Family Fun Night

I don't know about you and your family, but MY BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY just LOVES games!
From the oldest to well...almost the youngest (since we do have a few babies) everybody loves playing games.  And I have a cabinet full of them and have also begun to collect children's games as well.

 One of things my crew love to play is card games.  Y'all, these card games could go on forever!  And they have gone on until late at night.  But, oh what fun is had at the table with a handful of people and a deck of cards!
My favorite game is Mexican Train Dominoes.  If you have never played this game then you need to!  It is a domino game with a little different twist and is so much fun.  Often times if we start it too late in the evening we will just leave everything where it is and continue the next day.
One of the newer games that my son brought us to play is called, Ticket To Ride.  This game requires a little more strategy but everybody loves playing it.

      Pick-Up Sticks!  Do you remember that game as a kid?  Well, it's still as fun as ever.
And my little kiddos are really into playing games right now with this classic version of Candy Land being their absolute favorite!

Family game or movie nights are not only fun but also a great way of bonding with your family.  In this day and time, people are so busy with their personal lives and outside commitments that often times family moments and memory making get left by the wayside.  And honestly, that is quite sad.  These are the moments that you will all remember.  And so I challenge YOU to make an effort to spend more time with your family doing fun things!  Perhaps set up a monthly family night where everyone takes turns bringing their favorite game to play.  And while the adults are enjoying a game,  dim the lights and put a movie on for the kids.  Give them popcorn in little bags and recreate the theatre experience in you own home.  And if you need a little help choosing a great movie for them, head on over to PureFlix. There you will find literally thousands of wholesome movies for every age.
They also offer educational videos for homeschool curriculum.  Check it out here!


So... unplug for the evening!  Yep, get off of those cell phones and social media; they can do without you for one evening.  Just spend an evening reconnecting with your family; talk, laugh and get to know what's going on in each other's lives while enjoying a FAMILY FUN NIGHT of game playing!


     




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Fun Educational Kid Activities

I was first introduced to education.com back in July whenever I posted about a great educational summer activity for your kiddos.  I was so impressed with this site and all of the great resources it provides for not only educators, but also traditional and home-schooling parents as well.  And as a former educator myself, I know how important it is to keep students interested in learning with games, puzzles and any other variety of learning materials.  So today I would like to share a cute little  ocean-themed crossword puzzle (and key) with you to share with your little ones!


Under the sea what could it be?  Make a spelling splash with this fun ocean-themed crossword puzzle.  
There are so many more great activities you can find on Education.com.  You can browse the site by activity, grade, subject and lots more!  There are even lesson plans for educators to peruse.  Teachers will love that there are so many activities to choose from that will enhance almost any learning unit and students are sure to love you for choosing something that makes learning fun.  Explore more         
spelling fun at Education.com!

 






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God Gives Us Seasons of Rest To Prepare for the Storms

I don't believe in coincidence.  I believe that God knows all. And He knows it before it ever happens. This past summer Hubby and I spent the month of May in Summerland, Key. It was the best and most relaxing time I think we've ever had on a trip. First, we had never spent an entire month doing whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it. In 35 years of marriage. So that,  in and of itself, was a wonderful experience. We spent our days just piddling. He on his boat and I painting. Every day had a boat ride in it and in the evenings we would usually cook our catch of the day and watch movies. It was lazy, sun-filled days. Days I will always cherish. But now that I'm in a different season of life; one where the days are much more difficult with my mother, I realize He had that season of rest planned for me. A season of rest before the storm. So that I could handle the storm.

Some days I don't think I'm handling this season of life well.  It's almost like parenting again. I check with the nurses on the progress of my mother. How is she that day?  Do any issues, such as medications need to be addressed?  Has she been resting OK?  All of these things have become a part of my routine.  And then I make my way to my mother's room.  I walk in and greet her and almost immediately know how the visit will turn out.  Some days she is in pain and miserable so I attempt to make her comfortable. It usually doesn't work, but I try. Some days she's confused. And between dozing will ask me the same questions over and over. I answer them as many times as she asks.  And some days, very rare days now, her mind is clear. And we can talk, have a conversation like old times. But these days are far and few between. That's just how it is. It's her season of life. And she knows enough to know she doesn't like it. I don't like it for her. But "It is what it is."  

My mother doesn't feed herself any more so when I'm there I feed her.  What a humbling experience that has been. And I've had to help them turn her to treat her bed sores. I've seen them. I didn't necessarily want to see them but I had to. And I've been there to turn her and hold her hand while they are changing her diaper. At first, I think this was the worst part.  It wasn't because of the actual changing but because it was at that point that I knew the season in my life had really changed. And she knew hers had changed too. Because she didn't want to be in the shape she's in.  But she knew there was no other choice. There was no going back. 

Hubby and I have had this Alaskan cruise planned for a year. At that time who knew what would be going on?  But the time has come for the trip so off we go. While in the back of my mind is my mother. I've made arrangements for my oldest son to check on her, call me if there is a need.  My sister will be here too since we have been taking turns seeing our mother every other day. Am I apprehensive about leaving?  You bet!  But God knew. He knew whenever we decided to take this trip what season of life I would be in. He knew that I would need a chance to slow down and catch my breath. So I will bask in the knowledge that God is sovereign and He will take care of me in this and every season of my life. 

"To everything there is a season and time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Alaska Bound!

A couple of years ago whenever we were on our river cruise around France, our group of travelers began talking about getting together for another trip.  After the attacks on Paris while we were there our last couple of days, Hubby voiced his concerns about traveling out of the country again.  Well, actually what he said was, "I'm not going anywhere out of this country!"  It was a traumatic experience so I wasn't feeling very good about leaving the good old USA either.  SO...we came up with taking an Alaskan cruise!  We will be traveling with some of the same people from the last trip along with a few new ones for a total of around 16 people.  We will be leaving Thursday for Dallas and then heading to Seattle (another place I have never had the chance to visit!) on Friday and spending the day exploring there.  Saturday we will be leaving on the cruise ship and I look forward to sharing some of my photos on my Instagram account (Follow me @barbararogenmoser).  I will not be posting on the blog until I return so if you just want a little preview of my photos of Seattle and Alaska then hop on over there!  I'll see ya back here the 1st week of October with lots of fun things to share about our next adventure!
                                                                        Bon Voyage!
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Fun Conversation Starters for Any Occassion

When I was approached by gifts.com again to write for them I was so happy!  Because, y'all, these people have the BEST IDEAS on their blog.  Last week I shared their post about "Age Appropriate Toys"(Which SO many of you LOVED!) and around Mother's Day I shared a post that included my story of "Mom's Most Embarrassing Moments".  But this week I'm REALLY loving their post about Conversation Starters!

How many times have you showed up at a party or dinner and everyone is so reserved and often times it takes quite a while before people start to open up and feel comfortable enough to talk to each other?  Well, that is exactly why I LOVE this post so much!  You will learn how to make a conversation jar and there are 225 actual conversation starters for virtually any situation!  Kids, teens, couples, dinner party, funny, serious and many more.   And the BEST thing is...They are giving you a FREE DOWNLOAD  for ALL of them!  Yep, so what you need to do now is click HERE to start your next event off with more fun than you could imagine! (Below is an example of some of the fun conversation starters you will see in this post).

Funny Conversation Starters

These conversations starters are good for people young and old! They are sure to spark some creative answers, get the group laughing and bring back some hilarious memories.
  • If you were in a circus, which character would you be?
  • What is the worst advice you have given?
  • What is one thing you should never say at a wedding?
  • What is the worst pickup line you have ever heard?
  • If you could only store one type of food in your pocket, what would you carry?
  • What is the worst present you have ever received and why?
  • If you were a farm animal, which would you be and why?
  • What is the worst first date you have ever been on?
  • Have you ever stalked someone on social media?
  • What is the best part about taking a selfie?
  • What is your favorite celebrity scandal?
  • If you could do anything illegal without getting caught, what would you do?
  • What is the weirdest food combination you’ve ever tried?
  • Did you have an imaginary friend? What was his/her name?
  • Have you ever had a dream where everyone was in their underwear?
  • Who’s your favorite comedian?
  • Have you ever been on a blind date?
  ***Click HERE to read the entire post and DOWNLOAD ALL "225 Conversation Starters"!***
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Paperless Post Halloween Invitations

If you have never hear of Paperless Post then you are in for a treat!  I have partnered with them to introduce you to the NEW way of inviting people to your gatherings.  Online Invitations are the way to go these days with everyone using electronics more than ever.  It is not only convenient but also environmentally friendly since not all of that paper is being used for invitations and envelopes.  But I'm sure you are wondering just how Paperless Post works and if they are even really as cute as the ones you can send by snail mail.  Well, I was asked to try this modern method out for myself and see what I thought about it.

I decided since it was close to Halloween (and I REALLY love Halloween!) that I would choose an invitation for that holiday.  I went to the SITE and in the search bar entered "Halloween".  Up popped a huge variety of Halloween invitations!  Truly, there were so many it was difficult to decide on one.  The first thing I did was to create an account.  Once that was completed I could purchase COINS to pay for my cards.

 I decided on THIS invitation because I thought my little ones would like it and it wasn't too scary for them.  The first thing I chose was to make an online card that the cost started at 1 COIN per recipient.  To make a paper card (yes, there is that option too) the cost was $1.65 per card.  I then clicked on customize to change the information on the invitation to my own.  There are all sorts of options for the text such as:  formatting, typefaces and color.  I entered my personalized information and then continued on to the next step.
 The envelope and liner was chosen next.  Different colors could be chosen for the outside of the envelope and different designs for the liner.  Once again, there were so many choices!  I decided to go with the orange and black because those said, "Halloween" to me.  I didn't use a backdrop with my invitation but there were many festive ones that could be used. 
 Next, I moved on to the envelope front.  There were all sorts of stamps and postmarks that could be attached to the envelop here and, of course, I chose a Halloween one!  I chose my typeface and color by clicking on the envelope.  Orange was the perfect color for this envelope!  The next step took me to the reply card option.  If a reply card is chosen, there are many options of both design and wording to make it your own.  Finally, it was time to create the event page.  This is where the date, time, guest list, phone number, comment wall and guest registry can be set up for your event.  Your invitation can  be previewed before it's sent and then you begin adding the email addresses where they will be sent.  Don't forget to look  in the upper right corner of your computer screen to see how many coins you will be charged for each invitation!  Before you hit SEND, you can have a TEST INVITATION sent to yourself to see how it looks.  If everything looks OK, just press SEND!
Once your invitations have been sent, all you have to do is wait for the RSVP's to start coming in!  You can keep up with who has responded to your invitation by going to your post box

WOW!  I wasn't sure how I would like creating an invitation online because I have attempted to navigate other sites and they were a bit complicated.  Paperless Post, however, was very user friendly and I feel like I not only created a cute, personalized invitation but I also have everything about my event located in one place.  What a wonderful new way to create invitations, birthday cards, save-the-dates, wedding invitations and even holiday cards!  I know that I will be using Paperless Post quite a lot, myself! 


***Disclosure:  I was compensated for creating this post to show you just how fun and easy it can
                          be to plan your next event.***



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Take Your Dream Trip With the Help of Earnest

It's no secret that I LOVE to travel.  It has always been my desire to see the world a little at a time and that is what I have been trying to do for many years now.  It wasn't until my 25th wedding anniversary that I got to travel to Europe, Italy specifically.  To say that I was truly enamored with the old country would be an understatement.  There was absolutely nothing that I did not like about my trip there and I tried to soak every moment up so that I would have memories forever.  This trip did not quell,  but only intensified,  my wanderlust and a couple of years ago I found myself touring France with my husband and a group of friends.  Travel can be attainable to you as well with the help of financial leaders like Earnest, who inspire you to dream big and let you make it happen!


If you had $10,000 available for your dream trip, could you do it?  Travel to places you've always wanted to see?  Of course you could!  And I'm going to give you a few little pointers to help you achieve that goal.  First, decided where you want to go.  Will you be traveling on land versus a cruise?  We flew to Italy and moved from city to city via train.  In contrast, we took a riverboat cruise around France.  There are pros and cons to both modes of travel but both trips were equally enjoyable.

Once you have decided where you would like to travel and in which manner you will be traveling you need to start looking at plane tickets.  Personally, we have a rewards credit card that enables us to save points for each dollar we spend and this has been wonderful in the purchase of or upgrading  airplane tickets.  If you do not have one of these cards, you can either apply for one or just begin perusing roundtrip tickets for your destination.  The difference in Italy and France for us was the fact that in Italy we had to pay for a water or land taxi or train to each destination.  Once in France, a shuttle for the riverboat cruise picked us up at the airport and took us straight to the boat.  From there, we were able to walk everywhere we chose.  Both countries are walking countries so one really does not have to take taxis everywhere you go.  Unless you are traveling from an airport or train station to your hotel.

Where will you stay?  That's the big question.  On our own in Italy, we booked hotels through a travel agency.  We knew that some areas might be sketchy so we told the agent to book 4 or 5 star hotels to ensure that we felt safe.  Of course, there is the expense of the lodging as opposed to living on a boat for the entirety of a trip.  Staying on land put us in a different train station every few days, getting ourselves from place to place.  In contrast, a riverboat cruise takes care of all your needs.  We dined there, slept there and moved from place to place at night while we were sleeping.

So, below are some links for you to peruse while making your decision on where your next "Dream Trip" will be and helping you stay within your $10,000 budget:

Choose your airline:  American Airlines
                                   Delta Airlines
                                   United Airlines

Choose whether your trip will be by land or cruise:  Viking River Cruise
                                                                                    Travelocity

Decided what you want to see:  Frommers

How are you going to pay for your Dream Trip:  Consider a low-interest personal loan like the one
                                                                               Earnest offers here.





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Help Finding Age Appropriate Toys

Have you ever gone to purchase a toy for a child and gotten to the store only to find there were so many choices that it was hard to choose?  Or perhaps you're a new parent and so excited to purchase your child the coolest thing but not certain they will be able to play with it at their current age.  Whatever the case may be, don't fret!  Because Gifts.com has come up with the perfect Age Appropriate Gift Guide that will help you with all of your gift buying needs.

You might be wondering, "Just what does age appropriate mean?"  Age appropriate means  that the toys are actually age-appropriate for a child's development at that particular age.  We know that children love to play with toys, but why are toys important anyway?


Every person’s growth, learning and development starts with their motor and sensory skills. Sensory skills involve your senses. Things are learned and memorized best by children and adults when they engage their senses.
Motor skills are used when your muscles, nervous system and brain work together to complete a task. There are two types of motor skills: fine and gross. Fine motor skills include small tasks like picking up a spoon, bending your fingers and moving your lips. Gross motor skills include bigger movements like rolling over, sitting and walking, anything that involves using your feet, legs, torso and arms is a gross motor skill.
Motor skills are measured by skills such as
  • Muscle tone
  • Strength and coordination
  • Rhythm and timing
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Primitive and postural reflexes
  • Eye-muscle balance and coordination
  • Balance and posture
Sensory skills are those that involve the senses, which include:
  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Vestibular (inner ear)
  • Proprioception (the ability to know where one’s body is in space)
  • Balance and spatial perception
So, you see, toys are really more than just a play thing; they teach children important skills if given ones that are appropriate for their age level.  Click HERE to grab your own guide for age appropriate toys from birth-9 years and older!
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The Journey I Never Wanted to Take...

I haven't posted lately and the posts I have published have been sponsored ones just because they were ones I had committed to.  It's not that I haven't wanted to write because I have desperately wanted to; writing helps me understand my life by getting things down in print.  It's sort of like how talking to someone about your problems makes you feel better.  Well, today I am going to attempt to let you in on what's been going on in my life these days.  Just hang on because it's not pretty but it's real.

Around the middle of June my elderly (89 years old) mother fell out of her bed while sleeping.  I got a call that morning and immediately rushed out to her house where I found her back in bed where someone had lifted and placed her.  As I stood there listening to her moan I knew the time had come. The time that I always knew was a possibility but that I never wanted to be.  My mother had broken her hip.  I knew this even before the x-rays were done or the first doctor had been consulted.  I just knew.  I called her hospice company and told them it was time to send an ambulance.  Things were not going to get better because she couldn't move or get up to go to the bathroom; this was the beginning of a journey I never wanted to take.

For over a decade my sister and I had been caring for my mother since she was not only aging but also legally blind and no loner able to do many things for herself.  Things like going to the pharmacy, grocery store, taking her to doctor's appointments, etc.  But she was still living alone, next to my sister, and able to do so many things by herself.  She used a walker to get around and we constantly talked about how not doing so might result in an injury such as a broken hip.  Her mind was sharp (sharper than mine, I think) and we were able to visit with her.  People had always told me that a broken hip in the elderly was terrible but I don't think I realized the enormity of the situation and what was really to come.

Whenever the ambulance got my mother to the emergency room it was decided that her hip had to be replaced regardless of her age.  We were told that her age, of course, was a factor because using anesthesia was risky.  We knew this but what choice did we have?  It was daunting following her into the surgery holding room and signing all of the papers that told us the risks associated with it.  Most people just sign but I actually looked at most of the complications and they were all dire.  We just needed to make it through the surgery, I thought.

After surgery she was moved to the hospital rehab floor where we were told she had to put weight on her feet within the first 48 hours or she might never walk again.  My once determined mother decided she couldn't do it no matter how much we begged and pleaded with her to.  We knew that if she didn't walk, she could never go home.  And that led to another very unpleasant thought...continuing rehab in a nursing home skilled nursing unit.  That's what happened after about 14 days of attempting rehab at the hospital.

My mother, a former nurse, had always begged us not to put her in a nursing home.  Although she spent many years working at two different ones, she was adamant about not going to one herself.  So, you see, when we had to transfer her to one it was with great sadness.  Guilt plays a huge part in making decisions for one's parent and it was lying on us like a heap of bricks.  But what could we do?  She could not walk and we could not lift her even if we were able to stay with her 24 hours a day.  I'll be honest with you; it was one of the worst feelings I've ever had.

My mother's stay in that facility was riddled with problems:  She proceeded to throw her injured hip out twice more and had to go to surgery to have it popped back in, went back another time to have a filter put in for a blood clot and then another time to have another stent put in the main artery in her heart.  Each time we were called back to the hospital emergency room it was as though we were all being dragged down a deep, dark hole further and further.  We were never getting out.  Things were never going to be the same.

My mother began to look frail whenever we eventually got her situated back at the nursing home and I decided it was time for me to "step it up" on her care.  I discovered her weight had dipped from 138 lbs. down to 103!  That actually frightened me because she was visibly gaunt.  I spoke to the nurses and got her on something that would increase her appetite and got on the ball about her food.  She loves Popeye's chicken so one of us would try to supplement her other meals with that daily.  Because she had never gotten up to walk, her skin had begun to break down and she now had sores that had to be treated.  Getting up to use the bathroom was long gone as she now had a permanent catheter and wore a diaper.  Her once sharp mind was beginning to fail along with her health.  As time went on, I could see her slipping away.

My sister and I got on an every other day schedule.  One of us would be there every day to see her.  And then I got another call a couple of Sundays ago.  My mother had fallen head first out of her wheelchair in the dining room; they were sending her back to the hospital.  We arrived in the emergency room once again to find her with a huge hematoma on her forehead, bruised arm and swollen hand and worse yet, her hip was out again.  This time, another surgery was required to do something different to the hip so we prepared for that.  By this time, we were becoming tired but never numb to the pain she was in.  Her constant crying for "help" that day tore at us in a way I cannot describe.

After surgery, her hip was placed in a brace that we are told has to be on for 3 months to ensure her hip stays in place.  We transferred her to a different nursing home because we were not comfortable with her previous one (another thing that had to be taken care of before she was released).  As I sat there signing the admission papers (my sister had done the first ones), everything hit me.  This was an absolute nightmare that one could not escape.  Not just a nightmare for us, but more of one for her.  In a matter of 2 1/2 months, she had gone from living independently to having about 6 surgeries and becoming totally dependent on others for her care.

When she got to the new facility she was very agitated and afraid.  The strong woman who had raised me was now screaming from pain and fear 24 hours a day.  When I say screaming, I mean physically screaming and crying.  I would go in and she would be in that state and although I hated to leave her like that, I could not get her calmed down.  I was finally able to get with her new doctor there and he changed some of her medications and thankfully she has calmed down.  I thought on the first day how nice it was to go in and find her calm.  We have to feed her now so on my days I arrived around lunchtime and my sister arrives around dinner on her days.  And, don't get me wrong, it is nice to go in and find her calm but from day to day we never know how coherent she will be.  Friday she talked to us and it was like old times.  Saturday she talked to me as I fed her but nothing she said made much sense.  I told her she must have been dreaming but she said no, it really happened.  I don't argue with her, I just let her talk.  But it's both sad and upsetting to see her like that.  My husband says he thinks that 's the way dementia works; one day very clear and the next day not.  I don't know.

What I do know is that mental, physical and emotional exhaustion has overtaken us.  We always wished that one day we would just find she had closed her eyes and gone to be with the Lord.  On some of her worst days I have prayed to God to be merciful and take her home.  That wasn't His plan.  We don't know why because seeing her suffer so is terrible.  A kind of terrible that I wish no one had to go through.  But we continue on.  To take care of our mother as she took care of us as babies.  Because that is what it reminds me of; caring for a baby.

No one knows what caregivers go through unless they have been one themselves.  It's something that is with you every day, even if it's not your day to physically be there.  It's on your mind.  You find yourself waiting.  Waiting for the telephone to ring with news of a new injury, illness or even death.  You find yourself doing something and suddenly tears spring to your eyes because you think of how your parent used to be.  How they used to live and how they must feel now that they are trapped in a bed all day long.  This is a journey I have never travelled before.  I don't know how to navigate it; where the twists and turns are.  But I do know one thing:  God is and has been with me every step of the way.  If He hadn't been, I could not have made it this far.  He allows me to keep moving forward, putting one foot in front of the next.  And whenever I don't think I can do that, He carries me...


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National Dog Day: How Does Your Dog Make You Feel?

It's National Dog Day and we need to throw our little fur babies a BIG party for all they do to enhance our lives as humans.  And I decided to create this post to help celebrate this special day for so many dog owners and lovers out there.  I have had a dog in my life for almost the entirely of it.  They are wonderful companions but they also do so much more and that is what I would like to share with you today.

Did you know that dogs can do everything from improving your health,  in not only getting you out to exercise,  but also by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol?  In addition to helping to keep your physical body working better, dogs are also great for people with emotional and mental issues.  Elderly nursing home patients' moods have been reported to improve by simply bringing a dog to them to pet.

As I said before, I have had a dog in my life for pretty much always!  When I was six years old my father passed away.  I was the only child at home and well, it was pretty somber around there.  I was lonely and  passed most of my time playing alone.  That is until one day a friend showed up at my house with a puppy!  I'm sure that I was more excited than my mother was at the time but I immediately took to this little chihuahua and promptly named the little fellow Irving (I know...how does a kids of six years old come up with a name like that?!).  Anyway, Irving and I became fast friends and continued to be so until he passed away at about twelve years of age.  He was a companion to me and another little being that I could attach emotions to.  Whenever I lost him, I truly grieved because he had been such an important part of my life and gotten me through such difficult years.

I found this 1970 snapshot of Irving and me in an old photo album and it immediately brought up such fond memories.

After I married and started a family of my own, of course, I longed for a dog.  And we have had many over the years.  I felt that there was so much that a dog could bring into the lives of my children.  They learned compassion and responsibility as they cared for them and allowed them to become a part of their daily lives.  I still have pups around here and am so happy that my grown children have decided to make them a part of their families as well.
 Meet Louie!  Louie is the newest member of my daughter's family.  He came into their lives just as they were moving from Cleveland to Louisiana.  And what a perfect idea to bring this precious addition into their family.  You see, moving can be a bit unsettling for children.  They need something familiar in their lives and Louie has been just that for my sweet little grandchildren.  He has brought light and laughter and made their transition here so much easier. (Photo Credit:  Caitlin Jarrell)
And that is why, for many years,  dogs have been called, "Man's Best Friend".  Hats Off to YOU, Doggies, for making our smiles a little brighter every day! (Photo Credit:  Caitlin Jarrell)



                       For more information on how dogs can improve your life, go to puppyspot !

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Proper Wedding Attire for the Season

Summer is wedding season and right now it is in full swing.  There is always the question of, "What will I wear to the wedding?"  The proper wedding attire, suitable for the venue,  is quite important.  Whether one is dressing for a church, destination,  or outdoor wedding, they will want to look their best and appropriate for the occasion .  I absolutely LOVE weddings and have had lots of experience with them, therefore, I was so excited to team up with Bonobos to give you a little assistance in dressing for the next wedding you attend.

The first question many women ask is:  "Is it OK to wear black to a wedding?"  I would have to say that black, in my opinion, is appropriate for almost any occasion.  So, yes, I think a little black dress would be fine for wedding attire.
 This  Michael Kors, little black dress, with a fit waist, flare skirt and mesh detailing would be perfect for any wedding.  Paired with either black or nude shoes and you've got a classic outfit.

There are other venues that have more unspoken rules concerning appropriate wedding attire and one of those is a church wedding.  Because it is a more reverent site for nuptials, I believe  conservative is better.  Conservative, however, does not mean that you cannot dress fashionably, it just means perhaps no plunging necklines or mini skirts.

 You can never go wrong with a classic DVF dress.  This knit dress in a flattering colorblock pattern is the perfect length and style that would be great for a church wedding.  Paired with red heels for an afternoon event and if you want a more dressy look for evening, pair it with black ones.

The outdoor wedding event is a a little more tricky, especially in the south, where I live.  First, know the weather for the area in which the event is planned.  Hopefully it will be planned during a mild season where one does not have to worry about extreme temperatures.  In any case, you can dress both for the weather and the event in an elegant fashion for the outdoors.
Whatever you do, do not dress extremely casual for an outdoor wedding simply because of the venue.  One can dress beautifully for an outdoor event and a maxi dress is one of my favorites things to wear.  This glamorous yellow ruffle dress with a sheer bottom is perfect!  Sleeveless and sheer enough for the comfort of the outdoors, yet beautifully designed to be dressy enough for a wedding.
And let's not forget the sun that could be a factor at an outdoor wedding.  Choose a classic hat to accompany your dress and you're set!  And what could be more classic than this Aubrey Hepburn, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" hat for the occasion?  Of course, always come prepared by having an umbrella and raincoat nearby just in case of inclement weather.
This DVF Denim-Wrap Trench Coat is perfect for not only an outdoor wedding but any event where rain could be a factor.

And Don't forget to add just a bit of jewelry to your ensemble.  You never want to wear too much; as Coco Channel said, "When accessorizing always take off the last thing you put on."
I absolutely love these Kendra Scott Gold Drop Earrings!  I was actually given this pair of earrings for my birthday and I wear them all the time.  They are the perfect earring for any outfit.

                    Putting your perfect wedding guest look together is just a click away!

              Michael Kors LBD Because a LBD is always a good idea. 
              DVF Colorblock Knit Dress For a classic look you just can't beat.
              Yellow Ruffle Maxi Dress For that outside wedding that makes you look as radiant as the
                                                         sun.
              Breakfast at Tiffany's Hat To block the sun from your face and give you that classic Aubrey
                                                         Hepburn look we all adore.
              DVF Trench Coat To keep you dry and stylish at the same time.
              Kendra Scott Earrings To finish off the perfect look for any occasion.
              Bonobos For your guy and all your looks in between.
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Looking For a Car...Or Just How To Take Care Of the One You Own?

Every so many years we get the car fever around here and start searching for a new vehicle.  Because our family is so large our go-to main vehicle is usually an SUV...you know, one that can carry a LOT of car seats.  I also have a little car for tooling around town and Hubby has a truck for all of the things he needs to haul around.  However, whatever your choice of vehicle is, I'm sure that cars.com can help you out with your every vehicle need.

Whenever I first glanced at cars.com I thought it was a site that merely bought and sold vehicles.  Of course, it does that but it also does so much more.  For instance, there is an entire section devoted to Service & Repair which includes everything from service and repair advice to safety and recall notices and my personal favorite, car maintenance 101.  Some of the information in the car maintenance section includes:
                 1.  How often should you rotate your tires?
                 2.  When do you need to replace your brakes?
and many other articles containing sound information for vehicle owners.

I also found the video and review section interesting.  Here you can get help as a first-time buyer and even find out everything you should know, as a parent,  about car seat checks.  If you're just a car buff who likes to keep up with the latest auto trends you will also find a large section of videos and articles relating to the DetroitChicagoNew York and LA auto shows.

Of course, as I said before, you can also buy, sell or trade autos on the site or if you prefer, just browse different makes and models of vehicles if you are in the market for a new one or just curious what vehicles are going for these days.  Cars.com has something for everyone.  So STOP...Don't pass up the opportunity to educate yourself as a vehicle owner or before purchasing a new one; click HERE to get started today!

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How To Make a Balloon Arch: Video Tutorial

Around here we absolutely LOVE parties of every kind! If it's not a birthday party then it's one for each and every holiday that rolls around. And because we love parties so much, I am always looking for new and fun ideas to make those events look more festive. That's why I was so excited to team up with Proflowers whenever they offered to share their video tutorial of "How To Make a Balloon Arch", with step-by-step instruction and a complete supply list! I hope you enjoy the post below and have fun creating your own balloon arch for your next festive occasion.

Planning a kid’s birthday party soon? Whether you’re looking for decoration ideas for a youngster’s celebration or planning a dinner party of your own, a balloon arch might be just what you’re looking for. A custom balloon arch will not only save you money, but really make a statement too. This creative do-it-yourself project may seem daunting at first, but don’t let the “wow” factor discourage you.

To help you create your own, ProFlowers put together a video guide on how to make one. Roll up your sleeves and get started, it’s time to celebrate!
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Zola: The Perfect Wedding Gift Registry Site

Wedding season is presently in full swing and the invitations are coming in the mail for showers, parties and the wedding itself.  You're not sure how to select the perfect gift for the couple and confused on whether you should bring a gift to the wedding if you already brought one to the shower.  Don't panic!  I'm here along with Zola  to help you out with every decision you need to make as a  participant or guest of the wedding.

For me, finding the perfect wedding gift is as simple as finding the couple's gift registry.  Upon their engagement, most couples go out to their favorite boutiques or online stores and begin to form a wedding registry with their favorite items for a wedding gift.  A wedding gift wish list if you will.  And conveniently for you, the guest, to any of their showers, parties or  wedding, those places are usually listed on all invitations.  Or better yet, a site is listed that includes all of the information about the couple's wedding in general.

Today, I would like to tell you about just a few of the benefits of creating a Wedding Registry with Zola:

1.  The happy couple can customize their personalized page with photos and notes to wedding
     guests; everything is in one place.

2.  Free Shipping!  Who doesn't like free shipping?  Plus, the couple will receive notification
     when a gift is purchased and choose to have it shipped now or hold for later.  How
     convenient is that?

3.  And what about gift exchange?  I can remember whenever I was engaged, myself, having to
     load up all of the items I needed to exchange and go from store to store.  With Zola, that is
     not necessary since there is online gift exchange!

4.  And for those of you who want to get the best bang for your buck, Zola offers Price Matching.
     If the couple or guest finds an everyday lower price from another online retailer on a Qualifying
     Product, just let Zola know and they will match it!

5.  And for those of us on the go, there is the Best Registry App.  This app includes:  Barcode Scan
     so you can add to your registry quick and easy from anywhere, Real Time Alerts to let you know
     when you've received a gift, a Planner to assure that there is a gift for every guest to give at their
     preferred price point, and a Blender, which is a Tender-like feature which will allow you to pick
     out new wedding gifts.

These are only a few of the benefits of creating a wedding gift registry with Zola, but aren't these few
enough for you to take the plunge and join right now if you are planning a wedding?  Remember, wedding planning is meant to be fun, not stressful so why not put all of your wedding planning in the hands of Zola!
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Fun Summer Activities to Keep Your Kiddos School Ready!

Wow!  The summer is half way over and soon your kiddos will be out there buying new school supplies and clothes, readying themselves for the new school year.  But here's what I was wondering: Have you kept your children's minds active during these summer months with educational activities? Whenever I taught school, I encouraged parents to do something educationally sound every day during the summer that would keep their child's mind sharp during the summer months.  I know what you're thinking:  "Ugh...can't I just give them a few month off from school work?"  And, "They will hate doing school related work during the summer and I just don't want to fight it."  I hear you loud and clear!  However, it's a fact that when school starts back each fall, a teacher spends the first six weeks reviewing and getting kids back to where they were before school let out for the summer.  I also hear you whenever you say your kids would hate sitting down at the table doing "school work" during the summer.  That's why I have teamed up with Education.com to give you just one of  many fun projects they have to not only keep kids up to date with their school work during the summer but to also something fun!

Summer Words

The weather may not always be warm and toasty during the summer season, but that doesn't mean your child can't bask in the light of a cheery yellow sun all summer long. Make vocabulary practice a little brighter with this summer words puzzle!

Grade: Second Grade
Summer Reading

What You Need:
  • Styrofoam circle
  • Scissors
  • Yellow paint
  • Black marker
  • Summer vocabulary list
  • Paint brush
  • White poster board
  • Place mat
  • Knife

What You Do:

  1. Put the place mat beneath the Styrofoam circle.
  2. Have your child paint the top and sides of the Styrofoam circle yellow.
  3. Set it aside to dry.
  4. Turn the Styrofoam circle over and let him paint that side yellow as well.
  5. Set it aside to dry again.
  6. This step is all you. Carefully make a shallow cut along the center side of the Styrofoam circle.
  7. Don't let him put away the paint just yet! Have your child paint the poster board yellow.
  8. Let him use scissors to cut triangles from the poster board. He should make at least thirty yellow triangles.
  9. Have your child write one word from his summer vocabulary list on about half of the yellow triangles.
  10. Without him peeking, write random vocabulary words on the rest of the triangles. These words should have nothing to do with summer.
  11. Put all the triangles on the table.
  12. Let him stick only the summer words into the side of the Styrofoam circle.
  13. As he places each "sunbeam" into the circle, quiz him on the word's definition

I hope that your child enjoys that activity and that you will choose some other fun activities from the site to keep your child on track for the coming school year!
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When Life Gets Dirty

I've got this thing about dirty feet.  Not necessarily anything else, but dirty feet get me every time.  Don't get me wrong, I love to wear sandals and flip-flops and do almost 12 months of the year here in the south.  But if I get dirt on my feet, it's into the bathroom I go to wash them all clean again.  Clean is good.  It makes you feel fresh, like nothing can rattle you whenever you're clean.  What a great feeling, huh?  Well, unfortunately, the opposite is just the same with dirty.  Whenever you're dirty and have no access to water (or in some cases baby wipes...), the grime just seems to settle on you and you can think of nothing but getting things back to the way there were, clean.  The same can be said of life.  And for me, right now, things are pretty dirty.  There's really nothing I can do to clean things up because as the saying goes:  "It is what it is".  And I'm just moving on remote trying to see through the murky glass called life right now.

I haven't posted in a while; actually since we left the Florida Keys.  And I still have one post left to do  on the trip, a couple for other companies and things have just been placed on the back burner for a while.  As a matter of fact, I can't even believe that I've snuck this moment to tell you what's been going on.  Hold on tight because as I said, it's pretty dirty.

Right before we left the Keys, Hubby threw his back out pretty bad.  Bad enough for us to leave a day early, putting us right in the middle of Memorial Day traffic.  I was the driver for most of the return trip, with him taking medication and sitting with ice on his  back.  Every time he would open his eyes he would beg of me not to wreck the boat I was carrying home with us (sigh...).  I got him home and to a doctor who promptly fixed him up and was truly hoping that the calm and serenity that we had found in the Keys would follow us home.  Apparently that was not to be.

Returning home from the Keys found Caitlin, Kevin and their kids moving back from Ohio and was I ever happy to have the final chick back in the nest!  This would entail getting them all moved into their new house...at the exact same time that Ryan, Allison and their kiddos were moving into theirs.  It was a busy couple of weeks there but I think that everyone is getting settled and I will try to post some photos later to show you their cute new abodes.  Anyway, while all of this business was going on, I began to remember how much I love doing my watercolor painting while in the Keys and decided that I was going to set Mondays aside to do just that.  Pleased with myself for carving a bit of time out, I slept in the following Monday and drug into the kitchen for a cup of coffee while I decided on what my new art project would be.  I glanced at my phone to see if anyone had tried to call and that's when I saw a voicemail from my sister.  I knew right away this couldn't be good news.  My mother, you see, lives next door to my sister.  She will be 89 years old this month and actually lives alone.  Someone usually checks on her daily, including her hospice nurse.  But for quite a while I have been dreading getting a call that something has happened to her and as it turned out, that was exactly what the call was about.

The message was that my mother had fallen out of her bed and the fire department had been dispatched to pick her up and put her back in it.  I hurriedly made a call to my sister, dressed and headed out the door.  When I got there, thankfully my cousin was with her.  She was in quite a bit of pain and I knew right away that this was not good.  A possible broken hip was what I assumed. And she had been so careful to use her walker!  How in the world could this happen?!  I got on the phone with hospice and they sent someone out to do an x-ray.  I assisted with that and let me tell you it was no easy feat attempting to move her.  After that, I was truly convinced that my mother had a broken hip.  I called hospice back and told them just that and we got an ambulance there and transported her to the hospital where our fears were confirmed; her hip was definitely broken and surgery was scheduled for the next day.  She came through the surgery OK but now the hard work would begin:  physical therapy.  I knew this would be a challenge, not only because of my mother's age and the condition of her body, but also because up until this point she had never really had to do any physical therapy.  She had always been able to skate by without it and do just fine.  I had a feeling that would not be the case this time.

I left a few days after my mother's surgery to go on our scheduled family vacation with EVERYBODY...all 21 of us!  Hubby and I had talked about this being the last year that we all shared the same house because really...21 people, 21 personalities.  That in and of itself can make from some pretty trying times.  However, we did decide to stay in the same house just once more.  Oh, where did we go?  Breckenridge, Colorado!  Where it would be the opposite of the south.  It would be nice and cool and we could play outdoors...ahhh, I was ready for this little get-away.  Until less than 24 hours later the first person began throwing up (ugh!!!).

You know, whenever someone starts throwing up, the first thing you think of is:  We can keep this contained.  Sure, we can.  If we just keep them isolated from everyone else and use Lysol.  And that was the positive thought that kept going through my head, even as my stomach began to feel queasy.  It wasn't long before the next few people were hit (I was included in that group) and before the trip would come to an end, 16 out of 21 people were infected with what we believe to be the norovirus!  We honestly believe that the house we rented was infected by the bug and called the rental company to tell them that.  We promptly packed our bags a couple of days early and all headed back to Denver, where we got separate hotel rooms and attempted to recover.  For me, I was not able to eat or drink or 4 days.  I know I became dehydrated and still do not feel OK.  But as I headed to the airport the morning we left, I just kept asking God to PLEASE let me get home.  Being sick is bad enough but being sick when you are not in your own home is terrible!

We got home finally and I slept.  For hours that first day and late every morning for days to come.  In the meantime, I had to wait until I was not contagious before I could visit my mother, who was now in the rehab unit of the hospital.  I was not prepared for what I saw.  I had previously heard from friends that whenever an elderly person breaks a hip, that is usually a pivotal point in their lives.  I was hoping that would not be true for my mother, however, as I looked at her and watched her attempt to even stand, I knew it was true.

And so as I've gone back and forth, almost daily,  to the rehab to check on my mother's progress, my sister and I have been forced to look reality in the face.  My mother has always asked not to be put in a nursing home and up until now it's been in the far recesses of our minds.  When it peeked its head around the corner we would turn our heads the other way as though by doing so it would never come to pass.  But it's here now and we are confronted by a decision that cannot be postponed.  My mother has to be released from the rehab center she is in Monday and transferred to one in a nursing home.  She will be given more time to try to get on her feet since she will have physical therapy every day.  But she's not happy about this.  She's fighting us every step of the way and quite frankly we are tired.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  It's as dirty as it gets right now.  I long for some water to wash this all off and let things be OK again (if they truly ever were).  The truth is raw.  And it hurts.  And there are things that we can do nothing about.  And that sucks.  So where do we go from here?  I honestly don't know.  I do know that we can only take one day at a time.  One moment at a time.  And let God take the wheel from here.  Dirty.  That's what life is right now for me and only God can clean this mess up in His way and in His time.  All I need to do is just breathe...And be.


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Exploring The Florida Keys: Picnic Island

On one of the first days we were here in the Keys we heard about a place called Picnic Island.  It sounded intriguing to me so we set out to explore it.  It was set off by itself in the middle of the water.  I wasn't sure what we would find there but WOW what an eclectic place it was!

Really now, who doesn't just love a picnic?  Whenever I think of the word it conjures up all of the good feelings of being outside on a red checkered blanket with a picnic basket full of goodies.  Picnic Island was a little different but boy did it ever impress!

 Picnic Island is really quite small but such a great place to go and just...well, have a picnic and relax  on the beach, in the sun.
People from all over have made signs with their names on them and of where they are from and the milage to Picnic Island from their home and nailed them up out there.
I'm not sure if you can see it from here but there is a wooden swing hanging from a tree!  I grew up with tree swings and love them so that was the first thing I went to whenever we got on the island.
We really didn't know anything about the island; how big it was or what was even out there but were happy to see that there were chairs, a picnic table and even a grill.
However, our first visit found us in a rain storm and we took refuge in the mangroves.  See Hubby heading over there to join us?  He and his buddy had just anchored the boat and carried our ice chest while we walked in to begin exploring.  Eventually we went back to the island but decided we needed to head back to the boat because of the rain that day.
            We headed to the Tiki Bar!  And got dried off and ate some really yummy lunch!


These chairs!  They were hanging all around the place and I could SO use one (or two...) of these at my lake house.  I can just see them hanging on the dock.  Yep, I took a picture of the tag on them and will be looking them up whenever I get home.
We actually went back one day to have lunch again and play corn hole toss with our friends!  It was a lot of fun.

As I said, we went back to Picnic Island and even met some other people there who were sailing around for months and even years!  They had their dogs with them that ran around the island, splashing in the water.  And that's when I thought...wow, how awesome is this place.  So peaceful, stuck out here in the middle of the water.  I took this photo so I would always remember it.
      And then one day used it to paint my own rendition of it in my watercolor journal.

I plan to visit Picnic Island just one more time before we leave the Keys.  I'll swing on that swing once more and let the sun shine down on my face.  Breathe in the saltwater air and let the sand slip between my toes.    And maybe even hang a sign with our names on it out there.  But mainly I will think of how fortunate I was to have been there.










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