A Heart of Joy

Sam is 34 today. He makes my world a brighter place. But it’s not only my world; it seems to be every life he touches. He enthusiastically shares his positivity with his family and friends and serves as motivation for more tangible change. He is always selfless and helpful; a constant reminder that we all could exercise a degree of control in a world that seems full of negativity and chaos. Positive control, positive actions for positive relationships. His middle initial could be P for positive…but it’s not, it's J for Joseph, or as I sometimes pinch myself…J for the joy he brings to my life.

A few of his nicknames:

My friend: SAM - U- eL
His late Grandma S.:  SAMMY
Me:  My Baylor Bear
A Friend:  HAM
Me:  SAM
College Nickname:  Sam-I-Am

Our Song:  I Was Country...Wasn't Cool.  Barbara Mandrell  (Yes, I know that is hard to believe)

Samuel Joseph...a shining light in my life, always.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SON. 1.28.11



In the summer of 1962 my parents bought their first new home.  It looked straight out of a catalogue, or so I was told.  With 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom (yes, that would ultimately care for 4 kiddos and 2 adults), I think my parents thought they were stylin'.  Organization started for me in this little house which is my sometimes frustrating (to others) and many times referred to, frustrating character trait.  "Squaring up" is what I call it.  Making certain that my "things" are in place and my life is "squared up."

Placing a strip of masking tape down the middle of the bedroom that I shared with my little sister, Janellie (second from L.) made everything nice and neat.  Being the oldest of the four, I chose the side closest to our closet.  Little did I know that would cause a protest from this 6-year old.  My Mama Rush taught me if you do two things your home would be presentable, even if you didn't agree.  First, always hang up your clothes and second, make your bed.  That has stuck with me to now.  As a little girl, it didn't always keep that 10 x 12 room tidy, but we tried.  If being organized was a character trait in the 60's, I didn't know about it or read about it...my reading was limited to mysteries and teen magazines.  Now maybe if we had Container Stores (why didn't I think of that) it would have been helpful.  In Texas City, we were lucky to have a little Mom and Pop five & dime store, Rock's.  I learned the art of organization from having a small space...it was survival.  A space to read, write and talk on the telephone for all of 15 minutes, my allowed time lest I be in big trouble if I chatted longer.  There was no call waiting or voice mail and my Dad had his own business so no long talks on the phone for me.  Besides, our one phone-house hung on the kitchen wall.  I was always asking "please, Daddy can't I have a phone of my own?"  But it was my space all the same.

A routine of organized cleaning wasn't my mother's cup of tea.  It was, however, her mother's, my Mama Rush, who thought cleanliness was next to godliness.  That being said, Christmas was the time my mother thought we should take a day from school vacation and clean out the closets.  I always looked forward to those school holidays when we woud have a day designated to cleaning out and going to the church thrift shop with our goods.  There were no garage sales or sidewalk sales...you just marched on down to the little shop and handed over your "stuff."  With a clean and organized closet my life was squared up.  Now, when my life feels a bit out of sorts I head to the closets and start the cleaning. Organizing my closets with clothes sorted and color coded...well color me happy!  
Doesn't everybody color code their clothes and hangars?  Okay, so maybe it's okay to just label your shoes for a quick get away in the mornings.  Certainly helps me.  It also helps to wear a lot of the same color...you know, just add a few pieces of color, here and there.  I feel in control if my closets are organized.  Oops, there goes that "control" word and it's not necessarily a "Like" word for me.  I've been identified or labeled as a control freak for most of my adult life. I just happen to think that everthing one owns deserves a home, so...create a home for your "stuff." 

I have a room dedicated for use as my art room.  All my papers, scissors, photos, stamps, glue and glitter.  I love my BABS room as it's name appears over the desk in big black letters.  My stamps are lined up by category, just like at Michael's craft store.  Some women love the aisles of Nordstrom's and Macy's but me...nope, I am happiest at DSW for shoes and Michael's http://www.michael's.com/ or Scrapbook Heaven http://www.scrapbookheaven.com/ for art supplies. Now, if only my mental closet, as pertains to my home, was as organized.  I frequently have talks with myself, as well as a routine game of tug of war, with my heart about do I stay or do I sell?  For some reason I decided that about age 55 (now past that date), I would sell my home and minimize my life.  I was travelling in my job a lot and worrying about home, even more. How were the roses doing?  Was the lawn looking green?  And on, and on, the worry wart goes! 

I see Brock about as often as his social life allows so I've decided "it's a stay" for now. 

When the subject of baggage comes up in a conversation I always declare "I travel lightly!"  A statement I make with pride from raising two wonderful sons who are now independent and successful and who, I just might add, live a minimalist lifestyle.  Both quite organized and not about clutter.  I mean...just look at this garage. Think my son learned the art of organization? 

But with a little soul searching and internal housekeeping, I know way down deep that I, like just about everyone else I know, lug around a bit of emotional baggage.  It's hard to let go and I know my life is filled with emotional "stuff", just like my orderly home may look neat but it's filled with material stuff that I just keep lugging around.  My home is my sanctuary and I know that I hold on to possessions because it is part of my feeling of security.  It's a place I WANT TO BE and a place I feel wants me.  If I say that out loud does that make it okay? 

So, from time to time, I ponder these thoughts.  If I let go of my material "stuff" will that leave empty spaces within me...empty spaces that I might not know how to fill or "square up?"

We've probably all had the sense of letting go and then BOOM, within days, we need the very thing we were thinking of discarding.  But I'm coming to the conclusion that if I don't let go of some of my "stuff" just because they are in their place, how in the world am I going to have room for the new "stuff"
to enter and become a part of my life...NOW?

With that said, my New Year's resolution is to "let go of some of the old in order to allow the new."  Material stuff equals a temporary attachment (although some of my things have been around 35 years) but I want to make certain I have plenty of space new things to come into my life! 

How wonderful would it be if every day we just leave our footprints?  Putting things in their places as soon as they are used...wouldn't your home look nice and orderly?  Would your mind feel a bit more squared up? 

Give it a try...begin putting away everything that you touch today...leave only footprints!

"Take Only Pictures. Leave Only Footprints."  ~ National Forests.



Barns, stables, leather, horses and the smell of oats and fresh hay bring back memories of my teenage and early adult years. While many of my friends find furry children of the smaller stature the ideal companion, I've always gravitated toward horses... big horses and when my Dad bought my second horse, the color red became a favorite. Big sorrel geldings are gorgeous creatures.  Secretariat, an American Thoroughbred born March 30, 1970 with the heart of a  champion, a dedicated non-human athlete, now some forty years later, has Disney telling his story to remind us all what a winner he was 37 years ago.  I treated myself to the movie of this Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Famer(1998) and yet one more time he did not disappoint me or, from the teary eyes and chatter after the movie, anyone else. As I walked into the darkened movie theatre, I made every attempt to erase my memory of those exciting days over 37 years ago when I watched Secretariat take the spotlight on a small television screen to begin a journey with a winning destination that no horse the preceding 25 years had captured. He was running for a landing place in the history books that no horse as yet surpassed.   It was a little difficult for me to detach emotions from the past with the historical facts, a lot which were left out, but it didn't dampen the spirit of the horse's story, nor the movie. Throughout the movie you could feel the bond between the owner and the horse - it was a powerful.   As was said more than once by his owner, " I am his voice" when dealing with the ever engaging journalists who wanted an inside look into his life. All the while, she was gracious, articulate and eloquent.  Diane Lane, who portrays Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy, with her emotional connection to the big red sorrel gelding who, in the early 70's grieving over the loss of her mother and not long thereafter, the loss of her father, Christopher Chenery set about, in a decidedly man's world, to take on the challenge of saving the family's farm, all the while multi-tasking a family of 5 in Denver.  Her father, a graduate of Randolph-Macon College and Washington and Lee University was an engineer. He bought Meadow Farm, near Richmond, Va., in 1932 where Secretariat was born.  Although records show Mr. Chenery as the official breeder of Secretariat, it was Penny Chenery who sent the family farm's mare, Something Royal, to be bred to Bold Ruler, twice.  The filly, The Bride, was the result of the first mating and Secretariat was the second breeding, in 1969. A tribute to Washington and Lee University:  The silks of the Meadow Farm were Royal Blue and White checkered. 
The cinematography was superb and a huge success with it's creativity and angles. You could almost feel the thundering pounds of the horses hooves and the breath of these beautiful creatures as they pushed hard and fast to the finish line. 
Secretariat was a 3-2 favorite over his competitor, Sham in the 1973 KENTUCKY DERBY and in his usual style, he broke last, moved up the track in the backstretch and pulled away to win the Derby by 2- 1/2 lengths.  The records show a still-standing track record of 1:59 2/5 with Secretariat running each quarter mile segment faster than the one before.  At the PREAKNESS STAKES, Secretariat made a huge, last-to-first move on his first turn, reaching the lead with 5-1/2 furlongs to go.  Another win by 2-1/2 lengths, again with his competitor, Sham, coming in second.  At the BELMONT STAKES there were only 5 thoroughbreds on the track for the Belmont Stakes on June 9, 1973.  It is here where CBS announcer Chic Anderson's voice describes this historical race:  "Secretariat is widening now! He is moving like a tremendous machine!" 
Yes, Secretariat finishes his journey at the BELMONT STAKES, where he wins the Triple Crown. 
Thank you, Disney, for bringing this personal story to the big screen. Thank you, Penny Chenery for your courage, perserverance and willingness to share. Thank you for allowing the unknowing to be a part of the suspense of this big red colt running away from the other horses as though nothing else mattered - he was in it for the ride. 

TAKE A PEAK:  http://video.yahoo.com/watch/7403736/19364387


Learning From the Little One

On the assumption that I am now all grown up, when I spend time with my grandson, Brock, I wonder what can I share with him, even at age one?  It turns out on my last trip to be with him, on a walk around the neighborhood, he was the teacher, even with the limited vocabulary of "Mama", "car" and "ball."   With the beginning of a weather change, or at least all us south Texas folks are hoping for a change from the triple digits, it was a beautiful morning, sun shining with a breeze. Brock loves outdoors and has since he was born.  I grabbed a bottle of Ozarka and sat him in his licensed wagon. He was ready to roll.  As I pulled him out of his driveway, he pointed south. It was as if he knew exactly where the playground was and so south we headed in his little Step2 Wagon for Two http://www.target.com/wagons , with its hidden compartment, cup holder, safety belt, along with his little rattle toy, just in case he got bored. Not a chance.  Even as a one year old, and with no preconceived judgments about the world, he was showing me how to just "be". He was to be the teacher...not me. It's one of those wonderful qualities of being a child.  Not knowing there are deadlines, goals or stresses. He was full of curiosity about everyone and everything. 
It seemed that every car that passed knew the wee one in the wagon.  He was fascinated with the lady riding the motorycycle...all in purple.  She stopped to chat for a moment and it appeared they were old friends.  No sense of fear, but rather fascinated with the mindless chatter of an adult relating to a child who is totally unself-conscious but full of emotional expressions.  Brock was teaching me a lesson.  He was enjoying the moment and looking at things with an open-mindness, a sense of spontaneity, curiosity, and an absolute delight of the world around him that we as adults frequently are unable to tune into.  As adults, we often times forget the playfulness that is there for our taking. The errands to the market, shopping to do, projects to complete and people to see...we forget about some of the more beautiful and simple things of life.  We forget the joy and playfulness within each of us.  As we made our way to the playground, there was a little girl and her grandmother playacting or being at the movie, serving popcorn and juice on the jungle gym she was using as a makeshift stage.  Brock was totally satisfied to sit and listen, watch her every move and I realized that for just a moment, his world was a magical place, not knowing what that little girl (or her grandmother on the jungle gym) was going to do next.  Seeing my grandson's delight and the simplicty of life, adds a sense of playfulness and wonderment that I've not experienced in a long time.  Looking at it, that Saturday morning, the way Brock was seeing the world, certainly made me realize that nothing in life is as serious as it might seem.    Enjoying that morning, integrating a sense of free spirit and a little fun, however, makes the world seem fresh and new...a new look at life and love and taking on a whole new attitude for all the beauty abound...through the eyes of a child.


Happy Friendship Day ~ Happy Birthday

Today begins the sixth decade of my life. For years, I thought the BIG BIRTHDAY would be the No. 50 but the chatter leading up to this birthday turned into major conversation, early on. I am particularly fond of "Sixty is the New Forty." To reaffirm this, I started giving away birthdays on my birthday. When receiving a birthday wish, I said "Happy Birthday to You, too." My son, Sam, quickly said: "Mom's it's not my birthday, its yours." I said: "Oh, I'm giving away birthdays so I can go backwards." He didn't want it, nor did he buy it. It was a great birthday day filled with well wishes from family and friends with smiles, hugs and kisses from my beautiful grandson, Brock. There was Lauren's signature soup (thank you, Sweet One), a delicious steak dinner, brunch, beautiful photography from one of Sam's many travels, little painted handprints and Yellow Box shoes from Steven, Lauren & Brock, not to count my many birthday cards. Love them all. Facebook brought me about 50 birthday wishes...it was awesome. Through FaceBook and e-mail, I am more in tune with what's going on in my friendship world. It's like a late afternoon stroll in the neighborhood, but on the computer. I stop by for a visit with childhood friends, former co-workers, neighbors and I've even made new friends on Facebook from South Africa and VA. Its like I've known GG, Mary and Jane for years. The connection with old friends and new through social networking has been gratifying, particularly since I've learned the communcation rules of "netiquette"(and definitely when NOT to communicate) in order to stay out of the EMOL (Embarrassing Mom on Line) zone. Initially, I wasn't fond of Facebook. On Day One, I had no idea what to do with the Hatchlings or Eggs or whatever it was that my dear friend, Gaynell, was sending me. Problem solver that I am, I thought I had to DO SOMETHING, with every thing sent me. I was quickly tutored by Sam: "Mom, you don't have to do anything with them." "Just enjoy." I've come to love the Hugs, Hearts and anything else someone takes the time to send my way. It's a quick "hello, how are you?" Fancy Nancy is even my friend and you have to be a very young mother or a very hip Nana to know Fancy Nancy. http://www.fancynancybooks.com/ ~ Just like "Fancy", Nancy is a Fantabulous Friend! My life becomes so hectic and it's so easy to take friendships for granted, even the very best of them, but Facebook provides me the chance, when everything is quiet and calm, to spend a moment seeing what's going on in the world of those I care about. I've been blessed with wonderful people in my life and Facebook returns me to my childhood days, with Texas City friends and neighbors. I always knew what my neighbor, Sandee, was doing. Sandee was 2 years older than me and I thought she was the coolest kid on the block (well, except for the gorgeous guy down the street, Sonny; but hey, I was only 12, he was 15 and I adored how he called me "Mullet" when we played baseball. Well, he hit the ball and I chased it for him). Sandee could wear eye shadow, drive her Mom's car and she took me anywhere I wanted to go, within reason. I was a mere baby sitter for my siblings, Janell, Dwain & Karla, who I love dearly, but when I learned to drive I parked them in the floorboard of the backseat if they absolutely had to go somewhere with me. Sandee and I shared everything as giggly girls. We laughed together and fretted together over everything. There was a period when we disconnected and I wondered about her often. From 1968 until a few short months ago we were not in contact. Now via Facebook we are doing our best to catch up and stay connected. A bit later in "teenagedom" there was Phyllis, Jana, Gaynell, Jane, Cathy, Sue and what one didn't think of...well, the other did. I thought it was a LOT OF FUN when we all decided to go platinum pretending to be who...Marilyn Monroe? Well, Cathy, I don't think you were there that night and besides...who would want to change that beautiful red hair? All beautiful friends and all beautiful women. THEN and NOW.
Like other kids, we questioned who we would be and what we would be doing when we grew up and it seemed it wasn't happening fast enough. Now, I wish time had not gone so fast. I know I was always questioning my final stopping place in life. As I reminsce, I see the highs and lows and the ebb and flow of how my role has changed but always staying true to myself, no matter what the role. That has been the positive in my life. Just when I think I am settled in one role in my life...BOOM, it changes...for the better. I'm grounded in the truth of who I am and what my role in life is and I'm content. I've learned to take on the new role with enthusiasm and with FAITH that the new role will bring a fresh look at life and a better understanding of the lives of those I love and care about. Faith is important in family and friendships and it's an important part of shared trust. It is our unconditional loyalty that enables people we care about to know they can trust placing confidence in us and our word. If someone knows they can count on you during tough times, they know they can count on you when stressors are less but life events are no less important. Love you Jammie, and thank you for all the loyalty and listening you've done over the last 15 years :-). Hugs to you, Sallie, for all the tears you dried with unconditional love. Carol, you are so very special to me. You've stood by me with laughter and you were there during the losses.
It's easy to be drawn into spending time with a needy friend who demands companionship but drains you, emotionally and mentally. My choice...I pass. I believe friendship isn't something in your mind...friendship is your actions. It's not whether you are good or bad...it's what you do. It's about people changing, whether it's roles or attitudes. It's when that change occurs that you find a trust and connection at deep level with a friend. All the physical stuff isn't much to depend on, that's just surface. If you're trying to change someone...well, that's not friendship...that is coercion. I am grateful for all my friends no matter where or how they came into my world.

There are big ships and there are little ships. But the best ship is Friendship.

~Author Unknown

Happy Friendship Day ~ The 1st Sunday in August ~ US Congress, 1935


A Spring to My Step; Sunshine to My Heart

My Little Sunshine who warms my Heart. Brock @ 8 months.


Through the Winter & Into Sunshine

I am so ready for the sunshine and warm weather. Today I came home and my Mt. Laurel was blooming with a glimpse of the sunshine coming through. It was amazing and I wanted it to last forever. Mt. Laurel grown from a pod in 1995, now 3' tall and blooms :-) I realize for the not-native-born Texans this has almost been a Winter Wonderland with the below 30's temperatures and even snow at times. This winter has been a long period of darkness, lacking sunshine and I think everyone is ready for the temperature to warm with no more freezes. As for me, well, I'm from the Galveston area, I'm a sun baby. Bring on the 90 degrees + temperatures. The sun energizes me to move around outside and square up with Mother Nature once more. I've been gardening since I can remember. Always putzing with my Mama Rush in her HUGE yard, with her garden of vegetables, Dewberry vines, Tomato plants, Day Lillies, Hollyhocks, Pink Roses and Forget Me Nots. Mother Nature has always been good for my soul...Dirty Hands, Happy Heart. I have spent a lot of time in the library pouring through every book on South Texas shrubs and natives and taking classes to improve my gardening skills with Bob Wesbster at Shades of Green. It has helped my gardening and my adjustment from a very humid area (Galveston County) where you can grow ferns and oleanders (but oh no, don't try that in San Antonio, TX) to the almost every - year drought in South Texas. When the trees are green, their canopies trimmed to let the sun shine through and the newly planted bedding plants are blooming, all is well with my corner of the world. This past winter it felt like we would never see the sun shine but I realize we are quite blessed not to have blizzards roar in...I think they were calling them "snowicanes" or some such (snow + hurricanes) up east but as most of my friends and family know, anything below 70 degrees is freezing to me. During those (supposed) 282 sun-shiny days in South Texas (yep, I read up on the data when I moved here in 1995) we should all remember that even during the darkest days of winter the sun is shining somewhere to bring sunlight to others and it soon will shine on us. I grew my Mt. Laurel from a pod just like Bob Webster tells everyone on his gardening show every year. My gardens were neglected this past year save and except the weekly ritual of mowing and tidying up. Actually, my entire lawn was left to survive on its on while I worked and traveled 4 days a week but my Mt. Laurel has stuck by my side and it's showing off it's beautiful blooms in spite of the neglect. On a hill country drive, you can see Mt. Laurels in the middle of bare acreage and perhaps it is because they are such survivors that I admire them. This year is its second annual bloom as if to defy Mother Nature with her rain, sleet and snow to bloom in spite of the harsh weather and my neglect. It took on the erratic winter weather and said "Gotta Go With The Flow". "Go With The Flow". Hmmmm. I was recently told that I didn't "Go With The Flow". It was a shock to me when I think I do just that by navigating the choppy waters I travel in to get through my every day life; hectic, chaotic, and a bit of a frenzy at times. From the time I wake and throughout the day I show up, work hard knowing I'm not lazy (any more than the Mt. Laurel that bloomed in spite of the crazy weather) and do my best to blend my positive energy with those that may be procrastinators, lazy, not in attendance and generally just unmotivated. They seem to have trouble just getting by day to day with little happiness and definitely not spreading sunshine and happiness. Someone else's perception, of course... me "not going with the flow". My perception is that no matter where I am navigating in the waters, I am always willing to let go of my oars, throw over the baggage, change direction and be aware of the needs of others around me to help us get through the choppy waters safely and intact. I enjoy tapping into other people's sunshine and let them tap into mine. By doing that... BOOM we can take our energy and "Flow" with it, letting it take us where we need to go. But we're all entitled to our own perception. So like the Mt. Laurel, I'm going to continue to go with my flow, stand tall and make every attempt to bloom in the lives of others; hopefully, bringing a bit of sunshine along the way. May your spring be filled with the Seeds of Hope, Lots of Sunshine and Beautiful Blooms. ~ Babs


JANUARY 28, 1977

January 28th is a special day to me and it has been since I was 24 years old and my second child, Samuel, (photo above) was born at 7:35 a.m. Today will be a day of celebration of his 32nd birthday. I am the proud Mom of this kind and thoughtful son who has grown into a successful and talented man. His skills and abilities continue to surprise me...I mean where did he ever learn to cook? Just his ability alone with the game Catch a Phrase declares everyone wanting him to be on their team. I'm not a gourmet cook and my kitchen has been closed since he started Baylor University except for one period this past year. Currently, his Facebook Friend List is at least 300...and I am referring to the most quiet student in his high school class. Perhaps Baylor University and the fraternity he joined helped him with that shyness...you think? Whatever it was that grew him into such an articulate and generous individual...well I am thankful. Sam's 9th's birthday was memorable but sad to many Americans and I don't even remember there being a birthday celebration that year. Sorry, Sam. Americans had traveled into space over 50 times in the previous 25 years and as happens too often, Americans became complacent with lift-offs. This was going to be different and many women were excited that Christa McAuliffe, a spirited high school teacher, was to be the first citizen to be lifted off into space. It was truly a celebration. I was at work in Houston early that morning and much like the JFK assasination, I remember exactly where I was when I heard that this new beginning was going to last just over a minute. Many of us at work were watching the launch in the conference room on a very small tv (this was 1986 after all) when anticipation turned into disbelief and then to horror and seven of our beloved astronauts with Christa on board disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean. It was 2 or 3 years before we were to fly into space again...grounded until the National Air and Space Administration was ultimately blamed by the government. It was a cold day and as I've researched, the O-rings failed, releasing a flame that caused the rocket's main fuel tank to ignite and the mission was no more. The Challenger was on it's 10th mission. No more celebrations for the Challenger. Just a few 1977 tidbits: Elvis died at age 42 (I remember exactly where I was when I heard that message) and I think my brother believes he is still alive and well in Memphis :). You could buy a bikini for about $8.96 and a BMW cost $8,000 with gasoline at 65 cents per gallon. Life as we know it...ever growing and changing. Happy Birthday, Samuel.


THE GIFT OF TIME by Beverly Beckham

You can't wrap some presents in a box. But what if you could? By Beverly Beckham and http://www.grandparents.com/ The letter arrived a few weeks before Christmas, when my children were young. "Give Time to family and friends," it said. "Time is the ideal gift." The letter was referring to Time the magazine, of course, not the real thing. But what if you could give time, I wondered. What if you could wrap it in silver and tie it with a red satin bow and present it to the people you love? Fantasy. Pure conjecture. Yet wonderful to consider. I imagined collecting time, packing years in a box for a daughter then 14, who, when she looked in a mirror, saw all that she thought was wrong with her. Time would give her a peek into the future, of the woman she would become — bright and witty and beautiful. I fantasized about saving time for my son, collecting his boyhood and packing it away so that when he was a man and encumbered by a man’s responsibilities, he would be able to live again those days when life’s biggest problem was where to play baseball. I dreamed of freezing time for my youngest child, stopping the days from marching past, not for her sake but for mine. I didn't want her to ever outgrow my lap. To give time for Christmas. Would that we could. I'd relive this time: "Want to skip school today? Go to the beach?" My older kids say, "No! Are you crazy? It's December. It's too cold for the beach." But the youngest runs upstairs to get her shovel and mittens. We search for sea glass and chase seagulls. "I wish I could fly," she whispers dreamily. "But you might fly away and not come back," I say, hugging her. "No, Mommy," she says, hugging back. "I would never leave you." She did leave me, of course. That's what children do. This child who climbed on my lap has two children now. My son is a 40-year-old man with two children of his own. The then 14-year-old is a beautiful woman with a daughter of her own. And my husband and I are now doting, over-the-moon, let-me-tell-you-about-my-grandchildren grandparents. Give Time, the letter said. My grandchildren are 6 and 5 and 2 and nine months and I think that now, this time, is so perfect that there's no wishing it backward or forward. I'd wrap it in silver and tie it with a red satin bow if I could. To enjoy it now but save it for another Christmas, too. For this is the real gift of time — that it passes, but it also stays. That we can go back. That we never really lose what is gone. My grandson, Brock. 5 mos. Happy Holidays ~ Babs



Thanksgiving, 2003 my Mother surprised our large family with a Circle of Thanksgiving... asking each of us to take a moment and give thanks. I'll never forget the thanks given by each member of my family. It was especially poignant because it was my Mother's last Thanksgiving with us. I miss my mother very much but Thanksgiving is especially difficult...she was the glue of our family and our Thanksgiving meal was a time we all came together for a wonderful day of grace and fellowship (well, most of the time). Her meal would usually feed at least 100. I never fully appreciated all the effort and energy she put into that meal until she was gone. I do now that I try, with great difficulty, to mimic her recipes or those of her mother or sister. I find myself, every year, calling my aunt, cousin and my sister asking "how do I do this and how do I do that", not to count the constant browsing of the internet to figure exactly how to do a special request. Listen up all mothers...write your recipes down today and pass them along to your children. They will be so thankful. I even cornered Ms. Rosa at work, not once, but twice to double check how to do the dressing. Thanksgiving 2003, Mother had each of us give individual thanks. It melted my heart to hear how each family member was thankful for the other and especially heartwarming to hear the gratitude my sons bestowed upon me and how I had impacted their lives. On morning talk show this week I heard a woman say that she was thankful for EVERY SINGLE day she put her feet on the floor and grateful there was a day to celebrate it with pumpkin pie, her favorite! So, as I start my day I will give thanks but for now, I want to express some of the things for which I am grateful. Things that I never want to take for granted...some that make my life a wonderful place, some that simplify my life and some that make my life run more smoothly. For all, I am grateful. 1. My sons, Steven and Sam. Steven, especially for finding Lauren the most beautiful daughter-in-awe and now wonderful new mother to my grandson, Brock...Daddy, is it Game Time, Yet?

Steven, Lauren and Brock. He's in there somewhere. 2. My family "back home." I wish we saw each other more.

3. My faith. It is always with me.

4. My health and the doctors who help me stay healthy. Dr. B., you are the best!

5. Crayolas, colored pens, glue, stickers and paper. I still love to cut, paste, stamp and glue.

6. The sunrise. "May the great mystery make sunrise in your heart." ~ Old Indian Saying Every morning on my way to work it's interesting to see the sun rise. On foggy days like this past week, it plays hide-n-seek with the clouds.

7. A good book and my fireplace. And then the good book that becomes a great movie.

8. The scent of my home and the coziness of my bed. My home is my safe haven.

9. Pink roses, my favorite!

10. Photos that capture so many moments, places, memories AND the friends who take them and share them with me.

11. Computers...and they keep getting cheaper, lighter and faster. Love my new screaming fast HP! Thank you, my HP son, for making the right one arrive here!

12. Mani's and Pedi's...thank you , Jenny.

13. My newly acquired taste for red wine, especially Conconan 2005. It's sooo smooth.

14. Baseball. It's the Sign of Spring.

15. Small mistakes. "Mistakes are a fact of life. It's the response to the error that counts." ~ Nikki Giovanni

16. Online bill pay. Though it is fun to see the little 5x7 envelopes arrive at work.

17. My "binky" for tired shoulders.

18. I'm grateful for Spellcheck...now if I can just master Excel!

19. The smell of new shoes, the look of new shoes, just NEW SHOES!

20. Matinee movies and eating movie popcorn WHEN the movie begins!

21. Chunky peanut butter. Smooth peanut butter. Organic, of course.

22. The smell of a new baby. I Love You Brock... Nana.

23. Falling into bed after a long productive day. "A well-spent day means happy sleep." ~Leonardo Da Vinci

24. Handwritten thank you cards. "Thou that hast given so much to me, give me one thing more, a grateful heart." ~George Herbert

25. My inner peace. "It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness." ~ C H Spurgeon

26. Oatmeal and brown sugar on Sunday mornings.

27. A "smize" from a little brown eyed girl, named Myla, who smiles at you with big beautiful brown eyes that gaze at you, hence; "Smize". At age two she warms your heart with those beautiful eyes and makes you proud with every new word and adventure. Myla's sweet kisses are treasured.

28. My happiness. "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." ~Abraham Lincoln

29. My hairdryer. Whatever did we do without them. Maybe no swimming, PAnn?

30. My dependable, sturdy, reliable Yukon. We've seen so much together.

31. My iPhone. How did I ever function without it?

33. My feelings, my emotions, my heart. "Feelings are much like waves, we can't stop them from coming but we can choose which ones to surf. ~Jonatan Martensson.

34. My friends, near and far though it has taken me many years to learn the value of a good girlfriend...I've got it now and "it's a good thing." My friend, my neighbor...love you, Sharon. And my neighbors on Farmtown, too. It's been fun to reconnect with friends from my past on FaceBook because they have re-entered my present.

35. I'm grateful for headlights in my driveway...it means someone special is here to visit. Black vehicles have extra special meaning...

As I spend my Thanksgiving Day, I will take notice of all the abundance in my life, the good things in my life...the things that make my life run smoothly and how many small miracles happen throughout the day... a baby's laughter, extended families who love each other and create Hallmark moments, laughter and good food. I want to feel that moment of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day for the basic fact that one more time, the sun has risen, it brightens my day and it will hold me tight...safe and warm like a big hug. As Princess Diana said "Hugs are free, you can never have too many."

May All The Good Things In Your Life Be in Abundance! Happy Thanksgiving.