Sunday, December 30, 2007

To date...

They've known each other since 6th grade, have shared classes and hung out during the high school musicals. He's friends, too, with my son; coming over to play video games, watch movies and go sledding. They've all hung out together as a group with their cookie-baking goofiness and home movie-making...

But something happened somewhere along the way. He looks at her differently now, seeing beyond the "buddy" to the beautiful person she is.

Some guys miss it, choosing instead the girls who demand the attention; girls whose beauty is fleeting because it eventually loses its substance. It is the rare teenage boy who truly sees my daughter and understands who she is. She doesn't travel the normal path, but strikes out on her own, standing in her strength and grounded in her ideals.

I give him credit, this young man who stepped across our door tonight in a different light. Because he gets it. And in the middle of his goofy, light-hearted and quirky demeanor, he has reserved a place of respect for my "little girl".

BUT...he still got 'the talk' from me before they left for the movies, and I'll still be waiting for their midnight return!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Savoring Christmas

I love this picture because it is a lingering memento of Christmas. Though probably not "photogentically" perfect, it is memories of past years wrapped in sentimental ornaments, bought for little hearts or made by little hands.

The tree downstairs holds the treasures from my own life: the little felt snowman given to me in kindergarten; a Santa made by my dear friend, Kris; a painted star my mother-in-law gave to me after I admired it so; Hallmark tokens that touched me at different times in my life....all lit by white lights that give the tree one brilliant tone.

But this tree is theirs: a little boy and girl who became teenagers while my back was turned; a tree that sparkles with color because white lights could never capture who they are; a real tree because it is fragrant, lovely.......tradition. Every year they bring out their individual ornament boxes and trim the tree with memories. And every year two new ornaments are added upon the branches and into their hearts to represent a new year....a new Christmas.

This picture I love, too, because in it I see the fun of a Christmas moment: a genuine ornery look; two kids who are not just brother and sister, but best friends. I never tire of looking at them nor of the feeling that comes over me when we share times like these.

The calendar says December 28th. But I pushed pause three days ago because I'm savoring Christmas; holding fast to the magic just a little bit longer...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I don't usually post links on my blog, but if you have about five minutes.....I promise it will be worth it.

My son bought me Josh Groban's new CD for Christmas, knowing how much I enjoy his music. The song, "Thankful" is so beautiful, telling and true. Turn up your sound and close your eyes.....and I suspect it will touch your heart, just as it did mine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Postal Greetings

Tucked among my keepsakes of old letters and photographs, I came across this Christmas postcard, sent to my great grandmother eighty-two years ago. I love this picture: a cottage tucked cozily among the snow-covered hills with flowered sprigs and colorful birds as its accent. The script on the back is flowing and graceful; the sentiments short, yet sincere.

May this Christmas Season bring you lasting happiness, and may the skies of the New Year be filled with promise, peace and hope.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sharing Christmas

I love Christmas time with its bright lights, mistletoe, carols of peace and scents of kitchen baking. Our internet connection hasn't been working at home for awhile but finally, with the holiday just over the horizon, I am able to share a small part of our world.

There was a late November day when my husband and son climbed 'up on the housetop' to string Christmas lights; their afternoon dotted with warmth and an azure sky. Little did they know that several storms would ensue such as today's blizzard, raging against a steel-gray sky. It was a day set to a slow-paced tempo as unsolicited help climbed the ladder to join them...

My daughter and two of her friends joined Santa (disguised beneath his beard as their classmate, Wes) after an early morning round with the ACT. They murmured Christmas wishes beneath sleepy eyes and taxed minds then began their own shopping for those on their lists...

Late nights have been the norm as finals loomed close, presents were wrapped and oblivious basketball games pursued their harried schedule. Friends spent the night when ice storms stranded them at our house, yet there were always ways to find entertainment! Midnight gigglers hoped and watched for signs that school would be canceled for the day (no such luck...just a two-hour delay)!

Sledding parties in sub-freezing temps and fresh, white powder scooped from drifts for making snow ice cream were part of our white December. Laughter and teasing, music and singing filled the air as plans were made and cold winds blew outside our snug, little home.

Dough was made, chilled and rolled for sugar cookies as four sets of hands cut reindeer, stockings, bells and stars. Though a fresh batch of dough was needed before the final results (!), memories of floured fingers and snatches of cookie dough will fill their hearts in the days to come.

Decorations went up as little trees filled each room: white lights and silver bulbs on the 3-foot white tree, gold spun around greenery with old-fashioned ornaments and memory-filled trimmings that adorned one downstairs. Garland and Santas, snowmen and greenery became commonplace along stairways and doorways as elves poked their faces around every turn.

With days filled to overflowing and nights just too short, we didn't get "the tree" until just last week. Though I love the perfection of the artificial trees, nothing can compete with the aroma and stature of a real tree filling the house. I have never "not" had a live tree. As a child we would cut down cedars from the pasture and throughout my adolescence and into my adulthood, a true evergreen always held the place of honor in our home. This year we were a bit industrious, choosing a tree of great proportions. Even my 6'2" son had to stand on the couch to put on the star! It's berth gives its height great competition and we have picked it up off the floor on more than one occasion after a tumble from the stand! But with its arrival and its presence, it is now officially "Christmas".

The shopping is all but finished and though I am behind on my baking and cards, I am thrilled to have time off from the busy-ness of school to relax and enjoy the beauty of this season.
It was wonderful to wake up today, knowing that there was no place I needed to be but home and nothing that had to be done. There is great comfort and peace in that.

So with just a few gifts to be wrapped I can leisurely catch up with family and friends as I write out my annual greetings. "White Christmas", "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Holiday Inn" are on the agenda for the days ahead, a visit to my Mom and Dad's and friends over for Christmas dinner. With more family coming in a week and more memories to be made, I am more aware than ever of the blessings I've been given. And even though a storm throws its tantrum outside my window, in its absence it will leave a white palette of beauty that will sparkle and shine.

May your days, too, be merry and bright...

Friday, December 14, 2007


Suzy and I have been friends for over six years now; ever since I moved here. Her office is just around the corner from our classroom, literally 10 steps away.
This morning I opened my school email and found this message from her:

"Hey Lori. I was just missing you today. How is your day going?"

We've been emailing back and forth all morning, just to touch base and share our thoughts.
Sometimes these very moments are so needed to brighten a day. Loving thoughts and actions are useless unless shared.
I feel as if I've received an early Christmas gift. Thanks, Suz...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Santa Baby

I have a Santa Claus collection that comes out each year during the holiday season. Carefully, the foam wrapping and tissue paper come off to reveal memories of Christmas past as I think back on cherished moments.

This photograph of my son when he was 3 or 4 sits in a red frame on top of the piano, nestled among several replicas of Jolly Old St. Nick. It always makes me smile, remembering his child laughter ringing through the house as we baked sugar cookies, danced around the Christmas tree and played carols on the piano. Hands down, it's the best of my collection!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

No Time for Sunsets

I miss twilight.

Each new week I look at my calendar and see a list of things that needs to be done. Tonight I took gate money at the Junior High ballgame...and tomorrow I will attend my son's third game this week. Three more games in the days ahead, a music program and a theater practice, performed just for me. Cleaning after school to earn money to stay a little less far behind, laundry, supper, dishes, sleep.

I miss my sunsets and having time to just be. I miss curling up with a book, writing letters and having no place to go.
With Christmas just on the horizon, I feel a bit cheated when I look around at all our lovely decorations, but cannot be home to enjoy them. Schedules are filled to the brim with things that need attending, and I want time to slow down. These days it's not about saying 'no', but rather keeping up with what must be. I feel the strain on all of us, being put on time lines when we're used to having our own moments together.

The weekend is a breath away; I'm anxious for the respite and for a quiet Kansas sunset.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Winter Ball

Last night was our school's Winter Ball; a semi-formal dance held in the commons area of the gymnasium to celebrate the upcoming holidays. Often the kids attend in groups and go out to eat before the festivities so they can have more time to share and laugh together. Originally, my kids and their friends were going to do the same, but with the weather being a little iffy, I volunteered to make them dinner at our house so they could be both safe and save a little money for Christmas shopping.
One of my daughter's dearest friends was missing, however. She went to the hospital Friday morning and had a delayed appendectomy yesterday afternoon. She is a beautiful girl whom my daughter adores...and her presence was sorely missed.

Her boyfriend (the young man in the brown shirt) had just gotten back from the hospital where he took the corsage he had meant to give her that night. His shirt was to match her dress and it's obvious that his heart was not into this night without her.

I am thankful to have kids with a strong judge of character, who choose friends with good hearts and loving spirits. As time slips by, they grow up and the cheerful noises no longer echo through the house, I will miss moments like these when our days were filled with laughter and our home alive with song.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No Lines Drawn

This morning while I was getting ready for work, I was listening to my favorite morning show on the radio. A lady had written in, telling about her 5-year-old son who wanted an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. Her husband had scoffed at the idea, saying "Over my dead body!"

On the way to school, I asked my son what he would do if he was a dad and his young son asked for this gift. I didn't preface the question with this father's response as I wanted to get another male's unbiased perspective.

"How old should kids be for something like that?" my son asked me.

"Oh, it depends on the child," I responded. "Maybe as young as 4 or 5, and on up to 9 or so."

"Then I'd say OK." He paused. "Why? I suppose there was a dad who didn't want him to have one because it's a 'girl' toy."

I told him about the conversation on the radio and how the father was adamant that his son not have such a gift. "Well, I wouldn't have a problem with it," my son said.

Thank goodness.

When my son, now almost 16, was 2-years-old, my mom gave him a boy doll donned in basketball attire. "Buddy" accompanied us to the grocery store, the sandbox, down slipper slides and on walks. He never seemed out of place, simply because he belonged to a little boy. The day came soon enough where he was put away; traded in for a real basketball and a new set of interests.

Do we panic when a little girl wants a toy car or a baseball instead of a ruffly dress and Barbies? Why is it when it comes to boys, that society is so frightened to step out of certain lines of the gender box? Perhaps this little boy, who wants an oven of his own, has helped his mother in the kitchen and wants to learn on his own level. Maybe his father is so busy keeping things within those lines that he doesn't have time to get to know his own son. If he did, chances are he would find a loving and interesting little fellow who at five, isn't afraid to follow his own path.

Being a parent isn't about pushing our children down the same road as we have traveled. It's finding delight in who they are and accompanying them down their own, then gradually letting go with encouragement and love.

I hope that that little boy finds an Easy-Bake Oven beneath his tree this Christmas...and that his father finds the soft spot that lives in every man in time to really appreciate his son and all that he has to teach him.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Unscripted Blessings

When my husband and I married nearly seven years ago, we entered into a relationship with a complex and interesting new family. Gone were our ideals, and in their place stood a complicated tangle of emotions and reservations.

In addition to my own son and daughter, I inherited three lovely young women; two who were already grown and beginning their college endeavors and another, who at 15, was beginning her sophomore year with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Those first few years felt like a confusing maze with blurred lines and no real direction. And though we took a few wrong turns along the way, we never lost sight of one another; holding fast as we bumped into walls and not letting go until we came out on the other side, together and back into the light.

It wasn't easy for any of us, but I'm so glad that we persevered and that we have come to that place of understanding where we can truly appreciate and love each other.

Since the road that leads to the girls winds through Oklahoma, we don't see them as often as we'd like, and with the addition of a darling little grandson, that makes it all the more difficult. Still, the moments shared are precious and we are thankful for the loveliness of those times.

I have written very little here about
my step-daughters. I think I've felt it was a bit of an invasion since they don't know that I write and share in this way, and I wouldn't want them to feel compromised or uncomfortable. But this evening, as I look back on these pictures from our Thanksgiving together, I'm so very grateful to have these young women in my life and all that they bring. And I am thankful that through the twists and turns of a "blended family", we have endured this crazy ride, now standing together at this place....and being counted as one.

Sometimes blessings come disguised; unexpected and unscripted in this journey through life. It's amazing when we open our hearts, just what - and who - is waiting to fill them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Plays Away

I'm not sure I've been missed in the world of Blog, but I have definitely missed writing here and making the rounds to read my favorites.

Life has held me captive these past few weeks, especially the school play which was moved from a spring time show up to mid-November. There is always a lot to do for a production, even on a small scale, and coming on the heels of a state football game and in the midst of working longer hours at school, there has simply been no time for much of anything else.

There were many hours of learning lines, compiling costumes and frustration when people dropped out.
And with the final curtain call came bittersweet feelings: being proud of their accomplishments, relieved that it is over, yet sad that this is my daughter's last high school performance. She's feeling somewhat at a loss as it has occupied her time since the school's beginning in August. Yet she can hold her head up high, knowing that she was part of a very small group that overcame many obstacles during this play, coming out on the other side with a success that surprised everyone.

After the 'serious' group shot at the end of the performance, I asked everyone to have some fun. Little coaxing was needed and with nerves settled, it was easy to set aside their characters and enjoy themselves. Though I have a tape with serious young actors frozen in time, it is the laughter and free spirits I will cherish from this moment as the curtain falls one last time....and a new chapter begins.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Past

Before my parents moved from the large two-story house we knew as "home", it was our Thanksgiving tradition to walk to the edge of our little town to a natural spring to take pictures. For a few years we took family photos there to include in Christmas greetings, and time was spent drinking from a dipper and gliding over the spring on the lap of a board swing hung from a large elm tree.

As I look through these pictures from my past, it isn't the posed smiles that give me pause, but rather the unrehearsed, sweet moments of little hands discovering the wonders of God's creations. It is the bright eyes and easy smiles that tug at my heart and remind me how blessed I have been and continue to be.

May this Thanksgiving remind you of those who are dear to your heart and how fortunate we are to live in a country where we can celebrate our gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Days of My Life...

Flowers at work to brighten my day....

A college visit with two of my favorite girls...

Halloween Fun...

Working on the set for the upcoming play...

And taking a break every now and then...

Senior Pictures...

And time spent with friends...

And always...a Kansas sunset.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunny Days

Though I haven't been posting much as of late, it isn't for lack of photographs or words. There simply isn't enough time in my days to share all that I'd like. Just know that right now the sun is shining brightly in Kansas...and that my days have been filled with great joy.

'Til we meet again...and I promise it will be soon!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Wind Is Passing By

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I love the sky. As we were headed for school one morning, we saw these interesting clouds to our northwest, filled with wind and looking like wispy white cyclones against the October-blue sky. I would've loved to pull over and get a better shot of them, but as we were running late I handed the camera to my son who shot these out the car window.

Now I'm wishing we would've stopped. Sometimes it's worth it to be a bit late...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Festival Time

This has been an especially busy October with the arrival of my baby niece, Berklee, and many obligations at school, due to being a senior parent. With our football team on the cusp of becoming top in their class and preparations for the school play, there's been precious little time to devote to writing.

One of the highlights of our community during this time has also been a large fall festival. The entire county, as well as alumni from far away, gather to celebrate the open doors of Autumn. This photograph was taken early in the day, when chairs are set up hours before the parade starts to ensure the best seat in town. Once it begins, people sit or stand five deep for a two-mile stretch along the sidewalks as colorful floats, flashy bands and pretty girls make their way down the street.

Five girls from the community college vie for Queen of the festival, where one is crowned at a coronation, and girls from the surrounding communities are chosen to represent their towns during the entire celebration. It is a time for laughter and long hours, banquets and dances, and lots of smiling and waving!
I could've chosen a demure photograph where the girls are in their sparkling gowns and posed smiles, but to me this captures the essence of
fun at the festival: foamy hot chocolate on noses on a crisp fall morning before the parade begins. I love that my daughter doesn't take herself too seriously, and though she knows when it's 'proper to be proper', she also recognizes when it's OK to wrap herself in laughter and embrace all those around her.

So here's to queens and tiaras...and feeling comfortable in an evening gown, but being at home in a sweatshirt...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Theatre Crazy

Last night some of the members from our play cast boarded a mini-bus, along with their director, her husband and myself. We traveled to a nearby college that was presenting a colorful play filled with wonderful costumes, sets and music. Being from a tiny, rural community, this was the first of this type of art form for some of them. They were thrilled, to say the least and it was such a joy to watch their eyes light up as the curtain rose on the stage.

Though sometimes dealing with a handful of teenagers can be a bit much, they were wonderful. Not a sound was made during the production as they watched the characters dance to the wonderful music of Gershwin, and an energy filled them as they took home memories of tap shoes on wood, charming young men and pretty girls.

My friend, Shelly drove the bus and as we both are big fans of musicals and the theatre, we were excited to have a night to revel in an all-too-rare moment of magic.

Here's to friends, music and laughter...and to our own debut in the weeks ahead.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Birthday Memory

In October of 1982 during a break in my college schedule, my family and I traveled to Missouri and Arkansas for a short vacation. I spent my birthday in the car on our way back home; not the best way to celebrate, especially when I was prone to car sickness!

On a lonesome highway, out in the middle of nowhere, we noticed a sign at the top of an old abandoned shed. As we got closer, much to our surprise, we saw that the sign bore my name: Lori Lynn. We promptly pulled over and my sister shot this photograph on an overcast October 17th - my 21st birthday.

We're always told to watch for signs in life. I just never realized they could be so obvious!