Thank you, Applebee’s

Applebees-Offers-Free-Meal-on-Veterans-Day-to-Veterans-and-Troops

(Photo credit: restaurantnews.com)

It’s something we’ve never done before.

For the last few years, Papa and I have noticed that on Veterans Day, several eating establishments offer free meals to veterans and those currently serving our country in the military. 

As a former serviceman, my husband sincerely appreciates those efforts to honor fellow vets, but we’ve never taken advantage of the offers.  Some retailers also give veterans discounts on November 11 and Papa has used that service in the past.

But yesterday, with our daughter and baby granddaughter in tow, we decided to visit Applebee’s, one of the many eateries honoring Veterans Day, for dinner.

And wow, we were surprised!  Papa left work a tad early and the three of us met him at a nearby Applebee’s that happens to be across the street from a Veterans Hospital.  And I felt immediate regret that I didn’t bring my camera along.

A completely full parking lot and a crowd of folks waiting outside the restaurant was the first surprise. 

This was one busy place but it warmed our hearts to see so many elderly gentlemen, some with canes or walkers, even wheelchairs, patiently waiting to be seated.  So many of our honored vets in one place truly humbled me.

I scanned the crowd and these were the things I noticed.  A slow moving white-haired gentleman dressed in suit jacket and tie with a baseball cap identifying him as a World War II veteran.  Others with US Army or Navy logos on hats or jackets. 

One retired man sported his red Marines sweatshirt and ball cap.  Still others wore Vietnam vets insignia of some kind. Active duty servicemen in their uniforms were also spotted enjoying their free dinner.

And I wanted to run up to each and every one of these fine Americans and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, because of you, I live in a free country!”

All military honorees, all in one place, a wonderful sight to behold.

Noticing scads of small American flags completely surrounding the establishment and waving gently in the slight breeze was yet another surprise.  Folks were greeted by members of a local American Legion who audibly thanked each person for their service.  I’m not sure how many hours those men and ladies stood at their posts.

Yet another surprise.  Two young men stood at the entrance to the establishment and opened the double doors for each and every person who entered or departed.

An empty table of honor sat front and center as we entered the restaurant, a poignant reminder of those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The Applebee’s staff were on ‘high alert’ mode as they seated people quickly and efficiently and treated each customer with kindness and honor.  We enjoyed a delicious meal and Papa relished his free steak. 

Our waitress gave us excellent service and she made sure to thank my husband for his time of duty to our country.  Papa was also given a discount card to use on another visit, which some may call smart marketing, but I choose to be thankful for this small gift.

All around us were smiling faces.  Even grandbaby sitting in her highchair was happy. And I felt blessed to be there.  I felt blessed to be an American.  I felt blessed that so many men and women consider it an honor and their duty to protect and serve this country we live in, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I felt honored to be among those Americans who took this oath with no hesitation or concern for their own well-being, those who sacrificed much for this country and for each of us:

“I, _____, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

Applebee’s Veterans Day promotion read like this:  “Every Veterans Day, Applebee’s invites vets and active duty military to come have a meal on us. It’s our way of saying thanks for their service. But, really, every day is an opportunity to say thank you. So, join us in our Thank You Movement to personally show your gratitude for those who have served, or are currently serving, in our military.”

This veteran’s family appreciates Applebee’s involvement in the Thank You Movement, thanking and honoring our military. 

But really, Applebee’s, we thank YOU.

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”  — Thucydides

(P.S. I have not been given any compensation for writing this; I just truly appreciate Applebee’s, and all other establishments, who support the Thank You Movement.) 

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Surprise, surprise!

Surprise from Australia

Surprise from Australia

The older I get, the more I like surprises.  Maybe it’s because life can get a little mundane once you’re sliding toward retirement years.  Or maybe it’s just because as you mature in age, you’ve witnessed enough that few things surprise you anymore.

Whatever the reason, I want life to still hold plenty of surprises. 

Just yesterday a surprise came in the mail.  And as I happily picked up that package – the one sent air mail all the way from Australia – I truly was astonished.  Tucked inside the bubble envelope was a sweet gift from our Australian friends, Susannah and Mat.  Surprise!  Packages of sprinkles to make fairy bread – one of their delectable treats they told us about – and an Australian cookbook that I couldn’t wait to read through.

Surprises.  I love them.  That’s why as we prepared for Christmas I informed our grown children and spouses that this year would be different.  This year Papa and I weren’t buying gifts off the lists.  This year we were going to surprise them by thinking outside the list box and gifting them with items we thought they would enjoy – gifts they didn’t expect.  And I think we succeeded by the look on their faces as they opened their gifts not knowing what was inside. It was so much more fun that way. 

The unexpected gift from Australia prompted me to remember the joy we shared hosting that lovely couple in our home earlier this month.  Getting that opportunity had been a welcome surprise.

And that caused me to think back over this past year (after all, it is coming to a close).   2014 has been one surprising year.

The year began with me still feeling deeply wounded and saddened over losing my job, yet by year’s end, healing from that is definitely taking place.  Surprise!

Our grown children amazed us with plenty of wonder in 2014.   Middle daughter and husband moved back to the home state and bought a house, then gave us the biggest surprise this year – the announcement that Papa and I would become grandparents in 2015! 

Son and wife also moved (a little bit closer) from New Jersey to the state on the other side and also bought a house.  Surprise!  Job changes for one son-in-law and our son were also unexpected and good surprises. 

Of course, oldest daughter and hubby amazed us with their plans for the grand adventure they currently are on – a trip of a lifetime – climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Surprise!

Other wonderful surprises included a trip to New York City with son and daughter-in-law as well as a restful vacation in the Blue Mountains of North Carolina with just Papa and me.  Trips to visit our grown children have been welcome joys this year.  And daughters blessed me with a home visit for my 60th birthday when we spent an amazing fun-filled family day in the city. 

And even though it wasn’t a happy surprise, I was shocked and astonished to lose our beloved calico cat, Callie, this year.  The sadness that enveloped me while losing our furry little friend stunned me and sometimes still does.

But surprise!  Son and daughter-in-law adopted a sweet Springer puppy named Barley and our house fills with laughter and puppy love when they visit.

Astonishingly, my life this year has been full of wonder.  I’ve enjoyed working part-part-time as a substitute teacher at a nearby Christian school.  Not working as many hours gives me more time to write and God has graciously provided our needs even without my former salary.  Surprise!

But some of the most amazing events have transpired this year with my Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  First, a blogging friend asked me to write an article for TRC (The Relevant Christian), an e-magazine.  Then something else astonishing happened; I became an online co-leader (with two lovely ladies who have turned into friends) for a Christian women’s empty nest community group with (in)courage.  The friendships made there have become priceless.  One of my blog posts, Life on Purpose, was featured on the (in)courage Facebook page on November 1 and I gained new readers from that. Surprise!

I surprised even myself by completing a goal of posting every day for an entire month when I tackled my 30 days of Thanksgiving last month.  The revelations and words that God gave me during that time astounded me causing me to be even more thankful, especially for the One who guides my life.

So as 2014 comes to a close, I have to say it’s been an astonishing, surprising year.  Some surprises were wonderful, some not so much.  But that is life.  And life is the best surprise of all.

“Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”  ~ Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Surprise!

blog341He proved to be a surprise from the beginning and he continues to be, even now.

Over 24 years ago, my husband and I decided our family was complete.  We had two sweet little daughters and were happy with our life the way it was.  A unit of four.   Even numbers.  We fit neatly and nicely in a restaurant booth.  I had two hands which could hold two little hands safely when we crossed the street.

And then….surprise.   I found out I was pregnant with our third child.  We recalculated.  Readjusted.  Readied ourselves to become a family of five.

At my scheduled sonogram, we strained to see if we could determine the sex of our unborn child.  But back then, sonograms weren’t as refined as they are now.  A strong, beating heart was visible and we could determine a head and body but as the technician rotated her wand over and over the bottom half of our child, we couldn’t see any gender determining ‘parts.’

So we naturally assumed we were having another girl.  Three of a kind.  It fit with our family history because I was the youngest of three girls and my husband was the youngest of three boys.  We were so confident our child was another sugar and spice and everything nice little sweetheart that we only chose a girl’s name for our soon to be newborn.

Awakened at dawn with substantial labor pains, we happily trotted off to the hospital leaving our two angels sleeping and in the good hands of my parents, who had traveled half-way across the country to care for the girls while hubby and I got down to the serious business of birthing.

This was my third child, I had pre-determined that labor would not be difficult.  “I’ll just pop this little one out in no time,” I thought.  Surprise.  Labor seemed to drag on and on and on!  At one point, I seriously wondered if this child wanted to be born.   Finally after more hours of labor than it took for my second child, medical personnel wheeled me into the delivery room.

blog001A healthy nine pound baby emerged.  Surprise!  “It’s a boy!” my doctor announced.  Puzzled, I think I asked, “WHAT???”

Reassured by my husband that indeed I had just given birth to a baby boy, a son, I distinctly remember remarking, “Oh, he doesn’t have a NAME!”

Surprise.  We bantered boys’ names back and forth for most of the day while Unnamed Baby Boy slept in our arms.  And then….surprise again.  My dad, who never offered much advice unless you asked for it, suggested a name.  Not just a first name, but a full name – first and middle – and it was a good, sound, strong name.  And so, Baby Boy was named by his maternal grandfather.

My little guy, this little fellow, who surprised us so when he was born on this day 24 years ago and is now a fully grown, independent adult, has never stopped surprising us.

Over the years, our son has surprised us with so many aspects of his life.  Born of parents who had no particularly stellar athletic prowess, our son thrived in the world of sports – soccer, baseball, basketball, track and field.  He determinedly gave his all and excelled, even setting track records at his high school and earning a championship finals medal.

Academically, he also surprised us. After a few years of elementary school report cards that only evaluated students with vague ‘grades’ such as M’s (meeting expectations) and E’s (exceeding expectations), our son attended a new school when we moved back to the homeland shortly before his fifth grade year.

When he brought home his first report card with letter grades based on percentages, he surprised even himself.  He earned all A’s and remarked, “Mom, I didn’t know I was so smart!”

And surprise… that academic trend continued.  Our son astonished us when he graduated first in his high school class as valedictorian, making the grandfather, who named him and had graduated from the same high school 68 years previously, so very proud.   Deciding early to only apply to one college, which also happened to be difficult to get into, and being accepted shouldn’t have surprised us, but it did.

Our son has the zaniest sense of humor, another surprising aspect.  He literally  makes everyone in our family howl with laughter.  Whether it is doing a believable yet hysterical impersonation of a dinosaur on the loose or arriving home at Christmas time wearing a tacky red sweater festooned with jingle bells and candy canes, he always makes us laugh, loudly and soundly.    Aristotle once said, “The secret to humor is surprise.”  Our son understands this philosophy well.

But even more surprising is our son’s character.  Oh, we struggled with the same teenage angst that all parents and sons endure as he tried to assert his independence.  I vividly recall the day in his college years that he firmly explained to me that I should not call him “my baby” any longer because he was a man.  I remember feeling a little angry, a bit hurt, but soon I realized he was right and that surprised me.

Our son has always amazed us with two vital traits  – his respect for us (his parents), for others, and also for himself, and his utmost love for God.  Strong in his faith and loyal to family and friends, our son tries to be a friend to all.  I truly believe he strives diligently to be a man after God’s own heart.

So this year, his 24th year of life as of today, our son has surprised us yet again by announcing he is ready to become a husband.  What didn’t surprise us was his choice, a lovely young woman who he soon will take for a wife.

Happy Birthday, my beloved son.  When God gave you to us to complete our family of five, He blessed us immeasurably.  I love you and I’m so proud of the man of integrity you have become.  Thank you for the joy, the fun, the laughter, and all of the surprises you have given us.   No doubt, more surprises are yet to come.

This post on your birthday, this wonderful day in my book of Opportunity, is my way of surprising you!

“There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved.” ~  Charles Morgan

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Speechless (snowy) Saturday

blogDSCN8093“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go”…….screeeeeeeeech…………..whoa, wait!  Christmas is officially 57 days away.   We haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet!  Back up the truck (or the calendar pages), we haven’t even hit the month of November.

But the scene which greeted me outside my house this morning enticed me to sing Christmas carols.  That’s because it is snowing here at Mama’s Empty Nest! A pristine white overlay cloaks the still green grass in our yard, not a usual occurrence for October here in my area of the state.  About an inch or so already accumulates on the maple trees that haven’t dropped their coats of pretty fall colors yet.  It’s an odd sight.

blogDSCN8103The weather forecasters predicted this, but I scoffed when I heard their report.  I expected maybe some snowy bits mixed in with rain, but not this

Not the ground covered with a fluffy white blanket, the outside world wrapped in colorless cotton, and a steady dusting of Suzy Snowflake and all of her friends continuing to descend.   

My house looks as if it’s ensconced in an unremitting snow globe, one where the snow never stops and settles.

I’m posting pictures.  I know it isn’t Wordless Wednesday, but for me on this 29th page in Chapter 10 of my Opportunity book, I am shocked.  Let’s just call this Speechless Saturday.

Oh well… “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful and since we’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

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blogDSCN8097 ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Fall surprises

Surprise!  That’s the nice way I started my morning today in my book of Opportunity, Page 23 in Chapter 9.

A blogging buddy of mine Georgette Sullins bestowed the Versatile Blogger Award on me.  Thank you for thinking of me!  Georgette and I became friends way back in April when she commented on my Freshly Pressed post, When Nature Shows No Mercy .   I find Georgette’s blog always fascinating as she chronicles endearing stories to be saved and cherished for her family.

Since this is the first time I’ve been honored with the Versatile Blogger Award, I researched it to find there are rules to follow.   So here goes:

Rule #1 – Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.   (As the kids would say, Georgette, you rock!)

Rule #2 – Tell your readers seven (7) things about yourself.  (Prepare yourself, dear readers, these are very random!)

  1. I launched this blog on a whim, partly because of the weird funk I found myself in after my last child graduated from college, snagged a job, and moved to the state next door, and I also I thought I’d work through the empty nest syndrome by writing about it.  But this blog has morphed into more than just an empty nest activity.  Writing again has given me great joy and I’ve met some delightful friends through blogging.
  2. Hubby and I come from families with ‘three of a kind’ (I’m one of three sisters; he’s one of three brothers).  But we were dealt a ‘pair and a spare.’   After our two daughters, our third child was a boy.  We were so certain we were having another girl, we didn’t even have a boy’s name chosen!  Sonograms weren’t very definitive back then.
  3. When I was a young girl, I dreamed of being famous.  (What little girl doesn’t?)  At first, I thought I’d be a legendary actress, but later I decided I’d be a renowned writer.  Hmmm…so far, my only claim to ‘fame’ might be my one-time freshly pressed experience.
  4. I’ve experimented with a few different careers – teacher, newspaper reporter/editor, technical editor, and in the last 10 years, working part-time for a non-profit.  But my absolute favorite occupation (and my most important one) has been motherhood. I was blessed to be a stay at home mom for 19 years!
  5. My new found interest is photography – both taking pictures and looking at others’ beautiful shots.  I used to just click my camera to document special occasions, vacations, or my kids’ events.  Now, I grab it when I see something interesting or I just want to experiment.  I’m not very good at it, but I find it fun.
  6. My perspective on life totally changed when I was diagnosed with early stage and very treatable cancer 6 years ago.  The whirlwind of diagnosis, surgery, and treatment left me dazed, but later so profoundly grateful for life and much more aware of the precious moments in it.
  7. I don’t like seafood or coffee.  My husband loves both.

Rule #3 – Give this award to up to fifteen (15) recently discovered bloggers.

I’m veering from the rule here because my first award goes to a blog I’ve been reading for over a year now, so she’s not recently discovered, she’s one of my “must-reads” –  Homestead Rambling’s Blog.  We became instant and life-long friends when she found my blog and started commenting.  We’ve realized we are kindred spirits with so much in common, including our faith.  She truly is a versatile blogger because her posts may be informative, humorous, encouraging, or inspiring.  Right now, she’s writing about her recent journey to Alaska, a land that seems to be calling to her, and from her pictures, I can sure see why.

Crossing the Line  also deserves this award.  This blogging buddy has been one of my cheerleaders for some time.  Her comments always make me feel valued and appreciated as a writer.  I relish reading her posts on her relatively new blogging adventure.  As she honestly writes about the aspects of life that invite her to ‘cross the line’ and move forward on her personal growth journey, she reminds us all about our human frailties and how we can choose to take a different path.  She’s on my ‘must-read’ list too.

Rule #4 – Contact those bloggers and let them in on the exciting news.  (Boom, done, finished.  Emails complete.)

For now, I’m signing off.  My favorite season of fall arrives with some of my favorite people – the pair and the spare all will fly back to the nest this weekend!  We’ll have a full house with a family day Sunday.  That’s a gift that’s even better than a blogger award!

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

My ‘Oh My’ Moment

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Not this zoo bear!

Dorothy should have been at my house yesterday.  In her red shoes.  On the yellow brick road.  Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion tagging along.

The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my favorite movies of all time.   When I was a child, I always watched it every time a television station broadcast it, usually at Thanksgiving.   My kids grew up watching it as well.

We often got a kick out of singing, “Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road,  follow, follow, follow …” in our best munchkin voices.  One of the lines from the movie that has stuck with me over the years is when Dorothy and her odd friends chant, “Lions and tigers and bears…oh my!”

I had an “Oh My!” moment yesterday on Page 1, Chapter 9, in my Opportunity book.  On my front porch.

Hubby arrived home from work, changed his clothes, and ventured off to his civic club meeting.   Home alone for a couple of hours, with just kitty for company,  I decided to phone one of my best friends, Leigh, and chat awhile.  My front porch swing beckoned me, so I grabbed a glass of iced tea, my cell phone, and dialed her.

We chatted and gabbed and talked….as we always do….for quite some time.  Still full daylight, dusk wasn’t falling yet, and I fully intended to stay parked on the swing in the cool evening air discussing life with my long-time friend until one of two things occurred – either darkness descended or hubby came home.

But my porch swing reverie was cut short when I experienced a major “OH MY!” moment.  Right in the middle of an interesting story Leigh was telling, I noticed my cat scurrying from the sidewalk onto the porch.  I thought it was odd that she was kind of slinking along and came immediately to me.  Then I saw it.  OH MY!

A black snout emerged from around the corner where our front porch meets the garage.  My first thought was “Whose big black dog is running loose?”

Then I felt those fingers of fear gripping me and it felt like my heart jumped into my throat when I realized it wasn’t a dog!  That snout belonged to a really large head and that head was attached to an animal way too big to be a canine.    It was a BEAR!

A black bear lumbered into full view about 40 feet or so from where I sat.  OH MY!  I literally froze on the swing, whispered into my cell phone in a tiny, quiet voice, “I’m not going to talk because I’m freaking out right now.”  Leigh said, “What’s wrong?”  And I couldn’t answer as I sat perfectly still, eyes locked on that black creature.

The bear took a couple steps, looked right at me, and back tracked a step or so.  I was terrified it was going to come up on the porch when it took another step forward.  Right then, a neighbor across and down the road from our house, started mowing along his steep driveway.  The noise of his tractor evidently frightened the bear enough that it retreated and disappeared around the corner of my garage.   OH MY!

I gathered up enough wits to grab my iced tea (didn’t want to entice that bear ONTO the porch for something sweet) and to sprint to the front door, rush inside the house – the cat beat me in though! – and lock the door.  Once inside, heart pounding and feeling totally incredulous, I told Leigh, “Oh. My. Gosh.  I just saw a BEAR in my yard!”

And then she freaked out and, good friend that she is, listened as I gushed frantically about what just transpired and how it scared the daylights out of me!   OH MY!  I nervously looked out my windows, but the bear wasn’t in the front yard.  I went to the back of the house, looked out the kitchen windows, still babbling – probably incoherently – to my friend.  No bear there either.

Where did it go?  I can only assume it hurried down the hill behind my house and into the brush.  It seemed gone, but I fought off fear that it would come back.   Leigh was just relieved that I wasn’t going crazy or seriously harmed or something.  She laughed to calm my nerves and jokingly told me at first she couldn’t figure out what she had said that freaked me out so much.  OH MY!

Needless to say, I stayed in the house until hubby came home then repeated my “OH MY” moment for him.   I told him I thought my heart might have finally started beating normally, but that my “OH MY” moment had startled the heck out of me.   He couldn’t believe it either.  We’ve lived in this house for over 11 years now, and we have never, ever seen a bear in our yard – lots of other critters, never a bear!

We suspect this creature of the wild had visited our garden and was making its way to a scrumptious treat on the other side of our house.  That’s where the raspberry bushes are and they just started producing their second crop of berries.

As I’m writing this post, I’m discovering two things.  First, I didn’t have my camera on the porch with me, so I don’t have a picture of my visitor, so this picture I found will suffice (it looked just like this!).

And secondly, I don’t want to feed the bears!!!  I don’t want them visiting my yard or coming so near my house for a free lunch!  I prefer seeing bears from a distance or at the zoo, not a few feet from my front porch swing!

And I’ll tell you another thing….it’s bad enough being startled by a bear….but if I see a lion in my yard…or a tiger….I’m moving!!  Lions and tigers AND bears??  OH MY!  Dorothy, move over, I’m coming back to Kansas.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Not your typical day

blog036It starts as a typical day off work.

Crawl out of bed.  Perform usual morning tasks which include looking out the window to find a dreary, rainy and chilly day greeting you.

Gather up laundry.  Eat breakfast enjoying that first hot, soothing cup of tea.

Tell husband about the crazy dreams you had.  Laugh out loud at his reaction.

Throw first load of laundry in the washing machine.  Think about what household chores need to be accomplished.  Decide they can wait and power up the laptop.  Log into Facebook.   Read updates on your friends and relatives near and far.

Decide to check blog and perhaps write a short post for today.   Click on WordPress.  Stare at WordPress home page.   Blink.  Stare again at home page.  Blink… blink… blink.

Gasp out loud.  Mind begins rapid-fire monologue.  What?!?!  Is that real?  Do you honestly see what you think you see?  Could it be?

On the Freshly Pressed home page for www.wordpress.com there sits a picture that looks exactly like the one you used in yesterday’s post.  Blink again.

The upper-right corner of the page boasts the freshly pressed post entitled,  “When nature shows no mercy” by Mama’s Empty Nest.  That’s you!!  Sit back in your chair and let the shock sink in.

Blink again and again.  Stare intently at your computer screen to make sure your eyes are not playing tricks on you.   Nope, still there.  You’ve just been freshly pressed for all WordPress bloggers to see!

Yell at husband to come look as you incredulously explain, “I think I’ve been freshly pressed.”  He grins at you and says, “Wow!  That’s great!”   You grin back and stare again at the screen with him.  Shock.  Total shock.

blog019Hubby grabs your cell phone and texts your three adult children: “Your Mom has made the big time on WordPress!  Her blog from yesterday was posted on freshly pressed on the front page.  This made her day.  You should take a look and congratulate her.  Love, Dad.”

You finally come out of your shock stupor to actually log into your blog.  And there you see proof that it’s true.  Your site stats have soared to heights never seen before.   Fellow bloggers are leaving comments for you.  In the blogging world, it’s an exciting day.

Friends write congratulations on your Facebook wall.  Your children respond with messages and phone calls.  They’re proud of their mama.  They tell you again what an awesome writer you are.  (Of course they believe that, they’re your offspring!)

Oldest daughter tells you “Mom, you’re going to be a famous blogger!”

And your reply is “Ha! Only for one day!”

And that’s the truth.  When the fervor dies down,  the site stats will return to the normal range.  Your 15 minutes of fame will be over.

For what it’s worth, you’re relishing the ride on these last few pages in Chapter 4 of your book called Opportunity.   But more than that, you hope and pray lives were touched by what you write, which always comes from God placing thoughts in both your heart and mind.

Thank you WordPress and all you fellow bloggers and readers out there.   Thanks to you, it’s been a thrilling roller coaster of a ride!

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Mama goes crazy, but not THAT crazy!

pexels-photo-804721.pngToday my daughters thought their Mom had finally gone dotty.

Chalk it up to the looong winter weather, the lack of color in my world, or the lack of excitement in my hum-dum empty nest Mama life, I don’t know, but I did go a little crazy today.   Let me explain.

I had a hair appointment for a cut and color with my sweet and vibrant hairdresser.  She’s a 20-something around the same age as my daughters, knows my entire family, and we enjoy chatting as she snips away at my overgrown hair.

She and her husband have the most adorable nine month old baby boy and I get to hear his latest accomplishments (he took his first step the other day!).

On my way to the appointment, I was thinking about how I needed a change….somewhere…somehow.  So I thought, well, I could change my hair.  I’ve been known to grow weary of the same old, same old when it comes to hair styles, and I’ve had the same “do” for a couple of years now.

My hairdresser was a little surprised when I cautiously told her that I thought I was due for a change.  We discussed some options and she got very excited!  When my gal turned my chair around to the mirror, she was anxious to see my reaction.

And I liked it!  I really liked it!  It was bouncy and just a little sassy for a change.  So I came home with my usual color, but a few caramel highlights interspersed here and there and a shorter and slightly altered style.

Then I did what any 50-something bored empty nest Mama would do when she is thrilled about a new look for herself.  I took a picture by cell phone of my new hair and picture messaged it to my two daughters.  A flurry of text messages ensued.   The following are the actual messages with my thoughts noted in (italic parenthesis):

Me:  What do you think of my new hair? (They are going to be so surprised!)

Oldest Daughter: Is it…..purple?!?  (Mother, are you insane?)

Middle Daughter:  Um..what color is that? (Before I declare you crazy, I’ll just check to make sure first.)

Me to Oldest Daughter:  Purple?!?!?? Heck no!!!  (What?  Do they think I finally went over the edge?)

Me to Middle Daughter:  Your sister thought it was purple!! It is definitely NOT.  It’s actually the same color as always but with caramel highlights and a little different cut.   (Seriously, now why would they think I dyed my hair purple??)

Oldest Daughter:  Ha ha ha, the picture makes it look purple!!  As long as it’s not purple, I like it! (So, if mom dyed her hair purple, oldest daughter would obviously disapprove!)

Me to Oldest Daughter:  No, it’s definitely not purple!! Caramel highlights and cut a little differently.

Middle Daughter:  It totally looks purple in the picture. I’m sure it looks so much better in person.  (Middle Daughter is ever the peace-maker, the mediator.)

Me to both girls:  (Sending another picture – a close up) This better?

Oldest Daughter: (after viewing the latest picture message)  It looks good, I like it.   (Only because it’s not purple!) Yep, definitely less purple in that pic, haha.  (Oh, see Mom, I’m laughing…it was just a joke. I don’t really think you’re nuts!)

Middle Daughter: Yes.  Very nice.  What made you decide to do that? (Code for “Mother, even though your hair is not purple, have you lost your mind?”)

So on this seventh page of Chapter 4 in my book of Opportunity, I can admit that I’m a little bit happy with my new look and amused a lot at my daughters’ responses.

Ha-ha, girls, you didn’t think your old empty nest Mama could still pull off a few surprises, did you?  Wonder what I would look like with purple hair??

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

An 80-year-old Gift

Imagine you’re in the winter season of your years.  You’ve witnessed much in your 80-plus years on this earth.  Seasons have come, seasons have passed.

I would imagine by the time you’ve reached your 80’s, 90’s, and beyond, you’ve probably experienced the loss of many of your loved ones – peers and family, except hopefully your children and grandchildren.

I know my own father, who passed away at 90 and was the youngest of his family, often talked about how difficult it was to be left behind.  Even though he received much joy from my sisters,  all his grandchildren,  and great-grandchildren, he missed those who had gone on before him – my mother, his siblings, parents, in-laws, and most of his friends.

I would suppose that the winter of your life could be a lonely, depressing time.  I’ve often heard friends discuss that it distresses them to hear their parents remark that they are just waiting to die.

For those who are saved by grace, it’s something they eagerly anticipate – their journey to heaven.   For those who are gravely ill, incapacitated, or just extremely weary after 80-90 years of life, they must be seeking relief and peace.

So imagine one day, you are just living your life much like any other day and someone hands you a gift.   A treasure for your eyes and your heart.  A poem you have never seen before,  written for you on the occasion of your first birthday all those years ago.   A piece of paper in your dear mother’s handwriting, the mother who died when you were 12 years old.  A gift of love  that you finally received today, 80 years later.

That’s what this elderly gentleman from Kansas City received. Watch this video and see if it doesn’t bless your heart the way it did mine.   (Note: For some reason, YouTube will not allow me to embed the video in my blog.  Just click on the arrow and then click again on “watch on YouTube” and it will take you to the video on YouTube.com)

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com