August 31, 2009

sunset starts with s

One of my very favorite things in life is...
loading everyone up in the car on a beautiful evening and heading for the beach. Eating a simple dinner in the sand, watching my kids splash in the waves, taking in the golden glow that the sun casts across the beach as it starts its descent... and then, the glorious sunset. I am continually amazed at the brilliant colors of the sky as the sun sinks down into the sea... and the unique beauty of a sunset. A gift. For us.
I want to believe that Fall is not quite here yet... even though the pencil marks on my calendar show otherwise. But I hope that if a free evening comes along... that I might remember, and have the energy, to head down to the beach again before Spring. Because when my toes are covered in sand, and the sky is alive with the colors of the setting sun... breathing seems a bit easier and God feels a little closer to my heart.

Working my way from Z to A with Jen @ Unglazed.

August 29, 2009


Growing up, one of my favorite stores was Paperama. There you could find those glamorous tissue paper disco balls in every pastel color, bridal shower umbrellas that rained paper rose petals... along with every other paper good to make your party complete. They also had... personalized pencils. I would spin that rack 'round and around... searching for my name. More often than not... I would walk away frustrated and move along to the next spinner. Once in a great while though, my name did indeed appear among the others... and when that happened, my face could hardly contain my smile. I didn't need to have the item... just knowing my name had appeared was somehow enough.

So why... did I choose an unusual name for my sweet son? Truthfully, there have been moments when I have regretted my choice. I do recall thinking about this when we were choosing names... but I had fallen so completely in love with the name before he was even a breath in my body... and then there was no other choice to make. I rationalized that the name Cameron was so popular that someone was bound to start personalizing things with Cam... but I was wrong. Maybe, if Laura's name wasn't stamped across pencils and rulers and... well, stamps, then I might not feel so badly. And while life is not necessarily fair... I know that in this instance, I had a hand in the unfairness. My guilt has prompted me to celebrate his name and urge him to feel more special than left out. And being the great kid he is... that line of thought has been embraced whole-heartedly. Over the years, we have made due... and gone out of our way to find opportunity- we had a sheriff's star engraved at Disney World... we have had leather bracelets stamped... and we have sent away for items to be inscribed. It might seem silly to some... but if you have ever looked for your name and been disappointed, then you just might understand.

This week... a very special friend made my son's eyes light up and his mouth squish up in an "o" before it quickly unfolded into a grin. On her trip to Maine... she dug behind all of the pink hats and found a blue one... and brought it home... for a boy whose name is almost as extraordinary as he is.

To be honest... Camden's eyes weren't the only ones to light up... although my eyes might have been the only ones moist with love.

August 27, 2009

when i was eight

It was kind of a secret... that I got to go. None of the other grandchildren were invited, or ever had been. But for some reason... they wanted to take me. And that summer, I traveled farther than I had ever traveled before. To Virginia, with my grandparents. To visit my Aunt Rose & Uncle Bill. It was a privilege to go... a huge one, and I knew it. I was the good girl. The quiet one. The one who would not think to speak up and make a fuss. Maybe that was the reason they took me...

I have such vivid memories of this trip...
staying at the Holiday Inn along the way
singing hymns in the backseat with my Golden Books Hymnal
marveling that a tunnel could run beneath the harbor
discovering the little cedar gifts in the rest stops along the way
drinking milk with ice cubes
the little girl next door having to go to the hospital in the middle of the night
finding oysters along the Chesapeake with Aunt Rose
the little captain's bed that I slept in
...and going to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg with Uncle Bill.

It felt like we were there all of ten minutes, but in retrospect, it had to have been at least a little bit longer. I recall the bright sun and the bustle of people moving through a sea of those giant tissue paper flowers. My Uncle really wanted to take me on the roller coaster, but Aunt Rose said no. I was treated to a real souvenir... a navy & light blue hat that said The Old Country, and I saw the Clydesdale horses for the first time... probably because they were near the beer tent and that was where my Grandpa was sitting, waiting for us to go. And I like to think... that I caught a glimpse of my husband.

Okay, it is probably not true. But I do so love that old episode of Mad About You when Jamie & Paul run into each other as kids in the museum on a school field trip. And Eric could have been there... at Busch Gardens... in Virginia. He was actually there that same summer. (And I can't imagine that his Dad would have missed the beer tent.) So maybe... or maybe not. Sure is fun to dream though...

August 25, 2009


Another successful first-day-of-school send off...
I am so thankful my kids like school. Camden might tell you otherwise... but the thing is, he really enjoys learning, and school is a great place to do just that. I was greeted with smiling faces after their long first day... and a few new supply lists! As the evening wore on we heard stories of the day and tidbits about teachers and friends... and it was as much fun to listen as it was to see the joy in their eyes. This morning they are moving a bit more slowly... but when you stay up a bit later to organize all of your new supplies, that is likely to happen. Laura is hoping that today they will start working with clay in her ceramics class. I hope so, too... because it sounds like fun. But really... I am just hoping... that tonight will be homework-free once again!

August 24, 2009

more showing than telling

It was a great weekend to try out the many new camera tips from Melissa. The sky was the brightest blue... and we were out and about in the world. And I discovered a few new places I'd like to return to. I have some lovely pictures to show, but I can't, for the life of me, tell you the hows or the whys. Because I can never remember what I did when. In that sense, I am not learning what I am doing right or wrong... but I am not quitting either. That must count for something!

tree starts with t

Banyan trees make me smile. I remember the first one I ever saw... in St. Pete while I was on vacation, visiting my Grandparents. It was a marvelous tree... wider around than I had ever seen... with its roots stretching and reaching back into the soil. At the time, I thought it was so extraordinary that perhaps it was the only one of its kind... but now I know better. Many of the Naples streets leading to the beaches are lined with them... and to me, they are more magestic than a row of waving palms. So steeped in history and memories, if you were sitting quietly, you just might hear them whispering their stories in the breeze.

Saturday was a geo-caching adventure day... and both of my kids ended up climbing high in search of treasure. I stood down below, in the shade of these beauties... watched the smiles burst forth... and snapped away.

Working my way from Z to A with Jen @ Unglazed.
(So sorry I missed "U" Can "U" believe it? But I have a good excuse... it is even a "U" word... urology!)

August 23, 2009

whether i am ready... or not

Tomorrow I will be up before the sun. No, not an uncommon occurrence for me... but it seems as thought it has been ages since I have had to be up and keeping my kids on task. I love summer vacation. I love everything about it. And honestly, I am not quite ready to send them back. Yes, I lost a week... but I think that even with that week, I might not be ready. But they have to learn. And I cannot imagine handling that homeschooling thing that others gracefully embrace. And so... they will go back to school. Tomorrow. And before too long, we will be in the midst of all the running around that comes with it. But as I mentioned to my friend, Jenn... the summer flew by so quickly that Christmas break will probably be here before we know it!

August 21, 2009

i feel good

I do. Feel good. As he was driving us home from the doctor this morning, Eric looked over at me and said You feel better. And when I stopped to think about it, he was right. He usually is (don't tell him I said that!) It is one more thing, on a long list of things, that I love about him. He knows me. He knows when I am beyond handling the moment, and when I have returned to myself... and he somehow adjusts his behavior accordingly. In the aftermath of this week, I have certainly been beyond what I could handle on my own... and perhaps a little cry-babyish about it along the way. I swam in fear and worried about the pain... and I confessed those sins over and over again to God... along with apologizing for asking Him twice (or more!) when I knew He heard me the first time. And as always, I am thankful for His beautiful and bountiful grace that allows me to be the mess I am and learn from it.

And so the verdict is that I am healthy again. A short, but painful, quick fix and I am better... until the next time. But maybe I won't procrastinate as long next time. My little stretching of the urethra is practically nothing compared to so many other things that could have been wrong, or that others are going through right this very minute... but when it is you, or a friend, or a family member, even a molehill appears mountainous from the bedside. And so... with my throat feeling better from the breathing tube, and the catheter no longer strapped to my leg, I am off to live my life, and maybe clean my house... which is as covered by muck & mire as my heart has occasionally been this week.

August 18, 2009

a step forward

In the darkness... we headed out. Quiet. Both of us thinking... praying. His fingers wrapped themselves around mine and his thumb skipped over my fingernails again and again. There was worship music on the radio and in the midst of my conversation with God, I answered the question How great.... how great is my God? Great. Really great. In my quivering heart, I still know the answer to that question... and I am thankful.
We continued moving along down the road... his hand only leaving mine to bump the windshield wipers a bit every now and again... and another song came on the radio. Born Again. I don't think it is necessarily the words of the song that get to me... but what I feel when I hear it. The breath of Jesus all around me... like wind in my face... a caress of grace. And while I was busy picturing myself sitting in the palm of God's hand, in a puddle of my own tears... it came to me that maybe... the splashes around me were simply His grace raining down on me.
I'm okay... home again. And still uncomfortable. But with a smidgen of an answer in my pocket. And maybe some healing coming my way. But most of all... I feel loved. By my family... and my friends. And if you didn't know... that includes you.

August 17, 2009

just what i needed

Uncomfortably shifting in my seat, in more than a bit of pain... I decided to take a quick check on my e-mail. And there was a note from beautiful Kat. Telling me to go and check out (in)courage... because I had won their t-shirt. And the tears came... in sobs. Because He knows. He knows just what we need. What I need. And tonight... I need some courage. Tomorrow I am going for an exploratory procedure on my bladder. Yeah. It isn't really what I had planned for my day off. But I am going... and I am scared. There is something wrong, I know. And I want to know what the next step is... but gosh... I am scared. Of the pain. Of the problem. Just scared. I keep calling His name... and I know He is here... just waiting for me to set my fear in His mighty hands. So here I go... setting it down. With courage. And a good bit of denial. But I know... tomorrow when my husband kisses me as I am sent on my way... that God will travel the rest of the way with me. And He will hold me... and my fear... and wipe my tears away.

August 15, 2009


Blue jeans and wedding pearls.
A white shirt and splashing spaghetti sauce.
Popcorn and sno-caps.
Julie & Julia.
Hand holding... and a little kissing.
Love and memories.
It was an evening I hope to always remember.

love and life

On this day, seventeen years ago... I awoke with anticipation of a fairy tale day, and no less than a thousand dreams in my heart. Dreams of all of the tomorrows in my life, and what they might bring... growing old with my sweetheart. I was a girl headed towards her wedding day with beautifully tinted rose-colored glasses perched on her nose... seeing the bountiful celebrations that life would surely unfold. But what I didn't see was all of the life that would happen between the celebrations...

The swollen ankles and high blood pressure that my pregnancies would bring... and the way he would seemingly hold our life together doing dishes, serving dinner and washing clothes on top of his work hours when the doctor ordered bed rest. (Seems he may have set a pace for himself as he has continued lending his loving hands to those tasks still today.)

The moments of great sorrow... eyes, loss, health. The moments that would cause pain to our hearts and bring us to our knees. In prayer. Together.

The afternoons when the stress of life would wrapped itself around my heart and an easy breath would be a luxury... and the arms that could somehow ease the anxieties just by pulling me in and holding me close to his beating heart.

Nights when his methods would made me chuckle, as he, with the kids, would be sprawled across the couch watching another episode of Cops, learning what getting into trouble really was. (But perhaps there is no more vivid way to share the real consequences of bad behavior than to share the examples in living color.)

The screeches of laughter that would bounce off the walls that we would call home... as yet another penguin or kitty cat was taken hostage at bedtime. And the way the serene images of what bedtime should be would turn into mayhem.

If that girl had removed her rose-colored glasses, racing across North Scituate as the sun was dawning on her big day... she might have thought about the homework... the dirty socks on the floor... the heavy hearts... the tears... the crumbs scattered across the counter... the bright faces that would someday wiggle in the pew. But she would have raced just the same. Towards life... and all that it might bring. Because the lessons life has to offer... and the beautiful mess that life can be, and is on a daily basis... those were treasures for another day. Treasures to unearth with your Love by your side, as year after year the love grows just a little deeper... into something that a little girl of just twenty could have never imagined.

August 11, 2009

time for a hair cut

Summer traveling and vacation has led to a head full of hair...
But schedules have matched up and today was the day for a hair cut.

Ahhhh... there is my boy.
I was looking for you.

A laugh is a smile that bursts.-Mary H. Waldrip

August 10, 2009

a little encouragement

I've been hearing a lot about a great new place...

So what encourages me?
Pure and simple... my faith. Without it, I have nothing... am nothing. It defines me... and my life... and what I teach my children. But while I have always had this faith... this belief in God and Jesus... I have not always lived it. There was a time when I thought days were to busy... my life too full, to possibly fit in time for church. And I didn't realize how much I actually needed a relationship with my Savior.
Until these little eyes showed me the way.

I often think of her small sweet voice sharing her wisdom... Jesus is the Light of the World... and teaching me what it meant.
She encourages me, too. Still.
With her heart... that God has filled with the spirit of giving.
With her hands... that God has guided to create.
With her love... that she can share because He lavishes it so.
It is all I have ever wanted for my children... for them to have a beautiful heart. I just didn't always know that in order to have that, it must be filled with faith. But now... I know.

variety starts with v

A variety of pizza toppings... chosen by my family members. Since summer is for taking time to do the things the rest of the year maybe doesn't allow for... we decided to make pizza. From scratch.
From scratch? What's that, Mom?

Ahhh... from scratch. We proofed the yeast. We measured the flour. And we set our hands to kneading. It was messy... and it was fun. Not to mention, a reminder that from scratch is really pretty great.

We each loaded up our pizzas with a variety of yummy toppings...

...and there were smiles all around.

Working my way from Z to A with Jen @ Unglazed.

August 09, 2009

making up time...

A beach day without sun... but also without rain. An overcast day, but a day, nonetheless.

And I could not resist yesterday... the bright sky and the golden sunshine. It called us to play... whooping down slides, climbing up and stepping off the high dive with trepidation... and simply leaning on the water gun... aimed directly at her brother.

I'm starting to feel like summer is slipping away. Feels like it is half past summer.... or maybe even a quarter til school- and we are just starting to have our fun. Well, just me. These kids of mine have had a fantastic summer, and I'm just trying to catch up with them. But these past couple of days... they have been full of joy. Full of playing... and not getting much crossed of of the to-do list. But I have never found that my housework doesn't wait for me... it is always there... and will be when I'm done playing.

Nothing is worth more than this day.

August 06, 2009

this ain't no rodeo...

Maybe it started out rough... a crackling microphone and music playing loudly over the announcer... but all in all, it was an awesome night. Okay... two nights. My husband loves me, and he knew that even though I said one night would be enough, that maybe I'd like to go both nights. Oh yeah... he loves me. And my quirky hobbies.
What an experience... to be in an arena full of cowboys. To me... they embody the American spirit... or at least what I want it to be. Hard work, lending a hand to your neighbor, honoring our country, and praising Jesus... all mixed in with a lot of dirt, and a little glory. I was as fascinated by the bull wranglers behind the chutes as I was by the bull riders. The climbing on the rails, up and over... and into the pens... somehow directing the bulls into the chutes. These cowboys are not afraid of hard work or getting dirty... I think they live for it.
When the Marines processed in with the American flag, people rose to their feet and removed their beloved cowboy hats... without an announcement asking them to do so. And before the real action began... there was prayer. Cowboys on bended knee in the dirt, hats over their hearts... asking Jesus to watch over them. No, they were not afraid to pray in the name of Christ Jesus. These guys give everything they have... and appreciate everything they get.

I enjoyed every minute... I laughed, I screamed... and occasionally, I covered my eyes. Win or lose... eight seconds or one... these cowboys love what they do. And it shows... in their laughter, a hearty hand shake, and a lot of dirt caked on their jeans. And as they say... This ain't no rodeo... this is the PBR!

August 05, 2009

the recipe

I don't think I have ever posted a recipe... but this casserole got a lot of compliments, and it is quite yummy! This is something I found in Taste of Home... years ago. I first made it for a group of girlfriends that came to scrapbook... and I remember taking it out of the oven and being so pleasantly surprised (okay shocked!) that it looked as beautiful in person as it had in the magazine. And it was so delicious. This is my go-to meal... for a pot-luck or for a sick friend. So, here is the recipe... from the Taste of Home... with a few tweaks by me.

Chicken Biscuit Bake
1 can cream of "something" soup
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2-3 t Worcestershire sauce (you know I have plenty of this!)
4 c cubed chicken (or canned chicken, or a rotisserie chicken)
3 cups frozen broccoli florets, cooked (or not... thawed is okay)
1 medium onion, chopped (I never remember the onion!)
1 c shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever kind you have in the fridge!)
2 tubes refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
2 eggs
1/2 c sour cream
2 t celery seed

In a bowl, combine soup, mayo & Worcestershire sauce. Stir in chicken, broccoli & onion (if you remembered it!) Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle the top with cheese. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Separate the biscuits and cut each in half. Arrange over the top of the hot chicken mixture (if you use the same biscuits I use, you'll get three long rows of 13 biscuit halves, with one extra.) In a bowl, mix together the eggs, sour cream and celery seed; pour over the biscuits. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes loner, or until golden brown. Easy. And delicious.

yesterday i was supermom

There are days I feel the need to be SuperMom... and on those days there is usually some kind of lesson involved. For me. Like... you don't need to be SuperMom, you need to let Me be in control... it's My job. And for a few weeks, I sit back and let God take charge... until I feel the need to be in charge again, and mess it all up. Like yesterday. I had commitments like crazy... to a group that is close to my heart... and couldn't let down. I had lunch to serve to 30 starving band kids... and then, dinner, too. And I had to make dinner for the instructors. You know, a nice dinner. Not fancy... just good, stick-to-your-ribs food. It was the first time I was cooking for them... and if you know me, I wanted it to be impressively delicious. Not necessarily for the compliments, but just so they would know I cared.

But it was my day off.
And my kids are home.
And I was sick on my last few days off.
So, I decided to do it anyway... to fit it all in.

I worked all morning to get my dinner & desserts "almost done," then I sat down with my kids and gave them the scoop:
1. We can try to go to the water park, but here is the deal- be ready when I get home from lunch. Ready... like waiting to get in the car.
2. This is going to be a short trip... we have to be back in the car by 3pm.
3. We are really taking a chance... weather, timing, etc. It has to be go-with-the-flow.
4. And I can't go on the slides and get my hair wet... because I will not have time to shower before I have to go and serve dinner!

I could see the light in their eyes... and hear the anticipation in their voices as they scurried off to get ready. I wanted to do this for them. And for me. To give them part of my day off... just for them. I knew I could be setting myself up for disaster... possibly a major one... but for them, I had to try.

And it worked out. I felt like God indulged me. For those two hours, we floated in the lazy river... I watched my kids on the diving boards and the slides... and we floated some more. I even had time for a heart to heart with my daughter when Cam hit the slides again and Laura & I were just floating down the river, hand in hand. God knew I needed this time to play... with my kids. And I made sure that I made the most of it.

And I managed to get my food done and served on time... macaroni & cheese, two chicken & biscuit casseroles- one with broccoli, one without, and cupcakes... red velvet & pumpkin.

Yesterday I was SuperMom... it is not a job I can handle on a daily basis though. And I am thankful that God does remind me of that now and again... because it is exhausting. I fought off the exhaustion for a bit... but by 7:30 pm.... I was fast asleep.

August 04, 2009

my real life

It's almost two weeks since my kiddos have abandoned vacationing and settled back into real life... and that goes for me, too. Even though I wasn't really vacationing. It has been an adjustment... once again fitting in the "must-do's" that vacations just don't demand. Though the floor in the piano room has finally been reclaimed... the laundry has begun to pile up by the washer... and the dishes, that are once again feeding four, are seeming to overflow the sink. There are tiny action figures peeking out from beneath a sofa... and armchairs are marking time in a waiting book. Somehow, there seem to be fewer hours in the day...

But there are also more I love yous ... and helping hands. There are sweet bedtime kisses... and rumbling laughter and flying penguins. And when I take a moment to push the mess from my mind, I realize that there isn't much more in life that my heart requires...

Sitting down and searching my heart for a Tuesday gift to unwrap is one of the best parts of my week. Reflecting on what makes my heart beat... my face smile. And it teaches me to seek out the treasures that God graces us with in every day.

August 03, 2009

wedding starts with w

In less than two weeks, Eric & I will celebrate the seventeen years that we have shared with each other since our wedding. Seventeen years. It makes me smile. It fills my heart with love... still. It was a beautiful day... but more importantly, it was the beginning of a beautiful life... and a promises of many more years to come.

Working my way from Z to A with Jen at Unglazed!