Archive for the ‘Seasonal’ Category

My joy for today is a summer blockbuster with heart.

A few nights ago, my husband and I saw the first movie together in a theater since the last Harry Potter. It was a rare, spur of the moment night out, along with my family.  We went to see the latest installation of the Men in Black series.  When Men in Black II came out, I was a college student, unmarried, and without children.  Fast forward a decade later, a husband, a home, and four children added to my life, and I hoped Men in Black III could deliver the same carefree summer fun of 10 years ago. I was looking forward to seeing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones together again.

The film did not disappoint, and actually surpassed my expectations.  It is rated PG-13, which is warranted mostly because of disgusting bad guy and typical sci-fi violence.  We had a fleeting thought of taking our 7 year old to see MIB III, but were immensely glad we decided against that.  The opening sequence of the movie is surprisingly disgusting and I would actually turn my head away from the screen many times, along with “ewww-ing” out loud.  After the initial sequence, establishing the conflict, the audience was treated to the return of Agents J and K.  Although I have not seen Will Smith in much lately, I believe he is a classic movie star of our time.  He is handsome, funny in a witty and sarcastic manner, and a smart, capable character in this film.  Tommy Lee Jones reminds me of older men in my family, and his dry humor and straight laced persona are classic.  Josh Brolin is absolutely amazing as a young Tommy Lee Jones.  His mannerisms, humor, and voice are dead on.  It is hard to believe you are not actually watching a younger Tommy Lee in the flesh.  The actor playing the villain, Boris the Animal, is Jemaine Clement.  I was not aware of him before this movie, but he perfectly portrays a bad guy.  There are no torturous feelings about actually caring about him or wondering why he is so evil.  He is an alien, the last of his kind, and he should not be allowed to continue living.  Pure and simple; just as a popcorn flick should be.

There are several inconsistencies in the time travel plot, but it is overall easy to follow and believable.  I will not give away the best aspects of the plot, but there is an unbelievably heartwarming and touching culmination to the film.  I actually had to wipe away tears.  The final scene is musically accompanied by one of my favorite songs, “Empire State of Mind” and with that, a summer blockbuster is complete.    This is a movie that needs to be seen in a theater.  Start your summer off right.

Enjoy your joys for today.


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My joy for today is our very own snowbirds.

“How many more days until Nana and Pappy get here?”

“After this sleep they will be here?”


Questions like this continue day after day following the announcement that my Mom and Dad will be coming from Pennsylvania to their “little house” in Florida.  For this reason, we try not to tell the kids about their upcoming arrival until very soon before it happens.  The adults around here are not much better.  We call and text each other, asking if anyone has an update on their arrival date or time.  We try to act as though we care less than the kids when Mom and Dad arrive, but inside, we are all just like the little ones, bursting with excitement that our favorite snowbirds are making their annual migration.

When visitors come to stay, it’s like you are on a vacation along with them, vicariously experiencing the departure from everyday duties and roles along with your guests.  Imagine what it’s like to have visitors for months!  Of course we do actually have to continue to fulfill our responsibilities, but each day holds a little more excitement, a little more possibility, a little more love.

This year, our snowbirds came with matching boots.  They both had foot surgery a few weeks prior, which had also delayed their arrival to Florida.  They move more slowly than usual, but thankfully it does not slow down our Wizard, Quiddler, or Mexican Train Domino games.

Having my parents around reminds of my previous life in Florida, of being a kid in the Sunshine State.  You can count on music always playing in the background, Dad often in the garage, Mom’s Swedish bread, cook-outs by the pool, days at the beach, eating out and eating too much, Granny as happy and as fun as you will ever see her, shopping trips with Mom, and employing the motto that my mom has in the kitchen, “Celebrate Everything.”  For example, tonight we are having an Oscar party, complete with a red carpet sidewalk, food, drink, and games.  We don’t need a reason to spend time together, but we will seize any reason to have a party.  In my second life in Florida with my parents, I have added a husband and four kids, which makes time with my parents that much more meaningful.  When my Dad is here, my husband has one of his best friends around to talk with and laugh.  My kids have their Nana and Pappy, whom they adore.  I have a warm feeling in my heart that all is a little better with the world.

As with any post about a person or people, it is impossible to summarize them into a short blog.  Needless to say to anyone who knows either me or them, they are amazing parents, as well as amazing people, full of encouragement, support, and unending delight in their children, no matter their age.  They have given me the gift of self-esteem, by loving me unconditionally since the day of my birth, and I am eternally grateful for their presence in my life and in the life of my family.

When my parents leave, I cannot listen to Oldies on the radio without getting tears in my eyes.  The gentle, carefree merriment and love of that music sums up the feeling I have when my parents are in town.  Unfortunately, my kids know their visit does not last forever, and have already asked when they are going back to their “big house.”  This provides an excellent opportunity for me to tell them what I need reminded of as well:

Enjoy your joys for today.

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Olympic Opine

My joy for today is the Winter Olympics.

I must admit that I know very, very little about any winter sport.  I have been snow skiing once or twice, never owned a pair of ice skates, and generally dislike winter weather that consists of temperatures below 70.

However, my persuasive husband can convince me to watch just about any sport.  He does not spend much time at all watching sports, so when he does, I know it must be important.  A few months ago, he got me to watch almost the entire World Series. which I really enjoyed.  We watched every Penn State football game, and thanks to the influence of our dear friend big Ellen, watched quite a few NFL games as well.  Most recently, in the past few weeks, we have watched cross country skiing, downhill skiing, hockey, curling, and speed skating.

The final match of men’s hockey just came to a close.  Canada won in overtime.  My husband told me a random statistic (completely unverified yet very interesting) that 70% of Canadians were watching this game.  For this reason, all in our household were betraying our citizenship by rejoicing in the Canadian victory.  As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I wholeheartedly believe that excellence in all areas should be recognized and celebrated.  The Olympics are a perfect visual example of this belief.  If I start training now, think I could be ready for the next Olympic curling trials?

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Merry Christmas!

My joy for today is Christmas.

For all my faithful readers, and I am talking to each and every one of you five people, sorry for the hiatus.  As most of you know, we were visiting family in Pennsylvania for the holidays.  And even though it is quite obvious and unoriginal, I would be incredibly remiss to not mention the joy of Christmas.

Mouse calendar, chocolate covered pretzels, late nights of laughing and talking, shopping, baking, wrapping gifts, Christmas cards, advent calendars, Christmas lights, beautifully decorated trees, nut roll, granola, fudge, peanut butter blossoms, stockings, preschool Christmas program, gingerbread houses, glorious hymns, family traditions, parties, meaningful worship services, birthday cake for Jesus, yearly reunions with friends, Pictionary, holiday movies, MGM Spectacle of Lights, extra time with my hubby, exuberant kids, first Christmas memories, and so much more; these are the earthly things that bring me joy over the holiday season.

The most wonderful joy of the season is the birth of our Savior.  It is so wonderful to walk around a mall or grocery store and hear songs declaring the birth of Jesus.  A season focused on giving, sharing and cherishing family and friends, while celebrating the birth of Jesus is a simple and long-lasting reason for joy.  Although it is busy, it is glorious.  Each year, it seems to pass more and more quickly.  May we all attempt to remember the feeling the whole year through!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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My joy for today is Joe Paterno.

I grew up as a Penn State fan.  It is a family tradition that goes back many generations.  In my early teenage years, when I wanted nothing more than to be different and unique, especially from my parents, I promised I would attend college anywhere but PSU.  Well, both my husband and I are proud alumni.  My 13 year old self would not be proud.  But she pierced her own belly button, so we can’t trust her.

We have watched every Penn State game except one this season.  It is a wonderful opportunity to be together as a family, with Granny and sometimes with my parents or sister.  We always cheer and clap; my mom squeals with delight or anger, and only occasionally remembers to limit her volume when babies are sleeping.  No matter whether they win or lose, we are always fans of the blue and white.  We even fly a Penn State flag at our house during football season.  Noah does adorable push-ups after each touchdown and one of my favorite aspects of the festivities is the food, of which there is plenty.  Each weekend, we discuss our menu for the “tailgate,” which takes place in our living room.

There are often Big Ten commercials during the game, one of which features PSU head coach since 1966, Joe Paterno.  We all silence ourselves during these 30 seconds to enjoy the glimpses of Joe.  If I am not in the room, my family calls to me at the end of the game when the coaches are about to shake hands.  This is my absolute favorite part of the game, as you get to see the interaction between Joe and his opposing coach.  It is a glimpse at the humanity of the game.

Penn State football is Joe Paterno.  He is a classy, consistent, generous man that holds his players to a high standard of conduct both on and off the field.  He demands respect, of which he entirely deserves.  I met him once as a young child with my mom at a hotel.  I remember clearly that he was very kind to us both and acted as if he was as happy to meet us as we were him.  Joe will be 83 soon.  What would Penn State football look like without JoePa?  I wish he could coach that team forever.  While he is still there, I will smile during each commercial when he growls, “COME TO PENN STATE!”

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Florida Fall

My joy for today is Florida Fall.

Despite the calendar’s notice of Fall a few weeks ago, today was actually the first official day of Fall in sunny Florida.  On a day that was preceded in my hometown in Pennsylvania by a few inches of snow, here, we finally dipped below the 90’s.  In fact, the high for today is 68!  I love reading all of my friends’ tweets, facebook status updates, and blog posts about the joy of the changing temperature.  It is a true celebration!

I relish in witnessing my children’s reactions to the cool weather each year.  It is so incredibly foreign to them to wear socks, pants, or long sleeve shirts.  When dressing Molly for Noah’s soccer game this morning, I got socks out of her drawer.   She had no frame of reference for what purpose these were intended.  She was so excited to show everyone her little sweatshirt, jeans, socks, and closed-toed shoes.  These articles of clothing are novel concepts!  When Tucker was presented with the wind and cool temperatures, he showed off the traditional shocked baby face while gasping for air from shock.  This is a beautiful tradition for my babies that I cherish.  All of them were born in Florida and thus are delighted and surprised by cool weather when it comes around for the first time each year.

At the beginning of September, even though the temperature was still in the 80’s to 90’s, I noticed a change in humidity and slight change in temperature that, as a native Floridian, I recognized as ushering in the season.  My husband and northern friends disagreed vehemently as they sweat through their shirts.  Also, in the past few weeks, I have been discussing how much I enjoy the decorations and celebrations we Floridians establish in our homes for Fall, as if we are trying to create the season inside our homes to spite the outside conditions.  Today, we were all joyously in agreement.  We knew in our hearts that Fall had come, and we felt it in our fingers.  I am wearing my flannel pajamas to bed, and will be sure to light my Harvest candle tomorrow.

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