Daughters ~ A Mother’s Treasure

Few in life “get me” like my daughters.  Few in life understand me like my daughters.  There are no other women in my life to whom I am closer than my daughters.  I trust them implicitly.  They are wise beyond their years and have spoken truth and wisdom into my life at times when I most needed truth and wisdom spoken to me by someone I respected and trusted.  My daughters are those women.  I can’t even imagine my life without my daughters.  Thank God, I was blessed with three of them.

Tomorrow is my oldest daughter’s birthday.  

Keicha Marie Christiansen graced my life with her birth 
on the 25th day of January over forty years ago.  

(I’m not telling you her age because I don’t know if she wants me to tell you.)  

Her entrance into my life seemed to be a metaphor for her life.  Born a day before her due date, she was early.  She is always early.  She never runs late.  Her birth was easy.  I had three hours of labor before she was born after there were only three hard labor pains.  She then presented herself with great efficiency. She is still efficient.  She doesn’t waste time or energy.  She just gets things done.  She was a petite baby.  She is still petite.  She was beautiful, and she still is.

Keicha and I on her 40th birthday

This past week, Keicha and I were chatting by phone as she left work and headed home.  In the midst of the conversation, she said, “Oh cool.  They have the shelves up in the new library.  That is so exciting.  I can’t wait to go in and see the new library.”  I asked where the new library was.  She then told me it was the old library that been remodeled.

My mind went back to those early days of Keicha’s life and my memory recalled days of watching her run into the building to get books with such great excitement.  I remembered her holding my hand and walking along the wall to jump off at the end and run to playground that was nearby.  I remembered how from her earliest days she loved books and libraries.  Keicha is a reader.  She always have been.  It did this mom’s heart good to hear how excited her adult daughter was to get to go back into that old library now made new to explore the new surrounding and find new books.

I guess if she has one downfall it would be that after checking out stacks of books for summer reading, she would stash them under her bed and forget to return them.  She read Gone With The Wind and the age of thirteen and that began a very long fascination with all things related to the book and the movie.

Keicha and I have shared many books, book talks, and ideas from books for so much of our lives.  I love that about Keicha.

It has been said that a daughter is a little girl who grows up to be a mother’s best friend.  There is much truth in that statement.  As a young mother, I had no idea that my baby girl, my toddler, my teenage daughter would someday become such a treasured and trusted friend.

Keicha is many things to many people.  She is an awesome mom to Gillian.  She is a much loved sister to her siblings.  She is a wonderful companion to her significant other.  She is a competent, hard-working employee.  She has worked hard within her community over the years through volunteering for Junior League, Boys and Girls Club, Ogden City School Foundation, and she works tirelessly in the area of Suicide Prevention.  There are more organizations and boards that she has served, but I don’t even know what they all are.

I’m very proud of all that she does for so many, but most of all I am just very proud to call her my daughter.  I don’t tell her enough how much she means to me.

Keicha, you are truly a treasure to me.  I do not know what I would do without you.  We have traveled down some very rough roads together.  We have had to stand shoulder to shoulder on the very worst days of our lives, the day we lost your sister Julie, and those hard, hard days that came right after that day that changed our lives forever.

Together we walked through those dark, dark day after Julie’s death.  Together, we cried, we screamed, and yes, we even laughed hysterically at a very inappropriate time not long after Julie died.  We have stumbled through seven and a half years of learning how to live after great grief.  For whatever reason, the two of us, you and me, seemed to always be on the same wave length as we dealt with our great loss.  How would I have made it without you?

I wish this bond we have which was forged out of grief had never had to happen.  I wish we could have just had more and more days of you three girls laughing together while making your mom a bit crazy, but that was not to be.

We have learned that we can do hard things.  We learned that together.  You have inspired me, made me proud, and always been an honest sounding board.  You have told me the truth when I needed to hear it.  You are smart, funny, have a flare for making your surroundings beautiful.  You have style.  Oh do you have style.  Your taste is exquisite.

Keicha, you are my daughter, my beautiful daughter.
I am so blessed.

Happy Birthday!

February Notes

Late February may seem a bit early to be doing some spring cleaning, but winter doldrums magnified each time I dealt with dog fur, dander, dust, and dirt accumulating throughout the house.  Vacuuming and dusting just were not dealing with all that debris tracked in by the dog throughout the winter.

Having spent most of the month of February ill and cooped up in the house, I decided spring cleaning needed to come early this year.  The light switches, every surface in the bathrooms, the door knobs, and other frequently touched areas of the house were wiped down with Lysol once I started getting well.

On Monday of the last week in February, the sun was shining and it was warmish enough outside that I opened windows throughout the house so that the house and I could breathe in fresh air.  The dog's bed was carried to the back deck where my hubby vacuumed every square inch of it.  We then moved the bedside tables and vacuumed under them.  Tables throughout the house were cleared of knickknacks.  Sheets were changed on our bed and on the guest bed.  At noon, the carpet cleaner arrived.  Now, I also have clean carpets and much tidier house.

The house is losing its winter doldrum appearance.  Over the weekend, my daughter Amy gifted me with the same flowers she almost always brings for my birthday: daffodils.  Even the daffodils in the yard are poking their head up.

Soon, spring will be here.  In Colorado, that means that we most likely will be having our heaviest snows of the year, but I can handle that because I will know that winter is nearly behind us, and we will experience springtime in the Rockies.

February, the year's shortest month in days, was such a long month this year because I was sick nearly the entire month.  It is rare for me to have colds.  This year, I was hit with a terrible sinus infection and acute bronchitis.  I don't even know when I've ever had bronchitis, but I had it this year. Thankfully, it did not go into pneumonia.  I think that is because I had the Prevnar 13 vaccine for pneumonia a few years ago.  I had also had a vaccine against pneumonia about twenty years ago.  This year, I was grateful to know I had taken precautions against getting pneumonia.  The case of acute bronchitis was scary enough.  In the end, I was given three different antibiotics, and had to have three breathing treatments before I finally began to kick what was making me so sick.

Days were lost.  I don't even know what I did with my time when I was sick.  I didn't feel like reading.  I didn't spend much time on the computer.  I had no appetite.  I drank a lot of tea and water.  I sat in my hubby's easy chair under an electric throw blanket and watched some episodes of The Crown while the cool mist vaporizer beside me helped me breathe.  Through it all, I had two loyal guys by my side:  Jim and Boston.  They certainly made me feel better just by being there.

Sharing a Footstool ~ Sharing a Life

Cozy evenings at home in front of the fireplace brought solace to me during the long winter days of late January and throughout February.  One night, as my hubby and I shared a footstool as we sat quietly beside each other reading, I snapped a photo that captured for me the comfort that comes from sharing a life with a dear companion.

Quite honestly, there were days towards mid-February when I wondered if I'd ever be well again.  We had planned a winter vacation to Southern Utah.  We thought we would go to St. George and perhaps even venture into Zion National Park.  Jim had a week off from work, reservations were made, and we began to plan our adventures.  Then, a day before we were to leave, we had to cancel our plans because I just wasn't well enough to travel.

Then, we thought that perhaps I'd be well enough to go to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs near Buena Vista, Colorado, for the few days leading up to Valentine's Day.  I thought soaking in the hot springs would be just what would make this old girl feel better.  We were able to book a wonderful room, and we were looking forward to a Valentine's Day dinner in the lodge.  A day before we to leave, after I had to go to the ER for my third breathing treatment, we cancelled yet another get-away trip.

I thought our plans for Valentine's Day were doomed, but thankfully, we were able to get last minute reservations for lunch at The Cliff House which is just a short twenty minute or so drive from our house.  The Cliff House was built in 1874 in a tourist area near Colorado Springs called Manitou Springs.  The historic hotel has in recent years become a sought after place for wedding receptions.  The restaurant has become a destination place for those seeking a special meal ever since one of the top chefs from the Broadmoor Hotel came over to be the executive chef.  We were very lucky to get the reservations for lunch on a day when they had been booked for months.

The sky was a beautiful blue, and the sun was shining on the first day I'd had anything to look forward to for weeks.  My spirits were lifted even more when the first thing I saw when I stepped out of the car upon our arrival at this historic hotel were tiny purple crocuses in bloom.  Suddenly, winter's gloom began to lift because I actually had visual confirmation that spring is indeed on its way.

Our Valentine's Day venture across town to enjoy lunch together was just what the doctor ordered.  The smiles and jolly laughter from my dear husband lightened my heart and filled it with gratitude.  I am so blessed to have this wonderful man by my side through sickness and health.

A shared life is a rich life.  We share our ups and our downs, but sharing those ups and downs is so much easier when they are shared with one whom makes one smile, laugh, and is solid and trustworthy.  Such is the man with whom I share my life.  I met him during the springtime of my life, and now as we enter the last season of life,  he remains the young man whose personality, character,  smile, and sparkly eyes first captured this girl's heart.


During those days of youth, my life wasn't just blessed by meeting my dear husband, it was also blessed by meeting some of the most amazing women I know:  my high school girlfriends.  In November, I had committed to hosting the next gathering which was to be held in February.  Then, I took that short lived journey into employment, so my plans to host a gathering had to change.  Thankfully, the girls agreed that meeting at a restaurant would be a good plan.  

Our group was smaller than usual, but girls from Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo all met together in a small community just north of Colorado Springs.  One of the girls recommended we meet at The Bistro on 2nd in Monument, Colorado.  We loved Rick, the owner, and his restaurant, and the food!  Rick gave us a private room and the very best of service.  He also joked with us and made our time together all the more fun.  If you are in the Monument area, stop by the Bistro on 2nd, you will love it.

As usual, we giggled, and laughed, and told stories from our days in high school.  Quite honestly, I can't imagine my life without this group of girls in it.  They are counted as some of my richest blessings.  In Ann VosKamp's book, The Broken Way, she writes of talking to her daughter about friends who "betray and break trust."  Our girlfriends group is not perfect, but of them, I can best describe their characteristics by quoting from VosKamp's  book.

Girls can rival each other, but real women revive each other,
girls can impale each other, but real women empower each other.
Girls can compare each other, but real women champion each other
 and we are all made to be
ground breakers and peace makers and freedom shakers.

I am so blessed to be a part of this group of real women.


We are two years into our seventies.   I have no idea how we got to be this age.  It seems like yesterday these high school girlfriends and I were studying Latin, and English, and algebra, dragging Main Street,  cheering at high school games, going to dances, and having sleepovers.  Now,  we are older, much older, and some of us have had serious heart operations, have been widowed, are nursing loved ones through cancer, and are sharing stories of how we are fighting back against other aspects of aging.  One of us no longer would even know the rest of us because she has Alzheimers and lives in a home in another state.  That doesn't mean we have forgotten her.  A few years ago, a few from the group went to visit her and took a gift of a warm sweater from the rest of us.  It is comforting to celebrate another year of life with girls I've known since long before any of us even thought we would get wrinkles.  When I look into their eyes and receive a smile from them, I know for certain that age is just a number.


Exactly two weeks after Valentine's Day, on the last day of February, I celebrated my birthday.  I was again reminded that I am grateful for each and every birthday I have.  Birthdays are good.  They are so much better than the alternative of not having them.  Daughter Amy and granddaughter Hannah came to celebrate on the weekend before the big day. They brought flowers, presents, and cheer.  Amy's birthday is five days after mine, so we celebrate together most years.  Jim had a beautiful cake made for both of us.

We went to dinner at a sushi place.  My choice.  Granddaughter Hannah said she really didn't like sushi or fish or sushi places.  My response: "That's too bad.  It's my birthday and your mom's and we like sushi, so you can stay home if you wish.
I will have Grandpa bring in McDonald's for you."  Her response:  "Well, maybe I'll try the sushi place."  She liked tempura, and even ate tempura shrimp.  

Amy remembered a story about Julie, my daughter and her sister, that happened many years ago when Julie was in Salt Lake City going to college.  It was New Year's Eve and Jim wanted to go to a fancy steak house.  Julie went with us even though she wasn't very happy about it because she had recently become a vegetarian.  She ordered an expensive steak.  Jim asked her when she stopped being a vegetarian.  She said, "Just now."  He laughed and said, "Now's a fine time to change your mind about meat.  The steak is more expensive than vegetables."  


February, my birthday month, has always been a special time of year for me.  In Colorado, we have a mixture of winter and spring, sometimes both seasons occur in one day.  Yesterday, on my actual birthday, Jim and spent a mostly quiet day together.  We had an early dinner/late lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.  I finished reading the novel I'd been reading.  As I progress into my seventies, I find my definition of celebrating a birthday changes.  An early dinner and quiet evening at home seem perfect.  

A high school friend wrote a phrase on my Facebook page on my birthday: tempus fugit.  That simple phrase meaning time flies is one I can't seem to get out of my mind.  February is gone, and now we are in March.  Winter is nearly over.  Where does the time go?

Today is Ash Wednesday.  In six weeks, in forty-six days, we will celebrate Easter.  We are entering a time of renewal.  Now that my deep spring cleaning has begun on my house, I hope to spend the days during the Lenten Season sweeping out the cobwebs in my heart and soul.  I told my son I have been suffering from political fatigue this past month.  I plan on changing my focus to that which brings me hope.  I hope to spend a bit more time reading the Bible and in prayer.  I am grateful for a season of renewal.  


a mixture,
a collection,
a mixed bag,
a rag bag.
A blog post
becomes a collection of thoughts and activities when one has been 
away from blogging for over a month.

Where to start?

I had a birthday while I've away from blogging.

Daughter Amy and granddaughter Hannah came to help me celebrate.
We also celebrated Amy's birthday which is usually five days after mine.
Every four years there are six days between our special days.
I was born on February 28.
I gave birth to Amy on March 5.

Amy and Hannah brightened my birthday by being with me to celebrate,
and Amy brightened the house by putting together this vibrant and colorful birthday bouquet
which I enjoyed for days.
My son-in-law had to touch the flowers to see if they were real.
Thanks again, Amy.

All the kids sent me a Mother's bracelet that came from Sheridan and Ryan's shop, Hip & Humble.
I just love it!

After Amy and Hannah left for home, Jim and I took advantage of the beautiful weather we were having by taking a walk under beautiful blue skies in the Garden of the Gods.

We had a lot of cake back at the house, so Jim's daughters, their husbands. and children came over to help me celebrate later in the evening.

The next day, Jim drove me to Denver for a doctor's appointment.
After the appointment, we drove out to tour Amy's place of employment, a data storage center.
Once we passed security, we had to go through this gate to get to the front door where Amy met us.

We were very impressed by the entire operation that happens at such a place.
It was all quite interesting.
Amy is the company's human resources generalist.
The girl actually gave in and let me take her picture.
Mom's have to brag on their kids once in a while.

March has been such a busy month.
It seemed I lived at National Jewish Health during March as I was having many tests done.
I won't bore you with details.  I just had a lot of GI testing for chronic problems.
I am doing well at the moment and feeling good.
That is the good news.


I've attended way too many funerals this past month.
One was for the mother of a friend.
One was a heartbreaking one of a young man whom had been a student when my husband was principal.   He was the victim of a senseless act of violence.

I also serve on the funeral committee at our church.
This last month, we've unfortunately been hit by quite a few deaths in our church.
Our committee puts on a reception for the family and other attendees after the funeral service.
This means that we usually work five or six hours putting it together and cleaning up afterwards.
The ladies on the committee have become very close,
and we have a lot of fun together behind the scenes.
At one funeral earlier this month, I was in charge of making the coffee.
The coffee maker malfunctioned.
Actually, the coffee machine was fine,
but the maker of the coffee (that would be me) put the wrong size carafe under the machine.
I had a huge mess on my hands.
Let's just say coffee was going everywhere, and it kept on flowing before I figured out what to do: forget about cleaning  up the mess and get another pot under the machine.
Then I cleaned up the mess.

We serve because we have served by others when we lost loved ones.
Now, we are giving back.
It is good to serve others during their times of bereavement.


Two weeks ago, I hosted for my high school girlfriend get together.
Thank heaven's EH co-hosts with me!
I get so scattered getting everything ready that I am useless.
EH comes in and helps me set things up, get the food served, and she even stays and helps clean up.
She keeps things together while I flit around losing my mind.

The time with the girls is a celebration of fun, friendship, and food.
This time we had fabulous Mexican food.
As is our tradition, we gathered to lift a Margarita toast to those dear friends that are now departed.
Then, we feasted on homemade tamales, green chili, enchilada casserole, and the most amazing flan cake.  There were veggies, and chips and dip, cheese cake, too.
Needless to say, we had quite a feast.

Before we ate, we took our group photo on my front porch.
I used the automatic self timer on my camera for the first time.
Note that I barely got to my spot in the group before the camera took the picture.  
I'm just glad I didn't knock over the tripod.

I love these girls!
We are all so blessed to have each other.
Our friendships become richer and more priceless with each passing year.


Jim and I took a road trip to see my mother last week.
I hadn't been over to see Mother since September.
Since she lives on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, I no longer make the trip in winter.
After checking the weather forecast, we determined the best day to make the trek.
On the day we left, snow started falling in the mountains.
I suggested a more southern route which my husband thought seemed too far out of the way.
In the end, he took my suggestion.
Terrible snow storms that included wind, blizzard like conditions, caused road closures on the route we usually take.
Thankfully, no snow fell on us, and we had very little traffic.

I'd not told mother we were coming until we left home because I didn't want to disappoint her in case weather prevented us from making the trip.
She seemed so happy and quite surprised to learn we were coming.

The morning after our arrival, I snapped this photo of Mother.
This photo captures so much about her.
She is enjoying her coffee and the newspaper as she does every morning.
The coffee cup says CSHS on it and has a image of her high school on it:
Colorado Springs High School.
Her green thumb is evidenced by the gorgeous orchids on her table.
I gave her those orchids last year for her birthday.
She'd never grown orchids before, but that didn't stop her from keeping them blooming a year later.
The painting on the wall is one she painted.
The smile shows she is engaged and engaging.

She tells me all the time that she isn't going to let anyone one do for her what she can do for herself.
She often tells me she gets up and cooks herself an egg and bacon every morning.
"I cook a real meal. I don't just pour cereal in a bowl.  I make a meal."
"If I stopped doing for myself I'd be done."

I asked if she needed to go shopping.
She did.
She needed make-up.
So, she got her spring coat on and off we went to the mall.

This woman, my amazing mother, will be 100 years old in May.

She has a new walker that allows her to get around better than when she uses a cane.
She stood up straight and tall and pushed that walker through the mall.
In my mind, I heard her short quickly paced high heel clad steps walking down the sidewalk in front our home when I was child as she came home
from Wednesday evening choir practice at the church in the next block.

Straight and and tall, all 4'10" of her tiny frame stepped out at a pace that amazed me as she pushed that walker.
Again, an image came to my mind.
I saw her pushing a baby buggy down the street towards the bus stop, clad in high heels, walking at a fast clip, she was going to town to do some shopping with my baby sister in the buggy,
and myself at her side.

This day, all those years later, we had lunch at the mall where she commented on hair styles and clothing styles.  She notices such things.  She's up on all the styles.  She doesn't like some of them.  I wonder if anyone even knows what style is these days.

Then we went to buy her makeup.
She said she needed one more thing while we were there.
She was out of Chanel No. 5 perfume and needed to get a new bottle.

Yes, that is my amazing mother.


Today is Good Friday.
It was warm this morning.
I went out dressed in a light sweater and slacks and flats with no stockings as I went to the store.
This evening when we went to dinner, I was dressed in winter pants,  a warm sweater, and boots.
I put on my long wool dress coat that I had not put on all winter to wear to Good Friday services.
It was snowing like crazy all through dinner.
We actually had thunder snow where it was thundering and snowing at the same time.

We missed Good Friday services because of the weather.
It just didn't make sense to go out for night services on a night like this.

On Wednesday, we were snowed in due to a blizzard.
Earlier today, before the snow hit, I went out to buy groceries.
I've leaned to get to the store early when snow is in forecast.
I'm not sure if my daughter and her family will make it down on Easter because of the forecasted storms, but I thought I'd better plan as if she were coming.

I picked up the last of the asparagus at the store.
I picked up one of the last six hams that were left in the store.
I got the last of the daffodils; there weren't even a dozen in the last few I grabbed.
They had plenty of eggs which I needed.
Thank heavens, they also had plenty of jelly beans.
I love jelly beans.
The store manager told me that he'd not gotten shipments in for the end of the week
due to storm early in the week.

As I left the store, the parking lot was filling up fast.
I was glad I made it there relatively early.

I don't think we will have an Easter egg hunt on Sunday.
It would be hard to find eggs in all this snow.

Happy Easter!


Happy Birthday to My Husband

 Memories of those days long ago 
have become a bit blurred around the edges.


the focal point of my life when I was sixteen,
and you were seventeen,


 all that my young girl's imagination
 desired in a young man
 to whom she could give her heart.

We were young,
but we had our dreams for the future.

You were so steady.
Always the good 
you were popular with your peers and your teachers.
the student athlete,
thrilled my heart,
as I, sitting on the grass at Runyon field,
watched you play first base with such confidence and skill.

You, King of the Sock Hop,
a senior,
big man on campus,
brought me,
a sophomore girl, with absolutely no self-confidence,
to that dance where you reigned as king.

You were genuine.
A real gem.
I wasn't the only one who realized what a great guy you were.
All the other girls in the school voted you as king of the sock hop.

Those long ago days left me with such sweet memories:
drives in your car dragging Main,
City Park, where we would ride the merry-go-round,
picnics in Beulah, 
and your graduation from high school.

You told me the night you graduated what you would do with your life.
You said you would teach when you finished college.
You said you wanted me to marry you when we were done with college.
I was only sixteen.
You were seventeen.
I knew you would accomplish all you said you would accomplish.
You did.

You worked hard to pay your own way through college.
You taught German and English.
You became a high school counselor.
You became a high school principal.
You even married me.
That took a bit longer.
I never had the good sense to marry you until thirty years after that first proposal.

I carry many images of you in my head.
Yours is my favorite face to photograph.

In this one,
you are in your element.*

that intangible aura of leadership,
is captured so well in this, 
one of my favorite photos of you.
This photo captured so much of you.

Your sparkly brown eyes framed by scholarly looking frames on your glasses,
are focused on the student to whom you are so intently listening.
That's you.
You are engaged and engaging.
The smile on your face reflects
your kind, fatherly heart,
and your sense of humor,
and of how much you love being with young people.

You are dressed in your black jacket South High School that you wore to all those football games.
The Colt emblem,
strategically placed over your heart,
speaks of your love for and devotion to the school where you served as principal.

You, the son of refugees, had donned this warm jacket for the ferry ride over the cold choppy waters to Ellis Island.
This place, a gateway for so many of the ancestors of your students,
was not the gateway for your family.
Your parents were refugees from Germany.
They escaped the Holocaust.

They had such dreams for you,
the son born on American soil,
the son born after your dear parents had taken such an arduous journey from Nazi Germany.

Your father wanted you to be a teacher,
"It is a noble profession," 
he said as he advised you during one of those treasured talks you would have with him on the front porch of your home during your youth.

He died during your first year of teaching.
He did not live to see you flourish in that noble profession.

I am the one able to see you come full circle from those days of 
to this one moment in time 
in your element,
fully engaged with the student toward whom
your head is slightly bent
give credence to the school motto which has become your legacy:
Do Right.
Be Kind.


Tomorrow is your birthday.
When I look at your kind and loving face,
I know how blessed I am to have you in my life.
You, my dear husband,
have kept those traits that I recognized so many years ago.
Your faithfulness towards me is never in question.
Your love for me and your family has remained strong and supportive through so many storms of life.
You continue to make me smile and laugh at your great sense of humor.
You are so down to earth and loving.
You send me cute, loving little notes and emojis from you latest gadget, your Apple watch throughout the day.
You make me smile.
You bring joy to my heart.

So here we are in seventies.
How did we get here?

You never seem to age.
You continue to work at your new career at the Apple Store.
You come home from work full of enthusiasm and energy.
You are not one to retire.
When you are home, your favorite thing to do is to walk our dear Boston.
You love your boy.

Our lives are rich in love and companionship.

Your life has been a gift to me.
All those characteristics and traits that I hoped for in the man I hoped to marry someday when I was just a young girl
truly are embodied in you, 
my dear and cherished husband.

I love you beyond measure.

Happy birthday.

Credits: * I did not take the photograph of you on the ferry to Ellis Island.  It was captured by the mother of a student, the gifted writer and photographer Cathy Ames-Farmer.  

The Gift of Friendship

Birthdays and gifts go hand in hand.  I've been questioning how one should celebrate the birthday of one no longer with us as my daughter Julie's birthday has approached.  Julie had a gift when it came to making friends.  After her death, one of the most wonderful gifts that she left me was the gift of friendship with her many friends.  Tomorrow, April 8,  Julie would have been 39 years old.  Today, I will celebrate the gift of friendship that was found in one very close to her:  Scott.

When Jim and I were in Florida in February, I received a text from  Julie's high school boyfriend Scott Roberts asking if we would be able to connect while we were in the area since he lived an hour or so away.  I was thrilled when he contacted me, and we made a visit with Scott one of our highest priorities.

The Story of Two April Babies Born in 1976:

Scott and Julie

My daughter Julie met Scott not long after she moved to Pueblo Colorado, when I married Julie's step-father Jim.  I always admired the way Julie jumped right into the challenge of moving to a new town when she was in high school.  I know this was no easy task.  It wasn't long before she made a bevy of wonderful friends.  Scott was one of them.  After Julie's death Scott sent me note he had written to Julie on nineteenth anniversary of the first day they met.  He wrote: you were so cute, so happy, so full of life.  I loved you instantly...  This will be the first year I don't get to call you and tell you how long we've known each other.  We always made jokes on how we could have tolerated each other so long... There was always something special about you, I couldn't tell you the day I met anyone else...that's how much you've always stood out.  

The relationship between these two lasted as long as Julie lived.  They had some pretty rocky teenage times when much to my dismay they would have their spats.  I would hear the telephone ring all hours of the night when Scott would call Julie.  (Probably because she called him first.)  More than once, I heard the little tiny pebbles hit Julie's bedroom window.  I knew Scott was trying to get her attention either late at night or early in the morning when he was delivering his newspapers.  I would go to the bedroom next to Julie's, open the window and holler down to the young man standing below her second story window, "Go home Scott.  Julie is sleeping.  Leave her alone."  We laugh about it now.  

Scott and Julie attend their junior prom together.  They continued to date off and on during their freshman year in college. Scott was born three days before Julie on April 5, so every year, even the year Julie died in 2010, they always made sure they talked to each other on their birthdays.

When Julie and Scott were in their first year of college, they took a road trip to Utah with my son Jon to visit Julie and Jon's father, sister, and brother in Utah.  I think it must have been over Spring Break.
I recently ran across photos taken just before that trip.  Scott reminded me that he lost his job because he went on that trip with Julie.  I guess he'd just been hired on a new job at the newspaper, but decided to take a vacation anyway.  When he got back, he didn't have a job.

They all look so young and cute in these photos.  I think Julie must have the face to her tape recorder in her hand in the photo on the right.  I think she has a police detector radar device in her hand in the center photo.  I guess they must have had dinner at our home just before they departed for the trip.  I'm thankful for these fun memories.  I wonder if they were celebrating their 19th birthdays with this trip.  The trip was taken twenty years ago in 1995.  It seems impossible that many years have passes since these kids were teenagers.

I used to tease Scott whenever I saw him over the years by asking, "When are you finally going to marry my daughter?"  All those years ago, when these two teenagers were making each other and their parents crazy, I recognized the positive character traits of loyalty, faithfulness to friends and family, hard work, and belief in his religion in Scott.  I saw a young man I would have felt proud to have as a family member.  Scott has remained a dear "adopted" part of our family.

Upon hearing of Julie's death in May of 2010, Scott flew to Colorado from Florida to be with us and all of her dear friends for her funeral.  His presence meant so much to us.  Later that same year, he came to visit us and spent some time with Jim and me on our back deck.  I always remember him asking me as we walked through the house towards the deck, "Is the trampoline still there?"  Of course it was.  He said he hoped to see the trampoline where he and Julie had had so much fun when they were younger.  He sent a beautiful letter to be read at her memorial service that was held a year after her death when we buried her cremated remains at the cemetery.

The way Scott has honored Julie's memory has always touched me more than he will ever know.  This past summer Scott made a very quick trip to Colorado from Florida for his 20th class reunion.  It also would have also been Julie's 20th class reunion.  He was in Colorado for fewer than 24 hours, yet he made sure he found out where Julie was buried so he could visit her grave and leave some flowers.  After he visited her burial site, before he headed forty miles south for the reunion, he sent me a message saying her stone was beautiful.  His thoughtfulness brought tears to my eyes.  I know Julie would have been greatly touched by his gesture of remembrance.  How many of us have a friend like Scott?  I've said it many times that Julie had a gift for making great friends.  Scott was one them.

Our Visit

We had arranged to meet Scott and his wife and daughter early in the afternoon on Valentine's Day for a late lunch on Daytona Beach.  This was not a day to spend a lot of time on the beach because the weather was quite cool.  Blistery winds whipped the waves of the ocean as Scott, Jim, I caught up on our lives.  Scott had brought his beautiful wife and daughter with him.  His two year old daughter, full of personality and spunk wanted to be outside running on the beach while we stayed inside the great spot Scott had picked for lunch, Racing's North Turn Beach Bar and Grille.


While Scott was attending the University of Colorado working on his engineering degree, he took up skydiving.  He has been involved in competitive canopy piloting since 2002.  His passion for skydiving has led him to create his company called Fluid Wings.  (Click to read about his company.)  He makes parachutes for a living.  He also does contract work in engineering.

Scott and I recounted what a crazy small world this is as we talked about my blogging friend and fellow Vashonista, Djan Stewart of DJan-ity and Eye on the Edge.  Scott had seen Djan's name on one of my blog posts.  Scott knew that there is only one Djan.  And of course he is right.

Djan was the person that certified Scott as a sky jumper while he was still a student at CU in Boulder, Colorado.  Isn't that just crazy?  He spoke of how much he learned about skydiving from Djan.  Then, he told me about Djan's husband, "Smart Guy."  He had great admiration for both of these people whom influence him so much in his younger years.  He said, "I learned to skydive from Djan, but I'm still alive because of "Smart Guy."  I asked why, and he told me that Djan's husband taught him about being wise and not so crazy as a youth.  He taught him not to take stupid risks.  He made him think.

Scott then told me that Djan had met Julie, "She just doesn't remember it." He said Julie was dating a friend of Scott's when Scott was skydiving and they went skydiving together and Djan was there when they all took their jumps.  That really warmed my heart to see the connection that I made with Djan after Julie died.  Djan, Scott's mentor, helped me in so many ways to cope with Julie's death through blogging.  Yes, it is a very small world.

Our time together was too short, but I left the lunch we had together feeling so blessed.  I loved talking to Scott again and was so pleased to observe what a wonderful human being he remains.  I was especially blessed to get to know his wife.  She was delightful and so very interesting.  I also was thrilled to finally meet Scott's daughter.  Words can't describe this child's bright, lively, and intelligent personality.  I think she will keep Scott on her toes when she becomes a teenager.
Scott and Family
Daytona Beach

My life has truly been blessed by knowing and spending time with Julie's friends.  She truly had a gift for making friends.  She made good life long friends.  Her friends are among my great gifts now.

This year, as I celebrate the birth of Julie, I am also celebrating that other April baby born just days before Julie was born: Scott Roberts. Memories of Julie's teen years and beyond will always be intertwined with memories of Scott.  Scott, you will never know how much it has meant to me that you made a great sacrifice to be with us when Julie died.  You will never know how much it meant to me that you made sure you left flowers for Julie on her gravesite when you came back for your class reunion. You two were friends with a friendship that spanned the years.  Now, it is my great joy to see you happily married, the father of a beautiful daughter, and involved in a career that represents your passion.  Julie would be so happy for you.  I am so very proud to count you among the gifts that Julie's life bestowed upon me.

Scott & Sally
Daytona Beach

On Seventy ~ Reflections on Becoming a Septuagenarian

Last year about this time, a dear friend and I met to write.  We spoke of our upcoming seventieth birthdays.  We thought we should take the year to reflect on the milestone event that would soon be upon us.  What lessons would we learn as we approached the eighth decade of our lives?  What, if anything, could we learn about life before we became septuagenarians?

Having read many of May Sarton's journals over the years, I went in search of her book At Seventy: A Journal.  I knew I had read it before, but found I had gotten rid of it when we moved.  So, off to the library I went to find it for a re-reading.  Interestingly, I found little insight in this particular journal.  She did determine that during her seventieth year, she would journal for one entire year.  I thought I might try to do better than that.  I toyed with the idea of writing fifteen minutes a day for one year.  

We are now twenty-one days since my seventieth birthday.  Needless to say, I have not written everyday.  I have however had some reflections on reaching this milestone in life.

In At Seventy: A Journal,Sarton wrote, 
How is seventy different from sixty-five?  I don't see much difference, except that time accelerates.  The days go past with frightening rapidity, and so do the years.  It is plain that I am not ready for old age!  But then time does not stand still for old age I fear.  On the contrary, from all reports, it simply flies away, and that is what I am beginning to notice.  

Did her words ring true?
Is seventy different than sixty-five?
I thought I might take a look back.
What was my sixtieth birthday like?
Wow, talk about time accelerating.
My grandchildren were not teenagers when I was sixty.
Time simply flies away...
Mason was six and Hannah and Atticus were two.
I could hold the two younger ones in my arms.  Now they are all taller than I am.
I ventured up on the trampoline the day I turned sixty, just to see if I could still jump.
I could.
It is plain that I am not ready for old age! 
60th birthday
I was excited to turn sixty-five.
Having officially retired at age sixty-one, I was still working until sixty-five for insurance benefits.
At sixty-five, my medicare coverage kicked in and I was thrilled.
I felt good.
I was healthy.
True retirement was something I was looking forward to with great anticipation.
I had much I wanted to accomplish.
On the day of my sixty-fifth birthday, my high school girl friends gathered at my home.
It was a planned gathering that happened to occur on my birthday.
Here are some photos from that day.

The group photo, my photo at age sixty-five, and a few of the girls.

One cannot reflect upon reaching the eighth decade of life without remembering that dear ones have been lost along the way.
On that day of my sixty-fifth birthday, we could not know that
before the year was out, my girlfriends and I would lose Judy, our dearly loved classmate.
She had been fighting cancer, but she was well and looked so good that day.
In the photos above, she is sitting in the place of honor, the gold chair. 
Sadly, she did not reach the milestone the rest of reach this year of becoming

I also lost my dear daughter during my sixty-fith year.
She died three months after my birthday.
For half a decade, I have learned the meaning of bereavement.

At seventy, I am much different than I was at sixty-five. 

Mark Twain shared his wisdom at seventy:

I have achieved my seventy years in the usual way, by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else....I will offer here, as a sound maxim, this: That we can't reach old age by another man's road.
Mark Twain

My life was pretty simple in many ways until I hit sixty-five.
It was filled with some sorrow and disappointments, but mostly, I was quite pleased with the path my life had taken.
My children were grown and it seemed they had launched successfully.
I had just retired from a profession for which I still held great passion.
I thought I would continue to teach some, write some, travel some, and garden a lot.
Grief took away many of those plans.
In the past five years, I think I have come to think more deeply about what is most important in my life.
Also, I refuse to believe that just because I am seventy, I am old.

I prefer the following quote over Mark Twain's.

The first forty years of our life give the text, the next thirty furnish the commentary upon it, which enables us rightly to understand the true meaning and connection of the text with its moral and its beauties. 

The commentary on my first forty years won't be recorded here. 
(Let out a sigh of relief for that!)

At forty, would I ever believe I would be where I am today?
No, never in my wildest dreams would I have known what was in my future.
That is a good thing.
Along with the loss that I have suffered, I've know great joy.
I have been richly blessed.

As I reach seventy, I've learned I have treasures I always longed for when I was younger.

Today, I will touch on several treasures that only get better with age.

The Treasure of Friendship

There is great beauty in sharing the lives of those I knew before I knew much about life.
I made wonderful friends when I was a young, very naive teenager.
Now, the great gift of life is that I get to enter the eighth decade of my life with these dear women.
They gathered at my home last weekend.

Every time we get together, we hug on each other like long lost friends.
We laugh.
We share our stories.
We poke fun.
We encourage.
We know what we have is precious and rare.
We celebrate each other and the group.

This time we had several with us whom either have never joined us before, or live far away.
We have 50 years to catch up on with these few.
Kathy and Elaine, seen over the ham I cooked,
came early to sweep my doorway, 
set up tables,
keep me calm and focused,
and show me they are there to remember what I forgot.
We held a planning meeting so we could plan our big
Seventieth Birthday Party
that will be held in September.
We will go to Glenwood Springs, Colorado for three days of celebration.
I call our trip that we are planning 
Our Senior Trip.
The ladies heard of room rates, things to do, and dinner plans as we held our
Senior Meeting
in my living room.
Did I hear someone is bringing a case of white wine?
Someone else is bringing a case of red wine?
Watch out.
The true golden girls are getting ready to celebrate.

The Treasure of a Loving Husband

When my milestone birthday was drawing near, I knew I wanted to celebrate it in a special way.
I didn't want a party.
Who wants to clean the house?
My birthday falls on February 28, so it is not a good time for the children to come from out of state.
They have jobs and kids that keep them busy in February.
The weather is unpredictable.
Instead of a party, we decided we would go to Florida to celebrate my birthday.

I've known my husband as long as I've known the girlfriends whom I just wrote about.
Just like the laughter and the memories that I share with them, I share such wonderful memories of days gone by with my husband.
He has been that one that has always been there for me.
Even when I was a young woman, I knew the young man I first dated fifty-four years ago this week would make me laugh.
I knew he would always show me respect.
I knew he was one I could easily honor and respect.
I knew he would be a gentle, kind, understanding companion.
I knew he would give me a good life.
I just didn't marry this dear man until I was forty-seven years old.
Sometimes, youth makes one stupid.
Sometimes we get wiser with age.
At least, this man, the one I love, and I got together in the end.

Never would I have believed back in those days that at 70 Jim would be at my side.
Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that.
Thankfully, he is here with me.
At sixty-five, when my life turned upside down, he was there.

At seventy, we acted like a couple of kids at Disney's Magic Kingdom.
We walked around wide eyed and forgot that our bodies were aging.
We laughed ourselves silly on rides that we maybe shouldn't have ridden.
Thankfully, neither of us had a heart attack.
Jim took a selfie of us just before we went for one of those crazy rides.

On Valentine's Day, two weeks before I turned seventy, my love and I walked on Daytona Beach. 
Now here's something to celebrate:
We both are septuagenarians,
but we still love to have those romantic moments on the beach.

We met as teenagers, and we get to enter the last years of our lives together.
Life doesn't get any better than this.
A Valentine's Day Kiss
I'm learning this at seventy:

The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.
Irish Saying

Amy ~ Beloved

my third child,
second daughter,
born right smack in the middle of my five children,
and forever will be,

Amy's name means
dearly loved.
The name is derived from the Latin amatus which means loved.

Amy was born five days after my twenty-ninth birthday.  She arrived via a frank breech birth three weeks after her expected birthdate which was February 14.  She recently said that I must not have enjoyed that twenty-ninth birthday much since I was long past my expected due date when her birth finally took place.  I don't remember not enjoying that birthday.  I only remember the joy I felt with the gift I was given five days later:  a beautiful baby girl.  That is why I chose the name for her that I did.

Amy, the one in the middle, had a hard role to play as a child. Born five and half years after her older brother, and four years after her older sister Keicha, she spent much of her younger years striving to be a part of the established sibling relationship between her two older siblings.  

She was the oldest of the three youngest.  There is less than a five year span between the three younger siblings.  Much of the time, Amy did not want to be in this group.  She wanted to be in the older group.  Since Amy, Julie and Jonathan were born in that span of a bit less than five years, Amy didn't get to be the baby very long.  She was the middle child from her earliest days.  

This dynamic in the birth order helped to create the woman that is Amy.  

She is a people person.
People love her.
That thousand watt smile of her's lights up every room she enters.

She is able to bring people together.
As I went through family photos, I was surprised to find how few photos I have of just Amy.
That is because she is always in the midst of her siblings, her cousins, her children.
(Well that, and she won't let me take her picture.)

Amy is easy to love.
She laughs easily.

I love this photo I snapped years ago when her daughter Hannah was just a baby because it captures Amy's love of whimsy, her easy laugh, and her joy at being a mom.

She cries just as easily as she laughs when things touch her heart.
Her heart is easily touched.
She can be tough,
but she also has the tenderest of hearts.

I'll be honest, it is not easy for me to write about Amy.
Too many people have called her my mini me.
She isn't really like me in many, many ways, but people say we look alike.  (I don't see it.)

Amy in the coat I wore when she was a baby.
Believe me, I never looked this good!
We have the same mannerisms, and she hates it.  
We sometimes see mirror images of ourselves in the other in the way we speak our body language.
That drives her crazy!
It makes me laugh with joy.
It is never a good thing to remind people of your mom.
That is a hard burden to put on any woman.

It is hard for me to write about Amy because of the deep bond we share.
We've had our share of very difficult mother/daughter conflicts.
Amy knows her own mind.
I know my own mind.
Amy is strong willed.
I am strong willed.
That combination made the teenage years difficult.

Just as I knew she would,
Amy successfully launched herself by supporting herself since she was just a teenager.
She married her high school sweetheart in her early twenties.
Together, they launched a successful restaurant.
Amy worked hard during those years waiting tables, keeping the books, and lending great insight into creating a restaurant that was was a success.
I hope Amy never forgets the key role she paid in the successes this couple had together before their marriage ended a few years ago.

Amy is a private person.
I respect that in her so much.
She is not one to display her trials and griefs for others to see.

There was a time, it doesn't really seem like that long ago, when our birthdays,
Amy and mine, were celebrated with Julie in our midst.

Celebrating our birthdays
Denver, Colorado
Amy and Julie were as close as any two sisters could be.

I can't imagine the heartache that Amy has suffered since Julie has been gone.
As I write a tribute to Amy on her birthday, I want to leave out the part that speaks of pain and loss.
I want us to all go to dinner again and celebrate our birthdays.

A tribute to Amy would be missing a key element if I did not acknowledge what a 
she was to Julie.
She took care of Julie during her hard times more than I will ever know.
Thank you Amy for being there for Julie.
I know she was there for you too.
Together, you two made an awesome sister team.

In many ways, Amy was born to be a mom.
She loves Mason her sixteen year old son as deeply as any mom can love a son.
She has supported him in all of his endeavors and has been that mom cheering in stands for him since his earliest days when he began playing hockey.

Amy & Mason with Buster
Where did those early childhood days go?

It seems Hannah was learning to read with her mom's help just a few years ago.
Now, Hannah at age twelve is taller than her mother and into make-up and making sure her mascara is applied just right.
Amy now gets to experience the trials of being a mom to teenagers.
Warning to her children:
She knows about the teenage years.

Amy, now a single mom, works hard to provide for herself and her children.
I worry and pray as she drive to her job in downtown Denver over icy roads in winter.
I try not to bug her about checking in when she gets home so I won't worry.
She is a valued employee in the human resources department of the company for which she works.
She is again working on her running after an ACL injury.
She bought herself a bike and is biking when she can.
Amy is an overcomer.
Her toughness comes through when it has to.


Amy, I hope you will always be my sounding board.
I know that isn't always fair to you to be in that position, but honestly, some the best advice I've ever gotten in my life, I gotten from you.
I guess many times I am also your sounding board.

As I wrote in your card this year,
You are much loved.

Together, we have been down roads we never wished we had to go down.
You have been by my side through much that life has thrown at me.
I've been at your side also.
I don't remember the sad and hard times when I think of you.
I remember that smile of yours.
I remember how it brightens my days and lightens my load.
I remember the gift that you have always been to me.

Did you know what your name is in the Urban Dictionary?
It means:
To take, hold, or steal your heart.
You did that on the day you were born.
You stole my heart.
The Urban Dictionary would say,
She pulled an amy on my heart.
My heart was amyied.

If you have the opportunity to meet my daughter,
watch out,
she will amy your heart
(Urban Dictionary phrase)

Amy, my beloved,
thank you for being my daughter.
My life is richly blessed because you are in it.
I love you dearly.
I hope you have a happy birthday.

Thinking of My Son on His Birthday

Blogging moms probably really annoy their children when they write blog posts about them,
today is my son Jonathan's birthday so he gets to be featured on a blog post.

This photo was taken by my son's wife a few years ago.
She perfectly captured a facet of my son's personality that has endeared him to so many.

Recently, I found a card that Jon and his sister Julie made for me for my birthday when they were teenagers.
The backstory:
The initials JAC were shared by Jon and Julie.
That is why one, non-gender specific person on the front of the card represents them both.
At the time the card was written, Sally Jessy Raphael's talk show was very popular.
They used to call me Sally Jessy.
The card was a bit of a satire aimed at those Sally Jessy might interview on her talk show.
Sometimes, when I blog, I fear my children still might think of me as Sally Jessy Raphael.

My fears are grounded in what Julie and Jon wrote inside the card:
Julie And Jonathan 
always hated when
Mrs. Wessely
did the talk-show circuit.

For that reason, I try to not bring too much attention to my children in my blogs,
is Jon's birthday,
so he gets some attention.

I can not even imagine how small and limited my life would be without Jon in it.
He has so many facets to his personality that he has enriched my life beyond anything I could have imagined before he was born.

His intelligence stuns me.
Just try having a debate with him.
He will keep you on your toes.
We've had many debates, all of them heated, mostly friendly, but always passionate about our own beliefs over the years.
The topic of religion is an ongoing debate topic we've had running for a very long time.

He is 
non-traditional and very traditional all in one
good at conversation,
a thinker,
a writer,
a poet,
an artist,
a reader,
a college professor,
hard worker,
passionate about his beliefs,
the pied piper,
a husband and father,
a good son,
a much loved brother,
and always interesting.

As many of you know, Jon has been walking through a great adventure that has unknown outcomes since September when he injured his right brachial plexus in an accident.
The brachial plexus is the area that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand.

On February 6, Jon is scheduled to have surgery to repair damage done by the injury.
The surgery will be take place in Pennsylvania and will be done by a surgeon specializing in injuries of this type.
Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers during this time.

In the meantime,

Happy birthday, son!
I miss you.
I love you.

To My Beautiful Daughter

Reflections:  To My Oldest Daughter on the Eve of Her Birthday
Sunday's Child
Full of Grace

Forty-five years ago tonight, on a cold and foggy Saturday night, your very pregnant mother and your father, tired from having served all day at his second job as an Army reservist, made our way with your brother Ryan to your aunt and uncle's new home located out in the country.  We were looking forward to eating homemade chili, playing cards, and visiting for the evening.  

Along the way, on a very dark country road, surrounded by fog so thick we could barely see feet ahead of us, your father realized we had a flat tire.  Somehow, while changing the tire, his head was cut.  Did the car slip and graze his forehead?  I no longer remember.  I only know that he was cut badly enough that we had to make our way back to town to the hospital.  Of course the medical staff thought I was the one needing assistance until they saw the bloody handkerchief on your father's forehead.  Young, and full of more energy that I now have, I think we went back to your uncle's to eat chili and play cards late into the night.

The next morning, a Sunday, your father left for Army reserve duty again, and I began to type the paper that your father had due the next day.  At noon, your father came home to check to see how things were coming along.  Never expecting to hear that I was making more progress towards giving birth than towards getting his paper typed, he thought perhaps I was just tired and should just lie down for a bit.  That was not the case.  My pains were two minutes apart.

You know the story.  I had gone to the hospital at 3:00 p.m.  I only had three hard labor pains before you were born on on that Sunday evening,  January 25, 1970, at 6:00 p.m. You arrived a day before your due date.  Your birth was a great predictor of some of your greatest character traits:  You were early, efficient, and easy to handle.  

From your earliest days, you were a girly girl.  You loved dresses with lots of fluffles.  You insisted on wearing dresses most of the time.  You've always had the most amazing wardrobe, and you wear everything well.  Actually, you do everything well.  You can cook and sew with the best of them.  You are creative in crafts and handwork and in photography and in home decorating and in gardening.  You are a voracious reader and a wonderful writer.  You are organized.  You can put on a party for several hundred without even blinking an eye.  I've never known where you got all of these amazing characteristics.  I know that you must have been seriously frustrated finding yourself being raised by a terribly disorganized mother.  You are your father's daughter when it comes to being organized.

As a child, you loved to read.  You also played office or bank because your father would bring home old bookkeeping ledgers from school where he taught business subjects for you kids to draw on.  No wonder you started working at the credit union where you are still employed when you were only seventeen.

Keicha & Me
Keicha in her little white cap and fluffy coat
with Grandma French
I love that you are a reader.  Some of my great memories have centered around talking about the books we both have read with you.  I remember when you were only in junior high when you came home with a book for me to read.  It was Katherine Marshal's To Live Again.  You had found it in the library and you thought it might help me go through the break-up of my marriage to your father.  It did help.  I'll never forget that you wanted me to read the book.  You wanted to give me hope.

You have been the one with whom I have most been able to share the depths of my grief over the loss of our dear Julie.  We all grieve in different ways and at different time, yet somehow, you and I seemed to be much in sync in our grief journey.  We seemed to be at much the same places at the same time.  I wish we never would have had to walk this path together, but my precious Keicha, I am so thankful that we have been able to be there for each other.

Keicha with the Easy Does It
The rose I bought her to plant in her garden in memory of Julie
You are a wonderful granddaughter, daughter, sister, mother, and friend.  You are strong and able to do what must be done even when it would easy to not step out in courage.  You serve your community in so many ways through the Junior League, the Boys and Girls Club, the Ogden City Schools Foundation, and in so many other ways.  I am extremely proud of you.  

Keicha modeling the coat I wore when she was a young child

Dressed to party
My beautiful girl dressed in red
I wish the brightest of days for you in the future.  I hope that this coming year will bring you many wonderful experiences with your daughter.  I hope that you will find loving and supportive companions for your journey through life.  I am grateful you are again able to walk, and run, and exercise without pain.  I am very excited to see what the coming year will bring your way.

I was greatly blessed the day you were born.  Happy Birthday.  I love you deeply.  XO

*I hope that you don't mind that I borrowed a few photos from your Facebook page.  You know I need to organize my photos.  ;)


My cellphone rang this evening.
The screen on my smart phone told me the call was from my grandson Mason.
"Hi Mason."
"Hi Grandma.  You know how you said your were sending me some money for my birthday."
"Yes," I replied.

It turns out there wasn't any money in his birthday card.
"Let me check my checkbook," I said.
Sure enough.
There was a check made out to Gillian for her birthday money, 
but I had forgotten to write out Mason's check.

Oh how embarrassing!

His mother, my daughter, thought it was hilarious that I forgot to even write the check.
I guess I am losing it.
At least, I remembered it was his birthday.
I have five birthdays to remember in the span of a month.
Three birthdays in September and two in October

The story of my two October grandbabies...

One day fifteen years and nine months ago,
my daughter Amy called me with the wonderful news that she was going to be a mother.
I was so excited for her and for me.
I was thrilled at the prospects of having another grandchild.
However, with this wonderful news,
there was also a bit of an uneasy feeling in my heart.

My other daughter Keicha was trying to have a baby, but thus far, her attempts had been unsuccessful.
Just a month or so before Amy's happy phone call announcing that she was expecting,
Keicha had called in tears and told me she was trying in vitro fertilization one more time.
"If this attempt is unsuccessful, I'm not going through this again," she tearfully said.
Now, a month or six weeks later, Amy was pregnant.
"How will we tell Keicha?" I asked.

Still mulling over how to break the news of Amy's pregnancy to Keicha,
I answered a phone call from Keicha a few days later.
"Mom, I'm pregnant." was her happy news.
Only one egg was fertilized, but at least one egg was viable.
I let out a sigh of relief.
I then called Amy and told her she could call her sister with her happy news.
We had double happy news!

It was a bit of a scary few months in the first months of Keicha's pregnancy.
She was highly at risk of not seeing the pregnancy through.
Soon, it looked as if we would have two babies in October of 1998.

On October 4, 1998, my dear Mason Lloyd Hopfenspirger was born.
I was present at his birth, and even was blessed to witness it.
I was the very first person to see that boy.
That was a very special moment in my life.
Immediately, after his birth, there was a problem.
We were told he might not live through the night.
The next day, thank God,  all was well, and he looked like the healthiest baby in the nursery.
36 hours later, on October 6, 1998, my dear Gillian Marie Chapman was born.

Six weeks later, Keicha made the trip to Colorado from Utah for Thanksgiving so the cousins could meet for the first time.
Late at night, Keicha, Gillian, and Gillian's dad arrived.  I snapped a picture of the two girls showing off their new babies to each other.
I always laugh because each one only has eyes for her own child.

For the next photo, I had them both face the camera.

As you can see, I was one happy grandma with my arms full of two adorable grandbabies.

Over the years, these two cousins have had many photos taken together.
Aren't they cute?

Age five...

Mason hasn't always liked the attention and love that Gillian has shown him.
"It's embarrassing.  I don't want a picture!"

Gillian, Mason, Julie & Jason

There have been lots of fun times at Grandma Sally's jumping on the trampoline,

and dyeing Easter eggs.

This happens even now that they are teenagers and almost too cool to dye eggs.

Easter 2013

Easter candy tastes good at any age.

Hannah, Mason & Gillian
After the Easter egg hunt at Grandma's

They've gone from this
to this.

The table is getting a bit small.

This Easter, Mason showed Gillian some of his cooking talents.

All of my babies are growing up.
Gillian and Mason are standing side by side in this photo of all seven of my grandchildren.

Bridger, Parker, Regan, Jim holding Atticus, Sally holding Hannah, Gillian, Mason
It is time we had a new family portrait!

I know one thing these kids still love to do.
They love to go to the penny arcade in Manitou.
This past April, we made our trip to the arcade for fun times.

Gillian vamped it up in my sunglasses as Bat Woman.

Mason became the #1 Ice Cream Man.

They have outgrown the kiddie rides.
They are growing up way too fast.
Where has the time gone?

This year, I somehow managed to get both birthday cards in the mail for these two grandchildren who are so close in age, but I forgot to write out the check for Mason.  
I guess their old grandma is showing her age.

They are in ninth grade now.
The years have flown by so fast.
I hope they both always remember how much I love them and what a blessing they, and all of my grandchildren, have been to me.

Tonight, when I spoke to Mason, I asked, 
"When are you going to go get your driver's permit?"
His answer was a true sign of the times.
"As soon as the government is open again."

Come on congress.  I have two grandkids that you are impacting.
They want to get their driving permits.
They are now in ninth grade, the year that American civics is studied.
They aren't getting a very good lesson from you guys in congress.

I digress...
this post isn't a political commentary.
It is a a lesson in family history.

I will put a check in the mail tomorrow for Mason.
I hope he doesn't think that adults just can't be trusted these days.
I told him to look for a check from me in his card since I didn't make up to his house
 to celebrate his big day.
Oops, I forgot to put the check in the mail.
Please forgive me.
Gillian got her present.
Your's is on the way.

Gillian Marie & Mason Lloyd,
happy, happy birthday.
I love you.
Grandma Sally