February 25, 2009

i surrender!

My calendar is getting full... really. Last night at my Bible study, we were passing around the treat calendar, and I had to pull out my calendar to see when I could commit. You know... there are just days when there is no room for even one small addition. And there are days when there is so much to fit in... so many places to be... that it requires careful, precision choreography. Today is that kind of day... or at least, it was.
Last night we sat down and figured it all out... Odyssey of the Mind rehearsal? Check. Work? Check, check. School? Check. Pick up from school for the Dentist? Check. More Odyssey of the Mind? Check. Dinner? Check. Every moment scheduled... extra people driving here and there across town so that not one important item would be left out... and a kid wouldn't be left standing on the street corner wondering where she should be! It was to be a marathon day... but we figured we could pull it off.
And so there I was this morning... rushing around... preparing for the race... when Camden came in and laid on my bed. What's up, Cam? When he told me his head really hurt, I reached out to ruffle his hair on my way to get the motrin... and nearly burned my hand. Fever! I just shook my head and giggled to myself... as I changed out of my work clothes and into my jeans. So much for MY plan. And I had to laugh... just because... because I should know better. I knew there was too much planned for today... but I went ahead anyway... with MY plan.
Just before I was supposed to leave for work, Eric came in to grab a cup of coffee... and he gave me the look... you know... the are you ready for this day look? And I smiled... and said Cam has a fever. His reaction? Knee slapping laughter. And I think I fell in love with him all over again... right at that very moment.
What is life without laughter? And once in a while it feels especially good to laugh at yourself... most of all, because I know that God is laughing right along with me.

February 24, 2009

the party

There was dancing...

There was cake...

And there was more love than twenty-five years could possibly hold.

I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude... not only for my parents, but for the people who came to celebrate them. I am so thankful that so many think they are a unique and wonderful couple... because they truly are. Each of them really... unique and wonderful... and then together... so much more. The best part of the evening? No... not the cake. And not dancing the Chicken Dance with my Mom & Sister (although that was fun!) The very best part of the evening was watching my parents dance the night away... with expertise, with laughter, and with love that lit up their faces and spilled all over the room.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage.
- Lao Tzu

February 23, 2009

g is for...

Do you know what that is?
I did not... until the weeks before Christmas.
Since then, we have been having a bit of fun treasure hunting with a GPS...
filling out tiny log books inside peanut butter jars and duct tape covered water bottles... trading bits of junk for other bits.
To tell you the truth... I think it is a bit unnerving to know that there are people hiding "treasure" all around us... but the light I see dancing in the eyes of my children (& husband!) outweighs that funny feeling. Especially since I found the last one when no one else could!
A silly little hobby... but it is my "g"...

Happy A to Z Monday!

February 22, 2009

with a splash

Almost as soon as we walked into Seaworld, I could tell... that this would be their favorite day. Even the not-so-real walrus' out front made them smile! And Eric was awaiting his long overdue reunion with Shamu... it's been thirty years. There is just something about these animals that live beneath the sea... something that pulls us to them... something that comes alive in us when we are witness to their joy... and their interaction with their trainers.
We started out our day with dolphins... just leaning on the low wall... hands in the water just anticipating the moment when one would glide by. Just watching them play sends bubble of laughter spouting out. The dolphins had their toys... balls and plastic bottles... and everyone was just waiting to have the chance to toss out a toy to a playful dolphin. Lucky Cam... he got to throw twice! And Laura... graciously let the little boy beside her have the toy. It was difficult to pull ourselves away and move on...

Perhaps the favorite part of my day came early on... at a silly sea lion show. How my kids just laughed and laughed! I loved peeking around and seeing them... Cam was so struck with laughter that he was almost rolling on the bench beside him!

We wandered around... visited manatees, sealions and more... and enjoyed the day... enjoyed a slower pace than the prior day, and the lighter crowd. There was one place Camden could hardly stand to wait for though... the penguins. And when it as finally time, we had to hold him back from racing ahead! We spent a long time... admiring these little black and white beings. Cam's eyes were twinkling as they moved from one little guy to the next. And when one of the keepers came in, he was full of questions... so he could add more information to his repertoire.

The day was really filled with fantastic fun... and many new memories.

Of course, seeing Shamu was a highlight of the day... even though Camden didn't get to sit in the splash zone. I wanted to let him... and I thought I could just sit a row back... but when it was labeled SOAK zone, I shyed away. With the overcast day, I knew we would never dry! Next time, though... on a sunny day. The show was fantastic... but I could still see a little diappointment in his eyes... or maybe it wasn't there, but in my heart. But... nothing quite takes the sting away... unless it is a chocolate coverd Shamu ice cream bar!

(there is jut one more part of of Valentines/President's weekend to chat about!)

February 21, 2009

joyful welcome

Last week I was sitting with a friend... just chatting away. The kids were all out back, playing... Eric had gone out to round them up, and they didn't even know I was there. But it was a good chance for my friend & I to make good use of five minutes to catch up! We knew our time was running short when the slider opened and the voices approached. And then all of a sudden... Dawn! My little red-headed friend had spotted me. He shouted my name, threw up his arms with glee, and raced into my outstretched arms for a hug. The smile... and the genuine joy on his little face... I cannot find the words to express how special I felt.
Usually, little ones reserve that excited welcome home hug for the Daddy... arriving home after being gone all day at work... or away on a Reserve weekend. Usually, the Mommy is not the one who has been away... and so the hellos we receive are a bit more subdued... laced with the same amount of love, of course... just not quite the same level of excitement. And now, my kids are quite settled in when I arrive home from work.. I may get a faint Hi Mom from the recesses of our home... or perhaps a moment of eye contact and a nod when one looks up from the story they are immersed in. It is not that the love is not present... just that after years and years the mystery is no longer... they simply know that I will walk in the door and life will carry on as they know it. It is not bad... it just is.
When I greet my own Mom... it is special... it is not an everyday occurance. We save our hug for last... and once our arms are folded around each other, we just soak in our love for each other... just let it seep right into our very beings... and not let go. Special, yes. Filled with childlike joy? We are past that... I think.
This joyful welcome has been on my mind all week. It has spun around my heart... flipped back and forth in my brain... and then it hit my very soul. Who else on this earth would welcome me like this? With such love, and glee and abandon? As if I had been lost, then suddenly found? Perhaps this red-headed little friend has given me a glimpse of what is to come... hopefully many, many, many years from now. Perhaps his joyful welcome is a just a tiny glimpse of what is to come... when the One who has given us life welcomes me home.

February 19, 2009

play day

It is like Christmas Eve to me... the night before going to the Magic Kingdom. Every hour, I am awake... peeking at the clock... and then I finally give up around five o'clock... and start to get ready for the day. I don't need to be the first one to the park... but just don't make me late and miss the opening. I just want to be there... early. I would rather wait outside the gate... than in my hotel room.

It was a different trip for us this time... Dumbo and Pooh Bear no longer a priority... heading straight for the Speedway and Space Mountain. And Laura really wanted to explore Tom Sawyer Island. We have skipped it in the past, or not spent as much time there... and I was so happy to let them just play... for almost as long as they wanted. When children are twelve and fifteen, there is just never adequate time for play. So they ran and ran around the fort... up the stairs... out the escape route... and back again.

Eric and the kids raced ahead in the caves... so they could jump out and scare me... or whoever was just a little behind. Their laughter made the scare worth every gasping breath.

After laughing across barrel bridges... after being drenched by two geysers... and after lunch... there was a parade. How I love the fanfare and the celebration! How I love to see the characters who come alive in my heart.

We live closer to Disney than most... but I have never wanted it to become ordinary to my children. I want them to always feel the magic... I want for them to never lose the excitement... I want them to always believe in the fairy tale... I want them to have this love in their hearts... for the magical place that Disney is. Though it was more crowded that I have ever seen it... Disney is still that place for me... that magical place that bursts with excitement and glows with the promise of fairy tales.

if you get the chance...

It is one of my most favorite places... in the little bit of this world I know. A trip to Disney World gets my heart smiling and my toes wiggling. And while I didn't have the highest expectations for the weekend... by the time we were packing up the suitcases, I was excited... and ready to hit the road! Disney hotels are my favorite... how each one has its own personality... its own treasures to showcase... not matter what the price level. One of my absolute favorites? Pop Century (a value resort!) Pulling up to it and seeing bowling pins, cell phones and Rubik's cubes, all larger than life... I love it! And we cannot park fast enough so we can get out and explore. On our way to our room, the kids raced ahead... to choose their "song."
Later in the evening... a trip to Downtown Disney. My kids no longer believe that this is Disney World... but they used to. We always have fun... exploring... shopping... soaking in the atmosphere. Of course, there is plenty to do.
There are Lego's to play with...

pins to trade...

and maybe... a little dancing.
There I was... snapping away... trying to get a great shot of my son. I just loved the joy that was all around him. The expressions on his face. The way he danced with complete abandon. He was moving so fast... he was never more than a smiling, dancing blur. The music was such fun... there were so many dancing, but more watching... just enjoying the evening. I could feel my feet itching to move... and my heart knew how much fun it would have been to dance with my son. But there I was... just snapping pictures. And then... something inside me cried out... Why won't you just let go? Why are you not following your feet... and your heart? And I looked out into the crowd... where our family (and entourage from Michigan) was standing. I can't get out there and dance... And again.... Why? No good reason, I suppose. So the camera went back into its case... backpack on my back... and I danced with my son. I let go and danced... maybe a little more reserved than he... but I would like to think the backpack on my back, and my lack of ability was hindering me slightly. But we danced... we Walked Like an Egyptian... we did the Thriller... we raced with Rocky and threw our arms up in victory. We were Footloose... and more.
I love that song... I Hope You Dance... but most of the time... there I sit... on the sidelines. But on that night... I chose to dance. I chose to live in the moment, and laugh with my son. I chose to listen to my heart... and push away the silly fears. And there was so much joy inside me. And I want to remember the feeling... I want to remember that life is a gift... and I want to remember that to dance with your son, who is growing up by the minute, is something that is... beyond grace.

February 17, 2009

celebrating silver

Sometimes in church, our pastor announces a wedding anniversary... and most of the time people clap... especially if it is a big number. Because as much as we want to believe that marriage is forever... sometimes it just isn't. Even if you believe with all of your heart... that your commitment is real and everlasting... the other person might not. Life happens... hearts are broken... people give up... and it seems that fewer and fewer people are reaching these milestones. Today I am so thankful for twenty-five years. So thankful that my eyes are tearing up... and my heart is on fire.
Long ago, my Mom's heart was broken... and of course, along with her heart was my heart... and my sister's heart. Little girls want to believe in the fairy tale... the happily ever after... but I have come to learn that not all fairy tales begin and end the same way. Sometimes the Prince has to come along in the midst of crisis... and become part of the healing. And twenty-five years ago, my Mom's fairy tale began anew...

I know... that my life would not be as rich and full as it is... if not for Bob. Because I am still that little girl who wants to believe in the fairy tale... who does believe it. Because of Bob... and his love and laughter... our family could see what love looks like... what a great marriage looks like... what two people in love look like. Little girls need Fathers... we need Fathers who love us and support us... we need Fathers that love our Mom... and we need Fathers who stay. This marriage is full of fun, adventure... and love. Together they have built a successful business... and retired with their health. Together they have travelled to places they never thought to dream about. Together they have danced a thousand steps... and will dance a thousand more.
Happy Anniversary to two of my favorite people. You have given me so much... life... love... and the tools to share it. And you have given me hope... the hope to dream in fairy tales.

February 16, 2009

f is for...

... four generations.

I am so very thankful for this blessing... for four generations of women in my family. It means that my children not only have a Gramma... but a Great Gramma. It means that I have my Gramma... she gives such a great hug! It means that I have my Mom... she is so much a part of who I am. And to have a daughter... with a smile on her face... it means the world. Four generations means that our history is still alive... and it reminds me that we really need to have our photo taken all together.

Happy A to Z Monday!

February 14, 2009

happy heart's day

Red envelopes filled with wishes… and sealed with shiny hearts. Valentine surprises… tucked away. Off we go… to spend Valentine’s Day with Minnie & Mickey. We’ll be decked out in red and pink… laughing and playing… from dawn until dusk. I am just that kind of girl. The kind of girl who finds the spires of Cinderella’s castle more romantic than a heart shaped tub… the kind of girl who tears up at the Philharmagic 3-D movie, rather than the actual symphony… the kind of girl danced to Beauty and the Beast at her wedding. I don’t need fancy jewelry… or Godiva chocolates. I’d much rather have a fun piece of sparkly glass… and a Mickey ice cream bar. Valentine’s Day is what you make it… and who you spend it with. But contrary to my dear husband’s wishes… we will not be re-enacting that scene from Lady & the Tramp…with a turkey leg instead of spaghetti!

February 11, 2009

a page in our history

This month marks eleven years... eleven years that we might not have had... eleven years into our investment of a life... eleven years since Eric had his heart surgery. It was a frightening time for us... knowing that something was wrong with him... but not knowing what. Those months prior... of doctors and x-rays and exploratory surgery... they were emotionally draining for a young couple whose children were almost-four and almost-one. But then there was an answer... I remember so clearly... our doctor coming out of the emergency room and meeting me in the waiting room... a dimly lit, dreary place, disguised as an ordinary living room. He came in and with a smile on his face said I have good news... I smiled back, with weariness, and he continued... Eric has a hole in his heart. I tried to continue that smile... but my mind was deciphering... good news... hole in the heart... good news... good news? How is that good news? Our doctor continued on... talking about how we finally had an answer... and it wasn't cancer. Okay... that sounds like good news. But how to repair this hole in a heart so big and full of laughter? As it turned out, the hole has been there since birth... and no doctor in all of the 29 years of his life had ever discovered it. Maybe it had been a small hole... but over the years, the joy... the laughter... the struggles... life... had stretched out that hole until it was calling for help. Eleven years ago... the only way to repair this silver dollar sized hole was through open heart surgery... and six weeks of recovery. I will admit that the scariest parts of that were his being out of work that long... and the scar I knew he would carry the rest of his days. Perhaps God led me to focus on those things... instead of the prospect of a huge surgery... and perhaps, life without the man who made my life whole. Again, I remember the waiting room... this time a big open, bright room... filled with families... waiting.... and I remember our doctor, who had asked to scrub in, coming out to me with a smile on his face... and a jar... containing the flap of tissue they had replaced with a Dacron patch. It was as if someone had taken a piece of Swiss cheese... and rolled it out so thinly that you could see through it. And I was so thankful for Dacron... and could only think of the TV commercials with one of those country singers in a bright blue pant suit touting the benefits of Dacron. It is still the picture I see today... in my mind. The hours and days after the surgery were tough... the work he had ahead of him to regain his strength... and banish the depression. And all the while, the hospital staff, and many others, would comment on his youth... and the unusual situation.
We made it through those weeks... and life eventually resumed... but not without a change of attitude. Thankfulness abounded. And our outlook on life in general changed. How could it not? Had this hole not been discovered... we might not be here together today. Life is fragile... and short... and full of mystery. Each new day brings along a challenge... and thankfully, sometimes the answer is as simple as we'll have tacos for dinner. So this month... marks eleven years. Eleven years of thankfulness... eleven years of life patched up with Dacron... eleven years of love... and counting.

February 09, 2009

e is for...


A symbol of freedom for our great country.
My son's favorite bird.
When I see them in flight... or up in their favorite tree, I feel incredibly privileged. Blessed.

He will raise you up on eagles' wings,
bear you on the breath of dawn,
make you to shine like the sun,
and hold you in the palm of His hand.

-On Eagle's Wings

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Enjoy A to Z Monday!