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Saturday, March 15, 2014

52 Weeks of Gratitude, Weeks 10 and 11

For starters, I'm behind yet again. It's a good thing I'm not getting paid to write about gratitude, because I can't keep a deadline to save my soul.

For Weeks 10 and 11:  I'm going to combine weeks 10 and 11 into one, and just say that I'm grateful for technology. It's not easy for me to pull away from it. I'm working on that, because I really want to be in the present moment.  Speaking of, my good pal shared this compelling article with me about a man who announces he's getting a divorce, but it's not what you think. Give it a read; you may like it.

Striking the balance between too much technology and using it for documenting the important stuff is tough. Technology gives us the ability to snap pictures of our loved ones, capture videos of moments to share with grandparents, and hang onto moments that matter to us.  Without my gadget, I wouldn't have direct access to all kinds of music that matters to me. There's the dish-washing music (Stevie Wonder, Spanish guitar, Patty Griffin), the wake-up music (James Brown, Pharrel, the Black Keys), the writing music (shuffle all, with a lot of irritated skipping when I get to selections from Sting's dreadful "Songs from the Labryinth" where he whispers creepily for most of the album, and that bad recording of Handel's" Messiah" that I keep forgetting to delete), the running music (Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, lots of dirty rap), the dinner party music (Elliot Smith, Chet Baker, Ray LaMontagne) and the driving music (Willie, Wilco, The Decemberists). How could I possibly make it through life without all of that music?

This morning, I'm particularly grateful for the "notes" part of my phone. So often, I'm in the middle of a conversation or an eavesdropping session and I stop and jot down a note so I don't forget what happened. Usually, it's about something that at the moment, I'm sure I HAVE to write about, but I hardly ever get to it. A lot of the time, I'll go back to it weeks later and have absolutely no clue what it was about. That's funny to me, but it's also a mystery that drives me somewhat nuts.

Here are 20 examples of those notes:

1. This is like drunk dialing! I feel like I need to swallow! I swallowed and wiggled a little. It's okay? This is note I wrote to the dental assistant while doped up in the dentist's chair. There is more, and it's embarrassing. If you know my mom, ask her what I'm like when I'm doped up at the dentist. It's like a drunk confessional.
2. "Rachel, fingers were invented before forks. And you are NOT a vegetarian. You, the kid who ate RIBS her entire life!" This was a pushy mom talking to her college-aged daughter at the table next to us at dinner - I wrote down most of what they were saying in the hopes of turning this into a short story.
3. Nipples in Paris.  I have no idea what this means. I've been to Paris twice, and don't recall any nipple stories except when Tim and I went to Moulin Rouge and bought such cheap seats we were behind a large column, so the nipples on stage were greatly obstructed. Sorry, Tim! Anyway, to try to figure out this mysterious little phrase, I Googled "nipples in Paris" and hoped nobody near me was watching. Evidently Rihanna flashed her nipples on March 4. But I wrote this on January 5. Maybe I should consider a part-time job as a celebrity psychic?
4. 506 as of 2:39 - This was how many emails I had left while working on my bi-weekly email purge. I'm not very good at it, obviously.
5. "Meteoroids puncturing your spacesuit." This was a guy being interviewed on KXAN about travelling to Mars. I liked it so much, and laughed so hard at how hilariously geeky it was that I tweeted it directly to KXAN's Sally Hernandez, because she had a giggle fit live on TV when they aired the clip. Because we're ALL concerned about meteoroids puncturing our spacesuits, right?
6. Fee waived by MSR Isela. - I paid a bill late, I'm sure, and buddied up to the phone rep and asked her to waive the fee. Isela, whoever you are, thank you!
7. Patchouli and Carmex - How an elevator smelled on January 15, 2014.
8. Venture capital backers will provide insight for private companies - Notes from an intimidating training I attended for work on January 16, 2014. I learned a lot that day. I'll write about it eventually.
9. New neighbor- Rick. 6 month old baby Natalia - I'm always jotting down names of people I meet because I want to be that person who remembers names. I don't, but my phone does a nice job of it.
10. "She's a super savage, dope-smoking bitch." - Guy outside of Starbucks on January 17. He was saying this to a friend, but also kind of singing/dancing it angrily. When people are angry and sing, it reminds me of Footloose. I love a movie scene where someone is so angry that they have to go dance in a barn. Hard. This guy was angry signing/talking. It was awesome.
11. The little girl's name is ALOE! - I wrote this note to my daughter, Emily Rose, when I overheard a mom talking to her little kid. What a name! I'm only guessing we were in South Austin?
12. "You Belong to Me" in Portuguese? - I keep forgetting to buy Shazam, so we'll be at dinner and I'll have to stop and jot it down so I can research it later. I cannot find this version and it was really nice. Please let me know if you know how to find it!
13. "The Kids in the Middle, Happy." - Potential book title. I change my mind daily on book titles. I'm constantly writing down ideas for short story titles and book titles and doing nothing with it.
14. "New Sweet Boyfriend of the Mother who Dated Pricks" -  Do you stick around to watch the credits? When I lived in LA for a short time, my sister taught me that in LA, you stay for the credits. If you walk out while the credits are rolling, it's totally rude, because in LA, people you're sitting in the theater with probably made that movie or at the very least worked the craft services cart. Now, when we can, we stay for the credits. This awesome line is from the cast credits from the movie, "Her." I would LOVE to be an actor and have that on my resume!
15. "I love Phil Donahue, and I love his wife." - My friend Candace making me cry laughing at dinner. How long has it been since you thought about Phil Donahue?  And then, as it always happens, we couldn't remember the name of his wife. For a moment there, we were trying to pair him up with Connie Chung. He's actually married to Marlo Thomas, in case you're wondering. Candace says hilarious things like this so often I can't even keep up with her.
16.  How it Feels When You Don't Know the Band Because You Are too Old - Thoughts about that. Because I'm there, and it's weird.
17.  Short story with all dialogue and no descriptions. Just dialogue. - I'd like to write one of those. I'm not very good at dialogue so I'd have to sit in restaurants and steal some.
18.  Ballet Austin's "Videodance" OMG, they teach music video dance classes! For $30, you can sign up and learn the entire "Beat It" dance!  I need the courage to do this. Join me?
19. Hannah - Hannah? And her sisters? I have no idea. I really hate it when I do this.
20. "Tachyons" - A word that was used in our Friday Lunch and Learn at work. I love learning words I know nothing about. Another one that popped into my life that I've missed all these years is "germy." I'm not sure how I lived all of these years without knowing "germy," but it's one of the best words ever.

That's it for this week. I'm grateful for mah gadget. Good times.



Sunday, March 2, 2014

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Weeks 5-9

I am starting to resent the woman who started the 365 grateful project, which is really terrible of me, because she's amazing. I just resent her discipline, because she committed to daily documentation of her gratitude, and I can hardly knock out one post a week for this abridged project! At this point I'm already five weeks behind, but I do have things to be grateful for, so bear with me while I catch up. As planned, a little about what I'm grateful for, followed by an accompanying photo. Weeks 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.

Week Five:  I am immensely grateful that my family recovered from The Plague of 2014.

It began at the end of January. I was the first one to get sick, and I tried to ignore it, but it knocked me off my feet for four straight days, and still, a month later, I am not 100%. During that time, I was a terrible, whiny patient, and Mr. Arndt did a fabulous job of taking care of me. He also got sick, and so did Emily Rose. We were a mess. If it weren't for forced bed rest, a patient and understanding boss, and terrific doctors (Dr. Eric Lambeth at Red River Family Practice and Dr. Wes Glazener, Best Pediatrician in Austin), we might have lost our minds. The only good thing that came out of this forced hiatus was it gave me the opportunity to start Downton Abbey. When the Spanish flu hit Crawley family in season 2, I was right there with them, rolling around in bed, moaning, and feeling very sorry for myself.

The photo below about sums up that experience. Pardon the hideous photo of me in the smack dab middle of being terribly sick, but this shows what kind of man I married. Sick himself, he drove to Walgreens to find just the right variety of Robitussin that doesn't make me hallucinate. The Facetime session that ensued was hilarious, because it was half of Tim's chin, and half it was a dizzying view of all of my cough syrup options. I spent the entire session complaining that they didn't have the one without "D," because I am paranoid about taking OTC drugs. It was even better because this Facetime session came with a canned Stevie Ray Vaughn that was playing at Walgreens. I would have laughed, but I couldn't because when I did, I'd cough so hard I would see stars. I'm just grateful we survived it, and thankful for everyone who put up with me during that dreadful few weeks.



Week 6:  I'm thankful for my job at InsideView. Because of where I work, I am challenged daily (in a good way). My job challenges me to work harder than I've ever worked, but working hard is different when you truly believe in what you are doing. Watching my company grow -- even when it's messy -- is one of the most exciting things about my job. When I feel frustrated, I have people who actually listen to me. When I have a suggestion that makes sense (some of them don't, for sure!), there are people who will help support those ideas and do something with them. That's extremely rewarding. When I want to grow and learn more, there are mentors. From the CEO down, I work for an organization that is filled with passion and commitment. I've made friendships there that will last a lifetime. That, and we have a guy who showed up wearing a chicken hat to work. If you ever run into this guy, ask him to do a whiteboard exercise for you. It will blow you away.





Week 7: I'm thankful for girl trips with my mom. My relationship with my mom will get an entire post devoted to her (around Mother's Day, if I plan that correctly!), but toward the end of my plague recovery, I took the train up to Dallas for a little writing time and a girl's getaway with my mom to see Sting and Paul Simon. We stayed at the coolest little boutique hotel in Dallas, the Belmont Hotel, a place so cool I almost don't want to tell you about it because I kind of hope it stays a best-kept little secret. After a glass of wine in their simple, lovely lobby bar, we had a delicious dinner at Smoke, ran into a girl from my hometown who's a writer and really fabulous. She was also there with a friend for the Sting and Paul Simon concert. We shared a cab over to the venue, and in a crazy turn of events, the usher upgraded our seats from the nosebleeds to seats that were simply perfect. I'm a happily married woman, and so is my mother, but getting that close to Sting was a thrill of a lifetime for both of us.

This pic is a bit blurry, but who cares. Paul Simon still has a great voice, but bless his heart, he looks like death warmed over. Sting, on the other hand, is doing just fine.



Week 8:  I'm Grateful for Handwritten Valentines. Mr. Arndt's birthday is on Valentine's, so we really get into Valentine's at our house. However, one of the things that I fret over is having enough time to make sure the kids have handwritten notes. They'll love the money and the candy and all of that, but I think it's especially important for kids to read -- in handwritten letters -- how much their parents care about them. I have boxes of saved handwritten letters saved. My mother in law, stepfather, mother and sister still send them, and those, among the love letters that Tim and I send each other, and the handwritten notes from my children, are my most prized possessions.

This is Emily Rose on Valentine's morning, reading the Valentine Tim and I gave her. The same day, I received a Valentine from my beautiful stepdaughter Stephanie that was so beautiful it validated every minute I've spent being her stepmother. I urge you to take the time to write one if you haven't in a while.




Week 9: I'm grateful that I get to watch my friends' kids grow up. I have friends of all ages, so many of my close friends are just now starting their families. When I married Tim, I married into an instafamily, so I've been around kids since I was in my mid-20s. Now that two of my stepchildren are at college and Emily Rose is no longer a baby, I am really enjoying watching my younger friends start their families. When they come to me for advice, I am tickled about that because I had absolutely no clue what I was doing when I started out as a parent, and often still don't, but in some ways, I feel like I can dish out a little advice here and there, and that makes me feel special. 

This is just one of many pictures of the little ones that I am watching grow up before my eyes. I love that my amazing girlfriends Amy, Amy and Joanne have started families. These two kids on the left belong to my friend Amy. We had a play date the other day, and the kids spotted the ice cream truck (one of the creepiest things ever). Amy's daughter (far left) ordered a "Two Ball Screwball," which we decided sounded more like a Mardi Gras drink than a kid's ice cream treat. Her brother (middle) loved his rainbow snow cone, but was also partially obsessed with the Two Ball Screwball. It got really funny when the kids ran off to play and my friend Amy accidentally dropped the leftover rainbow snow cone, then tried to lie to her son when he asked where it went. She's a terrible liar, but sometimes, you have to make up a little while lie to prevent a meltdown. We parents get it, no worries!

My kid (far right) loves being around these little ones because she gets to be the oldest with all of the answers. I can't look at this picture without smiling -- it's childhood innocence, pure and simple, and it makes me happy.



I'm glad I'm caught up. I have a LOT to be grateful for, and this project is great because when you are doing it, it's dedicated time to positive thought, and it's impossible not to smile when you are counting your blessings. Good times.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Confessions of a Cookie Mom

(Writer's note: this just ran in the Huffington Post's Parenting Blog, so I'm running it again here. Because I can.)
As much as I would love to tell you that I'm the kind of working mother who has her act together, it's simply not the case. I'm the mom who keeps a razor in her car because inevitably, I'll be driving to a meeting and realize I have one hairy knee, because I don't even have my act together enough to have a matching set of hairy knees. When a school party sign-up list goes up and all of the other parents work hours cutting fresh fruit into the shape of the school mascot, I sign up to bring napkins. That way, if I forget the napkins (and believe me, I will), the kids won't starve, and they can just wipe their messy little hands on their clean little pants.
It's not that I haven't tried to be the kind of mom who has her act together. When my now 18-year-old stepdaughter was in elementary school, I stepped up to be the Girl Scout Cookie Mom. Looking back, I'm pretty convinced that one of the other moms drugged me and got me to say yes, while all of the other moms laughed wickedly behind my back. After all, I was a fairly new stepparent. That alone automatically made me feel like a second class citizen, and at that point in my life, I didn't know The Secret to Being a Cookie Mom.
Now that I know the secret, I'm going to share it with you. Considering being a Cookie Mom? Grab a box of Do-Si-Dos and a glass of milk and sit down for a little lesson.
If you've been a Cookie Mom before, I will enjoy having a glass of wine with you in God's special spa retreat in heaven, because we deserve it. If you haven't been a Cookie Mom, let's start with the job description:
Wanted: Cheerful, naive sucker. Must pass a background check that rivals the FBI and CIA combined. Requirements include attending training sessions with instructors who wear Christmas sweaters in June and being willing to gain 10 pounds during Cookie Sale. Candidates must own a minivan and be proud of it. Should delight in outdated, inefficient business practices. Must have space in your home to house a minimum of 1,500 cases of cookies. Should own a dolly, a strong husband, or both. The ideal candidate will possess the physical and emotional strength to fight off their strong husband with a stick when he cracks open cases labeled for other kids and eats Thin Mints while laughing manically.
The candidate will graciously manage mothers who appear organized, but inevitably show up two hours late to pick up cookies at the same time you've stripped down to your bra and panties in the hopes of diving into a hot bath. Scheduling consideration during the Cookie Sale: Be prepared to call in sick to work at least once to cry uncontrollably while counting piles of loose change. 
I'm probably breaking some kind of Girl Scout code by revealing the truth, so to balance things out, here's a site devoted to helping new Cookie Moms get ready for the task. My favorite part: "Are you a new cookie mom? First, I want to tell you, don't panic!"
I'm telling you, the loose change alone should make you panic. I had so much money to handle I felt like Al Pacino in Scarface, minus the gritty, gangster glamour. While Pacino sat at a table with stacks of cash, I was slumped in an overstuffed Pottery Barn chair buried in nickels, dimes and quarters, shoving cookies down my gullet, scribbling illegible notes on post-its, trying to learn Accounting 101 while warding off an extended visit to our local mental health facility. But damn, I was a good stepmother! The other mothers were SO impressed by my Girl Scout spirit!
Don't get me wrong; I completely appreciate what the Girl Scouts do for our impressionable young girls. Both of my daughters had a blast doing it, and the mothers who volunteered to take on the meetings are getting extra complimentary spa treatments at God's spa retreat in heaven. The Girl Scouts teach sisterhood, female empowerment, and basic finance. During the cookie sale, girls learn about customer service (a lost art), door to door sales (that's a little scary), and how to handle rejection. Good lessons, all.
This weekend when you stroll past a cookie booth, please buy some cookies. Who cares if they're loaded with calories and ridiculously overpriced? You'll help a local troop keep a fraction of the profits, make a kid smile, but most of all, you'll make that Cookie Mom feel worthwhile. And if you're really feeling charitable, write a check for the exact amount, please. The Cookie Mom will thank you.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Week Four

This week, I'm thankful for my dear friend Candace. Our friendship is one of the most important things in my life.

I've known Candace since middle school, when we passed notes in Texas History class and often got in trouble for giggling. We haven't stopped laughing since. 

When we were 18, we each spent a year in Europe as exchange students. At the end of the year, we traveled through Europe by train with two other girlfriends, and together we laughed through every country. In Italy, while waiting to board a ferry, we watched young Italian sailors prank each other by holding lit cigarette lighters to each other's butts. We screamed and laughed when we checked into a hotel in Paris that had a hole in the floor that doubled as a toilet and a shower. In Greece, we cracked plates on each other's heads and took nasty shots of Ouzo, and possibly partially skinny-dipped in the Mediterranean. But don't tell our moms.

We reunited after college, randomly bumping into each other one night on 6th street, and we were attached at the hip from then on. We laughed our way through The Dating Years, especially the time we decided meeting guys in bars wasn't working, so we went to the First United Methodist Church in Austin and went to a single's Sunday School class, only to find the men there were old enough to be our grandfathers. At one point, I dated a guy who was so toxic it nearly ruined our friendship. Lucky for me, I dumped the guy and kept my friend, and she was with me through it all.

We briefly considered starting a business together, mixing up some of the most fabulous salsa on the planet. We were going to bottle it up and sell it as Blondie's Salsa. To this day, every year the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival happens, I wonder what would have happened if we'd gotten our act together and started a salsa empire. Then again, it's never too late!

Soon, life went into fast-forward. Through the years, we've celebrated graduations, birthdays and weddings. Together with our other girlfriends, we've spent many nights over glasses of wine, sitting on Candace's porch, talking through problems and working out life together. We've been there for each other as we lost loved ones. We've cried our fair share of tears together, but somehow, we always end up laughing.

As long as I've known her, I feel confident that I can speak for Candace when I say that we are both most proud of being mothers. Parenting-wise, I got a head start on Candace by falling in love with a man with children of his own, and I had the good fortune of learning about parenthood by being a stepmother. Less than a year after I had Emily Rose, Candace had Kendall, and the second generation of giggly girls entered our lives. Being mothers of girls so close in age has been one of life's biggest blessings, and the laughter has just gotten louder. 

Candace pushes me to challenge myself, reminds me to live in the moment, and is always there. When I'm being a worrywart, she sends me articles about whatever I'm worrying about. When Tim and I are being stupid married people and fighting over something ridiculous, she lends me the right book to work out our problems. Just this weekend, she took Emily Rose for a sleepover when I was too sick to get out of bed. And just a few moments ago, she sent a text that made me laugh so hard tears streamed down my face.

Candace, I'm doing this gratitude project because of course you inspired me to do it. Thank you for your friendship. Let's keep on laughing no matter what!







Friday, January 17, 2014

52 Weeks of Gratitude, Week Three

(By the way, these are in no particular order! Don't feel like you've been skipped; I have 49 weeks left!)

For Week 3 I pick this guy. This is Taco Bob.


I didn't want a dog. I've never been a dog person, and, if you ask my friends with dogs, they have had to go out of their way to make special arrangements to put their dogs up when I go to their houses because I'm scared of them. When a person on the street is walking their dog, my first inclination isn't to talk about how cute it is, or reach down and pet it. I always felt that no matter how cute the dog might be, I would be the person it would bite.

We had a cat. She wasn't particularly fun, but we didn't need another animal. We were NOT getting a dog.

When our daughter Emily Rose was approaching her 8th birthday, she asked for a gerbil. I gagged just thinking about the potential smells that a gerbil would bring to our small home, and gagged again thinking about what might happen if our old cat 007 got a hold of it.

My husband Tim always felt that kids need dogs -- that it teaches them responsibility, and that it's a great bonding experience for kids. I worried about what a dog would chew on, and dreaded the thought of being the person at happy hour who had to leave early to let the dog out. Why would we want that responsibility when we already had three kids?

Emily Rose talked to Tim about the gerbil. In the conversation, she said, "I'd like to get a gerbil because it would show you that I'm responsible enough to take care of a dog."

This yanked on my heart strings so intensely that I immediately began searching our local animal shelters and adoption services and found Austin Pets Alive, an amazing no-kill non profit run almost entirely by volunteers. Browsing their site, I stumbled onto a picture of a dog named "Patch."

Emily Rose and I went to meet Patch. The foster owner took us to her back patio where Patch waddled around with his siblings. As soon as I picked him up, it was over. The same week, we brought him home. Emily Rose named him Taco Bob.


Austin Pets Alive told us that Patch was a rat terrier/beagle mix. His little body grew into a tell-tale Dachshund hot dog shape. He has weird legs. He licks the couch continuously when he can't find a person to kiss. He goes nuts when Tim puts bacon grease on his dog food. He loves Cheeto cheese puffs, but I'm probably not supposed to admit that I give them to him. He rocks a bow tie like no other dog I've ever seen. And even though he's tiny, he barks when people approach the sidewalk. He's our little protector.

Taco Bob made me a dog person (or at least a lot closer to a dog person than I've ever been). When I travel, I miss him. I love how he greets us like we've been gone a month when we've only been gone an hour. I'm truly grateful that Taco came into our lives, and even more grateful that we never got a gerbil.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Week 2

Week 2 of  52 Weeks of Gratitude.

I'm grateful for my stepmother Pam. When she married my father, she didn't have children of her own. Instantly, she had two young girls to care for part time. She did it with pure love from the start. In the over 30 years I've known her, I can only remember one time when I saw her angry. She fed us, listened to us with sincere interest in our often long and rambling stories, and gave us her whole heart. She understood that we were extremely close to our mother, and she handled the often awkward position of being a step-parent with grace. She was and is a fantastic stepmother.

Today, my sister and I will drive to East Texas to attend Pam's father's funeral. It's an opportunity for us to return some of the comfort she's provided to us through the years. I'm grateful to be able to be with her today, and grateful for her presence in our lives.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

And Now, 52 Weeks of Gratitude

My beloved gal pal Candace just introduced me to the concept of the "365 Grateful Project," a project that began in 2008 by Hailey Bartholomew, a photographer who was battling depression and overcame it by focusing on gratitude. She began a project in which she took one Polaroid a day of something she felt grateful for, and by doing this for 365 days, she was able to transform relationships and experience significant personal growth. Ultimately, this project made her happy.

Happiness is the topic du jour at our house currently. Today, my husband and 10-year old daughter and I watched the documentary, "Happy." It was one of those films that sat on my "to watch" list, but because it fell in the documentary column, never got enough family votes to beat out mainstream comedies and family-friendly movies. However, it was worth the wait. Even my 10-year old, who rolled her eyes at the thought of watching a documentary, put down her gadget and paid attention. Afterwards, we discussed our thoughts on the film together. It definitely had an impact on us.

One of the themes "Happy" discusses is how we human types are motivated by extrinsic and intrinsic goals. Extrinsic goals have to do with money, image and status. Intrinsic goals are about personal growth, relationships and helping others. For those that focus heavily on extrinsic goals, they feel caught on what's referred to as a "hedonic treadmill," while those who focus on intrinsic goals are happier.

So, back to the "365 Grateful Project."  My gal pal Candace is going to do it, and asked if others would join her. She's a motivated individual who takes on such projects and completes them. I, on the other hand, start projects like this and flake out quickly. Therefore, I've decided to do my own take on the project, and begin a "52 Weeks of Gratitude" project in which I include a photo, but I also include a bit of writing, since this year I intend to write more.

Without further ado, here is Week #1 of Gratitude for 2014:

Tim and Emily Rose. 12/24/13, Dallas.

I'm grateful for my husband Tim. He's an amazing father to our kids. I can't count how many photos like this I've snapped of him through the years, where one of our three kids is cuddled up next to him. He provides them with a sense of warmth and safety. He's their rock. He's patient, fair, unwavering in his support for his children, and their biggest advocate. He's the perfect example of someone who lives their life focused on intrinsic goals, because the thing that makes him happiest is helping someone else.

When his two older kids were little, we would laugh because they could pull on his ears or yank on his hair or tug on his collar until it stretched, and Tim didn't care. When our youngest daughter grew old enough to pull on his ears and yank his hair and tug on his collar, she did it, too, and Tim would laugh his huge laugh and flash his amazing smile, filling the room with happiness.

This photo was taken this past Christmas Eve. We'd stopped by Tim's mother's house for an afternoon visit. I love how the sun is pouring in on our youngest daughter's arm, and how she managed to snuggle up in Tim's space even though there was ample seating in the room. They are listening to Tim's mother tell stories from her childhood. It fills my heart with love.