Saturday, October 19, 2013

Real living and sweet giggles . . . what you get when you mix 2 little boys and a handful of puppies.

I could not pass up the chance to photograph these sweet pups, and I was delighted that we got a grandson and his buddy to come play, too!

If there is anything more magical than the sweet interactions between these little creatures, I'm not sure what it is!

I love these smiles.

I love these sneaky faces!

And I adore the ways these young ones know how to close out the rest of the world and focus on this moment.  I wish you could hear them laughing!

I love taking photos like these and hoping that pressing pause on these moments will help their memories stay fresh.

I like imagining these little guys as old men, showing these images to their grandsons - and laughing a bit at the remembrance.

Might do us all a little good to dig deep and harness a bit of the playful spirit that must be inside us somewhere.

Maybe we should romp around with a new puppy or roll in the grass on a sunny day or laugh and laugh and laugh with an old friend.  

Maybe we just need to find the puppy or notice the green grass or pick up the phone and call the friend.  

We may not be as good at it as these guys . . . but we can do it.

Throw some worry away today.

Look into the eyes of something good today.

Forget about the grown up stuff, 

even if only for a moment. 


You can view the whole session at:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Sadie Lecture Series continues . . . from under the lampshade of doom . . .

Sadie speaks to me.  Well, not in so many words.  Well, not in any words, but she is constantly teaching.  I like it when I remember to learn.  

One morning last week was much like most mornings - pretty great, actually.  We had dropped off the kids at school and were running errands.  Sadie was overjoyed to be riding along, resting with the hum of the engine and feeling the warm sun beat down on her head.  Often she shows 'overjoyed' with a good nap.  (She's easy to read.)

We stopped off before home at the enchanted forest near our house.  That's what I call it, because it is way too beautiful to be called a vacant lot and because it is very fun to know (even if no one else knows) that I visit an enchanted forest every day with my dog.  There are flowers and signs of long ago life there for me and there are smells and grasses and space for Sadie.  We really like it.

You get the picture.  It was a great morning.  

We got home and began the rituals of the early day - the trash, the mess, the laundry, the usual.  As I was gathering the trash to take to the street, Sadie was cut by something (I've never been able to find) right under my nose.  She yelped once and then ran along as usual.  When we got inside, though, I realized she was very different.  She was nervous and hurting.  A further glance found the blood along her leg, and I knew we had to go to the vet.  

Bother.  Expense.  Pain.  Distraction.  We both thought our thoughts about the inconvenience of this whole escapade and we both remembered how awesome our little morning had been just minutes before.  Bummer.

We went to see the nice vet.  They took care of sweet Sadie.  They stapled the cut on her leg; and even though stapling doesn't sound like a nice thing to do, I rested assured that she was in good hands.  The vet went over the drill.  She explained what I'd need to do, when we would come back, what medicine to take.  We had it.  Sadie stopped shaking for the first time in a couple of hours when she got safely back in my arms and we headed home.  

That's when Sadie started teaching.

She glanced at me from the back seat and assured me that everything was all right.  She showed me she wasn't shaking anymore and she got comfortable.  I learned.

She hurt a bit, but she got back to her main activity at home - sleep.  Sadie is a perfect, world champion sleeper.  It is a marvel to behold.  She does it well.  

I learned as I watched her reevaluate her situation and figure out a way to do what needed doing. 

Then came the really hard part for me.  After twenty four hours, I had to remove the bandage and put on the awful, cruel lampshade.  Uggghhhhhh.  This implement of misery that I had laughed at when I saw it on other dogs wasn't funny at all when I had to be the one to snap it into place around her neck.  

She was scared to death.  She ran into walls constantly.  She thought she was being threatened from both sides.  She looked hard into my eyes and willed me to explain why I had done what I'd done.   She was miserable.  I was miserable.  

She taught me more, though, when she quickly forgot I did it to her.  She doesn't hold onto bitterness long.  She doesn't keep score.  She went on with her life.  

It was hard and uncomfortable and strange, but she did what she needed to do.  She bumped into every wall she passed for at least three days.  She had trouble eating.  She constantly thought something was after her.  It was hard to watch, but I kept learning.  

Sadie was long past wondering and worrying about why it happened or who did it to her.  She was well into living the life she lives.  She had to work hard, but she made it all work.  All of her usual routines had to be adapted a bit.  She did that.  I learned.  

She is a good teacher.  She keeps on showing.  

We are a week into this thing.  Some call it a 'lampshade.'  Some call it the 'dome of doom.'  And others laugh and call her Queen Elizabeth or Laura Ingalls Wilder.  She's fine with all that.  She doesn't like it, but she has made it work.  She didn't ask for it, but she is dealing with it.  

I know when the dome of doom gets removed.  I know that she only has three more days.  That's not information she is privy to, but she's all right anyway.  She makes it work.  She teaches.  

She does more 'walking the walk' than 'talking the talk.'  She's a great teacher.  I'm sure I miss a lot of lessons out there for the taking, but I'm mighty thankful when I recognize them. 

         Sadie leads on from inside the dome of doom . . . 
teaching us about things that we know but forget to remember.  
I'm thankful.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Wednesday Pop - vol. 8 . . . it's about a bench

It's good to be back with The Wednesday Pop!

I want to tell you about a bench . . . not just any bench, but a bench that sits outside of a house in Atlanta.  It's at a bus stop, actually.  It's a bus stop bench, and it gets used over and over again each day.

The folks who sit on that bench, as they wait for the bus before their long days or after them, have no idea why the bench is there.  They just know that it provides a respite in a sometimes cold world and that it is there for the sitting.

I love the story of the bench.  It tells a grand story of why my Dad is so special.

Before I tell you all about the bench, you must know that I am blessed with an amazing father-in-law, too.  No one is more fortunate than me in the in law department.   My father-in-law, Grandaddy, is (among many other things) a very talented woodworker.  Some time I'll tell you about the fun we have in his barn and about some of the magic he has created with wood.  He's not just genius at wood-working, but he's also generous.  Fine crafted wood pieces, made by him, are all over the place; gifts of him to many family members and friends and friends of friends.  He has made many folks happy with his sweet gifts.

My family is no exception.  They have many times been the recipients of Grandaddy's wooden treasures, and his handiwork graces their porches and backyards.

A few years ago, my Dad (Pop) made a request.  He isn't quick to ask for things, so I took notice.  He asked Grandaddy if he would build a bench that he could put in front of his house at the bus stop.  Of course, Grandaddy obliged and the dark brown bench was constructed.  My interest was piqued.

Dad got the bench and made plans to secure it with cement on the other side of the sidewalk in front of his house.  (I must admit that one of the parts of this story I like best is that he didn't ask if it was okay - so uncharacteristic of him!)  He marched to the street side, armed with his new bench and a bag of Quickcrete and set about attaching the sidewalk and the bench to each other for eternity.  Done.

A zillion souls pass that bench every day, and I imagine that they never wonder about the bench.  Many people sit on the bench each day.  They might be walking along and perch there for a short rest or they might be anxiously waiting for a ride to the next part of their day.  Either way, the bench is part of their day.  The bench is there to help.  The bench is always there, always waiting quietly to hold them up when the way gets hard.

When I see the bench, I marvel at what a perfect symbol it is of my Dad.  It illustrates how he works.  He saw a need.  He figured out a way he could help.  He made it work.  He made sure that the help would be there, always, whenever someone (anyone) needed it.  He quietly went about making a difference without anyone knowing it was done.  That's how he works.

The bench is there, as I write this.  I wonder who sits upon it now.  I wonder what their day is like or what they are worried about or if they have smiled much today.  I don't know any of that.

I do know that the gift of that bench is constant and that it represents the love of two quiet men, who silently go about making their world a better place.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Missing Sweet Jean

Today is the birthday of my amazing mother-in-law.  We haven't been able to hear her infectious laugh or have long talks with her in her den in over four years, but we think about her every day.  I doubt many people are as lucky as I was when it comes to in-laws.  I hit the jackpot, to be sure!

Tim's mom, Jean, (mostly referred to as Nanny in our house) quit suffering right before Christmas in 2008, but there are little pieces of her everywhere.  I couldn't have loved her more if she were my own Mom, and I thank God for allowing us to be family.

I wrote this just after she died, and it seemed a fitting tribute for her birthday.

My Tribute to Nanny

In December the world changed.  We lost our “Nanny”, and everything seems different now.  There is a welcoming smile and a fun laugh and two twinkling eyes that are no longer present here, and so the world is missing something special. 

It is hard for me to believe that I have only known Tim’s mother for eleven years, for it seems that she has been part of my life always.  I remember the day I met her, but I don’t ever remember a time that I did not feel close to her.  Somehow, upon meeting Jean Graham, you knew that you were known, that you were welcomed and that you were loved.  I am forever changed by that knowledge, and I thank God that my children knew that, too. 

While we begin to figure out life without Nanny, I have spent hours and hours remembering my favorite things about her, my funniest recollections, and my favorite memories.  I remember exact moments – like the sound of her voice when we called to say that we were engaged or her entrance into the hospital room when Molly was born, coming out of her heavy sweater, handing over her purse, running to the bed and saying, “Give me that baby!”  But I remember predictable moments, too, that happened again and again.  I know the wide-eyed look, as she peered  over the back of her chair when we entered the back door, and I hear her saying, “Come in the house.”  I remember the look in her eyes and the feel of her hands as she settled herself, and told me just where to put the baby in her lap.  I remember the laugh, again and again, and I remember so many fun times around the table playing whichever game we happened to be playing at the time.  I remember her patience with my children – that she had as much time as needed to wait for them to figure out a card game or to trample dirt through the living room or to take half of the kitchen ware into the yard to make “pies” and “cakes.”  I will forever remember that everyone in town, it seems, called to check in with her daily, and I hope I can always hear in my mind the way she said, “MmmmmHello” as she answered the phone. 

What I will miss most, though, is harder to describe, and I suspect that many others will miss the same. What I will miss most is the unspoken understanding that I shared with her.  It is not easy to explain, but it was very easy to feel.  From the moment we met, I felt that we shared some special secret, some special way of knowing what the other was thinking.  I treasure the talks we shared, the looks we exchanged and the times we could not stop laughing about things that probably were not even that funny.  So often, I had the sense and the assurance that she knew what was going on with me, what I was thinking, what I was wishing.  I treasure the simple moments we shared in the living room – I was always on the couch and she was always in her  chair – and it was always easy. 

So that, I guess, was one of her greatest gifts to us all.  She made things easy.  It was easy to be known by her, it was easy to be loved by her, it was easy to be comforted by her, and it was easy to feel happy with her.  I am forever changed by her and by the love and the life that she and Granddaddy built together.  It has been easy to be their daughter-in-law and one of the great blessings of my life. There will never be a time that I don’t miss Nanny, but I am thankful for all of the pieces of her that I see in my children and for the times that Tim sounds just like her.   And every now and then I smile, hoping that she is laughing in the middle of the best game of “Hand and Foot” ever.  I love you, Nan

Monday, March 25, 2013

What I now know about dealing with 12 and 13 year old girls . . .

Excuse the unplanned hiatus from the blog.  I appreciate your patience.  A stomach flu that slowly and systematically snuck its way through our family and a couple of epic birthday parties got me a bit off track.  Perhaps I'm always a bit off track - thus the blog!

Whatever the case, I'm delighted to be at it again.

We are in a confusing era at our house.  Things don't seem quite as cut and dry as they once did.

When a diaper is dirty, it's relatively obvious.  When someone is crying, you can bet there is a problem. When a baby throws up, it's time to stop feeding.  You get the point.

None of that applies to dealing with preteens, though.  None of that helps at all.  There is nothing - nothing, whatsoever - that is clear in these 'tween years.  There are no rules.  There is no facial expression that alerts a parent to an approaching problem.  There is no omen as to mood shifts.   There are no signals.  There are no rulebooks.  It does not make sense!


The children we once knew have left the building.  I hope they return.  I really liked them!

My short span of 'tween parenting has left me sure of one thing;  it's impossible to believe I acted this way.  Thank goodness I never jumped from one pole to the other in micro-miliseconds.  Whew.

Child-rearing does, indeed, take a village.  I love the village concept and I'm a card carrying believer.  We must help each other through these wilderness years.

And so, my friends, I hope this helps.  I offer you this - what I now know about parenting 'tweens:

The end.

Friday, March 8, 2013

List 42 - Surprises from Nicaragua . . .

This week's list will be a few more memories - surprises - from my trip.  I'll finish up (well, maybe or maybe just for now) my reflections on this awesome week in Nicaragua.  I guess we're never really 'finished' with learning from a dive into a new world.  I believe little pieces, memories, faces, stories, moments stay with us forever - changing us into new people, tiny bits at a time.  That's good stuff.

Nicaragua was definitely 'good stuff.'  I spend a lot of time reminiscing about those I met and what I saw and learned.  I find myself searching for ways that I can assimilate what I learned with the life I'm part of here where I am.  

For now, though, here are a few of the moments that surprised me most:

1.  I was surprised when I arrived at the Youth Ranch in Padre Ramos, Nicaragua, and I took in the beauty.

2.  I was surprised when we spent the day in the dump of Chinandega and I watched the young, living in the depths of poverty,  share what they had with others.  I watched them reach for an orange and then turn and give it to another.  I saw them treat each other with a kindness towards each other that I couldn't believe.

3.  I was surprised by the colors of Nicaragua.  I loved the brightly colored buildings, the spectacular hues of the natural surroundings and the brightness that I saw with every turn.

4.  I was surprised by a night on the beach that I'll never forget, with folks I had only known for a couple of days.  One night, tired from the day, a few of us wandered down to the beach.   We wanted to spend some time looking up at the stars in a place where the lights of progress don't interfere with the darkness.  The sky was spectacular - stars sliding across the arc above us, as we listened to the splashing of the waves.  Our necks tired and we finally decided that we'd just 'get yucky' and lie right down on the sand below.  I'm so glad we did.  The warm sand immediately comforted us and all got very quiet.  After a few minutes, my friends, Terri and Mona, began to sing.  They sang mostly hymns and old time church songs.  It was a moment.  It was a feast for the senses.  After a while, noticing that I wasn't singing, one of them asked me if I knew the songs.  Of course I knew the songs, but I was busy enjoying the gift of the moment.  Their music and all that was happening around me was one of those good surprises that don't come around very often - or maybe they do, but we don't always notice them.  I'm thankful for the surprise of that night, those stars, that warm sand and two friends who sweetly sang.

5.  I was surprised by the feeling I got the many moments that I felt another beside me and looked down to find that a precious little one, who I already knew well or I had not yet met, had moved beside me and quietly reached up to grab my hand as we walked along.  I can often be a fan of personal space; but on this special trip, I was thankful for the many ways that the fine people of Nicaragua are free to hold on whenever they want.

6.  I was surprised at the times that animals - farm animals - roamed casually through a house during a conversation and no one but me thought anything of it!

7.  And, I was surprised when the 'zip line guy' turned me upside down before the second zip.  Whooooooooooooo!!

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