Tag Archives: Family

LAPC #180 Favorite Images of 2021

The theme for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #180 is Favorite Images of 2021

The year 2021 was a roller coaster. There were many excitements because we could resume doing things after being restricted for a year or longer. Those moments seemed serene yet felt like wanting to shout for joy. Those were my favorite images of 2021.

My younger granddaughter was born on March 22, 2020. California reinforced the restriction on March 14. I canceled my flight at the last minute to be with my daughter for her childbirth. By March 2021, the restriction of traveling eased a little. We wanted to be there for Nora’s first birthday. I booked the flight with premium seats so that we didn’t have to pass by many passengers. We were so thrilled to see Nora for the first time.

We spent Mother’s Day with my daughter every year except the year 2020. In 2021, we were with my daughter for Mother’s Day and had a wonderful time having three generations of girls together.

Three generations of ladies

The summer of 2021 was my first-time raising Monarch butterflies and there were some casualties, but 20 butterflies made it to adulthood.

This Monarch struggled to open the wings all the way, but it finally made it to leave the cage.

I booked a trip to Banff, Canada in August for our anniversary, but the border was closed. I canceled the trip, and we went to Santa Barbara instead. It was the first long trip since Covid.

Santa Barbara Harbor

We also wanted to take day trips to the beaches, but many beaches were closed during the pandemic. We eventually made a trip to Laguna Beach in September.

Laguna Beach with high tide

We missed Autumn’s 3rd birthday in 2020 but we were excited to go to Autumn’s 4th birthday party in September last year.

Happy Birthday, Autumn!

Last but not the least, we had a white Christmas with my daughter’s family and had fun watching the grandkids playing in the snow and making a snowperson in the backyard. Autumn helped to put the pebbles on to make the eyes and buttons and put the carrot on for the nose. Nora gave the snowperson a big hug.

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LAPC #180 Favorite Images of 2021

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the images!

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SoCS – Resolve

The prompt from Linda G. Hill for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “resolve.”

70 Truly Good New Year's Resolutions (Top Ideas for 2022)

I don’t sit down to write my New Year’s resolutions. I resolve to do most of the things I had done in 2021 and try to do them better in 2022. In fact, there were too many interruptions in 2021. It wasn’t a good year to accomplish things I wanted to do. I had better years than that of the last year. I expect a better year in 2022.

Let me just say that whatever I do, I keep my basic values in mind which are: family, fitness, fun, friends, and finance. There are many subcategories in the area of fun.

Family

My family always comes first. I have resumed my schedule of visiting my daughter’s family every six weeks.

It’s important for me to be close to my granddaughters. I remember starting a new family with a baby with no relatives to help. It was the most stressful time for me. During one particular year when Mercy was a baby, I started my first-year full-time teaching at the Los Angeles Unified School District and doing full-time (12 units) studies of Child Development at California State University, Los Angeles. Three full-time jobs all at once. I was a rehabilitation counselor prior to that and just switched over to education. I didn’t want to lose my teaching opportunity and didn’t want to wait any longer to finish school. Of course, my baby was most important.

I never want Mercy to have a stressful experience like mine. I always encourage her that if she could afford it, do one thing at a time. The Covid turned out to be a blessing to her in that she didn’t work during her pregnancy. She stayed home to take care of baby Nora for sixteen months. Right now, she is working part-time on the days when Autumn and Nora go to school.

My husband wants to get together with some of his siblings once a month. Most of them live 40 miles from us. They are coming our way to meet this month and we’ll go to them to meet next month. We’re also talking about taking a family vacation to Australia and New Zealand.

Fitness

I see fitness as a way of life. When my dad came to the US to visit us at the age of 84, he got up at 6:00 a.m. The first thing he did was to stretch for half an hour.

I have been going to the gym, swimming, walking in the neighborhood, or on the trail consistently for years and years. My husband and I started working out together two days a week since his retirement in 2016. There were interruptions during the pandemic. But we resumed going back to the gym several months ago.

We do some modifications to the workout. We keep our routine of using the different machines, the number of sets, and the duration of time (such as walking on the treadmill) but reduce the intensity or weight. As we’re getting older, it takes longer to recover from the sore muscles.

Fun

There are many things I do for fun which include reading, writing, blogging, painting, gardening, photographing, singing, learning, and traveling. I always say it would take three parallel lifetimes to fully enjoy my hobbies.

I raised 20 Monarch butterflies in 2021. I’m ready to do it again this summer. The milkweed should grow nicely and hopefully, I’ll have a better way to set up the butterfly cages.

The Chorale group didn’t meet most part of 2021 but resumed meeting to sing with masks on later in the fall. I’ll continue to sing in this group.

I haven’t done watercolor painting for a while. I may pick up the watercolor painting at least for one quarter during 2022.

Hopefully, my husband and I will take one trip this year. We wanted to go to Banff, Canada last August but the border was closed. We may consider going sometime this year.

Friends

Hildegard (middle) and I have been singing Messiah for years. Lynn is a singer.

It’s important for me to keep in touch with my friends.

The pandemic wasn’t too helpful in this area with the social distancing requirement and the gathering restriction. I hope to get together with friends even when we meet outdoors.

Finance

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Financial independence means freedom.

I don’t have the impulse to buy things. I only buy what I need, not just what I want.

My husband and I just went through stacks of old documents when doing decluttering. It reminded me of the number of times I refinanced our current home and the previous two homes. Whenever the interest rate went down, I refinanced the homes. Prior to refinancing, I created a spreadsheet to calculate the total interest paid during the financing periods.

I know it takes money to save money or make money. I count it as a blessing to use my resources to save money and have extra money to put in the stock account to make a little money.

How do I do it? Here is an example: 

Family is the top priority. It’s the motivation behind what I do every day.

I exercise (fitness) regularly, keeping in mind that I need to be strong and healthy in order to be with my granddaughters as often as we want. I can’t be with them if I’m sick.

I follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines carefully to avoid contracting the virus, even when it means reducing the social contact with my friends.

I try to reduce unnecessary expenses (finance) to have more money to travel every six weeks to see my granddaughters.

Wishing you a Wonderful New Year!

SoCS – Resolve

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley! https://www.quaintrevival.com/

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O Holy Night – A Christmas Carol

Christmas Eve - we are closed today — ExplorationWorks

“O Holy Night” (also known as “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol. 

Back in 1843, in a small French town, Roquemaure, a man named Placide Cappeau was known more for his talent at writing poetry. A priest asked him to write a poem for Christmas Mass. He took his request seriously. Placide Cappeau began thinking about the birth of Jesus. With that inspiration, he wrote “Cantique de Noel.”

Placide was so pleased with how the poem came out that he decided it needed to be a song. Since he was a poet but not a musician, he turned to a friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to see if he would set his poem to music. Adolphe was a famous classical musician who had composed many works all around the world, but he agreed to come up with music for his friend’s poem.

In 1843 or 1847, according to two different sources, he composed music to go with the beautiful words, and the song was performed a few weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer, Emily Laurey.

In 1855, an American writer, John Sullivan Dwight, saw something in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name, all oppression shall cease.” This verse mirrored Dwight’s view of slavery in the South. He published his English translation of “O Holy Night” in his magazine, and the song quickly found favor in America, especially in the North, during the Civil War.

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Our church performed the Christmas Concert one year. “O Holy Night” was one of the songs at the concert. I was privileged to sing this piece. As part of the concert, I sang the first verse of the song. A friend sent me the mp3 of the music and I made it into a video.

Notes:

I want to thank Robbie Cheadle, who inspired me to make this video. When I posted the information about my Messiah performance last year, she mentioned she would like to hear me sing.

I also want to thank Diane Wallace Peach, who created the trailer for my poetry book, Song of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude. She inspired me to use PowerPoint to create to presentation and insert the music to create this video.

merry christmas and happy new year 2019 | Seni

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Virtual Cookie Exchange – Hosted by Staci Troilo

Staci Troilo invited us to have a Virtual Cookie Exchange and share our recipes on Thursday, December 16, 2021. My recipe, along with many recipes from the friends in this blogging community will be there. Please be sure to visit her tomorrow when she shares all the goodies with you.

Staci Troilo: First Cookie Exchange

Virtual Cookie (Recipe) Exchange

My husband used to have a sweet tooth. I don’t bake cookies for him anymore because he is watching out for the sugar intake. 

During the last two visits to my daughter’s family, I made cookies for the grandkids. I made chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms on top. Autumn doesn’t have those cookies regularly. She doesn’t do many things regularly such as watching two movies in a row, only when grandma is there (I tried so hard not to be a grandma who spoils the grandkids)!

Hubby and I will be visiting the grandkids for Christmas. I wanted to make some cookies for them. I wanted to make some chewy cookies, so they’ll stay soft until we get there. These are oat, fruit, and nut cookies.

I did a variation on the ingredients. Let me talk a little about the ingredients first.

Vegetable Shortening – I used vegetable shortening instead of butter. Butter contains milk solids, fat, and water. Butter can cause steaming while baking which can dry out the cookies. Vegetable shortening is made up entirely of fat that melts at a higher temperature which gives the cookie batter more time to rise.

Egg yolks – I double the egg yolks and omit the white of each egg which tends to dry out when baking.

Brown sugar – I used all brown sugar with no white sugar. Brown sugar contains more moisture. You can use half white and half brown sugar.

Nuts – I used mostly pecan for nuts because they are softer. 

Temperature – I baked in 325o F instead of 350o F. 

Here are the photos of the baking. The recipe is below.

Oat, Fruit, and Nut Cookies Recipe

Prep: 25 minutes

Bake: 10 – 12 minutes

Stand: 1 minute

Total: 36 – 38 minutes

Servings: 36

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

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Ingredients

½ cup vegetable shortening (or butter)

⅔ cup packed brown sugar (or half brown and half white)

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

4 egg yolks (or 2 eggs)

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dried mixed fruit bits, dried cranberries, raisins: and dried apricots, snipping the large pieces

¾ cup chopped walnuts and pecans

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Directions

Step 1 In a large mixing bowl beat vegetable shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on medium speed until combined. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined.

Step 2 Sift in flour gradually and beat with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Stir in oats, mixed fruit bits, and nuts.

Step 3 Roll dough by hand into balls and place them 2 inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet.

Step 4 Bake in a 325°degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cookies stand on the cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Please visit Staci and enjoy all the yummy Christmas cookies (recipe)!

Animated Christmas Tree PNG Transparent Image | PNG Mart

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Do you bake or buy Christmas cookies? What are your favorite Christmas cookies?

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Christmas Traditions

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Christmas is an annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25th each year. Christmas is both a religious and cultural celebration observed by billions of people around the world, both Christian and non-Christian.

The observance of Christmas occurs in 160 countries worldwide and celebration varies by country. Some countries celebrate on Christmas Day or December 25th. Australia, New Zealand, Bolivia, South Africa, Argentina, and Madagascar celebrate Christmas in another month other than December.

Christmas celebrations around the world can vary greatly in Christmas traditions. They usually involve setting up a Christmas tree with lights, hanging Advent wreaths and stockings, candy canes. Churches and families set up nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Families also send out Christmas cards, exchange gifts, and prepare a Christmas feast to share with their family or their extended families.

I have practiced the following traditions most of the years or done it in a different way as time changed in the recent years.

1. Send Christmas Cards or Letters

I wrote a Christmas letter one year to print it on the Christmas stationery. After that, I switched to sending photos. I picked photos that represented the major activities or events of that year and included descriptions of them. The first couple of years, I made a collage of photos with Publisher, saved it as Jpeg, made 5”x7” prints to send them out. Then I switched again to order the 5”x7” Christmas cards from Costco. For the last two years, I ordered two-sided cards.

2. Exchange gifts

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My husband came from a large family. In the early years, instead of giving gifts to everyone, members of the extended family drew a name to be the receiver of the gift. The members of the immediate family, of course, exchanged gifts on their own. I bought gifts for my immediate family and wrapped them and put them under the tree. For the last five to seven years, I no longer bought gifts to send to my daughter’s family. Instead, I asked them what they would like to have for Christmas, then ordered them on Amazon, Macy’s, Columbia Sportswear, REI, or Sierra. The stores sent the gifts directly to them. If the clothes, shoes, or other items are not exactly right, they would return them, and I would order the right size until they’re happy with them. I don’t wrap Christmas gifts anymore.

3. Have a Christmas Dinner

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Our extended family used to have the Christmas dinner on Christmas day around 1:00 p.m. After dinner, some members would go to visit their in-laws from another part of the town, or another state. After the children are grown and married, most of the members spend Christmas with their grown children and grandchildren. We don’t meet as a large family.

I have been going to Portland, Oregon for many years to spend Christmas with my daughter’s family and enjoy our time with the grandkids.

4. Advent/Christmas Countdown Activities

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One friend brought a 2’x2’ wooden Advent calendar with drawers to a women’s meeting to share her tradition with us. She used this calendar for years during the growing-up years of her kids. She had age-appropriate activities for her four children. Another friend who was a teacher brought a 2D calendar to share what she did for her second-grade class for many years. Ideas such as filling 24 drawers with notes, candy, small toys, or keeping special ornaments in each box! For a 2D calendar, each day can be a window that opens to show the activity for that day.

5. Decorate a Christmas Tree

My granddaughter Nora picked a tree

We’ve had a Christmas tree almost every year ever since we live in a house. We only have the artificial tree, though. When I first decorated a tree, I covered the entire tree with garlands and ornaments. Several years ago, my daughter inspired me to do it with minimal decorations. I like it. It leaves so much room to show the green. My daughter and her husband pick their tree either from the national forest or tree farm. People can get a permit from Recration.gov to purchase a permit. It cost $5 for a permit of each tree plus $2.5 for the online processing fee charged by the website.

I think they got their tree from a tree farm this year. Autumn and Nora had a great time helping to pick one.

6. Start a Holiday-Themed Collection

My Hallmark Singing Snowmen Collection ⛄️ (2017) - YouTube

My sister-in-law collects snowmen. She hosts Thanksgiving dinner for many years. She put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving to make the event festive. She decorated the entire house with snowmen, from ornaments to wall hangings, stuffed snowmen, snowman candles, to a ten feet tall figure. I collected Santa, angels, and nutcrackers, but didn’t go too far before I stopped.

7. Attend a Christmas show or see The Nutcracker Ballet

Official Trailer: THE NUTCRACKER from Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema | Dec 18 -  YouTube

I have done both. We bought the season tickets to see the Broadway shows at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater for many years. The Christmas show is always a heartwarming story of Mr. and Mrs. Santa. The last song is an invitation for all the kids to come on the stage with the help of the elves. Mr. and Mrs. Santa would pick the youngest kids to sit on their laps when they sing the last song.

When I was teaching, I took my students to see The Nutcracker ballet every year as one of my field trips. I teamed with another class to go to share the cost of the school buses. I also took my daughter to the theater to see The Nutcracker. When I stopped going to see it in the theater, my daughter and I still watched the DVD at home.

On Saturday, December 11, 2021, my daughter Mercy took her older daughter, Autumn, to see The Nutcracker. They’ll start a new tradition.

8. Watch a Christmas Movie

My favorite Christmas movies are White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Polar Express. There are many newer Christmas movies. I don’t watch too many movies and I like these old ones so much that I seem to watch the same ones all the time.

9. Visit Christmas Lights, before or after Christmas

We went to this Christmas Boat Parade in 2018

Since 1932, each house on Peacock Lane – Christmas Street, in Southeast Portland Oregon, has been decorating for Christmas. The residents of Peacock Lane are happy to share that they will display their lights from December 15th – December 31st. For safety reasons, the Portland Police may shut down the Lane to motor vehicle traffic. My husband and I joined my daughter’s family to stroll up and down Peacock Lane one year. Each house had themed light decorations. The address is SE Peacock Lane, Portland, OR 97214.

For the last four years, except in 2020, my husband and I went to Newport Beach to take a cruise to watch the Christmas Boat Parade.

10. Build a Gingerbread House

One year, our church fellowship group had the Christmas catering dinner at a retirement facility. Every year the chef starts months before the season to use his own time to build the Gingerbread Village. He built one house at a time, and the trees, the decorations, and put them in the freezer. Right after Thanksgiving, he would set up the village and add the operatable train. The residents and visitors admired this creation with wonder.

My daughter built a Gingerbread house with Autumn. I know many families do this activity with their kids.

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You may have practiced some Christmas traditions for years, but you no longer keep them because of life changes. You may still keep some, or you want to start a new one. How about traditions your parents had? How about traditions your grown children have with their families?

Please describe them and share them with us in the comments. Thank you! 

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Give Thanks in All Things, Part I

Ganz "In All Things, Give Thanks" Hanging Wood Sign ~~NEW~~ | eBay

November 2021 proved to be an extraordinary month for me. My heart swells with gratefulness and joy.

Back in early October, I invited my daughter Mercy and her family to come from Portland, Oregon, to spend Thanksgiving with us in California. Her husband Will had talked to his cousin in Seattle about visiting her for Thanksgiving. They couldn’t decide because his cousin was waiting for her dad to see if he would visit her family for Thanksgiving. Each one’s decision was depending upon another person’s decision.

I wanted to book the air tickets early. The airfare was reasonable, and many seats were available in October. Thanksgiving is one of the two most travel holidays of the year. The closer it gets, the more expensive the airfare is, and the seating availability would be limited as well.

The last time my daughter came to visit was Thanksgiving 2018. Autumn was fourteen months old then. Autumn is an excellent traveler. She flew with her parents about ten times before turning two. She slept most of the way or enjoyed doing things even when we went to Hong Kong and Japan in January 2019. My younger granddaughter is twenty months old. I would like her to have the advantage of flying for free before she turns two.

At the end of October, I asked my daughter about their plan. She said they hadn’t heard from Will’s cousin. I didn’t want to rush, even though I was anxious. Then on November 1, she texted me, attaching many photos of Halloween trick-or-tricking with a message that they were coming for Thanksgiving.

I got on Alaska Air right away to look for the flight schedules. The airfares for the flights fitting their schedule had gone up to about $695 to $1095 each. The main cabin on several flights was fully booked. I could find a few flights with seats close to each other in the Premium section. I gathered the flight schedules and seating and emailed them to Mercy. After she passed on the info to Will, we video called to do the booking.

The anxiousness fell off my shoulder after I clicked “purchase” for the air tickets. On the flight coming, I got the only three seats together in one row. On the returning flight, I got two seats on one side and one seat on the other side of the aisle, but at least they were in the same row.

Mercy said they would check in two car seats and a Pak-n-Play. The car seats would be free, but they would have to pay for the Pak-n-Play. I remember the much luggage they took when we went to Hong Kong. It was when they had a sixteen-month-old Autumn. This time around, they have a toddler and a twenty-month-old. I can’t imagine traveling on the plane, taking care of the kids, carrying the luggage plus two car seats and a Pak-n-Play.

I got busy right away, calling my friend Rhonda and asking if I could borrow something from her. Rhonda has nine grandchildren from toddler to eleven-year-old. She said she had a toddler car seat, Pak-n-Play, and a stroller for me to use. I took photos of the items borrowed and texted them to Mercy. She was delighted to find out she only needed to bring one car seat.

The amazing thing was that I got a free infant car seat the next day. There are Facebook groups called Buy Nothing. It is a group where members post items they want to give away. Other members show interest in those items. The givers and receives make arrangements for pickups. I’m a member of one local group. I had posted many give-away items. When I scrolled through the posting, there was a person giving away two infant car seats. She said she was a foster mom but didn’t want to take any more infants. I showed interest in one and picked it up the next day. After I told Mercy, she was really excited that they could travel light.

Now I could get the house ready for their visit. Mercy’s bedroom is always kept in the same way as it was when she lived in the house. I just needed to fix up the other bedroom for Autumn. There is a full-size bed in the room. I was debating whether to put it away to replace it with a twin bed or not. I picked out a stackable twin bed and a mattress online and saved the online links. When Mercy lived in the house, I had a bunk bed for her, and it’s stored in the attic. Setting up the bunk bed was another option. It would be a lot of work. Nora won’t be ready to sleep in a bunk bed for many years. I may not want to have it open yet. After all the considerations, I used the existing full-size bed. It would be a little big compared to the toddler bed Autumn has in her house. I picked up a couple of large stuffed animals to make the bed comfy and cozy.

There are student activities in the attic from my teaching days. I found a set of six new puzzles, coloring books, simple board games, dominos, and large Legos. I also saved some of Mercy’s medium and small size stuffed animals. To complete the activities, I bought sets of 20 crayons, 10 washable markers, and four-color play dough. These would be enough to keep them busy.

There are boxes of books for Autumn also, but I took the age-appropriate books to her on my previous trips. I’ve been reading to her every six weeks except during the pandemic. I know the books she’s interested in. The local library is only two miles away. I checked out twenty-two books for Autumn and six books for Nora.

After getting all the things needed, I converted the family room into an activity room for the girls.

The next thing to do was to get the food. Mercy’s family is vegetarian, and Mercy is allergic to dairy products. I couldn’t buy some things too early because of the expiration dates. A few days before they arrived, I bought individual yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, non-dairy milk, and creamer for them. The day before their arrival, I cooked two dishes of veggie quiche and two packs of tofu. I wanted to reduce the cooking time and spend the maximum time with them.

All the preparation paid off. The kids felt very much at home. With no surprise, Autumn went to the books and picked out a bunch for me to read to her. Nora had fun playing with the play dough and building towers with the Legos. My husband played with Autumn one day before I got up. She finished four puzzles. After I got up, I watched her finish the other two puzzles.

When I’m around, Autumn prefers me to read bedtime books to her. Since it’s a special treat for her, she could ask me to read three to five books plus her devotional book. Even though sometimes my throat gets dry and sore from reading, I don’t want to stop. She likes me to read to her. On their returning trip, I went with them to the airport. Will drove. She wanted me to sit in the back seat with her and read to her all the way to the airport.

Reading to Nora
Reading with Autumn in the morning when I still had the bathrobe on
We went to a local park
Autumn was making a cake. Nora always wants to help.

One of my daughter’s best friends since third grade lives close by. When her friend went to college in New York, Mercy visited her. When Mercy got married, she came from New York to attend the wedding. Whenever Mercy is in town, they always get together. Mercy’s friend’s mom was an OB/GYN and their Girl Scout leader. She presented sex education in a mother-daughter meeting. I laughed so hard when she drew a big circle on an easel and a large almond shape in the middle. Having a childhood friend is precious. They are like your siblings.

On Thanksgiving Day, I cooked a yam dish and a corn dish. Will cooked a pumpkin pie and a mixed-berry pie. We got together at my husband Lynton’s brother’s home. With the six of us, we took two cars. Will drove my Acura. Lynton and I took the Hummer. The drive was surprisingly pleasant, with no trucks on the freeway. I found out later that most of the major stores, such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, and JC Penny, were closed all day, partly because they were open super early on Black Friday.

There were twenty-five people at the Thanksgiving dinner. My sister, Queenie, and her daughter were there. I hadn’t seen my sister for three years. She gave me the exciting news about her engagement a month prior. I was so happy for her. It has been eight years since her husband passed away from cancer. I jokingly offered Autumn and Nora to be her flower girls.

They love each other
Autumn didn’t want to look at the phone camera. She had enough photos of the day

Several days zipped by in a flash. We all had a wonderful time together. Now, I’m looking forward to Christmas.

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National Gratitude Month – November

November is National Gratitude Month – Royal Threads by Erica

Yvette M. Calleiro reminds me of a Calm calendar for November. You can download it if you’re interested.

National Gratitude Month is celebrated every November. It was declared the month of gratitude in 2015 after author Stacey Grewal advocated for it.

“Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life,” said Grewal, who wrote the book Gratitude and Goals. “Research shows that practicing daily gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress and drastically improve our overall level of wellbeing. This challenge is a great opportunity to see if you can improve your life by getting more in touch with gratitude.” Grewal pointed out that, on average, grateful people tend to be happier, healthier; more physically fit, have a higher income and have much more satisfying personal and professional relationships. – PR Newswire

“Gratitude – The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” – Oxford Dictionary

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I will take time to relax, reflect on things I’m thankful for this year, write, and be with my extended family to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

I will focus on expressing gratitude in many ways :

1. Write a daily gratitude journal (could be brief)

2. Wake up filling my mind and my heart with thankfulness

3. Be grateful for health (good or not so good) and being alive

4. Be intentional to show appreciation to family members, friends, and people around me.

5. Stop and be thankful for the safe environment

6. Appreciate the natural beauty around me

7. Be generous in giving in a tangible way

What would you add to this list? I would like to hear it.

This means my blogging time will be reduced. I have two posts later in the month. Other than that, I’ll resume posting in December, in time to celebrate Christmas.

Pin by Alyssa McCool on Thanksgiving Joy | Thanksgiving quotes, Thankful  quotes, Happy thanksgiving quotes
Editor's Note: Living Grateful and Thankful – Wisconsin Conference of  Seventh-day Adventists

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The Covid Effect – Vaccinated or Unvaccinated

The US President Biden announced on Thursday, July 29, 2021, that people will get $100 in payment to get vaccinated! Here’s the story leading up to the current news.

The IMF and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The Covid-19 Devastation

The first announcement of pandemic and lockdown in California was March 2020. In the following nine months, Covid cases and deaths throughout the nation spread like a plague. The entire world was in a helpless and desperate state as the scientist wasted in no time to find a solution. I developed a spreadsheet to track the numbers and paid attention to the cities, states, and countries where I have family and friends.

I canceled my trip in March 2020 to be with my daughter for the birth of my younger granddaughter, Nora. My husband and I didn’t go to my niece’s wedding in October 2020 in Hong Kong. We didn’t go to my husband’s niece’s wedding in November 2020 in New York.

We watched the news and waited. Then Pfizer and BioNTech announced on December 11, 2020, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of the mRNA vaccine against Covid-19. The authorizations of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were issued early in 2021. The news highlighted President Biden and Vice-president Harris received the vaccines.

Source: Pfizer

The Hope

People lined up for miles waiting to get the vaccination. Some even drove from New York to Florida to get their shots. In the months to come, individuals and organizations volunteered to make appointments for the folks who couldn’t get through the busy phone lines. Again, individuals and car rentals stepped up to give rides for many to the vaccination sites. Mobile clinics delivered vaccines to some hard-to-reach neighborhoods.

The Relief

After the spring break for schools in 2021, the cases and deaths declined steadily, showing a sign of recovery in the society. There was such a relief of hope that life will become normal again. President Biden promised that there would be a July 4th Independent Day celebration. There was!

We watched the Washington D.C. spectacular fireworks with such excitement. I made up the lost time in visiting my daughter’s family. We have visited them and enjoyed the granddaughters in March, May, and June 2021, and have scheduled at least the next trips in August and September. Our church met in person on June 20. The adult fellowship and women’s groups scheduled different small group gatherings. I’ve attended almost two meetings a week. I also attended my chorale rehearsal held in a member’s backyard.

 Déjà Vu

The month of July has seen Covid-19 cases in the United States increase at the fastest pace since last winter, marking the start of the latest wave of infections to afflict the nation. A new STAT analysis of Covid-19 case data reveals this new wave is already outpacing the spring and summer waves of 2020.

Source: Statnews July 26, 2021

“The current COVID-19 surge in the U.S. – fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant – will steadily accelerate through the summer and fall, peaking in mid-October, with daily deaths more than triple what they are now.

“In that scenario, at the peak in mid-October, there would be around 60,000 cases and around 850 deaths each day. Each scenario also includes a range of how bad things could get – the very worst end of the range for the most likely scenario shows about 240,000 people getting infected and 4,000 people dying each day at the October peak, which would be almost as bad as last winter,” says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina.

Lessler notes that there’s a lot of uncertainty in these projections and that how things play out depends on lots of factors.

Source: NPR July 22, 2021

The Skepticism of Vaccination

Rochelle P. Walensky, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out that the new surge became a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The outbreaks of cases in parts of the country are higher because of the high percentage of unvaccinated people who are at risk. And the communities that are fully vaccinated are generally doing well. The news reports showing that those being hospitalized or dying of covid-19 are overwhelmingly unvaccinated.

NPR reported that the vaccine rollout reached a critical stage in which most adults who wanted the vaccine have gotten it, but many others were holding out. There were 12 influential social media users have impacted the outcome. These 12 individuals are well known to both researchers and the social networks. They include anti-vaccine activists, alternative health entrepreneurs and physicians. Some of them run multiple accounts across the different platforms.

Source: NPR May 13, 2021

Vaccine Incentive Programs

As of July 28, 2021, at least 189,494,180 people or 58% of the population have received at least one dose. Overall, 163,588,042 people or 50% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

On Thursday, July 29, President Biden called on state and local governments to use funds from his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offer $100 payment to individuals as incentive to get vaccinated. The payments would be offered to newly vaccinated Americans.

Source: ABC News

Do incentives work? Yes… and no. Some people are motivated by cash incentive but some are not.

On May 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom launched the $116.5 million vaccine incentive program – the biggest in the nation – to boost vaccinations as California prepares to fully reopen the economy June 15, $100 million in $50 prepaid or grocery cards for the next two million newly vaccinated people, and $16.5 million in cash prizes for all vaccinated Californians.

Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery program, which offered $1-million prizes and full-ride four-year college scholarships to vaccinated people. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests lottery incentive programs do not increase the likelihood that individuals will become vaccinated.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and winners of the “Vax for the Win” lottery in Los Angeles last month.

Vaccination Mandate from Employers

President Biden announced Thursday a strict new vaccine requirement for US federal workers, the nation’s largest workforce with some two million people. The order requires employees to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to mandatory testing and masking. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying, and will die, who don’t have to die,” Biden said in the East Room of the White House.

After months of encouraging employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19, companies are beginning to roll out mandates – a dramatic escalation of Corporate America’s approach to halting the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, Google and Facebook became the first two Silicon Valley giants to issue mandates of their own.

Here are the companies that have announced Covid-19 vaccine requirements for at least some of their employees:

Google, Facebook, Twitter (TWTR), Netflix, BlackRock (BAAPX), Morgan Stanley (MS), Delta, Disney, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Washington Post, Ascension Health, Lyft, and Uber. The list is growing.

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What do you think about vaccination?

Do I enjoy being poked by the needles? No, I don’t. I’m allergic to some unknown medications to me and my doctors. The allergic reaction caused inflammation to my entire body and I ended up in the hospital in March 2018 and November 2019. Yet, I signed up on three scheduling sites to line up for vaccination. I only got a sore arm from the first shot and a mild rash from the second shot.

My son-in-law is one who fears needles since a kid. My daughter and he signed up to fill the spots when individuals failed to show up for the vaccine. At the time they signed up, only the folks 65 and above were eligible. They received notification for the availability and went from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington to receive the vaccine. I was there visiting them when they had the second shot. My son-in-law rode his bike for more than an hour from his home to the clinic to take his mind off the fear of the needle.

During the sixteen months lockdown, the one frequently asked question was, “When can I go see my grandchildren?” I asked the same question many times. I only visited my granddaughters twice during the first twelve months of pandemic. My daughter and I had several discussions on this matter. We had the same understanding that I might be at risk of virus and could pass it on to the babies. For the benefit and well-being of everyone in the family, it was not wise for me to go.

Going to visit my granddaughters became my motivation to get vaccinated. I was so excited to receive the second vaccine several days before my trip to Nora’s first birthday. I had an allergic reaction after the second shot, but my daughter said one of her friends also had rash. After taking ibuprofen for several days, my rash went away.

Some people do not take the vaccine for medical reasons. A long-time friend suffered from the collapse of both lungs. One lung is nonfunctioning, and the other lung has 22% breathing capacity. The doctor didn’t recommend him to take the vaccine in case he had an allergic reaction which might worsen his breathing.

The vaccine incentive may not motivate all the unvaccinated people to take the vaccines. I hope that when large companies step up to require their employees to prove the vaccination status to return to work. This mandate plays a heavier weight on motivating people to take the vaccines even though it’s not their preference.

In the meantime, I wear the mask when going out to protect myself and others. Stay safe, my friends!

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Up in the Air

I visited my daughter’s family in Portland, Oregon for six days and had a wonderful time with my granddaughters. I asked my daughter and her hubby to take a short getaway to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. Even though they didn’t go on an overnight trip, they took a day trip to a river for paddle boarding. Nora takes a nap every two hours. I got to spend time to watch The Little Mermaid with Autumn in the morning and did a project with her in the afternoon before their mommy and daddy returned.

Alaska Offering 30% Off Flights Through Valentine's Day Weekend | Travel +  Leisure

On June 22, I flew home and expected to arrive in the early evening.

“Do we have any doctors or nurses on board? We need medical assistance.” A flight attendant announced on the speaker. The passengers in front of my row turned their heads around and kept looking. Apparently, something happened.

A slim, tall, middle-aged gentleman from the first-class section walked past my row and said, “I’m a doctor.” He continued to walk toward the back of the plane.

A few minutes went by, and he didn’t return to his seat. My curiosity nudged me to have a glimpse of what caused the commotion. I got up from my aisle seat to go to the restroom in the back of the plane.

The doctor stood in the aisle three rows behind mine, slightly leaned forward, looking at the woman in the middle seat. Behind the mask, the woman’s face was as pale as a piece of white paper. A flight attendant approached from the back, carrying a gray cylinder of oxygen tank. At the foot of the doctor, there was a red briefcase size first aid kit.

I walked slowly toward the restroom. The concern, questions, worries, and prayer came simultaneously to my head.

What a bad timing for this woman to be sick.

What kind of illness does she have?

Can the doctor and the flight attendant have enough resources to help this woman?

What if she has a serious condition that requires emergency landing?

God, help this woman to hang in there for a couple of hours so that we could reach our destination without delay.

The doctor and the flight attendant were in the middle of the aisle to leave me not too much room to squeeze through back to my seat. I stopped and leaned against an empty aisle seat. The woman’s white mask was replaced with the yellow mask connected to the oxygen tank. With a violently trembling hand, the woman held the mask covering her nose and mouth but lifted it up from the mouth a little to answer the doctor’s question. The flight attendant was holding a chart, and the doctor took a quick look and said something to her. Another flight attendant gave something and a cup of water to the woman. They then stopped and waited to see how she responded. I thought it would be a good time for me to return to my seat.

Shortly after that, the voice came from the speaker again. “Thank you for your patience when we had a medical situation. We will serve the snacks and beverage shortly.”

When the snacks and beverage cart came by, the woman at the window seat in my row said to the flight attendant, “I’m a nurse. If you need any help to follow up on that lady, I can help.”

“Thank you. She was afraid of heights. She had a vertigo and vomiting. With the doctor’s help, we gave her some medicine, and she seemed to do better. Her son is with her, and she handled it very well.”

“It’s good to know she is doing better,” the lady at the window seat said.

“Yes, thank you.”

Thank you, God. She is okay.

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Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to you and the fathers in your family!

60 Quotes about Dads for Father's Day - Animoto

“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.” – Pam Brown

California lifted the Covid restrictions on June 16, 2021. It was an incredible journey we’ve been on over the course of the last 15 months. I came to Portland, Oregon on this day to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law, and my granddaughters, Autumn and Nora. We planned to have a great outing to celebrate Father’s Day.

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