When It's Cold Out, Special Memories Can Warm You

It’s a BRRRRRRRRRR kind of day here in typically sunny Florida.

Okay, so I know there are people snowed in up north. Kids are off from school. Some offices and businesses are closed. Folks are already skiing or sledding or building snowmen.
Florida Winter
But down here in the Sunshine State—land of sandy beaches, waves lapping the shore, seagulls drifting on the wind—winter jackets don’t make it out of the closet too often.
winter-in-florida
So, when I say it’s a “bitter 41 degrees” outside this morning, that bitterness is relative. I’ve got friends in the northeast corner of the US who’d love it to be 41 where they live as they bundle up and head out the door. Another friend lives in New Mexico and she’s posting pics of her snow-covered house doing a darn fine impression of a scene on the front of a Christmas card. I got shivers just looking at her post.
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But while this Florida girl isn’t too keen on living in a snowy, icy, bone-chilling place, I do think it’s fun to play in the snow. And I wouldn’t mind spending a day on the ski slopes, then heading back to a warm cozy lodge for hot chocolate and a blazing fire in the fireplace. I’ve been known to plop down on the snow and make a snow angel or two. And my family has risen to the challenge when our neighbors pounded our door with snowballs—a definite call to arms initiating an intense, laughter-filled snowball fight in our front yards.
Buddy-and-Michael-in-a-snowball-fight
With Thanksgiving around the corner and December holidays not far behind, my nesting instinct starts kicking into high gear. Baking, gift buying, gift wrapping, family get-togethers, gingerbread house building, carol singing, mugs of hot chocolate, old memories shared, new memories made.

Can you tell I’m a big fan of the holiday season? Not because of the shopping and present buying, though I do love to gift giving and bringing a smile to someone’s face. But because it’s a time for families and friends to spend quality time together. A time for fun, frolic and smiles.
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I won’t ask about December holiday traditions—that’s an entire blog for later—but instead, I’d like to know what’s the one thing you’re looking forward to the most during the Thanksgiving holiday?

In this high tech world of social media and tweets and Snapchats and Instagrams and all the other apps I’m not cool enough to have heard about yet, there’s still nothing that can beat the feel of two hands held together in greeting. Or two arms wrapped around you in a welcoming hug. Or two lips pressing an I-missed-you kiss on your cheek.

For me, I’m most looking forward to when my family and I’ll gather around the table, clasp hands, and give thanks we’re all together. That’s when I’ll close my eyes, take a deep breath and give the hands I’m holding an I-love-you squeeze.
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And even if it’s just for that briefest of moments, all will be right in my world.

So what’s your special moment, memory or tradition this time of year? I’d love to hear what you’re excited about!

Wishing you and yours many many many blessings! And a warm place to snuggle with your loved ones. ☺
couples holding hands.

Veteran's Day, Every Day

Today is a special day.

A stop-and-contemplate-the-sacrifices-others-have-made-for-you day.

If you aren’t aware of it: Today is Veteran’s Day.

The day we remember those who served our country and those who continue to do so.

The day we should take a moment to thank a veteran.

The day that, as Americans, we need to recognize the sacrifices others have made so that we can do things like:

run into Target for some cool new gizmo we probably don’t need but want,

swing by the mall for an outfit that, as a woman, I might not be able to wear
in another country,

stand on the side of the road waving a sign proclaiming our candidate of
choice,

gather in front of our President’s residence and voice our opinion,

send our daughter’s to school knowing they won’t be persecuted for it!

The thing is, I think every day should be celebrated like it’s Veteran’s Day. Every time we see a veteran we should stop and thank him or her.

I grew up as a Navy “brat.” Was an Air Force wife for over two decades. Prayed for and continue to pray for active duty family members.

So I ask all of you, wherever you are, when you see a military member, please make a point of letting him or her know you appreciate their service. Whether or not you agree with a specific military operation isn’t the point. The point is that American men and women fought, served, died so that you and I can live as freely as we do here in the US. Their bravery, their heart, their blood, sweat and tears were given for the rest of us.

Today, everyday, we should be thankful.

So, to
dad navy
DAD,
Jackie military
JACKIE,
JD military
JOE DAVID,
Jeanie military
JEANIE and all the other military members in my family, I am beyond proud of you and awed by your bravery.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

What's Keeping You Busy?

busy-quote-1160x773

My question of the day is: What’s keeping you busy?

Like most weeks, my calendar is pretty full. But, it’s mostly full of blessings.

Sure, there’s some stuff I’d like to erase from my “To Do” list, a few things I’m not looking forward to dealing with, but I strive really hard to remind myself that those not-so-fun To Do’s will only serve to make the really fun things that much better.

So, I thought it would be fun to take a look at our calendars and share a little about what we find filling them up.

With mine, you’ll find that I tend to spend a lot of time with my family,
family-pic_opt

my girlfriends,
girl-time

socializing with friends,
PL576EveryHourMartiniB.eps

and exercising (this one needs to get on my calendar more often).
you-need-to-exercise

There’s also rarely a week that goes by when I’m not attending some type of volunteer event or meeting.
volunter

But I also try to remember, amidst the hustle and bustle of my life, take care of myself.

Time to regroup, listen to my thoughts, enjoy a good book.
alone-time

Which is why I try to add a little quiet or alone time to my calendar.
time for what makes you happy
Some weeks I’m better at this than others.

And at the end of the day, when I’m snuggling under my blankets in bed, after racing along checking things off my To Do list, I really hope I don’t forget this mantra:
love urself

So, what’s filling up your calendar this week? Something fun you wanna share? Something important you’d like us to think good thoughts about for you?

I hope you have time to stop by and share!

Father-Daughter Bonding

I could write a long, mushy blog post about how fabulously, gloriously blessed I am to have my amazing parents.

Barcelona Trip March 2011 195
Mom, Dad and me in Barcelona

family pic
A recent family pic for our church

I can honestly say that their strength, support and understanding has guided me through many a dire situation. But since my parents are so amazing, they each deserve their own blog post. Today’s is dedicated to my dad.

It’s often said that a daughter’s relationship with her father is special. A father is someone a daughter should be able to rely upon— in good times and bad. A man she knows is there for her no matter what. A man she can look up to. A man who serves as a role model for her own partner.

I’m not rose-colored glasses enough to believe that this is always true. Which leads me to give thanks every day for the man I call Dad. Or Pop. Or Papi. Depending on my mood, the moment, or the language I’m speaking.

So today, I’d simply like to post an homage of pics representing the numerous father daughter bonding moments my dad and I have shared in recent years. A testament to the fun-loving, sometimes embarrassment-inducing, inappropriate comment-making absolute best dad a girl could ask for.

My dad’s in tuned with his cultural side, here we are:

ushering a broadway show
Wearing our tuxedos, snapping a selfie as we usher a Broadway show at our main performing arts center

Gainesville Latino Film Festival
Supporting the Gainesville Latino Film Festival

salsa dancing
Salsa dancing at a local event

Marc Anthony 1
At the Marc Anthony concert together

We’re huge Gator fans! Dad may not have attended UF, but says his money did as both my sister and I are alums. ☺

Gator baseball game
Enjoying Gator baseball

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Cheering on our 2007 National Champion basketball team

LSU football tailgate
Tailgating at last week’s Gator football game

Papi has thrown his support behind my endeavors as well as my daughters’

MFA grad
Celebrating my MFA graduation at Seton Hill University

off to work consent shirt
Proudly wearing his “I Always Get Consent” shirt to raise awareness in the fight against sexual violence on college campuses– an organization one of my daughters co-created at her undergraduate university

We’re a family of characters who never miss an opportunity to play dress up whether it’s for an Oscar party, World Cup soccer

halloween
a Halloween zombie party

biker babes
Or being biker babes riding Dad’s moped, taking a selfie at a loooooong stop light

If you know my dad, you know he’s crazy about karaoke. My dad is a regular Frank Sinatra, Willy Nelson, David Allan Coe and Neil Diamond all rolled into one. So, no blog about my papi would be complete without a pic of him singing karaoke:

karoake singing

And finally, I’m sharing this last pic just cuz I love it. Here’s my dad and me, relaxing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during a family reunion. My head on his shoulder, comfortable and safe with my dad at my side.
me n dad at Disney

Te quiero, papi! XOXO

Exercise + Family = FUN!

family walking

A family that plays together… well, they have fun together.

A family that exercises together…well, they are healthier together.

So, it stands to reason that a family that plays and exercises together… well, they’ll have fun and be healthier together! ☺

My family loves to play tennis, run, walk and dance. Last Christmas, we had a family reunion and held a 5K family fun run in our neighborhood followed by a family tennis tournament on our community court. Trophies were even given away to the top female and male finishers in each event. Several nights, we fired up our Wii and spent hours taking turns with our Just Dance games. Fun was definitely had by all!

family run day

This past weekend, I ran the Rock n Roll Philadelphia half marathon.

rock n roll philly

It was my first time visiting Philly and let me just say I loved the city! More importantly, I loved the opportunity to spend a fun, healthy weekend with family and close friends. Our group had people flying in from Florida, California and Las Vegas, plus one who drove from DC and another from the Philly area. It was a memorable weekend with close friends, a sister, a niece and a daughter—all of us enjoying the blessing of time together.

rocky pic

Whether it’s a walk in your neighborhood park, playing a sport like tennis, or participating in an organized event like a Rock n Roll race, the main thing is to stay active and have fun. Keep your family movin’ and groovin’ and getting their heart rates up. ☺

So, what do you and your family do for exercise and fun?

A Kensington Books Author & Multiple Golden Heart® Awards Finalist

Represented by Rebecca Strauss DeFiore & Company

rebecca@defliterary.com

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