"We're all just walking each other home." - - Ram Dass

Friday, December 30, 2011

Five Minute Friday: This New Year, Open.

This week's word: Open

One only has to converse with a child to know that they wholly embody this word, "open"

Open with their distaste for bedtime and broccoli.

Open with their opinions on your dress, hairstyle or anything else for that matter.

Open with their love, affection, and, unless your my 3yr old daughter, their kisses.

Open with their tears, streaming down letting you in to their soul that has had a little shaking, for they do not break in isolation.

They are brave enough to do it before others.

Being open is not something I am particularly good at. I tend to calculate thoughts, emotions, responses subconsciously before I even recognize I have taken in information.

I make lists in my head, plans {ha!} as to how something will go, and reasons to do or not do as they fit in my comfort zone.

I am learning to lean into the open.  Some of the best moments of my year have happened when I have allowed myself to be open to plans that are not my own, and with people, right where they are assembly required.

This includes allowing myself to be vulnerable. To show there are days and scenarios that hurt. There are people and situations that call for open celebration. Even to allow myself to write on a public forum, new, and not without its set of self-doubts and self-risks.

I can think of no greater resolution for 2012 than this. To remain open to what life may bring.  Process it within the moment, and with others.

To do life together.

{please join's so much sweeter with friends}

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I like big books and I cannot lie...

source: pinterest

See this bag right here? It cracks me right up.

I want this bag. In fact, I may plunge right on in to the dramatic and state

I NEED this bag.
Since I could read, I would read. Spring break road trip in 6th grade found me spending the 12 hours in the car devouring Gone with the Wind. Senior spring break found me with my bikini packed, along with my adored copy of An American Tragedy

My family knows that where ever I went, a book is surely tucked neatly inside my bag/purse. After moving my book collection 4 times in 2 years, my husband got smart and bought me a Kindle. (the great moral wrestle I had with myself to get a Kindle is another blog post entirely. I have come to be at peace with the fact that I can love both...)

Anyway, since graduating high school I have read on average 40 books a year.  And kept a list of the running titles in a little black book very similar to ones my other friends kept their dates numbers in.

This year, I felt myself slowing. Between going to school part time, work full time, raising the littles, and trying to talk to adults once and awhile, I have not read as much in 2011 as is normal for me...and you know what? I feel ok with that too.

When I saw the Nester open book listings, my heart soared, and knew I needed to throw my hat in the ring because I love recommending books to people, and matching them with titles I feel will suite them. A literary match-maker of sorts. Don't worry. I'm used to being looked at like that.

So while I don't have a mountain of books from 2011 to recommend, what I do, I believe in, and can't WAIT to hear what others recommend as well. (week long cruise coming up in less than 3 weeks? Meet happy reader with no kids to look after, and a pool chair with my name on it to curl up with some fab. new suggestions. Perfect.)

Crosswicks Journals  This consists of four books (A circle of quiet, The summer of the great-grandmother, The irrational season, and Two-part invention, the story of a marriage) by Madeleine L'Engle.  Every great while a book comes up to hit you exactly when you need it to.  A Circle of Quiet did just that.  It forced me to quiet. To reflect. To take inventory. To take myself a little more seriously, and a lot less seriously all at once.  To anyone wrestling with throwing your words out there, into the great wide world, in written form or otherwise, you should read this. The rest are good too and recommend them all.  I now just refer to her as Madeleine, because you know...we're friends.

One Thousand Gifts: a dare to live fully right where you are by Ann Voskamp. I have always been drawn to simplistic beauty. Wildflowers will always move me in a way that roses can't. Give me the lake to the ocean, a cottage in the woods to a highrise any day. This book appealed to me in this way, and kept me by the challenge and wonder of finding beauty all around me. Washing hair, making lunches.  It's there. Ann reminds us of that.

Cutting for Stone: a novel by Abraham Verghase.  This is just a full out, great, take you there novel.  Full of complex and rich characters and exotic lands, it always took me a second to realize when I looked up I was still in fact, in Wisconsin.

A Girl with a Dragon Tattoo Trilogy and The Help all good books too, although, I'm sure you've heard a little something about these before :)

Next on my list...

Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons From My Grandmothers by Adriana Trigiani.  I cannot wait to read this.  If you haven't read anything by Adriana, you should.  The only author that I buy her book immediately upon release, or preorder.  Her books are like mini-vacations with a binding.  Stories that refresh and endear you.  Others of hers: Lucia, Lucia, The Big Stone Gap series, The Queen of the Big Time to name just a few.

What are your favorites?
Please, please, please let me know of recommendations. 
I love to hear of new books for me to discover!

Oh, and Dear Family....
Feel free to gift me the before mentioned bag.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Making Christmas

For the first time in 28 years, Christmas was up to me.

My parents and brother were spending it in Minnesota, the place I was born, my spirit country, and where just recently, I had the most fantastic time.

So, as dusk settled in, my heart hurt just a little for the want of them, and for the place my Christmases were born.

While in our movie nest, watching A Nightmare Before Christmas (got to love a 3 year old daughter who enjoys Tim Burton and Bing Crosby with the same religious fervor.) We got to iChat with all of our Northwoods family.

Gleaming even in cyber space, were the faces I love, gathered together in the place of my haven.  And as I watched little cousins Noah and Owen show each other nick-knacks received, and how to beat the next level of Angry Birds,

my heart knew.

This. right now. Is their Christmas in the making.

when they are grown and gone, these are the nights they will speak of and the moments that will forever define the celebration.

As Owen prayed over the meal, thanking God for the food, his family, love, and for joy.

I knew my soul needed to search no further. 

And it danced quietly by Ava, pirouetting in the candle light.

As my husband cooked the traditional Norwegian pudding, to perfection, like no other Italian boy would,
I knew then my bones had settled into my home.

As the kids added a hearty one part glitter to one part oatmeal, and sprinkled it along our walk way for the reindeer,

I felt the weight of being in charge of their memories.

...then I saw these faces

And I knew we were doing just fine.

As Jason helped me up from my wrapping sweat-shop; munching on Santa's cookies, smelling faintly of Chocolate milk...(after all, O is SURE Santa gets tired of plain milk, and we want him to remember our house the most); and we walk up the stairs lit only by tree light, trying to miss the creak in the middle of the 3rd stair,

I knew that this night... was enough.

(also, a great treat for me. Emily from Chatting at the Sky selected my post for one of her ten favorite blog posts of 2011~ you should really read the others selected as well, just opened up a lot of great writers to me.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

{These are} The Magic Hours

These are the hours when pain gives way to pleasure.

When those long sleepless nights
give way to tall tales by tree light
the weight of his 5 years pressing on you
as he throws his hands wide
and his voice sparkles and cracks
with narrative

And a toddler arm drapes around
your neck as she drifts,
sleep dancing across her eyelids
as her body sinks into
the night.

These are the hours filled with past treasures and future dreams are imagined.

When we sit frozen
drinking in frame by frame
his presence. his voice. his spirit.
captured by a 6 year old's unsteady hand.
Fresh tears are shed as our very limbs ache to hold him
and laughter bubbles from the assurance to see him as our hearts remember.

And in a single click we stare at each other,
incredulous...we finally booked it -
a week away, just us. 11 years best friends, 7 years man and wife.
and while we tuck beneath our tired and worn sheets,
and our heads rest on familiar pillows,
we whisper of the new places we are going, our new life yet to discover.

These are the hours when past hopes fall away, and the present is undone with limitless love.

When you believe with everything you have
that the best is yet to come
because the road has risen to meet you,
and you carry the weight of your past
as knowledge, instead of pain.

And you kneel with your son who's weeping
because the man at the restaurant tells him
no balloons today, because of a helium shortage...
He's weeping not just for the lost prize, but as he puts it,
"for a world with no more balloons."

These are the hours that dance and delight, that wonder and imagination take flight.

When 3 year old girls
give way to sugarplum fairies
and with every twirl of her purple tulle skirt and pointed toe,
we are all pulled out of the kitchen of present
to an exotic land of decadence and mouse kings.

And chairs, blankets, and stuffed friends
become the best kind of puppet stage
while tinkling laughter washes over us all
due to elementary school humor
and objects appearing from thin air
behind ears.

These are the hours that make the years fly, folding us into life with grace and love.

For these~ these are the magic hours.

(Linking with Tuesdays Unwrapped, Just write, and darling Emily at Imperfect Prose)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

VIP Christmas cards

so my grandma sent a nice card to Ava for Christmas...too bad "Nana" isn't receiving credit for it :) "goochy-goochy-goo!"


Friday, December 16, 2011

Five Minute Friday: On this New Shore

This week's word: Connected

We sink into the night,
jammies on,
 blankets pulled tight,
 piled in until the couch may burst.

and have no greater desire
than to order in
and watch Christmas movies,
or really nothing at all.

we sit together
breathing in the quiet
contentedness that is family.

when did this happen?
this ability to exhale
and draw in the air of the present?

it seems like for months now
we have been under water,

fighting our way through the current,
churning wildly through

gasping for breath
as the next wave hit.

trying desperately
 to grasp hands
under the surfaces
deceptive angles.

But find each other we did.

Emerge to dry land, we have.

And while we may be
from the fight,

we find ourselves in new form.

our edges worn smooth
from the tide.

our voice stronger
from the labored breath.

our fingers joined tightly together,

our hearts dancing in the peace found
on this new shore.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Undaunted Faith

With Owen losing his second tooth, and the obscene amounts of mama pride I felt for something I had no part in,

it made me think of  a Jesus, two teeth missing, gap tooth beaming at his mom.

Mary must have wondered looking into his face,

"there's got to be more to this. This child is not strong enough to carry the world."

We get the God perspective when we read Mary's story. 
We know each time we read what contribution she makes,
what contribution He makes.

But staring at her son,
knobby knees, tripping over his feet as he races off to play with his siblings -

She must have felt let down. Wondered out loud:

"I thought he was destined for more."

Besides that one angel's greeting; Mary did not get reassurance that what had happened to her was valid, fruitful,
or would produce what was fortold.

Each day as Jesus ate her out of food,
as his neck thickened and his shoulders widened with the effort of his father's trade,

did not her mother's soul cry for the injustice that for her son,

she had been promised more.

Her soul knew he was more than
calloused hands
dusty beard
steady gate

She had borne the disownment.
The utter abandon and wild seeking eyes of Joseph when he learned her news.
She carried through that night on the blood soaked hay
because the angel had told her

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the most High."

Instead, it was only his mama's heart he touched as he squeezed her hand in thanks.
When in excitement he scooped her up fully in his becoming man embrace.

Yet, when she looked in his eyes, she knew.
From the moment of his conception she was steadfast in her devotion.

Did this not anger her all the more?

And as the years pass, and she heard tell of him becoming the man she knew him to be,

did she not crumble as she stood below his broken body.

as she watched vinegar pass to those lips
that used to seek nourishment at her breast.

that head, now adorned with bloodied thorns
that she once cradled in her lap.

Did not her inner soul rebel against her maker?
that deceitful messenger
that promised redemption
a savior of men.

Where were those wise men
and their gifts of gold?

Where was the star that shone
and brought those shepherds to their knees?

The skies darkened
while his broken cry rang out.

As he lifted his eyes to heaven.
She waited.

She had faith in her Son.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesdays unwrapped: All I want for Christmas

Is my two bottom teeth :)

See that right there?
That little boy a tad disheveled from a day at school
fresh glory and a
teany bit gory
sans tooth he just lost?

He's growing up.
And I'd say it's breaking this mama's heart,
except, it's not...
it is.
all at once.

That little man is also reading sight words
and writes important things down in
his journal.

He can count all the way 'til...
I make him stop

for just...

He has friends.
Most of them girls.
He earns tokens for listening well at school.

He has learned almost every
Christmas Carol
that he sings in the
warbling key

He uses words of encouragement
he's learned in class
on his mama.

He tells me I am good at almost everything
I've got great hair.

He's got skinny little scapulas.
When he's tired, he wiggles his buns.
His earlobes are
on Earth.

He tells me he's got a headache because
his brain
gets a little scrambled
from all that

He walks upstairs everytime little sister
needs to use the potty;
"Cause he's tall, and someone's got to
turn on the light
so she's not scared"

He makes inventions like this:
Because he's smart.
 Because he dreams.
  Because he wonders.

He's my peace on earth.
(linking up for the first time with Tuesdays Unwrapped where we take the day, whatever it holds, and look for the gifts.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

five minute friday ~ Soul trees

This week's word: Color

As I pass by the glow of the trees in each child's bedroom, 
it occurred to me how the colors of each tree captured so much about them as people: 

Ms. Ava's tree is as she would say, "fancy nancy":

 a tree that is all flash, glitz, excitement.  
Her pink tinsel tree is adorned with feathers, glitter and a sense of style that screams past her three years, and all of my twenty eight years combined.

But...then again, so does she

Mr. Owen's tree is about as traditional as they come:

red and green, nutcrackers, planes, and candy canes.
The tree speaks to every christmas past and everything that is holy and good about the season.

My sensitive son, he speaks of that for humanity.
He is the reason I have hope for things to come, and the reason I desperately hold on to what has past.

so each night, I creep by their sleeping rooms, and bask in the colors of their little souls, 
warming the night.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

just a few miles north of ordinary

skinny legs
boots mid-calf
beanie hats and jackets wrapped

Come traipsing into town...

from all over
come to smother my brother
with warmth
with strength
with love

Christmas lights shining
glowing slightly
on faces turned to songs

palpable excitement
blood bonds tightened
make present time seem suspended

squirt shots pouring
spirits soaring
sky lit bright by stars and laughter

country twangs
muppet serenades
hot toddies, food, and songs abound

all snuggled in
Bear trap’s den
raise a glass
a roast
and toasts

laces tightened
first timers frightened
glide tentatively across the ice

a trip to town
pack more food down
decked out in Ely’s finest

give faces to the people who shaped us

I’m drinking High Life
first time in my life
yet somehow, right now, it fits.

the stage is rushed
and these once acquaintances
deep into my heart right then

late night bowling
jalapeƱo pizza still smoking
pool table surrounded by the men

dance floor pumping
bodies bumping
overtaken by song and fun

cold white morning
all of us mourning
leaving behind these woods….

just a few miles north of ordinary

Friday, December 2, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Tired...The weight of this broken Eve

This week's word: Tired

With the changing of the seasons, I have felt a kinship with the barren mother of fall.

 She is bending, heavy with the knowledge of her fruit unused, foliage one sought after for shade and delight, now hang from her clenched fists by a thread.

So much death is on her breath; so much weary weight is placed on her, this broken Eve, who once was alive with possibilities, now groans under the weight of the present.

And here, my soul felt at home.  I was tired. Tired of carrying the burden for things that were once ripe, and now seeding on the ground… untouched, unwanted.

When I woke this morning, I feel the dawn air pregnant with the promise of snow, and of the promise of re-birth. 

The chill that will kill what is left of the old.
        The weight of the packed landscape that will force brokenness and endurance.
                The freedom of a snowflake changing directions in its dance with the wind.

I will unburden myself of the past, my expectations will lay on the trees bare branches that will soon be covered with a blanket of redemption.

I will wait for the breathless release of rest as the snow slowly covers me.