Nut Cups & Servicemen

Turkey edited familybringsjoy.comI want you to think of your most memorable Thanksgiving.

I want you to take a stroll down (good) memory lane.

Close your eyes if you need to.

Who was there?  What made it special?

This morning I was remembering past Thanksgivings.  There is not one Thanksgiving which does not include me spending time with my family.  Isn’t Thanksgiving synonymous with family?  I believe so.

When I held Once Upon A Family “Celebrations” as a consultant I asked each person what their most favorite family memory was.  The majority of people said their most favorite family memories were spent around the table during the holidays.  It wasn’t the food they remember.  It was the TIME spent together talking, laughing and just being together.

One Thanksgiving that sticks out in my mind was when I was elementary school age.  I have fond memories of traveling to my grandparents for Thanksgiving.  My grandma always seemed to be the perfect hostess with a cheery disposition.  {I have a difficult time doing that as I’m always stressed out in the kitchen}  I remember sitting at the bar while grandma & grandpa were busy preparing all the food for our Thanksgiving feast.  My siblings, cousins & I would color in Thanksgiving coloring books while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in our jammies.

Grandma making candy familybringsjoy.comMy grandparent’s kitchen was open to the dining room.  The bar I’m referring to shared the kitchen counter.  Even though many kitchens are designed similar to this way now, they were ahead of their time with this open concept.  Side note: this newly designed kitchen happened because a massive tornado tore through their home.  Looking back, this was a blessing for our family.  I don’t mean the tornado was a blessing.  I mean that because of the tornado, my grandparents were able to create a family conducive space.  Back to my Thanksgiving memory.

After a leisurely morning spent watching my grandparents cook, coloring in coloring books and watching the parade, it was time to get dressed for the day.  Then came one of my favorite traditions my grandma had at Thanksgiving…the nut cups.  Each person at the table had a small paper nut cup by their place setting.  Us kids loved helping grandma fill the cups with different nuts, m&m’s and dinner mints.  I don’t remember if her mom did this as well.  I will have to ask my Dad if he remembers.  It would be interesting to find out if this is a long standing tradition passed down through the generations.  It became increasingly difficult for grandma to find these nut cups as the years went by.  However, it didn’t seem like Thanksgiving without them.  It’s funny because it is such a small thing, yet it obviously meant a great deal to me.  That’s kind of the way it goes with traditions.

Airmen_Basic_in_column_formation_(Lackland_AFB)Anyway, I remember on this particular Thanksgiving the door bell rang.  In walked two young men dressed in military uniforms.  My grandparents greeted the young men and introduced them to the rest of the family.  My grandparents volunteered to have two Air Force men eat our Thanksgiving meal with us.  Here’s the deal…it was weird for me.  I kept thinking, “why are these 2 strangers interrupting our family Thanksgiving.”  I didn’t know them.  My grandparents didn’t even know them.  They weren’t family.  They were strangers.  I can only imagine what came out of my mouth.  I say that because I’ve witnessed my own kids ask questions that weren’t quite appropriate or might come across as offensive.  It was just different to have these 2 men there.  Grandma explained to us kids that these young men were stationed at the local air force base and weren’t from here.  They weren’t able to go home and spend time with their own families for Thanksgiving.  To be honest, I still didn’t like having them there.  They stole some of my grandparent’s attention and it bugged me.

Grandma cooking familybringsjoy.comAs an adult, I now look back and see how my grandparents were fully participating in Thanksgiving.  I don’t mean the holiday.  I mean they were giving thanks…really in so many ways.  They were giving thanks by inviting the service men into their home.  They were giving thanks by serving them a meal.  They were giving thanks to God by sharing what He had blessed them with to others.  As I have mentioned before, my grandpa served in the military.  I believe he was showing thanks to these men for serving our country as he did.  My grandparents taught me a lesson that day.  We are to give thanks by sharing with others.  Almost every Thanksgiving after this one, my grandparents welcomed the air force men into their home.  It was easier to accept this new tradition each year.  I enjoyed learning about where the servicemen came from and what they did in the Air Force.  I am so grateful for my grandparents’ example.  I think of all of our men and women who are serving in the military on our behalf all over the world.  I pray someone will give thanks to them on Thanksgiving this year.

Writing this post reminds me…the people who shared the “First Thanksgiving” were not all members of the same family.  The Pilgrims and Indians were strangers, yet they celebrated a bountiful harvest together too.

Now it’s your turn.  I would love to hear about your most memorable Thanksgiving.

Who was there?  What made it special?

Thanks for SHARING,

Wall of Stars

Happy Veteran’s Day!

First off, I want to give kudos to the school my 5th grader attends.  They sent home the following letter:

School Veteran's Day letter familybringsjoy.com

Yesterday I had fun dressing up her star of family veterans.  I’ve been crafting a lot with strips of paper lately.  I love the look.  Grabbed some red, white & blue scrap paper and cut them into strips.  Glued them down to the star and then cut around. Of course I had to add a layer of Mod Podge on top to finish it off.

Edited Veteran's Day Star familybringsjoy.com

I am insanely grateful and proud of the many family members who have served for our country.  Working on family history and genealogy has opened my eyes to the great legacy of sacrifice and service my family has endured for our country.  I am honored to have family members on both sides of my family for generations who have served to keep America free.

My Dad served in the army for several years.  As a matter of fact, I was born in Frankfurt, Germany because he was based there.  My Dad endured MUCH serving for our country.  It is a huge BLESSING he survived.  He is definitely a survivor.  About 2 weeks ago he suffered a heart attack.  I am pleased to say through the use of modern medicine, his fighting will, and the power of prayer he is working to overcome this health trial.  I’m so thankful he has instilled his persevering spirit within me.  Keep on eating right and exercising Dad.  All your kids & grand kids still need and want you around.  Love You Dad!

I am thinking and praying for all the people who are currently serving to keep America the land of the brave and free.  Thank you SO MUCH!  You DO MATTER!

Very Sincerely,

One Adventurous Family

Big Blue Bus Tour from Amy Earle on Vimeo.

Oh my goodness.  THIS IS SO COOL!

Look at what my friend and her family are doing. “Our family is on an adventure! We’re spending the next six months living and traveling on an old school bus!”

I found Amy on Vimeo back in January 2012.  You can see that initial post I wrote about her and video here.   I fell in love with her family.   The above video has made me do that all over again.

Since meeting her online, I’ve had the opportunity of taking one of her photography classes online.  Not only is Amy a great photographer, but she is a great teacher as well.  I am not surprised she is offering free photography workshops…she is a sweetheart!  If you live in the west area where Amy and her family are traveling, I highly recommend you take one of her FREE photography workshops.  Go visit this amazing family and feel of their warmth and strength.  You can find out more about Amy’s Big Blue Bus Tour by clicking here.

Amy Earle"s big blue bus tour

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Amy Earle to write this post.

Happy Tuesday,

This Is Really Happening

Twas the night before I take my oldest daughter to college…

car is packed for college familybringsjoy.com

The car is packed.  Yep!  I’m so exhausted.  I need to head to bed and get some shut eye before arising early in the morning to drive for 11 hours.  I’ve been wanting to sneak some time to blog about this important milestone in our family’s life and it just didn’t happen.  The only reason I am typing this up now is because I’m waiting on some cd’s to burn.  I’ve been writing letters to her.  These letters include a playlist of songs about the subject of each letter.  I plan on sharing this on the blog sometime.  Anyway, it is taking an eternity to burn these playlists for some reason.  So I decided I would hop on and capture what I’m feeling.

Earlier when we were in my oldest’s room packing, I glanced over at my youngest to find her crying.  She had just said before, “I can’t believe she’s leaving.  I don’t want her to go.”  She ran into my arms and sobbed causing a chain reaction…as I then began to cry.  I honestly didn’t realize how much this was going to effect my 2 younger children…the oldest leaving.  They both adore her.

It is going to be weird for all of us not having her here.  So many people have asked me recently, “how are you holding up?”  “Are you ready, mom.”  I think I am ready.  I am really excited for her.  I know she’s ready and I know she will have a wonderful time.  It will all be in God’s hands.  I recently told a friend of mine… to be a mom, you have to be willing to have faith.  Otherwise, you will be a nervous wreck and stressed out all the time.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity she has to go to BYU in Idaho.  I went there and received my associates degree when it was called Ricks College.  It will be so fun to go back and see how the campus has changed over the 20+ years since I was there.

Getting everything into her car was no small feat.  I have to admit we ended up leaving a few items here, but they are easily able to be purchased there.  We made 2 trips to the store for more space bags today, but we did it!  You should have seen my 2 girls and I as we very carefully shoved her memory foam mattress topper into a space bag.  It took a while before we were able to seal the bag shut so we could suck the air out of it. {I put a video on Instagram today of us using a space bag.}  We took turns sitting on it and punching it.  I’m sure it would be a funny sight to behold, but I was not backing down.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

My disks are done so I’m headed off to dream land.  I hope to plop a few photos on here tomorrow and keep in touch with our travels.  I really do appreciate all of you who have expressed support of me during this monumental time in a mother’s life.  Some of my dear friends on Instagram, who also have kids going to college, have been so sweet and we help each other.  That means a lot.

Kids bring joy,

Putting Off the Inevitable

mammogramI’ve put it off long enough.  It’s time.

This morning I’m headed to have my first mammogram.

Yes, I’m nervous.

I’ve been told you should begin having them at age 40.  I turned 43 on Monday.  How many of us procrastinate the things we don’t want to do…or maybe I should say things that are painful?  Totally ME!

I came across a pin titled “10 Secrets to a More Bearable Mammogram.”

I wish I read this about a week ago.  Some good advice.

I sure hope you have better plans in store for you today.

Wish me luck…

Be proactive,

Happy Birthday Family Brings Joy

photo 5 (6)Today is the day.

Five years ago I began Family Brings Joy.

I can’t believe it’s been 5 years.

I wonder how many of you have been following this thing I called life {my blog} for the majority of that time?  I know my sweet mom has.  I hope one day my kids will be happy to have me follow and comment on all their social media.  Right now it’s frowned upon.

Anyway, today I will be celebrating by taking the girls on a shopping trip to our favorite city 2 hours away.  It’s time to buy my college bound daughter a laptop.  She’s pretty excited.  I would be too…there were no such things as laptops when I went to college.  My youngest needs new jazz shoes while my son needs longer jeans.  I don’t really need anything for me.  I’ll just enjoy being with them and grateful we can purchase the items they need.

I hope each and every one of you has a fabulous day!  Thank you for being you and being a part of the Family Brings Joy community.  You are special and mean the world to me. 🙂

Happy Birthday Family Brings Joy!