Mothers’ Day with our beautiful daughters and my flower garden

Abraham Lincoln quote on mother

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”–Abraham Lincoln

I had a great Mother’s Day weekend and hope you did, too. The best part for me was seeing our precious, beautiful daughters Heather and Leah. I went by to see our middle daughter Eden, but she was working late until that night. Hopefully I can see her this week when she is off work. 

Heather bought me a sweet card and beautiful fresh red roses, my favorite flowers–so thoughtful of her!

card & roses from Heather
card & roses from Heather

Heather works full-time, stays constantly busy and on the go, and lives almost an hour away from me here in Butler. So it was a real treat for her to drive here with her girls Annabelle and Violet and take me out to lunch at the Mexican restaurant, El Charro. 

Me & our beautiful daughter, Heather Mothers' Day 2018
Me & our beautiful daughter, Heather
Mothers’ Day 2018

 

Heather opening her card & gift from me The girls watching her Mothers' Day 2018
Heather opening her card & gift from me
The girls watching her
Mothers’ Day 2018

Heather and the girls then stopped by our house to see our black cat with green eyes, Natalya, for the first time. Violet loved her! Natalya is shy, so I was really glad she allowed them to pet and even hold her!

Heather seeing our cat Natalya the first time
Heather seeing our cat Natalya for the first time here

 

Our granddaughters Violet & Annabelle seeing Natalya the 1st time
Our granddaughters Violet and Annabelle seeing Natalya for the 1st time here at our house

Their visit was very short and sweet, because Heather had an errand to run, but I’m so thankful that I was able to see them and spend time with them for this special holiday!

On actual Mother’s Day Sunday, our youngest daughter Leah treated me to lunch at El Charro, too (we both love Mexican and I can never have too much chips and salsa!). Seeing our daughters made my whole weekend!

Me & our precious, beautiful daughter Leah on Mothers' Day 2018
Me & our precious, beautiful daughter Leah on Mothers’ Day 2018

 

Mexican lunch
Mexican lunch

 

I'm addicted to chips & salsa!
I’m addicted to chips & salsa!

The restaurant staff also blessed me with a free dessert for Mothers’ Day: it was a creamy, yummy cake with strawberries!

the yummy dessert: Leah & I shared it!
the yummy cake with chocolate & strawberries: Leah and I shared it!

I’m so thankful that I was able to do this with Leah. It made my whole day.

My husband Ray bought me a beautiful butterfly card (I love butterflies!) and a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, The Empowered Woman. What the card read inside about me being beautiful and what he wrote about me as a mom meant the most to me and deeply touched me.

butterfly card & book
butterfly card & book

To treat myself afterward, I planted some flowers in my flower bed that I’d bought at the Mennonite store in town, the Stoplight Market, where I purchased them last year. All this is a lot of hard work, and I was very sore the next day! I posted a meme on Facebook which read, “My glutes are on FIYAH!”

 

flower bed
my flower bed. I started gardening last year and am happy to have fresh flowers again!

My friend Stephanie urged me to buy mulch for the flower bed, so the rains wouldn’t wash away the petunias. I went the next day to buy the mulch and put it down to protect the flowers.

mulch
mulch

 

petunias
petunias in a variety of colors

 

cute little sign-fairy
cute little sign: fairy crossing

 

yellow daisies
friendly daisies for our back steps

 

purple potted petunias
purple potted petunias

 

gardenias
red gardenias for my sunroom

I love having creamy coffee and drinking it in our sunroom in the morning. It’s a great place to just pray to God and watch the birds, squirrels, butterflies, and bunny rabbits.

coffee in the sunroom
coffee in the sunroom

My mother-in-law Judy bought me this beautiful, little glass table for the sunroom. I love it! It is perfect for my coffee, flowered cactus, and aloe vera plant.

glass table
glass table

Our cat Natalya loves our sunroom as much as I do, but for different reasons. She intently watches the birds and the squirrels, anticipating a kill if she could only get outside (she’s an indoor-only house cat!). 

Natalya watching the birds
Natalya watching the birds

 

Natalya by the sunroom screen
Natalya by the sunroom screen

 

Natalya in the sunroom
Natalya in the sunroom

I bought a few herbs for my sunroom: wonderful-smelling lavender, oregano to use in cooking dishes like spaghetti, and beautiful purple Salvia. I never leave our cat alone in the sunroom with the plants, as some can be toxic. The door stays locked when I’m not in there.

I have the herbs in a big, white crate that was filled with goodies the attendees blessed me with last year, when I spoke at a retreat in Liberty, MO.

herbs: lavender, oregano, and Salvia
herbs: lavender, oregano, and Salvia

 

faith deco in sunroom
faith deco in sunroom

Last year I planted a big butterfly bush to entice butterflies, which I love. It blossomed well, and drew butterflies in my garden. But Missouri can have harsh, cold winters and it’s likely the ice and the snow killed the poor, little plant. I wasn’t able to find a big plant I really liked for that corner, so I bought a Celtic Cross.

I am proclaiming it is a prophetic declaration for me visiting Ireland, one of the things on my bucket list! Irish legend says that Saint Patrick was trying to convert the pagans to Christianity. Some of these pagans worshiped the sun, so it is said that he combined the cross with the circular pattern of the sun as a way to associate light and life with the Christian cross in the mind of his converts. I think it adds a unique touch to the garden.

Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross

I also put new bark mulch around my roses. Last year I planted my first rose garden. Two of the rose bushes look somewhat sad this spring, so they may have to be uprooted and replaced. I’m not sure they survived the winter. The other two rose bushes are doing well, and one is already blooming beautifully.

rose garden
rose garden with stones

 

my roses from this year's garden
my roses from this year’s garden

I bought bags of black sunflower and other little seeds to draw the red cardinals, sparrows, purple finches, blue jays, and other beautiful birds in our yard. I’ve already seen the male and female red cardinals in our yard. The red male cardinal is my special sign of love from God, and it makes me so happy to see one!

I’ve also seen purple finches and mourning doves. Doves make beautiful sounds in the morning and are among my other favorite birds. An interesting fact about doves is that they mate for life. 

red male cardinal Image source: Pinterest
red male cardinal
Image source: Pinterest

 

purple finch
purple finch

Last year my mother-in-law Judy bought me the squirrel-proof feeder on the left in the pic below. The squirrels are greedy, and practically do acrobatics on the feeders, even going upside down, to try to get to the seeds and eat them. 

bird feeders
bird feeders

I also put back out the hummingbird feeder with sugar water, and have already seen hummingbirds at them. I love the hummingbirds; they are so little and cute!

To make safe hummingbird food (there is controversy whether the red dye is safe or toxic to hummingbirds),  mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water and bring to a boil to kill any bacteria or mold that is present. Cool and fill your feeder. They love it! This morning I saw a big black and yellow bumblebee at the feeder; they like it, too, so be careful. I was stung by a bee on my foot as a child, and my foot was swollen to twice its size, so I’m allergic to bees. 

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”–Ashley Smith

hummingbird feeder
hummingbird feeder

The previous owners of this house had planted two pink peony bushes on the side yard. They are now blooming beautifully. My friend Stephanie said these are her favorite flowers, and that if I take care of them, they can grow as big as saucers.

pink peonies bush
pink peonies bush

 

pink peony
pink peony

I have a few more goals for our yard. One is to get a white trellis for the Wisteria tree, that Ray suggested I buy and plant last year. We put it in the front of our house by the little porch. It is now taking over our house, and friends of mine advised to get a trellis to train its growing “arms,” so it won’t destroy the siding on our home.

Wisteria tree
Wisteria tree

My other planned project is to buy 3 giant rocks at The Grass Pad in Martin City, MO, and make an attractive fairy rock garden on top of it. This is where I bought my stones for my rose garden last year. 

I had a very good Mothers’ Day this year and am so thankful.

Me on Mothers' Day 2018
Me on Mothers’ Day 2018

What did you do for the holiday? Leave your comments below.

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Road trip to see a waterfall

Springfield waterfall
Springfield waterfall

Recently I went on a spontaneous overnight road-trip to see a waterfall while my husband Ray drove to Texas to visit his widowed mom Judy and to do chores around the house that she needed done. I LOVE waterfalls and it’s on my bucket list to visit some sites this summer, at least in Missouri and Kansas.

Speaker Rochelle Valasek
Speaker/author Rochelle Valasek
a.k.a. my friend “Shelley”

.For the last several years, I’ve been wanting so much to visit my friend Shelley (Rochelle Valasek), but it would have been much more expensive to ride the train from Lee’s Summit, MO, to Nashville, TN, where she lives and stay several days there at a hotel.

Ray was a little more open-minded to me traveling somewhere here in Missouri and staying overnight at a hotel...that is, after I begged, pleaded, and threatened his life (not really. I did have a few tears that he was going to get to go somewhere, and I’d be stuck at home, bored!)

 I took what I could get, because the man holds tightly to his wallet! To be fair, he’s often paid for me going places, but that doesn’t mean he exactly likes it!

Springfield is only a few hours from where I live, so the morning (the SECOND!) Ray left for Texas, I took off driving as fast as I could within the legal speed limits before he changed his mind, drinking my big water bottle and practically shouting, “Whoo hoo!” out the window all the way down the highway, K-Love radio blaring, and me singing (off-key). I do love to travel!

 God answered my prayers for clear, sunny weather, instead of the perpetual rain Missouri  had been having. (I intently dislike driving in rain, snow, or ice!)

Since I’d never driven there alone, I used GPS on my new iPhone 7 (my dinosaur iPhone 4 just DIED, so I had to get a new phone!) and had printed out directions, just in case I needed a back-up! (GPS isn’t always right.)

 “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”–Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland

me in the car
me in the car, ready for the road!

My plan was to go to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden first  (by the Botanical Garden), and then maybe visit other waterfalls in Missouri (which didn’t happen, as I explain later).

yellow daylilies
yellow daylilies

When you arrive, you come to the Botanical Garden first. It has beautiful flowers, trees, and shrubs, including a grafted cutting from the oldest cultivated fruit tree in North America, the Endicott Pear. Presumably brought from England, it was planted in Danvers, Massachusetts between 1632 and 1649.

I didn’t write down the names of the flowers, but maybe you can identify them. Pictures can’t do its beauty justice. I especially loved the purple lavender and the quaint sundial.

 A Latin phrase says of the sundial: “Dona præsentis cape lætus horæ [ac linque severe]. (Take the gifts of this hour.)”

oldest pear tree
oldest pear tree

 

white flowers
white flowers–I believed these are called “snowdrops” flowers

 

lavender
lavender

 

sea holly
sea holly

 

rock garden
rock garden

 

sundial
sundial

Past the Botanical Garden and the Butterfly House (which I’ll cover in another post–something really cool happened there to me!) is a beautiful waterfall, which was the point of my trip. It is man-made, but still beautiful and peaceful.

Botanical Garden Waterfall
Botanical Garden waterfall

There are chairs and little tables here to relax. When I attempted to take a “selfie” picture by the waterfall, a young woman who was sitting in one of the chairs apparently mistakenly thought I was taking HER picture! She got up, leaving in a huff. Oh well, more peace and quiet for me! (I did feel a little bad!)

tables & chairs by waterfall
tables & chairs by waterfall

I stayed here awhile, just admiring it, listening to the sound of the waterfalls, and thanking God for being able to see it–an answered prayer.

me by the Botanical Garden waterfall
me by the Botanical Garden waterfall

 

falls
falls

Then I went on to see the Japanese Stroll Garden, which is in another section (about half a mile from the visitor’s center. It was hot, so I drove there!)

The Japanese Stroll Garden was so peaceful and pretty. It includes well-manicured landscaping, winding paths, three small lakes, koi (goldfish), a ceremonial teahouse, a moon bridge, and a meditation garden.

Japanese Stroll Garden Springfield, MO
Japanese Stroll Garden
Springfield, MO

The Botanical Garden is free, but the Japanese Stroll Garden costs $3. You are free to take pictures and videos to capture its beauty.

It was hot, so if you go now and during the summer to early fall, be sure to take or buy some water. They do offer some drinks and snacks when you pay to go into the Japanese Stroll Garden. I sat here a minute to rest and drink my water.

me with water
me with water

At the entrance are little signs, “Please stay on the path.” This is so that visitors won’t disturb the garden’s beauty, and there can also be ticks in the trees and bushes which might get on you. The signs made me think of how we as believers need to stay on God’s path and purpose for our lives.

 

Stay on God's path for your life
Stay on God’s path for your life!

 

meditation garden
meditation garden

 

Beautiful landscaping
beautiful landscaping

 

Japanese writing
Japanese writing

There were brooks in the Japanese garden, which had small, more natural waterfalls. I enjoyed looking and listening to these. It seemed extra peaceful in these spots. 

brook with natural waterfall
brook with natural waterfall

 

me with the pretty flowers
me with the pretty flowers

 

purple iris
purple iris

As I walked around the garden, looking at the trees and flowers and hearing birds, I thought, “It’d be wild if I saw a red male cardinal here.”

Beside the eagle and dove, it is my favorite bird and a special sign to me of God’s love and presence in my life. Then suddenly, I saw both a male and female cardinal. The male even seemed to follow me around! God is so amazing and good!

To me, it was like a little kiss from God, letting me know He was right there with me in the garden, even as He was with Adam and Eve at the beginning of Creation.

The tea house and its interior were interesting in their design and plainness (but pretty). The tea house is a space used for tea ceremony gatherings, one of Japan’s 3 classical arts of refinement, along with flower arrangements and incense appreciation

The tea house was originally designed by Zen monks seeking simplicity and tranquility, and a place for poetically-inspired aesthetic pursuits, when the country was in chaos with wars and uprisings. (source: Wikipedia)

Right beside the tea house was a green-brown pond, where I saw a male and female mallard duck, another one of my fave birds. I stood there taking pictures of them and watching them.

mallard ducks
mallard ducks

 

tea house
tea house

 

tea house interior
tea house interior

Although the waterfalls in the Japanese Stroll Garden were man-made, they were so beautiful. I didn’t know any waterfalls would be in here, so it was a double blessing from God!

Japanese Stroll Garden Waterfall
Japanese Stroll Garden Waterfall

As I was leaving, I noticed a Japanese family entering the garden. It amused me a little, so I quickly snapped a picture of them. The little Japanese girl was so cute!

Japanese kids
Japanese kids

After I left the garden, I was famished and found a Mexican restaurant to eat lunch, for my chips and salsa and chicken taco (being a salsa magnet and God was smiling on me!). After I ate, I asked the owner of the restaurant if there were any hotels nearby. She said yes, right around the corner. To my delight, the Day’s Inn was clean, safe, and an even lower price than I had figured for a hotel room! More favor from God!

I went back to the hotel room to cool off, journal and relax for awhile. I need to find this Jarritos orange soda Mexican restaurants sell; it is delicious. 

chips & salsa after the garden!
chips & salsa after the garden!

Then I went shopping at Bass Pro Shop across the street from the hotel, where I saw more (man-made) waterfalls, live alligators that I thought were fake at first, one of the biggest polar bears ever shot, and I bought some chocolate fudge. (Yes, I ate the whole thing–eventually!)

alligators
alligators

 

polar bear
polar bear

 

chocolate fudge---yum!
chocolate fudge—yum!

As I was leaving the Bass Pro shop, there was a sudden, bad thunderstorm, so I went through the Chic Fil A drive-through and ate supper [safely] in my hotel room. This storm in Springfield and the area I was planning to head for the next waterfall was the reason I had to cut my trip unexpectedly short (as well as a very sore throat! Boo hiss!)

Chic Fil A
Chic Fil A

I will blog more this week about this trip and the next waterfall I saw locally, so stay tuned!

I had so much fun on this trip seeing the waterfalls and the beautiful gardens, and can’t wait to see more waterfalls this summer.

What is on your bucket list to do this summer? Leave your comments below!

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