Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thank you Beth!

Ta da!  Look at the new header I won in a giveaway from Beth over at  be yourself... everyone else is taken.  Not only is she a talented photographer, she writes beautifully and you find yourself drinking in all her words and leaving refreshed.  To see more of her creative work be sure to check out her photo digs at ruby luna photography.

What a great way to start off my week!  Thank you Beth.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkey lessons.

I was fine until I started to doubt myself. My decision... to not cook a big Thanksgiving meal for my family.  Had I done the right thing?  If it's my dad's last Thanksgiving day and I didn't make it special for him, would I live with regret?

While growing up I can count on one hand the number of times my mother actually cooked the full meal and we had our family over.  Instead we almost always ate at one of my mom's sister's houses.

Thanksgivings were filled with a house full of relatives and many cousins to play with all day. It was boisterous. Us kids, the cousins, would be downstairs digging out the ouija board, watching football, or wrestling with one another. The adults would set up at the dining room table in between rounds of food. They might break out the dice and play 6-5-4 with nickels. Or play some kind of rummy. The only thing we knew was that once the game began, it signaled to us we weren't going home any time soon. I loved to soak in the laughter of my mom and her sisters. They're all funny and cackle when they laugh. You find yourself laughing along with them, while not really being sure what they are laughing at.

Today, most of my cousin's families are too big now to gather in one place. Too many of us moving in too many directions. We gather once a year for a Christmas potluck which always gets us reminiscing about  how we used to spend our holidays.  Now we watch our kids play in the basement like we once did.

But it doesn't mean I don't miss the way it used to be.  And so last year I attempted to recreate a bit of the fun. I cooked a big meal, and we even did a craft. We made an advent calendar to count down till Christmas. But it took tons of preparation on my part. Lots of planning and time.

I just didn't have it in me this year. Between this new brand of hockey we've encountered which literally means 6 nights out of the week going to the rink, and me doing daycare all day... I just didn't feel like I could pull it off.

But I heard the disappointment in my dad's voice the other day when he called to ask what our plans were. He fully expected to be coming to my house for dinner and I felt horrible telling him not this year. We offered to take mom and dad with us out to eat. They declined. Dad's oxygen requirements are greater than ever. Walking across the room saps his energy these days.  I did extend a last minute invite for pie later in the day... but I was steeped in remorse for not having tried to plan better.

Yesterday, Rick and I and the boys loaded into our truck and set off for dinner at a downtown hotel. The boys had tried to pitch a fit about our dress requirements, but they crossed the wrong mommy. Begrudgingly, they both showered and dressed.

And then a strange thing occurred. I saw Nolan hold the door for someone at the hotel.  And then Colton rushed to open a door for someone struggling with too much in their hands. They both tried a little of every dish without making rude comments. They also thanked their dad for bringing them to a nice place. We had required more from them, and they had responded by being more.

Having the boys dressed so nice gave us the idea to take some pictures. We walked downtown and despite a chill in the air, the sun was shining. The boys cooperated with the many requests of their dad until they got cold.  We got some really fun photos and hopefully a Christmas card can be produced from some of them.

We headed home for pie with grandpa and grandma.  We were all relaxed.  We sat around talking for hours.  I quizzed mom and dad about how Thanksgiving was celebrated when they were growing up.  I heard all about butcher days, and how they both had goose more than turkey although it was so greasy neither of them really liked it.

At the end of the evening I realized, dinner didn't make our Thanksgiving what it was. In a lot of ways, my instincts had been right. Because I wasn't stressed and working in the kitchen all day, I got to sit and enjoy my parent's company.  I wasn't distracted, but fully engaged.  I was surprised to see how much they wanted to talk.  In the end, instead of feeling regret, I realized how full of gratitude I was.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What you don't see... and what I am thankful for.



My husband Rick produced a beautiful game program for the Moorhead Spuds Girl's hockey team. I get to say that, mostly because it happens to be true.

He took all the pictures, laid it all out and worked with his graphic designer to achieve the look the girl's desired. He made many, many, revisions. Yet the whole production of the program took less than a couple of weeks.

What you don't see, is how it consumes his time night and day. What he doesn't tell you, is that he leaves our house at 11:30 pm Monday night and drives through the night to his production plant. He arrives at 5:30 am, loads the programs into the truck and drives it all the way back home. He gets home in time to go to hockey practice with the boys.

Then he delivers the game program to the girl's first home hockey game. Its youth night. There is food, autographs by the girl's hockey players, and fun. A win is recorded in the scorebook. Nolan celebrates his unique approach to autographs, having the girls write on his arms. And for his favorite player? Kendall gets to write across his forehead... (sorry Jordy, he may have traded you in for the next Christian hockey player on the local scene.)

The pictures tell the story well. Its what we DO see.


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And while everyone else is at the Sports Center? I am at a meeting at the other rink. For hockey. Because what you don't see, are all the hours spent behind the scene figuring out our way in this new hockey year. Many of us, filling out forms, making rosters, coming up with practice drills, coordinating the intricacies of travel teams. (And not blogging... clearly, I've not been doing that.)

I've also been watching little L this week. She is learning to walk. She hardly crawled before she came here at the end of September. Now she is standing alone and trying to figure out how to move a foot in such a way as to not topple over. What we don't see, is that day by day, hour by hour really, she falls over and over again. But each time she gets up quicker. Each time she becomes stronger. She figures out how to plant her feet and slowly she realizes she can balance alone for a second, and then minutes at a time. She actually works on walking most of her waking hours. But we don't tend to see that. I'm fixing food, or running to grab something or playing princess with E... and L is learning to walk the whole time... we just don't see it.

I've been trying to figure out what I am thankful for this year. I know its all the things you would expect me to say. My family, friends, our good health, and many other blessings. But this Thanksgiving, I'm also giving thanks for all the things we don't see. The uncelebrated moments. The moments that happen before the camera goes click. The moments we don't blog about. For some reason, I can't quite explain, I've been drawn to these moments lately and I've decided to give thanks for them too.

And what are you grateful for this year?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sowing seeds

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
Robert Louis Stevenson


My bloggy bud Robin at All Things Heart and Home always has me thinking about "living my legacy." She has done an entire series on this topic that is so worth your time reading. Just look under her "All Things" button in her left sidebar and scroll down to "legacy." She very eloquently suggests that each one of us is living our legacy each day and can be guided in our choices about how we want to be remembered.

Have you thought about it before? How do YOU want to be remembered? Robin has been making me think. Part of what I enjoyed the most about my Dad's 80th birthday party, was how many reminders there were of my own childhood. Everywhere I turned was a memory of another time period in my life.

One of the people I was excited to visit with was a church friend of my mother's in the picture below. Three things come to my mind when I think of Shirley. Russian tea, fudge bars and Little House on the Prairie books. I don't know if she knew at the time how much I was paying attention to her when she'd come to my mother's for tea. I sensed her motherly wisdom in raising a family of 4 and loved how her baking and friendship rubbed off on my own mother. I also recall the day she gave me my first Little House on the Prairie chapter book to read. I was in 4th grade and just learning how to read with stamina. She told me I could do it, a chapter at a time, and she knew I'd love the story.




I recall crawling into bed at 8 most nights and having my mother yell for me to shut off the lights at 9:30 and I wouldn't want to. A whole new world was opening for me and I couldn't wait to fly through the pages. I couldn't help but relate to this girl. Laura would talk about Pa chopping wood for the fire as I'd go throw another log on our own woodburning stove. In a weird way, I felt like I was making a new friend every time I picked up a book. And now reading is that faithful companion I carry with me still today.

But Shirley's legacy doesn't end with just me. My brother Lee shared with me that his daughter Madison, has turned into a book lover as well. He said he goes in search of her sometimes in the house and finds her sprawled across her bed, reading, and can't help but think of all the times he watched me do the same when we were young.



Madison has recently discovered Judy Blume, and that in itself speaks volumes to me. I know a whole new world is opening to her as well. So when Madison came for my father's birthday, I gave her a few books. I gave her a "tame" version of a Judy Blume, and her first Little House on the Prairie book, with a promise for the rest of the series if she continues to enjoy them. And I told her I was passing onto her what someone had once passed on to me. Its a bit of my legacy and I am all too thrilled to start encouraging that same love in a seed already planted in the next generation of book lovers.

So how about you? A Robin always asks... are you living your legacy each day? What seeds of yours will get planted and flourish?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Carpet Picnic.

I woke up to another sunny day. But my perspective had shifted and today I could feel it wash over me as it stripped the remaining shreds of disappointment from the last few days away. So when E asked if I'd like to join in her picnic, I couldn't help but say yes. Oh what a feast she prepared.


First she gathered her guests around the "picnic blanket." Do you see where she used a red and white checked potholder for a splash of color?


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She was so proud of her picnic, and the fact that what we were really eating off of was a diaper changing mat? Well I hardly noticed it at all!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Seeds of grace.

I was deflated today. I'm worn out. All weekend I've been watching my plate reach epic portions of heaped responsibilities. Even the Prius flashed a triangular red light every time I took a right turn yesterday. It would beep and then flash at me from the dashboard as if to try and warn me. "Heavy mood ensuing..."

But I was already preoccupied with trying not to hear that Rick is getting ready to leave again for a week. Because my mind can do that kind of math... 2 kids who have 5 practices on 5 different nights equals 10 trips to the rink. And 2 parents minus 1 daddy leaves 1 mommy = less than mommy by the time daddy returns.

Plus I've really been wanting for several days now to have something to blog about, but I was feeling like since I don't have anything nice to say, I won't say anything at all. (See mom, I really was listening to you.)

The universe however had different plans and conspired against me. It sent me... a hilarious Miss L today who was nothing but a ham and kept spitting at me today as if to say "stop taking yourself so seriously." I was still slightly gruff around the edges but then Miss E asked me "Did I know her daddy had been in Eloweesiana for work?" It took me 3 times of her repeating herself and finally she yelled "Shreveport!" at me in a most exasperated way... yeah, I finally got it.

Then my neighbor who is my "call- me -in -the -middle- of -the- night-in-an-emergency-neighbor," Well she became my "chat -outside- at- the- mailbox- and -totally- let- me -vent- neighbor" who didn't make me feel stupid for feeling the way I did.

I've just been trying to shrug myself out from under this heavy blanket of dread. I'm not sure what I am supposed to be on the lookout for, but its such an ominous feeling. So I'm grateful today for all of the seeds of grace thrown my way. But if you hear a quiet voice tonight chanting "all shall be well and all shall be well," its probably me... and I'm not referring to the Prius.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Touchdown





















The trees are barren. The remaining leaves are brown and crunchy. The grass is just worn out. Its seen its share of foot trampling, and sandbag stacking and lawn mower biting. The sun that seems to grow farther from us also doesn't stick around for very long in the afternoon and casts its rays intermittently around the yard. The kids are oblivious. They have a football, warm coats and enthusiasm supercharged by the balmy air. Plus they have a miniature fan sitting on her blanket. She watches intently and then giggles when the ball sails towards her reach. In their eyes, its easy to see they have scored, the perfect touchdown.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How do you?

How do you... explain 50 plus degrees and sunshine on a November weekend? So sunny, it allowed for a photoshoot in short sleeves. I'm not sure it can be explained. Instead you revel in it and enjoy the moments of borrowed warmth being extended to you.

How do you explain how good my dad is still doing despite being given a poor prognosis? So good he drives to the Senior center for lunch each day. And he has to keep asking me "Why do you suppose those hospice people keep calling me? Don't they know I'm not ready yet?" So, so, good.


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How do you ever get comfortable in front of the camera? Maybe you never fully do. You just come to understand that what is being conveyed is your trust in the person behind the camera. And because he loves you, you can't feel wrong, ugly or uncertain, because he doesn't view you that way. It isn't all flab and muffin tops and wrinkles in your face. Its the arms that have held his babies, the hands that grind the beans for his coffee in the morning, and the heart that has carried his for oh so long now. Ultimately, I've discovered its not your flaws and your battle scars that are visible, its you being okay with yourself that shines through.






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Monday, November 9, 2009

Sweet Stellan

I've followed Stellan's story for so long now. I know most everyone has heard his story or seen MckMama's website. But Sara managed to put into words what so many of us feel. She also provides some background if you are new to the story. Plus, if you don't know our Gitzen Girl already, you should. Sara is updating the most recent news on Stellan's progress through the day.

So I'm quiet today. Giving it all to Stellan. If you are so inclined, please join me in keeping him in your prayers today, as he goes into surgery.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm being sneaky today...

Do you want to know why? Follow me over here to find out... c'mon, I dare ya!! Just click the box below...

Secret Sneaky Friend

Tuesday, November 3, 2009



Maybe its the way you share the popcorn, whispering to each other about who knows what.
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Or perhaps its the way you feel safe enough to climb up on the couch and rest your hand on his shoulder, just because he'll let you.
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It most certainly is the way you stretch your arms out to him and get him to pause just long enough to hold you and encourage you to practice your "da da's."
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And then there is this gift. You know he is telling you he won't let you date until you are in your twenties.
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It just seems that wherever I go, you are there, looking up at me and trusting.
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You both walked into the Westra World at the end of September and a few weeks later you have not only found a place in our family, you have of course found a place in our hearts. For that, we are so grateful.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Glimpse of Halloween '09

The snow melted, the sun came out, and the moon rose up almost full,

a perfect Halloween was in the making, as I went to fill the treat bowl.


As the kitchen filled up with smells of spices and treats,

Mommy made "Pumpkin Gooey Cake," for later to eat.


Daddy put on costumes, but nothing too goofy, a Jester and a Clone Trooper

as the streets filled with all things spooky.


With cold fingers and toes the kids made the neighborhood rounds,

with giggles and shouts and energy in abounds.


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As the moon lit our path we drove North and into the trees, steadying for the biggest treat of our Halloween Eve.



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Over the gravel and around the bend, we soon delighted in the decorating of Amy, my "all things fun" friend.


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(Nicki, Heather, Shawn, Amy (our fab hostess), Vicky ( the scariest dressed of all... a middle aged housewife!)

With "most" every one decked out in their wicked best, who would win the prize for the best dressed?


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With midnight looming and young boys yawning, we departed for home with a new day dawning.

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And I fortunately woke up with not a rhyme in my bones, but thanks for suffering through.

Our sincere thanks to The Fullmer's for the festive and fun-filled evening!!

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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