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We are on week 3 of Birfday Thursday.  I’ve been so excited to host my friends Laurie and Rhonda and today I welcome another new friend from my new life in NWA and blogger world.  I “met” Debbie through Arkansas Women Bloggers (yes, the one where I’m playing the role of Miss April).  When Rhonda came back from the AWBU conference in 2012, I was so jealous of all the ladies she got to meet in real life and once I determined I was going to join her in 2013, I decided to start stalking following some of these amazing ladies she kept talking about.  Debbie Arnold was one such lady.  A former teacher and current home cook (among other amazing titles), I was enamored with her travels and the food discoveries she made along the way.  I not only loved looking at the recipes she was sharing, but I even more enamored with the stories that they bore.  August of 2013 came and the first person I laid eyes on once we finally arrived at “camp” was @diningwithdeb.  She was gracious, she was courteous, she had the most heart warming smile and she said “get ya a plate”.  We were instantly connected.  I’ve adored getting to know this sweet woman over the past year.  I’m grateful for her online encouragement and the words of truth she speaks into my life.  She gives great hugs and always lifts your spirits.  And, beyond all that, she inspires me so much in this world of writing, blogging and is gifted at mentoring the rest of us who are still learning!  (must be the lifetime teacher!)
I promise you her blog will not disappoint, her recipes will please your family and her stories will warm your heart!
If it’s April, It
Must Be a Birthday

Debbie Arnold of DiningWithDebbie

family broke the record when it came to April birthdays.  There’s my crazy
cousin Libby (don’t worry; I call her that to her face), Uncle Raymond, Libby’s

 my niece Tonia;


and there’s Ryan, and Seth, and Kyle – all brothers whose mother just happens
to be crazy-you-know-who.

mom whose birthday fell on April 15, tax day, bless her heart. 
who live around the world in places like Guam and  Australia that you’ve mostly never met except
to exchange  birthday greetings.  They  may
seem like strangers, but they’re not. 
They’re family.  Nothing breaks
those ties that bind  here in the South.

not forget Cousin Chaz’s hubby Nick and their daughter — they belong in April
as well.

cousins twice and triple removed and far too numerous to mention lest you get
slap-dab bored and leave before I get around to the real birthday story.

see, my dad turned 90 years old on April 12.  Yes, ninety.  The big
Nine O.  In my mind, that’s a pretty big deal.  And a reason to celebrate.

My dad is the oldest son, the third child of
seven, and is one of two still living. When he quit school in the 8th grade it
was to go to work and join the Army and become a man.  He’s. a veteran two
times over, most of which he won’t talk about even to this day.  Many who
know him would say he’s a self-educated man.   He’s loyal and
faithful and honest and he loves his family.   For the most part, he
survived, relatively unscathed, the tribulations of raising two daughters born
five years apart which, of course, means puberty hung around our household for
quite a long time.

The two granddaughters and one grandson
introduced four great grandsons and one great granddaughter into his life, most
of whom came to help him celebrate his special day.  What made it even
more special was that he shared his celebration with his great granddaughter,
my granddaughter,  who is another of those April birthday babies. 
Only she’s turning seven, not double-digit ninety — a span of 83 years made
incredibly small by the bond of family.

Perfect Girl. is as absolutely sweet and
genuine and caring as they come.  When asked, she’ll tell you that she
wants to be a mommy and a cheerleader. She leaves most  sports to her
big brother whom she adores, although she’ll take you on at tennis or swimming
any day. She’ll entertain you with violin or piano recitals and meet any
challenge given to her in gymnastics.  Curly headed like her momma and
Nana, she sometimes prefers pigtails over bows and is just fine with that. 
PG doesn’t get to spend much time with her great grandfather.  The
distance between and the demands of what just is makes it a two to three times
a year encounter.  And when you’re 6, the grasping of all that lineage,
who is who, and how they came to be family, is just not something to be
understood or remembered.  Except you can just know that it’s family, and
that it is important for you to know that.

So because her great grandfather was turning
90, and not because it was her birthday as well, she came to celebrate. 
She came to craft birthday cards, to set the tables, to align the forks and
plates just so, to fill the cups with ice or center the plates of food properly
on the serving tables as only she can do.  To help because being helpful
is something she enjoys

And she came to take her great grandfather by
the hand and help him cut his birthday cake because birthday cakes are very
important.  When you’re 6 or even when you’re 90, they’re important. 
And they are even more important when you get to pick the color (pink, of
course) and the flavor (strawberry, of course) with real chocolate-covered
fruit (strawberries, of course) because you just know in your heart of hearts
that pink and strawberry are absolutely what Pa wants for HIS birthday cake. 
And, as usual, she was right.  Pa, had he been given the choice, would
have most certainly made those very same choices.
well because.  That’s what families do when they come together across the
miles of time and space to share in celebrations of lives well spent and lives
becoming.  It’s what is important whether you’re 90 or 7.  It’s a hug
and a smile and a knowing that you are loved.  

Instagram (diningwithdebbie)

I get to spend part of my birthday weekend with my Papa.  I think I might hug him a little harder after this one!  Thank you Debbie