July 31, 2009

i've been waiting...

The tickets have been on the fridge for months... once in a while I'd unclasp them from their magnet and admire them, but simply walking past and seeing them makes me smile. But very soon... those tickets will be put to use. In fact, tonight. My husband is taking me to the PBR.

I'm not sure I ever glanced twice at a cowboy... until my son brought home a cowboy book from the library... and decided that he loved them. One day we happened across bull riding on TV, and we were hooked. Somewhere along the way though, I realized that he had moved on from the TV, and there I sat, still entranced. Camden has moved on from his red cowboy boots... and the song tells me not to let my baby grow up to be a cowboy... but I can't stop loving the sport! I think it is something about me that surprises people... that I am a bull riding fan. But I am, and I love when that cowboy completes his 8 second ride. I love these strong cowboys who do this for the love of it, and their true American spirit. I love their toughness... that an injury won't hold them back. When I think about it, I suppose it is funny... that this girl who loves the grace and elegance of figure skating also loves the toughest sport on dirt! But maybe the surprising things you learn about people are the things that make you smile...

July 28, 2009

the rainbow

Whether you are praying for hope... for wisdom... for comfort... or for healing... there is nothing like looking to the sky... and finding that God has adorned it with His promise. There is nothing so precious to me as seeing that He has spoken to me in brilliant colors... that He has smiled on me and graced me with a beautiful gift.

Tuesdays are for looking into my heart and finding the beautiful amongst the clutter. Thank you, Emily...

July 27, 2009

x-traordinary doesn't really start with x

Once in a while... you just have to stop the car and get out... to capture such an extraordinary sky.

Maybe someone else found a real "x" word... the ony way to know is to hop on over to Jen's Unglazed for Z-A Monday!

while i was waiting

I have been pretty excited about Melissa's camera class... how I would love to take beautiful photos... like the ones I admire all around blog-land! I have loved my macro setting on my little (broken) camera... but haven't been able to figure out the macro on this one... so I wanted to try again on some flowers. My own yard, while very green right now, is lacking in colorful blooms- so while I was waiting for my kiddos to arrive home from their summer trip, I headed over to Gran & Grandad's... where I knew Grandad had a bounty of flowers... right in the driveway where I was waiting!
Here is a little bit of show & tell...

I was having fun... although I'm still not sure I am doing it right... but as soon as I saw this...
my photo shoot was done!

July 23, 2009

there's no place like home

I had my own illusions of their homecoming... hearing their voices as they climbed out of the car... and their traipsing of feet as they raced to the door... and into my waiting arms. But I am not that kind of Mama. I am the kind of Mama that is waiting in the driveway as soon as I hear they are getting off the highway... even though it is ten minutes away. I am the kind of Mama that turns her head to look at every passing car as it drives on by... even though I know it is couldn't podssibly be them yet. I am the kind of Mama that raced to the car door before it was completely open, so I could embrace those kids that I love so much.

I would have liked to take a photo of Cam tumbling out of the car... but then my arms would have been too full for him. I would've liked to take a picture of Laura's animated face as she told about her adventures over our pizza dinner... but her smile was brighter than a camera would have captured. Thank you, Jo, for reminding me of these things, and for reminding me that being in the moment is better than the photo you could snap.

They are still sleeping...snug in their freshly made beds... and as I wait for their sleepy eyes to appear this morning, I am thankful for...

...this beautiful mess.

July 21, 2009

just us

In every life there are days of joy and just as many others of frustration... and so many that seem to lack the necessary hours of extra time to spend... time for just us. But this month... has been a gift. Without those two sweet smiling faces gracing our home, we have had time to focus on each other... on ourselves, on our home. There have been many evenings that have included simply sitting... watching something on television... quiet between us, with perhaps just a burst of spontaneous laughter. But sometimes words aren't needed... and in the quiet, we are comfortable. And comfortable is good. And it seems, for as many quiet evenings, there have been other evenings and days when we have headed off on a whim... for a movie... for ice cream... for an unnecessary errand... for fun. And it is just nice to know... that when the time comes and we are on our own again, that we actually still like each other. That we can still make our own fun together. That we both cherish the comfortable. And so this is my gift to unwrap today... and maybe again and again when the moments between us get tense... or we feel like we are just passing each other in the hall, not pausing to see the love we share. And as much as I am looking forward to whooping and shouting when those kids come racing up the walk tomorrow evening... I will miss the times it has been... just us.

July 20, 2009

my camera

I love to take pictures... as a matter of fact, I usually have my camera in my purse. Wherever I go. It used to be a purse-buying qualification... my camera had to fit. But now, with my panda purse, everything fits. Including my camera.

I lucked into a great one. My Mom bought two Canon PowerShot S3IS (I don't know what that means) before going to Africa the first time. Yes... two. Just in case. Because she was pretty certain she wouldn't be able to run into Best Buy and replace her camera if need be. And since there were no major mishaps, when she got home... she shared. Oh yes... I have a great Mom. I do love this camera... even though I don't really know what it can do. I mean, I know it takes really great pictures of animals on safari, but beyond that, I'm a little clueless. And I haven't taken the time to read the manual. Thanks to Melissa at A Familiar Path, I now know just a tiny bit more about my camera... or at least what it can do. She is having a camera class on her blog. Oh, thank you Melissa, for saving me from the manual!

So, the first lesson was about not going Green. (No, Suz... not like that kind of Green... the automatic kind of Green!) I played a bit out in the yard with that little SCN setting... on foliage. Who knew that was even there? Certainly not me. I am anxious to hit the beach soon and use that little setting, too! For me, I had to take two identical photos and compare. Not that I am not trusting... I just wanted to be able to see the difference. So here we go...

The photo on the top is taken with my regular old green automatic setting... and the one on the bottom was taken with the SCN/foliage shot. Yep... I can see the difference. And I cannot wait until the lesson next week!

yearbook starts with y

In just a few weeks, my high school class will meet and catch up on the last twenty years. I have to say that I am not going. I had originally planned on it. I was excited to be there. But finances got in the way. And I just felt like if I had an extra $800 laying around (hahaha!) wouldn't I rather spend it on spending time with the people I love? You know, rather than spending it on seeing people I haven't spoken to in years and years... and can visit on Facebook (yuck) if I feel the need? If I lived around the corner... or even a few states closer, I think I would go. Because yes... there are people I want to see... wanted to maybe renew a friendship with.

But I wonder... if those people I used to know... would they know me now? Would they recognize the girl who was in the woman I am? Because I have grown... a lot. I am more outspoken... more fun... more aware of who I am, and who I need to walk through each day. And if they read my words and saw my heart... would they recognize me? Or would they wonder? Years and years have passed... dreams have come and gone... life has molded and shaped me. Am I the same person? Am I different? Or am I just more?

True friends carry on... and on into your life. Those are the people who know me best... and recognize me today... as that same girl from long ago. And as I glance through my yearbook, I realize again that there is a time and season for everything...

Working my way from Z to A with Jen at Unglazed!

July 19, 2009

his birthday

My husband isn't one to let you surprise him. About eleven months before his fortieth birthday he started asking if we were going to have a party. And not in the nonchalant Do you think we could have a party? way... it was more in the Are we having a party? Huh? Huh? Are we having a party? way. It is one of the things that makes me laugh... one of things I love about him. His excitement his joy... his little boy ways. Perhaps it is something about us that we love... the silliness that we invite and accept into our life on a daily basis. But for a special day... there was especially more. And so... there was a party. Delicious food in abundance, with a Honey baked Ham (his absolute favorite!) as a centerpiece, desserts and a scavenger hunt that resulted in hearty laughter and friendly debate. (Yes, it does count that my team retrieved shopping bags from out of the recycle bin in front of Staples! And a mustard packet does count as a free sample if you slurp the entire amount from the package!)
Yes, it was an evening overflowing with fun... but it was more than just that. It was a celebration of life and friendships and love. Because there is no man on this earth that I would rather laugh with... no other man I would dream of sharing a life with. And at forty, I believe the fun has only just begun...

July 15, 2009

a few minutes in the morning

With a day of work ahead of me...
it feels good to have 6,000 steps behind me.
And I am thankful for a few minutes to sit by myself... to enjoy my hot cup of coffee in my favorite mug. Refreshment for body and soul...

July 14, 2009

my turn

We teach our kids to put other's before ourselves... and their needs before ours. We teach them to treat others the way we would want to be treated. And they are good lessons. Important lessons. Necessary. But somewhere along the lines... we need to remember balance. That there should be some. And that it is okay to take care of yourself... once in a while. For these few weeks, when my kiddos are off seeing the world... it becomes easier. With not so many needs to focus on, mine become clearer... and more in reach. And with not so many needs to focus on, there is a little more energy to go around... a little more motivation.

Over nine years, I have painted almost every room in the house. And yet... the walls of my own bedroom remain stark... windows bare with the exception of one curtain that I hung and decided I didn't care for. It is the room I share with the love of my life... the room that catches all of the items that do not have their "place"... the room that I'd just as soon close the door on and forget. But the excitement over our bright new bathroom overtook me and lent a motivation that even I could not set aside. I knew that I didn't have the energy left to paint my room... not even one wall. But I thought that maybe I could at least show it a little love. And so... armed with ideas from all over the blog world (thank you,) a three dollar can of spray paint, some free frames (that have yet to be filled), and a couple of bedsheets transformed into curtains... I somehow managed to create a space that makes me smile when I walk in. A space that says You are worth it (yes, every cent of the $12 spent!) A space that fills needs my heart was longing for... a place that says I love you.

A gift given by me... for me. It sounds selfish to say it out loud... but I have treated others the way I would want to be treated... and I have put other's needs before mine on a daily basis. In all fairness, I need a turn. And it is amazing... how much a little treat is worth to this girl's smiling heart. A gift worth unwrapping... at least once in a while.

July 13, 2009

zebra starts with z

The first photo is from Cam's room... but the second? My Mom actually took that photo in Africa... real zebras, even though here you can only see their backsides! My Mom has some really amazing pictures of the animals she has seen on safari (this is a cast off photo that she gave to the kids because it wouldn't fit in her scrapbook!) and I really love that she has had the chance to actually go to Africa... twice.

My Mom went to Africa to see the animals... elephants, giraffes, leopards, birds, lions... and zebras. And while she was there, loving the animals, she unexpectedly fell in love with the people. The customs, the stories, the way of life, the wide eyed wonder of the children. Never has she gone back to a country she has traveled to... but almost as soon as she arrived, she knew she would return. Her dream is to take her kids to Africa... to be able to share it all with us, through experience, not just photos. My stepsister & her husband went this past fall... and our family is next. Someday. And then, when someday arrives, we'll have to talk Laura into the shots before we can actually go...

Working my way from Z to A with Jen at Unglazed!

July 11, 2009

tidbits from the travelers

It's been two full weeks since my kiddies have been on the road... and almost two more until they'll return home. I have chatted a little on the phone with them... received a few scattered e-mails... and an occasional text message. Oh... and just a few postcards. Those are my favorite. Beautiful photos of something they have seen and loved... and a scrawled message across the back. I suppose because it is something tangible... but also that they make me laugh. Neither of them enjoy writing... and their penmanship illustrates that. So many years it has taken me to let that go... me, who is so precise with my words and need for a beautiful bobbing of letters across a page. But their writing is theirs alone... and to be able to glance at their message and know who wrote it before coming to that closing line makes me smile.

My face also smiles because they are having such fun...
walking the grounds of the Biltmore Estate,
being in the mountains when you are used to being in flat Florida,
admiring the murals of Porstmouth Ohio,
collecting more brochures than any one boy needs,
splashing in a great Lake or two,
counting the steps to the top of a lighthouse,
being in Traverse City for the Cherry Festival,
watching dogs leap in a water obstacle,
getting up with the sun to catch some fish, and having to wait until someone else will accompany you,
enjoying a cabin tucked into the woods of Northern Michigan,
strolling the streets and browsing in the shops of Petoskey...

They are lucky kids. And I am a lucky Mom. While they are having a beautiful vacation, I am finding time... for me, for my husband, for appreciation, for refreshment... so that when they return, I will be ready, once again, to be the best Mom I can be.

sprucing up

After nine years, it is time. Or perhaps, the time has long since past... and I am finally getting around to the task! I actually like to paint... but I need to be struck with motivation. And this week, motivation showed itself on my doorstep. And so, after nine years, my bathroom is no longer white... or even white with gray scuff marks.

I could stand in front of the paint chips for what seems like hours... mesmerized by the colors... dreaming the possibilities. I rarely take the little chips home with me... being more of an impulse kind of girl. I typically take the leap of faith that it will match... or be pleasing to the eye. It's only paint...

Armed with brushes and rollers and even a bit of tape, I set to work. Oh how I love opening that can and stirring 'round that creamy colored goodness... and making that first stroke on the wall. I even love the part when I stand back and wonder if I made a mistake in my choice of hue... Too bright? We'll see. But what I love most of all, is turning back and glancing at a section that has been completed. The part when I love what I see... and think about what will be.

This morning, muscles weary from wielding the roller and climbing up and down the ladder, I am happy. That it is done. That it is beautiful. That I am not afraid of a little color. That my little transformation cost only as much as a gallon of paint... and items I already had in the house. And... that I have a husband who never said out loud, in any part of the process Are you crazy? and that upon seeing the completed room only looked around and nodded, smiled and said It sure is bright.

July 09, 2009

a little celebration

I had a little surprise waiting for me at work today...
A card...
and a cupcake.
An anniversary celebration.
One year.
On the one hand, it has flown by...
and on the other, it feels like I have been there forever.
But it has only been a year since I changed my path...
since I listened and followed, even when I wasn't convinced it was for the best.
I work with some really great people... people who appreciate me and have come to love me. People who think I am the best...
It is a really nice feeling... to be loved and to have your work recognized.
And having Fridays off hasn't been half bad...

July 07, 2009

unexpected evening

We had other plans for the weekend. Good plans. Plans that did not include cleaning showers or refrigerators. But the plans changed when I was feeling under the weather. And once I felt myself again, we had to move on to the new plan. After a day of getting projects completed, we headed out to the beach with friends... a picnic dinner and fireworks.

Prepared for hot, sticky evening, I was thoroughly and pleasantly surprised with the breeze that was moving along the beach. And with a glance at the cloud scattered sky, I knew we were promised a magnificent sunset. With my toes stretched out and buried in the sand and my hubby by my side, we enjoyed our sandwiches, and the festive atmosphere around us in the other beach-goers. It was hard to move on from the fact that it was July... in Florida... and the air was delightful.

As predicted, the sunset was glorious... the sky regal... the water washing up on the shore in waves tinted with gold. A moment to sit back and take in... to tuck into your pocket and savor.

The sky was still streaked with its evening colors when the strains of the National Anthem wafted through the air. As we stood, with hands over our heart, I breathed in... and out. I thought about the day. The flag. The USA. The soldiers. The families. My family. I wondered how my own kids were celebrating this evening. The fireworks began with a booming voice, interrupting the whisper of the shore... and cheers broke out across the beach... followed by the predictable oohs and aahs... and a few hearty shouts. I resisted the temptation to turn around and grab my camera... to try and photograph the colorful embers lighting up the night sky. Tonight seemed to be an evening to sit back and just enjoy. And enjoy, I did. Contentment and celebration all rolled into an evening.

An unexpected evening... sometimes the best laid plans are hardly the best after all. Something to remember in the face of the ordinary.

Unwrap a Tuesday at Chatting at the Sky!

July 06, 2009

z is for...


Zip the Beanie Baby cat.
My Laura loves all things kitty. In the height of the Beanie Baby craze, she had them all... Zip, Nip, Flip, Chip... and several other kitties that did not come with that tell-tale tag, including Marie, from the Aristocats. She carted them everywhere. The playground, Charlotte's house... pre-school. Of course, if she wasn't carrying a cat, she was pretending to be one.
My Mom wondered if she would ever outgrow it... I was sure she would. But maybe not. Once in a while, even now, I'll peek into her room and see her deeply engrossed in a book... and wearing a set of kitty ears. But those Beanie Baby cats... oh, they know what it is to be loved. Meow!

We've made it through the alphabet... see what Jen has to say about A to Z Mondays over at Unglazed!

July 04, 2009

happy fourth of july

I love the fourth of July... a day when all of the red, white & blue is rolled out and celebrated. When the country comes together with parades and fireworks and our Grand Old Flag is held in highest esteem. When everyone puts aside their differences and our country is united.

How I wish it was for more than a day... more than a season.

I'm half-wishing my kids home... just for today. Celebrating without them is hardly as much fun. Their love and admiration for the USA is found deep in their hearts. But they are splashing on the shores of Lake Huron... and playing with new friends. So I will choose to picture them there, laughing and shrieking as their toes hit that icy water... my kiddos, who are used to the temperatures of the steamy Gulf of Mexico! And tonight as I watch the fireworks, I will recall the wonder in their eyes as the colored bits of fire in the sky cast a glow on their faces... and my heart will smile.

two of my favorite 4th of July photos...

July 01, 2009

about yesterday

Reflecting on yesterday's post... and not spending enough time... or letting moments slip through the grasp of my fingers and my heart... I am realizing that perhaps I was wrong. Because turning the pages of these precious baby books, I wrote Laura, you are magic... your eyes dance and I just want to hug you. and Camden, I love you... everything about you. I never seem to want to put you down... and it brings all of it back in a rush. Perhaps not as clear a memory as I would like... but my memory is not as young as I would like. It has been splashed over and rolled upon the shore... like a piece of glass tossed to the waves. The edges are somehow smooth and dull... the surface worn. But inside... the visions are clear and shiny and seem touched by a ray of the sun... I just needed to look beyond what I see and take a deeper breath. Because in there... beauty lives. The feeling of her smooth little head under the palm of my hand... her chicken legs and her tiny hands reaching for her mouth. The quiver of a tiny chin, the sound of the silliest laugh, and his soft hair. I might not recall the scent of them... but my heart knows I loved to breath in their softness. And their little words and giggles... I might not be able to repeat them... but my soul remembers how I loved the sounds. So yesterday is where it should be. Tucked away in pages and hearts and dreams. Because without the dulled memories, maybe I couldn't be the Mom who is letting go, bit by bit, urging their independence to grow and their wings to unfurl. Because these two... my young lady on the verge of young adulthood, and my dear boy taking steps towards being a young man, they show me that I gave of myself when they were babies. For how else could they reach for my hand, and know it would be there just waiting... or lay a head on my shoulder and know where it will just fit? And so I know... it shouldn't be about yesterday and its regrets... it should be about today... and all of the tomorrows yet to be...
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