santa and me...



So Dh's friend takes us out to dinner last Friday night and guess who was at Chapala's? I guess I imagined that Santa would have bigger fish to fry than to be greeting at a little Mexican restaurant in our little town but he talked to us like we were old friend. This just makes me smile. That I got him to sit with Santa is such a big deal. Oh my.

This man has worked 7 days a week for quite a while not. Excluding a few frantic days at Thanksgiving, he has not had a day off since the first of July. He had been working toward getting some help the last month and the powers that be decided that this was the weekend. He has a very physical job. He crawls on top of railroad cars, days and nights and works in environments that most of us wouldn't even walk through no less, linger.

I worry about his physical health along with his spiritual health. That all disappeared when the tears started flowing at church after Oh Come Let Us Adore Him. We each have a Place where emotions are raw and feelings run deep. As long as one can access that Place with little difficulty, all is good.

Coming down to the wire now. The parking lots of all stores are filled and finding a spot is tough. I will try tomorrow to not only brave the crowds but hope to make a friend or two. Went to a My Favorite Things party at DD's tonight and as we each shared, there was a camaraderie that wouldn't be there any other time of the year. The word, Magical was used several times. It is in the air.

Merry Christmas my dear friends. I love you all. May you and yours enjoy these Days that are overflowing with much of everything. If there is any empty place at your table this year, remember the good times and make new memories. Blessings and will see you next year - Jan 3. love zalaine.

the giving tree...



Went to DD's church today. Eric Clapton's favorite guitarist, Caleb Quaye. Have heard him before at their church but this time, he was all about Christmas music. It was amazing and we have been listening to his CD all day.

Speaking of his cd, I was making my purchase and the guy ahead of me was told he better have exact change because, well, just because. He didn't have enough small bills so I told the lady add his to mine. He didn't want to and gave me what he had. He and his wife told me they would find me next week and give me the rest. I told them I was just visiting and Merry Christmas. It was the right thing to do, no matter what time of year.

I noticed when I walked in that the foyer was filled with food. Boxes it this and cases if that filled the floor an spilled over in other nooks and crannies. When I headed into the church, there to the left was one large tree. Under the tree, wrapped all around the tree in layers, were shoes. All different kinds. All different sizes. Neatly stacked pairs of shoes. I was in awe of them. I imagined where they would go and what they would see. I wonder about those who would receive them and what their Stories were.

Pastor Doug talked about receiving and how you have to receive from God before giving to others. He likened it to holding unopened mail in your hands. Until you open it, you haven't received it. You own it but that is not the same as receiving. It was a wonderful way to end a most wonderful service and when I left, I stared at the shoes again. Twice. What a sight. What a gift. Man, I love Christmas. Now, if we can have these great ideas in December, nothing says we can't in January. Let's give it a try...

tidings of chaos and jail...



Those warm fuzzies feelings of peace on earth, goodwill toward men is officially over. We have entered and will stay in the crazy stage between now and Dec 25.

Every year, we vow to do things differently and we REALLY mean it but when chaos comes in, we all revert back to our familiar default with new intentions for Next Time.

Due to no fault of her own, DD finds herself hosting a party tomorrow night for the mothers of Miss M's preschool. It wasn't suppose to be this late or at her house but here she is. I knew that trying to have a non family party on Dec 21 for 50 women was at its best, a huge undertaking and that the numbers would be few but what I didn't' see is that because of the numbers the venue would have to change because of finances and because she lived in town, the hosting would fall to her. In turn, her DH will have to take the kids out for while all this merriment is going on. A big deal for all of them, not to mention all the preparation of food and house.

The men in her life helped by doing some touch up work and I will be there in the AM to put the finishing touches on the decorations and the refreshments before heading home to enjoy the fact that there is no hosting going on at my house. Let's face it, for most of us - hospitality doesn't come naturally. Whether your think your home is not big enough to not having the money for extra food/drink, hospitality is a chore. It really is too bad - most good people don't care how big your house is or if the entree is spaghetti made with Prego. They are just excited to be invited to the place you call home. Eating with people is a Big Deal. Jesus did a lot of socializing and eating. It is a privilege every time someone invites us into their personal space.

I am very proud of my girl. She took a less than ideal situation all around and will provide a warm and wonderful place for the few that will come to her home tomorrow night. I hope they walk away with a little part of the warm fuzzies she has put together so when they get back to their personal spaces, that they too may experience tidings of comfort and joy for themselves...

hope...



I bought this little hope sign a month ago and got it out last Friday when we were taking Christmas pictures of the kids. Since that night, every time I turn around, I see hope. Not literally but have been inundated by the theme of hope.

Hope never felt like a good thing to me. From my perspective, hope equals a lack of belief. If one believed, hope would not be necessary. Seeking hope would be a sign of weakness and that would be something to avoid at all costs.

Wiktionery defines hope as The belief or expectation that something wished for can or will happen. . Sounds a lot like a miracle to me. Maybe my perspective is out of whack. Thinking I need to redefine hope in my sphere of understanding or at the very least, try to link hope with miracle.

I do so believe that there is so much out there that can and will happen. Out of my control but not my understanding, my perception of what is possible, grows everyday. Through connections and relationships of people I see, the excitement of the possibility lived out through those around me and the growing sense that there is much to be experienced if I am only willing.

You could say it is because of the holidays and the emotion of the Season but I choose to believe that come January - I will still be singing the Song.

kids and Christmas...



If we could all semi agree for a few seconds that at least some of Christmas has to do with a child why is it that the only kids program I will go to this year is a school functioned one? While she was the cutest partridge in a pear tree you have ever seen, I feel like I am missing something.

If churches don't see the validity of a Christmas program with children, I am not sure I want to go there. I have heard all the arguments or mainly one. Nobody wants to take on the responsibility of organizing and implementing a kids Christmas program. I will tell you if I had an ounce of musical ability, I would take my turn. While I did once consider a career as a professional hummer, I didn't get very far. I didn't realize at the time that there was not a demand, at all for hummers. I was good, I knew it but sometimes it is just not enough to be good, or even very good.

Miss M could not have been more excited about tonight and the smile on her face tells the whole Story. She marched up on Santa's lap and told him what she wanted with no hesitation what so ever. It was a glorious night and she had a cheering section that was second to none. We took up a pew and 1/2. She wanted to invite more but her mommy explained that other kids had families too. She took it like a pro.

With the background of the cross, these kids belted out the songs they had loving learned and practiced with Miss Brandi and Miss Shelli. They sang their hearts out and we clapped until our hands hurt. If you don't see the child in Christmas, go looking for it. It will change your perception of what the true meaning of Christmas is. and a child will lead them. Let yourself be lead...

serendipity...


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serendip - ity 1.An unsought, unintended, and/or unexpected discovery and/or learning experience that happens by accident and sagacity.

I was reading an article this morning about serendipity. Not a word that I think of in the colder months - not sure why. Seems like a spring/summery type of word but its definition is pretty joy. The article likened it to looking for a certain book and finding a fabulous book, by accident. The article also explained that you had to look for serendipity. Eyes and heart open, always on the look out for what is in the midst of what we think, is.

Heard these guys last night on The Sing-off. Singing Bon Jovi's, Livin On A Prayer , acapella style blew me away but not the judges. They were the first ones voted out of the 8 group acapella competion.

I caught the promo for this show by accident. Should have been watching The Closer in my Musinex stupor but instead I was experienced serendipity this fine Monday night. Wow.

Tomorrow night is Miss M's Christmas Program at preschool. I know what to expect. She couldn't be more excited. She has invited people that have no idea they were invited - she wasn't allowed any phone calls. I can guarantee it will be a intended and expected discovery. I can also guarantee a few tears. But, for the Moment - I am totally into serendipity. Wow...

loved...



Lisa Leonard makes the greatest jewelry. I expect to own one of her pieces next year. She hsa the cutest tree trunk necklace that you can put you and your man's initials on. She also has some great Mother's Day pieces but I am getting ahead of myself. 2010 is still 17 days away,

After the order deadline for Christmas delivery, she came out with this little jewel. I know she probably saw this one as a wonderful gift from one's loved one. It occurred to me that each of us should have one of these. More than just a pretty little necklace, what a wonderful reminder that we are loved by God.

Imagine, really understanding and more to the point, living like we were truly, utterly Loved by God. I imagine that everyone who would do this - would be life changing. All those insecurities, doubts, misgivings, worries, effort and time could be redirected into some more productive. Something that would be better for our lives and change the way we see the world we are trying so desperately to navigate through. This necklace would be a constant reminder that the Love is there, now forever. It is complete. We have been infilterated with the Love of the only one who is constant and true. Along with Death and taxes, you could include Love.

How would that change me? What would happen first? Is it possible? I think it is. While I don't believe in New Year resolutions, this one may be worth a try in January. I have embraced way less ideology that has been life-changing, imagine something of this magnitude. If I beleive that I am loved completely, Somewhere along the line I will get it, that so do you. My neighbor, the family parked next to me at the store and those I haven't met yet. It also would include those I imagined would never qualify.

I may have to put the tree trunk necklace on hold for a while, this one needs to be hanging around my neck. I have such a bad memory, I need to remember.

Dec 13...



No problem, we still have almost 2 weeks until Christmas. I can now say, I am done shopping and wrapping. Every year I have had separate colored paper for Keaton, Gage and Morgan. This year, every package has the same paper, bow and tag. I didn't realize what a stroke of genius this really was until this weekend. They were here for the last two evenings and it was driving them crazy. By the time they left Friday night, all the tags had been turned over trying to see which ones belonged to them. We were trying to take a Christmas picture and had moved furniture and gifts so they took an opportunity to check out sizes and shapes.

Last night there was no present searches - but they were still ready for Dec 25. I understand their pain. I don't like surprises and have been known to open and re wrap. Not something I am proud of but it is the way I roll. This year, everyone will have to read the name on the tag - even Morgan recognizes her name and her brothers. The days of pink, green and blue Christmas paper are gone.

For most of us, this coming week will be filled with some kind of holiday events so we can save next week for Christmas chaos. We have Miss M's school program on Tuesday and I have my annual Shopping trip with a dear friend where we conquer more in 1 day than most do in a week. Power shopping with a little Fa La La La La thrown in for good measure. Whatever the week brings for you, I wish you peace and hope...and a bit of twinkle, just because.

Dec 9...



Around this time of year, we are reminding about every 2 1/2 minutes from every source of media available to man - how many more shopping days before Christmas. The only logical conclusion one can come to is that they are trying to whip us into a frenzied state of buying awareness and how inadequately prepared we are for the Big Day.

Really, you have to subtract one day because while you can shop on Christmas Eve - to keep any sense of sanity, you should be winding down. Many years ago, DH had a second job delivering and setting up water beds. One year, he had to work on Christmas Eve. I was unhappy. Ok, that is an understatement. Brandi was a baby and I had to spent the evening at my inlaws - not the best of times. He showed up at home long after our little girl had gone to bed. He was apologetic and even brought me a home decor statue from the waterbed store. It didn't help and I was less than thankful. I was so mad I couldn't get pass what he was going for our family or that he had his Christmas Eve meal at some local greasy spoon between deliveries. What kind of people wait until Christmas Eve to set up a bed? If I remember correctly, he had lots of customer issues that evening - people were not Fa la la la laing.

The waterbed store is still around and I bet Les doesn't schedule deliveries on Christmas Eve. He bought the store form the previous owner and had more than his share of delivery woes. He know of what he speaks.

If you can't do your shopping online, go out and conquer this weekend and when those pesky countdowns come you way, you can laugh a hearty belly laugh and go about roasting your chestnuts or maybe even time to think about the good stuff. The staying power of the One who gives us every thing we need just for the taking. Putting someone else before yourself, not just for the countdown days but into January, February and beyond. Forget about gifts - a kind word, a helpful hand or simply a smile. There is no countdown for the things that really matter...

family...



See, this and being snowed in is what happens when I have too much time on my hands. Yesterday I started wondering about Facebook and my family. My dad had two brothers and I sister. One brother lived in Idaho, the other brother and sister in California. I knew my uncle in California had passed away because his BIL came to our sale, and I got to ask some questions. He is a wonderful man, had a wonderful career with the ISP and managed to escape his own family's funk. We don't see each other, in fact he didn't even know where I lived - it was just a chance meeting. Anyhow,I found out about the passing of my uncle and the passing of my Idaho uncle's wife. There are so many reasons we are not close and crazy is the lowest one on the totem pole but none of that stopped me yesterday when I decided to see if any any of my cousins were on FB.

I really wanted to find my Idaho cousin. I had some contact with my uncle 10 years ago then nothing and when I tried to find him, all info was gone. I knew JoDean Faith would know and I knew with a name like that, either she was there or not.

She was not. Either were my California aunt's kids but I did find 2 of my deceased uncles kids. This was the uncle I spent many years with. It was this uncle who took my sister and I in when my dad was quarantined with suspected TB. I loved him like a father. Unfortunately he was crazy and I know the life his kids have lived because I lived it 15 years before they did. I lived with my uncle and aunt with Don was born and took care of him like he was mine. I was 15 and crazy about kids. He was a doll. The last time I saw him was almost 30 years ago and by then the family was completely stark-raving mad. To descibe those years and tell you one of the middle scary Stories was my dad, his girlfriend and my uncle and his family moving back here. After several months of living with me, and trying to start a junk business - my dad's girlfriend freaked out at a local 7-11, took off all her clothes and ordered the police out of the store. There was more but you get the idea.

So I get on FB and find my cousins Don and Sebastian. This is Don's profile picture, Sebastian's was artistic. Hard to believe but I didn't immediately send a friend invite. I sat there and stared at the screen for a long time. I walked away, came back and stared some more, Still not able to send an email, asking are you my cousin? He has my uncle's face, I know it is him - makes it harder.

Through out the evening, I went back and stared more. I am somewhat ashamed to say if he had been in a three piece suit and said he was an accountant, I would have felt no hesitation to send an invite. He is 43 or 44 years old. The ring in his nose rivals one of a huge coffee cup. Along with that and the way he was raised, I don't want to know anything that bad. I am not proud of the way I feel but for now, it is what it is.

In the light of Today, I still feel the same. Let sleeping dogs lie. Sometimes, the answer is no...

miracles...



Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire took a twenty-minute helicopter ride over Manhattan. Then he sketched the entire skyline from memory. Every building was correct and drawn to scale! He's also done panoramic memory drawings of Tokyo, Rome, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London. A cup of Joe.

Christmas isn't just about giving and receiving. It is also about miracles. We never understand miracles. Can't explain how, when or why. We scratch our heads and wonder if they are real. Oh, they are really alright.

Miracles all have the Big Bang effect even if we are unable to see it. A small miracle has the same bang as a small one, the only difference is our perception. I never use to enter anything. Would go out of my way, refusing to under the assumption that I would never win. While I have not been on a contest entering binge, my anthem now is, Someone has to - it might as well be me.

While that may not seem like a Big Deal, you can't imagine how it has impacted my life in non- miralce ways. It has spilled over into my understanding and I can see the difference in myself.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is 4HIM's, What A Strange Way To Save The World.

Sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him
'Cause never in a million lives
Would he had dreamed of Bethlehem
And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel come to life
And Joseph said...

(CHORUS)
Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade
Why Him, with all the rulers in the world
Why here inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she's just an ordinary girl
Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world

To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He deserved
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth
But Joseph knew the reason
Love had to reach so far
And as he held the Savior in his arms
He must have thought...

(CHORUS)

Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world
...this is such a strange way to save the world...

Miracles, I look for them every day now...

looking for Love...



Beginning of December and someone is riding a bike. With a fake flower. Did I mention it is December? It is not warm, you might even describe it as butt cold. Whose has a bike with a fake red flower? I wanted to know but short of parking myself by the cold front door, I would never know.

We all think we know best. What to eat, where to shop, the perfect job and where to find love. I will agree,sometimes it is easy and right in front of us but we mostly take family, friends, jobs and homes for granted. If we have lots of comforting Love in our lives, we may stop looking all together and miss something special.

Love is not an lifetime commitment. Sometimes it comes in short bursts. Sometimes it is just for a season or a Moment. Just when you start to get comfortable, it is gone. That is not a bad thing. When we change our persception of what Love must look like, we open ourselves to a whole new world. A world where love comes in many different shapes and sizes and all we have to do is know when to hold on tight and when to let go.

So I am leaving the coffee shop and so is the owner of the bike. A college age student who has a smile on his face as he drives off. No hat but a scraf to keep him warm. Would love to ask him why but am happy to accept the Love and enjoy the day. A little Love on a cold day, sounds pretty great to me...

focus...



There is quite a bit of focus around me and I am living being able to get a 360 view. Since the Pink Glove dance, I am proud to say that due to multiple replays, Miss M now knows the words to Jay Sean's, Down. She is somewhat obsessed with the hospital video and Hudson, but Hudson is a Story all of its own.

What do you think the chances might be of walking in a store and finding a Three Wise men Kit? I would have said slim to none but now I am a believer and Gage has added to his Jesus kit. Three different shaped boxes filled with spices and gold. As he wrapped it in the car, he said to no one in particular, This is the best day ever. He has not talked about what he wants for Christmas - his time is focused on his Jesus kit. I can only tell you, this is a wonder to behold. He thinks, eats, sleeps the Jesus kit. He is collecting nativities like you would not believe. And a little child shall lead them...

While I am following him on his journey, I notice I wan tot have the same passion he feels. That may be unrealistic because being a Big Person makes you cynical and less able to focus. There are focused adults but they are different. Focused adults are not the same as focused kids. I try to avoid focused Big People, they scare me. They not only don't live in the Moment but most likely wouldn't know it if it fell on them.

Christmas is different for me this year, in a good way just don't have a good handle on it yet but I am open and keep heading down bunny trails, looking. Looking forward to another week of Advant, with my eyes and my heart, wide open...

Pink Glove dance...



Made me laugh, then cry....Maybe I would like to be a janitor, they seem to be pretty good dancers!

naughty or nice...



I always knew the score with Santa and because I was the kid that everyone wanted their kids to be, I never worried much about coal in my stocking. The truth was I thought Santa was rewarding me for living with the family I had been given.

ANYTHING was possible with Santa. He might even wake me up and take me back to the North Pole with him where I could live the good life. Imagine my despair when I found out the truth. That those I wanted to get away from, were in charge of my destiny at Christmas.

When I grew up and the baby Jesus entered my Big Picture, ti couldn't have been more of a shock. Santa has his own Pole, this baby didn't even have a home and he was a baby. How does one wrap their brain around the Santa who cares and knows whether you are naughty or nice and the baby who would give up his life and hold nothing against me.

Coal, oh it's real alright. I have seen it at Walmart. Growing up I remember boys bragging that they got coal but I imagine that it wasn't the Walmart kind. How does a child reconcile Santa and Jesus?

My point of reference this year is Gage. He seems to know about coal but thinks he will charm Santa and has no worries. On the other hand, having the Jesus kit around ( his definition for a nativity) seems to fit in his area of understanding. Keaton has a clue about Santa and this may be his last year lving vicariously thru Santa. Whether he shares what he thinks with Gage, is yet to be seen. What would Gage's response be? Would he be infuriated or take it in stride? I imagine the boy will have some questions about whether Jesus is real if we were less than honest about Santa. That is one conversation that I would love to sit in on. Will see how it goes.

Aren't you glad that your Christmas doesn't have to depend on your behavior. If I made a list, one column naughty and one nice - Not sure I would have much to brag about. Coal could be a real option for me. It's not just about what happens to us this Christmas or the next or the next. It's about that helpless baby and the Bigger Picture. I just need a Jesus kit to remind me of what Christmas is about and enjoy the holiday time. As for the coal, I'm just not that worried...

StoryPeople

While the sugarplum vision is swirling around in my head, I need some RealLife perspective. I discovered StoryPeople a while back and can't seem to get enough fo these little gems. I scrap with them and I live them. They make me a better person and are pushing the creative button in a good way. I heart you StoryPeople...

I think you love people until you get to understand them, she said & I said, what happens then? & she said, o, that's when you move away.

If there is any secret to this life I live, this is it: the sound of what cannot be seen sings within everything that can. & there is nothing more to it than that.

How hard is it to make stuff up? she said. Not hard at all, I said. The real trick is knowing to stop before you get confused

She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short.

I used to be pretty clear on what was real & what I made up, but with everything going on in the world, none of that seems to matter, so I just decided to talk less & smile to myself more, so as not to add to the general confusion

Each night, all the years we were growing up, she sat in the big yellow rocking chair & pieced together our lives with countless stitches of her silver needle.

When do you get to be a grown-up? she said. When you can read & write & lie without laughing, I said & her eyes got big & she said she didn't know it was that hard

I always wanted to invent something that would move around & make funny noises & would change the world as we know it & I forgot all about that until we had kids & now I see I came pretty close.

Is there a lot of stuff you don't understand? she said & I said pretty much the whole thing & she nodded & said that's what she thought, but it was nice to hear it anyway & we sat there in the porch swing, listening to the wind & growing up together.

My grandmother was big & solid. My grandfather was tall & thin. They looked an unlikely couple. I asked them once how they ended up together. My grandmother said she won him fair & square in an arm-wrestling match. My grandpa just smiled. I let you win, he said.

Are you a princess?I asked and she said, I'm much more than a princess but you don't have a name for it yet here on earth.

My favorite thing is being your lap while we sit there together and love the whole world.

and my favorite one to date,

You may not remember the time you let me go first or the time you dropped back to tell me it wasn't that far to go or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up. You may not remember any of those times but I do and this is what I have to say to you...Today, no matter what it takes, we ride home together

ponder...



While the Christmas madness has started, the craziness of Thanksgiving weekend has passed and the feeling of chaotic frenzy has not arrived. Cyber Monday apparently was a big success - sales up 20% over last year by 1PM, how do they know that already?

We spent Thanksgiving Day at Grandma Sue's like we always do and just before dinner, there seems to be a little lag time. Time to ponder and consider what the day will bring. You just grab a seat wherever you can and wait for someone to say, Dinner's Ready!

This year, Keaton said the prayer before dinner. It was a wonderful, intense prayer. There is a varied mix of beliefs in our gathering but if you walked away not understanding what the young man was trying to say, you weren't trying - not one little bit.

We went on to dinner, games, movie and bed for our 330AM wake up call but his prayer has echoed in my ear for the last few days. He understands that to praise God from whom all blessing flow. He gets is on a different level than his brother who is into his Jesus Kit. Make no mistake, by choice - God is a big part of their lives. They talk about him all the time and in ways, I would never dream of. I pay attention, I learn alot.

Starting tomorrow, there are 25 days of Everything Festive. We are bombarded by the visual, print, USPS and everywhere we go. Every time we leave the house for the next 25 days, there is a good chance it will be Christmas-related. Because of that, we need to take a few Moments more than every now and then to refocus. Maybe ever say a little prayer or a big one. Mix the holiday with the Essential and see if it doesn't make a difference in my life. That is my journey this year and I think it is going to be fantastic...

Redbox...



Rent Date: 11/25/2009 1:44:18 PM
Return Date: 11/26/2009 3:19:08 PM
Total Nights: 1
Return Location: McDonalds 4412 Garrity Blvd Nampa, ID 83687-3142


It was last Wednesday afternoon and since I didn't have a houseful of people coming for Thanksgiving and it was my birthday, I headed down to Albertson where my Redbox is located, to pick up 2 movies I had reserved. Albertson's is the Redbox hot spot Three in a row, Machines A B and C, Usually, no line or much waiting. I had mine reserved at Machine A and lucky for me, that was the only one without a long line. I hit the button to bring up my account and because of some unknown glitch, I had three movies. 2 were the same movie and while I could have canceled the order and maybe got them again, I didn't. The police officer next to me was trying to get the saem two movies I was.

I told him, Here take this extra one, I know where to find you if you don't bring it back. His wife had sent him down with one of those free codes but it wasn't working. He asked me if I was sure and thanked me profusely.

I didn't turn my computer on until Saturday - hadn't been home in a couple of days from all the heavy hitter weekend warrior stuff and there it was in my email. $ Christmas was returned at MacDonalds on Garrity Blvd. I knew it would fine and if it wasn't, Redbox only goes to $25 and then you own it, whether you want to or not.

Would I have given the movie to anyone who had been standing next to me in line on that day before Thanksgiving? I would love to say yes but the truth is, the uniform and radio made me feel pretty safe. Later as I have come to think more about it, I need to take that $25 dollar chance on someone not in uniform. I need to take a risk or chance on someone else. Someone who comes with no built in guarantee perceived guarantee. Looks like 2010 might be an new year with new things to try. Looking forward to it...

quite the weekend...



and technically, it isn't over just yet. There is still today and tomorrow is Cyber Monday, the biggest Internet shopping day of the year.

While visions of sugarplums dance in our heads for the next 27 days or so, my thoughts have ran far ahead to January 2010. Can't say there is any special reason for it but I sure feel the pull that direction. After this weekend, maybe it simply has to do with a bit of rest.

With a birthday, anniversary, Thanksgiving and Black Friday - it is enough to put anyone over the edge. After a wonderful anniversary dinner of well, Thanksgiving, a pack of us headed to the movies to see Old Dogs. Then home for a few hours of sleep and out at 4AM to trip the light fantastic. 12 hours later, we were done. The BSU football game started at 8PM and after a quick nap - I powered up and stayed with them until the very end, around 1230 AM. Heard that Keaton hit his bed about 600PM that night and didn't get up until after 9AM the next morning. WOW.

DH and I spent yesterday together because when you spend your anniversary with about 20 people, you need to make it up somewhere. Had a great day yesterday and saw The Blindside. Great movie and you don't have to love football to love this movie. Yes, indeed - I might just have found me a new hero.

I woke up this morning and thanked God for this weekend. A long time friend of mine lost her short, intense battle with cancer last Sunday. Her birthday was on Thanksgiving. How hard it must have been for them with just losing their daughter/sister a few months ago. At her daughter's funeral, she told me she wasn't going to seek any treatment. She wanted to go be with her daughter who had suffered with cancer for a long, long time. Imagine that.

It has been a whirlwind of emotions too. So many Birthday wishes and gestures of love, almost too much. Three little people, balloons, cupcakes from ColdStone creamery showed up at my front door on Wednesday. They also brought a lot of Love with them. Quite a weekend? Yes indeed. Never do I forget, I am a lucky girl...

peace...



If you haven't experienced PS22, here is your chance. Don't know who their chorus teacher is but he needs to teach a class or two.

Journey, Queen, Tori Amos - these kids are being exposed to the elements through music and there is no better way. I found Jesus through music, I know of what I speak but before I found Jesus, I found a lot of other things.

Having gone to seances with my stepmother and experiencing a few non christian churches, it was more about curiosity than anything else. One church we went to in downtown Boise, can't even remember the denomination's name but it looked normal from the outside and even the inside but when the woman pastor started to preach, it felt all wrong to me. The only reason I kept going back was that they ended each service with this song, Let There Be Peace On Earth.

I don't believe in peace on earth. After reading the bible, it pretty much paints a picture that peace is not going to happen here, not in this life time but the song still brings back memories and tears. I have often said, I never felt the tug of God but after today, I may have to change my position. While still not recognizing who He was, I think there was a tug in my heart that was buried deep and unknown to me, to be used at a later date.

I do however believe in personal peace. A peace that defies logic or understanding so this song makes sense to me on that level. No matter was is going on around me, I am sure there is a place of peace that is available to each of us, for the taking.

With that. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Whatever you do, wherever you go, give thanks for all you have. Taking some time off and I will see you Sunday...xo me.

faith...



Faith is, in the same moment, both a belief and the response to that belief. Tony York.

Over this last few weeks and for a long time before that, I wonder. When push comes to shove, will I hold up. Will my faith crumble under the weight of disappointment or grief, or will I hold it up high and continue, one step in front of the other.

I think about it alot. Can one really practice faith everyday? Can you stockpile faith? If you build your faith on a pile of solid concrete, are you assured a good outcome? When I am surrounded by darkness and perceive there is Nowhere to go, do I lose everything I think is faith?

I won't the answer to these questions until the hard times come. God doesn't give us what we need until we need it. Maybe that is my answer, don't worry - when you need it, it will be given. At that point, it is up to you whether to accept and that is where the faith of your heart will decide which path to take. Realizing that life is mostly two steps forward and one back - less than perfect faith is ok too.

When I go to bed tonight, I will imagine the same scenario that I imagine a couple times a week. Having always had a fear of being homeless and watching my father like it, I imagine it is nighttime at a shelter. Imaging the noises, kids crying, snoring and coughing - I look over my choices of how I got here and if there is a way out. I feel the cold as it sweeps under my bed and the fear of the unknown person sleeping next to me... and I pray like I have never prayed before. I remember the home of my youth and the warm quilt that covered my bed. I remember my belly being full and my socks having to holes for my toes to sneak out of. The remembrances go on as I drift to sleep. I don't know what all this means but I keep doing it.

I don't want to build a moat around my faith. Nothing to protect it from the elements. I want it to stand on its own. Wind, fire, give me everything you've got. That is what I say now, let's see what happens when Real Life kicks in. Let's just wait and see...

nesting...



It is snowing outside, and I am inside - warm and cozy. Frank is still singing and I am still listening.

My favorite week starts tomorrow and it is a short one. Three more days to steep in the thankfulness that surrounds me. It has been a good month but as all good things go, it is time to move on. It is time to live some of all the thoughts that have been running through my head the last few weeks.

The craziness of Christmas has already begun,. Maybe even earlier this year, there are fewer dollars and retailers are ruthless. the commercials are what is getting to me right now. Beautiful wrapped gifts, puppies with red ribbons tied around their necks and the food. Visions of peppermint bark are dancing in my head. Did I mention the snow?

But before we all race ahead into the 25 days of Christmas, I am going to enjoy these last few unhurried days. I am going to keep my eyes, ears and especially my heart open and take it all in. Everything I can get my hands on, hold on to it and pull it out in the next month when I need it... and make no mistake, I will need it.

I will forget about these nesting times and be in a sea of wrapping paper and wonder how it will all ever get done? Miss M asked me if I was going to come to her Christmas Preschool concert? I assured her, nothing could keep me away. The church no longer has a child's Christmas program - no one want to head it up. Quite sad, not sure I want to be affiliated with any church that doesn't have a kids Christmas program. I think they are missing the Big Picture.

I will make nesting time in the next month because just like Miss M's program, nothing could be more essential. The older I get, the more I see that essential is more than important. At the end of the day, what could I not live without? What will have to go by the wayside?

The snow has stopped for now. It is suppose to come back and I will be waiting. Nowhere to go or anything important to do but if something essential comes my way, I will be all over it...

lovin spoonful...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Maria Shriver
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating


I have had a envious relationship with the Kennedys forever, I have wanted to be one. Not for their money or influence but for their family life and deep-rooted philosophy of community. Special Olympics would not be the force that they are today if not for Eunice Kennedy and now, Maria Shriver.

Choosing to care about your fellow man, outside your bio gene pool doesn't come naturally. It must first be instilled and then encouraged. Like most things in life, we have to keep bringing things to the head of the line because basically, we are shallow and have a short attention span. The sooner you accept this about yourself and the rest of the human race, the sooner you can make some changes.

Ice cream for Special Olympics is a fabulous idea. Ice cream for anything, I'm in. Maria has had a tough year. California has to be weighing heavy on her mind as she is Arnold's sounding board and despite those wonderful commercials, we all know the score there and it ain't pretty. With the loss of her mom and uncle in a short time this year and raising 4 children, she is a great example of what we can do if it is important to us.

Found a web site today, http://boomboomcards.com/store. Revolutionary acts for everyday life - an uprising of gorilla goodness.

Become a cards carrying member of the Boom Boom Revolution! Do these 26 acts of guerilla goodness and change the world. Each time you complete a card, give it away to someone else so the revolution doesn't end.

The website allows you to follow your Boom Boom Card as it travels around the world. You never know where your one act of kindness will end up!


There is a Big People and a teen version - pretty cool. may not work for everyone but could be something fun for a family to do together. We don't all have the means to make ice cream but we all have the ability to care, What does that look like for me? for you?...

unfriend...



The technique is "unfriending", which was the New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2009 (actually it was "unfriend").

A year ago, this wasn't even word to us, now it is Something we are scared to do and mad when it is done to us.

I will admit, I have unfriended people on Facebook and Twitter. For many different reasons and it has been good thing. We can only take in some much information. There is no extra 40GB SDHC memory chip that we can pop in our brains to add more room. Our new social networking site have forced us to make choices because our brains are on overload. I still have two requests from those wanted to befriend me on Facebook that I am not going to friend in. I have no idea who they are, that one seems to be a no-brainer. When I stop following someone on Twitter, not sure they care like those you unfriend on Facebook. The Facebook people seem to get mighty angry when you choice to drop them.

We have been unfriending for years but it has been in person and much tougher. We have also, all been on the other end of being defriended. It is all a part of life. Sometimes we are banished for good, sometimes we are just moved to a lesser role, like one of an acquaintance. Either way, it happens and we deal with it. when you think about it being unfriended may be easier to deal with. then you have the being added as a friend which comes with its own baggage.

Of all the words that made the rounds in 2009, unfriend was the best/most used/popular. Really?. That should tell you Something about where we have been and more importantly, where we are headed.

What I do know is that we are a limited people with limited skills, brain power and motivation. The older one gets, the more you understand that life is precious and you have to put your time in the Cherish bucket. No room for all the drama that is brought on by ourselves or others. Time to move on, life is too short. A little bit of everything won't hurt you but when you reach an oversaturation point in your life and you are aware of it, time to do Something about it. I would have voted for oversaturation, whether it was a new word or not. Seems that unfriending and oversaturationg might have quite a bit in common and it may not be such a bad thing to be unfriended. You might have a whole bunch of time to do something you love with all your newfound time. In fact, go ahead and unfriend me, I won't mind a bit...

giving...



Fall is quickly turning into winter and Something about that and all the holiday abundance, we human turn into giving machines. As soon as the red kettles come out, we are ready to grab our wallets and let the giving begin.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that we become aware of our fellow man and the need to make sure that everyone can have a retail-inspired Christmas. There is nothing quite like the generosity that we display between the middle of November and about December 23. Last weekend, the Boy Scouts kicked off their holiday food drive at Walmart and there was no storage of volunteers. It was strange to see so many people with no Two for One sales going on.

I really don't think we give out of guilt - we give because it is a magical time of year. We are feeling festive and the wrongs done by our fellow man, seems to have faded away. We take on the official motto of a Barbie and GI Joe under every tree. I know because I have already gone down that road.

We have a family in our neighborhood who have had as many yard sales as weeks they have lived on my street. She saw me outside on day and asked what day the trash was picked up. Not particular friendly, they keep to themselves and are quite busy with those yard sales. Last weekend, it was freezing and they had the same stuff out as the weekend before. DD and I have done the secret santa thing and it dawned on me, this family should be ours this year and it looks like a go. But not for Christmas coming on, it wouldn't have dawned on me to give, to help out. We have lots of downtime issues ourselves and unemployment doesn't go that far - my natural inclination would be self preservation but since we are in the magically time zone, my mind is racing trying to figure out what secret santa will do.

By the time December 26 comes around, we are all given out. The kettles are gone and so are our thoughts of helping out for another 11 months. Too bad, we don't see the Bigger Picture. Myabe this year, we should ask Santa for a big dose of seeing the Bigger Picture and making our own magic in the next 10 months...

hip hop violin...



Mr Demi Moore (Ashton Kutcher) pointed the way to Ms Lindsey on Twitter today. That lead me on a larger search of the idea of a hip hop violinist and that led me to Miri Ben-Ari and Paul Dateh.

Admittedly, I love hip hop. The sounds, not usually the words and when you add the violin which could not be more opposite than hip hop, you have Something that can really make you swoon.

You know what they say about opposites, they attract. Look at couples that have absolutely nothing in common, maybe it is because they share a side that their spouse never considered. Maybe the attraction is the new worlds that couples drag each other into. Same with food. Foods that you would never consider merging, become a whole new delight when combined.

DD and I have had a running dialog this weekend about raising children and we wildly differ. My idea is to let the kids know the consequences up front and then let them decide if the punishment is worth the crime. In her Love and Logic class they teach, never let the kids know the consequences ahead of time. Two opposing ideas and I think the answer is somewhere in between but she will have to choose for her children which is best. There has been great conversation and I have loved every minute of it.

I am thankful this weekend that I have people in my life that are yin to my yang and we still love each other completely. The best kind of friend you can have is one that doesn't agree with you but could not love you more. It is a total delight - like the hip hop violinist. Imagine that!

gratitude...



I am going through a Frank Sinatra phase. I'm talking serious. A $9/20 songs commitment. I have a few Old Blue Eyes crooners on my Pod but this is full out, dressed - I am heading back to the fifties.

There was no Frank played at home. We were a Louie Prima and Jerry Lee Lewis kinda of house. Nancy Wilson was there a bit and lots of blues were all well stock in our musical pantry. AFter my parents split for good, my uncle moved in and brought his crazy with him and we added Wilson Pickett, The Isley Brothers and Johnny Mathis to the mix.

DH and I went out to dinner the other night at a resturant that did not ask, would you like fries with that? He needed a big steak and I needed to hear Frank Sinatra playing in the background. At once, I decided I needed a new phase and I am now well on my way.

Editing photos to Frank is so delicious. I LOVE photo editing and when the music is right, wow. When you have pictures like this to edit and the person LOVES them - that is even more fun. Quite a night at my house.

In the midst of all this fun and frolic, there is always the flip side. The side of Real Life that you don't want to hear. The return diagnosis of cancer, or another job or house loss and at this time of the year, another empty place at the table but they too are a part of all of life, and they too, have to be given their due.

Starting this week with a renewed mind set and keeping Frank close by. The fifties were a gentler time. The world outside my home was a safer place to be than inside my home but now, it is different and I have the both of best worlds and I never, ever forget it...

show and tell...



N is for nana.

I was Show and Tell today.
not at Show and Tell but it. I was it.

When Miss M found out the letter N was the share letter, she picked me. Wow, she picked me.

Never a question or other candidate. N is for nana.

So I showed up at preschool and during Share Time was introduced to the class. We talked a bit about nanas and grandma and their roles in our lives. I explained that nana's usually had stuff in their pockets and pulled out some yummy pink lipgloss for my favorite preschooler. There was some talk about passing me around but we decided on high fives instead.

You haven't lived until you have been chosen as the S&T. You have got a lot of Love going on to be chosen. There are so many other ways she could have gone. Nose, nails, the number nine or nests. So many to pick from and she chose me. I am flying a little high, in case you can't tell.

Afterwards, she went off to a playdate and I went to Cabela's to do my Gage Christmas shopping. Pick her up a few hours later and together we went to pick her brothers up from school. A great day.

Gratitude doesn't begin to explain how I feel. I know how lucky I am and I am going to embrace every Moment of it. No time to be timid or humble. Nothing but love. In teh words of Sally Field's, They love, they really love me...

home...



Never did we expect to pay such a high price at home." -Lt. Gen. Cone at Fort Hood memorial

Home is suppose to be a safe haven. It is where we run to at the end of each and every day. Home lets us stop and get a bit of perspective before going out in the cold, cruel world...but when home turns on us, where do we go.

Coming from a place where home was anything but safe, I can tell you that you can, with a lot of work, make home safe again. The way I feel about home now is now, a good one. It is all the things a home should be and more. A place to talk, cry, confess and just be. A place for the tears to come and be healed. A place that in the Moment is one that I know the way to. It is also the Place that I understand the bigger meaning of Home.

The Home we will go to Someday. The home where there will never be a balancing act between good and bad. A place that will always be safe, always be exactly what we have imagined. Short of being in our real Home, the ones we have here, will do just fine.

I am not talking about furniture, or carpet or art. I am talking about those that make it a home. Where someone has taken it to heart, what a home should be.

There are 13 families today who never imagined that their loved one's would die in this manner. They were there to protect each and every one of us. Sometime home is not safe. Sometimes, home is cruel and is filled with unusual punishment.

Just a reminder that from Moment to Moment, we jsut don't know. When you get home tonight, look around and give yours a hug. A big hug...

blur...



Blessed are those who on a regular basis have a dark day in which despair seems to be a step behind them wherever they go.Rob Bell

I have learned to accept the fact that some of my photos are going to be blurry. I have also learned it is not all my fault. When you shoot moving children, that is just a fact. That is the way it is and the sooner you understand that, the sooner life gets better. You go through each batch, throw away the ones you can't fix in Lightroom and move on. It use to be like pulling teeth to throw these photos away. The What If scenario would play for days in my head. No more. I get it now. One less thing on the old hard drive.

The same goes for Real Life. In Real Life, the blurs are called expectations. Take people for example. We expect alot from people. People we know, people we love, people we admire and people, we don't even know. If you think about it, we really have no reason why we should. The first chapter of Genesis starts out nice enough but it goes awry in short order and goes down hill from there. The people that God chooses for what very well be the most important event of their lives, well, seem to screw it up more often than not. The blur has been there from the start but somehow, we choose to ignore it. It's not in every frame but you could play a pretty good game of Whack A Mole as it pops open pretty regularly.

I took several pictures of Gage and Keaton and Gage is blurry in every one. He was too busy checking out everything to have hsi picture taken but when he showed some interest in Slim Whitman, I had to pull out my camera. Gage thought Slim looked interesting but quickly lost interest in my explanation and had to move on.



That's ok with me.
I understand Gage
and blur...love them both.

Slim Whitman, not so much...

hope, Part 2

http://www.mycharmingkids.net/

This is what hope looks like. If you know Stellan's Story, check out MckMama's blog. Depair to Hope in one day. Never give up...

hope...



There is a strip mall church right by DD's house and right next to Sonic. Needless to say, I pass by there often. They do the cutesty sign thing that irritates me so but last week, I just couldn't shake it.

Jesus - an alternative to despair... Really, so let me get this straight. No Jesus, Despair everywhere and with Jesus, no despair. Doesn't sound right to me. There were daily Sonic runs last week and there would be that sign. We are a hit and run culture. Stop light attention spans, you have about 5 seconds to get our attention and then we are off to the next thing.

I got home and after being mad that this sign was ruining the whole human race, one sign reader at a time, I went over to Wikionary to see the proper meaning of the word despair even though I already knew what it was and it said,

despair To be hopeless; to have no hope

I stopped in my tracks. My definition of despair was a bit different. The sign was right, I still didn't like the working but it was right. When you choose to accept that Jesus is who He says he is, life doesn't automatically get better, in fact, it can and often does - get worse but the one thing that does come with Him is hope. Part of what He offers is hope. Not that everything well now be hunky dory (did I really just type that?) Everyone will be and stay healthy, bills will all be paid and husbands will remember anniversary's complete with flowers and a cellist.

The part that we need to take ownership of is to accept that we are no longer hopeless. That there is hope that Someday, it will all make sense. In that hope, our part is not only to accept it but live it. The understanding of hope is what made me do a 360 turnabout in capital punishment. It was a long process but I finally decided that because of the hope I had come to believe it, I could defer my revenge. That is how I feel now, I hope I always will.

Speaking of hope, Stellan is back in the hospital and surgery is going to happen soon. It is less than ideal and more than very scary. Stellan Story is one of hope that I have been able to sharing and learn about hope in the midst of what I thought was despair but isn't. As long as there is hope, despair can't be. It is one or another, no matter how the Story goes or ends - we get to pick which one we will live...

Shelbie Lynn...



It was over 15 years ago that Shelbie and her mom came to live in our home and hearts. We had no idea how much she would come to mean to us and because of a series of more events, she was destined to be with us for a short time.

As you can see, she stole our hearts. We were smitten. After staying with us, we would still see her when she and her mommy would move in with our DD. It was a wonderful time and I remember tell God, if I never got my own grandchild, having Shelbie in my life was enough...and I really meant it.

She was the delight of our lives and we couldn't wait for the next time we would see her. It was more of those wonderful Surprises that you don't see coming and are living before you realize it. By then, you are totally sucked in and loving it.

The last time I saw Shelbie's mommy was quickly in passing at the Extreme Makeover thing with Ty in Middleton a few years ago. So I knew which town she had moved too but we didn't get to exchange any more information. I had brief thought about wandering the streets of Middleton in hopes of running into them. With little information to go on, my idea quickly faded.

Friday's mail brought a card with the familiar handwriting that I instantly recognized. Remember the old days before email? You knew who your mail was from because of the handwriting, didn't even have to look at the return address, you knew. Inside was a wonderful card and pictures of Shelbie and her sisters. She is driving now, hard to believe and a soccer star. I sent off a card and pictures of Keaton, Gage and Morgan and hope that we will do a coffee run sometime and catch up. I would love that.

There is always someone to Love in this life. You never know who is going to come your way. The only thing you can do is be ready. Open your heart, take it all in and be ready for anything. Nothing last forever but Love...

Once in a Lifetime...





Imagine never having to imagine.

Wedding package for 50 guests.
Once-in-a- lifetime wedding ceremony inside the Magic Kingdom Park with Cinderella Castle as your backdrop
Private planning session with celebrity weddingplanner David Tutera
Custom-designed dinner reception, surrounded by Disney magic.
"Kiss Good Night" dessert party with decadent sweets and a spectacular custom- designed wedding cake
Magic Kingdom Portrait session, plus photographer and videographer for the wedding day.
Bridal couple enjoy four nights deluxe accommodations at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

All for only $198,000... oh, and you have to be a member of Sam's Club. Sounds like a deal to me - where do I sign up?????

observe...



As I watch all family struggle with sickness, I do it not only with a heavy heart but from a state of wellness. My crazy uncle use to say, You can't learn when you are talking - all you can say is what you know. He was correct. More to the point, we need to learn more and worry about what we can teach someone, less.

With that, shouldn't we observe at least as much as we talk? Shouldn't we learn at least as much as we try to instruct? Do you know it all or is there Something we can learn everyday?

We are still in the middle of much physical sickness. There is more time to observe and I am taking advantage of every moment. Whether waiting for a long time at the doctor's office while denying that one is sick, it was pretty easy to see that all was not well. You can learn a lot by just paying attention. You don't have to say a word or have one said to you. Actions speak louder than words. Instead of asking if anyone feels better, I am just going to watch them and find out for myself...

bits and pieces


Finally, the main reason I haven't been focusing on my blog is that I have been sweetly blessed and am so excited to tell you that I am, well....Angie Smith( Audrey Caroline's mommy)


It's interesting to see that people are much better at putting up with things that happen to them than they are at living with the consequences of a bad choice. Seth Godin

In a conference this morning, Dr. B and Dr. A in Boston (by phone, of course) told me and my husband that they both agreed that Stellan needs to go to Boston this week. We all agreed it was in Stellan's best interest, since he is stable, for him to get out of the hospital for a few days. He and I will leave via normal commercial flight on Thursday. Through that coming weekend, lots of things will be looked at and adjusted. It would be great to avoid an ablation, and if we can , we still will. But no one is entirely hopeful. If all goes in the direction everyone thinks it is going to go, then Stellan will have a cardiac ablation (again) on Tuesday morning, the 10th of November, by Dr. A and some of his electrophysiology colleagues. My husband will join us in Boston the Monday before the surgery. (Stellan and his mommy left the hospital today for a few days respite before leaving for Boston)

Seriously, has anyone seen my motivation? I've put up posters around the neighborhood offering a reward Facebook post from Ms Klein. I feel her pain.

From Twitter and Ali Edwards - One of Simon's spelling words this week: dude.

This year marked a milestone—not necessarily a good or bad one—wherein one of my children decided to hit the Halloween party circuit rather than stay-at-home, carve pumpkins and trick-or-treat with her ever-loving family,Cathy Zielske Inevitable change

Last but not least, Danielle - "Someone needs to tell her today," the social worker said, as I gathered my things up off the desk.

"I'm late for clinic," I replied, "and besides, this really isn't even my patient."

But the social worker was as persistent as he was right, and so, running forty minutes behind, I dropped my papers back onto the desk and went out into the hallway as the harbinger to the end of her world.

I took short, staccato steps to the room, and drug her out to the end of the hallway. Away from her husband, but by the window, and a chair. She sat, and I stood, knowing full-well that this was the worst way to do it, but not being able to help myself.

I started saying all the things I was supposed to say--all the truth we'd been holding up inside of us for weeks. The words charged out, tumbling across my lips, spilling down onto the floor, splashing around her feet and filling up the space in between us. I kept talking and didn't even take a breath. I knew, when I saw her eyes, that I had said enough, but I could not turn off the words. They just kept coming. As the tears spilled down her cheeks, the words streamed forth, creeping up to our chests, threatening to drown us.

When I was finished, she was speechless and the letters began floating dead around us, she hung her head. Shame squeaked underneath my wet shoes as I turned and walked away.


Life is made up of bits and pieces. Everyday we take in so much information. The hard part is trying to figure out what to throw away and what to keep. It will be a lifelong challenge and joy that will have to be lived in unison...

my favorite month...



It is my favorite month. It is not a calendar month, per se. It starts about 11PM Halloween and ends promptly at midnite Thanksgiving Day, whatever the date.

The reason? It is a whole month where gratitude is the main focus. For me, it is a precious time not only to look and be thankful for what and who are in my life but to add to what I already know about gratitude. It is a time to breathe. A time to reflect. A time to make nice.

Because of its place in the calendar year, we know that the Biggestness of the Year is right around the corner but for these heavenly 25+ days, we have little to concentrate on by each other. Nothing to plan, to shop for, to bake or decorate for. The weather still has some great days that I am certain, it saves just for this time. It make everyone like the color orange, even if just for a while. It is a time to let go and imagine what could be if we had a bunch of blank spaces in our lives. It is a month of sweaters, blankets, books and hot chocolate. It is also a time to take as much time as you need to get your head on straight. To figure out, yet again, what we really need, what is necessary - to separate the important from the essential.

Despite the sickness that we are now experiencing, I am so grateful that I can hold a sick baby for as long as need be. Nowhere to be, the only thing that really needs to be shopped for is food and gasoline, unlike last week when we spent over 4 hours in a ToysRUs store, holding on to our loot - waiting for a sale. In our defense, we did save over $100 and right now, none of us ever want to step foot in that store again.

My first day was the perfect start to my month. Quiet, picked up a few groceries and hit Sonic at Happy Hour. Worked on a few halloween pictures and swirled more than a few thoughts thru my mind. Food for thought, just the way this month should be...

H1N1...



has reared its ugly head in my family. Miss M has had it since Wednesday - no trick or treat and by last night, she wasn't showing signs of missing it. Earlier in the day, she had ralied but there would be no more bee costume for halloween 2009 - it would be replaced by comfy clothes. Happy to get the few shots that we did.
This morning the official count is everyone in three families is down except for me, nana's papa and Keaton. Grandma Sue who had a preplanned trip to Virginia left yesterday and by this morning, had been to the hospital, diagnosed with H1N1 and was told to spend her vacation in bed. I can't imagine being that sick and so far away from home.

Our Halloween was a bit on the less than partyish side but we had decorations, good food a few in costumes and we were together. Looks like we will be spending a lot more time together this week. I may be a bit hit and miss here but Real Life must go on and the last one standing is the new Florence Nightingale.

I guess my thoughts are we all need to step back everyone in a while and dive in. Making those who need too, take medicine and drink, drink, drink. This flu has frightened us all, especially since it seems to attack kids more than Big People. I have never had a flue shot and don't intend to. Despite my sometimes less than stellar care of this earthly body I have been given, it has supported me extremely well. It must be that 100% German in me that has a constant, "Bring It On!" unspoken policy that I am usually unaware of. It runs in the background and is always on, even when I am not.

I have spent a good amount of my time the last four days with Miss M on my lap. WE have watched lots of Calliou, World's Funniest Video and whatever else was on. Wrapped up in Grandma Dille's old quilt, we make the rounds. Drink, potty, paper towels for sneezes ( tissues will not hold what we are catching), taking temps and lots and lots of TLC. Wouldn't have it any other way, I was meant to play Florence Nightingale - it is my destiny...

experience...



Windows 7.
Got the opportunity to buy a upgrade this summer and I jumped on it. Vista and I have had our problems and I was more than ready to move on but the idea of upgrading and not getting myself in over my head bothered me ever since I pulled the trigger and told Best Buy to send a copy my way.
The UPS man brought it on Monday and it sat on the dining room table until I got the guts to to give it a shot. Everything was backed up, just in case and my experience has been that just in case is usually the default.

I put in the disk and pushed, Let's Go! My first issue was to uninstall my security software. Done, moving on - then I had to dump iTunes and reinstall later. Ok, iTunes backed up, downloaded a few tunes yesterday - didn't want to lose my 2 bucks worth of new music.

Then, there was the message that the new operating system did not have a email program and would support the one I had. After some searching, I downloaded the Mail program from Windows Live and it sucked in all my information. Big bullet dodged and onward and upward. The rest of the install went pretty smooth and to my surprise, I lost nothing and everything looked good. Later in the afternoon, I would find that the Flash Player was not compatible with the 64 bit system and had to revert back to the 32 bit (if you need help, let me know) and now I am ready to go.

I remember the days when there was no Google, no support and DH and I spent days trying to figure this computer thing out. I was pretty sure this would be the case but I was wrong. My old experience has been replaced by my new experience.

I like the idea of a less than perfect experience being replaced by a better experience. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities. What else am I missing? I need to explore other avenues in my life where a replacement is not only needed, but probably is right there for the asking.

None of us share the same Journey, only the path. I have not been in your shoes nor you in mine. On those rare occasions that we do share an experience, the results can be completely different, in some cases, polar opposites.

By sharing our Journeys, we share similarities that can be converted for our particular path. If you decide to upgrade to Windows 7, I hope your experience is similar to mine. If not, buy a new computer with 7 already installed. Walk your path...

side effects...



For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Isaac Newton.

We have all heard it and experienced it. I think side effects is a good analogy of action fall out. Get a bunch of people dressed alike, take their pictures and there is bound to be trouble!

Medicine - you either get better or worse.
Choices - it may go well or really, really bad.
Love - you take the chance, that your heart may be broken.

The quote alone, would make a normal person assume that doing any action - is not worth it. The idea of Something going wrong on its own with no action on my part brings enough anxiety without me adding to it. We aren't crazy about side effects. If you have ever had one, you will not soon forget it.

I marvel at these commercials for meds where the side effects are way worse than what the possible benefits are. Who in their mind would sign up for that?

Yesterday I discovered that the blond streaks I have been enjoying in my hair are grey hairs that when colored with an ash brown dye, look fabulous. A good side effect. Do you ever think of SE as a positive? Not me - chemotherapy is what usually comes to mind. Love it when a lesson learned is not what I expect. It tells me there is much more to learn...and unlearn. Everything is not as it seems and there are many more surprises to come. I just need to be ready and if I forget, all I need to do is look in the mirror...

where the streets have no name...



So it's about 945PM last night and I check into Twitter to see what is happening and what do my wandering eyes catch but U2 about to go live in concert on YouTube at the Rose Bowl. There would be no early nighty night for me.

Starting at 10PM and going on for over 2 hours, it was the most spiritual Moment of the week. There is Something about them that goes where no music dares to and when they started belting out, Amazing Grace - I lost it.

Think of it. Where The Streets Have No Name - sounds like heaven to me.
Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, is the anthem of my life.

I don't care how much you love Jesus, or trust Him or believe in Him - this side of heaven, we are not complete. It will not make sense, we will not find what we are looking for. The answers jsut won't come no matter how hard we try. No time to lay it all out and try to make sense of us to satisfy our need to know and that is ok. Maybe better than ok. Don't waste time trying to solve the unsolvable.

Still haven't found what I'm looking for... and I think when I do, the streets will have no name...

There's no place like home...



Ruby slippers - there not just for wishing, they look darn good too. Girls are about looking good while boys believe it is all about superheros. While they would seem to be miles apart I think they lead to the same journey. One that will carry us from place to place. One that gives us the lives we have because of the choices.

Regardless of that journey, on of the paths lead each of us home. Home, the place we rest, recharge and hang until its is time to go out and love the world again. It is where we think our deepest thoughts, veg out in the front of the TV and make the best frappuccinos ever. It is not about how many bedrooms and bathrooms we have, it is about making it a safe, inviting place for those who live there. It is making the best of what you have and appreciating it. Now, imagine not having a home.

In my town of over 80,000 there are 500 homeless kids in the school district.Last year, there were 149. There is also a new classification of families - car families. The truth is this is unfamiliar territory. Imagine trying to care about school when you have no place to live and not sure if you are going to eat. It makes me cringe and it makes me think about how I spend my money. The whole flu thing has been making me crazy last week. I am on Facebook and Twitter while there are people all around who have no way to tweet and if they did, what would they say? I am hungry, cold and have no where to study.

There's no place like home - Dorothy was right, she was oh so right...

fairy tale...



Once upon a time...This is exactly how I saw it in my mind. We had been waiting for a break in the weather and schedules to make it happen but last Thursday, it all came together.

We took 2 vans and packed it a bunch of props to make what we saw in our minds, come true in the forest. Miss M could not have been a more willing model. She was even more accommodating than Teddy. She had 2 shooters and did her best to give us, what we ask for.

Because Miss M and I also had a sleepover on Thursday, editing would have to come later. While popa and Miss M played, I got a peek at what was in teh camera and felt confident, that all was right with the world. I worked on some yesterday and already have one framed.

This is what childhood should look like. Like a fairy tale. Not devoid of chores and responsibilities but to have the ability to play, laugh and play. There is another set of pictures where Teddy has been replaced...by me. I knew it would have to be. Years from now, I hope Miss M looks at these pictures and see the love that surrounds her. The play that we all encouraged for her. May she know that the love her nana has for her is deep and wide. Smart enough to know that life isn't about fairy tales and that Sometime, it will be very hard but if she can keep herself open to the fairy tales when they come her way and enjoy them - she will be ahead of many of us...and they all lived happily ever after.

RJZ...



I was checking out the goods at Grandma Sue's garage sale this summer and came across this old suitcase. I thought it was cool and then I saw the initials - RJZ. I knew GSue's dad was Robert Zander so I asked it this was her dad's and it was. I grabbed it up. I couldn't let anyone else buy it. I needed to keep it for the kids, they have a strange attachment to this man they have never met but discuss quite a bit.

When Keaton was younger, he talked about him all the time. It was a bit eery - like the two of them were conversing. Keaton talked about him like he lived across the street. He died many years ago - of a heart attack while camping. My daughter never met him but the Stories have kept him alive to all of us.

So, I paid my $2 and brought the suitcase home. I am keeping it for the kids - not sure that they will be thrilled but don't want to miss the chance to keep this piece of their Story for them. His wife Gigi, is a delight to all of us. She has been in declining health but still, every time you see her, she is so glad to see you even if she doesn't recognize you. She misses her man and will be with him soon. We don't have any luggage of hers but we have had her around and many memories that will last forever.

If Morgan had been a boy, I suggested Zander as the name of choice. I think I had a pretty good chance of that happening and still thought it would be good when we found out she was a girl but it was not to be. We semi kid that if there were anymore Smith babies (which no one anticipates), we know it would be twin boys and then the race for name #2 would be on. That and a lot of other things.

We used RJZ suitcase for Miss H's photoshoot last week. Probably should use it in one of the kids shoot this weekend but not sure that if fits the theme. Maybe it seems strange that I would be the one preserving family history for another but I really feel, it is my lot. My grandkids have a rich and colorful family history on both sides. From Spain to Costa Rica, there are many, many Stories that merged and now have become, their Story. I hope to leave them a suitcase of memories so they can add to it and pass the suitcase on...