Merry Christmas...

I got my final purchase earlier this week and now, I am a happy girl. Can I just say that 9 days from order to delivery - I LOVE Jones Soda Company. I am not positive but imagine that Santa and the elves could not have done it quicker!

Woke up today to a snow covered scene - nothing like Denver but for us, enought to cause problems for last minute shopping. I was going to watch the kids today as mommy and daddy finished their shopping. That will still happen but after everyone gets dug out. Not what we planned, like life usually goes the way we planned?

I can hear sirens going by on the main road now. I pray it is just a fender bender, nothing more serious. It is a silly thing to think - that the world could just come to a Bad Things Happening halt for a few days as we open presents, sing songs and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Life was not that way for Mary and Joseph. They hit the ground running with the birth of their son. Life was not easy for them or their baby or those around them. His birth brought consequences. Other mothers would soon lose their sons because of Jesus. As the preacher put it, They would give their lives for him before He was able to give His life for them.

For each of you, I wish the most wonderful of holidays. May these days bring a sleigh full of smiles to your face and warm fuzzies to your heart. May the love of your families overwhelm you - in a good way. I want to take lots of pictures to make memories for the kids. I still remember the year that Steve's dad played Santa. They heard bells outside and there he was. It wasn't until years later when Brandi was looking back at the pictures of that Christmas that she realized who Santa was - she was genuinely surprised but there was the proof,, right in the picture. My other favorite picture is my sister and I with our Christmas stash in the front yard with the church in the background. It was the church that my father hated and the church that bought our house the same day it went up for sale. Little did I know that years later, a church would come back into my life - this time, in a more positive way.

Merry Christmas, my friends. May your days be merry and bright. Have a wonderful holiday zalaine.

PS. will be back January 2. Until then, don't let what you know - get in the way of what you can learn...

winding down...

We had another successful night of testing and even Miss Ava seemed to enjoy herself. The boys are now camo-ready and will start with the helmets and pads in January. Oh GREAT, give them a legit reason to beat each other up - didn't know that was part of karate either.

With one more activity out of the way and only 5 days to go - we start the countdown. My DH schedule changed yesterday so he is home until noon today and then will go to work. I was suppose to have the kids today while mommy and daddy went shopping but that changed to tomorrow. The most difficult thing is merging these two schedules. Hubby has to sleep so I have to watch the kids at their house and that is hard because mommy and daddy need to get everything wrapped while the kids are gone. We will figure it out - we always do.

These last few days are overwhelming to all of us. Checking our lists, making changes in plans, remembering what we forgot - all the last minute details that we think we can't do without. The reality is while those things are all well and good, what we will all remember is the Love. I am not saying that the chocolate fountain on Christmas Eve won't be a big hit but what we will all walk away with is a sense of being loved. As I walk thru these last few days, uppermost in my mind is the love I have shared with those close to me. Perhaps no other time of year, with all the sparkles and music, are we reminded of what we already have. It is not under the tree, waiting to be unwrapped - it is here and now.

For some, there will be someone missing from the festivities this year. There will be an emptyness, a void and it will take a little bit more effort but it doesn't change the reality of what we still have, the here and now. As I walk thru the next few days, I want to purposefully enjoy what is going on around me and let the voice of the Small Stuff, evaporate and never make it to my ear. Just want to feel the Love...

honesty ...

In the midst of the hustle and bustle that comes with the week before Christmas, we have two nights of karate testing. I had no experience with karate before this and was a bit skeptical but must admit, I learn something everytime I go. Last night, as group after group tested, the re-occuring theme was honesty.

Honesty - Be honest all your life - honesty.

There isn't a time of year that this isn't relevant and maybe more so, in the here and now. No matter what your upbringing, we have all had some exposure to the concept of being honest. Of course, we always have a choice and a portion of our population who know better, will decide against it. That will always be so - our only option is to make it not so - in our lives.

The honesty that is floating around in my mind today is not our honesty to others but to ourselves. For me, that kind of honesty is tougher. It certainly is more painful in the short run. Whether you are coming to terms with a relationship or personal limitations, it takes guts to do Down That Road. My perception is that if we exercised that kind of honesty more, we would have less trouble in the long run. My heart is really with women and this time of year.

Being honest with yourself, this time of year is a act of courage. Whether from internal or external expectations, we are pulled from every direction possible and some that are impossible. We won't be able to rest for quite a few days and then hopefully, we will be satisfied enough to take a break. Keaton tests tonight and I am so looking forward to it. It takes my mind off what else I waiting for me to do, if only for an hour. I will hear the honesty message again and I hope it sticks...


All the pictures of Gage's first Christmas program are like this one. This has the most of his face showing, the others have bits and pieces. While I was struggling to take his picture, he was struggling to be seen by us. I could see the look of frustration in his eyes, he had seen Keaton's programs before and knew what to expect - and this wasn't it. We would always have him sit on our lap and we would point out where Keaton was and sing and clap and take his picture. I felt the look on Gage's face. I struggled at the kids being lined up four and five deep. Parents all around us felt the same frustration. This was the Day of all days, this was about their kids.

Just like Gage and nana, we all struggle to see and be seen. We don't need to be in the front row but we do have a need to be recognized by Someone who loves us. Find someone who didn't have that need met and you will find one who isn't firing on all cylinders.

The struggle to see is one that takes time and effort. While it will always be a struggle, it does not come naturally as does the struggle to be seen. One, we are desperate to get while the other is one we, hope to grow and gain someday.

Strug-gle (strug/al)
1. to contend vigorously with an adversary
2. to make strenuous effort
3. to make one's way with great effort.

Struggle is in all areas of our lives. We don't always struggle in the same ways, about the same things. Circumstances, personalties and environment all play a role in how it plays out in our lives. When we do struggle in common, bonds are formed. We are able to help and comfort one another. We don't feel all alone and that allows us to continue to make our way with great effort.

Gage's picture has become an icon to me over the last few days. The holidays have their own built in struggles whether money, memories or overload and they won't just go away, come January. Wherever we are each struggling today, Someone is sharing it with us - and as we continue to make our way with great effort, we are not alone ...

twas the week before Christmas...

and my list is growing long...

Saturday night, our annual Christmas Tree Lights tour was on. We found the house that plays music and the lights follow suit. With the Trans Siberian Orchestra playing thru the radio, we all felt like little kids - we oowed and awed. The boys and I sat in the back and played the Movie Game. The idea is to give hints about a movie while everyone guess. When it came my turn, I picked Happy Feet. I told them it was a Story about a mom and a dad who had a baby boy that was different that everybody else - Gage screams out, BABY JESUS!. Not what I had in mind but he was oh, so right.

This may be the Week that feels the most overwhelming of all. The presents have been wrapped for the most part. There is no more time to order off the internet to ensure a delivery before Christmas and the hard part of coordinating, begins and is usually left to the woman.

For all our many faults, women are good at detail. It is left to us to make sure we are where we need to be, when we need to be with what - we are suppose to have. We call the shots - from how long we are staying to visit with Aunt Mary to what he is bring to his work Christmas party. I personally can vouch for this one - I got an email Friday from him explaining what was need in the way of food and he left it up to me. Said I could make what I wanted to. He did decide on his own that he didn't want to particpate in the $10 gift exchange. Still not clear if that was to help me out or because he just wasn't interested. Either way, I am good with it.

We have 2 nights this week that the boys test for their next karate belts - what is the karate teacher thinking? I know he has a wife, several kids and a new baby but I can't help but thinking that she ok'd it and whatever she was doing those nights, she didn't need him for. There are 2 Christmas parties this week and the kids are staying with nana on Thursday while mommy and daddy finish shopping. That will be my fun day - I want to make cookies and play music and keep Morgan out of the tree. All the while I have to balance this with hubby crazy schedule. While we like him to attend our events, the bigger deal is letting him sleep, day or night, when he needs to. This week, his schedule is double wacky.

I will pray for each of you this week as you go thru your own particular brand of overwhelmingness. I will carry the pastor's words about the angel talking about the peace that will come when the baby Jesus comes. Look around, are you feeling overwhelmed with peace right about now. Peace is not about our circumstances, it is about our relationship with God and if I have to remind myself about that every minute of these days, I will. His peace, the world can not offer, it can not emulate and it can not sustain it - His Peace, He gives to you, this very day...

christmas cards...

I love getting christmas cards...except from realtors I have never used and my insurance company. I do not need the reminder tht I pay insurance on my house and car twice a year and am terrified to use them for fear of rising premiums.

My family never sent them and I followed suit when I got to be the decision maker. Back then, the photo christmas card was not around. The cards I recieve fall into a few different catagories. Right about now, about 85% are photo cards. A visual greeting with wishes for a great holiday and a picture of a family or kids. Another 10% is by the tradional card with a handwritten signature, no picture. The other 5% are the crafty ones. Newsletters with photos and great Stories by people who were blessed in a creative way.

My friend and I had this discussion the other day. What is the purpose of a Christmas card ?( for these purposes - including all formats of holiday correspondence) Is it to inform or entertain? Is this the right venue to be brutally honest about the year you and yours have had? Or is it about knowing that someone thinks enough about you to spend time and money to send you a greeting. I am not sure we came to any concrete conclusions but I have been pondering this for a few days and this is it for me.

You thought enough of me to send holiday greetings.
In one form or another, you are wishing me, the holiest of holidays
We are sharing the greatest Story ever told, together.

One girl who never sent cards decided she would this year. She wanted people to know that they were still alive. I was instantly blessed in a creative way and inspired by a old Monty Python line, We're not quite dead yet, which I thought rivaled anything that Hallmark could come up with. Short, simple and to the point....

real or pretend...

It was his first Christmas program. Preschool at the church where he went every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They had practiced during school yesterday but he thought it was the Real Deal. Later at home, he was excited to go to school at night with his family.

Mr Last Guy On The Right was quite the performer last night. Jingle Bell Rock was my particular favorite. They rang their bells with much gusto - it was FABulous. Each class did a few numbers and the whole production was a joy for the audience. Miss Shelli and Miss Brandi did a wonderful job. We had conferenced in the ladies room before the performance and I got to weigh in on their costume choice - I chose the Santa hat over the elf hat - it just had their names written all over it. Little did I know that the program would end with Santa!

So after end of the program, Here comes Santa down the isle, Ho, Ho, Ho-ing all the way down to the stage. Most of the kids flocked to him but some like Gage, were not too sure. Gage is firm in declaring to all of us that it is not the REAL SANTA - rather it is someone's dad. He would know because he had his picture taken last weekend with the REAL SANTA, at the mall. He was ready to go. Miss Brandi told us to check out his letter to Santa on the way out. The letter was Pure Gage - I love this kid...

His mommy told him not to share his expert knowledge of Santa Claus too loud. When the kids are young, we start with the Story of Santa. A pretty unbelievable Story at that. Later on, we add the Story of the Easter Bunny. Again, a highly improbable tale of a bunny who doesn't have a sleigh or elves- to carry around all the goodies that they find in their Easter baskets. The Tooth Fairy story should be the scariest - this one comes in your room. There isn't a kid alive who shouldn't have been scared to death by a fairy with a hand, reaching under your pillow - money or not.

Then we tell them about Jesus... and as the realness of Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy come to life, " Oh, they were pretend - Jesus, the Story that makes no more sense than the others - He's Real." I don't know how we could make it better. I just pray that in the end, the Jesus that I know, makes Himself real to them. Some people have a hard time all their lives knowing real from pretend, I truly feel for them. Life is tough enough without believing in Something that isn't real. Putting all your proverbial eggs in the wrong basket. Life is real and pretending it isn't, makes it harder.

The church program is this Sunday. With one under his belt and hopefully, his brother by his side, Gage may get use to this performing stuff. As for real or pretend, its get no more real that this...


Starwall - Big Stuff...Yesterday was Keaton's big day. Each second-grader gets to showcase themselves. They display pictures that tell the Story of who they are. They share their dreams as well as their fears. Keaton explained about his family, soccer, karate and his love for all things Pokeman. He also brought the leather strap with bells that fell off Santa's sleigh that he found in his yard last Christmas morning. After his presentation, the class got to ask questions and give compliments. Not surprisingly, about 99% of all the questions were about the bells. There was one question asking why he liked Pokeman so much and he did get a compliment from Evan about his pictures and neat handwriting but it really was all about the bells.

"Did you see anything else?"

"Where did you find it?"

"Is it plastic?"

The Keaton display will be up for a week and I can guarantee you if the bells aren't strapped down, they will have a new home. After all the questions had been asked and all the compliments given, the teacher gave us an opportunity to say something about him. Tough audience - as his mommy spoke first, I pondered what I would say. Could have gone in any direction but I went the XBOX route. I told the kids how he rocked at Spiderman and was way better than his poppa. He also had to toot his own horn. He said he was nice, was a good friend and liked to help people. He is all those things and more. Wish I knew more like him, big and little people.

We should all have a Starwall a few times in our lives. Not to show off or boast but mainly to hear what we are thinking. Sometimes I learn a lot more about myself when I listen to what I say. There is nothing wrong with re-grouping - stepping back to see what your fears and dreams are. They change, you know. Sometimes they change and we aren't even aware. A Starwall would fix that.

I learned alot in second grade today. About life, sharing with others and even phonics. At lunch, I told Keaton I might have to go back to second-grade. The kid sitting across from me said I would have to shrink to do that. I told him if I came into his class now, I had a car and could drive all the second-graders around. He just looked at me and changed his tune. 2 cool 4 school...

Christmas money...

In my newspaper on the Business page, the bankruptcies are right next to the gal who writes about money. She has all kinds of advice about saving, spending and keeping money. If only those people could have been reading her column, maybe it would have helped.

My family was notorius for having money issues. One uncle showed up on my wedding day looking to borrow some money. He forgot he had received an invitation to the wedding. My family also had numerous financial troubles - some were legit but most were poor planning and worst judgement. Our Christmas's were always bankrolled by the good people of Benefical Finance. Christmas had a debt problem, all its own.

There is no other time of year that we spend it more. We may or may not be prepared to do so. For the last ten years or so, I have had a Christmas fund. It sits in its own little envelope waiting for that first hit. I think it was in October that we found a Little Tykes kitchen for Miss M on sale and my Christmas money was ready to go. The money is gone now and my shopping is done - turned out well.

All that being said, I am going shopping with my friend tomorrow - I can GUARANTEE you I will not come home empty handed. I can almost guarantee you that when I go pick up Brandi's Christmas cards at Walmart in a few minutes, I will not come home without the 30 inch Superman that is half-price. Why? I will tell you why.

Christmas is intoxicating. It takes over whatever good sense we have tried to learn and cultivate. The lights, the music, the deals are too much for us. The moment you drive away from your house, it starts. The neighbors you never speak to are waving as they are decking their halls. House after house, especially at night, is a feast for the eyes and all our inner children come out to play. You get to the store and there is a bellringer collecting for those who can't. One year, every time I went in a store - I put something in the kettle. My theory was if I could spend money, here and now - I could share, here and now. I plan to do this again next year with my gkids. We are never to old to learn to share. My point is, to fight off the magical fumes of Christmas is almost impossible. I wish it wasn't so. January comes too quickly and so do the bills. So will the unexpected - the washing machine breaks down, a trip to the doctor or new tires for the car.

The moeny lady's column today was about a couple who bought nothing for a year. Theyplanned ahead and bought all the food stuff, gas and everything else they needed and didn't shop for the rest of the year. Interesting experiment - they paid off all their debt but their mortgage. Wonder how much we could save if we stayed away from Best Buy alone!!!

I hope your Christmas money is doing just fine and I hope you are enjoying these days. It is a time filled with so much, wish we could bottle it and keep it all year...


As a kid living in a atheist world, Christmas was All about decking the halls. While decorating done by the Dictator, my sister and I were able to enjoy it afterwards. One year there was an elaborate candy house complete with a pond and skater. We were not allowed to help of touch but looking was allowed. Christmas was a time of wonderment and to this day, the Christmas of my childhood carries with it delightful memories.

The Christmas of my 26th year was my first one with Jesus. I treated His Story pretty much as an addendum to the Christmas of my childhood. Christmas after Christmas, He became more and more of my Christmas. The music, what's important and and how I view Christmas has changed over the years but with that growth has come, confusion. I thought I had it worked out -the expectations of merging the two Christmases but I was wrong.

For the last couple of years, our kids Christmas program at church has includes a dance number. In between waiting for the Wise Men to show up, we have Irish cloggers, all wearing the same red, curly wigs. This has just added to my confusion. I don't know how to incorporate this with the Baby Jesus or Santa, for that matter. Don't get me wrong, if Miss M was in a red, curly wig dancing her heart out, I would be the loudest clapper ever but what is the Message we are trying to get across?

For me, it is like trying to live 2 seperate lives for a month every year. The Santa part of Christmas speaks to the kid in me which is a significant part of who I am. To now share that with Keaton, Gage and Miss M, is something I never dreamed would happen.

Maybe, I am worrying about nothing.
Maybe it's time to let my expectations go and see if the confusion clears.
Maybe the time is here to let my Christmas confusion...RIP.

Wednesday night is Gage's first Christmas program. His teacher, Miss Brandi, told his mommy get a good seat and get ready. Apparently part of the program is Freestyle. At karate on Friday night, I think I was privy to a preview of what to expect. I don't want to give away the Secret but there may be some superhero moves involved. Maybe this will help my confusion. If you think about it, the Story of birth of Jesus points to the greatest superhero ever and as for Santa, he makes Spiderman look dull...


There is not one of us who doesn't think, actually believe and act upon the notion, that we have control over a good deal of our lives. That impression directly affects how we do our day to day business and lures us into a sense of security. We act like control is our constant.

Con-stant (kon'stent), not changing, continuing without pause, recurrent, continual, persistent, certain, steadfast.

That definition sure doesn't resemble the control in my life. From the little to the BIG things in my life, The idea that any control I may percieve having has any certainty to it, is laughable when put up to the z light. I can see that now but in the midst of any given situation, my perception that I save the day, seems quite plausible.

When I treat that control as a constant, I start to move into dangerous territory. When I start to believe that if I just pull my big girl panties up a little higher - I could save the world - I have already lost. The theory of control is only balanced when I use Jesus as my constant. When I see my control for what it really is, now, that's real control...

I have had some great conversations this week, The theme of each of these has been the overwhelming knowledge that we are not in control. They have each shared the common thread of understanding that truth. Our control is in how we react, in how we choose to move on. The control is about the constantness of Christ.

Not much of a planet person. How can you take that stuff seriously when you name planets after Disney characters? However I can see the Big Picture more clearly when I can imagine my little z planet revolving around the Constantness of Christ. I am constantly on the move and He is steadfast. If I choose to go out on my own, use my own control - I am just circling in the dark, aimlessly. As Dr Phil would say, and how's that working for you?

I won't always remember.

I will fail again.

I will snatch up that control and truly believe I can change the world and that's ok. I will remember my Constant eventually. The One who truly has the control. The One greater that myself. The One who truly is steadfast. The One who is constant, incarnate...Happy Friday, love zalaine.

cry your little eyes out...

I am not much of one to cry. I get tears well up in my eyes every once in a while but those full blown waaaaaa cries are far and few apart for me. Even the things that bring tears to other people's eyes don't seem to faze me. Mine seem to run a different path.

There doesn't seem to be a recipe but if I am hit in the right spot, the tears are lickety split there like ugly on an ape.

I always tear up on Baby Story at the moment that the baby is born.
I can be driving down the road and a song will blur me up in no time.
Reading a blog has brought me to my tear-stained tears.

The full-blown cry. The Real Deal. By the time, I do cry - it is an all out nasty thing to see. because I go so long in-between, the tears are filled with much emotion. The sobs that come out of my mouth evend scare me. I catch my breath between sobs just before the next wave comes. I wish it were different.

I wish I could cry more often
I wish crying felt more natural
I really wish there was more balance in my emotions.

I don't know if that is possible. By the time you get to be an adult, is crying a learned behavior that we could change with some work? Cry more - sob less. Let those feelings out in a more orderly fashion and save the Big Cry for the emergencies of life. Don't have much of a problem using those same tear ducts when I am happy - they all come from the same place, don't they?

Wish I felt a good cry coming on. Maybe the little black cloud wouldn't hang around as often if those emotions could find their way out and be at home. Something to think about while I am waiting...

letter of the law...

Dh came home for a few hours for a little dinner and nap and ran back to work. He was suppose to only be gone until midnite but midnite came and went so I called him to see what the deal was.

"Go to bed, I am going to be here all night", he tells me.

He knows good and well that I will not be able to sleep and will spend a few more hours at my computer until I feel my little eyes trying to stay awake. I finished another layout and then decided it was legal to do tomorrow's blog. Blogger was on the fritz so I had to wait while the engineer worked out the kinks. I hate it when I have to be out of the house early in the morning and I can't post until later in the day. Throws my whole schedule off but if its after midnite, I am free to go there.

It is the same thing with this POTD experiment. Taking a photo everyday is tougher than I thought. There are days I could add 10 pictures but there are more days that I come up empty-handed. My nature resembles, no... it does, follow the letter of the law. If I decided to do something, it has to been done in a certain way. It is not about anyone else - it's about what I have to have for myself. It is what I can live with.

There were 2 jolly ladies behind me in line at Walmart yesterday. They decided after seeing my Godiva Dark Belgian Chocolate ice cream that they were coming home with me. I told them that was fine but we would have to get out of line and get more. They were the sweetest things - they had just stopped to get some things before visiting a sick friend. I left wishing we Could have shared that ice cream.

There are parts of me that as random as can be. I can only hope that the dicotomy of my nature balances out the person that I am. There are times I wish I could flip-flop how I do business. Maybe someday, I will be able to.

At the rate I am going, I will just be going to bed when I would have been posting to er but I am good with that. Sometimes, my days and nights are mixed up. What does that do to my letter of the law theory? Hopefully it will allow me to see that flexability is a good thing and to make more, I need to use it more. Hope you had a great night, see you tomorrow...

family feud...

I am not much of a game show watcher except for my strange attraction to Deal Or No Deal. I just never cared for them except for The Dating Game when I was a teenage. Now I need Family Feud to eat my lunch by. Remember that game show from way back when? Richard Dawson was the host forever then Rickard "Al" Karn and now Elaine's old boss from Seinfeld, John O'Hurley. Its on at 1130 - so if I am home, lunch and the Feud go together just fine.

I am not proud of this - first of all, it is where families go and clap for each other every other second. Secondly, if any five people in one family could make a trip to the studio without killing each other, that in itself should be cause to win some sort of prize. The thing is the top prize after a half hour of non-stop clapping for your family is only $20, 000. The Banker on DOND will give you that in the first few minutes just to go home. These people go ballastic when they win $750 !

My biggest problem with the game are the contestants' trying to pick the right answers versus remembering it is about what 100 assorted people think. This is not about right or wrong, this is about perpective. You have to listen to what the announcer is saying about the group that is being asked the questions and - think like they do.

100 women surveyed - What is a man's favorite way to spend an afternoon?

Even the males contestants' have to put themselves in those 100 womens' shoes. After being asked the question and before their time runs out, sometimes you can see them racking their brains for an answer. Sometimes, the answers are horrible, terrible and stupid but they still get that cheerleader family clap - bet that changes out in the car.

My point and I promise I am getting to it, is we run on perspective, Every action we take everyday is based on our perception. It doesn't and most often, isn't right but that doesn't change how we do business. What 100 people think isn't important if we aren't playing Family Feud. What is important to understand where you are coming from and why or better yet, why someone else thinks the way they do. As we walk through this holiday season, our world may not look like everyone elses. The Christmas season may bring different responses depending on what someone's year has been like.

I have been blessed this year. We are all well, have plenty of food to eat and look forward to opening presents in a few weeks. I can think of a few families that will not fare as well. If I am able to be of service to them, I would gladly help. I 'm not talking about taking a tag off a tree and making their Christmas look like mine so I can feel good about what I am doing. I am talking about meeting them where they are... right where they are... and just being and listening with them. For just a moment, making my perception, their perception. Now that, would be quite quite a thing...

60 years and still going strong...

I saw the announcement for her 60th wedding anniversary in the paper last Sunday. I haven't seen her in almost 10 years. We worked together for so long. Worked with her two girls and her DIL too. I knew I had to go...

We were working together one night- there was some sort of potluck going on and one of us had brought a cake. A cake too good to share with those who wouldn't appreciate its goodness so we did what any normal thinking women would - we each got a fork and finished off the cake by ourselves. We didn't eat much at the potluck and decided to go to Weight Watchers, a decision that changed both of our lives.

With some people, you pick up where you left off whenver you see them. It is that way with her. I walked through the door and she got tears in her eyes and she grabbed me and hugged me hard. She just kept hugging me - she couldn't believe I was there. She lived on a farm for most of her married life, moving to town just a few years ago. Seems to have made a good transition to having close by neighbors. A few minutes later, she came to find me again and just stared at me. Her house was full of people, family and friends but maybe it was one whom she never expected to see that got her attention.

I grabbed my little piece of cake and sat in the rocking chair by the photo display. She did it herself and as she was talking to someone doing some admiring, Aren't they the cutest kids? And they are all grandparents now. I think it was a hard concept for her to really wrap her brain around even though she is one of the best people in the world. She has no religious tendencies but her God-given sense of goodness, could fool you into thinking otherwise.

I mingled around trying to find someone I knew and I found her DIL. A few minutes later, here she comes again with another big hug. I hugged her back. She tells me, Come over and work on my computer all day. She still has tears in her eyes, she just want to see me again.

I plan on going back before Christmas. I won't work on her computer but will give her my undivided attention. She made me feel like the prodigal daughter - her Love was so strong. It was her anniversary but I took home the Prize...

to do list...

Starting tomorrow, there are 4 weekends to get my Christmas shopping done. Yesterday we went out and I was semi-hopeful to pick up a couple of things I knew I needed. Both are already sold out. I have cruised almost every Walmart looking for a case for Gage's MP3 player and we finally found it at so one of my items is on way...

My to do list isn't very long. I don't have a large family. Don't have to buy gifts for co-workers anymore but the intensity of what I am shopping for is still there - whether buying for a few or many and that is where I could and sometimes do, lose focus.

I shot this pic of Gage modeling a ladies scarf at Old Navy yesterday. We really did have a great time. He is always up for anything fun so while Miss M is trying valiantly to escape from the stroller, we are goofing around trying to make a little happy time. The camera has always made Gage happy and I have learned to see the world a little different through him...and the lens.

We hit Target and Costco and then we ready to head home. The kids fell asleep on the way home so I guess, we just wore them out. In turn, they wore me out. They wore out that part of me that makes me a to do list maniac. As I got home and downloaded my pics, all I saw was the FABulous time we had. All I will remember is this silly pic of Gage not that I couldn't find a single copy of Fairie Tale Theater for my sister. Today, my perception of my to do list looks a little different and I dare say, will throughout the next four weeks.

To Do List -

Remember Yesterday
Be in the moment

And even after the holidays, my to do list will begin this way. While other things will be added, this will be the headliner. I end my first month of the year long POTD ( picture of the day) project with Gage and his scarf. Not a bad way to end...

Fa la la la la...

Still haven't found my Christmas mojo. I tell myself I am trying too hard - just let it come naturally, in its own way and time.

We had a digi scrap last night at the local coffee house but it was really a front to celebrate my bday again. A FABulous chocolate birthday cake and a CROWN made me feel pretty special. We spent the evening playing and just visiting. One of the gals designed and finished her Christmas card. Her photo was a beach scene and the ornaments she used were just perfect for her design. We have been struggling on a design for the gks Christmas card. My daughter had a great idea of taking it in their Christmas jammies - that has great possiblilties but I'll bet we will match the boys to Miss M's stunning Christmas dress. That seems to be our default.

It used to be called tradition - I think default would be the new term. When it comes to holidays, there is almost a plan, maybe even an expectation of what the holiday should look like or be like. Like knowing your que in a play.

Stand on your mark ...then go when it is time. There have been times when I was ready for Christmas in September. I carried the Christmas spirit everywhere I went for 2 extra months feeling the high of Christmas. The high of Christmas?

Make no mistake - Christmas comes with it own brand of high. Ask anyone who has had a loss this year whether job, loss of a loved one or just hard times - Christmas exaggerates those feelings and makes the loss that much more difficult. Those four or five weeks of Christmas expectations have to be accomodated-maybe in a reduced way but accomodated never the less.

Here's the deal... our default with Christmas is about the stuff. It is about getting, buying, doing, more getting, more buying and more doing. Those are all things Ireally enjoy but putting all my high in that basket, won't get us any closer to where Iwant to be.

Mine will come from the Christmas program when Keaton and Gage will sing songs the songs of Joy, Peace and the baby in the manger. Mine will also come from Yesterday.

As I sit here writing this, I remember this photo from last Christmas morning. All the presents had been open and breakfast was on its way. While everyone else was in the throes of Christmas morning toy passion, quietly, Keaton grabbed a pen and piece of paper , headed for the kitchen table and started writing. I was at the stove cooking sausages and asked him who he was writing to. It was a thank you note to santa for all the things he had been given just a few minutes before. In that instant, I felt the high of Christmas. I pass this picture in my living room a hundred times a day. Its high always present, no matter what the season.

I have a new tradition, default if you will. This will be a part of all the rest of all my Christmases. I can't imagine that God doesn't smile when he sees gratitude in his children. I think I just found my Christmas mojo - it was right in front of me the whole time...

What a strange way to save the world...

As I head full speed into the 2006 Christmas season, I feel like I am still standing at the starting line, looking around - not sure what to think or where to go. My Christmas theme of I Believe In Yesterday is about the only thing that feels like home.

What I do know about this yesterday thing is that I have put all my eggs in one basket. To me, it is the perspective of what Jesus did for me some 2000 years ago and not what is being reported today on CNN. I have to look back to go forward.

So the thoughts that are going thru my mind have had a lot to do with Mary the last few days. Everything we do from now until Dec 25 is because a teenage girl said yes. We will never really know what she was thinking - wish she had kept a journal. Maybe it would have read something like this... From Evelyn Bence's, Mary's Journal.

"What have I done to deserve this?
Blessed among women. Chosen.
My womb will bear...the promise...the king.
I believe the man I saw, the words I heard."

Mary would conceive a child without being with a man. What society would that play favorably in? This is swimming uphill without a paddle. It would not only change her world but her fiancee too. This was not his child. Mary was the one who received the visit - Joseph had to hear about it second-hand. How would that play with your man?

" I've had gotten a good man from the Lord.
Yesterday I was grateful for merely a husband and right to be. Today how can I be so fickle - to mourn the wedding celebration I have been planning for so long? Since memory was born. Since I first smelled the fragrance of Cousin Leah's bridal joy."

Mary's Story will lead us to a manger which will lead us to a cross. It's all about Yesterday. If Mary had only had Paul McCartney's lyrics on her rockPOD, it might have proved soothing.

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in Yesterday...

Maybe not.
Maybe it was just the faith of a teenage girl, ready to do what was asked
Maybe she didn't give the consequences a thought...or maybe she did and said yes anyway.

" I was spared no pain but is seemed of little consequence once the breath filled his lungs.
And then near dawn, shepherds at the door, visited by heavenly being, one, then a skyfull, announcing our news: the Anointed One, born, wrapped and in a manger. Rejoice. Praise the Most High"

Thank you Mary for showing us the way of faith. A faith that can be if we are willing. Whatever we are asked to do - can be done. Not wrapped up nice and neat with a bow. Christmas is Easter's, Yesterday. Yesterday never stands alone...

The Herdsmans...

" They were just so all-around awful you could hardly believe they were real. Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude Ollie and Gladys - six skinny, stringy-haired kids all alike except for being different sizes and having different black-and-blue places where they had clonked each other."

If you have read Beverly Cleary's masterpiece, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, you would recognize the Herdsman ANYWHERE. This is one of my time fave books ever, right up there with Walter, The Farting Dog - but that is for another holiday so when I found them living next door to my grandkids, I felt both excited and a sense of dread. It would be a long time before there would be any sort of interaction between the kids but this fall - it happened.

M, aka Imogene is now in second grade with Keaton. One of his friends comes home with him several times a week while his mommy is working and somehow, it felt right to TRY letting the kids play together. Now before all this took place - Imogene had been over, lots. Lots and lots and lots of door ringing.

"Can Keaton play? She did this forever, never taking no for an answer. I guess it finally paid off. I can only imagine she saw this as a victory of sorts.

"As far as anyone could tell, Imognene was just like the rest of the Herdsman. She never learned anything either, except dirty words and secrets about everybody".

One day Keaton tells me, I know what a child molester is! There had been issues in their community but in my heart, I knew who had shared this tidbit with him - Imogene.

Soon, her older sister and brother were coming over too. I was about as nervous as a - well, I was very nervous - still am. At Halloween, I saw how they operated as a team and they could wipe out a bowl of halloween goodies in no time. You just get a sense being around them.

They are worldly - way pass my grandkids. The first time I met Imogene, I felt like I was meeting a rival on my level. She still gives me that feeling everytime I am around her.

My favorite Story happened a few weeks ago. The kids are feeling quite comfy now, and ask for snacks all the time. They will send in Keaton and Gage to do asking but the original thought is coming from Imogene and Ollie.

That day, my daughter hears Imogene yelling, "Hey , can we get some snacks out here!"

In true herdsman style, I knew we had arrived. To their credit, they are nice to the boys and that is why they get to come over. Their family life is as a true Herdsmans and their survivor skills come as a result of that - that , I can so identify with.

" But as far as I'm concerned, Mary is always going to look a lot like Imogene Herdman - sort of nervous and bewildered, but ready to clobber anyone who lays a hand on her baby. And the Wise Men are always going to be Leroy and his brothers, bearing ham."

The Story of the birth of Jesus hasn't never been told so eloquently as this one. It is a Story about who we are and what we are willing to believe. I always knew it had to be a real Story. One thing I have always wanted to do is to see this done on the Big Screen - we can do it now, I found the Herdsmans...

no importance whatsoever versus essential...

What a great weekend! The fab four sure did deliver - from the warm comfort zone of a great Thanksgiving to the milestone of yet another bday and anniversary, we had it all. Black Friday was the day that tested me the most. Showed up at Best Buy at 4AM, an hour before they opened to a line that snaked around the whole building and then some. We stood in line for about 15 minutes until we heard that EVERYTHING was gone. We got back in the car and were home before the doors opened. Disappointed, I took a little nap before heading back to get Brandi and the boys for more shopping. We had a great rest of the day - I was just along for the fun and was not disappointed.

Dh came to pick me up and still wanted to go back to Best Buy. I was still a little mad at them but not TOO mad. So we walk in at 535PM and one of the items I wanted, a digital picture frame, was just sitting there on a shelf. Nobody knew why they had one - by rights, they could have sold it many times over but there it was, waiting for me. As I shared my find with one of the clerks, he said he had in in THAT line. He got there at 4PM Thanksgiving Day and was number 6 in line. I started not to feel so mad anymore. There was NO WAY I would have giving up my Thanksgiving time to wait in line for anything...Perspective started to come back and my mind stared to clear.

Earlier in the day, we saw this nicely dressed older woman holding her Shop At Kmart sign in one hand and waving to all of us with her other. Kmart is about 6 or 7 miles from where she was walking about but at busy intersection with a great mall. I couldn't imagine why she would be doing it and I felt bad for her. I wondered if she felt desperate or was embarrassed. I hoped at least one person made the trek to Kmart because of her although if I was a betting woman - I would doubt it. How did we get to this point? Both of us in our own ways looking for a little perspective.

Today is Cyber Monday - it is suppose to be the biggest on line shopping day of the year. When you're a digi scrapper, Everyday is a potential cyber day but I get the idea. I have changed my philosopy of Black Friday - there will be no more shopping for specific items, no getting up at 300am to be the 2500 person in line and no expectations. Will be leaving those at home but what I will take with me is the idea of a fun day with family and the start of the holiday season. More about hearing the Salvation Army bell ringing and less about what is in my bag as I rush pass the red kettle to my overflowing car...God bless us, each one...

the Fab 4...

This is my favorite week of the year and Wednesday is my favorite day of this week. For the 25 years that I worked, I always had Wednesday off to get ready for Thanksgiving. For many years, Thankgiving was at my house and I did most of the cooking. Since the kids got married and the grandbabies came along, our holiday is now shared at the other grandma's house. It is a wonderful time - they have an extended family and we are treated just like we were one of them. It is a great day of food & fun...I look forward to it every year.

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, My 55th birthday and my 35th wedding anniversary. Four days of celebration - each with their own significance. After stuffing ourselves with turkey and pumpkin pie, we need to go home and sleep fast so we can be at Best Buy by 5am on Friday. Later in the day, I will pick up Brandi and the kids and we will head out for more shopping. Saturday, on my official pension bday, we are taking everybody to see the Festival of Trees with the real-life storybook characters and themed Christmas trees. Someone asked me what we were going to do for our anniversary on Sunday. We both think we are so lucky to have someone to share an anniversary with that the doing is in the having. Dh has to work Sunday evening so our fabulous four days will wind down and life will get back to normal.

The next few weeks will be a blur. It will be a time of rejoicing, celebration and sometimes, dread. The mixture of bright-eyed wonder and the didIbuycreamcheeseforthecelery?moments that keep our brains from shutting down at night. Whether I have been naughty or nice is secondary to doIhaveenoughwrappingpaper?

I am going to keep my I Believe in Yesterday close.

I am going to embrace the parts of Christmas that nourish me.

I am going to remember that because of a teenage girl saying yes, I believe.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. May you and yours share a time of laughter, a time to be together and a time to be greatful, see you zalaine.

sir Paul...

DH and I love the Beatles. Maybe it is Paul that we love. We picked up his The Space Within Us concert at Costco Saturday and looked forward to getting home and having us a Pennylane hoedown. Beyond the music, this is great study of our culture and values. Where else could you see Billy Joel, Jack Nicholson and Bill Clinton in one place on the same emotional page? Bono, John Cusack and Clint Black. Wrap your head around James Taylor and Tony Bennett being in the audience jamming to the beat. In between concert footage, there are explanations from professors and politicians trying to explain the over 40 years of sir Paul's influence on us. I was amazed by the younger people who knew every word of his songs. He transcends generations and continents. There is footage of 3 generations of families dancing, crying and grooving to the beat. He is an icon not only to my generation but my grandkids - that is quite a legacy.

We walked into church Sunday morning to a flurry of activity. For the first time in over 10 years the set up crew forgot to - set up. There were 3 pastors that had been putting up almost 500 chairs and when we walked in 15 minutes before the service is suppose to start, they were still hustling to get the last 50 chairs in place. While they scurried about, I grabbed my camera to get the shot. They finished in plenty of time and no one was the wiser and I knew I had my first sir Paul layout. For me, it is the perfect marriage of the visual and the written - words that have stayed with me for 40 years to the visuals of today. I plan to scrap sir Paul's lyrics as the photos come.

The idea began to grow as the service progressed and as I doodled in my journal with song lyrics running thru my head, my Christmas theme became clear. I Believe in Yesterday.

The Jesus of my Yesterday is the reason I am where I am today.
What happened over 2000 years ago is why I stand where I do today.
I believe in yesterday and that is why I stand where I do today.

I have a few more days of my personal Thanksgiving season - Christmas is knocking hard on my door, hard and fast. I want to spend these last few days wrapped in gratitude and content in spirit. I love this Thanksgiving week. It is short week, kids are out of school and our minds are on turkey and mashed pototoes. All is good with the world and we want to enjoy the last hurrah of autumn before Black Friday. I have pockets of time to just be because we all know that, tomorrow may rain but I'll follow the Son...


To get most of the places I need to - I have to cross a set of railroad tracks. Soon we will have a overpass and a new way to play beat the train but for now, the train and part of my town are usually at odds. My DH tells me that there is a 15 minute time limit that the train can block a railroad crossing but I'm not sure I believe him. And, if there is, who are you going to call, the train police? So, over the years, I have trained myself to adjust.

Last Sunday, I was first in line waiting for what turned out to be a 8 minute train - so with my music cranked I started my usual train graffiti watching. While I don't condone tagging on things that don't belong to you, I have got to say I can't help but feel that some of the graffiti is pretty cool. This morning, I was in for a real treat.

Never give up - in a child's curvise handwriting with a stickperson's face and a stickperson's gun held to the head. Wonder if anyone else has ever seen this and if it changed their life. the other one I noticed was, SOBER, written in big bubble letters. I thinking, there is a Story I would sure like to know. I can only draw my own conclusions and those make me smile.

As I'm watching this, Mc Hammer's U Can't Touch This, is playing in the background. I imagine that is is pretty much how God told the devil to back off in Job. My thoughts are racing thru my head and the music is pounding my ears, In short order, the train is gone and I was free to go.

By the time I reached the church's parking lot, I felt like I had already been. Everything that I would hear at church today would run thru the graffiti filter and be seen in new way. A Road Less Taken, less popular but maybe - just maybe, another piece of the Puzzle.

So here I am today. There is something new to learn. I want to be kicking on all cylinders - I don't want to miss a moment of life's graffiti whether on a train, in the eyes of a stranger or the lyrics of a song. Never Give up - sober words for everyday...


While this may look like our Christmas 2006 Christmas Card, it really was yesterday's bday celebration of one of our own and someone said, "Hey, let's grab the Christmas hats that are for sale in the gift shop AND ask the clerk to take our picture!" Each lady picked out their own so you get a taste of our diverse personalities. I was going for The Christmas Story look...

I had a great day of women. I ran into the Birthday Girl at the grand opening of our town's Old Navy. Ran a couple doors down to Target and ran into another of my girl homies. Although there is almost 20 years difference in our age, we are way more alike than not. We talked about how uncomfortable we are with women our own age and I told her about the greatest advice I had been giving about girlfriends from another good friend years ago - Gear down 10 years. That little bit of advice changed my life. Homy Girl thought 20 years would be a better fit and in our cases, she is absolutely right. Birthday Girl called Homy Girl while we were talking so I met up with her again. I left with a big grin on my face, thanking God for these great women.

Homy Girl had told me about these earphones at Ross so I ran to the other side of town to see if they still had any. I was standing in line behind a woman close to my age. She had a very formal angel statue and here I am with my full size headset for my Ipod. I grinned again - it just confirmed what I already knew. The lady and I chatted about credit card fraud out to our cars and went our merry ways. I can just about guarantee that she wouldn't need nor understand the need for the earphones and if I was a betting woman - might think that an Ipod was a organic vegetable.

I got all my shopping done and headed for the Birthday Party. For a couple hours, we talked about everything under the sun. We all know each other and picked up conversations where we had left off. We ate, laughed and scheduled our next digi scrap nite. As I got into my car to head home, I felt a saturation of Love. I learned some things, got loved and it wasn't even my birthday! The power of a girlfriend is a powerful thing, I am a lucky girl...

day and night - part 2...

It was 430PM when we walked in thru the entrance for the consession workers the other night. Like when you go to vote, they had to check our names off the list for the school we were working for that night. As we walked around the center to get to our booth, they were in the middle of a sound check. The music was cool and I thought about all those empty seat that would be filled and rocking in just a few. I was so concious of the quiet now, that would soon, no longer be. I did a mental sweep of the room and said a little prayer for each seat and whoever would be occupying them in a bit.

Later on, when we had our break and did another walk through - there was the crowd that I had thought about almost 6 hours earlier. They were the happiest crowd I had ever seen. They were on their feet, waving and clapping - total contentment of the moment. It felt like a sauna in there but for most of them, they had waited a lifetime and weren't leaving now. Nothing could get them out of their seats, nothing.

Tuesday was a great day - my girl, Bianca Ryan came out with my Song, And I'm Telling You I'm not Going. Ever since I heard her sing this, I knew it was The Song. It will direct me for the rest of my life.

And I'm telling you
I'm not going
You're the best friend
I'll ever known
There is no way I could ever go
There is no way I am living without you

You see, there is a world of difference between an empty concert hall with empty seats and a place where the seats are full and people are lined up all along the wall. It is like the difference between having and not having God in your life. It's visual I will not soon forget. I have lived both ways and I know what I want and how to get it. Do yourself a favor and listen to the 30 second clip on ITunes - better yet, treat yourself to a 99 cent piece of iconic melody that will make your spirit s0ar.

I'm not living without you
I don't wanted to be free
I'm staying, I'm Staying, I'm STAYING
and You're going to Love me...

day and night...

You can't imagine how happy you can be to work at a concession stand while The Stones are singing Jumping Jack Flash in the background or counting the cash drawer to Honky Tonk Woman.

What a night! I could not have had a better time if I had bought a gazillion dollar ticket. In fact, I wouldn't have missed the opportunity to see their happy faces for anything. There were several times during the night that because I couldn't have a camera, I took visual pics that will stay on my brain's harddrive forever. One couple were dressed to the nines in their RS gear complete with flashing red lips and fancy hat gear. There were a stunning visual to an incredible event. I haven't seen that much gray and tie dye in long time. Maybe it was the advanced age of the crowd but they were an enthusiatic, happy and ready to party crowd.

After five hours of seeing hundreds of people, I saw no one I knew. People came from everywhere. One man had just flown in from New York, just for the concert. One of the little gals at the concession stand knew people flying in from Virginia. We worked our tails off making sure these guys had adequate refreshments but we walked away with a different kind of happy.

For a while, it looked like the concert may not happen. Mick Jagger had been having throat issues and then last Saturday, his father passed away. Our stop was one of the last ones but I wonder how you make yourself keep going and especially for Nampa, Idaho.

I was happy all evening for this crowd. They were ready to rock and roll and when the Stones hit the stage at 920PM, it almost brought tears to my eyes because you could feel their excitement. I didn't need to see what I could feel.

Sometimes, just listening is enough.
Sometimes, just listening is way more than enough.
Sometimes, just listening is better.

As we walked around on our break, we got pretty close to the side of the stage. I could see Jagger's face and that was all I needed. I got to hear the whole concert as I happily worked. I think I am concession stand material. I learned something from this crowd. Sometimes you just can't help but be happy...This morning, their Stories are still going thru my head. Life is good.

nursing home gift drive...

It's that time of year again and actually one of my favorites. You now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday and much More is just around the corner when the nursing homes start to post Christmas wish list in the local paper. I have followed these list for years as a study of sorts. There are usually 3 or 4 lists from assorted homes in our area and there never appears to be any lack of those who answer the call. Yes, Christmas is about the kids but as one who is getting closer and closer to this nursing home age, this speaks to me.

These list read like a virtual history of someone's life. You can tell alot by just listening to what you read about each one. They are described with a number, a m/f status, sizes if needed and a few things on their Wish List. I can only imagine what it must be like when they are interviewing the Ladies and Gentleman trying to get this vital information. There is little modesty here - they have to give exact sizes or the gift wouldn't be of any use to them. This is the generation that protects its privacy above all else. Their finances are off limits, even to the children and there is a general distrust with this generation - they have see too much and it is diffcult for them to catch up. Wait till the Baby Boomers hit the homes - WiFi in every room, IPods on every nite stand and peace, baby...

Starting with Mr 39. Electric razor, CD's Hank Williams Jr and Johnny Cash. Now there is a real man. I have gotta to find him a woman. Maybe Miss 10. She wants a cd head set and a red and black dress, size 22. Can't you just see these two on the dining room dance floor at the end of the day, dancing cheek to cheek with Johnny Cash singing quietly in the background thru the cd player.

I am also on the look out for Mr 42. He is desiring Shorts-szL, a tie and a case of Pepsi. Am thinking he may do well with Miss 104 - all she wants is Chocolate candy and a food basket. Together, they could have a great little feast.

A lot of ladies ask for perfume, some things never change. Sweat pants are a popular item as are warm lap blankets. Slippers, lotion and electric razors round the top ten requests. There are 113 people on this particular list, 86 are women, leaving 27 men to find their way through this girl maze. I bet they do just fine.

I say a prayer for each one. For where they are now. They are now at their final physical location on this earthly journey. They bring a lifetime of memories and experiences with them. I would like to know Miss 18's Story. Any women who is brave enough to ask for a 42C sports bra and stretch cotton pants 26/28, has a Story to tell.

This is one of my Thanksgiving traditions. I so look forward to it. May Mr and Miss 1-113 be blessed this year and may all their Christmas wishes come true...

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...

Humpty Dumpty had a great Fall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty
together again.

Had My Dumpty been anything other than an egg, what would his life have looked like?
Would he have gone on to be Somebody with importance?
Apparently he had some kind of connection with the King - his men tried to save him.
I can't imagine that the king's men and horses just happen to be going by when Humpty fell!
In the pictures I have seen, he wasn't dressed like someone representing a king.
In fact, he looked a little silly in that suit.
And if he was so fragile, why was he sitting on a wall so high off the ground?

The reality is Humpty's Story sounds a little like mine.
Like me, while I may not be an egg, I am fragile.
And like Humpty, I am surrounded by the King's men and horses.
I have and continue to things that seem as troubling as sitting high up on walls.

Things that can hurt me.
Things that will hurt me.
Things that even the king's men can't help me with.

Its a children's Story, one we all know. Whether is because we have heard it a million times or lived it once, it is familiar. We all run to things familiar. The safe, comfortable place to land within ourselves. I wish the Story had turned out better for Mr Humpty, but his Story gives me hope, that it will turn out different for me...

one on one...

It was a dark and rainy day. School was out for parent-teacher conferences and we needed to get out. We grabbed the boys and Miss M and headed for the mall. It was their idea to go but we didn't get to the Disney store or Mrs Field's fast enough so as we were passing thru Dillard's, Gage gave the drama queen performance of his life and then, Keaton. I laughed and grabbed my camera while mommy was horrified. Miss M was safely strapped in her stroller or she would have been right in the middle of them.

The mall outing was a success and we finally made our way to everywhere we wanted to go and a few more. It was time to head home. Later that evening, Keaton would get his first report card of the year and hear his teacher's comments via his mommy and daddy. I will hear this morning how it went but I already have a good idea of what she thinks - we've talked and she loves him.

Quite a change from last year when he had the worstteacherinthehistoryoftheworldever. He has taken some time for him to feel worthy again. This new teacher knows what he went through and has given him what he needed to build back some confidence. He loves his teacher this year and is not the same kid. That is what one on one does for you.

Whether big person or small, we all thrive on, one on one attention. There is something about that smallness of community that we grow and develop. It doesn't have to be an on-going relationship. For the last nine years, since I have been home, most of my time has been learning to be in the moment. Being aware and learning to focus has brought me many encounters that I would never have seen before. Some have been lasting and some, very fleeting. DH and I were talking about this the other day and I told him if it ended today, I would still be the luckiest girl ever to have experienced what I have. You don't have to be a teacher or a people lover, you just have to be available.

I love Mrs C for what she has done for Keaton. I love to see Keaton spread that love to others like he does. Whatever comes our way today, may be be able to show that Love, one on one...

religion and politics...

It used to be a big no - no to talk about these two in the same arena. It is apparent these days - that ship has sailed. The country made a big shift this week and if you can believe the powers of the airwaves, it was more about voting against something than for something. Two years ago, the red states showed up ready, dressed for battle. This year, it appears that either the reds changed their minds or the blues did the dressing up during these mid-term elections. The days of the old school way of seperating religion and politics appears to be dead and no more so than tuesday's election night.

In Harold Ford's Jr concession speech Tuesday night, he kindly thanked all those who had helped him. His humble way made you think the country had really lost out on a chance to have this man represent us in a place where it really counts. As he continued his speech, he treaded into territory that I have not seen debated to death on any network news show. Or at all. He started talking about how Eph 6-12 had been a part of his everyday campaign, This is not a love everybody kind of scripture and one certainly you would not expect to hear in a concession speech.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

My impression was not that he was bitter about the lost - it was a tight race. These piece of His Word has gotten me through many a situation where explanation was not to be found. The explanation was in the Word.

Times that didn't make any sense.
Times that did make sense
Times when I forgot about the Big Picture...

I am not a political person but I am a Big Picture watcher. There is no agenda that I would ever march with but I am a people watcher. My personal opinion is that you have to give up too much to hold public office. Time, values and mold yourself to a Bigger Picture. One that someone might have to wrestle with. One that may cost you more than a 4 year job.

Whether Harold Ford Jr. will be leading Tennessee for the next four years has been settled. What is yet to be determined is whether he understands, he is already a winner in a greater arena. He understands what is important, He has seen the Big Picture and no amount of votes can cloud that vision. For each of us, the question is the same. There are things that we will never see or understand or can explain. Anyone who can comprehend that, is a winner in my book...


It's almost midnight but my day is just starting. DH just left for a late shift and I have had my nap. Yesterday was a long day and the election returns are keeping me company. Our country made a big shift tonight. For so many different reasons, you would be hard pressed to pick just one. In my state, the local news reported at 10PM that there were still people in line waiting to vote and it would be midnight before everyone would be given the opportunity to exercise their right to do so.

I walked into my voting precinct and saw a friend of my daughter's that teaches school there. She told me to come visit when I finished so I stopped by her classroom on my way out and we had a pretty heavy, promptu conversation. She is dealing with her mom whose dementia is exploding and has to be dealt with. She didn't think she would find herself in this position ...yet. We talked, she shed a few tears and it was moment that was meant to be. I don't think it had much to do with voting - sometimes there is More.

My personal Thanksgiving starts the morning after Halloween and last until midnight Thanksgiving Day. I take these few weeks to look back over the year and be in those moments with a heart of gratitude. It's about getting grounded before heading into the crazyness of Christmas - I don't want to forget what is important.

Today, it was about living in country where you are free to exercise your right to vote without fear. To live in this great country with those who think like you do and those who don't. People will come and go, policies will come and go - it is the cycle of life. Politics have no effect on God. They never have. He works thru kings and paupers, friend and foe and blue and red states.

My Thankgiving continues. It is state of mind that I so look forward to every year. The colors of autumn, the crispness in the air and thankfulness that seems a little clearer for these few short weeks are more that enough for me to be still and know...

nana's house...

We moved here almost 7 years ago. The house we were living in was big and the yard was bigger. One thing we aren't is yard people. When we put the house up for sale in September, little did I know that by the time we actually moved late January, I would be a nana in seven months.

This is the only house my gkids have known. This is the house we have baked cookies, made crafts, opened presents, had sleepovers and sing karoake. It is a little house but the kids don't care. They have their own room. They come in the house most every Sunday after church and head for their room while I get lunch ready. Keaton and Gage have taught Miss M the ropes and even at 19 months, she knows what is what. We take turnings setting next to each other at lunch. Depending on whether poppa is there, usually one of the boys sits by each of us and Miss M who just graduated to sitting at the table - out of the cursed high chair, happily eating, chatting and trying to figure out what we are going to do after lunch.

These are precious times. The memories that have been made here are strong and rooted. When we talk about about moving, closer to the kids, Gage has a stinky fit. He hate change and the idea of us moving even closer to him doesn't have a chance to sink in because he has his superhero boxers all twisted up in a knot, thinking about the change. These kids feel the Love that surrounds them as soon as they walk up the step to nana's house and when that door opens and the hugs come, they accept the lavish attention they know is coming before heading off to play.

This is a glimpse of what I feel in the presence of God.
This is the way I can best usher my gkids toward the Love of God.
This is how I learn to share Him with others.

There is always change involved with God. God doesn't change but we do. As we learn to trust Him more, we change from the inside out. Our lives start to look different and we start to act differently. Those around us may or may not see the change or they may or may not recognize it.

The kids know Love when they come to nana. Nana knows Love when she comes God. It is the trickling down effect that knows no end...where it stops, nobody know...

Lottery - winning Big Time...

If you live in my state and you win more than $700 you can't pick up your winnings at the local store where you purchased your ticket - you need to present in person at the state lottery commission. Here's the deal - the lottery commission is tied to the Department of Health and Welfare and the State Tax Commission - so if you owe either back child support or state tax, you are in for a rude awakening. Not only will those back payments be taken out before you receive any monies but if you owe more than you have won - you still have to pay taxes on the newfound wealth of yours. It could cost you Big Time to win the lotto...

This information could not make me happier. The superhero in me sports a big grin just thinking about it. In a world where fairness seems to be elusive at times, this little bit of information reminds me, it is still about the little things. It also reminds me that those same rules apply to me too.

Unfairness is a fact of life. It is a part of life. There are always going to be people prettier, skinnier, smarter, funnier, wealthier and more creative than me. There are also going to be people uglier, fatter, dumber, poorer and less creative than me.

So What?

How does that apply to me?
How does that affect what I do?
How does that affect how I act?

My hope is that I keep pressing on. To understand life as it has been given to me. To weave into my life, a general sense that fairness or the lack of, is a normal part of life's process and that I can choose to be happy with myself, no matter what. Not when I lose 20 pounds or have more money in savings or am nicer than my neighbor. To learn to be content with myself no matter what Tom, Dick or Harry are doing. I truly believe if we could accept ourselves with more compassion, it would play out in our everyday lives. Learning to be happy with my self, now that would be winning the Big Time...

the faith of pain...

Early summer. I started having back pain. First a little, later a lot. It had radiated up and down and was at times, unbearable. After three months of pain, I finally broke down and went to the doctor.

I don't go to the doctor - haven't been in five years. Have been to the quick care twice for strep throat but in and out, just there for that prescription pad. This was different. This was pain I couldn't out run.

That is the relationship that physical pain and I have. I try to out run it until It finally gives up and goes away. May not be the most productive system but works for us. I had myself convinced, really convinced, that I was a goner. When I finally mustered up the guts to make the appointment, I had somewhat come to terms with what I had to face. Mind you, this was all self-diagnoised.

The nice doctor said - "You are spend too much time in your computer chair. Ice the area and take Advil - come back in a month if its isn't gone". See, even he was giving me some extra time to prepare for my clear end. The pain did not get better over the next 5 weeks and I was forced to go back. I came prepared, just give it to me straight, doc - I almost chickened out a few hours before I went to my appointment but went I did.

He poked around and was able to make me jump directly straight up. He thinks it is the same problem, just needs to be addressed more aggresively. I ask if he is pretty sure it was nothing else - he is pretty sure. " Take these pills for 7 days, you should have some relief after 3 or 4 days". A nice way of letting me down easy. That was 3 pills ago. Last night, I slept all night - the pain was almost gone, gone enough that the nightly ice pack was not to be.

As I woke up this morning, I realized that I had not made use of my 365 Do Not Fear's that are available to me. My prayers were honest and mainly about walking thru, being able to endure and thankful. I prayed for the pain but forgot about the fear. I operated on my faith of pain and allowed the fear to blind my way. Pain is a great motivator. We all have a different tolerance of pain and maybe fear too. On some kind of sliding scale, we are motivated by the One who yells the loudest.

It has been a experience that I will come to cherish.

I am not proud of how I acted or reacted.
I am not proud of what I forgot I already knew
I am not proud of wasting so much time.

And yet, I am so thankful for another lesson learned.
I am so thankful that I can pick myself up and keep walking
And I am especially thankful, for my God staying with me. What a lucky girl I truly am...


If music is part of your DNA, on the first note, you are hooked. Music is the epitome of Instant Gratification. Even if I am on hold waiting for a customer service rep, if the music is right - they can just take their sweet time. Music can lift your mood, bring a time instantly to mind and give you hope, that your memory has not completely left you. A song can transport you back to a time that your brain could never access by itself. I have long given up memorization but bring on a Beatles song from 1965 and I can sing every verse by heart.

I have my own personal hymnal. You won't find the usual hymns associated with a bound spiritual book. On the inside cover the first song is the one going on in my life, now. It is a revolving page, ready to be switched out in a moment's notice. For a long time now, it has been, Bianca Ryan's, And I Tell You, I'm Not Going. She has a CD coming out in a little more than a week and I am all over it. The rest of my hymnal are songs that don't know they are about the Trinity. Most were written as human love songs with their real meanings never realized. Bridge Over Troubled Water is the ultimate God love song as is Christina Aguilera's Pray. This collection of songs that I have complied over the years has been my saving grace when no sermon could. They have collectively shown my the love of the Trinity when nothing else was getting thru. Last Sunday the preacher explained that in the Hebrew language, three means - the fullness of testimony. Long before I had gkids, three has been my favorite number. I always pick three when I am watching Deal Or No Deal. There is just something about three. The great thing about the Trinity is that is was never meant to be explained. It is a mystery that was never meant to be solved. G Tersteezen said, " A comprehended God is no God at all". Music is a great reminder to the mind of what life is all about.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow reminds me of heaven. Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc remind me that " I Wouldn't Have Nothing If I Didn't Have You". Paul McCartney's, We Can Work It Out and Buzz and Woody's, You've Got A Friend In Me, echoes the same sentiment. As I cruise thru my ITunes, the library is rich with songs that have meant so much to me at different times of my life.

That has been passed to my gkids. They have a great appreciation of Elvis. Last year I bought the boys Mr Presley's Christmas album and you would have thought I gave a them a lifetime pass to McDonalds. Right now, Gage and I are on a medley of tunes that we sing in the car and pretty much, everywhere we go which includes Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. When Miss M was a baby, she would stop crying when the boys would break into singing TTLS. They mainly did it out of self-preservation and needed very little encouragement to spontanously break into song. Now she sings it along with us. Our favorite song right now, is Keaton's school song. Gage will be so on top of things by the time he gets to kindergarten. We sing it everywhere - stores, restaurants and other places where we are usually told to hush by mommy.

Go CJ, you are the best
Go Appaloosa's, above all the rest
We are the Teal and Black and White.
And we will fight with all our might.

The other day I had one of my Itunes mixs in the car and the Mommas and the Poppas came on and Keaton pipes up, "Hey, that's my kind of music". Maybe it starts as a love for music Later they can choose the songs that will lead them to the Three In One, the fullness of testimony. After all the kids have taught me, I owe them more than I could ever repay but I will give it a try. Go Go Go!


It was about a month ago that it came to mind to do a picture of the day for a year. Where it came from, I haven't a clue but November 1 seemed to be a good starting date and here we are. A friend of mine is going to join me and it will be fun to exchange deep spiritual thoughts next year as to what we learned from this exercise. Going into it, I am expecting not to have an answer until I am looking back. My immdediate goal is to be less ana, and lower my expectations. It is just a picture - there are going to be 365 of them. They are not going to all be Pulitzer Prize winners and some will look out of place as I do my looking back. Right now I am expecting to learn to see more and expect less. I am betting that the experience will be nothing like I imagine. Today, I am ready to go.

I am already changing my rules by using this as my first photo. Taking a few hours before the Nov 1 kick off. It reflects a little bit of my own understanding. If you know Gage, most everything takes lots of thought before making a decision even which sucker to choose. Oficer Gage had a FABulous evening and he is well on his way to a career in law enforcement. He thinks through situations and doesn't react. I feel safe knowing I am protected by one of the finest.

We had a great time at the church's Halloween party, Games, cotton candy, throwing Cool Whip at the pastor - what was not to love? The boys filled their bags with candy and finally, it was time to head home. Miss M was a little overwhelmed by the whole thing and one of us carried her around most of the night.We all left feeling like we had done it all.

Already on to tomorrow picture, I am expecting it will take 60-90 days before it becomes natural and not inmyface thinking. I am looking forward to the experience as a whole. I am excited about what I am going to learn and I am going to learn. What I learn is not up to me - my only responsibility is to see and learn. I'm ready to go...

All Hallow's Eve...

After 2 1/2 hours of crafts, snacks and play - it was time for the Spotlight Show. As Miss Shelli called them up, they marched up the steps, showed their moves, twirled so you could see the BACK of their costumes as we watched in awe. Stories you ordinarily don't get to hear. Not only did Batman make an appearance but the Tooth Fairy, several Princesses and a Professional Bull Rider were also present. If the rest of the class were like Batman, they were asleep before making the short trip home.

It doesn't get much better than cheese and crackers, halloween M&M's and candy corn cookies while wearing a costume of choice. For them, it really is about dressing up and the CANDY. Tonight is will be all about the candy. It is going to be bone-chilling cold here and we are going to be inside at the church's Trunk or Treat. Being raised in Southern California, we never had to worry about weather or wearing a coat. Those were simpler days.

Halloween is the second fastest growing holiday, according to retailers. In 2006, we will spend 4.96 billion dollars on Halloween. There is a home in my subdivision that has orange Christmas lights. I actually thought that as I drove by the first time - what a dork! but there is a darker side to this candy-giving holiday. The news now recommends taking all your child's candy to local hospitals to be xrayed before letting then handle their stash. Operation Lights Out is a desperate attempt to protect children from sex offenders who are required by law, to turn their porch lights out. I always say it is not those who are registered that I am worried about.

Growing up in an athesist home, there was not a sense of anything evil associated with Oct 31. My sister and I were always "hobos" and my dad would ride a bicycle as we hit as many houses as we could before he decided he had enough. It was the only time I ever saw him on a bike so it was somewhat of a sacrifice on his part. We would go home and he would lay out our bounty, take all the full size candy bars and we would get what was left , which was fine with us.

I see Halloween in a different light these days. I now know evil exists, not just on Halloween but everyday and am aware that there are things that will go on today that will be covered by my prayers throughout the day. There are battles that go on that have nothing to do with us, Today, my pretend gun and Hummer would be no match but my prayers are the most powerful weapons I possess - and I plan to use them.

It's not your mother's Trick or Treat anymore - it's a new world. We have to be more careful and aware. I am thankful that I have Batman on my side. Tonight Batman trades his superhero Black for another kind of superhero. Blue, as a matter of fact. I am spending the evening with a Police Officer, Snow White and the Wolverine. Looks like Snow White will be well protected - I am just around for the ride...


Saturday was the last soccer game of the season. The lack of interest from parents and the coach was obvious to us, fortunately - the kids didn't seem to notice. My grandkids are the luckiest kids in the world. They have 2 sets of grandparents that adore them. Somebody always shows up for the kids - the poppas have their work schedules and we all work around them but these kids know the best of both worlds. The love they are showered with is obvious to even strangers. It is like they have their own little fan clubs.

Both poppas are called"poppa". Both poppas are Steves. If they want my poppa, they call him, Nana's Poppa - the other poppa is Sue's poppa. You can believe how well this system works. We are together every holiday, birthday and it is a wonderful thing. I can only imagine having this kind of love and support.

Poppa and Grandma Sue take them tailgating and to football games - Poppa and Nana take them to the Pumpkin Festival. Grandma Sue takes them to the movies and Nana takes them for ice cream and cokes. Sue's poppa throws a ball with them and Nana's poppa teaches them how to draw Goofy. Grandma teaches them the names of the presidents and Nana downloads music for them. Between the two families, they know about Elvis, Mighty Mouse and The Three Stooges. They are lavished with love, graced with gifts and most importantly, they know, really know they are loved completely. They have the security of a love that they never question and know, is always available.

Keaton, Gage and Morgan - we love you infinity... May you know that the love you feel from us someday, lead you to the overwhelming Love that God has for each of you. No greater gift could we give and for you guys, its always about giving you our very best...