Tag Archives: birthday

Another Special Day by John E. Stack

Today marks a very special day.  In the doctor’s eyes, this special day was never supposed to happen.  Nor were the six before it.  Today is my daughter’s seventh birthday.  At seven years old, Allie is full of herself.  And, rightly so, because she has come a very long way.

We originally met Allie when she was 4 months old.  We are foster parents and she was in the pediatric intensive care at a hospital over an hour from where we live.  Right after she was born, she developed what is called “short gut” syndrome.  Due to lack of oxygen, her intestines started to die.  Her birth mom smoked a lot so delivery would not be so painful, but it was devastating to the baby.  After several surgeries, the doctors had removed around eighty percent of both her large and small intestines. 

Allie came to live with us at around six months of age.  The doctor at the hospital told us she was very sick and she didn’t expect the baby to live more than three weeks.  I won’t go into what my wife told that lady doctor.  We took her home and treated her as if she were our own – holding, loving, cuddling.

At that time, Allie was on a feeding tube and IV nutrition.  She had not been held or bonded with.  Through time, she has gone through more surgeries for intestinal blockages.   She has gone through occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.

We quickly fell in love and knew that God had placed her in our lives.  At two years of age her adoption became final.  I became a dad again at the age of 56.

She is now in the first grade (a lot the doctor knew).  She is still in speech therapy but no longer has a feeding tube.  She has always been smaller than her peers, but is now starting to grow and is actually taller than some of them. 

Intellectually, she is doing great. Speech helped her to learn words that she did not know.  She taught herself to read at age three and now is reading chapter books, such as Nancy Drew Mysteries.

Allie surprises us every day with something new.  She is AMAZING.  God has blessed us in our old age with this wonderful little girl.  And, we praise him.   

To Allie:

Happy Birthday, my baby girl.  I love you!


***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.  He is also the author of soon to be released Cody and the Great Zoo Escape and Secret Lives (of middle school teachers).


Filed under children's books, John Stack, life, musings, writing

Wish List, by Carole Howard

It’s my birthday today. There, I’ve said it.

If you’re wondering what you could get me, and you can’t manage to bring about peace in the Middle East or an end to childhood hunger, here are some other ideas – of both the sublime and the ridiculous persuasion. If you could work any of them out, I’d really appreciate it.


I’d like it if:

… all politicians told the truth.

… ice cream were really really good for you.

… they didn’t have to torture those poor geese to make foie gras – what my friend calls “Liver Haagen Dazs.” Then I could start eating it again.

… I could read as fast as my niece, who seems to inhale books.

… all schools, public and private, were as good as the very best schools are now – and I’m not talking about the results of standardized tests.

… my left-hand pinky were a little longer, so I could get some of those notes on the violin without feeling like my finger’s on the rack.

…everyone bought, read, liked, and reviewed my books. (I just couldn’t resist.)

every citizen did some community service: military, Peace Corps, road-building, candy-striper, whatever.

… ice cream were really really good for you. (You say I listed that one already? Oh well.)

… the blooming period of peonies and lilacs were longer. I’d settle for just two extra weeks. I honestly don’t think I’d value them any less if they weren’t so fleeting.

… there were no mosquitos. (Actually that one’s for my husband. You’re welcome, honey.)

… ice cream were…… Oh right. I’ve mentioned that one already.

There are so many more. I haven’t even gotten to cures for various diseases, finding a place to put your purse when driving a car, or accommodating lefties in a right-handed world.

If you have any wishes – wacky or realistic – that I might also like, I’ll add them to my list. Tag, you’re it.

* * *

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, published by Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under Humor

What a Day – Happy Birthday my Littlest Princess by John E. Stack

Today was a big day – a REALLY big Day. Today (Saturday) we celebrated my baby girl’s 5th birthday. Allie has grown up so much and we never knew whether we would see this day or not. I know that some get tired of hearing other people talk about their children and if that is you feel free to hit the delete key. Anyway, we had a busy day. It was predicted that we have thunder storms all day and when we got up it was raining. We had planned to have the party outside since the long range forecast did not mention rain, but things changed. We all prayed that things would clear before party time.

Allie is a Frozen fanatic so we had a Frozen birthday. It is all we have heard about since she saw the movie. For the last month she has told everyone that she talked to that she was having a Frozen party. We ended up having about 35 people, mostly adults. We had wall hangings of Anna, Elsa and Olaf. We had Pin the Nose on Olaf game. We had Frozen necklaces and Anna/Elsa centerpieces. And, we had a Frozen piñata filled with chocolate. Oh, and we were supposed to grill out.

Our prayers about the weather were answered. Just before noon it stopped raining and the skies cleared up. The humidity spiked but by party time it was really nice outside.

After about an hour we were mostly through with eating, but not quite ready for cupcakes. Suddenly, we had a visitor. My wife had arranged for Queen Elsa to stop by and spend some time with the girls. Allie screamed as soon as she saw who it was. The closer she came the more excited Allie got and the louder she got. Queen Elsa played games and made crowns and took lots of pictures with the girls.

We tried to get my grandson to join in but he didn’t like princesses. He wanted to make a crown, but there was no way he was going to be seen with a princess. He is almost 4. After they moved on to the next thing he took time to sit and make his own crown.

Elsa stayed about an hour and the party started to dwindle down. The excitement lingered for several more hours. Now we have cleanup and thank you notes. Yes, we still believe children should write thank you notes. This birthday will be one long remembered.

We received another blessing this week too. This past Saturday was the Bookmarks Festival in Winston-Salem, NC. The book that Allie helped me write, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure was released at the festival. Since that day she has read the book twice a day and carries it everywhere she goes.

Through all of this I’ve come to realize that life is not about things. Things break. Memories last forever. I think Allie stored a lot of treasures today.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Trip at the Zoo and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure (co-authored with Allie). These can be purchased from Second Wind Publishing or on Amazon.

1 Comment

Filed under children's books, John Stack, life, writing


Happy 4th of July.

Today we celebrate the winning of our independence with a flourish of fireworks, gathering with family and sharing of the bounty of food and drink available to us all.

However, as we celebrate let us pause to remember that our freedom is a hard won gift from all those who have served this nation. Many have given their lives so that we can enjoy privileges such as free speech, the right to vote for all~ not just a privileged few who are land owners or possess wealth, the right to worship as we please with no state religion imposed upon us~ to name a few of the many blessings that come with being an American.

Over the years, I have had the rare privilege of living and working overseas in Europe, the Mideast and Africa. Living and working in these parts of the world is a lot different then being a tourist. You see the everyday grind of life in these nations. As a result of these experiences I have come to appreciate even more the freedoms we possess in America.

The United States is not perfect, far from it. However as we struggle as a nation to one more time redefine who we are in the world, we make great strides and we also stumble on the path. But no matter what, there is no other finer place that I know of then the good old USA.

So – with that said, no matter your party affiliation, no matter your religious views, no matter your race or preference of lovers, we come together in this melting pot of diversity to celebrate the birth of this nation.

Our nation.

Our Home!

Happy Birthday USA! May we celebrate for generations and generations to come! May we celebrate with joy and safety as we remember the struggles that brought us to this place in time and history.

HAPPY 4th of JULY !!!

S. M. Senden author of Clara’s Wish, Lethal Boundaries and A Death of Convenience.

Leave a comment

Filed under writing


Today is my birthday.

As I count the years I have lived, I see a world so different from the one I was born into; some for the better, some to the detriment.  I think of the people I have known, the things I have done and the places I’ve been, and the memories I treasure.

I remember some birthdays as special, not for the presents, but for the things that were done with love.  It was my father who always strove to do the loving thing.  He was not good at expressing himself verbally, but he would do little things that let me know that he’d thought of me.  In late summer a small packet of raspberries would magically appear on the table.  He knew they were my absolute favorite in the world, and they were very dear.

When I was in grade school, he contrived a silly game for one of my birthday parties.  He spent hours creating this.  Each guest and I were given one end of a string.  We were to follow that string, wrapping it onto the small stick it had been bound to, following it to the end to the prize at the end.  He strung the yard and garden.  It was the best fun we ever had at a birthday.  He enjoyed watching us as we unraveled the maze in the yard he’d created.

My father also loved to cook.  At some point in time he made a spice cake with caramel icing.  It became my favorite from then on.  Once again, that quiet, shy man would spend the time to make the spice cake from scratch, and whip up the caramel icing in the saucepan filling the house with the fragrance of butter and sugar as it blended.  Wordlessly, there would be my cake, my father smiling with pride in the creation of a confection of love.

It has been years since I’ve had that particular cake.  My father has been gone now for nearly twenty-five years.  I am fast approaching the age he was when he died.  For my birthday this year I went to the bakery and ordered a spice cake with caramel icing.  As I brought it home and set it on the kitchen counter, I wondered if it would be close to the cake of memory made with so much love.

I sliced into the cake, and the spices wafted my way, calling me back to birthdays from the past.  I tasted the cake, one small forkful.  The blend of the spice and the caramel melted on my tongue, and I was back in the home of my youth, a cake before me, made by my father, a kind, reticent and gentle man who loved his children, but didn’t know how to say it.  He could only try to do the little things that let me know I was loved.

For my birthday, I wish everyone love, joy and peace.  Remember to do the little things that can make all the difference in a person’s life.  Right now, I’m going to go enjoy another piece of my spice cake with the caramel icing.


Filed under life, musings

Short and Sweet

So it’s my birthday, anniversary and Memorial Day. Therefore my post is short and sweet. Happy birthday to me. I am thankful for another year. Happy Anniversary to my husband and best friend. At 18 yrs babe we’re just getting started. God bless the families of all the fallen warriors. Thank you for what you risked and gave for us while doing a job that is often thankless. You will never be forgotten.


Filed under writing

Memories… Sweetened Through the Ages by Sherrie Hansen

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “old  days” this week. My bed and breakfast, the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House, in St. Ansgar, Iowa, has been open for 20 years as of February 1st, which was also my 55th birthday. It’s definitely a time to think back, to remember what things were like those many years ago.

Memories are a funny thing. I learned in Childhood Psych that 90% of a child’s brain and 85% of their social skills and personality develop before they are 5 years old. Yet most of us have very few memories of anything that happened to us in this time period.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are sleeping out under the stars with my dad and my sister Becky, on the farm where we lived in Grand Meadow, Minnesota, when we were little. I can remember Marty Hedstrom, a teenager who worked for my Dad one summer, singing “Sherry Baby” to me and rescuing me from the bumblebees who were after me in the haymow of the barn where I used to play.  I can remember standing next to my Great Grandma Matilda Paulson  and my Grandma Victoria at  First Baptist Church singing “Holy Holy Holy”.  I can remember climbing on the school bus on the first day I went to school, the day my baby brother and sister were born, and the day my Grandpa Hansen died. Some of these experiences have already ended up in or certainly may one day find themselves into books I’ve written – in one form or another.

My 25 year old nephew and his pretty wife, Kayla, sang “Sherry Baby” to me this weekend at my birthday / anniversary party. What a flood of memories it brought back! Because I don’t have children of my own, my nieces and nephews are very special to me. I hope that I have made an impact on their lives as well, and that they will carry memories of me and the fun times we’ve shared at the Blue Belle Inn and our family gatherings with  them long after I’m gone.

My 5, 7 and 10 year old nieces and nephews were at my party, too. The girls helped get people registered for the door prizes. The two youngest were waitress and waiter and helped clear plates and take them to the kitchen. They were very intense about collecting the dirty plates (Will you please hurry up and finish eating your food so I can take your plate?) and did their jobs well.

I will have to give them some tips next time I see them. (They had to leave early because it was past their bedtime.) Right before they left, the girls entertained us by singing our favorite song, “He Knows My Name,” while I played the piano.

My hope is that they will retain their memories of the very special night they shared with their old Aunt Sherrie at the Blue Belle Inn. Maybe one of them will blog about it one day when they’ve heard “Sherry Baby” played on the radio… er… computer.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have children, but it’s important to me that someone remembers that I’m not just Blue Belle Sherrie (the main hat I’ve worn for the past 20 years). I want someone to know and remember that I climbed Pike’s Peak when I was younger, that I learned to disco dance when I lived in Germany back in the late seventies at the height of the Saturday Night Fever era. I want someone to remember that I went to Wheaton College, and saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller concert at Mile High Stadium in Denver and spent a night at a Benedictine Monastery in Bavaria. And that I made the best Jaeger Schnitzel and Spaetzle noodles this side of the great pond.

I hope you have some sweet memories, too – perhaps something you’ve read in one of my books has evoked a recollection or brought tears to your eyes. I also wish for each of you someone who knows you and loves you enough to remember unique things about you.

Thanks for letting me be nostalgic on the occasion of my big birthday and anniversary. Andrew Lloyd Webber says it well…

All alone in the moonlight
I can dream of the old days
Life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again.

And if you’re a child of the seventies like I am, I’m sure this song conjurers up the very thing it talks about…

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine

Quiet thoughts come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories,
Sweet memories

Of holding hands and red bouquets
And twilights trimmed in purple haze
And laughing eyes and simple ways
And quiet nights and gentle days with you.

Some of my favorite memories – and ones that will almost certainly die with me, since all my friends from that era are my age or older – are of the 12 years I lived in Colorado Springs. During that time, I heard Amy Grant sing this song in concert three or four times. From the song “I Will Remember You”…

Later on
When this fire is an ember
Later on
When the night’s not so tender
Given time
Though it’s hard to remember darlin’
I will be holding
I’ll still be holding to you
I will remember you

So many years come and gone
And yet the memory is strong
One word we never could learn
True love is frozen in time
I’ll be your champion and you will be mine
I will remember you

Being a writer, I’ve always thought that stories are the best way to share memories. I hope one day, you’ll read mine.

Happy Birthday to me. Cheers to 20 years at the Blue Belle Inn. And a toast to memories that live on forever in the minds of the those who love us.

(Sherrie Hansen is the author of 4 books:  Night and Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.)


Filed under Sherrie Hansen, writing