May 22, 2014

I've been up extra early this morning, cup of coffee in hand and prayers on my lips.  My daughter-in-law is in the hospital as I'm typing, and we are all ready to welcome a sweet new baby into our homes and hearts.  Using my "word of the week", I'm fixin' to become a grandmother!  Considering it seems like just yesterday that my oldest son was born, I must admit it feels a little disorienting to know that tomorrow he will become a father, and hold a child of his own in his arms.  Whoever said children grow up in the blink of an eye was not kidding.

Was I ever this young?  My son's first day home, almost thirty years ago...
 My son and daughter-in-law had "the bag" not only packed but in the trunk for a couple of weeks now.  The crib has been assembled, the baby clothes all washed and neatly folded, the playpen is up and the car seat is installed.  But they aren't the only ones who have been getting ready for the baby...there have been a few projects going on at my house as well!  There might be a baby gift (or two or three) waiting to be delivered...knowing me, a few books perhaps??

not to mention the banner ready to hang...will it be for a baby...

How fun to not know the sex or names!  So much to discover today!!
And last, but certainly not least, we will need to put the right sign on the door!  Not our actual front door, but the cross stitch front door that I made while waiting for the birth of my daughter years ago (wow, I just did the math and realized it was over two DECADES I am officially feeling rather old and grandmotherly!) 

Can you tell what I think the baby is??
As a fun way for my husband to announce the birth to our three boys I cross stitched a "it's a girl" and "it's a boy" sign and let him hang the sign to let our boys they finally had a little sister to complete our family.  All these years later, I can't wait to find out which sign to hang tomorrow!

As luck would have it, one of the poetry sites I follow is featuring babies the month of May, and here is a charming poem that seems perfect for today.

Song for Baby-O, Unborn


when you break thru

you’ll find

a poet here

not quite what one would choose.
I won’t promise

you’ll never go hungry

or that you won’t be sad

on this gutted


but I can show you


enough to love

to break your heart

— Diane Di Prima

Happy Birth Day, my sweet grandchild!  I can't wait to say hello.

May 20, 2014

Another way to say commence...

My early years in Indiana left me with a few (charming) idiosyncrasies like my saying I'm going to warsh my hair (never did get that completely out of my system), my mother used to say she'd hot the pot when she went to warm up the coffee, and when I commence (my word of the week) to do something what I really say is I'm fixin' to start something!  So, right now European adventures aren't the only thing fixin' to commence around here!  For starters, the buds on my orchid are fixin' to bloom!  I am amazed.  I've never grown an orchid before and never, ever expected it to bloom again!

Spring has finally decided to do more than pay us occasional, coy visits and has consented to sit down and stay awhile.  It's not warm yet, it's not beautiful yet, but the perennials are coming up and the lilacs are trying to bloom and I had coffee on my deck yesterday morning before work.  That's good enough for me after surviving the winter.  Here's the view from my deck:

My peonies are up...

My delphiniums are growing...

 And this peony is really getting's budding!

 I am holding out hope my lilacs will soon look less anemic.

 My daylilies are growing a mile a minute, but what really excites me is....

My new garden arbor!  Doesn't it look great?!  I can't wait to see morning glories trailing up the sides!

Hmm....looking at these pictures from this weekend makes me realize I need to be fixin' to start weeding in earnest!  Have a wonderful day!
A Prayer in Spring
Robert Frost
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

May 19, 2014


Commencement...a beginning, a start.  I think that is the right word for this week, as so many things seem be "commencing" right now!  Last week was more of a "finale" week, as my little girl finished her final semester of college, earning her degree in Human Services.  But just as all the excitement about wrapping up school wound down, she got word that a) her wedding dress had come in at the bridal shop; b) her bridesmaids' dresses also arrived; and c) she was accepted into her first choice master's program!  And after a whirlwind weekend today she is off...commencing a long anticipated adventure to Greece and England.  So before she starts work on her master's in Transnational Human Services Leadership this fall and before she walks down the aisle at her September wedding, she is off to see the world, or at least part of it.  I am sooo excited for her!  She will be visiting domestic abuse shelters,orphanages, human services agencies, educational institutions for children with special needs, and a special trip to the Smiles of a Child organization. Her motto?  "I want to change to world."  And somehow, I know she will. 

So it's time to pack up the school books, and open up the travel guides...


Find just the right clothes that will work for both hot and sunny Greece, as well as for cool and damp London...

and make sure it all weighs less than 50 pounds!!  Master packers at work!!

 And remember how easy those pre-school braids were?  I think they will work well for international travel as well!

 And maybe Winnie the Pooh isn't the right traveling companion anymore, but have backpack...will travel!

 And so, my darling girl, may your worries be few, your heart be light, and may the world treat you well. I love you and can't wait to hear all your adventures when you return!

For the Traveler
Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.
New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.
When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:
How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
~ John O’Donohue ~

May 9, 2014

What a pleasant early Mother's Day surprise!  My daughter came home mid-week and we spent an evening curled up on the sofa watching an off-beat movie I had discovered at the video store called Austenland.  Starring Jane Seymour as a daffy English entrepreneur who hosts Jane Austen themed get-away vacations in England, the movie is about a thirty-something woman named Jane (surprise, surprise) who has a most unhealthy obsession with Jane Austen and her novels, and in particular, Mr. Darcy.  She even has a cardboard cutout of Darcy, ala Colin Firth, in her bedroom!  Jane takes her life savings and heads to Austenland, and hilarious Austen-esque dilemmas ensue, with, of course, love winning out in the end. 
My daughter and I found the movie extremely funny and enjoyed ourselves tremendously.  Since I love all things Austen (although I do NOT have a cardboard cutout of Colin Firth in my bedroom...yet) I guess it comes as no surprise that I own not one, but two Jane Austen coffee cups! I keep one at the office and one at home, because you never know when an Austen fancy might strike and I like to be prepared. 
Coffee mug in my kitchen
Displaying image.jpg
Office mug, next to my daughter's lovely senior picture.

And now I'm off to sip my first cup of coffee--hmm, which cup do I choose? 
I hope you have a lovely Mother's Day weekend!


May 8, 2014

The Man You've Become

Twenty-four years ago this little boy stole my heart.

We love you for your sweetness, your gentle heart and the way you love your family like crazy...

We love you for the joy you find in everyday life

We are, of course, so proud of all you have accomplished--you are simply an amazing person.  Smart, funny, loyal, and so very talented.  Dedicated to the craft of acting.  A devoted son and brother and boyfriend.  You love your family. You love your friends.  You strive to do what's right.  Your moral compass points true north. 

But we love you not because of all you have accomplished and won and starred in and created, but for who you are...our son.  This poem seems so appropriate today....Happy Birthday!

The Man You've Become 
by Molly Pasutti

Big wheels, hot wheels
Little trucks and cars
Skinned knees, climbing trees
Wishing on the stars
Moments may be lost somewhere in time
But the sweetest memories are never left behind
Now you've grown so fine
And come so far...

I'm so proud of who you are
The man you've become
Thrilled to share your deepest joy
To know you've found the one
For the great things you will do
I'll be blessed 'cause you're my son
But I'll always see the boy
In the man you've become

School days, sleep-aways
Driving all alone
Phone calls, shopping malls
Late coming home
It was hard to know when to let you spread your wings
When to let you got to face the challenges life brings
But you've grown so fine
And come so far...

May 7, 2014

Houston, we have a problem...

Yesterday when I was chatting with my daughter she was filling me on a term paper she was writing for one of her leadership classes.  The assignment was to examine and discuss the leadership characteristics and strengths of two minor characters from the movie Apollo 13.  She chose Marilyn Lovell, the wife of Jim Lovell (played by Tom Hanks) and (my favorite character in the movie) Ken Mattingly, played by Gary Sinise.  When my family toured Universal Studios years ago we got to see some of the movie props and the blue sky/ocean background that was used in the final scene of the movie where the capsule safely splashes down in the ocean.   

It seems like everywhere I turn lately, the topic of what constitutes good leadership comes up.  I am currently signed up for a one day "Women and Leadership" symposium in July.  My supervisor and I regularly discuss what steps we can take to become better leaders at work.  My daughter is graduating from college this spring with a degree in "human services leadership" and will begin her master's studies this fall in "transnational human services leadership".  She was also just inducted into her college chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success, and it seems that colleges as well as workplaces are recognizing that good leaders don't just "happen" but need encouragement and opportunities for growth along the way.
What makes a good leader?  With Mother's Day this Sunday, I think aspiring leaders could take a few hints from some of the wonderful mothers I know---the best mothers lead their families by example.  They communicate effectively, build consensus, show empathy and compassion and expect respect, and create a family "team" where every member feels important, where accomplishments are celebrated and creativity is encouraged.  And if you need a few pointers, I guess you could also look to my coffee cups, picked up on our two trips to NASA in Florida over the past few years!


May 6, 2014

Enjoying the little things in life are what makes life so pleasant.  After a long day at work, it might be unwinding on the back deck with a glass of wine and sharing the day with your husband, or listening to the bird calls as nests are built and baby birds are sheltered, or sipping the perfect cup of tea and enjoying a fresh scone warm from the oven.  It might be finding the "perfect" poem to share on my blog, or getting a text from one of my children that simply says "love you, mom."  Or, it might be sleeping better at night because...Jack is back!


My family got hooked on '24' when it first came out, and we've been fans ever since.  We love the characters, the improbable but exciting plots, the never stop action, and most of all, we love Jack Bauer.  Kiefer Sutherland has taken Jack's character and created a patriot who has given his all time and again to save America from her enemies, both internal and external.  The series ended two years ago, and we've been mourning the loss every Monday night since it went off the air.  But we were so excited to learn this past winter that Jack was coming back for twelve episodes.  And even better, the beginning was set in London, a city that we all love!  

So of course there is only one coffee mug that I could possibly feature today~~it's one that my daughter gave my husband two years ago for Christmas.  In fact, the coffee is done and it's time for my first cup of the day...I can enjoy both my coffee and the realization that, at least for a short while, Jack is back!

And although this poem by Sir Walter Scott was written years ago, the last line always reminds me of Jack Bauer.  Jack is a patriot who has had to endure more than any man should have to face, and who has had to do unspeakable and unforgettable things in service to his country, but still remains loyal to America.  And at the end of the day is unwept, unhonoured and unsung.

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung. 


May 5, 2014

Little signs of spring...

It's coming.  Slowly, almost agonizingly slowly, but there were definite little promises of spring this weekend at my house.   My son's girlfriend is a passionate gardener and has seeds started in my solarium:

And out in my garden my shrubs are shaking off the dreary winter and greening up...

The thoughtful housewarming gift from a friend eleven years ago just keeps on giving....I love the smell of hyacinths in the spring!

And a totally unexpected treat this orchid bloomed!  I am so excited...I faithfully watered it but never really expected it to bloom again.  And look--besides the one lovely bloom there are also three buds that promise even more beauty!