Wednesday, December 30, 2009


So, it's been fifteen years since I walked down the aisle, outside by a lake, and said yes to my husband. Some of our years have been good, and some not so much.
We celebrated today because, even though this year held lots of tough stuff, it was a good year for us. We are more of a team than we ever have been. And yeah...even after fifteen years, you can still smooch under the Christmas tree.

Still Christmas-ing

We had the best time last night sipping French Press coffee (yes - all four of us! Emma declared it to be "earthy.")from fancy cups, eating Christmas cookies and playing a far-too-long game of Clue.

Andrew really held his own with the strategy, but Emma mostly enjoyed tossing wild accusations around the room, especially against her brother.

I'm working on putting my head back together, so here are a few random moments from the season -
Andrew's Christmas Parade Float (his Tech Club built it and he played with the Jazz Band on it):

Emma at her school's Christmas program:

Somebody told her she looked like a vampire, so she obliged:

They hang these lights in the sanctuary every year. I think they look so magical.

They still had them up for the Christmas Eve Candlelight Services and I really loved them. There is something about the lights all going out, the candles being lit and voices singing Christmas carols together that warms me right to the middle of my soul.

I still have one more batch of Christmas cookies to go before I call it quits for this year, but they will have to happen tomorrow. Tonight, I am celebrating! Fifteen years ago this morning, I married my sweetheart and we are goin' on a date!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

So This Is Christmas

I'm sitting here in my stretchy pants and a sweatshirt, my hair is sticking up everywhere and I'm not sure when I last brushed my teeth.
I nearly drowned in the ocean of this holiday season, in spite of all my efforts to stay afloat. I mean, the closer I got to Christmas, the faster I started shedding hopes and projects and traditions and activities - it was like I was bailing water out of a sinking ship. In fact, by Christmas Eve, I realized that I still hadn't caught the magic - the spark and warmth that I always get during the Christmas season - and I was pretty sure it was because of all the things I didn't do.
I didn't ever finish decorating my tree.
I didn't knit presents for my kids.
I didn't make gifts for my kids' teachers or classmates.
And many of the things I did attempt failed miserably.
I tried making beeswax candles as gifts for my family - should have been easy and very cheap, and was neither of those things.
I worked on some Christmas candy while I was making my Plan B family gifts - vanilla extract (with organic vanilla beans) and raw vanilla sugar. I, um, got acquainted with some of the rum I was using for the vanilla extract and sorta screwed up the Christmas candy. Ahem.
When all the family girls got together to bake our cookies on the 23rd, I even messed up the traditional cookie that I make every year - the one that my dad's mom made for him and and she passed her secrets on to me. It's the cookie of the season and the boys all haunt the kitchen doorway, waiting for the first Congo Square of Christmas. I messed it up badly.
I also did something stupid at work and hurt my neck and back a little more than they already were. I have no idea how far back that will set me in physical therapy. But it hurt.
There were more flops and failures, but I found myself heading to church on Christmas Eve, wondering what had happened - where my favorite season of the year had gone. And sort of not even caring.
I was just so tired. And I was in enough pain that I had to admit it and take some medicine. And I had let go of so many expectations and plans, but it wasn't enough. To top it all off, I got sick - some kind of cold or virus, but it didn't matter at that point.
Christmas was here and I wasn't ready for it. I don't even mean in the haven't-finished-shopping kind of way. I mean, I wasn't prepared, in my heart, for the quiet, the peace, the tucked-in, gather-your-loved-ones-and-celebrate kind of day that I look forward to every year.
We had gone through all the motions - we lit our Advent candles and had our devotions with surprising regularity. Presents had been made and bought and wrapped and food was planned and prepared, but I wasn't ready.

There was a little hope, though.

Chris and I have turned to the traditional church calendar more and more at this time of year in search of finding real meaning in our celebrating.
We celebrate Advent - my family always did when I grew up, too. Advent reminds us that the world waited for a Savior and holds the parallel meaning that it now waits for His return. Then Christmas comes and reminds us that He came - Emmanuel - God with us.
But over the years, most of us have forgotten that Christmas is also a season in the church year. It's not just one day - the be-all and end-all of days that we work and prepare and purchase for. The Christmas season, in church tradition, starts Christmas Day and lasts until Epiphany. Twelve days of Christmas, to be exact.

So, this year, I have taken great comfort in learning that Christmas is a season. I didn't get it all done and I wasn't ready for Christmas Day. To be sure, our Christmas Day was beautiful. Traditions were kept and good food was eaten and lovely gifts were passed around. But I wasn't ready.
I slept most of the day away on Christmas. I felt a little guilty that I missed the phone calls to my husband's family as I snored on the sofa. I felt even more guilty that I wasn't on the floor opening new toys with my kids. I hated that I was too sick to hold my baby nephew when I gave him his present I'd worked hard to finish.
But I needed to sleep.
And then I slept for 12 hours that night.
And then I did nothing yesterday.
We lit a fire in the fire pit we bought as a family gift for our kids (We do that every year - one big, relatively inexpensive gift that's designed to encourage family face-time. I'll have to tell you about that some time...). We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.
I walked into my living room after it was dark and caught sight of my Christmas tree - now empty of boxes, but somehow, newly magical and beautiful to me.
And then I slept some more last night.
I'm feeling a little bit better today. My cold's almost gone and, though my back still hurts like crazy, I'm almost feeling ready for Christmas.
Guess what I'm going to do tonight?
I'm going to make some Christmas cookies with my kids. They're going to have sprinkles on them and everything. And I'm going to eat a ton of them because I'm still wearing my stretchy pants.
It's going to be great!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Almost There

I promise there will be a thoughtful, sentimental Christmas post coming soon.


We have a pair of lighted, grazing deer in our front yard as Christmas decorations and Chris noted yesterday that Mama Deer's head is not lit. It's burned out.

The same could be said for me. This mama's head is burned out - not functioning.

I slept for nearly twelve hours last night and it was not enough.

There were so many things for Christmas that I wanted to do and didn't get to. I dropped expectations and plans like I was bailing water out of a sinking ship, and still did way too much. But, Christmas technically isn't over until Epiphany, so, I'm going to take my time and Christmas it up with my kids until then.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Aaaaaak! What is that?

Let's move in a little closer. Quietly, now....

Oh. Whew. It's just our friendly neighborhood robot - helping decorate our Christmas tree.

Looks like he's gotten himself into a bit of a tangle, doesn't it?


Crazy great baby pictures - at my sister-in-law's blog!
Trust me. You want to click on the link.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Christmas present time is sneaking up on me, so I borrowed my sister-in-law's camera and took my kiddos out on a photo shoot expedition. I take their portrait every year to hang in my hallway "gallery" and I haven't done it yet this year!
It was cold and windy and my poor children were underdressed - for the sake of continuity. All the pictures in my hall have Andrew in a white tee shirt and Emma in a simple dress. Sweatshirts? No.
They were troopers, but in between takes, they looked just like this:

The light was only sort of good. The kids were freezing. I was feeling, frankly, uninspired. Here are some of the cute outtakes:

There was only one shot that I really loved enough to retouch and gussy up a bit. But of course, it's a Christmas present for who live far away and miss these two faces, so I'll show it to you post-Christmas, along with a parade of all the other wonderful gifts that I've made and put my heart into.

I Did It!

Our Sprint Toward the Holidays is now complete. Chris and I have worked extra-hard, burning the midnight oil (and the 1 AM oil and the 2 AM oil...) to make sure that this week before Christmas would be as relaxing and stress-free as possible. We had no less than four recitals in the past week. I've been up very late making presents. Chris has been up very late being my assistant and working on presents as well. We are so exhausted. Andrew is sick and Emma has been grumpy. We have short fuses and dark circles under our eyes.
But it's done.
All of my major publishing for the church where I work is done and yesterday was our final recital. It was The Big One - the recital where both of my kids performed and, well, I did too. I am a student after all!
The kids and I worked out some special arrangements of Christmas songs as solos for their instruments (I accompanied on piano) and I played my first piano recital in 16 years.
I was so. stinking. nervous.
I don't do well on stage. Don't get me wrong - I've had lots of practice being up there. I've been a worship leader, an actress, a singer, a pianist, a member of an orchestra and I even tried public speaking once. It doesn't seem to matter how many times I'm in front of an audience - I turn to quaking jello every time.
I remained un-decided about what to play until the last minute. I was really hoping to pull off the Chopin piece I'd been working on all semester, but it was just out of my reach. I had to cut myself some slack and remember that I've only been "back" at the piano for one semester. So I went for a Debussy piece instead. Honestly, the Chopin felt safer to me - more familiar. You can hide mistakes behind impressive runs and loud moments of drama. The Debussy piece was a lot more open - fewer notes, more obvious if you hit the wrong one, etc. But the major thing is that, to get Debussy right, you have to let your soul seep out through your fingers. You have to be vulnerable. In front of lots of people.
That's the heart of what makes me nervous.
I know I've talked about this before, but, in spite of appearances, I am actually a very guarded, very reserved person. I don't like to be vulnerable. I especially don't like to be vulnerable when something very personal about me might be criticized.

Debussy. Nervous. Terrified. Stress.
No sleep.
Couldn't find Andrew's music.
Sick to my stomach.
Running on adrenaline fumes and coffee.
Hands quaking.
Potentially messing up in front of my students' parents - the ones who pay me to do what I love.

But I did it. I had to. I was on the programs they passed out at the door. I couldn't back out. This was something I really needed to do - for myself. I had some really deep demons I had to fight. I know that sounds really dramatic to most of you who have no problem with this sort of thing. I know. But I screwed up majorly the last time I played in front of people, 16 years ago. Maybe they didn't all know it, but I did. And I didn't play in front of anybody again. That sounds juvenile and silly, but it's true. There is certainly more to my story than that, but that is a big part of it.
I made a few mistakes and I wasn't able to put as much of myself on display in this music as I could when I was playing it with no audience, but overall, I'm proud that I did it and did it this well. I hope this will help my daughter begin to overcome her stage fright - she is, tragically, so much like me when it comes to sharing her gifts. And I hope that, with practice, I'll become more comfortable doing this sort of thing.

(video exists and will be posted if I can figure out why my new video camera's files are not happy about jumping onto YouTube)

One of the coolest things about the past couple of days, though, was watching my students perform. I was taken aback by how much I felt for them as I watched them overcome their own nerves and play for their parents and an audience too.
Guess what?
It turns out that I'm a music teacher.
I mean, I know I've been getting paid to teach music. I know I can do it. But there are lots of things I can do that don't necessarily define who I am - even musically. I love to play, but I am definitely not a performer (I don't get enough out of it to justify the damage to my nerves!). Music is as much a part of me as my own skin, but I've never been able to put my finger on what it is, exactly, that I do with music.
I got my first teacher present yesterday. One of my little guys, a funny little red-headed, freckled boy (who looks like a miniature Adam Savage and has completely stolen my heart) gave me a Christmas ornament - a snowman playing the piano. I almost cried.
That's when it hit me.
I'm a music teacher.
I didn't know before then.

Guess what else? I'm nearly sure that I'm going to be giving notice in the next week at my secretarial job. I will know for sure in a few days. I may have enough students next semester to take that leap. It will only be a partial notice - I'm going to offer them two days a week and continuing my publishing work for them (newsletters and bulletins), as I really want that income to save up for a big girl camera, but I'm prepared that my boss may not be willing to accept that. And if he doesn't, I'm out.
This is a big leap of faith for me - and especially my husband. Teaching piano means less income in the summer, means my pay can change from one semester to the next, means unsteady and unreliable income. I just need it to mean "enough" income. I know who my Provider is, and He and I have been working on this for a long while. But it also means spring break, fall break and holiday break with my kids. It means I don't have to hire someone to be their mom over the summer (you know my heart on that one, DeeDee!). It means getting paid to do something I love - and that's something.

Now. Now I'm ready to dig into Christmas. To knit like the wind, to pick up my camera again (it has lain dormant for nearly two weeks!) and to make merry.
I've been having a little trouble finding my Christmas Spirit this year. I think there's just been too much on my mind. But I'm feeling like a few cobwebs have been swept away and some space has been made in my heart. I did some hard work this past week. Now I'm ready for some fun.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Well, the knitting disaster was redeemed and is now finished. One nephew's presents - down and done.
I suspect, though, that I have angered the crafting fates in some way. My list was a little nutty, but do-able by my standards. However, I've lost an entire afternoon to a brake job on my car (the wait for which I found myself unequipped to deal with as far as knitting goes) and a sewing error. A major sewing error, as in "Oh. That's not a sleeve that I have sewn on where the sleeve should be, gathered by hand and attached to a scalloped yoke with a facing. That's actually the back. I seem to have switched the two pieces."
Nicely done, me.
Ah well. Things will get done as they will and some will not. That's just the way it goes.

On the bright side of things, Emma and I had a genuine and serious conversation this morning en route to school. She was wishing she could understand our dog's thoughts. Magically, in the way that Emmas do best, she invented an electronic monocle that would do just that - read and translate the thoughts of dogs in your vicinity. The best part is that it looks like an ordinary monocle. That way, nobody else knows what you're up to. Covert monocular communication is what it is.
I say kudos to Emma for not even supposing that a 9-year-old wearing an ordinary-looking monocle would draw attention. After all, she does own and wear a red velvet, hooded cloak.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Grievous, costly knitting error!
Must un-do 43 rounds, knitted on double pointed needles.
With a shipping deadline looming (for my out-of-town nephews), this is a bad, bad thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

He's Catching On

That boy of mine cracks me up.
We were eating at our favorite local pizza spot and our pizza had just been brought to the table. Chris put a piece on each of the kids' plates, served me and was reaching for his dinner.
Andrew made a complaining noise and noted that it was the slice he'd wanted for his second helping.
Chris promptly informed him, "When you're the man and you're paying for the pizza, you can pick your own piece."
Andrew noted the unfair truth: "When I'm a man and I'm paying, I'll have to give the mom that piece."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

At Least I'm Consistent.

We need to talk.
(If you are the mother of one of my nephews, you must not, for any reason at all, click on any of the links in this post! I'm watching you...)
I have told myself all year long that I would not be making hand-made Christmas presents for everyone this year. And I have meant it all year long.
I mean, after the knitting debacles and sleeplessness that nearly took me out last year, could you blame me? For heaven's sake - I wound up lying to my husband about needing a bath and sitting in the tub with my knitting hanging safely over the edge of it, actually bathing and knitting at the same time.
I made everyone hand-made stuff for their birthday presents and promised that I'd be buying stuff this year instead.
But I have little nephews. And I wanted to knit them some stuff. Two baby boys and one toddler boy - that's not so bad. I can make three presents, right? Wellll...I need to make something for my own kids too. So that's five presents. Totally do-able.
Only, I got started and it has snowballed.
I made one little present for one little nephew and I felt pretty good that I was done with it. I mean, five homemade presents, one done, that', right? Next I started in on baby nephew present #2. And I am completely smitten with it. Utterly smitten with it. The clever shaping, the simple lines, the unrelenting cuteness...
Suddenly, nephew present #2 is looking cooler than the first present. We can't have that. I love all my babies the same amount. The designer of said amazing pattern offers a few, shall we say, variations of the same (here and here) and...and...
And there you have it. I find that I need to make one variation for each nephew. However, I already made one present, so nephew #1 now has two handmade presents in the works. We must even the score. Now, each nephew must have two handmade presents. I realize that a normal person would keep the first gift to give for the next birthday, but I can't. I am not a patient girl. Plus, nephew #3's present? The original one, I mean, not the one I have stumbled into, is too cool for school. I won't sleep unless I make it.
This, effectively, doubles the amount of hand-making I will be doing, you see, because now each nephew is getting two hand-made gifts and I hafta do the same for my children.
It may be that I've defined a new mental illness here.

But wait! There's more!

Just like everyone else in the universe, we are a little strapped this year - financially speaking. Not nearly as badly as some, but enough that it pinches my present budget uncomfortably. And I thought of another great, practically free, gift to make for everybody else too. This should have been a simple task.

It should have been.

You will have to forgive my cryptic communication here, as many of those on my gift list read this blog.

Let us suffice it to say that I have learned a lot about a certain ancient craft. One that seemed it should be simple. One that promised lovely results. One that has been far more difficult than I could have imagined, but also one that I cannot get out of now because I must. conquer. it.

It's personal.

So, in spite of my promises, this season will be filled with frazzle dazzle and sleepless nights. It seems to be my destiny. I've decided not to fight it.

For now.

PS - If you are not the mother of one of my nephews and you do click on the links, please word your comments carefully!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far

I just have time for a drive-by posting, but I had such a special moment today with my son. It was worth posting.
I have him all to myself on Mondays for about an hour while Emma has a club meeting after school.
Today, I had a massive headache. A pupils-are-tiny-and-my-whole-self-feels-squinty headache. I even called Chris to see if he'd slipped me a cup of decaf this morning (sometimes he does that without telling me).
But he hadn't. It had been my regular cup of joe.
A Starbucks run was in order if I was to make it through the rest of the afternoon.
I picked up Drew and told him where we were headed. I also told him that I was on a tight budget, but I wanted to get him a little something - no frappuccinos or anything crazy and $10-ish like that. I suggested a tall hot chocolate.
He said he'd like a cup of coffee instead.
Just like that.
I was a little stunned, but decided to go with it.
"What, just black coffee?" I asked.
"No, mooooomm. (eye roll)"
"Oh. Cream and sugar, then?"
"Yeah. But, do they have anything else? Any flavored coffee?"

I told him about the bountiful array of syrups. He was pretty into it at that point.
So, we went in and I helped him order his first cup of real coffee at Starbucks.

I started drinking coffee at a much younger age than he. I think I was about 8. At the same time, I remember the grown-up feeling of sharing that ritual with other people.

It was small, but it was special.

My best guy and me.

Daily Bliss: Licking out the cookie dough bowl
Wake-Up Playlist: Canticle of Mary (Ames & Leaman)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Photography Class - Final

Last night was my next-to-last photography class for this semester. I had thought my professor asked us to "shoot like crazy and bring in three more images" as a final assignment. I found a few pockets of time, though it was difficult to find them, and took some pictures. But then I got to class and found out we were only supposed to narrow down our portraits to three final ones and bring in any more that we shot over the holiday week.
I was really happy with my portraits I'd turned in - you've all seen them - the one of Jon & his dog Huckleberry, the one of Emma with the giant flower on her head, and the ones of Mindy & my little nephew Nolan. I added in the one I took of Becky & her honey that I showed you a few days ago and called it good.
However, I had several images that I had planned to turn in and thought maybe you'd like to see them. I am open to critiques and opinions. I just want to know what you guys like to see. Some of you lurkers out there - I'd love to hear from you.

First up, Christmas lights:

A cute little ladybug:

Some grasses in gorgeous morning light:

This one's my favorite:

A sweet mama belly (check it out Becky - I gave him a new fingernail!):

And, just for fun, a robot raiding my fridge:

I had planned to save the robot and show you later, as I've been doing kind of a series of him in random situations, but since I thought about turning it in as an assignment, I figured I'd go ahead and post it.

I've had so much fun in this class. I've definitely learned a lot and I'm so looking forward to next semester!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Made It

With all the busy-ness we've had going on this fall, I've tried really hard not to make compromises when it comes to my kids. I've had to volunteer a little less often for school functions, or rely on other people to give them rides to things here and there, but for the most part, we've done pretty well there.
Of course, that means that I'm exhausted.
It's a lot of work to be all things to all people, you know.
I was thinking about my schedule today and the idea of water displacement came to me. It's like my life is a glass of water and it's f-u-l-l. Filled to the brim with things to do and places to go.
Then, just for fun (or if you get rear-ended and have to go to physical therapy. ahem.), you drop something else into your glass of life. What happens? It displaces an amount of busy-ness equal to its own weight. And if your glass is already full, that displaced life just spills over the side.
Just go with me on that one, okay?
So, we have managed to keep most of our, uh, life in the glass, as it were, but as this fall semester begins to come to its end, the level of activity just increases. That's pretty much true for everybody, I think. And it's at this point that I have to start making compromises that make me uncomfortable.
My photography class is a Thursday class and Andrew's holiday band concert is next Thursday. My professor actually (very graciously) agreed to let me take my final exam on another day so I could make it to the concert.
Compromise avoided.
However, Andrew was in the city Christmas parade tonight. Obviously, I can't skip the last two weeks of class entirely. Obviously, my professor was generous enough about my final exam that I didn't want to ask for more.
Obviously, I would have to miss the parade.
I missed it last year too, which made this decision all the worse.
I have been pretty torn up about it.
But guess what? I got out of class early tonight.
I thought, "Hey. Why not try to make it down there and see Andrew? Why not have my cake and eat it too?" It was about an hour into the parade, but I remembered where the end of the route was and figured there was a chance. I called my mom to find out where everybody was standing and she and Dad were already leaving the parade, having seen Andrew. As a matter of fact, they were parked near the end of the route and were happy to wait for me to get there so that I could take over their parking space.
By the time I pulled in, I knew I didn't have much time to spare. I went running down the sidewalk to get to the parade. I heard high school bands and loud music and I was really afraid I'd miss him - I happened to know he was near the front of the parade.
What was that?
Oh yeah. I did say that I ran.
For several blocks.
In high-heeled boots.
Carrying a giant purse.
I really hate running.

But I made it.

I even found a near-front-row spot in which to stand.

I made it before the front of the parade even got there.

I was surrounded by, I kid you not, children with no shoes on (in the downtown streets, people!) and people burping loudly and all manner of unpleasant humanity.
Actual snippet of conversation I overheard behind me (between two good ol' boys who thought they were very funny):

Larry the Cable Guy 1*: Y'all don't wanna mess with me. I know jitso (I presume he meant Jujitsu) and karate and all them other Japanese words.
Larry the Cable Guy 2: Yeah? Well I know Smith 'n Wesson
Larry the Cable Guy 1: Aright then! You win!

And just about the time I was going to turn around and tell Guy #1 where I thought he should shove his rude mouth, I saw Andrew's float coming down the street.
Something came over me.
I bounced up and down, waved my arms and hollered like a high school cheerleader - "Wooooo! Andrewwwwww! I made it!!!". His teachers all laughed at me, but he saw me. He smiled. His float passed and I turned to leave.
Within a block's walk, my exhaustion, my insanely hectic day and probably some leftover mother-guilt got the best of me and I just cried.
Nobody cries after the parade.
But I couldn't help it.
I was so relieved.

I made it.

*Names have been changed to protect the ignorant

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sh. Don't Tell Anybody, K?

I went to a Miley Cyrus concert last night.
I know.
It's a little embarrassing to admit. I'm way too much of a cool indie music person to do something like that (said the girl who actually likes lots of way uncool music). It's just that pop music not my thing and I'm pretty anti-brand name and anti-pop culture and all that stuff - especially when it comes to my kids.
I don't like it when people raise their kids to idolize people that they've never even met. I'm sure Miley's a nice enough girl, but I don't know her or anything (though my brother's met her and says she's super-nice. I guess she likes his band and they all met up in Dallas), so we try not to look up to her in my house. Does that make enough sense without being mean? I hope so. I don't mean it to be.
I will say this - I was surprised by her voice. She really has a powerful, beautiful instrument. The show was pretty great and I was impressed with her stamina (oh, to be young!) and her ability to sing really well live. Not everybody sounds good when they aren't being helped out by a good producer.
I digress.
Emma's friend's mom called up and asked if they could take Emma to the concert - she had bought tickets for her daughter to take a friend as a birthday gift and Emma was the Lucky Chosen One.
She was super-excited!
But I couldn't let some other mom take my daughter to her first concert! I especially couldn't let some other mom take my daughter to a concert as important as this one - the one every girl between the ages of 6 and 14 wants to see (and, as evidenced by the weird, grown woman getting her groove on a couple aisles in front of me, plenty of other ages of girls want to see Miley in concert...). So I bought a ticket.
My seat wasn't exactly close to Em and her friend but it turns out there was one un-sold seat next to them, so I sort of sidled into that one and got to be with her the whole time. The seats were great - very close, actually. It was the Fan Club Section. You could actually see all the performers on the stage and even make out their faces from where we were.
Pretty sweet deal.
It was so special to share such an important night with my daughter. We bought a new outfit for her, down to the brand new cowgirl boots. She felt cute. You could tell by the way she was swaggering. We made it a full-on girls' night with dinner out and lots of chit-chat (sorry, Karen! I sure talk a lot more when I'm tired!). The girls screamed and squealed and danced and were all-around cute. We moms might have done some of that, though Other Mom was a mite more dignified than I. I wanted to make sure I was participating fully - that's all.
Anyway, I won't offer criticism or praise for the Performer Herself, just know that I endured an evening filled with screaming girls and pop culture, things which I normally avoid at all cost, in order to make a fantastic memory with my girl.
It was so, so worth it.
PS - It was even a lot of fun.

Daily Bliss: ice cream. pomegranate-dark-chocolate ice cream.
Wake-up Playlist: Girls' Night Out, Miley Cyrus (what? it's not like i control this stuff!)

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Treat

Emma was invited to play a duet with her piano teacher for a Thanksgiving Eve service (at the church that houses her school) last Wednesday night.

I love her delicate, feminine touch on the keys. She has very much her own style - different from mine and definitely different from Andrew's.

She did so well and I am so proud.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dear me. Thanksgiving now seems so long ago that it is hardly bloggable. We've had such a whirlwind week and next week will be just the same, perhaps even worse!
I'm wrapping up my physical therapy, which is fantastic. Oh, I will miss the massages (even though they hurt), but my schedule will be so happy to have me back.
Chris was home with the kids this past week and they all had a good time. Without me. I had to work. Do you feel sorry for me yet?
Well, don't.
I ate pumpkin pie (made from pumpkins that I roasted) this week. I also ate sweet potato casserole made from sweet potatoes I grew in my back yard. They were smothered in homemade marshmallows. I kid you not. You need to try these stat, by the way. The men in my family who hate marshmallows all loved these!

The kids and I were in charge of decorating our Thanksgiving table this year. It's been a few years since my last turn and normally, I go all out with the table decor. This year, though, I really wanted to include the kids, keep it simple, keep it super-cheap, but still keep it stylish.
That was a tall order.
We plopped a few little pumpkins on top of some candle sticks I already had and connected the whole thing with garlands of paper circles, sewn together with brown thread. Truthfully, once the circles were cut, the sewing only took twenty minutes or so.

There were paper leaves down the middle of the table,

and glittery paper napkin rings.

The best part was the time spent with my favorite small hands in the world - my children's, of course.

Oh. And? My nephew. Who wants to see the baby?

And from there, we jumped headlong into Christmas preparations and celebrations.

I want to share something really special with you - a little preview of sorts. I had the privilege of taking my dear friend's maternity portraits on Friday. There are lots of images that I want to tweak just a little bit, and many that are too personal to share on the internet, but here is my absolute favorite shot, as-is:

With any luck, there will be more of these posted soon!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hold On...

I will have things to say soon. We had an amazing holiday, just as always.
I even made homemade marshmallows for our sweet potato casserole.
I promise a post stuffed to the gills with pictures soon (maybe this weekend?), but tonight, we are busy.

We have no hope that we will finish the tree tonight.
We will simply be happy if we can get the lights on it.

Love and kisses,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Gramps

Today was my grandpa's birthday. It's also the anniversary of the week he collapsed, which ultimately led to his death earlier this year.
We took his ashes to the Florida National Cemetery today. I don't fully know why it wasn't done earlier. I guess it just wasn't time.
I don't know what I expected. It's been nearly a year since his passing and we certainly mourned him. But family gatherings (there are many) have begun to feel normal again. I still get a little emotional from time to time when something reminds me of him. Sometimes it's a wistful smile and sometimes it's a tear.
I don't want to say I thought I was "over it" or anything unfeeling as that. I just feel like I've come to terms with his absence.
So much so that I didn't really prepare my children (or myself) for what today would bring.
My grandpa, like most of your grandpas, was a veteran. He was honored with ceremony and a flag was presented to my grandma. The flag ceremony was so moving. So, so moving. From a distance, far behind us, taps rang out in the misty, cloudy afternoon. My grandpa's brother, a retired minister, spoke some words of Scripture and led us in prayers and a hymn.
Emma wept with abandon and so did I. I couldn't even choke out the first verse of "Abide With Me." My grandma was less the stoic matriarch and more the sunken, bereaved widow than I have ever seen her.
We drove out, past the crisp, neat rows of white headstones and the rain began to fall in earnest. My little nephew slept on, unaware.
We all stopped and shared a bolstering meal.
And I baked a cake - a birthday cake.
When there is a birthday in our family, we all gather for cake and an awful rendition of "Happy Birthday." Many of us are musicians and most of us sing rather well, but there is something fun in singing wildly off-key as a group. My grandpa loved this tradition. He would laugh and laugh, joining in with his own recognizable baritone.
So we sang and ate cake and celebrated his birthday one last time as we said our last goodbyes. Why now? Why so late? I guess it was finally the right time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I seem to be turning into such a sporadic blogger. Hrmph. I certainly didn't meant for that to happen. I have generally blogged at the end of the day to just make sense of things and feel like I'd emptied my head before attempting to sleep, but lately, my days are such a jumble that there is no sense to be made. I'm definitely not being the Girl Who Does It All right now. I'm just the Girl Who Is Trying Hard.
But I'm okay with that.
It just doesn't make for interesting reading.
We had some more car trouble (big surprise) at the end of last week and I got to borrow my baby brother's truck for a while. I really love driving his truck. It's big and nasty and not-at-all shiny. It rumbles and roars and while it takes you where you ask it to, you are jostled and tossed at the whim of the road. But not in an abrupt, sharp way. Just sort of gently moving. Dudes give you The Nod when you pull up at stoplights. This is no pretty suburbanite truck - no. This is a truck. And if you can pop out of that truck wearing a mini skirt, a secretary cardigan, high heels and cat-eye eyeliner, well, you have surprised everyone. And that's pretty fun.
Chris and I had a date on Saturday, and by that I mean all day on Saturday. I got a haircut (Emma did too) and my parents picked up the kids from us in Tampa. We did some Christmas shopping (mostly looking) and watched a movie at the new theatre, at which they serve bistro-style dinners and have a wine list. Seriously - I had popcorn and a nice, cold glass of Riesling. Delish.
That certainly gave me a nice pause in the middle of this crazy time of life. It's so nice to spend a whole day with your honey. And I mean it.
Now I just have to find the will to re-enter life tomorrow. It's my last scheduled week of physical therapy, I have pumpkin to roast for my pies, the kids have table decorations to make, we have family stuff and friend stuff and getting-ready-for-Christmas stuff and just stuff-stuff to do.
I just would rather go back to the movies.

Daily Bliss: living room time with my kids - just hanging out
Wake-up Playlist: Minstrel Number from the White Christmas soundtrack (I guess I'm readier for Christmas than I thought!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Even More Portraits

My brother's house has some really great window light. And my brother Jon has a new Great Dane puppy (His name is Huckleberry! How great is that?). And I needed another portrait or two for my window light portrait assignment.
A convergence of good things.
This one's totally for Winnipeg, my other favorite Great Dane. She would love Huckleberry.

I had lots of fun editing the ones of Mindy and Nolan in Photoshop during class today - just learning the power of what can be done there, even with a good picture.

A couple of things:
My class is almost done. In fact, I'm not entirely sure we will have another assignment, per se. So far, I am registered for the Digital Photography II class. So far. You guys really encouraged me and I thank you. I'm not sure how it'll all work out, but for now, I'm in.
Also, I'm loving the eyeliner tips! I'm going to try all of them! And yes...even purple. Probably.

Daily Bliss: Andrew's symphonic band played at Downtown Disney today and I got to sit on the front row. I am so proud of him! He looked so grown up in his cummerbund and tuxedo pants, and they sounded pretty great too.
Wake-Up Playlist: Debussy, Reverie