B is for Boarding

My son, Maury, is a wonderful 11 year old who loves to play video games and, really, not much else. As soon as the car is headed back to the house after any time at all away from home, he is guaranteed to ask one of two things:

"Can I play on the computer when we get home?"


"Can I play on the Wii when we get home?"

When we went on vacation after Christmas last year to a resort in the Smokies with an indoor waterpark, Maury simply replaced his usual two questions with:

"Can we go to the arcade?"

We did take him to the arcade a few times, but we, naturally, spent at least some of every day at the waterpark. While there, Maury would spend a lot of time in one of the play areas spraying water at other kids and he would occasionally venture into the wave pool. He avoided the various water slides like the plague.

See, Maury has Asperger Syndrome, anxiety issues, and ADHD. This makes him socially immature, a little skittish, and very prone to running from one thing to another. So, the ways that Maury was playing at the waterpark made perfect sense...until he asked me if he could try out the body boarding.

This surprised me for several reasons. First of all, he had never tried it before and he's not one to sign up to try new things. Second, there was a long, slow moving line for it. Did he really want to wait and wait and wait like that? And, how odd for him to ask to try this on the last day of our trip. He hadn't shown any interest in it any of the other days we had been there.

But I'll be damned if he didn't stand in that line patiently, get on the board, and ride that simulated wave until the lifeguard blew the whistle that his time was up. He then rolled off the board, shot back to the top of the Surf Rider and was ready to hit the road for home.

I couldn't stop grinning I was so proud of him.


Things I learned on my spring break vacation

It's comforting when your child wants to buy a stuffed animal. It means they are still closer to be being your baby than they act like the whole rest of the day.

As well as you think you know your own children, they can always surprise you. Thank you, Maury, for going on Expedition Everest with me that second time.

You really can't judge a book by its cover. (Learned at the John and Mable Ringling Museum. Circus people. Fine art lovers.)

I do not appreciate nude sculptures. (Also learned at the John and Mable Ringling Museum.)

You should never go to the bathroom without your mommy. Wait. That is what Lizzie learned on her spring break vacation, not me.

I would love to be a Tumble Monkey in the Festival of the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom. I mean, really, who wouldn't love that?

It is exceedingly distressing to listen to two people in line behind you kiss over and over and over again.

Going on a roller coaster alone is better than not getting to go on it at all.

We can make a resort room just as messy as our own home...amazingly quickly. We are just that good, people.

Disney's Jungle Cruise? Rules.

I like vacation but I love my normal life and its routines...and the ability to have some time alone in it.

There is just about nothing else that makes me as happy as seeing the kids having fun together. Not fighting. Not ignoring each other. But actually acting as if they are friends.


Mable's Roses

Mable Ringling loved roses. On the grounds of the John and Mable Ringling Museum stands her rose garden and while none of the roses she planted in the early 1900's survived, there are some 1200 plants there now in the design she laid out then in a traditional Italian circular design. Roses of every variety and color are there and it was just amazing to stroll through.

It is so apparent after seeing all these varieties of beautiful roses that God loves to create...and show off a little, too. I'm so grateful for that.


Lenten Roses

Two weeks ago, I was walking on my favorite trail near work and, with an Artist’s Way task in mind, I was looking for flowers and leaves to collect. It was late February and I was pretty sure this task was going to turn into an exercise in noticing how dreary winter is. But, then I found an abundance of tiny yellow flowers (winter jasmine, perhaps?). They were all over the viney branches and they covered the ground below. Such an amazing show of beauty…and it reminded me that God is never skimpy, even in the depth of winter.

Further along in my walk, on a gravel path that winds through some wooded areas, I found an entire patch of flowers. They were beautiful, but I had no idea what they were.

When I went to the Botanical Gardens later that week, I found them there, as well.

When I went to my weekly Artist’s Way meeting, Joyce came in with some of them in a collection of flowers from her yard. (Synchronicity!) She told me they were helleborus, which I later found are also called Lenten Roses.

Today I was on the trail again and I had my camera with me as I was making this walk into not only my morning exercise, but also the week’s artist date. The roses were still in full glory still and I found them even more meaningful to me as yesterday was the beginning of the Lenten season.
I love how the blooms droop, as if hanging their heads in sorrow or in prayer. So very appropriate for a flower given the name of this season.


Taking something up

As I remember it, my mother was made to do every extracurricular activity there was when she was a girl and, not wanting to force things on my sister and I like she had had them forced on her, she never made us do anything.

A piano teacher lived two doors down from us and we never took lessons. Never took dance classes. Never played sports.

The only thing she made us do was learn to swim and that was probably because my sister jumped, without fear, into a hotel swimming pool when she was a toddler and scared the bejeezus out of my mom. After that, we took swimming lessons every summer.

The only thing I ever did do was take tennis lessons because it was the only thing I ever asked to do. I'm sure it was because the tennis court backed up to the swimming pool and, heck, why not take some tennis lessons while waiting on my sister's swim lesson to be finished?

I'm sure my mother asked us me if I wanted to do things. I'm certain she would have asked me about the piano lessons. But, what child says "YES!" to that when all she has seen is her friends dragging in the door of the piano teacher's house after school and hearing them complain about practicing?

Not this one.

As a result, I am now a 42 year old woman taking dance lessons at the studio where my daughter goes. Yup. I finally realized that I wished I had danced and decided to do something about it last year. I even danced, dressed up ridiculously as a rabbit, in last May's recital and will dance again this May. In just a year, I've matured from the lady who had to down a glass of wine before attending class to the one who won't curl up in the corner when some of the teenage dancers are in class with me.


Several years ago, the local university was switching out all of their practice pianos for new ones. We ended up with one of their old pianos and I bought a basic adult piano book so I could start to learn to play. I tried it a couple of times and it was frustrating.

I want to play Clair de Lune. I swear, that is my goal. And there is nothing in that book that is even close, let me tell you.


Today is Ash Wednesday, which always makes me think back to my upbringing in the Lutheran church and the feeling it left me with that I need to give something up for Lent. I thought about it this morning as I wrote my morning pages. I didn't really strike upon anything that seemed meaningful (chocolate? Diet Coke?) or doable (TV? being passive agressive?) to give up, so I decided what I needed to do was to take up something instead.

Maybe it's time to pick up that beginning piano book again and start the work to get to Clair de Lune. It's not like the ability to play it is just going to come to me one day. I have to work towards it.

And, really, isn't that the way it is with everything that is worth having?


A is for Auburn

My husband and I met at Auburn University. I was in grad school and was hanging out at the yearbook office between classes (because that is what I had done all through undergrad, after all). That is where I met the man of my dreams in the summer of 1990.

Fast forward more than 20 years, a mortgage and two children to today and you'll find us not only happily married but also continually grateful that we share a love for each other and a love for the college where we met.

We live in the state of Alabama, where college football is a religion. In fact, it's a religion much more likely to get you shot than any of your beliefs about whether you should be dunked or sprinkled when you are baptized. And, if you think that isn't an argument that can get heated...well, I bet you don't live in the Bible Belt.

Stephen and I look around each fall and see mixed marriages (the marriage of an Auburn alum to an Alabama alum) and wonder why anyone would get themselves into that predicament. During these past two football seasons, the first ending in another Alabama National Championship and the last ending in an Auburn National Championship, we are especially bamboozled by how it would work if you were married to someone who not only didn’t go to your beloved alma mater but...good grief...attended that other school.

So, each day as I thank the good Lord for my wonderful husband, I also sigh a breath of relief that we are in agreement when we choose to scream "War Eagle!" instead of the other state cheer.