Family Comes First

This week’s Mom’s Monday Memo is written by Dad, not Mom, so it should probably be added as an edition to Dad’s Dissertation. 

Family comes first. These words are easy to say but more difficult to put into action. I have said this often but have not lived it to the fullest. We get busy raising kids and attending sporting events or performances. We try to pack or cram as much activity into our vacations until we are exhausted. We look to fill our spare time with stimulating or thrilling activities.

imageSeveral events have occurred during the past weeks that have driven home the importance of family and friends. Recently, a number of friends have lost close family members. Without question each friend would have valued one more quiet dinner with their loved one. Dee and I hosted Thanksgiving for 34 family and extended family members. It was so gratifying watching cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents laughing on the front lawn while enjoying dinner.

Dee and I made it a priority to attend my uncle’s 90th birthday celebration in Birmingham this past weekend. Though my uncle has severely impaired speech, his appreciation for his family was clear through his hugs and kisses.


As I think about the most meaningful experiences in my life, I do not think of the places I have travelled or the activities I enjoyed. It is the time with people that really matters. I remember sitting around a table with cousins after a birthday or funeral laughing until we cry. It is the enjoyment of engaging in a board game with our daughters and son-in-laws. I value the conversations I have had with my father or father-in-law while sitting in a small fishing boat on a foggy morning. These are my most memorable times. The common denominator has been taking the time to be attentive to those who are the most important to you.

Before it is too late, slow down and take the time to place your family first. It will be the most important gift that you can give and receive this Christmas season.

20 Fabulous Family Quotes

As we all gather for our traditional Family Weekend, quotes about family seem fitting.

Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. ~Michael J. Fox

Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~ Unknown

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu

Family: where life begins and love never ends. ~Unknown

The family is one of nature’s masterpieces. ~George Santayana
If you don’t believe in ghosts, you’ve never been to a family reunion. ~Ashleigh Brilliant

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future. ~Alex Haley
Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. ~George Burns

The family — that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to. ~Dodie Smith

The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family. ~Lee Iacocca
An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship. ~Spanish Proverb

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there. ~Barbara Bush

One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.~Jonathan Safran Foer

Having a place to go — is a home. Having someone to love — is a family. Having both — is a blessing. ~Donna Hedges

A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss… That’s the trade-off. But I’ll take it all. ~Brad Pitt

When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching — they are your family.  ~Jim Butcher

In time of test, family is best. ~Burmese Proverb

The advantage of growing up with siblings is that you become very good at fractions. ~Robert Brault

This is part of what a family is about, not just love. It’s knowing that your family will be there watching out for you. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame. Not work. ~Mitch Albom

What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.~Mother Teresa

1 Down; 13 to Go

A trip to Birmingham topped our 14 in 14 list.

“Why Birmingham?” “What are you going to do in Birmingham?” I heard this a lot when I’d tell people about our list for 2014, but I’m embarrassed to say that after almost 35 years of marriage, we’ve never made a trip to Birmingham to visit John’s family.

For years, John’s aunt and uncle and other family members have encouraged us to visit, and we decided to take them up on their offer. His cousin Judy and her husband, Mike, invited us to stay in their home where talked until the wee hours of the morning upon our arrival on Friday; and then his cousin Nancy, and her husband, Gary, drove in from Nashville so we had another late night catching up on Saturday.

Saturday we spent the day with John’s Aunt Lucille and Uncle Bud. After a tour of their apartment, we shared pictures and talked about what their Florida family’s been doing since the last time we were together over two years ago.IMG_2217

Then it was time to see Birmingham. We started with lunch at Homewood Gourmet, one of their favorite restaurants. Lucille’s description of the place was perfect, not fancy, but they have good food. I know Bud wanted us to try their favorite, the Carlene, but since we aren’t salmon eaters, we settled on turkey roll ups.IMG_2231

The next stop, The Birmingham Museum of Art. This is Bud’s home away from home. He served as a docent at the museum for years and knows every crook and cranny of the place so we got a first class tour. It’s easy to see why he loves this place.IMG_2232

Sunday we explored the campus of Samford University

the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail

the Sloss National Historic Landmark

and finally Vulcan Park.

Why Birmingham? It’s a family thing!


Christmastime is Family Time

Christmas..a time to celebrate that Christ has come into our world…a time of great joy…a time to recognize the goodness of our world.

The Christmas blessing I celebrate…time with family!

Hiking in Paynes Prairie at LaChua Sink and Silver River State Park.


Making photo props and then wearing them on Christmas Eve followed by Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.

Christmas Day…breakfast, presents, cousins, games.

So thankful for another Christmas of togetherness!


Time to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving Day, a time to reflect thankfulness, also reminds me of the lame answer I gave Sarah last year at Thanksgiving when she asked me what I was thankful for. I said something like family, friends, a job, and good health…not very specific, but absolutely true. So, here’s my more thoughtful answer.

I’m thankful for my parents. To begin, I’m thankful they have been married for over 50 years, an accomplishment in which they take great pride. I believe their strong marriage has had a positive effect on my marriage as well. I’m also thankful both enjoy good health and independence. So few people my age are lucky enough to have both parents well and together…truly something to be thankful for.

Next, I’m thankful to be married to my best friend. There’s nothing better than traveling, talking, eating, and just hanging out with the person I most enjoy being with every day. Now that doesn’t mean every minute of every day is perfect, but being with someone who always makes me number one is pretty special. How many people have a partner who is thoughtful, considerate, funny, and a hard worker? And to think he’s spent his entire adult life surrounded by “girls”! That’s no easy task, but one he wouldn’t trade for the world. And finally, few women are fortunate enough to have a husband who loves HER family as much as she does – parents, brother, sister, nieces, nephews, as well as extended family. How thankful I am that my family is his family!IMG_0706

Of course, that brings me to the three of you. I’m thankful for each of you and for more reasons than I can count, but let me start by explaining what I’m thankful you’re not.

I’m thankful you just watch “Sixteen and Pregnant” instead of actually being sixteen and pregnant.

I’m thankful that you aren’t rude, obnoxious, or mean-spirited like Snookie or others on “The Jersey Shore”.

I’m thankful that you are Meghan, Emily, and Sarah instead of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney. You may never make as much money as the Kardashians, but I’d much prefer daughters who are not self-centered, sleazy, backstabbing, spoiled brats.

I’m thankful you don’t wear clothing made of meat like Lady Gaga.

I’m thankful you’re not in and out of rehab like Britney or Lindsey or Paris.

I’m thankful you’re not suffering from eating disorders like the Olsen twins.

I am thankful you’ve avoided the desire to emulate the behavior of celebrities seen on television, movies, and featured in tabloids. Sure it would be great to have loads of money and everything you’ve ever dreamed of, but family and friends and good health…those are the things to dream of and to be thankful for.

I’m thankful you are healthy and have good sense, and the ability to avoid the crazy behavior popular in today’s society.

I’m thankful you want to spend time with family. It must be miserable to have a family that dreads holidays and spending time together, but that seems to be a common theme in many families.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes this week to ask yourself, what are you thankful for?



Originally published Thanksgiving, 2012 before I began sharing Mom’s Monday Memo so this may explain why some of the references seem a bit dated.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yesterday, April 13, was my Dad’s birthday so it seems like a good time to recognize the fact that not only mother’s dish out advice. In my case, my Dad’s advice doesn’t come so much through his words as his actions. Here’s some of the things I’ve learned from my Dad:

Even though his wallet or cell phone contains pictures of fish instead of his wife, children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren; his family is number one. He’s there to celebrate good times or protect in hard times, just don’t expect to get your picture in one of his books if you don’t catch a fish.

Caught 4/11/13.  11lbs. 8 oz.
Caught 4/11/13.
11lbs. 8 oz.

Make time for fun. Hard work is only worthwhile if there’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Go on vacations. Visit theme parks. Play games…all kinds of games. Go fishing. Tell jokes. Laugh.

Invest in a good grill and make sure you learn how to use it (or marry someone who can). Food from the grill is an essential ingredient in family fun.

Happy Birthday, Dad and thanks for the lessons on family, fun, food, and fish.