Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sunday Mornings

One of my favorite TV shows is Sunday Morning, a slow-paced, positive news show that airs on CBS.  I suppose it is a kickback to my childhood days in Nebraska, because my parents watched it then (when it was hosted by Charles Kuralt), and we all still watch it now (with its host, Charles Osgood).  It is one of those shows that I chart my week by – even choosing which church service to attend so that our family can watch the last few minutes of the show before we leave.

The articles that it features are in depth, gentle, positive, and take their time developing.  Each segment can last 8 – 10 minutes, verses stories that run a little over a minute on average on local/national news.  It deals with a broad spectrum of eras and topics, covering actors/musicians from the 50s one week, and then covering an up and coming actor/musician the next week.  It highlights trends in culture, while honoring the lost art of the handwritten thank you note.

It highlights the fine arts, including art, dance, architecture, opera, etc.  It asks its guests nontraditional questions to create a sense of depth of knowledge that goes way past their celebrity image.

While this might sound a little schizophrenic, the Sunday Morning broadcast actually creates an atmosphere that appeals to multi-generations.  In our family, it creates a touchpoint from which we can discuss influences from the past, our memories, and their thoughts about the future.

One of my favorite things about the show is the very last segment.  In the final 60 seconds of the show, they highlight a moment of nature.  This moment is filled with video shot in various places, selecting a scene upon which to observe, with the focus being animals in nature, plants, streams and the animals that interact with them, etc.  The only audio is the natural sounds created on the scene.

Our family stops everything we’re doing, cranks the volume to its highest, sits, and breathes in scenes that we don’t get to experience during a normal day.

Maybe our fascination and commitment to this segment is an indication that we live in an urban, loud, sometimes angry setting, and that we need to get out into nature more often.  But I believe that it is also because it is a source of refreshing, and a reminder that there is more in the world than just what humans have touched.  Yes, we create some beautiful things.  But there is a Creator who created some spectacular, intricate, and astounding things.

This post really wasn’t meant to be a commercial for the show.  It was a set up to explain the video link that I’ve attached to this post.  It isn’t perfectly shot, but it is my “moment with nature” that I filmed last week when we were at the ocean. For those of you who don’t live by an ocean, it is a chance to imagine the sea salt, the feel of the wind on your face, and to hear the pulse of the waves.  It is my reminder to us all that there is more beauty than what we create, there is more peace available than what we’re accessing, and there is importance in designing for ourselves moments to stop, regroup, and refresh.

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Serene Saturdays #22 – The 100th Article

This is my 100th post.  I sit and let that sink in a bit.  Writing is still a really emotional process for me.

I started this journey in January with the hope that I could capture a few thoughts, share some truths that I’ve learned, and record some memories for my kids.  I think I’ve done that.  What I’ve also been able to accomplish is planting the seed of confidence that I can write.

I really love most of my posts.  I’ve loved that I’ve been able to see life a little differently because I have attempted to capture the moments through writing.  I’ve loved having another reason to take pictures.  I’ve loved having an excuse to isolate for short periods of time and feed the introvert in me.  I’ve loved learning that, for the most part, the articles come really quickly, and that the process of writing feels natural and easy.

For the next 100 posts, I really hope that I can work on the design of the web page…I’m not really happy with how it looks.  I also hope that I can figure out a way to broaden my readership.  I’d love to feel that I’m connecting with more people.

Thanks for journeying with me this far.  It means the world to me.  Really.  You’ve been a safe group of people with whom I could practice finding my voice, practicing the art of writing, and communicating some personal thoughts.  Thanks for caring and reading.

This week I am thankful for:

* Our first week back at school being successful.  I didn’t think I could make it through a first-week without my eldest being with us, but I did.  Tear-free even.  Huge accomplishment.

* Being able to shop at Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble.  Those stores make my heart happy.

* A successful week of working out.  I’m thankful for sore muscles.

* Having successfully published 100 blog articles.  Amazing.

I pray that you reach some beautiful milestones this coming week.  Stretch yourself and see what you can do!

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Back to School

We start school on Wednesday (tomorrow).  I recognize that we’re behind the public schools around the country, but I also wanted to take two weeks off to gather what crumbs of entertainment the tourists left after they returned to work and school.

The kids and I spent our summer inside my husband’s business doing construction work, and I felt that they needed a little extended playtime on beaches that weren’t crowded, and catching up on the relaxing that they didn’t get to do this summer.  One of the many perks of homeschooling; and while I haven’t taken advantage of this perk in the past, I am playing that card this year.


I have been prepping this year a little differently.  First of all, I have one fewer student to prep for (sigh…) so the time will be dispersed a little differently.

Second of all, I am planning with college in mind.  After walking through this last year with my eldest being bound for college, I’ve learned some academic lessons. While I believe that we’ve done a good job with home education, I also have seen that there is more that we could be doing – more that I could be doing to get the kids ready for college.

Therefore, this year I am introducing homework to the kids.  I am introducing the use of a syllabus to them.  I am giving them some self-paced materials for them to complete.  I am having them take notes on what they’re reading.  All skills that should help make their transition into college easier.

I am also using their input as to what subjects that they’d like to study.  One picked graphic arts.  One picked linguistics.  One picked spelling and handwriting.  I found high school curriculum to guide them (including iTunesU – a great resource) and will give them time to study these subjects.

I also will be leading them in developing their worldview.  In an effort to be intentional (see my post Passing It Down – 9/11 Reflections), I am having discussions about values that I have, in the past, assumed were being caught by my  kids.

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”  – C.S. Lewis

In whatever way education flows through your life this school year, I hope that it fills your minds and your souls.

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Serene Saturdays #21

I hope you all had as good a Saturday as I had.  You just can’t get better than driving with your family to spend the weekend with your college daughter – getting to spend the hours together and being able to be a family of 6 again.  Life is as it should be.

Add to this scenario that you get to spend the evenings visiting with one of the dear sets of friends that moved away recently.  We are staying in their home and enjoying their sweet gift of hospitality.  Their presence is refreshment to a deep place in our hearts, and it gives us a much-needed sense of normalcy and shared experiences.

This week, I have been thankful for:

* Much needed preparation for school being made.

* Spending oodles of quality time with my elder daughter.

* Quiet evenings watching football.

* Amazingly perfect cooler temperatures.

* The hospitality of heart friends.

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Bowling 101

We found a great source of entertainment this summer.  After the onslaught of daily construction subsided, and we had a huge amount of extra time on our hands, I enrolled the family in a bowling program with AMF.

AMF is a national bowling chain with several locations in our area.  They have had a program for the past several years of providing two free games of bowling per child (16 and younger) per day.  Every week day!  It is as simple as enrolling online and printing out weekly coupons to be scanned at the AMF center.  You still have to pay for shoes, but all of the games are covered.

In our constant search for cheap/free activities to do with our family, this one fit the bill nicely.  We have spent the past few weeks bowling.

And bowling.

My kids have each become good bowlers.  I am sure not an expert, but bowling was an activity that I did with my dad when I was younger.  It brings back great memories, and was fun to pass on the knowledge that I had with each of them.  My older son is a natural, while the other 3 each needed a little coaching.

In a world where high-tech beats out the simple, and bowling is a little passé, AMF initiated a program to create a new generation of bowlers.  Bring them in for free when they’re little, and they’ll play often when they’re older.

What is neat about this sport is that it is so social.  I’m not sure how other families participate, but with our family, there is a lot of cheering on, and an equal amount of heckling.  There is a fair share of competition, but mostly that is with our own personal scores and goals.  We also laugh and laugh and laugh.

In the summer dominated by doing construction at my husband’s business, forsaking the beaches for paint brushes, it was nice to find an inexpensive way to play.

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Chef’s Table

This is the 3rd article about the cruise.

The Chef’s Table.  It was such an altering experience, I had to write about it.

Our hosts on this cruise, Shawn and Cheryl Small, arranged a special treat for us on Monday night.  They paid for our group to be the guests of the head chef as he prepared a special meal for us.

The chef’s idea of a “special meal” included a full tour of the kitchen, being handed a lovely glass of champagne, and being served 4 exquisite appetizers – all while we got to ask him questions about himself, his experience on the cruise ship, and the way food service works on the ship.

At the end of the kitchen tour, we were taken to the pastry prep section.  Laid out on the table were all of the ingredients of our favorite dessert – Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.  They gave us a complete demonstration on how to make the dessert, with Cheryl (who is an experienced chef herself) actually helping to prepare the dessert.

We were walked through the dining room like royalty, only to be escorted to the ship’s library where an amazing table was prepared for us.  There were place holders with our names on it, a customized menu of the night’s delicacies (with our names printed on them), and a ship’s photographer took a picture of all of us together.

Then the dining began.  We had a 7 course supper served to us, each with the chef coming out and explaining what we were being served.  The food was the caliber of what you’d see on a television cooking show – the kind of food that you admire, but know you’ll neither eat nor prepare in your lifetime.  Each course was presented so elegantly.  As one member of our group said, edible art.

About half way through the meal, the chef introduced the ship’s table-side magician.  He performed a full show of tricks for us for about 1/2 an hour.  We were thoroughly entertained, with lots of laughing and befuddlement.

We talked, laughed, ate, swooned, and enjoyed the chef’s company for 3 1/2 hours.  Each course being more amazing than the last one.

The grand finale was dessert.  Along with what the chef prepared for us, his assistants (a kind and efficient waiting staff) served the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake that Cheryl had helped make at the beginning of the tour!

After our places were cleared, the chef personally handed out a copy of the picture of our group that was taken at the beginning of the evening…

as well as a printed copy of the recipe of the Warm Melting Chocolate Cake.  What an intimate, classy touch.

At the beginning of this article, I wrote that this meal was an altering experience.  The reason I say that is because it was such an incredible extreme from my normal life, that it caused me to step back and realize how blessed I really am.

Only a daily basis, I am weighed down with the pressure of the world.  I wrestle with how to make our ends meet.  How to get the mortgage paid – and lately, not succeeding.    How to pay for my eldest to get to college.  I wrestle with helping my husband get his business off the ground.  Praying that I can get the girls the things they need for dance, while making sure that we have gas money.  Praying that the boys’ clothes and Boy Scout uniforms fit just a little longer so that we don’t have to buy them new things.  Nothing unique in this economy, but debilitating pressure nonetheless.

And yet – tonight I am drawn to the realization that this has been an extraordinary life.  Truly supernatural.

*I have an amazing family.
*My eldest made it through her first few days of college without us being there, and is still smiling.
*My family has traveled to so many countries that we’ve quit counting.
*I have been on 2 cruises within a 2 year time span.
*I had a seven course meal with the head chef.
*I have friends that care enough about our hearts that they provide these extravagant retreats away for us for the express purpose of making sure that we’re served and spoiled.
*We have other friends that have financially invested in us so many times that it is ridiculous, and because of them, we are still financially standing.
*I have a brand new Mac computer because a friend from college believed in my writing and paid for me to get one.

Who has these things happen to them?!?

I shake my head and say, “I do.”  I marvel at that answer, and am humbled.  My stomach is full, my taste buds completely satisfied, and my heart more full than it has been in a very, very long time.

Thank you friends.

Thank you God.

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Passing It Down – 9/11 Reflections

As the nation stops to remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I am struck with the lack of information that my own kids have received in regards to this event.  The world in which I lived changed forever on that day – but it also changed the world in which my kids would grow up.  While they see the effects daily of the events of 9/11, ( airport security, wars, governmental policy changes, uprising in the Middle East, news reports that reference that day, etc.), I didn’t realize that they really hadn’t understood what the day itself looked like.

Two nights ago, I sat with my 14 year old son to watch news footage of the terror attack.  I was caught off guard as I watched the image of the second plane crashing into the tower – not by the visual (I’ve seen it many times before), but by my son’s gasp.  It was the first time he’d seen that footage.  It was even the first time that he realized we’d all watched it live on national television.

It changed the way I watched the events of that broadcast.

Instead of personally reliving the moments, I then anticipated his reactions as the first tower fell.
Then the second tower.
I had an etched image in my brain of the clouds of debris chasing people down the Manhattan streets, and I wanted to see his face as the enormity of the situation sunk in.
I knew there were going to be images of bloody people covered in white ash running for their lives, and I wanted to make sure that he was OK with what he was seeing.

He got to hear first hand the testimonies of the people trapped in the towers, the last phone messages left by those who knew they were dying, the 911 calls from the plane that went down in Pennsylvania as the travelers realized what they had to do, and the survivors whose lives were devastated by the invasive loss of that day.

I was grateful for that broadcast, if for no other reason than to give context and an explanation as to why this event was as life-changing as it was.  It was thousands of lives lost.  But it was also hundreds of thousands of lives transformed as they rushed out of the towers, ran for their lives from a monstrous cloud of ash, stopped to help another person on the street, grieved over loved ones lost…

It changed my world, but because I experienced fully the moment that it happened, I understood.

It changed my kids’ worlds, but because they were so young during the moment, they didn’t have the “why”.   It was a good thing to share those moments with my son who is now old enough to understand.

I am determined to begin a mental list of other events that have changed our lives, for better or for worse, that we might not have fully explained the “why” behind the action.  Our story is our legacy, and we must fully and completely pass it on to our kids.  Even if those stories include one of the darkest days in our nation’s past.


Filed under Family and faith, General thoughts