My Mother-in-law and how she shows me unconditional love…

One of the best things that happened to me a few days ago, on my birthday, was receiving a birthday card from my Mother-in-law.  Most years she forgets to send out cards so I’m ALWAYS honored when I go to the mailbox and see her handwriting on the outside of an envelope.  I’ve got to give her credit though because she’s a whole lot better about remembering than I am!  I’m ashamed to admit that I truly suck at making a day special for my loved ones.  The people living in my house reap the rewards but those that don’t live here rarely get remembered.

The point of the post isn’t to talk about remembering though.  It’s to tell you how I’ve been SO blessed by my husband’s family.  You all know by now, what MY family is like.  I don’t know what it’s like to have a close family or what it’s like to truly be loved by a family.  I know what it’s like to be “judged” and “used” by my family.  It was a shock when I was shown unconditional love by a family who didn’t have to show me love.

First of all, I want to tell you what the card said from my Mother-in-law…

“Any woman can be a daughter-in-law.

But it takes a certain spirit,

an openness,and generosity of heart

to make the “in-law” part

drop away,

leaving that comfortable word

“daughter”.

You’re a caring person…

loving wife…

giving mother…

and your presence

in the life of our family

is simply a gift.  “

Dang!  That made me cry.  I don’t even know how to accept love or compliments!  I guess it hit me so hard because my own mother doesn’t feel the same way AND I know that Katherine (Mother-in-law) really feels this way.

She didn’t have to accept me the way she did.  Ben’s family had gone through the horror of his 3 other marriages before I arrived.  They’d “accepted” every one of these former wives, even when they knew they’d never last.  Ben had a definite “history” when it came to women, that’s for sure.  But that’s a post for another day!  I’ll save THAT for when he makes me mad 😉  lol  I need to tell you that these people are Christian’s of the Southern Baptist type.  They scared me and that’s NO joke!  I’m Catholic and it’s no secret that Baptists don’t like Catholics.  These people actually READ the bible and LIKE the bible.  Except for religion class in Catholic school (a million years ago), I’d never read even part of the bible.  Ben’s family doesn’t just go to church on Sunday morning but Sunday night and Wednesday nights.  Their recreational activities revolve around church.  Mine never have.  They’re also very “Southern” people who didn’t really know or trust “Yankee’s” such as they think I am!  lol  They’re the type of people who say “Well, bless her heart”, in the sweetest most loving way.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that Southern people say this only when they think you’ve done something really stupid and they’re too kind to call you out on it.

When I tell you about Ben’s Christian family, you might imagine people who don’t live what they preach.  Christians get a bad rap for being hypocrites but not THESE people and most especially NOT his mother!  She lives what she preaches and believes.  Only she doesn’t preach at all.  She leads by example.  She very quietly sits and reads her bible and only talks about it if you ask her about it.  She’ll mention something in passing but doesn’t shove it down your throat.  She’s so kind and loving that you can actually FEEL her love as soon as you get out of the car to hug her.  I’ve never been around anyone like this.  She believes in being a submissive wife.  It’s no secret that I DO NOT believe that I should EVER be submissive to ANYONE, but most especially my husband, her son.  I could go on and on.

Okay, you can imagine the amount of adjustment my new Texas family had to go through and that I had to go through for a few years.  Although, they never let me see that they were having to adjust to me.  I’m loud and bossy and sarcastic.  I say words like “God” when I get mad (that’s a very bad word to them) and I call people “dumb asses”.  They probably dropped to their knees at night in prayer over the things I’ve said and did!  They only showed the world how proud they were of me though.  I have ONLY ever been shown love by my mother-in-law.  She’s cried with me and laughed with me.  She’s felt my losses as if they were her own and she’s shared her thoughts and feelings with me.

Most of all, she’s treated my children as if they were her own grandchildren.  I wasn’t expecting that and neither were my kids.  We knew they’d TREAT my children with love and respect but we just weren’t prepared for them to actually LOVE them.  My girls feel closer to Katherine than they do their own biological grandparents.

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(Here’s one of my daughters snuggling in Memaw’s bed with “Ming-Shoe” the doll that Katherine made for her.  Julia feels safe and comfy in Memaw’s bed and I love that!)

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(she just sits, ready to give love to all her little one’s no matter their age)

Most of the time I spend in Texas, Katherine allows me to run her house the way I do everywhere I go.  You know the Mother-in-law on the sit com “Everybody Loves Raymond” right?  That’s how I expect mother-in-laws to be but not Katherine.  She’s happy to sit and read a book while I destroy her kitchen.  And TRUST me, I DO know how to destroy a kitchen.  She’s so gracious and never imposes her will on me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I impose my will on her.  She’s not used to a whole lot of commotion and when I’m there, I bring my chaotic life crashing into her’s.  I’ll never forget the time she asked me if she could “help” in the kitchen.  Of course, I thought I was being considerate and polite when I told of “of COURSE you CAN’T help in the kitchen”.  I just wanted her to sit there and rest.  I felt like I didn’t want her to go through any trouble when my family was there.  For YEARS I did this.  Finally, a few years ago, she so softly, and kindly explained to me that sometimes a mother wants to feel wanted and needed.  We live over 10 hours away from her and she never gets to be a “mom”.  Sometimes she likes to show US how much she loves us.  Wow!  She didn’t want me to be ashamed because she’d NEVER want anyone to feel shame BUT I was SO ashamed.  I learned to step out of the way and allow her to be the mom when she wants to be the mom.

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(here’s me not only taking over her kitchen but taking over her kitchen AND even wearing her apron!  lol)

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(Another picture of the mess I make in her kitchen but THIS time I had some help from my little niece Selah!)

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(here I am even taking over her Christmas tree…  Geeze, I’m just so BOSSY!  lol)

Like I’ve already said, my Mother-in-law teaches by example.  She rarely needs words.  She’s watched, through the years, as I’ve ignorantly allowed my children to get themselves into trouble.  I was a LOT more lenient than she would have been but I had more faith in my girls than I should have.  I allowed one of my daughters to spend WAY too much time with some boys she met and became friends with in Texas.  They were friends of the family’s so I felt like it would be okay.  It got to the point where she was never home for dinner and she would only come in once a day to say hello to Memaw and GG (Katherine’s mother).  I didn’t want to be too strict with my daughter and I wanted her to have fun too so I allowed her to spend the night camping with these friends and family.  I could tell that it was bothering Katherine (mine and my daughter’s actions were not only improper but just down right rude) so I began to make my daughter stay home more often.  After all, we were only there for a week or two.  Later, we found out that my daughter was doing things that I won’t mention here.  Point being that Katherine knew she was in trouble and instead of imposing her opinions or judgments  on me, she quietly let me know that I was being too lenient by her actions.  She prayed for my daughter and cried when she learned that my daughter was hurt and was going down the wrong road.  She cried real tears like she would do for her own biological granddaughter.  I still can’t get over that.

Over last summer, when I was hospitalized in ICU, my husband called his family and I guess told them that I wasn’t going to make it.  They’ve been in this rodeo more than once with me and have never made the drive to St. Louis to come to the hospital.  I didn’t expect them to this time either because Katherine is responsible for taking care of her 93 year old mother.  Besides the fact that her OWN health isn’t great.  The trip is very hard on them and impossible now for GG.  My sister-in-law told me that Katherine prayed about it and felt like God was telling her to “go now”.  They immediately packed the family up and made the hard drive with 2 small children and 3 adults JUST to see me one more time.  I don’t think they expected me to be conscious but when they walked into my hospital room, I was awake and able to speak.  I believe I was hanging on because my husband told me that I needed to hang on just a little while longer to see “Mom”.  I remember feeling SO much love radiating from Katherine when she walked through that door!  It made me WANT to get better for her.  I promised her that it wasn’t my time yet and that God was good and I was sure I was going to live.  Actually, I was more worried about her making that trip and then turning around and needing to go home the very next day.  SHE wasn’t though.  She was there for me, to hug me and to hold my hand and pray, in person, over me.  The way a REAL mother would.

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(Katherine lovingly does her mother’s hair for church so that GG can feel beautiful too.)

I feel unworthy to call Katherine “Mom”.  I know she wants me to and she certainly deserves the title…  but something inside me won’t let me most days.  I feel like to be her “daughter” , I should be a whole lot more deserving or full of grace.  I’m getting better about it but I’ve been in the family for 12 years.  Today, instead of feeling unworthy, I just want to take a second to thank God for this woman who has shown my family and I so much love.  I’m smart enough to recognize that’s it’s not very often that a wife can brag about the fact that they actually LIKE their mother-in-law.  I don’t just LOVE her, I respect her and actually LIKE her.  Thank you God for this woman.  Because of her, I know the love of a real mother and I am blessed.

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(she loves us all like we were her very own)

Restaurant Style File Mignon

You guys HAVE to know the secret to the absolute BEST way to do filet mignons!  It has NOTHING to do with the grill, either.  *shock*  Actually, any of my “foodie” friends may already know this but it’s something new to me and I feel compelled to share 🙂  I teased you with a pic on my hubby’s birthday post.

This is a revised recipe I got off of Pinterest.  If you haven’t tried cooking steaks this way, PLEASE do yourself a favor and give it a whirl.  I PROMISE you that all your family and friends will think you’re the bomb!  You know how you go to your favorite steak house and the steak is better than anything you could grill, ever?  Yeah, this is how you do it!

Restaurant Style Pan Seared Filet Mignon

Ingredients:

4 8 oz filet mignons

4 tsp sea salt

8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 sticks butter

2 TBSP olive oil

4 cloves chopped fresh garlic

2 TBSP dried parsley

2 TBSP dried thyme

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

Take 1 stick of butter, softened.  Mix well with garlic, thyme, parsley and lemon zest.  Form into a log and chill.  Generously season each side of the filets with salt and pepper (approximately 1 tsp of BOTH salt and pepper per side – TRUST me, it sounds like a lot of salt but the salt acts to form the crust on the steak and you really DO need it).  Heat the other stick of butter and the olive oil in a CAST IRON skillet to a SCREAMING HOT temperature.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Sear the filets in the extremely hot skillet for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until a nice brown crust forms.  While the steaks are searing, continuously spoon the butter from the pan on top of the steaks.  When the steaks are done searing, place in the preheated oven (center rack) in the same cast iron skillet.  Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the temperature reads 135 degrees (medium rare).  During the last minute of cooking, take that delicious herb butter that should be chilling and glob a generous dab of butter on each steak.  The butter won’t be melted ALL the way when you’re ready to take out of the oven.  Let steak sit for 5 minutes before you serve.  The juices will stay inside the steak this way.

*135 degrees is medium rare.  Obviously not everyone likes the cows to be still mooing so cook a little longer if you don’t like that much red.  I think if you’re going to spend the money on filet mignon, you shouldn’t over cook it.  You’ll want that tender flavor.  135 degrees is PERFECT for us 🙂

Birthday boy and other stuff :-)

What a week!  Can I just tell you that I’ve realized, this week, that I’m INDESTRUCTIBLE?  If this week didn’t kill me, NOTHING can.  Can I also share with you that one thing I’ve FINALLY gotten through my head is that I should NEVER EVER EVER get too complacent or self assured especially when it comes to my kids?  If there’s ANYTHING you’ve ever learned from me, this should be it.  I want you to know that when you FINALLY feel like you’re doing something right and that you have at least ONE kid who seems to be rolling right along on the right track,  you should probably dig a little deeper.  Or maybe you shouldn’t.  Maybe it’s a VERY good thing to live in denial.  I wish I still lived there! I’ll have to tell you about my little angel later.

Right now, I want to share with you some other fine points of my week 🙂  My husband took the week off so we’ve been bonding.  It was his birthday on Tuesday and he likes to take some of his vacation time to chill out and regroup.  He COULDN’T have known all hell would break out during this week.  *snicker*  It all actually worked out very well that he was here though, because he kept me from killing the teenage munchkin.  See, I’ve told you all before that there ARE no accidents!  It wasn’t a coincident that he took off on the week that I find out about all her shenangins.  I think that was a GOD thing.  lol  Thank you God for saving my lil precious “angel’s” life…  I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself had I REALLY wrung her neck the way I wanted to!  lol

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Here’s how we celebrate birthday’s around here.  We do whatever the birthday boy wants to do. Ben LOVES his guns and he’s wanted to get me at the shooting range for a while now.  We shot his 9mm, his 357 magnum and the one I personally love shooting, the little bitty BB type gun… a 22.

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I can’t say I’m really a fan of guns.  I’ve had some pretty nightmarish experiences when I was young.  I was the victim so I have PTSD when it comes to hearing gun shots.  The only way to sweeten the pot and GET me to the range was to tell me that I could learn to protect myself from those zombies that I’m positive I’ll have to learn to kill during the zombie apocalypse!  lmao  I’m a HUGE Walking Dead fan:-)

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Here’s the mess of guns we used to kill those zombies!

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Here’s the 357 magnum that kept jamming up.  We would have been up a creek if the zombies got too close and we had to depend on THIS thing working.  Time to find a gunsmith 😉

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I’m actually a really good shot (most of the time).  I’m not sure how smart my husband is for wanting to teach me to love guns.  Wise people have told him that this could be dangerous for HIS life.  I have to agree.  My temper and a gun?  Maybe NOT the smartest idea he’s had.

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He had to eat this cake all by himself because he’s the ONLY one who likes coconut.  Coconut is one of the only foods that will make me gag.  Oh and fish.  I can’t even bear the smell of fish.  But it turned out pretty, huh?  It’s a 3 layer, made from scratch coconut cake.

I also made a killer filet mignon and homemade herb butter!  OMG!  It was SO good 🙂

Happy birthday Honey!  Here’s hoping for another 45 years!

Our weekend, good and bad, in Pics :-) SO much fun!

Awesome weekend!  As much as I hate coming home to reality, it was SO worth it!  As I’ve said before in THIS post,  the hubby and I have been celebrating our anniversary and Valentines Day since before we were even married.  We’d forgotten that we actually had to lie and say we were married just to be able to go 12 years ago.  The rules were (back then) that it was for married couples only.  We FELT married, so we went….  Did I tell you that I was never much of a rule follower?  lol

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On the way to the Trout Lodge, Hubby tells me that he felt SO bad because he knew I was expecting flowers but he didn’t have time to order any.  I knew he was lying and, turns out he was.  lol  He knew I’d told him before that he didn’t have to order roses all the time, it gets boring.  THIS time, he ordered something that helped commemorate the ten years that we’ve been married.  Did you know that TIN actually is the metal that represents 10 years?  Hubby made sure he ordered something that came in tin or aluminum.  Cute, huh?

(here’s a pic of the dining room mantle….  I’m FINALLY learning how to work my fancy new camera!  lol)

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The first night there was sad, but relaxed.  Sad because a couple that had been going for years (like us) were there.  The wife was in a wheelchair and she was given 6 to 8 weeks to live (cancer).  At dinner time, we witnessed her go into seizures and everyone rushing to her with oxygen.  They laid her on the ground in the rescue position so I knew something was very wrong.  It was all low keyed because the YMCA didn’t want to ruin anyone elses weekend so we really didn’t know how serious it was.  I felt SO much conviction to pray over this woman (and TRUST me, I’m not the kind of person to do this kind of thing…. I’ll pray a quiet prayer and NOT make a spectacle of myself).  I fought and fought with myself, but in the end, God won out and I walked over to ask her poor husband if I COULD lay my hands on her and pray.  I’m Catholic, folks!  Catholics don’t DO these kinds of things.  However, given the fact that SO many people are praying for my own terminal condition, I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I’d not listened to God’s very loud nudging.  I’m glad I did.  Her husband cried and hugged me, thanking me from the bottom of his heart.  I was the ONLY person who walked up to him (besides the people he came with) to show concern.  I know that not a lot of people feel comfortable with a public display of prayer and I can’t blame them.  What I can NOT understand is why, when people see something like this, they don’t go outside the box and show love or concern?  I can’t tell you how many people came up to me later to say “thank you” and that they WANTED to do the same thing but were afraid.  DON’T be too afraid to hug someone or to ask if you can do something for them.  It might be YOU one day who’s in this situation.  Pats on the back make me uncomfortable but I’m SURE glad I did something for the man.  I knew, as soon as I laid my hands on her that she was not going to be okay.  I felt it.  I knew my prayers would reach God but they’d be more for her husband.  As it turned out, I was right.  She was flown by helicopter to a good hospital and placed on life support.  All she wanted was ONE LAST WEEKEND with her husband.  It makes me so sad and angry that she couldn’t have her weekend.

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Here’s me BEFORE the tragedy in the dining room.

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Next… we decided to walk down to the lake and join in on some “romantic music by the bonfire”…  LMBO  Maybe NOT so romantic.  The singer only knew Willie Nelson songs and NOT well.  PLUS there was an old hippie couple that were trying to sing loudly, all the wrong words and as off key as you can get.  Cute, but after a while, we just had to leave.  lol

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This is Hubby by the campfire.  LOVED the way this turned out!

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Here’s me and Hubby snuggled up by the campfire.  The cool thing was that even though it was single digit cold and the windchill was FRIGID, the YMCA workers supplied blankets and coffee and hot chocolate.

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Here’s the YMCA worker that kept our campfire hot 🙂  He’s a cutie!  He’s here from somewhere out west, working on his recreation degree.  They get to stay for free, in a cabin, as long as they work at the Y.  He’ll be here until May.  Sounds like a fun job to have!

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This is the view from our balcony.  Not such a bad way to wake up, huh? I had my coffee and just outside in the FREEZING cold, trying to learn that dang camera!  lol

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After breakfast, Ben and I went on a little walk.  We ended up in the Tee Pee, trying to get warm.  The original plan was to stay there and make Valentines cards.  We decided that THAT didn’t sound like much fun so we left…  SO wishy washy!

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Here’s me inside the tee pee, taking advantage of the warmth!

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We TRIED to go on a hike on Saturday.  It was so cold that I whimped out and had to turn around and go back.  Along the way, I did get some good shots of the lodge, it’s self.

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This is a pic of the woods BEFORE I whimped out!  lol  Not sure why I love this but I do.  It’s kind of spooky to me and I wouldn’t mind seeing how this turns out on canvas:-)

Me playing Dominos. 2013

Ben's looking a little aggrivated at me!  lol

We gave up on the outdoor activities and decided to play dominos!  He kicked my butt, as usual.  I’m going to learn ONE day, not to bet against this man.  He will ALWAYS win.  BTW… I’m a sore loser.  BUT, I did pay up!  lol

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After Dominos, Ben and I did the wine and cheese tasting.   GREAT shot of this random stranger shoveling it in, huh?  lmbo  Ben looks like he’s going to stab this guy with his “kabob”.  BTW…  the YCMA provided all the cheese, several different fondues and lots of fruit and snacks for dipping.  We could have all the free wine we wanted.  You have to TASTE a lot in order to make a good decision on what the perfect bottle to buy is, right?  lol

Candle light dinner, view from 5th floor.  2013

View of the dining room from our floor.  It’s set up for the candle light dinner on Saturday night.

The dining room decorations for 2013

Dining room decorations hanging from the ceiling.

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Here’s the lady who serenaded us with wedding music all the way through dinner.  Can you see Ben yelling at me to COME ON because he’s holding the elevator for too long and he didn’t want it to keep beeping?

Me and Ben's valentine pic.  2013

Me and the Hubby before our candlelight dinner 🙂

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Cute little table decorations.  The YMCA staff actually made these candle holders for every table out of wood they found on hiking trails.

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Our little dinner.  It was DELICIOUS this year.  The prime rib was SPECTACULAR, so was everything else:-)

We danced a little after the dinner.  Not TOO much, as Ben was too hot in the sweater I made him wear.  Poor thing…  I just get SO tired of all the pictures of him in the same “old man” short sleeved shirts he likes to wear.  Why do men insist on wearing the same shirts you bought for them 10 years ago, even though they don’t fit anymore?  He’s got a closet full of NICE clothes I buy for him…  *sigh*.  lol  At least he wore SOMETHING different and tried to dance a while.  We slow danced to “My Girl” and I tried to get him to dance to “Proud Mary (Rolling on the River)”.  In the end… I was the only one dancing to Proud Mary!  lol  Well me and a bunch of other people, just not the hubby 😦

DSC_0106Beautiful sunrise at trout lodge on Sunday.  2013

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Good bye Trout Lodge!  See you in the summer when we can Kayak and swim and play sand volleyball!  This winter thing is AWESOME and even romantic but I’m getting WAY too old to enjoy the post nasal drip that comes with it!  lol

10 years and counting! Our upcoming annual anniversary celebration to the Trout Lodge…

I’m so excited that I can hardly STAND myself right now!  lol  The hubby and I are going on our yearly Valentine’s Day weekend adventure at the Trout Lodge.  It’s run by the YMCA of the Ozarks (Potosi MO).  Like I said, we’ve been doing this every year since we’ve been married.  It’s a little pricey but SO worth it.  Besides our anniversary is on February 22 so we kind of use that for our excuse to spend a bunch of money.  lol  THIS year, we’ll be married 10 years!  TOTALLY amazing to me because I didn’t think it was possible that I could be with anyone legally, for 10 years!  lol  Pretty huge deal for BOTH of us!  lol

This is how the weekend will KIND of go…  We get to our private cabin, or condo (not sure what he reserved cause he always keeps it a surprise) and I’ll open the door and see the most BEAUTIFUL bouquet of roses.  Here’s  a pic of the roses he gave me in 2010 🙂

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After we get unpacked, we’ll probably go grab something to eat in their festive dining room.  They serve 3 meals a day, all included in the price.  Breakfast is pretty good.  The food isn’t GREAT but it’s not bad either.  There IS a Valentine’s candle light dinner served on Friday night and that’s always FANTASTIC.  There’s usually a sort of “lounge” type singer or in some cases a band singing love songs all the way through dinner on Saturday night.

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The dining room welcome balloons

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(a really bad pic of some really good spinach strawberry salad served at the Vday dinner)

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Hubby at our candle light dinner

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Hubby and I in 2008 sitting by the fire in the cedar lodge, waiting to eat.  Yeah, I’m about 40 pounds heavier here because I hadn’t gotten extremely sick yet.  Ben, however is 40 pounds lighter!  lol

After we eat tonight, we’ll probably retire back to our cabin and either read or play dominoes (for money cause I like to gamble OR for chores… whoever is the winner gets to decide what chores the other will do.  lol), or just hang out.  One year, I decorated our room with rose pedals and all that romantic schtuff…  I even had a rose pedal bath waiting for him.  How’s THAT for a good wife?  And he says I don’t put enough effort into it…. HOGWASH.  lmbo

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Here’s Ben in his ummmm, sexy, short shorts, preparing to lose dominoes 😉

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This is something of an event for Ben, as well.  He sets aside some extra special  “Ben” time to groom the extra long nose hairs.  I encourage this, for obvious reasons.

Tomorrow, we’ll wake up, whenever we want.  We’ll probably go horseback riding or on a scavenger hunt.  Something we ALWAYS do is play ping pong and SOMETIMES mini golf (in the cold).  We’ll walk around the woods and the lake, looking for awesome shots to take.  We COULD sign up for archery or make mosiacs (yes Ben will humor me, because he loves me, and help me create some pretty special mosiac art… lol). We might even get to go trout fishing, although they’re probably not biting in the cold 😦  Plus, they make us “release” which is NO fun for me at all. I usually set aside some time for either an hour long massage or a pedicure OR both. When it gets dark, we might go on a carriage ride or even just sit by a campfire, snuggled up and listening to someone else tell ghost stories.  Before our special dinner, we’ll do the wine and cheese tasting.  After dinner, there’s always dancing.  The band is usually pretty good 🙂

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The first pedi I ever treated myself to.  I was SO proud and couldn’t stop admiring my toes!  lol

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This was 2008 and I didn’t have a good camera BUT it didn’t stop me from trying to get a good shot!

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Ben’s waiting in line to get me some MORE wine!  lol  Check out those empty glasses.

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Just some of the pretty things we see!  It’s supposed to snow and I SO hope it does this year like it’s done several years in the past.  Can’t wait to bundle up and put another log on our little fire.

We won’t have internet connection OR even a TV.  It’s not allowed there.  At first, we didn’t like that aspect AT ALL.  We’ve grown to look forward to the complete break from the outside world. Most of the time we can’t even get phone reception.  That’s just fine by me 🙂

Here’s hoping you all have another FANTASTIC weekend and that you’re able to make special memories with the one’s YOU love!  Happy Friday Everyone!  See you back on Sunday night 😉