Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dear Mary,

It's been almost a year since your horrible death, yet it seems like just yesterday. March 22, 2008, the day before Easter, I was dying Easter eggs with my kids, trying to get in touch with you. We always talked several times throughout the day, yet on this day, all I got was your voicemail. I started to get a funny feeling in my gut around noon, and ironically, that is the time that you took your life. Why, Mary, did you do this? Why did you leave me? Why did you leave your kids and your family? I will never forget Brian's call. We had just sat down to eat dinner, my family and I, when he called and told me the horrible news. I went outside so my children couldn't see my reaction. I remember sitting on the grass and bawling. Just the day before, you were sitting beside me and wrote me a note saying you loved me. We were like sisters, Mary. Why didn't you come to me instead? I could have helped you. Now I am left here with this horrible pain. Did you know that the calendar has March 22 listed as "Mothering Sunday" this year? You were such a great mom, Mary, that this doesn't surprise me.

Last night I went to church for Ash Wednesday- the beginning of Lent. They played the song "Amazing Grace." I cried for you, Mary. My son asked me if the ashes from my forehead got in my eyes, I was crying so much and he was so worried about me. I will never forget you Mary. We went through the same things- our lives were parallel growing up. I guess that is why we were so close- we could relate to each other. I had already worked through my pain from the past, yet you were just beginning to, and I was going to help you. Now I feel like a failure because I couldn't help you, Mary. I am so sorry for that. Will you forgive me? Then, maybe, one day I can forgive myself.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,That saved a wretch like me....I once was lost but now am found,Was blind, but now, I see. T'was Grace that heart to fear.And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear...the hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils and snares...we have already come. T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...and Grace will lead us home. The Lord has promised good to me...His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion long as life endures. When we've been here ten thousand years...bright shining as the sun. We've no less days to sing God's praise...then when we've first begun. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me....I once was lost but now am found,Was blind, but now, I see."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Can you read this? It says, "This place needed a little splash of red." Can you see the cardinal in the tree? Loved it, loved it, loved it- had to share! I hope you have a great day!

A Wonderful Comment

I received this amazing response on my blog and wanted to share it with you. I am so grateful for this beautiful person who shared her story about cardinals with me. As I type this, I am listening to a cardinal pecking on my daughter's window. Her window is in the front of the house, next to the other big window where the birdfeeder is. These cardinals like to hang out in the big bush in front of her window and peck on the glass. It's as if these birds are saying- come on now, you can do it!

Blue Sky Vision wrote, "I don't know your Mary that many speak of on your blog. I simply am followed by a red cardinal and have been for about 2 years. I was searching on the internet as I do from time to time and found your site. About 2 years ago I was going through a horrible divorce from man so consumed with anger and evil that it was his obsession and purpose to destroy me. I was weak and alone. My faith was not strong at the time and my family not around. I was depressed and I believe suicidal for the first time in my life. Every morning and every evening for at least an hour intervals a red cardinal would try to come through my window. He would hit the window, sit on the nearby branch and come again within 10-15 seconds over and over and over again. I thought at the time "what a dumb bird." It would entertain me though and make me smile. I would tell everyone of the relentless bird. As time passed I started noticing that everywhere I went that the cardinal was there. It would dart out in front of my car while I was driving down the street every single day, It would be in a tree outsided my work window. Every single day and sometimes twice a day. I helped this little boy find his home after he walked too far and as I left the cardinal flew so close in front of me it scared me and perched himself on a fence and stared at me. When my new boyfriend who had never seen the cardinal started going to church with me, that first Sunday I told him, "Today you will see the cardinal." WIthin 5 minutes down the road there he was as bright red and beautiful as ever flying right in front of our path. I would tell people of sightings over the phone and hear a sudden shriek of "Oh My God! A cardinal just landed in front of me while you told me the story. I sware to God. God Almighty". I could go on and on and I promise on my life every word is true and it would take me an entire book to list all the miracles of around the appearance of this bird over the last 2 years. I believe the cardinal's message was to enjoy the present no matter what I am up against. Enjoy the little things and every breath of life. Don't waste one moment on fear, worry, hurt, or anger. Life is Good. And even to say "I am proud of you and love you". I am close to God now and have come such a long way in life. There are so many people hurting think there is no way out. I pray the cardinal reaches them too."

Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience. God has so many wonderous ways of providing hope to us when we are in despair. Never stop looking! I love your interpretation of the cardinal, too- enjoy each day and cherish life! I am so happy to know that other people are being touched by a cardinal, too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bits from Nicholas

"Wizard of Oz, quizer de laz," are the magical words that came from Nicholas' mouth yesterday. I swear, one day he is going to be a poet, just like me- maybe even a songwriter. He can belt out rhyming tunes so easily and his imagination, well...let me give you an example.

We were driving back from the store on a beautiful sunny day when out of the blue, Nicholas said, "Can you believe God made all this?"

What wise words coming from my five-ear-old, I thought.

"Everything, that is, but us," he added quickly.

Where should I go with this, I asked myself as I crossed a busy intersection.

"Then who made us?" I finally decided to say.

There was a long silence, and I could see in the rearview mirror that Nicholas was thinking hard about this, wheels turning in his head.

"Well God made robots first, then He made us." Another pause. "God just wanted to see what we'd be like first."

Wise words from such a young boy. God is in charge of our lives. We are simply "robots" playing our small part in the big picture of life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guess What?!!

I am so ecstatic, I have to share the news. I can't hold it in any longer. Last Friday, I got an e-mail from Marley Gibson accepting my story for publication in a Christmas Miracles anthology, which along with Cecil Murphy, will be published in time for Christmas.

"Congratulations! We like your story and want to include it in ChristmasMiracles, scheduled for publication by St. Martins Press in October 2009."

Can you believe it? I have been doing the happy dance for days. I signed a contract and sent a biography- now I'm really feeling like a writer, and I love it.

Gotta go type some more stories. You never know where they might lead you...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here We Go Round The Sick-berry Bush!

My family has been inundated with sickness lately. With three young children in school and mommy trying to work part-time, this has been quite a juggling act. First Nicholas got sick one Tuesday last month (I work Tuesday and Thursday). Pete had an important meeting and could not stay home, so I had to call in sick. Then Nick got better until the next Tuesday when he came down with fever again. I had a lot going on, so Pete stayed home and took him to the doctor, who said it was a virus and wouldn't put him on anything. I stayed home the next time (Thursday) and then the following week, the same thing happened. Tuesday Nicholas is coughing again (and had been all night). Back to the doctor and finally we get put on antibiotics. Nicholas gets better and then the following guessed it. Andrew wakes up with a fever. He has to stay home for three days and this is the week of my art show. Did I mention I got sick sometime in the middle of all this? Then I go to work and have two, three and four-year-olds coughing in my face. When will it be spring? Well, the boys seem to be okay, even though I found out a nasty tummy virus is going around. I will keep my fingers crossed and keep praying. But today, while at work, I got a call from the school nurse and- can you believe it- Katie had a low-grade fever and earache. Will this winter yuckiness ever end?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love is…

Love is…
a newborn baby,
fresh and innocent,
pure as water,
crying, then content.

Love is…
a clasping hand
of a friend so true,
never letting go
no matter what you do.

Love is…
a wedding ring
round and never-ending.
A promise so true
through life;
a kiss, endearing.

Love is…
a family
together, a pact.
A bond that can’t be broken
by this given fact.

Love is…
a gift from God
given from above
so freely, like a string
flying with the dove.

Love is…
around us
wherever we may go.
It’s up to us to grab it,
give it away,
and watch it grow.

By Laurie Kolp

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Getting Ready

I am very sad today. Pete tells me I get this way when I've had too much to do and get overtired. I guess that's true, since I spent the whole weekend in my garage, on my knees stapling art together. My idea was to have a long strip for each child with a representation of all the things we have done since I started in December. Well, for 70 kids, that is a lot of work. And I can proudly say I did it all on my own- no help from family. They wanted to, but once I got my system down, I just wanted to keep the momentum going. Sometimes if you have to stop and direct someone to where they need to put something or show them how to do it, then you lose time. Yesterday I got everything hung up in the hall, and thankfully one sweet mother came to help. She is my angel. I mean, I thought I had it bad when I had three kids under the age of 4- well she has 4 kids under the age of 3- NO JOKE (twins included). She got married and had kids late, too, so she is all into mommyhood- just like me. Yet, she took her off time to come and help me- I am so very grateful for that. The thing that saddens me though, is that the way I am doing things is different than the last art teacher did them, so the teachers aren't yet sure if this will work (I can tell- believe me). I guess tomorrow we'll see by the way the parents and kids react. Keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck- I need it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Blink of an Eye

Valentine's Day is going to be a little difficult for me to get through this year. I'll be thinking of last year's V-day. Last year, on Valentine's Day, Mary came over to my house in the morning. I was baking cupcakes for one of the kid's parties. She sat at the kitchen table and watched me. We talked. Mary wanted this day to be the first day of a new beginning for her. She wanted to work real hard on some things she was trying to overcome, especially some eating issues and she wanted my help. I was her role model- she looked up to me because we had been through a lot of the same things. We made a pact that day. I gave her a calender and she was going to mark her progress. She was so excited. Her husband texted her and told her to get home, and I found out later he had hired someone to give her a massage- what a treat.

How can things get so turned around in a month? Mary left my house on Valentine's Day with some hope- hope that she could get past her mistakes, hope that she could overcome her problems, hope that her husband loved her, hope that her children needed her and hope that maybe one day she could teach again. But she lost all that hope in a blink of an eye. Mary had no hope when she shot herself. Things aren't always like they seem...

I hope Mary knows how much she meant to me, and how I valued our friendship. I will NEVER forget that!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Courage, Cardinals and Love

Here is a poem I wrote and I thought with Valentine's day coming up, I would post it. Have a love-filled week!

Courage, Cardinals and Love by Laurie Kolp

Red is the color of
Courage, Cardinals and love.

Courage to be brave and fight
even when you know things aren’t right.

Cardinals that faithfully appear
in times of sadness and great fear.

Love, a feeling so true
of acceptance and comfort the whole day through.

May your life be forever filled with red-
Courage, Cardinals and love, in the days ahead.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ms. Angelle's Debacle

Here's a picture of Ms. Angelle and me at Sam's. Poor thing has been suffering lately. Apparently her back is giving her a time. The pain is unbearable and I have spent the last couple of weeks taking her to doctors, getting blood work and x-rays- all to no avail. I'm saddened to say that it appears that most of the doctors we have been to don't want to deal with a 93-year-old cranky old lady. They all just refer us somewhere else. Wednesday we went to a nice young doctor who very politely told us he didn't deal with people over 90. I guess when Ms. Angelle took off her shirt to show him where her pain was, he couldn't deal with the sight. He did give her a shot, though that knocked her out. The nurse gave it to her real quickly and then shooed us away, telling me I'd better get her home fast. She barely made it to her bed and she was out like a light. Ms. Angelle told me later that was the best $60.00 she ever spent. He gave her a month's prescription of anti-inflammatories, too. I'd better get my phonebook out- I have 30 days to find another doctor. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sick Kids, Art Shows and Achiness, Oh My!

Sick kids, art shows and achiness, oh my!
My kids are sick and can't get well
and the big art show is looming.
Ms. Angelle's back hurts like Hell
and she keeps calling me a-fuming.
I have deadlines to meet and doctors to see;
people who think I have time are assuming.
So I keep trying my best to keep up with the rest
while juggling these obligations I'm pursuing.
I'm tired and sick and lagging behind
Sick kids, art shows and achiness, oh my!
Please pray that I get through this rough time by and by.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Things Change

Here I am with some fellow preschool teachers and friends at an early childhood conference in Houston. Five of us drove over Friday afternoon and went shopping at the Galleria (yahoo). Then we ate at the Cheesecake Factory (that dessert alone made my weekend) and headed for the hotel where we spent the night before Saturday's conference. I must tell you that was the first time I have "taken a trip" without my husband and kids in ten years- can you believe it? I had a great time and learned a lot of neat artsy things to do with the kiddos, but I also noticed how much I have changed since I lived in the big city 13 years ago. Here are a few of the things that stand out:

1. I don't like to shop anymore. I used to go shopping on the weekends with girlfriends and spend the whole day at the mall, blowing money and having fun. Now I just follow along and wonder what the point is- I mean, I don't need to buy anything, so why tease myself like that- I just don't get how some people like to browse for hours. Today, malls are only useful to me for walking.

2. I don't drink anymore. I used to go to fancy restaurants and get fancy drinks. Now I'm more interested in the food (especially the desserts).

3. The hotel won me over not from serving free wine during happy hour (which we missed because we were eating cheesecake), but because of the free milk and cookies that were offered to everyone at 8:00.

4. Driving around downtown Houston no longer excites me. I remember way back when my friends and I would drive around and have fun just doing that. Now I simply want to get where I'm going quickly and safely.

5. Now I can't wait to get back home to my family, where I'd much rather be anyway.

I guess I'm getting old- but I'm happy, and that's all that matters. I did have a GREAT time with my friends, though and am looking forward to next year's conference.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Go, Cardinals!

I'm sure you can guess why I am rooting for the CARDINALS to win the Super Bowl today. I will be watching closely and thinking of Mary. I bet she will be watching from up above, too. Who will you be rooting for tonight?