Category Archives: Family

Is Amber Turning Over a New Leaf?

This is Amber, our yellow lab puppy. She will be two years old in March. She weighs 94 pounds. She is a more than a double-handful for us, teaching us countless lessons on how to pay better attention, make SURE she’s on the proper side of the dog gate, make SURE all the food is put away properly in the kitchen, make SURE you’re braced and balanced before she runs into you, make SURE we only let one dog out at a time, and more.

We’ve been told that labs are puppies until they are two years old. I have no confidence that Amber got that memo.

That said, Amber has had a quiet day today! She seems to be feeling fine. She jumped right up to go in the CAR with us when we did errands this morning. She wagged her tail at countless people she saw at each place we stopped. When she got home, she actually gave us the squeaky ball a couple of times, instead of teasing us and actually wanting to play tug of war. She’s been out a couple of times and didn’t bring any deer parts into the yard. She didn’t get into anything in the garage, taking it outside to chew on it. She actually got in her place when asked with no protest. She didn’t get into any trash cans. She didn’t splash the water out of the water dish.

She hasn’t given back her dinner in over a week now. She nosed both cats and our elderly cocker spaniel/schnauzer mix, Molly, but didn’t knock anyone over or cause anyone to protest her attention.  She’s only thrown my arm up over my head – her signal that she wants to go out – a couple of times today. She didn’t try to join me in my computer chair.

I’m not sure what to think. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be with her all day long (it’s mid-afternoon now.) We LOVE her ALL the time, but we have appreciated getting a bit of quiet time to collect our thoughts occasionally.

Is Amber turning over a new leaf?

Nah!  She is just lulling us into a sense of relief and complacency before she brings us back to reality once again….


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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family

Something You Might Consider Doing


I created a document for our son that answers questions such as, “What should I do about…?” and “Where is the….”

In this document I list financial stuff, insurance information, loans status and sources, contact information for important people, and more.

We all know there are no guarantees in life. No one knows how long he or she will live. I’ve tried to picture our son trying to deal with things if

  • I die, or my husband dies, and the remaining person needs help dealing with things
  • My husband and I die together and our son is left with the house, cars, and STUFF

We have taken advantage of the expertise of our lawyer, our CPA, and spelled out what we want done as far as burial arrangements, made suggestions as to what to do with the stuff our son doesn’t want, and mainly tried to answer “where is the” with lists of what is in our safe deposit box and other secure places.


We update the document every six months. (I procrastinate, thinking not much has changed – but each time I do it, I’m surprised how out-of-date much of the information is!  We have tried to handle things as much as possible so that our son can do things from across the world, if needed, or he can get to everything he needs if he comes home. We probably haven’t thought of everything, but we try to rethink things twice a year, as if we were looking at the problem with fresh eyes.

We think it’s a very important way we can help the remaining spouse or our son take care of things as easily as possible.

It’s never too early to plan for when you’re not here anymore. We think it’s a good way to show our love.

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Filed under building good habits, Challenges, Changes, character-building exercises, Family


Anatole France via via Cindy Basnett Thurman

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family


My husband and I were raking rocks, picking up tools, hauling bricks, and wrapping up the potting soil for the planter we had to demolish.  My husband’s hearing is a bit challenged (I guess mine probably is, too), but I asked him, while he was raking rocks, if I should start gathering the tools. He gave me an exasperated look, stopped raking rocks, and started pitching tools into the wheelbarrow. I helped him finish that, hauled off some bricks, put away the tools, and came back and helped with the rock raking. We put some bricks on top of the tarp filled with soil and agreed that we would need to get a smaller tarp tomorrow to cover up the soil better.

While we were taking some pry bars back out to the shop, I apologized that I had made him angry. He finally said, “You wanted me to help raking rocks. THEN you decided to haul the bricks off instead of raking with me. THEN you wanted me to stop what I was doing and pick up tools.”

The fact that he was out there raking rocks and helping to get to a good stopping place on the planter meant more to me than the fact he got angry with me because he won’t admit he needs his hearing checked.  I DO value our relationship, and it IS more important than my ego or who was right or wrong.

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Filed under Family, Lewis projects

Misuse of Imagination

Linda Sweigart via Cathy Ruggiero

In trying to make the most of 2019, I’m trying to put some of my bad habits behind me.

I am a CHAMPION worrier. I am not being boastful – this is one of my worst, most destructive behaviors and I would really like to change it.

My son and I had a good talk about this while he was home visiting.  The gist of our talk, I guess, was the Serenity Prayer, but personalized to lots of my  (and my son’s) particular worries.  He is much more at peace since he became serious about meditating and he tried to share some of that with me. We talked openly about our fears, whether or not anything could be done to lessen or alleviate them, and at some points cried with each other. It was a really special time for us and I feel lucky we were able to share gut level feelings and help each other deal with them.

I’ve decided that this year I will –

  • write down my fear
  • explore honestly how valid the fear is
  • if there is something I can do to lessen or alleviate it, I’ll do it
  • if there is really nothing I can do about it, I’ll try to let go of it, leaving it in my journal

I’m hoping that facing each fear as it comes up will help me be more realistic and spend less time ‘playing the recording’ over and over in my head, causing me stress and anxiety and not changing anything for the better.  My son and I have agreed that – even though he will again be across the world from me – we will both feel free to express any fears and help each other work through them.

I will try to use my imagination for my next art project!

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, Family

Hugs and Love

The Journey Home via Carol Auclair Daly


I’m feeling a bit blue right now – AND feeling guilty that I’m such a greedy lady. We took our son to the airport this morning after enjoying a JOYOUS 3 weeks together. He was here for his birthday AND Christmas AND New Year’s.

I’m blue because we have no clue how long it will be before we can see him again. This time it was over 3 years, since he lives and works in Thailand. His trip home was 28 hours all told – and that was the SHORTER way. I hate for him to have to do this, but I’m SO glad he did.

I’m feeling guilty because – truth be told – there is no ‘long enough visit,’ or enough hugs.

Our son is a champion hugger. It brings tears to my eyes when I get one from him, and he’s super generous with them. My hugs bucket is filled up at the moment after a long drought.  My heart is full.

We are so proud of the man he is and his plans for the future. We are lucky that he knows how much we love him and how proud we are of him. We know WE are loved, and he enjoys being with us – a truly wonderful thing.


The Fresh Quotes

Our son went around to the driver’s side of the car at the airport this morning to hug his dad. My husband said, “If I never get to see you again, you’ll be okay.” Then our son came around the car to me, eyes red, giving me a last, hard, long hug.

It’s a beautiful thing to love so hard.

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Filed under Family, holidays

Happy Christmas 2018 at the Lewises

We are having the happiest end-of-the-year I can remember. Our son lives and works in Thailand. It’s been over 3 years since we have seen him. He was here so we could celebrate his 40th birthday, Christmas, and he’ll leave on the 2nd, after celebrating New Years with us.

We lost our daughter, Jade, to SIDS when she was two months old, so Brian is our only child. Raising kids is a crap shoot. Lots of good people do the very best they can and end up with heartache. We won the lottery with Brian. He’s a kind-hearted soul and wise beyond his years.

He has spent much of the holiday fixing our stuff – our dash cam in our car, the new phone set up, my pedometer, an in-house camera, and lately, our Synology (a device that allows you to record your DVDs on it. We accessed our Synology via Roku and a device they provide. They announced they are no longer providing it as of the end of the year. SHRIEK!

Brian wrote a program that looks through our movie list, picks one out that needs reformatting so we can access it through our Playstation 3, reformats it, then puts it into a special directory of finished movies. Then it chooses another…. He has been monitoring the progress and testing periodically to make sure the movie comes up through our Playstation, having good resolution and sound. He won’t be able to get all the movies done before he leaves, but he’ll make sure my husband can do it on his computer and finish the project.

I took the picture above because he spends a lot of time on his laptop while he’s here. When I start missing him a lot (try 2 seconds after he leaves) I can pull up this picture.


My husband, Harvey, and our son, Brian.


Brian and me.

Harvey and me.

Brian will visit relatives in Charlotte NC and friends and former co-workers in Gainesville FL before he heads back to Thailand. At the end of January he is going to Nepal to a monastery to meditate. He’s been accepted for 3 weeks and can extend that with the permission of his teacher. He hopes to stay two months.

We’ll be incommunicado while he’s meditating, but then we’ll get back to talking to each other daily on a secure chat program and seeing each other periodically via a conference call program.

Life is especially good this year.

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Pumpkin Bread

Loving and taking care of Amber is a full-time job. She will be two-years-old in March and weighs 94 pounds.

I thought that she wore my husband and me out because we’re getting a bit ‘long-in-the-tooth,’ but our son feels the same way. We received a beautiful Christmas card with a photo of a yellow lab with a Christmas wreath around his neck from long-time friends. The photo was of THEIR lab, “Tank” who is 5 years old and still thinks he’s a puppy, so it looks like WE are the ones who will have to continue to learn and adjust on the raising of Amber.

She has been ecstatic about our son, trying to knock him over with exuberant bids for attention, barking incessantly when she’s outside, leaving hair all over him, slurping him to the point he has to get up and wash his hands, grabbing the lint roller to try to remove at least one layer of the hair on his clothes. She hasn’t run into him yet – in a trick we call, “The Matador,” where we attempt to turn to the side, yelling, “Ole!” when she hopefully runs BY us at full speed – rather than INTO us, knocking us flat on the ground outside.

We try to stay alert, on guard for anything new. This holiday, she and Molly, our 13-year-old cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross, found the bones of a deer somewhere on our land (we have about 8 acres on top of a ridge line). We have been gathering the bones from the front yard, most of the time under deep protest from the dogs, throwing away some parts we can identify and some we can’t, hoping each day that this is the end of it. They absolutely LOVE to lie in the yard, happily chewing on one bone or another…

Last night my husband and I played, “Dive-into-the-chest-freezer-in-the-garage-and-try-to-find-something” – usually on the bottom of the chest. We were looking for a package of hamburger meat so I can make us some spaghetti – one of the things we’ve been craving while on our diet. We also found some pumpkin bread – a gift from my sister-in-law. She makes that and pound cake, which definitely lives up to its name and goes straight to my hips. I put both of them at the bottom of the chest freezer in an effort to forget they were there. :0)  My husband, having an eagle eye for sweets, came up with the pumpkin bread and brought it inside. We put the wrapped chunk of hamburger meat and the unwrapped pumpkin bread on the counter in the kitchen to thaw.

We have a strict rule about Amber being in the living room behind a gate between there and the kitchen. Lately the line has been blurred because Amber has been chewing on the deer and then giving back a lot of dog food as her stomach protests her eating habits. So we’ve been keeping her in the kitchen/dining area to keep her on the tiles in case her stomach protests again. Usually our son is there, working on his computer, and can monitor things.

A perfect storm of events resulted in our hearing a mysterious sound while we were in the living room talking. Our son ran into the kitchen to find Amber, her feet up on the kitchen island, happily eating one end of the pumpkin bread. He yelled, put her outside, and we looked at the chewed bread. I cut off about 1/4 of the bread, making a clean break between Amber’s enjoyment and the rest of the loaf. My husband then happily ate a piece ‘to test it,’ and then another, pronouncing the pumpkin bread ‘delicious!’

Amber thinks this holiday – with deer and pumpkin bread – is a delicious tradition she would like to continue.


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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, holidays

A Wonderful Talk with Our Son

Monty Winters

My son and I spent a fascinating time together today.

He asked me if I wanted to see him write in the Thai language. We sat side by side on the couch. He had a lap board, paper, and pen. He wrote words, showing how the characters worked together to make the characters ‘high class’ or ‘low class,” and how the vowels were usually a combination of several characters in a pattern that told him whether the pronunciation should have his voice going up or going down.

He wrote out several whole sentences for me, and I loved watching how carefully he wrote the characters, but he clearly didn’t have to think much about it, having practiced for hours and hours to get it right.

Being technologically challenged, we discussed answers to my questions regarding his phone and his computer. He had to get a SIM card to put into his phone in order to use it here in the United States. There is another place in the side of his phone that allows him to store the SIM card he uses in Thailand, so he can change it back when he goes home.

He also showed me how he can change keyboards on his phone from English, to Mandarin Chinese, to Thai and back again with just a click. He participates in a program where people text questions, such as, ‘How do I ask someone if they want to go eat in English?”  He answers, after reading the question in Thai or Mandarin, then switches to his English keyboard and writes the answer. He can read Mandarin and answer a question in Thai or in English. I’m so proud of his hard work and determination to become as fluent as possible in each of the languages, plus help other people, too. He says it’s showing respect to learn the language of the country you’re living in.

He’s decided that when he replaces his computer next time, he’s going to buy one in Thailand so it has Thai characters on the keyboard, rather than having to use the stick-on characters that get grungy after a time.

I took Spanish in high school and went to Mexico City one summer. I was able to make myself understood a reasonable amount of the time, but certainly not in anything more than BABY Spanish, ungrammatical, with a lot of acting thrown in. I’m not SURE I would say I’m really FLUENT in English, either, as I feel out of my depth very quickly with people whose vocabulary is much richer than mine.

We had a wonderful time this afternoon, and I saw yet another side of our son. We know we’re biased, but we think we understate what an amazing man he is!

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Filed under Cherishing the Quiet Day, Family

Christmas Gifts to our Fish

Since our son has been home visiting and my concentration has been on spending as much time with him as possible, I’ve been neglecting my fish a bit. Today I remedied that by taking every one and every thing out of the aquarium, thoroughly cleaning and vacuuming it, putting in fresh decorations and fresh water, and finally putting the sweet fish back.


Here’s a close-up of my four fish. They have tripled in size since we got them at the exclusive emporium of Walmart in Fort Smith, Arkansas, even though there was a learning curve on what filters to use and what size, how much oxygen they needed in the form of bubbles, etc. They are altogether in one corner, wriggling and opening and closing their mouths at me because they thought they could get me to feed them again, although I already had this morning. They were right – and they got more food. :0)


My friend Linda gave me this “rain wall” for Christmas. I think it’s lovely. I decided to share it with our fish as a nice Christmas gift , thinking they might get a kick out of it. So far, not one of them has mentioned it or shown any sign they think it’s neat. That’s okay, because “I” love it enough for ALL of us!

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Filed under Family, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob

Christmas Eve Evening

We’ve had a wonderful afternoon. A good friend came over, bearing gifts, good conversation, and lots of hugs.  The turkey is in the oven, the beef stew is in the crock pot. All the side dishes are ready to be finished later.

I’ve been enjoying some coffee and a good book while my husband is watching yet another guy-fix-up-and-sell car show marathon.

Our son has been working on his computer, doing something for a client.

The Christmas lights are lit, the house is warm and cozy. The cooking smells are starting to make me hungry. :0)

Merry Christmas Eve!


Filed under Family, Friendship, Good Thoughts, holidays

Santa is Coming!

I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas Eve.

We’re going to have our special dinner this evening – very quiet – just the three of us.

I put another beef stew in the crock pot this morning, since our son likes to grab a bowl here and there during the days and evenings. I’ll put the turkey in soon and do some deviled eggs- a favorite of all of us. I’ll do the rest of the fixings later.

We did errands and went to the post office to mail books we sold.  Now we can enjoy being in a warm, dry house, good food cooking, and a good friend coming over this afternoon to spend some time with us. :0)

I’m soaking up every minute with our son. When he goes, we have no clue when he’ll be coming back, though we can talk to him via our chat program and a conference call app. We are so happy that he is living his dream – living where he wants to, as he wants to. You can’t ask for more as parents. But until he goes, I’m collecting every hug I can get, spending lots of time talking and laughing with him, building up beautiful memories of the very best Christmas we’ve had in a long, long time.  At some point, I’ll have to insist we get some pics…

Merry Christmas!

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Filed under Family, Friendship, holidays

Families During the Holidays

Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Science Photo Library via Jeff Jett – LinkedIn


Jeff Jett – LinkedIn

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Awe-Inspiring Photography, Family, Jeff Jett Photography

Progress Report – Trying to Get the Lard Off

I’m still at 31 pounds off and 31 inches off.

Really slow progress, but during the holidays, I think holding our own is pretty good, considering all the social eating we’re doing.

The thing that is different is my exercising.

I’m trying to change my activity each day, hoping to get my body’s attention. I’m doing –

  • Yoga and abdominal exercises one day
  • 35 minutes on the elliptical trainer another
  • Wii Fit Plus exercises one day each week
  • My walking video one day
  • then start again from the top

I’ve said some disparaging things about my walking video, but I have to tell you that, though I find her annoying, I DO feel I’ve had a workout at the end of the 2-mile marker. My goal is to do that, plus the exercises she has AFTER the two miles one day soon.

We’ve been having a lot of friends over lately, for the holidays – but also the fact our son is home from Thailand for the first time in 3 years and we want them to reconnect. We’re having a blast doing that, but it all involves eating something. At this time of the year, serving Nutrisystem diet food or even snacks is definitely a no-no, so we’ve been eating outside our normal parameters many days during the week and will continue this until after our son leaves. If we can just MAINTAIN, rather than GAIN during this time, I’ll be really happy.

I hope that you are having great times with friends and family, too. This is usually a bittersweet time of the year for us, having very few family members left and the ones we have far away. Our son has brought us joy this year and we’re enjoying every minute.

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Filed under DIET!, exercise, Family, Friendship, getting the lard off

Full Heart

The Girls With Glasses

I was up, unable to sleep, thinking sad thoughts this morning. There is something about not being able to sleep, up by yourself in the middle of the night that seems to encourage destructive thoughts. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen to me often.

I updated our son on a family situation. He encouraged me to tell him how I felt and we ended up having quite a discussion on life, priorities, the flow of life, and death. We talked a long time, sometimes talking through tears. In my world the parent is supposed to be the wiser one, helping their child see the larger picture. Today it was just the opposite. Our son is really serious about meditation, and will go to a retreat early next year to spend two months practicing in a monastery. He has gained so many insights already, just practicing on his own, that it boggles my mind.

The end result of our talk was that I’m able to see my sad thoughts of this morning in a different, more comforting, calm way.

I can’t tell you how full-to-overflowing my heart feels about how lucky we are to be close to our son. I’ll never be able to tell or show HIM enough, either.

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Filed under Family, Good Thoughts



We’ve been having a truly wonderful time lately, entertaining friends who we either haven’t seen in a long time or friends who want to come and say, “Hi” to our son while he’s home from Thailand.

Our home is so full of love its bursting at the seams and I couldn’t love it more.

We’re exchanging Christmas presents, in some cases – in others, just enjoying some coffee or a bit of food. In all cases, we’re enjoying hugs, laughs, and good conversation.

SUCH a special time for us. Can you see me grinning?

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Filed under Family, Friendship, holidays

Santa is Coming to Town!

We put up this mailbox decorations this morning.

As far as we’re concerned, Santa came to our home December 10th, when we picked up our son at the airport to stay with us for three weeks.  We really don’t need anything more – just seeing our good friends. We are super lucky this year, having our son for his birthday AND Christmas before he leaves.  Right now he’s in the dining area, working on his computer. Just knowing I can get up and get a wonderful hug makes me smile.


I hope Santa is good to YOU this year, too.

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Filed under Family, holidays, Lewis Art, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, metal art

“Make the Ordinary Come Alive”

Waldorf Today via Desiree Angelique Hackett

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Filed under empowerment, Encouragement, Family


The Happyologist

I’ve been smiling all over since Monday afternoon when we picked up our son at the airport. He’s been gone for over three years, living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Most of the time we can ‘forget’ that he’s half a world away. He’s made sure to tell us that if we need him, he’ll be here. We communicate on an almost daily basis via a secure chat program he set up plus a conference call program where we can see his face and talk to him real time. We’re closer than a lot of people are who live in the same city. Every once in a while, though, my hugs bucket gets really low and I miss him so much I hurt.

He’s home with us now. For his birthday, which we celebrated yesterday, and for Christmas, and a bit after that. Just knowing that he’s on his computer in the dining area right now and that I can go in and hug his neck makes me smile. And then he’ll show up in the office, pull me up, and hug me.

I can’t say enough about his hugs. They’re so good they make me tear up.  And he’s super generous with them.


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Filed under Family, giving

Birthday Celebration

Betty Crocker

Our son is home for his birthday for the first time in what seems like forever. We took him out to lunch at one of our favorite places in Greenwood, Arkansas now, The Dari, using one of my Christmas presents from Lynn, my massage therapist, a gift card. We enjoyed good food and good conversation – a quiet celebration of a happy family.

I am in awe of the man our son is. He is seriously into meditation and it is really helping him calm his mind and rethink how he is reacting to the world around him. I don’t know where he got it, but he is so kind and generous! When I’m teed off with someone, he remarks that it’s sad that person is suffering and scared. He makes ME rethink. I learn so much from him.

We’re using every opportunity to really talk during his visit, and I love it.  I’m also using every opportunity to get another of his fabulous hugs. He even volunteers more of them, and it makes me tear up just thinking about it.

Parenting is such a difficult thing. Each of us does the best we can at the time and hope that it’s the right thing to do. Even if everyone around you thinks you’re doing it right  (a very rare thing) it can blow up in your face. You can only try to help or keep your child from going down the wrong path.

We are supremely lucky that with all the mistakes we probably made, our son is such a good person it amazes us. He actually enjoys being with us, is patient with our foibles, and shows in so many ways he loves us. Life just doesn’t get better than this.

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Filed under Family

Things are Getting Fixed!

Things have been shaping up around here since our son came home. My husband can fix almost anything, but sometimes things are so frustrating they just get put aside. Our son has been tackling one gadget after another, getting them to work!

  • First of all, he fixed my pedometer so it is much more accurate. My husband had measured my ‘stride’ as 22 inches long. It seems to be that since my stride isn’t really that long, it doesn’t count ANY of my steps that are less than that. So I was walking around all day doing my normal stuff, and since I rarely took a stride that long, a LOT of my steps didn’t count.
  • He is in the last stages of getting the Internet to work in our shop again. This wireless system has really been complicated, but he seems to have worked his will on it.
  • He got our car dash cam to quit turning itself off and on randomly and to work the way we intended for it to again.
  • He got my computer and Microsoft on speaking terms again so we were able to finally add several Windows 10 updates that had been waiting. (This was done out of intense love for his mama, since he HATES Microsoft, Windows 10, and PCs.)

While he’s been working his magic, we took our smaller Dyson vacuum cleaner to be repaired this morning. It had power, but we couldn’t get the rotor to work in the head so that it would actually vacuum. My husband had it apart twice, The first time we cleaned it thoroughly – something I should have been better about. The second time he was suspicious that the switch you push to turn on the rotor wasn’t getting power. He checked that out and couldn’t find any problems. Hence the search for someone who could repair a Dyson.

We found a guy, but he was in Barling – about an hour away from us. I put the address into our GPS and it took us on a new road we’ve never traveled before, cutting the trip by about 2/3 and taking us right to the place. The man took the vacuum into the back and then brought it back 30 seconds later, saying, “It’s fixed.” It turns out that there is a RESET switch on one end of the head that we had inadvertently hit at some time or other and it was in the ‘on strike’ mode or something. He wouldn’t take any money for looking at it and we’re fixed. If you live in west-central Arkansas, the company is Fort Smith Vacuum, 1108 Fort Street, Barling AR  479-452-3770. Closed Mondays. $30 bench fee if you have to leave it with him to be fixed. This is a first class company and I highly recommend him.

My husband was also teed off that he would put his phone in the wireless mode and it would switch back on its own after several seconds. We took it to AT&T. A guy named Adan pushed a million buttons on the phone, and then turned it off and turned it on again (rebooting it.) Problem solved. I wish I could do that with my BRAIN….

Our home phone has been causing us problems. For several reasons we can’t just get rid of what essentially is a land line, but on a cellphone base. My husband wrote a program that screened our calls, virtually eliminating all robocalls, crank calls, and wrong numbers. It would answer the phone without our hearing any ringing. If the person was on the accepted list, the call came right through. If it was someone not on the list, a voice would tell them, “If you are a real person and aren’t selling anything, press 1”  THEN we would hear the phone ring and answer it. The trouble was, it was very temperamental and would treat people that we WANTED to hear from badly.  Or someone would press one and then it said, “Goodbye” and hung up on them. We disconnected the system and soon started getting SEVERAL calls each day with no one on the other end, robocalls, etc. Our son has helped us find a new system that will replace our existing phones in the office, plus add a phone in the kitchen and one in our bedroom – all for a one-time charge. My husband is checking out reviews now before we jump on it.

We are feeling huge tension loads lifted as my husband, my son, both working together, or other experts are solving problems that have been plaguing us for quite a while now. HOORAY!



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Filed under Challenges, Changes, Family, Great Companies Who Deserve Your Business


Can you see me grinning? Can you feel the happiness spilling out of me all over the floor?

Our son came home from Thailand yesterday for the first time in over 3 years. After he had a chance to catch up a bit on sleep, we shared beef stew, pets, and good conversation until about 11:30 last night.

There are no words for how full I’m feeling. I have everything right in my home. Right now.

Our elderly cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross, Molly, not only remembered him, crying with excitement and joy, she insisted on spending much of the evening in his lap, only moving to push her face closer to him. We were all touched by how happy she was to welcome him home again. Amber was her usual boisterous self, blissfully unaware of how huge she is and how much destruction she can cause in a short amount of time. She, too, calmed down, though, after a while, and was content to come over and demand he love her every once in a while.

It doesn’t matter what we do while he’s here. I’m going to try to get some pictures, and I’m trying NOT to smother him, though he’s telling me I’m ‘worrying too much’ about whether he’s comfortable or not, has everything he needs, can find things, remembers about our weird hot water system, etc. There is no way a mother quits worrying until she is gone.

I’ll collect as many hugs as he’ll allow while he’s here and just enjoy the time spent with him, whatever we’re doing. I love to talk with him. Last night we started talking about meditation. He is really into the practice and it’s helping him calm his mind and deal with whatever happens. I’m really happy he has found something that is so rewarding.

He just came into the office after eating his breakfast and before going up to shower. He loved Amber until she calmed down and then came over and gave me the best hug in the world. Now I’m adding tears to the joy.

So, you’ll probably get sick of happiness exuding all over the place from me over the next three weeks. I have to tell you I can’t help it and I’ll be happy enough for you and me BOTH!


Filed under Family, Favorite People, holidays

And He’s Home!


My face is split ear to ear with a huge, goofy grin.

Our son is HOME.

I’ve received three good hugs so far – one at the airport and two when we got home.

He took the ‘short’ flight from Chiang Mai here – 28 hours all told – (8 hours waiting between flights). He flew from Chiang Mai to Incheon, South Korea, waited 4 hours and then flew from Incheon to the DFW airport. Waited another 4 hours and then flew from Dallas to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

He said the OTHER option was one which would take 58 hours.

He was in shorts, sandals, a tee shirt and a hoodie. He said when he left Chiang Mai, it was in the high 80s – night time, and he was sweating the minute he left the house. He never has to wear a hoodie, much less long pants, heavier shirt, full shoes and socks, and maybe even a coat, hat and gloves…. It woke him up to have to walk with us to the car in short-term parking.

We tried to prepare him for Amber, our 94 pound yellow lab PUPPY, but the reality of Amber is a ‘whole-nuther-thing.’ She finally calmed down enough for me to get her to go to her place and THEN Brian could get to know her a bit. Molly remembered him, even though it has been years since he ‘disappeared.’ I thought she would wag her little stubby tail off. She cried, trying to get closer and closer to him. (I know how she feels.)

I’m smiling all over knowing that he’s upstairs sleeping now.  We’ll plan to eat some beef stew together tonight, talk a bit, relax, and then regroup for tomorrow. We need to get supplies for the smoothies he wants to make and other food, plus get his driver’s license renewed before it expires on his birthday. (He needs one when he’s here, but not in Chiang Mai.)

We’ll play the next three weeks by ear, open to whatever he would like to do. I’m hoping we can talk a lot.  And I’ll sneak in as many hugs as he’ll allow…


Filed under Cause for Celebration, Family

Beyond Happy

The APP Ecosystem

Our son is coming home today for a visit!  He’s been in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this time, for over three years.

Thankfully, he’s a really good communicator, so most of the time we can ignore the fact that he’s across the world from us. We have a secure chat program he set up so we can either message each other or ‘talk’ real time. (He let me know he’s at the DFW airport now waiting for his flight that will bring him here.)

His flight has been really awful – not a lot of plane changes but the whole flight from his place to our airport will have taken 28 hours!  Needless to say, he wants to come straight home and hit the bed for several hours before sharing some beef stew with us tonight.  Just knowing he’s up in what is now the guest room will have me smiling all day long. :0)

He will stay about three weeks – celebrating his birthday AND Christmas with us!


Filed under anticipation, Cause for Celebration, Family

More Like Christmas…

I’m waiting until our son is home on MONDAY (whoopeeeee!) to get the big Tupperware tub of Christmas decorations out –  plus our tree – but I’m starting to do a bit here and there.

This is the dining area. I have a Christmas wreath with lights, lights wrapped around the rail across the top of the window to the right of this picture,  and a few decorations on the divider that goes between the dining area and the kitchen.


This is a present from a dear friend. It’s a combination light that looks mosaic and changes colors as you watch and a diffuser with a nice scent.


This is ceramic. The couple who made it personalized the heart for me. I’ve had this for years and I love it.


This one is made of wood and was also personalized for me by its creators.


Every year I like to showcase the Christmas cards we receive from friends and family. I hang each one on the vertical uprights on our stair railing with yarn. I also add ornaments or other decoration. This year I’m using wooden ‘gingerbread’ ornaments. I bought these from a company last year, stained and then painted them to make them look like gingerbread cookies.






The Christmas cards will make the decoration fuller and fuller as the season progresses. I’ll also add garlands of sparkly stuff!


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Filed under Family, Friendship, holidays

This Scrooge is Thawing

This photo of our son, Brian, and me was taken at Christmas in 2007. It’s still one of my all-time favorite photos.

I’ve been a Scrooge, basically, since then because my heart wasn’t really in it. Our son decided several years ago that in order to really learn Mandarin, he needed to live where it was spoken. He packed up and went to China, attending an American language school there, leaving just before they had a terrible earthquake. He came home, but then went back, this time living in Shanghai.

Then he decided that he wanted to live somewhere more quiet, so he went to Chiang Mai, Thailand. He has made it a point not only to continue learning Mandarin, but also to learn Thai. He participates on a regular basis on an app where people can call in for translations between Mandarin and English and Thai. This allows him to get more and more fluent as he tries to help others.

A friend and his wife joined him in Chiang Mai several years ago. They work together doing computer stuff for various clients in the U.S. Before he left the last time, he set up a secure chat program so that we could leave messages or type at each other real-time. We do that on almost a daily basis. He also set up a program called ‘’ which he and his friend use in conference calls. We can see each other real-time and talk, like Skype or other similar programs, but MUCH better quality.

It’s been three years since he’s been home. We communicate more than a lot of families who live in the same city, so he hasn’t really seemed a world away, though he gives wonderful hugs, and my ‘hugs bucket’ has been empty for a long time now.

Recently he talked about MAYBE coming home for a visit. I put it out of my mind because a lot can happen in a short space of time, making it impossible – although intentions are the best.

He is actually coming home! We will pick him up at the airport on the 10th of this month!!!! He can stay until January 2nd, when he will fly to see other relatives and good friends before returning to Chiang Mai.

I am definitely feeling the Scrooge in me thawing this year. This morning I got out the two Christmas wreaths I kept after my purge of ‘stuff’ in our home and put them up. I then got out one bag of decorations that I’ve put up in the past, when I wanted to look at least a little bit festive. These are up in the dining area now. (I’ll take some pictures to share a bit later today.)

My husband and I decided that this year we would decorate a Christmas tree and get out all the decorations we haven’t used in years. This means we will need to move furniture in the living room to accommodate the tree – plus haul the huge Tupperware bin of decorations and the tree up from the basement – something we haven’t done in a long time. I’ve decided to wait until our son is home to do the tree, so we can do it together as a family.

As the fact that he has his tickets, and we have a flight arrival time now (the trip from Chiang Mai to here will take a total of 28 hours with layovers, etc) the fact that he’s REALLY coming home is starting to sink in. My heart feels full, plus lighter and lighter. I keep finding myself smiling.

The very best Christmas present we could have – except for when I gave birth to him 40 years ago on Dec. 13th…


Filed under Attitude, Cause for Celebration, Delightful Surprises, Family, holidays

Guard Dog?

We are lucky to have brought Amber into our family. We need to keep reminding ourselves of that, though, as she is more than a double-handful.

My husband asked yesterday, “When will she be two?” This is in response to the people who have rightly advised us that a lab is a puppy until she’s two. That’s at LEAST two, I think, because she is showing no signs of maturing. She will be two officially March 7th. I’ve warned my husband that there is no hard and fast rule that says that by – or before – the second birthday maturity and calmness descends over the family like a glorious veil.

Her latest antic answered another comment by my husband – “I wish she would bark at strangers. She sucks as a guard dog.”

This morning he went out to add birdseed to the feeders plus the squirrel bottle feeder that is attached to the outside of the dining area window.

All of a sudden Amber saw him, but apparently didn’t recognize him as a member of our family. She instantly was up, paws on the windowsill, barking, hair standing on end over her neck and over her butt, knocking one of my plants off the windowsill. She didn’t hear me yelling at her to stop. I had to physically pull her away from the window, shove her through the doggie gate and close it firmly. She was still growling.

Thankfully, my plant and holder ‘fell’ into the lettuce plants on the card table beside the window, rather than crashing to the floor. I was able to carefully pull it back up and put it on the windowsill again without dumping or hurting the succulent I’ve had for years. The orchid took a dive, but I retrieved it, put an ice cube in it, and placed it back on the sill. I checked to make sure all the other plants were okay and then swept the floor beside the windowsill and under the card table.

My husband came back in, oblivious to the whole thing. When I told him what happened, he looked pleased that Amber had reacted that way to a ‘stranger’ so close to our window. (Usually, she wants to get into the truck with the UPS guy, Fedex lady, or any other delivery people or workmen. At the post office, she wags her tail off at anyone who talks to her.)

I GUESS I’m happy that if we had an intruder, Amber would cause a ruckus and bark loudly, but right now, I’m still shaken over being in the middle of it.

Living for March in hope…..

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family


Julie Meadows via Jackie Lyons

This sculpture hit me right between the eyes.

We lost our daughter, Jade, just after she turned two months old and had her checkup at the pediatrician’s office. She died of SIDS. (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I thought we would die, too. My husband and I both seriously considered ending it, our pain was so great. The only thing that kept us going was our son, Brian, who was two years old and desperately needed us. The hole in your gut never leaves. The hurt in your heart never leaves. I’m tearing up even as I try to type this, and we lost Jade almost 38 years ago. This sculpture was created by someone who has been there and truly understands. My heart goes out to the artist.


Filed under Family, sculpture

Fishing for a Compliment…

Our fish aren’t very good conversationalists. They don’t want or give affection, give compliments or give out rebukes. I feel good, though, that their aquarium is now bright, shining clean. I changed out the decorations in the tank, too, so they have a change of scene, as well as new filters, plus clean and treated water.

About the only thing they DO is bunch up in the corner when they want to be fed, wriggling their tiny bodies and making a big deal of seeing my face, even before I give them anything to eat. THAT makes all the upkeep worth it. :0)

I’m feeling lazy today since I spent most of the day outside yesterday cleaning out and pruning the plants in our planters. I finished all in the front yard – we have 11 in all (eight 8 foot brick planters and 3 of assorted sizes), plus the planters on the deck yesterday. I’m a bit long in the tooth for that much work, but we had an 80% chance of rain today (and the forecasters were correct), and my body is in protest mode today.

Now that the project for the day is finished, I’m going to go do some yoga to see if I can get stretched out again.

Otherwise, friends (Lunch Bunch) followed by food and football!

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Filed under exercise, Family, Lewis projects


Waldorf Today via Desiree Angelique Hackett

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Filed under Encouragement, Family

Musical Beds?

We have five dog beds in the house: two small beds for Molly (our cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross) or the cats to use, a larger one for Amber (a 93 pound lab puppy) to use, and two really large beds (one in the living room and the other in the utility room) for several animals to use at once or Amber to spread out on.

As you can see from the picture above, the animals have a whole different take on the subject. Amber loves to curl up in one of the small beds.


Here is Molly on the larger bed in the office.

And here she is all by herself on the corner of this large bed in the living room.

One cat will spread out in the middle of this bed and dare all comers to encroach on her territory (though neither of them will allow us to even TRY to get a pic).

The best laid plans….

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family