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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I have a to-do list. Don’t we all? And usually Sunday is set aside for the list. I want to start off Monday with a clean slate, at the very least with clean laundry. But yesterday that didn’t happen. And I need to be OK with it.

I chose people instead. After church I was invited to have lunch with a dear-to-my-family family. I accepted even though the list was waiting. The lunch was delightful and fun.

Home long enough to dash off a Slice of Life post, my daughter sent out a Help! message. Her toddler son’s ears were hurting. He was crying, and the baby woke up from her nap. I remember well the feeling of overwhelm as a mother of three, so off I went to help. The list could wait.

Now it’s early Monday morning. I scrambled out some lesson plans. I’ve got a rough draft of an article due today, and there are a few things left to do, but I’m going to take a walk, and start this week knowing that people (family) are more important than a list.

Leo and Stella love books.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Today is the first day of the March Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by the Two Writing Teachers blog. A group of teacher-bloggers join in a community of writers to write each day of March. I’ve done this challenge for many years. I can’t remember how many. Nine, maybe 10? Every year I feel daunted by the idea of writing every day, but I also know at the end of the month, there is satisfaction in having written. And the writing builds community and connection.

Thomas, 2.5 with beads

Today is also Mardi Gras Day which in South Louisiana is a big deal. This year the celebration is back after a hiatus for the pandemic. We have the week off of school, so I am traveling and visiting family. This weekend I was in New Orleans with my daughter and her toddler son. Above, he’s curious about the beads hanging from the porch railing. Beads can be found everywhere, in the trees, on fences, and even on a fire hydrant.

Beaded fire hydrant in New Orleans

My sister and I drove up to Jackson, MS to visit our parents. She brought a taste of New Orleans in a traditional King Cake. When she cut pieces for Mom and Dad, she said, “Watch out for the baby!” and sure enough, Dad got the baby. He is certainly royalty to us! You can read about the tradition of the king cake in this article.

Pop with the king cake baby

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Fire pit in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Let the magic find you.

I picked up that line from fellow slicer Fran Haley’s post this morning. I want to adopt it as my 2022 mantra.

Instead of piles of presents, our family took a trip to the mountains of North Carolina. We rented a home near Burnsville outside of Asheville. The house was just right with three floors, five bedrooms, and a fire pit. The only treacherous part was the drive up. As luck would have it, we arrived before dark to drive the mile long switchback trail up, up, and up. Thank heavens for confident sons-in-law drivers and 4-wheel drive. The trail became part of the adventure to the mountain house. We did make sure we were home each day before dark. And one morning the guys walked down with a wheelbarrow and patched some squishy places with branches and rocks.

Magic found us in the mountain house.

Three toddlers making fun.
Men making meals.
Scary barns.
Fields of cows.
Nightly fires
under a blanket of stars.
Magical Christmas!

Toddler wrestling…Cousination!


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Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts are being gathered by Karen.

Spiritual journeys, like life, have their ups and downs. I think I’ve been in a low for a while now, without realizing it. Nothing like a major disaster to come along as a wake up call. God whizzed by and said, “Hey, look what the force of nature can do. Blow off roofs. Shut down power systems. Upend trees. Disrupt our lives. But I’m still here if you need me.”

Karen Eastlund asked us to write about virtue. She sent us a long list of virtues. I have been thinking a lot about Grace. Grace kept us safe from the storm. Grace allows us to be a safe haven for our family. Grace is the virtue that gives freely without asking for anything in return.

My family is filling up my house. It’s usually just me and my husband, dog Charlie, and cats Fancy, Mimi, and Buzz. Today my home includes 4 more adults, 1 toddler, 3 dogs and a cat. My school secretary commented, “Simon Family Zoo.” But I prefer another friend’s comment. He said, “Like Christmas!”

In Grace and with Gratitude, I open my heart and my home to the ones I love. We will get through this and likely become better people.

God, grant me the grace to be the calm in the storm, love in times of trouble, and faith when things look bleak.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

My One Little Word for 2020 is Embrace. Little did I know in January how much I would need this word, especially when one of the no-nos in this Covid world is hugging. One thing I did know at the beginning of the year was that we would be having a wedding in our backyard in October.

Nephews enjoying bubbles! Photo by LeeAnn B Stephan

That wedding plan went on a roller-coaster ride and landed with 14 seats at the table (+3 toddler nephews). My wise daughter decided in July, when cases spiked again in our state, to cut her guest list to only immediate family. That included her parents, his parents, her sisters and their husbands, and his brother and wife. The officiant was her grandmother, a retired district court judge.

There is still a great deal of planning and stress that come along with a small wedding. There was food to be ordered, rentals to be delivered, a bar to stock, etc. Not to mention we invested in rebuilding the deck. The good news is we get to keep the deck.

Martha and Paul with three nephews
Leo, 22 months, Thomas, 13 months, and Charlie, 2 years 4 months.

The weather could not have been more perfect. After enduring a hurricane the weekend before, the sky was blue and clear. The temperature was in the 70’s. The bayou glistened with fall colors.

As perfect as the weather was, so were the bride and groom, holding hands, exchanging heartfelt original vows, and creating a new family.

They asked me to read an original poem. It appeared here on my blog. I choked my way through it. We all cried, laughed, danced, and sang the night away…into the wee hours…because we didn’t want it to end.

Year 2020 has taught me to embrace my family. This weekend extended my family to a wider embrace. I am filled with gratitude and grace.

Dancing on the new deck. Photograph by LeeAnn Stephan

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Carolina wren carries food to her babies.

Sitting on the back porch at the lake, we noticed a small bird coming and going, in and out of the flower pot of red vinca.

“I wonder if there’s a nest in there,” said Mom while sipping her morning coffee. “When I watered it yesterday, I noticed a big hole, but I didn’t think anything of it.”

A little while later when I didn’t see the adult bird around, I peeked into the pot.  When I moved a stem of the flower, I saw movement and then three wide-open yellow beaks, hoping I had a juicy insect to drop in.

With excitement, I ran inside to announce to everyone that there indeed was a nest and there were baby chicks in it.

Last summer on my yearly visit we watched goslings of a Canada Geese couple.

My visits to the lake are spent hanging out on the back porch talking with my family.  Nature moves around us every day, and we never seem to have the time to really pay attention.  This nest of Carolina wrens (it took some internet research, a bird book, and consulting a bird expert to know what kind they were) entertained us and helped us focus on what’s really important: life, love, and family nesting.

Can you see the mama bird? Babies are right underneath.

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Slice of a Swing

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

girls-on-swing-in-1997

My three daughters lined up on the swing with Isabel, our weenie dog, and Sammy, the three-legged cat, on the first day of school.  My husband built the swing of heavy cypress, and it hung in the breezeway between the house and the carport.  The picture was taken in 1997 and took some time for me to find.  (I got lost in the trip down memory lane through albums of photos.)  I remembered that we took the first day of school picture every year on this cypress swing outside our back door.  Digging through the photos, I only found two.  The second one was taken in 1998, and Maggie had outgrown first-day-of-school photos, so it was only the younger two. (And Izzy and Sammy, of course)

clean-sanded-swing

Fast forward almost 20 years.  The swing has been sitting in our carport ever since we moved to this house 12 years ago.  We’ve just never found the right spot for it.  Our cats have enjoyed finding a dry spot to hang out, and we’ve used it to hold various things that tend to land in a carport.  It gathered dirt and leaves while the paint peeled.

painting-swing

A few weeks ago, our oldest daughter bought a house with her boyfriend.  They are engaged to be married this spring.  Their new house has a nice front porch just begging for a cypress swing.  So Jeff spent a few weekends cleaning, sanding, and painting the infamous swing.

swing-in-truck

On Sunday, we loaded it into his truck to deliver to its new home.

To me, this is a right of passage, of sorts.  The next generation is making their way into this world.  The swing has many more years left in it.  Solid, strong, and safe… like our family.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Morning walk in the park, a great egret in Devil's Pond.

Morning walk in the park, a great egret in Devil’s Pond.

My house is full: three daughters, one fiancé, one sister, one brother-in-law, one niece, one nephew, two dogs, three cats.

My fridge is full: turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, Brussels sprouts, salad, pumpkin cake, and a big pot of gumbo.

My heart is full: card games, laughter, stories, tiny hats, satsuma rum, dog hugs, cooking, cleaning, Venti latte, “whose phone is this?”, laughing, hugs, smiles, photos, swinging on the rope, harvesting satsumas, canoeing on the bayou.

I celebrate this wonderful full house that fills my heart with health, love, and peace.

My nephew Jack climbs into the satsuma tree to harvest.

My nephew Jack climbs into the satsuma tree to harvest.

My son-in-law-to-be learns the way to my heart is with coffee from Starbucks.

My son-in-law-to-be learns the way to my heart is with coffee from Starbucks.

Sisters enjoy the feast.

Sisters enjoy the feast.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

I have a new best friend. We met on the Internet through blogging, linking up each week with the Two Writing Teachers blog. We met face to face for the first time at NCTE in the fall. So when she told me she was coming to New Orleans to visit colleges with her daughter, I jumped at the chance to get together. Julianne Harmatz, her daughter Claire, and I spent the day together on Tuesday. I showed her some of my favorite things about NOLA, The Quarter, beignets at Cafe Du Monde, and Pim’s Cup at The Napoleon House. Julianne and I talked nonstop. At one point we were discussing birthdays and guess what!? We have the same birthday! I screamed, “Soul sisters!” I celebrate friendship.

With Julianne in Jackson Square

With Julianne in Jackson Square

On Wednesday I drove home to Mississippi to be with my sister and her kids to celebrate our mother’s birthday. All of us (brother included) went out to a nice restaurant for lunch together. Much talking, laughter, and fun. Here’s Mom with her Crème brûlée desert.

MomBday

My brother, Hunter Gibson, is a musician. He was featured in The Clarion-Ledger this week. Friday night many of us gathered to hear him play and sing. Jack, my 10 year old nephew, and I made origami with dollar bills for the tip jar. Jack made an elephant and I made a guitar. I celebrate creating with Jack and in giving to Hunter.

origami guitar

The sunsets are glorious here at the lake. I celebrate being with family, watching wildlife, and reconnecting with friends old and new.

June sunset on the lake

June sunset on the lake

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Holly Mueller leads us to spiritual reflection each week. This week the theme is family. I didn’t think I could write a poem about family without being trite or cliché. Sometimes cliché just happens, and this is one of those times.

Family is a full cup
overflowing
with nourishing water
a twist of lemon.

Family is a dog,
four cats,
an occasional frog.

Family is photo albums
in the antique armoire
saving the years.

Family is a favorite restaurant
where they know your name.

Family is a daily text,
Facetime, calling Bluetooth,
feeling close together
while far apart
knowing there is no place like home
and no friend like family.

–Margaret Simon

Last night I happened upon a Twitter chat for #TCRWP. Someone mentioned using PicLit, so in the spirit of digital poetry, I tried it out. The first picture that came up was the Bean in Chicago where we have posed a few family pictures. The word family was not listed, so I used people instead.

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

And here a family Bean photo with haiku using Picmonkey.

Bean family reflection

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