December 27, 2021

The Week In Between


Merry Christmas, my friends! I hope your Christmas was everything you dreamed it would be. A "Merry Christmas" means something different to each of us, and I pray you enjoyed Christmas in your own way. We certainly did here with family, fun, food, and home. Now we enter my most favorite week of the year. This week in between has always been a chance for us to spend time together, play new games, watch the Christmas movies we didn't get to yet, nibble on cookies, wait for Daddy to get home, and look forward to a brand new year. 

This week has changed of, course, as my children grew. It used to be we spent days in our jammies, playing with new Barbie houses or assembling Match Car garages. Now, two of my children have their own Christmas homes, but I am sure they will be here often. My Rhett goes to work, but he joins in on the fun when he gets home. Flynn and I will spend our days in our cozy clothes and open some of her new Legos and games. I have one appointment, and we are resuming our annual visit to my sister Margie's house for pizza and presents, after skipping last year because of Covid, but other than that, we will be home here together. 

Then in the blink of an eye, New Year's Eve will be here, and we will celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. At home. With food, fun, and family, of course. I will check in here this week and resume posting again next week. Until then, thank you for your friendship, visits, comments, and blogs, which bring me so much joy. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my friends!

Billie Jo

December 23, 2021

Merry Christmas!


Merry and Blessed Christmas, my friends. 
May this wonderful time of year bring you joy, peace, and love.
May you spend your days with those you love.
And may you find time to rest in the glow of twinkling Christmas tree lights.

Billie Jo

December 22, 2021

Getting Close!


Good Morning, my friends. Happy Wednesday of Christmas Week! What are you up to today? I have a few things to do before we ride around the lake, enjoy the decorated homes, and leave some Christmas treats on the doorsteps of friends and family. After that, we plan on a family movie night in front of the twinkling tree and cozy fire. I hope your day is happy, healthy, and jolly! Thanks for visiting. I am always glad you do!

Billie Jo

December 20, 2021

Happy Christmas Week!

Here we are, my friends. At the beginning of this most special week of the year. We are preparing for the magic of Christmas and all that it means to each of us. Whatever that is for you, I hope you enjoy each moment of preparation and then the fruits of your labor with the people you love. In other news, here are a few pictures of how we spent this past weekend together.

Saturday evening, I was preparing for bed when Nicolas called. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was applying toner to my face! He asked what I was doing after that. I told him I was putting on my pajamas?? Why? He said that he and Madison were going to watch a Christmas movie and wanted us to come over. Well, it is Christmas and so why not? Steve opted out because it was late, but Flynn, I, and Mocha grabbed a blanket and headed over. We snuggled in their cozy house and watched one of the best, underrated Christmas movies ever! If you have not seen it, please do! It is called Noelle, and it is so good! Madison set out some Danish cookies, and we had a wonderful time. 

Sunday morning, we watched a beautiful mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent from home. 

I also found some time to relax with a very good Christmas mystery in my cozy bed.

In addition and not pictured, I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher several times, sorted and washed, dried and folded several loads of laundry, organized and helped wrap presents for friends and neighbors, thought about without deciding on the menu for Christmas, and mopped the downstairs floors. Was there more to do? You bet! Did it bother me that I didn't? Nope. Thirty-year-old me? Yep. Fifty-two-year-old me is much older. And wiser.

How about you, my friends?
What are your plans for the week?
Whatever they are, enjoy!
We dream about this time of year, and it is finally here!

Billie Jo


December 17, 2021

One More Week

Hello, my friends. And Happy Friday. The last before the festivities of Christmas commence. Mocha is ready with her new hoodie, but not entirely. She is overdue for a trip to the groomer, which thankfully is Monday. As for me, I am getting there. Gifts need wrapping, menus need planning, and groceries need ordering. An advantage of age, I believe, is perspective. What gets done gets done. What doesn't, doesn't. What matters is us. Together. With some cozy tree lights, soft music, and festive foods. Here are a couple pictures of our little lake home at Christmas.

This week, Madison and Nicolas welcomed us all into their Christmas home for dinner and a movie night. (Another new tradition!) It was so lovely! They had fresh fruit and cheese and crackers, soup and sandwiches with various spreads, and cake for dessert. We played a game of Christmas Trivia and then snuggled in to watch a movie I had never seen. Are you ready for this? We watched It's A Wonderful Life! I had never seen it! And I loved it. Thank you, Madison and Nicolas, for a beautiful evening!

This is their tree. It is so beautiful! Their home is decorated with so many festive Danish touches, I felt as if I were in Denmark! I love that they embrace and celebrate Nicolas' beloved Denmark's joyous and beautiful culture. 

Well, that is all for now, my friends. Have a cozy weekend doing whatever makes you happy. Stay safe and healthy!

Billie Jo

December 14, 2021

Traditions ~ Old And New


If you have read here for a while, you know we are a family fond of tradition. Tradition makes me happy and brings joy, comfort, and memories that warm the heart. Some traditions remain, while as our children grow, we create new ones. Today I am sharing one of each. The first photo is this year's annual gingerbread house. This tradition began over seven years ago when Madison asked Flynn if she wanted to make a gingerbread house with her. This year was the seventh year these two have shared a special time together, assembling their Christmas tradition. And the second picture? One of the many precious photos of my firstborn and my last. 

A new tradition this year? Peyton and Christopher invited all of us to their new home for a Christmas cookie decorating evening. Peyton made the cookies earlier in the day and then prepared the icing and other assorted decorations. We had pizza first and then listened to Christmas music as we decorated the cookies. Afterward, Christopher made homemade hot chocolate for us all. It was a wonderful evening, and I hope the start of a new tradition! 

How do you feel as we get closer and closer to Christmas, my friends? Are you in disbelief as I am that it is indeed actually Christmastime again? Depending on your stage of life, this time of year can be pretty busy with all kinds of plays, parties, school events, concerts, and shopping trips. Enjoy them all. Those years pass quickly. Remember to spend some time in the evenings, with the tree lights glowing, a fire crackling, and music playing. This is the time, my friends. Enjoy.

P.S. If you happen to have Dish for television, they have an excellent channel on 198. It is a free gallery of all kinds of Christmas scenes like fireplaces, nature scenes, falling snow, and many more, complete with soothing sounds and music!

Billie Jo

December 10, 2021

Advocating And Relaxing


When I was younger, I had a hard time with any confrontation. In fact, my father called me "The Peacemaker." When the time came to find an assisted living home for my mother, my sisters and I agreed upon the same place my father spent his last months. We were pleased with his care and the respect and dignity he received during the last months of his life. At first, I assumed all was fine. It was clean, and the staff seemed friendly. 

Over time, however, we noticed a drastic decline in Mom's cognitive ability, personality, and overall demeanor, which was separate from her Alzheimers. I called and spoke kindly with the director of her section and inquired about activities that would help stimulate her brain and provide some entertainment. She spent countless hours alone in her room, causing her to ruminate and become distressed. I contacted her doctor, who examined her and reassured me she was exactly where she should be. I then requested an evaluation by the physical therapist as Mom was losing her ability to move independently. Again, I was told she was doing great. Perhaps they could have someone come and walk with her up and down the hall. 

I am, by nature, a people pleaser. I respect those in authority. However, this was too much. My mother has life left in her. She is a beautiful human being who deserves respect and dignity. And so my sister and I decided enough was enough. I called the administrator and discussed my concerns. Why were there no activities at all? Why was my mom sitting in her room all day? Why was she declining so rapidly since arriving? Why were there no decorations on the walls? Why could I never find anyone to ask a question when I was there? 

Because of Covid, we were required to give notice when we were visiting. One Sunday morning, I told Steve that I wanted to see Mom. And I was going to provide them with notice. When I rang the doorbell! He and I arrived, and I literally stopped in my tracks. I didn't even recognize my own mother. I will not go into detail, but let it suffice to say I knew at that moment, my mother would not be staying there one minute longer than necessary. I was sad. But I was also angry. This was my mother. She deserved dignity. Respect. Encouragement. Love. And she was getting none of that.

My sisters and I had entrusted our mother into their care. Despite my continued efforts, phone calls, suggestions, pleading, even crying as I asked them to help my mother, stimulate her, encourage her, they insisted she was where she needed to be. She was fine. I even offered to come in myself and read a book, do a craft, watch a movie with the residents. I was told that I would have to complete a course before doing that.  Which I knew was not the case. I realized that I needed to advocate for my mother. I called the administrator and reiterated my specific concerns. I told her we would be moving her as soon as possible.

Did we have another place in mind? No. Enter God. We have a very dear friend who is actually the mother of our parish priest. She gave us the name of a different facility in town, and I sent an email. They called me back immediately, and we did a virtual tour. The director there told me they had one room open, and my mom would be third on the list. I filled out all the paperwork and left it in God's hands. Literally. As I was praying a novena, a few days later, I received a call that the room was available immediately! And just like that, my mom was in her new home. 

As you can see in the picture above, my mom is flourishing! Her new assisted living home is a beautiful, cozy, organized, loving place! It is like a home, with a living area where the residents watch old sitcoms together, play games, exercise, and do seasonal crafts. Mom is happy, relaxed, clean, mentally stimulated, respected, and loved. She no longer sits in her room alone. The schedule is the same every day, which helps so much. Mom is happy and healthy and so much more content. Of course, she still has Alzheimer's, but she is living a happy, dignified, comfortable life. And that is what she deserves. 

The moral of the story? Advocate. Don't be afraid to stand up for what you think is right. My sisters and I were the voice for my mom. And we spoke loud and clear. I did call the administrator of the first assisted living facility recently. I spoke with her respectfully and offered constructive criticism. I did this for all those residents who don't have anyone to speak or advocate for them. I suppose I am a peacemaker, after all.

Thank you for listening, my friends. This is my view as I finish typing this. I am spending more time here, reflecting and relaxing. I am sorry I have not been around to visit. I plan to snuggle in this weekend and catch up with you!

Billie Jo

December 8, 2021

Wordless Wednesday ~Almost


I hope your December days are passing slowly and with intention, my friends. It is hard to limit the outside world's influence, isn't it? The constant deluge to buy, buy, buy. To keep spending and rushing. We are trying to focus inward this year. More quiet evenings by the tree. More movie nights together. Less rushing. Less stress. Less checking things off a list. In fact, I did away with the list this year!

Have a cozy day, dear friends!

Billie Jo

December 2, 2021

Birthdays, Snowflakes, and Puppies

Twelve years. We are all so thankful God blessed us with this beautiful, easygoing, creative, music-loving soul. Flynn Grace, you are loved.

And then this. Twenty-five! Our firstborn is twenty-five. A lovely, confident, hardworking, selfless, Taylor Swift loving, fashion icon young lady and loving wife. Madison Marie, we love you!

What else have we been up to? We watched some snow fall.  We took some naps. We thought about decorating. We even pulled the tubs down off the shelves. And then we snuggled by the fire some more. How about you, my friends? How is December treating you so far?

Enjoy. And this year, keep it simple.

Billie Jo

December 1, 2021

Thoughts On Christmas


Hello, my friends. Sorry for the extended absence around here. For the past few days, this has been my view, along with my sister Margie who has spent some wonderful time here with us. We watch our favorite old game shows like Match Game, Password, and Sale of the Century. We watch the snow and take cozy naps. We drink cocoa and coffee and call our Mom. 

I am also spending time reevaluating our Christmas traditions this year, as my children are older, and so am I! Some will stay the same, while others will evolve and change to accommodate our changing family. However, the magic will remain. I will always watch the sky on Christmas Eve and listen for the sound of sleighbells. I will always marvel at the wonder of a tiny baby born in a stable. And I will always savor every moment we spend together during the most magical time of the year.

Have a cozy day, my friends.
I'll be back again soon.

Billie Jo

November 15, 2021

Monday Morning Coffee

Good Monday morning! How was your weekend? Quiet here. I did manage to deep clean the family room. And that is about it! Progress, right? I also spent some time with these lovely people...

My Madison, her husband Nicolas, and their pup, Draper. You know, I used to be sad thinking how quickly my children grew. I wanted to stop time, to keep them little and with me forever. But then I would have missed out on the incredible person this one became and the extraordinary man she found across the ocean and, yes, even that furry little pup who never seems to realize Mocha is not playing with him when she runs and hides under the dresser. 

Shoutout to the husband who takes charge of exterior decor every season.

One last shot of our backyard before we packed it away for the winter. Can you spot our visitor?

And lastly. If you come across this in your local grocery store, pick one up. 

Happy Monday, my friends!

Billie Jo

November 12, 2021

Happy Friday!


This pretty much sums up our week. And I am not unhappy about it. This week has been a hodgepodge of the seasonal variety. We packed away Halloween, wrote Christmas wish lists, planned Christmas decorating, inventoried Thanksgiving menu items, turned the fireplace on in the chilly mornings, turned it off in the warm afternoons, took walks, watched Christmas baking shows, and ate Halloween candy. 

Meanwhile, I am thinking about tackling the family room this weekend. This may or may not be due to my dropping the television remote and finding it under the couch, which currently houses far too much dust, dirt, crumbs, and socks. I plan on vacuuming and wiping things down with vinegar water, opening the windows for some fresh air, and washing the winter throw blankets. All this is in preparation for the many cozy evenings we will spend here together. And I always feel better cleaning before I put up the tree. Go figure.

Have a cozy weekend. Thanks for visiting!

Billie Jo

November 10, 2021

Currently, I Am...



And highly recommend each one!
Happy Wednesday, my friends!

Billie Jo

November 8, 2021

Monday Morning Coffee


Good morning, my friends. I am currently snuggled on the couch with my coffee this morning, a cozy fire in the fireplace taking the chill out of the room. I am drinking from one of my favorite Christmas mugs today. It is from Willams Sonoma, a gift I gave myself last year. It is the only Christmas around here so far, but Halloween is all tucked away, and for the time being, I am enjoying the bare, if dusty, look of our home. Christmas will be unpacked here soon, but for now, I am enjoying the anticipation and planning. 

Today is quiet. Homeschool, dinner, laundry, and The Holiday Baking Championship/Steeler Game tonight. Dinner tonight is a new recipe, Crockpot Honey Garlic Ginger Chicken. I will let you know how it turns out! Have a good day, whatever you are up to. And if all the craziness and frustration in the world today start to get to you, turn the news off. Go back to a time when the world wasn't "woke." We have been watching old game shows like To Tell The Truth, What's My Line, and Match Game. They can be found on BUZZR, one of our favorite channels.

Have a great day, my friends. Thanks for visiting!

Billie Jo


November 5, 2021

November Days And An Easy Dinner


Usually much more muted, November is certainly showing her beauty this year. It is cold but sunny, and the leaves are hanging on quite a bit longer. This week we noticed the dark coming earlier, the evenings lasting longer. We gather together after dinner, light the fireplace, and watch tv together. 

Dinners are heartier these days. This week's favorite was an easy Baked Penne. I boiled some penne, drained it, and put it in a baking dish. Then I topped the pasta with fresh mozzarella slices and our favorite pasta sauce. Finally, I shredded fresh parmesan, covered the whole pan in foil, and baked until it was all hot and bubbly. I added an easy Chopped Salad Kit and these delicious Dinner Rolls

And finally, I leave you with this shot of our evening visitor last night. Isn't he amazing?! And not the least bit concerned with us!

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Not too much going on around here except packing away all our deck furniture and clearing the front porch of all things fall and Halloween. How about you? Whatever you do,  enjoy!

Billie Jo