Category Archives: Family

The Rainbow Bridge

When the sun rises, we have no idea what’s in store for us that day.  It could be a typical get your son out of bed and to school (hopefully) on time kind of day, or it could be a day that’s filled with fun and adventure.  Or it could be one of those days that you just want to stay in bed.  Recently I had a couple of the latter days happen.  We unexpectedly lost one of our dear pets, then 3 weeks later, we lost another one.  Both our dog and our older cat were found to have cancer.  Our cat, Tabitha, was 15 and losing lots of weight over a couple of months.  She gave us a few weeks to realize we had to let her go, as everthing the vets tried to do to help her was not helping her. But our equally beloved dog Blu – we had no idea he was ill and within a matter of hours one night, we had to say goodbye.>
For those of us who truly love our furry family members, you will understand why I found myself pulling the covers over my head and just hoping I had had a bad dream.  Letting my hand out from under the covers and laying it beside the bed, hoping to feel that wet nose touch it one more time.  I am still devastated by this loss and now having had to say goodbye to our cat, I feel like I’m crumbling inside.  I know it will take time, but my heart misses them both so much.

A couple of weeks ago I began writing about Blu.  For pet lovers, I share this with you, as you will understand.

                                                                    ODE TO BLU  Waking up in the morning with you was like having a soft alarm go off, one that nuzzled me with a wet nose at 6:30a.m., every day break.  Still lying in bed, I would open my eyes and say, “Good morning Blu,“ as you peered sweetly into mine in hopes that I would quickly rise to begin our day together.  I would touch your velvety head and ears, as many times I would hope for a few more minutes to wake up, so you would kindly go back to your soft pillow at the end of my bed and wait patiently for my feet to slowly come out from under the blankets.

Once up, you would dash down the stairs. I would hear thud, thud, thud, your legs inevitably missing one or two of the steps as you anticipated the outside door opening and your first smell of the fresh morning air hitting your face.  Okay, you just needed to go to the potty, but I could tell you loved the ritual too. Then of course,                                                                                                  you would come bounding back inside to find your food dish with heart meds                                                                                                          waiting for you to devour.

I don’t know, maybe hoping that some of the cat food will finally today be yours, or maybe it’s just how we danced.  Your large body always lying in the doorway between the kitchen and dining room, many times I would trip while trying not to step on you.  You lay there, trusting that I would not. 

When I would finally head out the door to take Zach to school, your eyes would look so wantingly to hear the words “Do you wanna come”?  I would usually wait until the afternoon to take you when it wasn’t so cold outside, but you never stopped giving me that look.  I would tell you I’ll return soon and you would give me a “woof” as I locked the door behind me. 

I’ll never forget the day you came home with us.  You jumped into our car as if to say, “Let’s go on this new adventure!”  You looked back at your old family with a sad look, then you began a new life with us.  Being adopted, I felt we are kindred spirits, but your story was much different than mine.  You were 5 years old when we brought you home, the same age as our son Zach.  You flawlessly slipped into your role as “our” dog.
You instantly became a part of our family with so much love and enthusiasm!

We were told that your name came from your once puppy blue eyes.  We loved your name because WE are Michigan Wolverine fans and we would say, “Let’s Go Blu” all of the time!  More fun came when we adopted a little gray kitten a few years later and named her Maizie (Maize and Blu).

You came with many toys; balls, bones, leashes and such, but
your favorite was the bad cuz ball.  We had never heard of this, but the devilish (blue, red, green or orange) ball (a ball with feet and little horns) was your favorite.  You wouldn’t even pick up another kind of ball – silly boy!  So whenever you would lose a ball in the woods, we knew that we had to replace it with a bad or good cuz ball.  Otherwise it was a waste of our money.  I remember one time you played fetch in the rain for 4 hours when we had workers at my dad’s house.  They would throw the ball every time they went by you and you just kept bringing it back to whomever would throw it again!  You were so tired that night, but loved every minute of that day.

It was so wonderful having you at my office that first year you came home with us and now that I’ve been working at home, I’ve treasured having you here all of the time.  I think you felt the same, letting me know you were there checking on me, but most importantly, you would alert me if anyone was outside, like the mailman.  I had to laugh when the mailman said he thought you were a mean dog by the sound of your bark…ha ha…far from it, just a great protector!

You were so smart Blu. You didn’t respond to the word “speak” when you came to us, almost like you wanted to resist it, so I taught you the word “woof” and you began to let out a little woof here and there – and if I kept asking, it will become a big WOOF!  Within this last year you started to howl, which always made me howl!  It was so funny to hear you do this, but it was almost like you were embarrassed to let it out and if I dared laugh, you look so sad, that I had to hold in my laughter even more!  Oh, I love you Bluie!

You always loved going for a walk and all it would take was grabbing the leash and you are bouncing around the house!  You were usually so good about staying with me in the yard, but there were a few unscheduled trips through the woods, down to the river and somehow you always come out the other side in the parking lot of the Denny’s restaurant!  It was so frustrating, because I would always worry that you would be picked up by someone and taken home with them.  The best thing I ever bought was your dog tag with my phone number on it.  Thanks to the many wonderful people who used that number to let me know that they found you.  I’ll never forget the time I got a call at 3a.m. when I was in Hawaii, when you decided to go on an adventure just before your doggie caretaker was to leave for her work!  Thankfully we all connected and you were found, again at Denny’s!    

The secret to keeping your attention – treats!  You LOVED your treats!  Sit, laydown, stay, woof, shake, give me a
kiss…you would do anything for a treat!

One of the smartest things you ever did was to humbly let the cats rule the house.  Even though you were 8 times larger than they were, you would let them pass by, use your big pillow (little cat on a BIG pillow, so funny to see with you laying on the
floor next to the pillow).  You seemed to have this respect for them, even when they would whack at your tail whenever you would walk by.  You were such a good boy.
Sometimes you were such a lab too.  Like getting water all over the floor in the dining room, kitchen and sometimes all the way into the living room after you took a drink!  We may have commented, but never did we complain.

“Do you wanna go for a ride?” or just picking up your leash would get you sooooo excited! The way you would hop into the back seat of the van and look out the back window at the cars. It was so sweet and I know you made a lot of people smile when they saw you.  Woof, woof! You would say to anyone passing by the car.

I loved it when you would put your chin on my foot or leg, so you could be closer, as if to say, “Can I come on the sofa with you?”  Oh those sad eyes, how you could make them work for you, just like a little girl looking up at her daddy!  Whenever we would leave the house, the sofa became yours and we would see you slowly getting down as we turned the key and opened the door upon our return.
You allowed so many little ones who had never been around a dog to feel comfortable around you and many fell in love with you.  Thank you for being so gentle with them.
When the snow fell you would run and jump and dive into the fluffy stuff, coming up with it on your nose. I loved watching you play outside. You had this fun gallup, like a colt running for the first time in the spring, then pouncing on your ball, like a kitten with a ball of yarn.  
You certainly caught Eric off guard, opening up his heart to love you like he never thought possible for a dog.  Your kisses, just for him and that last one…just for him.  He was a man who grew up with felines, but you dear Blu, YOU melted his heart.
I miss you so much Blu. You came to us through another loving family, one that was so gracious to share your life after 5 years, with us. You trusted us to take care of you, but really, you took care of us.  Your love was so unconditional and your spirit still swallows us up as we feel the tears flowing down our cheeks whenever we think of you. 
There were a few difficult times over the years, watching you fall to the ground in mid run when chasing your ball, just to find out that you had a leaky heart valve. Or having your leg wrapped up because you tore a ligament. And what was up with the bad habit of going to the bathroom in the basement if the door was left open? You were normally so good about letting us know that you needed to go out…still a mystery.  We got through all the tough times…except this one.
As I walk through the woods now, remembering the first time we were on this path, then 5 year old Zach holding you on leash, you both so full of life.  I took this photo of you two in the woods, with winter surrounding us, happiness exuding from your
bodies; new buddies with hundreds of adventures to come.  You will always be in our hearts dear Blu.  And now that you are joined by our dear beloved cat Tabitha, we picture you both playing at the rainbow bridge, with plenty of treats, cuz balls and sofas with sunshine to lay on! 
XOXOXOXOXO, Janice, Eric, Zach &; Maizie


Happy New Year to everyone!  2014 is bringing in many new and exciting experiences for us all!  To begin with, we had negative temperatures far lower than I could ever imagine, or at least want to experience (-45 wind chill – burrrrrrrrr!), which caused several days of hibernating at home for me and my family.  It was nice for a while, but by the third day we were all getting a little stir crazy in our small condo.  It’s great to get back into our daily routine.

Soon I will be sharing with you a new:

It’s something that I’ve actually done for a long time, by telling your story through photographs, but I’m pulling it all together as a package that you can make choices from AND it will help me to get to know you a little better! More details to come soon!

Blessings in 2014 to all!


ipod time



soccer fun


listening to music



reading, wherever


Thanksgivikkah in Chicago

A few weeks ago my son and I heard on NPR that the next time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day it will be in 79,000 years.  He found this information fascinating and shared his Public Radio information throughout that weekend with any and everyone that would listen.

So my husband’s family is split on religious terms.  His dad celebrates Christmas, but his stepmom and her family celebrate Hanukkah.  As you probably know, usually the two holidays are celebrated in the month of December, but this year Hanukkah was in November, so we had a dual Thanksgiving and Hanukkah celebration, Thanksgivikkah.  Turkey for lunch and dreidel playing and the lighting of candles in the evening. 

Our combined families, that come from as far as California, has now grown to over 20 people getting together for Thanksgiving.  This year we all met at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Chicago…one of my favorite large cities.  We had a fabulous time, although unfortunately I was very ill much of the time.  I did however get in a few hundred photographs before heading back to Michigan. 

A night view from our city view room.

Cousins having fun at Shedd Aquarium.

Lakeside view from Grandpa and Grandma’s room.

Playing hide in the pillow fort in the big bed.

Thanksgiving day lunch in a private room at the Sofital Hotel.

Z chose an untraditional TG dinner, steak and French fries off the kids menu.

More Sofital.

View from the Sofitel.


Breakfast with a view.

Our hotel was so beautifully decorated for the Christmas season.

A sneak peak of the playroom.

Grandma’s fun menorah.

Cousins on their way to the famed Home Alone 2 pool.

A beautiful church across the street from our hotel.

The shops connected to our hotel…very nice.

More of the church across the street.

The famed Water Tower.

I love the horse and carriages!

Packed and time to go home after lunch.

What’s the score dad?

Inside the 900 Shops mall.

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you celebrate Hanukkah, happy, happy to you too!

The Splashing Of The Stones

Sweet little Oliver recently turned 2 1/2, so we met at Mill Pond Park to capture his wonderment and play. His cautious ways were a breath of fresh air, as I’m used to chasing after many kids, including my own!  He was so inquisitive, talking in such perfect sentences.  He loved the castle-like play structure with its ins and outs, and the truck and digger in the sandbox, but I think it was the splash of the stones hitting the water that brought him the most delight!  Looking forward to seeing you again in the snow Oliver!

Viewing D.C.

After planning a family trip to Washington D.C. for years, we finally did it! It seemed there was always something that stood in our way, but this year we ventured east, to Gettysburg, then on to D.C. for a week long immersion of U.S. history.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  Our history enthusiast, our 11 year old son, soaked up every minute from the battles to the Smithsonian’s  wonders and we never heard the words all parents cringe at, “I’m bored!” 

Bring Change To Mind

Originally I was going to share this site Bring Change To Mind in my January Charity section, but in light of what has happened recently in Newtown, Connecticut, I am posting it earlier.  My blog site is not meant to be political or opinionated about big issues.  It’s to show the wonderful lives of the children, families and our pets enjoying our ZEN Lifestyles.  I think this tragedy has touched so many in our world that I feel it important to share a site that a friend had recently posted on Facebook.  Her son, like so many other sons, daughters, parents and grand parents struggle with mental illness. My own mother suffered for years with bi-polar disease, so I know first hand how difficult it is to be the helpless one trying so desperately to find the right help for your struggling loved one.

Like most, I am heartbroken for the families who lost their children, worried for the first responders who will never forget what they saw, but did their jobs to help save others and get answers as quickly as possible, and saddened that those with a mental illness have such a difficult time getting help when they need it, before their illness takes over and hurts others..

Bring Change To Mind
and kids alike are dealing with mental illness in our world. Unfortunately,
most people do not look at it as an illness. Bring Change To Mind is
working to erase the stigma of mental illness. You can help by reading their
website, having an open mind as to how this illness takes over someones life
and how you can help to understand what someone dealing with a mental illness is
going through. With this kind of understanding, you can bring awareness and and
help remove misconceptions for others. Consider holding a drive or even send a
donation their way to help us Bring Change To Mind.

May we find a way to make a positive change for everyone.

Many blessing to you all

Janice K. Nelson

Miss You, Dad

In August of 2009 I took this photograph of my dad leaning against the gate
of his garden. He worked so hard throughout his whole life, and his garden was
something that he was always proud of, something that you had to take a walk
through every time you came to visit. If it was harvest season, you could be
sure to take home lots of fresh vegetables.

It turned out that this would
be the last photograph that I could ever take of my dad. In November of that
year he fell, while cleaning his chimney and died of severe injuries. This
photo means so much to me because it’s how I remember my dad throughout his
life. I’m so glad I happened to capture him in his ZEN

Happy Holidays!

THANKSGIVING 2012 – St. Joseph, MI.

Twenty three family members and
friends-like-family came together at my in-laws’ lake house to celebrate
Thanksgiving 2012. Many of us meeting for the first time, we enjoyed getting to
know one another, spent time walking the beach and eating lots and lots of
turkey! Lots of fun was had by all!