A summer palette of color

Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer‚Äôs year‚ÄĒ
it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.
~Author Unknown

I haven’t played with the color palette template for a while. I find it interesting to take a photo that really appeals to me, separate out the colors and discover the combinations that makes the photo different…but you just can’t put your finder on why. This was one of those photos. Once I saw the warmth of the colors, I immediately knew it was a summer palette.

These posies were compliments of The Golfer during her surprise visit to see her dad. Arriving at 4:45am July 2nd, she let herself into the house and almost gave him a heart attack when we got up at 6am! She needed to see her dad….and he needed to see her. After all, Florida is a long ways away when major stress hits a family in middle Missouri. And, phone calls really don’t cut it.

She spent the week focusing on her dad, passing on other social invitations to spend hours chatting on the patio and watching TV in the evenings. They took a morning and went to the driving range so “her coach” could offer some pointers on her (LPGA-certified) golf swing. They floated in the pool, soaking up some Vitamin D. She spent Independence Day with us and her sister, The Recruiter. The only things missing were her god-daughters, who were still in Alabama with their dad. But she did get to meet Cabo….her fur baby little brother!

The summer palette…with the warmth of sunny yellows combined with the greens of life. No wonder I like this photo.

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.
~Barbara Bush

 

Conflicted

Well, they are on their way to stay with their dad for a month. The Recruiter, Peanut and Twix left this afternoon to make the trek to Nashville for the hand off for the second leg of their trip to Alabama.

And I’m oddly conflicted.

On one hand, with all that’s happened since February, Entrepreneur and I need a break from the endless energy and incessant “whys” of a three year old. And, having both of them since mid-May when the after-school sitter left college for summer break has been both a joy and a challenge. AND, add the fur baby that arrived the beginning of June and…..well…are you tired yet? We are. We really do need this time to regroup and Entrepreneur needs this time to rest due to chemo fatigue. So, we’re down two children….but training a fur baby.

But, on the other hand, each time they leave, the relief is replaced with worry and concern. Call it parental paranoia or whatever. I’m counting the days until their return. When they hit the door again in mid-July, there won’t be much summer left before those back-to-school and after-school activities begin again. In the meantime, my house will be void of munchkin-size clothing lying around, half-drank beverages in the frig, books, crayons, pencils and toys on every surface in every room. Gone will be the bath toys in my soaker tub, and luvies within arms reach of every bed.

I feel guilty about looking forward to the break…knowing the time we have with them is a gift not afforded to every grandparent. Am I ungrateful for that gift if I’m relieved to be relieved of those child care responsibilities? What if something happens to them while they are gone? I would be devastated knowing I was looking forward to time in the empty nest…even if it was only temporarily.

Such is the life of long-distance visitation.

So we try to pack as much as we can into the few weeks of summer before they have to leave. We did picnics and playgrounds; pool time and popsicles; Peanut and I visited a museum and took in a movie; went to our church’s version of VBS (on steroids); and scheduled horseback riding lessons. Plus, we made sure there were times for just hanging out with nothing organized so the mind could wander uninterrupted.

Please enjoy a few early summer childhood captures of our grandbabykins.


A nosefull of posies.


Yes, she is that high. Zoom lens required.


Picnic pupper and his pal.


The University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archeology; artifacts and art ranging from circa 1550 BCE to the 20th century.


Pool time with Papa.


Sittin’ pretty in the saddle.


He loves me……..


An uninterrupted afternoon.


Mermaids do exist!


She was a little uncontrollable at the sprayground!


The epitome of summer relaxation.


Litter mates.

I think I got a little carried away with my pics. But, I’m sure you’ll forgive me. ūüôā I hope everyone’s summer is off to a wonderful start.

xoxo

Pardon me while I brag a bit

Caution: this post contains shameless and excessive grandparent bragging.

Last week we went to Peanut’s school for the end-of-semester awards ceremony. Now, normally, non-eduction types don’t voluntarily attend these ceremonies…unless given the heads up that their child is one of the recipients.

A little background info: Peanut started a new school this year after moving into their renovated house in August. She was filled with all the anxiety an 8 year old can feel about walking into the unknown. Peanut is not a fan of change and this was a major one in her young life. Slowly, she came out of her shell, made friends and did very well academically. Her teacher was a perfect match for what she needed this year.

Throughout the year, Peanut was recognized for a reading challenge where she read more than 600 pages in a week’s time. Last week, she was chosen as one of the Students of the 4th Quarter for academic excellence. She was also chosen to participate in a second grade STEM program.

 

So that’s the back story. Now, we’re sitting in the awards ceremony listening to all the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers announce their selections for various academic awards…..and Peanut’s name is not one of them. Okay, perhaps she’ll be recognized¬†for Citizenship, Art, Music or PE? Nope. I was beginning to think there’d been a mistake.

I scan the program to see if I missed a category but the only one left is something called the¬†Glory of Missouri.¬†This is a¬†proclamation from the Missouri State House of Representatives. The Glory of Missouri is awarded to 14 students in¬†participating schools, each student representing one of 14 virtues;¬†Knowledge, Liberty, Equality, Law, Justice, Fraternity,¬†Education, Progress, Honor, Truth, Virtue, Temperance, Enterprise, and Charity.¬†Peanut’s award was for Knowledge.¬†The virtues were engraved in the House of Representative Chamber between 1922 and 1924 when the capitol building was rebuilt due to a fire.

Surely not.

But I would have been surely incorrect! As her name was called to receive the award for Knowledge, it was one of those elusive Joy moments I’m trying to find in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. I honestly didn’t see this one coming. Her teacher said there was no question whose name she would be submitting.

Knowledge
Qualifications:  The student qualified for the Knowledge virtue is one whom exemplifies this definition.  The student who receives recognition for this award must not only be book smart, but be aware of the state of information.

Example:  A student who possesses intellectual capabilities beyond his or her years, a student who has demonstrated aware behavior such as a potential valedictorian or a strong student leader. 

We are all so thrilled Peanut seemed to assimilate seamlessly into her new school. And, evidently, she never missed a beat when it came to the love of learning.

And…..we now have a third grader on our hands!

Musings from an Outlander Addict

You know what a cult show is, don’t you? No? Well, let me clue you in.¬†A cult show is one that sucks you in so completely that you become obsessed with it. It’s the show that causes¬†you rearrange your schedule just so you don’t miss any episodes even though you have a DVR.¬†My first experience with a cult show was LOST. There have been a few since then, but none as powerful as the one¬†I fell completely head over heals for last year….Outlander.

outlander-dvd

I blame The Recruiter. It’s her fault for watching the show in my family room when she, Peanut and Twix lived with us. It only took one time and¬†I was hopelessly hooked. So hooked that I refused to let Entrepreneur get rid of Starz when he downsized our satellite TV package. So hooked that I talked The Recruiter into going¬†to Starz on Demand¬†and¬†downloading the first two seasons for me. Last summer I binge watched Seasons One and Two¬†while Entrepreneur watched¬†sports.

So, if you are not familiar with the storyline, here it is in a nutshell.

Claire Randall, a former British Army nurse, is enjoying a second honeymoon in Scotland with husband Frank Randall after WW II. Frank is a former English military officer and has taken a position as an Oxford historian. Unexplainably, through an ancient stone ruin, Claire is transported back in time to 1743, into a world completely different from her own. Because of her medical background, she is perceived as a healer. To survive, literally, she agrees to an arranged marriage to Jamie Fraser, a strapping Scottish Highlander and becomes caught up in the Jacobite rebellion against the English. After a tumultuous beginning, a passionate relationship develops between Claire and Jamie and her feelings become torn between two vastly different men across two centuries. Outlander is adapted from the best-selling book series by Diana Gabaldon.

Now that my binge watching is complete, I’m¬†in the middle of what is referred to as “Droughtlander” before the next season begins later this fall, I believe the show has more to offer than a complicated, layered storyline, breathtaking scenery, hauntingly beautiful intro music, and Highlander eye candy (aka: Jamie Fraser). It’s the perfect mix of passion and romance paired with war, torture and rugged testosterone. Here are my observations and life parallels:

Love takes turns being the hero.
Both Jamie and Claire take turns rescuing each other from certain death at the hands of the British…more specifically, a British officer named Jonathan Wolverton (Black Jack) Randall, who has personal vendettas against¬†both of them. They risk their lives for each other because¬†their love trumps the possibility of living without the other. In successful relationships, the depth of¬†commitment operates selflessly and without regard for personal safety, physically and emotionally. The well-being of the other person is of utmost importance and each will move heaven and earth to make that happen. The respect, devotion, gentleness and passion Claire and Jamie¬†have for¬†each other is enviable. It’s the platinum¬†standard in relationships…real or otherwise.

Not everyone is capable of redemption.
Speaking of Black Jack Randall, he’s one of Frank’s (Claire’s 1940s husband) distant relatives. And where Frank is a kind and loving gentleman, Jack is diametrically the polar opposite. And to make the dynamic¬†more complicated, they look exactly alike. The author and the actor succeeds magnificently in creating visceral contempt for this character. Just when you think there is a glimmer of hope in his moral character, he chooses to act in the most heinous way imaginable…and admittedly, without remorse. While my faith teaches no one¬†is¬†beyond redemption, a person like Black Jack Randall could make me¬†believe some people¬†may be¬†irreversibly¬†evil. The tricky question is, who gets to judge whether that is actually the case? The person I write off as hopeless may simply be a lost soul who hasn’t yet encountered the experience needed to change. Maybe I’m to be that¬†experience? One thing’s for sure….I would not want to encounter a Black Jack Randall and be faced with that moral dilemma.

Feminism with femininity.
Claire is a progressive women of the 1940s. She is a veteran Army nurse and doesn’t put up with crap from anyone. She is opinionated and vocal. She takes that mentality with her to the 1700s, but¬†quickly discovers this type of “strong woman” is not going to get her anywhere and could, quite possibly, get her killed. What results is a woman who becomes intellectually savvy and gives the appearance of restraint (for the most part).¬†However docile she appears,¬†underneath there’s a strong, cunning, resourceful woman who understands how to use her femininity (not sex) to her best advantage. Victoria’s Secret can parade those¬†angels all they want;¬†they’ve got nuthin’ on Claire Frasier.

Situations are not always as they seem.
Claire and Jamie would¬†like nothing more than to see Black Jack Randall leave this earth….however, Jack¬†is Frank’s ancestor and to eliminate him too soon could cause Frank to never be born. Enter, Mary Hawkins; a wisp of a girl who, according to Frank’s genealogy search, is supposed to become Black Jack’s wife and continue his lineage. The problem is, Mary loves Black Jack’s younger brother, Alex. Claire knows the genealogy of Frank and how Mary and Black Jack¬†fit into it. She logically reasons Mary cannot marry Alex¬†or Frank will never be born. So, she intervenes and talks¬†Alex¬†into leaving Mary. Months later, to her horror, she finds they’ve reunited, but Alex is very ill. Claire is begged to heal him, but she recognizes he suffers from¬†tuberculosis and congenital heart failure. There is no known cure in this era. And, Mary is pregnant. Faced with his fianc√©’s uncertain future with no husband’s wealth to provide for her, Alex’s¬†dying with is for his decorated, military brother, Jonathan, to marry her. As abhorrent as this idea is to everyone, including Black Jack, Claire knows (according to genealogy and history) Jack¬†going¬†to die in the next day’s battle…so, it’s all good. Mary will not have to suffer at the hands of this depraved man. Claire¬†breathes a sigh of relief knowing Frank’s future is secure.

My point? My point is sometimes situations just are not as they seem. There was a reason Mary and Alex were together….but no one knew what it was until Alex was on his deathbed. All of Claire’s efforts to discourage Alex and Mary’s relationship were misguided…and based on her assumption of what would/would not happen if she didn’t intervene. Sometimes, we jump to conclusions about situations before we know the circumstances. Sometimes our actions to steer events the way we think they should go are misguided and shouldn’t be pursued.

Things happen for a reason.
Dovetailing with the above observation is this one. The driving story behind Seasons One¬†and Two¬†is Claire and Jaime’s desire to change history and avoid the Jacobite rebellion. Believing Jamie will die in the Battle of Culloden, Claire’s focus is on how to¬†alter the events leading¬†up to that fateful battle. Jaime is on board and the two of them work towards disrupting Bonnie Prince Charles’ plans to overthrow the current king of England…. all the while appearing to be a supporter of the rebellion. But, despite their scheming and manipulative efforts, they are unsuccessful and the battle happens as planned.

As much as we’d love to go back and change some things about our past, events and experiences happened for a reason. For those of us who believe there is a plan for our lives and a path we must travel, it’s easier to accept this. Events are tied together for a reason; change one and you unravel everything because nothing exists in a vacuum.

I’m now (im)patiently waiting for the debut of Season Three to be announced. I admit, I’ve cheated a bit and gone online to read summaries of what we can expect to see based on the next book. And, I’m following Outlander sites on Twitter and Facebook.

Yep, definitely a cult show.

Playing along with those over at Life Through the Lens.

 

 

 

February Photo Challenge: Love

photo blog challenge

Well, I had visions of wonderful “Love” photos for February’s photo challenge from our winter vacay to Mexico. They were going to be fabulous. And then this happened.¬†

The month became a blur and now it’s time to share……and I’m literally putting this together the afternoon of¬†February 28th. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my five for Love.

Love #1
Twix turned three years old earlier this month….back when life was more normal than it is now. As tough as it sometimes is to keep her mind stimulated, she’s such a delight to have around every day. It goes without saying that the grand girls are right at the top of the Love List.
twix-3yrs

Love #2
Along those lines, Twix loved getting a birthday phone call from a set of great-grandparents who sang happy birthday to her. When asked how old she was, she was happy to show them.
twix-bday-phone-call

Love #3
In this part of the state, everyone LUVS Central Dairy ice cream…from¬†a¬†local dairy¬†that made its mark in middle Missouri¬†back in¬†1920. A second location was established in 1934¬†and included an ice cream parlor, which is still in operation today.
central-dairy

Love #4
I love it when our family is all together…wherever it may be. This is a feeble attempt to maneuver a selfie-stick at a local restaurant to commemorate the occasion.
family-2-2017

Love #5
And why, you may ask, was everyone together in middle Missouri in the middle of February and not on a Caribbean beach? Well, in case you missed the link at the beginning of the post, it was because of Entrepreneur’s recent brain surgery…on the day we are suppose to celebrate Love….February 14th, Valentine’s Day.¬†Not exactly the way I’d intended to spend the day, but there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned crisis to bring together those you love most. And it drives home the importance of those Love vows we took 36+ years ago.
entrepreneur-surgery

There’s my February Five. I hope you find time to make your way over to PJ’s place to share in some more blogging love.¬†

Fiercely Independent Snuggle Bug

Twix monitoredYesterday, Twix turned THREE! Can you even believe it? To look at her now, you’d never know she was three weeks early. Today, she is a happy, healthy almost¬†preschooler who¬†teeters between fierce independence and being a big snuggle bug.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Twix is a precocious child that never ceases to amaze me. Her problem-solving skills¬†and¬†deductive reasoning are¬†almost scary. As smart as Peanut is, I believe Twix just might¬†supersede her.

She is perpetual motion from the time she hits the door at 7:50am. Except for (mercifully) her afternoon nap, our days are filled with continual conversation that mainly center around answering her “Why?” questions. She loves everything Dora and¬†putting¬†things together….from Legos to blocks to assembling geometric shapes into different forms. She is mastering preschool academic skills with¬†her Leapstart book and calls it her “laptop.”

twix-3yrs

Mama¬†(aka The Recruiter), Peanut, Nana and Papa are her world right now. We are here to support, comfort, encourage, teach and, yes, discipline during these years that have been filled with more than a few changes. From the anxious newborn nights when she slept on a bili blanket to her first toddler steps, she knew we were there. From those unsteady first steps, she’s growing¬†into a confident preschooler with a “there-is-no-place-I-can’t-climb-to” attitude. Really, nothing is safe. And don’t even think about leaving her alone for more than…oh, about two minutes.

Memories in the making. Our home is full of them. And their significance is not lost on us, even when the days seem¬†impossibly long waiting for The Recruiter to finish with work. Entrepreneur and I know we’re blessed to have this opportunity to be such an integral part of Peanut and Twix’s¬†lives. Nobody knows what the future holds, so we really try and take those good and not-so-good days and file them away under the heading of “thankful for every moment”….even the bad ones! With Entrepreneur’s cancer scare in 2014, we are keenly aware of how precious these moments are. I know it sounds fatalistic, but we are praying, if cancer returns, it won’t be until all our¬†grands are old enough to really remember just how special and strong this bond is between us.

So, Happy Birth Day Twix! May you¬†continue to become fiercely independent, yet always have a snuggle¬†bug heart. Nana and Papa love you to the moon….and back!

 

To the moon…and back

to-the-moon-72

…He was almost too sleepy to think anymore.¬†Then he looked beyond the thorn bushes, out into the big dark night.¬†Nothing could be further than the sky.
“I love you right up to the MOON,” he said, and closed his eyes.
“Oh, that’s far,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.”That’s is very far.”

Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night. 

Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile,
“I love you right up to the moon-AND BACK.”

~Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney

My third quote for the 3 Quote Challenge is more of a passage from a well-loved children’s book titled Guess How Much I Love You. And last month’s super moon was more than happy to help me out with this one.

Guess how much I love you?….in the literal sense of the book it’s a conversation between a child and a parent; a question and answer¬†to reinforce the bond that happens between those that genuinely care for each other.

But what does loving someone to the moon and back really mean? The distance between the earth and moon is almost 500,000¬†miles. If I wanted to really convey my love, wouldn’t I say I love them “to infinity and beyond”? Yeah, I could and it would probably more accurately represent my feelings.

And why to the moon and not the sun or stars or other planets? Seems a bit short-sighted.

It does until you really stop and think about it. The closest planet to our earthly home, the moon has always been romanticized and the subject of deep mystery and intrigue. Waxing and waning…new and full…the moon’s cycles represent eternity and an endless cycle of life. She lights up the sky, yet not by¬†her own power….but great power she has upon ocean tides that can wield unparalleled force in nature.

And to a wee one who doesn’t understand the logical or statistical¬†nuances of the distance to the moon, “to the moon” is an unimaginable distance to travel.

So the phrase now takes on a new meaning….I love you more than you can possibly imagine, with great power, and endlessly for my whole life!

Mystery solved.