Autumn memories

Just before the death of flowers and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season when nature is aglow.
~Author Unknown

Well, I may have missed my opportunity for this post since it SNOWED a few days ago! Middle Missouri broke her previous record of .3 inches of snow on November 8th. We clocked in at a little more than an inch of the white stuff. It was magical….and gone from most of the trees by afternoon as the temps warmed to the upper 30sF.

I have shared some of our autumn color in weeks past, but haven’t shared my most fun day of the season. Every autumn I try and take the grandgirls to one of our city parks during the cooler weather. Of course, the camera comes along with us. This year we went to a nature area before going to the traditional park setting. While I love autumn color in the trees and flowers, it just can’t compete with these two!

At ten and four and a half, these two are growing up so fast. And, I believe their personalities are growing faster! Can’t you just see the sass in both of them? Peanut is now in fourth grade and Twix is having a blast in Pre-K.

I fully realize I tend to get a bit carried away when sharing pics of our grandgirls. I would apologize, but I’m really not that sorry!

Unfortunately the trees had not yet given up their leaves for a colorful carpet, so we had to rely on some different color for these last two shots.

Now, we’re hunkering down for winter, which evidently is coming early this year since our temps are now falling into the teens at night. I’m thankful we had the opportunity to take these when we did. They warm my heart.

I hope you’re having a wonderful autumn and sharing the warmth of the holiday season with everyone around you.

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Pumpkin spice and everything nice

I can’t decide if she’s advocating world peace or simply wants to be a butterfly.

Blog hopping today with Comedy Plus and Awww Mondays.

Blended Beginnings Part 2

Last week (or so) I shared with you all some pics from our oldest daughter’s recent wedding in June. Because of a few issues during the day, the bride and groom didn’t have the opportunity to have the traditional “formal portraits” done after the ceremony.

Add to the chaos the fact that Peanut and Twix were leaving for their six-week summer visitation with their dad the following week. Because of that schedule, we had to postpone photos until (ugh) August when they returned. Hot, sticky August in middle Missouri. Perfect.

We chose the local botanical garden and I went and scoped out backdrops a few weeks before the shoot. Because of the August heat, we decided on a 9am meet time to try and finish before the heat and humidity set in for the day.

First, we began with the bride.

Then, we added the groom.

A base of love and commitment established to begin the art of blending.

The rest of the brood is added.

Blending a family has been quite the challenge with five children. Yes, count them…..f.i.v.e. all between four and (almost) ten years old; three girls and two boys. No chaos or drama here, right?!

Getting used to the new “normal” for blended family kids can be a little unsettling. It takes a while to establish trust and stability with the new parent and situation.

So Peanut and Twix now have two brothers and another sister. Each of these children are uniquely different so finding balance in a new family situation can take some doing. Boundaries are being set as well as expectations and responsibilities.

It’s been quite an adjustment but they are working on making the transition as smooth as possible…as smooth as you can with a (almost) 10-, 9-, 8- and two 4-year-olds!

Two children is enough of a handful.  Three can be challenging. Keeping track of and up to speed with five is completely beyond my comprehension. Patience will need to multiply exponentially.

It’s estimated one third of all remarriages form blended families.

Sibling rivalry, attention issues, discipline challenges will all be things these parents will deal with as they present a unified front and lead by example. Bonds won’t grow strong overnight, but as they do more things as a “family,” relationships will strengthen over time.

Expect conflicts. Extend grace. I hope and pray this is the attitude adopted by everyone as they experience these growing pains.

The only steps in this house
is the staircase, and
the only half in this house
is the half&half creamer.

~Al Hodson

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.

Spark of friendship


A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
~Proverbs 27:9

Last Wednesday, Entrepreneur was scheduled for another set of CT scans to monitor the renal cell cancer spots in his lungs. While many friends are aware of the anxiety that always builds up to these appointments, one friend took their support a bit further.

No one is definitively claiming authorship of the mini mural that appeared at the end of my driveway Wednesday morning, but I have a good idea who the artist is. And, I love her for it. She is truly a sparkly person that dispels darkness wherever she goes.

I purposely didn’t crop out anything out of this photo or “pretty it up” in any way. I think the juxtaposition between the beauty of the chalk drawing and message with the raw reality of the concrete, asphalt and winter scruff makes the point quite well.

Playing along with Sparks and Awww……Monday. Annie’s Sparks philosophy is very 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.

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. There is hope. Together, we can light up the entire world!

 

Sandee’s Awww…..Monday is a simple blog hop where all that’s needed is a photo that makes the viewer say “awwwwwww.” How easy is that?

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.