Halloween Flashback: Grandma and Grandson Halloween

I won’t be actively trick or treating this year. Nor will I be teaching on Halloween, so no classroom dress-up for me. But two years ago, I DID do a classroom dress-up in Taiwan, so I thought it would be fun to post it again, especially since most of my current followers didn’t have the opportunity to view my nonsense. So enjoy the trip back in time to see photos from a Halloween past.

Dante got up at 4:30 Halloween morning to do her amazing zombie make-up that you see in the picture below. And while I was doing my witch imitation (no comments, please!), my grandson Logan was sleeping to join in the Halloween fun in the US. Click below to see him as Captain Hook.

Halloween in Taiwan!


(Photo credit: cafeconlecheporfavor)

Halloween arrives 12 hours earlier in Taiwan than it does in my grandson’s world. So as my grandson was going to bed on the eve of Halloween, I was headed to my 8:10 class, treats in hand. My costume was simple. The big flowing gown I usually wear for this costume is back in the U.S. But I made do as a rather well-dressed witch headed out for a social obligation, with just a touch of black lace to go with the ensemble.

I had told my students that I’d be dressing up, and one of my students also came in costume, and I think she outdid me,as you can see in the photo. I heard from another student that Dante got up at 5 this morning to start doing the make-up for this amazing costume. And Dante told me that she used pieces of artificial nails to look like teeth. It was almost too realistic, if you know what I mean.

But as you can see in the photo below, we had lots of fun. And we still got lots of work done in class, talking about essay structure and how to make our introductory paragraphs more effective and interesting. It wasn’t ALL fun and games!

captain hook's grandma

Halloween in Michigan!

This is Logan’s (my grandson’s) third Halloween. He went from a cow on his first Halloween to a cowboy for his second. Now that he’s 2 1/2, he was able (thankfully) to choose his own costume, and he chose Captain Hook! I don’t know if it’s because his father is a volunteer fire fighter, but my sister, Laurie, got Logan a fire department toy set as a gift. Logan likes playing with the dispatch gizmo that came with it. Apparently, Logan and “Captain Hook” have been having fairly regular exchanges over this dispatch toy. Here is a little snipped from a Facebook chat between me and my daughter, in which it is clear that Logan has Captain Hook on the brain.

Kate:  “Three minutes! Okay, goodbye” and after he hangs it up it starts again.

Me:      LOL  three minutes to what?  😉

Kate:  “Hi Captain Hook, How are you? Oh. Three minutes. Okay, goodbye”

Kate:    I have no idea, but that’s the general conversation.

Me:      That’s hysterical!

Kate:    They always end with “Okay, goodbye”

We will never know what was going through Logan’s mind, but here he is, as his current alter ego, Captain Hook!

captain hook

And for those of you who missed it, this post of Halloween music assembled by Kate and me is offered for your viewing and listening pleasure!.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  🙂

One-Liner Wednesday: All in the Family

family photo blue shirt memoThe wedding last weekend was the first time my four children had all been in the same location in ten years. As my daughter showed me this photo from her phone, she made the same comment that Tom (the one on the right) made on Facebook after said daughter posted the photo:

Didn’t get the memo for blue shirt.”

One-Liner Wednesday is brought to you by LindaGHill.

The More Mickey Mouse Monday

mickey bpFor those of you who can’t get enough Mickey Mouse, I’ve rounded up a few more photos from Friday’s wedding reception. Obviously, this is the wedding party. After Mickey “crashed” the reception and helped us dance part of the night away, he was willing to pose for pictures with anyone who wanted to go out there. At some point, there will be a picture with Mickey, my son, the groom, and me; but you have to wait for the official pictures.

Pictures of my daughter, one with her brother and one with Mickey. I’m sure you can figure it out.  🙂dkMickey 2 K

And of course, there was plenty of dancing before these posed photos. Mickey is a great dancer, and he has lots of energy to spare. He definitely lit up the dance floor!

Here are just a few of the highlights.One with the bride, one with bride and groom, and one just hamming it up with the guests.

Mickey 1 JMickey 3 dandjmickey generalI hope these hold you over for a while. If you missed the initial wedding post, you can find it here.

If We Were Having Coffee: The Magical Wedding Edition

weekendcoffeesharebridal partyIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m recovering from my whirlwind trip to Orlando where I had the joy of witnessing my oldest son, Doug, marry the love of his life, Jessica. Even if the reception hadn’t been held at Disney, it was a magical experience. The love and friendship these two share is a privilege to see. I don’t know if it was because it was because Doug is the last of my children to marry or that I was tired from the travel, but I shed so many happy tears,

first danceIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I think I figured out what the tears were about. I am so thankful to Jessica and her family for the gift she is to my son. In my 37 years of being a mother to Doug, I have seen him in many happy moments, but nothing compares to the deep joy and happiness I see in him now. He waited a long time to find her, but it was definitely worth the wait. Just seeing the two of them together would make me tear up. Just writing about the two of them together makes me tear up even now.

I’d also tell you that as wonderful as it is to witness the depth of Doug and Jess’s  relationship and the potential it has to deepen over the years, I was able to see another relationship that is beautifully evolving into an amazing treasure. Erik and Mindy have been married just over two years, but I’ve missed much of their time together while I was in Taiwan. I’ve known from talking to Mindy online (and from their photos) that they had a good thing going, but seeing them together for myself made my heart melt.(Doug, Jessica, Erik, and Mindy all live in Florida.)

two benner couplesIf we were having coffee, I’d show you this photo that my daughter, Kate took. Along with Jess and Doug, she managed to capture  Erik and Mindy dancing along side of them, How could I not be thrilled to see these two couples so obviously in love with each other.

I’d tell you that Friday’s wedding put the finishing touch on a miracle that every mother dreams of — to see all of her children married to people who love them. Even though Tom and Kate’s spouses couldn’t be with us in Florida (Gabe is in the middle of the harvest season, and Megan stayed at home with 7-week-old Jack), I feel blessed to have these wonderful individuals as part of our family. I treasure each and every one of them.

I’d tell you that there is more to come about the time I spent with my children. That this was the first time in ten years that we were all together. So until more of those photos come in, I’d like to share some of the fun from the Disney wedding, particularly the part where Mickey came in to join in the fun.

mickey wedding partyBut even more fun!  🙂

Jessica and MickeyIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that in spite of the fact it was such a whirlwind (I arrived in Orlando just before midnight on Wednesday and departed at 7:30 am on Saturday), it was an enchanted weekend. I got to spend time with all of my children and with each of them individually.  Including this special moment with my son.  ❤

dance with DougBe forewarned. This isn’t the end of the wedding pictures. Of of the stories that go with them.

with bride and groom reception

Have a good week!

Eating for Two

thumb_menu_5OK, it’s not what you think. I have no pregnancy news for me (obviously) or for any of my offspring. But I have a story to tell you that involves my husband and my parents.

If you looked at my cool post from Sunday (with lots of pictures of Dave and me during our time in Taiwan), you know that Dave and I celebrated our wedding anniversary from afar — he in Iowa, I in Michigan. We did cool things like text each other, exchange emails, and had our daily phone conversation. I know–so romantic. The above-mentioned post was my surprise “gift” to him, and in that post, I mentioned that he was sending me “coffee shop” money, because he’s just sweet that way. It melted my heart.  ❤

After our first text messages, but before he was online to do email, I went out into the kitchen for more coffee. I ended up joining my parents for breakfast. Now what you DON’T know is that I have been cooking up a storm while I’m at my parents’ house. And since I had a few more days this week than usual, I had quite a wad of recipes I was working my way through. So I asked my parents if they would prefer that day’s entree (chicken pot pie) for a late lunch around 2 or closer to supper time at 5. To me, it seemed a pretty straightforward question, but my parents just looked at each other, and neither answered.

OK, I admit to being puzzled. I don’t remember who actually broke the silence, but I do remember my father saying, “I’m not going to tell her. It’s your idea.” And then she told me that they wanted to take me out for dinner for “my” anniversary. Damn, there was my heart melting again! How sweet is that?  ❤  They said I could choose the place and the time (although my Dad later mentioned that his preference would be to go after the Lions game). Which turned out to be a good choice, since the Lions won their first game of the season, in overtime no less.

So when Dave and I started emailing, I told him about my parents’ lovely gesture. And in part of the exchange, he mentioned that I would be “eating for two” since he couldn’t be there. I laughed, and so did my parents when I told them later what he had said.

NOTE: I’m terrible at taking pictures of food because I always forget. It’s a little embarrassing, considering I have a daughter-in-law with an awesome food blog, but it’s true. In fact, if the truth be known, photography is NOT high on my list of “can-do” things. But when I went to clip-art, I found a “breakfast” looking thing, which works out well for the omelets we all had–Greek for me.

Even though the restaurant (that will remain unnamed) is usually pretty good, we weren’t impressed, but still, it’s the thought that counts. And I was really touched by my parents’ willingness to help me celebrate the anniversary, even if Dave and I couldn’t be together for it. NEXT year, we WILL be together.  🙂


If We Were Having Coffee: Wedding Anniversary Edition

weekendcoffeeshareIf we were having coffee, I would tell you that today Dave and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary. And you’d get stuck looking at some of the photos from our last four years in Taiwan. Because . . . .  well, that’s just what I’d be doing.

11781604_10152974692328199_3536905508622619567_nIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’d love to be having coffee with my husband today (even though he’d be drinking tea or hot cocoa or some other hot beverage), but we are about ten hours apart by car. The good news is that it is now only sixty days until we can spend three weeks together.

10344783_10204041981792703_4415912532330656022_nIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that we’re well past the half-way point of our separation now. I left Taiwan on July 27, so it’s been about 83 days since we’ve seen each other — not that I’m counting. 😉

10454327_10152988090771483_5489195152920142603_nIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the nightly calls are what keep us going. Dave doesn’t have Internet at the house, so we haven’t actually “seen” each other during the last 83 days. So we’re really really really really looking forward to December 16.


I’d tell you that this isn’t bad compared to the first two years that I was in Taiwan. During that time, Dave stayed in the US, since we thought Taiwan was going to be a relatively short-term (as in one to two years) stint for me. So the first year I went to teach, we went from late August to late June the following year. Then we had two months together, before doing another ten months apart. For sanity’s sake, we had decided that if it went more than two years, he would join me. So he was there for the last four of my six years there.

10403367_4214970670146_467659163702280358_nI’d tell you that Dave is one of the sweetest guys around. I am so lucky to have him. While I was planning this post for our anniversary, he had ideas of his own about a surprise for me. But he couldn’t totally surprise me because he needed “help” from one of my parents. So he ended up telling me what his plan was so that it could be executed. Even so, finding out on the phone was such a lovely surprise.11745541_1139276412754388_8470773472276917277_n

I’d tell you that Dave used to walk me to a coffee shop in Taiwan (seen below) almost every day for the last year of our time there. I would kill three birds with one stone. It gave me a walk (actually one there, and then another on the way home), I got great coffee, and I got quite a bit of work done there.

11261103_892022420836239_1626546465_nSo when Dave asked me a couple of weeks ago if I had found any good coffee shops to hang out in, I told him that I was mostly having coffee at home. That I occasionally had coffee out, but I was trying to save money. And then last week, he brought up our anniversary. (I hadn’t because I wanted this post to be a surprise, so I was acting nonchalant.) Then he started talking about me not having a local bank account and his starter checks, and I wasn’t really connecting. But he was asking me if it would be a good idea to just write a check to one of my parents, because . . . .

11707551_974605962560652_494162610926881268_n. . . . he’s sending me a check to be used for “coffee money.” How sweet is that?  ❤

11698532_10152951464903199_5626672040888147900_nIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that next week will be amazing. The eldest son marries a wonderful woman, and there will be lots to share.

Have a great week! (and lots of coffee!)


Today’s Quote

This is a good reminder to me as I am still trying to make sense of a “productive” day-to-day life.

Soul Gatherings

sunset II

To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people,
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics,
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;
to know that even one life
has breathed easier
because you lived.
That is to have succeeded.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

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Still Finding the Stillness: Stream of Consciousness Saturday

socs-badge-2015This week, from Linda Hill: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “still.”  Use any definition of the word in your post. Have fun!

In my moments of stillness, I still can’t figure out I most want to target among the tasks ahead. They don’t come together in any meaningful way right now. I’m trying to reach a vision of clarity so that the direction that leads there becomes clear, but it’s still frustrating to have so many things up in the air.

In the meantime, I still have other things that bring me a smile and a sense of contentment: my weekly dinner with my friend, Susan; my weekend quilting sessions at my parents’ house, where Jacks quilt is steadily moving forward; cooking meals for my parents; and talking to Dave every night on the phone.

Those phone calls are interesting as Dave and I are still in conversation about which location (Michigan or Iowa) makes the most sense for us. While I like being back in Michigan and being with my family, I have to admit that I am not spending as much time with them as I thought I would — other than my parents. And while I am so happy to have the time with them, they are not as isolated as Dave’s sister sometimes seems to be. It seems like Dave sometimes feels torn between wanting to help his sister and missing the hell out of us being together. So why not join him there and make the most of that location. I think it could work.

Obviously, I’m still a bit tangled up, but we’ll keep the conversation going. As it does, I will continue to sort out what kind of work I really want to do and then find the opportunities that will allow me to do that. In the meantime, the only thing I need to do is to breathe and provide myself with plenty of stillness where the clarity to emerge.

Thanks to Linda Hill for posting. It’s so much fun to do and to see how everyone else uses the prompt as well. Check it out: http://lindaghill.com/2015/10/16/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-1715/

Wildlife Wednesday: My First Post

public-domain-images-free-stock-photos-autumnTina at My Gardener Says has a feature called Wildlife Wednesday that happens on the first Wednesday of each month. Whenever I see this post and all the people who join in with their photos, I am always fascinated by the vast array of wildlife that is posted. Every time I see it, I think I should post something, but until today, it never happened. Usually, because I can’t seem to keep the first Wednesday of the month on my radar. But this time, I did because I saw an intriguing photo on Facebook over the weekend that triggered my Wildlife Wednesday memory.

OK, now I need to admit that I take a few liberties with my intended postings for this challenge. Some might call it cheating. But I decided that I needed to remove the obstacles to participation that have been holding me back, such as . . .

  • I don’t have a garden.
  • I take very few pictures of anything, let alone wildlife.
  • I don’t blog regularly.
  • I don’t have a real blogging plan at the moment.
  • I obviously can’t keep the first Wednesday of the month on my radar.

Tina’s rationale for this monthly feature:

Until Wildlife Wednesday, there wasn’t a specific blogging day dedicated to the celebration of wildlife in the garden and I wanted to change that. I’ve invited enthusiastic garden bloggers everywhere to snap photos of the wild visitors in your gardens and then to join me on the first Wednesday of each month to share posts about those wild ones you encounter.  Photograph and write about any kind of wildlife that interests you.

I’d like to be a purist, but obviously I get in my own way. But I have to admit that Tina’s blog has changed my opinion of certain forms of wildlife, like wasps, for example. Don’t get me wrong: I still don’t like them, but I have a little more respect for them and the contribution they make. If you don’t believe me, check it out. Maybe it will change your mind, too.  🙂

So based on the impact of Wildlife Wednesdays on my wasp perceptions and my fascination with garden wildlife in general, I’ve made a few adaptations in the rationale to allow my participation. 🙂

  • I don’t have a garden. (Hell, I don’t even have my own place to live . . . yet. But I can approach the world around me as one huge garden, right?)
  • I take very few pictures of anything, let alone wildlife. (I’m really not much of a photographer. I get caught up in the moment, and even if I have a camera nearby, I tend to sort of forget. So I’m rarely quick enough when it comes to the wildlife I encounter. However, I have enlisted the help of my husband and a few friends when wildlife happens to cross my path. And they are so cool, they let me use the photos.)
  • I don’t blog regularly. (Blogging is something that is gradually becoming more frequent if not quite regular yet. But as I get settled in my new “temporary” home, I’m hoping that trend will continue.)
  • I don’t have a real blogging plan at the moment. (I’m going to establish a blogging calendar that has the first Wednesday of the month blocked out for a wildlife entry.)
  • I obviously can’t keep the first Wednesday of the month on my radar. (See above.)

So, I have a few ideas (and photos) that would work based on my adjusted rules. I also will only post one photo or a few if it’s one type of critter. No multiple critters in my posts, although I am always fascinated by how many visitors show up in Tina’s garden.

For the first few months, I’m going to focus on some bits of wildlife photography I have from Taiwan. While most of the photos I plan to use are already in my possession, the picture below is my most recent acquisition, picked up just last weekend. Since it was this photo that reminded me of Wildlife Wednesday, I’m going to start with it. Now I know that many people have a thing about spiders, but it’s October–Halloween, and all that spooky stuff. Besides, I’ve always been in awe of the web-making skills of the spider.

So when I saw this photo, I immediately messaged 黃文頤 (one of my former students) to get his ok to post it. Although, I don’t have any specifics about the name or size of this spider, I do know the photo was taken on Xiangshan Mountain (or Elephant Mountain) in Taipei. There are many beautiful things to see there, but here is a very small snapshot of the wildlife that exists there. So enjoy, for those of you who can. For those who can’t, I’ll have less scary photos next month.

spiderIf you want to join in or check out the amazing wildlife photos that are generated by this challenge, head over to visit Tina’s blog at: http://mygardenersays.com/2015/10/06/wildlife-wednesday-october-2015/

If We Were Having Coffee: Embracing October

weekendcoffeeshareSuch a fun way to recap the week with friends. Sometimes, when things get busy and I can’t find time to post, this medium is absolutely perfect for getting reconnected. Thanks to Diana at Part-Time Monster for hosting.

If we were having coffee,

GeniusI’d tell you that Jack (my new grandson) is now a month old! It seems like only yesterday that I was holding the day-old angel. It’s so cliche to talk about how time flies, but I swear this little guy will be in school before I know it.

Which is why I’d also tell you that last night I did some work on the quilt I’m making for Jack, and I plan to do more on it tonight. I’d love to show you pictures of what’s going on with it, but I gave Jack’s mother the option, and she prefers to be surprised, so I’ll post pictures AFTER it’s completed. Have no fear: I’m taking photos along the way.

I’d also tell you (or remind you) that Jack’s mother, Megan has an awesome blog featuring recipes, restaurant reviews, and lots of other amazing things at MegGoesNomNom. 

And finally (when it comes to Jack), I’d tell you that I need to get back to see that guy again!

If we were having coffee,

loganhatdayI’d tell you that I did see my other grandson, Logan, on Friday. He is four and a half and  is enjoying preschool, especially the bus ride on the way there. He even learned his bus driver’s name before his teacher’s name. He goes four days a week, so Friday was a good day to go visiting.

Logan likes wearing the days of the week socks that his paternal grandfather got for him. Not that Kate needs help keeping up to date on laundry, but Logan now has a vested interest since he wants to make sure that the socks are reading for the rotation when Monday morning rolls around.

I’d tell you how much fun Logan had with spirit week at school. On Monday, it was Sports Day, and Tuesday was Beach Day. The picture here is from Wednesday or Hat Day. On Thursday, it was Mismatch Day. Kate, who blogs at Sincerely Kate, took pictures each day before he caught the bus.

If we were having coffee,

enggment_photoI’d tell you that three weeks from today, I’ll be returning from Orlando and my eldest son’s wedding. He and Jessica are so happy. Doug waited a long time for this moment, and I’m glad he found someone who brings joy to his life. I think she’s pretty happy with him, too.  🙂

I’d also mention that it will be the first time in ten years that all four of my children will be in the same place at the same time. The last time was when we celebrated my 50th birthday (and my college graduation and acceptance to grad school). For the wedding in October, Jack and his mother won’t make the trip, but Jack’s father (son #3) will come down for a couple days, as he and his brother are both standing in the wedding. So family pictures are definitely in the plans during all these festivities.

I’d tell you that Jessica, my daughter-in-law to be, has worked at Disney for several years, and that after the ceremony at church, we will celebrate the reception at Disney. It will be my first visit to Disney.

Although my parents would like to go to the wedding, the trip from Michigan to Florida is just too much right now, so they will cheer from the sidelines, and we will make sure to bring lots of pictures back for them.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I spent some time yesterday with my mother going through the loose recipes she has. We started organizing them into categories and selected a few that looked especially inviting for the near future. I also did a lot of cooking yesterday: a pasta salad that will last a few days, a spaghetti squash, a tomato spaghetti sauce to go along with said squash, and some apple crisp. It’s actually kind of fun. It’s been so long since I’ve done much cooking that I enjoy it. I don’t think my parents mind either. I do take requests.  🙂 And I’m already thinking about what I’ll make next time.

If we were having coffee,

I’d wish you a great week and tell you how much I look forward to catching up again next week.

Join in the fun at: http://parttimemonster.com/2015/10/03/weekendcoffeeshare-first-week-of-october-edition/