For the love of family

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Family game time

Family time.

It’s always been an important aspect of our lives here in this empty nest home even when it wasn’t empty.

When our three offspring were young, we tried to spend as much time as possible together, attending activities and sports events to support one another. At times it was oh, so very hectic.

That and living at a great distance away from our extended family – parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins – prevented us from spending as much time with our relatives as we would have liked.

Over 20 years ago, we relocated back to my hometown to be closer to some of our family. Our kids were teens and pre-teens and our household was still a busy one; Papa’s work travels interfered, but we managed to devote time to parents before they passed away and to some of our extended family.

But since Papa’s extended family lived several hours away, we couldn’t always attend family events like reunions.  As the years passed, we found ourselves only seeing those family members at funerals.

Circumstances changed as we entered these retirement years, and we’ve found ourselves with time to devote to family gatherings afar. As the older generations of our families are now gone, it seems more important than ever to stay connected.

Now days, families are scattered hither and yon. Two of our own grown children live in other states as does one of my sisters and one of Papa’s brothers and their families. Visiting with them requires major trips.

Maybe that’s why I relish time with family so very much. We just don’t get to experience that luxury very often.

Back in the beginning of September, Papa and I traveled across our state for an overnight stay to attend a family reunion with his mother’s relatives. Uncles and aunts are now long gone but still the cousins meet on a Sunday afternoon at a state park for a picnic and time together.

We enjoyed our visit and picnic lunch in a quiet, tranquil area of the park. It was a joy to see the “kids” all grown up with spouses and little ones of their own. The day resulted in a wonderful time of reconnecting, reminiscing, and reacquainting.

Just last weekend, we were blessed with another joyful time of family togetherness when our own “kids” all came home for a visit. The house was full. And with two preschoolers running around, a baby, and a dog along with seven adults, it was a loud and boisterous place.

Quite a difference from what this empty nest home usually is like but we wouldn’t have traded that time and noise and chaos for all the world.

It’s family time. And it makes me happy and contented and looking forward to the next time we will gather again.

Christmas this year in this ol’ empty nest is going to be the most wonderful time of the year.

“When we sit thoughtfully pondering in a quiet place and the Spirit speaks to us, there will come into our hearts and souls the things that are truly our greatest desires, those things that are more important in the long run than anything else. Away from the appeal of the world, that greatest desire usually relates to relationships with family and with the Lord. And when that priority is in place, then we begin to plan our lives with purpose. We begin to have goals that cause us to live with anticipation.” ~ Ardeth Kapp

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks in all circumstances

blogIMG_5878You know this blog is named Mama’s Empty Nest, right?

Way back in 2010 when I launched this blog, that was my current state of affairs. My nest was empty. I was feeling discombobulated entering a new season of life. Our youngest graduated from college and began his career in a state next door, and our other two offspring were already established in their careers and living away from home.

Three of the four bedrooms in this house were empty – oh, there were still beds and stuff in them, but the three children who inhabited those rooms were off on their own. The fledglings had all flown away from the nest.

It took me some time to work through all the emotions and sense of loneliness and yes, even loss. But Papa and I muddled our way through it, supporting each other as we always do, no matter what.

So the empty nest has been my thing for several years, but I have a confession to make to you readers who don’t know me personally.

Mama’s Empty Nest hasn’t stayed empty. For the last couple of years, this empty nest was a little fuller.

Something very painful happened to our middle daughter. I’m not willing to share details so publicly about what transpired, but suffice it to say a distressing occurrence changed her life in a blink of an eye.

Shattered dreams became a new reality.  Happening on the cusp of just becoming a new mother to her very first child, it was an emotionally charged and heavily draining event, full of betrayal, anger, sadness, and even depression.

Because we are a close-knit family, it took its toll on all of us. But also because we ARE a close-knit family who relies on the almighty and omnipotent God, we’ve become even closer despite the struggle. We have cried together, we have prayed together, we have hoped for the best together even when it looked like a good resolution would not actually happen. And it didn’t. 

So we rallied together when daughter needed help to pick up the pieces of her life that were broken and splintered causing so much pain.  She and baby girl came to live with Mama and Papa in this cozy nest we call home. This place where they could be sheltered, nourished, and in time, emotionally restored with the love of her family, but more importantly with the healing balm of a Savior’s love and provision.

It’s been a long journey for her. An upheaval with so many changes. Sacrifice even. Discovering a new dream for her future. But there is light at the end of the tunnel as she moves forward. She has found a new home to call her own. A place for her and her wee one to put down their own roots firmly yet branch up and soar into the future.

“When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?” ~ George Canning

Soon we will send her off with blessings and thanksgiving and this nest will once again be empty. I am so grateful that we could help her, so grateful for the opportunity to have both her and our granddaughter live with us temporarily. I’m so thankful for our family and close friends who prayed for and supported her during this time.

And I’m so very thankful for the God of mercy and grace who walks us through life’s difficult journey.

My heart is full of thanks giving on this 29th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, even though the going was rough, the emotions ran high, and the upheaval was challenging. Because my favorite passage of Scripture – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 –  tells me this:  “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine) 

“Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.”~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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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. 

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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.

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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