January 31, 2024

Caption This!

 Big meeting at the feeder this morning. I wonder what they were talking about? 

Happy Wednesday, my friends!

Billie Jo

January 29, 2024

Monday Morning Coffee Talk

Good Monday morning! Thanks for all the well wishes. We are on the mend here and ready to send this virus out the door, as it has most certainly worn out its welcome. Note to Future Self: Avoid airline travel to overpopulated theme parks during the height of cold and flu season. In addition to the yuck I brought home, I did manage to get this, my new favorite coffee mug, so there's that. Mocha is a fan, too.

But enough about me! This post is all about my Mom. Tomorrow, this amazing, beautiful woman turns eighty-seven!

Isn't she beautiful? And for those who don't know her personally, she is as beautiful on the inside as well. Let me tell you a little about my mom, the most wonderful woman I will ever know. 

My Mom...

~ smiles all the time.

~ cared for my four sisters, our children, her husband, and her parents at some point in her Life.

~ never complains.

~ was called "Red" in high school and still is by some.

~ loves popcorn.

~ made me apple pies to take back to college every weekend.

~ welcomed all my friends into our home when I was young.

~ made hot cocoa and buttered toast on cold nights.

~colored her own hair.

~ drove a Jeep and sang along to our eight-track tapes.

~ stayed with me when my babies were born.

~ taught by example how to be a good mother.

~ has a beautiful singing voice.

~ loves patriotic music.

~ taught my children to love, be kind, and love life.

~is a devout Catholic and taught me to be, too.

~ loves Life.

Happy Birthday Mom!
You are the best.

I am thankful to my sister Margie, who calls me every day so I can talk with Mom. I am grateful that Mom knows me, my kids, and my husband, whom she calls "Mr. Wonderful." Alzheimer's is a wretched disease. They say it robs you of your loved one twice. I have chosen to accept this stupid disease and acknowledge it. I won't, however, allow it to win. I won't allow it to diminish my time with my mom. I listen to her and respond to her wherever she is in her mind. I don't correct her. I don't remind her. When she tells me she saw her mother today, I tell her I am glad. And I am. When she asks where her husband is, I tell her he is at work and is feeling fine. I try to remember that long before she was my mom, she was a granddaughter, a daughter, a friend, and a sister. Her heart and mind are filled with memories of time spent with those loved ones. Being with them now makes her happy and brings her peace. I celebrate that with her. I talk to her on the phone and visit when we can. I am so thankful to my sisters and the loving, caring people who care for her in the same place where, one day years ago, my mom visited her parents. I suppose that is the circle of life, and I embrace every moment. As Mom always sings, "... Life is but a dream. "

Have a wonderful Monday, my friends.
Stay cozy!

Billie Jo

January 26, 2024

Soup To Make You Feel Better

Hello, my friends! I was so happy to catch up with you this week! Unfortunately, many of us here in Blogland are battling colds, coughs, and other assorted viruses. We are on the mend here; Flynn is recovering quickly, I am in the middle, and Rhett is clinging to last place with a cough like no other. Thankfully, we all saw the doctor and found it to be a virus that must run the course. We left with instructions to rest, hydrate, and load up on Vitamin C. Madison sent me a link to a most delicious chicken soup, and I made it last night. I am sharing it here because it is good, simple, and makes us feel better.

I will link the recipe below. I am also eating some good breakfasts with a new-to-me fruit: raspberry oranges! So good! We are laying low this weekend and snuggling in with movies, online mass, warm beverages, and books. I hope you all have a happy, healthy weekend, my friends! Stay healthy, comfortable, and warm!

Just click on the link. Now, I did make it a bit easier on myself. I used a rotisserie chicken and prechopped vegetables. I also used organic chicken bone broth and elbow macaroni. Enjoy!

Billie Jo

January 24, 2024

Mickey And Minnie And Harry Potter

Well, hello there! I've missed you, my friends. I actually took my laptop with me on this trip but only opened it once to watch something online. That, I believe,  is a sign of a great vacation. Being in a fun and magical place with the people you love and leaving the rest of the world behind just for a bit. This vacation was indeed great, in some ways more than others. We were together! (Great!) Except for Peyton and Chris. (Not so great.) The weather was warmer! (Great!) But also cold and rainy. (Not so great.) Most of us stayed healthy! (Great!) Some of us did not. (Not so great.) But in the end, I realized that despite missing a special part of our family, being cold and wet, and passing around a relentless cold with a horrible sounding cough, we made many memories that we will cherish forever. And, as I promised when some of us were quite ill in a hotel room far away from home, we will one day look back and laugh about this. Or at least smile, remembering how we took turns caring for each other.

We took way too many pictures, and I promise I won't bore you with them all, but I do want to share some because I often look back here and am thankful I have a record of our special days, all organized and tidy. Have a seat, pour a cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa, and come to Florida with us! 

We headed out early on a Sunday morning to a smaller airport not quite as far from our home for a direct flight to Orlando. I highly recommend a smaller airport. It's so much easier and less stressful! After arriving and checking into our hotel, I was ready for a shower, jammies, and room service. Even the cleanest airplane makes me want to shower immediately, you know? Everyone except Madison and I headed out for dinner. She and I? We ate and watched The Miss America Pageant on my laptop. We were thrilled with the winner, Madison Marsh from Colorado, the first active-duty Air Force Officer to win the crown.

The next day, we packed up and headed to our condo in Disney World. We stayed at Saratoga Springs Resort, the same place we had stayed several times when the kids were little! We walked past the pool and talked about the time my mom was with us and went down the water slide with them! I remembered eating breakfast with my Dad in the Artist's Palette, the quick-service restaurant at the resort. While bittersweet, I smiled rather than cried because those magical things happened. And we will always have the happy memories of Disney days together. For the next few days, we walked to the bus stop, boarded various buses, and spent time at the parks. First up was Animal Kingdom, then Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and back to Magic Kingdom. Because. It's Magic Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom was wonderful. And note to anyone heading to Disney: You will pack all your makeup. However, you will immediately realize that wearing it is ridiculous. Honestly, throw on some facial sunscreen and call it a day. No one cares- literally no one. Magic Kingdom is just that: Magical. Seeing Cinderella's Castle for the first time always makes me tear up!


My Madison loves the fireworks. She always has.

Seeing these festive balloons was bittersweet. The kids used to pick out a balloon the first day and keep it all week until it was time to fly home. When Fynn asked for one, I was so thrilled! Kyrstin got one, too, as it was her first time in Disney World!

Another fashion note or two: Wear a hat. Even in January, the sun is bright. Wear good sneakers! They don't have to match. I wear mostly black and, for some reason, I bought my blue sneakers. I promise, Mickey doesn't care! 

Shoutout to Nicolas. He researched, planned, called, emailed, organized, and directed our entire trip! He even has the hat to prove it. 

We packed up again on Friday and headed to our last stop, Universal Studios! Another tip: If you find a good Uber or Lyft driver, remember him. We had the best driver early in the trip, and he gave us his card. Steve and he communicated all week; whenever we needed him, he was there!

It was about this time that an annoying, unwelcome virus disrupted our vacation. That was not good. However, it allowed some quiet, restful days and delicious room service meals. 

Finally feeling human again, we all eventually made it to Universal Studios!

We were thrilled to see Harry Potter World! It's not really what it is called, but you get the idea.

Now, some of us, ok, everyone except Steve and me, rode this. MORE THAN ONCE!
It is a new roller coaster. And it looked terrifying.

Madison and I watched from a safe distance. We agreed it was ridiculous- until the very next day when she rode it and loved it! According to the kids, it is life-changing!

I felt it only fair to represent both places with my Disney jacket and Harry Potter scarf. Note the makeup-free face, wind-blown hair, and all-around exhausted look. All are signs of a good park day!

Finally, it was time to pack up and head home, our bags filled with dirty laundry and our hearts filled with happy memories. In a mere seven hours, we went from this...

To this...

With a glimpse of what I believe Heaven is like in between.

In no time, I was unpacked, showered, and in my jammies on the couch with my pups. Right where I belong.

Thank you for visiting and sharing our trip, my friends. I look forward to visiting you all soon!

Billie Jo