Sunday, November 1, 2015

All Saints' Day

It's a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. It's November 1st - All Saints' Day. In Belgium, it is a National holiday. Many who have adopted graves here at the Ardennes will come by with flowers to place on their soldier's grave. The traditional flower for this day is the chrysanthemum. The florists and even the grocery stores have them in large displays for people to pick up on their way home. I  wanted one for our front porch to sit alongside our pumpkins. Now it has more significance than just being a decoration. I will remember all of our family members who have passed from this life.

I remember being back in the States at our various churches where we would recognize and remember family members and congregation members who had died in the past year. We would pray and their names would be read out loud. This led me to look further into the history of today's date.

I googled November 1 and found many interesting events that occurred in history on November 1. Here are a few:

Today, I sit here looking back at all of these events and think about our visit to the Sistine Chapel while living in Rome -- it was interesting but I found it not as breathtaking as I had hoped. It was dimly lit to preserve the paintings for a longer life and it was crowded. It's like many things you look forward to -- they don't live up to your expectations and imagination. Maybe it was the sensation of being crowded into the room and having to look straight up and not being able to relax and take it all in...

I think back to homeschooling with Michael when I read about the Strait of Magellan. We studied World History while we were living in Nettuno. Maybe our own family travels were a part of that history lesson too?

It's hard to imagine the All Saints' Flood in 1570 today because the sky is blue and the sun is shining brightly. I read that 5/6 of the Netherlands was flooded at this time. So much destruction. Right now, friends are experiencing this back in Texas from all of the rain that has been falling. I'm praying that they are all safe and that it soon is a thing of the past.

There's got to be some interesting connection why two of Shakespeare's works were performed for the first time on November 1. Perhaps it is as simple as it was a holiday and even the common man could attend on this day. 

It's amazing to me to think that the big city of New York where Kristen lives was once a British Crown colony. So much history has taken place there. So many people from so many countries have passed through there on their way to a new life and a new future. Now, many go there to seek their fortune and their future just like our daughter. It is a vibrant city rich with culture and yet it is a hard and demanding city in which to find your way and your niche.

Finally, John Adams being the first president to live in the now named White House. I just was looking at the news on and came across photos from Halloween at the White House. What a contrast from 1800 to 2015! To see the Obamas handing candy out to trick or treaters and the White House adorned in Halloween decorations is sort of surreal. 

Obama and the first lady join a crowd of trick-or-treaters on the South Lawn of the White House on October 30.

I have a feeling that our forefathers would consider this a bit garish and inappropriate. I'm torn about how I feel about this display. Maybe I'm just getting older and am a bit too serious minded... I don't see Buckingham Palace doing this for example... What do you think?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Throwback Thursdays...

Stepping away from the 31 day challenge seemed to be a good idea today. These challenges are good because they help us grow but they are also daunting and overwhelming and tend to take over our lives. Trying to fulfill the challenge by blogging every day for 31 days straight is a good exercise in discipline and discipline is an important part of our lives. BUT, when life throws you a curve ball and you can't keep on track with the challenge, then you feel the seeds of guilt and failure creep in. The challenge itself is positive and the side effects are sometimes negative. Step away from the negative. Embrace the positive. So that's why I'm over here today!

#TBT - we see this all across Facebook and Twitter. Throwback Thursday celebrates all of those little and big moments in our lives. People share fun pictures of their children from years past and other memories that are special and significant to them. I sat here with visions of our kids as they grew up -- especially here in Europe at the various locations we have lived. Today Michael will be with his school group as a young man but I flashed back to the little guy about 3 or 4 years old in his red rubber boots getting stuck in a big pile of dirt -- we can remember it fondly with a smile but it was pretty scary as we searched for him back on that day long ago. I remember back to Kristen and our many drives in the car from place to place and her singing Disney songs to us. Now she's a young woman making her way in New York City. So much time has passed! TBT gives us a chance to treasure and reminisce about those moments in time.

Let's take more time to treasure each and every moment we have with one another. Maybe it will become a TBT moment in our future!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Morning Thoughts

Good morning! It's a beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Belgium. The geese were flying over our home this morning and Butch barked to let them know he was watching them. Without a doubt he has a bit of hunter in him. The carillon just finished playing outside my window and it is back to the quiet that is the norm here on the grounds of an American cemetery and memorial. Around the outside of the cemetery proper it looks a lot like this picture I've shared. We are surrounded by woods and nature and it is a peaceful place to think about life and family and so many things. 

When you think about what is happening in the world right now with those who are fleeing horrible conditions in their countries and others who are attacking those who are trying to protect us, it is hard to imagine when living at a place so peaceful. However, all I have to do is open up any of the news websites and I am quickly reminded. We need to continue to pray for our world leaders, pray for those who are suffering and in pain and for those who continue to place their own safety aside to protect and defend. So today, wherever you may be, take a moment and join me in prayer.  Amen.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Seasons in our lives

As we travel through life, we have different purposes we need to pursue. It's really interesting to read back through my posts to see the many twists and turns my life has taken in such a short period of time.  I just reread my post about feeling anonymous. That was a chapter of my life when living in Italy after having a full and busy life in the Netherlands.

Now, we are living back in Belgium in the Ardennes area and my time is taken up with driving to and from the Netherlands during the week for school and work. I also jumped back into PWOC, volunteering, substitute teaching and then the perfect job for me right now at the base education center. I'm no longer anonymous! However, I am happily transitioning to a quieter time of less or no volunteering after two years as our middle/high school PTA president and also no position on the PWOC board so that I can focus on our family and take a slower approach to life while still driving 500 miles a week!

After spending a month back in the States in Florida, Pennsylvania and a quick run over to Indiana, I treasure a simpler schedule and time to think about what's important in life -- faith, family, friends and enjoying what gifts God has provided us in our lives.

My newest chapter (as soon as I close the one on PTA) is going to include sharing more bits and pieces of life here in Europe. I'm fortunate to have found the Clumsy Bloggers Workshop to learn more about blogging to make it more interesting and readable to others who will find my posts. My cousin, Joyce, thinks I should write a book about our life and adventures. This is the first step! We'll see where it takes me!  Here is the view from our cabana in Florida this Summer. It was a slice of life when we were with good friends and taking the time to just enjoy our moment in the sun!  Meanwhile bon voyage to you in all of your lives and adventures!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day in Belgium and a great new blog to follow

Saturday morning following Valentine's Day dawned with the chiming of the carillon next to our home at 8am. A long day was had yesterday with a drive over to the base clinic in Mons and two appointments to keep. Michael was seeing a new doc and I was attempting to get an x-ray at the American clinic vs. going back to visit the busy Belgian hospital in Genk. We were pleased to find the new clinic very friendly and both medical providers really helpful. Michael got the full treatment with a trip to the lab for blood tests and also up to the Immunization clinic for a shot. My visit was interesting because my doctor was very curious about the treatment I've been receiving for my foot problems here in Belgium. He had never heard of the use of electro shockwave therapy for achilles and heel spur issues. It's always nice to share new information with people...

After all of the fun at the clinic, we went to the PX down the road and found baseball cleats for Michael and glove oil since both were not available at our base. I was thrilled to find a cash box for our new high school PTA. Yes, little triumphs are good! Then we ate at the very small food court (not filet mignon for V Day for us). Michael had sub-par Anthony's Pizza, Mike had Burger King and I had a doner kebab. Maybe I can plan something a little more appropriate for a celebratory Valentine's Dinner a day late! After our 2+ hour drive home, we settled in to watch a little of the Olympics. Definitely a different sort of Valentine's Day celebration for us.

This morning I found a great blog shared by Cathleen - Her post yesterday "Skip the Hype & Get to the Heart of Valentines Day" was great and to the point. So much "over the top" business these days going on.  Cathleen shared "Dear Lonely Mom of Older Kids" which hit home for me these days. With one finishing college and another halfway through high school, it is sometimes hard to deal with the issues older children bring. The days of diapers, finger paintings and many "firsts" are gone and we are on our way to being real empty nesters with our baby birds ready to launch into their own lives. It's a scary time for sure!

I highly recommend you visit Rachel Anne's Home Sanctuary to add a little peace and quiet in your day!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

driving on autopilot...

Today my boy woke up with a huge headache so I got to do the drive by myself. I even thought that I needed to take a direct route to my office but the car had other ideas! When I realized I was on the school route, I laughed to myself and replanned my next move...

How many times have we been on autopilot? It's a beautiful sunny and cool Wednesday morning here in the Netherlands - the land of the Olympic speed skaters!

Happy Hump Day to all!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Unwrapping Christmas

Life moves so quickly these days!

I took the time thankfully to read a wonderful novella written by Lori Copeland titled "Unwrapping Christmas."  I could have been Rose in this book a few years ago.

 I've been warned not to fall back into the trap of doing too much and being too busy by my own very wise 14 year old son.

I think the older we get the more we want to recapture the meaning of the season and the beauty of Christmas in our homes and our hearts. This is the book that helps us realize the importance of first serving our own families before we serve others. This is what God intended for us to do. I bought this book on sale for $3.99 at the Naples bookstore and it is worth so much more than that!

We are waiting to find out when we'll be moving back North where we will all have the opportunity to become involved in activities that we enjoy. I hope we don't lose the closeness we've found living with "just us" here in Italy, when we get reimmersed in life in a wonderful American community in the Tri-Border region.