"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

21 December 2014

living, loving, laughing

SWEET 16 TODAY!
  Is it really possible that our youngest, our "baby", the ballerina...that graceful, taller than her older sister, wicked-smart, compassionate, full-of-life-love- and laughter- girl is really 16 years old today as of 4:22 a.m.??

I remember Sunday 20 December, 1998 so well.  Courtney had kindergarten the next day and her Christmas party dress needed a button sewn on. Something told me to get it done that day, rather than waiting until the night before the last day of school before the holiday break.  I was a stay-at-home mom at that time and teaching piano part time. I remember turning down a special education pre-k job the previous winter when I found out I was pregnant with our 2nd child.  We had "given up" and weren't really trying anymore after 2 years of nothing happening. Dave had been working in Italy all that previous winter/early spring and was home on a break when I got pregnant. I remember telling Courtney she was going to be a big sister and preparing her for what that would mean.  When we found out we were having another little girl, we were thrilled and Courtney started praying every night to God that "my baby sister would be under the Christmas tree".  I had to tell her that babies come when God decides they are ready...and that my due date was not until December 28th so having Claire Rebekah under the tree in time for Christmas was probably not going to happen.

Well, God does indeed hear the prayers of little children and I went into labor as soon as my water broke around 11 pm the night of December 20th.  

We barely made it to the hospital in time.  A little less than 4 hours later, our ballerina danced her way into the world and hasn't stopped dancing since.
On Pointe at age 13

age 8 months
Labor Day weekend 1999
Camping near Tanglewood Jazz Festival, MA
At 10 weeks old, she had to have major surgery (one ovary and fallopian tube had to come out due to a torqued cyst).  That was a difficult time but she came through it just fine.  Our faith was definitely tested at that time of her young life.

I always wondered how my heart would have enough room to love another child.  And yet....it does....that magical, miraculous, marvelous gift of childbirth (and thankfully I could have my babies in the "all natural" "no drugs" method) brings such a fierce love.  There is always enough.  And like 2nd children often are, she was definitely different in temperament and personality than her big sis.  She was difficult in some ways because she was always on the go...yet not hyperactive.  Her primary love languages are/were physical touch and acts of service.  They seem to still be the way she feels ;most loved, even today.

It's because of Claire that I learned to be patient.....yes, I was always patient with my special education class but there's something about having your own  children...they are so quick to "push our buttons" and boy, our feisty Claire knew how to do this well!  
But...she also brought much laughter and joy to our home.  Courtney, her big sis, was an easy baby and toddler.  She was our only child for 5 years and a little princess.  Claire was more of the tomboy, always moving around the house and yard, taking risks, stamping those little feet when angry or frustrated, kicking soccer balls and racing up trails.  She did calm down after about age 7 and is probably the most graceful  teenager I have ever seen.

I cannot imagine our lives without her!  She and her big sis have such a close relationship...they are truly friends as well as sisters.  

Claire, age 2 with big sis Courtney age 7
I praise God that I get to be Claire's mom.  I'm looking forward to what the next couple of years will bring!

Some fave photos of Claire:

age 3 at the beach house on Buzzards Bay/Cape Cod


dancing with daddy, age 7







Ballet Show June 2008, age 9



leaping at Buzzards Bay
loving life!
July 2010



Claire with one of her best friends, Suzanna
Homecoming 2013






Birthday Fun!
Courtney, Faith, Claire


19 December 2014

Before Christmas Faves



Well today is the last day of a full work week until after the new year!  Our school district is open on Monday and Tuesday and then we are off from Xmas Eve until January 4th and I am totally looking forward to that!  
For now, I'm sharing 5 blessings from the week and joining up with other bloggers who like to do the same.  We link up at Susanne's so head on over to join in!

FIVE FAVES

  • MOVIE NIGHT!  I love that my almost 16 (on Sunday!!) daughter still wants to do our seasonal tradition of curling up on the family room couch together, popping popcorn, drinking hot cocoa, and watching Christmas movies.  We begin on the Saturday or Sunday evening after Thanksgiving and do one movie each weekend until Christmas Eve when we all watch White Christmas. This tradition started when the girls were little and we watched the children's classics like "Little Drummer Boy", "Rudolph", and "Charlie Brown Christmas". As they got older we started watching other Christmas movies and as a family, we've been collecting classic movies such as "Miracle on 34th Street", "White Christmas", etc. This one, pictured above, was a gift to my husband last year.  We hadn't seen it yet! Claire and I kept the tradition going once Courtney went off to college but we save certain movies for when she is home for the holidays. This movie we saw Saturday evening was one we thoroughly enjoyed although it was a little sad in places.  It's based on a true story, too!  I love that we have this movie night tradition.

photo courtesy of Whistling Kettle website
  • MOMS ANNUAL TEA!  This is becoming an annual fave.  The small group of moms that I lead love doing social events, so a couple of years ago we decided to do an annual Christmas Tea.  This past Saturday, we had it at a new establishment (pictured above) in the city across the Hudson  River from us. 5 out of the 7 of us were able to attend and we had a really good time!  The food was amazing and the service impeccable! I had a cup of Roasted Red Pepper soup and a sweet crepe of banana and Nutella.It was too big...I could only eat about 1/3 of it!  The tea was soothing to my throat as the waiter recommended a throat care tea due to my sore throat I was battling. Despite not feeling all that well, I ended up having a marvelous time with my sisters-in-Christ.  That's always a fave!



  • REST.  I took a sick day Tuesday. Yes.  An actual sick day. I have MANY sick days accumulated as I'm rarely ill and my throat was just so sore and I felt a bit feverish so I called in and rested most of the day.  My throat was being soothed by Throat Coat tea and my soul was being soothed by just reading for pleasure and reading the Word of God.  I had started an Advent devotional on my iPad Bible app and I just loved the alone time in the stillness of the house.  I really needed that day!  In the afternoon I felt a bit better so I did some light housework and wrapped the rest of the Christmas  gifts. I am now all caught up and the throat pain  has eased up and I'm just dealing with a cold at this point.



  • SAFELY HOME!  Yesterday while I was pulling into the garage after work, Courtney was pulling into the driveway from college!  She left Boston around noon and made it home in very good time and thankfully with good weather and no incidents.  She's a bit shocked at our gas prices ($2.89 a gallon) as she pays about $2.49 on the north shore.  But she won't need to do much driving now that she's home for the holidays.  It is just so good to have her here!!


  • POSITIVE PRAYER ANSWER!  I have been praying for Courtney and her next semester internship in Graphic Design, on and off, for several months now.  And earlier this week, she texted me saying she had had a successful interview with the Return Design Agency on the campus.  You can see what this is all about by clicking here.  AND...they accepted her!!  I'm so excited for her.  She will be doing her entire internship at this agency and won't need to go into Boston every day.  I think she is really going to enjoy this experience.  I had really wanted her to get into this agency as did she and God gave us a "yes"!!  
That's a summary of my week.  We've had very sick kindergartners (yesterday the head teacher of the classroom was out due to his sick toddler so the other assistant and I plus a support staff teacher ran the classroom and we ended up having 3 kids out plus sent 3 home sick!  Hopefully over this weekend, the children will get well and we can enjoy the Christmas festivities planned at school for Monday and Tuesday.  

Whatever your weekend brings you.....most likely last minute preparations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day......I hope you  take some time to reflect on the Reason for the season!

God bless!!


16 December 2014

2014 Book Review #42: The Time Between



Another great read!! I've been fortunate to have read a couple of really good books in the last 2 months and this one was one of them.  The author is one of my favorites but I can't read hers right in a row......they tend to have similar themes and characters. I think most of the ones I've read have been set in the south but her descriptive words are excellent that it makes me feel like I'm right there.  And I've never been to the deep south other than a quick flight to Atlanta to hop on another plane to CA.  So....when I saw this book on the library shelf last week, I grabbed it because there was only 1 copy and her books tend to be popular.

STORY SUMMARY

Eleanor and Eve Murray grew up on Edisto Island, South Carolina. (It's an actual place but the novel is fiction).  Their father, who passed away when Eleanor was 14 years old and Eve was 16, was a shrimper and pianist.  Eleanor also had a passion for music, and was particularly good at the piano, under her father's teaching.

But now she only has memories of him.  Along with the memories of her daddy are the guilt feelings she has for her sister's accident which left her legs paralyzed and in a wheelchair.

Both girls are in their 30's now and live in North Charleston with their mother, and Eve's husband, Glen.  Eleanor has always had a crush on Glen and Eve knows this.  Eve is not always a nice or kind person to Eleanor even though her younger sister works to help support her and her mother.  Eleanor works at a downtown investment firm owned and operated by Finn Beaufain, who is divorced from Harper and is the custodial parent of their 10 year old daughter Genevieve (Gigi) who is in her 4th year of remission from cancer.

Eleanor also works at a neighborhood bar, playing piano late at night to earn extra money and to keep up her music.  But.....one night her boss walks into the bar and offers her a different part time job being the companion of his great-aunt Helena back on Edisto Island.  Eleanor sees this as a chance to go back to her hometown roots and revisit the past....where she was happy and content.

Helena is in the stages of grief and is 95 years old.  She just lost her younger sister Bernadett who died mysteriously.  The island has been a peaceful place of refuge for Helena and Bernadett ever since they escaped from the 2nd World War in their homeland, Hungary, which they left in 1944.  

Eleanor will soon learn of their secrets and of their past......and these secrets will help her relationship with her own sister....and possibly set Eleanor free from her own secrets..............

MY THOUGHTS

This book was a quick and easy read!  Just like all of the author's novels, I found myself really enjoying the character development and my absolute faves were Eleanor, Finn, and Gigi.  I learned some new things about WW2 and Hungary and found it fascinating that the author wrote about piano composers that I used to enjoy playing and listening to.  It made me want to dig out my old music and start practicing again!

The trials that Eleanor goes through pricked my heart.  I felt as though I wanted to help her along with letting go of her past and perceived guilt.  I had guessed a part of Bernadett's story and I found out later in the book that I was correct! I love when that happens.  

I was sad to learn about exactly how Bernadett died......and I don't want to reveal it here in case you want to read this book, too!

I loved how Eve and Eleanor forgave each other and became friends again.  

This book centers around love, family, forgiveness, trials, betrayals, strength, bravery, and perseverance/second chances.

This book is a definite "feel-good" story.  

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.





15 December 2014

Craving the Savoring




It's been a challenging few days........personally........



dashing off devotions with out savoring the morsels there ..........because dashing off "to do" from the list that keeps on growing and growing and why do we need more under the tree and in the stockings and do we really need six different kinds of sugary sweetness rolled, balled, dipped and dotted? and what about the laundry, the shopping, the wrapping, the cooking, the driving to and fro, the cleaning, the "it must be perfect" Christmas??

I'm sitting here on a Monday evening..........after a full day at work with special needs 5 year olds, feeling like I have a special need for the Savior.........because after work, I cooked, and spot cleaned, and taxied the ballerina and bought groceries and picked up a gift (but God....it's for the needy  boy in the class!!), and unpacked, and made lunches, and did dishes and complained to husband, and coaxed daughter, and battled a sore throat with body aching and frazzled nerves plopped on the couch at 9 p.m. to write...............and here I am.  Trying to not dwell on the dust or the dough waiting to be rolled..........but rather to be still.............

Near the decorated tree with candles shining brightly in the windows and night so mild with dripping snow making puddles on shiny streets and tears gathering making puddles in my eyes because I'm craving time to just be.

and I'm craving that savoring........

that time spent still.

Eyes, ears, heart on the Savior.

Because He really is why we do this thing called Christmas.

And I don't want to be on this treadmill of the perfect Christmas round and round we go and where we stop no one will know.............

I want to sit.  And be still.  taking things moment by moment rather than flying fast to and fro.............

savoring the sounds of the music...........

spending time looking at my husband and listening, conversing, laughing, appreciating..........

cuddling with the ballerina and making plans for Christmas break instead of cajoling the child to clean and hurry up the homework...........

I want to prepare the house for our princess (she comes home in 2 days!!) but not at the expense of neglecting time with the King.......the King who came to earth........in human form....for us.........to redeem us..........

I want to savor the sermon I heard on Sunday...those wise words from Pastor...........the words that remind us that we needed a Redeemer.......because we are in bondage to sin............

and I don't want to be a slave to my to do lists any longer...........

but rather..........I want to sit.  and be still.  and know that He is God.

That is the perfect Christmas.  Jesus.  My heart tuned to His.

Craving Christ.  Savoring my Savior.

Help me manage my time, Lord.  Help me say No to stuff and Yes to You.

Savoring the simple things..........


11 December 2014

December Catch Up Faves

I'm finally blogging again!

And I'm sharing 5 of my favorite moments from the last 2 weeks here with others who like sharing what God has brought into our lives.  Feel free to join in by linking up over at Susanne's site.

FIVE FAVES


Claire's wooden shoes


  • ST NICHOLAS DAY! We celebrate this day and you can read about it by clicking on this link.   I was very surprised that Claire, at almost 16, still wanted to do this tradition and I was thrilled!!  It's one of my very fave family traditions that we established way back in 2000. (they received the shoes for Xmas of 1999).  Last year was Courtney's last year to celebrate with her shoes, but I am hoping she will continue the tradition when/if she has her own child someday. It is definitely a fave around here. 





Location of Claire's party


favors in shape of a 16
all ready to party!
  • SWEET 16 PARTY!  Ah.....I am bittersweet about this fave.  It's a fave because everything went so well.  This party was planned entirely by Claire with a little help from her dad and I and a LOT of thanks goes to our church Grace Fellowship.  Claire wanted the party at our youth center at our own church here in town.  BUT...it is no longer available on Friday or Saturday evenings so one of our other sites (in a town just to the north of us) said we could have it in their lobby/cafe area.  And they had it decorated with beautiful holiday lights and a large Christmas tree!!  What a blessing.  Her colors of lilac and light blue went great with the white lights hanging from the cathedral ceiling with all the glass windows.  She actually turns 16 on Winter Solstice (December 21) but she wanted the party early.  There were 20 girls and everyone had a blast! Even though it was a cold, icy rain last Saturday evening, everyone was safe to and from the party.  Another thing to be thankful for!
party set up

part of the lobby/cafe area



  • SPECIAL WORDS.  Claire had 2 of her friends spend the night after the party.  It was around midnight by the time Dave and I had unpacked the cars with all the party stuff and turned in for the night. We heard the girls getting ready for hunkering down in sleeping bags in the family room and all of a sudden our bedroom door had a tentative knock.  It was Claire who poked her head in and said she just wanted to say "thank you" for a such a great party.  I was floored!!  Although we have taught them from age 2 to say "thank you" to us, other family members, friends, teachers, etc for things like gifts or a service, it is nice to hear a thank you and special words for things that we often think they take for granted. (like laundry or parties!)  My parents didn't throw lavish birthday parties.  and actually neither of my daughters had "lavish" sweet 16 parties.  (Courtney's was in the backyard with pizza, cupcakes, ice cream and a bonfire and lots of music and dancing) and Claire was pretty much the same minus the backyard, ice cream and bonfire.  And the church didn't charge all that much to rent the space.  We just had to agree to clean thoroughly!  So...hearing those words of thanks was indeed special because it is not often said for stuff like this. Claire is our one who is very sensitive. She picks up on body language and non-verbal cues really well.  This party left me exhausted because there was so much prep involved. And the weather hadn't cooperated.  I am so thankful she has a kind heart and kind words and isn't taking things like birthday parties for granted!




  • BIRTHDAY GIFT!  I celebrated 55 years of age on Tuesday the 9th and  Dave surprised me with 2 CD's after a yummy dinner out.  The weather was awful...we had a wet, slushy snow after work and the drive home from dinner was just so slow going and then I got stuck in our driveway!  So opening this favorite music group really made my day.  I love their music and had only listened to them on Spotify. Now I can play the CD's in my car and then let our oldest daughter, who loves them too, copy them onto her phone or iPod once she gets home for Christmas.  It's just a little thing, but I love Christmas music....it's  always a fave with me!
Card from Courtney

  • CARD!  I love getting cards in the mail and Courtney surprised me by sending me one for my birthday!  I was touched by the words on the card and her hand-written message inside.  Since my primary love language is gifts (I love giving AND receiving) I always enjoy these little things from my daughters.  Simple but special.  I will treasure it always.  

BONUS FAVES:  we had a winter storm move through our region of NYS and it left us with about 8 inches of the white stuff.  This storm also brought with it some mix of rain, sleet and freezing rain.  It was not fun.  But, thankfully.....a fave....2 days of 2 hour delays which helped me get caught up on a couple of things around the house and helped Claire get caught up on some extra sleep.

Another bonus fave:  my husband received a very good Christmas bonus this year from the company.  Enough for him to plan our 25th wedding anniversary.  We might be going on an Alaskan cruise!!! I'm sure I'll be writing more on that come spring.......

December is often a very busy and hectic time.  For the weekend, I, like so many of you, I'm sure, have a little more shopping to do, cookies to start baking, fudge to start making, my small group's annual Christmas tea, church, more baking, wrapping, and cleaning. BUT.....

Whatever you have planned for the weekend, please take some time to rest, reflect on the Reason for the Season (JESUS!) and listen to some good music!

Blessings!





































05 December 2014