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Jurassic Birthday

If you remember last week, we left off with me having a semi-nicer backyard and wanting to find a way to showcase and share it with my closest friends. I thought of making an event called “We-Got-Our-Garage-Painted-We-Have-A-Gazebo Party”.

But my son had other ideas.

My son M always wants to have an outside birthday party. But his birthday is in the cold months of Michigan winter. So he decided we should have a summer birthday party for him. We had just seen the new movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. This influenced us to want a Jurassic theme. We brainstormed and my son had some very specific requests:

1. A T-Rex to greet people with a party hat.
2. A “When Dinosaurs Ruled The World” Banner

Among other things.

And I am guilty in all of this as well. I went from thinking about a Jurassic Park theme to turning our backyard into an actual Jurassic Park.

And my son just assumes all mothers have these magical abilities to make multiple large-scale decorations from scratch. He did doubt that I could get them all done in time. Shows what he knows.

Before I present the photo gallery of the completed party (Oh ya, there is a video too.), I wanted to let you know that I had two distinct seating areas with their own multi-media experience. Inside the gazebo I had the score to Jurassic Park playing on a Bluetooth speaker. On my patio I had the movie Jurassic Park playing on my laptop.

A great idea if you wanted to take it a step further is to project the movie after dark. Unfortunately, we did not have the resources for that to happen.


“Welcome to Jurassic Park!”

Welcoming T-Rex. So realistic that my dog barked at it while I was making it.

The Visitor Center

Jurassic Park Ford Explorer photo op.

Don’t Touch!

The T-Rex escaped its enclosure!

Park Information board

YouTube link:

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.

My Favorite Christmas Ornaments

To be truthful, I actually have several favorite ornaments I make sure get hung on the Christmas tree every year. But these are probably the oldest.

Antique icicle ornaments

Antique icicle ornaments

My gramma had these ornaments. My mom had these ornaments for our tree the whole time I was growing up. And now my son watches me hang them on our tree every year. (But he doesn’t get to touch them, because I don’t trust him any further than I can throw him.)

Does it get anymore Christmas than this?

Does it get anymore Christmas than this?

For more on my childhood Christmases, click here:

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

Have We Forgotten Our Dead?

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My mom, my son M, and I visited three cemeteries the Monday prior to Memorial Day, to decorate family members graves with flowers.  Two of the three cemeteries was very unsatisfactory.

The first one, St. Joseph’s Catholic cemetery in Adrian, Michigan, had their drive blocked with orange construction cones.  It seemed they had decided that a week before Memorial Day was the optimal time to put fresh tar in the cracks of the paved drive.

Really?  How does that make sense?  To block people out of the cemetery at the one time of year when they are guaranteed to want to visit?!

As I didn’t want to get fresh tar on my car (the hail damage is enough to give it character), my mom and I made alternate arrangements to come back on Wednesday.  Surely it would be open again by then, right?

Next we visited Pleasant View cemetery in Blissfield, Michigan, where my dad is buried.  There was no sign of the flags that they always put on the graves of veterans.  The place had not even been mowed.  There were branches and stray bits of liter everywhere.

My mom is very particular about millions of things in this world.  Most of which I DO NOT and WILL NOT ever understand.  But on one thing I do agree with her, and that is that you should place your flowers at the cemetery after they have mowed.  Otherwise, your artificial flowers get dirt and grass thrown all up in them and look terrible.  But, having no other options, we placed our flowers at that time.  Next to my dad’s tombstone is a concrete marker in the shape of a lamb for his sister, who was born and died before he was ever born.  It probably isn’t made out of very quality materials to begin with, and it has been there approaching 100 years.  But we could plainly see where the riding lawn mower clips it when it goes between the stones.

You can see where I pushed away the dirt with my foot to expose the original resting position of the lamb.

You can see where I pushed away the dirt with my foot to expose the original resting position of the lamb.


These stones are the only thing left to mark these people’s lives (in this instance, of a deceased baby who never even got to live her life), and you have to carelessly push them over on their foundations?

When my mom and I returned to the St. Joseph’s Catholic cemetery on Wednesday, we witnessed the same thing.  The place had not yet been mowed.  The tombstones on the ends had been moved on their foundations, from previous passes with the mower.  I tried to push one back into position, unsuccessfully, and almost gave myself a hernia.

Oh, and FYI, there were STILL cones blocking the entrance to St. Joseph’s.  It appeared as if they had seal-coated the drive as well.  I drove around the cones.  (It had already rained the night before.  Any of the coating that was going to come off would have already been washed off.)

Aside from the shotty groundskeeping, I also noticed that WE, as surviving family members as a whole, are not decorating.  The entire section my dad is located in was almost devoid of flowers.  Everyone in his section generally died in 1980 or before.

Now, looking across the cemetery to the newer section, it did appear to be very decorated.  I guess all the people in the ground in the new section are the ones who used to decorate the tombstones in the old section.

How sad is that?

Even sadder is that they never told their children that someone had to keep decorating the grandmas’ and grandpas’ when they themselves had moved on.

Decorating gravestones is very similar to how I feel about sending greeting cards.  I know that it is an extra expense, but we lose a little of our humanity when we decide it is not worth our time and bother anymore.  A website exists called Find-A-Grave.  It is a great resource for genealogists.  But, you can also leave “virutal flowers” for people.  I have an issue with the “social media-ization” of the dead.


The Bounty of My Garden

Most people garden and grow a plentiful bounty of vegetables that make their way onto their dinner tables and into their stomachs.

Our garden? Eh, not so much.

Gourd collection on the front steps

We got gourds. Lots of ’em. And they are large too. I, personally, don’t know anyone who eats a gourd. But they are pretty. And it saves us money on Halloween decorations. Did I mention we have a few small white pumpkins as well?

This started last fall. After Halloween last year, when the decorative fruit started to get squishy, my husband threw our white pumpkins and gourds into the corner of the backyard we call our garden.

We call it the garden, but no matter how many times he rototills the ground, grass insists on growing there. Which is super humorous, because we can’t get grass to grow in the rest of our yard at all!

This spring my husband planted sweet corn. But, surprisingly, the gourds came up as well. My husband almost mowed off the vines, but I knew what they were from having unsuccessfully tried to grow pumpkins year after year growing up.

Our Garden

So, the corn grew and the gourds grew. We called it my husband’s garden and I left it up to him to care for it. But as it became clear that we are in a drought, I took pity and watered it when I remembered to. He forgot to thin out the corn. And he forgot to harvest it, or rather, kept waiting for the ears to get bigger. (They never did.)

Meanwhile the vines for the gourds and the white pumpkins crept through the chain link fence and tried to climb the neighbors’ tree–multiple times. It grew out through the chain link fence toward the street. It grew every which way in our backyard, increasing the size of our garden by three-fold. It was like something out of The Great Green Turkey Creek Monster.

We started harvesting the fruits of our labor last month. We got most of them to shelter before a freak hailstorm hit. Only a few were damaged. What do you do with a butt-ton of gourds? A few years ago when we grew them (similar seeding process), we tried to sell them. (I think my mother-in-law may have been the only customer, bless her heart.) This year I gave a couple to my mom. The rest, well, we will use them to decorate.

More gourds

And re-seed for next year.

Now, to get rid of those corn stalks. Ooo! Maybe I could get my husband to bundle them up for decoration as well!

Yes, we have a very bountiful garden. What do we grow? Oh, exterior harvest decorations, of course!

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