THE EMPTY NEST AND CELEBRATIONS

There is one thing no one tells you about the empty nest season. No one tells you how much more complicated it is to get everyone together for celebrations. May is a busy month for our family. With two birthdays, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day on the calendar, it can be quite the juggling act to do it all.

When my children were young planning was easy because I controlled the calendar!! I decided the when, what and where of all the celebrations. And I made it happen.

Now that we have an empty nest, I can only control my calendar. My lovely daughters have their own lives and obligations to work, children, and other family and friends. And this is how it should be!

I mean how dare they develop their own lives and manage them well! LOL Of course, I am just kidding. Robby and I raised them to make their own way and that is exactly what they are doing. We are so proud of them both, but planning a family event can be a bit of a challenge.

Expectations

Robby and I have had to learn to adjust our expectations about family celebrations. It’s simply not realistic to expect your adult children to drop everything and attend every family event you want to plan. That kind of thinking will only lead to disappointment.

We both have learned to be more flexible with the dates of important events so that we hopefully achieve a time together that works for everyone. We also understand that there will be times when everyone can’t attend and we are okay with that.

The Planning

My husband, Robby, is one of the May birthdays. His birthday happened to fall on a Saturday this year. In addition, our daughter in Savannah had the weekend off from work. (This rarely happens!) Our older daughter was free that Saturday as well. It seemed that things were lining up for a gathering. The wheels in my mind were turning and I was not going to let this opportunity escape me.

Considering our grandchildren are little and get TIRED in the evening, I decided to plan a birthday brunch for Robby. Who doesn’t love brunch, right? Fortunately everyone agreed, marked their calendars and reservations were made for a 1:00p.m. brunch birthday celebration!

The People

Our daughter from Savannah arrived in time to visit and open gifts she purchased for her dad. It was a little taste of how things used to be and that was a good feeling.

After some chatting, we made our way to the restaurant with coconut cake in hand. (Robby’s favorite!) Our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren met us there and the fun began.

To have our whole family together, sitting around a table, for Robby’s birthday was the best present he could have received.

Brunch

Brunch was delicious but catching up and laughing at both present and past shenanigans made it even better. We filled our tummies and souls with good food and conversation. The times when the nest is temporarily full again are precious and coveted.

Although brunch had to come to an end, we carried the fun outside for some candid family pics. It’s been quite a while since we were all in the same place, dressed and ready for pics! This momma was quite happy. It was a beautiful day and this special occasion is captured forever. Thanks to our son-in-law Randy for taking this great pic of Robby and all his girls!

Empty nest family pic

It’s not likely that all of us will be able to get together again in May, but this time spent together will carry us through until the next time!

Final Thoughts

The empty nest requires flexibility and the adjustment of expectations. Don’t be disappointed when things don’t turn out exactly how you want them to. Instead, be creative, flexible and willing to travel when planning family events. You have to meet your adult children where they are.

Remember, it’s always better to get some of what you do want rather than all of what you don’t.

A DAY FOR STAYING INSIDE

Another trip to my cabin in the woods is in the books. We managed to get a four day weekend out of this trip to celebrate Robby’s birthday in the mountains. The weather in Maggie Valley is always quickly changing so our plans are usually flexible. Good thing we planned it that way because Saturday was a day for staying inside.

The Travel

We left Friday morning by 8:30a.m. and hoped to arrive by 12:30p.m. Traffic on I-26 had other ideas. An accident (always unfortunate) jammed up the interstate and added an extra 30 minutes to our journey. My bladder and my dog Charlie were pushed to the limit!! LOL

The sun was shining brightly for the entire trip until we arrived in Maggie Valley. There, it was overcast but no rain was in the forecast. This was good as we had several tasks to accomplish once we unloaded.

The Tasks

On the last day of our previous visit, our internet modem decided to break. The internet provider is only open during the week so we had to wait until this trip to try and replace it.

Robby unloaded the car, I walked the dog, mentally made a grocery list, unplugged the broken modem and off to the internet storefront we went. Since we’re “part-timers” in Maggie Valley, we were not exactly sure where we were going, but thanks to Google, we arrived in plenty of time.

The beauty of a small town is definitely excellent service. The internet folks were so nice and helpful. I was in and out with a brand new modem in 5 minutes. Wow! That was easy!

Now we headed to the grocery store to pick up what we needed for our stay. Again, Robby and I seemed to be working together with ease, filling our basket and heading home as quickly as possible.

After unloading again, we put away the groceries, ate our late lunch from the deli and took a minute to just breathe in the view. The beauty of the mountains from our kitchen table simply makes everything else seem unimportant. Well, everything except our need for WiFi!!!

Technology – The Installation

A glass of Pinot Grigio gave me the confidence (LOL) to take on the task of modem installation. Although I am not really tech savvy, for some reason all of the technology installs have been done by ME!! Probably because I read the instructions and Robby doesn’t! FYI He’s great at everything else!!!!!

The install instructions were basically plug it in, activate and you’re good to go. So, I plugged it in, tried to activate, but was NOT good to go. I called the number for help and hoped that the call would not be a trip around the mountain of frustration. I needed this to work, otherwise we would have no TV, no Ipads, no computer. We would only be able to use our phones on 5G. I mean that’s almost like being “off the grid”.

My call was answered by a lovely lady named Brandy and she was so sweet, patient and helpful. She confidently declared “I can get this fixed for you with no problem.” Although past experiences with this kind of thing have not proven to be “easy”, I believed her. She did some kind of fancy stuff on her end and just like that, the modem was working!

I thanked her for her help, gave her an excellent review on the post service survey and proceeded to enjoy a little relaxation with Netflix! I couldn’t believe we still had hours of daylight to enjoy ourselves.

What’s Next

With all of my tasks complete I wasn’t quite sure what to do next. It seemed like time slowed down when we arrived at our “happy place”. Time is such a precious commodity these days and Robby and I intended to embrace the time for rest. We spent the remainder of the evening sitting by the fire pit, sipping our beverage, looking at the amazing view, listening to the quiet and watching the darkness slowly take over the valley.

These are the moments that are good for the soul! Moments that are pure. Thoughts that are beautiful! They have no agenda. All that is required is to be present.

Morning Walks

Saturday morning began around 6:30a.m. Charlie needed a walk and it was time to get some coffee in my body. I knew the weather forecast was for rain most of the day on Saturday, so I was glad to get my Charlie out for his morning walk. He just loves to investigate all the new smells that the mountain has to offer.

It’s quite a funny thing, me in my PJs, walking Charlie and keeping watch for bears. Yes, we have bears and it is cub season, so anything is possible. We made it safely back to the cabin and after giving treats, I began cooking breakfast.

The Rain

About two hours later the rain arrived. We had no plans for the day except for a dinner reservation in town at 6:00p.m. As I listened to the rain falling, I felt a sense of calm. The rhythm of the rain on the roof and falling on the newly green leaves was music to my soul. I could see the clouds approaching and knew they would soon take over the mountain and surround our cabin with a mysterious fog.

Pic of rain
Pic of rain and a day for staying inside
Pic of rain in woods

It’s the kind of day for staying inside. A day to rest, think, read, write or simply sit by the fire with your loyal little dog. Another day to slow down a little and just be present. I love these kinds of days, especially at the cabin. Every room has a view and rain or shine the beauty of this place captures you and draws you in.

Thoughts with purpose and thoughts with no purpose at all find their way through your mind. Some stick and some don’t. There is often great revelation as well as no revelation at all. And that’s the beauty of a day for staying inside. Giving your mind and body time to get in alignment again.

Next Day

On Sunday, the sun was shining again. Today Robby and I planned to venture out to enjoy small town life and of course a stop at our favorite Wine Bar. However, Robby changed his mind and decided that hanging around the cabin and enjoying the beautiful weather was his preference. I agreed! The rain on Saturday made the sunshine at the cabin even more enjoyable.

We both found things we wanted to work on and simply let the day unfold as it desired. Around 4:00p.m. it was fire pit time and Robby and I enjoyed some beverages and light reading with a view! Feeling both mentally and physically refreshed, we discussed the solutions to all the world’s problems!

Pic of fire pit view of mountain

We didn’t really solve anything of course, but good wine and good conversation seem to make everything feel a little better. We ended the evening with New York Strips on the grill and a few episodes of “Expedition Bigfoot”! LOL I mean what else do you watch to freak yourself out at your cabin in the woods!

Final Thoughts

I hope you embrace the rainy days that are only fit for staying inside. These are the days where your mind and body can rest and dream. You may even catch a new vision or purpose for your life when you take the time to slow down and just be present.

The world seems to be moving at an ever growing pace. But, you don’t have to! Slow down when you can and take time to reset.

Hoping you all find your “Happy Place”!

REVIEW OF TASTE AND SEE: DISCOVERING GOD AMONG BUTCHERS BAKERS AND FRESH FOOD MAKERS By: Margaret Feinberg

I really had no idea what to expect from this book. Our married couples small group began reading this book as the focus for our eight week spring meeting season. What I discovered is that “Taste and See” is a journey of discovery, hospitality and community.

The gift of hospitality is not a natural strength for me personally. I am a social introvert so I do enjoy a gathering or dinner out with others, but regularly inviting people in my home gives me great anxiety.

To quote the author, “Hospitality has a hidden power that is difficult to explain but even harder to deny. …. Home is not the building you live in; home is wherever you are understood.

Those powerful words drew me in as this is definitely what our world needs more of. You see what we all really desire is friendship and to connect with others. We were made for community.

We also desire meaning and purpose in our lives. A longing to know with confidence that God still cares for us and that our lives matter.

The Journey

Margaret Feinberg takes the reader on a journey beginning in Genesis that reveals how God has not only provided for our need of food, but that He wants it to be enjoyed as well.

She reveals that food in the Bible is not just “a commodity to be consumed“. It is sacred and symbolic throughout the Old and New Testament.

I have never thought much about the importance of food in the Bible before. After reading this book I have a whole new perspective about food, provision, and the importance of the table.

The Topics

You may be thinking what food is mentioned in the Bible and what could possibly be the deeper meaning? The author skillfully takes you on both a historical and present day journey to discover 6 purpose filled foods in the Bible.

She immerses herself culturally in her research and shares what she learns. I never realized there was so much to discover about fish, figs, bread, salt, olives and lamb. These 6 foods do so much more than just satisfy hunger.

Every chapter is filled with facts and revelation that both inspire and challenge the mind and soul.

Final Thoughts

Taste and See is one of the most beautifully written books that I have ever read. It is almost like reading poetry. The author tells a story and paints a picture at the same time. I found it hard to put down as each chapter draws you in to see a higher purpose.

You see the table is so much more than just a place to eat. The table is a place where both our physical and spiritual hunger are satisfied.

It is a place for community where the soul is nourished and relationships grow. In the final chapter, the author says “Every table is a doorway, an entrance into a holy and sacred communion with God and those around us.

My perspective about sharing a meal has changed. I want my table to always be a place of acceptance, provision and caring. A place where all are welcome and relationships are nurtured and people are considered precious.

I highly recommend this book and hope you all KEEP ON READING!

DIY FRONT DOOR MAKEOVER WITH SPRAY PAINT

I recently decided the time had come for a DIY front door makeover. Over the past 11 years, our front door has had a lot of use. Family and friends have been welcomed into our home through a beautiful red door. At least it used to be beautiful.

Afternoon sun, hurricanes, a 1000 year flood and South Carolina humidity had taken a toll on my beautiful red door. It was dull and had paint chipping in various spots. Not exactly the welcome that I wanted to give our guests.

Curb appeal is important to me and this door needed a makeover ASAP! Fortunately, (or unfortunately for my husband!), I’ve watched enough HGTV to hatch a masterplan to redo the door ourselves! My husband just LOVES my DIY projects! LOL

The Plan

It was obvious that the door needed some sanding and a new coat of paint. The color, kind of paint and timing of this project was put in my hands and I “ran” with it.

I wanted the door to match our DIY stained garage doors so the color would be a dark brown. The house numbers, kickplate, door knocker and handle would need to be silver, so they would show up on the dark color of the door.

My husband wasn’t to sure about my vision, but he learned a long time ago that I’m usually right and “happy wife, happy life”!

The one thing we did agree on was that the door needed to come down and we would spray paint it. This actually made me so happy because I am a gal who loves a can of spray paint!

The variety and quality of spray paint have drastically improved over the years. You can find just about every color, even metallics for just about every kind of surface.

I find spray paint to be a very inexpensive solution to breathing “new life” into a worn out item. Whether it’s furniture, picture frames, metal hardware or a front door, spray paint can transform “ugly” into a “thing of beauty”.

The Process

Since we would need to take the door down, I knew we needed the perfect weather day. It couldn’t be too hot or too cold. Also, it couldn’t rain since we would be spraying everything outside in the driveway.

I watched the weather meticulously, looking for that perfect weather weekend. And just like that, it happened! A Saturday that would be overcast but pleasant with no rain and low humidity. This was our window to move this project into the “done” zone.

I bought plenty of spray paint and prepped my husband for Saturday’s mission. We would start in the morning and be done by dinnertime. I was confident in my plan and everything was a GO! (Perhaps that paragraph was a little dramatic, but that it is exactly how excited I was for this project!)

Spray Paint Purchased

The Project

Saturday morning arrived and by 8:30a.m. Robby had the door down and was sanding it for me. To keep our dog inside and the bugs outside, I placed a baby gate and a sheet across the door opening. It worked perfectly.

Robby hard at work
Temporary closing off of doorway

Robby pressure washed everything including the hardware so it would be clean for painting. Once everything was dry, I started applying the first coat of spray paint to the door. For anyone considering this kind of project, I highly recommend purchasing a trigger for spray cans. They are inexpensive and will save your hand and provide a more even coverage of paint.

The transformation with just one coat was amazing. I could see my vision coming to life.

While the first coat dried, I spray painted all the door fixtures “silver chrome”. I was a little nervous about how it would turn out but the bright silver was gorgeous.

First Coat of paint on door
pic of door hardware
pic of first coat of silver on hardware

As a side note, any time you work with metallic paint, it will play tricks on your eyes. The way the light catches the metallic color can cause you to miss spots. It can be quite a challenge to make sure you cover everything evenly.

After putting away some laundry inside, I came back out and sprayed on coat number two. I could tell that this was going to cover the old red paint completely and would likely be the last coat.

The door fixtures received one more coat as well and now all that was left was to wait. The sun began to emerge, so we carefully moved the door and fixtures onto the porch so they would dry properly without the heat of the direct sun.

The Finish Line

Around 5:00p.m., we decided the door was dry enough to reinstall all the fixtures and to attempt rehanging. This DIY front door makeover was approaching the finish line!

While the door was dry to the touch, we couldn’t handle it with any force yet. It takes a solid 24 hours for the paint to completely dry.

Robby was a trooper and gently got everything back on the door. Rehanging it took a little extra effort, but he got it done! Robby rocks!!!!

As we stood back and admired our work, we both agreed “it looks great”! What a transformation! And YES, Robby loved it!

Pic of almost finished DIY Front Door Makeover

Final Thoughts

Hard to believe a vision, a little “elbow grease” and a can of spray paint can give new life to what was old and worn. This DIY front door makeover was definitely a success.

P.S. After putting my “freshened up” wreath on the door, I realized that my lanterns needed a little love as well. So, I got some cardboard out and spray painted the lanterns too! Satisfied, I put the spray cans away and at last I think I’m DONE!!

Pic of finished DIY Front Door Makeover
Finally Satisfied!

LUNCHING IN SAVANNAH

Where do you want to be when the spring air is warm, humidity is low, calendar is empty and your daughter has the day off? The obvious answer is lunching in Savannah!

Our youngest daughter is quite busy working full time and going to school online. Her days off are usually filled with all of the things she “needs” to get done.

But, every now then things work out for a “Mom visit”. What is a “Mom visit” you ask? It is usually a day trip where I drive down to Savannah, arrive before lunch and leave by dinner. Wednesday was one of those magical days where everything lined up perfectly and a “Mom visit” was on the calendar.

Heading Down

It was spring break for most, so I knew I-95 would be busy. I left by 8:00 a.m., filled the gas tank and with the exception of some road work, arrived with no trouble by 11:00 a.m.

The drive through historic downtown to my daughter’s apartment makes me feel like I am in a whole new world. It is so different than suburbia. In addition, parallel parking on the street reminds me that I should practice that skill more often! LOL

Her duplex apartment is so cute and charming. I smile every time I see it. Also, I secretly want it for myself. (She knows this by the way!)

After a few hugs and kisses from my daughter, her cat Lina graces me with some meows and allows me to pet her. She is a very sweet and snuggly cat and she “talks” ALL the time. There is never a phone conversation where Lina doesn’t put her 2 cents in! Mimi loves her little Lina.

Me and my daughter at apartment
Lina the cat

The Days Adventure

Hungry tummies dictate our agenda and off we go to our favorite lunch spot. The restaurant is actually named “The 5 Spot“. It is outside of downtown Savannah so parking is easier and we can usually get in without a reservation. We have come to lovingly call it “Our Spot”.

The food is delicious and the atmosphere is industrial/casual. Our favorite dishes are ordered, as well as a glass of Chardonnay for me. The thought of being “fancy ladies” lunching in Savannah makes us giggle.

We may not be truly fancy, but good food, good company and good conversation delights the soul. It is GOOD to catch up face to face.

The 5 Spot menu
pic of lunch

Lunch is done and now we head downtown to do a little strolling and perhaps some shopping. I mean it is Savannah!

Adventures Downtown

My daughter is driving us – thank goodness – in her compact car. Trust me, you don’t want me trying to navigate downtown Savannah streets. She knows this town like the back of her hand now and we arrive at a parking garage in no time.

Picture in car

We stop in the store where she works and say hello to her co-workers. I love that she wants “mom” to meet everyone! I do make a purchase while there … that’s what good moms do on a “Mom visit”!

With my purchase in hand we head out in search of a home decor boutique that I had wanted to visit. The streets of Savannah were busy with people again as life returns from COVID.

I love walking and window shopping. The weather was perfect and Savannah is loaded with lovely boutiques beckoning you to come inside.

We finally arrived at the store I had admired and it did not disappoint. The items where unique, some hand crafted and the quality was of a very high standard. That also means the price was high as well!

I purchased a lovely journal. This was all that was in my budget and we made our way to another shop nearby. Oh how I wanted something on every shelf in the store. It contained unique jewelry, purses, clothing, home decor, glassware and serving pieces. It is the kind of store that ladies who are lunching in Savannah would frequent!

After smelling all the candles, picking up all of the stemware and looking at every single item, we began our walk back. Realizing it was quite warm and we were a little dehydrated, a stop at “Paris Market” was in order.

Thoughts of Paris

Again, the “Paris Market” is another one of our favorite stops. Yes, it is French and there is a cafe serving coffee, wine, pastries and quiche. A beverage and a little rest hit the spot. This is a great place for people watching as it is right in the heart of downtown.

It’s the kind of place that smells delicious and invites conversation and connection. And that is exactly what we did.

pic of Savannah behind us
pic of wine at Paris Market

Once rested, we head back to the car. Ten minutes later we are inside the apartment reflecting on our day. Lina hops up for a little Mimi love and I try to soak it all in before having to leave.

Returning Home

“Mom visits”, of course, are never quite long enough. My daughter has homework still to do and a zoom meeting later in the evening. I have a 2.5 hour drive ahead and it is time to call it a day.

We don’t say goodbye, but rather “I’ll talk to you later and see you soon.” My drive is spent recounting all the fun we had!

“Mom visits” and lunching in Savannah are a tradition that I love and hope to continue for many years to come!

Never underestimate the impact that sharing a meal has with those you love and care about!