Husband Appreciation Day

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am die hard fan of the TV show This Is Us.  During this season on the show, (spoiler alert) one of the main couples have been having some tough marital problems.  It’s been especially upsetting as they seemed to be so strong, so in love with each other.  I was sadly beginning to wonder if this would be the end of their relationship. On the season finale a few weeks ago, there is a scene where the couple’s oldest daughter tells her dad that when it comes to wives he won the lottery so whatever has come between them needs to be fixed.  He took her advice, and luckily, I didn’t have to wait until the fall to learn that they do stay together, though I’m sure the writers will have other tear jerking plot lines ready for the new season.

Fortunately, my life has much less drama than this TV show, but those words were ones I could really relate to.  When it comes to husbands, I won the lottery too. I won’t go into details here, but my childhood was pretty rough and I went through some bad romantic relationships when I was a young adult.  However when I was 24, I was so incredibly blessed to meet my life prize, the man that I would later marry.

My favorite picture of my husband, taken the day my son was born.

I’ve told him that if I saw our personality characteristics on paper or a dating website, I would never think of us as a good match.  He was much more athletic and physical (at least before his health issues caught up to him) than I ever thought about being. I was the kid who was the last pick in gym class, not the star of the team.  He’s eight years older than I am and got married for the first time when I was still in elementary school, so we really grew up in different decades. When he gets mad, it comes on quick, burns intensely, and dies out just as fast.  It takes a lot more for me to get angry, but once I get there, I need to simmer for awhile. He pays a lot of attention to details and I am a big picture person, but in spite of all this, we work incredibly well as a couple.

Bryan and I talk about what we think makes our marriage so good and one thing we always come back to is that each of us feels lucky to have the other.  We treasure one another and treat each other accordingly. After being together for almost 27 years, we both love spending time together. We make each other laugh, usually at the goofiest things, and I know when I’m with him I can completely be myself, flaws and all, and still be totally loved and accepted.  He knows the same.

Saturday is Husband Appreciation Day.  There are not enough words to express to him how thankful I am to have him as my partner in life.  It’s even better than winning the lottery.


Happy Easter!

This is the last big week this year for bunnies so I am just hopping by to celebrate and share some of my favorites before they’re gone! First up, the rest of the cards I made this year…

clip art of water color rabbits from: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SmallHouseBigPony
digital papers from: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AlyanaGrafica

I am sure going to miss seeing all these lovelies in my Instagram feed…

This is my favorite!! I love the little guy in the bottom right corner!

Happy Easter!!


National Pet Day

Happy National Pet Day!!  This is a day established in 2005 to encourage people to adopt animals from shelters.  I want to note that there also special days throughout the year celebrating individual types of pets too, including cats (in October), dogs and guinea pigs (both in August), and birds (in May).  But in the US we spent over 70 billion dollars on our pets last year, so I’m betting that we can’t celebrate our fur babies (or feathered/scaled babies) too much.

The specific message today is such a good one.  There are so many lost animals that are just looking for a forever family.  We adopted our kitties from a local rescue group and they had been through so much before they ever reached our home.  They were pretty scrawny, in spite of the care of their wonderful foster mother (she only had them for a few days). Both have now put on weight and have soft, beautiful coats.  Our little Mia spent the first few days hiding under our couch and while she and Max are still pretty skittish when it comes to change, they have fallen into routines that includes lots of petting and cuddling.  In the few short months we’ve had them they have already added so much happiness and laughter to our home

I like to think that pets are the gifts we give ourselves.  WebMD cites how beneficial pets are to our health and that studies show they play key roles in easing stress and depression as well as improving fitness and blood pressure.  They accept us in spite of our faults and will generally listen without judgment no matter how many times we’ve told the story.

So for National Pet Day, if you have the ability and inclination, I hope you will consider adding the joy of a shelter pet to your heart and home.


National Sibling Day

Today I am celebrating National Sibling Day by indulging in a little nostalgia.  My brother and I are only two and a half years apart so we had many shared experiences to look back on.  He’s not my only sibling, but the age difference between my sister and I is so great that we really didn’t share many “childhood” memories.

My brother and I with my grandmother in the early 1970s

My brother and I were latchkey kids so we spent almost everyday after school watching TV.  I think there was a time when I could recite each line of dialogue from every episode of The Brady Bunch.  It was the same thing on Saturday mornings, a time when cartoons ruled on regular network TV. We rode our big wheels and then our bikes totally untethered and somehow managed to make it home unscathed.  We walked to school together in some pretty frigid temperatures (we lived in a Chicago suburb at that time) and he was such a good sport about going back home to retrieve our often forgotten lunch money (thanks Joe!!).

Photo by john paul tyrone fernandez on Pexels.com

On July 4, 1976, we told our mom we were going to watch the bicentennial parade from the end of the street.  Yeah, that didn’t last long as we were lured several more blocks, wanting to catch a better look. We watched Star Wars and later The Breakfast Club in theaters as that was really the only option if we wanted to see a movie.  We also have the same memories of growing up in a house (several of them, actually) before there was a microwave or color TV.

Me? I was promising I would never trick him into eating soap…

My brother was particularly easygoing which was not always a trait that worked in his favor (see above- who always went back for the lunch money?).  Once, we were being watched by a neighborhood babysitter along with a couple of friends. She had some candy and my friend (another oldest sister) and I convinced her to let us have it, even though there wasn’t enough for everyone.  Of course, our brothers showed up in the room before we could finish it. My brother asked us what we were eating and I answered the first thing I thought of- soap. He was game, so much so that he actually put some soap in his mouth before I confessed that I was actually eating the last of a giant sweet tart.  Hmmm, I wonder if that’s why he pulled the head off my favorite Barbie doll and lost it?

Happy Sibling Day to all- especially to my siblings who had to deal a bossy older sister who wasn’t always nice about being the built in babysitter.  You guys are great!!


Hopping Down the Bunny Trail….

When I set out to make some Easter cards this year, I knew I wanted them to feature bunnies.  I think I’m pretty much an equal opportunity animal lover when it comes it crafting, but bunnies are just a notch higher on the cuteness meter.  They look so soft and cuddly and then there’s the ears and the hopping- just so adorable. I stayed in a very chi-chi hotel for work a few years ago and the place was stunning with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and amenities that exceeded anything I ever could have afforded on my own.  However, my favorite part of the whole fancy place was the little brown bunnies hopping around the yard. I could’ve watched them all day long.

Once February 15th arrives, it’s easy to find rabbits in every incarnation imaginable- edible, inflated, illuminated- everything goes cottontail and with them comes the promise that warmer and longer days are coming soon.  Yay! Another reason to celebrate bunnies! Yet, once their season of glory passes, they are relegated to the clearance bin even more quickly than last year’s jack o’ lanterns.

I adore the little critters, but have always categorized them a spring animal.  For example, I can’t imagine featuring a card with a bunny scampering through the autumn leaves or sticking his head out of a pumpkin or stocking- it just doesn’t work.  I thought I better get all my rabbit crafts done now before it gets hot and their moment passes. However, once I put these watercolor gingham cards together, I loved them so much I just had to find a way to enjoy them year round.   This prompted me to plan a set of small framed prints using the same clip art and paper for my office at work. Something so precious should be enjoyed more than just once a year.

Digital paper sourced from: http://www.etsy.com/shop/AlyanaGrafica

Rabbit Clip art sourced from: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SmallHouseBigPony


The Sweet Joy of Pets…

We had a very special visitor at one of our church events recently- Joy, the comfort dog.  She is a specially trained golden retriever who is part of a local ministry sponsored by Lutheran Church Charities and it was such a treat to meet her.

I was amazed at how well trained she was.  She had kids, including really little ones, groping all over her and she was so chill. We had ice cream at the end of class and Joy didn’t react at all (her trainers shared that she never gets treats; only gets her dog food). My angel dog, Shelby, would have been in a frenzy trying to get a “taste” of everyone’s dish.

I know spending the evening with her had a great effect on my mood and maybe this is why I like to feature dogs on my cards. They just make people smile and feel good. I’m following Joy now on Facebook, getting to see how much love she shares with the community by visiting hospitals and airports, and I am enjoying all the positivity she adds to my feed.

Of course, cats shouldn’t be forgotten as they also bring a lot of joy.  After we lost our dog, Shelby, last year we had planned on an extended period with no pets.  But our house just felt empty and lifeless. We welcomed Max and Mia the day after Christmas- kittens we adopted from a local rescue group and they have certainly added a lot of happiness to our lives.  We definitely have to count our family as Team Dog and Team Cat and I love to feature both in my projects.

Mia and Max in their “glamour shots” from the rescue’s website
Shelby…sweet angel dog we loved for twelve years

April 2- International Children’s Book Day

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s International Children’s Book Day- a holiday I never knew existed, but think is worth celebrating.  I was a voracious reader as a kid and it is still my favorite hobby. I never go anywhere now without at least two books in my kindle app in my phone, just in case.  Even though my college degrees are in lab science and business, my favorite college memory is from a children’s literature course I took over thirty years ago. I had to give a 20 minute oral presentation on E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and still consider it one of the best projects I have ever put together, in or out of the classroom.

I have several favorite picture books, classics that I read over and over to my son when he was little.  I like the sassy beat of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, the sweet assurances of of the bunny family in Guess How Much I Love You, and am still fascinated by the creepily drawn monsters in Where The Wild Things Are.  I still have my son’s well read copy, even though he is now in his 20s.  It made such an impression on me that I named my cat Max after the main character, inspired by the line “…the night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief…” as this kitty sure likes to get into trouble.

My all time favorite childhood chapter book was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  I think I always wanted to be like the main character, Francie Nolan.  She was poor and struggled with family upheaval, but she trusted that her determination and love for reading would be able to lift her out of the situation she was born into.  It gave me something to hope for.

I also loved the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, especially the versions beautifully illustrated by Garth Williams, who also did the artwork for Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.  I have a special fondness for the stories where Laura and Almanzo met and fell in love.  As a nine year old, I found it incredibly romantic.

I recently started listening to author Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier and was surprised to learn that she was in several book clubs that read children’s literature.  What? Adults can read children’s books for their own enjoyment? This “permission” has reignited a desire to revisit some old favorites and see them through an older, and hopefully wiser, lens. Today would be an excellent time to start.