We Made It!!

We made it to the last day of the year, to the last day of the decade! That's me and my kids, and we made it through all of "our stuff", kept working side by side at Country Roads, and we haven't killed each other yet! That is a huge deal if you know us well! Like all of you, I've seen things this past year, I never thought I would see. And my heart has taken its share of pain along this journey as much as I've rejoiced and laughed along it as well! The last day of the year, New Year's Eve, I'm never up till midnight, I'm asleep anxious to start a new year with our annual "big ass" sale we have every year at Country Roads. I like working HARD on the first day of the year, that is the way I'm wired. I'm not sure that part of me will ever change! I like to keep busy! Buying a new calendar for my office is always a big deal for me. Yes I am lame, but nonetheless, it is a big deal. I went with the same calendar as last year, "Simplicity". I have to admit, I didn't get the "simplicity" in my life that I so badly wanted this past year, and one of my new year's resolutions this year is to find a bit more "simplicity". I need to put down the iphone, the computer, and lose myself once again in books, writing, and my music. My ipod has taken me to places I've needed to go to to at certain times in my life. Music is very important to me. Last year I promised myself that I would post a blog each and every day no matter what was going on in my life. And guess what, with this post, I DID IT! The reason behind that was to make my head, mind, and brain work together in looking at everyday life and knowing and searching for the stories it tells daily. And in that discovery, I've also gotten to make some wonderful friends along the way. There are so many, but Malisa, Debbie, Debra, Cher, Teresa are just a few that have touched my heart more than they will ever know and I've had such pleasure in getting to know each of them!!! I thank each of you for that. On January 8th, of 2010, I will write my 500th post! I'm still a bit in shock over that one, but in 2010 I will continue to post daily. Just something I need to do!One really important new years resolution I've made is to spend more time with one of my bestfriends, the treadmill. The treadmill and my ipod have taken my body & mind to where I never thought I could go both mentally and physically. Seriously, it is the best medicine for your mind and body along with staying positive and happy! You have got to have those two things in your heart, "positivity & happiness"!! The poor treadmill has sat, untouched in my little room in the garage for awhile now. But not for long since we will spend some time getting reacquainted! Exercise is not only important for our bodies, but our minds as well! Up there near the top of my resolutions is another bestfriend, Country Roads! She has been there for me for over 18 years now and I am determined to never let her down. Our new motto for next year is this, "Country Roads Is Steppin' Up The Game". I have been blessed to have such a great group of talented individuals that work with me to put together a store that is so much more than just a "store"! And I promise them that I will never, ever stop working to raise "the bar" of awesomeness (is that a word) in the new year!And along with never, ever stop working hard at something, I will continue to take care of myself so I can be the best Gramma ever to these two, Riley & Morgan. I don't take the role of "Gramma" lightly. I want to continue to DANCE with my babies. Riley loves it, and before you know it, Morgan is going to be shaking her "booty" along side us! And come July, about the 22nd to be exact, I am going to get to be a Gramma for the third time now! Katie is pregnant, and I have this gut feeling she is having a boy, so I best REALLY get in shape for that one! We all know how much energy I need even now for "My Boy Bryce"! This amazing woman, my "Ruthie" has continued to remind me this past year to continue to believe in "HOPE", never ever give up on that! And I haven't!! As I head into 2010 the word "HOPE" will be traveling those 365 days by my side. And if you keep that alive in your heart, 2010 will take us ALL to places we've never been to before, ever! Happy New Year!!


White Wednesday

For this "White Wednesday" and the last one of the year, I wanted to not think of it being so chilly outside, instead I wanted to share a warmer "White Wednesday". So, I took some pictures of my bedroom where I've surrounded myself with beach and tropical related "stuff". I hope some of these photos take the chill off your cold winter days and brings a bit of sunshine your way!

For more exciting and fabulous "White Wednesday" photos, go visit our "hostess with the mostess" of our "White Wednesdays", Kathleen . Have a wonderful New Year!


Happy Birthday Dad!

This is a picture of me and my Dad. We are in the backyard of the house I grew up in, that now Katie, Riley and Vinnie live in. My Dad would have been 89 years old today. He died almost three years ago, but it seems much longer, not sure why. I was born and raised in Long Beach, and actually still live here. This picture was taken at the old Pier Point Landing. It's too bad Long Beach has changed so much. Out of all the family pictures I have, this one is still one of my favorites! This picture was taken about three months after Riley was born. I've shared the story before how my Mom had died just a few days after Riley was born. We all know in our hearts that she just hung on long enough to know that her first great-grandchild arrived safely in the world! My Dad was never the same, but the one thing that would make him smile was Riley! We had all gone to visit my Dad at Assisted Living on Thanksgiving. I know he hated it there, and even more so after my Mom died, but he couldn't be on his own. This man, my Dad, made me absolutely crazy most of my life! I am not kidding, he really was a handful! He had Alzheimer's, and before we moved him to assisted living, he would call my house 20 times a day and leave the most horrible messages for me. Of course everyone found great humor from them, except for me. This man couldn't remember a lot of things, but my phone number was engraved for life in his memory! When he moved to Assisted Living with my Mom, there was NO WAY I was going to get a phone for him! I'm sure you can understand why. And I'll be damned if my dad didn't figure out how to get one hooked up in his room. You can imagine the surprise when I came home from work one day and once again had 20 horrible messages left for me again!! I could have cried. This picture was the first time my Dad held Riley. He had been afraid to hold her before and was so happy when we finally sat her in his lap! And all he could keep saying was, "your mom would have really loved this baby". His health and memory continued to decline, and he quietly died early in the morning on Valentine's day a few months later. I always say, it was his Valentine's gift to my Mom, to be with her again. As time has passed, I've lost the anger I use to have and can now "laugh" at being tortured by my Dad for so many years. I loved my Dad, but he was a handful! I always gave him props for that! I remember the time he was going to sucker punch another old guy in the dining room at Assisted Living! The old guy had popped off to my Dad, so he was ready to sucker punch him! It's nice to have the good memories now of someone that you loved so much at one time. His behavior did keep us entertained, if he wasn't torturing me in the process. Funny thing is, even when they are physically gone, that love stays alive in your heart. So "here's to you Dad", Happy Birthday!


Country Roads Eye Candy

It's been awhile since I've shared some of our "delicious" Country Roads Eye Candy!! Here are some pictures of just a "small" sampling of what we have for you. . .

I've been having camera issues the past few weeks. Not the best time of year to have this happen. But I have to say, for a little over $100 I bought a great Olympus camera. I was amazed at how much the prices have dropped on the small digital cameras. If you live near us, be sure to remember our HUGE New Years Day Sale! If you like what you see above, there is much, much more of the same in stock, right now at Country Roads. We are continuing to "step up our game"!


When Boys Become Men

*- I wrote a post about a week ago about Bryce's friend, Matt losing his baby girl. She died at eleven months old. She had muscular dystrophy. The funeral was yesterday, and I think for the first time in my life, I saw two boys, my son and Matt, become men. I can't even begin to tell you the hell those two boys put me through. I remember going to pick them up from jr high school and they would be pushing each other in the street or some other dumbass thing! But yesterday, I saw two boys in a very unbelievable situation as young men. It was a beautiful service. There were pink balloons everywhere, blown up pictures of the baby. It began with a slide show of little Hannah as the song by Roberta Flack played, "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face". The family's faith gave them the strength to each speak to everyone about what Hannah meant to them. Little Hannah's grandmother got up towards the end and walked over to a Christmas tree. Under the tree were presents that were for Hannah, she died only days before Christmas. The grandmother called up little kids that were there, or their parents, and handed out gifts. As we left, and the Pastor told us which way to leave and we could "pay our respects to Hannah", me being "me", had no idea that little Hannah was there in an open coffin. She looked beautiful, and peaceful but I don't think I will ever forget her little face.

Last night after I got home from work (I had to go back to the store after the service) I was sitting in the kitchen holding Morgan and talking to Justine. I heard Bryce's truck and as I glanced out the window I saw my young men dressed in black, Bryce and Matt, coming into the house. I wasn't sure how Matt would feel, coming home from burying his little baby that was only a few months older than Morgan. He walked up to Morgan and I and extended his arms and said, "come hug Uncle Matt" and he picked her up and did just that, hugged her. Before he left, he sat Morgan back down in my lap telling her that she would be seeing a lot more of her Uncle Matt and kissed her. He told us that he was bringing over some Christmas gifts he had for Hannah, he wanted Morgan to have them. And with that, I watched those two knuckle headed boys I use to know, walk out my front door as young men! As the Pastor told us yesterday, "God reached out His hand for Hannah, and Hannah took it and is no longer in pain". I will always remember that and the day my boys became men.


Christmas Leftovers

Well,all the packages are open, all the food (and way to much of it) has been eaten, and it's time to move ahead. I look at the picture of Riley above. . . and I look at her last year in this picture that was taken last Christmas. Time, it goes by in "the wink of an eye"! I hope you are all enjoying your family and friends this holiday season. Life keeps us so busy, and passes so quickly. As I get ready to go to work at Country Roads this morning, I will be spending part of the morning away from the store. I'm going with Bryce to the funeral of his friend, Matt's, baby girl that died a week ago today. It makes me appreciate life, family and friends even more this morning. If you have little ones in your life, give them an extra hug or kiss for me today and cherish those wonderful Christmas memories we just celebrated with them! I know I carry those pictures of Riley & Morgan smiling in my heart daily and so appreciate having them be a part of my life!


Merry Christmas!

Presents have been open, tree is bare beneath, and breakfast has been cooked and eaten. Time to relax? Yes, just for a bit before we head over to Katie's this afternoon for our Italian Christmas dinner, courtesy of Vinnie! Brande sent me the photo above from "Christmas Past". My ex-mother-in-law went through a crafting and sewing period in her life, and we had our little hearts blessed with the rewards of her craft! Katie had one of these dandy gifts as well, but wouldn't pose for the picture. And now to this morning, "Christmas Present"! Remember your first bike? Or how about your first ride on toy? Riley and Morgan loved theirs! Bryce assisting "the girls" with unwrapping their gifts! Can't tell who is having more fun, Bryce or "the girls"! Morgan's first Christmas is turning out just perfect, with a bow on top! Now it's my time to rest up before I head over to Katie's house. Today is a special day and I hope you all enjoy your day with your family and friends, or at least pretend to! Merry Christmas!!


"Home for the Holidays"

Every Christmas season, without fail, I watch Faith Hill's, "Home for the Holidays"! It is a great heartwarming special about not only the need that so many kids have to be adopted, but stories of those that were adopted. All of these stories just fill your heart with "hope" and remind me of all the good that is still left in the world. Faith herself was adopted. What I also enjoy about this special is that not only does Faith sing, but others do as well. I love Mary J, looking good as always. And this "nice" looking man, performed as well, although he had more clothes on at the time. I've always been into Michael Franti's music and I also knew he does his part in "giving back". What I never knew though that he was adopted as a child. As he told his story through words, and song, they would show his mom in the audience. You could see how very much she loves him and was so proud as tears streamed down her face as her son spoke about her! Each year this show is a reminder to us all that there are great kids out there waiting for homes. If you get a chance, try and catch a re-run of this special! And speaking of little kids, such as my "artist" Riley, I was reading a blog this morning that Beth writes. She is a teacher, and it just so happens that this year she has two little kids in her class that both are struggling with leukemia. One is doing well, and is home for Christmas. The other is not doing so well. This little girl's wish is to get as many cards as she can from all over the world! If you would like to send her a card, you can contact Beth on the link above (assuming the link works) or email me or leave a comment with your email and I would be happy to provide you with her address! It just takes a "little" to make a difference a big difference in a little kid's life! As I head out to "the store" this morning to work, I just want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! And as one of the old country Christmas songs goes, "Thank God For Kids"! Just keep the markers away from them this holiday season!


White Wednesday

For this special "White Wednesday", since Christmas is only a couple of days away, I took some pictures of my favorite store, Country Roads! As I always say, it is great to go to work and not "feel" like you are actually working because you are surrounded by so many wonderful things! Being that's my store, I'm also blessed in having so many great family and friends to work with. I couldn't ask for more. Here are a few of the photos I recently took at Country Roads, hope you enjoy them!

Be sure to go visit Kathleen, she is the one that put together our wonderful "White Wednesday"! Happy holidays to each and everyone of you!


It's Almost Time!

There is nothing more magical this time of year than the sparkle in the eyes of little kids as they eagerly await Christmas day! Actually, that little sparkle in Riley's eyes above is why I didn't get this post up this morning. At three years old, her eyes truly tell the story of this magical time of year. It's Morgan's first Christmas, and at six months she is all about looking at the lights and anything else that is sparkly! Also, Morgan is into anything she can put into her mouth as well! These are my kids Christmas cards this year with their babies pictures on them. Thought I would share them with you as a way of saying "Merry Christmas from MY Family to Yours".

"Christmas, Children, is not a date, it's a state of mind"!
Mary Ellen Chas