Princess Anna’s Sparkly Birthday

My “baby” daughter, Princess Anna, had a birthday this past weekend.

Anna -- still a Princess, not really my "baby" any more!

Anna — still a Princess, not really my “baby” any more!

Many of you saw my plea on facebook or via email:

Daughter Anna turns 11 on Feb 2nd. We will have a small celebration with the family we are living with in Germany. There will be a big birthday party the following weekend for 2 of the children in this family. Anna understands in her head why we can’t have a big party with lots of guests and gifts for her…but she still gets teary thinking about it. And THAT makes this mama’s heart hurt for her.

So…I want to surprise her during her family “Sparkle Party.” Could you please send me (fb comment, fb message, or email) a short note for Anna, focused on “sparkles” or “glitter” and on how special SHE is? I will type them out, print them, cut them out, and tie each one with sparkly ribbon for her to open all the affirmations on her birthday!

THANK YOU in advance for helping her feel special! (Also, IF you are so inclined, please consider mailing a sparkly card to her for her to get an extra birthday surprise when we get back to Ohio in early March…I will message our address to anyone who wants to do this.)

Anna’s 11th birthday is over—celebrated with lots of SPARKLES! I thought you might like to see photos of four (count ’em, FOUR) days filled with special activities and fun.

Day One–early in the week Anna and I went clothes shopping. She needed new pants and wanted to add some sparkle to her wardrobe. (The shirt in the top photo was from this shopping expedition.)

Searching for a sparkly wardrobe is tons of work

Searching for a sparkly wardrobe is tons of work…

Obviously, we "needed" sweet refreshments to recover from the shopping!

Obviously, we “needed” sweet refreshments to recover from the shopping!

Day Two — My friend took her daughter and Anna for all three of them to get “new ‘do”s. What fun!

Three "New 'Do"s for the "ladies"

“New ‘Do”s for the three “ladies”

Day Three — I took both “big girls” to Bamberg. A day with no responsibilities added to the pleasure of the outing!

We discovered an awesome "pocket playground" where Fairies could vanquish the giant (invisible) spiders.

We discovered an awesome “pocket playground” where Fairy Anna and her friend could vanquish the giant (invisible) spiders.

...and we found an entire fairy village with multiple homes (aka holes) in each tree

…and we found an entire fairy village with multiple homes (aka holes) in each tree.

As we wandered the old part of Bamberg, the girls were Princesses.

As we wandered the old part of Bamberg, the girls were royalty.

We finished the day at an indoor mini water park. (Thanks, Aunt Jan!) Can you find Mermaid Anna?!

We finished the day at an indoor mini water park. (Thanks, Aunt Jan!) Can you find Mermaid Anna?!

Day Four — On Anna’s actual birthday, we continued the annual tradition of taking a photo of Groundhog Anna to record her prediction for Spring’s arrival. I took all 4 kids back to Rothenburg ob der Tauber for a little shopping, some yummy food, and a climb up the medieval walls.

Groundhog Anna in Rothenburg...

Groundhog Anna in Rothenburg…

YAY! No shadow! Spring is on the way...

YAY! No shadow! Spring is on the way…

We visited the Teddy Bear stores and Anna bought a fairy at the "Knights and Fairies" store. (Thanks, Grma June & Grpa Bob!)

We visited the Teddy Bear stores and Anna bought a fairy at the “Knights and Fairies” store. (Thanks, Grma June & Grpa Bob!)

We finished Anna’s SPARKLE celebrations with a little family party at home that evening:

Anna had sparkly decorations and gifts at her birthday dinner.

Anna had sparkly decorations and gifts at her birthday dinner.

We fixed favorite German McDonald's food--Nurnberger sausages, Rosti (potatoes) with applesauce, and some Broccoli to make it healthier!

We fixed favorite German McDonald’s food–Nurnberger sausages, Rosti (potatoes) with applesauce, and some Broccoli to make it healthier!

At 11, "little girl" Anna still delights in sparkly toys...

At 11, “little girl” Anna still delights in sparkly toys…

...and my "one-teen" likes bling, LOTS of bling! (earrings, rings, hair doo-dads, lip-gloss, and more)

…and my “one-teen” likes bling, LOTS of bling! (earrings, rings, hair doo-dads, lip-gloss, and more) (photo taken by Anna’s friend)

At first Anna was bored with the bag filled with little rainbow tied scrolls...but her face lit up when she realized there were 18 different notes celebrating SPARKLE GIRL ANNA! (Thanks, friends and family!)

At first Anna was bored with the bag filled with little rainbow tied scrolls…but her face lit up when she realized there were 18 different notes celebrating SPARKLE GIRL ANNA! (Thanks, friends and family!)

And everyone enjoyed their first (??!!) banana splits for dessert---Happy 11th Birthday, Anna Bananas!

And everyone enjoyed their first (??!!) banana splits for dessert—Happy 11th Birthday, Anna Bananas!

(THANKS to all who helped make this a very special birthday celebration for Anna. Hopefully, these sparkly memories will help her joyfully celebrate her friends at their birthday party this weekend…)


Lessons in Procrastination

I have always heard that procrastination is a bad thing. Sometimes I beat myself up about this character flaw. Other times I just laugh about being an adrenaline junkie and needing a looming deadline to kick into high gear.

Early this summer I realized it was time to jump through the hoops and get our 15 year old son his driving learner’s permit. I knew the process with our older kids—walk into the license bureau, pick up study materials, have the teen take the written test, sign up for driving school somewhere in the neighborhood.

But that was back in Ohio—a very civilized, generally-has-its-act-together state. Now we live in a remote area of New Mexico. Things work differently here…

I discovered that walking into the license bureau was ahead of myself. My son needed to be signed up for drivers ed since he is still under 18. So, I went back home and researched online driving schools. I found an affordable one, but when I tried to sign up our son, I discovered I was (again) ahead of myself. He had to be registered as a homeschooled student with the State so I could give his registration number. I tried that process, but didn’t get a number. In frustration, I gave up.

Over the next few months, I regularly added these tasks to my to-do list. And I regularly ignored them, working on other projects instead. Our son was busy with other things and didn’t hassle me about the lack of progress in getting his learner’s permit…but I beat myself up about it.

I avoided it and avoided it and avoided it. Eventually, this fall, I decided I just HAD to sit down and do whatever it took to get him that permit. And now, 2 online homeschool registrations (does this mean the state thinks there are 3 JLE’s being homeschooled out here this year?!), one form mailed to the Transportation Department, one on-line school registration, and two (count ‘em, TWO) more trips to the license bureau later…he has those temps!

And…when he was asked if he wanted to be an organ donor, it suddenly came crashing in on me why I had procrastinated so long. Yes, I often put things off. Yes, I hate red tape and inefficient bureaucracies. But this time, that wasn’t really the cause. There was a lesson to be learned behind the procrastination. Something to be faced…

I realized this teen’s older brother had proudly gotten his temps 5 years ago. Once I explained what being an organ donor was, that son felt it was OBVIOUS that everyone should say yes to being a donor. And then just a few weeks before he could take the driving test and get his license, that son died unexpectedly. And, yes, we donated as many parts of that body he no longer needed.

But…but…but…I really didn’t want to face the idea that my current 15 year old is almost the same age as his brother was then. (Actually, on Sept 12 this son is now older than his brother will ever be…) I didn’t want to explain organ donation again. I didn’t want to look forward to the big day of another teen earning a full-fledged driver’s license…and never reach that day.


Maybe next time I repeatedly put something off, I will look behind the procrastination. Perhaps there will be another lesson to learn, another hurdle to cross, something else to sort through. Perhaps procrastination is NOT always a character flaw…but is a sign of a wounded heart.

(PS—as I was putting off writing this blog post, I found a really good book about procrastination on the “new books” section of the library—it’s a quick, encouraging read. Go find it…now…not later!!

quick encouraging read…

The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing*   by John Perry        *or, getting things done by putting them off)


This past Wednesday marked the 28th Anniversary of Mommy-hood for me. Yes, my oldest daughter just had her birthday and, yes, she is getting awfully close to 30 years old! I remember holding her in the delivery room, with her bright blue eyes staring right at me; in awe of this miraculous gift we had been given. 28 years later she is still intense…and she is still a keen observer of the world around her!

She was our first…and that means she was, at times, our “guinea pig.” We had to learn to parent with her to practice on. She paved the way for her siblings—first to take swim lessons, first to be homeschooled, first to spend time overseas without her parents, first high school graduation/affirmation time at home, first music lessons, first temper tantrums, first hand-me-downs, first grandchild to be doted on by my family, and on and on the list could go.

I searched through digital photos on my drive, looking for images that capture pieces of who this daughter is. Here are a few glimpses of the woman I see today:

the word lover

Celia---the lover of words!

Celia loves to read, to research, and to find the answer to questions. She has a lively curiosity about the world around her. Out of this has come strong writing skills and the ability to identify and describe the oddities she sees in life. If you haven’t yet, check out her blog:

the good sport

not just a good sport...a COMPETETIVE one!

Celia is a good sport when her crazy mama or wild siblings have “fun” ideas to try.

wild woman

...sometimes a bit melodramatic...

Of course, she comes up with some pretty wild ideas herself, especially if it is for posed photos!

decision making

...just make the decision already...

Sometimes it drives me crazy that she has difficulty making even the simplest (to me) decisions. Really? Just order SOMEthing at the coffee shop. If you don’t like it, just dump it and buy something else! (Of course, her daddy also prefers to ponder decisions not make snap judgments…so perhaps Celia comes by this naturally…)

gift impatience

psst...are you REALLY surprised at what you got in that stocking??

And I might say that it drives me crazy that she absolutely can not possibly wait to open presents or Christmas stockings…except I would do the same search-and-find that she does if I could get away with it! Hmmm…come to think of it, I wonder if she reads the endings of books before the rest of the book, and asks to be told the endings of movies before she watches them, like I do?

daddy's girl

(first) Daddy's girl!

Celia has always had a special place in her daddy’s heart…and has always turned to him for advice and for comfort. They discuss life together and cheer each other on… (She also walked with him through the trauma of cancer treatment time.)


Sisters and Friends...

And although she still wishes she could have been a totally-spoiled-rotten only child, Celia and Nettie share a special bond. They managed to share a room for years, and still like to spend time together.


Princess Celia (and, no, you are NOT the queen...that's my title!)

Typical for our family—Celia has always been a dress-up queen. Costumes and scarves and swanky shoes and funky hats were found throughout our house and in a huge basket at Grandma’s house. Creativity, imagination, and make believe have always been encouraged around here. (Isn’t she a beautiful princess?!)

looking forward

Looking forward...

Happy Birthday, Sweetie! I’m so proud of the beautiful woman you have become…and I’m looking forward to see where you go next in life!

“Heaven’s Gift”

I’m playing 5 minute Friday along with other folks at

Want to play Five Minute Friday? It’s easy peasy!


1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt- no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Meet & encourage someone who linked up before you.

OK, are you ready? Give us your best five minutes on:



Thirty years ago I was pregnant with baby number five. Oh my, was I grumpy. I had been on the pill. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We already had enough kids. Why, oh why, was another one on the way? And this one was so active—seemingly always flipping and spinning morning, noon, and night. All I wanted was some SLEEP!

And then our red-headed mischief was born. And within a few weeks he was smiling at us. And I realized that what friends had said really was true. He was indeed heaven’s gift.

He was no saint growing up. He was an obnoxious little brother. And sometimes so “full of himself.” He was talented athletically but that didn’t excuse “lording it” over his big brothers and sisters.

He fell in love with the feeling of flying over the ice; dancing, spinning, and jumping as a competitive figure skater. As long as he had ice time he was happy. And his smile…ahhh…his lovely smile. It lit up a room. It stayed with you long after he had bounced off to do other things.

But he was still a mischief, still bending rules til they almost broke. He spent far, far too much time on the computer, playing Puzzle Pirates as captain of an on-line “crew.” So much for the “one hour of screen time per day” family rule…sigh…

And then, almost four years ago, he reached the pinnacle of gaming. He won a major competition against players of all ages from around the world. He WON! He was (obviously) SO excited… And we eventually learned what he named his prize, a monkey to sit on his shoulder in the game: “Heaven’s Gift” He laughed, he talked incessantly about it, he pondered what to do with his prize (he had been offered zillions of on-line dollars to sell it).

a stain-glass window we had custom made after his death to include James' Puzzle Pirates figure with "Heaven's Gift" on his shoulder...

But just four days later, he was gone. Our gift from heaven was back in heaven too soon—jumping and spinning and laughing with Jesus.

Some days I still moan “why, why, why…” And on other days I celebrate the memories of the time we got to spend with Heaven’s Gift…

Love you, James. Miss you…

A Girl, Sitting Alone

With one of my tutoring groups, we recently spent time writing our own poetry. The students work harder if they see me doing the same assignments I give them. When we are finished, we take turns reading aloud what we have written.

When I wrote this poem, I didn’t have any particular person or situation in mind. By the time I finished the poem, I realized it has a lot in common with my youngest daughter, who is challenged by being the only “anglo” student in a school filled with Navajo students. Some days, she has friends to play with. Other days she gets ignored.

anna n blazeLast weekend, we rescued this puppy after church. The poor guy was starving, wandering the countryside desperately searching for food and water. Anna and two young friends from church guarded the puppy from being driven off by other yard dogs during the morning service. We brought the puppy home, warning Anna that he might not live.

As you see by the picture, Blaze is alive and well, full of energy and whines and licks: Anna’s new best friend!

A Girl, Sitting Alone

Written 03-12-12


A girl, sitting alone,

with tears running down her face,

wishes she had a friend

to spend time with her.


With tears running down her face

the girl looks around,

trying to find a smile

or someone moving toward her.


The girl looks around,

enjoying the bright blue sky,

smiling at the children around her

playing so loudly.


Enjoying the bright blue sky,

sitting quietly by herself,

the girl relaxes

into the warm spring day.


Sitting quietly by herself,

the girl dreams about her dog

who is always her friend,

waiting for her at home.what a lucky dog!


I’m participating in 5 Minute Friday with my post today. To see the “assignment” and to see other posts on this topic, check out THIS BLOG.

A few years ago we were privileged to spend time in Alaska. At one point we splurged on a half-day boat tour out of Seward. After making the non-refundable reservations, I was sad to figure out we were quite unlikely to see any whales on the tour. Only full-day trips went out far enough to encounter whales.seward alaska docks

On the morning of the tour our young daughter was jumping-up-and-down-excited at the prospect of a ride on a big boat AND at the idea of seeing whales “for real.” Oops! I panicked a bit and sent up a quick prayer that God would send His “princess” a whale or two within viewing distance. I was too “chicken” to tell my daughter that she was surely going to ride on a big boat, but that she would NOT be whale-watching.

We drove to town, parked near the docks and walked out to the boat. We bundled up in our jackets and found seats up high in the front—to better see the glorious scenery and (hopefully) glimpse some wildlife.tour boat

We saw puffins flying. I thought that was cool…but my daughter hardly noticed. She was waiting for whales.flying puffin

We saw seals basking on rocks and playing near shore. What fun! My daughter smiled … but she was still waiting for whales.basking seal

We saw a family of orcas jumping and chasing each other in the waves. Wow! I was excited! Look, Sweetie! Whales! My daughter laughed at their antics…but made it clear she was still waiting to see a “real” whale, a BIG whale.leaping orca

Oh dear…I wondered if I should find my lost courage and prepare to let her down gently, tell her the truth about the trip we were on.

And then, and THEN…

We saw it! A big whale out of place, far closer to shore than usual. Even the captain was excited when he made the announcement and pointed out where we should be looking.humpback fluke

A WHALE! A BIG whale! Just like she expected.

My daughter’s face at that moment said it all. She was truly DELIGHTED! (and I said a quick prayer of thanks to a loving Creator-God who moved a whale close to shore just for His princess to enjoy…)delighted princess

Entering the Teen Zone

My baby had another birthday on Thursday. Last year she got a cute new haircut and red eyeglasses. This year she still sports the haircut and she is waiting on new green eyeglasses. But she has added the sass and spunk of a teenager. The crossed arms are standard, the eye-roll needs a little more work. And much as I would prefer to consider her a child for a few more years, she is adamant that she is now a TEEN…a “zero-teen,” that is. (A different way of looking at 10, from a Beverly Cleary/Ramona book she read this year.)

Anna with a little SASS!

Anna is our Groundhog Girl—being born on 20202. She still allows me to take a photo of her outside on her birthday morning—looking for a shadow to predict how much longer we will have winter—a tradition I started on her first birthday. She thinks it’s funny that she has often been correct when Punxatawny Phil has been wrong. This year she fudged the weather prediction—running from the shady side of the house with no shadows to standing in the thin sunray peeking through the clouds which cast shadows on the other side of the house. Hmmm…grabbing for things with both hands…that’s my Anna!

groundhog anna

"Groundhog Anna" both saw her shadow and did not see her shadow this year.

And “Princess Anna” is still around. She plays with fairy toys and writes fairy stories but she herself has been a self-declared princess for many years. Costumes and crowns are favorite dress-up toys, even now. Anna prefers stretch pants and t-shirts for every-day-wear, but loves the new styles which include a short lacy skirt over those leggings. She still does her chores (reluctantly, I must confess) and she play-pretends to be other things such as store-keeper or song-writer, so I guess we will let Princess Anna stay a while longer…

princess anna

Princess Anna is still with us...

Anna is quite creative—some times it’s hard to keep up with her mind as she shares idea after idea after idea. She is getting better at putting those ideas on paper—in writing or in art. It’s much easier to keep up with her jumping thoughts when I can input it into my brain at my own (slow) speed! Anna and I are taking an on-line art class together this year. What fun to see the differences in how we interpret the assignments! And what fun to be working on projects side by side!

life book page

1st "assignment" for LifeBook 2012

Anna is growing up…moving from child to teen, and I’m proud of the young lady she is becoming. But whether she is called a “tween” or a “zero-TEEN” by others, she will always be “my baby.” Hope she’s okay with that!

Happy Birthday, Anna!

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