Sunday, December 16, 2012

Music to My Ears

This has been a most delightful weekend.   Our small group Oasis Christmas gathering on Friday evening was a thoughtful sharing of how we live our faith in front of our children; making memorials of our faith to remember God's goodness and sustenance in difficult seasons. I'm thankful for an oasis where our heart can be laid bare and there is no shame; where we can live and grow our lives together in this pursuit of Christ.

Saturday made way for a visit from Uncle Bob.  We indulged in home made baked Three (really four) Cheese Macaroni with Yumbo's - Bob's childhood term for baked ham and cheese sandwiches.  We rounded out the warm-from-the-inside-out meal with my very own Parmesan, garlic and spinach stuffed mushrooms. Oh, yeah.  For dessert, we enjoyed Dutch Banket - not quite as tasty as the Hofstra's secret recipe, but yummy nonetheless.

After our fill of a tasty lunch, Uncle Bob helped us trim the tree. Lovely, indeed, but where is that box with the angel  tree topper and my patchwork table top Christmas tree? We'll find it, but in the meantime, I'm loving this twinkling tree adorned with memories from here, there, and everywhere.

Gracie put up the tree pretty much by herself this year. She earned quite a few lemonheads in her show of independence.  Talk about a proud moment...Grace asked me if I would teach her how to use the washer and dryer.  MUSIC to my EARS, I'm telling you! Then this morning after my googling stint during the before dawn hour, Gracie surprised me with a bright eyed and bushy tailed "I'm up early this morning. Can I read a book?" More MUSIC to my EARS. I'm still smiling.

Finding Myself: Apple Pie for One

It's one of those crazy "up before I should be" mornings and I was googling stuff here and there. I looked for the history on my favorite dinnerware pattern Scio Hazel.  Nothing much there, except a reminder that I need cream and sugar bowls to complete my set. I also checked out pieces of Calico Fruits - this whimsical gingham checked pattern with cherries, finding a charming pitcher with NO bids and free shipping!! Maybe I'll put a bid on that. Maybe.  So, googling here and there; a long lost friend and then I googled myself.  Look what popped up: a recipe and reader review I submitted to Chicago Parent about County Line Orchard. Who knew?
The apple of my eye
Check out the review & recipe here:  Apple Pie for One

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Weekend of Gifts

40. An Oasis, a small group respite for the both of us

41. A Grace FULL enthusiasm for little hearts in love with His word: 
Me:  Tonight is Koinonia and we will do more fellowship than Bible study
Grace: Aww...but I love the Bible study part
42.  Prayers of the saints
43.  Words of life
44.  Heartfelt hugs
45.  Grape salad
46.  Familiar, friendly faces at Parkapalooza
47.  Small town charm
48.  Country church steeples
49.  Growing girl branching out into Indiana Youth Ballet, scoring a role in the Nutcracker ballet
50. Uncle Randy chats for the girl growing up:  "I love her bunches!"
51.  Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks:  "I like reading. I'm thankful for good books to read."
52.  A lesson in joy; an introduction to Philippians
53.  The resident wellspring, drawing deep from the reservoir of His grace and goodness. He sustains me in all things.
54. Invitation to worship from an old friend
55. Connections to home so far from home
56. Pastors' candid talk about Love, Sex, and Marriage: it's about trusting God
57. Giggles and more giggles; laughter does good like a medicine
58. Love of languages - Gracie is delighted to dive into Spanish, teaching Papa George his name:  Abuelo
59. Singing Grandparents Day greetings.  I love her heart songs
60. A routine of bests, worsts, and thankful hearts before bed.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Eat, Greet, and Growing Up

I enjoyed lunch with Grace today at the school "Eat and Greet".  Nice, checked table covers and all. We chit-chatted about her day so far.  She's so tickled in her new place and I love making new friends who intuitively know my name, "Gracie's mom".  My heart melted when she squeezed me tight before she joined her classmates in line. She might be a blossoming third grader, but she's still tender enough hug this thankful mom; still little enough to adore these glitzy high heel shoes. Perhaps the latter is more likely an indication she is growing up.  Growing up too fast...too fast. Slow down, princess.  I need you little still.
37. sparkly shoes in brilliant colors and time to enjoy her visions of growing up
38. freedom and flexibility to enjoy lunch with Grace at school
39. hugs and squeezes unashamed

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Untie The Knots

33 gifts, this one a reminder that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a creator who wrote my name on the palm of His hand long before time began. 

  Dear God:

Please untie the knots
That are in my mind,
My heart and my life.
Remember the have nots,
The can nots, and the do nots
That I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots,
The may nots
And the might nots
That try to find a home in my life.

Release me from the could nots
The would nots and the should nots
That try to obstruct my life.

And most of all, Dear God,
I ask that you remove
From my mind, my heart and my life
All the “am” nots that I have allowed to hold me back
Especially the thought that I am not good enough.

In Jesus Name,
Facebook post

34. Smiling, happy faces greeting my Grace on her first day at the new school
35. Friendly passerby stopping to see if I was ok while waiting for Grace - quite neighborly, I'd say
36. Cheery, chipper girl off the school bus

Monday, September 03, 2012

Glorious Love

I found this little note, gift #32, clipped to my new clothesline:

Glorious Love 
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John  3:16

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth - for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.  Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens. Song of Solomon 2:1-2

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Giggling Gifts in Girly Packages

Gracie is hosting a sleepover with three of her bestie friends who just happen to be sisters. What a gift. What a blessing. I love that Grace has the opportunity to rub shoulders with these delightful kids. All different, they blend well and yet, sharpen one another. This is gift 24. Sweet girl friends for my Gracie.

Which reminds me, last time they were here, I overheard Grace tell them this: You know, we could stay friends for always and every year get together like, you know, a Roomie Reunion and then our kids could be friends, too.

Gift 25 has been a delightful find of a friend for me in their mother - kindred spirits with hearts rooted in love for missions and the wanderlust spirit of Abraham. Why am I surprised? She is a God friend, indeed.

Roomie Reunion 2012
Carriage House at 
Cornerstone Farm


26. Forever friends with hearts knit together by time, laughter, and even tears. Friends who love like family.  I'm thankful.  Every day I'm thankful.

27.  Summer breezes blowing my cares away and drying my sheets on the line. =)

28. A place of rest...He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He makes me whole and satisfies the deepest longing. He calms my deepest fears.

29. Babbling and bubbling water, washing clean my mind and calming my soul.

30. He loves us. Oh, how He loves us. Singing until this thought saturates my soul and drives the shallow echoes of any other voice from my mind.

31.  Oasis - worship, healing, and fellowship; most recently Italian Cream cake and Key Lime pie...wait, there's fellowship, worship, and healing. Cake and pie just make it all the sweeter.

Friday, August 31, 2012


It's been a dry summer. Dry everywhere and I just haven't had time to water the flowers like I should. Today, the deep crimson red caught my eye as I pulled into the driveway.  I see it everyday, but today I really stopped to look and say "thanks". Gifts. 23. Color in a dry, parched spot. Thank you.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Annie - Still Singing

We are still singing songs from Annie around our house. Though Grace would prefer I left the singing and dancing to the cast, I still try. Here's a taste of the show prepared by CMHS. Annie Medley - Summer Theater Enrichment Program. I'm so proud.

21.  emerging gifts and talents
22.  opportunities to craft those gifts and talents through the summer theater enrichment program 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More Gifts & Good News

We've been on the waiting list for the magnet school near our community since Grace was 5 years old.  After 3 years of waiting for a slot to open and many phone calls to check on the progress, I received word yesterday! Thrilled doesn't capture it!  Thank FULL does a better job.  Grace was excited at the news as well.  Wait! Uniforms? Grace realized she must wear her coolest new school clothes in the next 3 days while she had the chance.

What a gift!

13.  caring adults that make kind deposits in my girl - it takes a village
14.  opportunities to serve at Gracie's school
15.  an appreciative teacher
16.  a helpful friend walking me through the dryer hook up process over the phone
17.  sharing pictures with Papi
18.  homework
19.  patience to help with homework

Me: Grace, are you finished with your homework?
Grace: I'm just loving it so much, I want to enjoy it for awhile.

I love this girl! 
20.  baby love

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Giving Voice to My Gratitude - the Beginning

Let's begin, not wasting a single moment more...

Today, I give thanks...
1.  sheer delight in her giggles
2.  her curls around my finger
3.  finding her reading this morning, all tucked up in her purple birthday chair
4.  she still tells me I'm the sweetest mom ever
5.  the ease of popover pancakes - almond chocolate (sweet girl added marshmallows to hers)
6.  friends who pray for me
7.  time to pray for others in these days of grace
8.  work that is not really work, but passionate play with a purpose; I love it still
9.  the gift of a thousand gifts to guide me into this endeavor of gratitude - to live each day fully
10. BC saved enthusiastic birthday message to the Gracie girl. He blesses me over & over again.

Ok, it's a good start. I'm off to install the washer and dryer blessing. I guess that would be # 11 - the gift of doing laundry at home. Yes. Thank you. THANK YOU!  

Something Good In Every Day

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Thank FULL Heart

I'm still soaking in truths from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Gratitude. A thank full heart. I have revived our bedtime ritual of recounting those things for which we are thankful.  If Grace is going to learn reflect on the good things even in the midst of the mundane or unpleasant, I must model such and live it out loud with her.  Not that I needed confirmation, but look what was waiting in my mail box - yet another admonition by INC. author, Geoffrey James, to cultivate an attitude of gratitude:

Jul 18, 2012

True Secret to Success (It's Not What You Think)

I'm utterly convinced that the key to lifelong success is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle: gratitude.

People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what's wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don't go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.

By contrast, people who lack gratitude are never truly happy. If they succeed at a task, they don't enjoy it. For them, a string of successes is like trying to fill a bucket with a huge leak in the bottom. And failure invariably makes them bitter, angry, and discouraged.

Therefore, if you want to be successful, you need to feel more gratitude. Fortunately, gratitude, like most emotions, is like a muscle: The more you use it, the stronger and more resilient it becomes.

Practice Nightly
The best time to exercise gratitude is just before bed. Take out your tablet (electronic or otherwise) and record the events of the day that created positive emotions, either in you or in those around you.
Did you help somebody solve a problem? Write it down. Did you connect with a colleague or friend? Write it down. Did you make somebody smile? Write it down.

What you're doing is "programming your brain" to view your day more positively. You're throwing mental focus on what worked well, and shrugging off what didn't. As a result, you'll sleep better, and you'll wake up more refreshed.

Reprogramming Your Brain
More important, you're also programming your brain to notice even more reasons to feel gratitude. You'll quickly discover that even a "bad day" is full of moments that are worthy of gratitude. Success becomes sweeter; failure, less sour.

The more regularly you practice this exercise, the stronger its effects.
Over time, your "gratitude muscle" will become so strong that you'll attract more success into your life, not to mention greater numbers of successful (i.e., grateful) people. You'll also find yourself thanking people more often. That's good for you and for them, too.

This method works. If you don't believe me, try it for at least a week. You'll be amazed at what a huge difference it makes.

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 Geoffrey James writes the "Sales Source" column on, the world's most-visited sales-oriented blog. His newly published book is Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies From the World's Top Sales Experts@Sales_Source

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bubble Up!

Our local library hosted Bubble Night this week. Oh, what a night! Kids of all ages were enjoying themselves immensely and we learned a thing or too about the amazing bubble. I heart our library!
Who needs a wand?

Dry ice bubbles. Handle with care.

Now THAT was some kind of bubbling

Of course, we need edible bubbles - the root beer float kind!

The Sun Times captured this cool body bubble

The big one

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Deep Gratitude. Great Joy.

There is a book that has been rocking my world and shaking me to the core these past few days. Perhaps not just for me, but to share with others, this fundamental truth to all that we are & want to be as Christians - as good people in general.  The following is from this recommend read: One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp.

Give thanks.

Twelve hours before His destiny on the cross, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, then gave it to the disciples. (Luke 22:19) Just before He endured the cross for the JOY set before Him, Jesus took break and gave thanks. On an earlier occasion, Jesus stood outside Lazarus' tomb, with tears streaming & prayed, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me..." (John 11:41) The miracle of raising a dead man followed offering thanks. In Luke 17:17-19, ten lepers were cleansed, but one returned to to express gratitude - the Samaritan was made well in his thankfulness.  When you search out the root of that word "well", it means saved. A Samaritan was not only healed, but it his heart of gratitude brought salvation. He was made whole. Psalm 50:23 - He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.

Could it be that the height of my job could be determined by the depths of my gratitude?
So, I think if there is a quote - let it be this truth: The height of my joy depends on the depth of my gratitude. Thank you, Ann Voskamp, for sharing your heart & bearing your heart in the journey to find that highest joy through deep gratitude.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

So Long. Hello.

It's been so long since I've stopped to say hello. So long since I've stopped...waited, rested. So long. I've held moments in my mind, but didn't take time to release them.  Let's just start with hello and begin again. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Theater Enrichment Program: Annie 2012

Annie and Orphans
It's a Hard Knock Life

Annie and Sandy
Little Girls

No More Mush
Gracie and Daddy Warbucks
Grace and Lily St. Regis
Gracie and the Smile Girls
Annie and Ms. Hannigan
Director Thorsky
Pure joy!
Getting her groove on

Grace, Fred, and Sophia

Goofin with music director, Eric

Grace and Mr. Thorsky

Garret family

Aunt Em and Uncle Randy

Bestie friends and fans


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Scoop: Mother's Day Edition by Grace

Grace prepared a Mother's Day greeting for me in the form of a newspaper. Delightful, truthful, and informative; it's The Scoop:  Mother's Day Edition by Grace

My mom was voted #1 Mom because:  she loves me!! (double exclamation point!!)
I love my mom:  every time of the day and night
My mom and I like to: cook together and watch movies
3 Fun Facts About My Mom:
  1. She grew up on a farm
  2. She had a dog
  3. She has one brother and one sister
Happy Mother's Day
Out going
Reelly nice

All About My Mom
Name:  Carmen
Age:  Never you mind
Eye color:  Green
Hair color:  Blonde
Favorite Food:  Chocolate
Favorite TV Show:  Hitch
Favorite Thing to Do:  Snugll
My mom is the best at swimming, cooking, and loveing;  protecting, too.
My mom is the greatest because she cares about me and loves me, too.
I love my mom when: Always!!!!!!! and every where!!! 

Thank you, Grace, for this lotsa love  packed in this Mother's Day edition of The Scoop! I love you more!  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

 Lessons from Roses at In Dialogue:
Amelia Gambetti’s...voice still rings in my ear: “Details, details, details.” It is important to be aware of the choices that we make, from the most minor decisions to the most significant. Drawing the roses, there were two types of markers available, fine line and broad tip. We spent time talking about the differences in the lines, and I asked children to consider which marker they needed, instead of grabbing haphazardly. Attentive decision making, discerning, selecting, choosing, builds self-awareness and consciousness–the opposite of indifference.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Break Texas Style

A grand welcome from Auntie Margie
Uncle Mark greets Grace at the airport

Blue Bells
All dolled up for Easter

Easter Surprises and Blessings