Police Officer Birthday Party

This police officer birthday party was a fun way to celebrate a special Birthday Boy while also teaching kids about true super heroes!

The Decorations

Many party supply stores offer police party decorations, including adorable cardboard police cars that are super easy to assemble. The flashing blue light, purchased at Oriental Trading Company, was a huge hit!

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The Birthday Boy was allowed to open one present before the party started, so that he could wear his “official” police officer’s uniform during the party. Melissa and Doug brand costumes are the best, in my opinion.

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The Food

We found these food tent cards on Etsy, which added to the fun. We served:

Police Dogs – Hot dogs

Police Badges – Potato chips

Police Batons – Pretzel sticks

Traffic Lights – Mini fruit kabobs with  strawberry, pineapple, and green grape

Jail Cell Dip – Cheese dip

Crime Fighting Chips – Tortilla chips

Coffee Break – We placed this one by the coffee maker, for the parents

Donut Break – Can’t have a police party without donuts!

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Fun with Props

The photo props were arranged in a large flower vase, to serve as part of the decorations and, later, made for some fun photographs of the guests.

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Favor Bags

Guests were sent home with favor bags, filled with plastic police figures, Hot Wheels police vehicles, miniature water guns, police badges,  miniature blue glow swords, blue and white lollipops, and a cardboard police car box filled with blue and yellow candies.

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November, A Time of Reflection

Our family had a couple of serious medical scares recently, one with an older loved one, and another with a younger loved one.  Both were frightening, and answers wouldn’t come quickly. I also learned of the unexpected passing of a couple of dear old friends.

With these things weighing on my mind, I spent a few November nights reflecting on life, and love, and family. I spent more time than usual in prayer, asking God to heal broken bodies and broken hearts.

Fearful of falling victim to worrying too much about my own fears or problems, I decided it would be a good idea to spend some time doing something for others, so I posted on my Facebook page, asking people how I could pray for them.

I received dozens of prayer requests, some responding on the post while others sent private messages. They were all requests for healing of broken bodies or broken hearts.

I added these requests to my prayer list, along with continuing to pray for my own loved ones’ needs. I was reminded that we all have struggles in our lives, and it’s important to “be there” for one another.

I was also reminded that, even through the trials, the blessings are many.

I am grateful for these reminders this November, and also for the opportunity to spend another wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner with loves ones.

 

Simple Things Matter

Most of us tend to measure life’s journey in milestones – weddings, births, graduations, job promotions, retirements. We invest a great deal of time and planning into celebrating these things, as it should be, for they are, indeed, joyous occasions.

There are, however, many ordinary days in between those special occasions. Sometimes, if we aren’t careful, we can allow ourselves to get so caught up in the mundane of the everyday that we forget to take notice of how some of life’s simplest pleasures can bring us such joy.

I recently had a few back-to-back days in which I seemed to be just going through the motions of each day. I was so focused on getting things done and thinking about what still needed to be done – and none of it was anything that I truly wanted to be doing with my time.

We can’t avoid the mundane tasks of life and we can’t expect every day to be a party, but we can find something to celebrate in all days. We just need to pay more attention.

There was a Blue Jay outside my window as I was writing this blog post. He was fluttering around, nibbling at the berries on a bush. I found myself thinking that he probably doesn’t fret over a list of errands or chores to be done; he just basks in the sunshine and enjoys the berries, trusting in God’s provisions.

As I sat watching this beautiful, graceful bird, I started reflecting back over my past few weeks, thinking about some of the many things that have recently brought joy to my life:

Opening my Facebook page to find an incredibly sweet message from a dear friend.

Laughing to the point of tears with some other friends, over something incredibly silly.

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Sunday lunch dates with my husband, after church.

Meeting my daughter for dinner, eating fried green tomatoes, and laughing over our poor attempt at “selfie” photos.IMG_3249IMG_3252

Having all of my family gathered around the table for dinner.

A quiet house on an early Monday morning, after a fun but noisy weekend.

Taking the scenic route home from work.20768207_10209479963383077_3016003181076067707_n

Sitting in my car a little longer after I get home, just to keep singing along with the radio.

Building castles with a grandbaby.21432967_10209661504601494_7547028542619800980_n

Phones calls from my husband when he was out of town on a business trip.

Meeting my son for lunch in between his classes, and seeing the excitement on his face as he gave me a tour of the Seminary where he studies.

Happening upon the traveling Vietnam War Memorial. It was an honor to take a few minutes to stop and pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives.

 

 

 

Baking cookies with my grandchildren and letting them decorate them however they wish.

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When my daughter-in-law calls me, just to tell me about something funny that one of the kids did.

Getting flowers from my husband, for no particular reason.

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Weddings, births, graduations, and job promotions are things that we all look forward to celebrating in life.  But even when the days are filled with mundane tasks, this list reminds me that life is far from mundane.

Joy is in the essence of everyday life. Pay close attention to it, and you will be blessed.

 

October, A Harvest of Fun

I’ve always loved this time of year. I love the vivid shades of the leaves turning on the trees, the smell of firewood burning, and the crunch under my feet as the leaves fall to the ground. I must have driven my kids nuts over the years, always reminding them to take time to notice the beautiful autumn leaves, for they would be gone before they knew it! I find myself doing the same thing with my grandkids.

I would be grateful for the month of October if that’s all there was to it; just walking around, basking in the beauty of it all. But, oh, there’s so much more!

We made our annual visit to Gallrein Farms, in Shelbyville, KY, for Pumpkin Day. This year was extra special, however, because the men in the family were able to join us! We had so much fun riding barrel trains and go-carts, playing in the corn pit and jumping on the giant bouncy. We fed the animals at the petting zoo and took a train ride. We ate some delicious food from the food trucks, as well as homemade fudge and blue slushies. And, of course, we rode the hay wagon out to the pumpkin patches to pick out the perfect pumpkins! As my granddaughter says, “Whatever you do, you don’t want to miss Pumpkin Day, because Pumpkin Day is one of the best days of all the days!”

 

The following weekend was also fun, as we visited the Creasey-Mahan Nature Preserve Center’s “Trick-or-Treating Through the Forest” for the first time. This is a nature center  with hiking trails and playgrounds – a fun place for families to visit any time of the year. This event served as a fundraiser for the Center. We had fun trick-or-treating at various stations set up along the hiking trails, with fairy tale characters handing out treats to the kids. There was also an art fair as well as bouncy houses and decorative haystack characters. Another fun event to add to our October traditions.

I had a business trip throughout eastern Kentucky toward the end of October, and I came upon the White Oak Pumpkin Park, in West Liberty, KY. It was so sweet, I just had to stop and take a few pictures. Maybe we’ll take the grandchildren on a road trip next year!

Our fun October was capped off by celebrating at the church where my son is the Youth Pastor, at their annual Trunk-or-Treat Festival. The kids had a blast playing games, blowing bubbles, and getting to sit in the fire trucks and helicopters. The church members made their favorite chili and soups for a Crockpot Cooking competition. I’ve never seen so many Crockpots filled with deliciousness. And the dessert table, filled with endless homemade sweets –  I had to just stay away from that!

We were busy with so many fun-filled activities that I didn’t get a chance to go on a hike and take photographs of the gorgeous autumn leaves, but I noticed them all along the way!

Thanks for the wonderful memories, October. See you next year!

September Surprise

September is one of my favorite months of the year. The weather is mild as summer winds down. Everything is lush and green again, and I make a point of taking it in for I know it won’t be long before it all will begin to change.

It’s also the month of my wedding anniversary. My husband and I celebrated 37 years of marriage this September. He is my true soulmate and I am so very grateful to have him in my life.

I’m also grateful for a little surprise that I was honored to enjoy during this September. I traveled to Carrollton, KY on business one Saturday. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be working on the weekend, but it was all worth it when I happened upon the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was on display at General Butler State Park.

I have seen the permanent memorial in Washington, D.C., but it had been a few years, so I decided to stop and take a look around.

The first thing I noticed was the quietness and stillness in the air, despite the large number of people visiting. I was glad to see that everyone was showing honor and respect for those who sacrificed their lives in this war.

Military members welcomed me and provided me with information, explaining the several memorials that were on display.

It was a humbling experience to see the vast amount of names on the wall, knowing that every name held a story.

I think, perhaps, the most moving part of my experience was watching those who were standing in front of the names of someone they knew and loved. Moms. Dads. Children. Siblings. All wondering, I’m sure, what could have been if their loved one had survived.

There were also many there who had actually served alongside some of those whose names were on the wall. I spoke with a few of them, and they were eager to share their stories about their experiences in Vietnam. They pointed out the names of one after another who had fought beside them. I realized that they hadn’t lost one family member, but several brothers, and their heartache still hadn’t completely healed.

I’m always proud of our nation’s military, who sacrifice so much to secure our freedom as well as fight for the freedom of other nations around the world.  But freedom isn’t free, and the cost to many is monumental.

I’m grateful for this September surprise, to remind me never to take my freedom for granted, and to appreciate those who have died defending it.

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All About August

The hot days and nights of August bring with them an abundance of homegrown fruits and vegetables. They make for some awesome cold, crisp salads, and what makes a better meal on steaming hot days? My favorites this time of year are the juicy peaches and homegrown tomatoes. Delicious!

Here are some other things I am grateful for during the month of August:

Celebrating Our Baby Girl

We celebrated my daughter in a big way this month. Not only was it her birthday, but she also received a big job promotion! She has worked so hard to make it on her own; really paid her dues. I’m so proud of all that she has accomplished and happy to see her begin to enjoy the fruits of her labor. This girl is going places! (I hope she lets me tag along now and then, because we have so much fun together.) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; one of life’s greatest joys is when you children grow up and become your best friends.

 

Mouse in The House

We also celebrated our third grandchild’s third birthday this month, which equated to the third Mickey Mouse party. All of the Murphy grandchildren seem to want a Mickey Mouse party, at some point. We’re happy to oblige. I relished the look on this sweet boy’s face as he walked in and saw the house decorated in his honor. And, of course, if you are going to have a Mickey Mouse party, there must be hot dogs on the menu!

Once the party was over and all of the guests left, it was time to share the last piece of birthday cake.

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I’m always grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the lives of our children and grandchildren. True wealth is not measure in dollars, but in love. My piggy bank overflows.

The Freedoms of July

Any list of gratitude for the month of July must begin with being grateful to live in a free nation. Not everyone in the world enjoys that freedom, and we must never take it for granted. I’m grateful for our Founding Fathers; those who came before us and risked their lives and the lives of their families in order to pave the way to a better life for us.

My family loves to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day at the Crescent Hill Old-Fashioned 4th of July Festival. It’s perfect for families with little ones, offering face-painting, balloon art, bouncy houses, and giant bubble-making. Everyone is dressed in patriotic colors of red, white, and blue. Adults and children, alike, dance to the music of the live bands. The festival also offers an art fair, where you can purchase hand-made items from local artists. The smell of grilled burgers and brats fills the air, and children’s faces are dotted with chocolate ice cream or blue sno-cones – or both! There are prizes to be won in the game booths, and a coloring contest, which I’m proud to say my daughter won some 20 years ago. The celebration is capped off with a spectacular fireworks show when night falls.

 

MORE FREE TIME TO PLAY!

No school in the summer months means more opportunities to play with the grandkids. I love getting to spend time with them, one-on-one. I try to find something special to do with each of them on those days. I make their favorite treats for them and let them set up their toys all over the house. We paint pictures and build castles, and read lots of story books. And, of course, most every Mimi Day involves shopping for toys! The best parts of all, however, are the hugs and the laughter.

 

 

 

FREE TIME WITH HUBBY

Lazy Sunday evenings are another one of my favorite things about this time of year. My husband and I like to go the outdoor concerts at the Cherokee Triangle on Sunday evenings. It offers us an opportunity to relax after a busy weekend and before the start of another hectic work week. We pack up our lawn chairs along with some cold water and watermelon, listen to some good music, and talk. I’m grateful for my husband and for the moments we get to spend together. I don’t know where his shoes went, in the photo, but he is from Kentucky!

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June Bugs Under Beautiful Skies

June is such a beautiful time of year in Kentucky. Marshmallow clouds float against a crystal blue sky, swirling and dancing ever so gently. The season is filled with lots of fun outdoor activities, but the long days also provide adequate time to just relax and take in the sensational sights and sounds of summertime.  Here are a few things I am grateful for during the month of June.

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RAINDROPS AND ROLY-POLIES

I love watching my grandkids running around in a summer rain shower, laughing and squealing and splashing in puddles. After the rain stops, my oldest grandson loves to watch the roly-poly bugs come out, and he loves to share lots of details about the little critters. He tells me that, if we try to touch them, they will roll up into little balls. He thinks that’s really cool. Chasing fireflies is another popular pass-time of summer, too!

 

 

Of course, we can always make our own “rain” on dry, hot days. There is nothing like a good, old-fashioned water sprinkler to cool down the simmering days of June. Some things never go out of style.

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BIRTHDAY BASHES

This June was extra special for us, as we celebrated my sister’s 60th birthday. I don’t get to see my sister and her family as often as I’d like, so it was nice to get together with them to celebrate this milestone in her life. My granddaughter shares the same birth date with my sister, so we celebrated her, as well. One turned 60, the other turned 6. Both are major blessings in my life.

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SLOWING IT DOWN

I drive a lot with my job, and I love to take the back roads in summer time, where I’m surrounded by lush shades of green, set to a bright blue sky. I seem to breathe deeper, as everything just seems a little fresher and cleaner this time of year. I’m reminded to not be in such a hurry to get where I’m going. It’s important to slow it down every once in awhile, and just take it all in. The colors of summer brighten my days and make me want to celebrate just being alive. And, when the work day is over, this is my favorite road home.

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Hugs from Strangers

Some of the things I see on social media make me feel so hopeless for our society today. Every time something horrible happens at the hands of a few hateful individuals, the media and the politicians blast us with unending attempts to blame an entire race or group of people for the violent actions of a few, and many people follow blindly, posting nasty things on Twitter or Facebook that they’d never think of saying to a “friend’s” face.

But I have noticed something encouraging on several occasions, lately. I noticed it again today.

I travel throughout many different counties in Kentucky and Indiana with my job. I talk to many people of every race and creed and age. Different people everyday. What I have been noticing is that there seems to be many folks who, rather than participate in the negativity, are going above and beyond in their efforts to be polite and kind to those who look different from them. They aren’t just going out of their ways to show more respect to others; they are smiling more, looking others in the eye, striking up polite conversations, laughing together. I’ve had more people whom I do not know offer God’s blessings to me in the past few weeks than would normally happen in a year’s time.

I was working in a store, today, when a young African-American man starting singing to me. In the store! He said I looked like someone who would appreciate a good song. I smiled at him and told him he had a voice that should be on the radio. He flashed his huge smile back at me and hugged me. It’s funny how such a simple thing can make one’s entire day brighter.  It made me want to do something kind for someone else. The opportunity quickly presented itself as I was standing at a self-serve checkout a few minutes later.

There was a Latino mom at the checkout next to me. She had two little girls. They wanted a bag of candy but the mom told them she couldn’t afford it. I picked up two bags of candy, rang them up, and gave them to the girls as we were walking out of the store.

“My treat,” I said. The mom thanked me and asked me my name. I told her that my grandchildren call me Mimi, and she replied, “Okay, girls. We are saying a special prayer for Mimi tonight!”

The little girls laughed and hugged me. Two of my favorite things; hugs and prayers! And there is something kind of special about them when they come from people you don’t even know.

People are getting extremely tired of folks trying to convince them to turn against others. There are always going to be hateful people in the world, and no amount of protesting, whether peaceful or violent, is going to stop that. But most people do not hate other people because of the color of their skin, or because of their religious beliefs, or because they don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on everything. Most people just want to be treated with kindness and respect, and they realize that others with whom they come into contact just want the same. That doesn’t mean that the haters aren’t still going to hate, but it does mean that the rest of us don’t have to respond in same.

I think, perhaps, there may be an effort among many churches to encourage people to go an extra step in shining the Light of Christ in such times as these, and I think many are taking it to heart. I sure hope so, anyway, because we sure need it.

Smiles and hugs from perfect strangers say there is hope for the world, still yet.

Milestones in May

All of the events and activities of spring are winding down to make room for the fast-approaching relaxing days of summer. It’s a time for celebrating many milestones for my family, and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

Another Kentucky Derby in the Books

The state of Kentucky gets many visitors this time of year. Everyone dresses up in their brightly-colored outfits and Derby hats to attend endless parties and celebrate the Run for the Roses. We have a more relaxed approach to celebrating the Kentucky Derby in my family. The kids and grand kids all come over for a cookout while we watch the horse races on television. The grand kids sometimes make paper roses or homemade Derby hats. Everyone picks their favorite horses to win each race. Whoever has the most winners at the end of the day wins a prize! I love days like this one, when we all just have fun relaxing and acting silly. We added a little bit of Red Nose fun to this year’s Derby Day events, as well.

 

The Youngest is One!

We celebrated our youngest grandson’s first birthday this May, with a “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” party theme. It’s our favorite Eric Carle book. We had a birthday brunch, complete with a food item for each of the animals in the book – Brown Bear bacon, Yellow Duck eggs, Green Frog veggies, Red Bird berries – well, you get the picture.  The past year sure has flown by, and this little one is now flying all over the place, ready to be a “big guy!” He is such a blessing in our lives.

Celebrating Moms

May always means Mothers’ Day, and we have many moms to celebrate in our family. I’m grateful for the time I had with my mom and mother-in-law before they passed on. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a mom to my beautiful kids, and I’m grateful for the awesome mother that my daughter-in-law is to my grandchildren. Raising four very young children is not an easy task, but she does it beautifully.

Graduation Time

We celebrated our granddaughter’s Kindergarten Graduation this May. They all looked so adorable in their caps and gowns. She has grown and learned so much in the past year. I look forward to watching her future unfold.

Strawberry Overload

One of my favorite things about the month of May is the abundance of fresh strawberries! There is simply nothing sweeter or juicier than fresh-picked strawberries. I can’t get enough of them. I make a trip to Bray’s Orchard, in Bedford, KY, as often as possible during Strawberry season, just so I can load up on them, because they are gone too soon!

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Another Trip Around the Sun

I turned 57 this May. It is sometimes hard to wrap my head around that number. But it has been 57 years of many blessings. I can’t wait to see what the next year of my life brings to me.

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