In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Angels Among Us

I went into Christmas week with a very heavy heart. It is hard for me to be merry when so many are lacking financially but emotionally as well. I see the sadness or hopelessness and it is almost impossible for me not to cry. It is hard for me to be merry when my heart literally aches for my loved ones that are unable to come home and share in the holidays with us.

After work last Wednesday, I drove to a larger town to do my Christmas shopping. To say that it was crazy is an understatement but I went knowing it would be this way. I mentally put on the garment of patience before entering the store which seemed more like a zoo.


Watching rude people pushing and shoving their way…hearing people swear and loudly proclaim their anger at having to share in the isles with others…giving looks to all which said, “How dare you be in my way” Listening to Christmas music playing in the background, declaring it a season of love, peace and joy, while watching people act the opposite. How ironic. I took my time and chose to stay out of people’s ways. Still it was hard to not take in all that negativity and anxiety in the midst of the Christmas rush. It really is sad when people resort to meanness or check their manners at the door. My already heavy heart got even more heavy.

If you stop and really listen, it is quite sad that people are spending money they don’t have or that they are going through a difficult time in their lives and still trying to go through the motions of Christmas. While waiting in the check out line, I listened to a woman talk with despair about her present situation. She was sad and broken hearted because of not having enough…not enough money to buy gifts or food, not enough people that understood her, just simply not enough and she was feeling all alone in this world. Then and there I wanted to put my stuff back and give her what I had because we have enough…more than enough love, enough food, enough things, enough people that love and support us, enough of everything that makes our lives what it really is. Full.

Yet there are so many that don’t have enough. There are so many that are alone or lonely. There are those that have just lost loved ones or have someone dying right now. There are those so baron of the things of the heart, that they have no hope and believe in nothing.

We may be having a little bit of a financial struggle right now, but by all means we have enough…we have more than enough of those things that matter the most, like hope…hope that things will get better and that is what I wanted to give her more than anything. Belief in a better day. Belief that she is not alone. And then I wondered if maybe she is all alone and that made me almost start crying while standing there in line.

In all reality, we did not spend a dime on Christmas because we did not have it to spend. Every single bit of it came from angels that had bestowed upon us such kindness that enabled not only the little’s but my grandchildren to have a little something under the tree as well and to top it off with food for our family Christmas. Along with all this, have come anonymous and various cards and kindnesses of little gifts, e-mails, and notes, that have totally and completely blown me away…that has left me speechless & with tears of joy at knowing each one of you…and left my husband realizing that the blogging community is not only real but a wonderful one at that.

Finding ourselves on the receiving end instead of the giving end was a humbling experience. Getting to provide the young one’s with gifts was a blessing in itself. Yet the real gift came in the form of humility which came wrapped up in such joyful adornment and from such beautiful hands, that we were forced to humbly accept what was set before us. These grand gifts from every single angel gave us the gifts of hope and belief. Hope & belief that things will be get better and we will get through this. Belief that there are many wonderfully kind human beings in this world and that some of them chose to walk this journey along side of us.

It’s because of some of these angels that I found myself in the store late last Wednesday night, and being reminded by this down trodden woman, of how truly blessed we are to have enough of those things that cannot be bought. When I got back inside my vehicle I broke down and cried. I cried for this woman and all others that do not have enough. The weight of the world lifted off of me as I laid my burdens down. As I embraced the reminder that I am truly not alone and that I, in fact, have more than enough, I cried tears of joy.

I prayed for those that do not have enough and then I thanked God for sending his angels to me. Angels really do walk among us.

Even though I know some of my angels may not share my spiritual beliefs, I personally believe God brought each one of them into my life. Please do not doubt for a second dear angels, you have made my life better just by knowing you.

 Dearest angels(you know who you are), thank you for not only your generosity, but your friendship. Thank you for giving me hope and belief that I am never alone. Thank you for reminding me that there are way more good people in this world then bad. Thank you for caring about me and my family. You cannot possibly know the fullness of what your gifts meant to us.

So despite my aching heart over missing my loved ones, I went into Thursday with a whole new attitude. Getting 8 new inches of snow didn’t stop us from enjoying our family Christmas that Thursday night. Even though I still felt the absence of those that were missing, I felt like I was being hugged by joy, just being surrounded by those I love and knowing the value of it.

On Christmas eve, as the little’s and I talked about Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus being born in a barn, I was struck by their innocent belief. They pulled me into their excitement of shepherds, angels and a baby laying in a manger. What a gift to see all these things through their eyes and to be reminded of what I believe.

The day after Christmas I received one of the greatest gifts. My eldest son called to tell me that he had proposed to his girlfriend on Christmas night! I knew he was going to because he had shown me the ring when we had family Christmas but I didn’t know when he was going to actually propose and of course what if she said “No.”? Happily she said “yes” and so now it sounds like there will be a wedding in 2011. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better daughter in law so I am doing the happy dance over gaining not only another “daughter” but a grandson as well, since she has an 8 year old son.

After taking down Christmas all day Monday(in spite of little lady’s protests and cries at keeping our tree up “every single day of the year”),cleaning the house and getting our home back to normal, and then working Tuesday and Wednesday, I am not only exhausted but happy to be home today. 

Since we are getting freezing rain as I type and it’s going to be turning into snow by this afternoon, and expected to continue through tomorrow, I am even more thankful to be home over the next few days. I can hardly complain because we had been experiencing a heat wave the past few days with temperatures around 30! That doesn’t happen here very often.

So today I am home and have spent the start of my day reflecting on this past week and I am beyond overwhelmed with this feeling of such gratefulness over having more than enough…which is more than I ever dreamed of having. A lot of the credit for my renewed hope goes to all you angels. Whether it’s been something tangible, kind words of support and love, prayers or sending me love and hugs, I thank you. I wrap myself in the warmth of all that is mine and with the knowledge that I can share my abundance. I do have something to give after all.

I end this post with saying, my hope for each one of you is that you have enough…enough of all those things that matter the most…enough hope & belief that makes life a joy to live. As 2010 comes to an end, may you look back and see things to be grateful for. My hope for each of you is that 2011 ushers in an abundance of hope, joy, love, peace, belief and kindnesses into your lives, no matter what circumstances come your way.

My task for today and tomorrow is to decide on my word for 2011. Confidence was my word for 2010 and it has served me well. I may have a ways to go yet but I feel I have come closer to gaining the confidence that I so desire. Do you have a word for 2011?

Until next time, much love and hugs being sent your way, Lori




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Live Reindeer & Tractors

First of all thank you for helping me find some joy and a little bit more sanity to get through to today…and really it is nice to know that I am not the only one.


So we didn’t make it to see Santa because of the snow and as I said Santa was going to be calling…and calling he did at about 7 pm that evening.


Little man answered the phone call…his eye’s big as saucers…he very politely talked to Santa… all he asked for was a real tractor…a big one like Uncle Jim’s…a green one to be exact…he told me excitedly that after Santa brought him his tractor, he would be able to move all the snow out of the driveway with his tractor…oh dear lord…I asked him where we would possibly put a big tractor like this and did he really think we would let him drive a tractor all by himself, he responded with “We will have put up another garage, and I already know how to drive a tractor.” Yeah right. He has an answer for everything.

My grandson talked to Santa next. Right off the bat he says to Santa, “Do you know what Santa? Me and my Mommy are having some problems.” Oh goodness. Talk about cracking me up. He then went on to sweetly ask for all kinds of things for “my cousins and me”. They may fight like brothers and sisters, but he is always looking out for them.

Little lady talked last and though it was hard for her to wait she did so very patiently. The first things that comes out of her mouth is, “I’m sorry Santa.” “For being bad and putting myself on the naughty list.” I knew she was going to say this because that very morning she had told me that when she sat on Santa’s lap that afternoon, she was going to tell him sorry for all the bad naughty things she’s been doing. All she asked Santa for was a “real live Mommy reindeer” “that’s all I want Santa” Oh dear. He tried to get her to ask for something else. She wouldn’t budge. She ended with telling him that she had made him cookies and then a very sweet “I love you Santa.” Is she buttering up Santa or what?

When I asked her where we would possibly keep a real live reindeer her response was in our back yard.

After the phone call, they went kind of nuts…in an effort to calm them down, I reminded them that Santa only gives us what he knows we can handle…and that he is still watching us…I could just as well have been talking to the wind.


This excitement led them to being excited about the football game…


Which was short lived because our team didn’t do so well…and of course there was bedtime. Thank God for bedtime.

Live reindeer? A real tractor? Dear Santa, we have no place for either of these so could you please bring something more suitable?

Hope you are having a wonderful week…spending time with loved ones…shopping…preparing…whatever it is you are doing I hope that you have lots of joy, love and peace.

Until next time, love & hugs, Lori

Monday, December 20, 2010


I am in need of your help. Seriously.

As if we didn’t already have enough snow already, the snow gods decided we needed a bit more. It started snowing this morning and hasn’t stopped. In fact, as each hour passes, it has snowed harder. My poor husband has been stuck out in the middle of the country but thankfully a farmer pulled him out. Oh the joys of living here in the middle of a winter wonderland.

Our trip to Santa had to be canceled yet again. We were suppose to go this past weekend but I ended up being laid up all weekend due to pain. So today was suppose to be the day. The little’s are beyond disappointed although they love the snow. Since it is likely that we will not get another chance to make our visit to Santa, he will be calling tonight. I can hardly wait.

Between Christmas, lack of adult conversation, worries and the cold & snow, I am grasping at keeping my sense of humor. A friend shared this video with me and while you most likely won’t find it as humorous as we do, it gave me a big smile. This just might be the next song I teach the little’s.


We have more snow predicted for this week. Could we be snowed in like we were last Christmas?

It’s not like I hate the snow. For the most part I enjoy it and can appreciate a good blizzard that keeps us snowed in, it’s just that we have had a little bit too much togetherness.

At least tonight I will get to watch my football team play football out in the snow. Even if we lose, at least there’s football.


Since I am in need of some help at keeping my joy, finding things to laugh at and keeping what sanity I have left, could you do me a favor and leave me a comment telling me something funny…be it a joke or a story…or a link to something that is funny…or share something that is going on in your life that has brought you a laugh or smile…or share with me that I am not the only one experiencing my last straw…or share some of your sanity with me…or have you experienced a really cool heart warming experience? I would love to hear about it…pretty please…I would really appreciate it.

Until next time, hugs & love, Lori


Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Twelve Days of Christmas

We have had a couple of “hard” day’s here at the zoo. We have had a lot of trips to the better choice chair, due I think mostly to the fact we have been cooped up because of the cold. Trying to make and bake up goodie’s with little hands is messy work. Of course the Christmas tree cannot be left alone. Two day’s ago, I came an inch to literally picking up the tree and throwing it outside into the snow.

There are some day’s in which it is hard for me to see the forest through the tree’s. As hard as I try to stay mindful of the joy and on the preciousness of the simple moments we spend together, there are day’s I lose sight of what is most important. The fact that I haven’t left the house except for one day in over a week, and that was to go to work, might have something to do with my ability to see clearly. The fact that I get so little adult conversation free from little mouths and ears might have something to do with why I feel like throwing all things Christmas out into the snow. Now that would be a sight wouldn’t it?

I get so caught up in caring for the little’s, our home, preparing food and basically keeping all of “this” together, that I forget about myself. I am well aware that unless I am getting myself filled up, I will have nothing of substance to give my family, let alone anyone else. I need to figure out how to do this.

Thankfully, I get to go to work today.

In the meantime, I cling to my sense of humor, the joy that does surround me(if you read my last post then you know that I am certainly surrounded by joy) and that fills me up on the inside.

We were listening to Christmas songs while making cut out cookies the other day, and the Twelve Days of Christmas came on. As it played, I started making up my own lyrics. This is how I get through my days.

This is my version of the Twelve Day’s of Christmas.


On the first day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

A messy house to clean.                                                                      


On the second day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

Two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.

On the third day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me,

Three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me,

Four temper tantrums, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


On the fifth day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me,

Five candy canes! Four temper tantrums, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


On the sixth day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

Six sticky hands, five candy canes. Four temper tantrums, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


On the seventh day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

Seven tattle tales, six sticky hands, five candy canes. Four temper tantrums, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


On the eighth day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

Eight buckets of joy, seven tattle tales, six sticky hands, five candy canes. Four temper tantrums, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


On the ninth day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

Nine better choice chairs, eight buckets of joy, seven tattle tales, six sticky hands, five candy canes. Four temper tantrum, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


On the tenth day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

Ten times the love, nine better choice chairs, eight buckets of joy, seven tattle tales, six sticky  hands, five candy canes. Four temper tantrums, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


On the eleventh day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

Eleven loud giggles, ten times the love, nine better choice chairs, eight buckets of joy, seven tattle tales, six sticky hands, five candy canes. Four temper tantrums, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


On the twelfth day of Christmas, my little’s gave to me

Twelve hugs & kisses, eleven loud giggles, ten times the love, nine better choice chairs, eight buckets of joy, seven tattle tales, six sticky hands, five candy canes. Four temper tantrums, three dirty faces, two many milk spills and a messy house to clean.


I hope that whatever you are doing in preparation or celebration of Christmas and even if you don’t celebrate it, that you and your loved ones are surrounded by much peace, hope, love and joy. If you find yourself lacking in noise or chaos, you are more than welcome to come share in mine.

Until next time, hugs & love, Lori






Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Decking the halls & spreading the chaos

I have been seriously wondering lately, what drove my ancestors to settle here in Minnesota. Did they just get so far and decide they couldn’t go any further and this was it? After surviving that first winter, what caused them to stay here in this frozen tundra? The main reason I have chosen to continue to live here is because of family. I don’t want to be across the country from them. I’m just wondering why my ancestors picked here. Right about now I am questioning their sanity and mine.

We have been having bitter sub zero temperatures here, and I know many of you have been experiencing colder than normal temperatures as well. Being stuck inside with little one’s day after day, can drive everyone a little stir crazy. Or a lot. It is suppose to warm up  but then we are suppose to get more snow. At least, then they can go outside and shovel away some of that energy.

The one good thing about having these bitter cold days is that after a couple weeks of this, whenever it gets to be above 0, it feels like a heat wave. Must be how we survive this without having lost all of our marbles come May. Now some people might think we’ve lost our marbles already just by living here. I might be one of those people.

This past weekend we got hit with more snow, high winds and very cold temperatures so it was a perfect time to stay home, turn on the oven and get busy in the kitchen. We made some goodies to give as gifts and decorated the Christmas tree.

IMG_5071 snow blizzard and tree decorating 014  IMG_5072

I wish that I had a hidden video camera so that I could show you what really goes on in this house. Or at least captured what really goes on with my camera.

I did get to capture a few of these “unChristmas card like moments”.

Things like putting the Christmas stockings on their feet…

snow blizzard and tree decorating 008

What you don’t see is the running around like they have ants in their pants while wearing these. Nor the crying because of slipping and falling in them.


I did capture a little of the rolling around and wrestling on the floor…

snow blizzard and tree decorating 023

What you don’t see are the ornaments that got knocked off or the Christmas tree almost tipped over. Nor the child crying because they got hurt.

Could it be any more merry than this? I think not.


snow blizzard and tree decorating 026 snow blizzard and tree decorating 016

 snow blizzard and tree decorating 029 IMG_5094

What you don’t see is my husband coming into the room with a very irritated look on his face, to check on all the chaos. He was sick on top of already being in a lot of pain, so he was in the bedroom,watching TV and trying to rest. Yeah right, no one rests in noise like this. At least he came to check on the noise so that he could make me a cocktail. 

I show you cute pictures like this…


But they are far and few between…and what we go through to get just one.

It’s called bribery because really, very rarely do they just sit still and smile. 

It’s not that we don’t have fun or enjoy some sweet moments, it’s just that these are mixed in with a whole lot of 3, 4 and 5 year olds acting like 3, 4 and 5 year olds.

 If you were to see my Christmas tree up close you would see the clumps of ornaments in the bottom half of the tree.

christmas decorations 004

Of course they didn’t want any help and they fought over who put on the most ornaments. If you think there was no pushing or shoving going on in the process you are sadly mistaken.


My daughter & son thought it was necessary to put a train around the Christmas tree. My daughter and grandson had gotten it after Christmas last year so were excited to use it this year. It has been the source of many tears, fights, trips to the better choice chair and headaches ever since. Never again. Never.

My daughter thought it was necessary to do all of this decorating with Christmas music on. Little man thought it was necessary to turn the volume up higher and higher to drown out everyone talking and the whining and crying from the other little’s. 

My son, who arrived safely last Thursday, thought it was necessary to laugh at everything the little’s did, as he was quite amused by their antics…and so was Riley. Now mind you, Riley has been living in a house with just 2 quiet adults for the past year. Not anymore. Welcome to your new home Riley.


On a side note, Riley is the best dog ever. I haven’t heard him bark once. He is so gentle, loving, sweet and listens very well. The little’s are completely head over heels in love with him and by the way he kisses us each morning, I think he kind of likes us too. Coming from Florida, I wondered how he would do with the cold and snow. He played out in the snow with the little’s on his very first day here and loves it.

We have been managing to keep the holiday’s simple by avoiding Christmas stress, commercialism, and the picture perfect ideal. Hibernating inside the house helps with this but mostly it’s being mindful about what matters most to us and what we believe and doing those things that fit inside that. Regardless of what we do in celebration of this season, whether it’s reading the Christmas story, making homemade cards or decking the halls, there will be noise and chaos because noise and chaos are just a normal part of life here at the zoo.

Seeing Christmas through the eye’s of a 3, 4 and 5 year old is magical. They are completely in awe of every single aspect, whether it’s shaking sprinkles on the cookies(and eating them) or sitting in front of our Christmas tree with it’s ornaments & lights, with adoration.

I wrote recently that things are tough here at the zoo and while I can write of love and gratitude for the multitude of blessings that are ours, I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry. I do worry but in this season of love and joy, my focus is on believing. Believing that my husband will be okay and that all the other things will fall into line as well.

I believe that the wonder and joy that is ours this season, comes because of the gifts that a 3, 4 and 5 year old bring to the table. They remind me that the simple things have meaning. Sometime in the next week we will go visit Santa and take a drive, eat popcorn and look at Christmas lights. You would think we were taking them to Disney world with how excited they are.

I won’t sugar coat it, life is hard right now, but we will get through it.

 It also helps that some Christmas angels have spread their blessings upon our family, so come Christmas morning, there will be gifts from Santa Claus under our tree. Learning the lesson of humbling accepting the kindnesses of other’s is likely the great gift we will be given this season. Thank you dear angels for shining your love down upon us.  

Last Thursday, little man had his Christmas program at school. What joy. I end this post with him singing the songs he sang with his class. I hope you are able to watch this short video because it really shows little mans personality.





How could we not be full of joy when we have him around?

I hope peace, joy, and love are surrounding you and your loved one’s, in the midst of celebrating all things Christmas or not.


Until next time, love & hugs, Lori

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wherever You Are

A few weeks ago, a surprise package came in the mail from my daughter whom lives in Idaho. One of the things she sent me was this children’s book. She knows I love children’s books and this one is precious.

I am really missing the loves of my heart right now so I just had to share it with you except I used pictures of those I hold closest to my heart and of whom I think of every time I read this book. I have yet to read it without choking up.

This is for my children… Toni, Adam, Jennessa, Brittany, Jason…each of you are my favorite in your own special ways…and for my little’s; Jordan & Nevaeh, who are now my children too and for those that have joined our family because of love…Gabe, Rayna, Michelle, Carter, Brian, and Aidyn…and for my husband because he shares me so well with this big bunch and puts up with our loud crazy fun, holds me when I cry because I am homesick for them and loves them a whole lot.

Even though I didn’t write these words, I could have. This post is dedicated to each one of you that carries a piece of my heart. 


Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman


I wanted you more than you will ever know, 




















so I sent love to follow wherever you go.



It’s high as you wish it. It’s quick as an elf.  




You’ll never outgrow it…it stretches itself…



So climb any mountains…climb up to the sky! My love will find you. My love can fly.



Make a big splash! Go out on a limb! My love will find you. My love can swim.




It never gets lost, never fades, never ends…



if you’re working…



or playing…





or sitting with friends.





You can dance ‘til you’re dizzy…




















paint ‘til you’re blue…


There’s no place, not one, that my love can’t find you.


And if someday you’re lonely, or someday you’re sad, or you strike out at baseball, or think you’ve been bad…



just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.


That’s me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.



In the green of the grass…





in the smell of the sea…in the clouds floating by…

cute picture of kids on tube

at the top of the tree…in the sound crickets make at the end of the day…



You are loved. You are loved. You are loved,” they all say.



My love is so high, and so wide and so deep,




it’s always there, even when you’re asleep.





So hold your head high and don’t be afraid to march to the front of your own parade.


  Nevaeh's new clothes 010   IMG_2678 

IMG_3076 brittanys pictures July 12 023


If you’re still my small babe or you’re all grown, my promise to you is you’re never alone.




You are my angel, my darling, my star…




…and my love will find you, wherever you are.




The end. Thank you Nancy Tillman for your beautiful words. Thank you dear daughter for knowing that I would love this book and for sending it to me.

Dear loves of my heart, I will say it as long as I have breathe to speak…I love you bigger than the universe…higher then the sun, moon and stars…deeper then the deepest ocean…I love you to the moon & back a million times and more…I love you. I love you. I love you. Mom/Grandma

Even though my heart aches with missing the one’s that are so far away, after reading this and seeing the pictures, I cannot help but say…I am blessed. I am blessed. I am blessed.

Until next time, love & hugs, Lori


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homeless in Minnesota

We are having a cold snap here in Minnesota even though the sky’s are finally blue and the sun is shining brightly. After having lot of gray sky’s and 2 snow storms last week, we have plenty of snow but I would rather it be snowing and a little warmer then blue sky’s with bitter cold.

Whenever it’s cold like this, I find my heart aching for those that call the streets home and are in a constant search of finding a place to warm up. Since I live in the middle of rural Minnesota, we don’t see homeless people very often unless they are passing through and then it’s summer time.

I see homeless people when I travel to one of the bigger cities and it is hard for me to just drive by them. I do fear that if I lived in the bigger city, such as in Minneapolis, I would have a hard time not bringing them into my home for a hot meal, warm shower and warm place to lay their heads. I am told you just get used to seeing the homeless and that after awhile it doesn’t bother you. I suppose this is true but I still have a hard time imaging it not bothering me. My son tells me that I wouldn’t do well living where he did in Florida because there are a lot of homeless people(which makes perfect sense that if you are going to be homeless better in Florida then Minnesota)and it was hard for even him to see this.

I have had two experiences with homeless people that left me changed and with the desire to always do more and.

My very first experience with a homeless person was in Florida, when we took our one and only family vacation, back when my older children were young. We were at a gas station and while my husband  put gas in, the kids were getting food out of the coolers as I was waiting to take some of the younger  children into the gas station to use the restroom. I was looking out my window when I spotted this elderly woman pushing a grocery cart full of bags towards us. I gasped as I realized this was likely a homeless woman.

She kept walking towards us through this packed and busy gas station. I stared at this poor woman walking towards me. She was so thin and the closer she got, I realized that she was even older than I first suspected. Our eye’s locked as she got closer to us. She started mouthing something to me, so I jumped out of the car and as she got to me I realized that her mouth was so dry that she couldn’t get the words out. She was trying to say, “Water.” One of the kids handed me a bottle of water and I handed it to her. She drank and drank. She stopped and said “Thank you dear one.” before she began to drink some more.


After she drank the first bottle of water, I handed her another. I then handed her a big jug of water which she put inside her shopping cart amidst some bags and cans. She just stood next to our van drinking the water and looking and smiling at me and my family as we all smiled at her. Her clothing and shoes were worn and I wondered if we had anything that would fit her frail thin body. As I scanned her face I speculated that she was at least 70 but looked older than that. What I remember most is the way she looked into my eye’s. It’s was almost eerie…as if she were speaking to me. It felt like her blue eye’s were looking into my soul. My eye’s welled up with tears at the thought of her being homeless.

There was something about her that I just wanted to tell her to get inside our van and come home with us. 

I didn’t really know what to say to her, and then it dawned on me to give her some food. I turned around in my seat and asked my kids to make some sandwiches and to put them into a bag for me to give to her. I turned back around to tell her we had some food but in those mere seconds she was gone. I got out of the car and searched for her. It was like she had disappeared into thin air. I walked around the entire gas station and even went inside, all while asking people if they had seen her. Not one single person had seen this woman.

How could no one else have seen her but us? She had walked in front of at least 15 people to get to our car and the parking lot was full of people. After paying for our gas,  my husband slowly drove around the neighborhood as we looked for her. She was no where to be found and as I realized this I felt sick. I felt horrible that I had not given her food or even some money for food or water. As we drove away from there I sobbed.

It broke my heart knowing that this elderly woman was out living on the streets. It saddened me that I hadn’t given her food before she disappeared into thin air. Seriously though, how does a person go from standing right outside your van door one second to not being anywhere, less then 30 seconds later?

I’ve never forgotten this woman and it has forever haunted me that I acted too slowly. I’ve prayed for her off and on over the years and I hope that somehow she found her way off of the streets.

My other experience was some years later with a homeless elderly man, in North Carolina. He was standing on the side of the road, holding a sign that said, “I will work for food.” After pulling over and buying him some burgers, coffee and water, I will never ever forget this man as I walked up to him. The smile on his face as he greeted me. And his piercing eye’s.

What is it with people’s eye’s?

As I handed him the food and drink, he asked me if  he could do some work for me in payment. I explained to him that my home was in Minnesota and that if I had room in my little car I would bring him back with me and he could be my handyman. He made some remark about it being cold and having a lot of snow in Minnesota and I affirmed that he was correct and that he probably wouldn’t want to live there. He then asked if it was okay if he prayed a blessing on me for my kindness.

I will never ever forget this man’s voice as he prayed for me, my travels and blessings on my life. I will also never forget how his hand that was touching my back, felt like a hot iron burning through me. After he finished praying I gave him a hug and walked away. There was a moment while I was walking away that I wanted to turn around, go back and ask him to come back to Minnesota with me. I did stop and turn back around and he was standing there with one of the burgers already in his hand. He smiled and hollered “Bless you my angel.”, while waving his burger at me.

I cried while driving away that day but for different reasons then with the homeless woman. There was something about this man when he was praying for me that still to this day send chills down my spine when I recall it. He called me his angel but really it felt like he was mine.

What broke my heart even more was the reaction of a woman that witnessed my interaction with this man. She approached me and basically said I should not be involving myself with the “dirt of society”(her words not mine).

 Both of these experiences opened my eye’s to the fact that homelessness happens to all ages and how very sheltered I’ve been from this sad reality my whole life. I think the fact that both of them were elderly made it even harder to stomach. Reality is, homelessness exists whether it is because of poor choices or bad luck. Either way it’s very sad. While I know some choose this way of life on purpose, many don’t. 

I suppose if I seen this day after day and experienced people begging me for money going to and from work every single day, I would grow immune to it too. When you hear stories of professional beggars and of people not willing to work, it can make us cynical. It can cause us to group all homeless people into the same category instead of seeing them as individuals. And it can make us forget that they are human and that not all of them are out to get something for free.

Yet for the life of me, I cannot imagine the humiliation of having to stand on the side of a busy road holding a sign that says, “I will work for food,” I imagine when one is hungry and desperate enough and has children to feed, they will do whatever it takes to survive.


Could it be that some of them were so down on their luck that when they lost everything, they lost their self worth along the way? Or what if mental illness struck and took over one’s ability to care for themselves and somehow lost their way? These people that didn’t have anyone reaching a hand out to help them get back on their feet, are they worth less than the rest of us?  After being alone and down for so long, does one just give up because they’ve lost hope? Do they just settle for a life of homelessness? Do they just stop believing in something more?

What would you or I do if tragedy hit our lives and we lost what we had? What if mental illness had chosen us? What would we do if we found ourselves living out of our car or on the street? With no where to go and with no one to help us?  

I am left feeling very grateful that my circumstance in life have not left me baron of shelter from the cold or elements, food for our stomachs, or people that love and care about us….and that we are free of mental illness or disease that can steal our ability to make good decisions…and that we are blessed to know enough people that would take us in before letting us be on the streets.

I cringe at the thought of being homeless, let alone in Minnesota. So today I pray a little harder for those in need of food and shelter from this cold…and for those that are just a step away from homelessness and for those so poor in spirit because of financial distress that they have stopped believing in something more.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care or that I could numb this ache in my heart for those hurting, sick or less fortunate. I keep wishing to do more but as hard as I try to do little things to make a difference it almost seems futile.  

I don’t know what the answer to this issue is but I do know that looking at them as the dirt of society is not the answer nor is pretending that they don’t exist. Poor choices or not, are they not human beings?

Until next time, hugs & love, Lori


Monday, December 6, 2010

Celebrating a daughter

Everyone should be so blessed to have such daughters as I do, as they are each beautiful and amazing women but today I share with you my eldest daughter since it is her birthday today.  Today’s post is her story and I dedicate it to her.

Dear Daughter #1,

Today I celebrate you, sweet daughter of mine, that was first to make me Mommy.

I think back to those early day’s of you…of being so scared and realizing the greatness of my responsibility to you. Here I was, a child myself, holding this beautiful baby girl and just being in awe of you.

To this day, I believe you came to me as a divine and perfect gift, for a purpose that was beyond what my young eye’s could see.


You were my first and you taught your mother well. I read every parenting book on the library shelf and it didn’t take me long to realize that while parenting books are great for giving guidelines and  basic information, children are the best teachers. You were a gentle little teacher and with you I grew up.

When one of your first words was “pretty”,and all you wanted to wear was dresses, I remember thinking how can this little girl be mine? You loved everything girl…pink and purple, pretty dresses and shoes(see? even back then you were obsessed with shoes :) , pretty things in your hair, playing house and your favorite pink dolly that you named Lolly.


You were so excited about your little sister that came 16 months later but it didn’t take very long before you asked me to take her back to where I got her from. Still you grew to love her too and the best of friends the two of you were. You would nurse your dollies while I nursed your sister and talk to me like you were a Mommy too. The two of you were like night and day and even now when I have the rare opportunity to see the two of you together, I see these differences.


One after another as your siblings came, you were the model big sister. You helped and nurtured them like a little mother. You played house with them and of course you had to be the Mommy.

I am sure that as the years went by, you grew tired of this role of being the oldest. I know your siblings exasperated you time and again but you were the best big sister they could have asked for.

When I looked at this picture taken this past weekend, of you with your two brothers, my heart leapt at the sight of the 3 of you all grown up.

toni, adam and jason celebrating her birthday

It seems like it was just yesterday when you were making them play school with you.

I remember watching and listening as you played school with them and of course you were always the teacher. Even then, you were a very good teacher.

At the end of every school year, as teachers cleaned out their rooms, you loaded up the things they were getting rid of and proudly carried them home with you. I would cringe as I watched you walk up the street with your arms loaded and a big smile on your face.

When you came to me at the start of your junior year with news of a baby coming in May, I cried because I feared that you would lose or give up all of your dreams. I cried because I know the price of young motherhood. I am sure in that moment of sharing the news and us crying and hugging, that you might have wondered of my love for you. I am sure that you wondered even more when I drove off after saying I just needed some time to think.

I needed to collect myself…to cry and get out all my personal feelings all out so that I could be the mother to you that you deserved and the grandmother that this baby deserved as well. If you had any doubts at all honey, please know my love never ever left you.  

The day’s and weeks that followed were one’s you made me proud. I know all too well the pain of disappointing family and facing people that gossip in small towns and you handled yourself above reproach. I told you to not hang your head in shame and your didn’t. You faced your family, school and community with such humility. All those people that said your life was over because you had a child did not know you very well at all, because those that did, knew that you are a determined strong young woman and never stopped believing in you. What I would give now to go back to all those judgmental gossiping people and say, “Look at her now!”

Every child deserves to be wanted and celebrated, no matter the circumstances and it was a joy to prepare with you, for her birth.

I made you promise that if you were going to keep and raise this baby that you would not give up on your dreams of being a teacher. You worked your tail off. You participated in school activities and continued to excel in your studies. You did not use this as an excuse to give up and missed very little school even though you gave birth in early May of your junior year.

Experiencing the birth of your own daughter was one of the most beautiful amazing experiences of my life. You made me a mother and your daughter made me a grandmother. As I cried tears of joy in those moments I was beyond proud of you. What a gift she was and continues to be. I truly believe that like you, when you came to me, she came for a divine and perfect purpose for you and her father. As I watched you hold your sweet little girl in those first moments, my mind flashed back to those days that you played Mommy to all your dollies. In that moment you went from being my little girl holding her dolly, to a Mommy holding her heart in arms.

As I watched you become a Mommy you took your role seriously. Even with all of your family’s support, I am amazed by how you balanced being a new Mommy with school work and work at such a young age. What a honor it was for me to travel that journey with you and I could not imagine what life would be like without that beautiful daughter of yours.


My heart could not be prouder of the two of you, as you make this journey as mother and daughter.


You were remarkable as you put yourself through college in 3 years and graduated with honors, all while raising a well behaved little girl. Even now I am in awe of all that you accomplished and that you never gave up, even though I know there were times you wanted to.

When you and your little family moved across the country to make a new life for yourselves, it felt like a part of me was cut off. It took time for me to adjust to not having you and your daughter close by but I have learned to celebrate your wings and that you have went after your dreams.

I remember the first time I had the honor of sitting in your classroom and watching you teach. I was thoroughly amazed. In those moments, memories of you playing teacher as  a little girl, flashed through my mind and here you were standing in front of me doing that which you loved. Teaching. You do more than teach. You care and you take the extra steps to make sure that the children in your care are not only learning but that they are loved. The beauty that is you, puts your whole heart into whatever you do, so I have no doubts in my mind that you deserved winning teacher of the year 2 times over the past 7 years of teaching.

It seems like forever since I was last there when you got married to the love of your life 3 years ago. I wish that I could see and hug the two of you more often. My heart aches to do this, just at the sight of this picture of the two of you.



You have went through some very hard times in your life. You have experienced heart ache and pain. While some would have used these things to quit, you didn’t. While some would have shirked their responsibilities off to others, you didn’t. You have never used the hard things in life as excuses to be anything less than the beautiful woman that you are.

I know I’ve not been the perfect Mom. I know all too well the mistakes I made and the hard times I put you through. I will be forever grateful for the gift of grace you have given me and for not holding these things against me. I will be forever thankful that you have stood by me through the hard times in my life.

Oh daughter of mine, I cannot imagine my life without you. You are a divine and perfect gift. I celebrate your entrance into the world today. I celebrate the loving, giving, caring, kind and beautiful woman, that you are. I celebrate that you have chosen a life of forgiveness and grace over a life of bitterness and hate...and you and I both know, that with everything you have went through, you very well could have chosen that path. 

I celebrate the path you have chosen. I celebrate that you have never forgotten the One that created you..."for I am fearfully and wonderfully made". He gave you to me as a gift and I will never stop thanking Him for the gift of you...for letting me be your mother and now also your friend.

May you always be true to yourself. May you never stop going after your dreams.

Happy Birthday dear daughter…may your day be filled with knowing how much your life means to so many…may you have a glimpse of how truly magnificent you are.


My heart is with you honey…I am there is spirit and you are forever and always in my heart. Miles may separate us but love keeps us a heart beat away from each other. I love you to the moon and back my first daughter of mine. Mom

That is the story of my first born. Soon I will write the stories of my 2 other adult daughters and share them with you as well.

Thank you for all of your kind words and support to my last post. I am in complete awe of you people. Your comments and private e-mails reminded me of what angels you are and how very blessed I am to be a part of this wonderful caring community. I am deeply humbled to be on the receiving end of such love and kindness. From the bottom of my heart thank you.

Happy Monday. Hope it is marvelous!

Until next time, love & hugs, Lori



Thursday, December 2, 2010

No Boys Allowed

What should one do when life serves up a shit sandwich? Say, “No thank you, I’ll take the ignorant bliss instead please.” ? Or just pretend it’s not a shit sandwich and eat it with a smile on our faces anyways? Or throw myself a grand ole pity party? Or write a long post in an effort to still my mind?

For my husband to complain about something that is going on with him, I know it must be bad because he rarely ever does. So when he told me about some issues he is having I encouraged him to see the doctor right away. He didn’t want to go because we don’t have insurance. (The little’s qualify for insurance through the state so they are covered.) He went yesterday and found out he needs surgery. After said surgery he cannot work for a minimum of 6 weeks.

At least 6 weeks with no money other than my measly checks coming in a little money we get for raising the little’s.

His job requires constant lifting of heavy crates which is what caused this to happen. This means his boss needs to find someone to replace him for this period of time. The good in this is that his boss is going to find out just how much my husband does in his 12-14 hour days and I will be very surprised if he can find someone who is as fast and efficient as my husband. Plus there will be someone trained to do his route should he ever want some time off in the future. The only time he has had off in 4 years is when we went to my daughters wedding in Florida. And it took the guy that replaced him during that time, twice as long to do his route and his route has grown a lot since back then.

Or maybe it’s time for him to find a different job since that is something he has talked about doing for the last couple of years?

The reason we don’t have insurance is because we cannot afford it. Before getting the little’s, my husband had insurance even though it cost an arm and a leg. We all know raising children even in the frugal manner that we live, is not cheap. Taking the little’s has meant the sacrifice of things like insurance, new clothes and going out for entertainment. This goes without saying that they are without a doubt worth ever single sacrifice.

I just wish we could figure out a way to make ends meet and afford these extra things, like insurance. Ever since I got hurt, my earning ability has been severely cut. Had I not gotten hurt, I would have moved up in the company I worked for, would have insurance for myself and family, and my earning potential would be double of what it is now. The bonus was that I loved this job that I was passionate about and seen myself in it for the long haul. Instead I am only allowed to work two 7 hour days in a week. Since my workers compensation does not have to supplement my income anymore because it ran out a long time ago, my ability to help make these ends meet, is very little.

Do not get me wrong, I love what I do now. In fact, I would say I am passionate about being a personal care giver. I love and respect the woman I care for. I love that I am getting this time at home with the little’s. I love that I am feeling a little bit less pain now that I am not working as much. Ssshhh don’t tell my husband that I said that because I offered to call my doctor and request that he remove all restrictions so that I could work at least full time. Then at least we would have some money coming in while he can’t work. He would hear none of this.

The thing is, I feel guilty that all of this falls on his shoulders. He never ever complains and not for one second has he ever made me feel badly for having this injury. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Now that he has been having some pain he says to me, “My god, how you live with pain and are still able to smile every single day is beyond me.”

One nice thing about not having extra money is that I do not have to go Christmas shopping. When my work hours got cut a few months ago we decided back then that we would not go into debt for Christmas. Now that this is happening we simply cannot afford to take money from our savings for frivolous things. Of course Santa will still come with a gift or two for the little’s,thanks to one of you angel’s that sent a gift card our way without even knowing any of this was going on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts for people. I just don’t like the shopping part. I would be lying if I said that not getting to buy Christmas gifts for my children and grandchildren didn’t bother me. It would greatly help if they were all selfish brats that expected and begged for things. Instead they say things like, “Oh Mom it’s not a big deal.” or “That’s not what Christmas is about Mom.” or “Grandma do you need me to give you some money or for me to share some of my gifts with you?” Instead they are to darn sweet and understanding which only makes me want to buy something special for them. Darn kids.

Instead, our plans are to get busy in the kitchen, work some of our magic and make some gifts for our loved ones, since we already have most of the ingredients on hand anyways. Sending off some of our homemade love to those we are crazy about will give  little “Rachel Ray” and “Emeril” a fun time in the kitchen. If you didn’t already know the little pretend to be Rachel and Emeril. 

I am concerned about how we are going to live during this time of him not being able to work. I am concerned about how all of this is going to play out over the next couple of months. I am concerned that this stress is going to affect making this a joyful magical Christmas for the little’s.

The weight of the worry about my husbands health is above all else, so take my house and van, take our material processions, take the internet, cable and telephones but please God don’t take my husband. I could live without those other things but I don’t want to live without him. I could if I had to, but I don’t want to. 

Please, please, please do not think I share this with you so that you feel sorry for us. I share this with you because I need your encouragement and support of prayer(If you’re someone who prays) and I just really needed to lay this all out.

I lay out all of these worries or concerns and yet I know without a doubt how blessed we are and really we have so much. I do believe all things happen for a purpose whether we can see it or not. I also know that worry or panicking will not help us.

An ambulance siren is going off as I type and I stop to pray for whoever is hurt or sick and I am reminded it could be worse …we are in a warm home in the midst of the snow and cold…we have food to prepare and eat…our home is full of much more than material things…love abounds…abundance surrounds us…all to remind me that we will be fine.

A birthday party is coming and we have  been invited to come just as we are.  Worry and stress are not invited.  Time to decorate. Time to hang the balloons and banners. Time to prepare the gifts that we will bring to the guest of honor. Time to make merry and enjoy all that is. Time to be still and know that all is well.

It is the season of peace & joy and good will towards all men. I am determined that they will reign in this home and in my heart.

To end on a lighter note, I share with you another glimpse into life with the little’s.

When I walked by little lady’s bedroom last evening, I seen this taped on the outside of her bedroom door…


Let me translate what this sign means. No boys allowed. How she comes up with this stuff is beyond me.

Of course little man had to retaliate by hanging up his own sign on his bedroom door…


He informed me that he was so happy with the girl that he drew that he didn’t want to cover it up with an X so he put the X above the girl but that it still means no girls allowed in his room except for me. Lucky me.

I told them that it might make Santa sad that they were not going to be sharing their toys anymore. Little lady’s reply was, “Well, Santa’s a boy so he can’t come into my room either.”

Little man didn’t respond until he woke me up at 5:45 am this morning to tell me that he had taken down his sign so that Santa wouldn’t be sad.

Little lady informed me this morning that she is pretty sure that Santa is too busy right now to fly over us to check up on them so the sign is staying.

It’s a darn good thing we have a sense of humor at this house.

Tis the season to be jolly.

Thank you for listening and your prayers are deeply appreciated.

Until next time, love & hugs, Lori