Seasons In Life

As we grow older and hopefully wiser, we realize that over the course of our lives a diverse group of people have come and gone.  Some staying briefly, others for a season and on that rare occasion we’ve met someone who has stuck with us for a large part of our lives.

Ahh, the Memories

Recently while thinking about simple times, memories of my childhood came to mind.  My friends who made junior high fun, crazy and sometimes naughty, like kissing boys under the bleachers (yes, I did that a time or two…who didn’t?)

My youth was spent in the 1970’s and for the most part I cannot recall a dull moment (okay, well maybe when I had to babysit my younger sisters.) mendy-circa-late-70s If I wasn’t cheering for our recreation club’s football team (my mom sewed my cheerleading outfit as most did back then) my friends Sheri, Karla, Kim, and Amber and I were deciding whose house we’d be sleeping at on Friday night. We would spend those nights talking about boys (as they were never far from our minds), listen to the radio and have pillow fights.  We all attended Sligh Junior High in Tampa, Florida which at the time was a 7th grade center designed for cultural integration in the community; it is now called Sligh Middle School (named after the street it faces) and is home to middle school kids in grades 5th – 7th.

In the late 70s, we would play 4-square in the school’s courtyard after lunch and talk about boys (again..we were 7th grade girls) and on rare occasion other topics which ran the gamut. We wore the hairstyles of the day, one side straight down and the other clipped back tight against the head (a bit of a bizarre style if you ask me) or a long and feathered look, such as in my picture. School offered home economics class, shop and typing, I took all three not remembering what I made in either home eco or shop, but I do recall standing at an ironing board (who knew back then we’d have was and wear clothing in the 21st century?) We wore dresses that were at or below our knees, pantyhose and black baby doll (flat) shoes. We had “patrols” (with the orange patrol belt) who patrolled the halls making sure we didn’t run and kept order on buses during the rides to/from school. Oh yeah, an on the rare occasion we would go to the mall…there would always be a line at the photo booth, you know…where you would go in, sit down, draw the curtain and start making goofy faces, then step out and wait a minute or two for your four shots to magically appear!  The picture above is a photo booth sitting.

I remember quite well my time in junior high and physical education class, pfft! (rolling eyes!)  Oh how I hated P.E.!  I still believe the only form of exercise our Phy. Ed. teachers knew were laps; everyday without fail and as soon as we hit the basketball courts (after dressing out) we ran laps.  I ran around that basketball court so many times one year I could tell you the location of every divot, crack and dip. I was determined not to have P.E. the following year so I got a part-time job at McDonald’s on Busch Blvd across the street from Busch Gardens and signed up for the school’s early work release program which allowed student to work in the afternoons on school days, usually reporting to work around noon. When a student was on early release P.E., home economics or shop were the classes of choice to drop from our class schedule; all the kids in this program thought it was the best thing in life, especially if we had the day off from work we still left school early.

GrandbabiesAlthough Karla, Sheri, Kim, and Amber are not part of my life on a daily basis, a few of us still keep in touch via social media and texting. We are spread across the U.S. with Sheri in New Mexico, I am in Northern Kentucky and Karla, Kim and Amber are all in Florida. It’s hard to believe some of us are grannies and these are my four precious ones.

Ahh, the memories are a nice escape from the hectic life most of us lead in adulthood. Just writing this article has conjured up some really great visions of years gone too soon. Wow its so hard to grasp that I turned 50 in February of this year, W-O-W…where has the time gone?

As I grow older by the day I’ve found that its the simple things in life that make L-I-F-E an adventure. As a Nona (grandmother/grandma in Italian), I love that I can love on my grandchildren and when they get cranky… I hand them back to mom and dad. I love that I don’t have to put up with other people’s drama and there’s no law telling me I have to keep them in my life. I love that because of where I’ve been…I know where I’m going and planning my future has never been so much fun. I love that my “lifetime” friends love me for who I am and accept me completely, without question, ridicule or judgement.  They just love me! And lastly, I love walking down MEMORY LANE and bringing all those great memories into the present. Thank you for letting me share a smidge of my past with you.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 25 ~ Christmas Around the World, Part V

Christmas in the Middle East

Although much of the Middle East is devoted to Islam – or, in Israel, to Judaism – every year thousands of Christians from around the world make pilgrimages to the Holy Land, especially Bethlehem. They come to visit the place where, according to the Gospels, it all began. Not surprisingly, this is the time of the year when Bethlehem is most popular, although the scope of the celebrations often depend on the political climate at the time.

The festivities in the “little town” center on the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherds’ Fields. The Church of the Nativity is believed to stand on the place where Christ was born; under the church, within a small cave, a star on the floor marks the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus. The Shepherds’ Fields is said to represent the fields where the angels announced the arrival of Christ.

There are three Christian groups in Bethlehem. The Roman Catholics celebrate Christmas on December 25, the Greek Orthodox on January 6, and the Armenian Christians on January 18. Representatives protecting the interests of these three groups sit on a board that governs the Church of the Nativity, so that no group will be favored or slighted. No services are held within the church itself, but rather in an adjoining building. Services on Christmas Eve are by invitation only, but are televised to the crowds outside. Afterwards, most venture to the Shepherd’s’ Fields, which are also divided into three sections.

Christmas is also celebrated quite widely in Lebanon, with lights, carols, and midnight church services.  Papa Noel brings presents to children, and the meal often includes a cake that’s designed to resemble a Yule log.

Some of the more predominantly Muslim countries do have Christian sections, and in those sections Christmas is observed, although the observance is usually more strictly religious, as in Africa. Some countries, however, have Christian populations that have been celebrating Christmas for centuries.

In Armenia, it is believed that Christmas should be celebrated on the day of Christ’s baptism, which is January 6 in most church calendars. However, the Armenian Church follows the old Julian calendar, which marks this date as January 18. One week before Christmas there is a fast, during which no meat, eggs, cheese, or milk may be consumed. Religious services are held on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Afterward, children go onto the roofs with handkerchiefs and sing carols; often the handkerchiefs are later filled with fruit, grain or money.

Christmas in the Far East

In the Far East, Christianity exists alongside such other faiths or ideologies as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shintoism. While Christians celebrate the holidays for its traditional meanings, many of the other aspects, such as decorating and gift giving, have been adopted more widely.

China

China was only opened to the West 400 years ago, so – relatively speaking – Christians and Christmas have not been around for long. A very small portion of the Christian ChinaChristmaspopulation celebrates Christmas that’s referred to as Sheng Dan Jieh, or the Holy Birth Festival. Christmas trees are called “trees of light,” and paper lanterns are intermingled with holly for decorations. Stocking are hung, and there are versions of Santa known as Lam Khoong-Khoong (nice old father) and Dun Che Lao Ren (Christmas old man). Gift given has some formal rules: Jewelry and other more-valuable gifts are only given to the immediate family; other gifts are given to relatives and friends.

More important to the majority of Chinese is the New Year, referred to as the Spring Festival, which is celebrated in late January. New toys and clothes are given and feasts are held. The spiritual aspects concern ancestor worship, and portraits of ancestors are displayed on New Year’s Eve. This is not, strictly speaking, a Christmas celebration, but it is a festive and popular seasonal undertaking.

Christmas in Other Parts of the World

Canada

CanadaChristmas1Christmas is celebrated in many different ways in Canada, a result of the way that cultural and religious groups from many parts of the world have found a home there. Many Canadians of Ukrainian descent, for example, follow the Orthodox church’s calendar, and celebrated Christmas on January 6. In French-speaking areas such as the providence of Quebec, the Roman Catholic traditions of displaying creches, or Nativity scenes, as decorations remain very strong, as does attending midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, followed by a hearty meal that includes tourtiere (a meat pie) and present opening.

The annual Santa Claus Parade in downtown Toronto began in 1905 as a way to celebrate the arrival of Santa at the Eaton’s department store. The first parade featured Santa arriving at the train station and walking to the store. Today, the parade – with bands, clowns, and intricately decorated floats – features almost 2,000 participants and stretches for more than three miles.

Along with the widespread North American traditions of decorating the home inside CanadaChristmasand out with lights, visiting Santa at local stores and malls to offer him a wish list, and decorating Christmas trees with ornaments and lights, many Canadians Christmas traditions depend on geography.

In the north, for example, the winter season was often celebrated before the arrival of Christmas with feasts, games, dogsled races, and gift exchanges. Known as Quviasuvvik, or the Happy Time, many of these traditions have now been wrapped into the church services and charitable causes that are part of Canadian customs throughout the country.

In Vancouver, on Canada’s west coast, the Carol Ships are an annual traditional, as boats decorated with sparkling lights to take the harbor in a nightly parade throughout December.

Australia

AustraliaChristmas1As in South Africa, Christmas falls during summer vacation down under. Because of the climate, flowers are the most important Christmas decoration, particularly the Christmas Bush and the Christmas Bell. Father Christmas and Santa exist side by side – like siblings, which they certainly are. Gifts are exchanged on Christmas morning before attending church. Typically, the afternoon is spent at the beach or engaging in sports.

AustraliaChristmasAustralia is also the home of “Carols by Candlelight,” a tradition stated by radio announcer Norman Banks in 1937. After Banks saw a woman listening to carols alone by candlelight, he decided to do something to relieve the loneliness and isolation some feel during the holidays. He announced a community carol sing for anyone who wanted to join in. The concept has grown in popularity over the years, and the recorded program is now broadcast over the world.

 (Jeffrey, Yvonne; The Everything Family Christmas Book)

 Garland1-1

Regardless of where you live or how you celebrate the Birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. From our home to yours, we wish you the Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of New Year’s.

 

jomerry2

Thanksgiving 2014

Thankful

There is so much trouble in the world today; across the sea with other countries and across our nation with our neighbors.  I have many feelings and comments I could express regarding Vladimir Putin, the craziness going on with the Michael Brown incident, and Obama. However, I will keep my comments to my self as they are brutally honest, direct, and some could consider them hurtful.  Sometimes truth hurts.  Nonetheless, I AM THANKFUL!

I am thankful that I live in America!  Although we have a country who is in turmoil and profusely bleeding, I believe America will regain her beauty and can heal from the torture and illness that has been imposed upon her.

I am thankful for my family.  States span between us but the miles cannot diminish our love for one another.  We will always be aunts, cousins, uncles, nephews, grandparents, nieces, and in-laws.  WE ARE FAMILY and for that I am thankful.

I am thankful for my kids!  God has blessed me with children who are kind, considerate, loving, compassionate, goofy, fun, vibrant, different, and genuine.  Whatever they choose to call me, I am honored to be their momma, mom, madre, ma, and mother.

I am thankful for all the friends who have come (and some gone) into or from my life and our relationships. Each one of them has left an impression, given me inspiration to do more, or encouraged me on some level.  I am who I am because of my family and friends, past and present.

I am thankful for my health.  As I near the big 5-0 mark in life, what I consider to be the TOP of the hill, I realize how I could have been worse for the wear on so many levels.  I thank God for my health.

I am thankful to live in a country where we will not be persecuted for proclaiming our faith and that many faiths are practiced.

I am thankful God has awoken my desire to share stories and our life’s adventures.

And, lastly…I am thankful for my supporters.  Thank you!

For what are you THANKFUL?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Birthdays parted by 3-years & 2-days

It is the same every year; separated by 2-days.  The birthdays of my first and second children.

 September 29

As luck would have it I started having contractions during my first son’s third birthday party while I was sitting crossed legged on the floor watching/helping “D.A.K.” open his gifts.  I was a tad embarrassed when it took three men to hoist me off the floor as I was not adequately able to fully see myself through the standing up process on my own.

We did not rush to do anything other than continue celebrating DAK’s special day as we finished enjoying time with our guests, eating hamburgers, hot dogs, cake, and ice cream.

DAK 3rd Birthday

Celebrating his 3rd birthday, DAK was excitedly opening gifts.

The contractions sporadically continued as we finished the party, said goodnight to our friends and turned in for the evening.  I was able to get a bit of rest off and on during the night and into the next day.  Late into the night of Sept. 30 and early morning Oct. 1 the contractions begin to be more consistent and timely.

October 1

Around mid-morning on Monday, 10/1/84 we decided to call the doctor’s office when we were instructed to take our time, but start getting things ready and head to the hospital.  It was mid-day when we left DAK with the sitter and explained the next time we saw him he’d be a big brother.

Upon arriving at the hospital all was pretty standard, except in New York at the time, unless you were having a Caesarean (C-section), you were given nothing, nada, zip to help with the pain and discomfort…REALLY?  Since this was my second pregnancy I already knew what to expect and worked my way through the pain.  I however, felt terrible for the first time mom who was down the hall from my room, yet sounded as though she was in the room with me; as she was not dealing well with the “no meds” rule very well at all.  It wasn’t until 1988 when “Patient-controlled epidurals, which allow women in labor to adjust the timing and frequency of their anesthesia with the push of a button, come on the scene.”  (Source: http://www.birthologie.com/pregnancy/the-history-of-childbirth/)

Approximately 9:15 pm the nurses told me I was ready to deliver and would retrieve the doc from the doctor’s lounge.  As he entered the room the doctor said without batting an eye, that I was interrupting his Monday Night Football.  My response “too bad.”  Although he may have been joking…I certainly was not!

A few minutes later, at 9:29 pm, JMAK entered this world and expanded our family.

DAK & JAMK

DAK and his new brother, 1 month old JMAK

So today I wish my two oldest boys a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY.  DAK turns 33 today and on Wednesday, October 1st, JMAK will be 30.  My how time flies and before we know it, we’re grandparents.

Happy Birthday boys.  Yo momma loves ya.

Hello Autumn

Autumn is a season filled with change, days become shorter and although it is often warm and sunny during the daylight hours, evenings can get a bit chilly.  Corn is one of the major crops you will see swaying in the fields waiting to be harvested; and this is the season when animals prepare to hibernate by storing fat that will sustain them through the winter months.

Whether you refer to this time of the year as “Fall” or “Autumn” it conjures up the same visions of trees changing into beautiful shades of red, gold, yellow, brown, green, and orange and the fallen leaves will soon be covering your yard (or your neighbors).  On the way are cool and crisp nights, bonfires, camping, hot cocoa, pumpkins (and all the wonderfully fabulous drinks and dishes made with them), and fires in the fireplace.

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Not only is Autumn my favorite time of the year, but it is also the start of all the really neat festivals in my neck of the woods; and, October is usually the start of my Christmas shopping frenzy.  I begin thinking about my Thanksgiving menu and pulling the seasonal decorations out of the attic.  This is the time year when I reminisce about seasons from long ago and all the big family meals we would have together when we traveled near and far to spend the holidays together.

New Seasons, New Beginnings

This year I have a new man in my life to share the holidays, the laughter, and adventures…my fourth grandchild Baby “X.”  He is only seven weeks old and has already added so much joy to our home and family.  He is beginning to respond to the googly faces Nona does for him and the raspberry kisses lovingly shared.  I am blessed to have two of my three children and their family living near and life would be complete if my eldest and his family could be closer.

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As we ready for the cooler days and chilly nights, below are some Autumn fun facts and trivia for you to enjoy and share.

  • Maples, Oaks, Elms, Birch & Ash trees are just a few of the trees that give spectacular colors during the autumn season.
  • September, October, and November are the best months for “Fall planting.”
  • The pumpkin is a member of the gourd family.
  • The Autumn/Fall season runs from September 21st through November 21st.
  • Why is the season called “Fall”? What happens in the natural world during this season? The leaves on many trees die and fall to the ground. About five hundred (500) years ago, when Middle English was spoken, expressions like “fall of the leaf” and “fall of the year” were quite common, and the season name “Fall” comes from them.
  • Autumn marks the end of baseball season and the start of football.
  • In Greek mythology this was supposed to be the time when Persephone rejoined Hades in the underworld.
  • The Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival around this time of the year with particular emphasis on being thankful for the success of the summer harvest.
  • One of the visible signs of fall is the changing color of the leaves. This happens because photosynthesis stops during this period so leaves do not stay green.
  • Favorite fall fruit and vegetables include apples, spinach, squash, bell peppers and, of course, pumpkin.
  • The custom of bobbing for apples originates from Roman times.
  • Evergreen trees remain green through the winter because they have waxy leaves which do not freeze.
  • Autumn’s full mood is called, The Harvest Moon. Long ago farmers would take advantage of the Harvest Moon’s light to “harvest” their crops because in late summer and early autumn many crops would ripen all at once. This made farmers have to stay in the fields long after sundown to harvest them and the moonlight became essential to their harvest.

Below are links to some area festivals and other fun things to do in the Fall in major cities.

Cincinnati         Seattle               Tampa          Atlanta            Dallas

Birmingham      Nashville           Miami           Los Angeles    Cleveland

Charlotte           Indianapolis     Knoxville       Sioux Falls      Rapid City

Fargo                 Boise                Little Rock    Wichita            Denver

Portland            Billings             Philly              Charleston      Grand Rapids