01 December 2010

Post #83 (for lack of a better title)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Mark got a flight home at the last minute and we decided to surprise the kids.  It was such a treat to bring them to the airport, thinking we were picking up our cousin from New York, to find their dad standing there instead.  We scooped him up on Thursday morning and headed straight for his parents' house in Baton Rouge.  We spent the entire holiday there.  And I do mean, ENTIRE.  We even managed to squeeze in dinner on Sunday night before heading back.  After several days and nights of eating, visiting, movie-going (Tangled was great.) and football watching (thanks Saints for defeating the Cowboys), I was happy to come home and get back to a routine.  A routine which, at this time of the year, includes celebrating Advent and preparing for Christmas.

Every year I say that it seems they are starting with Christmas earlier and earlier  but it is getting ridiculous.  This year I was absolutely floored to hear Christmas music on the radio BEFORE Thanksgiving!  Have they no shame?!  Confession time:  The song was that John Lennon song "So this is Christmas" or "Happy Christmas".  Either way, it is one of my favorites.  I have to confess that I did pause and even ask the kids for reinforcement by announcing,  "We can't actually listen to this now, right?"  The answer very emphatically was, "RIGHT!".

The weekend before, I had read an article about celebrating Advent and how our popular, secular, mall-crazy, consumer-driven culture really makes it a challenge.  True.  So, I am on a crusade to hold off Christmas as long as possible.  Right?  Well, maybe.  I love the tradition of the Advent wreath and so do the kids.  I love getting out the empty manger.  It makes Advent real for the kids.  It paints a picture of exactly what Advent is, a time to wait joyfully and patiently on Baby Jesus.  However...  that darn Christmas music keeps playing on every station.  Lights are twinkling all over the neighborhood.  Friends are posting on Facebook that their tree is up and everything is done.  (Yes, dear reader, you know who you are. :-)  All the sparkle and the glitter has my head spinning.  It's drawing me in and it is STILL November, mind you!  What's a girl to do?  Well, I could start by actually lighting the Advent wreath, couldn't I?  I promise I will... tomorrow.  Then out will come the manger and I will prepare for Christmas taking my own sweet time.

We now interrupt this blog for a message from our sponsor:

Are you ready for Christmas?  Put all that Advent talk aside for a moment.  Get out your Christmas list and get some shopping done.  With ME!  I'd love to help with your gift list.  Now through Friday night, I am hosting a Virtual Open House.  Click this link then check out the catalog.  If you find something you like, shop under "Place an Order" and look for the Virtual Open House to participate.  If you are local, you are welcome to join me for coffee and pastries (8:30-Noon) or wine and cheese (6-9 pm) this Friday.  Now back to the blog...

I haven't talked about it on the blog but just before Mark took this job in DC, I had decided to try another home-based business.  Long story short, I love it and have been having so much fun selling it.  It is a nice outlet.  I get to talk to adults and pretend to be a grown-up a few nights/days a month.  What a treat.  Seriously, it has been a blessing and I am amazed at how much I have grown as a person.  I have achieved all but one of the goals I set for myself.  This month I have a big goal so I am letting you know about it.  The products are great and reasonably priced- tote bags, purses, accessories.  Please check it out.

So, I guess what I figured out in this Advent/Christmas preparation debate I  had with myself is this:

Advent: the time to listen for footsteps - you can't hear footsteps when you're running yourself.” Bill McKibben

I will try to walk quietly through this season in hopes that I hear His footsteps.  Hoping your Advent season is meaningful.


21 November 2010



I am really not sure how this will look to those of you who subscribe to my blog and receive my posts in an e-mail.  You may have to link back to the website to see it but first try clicking on "display images".  As a matter of fact, click on "always display images" if that is an option.  That way you will be ab;e to see any photos I have with the post.

Anyway, I came across this website ( some time ago and stumbled across it again this morning.  Since I LOVE words, I LOVE this website.  It is really fun to create your own Wordle.  You can even type in your blog and it will create a wordle using all the words from your posts.  Words appear larger depending on how many times they are written  I tried it and guess what word appeared larger than any other...HATE!  I thought that was pretty funny.

Happy Sunday!  Go Saints!


11 November 2010


I am beginning to sense a theme here.  Last Wednesday night, when I wrote last, I had gotten to spend time out of the house, ALONE.  When I returned, I told my mother-in-law, who was watching the kids, that I felt as if I had slept for eight hours.  It was so rejuvenating.  Here I am one week later, feeling well rested once more.  I had a small bit of time ALONE again today.

Often the very things I love cause great stress.  It is ridiculous.  Today I went to three great places, all of which can bring on bouts of hyperventilation.  First stop was a fabulous toy store which should probably be called a toy boutique.  At least, that's what I would call it.  (Yes, I do have fantasies of owning a toy/book boutique filled with any and every European, wooden toy known to man.)  What fun to peruse all the brightly colored, well made toys.  I picture my kids (possibly wearing lederhosen) spending hours blissfully ignoring the tv and computer to nourish their creative, imaginative powers.  Somewhere between the wooden knights' castle and the board games, reality sets in.  Closet space, budget and family game night come to mind.  Barely enough, never enough and often ends in tears and/or arguments.  It is often painful to move from possibility to reality, isn't it?

Next stop was an adorable cupcake shop.  Generally, positioning myself in front of baked goods causes stress.  Talk about moving from possibility to reality.  I want a bite of everything but have to commit to just one.  Reminds me of the hair color episode back in England.  I have to remember, I was not marrying the hair color and this will not be the last sweet I ever eat.  Today was different.  Today was simple.  She had me at pumpkin.  Add cream cheese frosting and it was a no-brainer.  Everything about this miniature shop on Magazine Street made my heart sing, from the mounds of beautifully decorated cupcakes to the turquoise walls, right down to the bistro-style table and chairs inviting you to linger a little while.  Pure bliss.

On to another favorite- Whole Foods.  I sigh the minute I walk through the doors.  It is an absolute feast for the eyes, not to mention the smells and all those great samples to taste.  Until visiting this store, I didn't know produce could make me smile.  Honestly, it is God at his best.  Can you believe He created all those beautiful fruits and vegetables?  It almost makes me want to be a vegetarian.  I said ALMOST!  Don't even get me started on the bakery or the salad bar.  The best part about the salad bar is that I don't have to marry one dish.  I can date them all!  Who thought wheat berries could look so good?  Today I had curried chicken salad, basmati rice salad and chickpea and vegetable salad.  That pumpkin cupcake was the perfect finish.

I was wondering what it was about my outing that made me feel rejuvenated.  What had my heart singing, feeling invigorated?  Then I realized the common thread was beauty.  The finely crafted toys, the handmade sweets and display after display at Whole foods are all beautiful.  What does beauty show us?  Very simply, when we encounter beauty, we encounter God.  I'll end with this lovely quote I found.

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting -- a wayside sacrament.
Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

May you see God's handwriting all around you.

PS.  Thanks for all the great comments after the last post and for sharing your hate!

04 November 2010

Where to Begin

Generally, starting at the beginning is a good idea.  The problem is the beginning of life-as-I now-know-it seems a distant memory.  Actually it was just the day before Labor Day when Mark left for a job in DC and I was left to run our household alone.  He was gone from then until just about two weeks ago.  He came home for a visit and left this afternoon.  I wanted to talk more with no kids around to interrupt us.  I wanted to bury my nose in his neck a little longer.  I wanted to hold back the tears so he wouldn't feel guilty leaving me here alone.  I couldn't.  Then I turned around to my daughter's precious face looking at me, trying to figure out my sorrow.  I could almost see it penetrating her.  Besides, there was carpool, homework and dinner.  There was no time to curl into a ball and cry.  That is good- MOST of the time.  It could be beneficial, occasionally.

That being said, I want to jump in where I am right now.  No time for back story.  Feeling the need to share the details of how we arrived at this situation has had me paralyzed in writing the blog.  I miss it.  I feel inspired.  So here goes.

Tonight I just wanted some time away from the house and the kids.  Thankfully my new neighbor who happens to be an old friend (yes, long story there) took me to the bookstore.  Bookstores are one of my favorite places.  My friend spotted a book called The Hate Book.  It was covered with pictures of rainbows, unicorns and sunshine.  We laughed at the bizarre combination of title and cover art.  I couldn't imagine liking anything about this book being the Polly Anna, glass half-full, rose-colored glasses girl that I am but I couldn't resist just a peek.  Well, the next hour and a half was spent thoroughly enjoying the book, chatting with my friend and making my own hate list.  I didn't know just how hateful I was and it inspired me to share my random list with you.  I hope you will make your own list and maybe share it with me.  Okay, maybe just one thing you a comment to this post... pretty please?

I hate that I haven't blogged since August 14.
I hate that I have great ideas for blogs but don't stop to write them or at least jot notes down for later.
I hate knowing I would probably never go back to those notes.
I hate that my fingers are not as fast as the thoughts flying through my head.
I hate that the best jobs for Mark are in DC but we really want to make a life in New Orleans.
I hate that lots of people don't "get" New Orleans and love it like I do.
I hate that we couldn't live in England longer.
I hate that I can't speak another language.
I hate that I didn't always read the assigned books in high school.
I hate that there aren't enough hours in the day.
I hate that I can't be in New Orleans, Nantucket, New York, Paris and Disneyworld simultaneously.
I hate the way most people drive.  I hate that I think I am a better driver than most people.

I hate that since Mark left, I haven't read, written or knitted anything.
I hate that I can't remember half the things I wanted to share with you.
I hate wondering if anyone cares to read my "postcards" now that they are from New Orleans instead of the UK.
I hate cucumbers.
I hate that I will never get to sing and dance on Broadway.
I hate that I didn't realize until now how therapeutic this is

Shall you take a turn then? (read in a British accent) :-)

PS.  I hate hitting "publish" then having to wait on comments.  I hate that I often need instant gratification.

14 August 2010

Sweet Girl

Happy, happy birthday to my sweet Annie.  You are the quietest Zelden.  You march to the beat of your own drum.  To quote Elise, "I love you because I love you."  Have a great day!  Love, Mom

07 August 2010

First Time

Sorry to bore you with this readers.  I subscribe to a blog which hosts a monthly "Saturday Evening Blog Post".  I have never participated in anything like this before but I thought it was a great opportunity to expand into the blogging world.  If blogs interest you and you'd like to "shop around" check out the link below.

Happy Weekend!

31 July 2010

Sizzlin' Summer Sale

I have 5 FABULOUS kids for sale.  If you act in the next 10 minutes, I will throw in a husband absolutely FREE!  Supplies are limited, so call now.  As an added bonus, if you purchase before August, you get to pay their tuition, outfit them in uniforms and buy their school supplies!

Fine Print:

Husband works from home.  He hates that and so will you.
Children will ask 1,497,346 questions EVERY day.  At least 500,000 of these will pertain to the NFL and Saints in particular, so check up on your stats before purchase.
Be prepared to ward off thirst, hunger and boredom every minute of every day.
Children will pretend to be cute to get their way.  Don't fall for it.
Husband doesn't bother with the cute part.
You will be required to pick up 378 Legos per day or risk being buried alive.
Bedtime stories are required.

Really Fine Print:

I thought my whining would be more bearable if cleverly disguised in an amusing ad.  Hope it worked.  Sorry.  It was just one of those days.  Must be the heat. actually IS the kids and the husband.  Either way, I feel better already.

16 July 2010

Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago today I married Mark.  From the very beginning, our life has been an adventure.  We have had our share of ups and downs but I couldn't imagine going through life with anyone else. 

Last weekend, we went to my cousin's daughter's wedding.  My mom is one of eight and I have always enjoyed being part of that BIG family.  They are funny, loud and crazy but especially loving and supportive.  Like every family, we cry at the losses and celebrate the joyous occasions.  Needless to say, I have been to my share of family weddings.  This wedding, however, was special.

In a time when people want out of marriage the minute it gets hard, my cousin and her husband have stayed together.  Watching him walk his daughter down the aisle you could see the mixture of emotions- the pride, the happiness and the sorrow.  The ceremony was meaningful.  Unlike many who just go through the motions, here were two young people aware of the responsibility of pledging their lives to one another.  Here were two young people who hadn't spent even one night together.  It was special to share in their excitement and joy.

I cried many tears that day.  Tears of sorrow, tears of joy.  Witnessing a wedding that was all it should be, made me mourn for what society has lost over the years.  The loss of innocence.  The loss of faith. The loss of responsibility and perseverance.

I thanked my cousin's husband, Billy for being a wonderful husband and father and a blessing to our family.  I told Brittany and Chris that their marriage is more than just the two of them and I know it will be a blessing to our family as well.

Today, especially, I am thankful for my marriage.  I am thankful for the beautiful examples of faith and love both of our parents' marriages continue to be.  I am thankful that there are still people willing to live life thoughtfully, according to God's plan.  Brittany and Chris, I wish you many happy years together.  Thank you for shining a radiant light into this world.


11 July 2010

Slipping into Summer...AT LAST!

The transition from the school year into summer has always been difficult for me as a mom.  The fact that I stay home and am a former teacher only enhances the difficulty.  I start thinking about it in early May and begin to hyperventilate.  This is my golden opportunity.  I must orchestrate every moment to be an optimum experience.  Each one should be stimulating, whether physically or intellectually, with a perfect balance between the two.  I imagine all the ways we will grow closer as a family, frolicking in the summer sun.  We will be the quintessential picture of the lazy days of summer and by golly, we will work hard at painting that perfect lazy picture.

The first few weeks, I am miserable.  I have obviously set unrealistic goals and it takes several weeks of reality, served in healthy doses by my children, for me to surrender.  Somehow, eventually, I am able to find the perfect summer amid the imperfections.  I swim upstream long enough to wear myself out then before I know it, I am floating along with the current and the ride becomes easy and pleasant.  That is where I am now, floating along.  We have settled into a routine of non-routine.  Later mornings and later evenings.  More mess around the house.  My breathing has returned to normal. 

Two favorite activities we have managed to incorporate are baking and reading.  The baking was sparked by Sam going to camp in Rhode Island for a few weeks and our visit to a friend's blueberry farm.  With my nut allergic son out of the house and fresh blueberries in hand, I was inspired.  We made blueberry coffee cake sprinkled with nuts and chocolate chip cookies with pecans.  What a treat!  I am reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder aloud to William and Annie.  It has sparked fun discussions about how things have changed such as farming, food preparation and education yet some things remain the same.  Almanzo, the main charcter, fights with his siblings and gets just as excited about Christmas.

We got to spend a week at the beach with Mark's entire family, including the newest addition, Jack (his brother Kale's five-month-old).  We spent some time with friends at their lake house in Franklinton which allows our city-slicker kids to go crazy with jet-skis, four-wheelers, fireworks and such.  I teased that surely the evening would end with the kids being allowed to run around the edge of the lake with knives and scissors.  I try to be calm but it is a little stressful for this mom.  We enjoyed being on the swim team at our club and we went to THREE weddings.  That about sums up the summer until now.

As I write this, life is EASY!  We only have three kids.  Sam is still in Rhode Island and Mary Elizabeth is in Dallas visiting my sister.  This week, at one point, our family will be in five different states.  Obviously, Rhode Island and Texas, as well as Mark being in DC.  William and Elise will stay in Louisiana while Anne and I go with my mother-in-law to get Sam.  We are hoping to make stops in DC and NYC and maybe even fit in a day in Nantucket.  Whew!  By the time we are all home again, July will practically be over.  Once August starts, we will be sliding in to home plate and summer is done.

Then it will be time to hyperventilate about the new school year, which we will be starting in New Orleans.  Oh, sorry, been meaning to mention, we are staying put for now.  In changing our minds, we are keeping things the same.  For now, amid all the imperfections, this is the perfect place to be!


09 July 2010

Summer Means...

Sofa bed sleepovers

Hand-picked blueberries

Water balloon fights

Swim Team
(Divisional Backstroke Champ!)

Hope you are having a great summer.

06 July 2010


I know you weren't holding your breath it is!  My first knitted creation.  I can't believe I finished him.  I made this cute little elephant for my nephew Jack.  Of course, I was stitching on the eyes and ears at 11 pm the night before I gave it to him.  Lumpy, as I named him, had a cute braided tail but you can't see it in the photo.  I am really enjoying learning to knit and I want to do an afghan next.

Obviously, my commitment to writing once a week went out the window since it is summer.  That's not an excuse, just the reason.  As with seeing the elephant, I know you aren't holding your breath, waiting for me to post but I will keep writing because I LOVE to write and I NEED to write.  I am sitting at this computer right now because I couldn't sleep.  I was posting in my head like I do ALL THE TIME.  I finally gave in and here I am.  Nothing much to say.  I am too tired to string together many words but as always the getting back to it is the hardest part, jumping in.  I must say I am glad I did.  The water feels great.  I'll be back for another dip soon.


13 June 2010

Then and Now

Today is Sam's birthday.  I know the calendar says it has been thirteen years but it really feels like a matter of moments. I blinked and we went from newborn to playdates and sippy cups then on to preschool and playgrounds.  We passed quickly through elementary school then sleep away camp.  Now we have arrived at the teenage years.  
Happy Birthday, Sam.  Honestly, I thought at each stage (well, almost) that I couldn't love you more.  Little did I know that each age and time in life holds something special.  It has been a joy to watch you grow and get to know you better each passing year.  I am happy to be your mom and look forward to continuing this amazing journey with you.  Love, Mom
PS.  If you are getting this as an e-mail, please indulge me and take a minute to look at the images.

04 June 2010

Sniff, Sniff

I was determined to post every Thursday.  I started an elaborate post yesterday but couldn't finish.  At least with my posting today, I am sticking to my once a week rule.

Today is Sam's last day at Holy Name.  What a milestone!  First child leaving elementary school.  Sam, you have done a great job all these years.  I know great things lie ahead in high school.  We couldn't be more proud of you and wish you all the luck in the world.

Mom, Dad, Mary Elizabeth, Anne, William and Elise

27 May 2010


I had fun giving the blog a spring makeover.  Hope you like the new look.  I didn't want to change the name so I added to the title to reflect where we are now.  If you are getting this via e-mail first let me say, thanks for subscribing.  Next, please take a minute to link to the actual site so you can see the new look for yourself.

Today is my birthday.  It is the first time I am on Facebook for my birthday.  It is also the first birthday that my Blackberry is synced with my e-mail.  Last night around nine o'clock, my Blackberry started vibrating and hasn't stopped.  It made me smile every time because I knew it was someone taking a minute to send birthday wishes.  I am thankful for each of them but a few stand out.  Of course, the two that arrived all the way from England were special.  Another that stood out was from a Holy Name friend.  She sent it the day BEFORE my birthday because of my last post about liking that better than the actual day.  It meant so much because she represents all of you that read the blog.  I love writing it and am really thankful for such a kind audience.

Speaking of the audience for my blog, there is someone who visits the site occasionally and leaves anonymous comments that are negative.  Describing these comments as negative is being generous.  They are vicious and personal.  When I first read them, I was devastated.  I stopped writing for a little while as a processed what this person had said.  Some people suggested blocking comments.  I don't ever want to do this.  In the end I realize that if I want to put myself out there and get all the wonderful comments, I have to take the bad ones too.  The blessings I receive when someone takes the time to let me know that my writing touched them, far out weighs having ugly things said by someone too chicken to identify themselves.

It is amazing how much power words hold.  The written word even more so because you can revisit it.  Thankfully, that includes great works of literature, uplifting poetry and even personal letters from deceased relatives.  Unfortunately, it means unkind things can be put in print to hurt someone again and again.  I have been wanting to write about this for awhile now.  I just wasn't in the right place.  I was still letting that person get the best of me.  I was really sad.  Now I am okay.  I know who I am and why I make the decisions I do.  This may sound juvenile but it is a simple saying that puts it in perspective:

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

Funny thing is one of the comments basically said- Oh, it must be nice to share one side of the story.  I had to laugh at this.  Yes, it is one side of the story- MY SIDE!  After all, it is MY blog.  Thanks for reading my side and since it is, let me say- Happy Birthday to me!

Ah. I feel so much better now.

20 May 2010

Back in the Saddle

Appropriate title since I am blogging from the land of the Dallas Cowboys! (Boo Hiss!) Anyway, I am happy to be here because it means I am visiting with my sister and her family. Her oldest daughter and my godchild, Camille is receiving her First Communion this Saturday. I am glad we can celebrate such a special event with her.

A few weeks ago, I read a blog by a Catholic mom and she had written that she would update the blog on certain days. That was a light bulb moment for me! YES! I need deadlines. That was the solution. I would committ to posting a new blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not a big committment, but a committment none the less that would force me to sit and write all the thoughts that are constantly rattling around this brain of mine. Well, you can see how far that has gotten me. No where but "guiltville". Maybe it is the fact that "guiltville" is not a pleasant place to be or maybe being on the road makes me feel like I should be blogging. In either case, here I am writing again.

There is SO much I could write about this spring and what it feels like to be in limbo. Last May, we thought we were moving to Las Vegas. Now, a year later, we still don't know where we want to be. It stinks. On good days, I think of it as an extended Thursday. Let me explain. Thursday is my favorite day of the week because it holds all the promise of the weekend ahead. I like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day and even the day BEFORE my birthday better than the actual day. It's all in the anticipation. Right now, we can talk and dream and hope. We don't have to pack and schedule. Dreaming and hoping is great but eventually you are ready to move on. I have found out that even perpetual Thursday gets old. I am ready to move on, whatever that means. Whether it be staying in New Orleans, moving to DC or even the thrill of going back overseas. On the worst days, I want to shake my fist at God and kick and scream like a toddler. Enough already! Give us a definitive answer. Make things crystal clear! But isn't that the tricky part of life? That so much of what we do isn't crystal clear and we have to make the best decisions with the information at hand, knowing full well we have to be prepared to adjust as the landscape shifts around us. Guess we are never meant to be too comfortable in this life.

The ride to Dallas afforded me time to listen to my ipod, something I don't do very often. I am not a fan of headphones. (My, doesn't that sound so 70's? I can picture myself plugged in to my parents stereo jamming to an eight track tape sporting black vinyl headphones that make me look like Princess Leia. What do we call those tiny things we insert into our ears today? Ear buds? Sounds like something you get if you don't clean your ears properly. But I digress..) Anyway, when my husband or children wear them, it feels like a personal affront, an attempt to block me out. I need to get over myself. Inserting these things into my ears, makes the music so personal, as if the artist is whispering the words just for me. I have loved James Taylor as long as I can remember and loved this particular song as well. Yesterday, however, I realized that Mr. Taylor had basically put my experience this spring into a neat little story and set that story to music.

Like everyone she knows, she's holding out for true love. Waiting on an answer. Ready for a change. And everywhere she goes she's just a little bit on the lookout, a day might mean tomorrow. Questions still remain.

It's not that she's so sad, she always was a happy soul but lately she gets to wondering to herself, what's the good of going on anymore. I see her in her room, sitting at the window, wondering if she's pretty, feeling just a little small tonight. She thinks of going home, giving up on the city maybe moving back down to Mobile. It's not that far to fall.

I know she won't see me but I might just say anyhow, if I could be right there, right now as I myself was told: "Hold tight to your heart's desire. Never ever let it go. Let nobody fool you into giving it up too soon. Tend your own fire. Lay low and be strong. Wait awhile. Wait it out. It will come along.

Wait awhile. Wait it out. Let it come along."

Thanks, James for helping me share my story and giving me some good advice.


15 April 2010

Butler and Easter

I only vaguely followed the NCAA Final Four tournament. Even someone remotely aware of the tournament probably knows about the unlikely team of Butler meeting the basketball Goliath of Duke in the final game.

The story reminded me of the Saints fairy tale season- underdogs, momentum building, nation watching and beginning to rally around them. I was certain this was THEIR season, one of fate. My father-in-law made a prediction of Duke winning by a sizable margin and I quickly explained my view, comparing them with our beloved Saints.

I had made a "date" with my mother-in-law to watch a movie so I wasn't even watching the game. I kept tabs on the score, however, by occasionally calling out to Mark to check on it. Sounds like it was an amazing game. David, in the form of Butler, stood toe to toe with Goliath. Every time I checked, it was within a point or two. Finally, with thirteen seconds left, Butler had the ball and I paused the movie to watch. I wanted to witness that moment of sheer joy, the culmination of the dream, the prayer answered. I watched in disbelief as a shot went up and met nothing but air, then Duke stole the ball, scored a point with a free throw and left only 3 seconds on the clock. One last chance. One last shot. Then, stunned silence as the ball sailed through the air miles from the net. It was hard to look into the faces of the players and the fans. I imagine it was hard for anyone watching but more so for a Saints fan. We had just had our dream completed, our prayer answered. What if Hartley had missed the kick? That would have been us.

I am a Christian and an optimist. The worst part of the entire scenario is that it was Easter Monday. Jesus had risen. The underdog winning is simply an analogy for the story of the Resurrection. That is why we always root for them. I could not make sense of this loss. It seemed as unnecessary as so many things we question in this life- the loss of a job, a young couple struggling to have a baby, the untimely death of a loved one. Why couldn't Butler have their "Hallelujah" moment, that one we Saints fans know so well and will never forget? Watching that dream die before their eyes was so painful to me.

I started writing this post last week. I got to a dead end. I couldn't come to a conclusion, at least not one an optimistic Christian could understand. I was talking to Mark about it and he concurred. He said I should set it on the side and the answer would come. I was dropping him off and turned on the radio as he got out of the car. The song playing stopped me in my tracks.

A woman holding on for life, a dying man giving up the fight
are better than a hallelujah sometimes.

Tears of shame for what's been done, the silence when the words won't come
are better than a hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody.
Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts

are better than a hallelujah.

Wow! What a beautiful idea. Our times of pain and suffering glorify God in ways our joys and triumphs can't. The only way to Easter Sunday is through Good Friday. Standing there, watching the Butler basketball team had me initially asking questions. Finally, more than a week later I got an answer. This life is filled with moments of triumph and joy as well as disappointment and pain. In the end, however, good prevails and justice is served. Each member of that basketball team will get their moment because, thanks to Jesus, the end of every life's story can be the greatest "hallelujah" we will ever know.

Happy Easter.

PS. Here's a link to the song by Amy Grant.

31 March 2010

Boys Will Be Boys

Just a quick story that was too funny not to share...

William tattled on Sam that he was playing the Wii without asking. Trying to be funny I said, "Tell him to come here because I want to hang him by his toenails." William's way-to-excited-for-my-comfort response was, "With a rope?!"

Hope this gives you a laugh, too. Happy Spring!


29 March 2010

Gem of the Day

I saw a book about parenting "tweens" that pictured a porcupine on the front cover. It amused me at the time but now it is hitting home. I have two "tweens" in the house, Sam and Mary Elizabeth. Of the two, Mary Elizabeth has the most prickles. Daily, I feel the pokes of those prickles in the form of sighing, eye-rolling and general disgust with life as she knows it. It is hard to remember the sweet little girl who always enjoyed playing dress-up, twirling around the house and tea parties. I know she is there but she sure does a good job of concealing it.

Emme, as we call her, is very emotional and passionate. I looking in a mirror? (No comments from my own mother necessary!) The other day when Emme was going on and on about some flagrant injustice like the price of Rice Kripy treats at the snack sale, Sam commented, "Boy, Mom, she sure is your daughter." Sam then reminded me of my harping on a questionable answer at a quiz bowl tournament in which he participated. Bringing it up had me responding- "Well, clearly it should have been ..." and "It is absolutely ridiculous that...". To which Sam plainly said, "See what I mean?"

All this emotion and passion between the two of us, can definitely make it difficult as we navigate the rough waters of the next few years. Any mother who has been through it knows that feeling that you can't do anything right. You don't know anything. You don't understand. I can really take this to heart instead of giving her a little space and taking it with a grain of salt, like I should. It isn't pleasant to be swept up in an hormonal tidal wave. Some days, I feel as if I have been beaten on the shore, unable to get my bearings.

There are times, however, that Mary Elizabeth is her old self, kind and carefree. Today, we were heading to a Mother/Daughter day hosted by the Catholic Church to discuss growing up. Well, at least I was headed. Emme, on the other hand, was being "DRAGGED there". I managed to ignore her whining. In the car she proclaimed this gem. "Mom, I think we make a cute pair." Wow! It took my breath away. I started to protest and say something like, "Well, it sure doesn't feel like that most of the time.", but I stopped myself. She had given me a gift. I kept my mouth closed and graciously accepted it. I realized I shouldn't get caught up in the rough waters or let them toss me about. I simply need to use little gifts like these to help me keep my eyes on the prize.

And what a prize she has always been!

25 March 2010

Happy, Happy Bunny

I enjoy picking out treats for the children's Easter baskets every year. As we have added kids, the task becomes more daunting. Trying to remember who likes Hershey's Cookies N' Cream versus Milky Way can be a real challenge. I am thankful to have Sam and Mary Elizabeth aware of the charade so I can ask them for last minute help remembering everyone's favorites and "must have's".

The other day, in a desperate attempt for help, I told the kids that the Easter Bunny would probably like a little help and asked them to list the items they were hoping to get on Easter morning. Annie asked if I thought the Bunny could get Worcester crisps. In the UK, potato chips are called crisps and they have the most amazing flavors like prawn cocktail, thai sweet chili, pickled onion, worcester sauce, and roasted chicken-with or without lemon and thyme, imagine that! I was thrilled to hear this question because I had been searching the web for British food in the US. I had found a treasure trove of websites and was excited about placing an order.

I can't wait until Easter Sunday when they find Walker's crisps and Mr. Kipling's Victoria cakes (yes, named for Queen Victoria) waiting for them. There are a few other odds and ends like biscuits, a big box of our favorite cereal, a chocolate bar for me and some tea, of course. Since the company is based in Pennsylvania, the shipping was reasonable and so was the shipping time. Shopping on the website was wonderful, like visiting England without leaving the comfort of my living room. If you'd like to get a feel for grocery shopping in England, check it out:

Another taste of England I am quite thankful for are the connections on Facebook. I have been keeping my knitting friend up to date with the progress, or lack thereof, on my gingerbread man. Remember him? Well, I did find a knitting group here in New Orleans so he WILL get finished and I WILL post a photo. Notice the conviction in my tone?! I came across this video on my friend's Facebook page and wanted to share it with you. It is a lovely look at the little piece of England I was fortunate enough to call home for a few months. Enjoy!


20 March 2010

What's Next

It is so good to be writing again. Why do I put this off time and time again? It is certainly not for lack of material. As I go through the day, there are so many thoughts that come to mind that I want to share with you. Sometimes, I wish I could shut my brain off. Unfortunately, my fingers aren't as quick as my mouth and life gets me side tracked. Not to mention, I am the queen of procrastination. Okay, maybe just a princess. Don't want to be too hard on myself.

In response to the last post, a friend asked- So, what's next for the Zeldens? Well, I'll tell you. We are moving this summer. Where? Not 100 percent sure. Mark's Louisiana business is shrinking while his DC business is growing- slowly, but growing none the less. We aren't willing to live in New Orleans and have him commute to DC as we did in the past. Mark and I LOVED England and would happily go back there or another place in Europe should an opportunity arise but for now it is likely we will move back to Washington.

Today I heard one of my favorite songs on the radio. It was popular when we moved back from DC 11 years ago.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.

So make the best of this test and don't ask why.
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time.

It's something unpredictable but in the end there's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

Suddenly, all the feelings came rushing back. Telling friends goodbye. Packing up our tiny apartment. Driving home to Lu-weena, as Sam called it. I certainly had had the time of my life. Mark and I began our married life, moved three times and had two babies during our six years in DC. We made wonderful friends and took advantage of all that the area had to offer like apple picking in the fall and cherry blossoms in the spring. As much as I enjoyed it and as painful as it was to leave, I was happy to be going home. The song describes that difficult time we all have on the cusp of change, when you are too busy looking back and feeling sad to turn and face the road that lies ahead. Once you do, the fun begins. Relationships renewed. A home town waiting to be rediscovered. We have enjoyed every minute of living here and hope to return. New Orleans has been and will always be our first love. For now, however, we are on that cusp again. This time it is a little easier to look forward. Friendships to renew and so much to share with the children. As in the song, we are just waiting for God to "grab us by the wrist and direct us where to go".

On another note, I am happy to know there are still many of you out there who are willing to read. The investment I made in the blog has yielded great returns. I appreciate all your comments and feedback. Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new reader. I was also blown away by the concern and friendship he expressed. I came across this quote recently and jotted it down because I liked it so much.

Unless some people see the face of Christ in you,
they may never see the face of Christ.

Thank you friend, for giving me a glimpse of Christ today.


18 March 2010

Hello, is Anyone There?

It's me, again. I was playing around on the computer and hooking up with some British friends on Facebook. I just LOVE having British friends on Facebook. Funny thing is, they even SOUND British when you read their posts. It makes me smile and it makes me miss England. Anyway, one thing led to another and I ended up reading some of my last posts. I have been meaning to write a "wrap up" post. One final, definitive, thought-provoking post about England and our time there. (Final? Definitive? Thought-provoking? Geez! A little too much pressure for one post, don't you think? Enough to stop anyone in their tracks.) I know you weren't out there holding your breathe, waiting for me to write but I still felt like I needed to end it. As far as the blog is concerned I am still in the Charlotte airport on the verge of being home.

Ah, home. Saints-mania and Mardi Gras. That about sums up the entire first month back. Throw in finding out I was pregnant then suffering a miscarriage and you can see that I have been a little pre-occupied. You know, I didn't want to be in my early forties and pregnant but the minute someone says you can't have something, it sure makes you want it even more. God works things out for the best, however. Times like this make you trust Him and Him alone.

The most difficult thing about being back is the loss of my closest friends. Three friends didn't understand our going to England and have just stopped being my friend. They were friends from the kids' school and part of my life almost daily. I can't put in to words how much it hurts. There are times when a memory crosses my mind or I see something that reminds me of them and I just ache. I don't feel angry. Sometimes I just want to cry like a baby.

Most of the time, however, I am happy to be home. With the kids back in school, it is just me and Elise all day. What a treat! She is my little buddy and I don't know what I would do without her. The other day she looked up at me and said, "Mama, you are my friend." I melted. Right then, right there was all I needed.

There is so much more to say but I am getting tired. I just wanted to say hi and get writing again. It can be hard to begin. That's what I wanted to do tonight. Just begin, again.

Not sure if you care to read about what is happening in my little life now that I am home. Thoughts occur to me all the time and I think about sharing them with you. Hope you will stick around a little longer with me to find out where my life is going. Stay tuned...

One last thing...It never gets old thinking, WOW! We are the Super Bowl Champs!

Missing England tonight,

09 January 2010

Quick Update

We are in the Charlotte airport, waiting to take off at about 9 am. We will arrive in New Orleans at 10:30 am. Hope to share a few last stories later.


08 January 2010

Never Ending Story (Part !I)

We have been at the airport for the past nine hours. We are sitting at the gate hoping we can board soon for the first leg of our flight. We have given up any hope of getting a flight out of Charlotte tonight. I think we will be forced to snooze in the airport.

That's about all I can muster now. Still need to catch you up on a few details. Maybe one last post to wrap things up, when I am finally on American soil and have slept and slept and slept.

Keep us in your prayers!

06 January 2010

Never Ending Story (Part I)

"I am typing this post in the Gatwick airport Hilton.
There is a beautiful blanket of snow outside.
Our flight is delayed a little over an hour but that
shouldn't affect our arrival in New Orleans (cross fingers here)."

That was the start to my post yesterday. I didn't get very far, with the post or the travel. We are STILL here. One hour delay changed to two then to a canceled flight. Before going into the story, I need to back up a bit and tell about the last few days.

Monday, Mark took Anne into London for a special trip of her own. I spent the day packing and cleaning. As I posted on Facebook, it was like stuffing four pounds of sausage in two pounds of skin. Elise was unpacking almost as quickly as I was packing but all in all, it was a productive day and we were in pretty good shape for our departure from the Isle of Wight Tuesday.

Tuesday was a logistical nightmare. It was a finely choreographed plan that would fall apart if just one element went wrong. It started with us waking up 45 minutes late. Ugh! Okay, regroup and rethink the plan. Mark and Sam had rented a car and had to get the luggage (about 17 pieces) to London then come back to get us. It was a race for them to get back so we could take the 3:45 ferry. I cleaned the house all day and had a walk through with the realtor at about 2:30. We walked down the hill towards town for the last time as a drizzle began to fall. Elise was fussy which helped distract me from being sappy and sentimental. I didn't have the luxury, since I was dealing with her. Probably for the best. Two things left to do: get money from the ATM and feed us lunch. I also had to fit in dashing back up to the house to drop off 75 pounds for the "TV tax" that we owed. Yes, the Brits pay a tax PER TELEVISION semi-annually. Imagine paying $250 each year for every television, just to have it in your house. That doesn't include cable or satellite service. The first ATM I tried was broken. Minutes ticking by. Heart racing. Next ATM was fine. Get to the coffee shop and order food. Wolf down mine then plead with kids to sit still and finish lunch while I dash back home. It is 3:15. Mark hasn't arrived yet. The walk up the hill takes about 20 minutes round trip. That means I would be back 10 minutes before the boat left, cutting it way too close for me. I was frozen, staring at my watch, wondering if I should just give up and think of another way to get them their money. Anne said, "Go on, Mom. You can do it!". That's all the encouragement I needed. Up the hill and back down in a record 15 minutes. Whew! Still no Mark and Sam. Would they make it? Minutes still ticking. Heart still racing. Enter a triumphant duo. Dash to the ferry. Now we can breathe.

The ferry pulled away from the dock as the rain started to come down. The sky was gray and all the lines of water, island and sky started to blur. It was as if the Isle of Wight was disappearing before our very eyes. It reminded me of the scene in Mary Poppins where the chalk pictures Bert had drawn get washed away by the rain. Goodbye to our island home. I was caught in that time between ending and beginning. One last backward glance before turning toward the excitement of going home.

Ferry, bus, train and a cold walk now lay between us and our destination: The Lyceum Theater in London's West End to see the Lion King. Mark suggested the walking part. I was thinking about taking the Tube. It was just so cold. I have to admit, it was a beautiful walk. London sat glittering on the edge of the Thames for us, one last time. No better way to warm up than hot chocolate and snacks at Starbucks before the show. We were in our seats with about 20 minutes to spare. The long day and all the planning, as messed up as it got at some points, had worked and we were ready to enjoy the show. This was our family Christmas present.

I'll pick up here tomorrow (hopefully) when I am checked in at the airport and know that I am on my way HOME. Stay tuned...


03 January 2010

Some Parting Thoughts (but not the last)

A roaring fire, Under the Tuscan Sun on the tele and everyone asleep. Bliss!

Today was our last Mass at Saint Thomas of Canterbury Church. Without school or a workplace, this community was essentially our social life for the past few months. What a blessing it has been. It felt like a home away from home. One week after we arrived, the church hosted a Harvest Supper and we attended, thinking we may as well jump right in and meet the parishioners. One lovely lady commented today about how we become part of the community so quickly. I am glad we did because these four months have flown by. That night, we met three families who have been so kind to us. We had a farewell dinner tonight with two of them. The hard part about being here just four months is, by the time you get your bearings and start relationships, it is time to go home.

No regrets about our time here except that I wish I had written more, both on the blog and in my journal. Wanting to get it perfect often stopped me. I use it as an excuse for many things. Here are a few things I forgot to mention:

Forgot to mention how funny it was to hear a dignified older lady call out, "Does anyone have a rubber?" when I asked for an eraser.

Forgot to mention the over eager, Type A personality immigration officer who greeted us in Calais on our return from Austria. That story is available upon request and will have you in stitches.

Forgot to mention a thousand little sights and sounds that I wanted to share but couldn't put into words.

Forgot to mention that Facebook is fabulous and has been such a lifeline this fall.

Forgot to mention that one of my best friends decided to let me know that it has been nice knowing me but I have really been a crappy friend these past years. Yeah, that was tough.

Forgot to mention that they actually have a dessert here called "Spotted Dick pudding."

Forgot to mention that living in this house is like your front window overlooking Lake Pontchartrain with the bonus of Audubon Park out your back gate.

Forgot to mention the nearly two weeks of daily rainbows. You don't see many rainbows in New Orleans so they still take my breath away.

Forgot to describe the passing parade of boats and ships- cargo ships piled high with brightly colored containers, sailboats gliding effortlessly past, massive cruise ships adorned with twinkling lights.

Forgot to mention just how much I have loved writing this blog and sharing things with you. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read and share our journey.


PS. Hope you'll come back for just a few more posts.