Friday, December 31, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

39 years...

It’s the oddest thing but I really feel like this past year has been the best so far...and I’ve had some good ones. Never has there been a year more filled with ups and downs, but through each and every blow I have felt God’s presence. He was there in the valleys and He was there on the mountain tops.

Thinking back on my last birthday and I’m reminded of a post I found through someone (Meadowlark?) about “there’s always a day before”.

Last year was my day before an entire year full of days before. The day before the wee girlie got sick. The day before the VA re-evaluated Sean’s disability and reclassified him at a much higher rate. The day before both of our beloved pets passed away. The day before we chose to live, not merely survive. The day before we adopted a momma kitty and her kitten. The day before I decided to push my own limits. The day before I resigned from what was once a loved job position. The day before our first born stepped on the school bus headed for kindergarten. The day before his teacher confirmed what we already knew--our child is brilliant...above and beyond his classmates. The day before a rambunctious Bella dog came into our lives. The day before our lawyer was disbarred and Sean’s defamation suit was declared null and void...and the playground bullies got to win another round. The day before a sharp eye in accounting discovered a overtime pay glitch and we received a fairly decent sized backpay check--just in time for Christmas. The day before my entire family...mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, two nephews, niece, husband, son and daughter...gathered around our dining room table for Christmas Eve curry. The day before my very first Christmas snow. The day before my 39th birthday.

And each day seemed like any other day. Little did we know when we laid down to sleep each night that the next day our lives would be changed forever, just a little bit more. And that at the end of the year I would look back and see that we have been unmeasurably and undeservedly blessed. Never once--in all this long year--have I doubted that we were cared for, loved and looked after.

I have a hunch my 40's are going to kick some serious butt.

Friday, December 24, 2010

On this Christmas eve...


Weather guessers are talking about it snowing tomorrow...maybe into Sunday. May be a lot...may be nothing. Either way, my children are delighted with the news.

My childhood Christmases were spent in warmth...the southern hemisphere is funny that way. I discovered this rather sweet song last year and I wanted to share it again...even if it does make me a little homesick. Odd that. Since I'll be spending Christmas day with my family...parents, sister, niece, nephews all included. But I miss the warm Christmas days.





Slight disclaimer...if you've never heard Tim Minchin before, he's a delightful comic but he can be fairly rough in language. Whatever. He's Australian...what can I say?

Monday, December 20, 2010

A fine and true romance...

He was by himself, sitting on a barstool, facing the dance floor. A friend introduced us. And I thought he was the most beautiful and charming man I had ever met. I don't remember what we talked about...I probably made some attempt at wit and stumbled over my words like I had a tendency to do.

He doesn't recall that meeting at all. Truth be told, that night almost sixteen years ago, I was fairly forgettable. Extra weight and a few bad relationships in my wake had left me lacking in self confidence. By that point in my life I was resigned to simply settle for Mr. Okay-And-Won't Be-Mean instead of holding out for Amazing. I was Outspoken, Opinionated and Independent. And I was convinced there was not a man alive who would live with me being all of the things that made me, well...Me. There had been ones in the past who said they would...in the beginning. But then they changed their minds and decided that instead of leaving, that they would attempt to change me. It never ended well.

That night in January, I walked back to the barracks having a chit chat with God. I asked Him why couldn't someone like that ever be interested in someone like me? Because that's the kind of man I could spend the rest of my life with. Little did I know that God had made that one amazing man just for me.

Today we celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. It hasn't always been easy...but if marriage was easy, then the divorce rate wouldn't be as high. There have been times we were tempted to call it quits. But we didn't. Because we remembered back to the beginning and the storms we'd already weathered. We remembered that if any two people truly belonged together, it was he and I. I love him more than I ever thought possible and I feel cherished and loved in return...every single day.

I know our best years are ahead of us and I'm looking forward to spending the next 12...24...50 years with this man!

Friday, December 17, 2010

On a cheerier note...

My dad (Hi, Daddy!) shared some of his delightful pictures from our Jingle Bell 5k!

My sister...running partner, trainer, inspiration and life long friend...I don't think I would have stuck with the running thing long enough to discover how fun it actually is if she hadn't decided to be crazy right along with me! Nakupenda kabisa, dada yangu!

And yes, I was hypnotized by the swinging puff on the hat as I was panting and puffing up the final hill doing my best to keep up with her!

Have I mentioned yet that we're running in a hugely popular annual 10k in the spring? No? Well, we are. Yikes! My last run was pitiful and painful...but that may have had more to do with it being 18 degrees (F) out and dodging ice patches in the road than with my inability to run more than three miles...

Perspective...

Earlier this week our family took a rough blow...a tough day to be a law enforcement family...and, as always, we circled our wee little wagons and ambushed Daddy with hugs and kisses when he came home. I may have been slightly more enthusiastic than others...

Wednesday evening, I loaded up the kiddos and drove the hour out to my parent's to join them and my sister for supper and to help them decorate their Christmas tree. After supper, enjoying the quiet of kiddos playing downstairs, we chatted about this and that.

My sister's neighbor and dearest friend is dying. She's been battling cancer for years. Sometimes she wins a round--certainly more than others and more than doctor's said she would. But we all know cancer fights dirty. And takes no prisoners. She's rapidly losing the war. The concern isn't whether or not she'll be around for her eldest daughter's 17th birthday next month...but more will she be around Christmas morning?

And just like that...our problems were reduced to the size of a pea. Our issues are man made--it'll all be sorted out in the end. One way or an other. But the heartache of losing a friend? Of watching two girls say goodbye to their mother? Forever living with the void that will be left by this vibrant, amazing woman? How does that get sorted out?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Re-spinning traditions...

A childhood friend of mine relayed a conversation she and her daughters had one morning regarding the origin of the Christmas tree. She was curious to find out other's perceptions on the tradition and if we put one up for ourselves. This was my answer...


For a number of years after leaving home I didn't put up a tree-it just didn't happen for various reasons. I remember when I researched how the tradition started and I thought that maybe I should do away with a tree all together but then, just like so many things we do now, the original meaning and purpose (in the case of the tree--bringing in an evergreen to ward off evil spirits) has been so watered down to be rendered non-existent.



Since having children, we have put up a tree every year. And when I go through the ornaments I have and know that my mom and my sister share a lot of the same ones it brings them closer.


I talk to my children about where certain ones came from...tiny glazed pots from a trip their dad and I took to Portugal, hand painted wooden ones their Kokoo painted while waiting for me to be born, teddy bears I painted the Christmas we were in the States away from our belongings, there's one that looks just like our Sebastian Cat that we lost this year...



And we add new ones each year, each one adding to our story. I have wooden picture frames for us to paint next week and hang on the tree...and those memories will be added with the rest.

No, our Christmas tree does not ward off evil spirits.


But the memories it holds, the lights, the smell...remind me that it's Christmas and that we are truly and unmeasurably blessed.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rest...

It's been a long week...it's been a string of long weeks. I have thoughts to share along the lines of being the family we are, living this crazy life we've chosen...but they can wait until tomorrow.

Brandon's first birthday was yesterday...his party was this afternoon. We were there...celebrating this amazing little kiddo who beat the odds and dug right into his cake. I made him his own wee little monkey cake to go with the big monkey cake for everybody else. He liked it. A lot. But he liked the ice cream more...that didn't hurt my feelings at all.

Plans were rearranged yesterday, as they often are. Our family trip to go pick out a Christmas tree was this morning instead. Due to the party, finishing up the cake and Daddy leaving for work there just weren't enough hours in our Saturday to decorate the tree as well. I promised my children we would decorate it in the morning.

Our children's church Christmas party is tomorrow during church. After kiddos were bathed and in bed tonight I baked three dozen mini cupcakes. While they were cooling I managed to get the lights up on the tree...opening up the Christmas bin and realizing just how many lights I've accumulated over the years, even I had to admit I may just have a Christmas light addiction. Because I bought a couple hundred more last week. Considering how many of our lights are LED...it may just be possible to see our tree from space.

Cupcakes are iced and sprinkled.

Christmas tree is all prepped for ornaments in the morning.

The last birthday cake of the year was devoured just a few hours ago. Next kiddo birthday is in May.

My plans for tomorrow are to truly have a day of rest. But around here plans are fluid...so we'll see how that goes.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Legacy...

"I do know that when they are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way--and it surely has not--she adjusted her sails."


~Elizabeth Edwards


As a mother, I can honestly say that this is one of my greatest desires for my own children...I can only pray to be as strong and gracious in the face of adversity and death.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Applicable...

Even funnier? I posted this about this same time last year. At least I'm consistent.

Arlo & Janis

Cookie mixes for gifts...cupcakes for a Christmas party...one final birthday cake for the year...cookies for a cookie exchange...and that's just the baking on my "to do" list.

Someone asked me yesterday if, now that the Jingle Bell Run had come and gone, I had any other projects lined up. I think I twitched a little at the thought of everything I'm currently working on as well as the thought that I would go nuts with nothing to do.

Again...I am blessed beyond measure to be able to be the person I want/need to be.

Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Self portraits...

Take one grumpy 3-year-old...add laptop camera.




Instant joy.

Life in our house these days...

Dog eat Doug

And we're loving it!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jingle all the way...

Kyleigh ruled over us all this morning...all 22 of us! Family (an aunt, an uncle, two aunt-in-laws, an uncle-in-law, three cousins and a cousin-in-law, Babu, her brother and her parents), friends...all braved the frigid early morning and joined us on the National Arthritis Foundation's annual Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk.

I tie-dyed t-shirts for all of us...they were supposed to be blue but washed out a little to a delightful purple. Kyleigh was pleased...I drew a crown to put on her's. I numbered them...Kyleigh was number one and it went down the family line from there...and labeled the backs according our relationship to her (mine says "Mommy"). Not that anyone noticed as bundled as we all were!

(Thanks to my sister for the pictures! That's me in the goofy blue hat and gloves.)

The morning did warm up to somewhere around the 30's by the time we crossed the finish line. Sean, Donia (my sister) and I ran together...my 16-year-old nephew smoked us all! Shuffling through the crowd slowed down our first mile...the hills slowed down the other two! But everyone finished and had a fantastic time!

No, she didn't quite get the fact that we were all out there for her. But one day she will.

And, yes...she wore a tutu and she didn't take it off until bath time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Coming up on Christmas time...

This time of year, more than any other, my heart aches for peace.

I think of families forever broken...and all I want is Peace.

I know this isn't a Christmas song...but, considering what Christmas means to me...it could be.



I woke up this mornin' and none of the news was good
And death machines were rumblin'
'cross the ground where Jesus stood
And the man on my TV told me that it had always been that way
And there was nothin' anyone could do or say

And I almost listened to him
Yeah, I almost lost my mind
Then I regained my senses again
And looked into my heart to find

That I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem

Well maybe I'm only dreamin' and maybe I'm just a fool
But I don't remember learnin' how to hate in Sunday school
But somewhere along the way I strayed and I never looked back again
But I still find some comfort now and then

Then the storm comes rumblin' in
And I can't lay me down
And the drums are drummin' again
And I can't stand the sound

But I believe there'll come a day when the lion and the lamb
Will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem

And there'll be no barricades then
There'll be no wire or walls
And we can wash all this blood from our hands
And all this hatred from our souls

And I believe that on that day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Count them one by one...

Several years ago when I first set fingers to keyboard, my original intent was to have an outlet for my angst. Somewhere I could come to and vent...fester prevention, if you will.

It's been quiet around here. There's a reason for that: a lack of angst.

In spite of what our little family has been through this year...what we have to face in the coming months...years...there's peace.

And for that...I am grateful.

Tomorrow I will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with my family...my husband, my children, my sister and her family and our parents... a feat our nomadic lives have rendered a rarity.

Next weekend we'll gather together as a family again and run in the Jingle Bell 5k. A show of solidarity...us against a nasty disease which chose the wrong family to pick on. The sheer number of friends and family who are joining us on December 4th is staggering and humbling. The support is there for all of us...for me, for my husband, for our daughter and our son. And I am so very grateful. Overwhelmingly grateful.

But one of my greatest blessings...I have a partner who stands beside me as an equal. We've come through the good, the bad and the ugly and I know the best years are ahead of us. And for that--all of that--I am eternally grateful.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Motivation...with a side of perspective...

Yesterday was just a crappy day. Plain and simple. It wasn't like there were one or two big things that went wrong...it was more like a lot of little crappy things banded together in some Crappy Thing conspiracy and just made it a Bad Day. Kyleigh still wasn't feeling all that great, Sean was working late and kiddos snipping/bickering back and forth while I'm doing my best to come up with something edible for supper.

My running was put on hold last week on account of being hit with the Plague. Walking across the room left me winded--I wasn't about to attempt a 3 mile run. No way, no how. Monday morning I braced myself for the hurt and went out and ran 2 miles. And, yes...it hurt. But I had to get back into it and I knew that Wednesday's run would be better.

Except this morning I didn't want to run. Nope. After yesterday, I wanted to simply enjoy the quiet of my three child-free hours. Pour another cup of coffee. Curl up with the kitties on the couch and read. Maybe watch a movie. A non-animated movie. And not run.

Neither of my children were very enthusiastic regarding the prospect of school this morning. Jacob was just sluggish and required a little extra prodding but he made it to the bus just fine. Kyleigh, however, was on the verge of Flat Out Refusal. Is there a greater force on this earth than a stubborn 3-year-old? I think not. Wee girlie still isn't all the way over her cold and she was complaining about her legs hurting. She and I sat on the stairs and chitchatted about her friends in her preschool...her teachers...the new kitchen set in her classroom...what sort of picture she was going to paint today. Then I asked if she wanted to walk to school...and, just like that, she was all ready to go.

I walked her down to the school...and then I ran three miles through and around the neighborhood. Because I may be many things, but Hypocrite is not one of them.


Side note...the Jingle Bell 5k is in 17 days! We have 12 team members so far...family and friends all joining us to rally around this tiny little Force of Nature and remind her that no matter what...she can do anything she sets her mind to do!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Car talk...

The other night driving out to our free dinner at Chili's the following conversation took place...

Jacob: What sort of creatures live in those woods?

Me: What sort do you think?

Kyleigh: Wolves!

J: (long suffering sigh) No...wolves don't live in these woods, Kyleigh! There are only sticks and trees.

M: Really? What about zombies?

J: (again with the sigh and eyeroll) Mommy. Zombies are bigger than sticks.

M: Maybe they're smart zombies and they're camouflaged.

J: Even camouflaged zombies would be bigger than a stick.

M: What about fairy zombies? Can fairies turn into zombies?

J: Mommy. Fairies are just stories.

Sean (finally chiming in): I can't believe you're arguing zombie ecology with a 5-year-old.

M: What? Who else will argue with me about zombies? Honestly. It's like you don't always think these things through.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Oh, for the love of...

I keep thinking things are going to slow down, get back to normal...and then I realize that this is normal and I need to get used to it. But there are some days when I want to repeat my daughter's petulant, foot stomping retort when I tell her to get a grip:

But I don't wan' to get a gwip.

I hear ya, Toots. I hear ya.

Parent/teacher conferences were last week. It is also the week when Sean was out teaching at the range. No flexibility in that schedule. None. So...our meeting with Jacob's teacher? 7 am Wednesday morning. Honestly? It was relaxed and unrushed. Students don't arrive until 7:20 so we were able to talk about more than we probably would have had we managed a meeting during regular hours. I think we all came away from the meeting reassured that our high-spirited, old soul, brilliant child was in good hands. She is very much aware of who he is and the challenges we all have ahead of us. For his part, Jacob remains delighted with school. He doesn't see himself as different from his peers and the special attention he receives is taken in stride.

The plague has descended on our little household in waves...first the Boy, then the Daddy both suffered from a nasty stomach/intestinal bug...then the Girl and I both came down with colds. Her's includes the bonus ear infection. I have far, far too much to do on any given day to be down and out with a cold. But yesterday I gave in to it and she and I spent a fair portion of our day snuggled on the couch with the kitties watching movies. We all need days like that. My afternoon today included a much needed nap because the Most Wonderful Man came home early. Just so I could nap. How did I get so lucky?

Side note...months ago when we were told that Kyleigh would be on medication pretty much for the rest of her life, our prayer was that she would take it without protestation. And she does. And we're extremely grateful. However, during last night's and this morning's battle to get her to take her antibiotics, it was brought to our attention that maybe we should have made a slightly broader request. We should have prayed that she take all of her medication without the drama and protests. Is there any greater force on earth than a stubborn 3-year-old? I think not.

And lastly, since "seeing the future" is not one of my Gifts, prior to falling victim to the Plague I volunteered to make baked goodies for the preschool's bake sale this Saturday. No take backs. But I recently came across a really yummy and simple recipe that I want to try out...I'll share, I promise!

Right. Whining time is over. Sinus meds and bed are next on my schedule. Besides, the laptop battery is red-lining...and I have neither the will nor the motivation to get up and go fetch the power cord.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Busy...

Despite an unusually long week, I had a fun project as well...


A dear friend's son turns 5 this week but his birthday party was last night. Last year at his party--after devouring the police car cake I'd made for him--he, very solemnly, informed me that he would like a firetruck cake the next year, "please, Miss Dori."

A year later he was still asking for the same thing, how could I deny him?

And I must admit...I think this is my favorite one so far. Certainly the most challenging--far more so than the Millennium Falcon! But it was fun and delightful and the birthday boy loved it!

Last year, this cake would have been the end of the "birthday season" around here--at least as far as my cake making goes. But there's another one this year...a very special little guy turns a year old in a few weeks! He's getting a duck cake...still working on the plans for that one. Don't worry...there'll be pictures, because if ever we had a reason to celebrate--this birthday is it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Old voices...

An old house holds multiple lifetimes of memories. Some are bound to spill over into the present.

Under the attic floorboards are small bits of other people's lives...toy soldiers that slipped through and were forgotten, ribbons from another wee girl from another time, an earring long given up for lost. One day, when the current house "to-do" list is completed, boards may be pulled up and 80-some years of bits and baubles will be cleaned out. Or it may simply be left for whomever comes after and has the privilege of calling this old house their home.

Since our arrival, a fan has been on in our children's room. White noise to cover the floor squeaks, moans and groans so our light sleepers could stay asleep. A couple of nights ago that fan had had enough and the one from our bedroom took its place.

For the past couple of nights the sounds of the house have lolled me to sleep. Sounds usually covered up by the fan. Quiet sleep woofs from the dog tucked in the corner in her bed...playfulness from kitties downstairs...creaks and groans as the house settles for the night...and faint whispers of something else. Voices, music right on the edge of my hearing...and last night, just out of reach, the sound of bagpipes. I'll have to ask our neighbor about that. Far from being mournful, it was a comfort. My sleep was sound and my dreams adventurous.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Compromise...

It's been a long weekend. And now it's cold. I want chili. The day is screaming for it. Right now the crockpot is loaded with "Sean isn't home but I want chili and don't care if I'm the only one who eats it" Chili. Yeah...remember that I'm not the cook in this house? And to the best of my knowledge, I have never made chili.

We may all be eating grilled cheese sandwiches for supper. And there's nothing wrong with that either.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I've come to realize that of them all, October really is my favorite month. Odd that...considering I have tropical blood coursing through my veins.

I love the fullness of it...the diverseness of it...the changing weather, the changing colors...the anticipation of things to come. Most of all, I love the latter half...birthdays and then...Halloween.

In the early semi-dark hours this morning, coffee mug in hand and gazing out the window at the fog and slight sparkle of frost...it wasn't difficult to see how the ancient Celts believed that the Wall was thin on this day. Just in case they were right and I am wrong...we were ready with our disguises.

Wee bats walking hand in hand with grandfathers...making their way down the neighborhood to the local Truck-or-Treat festivities...


Followed close behind by a pint size princess...and her grandmother escort...

A weekend of autumn-ness...sofa forts and movies...snug and safe from the cold wet out side...bonfire, s'mores and fellowship with dear friends. Naps and cups of ginger tea this afternoon.

Yes...October really is a most delightful month.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three years...gone in a blink...

Last Friday was the wee girl's 3rd birthday. Again...where did the time go? I can't even begin to imagine life without this little whirlwind in it...

She got her wish...a purple and pink fairy castle cake...and, needless to say, she was delighted!

She's had a week of doctor's appointments. All routine things...three year checkup and the eye exam she now gets every four months. Everyone declared her Well and Healthy. She's actually gaining weight...growing taller...losing some of the clumsiness we had just assumed was part of her makeup. We've been through a lot with this little one--not just in the past six months either, though this year has by far and above been the toughest.

I love you, Kyleigh Gray...all the way to the moon...and back.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

And I was running!

Today was the day. My first 5k. I know...it really doesn't seem like a big deal...3.1 miles? Nothing to it, right? My sister and I have both been running that distance our past several runs. But today? Gathering with all of the other loony toons out in the cold? Pinning on race numbers? It was a Big Deal.


We both ran the entire way and finished with our own personal best times! My sister even medaled--3rd in her age group! Thanks for being nuts enough to not even hesitate about this whole running thing, Donia! You rock!

Other members of our family felt it was a Big Deal as well. Our mom--who is not a morning person--was there before the race started to cheer us on! Then as we came around the mile and a half mark, there was my sister's husband and father-in-law cheering and ready with the camera. Thanks for the pictures, Billy!

By far the greatest supporter--my partner in crime. He didn't even blink, whine, or mutter one single complaint about being the designated parent for the morning. Way to go, Daddy-O!