The Always-Inspiring Mowogo Lodge Annual Banquet

The proud mom with my son at the banquet, January 14, 2023

Last evening, my family and I attended the always-inspiring annual banquet of the Mowogo Lodge in Clayton, Georgia. The Lodge is the Northeast Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow Honor Society. My son has been a member of Mowogo Lodge and its most southern chapter – Lau-in-nih – in the Council for the past several years, being a leader in his chapter during one year. My son is an eagle scout with several palms, and absolutely loves scouting, as well as the fellowship, community, camaraderie, and service opportunities that scouting provides. Since he has been a member of the Mowogo Lodge, we have not missed an annual banquet, except for the one that was canceled due to COVID in 2020.

Keynote Speaker Emma

I always enjoy attending the annual banquets held by Mowogo Lodge. It is great to see and catch up with friends, make new friends, partake in a delicious meal, celebrate and recognize the Lodge and outstanding members, and hear inspiring and motivating speeches. My family sat at a table with another family, of whom two members were recognized with awards for outstanding service. While dining at this table, we got to know them a bit, as well as the advisor of their chapter, who also sat with us. We ate delicious breaded baked chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce, crab cakes, and prime rib, along with yummy veggies and desserts.

2023 Lodge Leadership

We also heard words of encouragement and motivation from a young lady named Emma, the Keynote Speaker, who is serving as Section 9 Order of the Arrow Secretary – a huge and impressive job for a high school student. Emma spoke to the Lodge, encouraging everyone to be a catalyst to spark energy for continued positive growth and development in the organization. It was also my pleasure to speak with Emma more personally, and we discovered that we had each been former members of Girl Scouts. I am happy that Emma can shine in Boy Scouts, an organization that appears to more closely fulfill her goals. Lodge Advisor, Rusty, reminded everyone what OA is all about, particularly doing cheerful service for others as well as recognizing “those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law…” (https://oa-bsa.org/about/mission-purpose).

2023 Lodge and/or Chapter Leadership

I do not generally make many posts about scouting and my son’s involvement in it, in order to respect his own privacy and intentions, however I wanted to take moment and share. My son, overall, has had an excellent experience in scouting. He gives back to scouting by serving as a troop assistant scoutmaster in Loganville. He is also a Camp Rainey Mountain staff alum and a Northeast Georgia Council scholarship recipient. Scouting has helped to develop my son’s character in wonderful ways, and now, he serves as a role model and guide for others in scouting. I appreciate the opportunities that scouting has offered my son throughout his life, and I am thankful that he can remain in scouting and participate in meaningful ways through his council, lodge, chapter, and troop!

Note: I am reposting since Google has still not picked this up after four days, which has not happened before.

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The Always-Inspiring Mowogo Lodge Annual Banquet

The proud mom with my son at the banquet, January 14, 2023

Last evening, my family and I attended the always-inspiring annual banquet of the Mowogo Lodge in Clayton, Georgia. The Lodge is the Northeast Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow Honor Society. My son has been a member of Mowogo Lodge and its most southern chapter – Lau-in-nih – in the Council for the past several years, being a leader in his chapter during one year. My son is an eagle scout with several palms, and absolutely loves scouting, as well as the fellowship, community, camaraderie, and service opportunities that scouting provides. Since he has been a member of the Mowogo Lodge, we have not missed an annual banquet, except for the one that was canceled due to COVID in 2020.

Keynote Speaker, Emma

I always enjoy attending the annual banquets held by Mowogo Lodge. It is great to see and catch up with friends, make new friends, partake in a delicious meal, celebrate and recognize the Lodge and outstanding members, and hear inspiring and motivating speeches. My family sat at a table with another family, of whom two members were recognized with awards for outstanding service. While dining at this table, we got to know them a bit, as well as the advisor of their chapter, who also sat with us. We ate delicious breaded baked chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce, crab cakes, and prime rib, along with yummy veggies and desserts.

Current Lodge Leadership for 2023

We also heard words of encouragement and motivation from a young lady named Emma, the Keynote Speaker, who is serving as Section 9 Order of the Arrow Secretary – a huge and impressive job for a high school student. Emma spoke to the Lodge, encouraging everyone to be a catalyst to spark energy for continued positive growth and development in the organization. It was also my pleasure to speak with Emma more personally, and we discovered that we had each been former members of Girl Scouts. I am happy that Emma can shine in Boy Scouts, an organization that appears to more closely fulfill her goals. Lodge Advisor, Rusty, reminded everyone what OA is all about, particularly doing cheerful service for others as well as recognizing “those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law…” (https://oa-bsa.org/about/mission-purpose).

Current Lodge and/or Chapter Leadership for 2023

I do not generally make many posts about scouting and my son’s involvement in it, in order to respect his own privacy and intentions, however I wanted to take moment and share. My son, overall, has had an excellent experience in scouting. He gives back to scouting by serving as a troop assistant scoutmaster in Loganville. He is also a Camp Rainey Mountain staff alum and a Northeast Georgia Council scholarship recipient. Scouting has helped to develop my son’s character in wonderful ways, and now, he serves as a role model and guide for others in scouting. I appreciate the opportunities that scouting has offered my son throughout his life, and I am thankful that he can remain in scouting and participate in meaningful ways through his council, lodge, chapter, and troop!

Beautiful Rainbow in Snellville

One side of the rainbow in Snellville, January 12, 2023

For most of the day today, there was a tornado watch in and around my area, just another sign of global warming as this should not be happening here in winter. We experienced high winds, heavy rain, and thunder and lightning under an eerie sky. Prior to the storm, the sky appeared to be light green and light yellow. I’ve observed light green skies in the past in my area, as well, and always heed them as a warning of a possible tornado. This is not something I ever experienced in the area where I grew up, so it is something that I’ve had to learn and look out for.

Other side of the rainbow in Snellville, January 12, 2023

After the storm and once the skies broke, the Sun shone through the clouds very brightly. I happened to look outside because it became so bright and there was a beautiful rainbow, stretching from one end of my neighborhood to the other! Wow, how gorgeous it was! I have never seen a rainbow such as that in my neighborhood, though I have seen rainbows in this area before. The rainbow lasted for only about 10 minutes, just enough time to get outside and take some pictures, however clear or blurry. It was wonderful to see this beautiful rainbow today!

Making Sacrifices

We have all experienced it. We have all had to deal with it. Making sacrifices is a big part of life, of anyone’s life. For some, it may be a bigger part than for others, or it may have more meaning than for others.

While I went for a walk today, I was philosophizing about life, and what came to mind first and foremost was about making sacrifices. I looked back through memories and experiences throughout my life, and recognized a pattern of sacrifice in my life. Sacrifice has been a huge part of my life, and I have actually experienced many patterns of sacrifice, some that have involved many years of sacrifice.

I guess, from as early as I can remember, looking back, some of the first sacrifices I had to make and was forced to make were for and by my mom. I love my mom, and God rest her soul, she passed nearly five years ago already, though all throughout my childhood, I made sacrifices of my “self” for her feelings, wants, and needs. I often felt like I was just “there,” and not allowed to ever truly “be myself.”

Of course, there are many very personal reasons for this that I will not describe here, however my entire childhood was a sacrifice of my own feelings, needs, and wants to my mother. That is how my brother and I lived, growing up in our home. That was “normal” in our household, however dysfunctional it was. I never really realized how dysfunctional it really was to me, personally, until I was well into my adult years. I later recognized it the most since I ultimately married and was divorced from a spouse who has a personality similar to my mom.

In growing up, I dysfunctionally-learned that I was supposed to and expected to sacrifice my feelings and needs to others. This was expected in my home. My parents’ needs came first, especially mom’s. My brother and I were seen and not heard. We had no voice – ever, for anything, no matter what happened – no voice. I think this is much of the reason that I use my voice today, since I was never allowed to have or use my voice as a child or youth. I had to be perfect, and I could never be perfect enough. I could never do enough for others. I could never be “good” enough. No matter how much or how hard I tried, it was never enough.

By the time I was about 25, I realized that I was so tired, exhausted, and drained that I could not continue “doing” for everyone else except myself. I finally started saying “no” to people for things they wanted. It was liberating! I had always been over-extended before, and never had time or energy left for myself after doing so much for others. On one occasion of saying “no” to a friend for something she wanted, she turned to another friend in my presence and asked her for the same thing. It was at that moment that I realized it was just fine to say “no” to people – because they will find someone else to ask. The world will not end just because I said “no” to someone!

I am skipping some periods of time, post-marriage and post-divorce, to being a single parent for more than the past 15 years. I will say it again as I’ve stated before, it is so important to marry someone that you are truly compatible with and with whom there is true mutual love. At my age, it is not pleasant to have to look back and realize that you have not truly ever experienced that in a long-term relationship. It is extremely painful, disheartening, and discouraging to realize that.

That said, I had to make decisions about particular challenges and sacrifices for the benefit of my son when I became a single parent. One of those decisions when my son became a bit older was for him to be schooled through online, virtual school at home. The home that he and I lived in was with my parents after my divorce. Therefore, I made the choice and the sacrifice that I would do my best to “be there” for my son and be responsible for him while at home. That meant being at home as much as possible for him, and again, there are other highly personal reasons for that due to my mom and her behavior.

And so now, looking back and looking upon the sacrifices I have made, whether I have wanted to or not, and whether I was forced to or it was voluntary, I wonder what and how many other sacrifices I will have to make in my life. I am currently in the midst of making a choice of sacrifice in order to repay my student loan. It is a big sacrifice and one that I do not necessarily want to make, but one that I need to make, while I still can, so my son is not someday saddled with my debt. It is something that needs to be done, and I know of no other “best” way to do so other than the way that I have selected. I am doing my best to put it in God’s hands.

And speaking of God, of course I remember the sacrifices He made for us. I know of the sacrifice of pain, suffering, and death that He took for me so that I may have eternal life. That is the ultimate sacrifice. Thankfully, I do not need to and will not have to sacrifice my life for anything. And, I have processed and “recovered” through prior feelings of Catholic guilt that I had in the past for not necessarily doing what the Church may have “expected” of me; I have learned that it is better to accept, forgive, love, and “be” myself than to feel “guilt” for what and who I am not.

At any rate, I still wonder how much more I will have to sacrifice in my life. I have also shared before that I am not a “lucky” person. I am generally someone who always has to pay for something in some way or another. I generally always have to give more than what is needed or expected. I often have to “give” more than what I receive in return, and even then, things often don’t turn out as planned or expected.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful and grateful for all of the good and wonderful things that I have experienced in my life. However, I wonder when it will be my turn to have a good relationship with a compatible and loving partner; I wonder when I will have some “luck;” I wonder how many more sacrifices I will still have to make in my life. And, I wonder if I will have any hope left after all that if I have sacrificed so much that there is nothing left. Maybe I shouldn’t ask because I may not want to know. Thankfully, there’s still a long way to go and only time will tell.

What really makes the world go ’round? It’s not what you might think!

Bee Gees, Retrieved January 5, 2022 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbVln98CoRs

This is my question for today and it is ultimately a reflection of the mood I’m in right now. I guess I’m feeling a bit sarcastic about the world this evening. At any rate, what really makes the world go ’round? Is it love? Is it money? Is it music? Is it food? What, pray tell, please tell me, what is it? No answers? Cat got your tongue? I know the answer – forget love, forget money, and it’s definitely not food. So, that only leaves one answer. You got it – it’s music! Thank goodness for music!

When there’s nothing else, there will always be music. And, if you can’t listen to any of it, you can always make your own. I can go and tickle the ivories on my tired piano downstairs, I could drag out that dusty clarinet, or I can hum my own tune. I’m very good at entertaining myself – maybe a bit too good.

When you have been single as long as I have, sometimes you just get really, really tired of it. Is there anything else to life? Or is this it? I don’t know – maybe I shouldn’t complain. Things could be better, but they could always be worse.

Thank goodness that music is what truly makes the world go ’round, and I like all different kinds of music! I can listen to some really great songs that I can relate to by some fave singers and groups such as Sarah McLachlan, the Bee Gees, U2, and INXS to name just a few.

Anyway, my song for this evening is “Tragedy” by the Bee Gees. I’ve listened to a few weeks of Sarah McLachlan’s beautiful Wonderland album for the holidays. Now, it’s time to get back to reality with those Gibb brothers. Forget “How Deep is your Love,” never mind “Stayin’ Alive.” It’s all about “Tragedy.” I don’t quite agree with all of the lyrics, but it’s pretty close.

Did I get you laughing yet? I hope so!

Next may be some INXS, who knows? They have a good song that fits my mood tonight, too. I need my music fix!

Polar Vortex Freeze Damaged my Gardenia Bushes

Bush damaged by Christmas 2022 Polar Vortex freeze in Snellville, Georgia

I have begun to notice this week that several of my gardenia bushes in my yard and around the house were hard-hit by the Polar Vortex that went through Georgia at Christmastime. I noticed a couple outside the picture window in my dining area, and another near my mailbox where most of the leaves were brown. On doing more investigating, I discovered that at least one dozen of my gardenia bushes have been severely damaged by the deep freeze from the Polar Vortex. I believe it was Christmas day or maybe the day afterwards when the low here in Snellville was 5 degrees Fahrenheit with about a -20 degree windchill due to all of the wind.

Damaged gardenia bush due to Christmas 2022 Polar Vortex, Snellville, GA

I’m not used to having to look out for my outdoor plants, and now I’m saddened that so many were hit. Had I realized they would have been damaged, I would have covered them with sheets or tarps. I didn’t even think about it until I saw a few azalea bushes covered at a business in Norcross. By then, it was already too late for mine. I also had several large azalea bushes that were damaged, as well. I literally have 100s of azalea bushes in my yard that my parents planted throughout the years, but the ones that were hurt were big ones around the house.

Another damaged gardenia bush from Christmas 2022 Polar Vortex, Snellville, GA

The majority of the leaves on these damaged bushes are brown instead of green now. I’m worried that they won’t come back. I’ll just have to wait and see at this point, and hope for the best. I just love the scent of gardenias and the beauty of all of the azaleas. I hope they will be able to bounce back, but they don’t look good right now.

Christmas Sugar and Gingerbread Cookies (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Some of my finished Christmas sugar cookies, December 29, 2022

Yesterday, I had time to make, bake, and frost my favorite sugar cookies – and I also frosted some gingerbread cookies that I bought from the grocery store! I just get so busy with so many things that I have to make time for holiday cooking and baking, and yesterday was a good day for it. Every year, if possible, I like to make my Great Grandmother Bertha (Gould) Babcock’s sugar cookies. It is also a recipe that I have shared on this blog in the past, and will republish it again. These sugar cookies are so sugary and good, and if you have a sweet tooth like I do, you will love them!

Following are some of my steps in making these sugar cookies.

Here, I have rolled out one ball of dough after I’ve chilled the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Here, I made cut-outs of my cookies. For this roll-out, only a few came up with the cookie cutters. I had to pick the others out of the dough because I rolled out the dough too thin and I didn’t put enough flour underneath the dough. I made corrections after this first roll-out, and didn’t have those issues again.

A cookie sheet of cookie dough cut-outs on parchment paper, ready for baking.

Another cookie sheet of baked cookies.

More of my frosted sugar cookies.

Yet another cookie sheet of frosted sugar cookies.

For this go-’round, I made a double batch of these cookies. My son and I just love them, so they go quickly! On doubling all of the ingredients, the recipe made approximately 56 cookies of varying sizes and shapes. I made a lot of Christmas tree cut-outs because they are easiest to frost and decorate. The cookie cutters were my mom’s, and they are from the 1960s or 1970s. They are really great and easy to use, and are much better than the cheap cookie cutters that are out there today.

My son also likes gingerbread cookies, so I buy those from the grocery store. Of course, I could make them, but they are readily available in the store during the holiday season, so I just get them from there. This year, I got two boxes of holiday gingerbread cookies after Christmas for 50% off, and they were a great buy! I frost them using my own homemade frosting since eating that E-Z Icing that comes in the box is more like eating glue – although I’ve never eaten glue, but that frosting is disgusting. Sorry, but we have to enjoy our gingerbread cookies, y’all!

Some frosted gingerbread cookies.

Doing gingerbread cookies the easy way by buying them from the grocery store, on sale after Christmas!

So, I frosted some gingerbread cookies with my own frosting and made my yummy sugar cookies this holiday season. The holidays definitely seem a bit more complete for me, now, after making my favorite holiday sugar cookies. I try to make it an annual tradition; it’s not the same without them!

Holiday Chocolate Fudge: Satisfying the Sweet Tooth! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My Holiday Chocolate Fudge, December 30, 2022

My holidays would not be complete if I did not take time to do some holiday baking and cooking. So, I’m happy that I got to take time out of my busy schedule to do just that this week! For the past couple of days, I’ve been making sugar cookies and chocolate fudge. Yes, while it’s already after Christmas, at least I got a chance to make some of my favorites to satisfy my sweet tooth this holiday season!

First, I’d like to share my holiday chocolate fudge recipe. It’s not something that I actually created, however it was handed down to me from my mom when she got it from a Better Homes and Gardens magazine from sometime in the late 1960s, as I recall. Every year, as long as I can remember while my mom was living, she would make fudge from this recipe, and now, I continue to do the same. The recipe is excellent, and I’ve added my own suggestions to it. If you ever wonder why you put on weight after eating fudge, just look at the recipe and ingredients, and there will be no questions!

To follow, I’m including pictures of the ingredients and materials I use for the fudge, as well as some of the steps in the cooking process.

Here, you will see all of the ingredients I used in making my fudge. Regarding my materials, I like to use a thin metal pot because it heats faster. You also definitely need a candy thermometer, and must follow the directions in the recipe exactly in order for your fudge to turn out perfectly. I also like to use a large metal cooking spoon to stir my mixture over the stove – instead of a wooden spoon. I can’t get a good grip on those wooden spoons, so I prefer a metal spoon. However, I also need heat-proof cooking gloves that I wear while cooking my fudge mixture, otherwise my hands will get burned. Those gloves are amazing!

Here, I have my bowl of mini marshmallows and chocolate morsels ready and positioned in my clean sink for when my boiled fudge mixture is ready for pouring into it. Yes, you always want to have everything clean when you are baking and cooking! And, if you have long hair, be sure to tie it back. Not only will you get hot cooking over the stove, but you will maintain the cleanliness of your ingredients and materials.

Here is my pot before pouring in the evaporated milk. Look at all of that butter and sugar!

Here is my pot with my evaporated milk included.

Here is my pot after about two minutes of cooking. In all, it took about 20-22 minutes for this mixture to reach soft ball stage. Be prepared to stand at your stove while constantly and gently stirring this mixture during that time. Once the mixture reaches jelly stage, it should have a rolling boil, and of course, will only get more intense as you move toward soft ball stage. Again, follow the recipe directions exactly for this delicious fudge!

Here is a repeat picture of my finished fudge. I like to use glass pie dishes rather than metal cake tins. In this picture, note that the fudge on the left is smoother while the fudge on the right is somewhat more lumpy. This is because I had only the pie dish on the left prepared in advance of the fudge being done, and I had not recalled that the recipe made enough for two pie dishes. So, in the midst of pouring the fudge into one pie dish, I realized I needed another one. I had to set down my mixture for about one minute while I scrambled to get another pie dish, quickly wash it, and grease it, and then put my heat-proof cooking gloves back on. By then, the mixture was already setting, and so, it is a bit more lumpy and mealy than the other pie dish. It will turn out okay, but will not be quite as smooth in texture as the first pour. As Emeril always says, you can eat your mistakes!

There you have it! This is an absolutely delicious chocolate fudge. Also, if you noticed, I did not include the walnuts. I have always included chopped walnuts in the past, but can no longer eat nuts, so they are absent this year. This will be the first year that our fudge is a bit of a different texture and taste, but will still hit the spot! Just don’t eat too much all at once – ooh, I can imagine that heady sugar rush already – phew!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Winter Holiday Evergreen Tree in Sweden – These are the types of Christmases I remember, growing up in Western New York’s Snow Belt (Retrieved December 22, 2022 from https://sweden.se/culture/celebrations/christmas)

It is already that time of the year – the most wonderful time of the year! While I like summer and all of the sunshine here in Georgia, the holiday season and Christmas are really my favorite time of year. Christmas brings to mind many happy memories, occasions, events, gatherings, reunions, gifts, and experiences. I am a person who enjoys experiences most of all, and those experiences that include memories of beloved family and friends are the best of all for me.

I remember Christmases of old, growing up in Western New York State in the Snow Belt, filled with family, food, shopping, gifts, skiing, snowmobiling, and, of course, attending church services, giving thanks to God for His love and all He has provided. I remember music, songs, laughter, and youth that has flown by so fast that even my own son is now a young man.

In my own childhood, I also recall so many Christmas seasons when my dad would string the colorful Christmas lights on the bushes and decorate the front yard with Santa, his sleigh, and reindeer that he handcrafted and handpainted. One year, he won a monetary award for having the best Christmas decorations in our community.

I remember bundling up as if we lived in the Arctic; making snowmen, women, and children; fashioning snow angels; eating icicles; decorating Mom’s yummy Christmas cookies while sneaking spoonfuls of frosting; and getting frostbite on my hand one bitterly cold evening that I went snowmobiling. I remember the hot onion soup with mozzarella that my mom used to make to warm my brother and I after returning home from skiing. Wow, those were the days, and of course, while they were not all great, I choose to hold onto those happy memories of old times.

Times are different now, and while still good, the holidays and Christmas are “smaller” and more compact for me now. My family, consisting of my son and I, already held our Christmas this year so that we could incorporate other plans on the actual day of Christmas. It was our first Christmas with ‘only’ each other, reflecting the changes in both of our lives, while keeping in mind that our love for each other will always be strong, holding us closely and dearly.

I wish you all a happy holiday season, regardless of the faith you may or may not hold, or the holiday that you may or may not celebrate. I would like to remind everyone to cherish the memories and good times with family and friends, and always hold those wonderful, yet fleeting “experiences” in your hearts. I like to believe that God generally places good people in our lives to help us and support us, and I hope and pray the same for you. Merry Christmas!

Cleaning House and Tribute to Mom and Dad

My son and parents in 2004 near Atlanta, Georgia

For the past month, I have been doing a lot of cleaning – particularly in the basement and garage of my home. I was bitten by the “cleaning bug,” and decided it was about time to take action and do something. I cleaned sooo much “stuff” out of my house! No one should really be allowed to accumulate that much stuff! Adding my own and my son’s “stuff” to my parents “stuff” literally caused there to be several tons of stuff that I cleaned out, moved out, recycled, donated, and/or junked. The dumpster company, the movers, Uhaul, and the shredding company all made some money off of me this month. I actually tried to hire an estate company to sell out portions of my house, but it didn’t work out. So, I had to pay to get the stuff moved out rather than make some money off of it. That’s just the way it is for me. It seems like I always have to pay; I’m just not a “lucky” person.

I have lived in this home for the past 15 years since my marriage ended, and I moved my things into this house at that time, with many of those things going into storage in boxes and plastic storage bins in the basement. In the past month, I have gone through everything in this house; many things I have not seen for 15 years since putting them away. Opening up those boxes and bins was like opening up time capsules. I went right back to when my son was a little boy – only 4 years old when we moved to this house. It was wonderful to go through his “little boy” things – clothes, toys, pictures, cards, drawings, and crafts. And then, for some other things that I unearthed by going back in time, it was not nearly wonderful at all. I went through all kinds of documents that I really did not want to ever see again – and I had the shredding company handle those. So, I experienced some smiles and laughter as well as some tears by going through all of that “stuff.”

On looking through photo albums of when my son was a baby and young boy, I found one picture that I took of my son with my parents. My son was one year old at the time, and both of my parents have since passed. The photo is of my son riding one of those mechanical cars at a local mall, flanked by my parents. It is a great picture because my son loved riding those mechanical machines and my parents loved being right there with him.

With my son currently being a college student, I am pretty much an empty-nester, except when he comes home from college. It, therefore, gets pretty quiet around here, and while I know I always have myself and try to keep a positive attitude, sometimes it’s tough to take, especially around the holidays. People who are alone really need more healthy communication and interaction with others.

So, seeing that picture of my one year old son with my parents brought back so many fond memories for me, and caused me to remember and be grateful for all that my parents have done for me and my son. I would not be where I am today if it was not for my parents, and I always remember that and am thankful for all they have done. The holidays are supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year, but I can’t help but feel some sadness and nostalgia about missing my parents who did so much for me.

…And, I’ve also learned something in this whole process of cleaning out my house, as well – do not buy, keep, and/or accumulate so much “stuff” ever again!