Early Christmas present

blogIMG_4845Santa came early this year.

He brought a bright red sack full of Christmas stockings filled with goodies for our children who, of course, are actually adults.  

Mama had to kick it into high gear and get the decorating completed and the gift shopping finished and she readily admits online browsing for gifts surely did help.  That and a one night get it all done or bust shopping excursion with Papa.

But despite the whirlwind and flurry of getting an early Christmas ready and waiting, we succeeded.  Shiny lights and wreaths adorned the exterior of the house.  Garlands and candles and festive decorations bedecked the inside.

The Christmas tree flaunted its finery and stacked beneath it gaily wrapped packages awaited opening. The once empty bedrooms were ready for nestling in beds with visions of sugarplums dancing through heads.  The pantry and fridge stood stocked and equipped for good eats and despite fighting off some sinus crud for a few days this week, Mama, with the help of Papa, prepared for a weekend of celebration.

One by one and two by two they arrived to celebrate an early family Christmas because of work schedules for the medical duo and travel schedules for the adventuring twosome and crazy busyness of new job and new home for the other couple.

First to arrive on Friday night was son driving all the way from a brand new home in the state on the other side of us with the grandpuppy in tow.  Daughter-in-law would be picked up at the airport Saturday morning as she flew in from a business trip.

The second homecoming brought oldest daughter and son-in-law, tired from a long week at work and a long drive here yet excited to be together with the family before they leave on their grand adventure to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and sightsee in Africa.

We snuggled with puppy, we chatted, we ate, and we howled with laughter all over again at the crazy holiday movie, Christmas Vacation.  And we enjoyed each other’s company as we waited for the last couple, middle daughter and son-in-law, who arrived Sunday morning since daughter was in a friend’s wedding on Saturday.

Mama rose early on celebration Sunday to whip together a most yummy crock pot version of hot chocolate for breakfast and begin Christmas dinner preparations when the door opened and the last of my loved ones finally arrived.

There was much hugging and laughing and talking and it was one of the most relaxed Christmas celebrations I can remember for quite some time.  We opened our gifts with exclamations of surprise and gratefulness, gathered around the dining room table for a simple but filling Christmas dinner, and topped it off with singing the birthday song to oldest son-in-law as it was his special day. 

And all too soon, time came for departure.

We joined hands full circle and prayed for safety and well-being during the grand adventure taking place this month and for safe travels for all as two by two they left the homestead.  Again we embraced and even shed a few tears this time.

As the door closed after the last couple departed, Papa and I gravitated to our usual spots in the family room.  The quiet enveloped us once again here in the empty nest.  For us, the family Christmas is over.  Oh, we’ll still celebrate some more by attending Christmas Eve church service and taking time to contemplate the wonder of the most amazing Gift ever given to mankind on Christmas Day.

But for now, I’m left with a sink full of dirty dishes, loads of towels and sheets to launder, Christmas gifts to put away, torn and crumpled wrapping paper to dispose of, leftover food to eat…and memories.  And for that early Christmas gift, I am most thankful.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~ Burton Hillis

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

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The nest just became emptier

blogCallie in carWhere she came from still remains a mystery.  She was smart, she was beautiful, and she was very loving.  And now she’s gone.

One bright summer day 14 years ago, she arrived.  She wasn’t here when I left to run errands but when I returned there she was, frolicking with my three kids in our country home yard. 

“She just showed up,” my 18-year-old daughter said.  And her younger sister and brother agreed in unison, “Yeah, she just walked into our yard.”

I looked her over – she was young but she was well-groomed and certainly did not appear to be homeless.  No, she had been well-loved by someone and she had just lost her way.

“Can we keep her?” my 12-year-old son pleaded.

“No, we can’t.  She belongs to someone,” was my reply.

We searched for her family and waited patiently thinking surely whoever lost her would come seeking  and reclaim her.  But as each day passed, she worked her magic – making us love her -and she readily became a part of our family.

And who wouldn’t love her?  She was a kitten, probably around four or five months old.  Clean as could be, no sign of fleas, no tangles in her thick soft, multi-colored fur, no signs of being outdoors for very long.  She was a gorgeous calico cat with splotches of brilliant white, ebony black, and dark orange and beautiful golden eyes.  And she loved to be held and petted, so much so that she would climb in your lap and curl herself up to your neck as closely as possible.  She couldn’t get enough cuddling.  This was no ordinary stray cat.

No one ever called or came to claim her so she became ours and the kids named her Callie the Calico Cat.   She was not a typical cat.   She didn’t want to be alone, she wanted to be with you, on you, purring in your ear, lying in your lap, pushing her head into your hand demanding to be stroked.  She was especially fond of our son, curling up on him while he was asleep to nap with him, and nuzzling against his neck so she could lick his ears when he was awake. 

She was well-behaved and rarely scratched either us or the furniture but did use the wooden deck posts outside as her favorite scratching place.  She fit right into our family and was so very sociable, not aloof and independent like some felines are.  She always wanted to be in our midst and when I was recuperating from cancer surgery, she was constantly at my side purring and gazing into my eyes.  Almost like she was asking me:  Are you going to be okay? 

She watched as one by one each of our children went off to college and she always warmly welcomed them back home.  She wanted to be a part of our celebrations, activities, and even games, a part of our very lives.  And she was. When this nest emptied out, she became Mama and Papa’s constant companion.

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Playing dominoes with the family

Not only was she the most loving cat I ever owned, she was the smartest. She learned to ring a bell on a string tied to the door that led from our family room to the garage where her litter box sat.  When she wanted back inside, she rang the bell.  She learned to perform some ‘tricks’ for treats like sitting, dancing (spinning in a circle), begging, and reaching into the treat jar to retrieve her own goodie.

If she desired to venture outside, she would find me and gently reach up with her paw, tap me to get my attention, and lead me to the door.  She rarely meowed and when she did, it was a quiet and gentile me-ahh.   She loved stretching out and napping in the warm sunshine on the deck in the afternoons.  She didn’t like rain or snow and refused to go outside in either kind of weather.  She loved sitting on our master bedroom window sill at night and peering out over the front yard.  She guarded our property like a watchdog yet was extremely frightened of the road and traffic. We often thought she might be pretending to be a jungle cat when she stalked her way through the garden. 

She loved her life here at our house and only strayed away from home once.  She came back and soon produced six precious kittens to our kids’ delight and my dismay.  She was a good mother, but that would be her first and last litter. She loved new toys and especially chasing her laser mouse and she was attracted by all things shiny even if they were on your person.  She was a real girly-girl, known to ‘borrow’ earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and even my diamond engagement ring once because glittery things fascinated her and she just had to have them!

She enjoyed her toys especially the glittery ones and her favorite had to be the mouse laser; she was determined to catch that elusive red dot!  But I have to believe she loved us more than anything else. We were her people and she wasn’t happy unless she was with us.

All of that ended Monday evening.  She became very sick quickly, not eating or drinking, and her breathing became laborious.  Papa and I realized that we were losing her.  I checked on her often throughout the day and each time as I stroked her silky fur and crooned sweet words to her, she found the strength to purr as loudly as she could.  She waited until Papa got home from work so he could say his goodbye and then she slipped away.

Today, this empty nest seems so much emptier without our faithful Callie in it.  I’ve owned several cats in my lifetime but this cat was different.  I’m not an ardent animal lover yet I find myself grieving for her more than I ever imagined I would.  Tears slide down my cheeks like they have for no other animal.  She wasn’t just a pet, she was a member of our family,  and our kids are just as shocked and saddened by her death as Mama and Papa are.  From time to time, I think I hear the little bell on her glimmering pink collar and I find myself looking for her. 

She was special.  She was one of a kind.  There will never be another cat like her. And she was meant to be ours.  Callie was a gift to us and she’ll always be in our hearts.

“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.” ~ John Galsworthy, English novelist and playwright

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Scary birthday to me

blogIMG_3204As if turning the big 6-0 isn’t scary enough, something startled me this morning so much that I actually jumped and emitted a little shriek. Today is my birthday. And yes, I’m now officially entering my 60th decade.

All weekend long, we celebrated my milestone birthday. Our two daughters and one son-in-law traveled back to the empty nest to treat ol’ Mom to a special time. And we did have a fun-filled weekend together. We missed the other three but that thing called work sometimes interferes with plans.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and yesterday afternoon, my beloved ones departed for their trips back to their own homes. Papa and I stood on the deck and watched them pack up their cars to leave, waving and blowing kisses and projecting “I love you”(s) in the air as they drove up the driveway.

We walked back into our now quiet empty nest. After all the activity of the weekend, we seemed at a loss for what to do. I grabbed the unopened Sunday paper from the coffee table and quickly made my way through it. Papa logged onto the laptop and cleaned out his emails.

We ate a simple dinner together in the stillness of the evening. Hubby ventured outside to water the flowers and his garden. I settled down with his Kindle catching up with The Count of Monte Cristo where I left off earlier this week.

We loaded the dishwasher, watched a little television, and then called it a day for the night. Cool, crisp air wafted in our bedroom windows and that made it easy to drift off to dreamland.

This morning I awakened, refreshed and happy to see sunshine, and I thought, “I don’t feel 60.” And you know what? I don’t!

I was still lounging in our comfy bed (it is my birthday, after all!) while hubby showered and prepared to head out for work. When he stopped to kiss me goodbye, he casually announced, “Oh, there’s a man in our closet.”

What??? After he repeated himself once more, I came to my senses and realized exactly what he meant. As a joke for older daughter before her marriage, her bridesmaids gave her an inflatable man doll for her bachelorette party. Not surprisingly, she left him behind here in the empty nest.

But he seems to keep reappearing in the strangest places, especially when older daughter and her hubby are home for a visit. Oldest son-in-law is a hoot and a bit of a prankster. He cracks us up with his sense of humor and funny antics which is one of the things daughter loves about him. She tends to be pretty serious and he makes her laugh.

And he makes us laugh too. But this morning, he made me shriek. Quite often after they’ve been home, we find bachelorette party man somewhere in the house outside of his usual hiding spot stored with those things oldest daughter has no space for yet.

This morning, party man was in our master bedroom closet. Propped up against the clothes with my shirt and my shoes adorning him! And even though my husband had warned me that there was a man in the closet, that fellow surprised me so badly when I opened the closet door and flicked on the light that I actually flinched and squealed.   And then I laughed so hard, I practically cried.

Is turning 60 really a scary birthday? Nah, it’s funny. Really, really funny. And I thankful for it.

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

 

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©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

2/3 but who’s counting?

blogIMG_2825It was a full Easter weekend at Mama’s Empty Nest even if it was only 2/3 full. Notice I choose to view the nest 2/3 full instead of 1/3 empty since four of the six faraway loved ones flew (well, drove) back to the nest to celebrate Resurrection Day with us.

I confess that often I’m a bit envious of those families whose grown children live nearby them. They get to spend all holidays and even regular old every days together whenever they want. When our three were young, Papa and I lived far away from our families and we missed celebrating holidays often with them. And now, with our three strewn across three different states, I find myself in the same predicament.  

Our grown up girls and their spouses managed days off and long drives to spend some good quality family time together with us this Easter weekend. Since we haven’t been together as a family since Christmas, it truly was cause for celebration even though son and daughter-in-law would not be here.

We talked and we ate. We laughed, we ate. We played games, we ate. The girls made Easter favors; the guys helped Papa drag out the outdoor furniture and then had their usual target practice. And did I mention we ate? We curled up in the family room and watched “Saving Mr. Banks” together and we ate some more. And then we celebrated our Savior’s victory over death at our church where Papa and I were narrators for the Easter Cantata.

What a glorious weekend! Even the weather cooperated and we enjoyed two sunshine-filled warm days. We broke out the ladder golf game and ate lunch outside on the back yard deck.

All too soon, time arrived for them to leave and drive back to those other states where they reside. Papa and I stood on the deck waving goodbye as each car pulled out of our driveway. We walked back into our quiet home and started cleaning up the kitchen, loading the dishwasher, tidying up.

Afterwards, we plunked down in our usual spots in the empty family room. Papa fired up the laptop; Mama turned on the TV to watch The Amazing Race. But our day of joy wasn’t over yet. The phone rang and our empty nest felt complete when we heard our son’s voice wishing us a Happy Easter.

Family love fills my tank. Time spent together is the fuel, whether it’s in person or on the phone. And believe it or not, life is full in our nest even when it’s empty.

“Circumstances and situations do color life, but you have been given the mind to choose what the color shall be.” ~ John Homer Miller

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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When the end is the beginning

photography 1967

Polaroid film photography 1967

In the beginning there was film.  Black and white film.

And it got loaded into a Swinger Polaroid camera received for my 12th birthday.  When the picture rolled out of the camera, I patiently waited the proper amount of time and watched as the image I’d just snapped magically appeared on the photographic paper.

Then I swiped solution across the photo to ensure it wouldn’t fade away again.  After it dried, I inserted it into a crazy black and white checked mod patterned album expressly for Swinger polaroid pictures.

And there those photos stayed all these many years.  Occasionally, I pull the photo album out and look back at the interests of my 12-year-old photography.  I had always wanted a camera of my very own back then, and it’s interesting to see what the subjects of my photography were.

My bike standing in the peach orchard of my family home.  Photos of my neighbor playmates and my family.   Our cat.  Trips to the zoo and camping with other youth from my church.  Christmas celebrations from 1966-1970.

And then the photos stop.

Other interests garnered my attention like high school and friends and boys and getting into college.  I occasionally borrowed my parents instamatic camera with the flashcubes that you popped onto the top for indoor shots and took a few color college photos of friends and events with the boyfriend who became my husband.  But buying film and then paying to have it processed wasn’t in my budget, so I didn’t take many pictures.

After our marriage, hubby and I bought ourselves an automatic camera with electronic flash attachment.  With that film, I tried to document our lives together.  Dissatisfied with the results, we moved on to our very first 35 mm single lens reflex camera.  I had to learn how to use F-stops and remember to rewind the film, but did manage to take much nicer photos.  Hubby and I even took a class on how to develop our own film but I’ve forgotten every thing I learned except being in pitch black to take the film out of the canister. 

That camera documented our life in the Southwest – military life, occasional family get-togethers, vacation trips to other states and home, always home. 

photography 1980

35 mm film photography 1980

It recorded the first few years of our oldest daughter’s life, but eventually, that camera stopped working. 

By then, hubby had left the military and we were struggling to live on one salary from his new found career.  We had a child, a mortgage on our first home, car payments, and a whole list of redecorating and updating to accomplish in our home, so we opted for a simple 35 mm point and shoot camera with built in flash because it was less expensive.

Most of the time, I was the one behind the camera lens attempting to capture moments we shared and the places we visited.  When that camera died, we went without one for some time relying on the video recording camera instead.

But eventually, my hankering for a camera to take still photos returned.  And a few years ago, my middle daughter handed down her digital point and shoot camera to me when she bought a new one for herself.  And that’s when I started taking photos just for my own enjoyment.  It reminded me of my old Polaroid.  As soon as I captured the shot, I didn’t have to wait for film to be developed, I could view it immediately.  And if I didn’t like it or it wasn’t as good as I hoped, I could delete it and start over again.

That was another beginning.  The beginning of my new found hobby – taking pictures.  And the more I snapped, the more I enjoyed it.  I progressed onto my own upgraded point and shoot digital – a little Nikon CoolPix – and was amazed at the sights I could capture with it.

But like anything, the more you get involved, the more you want something better. Last year, my husband gifted me with a DSLR, a total surprise for me.  And I’m hooked.  My camera has become my companion even though I’m still learning how to use some of its features. The joy I get from looking through the lens of that camera has been eye-opening.  And that is a beginning – getting to spend time engaged in something I truly enjoy.

photography 2013

Digital Single-Lens Reflex photography 2013

This week’s photo challenge has been “beginning.”  It immediately reminded me of a song from “The Sound of Music” – “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”

In my stage of life, I haven’t thought much about beginnings, so reflecting about that concept does prove a good place to…well…begin. 

So many aspects of my life have ended.  I’m in the empty nest stage of life, so raising children and getting them through college has finished.  All of my children are married adults living their own adventures away from home.

My parents and my husband’s parents are both deceased, so caring for them has ended.  The job that was such a huge part of my life is also finished.  There have even been some endings to relationships because of that.  And I’ve lost interest in some activities that used to capture my attention.  And while this is the beginning of a brand new year,  2014 will mark an ending as well when I close out another decade of life and turn the big 6-0.

Yes, I’ve encountered a lot of endings.  But I’ve come to realize those endings may really be a beginning.  The beginning of a stage of life I might actually come to enjoy instead of dread.  We’ll see what begins in this new beginning.  

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” ~ Louis L’Amour

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Downright down in the dumps

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Even kitty seems lackluster.

I’m feeling weary.  Worn down.  Lifeless.  Listless.  Blue and maybe even a tad depressed.

In the beginning of summer’s season, I compiled a list of all the things I would accomplish this summer.  My list is untouched and unchecked.  No inclination and no motivation whatsoever to knock those things off.

Sometimes I get this way in the summer when I’m weighed down with oppressive heat and humidity – the kind that renders me claustrophobic and like each breath is a major undertaking because it’s just so thick outside an air-conditioned house.  But this year, I can’t place the blame on the weather or summer’s season.

Stifling, sticky days have not been the norm this summer.  Instead, moderate temperatures have warmed the days and summer evenings have proven cool, often downright chilly.  And I like that.  I sleep like a hibernating bear when my bedroom windows are open and the night air breezily wafts in through the window screens causing me to pull the covers up and snuggle into them. 

While most folks here complain that we haven’t had much of a summer because it hasn’t been stinking hot, I’ve been relishing the coolness of it.  So why am I feeling so drained and so downcast?  It’s not heat.  It’s not the humidity.  It’s not lack of sleep.  It’s not an absence of relaxation.  It’s not stress (I don’t think). 

I can tell you all the things it’s not….but I can’t tell you what it IS.  I can’t put my finger on what exactly is making me so lethargic, so weary, so languid.

So I finally got around to scheduling an appointment with the doctor.  Because maybe it’s physical.  Or maybe not.  But I was overdue for a check-up, way overdue.  And just as I expected, my calendar is now full of more appointments for this test or that, for follow-up on this, and to see a specialist for that.   

And somehow, I have to squeeze all these in between a daughter who needs me as she faces surgery that will require some MLC (Mom’s Loving Care),  some dental work that also needs accomplished, and my work-load at my job which will ramp up in September.

I had a heart to heart talk with God asking Him, “What is this? Why am I feeling so downright down in the dumps?” because I’m feeling the same way spiritually as well – dry as a desert…too parched and spent to even pick up His Living Word for spiritual refreshment.  And that’s not like me.  I wait for His answer.  But it hasn’t come…yet.  Because sometimes the answer is long coming.  Sometimes it’s not the answer you hoped to hear.  Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be an answer at all.

But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear my prayers or that He doesn’t care or that He’s forgotten me.  It just means I must make the effort to seek, to pray, to listen.  It’s that effort part that’s difficult to dredge up.

So I gather it all up, roll it in a ball, and garnish this weary, down-trodden feeling with a smidgen of melancholy because after spending nearly three weeks enjoying some family time with my oldest sister and brother-in-law, we had to wish them farewell.  And oh, the tears flowed when they left to journey back to their home too far away. 

And I’m left feeling sad, and lonely, and a little lost.

You know some days, you just want to cry.  And you don’t even know why. 

But I do know one thing – it was so much easier when I could use menopause as the scapegoat for life with all of its ups and downs and roller coaster emotions.  Maybe it’s just that same old scenario that sneaks up behind me and gives me a good whack now and then – that empty nest syndrome.

Whatever it is, I’m hoping when fall arrives, and God sends that crisp, fresh air season – the one which I love and which invigorates me  – the change of seasons will just whisk whatever this is on out of here, once and for all.

Because honestly, I’m tired of being tired of it.

“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.” ~Author Unknown

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

I’m dreamin’ of vacation…in a year or two

The last family beach vacation  - 2005

The last family beach vacation – 2005

School’s out.  Summer just literally arrived.  And you know what that means.

A person’s thoughts turn to going on vacation.

I am in need of one.  I’ve experienced a hectic year…no, make that a hectic two years

Last year whipped by in a flurry because of all the wedding planning for our three offspring who married within six months of each other.  And as this year forged its way to the half-year mark, more demands at work and other commitments occupied my time.

So a vacation sounds just like the ticket to me.  Actually, a ticket anywhere sounds great!   But unfortunately, the thought of a vacation is just that – a thought.

Reality is a stay-cation.  My summer calendar is quickly filling up with appointments and obligations and hubby’s vacation time has been used for other purposes (weddings and small trips) until he reaches another milestone at his job.

Once while I talked whined about my married kids living so far from home, a thoughtful listener reminded me that this gives us opportunities to discover and explore the places where they live.  So one of the empty nest plus points is that if you have the time, you can visit your children flung hither and yon – some mini-vacays squeezed in here and there. 

We’ve started doing just that.  For Thanksgiving, we visited son and daughter-in-law and enjoyed attractions in their area.   At Easter, we spent the holiday weekend with middle daughter and son-in-law in our neighboring state south of us and took in the lay of the land there.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a longer trip to the new home of oldest daughter and son-in-law.  Although we have visited their city previously, we experienced some good eats and something we’ve never done before. 

As it turned out, our son and daughter-in-law also joined us there.  We had a great time together but we all missed the other two (middle daughter and son-in-law).  And that got this empty nest mama to thinkin’!  But I’ll save that for the end of this post.

Our culinary treats during our visit to the bluegrass state included down-home barbeque for a yummy and truly finger-lickin’ good lunch at Marks Feed Store  and a Sunday after church lunch at a rather unique restaurant called Mussel & Burger Bar.  Of course, ice cream is always necessary, so we sampled some deliciousness at Graeter’s,  which immediately became one of our favorite ice cream spots.  

As you read this you may be thinking, “Is that all you did while you were there – eat?” No!  We stopped by for a friendly visit with Rodin’s famous statue, The Thinker, and some of us pretended to be great intellectual scholars and posed for photos.

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The bugler playing the Call to Post at Churchill Downs

 And for the first time, we spent a day at the horse races at Churchill Downs.

Rodeos and horse shows?  Been there, done that.  But I’d never attended a horse race before. 

On one of our previous trips south, we visited this attraction, but there were no races that day so we just paused for photos outside the facility.

This time we joined the excitement. Daughter and son-in-law obtained box seat tickets for all of us in the Clubhouse right near the finish line on a lovely  afternoon.  Watching those sleek and incredibly beautiful horses  glide effortlessly around the race track was amazing!  (I’ll post more photos later.)

Afterwards, we girls modeled some extravagant Kentucky Derby style hats we found in the gift shop.  If I bothered to keep a bucket list, it would be one of those items to draw a line through and cross off with a flourish.

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Confederate soldiers’ graves at Cave Hill Cemetery

As unbelievable as it sounds, another spot I enjoyed visiting was Cave Hill Cemetery, one of the most interesting cemeteries I’ve seen. 

No, I’m not morbid.  My photographer’s eye just couldn’t get enough of the unusual and intriguing monuments (Kentucky Fried Chicken’s famous Col. Sanders is buried there). 

These weren’t just grave markers, they were pieces of art as well as mausoleums, some built into hillsides, and something this Yankee-bred girl has not seen much of – Confederate Army Civil War soldiers’ graves. 

The history is rich.  You could wander around there for hours and the spring-time scenery proved so lush and green, and yes, I’ll say it, peaceful that my camera kept clicking non-stop.

So where will our next mini-trip take us?  Not sure.  But in the meantime, an idea planted in my brain during that trip took substance.  These empty nest parents would love to plan a family vacation with all our kids. 

Happily, they all jumped on board with a plan to descend on a beach destination in the next year or so.  We’d like to spend a week together somewhere on the Mid-Atlantic East Coast that wouldn’t necessitate long driving trips for everyone. 

Now the question is where?  A  nice family friendly beach we’ve not been to before sounds promising so the search commences.  We’re open for suggestions!   

Okay, now I have an urge to go listen to Beach Boys songs….and start surfin’ the net for a beach location because ‘wouldn’t it be nice?’

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

All points bulletin: Empty Nesters

Dear Mama’s Empty Nest Readers,

Today’s post is a special request and I’m hoping you can help me out with this one. It’s an APB!  Yep, that’s what I said!  An APB (all points bulletin) for empty nesters!

I’ve been contacted by a researcher from the Steve Harvey Show in Chicago.  The show is looking for families who are soon entering the empty nest stage of life for a segment on the show.

If your last child is graduating from high school and you are facing the empty nest or know friends or family members who are and would be willing to be contacted by the show, please contact Ryan Porter at this email address:  ryan.porter@steveharveytv.com

Oh, and did I say he needs help with this one immediately?!  He’s on a deadline and if you contact him, he will be one happy camper!

If you want more information on Steve Harvey’s talk show, click here for the official website.

Thank you!!

Sincerely,

Mama’s Empty Nest

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When past-times become past times

blogDSCN9740I’m starting to feel like a party planning pro with three bridal showers and two weddings behind me and one wedding ahead on the calendar.

In the last year or so, I’ve reached down into a creative core I didn’t realize I had, dug very deeply, and have produced some fairly nice results.

Who knew I could get so crafty again?  Years ago when the kids in Mama’s Empty Nest were still filling up the house with dirty laundry and mud-caked soccer and running cleats, Mama used to do crafts to help maintain a little sanity.

Being crafty for me resembled the scenes in old movies where people who were imprisoned in mental institutions passed away their time basket weaving, supposedly to regain their lost minds.

The laundry room cabinets above my washer and dryer tell the tale.  Various sundry crafty items…beads, glitter, ribbon, sewing kit, embroidery floss, stamps and stamp pads, calligraphy pens, counted cross stitch patterns… sit neglected on the shelves there.

They all relate tales of past-times from past times.   Some items convey stories of being “room mother” for umpteen years when devising and designing crafts for elementary school classroom holiday parties was a high priority on Mama’s to do list.

Other items express that stage in life when home beautification or creating decorating projects was paramount.  When Mama was younger, had more energy, and needed something in her hands to help relax in the evenings after all the munchkins were tucked in their beds, that’s what floated my boat.  In recent years though, I’ve been lucky if I have enough energy to stay awake through an entire television episode of “Castle” in the evening with just the remote in my hands.

In days past, trick or treat costumes needed to be sewn, flouncy hair ribbon bows  created to adorn my girls’ hair, and greeting cards designed with stamp art.  Even Christmas ornaments and décor were crafted at the kitchen table.

Some craft items remain from a time when a group of friends and fellow moms met for crafting sessions once a week.  We would gather at one of our homes, have coffee and tea, complete crafts together, chatting and laughing, sharing life stories, then top it all off with a delicious lunch.

Back then, it seemed I never had enough time to accomplish all the projects that I had in mind.  I used to think, “Someday when the kids are grown and flown, I’ll have lots of time for crafting.”  Ha!

That was before I began working outside of home and becoming involved with other things that require my attention (ie. blogging).  For some reason, I even have a difficult time getting the laundry and house cleaning accomplished let alone engage in crafting.

I have to admit that dusting off the old hot glue gun and digging in the crafts box for all of this wedding/shower hoopla has been fun.  A creative outlet that had been shoved back so far on the burner that it had almost been forgotten has been resurrected a bit.

And I’ve surprised myself with creative juices that I thought only bubbled to the surface when I sat down at my computer to compose blog posts.

Who would have thought I’d become little ol’ crafty me again? I just can’t promise this craftiness is going to stick around for long…unless I get sucked into the plethora of crafty ideas on Pinterest.

After all, I will have all this time on my hands, right?  Nah.

“Crafts make us feel rooted, give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history. Our ancestors used to create these crafts out of necessity, and now we do them for fun, to make money and to express ourselves.” ~ Phyllis George

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Preparing to fight the fog

I wonder.  I wonder what I’ll talk, think, and write about when it’s all said and done.

When all the planning is complete.  When all the vows have been said. 

When all the wedding décor disappears from its current abode in my dining room. 

When all the gifts have been re-boxed, packed up, and stacked into a moving truck headed for their new location.

When the basket of towels and sheets waiting to be laundered revert back to small loads.  When the table is set for dinner for two, not three. 

When three bedrooms are tidy and I can walk unhindered through my basement void of oldest daughter’s furniture and boxes.

When hubby and I drift into that steady routine consisting of work, cooking dinner together, and quiet evenings in our country home with the cat dozing on one of our laps.

When we passively shuffle along dulled by the monotony of everyday life like travelers seated on a passenger train, heads tilted back with eyes closed, just riding…gliding…lulled by the steady rhythm, jostled a little back and forth as the train clickety-clacks along the journey tracks and we endure the ride.

Will that be what it’s like?  When I wander through the house, empty-nested again.   And I wonder when the misty blanket of empty nest fog will try to envelop my thoughts and emotions once more.

Fall, my favorite season of all, will be ending and the dark night of winter will descend upon us.  Color will vanish for months and be replaced by hues of browns, blacks, and grays.

The trees will bare their limbs, the grass will fade to brown, and the flowers will all commence their winter night slumber.   The sky will grow dim and gloominess will usurp fall’s colorful power and reign while the sun plays hide and seek and the days grow shorter and darker.

And I will have to fight the dreariness, the lack of sunshine, and that empty nest feeling all over again. 

I usually enjoy winter with its lacy snowfall and its icy curtains.   I love the distinct changes of seasons, so I generally welcome winter’s arrival when Jack Frost nips at my nose and Suzy Snowflake dances through the air.

But I’m not sure this year about winter.  I’m not sure that the season’s artic air isn’t going to knock the wind right out of me and lay me flat.   

When ol’ man winter wraps his icy fingers around my home, I think I will struggle to shake his frosty grip from my state of mind.

As I grab wooly blankets and sweaters to keep me warm, I might also need to grasp spring-like reflections to break free from the chain of those empty nest moments of sadness, especially because none of our newlyweds will live in the same state as Mama and Papa.   Our times spent together as a family will be less often and holidays will be shared with their other families.

It’s a cycle that must be lived.  A reality of life that must be forged through as the parents of newly married young adults.  And for me, it will prove a triple whammy when all three of the weddings are completed next month.

Just as the bushy-tailed squirrel gathers sustenance with his acorn stash for winter survival, I will gather my to-do lists, make plans to keep busy, and remember to give thanks for the stockpile of golden happy memories we made this year – the year of the weddings.  

I will stack them in heaps of joy, hoarded in the hideaway of my heart to produce them when the empty nest sadness threatens to encase me. 

I will be grateful in the upcoming days of opportunity, even though they may be tinged with bitter-sweetness.  Because it is a choice to embrace joy amid the sorrow, to welcome the sun light through the clouds, to feel love’s warmth in the shroud of fogginess.  

In the face of winter’s gloom, I will choose joy.

And I will pray.  For blessings for my children – all six of them now.  For renewed vigor and purpose for hubby and me. 

And I believe I will pray for spring to come early.

 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die,  a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,  a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,  a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,  a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3: 1-9

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com