Birth of a Blog

Mitchell (6) & Avery (6) in the Outerbanks of North Carolina

Avery…”Are there flowers in Heaven?”

Me…”I like to think so.”

Mitchell…”Are there bugs?”

Me…”I like to think so because they pollinate flowers and butterflies are wonderful.”

Avery…”Can big trees grow in the clouds in Heaven?”

Me…”Hmmmm…I don’t know about trees but I am sure…”


Mountains of North Carolina August 2012

Do you keep the things that make you smile, laugh, think, love or cry?  

I don’t mean cars or jewelry.

I mean the everyday quiet blessings that make you say a little thank you. 

– An old photograph of your family’s first home they owned, on American soil.

– Did you write in your daughter’s scrapbook the day she lost her first tooth?

– Do you have a photograph of a half eaten coconut cream pie because you want to remember what delicious looked like?

– Did you collect shells when you were on your honeymoon and bring them home?

I send myself an email often, of things I want to remember.

That is how this blog came about.  It is how I named it.

All that makes you smile, laugh, think, love, cry or cry laughing.

By talking to myself I am ensuring my external hard drive keeps the memories that my mind sometimes cannot remember.  When I looked back at my photographs I knew I needed to tell the story.  My blog was born.  

Even the little things are out there floating in cyberspace.  

Mitchell (3) & Avery (3) in Michigan chasing Jim at State Park

I even beat myself up when I cannot remember what I didn’t have time to type up on my phone and send to myself while we were shuffling out the door and on our way to school.  That really funny thing I told myself to write about later.  Memory can be a little temperamental.

Then I remind myself that I have recorded one more thing than my parents did for me.  I do not have a baby book from when I was born.  When I was twenty-eight I was given my immunization record, but it was only for my first set of shots.

I do not know when I read a book to my parents for the first time, or what we looked like while it was happening.

Peter Reading me a Bedtime Story, for the First Time

I don’t know if my boys will even care that I have written their stories down since they were born, when they are grown men.  I do it anyway.

I do not have a newborn picture of me in my own mother’s arms.

I know I was loved.  Everyone loves their baby.  Their child.

and there probably

were those things


…over time

and with divorce

and death,

things get lost.

If it weren’t for emailing myself these little gifts, I couldn’t unwrap them years later and share them with you. 

I do it because I love them and I love our life and when memories fade we will have our story, out here, in cyberspace.

What do you do to keep the everyday things of your life from being forgotten?  Should we let the moments we forget just be forgotten as they were intended?

Abbie Gale

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She Knows I Am Laughing With Her

Lilly would like people to stop telling me how cute she looks in bows.

She would also like me to stop matching her bows to her pink (rat-like) skin tone.

She also would like someone to drop a baby daughter off for me to torture decorate raise.

She is happy I didn’t give her this old haircut.  No one loved her for two whole months.

But I did do this.  

Come on.  It is too funny!  I don’t even paint my own nails.

She loves attention.

She begs to get her teeth brushed.

The toothpaste is chicken flavored and she is only allowed to eat her dog food.

She might think teeth brushing is a treat.

Abbie Gale

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Flowers for Hurricane and Lessons Learned

Seven years ago I found out that I just don’t handle hurricanes well.

I had to Google search the name of the one this week, Isaac.

It isn’t that I don’t read the news or keep abreast of current events.

Seven years ago today Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on our southern coast and I watched, with the rest of the country, its progress on television. I am not watching Isaac descend on the anniversary of Katrina.

Katrina was in the background while I was cooking and cleaning and folding clothes. There were reporters interviewing residents. They asked people if they were staying and riding the storm out or evacuating. Reporters told us that seafood prices would rise and that power could be out for days and that residents were being told to leave New Orleans.

New Orleans. I had not been to New Orleans but I had always been excited to visit the city one day. We had recently relocated to the south and New Orleans was on our list of cities to explore on a long weekend trip.

A few of the news programs I was surfing, as Katrina was approaching, were highlighting the levees and they were interviewing civil engineers. I sat and listened as one engineer spoke with such concern that the levees would never be able to handle a storm this size. He then talked about a study using a model to show what would happen to New Orleans and the surrounding areas if ever a hurricane of Katrina’s size hit land.

It was a devastating scenario.

Just then Jim walked into the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee and say goodbye before heading to the hospital to work.

I began sobbing.

I kept thinking about all the people who said they were going to ride the storm out and the danger they would be placed in if this man was right. I thought about the rescue people who would also be put in harms way while having to save people. I began thinking about the people who really didn’t have any place to go or the means to get there. The old people whom neighbors barely noticed were shuffling around their houses, inside. Who would offer them a place to go and a way to get there. Who will look for them when the storm passes?

Jim gave me a kiss and a hug. He told me that sometimes these storms fizzle out as they make landfall and he mentioned this was one persons opinion of a possible situation. We talked briefly that there is nothing I can do in my kitchen in North Carolina and he went off to work.

I sat at the kitchen table and said a prayer.

A little while later a delivery man rang my doorbell. He handed me the prettiest bouquet of flowers.

The card in the flowers told me I was sweet and that Jim loved me.

I couldn’t do a thing before Katrina devastated so many people and their families.

We pay taxes and we pay insurance and we hope the government and the media outlets inform people when they need to evacuate.

I grew up in the midwest and in fear that a tornado could form quickly and in the middle of the night. A tornado can give no warning and they are hard to track. We moved to North Carolina during hurricane season. We even bought our first house here without a basement.

It seems like such a gift that we know when a hurricane is coming, days in advance.

Katrina made me think.

  • I learned that Mother Nature sometimes likes to show us that she is smarter than us and our fancy engineers.
  • I learned that government isn’t perfect but from mistakes, lessons are learned.
  • People should value their lives more and their property less. After all, our possessions and even our property can be washed away in a day.
  • Keep a close watch and offer help to those that live around me, if everyone did just that then everyone would have someone watching out for them.
  • Know what is coming and if it’s headed your way, MOVE.
  • If your fortunate enough to not be in a disaster then help those who have.
  • I learned that getting flowers does make you feel better.

Happy 15th Anniversary Jim (tomorrow) and thanks for not sending me flowers seven years ago a day later but instead you sent me “hurricane flowers.”

You knew just what would make me feel better.

Abbie Gale

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Summer Camp

Saying goodbye at camp.Little brother Peter was left to watch Lilly our dog while we were unpacking Mitchell and Avery.  Peter was so worried our dog was upset that we were leaving his big brothers.  I think perhaps little brother was a little sad we were leaving them too.

Can you see how nervous Avery and Mitchell are while we check them in?


I went to summer camp for the first time when I was their age.

That is what I kept chanting to myself every time I had the thought to throw them back into  the car and drive them to Disney World so I wouldn’t have to leave them with strangers.

The summer camp I went to in Michigan was not sitting on the top of a mountain though.

I would have happily stayed with them for these views for a week.

The camps now email the parents daily pictures of their kids and what they are up to.

The camp sent me this picture the first day.  I snapped a quick pic of the computer screen on my phone and texted it to my husband.

It looks like my boys are fitting right in.

Do you have fond memories of summer camp when you were a child?  Did you decide to send your own children to sleep away camp?


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Creek Tips


I love it when I come across something my boys have done that I didn’t know about.

Here is a video our Peter shot at one of his special critter catching locations.

The walk to the creek the time prior revealed a snake.  It looks like he went back with our big black rubber snake to leave out in hopes it would scare away any snakes that were venomous, while he could look for newts.

Thought you might enjoys…

My story, just yesterday, about same black snake and one of its evil doings.

How To Tell Your Lawn Guy You Are Very Sorry


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An Update With Nothing Dead to Report

Our Tom Sawyer, (Peter) caught a squirrel with his live trap within four hours.

It was immediately let go after enjoying its apple.

Peter has had requests to catch some bunnies in a neighbors vegetable path and relocate them.  He is so happy to go over in the evenings and set up his little trap.

I think it is genetic.

Here is the story about his long line of trapping ancestors back to Native American and French fur traders.

The live trap he begged for is working much better that the method I suggested.  My method kept him BUSY for hours.  I like methods that keep little boys busy!

A Mother’s Guide on How to Trap a Rabbit

  1. Box
  2. Twine, Very Long
  3. Stick
  4. Carrot
  5. Patience and the Ability to be Very Quiet
Yes I know they are doing it wrong but it is a process.

A father goes to the hardware store and buys a box trap.  

A mother lets them try for two months in glorious silence with gratitude that the boys are busy.

Here is the story about his long line of trapping ancestors back to Native American and French fur traders.


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Frog Hunting With Kids During Summer Evenings

Frog and toad hunting has been this weeks evening pastime.

It is HOT outside during the day and this gives our boys something fun to do when it cools off.

Access to ponds or creeks…We have both in our backyard and many more on the golf course across the street.

Transportation…We walk or use the critter mobile golf cart.

Lights…We use headlights and flashlights and even golf cart headlights.

Nets…Do we have nets!  We have short-handled and long-handled and large holed and small holed.  We are even willing to reach in.

My boys tell me this is a “smaller” bullfrog.

Container…We use a big tote.

Sense of humor…Peter likes to take “frog orders” before he heads out.  I say I would like a green tree frog and his brothers might say a bullfrog.  Peter especially likes to watch people open the tote and see how many he has brought home.  Below is poor Mitchell not expecting dad to pull giganto bullfrog out.

An ability to say goodbye…With the hopes of seeing you again in the pond behind our home.  This took years to perfect as saying goodbye to “caught critters” is very hard for little boys.

Peter may have been kissing this little guy on a dare from big brothers.  

Big brothers can be especially cantankerous.

Camera…It is much easier to say goodbye if you have a photo to remember your new friends.

Potato brush and soap…Have it at every entrance to the house for the “Frog Hunters” to use before entering their home!

Thanks for letting me share,

“All that makes you, smile, laugh, think, love, cry or cry laughing.”


The Father I Used to Have (and Sea Monkeys)

My dad is Simon Cowell, not really, but that is how I often describe his demeanor.  I get that from him.  It is far less attractive on a woman, I am told. He is part of who made me and I like myself, even if I tend to “talk like a man.”

He is straight forward in business and in raising two girls.  He is Simon Cowel if Simon were raised in the midwest and literally worked his fingers to the bone.  But he isn’t the strong silent type that daughters often describe their dads as.

He is the kind of man that when a microphone needs to be passed to someone who is good with words he can step up and rustle up an instant speech that will make you laugh and cry.

Everyone will be looking at him with a smile, head tilt and with a tear.

My dad in Michigan is a funny mix of sarcasm, tough as nails, strong as an ox and as anal retentive about cleanliness as Monk and with an extra heaping of smart ass.

He never used my expression, “act like a butt and people will think your a butt” but he taught it to me.

He would call you out if you needed it and when I needed a summer job in college I wasn’t sent to the steel mill’s office to file, he sent me out with a blowtorch and steel toe boots to cut samples over the “cooling beds” of red hot rebar.  He sent me to the noisy “shear” to catch samples of steel bars to grind down for seam allowance tests and to the “yard” to find bundles of rebar to cut and bring back on a fork lift to the lab and inspect.

The guys who worked for him for 20 years would say, “He is about the meanest man I have ever met but he knows what he is doing and I respect him.”  They would also say, “Your dad sent little old you to do THIS job?”

I am sure that the 98 pounds of me with three layers of flame retardant clothing, steel toed boots, protective ear gear and face mask had to look a little funny on me.

He also never said another of my favorite phrases but he taught it to me, “for the love of God, I figure if a man can do it, I surely can.”

When family emergencies arise and you have to be in a hospital waiting room you have to find the humor in this 6′ 3″ man who wont touch the arm rests on the chairs.   Yes, he is that “Monk” from the TV show who doesn’t like germs.

When I was a teenager I came home and discovered my shower head was missing from my bathtub.  I went to tell him thinking we’d been robbed of plumbing fixtures.  He informed me I was “grounded from showers” for not “squeeging” the ceramic tile after I showered to keep water spots from forming…INSIDE THE SHOWER.

He is the kind of man that really does sleep three to four hours a night and carries a bottle of bleach around with him in case anything needs a good scrubbing.

This is why this story will never get old to tell. I

may have been eight years-old. My dad had just mowed the yard and he is hot and thirsty.

My sea monkeys that I mailed away for, that took six weeks to arrive because there was not internet ordering back then, were on our kitchen table.

These were going to be my new pets.  I couldn’t be allergic to sea monkeys, right?  They are underwater and they are cute and the cartoons on the box show them smiling and waiting to be my petsll!  

I am going to be the luckiest girl in town with my own little Sea Monkey Circus.

Photo from “the yeti speaks” here.

My dad had just come in from mowing the yard and grabbed the closest glass of water to the door. He began drinking and I began the phenomenon that occurs when you cannot speak because you are so mortified.

I did the action movie arm outstretched with a slow motion face of “AAoooowwwwaaa!!!!” then “Noooooo!…!…!”

He is downing the glass with his eyes closed and enjoying the cool, refreshing glass of water while sweating and visibly tired from yard work. As he opens his eyes and sets the empty glass down I finally reach him and am sobbing while tugging at his arm.

I am looking to be consoled.

He is looking at me like I have gone mad.

I finally am able to inhale enough to exhale a sentence from my hypervenhilating…


His face.

My God…his face.

His eyes were huge and his head led his body into the kitchen sink.

Turning knob for water. 

Face, mouth, and eyes looking up at ceiling, allowing water to run in and out.

Other hand’s desperate blind feel for the little black levered sprayer.

He is now spraying the water directly into his teeth.

I am silent as he begins the rabid gurgling and spitting.

My tears of horror and sadness are now tears of laughter as this grown man is using his fingernails to pick between each and every tooth.

Will telling this story ever get old?


Me laughing 30 years later…

Once, when I was in college, he asked me NOT to park my dirty car, (boyfriend lived on a dirt road) in his driveway.  He owned a couple of car washes and he said it was as if he were a barber and I was walking around town with a bad haircut.  BTW, I never got a free carwash.

He taught me to work, and that too, I am grateful for.

He also taught me to love unconditionally my children, because in the end, he didn’t. In the end, when my mother died and he remarried he decided he wasn’t my father anymore.  He adopted me when I was three, when my mother married him.  He was the only father I knew for 21 years and I have always loved him.

Even with the rift between my dad that has now spanned 18 years I am still grateful for the gifts he gave me that made me who I am.

I am also grateful that I know to tell my boys that I will love them forever and that they will always be my children.

Happy Father’s Day to my husband Jim and thank you for being the best dad to our boys.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there and to both of mine.  Happy Father’s Day to all of the people that don’t have their dads anymore or may have never had one and may you, too, find the blessings of the father figures you have had in your life and be thankful for them.

Abbie,  All that makes you smile, laugh, think, love, cry or cry laughing.

The Turtle Has 1 Toe On 1 Foot, Like A Human, Wanna See It?

It is 8:00 am on a Saturday.  I am drinking my coffee and Peter, who is already outside looking for critters to be his “pet for a day”, has just run into the house and announced…

“The turtle had one toe on one foot, just like a human toe.  Wanna see it?”

I, of course, said, “YES!”

I am now awaiting his return with the “toe-d turtle.”

It could only get better if he found one of the two-headed turtles we went to see at our local science museum.  That is what you do with mutated animals now instead of a “side-show.”

I can tell it is already going to be one of “those kind” of Saturdays!

Have a great weekend and see you tomorrow!

Abbie,  All that makes you smile, laugh, think, love, cry or cry laughing.

Peter And His 8th Birthday Today!

He had to wake up and put on his shirt with an eight on it!  His favorite number and NOW HIS AGE!

The club had “camping” on the golf course last night.  It was 55 degrees and perfect for sleeping.  Did not bring the air-mattresses since it was only for one night…big mistake!  I never have back pain and I keep having spasms.  Am I getting OLD?  I wish we camped like this when we were kids, with all of our friends.  Peter rescued a girls shoe from the pond which meant going in.  Why do parents look at the parent  of the child that is doing something wacky?  I yelled at the moms and dads that when he gets the flesh eating bacteria I would be calling all of them for skin grafts.  I bought him a net for the ponds with a very, very long handle.

Here he is waking up at campout in tent.

Morning on the golf course.

Probably not as excited as he would have been had he’d gotten the veiled chameleon or Jesus Christ lizard he asked for.  I would be in charge of buying crickets and we would have to listen to them prior to being eaten and I just decided I might go mad feeling like I was in a Poe novel.  He is in his bathing suit, buster brown shoes and a baseball helmet on his new bike.  Did you expect anything different form this kid?

What he is most excited for is the nature blog I am going to help him with.  We are going to try and do a post a week all summer.  That is his gift from mom. 🙂

Happy Sunday and see you tomorrow with a story.

Abbie,  All that makes you smile, laugh, think, love, cry or cry laughing.