Friday, January 29, 2016

The 2016 Birthday Theme

Take a closer look at these hats and you'll get my birthday theme as inspired by these ladies we encountered (below) while in Branson last fall: the Johnson Sisters. Attired in their matching pink t shirts, I approached them for their story. They were adorable. Diann had her "lightbulb moment" that 
she'd cash in on the idea for our band of two (with an honoree member in Minnesota) vicariously.

                                                   Presenting the Johnson Five!

We needed a look, so she worked on the design of hats and t shirts. Next time we are out and about you may see us in these shirts.  I'm guessing we won't be in the Chicago area, though. We are either going to amuse or frighten those we come in contact with. Consider this fair warning.

     We cheated with the look this time by placing shirts over our bodacious bods already attired.

  This is how my gift box looked at time of presentation. Check out the cute ornament.

In the box of gifts were so many fun treasures to remind me of our Nelson Sisters
adventures, especially within the last year. And my sis and her creativity came through 
with each gift and clue.

The clue for the one below was "As sisters, we share...readiness for adventures."
The gift:  a bumper sticker. Yes, I got a bumper sticker! (It's my mantra for when she asks 
me if I'm up for a road trip.)

Each clue was hidden inside a dotted and decorated envelope sleeve.

I now am the owner of a flashy pink memory foam headrest.

I discovered it's also very useful as ear muffs and sound buffers!

Diann also created a special photo book of our past year highlights as the NS duo with trips to the live 
DWTS show in Peoria, birthday celebrations, road trips to Hilton Head, Branson, and Galena, seeing Santa and eating at the Walnut Room and celebrating an early Christmas together.

No celebration is complete without a shared meal and activity.  We ate crepes and went to the movie
The Lady in the Van (Get it?  Road trips??) and so enjoyed another memory made. 

What a gift, this thing called Sisterhood.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mystery Reader

Do you know what (who) a "Mystery Reader" is? Nope, not one who reads mystery novels. No, not one whose identity remains shrouded while reading a book. A "Mystery Reader" is one who goes to a classroom to read aloud to the students. The kids know someone is coming, just not who this person is and how they are connected to one particular student. The reader could be a mom or dad, grandparent or relative or friend. And last week it was my turn to be the MR!

Back in the day when I was still an employed woman in a public library in the Children's Department 
(Three cheers for CMPL!!!), I often assisted patrons who came in to find "Mystery Reader" books to bring to the classroom. What fun it was to match up titles to active, excited listeners! One day I hoped to have a turn myself as a MR! And it all came true last Friday afternoon.

As I waited outside the classroom for my cue to come in, I got the chance to check out her locker. She has inherited the stuff-it-all-in-and-walk-away-gene just like someone else I know and love! I heard the teacher give these clues:

The Mystery Reader is a grandmother.

There is a girl in this class with this grandmother.

The girl in this class has sisters.

And, because these kids are so smart, they guessed the girl to be E and I walked in. It may have helped that E was wearing a birthday crown for the guessers to be so quick.

I read these two books that are her favorites:
Yes, they are both a bit girly. But both have great messages - the first one with the message of being resourceful and helping out a friend in need and the second with a sweet relationship between a mother and her daughter as she outgrows her clothes.

It was so much fun to be back in the classroom again with such adorable kids!
I admit to being especially drawn to the one in the back row, top left, in the yellow shirt!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Word of the Year 2016

Every year, I try to zero in on one word which inspires my actions, thoughts and relationships. This is done in place of making resolutions I just can't seem to keep. Past words have included: savor, turnover, mindful, embark and sixty. Silly as it may seem, these one-word personal cues have made a difference. 

Sometimes the words come easily; sometimes they don't. There were several candidates for the year:
The word ONE.
The word JOURNEY.
The runner-up word of FOCUS.

But none felt exactly right. However, on this past Sunday gray day as I was headed into church, it came to me! A word about the need for this in our lives, how we need this in loving the world, eating healthy and thinking creatively and really seeing all the gifts we've been given everyday...sunrises and sunsets, forests, oceans, mountains, flowers. The word is
Think about a life without color. Think about how we take our vision for granted. (And think about those cataracts developing!) and I am determined in 2016 to celebrate color! Eating veggies and fruits. Hanging out with people who are colorful. Doing tasks that start with letters in c-o-l-o-r: celebrating, cleaning, clearing (c), organizing, observing (o), learning, laughing, lounging, (l), and reading, reorganizing, reaching and relaxing (r).

Have you seen this picture recently floating around on Facebook? She clinched the word-of the-year for me:
She's 93 and is quoted as saying, "Well, I refuse to be that little old white-haired lady!" She's my kind of ****colorful! 

****Note: I'm not intending to go the pink hair route just yet, though.

Here's to a color-filled New Year!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Beautiful Memories

We three loved hanging out together - me, Karin and Sue. We spent our formative years being close friends in New Jersey. We went to camp together, to Sue's family cottage together. We had many sleepovers and talked about boys (or lack of boys), played guitars together, braided each other's hair. The above picture is post-braiding with a hand-written note that says after and in the picture below the note reads before. 
We loved James Taylor and Carole King. (I think part of the hair braiding thing came about because each of us had pin-straight hair and Carole didn't.)

When the Tapestry album came out in 1971 (we were high school sophomores) we listened together as a group and also alone in our rooms. It is amazing that the grooves on the album kept producing sounds due to its heavy use.
Each song brings me back to those days - break-ups, make-ups, fresh starts, encouraging words, and just plain old fun!
I Feel the Earth Move
So Far Away
It's Too Late
Way Over Yonder
You've Got a Friend
Where you Lead
Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
Smack Water Jack
You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

When I learned of the play Beautiful coming to Chicago, I put tickets to it on the top of the Christmas gift list - a list of one thing. It is the story of Carole King as a young, gifted singer/songwriter through her early years of marriage and family and ending up around the time she moves to California and produces the Tapesstry album.

The guy in the furry hat delivered!
It was Some Kind of Wonderful. Beautiful. And I think I (Could) Feel the Earth Move with each song sung in the show. I hated for it to be over so soon.

There's a great book out there, published in 2008 and written by Sheila Weller, about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. The title is GIRLS LIKE US and it gives an in-depth portrayal of these three
musicians. As for Carole King, I was thrilled to see her honored recently at the Kennedy Center.
As an homage, I will not be copying her hair ever again.
Once is more than enough!!

Update:  apparently I did it twice as pointed out my my friend, Sandi.  Braces in the top pictures and no braces in the bottom picture my senior year. Not only was I making bad choices, but I forgot about them! Onward and forward, and no braids in my immediate future.