Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Friend Day

Friday Friend Day!

During the "seasons" of a woman’s life, many types of friends pass through, but when the years trundle by and sudden occasions offer us thoughtful reflection, it is then we give our heads a happy shake, realizing the value each of them has represented in the timeline of our lives, sincere blessings we’ve obtained because of them sharing in the story of our lives.

Certainly in the end, there may be very few women we actually end up calling a lifelong cherished friend. Some woman only have but one or two still around in their senior years, others a special handful, of those super quality filled best buddies.

We all know that kind of friend I speak of, the one who eventually and unabashedly seems to weaken our brick wall, sending the bricks flying about, offering a glimpse at our vulnerable and true transparent selves, a wondering gentle spirit developing and maturing like we’ve not known before, and eventually this all offers a trusting bond so implicit by design, you know, the person before you likened to an “Anne of Green Gables” kindred heart to your own.

The friend I speak of is one we are happy to have chance visits with as we age, and one we can extend a sincere embrace to just because, without so much as whispering a word. They know what they mean to us, they learned it over the history of the relationship, enduring thick and thin together along the way, each reciprocating along the way with that ultimate gift of the friendship factor.

These friends often just happen to be “there”, guiding us through the fires of our lives, navigating us out of our pits of despair, and endure our weak moments with the flick of a finger, as if to say “whatever” when in actual fact charity is prevailing with silent mentoring in progress.

There is something to say about the sort of unconditional love that comes along with the package deal in these friendships. These friends seem to know your exact thought patterns even before we have the chance to vocalize them or even utter the softest whisper, while we continue on hoping for progress in sifting through the mass of emotional brain-drain. They are really often rare, aren’t they? But, when we have them, they are always to be cherished, forever and ever.

Some of my girls and I

Over the years, I have come to value my kindred hearted and life’s journey-walking friends . They have been the ones who have hobbled along on this great adventure called life thus far with me, the ones seemingly hanging around season after season, growing old like me, the very ones whom I am continually so grateful for.

Bookstore visit!

While out west, the boys and I visited the “Focus on the Family” bookstore. One of their featured reads this year has been “Grown up Girlfriends by Erin Smalley and Carrie Oliver. Normally such a book wouldn’t be my greatest preference to pick up and span the back cover for clues of the interior read. However, I did. Interestingly, this is what caught my eye…

“You weren’t meant to walk through life alone…but how do you find faithful friends who will make the journey with you?”.

WOW! I had already been identifying with the author long before reading her writing, and I was definitely in the midst of giving thanksgivings for those valued friends who have blessed me along the way, but here in black and white there was a candid look at grown up girlfriend realities. I bought it, began to read it on the plane while flying back home, and highly recommend it as a personal read or a group study. It is a sweet writing which speaks to the heart of any grown up woman.

May I recommend this book?

The ladies from the “Grown up Girlfriends” book offer practical insight into building rewarding relationships that endure. They also say the grown-up girlfriend joyfully travels the path to maturity in the company of her friends.

As our family continues our own journey, that of living life in the east, the slogan given to me before leaving the west was; “you will definitely find out who your true friends are now”, and I have, though admittedly a few have been a painful discovery for me.

Therefore without further ado, I hope to make a few “Friday Friend Day” presentations here, tributes to the women in my life who are my “grown up girlfriends”. There will not be any particular order they will just appear. I will allow it to become my own personal tribute to special friendships, those standing the test of time, the very women who have always been there for me, and continue to inspire me towards becoming a better person.

They fill my life with great joy, and have given me plenty of warm memories to keep in the safe haven of my heart, and have given me many kicks in the pants. They offer me great counsel when I require it, they aren’t afraid to chastise me, and they strive to keep me living in the real world.

I had a lovely surprise arrive this week in my mail, one I was told was seemingly sent back in December and somehow lost by the business it was ordered from. It was a music Cd, wrapped in a bright red shiny envelope, and a card attached saying; “I know you live your life with the music turned up. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do”. It was from my Tennessee friend, Denise. (Heh Sistah!)

How did she know I loved this talented music group?

How did she know?

This past December I purchased the Point of Grace Christmas cd, because (truth coming) it was on the counter with a sale price of $5.00 with a purchase at “Family Christian Store” during that particular month. It proved to be one of those real musical gems which we all enjoyed very much over the Christmas season.

On the cover, I noticed their advertised website and eventually I was able to enjoy a wee visit there. The Christmas cd appeared first thing on their introductory webpage splash, and contained the featured music snippets for anyone to listen to in the convenience of their own home.

After I unwrapped the new cd titled; “How you live”, I decided to visit the Point of Grace website again, and this new cd is the current introductory splash now displayed on their main page, with all of the musical snippets right there for all to check out.

My friendship with Denise began many years ago now, and evolved slowly but surely over time, after a chance meeting when we both frequented the FIAR (Five in a Row) curriculum online boards, along with another kindred friend, Justine. We were both involved in home education and this was a place to discuss the books we were studying at home with our children. We seemed to click right away and had an incredible amount of similarities in our current season of womanhood items on our priority lists. It was uncanny how many there were as our writings and chatting unfolded.

Even though the boards were for the purpose of sharing ideas and thoughts using the specific children's curriculum, we discussed assorted other topics as well and soon our discussions unfolded so many other similarities. Our oldest daughters were engaged to be married around the same period, and eventually our first grandbabies were born just a few weeks apart. She had older adult children, and younger ones still living at home, just like me. We are both busy women with our lots happening in our lives, so our friendship has included huge chunks of time lapsing in between our enjoyable conversations. A friend though is someone whom you can pick up with repeatedly, no matter what the span of time was in between the last visit together. She is one of those.

Denise never fails to be the type of a friend who dons her sneakers and takes time out for walking alongside of me during the highs and lows of life, some we've hiked through together, even those dreaded valley times appearing in the blink of an eye. She speaks and writes so eloquently (brutally honest too) and never fails to make me smile, while at the same time booting me up to challenge a new day. She is a no nonsense person with whom I have much in common, a woman clearly after my own heart with the continued words of encouragement through the years. She is my Sister Chick (see the right side bar) who has no problem letting me know when I require new lenses for my glasses, nice colorful ones at that. There is nothing as special as a friend who gives you advice such as this. Thank you friend! Thank you for who you are and for loving me warts and all....LOL.

Keep checking on Fridays for friendship photos and a few lines underneath. Even if you don't see your photo here, you'd best keep checking. You may be next...grin, grin, grin...

I will leave you with this video below of the gals singing their theme song called; “How you live”. The song is fabulous, the words are profound and easily a message to everyone out there in this big cyber world.

Enjoy and do not forget to turn up the music!

Chicken pox, sniffles and a loose tooth.

Chicken Pox, sniffles, and a loose tooth!

Oh my!

Relief center

Greetings to all this leap year day and happy birthday to the celebrants this day offers after a four year wait for it to appear.

Wow, not only is it Friday already, it is also March 1 tomorrow! Where has the time already gone this New Year?

I had hoped to be back earlier with more posts; however as anyone who knows our family can attest to, there’s never a dull moment over here! My hubby's pneumonia seems to have disappeared just in time for our son to acquire a lovely cold and the onset of the chicken pox's grand arrival. We were prepared however, and did know it was advancing upon us, bracing ourselves for it's eventual appearance.

We knew it was upon us because our son had been exposed to an outbreak of chicken pox when visiting his nieces and nephew during his recent trip west, so it wasn’t a great surprise when the “spots” finally appeared, more relief they were here at long last. Though this wasn’t exactly the best timing for a visit with grandbabies under the weather, our family discussed the situation and the predicted exposure to such a thing before taking flight, and all concluded hands down they couldn’t imagine canceling the trip just to avoid it, nor take the trip and not visit them at all. Besides, the boys were eager to have their anticipated visit for meeting their new niece.

Two Uncles holding their new niece, Jacinta.

One has to weigh the odds against them in advance, and we concluded the people involved mattered more than the consequences of the exposure. Instead of being fearful of his exposure, our son preferred becoming a blessing assisting and lifting the youngsters' weary minds and bodies with his visits , including much play time, and that of becoming a great distraction to them all overall. He loved being with the little "Spotties", and surely it will be a memory with the ultimate and expected end result (grin).

Nana and the "Spotties"

Yes sir, another round of dot-to-dot pictorial play will eventually rotate from our youngest son to his younger sister over the next two weeks. Oh joy! In actual fact, we are quite relieved to get this childhood disease onward and over with here. It’s been long overdue to commence with the younger ones.

Keeping his nephew busy, taking his mind off spots.

On day one, when a few spots appeared on our son’s chest, he was very proud to have them and know it would be over in due time. He posed for my camera, lifting his shirt and grinning for all to see. He quarantined himself away by spending much time inside his “tent”, formed within the structure of the bottom bunk bed in our guest room. He took his schoolbooks with him, a few toys, a few books and things were just fine….until last night.

The grand tent has been occupied
in the guest room.

Calling him “Spotty” was an understatement, the itching episodes became frequent, and mommy began rolling up her sleeves, working hard with liquid relief for those dreaded itchies.

As the day progressed, I became a speckled sight though my dots were the pink spots on my clothing, my hands, my socks, and the hardwood floor underneath my feet giving me away to a humorous display of nurse play. As well, the eventual blended scents of calamine and lavender gave our home an uplifting and springtime smell.

So many spots he thought,
until the next morning.

As advantageous as it seems to get this behind us, and the experience reminder from six other children’s episodes of the same disease, we knew this was just a wee honeymoon before the tough moments were about to begin. By late evening last night, a low-grade fever and a mighty stuffy nose began to plague our son, sleep was not easy as he became quite dramatic over time. After the umpteenth application of lotion near midnight, he showed me a tooth on his night table he’d pulled out and tears were brimming and threatening to spill over. I won't upload the pictures from day three for all to see. Poor guy.

In everything, there is a promise though, this too though shall pass and it will soon become his younger sister's turn.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I never grow tired of these...

I never grow tired of these...

Morning has broken.

By day the Lord directs His love,

at night His song is with me

~Psalms 42:8

Sunset around "my Lonestar"

Seek and ye shall find...

Thrift store treasure hunts.

Of Springtime...

Speaking of Hallmark type store trinkets again, my weekly errand list became longer one day recently when I added a stop to a favorite thrift store into the time frame. I really felt like getting my little fix, a browse through the store to see what was waiting for me through the doorway into the unknown. I was not disappointed when I walked away with a few sweet items for a springy feel for our home. At least my younger children feel the same way as I, though perhaps not the big ones here. (snicker)

Normally I would not pay any attention to these particular types of trinkets, at least I have not when recollecting of moments in the past. But, when I saw them sitting there amongst other springtime and Easter items, I immediately felt a sense of simple joy and a bit of serendipity when noticing the frolicking exchange between them all, a childlike pleasure for sure, for the way they made me smile. I thought myself so silly at first and promptly ignored them as I continued my search, uh explorations around the store, but then, before leaving the store, a growing desire overcame me and just felt I had to have them. Moreover, for the price of fifty cents apiece, they were a bargain unto themselves.

Frolicking bunnies.

Maybe I’m just feeling melancholy and childlike myself these days, because three other little stuffed animals caught my eye at the counter when I was paying for my “sweet treasures”, and a sweet looking fabric-lined wicker basket did as well. Talk about tempting me with my wallet exposed and money ready to pay before the clerk hit the final cash register tab! HA. Okay, okay, so my total overall for the seven items added up to $2.50

Here's my excuse for these;
In our home we are studying zoology.

Okay, I confess! I’ll just go ahead and admit it! Ya just gotta love shopping at thrift stores to peruse and dig for those simple pleasures offered to us in life, the ones seemingly and continuously lurking around every corner, both on glass and shelf displays that we just gotta have! Then there are those multiple boxes and deep bins associated with such a place, and….you know?

It’s like being a pirate finding sunken treasure. Do you know that feeling too? (big grin)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Geographical wanderings.

Geographical Wanderings

I do not want People to be very agreable (sic),
as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.

~ Jane Austen in a letter to Cassandra

Once upon a time, when I was but a young miss, my grandmother used to amuse me by telling me how it would become an advantage to acquire a love for reading, simply for pleasure and learn to become an avid reader like her because of the merits attached to such a luxury-filled hobby. Occasionally she would fill my young mind with recent tales of her ability to travel around the world, simply by picking up one of the books on her nearby stack of current reads. Some days I would giggle and not have any desire to pay attention, other days though, I was in awe as she reiterated the main thrust of the story.

Lest you feel she only traveled within the pages of her books, by contrast she was a woman of means at times, who was able to travel often, at the least she and my grandfather took a trip down to Palm Springs every winter to escape the bitter cold winters living in Canada offered them. She also traveled to Europe, Hawaii and other countries later in life and boarded a cruise ship when she was a widow, just because. More and more, she adhered to the principle that traveling within the pages of a great read would suffice and overcome any current wanderlust for more travel when it was no longer possible in her later years.

If adventures will not befall a young lady
in her own village, she must seek them abroad.

~ Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen)

Myself, I love to “travel” anywhere especially historically, and of course, there are many dreams for me to travel some day to the Mediterranean sea and parts of Europe to ‘see” firsthand those historical places so vividly appearing in my mind from many years of reading such tales, mostly all nonfiction of course. I love stories where I venture deeply into characters, those people who really lived, breathed, and walked upon this earth.

Today, and most of this week, I will admit wholeheartedly and with great enthusiasm to being away on such a journey, but only away when the pages of my fall wide open for me to jump in, admittedly at times becoming all consumed while on my journeys within the written words penned for me to travel upon the author's invitation.

My journey has taken me to England with Jane Austen and author Lori Wick as my personal tour guides. (The book is titled; "A walk with Jane Austen" by Lori Wick.)

Therefore, I bid you adieu my friends as the fire is stoking (gas, laugh) and my wing backed chair is beckoning me towards it for a gentle, but oh so lovely trek to Chawton, England. Be assured I'll be glancing back and forth out to the back of the property, watching the scenic view of children ice skating on their own private rink. A few friends are expected soon to join the fun, what a lovely afternoon we are having here.

Skating on our property

Skating and Hockey

..right on our own property!

There are so many joyful times for wintry fun here in the east where plenty of opportunities abound featuring daring adventure just outside our own back doorway on our property.

Each time a new snowfall presents itself out yonder; our children are provided many pastime activity options, especially after a bit of freezing rain descends upon the already frozen ground, and then, another brief snowfall appears through the night to cover it all up again.

The question remains the same from week to week, that of wondering about how large the natural ice skating rink will become after such a time and our little investigators march out to find clues to their question.

One ice rink, and one long skating raceway.

This past week, snow shovels dragged along behind the younger children, both donned in their warmest winter wear, the shovels leaving their marked trail for all to see their little journey to the hidden gem area. Just like Snow White’s dwarfs, they all high-hoed it out day by day, spending a bit of time removing the snow, searching for the glistening and slippery rink (treasure) below. Too bad the garden hoses wouldn’t reach back there for a really great rink possibility, but whenever the winter weather presents itself once again, off they go to prepare a place for yet another hockey foray with friends showing up to partake in the fun.

There is something so memorable as tucking away all of the moments thus far living her in the east when our very own natural surroundings feature such simple and readily available blessings as this sweet thrill for all. All of the children will not soon forget about these winter adventures right outside our back door, as time presses onward as this all becomes a part of their history during their youthful years. Surely they will all hold the memories close to their hearts. I know I love it all, and by all accounts, so do they.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch

Breakfast on Sunday mornings is usually more like a family brunch when we arrive home shortly after the noon hour from church in the early hours.

Today, how can anyone complain about the crisp winter weather with the sun shining so brightly in the tropical blue hued sky? Not I.

Yes, the flowers are on the table but will soon be divided into two vases for clarity and appreciation of the varied flora inside the original. Aren't they just too lovely, colors so bright and the promise of spring around the corner?

Now to get organized enough to set the Christmas place mats aside and bring on the springtime cheery ones instead...wink.

Life is full of charm.

Grace and Beauty

I thank all of you who left comments on my recent post titled “You know, I was thinking” I love reading comments and assure you that anyone can leave a comment at any time but usually I keep them moderated and private just so you know this is why they aren't showing up in the comments section. Some have persuaded me to keep change this so it's more public, and perhaps that is an option. Let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, the response to my thoughts on making every day a celebration, and not just using Hallmark occasions to remember to adopt them into your family, were very charming and positive, even so encouraging for my hubby to see he's a special kind of guy. Yesterday, he took a detour when out and about chauferring our son to his hockey practice, for the sole purpose of visiting the floral section of the grocery store. He felt an impulsive nudge to shop for a lovely handful of colorful spring flowers, for gracing our dining room table center once home with them afterwards.

I was charmed when I entered the room after he came home, noting the flowers were already on display in a vase in the center of the table, with candles resting on either side of it.

I was truly delighted, and had to smile, later teasing my hubby about whether or not he felt a bit of pressure over my blog post, daring to place something so private and sweet into the blogosphere. In return, he smiled back and assured me it was time to have more flowers inside.


She loves the flowers her daddy brings home.

Heartfelt memories

Heartfelt memories!

Throughout all my years of child rearing, never was one of my children too small to begin creating and designing crafty items. Even two or three year olds in this home could manage craft times. Yes, the crafts in this home continue to be varied and plentiful, leaving no room for idleness.

The shape of a heart tends to evoke loving thoughts or tender emotions, therefore crafts featuring hearts are scattered about the house from recent years, or from days gone by.

Even wee children know how to
use a needle in this home.

I was sifting through a plastic bin featuring needle crafts in search of a new project to teach our now nine-year-old daughter. She is ready for cross-stitching and wants to stitch a horse to frame for her bedroom wall, to sit next to her horse photo filled calendar. As I removed each of the items shown in the photo here, I remembered wisely dating them with the child's name and year of creation. It will be fun to distribute these eventually, but for now, they have become irreplaceable treasures to me, filled with "heartfelt" emotion when I see note the shapes chosen.

Yes, to repeat the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson again (!), ..."Write on your heart that every day is the best day in the year".

Friday, February 22, 2008

You know, I was thinking...

You know, I was thinking....

A latte and falling snow.
(What could be better?)

Who says "Hallmark" has to take over and suggest specific dates for us to celebrate the special, or the ordinary for that matter? When it comes to Valentine's Day, rather St. Valentine's Day, it's always been a special date for my hubby and I because once upon a time long ago, cupid played tricks on us this very evening, thirty-three years ago to be exact!

Of course we find ourselves reminiscing upon occasion when this day draws near, not like we used to though. There was a time when our eldest daughter begged my husband to tell her how we met on this particular day. She had conjured up a story in her young mind, one of our special evening when cupid knocked us head over heels for each other. As my husband spent year after year appeasing her desires (and her siblings as they grew) to hear it all again, he took a few moments before their tuck in bedtime to repeat the same tale each year upon request.

Naturally, and ultimately the "guy thing" to do to his fair young maiden daughter before him, would be to spice it all up of course, making himself sound like Prince charming on his dashing white horse (not really but you get the picture). Most years I would often be sitting somewhere with a cup of tea, within hearing range, snickering when an occasional deep sigh was sounded from our daughter's mouth. I could envision her bulging eyes, as I heard her growing enthusiasm vocalized with sporadic giggles. He patiently continued with his narration of the story, obviously rendering her throughly enamored with the whole imaginative scene she was envisioning. And then, very shortly afterwards my husband would end the (now historical) tale by slowly finalizing the grand story by proclaiming with a low and hushed voice - "... and they lived happily ever after". She would always end up clapping her hands before hugging her daddy, eventually laying down to a dreamy slumber. Aw shucks!

My hubby is never far from my heart!
I snapped this photo on my trip.
Warm memories filled me of
an elegant celebration one year ago here.

As special as it is to remember where we were and how we were (google-eyed) in our youthful days, we also made a promise to one another that each and every day would be special and we could pick and choose all the Valentine's Days in a given year we wished to, not just one day in particular on February 14th. Moreover, as mentioned here before, we do love to find reason to feast in our family, so a specific "feast day" per se is a good thing too, just not the only day we have together.

Don't get me wrong here, I love visiting a Hallmark or other specialty shop near me, perusing the aisles for unique items and decor bits to sprinkle a festive atmosphere into our home and family life. How fun to find just the right accessories to cater to a special occasion, or for added simple elegance to any ordinary day.

Two weeks early, at least that's what the
calendar said, but we feasted our own
way before my trip.

I also love to study a yearly calendar to find when formal entered occasions will fall, placing my thinking cap on tightly to imagine and subsequently create fun occasions around them to celebrate with others if possible.

I also think there's a time and a place for everything and just because the exact allocated date may have passed us by during a busy week, why not find another day on purpose (!) to reward yourself, your loved one, and ultimately whenever possible - your family, giving honor and acknowledging the occasion your own personal way. Isn't that what creates authentic festivities anyway, a wee bit of ourselves tossed into the illusion of something so very special just for the fun of it all?

Just like the Parisians - croissant and coffee

I know I'm a lucky woman for I have a husband who brings me flowers all the time, year round! We share not only a love of flowers gracing many rooms in our home, but also of candles lit to create a special warmth in any room, and purposely finding ways of making memories sometimes for no real reason at all, rather ....just because. We seek our one another to share "moments", whether proposed and planned in advance, or often attempting to grab "stolen moments" for the sole purpose of rendering affection to each other as they occur on any given day.

Young couples today would do well to remember this suggested detail in their marriages because as the Bible says; we never know the day nor the hour...

An "Anthurium" with heart-shaped
flowers and leaves in a festive pot.

In the end this year, though my hubby and I were apart on the calendar date featuring "Valentine's Day", we really weren't at all.

My husband is a lucky guy who didn't have to venture out to overextend himself with a last moment, stressed-filled shopping experience where overpriced flowers were featured at premium pricing, rather he ensures our home florals are already in place long before this date, and then after the calendar feast day, he heads to a floral shop in search of delightful spring florals in bright colors at a fraction of the price.

Since we feast as often as possible, he has learned over time when the best times are to shop, and is ready to bring on the feasting! (wink). C'est la vie baby!

Write on your heart that every
day is the best day in the year.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson