Wednesday, December 30, 2015

She Wanted to Savor Every Moment

{Let me say at the beginning that I lost my entire post last night when I went to add photos. So if this seems choppy or a little off, it's because it just very well might be. Life is all about pressing on.} ;-)

It is hard to believe that the photo in the layout below is already two years old, two years older than this gal just above. It seems impossible that over two years have passed by already, but 51-year-old me knows that it has for sure. Am I the only one that feels that life is hurtling along like a freight train?

Not only does the calendar tell me that two years have gone past, my insides do, too. I look at that gal below sitting at the bar at her favorite restaurant, ready to blow out the solitary candle on the key lime pie, and know she is different today. Not because she looks radically different, or not even because her health or agility has changed any, but mostly because I know how she feels about life is now so radically different.

That gal below in her favorite blue anorak had a hard time at the age of 49 going through a day without her eyes leaking. Adjusting to her first year with a bird having flown the nest, and living daily with her last bird that was yearning so desperately to also be free, was so hard on her heart. Loving is hard. Letting go hurts. Life is pressing. The struggle is real.

It's not that today I love my children any less, or wish for any less time with them. In fact, I adore them more. They are such GOOD young men - men full of promise and hope, and men with good manners and kind hearts, men with amazing senses of humor and entertaining wit. Being with them brings me such JOY. I light up at the sound of their laughter, smile at the sight of their red bearded faces. No, today I do not love life more because I miss my children less. I guess you could say that I love life more because I am finally adapted fully {or as fully as I can be right now} to being the mom of young men, of being an empty nester, of being smack in the middle ages of my life. And, oh, it is such a very good life.

What I love about a birthday most is having my birthday month. Not so much as a month long getting of gifts per se, but just an internal recognition that THIS is the month that I age. I begin a new year. I say goodbye to the old year. I reflect on that very good life, ponder the last several months, commemorate the gal that went through the last year, recognize the gal that came out of it, and prep that gal for a new year. I celebrate ME. I love getting a new year on my birthday, and then I love getting a new year when the calendar turns to the crisp, blank, white grid of January white. 

As I look toward 2016, I am mindful of many things. Some of you may be aware of Ali Edwards' One Little Word concept. I believe she began it in 2011. Or maybe that is just the year her promotion of it reached me. I fell in love with the idea, and I have loved my words. Each and every one of them. Loved them. I don't share much of their story, or how they come to me, but I do share the word, and then I live with it, living presently with it, day by day, for its full year of appointment. I kicked off 2011 with my first word, Light. It was followed by Hope, which was succeeded by Change, and taking me then to Thrive, bringing in my 2015 word, Create. And now Create is giving way to its successor,


enjoy or appreciate (something pleasant) completely, especially by dwelling on it.
"I wanted to savor every moment"
synonyms:relish, enjoy (to the full), appreciate, delight in, revel in, luxuriate in,bask in "she wanted to savor every moment"

My word came to me in November, in my birthday month, in the month where my heart broke over my sister-in-law's passing, and in the month where I had to own an even greater portion of my own mortality, a moment when I had to take off the gloves and own that phrase, "There is no dress rehearsal." When I shared my word with my oldest son, he asked me why I chose that word, because he felt I already did that. Does he not know my word chooses me? I told him, I wanted to be even more intentional about it. Yes, she wanted to savor every moment.

I have a decorative sign in storage, with so many of my other things. It says "Life isn't measured by the breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away." much to ponder there. I miss having that daily reminder staring me in the face. I want to be busier seeking moments that take my breath away. And I want to revel in them. 

And then there is that thought about living life in between the dash,

“It isn’t the date on either end that counts,
but how they used their dash
for that dash between the dates
represents all the time
they spent alive on earth
and now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.”

"What that little line is worth...." I want my little line to be worth so much. I don't know what your thoughts are for 2016, or for your dash for that matter, or for any contemplation of your life you might muster. But I do know this. I am here and trying to live fully out of my heart. This is what we have. This moment. This life. This very good life. I want to savor all of it. Yes, my favorite age is now. 

Happy New Year to you and yours. May 2016 be more than you imagine. But more importantly, savor every moment.

My Favorite Age is Now ~ Turning 49 ~ November 2013

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: Basic Jillibean Soup
Title: Silhouette Cut File

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gratitude and the Fullness of Life

Time is a funny thing. It has intervals, but cannot really be measured. It takes up space, and yet is invisible. It is priceless, and yet cannot be bought. As I recall the absolute swirl that November has been, I am humbled by this caretaker of our lives, this fickle and persnickety Father Time. He masters all and answers to none. And he marches on. One week ago today I spent my next to last day as a 50 year old. Two weeks ago today, Paris and all of Europe was normal. Three weeks ago today, my sister-in-law woke up at the age of 50 for the first time. Time is fleeting and fast, and is not sure beneath our step. 

As I pause in preparation for our national day of Thanksgiving in America, I ponder that this is the first year where neither of our sons will be home, and I ponder that this is the first year that my brother-in-law maneuvers his way through his first holiday without his life partner, and I ponder that we all live on a thin line, walking that fine wire between yes and no, today and tomorrow, here and gone.

Since turning 50 last November, I have lived in as much a state as humanly possible of awareness, of presence, of seizing moments, of living fully. As that year has slipped away and now vanished, I am not sure I was aware enough, present enough, captive enough. I don't know to what degree it is even attainable. I saw some photographs recently of Steve this time last year, fresh from the hospital, dealing with a stint, not well and the tell being in his eyes. I look at him closely each day, as if trying to view with my naked eye his insides and assess his health. I want there to be enough. I want there to be more. Of everything.

And yet time mocks me, letting me know that will never be the case, that it is impossible, that I am only given this day, this moment, this breath, this thought, this second. My sweet sister-in-law Susan knew that fully. Battling cancer, faced with obstacles daily in limits that varied, she chose joy and emitted hope. Up to hours before her surgery, one that would take her life ultimately, she looked death in the eye and was courageous and without fear, letting her hospital staff know she was in the best hands, the hands of the Great Physician. I cannot really shake the calm calculating reality of her unquenchable faith, in what would be seen by many as her darkest hour. But, I can try to attain to it, to grasp it, to nurture it. 

As I navigate my days, I think of life from Susan's perspective. Not in a morbid way, but in a way that sees each day as a gift. I think, ironically, of the Disney movie "Cinderella", the live action one. I think not of the pumpkin to carriage, but I think of the long suffering Ella, sleeping on cinders, serving stepsisters, smiling with her companions, showing joy and happiness amidst it all. I think of the scene where her own mother tells her goodbye, of admonishing young Ella to "have courage and be kind." And I see that paradigm as the lens through which Susan lived her last year and a half. While she battled cancer, she chose daily to have courage and be kind. We are so thankful that the cancer did not claim victory over her. We grieve immensely over the misfortune of her aortic dissection, but choose joy in that breaking of her heart as claiming her life versus the poisoned cells inside her. I think that is why Susan could sign "I love you" and wave goodbye as she lay there intubated -- she knew cancer was not winning, but that she was winning.

I read this scripture the night of her viewing, searching for some distraction from the ever present visual, seeking some encouragement from a faith that spans four decades:
 "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." - Colossians 3:1-3
I have gone through my days following her death in the normal fashion: work, leisure, sleep, repeat. But my mind has not really stopped processing her passing. I think of her loved ones - my family - left behind daily, praying incessantly for our healing and peace, for the holes in daily lives to fill over with joy and warm memories. But I think mostly of her looking down the barrel of the shotgun she faced, and staring it down unflinchingly. I think of the courage it took for her to acknowledge the need to say goodbye, and to be okay in saying it. I think of the gift of her signing I love you over and over to her family, a final message that could stand the test of time, and give heart to those fainting under the weight of grief. Yes, her mind was on things above.

I do not mean to be all macabre on this eve of counting our blessings. I mean it more than anything to be a message of intense hope, a message of counting the greatest blessing of all - of being sure of your salvation, of being surrounded by those you love, of being alive and present in this moment. Even though my boys are not here, and I am not in my home, or actually a house, I am more grateful this year than in any other previous November. Our hope is not fixed on this earth, but on things above, and toward that end, I look for gratitude in life, for gratitude in all things.

I found this quote today and wanted to share it:
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."  -- Melody Beattie
My hope for you this Thanksgiving is that no matter where you are, no matter what you eat, no matter who you are with, may this day be a season of intense gratitude in your life, a moment where you can see that all good things are from above, that love has been lavished on you, that our hope is eternal. May you have a day where you remember all that has been done for you, and reflect on the fullness of your life. May the coming year be one where you have acceptance, order, clarity...and where you can see the abundance in your life, the overflowing goodness.

This layout shows our last Thanksgiving spent at Murphy Manor. We didn't know at the time that it would be our last Thanksgiving there. And here's the deal - we never know our last anything. Never. Take in the richness of this moment, and savor the blessings of the season. Look around you and see - you, too, have overflowing goodness in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Be blessed.

Overflowing Goodness ~ Thanksgiving ~ November 2014

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: Basic Grey
Title Font: Rochester

Friday, October 16, 2015

Adventure is Out There

We weren't sure where we were headed when we left the house. Thank goodness for Siri. I mean, Springfield, Missouri isn't everyone's dream destination. ;-) We had some college friends that were from Joplin, Missouri, but I safely say that before June 2011 I really hadn't felt the Show Me state had lived up to its name. We visited St. Louis and the arch in 1997 for a very brief, and now very blurred, drive-through trip, and other than perhaps driving through it as a child with my parents, I had never been to Missouri.

But, you see, back in 2010 I stumbled onto the sweet scrapbooking nectar of the sketch a la Scrapbook Generation, and it wasn't long before I was one of their avid fans. I drooled over every Allison Davis layout long before I knew what Hall of Fame was, and the clean linear style displayed in their sketches and in their work was one to which I always and immediately gravitated. Once I put two and two together and found out that I could use their design work to play with on my own, I was hooked and set about to budget for and snag all of their sketchbooks. I will tell you from that moment to now, I can count on probably one hand the number of layouts I have created that does not use one of their sketches. When they went to electronic sketch downloads in 2013, I was truly in heaven, since I just might have a reputation for my affair with instant gratification. 

So way back in 2010, Scrapbook Generation sent out an email to its customer base, announcing Scrapapalooza. Scrapapa - whata? A crop. A mega crop. A crop with 350 women. A crop with 350 women and an onsite store. A crop with 350 women, on onsite store, classes being taught by Allison Davis, and oh yeah, don't forget the chocolate fountain. Hey, they had me at CROP. Everything else after that was just fruit for that fountain! My incredible and amazing husband did not think I was zany for wanting to go, and in fact agreed to take me. The boys were providentially out of town with a church event, and so plans were made!

The crop was registered for, the hotel was booked, the bags were packed, and the course was set. We would head up Friday night after work, I would crop on Saturday, while Steve would explore the metropolis of Springfield, and then we would head home Sunday. And oh my goodness, you would have thought I was a kid headed to the North Pole in December!

I couldn't believe I was going to get to go to meet the people that had revolutionized and re-energized my scrapbooking, and I would also get to learn from them, and scrapbook under their watchful eye. I can still remember this trip so well. We grabbed a quick dinner Friday evening at Culver's in McKinney before heading due north, and then we were bound for Missouri. Show Me state or bust. What a terrible ride through Oklahoma! Bad roads, small towns, speed zones, traffic lights, 18-wheelers. No matter. We were focused on the destination, not the journey itself. 

Some trips are that way -- where it's all about where you are going to end up, versus how exactly you get there. I'm okay with that. Not every trip is a scenic drive though the Natchez Trace. We were together, and we were headed toward fun. Well, at least I was anyway. ;-) Steve was really just a tag-a-long on this trip more so than any other time, and we were both okay with that. We just truly like being together in any fashion. Always have, always will.

We arrived in Springfield safe and sound. Saturday morning found me bright and early toward the back of the line, waiting for the big doors to open up and admit us to 12 hours of cropping heaven. Steve helped me unload at the curb in that early blinding summer morning sun. It was hot already, I do recall. Even that was okay. It was a wonderful day, all that I hoped for. The Show Me state delivered! I came away from the day with some pages done, but more importantly, I learned some things that day, and even better, I made some new friends. I might even have snagged a few more sketchbooks and paper packs. A road trip just doesn't get any better than that. 

Sure, we stayed at a cheesy little hotel, ate a lot of chain restaurant food, drove more miles than is normal in a weekend, but it was an adventure, to be sure. I love my guy. I love our spirit of adventure. And I'm game for any road trip anytime. If it includes scrapbooking, that's all the better. But usually most of them just include making memories. And that's okay, too. It gives me something to scrap about later. 

We love that Disney/Pixar movie Up. Love the cute characters, the love story, the silly little boy, the crotchedy old man, but mostly we love the message. Adventure is out there! Yes, yes it is! And I aim to keep finding it, one road trip at a time.

Road Trip ~ Headed to Scrapapalooza ~ June 2011

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: Bo Bunny
Cork: My Favorite Things
Title: Silhouette Cut File

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Little Punkin Head

I think Steve and I have adapted fairly well to both boys spreading their wings and launching to college campuses that are 600+ miles from home. I think we really have. I love that he and I have time together, and I am naturally one to crave peace and quiet. Goodness knows we have both of those now in plenty. All in all, life is fairly good presently for all four of us, and we are all enjoying where life's path currently has us placed. I will say, though, that it is hard on me to miss celebrating my April birthday boy's big day with him on the day. Oh, yes, I am that girl. I believe in a birthday day. I was raised with it. Growing up, it meant we had a chore free day that started with being sung to in bed, and it ended with a home-cooked family meal around the formica table that was one of our choosing. Good times, those childhood birthdays. 

As I grew up, I was for the evolution of the birthday day to a birthday week, which gave way to a birthday month. Oh, the birthday month is only in my head. Dear hubby won't play along with it. {I guess I am already far too big of a brat for his indulgence.} ;-) But, birthday month nonetheless do I have. And my Philip ascribes to the birthday month notion as well. It is nice to not be the only one in the family as such. :-) So now this April birthday boy of mine has turned twenty and twenty-one without me, celebrating his day in Nashvegas among his college friends.  Without me there to celebrate with him. He ought to be ashamed. ;-) It's just another measurable moment that gives proof to his emerging adulthood. 

This past April, that little adorable baby boy of mine turned the big twenty-one. Now, our sons enjoy our company, but when it got down to it, it just didn't seem like us visiting him on campus that weekend would be how he would want to celebrate his big day. Steve and I are not that hip. ;-) So, we sent Andrew from Denver to Nashville in our stead. Andrew doesn't have Friday class anyway, so he flew over on Thursday evening and was there on the big birthday day, on Friday, April 10, when Philip Edward turned twenty-one. 

He's a long way from that little punkin head now, isn't he? Somehow both of my tow-headed blonde little boys turned into redheads. Redheaded young men with big red beards. Yes, he is older, and yes, every day is a gift. It has been my absolute joy and pleasure to have a front row seat in the metamorphosis of little blonde Philip to big tall red-headed Philip. 

There are parts of him that have remained constant throughout his life, the chief component being his strong and undying affection for all things Star Wars. He was collecting the little figures before he could even properly pronounce them, and somewhere in storage right now are the remnants of his Star Wars Micro Machine collection, including the big Death Star. He has always been a reader. He has always been a gamer. He has always loved traditions. He has always loved for the four of us to be together. He has always laughed heartily at the antics of his brother. He has always loved animals. He has always been quick to smile, and quick to frown, ever expressive, letting us know quickly and easily where he stood on things. He has always loved fruit and sweet drinks, travel and adventure, trying new things, and having some stay at home downtime.

He is developing an affinity for photography. He secretly nurses the skill of writing. He yearns for a life of purpose. I cannot see past the curve in the earth, and neither can he, and so we wait expectantly to see how his life fully unfolds, and to see what fork in the road God will lead him to. It is such a gift for me to continue to see him grow, even though physically he won't get any taller. His growth now will predominantly be on the inside, as he continues to be molded by life choices and his burgeoning adulthood personal decisions.

If I could wish anything for him, it would be to live in his skin comfortably, to own completely all of his gifts, and to set about to use them with the greatest purpose imaginable. I feel like he can do this. I feel like he will do this. And I aim to sit and watch and enjoy the show for as long as possible. We had an absolutely wonderful time celebrating his birthday during our May family vacation. I know that our time together is less frequent than any of us would like, but I am forever grateful that we do all enjoy being together, and that we have such fun together. It may have been his birthday, but celebrating it together in May was my gift.

Look who's 21! My little punkin head, that's who. Happy Birthday, Philip. Thank you for being a gift in 1994, and every day of your life since then. 

Look Who Is 21 ~ Philip's Birthday ~ April 2015 ~ as seen in CREATE by Scrapbook Generation

This layout was featured in the September issue of Create by Scrapbook Generation which can be seen here on their website. 

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: Carta Bella, Jillibean Soup, We R Memory Keepers
Chipboard: Cosmo Cricket
Stickers: Simple Stories

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Fresh Pot of Coffee...Come On Over

She taught me to invest in others. She taught me to give generously, and then give just a little bit more. She taught me to laugh loud and often, at myself and with others. She taught me to listen - to my heart, to my intuition, to the person sitting next to me, to my spouse. She taught me to believe in my children, to defend them, to fight for them, to protect them, and when appropriate, to spoil them. She taught me to entertain graciously - to have an open hearth and a ready home, and to light it up with the love of others. She taught me to put my best foot forward, and that said foot should be in sporty shoes and have a matching handbag. She taught me how to fight for myself and to win graciously. She taught me how to shake off the naysayers and be true to my own path and my beliefs. She taught me the beauty in unrelentless love, that spans decades, for your family. She taught me how to love a best friend, and to not be afraid of having him for your husband. She taught me how to cultivate an enduring marriage, and to shine the light on your mate from the twinkle in your eye. She taught me how to find joy in the little things, and that there are no little things. She taught me that it was better to live the gospel than speak the gospel, that Jesus was bigger than our problems, and that God was our father. She taught me that it was okay to love coffee, chocolate, fritos and puppies. She taught me that - in all things and times and places and spaces - people mattered most, and loving them was the best work a woman could do. She was a beautiful soul, and my life is blessed beyond measure for having had her in it for all of my life, and yet not near enough of my life. Heaven has been waiting for her for awhile, because who could not be excited about the chance to sit on the couch next to Barbara and catch her up on life, and whisper secrets, and giggle over coffee about the best shared things, the stories we hold dear to our hearts, the love for life and family. Every person she loved here will carry a piece of her in their hearts, in the giggle of a story, in a shared devilish grin, in a wink across the room, in a knowing glance of empathy, in the holding of a hand, in the telling of a story. And I think she would like that. You were loved beyond measure. And you will be missed beyond reason. Thank you for being such a beautiful soul, and for sharing yourself so generously with the world. You were a gift to us all. You were a gift to me. And now you are a gift to heaven. Save me a seat, dear one, and put on a pot of coffee. I will be there sometime. And I will want to sit next to you when I get there. 

I wrote the above today, this Sunday morning, about 24 hours after I got the horrible phone call, and about 26 hours after her actual passing. Even though we age, and life's end is inevitable, there is never really a time, a moment, a second, when you are willing to acknowledge and concede the end. At least not this gal. I want every second to count, and then I want them to count again.

Barbara was a gem. She was a sassy women in an age and time when sass wasn't always necessarily accommodated. She had two daughters older than me, and she was gracious enough in her love to allow others in, including little me, and in my mind I liked to think of her as more than my mom's coffee buddy, more than an aunt, more than a friend. I explained to others that she was my "second mom". She loved me enough to want the best for me, and knew me well enough, and knew my family well enough, to guide me with wisdom, tenderness, and love in any and every situation when I sought her counsel. 

Early memories include sitting on her lap while she shared coffee at our kitchen table with my mom. There was hardly ever a time when my mom could get away with going to Barbara's without me begging to come along. I knew her favorite slippers, I knew the kitchen drawer that held the Fritos, I loved the step up in her bedroom into the "secret area". There is no telling just how many secrets were shared within the dark rich paneling that ensconced her family room. I adored her Christmas decorations each year in her dining room and living room. Each time I would visit, I was prepared to move the newspaper out of the way, be ready to catch up on life, and would delight in seeing what treasures she had picked up lately. I loved how she loved her husband, and I marveled at how deeply he adored her. If there was ever a moment when I thought a perfect marriage could exist, I would say it would have happened on 310 Cedar Lane, in one of the moments I was blessed to be in their company.  

Barbara loved the saying, "If you don't have something nice to say about someone, come sit next to me," which she would always finish off with a tilt of her head, her deep raspy chuckle, a twinkle in her eye, and a sheepish grin. But the truth of that was that while she loved to hear the latest in your life, she was quick to offer wise counsel, and having had many siblings, she had a life perspective that countered brash youthful ideals and helped me stay grounded. Through all phases of my life. There probably has never been another soul with which I have been so painfully honest. I would tell her anything and everything, and I knew she wanted to know because she loved me, and wanted to help me ferret out the ups and downs, the highs and lows of life. I was her Penny Rooskie, her Penny Renny. And she was charming enough to let me think I was her favorite.

After her December 2012 fall, where she broke her shoulder, we were so thankful she recovered. When she fell the following December, breaking her hip, it was too hard to believe that fate could be so cruel, and it was harder still to concede that she would never fully bounce back from that. I saw her twice in her nursing home, taking Steve with me once, and my sons with me the second time. Her face lit up both times when she saw me, and as she greeted me, I just knew she was telling me, as she had for so, so, so many years, "Well, look who it is. Don't you look cute. Come sit next to me." Her brain couldn't make all the words make sense, but the woman I loved was there in her expressions, in her smile, in her eyes, in her hand gestures, and in the love for me that I could still feel. I still chuckle when I think about her going right for those brownies. She did love her sweets. After all, what better companion could a cup of dark, strong coffee have? 

Barbara, you will be missed. There will never be another you for so many of us. I pray sweet Carlton enough -- enough to get him through his remaining days here without his beloved bride of 61 years. My husband, my sons and I will always remember you, and we will love every memory we are blessed to have of you. Oh, to hear the phone ring, and the voice say, "Are you home? Put on a pot of coffee, I'm coming over," or "What are you doing? I've got a fresh pot of coffee. Come on over." Oh, honey. I'd love to. I'd truly love to.

Barbara ~ Remembering a Gem ~ September 19, 2015

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: Carta Bella

Thursday, September 17, 2015

September CREATE - You'll FALL for It!

It's another issue of CREATE! the most amazing part about being on this Design Team is that I get sneaks of everyone's projects as they are completed. And they blow me away every issue! Allison's cover art is just spectacular. Issue 16 is up and live, so go check it out! 200+ pages of amazing layouts, cards, tags, full of inspiration! You can find the CREATE magazine on the Scrapbook Generation website in the Magazine tab, or click the link above.

Now, some sneaks of my work! I did three submissions this issue. We had a product challenge where we featured stamps. I used ten sets of stamps on this two page layout and really loved how it turned out.

And this month Miss Debbie had a wonderful two page sketch feature that I opted to play along on. I love the versatility of the sketches, and turned hers upside down to create a fun birthday look. 

And what would a September/October issue be without a fun Halloween layout? I had so much fun playing with this new Carta Bella paper.

I will post a blog article about each of these layouts later this month, but go check out the fun magazine issue now! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Snickerdoodle Sunday

As I sit and sip coffee, I think back on the week, and in my mind I land on Thursday. It always seems like any day can be national something day. There's an ice cream day, a siblings day, and even the dog days of summer get their turn. National Dog Day was Thursday. My sister teased "Facebook is going to the dogs."  I told her she was so punny.  As we continue to settle in to life in suspended animation, aka life in our apartment, aka life in the clubhouse, we continue to find new things to do each day, new places to explore, new things to hunt for, new discoveries about what is in storage vs. the apartment, all while we grapple with the last few boxes {still} to unpack.

I am not a very patient person. I am not. But I would like to say that since we have now been in the apartment for 4 weeks, and we still have not completely unpacked everything, and I have not gone crazy, that perhaps I am more patient than I realize, or than I give myself credit for. I have *had* time to unpack, but I have chosen to do other things. I have chosen to spend as much time with my boys while they are home in their own brief differing windows of pre-Europe time, I have chosen to create things, to take a road trip to Springfield, Missouri, to get a massage and then brunch with my guys, to visit with a friend, to sit on my tiny patio sipping coffee....As I yearn for things to be completely "settled" in our new life, I have been able to balance that with the greater need for being in the moment and living in that moment, rather than feeding the inner beast that demands to be completely organized. 

I have been wanting to start our evening walks again. Two factors have been against me: the sultry still hot evenings, and the lack of a "new path" here. The weather cooled off a bit, and Truman and I both have been dying for a walk, so Saturday night we decided to just walk around the apartment complex. You should have seen how excited my boo was to finally be prancing around. He was fresh from his beauty appointment Saturday morning, so his step was lighter than usual, as if he knew just how darn cute he was with his new cut and sporty red bandanna. While the walking path was not picturesque or scenic, we made the most of it and just embraced where we were. Isn't that such a life lesson? I think that is how I have handled much of this transition, including the few remaining unpacked boxes. I have made the most of my time, and so be it if we still are a mess here and there in the corners. When given the choice to unpack, or walk this incredibly cute dog, wouldn't anyone choose the latter? ;-)

Truman has been such a joy to us in our days of transition. He has settled in to the apartment life like a champ, and has not once complained about the loss of his big green backyard, full of wild bunnies to chase. He is unsure of all the noises above us, but he will take most of them with a tilt of his head, or a whimper, reserving only the really loud noises for his bark of warning. He is so worried about his momma that he thinks someone upstairs is out to get me. ;-) 

Andrew has been gone two weeks now, and Philip leaves in one week, and this little Truman guy is the one that we get to keep with us. He is turning into quite the rotten little boy. If I had any doubts about that, my husband was sure to let me know just what he thought of my holding this baby in my lap while I did my hair and makeup the other day. Boo was a little scared and my lap is big enough anyway. ;-) Truman has been right there with us during all of his summer moving swirl. 

I had to really chuckle at him on the afternoon we drove back from Tyler. We had run some furniture we were getting rid of over to my sister, and we spent the time there out on the back patio, watching her four youngest children swim. We had taken Truman with us, as it was a day that included an Open House for our home while it was on the market still. We decided he would enjoy the field trip better than being penned up in the laundry room while we were gone and strangers roamed the house. 

And we were right. He just ran circles around that pool, checking out every little change in the kids' activities, and also dealing with my sister's horse puppy, her Grand Pyrenees Scout. We had not been in the car driving long before little boo just settled down to nap, much like little boys that had traveled a decade and a half ago in that same back seat. Yes, Truman is spoiled rotten. But he is my best boo after all, my only boo. Thursday might have been National Dog Day. But in my house, every day is dog day. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

You Are Spoiled Rotten ~ Truman's First Swim Party ~ June 2015

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom!

The absolute best part about moving and now having a 30 minute commute, instead of my former 10-12 minute commute, is that I have my daily momma time again. For the 7 years that I drove across town to west Dallas, I would spend that hour driving on the phone with my mom. And when I left that job and started my wonderful job that is 3 miles from our house in Murphy, I sorely missed those long chatty drives I took with my mom. Now, serendipitously, I get back just enough chat time to hear all the good stuff. And since my older sister retired, I am banking on keeping all of the days for me instead of splitting them with her, as we did last school year. ;-) We will see Monday when that east Texas school bell rings how my retired librarian sister manages her phone time with mom. I'm thinking early bird gets the worm. Ha.

One never knows the stories you will hear when one talks to my mom. On the last three phone conversations I have had with her {Thursday morning, Thursday evening, and Friday morning} I have heard the same story about her big decision on whether or not to get a perm now, or wait until October. It's cute, because the story stays identical almost in each iteration, and I chuckle inwardly at her quandary over the long lasting durability of her perm, and timing it just right for our next Girls Weekend, which is in December. In Florida. {Yes!! But, that is another story for another day.} See, mom is trying to time her perm so that it will be "just right" for our next Girls Weekend together. I always tease everyone that my own hair issues have deep roots. They stem from my mom being a beautician before she was a mom, and all of us girls having hair situations regularly while growing up. But I cannot fault her for deliberating over timing. Durned if I don't still do it myself, even with my short carefree and easy cut.

Today's phone conversation started with me wishing my mom HAPPY BIRTHDAY. She rejected my wish, stating matter of factly, "Well, today is the day I was born, but it's not my birthday." See, about 10 years ago, mother needed a copy of her birth certificate for some legal matter, and in the procurement of that, my dear sweet mom, youngest baby girl of nine children, discovered that she was in fact born on August twenty-FIRST. For over 50 years, she had celebrated her birthday on August twenty-SECOND. And she decided on that day of discovery that she was keeping her celebration day on the 22nd, and just let that 21st day remain on the ignored list. I have teased her most years since then on the 21st. But this morning's response was by far one of the best ones I've ever received. I told her, "Well, mom, just how many people can say that?!" We both had a good laugh. 

{And mom, I am writing this ON the 21st and setting it to post just after midnight today, which will be on the 22nd, so that you will get the email ON the 22nd. So, I am saying Happy Birthday on your birthday, and you will get it on your birthday. And I know you will think about all of that for a little bit.} ;-)

And mom, even though I gave you your gift earlier, I meant to send you a card, but I, in my full fledged 50-year-old mind could not remember to do it, still being in the swirl of getting Andrew off....But maybe this will make up for it. This is a poem I found by Debbie Burrous and it makes me think of you, and it makes my eyes leak a little, too.

A Poem For Mom

You are the sunlight in my day,
You are the moon I see far away.
You are the tree I lean upon,
You are the one that makes troubles be gone.
You are the one who taught me life,
How not to fight, and what is right.
You are the words inside my song,
You are my love, my life, my mom.
You are the one who cares for me,
You are the eyes that help me see.
You are the one who knows me best,
When it's time to have fun and time to rest.
You are the one who has helped me to dream,
You hear my heart and you hear my screams.
Afraid of life but looking for love,
I'm blessed for God sent you from above.
You are my friend, my heart, and my soul
You are the greatest friend I know.
You are the words inside my song,
You are my love, my life, my Mom.
I love you more every day, and I am so excited to celebrate your 78th year, in my 50th year to be in existence on your birthday. I can't wait to hear about your day and I'll even be happy to hear the perm story again. But even beyond that, I am looking forward to our big trip together in December, while remembering fondly our weekend together in April. 

I am blessed by you, and the gift of my sisters. It is wonderful to be in the presence of beautiful souls, and it is phenomenal to know that you are all my family, my friends. I love every day spent with you, and like weekends, there are never enough of them to satisfy me. I love you! Happy Birthday, Mom!

Beautiful Souls ~ Girls Weekend ~ April 26, 2015

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Echo Park
Title Fonts: Lavenderia

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Turning of a Page

This morning I am texting with my son who is in Paris. I am perfectly fine with the fact that he is eating real French onion soup while I am sitting at my desk, working to fund the very expense of his school semester abroad. I do wish deeply, though, that I could have a sip of his espresso, and a bite of his chocolate croissant, and see his smiling eyes. And I wish also that he would post another photo on Instagram. I am wanting another peek at something beyond the Eiffel Tower from Day One escapades and the Arc de Triomphe from Day Two adventuring. 

The other night after work and an oil change, I finished putting away the remaining unpacked remnants of Scrap Central Clubhouse, proof that we are settling in. {Scrap Central Clubhouse blog post here.} Now that one birdie has flown the coop for the fall and our resident foodie is abroad, our home life is settling down somewhat. Our oldest son remains at home, but remember he is my game boy, and most evenings I find him either gone to his part-time job, or laying atop his bed, game controller in hand. It is in his DNA. And I completely understand and embrace him. Sometimes I wonder if we are the only family of four that is comprised solely of introverts. It is a good thing that we do all enjoy being introverts together on occasion.   ;-)

Our oldest did comment on Day Three of being in the apartment, from atop same said bed, to the three of us in the kitchen/dining room, about 12 feet away from him, "I like this new space. We are so close to each other." It has been enjoyable to hunker down together, and be together in our little small space, where different rooms still have the proximity and sameness to them to lend to one a sense of community, of shared time...separate, but joined somehow. We have two weeks and four days remaining with him home, and as I count and, disbelieving the number, recount the days, I am surprised that there are so few left, and my eyes once again do the leaking thing.

It has been a tumultuous few weeks, to say the least. A dear friend described them as tender times. Yes, to be sure. The boys rolled into town, post summer jobs, to a frenzy of last minute packing and moving from our home, and then unpacking into the apartment, and then suspending all of that busyness to just enjoy being together for twelve non-moving days, and then the gradual shifting of together time to the final "get ready to go to Europe" last weekend all together at home phase, the reality that they are both going abroad for the fall, to different cities, for differing semester lengths, setting in heavy on the parental hearts. Yes, tender times to be sure.

My summer was so chaotic that it didn't really seem like summer at all. Full of fun, good times to be sure, but opening a conversation about moving on June 6 can do that to a summer. You know, kill it. I am going to try somehow to eek out a few more flip flop, ice cream, sun soaking days. Thankfully, hopefully, the north Texas September weather will cooperate with me, and let me indulge myself with the quiet joy that can be Indian Summer. Whether or not I was ready though, summer has indeed ended and the checkout lines at Target last night, coupled with the incredibly overflowing mess there of notebook binders and pocket folders, reminded me that school has started, as if my putting my son on a plane to Paris wasn't notice enough. I believe the big yellow school buses will begin their routes Monday in the neighborhoods where I live and work and drive. It is nice to not be entirely certain. I have my own reminders and tells to manage outside the scope of the local ISD's bell ringings.

I am so oriented to a school schedule, though, that even though my big man boys will be schooling across the pond on another continent, and therefore needed no "back to school shopping" this year, other than for luggage and shoes, that this time of year always has me pause and savor the moments and memories that revolved around school calendars and assignments and events. I cannot see August on a calendar and not think "Back to School". I am just programmed systemically to recall the smell of notebook paper, to hear the sound of the chalk on the board, to taste the over buttered perennially served green beans, to see desks in straight rows, like soldiers, ready to battle the incoming masses, to touch the pages of a new textbook and turn them quickly to scope out the future adventures.

I have always been a learner and an avid reader. Oh, mercy, the sound of my mother in the car every summer vacation chanting the same dialog is stamped on my brain, "I don't know how you can sit there with your nose in a book while we are driving through all of this beautiful country." Mother was never a reader until her first shoulder surgery, and so she literally could not fathom the deep adoration of a well-developed plot, much less reading non-stop for every waking daylight car riding hour. Me? I would pore over anything I could get my hands on, and eagerly anticipated the choices I would make on our annual pre-vacation you can only check out ten pilgrimage to the public library. Summer vacation to me as a child was as much about reading as it was about sightseeing and touring.

The boys are readers, too. Each in differing levels and genres, but akin in the ability to follow along cult-like to their respective authors and characters, and reveling in certain release dates and having a list of books to hang on to, even long after it has been read. I don't think they are as voracious of a reader as myself, but I attribute that more to the scarcity of genres that appeal to young men as opposed, say, to a female at any given age. I can read almost any genre, and follow quite  few whereas they are limited to maybe one or two genres....

Enough of that, though, except to say that we are at times a reading house, and quiet afternoons where one can sit and read are available as one desires, and we have always made space in the budget for books, never saying no to a book purchase, and even going out on an errand solely for the purchase of a book. We are house, too, that mourned the passing of Borders bookstore, while yet also secretly embracing the electronic book with our other half of our self, and so knowing we cannot have it both ways, we elect still to buy "real" books as we can, and I should also add that my husband refuses to read an electronic book in any capacity. I would confess that I am really the only e-reader in our house, and it is strictly economics to me, of space and money more than anything. My preference is the big bulky real book, but I read so fast that I cannot contain all of their presence, and I cannot afford them either, given their e-cousin is so much more of a cheaper date.

One May 2009 afternoon found both boys reading downstairs, and just in that instant I had the presence to snap a few photos of them, just more of my every day pursuit to document life. As I look back at these photos now, and see them in their metamorphosing wonder years, sitting on a couch that was surrendered to the garage sale in a house that is no longer ours, I am nostalgic beyond belief, and also simultaneously so very happy that this random reading moment was one remembered. I can recall their tickled annoyance with me for taking the photos, their willingness to be photographed, but their unwillingness to stop reading long enough to be bothered to look up for the camera and smile, and the smirking that ensued on their faces over their clever rejection yet once again of mom and her camera fetish.

Oh, to be sure, that afternoon of reading on the couch, pages were turning. Not only were the boys plowing through their book, but it was almost as if they were growing up before my eyes. Physical pages were turning and in just as real a fashion, virtual pages were turning, too. Boys were giving way to men. School days and recess giving way to semester hours and studies abroad. Oh, for the bliss of another summer afternoon spent reading on the couch. If only I could manage the turning of a page.

Reading on the Couch ~ Boys with Books ~ May 9, 2009

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: October Afternoon
Title Fonts: American Typewriter and Mahogany Script