Archive for the ‘Life and Family’ category

Putting Christmas Away

January 4, 2018

Ah… The Christmas Season! I love it! Decorations. Lights. Family. Friends. Festive foods. It’s like no other time of year. Our home is decorated to the nines. In every nook and cranny, there is something special. It’s been said our house throws up Christmas!

The holidays are over, and all I can say is – THANK GOODNESS! Yup, this is me, Mrs. Christmas saying, Bah Humbug!

The arrival of my daughter, favorite (and only) son-in-law, and three granddaughters on the day before Christmas Eve was the inciting incident. We were totally excited about celebrating Christmas with a four-month-old, and two-year-old twins. Yay! Fun times!

But wait! An unexpected Christmas gift came along with them. From the moment they walked through the door, the nasty flu bug was on their heels. Illness permeated the house. Suddenly, the happy family gathering became one of cranky little ones and cranky big ones, dealing with ear infections, coughs, and fevers.

On Christmas morning, I walked into the kitchen to be greeted by one of my granddaughters throwing up at the kitchen table. Fast action by my son-in-law caught the mess in his hands. (Merry Christmas, Mimi!)

The kitchen emptied out quickly, and I was the only one to remain. I spent the rest of the day there, carrying on a conversation with myself and preparing our Christmas dinner. (Hello, is anyone there? I could use some help!) No one listened to my call. They were busy napping or taking care of the sick. By the time six o’clock rolled around, everyone managed to present themselves at the dinner table. A champagne toast was made, and, as my granddaughters say, “we clinked glasses.” That one glass of champagne was the best Christmas present ever! (More, please!)

After our daughter’s family left, my husband and I took time to enjoy the peace and quiet after the chaos and recuperate. On Tuesday of this week, we began the task of “putting Christmas away.” This ritual always makes me sad. All the preparations and anticipation that go into the holidays disappear (poof!) just like that.

Well, almost. These are the last remnants of our holiday decorations. I’m sending them down to the dungeon to think about how they can make next year’s holiday season a more joyous and healthy one. Or better yet, I think my husband and I will spend Christmas at my daughter’s house and sit and enjoy whatever the holiday brings.


Now, with a squeaky clean and disinfected house, it’s time to dive into 2018 with gusto. I have high hopes for a great year for everyone!









Are You Puzzled?

September 28, 2017

For years, my family came from different parts of the United States to vacation together on Hilton Head Island for a week of family camaraderie and fun. During the day, people did what they enjoyed – walking on the beach, swimming, playing volleyball, shopping, golfing, reading, or simply relaxing. At dinner, we would come together as one big, noisy family and share our experiences of the day.

The one thing that was a constant each year was the presence of a jigsaw puzzle. It was set out on a table for anyone to test their puzzle skills. The goal was to finish it before the end of the week. It was an all-out effort by everyone.

We haven’t been to Hilton Head as a large family in years, but I still enjoy putting together jigsaw puzzles, and I’ve found some amazing ones.

Lois B. Sutton is a talented artist who creates detailed, colorful collages which are then made into jigsaw puzzles. ( Nostalgia, Americana, and vintage items are a large part of her subject matter. Her puzzles are challenging and a delight to put together to achieve the end result. At this moment, my favorite Lois B. Sutton puzzle is “Boston.” As pieces are put in place, you not only get a tour of Boston but a history lesson, too! Her puzzles are a great learning experience for the entire family. If you’re looking for some quality family time, try putting together one of Lois B. Sutton’s puzzles.

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SOMEDAY – An Unexpected Emotional Impact

May 18, 2017

Quite some time ago, I purchased a picture book for my daughter I thought she would appreciate as a young mother. Last Sunday, we did what many families do on Mother’s Day. We came together to celebrate. We had brunch at our house and exchanged cards and gifts. I added what my daughter calls a “motherism” to the inside of the book for which she expressed delight and gratitude. She didn’t have time to read the book because two active little girls were demanding her attention. Later Sunday evening, I received a text. My daughter told me she read Someday, the book I gave to her, to the girls at bedtime. She said she couldn’t get through it because it made her cry. (It was that unexpected emotional impact.) She told the girls they were “happy tears.” It’s moments like these when you realize how fortunate you are to have a close relationship with your daughter and how much you miss your own mother. And now I’m crying those “happy tears.”


Alison McGhee’s text is simple, but it reminds the adult reader of the special bond that exists between mothers and daughters and how the cycle of life continues. McGhee’s gentle words speak to the heart, and Peter Reynolds’ endearing illustrations speak to our visual emotions. The combination of the two makes this book a gift of love.

If you have sons, a companion book to Someday is Little Boy written by Alison Mc Ghee and illustrated by Peter Reynolds, Atheneum Books.




On the Watch 24/7

November 17, 2016

Today I have no books recommendations to offer. I’m too busy trying to keep up with the youngest generation. Babysitting twins is a full-time job. This my husband and I can attest to. Our two precious little girls are Energizer bunnies. They keep going and going and going. We are into our fifth day of taking care of them. We have two days left. Our batteries are running out of power.

Their paraphernalia has taken over our house.


They’ve taken over the dog’s bed.


Caught! Mischief makers trying to kiss the dog.


A good dose of fresh air is an excellent remedy for a good night’s sleep.


Keeping them on the move by collecting leaves.

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The girls are adorable and mischievous. They keep us on our toes. We’ve fed them, bathed them, read to them, sang to them, and changed their diapers. Life with them has been a true joy, but I must admit, my husband and I will be thrilled when our son-in-law and daughter return from their vacation. We’ll need one after this week of babysitting!






It’s All About Lincoln

June 30, 2016

Last weekend, the Stefanec siblings did a fly and road trip to the town in which we grew up. Brother and sisters came together from California, New Hampshire, Florida, and Wisconsin for a three-day weekend. Our brother had his high school reunion, and the rest of us decided it was a perfect time for a get-together in our hometown.

Going home again can be both a nostalgic and an eye-opening experience. Besides all the belly laughs we shared, we revisited the nooks and crannies of the town that were a very important part of our formative years. “Humor Me” as I share what we saw.

Welcome to Lincoln, Illinois!

It was the first town to be named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous. On August 27, 1853, Lincoln christened the town with watermelon juice. Sweet!

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Postville Courthouse


This replica of the original Postville Courthouse can be found on Fifth Street in Lincoln. It’s the place where Lincoln tried cases while he traveled the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Central Illinois.

Across the street from the courthouse is the well which was used by Lincoln when court was in session. Well, isn’t that refreshing!


Near the grade school, all of the Stefanecs attended is this plaque that commemorates a Stephen A. Douglas Speech.


Statues of Lincoln can be found all around the town.


At Lincoln College


At the Lincoln Heritage Museum

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At the Town Square with my sister


Along Historic Route 66


Did you know Lincoln split rails and the local high school nickname is the Lincoln Railers?IMG_0953

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Quirky Lincoln


Notice the telephone booth on top of City Hall. It was placed there before new weather technology came along. When there was threatening weather, a spotter was sent up there to watch for tornadoes and call downstairs for someone to activate the siren. That just blows me away!

A Little Nostalgia for the Stefanecs


Our House


Our Church


Our Grade School


Our Favorite Pizza Place


The Old Lincoln Theater – the only one in town!


The Logan County Courthouse and Town Square

The nostalgic part of our trip was being with our family, seeing old friends, and reminiscing. The eye-opening part, which was heartbreaking to see, was realizing the once thriving community we used to live in was not the same as it once was. Streets were devoid of cars and people. Stores were shuttered, and jobs are harder to find.  Many of the people we grew up with have left. It’s a sad but true sign of the times for some small towns. Lincoln will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m happy to have lived there when I did!

If your family is interested in learning more about Abraham Lincoln, check out this site for The 10 Best Children’s Books on Abraham Lincoln.


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