Friday, December 24, 2010

Nightlights



...from around our town & neighborhood.




The Common 




Something rather uncommon to find on a common these days. 
I look for it every year :) 




pub window

Another "common perspective"...
That boy statue looks frozen solid.
 Every now & then someone has compassion & gives him a new coat ;) 

 antique store window




 Our neighbor's window 

 "Funny" story. We've lived here about 10 yrs. - don't really even know this neighbor & his wife tho' who live just a few houses down & across the street.  They're an elderly couple. We're really friendly but not really friends. Anyhow -  yesterday he was in line behind me at the grocery store & I wasn't sure he'd recognize me out of context but we chatted a bit & I told him how pretty his front window looked & that I'd actually photographed it the night before - & it seems that compliment was the "ticket" for admission into their home...the key to their front door so to speak :)  He invited us in anytime to see it from the inside out! Apparently he & his wife have been collecting carolers over the years & each year they display their ever increasingly large collection beautifully in their front window. We'll probably stop over sometime very soon. I'm looking forward to getting to know he & his wife better after all these years! 


Our next door neighbor's front yard


  hanging from our dining room lamp


 a beautiful "bokeh" of lights!


I did it!  This is basically the same pic as the one above but out of focus. This is an actual photography technique...& it's called "bokeh".   I'd love to be able to claim that I've mastered it! --- but in all honesty, I captured this effect quite by accident. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I believe

Christmas is about believing...but even more so it's about who you believe and who you believe in and why you believe what you believe....and if you believe that what you believe is really real.


Creation is the most creative & convincing form of communication I've ever seen - which is probably why this song, tho' it isn't exactly a Christmas song, illustrates & communicates so well so much of why & what & Who I believe...tho' I'm still hardpressed to understand why what I can see so clearly (some say seeing is believing), some can't seem to see at all.







Creation Calls
Brian Doerksen



I have felt the wind blow,
Whispering your name
I have seen your tears fall,
When I watch the rain.
(Refrain)
How could I say there is no God?
When all around creation calls!!
A singing bird, a mighty tree,
The vast expanse of open sea
(Musical interlude)
Gazing at a bird in flight,
Soaring through the air.
Lying down beneath the stars,
I feel your presence there.
I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray.
Listening to a river run,
Watering the Earth.
Fragrance of a rose in bloom,
A newborns cry at birth.
(Refrain)
I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray
I believe
I believe
I believe
(Interlude)
I believe
I believe
I believe just like a child
(Choir I believe..)
I believe

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/b/brian_doerksen/#share





Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That's MY boy!!...



...on the left! :)






Spokes took 2nd place in a hometown cyclo-cross race Sunday! I cheered like CRAZY!!!! He ReALlY wanted to win this one & the race was soooooo incredibly close the whole entire time (aprx 45 min)  that I guess I felt like perhaps if a screamed louder or pushed him a little harder it would make all the difference in the world.  The winner was dubbed New England Regional Champion for the New England Bicycle Racing Assoc (NEBRA) but in the end (unfortunately after all was said & done) Spokes was given that honor & the red, white & green jersey that went with it bc, as it turned out, the winner was not from New England after all. I'm so prouda that kid -- certainly for how well he did - but even moreso for the character he displays when he races...perseverance, really hard work, good sportsmanship & the list goes on.  He would not toot his own horn - but I'm quite proud (can ya tell?!) to do that honor :)



Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Story as told by Children

A tender & mild start to a busy week ahead...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gifts money can't buy




*
hug
prayer
 a favor  
wisdom
patience
 friendship 
bit of humor
 compassion 
conversation
helping hand
honest answer
 encouragement 
a simple "Thank you"
simple show of interest
random act of kindness
xxx
xxx
xxx






Can you think of any others? 



Friday, December 17, 2010

I've converted...

...to a Mac that is! And from a desktop to a laptop.  I love this new machine! The only things it doesn't do that I wish it did are clean bathrooms & do laundry...bc then I could spend more time here w/ you all :)

I think my 200lb laptop, Big Mak (you can see him in the previous post),  is jealous tho' ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Card Pic



I hafta laugh. 

Is the attempt to capture the perfect (key word here) annual Christmas Card pic, the epitome of the  paradox between reality & what really is?! 

This is not at all what I had planned for our Christmas Card Pic - but -  all of the people I love most in the entire world are in it again this year - along with 200lbs of unconditional love w/ his tongue hangin' out. 

Who could ask for more?!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

true/very short/sad story

Was talking over dinner w/ friends last night. Their daughter has an overdue book at the library that she checked out w/ her very own library card. When her mom inquired about just which book was overdue  she was informed that they could not tell her.  The only one privy to that info is her daughter. The fact that she's only 5 years old(!) - had no bearing on the issue whatsoever.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Heartmelting Christmas Surprises

She has this way of wrapping her creations in the warmth that melts her glass - so - when I opened my mailbox the other day & found a package from her, it was more like opening the oven!  I unwrapped the surprise she'd sent & found myself wrapped in the warmth that wafted out.






Last year, I found this friendly fellow from her in my mailbox. The moment I laid eyes on him the corners of my mouth turned up like his & my eyes sparkled like he does. And -when we hung him on the tree again this year, it happened again!  

 


And ....three Christmases ago now she sent me something so meaningful that I've been paying it forward ever since. Its sparkle sparked a new tradition - a new ADVENTure  - that I've found to be much more meaningful than candy calendars.     





Only Christmas surprises from GlassMelts could warm (melt!) my heart the way they do. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dear Secret Santa,

Thank you so much for the sweet surprise I found in our mailbox! The snowflake card was timely. And the Dunkin Donuts gift card warmed me from the inside out in much the same way the hot coffee it buys will too. And the note... really, Santa, you're too kind.   



God knows, your random act of kindness was so personalized  -
& it made my day so .... special ;)

The Sweet Smell of Christmas

Last night the kids baked & decorated cookies - & filled our home with the sweet smell of Christmas ...









Saturday, December 11, 2010

Truffles

 They look exquisite....



...but they're so simple to make that I think I can handle it. 
 Click the pic to reach the recipe if you're interested.

A Taxing Question



What IS a "fair" tax?

Read THIS, then you decide.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Laughed hysterically while crying my eyes out



I'd rather have a half hour of wondeful than a whole life of nothing special.
Shelby (Julia Roberts)



 Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.
Truvy (Dolly Parton)

I think perhaps the last time I laughed hysterically while crying my eyes out at the very same time was the last time I watched this movie twenty years ago!


                                             In a good shoe, I wear a size six, but a seven
                                                       feels so good, I buy a size eight.
                                                               Truvy (Dolly Parton)


When someone asks me about my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias always comes right to mind but the truth is I've only seen it once & it had been so long since I'd seen it that I'd  forgotten most of it. I remembered the basic plot, a few characters & that I sobbed & sobbed - which is unusual for me.  Anyhow, I was curious to see again just why I liked it so much! - sooo - a while back I placed it in my Netflix que where it finally worked its way to the top. Last night I talked my girls into watching it with me. My husband stuck it out for a bit but couldn't take it... much too much of a chic flik for him.  Nostalgic in a 1980's/retro sorta way -- think pink(!), big hair & small southern town friends, family, food, fun & faith combined w/ a wide range of personalities & stuff of life -- from celebrations to sacrifice.

                          I'm not crazy, I've just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!

                                       Ouiser - aka Weezy (Shirly MacLaine)


Truvy's beauty shop reminds of the little shop, Pink Puff, where my mom & I used to have our hair cut when I was a young girl... lotsa little ol' ladies gossiping while the stylists w/ boufon (I have no idea how to even spell that!) hairdos, blue eyeshadow, black eyeliner, fake eyelashes & polyester pants worked magic on their clients (not me!) w/ a teasing comb & hairspray ;)

                                   There's no such thing as natural beauty.
                                               Truvy (Dolly Parton)


Based on Robert Harling's play, this comedy-drama directed by Herbert Ross (The Turning Point) follows several years in the lives of women who regularly see one another at a beauty shop in their small Louisiana town. The story deepens as Julia Roberts, playing a serious diabetic and the daughter of Sally Field, goes downhill in her health. But as an ensemble piece, this is one of those enjoyably lumpy tearjerkers with many years' worth of stored truths suddenly being shared between the characters, lots of grievances aired, that sort of thing. Daryl Hannah and Shirley MacLaine assume the most eccentric roles, Dolly Parton the most fun, and Olympia Dukakis the most dignified, while Sally Field essentially provides the moral and emotional center of the movie. --Tom Keogh - Amazon.com

                        That sanctuary looks like it was hosed down with Pepto Bismol.
                                     M'Lynn / Shelby's momma (Sally Fields)

                           Remember what Daddy always says. "An ounce of pretension
                                                   is worth a pound of manure!"
                                                        Shelby (Julia Reynolds)


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Year in (alphabetical) Review



The ABC's of 2010

A - Africa! & Ark-e-o-logy


B - Bats - at the Sixth St. Bridge in Austin, TX


C - Congrats to our College Grad! (Spokes)


D - Dual Enrollment (Playmaker)


E - Employee of the Year! (Husband)


F - First day of public (charter) school


G - Grampa's 90th Birthday!


H - Henna tattoos at the beach (The girls)


I  - Inner Space Cavern in TX - (husband & I)


J  - JV Ice Hockey Team (Playmaker)


K - Katie (our dog) died :(    -  Kites at the beach & Kayaking


L  - Started making homemande laundry soap! So simple!


M - Spokes moved out.  - Malakai's 6th Birthday


N - Ngaparu - had great fun there at a beach house in Africa


O - Ohio & Old Orchard Beach, ME


P - Canned pickles, peaches & pears - Hiked Purgatory Chasm - Pond Hockey/Skating


Q - Quote tacked above our kitchen sink: 


                    "To be different is easy. Making a difference - now that's a challenge!"


R - Retaining Wall - rebuilt ours


S - Sweet 16 & Soccer (Playmaker)


T - Strike's a teenager!


U - U16 Travel Softball Team (Strike)


V - Vermont & homemade vanilla


W - Worm Farm - Water Skiing - Wild Animals (in Africa)


X  - Cyclo-X Racing (Spokes)


Y  -  Yippee! (Planning how to celebrate our 25th Anniversary next year :)

Z  - Zing! Zang! Zoom! (Ringling Bros. Circus) - Saw Zebras there & in Africa too :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

O Holy Night

I'm enjoying playmaker's piano practice these days. She's learning a new techniqe & I love how she's applied it to this song.



O Holy Night from J L on Vimeo.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hallelujah

Had I been there, I would have been compelled to stand & join in .... or at least to stand! :)      ....

Christmas Past

Was just thinking about Christmas when I was growing up in Arizona. I remember ....


Big colored glass lightbulbs along the front roofline of the house that got really hot to touch.


A small green plastic Christmas tree w/ red berries on it sitting on the counter between the kitchen & the den & a Bible open to the Christmas story laying on top of a blanket of artificial sparkly snow beneath it. How I wish I still had that and the kinda odd blue-ish & gold nativity scene that I thought was rather unattractive. No set up required. The figures were permanently in place in the stable.


Our Christmas tree....I was mesmerized by it...thought it was so beautiful! - until I started comparing it to others & realized how pretty it really wasn't :) Artificial...olive green (seriously) & decorated w/ a gold ribbon of tinsel & colored lights...rather gaudy if you ask me - but what I would give to go back in time and see it again!


Spray on snow decorations in the window.


My mom showing me how to make candycane cookies - the kind where you tint half the dough red & twist two strands together to make the candy cane effect. I loved doing that!


I vaguely remember going to the mall to see Santa fly in on a helicopter!


We opened our gifts on Christmas Eve & our stockings on Christmas morning. Some of my most memorable gifts....


A teddy bear - I still have him today!


A shiny deep teal new two wheel bike my big brother gave me because he felt bad about running over my tricycle! I can probably count the times on my fingers that I've ever been so excited in all my life :)


A Barbie airplane.  I imagined how fun it would be to be a stewardess (that's what they were called back then) & travel the world. The Barbie airplane was like an odd shaped suitcase of sorts and opened up wide to form basically half a plane. I had more fun w/ that. I loooved Barbies.  

Going to the midnight (11:00) service at church that ended with everyone gathered outside holding candles & singing.


Chrismas dinner was often at our house. My mom's Aunt Helen & Uncle Mart, an odd couple, would usually drive from Tucson to join us  - & "Aunt" Jennie - a family friend who never married & was more like part of our family would drive from Tucson as well. She'd stay overnight on Christmas eve & spend Christmas day with us. She'd usually bring a green or red Jello something for Christmas dinner. The day after Christmas she and my mom would go out shopping the after Christmas sales for Christmas cards & wrapping for the next year.


aaahhhh memories. I wonder what my children will remember most.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Shoes for Christmas



The last thing I really need is a new a new pair of shoes, but the two pairs delivered to our door the other day are special  - in a rather magical sorta way!   They'll give my husband & me the ability to...

 walk on frozen water crystals
over the river & thru the woods
amidst a wintery wonderland
 making memories (a favorite hobby of mine),
taking pictures
&
leaving only footprints behind.  

A thousand thankyous & then some, Santa, for the new showshoes!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snow beautiful



Each one is an intricately designed unique work of microscopic art. They're so perfect! - But that's to be expected considering how nature reveals the nature of the Creator.






Wouldn't this make a lovely gift/coffeetable book:



Product Description


A cute giftbook packed with glorious color microphotography of real snow crystals by Dr. Snow—Caltech physicist Kenneth Libbrecht. His photos of snowflakes have appeared in National Geographic, the New York Times, and on Martha Stewart’s TV show, as well as numerous other places. This thick “cube” book is packed with a blizzard’s worth of amazing images as well as literary quotes on the beauty of snow.


or - for those who prefer children's books...


Amazon.com Review


Most children are captivated by snow, but how many go on to make it their lifework? This beautiful biography, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, tells the true story of a Vermont farm boy who was mesmerized by snowflakes. Wilson Bentley was fascinated by the six-sided frozen phenomena, and once he acquired a microscope with a camera, his childhood preoccupation took on a more scientific leaning. Bentley spent his life taking countless exquisite photographs (many that are still used in nature photography today), examining the tiny crystals and their delicate, mathematical structures. Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells this tale with simple, graceful prose that will engage children's imaginations. Edifying and snowflake-scattered sidebars offer more information about Bentley's methods and snowflake science. The artwork of Mary Azarian, whose 19th-century hand-press illustrations decorate the charming Barn Cat, shines once again in Snowflake Bentley, with woodcuts that reveal an appreciation for detail as well as for the man who loved snow. The lovely illustrations and equally fresh text will inspire and comfort youngsters (and grownups too) who wish they could capture snowflakes all year long. (Ages 4 to 8) --Brangien Davis --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reflecting on Christmas - Here & Now & There & Then

In contrast to the chaos just outside in the bustling little town of Bethlehem as the census was underway, I picture the moment that birthed the most wonderful reason since time began to celebrate -  as quiet & quite peaceful in the humble stable where Jesus was born - and the focus of those in His presence on His presence...angels performing live the most beautiful background music ever & a touch of sparkle appropriately placed in the stars above and in the reflection from Mary's eyes as she gazed directly into the face God.


It's not so different here & now as it was there & then as busy-ness, noise and distractions vye for our time & attention - but in so far as our home is concerend, I want it to more closely resemble the stable than the world outside our door as we celebrate Christmas ... to be a sanctuary of sorts. Not necessarily picture perfect ... but picture peaceful music and just enough sparkle, appropriately placed, to shift one's focus now & then.


I picture too how dark, smelly, dirty & cold the stable must've been. How odd it seems that the King of Kings & Lord of Lords would consider such a place to be the perfect place to make His presence known - yet the better I get to know Him,  the more I understand about the why behind where He chose to make His earthly debut - so perhaps it shouldn't surprise me so much that he would choose such a similar place - that being my heart - to make His dwelling place. Nonetheless, I still can't help but wonder ..."Why...!?".  Yet He, as only He can, has transformed my skeptical "Why?!" into the very reason why I celebrate Christmas.


As I imagine the sparkle in Mary's eyes reflecting the light of Christ as she looked Him in the eyes, I wonder if perhaps we might enjoy a similar privilege should we choose to keep our focus on Him this Christmas.


For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Common Scents

Click the pic for a Christmas Potpourri recipe using a blend of citrus & common household spices. I wanna try it :) Again - so simple! 

The ADVENTure is about to begin

...& I'm determined to try to keep our family's focus more on Christ & giving (sharing Christ) & less on us & receiving - which theoritcally means I have today & tomorrow to finish up Christmas shopping for our family. Yikes! - I'd hoped to be done before Thanksgiving!

I definitely want to embrace the tradition begun two years ago of celebrating Advent by attempting to bless someone unsuspecting each day w/ a random act of kindness  - & challenging my family to do the same. But this year I want to shift the focus more onto Christ by doing more random acts anonymously &/or spontaneously....not necessarily planning/premeditating each one but rather by praying  for guidance & looking for that unsuspecting one, on any given day, to be revealed, then blessing them in such a way that will honor Christ and give Him glory. If I'm more concerned about why I'm doing this and Who I'm doing it for & less concerned with how much I do, that should make a big difference. 

 
What more central location in a home is there for an Advent calendar than the refrigerator?! ....which  is why I'm considering the possibilities this clever (magnetic!) calendar contains for keeping our focus on Christ this Christmas season. I thought of tucking into these tiny tins, the names of people - or groups of people - to bless &/or pray for specifically on "that day"  - or a scripture reference to look up daily as a reminder straight from God's Word about Who & why we celebrate Christmas. I'm not crafty but am seriously considering making this because it's so simple & practical .....& I'd love to pass it on down to my grandchildren someday. 



via: http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/christmas/decorating/countdown-to-christmas/?page=9



***


These mittens could certainly be used to work the meaningFULL magic of Christmas in a similar fashion  ....



via: http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/christmas/decorating/countdown-to-christmas/?page=23

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Givingthanks

Wow - what a difference it makes when you wake up and start the day by focusing not on what you want and wish could be different - but rather on all the blessings you have to be thankful for and the fact that there is nothing you really need. It's ironic how shifting our focus this way brings the One to whom we should give thanks into focus more clearly as well.  

My husband & I have been up and at work in the kitchen for a while now. We've always enjoyed preparing the Thanksgiving feast together. The turkey is nicely filling the void left by the  piping hot cinnamon rolls that did a fine job preheating the oven for us.  Spokes is home & has already left for an early morning bike ride w/ a friend (mind you our thermometer said it was 23 degrees outside when he left the house!).  The girls are sleeping in late.

The house is quiet & cozy. Usually we have a house full of guests on this day - but this year it's just our family. All five of us. I love when we're all together in one place. I'm feeling a bit selfish & wrestling with a bit of guilt for not inviting anyone else over, but evenso I'm treasuring this time with the people I love most in the whole entire world & thoroughly reveling in the freedom this low key/stress free day affords to really focus more on all that I have to be grateful for and less on how clean my house is & how comfortable guests are, etc. Even my table, soon to be laden with a bountiful feast, is shaping up to reflect the simplicity of this simply special day. It's different - but so good.


Oh my! Look what my husband just delivered here to the corner of my world...


Please excuse me now. The Macy's Thanksgving Day Parade is about to begin. Hooray! The girls just woke in the nick of time.

Happy Givingthanks!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkinpalooza


I'm a bit late postin' these  - kinda playin' catch up today -  but wanted to share my husband's pumpkin pi. And Playmaker took her carving to a new & different level using her daddy's power tools to make a pretty lantern. She and a friend also carved this punkin' pirate.... but you're gonna hafta tilt your head to the right...as I cannot get this pic to rotate...she sent it to me from her phone....mb that has somthing to do w/ it?

aarrrrgh

a (Sun)day hike


Yesterday we met up w/ friends for a hike in the forest & a picnic w/  an unbe"leaf"able view....meaning the landscape is changing ...still beautiful - just different - as many, if not most, of the leaves are on the ground now and adding a slippery challenge to a familiar hike.  Then - back to our house for hot chocolate, a round of Guesstures (great game!) & chili dogs cooked over the fire. It was great fun to spend the afternoon w/ a group of terrific kids. Enjoyed the energy,  the silliness -  & perhaps most of all.... the laughter :)

A sweet surprise

My husband & I  recently had dinner at Panera and on the way out we peeked at the sweet treats for sale. I must admit tho'...I lingered ....for much more than just a peek once I laid eyes a certain mountain of a muffin.


My husband must've noticed. Hopefully it was the way my eyes locked onto it - and not drool  - that gave him his first clue as to how I longed to be one w/ that mountain!  A few days later he stopped in again to pick up bread to go w/ our dinner & the next morning, after he'd left for work, low & behold - there IT was....or was I dreaming?! No - it was real - and it was sitting right there on OUR kitchen counter! As a token of his love, my husband had given me the mountain!..... All for one (ME!) and one for all (me AGAIN :)! ...and left other pastries for each of the girls too!


Thank you, honey - for making that ordinary day so special by starting it off w/ such a sweet surprise.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bit o' timely humor


Timing is everything when it comes to humor right?  Well - this is timely.
 One look out my window reveals
 piles of "clothes" that should be picked up today :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

You have to see it to believe it

My husband & I went out to dinner & a movie last night. First time we've done that in a long time but this story captured my interest as soon as I heard about it & I really wanted to see it. Little did I realize tho' - before watching the movie - that it took place "in our backyard".  

True story. Rated "R" for good reason...language, graphic scenes/evidence, etc. .... but - if the truth is rated "R",  so be it. To tone it down would only make it - well, less than true - and in this case, the truth is what set a man free - after 18 years in prison.

You have to see it to believe it.

(click the pic to link to the trailer & source of the synopsis below)


CONVICTION is the inspirational true story of a sister’s unwavering devotion to her brother. When Betty Anne Waters’ (two-time Academy® Award winner Hilary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, Betty Anne, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction. Convinced that her brother is innocent, Betty Anne puts herself through high school, college and, finally, law school in an 18 year quest to free Kenny. With the help of best friend Abra Rice (Academy Award nominee Minnie Driver), Betty Anne pores through suspicious evidence mounted by small town cop Nancy Taylor (Academy Award nominee Melissa Leo), meticulously retracing the steps that led to Kenny's arrest. Belief in her brother - and her quest for the truth - pushes Betty Anne and her team to uncover the facts and utilize DNA evidence with the hope of exonerating Kenny.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Music

I love the scene in Sherlock Holmes where Sherlock says:

"I, using musical theory - have created order out of chaos."

&

 it actually caused me to wonder if perhaps, at the beginning of time,
that's how God did it originally





&


with as many times as trumpets are mentioned in Revelation,


if perhaps, in the fullness of time, that's how He'll do it again.


6Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
Revelation 8:6


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Greatest Show On Earth


We went to the circus recently and had a ball! Just had SO MUCH FUN & the kids were all ready to join up by the time the show was over :)

 
Got to take in a little behind the scenes action


Ohhh say can you see... 




Hubby woulda liked to have brought home this as a souvenir! :)


No circus is complete without Cotton Candy!

















The girls now want a tiger - of their own. I suggested we just paint some black stripes on Big Mak and use our
i-m-a-g-i-n-a-t-i-o-n :)