It’s Thoughtful Thursday! What I learned from Betty’s weekly hair appointment!

One of my earliest memories is my Dad making dinner for us on Friday nights.  He only cooked on Fridays because that was when Mom was at the hairdresser for her weekly appointment.  I probably remember those dinners so well because Dad only cooked two things:

Scrambled eggs or Tuna glop.

I believe the ” Tuna Glop” consisted of a can of tuna mixed with cream of celery soup served over cornbread.  It’s about as appealing as it sounds.

Some Fridays we made out if Mom cooked ahead of time and had it ready so the only thing Dad had to do was serve it.  Back then I really didn’t get why Mom had to have this weekly outing.  Now many years later I understand it was probably her only time away from us kids and the house.  It was her girlfriend time.  I’m sure there was a 1960’s Steel Magnolias thing going on at the shop and not only did the new “do” make her feel better but I’m sure the time away with other women did as well.

I remember going with her on a couple of occasions when her appointment was not on a Friday evening and I always thought it was strange to see the women in their curlers under those big bulbous hairdryers sleeping.  My 6 or 7 year old self couldn’t understand why anyone would want to nap under a hairdryer.  Why would anyone voluntarily take a nap?  Of course I get it now and it seems like the perfect plan and the roots of multi-tasking: new hair do, girlfriend time and a little nap..the perfect trifecta..add in some wine and it would be amazing.

So fast forward a couple of decades and a change of location. My siblings and I are  grown but the one thing we know for sure is that you don’t mess with Betty’s hair appointment.  A tornado, hurricane or the apocalypse would be coming and you could be sure Betty would some how, some way make it to her hair appointment.

I still didn’t get this ( much like I didn’t get the napping earlier).  I mean what happens if a hair appointment got skipped?   I knew what would happen!  Mom would be unhappy and  my family knows “If Betty ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.”

A couple of years ago my Dad started chauffeuring  Mom to her hair appointments.  He would regale the hairdressers with his latest jokes or stories, ask about their families, settle himself in with his newspaper and visit with those who were waiting their turns. My father was the original social butterfly..he truly loved to chat and have good conversations.  The shop in turn loved my Dad.

I started to “get” why this shop was so special when the week of his 90th birthday they honored Dad with a surprise cake, candles, cards and treated him to a  shampoo and blow dry with what little hair he had left.  He was thrilled and touched.  I heard all about it from Mom. She went on and on about how Bonnie and Joy and everyone else there had fun celebrating Dad.

When Dad unexpectedly passed away in March I took Mom for her hair appointment.  Now I really got it.  For one the shop is as nice as it could be. Not large but just so warm and lovely.  Bonnie and Joy talked with me, told me how they loved my Dad, how they made sure he had his favorite cookies, his favorite red cup and how he was intrigued by the Keurig coffee maker and loved the hazelnut coffee which they, of course, made sure was there for him.

Their concern for my Mom as nothing short of amazing.  As we left they handed us an abundance of food, their phone numbers, email addresses ..just about everything except one of their sinks.

And now some 4 months later I don’t like to miss the appointment with my Mom.  It is a community of love and support.  They even washed and blew dry my hair as a treat for being there for my Mom.  It IS Steel Magnolias.   I so get it!!  Its not just the hair do..it’s an infusion of joy and love and I am ever so grateful to them.  Here’s to the crew at Side Street Salon in Springfield, VA….Joy, Bonnie, Rosario, Sara and Natalie and everyone else who brightens Thursdays for us. Yes her appointment is always on a Thursday..so perfect!  A living Thoughtful Thursday if I ever saw one.

Now go out and make it a Thoughtful one for you and someone else!

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Our family secret should probably be kept secret..uh oh!

I need some humor today and maybe you do as well so thought I would share a little family secret I discovered while cleaning out the garage last summer.

Every summer we clean out the garage at least once or twice.  And EVERY time we find time to do it is on the hottest day of year.  Oh and we also buy into the myth that it won’t take that long.  Riggghhhtttt.

So one steamy day last summer  I agreed to help my husband get a few things out of the garage so he could move the  cars around.

Nine..yes count them NINE hours later we had one clean garage, two trips to the dump and two to the thrift store.

If anyone needs to confirm that I am a few tacos short of a combination plate this feat alone should seal the deal.

We found quite a few interesting things:

  • a dead lizard ( I smelled it before I saw it)
  • several squished frogs ( or were they toads???)
  • lots of things we had been looking and still have no idea how they ended up in the garage ( trying to escape?)
  • AND the kitchen sink

No seriously…we did find a sink:

 

And then I found multiples of one thing  that says more about our family than anything.  When I discovered them I just stared in amazement.  I could understand one or two maybe but FIVE??? Were we secret hoarders?  Were we planning on outfitting a frat house (guys needs these way more often than women), was clogzilla going to pay us a visit? Did we have a secret fear about this??

What did I find???  Drum roll:

Five  toilet plungers!!  If the poopalypse ever happens we are prepared.  ( This does not count the two or three we have in the house)

I didn’t come across them one at a time, that would make too much sense.  I found them mingling together  in a big  bucket along with a missing kitty litter scoop ( evidently the cat is in on it as well).

So a couple of thoughts crossed my mind.  Who put them in the bucket?  Wouldn’t someone comment ( that would be you Paul) or make it known ” Hey Jennifer, we are all set on plungers! Let’s invite everyone over for five alarm chili. No worries we can take care of both ends!!”

Here is the other mystery.  When we built this house  we got to choose the plumbing and we chose TOTO toilets capable of flushing 100 golf balls all day every day with no clogging. So no plungers needed.  Well almost.  I have to admit that 3 weeks after we moved in someone who shall remain nameless called and asked where we kept the plunger.  1 time in 10 years isn’t so bad.

So I must concede that we must be super poopers.  Well at least some of us are.  Okay that might be TMI but it is the only conclusion I can come to after this mysterious find.

Our family secret is out…oh the puns I could make with that one line!

We have yet to clean the garage out this summer but I know it’s coming.  I am afraid, very afraid!!

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A little crazy yes but this “new” writing tool is awesome!

Before you think I have totally lost it read the whole post and then you will “get it”!

So one of the things my husband and I love to do is go to auctions.  Sometimes we buy stuff sometimes we don’t but it’s usually a good time and we see some interesting things.  I go mostly to keep Paul from buying something just because it’s a “good deal”, as in” Um no we do not need that Krispy Kreme Donut Cart”!   Novelty yes, useful no.  That’s one of many examples that come to mind.  Plus we still have my parents’ house to unload and that pretty much kills our desire to want to add anything new to our possession collection

We needed a break  one week-end  from house stuff, paperwork..pretty much life in general so we went to an auction/estate sale. Of course we picked the hottest Saturday of the year and it was an outside auction.

How this guy got all this stuff into his little house is beyond me.  So much stuff.  Made my parents’ basement look like just a few things ( trust me it’s not).  Most of it was collectible toys, Nascar stuff..nothing that would much interest me so I started to wander around the yard ( 4 outbuildings with stuff and more items in the yard).  I tell you it was like a scene from American Pickers..they would have loved it.

No kitchen sink but a bathtub!

So amidst the rusted bathtubs, old bikes and such was a pristine, almost new in box Olympia Portable Typewriter  It was just sitting in the grass being totally ignored.  So I kept walking by it, intrigued.  It had me at first glance!

My husband couldn’t believe I wanted to bid on it.  He thought I was crazy …  yup thats me!  So just for grins I took it up to be auctioned off and got it for a whopping sum of $10.

As we are lugging it back to the car ( that sucker is heavy) I wondered what I had done but when I got it home I made some interesting discoveries.

Surprisingly the ribbon was still good.  I doubt this guy ever opened the case.  More importantly I was having fun with it.  Yes it took longer than  a laptop and there was no way to correct mistakes but guess what?  The only thing I can do on that thing is write.  There was no urge to check facebook, or email or shop at Amazon.  No looking up facts or photos I could use.  It was the perfect no distraction writing tool.

A manual typerwriter is the perfect no distraction writing tool!… Click To Tweet

It does have two problems.  One it’s incredible noisy.  I think this is why writers found it better to be alone in some secluded room or at a cabin in the mountains.  I really could not write into the night without keeping everyone awake.  And though it claims to be a “portable” typewriter in reality it’s not.

I entertained myself with the thought of lugging it into Starbucks and writing on it.  They would probably throw me out.  Perfect Seinfeld episode where Kramer tells everyone typewriters are making a comeback and pretty soon all the coffee shops are filled with typewriters driving everyone else crazy.  Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

The other positive is it makes me think about all the writers before me who only had this to write on..kinda cool.  Think about all the war correspondents who lugged something like this around.  Good exercise for sure.

Yes anything I write on it will eventually have to be put on the computer but there is no danger of me accidentally deleting it, and no dependency on the internet or electricity.  Seriously though everything anyone writes goes through several rewrites anyways so what’s the big deal?

I won’t write everything on it and I certainly won’t be lugging it on an airplane but for now I am having fun and enjoying the distraction free writing.  Probably the best 10 bucks I have spent in a long time.

Oh and my husband still thinks I’m crazy…good thing he loves crazy!  🙂

 

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So what do I do??

I imagined this scene the other day where I was at a dinner party and someone asked me ” So what do you do?”

In my somewhat twisted mind that is a bit of a loaded question. I could answer everything from “well I walk my dog everyday”  to “I’m a nurse” to  ( if I really feel like being a smart ass)  “I “do” lots of things like sleep, eat, drink, laundry, dishes……”  Yet I know in reality and in my imagined scene they were asking what I do for work and I reply “I am a writer”and this person says:

“Oh really?  And would I be familiar with any of your works?”  “What have you written?” Not that ANY of my friends talk like that and it was recently suggested to me that if they do I need to get new friends but lets move on.

Of course they are expecting me to name a book  they can find on Amazon or in their local Barnes & Noble, or a magazine article or some newspaper byline  but in reality my answer would be ( again with a touch of smart ass)  ” Well lets see I’ve written tons of grocery and to-do lists, papers for school, permission slips for kids and nurses notes but I doubt you would find any of those on Amazon

“Oh and I blog.”

Finally a somewhat plausible answer to that question. In reality the real answer is “I am a writer because I write.” I write for pleasure, for the joy of it,for personal soothing,as a release and because I love creating sentences out of words. Just because you can’t find me in Barnes & Noble doesn’t mean I am not a writer. I am a writer because I write. End of story….pun intended just so I can entertain myself!

It is the same with running (or whatever you favorite activity is). I am a runner because I run. When people ask me about a race as in “How did you do”  I use to think they were asking for my race results and I would hesitate and stumble over my answer and the words “slow” and “not very good” often punctuated the sentences I managed to form.

I quit doing that awhile back when I realized that my finishing time did NOT matter. What mattered was I did the race or the daily run and I was out there running. So the answer I always give now to “How was the race?” is “It was great! ” “I had a blast and I’m so glad I did it!” Sometimes people will clarify their question. “No I mean what was your finishing time?” And I say truthfully “I have no idea!” “I started, I finished and I had fun!” If they keep talking I keep walking!

So claim your answer to whatever it is you do! If you bike you are a cyclist, if you write you are a writer. Whatever it is you do that brings… Click To Tweet

Do fill your paper with the “breathings of your heart” or your belly if it is a grocery list..or fill the air with your beautiful music, or your soul with poetry…as Nike says “Just do it”

And don’t forget to have fun while you are doing it and above all else you have my permission to channel your inner smart ass when answering that question “What do you do?”

Now go out and tri!

 

 

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Update on My Year of Wonder!!

Wow this year is flying by!!  On January 4th of this year I wrote a post about My Year of Wonder Project.  You can read the original post here !

Here it is March 14th and I seriously can’t believe everything I have learned from this simple project.  For the last 69 days I have taken and posted a photo to my Instagram account  representing My Year of Wonder.  I have to admit I missed a few days while on vacation and I am busy catching up but not beating myself up over it because that sort of thing happens.  This was never meant to stress me out or be a chore.  It was and is intended to keep my word of the year “Wonder” in front of me and help me stop, pause, and appreciate all the beauty and wonder around me.

Some days I really wondered ( no pun intended) if something, anything would show up for me.  Max ( the famous goofy golden) and I would walk pretty much the same walk every day and most days something would just pop out at me.  Other days nothing would pop but I remained patient and sure enough something would appear that was just right for my Instagram post.

Yesterday’s post came to me in the kitchen and is one of my favorites because there is something so soothing about snapping green beans.

Other favorites include a rainy day that I dreaded going out in and it ended up being delightful!

 

And a snapshot of a letter my parents found that my husband had written to them while on a Navy Deployment and our second baby was due to arrive hopefully after he returned ( she waited for him to come home thankfully!)

And another of cloud lines that were just begging to be written on!

I could go on and on and nobody is more surprised than I am about how delightful this so called “exercise” has become and how much I enjoy it.

Feel free to start you own “Year of Wonder” project.  Or just enjoy mine on Instagram!

Keep wondering and keep triing!

 

 

 

 

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Trying to overcome my swimming anxiety…

Yes I have swimming anxiety.  Not the kind that makes me fearful to go into the water.  As a matter of fact I’ll be the first one to jump in the deep end with my grandkids and the last one to get out.

I love the water.

I hate the water.

Wait..what??  It’s true.  If you ask me to go swimming, go to the ocean or the lake I am there before you can finish inviting me.

Yet last year when it came to doing the one and only sprint triathlon I had signed up for I chickened out.  The anxiety about the swim part grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

I had done this tri before so I knew the drill.  It was an outside pool swim and you were seeded according to your swim time.  The last time I did it I was the next to last to get in and  out of the pool and I barely made it.  I promised myself it would never happen again.

I have no problem being the last out of the pool. That’s okay but what I didn’t like was how I struggled with the swim.  I thought I had trained enough but obviously not.  I knew what I had to do.

So last year I signed up for it again knowing that I REALLY needed to practice, train and train some more.  And guess what I did?

I got a PhD in swim procrastination.  I did some training but by the time the triathlon was 10 days away I started to panic so I rationalized as to why it wasn’t a good idea to participate.  My lame reasons amuse me now but I remember waking up the morning of the tri and thinking “Wow that was such a good decision” and then a week later beating myself up for not at least giving it a go.

One of my main reasons ( aside from the lack of training) was the waiting by the pool for a good 2 hours before it was my turn.  Not only was it in the blazing sun but there were women  (it was a women’s only tri)  already crossing the finish line by the time I got in the pool.

An embarrassing, anxiety inducing, heat exhausting wait.  Nope wasn’t going to do it.

The joke was on me.  They used two pools this past year to avoid the wait.   Beat myself up some more upon hearing that.

So here it is January 2017.  There is 8 inches of snow on the ground and I am thinking about  wiggling and contorting my post Christmas, post birthday celebration body into a swimsuit and going for a swim.

Snow and swimsuits  brrrrr

Of course the main problem ( which I always blame my lack of training on) is there is no close by indoor pool   I have been patiently waiting for the one to be finished that is about 25 minutes away but it’s taking forever.

Wouldn’t you know as I was online checking on the pool construction status I find one on our local military base that is not only what I need but can use right now.  It’s a little farther away but doable for once or twice a week.

And my anxiety started simultaneously with the excuses as to why I couldn’t manage this. Everything from:

  • there will probably be all these fit young military people swimming there..how embarrassing to be the slow poke
  • to the old standby “I don’t have the time for this”

I got myself into such a state of anxiety I was starting to think about the leftover birthday cake downstairs that would taste so good with a hershey kiss chaser.  So far I am resisting…barely.

After a couple of deep breaths I made a decision!

I WILL swim this week Thursday* because despite all my reservations, all the silly excuses I make up,  all my anxiety over doing it, and not really wanting to put on my suit I KNOW that I will be so disappointed in myself it I don’t at least try..or should that be tri.

What will you Tri this week???

 

P.S. Its Thursday because it fits into my schedule but most of all the roads in my community won’t be iced over by then!

 

 

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The Two Things Carrie Fischer and I have in common!

The world lost a unique individual last week.  Like many of you I have been following all the news posts about Carrie Fischer’s life, and if it wasn’t enough that we lost her, then her mother, Debbie Reynolds, left us as well.

The first thing that surprised me about Carrie was her age.  I actually had no idea how old she was but assumed she was a bit older than me.  Turns out she was only a couple of months older than I am.

WOW… my first thought was she was way too young to die.  And she was!!!

You see as you read this I will be celebrating my 60th birthday and while it sounds old I sure don’t feel 60 ( that’s the good news) .  As a matter of fact one of my recurring thoughts as I approach this milestone is

“Wait, how the hell did this happen?”

I just don’t think of myself as 60..its just too big a number to get my head around.

Turns out neither did Carrie.  Her sister Joely Fischer said that one of their last conversations revolved around Carrie saying she couldn’t believe she was 60.  I am right there with her.

Also she and I share a weird sense of humor.  In Carrie’s back yard against a wall is the rear end of a Lion with all his glory hanging out.  Now I have not seen this so I do not have the  details, but just the description alone made me laugh and realized she and I could have had a lot of laughs together.

I saw this in Omaha last spring and laughed hysterically.  I think it would fit perfectly in Carrie’s backyard. Cracks me up that it’s hung over a picnic bench.

Giant nose with pimple in Omaha

The only thing it is missing is a giant finger in one nostril.   Too bad someone around here won’t let me put this in our backyard over our picnic table!!

I would like to think that Carrie enjoyed her last birthday celebration with great gusto as I plan to do. Plus I wish I could thank her in person for finally finding a way to include the funny nose photo in a blog post.  I think she would approve.

Enjoying a good celebration must be genetic as I obviously loved a great party from an early age.

imageLast I want to remind everyone to celebrate everyday( not just your birthday), laugh until you pee your pants ( not that hard as you get older) and put something absurd in your yard, house, car or office that makes you laugh..tell them Carrie and Jennifer made you do it.  And I am off to enjoy the last 15 minutes of my fifties…its going to be an amazing year!!!

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My year of Wonder!!!

Every year for about the past 5 years or so I have picked a word of the year.  One year it was “inspire”.  My intention was not only to inspire others but to inspire myself.  In 2016 my word was “focus”.  I wanted to focus on what was really important in my life.  I also think the underlying intention was to help me set boundaries with the big black hole of the internet and social media.

This year I thought for sure, hands down, positively that my word would be “fearless”.  I intended to use the word to give me even more courage to try new things and do them fearlessly.

And yet it wasn’t fitting somehow.  My mind wiggled around it much like someone wiggles in an itchy wool sweater.  It was a great word, it fit..sort of but it still wasn’t quite right.

January 1st I woke up excited about the new year.  Excited or excitement sounded like a really good word of the year.  That lasted a couple of hours until I realized I had donned that itchy wool sweater again and I started to twitch a bit and knew it didn’t fit.

Another word came to me that morning and it ended up being the right one in so many ways.  It fit a new project I was starting.  It fit my desire to be more present every single moment and it also fit my desire to have a my feet dangling in that black hole of social media, electronics and the internet but not get sucked in every minute of every day.

And the word is  ( drum roll) :

WONDER

I believe it has been lurking in my mind for awhile but was not wanting itself to be known just yet.  You see every morning I walk this goof ball for about 1 1/2 miles around the neighborhood.

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Max

Our neighborhood has wide streets with lots of trees, bunnies, deer, and wooded lots that all those critters can hide in.  It never fails ,even though I have been on this walk literally hundreds of times ,that I see something new.

BUT only if I pay attention.

When I do slow down and take it all in I am always amazed that I somehow I have walked past this sight and  I start to look for more things I might have missed.  It puts me in a state of wonder.

Wonder is definitely my word for 2017 and it is also the theme for my new project:

            “My Year of Wonder”

Starting on Jan 4th I will be posting a photo each day for a year on Instagram.  Each photo will be taken that day and my hope is that it will do a couple of things.

  • remind me to slow down and be present in the moment
  • renew my sense of wonder  each day
  • help me find gratitude and joy in the things and people around me
  • make the people who see these photos smile and encourage them to find the beauty surrounding them

I can’t promise the photos will be earth shattering pieces of art but they will be authentic, original and shared with a smile.

So one last thing.  Why January 4th??  Well, its the best day ever for me!  It’s my Birthday and if you know me you know I love my birthday..always have.  And I am starting a new decade of my life so what better way to start than with  a sense of Wonder!!   I just have to tri!!!   Enjoy!

P.S.  You can find me on Instagram as jennifebross . Please note that at the time when I created my Instagram account  I obviously could not spell my own name and left off the r in Jennifer…cracks me up and Instagram is a bit of a stinker when you try to change things so it will remain the way it is..just going with the flow!

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Before I could run I had to fall in love again…

I used to think a 5k was easy. Let me be honest.  I used to think a 5k was “too short” or in other words beneath me as I was a more “accomplished’ runner and did 10k’s and half marathons and had aspirations to do a full marathon.

And then I stopped running.

I stopped running for a variety of reasons.  It wasn’t intentional.  I broke my wrist in April when I fell during my attempt to do a triple toe loop at the ice rink.  Translation: Tried to  complete the last lap around the rink after my lesson and lost my balance.

After that aside from the fact I really didn’t want to jostle my broken wrist I also had a great fear of falling and breaking it again although with a plate and 8 screws in it that was highly unlikely.

Then there was our incredibly hot summer.

I tried.  I went out for the occasional run and would start out like a shot and be winded halfway into the first quarter mile and feel discouraged and out of shape.

So I did other things like the elliptical, biking and hiking but I missed running.  I really did.

What stopped me in the summer ( the weather) has been calling to me on these bright fall mornings.img_1346

I went out this morning.  I ran but this time instead of starting out like a shot I decided to do an easy pace. Laughing I remembered a running shirt I saw that said “I run like a turtle, slow as shell”   Yup that would be me but it felt right and I quit beating myself up for not doing it faster or longer.

In the words of Forrest Gump: I just felt like running! Click To Tweet

It was a whopping 1.25 miles.

I’m proud of this “short” distance. I did it because I wanted to get out and celebrate the nice weather, get some exercise and find the joy in running again.  Not to train for a race, go faster, or even to check it off my daily to do list.

I can’t even remember why I started running but somehow the pleasure of just being out there got lost in the “shoulds”.  You should do a faster pace, you should do a longer run, you should push yourself.

All those “shouldings” on myself sucked  the pleasure out of running and made it another chore on my “to do” list.

The other “aha” I am having is that I need and want to do this for myself.  Just me.  I will still do some “races”.  I love to be with the other runners and its a bonus if there is some “bling” at the end but I only do the ones that I find fun.

Say “Hi” if you do see me at a race..I’ll be the one the one with the big grin on my face because I fell in love again with running.

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! The Boomerang Effect of Great Ideas!

So a couple of years ago I had this idea.  I have no idea where it came from but it certainly came from a place of love.  We had 5 of our 6 grandchildren in quick succession.  One a year for 5 years ( 2 are only 5 months apart)!

Whoa!  I barely had time to get used to being a Grandma when they came fast and furious. Obviously my little talk about us being a fertile family did not take!

Needless to say it was a little like Romper Room around here when they came to visit.  And just when I was wistfully thinking about what I would do with 3 pack n plays little Tristun made an appearance to even us out at 3 granddaughters and 3 grandsons!

I wanted some one on one time with each of them so I came up with Grandma and Me day.  It has been a huge success and a scheduling challenge since 5 out of the 6 are now in school and we love to do it in the summer!

Here is the very amazing part.  While it is my gift to them I have had the privilege and joy of getting to know them outside of their family and away from their siblings. It was so surprising to see how different they are when it is just me and them!  I get to see a whole new side of them and it is so fun.

We get to talk, do quiet or very loud things and lately VERY adventurous things
( hope my body holds out).

I see aspects of their grandpa, their parents,  and their aunts and uncles.  Common traits that touch my heart to see them continuing on in a new generation.

So all this time I thought I was doing this really fun grandma thing FOR them.  Little did I know how very much it would also be fun and heartwarming for me!

From shoe shopping and fashion shows ( with my clothes and shoes) to swimming, ice skating in the summer and swinging from the trees at “Go Ape” it has been a blast.

So my Thoughtful Thursday challenge to all of you is this..go have some one on one time with someone you always see in a group or family..it could be your Mom or Dad, a sibling, an Aunt or Uncle, a co-worker, or a friend.  You will appreciate a whole new vision of them and it will do your heart good! And as always..go make it a Thoughtful One!

Here are a few photos from our latest adventures!

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