January 14, 2019

a most treasured gift...

Can you guess which one said it? 
It really doesn't matter... I think they both agree.

It is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received... that these two share such a love and friendship. How have I accomplished such a feat? I believe I have just prayed it into existence. I always let them know that our home was a safe place, one where the people inside it loved each other without exception... and I know that God has taken it from there.

Their chatter in the next room is one of my favorite things. Add some laughter, a shout of joy... I can barely think the words without my eyes starting to tear up. I know that such a relationship is rare, and as much as I am thankful for it for me, I am thankful for it for them. Growing up they probably didn't think much about it, but even now, they know that the other is the one they can rely on in all situations, with every breath. They celebrate, stand up for, and even fight for each other.

To have someone know all of you is a beautiful thing.
And to be their Mom is certainly beyond grace.


January 13, 2019

sunday splash...

We have been created to love and to be loved.
-Mother Theresa

January 10, 2019

all the pretty things...

Pretty paper and pretty pens... it's been an all-my-life love affair. And as I gather together my life, they are actual valid tools! These pens were a lovely gift... but not quite as lovely as knowing the person who gave them to me truly believes these sentiments. I hope that you have a special someone who sees you from the inside out and will remind you of these truths when you are wandering through the beautiful mess of life.


January 09, 2019

life lately... the christmas edition

Today I'm skipping back a few weeks to Christmas, and the season around it. I haven't done too much about the rest of the decorations... they are still providing some festive atmosphere! And before I tuck them away, I thought I'd revisit some of the beauty {and the crazy!}

1. On a rainy Saturday in Iowa, we went to the Amana Colonies
and found refuge from the storm in a barn full of beautiful Christmas trees!

2. Every year, our zoo puts on "Winterfest" and the animals all get special
Christmas enrichment. This year  we painted many special boxes and paper mache
balls for the animals to receive their treats in!

3. Our favorite hockey night... Teddy Bear Toss! Almost the whole family went this year.

4. Our friends treated us to a Christmas concert as a thank you.
See that guy in the background? Paul Todd. He is an amazing musician with the
most unique hair I've ever seen. It was a night of laughter, singing and jazz hands. 

5. Shop-With-A-Cop is probably his favorite event of the year... and extra special
because he has the opportunity to choose several children from
his elementary school to participate.
It's bound to be a beautiful Christmas if there is a pink unicorn involved!

6. Oh my Suz... her annual Christmas party is always fun, and she lets me
be as silly as I want, with hardly any disapproving looks! 

7. Christmas Eve at Gramma and Grampa's house and the Great Saran Ball.
It takes us about an hour to unwrap it, and then trade around our special goodies
{like sardines, sharpies, and candy.} It's the most fun! 

8. My Mom never asks for anything for Christmas, but this year... she did have one request.
It took me some time to find it, but I was able to replace her favorite tee shirt.

9. Matching jammies and wiggling toes
under the twinkling lights on Christmas morning. 

It was a beautiful season.


January 07, 2019

rest stop...

Two hours from home, we stopped where we always do... at the base of the Skyway Bridge. The sky was a gorgeous blue, and the wind had the flags spread out with crisp corners. We noticed people walking along the water, and I'm not sure I had ever seen as much beach here... or if I had, I surely didn't know it was accessible. But when I came out of the restroom, I spotted Camden at the water's edge.

I made my way over the rocky barrier, and was happy that the ground felt solid rather than the squishy I had anticipated. I was surprised that Laura was next over the rocks, and filled with a sense of beach day joy. It didn't take long for them to be running out their energy, as if they were seven or eight... they are the silliest.
When I asked for a photo of the two of them, they couldn't hold it together. I finally did get a desk-worthy shot, but I'm not sure it is my favorite.

I'm not sure I could choose a favorite from this windblown slice of joy...

January 06, 2019

sunday splash...

God is always seeking you.
Every sunset, every clear blue sky, every ocean wave, the starry host of night.
He blankets each day with the invitation, "I am here."

Louie Giglio


January 05, 2019

a quiet luxury...

One more cup of coffee this morning is a quiet luxury.
I've already checked a few things off my list. Workout {check}, breakfast within an hour of waking up {check}, a whole lot of water sipped {check}... and now that I'm back from dropping Laura at work, I have a few more minutes to decided what to do with this beautiful day that lays before me.

I'm not usually so motivated in January. I feel like I typically am not quite ready for fresh and new, and I'd rather drag my December feet until Valentine's Day. Or, the night before Valentine's Day! That is when I would always swing into high gear, crafting up some fun and fabulous cards with my kids for school... the next day. But these days, there are no kid crafts to create, and the only school projects that come my way are at the request of my favorite school deputy. If I'm really honest, I would say that I thought I would miss those days desperately... but I don't. I loved the journey of Laura and Camden growing up, and of course, just like "they" said, it went way too quickly. But on the other side, there is a whole lot of wonderful.

It is a very nice feeling to sit and contemplate, watching the palms sway in the breeze, and have a breath of contentment wrap around you.

January 04, 2019

the lights go dim...

In an unprecedented move I took the decorations off the tree yesterday. {If you've forgotten, I'm more of a Super Bowl Sunday undecorator.} I had some panic-stress to work off, and putting on my sneakers and taking a walk around the block seemed like more than I could handle... so I just started methodically removing memories from the branches of the tree, wrapping them carefully in tissue. It did the trick, and somehow I began to breathe easier.

The tree still stands in the living room though... with the angel holding court over the light.

It seems January is too soon robbed of the glorious December light. Night by night there is less glow, as Santas are tucked away, and twinkling stars are unstrung from branches and window frames. The lights that brought us such joy in early December are suddenly just a nuisance, gladly boxed up for eleven long months. Before long, the street lights and the moon will be the only guides along the way.

In the dimness... I still long for the light, the joy of each December day.
So I light candles, switch on the fireplace, and let the tree glisten for a few more nights... to hold off the dark. And I find ways to light January.

...remembering the wise men are still on their journey to the manger for two more days.
...listening to music that reminds me to choose joy.
...gathering around the table for game night.
...dancing through the living room.
...seeking His Word.

Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path
Psalm 119:105


January 03, 2019

life lately... wrapping up 2018

We always manage to pack in a whole lot of fun over the last week of the year...

1. On Christmas Eve Eve morning, my sister and I were able to get away for a
walk on the beach. For me, it had been too long. We made a seashell tree in the sand,
and as we walked away, we watched as others stopped to admire it... which was part of the fun. 

2. Since Christmas Eve needs a whole post of its own, this brings us to Christmas, and
Laura having to work. We tried to make the most of it and brought her lunch!

3. This plant has brought me so much joy this season!

4. Chips, salsa, and a $5 margarita... totally my love language. 

5. Our zoo is sharing the Washed Ashore exhibit, which is both amazing and sad...

6. How about being tourists in your own town?!
We took a trike tour and it was so much fun to zip around downtown!

7. The tour included  stop at the Naples Pier, which was our first opportunity to take a family photo. 

8. He is twenty-two... and yes, I did put all the candles on the cake! 22 and one for good luck! 

9. Ringing in the new year with my sweetheart...


January 02, 2019

what i will hold on to...

Though the memories play through my head and heart, I haven't actually recorded some of the most special moments of the past year. Not writing them down, preserving them in a tangible way, is risky. I don't want to forget... I don't want to lose them in the mess of today {and the todays to come.}

Sometimes I have stood still, closed my eyes, and tried to imprint a memory on my heart, so that I purposefully take the time to revel in the moment... but there are so many other beautiful things that I rush through, not taking the time to drink them in fully, and they are lost in the busyness of ordinary days.

There was a lot of joy tucked in amongst the days of 2018, and feeling great was definitely a highlight, and perhaps too long overdue. It made everything brighter, and easier... and I celebrated it along the way. And on December 11th, on the first anniversary of my life changing successful surgery, I texted my brilliant doctor to thank him. He thanked us right back... for having faith in him, and for showing such patience. I think he can be a humble man, or perhaps the fact that he could not fix my urology problem made him humble. But he kept on researching, and took a chance with something new that he put his own twist on...and it worked. So I celebrate being able to pee... and the freedom that it has brought me in my mind.

This summer I felt free going to Africa, leaving behind the worry and fear.{I think Eric took them on, afraid that I might all of a sudden have a health issue...} I was so happy in Africa, feeling so much joy at our return to the place I fell in love with, afraid that I would never journey back to. I have yet to document the trip, and I'm pressing it on my heart to start soon... because there are incredible experiences to recall and share. Perhaps one of the most awe inspiring moments was when the elephants crossed the road. It was a trip of elephants, and they crossed the roads around us several times... but one morning we watched them gather on the plains, then circled back a while later to see that many more had joined them. And all of a sudden, as if they nodded to each other in agreement, they meandered to the road, and more than ninety elephants crossed before us and behind us. I could have rushed a thousand pictures then and there...but I chose to stop, breathe, and make sure to enjoy the extraordinary moment.

One of my big dreams of last year was to go to Iowa (yes, Iowa!) and see my son play the steel drums in person. I am ever thankful that YouTube can bring him into my living room, but something in me said I had to be there in person. When Camden gave us the concert date we figured out a way to make it happen, and a few days after Thanksgiving we made our way to Iowa. The concert was the main attraction for me... but the traveling and spending time with Eric gave me a joy all of its own. I just felt lucky to be there, grateful to have those days apart from the rest of real life. I knew Cam wouldn't have a lot of free time, so we would have to make our own fun...and we did. Those days have a glow about them in my memory... and I love that. And of course, the concert was fantastic - and when the professor announced that it was Camden's last, the emotions spilled over. I remembered how he didn't want to even try drumming in college, and how once he tried it out, at a new friend's urging, he fell in love with those pans. And I especially remember him telling me that his goal was to make it to the top steel band by his senior year... and he did. He has made a lot of things happen for himself in Iowa...

 Take time to remember... the grand moments and the small. They make us who we are, and help us to dream up the next adventure.

January 01, 2019

a new best year...

Perhaps we should start every new year, each new day, with these beautiful words:
"Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Poems and Translations