October 31, 2009

happy halloween, part 1

It has been a crazy week. Costume making (and finishing!), snake charming, trunk of treating... and pumpking carving. We did manage to "carve" out a little time for the pumkin carving. Only Laura didn't want to do hers. But that was okay... because it took less time! (and her pumpkin will be pretty a little longer!) Camden... he loves the pumpkin carving. He loves the thinking, the slicing and the removal of the guts. Yes... he loves it all.

And while I was making that first slice, and the knife went in easily, he said Oh, this is much better than that white pumpkin!
Halloween 2007
And he was absolutely right! The white pumkin was cool and quirky, just like my son. And he was thrilled to have found something so unusual at the pumpkin patch. Until we started to carve it (20 minutes before trick-or-treat!) We could barely get the knife in. It wa all I could do just to get the top cut out. Turns out, it is a gourd? And not quite right for jack-o-lanterning. Unless you have the strength of Paul Bunyan (I don't.) My heart was broken for that little guy who had taken the time to draw our his jack-o-lantern vision. His little eyes looked so sad... and if I had had the time, I would have run right down to Publix and found him an orange pumpkin. But he was such a good sport... he told me we could get a new pumpkin the day after, and carve it then. I agreed (he was heartbroken! You would have said yes, too!) and then...
he totally forgot about it.

October 30, 2009

i screamed like a girl

My house does not always look like this. Really. Piles on my floor? Maybe. Tipped over chair? Not likely...
Unless there is a snake in my living room.
Or worse... a half a snake!
Yes. Half.
We had just finished up dinner and Laura & I were headed out the door to band practice.. and there it was... half a snake (maybe 4 inches?) just moving all around the floor. It was the back half... no head. And it was squiggling and squirming all around and that was when I screamed like a girl. A little-itty-bitty-baby girl. (But please do note... that I managed to photograph the unfolding drama from the coffee table... all while I was screaming!) And Scout (our cat) was trying to catch it, pretty darn proud of her accomplishment so far. Eek. Yuck. Get me outta here!

While I was dropping Laura off, Eric tore the house apart... looking for part 2 of the snake. I came around the back of the house, in case that snake head was lying in wait! Tote bags scattered, chair tipped... and my panda purse emptied of its contents. I sure am glad that he did not find snake-part-two in my purse... that would have retired it for certain! After not-quite-long-enough searching, Eric seemed to have given up. We went back to sitting (me with my feet up in my own lap!)After a few more minutes, Scout wandered back out into the living room. Cam noticed that she was batting around my pretty green Chico bag- and Eric went to investigate...

Yep. Stuck inside my precious Chico bag.(Suz... Queen of the Green, do you know how to get snake blood out of a Chico bag?!) Finally, Eric managed to get it outside... and away. It was pretty much dead (thank goodness!) I guess it is a glass snake... it kind of shatters if it is touched. I don't really care what kind it is... as long as it didn't invite any of its friends over to play.

Hours later, shivers were still running up and down my spine. I don't know how that snake got in... but I'm sure glad Scout found it! My hero!

October 28, 2009

write it down

There are exactly two full days (and some kinda half ones) before Halloween... and I, Dawn aka last Minute Lucy, have finished gathering and creating my kid's costumes. Did you hear that? Two full and some kinda half days I had left to do this... but tonight I am done. Yes. That means no last minute green paint on the crocodile ten minutes before trick-or-treat. That means no fringing of Pocahontas's' dress as she is heading out the door. Write it down. Really. Because it will probably never happen again. I can only say I was scared I wouldn't get it done... and that had to be my motivation. Between now and then, there isn't much time... in fact I am not quite sure when those pumpkins are going to turn into jack-o-lanterns. Perhaps tomorrow between 5:15 and 5:45? At least the costumes are complete. Wanna guess?

Easy, huh?

October 27, 2009

sitting in the quiet

When I woke, it was late... and the house was still quiet. It had been a long day... reaching far into the night, and if I had slept until eight, the others would be sleeping longer still. But the aloneness... it was good. The sunlight streamed through the slider and beckoned me outside. The coolness in the air surprised me, and I gathered my coffee and my book and sat... just me, in the air, and still in my pajamas. The book was propped open, and the words lay ready, but my mind sought something else. There were a million thoughts I could think to think. How to make the day better for next year. That I was happy with how hard my kids had worked. How I loved having my family lend their hands to our cause. My mind pushed the busyness away, and words began to work themselves into prayer, but the rustle through the trees shushed me. And so I listened. To the quiet. And I felt Him about me... pushing the me parts away and sharing the He parts that I needed. There I sat... legs folded beneath me... hands folded in my lap... eyes closed, with my face to the sun... and enjoyed the silence. And I breathed Him in... and all that He had to offer on this quiet, still morning that seemed created just for me.

He gives every day... and all we have to do is receive. But oftentimes... life blurs the reception and we keep running. It was gift enough... to sleep long past six. But the keeping me from my own craziness... it was another heaping of His love... and one I couldn't refuse. Tuesdays are for celebrating the little things... the overlooked moments... the simple and the necessary. Unwrap a Tuesday... come along to Chatting at the Sky.

October 26, 2009

kiln starts with k

Obviously... this is not a kiln. But it did come out of a kiln. And please, excuse the faux flower arrangement. I have not had the time to find the proper blooms for this very special piece made by my daughter's own two hands... but was too anxious to set it aside completely unadorned.

Laura is enjoying this ceramics class... in fact, I think she is living for it (and yearbook.) And I love to listen and hear her go on and on and on... about this piece and that. The process of the rolling and sculpting and carving. The way you hand over a piece of yourself to the kiln... all the while hoping that your work was not in vain, and the kiln will be kind. And the relief mixed with complete and utter joy when her piece emerges from the kiln intact. She heartbreakingly relayed that her friend's castle was not so lucky...

She may be living for this class... but me? I am living for those eyes that sparkle with delight. I am living for her voice that bubbles joyfully. I am living for those pieces, embossed with her very own fingerprints, that are an extension of who she is... and just maybe... who she dreams she will be.

It is Monday... and so I join my A to Z friends over at Jen's Unglazed. I'm anxious to see what the others have chosen this week... and especially wondering if Jen has found a photo of a a "K" bird!

October 24, 2009

making your own decision

I watched with anticipation, day after day, as I drove to and from work. Coming soon the sign declared. Props, pallets and finally pumpkins were added to the display as the days in October inched forward. And finally... it was ready. Row after row of Fall had made its way to Florida.

When there was finally a day my calendar did not send me in three directions, the four of us zipped on down to the pumpkin patch in search of Halloween treasure... the pumpkin that would do the Jack-o-lantern honors this year. Walking through the rows of perfect pumpkins, I realized that coming early, before all of the pumpkins begin to rot, has its benefits... and then, upon gazing up at my children, who are not lightening fast decision makers, it occurred to me that once the selection is narrowed down, there are still quite a few advantages!

And so Camden came to me with his pick... and what did I do? I questioned him. I wanted him to look at his choice, and make sure that he would have enough room on the front of the pumpkin to create just the face he wanted. And after just a breath of uncertainty from me, he returned his jack-to-be to it's resting place. And the guilt seeped in. I tried to take back my thought... but it was to late. And this boy, who is so much like his mother, not wanting to ever disappoint, was on the search again. Eric sent an almost-glare my way, and to be fair, I deserved it. Trying desperately to make amends, I went back to Cam and tried to explain my thinking... but most of all tell him that his first choice could be his final choice... and I was sorry for planting that seed of doubt. I eventually convinced him that I was sincere and after another trip or two up and down the rows, he made his way back to the One.

During this whole exchange, Laura was traipsing up row and down, and was totally on her own making her pick. Surprisingly, she found one in record time and then had more time just to wander and enjoy. And I was thankful that I had not ruined the adventure for both of my kids...

Even now... with our pumpkins adding a splash of orange to our front step... I am thinking about what I said... what I did to Camden. And I make a heartfelt plea to my own self... to let go. But along with my own lesson learned comes gratitude. For his will... beginning to stretch and grow and try out uncharted territory. He was able to (finally) push my two cents out of his head and go with his gut. At twelve. And for that, I am thankful. Because for me... it took a lot more than double the years for me to step out boldly from my own Mother's advice and urgings. Her advice was always sincere... and I never felt pushed... I just always wanted to please. And I so I suppose that I was being pushed... but by my own heart. Looking back, I realize that starting this blog was the first time that I have actually listened to my mother's advice and outright rejected it. Her cautions were from her heart... but my own heart had already committed itself. In stepping out on my own decision, and having her come back and thank me (over and over!) for pushing her advice aside, I have learned a valuable lesson. And while I may falter, time and again, I am learning to pass it on. My mistakes may come in a pumpkin patch or over a cooking lesson... but I hope when it is really important that I can step back and let my own kids tumble forth, confident in what they think without worrying that their choice will disappoint me...

October 19, 2009

lighthouse starts with l...

Of all the lighthouses in the world... the ones I have visited... or ever will see... this is my favorite.
Why? Because it is speaks of home.

The Scituate Light shines out over my hometown... and will always be a part of me.
Growing up, I felt... kind of special that this lighthouse was in our town. Perhaps the reason was the stories that surrounded it. The story of Abigail & Rebecca saving the town... my Gramma's memories of the summer house, and my Mom's, too. My Gramma also told how my Grandpa & uncles worked on the lighthouse, making repairs. But it wasn't just the stories. It was the place. It was the summer houses in all states of repair... and the view of the harbor, with sail masts bobbing, just beyond. And there, at the point, she stood proud and tall. I have always wanted to climb the light, but have never had the chance. But just being in its shadow was enough. Navigating the huge rocks of the jetty... out to the end and back. Eating Maria's subs while enjoying the view. Exploring the narrow beach for sea glass and colorful stones.
One day... I will climb the steps and take in the view. But for now... there she sits on my ledge... reminding me of that place which once was home.

What else begins with "L"? Find out at Jen's Unglazed as we work our way through the ABC's... backwards.

October 18, 2009

waiting on fall

Although my mouth speaks bravely of waiting until November for the cool... the rest of my whole self longs for that first chill in the air. That first breath of relief. But I do not grow impatient... I courageuously wait for November. Sometimes though... there comes an unexpected gift. A gift of a cooler breeze than I have felt in six months. A gift of crisp, clean air. It might not last the week... but I will enjoy it while it is here. The windows are finally open, circulating the real air... that God made, not my air conditioner. And the afternoon sky seems bluer... just a touch more vibrant... but I suppose, who would not be? Basking in the light coolness after lumbering under the heaviness of humidity. Taking full advantage of this gift... I found a place outside to enjoy the last few chapters of my book. I stirred up a pot of white chicken chili... to be shared by a fire with friends. I sat and enjoyed... and even slipped on a light jacket. When summer stretches from May until the last few days in October, I cannot help but receive Fall as a most welcome gift... and celebrate.
...and I am not the only one. These hands belong to the boy who, upon climbing from his bed asked Is it cold out? He was hoping it would be freezing last week. Not so he would feel cooler, but so that he could enjoy a steaming cup of cocoa.

I'm linking this up to Emily's Chatting at the Sky for Tuesday's Unwrapped... definitely a piece of the ordinary to celebrate!

October 16, 2009

ribbons & bows

It has been a million years... another lifetime ago... since I tied her hair up in pigtails. But today... just for fun... we sat down again, just us, with the comb and assortment of colored hair elastics. Who knew that sitting down with my girl would bring on such nostalgia?

So off she went... in pigtails and streamers and a growling grin... for Homecoming at the 'Ridge. Go bears!

October 15, 2009

hear my prayer

The memory has been sitting on my heart… heavily, I suppose. It was a beautiful moment, and it keeps calling me to prayer… day after day… hour upon hour.

She courageously left her hat back at her seat as she slowly made her way up for communion. Her family surrounded her… but her eight year old daughter especially caught my eye as she hopped on one shiny, patent leather shoe. She held her other foot just lightly off the ground, as to not dirty her white lace cuffed sock, and she leaned… just a bit towards her mother for balance. And with a sense of love so desperate that I could feel it, Kathy laid her hand upon her daughter’s cheek. Those slender fingers, once strong but now frail, spoke a lifetime to my heart. And in that instant, my own heart cried out for healing louder than it ever had before. They stood as a family... receiving the body and blood of Jesus... and the ache in my heart worked itself in a little deeper.

That day… plays vividly through my mind… and my knowledge of her courage and joy for each precious day attempt to cover my tears. In one selfish moment my heart cries out that I could not bear to lose another friend... and in the next... I am ashamed that I could even put myself into the equation. And with grace... God brings to me the real reason I pray for healing. The husband who adores her. The children who rely on her love for comfort, strength, example, and... balance. Her family... who can not bear the thought of her not being by their side in this lifetime. I don’t know if my prayers will be answered in the way I hope for… but I know that He hears me. And I know… that each and every day is a gift.

October 14, 2009

live, laugh, love... with a little crazy mixed in for good measure

Life... it can go from quiet to crazy in the blink of an eye... and I just happen to be in the crazy phase now. School for the kids and work for the grown-ups is part of the quiet. But add in after-school programs, piano lessons, Odyssey of the Mind, confirmation class and marching band (and all that goes with it) and that is where the crazy sneaks in. Those little squares on my October calendar are full of pencil marks... and November & December? Yes, they are starting to fill up, too. Taking a closer look, those marks represent the good stuff. The events and appointments that make us who we are, or help us on our way there. Once in a while, I have a chance to sit and do nothing... but if you call me and catch me during one of those times, I'm bound to ask Where are you? Am I supposed to be there?

Laugh... I have a distinctive laugh. Okay... loud. There. I said it. But one of the perks is that in a crowded room, my friends can find me. I used to be a little self-conscious about it, but upon realizing that laughter makes my heart feel good... and crazy laughter makes me feel even better.... I pushed the trepidations aside and just let the laughter roll out. The crazy(and best!)part? Sharing that laughter with a friend. Even if it comes close to getting you kicked out of Sea World! (I think the only reason they let us stay was because they didn't want to take responsibility for our Girl Scouts!)

Love... Oh, love. What is not crazy about love? I am crazy in love with my husband... and if you mess with my kids I can go from calm to crazy in a flash. I'd be just plain old crazy without Jesus... and my love for my family leans towards crazy, too. Or maybe they are just crazy? Some of each, I think. But then there are some of the uncommon crazy-loves. Like ice cream and Sharpies... and Market Day chicken steaks. I guess I might go a little overboard... but as long as I'm loving, I may as well love with my whole heart! And if that means having a freezer full of chicken (12 boxes for the summer?)at all times, so be it. At least I know I have something to cook for dinner!

So... maybe there is more than a little crazy mixed in. But when you are measuring crazy, you have to expect to go a little over the top!

Hillary at the Other Mama wanted to talk crazy today... and she didn't want to be alone (that is no fun!) so I figured I'd share just a few crazy thoughts. I hope there won't be a vote on who is the craziest... because if it is me, I'd rather not know.

October 13, 2009

imaginary friends

Her name was Josie. To me, she was silly and no more than a game. But to my sister... she was a playmate and a confidante. Though I didn't even know who Josie and the Pussycats were, I just knew that was where this Josie came from. But I was wrong... she was just Josie. Tina's Josie. She rode in the car with us. She played dolls with us. She was always there... right beside my sister. I don't think she lived with us for very long, but while she did, she was as real to Tina as I was...

Imaginary friends. As a little girl, I never had one. And while I may have been a smidgen jealous of this friend who resided in my sister's heart, I knew that she had room for me, too. Before long, imaginary friends were a thing of the past, and learning what it meant to be a real friend became the highlight of my week. Making plans for our Thursday half-a-day, or heading out for a Brownie meeting... riding bikes around the neighborhood and through the woods. I began to really know what it was to be a friend... to cultivate relationships and treat others the way I would want to be treated. And real friends... they don't fade from your heart.

Last week I was lonely and disconnected... and I realized a Tuesday gift on a Friday. That my blogging friends are not imaginary... but real. I might not recognize their face if I passed them in an aisle in Target, but surely I would recognize their heart. My mouse skitters around their e-mailed comments or follow up notes... so as to save them for just a bit longer. Because those words... they erase the imaginary part of our friendship. Those words are tangible, and they make our friendship real...and they inspire me to know that my words might matter. Those words... they are gifts... from their hearts to mine... and back again... like a footprint on my soul.

I was so sad to miss Tuesday last week... because Tuesdays just aren't the same without my very real blogging friends... and the chance to unwrap the day with Emily....

Kelli is having trouble getting her link to work at Chatting at the Sky... but her post is too sweet to miss: Kelli's Tuesdays Unwrapped post

October 12, 2009

meringue starts with m

Using her new lime green Nintendo DS(that would be DS #5... thank you extended warranty!)and its cooking game, Laura made a pavlova... which is a meringue shell topped with a sweet cream and beautiful fruit. An Australian dessert. It was... as delicious as it was beautiful. And I loved that she was busy in the kitchen... cooking away. One and a while she called out for a hand, but she really did it on her own. I was impressed... probably because she was not daunted by the thought of trying something completely new... and not once did it travel through her mind that she might not be able to do it. Me? I would have leafed right on by that page in my cookbook. She is growing up in so many ways... and her confidence is growing right along with her. And I am thrilled.

Glad I am not missing out on A to Z Monday! I'm so glad Jen puts up with me! Happy Monday.

October 08, 2009

catching up

Today is Friday... and I can breathe. Although my actual breaths are still mildly labor-some, my mind is breathing easier... on a break from catching up. After a couple weeks of being sick, and missing almost three days of work, Monday found me with that deer in the headlights look. I never did write my A to Z Monday post... even though I was full of "N" ideas... like nice, and nephew, and niece. Tuesday did not find me any saner... and I know for certain that I could have used those Tuesday Eyes that Emily chatted about. As the week went on (and on and on and on) I remembered why I don't usually succumb to being sick. A Mom doesn't have time to be sick... and this one certainly doesn't have the energy to run at the pace it takes to catch up. But there doesn't seem to be a choice... so I keep on running, all the while trying to ignore that little bit of discomfort that still sets in my ears.
And after a week of checking off all of the must-do things that don't leave room for the wanna-do things, I am amazed how disconnected I feel... from my blogging friends. Because as much as I have missed writing, I have missed reading. I have missed the heart-warming comments... giving as well as receiving. And I realize that my blogging friends are not at all make-believe... they are a very present part of my real life. Some of my real-life friends probably could have told me that... since I frequently share stories and ideas that I happen across in this bloggy world.
So today is Friday... my day. And I am thankful... for the chance to catch up at my own pace, or not.

October 03, 2009

rewinding the week, part 4

I loved watching Laura realize what was going on... seeing her face light up with surprise and disbelief and happiness. I loved hearing that giggle down in the back of her throat as she processed the information and waited for her brother to figure it out. But words were not necessary to feel her joy and to see her excitement.
When Camden finally realized what was going on, his eyes opened wide and his mouth constricted to a tiny "O". He went from slow confusion to shocked joy in a sliver of a second.
And then the shouting began. Maybe not shouting, but certainly a loud combination of words and laughter and explanations. All that the grown-ups had whispered about was finally on the table. The details of the when and the where... a little bit of the how... all amidst spaghetti and candlelight. And it was beautiful.
I think my kids are most excited about seeing the animals... they are such nature lovers. Camden and my Mom poured over the Africa scrapbooks with a new level of wonder, as they talked about what we might see. And me? I think I am most excited about seeing another corner of the world and the people. The stories my Mom has shared have given me a glimpse of another life, and her love for the people she has met has certainly made an impact on my own heart. I cannot wholly fathom that on the same page of the same calendar, people can live so differently. Africa is a world away from me... in so many more ways than distance. I am anxious to experience it, and I wonder if it will change me. I hope I am brave enough to embrace it all.

October 02, 2009

rewinding the week, part 3

You can count on me... to keep a secret.
It is fun at first... to have a secret little dream tucked close to your heart. But as time passes, and the dream begins to grow, the secret is harder to keep and it just wants to burst out with shouting.
We had to wait a week... to tell the kids about Africa... until some of the travel books arrived, and until we could all be together. As each day of waiting passed, there were more phone conversations with my Mom, counting down the days, and being so thankful that we were not waiting until Christmas. And, at least, if we could not tell our kids about their grand surprise, Eric & I could whisper behind closed doors... because the excitement was so close to the surface and to not say anything was to chance the secret spilling out accidentally.
Perhaps by chance, Laura & Camden forgot to retrieve the mail from the end of the driveway... it is usually the highlight of their day. But for whatever reason, it was me who found the big thick envelope with the travel logo. I could not race to my bedroom quickly enough. I double checked to make sure the bedroom door was closed, and that if one of the kids happened to walk in, that I would be out of sight. Confident that the secret would not be exposed, I began to browse through the travel book and tried to absorb the reality. We are really going to Africa. Now, to keep the kids away from the mailbox for three more days...
By Sunday, my every thought was of Africa... and the need to tell was getting to me. Laura, did you finish up your laundry? We are going to Africa! Camden, make sure your backpack is ready for school. We are going to Africa! What should we have for dinner? We are going to Africa! Don't get the mail after school tomorrow... We are going to Africa! But my heart was somehow strong enough to keep the words prisoner in my head.
When the day of telling finally arrived, every fiber of my being was electrified with the excitement. I could barely sit still at my desk. And if both kids hadn't had important after school commitments, I would have raced home and sprung them from class. At ten to four, I finally declared that I couldn't take it any longer, and headed home, only to wait impatiently on the couch... and then finally it was time. I wasn't sure how my parents would tell them... but I knew it would be great.

October 01, 2009

florida fall

October has crept in with just a whispered hint of that glorious Fall air. Forecasted, yes... but still unexpected. I have learned not to hang my Fall hopes on October... because it could go either way. The Florida Fall doesn't quite know how to behave. A continuation of scorching summer? Or a chill in the air that nips at your nose? Somewhere in the middle might be nice, but it seems that October only knows extremes. So I wait... for the days to lean towards November, where Fall is more certain. But my groceries? They are heralding the arrival...