Toxic

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The past week has been emotional for me. Mostly depression and anger have ruled the days. I do not like depression or anger to occupy my thoughts and especially my days. I thought I learned ample skills to stop or at least not let the depression get so bad. I had not had an episode of depression for three years, why now? But, there are triggers to this depression I do not know.

A phone call this past week set the gears in motion for depression. During these depression times I do not feel I am worthy of anyone’s love, there is shame, no self-worth.

The nightmares returned. Dreams in one night included snakes. I really do not like snakes. I was trying to get them out of my house. There were several dreams as I would wake up, then finally go back to sleep to dream about snakes in the house and me trying to get them out. The last dream my husband was trying to get them out with me.

That morning, during prayers, I was really wanting to know why the bad dreams, how to get rid of my depression episode and what had triggered everything. The thought that popped in my mind was “Spark of Joy”.

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Two years ago I watched on Netflix Marie Kondo demonstrating “Spark of Joy”. I went through my house using her methods and cleaned a lot of things out. The biggest change was photos. If a picture of someone or something did not bring me joy, that photo went in a box. I did not destroy any, only stored them in a box for other family members to take if they choose.

The next was to only surround myself with people who brought me joy. But how can you not be around people who are family? One family member treats me with extreme disrespect as well is not truthful with us. My husband made a decision. My husband does not make many decisions, he trusts me to make most of the decisions. He is not in the dark, as I am a verbal thinker, so he knows all the information before I make a decision. But when he does make a decision, as he puts it “his vote is the only one that counts”. He made the decision if this family member does not change the way they treat me and others, they are not allowed on our place and into our home. His reasoning is we work hard to have and keep joy in our home, and for others to experience the joy and harmony of our home when they visit. No one deserves to be treated in the fashion this particular family member treats everyone.

“Spark of Joy”, the dreams were trying to tell me to get rid of the snakes stealing my “spark of joy” in my life. It is very clear the phone call stole my joy. Today, my loving husband decided to vote. He loves his wife and does not like to see her in the state she has been in for almost a week. His vote, do not answer the phone calls or text messages anymore.

There are some relationships with people that are toxic to our self being. They take away our joy and replace that joy with shame, self worthlessness, feelings of stupidity and other negative feelings. The exposure to toxic people should be short. For my health, it is not good to be around toxic people, even if they are family.

I have found another trigger. Hopefully the next time I have an episode, I will recognize the trigger sooner, and remove the snakes from the house.

amtolle

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Birthdays

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Today is my husband’s birthday.

Another year older, and I hope a lot wiser.

For years, actually most of my life, I did not give much thought to my own birthday. It was another day, I received gifts, but no big celebration or fan fare. I began to believe that my birth nor my being was of much importance in the universe. My self worth was very low, I was unimportant and there was no need to celebrate me becoming older. Age is just a number, no need to acknowledge or celebrate one more year.

Then I joined the “Birthday Club” at a church I was attending. Each month we would celebrate not the birthday, but the fact a woman was born. When we signed up, we were to put our birthdate on the form so the organizer would make sure we were not acknowledging the fact we were born in the same month of our birth. I realized that my birth was important and a reason to celebrate.

Now I celebrate the birthdays of those I know. Those I can be with get a card and gift. I like to send flowers to my daughters. I mail cards and sometimes small gifts to my grandchildren. I want them to know I think they are important to me and I love them.

The day of our birth is special and unique as that is the very first day we greeted our parents, became a family, and said “Hello world, here I have arrived!” We should celebrate each year we have shared our lives with others, as others did not have some many years to share with others.

When I celebrate my birthday, I celebrate that I have survived as long as I have. Acknowledging all the health warnings for activities I did as a child, it is a miracle I am alive.

Yes, I drank from a garden hose, rode in the back of a pickup truck traveling the speed limit or more down the highway. As a child, the vehicles were not made with seatbelts. It is a wonder the baby boom generation even survived at all.

But I had a life of roaming anywhere I wanted, only had to be home for supper. I remember riding my bicycle down the gravel hill near home barefoot. We would go to the top of the hill and pedal as fast as we could, then let go of the handle bars plus put our feet up on the back fender of the rear wheel. On one run, I missed the back fender and my bare toes went into the rapidly spinning spokes. WIPE OUT! Nearly took my toe off in the spokes. Blood all over my toe and foot. Removed my toe nail off my big toe. My reaction, go into the house for a pair of shoes, and out the door to see if I could go faster. Have I gotten wiser as I have gotten older. I would love to try that stunt again, only I will keep my shoes on.

Birthdays celebrate the number of years you have shared your life with family, friends and others.

How to you feel about birthdays? I hope you feel they are worth celebrating. You being alive is worth celebrating.

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amtolle

Update to “Decisions Are Made”

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We make decisions daily, most are not major and have no major consequences or actions following the decision.

Late last night, actually at 2 AM today my time, I made a decision and posted “Decisions Are Made”, not realizing the events that would follow. I was expressing a decision concerning my adoption and the reasons for choosing not to pursue finding my biological family. There would be events from me posting my thoughts and decision on my adoption that I could not even dream up.

I appreciate all the comments and words I have received on the post “Decisions Are Made”. I appreciate those who follow my blog, and those I do not know who read my postings. A surprise greeted me this morning at approximately 9:30 AM with a phone call from one of my followers I was unaware of, the sister I was raised with.

When my sister called me, which is very rare, mostly we communicate through text messages, which is great as we are both busy people. I thought her call was to bring me bad news, the kind of news about family no one wants to hear. Instead, she wanted to talk about my blog post. She follows my blog, a happy surprise for me.

God does work in mysterious ways. We both knew one of us two girls had to be adopted. Sisters can not be 19 weeks apart in age, and both be born from the same biological mother. She had heard whispered rumors I was adopted, not a big deal. Last week, she ran into an person who our dad worked for and some how in the conversation came up about our dad adopting two children. My sister figured I was adopted, but the person insisted there were two children adopted. Then she reads my blog post “Decisions Are Made” at 4 AM in the morning of posting. She could not sleep, so she read my blog.

In the phone conversation she wanted to know what I knew about our adoptions. Who told me what. What was said. How I obtained my adoptions records. Where I had researched to learn of my biological parents.

I told her she was adopted first as a premature infant. Our mother’s mom, a nurse, was at her birth. I was adopted later at thirteen months of age. Our mom and dad fought over my adoption, my dad insisted, my mom did not want to adopt me. Raising two young children only 19 weeks apart in age with one being a preemie, would be a lot of work. Being the mother of four, with two girls 17 months apart, I can understand the reluctance of my mother concerning my adoption. Plus, I was not an infant.

I let her know our brothers who are natural children, both know of our adoptions. Our brothers had told my husband of my children I was adopted. She might want to start there since one of our brothers still lives in the same town.

I also told her of when I knew I was adopted and tried to get our mom to tell me. Mom was not going to ever tell me I was adopted, even though I let her know I was. Letting her know there may be some reluctance from our brothers to discuss the subject.

Many followers wonder why we were not told of our adoptions by family members or our parents. Talking to several family members, the younger ones were swore to secrecy with “beating until death” if they ever mentioned to us about being adopted. It was a very strict rule of silence within both sides of the family to never, ever under any circumstances reveal to either one of us about being adopted. Do not judge our family as these rules were held in place.

Every family has secrets, things that are spoken in whispers or not spoken of at all. This rule of silence was enforced so strongly, my cousin M who was the first family member to tell me, still feels badly about breaking this rule of silence even today.

My sister, 19 weeks younger than myself, for the first time learned she was adopted as well. My sister is wanting to find her biological parents and family. I wish her all the best. I know she will meet roadblocks trying to find information. I know there will be emotions on meeting the biological family. I am excited for her.

I am glad the light has finally shined on a this deeply hidden truth in our family. That was not the intent of my writing the post “Decisions Are Made”. I knew in the 1990’s I was adopted from the words of my husband at the time sharing that my brothers told him I was adopted. I put the information on a shelf. The information collected dust for many years. Then at the age of 48, I decided to dust off the information and see what I could find. On and off I have done research to find my biological parents. The recent research I have decide to end the searching. I was bringing a closure to the my search for biological parents. I am still writing a novel about the unwed homes and adoptions with a hint of my biological parents.

Yes, a white rose bush is so fitting for the remembrance of my adoption and biological parents.

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amtolle

The Rocking Chair

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While pregnant with my second child, I wanted a rocking chair to rock my baby. I searched yard sales to find one. I could not afford to purchase a rocking chair new. Finally I my searching was rewarded with locating a bentwood rocking chair with maroon covered back and seat. There were scratches on the woodwork, and the covering was not plush as when new. But it was sturdy, able to perform the purpose it was created for. And I could afford the price. I took my treasure home.

I placed the rocking chair in the main part of the living room, center of all the family activity. I rocked my baby even before we met each others eyes. In the rocking chair I rocked my second child, third and fourth.

The rocking chair became the place where I read books to the small children while nursing the fourth child. The rocking chair would support the weight of all five of us, as children hang on mom and the chair when I was reading. Them saying, “I need to see the pictures.”

As the children grew, we could not all be supported by the rocking chair. But mom and a child could. The rocking chair was moved to the quiet part of the main living room. There each day, mom and child, would have a quiet time of being held and loved.

Years move on and the child and mom time becomes the catch up on the day time. After school, each child took a turn telling mom about their day. The new kid at school, how they got a perfect score on a test, or sometimes the test score was not so good. We would rock and talk.

Children grow and become teenagers. The talks in the rocking chair became less often. The conversations shifted to friendships that struggled or a heart felt interest, and dreams of after graduation.

Time does not sit still like the rocking chair does in a corner collecting dust. The children have become young adults with jobs and first loves. Not much time to sit with mom and talk about their day.

I do not know what happened with the rocking chair after the children left home. I know it was a little wobbly and covered with scratches. The padded seat had been recovered once with a patterned material.

I did not think the children thought much about the rocking chair and time spent with mom until I received a phone call one day from my second son. He and his wife made a decision to get divorced and he was hurting inside. “Mom I wish I could just sit on your lap in the chair the way we used to when things were not going well. I wish I was with you in the rocking chair.”

Sometimes it is the plain and small things that make such a difference in the lives of children.

amtolle

Reflection

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My husband is visiting his sister, Ms. S, and family. I mention his sister as she is ill, cancer. The doctors have not informed her of how advanced the cancer is. Their sister, Mrs. L, knows, but no one has informed the patient, Ms. S. This is not a happy visit of catching up on family doings.

It is the last visit.

The discussion among the siblings is do we tell Ms. S or do we not tell Ms. S, how advanced the cancer is. A tough decision.

In the movie “The Alamo” produced by John Wayne, a character named Preacher tells a young man, “The good Book says everybody dies. The when and how, only the good Lord knows.”

When faced with death, we reflect on our lives. What regrets do we have? Dreams unfulfilled? Accomplishments? Successes?

I have some regrets, but hindsight is always 20/20, perfect vision. One regret is not spending more time with my children when they were small. My children do not think I neglected spending time or doing things with them. I look back and realize how few years we had together, and selfishly I want more memories.

There are dreams I had as a young person that will not come to pass. As a young person my dream was to be a veterinarian, I wanted to be able to help animals. I did not complete college to get a degree in veterinarian medicine, and I will not ever complete the schooling. However, I do veterinarian work with my own animals. Yesterday, I had to take care of an injured goat. I may not have doctor attached to my name, but I do medical procedures on my own animals, so in a way I am a veterinarian.

My Last Appaloosa Foal, Sparkle Lilly, 6 months age.

As an adult, my big dream was to raise an Appaloosa World Champion. I will not experience raising an Appaloosa World Champion. But daily I enjoy my two Appaloosa horses. I am proud of the horses I raised through my life. Last spring, I saw my last foal come into the world, a beautiful filly. My preferred coloring on an Appaloosa, a bay with a blanket. I asked two of my granddaughters to name her, one said “Sparkle” the other, “Lilly”. I combined the two names, Sparkle Lilly, only to be educated by my youngest granddaughter I named my foal after a “My Little Pony” figure and cartoon character.

I still dream of raising a champion, only it is with my sheep. I work towards the goal with each lambing and every purchase of a new ram or ewe. I still have dreams I am working at each day.

I have touched the lives of others encouraging and inspiring them to reach for their dreams and enjoy the trip. I touched many youth with the horsemanship clinics and lessons through the years. I worked with youth and adults to learn leather craft, ceramics and other activities. Always encouraging them to be the best they can be for themselves, not for others.

In competition, regardless of how many are in the class, there is always only one first place, and always one last place. The placing in the competition is not as important as how you felt about your performance. I would meet with my young riders and ask how they felt about their performance. I wanted to know their thoughts on what they did better than last time, how was the communication with the horse, all the high points they felt they did. Then I would ask, what do you want to work on next and why? The important answer was why.

Today is the only day we have to live. Tomorrow is not here. Each day I let my husband know I love him. I call my children and grandchildren often, I want them to know I love and care for them. I do my chores, care for my animals, do the things that bring me joy, and take care of the necessary things required to live life today (cooking, cleaning and laundry…lol).

Everyday, I ask myself” What do I want to improve on and why?” Why do I want to learn more cooking recipes and techniques? Why do I choose those vegetables to plant? or Why do I want to plant that type of tree?

I want to meet death while living. I have expressed this to my husband and my children. I want to be doing the things I love to do.

amtolle

My Favorite Mountains

Letting Them Fly

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Bald Eagles in a tree, parent and fledgling ready to fly.

The bald eagle raises its young in very tall trees. When the fledglings grow they start jumping from one limb to another. Then one day, the parent eagle pushes them out of the tree, they have to learn to fly. While the young eagle is learning to fly, they also start learning to hunt for food. I have seen parent eagles take their young to the lake. The eagle float above the water, then dives, totally submersed below the surface, only through violent splashes of wings gains altitude with a fish in its claws. To a tree branch with their meal, only the parent eagles no longer share with the young, the young must learn to hunt. After several clumsy dives and resurfacing, the young eagles have a fish. They have successfully hunted.

I love motherhood. I would be so excited discovering I was pregnant. This little person developing and growing inside, totally dependent on me, and we are totally connected. I would have what my doctor and I called the “pregnancy flu” as morning sickness was all day and all night for twelve weeks. Then smooth sailing until about month 7 or 8 when their constant “rumbles” would make my ribcage sore. But I truly love being a mother.

Then the day would come, I would go into labor. I choose to deliver without any pain medications at all, nothing. I am over sensitive to medications, any type of pain relief puts me to sleep. I wanted to be awake for the birth of my baby. With each contraction I was one contraction closer to seeing the eyes of the little one I have been cherishing for nine months. Yes, that was my focus during labor.

I would say nothing during the labor, except “I think it is time to push.” My doctor did not like “silent mothers” as he could not tell how close the birth was without examining. He did not like to disturb a mother in labor, unless he had to. When I would say, ” I think it is time to push.” he would get ready to catch the baby. Once the baby was delivered, the doctor placed he or she directly into my arms, “Good job mom, now clean him or her up.” No nurses touched my babies first, I had the joy of being the first person my little one’s eyes saw, the first one to touch and clean them up. The greatest joy and most precious memory is looking into my child’s eyes for the very first time.

They were no longer totally connected to me. Although they were dependent for food and care, they were now in the world and separated from the warmth and protection my body gave them. I had to let go a tiny bit, so they could learn to fly.

I am amused and giggle when I hear a first time parent say, ” I can’t wait for little Sally to learn to walk.” I tell them to cherish the time they are not mobile, as that is the easiest stage of life, you can find them. But babies grow and soon they are mobile, first crawling, then walking and running. I had to search for my busy little children. They loved to learn and explore, as well play their favorite game, hide and make mom seek. I had to let go a little bit more, so they could learn to fly.

When they started kindergarten, I cried for a week. In a blink of an eye they were going to school. Where had the time gone? They were excited going to school, meeting new friends and learning. I had to reluctantly let go some more, so they could learn to fly.

Then came basketball games, volleyball games, band concerts, choir performances and theater productions. Trips won by art contests. A flurry of excitement, and the starting of dating, loves and heart break. With four children, I felt more like a taxi driver than a parent. They spent more time with their interests than they spent with me. Still I had to let go of them a little more, seemed I did not have much left to hold onto, but they needed to learn to fly.

Graduation, when did they get that old? The time flew by making the years feel like a few days. Off to college or starting a life of their own. I had to fight myself to let them totally go, as they had learned to fly. Where they soar to is their choice, their destination and their destiny.

As parents, we have a few short years to guide and teach our children to make wise and good choices. Each accomplishment we celebrate with joy, but we also are letting go a little more, as they are learning to fly.

All my children have flown. We are still connected by heart bond, so I am not totally alone. I now watch as my children learn to let their children go, as my grandchildren learn to fly.

amtolle

Seasonal Traditions

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My family has recipes for every season and holiday. This past Christmas, both my daughters asked that I write down all our traditional family recipes for each holiday. They also threw in requests for my bread recipe, cinnamon rolls and others.

I love to cook. During the holidays, I would have all my children join me in the kitchen to cook the meals. My sons enjoyed cooking as much as the girls. I did not have much money for gifts, but we could celebrate and have fun in the kitchen during the holidays. The foods we cooked did not have a written recipe, but was a pinch of this, a bunch of that, just so of this. They would watch and help. The measurements of how many hands of flour would change as they grew older. When they try to make the foods today, they call mom for instructions or to verify the instructions, what temperature to cook at, etc.

I also have recipes from their grandmother on their dad’s side of the family. Some of her recipes were from her maternal great-grandmother. A couple of the recipes for canning, say to “grind” the ingredients. I remember my mother using an old hand cranked meat grinder to make pickle relish. There were different blade patterns for different functions.

I am hoping next year to give these cookbooks of recipes and pictures to my children and grandchildren as gifts before Christmas. My children all love to cook and try new recipes. My grandchildren are starting to learn. It will be a nice legacy not just from me, but from generations back of their family.

amtolle

Grandparents are Important

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My cousin, Melba, and I talked last night about our parents. Her nephews are asking their grandmother questions about their grandfather of family history. Melba mentioned to them, they needed to ask about their grandmother’s history as it is very different and interesting. Melba’s mother and my father were siblings. They were born into a very poor family at the beginning of the Great Depression.

My dad told me a story he thought was humorous about when he was a small child. His family was picking fruit or vegetables in southern Texas. He heard on the radio the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the men in charge were worried and upset. He ran to his dad, “Dad, we need to hide the Japanese are coming!” His dad told him to calm down, and asked a few questions, then started laughing. “Son, the Japanese are not going to bomb us, Texas is a very long way from Pearl Harbor.” My dad thought the planes were going to bomb him and his family at any moment.

Melba shared when her mom was little she loved to go grocery shopping with her mother as she picked out the flour, based on the color pattern of the sack. Her dresses were made from flour sacks. As a teenager, her mom no longer wanted to go shopping with her family, as they were really poor and she was embarrassed to be seen with them.

Melba could not understand her mother being embarrassed to be with her family. I reminded Melba to look at the situation from her mother’s perspective. Young ladies future was in who they would marry. There were not job opportunities as today. Her mom and my mom were restricted to being a teacher, nurse, or secretary as jobs for descent respectable women. If her mother wanted to get out of poverty, the best way was to marry a man with more money than her family. If she was seen with her poor family, her chances of getting a young man from a middle class or higher economic status to look at her as a potential wife would be less to zero.

Our mothers had very different pressures on them, than we did and our children have. The primary goal for our mothers was to find a man to be a husband, someone to provide a comfortable life for them and to have children for the man. Our mothers told us that was what was expected of them when they graduated from high school.

My father started working at age 12 to help support the family. He and his older brother would work in the crop fields and orchards in California up to Washington. Her mother would watch the young brother while her mother worked in the fields. In the winter they would return to New Mexico, and attend school. My dad and his brother would miss half of the school year to work logging or hunting or some other day labor type job to assist in supporting the family. Her mom was allowed to attend school daily.

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My mom received piano lessons, not for cultural education, but for monetary reasons. Her dad and brother were a country band and they needed a piano player. After a few lessons, mom learned to play by ear. She was playing in the band at age 12 years every weekend. Her younger sister at age 9 years was singing. The money the band playing brought in helped support the family. The family band did start a family history of music through the grandchildren and great grandchildren. A legacy of my mother’s father.

My parents were adults when they bought their first televisions and have a telephone in the house. I grew up with a black and white television and a telephone attached to the wall with the receiver was connected by a short cord and party lines with four or six other families. On party lines you had to count long and short rings to determine if the call was for you or someone else. Long distant calls cost money, you could only call friends who lived in your small area of the town you lived in. I was an adult with children when we could walk around the house with a telephone in hand and you could call within the state before it was long distance. Today, I have a cell phone, with no long distance charges except out of country.

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Grandparents are an important key in the history and genealogy of families. Grandparents remember the family stories, family history and have life experiences with actual historical events. My Uncle recorded some of their dad’s life experiences and songs he used to sing on a cassette. Unfortunately, none of us are able to listen to the tapes, as we do not have cassette players, but the tapes are still cherished. Today, we can record videos on our cellphones, saving the history and stories in digital form for future generations.

amtolle

Letters of Love

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February is when people focus on their love for others and themselves. At the end of every year, I do a self reflection of the year and my life. I have thirteen grandchildren, with one on the way and one in planning.

The sad part is I live so far away from my children and grandchildren. There are times, I feel I do not know my grandchildren, but mostly they do not know me.

On resolution I made for 2022 was to write letters to my grandchildren. To share with them stories of the parents’ childhood and mine. The share memories.

I realize we have email and texting, but that is not the same as getting a letter, just for them in the mail. Think, what do people usually get in the mail? We pay our bills online, very few get paper statements. I get advertisements, credit card and insurance sales pitches, nothing personal.

I remember when my children would get a birthday invitation from a friend in the mail. They were so excited and that was back in the day when mailing something was common. How much more exciting would it be today for a child to get a handwritten letter from their grandmother who lives far away?

I decided to hand write the letters. Hand written letters are not seen with the common use of computers. The easy pecking of the keys to put thoughts on a screen, make a mistake just delete or the computer automatically fills in the words for you.

A hand written letter takes thought to compose the idea and artfully draw the letters on to the paper. The action of writing the letters, words and thoughts is time consuming, but special when received. Each person has a distinct way of moving the pen or pencil to create lines, letters and words forming thoughts. Hand written letters will be giving an actual piece of myself to my grandchildren.

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Perhaps I am old fashion, I am definitely older. I remember writing letters and receiving letters from my grandparents. I felt so grown up and special when I opened the letter addressed to me.

Perhaps, some old fashion ways of doing things should not be taken away due to technology and advancements.

amtolle

Let Us Celebrate Loved Ones

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Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives have changed. There is not ever going back to “the normal” we used to know. Some of the routines of how we celebrated events and special days have evolved.

The constant staying at home was depressing, and I choose to fight back. Starting in 2020 after the lockdowns began, I started putting flower arrangements within the d├ęcor for each season and holiday. I use artificial flowers so they last from year to year, and I do not have to worry about the care. For Valentine’s Day, the flowers are red and white roses. This year I added red candles.

Traditionally for Valentine’s Day, my husband and I would exchange cards and go out to our favorite restaurant, Red Lobster. The once a year visit due to the prices on the menu. Last year, we did not celebrate Valentine’s Day as we were without electricity for four days, had well below freezing temperatures. We were too busy chopping wood and keeping the fireplace going since it was our only source of heat. We did roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire in the fireplace just like camping.

Since the past two years we did not celebrate Valentine’s Day, I decided I would plan something special and surprise my husband. He loves beef steaks grilled. I am fixing steak, with some vegetables grilled as well. I am baking cookies with red M&M’s, as he likes cookies better than cake. We will eat by candlelight. I have gotten him a small gift and card.

Valentine’s Day is one day that focuses on those we love, friends and family, not just couples. Last year I sent Valentine’s to all my grandchildren and I am doing the same this year.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, our family does more phone calls and we try to keep in touch with each other. I send cards and small “I love you” gifts in the mail. We do not visit often. We cancel visits if anyone is feeling a little under the weather, so as to help prevent transmission of illness. We developed a way with video calling to have a “party” together, without physically being there.

What are your plans for the ones you love, children, spouses, friends and family? Maybe it is time to start something new.

Let those you care about know you love them.

amtolle