Category Archives: Family

Faith with a Dose of Uncertainty

I’m sitting here in a sunny window, listening to my dog Jordan chomp on the new soup bone my daughter bought her. She is most assuredly enjoying every moment, every bite of that delicious bone. Snow has fallen the last two days and it looks like a Norman Rockwell painting outside.

I saw the headlines today and there is a sadness in the pit of my stomach. I’m trying to process what is going on. It would be really scary if it wasn’t so absurd.

My grandparents came over on the boat from Greece and Turkey. They came for the opportunity to have a better life. Each generation since has lived that better life and much of it is owed to my grandparents. When I think of the hardships they faced, the Great Depression, no knowledge of the English language, I am filled with admiration for them.

Yiayia and Papou

I don’t know, I’m not sure, but I think that time will tell. “It will unfold” as I like to say. And as always, it is faith that will get me through the hardest parts. Keeping silent has been difficult at times; I don’t believe in slander, sharing slanted websites, or name calling. That doesn’t work for me.

So for today, I will take nuggets of happiness where I can find them. I will listen to Jordan eating her bone and I will watch the cardinals come to my bird feeder. I’m feeling a bit under the weather so there’s a pot of soup on the stove. Soon the smell of onions, garlic, and chicken will fill the air. I will pick out a great movie and watch it with wild abandon.

Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Karle Wilson Baker

Please follow and like us:
849

A Letter to Penelope

Jessica, John and Penny at her baptism, July 2016

Dear Penelope,

I can’t believe you are already a year old! Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday I was at the hospital, holding you for the first time. I was filled with such love and emotion that day. You were absolutely beautiful then and you have grown even more beautiful with each passing day.

Watching your personality develop has been a joy. You smile and laugh at other babies, even when they are not as enthusiastic. 🙂 When we walk into a room, you scan and take it all in. New people are given the once over (as it should be) but you never cry (yet!) over meeting someone you don’t know.

I see other parts of who I think you will be. Forward, assertive, a leader. I took you into a restaurant once and while we were waiting for our guest, I sat you on the table. You opened your arms and began to babble. It was as if you were addressing the crowd. The same thing happens when we go to church. You love to look around and take it all in. I feel like you are absorbing, maybe memorizing it all so that you will always know that church is your home.

Your parents love you deeply and have made many changes to place you first in their lives. They have the entire living room buffered for your safety. Your bedroom overflows with books, stuffed animals and clothes. The toys you have are great for learning. You love to explore, punch musical buttons, and play with your favorite toys all day long.

Seeing the advantages and love you have gives me much to pray for. For all the other babies in the world, I wish that they would be as loved and cared for as you are. When I am not with you, I am never concerned for your safety for I know that your parents are on it. They keep an eye out for you always.

Watching you grow so fast in the first year has been a remarkable experience for all of us. I look forward to the next year and all the joy you will continue to bring to us!!

Love, Nana

My son John, with Penelope Katherine

Mom and Baby

I’m one month old!

My daughter Michelene and granddaughter Penny, on a beautiful summer day.

Helping to serve the cake.

Probably my favorite picture

With Godmother Kristina. Penny still looks at Father E this way.

The only selfie you’ll ever see me do is with Penny.

Fashionable already!

Playing is hard work.

A special birthday with Nana.

“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”
Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

Please follow and like us:
849

She Believed She Could

This beautiful image courtesy of Artsy Pumpkin- Click HERE for the link.

“I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”
Anne Lamott

Happy New Year! How was your holiday? I can’t believe it’s over already. Now it’s back to reality and real life! I couldn’t resist the above quote by Anne Lamott. She makes me laugh, cry and smile, sometimes all at the same time. Reading her books and writing can turn around my whole day.

Penny on the beach, Summer 2016

When I look back on this year, I can consider it an amazing one. I did many more events than I thought possible. My church had a centennial celebration that I was blessed to be a part of. Penelope Katherine, my newest grandchild, was born on January 24 and brought such joy to my (and the whole family’s) life. I published my first book, Ordinary is Extraordinary and sold more copies of it than I thought possible (thank you!).

On the flip side, I was sometimes overwhelmed by too much to do. As usual I think I am managing well but then a dark cloud comes over me. That is why that quote above is especially poignant. I can really relate to it. Sometimes it is other people that bother me, sometimes it is the situations I create myself.

My word of the year for 2016 was Believe. It was a great word and I have kept it in mind all year. I hoped to use it to deepen my faith and I believe I accomplished that goal. I also know I will always keep building my relationship with God. I am never done and He will never be rid of me.

In the past two months, I lost a good friend to cancer. Another friend of mine, who was to be a first time grandmother, experienced a stillborn loss that I am still struggling to believe. Both of these were deep losses that I felt (and am still feeling). This is the hard part of growing up, getting older. You lose people that you love, bad things happen and we don’t understand them.

I remember when my father died almost nineteen years ago. We didn’t really see it coming although he had been sick for quite a while. The day after his death the sun came up. Time waits for no one I thought. Despite the awful loss of my dad, the world did not stop. People came and went. Friends showed up.

Isn’t this how we get through life? We plod along and sometimes there is deep mud to walk through, rain that beats down on us, and the occasional lighting strikes. Then there are those days when the sun comes out, someone gets married, a baby is born, a new friend is made. These events are what makes life worth living.

May you go forward in 2017 with a renewed attitude, a motivation to learn something new, and an awareness of the grace that will surely come your way.

I wanted to share some highlights of my year. These moments were especially wonderful. xo

Penny’s Baptism

Meeting an old friend, Dreama after many years.

Watching my son John and his entrance into Fatherhood.

Our visit to Nantucket.

Watching Penny adore my mom.

Meeting Vivian Howard of “Chef and the Farmer”

My sisters, mom and I at the kick off party to the Centennial of my church.

Penny and me on Christmas Eve.

Siesta Key Florida March 2016.

Backpack Feeding Kickoff at FOCUS West Central PA

Last wedding of the season- Ashley and Eli, Photo by Michael Will

Please follow and like us:
849

The Deep Roots of Family

Three generations- From L to R, Grandmother Katherine, Granddaughter Michelene, Great Granddaughter Penelope Katherine

Three generations- From L to R, My mother Katherine, My daughter Michelene, My granddaughter Penelope Katherine at one month of age.

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”
Anne Lamott

I am the sum total of the generations before me. My grandparents, mother, father, and relations even beyond them, reaching far into the history of Greece and Turkey are part of me. The personalities and mannerisms that I have about me, no doubt are deeply rooted. I’m sure I do things my ancestors did without even being aware of it.

When I was little, I would spend three or four summer weeks at my Yiayia’s house in Stockdale, Pennsylvania. My dad used to say that the biggest excitement in town was going down to the gas station and jumping on the bell. 🙂 That may have been true but yiayia’s house was my second home.

These roses are just like my yiayia’s. Gardenia.net

My grandmother had a trellis of pink tea roses that grew wildly in the summer. I was so attracted to them that to this day, I am crazy about roses. Yiayia would take the rose petals and a recipe she had from her homeland of Chios, Greece and make rose jelly. I have no idea the type of rose she had or the recipe but someday I am going to figure it out.

Beautiful Gardenia

Beautiful Gardenia

My grandfather (Papou) planted a big garden, filled with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Put those together in a bowl, add a bit of feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar and you have an amazing salad. Papou had the biggest, healthiest gardenia plant I have ever seen. As he aged, he would hum to himself and clean the leaves with a Q-tip. I am deeply attracted to gardenias and wore one on my wrist for my 25th anniversary.

I married my husband partly because when he drove me up the driveway to the family homestead, there was a huge field next to the house, surrounded by woods. I’ve been a nature girl my whole life and that stuck with me. We’ve planted a garden pretty much every year we’ve been married. We grow tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini. I love my backyard and it is an endless source of calm for me. In the morning, I can walk outside in my jammies and not worry about a next door neighbor.

My daughter Michelene is an even bigger nature girl. She has planted dozens of varieties of heirloom tomatoes, dried the seeds, and used them for new plantings. Her yard is huge and she always has something going on- canning fresh applesauce, making homemade sauce, or raising her first batch of baby chicks. Beekeeping is something Michelene does with her dad; check out her first Beefuddled Farms blog post HERE.

Me and Penelope

Me and Penelope

My son John and his partner Jessica are amazing cooks. When I go and watch Penelope, there is always something creative in the fridge. This past week it was pizza and the crust was made with spaghetti squash (no kidding). It was amazing. Penelope is going to have quite a palate I am sure.

As a family we embrace traditional foods but also look for new ways to enjoy healthy choices. I love how John experiments with avocados, squashes and cauliflower and creates delicious wonders. Then of course, there’s always a square of good dark chocolate for dessert. We love that.

Last year for Mother’s Day, I made a nice dinner and invited everyone over. For a take home gift, I had little pots of fresh herbs to choose from- basil, rosemary, or parsley. Every year I grow a giant basil plant for a big Orthodox holiday in September. Michelene and John chose basil as their plant to take home. I was proud of that.

Humungous

My prize basil plant

If we look deep enough, we will find clues to what makes up all those amazing parts of us. The combination of ancestry and influences are who we are inside. We can certainly change those things that no longer serve us and in the process, some really good stuff will come bubbling up. Scrap away the fluff (as Pooh would call it) and find your beauty within.

What did you like to do as a child? I’ve read this recently and have tried to go back to it. I loved to jump rope, color, be creative, and be outside. Those are the things I’m trying to embrace as often as I can. (Well, I admit I have yet to buy a jump rope!)

Happy Earth Day!

Know you are beautiful inside and out.

My book, Ordinary Is Extraordinary, is available on Barnes and Noble Nook now! Click HERE for the link. To order from Amazon, click on the book to the right of this post (on the sidebar). I have some good “book” stories to tell you about next time we chat. 🙂

Happy Easter, Kali Anastasi, to my Orthodox Christian friends! For my latest post on the Orthodox Christian Network click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
849

Dreams With a Deadline

My Tupperware Lady Days!

My Tupperware Lady Days! Some serious goal setting times!

How are you at setting goals? Are you consistent about them or are you content to just take every day as it comes?

I am not the best when it comes to goal setting. I’m a recovering perfectionist and goals to a perfectionist can be an over the top thing, worthy of obsession. When I was a new mom, I was a super Tupperware lady for seven years. A newspaper article that interviewed me for a story on party plans called me “vivacious” (no kidding!). My cousin Gary called me this for years. 🙂  Truly though, I shied away from goals for fear of not making them. Back then our distributor would say, “Goals are dreams with a deadline.”

Over the years, I’ve realized what’s more important- my sanity or pushing myself to insanity.

That’s why I was intrigued when my friend Tracy Eisenmann did a Vision Board workshop last year. My friend Karen and I decided to do it together and had a grand time. We sipped wine, snipped and cut from magazines, and looked for pictures that would symbolize our forthcoming intentions.

My Vision Board

My Vision Board

After I created my board, I hung it up and looked at it often. Dreaming of what I might accomplish, I opened my heart to the possibilities. After a while I admit to putting the board in a closet. It left my mind and I went on to other things.

Recently, I got it out again and took a fresh look. Up in the left hand corner, there were two cars. One was black, the other was red. I am not kidding when I tell you we just bought two used cars in January and February respectively. My car is red. Jim’s car was dark grey.

I was alone in my house when I pulled the vision board back out of the closet. Out loud I said, “AND IT’S RED!”. I couldn’t believe so much of the board had come true.

Maya Angelou is in the bottom right corner as a dream weaver for my writing. I have always admired her. Remarkably, my first writing dream/goal has come true. I am going to tell you about my book “Ordinary is Extraordinary” within one week of this post. I will give you a link to order it. It will be ready for the women’s retreat at Antiochian Village on Saturday, April 2. I am going to speak about it.

This is a “pinch me” time. Sometimes I can’t sleep I’m so excited about it all. God has blessed me with a full wedding season, a new granddaughter, a book, and friendships so deep that I am amazed.

There’s a Vision Board Workshop on Friday evening of the Empowerment weekend (April 1). So I will be doing a new board and I’m so excited! I hear we will be accepting walk in’s on Saturday morning. I’m speaking at 9 am so get there early if you plan on coming at the last minute!

Thank you so much for being with me on my journey. We have so much more ground to cover. Let me know what’s exciting in your life!

For more info on the Empowerment Retreat, click HERE.

And for my worldwide blogger friends, here’s my latest Penelope picture!

Penelope Katherine- Two months old already!

Penelope Katherine- Two months old already!

Please follow and like us:
849

Life In My Kitchen

Spaghetti Dinner at the Cains

One of my favorite pictures! Spaghetti and Roast Chicken at the Cains.

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”
Julia Child

They say the heart of the home is the kitchen and I cannot help but agree. It is at my house for sure. We do everything in our kitchen and over the years, we have the best memories that one could ever hope for.

First I have to tell you that Jim’s mom graciously sold us her house when she remarried. That was thirty years ago this week. What a blessing. I doubt we would have been able to afford much at the time and my mother in law made it happen. Thanks Mom. 🙂

From the birth of our son John (Michelene was already born by this time) to the acquisition of cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, cockatiels, you name it, our kitchen has witnessed the evolution of our family. But besides pets and friends, what is really noteworthy is the volume of food that has been consumed over the years from our kitchen table.

Hundreds of pounds of Greek food- spanakopita, baklava, fish plaki, roast lamb- have graced the table. Tons of pasta, interesting soups, Thanksgiving turkeys, Jim’s famous flank steak, amazing chicken egg omelets, bacon, mounds of salads with Michelene’s heirloom tomatoes have all been a part of our food landscape.

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

If the walls could talk they would tell the tale of the recipes, good and not so good, and certainly the triumph of success with feeding the entire Cain family on Christmas Eve. Everyone pitches in and the noise, bedlam, fun, and gaiety is simply exquisite. This Christmas there was spiral ham, potato salad, amazing cheeses, little hotdogs in crescent rolls, shrimp cocktail, potatoes, green beans, cranberry orange relish, and my son’s smoked brisket. Oh my.

Jim and his siblings hamming it up! From Left, Chuck, Tom, Katie, and Jim.

Jim and his siblings hamming it up! From Left, Chuck, Tom, Katie, and Jim.

At other times, our kitchen table is the forum for discussions, problem solving, joke sharing, and hilarity over steaming plates of fish plaki and mashed potatoes. Afterwards, during cups of coffee and whatever sweets are in the house- usually something chocolate!- we finish the conversations and clean up the dishes.

I don’t have a fancy kitchen but it is well worn, tried, and true. It has everything I need including a gas oven and two refrigerators- one of which is at least twenty years old and one fairly brand new. It was my intention to take the old fridge downstairs and use it as a backup, but that has never happened. It doesn’t matter now. It’s so darn convenient to have two fridges during holiday entertaining and summer garden harvests. I really like having them both.

About seven or eight years ago, we decided to expand the kitchen and add on a real dining room. Our cousin Clint broke through the wall (a momentous occasion) and added on a spacious extra room. I have a large wooden table with two inserts that I absolutely love and we made the addition big enough to accommodate the table when both leaves are in it. Now we have a small kitchen table and the larger dining room table, perfect for when we have all those family gatherings.

My sister Cally and her husband Raymond in the new dining wing

My sister Cally and her husband Raymond in the new dining wing

My grandson is at our house every day after school and his mother (my daughter Michelene) comes about an hour later after work. It is not unusual for us to eat dinner together four nights a week; true sit down dinners with plates, silverware, warm meals, and dinner conversation. When I tell people this they almost always say “wow” but to us it feels entirely normal.

I’m going to share my fish plaki (meaning braised or baked fish with vegetables) recipe as this is one of our evening favorites. It’s very simple and when served with mashed potatoes or rice, it’s a definite winner. Believe it or not, I made this last night to test the recipe and I forgot to take a picture!! I promise you’ll love it.

Joanne’s Fish Plaki

4-6 Tilapia Loins (thawed & patted dry), or other meaty white fish

1 large sweet onion

4-5 Carrots

16 oz diced tomatoes, (canned, organic, whatever you have in your cupboard)

6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

6 tablespoons of butter

Salt and Pepper

1 Lemon

Hot Mashed potatoes or cooked rice to serve on the side

Peel and slice carrots into small medallions. Microwave 3-4 minutes covered or steam in a double boiler until just barely tender. Set aside.

Cut the sweet onion into medium slivers and lightly saute in a large skillet in 4 TBS of the olive oil and 3 TBS of butter over medium heat. Lightly salt and pepper them. Cook until barely soft but do not brown. Turn heat down to medium/low.

Spread the sauteed onions out flat and lay the tilapia loins on top of the onions. Lay small slices of the remaining butter on each of the tilapia loins (more or less to taste!). Salt and pepper the loins and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Pour the diced tomatoes over the tilapia, coating them as much as possible.

Cover the pan and simmer on medium to low for approximately 20 minutes. If you need to, flip the loins mid way through the cooking time to evenly cook them. When they are almost done, add the carrots on top of the whole tomatoes. Salt and pepper everything, cover and simmer for another five minutes.

Check your fish loins at this time by breaking one of them in the center. Cook more or less to taste. (I don’t like my tilapia over done)

To serve: Present fish with mashed potatoes or rice and spoon the tomatoes and carrots over top of everything. Splash alittle lemon juice over all or serve a lemon slice with the plate.

*Notes: This is a pretty healthy recipe. (well, minus the butter!) If you want more flavorful fish, lightly brown the loins in butter and/or olive oil before placing them atop of the onions (then adjust your cooking time as well). You can also add cooked green beans or peas at the end, really any kind of vegetable that would go well with the tomatoes.

Happy Eating!

Please follow and like us:
849

Everything is Bigger at Christmas

The Beautiful Christmas Tree at Heinz Hall

The Beautiful Christmas Tree at Heinz Hall

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only two weeks away. I have been busy but not so busy that I forget the reason for the season. There are so many wonderful sights and sounds during the holidays that it is easy to get caught up in it all- the quest for the perfect presents, home holiday decor, cookie recipes, you name it.

I went shopping with a friend the other day and in every store we went into, the gift ideas were overwhelming. It was all about the red and green and white and lovely and sparkly. It was clothes, jewelry, perfume, gift wrap, slippers, purses….I could go on and on. It was hard to reign myself in but I did stick to my budget pretty well. It was a tough challenge.

So many things are bigger at Christmas. I wanted to take a few minutes to share what I think are the better of the bigger. I hope you share your favorite thing(s) with me in either the comment section or on my Facebook page.

  1. The trees are bigger. I love big trees and I was lucky enough to see Handel’s Messiah at Heinz Hall last week. The concert hall is beautiful enough to begin with but add a tree, big red ribbons, and musicians and it gets downright gorgeous. I basked in the light of the tree and then in the symphony, “For unto us a son is given….”, oh my do I love Handel’s Messiah.
  2. Our hearts are bigger. This is the biggest giving season of all. Don’t forget to write a check to your church or favorite charity. If it’s not in your budget, do some acts of loving kindness. Donate the stuff you no longer wear to the nearest shelter, serve dinner at the soup kitchen, help a neighbor by shoveling his/her driveway.
  3. Expectations are bigger. This is the one thing I try to keep in perspective. It gets easier as I get older. Material things do not hold that much meaning for me any longer. I temper my expectations to allow that everyone is busy, overwhelmed, and tired. I make the effort to love everyone for who they are and not what I think they should be. I keep the focus on love and the reason for the season and I’m a much happier person.
  4. Appetites are bigger. There’s so many good parties with sweets and food. It’s such a temptation. I read those “How to Eat Less at your Office Party” articles but the fact is, I don’t feel good when I overeat. I don’t want to get carried away so I do my best to temper my intake. I save my appetite for those things that I truly want and that’s my splurge. Let’s hope I can keep this attitude. 😉
  5. We miss our departed loved ones bigger. I miss my dad, grandparents, church friends, good friends who I’ve lost. I light my prayer candle almost every day and remember them often. I cannot bring them back but I know they would want me to keep going, keep loving, and keep them in my heart. That’s what I try and do.

I wrote a post for the Orthodox Christian Network this week and it’s up. Click HERE for the link. I wrote about St. Nicholas and I talked about my grandfather (who was named Nicholas) and it brought back so many memories of him. I can see him in his backyard walking or tending his huge gardenia plant in the sunroom. I can hear him chuckling over his favorite tv shows and I can feel the warmth of his hugs. I read my post to my mom and she loved it. We were in heaven over the picture of her parents. I’m almost certain that photo was taken the night before or the day of my wedding. What a wonderful ordinary into extraordinary moment this was for both me and my mom.

Keep your heart in the right place and this Christmas will be a good one. This post dedicated to Alex – May your memory be eternal. 

Heinz Hall- Even the chandelier is gorgeous!

Heinz Hall chandelier- You are the Light of the World

Please follow and like us:
849

Sebastian the Rescue Pup

Snow much fun!

Snow much fun!

Thank you to my daughter Michelene who wrote this beautiful post about her rescue dog Sebastian. Enjoy this heart warming story! xo Joanne

“Life is a Series of Dogs” ~ George Carlin

We had moved into our lovely house in the country with almost twelve acres and rescued a Great Dane named Molly. She was growing up quickly and required a lot of love and attention. After much thought, planning, and financial checking we decided that we wanted to adopt another dog. Our pet needed a pet- someone to run around and do dog stuff with.

We looked for weeks and met plenty of wonderful dogs of all breeds and ages. Some rescue organizations were easier to contact than others and a few private rescue groups never returned our calls or emails. One hot summer day a darling young pup showed up on petfinder.com. He had the cutest face and a slightly tilted head that spoke to his intelligent and inquisitive nature. The rescue group said he had a great personality but he had been adopted and brought back to the shelter three times because he was simply too rambunctious for his previous owners.

Molly was more than happy to tote along on the two hour car ride to meet Sebastian. She rode most of the way with her beautiful face out the window basking in the waves and stares from the other cars. We took Molly to a park down the street to get away from the barking and frantic atmosphere of the rescue kennel and one of the staff members brought Sebastian down to meet Molly. From the moment Sebastian laid eyes on Molly standing under the pavilion in the lush green park- he was in love. Molly was having none of his affections though and gruffly told Sebastian that she was a lady and his rude behavior was not going to be tolerated. There was no aggression in either dog so we asked the rescue group if we could give it a try. They checked our references and said they would be thrilled for us to adopt Sebastian and any other dog we wanted. We were humbled and made arrangements to bring Sebastian to his new home.

Molly and Sebastian

Sebastian (L) and Molly (R)

I left the windows cracked the whole drive home. I wasn’t sure if Sebastian liked car rides, got car sick, or if he would have any other surprises for me. It’s always best to err on the side of caution when dealing with a new animal and I wasn’t about to let him take a flying leap out of the car on the Turnpike. To my surprise, he simply sat in the back seat and gazed at me. It wasn’t intimidating or worrying. He just seemed to be curious about me and my intentions (or maybe he was judging my driving). 🙂

Back home Sebastian fit right in. His favorite place to sleep was downstairs in the doggy kennel portion of the basement with a couch and chair. We figured he liked the quiet after the craziness of the shelter environment which is brimming with anxiety and energy.  He was not into wagging his tail or getting excited over much of anything. We were careful to put him through his paces (checking for food and toy aggression) and give him plenty of exercise in our back yard with an acre of fenced in land. Sebastian loves to play fetch with balls and Frisbees and anything that bounces and scampers across the yard. I’ve shared most of my life with dogs but never had one that played fetch. I was beyond thrilled!

Gavin and Sebastian

Gavin and Sebastian

Sebastian did have some quirks. I don’t think he had ever seen a sweeper, Swiffer, pots, pans, and many other household items. One night he woke me up in the middle of the night barking at the giant canning pot in the kitchen. He was not sure what it was but he was sure it didn’t belong there! Obviously it was a potential threat worthy of waking me up to check out. He also had some skittish behaviors that led us to believe he’d been abused at some point. Molly loves to grab water droplets from the air when Gavin washes his hands and flicks the remaining water drops at Molly. Sebastian cowered from the water drops and any other gesture that he was not familiar with.

Sebastian's Swiffer Face

Sebastian’s Swiffer Face

After about a month of having Sebastian in the house I felt comfortable enough with our trust level to try something new. We were standing in the sun soaked kitchen one beautiful afternoon and I reached down and hugged him lightly with both arms. That was the first time I saw him wag his tail. We had been giving him plenty of space and just thought he wasn’t a particularly snuggly or affectionate dog (we were fine with that). I think he was waiting for us to take him back to the shelter like his previous families had done. This guy was ours and he wasn’t going anywhere! I wish I had a picture of the first time he laid on the couch with us. At first he wasn’t sure what to think about the potentially precarious situation. After about two minutes he was comfortable and snoring so loudly I had to turn the TV volume up to hear it.

On the Couch with Michelene

Time for Snuggling

Time for Snuggling

Sebastian and Molly sometimes get into trouble but they prefer hiking around the many trails and chasing wildlife through the yard. Furniture destruction is only a backup plan for when there hasn’t been enough excitement and mystery in their lives. You never know what could be inside of a couch cushion until you look, right?

Doggies and their Stuffing

Doggies and their Stuffing

Today we’re grateful that Sebastian has been in our lives for well over a year and is such a wonderful addition to our family. He plays well with people and dogs alike. He and Molly are like siblings with the appropriate amounts of love, playfulness, with a sprinkle of trouble and getting on each other’s nerves from time to time. The shelter dog who had four families took as much of a chance on us as we did on him and we all lived happily ever after.

Gavin, Sebastian and the Tractor

Gavin, Sebastian and the Tractor

Doggies watching Doggies

Doggies watching Doggies

Lots of Hiking Space at Michelene's

Lots of Hiking Space at Michelene’s

We Love Each Other!

We Love Each Other!

Happy Endings

Happy Endings

If you are considering adding to your family, please consider a rescue.

Please post your furry family members on our Facebook link or feel free to leave a comment below about your favorite pet!

Please follow and like us:
849

Halloween Traditions

Gavin and his Pumpkin

Gavin and his Pumpkin

“Tis the night—the night
Of the grave’s delight,
And the warlocks are at their play;
Ye think that without,
The wild winds shout,
But no, it is they—it is they!”
Arthur Cleveland Coxe, Halloween: A Romaunt

Are you ready for Halloween? Chances are, you have plans this evening. You may have a party to go to or maybe you’ve already been to one? Maybe you’ve carved a pumpkin and roasted the seeds? 🙂

This past Thursday, we did what we have done for years. We made our way to my mother’s house for our traditional Halloween dinner. There were seven of us this year for her famous pastichio and salad. Jim and I, Michelene and her boyfriend John, Aunt Joy and Gavin- all at grandma’s house.

This has been a tradition of ours for at least thirty years. Since we live at the end of a short lane, I took my own children, and then my grandson to my mom’s. She still lives in the neighborhood I grew up in with lots of houses and even some of the same neighbors. I felt very safe taking my kids trick or treating there for years. When Gavin was born, we did the same thing with him.

Mom makes us dinner (she’s 86 now) and afterwards we hand out candy. I thought about taking some pictures of the kids for this story but I worry about their privacy. So you will have to be happy with this one picture I found from the past. It’s Michelene and her cousins. She loved to dress up as a black cat.

Michelene, Jerra, and Daniel

Michelene, Jerra, and Daniel

One tradition Michelene had with her son Gavin was the yearly carving of a pumpkin. Every year it was a different carving and over time she came up with some pretty good ones. Gavin is now fourteen years old. It’s hard to believe time has gone by so fast.

Gavin loved to carve pumpkins!

Gavin loved to carve pumpkins!

For years we also went to Hozak’s Farm at least one Saturday in October. We would pick out a pumpkin, enjoy hot apple cider, and look at all the Halloween decorations. It’s a great farm with hay rides and beautiful scenery.

Michelene, her friend Joyce, and John

Michelene, her friend Joyce, and John

I’d love to know what you do for Halloween. If you have a yearly tradition be sure and leave a comment below. If you follow this blog via Facebook, attach a picture of your carved pumpkin or your favorite trick or treater onto the post. Happy Halloween!

 

Please follow and like us:
849

Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise over Sewickley, PA.

Sunrise from Sewickley Bridge, PA.

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Lyrics from Sunrise, Sunset- Fiddler on the Roof

It’s hard to believe that next month I will be 58 years old. I kind of like that I can say I am pushing 60. Years ago, I thought I would be young forever. When I hit 30, I was excited about that landmark. When I turned 40, it was a bit different. I felt like I really began to feel my age. No wonder people buy red sports cars at that age.

Mom and her daughters- Photo by Karen Long Kern. (LtoR) My sister Mary, sister Cally, Mom, Me

Mom and her daughters- Photo by Karen Long Kern. (LtoR) My sister Mary, sister Cally, Mom, Me

My mom has set the example for me of accepting her age but staying young at heart. She stopped dyeing her hair in her mid – 50’s. She prefers to be around young people rather than join senior types of activities. She is really a trooper and her positive attitude about life continues to inspire and motivate me.

What I’ve noticed about this era is that I can’t do everything I used to do. I get tired. I have the desire to keep going but my mind and body can not always keep up. It’s been a difficult choice to slow down a bit lately. And there’s some things that this age has brought about for me that I’m truly grateful for.

Siesta Key Sunset

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I am losing friends these days to cancer and sudden death. It really puts things into perspective. What is really important? It’s not the latest handbag or hashtag. It’s all about family and friends.

Money is irrelevant. Yes you need money to pay the bills. Do I need the latest wardrobe or fancy shoes? No, I do not. And I’ve really learned that money does not buy true happiness. Who will be with you on your dying day? It won’t be Ms. Money.

It helps to have some spirituality. I don’t know where I’d be without my faith. I had hot flashes for several years that were so bad I don’t know now how I got through them. I survived and I credit my higher power.

A good partner is worth gold. I know I said it is not about the money but a good partner is priceless. My husband Jim is my best friend. Enough said.

Do what you love. I really love giving people unconditional love. How do I do this? I coordinate their wedding days. I send them little messages. I tell them “I love you.” I volunteer for a program that feeds the poor and homeless. I write blogs for my religion that people actually read. It’s mind blowing.

Put guilt into perspective. OK, this is a big one. I carried around way too much guilt about dumb stuff for too long. Life really is too short for guilt. The better my relationship with God, the less guilt I have. Remember that post I wrote on perfection? I will never achieve perfection; only God is perfect. I just try to do my best every day and apologize when I tick someone off.

Less clutter is better. If you don’t use something for a year, chances are you don’t need it and someone else could use it. Make three bags and go through your stuff. One bag is for keeping, one is for trash, one is to give away. Do one room or one area at a time. Drive to Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity ReStore afterwards and donate the contents of the giveaway bag. Take the trash bag to the garbage before you change your mind. Take the keep bag and actually display or use those favorite things.

Family is everything. Who will show up when you really need them? Who’s there for you when you need someone to talk to? Maybe you have close friends that are really like family. Those people count as well. Nurture those relationships and keep them going.

There you have it. All the above is where I’m at right now. Thank you God for this age and this perspective. Bring on the next year. 🙂

Sunset 2-7-15

Please follow and like us:
849