Hauling out the holly

blogDSCN8188What a difference a year makes.  That statement may sound cliché, but it’s true.

Here’s how I know this.

Today is the first Friday in December, Page 2 in my 12th Chapter of my book called Opportunity.  Last year around this time, my attitude was notably different than my attitude is today.  Don’t believe me? Read this.

Last year, I was:  (Pick one)

A.  Grumpy

B.  Grinch-like

C.  Melancholy

D.  Suffering from empty nest syndrome

E.  All of the above

If you chose “E,” you get the gold star!  Last year at this time, I struggled to drum up some Christmas spirit.  The crates full of holiday decorations lay idle strewn through the house, but I didn’t possess the motivation or desire to bedeck the surroundings.  My mind, kidnapped and trapped by melancholy, continually persuaded me to ignore the approaching season of joy just as surely as my heart, harbored in sadness, agreed.

Empty nest syndrome and grief over my father’s passing reigned.  My husband erected the artificial Christmas tree and strung it with twinkling lights, but it sat forlorn in the living room with no ornaments sprucing up its bare branches.   Garland did not festoon anything nor were candles blazing in the windows.   If it weren’t for hubby accomplishing the outside light decorating, our house would have sat as dark and dreary as I felt.

I was able-bodied, but always seemed tired, cold, sleepy or lethargic.  With no kids in the house anymore or elderly father to check up on, I sure had the time, but I just couldn’t muster up the inclination.  This lackadaisical attitude towards the Christmas season was as foreign to me as meeting up with an alien from outer space on my front lawn….it just doesn’t happen.

I’m one of those people who loves Christmas.  I usually have all of my greeting cards addressed, stamped and the annual missive to friends and family printed and tucked inside the envelopes ready to mail by December 1.  Shopping is accomplished early.  Tree and all of the other festive decorations  garnish and embellish our house the weekend after Thanksgiving.  But last year, I literally finally forced myself to do….something… and half-heartedly prepared for the most beloved time of the year.

Thankfully, this year is different.  I’m not so able-bodied (still suffering with some back and hip problems); I don’t have quite as much time; but I’m raring to go.   Our house is ablaze with Christmas lights and finery outside; hubby and I finished that Thanksgiving weekend.

The tree sparkles in the living room with all its treasured ornaments resting on its branches.  Christmas cards are addressed and will fill the mailbox soon (should be working on that Christmas letter instead of this blog post!).   With any luck, we should complete our shopping this weekend.

So what has changed from last year?  My attitude.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou

I can’t change the fact that my kids have grown up, moved out, and have their own lives.  I can’t change the fact that there are beloved faces missing from my family gathered around the Christmas tree.   But I can change one thing….me.   I can be a Scrooge, a Grinch, a Grumpy Gus, but I don’t have to be.

All it takes is a little Christmas and the knowledge that God loved us so much, He sent His only Son as the most perfect gift on that first Christmas so long ago.

Okay, I’m off to haul out some more holly and this year, the Christmas village will once again adorn the kitchen.  So in case you’re a little low on Christmas spirit, I’m sharing my all-time favorite Christmas decorating song with you because we need a little Christmas right this very minute.

 ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Burning off the fog

blogDSCN8213The revolving door at Mama’s Empty Nest never stopped spinning over Thanksgiving.

A whirlwind of activity from last Wednesday until yesterday evening kind of left me in a fog this morning, much like this picture outside my kitchen window.

The door rotated open first when Oldest Daughter and Best Beau drove up from the city Wednesday evening.  BB made the trip up from one of those states down south to spend Thanksgiving with us…well, mostly to spend it with Oldest Daughter.  This one is definitely a keeper, and it has been a blessing to watch their relationship deepen from friendship to something more.

Again the door blew open later that night when Son arrived from his long trek from the state next door.  Mama put some finishing touches on Thanksgiving goodie preparations, and we basked in each other’s company until our eyelids started drooping.

Early Thanksgiving morning, Middle Daughter,  white scrubs clad and surprisingly talkative and chipper despite having just worked a 12-hour nursing shift at her hospital plus a drive home from the city, pushed open the revolving door.  Faithful Fiancé couldn’t join us as he didn’t have much time off from his graduate school studies in the state on the other side of us.

With all of the chicks back in the nest once again, I think Middle Daughter pined a bit for her true love and was too excited to be home with her siblings to want to nap.  But gradually she nodded off on the love seat while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV (another family tradition).

We feasted on turkey and all the trimmings, including Mama’s kids’ favorite, frog eye salad, but not before we each took turns around the table to count and name our blessings, one by one.  As I surveyed the beloved faces gathered at the table and listened to each item for which they were thankful, a realization suddenly dawned on me.

Next year, when I carefully position my mother’s china on the Thanksgiving table, there will be more place settings, but more importantly, there will be more beloved faces.  Middle Daughter and Faithful Fiancé will be a married couple, so our family will increase by one for certain.

Mama’s also alerted to inklings about more exciting news in the empty nest, so I suspect our family will welcome two others, Oldest Daughter’s Best Beau and Son’s Gracious Girlfriend, sometime soon.   As I savored the opportunity to glimpse into the future, it filled me with joy and I silently uttered thanks to the One who ordains our days.

Whoosh!  That revolving door swept open again.  One of Son’s buddies from high school stopped by for a visit and we all commenced a lively game of Qwelf around the kitchen table.   Another spin of the door, and my sister and brother-in-law joined us from their celebration at their son’s in-laws.  The table expanded and Thanksgiving morsels spread out once again.

And just as the door brought them in one by one or two by two, the door opened again to allow their departure.  High school buddy left first, followed by my sister and her hubby.   Son departed to journey to his girlfriend’s family’s home for the remainder of the weekend.

Friday afternoon, more of Mama’s favorite people stepped through the revolving door on their way out.  Oldest Daughter and Best Beau exited to drive south for BB’s family Thanksgiving; Middle Daughter ventured westward to visit Faithful Fiancé.

And Mama and Papa were left with a closed revolving door.  And oodles of Thanksgiving leftovers.  And countless Thanksgiving blessings.

There was no cause for despair though, the door whirled open once more yesterday evening as Son and Gracious Girlfriend visited for a short while on their way back East.

So even though fog crept in this morning, in Chapter 11, Page 28 of my Opportunity book, the love and bonds of family light up my heart and the warmth left there burns off the fog, that misty wrapping of melancholy that once filled the empty nest.  The revolving door will once again burst open because this house, even though it’s the empty nest,  is home.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”  ~ Alexander Graham Bell

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Kreativ blogging

One of the most difficult aspects about entering the Empty Nest stage of life is feeling left behind.

As my children somehow metamorphosed right in front of my eyes into adults and moved out of our home, I struggled with so many emotions.  Coming on the heels of losing my last living parent, the empty nest found me wallowing in a knee-high bog of grief.

The kids grew up and moved on to new lives of independence (read “Mom felt not needed anymore” here).   My Dad went on to his eternal reward in Heaven joining my Mom and my in-laws there (read “Those days of needing to check up on and take care of Dad were gone” here).   That’s why I felt like I was left behind holding a bagful of tears.

I turned to blogging as a way of working through my feelings and rediscovering my love of writing.  Blogging opened up a fresh, newfound world for me in ways I never dreamed would happen.

Somehow my words sent out into cyberspace found their way into other people’s worlds.  My quiet life with its lack of connections  suddenly came alive with lots of electronic firings.  It seemed as though an unused circuit board sparkled to life with all the lights, bells, and whistles.  I had imagined my life like a switchboard with no phone calls, but as my blogging world expanded, that switchboard was flooded with calls, totally transformed.

I found an entire new set of friends, something I never expected.   My belief is that God made the connections and brought some amazing people into my life through blogging.

“How rare and wonderful is that flash of a moment when we realize we have discovered a friend.” ~ William E. Rothschild.

Recently, I made a new friend, Dianna, in this world of connectivity.   She shares lovely photos and sweet narratives on her blog, These Days of Mine.   Visiting her blog is like welcoming a ray of sunshine into a dreary day.    She blessed me the other day with the Kreativ Blog Award and I thank her for thinking so highly of me and my words.

As with other blog awards, one of the rules in accepting it is to share snippets about yourself that you haven’t already blabbed about shared with readers.  I might have to dig deeply here, since I’m often like an open book.    Hmmm….thinking….thinking…??

Okay here goes:

  1. I was born on a Wednesday, and as everyone knows from the old nursery rhyme – “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.”  Not true!!  I beg to differ.  I’m not full of woe, no matter what day I was born upon.  If I could have chosen,  I would have entered this world on Tuesday (full of grace) or Friday (loving and giving).
  2. I have never owned a dog, and I really don’t ever want to own a dog. (Sorry, canine lovers, will you still be my friend?)
  3. I’ve had a pen pal since I was in 4th grade, but we’ve never met in person…yet.  We began our friendship writing letters to each other as children and continued through high school, college, marriage, and having children.  We still communicate with newsy letters at Christmas time after all those years. Someday, I hope we have an opportunity to meet face to face.
  4. When I was a kid, I had a cat named Susie.  Once she brought a baby rabbit (still alive) into our house and laid it in a box with her newborn kittens and another time she brought a snake (also alive) in! I’m not sure why that tidbit of info just popped in my head; let me go check the cat and make sure she hasn’t brought any wildlife into the house!
  5. I’d like to say I have visited all 50 states in the USA, but I’ve only been to 32. I need to do some traveling.

Now comes the fun part – passing the Kreativ Blog Award to someone else.  There are so many creative and fascinating blogs that I visit, it’s difficult to narrow down the field.

One blogger I’ve recently discovered truly is creative.  She’s a mom with young children and right there is a recipe for creativity.  Her blog is fun,  she’s always full of great ideas, and I think her kids must be very blessed to have such an awesome mom!  Check out her blog at Play 101.

I’m also passing this award on to Montana Outdoors .   If you want to see amazingly beautiful photographs of nature taken in Big Sky Country, this is one blog you shouldn’t miss.  I am continually awe-struck at the beauty Montucky captures with a camera.  I know it takes a creative eye to snap such stunning pictures.

During this month when our thoughts turn to thanksgiving, I find myself grateful on this 21st page of Chapter 11 in my book called Opportunity.  I’m grateful for friends, old and new.  I’m thankful for a blogging community with such creative and encouraging writers.  And I’m thankful for you, my readers.  May you have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving Day.

 ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A Tale of Two Kitties

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  So begins the tale of two kitties.

I just had to borrow that famous first line from Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, for today’s post.   I humbly concede that I’m no great author.  I certainly haven’t written any classic works of literature.  I write a little bit on a personal blog and somehow manage to keep a few readers and subscribers entertained or interested enough to keep me on their cyber rotations.

But I digress from my tale.  Up until last weekend, there were two cats living at my house.  And I believed while it was the best of times, it was also going to become the worst.

To explain my rationale for it being the best of times, last month our oldest daughter moved back to our home state [yay!] after a few years living down South.   Her plan was to move in with our middle daughter and her roommate in their apartment in the city, but until oldest daughter could arrange to visit the property management company, complete her application, get her name on the lease, and pick up a key, she bunked here with Mom and Dad temporarily.

She literally started her new job the day after she moved here, so between getting acclimated at her place of employment, unpacking a few clothes and necessary items, and driving back and forth to the city, she was swamped.  But for Daddio and me, it was great having her here, so  that explains the best of times. 

When daughter moved in with us for those couple of weeks, her cat was a part of the package deal.  That’s where I feared the worst of times would kick in and the tale (or should it be tail?) of two kitties ensued.

blog077Kitty #1 is the domestic dominator of our domain, her domicile.  She’s the queen bee, her royal highness.   Her name is Callie, the calico cat, and she belongs to hubby and me – or maybe it’s the other way around, we belong to her.

Anyway, I was certain she would view Kitty #2 as the unabashed usurper of her utopia.  Kitty #2 is oldest daughter’s huge black male cat who, as king of the hill, naturally ruled the roost at her apartment.

We expected this underling upstart named Jack would upset the reigning royalty, Queen Callie.   So we kept them apart to avoid a catty confrontation complete with claws.  See, Callie still possesses all of hers and Jack only has back claws.  But he is male and huge and quite strong.  And I convinced myself and everyone else that the two kitties probably should not meet.

Jack took up residence in our basement and was only allowed upstairs when Callie was outside or in the garage.  Every time we let Callie in, we had to make sure Jack wasn’t around.   It wasn’t too much of a problem at first, because Jack was skittish being in a new place, so he seemed happy to stay downstairs.

blogDSCN7959But as he adjusted to us and his temporary home, he wanted to come upstairs more often and was quite verbal about that. 

The problem was that three adult people couldn’t seem to keep track of where Callie was at any given moment.  Suffice it to say there was a lot of time wasted tracking down cats.

One night, Callie lounged on the kitchen floor.  Oldest daughter had been checking on Jack’s food and water downstairs, playing with him a bit,  and decided to bring him upstairs. 

Uh-oh….prepare for the worst of times.  At least that’s what I thought.

Callie looked at Jack as if to say nonchalantly, “Huh.  Who are you?”  She seemed totally unconcerned that this foreigner was in her territory.  And she promptly continued lounging on the kitchen floor totally non-flustered by this new visitor.

Jack, however, was another story.   Big, brawny  Jack took one look at Callie, hissed, scrambled out of daughter’s arms,  and turned into the epitome of a scaredy cat.  He hightailed it down the basement stairs.  Yep, he ran away.  While Callie yawned and went back to sleep.

All my fears about having a cat fight in the middle of my house were unfounded.  So all my worries about the tale of two kitties was just much ado about nothing.   Jack is king of his own hill again exploring his new abode at that city apartment.  And as I write about this in Page 6, in Chapter 10 of my Opportunity book, Callie is curled up at my feet sound asleep on a fleecy Steelers blanket.

Seems like it was just the best of times after all for us here at the empty nest, for Callie and even for Jack, for everyone… except for those Steelers.  But that is another story.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Labor of love

Meet Cutehead

Meet Cutehead

You may have noticed Mama’s been mum again lately.  This mama’s been too busy to blog, bogged down with a bevy of tasks. 

Baffled by bedrooms, I’ve bandied items around the basement, and now that I’ve burst through the barricade, I’m happy to report I’m breathing easy again.

Usually here at the empty nest, there’s not much astir.  But just as surely as the cool wind and rain brought a change to the season – temps drastically dropped down the thermometer from 90’s to 60’s today! – change arrives soon at the nest too.

Oldest daughter is moving back to the homeland from that place down south.  She’s commencing a new chapter with a new job in the city near us.  And can I just say that I am ecstatic that she will be nearby once again?  Until she gets situated though, daughter will move in temporarily with the ‘rents.

So you know what that means?  Mama and Papa have been shoving and pushing and cleaning and purging to make room for daughter’s kit and caboodle.   First we tackled the basement to make room for storage of some furniture – didn’t we just do that not so long ago? Click  I Declare War if you missed that one.

Next project was oldest daughter’s bedroom.   Along with the empty nest syndrome, parents of certain age fall victim to another malady called SOE (Spread Out Everywhere).   Since that room possessed a somewhat empty closet (well, don’t look on the top shelves at the Barbies, books, and Girl Scout mementos), Papa and Mama took over the closet space with extra clothes, extra pillows, mementoes and pictures…and stuff.

That situation required remedy since daughter needs closet space while she stays here.  Solution?  Just move everything over to other daughter’s closet….no wait…can’t do that, there’s a wedding gown, wedding decorations, and a miscellany of other items belonging to middle daughter there.

No problem.  Let’s just open up son’s closet….oh dear.  Why does that young man have so many items of clothing still hanging in here?  Not to mention, shoes, backpacks, 9th grade framed artwork from an art show, AND Papa’s suits (SOE, I tell ya!).   Pushing and shoving and squeezing uncovered enough room to transfer some items over there.

Time to address the chest of drawers.  Good grief, each of the five drawers is full of extra sheet sets, blankets, etc.   Now to where shall we divert this stuff?

All of this labor finally completed on Labor Day (Chapter 9, Page 5, in my Opportunity book) uncovered a plethora of paraphernalia and pleasant memories:

  • 16 gowns including bridesmaids’ dresses from weddings past, Christmas dance formals, Prom finery, and one 34-year-old wedding gown (that one is mine).
  • 6 high school and college graduation gowns.
  • Assorted college textbooks.
  • 3 high school letter jackets still adorned with pins for each sport (track, cross country, soccer, and basketball) and year won.
  • Stuffed animals with special significance (Rocky 2, Cutehead – that’s him grinning in the picture – and various other friends).
  • 1 lonely pair of Eeyore slippers strangely out of place next to the pairs of glittery, spike heels from aforementioned formal events.
  • 1 Science of Scent perfumery set (oldest daughter wanted to be a scientist from early age).
  • Childhood books galore, Barbies, and an array of special dolls.
  • Keepsake gifts given to our three as babies.

So what do we do with it all?  For now, it’s crammed into whatever space we could find and waiting – just as it has for years – to be surveyed, sorted, saved, or shed by its owners, our three adult children.

But that labor of love will remain for another day.


I smell….school!

blogDSCN0263There!  That’s it!  Did you catch a whiff of that?  I definitely smell school, do you?

The other morning, I awakened and took a nice deep breath while I lazily stretched in bed.  And that’s when I caught a whiff of the air circulating in and out of our bedroom via the open windows.  It smelled like school.

I can’t really describe it with words, but there’s a distinct smell in the early morning air this time of year.   The days are still warmed by the sunshine, but the nights commence their descent into cooler temperatures.  I’m certain there must be a scientific reason for what transpires but I don’t know what it is.  All I know is that fragrance in the air reminds me of going back to school.

Even though it’s been decades since I jumped on a school bus or packed up my belongings for dorm life, that smell transports me back in time to the first few days of a new school year.   I can vividly recall standing outside my house, shivering a bit in the cool, morning air, excited and yet a little nervous, waiting for the school bus to arrive on the first day back to school.  Yep, the scent in the air reminds me of crisp recently purchased school clothes, clean white tennis shoes, freshly sharpened pencils, and pristine notebooks with no doodles defacing them.

This time of year, stores tout their back-to-school sales and the aisles overflow with everything you ever wanted to start a new school year with and more.  At the discount store, I maneuver past mothers with children in tow loading up their shopping carts with packs of crayons, glue, rulers, markers, and backpacks.   College aged students heap all those dorm necessities into their carts.  A walk in the mall reveals families purchasing school clothes and the shoe stores swarm with children trying on shoes.   I notice school buses timing their practice runs.

My nose is right.  It’s time to go back to school.   Gone are the days when my children and I piled in the car, school supply lists in hand, to begin the annual ritual of back to school shopping.   The arrival of a new school year generated excitement with transitions from elementary to middle to high school to college, another season of sports practices and games, different schedules to learn, and new teachers to meet.

After a summer of leisure and relaxation, the smell of fall in the air meant the hustle and bustle of a new school year was about to descend and we had to get ready! But now at Mama’s Empty Nest, the scent of school in the air just ushers in a new season.  I can sit on my front porch swing in the warmth of the afternoon, watch the school buses drive by, hear the chatter of students on the bus, and reminisce about those days of putting my own children on the big yellow bus for another year of learning.

It’s my second year of not sending someone back to school, and in Chapter 8, Page 22, of my book of Opportunity, I can honestly say I’ve made peace with that.  No marathon shopping excursions, no frantic run to Wal-Mart in college town because we forgot this, that, or the other thing.  I find extending summer relaxation into this back to school season enjoyable, but the best part of all is my check book is a lot healthier too!

© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Charms in the bracelet of life

blogDSCN7544Almost a year ago, this lonely Mama, sitting forlornly in her empty nest, bemoaned the fact that her friendships seemed to be waning.

Both hubby and I experienced disconnects in various aspects of our lives and our social activity was one of those areas.

I chalk up a majority of those feelings to the empty nest syndrome, although in one very important part of our lives, there truly was a serious disconnect.

But in the case of feeling friendless and lonely, the shock of empty nest reality definitely contributed to those impressions.   When you spend well over 25 years raising children, your life revolves around them and even many of your friendships and activities exist because of the season of parenting in which you’re ensconced.

One of the reasons I began writing my blog stemmed from those sensations of ambivalence and loneliness I encountered as I faced the empty nest.  I needed an activity, a new hobby…something in which to devote time and attention.

I also realized I wanted something besides my job to feel passionate about.  The timing seemed perfect to reconnect with my knack for writing, an art I used to engage in often but couldn’t afford spending time and energy doing during my child-raising days.

C.S. Lewis wrote: “When we lose one blessing, another is often, most unexpectedly, given in its place.”

For me, that quote rings so true.  When my last child, my son, graduated from college last spring, landed a promising full-time job in his field of study, and moved to another state to launch a new career and a new life, I grieved.  Shortly before that, middle daughter, who lived at home after college to save money but drove a considerable commute to work, also moved into her own apartment in the city.

Combined that felt like a double whammy, and the full brunt of two of my children moving out coming less than a year after my father passed away slammed into me like a head-on collision.   This overwhelming sense of bereavement definitely felt like losing a huge blessing.

But just as Lewis advised, I believe I’ve been granted other blessings, definitely most unexpectedly, in place of that loss.   Writing this blog has been such a blessing for me.  Stringing together emotions, thoughts, and ideas into words and pictures gives me much joy.  Actually receiving feedback in the form of comments and encouragement from those who read my words adds to my pleasure.

My readers bless me immensely, even those who have not let me know they read my blog.  I see their attention in my site stats on WordPress each day and I marvel to myself, “Wow, someone read my blog today!”

Some of my faithful readers reside in my neck of the woods and they encourage me just by simply telling me how much they enjoy reading this blog.  One of my girlhood friends keeps urging me to write a book; another has suggested I write a devotional.

Other faithful readers are my Facebook friends – still people I personally know – some near, and some far away, some friends from days gone by  – who also bless me with their uplifting comments and messages.

blogDSCN7569The experience reminds me of a charm bracelet.  When I was a teenager, that jingly, jangly jewelry   was all the rage and I wholeheartedly jumped on this fad bandwagon.

I added tiny symbolic mementos to my bracelet from places I visited or events that occurred in my life.

Family members and friends gifted charms to me;  each one meant something special and that treasured bracelet loaded with jingling ornaments now rests in my jewelry box.  I can still recall who gave each tiny trinket to me and what each one of them  signifies.  There’s a life story right there hanging on my silver bracelet.

Through my blog, I’ve gained new readers and ‘met’ fellow writers who have become friends as well.   One fellow blogger in particular has become a cherished friend.  We share a lot of commonalities, a similar outlook on life, and even more importantly, we share the same deep faith in God, which has given us a very real connection as friends.

If you had told me a year ago that I would find a precious friendship via the internet, I would have loudly proclaimed, “Hogwash!”  (I don’t really use that word, but that’s what I would have said.)   I’ve always been leery of cyberspace and my own children can regale you with tales of my consternation and admonishment to them to be careful online especially when making any personal contacts with people you don’t know.   So here I am, eating my own words.

When I related the ways this new friend and I have connected, my oldest daughter replied with a chuckling twinge in her voice, “Mom, God gave you a new friend through the internet.”  (Heavy emphasis on the word internet!)  She didn’t say, “I told you so!” but I could hear it in her tone.   And she was right.  And I marvel in my belief that God surely does work in mysterious ways.

Recently, my new, sweet friend blessed my socks off.   A package arrived at my country home and the return address was my friend’s.   Oldest daughter watched me open the parcel and remarked, “Wow, Mom, your new friend is incredibly sweet.”  She’s right….again.

There have been many bumps in the road of life lately here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  Some detours.  Some unexpected pitfalls.   Some moments of insecurity.   Moments when hubby and I are leaning heavily on our faith in the God who provides our needs.    During this time, my new friend has been lifting me up in prayer.  I know it even when she doesn’t tell me because I can feel it.

Her secret surprise package mailed to me made me feel special and loved with each beautiful item I lifted from the box.    She told me when she saw these gifts, they screamed my name – Mama’s Empty Nest!  She was right.  They do!

I want to share with you the joy this friend (not just her gifts) brings me.  The above photo shows the delightful adornments as they gracefully nestle among the other assorted items on my kitchen desk, thanks to my special friend.

Each time my eyes catch a glimpse of them, I think of her and our friendship and I thank God for that gift.  Today in my book of Opportunity, Page 20, Chapter 5, I count it an abundant blessing to have been given wonderfully dear friends, some old, some very new.  All of them are like silver keepsakes attached to my bracelet of life.

“When I count my blessings I count you twice.” ~ Irish Blessing

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Half-marathon + guitar = love

blogDSCN7550Last weekend, my country home was full of people I love.  Just the way I like it.

Hubby and I are starting to get accustomed to the solitude and quietness of our empty nest, but it’s so much more enjoyable when there is a little noise around here.   When there is lively conversation around the kitchen table.  When the sounds of a guitar being strummed reaches our ears.  When showers are running and hair dryers are droning.

We’re getting used to a clean and orderly house, but it feels more like home when we notice certain sights.  When the refrigerator and pantry is stocked full of food.  When there are backpacks and shoes strewn hither and yon.   And even when there are umpteen glasses left sitting on kitchen counters and the family room coffee table.

“The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.”  ~ Thomas Jefferson

Just like Jefferson, I am at my happiest when my family is home with me.   Last weekend, Mama’s Empty Nest was pretty full.   Oldest daughter arrived home from the South for a two-fold reason – first to go wedding dress shopping with her sister and to run our city’s half-marathon with a college friend on Sunday morning.

blogDSCN7381Our son, the youngest, traveled home Friday from the state next door to spend a little time with his sister.  He treated us with songs on his guitar that he’s recently learned and a few that he’s made up himself.

Later that evening, oldest daughter’s beau drove several hours to meet us for the first time.   Daughter warned us he might be a little shy.

I’m sure he must have been nervous, but he quickly and easily meshed with our family with no hint of shyness.   We found ourselves genuinely liking this thoughtful young man who has captured our daughter’s heart and who drove such a long distance to cheer her on in her first half-marathon.

I’m not certain where oldest daughter gets her love of running – definitely not from her mama.  Daughter ran cross country in high school and has been a veteran 5K racer, but this was her first attempt at marathon running and she finished in good time.  I think it helped to have beau’s support and encouragement.  He seems to be adept at making her feel special, and I really like that about him.

After all the activity and excitement, the nest emptied out once more by Sunday evening.   Son departed first, then daughter’s beau.   Daughter flew back south on Monday.

We missed having middle daughter and fiancé here, but they had an important ceremony to attend during the weekend.   Plus they are coming for a visit soon!  And when they arrive, sounds and sights of life will fill the nest once again lifting Mama and Papa’s spirits.

Someone once said, “The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing,” and in Chapter 5, Page 19, of my Opportunity book, I am thankful for the amazing blessing which is my family.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

She said yes to the dress!


This is NOT the one!

Surrounded by mirrored walls and racks upon racks of white, cream and ivory-colored gowns with lace, appliques, beads, shimmers and glimmers, bling-bling and what-nots, my youngest daughter, my middle child, said yes to the dress last Friday.

Venturing into the city, we met my daughter at her apartment and with Maid of Honor sister and best friend bridesmaid in tow, we browsed for a wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses at a bridal salon.

While we sat in a row of cushy chairs waiting for our dear one to appear in a vision of loveliness, one of us remarked, “This is like the TV show Say Yes to the Dress!”  The experience proved to be almost as surreal for this mother of the bride as being on a television show might be.

On one hand, I was so happy and eager to watch daughter try on bridal gowns as this is her dream come true.   But on the other hand, I could hardly believe this was actually happening.  How did my little girl grow up so quickly?!  How could she be old enough to become someone’s wife?!

I’m fairly certain both my daughters expected tears from me while viewing the betrothed bedecked in wedding garb.  Truly, part of me did want to weep during this bittersweet moment – joyful with a twinge of melancholy – but reflecting back on the moment, I believe I was in denial.  It just didn’t seem real.

But real it was.  And believe it or not, this sentimental ol’ Mama did not cry.  As my beautiful daughter stepped out of the dressing room each time with exquisite gowns that fit her to a T, her sister, friend and I oohed and aahed and gave opinions.

I know my dear daughter well.  I could tell by her body language whether she liked the gown she modeled or not.  Her face smiled, but her body said no, this isn’t the one.  Even when the sales attendants told her how lovely she looked, or sister or friend would exclaim “So pretty,” I could discern each dress was not her cup of tea.

My middle child is a no nonsense person who admires simplicity for the most part.  She’s kind of a no frills girl, so when she told me several weeks ago that she thought she wanted a lacy gown, I was mildly surprised that she desired something fancy.  But then I realized that this child, now grown woman, has always loved things of old.

As a little girl, she loved visiting antique shops or colonial style homes or museums.  I very distinctly remember her announcing “I wish I could live here” in a 1700’s era home we were touring.  So a vintage look is right up her alley and wedding gowns of lace have a distinct vintage feel.

The first delicate, gossamer-like wedding gown which floated down over her head to settle onto her body, made her beam.   I could tell by the way she looked that this dress was definitely in the running.  She tried on several more after that, but came back to dress number one.   When the bridal consultant added a veil to the ensemble, daughter revealed, “This veil is exactly what I pictured!”

Sometimes, she can be a tad indecisive (a trait she no doubt inherited from her mother), so she surprised us all when the sales girl asked daughter, “Is this the one?”  and she said a decisive, resounding yes! We clapped, we smiled, she glowed.

After we got the ordering accomplished, oldest daughter and best friend began trying on several bridesmaid dresses.  They weighed in on their favorite but the opinion of the two other bridesmaid friends will be consulted before the final selection is chosen.

My daughter’s dream wedding gown is ordered; we left the bridal shop with her chosen veil and accessories.  Along with the church and reception site reservations, we accomplished another important aspect of wedding planning.

I feel happy and excited yet a bit numb.  I keep placating myself that I have an entire year to get used to the idea that my joyful, little rambunctious bundle of energy, who is now a grown-up beautiful, compassionate and gracious young woman of 25, will promise herself to a young man who vows he will love and cherish her for life.

It is Page 17 in Chapter 5 of my book of Opportunity and I’ve decided that in the coming year, I will cherish each moment I’m given to spend with my middle daughter who really is preparing to leave Mama’s Empty Nest to begin a new life of her own with her beloved one.

It’s okay.  I’m not going to cry…..yet.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Blessings like feathers

blogDSCN9405Blessings like feathers have been flying all over the place here at Mama’s Empty Nest.

There’s been a flurry of activity  and frankly, Mama’s been too busy to fire up the computer and write in the blog for a few days.

It’s Sunday evening and I have to admit, I’m dragging a bit from all the hustle and bustle of the weekend; and the weather has turned stormy and dreary;  but I’m nesting quite comfortably here in my home sweet home, counting my blessings.

“Home is where friendships are formed and families are grown; where joy is shared and true love is known; where memories are made and seeds of life are sown.  This is the place that people call home.” ~ Author Unknown

We jam-packed a lot of doings into this past weekend here at home.  With all the ins and outs, the arrivals and departures, the comings and goings, Papa should have installed a revolving door at our house.   This Mama was just content to enjoy the company of all three of her fledgling birdies plus one.

Oldest daughter flew in from her southern home for the weekend first.  Reinforcing my disdain for traveling by air, her flight Thursday evening was a nightmare. (If you missed my previous blogging diatribes about flying, you can read part 1 here: no-flight-plan-part-1 and part 2 here: no-flight-plan-part-2.)

Daughter’s flight was scheduled to arrive at our city airport at midnight.   Enter first disruption.  A rash of thunderstorms complete with wild winds and lightning caused all flights arriving at our airport to be delayed.

Enter second disruption.  After several exchanges of text messages, daughter then informed us that her flight was delayed yet again because of a problem with the plane.   This manifested into engine trouble – third and major disruption –  and that prompted Mama to start some heavy-duty praying for daughter’s safety.

That plane was grounded and daughter had to wait for another plane to arrive.   Once we got over lots of frustration for her, worry for Mama and a short cat-nap for dear old Dad, who was driving to the airport in the middle of the night to pick daughter up, we departed home at o’dark thirty in the morning to collect her.

Her flight finally arrived at 2:30 a.m. and we all crawled into bed at home at 4 a.m.  So let me just reiterate, I am NOT a big fan of flying, but I AM counting it a blessing that daughter arrived safely and soundly for a long weekend here.

Morning came early and we jaunted off on our next big adventure – wedding dress shopping in the city with newly engaged middle daughter.  That blessing I’ll write about tomorrow.

Right before we left our country home, son called from the state next door to say he was traveling (driving!)  home for the weekend as well (another blessing!) and that evening, oldest daughter’s boyfriend also arrived for a first time meeting with us.  We were blessed to get the opportunity to meet this fine young man.

So Mama’s Empty Nest certainly wasn’t empty this weekend, and in my Opportunity book today, this 15th page in Chapter 5, even though the nest is emptying out once again, I find myself blessed beyond measure.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” ~Psalm 91:4

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com