Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.

My daughter Sage called me yesterday to tell me that she and Saxton were both informed that there is no Santa Clause.  Immediately tears sprang to my eyes and I was sad that they had been told such a thing.  What a disappointment to divulge to a child your opinion, that the magic of Santa Clause does not exist at the very heart of the season.  I was sorry that I was not physically there to discuss it in person, but I quickly remembered this letter and I read it to them:

As Written in Newseum

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York'sSun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

After reading the letter, I added my own examples of the spirit of Christmas and Santa Clause.  If he didn't exist I told them, then the joy in giving, seeing the Christmas trees lit for the first time and watching their baby brother cry out in utter glee at the sight of Christmas lights wouldn't either.  All these things are part of the spirit of St. Nicholas.  I reminded them they they can not see God nor the angels, but that they have faith that they are still there.  Santa Clause embodies the whole meaning of Christmas and Christ's birthday as well as the hope for peace, love, wonderment and the power of a wish.

Friday, my husband's brother, wife, and my niece and nephew arrived from California.  It was my first meeting with my new brother and sister in law and I have really loved getting to know them over the past few days.  They are wonderful people and easy to be around.  On Saturday we were in Seattle and standing in line at the Original Starbucks.  It was cold and the wind was brisk, but the environment was warm (Pike's Place Market was all decked out for Christmas) and the positive energy was palpable.  Accentuating all of this was a quartet singing by the door.  They were amazing and believable when they sang of Jesus and praying for miracles.  My brother-in-law, a devout Christian, really helped to bring their lyrics to my attention when he began to clap along to their song.  The positive energy was contagious and led me to believe in my quest for miracles and the spirit of Christmas. 

The last few days I biked and ran in the rain.  Something about the quiet and serenity of the mist in the air caused me to reflect on what my Christmas wish would be and I realized that it was simple, happiness for everyone.  Maybe it sound's silly and maybe it's for selfish reasons, but none-the-less, I wish for even those who have hurt me to be truly happy.  My hope is that if another is content and satisfied with life, if their heart is smiling, then they will reflect that back into the world.  Pain turned to love.  Hurt to healing.  It's a miracle that I pray for everyday.  I don't wish for anyone to be punished, I pray instead that they be repaired in anyway they need in order to be at peace.  This peace includes the ability to reconcile with others, which in some cases, includes myself.

Last night after a wonderful evening with family and a full house for Christmas Eve dinner, Jerry, Brayden, Max and I went for a walk around our neighborhood.  We are so fortunate to have such wonderful neighbors and their Christmas spirit was in full force with over half the houses decked out with lights and decorations.  As I watched Max's face light up for the hundredth time, I too smiled and got excited.  His ability to find full joy in the simplest of things, is the very essence of the spirit of Christmas and Santa Clause. 
Yes Savannah, Sam, Sage, Saxton, Brayden and Max, there is a Santa Clause, his love is as real as mine.  When you feel that extra warmth in your heart during Christmas or think you hear someone whispering love in your ear, that is Santa Clause.  When you ask Max what Santa Clause says, and see him smile and say, "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!" you know that he does exist.  Don't give up on magic, don't give up on faith, don't give up on Santa or the belief in all things Christmas.  Hold on to that belief and the spirit of Christmas will live in your hearts forever.  I love you my babies, to the moon and stars and back.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There goes my heart.

I don't know if I knew what true heartache was until I had my children. The feeling I have right now as I sit and stare at a plane that carries two pieces of my heart must be heartbreak. I bite my lip and blink back tears, feeling pain in my chest and in my heart. I hate this part, after the good-byes (they were quick today, the steward took the girls right away), when I have to wait for the plane to take off. I know these beautiful little people, my joys, are on that plane, but I can't get to them. I always imagine breaking through the door and running to them, holding tight and not letting go. I wonder if the gate attendant would think I was crazy if I asked him to tell them, "mom loves you," one more time. I know I'll see them soon and God willing, I'll see Savannah and Sam a week from today. But right now it just hurts and makes me hate the fact that my family is split up. Divorce sucks. Split parenting sucks. I never imagined how hard this would be, these heart wrenching goodbyes at an airport. I still remember hugging (clinging for dear life might be more accurate) Savannah and Sam this summer, I just didn't want to let go. I don't think I will ever get used to watching my babies walk away. I know my heart will ever accept their leaving. So right now I let the tears fall and just pray to God and all the angels in heaven to keep each and everyone of my babies safe. I watch your plane leave the gate and I just feel so lost. Please know my loves... I love you. I miss you. I can't wait to hold you again soon! Love, momma.

Monday, December 17, 2012

There is beauty in the world; my five am wake up call and my continued reflection (as well as the President's) on the tragedy in Newtown, CT.

Right about five am this morning I woke with a start to an alert binging from Jerry's phone. Apparently there was a blizzard warning in the mountains, and it startled me to the point where I knew I wouldn't be falling back to sleep.  So I quickly jumped out of bed and rushed to make the 5:30 am Zumba class at the YMCA.  I had always wanted to go ( I love the instructors who teach it) and today was the perfect opportunity.  

I loved it.  It was kind of exhilarating being up and exercising so early, especially with the aid of up beat music and dancing.  At the end of the class, the cool down song was "Beauty in The World" As I listened to the words my mind went back to the Newtown CT tragedy.  I, like probably most the world, can not get those babies out of my mind.  Over the last few days as their sweet little faces started to appear on the news, via Facebook and on the internet sites, it has just torn at my heart the idea that they are gone.  What their families must be going through is unfathomable. 

However, as the song reminded me the little ones who were taken are the beauty in the world.  Their smiles and beautiful little souls represent the very best of what we are.  We can not forget that and in honor of them, we need to spread that beauty.  

Last night I watched as President Obama addressed Newtown.  I have to say no matter your political views,  he was wonderful and his words spoke directly to my heart.  Below is a portion of his speech:

"...You know, someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around.
With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves, our child, is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice, and every parent knows there’s nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet we also know that with that child’s very first step and each step after that, they are separating from us, that we won’t -- that we can’t always be there for them.
They will suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments, and we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear. And we know we can’t do this by ourselves.
It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation... 
...We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that, no matter how good our intentions, we’ll all stumble sometimes in some way.

We’ll make mistakes, we’ll experience hardships and even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace, that is true.

The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger, we know that’s what matters.

We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.

That’s what we can be sure of, and that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth..." 1

Last night the girls couldn't sleep. (My Jerry is wonderful in this department and often thinks of just the right thing to say.)  Tomorrow they travel to Indiana and they are both nervous about the flight and I think a little sad about leaving their momma.  I know that I am very sad to be saying good-bye to my babies, even if  it is just for two weeks.  They are my heart. Each and everyone of my babies are the best of me and what I am most proud of.  

Christmas Day will be very bittersweet for me.  I fly to Albuquerque for my sister's wedding and will meet my Savannah and Sam there on Christmas night.  (I am already imaging hugging and kissing them in the most wonderful fashion!)  However two littles will be in Indiana and two more in Washington. (Max and Brayden are staying back)  As President Obama said, we can't do this alone and I have to trust that they will be safe and loved where they are and that come January 2nd we will all be together.

Over the last few days, I have also dealt with a battle of emotions concerning the joy of the holiday season and the sadness and heartbreak of Newtown.  Part of me wonders how we can all smile and go about our Christmas, while those in Newtown grieve.  I believe this is where the children come in.  In my heart I know that they would want the whole world to celebrate for them, to enjoy the holidays for each and everyone of them, to cherish all the joys of the season as they would have done.  In their honor I am trying to see and appreciate Christmas through the eyes and heart of a child.  Please Read 

I also believe that the girls have carried some of the heartbreak of the Newtown tragedy.  They have seen some of the children who have been lost and the idea that such a thing happened is so sad and scary to them.  I can't negate their feelings and I can only try and comfort them by stating the fact that each and everyone went straight to heaven as fast as God could carry them.  I believe this is true.  Most were just first graders, full of faith, hope and light.  Drawing on that faith in all things good, I am going to picture them in heaven and do what I can on earth to love my own precious blessings and leave what I can't control in the hands of God.   
“... Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison, God has called them all home..." 1
1 President Obama The Washington Post

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas through the eyes of a child, a Holiday Lights at Wild Waves.

When we pulled into the parking lot at Wild Waves on Friday night Max gasped, put his hands to his mouth and exclaimed, "Oh my Gosh!  Look at the Christmas lights!" Then started to scream out in delight.  Instantly tears sprang to my eyes at the reaction of my two year old and how awesome it is to be able to see Christmas through a child's eyes.

Friday night Jerry, Sage, Saxton, Max and I headed to Wild Waves for the inaugural night of Holiday Lights.  It was a cold, but dry night, so we bundled up and set out to ride some rides and see some lights.  The kids had a wonderful time and so did we.  It was one of those special nights, made of one of a kind memories. 

Our evening started off with a bang when we ran across a local radio station, 94.1 KMPS and Sage won us tickets to their HO HO HO Down to see Big & Rich and Love & Theft last night.  They were awesome and we had a great time! Thank you Ms. Sage for our early Christmas gift!

We then headed to the center of the park just in time to see Santa arrive and the lighting of the Christmas Tree.  The girls rode one of their favorite rides and then we headed over to the new Zip Line.  We had gotten a coupon for one free ride with our season passes and had waited until now to use them.  Saxton and I went first and it was a lot of fun.  They whisk you across the park and back and give you an awesome birds eye view of the lights and everything that is going on.  When we got back we talked Sage into riding, she was a bit hesitant, but agreed to go.  She loved it!  I was very proud of her for deciding to take a chance, face her fear and just do it! I love this picture because you can see Sage's big smile and Saxton as she takes note of her sister's reaction after the ride.  My two peas in a pod.

After a little warm up and snack in the heater tent we headed out to see the rest of the park and give Max some opportunities to ride some rides.  Saxton was sweet enough to ride the jungle cars with him not once, but twice.  The entire park was done up in some really spectacular lights and Christmas scenes and it was just so cool to see the smiles on their faces and ours as well.  Wild Waves is always one of our favorite things to do and this event didn't disappoint. 

Another highlight of my night was riding the Timber Hawk, a neat wooden roller coaster that is set back in the woods.  Saxton and I raced up the stairs and were able to get on right away.  I just loved seeing her big smile as we climbed the first big hill in the dark.  You could see the stars and all the Christmas lights, making the moment even more magical.  I took a quick picture and put my camera away just in time, because soon we were careening in the dark while holding each other's hands up in the air.  I laughed and screamed  in delight right along with my daughter.  I loved and cherished every second of it.  As her and I headed back to the others, I held her hand and thanked God for this special Christmas moment.

We ended the night with a ride on the Carousel, which is always a favorite of everyone in our family.  The 1906 Parker Carousel is a historic gem beloved by children and adults alike.  From up on the horses you can see out over the park and on Friday that meant a beautiful view of all the Christmas lights.  It was a perfect end to a perfect evening.

On Tuesday my two littlest girls head off to their dad's in Indiana and I will sadly have to spend Christmas without them for the first time.  However, I will hold close to my heart all of the special holiday memories we have shared over the last few weeks, including our enchanting night at Wild Waves.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

The tragedy in Newtown Connecticut adds to my changing perspective on life and heartbreak.

The line to pick up our babies was a little longer today at school. I am sure many parents were like me,  watching the clock until it was finally time to pick up and maybe even called to request it today vs the bus.  As I pulled up, there stood two of my loves, wearing Christmas themed headbands and smiles on their faces.  I felt so lucky, so grateful at that moment.

Today I have heard many opinions, thoughts and perspectives on what happened today.  It really started to hit home for me when I watched our President lose his words and wipe tears from his eyes and finally say;  "Our hearts are broken today...The majority of those who died were children-beautiful, little kids... "  The words, "Unimaginable," "Horrendous," "Heartbreaking" and "Unbelievable" don't even begin to describe the actions of such a sick, sick person.  I can't even begin to try and comprehend how such a thing could happen, let alone why.  All I can do is pray like crazy for the families of those little angels and that nothing like this ever happens again.

These last few weeks have brought me to a new perspective on life.  Going to the funeral for the baby lost and watching two parents hearts break right in front of my eyes, really brought home the fact that life is so fragile and precious.  Over the last few months I have also been brought to light about the horrors of Childhood Cancer.  Through the words of Ronan's mom, and her blog posts I have begun to hug my littles a little tighter and not think twice about that "one last song" Max requests at bedtime.  

Did you know that 7 children will die today of Cancer and 46 will be diagnosed.  I don't say this to be depressing, but to bring such facts to the forefront.  Last night I received one of Maya's (Ronan's Mom) blog posts where she told us of another little one lost, Teddy Berger-Greer.  My husband questioned why I read about such things before bed.  (He has really taken the loss of the baby hard.) I told him I want to give life to these little ones by knowing of their existence, by holding the images of their smiles in my heart and by doing what I can so that their deaths are not in vain.  

This week the flu came through our house and I was one of it's victims.  I became sick in the early morning Wednesday and sadly watched Jerry leave for work (He was short staffed and Christmas time is his busiest at work).  Being sick with a two year old is never easy, especially when you have the stomach flu.  As we watched Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse for the umpteenth time and Max made a trampoline out of me, I actually said a thankful prayer that Max was better and that all I had was the flu.  I knew it could be so much worse and that in a few days we all would be better and life would go on and I knew that others were not as lucky.  

Tonight I imagine many of us will say a prayer for all those mourning the loss of a loved one.  We will hug our babies a little tighter and not let them go quite as quick.  I know for me I am already feeling sad because I have to say good-bye to my Sage and Saxton next Tuesday as they fly across the country to see their dad.  This will be our first Christmas apart and even as I type the tears begin to fall.  I remind myself that I will get to see Savannah and Sam on Christmas night and  that on January  2nd we will all be together again.  I remind myself that I am so very lucky to still have them in my life and that my good-byes are not forever.  I remind myself it could be worse.  Then I make myself another promise to put everything in perspective and to not let the loss of these angels be for nothing.  I promise in memory of them to love a little harder and try a little more to be a better person, a better friend and a better mom.  

My prayers and thoughts with all those in Connecticut, with the family of little Teddy and all who have lost someone to the horrible evil called Cancer.  I look up to the heavens and know that God is sadly welcoming some new little angels tonight.   

Footprints in the Sand

One night I had a dream...
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand;
One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before us,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
There was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious
child. I love you, and I would never,
never leave you during your times of
trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."*

*This poem is not my own.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's been one of those days.

After a great night last night at the Point Defiance Zoo Lights (the kids loved it!), today started off pretty uneventful.  My husband's snooze alarm went off at 5:30 and he only re-snoozed it a few times.  His current wake up song, "Don't you wanna stay," will never be the same for me again, right now it's my nemisis.  I just don't have his talent of falling back to sleep in a micro second after hitting snooze.*

Time to get up, dress Max and drive the kiddos to school.  Today I was able to get a circuit class in at the YMCA before Max's swimming class.  I guess I should say I was able to get my behind kicked.  Then Max actually rocked swimming this morning and is now trying to solely swim under water.  He is amazing and just loves it.  One of my favorite things is to watch him stand with his little toes on the edge, count to three with me and then launch himself several feet into the water.  We even got a few minutes in the toddler pool where he makes me a nervous wreck because he has no fear and just dives into and now under the water.

After showering we headed home.  I didn't have any change today for fruit snacks, which I am actually thankful for now. (You'll see why soon.)  Anyway, when I walked in the house I smelled something awful and very recognizable... poop.  Puppy had gotten into one of Max's raunchier diapers and torn it into pieces in the the kitchen by the back door.  There was poop diaper all over and pooped smeared onto the rug.  Nice puppy, nice.  So I cleaned that up, and sent Puppy outside.  When she came back in I leaned down to wipe her off and smelled... poop.  She had rubbed her neck all over the diaper and had crusty baby poo on her.  So off to give her a bath.  Max helped and made sure to scold her for making a mess.

After nap time, Max and I headed to get the girls from school.  We were a few minutes into our drive to go get Brayden when Saxton exclaimed, "Max threw up everywhere!"  Sage confirmed it and I pulled over so I could assess the situation.  Just as I turned around to look at him he started to puke some more and was officially completely covered in yuck.  Poor baby.  (Here's where the lack of fruit snacks in the mix comes in.)  I quickly called Jerry at work to let him know I couldn't get Brayden and drove home with Saxton's face out the window (she was in her seat belt) and a little boy with a sad lip puckered out.

When we got home, I took Max carseat and all, out of my car and onto the driveway where I pealed him out of his seat, stripped him and brought him inside for a bath.  There was such a mess that I just left his clothes outside. (The girls were kind enough to hose both his seat and clothes off.  The gross part was seeing the birds eating it later.  Sorry, maybe tmi?)

The rest of the afternoon and evening went by in a blur and I had to watch everything Max ate and drank after he snuck some juice and threw up again.  At least I was smart and he was wearing a bib, so I didn't have to completely change him again.  Must note funny quote of the night, Max had several icky diapers and Brayden went to go smell Max's butt to see if he had produced again.  He looked at me and said, "I can't tell, it smells like butt rash."  (He meant the diaper rash ointment)  I had to laugh.

Now I sit and wait.  I took everything but his blankets and one bear out of his bed (he had many friends in there.) and prepared for bed changes in case he got sick again.  My prayer is that he is better in the morning and the buck stops there.  That's my hope and prayer.  We'll see if it's my reality, especially since now my stomach is talking to me.  It just might end up being one of those days.

*Side note, my honey has now changed his song to "Ho Hey!" by the Lumineers as a back lash for knocking his snooze alarm.  I just looked at him and said, "I love that song."  He laughed and said, "not for long."  Touché

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Love is Love: My view on Same Sex Marriage

I grew up in the Midwest in a conservative household in Northern Indiana.  My parents raised me Catholic and made sure we went to church every Saturday or Sunday.  If you are going by the definition of traditional marriage my parents fit the bill.  However, if you want to discuss the "sanctity" of marriage, this same traditional marriage included the terms; infidelity, disfunction and ultimately divorce.  Unfortunately, at that point, as well as during my own divorce, any argument that there is some special sanctity between men and women is ludicrous to me. 

Today in Washington Same Sex Couples were able to legally marry.  On the news tonight they showed one couple had been together for sixteen years and were finally able to become newly-weds.  In my opinion, good for them, they deserved for this day to finally come to fruition.  As I continued to watch the segment, I couldn't help but think of a few of my friends back in New Mexico who have also been with their partners for many years.  They have been one of my favorite examples for love, loyalty and true partnership.  

Love is love in my eyes.  This is my opinion.  I have found that both true heartache and true love do exist, I just don't think it is for any of us to define, nor put stipulations on it.  Just allow it to be.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's like riding a bike...

It's like riding a bike.  That's what I thought of while taking a spin class at the YMCA yesterday. At one point I closed my eyes and I felt like I was back at the Fort Collins Club getting my ass handed to me.  The instructor was great and the music choices were perfect.  I hadn't taken one in quite a while and I loved it!  

A few nights ago, while Jerry was massaging me (no funny business... promise) I began to do something almost subconsciously, I imagined the bike ride from my old house in Colorado to school (CSU).  Along the path and over the bridge and past the firehouse I went.  My mind has come here before, several times, almost in a meditative state.  Those bike rides were my saving grace during my last semester and throughout my months in Fort Collins.  I found my sanity on that path and It is funny that is where my mind goes sometimes when I am relaxed.    

When I moved to Washington, one of the "things" left behind that I truly mourned, was my bike.  Jerry knew this and Christmas 2010 he bought me a one, although now I must admit I take his when I am able to bike alone, his bike rocks!  In the warmer months I pull Max in a buggy and even get the kids to come along sometimes for a trip to the store or as alternative transportation to school.    

Anyway, last year about this time I began to bike again, and now one of my favorite things to do is to jump on my bike and just go for a ride.  I listen to my music and take the opportunity to think, about everything and anything.  Often times while I am biking I come up with blog posts, unfortunately most of them don't come to fruition, it's hard to type and bike after all.  And at least once during a ride, I stop and take pictures, trying to capture the sky, the changing trees or recently I took a shot of a trash can.  It was  placed at the merge of two paths and the symbolism that jumped out at me was the opportunity to dump your "garbage" before moving on in a new direction. 

For me exercising is a necessity.  The ability to get outside or at least get my heart rate up, allows for me to relax and have the ability to listen to what my heart and mind are trying to say.  I think I have made most of my major decisions while walking, hiking, biking, running or roller-blading.  Maybe God has easier access to me or the trees whisper the answers while I go by, I am not sure.  But if you are struggling with something or your heart is aching, go outside and allow God to make a rainbow from your tears.  


"If you're sexy and you know it clap your hands!"  I looked around my Zumba Class at the YMCA and all hands on deck were clapping, including mine. 

This blog is dedicated to all the ladies (and gents) who choose to lay it all out there and shake what their Mommas gave them.  I am also dedicating it to one lady in particular, who reminded me today to not take life too seriously, that age is just a number and sexy isn't held only in the body of a size four, twenty year old.  Instead, I believe that sexy comes in all ages, shapes and sizes.  Hey! After all, it takes a little junk in the trunk to make a booty shake!  

This dedicated lady was probably in her early seventies, wearing a pink polo and loose fitting blue Capri's and blue socks. She knew nothing of rump hugging yoga pants or fancy sports bras, and she didn't care to! She whooped and hollered more than anyone and the smile on her face was so contagious.  Near the end of class she became my hero for the day when she even gave a few of us knuckles.  God bless her positive energy and youthful spirit.

These days our looks are becoming the sol definer of who we are.  There are more creams and procedures then I can count to "fix us" and make us look younger than we are and prettier than our peers.  Even I am guilty of worrying about my body.  After five babies and six years if nursing, my hardware is definitely showing some wear and tear.  However, after today and my Saturday Zumba experience, I pledge to love myself more and judge my body less.  My bridesmaid dress may or may not zip up in a few weeks, but hey! that's what safety pins are for.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Witnessing a true heartbreak.

Today as I watched a mother and father bury their beautiful nine month old baby, I became a witness to the worst kind of heartache. The most wrenching part, was being helpless to do anything about it.

It doesn't matter if you know someone well, or just in passing, watching another mother have to close a casket and say goodbye to her baby, is to truly witness a heart break. Such a tragedy is any parent's worse nightmare and I just wanted to take away all her agony and somehow bring her baby back.

Throughout the entire service, burial and reception, I tried to think of the right thing to say. Instead, while words eluded, the tears did not. The service was a full Catholic Mass and included beautiful songs and readings that made an attempt to give guidance.

However, the part that really struck me, was during Mass, on two different occasions, the sun came through the window and shined bright and warm on the little one's picture that was on the program. I had it laying on the pew next to me and looked at it several times throughout the service. But during those occasions, when the sun hit his face just right I could see the sparkle in his eyes and something told me he was alright, happy and already safe in heaven. On the inside of the program were the words to "You are my Sunshine," and because those words are special to me as well, I believe that this message, via sunshine, truly did mean something.

Throughout the remainder of the afternoon, as the clouds won their battle and the rain began to fall, I wished there was someway to give them their sunshine back, I wished more than anything for such a miracle. After all, I am a mother and the love you have for your babies is like nothing else. The most I could do was to take all the emotion of the day and bring it home, to find appreciation in the fragility of life and to hug my own little ones until they made me stop.

All my love and prayers for the family and friends of the angel laid to rest today.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Monsters gonna get me.

Tonight we were putting Max to bed and he was saying he was scared of the dark. Dad opened the door and we tried to settle him down and we both walked out.

He called to me to sing one song, so I went in and tried to comfort him and started to sing "Oh Danny Boy". At one point he said to me that he was scared of the monsters. He said the monsters were going to get him and then he made a growling- raahhhrrr sound and said they are "going to bite me head off." I almost couldn't believe it. I told him no, there were no monsters and asked him who told him that, he said Saxton.

After much coaxing and including Sage and Saxton in the process, we were able to get him to go to sleep, almost an hour past bedtime.

We had to have a conversation with Ms. Saxton about being careful with what she tells him, because he's smart and has an amazing memory. So while I know she didn't mean any harm, her little technique of threatening monsters in order to keep Max from certain areas, had now kept him from slumber.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

... You make me happy when skies are grey.

This morning I woke up to the sweetest text message from my Savannah. Reading her kind words reminded me how lucky I am to have this amazing person in my life.

Just a few days ago she had also told me something that truly warmed my heart. We were talking about Christmas and she said she had been asked what her list was. She responded that she was already getting what she wanted, both of her parents on Christmas, her dad in the morning and me at night.

Just typing this brings tears to my eyes. For she is a teenager after all and I know there are "things" she could put on that list, but we were more important than any "thing."

Ever since Savannah was a baby her special lullaby has been "You are my sunshine." Today's post is a line from our special song and is meant to remind her how happy she truly makes me. I have been through some truly grey times, but Savannah has always brought sunshine to my life and for that I am truly thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feels like home to me.

Friday, as I was driving to Chamber's Bay I realized how my whole body began to relax at the idea of being near the water.  I smiled as Puppy sat up and began to look out the window in excitement. We parked and I got Max all settled in his pack on my back and we headed down the hill towards the water.  Being there felt like coming home.  Somewhere along the way I had taken ownership of this place and it has become a little niche in the world that I fit into perfectly.

I have always loved the water, especially the ocean.  There is something about being on the shore at the point where the land meets the sea.  I love knowing that I have come as far as I can, I have reached the end of the road.  For over three decades, I had struggled and searched, feeling lost and out of place.  So it is an amazing feeling to have finally found a place where I am able to finally feel peace.

Years ago my father and I were taking  a walk in New Mexico along the Bosque that runs parallel to the Rio Grande.  It is one of those memories I hold onto so that I don't completely lose him (he hasn't spoken to my siblings or I in over three years.)  We were talking about the feeling of wandering and he told me that it is the Irish heritage in me that makes me wonder what is over the next hill, that encourages me to explore.  I believe this quality has given me the courage to search for a place to call home and I have faith that I have finally found it. 

Home for me is the sea.  My heart opens up, my worries fade away and a calmness overcomes me.  I remember one day during our honeymoon, Jerry and I were at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.  We spent the whole day in the water and at one point, I swear I was so relaxed while floating, that I actually began to sleep.  It was as if my soul had been searching for this place my whole life and had finally found it, finally found true peace.  

I have thought a lot about this experience, even felt guilty that it was such a solitary one.  I am a mother, a wife and my children, husband and family are where I draw my happiness from.  However, this was different, this was my inner soul, the part that needs to be still, at peace and nurtured in order for my heart to be whole.  Floating out in the middle of the Caribbean sea, is where I was finally able to begin to heal, almost like magic, scars that had formed as a result of years of pain and heartache began to disappear ever so slightly.  I remember feeling the urge to do something crazy, and I decided to swim in my birthday suit.  We had walked quite a ways down the beach (which was private anyway) and there was no one around.  I was free figuratively and literally!  If you have never done this, it is an experience that everyone should have at some point in their life.
Life is hectic, we are constantly on the go almost as if someone is pushing us here and there and not allowing us to stop.  I believe it is important for us to have a place that gives us the illusion that time is standing still, where we feel content and at peace.  If you haven't found your little spot of heaven, I am encouraging you to do so. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A mom's life and her potty mouth.

A quick walk to get the mail turns into a toddler's stroll, as the presumed wagon rider becomes the wagon puller. Leaves that might get stepped on and passed by without a second thought, get exclamations by a two year old, "big leaf!"

My day begins most days when my boss wakes me up. Today it was with a start and earlier than usual. I have to admit that while leaving the warmth of my bed is sometimes a struggle, this morning it allowed me to get an early start on my chores. I was able to strip sheets, remake a bed, start laundry, load the dishes, help make a lunch and fix a few flights to save a few bucks all before taking Saxton and our neighbor Ty to school. (Sage has band on Tuesdays and Fridays before school and rides the middle school bus.)

After dropping off the kids I headed to the grocery for a few things and a few shots. Hopefully my sore arms were worth the possibility of avoiding the flu and whooping cough. Then home to get the dog and take her to get groomed. Max sweetly told me that he "missed suppy (puppy)" as we came home after dropping her off.

I spent the next hours unloading dishes, cleaning the floor, making some calls for work and visiting with Savannah on the phone.

Before I knew it, it was time to wake up Max and head to pick up the girls. It was raining cats and dogs so traffic was slow. Then over the hill and through the woods and past the pumpkin fields to get Brayden. Back up the hill and off to the Doctor we go (went). I waited to the last minute to inform two little girls they had a physical and all four of my littles had the glorious excitement of getting a flu shot! Yeah! (I don't do the nasal mist vaccine because it's live vs the shot, which is dead.)

The doctor's was interesting. I had to hold down my poor little Max and kiss on him through his shot. Mr. Brayden required a treasure chest toy bribe for him to get his. (Oh and with a little help from the nurse who gently threatened calling in reinforcements to hold him down.) The girls were next, so I had to coax Brayden into the waiting room to do homework so that the girls could have privacy. Max wandered between the girl's exam room, the treasure box and Brayden's homework table. We left with a few extra treasures and some band aids.

Next it was a stop at the music store to get Sages band book and then back to Petsmart to pick up puppy (who is somehow missing half her tail fur). Additionally we also wound up with a new fish, a Beta who Savannah named Angus. (Oh, we also helped her study for her history test while we drove across town and back times ten.)

Home (thank you honey for making dinner.) Then a devide and conquer as Jerry took the younger three to get Max and Brayden a haircut (where they cut off too much of my baby's hair!!!) and I headed to the YMCA with Sage. I shook my tush in Zumba and then landed on my face while playing soccer with Sage's team in their last practice of the season. It was a take no prisoners match up between a few dads, me and over a dozen fifth and six graders. On the way home (after a stop at Mcy D's for a cone and apple juice) I asked Sage if she had fun, she said yes, she did, except for my potty mouth. I sheepishly agreed that I did let a few choice words fly, all in the name of fun.

As I sit here and single finger type on my phone (my computer has been down for some time now) I reflect on my day. It was hectic and full of color, but we survived with only mild battle wounds and a mild case of mommy potty mouth.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Are you kidding me?!? You want to Secede?!?

When I saw on Facebook today that there were several states that were looking to secede from the United States because of the election, i literally exclaimed, Really?!? Are you kidding me?!?

To me I think that sounds like a bunch of spoiled brats who didn't get there way, so they want to take their ball and go home. Wow, we really have become an ungrateful nation. My kids have to listen to me tell them all time, how lucky they are that they were born in the United States, maybe the whole country needs a talking to.

If you think you have it so bad, go to Uganda. Look at the kids with chiggers eating their toes and flies eating at the wounds on their heads. Watch as every thirty seconds a child dies of malaria. Walk the five, ten plus miles with the children as they go to school (if they're lucky!) There are no ERs with sterile birthing units, only a three dollar birthing kit if you're fortunate enough to come across one. Refugees don't get a vote. They don't have rights, but if they go home they'll get raped and/or chopped to pieces by a machete. There are no homeless shelters to go to. Instead they rot in UN tents with no food. I met a mom with a four day old infant, who hadn't eaten since giving birth. My heart broke as I watched Toddler orphans wander the camp wearing rags. If you need more examples, I've got plenty.

I remember talking with my African friend Emmanuel a few days before I flew back to the US. We were talking about lawn mowers (they cut their soccer fields with machetes). He could tell I looked sad and felt guilty because of all I had. Instead of judging me or being angry, he took my hand and told me not feel bad, but that I was just lucky to be born an American. I whole heartily agreed.

I am pretty sure that my grandfather (an Italian immigrant) who was shot during WW II, is turning in his grave at the idea that there are residents of Indiana who no longer want to be a part of the US and want to secede from this great nation. Shame on you. He nearly died to protect you and your rights as United States Citizens. Have you forgotten what today is? What an insult to our Veterans.

One of my friends commented how the world was ending and God Bless us all. She lives in a beautiful house with anything she needs. The world isn't ending, your guy just didn't win.

In my opinion, Instead of crying because you lost, why not be thankful that you had the right to even play the game. Some people would die and have died, to have just a chance to get up to bat, remember that. (I'm using Baseball, America's pastime, as an analogy.)

Good Night, thank you to our beloved troops and God Bless America!

From http://m.cbsnews.com/fullstory.rbml?catid=57548572&feed_id=null&videofeed=null

All told, petitions have been filed on behalf of 20 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Ween!

Halloween night was one of those wonderful memories that you hope you're children will look back on years from now, and smile.

It has been raining here for the past several days and pouring the last two. However, just before we headed out to go trick or treating, as the sun was setting, a patchwork of blue sky appeared. The kids quickly finished their dinner and we got ready to head out.

Our neighbors came by and Max's friends Luke and Zac helped to accelerate the process of getting Max dressed in his Monster costume. In a matter of minutes we were out the door chasing the kids down as they began trick-or-treating.

First stop was my neighbors to my left, two sweet women, a mother and daughter (who the kids refer to as the Grandma's). They make special sacks for the kids and are very loved by everyone. All of the kids were so excited and we had to slow them a bit so Max could catch up, a frequent phrase this evening was Him saying "wait for Max!"

It was a surprising evening, because I wasn't sure how Max would handle all the Halloween decorations and costumes, but for the most part, he loved them! His favorite things were the pumpkins "fung-kins," he'd get so excited and just stare at them glowing. His favorite pumpkins were these blown up ones, he was trying to hug them.

The older kids were having fun going with their friends (we had Brayden for awhile until his mom came, lucky guy gets to trick-or-treat twice!) He held Max's hand at a few houses and tried to help him with his bucket, but Max wanted to do it himself. Sage held back a lot all night and went with him, but a few times he pulled his hand from her to, so he could go up on his own.

He was very friendly all night and would say "trick-or-treat" and thank you. His versions of Happy Halloween varied, but most consisted of "Happy Ween!" Other people did think he was quite cute, and I finally responded to a mom with, "thank you, I know I'm biased because I'm his mom, but he has been so cute tonight."

We ended our night by going with some of our neighbors to the next neighborhood over. The parents rushed to keep up with all the kiddos as they raced from door to door. At one point Max broke away from Jerry and I, and was chasing the kids saying, "I'm running! I'm running!" Thanks to Chris and Troy for keeping an eye out.

As the night drew to a close, the moon came up and looked so beautiful coming through the clouds, making for an awesome backdrop. It was warm and the stars were out and so were the vampires, monsters and zombie brides, all laughing, making sweet memories and having the time of their lives!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I am my mother's daughter.

Yesterday afternoon while I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I realised I was hungry. In all the hustle and bustle of the day I hadn't eaten lunch, so I grabbed a box of cereal with the intention of sitting down and eating a bowl. That didn't happen, instead I walked by the box and grabbed a handful of cereal on the fly. That's when it struck me, I am my mother's daughter! The only thing that would have been more perfect was if it was a box of Pops! (And it could have been, I have one of those in my pantry.)

I remember growing up and saying, "I am not going to be like my mom." I think every child has said that once or twice. When I got pregnant with Savannah, I am sure I thought it again. I am going to be different, I am going to be me. And I am. I am my own person. I have made my own choices, walked different paths and marched to my own beat. However, I am proud to say, I am my still my mother's daughter.

It started when Savannah was first born. My nurse in the hospital was sweet, but an awful lactation consultant. By the time I got home, I was in so much pain. Every time Savannah latched on it felt like someone was stabbing me in the chest. Then my mom arrived, took one look at me and got to work. She made me walk around with no top on, soak in the tub and use lanolin, as well as my own breast milk to help heal. After a few days I was feeling much better and so were my boobies, thanks to my mom. I was my mother's daughter and I wanted to breastfeed my baby and I did, each and every one.

I know I am my mother's daughter because I love music, all kinds. Music has always been my favorite avenue for healing. Just like my mom, I love nothing more than to put my music on and go for a walk, run, go rollerblading or for a bike ride or a hike. It is how she taught me to get through things, work things out in my mind. Through the power of music I have been able to heal.

We also both love to be outside, to plant things and help them grow. As long as I can remember, every spring my mom would plant flowers and she is still my go-to lady when I have a question about my mums or anything else. She taught me girls can mow too and how to handle the lawn. 

Today we were talking about Savannah and the boy scene. I was voicing my concerns and how I am worried about her. She let me go on a bit and then started laughing and reminded me of a few escapades I put her through as a young lady. It was right around the same time, my freshman year in high school.  I do recall giving her the run around a bit. It's kind of eerie being in that position now, we'll see how it goes.

"Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either." ~Golda Meir

Recently Savannah and her dad (my Ex) got into an argument and he said, "you and your mom always know how to bring tears into things like this..." I guess she is also her mother's daughter and I won't apologize for this. Over the years there have been plenty of times where I have cried in anger, in frustration and as a result of a deep sadness. But there have also been plenty of times where I cry because I am emotional, I'm happy and sentimental. I believe that tears can be a badge of honor, a sign that you have a heart and a soul. If my daughter's are like me in this way, I find that to be a compliment. There is a long line of sensitive women in my family and I love and respect each and every one.

My mom and I are not completely alike, we have our differences. That is the beauty of individuality. It is also the beauty of having children. I know that through the years I have had the opportunity to open her eyes and heart to other ways of thinking, including realizing her worth as a mother and a woman. As my daughter's grow up, I hope that they to will help me to see things in a new light, I know they have already made me want to be a better person.

I love my mom. She is kind, funny, thoughtful, sensitive, warm and beautiful. She has taught me about class and strength.  Through her I have learned to admit when I am wrong, that no one is perfect and to never be to proud to say I'm sorry.  My mom has taught me that no one is a stranger and never be afraid to open my heart and help someone in need.  Over the last three years I have done a lot of soul searching and have had many heart to hearts with my mom.  Together, we have helped each other get over the hurt that we have both experienced in our lives.  Our relationship is an ongoing love story and I can only hope and pray that I have that with my own daughters.  I want them to be able to say someday as I am proudly proclaiming today, "I am my mother's daughter !!!"
"Like My Mother Does"

[Verse 1]
People always say
I have a laugh
Like my mother does
Guess that makes sense
She taught me how to smile
When things get rough

I've got her spirit
She's always got my back
When I look at her
I think, I want to be just like that

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I feel weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
Because I see myself like my mother does

[Verse 2]
I never met a stranger
I can talk to anyone
Like my mother does
I let my temper fly
And she can walk away
When she's had enough

She sees everybody
For who they really are
I'm so thankful for her guidance
She helped me get this far

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I feel weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
I see myself like my mother does

She's a rock
She is grace
She's an angel
She's my heart and soul
She does it all

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I'm weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
I see myself like my mother does
Like my mother does

I hear people saying
I'm starting to look like my mother does

Monday, October 22, 2012

I heard you God, Thank you for listening.

Yesterday was a typical Washington fall day, where the rain comes and goes and when it leaves the sun comes out and warms your whole soul.  After a lazy morning and a bike ride, Jerry and I went on an errand with the kiddos and then made it home just in time for Max's nap.  The kids played and Jerry and I just relaxed.  I had been thinking all day about making a trip out to Chamber's Bay with Puppy to help get her wiggles out.  With our crazy schedule, and the fall weather moving in, her exercise time has diminished. 

So after a storm came and went and the sun showed itself again, Puppy and I headed out.  Jerry and the gang stayed back, the girls were playing and I later found out he wanted to clean the garage, a very nice surprise. :)  As I drove I actually had a pretty intense conversation with my cousin, lately we have been having more and more of these kind of talks, where you just lay it out there and get to work.  During this particular conversation, God came up.  We both discussed how sometimes doubt would sink in when it came to God and prayer.  How often times you pray for someone, something, or a situation and feel like your prayers fall on deaf ears.  It can be frustrating, it can cause your faith to be questioned.

A side conversation we had during the drive was about the weather.  When I left (the drive is about twenty five minutes) the sun was out, and it stayed out the whole way, it didn't hide it's face until I pulled in my parking spot.  I could see the wall of clouds coming the whole way and joked with my cousin about the fact that the sun would disappear as soon as I got there and it literally did.  I was bummed, having brought my camera* and hoping to get some shots of the sun setting.  Instead, big grey clouds billowed out over the water.  Then just as I was heading on the path down the hill with Puppy, and saying good-bye to my cousin, the sun squeezed through one last time and shined like a spot light on a passing ferry.  I told my cousin about it, sent her a picture.  God was letting me know that he was listening, but that I still hadn't gotten his message yet.
 Puppy and I continued to head down the hill and towards the dog park, our first stop.  She was so excited that I let go of her leash and watched her high tail it to the gate.  Even with the impending storm there were a few dogs playing and Puppy was able to run and enjoy herself for quite a while.  Then the rain drops started to fall, big and filled with purpose.  I guess at that point Puppy and I could have headed quickly up the hill, out of the rain and home.  But instead I was drawn to the water, towards the storm.

As Puppy and I walked towards the beach, we passed others heading to their cars.  I didn't even think about turning around, even as the wind picked up and the rain came down with pelting force, we kept going.  As I crossed the bridge/pier and headed to the stairs that would lead me to the water I saw a couple dressed in rain coats.  They were also braving the weather with their furry friend and it made me smile to see the bright colors of their shapes walking into the along the horizon of the dark sky.
Shortly after Puppy and I arrived on the beach the storm really picked up and we were forced to take shelter up against one of the pier beams.  Soon it was hailing and the wind was whipping across the water with flourish.  I would occasionally try to to take a photograph, but the rain would pelt my lens quicker than I could dry it.  Puppy was such a trooper and I tried to hold her to me and keep her from getting totally drenched, but I don't think she really cared, she was in her element.  Soon, I was too.  Jerry had encouraged me to take his rain jacket and I was now glad I had agreed.
After the hail stopped, Puppy and I ventured out.  It was still raining, but the sun was trying to come out across the Sound and I was waiting for the rainbow that would come of it, and eventually it did.  The rain drops pelted the waves giving a gritty appearance to the water.  It was awesome, as was the sound of the waves breaking over the rocks and pebbles.  I had long since turned off my music and this was the perfect soundtrack to this unplanned afternoon retreat. (If you look closely at the picture on the left, you can see the rain coming down.)
Slowly we made our way down the beach, past the abandoned building, remains of a quarry that existed decades ago, and down to an open area of the beach.  I watched the sea gulls soar by and was amazed how they didn't fight the wind or the rain, but instead seemed to relish in it.  Time flew by and I began to feel more and more at peace as the sun slowly won out over the big storm clouds.  The rainbow came and eventually went and left behind a gorgeous sunset.  I was in heaven and took turns taking photographs with my phone and my camera.  I often would watch the sun set at home or on a bike ride and wish to be here, and I was grateful today to be having the ability to watch the sun sink into the horizon and the clouds produce their art across the sky.
I didn't do anything except watch mother nature do her best to take my breath away.  It had been a long week and I have been worried about those close to me and I was really starting to feel the weight of life on my shoulders.  I was starting to to doubt God and then I came here, came for this walk, this experience of an impending storm, the storm itself and then the gorgeous aftermath.  I had experienced them all and appreciated each for their beauty and purpose.  All of a sudden, as I was starting to head back along the beach, as I was watching the sun sink lower into the water, I understood. 
The Sun hadn't gone away when I arrived, it had only been blocked temporarily by the storm. When it finally reappeared, it was the most beautiful sight, it was like heaven on earth.  Even before the rain ceased, the sun was shining and throwing light around, through the water drops and across the waves in the most spectacular way.  The clouds that were supplying art and ample photographs, would not have been as phenomenal as they were, without first being part of the storm.  God had tested me, waited to see if I would remain even when most people wouldn't have stayed.  This afternoon and early evening were meant for me, a gift, and a parallel to what was going on in my life and the lives of my loved ones.
I have to admit as the pieces to the puzzle that God had given to me fell into place, I began to feel tears fill my eyes.  Flooded by so many emotions, I felt almost overwhelmed.  This place was already so special to me, I should have known that it was where I needed to come to hear what God had to say.  It was simple.  Have faith.  Life is filled with storms, but they will pass and in their wake they will leave something beautiful.  I could either turn around at the first signs of the storm, as soon as the rain began to fall, I could go to someplace safe. Or, I could face the storm, walk into it, head held high and wait it out, wait to see what beauty the storm produced.  God has been listening all along, I just had to realise it, and have faith that he knows best. 
As I gathered pebbles for my collection and carefully picked and threw rocks, my prayers came with flourish.  For the first time in a while, my soul was calm as I was filled with the peace that God was hearing each and everyone and he was holding them in the palm of his hand.  They may not be answered today or tomorrow, but I now had a new found belief that they will be someday and I will continue to weather the storm until that time comes. 
*All the pictures in this post were taken yesterday while I was at Chamber's Bay.