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Fall Colors in Weston, MO

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fall Colors in Weston, MO

I have mentioned a few times that I am really happy the leaves changed colors this year before they all fell. Sure enough, on Monday we had a snow storm and now most of the colors are gone! Luckily I got out and took some pictures of the fall colors and while it may be too late to see them in real life, it’s not too late to share them here.

A few weeks back, Dave and I went with the boys to Weston, MO. (Gabbie was busy with dance photos). We also went to Weston last fall, so maybe a visit to Weston is a new annual tradition. This time, we went to the state park and then on a tour of McCormick Distilling Company.


The boys enjoyed looking through the telescopes at Leavenworth, KS on the other side of the Missouri River.


They even let me take a picture of them together – amazing!


Before we left the park, we also stopped by some pretty yellow trees where lots of people were taking photos.

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Let’s Talk Gratitude

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Let’s Talk Gratitude

One of the questions for TBB Asks this month was whether or not you have ever kept a gratitude journal. I said I haven’t, because I worry about coming up with new things to be thankful for every day. At the end of my post, I asked for advice about gratitude journaling and I got a few replies.

From Rebecca Jo, the self-proclaimed queen of gratitude journals:

“I always get a calendar every year that has a lot of space to write in on like a weekly area - big enough so you can try & get 3 things a day down. & then either put it by your bed, or by the coffee pot - & every morning when you wake up, or every night before you go to bed, just write down 3 things that was a blessing in the day. It’s easy to do once you get in the habit of doing it.”

From Mandie:

“I used to do my gratitude journal either right away in the morning or before going to bed. Even on the worst days, I could still find something to be thankful for.”

From Leslie:

“I keep mine by the bed and write something SOMETHING in it every night. Some days it can be a struggle to think of something I am grateful for. But when I think on it a minute, there is always something, always lots of things to be grateful for.”

From Lauren:

“…sometimes it’s the really small things – ‘the kids were in a good mood’, ‘I had a favorite food’, ‘I slept in’, etc. etc.”

Thank you to those of you who replied! I am grateful for YOU!

One of my concerns about keeping a gratitude journal is whether I would be able to come up with new items daily – for example, every day I’m grateful for my coffee and for the internet! I feel like I would do better having a journal with prompts in it to help me think of things to be grateful for. I found a few that look interesting:

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And now, some things I’m currently grateful for. These prompts are from

What smell are you grateful for today?

Coffee in the morning.

What technology are you grateful for?

The internet.

What color are you grateful for?


What food are you most grateful for?


What sound are you grateful for today?


What in nature are you grateful for?

The sun, for warmth and the colors of sunsets and sunrises.

What place are you most grateful for?

My house.

What abilities are you grateful for?

Writing, being a mom.

What sight are you grateful for today?

The snow gently falling outside while I’m happily inside.

What season are you grateful for?


Who in your life are you grateful for?

My family.

What moment this week are you most grateful for?

Turning 40.

What form of expression are you most grateful for?


What small thing that you use daily are you grateful for?

My phone.

What friend/family member are you grateful for today?

My friend who sent me a very generous birthday present and also texted me about my blog post from yesterday.

What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?

Knitting, which I really need to do more of!

What are you grateful for today? Should I purchase one of the above gratitude journals?


10 Holiday Tips From Your Jewish Friend

Monday, November 12, 2018


This month’s topic for 10 on the 10th with Simple Purposeful Living is 10 Holiday Tips. My first thought when I saw this topic was that I would have to sit this one out. I don’t celebrate Christmas and my holiday season is really in the fall, when we have our most important and busy holidays. But then I started thinking maybe someone would appreciate my thoughts on being Jewish during Christmastime. I’m still not sure about writing this, because most of what I have to say has been said before, and not without controversy, but here we go.

1. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. I feel like this is important to note because I sometimes feel like people forget that this little fact. There are plenty of people who will argue that Christmas is an American holiday and it’s secularized, so everyone should celebrate it. For me, it’s religious and no matter how secularized it has become, it is still religiously based.

2.  Just because I don’t celebrate Christmas doesn’t mean I have a problem with anyone else celebrating Christmas. I understand the Christmas spirit and the goodwill and the family time that comes with it. I just don’t want to be pressured into celebrating it myself.

3. I am not offended when people wish me Merry Christmas if they don’t know me. But when people who do know me and my family still ask us how our Christmas was and my kids have to tell them yet again that we don’t celebrate it…it can hurt.

4. What about Hanukkah? Well, Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas. Just because one religion has a holiday it doesn’t mean that every other religion has to have an equal and similar holiday. What the two holidays have in common is that they both occur in December and they both have been highly commercialized when it comes to gift-giving.

5. You don’t have to try to make things equal by playing that one popular Hanukkah song on your Christmas music station or by putting menorahs on your Christmas trees in public places. I would personally rather be left out of it.

6. I hear about people saying they celebrate “both,” meaning both Christmas and Hanukkah. That’s fine, but if you do so in order to teach your children about Judaism, I would suggest also introducing other holidays like Passover, Sukkot, or even Purim, because when up against Christmas, Christmas will win.

7. I think the best advice I have is to be respectful.

8. A quote from one of my favorite websites, – “Most American Jews feel a sort of ambivalence about Hanukkah. On the one hand, most of them know that Hanukkah is not a big deal, and they don't want to make a big deal about it. On the other hand, Christmas is everywhere, unavoidable and overwhelming, and Jews want something of their own to counterbalance it. This is the primary motivation behind elaborate Hanukkah decorations and enormous Hanukkah menorahs in public areas: Hanukkah is not very important, but asserting our Jewish identity and distinctiveness and existence in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform to a non-Jewish norm is important. Pressuring Jews to conform to that norm or to participate in Christmas events if they don't want to is inconsiderate at best.”

9. Don’t assume. I am one person and my views aren’t necessarily the same as anyone else’s. If you have a Jewish friend and you have questions, ask them.

10. A few articles on this topic you might want to read:

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40 Things I’ve Learned Along The Way

Friday, November 9, 2018


Well, I’m turning 40 tomorrow. I still feel a lot younger, most of the time! In honor of my birthday, I’m sharing 40 things I’ve learned about myself along the way. I hope you find them interesting.

1. I can be very lazy about things, but once I get started I usually can complete tasks.

2. I prefer summer over winter.

3. I put off taking out my winter coat every year, but in the spring I’m quick to pull out my flip flops.

4. I’m not very coordinated.

5. I have at least a bit of aphantasia – the inability to picture things in my mind.

6. I think that’s why I like taking pictures.

7. I lack self-control when it comes to eating.

8. I am not a runner.

9. I’m scared of cancer, antisemitism, mass shootings, and deportations.

10. I don’t like eggplant, mushrooms, pepper, or cilantro.

11. I enjoy researching subjects including genealogy and history.

12. I like shopping and getting a good deal.

13. I am easily annoyed.

14. I believe in causes and would like to do more to help those causes.

15. I like visiting new places but I don’t love the process of getting to the new places.

16. If I could have a magical power I would choose apparition.

17. I like to create but I’m not very creative.

18. I can’t carry a tune but I like to sing.

19. I like most dogs better than I like most people.

20. I think I’m funnier than most other people think I am.

21. I am a bit socially awkward because I worry people will find me annoying. It stems back to middle school bullying.

22. I tend to be an introvert but I also like going out with friends.

23. My favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

24. If I eat carbs for breakfast I suffer a low blood sugar reaction after a few hours.

25. I like trivia.

26. My memory is not as good as it used to be.

27. It drives me crazy when my kids are hyper and climb on top of each other.

28. It makes me happy when my kids play together.

29. If I drink alcohol, it has to be sweet or I can’t finish it.

30. I love babies when I can give them back to their parents if they get fussy.

31. My allergy to sulfa drugs also includes the topical version.

32. I am better at thinking about things than actually doing them.

33. I love the beauty of nature.

34. I don’t like being told what to do or how to think.

35. I believe everyone should be able to be who they are.

36. I don’t like discussing birth stories.

37. I don’t like to read memoirs because I think they are self-indulgent. I do like to read blogs though!

38. I like reading and watching fiction.

39. I am usually good at multi-tasking.

40. Disney World is my favorite place.

I hope you feel like you learned a little bit about me after reading this post!


Laura Plantation Tour

Thursday, November 8, 2018


After our time spent exploring New Orleans, we decided to take a trip out of town on our last day in LA. We decided to visit a plantation and from the advice we received, we decided to visit Laura Plantation. This plantation site includes a museum on the history of slavery at the plantation and a tour of the manor house and grounds. The plantation is named after Laura, who was the fourth of four generations of women who ran the farm.

I didn’t take photos of the museum exhibits because they were mostly photos and written text about the stories of the slaves. They were very captivating and sad stories, but photos wouldn’t have done the exhibits justice. You can read more about some of the slaves here.

The one photo I took in the museum was of this Uncle Remus / Br’er Rabbit display. The Uncle Remus stories are variations of traditional stories that originated in Senegal and were brought to America by enslaved Africans. A neighbor of the Laura Plantation heard the stories from freed slaves and later published the translated stories. Therefore it is said that the Br’er Rabbit stories were collected at this plantation.


This is the main house, restored and painted as it was in the 1800s. It was built by slaves in 11 months.


On the grounds are the remainders of the slave cabins.


One interesting thing we learned on the tour is that even though slavery ended, it was difficult for the freed slaves to leave their homes on the plantation. They were made to work to repay “debts” but they were never allowed to actually complete their repayment. Descendants of the slaves remained on the plantation until 1977.

We also drove past two other plantations, just to see them from the outside. The top photo is Oak Alley and the bottom is called San Francisco.


It was definitely interesting learning about this time in American history and I’m glad the tour at Laura addressed the history of the slaves as well as the plantation owners.