Lots of laughing from the kitchen made me come downstairs to see what was up.  Hoob and Mack were laughing at one of Hoob’s self-evaluations for her art class.  She had filled it out a few days before and had just taken a closer look at what she had written.  Under the section that said:  Describe a watercolor technique that you learned on this project Hoob wrote:

“I learned using rubber cement on the painting helps with keeping white on the painting days.”


Hoob didn’t even know what she’d meant when she wrote it.  Mack asked her if she’d been “on something” when she wrote it.  Hoob endured some teasing from all of us last night.

I get joy from the fact that my daughter can laugh at herself.

I read this column a few weeks ago and loved it.  It goes perfectly with what I am trying to do during these weeks of looking for and creating joy.  Click on the link, and enjoy!

Flowers!  For me, there is nothing like fresh flowers to bring some cheer.  And, since the weather here has turned cold once again, and since I am focusing on being joyful, I bought African violets–one a dark purple and the other pink with white edges–to bring into our home and give us a bit of color.  They  provide an escape from the dreary grays outdoors.

“Earth laughs in flowers.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Hamatreya”

Joy, happiness, pleasure, contentment, cheer–things many of us seem to be searching for but somehow miss the mark.  For the next two weeks I am going to deliberately look for and create joy in my life.  I have always admired joyful people and consider the trait of being joyful a divine quality worthy of emulating and developing in myself. 

For the next two weeks my blogging schedule will change from my normal Monday/Thursday posts to a short daily post reporting on one or two things that brought me joy the previous day.  I might end up reporting on things I am grateful for or those “happy accidents” that happen to all of us that bring us clarification and a new perspective or I might report on deliberate acts on my part to bring joy into my life.  Each day will bring something new.

Today’s report (Joyful Report #1) comes from a deliberate act on my part last night.  Hub had to leave to take care of some things at his parents’ house while they are out of the country serving a mission for our church in St. Maarten.  Juju and Shroom were called away to a dinner at their mother’s house.  Squid serving a mission in Uruguay and Huh attending college out of state left just me, Mack, Hoob, and Yawlin at home.  

I was tempted to let the three kids watch tv and give myself some “alone” time to read and get other things done that I’ve been dying to finish, but instead, I chose to spend the time with my kids.  We try to keep Sunday as a family day around here anyway, so my request to turn off the tv and play a game didn’t receive much resistance.  It was a simple game, one adapted from a book, but we had fun.  We laughed.  We teased.  We ate kettle corn and drank root beer.  And while all of it was going on, I was happy, I was joyful, I was content with my life. 

Mission accomplished.

Until tomorrow…enjoy!

Ya gotta pick your battles, ya know?  So, when my daughter, Mack, chose what she was wearing to prom (as long as it was modest) I didn’t mind the choice.


Yes, the shoes could be seen as she walked around.  Yes, she did receive comments.  Mostly, “You WOULD wear those!” and “So cool!”

Yes, my daughter is comfortable in her own skin.  No, she doesn’t care what others think of her style choices.  Yes, I am glad she has no fear of being herself.

And, perhaps, she has started a new trend…

For a Christmas/birthday present this year Hub gave me tickets to see Wicked in New York City!  We went last month, had a total blast, and I am just now getting around to posting about it.  Sorry, but when you have a blended family with seven very busy kids, blogging often times gets put on the back burner.

Here, in a totally random order, are some ways we’ve found over the years to enjoy a trip together without the kids (and not feel guilty about it!):

*Be flexible! In order to save money (and SkyMiles) Hub booked us on a red-eye flight to NYC.  A representative at the hotel had told him that if the hotel wasn’t completely booked we would be able to get into a room as soon as we arrived in the early morning hours, even thought check-in wasn’t until noon.  We hoped it would work out for us so that we could sleep for a few hours in a bed after arriving, but as luck would have it, the hotel was booked and we had six hours to kill before we could check-in.  We didn’t have a rental car, we were pretty tired after the over-night flight, and we had luggage, but no room.  So what did we do?

The hotel staff, being used to such situations, let us leave our luggage in a secure room near the lobby.  We relaxed in the hotel dining area and watched the morning news programs while eating the free breakfast provided by the hotel.  Once we were full, we decided to kill some time by visiting the Empire State Building.  Apparently the morning hours in February are a good time to do so because we didn’t wait in line at all to go to the top.

And the view?


*Pictures! Take pictures for memories.  Send pictures to your kids.  Camera phones are perfect for this!  We sent a couple of the pictures from the Empire State Building to our kids with the message, “Good-morning from the Empire State Building!”  It was the first text message of the day for all of them.  And yes, they responded enthusiastically once they woke up for the day and saw the picture texts.

All during our trip we sent occasional pictures to let the kids know what we were doing in real time.  Some of the photos that got the most response:

And after returning home and posting the pictures on our family website and on Facebook the kids had even more comments.  Our kids seem to get a kick out of odd-ball photo ops such as the signs in this previous post and these pictures:

King Kong cookie sold in the gift shop at the top of the Empire State Building

Street scene--count the taxis!

Window display with balloons

McDonald's in China Town

New York City cops standing on the corner

And there was the artwork:

*Be a tourist! Since neither of us had ever been to New York City before, and since we have no idea when, or if, we will ever return, we made sure to see the common tourist sites:

The museum of Natural History

Times Square

A broadway Musical--the reason we were there!

Memorial in Central Park for John Lennon

New Tower being built at Ground Zero

*Get off the beaten path! Although we made sure to hit all the tourist spots–and they were exciting–we also enjoyed looking for experiences that had personal meaning to us.  For instance, the fire station that has a tribute painted on its door to the firefighters from that location that lost their lives on 9/11 has meaning to me as the daughter of a retired fire chief.

Finding the Manhattan Temple of our church had special meaning to us.

I loved taking pictures of street scenes.

And one of my favorite “off the beaten path” moments was when Hub and I found a lower level Italian restaurant on a side street that had food to die for at a great price (a much better price than the Brazilian Barbecue that we went to the next evening).  I wish I had thought to take a picture of the quaint entrance and the decor inside.  We enjoyed that meal and the walk back to our hotel afterward.

*Be a couple! Hold hands.  Have others take your pictures together in front of favorite sites.  Shop together for souvenirs.  Celebrate your relationship.  One of my favorite memories from our trip is the night we returned to our hotel after exploring the main streets of Manhattan.  We were chilly and ready to relax in our room.  Before getting on the elevator we each grabbed a cup of free cocoa offered in our hotel lobby.  We sipped the cocoa while cuddling and watching a movie in our room.  It was simple, yet nice to just be us.

Our last evening there we took a walk to Rockefeller Center and went to the ” Top of the Rock” for some final pictures.  Some nice couple time!

The trip was fantastic!  We talk of taking our kids to New York some day.  We know they would enjoy it.  But, we also talk of our next trip together…just the two of us.

I’m busy enjoying my time with my daughter who is visiting during her college spring break, which means not much time for blogging.  For my Thursday post I simply recommend a blog I recently found called It’s Not About Dying.  The author of the blog lost his beautiful daughter to cancer some years back and is now writing about it on his blog.  If you have time, start reading from his very first post (he just started last month) called Chemical Therapy. 

You will be touched.  You will count your blessings.  I promise.

Text sent from Huh mid-week last week:  I won’t be able to come home for spring break.  😦

Me:  Are you positive?

Huh:  Yeah.  😦  I’m too poor.

I had requested that she not drive that distance alone.  A twelve-hour drive for a 20-year-old young woman traveling alone makes this mom nervous.  None of Huh’s school friends live in our state, so none were coming our way.  She had briefly played around with the idea of buying a plane ticket, but discovered that she didn’t have the funds for that.

I struggled with the idea of buying her a plane ticket.  I wanted to see her for spring break, but I also want her to be independent and to learn how to deal with life’s disappointments.  She has a “loan” from us for her car that she is paying us monthly payments for, I could always just add the cost of the plane ticket to her loan.  Or, it could be a straight out “gift” from me, but that would open a can of worms.  Would she then want a plane ticket for spring break every year?  Would her siblings and step-siblings expect the same thing once they are at college?  I really did want to see my daughter, especially after the scare she had last week.  But, teaching her independence prevailed, and I kept my mouth shut about a plane ticket.  

Saturday, Hub and I were out running errands when I got a text from Huh asking if I was home.  I told her no but that we would be returning home after getting a bite to eat.  She replied that she needed me to check on something for her when I got home.  I thought maybe she was exploring the plane ticket idea again and had maybe found a pretty good rate.

As soon as Hub and I walked in the door the house phone rang.  “Mommeeee,” said Huh.  “I need you to check on something for me in your room.” 

” I know,” I said, tugging on my jacket sleeve to pull it off.  “We just barely walked in the door.  Is it something on the computer you want me to check?”


Again, thinking that maybe Huh had found a killer deal on a plane ticket, I walked into my room to get my laptop, and there sat Huh.  I gasped and Huh, along with Hoob and Yawlin who had followed me to my room, started laughing.  Of course I gave her a great big hug. 

It turns out that Huh’s step-mom was coming up for a wedding and so offered to ride with Huh.  The whole “I can’t come home for spring break” thing had all been part of her elaborate plan to surprise us.  And surprise us she did!  After dropping her step-mom off at where she would be staying Huh had parked her car at the Middle School across the street and had come into the house quietly through the garage.  The first “family member” to see her was the dog, who simply sniffed her leg and then wagged his tail in greeting.  She was able to make it up to my room without anyone at home seeing her. 

The first person she revealed her presence to was her little brother, Yawlin.  She could hear him playing in his room so she called his cell phone and told him the same thing she later told me, “I need you to check on something in Mom’s room.”  Yawlin’s reaction was similar to mine–a gasp and then a hug.  Huh then called Hoob and did the same thing to her.  Same reaction.  Next, the three siblings went downstairs and casually sat watching tv.  When Shroom walked in after taking a shower he stopped, said, “What the–?” and then leaped over the couch and tackled Huh in a big hug. 

I was the next person she showed herself to, and then she walked downstairs and into the kitchen where Hub was looking through cupboards for a snack.  “Oh!  Hello!” said Hub as he pulled her into a hug.  Juju looked up from the couch in the tv room and said, “What the heck?!”  She also came over to greet Huh.  The last person to see Huh was Mack, who came home later that evening from a day of babysitting.  We were all acting like we were watching tv, but really were too excited to see Mack’s reaction.  Mack did a double take when she saw Huh and then turned on the light to make sure she was seeing things correctly.

All in all I think Huh got the reactions she was hoping for. 

I’m glad she’s here.  And I’m glad I didn’t try to surprise her with a plane ticket!

I’ll be enjoying this week with my daughter. 🙂

Back in August I wrote a post about a blog I had discovered through a friend.  MaeLynn was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2009.  Today, her mortal journey ended.  It is ironic that I learned of her death on the very day I had planned to start a blog string about joy.  I will start the blog string later but will look for and work to create joy in my life today, because you never know when your journey will come to an end.


Whenever I come across great ideas I like to share them.  Read this recent post over at Morocco’s Bazaar…and apply it!

Make it a great day!

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