May I?

I love these things in May {a list}

  • I’ve got pieces of April, I keep them in memory bouquet. I’ve got pieces of April, but it’s a morning in May.“* All the hopes that sprang in April now blossom in May. Remember what your Kindergarten teacher told you, because it is true: April showers bring May flowers!  {*Pieces of April, a song by Three Dog Night, naturally}
  • Tara Jean, Stephanie May and Gemma May: all born in springs’ most surprising and spirited month. They’ve each taken on those characteristics!

steph and her cake

Stephanie let me make her a 4-layer, wedding-white cake with buttercream icing, topped with baby’s breath and scattered caramel macchiato macarons from Happy Bakeshop in Longmont (Cake design inspired by the amazing Constellation Inspiration).

  • Fully leafed trees, that bright, light, spring-green thing that happens. And carpets of lush green grass, chlorophyl all around!
  • I love these bright, sunny days that give way to sudden, dark, thundery showers, then perk right back up to sunlight and a spring song. The sunsets are more colorful, the air is cleaner, and the grass even greener.
  • Memory: splashing in curbside puddles after a spring rain as a kid. Wish I’d done that more. I wonder what the neighbors might think if I…
  • Store-bought tomatoes (at the best markets) are beginning to have some flavor again while my heirlooms are settling in their soil, gearing up to give me brag-worthy homegrowns come July.
  •  I painted my nails with purple polish to match my pansies and freshly potted petunias, but it didn’t last, not even 2 days, because it’s May! Yes, of course I have very pretty sky-blue gardening gloves. But sometimes, you must sink your hands into the soil, to really understand the essence of living. I came from the dust of the earth. Plunging my hands deep as I plant, I am home…
  • It is the anniversary of our very first date, Dave and I. He said today, on Facebook, “The beginning of my life…” I melt.  I didn’t know it was a date (I hoped), he did. It involved a Rock Hudson movie and Barry Manilow. And it has worked out for us, I am happy to report. Dave is the one. :)

The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.
Edwin Way Teale

I love the month of May and wish we could have another 3 weeks of it, at least. And I love making lists. May all things seems possible for you today! In May… :)  xoxo

When it’s Springtime in the Rockies

When the buds unfurl, when the pear trees blossom, as the lilacs burst forth in their purple glory, when the grass grows green and the gardening bug bites, you can bank on it: some freak winter storm will zoom through the valley in a mix of wet and white, create a rush on milk, eggs and toilet paper, and break the branches on our flowering trees, generally creating havoc. Never you mind that we always need that moisture in these arid parts. By this late date I just want to be living in flip-flops!

Shame on you, Home Depot and Lowes, for enticing shoppers with those tender tomato plants and petunias. 

People, dear friends, do not be deceived by this. Wait until after Mother’s Day to plant petunias, zinnias, squash, beans, tomatoes, and cukes! Wait, I say, waaaait!

denver spring forecast

April 28, and the forecast is rainy mixed with snow = heavy, wet slush. There go my lilacs, darn it!

Ode to My Sandy, the Junkyard Dog

sandy old-sandy-1024x702

03.28.15. Saturday.

On a bright, warm, sunny Saturday morning, just minutes after she arrived home, she just sort of sat down and collapsed and gasped a few times and she was gone, her hair shimmering like silver diamonds in the morning light on a soft bed of fresh spring-green growth.

Dave was with her. “It’s ok, you’re home now,” he said. Then he told her it was ok for her to go. And so she did.

She came.

We got Sandy almost exactly 14 years before she died.

Steph was a college student working part time at the BFI landfill office near Denver International Airport. Some one had abandoned this woolly, frightened mutt there and she was running wild, looking for food and afraid of everyone and her own shadow. Stephanie spotted her and started working on becoming friends. She mentioned maybe bringing the pup-dog home and did not get an enthusiastic response from me. Not at all.

But for some reason, Dave went to see Steph one day and he returned with this crazy-looking, fuzz-exploding full-grown dog.

She was afraid of her shadow, this canine, afraid of us, afraid of the freak spring-snow we’d just gotten; she was afraid to move off the oval rug, her feet planted firmly as though she were hoping Scotty would indeed beam her up and away from our staring eyes. Her little spirit had been broken, somehow, by the completely stupid idiots who had dumped her at the landfill. Their loss was our total, joyful, utter gain!

We always joked that we found a junk-yard dog and she never quit looking like she was fresh from the junkyard. She loathed baths and thought any sort of grooming was pure torture. She was a trembling, hairy mess, but we quickly saw the rich sweetness of her, the deep pools of love and loyalty behind those brown eyes.

What shall we name her, we wondered? We toyed with Chewbacca (“Chewie,” for short), for she was similarly furry and gentle. But we couldn’t resist the name of the dog from the Annie movie the kids had grown up watching and since her hair was a millions shades of beige and brown, gold and copper, silver and cool grey, plus black and brown – “Sandy” seemed appropriate.

Ever heard the song from the musical, Annie, “Sandy?”

True he ain’t pedigreed, Sandy, there ain’t no better breed.
And he really comes in handy,
‘Specially when you’re all alone in the night
and you’re small and terribly frightened it’s
Sandy, Sandy who’ll always be there!

Well, our Sandy was a girl. But those very words could have been written of our dog, “it’s Sandy, Sandy who’ll always be there…”

sandy in annie

She actually got to play Sandy in a community theater production of Annie. This was a publicity shot in 2010.

She won our hearts

So we had this wild mutt. She became one of us immediately. She fit. She was born for us, for our family, I am completely certain. Sandy-the-dog was perfect for us.

We didn’t know her age, but she was full-grown. An early vet visit declared she was “4,” but another one several years later also declared her “4.” So, we know she was probably 1-2 years old when we got her fourteen years ago.

But she was an old soul, right out of the gate. She was able to navigate our huge family (5 kids, high school and college age) and  our loud house full of friends and visitors. She was wise and deep in her devotion, love-filled and loyal, generous in adoration of her people and affectionate, loving those belly rubs and declaring anyone who would take the time to pet her to be her best friend for life! She just made sure you knew she was right there if you needed her.

mom and sandy 2009

My mom and Sandy, summer 2009. They’re like sisters from different mothers, personality-wise. It was as if they’d always been close.

She was Steph’s dog, then Steph got married and she became Rocky’s dog. Then he got married and she was Stormie’s dog. Then Stormie bought a house and she became my dog and I didn’t even really want that, but good grief, how had I lived without that? She was my buddy, my friend, my shadow. She worked with me in the garden, or she napped lazily there while I worked, but we loved spring and sunny days together.

She sat as close to me as possible at all times and was my most trusted confidante during hard times and when I cried, she would move in close, place her paw and her face on my knees and look me straight in the face, as if to say, “There, there – everything will be ok. I’m right here.” She caught my tears when they fell.

I once wrote of her, on a blog way back when {click here} and said

She lives for love and lives to love.  The slightest kindness or gentle word from me and Sandy thumps a Morse-Code message of affection back to me with her ample tail.

Sandy was totally undisciplined, as “good” dogs go, never really trained for “show.” She lived her life with us sort of free–form and relaxed.  She feigned deafness when it suited her, but could hear the crackling of a bag of chips from miles away. Her breed, German Wire-Haired Pointer, hunts birds, so she’d bark her head off at a bird flying overhead, then just lie quietly, her head on her paws and watch little birds bathe in her water dish on sunny days on the patio. She’d even welcome them to her food, gentle spirit that she was. Or fraidy-cat, whichever. :)

But she was a good dog. Because a good dog teaches us so much about love and loyalty and forgiveness. Sandy did that for me. She was affectionate and humble, sweet and protective, saving me from many a solicitor at the front door. Her bark could scare, but we always laughed that had a burglar just reached out to her, she’d have given them anything and everything they wanted.

I loved her stretch, her behind in the air, back-back-back, then forward lunge, with her face to the sky, all the while making a loud old-man stretching sigh. Or how she’d grab a dryer sheet and waller all over it, so she’d smell nice for us, I assume.

sandy and me 12 27 14

A few months before “the day”

My old Sandy-girl, she was faithful and loving and loyal to all of us, the whole tribe of us, including each new grandchild as they came. Once she learned on the first grandchild, how to love and protect, she always understood, new baby by baby. They trusted her, too. She was our dog and we were her people.

sandy oct 2014

Sandy with my grandson Kai. He was 1 3/4. About 6 months before Sandy died.She patently waits, hoping he’ll send chicken her way.

Sandy never met a human being she didn’t want to love zealously with her whole heart and to forgive if they didn’t like dogs or just couldn’t return her affection.

Oh, she was a lover.

me and sandy 2004

The end.

We were planning to put her down soon, as ailments of old-age were taking a toll, but on that Saturday morning, when my husband took her into the backyard on the brightest and loveliest of spring days, she just dropped and gasped a few times and he gently gave her the ok to go.

I wasn’t ready…

And even though I ran out, dropped to the ground and called to her, Sandy-girl, hey girl, are you ok?, Hey Sandy, come here, girl...trying to woo her back, gently jostling and petting my old dog to awaken her, she kept on going.

The birds were singing in the blue, blue sky, and the old trees were filled with youthful, green buds for a new season, a new life; and the day was alive, humming its spring melody, so perfectly beautiful – just like every day Sandy gave us for 14 years.

Hey, Sandy-girl, dear old devoted dog. You are not forgotten. Your people still love you…

“They’re doing the best they can”

A friend of mine has chosen to believe that about people. Even people who let her down, or worse. She steps back, assesses the sometimes blazing damage done to the relationship in a fit of chaotic immaturity, when some one has lied about her or accused her of something or stolen from her or disrupted the peace in her life. And she decides to see it this way,

“They’re doing the best they can, most people are. They didn’t mean to cause all this damage.”

crowd-of-people

{source}

I had a meeting today at the coffee shop with a really young woman (really young) who brings light into every room she enters. I was giving advice from the much travelled and loooooong road of my life to this dazzling “younger woman in the faith,” to share my experience in hopes she’ll avoid some of the distractions and missteps I’ve made.

We got to talking about Jesus {great topic, huh?}, the way He dealt with people, how He saw them. He just went around “doing good and healing all who were oppressed.” He talked to the outcasts, and He dined with society’s most hated. He set the sinful on fire with forgiveness, conversed intelligently with the rich and powerful and dealt gently with the poor. He told good stories and drew crowds. He touched blind eyes and deaf ears and people everywhere wanted what He could give.

But He didn’t entrust Himself to people’s whims and opinions and judgements. He didn’t allow people’s  actions or words or acceptance or rejections to sway who He was and why He came. He didn’t let His love die out based on the things they did, “for while we were yet sinners…”  He didn’t “entrust Himself to them,” or as one translations says, “He did not entrust His life to them.”

John 2.23-25 Amp.  “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in His name [identifying themselves with Him] after seeing His signs (attesting miracles) which He was doing. But Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people [and understood the [superficiality and fickleness of human nature],  and He did not need anyone to testify concerning man [and human nature], for He Himself knew what was in man [in their hearts—in the very core of their being].”

And yet, and perhaps because He understood humankind and the all the ways we are quick to judge and condemn and criticize and withdraw – in spite of the fact that He could truly see people for who they were and what they were about, He loved them. And that love led Him straight to the cross for the these same (fickle) people, and you and me.

Sometimes we are moved to jump straight into the amazingly good and messiness of relationship because of love. But  something untoward happens and we emerge wounded and shredded and torn up and surprised and mad and vowing we’ll never do that again. People let us down. Sometimes people do worse. Sometimes we’re shocked they could treat us so badly “after all I have done for them.”

But I bet the problem was us (don’t ask me how I know). Sometimes we entrust ourselves, giving power to others and their opinions and wishes; we give away a part of ourselves when it wasn’t a required part of just loving them. Then we’re disappointed, we’re ticked. But parts of own hearts are out there walking around in some one else’s possession – and we have let that happen. Of course we’re wounded – they possess what we gave!

If Jesus had done relationships like we do, He’d probably have been pretty ticked off at us as He hung on the cross. But He’d kept His heart intact. He loved people. He did good to them. He blessed them and forgave them and healed them. But He kept His heart whole and healthy, whole and holy – strong for the mission. He remained wholehearted. And so He was able to show the ultimate love. He is love.

instapray dot com

{source}

Like my friend reminds me, “People are doing the best they can.” They’re probably not actually trying to be the biggest jackwagons in the world, probably not trying to ruin your life, not meaning to let you down or disappoint you. They’re doing the best they can and when they know to do better, they usually will.

Know how I know? ‘Cause that’s what you do. And me, too. We are all just doing the best we can and learning as we go.

Oh, to be like Jesus…

“…looking unto [fixing our eyes on] Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12.2

 

The Family Table

PARENTHOOD -- Season: 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman, Erika Christensen as Julia Braverman-Graham, Joy Bryant as Jasmine Trussell, Tyree Brown as Jabbar Trussell, Dax Shepard as Crosby Braverman, Sarah Ramos as Haddie Braverman, Lauren Graham as Sarah Braverman, Bonnie Bedelia as Camille Braverman, Max Burkholder as Max Braverman, Craig T. Nelson as Zeek Braverman, Peter Krause as Adam Braverman, Mae Whitman as Amber Holt, Miles Heizer as Drew Holt, Sam Jaeger as Joel Graham, Savannah Paige Rae as Sydney Graham -- Photo by: Florian Schneider/NBC

{source} Parenthood cast, from season 2 NBC

While I was sick last month with the winter-crud, I binge-watched the final season of Parenthood. My favorite scenes were always where the whole family came together to share a meal. Dave loves the show Blue Bloods for the same reason – those Reagan-family Sunday dinners.

blue bloods family dinner

{source} Blue Bloods, CBS

At exactly 5 o’clock pm while I was growing up, every night of the week (except Sunday, when we’d wait to eat until after Sunday night church service), my mom had dinner on the table. Like all families, we were busy with life, mostly school and church. And since my dad was the pastor of the church, he was preaching mid-week services, or visiting the sick, or leading board meetings a lot of the evenings. He worked hard all day and continued his ministry in the evenings. So that 5 o’clock suppertime was our family time. Ross-the-Boss, Mrs Moss and all the Little Landers.

Though I couldn’t have realized then the power of the connectivity of those simple meals, usually always served with white bread and butter on the side, I cherish those people and those nightly meals in the halls of my heart. I cannot imagine a simpler, nor safer time, than around that table.

gather restaurant

{source}

When Dave and I were raising our kids, we ate around the table, too,  though the hour could be anywhere from 6 to 8 o’clock, even later (which my parents found mortifying). We ate at the table until life got really hectic as the kids got older and we let up. As the first of our kids became busy teens, we drifted from the table. We still hung out together as often as possible, had “family days” with just us, sometimes eating on the back deck or at a local eatery, but often it was a pizza while watching a movie. Together, but not talking, not having “face time.”

These days, 4 added-on children by marriage plus the ten grandbebes they have blessed us with, it’s hard to find a table big enough. But each time we can make it happen, find a few hours to get together and share a meal in a crowded room or at a park, our hearts nearly explode with love.

We’re a big group now. 21 of us, so far. If we thought the late nineties were a challenge with 7 of us, we could not have comprehended these days.

Christmas afternoon 2015

The Dave & Jeanie Rhoades Tribe, Christmas afternoon, 2015

Last night we all came together. We gathered for the first time, the whole bunch of us in one place, since Christmas. It was “Italian night,” with pastas in cream sauce and paleo variations, too. We topped it off with the seriously sweet “Fruit Pizza” in celebrating Averi’s 8th birthday. And some of us ate in the kitchen and we popped up a table in the living room and some ate seated on the floor or sprawled on the couch.

And I am fully aware, in a way I didn’t understand 20 years ago, that these moments together are not promised, and they’re not easy to come by, but they’re worth the work to make happen.

Whenever I get the chance to nose in and disperse advice, I tell young families:

“Eat together. Eat supper (or dinner, or whatever you want to call it) around a table together. Make it a deal to set the table and cook the food. And don’t make my my mistake and let that go too early. Turn off the TV and talk. Talk about your highs and lows or how your day went or any number of mundane topics. Just look at each other and talk.” -this advice brought to you by an older and wiser woman

And I mean that. No matter how hard it is to establish the routine. or how many complaints you hear, this will be the most impactful hour of each day for your familia. I truly believe this: this is where family magic happens – breaking bread together, sharing daily life, being comfortable with “just us.”

I came across this commercial today and wanted to share it with you. It is what instigated this post.

Who Would You Most Like to Have Dinner With? By Masterfoods, Australia

“Let’s make time for the people who matter the most.”

Gather  –  Cook  –  Eat  –  Repeat

Face time your family. But for real, in person, around the table. Have dinner together. It will be the most powerful hour of your day. These are your people, they need your face, your words, your time and your love. Gather ’round the table and eat. Listen and share, give and receive. The family table is where it all begins…

magnolia market they broke bread

{source}  They broke bread in their houses and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Acts 2.26, Those Fixer Upper people do the coolest things – like that scripture on this wall!

Song for a Sunday // The Perfect Valentine

You don’t give Your love in pieces, You don’t hide Yourself to tease us…

My youngest daughter, Stormie, introduced me to a song a few months ago that is a powerful tribute to Love, true Love, the God-kind of Love; the Real Thing.

Amanda Cook and Steffany Gretzinger wrote this song, “Pieces.”

{{Chords and lyrics here}}

Love keeps its promises, it keeps its word

It honors what’s sacred, cause its vows are good

Your love’s not broken, it’s not insecure

Your love’s not selfish, Your love is pure

Happy Valentine’s Day, to all who need love. Here ya go!

jesus lover of my soul

1 John 3:1  See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

He is my Valentine

Dave.

he's my valentine30-umpteen years ago he stood at an altar and made an awful lot of promises to me about faithfulness and love in sickness and in health, through good times and bad. There is no way either of us could ever actually have comprehended the bends and twists and bumps in life’s roads. But those made-in-innocence-and-passion proclamations are turning out, one day at a time.

It isn’t so much that he promised me then, on a day of breathless anticipation, but that he keeps making promises, writing our future with the words he says to me, the things he does for me. And I know I can believe him because of all the years and all the love and all the ways he has quietly, but oh-so-faithfully held my heart, covered my brokenness, cheered me on to my best successes and been so very true in love.

There were obstacles. Things could have gone differently. But…He chose me. He married me. He keeps choosing me and the embers glow with white hot love, stronger as the years increase. He is my lover, my husband, my truest and most trusted friend. He is my heart and he is my home.

He is my Valentine.

My Dave, I am yours and you are mine.

“Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire,
    the brightest kind of flame.” Song of Solomon 8.6 NLT

May you love and be loved so, my friends and family. <3

Snow Babies, part two

The weekend following Thanksgiving, I hung out with 5 giggly girls – and a bunch of snow ever-so-fortuitously dumped on us. A great excuse for hats and boots and mittens and Nonna snapping some pics!

snow babies

How perfect is this? Then…

snow babies amelie

Yesterday I shared Snow Babies, part one, with snapshots of 5 of my cherished grandbebes (Gavin, Hunter, Malakai, Evangeline and Oliver). Today the rest: Guinivere, Gemma, Averi, Amelie, and Bailey.   All pics snapped on the iPhone 6+

And as fate would have it, today is a major ***Snow Day***

Guini

Guini texted that she wanted to spend her snow day with me. How sweet is that? She’s 10. She came over for a few minutes, but actually formed a band with her brother and sister. Their dad posted a few seconds of their performance on Instagram and  3 hours later, it has 1100 likes. 

Guini

Guinivere looking so grown up and so much like her mommy. Wasn’t that just yesterday?

Bailey Bailey

Bailey-Baby, 2. She’s the little, but oh-so-powerful one.

Gemma Gemma  gemma

Gemma May is 8 1/2. She is all the colors!

Averi  averi averi

Averi. She turns 8 tomorrow! 

amelie

Amelie sent me voice memos saying, “FaceTime us, Nonna, we’re having a snow day!” That melts my heart!

amelie amelie

Amelie is 5 and was the ornery one. Snow was flying very which way. And she couldn’t quit giggling and incriminating herself.

 

bailey baby

A bonus picture of Bailey from craft time. We made Saint Lucia crowns.

It is a white out in the Denver area. I texted all my grandbebes and said, “Look out at that white, white snow. See how pure it looks? Well, that’s what Jesus’ blood does to our messy, ugly sin. He covers it and then we are WHITER, even, that this snow! Can you believe it?! Whiter than snow!

Psalm 51.7 “…wash me, and I will be whiter than snow”

Promise I’ll go easy on the grand-kid pictures for awhile.  But I am a Nonna. What are you gonna do? :)

Snow Babies, part one

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned I have 10 grandchildren?

Haha! Just kidding. I know I have mentioned it.

FB collage

Our FB header recently

They are so much fun, these grandbebes of mine. They let me kiss their heads and squish their cheeks. They let me hug them tight and call them by many silly names of endearment. They call me Nonna. And that is enough to melt me all the way.

IMG_0346Gav 12 1/2  Gavin, 12 1/2Hunter 11 Hunter hands raised Hunter, 11
the boys Hunter and Gavin, cousins and buddies

What is it about grandkids? Why on earth do they turn us upside down in the most dazzling and deliriously happy way?

When Gavin came along, my very first grand-boy, almost 13 years ago, I wasn’t really seeing myself as a grandmother at all. I sure wasn’t going to be one of those people bragging about them, pulling out a stack of photos and gushing with pride. Yeah, right.

But this thing happens. I looked at my daughter just having had a baby and thought, “Wow – she is amazing, look what she did.” And in short order, I tumbled head-over-heels for this little red-headed guy.

IMG_0662

Evangeline is 2. And always looking for a reason to smile. Here, we had tossed some snow her way.

eva in snow

Evangeline and Oliver

The snow was so deep this day, we had Oliver on a little chair. I decided to re-do their a shoot a week later to make him more comfortable. But we got some great ones this snowy day!

Then came Hunter and it happened again. By the time Guini came along, a grand-girl, I knew to clear my schedule for falling in love.

Each time a grandbebe comes in to my life, I know it will never be the same. My heart gets bigger. It gets expanded and beats hotter with love, stronger love than I knew existed. It beats with wild joy and passion for another little human being, something of me, a part of me I’ll leave to the world. I will never get over these ten…and anymore who may come along. :)

Oliver happy Oliver, 10 months. He liked sitting on the ground a lot more  (especially since I covered it with a sheet)eva and oliver

IMG_0872_2oliver 10 months

On 5 different days, each with snow falling or on the ground or still around from a previous snow, my sweet grands let me snap some shots of them with a tree-on-fabric thing I got from IKEA a couple of years back. All snapped on the iPhone6+.

kai kai

Malakai, almost 3 here, just wanted to lob snowballs at his Nonna.

kai throwing snow at nonna kai smile

I live in Colorado. There will be snow. We need the snow. I certainly long for snow every single Christmas. After that – not as much snow zeal here. But these pictures of ten little human beings who love me like I love them? Well, they make the snow oh-so-much-more enjoyable. Oh yes, they do.

Let it blister and bluster and blow…Let it snow!

Lucky you…I’ll share 5 more of my sweet snow babies tomorrow, when I’ll likely be snowed all the way in!

Snow Babies, part two

 

Singing solo…

I recently looked back at my very first few blog posts, way back in the olden days of blogging. The first few were right around Christmas of 2006, so of course, I couldn’t help but talk about Christmas and all the ways I love it.

In this post {click here to see the original}, I shared a quote from a cup of Starbucks coffee. I liked it. I am glad I wrote it there.

singing solo...joining a group #quote

We can sing beautifully alone, but to add harmonies, to join with voices blending, sharing the emotion and depth of meaning in the words: this is best.  Life and songs and Christmas are meant to be shared.