Everybody out of the pool! Oh, never mind. You're having too much fun.
I love being a grandma. Of course, when Nanahood first found me I wasn't ready. I was way to young to be a grandmother! But now I'm glad I became a grandmother at a young age because I have (well, almost) enough energy to keep up with my granddaughters. Every year we take some special grandmother-granddaughter time together and call it Nana Camp. (An idea I shamelessly stole from my friend Debbie Macomber.) This week during spring break we were off to the ocean. The weather wasn't the best, but here in the Pacific Northwest we never let a little thing like the weather bother us. (As you can see by the smiling faces at the community pool.) In addition to swimming and cookie baking and playing games, we also had a short morning Bible study. That was how the days began and they always ended with a movie. I can now say that I have seen "Hotel Transylvania". Ah, life is good. And even more fun when Gerhardt can join the party, which he did on our last day. Then it was time for more company. And more rain. But hey, all that moisture is good for your skin, right? Right!
This year's cake was ringed with peeps.
I love Easter! I love the message of salvation, resurrection, and hope. For years I was in charge of the music at church and then getting the family Easter dinner pulled together. But we moved and now are at a new church where all I have to do is show up. And the same goes for dinner. My longsuffering son-in-law has taken over that particular holiday dinner. Now all I have to do is bring the cake to decorate and the candy to hide. And not only do I get out of having to make the meal, I get to take home the ham bone for split pea soup. How cool is that?!
One of the highlights of the afternoon for my daughter and me is hiding those eggs. We not only hide them for the kids. We hide them for the big boys, too. (The guys have their goodies tucked inside "dinosaur eggs" - bigger, natuHere are Gerhardt and my son-in-law proudly displaying their girlie baskets full of goodies. My daughter and I love watching two grown men running around the yard looking for plastic eggs full of candy. But we also like to hunt for goodies, so we've decided that next year the boys are going to have to hide some goodies for us.
How about you? Do you have a fun Easter tradition?
I'm usually pretty good with words, but it's hard for me to describe how I feel when one of my brain babies hits the shelves. Thrilled? Yes. Proud. Absolutely. Nervous? For sure. (Will readers love my brainchild as much as I do? Will reviewers trash it?) Excited. I can hardly wait to talk about this book and the idea behind it with readers! So, today I didn't win the lottery, I didn't achieve world peace, I didn't even get invited to be on "Dancing with the Stars" but I'm still one happy camper because I'm celebrating a birthday of a new book that I love. So happy birthday WHAT SHE WANTS, which is officially for sale today. I think I need to make a cake! Hmmm. What kind should I make?
Hiking in "Icicle Falls" (Leavenworth, WA) with the girls.
I just had the Game Girls over this last week and it got me to thinking about how rich I am. Game Girls? You may be wondering what I'm talking about. Let me explain. This group has been together for eight years. Originally there were eight of us. We'd meet once a month, have lunch and then spend the afternoon playing games. After our first couple of years together we started taking a yearly weekend girls' trip in April, which we dubbed "Enchanted April". Now, sadly we're down to five. Two have moved away to other states and our dear friend, Rosemary, made a more permanent move to heaven, just this last month. We miss them all! These friends have been there for each other through all of life's ups and downs, and I love them dearly. When my friend Jill Barnett or I have a book signing they show up to support us, wearing their fancy boas.
I also have my church friends who pray with me when I'm going through hard times, my lifelong friends from grade school with whom I have so many memories, my dancing buddies, my foodie group, my old college gang, and my pals in the neighborhood. Then, of course, there are my writing buddies. We've seen each other through more career ups and downs than I can count! So many amazing women who make my life special!
Chocolate festival at Moclips, WA.
I think, sometimes, guys don't get the importance of girlfriends. They don't tell each other everything the way we do. They don't get why we all must go to the ladies room together. They don't understand why we meddle in each others business. But we get it. And we need it! So, here's to the girls. If you've got girlfriends, you are truly rich!
What about you? What special things do you do with your girlfriends?
Pit stop and puppy-petting break.
Oh, did I have fun this weekend at the Washington coast! The town of Moclips sponsors a yearly chocolate festival, and this year I hauled down some girlfriends to help me get a good dose of "Vitamin C" (And if you need that explained to you you're not a true chocoholic!)
We enjoyed sampling the wares of several chocolatiers and saw demonstrations on how make truffles, chocolate soup and chocolate churros. Yum! Here we are on the road.
My friend Jan wore her "chocolate" shirt in honor of the occasion.
Can you tell we're having fun?! Notice the sign in back of us. Non wonder we're all smiling.
I've got to say, I love Valentine's Day. I loved it even as a kid - looked forward to those class Valentine's Day parties where you exchanged cheap cards and ate little candy hearts with important messages on them like "Kiss me" and "Be mine." (Of course, these days they say even more important things like "Tweet me.") By the way, did you know that those candy hearts have been around since the civil war?
But enough about candy hearts and childhood. That's not what I really wanted to share. I wanted to share my lovely Valentine card. As you can see in the picture, it's not from my husband. It's from my brother, Sam.
Several years ago, Sam, out of the blue, sent me a Valentine card. It was so sweet and I was touched. And then, to my surprise, he did it again the following year. And again! Well, you know, if you do something more than twice it becomes a tradition, and this certainly has. In fact, last year my Valentine almost didn't get here in time and I was worried. Where was it? Had my big brother forgotten? It turned out that he hadn't and the card made it to me just in time. Happy sigh.
Today I saw that pink envelope in my mail box and was as delighted as if someone had sent me Godiva chocolate. (Hint, hint, Gerhardt.) It's only a card. One little card. But for me that card carries a huge message. I love you. Even though we're miles apart I'm thinking about you. It simply made my day to know my big brother had thought of me.
So what about you? Is there someone in your life who would be lifted by one small, kind gesture? Maybe a plate of cookies or a card left on their doorstep? A phone call? An e-card? Small kindnesses can have a big impact. At least they do on me! Maybe I'm just a sucker that way. Or maybe I have a really cool bro.
Thanks, Sam, for making my day in a big way.
I did such a fun thing last Saturday. I went to see my oldest brother compete in a vocal competition at a local college. Now, my brother is almost twenty years older than me, a senior citizen, but here he was, competing against college kids. Let me tell you, he's still got the pipes. And he looked so handsome in his suit! I was blown away.
Partly by his performance, yes. But mostly by his life. By the fact that he's not letting a little thing like age stop him from doing something he loves. That he's still living a full, active life. That he's so loved that the classroom where he was singing was packed with family and friends, all rooting for him.
My brother is an amazing man. He's a real life George Bailey and boy, would Frank Capra have loved to meet him! This man not only gave up a glam music career to raise five kids but he and his wife took in countless foster children over the years. Their house at the holidays is packed, and not just with family. (My sister-in-law buys 4 turkeys at Thanksgiving for all the meals she cooks!) Anyone who's going to be alone is drawn in and made to feel welcome.
As I watched my big brother sing I couldn't help but think, I want to be like that. He's my hero.
Due to work and travel restrictions we wound up delaying our Christmas until January this time. But it was well worth waiting for!
I think this was one of my family's more memorable holidays. Money was tight for all the kids so we got creative and made it all about having fun together. You may be looking at the picture on the left and thinking, what kind of weird fun is that? Crazy fun would be the answer. Here you see my son and son-in-law playing a crazy game called "Are you there Moriarity?" It involves blindfolds and whacking each other with rolled up newspapers. Someone gave my son-in-law an advantage and let him have a cardboard roll that had held wrapping paper. Sadly, his advantage didn't help. He lost.
This was part of some "jousting" in which everyone was trying to win a stuffed toy dragon I scrounged earlier in the year from my pal Jill Barnett. All those wanting to compete for the dragon also had to thumb wrestle. After all this craziness we settled down to serious business - playing the game of "Life" which I had found at Goodwill earlier in the year. I did not end up in millionaire acres but, like I told the family, this year it wasn't about things. Who needs to be a millionaire anyway? With my great family and friends I'm already rich.
When it comes to cookies, these are about as decadent as you can get.
It all started when my daughter was in grade school. We made bonbons for her teachers every year. And then for family members. And then... suddenly it was getting harder to find the ingredients we needed. And those Bonbons were really labor intensive. Soooo, we switched to Andes Mint cookies. (You can find the recipe on the recipe page.) Still a little labor intensive but nothing like those Bonbons! Well, now my daughter has daughters and we're still baking Andes mint cookies at Christmas. The work crew has just grown by two. What a fun holiday tradition. I love getting to hand out with the girls and do this. And I'm hoping someday my daughter will be doing it with her granddaughters. What's your holiday tradition?
Sooo, I just happened to mention a favorite painter, Stewart Moskowitz in my novel BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE, and, lo and behold, one day I got a nice email from him, thanking me for the mention. He also offered to send me a copy of his adorable children's book, TOO-LOOSE THE CHOCOLATE MOOSE. How cool is that?
I was not only delighted with this thoughtful gift but really thrilled to hear from someone whose work I admire.
So, what's the purpose of this little anecdote (besides to share something fun that happened to me)? Well, I'm not sure, except to say that I think a great life isn't necessarily composed of huge, earth-shaking events, but small blessings and kindnesses, moments to smile, moments to laugh. Mr. Moskowitz has given me a lot of smiles, first with the print of one of his paintings that hangs in my hall, and second with taking time to write me. The book was icing on the cake. Hope I can do some small thing to make someone smile today. How about you?
By the way, you can find the 30th anniversary edition of Stewart's book on Amazon. If you're interested, here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Too-Loose-Chocolate-Moose-Anniversary-Edition/dp/0985146710/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356110617&sr=8-1&keywords=Too+Loose+the+Chocolate+Moose