Monday, April 30, 2007

Scenery, Snowflakes, Slingshots & Sunshine

View from our room... Room 861 (click image to enlarge)

Such is the synopsis of this last week of my life...a week in which I was much too tired to blog even though internet access would have allowed me to do so. I spent the last week at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada and it was a BEAUTIFUL place to be sequestered for six days.

The scenery was straight out of a marketing brochure...the window of my room providing a view so magnificent that I could have easily mistaken it for a painting hanging on the wall. The Canadian Rockies laid out before me...their snowy peaks beckoning me to ditch all event planning responsibilities and run to the hills...two large granite mountain faces framing the Rockies and protecting the scenic Bow River that snaked its way through the valley...

Each day that we were there was a glorious spring-like concoction with cool breezes and Spruce pines dancing in the warm afternoon glow. Then, Sunday morning we awoke to find no trace of mountains on the horizon. The fog had rolled in and we soon discovered what looked to be a solitary snowflake swimming in the air outside our window. Then, another. And another. Within 20 minutes time, a full-fledged snow storm had blown in and I was deliriously happy. I considered this to be the pinnacle of an already fantastic week. We southerners took delight in photographing each other as the quarter-sized flaked camped out on our eyelashes. Mule deer and elk grazed on the patches of grass behind the hotel as they turned from a brownish-green to snow-laden white.

All too soon, we boarded a passenger bus that carried us to the city of Calgary and onto the flights that would take us back to our homes. For me, it was a complete climate change as I read the weather forecast for an 85 degree day today. Armed with a hand-carved slingshot in my suitcase (which I found out was an approved "weapon" in the airline carry-on manual), I made my way home to my hubby and son. Upon arrival (at midnight last night) my son shouted "where's my surprise???" (Glad to see you, too) and I produced the slingshot which, as of today, he (thankfully) has not mastered yet.

Today was a day of glorious sunshine and summer-like activities. We practiced riding a bike sans training wheels and we played and worked in the flowerbeds. It is a day like today that reminds me what I love most about life... that familiar comfort of a little boy's laughter and the feeling that I am back where I belong this day.

There's nothing better.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Adoption of a Different Sort

I have another thing in common with my son. It just took a sermon to make me realize it.

Yesterday, after we took our seat in church, the title of the sermon flashed across the screen..."A Child Adopted." Oh my, I thought. Being adoptive parents, Keith and I automatically perked up and wondered how adoption would be woven in to the message.

The guest pastor was a young guy and, toward the end of his message, he spoke about orphans and how their lives are void of hope and a sense of they must know that they belong to someone but the desire to be chosen is a constant emotion. He went on to to mention the conditions in most orphanages--a topic we're all too familiar with-- and I suddenly felt a lump appearing in my throat.

Having visited several orphanages during two separate trips to Russia in 2004, my heart still aches for the children "left behind." Keith and I both agree that if we were financially able, we would have adopted all 120-or so kids in that facility. There was the dark haired little boy with big brown eyes that sat next to Daniel and quietly sipped his soup...not quite sure what to make of the digital camera in our hands. Then there was "Vo-Vo," a friend of Daniel's that sat meekly on my lap...the caring touch of my hand seeming so foreign to him. Remembering the desperation of many of the kids with whom we came in contact, I had an urge to jump out of my chair and race to Daniel's Sunday school room and hold him.

The tie in was so apparent-- but yet, had been lost on me until that point:

Romans 8: 15......."You have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father."

Before Daniel knew we had chosen him, he knew not the unconditional love that comes from having a parent. In his heart, I'm sure he knew he belonged to someone...all the while living life the best he knew how. In fact, I would venture to say that he really knew no different...never knew that there could be love without limits, boundaries created out of care and compassion and acceptance that knows no end.

My relationship with my God is much the same. Before I knew Him, I never knew that my mistakes were forgiven simply because I have faith in Him. In my heart, I knew there was something missing...something more...someone more... but I continued living my life the best way I knew how. And yes, I really never knew any different.

But, I now know that anyone who believes in God, and desires to have a relationship with Him, will experience that same limitless love, and Biblical boundaries and, of course, an acceptance that knows no end.

Yes, Daniel and I have a very special thing in common. I, too, am an adopted child... a very thankful one indeed.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sing...Sing a Song....

OK, so I guess I'm really enjoying the challenge of these blog surveys I have come across; only, this one is a great deal harder than the last time I bought a pillow. According to Big Mama, I am supposed to identify my favorite seven songs of all time. ONLY SEVEN? Seven hundred, perhaps. How in the dickens am I supposed to chop my favorite songs list down like that? I have at least 50 songs in every genre imaginable that I have tagged as "favorites."

Oh well, I'll at least take a stab at it for humor's sake. These are not going to be in any sort of order:

1) Fields of Gold as sung by Eva Cassidy... soothing, melodic and stirs in me emotions I didn't know I had.

2) Chasing Cars by Snow current favorite. Don't know what it is about this song, but I could listen to it over...and over....and over.... and I do.

3) Annie's Song by John Denver...yes, I said John Denver. Love him. Grew up listening to him. Who in the heck writes like him anymore? "You fill up my senses, like a night in the the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain..." sigh...............

4) The Water is Wide by Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls & Jewel.... was my Mom's favorite song and, consequently became mine. The harmonies and the it.

5) Into the Mystic by Van Morrison... the soaring chorus of this song is one I must belt out no matter where I am. It's one I should not plan on listening to on my iPod in public. It could get ugly.

there's only two more.....? Nooooooooooo...I need more!

6) Chiquitita by Abba...risking all sorts of ridicule I decided to post this one. Yes, I am a nerd. But I adore this song. My friend Cindy and I can be seen riding down the road singing this at the top of our lungs...harmonies soaring and coolness quotient dropping by the second.

7) Tie: (see, I knew I could fit more in...) Amazing Grace (Chris Tomlin's version, especially) and How Great is Our God

whew! I may have to amend the list as new ones pop in my head... I didn't really even slip into my love of 80's music (Whoop, There It Is almost made the cut!)...there are simply too many to name. What are your favorites???

Friday's Feast: April 20, 2007

Another site in blogdom I've run across is Friday's Feast. It's just a list of five little questions offered up each week...thought it would be fun to join in. Here goes:

Appetizer ~ What is your favorite kind of bread?
It would be a tie between a doughy garlic knot dripping in butter and the yummy homemade Amish Cinnamon bread that my friend Deb brought me. Mmmmmm...I'm hungry.

Soup ~ When was the last time you bought a new pillow?
This one's easy. Last Saturday at the Dollar General in Hiawassee, Georgia. I forgot our pillows when we went camping and the first night "roughin' it" without them was not so good. Mind you, I remembered to bring everything else we could ever need (smores supplies being the #1 priority) But no pillows!

Salad ~ Approximately how many hours per week do you spend surfing the ‘net?
Between blogging here, writing a blog with a faraway friend, looking up meeting space capacity charts, pulling up directions,, CNN and reading numerous other blogs by people much wittier than I... too much time. I ain't proud.

Main Course ~ What’s the highest you remember your temperature being?
I dunno really. Maybe 102-point-something?

Dessert ~ Fill in the blanks: When I ____________, I _____________.
When I get mad, I cry.
It's really not something I like about myself. Can't a girl show a little moxy without boohooing?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Happy Dance

Happy Dance, Happy Dance, Katie's doing the Happy Dance.
Finally...the real competition can begin!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It Just Gets Harder

Taps is playing in the background as I write this. The sound is coming from the TV in my bedroom as images of the Virginia Tech massacre are rehashed.

This is when the parenting stuff gets "sticky."

My son is 5 years old and is ALL boy. He loves running around the yard in pretend battles and is very imaginative when it comes to playtime. He can take any inanimate object and turn it into a weapon..sticks, shoes, etc...

Anal mommy that I am, I have always been uncomfortable with this because of the type of tragedies we experienced this week. Trying my best to balance letting him be a boy with an imagination with not wanting him to think it's OK to pretend to be shooting's really a tough spot to be in.

On one hand, if I spend too much time harping on it, I know it will only make it seem that much more appealing. "Ooohhh, I'm not supposed to be doing this...." The perceived "wrongness" of it makes him only want to do it more.

I myself am a real dichotomy... while I am an artsy, creative "free" spirit who wants to let my child express himself and be uninhibited, there is another more guarded, apprehensive side of me that seems to always be looking down the road. Is everything he does now a glimpse of what he will be like as a teenager? Or, are these actions just the actions of a little boy pretending to be a soldier or a pirate or any other harmless figure?

I know I may be taking this all too seriously. But I struggle with how to raise my son to be a gentle, compassionate human being without squelching the wonderful "rough and tumble" kid that he is.

By the way, I am STILL waiting on that parenthood manual to know, the one that tells you exactly how to handle issues like this.

Anybody got one I can borrow?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Katie's Little Addictions: #3

I love, love, LOVEEEEEE this song. Ab-so-lute-ly love it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Things that Make Me Happy...

Hearing the word "Mommy"--whiny or not, a newly opened box of crayons, enough paper in the printer, a husband who still loves me 14 years later, binder clips with magnets on the back, good guacamole, red balloons, acoustic guitar, smell of fresh cut grass, roller coasters, refolding a map the right way, being called "Aunt KK", laminating sheets, my son in overalls, chocolate brown eyes with long eyelashes, apples in a bowl, gerber daisies, mountain streams, clip art, post-it notes, strawberries with Splenda, spreadsheets with formulas that work, keeping green plants alive, campfires, John Denver music, the line from Pride and Prejudice "you have bewitched me body and soul...", getting personal mail, October, my automatic shower cleaner, the sound of the ocean, golden retrievers and tennis balls, singing Amazing Grace, Mongolian chicken, the window seat, highlighters, the word "serendipity," playing Phase 10, stars, old love letters, solving a Sudoko puzzle, grande white chocolate mocha add almond, smores, doodling while on the phone, the first notes of the Alabama fight song, Tom Hanks, Psalm 51, hot buttered popcorn, poetry and rain.

Dancing with God

~ a friend sent this email to me and it really
spoke to, I decided to share it here... ~

* * *

When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn't flow with the music,
and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
both bodies begin to flow with the music.

One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
Two become one body, moving beautifully.
Dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from
one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.

When I saw "G,” I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i". ;
"God, "u" and "i" dance." God, you, and I dance.

As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
that I would get guidance about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God's blessings
and mercies be upon you on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God as God abides in you.

Dance together with God, trusting God to lead
and to guide you through each season of your life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It Doesn't Matter...

Yesterday I sobbed.

I know, for those of you that know me pretty well, this is nothing out of the ordinary. But this was different.

I turned on my trusty Tivo to catch the Grey's Anatomy episode that I missed last Thursday. But, much to my dismay, it was from a year ago. I then remembered I had not been watching it back then so it really was "new" to me.

One of the character stories was a woman dying of cancer only she hadn't told her teenage daughter. The daughter weaves herself in and out of the scene--beligerant and impatient--never knowing that her Mom will only be a live for a short while. Of course having lost my own Mom to cancer, this was particularly poignant for me...but it went beyond that.

One of the "hot shot" doctors was dismayed to discover that the daughter had not been clued in to the extent of her mother's illness. Without going into too many details, he pretty much chastised her for not being truthful. After the mother defended herself for "protecting her child," the surgeon quickly retaliated with "if you do not tell her and you die, then she'll hate you for the rest of her life." It was a gritty scene which contrasted the difference between "white" lies and brutal honesty. Finally, the doctor came in to discover the daughter in tears sitting at the edge of her mother's bed engrossed in what she soon realized was a deathbed conversation.

This is when I began tearing up. The mother was giving the girl all the pointers that she wouldn't be able to give her after she was gone. Topics of personal hygiene and dating were tossed about before she got to the one that really got to me.

You see, I have been struggling with motherhood and walking this most challenging of paths without my own Mom there to guide me. Granted, I have my mother-in-law and my stepmother but I'm pretty sure even they would acknowledge that somehow it's not quite the same. I need to know what I was like at my son's age and how she handled my own temper tantrums and stubborness, etc. Sometimes, I feel like the biggest failure in the world and long to hear that she went through the exact same thing with ME.

So, hence my reaction to the next scene. The mother reveals the seriousness of her illness and proceeds to tell her daughter, "now here's the important one...the one you really need to pay attention to... someday you're going to have a baby. And you'll worry about what to feed him, and you'll obsess about what school to send him to and whether or not he should take piano or violin lessons...but I'm going to let you in on a little doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if your child is a concert pianist or a math genius...because all that really matters is that your child is happy........"

My sobs shattered the silence of the room and suddenly I could not contain my emotions. In recent weeks, we have struggled with some behavior issues and which school to send Daniel to...and her words could not have touched me more. It was as if my own mother was speaking to me with her hand resting on my shoulder. "It's OK, " I heard her whisper.

And suddenly, I felt that she was right.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Boy's Thoughts: April 8, 2007

"Mommy, will there be wooly mammoths in Heaven since they're all "a-stinked?" (extinct)

Easter Memories

Easter is one of my favorite times of the year. The meaning has changed drastically for me through the years, but it will always serve as a time for renewal, hope and celebration.

Although I had a Christian upbringing, I never was exposed to a depth of knowledge that my five year old has been privy to just since coming to this country. His grasp of so many Bible stories--coupled with an insatiable desire to ask questions--has put him years ahead of where I was spiritually at that age.

For me, many memories come flooding back when this holiday rolls around:

  • Shopping for white shoes and purses at Payless Shoe Source.
  • Dying Easter eggs with the little Paas dye kit using a tiny bent wire with a loop on it.
  • Dye-stained fingers and hands from dipping the eggs into a variety of containers filled with the dark pools of different colors....
  • Mom playing "Because He Lives" on the piano before church.
  • Digging for jellybeans (pink ones--my favorite!) in the bottom of my Easter basket.
  • Chloe perfume in my Easter basket every year
  • Ham, Mom's potato salad, green beans, deviled eggs...

The meaning of Easter continues to deepen as I grow older. I am grateful for Jesus and how He died on the cross to save me from my sins. I am such an imperfect person but realize that I am perfect in God's eyes because of my faith in His son. I am also thankful for blue skies and blooming lilies and azaleas and for little girls in brightly-colored Easter dresses. I delight in the eager "gotta-find-my easter-basket" anticipation of my five-year old son as we tucked him in tonight...I rejoice in the fact that I am alive today to revel in the wonder of His creation... jellybeans, egg dye, Bible stories and all............

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


At 2:30 this morning, a wide-eyed 5-year old stumbled into our bedroom--jarred out of his own slumber by a loud clap of thunder accompanied by a "light up every room of your house" kind of lightning bolt.

"Can I sleep with you and Daddy?" he asked quietly.

"Sure, climb on in, " I reply with a raspy, still-sleepy voice.

Don't you miss the days when all it took to feel safe in this world was climbing in between your Mommy and Daddy in bed?

I sure do.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior
Has ransomed me
And like a flood
His mercy reigns
Unending love.......

Amazing Grace