Sunday, June 27, 2010

God is Bigger than this Economy

Sometimes it might feel like God is billion miles away. Sometimes it might feel like He doesn't know our struggles. But, He does. He knows them all. And He is always there, ready to pick us up when we fall. Trust me. I know. Boy, how I know. I have been meaning to share this story for a long time, and today at church our guest speaker (Forestdale's Youth pastor's Father in law) spoke on this very subject. I guess that was the push I needed to finally open up.

I grew up in the church, raised by Christian parents. I spent my school years in public, private, and home school. Yea, I saw it all. But, something stuck while I was homeschooling. Something got to me. I never forgot it, and I never will. We read a whole lot when we were homeschooled. Mostly classic novels, and mostly for fun. But sometimes we had required reading- you know, those readers that have condensed stories required for Reading class. Well ours had an extra element that most readers don't have. Ours had stories about missionaries mixed in. These were the stories I loved best. I don't know why, but I always found them gripping. Perhaps because I always found the subjects had a certain kind of bravery I just did not think I had. Or perhaps what they possessed was Faith. Faith that God will protect them and that He would provide. Faith that even when things got terrifying, there was someone watching out for them. Faith in something bigger than themselves.

One story in particular sticks out in my mind. I do not remember what grade I was in, but I do remember the story well. It was about George Mueller. He was born in Germany in 1805. His youth was spent stealing and drinking, but then he met God. That changed everything. He moved to England and opened an orphanage. He never had much money and oftentimes couldn't afford to even feed the children. He never told anyone of their needs except for God and he always trusted they would be provided for. One day, as dinner time arrived and the children gathered around the table, he had nothing to feed them. Yet, he joined the children at the table and said a prayer as he had always done. Just at the moment, someone arrived at the door with food.

That story always amazed me. How George had such faith that he would be provided for stunned me. But, then I began to see this in my own life. There were times where my family was so broke we would eat whatever assortment of canned goods we got from the church's food pantry. I remember one time a bag of groceries was left at our front door. I have no idea who left them, but I remember it impacted our whole family. We always praised God for his provision. I can remember one time my parents couldn't even afford to buy milk. Any parent with children can understand the need to have milk in the house. We were at church and a family friend approached my mother and asked her if we wanted 2 gallons of milk. She said that she had bought 2 gallons, and not realizing it, so did her husband. I remember everyone feeling overwhelmed at how amazing the timing was and how specific the need was. When my brother and I wanted to go to a very unique private high school, somehow God always provided the money for tuition.

Then one day I grew up, got married, and we struck out on our own. There have been countless times we wonder how we are going to make it, and yet somehow we always manage to have food and our bills covered. Several years ago, a woman my mother worked with felt compelled to purchase grocery cards and bless families who needed it. We were struggling that year. My husband was deployed and did not make a whole lot and we were living on the economy as there was no available base housing in our area. It was tough. We were given $200 for groceries, and because of this gift were able to pay for propane to stay warm.

 Last Christmas was also particularly rough. I am so thankful for programs like Toys for Tots that take care of the kids on base. But this last Christmas we had run out of money and food. I remember feeling so helpless, but thought of Mueller and how God always took care of him. I thought of all the times growing up and how God always provided for our big crazy family. Seth and I prayed- we had nothing else to do. Then one night as a friend picked me up for music practice, she found something on our front door. On our front door was a giftcard to the grocery store. It was just amount needed to get us through to the next pay day. With the card was a note that simply read, "He knows your needs, and is faithful to provide." It still chokes me up. This was the second time God provided for us via grocery card. How could I have forgotten the first time? Only this time was entirely anomynous. To this day we have that index card on our refridgerator to remind us that God will always take care of us.

I am so blessed these days. While we might not have a lot of extra money, we always have our needs met. We live in a very beautiful area because my husband is stationed here (another God story I will share another time), and we would likely not be able to be here otherwise. We have an amazing church family, both here on the Cape and back in NH. I love them all. This is the first place where we have lived in our whole marriage that Seth and I are both happy. God is faithful to provide.

The story that the guest speaker at Forestdale shared was in 1 Kings 17. I realize that a lot of what was said was about the power of tithing, but Faith came up a lot. The story in 1 Kings is no exception. God sent Elijah to a widow who had nothing left and on the verge of death. Because of Elijah's faithfulness, the widow's obedience, and God's mercy, she and her son were provided for. This was yet another reminder that God will take care of us. If we are faithful to God, he will provide for us. In today's economy, with the stresses of money and bills, what better time than to put Faith and Trust in the One who can take care of me no matter what.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Love Summer

As I have previously written, I love summer. Many of my childhood memories are wrapped up in summer esccapades. I love that there are no serious committments during the summer and that we can do as we please and just enjoy life. I know that when I was a child I never put much thought into what responsibilities my parents may have had and I know that my children likely don't think of the ones that Seth and I have either. As it should be. Childhood is about enjoying life and making memories and experiencing as much as can be experienced squished into the period of 100 days of summer vacation. I love that these days can be spent watching cartoons and sitting in our pajamas until we are ready to not be lazy anymore. I love that the kids can spend hours splashing in an inflatable pool roughly the size of a large bathtub and they think its Christmas in July. I love that they are enthralled with the family of ground hogs that live in the garden and amazed at the next full of growing baby birds. While I love how the leaves on the Oak trees in my yard glow in springtime, I love how they shine in summer. The sound of laughter floats on the breeze, mixing with it the sounds of birdsong. Our sweet Golden Retriever romps in the grass and tries to catch various birds or play with the groundhog babies. Everyone is lighthearted and happy. I love summer. Some of my best memories are wrapped in sunshine, melting ice cream cones, and catching fireflies. I want the same for my children.
My children are still very young, but can appreciate the beauty of a blooming flower. They understand the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly and think that both are incredible. They love to pretend they are baby ducks and I am the mother duck when they see ducks at the lake. The idea that an insect can light up at night and twinkle like the stars is astonishing to them. They like to find shapes in the clouds and often wonder how soft a cloud really is. They are full of questions and wonderment and oftentimes that leads us on a quest to find out why or how. In the end, they are even more mystified and intrigued. Summer is the perfect time to explore the world and discover things, and my children always gives me fresh perspective and appreciation for this beautiful wonderful planet we live on. They have truly scientific and inquisitive minds. You mix that with their natural ability toward creativity and imagination, and you have a summer that will never be forgotten.
So while Seth and I have decided that we might not jump at the oppurtunity to camp in the forest at the foot of the White Mountains anytime soon, we do not regret going for an instant. We are looking foward to many many more adventures with our kids. We have even taken to calling our outings "adventuring" and use it as a verb. I love when my kids ask us when we will go adventuring again.
We can't wait to explore the beach for sea creatures and sea shells. We can't wait to make memories at the fair. We look forward to nature walks and learning about the different plant and animal life that shares the Cape with us. We look forward to seeing how many adventures and how many memories we can pack into just a few short months before school starts up again. Our family looks at the world in wonderment and we thank God for giving us the privelidge to live here. We treasure our time together and love exploring.
What are your favorite things about summer? What about this world amazes you? What are your favorite summertime memories?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Caron Family's Very First Camping Trip

White Lake Camping Trip

Day One- June 21, 2010

Here I am sitting in the middle of nowhere in the mountains of NH camping with my family and typing on my laptop. I suppose that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite, roughing it but not. This camping trip is pretty special, however, so I felt it would be wrong if I did not somehow document the adventure. Although I suppose a notebook would have sufficed, but I was not clever enough to bring one along. So, here I am, listening to my children’s hushed giggles as it grows dark outside, tapping away on my portable technology known as a laptop.

I woke up this morning, groggy but excited. We had been planning on going camping for several years now but never got up the courage to actually go for numerous reasons. Our children had been very young and being that we are primarily hotel vacationers, we were a bit intimidated by the prospect of sleeping outdoors in a tent and “roughing it”. I now laugh at our idea of “roughing it” as I sit here writing away and the bathrooms just a short walk away…

We hurriedly finished packing this morning before the children woke up so that all we would need to do is feed them breakfast, get dressed and go. That is precisely what we did too. I am quite proud of this, because we are known by all our family and friends as being late. I planned on having us out the door no later than 8:30am, and by some miracle, we were out the door at 8:22am. Success.

I must admit here, however, that both Seth and I were a bit skeptical about this venture we were about to embark on. The last time either of us had gone camping was when we were children and we both like sleeping inside away from bugs and with food just a phone call away.

What makes this particular camping trip is special for more than one reason. Firstly, both Seth and I have a special place in our hearts for White Lake. We both camped here with our families when we were children. One of Seth’s fondest memories of his father was here. I learned how to swim here. It seemed fitting that this be the place we take our children for our first family adventure in the woods. We cut Rylee’s school year short by three days to take our kids on this family first. We thought it would be a memorable way to kick off the summer.

Secondly, Seth’s father, a member of the Sioux tribe, passed away three years ago. One of his final wishes was to be put at rest amongst the nature of the White Mountains. This was very difficult for us, but as our children are finally at a manageable camping age (they are both potty trained) and it has been a few years since Seth’s father’s passing, now seemed like a good time to finally follow through with this final wish. So, we are here, in part, for Seth to finally say goodbye to his father in one of his father’s favorite places. This seems rather apropos as yesterday was Father’s day.

We made sure Molly and Murphy were taken care of, and we finally arrived in the mountains for our first afternoon of this trip. It did not take long to get the tent up and the kids were eager to explore. Sammy found a heart carved into a tree at our campsite. The kids love the tent and the fire pit, but what they enjoyed most this first day here was the trip to the lake. The glacial water was surprisingly warm and the view was spectacular. Dinner time posed to be a challenge as I forgot my frying pan, but it was soon remedied by Seth who found one at the ranger station. The kids loved dinner, but adored roasting marshmallows more. Apparently I roast mine wrong as I do not light my marshmallows on fire. Perhaps I need to fix this? Not exactly sure what is in store for tomorrow, but I can almost guarantee that we will make another appearance at the lake and the playground, and Seth will finally be able to say goodbye to his father.

As I bring this entry for day one to a close, it amuses me that the kids are supposed to be sleeping, but are giggling because they get to sleep in a tent. Soon I shall be joining them. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood were of camping, and I hope the same will be true for Rylee and Samuel.

Day Two- June 22, 2010

The end to the second day of our trip has come to a close. As I think over the day’s events I am astonished at how much we were able to fit into one day. I am rather concerned about the weather, but we are willing to muscle through another night.

Last night was a rough one for me as it has been years since I have spent the night in the middle of the woods. Unfamiliar sounds were constantly startling me, and even at one point, we had some kind of creature shuffling around our campsite. It was most likely a chipmunk or squirrel, but at 3 am in my half asleep mind, it was a wolf or a bear. I remember being awakened by the distant sound of what I thought to be a child screaming, and I panicked. I thought somehow my son had gotten out of our tent and was lost somewhere in the woods. I could not see him from where I was sleeping, so I practically woke everyone in the tent in my efforts to catch a glimpse of my son, sleeping safe and sound just a few feet away from me.

Morning came, and we all eventually stumbled out of bed for breakfast. Seth had already made French Pressed coffee but was skeptical of the quality. He needn’t have worried as it was perfect. After some deliberation, we decided that we would venture on a waterfall expedition and upon returning make another visit to the lake.

Before we headed in search of the Kangamangus Highway, we of course needed to make a potty run. I must stop here to specifically say that I am proud of my son, who for the first time, requested to not only use a public restroom, but that he needed to poop in one. And he did. We were both quite proud. When camping with small children, as some of you might already know, potty runs are an adventure in of themselves.

It did not take us long to find the Kangamangus. Soon we made our first stop at the Lower Falls. The river was full of rocks and the water lapped over them, trickled in places, and splashed in others. There were many beautiful small waterfalls and even a beautiful place in which to wade. There were also butterflies everywhere, which, of course, delighted my already enchanted children. They are in love with the mountains.

On our way back to the van we discovered an old fashioned water pump. The kids got a huge kick out of taking turns pumping the water to drink. Seth also found it amusing. I’m not sure what he thought was more fun, pumping the water or watching the kids give it a try.

We continued up the Kangamangus and found another great stop with a waterfall. This one was the Sabbaday falls. We had to hike a small trail to get a really good look, but it was an easy hike and very worth the walk. The kids were amazed at the falls. We headed back down the trail to the van to head back and get some lunch at the campsite.

After lunch we decided that it was time to head to the play ground and the beach area. Before we headed over, I discovered a pretty lavender dragonfly sitting near me. I had to take a picture.

I watched the kids play on the playground as Seth ventured on his own to finally lay his father to rest. This was especially hard for him I believe. His father died over three years ago, and we had always wanted to spread his ashes in the mountains. Today Seth was finally able to do just that. When he returned from his quest, the kids swam in the lake for awhile whilst Seth reflected and I took pictures of our kids, the mountains, and ducks.

After some time we decided it might be fun to rent a paddleboat. Sammy was nervous about the idea of being on such a “big” lake in such a small boat, but pretty soon he became okay with the idea. Turns out, our trek around the lake was pretty neat. We saw two beautiful loons, a great blue heron, a protected nest (believed to be the heron’s), and hundreds of tiny blue damselflies. I really wish I had my camera out on the water, but I was afraid we might get wet. We didn’t, and now I have no pictures of our trek out on White Lake.

After we returned to shore, we headed back to the campsite, tired and thirsty. The kids snacked and we roasted marshmallows. The rest of the day was pretty laid back, and Seth was on a mission to create the perfect campfire. He enlisted the kids to help him gather kindling. They gladly did this until it was time to turn in. I shortly followed them to spend some time writing here and it wasn’t long before Seth was calling me back outside. It was dark at this point, but we heard rustling and he was shining his flashlight in the sound’s direction. There, in our campsite, was a really huge raccoon! Huge! This might have been our culprit from last night? I am VERY glad our food is in the van… Before long another raccoon appeared and Seth was in the middle- a raccoon on either side of him and blocking his escape to the tent. Then the raccoons saw one another and decided they didn’t like sharing our campsite, so they began to fight. Seth took the opportunity to flee to our shelter. And here we are, the kids sleeping, the possibility of rain, and two rogue coons patrolling our campsite…

Day Three- June 23, 2010
We slept much better last night. Perhaps it is because we were becoming conditioned to sleeping in the woods, or perhaps because we were tired. It might have something to do with the fact that we actually zipped up all the tent's windows. Our raccoon pals hung around the campsite for awhile, but we convinced ourselves we were safe inside our tent of indistructability. Those raccoons were determined that there was food somewhere. There must have been! But, alas, we were smart enough to at least pack it up in the van before those critters began their investigation.
We awoke to a downpour and were thankful for being mostly dry, although I think we would have all preferred to have been all the way dry. We promptly loaded up the van to drive to the bathroom for yet another potty adventure. When we returned to the campsite, the children sat in the warm dry van watching cars on the built in dvd player while Seth and I marathon packed the camping gear halfhazardly in the back. This was where we jump ship on our very ambitious camping trip.
We headed south to my Mother's house and are eternally grateful to her for the use of her shower, potty, and dry shelter. Oh and also the pizza! What a great way to end a camping trip! :) We are clean and dry and the kid's are happily watching Bolt and playing with their uncle Caleb's baby hamsters. Later on we will pick up Molly and head back home and to normalcy (which, is a relative term, isn't it). We learned some things on this camping trip and made some cool memories. Most importantly, we learned that we are not camping people. At least, not the way we did it. Perhaps this will help us to be better prepared next time. Or perhaps future vacations will be held in Orlando partying with Mickey. Either way, I don't regret going or meeting those interesting people we met while there: the family with the crying child, the late night charade people, and the Moth Lady. All in all we had a great trip, a great summer kickoff, and a celebration of family and life.
Welcome, Summer 2010! This is gonna be a good one!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day is for Real Men

That's right. Father's Day is for real men. I am sure, in the beginning, the thought of the responsibility of parentage, frightens every man. However, it is the real men that become fathers. These are the men that look at parenting as not only their duty, but their joy. These are the men that are not afraid to get a little dirty- whether it be from a sick child or one covered in ice cream on summer vacation. These are the men that play kick ball in the back yard until it is almost too dark to see anymore. These are the men that watch Pokemon with their kids and understand the difference between a Fire Type and a Water Type. These are the men that understand that Ariel is the one with the red hair and the fins and that Jasmine is the one that rides on the magic carpet. These are the men that laugh harder at Spongebob than their four year old. Perhaps these real men may not always do diapers or perhaps they cringe at the thought of being vomited on- that's what Mommies are for. Real men are the guys that spend their moments with their kids making memories, exploring, and well being that guy that those kids look up to as their hero.

My dad is a Real Man. I never knew my biological father, and at this point never will. I can only hope and pray that somewhere along the way, he got his life together. But, the man that I will always know and love as my father has been there from the beginning, and he is a real man. For starters, before he married my mom, he called me his own daughter. He put his name on my birth certificate, knowing full well the responsibility he was taking on. That idea of becoming a father was more than a responsibility for him- it was more than a duty- it was the Will of God. My dad chose me as his own daughter and was there from the very beginning. 

I do not know every detail that plays into why my father chose to be my father, but I do know this: he prayed about it and God answered him. Sometimes God speaks to different people in different ways. This time, God chose to speak to my dad in the form of a dream. I did not know about this dream until I was a teenager, and to this day, even as I near 30, it still gets to me. :)

In the dream I am just a newborn baby in my biological father's arms. My adoptive father is standing there, his arms empty. Jesus walks in and takes me out of the first man's arms and places me gently in my dad's arms. This is how he knew what he was doing was the right thing. Pretty amazing, huh? Yeah, it gets me every time.

I grew up in a semi-normal (normal is pretty subjective, isn't it?) family. I had two parents that love me, and lots of siblings that I shared everything with. Most of the time we shared nicely. Most of the time. There were those times our parents would tell us that one day we would appreciate one another or that one day my brothers would be bigger than me and that I would then regret sitting on their heads.... And, that day came, and yes, I did regret some things. My dad raised us to love each other, value our family, and most of all Love God, because he first loved us.

There was a verse that seemed quite poignant to me and gave me some perspective and comfort over the years. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) "God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." Not only did this remind me of what my dad had done, I had another Father who had also chosen me and adopted me- God. And being chosen  by someone is pretty darn special, especially when I am so unique that sometimes even my own family looks at me and wonders. The characteristics that God shows by loving us no matter who we are, are reflected in my own earthly father's character. Father's Day is definitely for him.

I have countless childhood memories of fishing trips, camp outs, bonfires, kickball, music filled evenings, and fighting over who got to read from the current novel aloud. And then, one day I grew up. I married Seth and it wasn't long before we had a family of our own. I praise God every day that I married a real man. He laughs with the kids, plays with them, and is creating a whole new generation of memories with them.

So this Father's Day, while I don't get to spend any time with my Dad as we live in different states, I thank God for putting him in my life from the very beginning so that I could grow up and know what family means and what Faith in God is. And while I don't get to spend much time with my husband, I thank God for bringing us together and for the sacrifices that Seth makes for his family by working, even when today is supposed to be a celebration.

Tomorrow our family is heading up to the mountains for our very first camping trip as a family, to celebrate summertime and Father's day, and to create memories for our kids. We must treasure these moments with them, as time does not stand still, and without them, we wouldn't be parents.

Happy Father's Day to all you Real Men out there that understand that its these moments with your children that are what matters. God bless you all.

And Happy Father's Day to you God. Thank you for everything. I love you.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Simply Saturday

I thought long and hard about the witty things I could write here tonight, but I must resign that I have nothing clever this evening. So in lieu of writing something poignant, I shall recap the days events.

We missed the Toy Story 3 opening yesterday in favor of going to a Matinee today with the kids. I loved the first two movies and the third was no exception. While I thought it was a deeper plot, it was still brilliant. There were a few times the kids got concerned, and the end brought my daughter and I to tears. Yet, despite the emotional roller coaster, I am glad we got to go to the movies as a family. This is a rarity and we usually wait until a movie is out on DVD to actually see it. All in all, we had a great family outing.

This afternoon, Seth and I packed the van with most of the necessities we will be bringing with us on our upcoming camping trip. I still have plenty of laundry to do and the food to pack, but we are mostly ready for our first camp out as a family.

This evening we met up with friends at Sam Diego's for food and in celebration of our friend Larissa's recent graduation. Plenty of laughter tonight at one of my favorite restaurants. Our poor babysitter, on the other hand, had to deal with a potty mishap and no clean underwear or diapers for our son, who is mostly OK with the potty these days. Thank goodness she only lives a few streets away and her mother was able to bring some diapers. While our sitter was changing our son and cleaning him up, she left her dinner on the counter... and our golden retriever helped herself... Next time I will plan on having back up diapers on hand and make she our sitter knows that we have an open fridge policy in case she is hungry. Everything turned out alright and our kids were great. I am pleased that we have never had an issue with a babysitter yet, even if there might have been an accident here and there and our puppy can be a food snatcher when your back is turned.

This was our Saturday and I am happy with it. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

School Vacation and sticking it to the Man

It seems that every year my kids are in school summer vacation has some kind of osteoporosis. Seriously. It seems as if it is shrinking! When I was a child (and attending a school outside the home), we were dismissed for the summer that last week in May- or that first week in June at the lastest! We didn't return to school until after Labor Day in September. These days school seems to have changed. My daughter starts school the week before Labor Day, which does not make sense to me at all. She goes to school for two days and then gets a long holiday weekend before returning to school. She then continues to attend school until just about that last week in June. That's when my mind wanders to those carefree days we had when I was a child. I remember all those long bike rides I used to take, or the family camping trips, or even our expeditions to upstate NY to visit Grandma Webster and the rest of my dad's family. Seems like the summers from my childhood went on for what seems like ages. These days, perhaps partly because I'm older and partly because the school system is becoming more and more socialist and stingy with summer, those vacations for my kids seem much shorter and fly by.

My daughter is subject to a number of social conventions and a few nonconventions as well. The idea of shorter summers makes me angry as many of my own memories are wrapped up in summer vacations. I feel as if the system is robbing her of her childhood each year. Here's where the nonconvention comes in. My husband is active duty Coast Guard. His schedule does not always line up with the public school systems'. The stubborn streak inside me is smiling smugly at our inadvertant jab at the Man. Because Seth can't always take leave that coincides with school vacation, oftentimes our day trips or vacations have my daughter missing a day here or there. Little by little, thanks to Uncle Sam, she gets her "summer vacation" in other ways. Today is her last day of school, but most of her public school friends will still be in school most of next week. We are pulling her out early so we can kick the summer off by going on our first camping trip as a family. Why not wait a week? Because Uncle Sam said so. HA! So here we are, getting ready to have an old fashioned summer jam packed full of memories and fun for our kids and we get to kick it off the right way, whether or not the state likes it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Confessions of a Coffee Addict

There is nothing like a good cup of coffee. Any coffee addict will tell you that. What any real coffee addict might not tell you is that he or she will drink just about any cup of coffee- good or not- just to get his or her coffee fix. It is almost like the air we breathe. We dont think about it most of the time, nor do we take the time to contemplate the quality of the air we are actually breathing. Many times that quality is measured by the enviroment in which a person lives. For example, if a person lives in or around a city, chances are the air they are breathing are a bit more polluted than a person living in a rural town by the sea side. The smells are a bit more obvious, and to those used to one, might find the other offensive or refreshing. It all depends. But, most of the time we don't think about it. There are those days where I am in a hurry and don't have the time to brew a proper cup of coffee, so I brew a rushed one, or get one from a drive-thru or gas station somewhere. Sometimes those are great cups, and sometimes they are, to be honest, pure swill. And you know what? It doesn't even matter. It's coffee. So that got me thinking. What exactly does a great cup of coffee take? Time? Thought? Preparation? Perhaps all of the above. It most certainly does take a good bean- the most important ingredient of all. Back in April, during my daughter's school vacation, we took our very first family vacation that didn't involve visiting distant relatives. We went to Disney World in Florida. It was probably the most perfect family vacation ever. While we were vacationing I noticed the different levels of coffee we encountered at the different places we ate at. Some were good, some were great, and some just plain sucked. And I really didn't care either. It was coffee, and I need coffee. Not to mention, we were in the most magical wonderful place a family could vacation in... So, our last day there, in search of a great breakfast place, we found ourselves at the Kona Cafe- a place that specializes, not only in coffee,  but amazing coffee- Hawaiian coffee. And for the first time in my life, I had experienced Kona Coffee brewed in a French Press. The concept seemed so simple, and I had my doubts on the quality, but I didn't really care. It was getting late, I was hungry and hadn't had my morning cup yet. The waitress was very congenial, the kids loved her. And she took extra time to explain how the French Press worked. My world had been turned upside down. Since April and our trip to Disney I had been searching for an inexpensive French Press everywhere. This novelty always seemed to elude me. Then one day, while we had spent the morning running all kinds of crazy errands, we stumbled upon the thrift store Savers in Plymouth. Seth ran inside to see if they had any great second hand camping gear. (We are taking our first camping trip as a family on Monday.) When he returned he had a Savers bag full or treasures. None of these treasures were camping gear, but what he did have changed me forever. He surprised me with a ceramic duck for my garden, and it thrilled me. There is a story that goes with the duck, and perhaps someday I will blog about it. But that wasn't the best thing of all. He had found a very nice French Press! So, the last two days I have been brewing my coffee in the $3 used French Press rather than our $80 brewstation. And for the last two days, I not only saved time, but I have created the best cups of coffee I have made in a long time. Yes, my name is Crystal, and I am a coffee addict.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Story I wrote for my kids a few years ago for when their Daddy had to be deployed.

An Old Salute to a whole new Graduating Class :)

I wrote the following two years ago when my sister graduated high school. I thought it was appropriate to post here. :)

Ever wonder how sometimes you get caught up in your own things that you don't even notice that life is passing you by? Every day, it seems, I have these moments. That's what life is made up of, I know. But, it seems that from one moment to the next is just a blink and it is gone. I treasure those moments life throws at me, but it seems like as soon as I appreciate- truly appreciate- one thing, that thing is gone and I have to move to the next thing.

Take, for example, school. Some of you might still be in school, so you won't be able to relate. For those of you who are no longer a student, you will understand this. When you are in school, you are constantly wondering when it will be over so you can get on with the rest of your life. You worry about grades, projects, which girls or guys like who, what your so called best friend said about you last weekend, and how you just want to end it cuz life royally sucks. And then, in a blink, it is over with. You put on that cap and gown, and walk toward the rest of your life. You smile that huge "Suckers!" smile, and pitch that cap as high into the air as your girly arm can throw it. (Oh, c'mon, we aren't all Babe Ruth!)

Then comes the moment where you have to actually decide what to do with the rest of your life. I find it ironic that at this point in life, when you are still figuring out who you are and how you fit into this crazy world, you have to make a choice that will seal your fate for the next 60 or so years.

Then, that moment is gone. Your life has gone down that path of no return. Next thing you know, you are looking back over the years wondering what happened.

And that is when you look at your kids and think, dang, it doesn't seem that long ago when I was that age.... Or you suddenly realize your kid sister is no longer a kid, but a adult stepping into a foreign adult world. Seriously, where does the time go? I guess Time is constantly going to be moving, and the moments in life will continue to hurdle at us. The thing that is left for us to do is treasure each of those seemingly invisible moments and make the most of what our lives are.

So, to my sister, who apparently grew up over night, Congratulations. I am so proud of you. And to the rest of you, enjoy life. Treasure the good times. Learn from the bad. Make a dent on this big blue rock we call Earth. After all, we have just one shot, so let's make it a good one!

Eccentric is Acceptable Crazy

People spend their lives constantly trying to fit in. I am no exception. No one wants to be the black sheep in the family or the odd ball out in a group of friends. When I was a kid I remember being asked at Camp what was something I always wanted to do. I did not answer that I wanted to tour Europe or write a novel. No. I confidently answered that I would like to ride on a dragonfly. I knew, of course, that this was something I would never be able to actually achieve. And it was refreshing to have a group of people not think I was totally nuts. At that point in my life I began to realize that I did not need to strive to fit in but that I could just be myself. I might look at things a little differently, and I might be a tad eccentric, but that is perfectly acceptable.