Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas with Ruby is Where it all Started.......

Ruby Lu
My Holiday started this year with a trip to my sister Deanna's home about an hour and a half away on Dec. 23rd.  I was transporting my Mom who would be spending Christmas with Deanna.....well, really with Ruby Lu, the blessed Great Granddaughter. Sadly, Ruby is the real reason my Mom and I visit Deanna and Ruby's' Mom (my niece) Amanda Ann.  Seeing Deanna and Amanda is a bonus!

So, upon Ruby's arrival to my sister's home, her Mom, my Mom and myself had a little tea party with some specialty cookies I had ordered from a little place along highway one (remember that?) while on vacation. Just a special time for me as I could just look at sweet little Ruby 24~7... We had a quick little dinner Deanna prepared and then.....I wanted Ruby to open the gifts I brought for her. My family has always opened gifts on Christmas Eve, what's one day I ask?  ( I was spending the night but leaving in the morning)

Santa was bringing Ruby a pink kitchen set so I decided it would be fun to buy her play food and staples for her kitchen. I was so excited watching her open them that I failed to catch it on camera, but trust me, she LOVED it.  At one point she sat legs spread pulling all the food toward her and while looking down at the food said, " I can't believe it".  I said, "Ruby do you like it", to which she look up at me and said "yesssss" and it was very convincing! My heart overflows with Ruby.

My Sister Deanna and Ruby
The next morning my sister twisted my arm asked me to stay and watch Ruby open all her other gifts :-)  A quick phone call home and it was on. It was so much fun watching her so full of excitement, the best part of most Christmas', watching the little ones. She really loved this little plastic harmonica my Mom gave her and proceeded to play as if she'd been playing for years....well, she did!

Glad I stayed yet so sad to leave.  I am still not used to all of my family not being together at Christmas, so much has changed since my Dad died...so much.  I headed home listening to Christmas carols and thinking about the dinner and the evening planned with my husband, son's and daughter in law that evening.

 Wanted to share some of my favorite things I have out for the Christmas Season.......
Son Mike made this manger scene in 2nd grade
My Sweet Uncle Ray made these
Rocking horse collection and friends!

Shelf of old Christmas photos
A place to hang Santa's hat

Snow globes

Jingle Bears I've had since my sons were little.

Reindeer my Dad made :-)

Wreath with Santa

Son Mike proudly displays his Ralphie shirt

 Every year family tradition we watch A Christmas Story, we love Ralphie.

Brian, Mike and Katie

The Kids opening a very special gift from their Auntie Deanna.......


                                  CHRISTMAS DAY

Wall hanging son Brian bought me :-)

Christmas morning, Bob makes me breakfast :-)

Tradition was always my Dad for years,  and eventually my Dad and son's made Poppa's french toast for the entire family, as we used to all spend the night at my parents house....yet another change.

Bob Horton watching Horton Hears a Who...

That afternoon we headed to Mike and Kaite's home for some great company and always a great meal.  Katie's parents and siblings, my other son Brian, and Brian and Mike's Dad and step mom Cindie all opened gifts together. Mike and Katie bought us tickets to see Bonnie Raitt in January...the funniest part was this??  I am having back surgery in February and I was shocked when scheduling the surgery when I was told January was booked up??  Turns out they had bought the tickets already so they called the Doctor's office to have them tell me they were booked in January, hence the February date :-)  All enjoyed a nearly perfect day.....but,

                                        IT WAS ABOUT TO GET PERFECT

My daughter in law held up this photo and asked us all who we thought this photo looked like....her or Mike  ?

Baby Due August 1st, 2011  !!!!!!!

 Yes, at last my son has produced a child....angels were singing, I'm sure I heard them.  Tears of joy from the women in the room to say the least.  I was over the moon with happiness....had to start making phone calls immediately, now that was fun!  

So, 2011 is looking to be a very good year.......be prepared to look at a ton of baby photos.  Mike knows how much I love my great niece Ruby and how long I have waited for this news....his words to me after hearing the news...."bye bye Ruby".... 
:-)  Ruby will always be tops with me...well, maybe a hair less than this long awaited baby!   Ruby if your reading this (smile),  Ebby debi will always be crazy about you!

I can't wait for the other grand-kids to meet the newest addition, looks like we will need a new family photo sooner than I thought.

I may or may not have bought some things for the baby today........
This is what Echos from my full heart today......

Monday, December 13, 2010

It Was Suppose to be One Drawer ........

Photo taken by my hubby at Seeley Lake Montana.

Saturday morning after my coffee, I found my way into what used to be my office which has become...well, Santa's storage room and gift wrapping center. I sat down at my desk and opened a drawer to get a  fresh check register and there it was, the black hole!  It didn't start out this way, I wouldn't set up a drawer to look like this... I have this thing for organization....or so I thought. How does this happen before my eyes, I was thinking as I began to take everything out.  I intended to weed out the junk and put what remained back in a picture perfect fashion.

The first file was recipes I have yet to scan onto the computer, the second was decorating ideas, the third flowers/gardening tips.  I found that over time I was just stuffing this, that and the other thing in one of these files knowing I would one day have a day like this Saturday resulted in. Yep, it was the day I would dive into this black hole, that at one time was a drawer, and straighten out the mess.

Among other items, I found approximately seven different sizes, colors, and types of writing tablets.  These need to get used prior to ever buying another, I proudly announced to myself.  I decided to move these tablets into the antique desk in my den where I now keep my Granddaughter's coloring books and crayons.  They always want paper for something so it made sense to keep it all together for them. Of course I had to open the big long drawer to put the paper in the desk.....which led to.... cleaning out another desk!  I proudly tell you, I ended up with, between the two desks, shredding a ton of papers and filling up a tall kitchen trash bag full of "why am I keeping that?" kinda stuff.

This caused me to think back on having to go through and pack up my parents house along with my older sister......both saying to each other at various times, "why would this have been kept?", why so many ____?"  So it began, I purposed to go through the house a drawer at a time if need be and start getting rid of "stuff".  I do not want my children to have to make the choice of, toss, sell, keep and if so, where do we keep it? ... I decided to put all my paperwork in well labeled files, which led to taking a magazine to the living room where the magazine rack is.....which to my surprise (?) I realized I had way to many magazines collecting dust, and ended up going through approximately twenty magazines in order to have "less".... less is indeed more, I'm realizing as I age.

In going through the magazines, I tore out pages of gardening ideas, recipes, decorating, books, movies and craft ideas? Did the word craft just exit my mouth?  I am not, nor have I ever been what I would call crafty......and then it occurred to me, how would I know this?  When I had a daycare out of my home I did crafts with the kids, but really, how difficult is macaroni art? My son's and I made ghosts out of kleenex for Halloween that we then  hung from the ceiling with white thread and thumb tacks, did that count?  Not to boast but I can make several things out of the card board that is left behind when the toilet paper is gone! Then it hit me, wait a minute, in the last year I have put together some rather impressive flower arrangements for my dinning room table....maybe I could be a crafty person and not know it?

  I'm not one to draw attention to myself with an accomplishment or in doing something for another.  I am more comfortable accomplishing and serving quietly, if it gets noticed it wasn't my intention. That said, I do intend to find out if I can indeed be "crafty", and I intend to be optimistic about this venture!  I promise not to expose you to every craft I attempt :-)......that can be as painful as having to politely watch someone else's entire family vacation slide show (done it).... I will likely craft, quietly.... giving you maybe an occasional glimpse of an attempt :-) 

My friend Judy from PA.,  occasionally shares some of her decorating ideas on her blog that I adore!  I love that she shares her creations with us, for what I believe, her sole purpose in doing so is that we too will realize, the smallest things can make a home comfy, a place were we want to spend our time, all the while bringing us some joy in our day to day life...all as a result of her creations. I have learned many things from her, but mostly about how a wise woman lives her life! Many thanks my friend.........

So, my desk(s) are cleaned out, the magazines have been thinned out, who knows what's next as far as my creating less continues.  I have been slowly gathering some items for the redecorating of my guest room, which I am so excited about starting....I even have a couple of Easter craft ideas in mind, me!  I'm looking forward to diving in, unafraid.  One has to get in the water if one wants to swim, right? 

Don't get me wrong......I'm not yet planning to have a craft room, but I am going to give crafting a go. In the meantime I am going to make more space and provide a comfortable place for my guests to lay their heads. Hopefully my guests will be able to imagine they are somewhere other than in my spare bedroom, that's the end result I'm looking for.  :-)

This weekend I've realized many things, but what stands out is, I hope to never again say I can't when I haven't yet really tried! Yet another lesson learned late in life, but learned none the less!  ~ This is what echos from my heart today......

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6th ~

Today is the day of my Father's birth. 

Poppa with all of his Grandchildren

  The only thing my father ever asked of me was to quit smoking.  I figured if I quit on his birthday it would be my gift to him.....and we can't take back a gift we have given. Smart huh? Today is three years and yes I will be counting :-)

I miss him as much today as any day. I am forever grateful God chose him to parent me.Teaching morals, values, and the importance of honesty and work ethic that are forever with me. He loved me unconditionally. I try and live everyday exhibiting behavior and demonstrating love that would make him proud and give him reason to smile.

Looking forward to the day I can run to him and once again  receive some Poppa hugs, there is nothing  like one of his hugs.........this is what echos from my heart today.....and everyday.

Happy Birthday Poppa!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Long Year of Firsts ahead.....

Allan Walker was  a young man who worked for my Father at the Redondo Beach City School District. My Father taught Allen many things in regard to maintaining the schools in our City as well as possibly, some life lessons.  They were partners for many years, sharing the same work vehicle for many of those years, shared many doughnuts at a local bakery first thing every morning.  I know Allan respected my Father and I know my Father thought of Allan as a Son.  That would explain why I always felt Allan was like an older brother to me.  I loved Allan very much, always enjoyed anytime I spent with him and his wife Myra and their daughter Lori.  Allan always made me feel special,  I new I really mattered to him, he made sure of it.  It didn't hurt that he always chose to talk about how great my Dad was, I'm sure it was very difficult for him when my Dad left us.

Allan on the far left, my Dad in the white shirt. Taken at a retirement party Allan and his wife hosted for my Dad.

 Tuesday afternoon I received the call from Lori that her Father Allan had died suddenly of a heart attack on Monday night. He took a breath, slumped over while seat belted in their vehicle and he was gone.  My heart sank.  My mind was racing, he's too young, this can't be, there was no warning, no time to prepare!  My Dad would have had such a horrible time with this news, just as Allan did with the news of my Dad's death.  I told Lori how sorry I was, that if they need any help with anything to let me know. I told her, I knew what she was  feeling, to which she replied a sorrowful and sure, " I know". All the while knowing, nothing I was saying to her was going to change a thing.  They had entered in to that surreal period that lasted for some time for me after the loss of my Dad.....

How can Myra, Lori and  her son Travis know what likely lies ahead. They can't know that the next year will be a blur to them.  They will cry tears for months and months.  After that they will assume they are starting to return to "normal" only to realize "normal" will never be the same.  Holidays will never be the same, in fact, you will have difficulty with any family gathering as they will bring front and center to their thoughts, he's not here, he's really not here......

As they journey through the first year, they will have to experience the pain of every first holiday with out him.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, his birthday, anniversaries and the most difficult for me, Father's Day.  They will survive, in fact these first days will become their days of release. They will be the days to release those tears they were sure they'd run out of.

It will seem an eternity that their hearts will feel heavy and hollow....sure that life will never be the same.  That  would be correct.  Life will never be the same, but it will start again, they will find joy  in their hearts again.  They will, through the years occasionally find themselves saying, " I can't believe he's not here".

Dad's/husbands, likely the strongest of connections other than our children we have. Dad's, bigger than life they are, the center of the family... in my case anyway.  I haven't a clue the experience that Myra is feeling, the loss of her best and closest friend, father to her child and of course her husband.  I can't imagine how that might feel?

 I just want them to know they will get through this.  They will forever miss his presence, their hearts will never quite be the same.  Yet, for him as well as for themselves, they will continue to live their lives because they will realize....it's what he would have wanted them to do.

Live your life, make it count.  You have just been given the greatest heads up ever, life is so short, and can be taken in an instant.  Let those you love know you love them now and often!  Yes, through this most difficult experience you will become so aware of life......and yes, the loss of it.

It's different for everyone I'm sure, God and His Word got me through.  So though its different for each  I believe our hearts feel the same pain, and our eyes cry the same tears.. Allan Walker, I'm so glad you were a part of my family and you will be missed. This is what echos from my heart today.......

As an aside; I wrote this blog Saturday evening, planning to post it on Monday.  This morning, Sunday, Pastor Chico spoke about the many who have lost loved ones this year and of the year of firsts they will experience.  Two things I have to say about that; One, I didn't steal his message :-) and two a reminder that I don't believe  in coincidence,  the topic was obviously meant to by heard by many :-)  So why wait till Monday to post?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Step Ahead ....

How is it possible that I will be basting a turkey in just a week and four days?  Think I will make a point to go and buy all I need this week, less the turkey.  I'm thinking it will be one less thing to worry about in preparing for the day and I like the sound of that, a step ahead.

My thoughts naturally jump ahead to Christmas, which I know is going to be here about the time Thanksgiving dishes are done. This year I am fulfilling a desire I have always had, yet has gone unfulfilled, a picture of my family on our Christmas card!  I really wanted to do so when my sons were little but of course that was never an expense I could have justified.  Well, I ordered them, received them and will be addressing envelopes this week.  Those cards will be in the mail December 1st, yes another step ahead !

I have been purchasing a few small gifts throughout the year, and Saturday I purchased a few books that are gifts as well.  This year is going to be very simple in the gift department, as thoughtful as ever just the same.  This is the first Christmas I have looked forward to since losing my Dad. I am determined that this holiday season my focus will not be about who I don't have (Dad) but of who I do have.  I want to spend the time enjoying my family, making our moments together count.  Of course I will think of Dad, as well as  be mindful of the reason for the season, the birth of our Savior in a more powerful way than ever before.  I have grown so much in my spiritual life, which of course is the reason for my happiness returning in regard to the holiday season. All this because I chose to be a step ahead, I'm ready!

My goal is I will be ready for Christmas decorating on or around Dec. 1st, and, done shopping. Yep, a step ahead. My intention is to have my Christmas music filling the house, while I simply enjoy the decorations, anxiously wait for the mail to be delivered daily (the only time of year that happens).  The excitement of opening Christmas cards from the people I love, a little something that tells me I was thought of.

Planning, the actual making of the decision to purpose to be a step ahead, really does bring me a feeling of calm in this crazy fast paced world.  I've been thinking  a lot the last several months of making sure I am ready in my spiritual life as well.  I am mindful that the more I grow in my walk with God, the easier it will be for me to weather any storm that may come my way.  Whatever the world throws at me, I will be ready, prepared, and with the assurance I will survive no matter the size of the mountain that needs climbing. 

While I am mindful not to attempt to get ahead of God, the idea of being a step ahead in the details of life helps me to feel ready for anything, less the anxiety that comes with not being prepared. Now if I could only get to the gym everyday...a step ahead of next summers bathing suit!  This is what echos from my heart today......

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Sub-Total ~

On Friday  I was asked to attend a get together at my friend Debbie's clubhouse.  Debbie teaches English as a second language at a local Jr. College. Several of her students were there along with eight or so of Debbie's American friends, myself included. Approximately eight tables were set up in a very large circle, with an American seated at each.  The idea was these students would, in 8 min. increments, move clockwise around the room, table to table with a list of questions they wanted to ask us Americans.  They were told in advance that they could ask anything of us. The students were from, China, Japan, Vietnam, Belgium, and Thailand a wonderful mix!
My Friend Debbie and I :-)

Two students at a time would be at my table for eight minutes for a total of nearly an hour, nervously asking me their questions.  The questions asked ranged from, what do you do and do you like it, if not why? Have I ever been to their country and what if anything do I know about their country. A highlight for me was the question, "what was your most embarrassing moment?"  I shared with the two young women at my table that my most embarrassing moment, was without a doubt, in my early 20's while on an airplane. I was using the restroom and imagine my surprise when in walked the Pilot. What could I do but give a smile and a polite wave? Yes, I had failed to lock that door! I love a man in uniform but under different circumstances, never would  I would have imagined it like that.  These two students (China and Japan) were mortified, in fact surprised I could even speak of it! They giggled and told me how life changing that would have been for them. :-)  Further into our 8 minute question and answer period they asked if I have ever been to another country.  I replied, " sadly no because I no longer like to fly".  They started laughing and said,"oh" as they smiled and waved...in reference to my earlier mentioned experience.  Too cute, they felt the incident with the handsome man in uniform was my reason to no longer fly :-)  As if!

The most popular question was how old my children were and do they live at home?  I told them my son's ages and explained though they live near by and no longer at home that I would love them to still be living with Mom :-)  Both a girl, a boy from China and a young man from Vietnam all shared with me that they live at home much longer in their countries, as having the family all together is so important to them. However a young girl from Japan seemed happy to no longer live at home and explained that wasn't as important in her country.  A young man from China said, "you are like my Mom, she loves me so much she wants me living with her at home". "You made me miss my Mom". I smiled feeling bad that he missed her so and asked, "how long have you been gone from home?'   He replied, "three days".  How sweet is that? Poor young man is going to really find out what homesick is as he continues his schooling here in the states.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these students.  At the end of our time we all posed for a group photo,a photo to capture our time spent on this beautiful November day.  As I began to leave I turned and said another good bye.  My young man from China said, "thank you for the Mom thing".   Of course I knew what needed to be done, I replied, "let me just give you a Mom hug", and we did :-)

I went home and in the quite time I purposed to have, started thinking about how most American children can't wait to move out and begin there newest phase of independence.  Though I don't see it as wrong, I am none the less glad my sons stayed a few years past eighteen. I wondered what the rush is for us to be on our own. To become responsible for everything, not just the cleaning our bedroom and taking out the trash, but everything! I suspect it may be different if we knew back then that there will be plenty of years later in life without opportunity to spend together as a family, but, we don't.

I am happy our children are on their own and experiencing much of what we all have experienced on our own.  As a parent it is often difficult to watch them struggle, or to know they are ill and or not be there to save the day :-) On the other hand,  I'm also very much enjoying life with my husband in a totally different form of companionship than when the kids were still here.  It's like getting to know each other in a different way and not having to split our time at home amongst the children on a daily basis....now just amongst the two of us.

I enjoy the quite, and practice while in that quite, listening to God, really listening. I feel the nudge to do or not do something. I sense when I should reach out to another with a need , when I might otherwise have missed that opportunity to do so. Also in that quite time I reflect.  Reflect on where I've been, how I've changed, and most importantly, how through my trials I've learned.

I can at any time (and often do) pull out a photo album and feel that I have not just my family and extended family, but all that have played a part in my life in some way or another, right here with me because of that photo I hold in my hands.  A photo can bring me to a place that I can actually feel what I felt that very day that particular memory was made. A photo can bring my family all together again in the turn of a page.  I suspect, as I glance around, its the reason behind the many, many framed photographs on display in every room of my home. A photo can help me to remember, all those memories that when added up become the sub-total of me, thus far.

I intend to spend more time, being still and knowing He is God.  I suspect in that time I will be reminded of events in my life He has carried me through, occasionally unaware of Him doing so.  I will be reminded of many who have touched my life in powerful ways, most totally unaware of their impact on me. Most importantly I will be reminded that because He is God and He releases my future a moment at a time, there is no need for me to worry about tomorrow. Why worry about a time He hasn't released to me yet....

I'm so thankful for my time with the exchange students. They likely don't realize that this experience with them has made me even more aware of my family and the importance of each moment I have with them in my life.  Moments that add up to the sub-total of me.  This is what echos from my heart today.....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

All in One Spot

I recently received the greatest gift...  Bob and I have been together 14 years and last Thursday was the first time we have had all of our children and grandchildren in the same spot at once!  The four of our children and spouses all have different days off and one, Joseph is in the Army and hasn't been stationed in California.  Joseph, wife Angel and their two children Dominic and Calib came to visit and I was determined we would get a family photo done while we had the chance!  Success at last...

We gathered at a park for photo's and then all headed to Uncle Tony's Italian restaurant for a "family" dinner.  It was fun watching all the different conversations going on as well as an occasional grandchild moving from one end of the table to another.

Our Grandson Gavin,  loves to play Superman as well as his favorite, Bob the Builder. He was sporting a cape (dinner napkin) on this night, and he was Superman but we had to address him as Bob... a combo of the two :-) I watched as our oldest Granddaughter Julia hurt her back going under a table and turned to Grandpa in tears for comfort. Grandpa held her like a baby for a short time and all was well.  She is growing up but still loves to be held like in her younger days. (She'll always be our baby girl) I was thrilled to just glance around the room and note the personality's of each, memories of a long time ago...just being a Grandma that was happy holding one or two of her Grand kids at a time. Answering the precious little questions kids ask or listening to little Dominic talking to me again about what his Halloween Costume was going to be; he will be dressed as a monkey that is dressed as Buzz Light year ???? Yet another combo...  Grins.......I loved just providing Grandma hugs and letting them know how much I love them.

Joseph and family are now back in Kansas (Oz) :-) and we already miss them.  I don't know when we will all have the chance to be together again, but I do hope I don't have to wait another 14 years!
I don't expect any of them to get what it meant to us having them all within hugging distance, or to look down the dinner table and see every child and grandchild, it was heaven!

Heaven, made me think of what's  in store for me when I leave this world...For me, Heaven is where those who in faith, believe God's Word and His promise, that we will spend eternity with Him.  A gift of a lifetime given to all of us, if we will only receive it. All together in one spot forever, and hopefully with everyone I love!

I'm puzzled how quickly many people choose to believe a respected News anchor, teacher, neighbor, friend and even, a President.  Puzzled that many take the words they speak and decide they must be true because they said so. Puzzled we all believe what we learned about in History classes in school... puzzled that these same people choose to not believe the Bible, God's Word.  This book, is a History book, yet its not believed by many? It contains sixty-six different books, 40 plus authors over a 1500 year period, all in perfect unity. All inspired by God, the words of God given through the writers. The Bible is filled with detailed accuracy of days past and of days to come. Proven as true by many who's life purpose was to prove it as otherwise, false.
( Read  "More than a Carpenter" by Josh McDowell.....)

My hope is that people, especially in this troubled world we live, will take a second look at the most important book of your history. Denying the Bible as truth is no different than denying the Holocaust took place....it did!!  I personally would like us all to be together in one spot when this is all over.  I want to look down the table and someday see each of you.  The alternative is not  so comforting a thought for eternity.

If you feel that Christianity is false information and it turns out your wrong, there is no changing your mind when you take your last breath. Not believing and finding out you were wrong, ...That results in a horrible suffering  for eternity not to mention being apart  from some that you love.  It will cost you eternity in heaven as promised in His Word.....   Let's just say you decide to believe it and it turns out not to be true...what have you lost ?

Hoping all those I love will one day be, all in one spot ... forever... this is what echos in my heart today....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Our Children, Our Classroom....

 I recently spent two days in my daughter in law Katie's kindergarten class.  Let me first say, our teachers are under paid and more than that, under appreciated.  Yes, they chose to follow this career path and I have to say, thank God they have!  Who among us can even begin to imagine five days a week with, in this case, twenty three, four and five year olds? I mean today I am dealing with day four of taking care of my Grand Dog Turk while his Dad catches big fish in the Sierras.  I love Turk but I'll tell you, he is very similar to caring for a toddler.  He doesn't eat as often or wear a diaper but it takes one older woman's time and attention just the same...and yes, we baby him.

In Mrs. Stevens class (Katie), add to that moment of imagining, that most of these kids have never been to preschool and therefore never away from home until that first day of school.  Factor in that, many parents do not speak English in the home and those that do, its minimal.  Three of these kindergartners do not speak any English....really? Really.  The question I posed to my Katie, " they are at such a disadvantage how are they expected to succeed ? "  Basically she can only hope parents will themselves attempt to learn some English in order to help their child.  With twenty three children she can't possibly give these three constant one on one time that is needed for them.  By the way, parents are welcome to come to class and learn along with their child, the language that will help them succeed.
A few of my new little peeps :-)

I spent most of my time with one little boy that understood no English.  No English to the point that  for a time I thought he may have some serious hearing loss.  When Katie was teaching it was clear he wasn't "present" in the learning.  When she spoke any Spanish at all, this little boys head turned instantly to his teachers voice.  Though Katie's knows quite a bit of Spanish, she can not nor should not have to speak Spanish to a majority English speaking class.   My heart broke for my little friend who failed to hear his teachers direction, I wished I could be there daily to assistant him.

At the end of day one (4 hours for me) I was exhausted!  On day two, a teacher and the Principle separately said when they passed me in the hall, "you came back".   Don't get me wrong, as a volunteer I loved being with all these kids and watching my Katie do a great job with them.  They made me smile many times and even laugh when I shouldn't have :-)  On my last day of that week, several said good bye as they walked out in a straight line with a finger to their lips as a reminder to walk quietly through the halls.  " See you tomorrow Mrs. Horton",  to me telling them " I won't be back tomorrow but will visit again soon.  The expression told me they would miss me....maybe I wanted to see that...but I trust I did.

Loved this little wall Katie created...

Though I hope to help Katie as much as I can this school year, it made me wonder, why don't more parents help out, volunteer? Fact is most of these parents likely have more children at home and then there are those that work outside the home.  So, what about people such as myself ?  Why aren't they volunteering?  My guess, they, much like me haven't a clue of how great the need is.  My hope is that one or two of you who have the time will seriously consider volunteering at a school near you!  Though the line is used rather loosely in my opinion,  its quite serious......these children are our future. Yours, mine and those we leave behind!

Though we aren't responsible for the fact these particular children don't speak English, they and all the others in these classrooms deserve a bright future just like the ones we wished for our own children.  This blog is not at all about who speaks what language, it is about that fact these kids deserve to succeed  regardless and its about the blessed teachers who spend every day with them. It's about the fact they go un-noticed and under appreciated by most of us even if it is due to just being unaware.

I am willing to share some self portraits these little ones drew with you.  I found it odd, that though they are priceless and totally cute, almost all of them drew their mouths just under their eyes.....they may be unaware but  I'm going with the fact that what a child see's and hears,  is very close to what comes out their mouths and how they live their lives .....hmmmm.....

I fell in love with twenty three cute little faces that want to be excited about learning, once over the separation from Mommy subsides :-)

This morning I thought about how we play the role of teacher when we become a parent.  From day one we begin to teach our children the rules of the classroom, that is really what every home is, a classroom for life.  They look into our eyes with an excitement about learning from someone who loves them, " how big " ...... " this big " :-)

This morning I was looking back on my job as Mom to my boys Mike and Brian.  The early days, gone but not forgotten.  Always wanted to be a Mom, couldn't wait to be a Mom.  Didn't do it all right, but that's where God's grace comes in.  I do know they were and are my heart and I hope they live their lives based on the good and right things I taught them, the example of how I treated others, the fact that the designer label doesn't define who you are.

They had to have learned  a home can be full of love and security for them even if  you don't have money for all that " everyone" else had.  I know they learned that just because everyone else's Mom lets them watch " it " on television, their Mom was more concerned with the message it delivered than being popular in any other persons eyes. That I was given them to teach the ways of the classroom not to be there friends.  Plenty of time for that when they reach adulthood.

I'm painfully aware of parents that have tried to be a friend to their child rather than their parent.  In those classrooms its acceptable to use bad language, dress without modesty as a factor, be alone in a house with a boy or girlfriend, watch movies that are not appropriate, miss school when they aren't sick, quit at something because its hard, talk disrespectfully to another human being, teach its acceptable to lie on a whim, that its not required to be accountable or deal with a consequence for a bad choice.  They want to be the "cool" parent to their child and their friends, rather than one who takes a stand  and does so at the cost of being unpopular in their own child's eyes for a time for the simple fact that they love them.

It's most important to me that how my son's live their lives and treat others, is a reflection of what they learned in my classroom, with me as their teacher.  That all things are possible with God and that forgiveness is not an option, its theirs and mine for the asking.  With that gift of forgiveness is the fact that God cannot forgive us if they aren't willing to forgive another.

So teachers are extremely important people both in the school classroom as well as  in our  homes.  I hope that some of you will give the greatest gift you can to a teacher near you, volunteer a few hours of your week.  Praying for those parents and their children who choose to be the friend of their child rather than accepting the most important assignment of their teaching career, preparing them for the classroom of life.

This is what echos from my heart today.....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Forever Happiness ...

While cleaning out cupboards yesterday I discovered a small off white, silk mesh bag about 5" wide and six" long.  My friends Tami and Scott sent me a beautiful glass bowl with a wide rim for my 50th birthday.  Along the edge are the words, faith, hope and love.  Inside the bowl set the little silk bag filled with the little cards that read along the top edge, "Wishing You".  The idea was that at my birthday celebration my guests could leave birthday wishes for me!

I took a break from my cupboard purging to read through the thoughtful words of my friends and family.  The second to the last card I read, I recognized his printing, was that of my sweet, wonderful Dad.  His wish for me read, "I wish you forever happiness.  Pop ".  When I read it after the party I remembered thinking how  sweet it was.  When I read it yesterday, all I could think was, "what my Dad wanted for me, was for me to be forever happy "! This card I once thought sweet , today is a treasure, a gift of words from my Dad, his words written, by his hand.  I framed it and put it in a place where I can be reminded everyday of what he wanted for me.

As a Christian, my Father God's will for me is to be joyful.  Ideally as a Christian, an attitude of joy should, be my natural state!  I've learned that there is a big difference between being happy and being joyful.  Happiness tends to be dependent on my current circumstance, my latest reason to wine if you will.  Joy, on the other hand comes from within me and has nothing to do with my current circumstance.

I think most of us are in agreement its easy to be happy when all is going well in our lives, but how can we possibly be joyful when its not?  My big lesson in being joyful ironically came from an evening in the hospital with my Dad when we had almost lost him quite unexpectedly.  I prayed so hard for God to not take him this way, not suddenly! I spoke to God and said "We'll take it as a heads up that you want him God, and I know that You are preparing us, as well as allowing us a few more days with him".  When he made it, when God heard my prayer, my literal crying out to not take him....that is when I first experienced true from the heart joy.  Joy from God in a time I wasn't experiencing happiness.

During those days of heartbreak during and following his death, I was so joyful that God gave us those extra days and provided me the strength to get through them.  The testing of my faith in that hospital was producing spiritual growth in me.  After that  "growth spurt", I became more confident than ever that God hears my prayers and that I will endure any heartbreak that comes my way, because He will carry me through it.

Looking back on my life, that had many trials, many self induced, I now see that those very trials were challenging my faith, a faith that needed to grow and mature.  It took me a long time to get here and I'm so grateful that I at last I learned about joyfulness.

I chose to be joyful at a time of very little happiness and in that I experienced a change on my inside circumstances.  My free time was now focused on learning more of what God has for me to learn.  I don't want to miss any of what He wants for me.

So yesterday when reading my Dad's note I was reminded that both my earthly Father as well as my heavenly Father want the same for me....forever happiness which comes from the joy I am now filled with.

" These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full".
                                                                                                                                            John 15:11

Joy is available to all of us that are willing to humble ourselves and turn to God.
This is what echos from my heart today.....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Time Such as This.....

Last Thursday my Son  brought my Mom over for a family dinner...It became evident by the end of the evening she was suffering and in a lot of pain caused by her sciatic nerve which is creating problems in her leg, hip and back.  She stayed with us that night and has been here since.  It was clear she was having enough difficulty getting around that she shouldn't be alone.

I'm at a place in life where I'm fully aware that, life is short. It's been two years without my Dad and it hasn't gotten any easier.  I want to make the best of this time my Mom is with me.  I want it to not only be the best for me so that I can always have these moments, but, I want it to be the best for her.  Even in the midst of the pain she is currently suffering, I want her to see that she can experience joy in the midst of it all. I want her to be proud of how I care for her, I want her to feel loved and not alone.

I try and put myself in her situation at this time.  I'm sure while suffering she misses my Dad more.  I'm sure while having difficulty doing the simplest things she is reminded she is alone in her home.  She has experienced so many changes since losing my Dad.  Not only losing her husband, she has had to leave the home they shared all those years, a home full of memories.  I think she is able to see now the memories are with you regardless of your zip code.  Yes she misses her friends, yet at the same time she has made many in her new place.

She has lost her travel partner, driver, friend and husband.  She has had to watch the family her and my Dad created go through some painful changes since he is no longer with us.  It has been tough for all of us, but we as her their children are or should be doing everything to ensure her heart is at it's happiest.  If there is a single thing that can ensure that happiness, I pray it be done by each of us, their children.

Relationships can be difficult, I'm by no means suggesting this time is easy. Situations such as this require changes to be made in one's schedule,  patience will need to be ever present, adjustments will need to be made here and there.  Very glad I have my son's and daughter in-law near by to help out in any way and a husband who is more than willing to keep my Mom safe and cared for.

My hearts desire is to fulfill the promise Bob and I made to my Dad, which is to make sure Mom is always taken care of.  My hearts desire, my prayer is that I asses the heart in this situation, that it all be done in love. It's so important to me that my Dad is proud of how his family is handling life without him, that we are caring for my Mom as promised. For him to look down and see nothing that would sadden or disappoint.

My prayer is for this time to be as stress free as possible, to make each and every moment count, in a time such as this.  This is what echos from my heart today......

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wrapping Up the 2010 Road Trip....

I slacked off on blogging towards the end of our trip.  I chose instead to spend every waking moment enjoying my time with our great friends Scott and Tammy, knowing those moments would be mentally recorded for a future "story".

Tammy and I spent a couple days shopping (she is a bad influence...this was determined as fact).  We shared so many laughs and along the way realized more than ever how much alike we are.  The fact that possibly having to ship home some of my purchases just about came to be, however the memories made were greater than the sardine packed vehicle when we left!

To wrap up our time with them we all took a trip about three hours up the road to Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Are you ready....we went through the Eisenhower Tunnel at last!

Scott had earned points for his Marriott stays and graciously shared them with us.  They shared with us at dinner that they would be staying Saturday night as well and that they also got us a room for Sunday night!  The 6 week old Marriott was really beautiful and our room was on the third floor with an awesome view.

Once checked in to our rooms we headed to downtown Glenwood Springs for, well a little more shopping.  If I bought really small items they could be squeezed in to a gap here and there. As we entered town I spotted a "Saloon" called Doc Holliday's Tavern.

I knew I had to get some photos of the signage out front and I knew we would have to check out this establishment.  My youngest sister Donna's husband Ralph Holiday was often called Doc Holiday by many.  I loved my brother in law so much as a person and the fact he made my sister so happy.  I was blessed to have known him as he was one of a kind.  I was with him along with my sister and a few other family members when he took his last breath.  I wanted to share this with my sister....and somehow taking note of it and yep, having a few beers inside in honor of my friend  Doc (Ralph) felt right!

We spent a couple hours there laughing and talking about our time thus far spent together. Bob and I bought T-shirts.....for proof we were really there..... We eventually headed back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner.  Dinner was at the very popular Juicy Lucy's, a steak house.  The meal was incredibly good, the wine was perfect and the company excellent!

We left Juicy Lucy's feeling full and happy.....we might as well see what Doc Holliday's Tavern looks like at night right?

We found a booth and continued the evening totally enjoying ourselves until late into the night, back in our cab for the ride back to our Marriott.

The next morning we all awoke wondering how we ever stayed up so late all those years ago?  We were used to 10:00 bedtimes....four exhausted adults managed to make it out to breakfast.  It was our last couple of hours with Tami and Scott.  Again with the laughs and talk of getting together real soon.
We said our good byes which are not easy with these two people that we love so much.....we so miss being neighbors!

Bob and I now a twosome for the first time in almost a month headed to the spa.  First stop was down to the vapor caves, and I do mean caves.  Dark and hot, a natural giant sauna...my stay down there in the dark was approximately 15 minutes, that maybe an exaggeration, but it felt like longer!

From there we had a 30 minute private mineral bath complete with candle light and music. At our 30 minute limit we were led to our 80 minute full body massage(s).  Needless to say, I found myself falling asleep several times...when I inquired I was advised this was fairly typical.  Couldn't have had anything to do with our previous nights late bedtime......

From our massage we parted ways.  Bob returned down to the vapor caves, I up two flights of stairs to my very first facial.  Nothing quite like it, I could get used to this!  Again a few times startled myself awake, again told it was fairly normal....  :-) I'm going with that..

We left the spa feeling great.....but knew it was going to be an early night.  In the morning we would continue our drive to St. George Utah.  When in St. George we stay at La Quinta Inn and Suites...very nice rooms indeed.  We had a pizza delivered and called it a night.

Excited to know as we left St. George the following morning, we were close to home.  We planned on stopping by our daughter Jackie's to spend some much needed time with her and her husband and the grandkids!!!
We brought little souvenirs for each (the shopping wasn't all for me)...and took some photos.

For Gavin we brought, brown bear slippers from West Yellowstone.  These aren't just your average bear slipper.  A little push of a tab on the slipper and you hear the sound of a BIG brown bear!

Our little Aubrie now sports some frog slippers, and yes, they too have a tab to push which allows ribiting (sp) to be heard as she hops around the house :-)

Our big girl Julia we brought a little silver necklace with a heart attached.  I saw this little heart necklace and thought...she was the first Grandchild and she indeed caused my heart to overflow at first sight.
It seemed just right at the time....then I had brief concern she may be disappointed that she too didn't receive some little slippers that made a noise.

When she opened the jewelry box and saw her necklace, her eyes lit up, opened wide and said "Oh, Grandma I love it!" Uggh....there went my heart again....she is indeed growing up.....

So, four hours later we said our good byes to our much loved CA Grandchildren;

One little brown bear........

One happy little frog giggling as she hopped right by us........

One grown up little girl.... sporting her grown up necklace, doing her homework without being asked :-)

It doesn't get any better than this when it comes to ending a month long road trip.

Dorthy said it best, "There's no place like home"........

Love those ruby slippers!

Special thanks to my driver, traveling companion, husband and best friend Bob....I love you to bits!