August 23, 2017

life lately...

Summer is flying by... school has already been in session for a week. It seems too fast, although I think Eric is happy to be back to his regular schedule and is enjoying catching up with the kids at his schools. Here are a few pieces of a summer enjoyed...
1. A couple gluten-free cupcakes for the birthday boy! We celebrated very quietly
this year, and I think maybe it was his worst birthday ever. He says no...

2. The Silver Sweetie. A forced purchase, but we can only count ourselves
thankful that Eric & Laura were not hurt in the accident that totaled our car.
We are SO thankful. 

3. The past couple of years have had us really celebrating Christmas in July! We were up at
Disney Springs and they went all out! We even saw Santa!

4. When people I love come to Orlando, we make every effort to make the 3 1/2 hour trip
 to see them. It had probably been over 10 years since I had seen my cousin Jenn.
The visit was long overdue and completely wonderful. 

5. Auntie Tina & Laura...after our glorious morning beach walk!

6. Games in the piano room. I love these people and their fun! 

7. Coffee by chandelier light... at the new gluten-free bakery! 

8. A Sunday walk in the swamp for two... and there were beautiful butterflies
everywhere. Not monarchs, but we can't help loving butterflies more just knowing
Camden is working to save them!

9. Crispy Taco chips. Go buy a bag or two. Or six. 


August 22, 2017

the long way home...

When you no longer have weekends filled with twelve activities you need to transport kids to, the days stretch long... and wonderful. We have been practicing for our empty nest, trying to fill the days with simple adventures. Some weekends we win, and others... we waste away, which still actually may be a win.

Cam's flight back to school in June was out of an airport about an hour away. We decided not to head straight home and make a little adventure of our day. Thank you Google, for showing us a fun little spot we could explore on the way home.

Matlacha. Until about six months ago, I thought it was pronounced just as it appears. I was wrong, and laughed at myself when I found out - because of course I hear its name on the news! Mat-la-shey. Huh. A thousand stories matched up in my mind.

We wound our way along the narrow roads and then finally across the bridge to the little bright island of Matlacha. Our first stop was a little fudge shop, and it turned out to be a great first stop. A little friendly conversation with the shop owner provided all we needed to know...

I love the scenic route... especially when it includes ice cream. Our only disappointment was that the art garden at Leoma Lovegrove's gallery was closed for the summer! I guess that means we'll have to return...

August 21, 2017

camping with a view...

It felt like it had been a while since we camped, and we were thrilled to book two weekends this past spring. The first was a "working weekend" of helping put on a super-fun Sweet Sixteen camp out for friends, which made the second weekend of camping even more glorious.

We returned to a spot we hadn't been to in years... just far enough away from home to feel completely away. Our sites backed up to a preserve, and when we situated tents and tables and kitchen, we felt like it was almost private. We barely noticed cars driving though the campground or little RVs backing in and out.

Eric & I set up the tent facing the preserve, and left the doors to the screen room unzipped, which meant we woke up to this...
It was the best of the outdoors while being snuggled deep into our sleeping bags.

After our afternoon hike and a shower to rinse off the first layer of camping dirt, I sat by the rail with my feet up. Hair damp, sun shining, and the view before me, I felt like I could have been in Africa. It didn't hurt that I have been reading an African Love Story...
We sat by the fire, we laughed, we played cards and Tenzi late into the night. A weekend out in the fresh air was just what we needed. It added life to our souls. And with the end of the summer heat nearly in sight (only 2 months away!) we are starting to plan a fall trip or two... before the snowbirds scoop up all the great camping spots!


August 20, 2017


Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday.It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life. -Marilynne Robinson

 photo 31daysbar_zpsfa674f20.jpg

August 18, 2017

the beach rule

We've had a rule since they were pretty small - always bring extra clothes to the beach. It sounds silly, but there have been lots of evenings we'd go to just splash our feet, play in the sand and watch the sunset... not planning on a swim, because maybe it was too cold, or we just had 20 minutes. But we learned our lesson early on. Someone always ended up soaked from head to toe - either by chance or by desire. So it became a rule. No matter what, towels & a full change of clothes were part of the plan.

Until Cam's last night home in June.

A storm was rolling in at home, and we thought it might be storming at the beach... but on his last night, we took a chance. Twenty minutes of drive time can make a big difference, and it did. Perfect beach night weather, with not a storm cloud in sight.

We walked and wrote messages in the sand. We laughed at the coquinas at the edge of the surf. We talked, and we didn't. And then we waited for the sun to set... the whole reason we came on his last night home. As we stood in the shallow, waves lapping over our feet, he said... I kind of want to just swim. His shorts were half-way to soaked, and it didn't take him more than five minutes from to wanting to, to deciding he just needed to be in.

What can a mom do but smile? And remember that rule from a lifetime ago. A time when I was almost his whole world, when I could scoop his whole little self into my arms and just hold on.

There are days I'd go back to... try again, do better... savor.
But tonight I just laugh... and soak in this time, just us... hoping it will last until Christmas.

p.s...and when we were almost home, he asked did you grab my shoes? And so his favorite footwear spent the night on the beach. He was able to rescue them, with an hour to spare, before we had to leave for the airport!

August 17, 2017

to be welcomed is to be loved...

Last week I drove my niece & nephew to camp for two days... and the camp just happened to be at our old church, across town. On the second day, I knew I needed to take the time to scoot and and say hi to Miss Julie, our favorite pre-school teacher, who taught both of my kids, as well as Tina's.

On the way in, the organist saw me and wrapped me up in his arms, so happy to see me. {Eric & I took his son to the youth gathering in 2001!} He invited me to come see his music camp musical during the Sunday service, or at least the dress rehearsal happening in 2 hours.

I finally made it to Julie... her smile was as bright as mine, and she welcomed me with open arms. We chatted, caught up on our kids, and made a promise to make a lunch date soon.

This church will always have a element of "home" for us... it was where our kids met Jesus, where I thought they would be married... the church of their childhood. In 2005 we moved to our current church, closer to home and a chance to be part of a new mission. It is hard to believe we have now been here longer than we were there...

I called Eric, and he had time to come over to see the dress rehearsal with me... and it was fantastic. There were more hugs all around, a little unexpected police business, and then we drove away. How beautiful it was to be so welcomed... and the love they shared, the love of Christ, shone all around our day.

July 07, 2017

from the drafts: balloons

from the drafts: april means hot air balloons... but the past two years, it has been cancelled.  it is a good thing my memories are fresh and i have photos galore. they bring me right back to the feelings of joy!

When my friend Christine knocked on my door at 5:30 am, I jumped up and down and clapped my hands, and she doubled over with laughter. It reminded her of our first trip out to see the balloons, when her daughter told me through her own laughter that I was acting like a five year old! 

I knew I was going out to the festival both Saturday and Sunday, so I kind of planned to just watch and enjoy the balloons... but it seems that I can't help myself, and I got us wrapped up in crewing a balloon.  Christine was such a good sport, as always, and let me have my way!  


We went back Sunday with Mom, Bob & Camden. And guess who got to go UP in a tethered balloon?! This was the experience I had dreamed of way back when...
: :

Christine sent me this poem just a few weeks ago!  Perfect.

A Great Day
I woke right up this morning.
I was up before the sun.
The adventure we were planning would be filled with lots of fun.
We left our house real early.
All of us were in the car.
Driving over to the fairgrounds, it was really not too far.
It was filled with great big baskets, each with ropes hung all around.
Big, huge sheets of many colors lay all over on the ground.
Then hot air balloons were floating.
They rose up into the sky.
Giant, yellow flames were shooting.
They were reaching way up high.
There were blue and green and brown ones.
There were some with big, red stars.
There were shapes like dogs and kittens, and some frogs and balls and cars.
As I watched them flying higher, they slipped silently away.
I hugged my MOM and told her, “Let’s see that again, OK?”


July 06, 2017

our girl...

Last summer, her world shifted. Home from a mountaintop experience of volunteering at the LCMS National Youth Gathering, she lost half her work hours at the zoo. As much as she loves {LOVES} that zoo, getting her full time hours was a struggle - she'd work them a few weeks, and then she wasn't scheduled for anything but her giraffe time. We could tell it was taking a toll on her confidence, her dreams, and on her soul itself.

After a(nother) month of struggling, she decided to look for a part time job to add to her giraffe days. The local Children's Museum interviewed her for less than ten minutes, and then she got a call offering the job. She's been there since September, and loving it.
halloween at the museum

Within weeks we noticed she was coming back around to herself... and we have just been thankful. Even though her work week was six days (3 days zoo, 3 days museum) she began to blossom once again. I have loved listening to her chatter on about her day, and once in a while she shares that she earned another "star"... a compliment from a co-worker or a guest.

At the end of April, Laura received news that she had been accepted to join the Lutheran Young Adult Corps... and it is her current dream come true. In just a month she will be headed off for urban ministry in Boston! It is a ten month position and she thrilled to have the chance to be a part of this first mission!

All along, through her Zoo School experience and her jobs, I have continued to recite the verse that helps me breathe when I start to worry about the future...

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

He has hopes and dreams for us that we can hardly fathom... and He will lead us to them. When you look back along the journey, it is amazing to see the twists & turns in the road... and in place of those hairpin turns that broke our hearts, we now say ah-ha! I am ever thankful for this... as it gets me through the newest twist along our way, with a sense of comfort, even in the dark.

Time is flying, as summer does, and the time for her to head north is coming quickly. We can hardly wait to see what God has in store for her as he continues to work in her life.

July 05, 2017

life lately... independence day

We didn't have big plans for celebrating the holiday... we were just happy to both have Monday & Tuesday off together! Since I knew I wasn't going to talk Eric into the beach fireworks on Tuesday, I figured it would be worth a shot to try for the local baseball game on Monday, since they had fireworks afterwards...

1. On the way to the game, I spotted this atrocity. I don't know how they got it all
fastened up there, and I certainly didn't trust it to stay! We got out from behind them
as soon as we could... 

2. We arrived at the game, and even though it was under a lightning delay, I was excited!

3. I think what I liked best about the game was... watching them take the tarp off the field,
seeing the many moods of the sky beyond the stadium (from sunset to crazy lightning!)
and just having time out with Eric. Apparently, I don't care for baseball. Oops. 

4. Us, looking super cute in our Cornell College caps! We were prepared for the rain that delayed
the game after the third inning (raincoats, umbrella & hats)... but after an hour we decided we
were not prepared to hang around until after midnight for the fireworks. See #3. 

5. Eric got up at 2 am to start his beef brisket in the smoker... 12 hours!

6. Playing Game of Phones at our friend's house. Cam gave John this card game for his
birthday and it is SO. FUN. I did NOT accidentally buy a refrigerator this time around.
Our friends happened to have this cool charging station, which was a pretty great accessory!

7. Toasting the holiday with a little patriotic lemonade!

8. The beef brisket was worth his sleepless night... it was delicious!

9. And what is a holiday without dessert? Chocolate pavlova... but for the second year
in a row my meringue flattened in the oven. Anyone know why?

I hope your day was great!

July 02, 2017

from the drafts: that week in may...

from the drafts:
i found a few written-but-never-published posts... and to get my voice going, i'm finishing them up!
this one is from LAST may...

That week Camden was home in May {see also, this post} was the beginning of the settling of my soul. For too long, my heart had been in a mess over my job, and I finally let go, agreeing to interview for a job that had been {sort of} offered.  And, of course, any time I have the four of us under one roof, life feels good and right.

These two fall right back into their rhythm of banter, and oh how I love to hear the joy in each of their voices across the house. If I ever feel like my parenting has lacked (and so often, I do), I know that I have succeeded in teaching them that their family is their home.

And something almost as important, that I know they know, is that your friends can also be your family. We went out for a family dinner, with friends, to celebrate these two, and their successful first year of college. It was a joy and a relief to know that they overcame their personal challenges and made the most of their opportunities. They soared like the Eagles they are, and found that their scouting skills really are life skills.

We spent his last day at SeaWorld, since we could only get him back to Iowa from Orlando anyway. It was a relaxed kind of day, the only plan being to enjoy. The time together filled my soul, shored up my heart...

Looking forward to August when we are four once again...

July 01, 2017

who's fooling who?

He's half-way through college, and was been home for six weeks. That's all I get this summer, and I've been thankful for each day. Now I'm up against the longest stretch of ever being apart from him. Six months. Christmas. Suddenly, I wonder if I'm just fooling myself. Am I really doing as okay as I say I am? Or... in the in-betweens, am I just marking time, as if living for the weekend?

I count the hours until he arrives, and when my arms are finally around him, joy spills down my cheeks. And the last week he's home, my emotions catch me off guard and the tears spring at any given thought. He's sweet though, and the sight of those tears brings out the very best in him... and he promises to be better at calling me. We'll see.

Our empty nest is just another four weeks away... and we prepare for it with excitement. For us, and for them. The opportunities Laura & Camden have created for themselves are quite amazing, and we are so thankful and thrilled for them! And this is the way it should be... what we dreamed about, worked towards, planned for. So why the emotion? The coming and goings are hard... they just are. Especially knowing that this is the next step to from now on...

Maybe it's just fair to say that the joy I get from having our family of four under one roof is something so beautiful and, as time goes on, rare... so when I'm in the midst of it, there is hardly anything else...

March 29, 2017

lost in spring...

Spring blossomed early last week, but I just took down the last of the snowflakes this afternoon. The painted buntings are fluttering around the feeder in the backyard, and I'm still struggling to breathe, still trying to keep with the day to day. I feel better, then I don't... and I'm just tired. Not to mention, tired of being tired - and kind of tired of talking about it. But here, in this little corner of my world, it all spills out.

Last weekend I rested under the trees, dappled with the sunlight that streamed through and warmed my soul. It was glorious to just be still... and not feel the beckoning of the household to-do list.

This is my kind of list...
Feet up? Check.
Enjoy the cool breeze? Check.
Mind wandering here and there and nowhere? Check.
Glorious. And just what I needed.

I thought that this Monday, unlike last Monday and the one before, I could rally myself into feeling great. It's still a work in progress, but isn't everything?

Today I'm armed with a new round of prednisone, and I'm hoping it will be the last... but even if it's not, all is well with my soul.

February 08, 2017

life lately...

I'm trying to keep up with the days and collect the small ordinary moments that make up this beautiful life. I need to remind myself to capture more... because to look back on the little bits brings me joy.

1. We had an early morning breakfast meeting at the beach
and I simply could not NOT put my feet in the sand!

2. I bought my very first "sport" shirt! Now I'm all set in case
I get invited to another "green" basketball game!

3. I ordered Harry Potter house scarves for my kids for November.
They finally arrived last week...apparently on the slow boat from China. Literally.

4. Eric worked a steak cook-off just down the road, so a few of us
went out to eat steak while he stood guard at the ticket line! 

5. I love that every Do the Right Thing program has a theme! The office ladies
even decorate the tables. Now if we could just get them to put Eric's name in the program!

6. We took an outside table on a cold rainy Sunday coffee and a warm blanket (provided on the chair!) were the perfect touches to watch the rain come down.

7. Anytime I can catch a glimpse of Cam on college social media it makes my day!!! That was the second photo of the day (they also posted one of his German class!)  Can you pick him out?

8. February wine club tasting...

9. And I finally put my hands to work with the skein of yarn Camden brought home from Iowa! 
p.s...still looking for Cam? He's the one on the left, side view!

February 07, 2017

friday letters {from last week}...

Dear Suzanne,
I loved that you answered Sure! to a Monday taco lunch! It truly had felt like ages since we had a lunch date, even though I saw you not-too-long-ago. Those salads we had were amazing, and I loved the laughter we shared between bites!  Time with you brings a little extra life to my soul... LOUD life.
Dear Nice Man Two Tables Over,
You were sweet to stop by our table on your way out. I think that you were truly sincere when you shared that our laughter and fun made your lunch more enjoyable. As soon as you walked away we collapsed into more giggles, looked at each other and said We are so loud! 

Dear Eric,
I'm so proud of you... standing up there and being the face of Do The Right Thing! I love being able to attend, to chat with the office ladies, and most of all, support you in all that you do.
I hope your cold passes by soon. You have been pretty well behaved for a sick man, but I have come to the conclusion that I get a lot of my energy from YOU! While it has been nice spending some evenings just resting on the couches, I should have been doing a few things around the house, trying to catch up. Thanks for not making me make your eggs the other night...I was totally sincere in my offer, but I was so happy not to have to make good on it!

Dear Christmas,
Oh how I loved you in all of your twinkling glory... see you again next year!

Yes, I got it put away a full week before my deadline!

February 02, 2017

struggling through the week{s}

Last week there were times I wondered if I'd make it back 'round to the weekend. We had tumbled into Monday totally unprepared... the gas gauge nearing empty, and hardly any food in the fridge, since we never quite made it to Publix. To be fair, I know Eric was suggesting we go after church, but at the time, I didn’t feel like thinking about the week ahead and how to prepare for it.  That was a mistake, and I paid for it all week long. Tuesday felt like Wednesday, and Wednesday surely should have been Thursday... but somehow I actually managed to make it to my haircut on the right day. 

I would have liked a do-over. 

This week, with lesson learned, I started Monday confidently... but... is still hasn't been smooth sailing. There could be a thousand reasons, starting with a heart unsettled, but I'm not giving up. February is here and Suzanne sent me this picture the other night:

Okay New Year... I'll try to keep up. 

January 20, 2017

friday letters...

Dear Blog,
Here we go again. For the past year, or so, the words start to flow, we become reacquainted, and then... nothing. I told us that 2016 would be the year for us, but I was wrong. A few sparse posts here and there, a good concerted effort in August, and then I fell off the bandwagon with fall. I'm not making any promises this time around, I'm just thankful we are back together, and that you are always here just waiting for me.

Dear 2016,
We survived... a lot. Three surgeries, walking away from a job that was making me angry (just this year) and starting a new one where I felt welcome - but so unsure, a year of Cam away at college (and not coming home for much of summer), a fourth National Youth Gathering in the sweltering summer heat of July, and all of the little bits of life happening in between. You weren't my favorite, but in the long line of life, it hardly matters. There was a lot of good, & great mixed in and that is gets us through.

Dear 2017,
Well, I've already let January know she is not my favorite, and after the couple of weeks I've had, I almost I want to swing back around to 2016. Not a great start for a grace-loving girl! Yesterday I had a deep discussion with a friend and we heartily decided that we should put our January exhaustion aside and start our new year on February 1st! I feel like I'd definitely be ready for that...

Dear Time,
Why oh why do I waste you?!?!? I can't promise to stop all together, but as I type out these Friday letters, I'm thinking: how hard is this to sit and let the words spill out?! It's not. And it feels good. I'll be thinking on that....

Dear Friday,
Our relationship has changed, but I still love you. No longer do I look forward to your morning as the start of my weekend, but 4 o'clock? I'll be ready. I promise.

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