Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back and reaching forward

My thoughts are all over the place this morning.  I know that the day will be filled with thinking... reflecting... proposing... contemplating... planning.  I just cannot escape that.  By the end of the day there is no doubt that I will have written out some lists. 

And there go my thoughts again... I am suddenly in 8th grade sitting next to the most awesome childhood friend I ever had, Blenda Tagata.  We are in art class together and she is happily singing the Go-Go's Girl of 100 Lists.  Thanks, Blenda.  You put that song forever into my soul.  It's not really incredibly profound.  But, that is who I am, in part.  A girl of 100 lists.  

Back to today.   Well, not really.  Back in July I wrote about how my parents took me to church on New Year's Eve.  We would gather and the pastors would pass out paper.  Time was spent writing down what we were proud of during the year, what we were sorry for and would do differently and what we wanted to do in the coming year.  People moved about the pews, taking time to apologize to someone, if needed.  People knelt in prayer.  It started this lifelong habit. 

Recently we were invited to Scott's sister's home.  She had decorated and cooked up a meal for Scott's 40th birthday.  I had to work early in the day.  In preparation, I put on make-up.  I wanted to look beautiful next to my husband.  Each time our eyes met, I wanted him to be in love.  So, when I went to work, one of the office workers did a double take and commented on how great my make-up was.  That's the fun part about not wearing make-up all the time.  When you do, people look twice!  I giggled and told her what I am about to tell you.  Every end of the year I tell myself that I am going to wear make-up more often.  And by January 3rd, I am done.  Should make-up be part of this year's list?  Will this January be any different than Januarys past?

Here is my 2010 in review.  First, a handful of pictures that highlight the year.

Now... for the sentiments that accompany 2010.
It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  Actually, what I learned was to take the not so good times and live life to the fullest regardless.  This year was my life-living declaration.  Taking hold of every moment.  Finding beauty.  Finding purpose.  Living contentment.  Last week I read Savannah McQueen's thoughts on peace and had to stop and write down what she shared.  "And if my peace of mind is dependent on our behavior I would not be at peace."  (She has created a blog worth visiting each week,  ) Yeah, what she said.  Peace doesn't depend on how people behave.  Neither does contentment.  We have choices every day.  I choose every day to grasp hold of life... live... laugh... hug... look into my kids eyes... We only get one opportunity. 

Which leads me to my next quote by Mary Oliver, from The Summer Day,  "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"  Some days, in tough moments, that pulls me back up and gets me going again.  We have one life.  One day.  Each day is that one day that we have. 

2010 was a year where I went to battle with myself to overcome anger.  I won.  Well, while I love proclaiming that, it is a battle that doesn't give up or forever die.  But, I have learned so much.  Taking a breath.  Waiting.  Stopping myself in knee-jerk reactions.  Praying.  Holding my tongue.  Hey, the Bible talks about that.  It's the hardest thing to harness and try to control.  

Getting involved in a 4 semester Bible class at church was one of my best decisions.  From there, I made new friends who encourage and inspire me. 

Blogging became a much bigger part of my life in 2010.  I'm not the best at technology, but I have learned where to go and that I don't have to know, I just have to know who knows.  It has been great therapy to write about life.  Many posts have never been published because they were a bit too personal.  Many have.  I truly enjoy having a blog.

The year came to one terrific ending when Scott gave me my new camera.  That was a dream come true.  Ever since I had my first baby, I have wanted to learn about photography.  Now I am plodding my way through.  Bring on 2011!

Here are the things that I would like to do in 2011...

  • Compile my lists of books that I'd like to read.  Start reading through them!
  • Record, review and respond to prayer requests.
  • Wear make-up regularly.
  • Get to sleep earlier and drink just one cup of coffee each morning.
  • Watch my words.  
  • Wear make-up regularly.
  • Finish stitching a project that I began 4 years ago... it's a very big project.
  • Exercise regularly!  Take my supplements!
  • Wear make-up regularly.
  • Work through Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, writing about it at Tackle a Task.
  • Create "Five Fat Files" for 1. Spiritual growth  2. Marriage  3. Photography  4. Teen parenting/college prep  5. Homemaking.
  • Wear make-up regularly.
Oops, I forgot to cross off that bottom one.  I suppose I'll leave it that way for laughs... along with my goal of caring about being stylish.  Yeah, that'll work.  ;)  (This girl loves her blue jeans...)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Day of Visiting and Fun

Years ago we lived in Alaska.  When Victor was about 2, we met Nowell and Amy Grothe.  I knew that we had begun a lifetime friendship.  Nowell and Amy were both officers in the Army and when Jonah was born, I asked if I could keep him while Amy worked.  A lot of the baby joy had been missed when Victor was born because I had ruptured, had emergency surgery (flat-lined during that surgery, too!), and it took me well over a year to recover.  Jonah provided hours a day, week after week of baby enjoyment!  Jonah was Victor's first friend.  I love all those special memories!  Amy became a stay at home mom by Jonah's second birthday, which was followed by the birth of Micah!  Now they have little Joshua, too.

We moved to California when Jonah was 3.  In 2007 the Grothe family came for visits a few times.  They sent cards and letters to each one of the children... always the type of adults you really want in your children's lives!  Not only did they care about each one and stayed in touch, but they took time to point the children to God in sweet little ways.  

This year it was their turn to say good-bye to Alaska and they relocated to the northwest.  We were extremely blessed by their visit with us this week, although it was MUCH too short. 

Now when Jonah was little, he was a handful... I remember all the antics and trouble that one little boy got into.  The aquaphor in his hair.  The broken collar bone (he fell down stairs at his house).  The stitches.  The tummy getting pumped out.  I think that was just the beginning!  Amy and Nowell talked about parenting and handling things.  Sometimes they agreed.  Sometimes they didn't.  But, they stuck together and worked out their parenting.  I cannot begin to tell you how refreshing it was to hang out with them and see what a great job they have done and are doing with these three boys.  These three boys have delightful manners, yet they are still very real boys... They are beautifully innocent.  I could not be more proud to know them and am more than thankful to call them my friends.  Lifetime friends.  Not "one time" friends.  Nowell and Amy took time to connect with the children and it meant so much to all of them.

Sometimes words just don't really get it all across.  You know I am just crazy about my kids.  I'm just crazy about theirs, too. 

We had just one day and two nights with our friends, so we kept it simple.  There were a few errands and Amy joined Shasta and I for one of her end of pregnancy doctor appointments.  And we played at the park.  There was so much laughing and fun.

Next, I took lots and lots of action shots... testing out those types of features on my camera.

These next pictures tell so many stories.  First, what we played and how it works.  It's called something like 500 Dead or Alive.  One person takes the football and heads out a ways.  The others stand back, waiting for the football to be thrown, then rush to catch or obtain it.   The person throwing calls out a number between 1 and 500 (easy numbers, like 50, 100, 300, etc) then calls out "dead" "alive" or "dead or alive".  Dead means you get the points if it hits the ground before you get it.  Alive means you caught the ball before it hit the ground.  Dead or Alive means that the ball can be obtained either way.

If you watch all the photos... great things were happening!  Julie had a blast.  I love the happy looks on her face.  She was also quite lively.  There's one series of shots here where you see everyone run for the ball and pile up and Julie runs away with the ball... Victory!  I hope that I will forever hear her voice in my head whooping!  In other shots you see Victor decide to join in.  He isn't too sure.  He doesn't want to get hurt.  Then you see him running and having a great time.  And I got so excited to see more photos where people were running or jumping and I caught them in the air.  Enjoy!

We had a good time.  There are so many pictures and so little time, so I will just end with my favorite photos of the day:






Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Bokeh New Year!

Someone tipped me on this one.  Now it's my favorite word.  It even takes the place of "aperture".  It's bokeh! That is the technical term for the blur you get when you focus on something and it pops out and the background blurs... bokeh. 

So, while everyone was considering peace on Earth and taking in Christmas cheer, I was keeping an eye out for bokeh opportunities.  I did consider peace.  I thought long and hard about "Peace, Peace, but there is no Peace" and what Jesus means to us.  Each day is so full right now... children coming and going, visits to parents and dinner with family... handling laundry and mealtimes.  Honestly, my musings about peace and this lovely season came when I stole time away from everyone.  I had such profound thoughts and was eager to write them out and share them... but, I forget what conclusions I came to and all that I am left with this evening is... bokeh.

Here are my favorite shots of the past few days.  Some have bokeh.  Others don't, but I really liked them.

 Frodo is a patient, kind dog.  He doesn't really mind my photo shoots... and besides, it was cold outside that day...

 These next few lovely ornament photos were taken at Scott's sister's home.  We had a delicious Christmas dinner, exchanged gifts and played a couple of games.

 Pappa dressed up as Santa and went outside and we called little Noah and told him that someone was at the door.  Here he is greeting Santa!
He promptly ran upstairs to get away.  Then came back into the room and went to hide in between the corners of the couches.  Taylor laughed until she cried.  It was so much fun.  Noah finally got on Santa's lap.

Here are our gift sharing photos... followed by our game time fun...

Good night, everyone.  Tomorrow is a new day with all sorts of surprises and fun happenings!  Blessings to you and may you have peace.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Keeping Christmas"

Today I read this piece by Henry Van Dyke. 
 Keeping Christmas

Henry Van Dyke
There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing...
  • to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you;
  • to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world;
  • to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;
  • to see that men and women are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy;
  • to own up to the fact that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life;
  • to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness.
Are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing...
  • to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children;
  • to remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old;
  • to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough;
  • to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts;
  • to try to understand what those who live in the same home with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you;
  • to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you;
  • to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open—
Are you willing to do these things, even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing...
  • to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—
  • stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—
  • and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?
Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you can keep it for a day, why not always? But you can never keep it alone.

Now, if I am willing to consider those things a day... a week... each month... what does that look like? What should I do to put that into practice? Because believing and being willing require follow through, right? 

This really reminds me of my friend, Kay, who passed away this year. She lived this out every day. She got others talking about themselves and put out requests for the needs of others, but never mentioned herself. She was beautiful and quite humble. She served. Always. It seems that it never occurred to her to think about herself. She truly inspires me. I think I learned more in her passing than in the moments we shared giggling and chatting. It was only then that I realized who she really was.

So, I have today. To “keep Christmas” I am going to focus on serving without complaint... even in my heart.
I am going to guard my tongue and season my words with love. That's what people need... to be loved.
I am going to look for ways to go beyond to show others that I care.
I am going to use the gifts God has given to me to bless others.
I am going to pray often. Meaning as often as I can.
I am going to praise God for the incredible gifts he gives. The greatest gift. The simple daily gifts. Praise God!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

First Christmas of 2010, Part 3

This is the first year that several of my children will divide their holiday between two parents and households.  Which explains why I have been posting about our "First Christmas", which was last weekend.  We woke up Sunday morning to open goodies in stockings and unwrap presents. 

Many posts are written in my heart and mind for my blog.  I envision writing sentimental bits and sharing beautiful moments.  When I sit and begin to write, sometimes that all comes together and I am quite satisfied.  Other times I start and it doesn't flow and the posts turn into "let's just put up several pictures with comments".  And that's where I have been for a few days now.  Looks like I will continue to daydream about a fabulous Christmas post and I hope that many of my thoughts and deep feelings get portrayed, but, for now, we'll have a few slide shows and posts of favorite photos.

Here are a couple of extra pretty shots..
(She did not like posing for me... but as I say around here, you don't have to like it, you just have to do it.)
And... I don't think it was too horrible for her to take those photos... I think she might even like a couple of them.

May your week be blessed.  It's kind of lovely having a good bit of the festivities already done.  It's nice to sit back and enjoy.  Looking at their photos, loving them even if they are not right here with me.  Now I look forward to Christmas Eve at church, Christmas morning with Clayton, Cody.  I can hardly wait for phone calls from parents and friends on Christmas day!!  I have been eagerly anticipating calls from my parents.  Then we will enjoy Christmas day at Scott's sister, Kelly's home. 
And life moves forward from there, visits from friends, New Year's party for the children, then watching Shasta nest as she prepares for delivering her son.
I'll take this week... each moment and breathe it in... the peace... the quiet... memories... love... lessons.