Monday, December 25, 2006

It's Christmas.

It's quiet in this house. I'm the only one awake and I love having the time to myself, to reflect. I look out on the streets of Madison and there's barely a car or a soul stirring. But I'm sure all over the city there are houses full of people, and especially children - that are missing it.

Oh, they're ripping open presents, sipping their "Christmas Blend" coffee, listening to carols on the CD player provide the background music to the pandemonium that's going on. There are parents releasing great sighs of relief that "it's" over. Those last-minute presents they didn't have time to get won't be gotten. No more pushing your way through crazed crowds with glazed-over eyes or circling the mall thirteen times trying to find a parking space. It's over. No more wrapping, running, spending, decorating, mailing, baking. It's over. But they missed it.

It's all so distracting, but we get sucked into it anyway. Even those of us that want to remember. We still unload boxes and boxes of decorations from the attic before the turkey carcass has had a chance to become soup. We shop for electrified fake trees (some of still go cut them down), we untangle yards and yards of hopelessly entangled lights, we risk our lives on ladders some of us shouldn't even be thinking about setting a foot on. We fill every nook and cranny with greenery, fake snow and every trinket that is somehow supposed to represent Christmas. We spend days doing this (well, moms do, anyway).

And we shop. And shop and shop. Money, budgets - bah humbug. C'mon, it's Christmas. We have to go hog wild and get people we love all the "stuff" they want. And how about the people we don't love? We get sucked into buying presents for someone because we know they will get one for us and we can't stand the guilt of not having something for them. Token, meaningless gifts.

How many of us even remember the gifts we recieve a month afterwards? We'll remember when the credit card bill arrives. We'll be reminded of it when we try to find homes for our new acquisitions amongst all the other "stuff" that already occupies places in our living rooms, closets, dens, etc. But soon it will all get absorbed into our material wealth like everything else and - we still will have missed Christmas.

I shut my eyes this quiet morning and remember a story, a beautiful story. A true story. There's a baby. There are loving parents - three of them. There is music. Angelic, joyful, awe-inspiring music. There is a gathering. People have come to see and to worship. There is family. There are gifts. Gifts that weren't purchased. Gifts that are given from the heart. This baby is a gift. This baby has brought us a relationship with His real Father. He's brought us freedom from being a slave to sin. He's brought us eternal life. He brought us a purpose for our lives.

Oh, yes, THIS is Christmas. Remembering that child. That gift. That love that God has for us.

Gifts aren't a bad thing. Music isn't bad. Family gatherings aren't bad. These can be beautiful when they are a reflection of our love and given freely with no strings attached. And when the motivation for them is a simple expression of giving of ourselves.

The decorations? I don't know. We have to stop and ask ourselves, "how is this helping me to focus on the baby, the story, the love? What am I doing all this for? WHO am I doing all this for?" If it's just causing a lot of stress, guilt, feelings of competition, exhaustion, etc., maybe we should re-think all we do... Do less, keep it more simple, more purpose-full.

I pray that today, we can get away from all that distracts us from what Christmas really is supposed to be about. I pray that we can find some quiet moments to thank God for this amazing gift He has given us. I pray that, in the true spirit of Christmas, we can look other-ward, rather than self-ward, that we can give from our hearts. Whether we give a gift, or time or service, or kind words, let us give it from our hearts. And that we can also receive, gratefully and with awe, this gift of life, freedom and eternity God has given us in His little Son. It is the only gift that really matters today - and EVERY day. I wonder where I would be without it. I pray that you will take time today to receive it, be thankful for it, recognize the Giver and enjoy it.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve
is here.

I'm in Madison, WI at my mom's new digs. Nope, no snow here either BUT, there's a bit of a chance for tomorrow - a flake or two could possibly be flying around out there.

I got to have a nice visit with my brother, John yesterday along with my s-i-l Kathy, neice Kelly and nephew Bryan. SO great to see them all. And I hadn't seen the long lost Bryan for quite a few years, so that was really great. He has plans for the future and seems to be doing great. I'm so glad he wanted to come. Of course, I got some photos, but not able to post them yet - didn't bring my camera cable, etc.

I also got to talk to both of my other sibs yesterday. I'll see Barb on Tuesday - can't wait for that.

Mom seems to be recovering well from a nasty fall she took about three weeks ago - went face/head first over her walker in a hotel bathroom and kissed the floor. Only broke a bone on the side of her hand, cut her lip (and required stitches) and bruised her face and ribs. The ribs are still quite sore, but the bruising isn't noticeable anymore. She still needs lots of help, though. Her "girls" have been staying 24/7, but, since I'm here, I opted to go solo in the nursing department. Mom's doing really well at night, so I'm able to sleep fine - in fact was up first this a.m. (hence, the free time to blog). Well, okay, that's because the basket fell off mom's walker and she got hung up on it (i.e. "stuck") and yelled for me (which I strongly encouraged). That was at 6:30 a.m., so when I was still awake (back in bed) at 7 a.m., I surrendered and got up and got a shower and hurried to the quietness of the computer.

The sun should shine today - haven't seen it for a while. We have a brunch here in the dining room around noon and that's it for the big plans. I think we'll watch "A Christmas Story" on TV, as it's running all day.

For now, I've commissioned Chris to, "go ye forth and findeth a Starbucks and returneth not without a tall peppermint mocha.". Do I hear an amen?


Saturday, November 25, 2006

No, my woods are not on fire!

I went upstairs Wednesday evening to change my clothes to go to our Thanksgiving service at church and looked out the bedroom window and there were these amazing golden streaks happening right out the window (that looks west). I knew what was coming, so ran downstairs, grabbed the camera and ran out in the yard.

Normally, when there's a great sunset coming, I'll run down to the end of the driveway - about 1/4 mile - and shoot photos (or just watch) from down there where there aren't any trees to block the way. But sunsets go fast and I knew I wouldn't have time. So I started snapping and got some good photos and this is just one of 'em. Cool, huh?

I'm "on vacation" right now - Thanksgiving vacation - from work, anyway. And, after my last blog, you know I'm lovin' it. Dad joined us overnight to be here all day for Thanksgiving and Dustin and Judy came up as well. We had a really nice day and a fabulous meal. I'm so thankful to have family gathered around...

Judy and I got this brilliant idea to go out on "black friday" because A.C. Moore offered 60%-off coupon(s). We do have some new (and really nice) stores at our mall, and, I tell you, I've NEVER in my 30+ years of living around here, seen our mall like THIS. Okay, so I don't usually go out on black friday, but I have, and not even that long ago. But this was unbelieveable. We did manage to spend our coupons, but due to a flat tire and Dustin forgetting his keys at our house, our plans for the day got drastically changed. Oh well, I came home and did my dreaded and put-off banking (consisting of bazillions of receipts from when Chris and I did the majority of our Christmas shopping last week). Whew.

I haven't been doing much scrapping lately. A lot of re-arranging and organizing in my room, but not much actual scrapping. And I've been missing it. So today, now that I'm caught up and I have a few hours to spare before going to my dear friend Deborah's 50th (surprise) birthday party, I'm goin to go play... It's all Christmas stuff at this point. But that's okay - since I'm not decorating (since we're going away this year), this will be my way of immersing myself in the Christmas spirit! Okay, I might drag out a few candles - but that's it. So....

...let the Christmas season begin!
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


It's one of those very drizzly, foggy, gloomy days where you'd just like to curl up on the sofa with a cup of hot tea, a blankie, your kittie curled up next to you and a good read. Oh, how I wish.

I've been saying it out loud a little bit lately. Now let me put it in writing. I want to be home. I'm not talking about a day off. I mean I just want to be a non-working home-body again. The urges are getting stronger and stronger. And it's not just because it's a gray day.

I feel guilty for thinking this. Because I prayed for this job. And God didn't just answer my prayer with some old job. He answered by getting me the most perfect job for me (if I was going to work, I didn't want anything less). And the best boss and a wonderful group of co-workers and an astoundingly beautiful work space. How can I just smack down that wonderful answer to prayer? How ungrateful can I be? How spoiled can I be?

I have reasons, you know. Good reasons. All within God's will, too. And here they are (not necessarily in order of preference):

1. (This is good - how could God not like this one?) I really miss my nice, long quiet times, devotional times. In my p.j. (pre-job) days I could easily spend an hour to an hour and a half in bible reading, bible study and prayer. It was lovely. Now, I'm lucky if I get a chapter read in the morning and prayer time is generally in the car on the way to work. (Luckily, I have a 25 minute, non-trafficky drive.)

2. I never thought I'd be saying this, but - I miss cooking. And meal planning. And eating healthy. And not that Chris isn't doing a good job of providing a few meals a week, but it's often just hit and miss. And I just can't come home from work and cook. Even though I only work 5 hours - it's 98% computer work - and pretty intense at times (except for like now, when I'm blogging...) But, with my lunch hour and the roundtrip, I'm actually gone 7 hours daily. And I'm mentally and physically done when I get home. That's just me. (I don't know how women that work full-time and have kids at home do it!) If I was home full-time, I'd get back into planning meals regularly, shopping for food regularly and cooking regularly. I want to make it healthier, too. And I'd enjoy it. And, believe me, Chris, as much as he says he likes to cook, would enjoy it. He likes to cook at his leisure, not on demand or out of necessity. I think the fun it started out to be for him has worn off. If I was home, we could go back to sharing this task. But at least meals would be planned and shopped for.

3. I'm out of shape. Okay, that's putting it mildly. I used to start work at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m., but that hour at the end of the day is ever so much more useful to me than at the beginning. Especially since so many days of the week, I'm not really "done" when I get home. I have our banking and the church banking and ladies bible study (at my house most often) and worship team not to mention putting together the song service and other things like Wednesday church and the occasional odd outside committment. SO, even though I was walking more when I didn't have to be at work til 10 a.m., it was killing me to come home at 4 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. and get right into all that other stuff. Having said all that - NOW (though I come in earlier and get home earlier) I'm not doing one teensy little bit of exercise because there's NO time before work and I'm sacked after work. I've gained more weight. My heel (plantar faciitis) kills me. My stairs often seem like Mt. Everest. My only muscle workout is when I attempt to carry all 10 grocery bags in at once - on the rare occasion when I get groceries. I want to come home so I can get back to work on my fitness level. Just to take regular walks would be such a luxury and such an improvement.

4. Okay - honestly, I NEVER thought I'd say this, but - I want to clean my house. I haven't really cleaned it in the four years that I've been working. Because Saturday is really my only day off (I "work" half of Sunday, too, at church.) I've been loathe to use that one day cleaning! Yuk! Sometimes, because I've laxed off during the week, I have to catch up on banking or song service stuff on Saturday. Sometimes we have plans that day. Sometimes I just crash. But rarely do I spend that time cleaning. Usually the only time I do is if someone is coming over. In fact, having company has been the only thing that has saved us from drowning in dust. Well, the dust the company would see, anyway. There's so much dust upstairs that I wake up congested every morning. Our bedroom floor hasn't seen the bottom of the vacuum cleaner in months. (And then it was probably Chris that ran it.) Yes, Chris does some housework. But pretty much only the bare essentials of cleaning the main-floor floors and keeping the kitchen in somewhat good shape - about once a week. I long to clean out closets, file cabinets, drawers. To dust everything from the fireplace mantel to the far reaches of under our bed. I long to clear stuff out, simplify, purge and re-organize. I long to be the mistress of my home again and get it in ship-shape (much as like myself).

5. Yeah, you knew this one was coming. I want scrap time. Yes, I have Monday nights, but even that's not always a given. Sometimes, I'm just too tired to even scrap! But if I was home - well, I have IDEAS, people! My head is swarming with projects I want to do. Classes I'd like to teach. Maybe even a business I'd like to start. Usually when I start a new hobby, I exhaust my desire to do it in a few months or in a few projects. But this scrapping thing, I tell you, it's been two years now and I just can't get enough. And I keep getting magazines and publications that continue to inspire me. As long as life is happening around me, there's stuff I want to scrap. Not to mention the joy, the peace, the refreshment, the opportunity for expression that it gives me. It's my happy place, my zone, my peaceful place to think, to create, to express, to give, to reflect, to meditate, to relive. And I don't see it as being even remotely wasteful. Because there's always some kind of worthwhile end product. And I think I have talent and gifts in this area. I can share them. This is the hobby that my whole artistic life before has been preparing me for. And I want more, more, more.

6. Last but not least. I think it will help my relationship with Chris. When I asked him what he thought about me quitting my job to come back home full-time, he said he'd think about it. So when I gave him time to do that and mentioned it again a couple weeks later (and, of course, he hadn't though about it yet), he said "do what you want". Okay that little interchange right there can give you a hint that maybe the spark is fluttering a bit, eh? He says he likes to cook. He doesn't complain about having to clean up a lot. But I think it would be downright sexy to him to have me around again, cooking, cleaning, working on myself. Just to be present and not so tired and crabby that most conversation is cavewoman-esque at best. In other words, it couldn't hurt. And it could very well HELP!

Okay, I've put it in writing now. I know this will only increase my longing. But this is a matter of big-time prayer right now. (Yes, I'm bold enough to ask God for more mercy. He knows how I feel, anyway!) So, we'll see what happens, how it works out.

In the meantime, on this very gray day, I'd better get back to work!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

This is the lovely, homey, Cedar Run Inn. It's a rare jewel plunked down in the middle of the Pine Creek valley in north-central PA.

This is Pine Creek, which is just adjacent to the Inn. That's the lawn of the Inn you can just see at the very right. On the other side of the Inn is the rails-to-trails bike path which provides miles and miles of non-stop gorgeous scenery for your biking or walking pleasure.

North of where the Inn is located is what is known as the PA Grand Canyon. We drove along the west rim of the canyon (on what we lovingly refer to as the "west wim woad") on Friday. It was a dreary and rainy day, but just as we got to this vista, the sun broke out and lit up this mountain for a spectacular photo op!

All this is part of the three day annual trip we take here. We've done it for four years now. It's such a wonderful, relaxing time, regardless of the weather. The color this year was probably the best we've seen it. And, while there was a bit of rain, that just gave us all the more chance to relax. We did get a nice long walk in and a short bike ride. And, of course, naps. We love the naps. We had a chance to read and play a game. And the food served at the Inn is just fabulous. Food is where they really shine. The salmon dish I had was perfected over months by the owners' son (also the chef) and is absolutely the BEST salmon dish I've ever had. It's just a never-ending burst of flavor right up to the last bite. I didn't even want to eat the last bite - I wanted to save it and take to bed with me - just to cuddle and enjoy as long as possible. Sick, I know. Well, I did eat it, but I hated to see it come to an end.

And we always hate to see our fall trip to Cedar Run come to an end... But it does in a most delightful way. Chris's dad and sister and husband come up to join us in a nearby town for their Oktoberfest meal. Also quite tasty. No, it's not all about food - but close!
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A face only a mother could love...

Oh, I mean the dog, not the boy! Yep, Matthew and Martha couldn't pass up this little guy. They (for some reason) visited a local SPCA and I guess it was Matthew that just had to go back.

They named him Taco. I guess he's about a year old. So far, he's been a great little doggie. Matthew takes him to work (at church) with him and he just sleeps the whole time (the dog, not Matthew).

I kind of figured there would be a new pup in their future. It warms my heart that they have a soft spot for the unlovable, the, shall we say, unattractive. Gotta love that!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

This is one of my favorite pages.

See how a blog can turn into a scrapbook page? (see previous blog entry) This page just formulated itself in my mind after I did that blog. I felt compelled to make it - even though it was 9 p.m. I never start scrapping that late, but I decided to go with the flow, and that's a good lesson, because it might not have flowed if I'd have waited. I'll remember that. Plus, I wanted to do it while it was still Sue's birthday (even though I didn't finish until 1:30 a.m.).

I love this picture of Sue, too. I actually cropped it out of a photo of all 5 of us siblings and mom at the last Hall reunion that Sue made it to. Little did we know then that she wouldn't be with us the next year. She looks happy and relaxed in this picture, not like someone that would be gone seven months later. You never know, do you? Make sure you hug your loved ones, people, because you never know...
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Thursday, September 14, 2006


I would have called you.
We would have laughed.
You would have sighed over getting older.
You would have enjoyed your little grandbabies dancing around you as they bounced out of the arms of your daughters.
Your husband would have given you an extra special kiss.
You would have gotten a gift or two, maybe eaten some cake.
You would have turned 52 today.
You would have.
If the cancer hadn't taken you away just four months after your 42nd birthday.
I'm thinking of you, Sue, and missing you...
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Monday, September 11, 2006

It's a sad day.

Is there anyone not blogging about what happened 5 years ago today? I'm still so moved by the whole thing. It still seems surreal.

As much as I am moved by the tragedies of this day, I have to say I don't go around living in fear. Does that mean that I'm immune to the potential threat we live under? Does that mean I'm naive about the protection our country (for the most part, anyway) seems to enjoy?

I don't think so. For me, it means that I know when my time on earth is up, it's only because God has deemed it so. I don't think that means that I can take irresponsible risks with my life (or others') but I do think it eliminates the need to spend precious time worrying about the what if's of life.

I am so thankful for the freedom our nation is priveleged and blessed to live under. I am so thankful that our nation isn't war-ravaged like so many in the news today. I am so thankful daily for the beauty of God's creation and the joy it brings me. I am so very thankful for the day and age - and place - I was born into. My life is blessed and rich and full.

But there are so many reliving their personal horrors today. Many that lost loved ones in such a violent way five years ago. My heart goes out to them. My prayers go up for them.

It makes me cry.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Company's comin'!

Uninvited company - but he's coming anyway. Ernesto, that is. Not to minimize at all any damage or tragedy that may have come to others as a result of this storm, but I really don't mind that he's coming. If I'm stuck inside that means I can hunker down in my scrap room or snuggled on the couch with the present book I'm reading without feeling any guilt whatsoever. Sure, I could be cleaning or cooking, but why focus on little unpleasantries like that?

I'm at work and have another hour and twenty minutes to go... The wind is picking up and the radar indicates that the storm has entered south central PA and is headed directly for us. I hope I can get home before the torrents start. My tires tend to hydroplane.

I'm starting a new scrapping project. It's part two of a four part series. Part one = all about "me". I've already finished this book. It was quick and fun to think about all the journaling questions that were presented. Part two = all about "you" - meaning DH, of course. Except it's really set up to be done from my perspective and, to me, that's still about me and not Chris. So, I've changed it up alot, added a bunch of quizzes for Chris. It should be fun. The third part is about the boys/fam together and the last is the year in review. I appreciate the continuity of a kit and how the elements all work together. In this case, the placement of the page and journaling is all pre-suggested as well. So it's nice for a quick little project. But, I've also felt free to make it my own. I'll post a page or two in an upcoming blog. You can see the kit here.

I suppose I'd better get back to work. I'm looking forward to this three day weekend - rain or shine!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Back to work.

That's where I've been. I started blogging, interestingly enough, while at work last spring. The whole DSL and grab a minute here thing was enticing since I have dial-up at home (read: endless frustration on the internet). So I thought my blogging would pick up when I got back to work on the 15th. But nooooo. There's such a thing as B U S Y !!

So, I'm sneaking in a minute during my lunch hour. No pics, sorry.

We went to a pretty good celtic music festival this past weekend. It was held at a little winery out in some very pretty country south of us about an hour. So there was a wine tasting tent, which was fun. We heard some downright good Irish trad music and some "Irish Rock" as well. It was a fun time. Went with friends.

I was gonna have Chris pick me up two giant plastic storage bins so I could pack away some stuff (candle stuff) in my scrap room in the hopes of spreading out a bit. (Maybe I should consider getting less stuff - NOT!) But all I really needed to do was throw out a bunch of stuff and re-arrange a bit and - voila - two whole shelves became available! I love it when that happens. And it was just the right amount of space I was in need of.

I REALLY need to do this is every area of my house. (Dang - what happened to the summer?) Just think of all the extra room and sleek bare surfaces I would unearth. I do love throwing stuff out. Just crappy stuff. Why do I have so much of it is the question....

Back to work....

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I went with the Longwood Gardens entry (see previous blog). After I did that post, I walked back into my scrap room and saw that layout there and, well, I decided I really liked it and it was the most original of the two.

Soooo, Friday I find out if I made it through to the next round. This is kind of like "survivor"! I'm doing WAY better at this survivor than I would at the real one. If I ever made it onto the real Survivor show, (ha! as IF....) I would, like, stash something illegal - like a big fat Snickers bar - in my stuff and then let someone "accidentally" find it on the first day so that I'd get kicked off the show and then could spend the rest of the month in the luxury hotel while they finished taping the show. I mean, if I actually stayed on the show and WON the million (again - HA!), I'd spend the money on a month-long trip to a tropical island luxury resort anyway - so why not just cut out all the other stuff?

Okay - it's my second day back to work. I worked an extra half hour and then came straight home and did my banking, which I didn't finish because I had to go eat dinner (which my dear hubby cooked) and then went straight to Wednesday church and then came straight home to finish my banking. Which I did and now I'm bleary-eyed and blogging!

That's enough for now!

Monday, August 14, 2006

I can't decide.

These are my two latest pages for the "Last Scrapper Standing" dare contest (see previous blogs). The challenge this week is to scrap a page with exactly 13 photos on it.

I did the flower one first and then got the idea for the reunion one over the weekend, so I scrapped it today. I love them both - for different reasons. One is more artsy, more original but the other is more memory-related, more personal. Both feature freestyling and my own handwriting.

If you're looking at this and it's before Wednesday, August 16th at 4 p.m., why don't you just e-mail me your thoughts? I'd appreciate it. If you want to see what's current in scrapbooking right now (maybe a helpful thing), check out the 2PeasInABucket gallery here which is being filled constantly with people's latest work.

Thanks! Now back to work...
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Here's a sneak peek at my 1st "Last Scrapper Standing" dare.

The challenge was to journal right on your photo.

In case you can't read it, my journaling says: "Matthew, you look so pensive in this photo - are you reflecting on all the decisions you've made that have brought you to this place in time? Are there things going through your mind even now that will influence the coming changes? Or are you just standing there blown away by the rugged, awesome beauty of this place, this Ireland? Does your presence here seem surreal? Ponder away, son. Your future is shining with promise. You are but a reflection of my hopes and dreams."

I like it. I love the journaling and I like how it turned out - how everything is about reflection. I especially like the clear acrylic letters that are upside-down, like a reflection of the title. (And there's an "m" on the raised part with Matthew in it.)

I'm loving doing the "dares", the challenges. Food for thought, chance for growth. I'm all over that.

Tomorrow's the big post to 2p's. We'll see what happens...

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Our boys.

It's so gratifying as parents to see how much they love each other and how much they love spending time together.

And - wonder of wonders - they WANT to spend time with US!

Note to all parents of rebellious teenagers: keep the doors of communication open and this is what you will have to look forward to!

We had such an excellent week together. I tried to savor each moment, knowing that all too soon the boys would be back home.

And, indeed, my house-full of "children" (including future children-in-law) is empty and quiet now. My summer vacation is almost over. I'm taking this week easy so that I will go back to work feeling as though I've had a vacation. There will be some scrapping, some reading, some swimming, some sleeping in and, good heavens, some grocery shopping!

Oh - change of subject here. Don't tell anyone, but Chris said he wants to get in shape before next year. (Before having to sit in an airplane seat for 6-1/2 hours on the way to and from Ireland. Before hosting a 4th of July wedding at our house. Before having to do the myriad of stuff that will need done for the wedding.) I say - yee ha! I've been quietly doing my own thing lately and have already lost 10 pounds. So I'm SO happy we can de-junk food the house, start walking together and be of the same mind in this area.

On that happy note, dinner's ready and I'm gonna go eat some corn on the cob. (Hey, technically, it's a vegetable!).
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I am brave.

Yep. I am. Even if my husband's comment when he saw the finished page (after giving artistic praise) was, "but honey, you're such a sis!". Okay, maybe I am - physically.

But I meant emotionally, spiritually brave.

I've been lovin' this song (Brave) by Nichole Nordeman, so when I saw the weekly dare suggesting a page all about positive self-talk (i.e. saying something good about yourself), the message of the song is what I thought of. Some of the words (the typed ones) are on my page. (Note: there is blog - I'm new to it - that posts weekly "dares" (i.e. page ideas) for scrapbookers - it's called "The Dares" - and the ideas are usually quite introspective, thought provoking, which I love.)

The dare and the song inspired me to think about how I was brave when I was a little girl that shouldn't be needing to be so brave. Fears prevailed, but God drew me to Him and poured out His love on me. He made me brave enough to quit hiding and to face my fears. I'm brave today as I still face temptations to continue to build emotional walls. Love and trust, they're risky, ya know? Nope. I'm not perfect at it. But I KNOW I am loved and that kind of love continues to take me beyond my fears. My faith will not be shattered.

Because I am brave.
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Last week...

...and this week!

I'm so thrilled to have hydrangeas - and blue ones at that! I planted this little guy last year and got one flower. This year, as you can see, I got two flowers. At this rate, I don't think I'm going to be alive long enough to see this plant get as many blooms as I'd like, but, oh well. I sure am enjoying it now!

Though my husband may disagree, it really doesn't take that much to make me happy!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Man overboard!

Yes, we were! The remnants at left only hint at the african queen-like barge we concocted yesterday for our Susquehanna River floatilla.

We actually had two 5-man rafts, 1 personal-size raft, 2 innertubes, 2 seat-like floaty things and 1 throne-like "comfort lounge". All roped together. Oh, it was a sight to behold.

How many were in our party, you ask? Um, only four, and certainly old enough to know better. I guess we wanted to be prepared for anything as we drifted 9 miles down the river on the hottest day of the summer.

We also had 5 oars, two bags of junk including snorkle equipment, cigar and lighter, keys, sunblock and snacks and a cooler full of bottled water and a couple sodas. Oh, and two golf umbrellas. Yeah, I laughed at Chris when he suggested it, but you can't imagine the relief we enjoyed from the shade they provided. It reached the high 90's, but we were able to be pretty oblivious to that - thank goodness.

You just have to picture it all. I only wish I could have brought my camera (but that would have really been foolish). Our ropes got tangled a few times. The current was extremely fast and made it almost impossible to get a foot hold in even the more shallow water! And it was a whole lot easier getting OUT of the rafts (and other floating devices) than back IN them! All of this provided great amusement for the relaxed onlookers.

Yes, it often seemed like something out of a slapstick comedy, but we enjoyed the heck out of ourselves. First of all, the setting was gorgeous. It was a cloudless day on the beautiful Susquehanna River, which meanders through the forests and fields of mountainous central PA. There were ducks and herons and a continuous serenade of bird songs. And when we weren't transferring from one floating implement to the other or fighting over who got the umbrellas, it was sooooo lovely to just drift along - whether stretched out in a raft, hanging over a tube or just letting nothing but the current carry you as you yielded your body to the cool water.

It only took four hours - the shortest time ever for us. No surprise taking into account the high and swift water. We emerged from the river in pretty good condition - very minimally burned, one rock-bruised ankle and HUNGRY. After we filled our tummies, exhaustion took over. As for me, I took a brief nap that extended into an all-nighter. As nice as it was floating on the river all day, the bed sure felt good!!

Maybe next time we'll go a little less overboard with equipment, but there will be a next time! And, man, we will be overboard!
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Monday, July 10, 2006

My latest page...

I've been working on cards and a mini-album, but I just was dying to do this page featuring my dear friend, Deborah's granddaughter, Eva. Look at those rosy cheeks! She is just little miss sunshine and such a sweetie. I took this picture at our first picnic of the year (Memorial Day) and wanted to do a page when I saw it. I think these papers and the flowers I made highlight her sunny personality. And I'm lovin' the doodling thing! Plus, it's rare when I get to do a little girl page! So fun!

I'm in scrapbooking heaven right now. I'm off work for the summer and we're in between visitors, so it's been a great time to hide out in my scrap room. Yes, I do come out for fresh air from time to time, but only when absolutely necessary!

Chris is out golfing right now (hence, the free computer) and I'm signing off, too... I can go fling open the windows to let the beautiful morning air and sunshine in, put on some inspiring music and get lost in my little scrapping world.....
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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Oh, yeah, we are back in hot tub business, baby!

Well, hey, I've been without it for well over two months and I've been in withdrawal. The pumps have been down and there's been some warranty disputing - whether or not we get reimbursed remains to be seen. BUT - at least I can think about it whilst IN the tub. (Actually, that's the LAST thing I'll be thinking about in the tub!)

My favorite hot tub time is first thing in the morning - straight out of bed and into the tub. Preferably a sunny, cold morning when I can hear the birdies singing and the breeze (if any) whispering through the trees as the warm water happily gurgles me awake. That's what I did this morning - well, okay, it wasn't cold, but all the rest was perfect. And, since it was only cool and not cold, I could enjoy my first cup of coffee out there, too. (Can't do that when it's cold out - your body stays warm, but the coffee, not having the benefit of being surrounded by 100-plus degree water, doesn't.)

My other favorite time (I can have two, can't I?) is on a frigid, clear night when the stars are amazing. The tub sits on our deck, which is attached to the house, which is secluded in the woods - so we have a beautiful, private and unobstructed view of the sky. Since there aren't any nature sounds worth hearing at that time, we like to pipe music, such a lovely celtic airs, to the outdoor speakers and just let all our senses (except taste, of course) be pleasantly assaulted. What could be better?

Ahhhhh, yes........this tub is the best money we've ever spent. I'm so glad to have it back!
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Thursday, June 29, 2006


Dustin and Judy had to Tuesday night. It's all over the news. Big flooding in PA.

We're so happy to have them safe and sound with us.

Some people are finding out this week that lives can change as fast as that water is flowing.

Hopefully, it's cause for us all to remember that stuff is just stuff - it can be replaced. (I can say this - I've had a bad fire that burned up stuff.)

God blesses us with so much. But we tend to get overly attached to the things that don't matter. And I mean things.

We need to spend our time on earth cherishing each other more and not so much the replaceable and you-can't-take-it-with-you stuff of life.

Because we're all gonna have to evacuate sooner or later - ya know? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The first day of summer... and what a quintessentially summery day we had!

This is a shot of Pine Creek as it meanders through what is known as the PA Grand Canyon.

Here's what we did on the first day of summer:

~ It started out quite chilly - so even though we bundled up in order to enjoy our usual morning coffee on the porch, we had to eat breakfast inside. We hung out reading for a while and when the morning mist lifted, there was a gorgeous day under there!

~ We got on our bikes and rode up the "Rails-to-Trails" bike path through the canyon for - oh, about 3 miles. (That's where the photo is shot from.) We were looking for rattlesnakes because we'd heard they were quite plentiful and, indeed, we spotted four just off the bike path. Three of them were black rattlers, which I'd never heard of nor seen before. Quite pretty, really. I even was able to take a short digital camera video of one where you can hear it rattling. Don't worry - I used the zoom!

~ We headed for the Cedar Run General store to get an ice cream fix. We'd been indulging ourselves in their waffle cones filled (quite filled) with whatever yummy flavor tickled our respective fancies. This day, it was orange sherbet heavily swirled with vanilla ice cream - reminiscent of a "dreamsicle". I was too enthralled with mine to notice what Chris got. Sorry.

~ Remember the sun you saw shining brightly in that photo above? It did that all day and really warmed up, so we dragged out our lawn chairs, reading material, cold drinks, sun hats and sun lotion and laid ourselves out like contented seals in preparation for jumping into the "refreshingly" cold (i.e. startlingly cold) creek water - just inches in front of our feet.

~ We slapped on our snorkle, mask and fin gear and cruised up and down Babb's Creek. We became one with the fish, as it were.

~ I showered while Chris enjoyed a beverage and a cigar. Then, feeling totally lazy and indulgent, we chucked our plans to cook and headed up the road to a little restaurant for dinner. I had ribs and Chris got one of their fabulous cheese steaks.

~ We took our places back on the porch, feet propped on the railing, binoculars in hand and watched and listened as the day faded away into evening, accompanied by the goodnight songs of the resident birds, crickets and frogs...

...We couldn't have asked for a better first day of summer.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chris found this little baby Chickadee in the yard yesterday. Isn't it adorable? It was even making little Chickadee sounds. It didn't seem too scared at all. Chris, Dustin and I all held it. It probably was learning how to fly (which it did eventually do), but wasn't too speedy yet.

Summer is going too fast! But then, it always does. We have some other exciting news. Dustin and Judy, who had cancelled their engagement, are now back on! We're thrilled (and kind of knew this would probably be the case sooner or later). We're happy it's sooner, though there isn't a date yet.

Tomorrow, Chris and I head up to our beloved PA Grand Canyon area - fondly referred to now as "up north". We're renting a little cabin on Bab's Creek, just as we did last year, but this year it'll be for a week. It's the one from which I'm viewing the creek in my slideshow on the page below. We'll be filling our time with swimming (it's supposed to get HOT! Yay!!), biking, hiking and lots of relaxing. It's paradise.

My favorite time up there is getting up in the morning and taking my morning coffee out on the porch (still in jammies), sitting in the rocker, putting my feet up on the railing (as in that photo below) and listening to the birds sing, watching the creek go by, reading my Bible, chatting with Chris. What a beautiful way to welcome in the day.

It seems so hard to get time to really relax here at home, there's always so much - even in my so-called "time off" during the summer - that is continuously calling me and pulling at me. I've really had very few totally free days. But I have managed to squeeze in some scrapping time and time on our own lovely front porch to relax. Chris is trying to start a new summer tradition of enjoying an afternoon cup of tea on the porch - just to connect with the moment and not let it all get away - so I'm joining him in that as much as I can.

Going up to Blackwell, though, with all my responsibilities far, far away, is truly a time where I can soak in the restfulness of summer and get re-charged for all that remains at home. I promise to savor each moment...
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This is Chris under the crystal-clear water at World's End State Park on Memorial Day Monday.

I love that we live so close to such beautiful places. This one is only a half hour from our house. Yes, this is an enticement to my family so that they'll come visit us! And there's plenty more where this comes from!

We had a great day here. It was nice and hot and despite the chilly water, there was barely a soul that didn't get at least some body part wet! We had a yummy picnic with all the usual picnic fare and we played games, walked around and just generally relaxed and enjoyed the great day.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Here are a couple of cards I've made recently. The top one is a combo Easter, birthday and engagement card. (Nothing like killing three birds with one stone! - and, yes, there was a gift included!)

The second card uses the new QK alphabet I purchased from e-bay - an early birthday present. It's called "sunshine" (the little sun die cuts come with it, too, as well as some other very cute dies to make flowers with). I love this set! It's so whimsical.

I have this thing about alphabets. I have a zillion in my collection - in all different formats: stickers, die cuts, stamps, rub-ons. And lately, I've been getting into hand-lettering as well. All this is part of what makes scrapbooking and card making so fun - I get to PLAY with all my toys. I can never have enough alphabets (the same goes for paper, of course and these cards are both using some new paper I got).

If this all sounds very superficial to you, I would like to add that a great part of the enjoyment in making cards is thinking about the recipient of the card and the occasion that prompted it. I'm not making that up just to justify my obsession, either!

All this talk about playing makes me want to go do just that. And I have half a day still before me. So, off I go - to CREATE!
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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Is this a great picture, or what? I love the look of happiness on Mom's face and the curiosity that "Jazz", my brother's dog, is expressing! These two could be friends for life!

Jazz and his family, (that of my youngest sibling, Dave) visited Mom while I was there over Mother's Day weekend. While I'm sure Mom enjoyed my brother, his wife and their adorable children, it was Jazz she kept talking about for days afterwards.

If it wasn't for the walking, grooming, feeding and general care a dog would require, I'd say Mom would be a perfect candidate for having a little doggie pet.

Oh, well. I guess we'll just stick with stuffed ones for now...
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Friday, May 19, 2006

I'm flying home today. I've been at my mom's for a week now and it hasn't really been a vacation. She's moving in December, so it's been a week of trying to get her down-sized. She's been really great about it - much to my relief.

I feel like I need to do the same thing when I get home, now that I'm off for the summer. Of course, what I really can't wait to do is scrap daily! But I think I'll dedicate my mornings to actually getting some work done around the house, since I never do that while I'm on my regular (go-to-work) schedule.

My mom's house (though a bit cluttered right now due to rummaging through her stuff) is always immaculate. And she has this big, boat-like Cadillac (that I drive while here). Consequently, when I go back home I always feel like I drive a junker and live in a shack. Just in comparison, you know? Well, okay, so my Toyota Avalon is an ugly gray, is in desperate need of cleaning (inside and out) and has about 156,000 miles on it. And I do live in a log home that, after 20+ years of living there, isn't quite finished yet.

But I love my home, really.

Well, it's okay - this all just makes me want to go home and clean and, hey, while I've got the urge, I should just go with it, because I don't get the urge often!

Anyway, I'm on my way to home-sweet-home and the real beginning of my summer vacation. Bring it on!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The question has been asked: What in my scraproom makes me happy?

I love it when I go into my scrap room the next day after completing a layout and see it sitting there on my desk. The more time that has elapsed since I've worked on it, the more I see it with a new perspective, a new freshness - like it's all new to me. It gives me great joy to see something not only completed, but that I created!

And, yeah, I love all my stuff, but I love the process more - handling everything, doing all the little creative steps to get to the end result. Even the perhaps mundane tasks are fun because while I'm working/creating, I'm thinking about the person(s) the project is for or about, or I'm reliving the circumstance I'm scrapping.

To come in the next day and see it all anew is sooooo satisfying - and fulfilling. It makes me
h a p p y !

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This is the flag that is right outside my building at work. I love seeing it when I come in. It's glorious - especially when there's a nice breeze blowing. It's a beacon in the community, calling us, hopefully, to remember how great our freedom is.

I love my job. I love my work environment and I work with the best people. I love my work schedule, too. And today is my last day of work before summer break. I'm on the student's schedule, so I get all the days off they do.

I LOVE IT! I love my freedom and ALL that it stands for! I'm feeling very blessed to have the life I have....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I'm just coming over from myspace. The whole blog thing is a new experience and after seeing some other blogspots I decided myspace was a bit too "noisy" for me. I'm liking the blogging thing and I just want to do that and post pictures and have my friends and family be able to keep in touch with all the spectacularly exciting stuff (NOT!) that is my life... I'm throwing out the welcome mat here.