Do You Believe?

     What do you believe?

    I believe in spirits, angels, joyful energy, and messages from beyond. Do you think I’m crazy?? Probably….but I don’t care!!
     After losing my sweetie-pie in 1996, I felt lost….many down days, but holding it together with teaching and my boys.  But I did find “messages”—-
     As we drove from the cemetery, F2′s favorite song played on the radio and has continued to play whenever we needed it: a very sad day, when the 3 of us were together in the car, dropping a son off at college – constantly improving our mood, making us feel like Dad was still with us. The songs still produce joy and contentment in me.
     From here:

rehearsal dinner in 1968

     To here:


     And beyond!!!

     The messages have become stronger. Flickering lights – the one lamp by the couch where I sit continued to sporadically flicker. It drove me nuts!! I tightened the bulb..didn’t work, changed the bulb..didn’t work, changed the lamp ..didn’t work. When someone (a medium, psychic, whatever…so, sue me!) told me that F2 was sending me a message, I was happy!!  So…went home, light flickered, I said “Hey!”, light no longer flickered! He just wanted to be noticed!  Now the dining room chandelier flickers occasionally as we walk through….LOVE IT!!
     Not enough for  you? How about this? Remember those Gold Coins of Respect 
reverse side

I made about 500 of them for school, cut each one out individually, wrote on both sides, then took them to the Intermediate School District to laminate them. I put them into the laminator about 7 to a row and about 12 feet in length. When I got home and began cutting them apart again, I discovered this right smack dab in the middle of the project:

Yup, it’s an actual, real 4-leaf clover…how did it get there???
     Just recently, 2 days before my birthday, I was shoveling my sidewalk (which everyone knows I never do!) because guests were coming. This is the strange shadow I found underneath the snow:

….and closer:

sigh…happy birthday to me :)

It was a part of a wind chime that had been hanging on the porch for over 10 years. It fell off in a light breeze and did not land in the snow-covered bushes, but right where I would find it…LOVE IT!!

Love it!!

     My heart, my soul, my spirit fills with love with every message – how could it not be true :)

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Happiness Tuesdays #8

Happiness Counts!!!
I am beginning Happiness Tuesdays to tell you some things that make me happy and to share with you quotes, websites, and photos to make you happy!

Happiness Tuesdays #8
Here are three things that make me happy:



3) Books that bring joy!

Happiness is there for the taking…..Choose happy :)

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Reviving Table Manners

How important are table manners?

messy at this age is cute, right?

Well, unless you want your 12-year old or 17-year old to look like this…I guess manners are pretty important!! Start early at the dinner table at home…teaching manners normally, encouraging what you want to see and discouraging what won’t be helpful in the future.

sometimes “extras” arrive at the table

Kids need to learn how to use utensils properly, even if it’s easier on you to let them do it their way. That interaction of passing food and using please and thank you all of the time is an important part of encouraging manners.

practicing out with others

Each time you go out to dinner with the kids, practice, practice, practice! Kids should stay at the table the entire time, and because I’m sure you haven’t chosen a fancy restaurant that will take longer than their little ‘patiences’ can handle, they can join the family in talking. Okay, you do have to make sure you bring your goodie bag, filled with age-appropriate distraction: Cheerios or Kix, raisins, coloring books, puzzles. I’m hoping beyond all hope, and probably not very realistically, that all electronics for both parents and kids are turned off and ignored during dinner. This should be a great family time, learning how to have fun and be polite in a restaurant.

indoors and outdoors

Eating with the Torch Lake kids has been a constant event for our boys. All the kids learned manners appropriate for the occasion, inside manners, outside picnic…older ones were always encouraged to be good role models for the younger ones. Did it always work that way?? Of course not, but that was what we were trying for!

There is always a time for fun :)
the group

Whether at a Christmas dinner or on a trail ride on vacation, we hoped the boys would remember their manners. Being polite to those who serve you is necessary. Can your kids order their meal themselves (after you have given them their choices)? If they learn to speak up and politely answer the server’s questions, they will be far ahead of the majority of young ones. Do they say, “Thank you” when their order is placed in front of them? Do you? Remember that you are always the role model, one way or the other.

in Gulf Shores with the group

Our Torch Lake Group has taken many vacations together which involves many meals eaten out. As the kids grew older they were able to be at their own kids’ table as long as they were careful with their manners. They loved that idea so much that they usually controlled themselves…notice the usually?? They were our kids, and we have been known to be less than proper at dinner from so much laughing, so we could never be too upset with them. They were definitely chips off the old blocks!! But we were not ever rude to other customers or the staff and neither were the kids. Goofy is good, mean is not!

Kids’ table this year

We continue to enjoy each other’s company every year. The kids are grown, but they still love having their kids’ table.


……and here’s to teaching and learning great manners!!

here’s to us :)

Manners inside the home translate to manners outside the home, and good manners leave wonderful impressions with those we know and those we don’t know. Encourage the best in your children!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C 








Little Things

A most important quote:

     “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
                                                Robert Brault
Here I share with you some of the ‘little things’ that are now definitely the biggest things of all….

adorable Chad and Scott :)

Daddy reading to the boys

buddies playing in the sandbox at Torch Lake

family on vacation

it’s those darlin’ torch Lake kids!!!

     All those little things you do with those little people are worth the world…don’t waste a moment!! Enjoy and have fun :)

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Happiness Tuesdays #7

Happiness Counts!!!
I am beginning Happiness Tuesdays to tell you some things that make me happy and to share with you quotes, websites, and photos to make you happy!

Happiness Tuesdays #7
Here are three things that make me happy:

1) lovely manners from a child…oh, wait, lovely manners from anyone!!!
2) blue sky…whether it’s cold and snowy in Michigan or warm and steamy in Florida…blue sky thrills me :)
3) the beautifully sweet Jif peanut butter ads — oh, my goodness!! I smile and almost tear up every time that cute little guy walks out to the bus after making his mom a lunch….LOVE IT!!

       “Keep your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows.”
                        Helen Keller

Keep your face to the sunshine…..
Happy Parenting!
D and C

The Cat

     Here is my cuddle-buddy…the cat :)


Does he hide well? He stayed in the fake plants for 5 minutes!!


Is this catnip?

YEESSS, it is!!

    If you want to have a friendly cat who really thinks he’s a dog, get a fraternity cat!!  A what?? Yup, that’s what he is. Scott, son #2, was a junior at MSU when his fraternity went to a ranch to ride horses. In the barn was a litter of kittens, one of which adopted Scott. The owner said to go ahead and take the kitten since many of them just got stomped on by the horses! So the cat got to live in a fraternity house – riding on the guys’ shoulders, visiting every room, taking showers to get the beer off!! What a great way to make a cat super friendly!! During vacations cute cat came home with Scott…and Scott’s mom(me) loved the adorable cat. After 3 trips home, springtime came and kitty decided to venture outside in the middle of the night from the fraternity house…they didn’t have screens on the open windows! Scott got very tired of phone calls late at night saying, “We have your cat.” So I got to keep that cat :)
    I love him. He is my buddy…sits on me constantly, purrs his happy purr, follows me around, and even hangs around outside on a leash during the summer. What a great friend! Thanks for the “loan” of your cat, Scott :)

aww, how sweet is he?

     Pets are awesome, before and after kids!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Teaching Kindness through the Goodness Gorillas

    How important is it for children to learn kindness? Well, I would consider that to be one of the most important things to teach kids. They don’t come with automatic kindness built in, so it’s up to parents and teachers to help them learn how it feels to put someone else first.
    My school has always been concerned with finding ways to help others, both in the school and out. We started children’s book drives in 2000 in which parents and kids brought in new and used children’s books, packed them up in grade level boxes, and delivered them to different schools in Detroit. Over the years we collected over 30,000 books and encouraged other schools in our district to collect another 40,000.
     In the fall of 2001, we decided to hold a Penny Challenge to raise money for the Red Cross. We, as one small elementary school(size about 500 kids), in a middle class suburban area, raised $5000!!!  We have held a Penny Challenge every year since then with the money going to The Salvation Army, Leukemia Society, St. Jude, Leader Dogs for the Blind, and many other organizations. We have raised nearly $30,000 even though our Michigan economy has been in the tank for many of those years. We have a climate of helping others.

this year the penny challenge is going on right now :)

every morning kids count money from each classroom’s jar
      In 2002 we started the Goodness Gorillas, a club composed of every student in the school, dedicated to the idea of helping others in any way possible including just through random acts of kindness. A parent gave me this book and a plate of cupcakes for no reason, and after reading the book we began our Goodness Gorillas, which continues today:
perfect book for encouraging kindness

     Even though the Penny Challenge is usually our biggest and favorite event each year, it is definitely not all that we do. We take part in Toys for Tots, canned food drives, give stuffed animals to hospitals, donate clothing to a domestic abuse shelter, do mitten trees and spaghetti dinners. We bought 500 pounds of beans and had the students divide them into one quart bags to deliver to a neighboring soup kitchen.We often do Jump Rope for Heart and have done a 3 mile walk in the neighborhood to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society for many years. 

    Does it matter what you do??  No, but the kids should know what it’s about and how they are helping others…get them involved in choosing the activity and in working on it.  One year we donated 75 wheelchairs to children in other countries  through the Wheelchair Foundation as a Christmas fundraiser. We received individual packets from the Foundation with pictures of each child in the wheelchair that he received….choked up quite a few people. We have collected diapers for a pregnancy center,  made a Twin Towers of toilet paper to give to a rescue mission, and donated 500 new and used towels to a shelter.
     After Hurricane Katrina, we collected 450 new backpacks and filled them with school supplies and hygiene items. Chad and I filled a trailer and the back of our SUV with the backpacks and 1000 books and drove them to a school in New Orleans. What an amazing opportunity…to see the looks on the faces of those children! We took bunches of pictures that we shared with our school later.
    We have Spirit Weeks if a family of a student or staff member is in special need. The kids bring in money for wearing a hat on Monday, bringing in pop ( a northern term!) on Tuesday, having a snack on Wednesday, wearing shades on Thursday, and having an extra recess on Friday. It is an easy way to collect a bit of money to make someone’s life a little easier.

this is our Goodness Gorilla trophy case

     One school trying to make a difference – CAN!!!  One family trying to make a difference – CAN!!!   One individual trying to make a difference – CAN!!!

See if you can find a way to help your children make a difference; they will become better people because of it :)

Happy Parenting!
D and C


Happiness Tuesdays #6

Happiness Counts!!!
I am beginning Happiness Tuesdays to tell you some things that make me happy and to share with you quotes, websites, and photos to make you happy!

Happiness Tuesday #6
Here are three things that make me happy:

1) finding the absolutely perfect shade of lipstick..and remembering its number!

2) knowing the scent of cologne that I love and knowing my boys will find some more for me if I run out

3) my birthday…with loving family and birthday wishes from many!!

sigh…says it all, doesn’t it??      :)

Happy Parenting!

D and C

Family birthdays

A wonderful birthday dinner last night…loved it :)

     Family birthdays are always fun and exciting…for parents and for children. Kids really don’t need extravagant parties or presents. They just need to know they’re loved. So, handmade decorations and fun little gifts can be more enjoyable than the stress-producing anxiety of a full-blown event that can sometimes be more about the party than about the child.

cake at home, and a Marie cake :)

      Try to come up with your own birthday traditions to continue year after year. Our boys had birthday cakes made by our wonderful Marie, some by Mom, and birthday number cookies…a big hit at our house. When Chad and Scott got older we all decided we loved Sanders Bumpy Cake, so that became our birthday cake of choice. We got to have it 4 times a year…yummy!!

special cakes with special friends

we love our number birthday cookies!

Bumpy cake started young and continues :)
        Do you have as much fun on your birthdays as your kids do on theirs?? You should:)  Mom or Dad can help the kids plan something fun for the other parent. Learning how to plan something special for someone else is a good life lesson for encouraging kindness. Kids love to plan someone else’s party almost as much as having their own. It makes them so proud when Mom, Dad, or sibling lights up at what they’ve prepared for them.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Kids planned and helped cook
the delightful dinner!!

     Have fun, be silly, and take photos! Going back through these pictures is so much fun for me, traveling through memories :)

Happy Parenting!
D and C


   Lots of snow in Michigan…about 10 inches where I am!! Snowy yesterday, cold today…0 degrees this AM, but SUNNY!!  Hurray!! the temp doesn’t really matter to me if we get some of that yummy sunshine :)
    Here are a few photos of the snow looking out my window:

     On my way back home this afternoon into the middle of a subdivision, every house I passed had a beautiful, pristine white front yard. I sure hope they were households like mine with kids all grown and gone. Otherwise where is the evidence of snowy fun, building snowmen and throwing snow??

     Doesn’t it make you want to go mess it up???  Do all of you Southern folk wish you were here…or did you get enough of your own weird weather in the last couple of weeks??
    Have fun with your kids…inside or out!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C