September 30, 2008

as the deer

We have lived in our home for almost eight years... which means that I have been driving the same route to anywhere... for almost eight years. Along the way... to everywhere, we pass a few small canals, and a small lake-ish body of water. We have watched for alligators for years- almost an everyday guaranteed sighting! Once in a great while, we'll see a wild pig out on the hill of the golf course- or maybe a couple of turkeys. For the past year or so, I have begun to spot deer. Yes, deer. I remember seeing my first deer ever... in Virginia, while Eric was stationed in Yorktown. It was really cool- a special thing for me. And now, when I see a couple of the hill, it brings it back. I don't know why the deer have this affect on me... but, oh how I love to see them grazing. I'm sure the golf course doesn't mind, either! Lately, with all the rain we have had, the hills and the canals seem to have come alive- egrets, herons, woodstorks... all knee deep in the running water... and deer on the hills. Today I saw seven deer... all together. My heart leapt, and then laughed as two little ones scampered up the hill. I just love them. And I hope that they are relatively new to the area... because I hate to think they have been there... almost eight years... and I have just not seen them.

As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee...
You alone are my hearts desire and I long to worship Thee.
You alone are my strength my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire and I long to worship thee.

September 29, 2008


He sits and works... diligently... for hours. He wants to get his work done... he wants to do well- his best. It just takes time. A lot of time. And he never complains. It makes my heart hurt, just a little, to see him sitting there so long... but it is his way. And he is doing so well. I don't think proud is the right word, although I am. I am just... relieved. That his work is paying off, where it hasn't before. I would be happy if he didn't need to take medicine to stay focused like this... but I am happy that the medicine does help. And I am happy that he qualifies for extra help in school... of course, I would be happy if he didn't need it. He is my son... my baby... my heart. And no matter what the report card says at the end of the quarter, I will love him no differently. It has always been this way... for my boy who gives everything. The grades are secondary... it is the effort that counts. He has put his heart and soul into this middle school transition... and today he came home saying that he has the second highest average in his geography class... and that his teacher thinks he should be on the scholar bowl team. Imagine that...

a silly surprise

One of the things I like best in life is to make someone smile... or laugh... or just feel loved. I have this great friend who makes me laugh... always. Sometimes with her humor, and sometimes with her need to have things... just so. Last year around this time, she was so excited that she cleaned her chair mat... you know, that thing your computer chair rolls around on? And so, because it was so shiny and clean, I gave her three little paper pumpkins to put under the mat as decoration. She thought I was as crazy as she... but they made her smile, and think of me. And so, this morning, I am picturing her smile, and imagining her laugh, as she finds the three silk autumn leaves that I shoved under her office door... and my heart will smile with her.

September 27, 2008

a man and a can

Some are lucky to never have experienced a bee sting... and I suppose, a sting could be somewhat like childbirth- after a while you forget what it actually feels like, and are confident that it wasn't so bad. The other day, Cam & I were finished washing the car, and he went to wind the hose up... there was a wasps nest behind the hose reel. He was very careful, and didn't get stung, but what went through my mind? It wouldn't be the end of the world... Tina was always getting stung as a kid... oh, I hope he's not allergic. Okay, not a gold star moment in motherhood, but what goes through your own mind is nothing but honest, right? I was thankful that we walked away, unstung. Yesterday, Eric & I were working on the garage- and he simply walked around the corner near the hose reel, and I heard the scream. Stung!
Oh, the pain... the rushing around for a remedy... the pain. Oh a whim, I shared my previous thoughts with him... and the look he gave me. And then a statement about the pain that I cannot repeat here! I suppose honest thoughts aren't always accurate... Once our store bought, and homemade remedies began to slightly ease the sting... and we were able to go back to work. And then, Eric came across the most powerful method of pain removal... for him, at least! After a sting, nothing says I feel better than a quick shot of wasp killer!

September 21, 2008

the fine line

I have my Mom's hair... straight... fine... limp. After all of these years, I have accepted it... I guess. I still look longingly at ladies, long curls... and dream. I have considered perming my hair again... just a little.. to give it a little lift- but Eric said NO (not that his opinion matters that much)but my hairdresser also made quite a face- so I abandoned that notion... at least outloud. And I continue to try to use whatever I can find to give me that extra... bounce. But oh, how I wish for those curls. If I had curls, would I hate them like so many that possess them? I hope not- and I don't think so, because I don't hate my hair now. The other day I noticed, once again, that my sister has curl (real curl!) in her hair. I guess nothing is ever fair... but, as Mom always says It may not be fair now, but it'll always even out in the end!

time warp

I took Laura & three friends to the Revolve Tour in February... and was amazed at the clothing the girls were wearing on stage... leggings, blousy tops... big belts... I thought to myself (because it was just me & these three teens!) It's really happening, isn't it? I have even seen the legwarmers in the stores- yes, even here in Florida. The Eighties are desperately trying to crash 2008... and more and more, I think they are succeeding. A few year ago, Suz had a seventies party (and it was so much fun!)... but we all joked how fun it would be to do the Eighties. Today, it wouldn't even be a challenge. Nope! Because... Laura brought home her spirit week notice for Homecoming. The theme? Neon Dream. Yes... NEON. And all I can picture is chemistry class... and this one girl who always was decked out in neon green. Always. And for Amy & I, it will surely always be known as Kim Latorica Green. Hmmm... maybe we'll be okay... as long as the Eighties hair stays put back where it came from. And it should... using that much hairspray will make anything stick.

September 17, 2008

fruits & veggies

It has been a tough three weeks... just running. Here and there. It is quite unusual for the four of us not to sit down for dinner all together, but lately it seems almost impossible. We have been running to campaign meetings, marching band practice, piano lessons, boy scouts, choir practice, school nights, and football games. It is only temporary, I know... but I miss my family. I'm going to miss marching season, too, but it will come again. Tonight was a rare evening... no one had any place they needed to be. No one had to run out to a meeting. No one had to be driven to a lesson. Ahhhh. Eric had put together a roast in the crock pot, so dinner wasn't rushed... just ready. And it felt wonderful to sit down at the table, the four of us, and share a meal together in the midst of a busy week. Homework was done and the kitchen cleaned up by 6:30. And though no one had to be anywhere, we jumped in the car, and headed out. On a mystery ride, one of our old favorite tricks. And the fun of a mystery ride is not just the destination, it is also the conversation along the way. But conversation was limited this evening... because we were singing along to a Veggie Tales CD. Just silliness... and sillier still when we try to imitate the veggie voices. Between songs, the kids tried to guess where we were going, and like good tricky parents, we gave no clues. We ended up at Tropical Smoothie, in the quaint little college town, just down the road. We chose our own fruity concoctions, then tried everyone elses pick (yes, Mom, we shared straws!) And we walked a little, just enjoying our time together. I am thankful for this rare evening. I am thankful that even at 11 & 14, our children love to join in our silliness. I am thankful.

September 14, 2008

black and white inspiration

When we first moved into our home, I was on the quest for the perfect bathroom accessories. After weeks of searching,I did fall in love with a few friendly dragonflies, fluttering around in lavender and blue- kid friendly, yet pretty. Now, years later, I have been wanting a change. Last summer, I re-painted the little bathroom, and added a new shower curtain, and the little dragonflies stayed. But I have been on a search... Laura & Cam have had their own suggestions, as it is the bathroom they use. Penguins. Ocean life. They like just about anything, but can't agree on one thing. And so we stick with those dragonflies. Last week, while out at Kohls, I found the inspiration I needed. Yes, this little guy would make all of us happy! He was part of an endangered animal theme... and I just happened to luck out that the hand towels were pandas, too... on light blue... which already matches the bathroom. Oh look, they even have shower curtain rings! That was when I slowed down... because yes, there were panda shower curtain rings... mixed in with monkeys and lions. How was I going to solve this without buying 3 sets? Looking for answers, my eyes landed on a 70% off sign. That was the sign I needed! I bought 3 sets of shower rings. The monkeys are spoken for, but if you know anyone who needs lions, let me know!

seasonal transition

This week, two people have said to me, Soon it will be October, and it will be cooling down! Hmmm... not likely. Fall may be here, but the summer heat will be hanging on a while longer... and maybe in November, it will be cooling down. I do remember a Swamp Buggy Parade, or two, when it was downright cold, but by then it was almost November. Regardless, I feel like it's time to say goodbye to summer. Usually, I am ready. Perhaps this year, with my job/schedule change, I just didn't have time to think about it. But now I am... thinking about it. Because of my cinnamon broom. So tonight's dinner will be called, Goodbye Sumer, Hello Fall. (Why does dinner have a name? I don't know... a friend pointed out that I think in themes. ex: Lasagna=Italian Cream Cupcakes... and since the lasagna was cooked over a campfire, we also had S'More Cupcakes) The simple summer supper menu? Grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and Nappa salad. Perfection. And for dessert? Warm, spicy carrot cake. Now, if only the leaves would change...

first signs of fall

The other day, when I arrived home from work, there were three ceramic pumpkins sitting on my entry way table... a gift from my thoughtful man. Pumpkins? Oh yes... it is almost fall. Sometimes I really need to stop and think- what season is it? If it's April it must be... oh, spring... right? I suppose it is just me, missing the seasons, and getting lost in the calendar. It always surprises... that I could not know. And this brings me back to the pumpkins. Is it really fall? Almost. I just don't feel it though... even though I love fall... and bringing out my decorations. Yesterday, upon entering Publix, I paused- because there it was. Fall. I couldn't put my finger on it, and then, I realized it was tickling my nose. Ahhh... the cinnamon broom. Another deep breath in, and the scent led me. Just what I needed to bring me out of summer... a cinnamon broom. Just one for today. Maybe next week I'll pick up another.
We hadn't quite made it out of Publix yet though... because where there is a season change, there is seasonal candy. My husband's equivalent to the cinnamon broom? mellocream pumpkins... Yes, we have seen the signs... fall is in the air.

September 12, 2008

love/hate relationship

The phone. Even though I hate to make phone calls, I do love the phone- and the way you can be connected in just a few little rings. Laura is not a phone girl, but I was- big time. I spent hours on the phone with Amy, my very best friend- in fifteen minute increments, thanks to my Mom's great kitchen timer idea! Now that we don't talk every day, our phone calls last about six or seven turns around the timer...
When Eric & I were first married, he was out to sea on the USCG Cutter Dallas... and communication was very sporadic. Occasionally though, the phone would ring and it would be the MARS operator, and Eric & I would have the chance to talk over the radio. The whole world could listen, if they chose, and after each statement, we had to say "over." At least he knew I loved him... over.
And then, there was Guantanamo. Six months after Eric returned home from his 9/12/01deployment, his Port Security Unit was called up again. We were able to talk more freely than in the past... due to technology. But the most amazing thing to me was the video phone. The PSU had one in Cuba, and we had one in St. Pete. Once a month, the families would gather up in St Pete... we'd socialize, commiserate, and have a chance to use the video phone. The kids loved it... and me? I was happy to see Eric looking healthy and strong, but it was hard... to see him, and not be able to touch him.

Today, my friends all know, when the phone rings (mine, or theirs!), it is more than likely Eric. He's not calling to keep tabs on me... he's just calling to say "I love you..." maybe to make up for all those days when we could only think it in our hearts.

September 11, 2008

i remember

It was a beautiful day... blue skies above us... Laura was tucked safely away in her second grade classroom... Cam was just settling in at pre-school. I was heading over to my sister's house when I heard the news about the first airplane, and I called her and told her to turn on the TV. I got there just about the time the second airplane hit. We just sat and stared... Charlie Gibson's voice trying to make sense of it all. I was able to get in touch with Eric, working in the 911 office. He didn't have any further insight. And so Tina and I just sat... and watched as the terror unfolded. And I remember thinking, this is the time... this is the time Eric will be called to duty through the reserves. Somehow I must have torn myself away from the TV, retrieved Cam from pre-school, and drove home... only to sit in front of the TV again- numb... and sad. Eric came home early from work- to pack. He was put on alert through the Coast Guard. At 5:30am, September 12th, he got the call to be in St.Pete by noon- from there no one knew where they would head. And so began the trend of the next four years.
So what do I remember most? Watching those towers crumble... the everyday heroes we lost that day, and the everyday people who became heroes... scrambling to hang out my American flag. It is flying today, as it does every day. I'm hoping for a windy day today- so those colors, so close to my heart, will dance on the breeze... reminding us that everyday we have is a day to be thankful for freedoms, for bravery, for life in this beautiful country.

September 08, 2008

tap, tap, tap

About two years ago, we were at a festival at the high school... and the drum line was playing and doing their thing... they were awesome. Camden loved it! He was clapping and dancing along. As the cadence began, and they marched off, Cam followed- hoping for just a little bit more. He looked up at me that day, and said, I want to do that. And so for the past two years he has been planning on playing percussion when he got to middle school. This summer, Ms Julie, his piano teacher helped him out by giving him some rhythm sheets. The process for the middle school band is this: You sign up... you learn about and try just about every instrument... and then you take a test. If you want to play percussion, you take an additional test- and the director may only chose two students. We've been waiting... and hoping... and praying. Cam has been taking rhythm tests- four, so far. And finally, last Friday, it was narrowed down to eight kids. Today was the day we would finally know. This morning I went in to wake Cam up and snuggle a few minutes- and talk. I wanted to make sure that just in case he didn't make it, he had at least thought of the possibility once. He had a back-up plan, but that is not the same as thinking you might not make it. Now, my Cam has a heart of gold... and even when he ends up disappointed, he brushes it off and carries on... offering a handshake to the winner, or a smile to the one who says "no, we just can't get that done this week." The way he handles it makes you want to please him even more (hence the green inflatable finger!) And so this morning, we talked about how great he had been doing and how much confidence I had that he'd be playing percussion... and what would happen if, by chance, he didn't get the answer he had been praying for. I knew, deep down, he'd be okay either way. I left for work... he told me he'd call me after school. Around 3:30, I started getting butterflies in my stomach- he'll call soon! And then it was 4:15- why hasn't he called? At 4:30 I was on my way to meet him at piano lessons, and decided not to call them in the car- I'd be with him soon, and he could tell me then. But he hadn't called- is that bad news? Or- does he want to tell me good news in person? At 4:45, Eric called me from the car, told me they were almost there, and they'd see me soon. I waited- Anything else? And he replied Oh... Cam... he's a little sad. I'll let him tell you. I had tears in my eyes... and then Cam came on the line- Oh! Hi Mom! They were killing me!!! I asked why he didn't call me- Oh, I forgot. Me again- Wellll? Him- Huh? Me again- Band? Him- Oh! I got it. I'm playing percussion. Just like that... as if he never doubted... never really thought anything different could happen. That's when the tears began to roll... for dreams, big and small... for hope, that is so fragile and so wonderful... for confidence that comes from above... and for my son- who is going to play the drums.

Silly me... I thought we'd just need a set of drumsticks...

friday night lights

If you happen to be looking for me on a Friday night this fall, look no further than the high school stadium bleachers... close to the marching band. There I will be, surrounded by my parents and Eric's parents, my son, and maybe a few friends. I will be sitting there on my comfy stadium chair (thanks Suz!) cheering for the Bears... but mostly, the band. This is our new Friday night spot... just for the fall. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I'm sure we'll be right back to our old Friday night "pizza with friends" routine. But for now? Friday nights will mean I will be enjoying... watching my daughter enjoy herself with her friends- dancing to the music with a little less abandon each time... sitting amongst my family- thankful for the support and the love they are sharing- whether they drove 45 minutes or five... seeing my wild & crazy son cheering his heart out- waving that crazy inflatable finger that made his day... the football game- which after all these years I am still learning the rules to (or not)... and the marching band- that moves me in ways that I couldn't imagine. Yes, you might see a stray tear roll down my face on a Friday night... but it will be a tear of pride... a tear of contentment... a tear of pure and utter joy.

September 04, 2008

i'm in

I am my mother's daughter... influenced by her opinions, and her take on things- like women's lib. I would be content to be a Mom who stays home... whose life's work is to make a home for her family. Much to my friends dismay, I have stayed strong in my own opinion that I would never vote for a woman to be the president of the USA. I know that there are women who perform their world leadership roles with great competence... but from my view, I can't see it... perhaps won't. I was quite dismayed when I heard that John McCain had chosen a female running mate... now do I just not vote? Eric told me that I would like her... this Sarah Palin... christian mom of five. But then... there came my skepticism again though. Can a woman really do this job the way a man can? There are so many things that women can do better than a man- but handle that kind of pressure? I just don't know. But my heart started to open. Who, but a Mom, can love each of their children beyond measure, in spite of any surrounding circumstances? And maybe that is the kind of love that this country needs... unconditional love for America- in good times and in bad. I was so proud of our country in the weeks after September 11th 2001... the way we rallied and showed our patriotic spirit. And today? Some people are actually saying that unless the vote goes "their way" they will move out of our country. Mrs. Palin said, of politicians, that "we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and ... a servant's heart." And of Mr. McCain, she says, "He's a man who's there to serve his country, and not just his party." I want those things for this country that I love... for this country I've been proud to serve through my husband's military service... so I'm in.

something new

I am pretty unpolitical. I don't pretend to know much about any of it. I vote with my heart... and pray for God's will. But there are some things that you just have to fight for... In the midst of all kinds of school cuts, my brilliant friend Becky has brought a solution to the table. A referendum that can preserve our students extra curricular programs... for my purposes, marching band. Am I willing to fight for that? Yes. And so I find myself on her committee... campaigning for this referendum to pass. It is totally new to me... scary and exciting all at once. I loved marching band... when it was me on the field, and now that it is my daughter. I want this opportunity for my son... and for all of the other students that come along. My sister never had the opportunity to wear that marching band uniform in high school... by that time, the program had been cut from our high school. It is not all about the band... sports and academic programs as well... but for me... I will fight for the band.

September 03, 2008

beep beep

It wasn't part of the plan... not my plan at least... but sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and say "no more!" The little volvo served us well, but putting more and more money into it just didn't seem to make sense anymore. And so we ventured out to see what was out there. Even after we had made our choice, and signed our life away, the only thing I felt was relief... that the volvo was gone (sorry, little volvo.) Now that I have been driving the new car for four days, I am starting to feel excited about having it. It is nice to have something shiny and pretty every once in a while, never mind reliable!

September 02, 2008

never too grown

I am no longer a little girl- but some days, my needs are just the same. The need to crawl up into my Daddy's lap and just cry... just be comforted... just rest in the arms of the One who loves me. I am thankful that my Father's lap will never be too small to hold me... will never be unavailable ... will never be insufficient for my sorrow. In His lap, in His arms... I will rest.

Take me back to You
The place that I once knew
As a little child
Constantly the eyes of God watched over me
Oh I want to be
In the place that I once knew
As a little child
Fall into the bed of faith prepared for me
I will rest in You
I will rest in You
I will rest in You.

lyrics from I Will Rest in You... Jaci Velasquez.