Sunday, November 29, 2009

Almost Heaven...

Our Angel Family enjoyed the Thanksgiving weekend in Lake Arrowhead. For more than the past decade, we have spent every Thanksgiving up here exactly a few thousand feet closer to heaven. Sometimes we come up alone and sometimes, we come up with our dearest friends. Either way, wonderful memories are made.

For only the second time that I can remember, our beautiful mountains received their first covering of pristine, white snow while we were up here celebrating the holiday. And although our cabin was cozy and warm, we all decided to venture out in the snow! Our Four Angel Daughters, Angel Daughter Number Two's handsome new boyfriend, Mark and I, all bundled up to go shopping at the lake. Unfortunately for the stores in town, the surprise storm caused the Black Friday crowds to stay away. But for us, it was like having the town almost to ourselves. We had a lovely day!

I will post more photos when I get back down the mountain. Although everyone else drove home this morning to prepare for school and work, my old dog, Becca, and I decided to spend one more night admiring the moonlight reflecting off of the snow.

To all of my dear American readers, I hope that the wings of your hearts are still buoyant with the gratitude of some time well-spent. And to my lovely Australian, Canadian, Swedish and other worldwide readers, may your spirits be brightened by the approach of the coming holidays!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

86,400 Seconds

From sunup to sundown, each day graces us with exactly 1440 minutes. 86,400 seconds. 24 hours. How many of these minutes, how many of these hours, how many of these precious, precious seconds do we spend remising about what is not? Gratitude is the anecdote for regret, remorse, and affliction. If we utter not another prayer during our seemingly busy days, a prayer of thanks would be enough. It would be enough...

On this day of gratitude, I must express that in spite of what is wrong with this world, there is so much that is right. If you would take a moment to leave me a comment about what is right in YOUR world, I would be ever so thankful. Happy, happy Thanksgiving.

*For a special post about gratitude, please stop by Laura's blog. She requested that people send her a few sentences about what they are grateful for and will be posting the responses on Thanksgiving Day. The results should be amazing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Favorite Children and A Mother's Prerogative

I must admit something. I have a favorite child. I do. Those of you who know me, are probably shaking your heads right now thinking that I am half-crazy for admitting this.(Put down the phone, Dad.) But it is true, and I do. Twenty-two and a half years ago, God began blessing me with daughter, after daughter, after daughter, with yet another daughter! And no, to answer your question, we were not trying for a boy, we are not Catholic or Mormon, and we do know what causes that. Once we had our oldest Angel Daughter, I dreamed of having another one so that she would have a sister. After Angel Daughter Number Two was born and I became pregnant yet again, I figured I was on a roll so why stop now. And by the time Angel Daughter Number Three bounced happily into this world and we were blessed with our one and only surprise baby, AD4, I truly wanted another little girl. I decided that at that point, I would not even have known what to do with a boy! So, with four Angel Daughters, it is hard not to have a favorite.

But herein lies the truth. At any given moment, and it can change as frequently as the hormones do in our mostly girly family, my favorite child changes. Another Mother once told me that her Mother once told her that the favorite child is the one who needs you the most at that time. Interesting perspective, but somewhat different from mine. For me, it is the one who breezes through the door to ask me if it is okay to wear a certain shirt for a job interview. It is the one who calls me to excitedly describe her day. It is the one who hugs me so hard that it ends up taking my breath away. It is the one who makes me laugh so hard that I do lose my breath. It is the one who walks into my room eating an after-school snack looking like a little forest pixie. Ask me which one is my favorite, and I just might tell you. Ask me again in ten minutes and I can guarantee that the answer will change. That is a Mother's prerogative.
I took these pictures of Angel Daughter Number Three a couple of weeks ago. We were browsing around the little shops in Laguna Beach, when I had a "favorite child" moment. At seventeen years old, AD3 is going through some changes that all adolescent girls go through at one time or another. She can be very tentative, private and quiet. It is a stage in a Mother's life which is sometimes difficult to navigate. I am watching my adorable little girl transform into a woman, right before my eyes.
But then there are moments like this. Moments in which the silly little girl melds with the blossoming young woman and my heart is overtaken with awe.
Moments when I can still see who she once was, while reveling in who she is now. Moments when I can enjoy all of the parts of the same. The very same.

I don't think that I have introduced you to Jacob yet. Jacob is Angel Daughter Three's boyfriend. He is studying to be a Firefighter while working hard and attending college. I like that AD3 can be more of who she is when she is with Jacob. I like that he is not afraid to be goofy! I like it when my girls are content.

As my family moves forward into yet another uncharted phase of life, I must admit that I will always have a favorite. Each one of my Angel Daughters is my favorite child at one moment or another. I am sure that each one of them has a favorite parent or sister from moment to moment, as well. But the truth, my truth, is that it takes four parts to make a whole. And for me, it takes four daughters to make a favorite.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And Yet Another Reason Why I Adore Blogging

Today, my spirit is singing a song of gratitude. In a world where so much can seem wrong, I am choosing to dwell on what is right. In a world where pain can so easily become the focus, I am choosing to feel a peaceful acceptance. And in a world where there are individuals who can treat others with such selfish, horrific disrespect, I am choosing to surround myself with those whose souls are healing and gentle. This is not to say that there are not days when I am overcome with sadness. There are. This is not to say that I am not a realist who knows how life can batter and bruise the human psyche. I do. But I also understand that no matter how hard things become, they can always get worse. Or better. And today, in this moment, I am choosing to believe in better.

This past weekend, Mark took me away to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. These photos were taken in Santa Cruz and Carmel, CA. Two of the most beautiful places on earth. I will share more photos from the trip, soon, but for now I just wish to say thank you.
Thank you to all of my wonderful blogging friends. Welcome to my new ones! There is so much generosity of spirit in the blogging world. I am so grateful to have discovered a sense of community in a place that can seem so impersonal.
Thank you to my wonderful husband for taking me up into the clouds and then grounding me safely back on the earth, once again. EGBOK, my love.

Thank you to my beautiful Angel Daughters for keeping the nest well-feathered while we were gone. I am so very proud of each one of you. If I accomplish nothing else in this lifetime, being your Mother and being Daddy's wife will have deemed me a very successful woman.
When we arrived home from our trip, I spent a little time catching up on all of the daily stuff that builds up when you go away. Much to my delight, there was a package waiting for me when I went through the mail from Kathleen Botsford. Kathy is a very special blogger who also creates the most beautiful jewelry. I am humbled to say that she made this necklace just for me. She used African Turquoise and Swarovski crystals. It is beautiful, isn't it? Kathy's wonderful blog is about life, family and her own personal journey which she expresses through the most heartfelt words and spiritual artworks. Kathleen is a very honest, loving, and empathetic angel who always seems to know just what to say. If you haven't already had the pleasure of perusing her website, stop over there and say hello.
Kathy is truly somebody worth knowing. Thank you, sweet friend, for the gorgeous necklace and the beautiful postcards. I will cherish them, always, as I do you.

I also want to say thank you to two other fabulous bloggers. The first one is to a wonderful doctor who writes a blog which I have listed under my favorites. The site is How to Cope With Pain. It is extremely well-written and informative. This doctor, who chooses not to focus on her own identity because she is still in practice, is a compassionate, understanding and knowledgeable individual. I am very honored to say that one of my posts about spirituality and illness was featured on one of How to Cope With Pain's most recent blog-carnivals. If you ever need any information on dealing with pain(and who doesn't!), head over there and check out this blog. It is one of the best ones out there when it comes to learning more about pain.

I also would like to extend my gratitude to Laura from Shine the Divine. Laura has been on my blog roll for quite some time because I have always been able to find inspiration in her words and artwork. Recently, I discovered that Laura has been living with Multiple Sclerosis. She is in the midst of a terrible flare and will soon be starting a treatment regimen which will hopefully offer her renewed energy and spirit.(God willing.) Laura published one of her daughter's bittersweet poems, as well as some lovely photographs taken by her other daughter. She mentioned that she was inspired to share her beautiful daughters because of what she read here on my site. If you are in need of some inspiration, pop over to Laura's site. She has such an encouraging view on life. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your own Angel Daughters, as well as their blossoming creativity!

And to all of my other friends and faithful readers. You matter to me. I began writing as a way to work through my own thoughts, but one of the reasons that I continue writing is because of your support and encouragement.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From Fondant to Fangs

My oldest Angel has taken to baking interesting and intricate cakes which require working with something called fondant. Fondant. Just the word sounds messy and complicated!
So when she showed up on Halloween morning with her boyfriend, The Cheesemiester(a nickname gained after a Pizza-Hut commercial that he starred in) and her best friend from middle school, to create a masterpiece, I knew it would be amusing. They baked a blood-red cake. They created the fondant and used black food coloring to achieve the dark, black as night color. They pounded and kneaded for thirty to forty minutes each, coating their hands in Crisco so that the black food coloring would not stain their skin. The Cheesemiester definitely enjoyed this activity the most!(Boys!) And when everything was finished, they carefully rolled out the fondant(Can you tell I like using that word?) into a thin layer. They then placed it gingerly over the top of the cake and cut around the edges so that it would fit perfectly. The entire project took several hours...
which is probably why there were exuberant high-fives going on when the cake was finally completed!(That and the exorbitant amount of powdered sugar, marshmallow and frosting they ingested.)
Lots of pictures were taken.
Muscles were displayed with pride.
Until AD1 sensed what was going on behind her head,
and she turned around to take a bite out of her boyfriend's finger!
The finished product was a cake for a birthday/Halloween party with a Vampire theme. HBO has been running a series called True Blood for the past year and a half which features, you guessed it, Vampires.(and Werewolves!) I watched it first season, but have yet to catch up on the second one. It is pretty scary!
My oldest Angel Daughter who has the most vivid imagination, LOVES SCARY! My sweet, never hurt a fly, spiritual, beautiful Angel Daughter LOVES SCARY!!!
Which is why she transformed herself from this...
INTO THIS...(Sorry, Micah!)
for Halloween!(No animals were actually harmed during the photographing of this Vampire!)
Mark is so proud of his little Vampire!(No Daddies were harmed, either.)
And since AD1 would never consider harming another living thing, she brought her own supply of Tru Blood to the party. Tru Blood is a synthetically prepared drink created specifically for Vampires who choose to live(or un-live), as vegetarians.(It's actually orange soda, but don't tell anyone.)
From fondant to fangs. Sometimes we need to challenge ourselves by taking the things that scare us the most and facing them head on!

Happy November, dear hearts!
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