Posted in Mom Life, Photo Inspiration, Things That Make My Brain Happy

Take Care of Yourself In Order To Care For Others

 

Hi everyone, today is the day to share with you some images I took at the park a couple weeks ago.  I love the views at this particular park I just stumbled upon.  It was so serene and beautiful I felt a entranced by the lighting, the slow movement of the water, the birds chirping and just the peaceful feeling of the place.  Maybe you need to feel that calm right now. Have you had a week like mine possibly?  Maybe your son or daughter is at that age where they’re giving you some pushback, trying to assert themselves too much or speaking to you like you couldn’t possibly know a thing from all your life experience.  It’s tiring, isn’t it? Lord, help us with our children!  I keep asking him for instruction on how to deal with a preteen who is goofy & affectionate and then insolent & angry because I tried to make conversation when her song was on in the car.  I find myself thinking a lot, “Is this what I was like?” and “I don’t remember acting like this at eleven.”

Life can be a lot like a rollercoaster, can it not?

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Photo by Angie on Pexels.com

The photos at the top of my blog post remind me to slow down, breathe, be still & know who God is, to turn off the TV, computer, cell phone, radio, podcasts, whatever… And to allow God to relax me with His views.  That first picture on the top reminds me to keep walking down the straight and narrow path and to keep following Him. It’s peaceful and brilliant.  I can remember hope and wonder filling my lungs as I explored the path; getting stronger with each step.  Ahhh, I love that relaxation I get when I’m outside.

It’s important to make time to take care of ourselves so we’re restored when we return home.  Like I did that day I went for a walk at a new park and shot these photos. We’re able to respond better to the challenges there when we take some time to breath and be alone with Him.  And if we can squeeze some time in to exercise, man, is that helpful!!  I went to the gym today and came back feeling like I could conquer anything.  Or do something artistic while listening to a great Christian book or a sermon.. I love it.  It calms my soul.  When I make the time, I don’t feel like I’ve completely lost myself in everyone else’s needs because I had that time I needed to be God’s daughter.

Sometimes, the stress of being a parent can leave us feeling like that one photo up top with the 2 gnarly trees.  Those 2 trees interest me because of their uniqueness.  They’re not your average trees.  They look a little complicated like our thoughts when kids test us and we’re trying to quickly figure out the best way to straighten things out. When things start to get complicated and you find the right time to sneak off and get with God, that’s not a selfish thing, that’s a necessary thing.  I know that about myself.  My time with God will lead me to feeling like that last picture on the right.  See the peaceful waters? I need the peaceful waters for a little while before I jump back in.

We all do.

 

 

 

Posted in Mom Life, Photo Inspiration, Ponderings

The Importance of Fathers

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A long time ago, my father made a commitment to himself that when he got married and had children, he would never break the promise he made to his family. He vowed to my mother and to himself, that he would be the father he grew up wanting to have and he would be the kind of husband to his wife, that his mother deserved.

It chokes me up just thinking about that as I type this.  The weight of pain he felt without his dad in his life and the weight of the pain he saw in his sisters and his mother as they all persevered as best they could without the man who should have had the strength and conviction to carry out his duties, is heavy.  It made my father who he is.  He is strong and determined. He’s always known what his job as a man is and done exactly what needed to be done.  If there were people in his life that may jeopardize the life of his family, he quietly stepped away.  The love he has for his family is evident on his face when he looks at us after we accomplish something he had no idea we could do, when he watches my sister and I as mothers interacting with our children in loving ways and when he proudly shows up for important events in our lives because he wants to celebrate WITH us.  He’s the kind of father who gets teary-eyed with love for us and lets us see that.  He says, “I love you.” every time we get together and at some point during every phone call and he doesn’t say it in a gruff, dismissive way I’ve heard some men use.  His heart is always in it.

Though, there was pain in his life early on, he allowed that pain to mold him into a better person.  He took it in as a lesson on who he wanted to be and who he did not. He learned how he would do things differently and he followed through. It wasn’t just a fleeting thought or great idea that later got tossed out in the trash because it wasn’t convenient.  And my sister & I were not always easy as teenagers.  We were as stubborn and head-strong as him with a strong sense of what’s right & what’s wrong. (laughing)

It was said to me once, about 8 years ago, that if marriage didn’t work out, my daughter should live with me because daughters need their mothers more.  That is the farthest thing from the truth because my father has made a lasting impression on my life.  Good fathers out there are all molding their daughters into great people just as well as their mothers.

Dads who are reading this, you are so valuable in your children’s lives.  Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking you are not.  Do not make excuses by thinking, “I haven’t seen my daughter/son in a long time. Well, I won’t dwell on it because I have no control over that.”  You do have a say in the matter.  There are always things you can do if you don’t allow yourself to get into the habit of ignoring the problem.  You can initiate a visit yourself.  You can call.  Don’t let yourself be overcome by self-pity if you’ve made some mistakes.  God gives you the opportunity to be a new man, a better man everyday and there’s always hope to make things right. It will bless you. It will bless your child or children. It will bless the mother of your child if forgiveness has taken place in her heart and if her child is safe.  It will dissolve that pain of rejection a kid feels when their father walks away and views them like an acquaintance.

Fathers, you are just as important as a mother.  A mother and father’s role in their children’s lives have similarities and differences that are all extremely essential to human development.  Don’t forget how important you are.

Psalm 127:3-5
3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

 

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1 Corinthians 16:13
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

Posted in Happy Little Photos, Mom Life, Photo Inspiration

Cake Decorating Saturday

via Daily Prompt: Frigid

Last Saturday morning, I woke up and went straight to the coffee maker to make a fresh pot of coffee.  As I waited on my French Roast to finish brewing, I stood against the kitchen counter in a stupor, looking over at the heart-shaped cake I had wrapped in tinfoil. I was planning to make my daughter’s Easter themed birthday cake all in one night but as usual I started too late and ran out of stamina.  I waited for the cake to completely cool, wrapped it up and set it aside to do in the morning.

Morning came and I was ready to try my hand at making this cool cake I saw online that was designed to look like an Easter basket. I ignored the fact that it looked beautiful outside and that I normally reserved baking for frigid weather, not days like that one.  More great, hiking-worthy days would come but that Saturday I had a lot to do in preparation for Easter and my daughter’s 11th birthday. And, truth be told, I was more in the mood to sip some coffee and decorate a cake while slowly–slothfully–waking up.

So, the first step I took in decorating Makayla’s cake was applying the double chocolate frosting she picked at Target.

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And as you can see, the second step involved cutting the individual KitKats to the correct size & placing them around the cake, generously adding more frosting to the candy to serve as “edible glue”.  It turned out to be a little more work than I expected because as I’d cut the individual KitKats, they’d sometimes break, making the KitKat way too short to match up with the length of the others.  It took a little trial and error before getting everything evened out. The scraps made a great snack for later so no complaints there.

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Next, I added the grass which was made out of shredded coconut mixed with green food coloring.

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I used these chocolate covered almonds with pastel Easter colors to represent Easter eggs.

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And here is my finished Easter themed birthday cake! Makayla loved it! The look on her face blessed me more than words can say.

It’s funny how doing something as simple as making an Easter/birthday cake lead me to sit and read Matthew 28: 1-10. I read it over and over, meditating on the day Jesus rose from the grave, imagining myself in the shoes of the women who found the tomb empty and later ran to the disciples with a message to go to Galilee to meet with Jesus. What an exciting day it was for them to see their Savior alive again and to share their joy with each other! This simple cake turned into my alone time with God, worshipping and thanking Him for who He is. I love days like this particular Saturday, where love for my daughter lead me back to the love my Savior has for me.

 

Posted in Happy Little Photos, Miss Sassypants, Mom Life, Photo Inspiration, Ponderings, Uncategorized

Is She Eleven Already?

 

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“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.” -Psalm 127:3-4

My daughter’s birthday was last week.  Every year, we celebrate for three days.  We celebrate on the day of her birthday at home & at school by bringing in cupcakes or buying “birthday cookies”, she has a friends party and a family birthday party.

This year we celebrated a little differently.  For the day of her actual birthday, we went shopping for a fun outfit she could wear for the celebration with friends and then I ended up buying her a new purse, trendy sunglasses with blue tinted lens and a charcoal mask to try out together. When we got home, I made her tacos because it’s one of her favorite dinners while she made some cool cupcakes that were completely her own invention to bring to a church potluck.  While everything cooked, we took 20 minutes to lay on the living room floor, allowing our masks to dry and taking some time to meditate on the beauty of being still. Ahhh, why don’t we do that more often?

On birthday celebration #2, my boyfriend & I took her to the city with 2 of her close friends.  We knew every step of the way these animated–loud– kids would be bouncing all over the place, unable to contain their excitement. We were so right! We started out the day by taking them to our favorite deli to pick up breakfast for eating on the train.  As we predicted, just going to the deli was super fun for them–they were so silly, I couldn’t get one picture without contorted faces.  It was not possible for them to calm down and pose pretty.  I really couldn’t blame them.  I’d been looking forward to all of our fun plans all long week, too.

Once we made it to the train station, the girls linked arms and practically skipped to the ticket machines. The train ride was fun but we could have done without the foul-mouthed teenagers sitting in front of the kids.  On the flip side, we also ran into Makayla’s friend from school and her grandmother who I’m friends with.  Something about running into great people I know on the train just makes me happy.

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So, while we were in NYC, we walked out to The Highline that runs from Chelsea, Manhattan to the Meatpacking District. The walk was only 34 minutes from Grand Central and we enjoyed the walk, checking out cool stuff along the way, taking pictures, making videos and the gorgeous weather we were blessed with.  Makayla’s favorite part about the Highline was the fun playground they have on the Chelsea side.  It’s made out of recycled beams from the former freight train trestle and covered in some sort of people-friendly rubber that looks and feels pretty cool under your feet. The playground also had some cool tunnels that led to this contraption below.

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After we walked and played for awhile, the five of us were pretty hungry so Drew googled some restaurants that were nearby and we ended up eating at New York Burger Co.  The food was REALLY good. We will definitely go there again.  I had this really delicious grilled chicken sandwich the came with some kind of vegan sauce–tasted really good and it was nice to not have to worry about getting sick from any sort of dairy products, corn syrup or rice anything.  And their Idaho Fries where also pretty darn good!

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Just thinking about our time in the city makes me want to go back again very soon!  The Highline is now one of my favorite places to go in the city.  When I go back, I think I want to try the food at either Sugar Factory or The Green Room which is nestled in the heart of the Chelsea Market. I have a feeling I will probably go with The Green Room. The food is organic.

Anyhow, I’m going off topic..it’s getting late and I’m still here at my kitchen table typing to you all as if I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow morning.  I will end with saying that on the third day of my daughter’s birthday celebration, we celebrated Easter & had a small family party for her. My favorite parts of that day where seeing her and my nephews run around my parent’s back yard looking for colorful, plastic Easter eggs and drinking my father’s first bottle of homemade wine with all of the “big people”.  Who knew my father could make such amazing wine?! There was a lot of laughter and great memories made last Sunday.  I feel blessed to have so many great people in my life to celebrate my daughter with.  Children really are a heritage from the Lord and a wonderful reward from Him!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Lessons He Taught Me, Palpating Poetry, Photo Inspiration

Baptism

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Like each individual droplet of water in a waterfall

They gracefully free fall over the edge

Together

Creating something beautiful

With courage from within

With fear and trust at the center

Falling, colliding

Into something bigger than themselves.

Taking the ultimate plunge

Risking it all for the good

Melding together yet uniquely separate

In tandem with his radiant glory.

New life starts here at the end of yourself–

Standing at the brink of old life and new.

It takes certain strength to let go and fall into it.

Falling into his plan and stepping out of your own

Steals your breath.

Adventure seekers take note–

Don’t miss this

The everlasting waterfall

More breathtaking

Than you can fathom.


Posted in Happy Little Photos, Mom Life, Photo Inspiration, Word Wonder

Affection & Wonder

20180112_072541via Daily Prompt: Wonder

This little girl of mine fills me with so much adoration and wonder. As I watch her off and on throughout the day, I’m in awe of who she has become. I think back to her quirky days as a toddler and the funny things she used to say as she was first developing language.

“Mama, I can feel my heart beeping!!”

Or how she would recognize the appropriate time to show appreciation and joyfully exclaim, “Thankum!” (Which meant “Thank you!”)

And I remember her at around 2 years old when she would speak so quickly I’d have to interpret for my friends because they had no idea what she just said.

One afternoon in the spring there was a little girl, maybe 4 or 5 years older than my daughter, who started playing with Makayla in our yard. They tried to strike up a conversation and after a few minutes the little girl looked at me strangely and asked, “Is she speaking Chinese??” It was funny because Makayla wasn’t quite 2 at that time and whatever she said to the neighbor girl really did sound like Chinese to me, too.

Now, she’s going to be 11 in less than a month and she’s so articulate. Since she was 4, people have noticed what a great memory she has for things and a vocabulary that you wouldn’t expect from someone so small. At almost 11, people don’t notice these things as much because she’s older now and it sort of goes along with her age.

She’s more independent than ever and knows exactly who she is. There is no shy bone in her body. She can definitely hold her own. And she is a bright, radiant light. I look at her full of love and wonder. It’s still hard to believe she’s mine.

Posted in Mom Life, Photo Inspiration

It Runs In The Family

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It’s true. It runs in the family. We look like contortionists when we sleep. And it’s not just the females in the family. My father does it, too. Maybe my daughter & I got this unusual flexibility from him. When I was a kid, I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons like this except my left leg was bent too with my left foot propped up against my right hip bone.

When we sit on the couch or at the kitchen table, instead of sitting with our feet flat on the floor, we’re sitting sort of Indian style but our right leg is flipped over the left instead of both feet tucked under. My father, my daughter and I all do this without giving it a thought. Maybe we should have tried out for Cirque du Soleil?

Posted in Photo Inspiration

Procrastination (co-written with Joseph C. Bagatta)

 

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As soon as I get back on my feet, I’m gonna find good honest work, hold onto it and pull my own weight. The Lord whispered, “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.”

The man did not hear him. While sitting on the porch at the end of the next day, he thought to himself, “As soon as this dark cloud lifts, I’m gonna pay down all my debt. Then I’ll feel better.” The Lord spoke softly, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”

The man felt a slight stirring inside him. He had more strength to accomplish tasks that needed to be done.  He lay in bed that night, feeling good that his spirits had lifted, though he wasn’t quite sure where it came from. He drifted off to sleep thinking, “As soon as my luck returns, I feel like that might be soon, I’m gonna pay back all those who have helped me.”

The following week, after he was given a month of electrical work, he began dwelling on things that had gone wrong for him and he mentioned to a co-worker, “As soon as I get out from under, I’m gonna pay it forward, volunteer and help people around me.” His co-worker replied, “Why wait, man? We’re not promised tomorrow. This life is fleeting. We’re here one day and gone the next!”  That strange stirring danced inside his chest again and he walked off trying to make sense of it.

A month or two later, he was talking to a friend at the diner about life.  After a long conversation, his friend said, “I don’t know, bro, as soon as I can get this monkey off my back, I’m gonna pay all of my past-due child support, reach out to my children, and work on healing broken relationships. None of it’s my fault anyhow but maybe I’ll do something about it.”  The Lord gently whispered to his friend, “Forgive as I have forgiven you. I will help you.”

The man heard but convinced himself he was just tired and needed to get home and get more sleep.  As he was on his couch drifting off he thought, “I don’t know what that was all about but as soon as everyone gets off my back, I’m gonna quit drinking, drugs, smoking and gambling. I can’t do that now with all their nonsense.”  The spirit of the Lord hovered over him as he slept, giving him dreams of becoming a better man who sought the Lord and felt a new zeal for life. He didn’t yet understand that the Lord was giving him a glimpse of his future.

A year later, the man and his friend were talking on their way back to their trucks after work.  The man started out, “I don’t know what’s been happening this past year but something is changing me.  I’ve been seeing how I neglect my wife and how I put off reaching out to my kid from my first marriage.  I can’t stop thinking about it and I don’t know, man, I think it’s God leading me to do something about it.  I look forward to finishing work just so I can make it up to them.”  He stared at his friend for a second, thinking..  For the first time he told someone about his dream.  The Lord whispered to them, “Yes, do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

As the days passed, the friends found that their thoughts began to change.  There were fewer thoughts that began with, “As soon as this changes, I will..”  There was less blaming everyone else for their mistakes or putting off tomorrow to find ways to be better people and serve the Lord.  Amazing things were happening in their lives, no matter how big or small they appeared to other people.  God was moving, leading them to do the right things and they began talking openly about how God pursued them.  Gone were the days when they thought things like, “As soon as I’m living on easy street, I’m gonna..” The quality of their lives improved because they realized God was fueling them with strength. Each time their spiritual tanks ran low, God filled them up again, showing them the fullness of life.

 

 

Posted in Happy Little Photos, Miss Sassypants, Photo Inspiration, Ponderings

What Does Freedom Look Like?

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This morning, I was thinking about what freedom looks like to a believer and how we live out our freedom in Christ. I think we get stuck sometimes, thinking about the meaning of this from only one perspective. When we become believers, we learn that we are new creations in Christ, that our sins have been washed away and we have a clean slate with God. The chains have been broken and we are no longer tied to the “old man” that dictated how we live our everyday lives and we now experience freedom in the presence of the Lord, to follow Him and in essence, get a do-over. We have freedom to love and serve others sincerely as God guides us. We have freedom to be who God made us be without our past mistakes bogging us down. We have freedom to choose a godly lifestyle which really frees our spirit.

Then, I was thinking about the Mercy Me song, Happy Dance. Have you heard it? I just heard it for the first time a couple weeks ago. It’s such a great song! The message of the song is that sometimes as Christians, we get so caught up in doing the right things & perhaps coming across as always having it together, that we forget that freedom we also have to dance, to be goofballs & joke around, laugh and enjoy life like a kid! I love this song because it reminds me to not always take everything so seriously that I’m afraid to come across as anything less than perfect.  God is perfect. Human beings are not. While I strive to be more Christ-like, that doesn’t mean that I should never let my guard down or constantly look like a go-getter who’s never short on wisdom.

So, did you notice my wacky picture at the top of this post? This is me, mostly when I’m at home or working with my giggly deaf student at work. This is me being free to be funny, believing that I can be a true servant of the Lord AND let my quirks and sense of humor show.  I don’t want to live in fear that someone may notice my weaknesses or shortcomings.  God knows the real me and He knows who you really are. And He doesn’t grow weary of us. He loves us and is aware of how much we seriously need Him.

This is what freedom in Christ looks like!

Posted in Mom Life, Photo Inspiration

Having Fun And Staying Active In The Winter Months

 

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Every year, during the winter season, I feel that pull to start staying indoors more and go out less.  Especially when the short days of winter begin.  Most of us are effected by it.  Right around 5 o’clock, it’s so dark outside my body feels like it’s almost time for bed and it shocks me that all I want to do is put on pajamas and curl up on the couch. I’m typically a pretty active person. All summer long and into the fall, I’m out and about either working or taking my daughter on fun excursions and in search of new adventures.  Suddenly it begins getting dark at 4 and my body physiologically feels the difference.  It’s kind of an amazing phenomenon when you think about it. So what do you do when you feel this way? Do you succumb to the overwhelming urge to just lay down and do nothing?  Do you force yourself to do a few odds and ends around the house and then lay down to relax? Maybe you do that in the beginning and then decide you have to fight this slothful feeling and find ways to energize yourself despite the lack of sunlight.

This year, the time change really seemed to hit me worse than other years.  I was really feeling unmotivated by the time I got home from work.  I decided to leave things where they were instead of making the place immaculate.  I started liking the way it looked to leave my projects out with balls of lacing thread lined up on my bookshelf in varying colors, a pair of scissors, a yarn needle, pencils and crochet hooks popping out the tops of the thread like it was a pin cushion. My handwritten snowflake and earring patterns could be found stuffed underneath.  All of our scrapbooking supplies with a Shutterfly envelope stuffed full of pictures sat stacked on top of a small table near the couch. I’d leave the dishes in the sink for a couple days or put off getting to all of the mail at once.  These weren’t things I’d do as much before the time change, but I realized I just needed to ease into the season and rest more than usual until I got used to it.  I’ve talked to other people about the effects of the time change and a lot of people have said they feel more tired than previous years. Maybe we’re getting old?

Now, that I’ve had time to adjust, I’ve been finding more exciting ways to get out to do new things and make fun memories with my daughter, family & friends.  Before Christmas, we made plans to go to NYC with a close friend and explore the city during Christmas time.  Occasionally, I work out there and I love walking back to Grand Central Station at night after work.  I have a new appreciation for Christmas window displays at Macy’s and just how beautifully decorated everything is. I love the Christmas lights, the wreaths and walking through Bryant Park at night to watch the ice skaters and to just take in the view of happy people enjoying themselves. For all those reasons, I decided this year that I wanted to wander around and share these special things with people I loved. It was cold out and somehow that made it even more fun. We went to Saks Fifth Avenue, saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral all decorated for Christmas–it was the first time seeing that for each of us, we accidentally walked passed Trump Towers–not realizing until we saw a female police officer dressed in full riot gear with a huge gun almost the same height as her.  We milled around the inside of the Rockefeller Center, not knowing NBC records the news & the Today Show there or that it was built like a mall with lots of interesting stores and places to eat.  Really, we saw and did so much while we were there and it was all a blast.  Even stopping at a Starbucks to get coffee and a lemonade for my daughter was so much more fun to do than in upstate NY because it was different than our everyday routines.  Really, going out to try different things or to share things you love with people who are important to you breathes more life into your soul. So, what else have I gone out to do that may help you to think of things that you can do to get more into that happy frame of mind?

Exercise, especially running or cardio strength training, helps me to get a little spunk back.  I started tracking my runs with an app called Runtopia last July.  Again, since the dark days of winter started, I’ve been feeling less desire to workout.  Yesterday, I was feeling apprehensive and I knew I needed to get back on my treadmill to pound out the stress. Part of what got me on that treadmill was remembering the endorphin release when I run and part of it was that I thought it would be really cool to do one last run for 2017 and record it with Runtopia.  Let me tell you, it helped me to feel so much better. God knows what we need and He gave us exercise to keep us healthy mentally & physically.  Did you know that exercise is the most potent and underutilized antidepressant? And it’s free… I read this meme posted on Instagram and I said to myself, “Amen! That is so true!”

Something else that helps is starting new traditions that you love so much you would rather do them than sit on the couch. Particularly, something that challenges you in a way that you enjoy because you have fun, you impress yourself with your ability to do it and it comes with a great reward that is healthy for your mind, body and soul.  Last, New Year’s Day, my daughter and I bundled ourselves up to go hiking up a mountain that was mostly vertical.  This year, we made a tradition out of it and went back again to start our year out with an adventure. Wow, we forgot how breathless this climb would be!  We invited someone special to come with us this time and we got the cardio endurance work out of the year.  This time we went with ice cleats on our boots and made it to the top much faster.  The view, the feat and the fact that we made it to the top was so uplifting.  We were all smiling despite our sore legs.  And we learned some great things from that hike like how to work as a team, to look out for each other in order to keep each other safe, outdoor survival skills, how to have fun in the cold and to be prepared for anything.  Traditions like this build great relationships and give us more things we can look forward to doing as a family.  They make great memories and definitely help me to stay active in the winter.  If you want to chase away the winter blues and start laughing more again, I encourage you to try out some of these ideas.