Wednesday, November 28, 2012

30 days of thanks, DAY 28.

tonight i am thankful for the encouragement of friends...

i'm thankful that i'm not a quitter.

i'm thankful that through the years, no matter WHAT has been thrown my way, i have had the tenacity to just keep fighting.

that strength is nothing i can take credit for.  i believe it is a god given gift...something he knew i was going to need from an early age.  i'm so thankful for that.  it truly is a gift that i do not take for granted.

yesterday my boss said something to me that i really wasn't sure how to take...

she said that in her lifetime she's only met a handful of people who have this 'magic' quality of being able to engage people the way that i do.  that if there is anyone who has 'schmooze power' it's me...

i was like, 'um, is that supposed to be a compliment?'  


she insists that it was...and that she's glad that i choose to use my 'power' for good and not evil.


it's truly just an ability to be genuinely interested in other people, to want to make THEIR day better, brighter.  while i don't believe that i have magical powers (LOL), i DO believe that there are incredibly magical powers in a smile :)

and through the years i have CHOSEN to smile.  

in fact, i'm smiling as i type this.

i love life.  i love the people that i meet every day.   some people are only there for a moment (like the little old lady who slapped my hiney yesterday in starbucks LOL)...and some of you have been around for what feels like forever...and have NOT slapped my starbucks or anywhere else LOL.  i'm thankful for that too :)

thanks for traveling this road with me.  thanks for encouraging me, for believing in me, for giving me reasons to smile.

and since this post is sort of 'magical' here's one of my fave random pics i've ever captured...i spotted this truck on laskin road and it was during a time where i thought 'YEP, I COULD DEFINITELY USE A LITTLE 'ELFIN' MAGIC ABOUT NOW.'

and maybe a cookie too :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

30 days of thankfulness. DAYS 26 & 27.

i am thankful for robert redford.  

yep.  that's right.  i mean i am certain there are LOTS of women out there who are thankful for ol' blue eyes...but not necessarily for the same reasons that i am.

in 1969...when i was just a wee lass (shocking, i didn't think i was even BORN yet, right?????? -- shake your head yes in agreement to this if you really, really love me ;)  

anyhow, in 1969 mr. redford purchased land in utah...and a dream began to unravel.  SUNDANCE.

you film people will think movies.  you fashion & design people will think CATALOG.  i sooooo look forward to the arrival of my sundance catalog.  it is filled with ideas...and inspiration...and things that i will never in this lifetime be able to afford.


well, everything except maybe for this one thing.  I THINK HE'S LOST HIS MIND ON THE UDDER HAT.  they SAY it's utterly fabulous.  i think it's UTTERLY ridiculous.  if you have an extra $98 you can have 'WHIMSY, WARMTH, ATTENTION GUARANTEED.'

i don't think i want attention for having a bunch of cow nipples on my head.  REALLY, REDFORD?

look at the model.  i think they got her plastered before they put this hat on her.  in fact, i don't even think she REALIZES what is going on.

BUT ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE, many MANY years ago i saw a  ring in the sundance catalog that i thought was SO NEAT.  it was called a WALKING LIBERTY ring.   they don't call it the same thing any more but still offer something similar.  it is a silver band made from a half dollar coin.  IF YOU PURCHASE IT FROM SUNDANCE, that HALF DOLLAR will cost you ONE HUNDRED TWENTY.  plus shipping.  but who's counting, right?

this spring, i really REALLY wanted to come up with something special for austin for his high school graduation gift.  i wanted it to be an heirloom, with MONUMENTAL meaning.  but it had to be REALLY REALLY REALLY cheap.  lol.  who better than me to tackle that, right?

i found a craftswoman on etsy who was able to do the ring for me for way, way, WAAAAY less.


1.  he's attending liberty university.  enough said.

2.  around the ring it has the words from the coin:  IN GOD WE TRUST.

3.  i searched through the bible and looked at a gazillion different scripture references that would coincide with the years that this coin was made...i ended up purchasing him the 1945 ring.  when he opened it, i told him to look up PSALM 19:45.  guess what????  there IS NO psalm 19:45.  hee hee.  but then i had him turn to psalm 119:45.  check out what it says:  And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.

HOW FREAKING COOOOOOOOL IS THAT?????  he is literally walking at liberty...and walking IN liberty. 

so dear mr. redford, you had no idea when you purchased that land in utah back in '69 that you were going to inspire a gift that would be cherished forever.

THANK YOU.  i was also going to say that i think it's really awesome that you give so much money away through your spaghetti sauce...but i'm pretty sure that's paul newman?  

in any case, you boff have FABULOUS blue eyes that a girl could just get lost in ;)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 days of thanks. DAY 25.

the thankfulness from yesterday has sort of carried itself over into today.

leah spent the night and today jordan & i escorted her all over greater tidewater, capturing her beauty in unique settings.

i am thankful that she trusted us when we told her we wanted her to be a woodlands fairy...and romp around in the leaves in an evening gown...she wasn't sure about this...BUT OMG LOOK AT HER!
we had a blast.  

we laughed a lot.  

we made some memories.  


 we captured 'today' forever.

  i am thankful for the different abilities that each of my children has within them.  the creativity comes out in different forms.  i am thankful for jordan's ability to use that creativity to capture leah so uniquely, so perfectly.
 leah, thank you for sharing your day with us.  you added a sparkle to my day.  love you!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. DAY 24.

if i could come up with a phrase to explain today it would be this:


you see, it started with holding back some tears as i said goodbye to austin.  we had a super great visit but he's headed back to liberty university to finish up his very first semester.    

while the day may have started fighting tears while i embraced austin, it has ended embracing laughter.

with my daughters.

yes.  plural.

and why why WHHHHYYYYYY are daughter and laughter spelled exactly the same except for the first letter but they don't rhyme?  explain this please.  or don't.  i don't really care.  i just think it's weird.  so there you go.

anyhow, my sweet daughter LEAH drove up from north carolina tonight.  she and jordan have all sorts of movies, hot cocoa...with extra skating tomorrow...and a senior picture photo shoot for leah...

they invited me to go shopping with them so we could find some stuff for the session tomorrow.  leah thinks that she and jordan were switched at birth and that she is TRULY my birth daughter.  i'm starting to believe this might be true.  lol.  

 i love these girls.  i love my boys too.

i'm thankful for hellos.  and goodbyes.

  today i am thankful for emotions.  they tell me i am alive.  i'd rather FEEL the ups and downs than to feel nothing at all.


Friday, November 23, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. DAY 23.

i'm thankful that there is NOTHING that i needed or wanted enough to have to brave the BLACK FRIDAY crowds.

i'm also thankful that even though i'm working retail this holiday season, it isn't someplace that was swamped.  hallmark didn't even have extended hours.  overall, it was a productive, yet peaceful, day.

when i returned home, the children were excited to tell me that a package had arrived for me and carson.

and that brings me to day TWENTY THREE.  i am thankful for MISS TERRI.  i'm actually thankful for miss terri every day...but today i have SPECIAL thanks to share with her.

i am humbled and so touched by the kindness and love which this woman bestows on me and on my children.

terri, you have a heart of gold.  i love how you LOVE people.  i love how thoughtful you are.  i love how you are always encouraging, always believing, always cheering on...always.

jordan took a few pics while carson and i opened our birthday presents.  the charms for my bracelet are just PERFECT and have so much meaning!!!!!!  PEACE, LOVE, PINK...and texas and virginia too.  BIG BIG SMILE as i type this.  i LOVE them!!!!!!!!  

 and carson is sooooooooo excited to fly his helicopter!   it even matches his outfit today!!!!

 i adore you.  my family adores you.  i am so thankful to have you in my life.  i am so very glad that our paths crossed so many years ago.  and i will NEVER forget your cross country journey from san francisco to houston to meet us.

i love you.  i am thankful for you.  and i hope that this coming year brings you more joy than you can possibly stand for all the joy that you have given us.

and if you WANT to set up a meeting where i can be in the next picture with blake shelton you know i'd be okay with that, right?  TEAM BLAKE, BABY!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving, DAY 22, TURKEY DAY

truth be told, i have woken up SEVERAL times this morning.  first when carson climbed into bed to snuggle with me at some ungodly hour of the morning.  then again when he was snoring in my ear.  then again when he kicked me in the get the idea.  at one point he was sleeping so peacefully (and i was not) that i actually reached over to grab my phone and took a least ONE of us was sleeping.

but when i actually INTENTIONALLY woke up it was to turn on the macy's day thanksgiving parade.  

my sweet future daughter in law RACHEL is marching in it this morning.  keep your eyes out for the OAK RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND.  have fun rach!!!!  i can only IMAGINE you in new york city.  the big apple will never be the same.  you need to meet my future adopted (daughter) jovan.  the two of you would have so much fun together LOL.

anyhow, minutes into the parade THE SESAME STREET float came through.  BIG BIRD!!!!!!!

and it made me smile.  you see, BIG BIRD has ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS reminded me of my grandmother on my father's side.  and for the longest time i couldn't figure out WHY.  i mean, seriously????

but then at some point the memories came together.  grandma loved to swim.  and she had lots of bathing caps she'd wear.  the one i OBVIOUSLY remember the most was a yellow flower petal one.  and THERE YOU GO.  grandma = big bird.  forever in my mind.

it's a happy memory.  a memory that makes me smile.  my brother says that i sound just like my grandma when we talk on the phone.  that i have the same vocal inflections.  my grandma liked to laugh.  

i am thankful for memories.  thankful for family.  

thankful that today i get to make some NEW memories with my own kids.

happy thanksgiving to all.  have a beautiful, blessed day.

and just because this is what i woke up to:  carson passed out on my HOT PINK pillow.  weird lighting but sweet pic.  love this boy.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. DAYS 19, 20, 21...

with austin being home (yes, i am VERY thankful for that) it has been a busy week.  the kids were still in school up until today...and i'm working full time there just hasn't been a lot of time.  but that doesn't mean there hasn't been a lot of gratitude.

this morning when i was at work a gentleman came in.  i am certain that i will never forget our conversation.

you just NEVER know what a day is going to hold in store.

on april 6, 2012 the residents of virginia beach awoke, getting ready to celebrate a holiday weekend...much like we will be doing tomorrow.  instead of thanksgiving, it was good friday.  another great thing to celebrate, right?

this was the morning that a navy jet crashed into an apartment complex in our community.  the apartments are two miles from where my family lives.  it was a morning spent feeling fearful...children were home from school...the area the jet crashed in is FILLED with apartments and condominiums.  

and yet, MIRACULOUSLY no one was killed.  not even the pilots.  AMAZING.  

i have transferred to a new store up the i had not met mark before even though he is a regular customer.  he shared why he was thankful this THANKSGIVING.   he was one of the residents of that apartment complex.

he shared his quickly the navy cleared the he got to spend easter with an ocean front view...choosing to look at the positives rather than the fact that he had lost his home temporarily.  

it was a scary time.  but it was temporary.  and he's come out the other side of it stronger.  more grateful.  more thankful for each day.

i really really liked him.  UNTIL HE TOLD ME THAT I REMINDED HIM OF SOMEONE.

i waited...wondering who it would be...

and then he said it.  (i'm laughing out loud as i type this).


um, REALLY?  he didn't think i'd know who she was.  BUT, OH I DO.  and i wanted to run...RIGHT THEN...from my job...and go get a haircut.  QUICKLY.

turns out when i got home and googled her, she's not quite as terrible as i remember.  and he REALLY was a nice guy.  so mark, i will take the good from our meeting and let the crystal gayle comparison go.  

thank you for sharing your story with me.  we ALL have so much to be grateful for.

and because i am several days behind there are a few other little things i'm thankful for that i'd like to touch on.  they may be simple...but i can't imagine life without them.

thankful that even in my new work location there is a starbucks close enough to get refills :)

i'm also thankful for apples, oranges, grapes and bananas.  i KNOW that i would not survive giving up my chocolate addiction without them.

on this night before thanksgiving, i wish you all protection from falling jets, coffee to keep you going and a never ending supply of healthy fruit.

happy thanksgiving eve y'all.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. DAY EIGHTEEN.

today was a most fabulous day. 

it was totally grey and dreary outside.  but INSIDE was a whole different story.  

i am thankful we had the opportunity to sleep in...and then to have alllllll of my children...even sweet maya...come hang out in my bedroom while we talked...and laughed...and caught up with each other.

spent the day doing more of the same and then later, my sweet & talented niece anastasia leigh took our family pictures.  

a sneak peek:

then we all hung out...little ones shrieking and playing, big kids chilling, and grown ups cooking and baking.

very thankful to be surrounded by friends and family.  trent & lori, thank you for opening up your home to us...and your backyard as well.  being with y'all feels like 'home.'

glad to share cake and giggles with you and yours.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. DAY SEVENTEEN.

thankful for all sorts of things on this saturday evening.

first and foremost, i am thankful that AUSTIN is home to spend the thanksgiving holiday with us.  much as it was fun to see his 'shaggy' hair after not getting a haircut since august, i am ALSO thankful that he was able to go back to his clean cut ways today while i was at work :)

it is nice to have him here.  and when i got home from the store, it was nice to snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie with him.  please don't ask me how the movie ended.  i have absolutely NO IDEA.  thank you jordan for the lovely photograph :)  your 'creative lighting' is fabulous LOL.

 austin, you have been missed.  i am so SO proud of you.  you have tackled the unfamilarity, you have stepped outside your comfort zone and you are approximately one semester closer to realizing your dreams.  i am thankful for this opportunity for you and i am excited to see what is in store for you in the days, months and years to come.


i mentioned that i worked today.  at one point, i was having a conversation with a lovely woman about snoopy and woodstock.  at a certain point i laughed.  (let's face it, if you've EVER had a conversation with me, it's bound to happen...and yes, yes i do laugh at my own jokes.  cue music:  i'm funny and i know it...)

anyhow, WHEN i laughed she stopped what she was doing and looked at me and said WENDY LEE!!!!!!! FAMILY CHANNEL!!!!!!!!  turns out it was SWEET MOLLY THE INTERN.  from like a GAZILLION YEARS AGO.  

it is hard for me to even FATHOM that she recognized me.  she said the same.  back then i had short blonde hair, i was HUGE AS A HOUSE, pregnant with austin...and i told her that i had recently come across a photograph of the two of us standing in front of arby's.  

look at molly.  check out how TINY she was.  look at me.  CHECK OUT HOW FREAKING ENORMOUS i am.  the sad thing is that i didn't give birth to that baby until the end of january.  and in this pic it's probably AUTUMN?????  

austin, much as i love you and i'm proud of you and all that stuff i said up there a few minutes ago (^^^^^), right now i'm thinking i should make you do something nice for me.  look what you DID to me!!!!!  

molly & i live right around the corner from each other, she has FIVE children...which means she's CRAZIER THAN I AM...and we will be having lunch together soon.  perhaps another arby's photo is in order :)  


one last thing...remember that car accident bobby was in last week?  turns out the driver of the car at fault does NOT have insurance (lovely, huh?).  her insurance had lapsed.  it will NOT affect the repair of our car and bobby picked up the rental car yesterday.  nothing will come out of our pocket, thank God.  

i had not seen the car he got yet.  but when i got home and saw it, it made me smile.  check out the license plates:

so to summarize, i'm thankful for my son, i'm thankful for newfound old friends, i'm thankful for my 923 weirdness and i'm really really REALLY thankful that i don't look like i do in that pic from 1993.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. DAY SIXTEEN.

sweet.  sixteen.  they go together.  forever linked in phraseology (is that a word?  if it's not it TOTALLY should be).

today is day sixteen.  and i'm thankful for my sister.  who happens to have a sweet heart.

and i don't just say that.  i really MEAN it.  from the time jennifer was a little girl, she was already making a difference in the world with her kindness, her ability to look out for others who needed a hand.

i still remember the name of a little boy in her elementary school class (i won't name him here because with the way things happen to me, he'd be likely to find himself on google in my blog...and it would turn out that she didn't really do ENOUGH to save him from a life of crime and i'd end up chopped in pieces because i outted him for being a naughty little boy...and so anyhow...he shall remain nameless...but i GUARANTEE my sister jennifer still remembers who i'm talking

she was such a sweet girl.  and he was SUCH a naughty boy.  but she encouraged him to be kind, to be more obedient, to be more respectful.  and the teacher said she had a calming influence on him.  she was GOOD for him.  

she's also good for me.  and for this world.  she has spent her life doing exactly what she did in that classroom as a very young girl.  she has brought her calm, her love, her kindness to an unsettled world.  the world is a better place because she takes the time to care.

my sister has suffered losses that would turn many into mean, angry people.  not to say that sometimes she's NOT mean and angry (because trust me, i've seen THAT side too...hee hee hee...she DOES have some irish in her LOL)...but the losses, the grief, the pain have driven her even MORESO into her calling...which she simply could NOT walk out if she were mean and angry.

it's been about two years exactly since she and her family walked through a failed adoption.  it was UNDOUBTEDLY the most difficult thanksgiving we have ever experienced.  the memories come flooding back so many memories from that day...just as i sit and type this out.

BUT BUT BUT...i went to bed last night just inspired by her...(by YOU,  JENNIFER). we talked on the phone last night.   she was driving a newborn...brand new, fresh from the hospital newborn a temporary see, while my sister may not have ended up 'saving' the baby she THOUGHT she was going to 'save' she IS having an impact even greater.  she is working for an agency that helps place children in families.  and she is an INVALUABLE part of that team...

when she isn't at work, she's at love and care and encouragement to a teen mom and her twin girls...unconditionally.  wholeheartedly.  compassionately.  

she could have shut her heart down.  she could have closed it off...said NO MORE.  there's too much pain.  but instead she has ridden the wave of pain and is now USING THAT SAME PAIN to change her world.  to change our world.

jennifer lynn, my sweet LADY GENEVIEVE, i am so so so so proud of you.  you inspire me.  thank you for loving me.  thank you for having my back.  for caring about me.  for bringing me perspective.  i adore you and i am so very glad to have you in my life, and so very THANKFUL TO HAVE YOU IN MY WORLD.

you DO make a difference.  and i notice.  thank you for carrying me, sometimes literally, when i couldn't stand on my own.

i love you,

lady gwen

Thursday, November 15, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. day FOURTEEN, day FIFTEEN.

yesterday i went to bed without expressing my gratitude.

it's not that i WASN'T grateful.  it's just that i was REALLY tired.

and so i'm going to retroactively express my thanks for a good night's sleep.  i needed it.  i'm thankful for children who sleep through the night.  i'm thankful for my dog that alerts me if there are any sounds that are out of place.  i'm thankful that my apartment doesn't face the parking lot so i don't have to hear car doors all night long.  i'm thankful that when i went to bed last night i didn't know what today would hold.

which brings me to day FIFTEEN.

i'm thankful for new beginnings.  i'm thankful that my life is an adventure.  i'm thankful that i have been pre-programmed to not only accept, but thrive, on change.

i'm thankful that through the years i have learned to be secure in who i am.

i mean, I'M NOT GONNA LIE...there are days where i definitely struggle...with my looks, or my weight, or my mind, or my parenting skills, or my intelligence...i could go on and on and on and on...

but OVERALL, i am pretty sure of who i am.  it's been years in the making though.  every year that goes by, it seems i discover a little more about me.  and what makes me who i am.   i am thankful that i am SURE ENOUGH of who i am that when OTHERS try to place limits or labels on me that DON'T FIT ME, i'm able to shrug it off, toss it aside.

tonight i KNOW WHO I AM.

and while i'm not sure what the future holds, i AM sure that WHO I AM is someone who has the guts, the grit, the determination to hang in there and see where life takes me.

the world keeps spinning, i keep smiling and somehow i'm going to get to where it is i'm supposed to be.

it appears i am turning the page to a new chapter.  and i'm excited that my story isn't over yet.

i am thankful for THAT.  and believe it or not, much as i DID enjoy sitting by the pool and reading this summer, i'm ACTUALLY thankful for the freezing cold outside too :)  there's always self tanner, right?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. DAY THIRTEEN.

"i make myself rich by making my wants few."
-- henry david thoreau

i love this quote.  tonight i had a few moments of feeling sorry for myself...not gonna lie.  i let myself feel the emotion...missing my house, missing my old life.  but then i took a long hot shower, put on a warm fleece robe, ate a chocolate chip pumpkin muffin and a sweetango apple and talked for a long time with my sister jennifer.

REALLY?  i have no right to allow myself to take the plunge to self pity.

i am SO SO SO SO BLESSED.  i have a warm place to call home...HECK, i have a PLACE to call home, who even cares if it's warm, right?  i have food in the fridge.  blankets to snuggle up in.  a cute cheetah robe. and i have friends and family who love me.  LIFE IS GOOD.

when i am tempted to look at the things i WISH I HAD, there is a story that comes back to me EVERY TIME.  i've shared this through the years but am so glad that tonight i was able to find a few of the photos that actually go along with this story.

back in the fall of 1999, my sweet friend julia was traveling to malawi, africa.  she would be taking clothing donations along with much as she could possibly get into her luggage.

at that point, jordan would have been turning four.  she was just a wee thing.  and THAT GIRL WAS A FASHIONISTA even then.  SHE LOVED HER DRESSES.  would not wear anything BUT dresses.  even though we were living in cleveland, ohio and it was BRUTAL COLD.  she didn't care.

i remember her girly...and i remember explaining to her that miss julia was collecting clothes for the children in africa who needed them.  jordan went through her closet...and so vividly i remember her going to her favorite dress...a little floral smocked laura ashley dress...and telling me she wanted to give it to a little girl in africa.

i sent the dress, along with others, with julia.  again, that was fall of 1999.

in the spring of 2000, i made my first trip to malawi.  the phrase 'life changing' truly doesn't even capture it.  one of the moments that i will NEVER, EVER, EVER forget was when we went to the church 'building' and a woman walked up the path with her daughter.  WEARING JORDAN'S LAURA ASHLEY SMOCKED DRESS.

it was no longer the pristine, freshly pressed dress that once hung in my daughter's closet.  instead it was well worn, with malawi DIRT ground in to it.  and it was more beautiful than ever.

i am thankful for that moment.  because in THESE moments where i start to wish that life were different, i am able to look back, gain perspective, and realize that i have MORE than i need, MORE than i deserve, MORE than i could ever ask for.

I AM THANKFUL.  for the simple things.  i make myself rich by making my wants few.

Monday, November 12, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving. DAY TWELVE.

five years ago today, i blogged about my favorite girl...and her crazy hair.  there's a huuuuuge difference between this young girl in 2007 and this young woman in 2012.

five years later she's still blog worthy, still my favorite girl, and her hair is still crazy.

but that won't stop me from trying to communicate it anyhow.

dearest jordan noel,

do you have ANY clue how much you make me smile?  you are this weird mix of diva girl meets tomboy.  you have a kind heart.  and a WICKED sense of humor.  your room is an absolute MESS.  but your teachers and coaches rave about how disciplined you are?!?

you are one big contradiction.  and i love that about you.  gotta keep people guessing.

you are an awesome friend.  you are loyal to a fault.  your friends know that you are there for them.  you are not a follower...but you're not the bossy leader either.  lol.  you don't overstep your bounds...but you DO push the boundaries a little bit when necessary.  that's not a bad thing.

i love that you have a strong sense of who you are.  and you aren't afraid to be different.  because let's face have some of ME in you don't STAND A CHANCE of being completely normal anyhow.  might as well admit it now.

please don't ever lose your confidence.  don't ever let anyone tell you that you CAN'T do something.  don't ever change who YOU are just to try and please someone else.  because WHO YOU ARE is so wonderful.

you are a blessing to me.  you bring joy to my heart on a daily basis.  and i am so so so so so thankful to the God of this universe for choosing ME to be your mother.

i am one lucky...blessed...privileged...proud momma.

i love you more than iced coffee :)