Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008

It was our last sunset of the year. We saw it as we drove the back roads just south of home; God's brush dipped from a warm palette and spread across a watercolor sky.

It was a good year, 2008. And it was a challenging year. We celebrated many joys and we faced some trials. But when push came to shove, we emerged through it all and are thankful to be healthy and whole.

New Year's Eve has always been a time of melancholy for me. When my sister and I were teenagers we would watch Dick Clark in New York City and ponder all of the things that would 'never be' again. I would always wonder - with more trepidation than excitement - what the new year ahead would hold. I've never anticipated or welcomed change. Perhaps, coming from a people and a place that has always been safe and loving, I never wanted that comfort to end. Looking ahead into the dawn of a new year, I could never be sure that my wonderful little world would remain as it was.

But here we are; on the cusp of 2009....and those feelings still remain. Maybe, no matter how old one gets, the need for the familiar never changes. Or at least, it's that way for me.

Tonight, as the sunset faded into darkness, the stars came out in a clear and brilliant display. One could see for miles, and our little house tucked way back on country roads suddenly seemed in the midst of lights from every neighboring farm and nearby town. Everything was brighter in the crisp, pre-New Year night, and it was difficult to see anything but optimism and hope in its beauty.

May your 2009 be joyous and whole and may your blessings be many in the new year ahead!Click here to enjoy more SkyWatch.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Well for Wishing

It was just after noon when we settled down for our daily chapter of Little House on the Prairie; little girls with pixie faces on either side of me, arms intertwined with mine and bright eyes studying my face as I read.

The Ingalls family, too, had just settled on the Kansas prairie, building a log cabin and stretching their wagon’s billowy canvas across the top for a temporary roof. Ma wished for a clothesline, Pa for a well.

“Do you girls know what a well is?” I asked.
“Oh yes!” came a ready reply. “It’s something that you throw money into to make a wish.”

“Well, yes,” I nodded. “People do that sometimes. But do you know what’s at the bottom of the well?”

An eager hand shot up on the other side of me as she smiled widely, “Wishes!”

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Birthday!

My husband's birthday comes on the heels of Christmas. While we are finishing up the leftovers, picking tree needles off the carpet and contemplating taking down all the decorations, he is celebrating another year of life. Those whose birthdays fall in the aftermath of Christmas cheer tend to get overlooked as their special day slips in among the holidays.

So today a post, in honor of his birthday. To my James on his 48th....I Love You!

Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!

What Makes a Mother Happy

I'm always after my kids for a picture. They can tell you themselves how many times I've said, "You guys! Quit goofing around and be serious so I can have a nice picture of you together!"

For Christmas they had a friend take not one, but several "nice pictures together." And at the same time, they threw in a couple of silly ones for good measure, because of course...that's who they are.

And honestly......
I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In Favor of the Kitties

In all the flurry of Christmas activity and searching for the perfect presents, we sometimes forget that the most basic joys of everyday life not only suffice but often exceed that very goal.

A little boy is surrounded by trucks and puzzles, fancy wrappings and pretty much anything he could possibly desire from the toy store. But what he found the most delight in, what brought the most smiles and squeals of excitement were our furry little kittens. There were so many moments I could have captured with the camera, but instead I watched as he laid his cheek against their soft heads and carried them around, usually two at a time.

In the New Year ahead, remember the joys in your own backyard and learn to find contentment there. Realize that you aren't "settling" for less than what you deserve but rather, truly appreciating the treasures that you already have.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very joyous and blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


When I was in kindergarten in 1967, my teacher, Mrs. Bartel, gave us each a Christmas ornament. It was nothing fancy: a small felt snowman cut with pinking shears and stitched with love. For years he hung on our family Christmas tree - the first ornament I had that was exclusively mine.

Every year I get him out along with all of the lovely things I have collected over the years. His smile is faded now through all the handling of the past forty-one years. But he is a sweet reminder of a simpler time, when a kindergarten teacher could still kiss you on the cheek each day, and a child could marvel in a handmade gift of felt and love.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Capturing the Cardinal

A couple of weeks ago I was walking down to our commons area to take a picture of one of my students for a class project. Our maintenance man called me over to the window where this little female cardinal was resting on the sidewalk, just outside the door. Under any other circumstances I wouldn't have had my camera with me, so felt fortunate to capture these photographs. She must have been enjoying the sunshine because she didn't stir at all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Calico Encouragement

This afternoon I went downstairs to work on costumes for a friend who is directing the nativity play at her church.

Our new little kitty watched me as I disappeared below, and waited patiently for an invitation. I carried her down and let her play in new territory as she discovered the Christmas tree, climbed on the couch and played with the toys she found.

A social little creature, she soon learned that I had turned my attention to the sewing machine and she wasn't getting the attention she loves.

Jumping first into my lap, she crept up my arm and onto my shoulder where she watched me work. She was quite content to listen to the hum of the machine and watch the needle work its magic on the fabric. After awhile I called upstairs to my husband to come take a photo before she became bored and hopped down.

I did finish the costumes, and though there is no mention of a kitty cat in the nativity scene, I wouldn't be surprised if a hair or two of calico made an appearance on a shepherd's robe tomorrow night!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

For me, Christmas isn't the day so much as all of the events leading up to the 25th. It's the magic of the Christmas tree, making gifts for family and friends, holiday baking and gathering with those we love to share happy moments that will last forever.

There is more to come in the days ahead as we both work and play to make this year special. But for tonight, this is a glimpse of Christmas so far....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Meant To Meet

There are people that come into our lives and it's obvious that we are meant to meet. In our case, it wasn't just one person but a family; four very special people whom I believe were placed directly in our path.

When we moved here seven years ago we came into an unknown. Though my husband had grown up in this community, the rest of us stumbled in our acquaintances and felt lost for friendships.

My son was just entering the fourth grade and had a set of twins in his class, a boy and a girl. My husband knew their dad; a kind man who, as a young teenager, bought my husband (a 6-year-old boy at the time) a new toy truck after his family lost their home in a fire. Their mother was the kindergarten teacher at the school where I had just gotten a job. It was her first year there as well.

As time went on our families began spending time together, developing a strong friendship. Our boys played basketball together and our daughters, though two years apart, shared common values and goals and through the years, became very close.
While sharing stories and life experiences, we found that Jim and Cathy have the same wedding anniversary as James and I - July 14th. Cathy and I then learned that both of our parents had been married in the same church in Wichita, KS, though in different years. Talking with my dad, we found that he had known her grandfather back in the 1940's. The world suddenly became very small as our friendship continued to grow.

I love this family. We all do. I can't imagine what our lives would have been like these past few years without them. They are the face of goodness and friendship, and have filled our hearts to overflowing.

As the Christmas season comes into full swing and I look around at my many gifts, I see a family who has touched our world and made it better, brighter and fuller.

Merry Christmas, our dear friends. We love you so much and count you each as a true blessing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - December Sunset

The winter sky (or pre-winter sky) is different than anything else. Unlike the subtle pastels of spring, the lazy hues of summer or the fiery reds and oranges of autumn, the winter sky lays above the horizon like a bejeweled canopy. With everything else resting around it, the sky bursts into life with brilliance and color, resisting hibernation, unlike the rest of the world.

Above me a flock of geese soar in syncopated flight; some serving as the kite's tail in their spring-like pursuit. I hear their excited honks as they seek a Christmas in balmy weather, dismissing me to my winter wonderland.
It's almost surreal, the colors of the sky. My mother used to say, about a certain type of sunset, "If you were to paint that, no one would believe it's real."

But it is real. An early Christmas gift. And just outside my own back door.

Enjoy SKYWATCH from around the world.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It isn't Christmas Until...

It isn't Christmas until... We put up the live Christmas tree (this isn't it).
It isn't Christmas until... We bake sugar cookies using my grandma's recipe.
It isn't Christmas until... I hear Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas".
It isn't Christmas until... I listen to the tape of my brother playing the piano.
It isn't Christmas until... It snows at least once. Flurries count.
It isn't Christmas until... We unpack all the ornaments from Christmas past.
It isn't Christmas until... I start sending - and receiving - greetings in the mail.
It isn't Christmas until... We attend services at church.
It isn't Christmas until... We watch "Holiday Inn" and "It's a Wonderful Life".
It isn't Christmas until... I battle the malls at least once.
It isn't Christmas until... I mention my pants are getting a bit tighter!
It isn't Christmas until... I make some kind of home made gift.
It isn't Christmas until... We take our annual family photo.
It isn't Christmas until... We write about it at school.
It isn't Christmas until... I buy one of those boxes of chocolate covered cherries.
It isn't Christmas until... We remember the reason we celebrate in the first place.

I better get busy.....because Christmas is coming!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

SkyWatch Friday

This was the most interesting sky. It looked like lava had escaped from the clouds and spilled out over the horizon. The sunset is never the same here. No wonder twilight is my favorite time of day.

See the view from above at SkyWatch.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Farewell, November

These skies seem fitting for the month of November with their golden hues and restful russets. The brilliance of deep autumn hesitates ever so slightly as it hovers on the horizon, checks its bags then quietly slips into a deep slumber. It will be replaced with icy blues and white as Jack dips his brush into a frosty palette, painting our morning windows with his intricate designs.

I will miss the evenings where twilight lingers on my doorstep and beckons me with her radiance. Yet there is respite and insight, a new season...a new day. And beyond Fall's gold curtain on the edge of the morrow, there's always new hope.