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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Giving Back and Getting So Much More



Our girl scout troop volunteered today at the Soup Kitchen in a nearby town. It was our first experience doing community service in this capacity. It was actually my first experience also and I must admit I was a bit nervous and I think the girls were too. The place is not in the best location, obviously, and when we pulled into the parking lot there was already a line forming. It is one of those places that I would never pull into or get out of my car.....but I am so glad I did today.



This particular soup kitchen is supported by all the local churches in all the denominations. It is very heartwarming to see all the many faiths working together to help the community. Our church works the 4th Sunday of every month and we provide all the food for that day. Meals are served daily, with different churches/organizations donating food and services. The menu today consisted of milk or coffee, a sandwich, soup, rolls, and a dessert. We also gave a "second sandwich" to go, which we wrapped for them.



We had an hour of prep time to prepare all the food. The meal was served for one hour and fifteen minutes and then the doors were closed for the day.


I was extremely impressed with the organization, the respect, the politeness, and the kindness. We served 216 meals today and I only had one person who was rude. There were homeless people, people with mental illnesses, black people, white people, Asian people, Hispanic people, older people, men, women, and children of all ages and colors. The children pulled at my heart strings, I knew they would. The young father who got milk for him and his toddler son and then poured both milks in his son's bottle pulled at my heart strings. The young couple with 3 young daughters who had the best manners pulled at my heart strings. The older gentleman with one tooth and a dirty, ripped jacket who told me I poured the best cup of coffee he had ever had pulled at my heart strings. The older lady who thanked me for giving her a meal today pulled at my heart strings. The teenagers who I would have avoided on the street, who called me Ma'am and said please and thank you pulled at my heart strings.




I was very proud of our girls today. They served all these people with love and kindness, gave them some dignity, looked them in the eye and realized they are just people. People who are not as fortunate as they are maybe, but people like them just the same. I think our girls grew a bit today, I know I did.



This Soup Kitchen served 5400 meals last month. The number is slowly rising as our economy worsens. They have a minimal budget and rely heavily on donations. If you have the means or the time I am sure you have a soup kitchen in your community that needs help. We will definitely be back.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Glorious Day

This is the covered bridge at Knights Ferry. It is about a 2 hour drive from us. We went there yesterday for a picnic. It was a glorious day which was made even better because of the company we were keeping.We spent a lovely day with Mamarazzi and her gorgeous daughter Jordan and wonderful husband. Mamarazzi and I had the pleasure to meet a few months ago and instantly clicked. We knew our daughters would get along and they became penpals. Yesterday was their first IRL visit and we were right, they did get along beautifully.

We picnicked along the Stanislaus River. It is gorgeous this time of year. The hills are green and the wildflowers are blooming. The weather was perfect, 85 degrees and blue skies.


The girls had a blast walking along a river and climbing rocks. Big Daddy went with them and took these pictures. Mamarazzi and I sat in the shade and talked and talked. I think we talked for the entire 5 hours we were there. It is funny how we never ran out of things to say!!

Aren't these girls gorgeous?? They are beautiful through and through!



Thanks for a wonderful time Mamarazzi, Big Daddy, and Jordan. It will definitely not be our last visit!!! I love how we have clicked and I feel very honored to call you Friend.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring has Sprung

Spring has sprung in my garden. Let me take you on a tour.

The apple tree is full of blossoms. It looks like we will a bumper crop this year.

I have many, many roses. This is the climber that is on the arbor over the gate that leads to our pool. It has the most wonderful aroma, the old fashioned rose scent, my favorite. This climber is near our bedroom....I love it when it wafts into our room.

Another view of the delicate pink roses with the wonderful scent.

This rose is near our front door. It makes a lovely greeter for our guests.

Another front yard rose...another welcoming site as you come to our front door. I think I have about 20 rose bushes in all colors and sizes spread throughout our yards. Not all of them are in bloom yet, but all of them are covered in buds.

Here are more apple blossoms. This is Michael's apple tree. This area was left free of plants, it just contained dirt. I called it Michael's area and he spent hours and hours digging in the dirt creating roads for his cars. The area was littered with Matchbox cars and Tonka trucks. Michael also planted many, many seeds from his apples over the course of a few years hoping to grow an apple tree in his area. A few years ago we bought a tree and planted it together. It has always been known as Michael's tree and he always gets to eat the first apple of the season.

This is Michael eating the very first apple harvested from the tree. This photo was taken 3 years ago. Look how little the apple is!!

Roses, Roses, Roses....nature's perfume.

I love the sunlight filtering through the vine.

Cherry blossoms. This tree is in our pool yard and it looks like we are going to have a huge crop this year. Last year the cherries never made it into the house. We would sit by the pool and pick and eat cherries right then. Our intent was to pick and bring in the house, but they were so good, they never made it inside!! We may have enough to share with our family friends this year, maybe!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back to Nature

Last Saturday we began our day lazing around the house. It started out as a nice peaceful morning and at some point it started to change into a bickering session between the kids.

It was at this point that I made an executive decision to get out of the house and get back to nature. I figured the children needed an attitude adjustment and a hike was just the motivation they needed.


After much grumbling and groaning and "do I have to?" asked numerous times, we loaded up the van and drove to the beginning of the trail.



This handsome fellow was the only one of my children that was very excited about the idea and he willingly jumped in the van with a big smile on his face. Isn't that smile gorgeous??

The hike started slow with the age old questions - "how long is this going to take?" "how far are we going to go?" I just smiled at them and kept walking. I knew that nature would soon weave her magic on them and their attitudes would soon change.
Remember the wildflowers Dave and I collected last week? Like I promised, these are the seeds from that bouquet.
The kids had a blast distributing the seeds among the hills. I think Baron thought they were scrumptious dog treats, he was sorely disappointed!!
We found numerous animal tracks and were able to identify raccoon, deer, coyote, and mountain lion. We even found a set of tracks that looked like a coyote hunting a small deer and taking it down. This led to a very interesting discussion about the Circle of Life, prey/predator relationships and their impact on the environment. I love these conversations with my children, it warms my heart.


We also made a new friend. After a brief relationship, she flew away.

As I expected, nature cast her magic spell on my children and the attitudes miraculously changed. Soon they were running and laughing and having a wonderful time. A bit of fresh air, some exercise, some conversation, and a lot of laughter is definitely the best medicine.

video

Here are the children at the end of our hike. Look at their gorgeous smiles, the happiness on their faces warms my heart. The magic is definitely working here. An hour earlier they were bickering and arguing and definitely not smiling.

video

More magic. I also love watching the children and dog running together. It is a truly beautiful site.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!!! Have a joyful and peaceful day!!


We will spend the day with our parents and have a wonderful Easter meal and Easter egg hunt for our kids....I am so glad they are not too old for the egg hunt...I know that day is coming.


Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Urban Landscape

As you know...I love nature. If I had my druthers, I would live on acres and acres and grow all my own food and have cows, goats, chickens, horses, etc. I find much beauty and solace in nature and peace and quiet. Bird song and insect song is beautiful music to my ears.

Of course, that is not my life. I live in suburbia, close to the big city and close to nature. It is actually a perfect place to live, I get the best of both worlds. I also try to see beauty everywhere. I have been known to pull over when driving when something pleases my eye.

I don't have a great camera, just a point and shoot device....someday I would LOVE a nice camera - are you listening Santa??

On our trip to the big City to see Wicked- the most wonderful musical - I decided to bring the camera and find beauty in our urban landscape. This is what we saw...some of the pictures were taken by me and some were taken by Cassie. Every one of these photos speaks to me in a different way.....Enjoy.




















Beauty can be found everywhere....it is all a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Welcome and a Thank You

There is a new blogger in our midst. Her name is Pam, we affectionately refer to her as Auntie Pammy in our house. I have had the pleasure of calling her a dear friend for many years now. Here is the link to her blog...head on over and say Hi and give her a big bloggy welcome!!


I also want to acknowledge a regular commenter on my blog. She comments under Anonymous but always signs her comments "Karen in SC". She is my son Michael's birth great aunt and a truly beautiful person. Her comments are wonderful, she gives the best advice and adds a dose of love in every word. She is a very wise woman and I feel totally blessed to have her in my life. Thanks Karen...I love you!!


Have a wonderful day everyone!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wicked

Last summer, while on a vacation, I read Wicked. It is a wonderful book, I highly recommend it. I immediately made a mental wish that the musical would come to town because I missed it the last time it was here.

I came home from vacation and was checking my email when lo and behold....Wicked was coming to town and I had an invitation to purchase tickets before they went on sale to the general public!!

I could not get my credit card out fast enough!! Today was the much anticipated day and let me tell you....I was not disappointed and neither was Cassie. The show was FABULOUS!! Words alone cannot describe it. If you have a chance....go see it!!! You will not be disappointed...actually..you will...when it is over!! I almost cried when it ended. I did cry when Elphaba and Glinda sang this song:



Another favorite part was this song....The song itself is amazing, but the stage show is equally amazing for this song -



I think this is my new favorite musical!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Healing after the Storm

Experience has taught me that growth is born from pain. There are no regrets, only lessons to be learn. Mistakes are made in order to educate myself in life. I know this, but it is so hard to remember when mired in the pain.

Last week/month has been difficult here, as you read on my post the other day. I knew there would be much growth both individually and as a family, but I also knew we had to go through the mire and pain to get there. I think we are there now, I know we are there now. Our family has grown and so have we individually.

Healing, for me, at times can be difficult. I know what my spirit needs to heal, but sometimes I am so mired in the muck that I resist my needs. I knew, this time, I had to fight through the muck or I would get so entrenched in it that I would not find my way out, for awhile.

Friday night both children were gone on sleepovers and Dave had plans with a friend. I knew that if I stayed home alone I would make myself very comfortable in the muck. Usually I love my alone time...but not this time. I knew it would be unhealthy for me.


I called my best friend, the one person who knows me better than anyone. We have been friends for over 30 years (can you believe we are that old T??) My friend who has a blog but won't give me the link to it!!!, but reads my blog daily!!! Anyway....we went out for Chinese food and then came to my house and made cookies and talked and laughed for hours. For Hours!! It was wonderful. Just what I needed...some Girlfriend Time. Thanks T....you are the bestest friend ever....(even if you won't link me to your blog).

Saturday Dave and I had the day to ourselves. The kids were not due home until mid afternoon. I suggested that we take the hike I took you on yesterday in my post. It was a glorious day and the hills were more colorful than they were last week. We walked for over 2 hours and talked and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Halfway through the walk I realized that Dave was not next to me. I turned around and saw him bent over picking a wildflower. There is nothing more endearing to me, or humbling, than to see the man I love picking a wildflower. It brought tears to my eyes. We lamented about picking a bouquet because our motto about nature has always been - "Leave only footprints and take only pictures and memories". We felt it would be wrong to pick a bouquet, but we really wanted to. So...we compromised. We picked a bouquet and promised the Wildflower Fairies that we would save the seeds and return them to the hills. We spent the next half of the walk picking the gorgeous bouquet you see in this post.

We weathered the storm. We have grown as a family and as individuals. Healing, for me, took place in the laughter, the friendship, the love, the flowers, the hills....nature. Another storm is brewing on the horizon. I do not know when it will get here, but know it will come. I have gained important knowledge through this storm. I know it will help me through the next one. Most importantly I know that through love and nature....I will flourish, I will grow, and I will heal.