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.


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.


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 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...


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...


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...


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 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...