the perfect gift...

Gift (gift) n - Something given voluntarily with no expectation of payment in return.

I agree. A black Hummer would be the perfect gift but I couldn't help but think about a friend who years ago received a fabulous car as a gift for her birthday and ... it also came with a payment book. I hope the reason she had that particular vanity plate made was that it came without strings.

Gifts - we all have very diverse ideas of what constitutes a gift. Sometimes there are expectations and that makes it a bit difficult when the gift doesn't live up to those exps. Sometimes, a gift is completely unexpected. This week I received a $ 20 gift certificate to a wonderful digi designer's shop. I had emailed her several weeks ago and asked about doing some word art kits and she thanked me with this wonderful gift. I am so excited to go shopping!

Not all gifts are material in nature. Some of the best gifts I have ever received were this week in the form of unsolicited kisses and hugs from the most wonderful little people in the world. An I love you so much, can keep me going for days and I have had more than my fair share of nana love this week.

DH has hard a tough week. The heat and no days off has taken its toll yet I got a unexpected hug, just because. After 36 years, that certainly qualifies as a gift.

The pastor's sermon was a gift this week. Part of my prayer life was made clear. I didn't know that I had something in common with Mary who loved Jesus, but it all makes sense now. Blew me away when the pieces all fit together. What a gift that was.

The other thing we need to understand is that all gifts are not created equal. Some will last a few moments and some a lifetime. If you give someone something of a material nature, perhaps the best part of the gift is to let them decide where the gift falls. I have seen so many of these gifts given with inappropriate strings attached. We all need to understand that when a gift is given so is our right to define the gift's value. It is the same thing with a non-material gift - whatever we pass on as a gift is just that. Done expecting nothing in return. It is a good way to live. It makes givng the perfect gift...doable.


8.08.08. I read today that the number 8 is considered a lucky number in China. With 9days to go before hosting the games of their lifetime, ready or not China - here they come. I have followed the Geswein family journey for over a year now as they are teaching in the city. Very interesting posts as Kimberly talks about getting the Chinese people culturally and environmentally prepared for this Bigger Than Life event. Tonight's news brought word that the Powers That Be are trying to clear out the pollution by not allowing the masses to drive their autos hoping that the skies will clear when company starts showing up.

Anthony Bourdain, of No Reservations fame had some very interesting non-food facts tonight that explained alot about what is going on in my world. The default mode of transportation in China has always been the bicycle. In the last 5 years, the amount of cars has increased 10 fold hence a clue into our current gas crisis. Today was the first time in a long time that I paid less than 4 dollars for gas. What a thrill!

I am not much of a Olympic games fan nor does the thought of going to China thrill me. I had a chance once to work there for a couple of years but could not say no fast enough. DH, on the other hand, was hoping against hope that I would change my mind but in his heart, he knew., Nothing personal against China - would have lived in a hotel, would never have had to cook or do laundry but there was absolutely no value to me.

I don't know that you can ever been totally ready for company. As China has been westernized over the last 10 years, I hope they don't get overwhelmed and can enjoy themselves every once in a while. Having guests can be exhausting and even the best of hosts can feel like they haven't done enough. So many expectations in so little time. I wish everyone well...

wedding season...

Welcome to StillMotion - the Demo from Patrick Moreau on Vimeo.

It is more likely than not that you have been invited to or been a part of a wedding this summer. We have one later in August that we are so looking forward to. An evening reception in a gorgeous location. Our bride and groom are perfectly matched and are going to throw a great party.

Speaking of great, Still Motion are the cream of the crop when it comes to wedding videos. They really are more like happy productions of the first of fabulous times in one's life. If you are not personally involved in a wedding this year, find one to observe. We humans are at our best when we celebrate and there is no greater celebration than a wedding. Whenever I attend one it takes me back to my own wedding and my favorite wedding of all, my girl's. Boy, we had a great time.

If I could do it all over again, it would be a bit different. There would have to be a surprise dance that would rock the house and Still Motion would be there to get it all. If not me, thank goodness that these couples will have a lifetime of memories to remember.

nothing quite screams summer...

like swim lessons. With less than a month to go until school starts, it is time to get down to business. The honeymoon phase of summer is gone. Is it going to rain or be hot? You can pretty well bet that everyday for the next 30 days is going to be hovering around 100 with no spring-like conditions in sight. It is a marvelous time of being hot and knowing that you are headed for fall. It is almost time for school clothes and backpack shopping...but not quite. It is just perfect.

Right now it is about goggles ( or googles as Miss M calls them, swim rings and is anybody going to go down the slide? Everyday last week, Miss M told me she would be headed down that slide. On Friday which is Slide Day, she looked at me and said, I am not going down the slide. End of conversation.

Not unlike real Life, we all get cold feet everyonce in a while. We try to put on a brave face and at the time, we truly do believe we will be able to carry out said task but in the end, not so much. I have been in Miss M's shoes many times and would love to report that I never backed out but that is not the case. Sometimes I wonder how much I have missed because I backed down the high dive of life and wouldn't take the chance.

How many times do we find our courage, go through with it and find out our fears were a waste of time?

How many times should we have been fearful and weren't?

How are we to know which way to go?

I guess that is one of the mysteries of life that we will never fully understand. All we can do is our best, in the Moment. It will be interesting to see if anyone slides down the Big Slide or jumps off the High Dive this week. Swim lessons will be over for another year on Friday and the kids will pick up next year where they left off this summer. The summer of 2008 has been very good to us and whatever we learn this week, will only add to our life experiences which is what we use when we make those choices about facing our next set of fears. So, I guess I will grab my googles and dive right in...

fonts - so this is what they look like...

I love fonts. In the world of digital scrapbooking, they would have to be considered adjectives but dang, sometimes - it is all about them. Now I can put a face to the name. My familiar friends - those I hang out with most days.

I most closely resemble Wingdings but may be Broadway at heart. So glad to meet you...

Is it difficult to be a photographer?

This blog post made me smile. While I haven't been in these same positions, I recognize the pose. We photographers will do just about anything to get the picture that we see in our minds. I have been flat on my back and stomach, trying to get that shot. Sometimes it is there and sometimes you miss the mark but just anticipating what you will see when you go home and download your memory chip, give you that Photographer High.

But, back to the question - is it difficult to be a photographer? For me, it is a great lesson in learning to live in the moment. You many not get to take every shot you want, there may be people/places/things in your way and people do blink, at the worse times but you also learn patience and that is the stuff that builds character. Shooting kids is so fun, always on the go and never sure how they are going to react or what they are going to do. Keaton was fooling around one day and pretended to pick his nose then a week later, Gage wanted me to take the same picture of him. Go figure.

Finally, I found something that makes me so happy. Post editing is as much fun as shooting and you add digital scrapbooking on top of that and it just doesn't get any better. Tomorrow we are going back to the Big City to take some more urban shots and I am downright giddy about it. Difficult, maybe on the body but it is a good burn - wouldn't trade it for the world...

husband training...

Even though DH misses lots of parties because of his work, there is still a part of him that always makes it. I have taught him to sign cards - birthday, anniversary and whatever else that is coming from the two of us. I just feel strongly that he should participate and this was something that he could do - if properly trained.

There have been many, many husband lessons over the last almost 37 years.

I think I have a deep desire to know that if I am gone, he will be able to continue on and be, It dawned on me this week, that what I have been trying to do all these years is clone him. I have been in training mode for as long as I can remember and you know what, it's not fair - to him or me. Neither of us can be replaced by the other - on so many levels.

We are polar opposites.
He is from Mars, I am from Venus.
I am warm fuzzies, he is robo cop.

I have spent all these years trying to do something that is none of my business. He belongs to God and if something should happen to me, they are on their own. Whatever his life would look like would probably make me crazy but it's not about me, then. If I am honest, either is it now. He belongs to God and is on loan to me. Hard to remember when he doesn't respond the way I think he should but at least, I am fairly confident that if left to take of cards, he has learned his lesson...I sure hope so.


Came across last night and pretty sure this find is going to be creative and therapudic. Just type in words, songs, quotes - anything you want. Read the FAQ to find out how to size your text. Cruise the Gallery for some fabulous word art. Put your Wordle on t-shirts on in a frame. My mind is just going crazy and must have more. The possiblities are mind-boggling.

FYI - to download to your computer, download the Cute-Writer app in the FAQ section. When you finish your Wordle art, pick the Print button and then choose Cute writer as your printer option and save it to your desktop. You can then pick it up in PS Elements and if you need it for DIP, save it as a png or jpeg and then use it from there.

Off for more, hope you have a creative day!


Staycation is all the rage and will be the icon for the summer of 2008. With the rising cost of everything, more and more people are finding themselves staying close to home and rediscovering their hometown delights. Picnics are back in style - for us, they always have been. They say the average picnic cost is $3.50 each. Seems a little steep but a good picnic basket would be way worth it. We carry a cooler most everywhere we go and since kids are always hungry, we must be prepared.

Staycation may be a great thing for our nation. We never would have voluntered to do it but as we Americans always do - make it popular and it will become second nature. Why does a turkey and cranberry sandwich taste so much better under a tree while sitting on a blanket? It is truly one of the delights of life. Staycation is my default and I could not be happier to see everybody starting to see the benefits and discoveries that come with it.

Summer is in full swing. We start swim lessons today and have already started school shopping. Not ready to even think about school but the reality is, we must... but not today. Today we are going to try to listen to our hair grow and enjoy ourselves. NOw, this is the life...


Do our lives look anything like we imagined they would? As strange as it sounds, I don't remember much about the future as a kid or even as a teen. No goals - not sure if it was the times or me. I can remember thinking it would be dreamy to be married and have 10 kids and I still think the white picket fence is the epitome of dreamy.
If you want some fascinating reading, check out PW's Change of Plan post and the comments that follow.

“I’m married with two kids, but I’m a stay-at-home-mom…It’s definitely not what I intended for my life, but it turns out, it’s everything I never knew I always wanted.”

“My daughter’s angst now is that she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life; she’s a year out of college…I keep telling her that…fate will take her in many different directions, regardless of her plans…”

“Fourteen months ago, my life was more than I ever thought it could be. And then we lost our baby. And my oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer.”

“When I was little, I was planning on Donny Osmond coming to my house on a motorcycle and taking me away. We would then become a duet and be famous…”

“I can’t say I’m unhappy but I wish I would have been a little smarter and not gotten pregnant when I did. I think I’ve made life harder for myself and my children…

“I was too busy getting high and chasing boys. But 26 1/2 years of sobriety later, I wouldn’t trade all of the experiences I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned for that lifestyle again. God it was fun, though…”

It is a sobering, reality that we humans are experience a wide range of expectations and experiences but what we have in common is that life doesn't always turn out the way we thought it would. We all get blindsided and don't know what to do. It can happen in an instant. Your life, your plans - everything can be gone in an instant.

Last night in our little town, A young couple were about to give birth to their first baby in two weeks. A tragic motorcycle accident and now a young woman will become a mommy by herself. All their plans and dreams as a couple are gone and she will have to find her way. I pray she will reach out to God because there is no where else to go. It is a reminder to me to go ahead and make plans but remember who really is in charge and that not only do we need to embrace every moment but be ready to embrace the One who made us when those plans turn out to be nothing like we planned...

the green, green grass of home...

We have all heard it all our lives, our perception is that the grass appears to be always greener on the other side.

These days, most of us are finding ourselves stretched to the limit. Financially, we are making different choices, literally changing the way we do life on a daily basis. Do we fill our cars with gas or buy groceries for the week? Where to make cuts and what can we do without. It is times like this that it is easy to think that the other guy has it better than we do.

I have never been one to keep up with the Jones. I might have coveted the Jones loving family life but I have lived long enough to know that the life I have is the life I was meant to have. If one is always looking at someone else's green pastures, they miss their own. The green, green grass of home is where we will flourish. It is what is ours, good and bad.

Sometimes. that other grass may appear to be greener but you may not be able to see why and maybe if you did, it wouldn't look so appealing. So, my suggestion for me and you is to enjoy your own grass. Be content in it and honor what you have been given. Let your bad self be allowed to flourish...

the fisherman...

He works hard.
Mostly 7 days a week.
He is on call 24/7 when the plant is running.
December 23, 2008 - he will have 42 years at this job
and a minimum of 2 more to go.

He is a man from a different era.
Being available for the job is all he knows.
He has missed birthday parties and Thanksgiving dinners
and now it is starting to bother even him.

He is kind of like a kid,
you never know when he may be paying attention.
He doesn't say much, but today after being laid off for 2 weeks,
the thought of going back, makes him physically ill.

They called today and he was on call to go if they couldn't figure it out,
but he didn't tell me and said, let's go fishing... so we did.

We also hit the Mall and had dinner at PF Chang's.
Someday, we will get to choose what we do,

The first day back is always about putting out fires that have been allowed to burn,
and the rest of the week will be a logistical nightmare.
There will be long days and little sleep.
The phone will ring in the middle of the night,
that annoying Caribbean music that is really loud so we can hear it.

So I take this photo and will get it out for him when the going gets rough,
and remind him that Someday, it will be all about the fishing...

let your light shine...

We all have a natural disposition toward being comfortable turning inward or breaking out in outward song. Whatever our natural inclination is, letting our light shine everyday is something I perceive, that we need to consider.

I live with Mr Grumpy. I know it, he knows it and last week as we talked about it, we were in agreement that it was unlikely to change, ever. I wasn't thinking about the light shining thing then but as I am now, I don't know that you have to have a non-grumpy persona to let that light thru.

My definition of LYLS is more of a word picture. Light shining thru an old wooden fence, for those of us further Down The Road. Children come with much light and somehow, we seem to lose it as we grow older. Somewhere we got the message that it must look silly, that we must grow up or our or worse, that it is no longer a valued adult trait.

Whatever LYLS looks like for you, think about if it is something that we should do because it is the right thing to do while we are living our lives.

Do we owe that to each other?
Is it part of our spirtual journey?
How would it look if alot of us saw potential value in pursuing it?

This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine
Let it shing
Let it shine.

seeing the world...

I saw this while blog cruising but I can't remember where. I do remember that she lives in Australia and those high heeled feet belong to her. Global- minded being nowhere near my mental default, I tend not to think about these differences on a daily basis but when confronted with this kind of imagery, I am floored.

My need to know rarely goes outside of the borders of the USA. I probably learned the most I have ever known outside of my country when we had exchange students and their families to share their worlds with us but even then, I still had very little true interest. It was like watching someone's home movies of their trip to Yellowstone - pass the popcorn, PLEASE.

These days, a photo like this will make me want to know a bit more. If God ever calls me to the mission field, He is going to have to send put it in a really BIG envelope. However I believe in miracles and it is not beyond what is possible. It is still not to late for a burning desire in me, to want to go but certainly not with today's attitude. The whole Dive thing is still in my head and I think God is the coach and if it needs to happen it will - really never spend much time thinking about the What's If's when it comes to spiritual gifts. Living in the Moment is about all I can do.

I am going to keep these photos around for me to see. To remind me that God is in charge of a big world with lots of people living lots of different lives. There is more to see, if I am only willing and with these photos, I am willing...

friday night...

July 11... Jim Houser, Steven Curtis Chapman's manager announced in early June that the family decided to Save the Date for returning to the concert stage. As I prayed for them, I couldn't help but think how it would feel when they walked out on stage for the first time since they lost Maria. The Chapman boys would hit the stage together - can't imagine they didn't feel the crowd's Love.

Jim updated his blog 13 times that night with pictures and Stories from Wisconsin that let all of us in on what it might be like to be there. As I read each entry, over and over the theme was the same. They believed what they have been singing and playing. How difficult for Will Franklin, I worried about him the most. The next night, in Michigan seemed to be a bit more difficult - SCC had a hard time making it through Cinderella. Tonight they are in Nebraska, playing to a full house.

One of Jim's entries Friday night was the set list of songs for the night. They decided to end the concert with Dive which seemed so appropriate if all is well. To come back from where this family has been living for the last month and a half seemed impossible but you couldn't do it if it wasn't true.

Blessings tonight guys - blow the socks off those Nebraskans. Preach it from the stage, give Him the glory and may we find that same strength for our own lives. Thanks for leading the way...


Sometimes all a person needs is a little walking around time to clear their head. It was Keaton's request that we head for the Big City and walk around. We had a wonderful time. Much to see - lots and lots of energy. People strolling, business people working and we were just talking it all in.

The downtown hot dog vendors were gone. I missed that memo. There used to be no less than a 1/2 dozen of them making the best hot dogs in the world. No one seemed disappointed to eat at PF Chang's so our great day continued on. We dropped off mommy, Gage and Miss M and took Keaton to see Prince Casptian at the movies. We returned home to have the dinner that the Birthday Boy requested, complete with a yummy, if I must say so myself, Peanut Butter Cup chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling and PB frosting. He also had a friend over for a sleep-over. Today, we are taking 5 kids to see the new Veggie Tale movie. We know how to throw a party and sometimes, they flow into the next day.

So, I am off for Day 2. This is the part of summer that I love the most. Carefree days, so childlike and fun. Just have to throw my hair in pigtails and off we go...

nine years ago today...

We will be out early today. It is all about the Birthday Boy and he has a full day ahead of him. A walk around Downtown and lunch with the fabulous hot dog vendor, TJ's. Then we will split up and papa and I will take him to see Wall-e. No longer wanting pizza for his birth day dinner, the boy asked for steak, mashed potatoes/gravy and corn on the cob. The day will end with a homemade Reece's Pieces cake complete with chocolate mousse and PB frosting. All in all, he will want for nothing.

Indiana Jones is his thing right now. Good thing he will be getting a ITunes gift card to download the theme song. It will fit nicely on his new IPod shuffle. Nine doesn't look like it did when I was a kid. Nine seems so much older but it is all relative and besides, you need a nine year old to help you play DS Guitar Hero. He is certainly earning his keep.

Happy Birthday, buddy. We could not be more proud of you. You are a wonderful boy. We will always think, you hung the moon. Get ready - we are on our way. Time to party!!!

Ca$h Cab...

If you haven't seen it, it is a great little game show that takes place in a taxi cab in NYC. You simply answer Ben's questions and win money. If you make it to your destination, you get to keep the money and get a free cab ride. Simple...

But just as Ben is ready to hand off your dough and you are ready to go spend it, he offers you a last deal. Double or nothing, he offers you a video bonus question only requiring one answer and you walk away with double your money or nothing.

This last part has taught me more about human nature than anything in the last few months. It has broadened my people understanding skills and reinforced that very little about human behavior is predictable. There are those who make up their minds immediately - before Ben is even able to finish giving them the FYI. Both ways - some talk about a bird in the hand - those to whom risk is a four letter word. In others, you can see their eyes light up, like they are in Las Vegas and nothing but going the distance is even a option. The tricky part is if there is a difference in opinion which usually leads to going with the safe option. The risk-takers seem to sense and respect the Code Red response of the non-risk takers. Risk-takers must be secure in knowing that they will get another chance to go with their natural instincts while the non-risk taker hopes to never have to been in that position, ever again.

This is what I have learned. We are all extremely different, more different than I could ever imagine. They may be millions and millions of thought processes instead of the less than 5 that I have imagined there to be. Meeting someone is an adventure, I want to remember that and be in their moment. Thans Ben and Ca$h Cab. Who knew???

the devil you know...

She said, I am afraid to go forward because the devil I know is safer than the devil I don't. Interesting words from a young one talking about self esteem issues. Got to thinking about how we perceive different things in our life.

Growing up, my perspective of the devil was a guy in a red suit, long tail, mustache - smoking a cigar with a face that looked like every male relative I have ever had. I had absolutely no concept of a devil who could and would mess up your life. I did not understand the concept of Flip Wilson's, the devil made me do it bit, even though I said it most frequently.

So later on, Down The Road, when I discovered that first, there was a devil, a real devil and second, that he had been an angel - I was confused. No red suit, no cigar, no way to explain those male relatives...or maybe the actions of the relatives made all the sense in this world.

I have seen bits and pieces of evil that have brought me to some kind of understanding about our world. One of the most poignant was watching a older couple literally run out of church while we sang about the blood of Christ. That memory will stay with me forever. It is an icon that has been substituted for the red-suited pitch-forked devil, just waiting.

While we it maybe true that we feel comfortable with the devil's that we know in our lives, we need to remember it is not an either/or. The is only one and will be for the duration of his allotted time. We have seen much and I dare say, we will see more. Hang on, this is not all there is...

start all over again ...

Went out to get my mail and Neighbor was sitting on his front porch and we started we chatting. He got hurt working on his car, now is is unable to to work. It will be along time, close to a year before he can fully return to work. He doesn't know how he is going to feed his family and is feeling a little low.

There have been a few times I have been able to share part of my Story with him and today, he got the chapter on unemployment. DD was eleven months old and the plant we both worked at was going on strike. We thought DH would have a job but a few minutes before shift change, he lost his job. We had nothing and did eventually, lose our home. We had to start all over again. It would be six years before we would buy our a home. It took us a long time to recoup financial and emotionally.

I finished telling him our Story and he looked at me and said, Thanks - I needed to hear that today. . We went on to talk about gratitude - this tattooed Harley guy taking it all in. Soon, we went back to our respective lives, both a bit wiser I think.

Life really is about starting over, again and again. In all areas of our lives, there are times, we have no choice. We have the ability to learn Something each time or we can dwell in the What Ifs. Dwelling there for any real length of time can lead to no good. The What Ifs will kill you. Neighbor has been hanging around there for a bit, hopefully he is ready to move on.

I hadn't thought about those days in a while. Those memories never go away and I walked away today with a sense that we may be stronger than we imagine. I love hindsight even after 34 years. We learn and then we start all over again. Not such a bad thing, when you really think about. Room for great potential...


Proud (proud) adj, the eighth definition reads like this, full of vigor and spirit. Ok, the first seven are all about self-esteem, honorable and magnificence. The point is, proud is highly subjective and what we deem to be proud of - maybe, we are off base more often then we think.

We all have a mental list of what makes us proud of each other. There are different lists for different people - we don't all start from the same vantage point but there is a common theme in all the lists. The thing is expectations get mixed up in the whole proud thing and the whole things gets a little blurry. If you are one who grades on a rather lofty curve and I think we all do, at one time or another - do you need to reset that bar? It is not unlike being in the moment, proud can be very simple.

You might think that I am being less than honest about being proud of this boy and you would be wrong. I am proud of his creativity, ability to take advantage of the moment and mostly, of his quickness. Being proud may mean to reset a focus or look beyond the obvious. I am also proud of this layout. It is honest and has almost-nine year old boy, written all over it.

Keaton, I am so proud of you. You have my wit, my sense of humor and my lightning fast speed. Don't ever change...


This is the photo I didn’t take of the woman who was just ahead of me, waiting in line at the bank. Since I was behind her, I got to see the back first. She was approximately 65ish, slim build and worn khakis Capri’s with a muted orange, pink and green tropical type shirt. I admit all these details came AFTER because I couldn’t get past her hair. She was completely grey. Her hair was in a long, thin braid that hit just the middle of her back, suggesting she hadn’t had a haircut in a long time but the sides and top of her hair were short and curly, suggesting a little hairdresser action, perhaps even done at home.

The part I couldn’t help staring at and I really, really tried… was her decorative touch. At the top of her head where there must have been some kind of ponytail holder but you couldn’t tell because she had two bows, a larger one on top and the smaller one directly underneath it. The thing so fascinating about these bows was their size. The smaller of the two, in bright pink, was about 6 inches long and had several folds of material that formed this huge bow. Which only would have seemed huge had it not been for the 8 inch florescent orange bow on top of the pink one. This one seemed to have a 3D effect but may only have appeared that way because of its giant size.

I tell you the truth, I could not stop staring. I kept finding myself Somewhere in the 70’s. Although I would not have gone in that direction during any era, I remember seeing these bows, usually in kids. I was completely captivated. There was an unusually long wait to do your banking that day so I was able to then, see the rest of her outfit.

She had confidence, I daresay she liked her look. She seemed in good health and appeared to be enjoying her day. I wanted to ask her how she got those bows in her hair and maybe the Story behind her look but even more, her confidence. There is a Story behind her look – would loved have asked her about it. Probably should have asked her about her confidence instead – would have done me the most good in the long run.