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Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Choice

So, it's 6:45 am and I'm up...ready to start another school year! Don't worry, I know there won't be any students there today, but teachers start getting everything ready a few weeks before the big day. There's so much to do: unpack everything, set up your classroom, attend PDs, start planning lessons for a new year. It's a lot of work.

My first day back always means that summer has (almost) ended. Sure, it still stays light longer, we'll still have cookouts, and play in the pool, but...

I go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, and take on a new, heavy load of responsibility. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining one bit. It's just the facts of a teacher's life. We know all too well when summer's coming to a close.

At the beginning of the summer, I posted an entry about my eagerness to find out what God had planned for my summer. At that time, I did not know that Rick would be leaving his job to come back home. I had no idea that the biggest surprise in God's plan was that my little family would be together for 6 weeks.

There's no way I could possibly find the words to convey what having this time with my family has meant to me. It's the biscuits-for-breakfast together. It's the backyard games in the middle of the day. It's the lazy, no-rush nights. I would say I'm lucky to have this time with my family, but that would insinuate it happened by chance and...

it didn't.

Our time together is a choice.

You see, I am a firm believer that there's not a person living that has it "all." We all accomplish, possess, and sacrifice things according to our values. If we examine ourselves closely, I think it's easy to see our priorities, what things are most important to us. I'm sure you can look at the "so and so" family and see what's most important to them, just as you can look at the "this and that" family and see what they value. With that said...

There are things Rick and I sacrifice (things I won't bore you with the details of because the last thing we need is a pity party) so that we can be here with Gabriella together. There are things we sacrifice so that we all eat dinner together every single night. There are things we sacrifice so that when one of us accomplishes something, we're all here to celebrate it. There are things we sacrifice so that we have so much time together. I know there are people who think (and say...yes, I hear) that we spend too much time together. If only they knew that at the end of this life, I'm sure I will be wishing it was even more! hahaha To spend this summer together was a sacrifice, but it was important to us. It's funny because Rick stayed at home with Gabriella her first year, but it took this summer for me to truly realize that any sacrifice that results in time together will always be worth it. Hey, I like that line!

Any sacrifice that results in time together will always be worth it.

So, put down the remote, turn off your IPhone or IPad or whatever you constantly check fb with, clear your busy schedule, put away your golf clubs, put down the laundry and spend some time...


I snapped a photo of Rick and Gabriella at the park the other day, albeit not a very good one, but I love the look of Gabriella's hair blowing in the breeze, her mouth wide open with laughter. I know I said I couldn't find the words to convey how great this summer's been, but the look on Gabriella's face comes pretty close!

I hope that no matter who you are, no matter where you are, that you can relate to this same sense of excitement. I hope that when you see your family, your spouse, your children...

it feels like that, it looks like that.

Yes, Rick and I make a choice to be there for moments like this. Maybe we should be investing more in other things, our savings, our house, our retirement...

but, if we have to make a choice

(and we do)

we're making the choice to invest in us.

Something tells me that when it's all said and done, neither one of us will regret our choice.

I see God in every memory of my summer and I'm thanking Him for it!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Is Any Father EVER Ready?

This weekend, a good friend of mine, Andrea, got married. She asked if I would do the rehearsal dinner photos, and of course I said yes. While Andrea and Matt were running through everything (practicing their vows, lighting the unity candle, speaking with the minister) I noticed Andrea's father. There he sat...so serious.

I couldn't help but wonder what was going through his mind. For the second, and last, time in his life, he would walk one of his daughter's down the aisle. What's it like for a dad to escort his daughter to her future husband? Being a mother, I'll never know that feeling. Andrea's dad joked at the rehearsal, "Don't bring her back." It was a good way to break the tension. Everyone laughed, but on the inside, I know he was probably saying, "Please don't go. Not just yet." Of course, you always want what is best for your child: An adoring spouse, a happy life...


there's always got to be that small part of a father's heart that wants to keep his daughter to himself. Unselfishly, he pushes that need aside to share his love with someone else. Daddy gives up being the first person called in times of trouble, the first person called to help. He resigns many of his duties to another man. Is any father ever ready for this?

Probably not.

As it turned out, Andrea wasn't the only daughter to walk down the aisle this weekend. Gabriella had the honor of being the flower girl in the ceremony. In order to get her down the aisle, Rick, on bended knee, waited for her. He waited, with his arm stretched out and a cookie in his hand! She walked to him. She walked to him because he is her Daddy and what daughter doesn't long for her Daddy as she walks down the aisle. I don't know if Gabriella will ever be a flower girl again, but if she's not, then the next time she's walking down an aisle at a wedding she won't be walking to her Father.

She'll be walking beside him.

I see God in the love between a father and his daughter.

Hope you have a fabulous week,


Friday, July 22, 2011

The Need for Touch

It is a fact. Humans need the affection, love, and touch of another in order to survive. It is one of our most basic needs. Recently, I ran across an interesting study that exemplifies this idea.

In the 13th century, Frederick II conducted an experiment on 50 babies. He wanted to see what language a child would speak if he never heard a word from his caregiver. The caregivers were forbidden to have any interaction (other than feeding and bathing) with the child. No talking, rocking, petting, playing, singing, etc. The children were given their very basic needs except for affection, touch, and love. The experiment ended in a devastating tragedy; all 50 infants died. Love and affection are so necessary for life that without them, the results are fatal.

This study reminded me of a stranger Rick and I encountered right before I had Gabriella. We were in the elevator, I was having contractions, and it didn't take a rocket scientist to know where we were headed and why! The sweet lady that shared the elevator ride with us had some important advice for Rick. She told him as soon as Gabriella was born, he should take off his shirt and hold her against his chest, skin to skin. Of course, Rick thought it might look a little funny to the nurses or various medical peeps running in and out of the room, but he did it any way. I can honestly say it was one of the highlights of Gabriella's entry into this world. The mother and child bond is an unbreakable bond of phenomenal strength, but I'd say Gabriella's bond with her Daddy is as strong as her bond with me. I credit that to the need for touch that she had...the need that Rick, in those first moments, was able to satisfy.
So, maybe I kiss GG a little too often, maybe I hug her a little too much, hold her hand a little too long, but it's because I know that within each of us is a need, better, a longing, for contact.

The need for touch...
The need for love...

The picture I chose, was from Gabriella's first day at home! I see God in the exchange of love between the tips of my two favorite noses touching.

Think I'll go give GG a big 'ol kiss,

Monday, July 18, 2011

French Fries and a Coke

As long as I can remember, I have always loved french fries. I mean LOVE! Everyone who really knows me, knows this. It's a love affair of the silliest kind! hehe And what could go with a large order of hot, salty fries better than a refreshing coke?! It's one dynamic duo! Unconsciously, I have passed on my love for french fries and coke to GG. She is now developing her own little love affair with Mommy's favorite combination. What can I say?

Like mother, like daughter!

As we were sharing McDonald's the other day, it occurred to me that for a very long time, GG will be looking to Rick and me as an example of what to do. In us, she sees how to act and respond, how to treat others, what to say, how to live her life. Even, what to eat!


That's a pretty hefty load to bear; shaping GG's life and her personality in a way that we feel is right.

My mom used to tell me that when she was growing up, my grandfather would say, "Don't do as I do. Do as I say do."

I want GG to do as I do. I want to be an example for her.

Compassion, respect, loyalty, empathy, sincerity...

These aren't traits that happen by chance. They happen because they are taught and learned. They happen because somewhere along the line, an example was shown. I can think of no greater challenge than to try and embody the type of person I want my child to be. It will make me a better person, that's for sure. Of course, I'm human and have too many of my own faults to be a perfect example. However, can you think of a better reason to try?

I can't.

So, I hope that when GG grows up and she prays,

and loves

and laughs

and dances

and stays strong

and encourages

and appreciates

it's because she saw her mother and father do the same.

I hope.

Looks like I've got a lot of work to do,


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Through the Years...

1 Year Anniversary






I see God in the pictures that represent each year of our marriage together! When I look at it this way, it doesn't seem like much time has passed at all. So thankful I've stopped to enjoy each and every moment. Not one has slipped by without my sincerest gratitude. Not one regret; it's all happened just the way it was supposed to and I've been present and aware of the value.


Monday, July 11, 2011

7 Down, Forever To Go...

Rick and I just returned from Charleston! The occasion: our 7 year wedding anniversary. Technically, our anniversary is the 16th, but we celebrated a little early.

For this trip, we decided to leave Gabriella With Granny Di and Papa Ramon. While it was one of the hardest things I've ever done (being away from GG for that long) it was necessary. Here's why.

I believe that in order for a family to have a strong foundation, Mommy and Daddy must have a strong marriage. That relationship is first and foremost. Rick and I are the core of our little family. In order for things to work with our family as a whole, things must work with us first.

I see my marriage to Rick like a big Oak tree. In the early years of our marriage, prior to GG, we were planting our roots; gaining the nourishment and strength we would need to hold up our future branches. This is why we waited several years to have Gabriella. For us, it was the right decision to use those years to strengthen our marriage, to get our roots further in the ground, if you will. But, if you've ever seen a big tree, a really, really big tree, you know its trunk is humongous and its roots run so deep, and are planted so firm in the ground that nothing can budge it. Those strong roots, to me, represent the couple that's been married 50, 60, 75 years. Their life together has seen rain, sleet, hail, snow, sunshine, and rainbows...

and the roots are still planted in the ground

tree upright and thriving

stronger than ever.

I want my and Rick's tree to still be standing tall and strong in 50 years. I want our family to have a strong foundation that is centered on God and is, at its very core, a picture of our love for each other. I want our family to be a reflection of the roots Rick and I are taking care to nourish and strengthen. So, I'd like to share a few moments from our trip in which I could feel our roots growing stronger and deeper ...

When I grabbed Rick by the hand and dragged him out into an ocean that was only lit by a half moon, we couldn't see a thing as we kicked and splashed and laughed

When Rick made me try fried gator and I had to (very politely) spit it out in my napkin (sorry, but it was gross!)

When we arrived at an abandoned beach right after sunrise to sip mimosas and write in the sand

When Rick took my hand and twirled me around to a man playing a xylophone on the side of the road

When not one of us reached to turn on the radio for the entire 8 hour drive because we were too interested in what the other had to say

When I wrote in the sand with my tanned and polished big toe...

"Happy 7 year anniversary! 7 down...forever to go."

I feel God in his presence in my marriage and I am truly thankful.

Thank you for reading,


P.S. I had to add the last shot because I think my hubby looks like he's turning around in the middle of a modeling shoot! hahhaa He's gonna kill me when he reads this!