"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

25 May 2015

Healthy, Easy Work Lunches

Do you work outside the home and have a small window of time for lunch like me?

I'm in a public school where I only get a 30 minute lunch so I don't have time to drive through my suburban neighborhood to eat lunch out.....nor do I have the money in my budget to do that! Plus, the time allowed wouldn't let me go to the healthier/more nutritious lunch spots.  I don't do fast food. My supervisor gives me 45 minutes for lunch this year as I don't have time in the classroom schedule to get my 15 min morning break.  But the 45 minutes still doesn't really leave me time to go out for lunch.....even if I had the money!

image courtesy of vera bradley website
This is the pattern my teen daughter has....
mine is the same only in a different color pattern

So...I've learned to pack a healthy lunch that is super easy to prepare the night before and I carry it in this kind of insulated bag.  I also add a small icepack in the inner pocket.  You can find the bags here.  I bought my lunch tote for less than $15 at one of their online sales!  Or buy any insulated lunch bag/tote...doesn't have to be a name brand...any convenience or drug store carries them! The trick is to buy one with a pocket for an ice-pack...I buy the skinny packs.  I also buy the new plastic containers with lids that are also icepacks....just pop the lid in the freezer the night before!

Here are some lunch choices I bring.  I only bring sandwiches once a week.  I'm not really into sandwiches unless I'm at a super good deli and someone else is making it for me! 

I prepare my entire lunch the evening before the work day.  I keep everything in the fridge that needs to stay cold and keep the other items packed in the tote sitting on the  counter until morning.  Once I've had my first cup of coffee (around 5:45 a.m.),  I pack up the tote, place it in my car or near the door, and voila...I'm all set to dash out the door at 7:30!

 I will start with what I bring when it is sandwich day...I do this the evening before.  It is important to be organized and purposeful about packing a healthy lunch!




  • Roasted thin trim deli turkey, low sodium on whole grain flaxseed bread.  I lightly toast the bread and spread spicy brown mustard on each side.  I layer thin sliced cheddar cheese with 2 pieces of turkey.  I then top it with romaine lettuce or several leaves of baby spinach. I slice a tomato and place in a baggie to add to the sandwich once I get to work. I despise soggy sandwiches!  After I add the lettuce/spinach, I slice cucumbers and add about 4 slices on top of the lettuce.  I also add thinly sliced red onion.  I put the sandwich in a baggie and place in fridge. I then place an apple, pear, or nectarine in the tote, along with this kind of granola bar.   I also add either cut up watermelon or cantaloupe in a small plastic container and keep in fridge until morning.  I like to  bring 2 kinds of fruit to work...one for eating when the students have a snack in the morning, and one for lunch or after work if running errands.  I also pack my CamelBak of water with lemon slices.  I sometime will pack this kind of iced tea.  I like it in blueberry-pom or raspberry.  I buy it at our local grocery store.  NOTE:  during the winter, when tomatoes are not that good here in eastern NY, I add slices of a granny smith apple to the sandwich.
For all the other lunch days (4), I do one of the following:



  • Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (about 1/4 c.); snack baggie of rice or flaxseed crackers; snack baggie of baby carrots, fresh peapods, sliced cucumbers, green pepper sticks; granola mix of this cereal with lightly salted almonds; low sugar non fat Mixed Berry or Coconut Greek yogurt (this is my fave as well as this); the Kind protein bar and a piece of fresh fruit (apple, red pear, red grapes, watermelon, orange, nectarine, cantaloupe, blackberries and blueberries).  IF I pack grapes or berries, I tend to pack about one cup in a plastic container.
NOTE:  stock up on the small plastic lunch containers that sell near the foil, plastic wrap in most grocery stores.  I bought a package of 6 small containers and they are wonderful because they are reusable!!  Just wash them out when doing the dinner dishes!  Pack plastic forks and spoons and re-use those, too!!




  • Pasta Salad:  Sometimes we have leftovers and one of the things I love to take to lunch as a leftover is pasta salad.  I usually bring about one cup with flaxseed crackers (about 6-8). I always have a protein bar OR 100 calorie pack of walnuts/almonds.  I always have some kind of fruit.


  • Veggie or Ham/Veggie Wrap:  another great lunch choice is a wrap!  I take the small size tortillas (either whole grain or plain, sometimes a spinach wrap) and place rolled low sodium, low fat deli, thinly sliced baked ham (or turkey) on it along with baby spinach or chopped romaine lettuce, chopped red peppers, chopped green peppers, chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber, shredded cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese, and drizzle the whole thing with lite raspberry-walnut dressing.  I actually pack a super small container of dressing and add the dressing to the wrap once I'm at lunch.  Simply roll the wrap the night before and wrap it in plastic wrap!  I typically pack some of these chips (no more than a half cup), along with fruit and a protein bar OR the Greek yogurt/granola like mentioned above.


  • Almond butter or Sunflower Butter Sandwich or in a cup (plastic container, about a half cup serving) with crackers and veggie sticks to dip.  Greek Yogurt/granola, a protein bar, and fruit.


  • Leftovers like bison chili, bison sloppy joes, chicken-barley soup.  When I pack soup, I always have some kind of whole grain cracker (about a half cup) and the fruit and/or granola bar/protein bar.  I always have those little packets of walnuts/almonds in my tote in case I am out of the Kind bars.

  • Hard-boiled egg.  Sometimes, if I haven't had an egg all week, I will bring a hard-boiled egg to work, already peeled and placed in a small baggie.  I eat the egg with a piece of flaxseed or whole grain/multi grain bread spread with Sunflower butter.  I also bring an apple ( I prefer Granny Smith, Gala, Pink Lady or Empires), or Red Pear. In the late spring and early autumn months, I tend to bring lots of various melons and berries.  I do a berry mix of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries with a small (1/4 c.) container of Nutella for dipping.  It's a good lunch that is filling!

  • TUNA FISH:  Sometimes I make up tuna salad (white albacore tuna packed in water and drained; mixed with olive oil mayo, garlic flakes, chopped red onion, basil, oregano.  I put about a half cup in a small container and also pack the flaxseed crackers, or low sodium wheat thins, or other multi-grain crackers.  I add chunks of cheddar cheese, the Greek Yogurt, and fruit.  

  • TOSSED SALAD:  I have a container that holds about a 1 1/2 c of salad.  I make a lot of salads during the week for dinner and we always seem to have at least enough for 1-2 people to have as leftovers.  I like to use romaine lettuce mixed with fresh baby spinach.  I also sometimes use arugula or leafy green lettuce.  I put all kinds of good things in my salads:  tomatoes, cukes, peppers (red, yellow, orange, green...whatever I have in the fridge!), scallions, or red onion, shredded carrots, fresh pea pods, a cup of black beans, or a cup of chickpeas.  Be creative!!  Pack the light salad dressing of your choice separately.  I like the light bacon and ranch, raspberry-walnut, or creamy vidalia onion/peppercorn.  I also sometimes add pine nuts or sunflower seeds to my salads.  I almost always add walnuts. If I bring Salad, I also bring yogurt/granola, a piece of fruit and a protein bar.


  • Lean Cuisine Garlic and Chicken Spring Rolls.  I keep these on hand if I'm running low on the more whole/fresh foods.  These keep in the freezer and come 3 in a pack.  There are 2 packs per box.  I will sometimes put a pack in my lunch along with the yogurt and protein bar and fruit.  BUT..these are not the healthiest choice.  They are in a pinch for the days I need to get to the grocery store!!



Any kind of leftovers like a pasta dish you made the night before, or a veggie dish, works well for lunches.  Once in a great while, I will have a veggie frittata for dinner and we always have at least 1-2 slices left over.  I just put a slice in a flat plastic Rubbermaid container and add the other lunch items.  

The trick to packing your self a healthy lunch is to be organized!

Stock your cupboard with healthy choices like the ones mentioned above.
I tend to like the Kind protein bars because they are the lowest in sugar that I have found in my area.  I buy the Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt ones in a box from Target (lowest prices in my area).  That way, I am getting my chocolate craving for the day without succumbing to the baked goods I have in the house for the other members of my family!  Once in a while I will treat my self to a home baked brownie but these days it is rare that I bring those kinds of foods to work.

Buy a few plastic containers to save on using baggies.  I just re-use plastic-ware....it only takes a few minutes to wash them.

I always use a CamelBak now as do my daughters....buying water bottles is a waste of money and not good for our environment!  If you  don't like the CamelBaks, just buy any kind of water bottle that is re-usable.  My oldest daughter actually likes her Nalprene.

Keep fresh lemons, apples, limes, oranges on hand.  Add lemon, lime, or orange slices to your bottled water...they act as a de-toxifying ingredient and helps to ward off bloating!  Plus, it makes drinking water more interesting.  In the summer I add fresh raspberries to my water...YUMMY!

Things to keep on hand for lunches:
Peanut butter (if you eat that)
Sunflower Butter
Almond Butter
 Hummus of your fave flavor...I prefer the spinach/artichoke or red pepper
Flaxseed or multi-grain crackers
low sodium Ritz crackers
soup crackers
tuna fish packed in water
canned salmon
fresh veggies like carrots, peapods, baby spinach, celery, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, avocado
fresh fruits like melons, berries, bananas, apples, oranges, grapefruit
cage-free, antibiotic free/hormone free eggs 
unsweetened iced tea
brita filter for water
whole grain, multi-grain, or flax-seed bread
non fat Greek yogurt (or whatever your fave yogurt is)
granola in low-fat, low sugar.
lightly salted or salt free almonds 
chopped walnuts
Kind bars or granola/protein bars of your choice
low sodium chicken broth for making homemade soups
cans of diced tomatoes, low sodium for adding to soups
fave deli meat, thinly sliced and ask for low-sodium options.


I hope this gives you some great ideas of what to pack for work lunches!!  I did this post based on a co-worker and her questions about healthier food options and from my friend Diane who had a FB question posted about lunch ideas other than sandwiches.  

What is YOUR favorite thing to bring to lunch??






24 May 2015

2015 Book Review #15: Mean Streak

This was a quick read.

Easy, fast-paced, page-turning, nail-biting, "stay up to read yet one more chapter" kind of book.

Loved it!

But no surprise there as the author is a fave and it had been quite awhile since I had read any of her books.  She throws in a tiny bit of romance (but NOT the sappy kind)  with a whole lot of suspense and mystery.

STORY SUMMARY

Dr. Emory Charbonneau (a pediatrician) and her husband Jeff Surrey, have successful careers and much wealth. They live in Atlanta, Georgia.

 But their marriage is strained.  Jeff doesn't agree with Emory and all the running and marathons she participates in...he thinks she is obsessed with running.  

One weekend, Emory travels to the mountains of North Carolina, to train for an upcoming marathon.  She is by herself.  She starts out on a trail but soon disappears!

By the time her husband discovers that she is missing, the trail has grown cold.  There are no clues other than her car which is still parked near the trailhead.

And the weather begins to take a turn for the worse.  Fog and snow move in making it impossible for the search to continue.  The local police are starting to suspect that Jeff has maybe done something to make an "instant divorce". They do not openly accuse him though.

Meanwhile, Emory wakes up from a concussion to the head in a little, remote cabin.  She is being held captive by a man with a dark past...a violent past....and who will not tell his name or anything personal.  Emory is determined to get away.

However, an unfortunate incident with some neighbors, causes Emory to help a desperate young teen girl.  But her family has their own idea of the codes of justice.  And how are her two older brutal brothers tied to this unknown man??

Emory cannot turn her back on the young girl.  But it means breaking the law!  Wrong becomes right with this man she is with...who is actually taking care of her....and even though he does strike fear in her, he also strikes passion.

Meanwhile, Emory's best friend and co-worker, is not who she thought she was and her husband's role in the deception is slowly being revealed.  Soon the FBI comes in and the unknown man actually becomes her rescuer!

Read the book to find out just who really did harm Emory and want her dead.  The ending has a real surprise!

MY THOUGHTS

This book was good!  The character development is quick and neat.  The reader gets a true sense of each character in the plot without having to read a lot of description.  I like that!

The book centers around love, deceit, choices we must make in order to survive, and betrayal of friendships.  It also talks of bravery, passion, and justice.

I liked the fast pace of the book and found my self staying up way past my bedtime to read just one more chapter.  

If you have never read a Sandra Brown book, I highly recommend this one.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to some content).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.






21 May 2015

Graduation Faves


I missed everyone last week but oh what blessings I had....I'm going to share FIVE of them by linking up with Susanne's FRIDAY FAVE FIVE ...how about joining in with us and sharing what God has been blessing you with in the last week?

Mine is all about my oldest daughter graduating from Gordon College!!  Yes, I shared a lot of photos. It was so memorable in so many ways.  I have given you just a tiny glimpse.

FIVE FAVES

Dave and I with Courtney shortly after her graduation ceremony
Saturday 16 May 2015
  • BACCALAUREATE:  Last Friday evening was the Baccalaureate service for the Class of 2015 at Gordon College.  My eyes filled with tears as I saw my daughter march in to Pomp and Circumstance wearing her college cap and gown, along with the other seniors and graduate students.  We loved every part of the worship, the Word, and the message given by the former "first lady" of the college who happened to retire (she and her husband, the president) the month Courtney began her first year there.  Sadly, he passed away about 6 months ago but his legacy lives on and heaven has gained a saint of a man.  After baccalaureate,  we took many photos and then went out to dinner.  So.much.fun!!
Courtney (on the right) with 2 of her apt roomies
Kami, Rebecca


A J Gordon Chapel
Gordon College, Wenham, MA
This is where Baccalaureate was held


Proud Dad!


  • GRADUATION!! It was really awesome when the president announced at Baccalaureate that Graduation would be held on the Quad (the Green) the next morning even though the weather called for possible rain. The entire senior class cheered. And the parents started clapping. God totally blessed the campus community. It did not rain!! The president of the college had a wonderful speech and it wasn't too long!  Here are some photos after graduation:

with Grandparents T------
(my inlaws)

with 2 good friends:  Ben and Skinner (Nate)





with her little sis Claire


with her Advisor and Art Professor
Professor "Z" a well loved man

We are so proud of her hard work, dedication, and 2 degrees!  She earned a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts/Design Concentration) and a BS (Bachelor of Science in Math).  She has an amazing Portfolio/Website and hopefully will start to get some interviews for a job!

She graduated in a class of 403 undergraduates, which is the largest class in all of the 125 years of Gordon College history!  Last weekend marked the end of the 125th Anniversary Celebration.   We thank God for the privilege of Courtney being able to attend this outstanding Christian college. (if you click on the link and see the grad photo on the webpage, Courtney is the one in the very center, walking in the Recessional with her back to us.). 


  • DISCOUNT!  Upon checking in to our hotel on Thursday evening, we discovered that we could get a discount based on the fact that we had a child at Gordon College.  Apparently, any of the times we stayed there in the last 4 years, if we mentioned the college, we could have had a room for only $70 a night!!  (it's typically $135 a night!).  We laughed and joked with the hotel staff that we were JUST learning of this discount and she was graduating in 2 days...we've stayed there 4 times.  He told us whenever we come back to that hotel, just say the name of the college and we'll get the discount.  SWEET!  (especially since our youngest now wants to do a couple of visits as a prospective student).


  • ONE LAST WALK!  Dave and our teen girl left the campus with his CRV fully loaded with Courtney's stuff at about 11 a.m. on Sunday.  Courtney and I still had some stuff to pack up and get into her car. It took until about 4 pm. Once the car was packed, we took one last walk around the main part of campus.  It was bittersweet.  Oh how she will miss the Gordon community.  Oh how I will miss visiting her there.  One last look at:



back of Bromley Hall
where Courtney lived in a 2 bedroom apt for her senior year


Barrington Center for the Arts where Courtney spent most of her time

Back of Winn Library looking down hill at Barrington
Walking down the Quad (Library and Research Center on the right)
Frost Hall (Adsmissions and Financial Aid)
my fave building on campus


walkway at "top" of Quad along the Ken Olson Science Center


Center Walkways and Bookstore


Lane Student Center
and back around to the quad

Facing the Academic Buildings/Library as seen from the Quad walk







walking along the quad back to Bromley apt
my fave pathway on campus



Time to go back to Bromley parking lot


Back at Bromley
Courtney's bedroom window is the one on the main floor between the 2 trees.
she loved looking out on to the quad




"Good-bye Gordon College"
 
  • CHRISTIAN UNITY:  there is NOTHING..and I mean NOTHING...like the Christian college community.  I am so thankful that I got to attend a 4 year Christian college for my undergrad days (Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY) and that now my oldest daughter has graduated from the top Christian college on the East Coast.  The unity there is amazing....between the students, the staff, the professors, and the administration.  It was a tough year for them in many ways...but their faith, their perseverance, their integrity, diversity and strong character will speak volumes for years to come. Thank You, Jesus.

























19 May 2015

Courtney with her friend Skinner (Nate)
Graduation morning
Sat 16 May 2015
Gordon College
Wenham, MA

The princess has graduated!


From college.  THIS college. (If you click on the link, she is the one who has her back to us..... the Art department graduates first (Alphabetical order) and she happened to be the one who turned as the pic was taken).

 We are so proud of her!

A Bachelor of Science in Math
A Bachelor of Fine Arts with Design Concentration

Two Degrees
(And hopefully a job in one of the fields come Sept!)

I thought I'd have the mental energy to blog about the experience.
You know...the whole "she's our first-born child to graduate from college and oh how the time flew" kind of post....plus all the bittersweet feelings that come with such a momentous occasion on a beloved Christian college campus.

But I'm exhausted.  It's back to work, housework, errands, working out, settling her in, helping her unpack, yard work, flower gardens neglected already and my deck plants are not even bought yet........and the list goes on and on because here in New York state we still have about 6 more weeks of school.  And the kindergartners are antsy and the projects are piling up and my teenager is super busy and oh my..............


no time to blog.

So for now I will leave you with a few photos.

It was great.

Courtney (the one on the right) with 2 of her 3 apt mates
Kami, Rebecca
After Baccalaureate on Friday evening


After Graduation!



Graduation was held on the Quad
the flags represent the nations that the international students are from
the seniors and parents sat to the right of the flags.  


walkway on one side of Quad leading to Courtney's apt dorm

more photos at a later date...................





12 May 2015

2015 Book Review #14: Still Alice

This book was recommended to me by my sister Joy.

It deals with early onset Alzheimer's disease.

I was worried that it would be a bit depressing.  Far from it!

But...it IS heartbreakingly real.....truly gripping, emotional, and a real page-turner.  I stayed up late over the weekend to read this book.

STORY SUMMARY

The main character, Alice Howland, holds a PhD and has been a professor of cognitive psychology at Harvard University for about 25 years.  She is married to John, who is also a Harvard professor.  They are both very distinguished and successful in their respective fields (she in linguistics and he in science) and they live in Cambridge, close to Harvard Square.  Alice and John have 3 adult children.  Anna is married to Charles and is a lawyer.  John is single and a doctor and Lydia, the youngest, is still single and taking acting classes and working in Los Angeles, CA.

It is 2003, and a new semester is upon Alice.  However, she is becoming more and more disoriented and forgetful.  After a series of doctor visits to her regular doctor as well as to a neurologist, she is diagnosed, at age 49, with early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  It is very rare for people under age 65 to get this diagnoses but it does happen in the USA.

The story centers around the progression of the disease and the entire story takes place in just 2 years.  In that 2 years, we learn of how rapidly this disease progresses.  We learn that there is no cure.  We learn that certain drugs can slow down the disease but it cannot be healed.  We learn what it is.  And what it isn't.

We read of Alice's feelings....and those of her families.  We learn some of the science behind the illness.  We learn that this can be hereditary and that genetic testing can show who in the family will inherit this diagnoses.

We learn that Alice will struggle with day-to-day living skills, with her career, with decisions regarding her family.  We read a list of questions she asks herself every morning and what she is going to do on the day she can't answer those questions.  We learn about her "butterfly" folder on her laptop.  

We read that she must rethink her position in the world...from that of brilliant linguistics professor, author, and lecturer, to that of a woman who now must depend on others to help her walk through the rest of her life.

MY THOUGHTS

This book taught me a lot of what my own father is going through although he hasn't had an official diagnoses yet of actual Alzheimer's disease. 

This book is very informative.  It's a little scary.  And it changed me.....it changed the way I view people with dementia/memory loss.  I learned all kinds of ways to actually talk and listen to the person.  I felt so frustrated for Alice as I walked through her journey via these pages of words. The ending is very poignant and didn't end the way I thought it was going to which was a surprise.

One of my favorite sections of the book is when she is visiting a nursing home to see what it might be like to eventually live there.  She wears her mother's butterfly necklace (her mother and younger sister died in a tragic car accident when her father drove drunk back when Alice was a freshman in college).  Her mother found her crying one day at about age 6 or 7 because Alice had just learned that butterflies only live a few days.  Here is the quote which has significant meaning to Alice's life as she begins to face the facts of her early onset Alzheimer's:

" Her mother comforted her and told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn't mean they were tragic.  Watching them flying the warm sun among the daisies in the garden, her mother had said to her, "See, they have a beautiful life."  Alice liked remembering that." 
(pg. 111, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, c. 2007)
I also thought it was interesting that the author has  a PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard University.  She also is an online columnist for the National Alzheimer's Association.  She put a lot of research into this book and mentions several trials of meds as well as genetic testing and markers that doctors look for when making diagnoses of Alzheimer's.  

This is a very moving story.  I  think everyone should read this book to gain a good understanding of this progressive and terminal disease.  This story will make you laugh, cry, and cheer.  It will leave you changed.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.



08 May 2015

"M" Faves

This week has flown by.

The children in the classroom are all working hard on our African unit (Kenya) and getting ready for the big parent project night in a couple of weeks. The head teacher is busy, which means the rest of us are busy!

Here in my home, we are doing more spring cleaning and purging, and preparing ourselves for Courtney's graduation from college in one week from tomorrow!!  SO...this will be my last FFF for a couple of weeks.  

If you like counting your blessings, how about choosing FIVE of your FAVES from this past week and linking up with us by going to Susanne's site?

FIVE FAVES

  • MOMS NIGHT OUT! Last Thursday evening, instead of meeting for our Bible study discussion, we met at the local park to power walk and chat.  Oh how fun!  There were 4 of us (3 couldn't make it).  We walked for a little over 2 miles, and then went out for frozen yogurt.  It was so good to get together with my group in a social context.  We really needed that bonding time!  It was such a hit that we have plans to do it again later in the spring and some time over the summer! I"m so thankful for this small group and all that God has accomplished within us so far, both as friends and in our spiritual growth.
My Mother's Day pear tree

tulips and hyacinths under a cherry tree in front yard
  • MORE BLOOMS!  This past week yet more tulips and other perennials opened up in the yard.  And the pear tree that Claire got for me (Mother's Day 2 years ago) is doing so well!  The blossoms are so pretty even though the scent is not great.  I love all the rebirth springing up around our town.  It makes everything so beautiful! I'm thankful that God created Spring!  Here in the Great Northeast, we welcome it gladly!


  • MERCY ME!  The group Mercy Me has been a fave of mine for a couple of years now and I just discovered this song (Flawless) this past week.  It played on the Christian radio station I like to listen to in the mornings on the way to work a couple of times this week. It's wonderful.  I encourage you, if you don't know the song, to click on the above video and watch/ listen...the lyrics are amazing.  It's because of that amazing grace that we can be flawless!!  Thank you, Jesus!

  • MAKING PLANS!  Dave and I are making plans for our upcoming 25th anniversary trip (we were married on June 30th but the trip is happening July 3-12), and it's a lot of fun!  We've decided on a wonderful little village on Cape Cod...about half way out on the Cape).  It's been years since we've been that far out.  AND we are making some plans to rent a cottage in the northern/high peaks region of the Adirondacks for the end of the summer........we haven't made a deposit yet but we are leaning towards one particular place near this village.  I'm excited!!  The cottage is right on a lake!  We just need to finalize our plans.......




my cherry blossoms in the mommy pot

  • MOMMY POT!  See the little pot (it's stone and colonial blue in color) in my kitchen window with the 3 cherry blossoms?  Well, it was 13 years ago this month when my close friend Chris gave that pot to me.  Claire was just 2 and Courtney was 7.  Chris' son was a 4 year old.  She was visiting Claire and I for an all day play date as she lived out in Central NYS.  We first met when, as a graduate school intern, I was assigned to teach for 20 weeks in the preK classroom where she was Master Teacher.  I learned so much from her, including that she was a Christian. She invited me to her church which ended up being the church where Dave and I met. We became friends and she was a wonderful mentor to me...both academically in the Special Education field and spiritually.  We were the same age!  I was married before she was and she came to my wedding and I went to hers.  I missed her when she moved back to central NY.  BUT....we still remained in touch and got together when we could.  About 2 months after giving me the mommy pot, she stopped emailing and calling me.  I was perplexed.  I found out later that autumn that she was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer about a month after giving me the pot.  She died the next September, about a year and 3 months after the initial diagnoses.  In fact, while Dave and I were walking on the beach at the family beach house on Cape Cod, it was a Sunday afternoon and I told him I didn't have a good feeling in my spirit.  I felt like Chris wasn't going to make it to Thanksgiving.  The next morning, Labor Day, she died.  BUT....this mommy pot reminds me of her love for young children, and the joy they bring (as did she) to mommies when they thrust their little hands full of blossoms....even those dandelion blossoms that they are so proud of...in to our hands. She knew that I also loved working as a Master Teacher in early childhood special ed and that I treasured my own young daughters and the flowers they would pick for me. I cherish that mommy pot to this day.  
that wraps up my list of faves for the past week.

Next week, after working for 4 days, we are heading to the North Shore of Boston to celebrate Gordon College's Graduation Weekend.  We covet your prayers as we witness our first born child....our precious princess...walk across the green quad to receive her Bachelor degrees.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a very blessed Mother's Day!!