July 31, 2008

there's no place like home

She's home, she's home, she's home! Safe and sound, and happy. I knew Laura wouldn't really be ready to come home. She didn't even call us until her last night in Texas, just a text from her last Friday saying "I'm having so much fun!" She could've stayed, and they would've kept her... but if you want to go back, you have to come home first, so here she is. Home. With lots of stories... and a few new experiences. I am thankful that I was brave enough to let her go... I am thankful that she was brave enough to want to go- and brave enough to follow through. I don't mind my children going here and there... but it is a full, complete feeling when we are all together in the same room once again.

July 27, 2008

sweet revenge

I think we played eight or nine hands of UNO yesterday- Cam, Gramma & I. What a game! I love a game that stands the test of time- one that I loved as a kid, and that my kids love now. Over the years, there have been countless versions of the game- they keep trying to make it better or more fun. Uno Attack is pretty fun, but Barbie UNO? It's just cruel with that "trade hands" card! Regular old UNO is just fine with us... because I think a game is just a game- it's the fun YOU add to it that makes it fun to play time after time after time! And I think my family sure knows how to add the fun. It's the game where you are allowed to be mean to each other, in a playful way, and get away with it. "Draw Two!" No, I mean "Draw Four!" Ha, ha "Skip" you! Oh, I don't think you have enough cards, "Draw Two" more!Well, you don't get away with it for long though- before you know it, someone throws down a "reverse card" and the table is turned- revenge is sweet! We played UNO a lot growing up... but the most memorable, to me, is when we were up in Vermont at Thanksgiving and we'd play with a table of nine. There was so much laughter. And last summer, Laura & I started an ongoing UNO game while we were camping at Stone Mountain. I hope they never stop making UNO cards... it's so much fun... and even if you lose almost every hand out of nine, and your Gramma beats the pants off of you, you walk away smiling- not because it's fun to lose, but just because it's fun to play.

July 26, 2008

splashes of grace

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Heb 1:1

One of my biggest blessings is that God has given me the gift of faith. It is just in me to believe... in Him... in Jesus... in His promises... without seeing. I don't need tangible proof to know that I am never alone, it has been planted in my heart, my soul. I am so thankful for this gift. I would not be "me" without it. That being said, I love to sit back in nature and take it all in- the beauty created by His hands alone- and thank God for this beautiful earth. And sometimes, I am lucky enough to hear a soft "you're welcome." It is the cool breeze on my shoulders... the warmth of the sunshine on my face... or maybe even a dolphin gracefully gliding by. There is something about a dolphin in the wild that makes my heart feel so full and wonderfully special- as if splashed by grace. It almost feels magic. While we were on vacation, I was standing on the balcony of the hotel when we spotted four dolphins playing in the surf. They were just riding the waves... like we had been the day before. I took pictures, but how can you capture that magic? I think you just need to stop and experience it. I had another chance today... we were at my Mom's house, chatting in the kitchen, when all of a sudden Cam yelled, "dolphin!" We raced outside to the dock, and were finally able to see it just playing and swimming and splashing in the canal. I ran to get my camera- and I did get a couple of pictures as it was gliding through the water, just feet from us. But my camera did not capture my heart... or the feelings... it just couldn't fit the fullness of my heart into the frame. I think next time I'll just skip the camera, and sit back, and just enjoy. Moments like this remind me to live. To just be thankful in the moment, and know that my heart will carry my memory... that moments like this are too precious and too few to be racing for the camera. I do not need reassurance to know that He is near... but when He whispers to me in a moment like this, I am abundantly thankful... and my faith is once again refreshed and new.

July 24, 2008

praying for wings

Yesterday I let go more than I ever have... I am not a worrier... I am not a Mom who hovers... and yesterday morning was tougher than I ever thought it would be. Laura flew to Dallas... on her own. Was she nervous? Nope. Not her. Sometimes I think she never gets nervous, but how can that be? She was just excited to be able to go and visit her cousin, and I was happy that she was having the chance. We said goodbye, and the flight attendant whisked her off onto the plane. I almost cried, but I didn't. I just started praying. Praying for her... the plane... the pilots... the engines... and most of all, that God would just hold His mighty hands around the plane until it rested safely on the ground once again. I do believe that if God chooses to bring you Home, it's inevitable. You can't do anything to change it. But I do think about something happening on the plane, and my girl being alone, and not having a hand to hold, or someone to wrap their arms around her and comfort and protect her. I shared this with a friend at church Sunday, and she gently reminded me, we are never alone. I did hold on to that thought as I stood and watched the plane- because it hit home. No matter where we go, God is there... to hold our hand... to wrap His loving arms around us... to comfort and protect us. Laura made it to Texas safe and sound, happy as could be... and the whole way, I was wrapped in His loving arms... His hand gripped mine in comfort, and my fears were pushed aside.

July 21, 2008

the search is over

We have been looking for WiiFit for a month or so... when we are in a store, we check to see if there will be one on the shelf someone overlooked, or maybe one just recently placed that has not yet been discovered. We had heard that there will be another "round" of them in August, but if we could find one before then... The only tip I know that will even give you a chance at finding something so unattainable is to watch the ads... and then be there first thing when the store opens. So, yesterday morning, I checked the Target ad online and what do you know? WiiFit! It was only 6:40, and the store didn't open until 8, and church doesn't start until 9:30... so should I go for it? I decided I should- and tried so hard not to get my hopes up! There were a few other people waiting outside of Target when I arrived at 7:30... at the other door. After a while, an older man, Sal, came, also looking for the game, and we chatted. He was sure I would beat him there, so could I save him a WiiFit? Oh my... I hate to make a promise I can't keep... but I said I'd try. I had already decided that I wouldn't be fighting anyone over this game if there were only a couple. At 7:59 we were standing right in front of the door, and they opened my side first (maybe a whole minute before the other side!) and I speed walked... then jogged.. then speed walked... then ran... then speed walked... then jogged the last bit. I was the first one to the electronics section! Yippee! And about 2 seconds after I arrived, along came the rest. The employee told us there were plenty, and I was happy for the others in line... especially my new friend Sal. At that moment, I could feel my legs shaking like jello... I can't believe I did this... I can't believe I have this game I wanted... I can't believe how crazy this is... The line was long as I walked out of the store... my shortest excursion to Target, by far! I was back in the car and on my way home at 8:04! Plenty of time to get ready and make it to church! We played it all afternoon, the four of us. You can bank 40 minutes of exercise without even thinking you are... exercising! I think we may all be arguing soon about who gets to workout first.... hmmm... who woulda thought!

July 17, 2008

birthday boy

Happy Birthday to my Husband, Love of my Life, Honey Bunches of Oats... I love watching him open gifts... you would think he was three the way he tears the paper and tosses it up and over to anywhere, with anticipation and excitement in his face. I love that he's a lot more than three, and still acts this way. Birthdays should be fun- pure joy and celebration... being thankful for life, love and family... and any gifts that might come your way! His birthday dinner? Seven layer dip and cheeseburgers. His cake?
Boston Cream Pie Cake with candles around every inch of the top. His big gift? A tent-cot... that I'm sure he'll sleep in tonight. Silly? You bet... it's just one of the many reasons I love him. (Laura & Cam love trick candles... so Eric can almost just expect them... but they got him this year! All of the candles looked alike, but only some of them were trick candles! And as the scattered candles continued to light, he just poised himself over the cake,resigned to it. There was a lot of wax on the chocolate glaze... and probably some other stuff too...)

blue skies

Ahhh... they are back... the beautiful blue skies that I have missed. I think it has rained for three days straight, and I have sure missed the sun. I am always amazed at how different I feel when the sun has not shown her lovely face for a few days- and I'm amazed that it never bothered me up north, when you may not see the sun for a week... or maye it did bother me and I'm just a happier person here in sunny Florida! I love the way the world looks on a sunny day- fresh and clean, and ready for anything. I love the way the sun feels on my skin- warm and alive, and like God touching my face. I know we needed the rain... and I was thankful for it... but now the skies are true blue, and I'm smiling.

July 15, 2008

claiming my spot

I am half-way through my first week of my new job... and it's going well. I think I like it! It is really unlike anything I've ever done before... an office job... at a slow pace... very different! I am used to being a go-go-go kind of girl at work, but I have to say, the slower pace is not so bad- no worries about running down the stairs from the bathroom and crashing, with no one having time to even notice you aren't back yet... no worries about the wrong food at the wrong table... no fury of counting heads to make sure all of your "ducklings" are still present... It's good. And I'm trying to make the space mine... without making big changes. Just a picture or two of my little family. They are smiling at me from the bulletin board, encouraging me every step of the way.

July 12, 2008

big beauty

Sometimes our eyes do not see what others see... we do not see beauty where others see it. I remember traveling to Aruba so many years ago- some people disliked the dusty desert environment- but for me, I only saw beauty. Dusty sand and cactus maybe not be pretty, but beautiful? I thought so. Especially the way the land transitioned from dusty desert to dark craggy trees that reached up from fine white sand and out over the tranquil aqua sea. I was amazed at how the land could sustain both. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And, on one of our last camping trips, that became evident, once again. The kids had found this old leaning tree- roots upended, limbs broken... it was their perfect playground.

Hours upon hours were spent climbing up and around the tree. Look Mom, that looks like a giraffe! Dad, watch me! Mom, can you take my picture? It was endless- and I was happy, that on our camping trip, Cam was finding fun in nature. On the last day, he came to me and told me they had named the tree. Big Beauty. That was her name. He needed to say goodbye, so I walked over with him.

She was beautiful- I hadn't looked that closely before. Her roots were upended, but some had returned to the earth, gnarled and seeking shelter, and perhaps the chance at new life. Her strong branches, twisted and reaching towards the sun. She was loved completely that weekend... she created adventure, she supported the weight of dreams, she sparked imagination... she showed her soul. Big Beauty... true beauty, seen through the eyes of a young man... and shared.

through little eyes

The first Troop 214 camping trip is just around the corner... and the planning is moving along. On Sunday, there will be a prayer service for the boys- it got us talking about people's beliefs, and what could be included, as to not offend any one's beliefs. While we were going over the scouts who would be present, we made the statement that everyone believed in God, but there is one boy who is Jewish. My little friend Em piped up, "Well, everyone has to believe in God." Oh, little one, I wish that was true. We went on to explain that unfortunately there are some who do not, and tried to leave it at that. Not Em... she wanted to talk more. I told her how sad I was that not everyone believed in Jesus... and I shared that I could not possibly imagine a day without Him. She agreed that it would be too sad, and what about the beautiful Bible stories about God? We talked for a few more minutes... and our little chat boosted my faith a little more. With little hearts as full as hers, our tomorrows should be radiant!

inspired by being uninspired

I'm not sure why I have been uninspired to write lately... I have been given this extra week of summer, and now am not starting my new job until Monday- so shouldn't that be inspiration in itself? I guess not. I miss being here... writing... so I decided that if inspiration isn't coming to find me, I had better go find it on my own. It made me think- maybe I'm not looking at the world the way I had been previously... maybe I am not seeing the inspiration that is right in front of me. Setting out on my search, here is what I have found...

Silliness... Eric & I were having some conversation that ended in pure silliness. I don't remember what it was about- that really isn't relevant, because a lot of our conversations are like that... just plain silly. As I walked away, I thought to myself, "Is that okay?" Is it right for two adults(note, I did not say grown-ups!) to just be that silly most of the time? Sometimes I think we act like six-year-olds... and we have fun. So, I suppose my answer is, "Yes, it's okay." It makes me happy to know that we are more than just partners in this life we share... we are friends who bring smiles and laughter to each other every day.

Laughter... there is nothing like laughter to get your heart in gear. Laughter that begins down near your toes and bubbles out is so joyful. I have been told that people hear my laughter and know it is me... from across the room, the next room... eek! I think I should be embarrassed (or at least I was at first) but what is more honest than laughter? Or more joyful. At a movie yesterday, my forever friend & I laughed our hearts out... afterwards I leaned over and whispered, "Were we the only ones laughing that loudly?" Maybe... but that's okay.

A Clean House... when it is clean and sparkly, I feel no guilt at sitting on the couch catching up on my shows, or working on my scrapbooks. I needed motivation to get there, but it is clean. I love our home... I wish I was better at keeping it neat and tidy. I am feeling inspired to keep it up... easier said than done, I know... especially when it is just Eric & I here, and the kids are away at Gramma & Grampa's.

Life... just living life. I need to remind myself, once again, that each day is a gift. The bright moments, and the rainy ones... the laughter and the tears... the inspired days, and the uninspired. All of it. A gift. For me... and you...

July 06, 2008

getting back to real life

It has been glorious to be on vacation... one week away, and one at home. We did accomplish a few things here on the home front, but most of all, we just spent time together. And tomorrow, we head back into reality. This evening brought on the preparations... a trip to the grocery store, uniforms at the ready, coffee set to brew. Eric heads off for work in the early hours of the morning... and I have one more day to play. But I am starting to get butterflies about starting my new job. Will I like it? Can I really do it? Will I be good at it? Will they like me? All of these insecurities just swimming around my brain... before I even have a chance to walk in the door. I am trying to push them aside... and I am starting to be excited about this new venture of mine. Perhaps this is right where I am supposed to be. I am, again, setting it in God's hands. I will continue to remind myself that He is in charge.

the perfect sandwich

It rained all afternoon- surprising, but nice. I love to hear the rain splattering the windows... thundering through the gutters. It was an afternoon that set the mood for dinner... grilled cheese and soup. Everyone had their own custom grilled cheese sandwich: Eric- white bread & muenster cheese; Camden- white bread & a combo of muenster & Swiss; Laura- wheat 5-grain Italian & cheddar; and me? Six summers ago, while awaiting the arrival of Baby Drew, Amy & I perfected the recipe for our very own grilled cheese sandwiches... 5 grain sourdough bread (but I had to substitute wheat 5-grain Italian tonight!), Swiss cheese, and thinly sliced tomato seasoned with salt, pepper and basil. Toasted to perfection... yum.

July 04, 2008

my red, white and blue

I love the Fourth of July... and celebrating America. I love America. There is such a special place in my heart for this day- and it is more new memories, than old. I think I have always had this feeling of patriotism... my Mom taught me well... but it has certainly grown and become more a part of my everyday life over the last ten years or so. I don't often make it through The Star Spangled Banner without a tear or two, rolling down my cheek. And our flag... my heart soars just seeing it fly it the breeze, rippling those bold stripes. There was time when it seemed that America had forgotten how special it was... and red, white & blue was only for the 4th of July... and our beautiful flag was only displayed from homes three times a year... and our glorious anthem was only a song played at a sporting event. It is heartbreaking that the events of September 11th were what we needed to remember what we stand for, and remember that America is a place to be celebrated, more than one day a year. That one day changed so much for countless people... but it seems to have also brought back the pride for our country. Waving flags are seen every day... sometimes lines of them waving in sync... and my heart smiles at the beauty.

the spirit of the day

Shiny balloons, adorned with stars and stripes... red, white & blue crepe paper twisted just so... American flags waving on the breeze... people decked out in their finest patriotic outfits... singing You're A Grand Old Flag... sharing your love of country with friends and strangers... I love the elements of the Fourth of July parade. It makes me smile... it makes me think... it makes me reflect. I remember, in school, when each morning after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, we would sing... usually My Country Tis of Thee, but sometimes America The Beautiful. That time has passed, and it is a day we probably won't ever see again. I remember playing these songs, and others, in the band... playing with a spirit of pride for our great country. These sights and sounds bring back more recent times, too... sending my husband off to serve and protect our nation, and celebrating his final homecoming. All days worthy of the red, white & blue.

This morning, as we were on our way to the parade, Laura and Cam asked to listen to patriotic music. It was fun, singing along in the car... all of us... in the spirit of the day. It was a good start to a great day. We sweated our hearts out in the parade... Boy Scouts honoring America. And then we carried on our celebrating with our family... swimming in the pool with cousins, "picnicking" with grandparents. And the grand finale of the night were the fireworks seen from the roof. And each moment was intertwined with memories of another 4th of July celebrated... last year we- or, remember when we- ... This year we were all together, and it felt just right. Happy Birthday, America.

July 01, 2008

the very beginning

When I turned my calendar page to this new month, I remembered, today is a special day. Seventeen years ago, today, a handsome, blue-eyed man came to my door with a perfect pink rose, took me out to dinner, made me laugh, and swept me off my feet... It was our first date. I think I knew, even then that he was the one for me. Thank you, God, for Your hand in our meeting... for Your hand in our love.


My day to day life is not exciting... it is not overwhelming... not even exhausting- so why do I lose touch with friends I really care about? I am not a bad communicator, so maybe it's just timing, and my unobtrusive nature? I would rather write a note and send it on it's way, than make a phone call that might interrupt... I think I mentioned before that I am trying to get over this fault, but habits are hard to break. Yesterday I got an e-mail from a friend... we had not spoken (or e-mailed) since December... December. That's six months! She had really been on my mind the past couple of weeks, for a variety of reasons, and so I immediately started replying to her note- than stopped and picked up the phone. How nice it was to pick up where we left off, catch up and chit chat, and know that pages on a calendar do not separate friends.

While I was on vacation last week, my little phone rang, and it was my Forever Friend... calling from Michigan. We shared rushed words, laughter, similar heartfelt emotion, and most of all, our thankfulness for this reconnection of our friendship. There was a time when I did not go a day without talking to her for a hour on the phone... or leave the safety of our neighborhood and head to the mall without her reinforcements (how 1 Mom and 2 toddlers is any different that 2 Moms and 4 toddlers is beyond me, but it worked!) Our lives were intertwined, and then they weren't- not for any reason but time and distance. And so years have passed and we have both missed each other- and now we are reconnecting. We are remembering how closely our hearts mirror each others... how our values and thoughts turn in sync... why we became so close in the first place. And I am thankful... so thankful for the renewal of this great friendship.

Over the years I have realized that time and distance are only paths along the way... we can each take a path that leads us from a time and a place and a friend, and yet, the way back is only a moment away. I can pick up the phone and make that call, and be instantly transported back to giggling sleepovers, sunburned days on the beach, walks around the neighborhood, bike rides through Waterways, preschool moments, drives on MLK, and days of double double strollers. Friends forgive... friends know that there really is no fault at all... friends know that reconnection takes only a flash of a memory and the reaching out of a hand... and friends know that no time or distance can erase the fun and fellowship shared.