It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Dare I say it? Christmas.

Christmas music has been playing in our local stores since November first. Yesterday the decorations were already up at the grocery store strip mall. That’s a little too soon, even for this elf.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas and everything that goes with it. I love shopping and wrapping and secrets and sparkly things and Christmas plays and lights… I really should have been an elf.  I was 10 years old  and in 5th grade when my (very mean) best friend insisted Santa wasn’t real. I still don’t believe her.

That’s me on the right, listening intently to what my future boss had to say.

Barb&Deb2
Every Christmas Eve Mom would bundle us up and we’d pile into the car to go pick our Christmas tree. We’d drink hot chocolate while Daddy brought the tree into the house and set it in its stand. We’d make a big production of giving it lots of water, hang our stockings from the mantel and go to bed. I couldn’t sleep wondering if every noise I heard might be Santa on the roof. It’s a wonder I survived the anticipation at all.

Our first house in New Jersey was a wee little two-bedroom rancher. You could see the entire living room from our bedroom door. On Christmas morning my sister and I would fling open that door and freeze in absolute wonder. The bare tree we left in the stand was now fully decorated and lit, the only glow in the room, surrounded by presents. Pure magic!  >sigh<  Goose pimples.

Christmas_ThirdAvenue

Our magical tree, 1968.

I was eight when we moved across town. Our new house had two stories and the impact of seeing that sight as we flew down the stairs on Christmas morning was a new brand of magic that didn’t disappoint.

Christmas-1972

Christmas 1972: I’m the elf on the left. 

Two years later we moved to Florida, and the tradition changed in a lot of ways, but Mom’s knack for the magical smoothed it over.

Then I grew up and learned a few things. Like Christmas trees are free on Christmas Eve. And Mom and Dad had to wait until we were sleeping to begin decorating the tree, so they got maybe 30 minutes of sleep Christmas Eve. And it looks like a lot more presents when the room is only 8 feet wide. And the tree looks much bigger when you put it on the coffee table and you’re only four feet tall.
And knowing the secrets behind the magic makes it even stronger, because it was made with love.

But the best part of being a grown-up is that I get to make the magic now. After all, I did inherit Mom’s elf gene.

5-Minute Friday: Friend

MenMamaJo

Thirty years my senior, she is mama and friend rolled into one. Her soft voice and calm spirit sooth my often frenetic one. She loves unconditionally and nurtures relentlessly. She is home away from home, the voice in my head when I’m vexed. We met when I was 18 years old and rough around the edges. She recognized what I didn’t yet see in myself and built on that. On my very first visit I was especially cranky the morning I left. “You arrived full of smiles and you’ll leave the same way,” she said, hugging me. I put on my happy face and did as I was told.  There’s a security in the kind of love that accepts you where you are but loves enough to challenge your growth.  She’s loved me through marriage, babies, divorce, school, life. My daughter bears her name, a daily reminder of the grace that flows from her life.

Now I am 50 and she will be 80.  She moves a little slower since I saw her last, but not much.  Her relaxed pace forces me to breathe deeper, enjoy the moment, remember the day. We share and laugh as we talk of crafty things and inspiration, life and change.   Even without trying she challenges me to be better. That’s what a true friend does.

Five Minute Friday
Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.  

 

5 Minute Friday: Mercy

I look at him, he looks at me, and we know… it’s time.  Some day has arrived.  We agree to put feet to the idea that’s been bouncing in our heads. We quietly pay attention, searching for treasure. The more we look the harder it becomes. How can we choose just one?  A spark.  A dead end. We stop, waiting  for a word, a whisper… none come. The choice is ours.

There. A name. We choose.

A voice sings back to us. Love spills out through tears.

Her name is Mercy.

Learn more at www.worldvision.org

 

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 Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

Things I Learned in August

All last week the temperatures dipped and we happily flung open the windows to let in the cool breezes. It was actually chilly when the sun set.  My feed is full of first-day-of-school smiles and around here parents are doing last-minute shopping before school starts Tuesday. This morning I got out of my car and noticed these at my feet…. which means it’s happening whether I’m ready or not. Summer is coming to a close.

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Fall is my favorite, but summer has whizzed by this year.  It’s part of why I like linking up with Emily’s What I Learned posts – I’m a little more intentional about noticing what’s happening around me.  So here are 6 things I learned in August:

1. Icees and Slurpees are the exact same thing made by The Icee Company. If you buy it at 7-11, it’s called a Slurpee. Either way, they’re my go-to treat on the long ride home from a day at the beach.

2. I learned how to eat a fresh fig from our newly discovered fig tree. I had never had one before. They are so sweet… a cross between a strawberry and a peach.  I have no clue how Fig Newtons get their flavor, because they don’t taste anything like these. And they’re so pretty!

fresh figs

3. Door knobs made of copper and its alloys kill germs all by themselves. I learned this from my super smart son.  Go to bed and yesterday’s germs are no more. Great news for busy moms! Silver possesses this same quality, which is why old school canteens were lined with it. BEWARE: Stainless steel and aluminum are germ breeding grounds, which has me looking to see what types of knobs are used in public places…  You can read more here.

4. If I want to type a copyright © symbol in Photoshop (or Word!) I just hold down Alt while typing 0169. Trademark ™  is Alt + 0153. The Registered ® symbol  is Alt+ 0174  I find this really nifty. For those wondering, it works in WordPress, too. 😉

5. I learned how to dye fabric!  This could be dangerous. The math was scary, but I think I can do it. I had the best day with some other gals learning together. I can’t wait to experiment on my own and see what I come up with.

DyingFabric_1

DyingFabric_tada

6. Our property is 140 feet bigger than we thought it was. We have  a little over ¾ of an acre, not ½ like we were told. Yowza! That’s happy news for the Hunk – it means all that grass he’s been mowing really is ours.  When you have ¾  of an acre you can also  justify owning a little red tractor named Rosie to help with mowing.

What did you learn this summer? Head over to Emily’s and link up!

More Than Just 15 Minutes of Fame

I stumbled upon this video soon after it was posted, and it’s totally gone viral. An unknown voice teacher is randomly selected from an audience to sing a duet with Kristin Chenoweth, becoming an instant celebrity when she nails it. It’s a real life dream-come-true story. Kristin was all class, and made some wonderful comments after the performance.

Then there’s the story about the 96 year old man who says he’s not a songwriter and can’t sing… but he enters a song writing contest to honor his late wife of 73 years. The producers of the contest love his heart and honor him in an amazing way. Have a tissue handy. 😉

Sarah and Fred weren’t looking for their 15 minutes of fame. They were everyday people acting on what they feel passionate about… and touched thousands as a result.  Kristin Chenoweth and Green Shoe Studio‘s willingness to push someone else into the spotlight is inspiring and refreshing.

5 Minute Friday: Beautiful

Real life suspended for a day. Sun glimmering off green water. Ice cream truck treats. Laughter and watermelon. Cheesy glowing necklaces and really loud music. Hot summer breezes that caress sun-kissed skin. Picnics full of summer food. Crowds and chatter. A quilt to sit on. Parades. Flags waving. Neighborhood firecrackers. The Star Spangled Banner. Red, white and blue. Misty eyes and a lump in the throat.
Faces upturned, glowing in fireworks’ light.  Beautiful.

 
Five Minute Friday
Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.  

6 Things I Learned in June

I’ve always looked at summer as the time to try new things and explore in ways I don’t have time to the rest of the year. Not sure why, because summer is just as full as any other time of year. Perhaps the longer days hold promise for experiencing more. I haven’t tackled anything on my summer wish list yet, but I have learned a few things.
In no particular order:
Watch what you pray for. Not that I didn’t already know this, but I had a healthy reminder. When the Hunk lost his IT job in February it was nice having him home. But I work mostly from home, and after three months it started getting crowded in here. I kindly asked the Lord to find my man a job before we had issues. Then the Hunk went back to work with his brother doing masonry. He kisses me goodbye at 6 AM and doesn’t kiss me hello until after dark…. seven days a week. I miss him.  I’m grateful for the work, but I was hoping for something a bit more in between the extremes. I keep reminding myself that this is a season and the Lord has it all worked out.

Doing is more fun than wishing. After the devastation in Oklahoma last month I found myself wishing I had the money to buy a bunch of fabric and make quilts for people who needed their loving warmth. Then I won some super cute blocks at our guild meeting and instead of wishing I started sewing. I emptied some more boxes from the attic and found a bunch of fabric I’ve never used and decided to use what I have on hand. So far I’ve finished two quilt tops and found a couple gals to help get them quilted to give away.

I’ve been tying my shoes incorrectly my entire life. One wee adjustment has eliminated the need for double knots. Who knew?

Sometimes the hard thing I avoid is actually the easy thing in disguise. I love Adobe Photoshop. I’ve owned every version since it was released in 1990. I had one class that used Adobe Illustrator and I thought it was in Russian, because I didn’t understand anything they said. I didn’t open the program again. Until last week. I had a job to do and Illustrator was what I needed to do it. So I had to boss myself around and Google how to do things – a LOT. And I learned that a whole lot of what I’ve been doing in Photoshop is much easier to do in Illustrator. Imagine that.  I also can’t help but think there is a life lesson in there….

Squirrels’ teeth never stop growing, according to my sweet friend at the bird food store, which explains why they chew the rails on my back porch… and why they chewed a hole through my metal squirrel-proof bird feeder. Little boogers.

I have a fig tree and a sassafras tree in my yard.I had no idea until a friend pointed them out to me. We also have two pecan tress and a pear tree that I knew about. The squirrels bite into the pears before they’re ripe and spit them out onto the ground, so no one gets to enjoy them. The fig tree is chock full of young figs. I wonder if it was better that I didn’t know… because now I’ll be bummed if the squirrels get to them before I do.

5 Minute Friday: Fall

A steady rain is falling outside. 
Leaves rustle as water falls through treetops. I linger longer between the sheets to enjoy its soothing cadence. A soft, moist breeze flows through the open windows, filling the room with the fresh scent of a world washed clean, if only momentarily.  There’s something about the combination that makes the day feel slower, tempting me to curl up with a book and play hooky today. 
As if they can hear me, the clouds part and the sun appears in time to expose my plan. My routine commences, but the day continues slower than usual, in a quiet, rainy-day way.

Five Minute Friday

Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.  

 

5 Minute Friday: Song

I love my bedroom and the way the dappled light comes through the window as the sun rises. My side of the bed offers the perfect view of shimmering leaves and dancing light. I especially relish the times of year when open windows bring bird song riding in on soft breezes. This morning was one of those mornings. Isn’t it just like God to begin a new day with song filling the air? I like the birds’ attitudes… start each day singing your heart out. Then, when life wakes up and starts yanking me around, my song will be the echo in my head that I can’t shake.

Five Minute Friday
Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.  

 

5 Minute Friday: Friend

Friend.
Riding bikes everywhere, nowhere.
Guitars in the park, fingers numb.
Song voices praising.
Long walks and private dream conversations.
Boys that were.
Creating art, wee ones sleeping.
Beach refuge from life adventures.
Mundane and magical tangled in one.
Men that are no longer.
Aging and grace, fighting, releasing.
Motherhood heart things, life celebration.
Miles and miles, right here always.
Never apart.
Friend.
Five Minute Friday
Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.