10 December 2012

Don't Miss His Birthday Party!

Don't Miss His Birthday Party!

It's Advent.  At our home we await the birth of our savior.  We prepare our home and our hearts as we prepare for his birthday.

We respectfully acknowledge that this is also a time that those with non Christian beliefs have their special holiday celebrations.  It's an exciting time for so many and we all have so much to be thankful for.  Whatever your belief's, it's about life and about love and, well, these holidays are all about hope, right?

While we await His birth around here at our cottage, we decorate with all the traditional ribbons and garlands and holly and everything that brings a little more hope and light into each day.  What do you fill your home with during the holidays?

From our home to yours,  wherever you may be, let us share our Christmas cheer!

The first thing we do is go to Home Depot and buy our tree.  This fills the whole house with the heavenly scent of pine, which is scrumptious in and of itself when outside you mostly have palm trees.
I'm not complaining, just saying.

I used to have 10 little hands helping me to place the ornaments on the tree.  Now it's just me.  Lest you cry for my desertion, as natural as it may be, things change regardless of my crying and weeping.  My hubby is still here and he hangs hundreds of lights just for me, from the tree, to the mantel, from the bedrooms to the front porch and all over the outside of the house.  He even dangles off the roof to appease me; now that's some true lovin', right?

 This year I disassembled  (for the season) my collection of glass floats and hung them on the tree.  I love the way they add a seaside vibe to my tree and they reflect the light from my old fashioned, very old, lights!  Here's a pretty green float.  I also included, yellow, red and lots of shades of blue ones.

You didn't think I'd forget my Irish did you?  This is just one of my many ethnic heritage bulbs, that hang on my Christmas tree.  xoxox

 A peek at the yellow glass float.  They're clear so you can also see the rope behind them.
So darn purty!

 My grandson Nicholas is ready.  He can't wait to celebrate the birthday of Our King.  Do you think he can wait until 25th December?

This is our mantel.  A good example of just a few of the lights I coerced my hubby  my hubby so willingly strung for me.  My vision is his burden.  Because,  you see, I believe you can NEVER have too many lights :)

Years ago when our kids were just little, my good friend Terri and I got together at her house and made tree skirts.  It's one of my favorite all time Christmas memories capped with lots of laughter, cider and the warm love that good friendships bring.   Mine is made of felt and beads and colorful jewels for the wise men!  It's a real treasure, and I'm sure my kids will fight to the death over it when I die.   Hahahahahahahahah!  ("Hello, Salvation Army, can you come pick up all the photo albums and this old tree skirt?")  My children aren't very nostalgic (YET).  You may see this for yourselves if you scroll to the bottom of the blog link postet here, and see how my son (whose thoughts pretty much represent that of all his siblings) feels about my Christmas decor.  Christmas Doves.  Remember Cooper, Santa sees you when you're naughty!

A wee bit more Irish has made me nostalgic for #1 on my bucket list.  To spend Christmas in Ireland!  If my husband hears that one more time, he may not be so willing to string all those lights for me anymore but, I'm willing to risk it.

A little sand and sea brings me joy all times of the year.  Hasn't He done a great job of decorating for his birthday this year?

And lest you weary of my Christmas decor.  One last photo just for silliness sake.  This is what my pup thinks of all this merriment...  I think he's saying in his little doggy body language, "there she goes again!"

Ah well, he doesn't know that there's a big rawhide under the tree just for him yet.  Shhhh.


04 December 2012

What I Treasure

One of the things I like to do during Advent is to reflect on what is important to me.  My faith and my family always come first.  They are almost, one and the same.  I have so many blessings in my life that it's hard to count them all.  Don't get me wrong.  There is sadness too.  Past, present and future.  I am old, wise enough to know that life is not a bowl of cherries.  But as one of my favorite blog authors, Ashley, over at lilblueboo admonishes again and again, through her bout with cancer and unbelievable adversities, to "CHOOSE JOY".  My sister and I were just talking about it today and we decided when things just get too hard to handle we will Choose Joy.  I hope you will too!

Here are some of the things that make me happy.  It gives me joy to share them with you and I hope you'll share some of the things that make you happy with me too.

These two nuts make me pretty happy!

This is a photograph of me with my mom, my sister and my daughter's, before we said our goodbyes's for the last time.  We Chose to make it Joyful!  It was a celebration of life and family.

My husband is the best man God could have chosen for me from all the men in the whole wide world.  I don't know what I did to deserve him but, Thanks again God!

My daughter Tara, her husband Jason and each of my darling 6 grandchildren make my heart sing.  Tara and Jason are a joy to behold as they so beautifully and gently raise up loving, talented, children.  I'm so proud and so blessed by them daily.

My awesome eldest son Cooper.  He's going to set the world on fire with his enthusiasm and great big heart!

My daughter Kate fell in love and said her "I do's" to Justin this year.  Watching these two prepare for and then engage in the sacrament of marriage has been an incredible blessing and joy.

What makes a dog?
Is it the cut of his coat? The length of his pedigree? His size or that of his dog house?
I think not.
It is the heart of the dog that makes him, for a dog's heart knows no bounds. 

Have I mentioned how much I love my pups?  I think it's a bit obvious, and maybe some think it's even a little obsessive  overboard, but I think the joy I get from these two is over the top joyful!

The sea is my front yard.  Oh JOY!  How blessed am I?  Indescribable the feeling I get every time I see, hear or smell the ocean.  That I get to live beside it is the best life can bring and I'm grateful for it every, single day.

I could go on and on and on, so instead I'll try to spread out all the love during this Advent Season.  Lest you think I've forgotten - I haven't.  Jesus is the Reason For The Season.  But guess what guys?  It's not the same kinda love, but we kinda like this guy too.  And, I hear he's coming to town!

Think about it.  These are some of the things I hold dear and am thankful for this Christmas.  How about you?  What do you hold dear?  I can't wait to hear from you.

Blessings to you and yours,


P.S.  Just so you know, I hold each and every one of you dear as well.  You are why I keep this blog going no matter how sporadically my old computer and skills hold up.  I love you all more than even that!

19 November 2012

It's Always A Good Day To Fight The Good Fight

Last weekend, hubby and I did the "Fight For Air Walk".

We walked 5 kilometers to show our support and raise money for everyone who fights to breathe, such as those with lung cancer; asthma or emphysema. This is a cause close to our hearts.  My daughter lost her beloved godfather to emphysema.  I lost my best friend to lung cancer when I was only eighteen, and my cousin who had asthma and fought for breath his whole life finally succumbed, too early in his adult life, to lung disease.

We got there bright and early to register on a beautiful Southern California autumn day. 
Some people walk the distance and others run.  We know a lot about lung disease, but there is so much we don't know.  

 It was a glorious  day in San Diego at the Embarcadero Marina Park. 
 So beautiful in fact, it almost felt like we were cheating! 

I didn't want to lug my Canon, so hubby took these photos for me from his iPhone.  Not to shabby if I do say so!  You can tell however, that just as he is a man of few words, he is a picture taker of few pictures.   

 The walk was along the sea wall and through the park including Sea Port Village.  We had a gorgeous view of the Coronado Bridge where we also love to sail!

Puppies were encouraged, along with strollers, wheelchairs and anyone else who wanted to walk.  There were huge teams like Sempra Energy, and Beta Engineering.  Lots of University's brought their service orgs and I high fived a few of my Alumni from University of San Diego.  Go Torero's!  

Hubby and I wore our Loyola Marymount Sweatshirts, which was just a happy coincidence, and all the cheerleaders and encouragers along the route would yell, "Go LMU" whenever we passed.  So, we decided we were team LMU for our son Cooper's University which he will graduate from this May.  Go LMU!  Go Cooper!

We brought our pups along, including Kieran the Alpha Dog.   Think, pint sized Kujo! Before we got there I had a stern talk with him (the tiny 7 lb. lucky pup who's lucky he hasn't been some pit bulls hors d' oeuvres yet), about what we were doing and why we were doing it.  I told him there would be many people and OTHER DOGS whom he would feel he'd have to guard me from with his very life.  I explained that it would not be necessary this time because, everyone should have the chance to walk for the Fight For Air Walk and he should just be a good boy, keep his nose to the grindstone and WALK without being a big alpha jacka... like the good puppy I know him to be.  And guess what? He DID!!!  Not one incident.  Not one bark or snarl or growl.  It was like he knew how important this was.  WHAT a good boy!  That's why I love dogs.  Dogs just know these things.

 We did it!  You can do it too.  If you'd like to donate, go to "Walk For Air".  Eighty-one cents of every dollar raised by the American Lung Association goes directly to education, research and advocacy.  

You can walk just because you think our children deserve to breathe clean and healthy air!  Thanks xo



Our event was a tremendous success for all involved. More than 800 walkers participated and thanks to you we have raised over $164,000.00! 

05 November 2012

What Your Kids Do When You're Not Home

This is a somewhat cautionary tale because someday it too, could happen to you!
I wonder, what do all these thing have in common?

My theory up to this point has been, I don't want to know what it is that my teenagers do when I'm out. I've had five kids.  I'm tired. I can trust them by now I don't really want to know anymore but, sometimes these things come back to haunt you no matter how hard you try to be an ostrich!  Check out these photos taken by my kids.  Apparently the telltale tableau photographed above are the ingredients for what is about to happen.  

(Disclaimer):  If you have a weak heart go read a different blog, now!

All I wanted was to kick off my Rainbows and have a Cuppa after a long day.  As I relaxed in my studio chair and flipped open my Mac to check a few emails, I was treated quite unexpectedly, to the following photos. 

Huh?  Nobody except my husband and I are over 21 at our house at the moment and I've never heard of Pumpkin Ale.  You can imagine my surprise,

When I saw several different bottles of alcohol being lit on fire! And is that not the beverage holder on my back patio?  Why yes, yes it is the very same.

Can you guess what they are now going to do with this flaming bottle of beer?  Me either.  But do let us see if we can figure it out.

 Have you figured it out yet?  Me either.

How about you dorkus?  Have you thought this through?

What I do appreciate here, is that, my daughter is obviously being very careful and I know this as she has on her (I'm taking this very serious) face.  She always puts on this face when she does anything with her brother.  They're Irish twins (only 13 months apart).  If one doesn't think of it the other will and if one does it the other keeps what they call, THE CODE.  Do you know what that means?  I'll explain in another post at another time but, if you have teenagers, or if you ever do, beware unsuspecting innocent parents, there is  A CODE amongst them. 

We see before us a flaming bottle plunged into ice water with bare hands.  Have you figured this out yet?  Me either.

So I asked.  I did.  I screamed their names, first middle and last (never a good sign).  WHAT WERE YOU GUYS DOING HERE???
 What Ma?  I was just helping her with her homework...

 It's all clear to me now.  School made her do it.  And I pay good money for this. 

So if you're old like me and you don't want to know what your kids are doing while you're out anymore - because, of course after the first three you now have complete trust in the last two, don't, I repeat, do not leave your camera or your Mac unattended.  That's the final answer pure and simple.

By the way, if you still haven't figured it out (I really haven't either).  The yarn was dipped in several different flammable ingredients and tied around bottles.  Said bottles were then set on fire and instantly plunged into an ice bath where they were supposed to crack exactly where the yarn was tied.  Why?  I know, I asked the same question.  They were endeavoring to make cups from bottles of alcohol.  Cool huh?  If you look back on the first tableau whereby they staged their ingredients you will even see the sandpaper which was supposed to smooth out the edges, so the glasses were fit to drink out of.  In short, it didn't work and I was scorned for even questioning my little scientists for trying to squelch their dreams of discovery.  "Mom, we thought you'd love it!  You're an artist for hecks sake."  (Hecks sake - did they really say that?)  You've seem them; you guess.  Hahahahahahahaha. 

And what happened to the beer in all those bottles kids?

And what were the seashells and the telephone (that hasn't worked in 40 years) for you ask?  I never got a straight answer on that one.  And guess what?  I DON'T REALLY WANT TO KNOW.  

It's your turn.  What do your kids do when you're not home?  

29 August 2012

Amazing Grace

August 2012
Happy First Birthday Little One!
It's your special day.

About 6 years ago my daughter Kate came home from college with a new friend named Michael.  They went to University in Texas and since we live in California we were excited to learn that his family lived just up the road from us here in So. California.  How they found each other in an entire community of young adults I'll never know. Except that the college only has about 2,000 kids.  But still...

Friends forever!

Anyhoo, the two of them conspired, and decided that their parents had a lot in common and should meet, so while they were back in California on a break from school, we all went out to dine at one of our favorite little eateries nearby.  Short of the long, we’ve been as thick as thieves ever since. 

While they were away at University they each met the love of their lives in the great state of Texas and married within a year of each other, just after graduation.  Michael married a Catherine but, she's called Katie and my Kate and my Kate's hubby Justin are now thick as thieves just like their parents.  Each married someone from another state but settled right here in good old Southern California.  We always knew we had smart kids!  And that sometimes God answers prayers just the way we were hoping He would :)

All this is relevant (you didn’t think I would post anything irrelevant did you)?  Because the couple to marry first had their baby first. (I'm still waiting on mine but, no pressure guys.

Michael and Katie's little darling is named Grace and she just had her first birthday which we had the privilege of attending last weekend.  The party was thrown by some serious first and second generation party animals which makes Grace a third generation party girl.  The party lasted for seven hours, so I would say it was a great success! This little post is in honor of a baby girl that I just adore and by the end of this missive I'll bet you will too.

Oh my, how I love pretty pink parties!

Oh!  Pink, Pink, Pink. Who knew they made champagne glasses in Pink!

LOve  ThEm.
First off, I'd be remiss if I didn't say this.  I may have mentioned in a previous post called, "What's In A Name," how much I love the name Grace.  I sadly, lost a baby girl in my second trimester many years ago.  I named her Addison, which is another form of the name Grace. Grace and all forms of it may be the name dearest to my heart.

My eldest daughter has two daughters whose names are Emma and Abigail and both are also forms of the name Grace.  I don't make this stuff up.  Google it.  My second daughter carries her grandmother’s name, Elisabeth.  Yes, you guessed it – another form of the name Grace.  My Golden Retriever was named Bella Grace.  Okay, I’ve gone too far and I've made my point, so now I’ll make it go away.  Well, in just a minute...

Grace:  derived from the Latin “gratia” meaning, Gods favor, blessing, good will.  In Christian theology Grace is the unconditional love.  God’s mercy, kindness, favor and thanks.  And we are all thankful for little Grace!

I can’t help it, just one more thing!  Gaelic, (you knew I had to throw some of the Irish in here). And besides if I didn’t it just wouldn’t be right because our little Grace may be half French, but the best half is Irish! (Sorry Grandmama Helene  - you're welcome Gpa Steve!) Gaelic for Granny which means love, is Grainne which also means GRACE. That's what my 6 grandkids call me.  I'm done now, I pinky swear.

Hiya Daddy.  Did I mention Grace's daddy Michael has a great big heart?  He also has the most incredible blue eyes? Grandmama has them too and they make me swoon.  Is that wrong?

Our little Grace is an angel.  She is the easiest, most content baby ever and from what I hear, her daddy, in contrast was quite hyper, sassy and as they say, a hand full.  Although his gorgeous blue eyes (which you can see again in little Grace) and mirthful smile, made up for it, and everybody loved him.  I can't say for sure, but I think that this dolly got her disposition from her mommy.  Grace also has her beautiful mother's introspection, and always seems to be concentrating, understanding and learning.  Like her mother, she's smart as a whip.  She is incredibly tactile and must touch and feel everything, turning it round and round and studying it as she does.  She reminds me of a little mystic, always analyzing the object of her attention, the wheels of her mind turning as she decides the what, when, where and why of things.

Grace turned one, and as is typical for the birthday party of a one year old there were about three kids under the age of ten and the rest were aunties, uncles, cousins, friends and just plain fans of Grace, there just to celebrate her. Everyone missed the other half of her family who live in Michigan, but hopefully this post will let them share with their beautiful girl. The  guests, the juicy burgers and hot dogs, rose champagne, gorgeous weather and party games, made Grace’s birthday party a grand success. It was a perfect summer day with friends milling about in a sea of perfect princess pink.  I enjoyed my champagne in a fluted pink glass and took in the scene.

Most of the men played a simple game. Simple.  Beer and men seem to have a lot in common and a jigger of fun together.  Both are involved in the game, Corn Hole. I’m not sure who the reigning champion turned out to be, but I think it was my very own hubby.  A truly simple man who loves a pint and the game  of Corn Hole. (Don't tell him but, I think he may be getting his very own set for his birthday.  Corn Hole can be played at the beach too, don't you think?

This is my hubby.  Although he is playing the infamous game of Corn-hole which I will henceforth explain, this is not the typical stance one takes when playing the game.  Hours of the game and a little beer may have simplified things by the end of the afternoon.  Just sayin'.

What is Corn hole? WARNING - if you don't have a boatload of time yet still want to know how to play the game, just skip the following copy and look at the pictures :}
Corn hole, or Corn Toss, is a game in which players take turns pitching small bags filled with corn (or sand or beans) at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A corn bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point. Play continues until a player reaches the score of 21. The platforms measure 4'x2' and are generally made of wood, although plastic can be a suitable replacement. The bags are generally 6x6", made with duck cloth, and filled with dry feed corn.  This is a really classy game.  Seriously.

Corn hole is taken very seriously at birthday parties, backyard soirĂ©es and in colleges.  It has taken the place of the infamous drinking game Pong on college campuses.  I was as surprised as you will be to find that they have their own Charter and Purpose which I will include here but please don’t waste your time reading it.  Just let it be said that if you don’t know Corn Hole yet, don’t’ say I didn’t warn you and try to educate you here first.  For more information (as if I didn’t already exceed demand for explanation of such a thing), just Google Corn Hole Games, and you can find out all there is to know and where to buy all the not sophisticated equipment.  OMG, YOU ARE WELCOME.

Remember this is not required reading pertinent to the rest of the blog post!

ACA Charter and Purpose:

Promote and Grow - Spread the game of Corn hole / Corn Toss to all fifty states in the United States of America.

Educate and Inform - To educate friends and neighbors that are new to the game of Corn hole / Corn Toss and to provide a forum to share the latest Corn hole / Corn Toss news and information

Standardize Corn hole / Corn Toss Rules - To establish and promote consensus for an official set of rules of Corn hole / Corn Toss that can be used to standardize tournament play around the Country.

Recommend Corn hole / Corn Toss Equipment Standards - To establish and promote consensus for equipment standards used in Corn hole / Corn Toss tournament play around the country.

Ranking and Rating System - To establish a standard ranking and rating system to allow ACA members to compete with one another around the country based on statistical results of their Corn hole / Corn Toss play.

Share Information - To provide a forum for Cornholers around the world to share ideas, information and stories.
  Again I exclaim, “OMG!"  I told you, you should just look at the pictures.

Now that's more like it.  This is how it's supposed to look.  You show 'em how to play the game Mr. Swink.  Nice form by the way.

Just look at Joseph!  You can start playing Corn hole at any age, but you must have extraordinary powers of concentration like our boy Joe here.

Meanwhile, back at the real party - Loads of fun of other kinds was taking place.

Did I mention that Grace sports her very own pink Little Tykes car? It is obviously fuel efficient and from what I understand, even Little Tykes cars are welcome to park in those special 'fuel efficient car only' spaces at Whole Foods.

She does have a little bit of a cell phone addiction at this point and we're working on that.  I believe she was ticketed for texting and driving and now she has promised to talk on her cell only when she's parked or when she's walking on her own two feet as you can see here.


This is Grace's gorgeous mommy. She's a teeny thing. Easy to see where Grace got her petite little frame, her luscious lips and her fashion sense!

Come on kids, its time for my favorite part.  PRESENTS!

Let me just put it out there right now.  Kids get awesome presents.  These may or may not still be at Grace's house and not in my new toy closet.

More and more and more presents. The wrapping is as fun as what's inside, don't you agree?

You have to have an audience when you open presents.  I don't know who made up that rule, and it kind of embarrasses me when I have to do it. But I am a rule follower for the most part, so there you have it. These darling girls were more than willing to ooh and ahh over all the fun gifts and Grace didn't mind at all. 

These girls have known each other since they were wee rebels at Catholic Primary School and most went to University together. I can not say enough kind words about these girls, each and every one.  They are pure quality in every way and give womanhood a good name.  I'm so proud of all of them, not only for their accomplishments but, because they are women of faith and virtue and blaze a wide trail that every girl should follow.

My Kate is the one in the cute orange patterned blouse.  She is flanked by her former roommates whom we affectionately call, "The cousins".  That's because they're cousins, and there are more where those came from.  All three girls got married this year, so we've had nothing but fun — and presents. But now, enough talk of presents...  Its time for cake!

Everybody loves a giant cupcake.  This one was so giant, I think even our girl Grace was taken aback!  I can tell you with conviction that this was one great tasting cupcake.  The only thing that would have made it better was if it was chocolate.

So sweet, both baby and cake.  But never fear, one of my gifts was a baby tooth brush!  I know, I know, I'm beloved for my thoughtful gifts.

There were lots of guests at Grace's party.  They ranged in age from one to eighty-one.  This is our friend Jimmy.  He has a twin brother and they just celebrated their first teenaged birthday.  Happy Birthday guys!

I love, love, love, this photo.  This is Grace's Gpa and Jimmy.  They're fast friends.  You can always see the love between them and it's captured just perfectly right here.  

Gpa Steve loves Jimmy so much he shared his cell phone number with him and they talk regularly.  Now that's true love!

What is the most fun new party game ever (besides Corn Hole)?  Writing on any sort of glass — windows, mirrors, with white board marker.  From what I hear it comes right off with a damp cloth.  It better because, everyone at the party couldn't resist the Picasso in themselves.  We all had fun creating art at Grace's party and since I'm throwing a little bash of my own over here at The Cottage on Saturday, I may just throw out a few colors of and see what transpires!

Sadly, the party's over for now I guess.  Except for the party girl who I hear jigged long into the night.  Look at her go.  Partaaaaaaaaaaaaay!  

Love you more than I love pink,

Blessings of Grace,