December 31, 2008

when one door closes

There are so many things we wish for... hope for... dream about. Some happen, and others never come to pass... and we are left wanting. A door closed. As I reflect on the past year, what stands out most is the loss of my school job. I can honestly say that losing that job brought on a crisis of sorts... a crisis of faith. In my own eyes, it was the perfect fit... just right for my family. As the school year came to a close, so many people reminded me that when one door closes, another opens. I believed it... I trusted it... but I didn't want it. The tears, the wishing, the searching... for what I wanted. But as I wrote in my Christmas card this year... change also brings growth, adventure, and unexpected joy. Oh yes... it does. Where would I be? Right where I was... and there were other plans for this life of mine... other plans that were just waiting for change. So here I am... knowing that the plan in play is the right plan... the safe plan... the plan that is truly best for me, and my family. And it is His plan. Yes, when one door closes, another opens... and you have to take that first step, painful though it may be, to get through it. Maybe you won't see it at first... but time will tell... and His plan will unfold and there you will be... right where He wanted you... right where you needed to be. I am looking forward to what lies ahead... looking forward to a new year. There are many things I could choose to improve about myself, but resolutions aren't really me. But my hope for the new year... my prayer... is to be more open to God's plan... to not focus so much on my own. Because I have learned... that an open door is a beautiful thing.

December 30, 2008

his year to shine

My sweet boy celebrated his birthday today... twelve. I still have not figured out where the times goes. The day I finally held him in my arms was a day of absolute joy. Not knowing about boy "stuff" I was afraid to have a baby boy... but there he was... he stole my heart in those first moments, and this heart of mine will never be the same.
This past year has been an incredible growing year for Camden... and for us, as we have struggled along together and overcome. From struggling with schoolwork and ADD to honor roll and scholar bowl... crossing over into Boy Socuts... trying out for percussion and making it! I am so thankful for support along the way- and I am so thankful that our boy has come out shining!

Happy Birthday Camden...

you make me smile...
you make me laugh...
you make me love.
Happy Birthday.

December 25, 2008

i fell in love

Last night I fell in love... all over again. Last night my husband sang in church. I knew he had a solo... but I hadn't heard him practice... at all. And then the other night, finally, I heard his song. And, my heart swelled, and my eyes watered. The full richness of his voice and the song he sang... it was magnificent. I love his singing voice. Much like my daughter's, it seems to come from another place entirely... so unlike their speaking voices. I knew to pack my tissues... I would most likely need them... when I heard my love sing in the dimmly lit church... on Christmas Eve. The candles were flickering on the altar... tiny lights were twinkling behind the manger, like stars in the sky... and his voice was clear, and warm... it touched my heart. I am thankful for this man who shares his gift. I was not the only one with teary eyes...

December 24, 2008

i believe

I was first introduced to the Polar Express in my little hometown book shop... I was eighteen. Even then I knew it was quite a special story... a story about a little boy, a train, and the magic of Christmas... a story about believing. It is a story I knew I would share with my someday children. It is a story that I cannot read aloud without the tears choking my throat... because I believe in Santa. I believe in his joyful, loving spirit, I believe in his giving magic. I believe. Yes, even all of these years later I can still hear that sleigh bell ring. I hope that my children will always hear its sweet sound... that they will always believe in the spirit of Santa... the spirit that gives. Love, joy, and yes, gifts. How I do love that Santa chooses to give on the holiest night of the year! The night that we celebrate God's most perfect gift... baby Jesus... that He gave for all. I suppose I know that Santa's gifts only go to those on the Nice list... that he is watching and knows if we've been bad, or good. And my hope would be that my children will never make that Naughty list! But if they do... I know that does not dismiss them from God's list. Because God's gifts go to all who believe... His perfect gift of the manger is for all who simply believe. Yes, I believe.

in the nick of time

I almost forgot... to take the kids to see Santa. In the midst of celebrating the season and checking off lists, I almost forgot. Maybe in the back of my head I thought that they wouldn't want to go... but all of a sudden, it was important to me. When I asked Cam if he wanted to go and see Santa, he said Yes! with so much enthusiasm that I was thankful that the thought passed my way- because surely it would've been disastrous... when he finally remembered on Christmas Eve.
We have not been to visit Santa at the mall in years... for one reason or another, we have happened to be in Disney World, or in the nearby Disney MarketPlace, at some time during December... and we have had the chance to visit Santa there. This year, we headed to the mall. I was pleased that the line was not too long... and the wait was not too bad. It was just enough time for me to look into my daughter's eyes and say You will smile, and you will look like you are having fun... and then give her the Look a few more times. She didn't want to come. She didn't want her picture taken. She didn't want to sit on Santa's lap. But she would... Because I said so.
Just before our turn, the woman running the Santa Photos told me I would have to put my camera away... no photos on the set. I smiled sweetly, and said Okay and turned off the camera. But there was no way... NO WAY that I was going to not take my own pictures. I would buy one of her exorbitant packages, but I was certainly going to take my own photos as well. I was determined. She made me mad.
When it was finally our turn, Laura & Cam approached Santa with their smiles, and each headed to the side of Santa. Oh no... Santa was not going to accept that... and soon they were both perched on his lap... and I began snapping pictures on the sly. (I have had my camera taken away by security a few times before, so I was not really worried... they are my kids! And I figured, if I had to, I would call my husband the Deputy to get me out of jail. Yes, that is how serious I was about taking the pictures!) Once the Official Santa Photo had been taken, Santa got my kids talking... really talking. Especially Laura. I could see them just chatting away, holding up the line... But I loved it. He drew her back in... and her smile made me smile... made my heart feel light. Ahhh yes, the magic of Christmas.
I did get spoken to about using the camera again... but at that point I had taken a few good shots, and had captured a moment, or two. Because I had to be sneaky, I did miss a second try at a sweet shot of Cam and Santa having a heart to heart, but I am counting on another try... another year.

Just before bed, I remembered to asked Laura what she and Santa were talking about... Oh, I told him I wanted a friend for Scout (the cat.) He told me that he wasn't allowed to bring a real cat, but he told me all of the kinds they do have- ones that meow, ones that walk, ones that breathe up and down.... Oh yes... Thank you, Santa... for knowing just the way to reach this young lady. Thank you.

December 21, 2008

ready or not

Christmas is almost here... the to-do list is getting shorter... and the time is drawing near. Ready or not, Christmas is coming. I can see it in the dancing flames of the candles... I can hear it in the songs of the season.
I can feel it in my heart. Our church service today was beautiful. It was breathtaking, and heart-filling. As the first strains of the music began, I felt my heart tremble... and then felt the play of emotions across my face. And when Laura sang her solo, I was in awe of my own daughter, once again. Her voice clear, and lifted to Him... and full of love for the story... Away in a Manger. I am so thankful... for this story. Of all of the stories that we pass on to our children, and will someday pass on to our grandchildren, isn't this the greatest? And to be able to see it come alive, year after year... in the precious faces of children... and the emotions that swirl in our souls... it is a gift. A good and perfect gift.

I can only imagine what the shepherds were thinking on that night so very long ago... in a town so very far away... because every time I hear the story, share the story, see the story... I am overcome. I am overcome with love... with joy... with wonder. My heart is so ready... to receive this most precious gift God gives us, time and again. Merry Christmas...

December 19, 2008


Eating at my Grandma & Grandpa's house was always an event. Always. Stuffed shells on Sunday, served on green and white plates, and a crisp salad dressed with oil and vinegar. A buttery crisp pancake, made just for me. Vegetable soup, with oyster crackers, of course. Even a can of Chef Boyardee cheese ravioli. It was always special. For the most part, Grandpa was the chef... but not when it came to my favorite cookie. Those were made by Grandma... stored in a cardboard shirt box, lined with wax paper. My soft-pascottis... that is what I called them. The softest mound of cookie drizzled with white glaze, and colored nonpareil sprinkles. My favorite. I can't remember how often she made them... I just remember that when she did, it was the best day ever.

Two years ago I tried to duplicate them... with her recipe. I was filled with anticipation and could practically taste them as the scent drifted out from the oven. And when the timer finally sang its little song, my elation sank... the cookies had all run together. They were not the sweet little mounds I recalled. I was so sad... overwhelmingly so. I quickly cleaned up and moved on, choosing the pretend I had never even tried. For a while, I looked for the recipe online... realizing that they were probably called soft biscottis, not soft-pascottis, but I just wasn't ready to try again. Until now. I came across a recipe in a magazine, with a photo, and thought This might be it.

Waking at a ridiculously early hour, I decided that today I would try. Even as I documented the journey, I was cautious... with my anticipation... with my heart.

The flavors bring me right back to when I was little, and the excitement that filled me when I saw that Grandma was carrying that shirt box. Maybe the success is just a little sweeter knowing that I had failed along the way. And maybe that little Try, try again lesson is ringing inside. No matter what my head is saying, my heart is full...

December 17, 2008

home is...

Visitors sometimes want to know...Do you like living in Florida? Yes... but truly, I would be happy anywhere my family is. They are my home. It helps that we are not far from the waves that roll in and wash the shore... the waves that beckon- run, jump, laugh and play. They are my connection... between what is home, and what was home. The sound of the surf crashing in the distance is music to my heart. Returning to Scituate this weekend for much too short a visit, I was reminded that no matter where I hang my heart, I will always be a New England girl... fascinated by the nooks and crannies of the weathered homes- each one different than the rest... enjoying the burn of the cold wind on my cheeks... laughing at the unique weather- ice storms just miles north of a sixty degree breeze... loving the sound of the waves, and knowing the ocean is just around the bend.

...and no matter how far I travel, or how far I dream, my home will always be with my family. Returning home, full of wistful thoughts, it only took a moment to know... the moment I stepped into my husband's arms... the moment we gathered at the table for a devotion. Yes... home.

December 14, 2008

there is joy

In this third week of Advent the to-do list becomes long, and hurried. It is almost here... Christmas. I am trying to push aside the fleeting moments of panic and focus on the joy. Yes, there is much to do... much to prepare... and most of all, much to protect. My heart... that has prepared Him room... that searches for the simple everyday Christmas magic... that wants others to know the wonder of the manger. In this third week of Advent, I will not forget to seek the joy that comes at Christmas. There are still doors to open on the Advent calendars. There are still candles to light and songs to sing. There are still many items on my to-do list- but none more important than remembering the joy that comes brand new each year... in a little stable... in a little Baby.

the best of me...

some favorite bloggers....

bloggers i know in real life
Carie, my forever friend @ Living a Life... Unfettered
Suz, the one who makes me laugh @ Day by Day with Suz
Wendi, whose daughter cracks me up @ This I Know
Heather, my long-ago neighbor @ The Roman Empire
bloggers who are friends of the heart
Jenn @ Randolph Six
Kat @ Reflections
Jen @ Unglazed
Erin @ Together for Good
Jo @ Mylestones
Richella @ Imparting Grace
Kelli @ Joy
Dawn @ The Goodlife
Tiffany @ Songbird Tiff
Elizabeth @ Boy Crazy
Lori @ Lions, Tigers & Bears Oh My!
bloggers who make my day
Emily @ Chatting at the Sky
Melissa @ A Familiar Path
Hillary @ The Other Mama
Michelle @ Interstitial Life
Rosie @ Twice as Nice
Julie @ Jam*n*Jilly
Kay @ Notes from the Wall
Cynthia @ Running With Letters
Sandy Toes @ Shell in My Pocket
MaryLou @ Smiling Eyes
Deb @ Talk at the Table

December 12, 2008

December 10, 2008

me, interrupted

I was putting on a pair of earrings the other morning, and had a quick thought... These are the third pair I've worn this week- I think I'm me again! Silly, I know... but the Me I long to be cares about things like this... and about remembering birthdays, and sending cards, and having time for the ones I love. It is nice to know that I am back... but it does bring back memories from the last time I lost myself during what I call the Pre-School Years. Those years were wonderful for my kids... new discoveries, making friends, exploring the great wide world. But for me? I enjoyed their moments... their joys were my joys... their lives were what mine revolved around, and rightly so. But what did that leave for me? Not much energy... not much patience... and months between any moment with my husband more intimate than an obligatory kiss goodbye as he left for work. I loved staying home with my kids. I wanted to be there... and I enjoyed it... but along the way I lost Me. The Me that cared about sending a birthday card, or painting toe nails, or preparing a meal. During those years I think my husband carried his 100%, and half of mine. In the moment, you push on... perhaps taking a moment to sit behind a locked door, tears spilling into your hands, instead of walking out the door. Life just is, and you carry on the best you can... making time for friends with little ones, so that at least you know you are not alone. But looking back on it? It was hard... and messy... and I would never go back. Sure, I miss those tiny hands and feet... and experiencing, through new eyes, all of the wonderous things that little ones discover and learn. But as I see my sister going through this herself, all of the feelings of inadequacy tumble back around me, and my heart breaks for her. Watching her struggle, and juggle joy with frustration with weary eyes and soul is painful- and knowing I can't take it from her is worse. Everyday she has my prayers, my encouragement and my love... but I wish I could do more. I don't really think there is any way to skip over this phase though... the tough times and how we handle them become valuable lessons that we need for another day. I hope though, that one day soon my sister will catch a glimpse of herself in the mirror and think Oh, there you are! I thought I had lost you.

December 08, 2008

eight on eight (okay, maybe nine)

Suz made me cry today over her ornaments... really, I thought I'd only ever cry over my own! So, as an excuse to show off a few more memories, here I go! While I managed to get some great shots of my ornaments, it does show off how fake my tree is. Oh well... it looks pretty from across the room, and with an evergreen candle burning, it feels just like Christmas to me!

1. My Favorite
Truly, any ornament that one of my children has made for our tree is my "favorite." But maybe, my favorite store bought one is... Ice cream is my blood, I think.

2. The Oldest
This one should've made "favorite" status... but it is practically the oldest (since I already showed of my actual oldest in a prior post!) This was made by my Mom... she blew the egg and decoupaged my favorite little blue flowers. It used to get wrapped up in tin foil, and I remember that was how I knew how to find it.

3. The FunniestYou can't get much funnier than veggies dressed up as reindeer & Santa... unless you are singing right along with them in the car!

4. Most Memorable
That is hard... I don't want to hurt any feelings out there on the tree... but this is the one (two, since that other one snuck in the photo!) I am choosing. This panda is so special to me because of our Zoo proposal; and of course, the other one is there because I am his Beauty, and he is my Beast... we loved dancing to that song at our wedding.

5. The UgliestI made this, so it is okay that I am deeming it the ugliest. Please, this is not a current craft project, I was little... in Girl Scouts. The funny thing is, I made two, and they are both on the tree!

6. The ReddestLaura was just shy of a year old, and we stopped at Hershey Park on the way home to MA. Poor girl... she will never live it down, but we gave her a dollar, and she dropped it without us knowing. We bring it up and blame her, but what were we thinking giving her a dollar to begin with?? Regardless, we love this little sled, which also reminds us of Laura's first winter... and the little red sled we pulled her around the yard in.

7. The Greenest
Oh, the fabulous Rockettes! Need I say more?

8. The Tree Topper
We chose her as a family, at Bronner's in Michigan. Glorious!

Won't you join the fun?