Summer’s here!

summer
summer
Image source: Google

Today is the first day of summer (you can get great summer deals today, including a free small blizzard at Dairy Queen), when it’s the longest day of the year in the U.S. and the shortest day of the year for people in Australia and residents south of the equator).

Heather, Andy, and their kids
Heather, Andy, and their kids

Our daughter Heather, her girls, her boyfriend Andy, and his kids, took off fast today for a much-needed break from work and a vacation in Branson, MO. It was a surprise for the kids.

There’s lots to do in Branson, although I joke to Ray that it’s “an old people’s place” with country hick singers and the entertainment shows (he loves it). However, Branson has beautiful scenery at Table Rock State Park and nice shopping and restaurants at Branson Landing.

Heather made a fun scavenger hunt at her house, where the kids looked for clues all over the house, until they got to the last clue which read that they were going on summer vacation in Branson. She is such a fun mom! The kids loved the scavenger hunt!

Me & Leah at our home for Thanksgiving 2017
Me & Leah at our home

Today I went to lunch with our youngest daughter Leah. When she was still living at home, she and I would go to lunch every two weeks when Ray was paid.

This was our mom-daughter special time together. After she moved out, I wanted to continue the tradition. Leah now stays busy working, taking her violin lessons, drawing her art, and doing stuff with her friends. We still try to go out every couple of weeks for our “mom-daughter” time.

A Moment's Pause Art Print
A Moment’s Pause art print
Copyright 2018 Leah Jones

You can follow Leah on Instagram @leah.merae to see the art she’s working on recently from daily prompts. You can also check out and buy her art at her Society 6 online store (Leah Merae).

I try to do lunches with Heather, too, only she lives much further away (an hour), she works more than full-time hours, and she is constantly busy, but we see each other when we possibly can.

Eden & her family
Eden & her family

Our middle daughter Eden stays very busy too, working 3 jobs, but she and Ray regularly text and video chat. We drop by to see them at times, since they and Leah live down the street from us in Butler. 

Heather, Eden, and Leah
Heather, Eden, and Leah

While our three precious daughters stay on the go every day and live their own, busy lives, I’m still trying to adjust to the empty nest. (I digress from the first day of summer, but I’m going with the writing flow for now.)

I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. Real hard. The house feels so empty at times. (My marriage isn’t what it should be yet, though we are in Christian marriage counseling now.)

insomnia
woman with insomnia
Image source: Google

At night when things are often too quiet, I lay down, wrestling with insomnia again, and then the mom guilt attacks me. The regrets. The painful ache in my heart, missing their beautiful, sweet faces and their physical presence here.

The haunting, condemning thoughts of, “I should have done more fun things with them” or “I shouldn’t have yelled at them so much” or “Why was I so focused on a clean house instead of just enjoying my time with them more?” Sometimes I miss them so much.

These days I do stay busy with my speaking and writing books. When I’m in between books, I get so restless, and feel like I’m just going to absolutely come out of my skin from boredom and anxiety. Today at lunch, Leah wisely told me, “You need to find new hobbies, mom.”

burger & fries
burger & fries

“Like what?” I asked her in between bites of a juicy cheeseburger and french fries drowned in ketchup. 

Creative things like painting or playing a musical instrument. For example, right now I’m learning to make origami.

Nancy Wilson of Heart
Nancy Wilson of Heart
Image source: Google

I told her that while origami is cool, I don’t want to do that and that I don’t know how on earth to draw or to play an instrument. The only instrument I’ve ever wanted to learn how to play was piano (which I quit my lessons as a child) and the guitar, so I could pretend to be Heart’s musician Nancy Wilson.  But I wanted to play bass guitar, not rhythm. I never learned how, and now I have no desire to be a rock star.

“What else can I do?” I asked my child who is wise beyond her years.

Whatever I want, she said. And Leah thinks that anyone can learn to draw or to play an instrument, no matter what your age is. It’s not too late to learn something new!

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Image source: Google

Here are some things I DO want to do–this summer:

  • Spend time with God and our family;
  • Travel somewhere new;
  • Start my walking/jogging routine again (pray for my self-discipline, puh-leeze! I’ve gained all my weight back!)
  • Drink more water and continue healthy eating (cut carbs and sugar dramatically, more salads and fresh veggies);
  • Restore our marriage;
  • Possibly write a children’s book with Leah illustrating the art on the front cover (she’s thinking about it!);
  • De-clutter my office (tame the paper tiger!);
  • Go horseback riding somewhere;
  • Have some much needed down time at the beach, my place of rest and refilling;
  • Visit my family and friends in different states;
  • Go on another train ride;
  • Speak at a women’s conference (several times would be great!);
  • Lead at least one person to Christ, hopefully more;
  • See God moving in our family, drawing us closer to Him and one another;
  • Visit the mountains; 
  • Ride a hot air balloon ride with Ray, drinking champagne;
  • Have roses bloom in my home garden;
  • Grow more Christ-like, in the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Laugh more. 

These are just some of the things I’d love to do. What about you? Share your comments below.

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Leah riding the KC Streetcar for the first time

Earlier this summer I rode the Kansas City Streetcar for the first time with our daughter Heather. It was such a blast, and I wanted to do it again and take our daughter Leah, who had never ridden it.

Kansas City Streetcar
Kansas City Streetcar

Although summer is the peak time, especially for the Kansas City Market with its bounty of fresh produce, beautiful flowers, and vendor tables, the streetcar runs all year long. It is also free and so much fun!

When I asked Leah what she thought of the ride, she said in her calm, easy-going, non-emotional, Leah-like way: “It’s a streetcar.” LOL! But she said she liked it. 

Leah riding the KC Streetcar
Leah riding the KC Streetcar

Leah recently had her hair cut in a modified pixie. She said it took her a long time to decide to cut her hair short, but she’s so glad she did. Here’s a better picture of her than the one above. She’s so beautiful!

Beautiful Leah with her pixie cut
Beautiful Leah with her pixie cut

The KC City Market was surprisingly empty, compared to this summer when I went with Heather, although there was some fresh flowers, produce, and the international restaurants (Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese) open.

KC City Market looked bare!
KC City Market looked bare!

These giant daisy flowers were gorgeous and unique at one flower vendor!

Giant daisies
Giant daisies

 

Flower vendor
Flower vendor

 

These tall, colorful giraffes and big zebra at the flower vendor were unique! I asked Leah why anyone would buy these, especially since the smaller giraffe cost $150. She said, “Because it’s artsy.” (She’s an artist.)

Tall giraffe
Tall giraffe

 

Zebra
Zebra

 

A Marine (Navy corpsman) for over 14 years in the military and gifted in spiritual warfare, I thought my husband Ray would like the medieval knight. He’s always been fascinated by this time period in history.

Medieval knight
Medieval knight

The market had some fresh produce, although not nearly what there is the summer time, such as pumpkins, peppers, and strawberries. 

Pumpkins
Pumpkins

 

Peppers
Peppers

 

Strawberries & cilantro
Strawberries & cilantro

An animal lover, Leah enjoyed seeing a variety of dogs at the market. (You do have to keep them on leashes!) We both enjoyed talking with the funny, chatty streetcar security guard named Sierra, which is also the name of a calico cat Leah used to own. Sierra the guard is a single mom of a one year old daughter, and has a fiance’ in prison. She said she told him if this relationship doesn’t work out, she’s finding a new man. 

When Sierra found out where Leah lived, she told her about the Salvation Army store which has a 50 cent sale each Monday. She’s bought her daughter lots of clothes and toys there. She was so surprised to find out that Leah was almost 23 years old, thinking she was still a teen living at home. We laughed at Sierra’s expression of shock, and she reassured Leah that when she gets older she will “look good and much younger.”

Jazz player
Jazz player

 

Couple at cafe table
Couple at cafe table

You can see all walks of life in Kansas City, like this senior citizen woman with heavily-tattooed arms. 

Tattoo lady
Tattoo lady

There’s lots of international restaurants at the City Market and cute coffee cafes, but Leah didn’t want to try them. So we had Mexican for supper, which is a favorite for both of us. (I’m addicted to chips and salsa!)

We usually go to Jose Pepper’s for lunch every couple of weeks for a “mom-daughter” date, but this time we ate at another Mexican place in Raymore, MO.

I’m so glad we did this, as it wasn’t very crowded and it enabled us to talk (without having to shout to each other and we could hear). The salsa was also delicious!

Chips and salsa
Chips and salsa

 

As we ate, Ray texted me that the weather prediction was a severe thunderstorm with winds up to 60 mph and to be careful. He had just worked a rollover car wreck. Thinking of the recent hurricanes (although we don’t have hurricanes in the mid-west, but we do have tornadoes!), I asked our other daughter Heather if I could spend the night, as we were close to her house. I hate driving in storms, but it wasn’t a good time then for me to stay over.

My own daughter didn’t care if I was driving into a tornado? Just kidding. Heather thought I’d be okay if I left then; she wouldn’t really refuse if she thought I was in grave danger!

As I drove the 50 miles to my house, God encouraged me with a “sign” of His protection and promise: not only a rainbow, but a double rainbow, which I’ve never seen before!

It really blessed me. Thankfully, although there was bad lightning, I arrived safely home. It’s a little hard to see the double rainbow in the second picture, but I did get it on camera.

Rainbow
Rainbow

 

Double rainbow
Double rainbow

Then today, Ray went out of town for a dental appointment and brought me home Mexican wedding cookies and milk chocolate from the International Market store. The chocolate is divine!

I’m allowing myself just a couple of the cookies and sending them with him to his work for others to eat!

Mexican wedding cookies & chocolate
Mexican wedding cookies & chocolate

It was so much fun riding the streetcar with my daughter Leah on her day off work.

You can easily explore Kansas City riding it. It has 16 platform tracks and 2 miles of track. There’s plenty of places to park along the way, although in some places you have to pay to park. I don’t advise using the parking meters on the streets if you want to spend a lot of time at the market. (I paid $10 at a parking garage that day.) I used my iPhone’s GPS to get there, as I’m very directionally challenged!

You can find out more information about it here.

What is left on your bucket list this year? Keep adding to it and doing fun things! Leave your comments below.

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Streetcar in Kansas City. Another thing off my bucket list!

My beautiful daughter Heather & me at Chez Elle
My beautiful daughter Heather & me at Chez Elle

On Saturday, our daughter Heather and I went to eat crepes for breakfast at Chez Elle Creperie in Kansas City and while there, we rode the streetcar on a cable in Kansas City. I had so much fun! I was able to scratch off another thing on my bucket list!

Chez Elle is a Parisian atmosphere coffeehouse, inspired by France when owner Ellen Trakas lived there. It has sweet and breakfast crepes, Gluten free, Vegan, buckwheat batters available, a full coffee bar, espresso, cappucino, Lattes, Mochas, French wines and spirits.

Paris pics
Paris pics
Cute Paris paintings in Chez Elle
Cute Paris paintings in Chez Elle
Menu
Menu
fresh flowers on table
fresh flowers on table
French doors
French doors
coffee art
coffee art
Eiffel Tower deco
Eiffel Tower deco

It has cute tables and chairs under umbrellas, like the outside cafes are in Paris, France. (I’ve been there twice.)

Chez Elle
Chez Elle

Heather ordered a spicy chorizo sausage with eggs and potatoes (Monsier crepes) and a cinnamon roll and I ordered the Paris crepes with Nutella chocolate and bananas. YUM! We both drank cinnamon iced coffee.

Heather's chorizo sausage & egg crepes
Heather’s chorizo sausage & egg crepes
Heather's cinnamon roll
Heather’s cinnamon roll
My Nutella chocoate-banana crepes with whip cream
My Nutella chocoate-banana crepes with whip cream

After we enjoyed our crepes, we walked around the neighborhood and visited the By Grace Shop. They sell beautiful lingerie and clothing,which are hand-made by women in Tamale, Ghana and Bangalore, India. The shop donates beautiful lingerie to the homeless, sexually abused, and other women. Underwear is the least donated item to the homeless.

Lace lingerie
Lace lingerie

Women in Ghana and India also hand-make blouses, skirts, dresses, jewelry, and other items that the owner sells at the store and online. Heather and I loved this place. The owner was so sweet and beautiful. She shared how her grandmother was a great artist and the owner decided to get a tattoo of her grandmother’s art before her grandma died. She laughingly said her mother didn’t normally approve of tattoos but in this case, she did since it was the grandmother’s art.

Satin robe
Satin robe
Hand-made items in third world nations
Hand-made items in third world nations
I loved this black grace T-shirt and white Africa tank top
I loved this black grace T-shirt and white Africa tank top
bracelets
bracelets
comfy lounge wear
comfy lounge wear
cute desk
cute desk
The most important thing a girl wears is her confidence
The most important thing a girl wears is her confidence

Near Chez Elle were black iron gates that made a perfect backdrop for a pic for Heather and me. Cute!

Heather by black iron gate
Heather by black iron gate
Me by black iron gate
Me by black iron gate

A couple doors down outside Chez Elle, we saw a tall house with unique architecture that Heather loved. It had beautiful purple hibiscus flowers outside it.

unique house
unique house

There was a pretty mimosa tree like a canopy down the sidewalk.

Mimosa
Mimosa

I also saw purple lavender planted beside one sidewalk. So pretty!

lavender
lavender

After we walked around, we rode on the Kansas City streetcar. It is free and on weekends, parking is free, too–which is a BIG deal in Kansas City! Heather had gone on the streetcar before at night with a friend, and it wasn’t crowded then.

KC streetcard
KC streetcar
streetcar on cable
streetcar on cable

This was on a Saturday during the day, so it was very crowded! I had a blast riding it! Another thing checked off my bucket list! Heather and I both want to ride a red one in San Francisco.

Heather riding on streetcar
Heather riding on streetcar

We stopped at Union Station (a former big train station in KC) to buy some water and to chat a little while, which was one of the funnest parts for me. I loved being able to just spend time with Heather, as she works full-time and is often busy. We went into a cool black light tent with some art, laughing at how it made our shirts glow cool colors.

Heather in black light tent
Heather in black light tent
art in black light tent
art in black light tent

During World War II, approximately one million people, many of them soldiers, passed through Union Station. It was built in 1914 and has 850,000 square feet that originally featured 900 rooms.

Union Station chandelier
Union Station chandelier

It has a 95 foot ceiling and three 3,500-pound chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. This building has a planetarium, Science City where I’ve taken our kids during our homeschooling years, live theatre, and giant screen movies. You can also take train trips from Amtrak there.

Union Station
Union Station
sign at Union Station
sign at Union Station

Our next stop was the City Market, which is the largest farmers’ market in the region and has amazing fresh produce, spices, flowers, and international grocers. I am definitely going back!

fresh produce
fresh produce
spices
spices
fresh sunflowers
fresh sunflowers
bouquets of fresh flowers
bouquets of fresh flowers
international grocers
international grocers

One vendor booth had wines to sample. We tried both the white and red sweet wines, and Heather bought a bottle of the white for dinner later with a friend. She also bought a glass coaster at one shop. I bought Heather and our daughter Leah a bouquet of fresh flowers. I have some things in mind to buy on my trip back there for souvenirs.

Heather with her sunflowers
Heather with her sunflowers

Heather got a raspberry cheesecake beignet at a Cajun restaurant. They are a deep-fried pastry and the official state doughnut of Louisiana, often served at breakfast hot and filled with fruit. They are covered in white powdered sugar and taste delicious.

beignet
beignet

I had an amazing time with Heather. Here’s a great pic of us together riding the Kansas City streetcar. 

My beautiful daughter Heather & me on KC streetcar
My beautiful daughter Heather & me on KC streetcar

Afterward, I was able to spend time with our beautiful daughter Leah alone when she got off work at her cashier job, and talk with her for about two hours. She’s now training for a customer service position there at her grocery store.

Our beautiful, precious daughter Leah
Our beautiful, precious daughter Leah

There’s simply nothing better than time with a daughter! It was an incredible day for me and I was so happy!

“One of the greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten is my daughter.”–Ace Frehley

What is on your bucket list for 2017? Make a decision that you are going to start doing it, one adventure at a time!

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