Simply, Christmas...



I was reminded in the last few days how simple Christmas really is. A little meltdown and then a chance to scrap Miss M - takes me where I need to go for the next few days. It is simply, Christmas...

Merry Christmas...



I wish you and yours the Merriest of Christmas's this year. It is the only one you have so enjoy it fully and experience it wholly. Find a child and purpose to find Christmas in their eyes. You will find yourself unable to stop smiling.

This has been quite a year. I remember being snowed in most of January, DD would need to take the only snow-reliable vehicle to go to the only job that supported us. I gladly stayed in and started to get a bit antsy toward the February but with the death of DH's father, February would be anything but quiet.

Completely unrelated to that event, we found ourselves with our mortgage being paid off by a good friend. For us, 2009 had come in with a whirlwind of emotions and little did we know - it wasn't over. There is a good reason that Time magazine couldn't come up with an alternative to compete with naming Barack Obama as Person of the Year. It was Something we never really could wrap our minds around until Obama walked out on the stage Election night. You could help but be moved, and I think I realized we had turned some kind of culture corner. As Jay Leno would say later in the year, It is a young man's game. If our country had a theme this year, I think I would chose this one.

My babies grew not only older but much wiser. Their parents have grown by leaps and bounds too. Sometimes, you just get It and this year was their year. For me, it was all about learning that Everything Is Spiritual. I am looking thru a whole different lens than before. With the last quarter of this year, it certainly has brought a whole new meaning to life.

Tuesday was J and my Annual Christmas shopping day,. We take a List and conquer. She had not been in the new Forever 21 store at the Mall but so we cruised thru and took in a gob of sparkly. Very hip, very chic - rooms painted black and mirrors everywhere. I picked up a few things and she noticed that the shopping bags had John3:16 printed on them. The sales girl didn't know why. Imagine that.

As for me - creativity has became more real, letting the unimportant roll off my back has become easier to do and I learned just to be all I can be on any given day, no matter what that looks like. Sick on the couch - great. Wondering around Walmart and running into Jesus in the form of a crazily - dressed and coiffed woman talking about ice cream - great. With 2008 rapidly ending in a sea of the unknown, I am ready to be all I can be, knowing that that doesn't mean what I think it means...and I won't until I need to but I know where to look for my Comfort and Joy and that is all I need.

Carry the next few days in your heart and treasure the times you have with those you love. Be silly, sing out loud and allow yourself to be a kid, Somewhere this Christmas season. You are precious to me and I wish you the best Christmas ever - not about what you give or get but about your heart overflowing with what you have and that you have an abundance of tears, tears of joy. Merry Christmas, love zalaine.

ps See you Jan 5...

nothing quite says Christmas like a...



class action lawsuit. If you have never been a part of one, at first glance - it would seem to be just another piece of junk mail but because I had this same experience abut 14 years ago, I now know better. About $9000 better.

It starts with a official looking piece of mail with your name written on it. A bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo on a few pieces of paper basically telling you that Someone filed a lawsuit and you are just along for the ride. The first time I decided if if it was real, which I was convinced - it was not, I would be happy with pizza money. It had to do with my employer at the time and the unfair pay practices toward women and without lifting a finger, I walked away with a little over $9000. This time it is our life insurance company and there is no way it can be any more than pizza money, yet I can't help but being excited to watch the mail for the next few months.

On December 24, 2008 at 10:00AM, the Court will hold a Final Settlement Hearing... Well, Merry Christmas Eve to all us settlement owners and thanks to Nicholas Papadakis for making it all possible. It reminds me of what my online pastor, Pastor Pete says about what his church really believes, Everyone's welcome, nobody's perfect and anything's possible.. In one of the great sermons ever preached - in the words of Anne Lamott, Me Too...

Dec 26...



As I go through this Christmas season 2008, I have this nagging theme running in the background -Dec 26. I usually think about how January will effect the country's checkbook and how it should be known as the Mac & Cheese month because that is about all anyone can afford after paying their December credit cards but this is different. It's not about Christmas - that is the least of my worries this year.

Everywhere I go or anyone I ask who works in retail says shopping is brisk. The news tells me that sales and extra giving are down so not sure what I am seeing. Maybe people think they are going to lose their jobs in 2009 and they might as well go out with a bang. Maybe they already have a date with an attorney to file bankruptcy papers and it is their last hurrah. makes me wonder what Christmas 2009 will look like. My wish is that I am doing Life smarter. Will have to wait and see.

After all the presents are open and the sparkly is a little less so, the reality of our times will not have the protection of Santa and peppermint cocoa. Cofort and joy will no longer be available. There are hard times coming and Christmas lights will not be around to set off our holiday endorphins. It will be cold and harsh, just like the winter weather outside. We will need to draw Life from another source. The one who makes December 25, possible and December 26, bearable.

Life is going to get tough from some, tougher than they could eve imagine.Tougher than they think they can endure. God gives us what we need when we need it. There is no stockpiling in God's world - it is one step at a time. The only thing you can do is be ready for your own personal, When Not If. You learn to stand your ground in Christ, no matter what the state of the economy or job, is doing. Whether when comes today or 50 years from now - It won't matter. You are ready because you know where to go when your December 26 comes...

Nick Vijicic

http://www.charliephillips.net/Video/Theater3/NickVujicic/tabid/866/Default.aspx

What has made me fall down and convinced that I can't get back up? What struggle or thoughts feel like, they are fatal? Nick's life is extreme, mine may not be as BIG as his but in God's eyes, it doesn't matter. It's all about Him, it always is. Thanks Izzy...

wisdom...



I think wisdom comes naturally with age. After accumulating a lot of life experience, it becomes as part of you. Whether one decides to use it for good or evil is the true question. I come from a long line of evil-wisdom doers and witnessed a gob more who decided to squander theirs So you might think I wouldn't have the stomach for wisdom and its doers but if anything, I feel the opposite.

It's not about how wild you or your oats were as you came up the Age Rank. The learning is in the doing, the time for wisdom is when from a vantage point of wrinkles and time to ponder, you take all of that and use it for good. Not downplaying the bad but being honest about where the bad took you. Old age does not give you an automatic license for respect for your Story.

I have non-existent pool of old familiars to turn to for wisdom. Ok, none - unless you count Yoda or Charlie Brown but from those related to me, I am fresh out of luck but what I did do is turn the bad I did learn from them, into wisdom for me. I learned from their choice to turn their backs on the wisdom that they had accumulated, that was rightfully theirs and decided to throw out with the trash. I took home this scene and vowed, not to make the same mistake.

Different ones, for sure. I bet DD could give you a few pages of things, I could have done better. I have apoligized to her. I had no parental education to draw from. I thought love was enough, Given the chance, I would do things differentally but hindsight is the great Told You So and should be listened to in small doses.

So I ran across this book last week - loved the photography and the words. We could all use a little bit of good human wisdom, now and again. The kind we can learn from, the kind that will let us soak up a bit, maybe for now, maybe for later and the kind of wisdom that Someday will allow us to share with those God has entrusted us with so years from now, they will share with theirs...

nothing says Christmas like Charlie Brown...



No matter what the economy or the state of the automakers may be, the one thing you can always count on at this time of a the year is Charlie Brown is there for the asking. You don't have to buy anything - between primetime TV and YouTube, we are assured that we will always been only a click away from the wonderful characters and the Vince Guaraldi music that instantly takes us to a Place, we are all so familiar with.

Christmas is at it's best when kept simple and it can get our of hand, pretty fast. There are so many wonderful places to get involved but over involvement is a bad place to be whether financial or emotional but keeping one's sanity needs to be right up there with taking cookies to the local nursing home.

Whether Charlie Brown, A Christmas Story, perhaps the greatest holiday movie ever made or maybe Barbara Robinson's book,The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever which is the greatest holiday book ever written - do Something that makes the holiday Real to you. Find Something from your childhood that lights that little light within you and go there for a few minutes. Recapture thru a sensory memory - a favorite candy, smell or tradition, and feel like a kid again if only for a short while.

AFter all these years, I have finally come to realize that for me, there will always be two Christmas's in my seasonal experience and my days of trying to merge the two are over. There is a place for both and if I keep my eyes open, a lot more overlap than anything I could ever invent on my own. While taking photos last weekend and watched the joy in their eyes, this family reminded me of the what is really important at Christmas - being together, happy and healthy. Nothing you could be or see at the Mall - comes close. No matter how great the gifts under the tree maybe, they can't compare with the gift God gave us in the birth of his Son, Nothing. Ever.

This morning I woke up and spent some time with God in a thankful mode. Truly, from the bottom of my heart. It started with a few personal things and then spread out to those around me and then on to those I have don't know. It was just a fabulous way to start my day. Nary a Charlie Brown in sight but a Christmas Moment, nevertheless.

One of the things I was thankful for was today. I get to meet DD, Gage and Morgan at Costco for lunch. A few minutes of pure joy that will keep me smiling all day. Sometimes it doesn't take much. Sometimes, it takes a bit more. After hearing about SCC's visit to Disney World every Christmas on Dec 22, 23 and 24 - I now know, that is where I need to be. If I could ask Santa for anything, it would be a trip to Disney World at Christmas time. To hear the Christmas Story being read from the bible in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, may be the best it gets this side of heaven. I plan to find out someday. I want to live the picture in my house that reads, Imagine never having to imagine. I know I will Someday in heaven - and just like the two parts of Christmas,someday I will get to experience that right here on earth. That will keep me smiling in my heart for longer than any holiday season...

It's a young person's game...



Going to jump off the yuletide train for today and check in on Real Life. Larry Craig will not be allowed to take back his guilty plea, he is just gonna have to suck it up. The governor of Illinois might as well pack his bags because he will be moving to the Big House soon. It is one thing when there is second-hand evidence against you but when that evidence is taking from your own mouth, you're pretty much done.

The biggest news of the day had nothing to do with corruption or injustice. It has to do with one of my personal icons - Television. Jay Leno is not leaving or better said, he may be leaving the Tonight Show but he will still be on 5 days a week and a hour and a half earlier. I have been in a funk contemplating my Tonight Show dilemma. I have watched the TS since the Johnny Carson days. When Jay took over, I was skeptical but he quickly fell in the same groove. Conan O'Brien doesn't. After the TS, I will move on to reruns of Lockup on MSNBC before leaving the tube on channel 7. Nothing personal, but the real test is if Something/Someone makes me laugh. Conan never has.

At the NBC's press conference yesterday, it was a light-hearted exchange of information and confession. I tell you. I think Jeff Zucker and NBC may be the best resource we have to lead this country out of its present state of disgrace. They understand that prime time TV is not working and changes had to be made. By putting Jay Leno in before Conan and guaranteeing at least several hours of comedy each and every week day night and saving money, these guys are economic geniuses. It cost 15M to make one ER(now in its final season), it will cost 2M to do Jay's show. That is a savings of 13M and that is only one show. Lipstick Jungle and My Own Worst Enemy had already been canceled so that freed up two more nights. That only leaves 2 night to rearrange - small potatoes for Jeff Zucker, at this point.

During the new conference, Jay Leno said they told him from the very beginning that they would kick him out when he was at the top of his game, that is the way things are done now. It's a young person's game, he said. I think that has been pretty obvious since the election. Our world is changing and msot of it is going to the young people. Luke Russert shoud be the head of NBC Sports soon. Newspapers are going out of business left and right because they are not the way this new generation in charge, wants to get their info.

It's a young man's game - that is the world we are living in. It is changing daily. That is another branch of the Game. Constant change, immediate gratification by way of the media around us. IMHO, I love it but in my age group, I guess I am in somewhat of a minority. Either, you need to climb aboard or get ready to concede that the world as you knew it - is leaving slowly forever. In the meantime, I am giddy at knowing that I will have a place to go every night to unwind from these changing times and I can't wait...

comfort and joy...



I can't believe how strong the desire to shop is coming and going in my life right now. I am so ready to pull the trigger on most anything that crosses my path. If my Gkids want it, I have to hold myself back. If I see Something that I know any certain Someone would love, I have to walk away. There is such comfort in gift giving. Whether it is ingrained or an addiction, I'm in.

There is no other time of the year where we seek comfort and joy. Everywhere you look, someone is trying to sell you comfort and joy - and I truly believe, it is working. From my mitten-decorated Sonic cup to my snowflake-shaped Ritz crackers, the pull is strong. And constant. It goes after the just and the unjust.

As I looked across the way at church yesterday, I saw a family that I know has lost the only family income. We were all singing Christmas carols but you could see the angst in their faces. They have three little mouths to feed...a mortgage. It is not like there are any jobs in the valley to replace his. There are many, many more - his company closed their doors for good. I don't know what will happen to them.. or all the other thems around our country.

Comfort and joy. We all go through times like this. No comfort or joy to be found. It's easier to have bad times in the summer. Life is somehow easier and there are no summer songs with comfort or joy in them. No pressure, no ads, no snowflake crackers or mailboxes wrapped up like presents. The Christmas season is not for the weak. We need to be at the top of our game, even if all is merry and bright.

If it is true that we learn more in hard times, this Christmas season will leave a slew of soldiers who will come home from battle, better equipped, to handle what comes next. If I could give a gift to each and every person, it would be for everyone to have a few Moments in the next 3 weeks of pure comfort and joy. Right what they need, right where they are - Something that would wrap around them and hug tight. Whether a song, memory or the hope that all is not lost. It might look different that what we thought and it may even be better Down The Road. May Tidings of comfort and joy find a way to you and if you get the chance to share, please do...

cheers and jeers...



I only read two parts of the newspaper - The front section with all the news, opinion and legal pages, then the obituary, community page. The obituary page is cruised first if after the initial sweep of the first page, someone I know is listed on the lower right half in the Death Notices - don't laugh. That is how I found out that DD's grandmother and aunt died - no one called to let us know and I had to break it to him before breakfast but that's a Story for another day.

So, depending on the circumstances of the day - I will finally make my way to the Cheers and Jeers section. This part always leaves me livid. I fundamentally disagree that we need a Jeers section. It is a place where those 20% of crazies show up and agre given their 15 secs of printed fame. This morning was no exception. The Cheer section was good today.

Thank you, Fair City for beautiful Christmas lights.
Thank you, Doctors for taking such good care of my mother.
Thank you, BSU Broncos for a FABulous season.
and Thank you to the nice gentleman who paid for our breakfast at IHOP when we realized they didnt take checks.


The paper asked this year for suggestions and I suggested they change the column to Cheers only. We have enough bad karma going around, letting people vent about the negitive - has no useful purpose. Somefar, the newspaper has not taking my advice seriously and this is why they had to print this jeer today.

Jeers - Again, Jeers to chickens who still cannot keep salmonella out of their eggs. They persist in ruining my eggnog season. Shame on them!

There is so much wrong with that statement - can't say I didn't warn you...

merry and bright...



I have often said one of the worse days in my whole life is finding out that Santa was not real. That may seem immature coming from a grown woman but to this day, I can still recall how hard that Moment hit. I was shattered, my life was over. Santa was not just Santa, he was going to be the One who got me out of this hellhole of a family I

That my father found it necessary to share that on Christmas morning and couldn't wait till the off season, it was only fair that I shared with my sister which got me in Bit Trouble. Didn't care, it was worth every bit of it. That is why it felt and still does, fatal. If there was no Santa, I had no Plan B. He was somehow going to magically scoop me up and take me back with him to the North Pole, where life was not scary, there was always plenty to eat and no one would hurt you. There was no baby Jesus or talk of a manger. We sang Jingle Bells and All I Want For Christmas but there was no singing Away In A Manger or Little Town of Bethlehem. I have no conscious memory of crossing paths with the real Christmas Story. None.

As I was diddling last night, Miss Ali did a digi freebie about "My Favorite Christmas Memory". I couldn't think of one. There are pictures of us girls, lined up with our personal Christmas stashes - posing like all was merry and bright but pictures can lie. I occured to me that my favorite Christmas have been since I have grown up and how I would love to share that with those two. I wanted to let them know that it all turns out alright. I want them to know that the end of Santa is ok. There is Something bigger coming. Have patience, it will take 20 or so years but then it will all make sense. It won't make the pain go away but most of it - you won't care about anymore. Really, I kid you not.

There will come a day when the One who will resque you, will come. This time, it is true. There will not be any disappointment at the end of this rainbow. Christmas will be more than stacking your presents in a pile to keep your sister out of them. There will come a day when you will see how it really is. There will be a Place for you to lay down your head and feel safe. The one who made you will make Himself known and that will be your merry and bright. As Gage says, WAIT for it....
It is well worth waiting for - This Story that is hard to believe yet easy to see. With the Story comes God's eyes that will help you every step of the way. Just keep walking. You'll see...

seeing red...



You may not agree but I think Christmas is 90% emotion and 10% action. While it feels like we are running around every day in December like chickens with our heads cut off, it is only the result of emotions gone astray.

What other event would make a grown woman stay up for nights in a row, making cookies and candy that she makes at no other time. The decorating, cooking, entertaining duties....and then there is the gifts. Something for everyone is what the emotion will tell you and if not careful, you will be sucked in. Having a closet of gifts available for any unforeseen present givers to you and yours, seems almost necessary - just in case.

And on top of everything else, you throw in childhood expectations and you have yourself a full blown emotional ride that will steer you hard and fast into the great Holiday unknown. You will lose your Way and forget everything but the almighty Task List. Emotion drives every aspect of Christmas - the more aware we are, the better we can learn to use emotion for good.

This will be a different Christmas for most of us. We will have more time than money. Instead of concentrating on what we can't give/spend/do - maybe we take that emotion and change the way we think. I have been doing the Jones soda bottle thing for a few years now. Pick out a color, add the kids's Christmas picture and hand them out to family on Christmas Eve. This year, there will be no bottles to hand out. As I was thinking how disappointed I was going to be, I started thinking maybe I could do it for Valentine's Day. maybe start a new tradition. That is a constructive way of using emotion in a more positive way. Disappointment is a part of life, a very real part but sometimes, we recognize that we have the ability to take seeing red and use it to our advantage.

As I go thru the next 22 days and have disappointment come my way, I hope I remember that the light, sounds, smells, music and joy of the Christmas season are but just a emotion away. A cup of peppermint cocoa with Tony Bennett singing in the background may be all I really need...

cake balls...


Cupcake Pops & Bites: Part 2 from bakerella on Vimeo.

Cake Balls
1 box cake mix, any flavor (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can frosting, any flavor (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper, but I like to hand roll them.)
4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

Recipe and video courtesy of Bakerella. Imagine the combinations - Red Velvet/Cream Cheese. Cream cheese frosting and any cake flavor sounds great to me. Make them as simple or fancy as your want. Not just for Christmas but bridal or baby showers, kid's parties and they would make a great gift. On lollipop sticks or on a plate or whatever else you come up with. The cupcake version uses the same recipe but are made by overfilling a candy mold (peanut butter cup)and then dipping the tops and bottoms in different coatings before adding all the decorating goodies. Perhaps a bit time consuming but what a memory maker it could be. I hope you have a baking tradition of some kind in your family. Getting your hands nice and sticky with the ones you love, is a memory worth making...

cyber Monday...



It has been in a some kind of conversation everyday since the sleepover over a week ago. The minute we got back from taking the kids home, he was on his laptop, searching for the Right One. The night before after watching Gage play the guitar, he quietly said, he needs his own.. He didn't hear Gage tell me that his dad had been saying they were going to ask poppa to borrow his electric guitar and amp. It was obvious that this kid was hooked and indirectly, so was his grandfather.

So this morning with a cell phone in one hand and the landline in the other, I was having a conversation with DH and DD. They were in sharp disagreement on the necessity of the guitar. I wanted to put the phones together and let them duke it out but that wasn't going to work. I told poppa I would call him back and finished converstion with DD. She finally relented, not quite sure of poppa's die hard insistance. The other grandparents buy golf clubs, we think being a rock star would be the better choice. I had the Target web site up, ready to pull the trigger throughout all the conversations. Called DH back and said we are good to go - he said, Pull the trigger.

An emotional purchase - you bet. Am I sorry? - not at all. DH doesn't say much but when he does, I pay attention. As soon as he got home, he wanted to know if it was on the way. Yes indeed. Sometimes life is too short to think too much and with a 50% sale and free shipping, it is a small price to pay to make a big boy's Christmas...

unphotographable...

I pulled into the Chevron mini mart Sunday morning and she crossed my path, running thru the parking lot. She came from nowhere and besides the running, the reason I noticed her so quickly is that she was dressed like a caroler from the 1800's. Velvet skirt and cape in a rich burgundy shade - her hair in a bun and she was running, no scurring across the gas station parking lot and she kept going around the building. I couldn't get my camera out fast enough - I was still in shock about what I was seeing. I parked the car as she rounded the building - no car in sight waiting for her. Nothing. She was running in to a subdivision, then she was gone.

It was one of those time you wanted to ask someboyd around you, Did you see that?, There was no one outside to see. All the cashiers and customers were in the store and no one acted like they had seen her or anything unusual.

An early Christmas program? At 8am - not even the 1st of December yet. Like she was running from her world into mine.

Out of place
Out of nowhere
Out of this world.

Where did she come from?
Where was she going?
Who sent her?
Who would greet her?

Why did I see her? What am I to do with this information? Tell you? Remember? Wonder?
We are always looking for signs, seems like this might be one to me. The Lesson?

Always watch,
Always be open.
and always, always...believe.

my favorite things...


It's not Oprah's but it is my list of favorites for this year.

1. Smores cookies - my new favorite cookie. So easy and so worth the time.
2. Bath and Body Works Sweetest, Softest Ever - these slippers are FABulous.
3. Ju Ju purses - a price for everyone, shiny or not. Too cute.
4. Blurb - make your photo books, my latest is the Xmas photo shoot of the Smith's.
5. Amimoto - make your own videos from still photos. For $30 a year, you can make unlimited videos for $30 a year. Love these guys!
6. Coke bottle ornament - for a $1, the best stocking stuffer around.
7. Photo necklace - my DIY. Photo charms at Micheals(use coupons) and chains. Way fun
8. Fred Claus - I admit I love Bad Boy Vaughn and this movie made me laugh. Great dancing too.

Happy Shopping!

Happy Thanksgiving...



Thanksgiving - it always brings up visions of pilgrims and Indians in my head. Probably not unlike our Thanksgiving Feast at Gage's kindergarten class today - we sat on blankets and shared our bountiful harvest with each other. Pilgrims and Indians, side by side. I imagine they discussed future Thanksgivings as we wondered about theirs.

Many things would be different. Deli meat would be our game of choice, no one had to bring ammo to school just in case the deli was running low. There was a wide array of vegetables and while they were the very last thing to go, they did go. The brownies went first, the pumpkin pie with whipped cream lasted much longer. The first Thanksgivers probably didn't have cubed cheese and Ritz crackers but a suitable substitute for their day.

I am in charge of veggies and dip this year. I hope the pilgrims and Indians had dip. There is nothing quite like a good,homemade ranch dip, good on everything and I have to believe that no decent Thanksgiving feast would ever go on without it.

I'm so glad for that I got to experience the dinner with TG decorations. That may be the only thing missing on Thursday. Whether pilgrim hats with a buckle or Indian ones with feathers attached, knowing which team the guy sitting next to you is on is a great conversation starter. I will have to find a different way at the table on Thursday to get that going. We could sure learn from those who came before us or kindergartner's, which ever is closer. Happy Thanksgiving - see ya back on Cyber Monday.

crop...




Before digital scrapbooking, my only definition for the word crop, had to do with food. Photography has broaden my horizons in so many ways but maybe the crop tool has made the biggest impact even beyond the simple act of refining a photo.

I have spent the week sorting thru the kid's photo. Editing and proofing are as much fun for me as shooting, sometimes even more. It takes even more time when you have a black background - just like most things black, lots of thing stick to it and you notice it much more. Lots of cloning white spots out and sharpening the black areas. Lots of work but oh so worth it.

I got the Christmas cards and the book done on Saturday. With my Blurb book uploaded and Costco printing the cutest Christmas cards, I was free to play a bit. The thing about cropping a photo is, it is a journey. While it seems like a simple task, to me it is a challenge. There is no right or wrong way, the secret is to find the perfect crop for you. That is where the creative part of you kicks into high gear. While the photo of Miss M is gorgeous on it own, after playing with a few crops - I settled on this one because it took my breath away. A few hours later, I had another order to upload to Costco and now I am staring at an 11 x 14 of one of my favorite photos ever.

I woke up this morning wondering if cropping could work in Real Life with the same results? How much of my life looks good, really good but with a bit of cropping - could be better? When you crop a photo is is not jsut about taking something out but about shifting your attention elsewhere. A whole new outlook, a whole new view - a whole new reality.

Where do I need to focus?
What unnecessary space am I carrying around?
If I did a personal crop, how would it change my life?

This week of Thanksgiving seems a great time to take a closer look. See if cropping my life might not be a good thing, not Something to be feared. What could I do without? What am I missing because I need to look closer? I know who has the answers or the Real crop tool, as it were. A great lesson for me personally. Everytime I look at the face, I am reminded that there are Lessons all around us. What a way to live!

my favorite week of the year...



I start out my favorite week of the year with the memory of Friday night's sleepover in my mind. While there are three of them and only two ofus, i think we held our own. Popa got out his electric guitar and amp - and watched Gage transform in to a Rock Star. Popa is now on a quest to find Gage his own gear - he says he needs it. While Gage played it like he had been doing it for years and couldn't get it loud enough, Keaton played soft and mellow and then was done. Gage would have played all night if we had let him. Miss M wasn't feeling good so she was happy to watch her brothers.

Everyone was asleep by midnight except nana. Had to make sure they were down and as I lay between Keaton and Morgan, I thought again of what a lucky girl I am. I prayed for each one. Prayed for what they needed where they are. The other night as we said prayers, Keaton ended his pray with, God help us believe you and nothing else. His mama says this is the way he prays every night. Not bad, I am thinking. Not bad at all.

As usual the retailers are trying to shove us pass Thanksgiving, straight to Christmas. I refused to budge. This short week is the last time this year, to be able to take some time to bask in what we have been given and where we are. Even in less than good times, there has to be Something to be thankful for.

This year, I am going to immerse myself in the Christmas spirit. I am going to sing the songs, trim the tree and watch the tinsel, well, sparkle. No matter what my checkbook says, I am choosing to be free and enjoy every minute. Because of that, I am able to take the next few days and be thankful as often as I want. As the kids say, Yeah...

amazing grace...




Sometimes, there are just no words...

know who you are...



It is Day 9 of the writing class that I signed up for a while ago. I've got my notebook, my cardstock and I was ready to go. Day One, I showed up bright and early, ready to go. I downloaded all the course information. What is there about a free online course about learning more about Storytelling that would not tickle anyone - no less me, myself and I. All the personalities agreed initially, that this was a go. A win-win. No one saw a down side. Certainly not me.

Roots
Family
Spouse
Child
Grandchildren.

There was a list of questions to get you started. I froze. I know my Stories and I have shared them with many people. Apparently, I didn't understand that this time, it would be a audience of one and that one wasn't willing to write them down. What good could come from my first Childhood memory being tragic and makes you want to cry? I read thru more of the prompts and they all went where I was unwilling to go. In some ways, I have lived several lives.

I got married the day after I turned 20 so I see the Part 1 of my life as everything before the wedding. It is not necessarily where most of the bad is but because some much of it is wrapped up in childhood, it feels like it. Part 2covers ages 20 - 47. There were many more scary things that happened, some that should have been fatal. It was a time to grow up, like it or not. It probably is my least favorite part. Part 3 starts when I find out the next generation is on its way, this is definitely my favorite. Not only because of the little ones that have come into my life but because I finally feel like I understand and am able to learn every more. Combined with a childlike faith, this would be the time I must sing. I now know who I am, flaws and all and I love it all.

Maybe this isn't the right Season of my life to do this writing class. I will continue to monitor the two week class and keep all the wonderful downloads, for another time. Maybe just being able to section off the years is where I need to be, right now. It will give me a jumping off point later, when I am ready. Feels good to know something, anything these days. A great way to end the day...

the gift of giving...




The food banks are empty. I was handed a little flyer at my last trip to Walmart that for $12, I could feed a family for Thanksgiving. The Salvation Army reported that corporate giving is down 68% and personal giving by more than 60%. I would imagine that it will get worse before the holiday season actually begins.

The famous red kettles are out earlier this year, hoping that more time helps makes us for less funds. There was a kettle out at the TSO concert and poppa gave Keaton money to put in the kettle. I couldn't have been prouder of either of them.

It won't hurt any of us to downsize our list to Santa. We have and most everyone I talked to are making changes of some sort. I talked to a young girl today that said everyone on her list is getting Levi's. A practical and cool gift, I think she is on to Something.

My favorite Gift Drive also started a bit early. The local college is sponsoring their annual gift collection for several nursing homes and their list hit the paper today. It must be difficult for some of this people when asked what they would like. 2E asked for a 12 pack of Pepsi while 7K and 10K asked for a case of Pepsi. maybe 2E is new.

Every other giftee asks for a sweat suit. I never really understood until it was too difficult for DD father to put regular pants on. He hated them but by the time he had to wear them, his mind was pretty much gone. Lots of these nice folk want to smell good, lots of requests for cologne and perfume. Not sure I could tell the difference - wonder if they can. Candy is also a big need as are slippers and nightgowns.

My favorites are those that are just thinking a bit different than all the rest 5N only asks for a necklace - bet she is still quite a looker. 3D asks for costume jewelry - she would like some bling but cubic z is good enough for her. Miss6C asked for tea cups, nick knacks, a sketch pad and paint brushes - bet she has a Story.

Then there is the One. There is always one. Would love know 7L Story. All that is requested is a 2 ft blow-in music keyboard. I have no idea what this is but I am intrigued. Almost makes me want to show up Christmas morning to see 7L's face. I hope someone knows what this is and buys it. With Sears mantra this holiday season, Don't just give a gift - grant a wish imagine how cool it would be to grant this special request.

Where ever you find your heart being tugged at this Christmas season, listen carefully and even if it may seem that you have nothing to give - look around. I have a whole country Christmas ornament set. There are over 60 ornaments, a quilt, a metal star tree topper and a whole lot more. So far, I have no takers but the season is young. If you know anyone who would like such a bundle, let me know. I am looking forward to the Season - less can be more and sharing what we have, may make us happier than we could ever imagine...

you are so beautiful to me...



More talk about prayer this week as we visited DD church. Great pastor, love his style. He talked about the personality types, Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy and Phlegmatic and how they affect our prayer lives. I have taken this test several times in different Seasons of life. While I can't remember how I scored, I do know that we change and it is good to check in once in while and see where we are. Today I scored high in Choleric and Melancholy, lower in Phlegmatic and lowest in Sanguine. Google if you are interested in learning more about yourself. What the pastor was getting at is that we all pray differently according to who God made us. I couldn't help but smiling, wondering if anyone else prays in song lyrics.

I have done this for as long as I have prayed. Different songs for different prayers. Form the day after Halloween, Nov 1 to the late night of Thanksgiving, is a special time of giving thanks - extra, more - just trying to be aware before I am engulfed in a red, white and tinsel world. I try to immerse myself in the orange, brown and green world of thankfulness. As I was processing family photos last night, this picture of Miss M brought Joe Cocker's voice into my head where it has laid claim for the last 12 hours.

You are so beautiful to me
Can't you see?
You're everything I hoped for,
You're everything I need.
You are so beautiful...to me.

What better prayer could there be that one of praise and worship? Some of the best God songs, sound just like this. Think I will dwell here for the day, can't imagine wanting to be anywhere else...

christmas card 2008



There were 299 pictures on the card so I should be able to pick out a few that I like. Oh yes, there were a few. At no other time of the year, does my nana photo skills come in as handy as today. After church and lunch and without any promises of rewards, we turn the garage into a studio and shot away. The color theme had already been established and mommy opted for black background shots this year so that is how it went.

As I took pictures of each of them by themselves, the others entertained themselves in the front yard, chasing leaves or whatever. It was a beautiful afternoon and we all felt our spirits being lifted. We may have been shooting pictures for Christmas but snow and winter was about the furthest thing from all our minds.

Even DH who got to spend the day with us commented on what a fun day it was. He lives vicariously thru us - you have to do that when you work 7 days a week but for the next 2 weeks, he will get to experience it along with the rest of us.

He usually has his journal with him at church, today he left it home but used the bulletin as he would his book. There is always his shorthand of where the speaker is coming from and then the detailed drawing of a motorcycle. I looked over and I have many, many times. I have missed watching him draw on Sundays, it is just something I fascinated by. While he is listening, he is drawing. It helps with the listening process and the drawings are incredibly detailed, When he was finished, I asked to have his bulletin. I want to tape it into his book. DD said, this is what she wants from her dad Someday. It really is him, his essence, who he really is.

I get that and is probably why I wanted to grab it today. He was confused but handed it over. Maybe I will just carry it around in my purse for a while. Maybe I will look at next time I go to church and I miss having him there. Sounds silly but it is what it is. We had a fun day, we both agreed. What else could anyone ask for?

the continuing education of prayer...



Lots of reflection about prayer lately. From the beginning of my christian experience I was given strict instructions on the absolutes -

must get up an hour early each morning.
must go in a order, always give thanks first before asking for anything.
if in the middle of prayer you find your mind wandering, you are doing something wrong.

Forget all the supposed musts. Find time/times that work for you Pray however you want to, in whatever order. Prayer is a process - eventually, a natural rhythm will evolve. It will feel comfortable and right. Prayer doesn't go in a straight line. There are times when you shoot up prayers of need. There are also times, you might have to pull the car over because you are overcome by prayers of Thanksgiving.

I love middle of the night prayer times. The minute I am awake, I turn to Him and for a few minutes - just bask in who He is. Prayers can be short or not so short and the understanding we came to a long time ago is that falling asleep is a natural way of ending our time together. It truly is a beautiful thing.

I am no prayer expert. What I have learned has been my experience and may not be anyone else's. There is no right or wrong way. Find your own way, don't second guess yourself and stay away from the musts. I use to have a terrible time with prayer, these days - I absolutely love it. Don't give up, realize prayer is a journey not a destination. Breathe Him in and enjoy the Ride...

roadies...



There are so many people losing their jobs these days and scrambling to find new ones. Christmas is right around the corner and the $4 gas we thought was the end of the world, has turned out not to be the worst that could happen. Time to lighten things up.

As we were trying to get out of the parking lot at the TSO concert the other night, DD and I decided we would love to be roadies. It is hard work - they said it would take until 1AM to tear down the stage and they would be back up at 6AM to start all over again. Talent not being an issue, I always thought the mosg ideal job would be to be a singer on the road. I am older and wiser now and the answer really is to be a roadie. This Nextel commercial is my favorite right now and I am thinking that the House and Senate could use some of this kind of help. The Obama transistion team may want to expand their search. Imagine the possiblities, a girl can always dream...

pondering...



I can't believe that it has been a week since the election. With all the frenzy gone, it has given me time to ponder what will happen next. As I write this the Dow is done by 264 points, gas is under $2.30 a gallon and Christmas is beating down on my emotional door.

Out of fear, I understand that retailers are resorting to almost criminal means to wrestle our money our of our hands. Sears is saying, Don't just give a gift, Grant A Wish! . I think that is certainly my idea of Christmas gift giving. I want every gift I give make the giftee feel like a child again. I want them to feel that sparkle, if only for a brief moment - of having exactly what they would ask for, if they knew their wish would be granted.

Resources are limited this year. This year, many of us are looking at layoffs or worse. For many of us, granting a wish is the farthest thing from our minds because we have to worry about food and heat. I talked to my friends about skipping the gift part and just taking time to be together. While it felt difficult at first, it was freeing afterwards. I look forward to our time together. As I start to watch all the Christmas commercials, I feel the urge to sell my soul to Visa but then I stop and try to imagine how freeing it may be to just enjoy the hustle and bustle of the season.

As TSO rocked the house last night, I already know which part of heaven I want to hang out in. Last night was a gift to my soul. Maybe with less gift giving, there will be more time to find more soul gifts. Come January, they may be worth more than we could ever imagine...

anticipation...



Can hardly wait! + have been looking forward to Monday for weeks + kickoff of the holiday season + picking Keaton up from school + do homework + pick up poppa + dinner at Chapala's + meet up with mommy and daddy at the concert + Transiberian Orchestra here we come = a normal day cloaked in absolute fabulous. (Journaling idea from Matt Powers)

adolph hitler...

I know, a heavy way to start the week but it has been in my Friday since Friday morning. I was channel surfing and was attempting to get by the History Channel which I never watch. It was the top of the hour and the show was about Hitler's family of origin and it reminded me of my.

While the rest of you were talking about Chevrolet and Apple pie, in my household the language was German and any topics brought up were German-related. We did not speak English at home if my German grandma was anywhere near which was most of the time. I don't remember having problems when going to our American grandma's house with language but obviously remembering being put in speech therapy in 2nd grade because I spoke 2 languages there - it had to have been an issue.

I can't remember what we talked about at American grandma's house. I just remember she was the best cook EVER and all my focus was eating as much as I could but at home, it was a different deal.

My mother was sick so that left my father and my Oma to entertain themselves. While I am sure my sister and I took a lot of time to care for, they had more than enough time to get frequent yelling matches which always had overtones of Germany. Oma was not interested in America or her ways. She was here to help her sick daughter and care for her only granddaughters. While I don't' know for sure, looking back - she must have disliked her son-in-law for bringing her daughter to America where the cultural climate looked down on Germans in 1945. He had left his new bride with his parents and went back to Germany for four years. The new bride and her in-laws didn't get along and it never got better but I digress.

One topic I remember Oma and my father fighting about often was Hitler. I am not sure why they would go at it over and over again. Like they were going to change the other's mind if they kept up the debate. I must have been 6 or 7 years old but I remember Oma trying to defend Hitler. She said the people of Germany would have starved if not for him. She credited the VW - the people's car as his attempt to allow everyone to own a vehicle. Whatever crazyness he did after that - trumped the badness in her mind. She was not a radical but from this little woman's perspective, she was going to defend him, no matter what. My father would rant and rave. RANT AND RAVE. I didn't know what Hitler had done and if my only knowledge was to be based on these conversations, Oma was winning. It seems strange now. Now that I know the whole Story. I would have loved to talk to her about all of this but she died a month before I got married. Her daughter died two years prior to my marriage, by her own hand, and she had no place to go but back to Germany. I never saw her again and was informed of her death by a telegram from distant cousins.

The whole Hitler thing has been rolling around in my head all weekend. DH had the weekend off and we had a chance to discuss the Story. Could it happen today? With CNN, Nancy Grace and Anderson Cooper - maybe. There has always been evil in the world and will always be. That we don't agree on what is and isn't, will always remain a mystery. Sometimes, it all comes down to perspective and the truth is each of us has a different one.

I am...



At any given time, in any given Moment and for any given reason...

I Am
Peter, Mary, Judas, Thomas

I Am
a thirsty wedding guest
a disgruntled worker
part of a angry mob
a sleeping disciple

I Am Joseph, Pilate, Adam and Naomi

I Am
a criminal on a cross
a innkeeper with no extra rooms
full, my belly full of fish
asleep when I was asked to pray

I Am Cain, Ruth, Solomon, David

I Am
amazed that I could roll a stone
riding a camel, looking for a star.
a guard that has shackled innocent men
wandering in the desert, unsure why.


This is how I see myself,
but God sees me completely differently.
I need to follow His lead...

history in the making...



While it is difficult, set aside for a Moment your disappointment or glee in last night's election. Try to wrap your mind and heart around the Bigger Picture. If your guy lost, it is not end of the world, no matter how it feels and if your guy won, there will be disappointments, count on it. They both gave gracious speeches. Both of them brought me to tears. For just a minute, forget about what could have been done differently or whose fault it was or even the president-elect and ponder with me...

Anything is now possible. Last night was history in the making. Early in the evening - before any of the polls closed, a commentator talked about if Obama won, there would never be a child who couldn't say, I can be anything I want to be. Never in my lifetime did I imagine such a sight as we saw last night. No riots, a level of civility I never expected. Gracious words from the one who understood his time was now done and encouraging words from the one who understood that his time was just beginning.
We witnessed a change in our country, literally in a heartbeat. Never again can any man say, I can't. There are no more excuses available. People will have to come up with other excuses, the ones they have used for years now longer have any validity. In 76 days, we will offically enter into this new environment but in this transistion, we have time to think about what we have now experienced.
We live in a country where we often say, anything can happen and now that it has - it may be a great time to remember that.

Psalms 91/The Message. Typed this up yesterday for my grands to keep by their beds. God is bigger than our fears. He is always there. He is forever. History in the making is for the here and now. It is part of our current residency and not a part of our true citizenship. While I have been amazed and moved by this historic moment, it is just one of many moments strung together that gives me more and more pieces of the human Puzzle. The perfect union will never be here on earth but it doesn't mean we aren't here to learn...and in the last 24 hours, learn - we have...

Vote your conscious...



About 8 AM yesterday morning, Barack Obama was notified that his grandmother had passed away. I can only imagine what went thru his mind as he did his last minute campaigning. This morning we as a country are experiencing a day that most of us never thought would happen in our lifetime. There is excitement in the air. I couldn't sleep last night. It has bee a emotional roller coaster that has left us with the two candidates that Many thought, didn't have a chance of being here.

However you vote today or have voted, try to keep a few things in perspective. As for political parties, it is not us again them. We are Americans and we have a choice we get to make and tomorrow we will all share the same president. Although we may think so, this is not a matter of our candidate wins or we are doomed to hell, even if it feels that way.

I voted early. I will admit, I struggled with my vote. After a few things that happened since I voted, I am glad I chose who I chose. If he doesn't win, I will live with that because despite everything, we live in the greatest country in the world.

I know that some around me have voted for the other guy. They feel strong enough to have signs in their yard. They have too, voted their conscious. Jesus is not a democrat or republican - there are strong opinions on both sides but it doesn't make one right and one wrong. It is not our job to sort this out for people and then, condemm them if they don't go our way.

Vote your conenscious, and then leave it in God's hands. Enjoy the process, it is a historic day - one we will remember forever. If you need something to do, pray for Barack Obama and the loss of the the woman who raised him, missing by just 24 hours getting to experience what you and I will get to see today. Either way, history will be made and tomorrow as you go on with your life, one will have a funeral to plan. Certainly puts life in perspective. Truly enjoy living in this Moment, it is going to be quite a day...

halloween...





Halloween is all about costumes and candy - this year was no exception. There was lots of family, mostly all dressed up. There was food galore to counteract some of the candy and this year, something New was added. As a surprise for all of us, Keaton. Gage and Morgan had been working on some entertainment for us and I was SOOOO proud when I found out it was Shel Silverstein.

Their mommy was in a drama class when she was about Keaton's age so they come by it naturally. At the last minute, Gage decided not to do it. He was on halloween overload so he joined us in the audience. Keaton did a fabulous job. He had memorized the poems and with Miss M's help, it was just the greatest. My favorite was Lazy Jane. As Morgan laid perfectly still on the living room floor, hard for Hannah Montana to do, Keaton recited this lovely little poem. I tell you, he has taken halloween up a notch - I can hardly wait until next year.

It seemed pretty quiet that night. We didn't have very many trick or treaters. When we got home, we only saw one house in the whole subdivision with lights on. Not sure about the future of halloween but for us, this year it was the greatest!

ZD has voted...




A few hours after my mail-in ballot was dropped at the main post office, I was channel surfing and came upon a West Wing marathon. Instantly, a big smile came across my face. Probably my favorite TV show ever, I realized that my real fondness for politics was based largely on Aaron Sorkin's wonderful environment. Not a campaigner or sign stumper but more as one who can appreciate a fine wine or a bottle of Thunderbird, whatever it takes. With SNL as a close runner-up, today has been a wonderful reminder of not only how lucky we are to live in this great country. Hard to believe it will all be over soon but there is always hope that campaigning will start for 2012 in January.

Lines in Atlanta, Georgia were up to 10 hours long on Friday - can't remember elelction where this was the case. Everyone has an opinion and apparently are willing to stand in line to express it. Locally, last week there have been people in line before the polls were opened. Expecting more of the same tomorrow.

I am so going to miss these SNL skits. I think it is where SNL has always done its best work. After my WW infusion and later this skit, it was a delight to vote in this election. I hope you all feel the same. However this all ends, we will always remember, the way we were...

Halloween...

RIGBY -- Seventh District Judge Brent Moss has ruled that an Idaho Falls sex offender must submit to a polygraph test if he wants his name removed from the state's sex offender registry.

Jeramy Freckleton has been on the sex offender list since 1998, when he pleaded guilty to felony sexual battery of a minor 16 or 17 years old.

He has no criminal record since his probation began, but Freckleton said having his name on the registry is making it difficult to find a job as an accountant. That's because the State Board of Accountancy requires applicants to submit to criminal history background checks.

On Monday, Moss said Freckleton would have to take a polygraph test before he makes a decision.

Repeat, aggravated and violent sex offenders are placed on the sex offender registry for life, but Idaho law allows other offenders who to petition to be removed after 10years.


DH drove my car and the next time I got in - my radio was switched to talk radio. Because of the election, I have left it on and am listening to whoever is talking when I am driving. Yesterday afternoon, it was a local host who brought up this Story and asked the audience, Should sex offenders be allowed to ever get off a SO registry?

First of all, I was shocked ( DH too) that being on a SOR had an experation date. It never dawned on me that there was even that option. As you could imagine, this was a volitile issue on the subject and most thought there shouldn't even be trials - just a firearm was all that was needed to take care of this problem and there would never be any repeat offenders. One guy brought up forgiveness and Christians. He was not met with much understanding. One guy told about being in college and how a kid streaked during a football game and because there were kids in the stands, not only found himself on the SOR but also in prison. There were a few people who said if the crime was a 18 year old guy and his 16 year old girlfriend, that was a different issue but that all SO are lumped into the same pie. Another older gentlemen said, Sure, as long as they agree to castration first.

I have my own opinions and bias. It is my understanding that this kind of behavior doesn't stop with castration - the urge is always there. I come away with that experience so my POR is that these people are never cured. Amother thing I was told is that for every time one of these people is caught, they have on average committed this activty 20 times already. I am still shocked and wonder how many people in our state, have been successful at getting off the list.

The last caller was a woman who wanted to talk about Halloween. She gave a Speech Of Epic Porportions. Without taking too much of a breath, she said these people have always been around and always will be. We have to watch out backs and our kids backs. She said we spend 364 days a year telling our kids not to take candy from strangers but 1 night a year, it is ok. By now, her voice was full and strong. She went on to say that is was our responsiblity to take care of our kids and if we are doing our jobs, SO on Halloween won't be an issue. Don't let them go to homes of people you don't know and don't let them go by themselves. Be Responsible. I agree with her and by the end of her speech, it hit me that while we can't protect our kids from everything, we do have some control and we sometimes we don't it wisely.

God wants us to love our neighbor but that is hard when you are afraid of said neighbor. We are getting ready for our Halloween party - Indiana Jones, Bobo Fett,( from Star Wars) and Hannah Montana are said to be in attendance. I can hardly wait!

When I was a kid growing up, Halloween was all about the candy. My father insisted on going through our candy first - we were always hobo's, with pillowcases tied to a stick - not for safety but so he could get the best candy first. There was no anti Halloween issues in the atheist household and over the years I have run the emotional gambit on Halloween. I am very comfortable with where I am with it now And after tomorrow, my month for Thanksgiving begins.

So however you choose to spend tomorrow night, be safe. Stay close to your kids and everything will be all right. We do live in a scary world but a little common sense can go a long way. I told my friend the other day, as my God gets bigger - the impossible doesn't seem so...impossible.

A friend shared this Oswald Chambers quote today and it was a perfect fit. We are not limited to human reasoning. We are not bound by the natural but by the supernatural. There is so much I can't see - doesn't mean it isn't there...

fast, faster, fastest...



I literally ran into Walmart last week. I even timed myself - so much for living in the Moment. I just wasn't available - can't remember why the rush but it seemed important at the time. When I returned to my car, I noticed it immediately. Funny, not sure I would have seen it any other day. Maybe it was the light that got my attention but I saw it as soon as I got close enough to see - a spider web from the car to the left of me to the front door of my van. 6 minutes, that was how long I was gone - just 6 minutes.

I stared at it for a minute. It did stop me in my tracks. I guess I had never considered how long it would take a spider to weave a web but I know I never thought it could be done in 6 minutes. Did he see me coming? Was he just waiting for someone to pull in and be in a rush? Most likely, he was just messing with me.

Alan Greenspan told Congress last week that from a economical viewpoint, This is a lifetime credit Tsunami. Tsunami - good word for where a lot of us are finding ourselves these days. It happens fast and hits hard. No time to catch your breath and some, are not going to make it. The numbers are staggering, everything from housing to job losses, with no end in sight. Hard to know the right thing to do - changes have to made and sacrifice is across the board.

I finally got in the van, turned on the radio and headed home - just a five minute. As I pulled into my subdivision, the Hallejulah Chorus, sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir started playing and a big smile fell across my face. Someone on the radio station decided to pull out some Christmas music - for me, it was a spiritual Tsunami and just what I needed...

a certain smell...

Woke up this morning with a certain memory with a familiar smell. It was a few years ago - after a few nights engagement, I took my book to the speaker to get his signature. Before I got right up to him, I smelled the very familiar smell. It is a smell I have smelled for as long as I can remember. It is a childhood smell. One of those things you recognize the instant you smell it. It is as familiar as anything else you know to be true.

I remember being taking back a bit as I tried to to put the smell and the speaker together. I love and still love this author. His message of God's character has changed my life, more than once. It doesn't change my mind about him, his message or God.

I don't know why it was so strong this morning. It has been a long while since I have thought about that smell. Once in a great while I will get a whiff as someone goes by at the grocery store. As the smell and this man continued on my mind this morning, I prayed for him like I never have. I don't know why he was brought to me and I don't really care - I am learning to just pray when this stuff comes my way. I don't need to waste time figuring out why - that ship has sailed. After a while, it was time to start my day.

Last time he was here, I told myself to say goodbye. It was probably the last time he would be back and I thanked him, on the inside for all he had taught me. I said my final goodbyes and was good with it.

I don't know why the smell. I don't know if it was a physical smell or a godly smell and again, don't care. What I do care about is listening when I do smell it. There is a reason that it comes my way and it is to get my attention and paying attention is what I do care about...

we are mavericks...



We had planned this day every since we found out that High School Musical 3 would be coming out. We had a plan - just like we did for Hannah Montana 3D, I would take the 2 little kids with me to stand in line and Mommy would pick up Keaton from school and run to the theatre. The plan was in place. Everyone knew the plan.

Friday afternoon when we picked up Gage from Kindergarten, I asked about breaking Keaton out of school so we could just have a fun day. Mommy thought it over and decided we could do that. Keaton wasn't sure what was going on but as soon as he found out that he wasn't in trouble and nothing was wrong - he was so excited at the unexpected change of his day.

We had lunch, made a few stops and headed for HSM 3, all together. We all loved the movie. There were tapping toes and cheers as we spent the next 108 minutes in the world of Troy, Gabrelia, Sharpay and Chad.

We all have days that we need to shake things up. When you are a kid, you are at the mercy of adults but thanks goodness, the kids have me to talk mommy into great adventures. When you are the mommy,it is tougher to make that call but that is what nanas are for.

I was a maverick way before it became popular. Being a maverick has not traditionally been seen as a positive. Sometimes it is downright looked down on. Times will change but don't see me changing so much - I will just ride the maverick wave for the next 8 days and call it good. Maybe you will find yourself needing a maverick Moment in the next week, go for it!

Christmas shopping...



Up and out of the door early Saturday morning, it was a perfect fall day. The air was crisp, it just grabbed you as you walked into its presence. No hint of warmth yet no ice-cold in sight. One who was less warm blooded might have wanted a coat but I truly was just enamoured of the perfectness of this gorgeous morning.

Christmas plans for the kids had been solidified and as we were getting one large gift, I wanted to get it now. We are looking at a layoff in 9 days of which the length is still in question so it was the perfect time and as it turned out, on the perfect day.

The woman in front of me at the check-out was in the middle of a Story when I came up. She was telling her Story of how many years ago she was trying to save money by making her own salsa. She went on to say the salsa blew up, cost her an eye and cost $22,000 - all she was trying to do was save a few bucks. I imagine if I could have spent more time with her, she would tell me that her life looked different after that experience, I know mine would. She probably doesn't try to cut as many corners now. What a Story she must have! I am so glad I got to hear some of it.

Grabbed my big gift and headed down the road to do my next errand. Again, yanked in by the crispness of the morning, I smiled when I saw the football games going on at the local middle school. I immediately pulled to the side to the side of the road, to get a shot to remind me of one of the delights of fall. Living in the Moment has given me the sight to be able to be ready for Stories when they come my way and stopping the car on a dime, to take a picture that will make me smile every time I see it. Christmas shopping in October - who would have imagined how marvelous it might be ...

quick fix...



Quick fix is mostly an oxymoron. In the midst of my week of editing photos, watching the dow and marveling at the falling price of gas - that has become painfully, obvious. If something can be fixed quickly, it is not a quick fix.

In the conversations I have had the privilege to be a part of this week, it is even more obvious. If you are in a situation and looking for the quick fix, you might better use your time to figure out how you are going to wait it out.

In the midst of editing pictures which really is painstaking love affair, you have to go one step at a time. There is no quick fix, no running up to the head of class and pushing my way in. One step is based on the step before or the next one to come. You need time to acclimatize yourself to the change that the fix will bring. I perceive that a quick fix is to restore something to its original shape/function/feeling. The original is broken and we have to fix it before mom gets home. Glue, tape, marshmellow creme - whatever it takes. The truth is once something needs fixing, there is a new reality looming close. Another chance to learn and that is no little thing.

I will take this information with me to tomorrow... and all the tomorrows that will come my way. Can't imagine that cam be anything but a quick fix...

watching the dow...



In between watching the dow go up and down, I manage to do a few real life things. Nothing is better than getting a little camera love going on. It not only flex's one's creative muscle, it is a distraction from real Life and there is not one of us who doesn't need that these days.

Each morning as I turn on MSNBC, as soon as the market opens, the state of the Dow is now a permanent fixture on the screen, They usually are spot on before the market opens as to whether it will start up or down. In the last couple of weeks, we have seen the highest high and the lowest low ever recorded in the same week. The day of the Big Drop, I sat and watch the as numbers plunged. Lots of things go through your mind as you see your little financial nest egg tumble out of the nest, knowing there is nothing you can do but watch.

The one good thing is that more of us are paying attention to things we have pretty much paid ignored. We may have no control over what direction the dow goes but if you look at gas prices this week, maybe cutting back had a little something, something to do with gas being a bit more affordable. Maybe one person can't make a huge difference but understand you can still make a difference. Size doesn't matter. We each have an equal voice. Good or bad, America is us.

At our very worse, may we be aware.
At our very best, may we be humble.
For all the moments in between, may we be all about the Moment...

safe haven law...

LINCOLN, Neb. - Stung by the abandonments of children as old as 17 under Nebraska's new "safe haven" law, the governor and lawmakers agreed Monday to narrow the legislation's broad wording to protect only the parents of newborns from prosecution.

At least 18 children, the youngest 22 months and many of them teens, have been abandoned since the law took effect in July. Nebraska's law doesn't define the word "child," so it has been interpreted to let anyone leave child up to age 18 at a state-licensed hospital without fear of prosecution for the abandonment.


Apparently Nebraska didn't dot all their I's and cross all their T's when then put their legislation into law. They have amended it now to accept up to a 3 three day old baby. Who could have imagined that anyone would take advantage of the loophole in this law? Obviously, these two parents decided that it was worth crossing state lines to take advantage of the state's oversight.

The rash of drop-offs included a teenage girl from Iowa and a Michigan boy whose mother drove to Omaha to leave him at a Omaha hospital.

I have had a teenager and like any one who has had one knows, there have been times when taking a little trip to Nebraska would have seemed a great little place to vacation. I kid but teenagers equal wanting to pull your hair out and I am assuming that these parents must have been at the end of their emotional ropes. For the kids, imagine trying to comprehend being abandoned by your parent. What a horrible place to find yourself, whether parent or child.

The first case I heard of was a widowed father who left all nine of his children at a hospital. I can't judge. My family was in a similiar situation. Apparently my grandfather's mother died and the father kept the five oldest children and adopted out the two youngest, my grandfather and his sister, the one I was supposedly named after. I don't remember much of the Story but there were bitter feelings between the father and the two he chose to abandoned. It changed their lives and how they reacted to those around them. Both were a bit wild and showed scars of losing their identity that lasted throughout their lives.

The idea of the safe haven law brought up a whole different kind of issue, one that lawmakers say they never saw coming. Don't know that there is an answer but if there is, it is no longer in Nebraska...

the grim reaper...





As I waited for my kids at the pumpkin patch, the grim reaper walked by. He surprised me and I was taken back for a minute. Then his mother followed him out to the parking lot. Never thought about TGR having a mother but it makes sense.

As I continued standing there, I was caught off guard again when he and his mom pulled up and asks if I would like any apples. Momma leaned over and explained that they had just picked them the day before. I thanked her/them/him but declined. It might sound crazy but it just doesn't feel right to take apples from TGR even though I know it was only a teenage boy in a costume. The only other costume I saw in the three hours I was there was a tiny boy in his Spiderman costume.

There has to be a Story there and part of me would love to know what it is. The mom seemed perfectly normal and even jolly. She had to be aware of the unbalance of the situation but she took it all in stride. Sometimes, we wonder if we are doing the right thing. We don't want to make a mistake. We want to make the best choice and whether it makes sense or not, it just didn't seem like a good idea to take an apple from the Grim Reaper - even today, I wouldn't have had it any other way...

the best sarah palin ever...

16 days...



After school Friday, we headed out to Linder farms for some pumpkin patch action. The place was hopping and we jumped in enjoying the sweet, sweet fall weather in the midst of hayrides,a petting zoo, picking pumpkins and lots of snacks. After three hours of way too much fun, we settled in for our second round of treats. I have video footage that has made me smile big over the last few days but it would embarrass Keaton to show it so it will slip into my photo vault and will forever have a special place in my heart but here is the written version.

while mommy was getting a third round of mini donuts, Keaton started telling me about what he was learning at school. Apparently they are talking about the election in health in the fourth grade. He went on to tell me that when McCann dies in four months, Little Miss I Know Everything will come along, and do everything that he (McCann) didn't want to do. I didn't realize that this kind of thinking would come under a health class curriculum. He went on to say that Obama would lower taxes and make drugs high. Ok, now you've got my attention...

So I pose the question to each of them, If you had to vote today, who would you vote for to be the next president?

Keaton answers in a resounding tone, Obama.
Hopefully because of lowering taxes and not the drug high.

Gage is voting for The Old Man.
He is impressed by his being in jail for such a long time.
He also gives OBottom, a thumbs down.

Miss M, choses Obama - the first time.

There is a little more talk. Gage asks Keaton how many are running and Keaton explains 4, two each for president and vice-president. I've got to be honest here, I don't think I knew there was a president until high school. Politics are not discussed much at their home so it has got to be outside influences bringing all this information to them. They were telling me that Nickelodeon wanted kids to vote and they were going to do it.

The second round - I gave them a chance to change their minds, only made Keaton and Gage more sure of their choices. This time, Miss M choose The Old Man with Gage. She is an equal opportunity sister and would love to make both of them happy.

I have lots and lots of pictures documenting this wonderful fall day where we made such great memories but I have to admit, the tale of OBottom and The Old Man will stay with me for the rest of my days and when I forget, I will always have the video...

a normal day...

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return. Mary Jean Iron

I found this quote on Miss Ali's blog this week and have started each day with it close to my heart. Each and every day is a treasure - I forget that so often. Always running to the next thing, it is difficult for Miss Left Brain to see normal for what it really is...Something pretty special.

no hunger or thirst...



I thought it seemed so a few days ago but today confirmed it. Apparently with sinus issues comes the loss of taste. Nothing tastes right. My Diet Coke seems to be flat and, without any flavor even my Route 44 Diet Cherry Coke from Sonic is failing me. Today both my breakfast and lunch could not be identified without sight. This could be one of the greatest diet aides every if someone could market it.

It feels very strange. I have no appetite except when my stomach growls, I realize is time to throw it a bone. It reminds me of times that I have no appetite for other things, even spiritual things. We all have dry times. Times when we feel all alone. Times when we are feeling like we are on top of things spiritually, is the easiest time to store up for the next barren time.

As I lay on the couch last night, I had one of my food daydreams. I don't have them as much as I use to but when I need a food fix, I imagine eating that food. I try to experience each bite and how it tastes. Last night I started with my favorite hamburger ever, The Steunberg in Caldwell and ended with fried chicken dipped in melted butter. I could taste the flavor and was in little girl pretend piggy heaven.

The same can be said for our spiritual life. When we can't taste or feel God - we can remember what it was like and how it will be again. Just because we feel a certain way, doesn't make it true. This is God talking to Mack about perception. From The Shack/WM Paul Young.

Don't ever think that what my son chose to do didn't cost us dearly. Love always leaves a significant mark," she stated softly and gently."We were there together".
Mack was surprised."At the cross? Now wait, I thought you left him - you know- "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It was a scripture that had often haunted Mack in the Great Sadness.
You misunderstand the mystery there. Regardless of what he felt at the moment, I never left him."
How can you say that? You abandoned him just like you abandoned me!"
"Mackenzie, I never left him and I have never left you"
"That makes no sense to me, he snapped.
I know it doesn't, at least not yet. Will you at least consider this: When all you can see is your pain, perhaps you lose sight of me...

Whether you agree with the theology or not - and apparently there is a lot of disagreement, you can't disagree that God's ways are not our ways and when we try put God in our box with much authority, we are out of line. God is so much bigger and we have so much to learn. The bigger my God becomes, the bigger my heart and life get. The times with no thirst and hunger can be endured because I can't explain why. Why is bigger than me. Why won't get me anywhere. Why will be answered Someday.

In the meantime, I will enjoy this different part of the Journey and hope it might last for a while. Ice Cream doesn't sound good - impossible but true. Imagine how much more is impossible but true???