(c) publicdomainpictures.net (this picture is NOT me!!)

I'm pretty new to all of this blogging stuff.

I love to do it, and I have so much I want to write about. 

But, I'm forcing myself to take a vacation.  I think I just need a little time to renew and refresh.  My next post will be January 4, 2010.

2010?!? That's crazy.

Thanks for your comments, support and friendship! I hope you have a wonderful holiday and new year.

SEE YOU IN 2010!!
Finally!! I get to introduce you to Belle.  You know about Princess Cinnamon (guinea pig), you know about Stout 'Trouble' and the baby Mojo, but you haven't really met Belle.  She's our quiet, peaceful, lovely little kitty who only makes rare appearances.  Now that the tree is up and presents are accumulating, Belle is ready for her close-up.
We adopted Belle at the same time we adopted Stout (from the Harbour Humane Society).  They were not from the same litter.

They are very different. While Stout will sprawl belly-up on your lap while you're watching a movie, Belle will only come up once or twice to push her head into your leg and get a pet or two.  While Stout is off causing trouble in the night, Belle is at the end of the bed by 9:00 pm everynight, waiting for lights out.

When they were kittens, we'd shut them in the basement while we were gone and let them out to roam the house while we were home.  Now that the are older, they have the run of the house, but Belle has never gotten out of the habit.  She stays in the basement all day and only comes up to visit after dinner.

She's small and frail and oh so very sweet.

And, she adores Mojo. Never a hiss or a swat...just purrs.

That's our little Christmas kitty. I'm glad to have introduced you.
As early as I can remember, we've had Santa's Whiskers cookies at Christmastime. They are truly a sign of the season in my house now - just as they were when I was a kid.  If you google "Santa's Whiskers" the recipe is all over the Internet, but I haven't met anyone yet who knows what they are when I talk about them.

They start with lots of chopping. First cherries...
Then pecans...
Once the chopping is done, you cream the butter and sugar...(you know the drill!) You also add coconut to these cookies. I LOVE COCONUT!
Roll the dough up and put them in the fridge.
Slice and bake....how easy is that!?
So, that's my favorite part, but Ella and Greg like the end of this process:  Eating.  After all, it's not really Christmas until we have Santa's Whiskers and a glass of milk.

By the way, I'm not trying to tell you what to do, but ol' Santa himself gets these every year and he's always been good to us... I'm just sayin'...
We have to make sugar cookies every year...First the rolling and cutting...One of my favorite Martha tips: use powdered sugar instead of flour when rolling them out so they don't get tough after rolling and re-rolling!
And then the baking and cooling...
They don't all make it to the next step:
I always get lots of help for this part!
Wait a minute...that's not the kind of help I need!!! (You see why his middle name is "Trouble"?)
Ella too?  I guess help is help and I shouldn't complain!
For all my cookie-gift recipients (aka FAMILY):  Do not worry - Stout's cookie did not make it into any of the gift bags!
A Piece of History: Guernsey Dairy
Ahhhh Detroit.  Motown. 313, Big D, Hockeytown, 'Troit....

For Michiganders, Detroit has a special place in our hearts.  We know the stats.  We know about the corruption.  We aren't in denial.

I have always believed that there is something special about Michigan.  It gets kicked around and made fun of, but a lot of people don't get it. 

When you are from Michigan, you become part of its victories and its defeats.  We don't get cocky in Michigan, unless you're against us on the hockey rink or other sports arena.  We don't brag about the things that do make us special - like the miles and miles of freshwater shoreline or the millions (I know, that's a stretch) of ecosystems we possess.  We also don't sit around and blame others for what goes wrong with our state. 

Good or bad - we own it.

A great example of this is the Detroit Lions.  I love listening to Lions fans and am a fan myself.  It doesn't matter how bad it gets - like going winless in 2008 - we still LOVE our Lions.  We cheer them on and always have hope  that they'll pull through.  My mom will say, when there's 3:00 left in the 4th quarter and the Lions are losing by 21, "That's ok, the Lions are a second-half team!"

Another example is the "Big 3" or, now the "Detroit 3".  We don't sit around and bash them, just because our economy stinks.  We understand the rich history the auto industry has brought to Michigan.  Could they have been run better? Sure....but they're part of us. 

So, Detroit has its problems - no doubt about it. But, it's still part of the Michigan family, and I haven't given up on it yet.  I can't imagine ever giving up on it.  

And, I hope you don't either.
Here we go again...there are just so many aspects of giving gifts.  Here's another story for you...

I recently received this gift from my friend Candace:
Personal gifts - those picked out especially for you - touch your heart and inspire reflection.  This gift was no exception.  Candace purchased this scarf for me in Ecuador last summer.  Here's what I think about when I wear this scarf...

- My brave, adventurous friend and her spirit

- The story of young women in Ecuador who walk through the jungles to work and then go home to run their homes

- The hard work that went into weaving the scarf

- The beauty and intricacy of the pattern (barely visible in the picture)


- All the stories from Candace's trip.

This scarf is my small window into the world.  Candace travels all over the world - with a friend, one of her sons or by herself.  I just can't see myself doing that!  I'd love to venture out on such adventures, but I'm not brave enough...yet.  One thing that Candace has taught me is that through life, if you're true to yourself, you'll make the right things happen. 

So, as you can see, this scarf is much more than an accessory...it's inspiration.
**This post is for my friend Lu Ann, who went to "look"at a golden retriever puppy last night...as she says, no goes to look at a puppy and not take one home!! Congrats Lu Ann!**

Did you ever meet someone who simply changed your day? Greg and I recently went for a walk and met this guy:
I blamed the Hallmark movie for our recent puppy adoption ( and, by "blame" I mean it in the most endearing and positive way), but it was also due to this dog.  We have no idea what his name was, but I called him Darwin. 

Greg and I were taking a walk in early November in a small town (Lyons, Michigan) and we were just chatting about life, when this long-bodied, short-legged pup ran out to greet us.  He wanted to follow us but stopped in the road and watched us walk on. 

On the way back though, he ran up to us and as soon as Greg bent down, he jumped into his arms.  He was so kind and friendly and loving.  His energy was contagious.  I looked at Greg and could tell that he had the same reaction that I did: An unstoppable, eye-twinkling smile.

He wagged his whole body and looked up at us with sweet eyes.  Then...he was exhausted and laid down on the street. 

"Go home, Darwin" we told him...after all, we were right in front of his house.  We had to encourage him to get off of the road and he trotted back to the house.  He didn't follow us or bark or anything. 

His intentions were 100% genuine and sweet, and it made our day. It also REALLY made me want a dog.  It may have even swayed Greg a little.

Thanks little buddy!




While heading out to lunch with a friend, I pulled over and took this picture with my cell phone:
Now that doesn't happen every day!

This is the first new vehicle I have ever owned.  A 2003 Hyundai Sante Fe...not quite a car, not quite an SUV. It's been a great vehicle - hardly a problem and always dependable.

This event made me reflect on the miles we've travelled in that vehicle (whom we affectionately call Darth - after Vader). We've been through several states in it - Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, West virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio.... too many to think of really.

We drove it to two funerals in Indiana. One to say goodbye to Greg's Grandma Dot and one to say goodbye to his Grandpa Phil. 

We drove it up to Marquette, Michigan to help clear out my mom's house after my parents' divorce and her decision to move.  It was the house I lived in from 12-18 (and then a short time at 20!).

We drove it through Kentucky's Bourbon Trail to celebrate me passing the Michigan Bar Exam.

We drove it on several girl trips and always felt safe.

We drove it to West Virginia and back in 28 hours (yes, it's an 11 hour trip each way) to collect sentimental items from Greg's mom's house before she moved.

We drove it through rain storms and snow storms and tornado warnings.

We drove it on every coast of Michigan.

We drove it while discussing important things, funny things, stressful things, sad things and ridiculous things.

We drove it to the hospital five times...three for me one for Greg and one for Ella.

We drove it to and from joyous occasions and heartbreaking occasions.

It's been with us through so much and we continue to depend on it. Thanks for the journey Darth, and here's to many more adventures!
While taking a walk, we saw this hanging from a fence:
In case you can't read it, it says:

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what we did here.
                                                 -Abe Lincoln

As you can see, I took this picture in Autumn.  This house sits on Lake Macatawa - highly prized real estate in our town.  I was glad to see it, because it challenged my pre-conceived opinions of wealthy people who inhabit this lakeside community.

I'm posting it now, because it's the right time. At Christmas, everyone talks about poor people and those who are less fortunate. We all 'remember' them in our prayers.  We just need to do more during all seasons.

Don't get me wrong - I believe in the power of prayer.  Prayer has been proven to work - and it doesn't matter what religion you subscribe to.  Simple prayer - to anything or anyone - impacts the person for whom you are praying.

But, praying is easy.  Working for the poor is not easy.  Being a voice for the poor is not easy.  It takes time away from those we love and money out of our bank accounts.  It makes us acknowledge just how much we have and how little they have.  It forces us to admit that those living in poverty are not lazy and were not given the tools we were given to succeed. 

I love Christmas, but it bothers me that it's the only time of year that some people acknowledges the need of their brothers and sisters all over this world. Many people say a prayer and think they've done their duty.  But, I believe we're all connected and we're one community, no matter how different we all are. And, the need far exceeds prayer.

I'm not perfect at this either (duh! I'm not perfect at anything) but we try to keep things in perspective continually and teach Ella about it.  Ella is materially spoiled - being an only child with 7 grandparents, Christmas at our house is like a visit to Toys'R'Us! And, that's why we go to Goodwill or Salvation Army monthly to donate what we can.

Thanks Abe, for your wisdom and this very important reminder.
"The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter.  As she lifted the curtain to look out into the dreary night, the moon broke suddenly from behind the clouds and alone upon her like a bright, benignant face, which seemed to whisper in the silence, "Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds."
-Chapter 15, Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

Parenting is difficult. It's emotional and exhausting and frustrating and makes one worry more than she thought it was possible to worry. 

It's also the biggest blessing in my life. 

It's ironic that the very thing that parents are supposed to accomplish is the one thing that causes their heartbreak.  We teach children the ways of the world and how to be independent.  We especially enforce this with Ella, since she is an only child and a girl.  In a country where women get paid a fraction of what men do, are not given the same opportunities because of their gender and who are expected to take on certain roles, we try to teach Ella that she can do anything she wants to do.  We want to help her develop the skills to survive on her own...without us or anyone else.

And, guess what? It's working.  I've posted about it before.  In fact, you're probably sick of me talking about it all the time.  Maybe I just keep repeating it to get it through my head...I'm not sure I've accepted it myself. 

I know we have several years with Ella before she leaves for college or wherever she chooses to go.  I know those years have a lot of unexpected surprises for us...tears, laughter, shock, horror, joy...  You may not believe it, but I do know she's 7! 

By acknowledging the inevitable, it helps me to appreciate every day.  I've talked to so many parents who say, "It just goes too fast!!" I know it does, and by appreciating every minute (good and bad), it helps to slow it down a little.

And, in those dark moments....and there will be a few...I'm going to remember the above passage from Little Women and know that I am not alone.  Every mom who feels deeply for her children is likely going through this with me, and that helps a lot.  

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    My name is Kristen Porter ~ I am a corporate attorney by day, and a writer/artist/renaissance-woman wanna-be by night. 

    This is my blog...my summary of life and attempt to capture small moments forever while appreciating their impermanence.  Those small moments are what make life so wonderful!

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