Sunday, December 3, 2017

Swap-bot My Favorite Vacation

It's not like I've taken so many vacations, that it was difficult to choose which one to write about...but, of the few places I've been, it was harder than I thought.  There were great parts of every vacation!  But, I selected my first Presidents Club trip to share for this swap.  I hope you enjoy reading about it and seeing the pictures.

Presidents Club Trip, 2014
  1. Where did you go?  The trip was to Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.  We stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace - all inclusive premium resort, in an ocean-front suite with a hot tub on the lanai - Doesn't get better than that!  
  2. When did you go?  April, 2014
  3. How did you get there?  We flew from Richmond to Atlanta, to Punta Cana and back the same way.
  4. Who went with you?  My hubby, Michael
  5. Have you been to this location more than once? If not, would you like to go back?  I've only been there that one time, and I would definitely go back.  I had been to Santo Domingo on a cruise ship stop in 1974, which is also in the DR.
  6. Why was this your favorite?  This was my favorite because it was an honor to go with my company's Presidents Club.  Every year, the top sales reps get to go on an amazing trip.  I've been with the company for 7 1/2 years, and have been on 2 of these trips.  I selected this one because it was my first win, and it was such an amazing trip.  Our suite was HUGE - seriously - 3 bathrooms!  The lanai had a hot tub on it, right on the oceanfront, with an electric shade you could pull down for privacy.  
  7. Describe one memorable sight you saw there.  My most memorable sight was once we left the resort and travelled out to the jungle.  Of course, a luxury resort has beautifully-manicured landscape and incredible amenities, but once you leave that area, you see more of what island life is really like.  The area where we were was a mix of extreme wealth and poverty.  The island is so lush, and the jungle was so pretty.  We went zip-lining and I'll never forget how it looked and felt to fly through the trees!
  8. Do you have any special souvenirs from this trip? If so, what did you keep?  You know, I really didn't buy a lot while we were there.  My hubby bought a painting that he has framed in his office, but my best souvenir is a DVD from the trip that our event planner put together for us.  

I've included some of the pictures from our trip - Enjoy!  

Oceanfront fountain

Pool by the ocean

Amazing gounds

Pristine beaches

Two old folks zip-lining!

Swimming with the dolphins

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and my description of the trip.  I would love to win this year's trip too , as they're going to Mexico - another beautiful resort.  I still need some year-end sales to qualify, so wish me luck - If not this time, maybe next year!

Thanks for posting a rating for me on Swap-bot!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

My Favorite Photos - November

One of my favorite swaps on Swap-Bot is the monthly photo swap.  I can never select just one, so thank you for indulging me with my blog post.  I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures as much I enjoy posting them.  I always enjoy others' photos too, and I'm grateful when people share - so, feel free to send me your photos too.  

Thanksgiving was just my husband, daughter and me -- so, we had dinner out and it was fun!  This picture was taken outside the historic restaurant I selected.  George Washington ate there -- a few years before us -- but how cool is that?!
Thanksgiving at the Halfway House

If you've read my previous blog posts, you know that my son has been on an extended camping trip at New River Gorge, West Virginia, while he develops material for his new company that will be about rock-climbing.  He came home last night, but he shared some awesome pictures while he was out.

Jacob Johnson
New River Gorge, WV
Part of Thanksgiving at our house has always been decorating for Christmas, and this year was no different.  It's actually my daughter who does the design - I just help or stay out of her way!  We have a tree in our Living Room, and she has one in her bedroom.  
Living Room
Callie's tree

Minestrone soup

Low-carb chicken pot pie

I thought I'd share 2 foodie pix too.  The cooler weather makes comfort food a necessity here.  I made a big pot of minestrone soup and some chicken pot pies.  

Big hits with the family!

I have 2 more this month.  My nephew and his wife shared a bunch of photos they had taken for their annual Christmas card, and I just love this one of the two of them.  And you might wonder why I took a picture of folded sheets - but I have to say - I am proud of myself for finally learning how to fold fitted sheets!  Silly, right?  But at 61 years old, if I don't pat myself on the back, who will?  LOL - thanks for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed this month's selection.  
Kevin & Erin
I did it!

Have an awesome December and a  Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 13, 2017

ESG: Gratitude List * 2017 edition

Like most everyone, I'm thankful for family, friends, faith and freedom most of all. This year, I thought I'd dive a little deeper to things that might otherwise get missed on a Top 10 list, even though I'm grateful for them.

These are completely random and in no particular order - Enjoy!

  1 - Humility 
  2 - Authenticity
  3 - Intentionality
  4 - Vision
  5 - Quiet time
  6 - Integrity
  7 - Heaven
  8 - Fragrance
  9 - Conscience
 10 - Warmth

OK - told you it was a different type of least, for me it is.  But these are 10 things that I truly am grateful for, and woven together, they make me who I am.

We all have different roles and responsibilities, and when I compare good times vs. bad times, the difference between them usually has to do with the above qualities or traits.  Think about it.  

As a regional sales manager for a digital signage and software company, there are many ups and downs in my world.  When sales are strong, it's easy to love my job and be in a good mood.  When sales are weak, it gets ridiculously stressful, and that puts me in a bad mood, which makes it easy to be grumpy to those closest to me.  I drink and eat more - spend more money (retail therapy) - and escape whenever and however I can.  After feeling guilty for over-indulging, I reboot myself, and focus on what I know works.  Having the vision, intentionality, integrity and conscience - I remind myself that I'm doing the best I can, and things will work out, or they won't.  My stressing about it and sabotaging myself won't change anything.

As a wife and mom, same thing!  I can't control my husband or kids, but I can control my response to them.  I love my family more than anything, and I want what's best for each of them.  I raised my kids to think for themselves and to follow their dreams, so I'm learning to let them do what they think that looks like.  They have their own dreams and I don't expect them to fulfill mine.  
I added Heaven to my list, because I do believe that when we pass from this world, eternal life with God is going to put everything in perspective for us.  My faith is strong and makes me who I am, and while I hope yours is too, I don't try to convince anyone that it's "my way or the highway".  To me, faith is a very personal relationship with God, and I hope it is for you too.  

Warmth rounds out my list because I truly hate being cold!  I love hot weather and if I had my way, I would just hibernate from November until May.  One of my favorite memories from when my kids were little, was I'd be folding laundry right out of the dryer, and take a bath towel or blanket that was still warm, and wrap them up in it and snuggle a minute.  It did my heart good when my daughter, now 26, returned the favor the other night.  She washed her fluffy throw blanket, and came and covered me with it while I watched TV.  I loved the warmth - both from the blanket, but especially from her.

Fragrance is a new one for me.  I recently discovered the benefits of Essential Oils, and have been experimenting with different combinations in my diffuser, tea and bath.  Maybe it's in my mind, but I swear, I can tell a difference in how I feel.  My office smells like lavender, and it's amazing!

On that note, I'll bring this post to a close and get to work, intentionally, of course!  Thanks for reading my list and posting a rating on Swap-bot. 

Much love and thanks to all,

                    Ilyse - Happy Mom ❤️

Sunday, November 5, 2017

That Was Then...This Is Now

I had no idea how difficult it would be to narrow down what to share for this swap!  I decided to post these on my blog so I could share a few extras and some details.

First - when my husband and I met in 1981, he was the drummer of a band called “Snuff” and I was the Program Director of a local radio station “XL102”.  We got married in 1985, and he was still playing music, but once we started our family, he got a ‘real’ job. 😀  He eventually became a Contemporary Christian Worship leader, and now pastors 3 little churches.  He still plays music, and I’m still in awe of his talent.  One reason radio was a good fit for me, was because I've always loved music, but could never sing well or play an instrument - but I had a good ear and could ‘pick the hits’ as we used to say.  So, the pictures I'm sharing are of my husband, Michael, and "Snuff" --

Snuff at outdoor concert in VA - 1982
Snuff reunion show, Nags Head, NC - 2013

Robbie-Scott-Michael-Cecil-Jimbo on Michael's last gig with Snuff, 1990

Rehearsal for the reunion, 2013
And here are two extras that I have framed here in my house.  The first is what I call "Dancing Through Time" - I wore my mom's wedding gown when Michael and I got married.  The second frame shows 3 pre-school graduations - Me, My daughter & me, My son & me.  I love these kinds of collections, and hope you've enjoyed mine.

1985 - 1954
1998 - 1996 - 1960

Thanks for visiting - Remember to post a rating, so I know you've received my swap!

Ilyse - Happy Mom

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Favorite Photo Swap - October - From Happy Mom

Hello Swappers and Friends!

Ohmygosh - October was another crazy-busy month here!  Can you even believe that the year has gone by so fast?  One of these days, I will surprise everyone, including myself, and start my blog post saying that it's been a BORING month!  Might be nice, for a change!  Truth be told though, I am never bored.  Even when things aren't busy around here, I always find things to do and ways to entertain myself.  I've been told that I'm my own best company - Ha!  Probably true!

Here are some fun pictures - my favorites - from October:

Road trip through SE Virginia cotton fields

Family time is always the best time, and this month, it was great having my son home for a few days.  Dinner out is always a treat!


Another favorite was a photo I snapped at the airport while waiting for my flight to NYC.  I glanced at an article that a person sitting near me was reading, and it caught my eye.  The headline states that nearly 40% of adults in the US qualify as "obese" -- I am so happy that I am not part of that 40% anymore.  I started a weight loss program last November, and have stuck with it for a full year.  I've lost almost 50 pounds and my numbers are now in the "normal" range.  
Reading someone else's paper


Last print out from doctor's scale  
And, speaking of my trip to NYC -- 

I had the privilege of traveling up to my corporate office in Connecticut, to participate in the Breast Cancer walk there.  Every year, they have a team, and they solicit donations from the whole company.  I always make a donation, but this year, another Regional Manager and I traveled up for the event itself.  My co-worker and I both got great airfare rates to fly in to LaGuardia - she was coming from Denver, and I came from Richmond.  We met there and drove to Branford, CT - Our event planner/HR Director invited us to stay with her, so we had a girls pajama party :)  

While we were there, we ate dinner out, drank some great wine, went to an Oktoberfest celebration at a local brewery, toured the area… and of course, did the Breast Cancer Walk.  Before going back to LaGuardia to head home, we visited the 911 Memorial in New York City.  It was a very good weekend trip, and it made me happy to spend time with my co-workers, to raise money for a great cause, and to get more walking done in 3 days than I did all month!  LOL!  And on the flight home, I got some amazing shots of the sunset from the sky!

At Lighthouse Point Park


"The Marlin Mammaries"

911 Memorial - New York City
My view of the sunset from the flight home
I love sharing my favorite photos every month and hope you enjoy seeing them!  I always invite my Swap-bot partners to share their swaps with me, even when we're not automatically partnered - I am obsessed with looking at photos!  I'm on Instagram and SnapChat, so look me up.  Hope to swap again soon, and thanks for posting a rating so I know you've received this.  Have a great month!

Monday, October 2, 2017

My Favorite Photo - September

Oh wow - September was a crazy-busy month here!  Things at work were so slow for so long... and then all of a sudden, business picked up and it's been nuts!  All good though, and I'm excited to see where we finish this year.

This was a fun month for me.Not only was my son home for the month, but we finally were able to begin some projects around the house.  Despite the late start, they're coming together nicely, and I'm looking forward to when it's finished.  So far, we've replaced our kitchen floor and the front door entry.  Both areas went from tile to laminate, and I love it.  Next is purchasing the new kitchen counter top, and then painting our cabinets and walls.  We're also having a custom shed built to replace the one that's falling down in the backyard.  My son spent most of the month customizing his "man van" into his home-base for his new business that he's starting.  He's currently out of state, making rock-climbing videos and living in the van.  Oh to be 24 years old and chasing your dream!

These first pictures are of the updated floors:

This is my son, working on the custom van.  He did all the design work and carpentry himself:

How's this for a bachelor pad?   The mood lights even have a remote control!

My husband is a pastor, and he was asked to preside over a wedding.  The bride's parents have been friends of ours for many years, and our kids all grew up together.  Here are two from the wedding - Hubby doing the ceremony, and then him and me outside on a beautiful fall day!
   Any my last photo for the month is my goofy brother!  This was taken when he went to the lake with his in-laws.  Great shot, huh?!  

That's it for this month...I hope you enjoyed the visit as much as I enjoy putting it together!  And, if you care to share your swap with me too, I'd love to see it.  
Thanks for posting a rating, and I'll catch you next month!

Happy Fall!
Ilyse - Happy Mom