are recorded and school is officially out! All my college seniors are scattered to the wind to take on the world…God help them AND the world!

So now, I’m thankful for time spent with our two grand girls before they leave to visit their dad 12 hours away for the majority of the summer. At nine and four, they are handfuls, and they can test the patience of Job….but for Entrepreneur and I to be an integral part of their lives is a blessing we simply cannot overlook.

So, today I’m linking up with others for Thankful Thursday.  A big thank you to Sandee at Comedy Plus for introducing me to this worthwhile weekly opportunity.

I hope life settles a bit so I can participate in more of these hops in the future!

Monday Grand Girl Spark

Grandkids bring you into a sweeter, slower present. They show you the future at a time when a lot of your friends are thinking about the past. And they take you back to childhood–theirs, the Parent’s, your own: a three-time admittance to wonderland. ~Adair Lara

Peanut and Twix….our grand girls! Peanut is 9 years old and Twix just turned 4 years old. And not a day goes by where I don’t look at them and feel deeply thankful they are in my life.

Over these 9 years, neither of these girls have experienced a day care facility outside of a Pre-K program. Peanut and her Mama moved in with us when she was 4 months old while then-husband was deployed overseas. Upon his return, they moved to an out-of-state Army base, but were back under our roof when he decided to try college, and Peanut’s Mama took on the role of breadwinner. Peanut went happily to preschool and spent time after school at Entrepreneur and my office about a quarter mile from the school. Twix arrived in 2014, but a divorce disrupted plans and Peanut, Twix and their Mama continued to live with us for another 2 years while regrouping their life direction. Once Mama was stable in a better job, they moved into their own home. Entrepreneur and I moved our office into our home and Twix assimilated into our routine from the day she was born. An arrangement that continues to this day. Preschool is on the horizon for her in a few months, but until then, she is with us five days a week from 7:50am until 5pm.

I’d be lying if I said this didn’t come without challenges. But, I’m not sure I’d want it any other way. To, essentially, have the opportunity to co-parent with our daughter in raising our grand girls has been an experience many grandparents will never have. Granted, some may never want this experience! But, we’re gluttons for punishment looking at it as a rare opportunity to create a tie that binds us to them for the rest of their lives.

Some day in the near future, Twix will spend her days in preschool and then off to kindergarten. Entrepreneur and I will be more free to come and go without worrying about car seats and nap schedules. Our interactions will be limited to occasional family meals, special events, holidays and the periodic sleep-over at Nana and Papa’s house. And, of course, whenever school is not in session! But we will always believe we gave them both the best possible start in life by being spoiled loved and nurtured by family on a daily basis during those developing years before heading off to school.

Annie at McGuffy’s Reader hosts a blog hop every Monday called Sparks. I’m finding that reading everyone’s “Sparks” is one of the highlights of my week. Her philosophy its simple:

The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

Also blog hopping with Sandee’s Awww Mondays over at Comedy Plus.

It’s my birth day!

Yep, today is the day my mom brought me into this world. And this year’s birthday is a big one. How big? Well, I’ll leave that to you to try and figure out, but I’ll leave you a few clues a little later.

First, I’ll share a four generation photo from waaaay back when with Great-Grandma Olive, Grandma Maida, Mom Thelma and…Me! Sadly, my GG passed in November of the year I was born so I never really knew her at all.

The year I was born was a busy year. Here’s just a few noteworthy events….besides my entrance. 🙂
* Super Glue was invented
* NASA….National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed
* Explorer 1 was sent into space to measure radiation in earth’s orbit. It orbited earth more than 58,000 times before it re-entered the atmosphere in 1970
* The Hope Diamond was donated to the Smithsonian Institute
* Bobby Fischer won the United States Chess Championship at only 14 years old
* Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army
* The Hula Hoop was invented

My first birthday

A few other tidbits of info:
* The average cost of new house was $12,750.00
The top song for January of that year was At The Hop by Danny & The Juniors
* A new, 8 cu ft RCA Whirlpool refrigerator cost $118.00
* A gallon of gas  cost 25 cents

It’s strange what I remember about my early years. I still remember the address of the house I lived in until 2nd grade….6202 E. 96th Street. One of my first memories is one of me and my cousins watching The Wizard of Oz on the TV; that would be the black and white version on a black and white set.

Have you figured it out yet? If so, you know it’s sorta a big one. One that I’m having a little bit of a hard time wrapping my head around!

Looking back at my life fills me with a lot of emotions. Are there things I regret doing or not doing? You bet. Were there aspirations that never materialized? Yes. Would I do things differently, given another chance. I’m not sure…maybe. What I am certain of is that my life has turned out pretty good so far even though it was not the road I saw myself traveling. Besides, I’ll drive myself crazy playing should of, world of, could of at this point in time.

So, I’ll now focus on trying to make the best of the next 365 days…knowing I’m not promised one more day, much less an entire year’s worth of days.

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all.
~Ecclesiastes 11:8

It only takes a spark……

I found a new photo blogging community called Sparks, and this is my first link up with these folks. It’s hosted by Annie at McGuffy Reader. I have to say I love her concept:

I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!

How cool is that concept? Be the light instead of contributing to the darkness. There are so many people who only want to contribute to the darkness of this world; so many who have nothing positive to say; so many that find fault with everything and everyone.

You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. ~Walter Hagen

I have to admit, the darkness seems to be winning in my world lately. Hard as I try and maintain a positive outlook in the face of Entrepreneur’s renal cell cancer and oral chemo regiment, it’s a frustrating road. And, while friends and family sympathize and are oh so very emotionally and spiritually supportive, few can really empathize with the mental exhaustion that accompanies this type of situation.

But darkness cannot overcome a shining light. it pierces the blackness of despair and hopelessness and provides a focus for those wandering in the dark. If we would all choose to be a shining light, perhaps we could guide each other through this messy thing called life.

…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16

I hope to be a regular contributor to Sparks. Not so I can enjoy reading comments (even though I really do!), but for my own sanity.

I hope everyone has a sparkly day!