December 31, 2009

waving goodbye

And so it goes... I'm not quite sure where 2009 went, but here we go... leaping into 2010. Ready or not. This past year has been a good friend... and we have laughed our way through it, even if there were times we certainly could have cried.  
And it always helps... to have the Savior by your side. 

Today, well lived, makes every yesterday a memory of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope. 
Look well, therefore, to this day.

p.s.~ word has it that this was the best birthday ever. more on that to come!

p.p.s.~ eric says... VOTE everyday! (see the side bar for the link to eric's ham entry!)

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December 30, 2009

it is official...

This little sweetie?

 He is now a teenager.

Happy Birthday to the very best son a mother could be lucky enough to have!

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December 29, 2009

one more time

Heading out... for one last splash with Shamu... our  Fun Cards expire at midnight on the 31st, and I want to squeeze every last wonderful moment from them.  And I have to say goodbye to Shamu.  Well, hopefully just until we meet again!
I really fell in love with Seaworld this year... and while we were playing, we took away some life lessons...

Life is full of ups and downs...
stick close to your friends and family.

Make time for each other...
even if it is just a quick game of catch.

Don't forget to smile...

and above all else...


Shamu... I am going to miss you... please don't forget us!

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December 28, 2009

like he needs more ham...

I cannot imagine more ham than was already in our fridge last week... but here we go, trying for more! Well... not we. He. Eric has entered his photo into a contest... for Honey Baked Ham for a year! If you have the heart to help him... would you please vote? You can vote once a day from now until January 8th.
Here is the link...
Honey Baked Ham Contest
His entry is called CCSO Estates Shift Christmas Dinner.

I could say you are the best... but I think you already know...

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christmas wrap up

Scraps of colored paper still linger... stockings that once hung are now under the tree... more snacks than anyone needs still covering the dining room table... and smiling faces all around.
Christmas was... in a word, beautiful.

There was singing...

and late night preparation in pajamas.

There was the tearing of paper...

and smiles accompanying laughter.

Family and friends. Books and clothes. Legos and toys.
Yes... toys. Because even though they are almost 13 & 16, they still need to play. And even Camden shouted with glee over his Build-a-Bear gift card. That just makes me smile... that my son who is just days away from being a teenager still finds joy in... everything. And my dear Laura made good use of the wrapping paper and took her paper crane folding to a whole new level.

We celebrated with my Mom & Bob on Christmas Eve... the grandchildren had slept over the night before and by the time we got there they were full of stories. Especially talking about how Gramma popped popcorn in a pan on the stove. With no cover. On purpose. (Yeah... my Mom is that kind of Gramma.) The table was decorated with four unique and festive gingerbread houses... and kids were ready to open presents. It was an afternoon of joy, and it was hard to pull myself away for church.   But the singers needed to warm up... and when they sang... my heart swelled.  I hope that someday... they will sing together again.  Because their voices blended together beautifully, and glancing back at my husband and daughter, I all but melted into my chair.  Christmas Day turned out just fine, and I was thankful not to have spent a moment whining about Eric having to work.  He was able to come on home for a few hours and enjoy the opening of gifts... and then headed back out to patrol, stopping back in at lunch time to retreive the ham bone soup he had prepared for the shift. I only felt badly that he did not have a chance to enjoy the Christmas nap!  But the kids & I played and enjoyed the afternoon.  Dinner was a wonderful spread, which we shared with family & friends... and once again, I went out of control with dessert. The making and the eating. 

Counting my blessings... and sitting back to enjoy it all.
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bracelet starts with b

I actually had something on my "list" this year... a new charm bracelet. And, I must be spoiled... because not only did I receive the bracelet... but it is looking pretty full! I love the way it feels on my wrist... and one glance down just makes me smile. A giraffe & an elephant for Africa. Hearts from my son. A snowman from my husband... because he knows that I miss the blanket of winter. A cupcake from my inlaws... because I am the queen of dessert. My friend even surprised me with one more charm... faith, love & charity. How I love that I am wearing love in bracelet form!

It is A to Z Monday at Jen's Unglazed!
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December 24, 2009

christmas gifts

Christmas is a journey. Sometimes the road is not smooth, and we find ourselves stuck in a muddy rut. Or even lost along the way. But Christmas comes, and it doesn't really matter how we got here. As long as in the end, we arrive... awash in the light of the star that shines brightly over the stable. Because there... is the gift of hope and love itself... wrapped up in swaddling cloths, nestled in the sweet smelling hay.

Merry Christmas!

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December 22, 2009

i think he might have a problem...

This is the view from my refrigerator door.
Do you know what each of those bags contain? How about a closer look...

I think it is official. My husband has a problem. Does anyone have the phone number for HoneyBaked Ham Intervention?

Seriously? It is his absolute favorite. While he loves all things HAM, just the thought of a HoneyBaked Ham has him over the edge... and drooling on the floor. He has been known to send those HoneyBaked Ham people e-mails. You should... Why can't you... I would love it if you... Yeah. I'm sure they love it. Now that I think about it, they might even have his photo up on the wall at headquarters... as in beware of the stalker. I actually haven't heard one of their singing ads this year... unless you count my kids singing it from memory. I'm Dreaming of a Hammmmm Christmas or Ham-ham-ham, Ham-ham-ham, Ham Ham All the Way... I have searched for recordings of the jingles, but to no avail... If you have them, please send them. I would be the Christmas Ham Hero!

Okay, confession time. All of those hams in our fridge? We are storing them for the cops. Eric graciously volunteered to plan a Christmas meal for each shift in his district with funds from their soda kitty. And you know when you volunteer you get to pick! So this week... the men & women who work to protect us will be dining on "the most perfect meal for any, I mean EVERY occasion." (Yes, a direct quote from my husband!)

And the best part? I don't have to eat a single one! (At one time HAM was on my list.)

December 21, 2009

sunday service

Sunday was our church's family Christmas celebration. Choir singing a cantata. Sunday school children in costume. PowerPoint playing in the background. Birthday party for Jesus.
My plan. Simply sit back and enjoy it, while sitting next to my Mom. I was looking forward to seeing all of the pictures scroll in sync with the full sound of the choir supporting the story. That was my plan.
God's plan. I did sit next to my Mom... with Chelsea on my lap. Perched there, she had a dual view of Laura singing in the choir and the photo show. She also had a long list of things to say... There's Laura! Oh! A present. A horse! A Donkey! Baby Jesus? There's Laura! Where's Baby Jesus? There's Camden! Whatsa manger? Having her sweet goodness in my arms reminded me of my own babies who no longer fit on my lap... And then there was Ian. At almost a year, he is as cute as can be... and I could hardly resist grabbing him up from his own Auntie as he played peek-a-boo with me around her head. His full-of-life smile tugged at my heart and reminded me that uncomplicated joy still exists if we let go of our stuff and just live. The music was elegant and lively all at once... and the solos sung by my daughter and my husband? Oh, they took my breath away. To have such courage to stand before the microphone and lift your voice in praise... stunningly beautiful in more than just the sound. Oh yes... and then there was the PowerPoint. I didn't watch too much of it, just enough to let Chelsea know when Laura or Cam's pictures were coming up. What I did watch? The kids, dressed in their costumes, sitting in the rows before me. Their laughter and surprise at their own photos, and the pointing fingers just reaching out in glee. And I watched the parents I could see... their smiles. Their own joy and love for their children expressed with their eyes and tears. Of course... then there was the story. Oh, the story. How many times have I heard it? or told it? And yet today... it was if my heart was hearing it for the first time. I sat there amazed... tears lingering. But when Pastor came and plucked up Ian and reminded us how the Word was made flesh... I could not contain nor hold back the tears. Joyful tears... joyful that Jesus came to the earth.
I cannot imagine why I am surprised that His plan was so much better than mine. And I cannot imagine why I even thought to have a plan. I did not, for one second, think to hold onto my own... I simply let go and fell into His... thankful for each and every precious breath...

December 20, 2009

thirty-eight things

1. It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to. Okay... I've only cried once today, but I've probably cried 38 times this week. With joy, for blessings, in awe of God's goodness, in frustration (over that darn PowerPoint!), and just because I am me.
2. There is no way I am waiting until 9:15am to celebrate my birthday. For a girl who is awake before 5am, that is a long wait. I think the celebrating should start at midnight, and not cease until I am fully good and ready.
3. I was so thankful when a card showed up at the foot of the bed this morning. That means someone got my point about the whole 9:15 thing. And his card made me cry. I think it was supposed to be a funny card, but please refer to #1.
4. You know your friend loves you when she lets you use her birthday wine glass at her Christmas party. But you know she adores you when she gets you your very own.
5. That darn PowerPoint is done. And it is beautiful, if I do say so myself. Today I will sit back and enjoy it... while I sit next to my Mom.
6. This past year has been so good to me. Beyond measure.
7. I picked out my own birthday cake yesterday. It was 50% off at Target. I don't even care that it might be stale.
8. I do not have to do any dishes today. Really. It is a tradition I am keeping from my childhood.
9. Just this year, I am realizing how a December birthday can take the stress out of Christmas planning.
10. I love that she called me the lady with the smiling eyes.
11. And those wrinkly lines around my smiling eyes? I kind of love them. They are proof that I live my life with a smile on my face.
12. I sure could have done without the new shiny pimple on my face this morning. That is something that I wish someone had told me. That pimples and wrinkles are not exclusive of each other.
13. I am wearing closed toe shoes today because I did not have time to freshen up the french pedicure that I gave myself last week.
14. I really don't care to have the attention directly on me... and I am really hoping no one announces that I made the PowerPoint. Or sings to me at church.
15. Birthday lunch= Mexican food. And I don't care if they sing there... but I am hoping there is no sombrero involved.
16. Those deer that I love? I fully expected them to be standing on the hill for me this morning. They weren't.
17. Maybe God needed me to realize that I don't need those deer to be a sign of a good day. Okay. Point taken.
18. Those deer that I love? They must have wandered down about a mile or so... and between the lesson and the their presence, it was a double gift.
19. I am pretty certain that God sprinkled the day with a chill in the air... just for me, because it is my favorite weather.
20. This was my best year yet. Said it last year... plan to say it again next year.
21. Thank you for all of the pre-birthday wishes.
22. How am I this fortunate?
23. This list was interrupted by the most beautiful day. Ever. I have celebrated and now I think I really might make it to 38 things...
24. It is a good thing I put #1 up there. By now I have cried at least 38 times. All tears of joy.
25. Church was so much more than I could have imagined.
26. If you want to fall in love all over again, have your husband sing a solo in church on your birthday.
28. There are people in this world who will take the time to tell you what a good job you are doing with your kids... and all you can do is say thank you and bask in the glow.
29. My Forever Friend came to church this morning... with her daughter & mother... and it meant the world to me.
30. Happy tears are good.
31. So was the $7.50 cake from Target. Really good.
32. Sometimes you just have to laugh... even when someone steals one of your cookie dough flautas right off your plate, and then licks all the sugar off.
33. There is nothing like sitting around the table with your family surrounding you. It makes the gifts piled up on the table seem not as important.
34. Golden friendship=sisters of the heart
35. Custom handmade gifts sure are precious. From paper cranes to ceramic tiles. Oh, her heart is beautiful.
36. Did I mention I wore my tiara to lunch?
37. Laughter, happy tears and love... an incredible combination.
38. Who knew that 38 would be so wonderful? It is only 6:12 and I think I am fully good and ready...

December 15, 2009

a skip in my step

Moments before I headed out the door this morning, I announced to Eric It's my birthday! He looked at me, with a lot of thinking in his face... until I excitedly added work! He said he just thought I had gone crazy...
So, no.
Today is not my birthday... but it is coming... soon!
And the gals at work know... you gotta spread out the celebrating.
So off I went to work... with a skip in my step. Because birthdays are good. Yes... they are. Birthdays celebrate the uniqueness of an ordinary day... and as Elizabeth would say, they mark another trip around the sun (don't you just love that?!) And then there is the cake!
Birthdays are good.

lasagna & snowflakes

Sunday afternoon became a mess of panic-stricken hurrying to accomplish... something. In my determination, when the computer took time to catch up with itself, I took to cleaning and straightening... not wanting to waste a minute. When the ringing phone interrupted my go-go-going, I paused but then gave in to answering it... since through the magic of caller id I knew who was waiting on the other end. I certainly don't claim to be focused, and I eagerly welcomed distraction from a friend. And it was a call worth answering. An invitation? For dinner? Tonight? I could have said No, I really have so much I need to get done tonight... but I never did fit in a trip to the grocery store and my family was likely to have stale crackers and lunch meat for dinner... so I accepted. It turned out to be more than an invitation... it was also motivation to keep on working... but maybe more than that. Her phone call felt like a life-line in my afternoon... once the offer was made I knew that it was exactly what I needed. An invitation to relax... with friends who don't mind if you show up for dinner in your pajamas. And I suppose there is not much that a glass of wine and a dinner I did not have to cook won't fix. Add in a lesson on making paper snowflakes and a little singing & dancing (complete with jazz hands) in the kitchen and the crushing stress of my procrastination had all but vanished.
Friendship. Laughter. Lasagna. Corny music and jazz hands.
I will have to remember this recipe the next time I pile too much up on life's plate...

Unwrap a Tuesday with Emily at Chatting at the Sky...

December 14, 2009

decorations start with d

Last night I turned all the Christmas lights on... and all of the other lights off. And I just sat... while the room glowed with twinkling colors. It gave me that first-one-awake-on-Christmas morning feeling... when you peer around the corner and see that Santa has come. I love to have the house decorated for Christmas... and there have been years that I thought about not taking them down. Ahem. That is where gotta-be-down-on-Super-Bowl-Sunday deadline came in. Today... I am delighting in the decorations and I wanted to share...
The tree... laden with every memory ever made. From 1969 to 2009...
The little book nook...
Radio City newly inspired by Elf... and Jennifer Juniper.
And my son's favorite nativity. We love how it goes from this.... this.

Merry Christmas!

It is A to Z Monday at Jen's Unglazed... and I'm also linking up here...
Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

December 13, 2009

standing in

Sometimes I feel like an impostor in my own life. Me... but not. The outside might appear to be the girl bearing my heart... but on the inside, the heart of me feels covered in sticky goo. A pretender in my very own self. The truth of it is... this Advent season is not going the way I planned. The way I wanted it to. And certainly not the way that Jesus deserves it to go. Here I am... the whole mess of me, sitting in the cobwebs left over from Halloween (that truthfully, I have been saving since... March?) I stood in church this morning just begging for that beautiful pink candle to light up my heart and overcome me... but I think the molasses from last week's gingerbread has pretty well coated me over. Funny... a Mom knows best, right? Just the other night my Mom told me she was worried that I was doing to much. No! I am doing fine! Only the things I want to do and I am ahead of the game! Shopping all but done! cards done!
how a Mom knows.
Last year it all hit me on the second Sunday of Advent. So I made it to week three this year... but for the life of me, I can't figure out if that is good or bad. I suppose it just is. Regardless, here I am, the great celebrator of Advent... and I'm not.
Remember that PowerPoint I am doing for our Sunday School program? Somehow it just dawned on me that it is "due" Saturday. Yes. This Saturday. So guess what I was doing at 5:09 this morning? Yep. Learning how to make a PowerPoint. And Wednesday night? We have the Band Boosters coming for a budget meeting... and dinner. At least it is motivation to vacuum up the pine needles and Easter Dust bunnies. This weekend still has some life to it, and I am already wondering how I will even make it to the next.
Smiling bright. Every hair in place. Saying all the right things. An impostor. Like a shepherd standing in for a lost wise man... hoping that nobody will notice that he is without a crown. Hoping that the love in his overloaded heart will start to light up and blind them towards his flaws. Hoping... anyway.
Confession is good for the soul. Spitting it all out somehow makes way for the good stuff... like Jesus coming in with a warm soapy cloth and washing my heart of its stickiness... and giving me the patience to figure out Power Point. It leaves my heart a little lighter... and perhaps I will actually be able to enjoy those photos, instead of being overwhelmed by them. Because in them... I can see the story. And where I want to be. Curled up next to the sheep... gazing at the Shepherd.

December 11, 2009

at last!

After nine years, one week, and three days...this light switch (that one on the left)has a real job to do!

And Cam no longer has to practice in the dark...

Unfortunately... that light switch on the right? He's out of luck. He'll probably never have a job...

o little town

I'm not a city girl... I have enough hustle and bustle in my own home, never mind all around town! But I do have grand memories of spending festive days in New York City. The Macy's parade... walking endless blocks, stopping at the corner for a steamy pretzel... shopping (and my shoe getting stuck in an escalator)... and the very thing that draws me to the city... Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes. And that is why... we chose the Christmas village we did. (I wasn't going to tell you this part... but we were given different village pieces for wedding gifts... and we traded them in!) We love our little town, nestled into the snow covered shelves that hold family photos and books for the better part of the year. Taking out each pieces is like reconnecting with old friends... and call me crazy, but I find myself chatting with them as they lay claim to their spot. The one thing that brings a touch of sadness about this little town of ours? I'm a bystander. I long to find a cozy nook in the book store and settle in for an hour... or six. Or eat a big bowl of spaghetti by candle light... out on the patio of the best (and only!) Italian restaurant in town.
I can almost hear the music floating through the air as these friends perform in front of the biggest Christmas tree in town... and I find myself lifting a hand to wave to the men who protect these people I hold dear.

The shopping here is first rate, and there must be a sale... because the shopping bags are overflowing. Those waving flags and rounds of evergreen call to me... and I wonder how long the wait is to see Santa.

These little girls are remind me of Madeleine... as they trek out on their annual field trip through the city. And I imagine that it won't be long before they find their way to a bakery for a cookie and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Or maybe they will talk their teacher into stopping at the hot dog cart.

And while it would be impossible for me to travel to the city for a show... at least there is a little part of it right here... and another in my heart.

It won't be long... before Christmas Eve arrives, and the soft glow of candles will light up the windows of the church. If I listen closely... I can hear the carols dancing in the air... heralding the birth of a Savior.
If you are in the neighborhood... stop on by. The air is warm and the snow never melts. The city folk are smiling... and even in the midst of the hustle and bustle... there is peace.
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