Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Cheer

This Mom is fighting the desire to light her Holiday pom poms afire and watch 'em burn. The Christmas Cheer has already gone up in smoke and it's not even December yet. (That does not bode well.) I love most of the people parts of the holidays, but cringe at the shopping, pressures, and grossly inflated expectations. We do not celebrate X-mas around here, but Christmas. Yet, most of the holiday-related hoopla centers around juggling the rings of Holiday Hell.
What to do away with? Every aspect that can be trimmed down is important to someone. And the assorted someones are all precious. Selfishness wants to shriek, "Enough! No. No. No more can be added without Mom being taken away by the elves in white coats to Santa's Special Holiday Home for Grinches!" Except that no one is asking for anything that is too much. Each single request is reasonable.
I wonder if installing a long roll of paper on the fridge for holiday requests from "Will you drive me to rehearsal?" to "Can we bake cookies for my class?" and another next to that for regular stuff like "Please pick up a jug of milk." and "I need someone to watch over me so I do not get distracted while completing yet another Social Studies project." would be tacky? It might help the family to understand why Mom is less than enthusiastic about seemingly mundane requests and the fun, fun, fun additions to the to-do list if they could all see what the others are asking. Otherwise there is going to be one more Prozac Mom mechanically driving her Mom Taxi from place to place while grinning a frighteningly vacant chemical smile and waving slightly charred pom poms.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Exactly how I feel about Black Friday shopping.
Except that Mark isn't shopping. He's having dessert. Which one would expect to be way better than shopping. Perhaps not.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Twas in the weeks before Christmas, when all through the house, several creatures were stirring, all larger than a mouse. The stockings were piled on the arm of a chair, in hopes that someone--- anyone, would take the decorating from there.
The children kept popping up out of their beds, pursuing the ideas that come into their childish heads. And the Mister and I had just begun to settle in, having turned off the t.v.. The drowsing was just about to begin.
When from the kitchen there arose such a clatter, that we looked at one another in horror of what might be the matter. Away to the dining room I flew like a flash, prepared for the worst and ready to make the kitty hash.
With the flick of a switch, the lights shone down on the objects below, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but twelve furry feet all scrambling in fear.

With three kids not far behind, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment we'd be in for a time.
Despite my shouts of , "Be careful!" and "Stay back!" still onward they came, so I called them by name:
"Out Buster! Out Maggie!
Bella, you terrible, very bad beastie!
Hey, Evan! Hey, Erin!
No, Katie, not you, too!
Go back to your rooms!
Get back in your beds!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

Knowing better than to stand around and gawk, my observers fair flew off to their nests. Each one figuring it was better to lay low than chance being blamed for the mess.
Once all the wee beasties were quit of the room, I reached for my broom.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard kitty paws patter back across the floor. That dreaded feline beastie was back on the counter! As I drew in my breath, and was turning around, the mister saved Bad Bella from what was about to come down.

She was covered in fur, from her head to her foot, but all I could see was the trail of broken crockery and glass--- her sins black as soot. A bundle of dinnerware lay where it fell after crashing to the floor.

Stupid cat.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


In school my Dad ran hurdles. So did I. It's a little like miniature bursts of flight. Actually, it's a lot like that. This week I have been confronting hurdles, but I have been slamming into them rather than sailing over smoothly. It's a little too "America's Funniest Home Videos" for my taste. Then I ran across a video a friend posted. Because I am apparently incapable of posting video, check out Enter the Story at
The spend less, give more is not so much the issue. What I so needed to hear was the reminder to give of myself when I just do not feel like it. On a day when I want to stay in bed with a heating pad, and there is frustration with the nursing agency's inability to cover their staffing, I just need to care for someone else rather than focusing on me. To look outside of myself, my home, my family, and see the needs of others without turning a blind eye to the ones that seem too messy, too big, too inconvenient, or too hard.


I am no longer interested in wiring little shiny ornaments onto garlands. In fact, I have a big, ol' "Bored Now." for the very idea. But the windows look festive. Yay!

Heights are not my Happy Place. That is where the Mr. steps in to make things pretty. I only had to be on the ladder long enough to undo some minor bow squashing and rearrange a few wonky bits of greenery. Whew.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Infusion is tomorrow. And this weekend saw multiple slowdowns thanks to joint and bone pain. This morning there ought to be a mile-long to-do list, but an ADHD moment is keeping the list from happening. Which makes it doubly difficult to accomplish the tasks that should be neatly lining up on said list rather than swirling in no particular order through my thoughts only to surface briefly before being carried away as some new bit of whatever floats to the top of the maelstrom. Argh. I know the following should happen:
  • Food. And paper towels. We need the food for Thanksgiving dinner and for eating on the days before the holiday. Because sometimes infusions leave me in worse shape than I was in before. I feel like I should have most of the meal prepped as much in advance as possible. I wonder if this is paranoia or reasonably thinking ahead?!
  • Decorations. All the Christmas stuff is scattered around the house waiting to make everything pretty and festive. Waiting on me. I'm thinking we decorate the tree tomorrow during the infusion, or maybe on Thanksgiving Day between the turkey and the pie?!
  • A trip to the dump. Because I need to clean out the weird little places that seem to accumulate stuff that should have made it into the bin. And there always seems to be way more stuff in way more places than should be possible.
  • Storage bins. This year we are going to replace the boxes that have become more duct tape than box with those nice plastic bins that one can see into... and that is where the holiday stuff will live during the off months. In my mind I can already see how neatly the bins will stack in the attic rather than the leaning towers of collapsing cardboard that have served as holiday storage for a decade or so.
  • Orange oil. Because the cat knocked over the tree last year, and she is far too interested in my garlands already for her own good. The cat will not survive another tree toppling. No. Hopefully the citrus scent will make the breakables wholly unappealing to our curious kitty.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Miss Katie and I went out in search of nearly-naked make-up yesterday. We found some shades that are so close to flesh tones that your mamas would all be proud of us. My not-so-little Missy ended up choosing mascara, lip gloss, and eye shadow for her first cosmetics, and she looked like herself but with a bit of highlighting. Once she's learned to apply the assorted powder and goo, then there can be more color. It's a process.
More importantly, we had a great afternoon together. We talked about the parts of our lives that have diverged somewhat since she entered the halls of middle school. The 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. stuff. We laughed. We rolled our eyes. We ate cake and sipped our beverages. We smelled everything in the Yankee Candle Co. We tried the samples in World Market and discovered we both like rooibos with spices in it. So we brought a tin home, and we will drink it to the general disgust of everyone else in the household.

Oh, Christmas Tree

Oh, my. Christmas blew up in my house. And the debris has yet to be fully surveyed, much less cleared. Christmas decorating used to be a fairly simple affair. Don showed Katie photos last night of the tree we shared for Christmas the first year of our marriage. One of us loved the small tabletop model purchased on clearance at a discount store, and found it a charming and festive addition. The other (who shall remain nameless except for the spelling of "D-o-n") not so much. He and Katie thought that wonderful little tree was pitiful. While that tree still has fond memories for me, it is not the sort of Christmas Tree about which I obsess.
The Year of the Teeny Tabletop Tree was also the year that I received my first piece of Spode Christmas Tree china. And so the seeds planted in childhood by an auntie who lived for a time in jolly, olde England where she began a collection of Christmas china began to sprout. Into the beanstalk of last Christmas when I discovered that *GASP!!!* my china had been outsourced to no longer be "Made in England". Wrong-o-moosebreath! So we found a temporary source, and then later my auntie sent me a treasure trove from her own collection. My mother and my mother-in-law were both greatly relieved to hear that the china set they and others had been thoughtfully building one Christmas gift at a time would feature enough dinner plates for our whole clan. (We are women who actually concern ourselves with this sort of thing. My daughters are being trained to a combination of concern over the dinnerware matching, and an understanding that paper plates do not have to be washed so long as one is okay with killing the planet. The girls are still a little confused, but they will get it all sorted out before they are responsible for such things.) Yesterday I assembled all of the booty amassed during last year's frenzy to find every possible piece of "Made in England" Christmas Tree china available within the state.
And then, I just sat in the dining room with the most foolish of smiles. And goggled. And giggled. And perhaps a bit too reverently held up pieces of china for my long-suffering spouse to admire. It was an occasion of such magnitude that the thirteen year old boy came into the room and managed a comment about all that Christmas China. Hee.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sweet Celebration

Whoo-Hoo! The kids are out of school for a whole week! Instead of dragging them from their nice, warm beds too early, the option to let them sleep in exists for a few days. The school year brings a series of logistical headaches to start every day, but Thanksgiving Break is opening with cinnamon rolls. Hanging around the house enjoying sweets is so much better than rushing around the house and zipping off to assorted destinations!
I'm abuzz with thoughts of "What shall we do today?" because the possibilities feel so unlimited compared to ordinary days. Don has gone off to meet a friend for coffee, Erin has a choir rehearsal in less than an hour, and Evan has a friend coming over this afternoon. This is a real change from our typical day's jam-packed 6:00 a.m.- 9:00 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.-bedtime schedules for the kids. I think Kate and I will run off for a little Mother-Daughter bonding in the cosmetic aisle that ends with a trip to La Madeliene (because that's our girly spot).
By the time we return home, Don plans to have pulled the Christmas goodies down from the attic for me. We'll sort through the assorted pretties, and it will begin to feel like the holidays are imminent. (Because they are!) This year we're hosting a Black Friday open house so I have an excellent excuse for dragging all the Christmas goodies out a bit early. My hands are just twitching at the thought of unwrapping the Christmas china and ornaments for this year... oooh. Hooray!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sharing is Good

Leanne over at Tired Mama says she will show me her Polish Pottery if I show her mine. Since my hands are stiff with arthritis this morning, today is another good day for a picture post.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tears of a Clown

Evan finally had the opportunity to tattle on Katie yesterday. He was positively gleeful about conveying the news that his sister was experimenting with Mom's make-up. I answered the phone to, "Uh, Mom?"
"Yes, Evan?"
"Um. Katie is into your mascara?
"Mascara... are we talking about the same sister?!"
"Yes!" (He's giddy.)
"Are you sure she's in the mascara?"
"That's the black, goopy stuff that goes on your eyes, right?"
"That's the stuff. Alrighty, then. I'll deal with it when I get home."
"Uh, Mom? Should tell her to wash it off?"
"Well, she can try, but that stuff is super waterproof. It's unlikely to come off."

Later that evening, I consult a group of Other Mothers on the wearing of make-up. I am consulting because Katie didn't break any rules by experimenting, but there probably do need to be some guidelines put in place. (Make-up is not something we have even discussed, so it's not as if she snuck off and put on great gobs of goo at school or a dance like I recall kids doing who were not allowed to wear make-up in middle school. ) The other moms do not have a daughter over five years among them though. None of them has gone beyond letting their preschool daughters wear clown lip gloss in pretty, pretty princess shades of pink and purple. So there are no opinions I can make my own. *sigh*

Later, Don and I curl into bed to watch a t.v. show about Windsor Castle while Katie finishes up her homework assignment. I tell him that the Other Mothers are not weighing in, and that I wish I had asked the mommies with older daughters what their family policies are on Daughters Wearing Make-up. Still thinking, I then say that it really doesn't matter what other parents are doing other than to get ideas, and what does Don think. Don proceeds to offer up his two cents consisting of, "I don't really care if she wears make-up, much less what kinds, but if she looks like a 'ho' or a clown, she's washing it off." He then throws in a rendition of the little song Ringling Brothers uses to announce the arrival of the clowns in their tiny car while I laugh myself into breathlessness.

So. We still have yet to resolve the questions of tween and teen cosmetic use. I am thinking that nail polish, cologne, and sheer lip colors are fine because these goodies have been allowed since the girls were still into Disney Princesses. Foundation, blush, and eyeliner are absolutely off limits. Mascara, a single shade of eye shadow, and powder are currently up for discussion.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mom's Taxi

There is too much of this in my life.

I would like more of this instead.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To Market We Go

Oh. I married well. This morning Don and I ran away from home to have breakfast at our local Market after dropping off Youngest Daughter at school. After our meal, he says, without so much as a sigh, "Okay. Let's go look at the dishes." I am silent. Because I am soaking up the sheer pleasure of being with my Beloved who intimately knows how oddly pleased I am by wondering amongst pretty breakable bits of glass, china, crystal, and pottery. And that he loves me enough to wander with me almost weekly despite the knowledge that I might find some treasure I am convinced should share our home. And if I do, he will say, "Can we afford that?" or "Do you need that?" If the first answer is "No", then we will move on along. If the second answer is "No", then he waits for the inevitable, "But..." This is a man who has the patience of Job when it comes to me and my love o' dishes.
Last week after I ran away to Bargain Basement with Lisa and Shelley, I commented that he might collect bass guitars if we were ever independently wealthy. He responded that, no, he would not... but that he does apparently collect Polish Pottery. Hee. Yes, he does.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Basic Theology... for KIDS!

A friend has released an on-line version of a book he co-wrote with his son. Basic Theology for Kids is now available from Pastor Steve Lucas and son David! Steve is headed out to Costa Rica to support and equip other pastors through The Brook. AND. Steve is offering a freebie of his Kids' Theology text to bloggers willing to offer him a link. So. Here's a two-fer, Steve because we also appreciate your work to help equip parents who don't happen to be pastors. Sample download available at Steve's web site

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Oooooh. Friday night was full of surprises. My parents brought unexpected gifts of Polish pottery. A stunning batch of pretties including a coffee pot, egg plate, sauce boat and plate, and a flower-shaped bowl were all unwrapped just in time to put out for our first potluck dinner!
Mom and Dad with Katie also had a hand in a surprise for Don. His birthday is coming up, but since we had friends over, I figured a cake and "Happy Birthday" would be in order even if the date was a little off. The three of them went out to pick up a few things that I wanted for our guests... and a birthday cake. Dad slipped into the kitchen with the cake reading "My Dad Rocks!" while Don sat in the living room talking. Everyone headed into the living room, and the children started off the singing of the birthday song as the cake was brought into the living room. Don was looking around wondering who everyone was singing to as the cake was presented to him. It's pretty rare that we are able to surprise him!

Friday, November 14, 2008


A woman beloved by many who are precious to me passed away late Thursday after spending 2008 battling aggressive cancer that spread throughout her body costing her a leg and eventually this life. But what a life. I am tickled by the desire and level of activity going into developing a suitable way to celebrate a life well-lived. I saw the lady one time after she began her fight for life, but I never actually met her. Don knew her only to say, "Hello!" Yet our lives are strongly influenced by her effect on all the mutual friends who knew and were loved by her. What more can we hope for than to have loved so well that all who share our lives carry a bit of our torch forward to continue lighting the way to Christ?
An interesting counterpoint to the loss and celebration came an hour later when news of my sister-in-law producing a bouncing bundle of boy was relayed. Don and I were pleased that all went well for the mother and the little one. They should go home Sunday where my dynamo of a mother-in-law is waiting to help the family adjust to life with baby.
The news of these two common, yet once-in-a-lifetime, passages came an hour apart. There is an appreciation of the symmetry. We will pray for the peace of those who mourn, for the quick recovery of the new mother, and with all joy for the eternal life and the new life to be celebrated.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Time and Tied

Despite the officiant looking suspiciously like David Koresh, Don and I made it through our wedding vows to be introduced as husband and wife. We ate fajitas and cake, dumped our wedding clothes, tossed the garter and the bouquet, and headed off for our wedding night. Which was almost as ill-fated as my attempts to stay dry-eyed during the ceremony.

A couple who drove in for the wedding from another town were staying the night at our house. As were we. Shared quarters do not an intimate honeymoon make. As we unpacked my assorted toiletries on arriving at our first official residence (with our first official house guests), I discovered that something was missing. So I called my parents, and asked that they bring me the small plastic case left in the bathroom so we could avoid celebrating a honeymoon pregnancy a few weeks later. Mother said she would finds the missing pills before I was missing pills.

Except she could not find them. So she sent my Dad and his good friend (the father of the flower girl) over to the drug store connected to the home health agency where I worked. My father and his pal requested a refill of my prescription and explained the circumstances to my co-worker. (Oh, Privacy Practice laws how I love thee...) Dad and his friend delivered the by now much-discussed birth control pills to our house. We have wedding guests, and fathers of the wedding party all along on our wedding night. At which point the doorbell rings.

One of the nurses I worked with had been in the pharmacy and overheard my Dad broadcasting my birth control needs. Which she found very funny. So she proceeded to purchase every other method available in the store, tossed in pamphlets on everything from pregnancy to certain indelicate diseases, and came right on over to join in the fun. In case you are counting, there are now five more people involved in our wedding night than there ought to be.
Which brings me back to that study I joined a few years later hoping to find a cure for an all too common marriage and my husband's lack of attention and interest. Beginning to learn what Scripture had to say about marriage, I discovered that the pattern we set on our wedding night was still the one we were reproducing--- and that it looked nothing like what the Bible said our relationship could be. There were too many other people involved in our marriage. We needed to cleave--- both away from other people and to one another. While our children were directly affected by our marriage (and we remain responsible for loving and teaching our offspring), they were not participants in this particular three-legged race. And the race was bound to be smoother once we cut ourselves loose from our friends and parents. They were likely to have opinions, but not one of them was tied to the quintessential unit of one comprised by Don and I.
The long process began of trying to learn how to put Don in a place of higher priority than every other person. More challenging lessons came as we walked, ran, limped, and sometimes crawled along together. Sometimes we struggled against the ties that bound us together, but eventually we began to understand how to support one another while developing a fairly smooth gait by working together. Everyone else in this marathon is a spectator, coach, cheerleader, even companion, but none can be tied to us without hobbling our marriage by throwing off our rhythm or introducing a lack of harmony.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Radical Idea

I cried all the way through our wedding vows. And my nose ran. And I didn't have a tissue. And my maid of honor was all of 16, and she didn't realize I needed a tissue. So the most memorable moment I have from our ceremony was Don making the first of many sacrifices. During the prayer at the end of the vows, he let me wipe my nose on his suit jacket sleeve. (Ew.) To spare me from having great embarrassment before our guests. Except that the wedding video was rolling away to capture the moment forever. Hee.
No wonder that I have little real memory of the whole "in sickness and health", "for richer or poorer", and certainly I missed the "for better or worse" bit. I did catch the "to have and to hold from this day forward", and I was especially enthusiastic about the Mr. kissing his bride whose drippy nose was temporarily relieved. At twenty and twenty-one we were young... and really stupid. Which was good because our stupidity prevented us from giving up on one another and our youth left plenty of time to sort out our marriage.
I read a line in a book yesterday talking about how some kinds of love are "responsive", and I am drawn back through the haze of memory to the first three years of our marriage. Responsive love was exactly what we had signed on for, but neither of us was giving anything good to stimulate the other one on to love in response. Which means we were both miserable, and we each blamed the other. (Yeah, that helped.) I signed up for a group study thinking I would learn how to fix my clearly busted spouse at that point.
Except the other women in the room all seemed different from me. Different from any experience I had with examples of marriage. And the study was not at all what I expected. While I was ready to create my list of What's Wrong With My Husband, and it's sister How He Needs To Change, the ladies and the study all advocated something far more radical. And unappealing. They actually suggested that perhaps Don was not the Problem.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I answer my phone this afternoon to hear some really crazy news. Lisa and her sister Shelley have taken themselves off to our local bargain store. And guess what the two of them have discovered crammed in amongst the what-not littering the shelves in Bargain Basement? Polish pottery! The real deal--- and they would certainly both know exactly what they were seeing! So I hop in the car and race off to Bargain Basement. Oh. My. Goodness. Yay! We gorge our little peepers on all the pretty bits of pottery exclaiming over the fun of finding such treasure in this unexpected place.
I received a beautiful creamer and sugar bowl as a surprise gift a while back after posting my wish to build a coffee and tea service. (And yet people ask why I blog?!) I have since added a matching spoon, but today we found a little tray in the matching pattern to hold the whole lovely set. Shelley, quick with the rationalizing, suggested that the tray was a good buy because it both completed my sugar and creamer set and it was a lovely decorative item for my kitchen.

Calendar Crunch

Birthday, birthday, birthday. Erin's birthday is almost here. Unlike her siblings who would be on some demented Birthday High at at this point, Miss Erin is looking forward to the day we celebrate her, but she is too busy for much self-absorption. She has dancing lessons today, and on Thursday she has two friends coming for dinner, a rehearsal for Children's Choir and a second practice immediately after choir for her role as a shepherd in the grown-up Christmas programming.
Here's where it gets sticky. There are two more rehearsals on Saturday. When we have scheduled a birthday party. While waiting on confirmation, there is hope that Erin is not in either of the sections rehearsing this weekend since both appear to involve primarily the speaking roles for the Children's Choir production. I suspect that Erin would be perfectly fine with racing from rehearsal to birthday party, but her grandparents would probaby like to see her at some point on Saturday rather than racing along with her from one activity to the next. Had Erin's mama made the minimal effort to read the rehearsal schedule prior to last night, then the stress level of possibly squeezing too much stuff into too little time could have been avoided, or at least minimized. Bad Mama.
At least I know that she is a shepherd now. There was confusion created by requests for information from the costume mistress last night for Erin's clothing sizes because I still had not seen the script for Imagine (the show where Erin will serve as one of four shepherds reading Luke 2). The motivation to look back at a previously received message regarding Children's Choir came as I realized that, in addition to not knowing her specific role, I had no earthly idea what my child was doing, where she was committed to be, or when. Uh-oh. Not knowing the role was because the scripts had not been sent to the children yet, but the schedule whoopsie is all on me because that was sent two weeks ago and has even been referred to by two other moms!
The days of the December festival will make for one crazy weekend. Erin will perform not only in the two productions, but her ballet class will likely dance during the intermission. And her Daddy is playing bass in both the adult productions of "Pop Goes Christmas" and "Imagine". Oh, Boy. This is why I needed to not be involved in the organization roles for the intermission performers. I can hardly keep track of two performers--- much less a whole list of them!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Sorry. I worked in an Operating Room for a couple of years. Cuts and bruises don't faze me, but I do apologize for giving others a turn. Not intentional, so much as unthinking. If you have not already read "Multitasking", then the apology will make little sense. The offending photo of Miss Erin's eye injury has been pulled down to avoid causing any unintentional "Ewwww."


Our weekend involved a series of commitments that kept us on the run right up until our youngest caught a frisbee with her left eye during a party--- just as we were preparing to take our leave to head for her school carnival. Instead, we headed for the E.R. where little missy's eye was determined to be undamaged although painful. The M.D. made it glow-in-the-dark which was exciting. She wore shades to church yesterday and to school today because she finds the look of her now full-blown shiner unappealing.
This week will be no more quiet than the last one. We have company coming for the weekend (my parents), the opening of a friend's daughter's play Wednesday evening, a pair of kids visiting Thursday night for dinner before they and Erin go off to choir rehearsal, what may be a full house for a our Second Friday Potluck, and a herd of second grade girls for a birthday party on Saturday, and the baptisms of five children belonging to two families dear to us.
So. While I ought to be doing things to prepare for the craziness of later this week, I am in no mood to do anything because it is a cloudy, somewhat rainy day which makes me want to curl up and sleep despite the household chores that need doing. Which is precisely what I will do while the modern conveniences of the washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher proceed to wash clothes and dishes for me. That is my kind of multi-tasking.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Not Polish

Whoa. Shelley and I had some yummy Polish food at lunch yesterday because the sklep is also a restaurant. Everyone else... mmm. Not so much. Because the results of our hours shopping for ingredients and preparing a really... um, involved meal were not so good. I will spare the details of our thoroughly misguided attempt at preparing pierogis (dumplings) and sernik (Polish cheesecake). Thankfully, we did have kielbasa to salvage the dinner.
Unfortunately, we also had the cheesecake. I was sadly going to forgo eating any of the delicious sounding cheesecake topped with a layer of thinly sliced peaches, meringue, and finished off with a crumb topping. (The operative word in that sentence was "sounding".) Everyone at the table sampled a bite of the treat that oddly resembled scrambled eggs with peaches. Shelley looked thoughtful. Don proceeded to scoop up a bite of the stuff to offer me saying, "You won't be breaking your fast [from sweets] with this..." before putting the single most vile bite of food into my mouth ever created. Holee cow. I can now say that I have eaten something so vile that I spontaneously cried. Wow. Whoo. Oomph. Apparently there are two kinds of "twarog" cheese, and we did not use the right one. Imagine dry cottage cheese with (Oops.) twice the butter called for in a dish that ended up reminiscent of cake batter with cottage cheese, a hint of peaches, and finished off with a highly bitter aftertaste. Oh my, my, my.
I still stand by the company. Despite five hours invested in a meal that I would feel guilty serving the dogs, I can honestly say the day was fun. I am not a Polish cook. My appreciation of good Polish food grows every time I attempt to prepare it. But I would not trade the fun of watching Shelley try to get instructions from three women all speaking rapid-fire Polish as they each weigh in on how much bacon we need for the pierogi filling... only to discern that one of them is underestimating because there are two pounds left in the meat counter--- and she wants one pound. Or watching the girls roll out the dough and cut circles for the dumplings before everyone gathered in the kitchen to begin filling and sealing our little pockets of potato, cheese, and bacon, followed by all three kids anxiously peering into the pot to see if we had any "floaters" that were ready to eat. Or the combination of chagrin and laughter at the discovery that the carefully filled pockets had all stuck together on the plate while waiting for cooking. Any day filled with laughter is okay in my book even if I eat something that literally brings me to tears.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Polish American

Yay! My favorite Polish American or Amercian Pole is home for a bit. Last night Shelley and I met at my favorite coffee shop in Suburbia just to hang out for a bit... and make plans for today's festivities. Today is something of a "Celebrate Poland" day at our house. Shelley learned to make pierogis in Poland. I made some truly bad Zurek (a kind of soup) for our family after returning from Poznan last Spring. Today, the opportunity to make both will be part of our day as Shelley comes to visit. I'll meet Shelley and her Mom to go have lunch and fulfill our specialty shopping list at a Polish grocery (sklep) in a nearby suburb. (The grocery store photo is from a previous grocery trip with Shelley... except it was a Polish grocery that was in Poland rather than Suburbia.) Then Shelley and I will be attempting to duplicate the feat of making pierogis which will be part of our dinner along with what will hopefully be good Zurek.

In addition to Don and I, the kids, and Shelley, Shelley's sister Lisa and Lisa's husband John will complete our dinner party! Hooray! While I am sincerely hopeful that the dinner will be wonderful, I know the companionship will be the best. After our yummy Polish dinner, we will all load up for the drive to the church. Erin is performing tonight (along with her adorable friends from dance class) at the church's monthly artist's gathering where original material is shared. It is awesome that we are all sharing so much with one another tonight from our home, to Shelley's Polish cooking expertise, to John and Lisa's ready laughter, and the children's corny jokes and talent. Whatever we each bring to the evening, it's bound to be memorable. Both my glimpse into Shelley's Polish world and her American world will come together tonight. What's not to love?!

Last night Shelley shared the raw footage of her support-raising video with me. As we watched, it struck me that several talented people were in the building who might share their expertise with her to create a piece that would truly communicate the spiritual need in Poland. We showed the video to our church's generally brilliant programming director Jan who had a couple of helpful comments, but was not really struck by the images that had me turning away from the screen to avoid sobbing. The message was not coming across in the video. First thing this morning, my phone rang. Those images that were not communicating the needed message did stick with Jan. So much so that she was calling with a makeshift verbal storyboard communicating the very real spiritual starvation in Europe. Whoo-Hoo!!! I am hoping that Shelley will be able to communicate why she goes out through the images and words with the addition of Jan's keen mind and eye to the creative process.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Last weekend one of our pastors shared a quote from Calvin Miller, "Love smiles, Hate grins." The words caught my attention and imagination. An hour later, I mentioned to Steve that the quote was extremely appealing. So what was his response? He said, "Have you got a minute?", and when I responded in the affirmative he headed off back down the hall toward his office. Steve returned with a hardback volume in its dust jacket (Oooh, a dust jacket. Around here we still hide those so no one colors or writes on them!) which he extends to me.
This offering is wholly unexpected. I liked the words he spoke earlier, but I am already not moving along at the pace intended in my reading or an internet learning series I have committed to following. Despite the internal voice accusing me of being too busy to read something else right now, my hand is outstretched to reach for the slim book proffered by this man who is wiser than I, but for whom I have yet to see my admiration diminish--- a rare thing in a world needing grace and often characterized by disappointment. Perhaps some measure of the brilliance will be reflected if I read the words contained in the book proffered? Light reflected still illuminates.
And what words. The book waited with a small sense of accusation for a day or two before I creased the cover to begin the adventure it promised. In addition to Steve's comparison of Calvin Miller to C.S. Lewis, the book jacket contained praise for Miller saying, " in the tradition of Milton's Paradise Lost and J.R.R. Tolkien's "Ring Trilogy."" Really?
Really. And how. A Requiem For Love by Calvin Miller is genuinely a must-read. The description of Worship in the second chapter is stunning and the third chapter describes the oh-so-human need for touch and companionship despite an undiminished love for man's Creator with clarity and yet simplicity. Thus far, the book can be characterized as a sweet, sweet song. A song that remains with the hearer well after the notes fade. Oh, my.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


In amongst the mail was a journal. Since it had a high-heeled shoe printed on the front and swirly pattern decorating the interior pages along with the phrase "Walk By Faith" across the cover, Don assumed it was intended for me. (Could've been for one of the girls, but... Nah.) I have no idea where it originated, but if the giver was a reader, then consider yourself thanked. We had a ball speculating on the journal's origin, but eventually gave up since whomever it was clearly wanted anonymity.
Just yesterday a dear friend asked me when I am going to get around to writing that book that is in me somewhere. She also asked if I journal, to which I replied that "I blog." The blogging actually came out of the same friend's encouragement to write. Which was followed by the cheerleading of several friends who were amused by my tales of "Whoa!" and dismay regarding the fat chick who haunted my mirror after Evan was born and the rebellious jeans that no longer came up over my child-bearing hips. There is an ordered mind required to write with purpose, and I find my disordered life likely indicative of a disordered mind. (Several specific disorders come immediately to mind.) Perhaps there is a book in there somewhere waiting to emerge from the chrysalis into lines of characters that march across page after page.
Or perhaps the testimony is not to be found in my beloved words. Perhaps there is nothing so finely crafted as the life I have been given. And nearly lost again and again because this body does not work quite as it ought to sometimes leading me to questions without answers and pain without release. Because I am not done. But that wee book has captured my curiosity about words and how they can be cobbled together into whatever tale is there to be told.

Tender Ignition

I'm thinking of more than one meaning. Legal tender as in what sort of currency or barter can one utilize in the exchange of goods and services. Or the verb indicative of offering something like tendering one's resignation. I'm also thinking squooshy. (Mmmm. Squooshy.) My heart needs to be squooshy; otherwise, I will cease to feel and care.
That means I am open to hurt. I tender the risks of pain and sorrow out of hope for love. What all will be placed in this offering? Name it. Hopes, dreams, disappointments, wonder, defeat, sacrifice, time, money, thoughts, hurts, joys, desires, words, but, most of all, want will be placed on the altar. I tender my heart because it must be tender or it becomes hard. What I want will be in submission to what I hope. And rather than a cold, hard heart, I will burn with the all-consuming fire that refines.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go Out, Send Me

It's likely to be a wild day at my usual Tuesday morning coffee date. There is a difference that makes today a not-so-usual Tuesday aside from the U.S. elections. I sort of invited a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses in to visit at a friend's house a couple of weeks ago, but then I had to leave. And I had an infusion last week which kept me at home causing the hostess to push back the planned visit. So we are having coffee with a pair of very nice JWs who wish to convert a batch of Christian women. Ought to be interesting.
I do not consider the visitors to be presumptuous. I am interested in hearing what they believe, and it will be held up to Scripture for testing. I do admire that the JWs go out and take the likely uncomfortable step of knocking on strange doors to share their beliefs even though I probably do not agree with them. Yes, having heard comments and arguments about "shoving religion down the throats" of those either uninterested or otherwise believing people, I am aware that witnessing or sharing one's faith is unpopular in our culture. It's considered largely intolerant. And yet. I say that I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for my sins so that I could regain communion with God the Creator of the Universe and not endure eternal torment. If I truly believe this, and I say that I care about someone, how could I possibly consider their "comfort zone" or their desire for "tolerance of other beliefs" more important than their souls?!
The ladies in the photo are not unlike the JWs we will meet with today in their desire to reach out and share their faith. All three inspire and ignite me by simply living their lives. To Krista and Shelley who say both "I'll Go" and "Send Me" and to Janene who ministers closer to home, but in ways no less powerful, I can look for examples of whose I am.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Same, Only Different

"One of these things is not like the other. One of these things is not quite the same." That was a lyric from a song that played on one of the kiddies' Sesame St. videos as an accompaniment to an activity intended to teach "different" and "same" by showing similar pictures side by side. The song pops into my head from time to time when struck by images and situations where it is inappropriate to sing it out loud.
This photo of two 13 year-old boys bowling, one of whom is our son and the other is a friend's son, definitely has me humming my inappropriate little song. It was hugely encouraging to hear from the parents of the other young man that some of the issues we deal with are not related to Evan's diagnosed conditions, but are simply results of being a thirteen year-old guy. It was even better not to be told what we "ought" to be doing to parent him. While the differences between our son and the other young man were glaring, the similarities were comforting because they offer demonstrable proof that we are not so far off the beaten path despite the sometime feeling of wandering in the wilderness while trying to parent Evan. The constant struggle to guide the Boy toward increasing independence without pushing him out of the nest prematurely and simultaneously trying to protect him from the perceptions of others leaves me tired.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Yesterday I cried. I cried because one of our older neighbors shared a celebratory moment with us. Well, she shared the news of the birth of her first grandson with "Kelly" and "James". Somehow a couple of our neighbors have mistaken mine and Don's names for others at various points in time, but too much time has passed to correct the errors without potentially having the neighbors feel foolish. And we are not really that concerned about whether or not these sweet people know our names. It gives a certain anonymity to the ways in which we are able to serve them by listening, mowing their lawns, carpooling on occasion... generally whatever is needed.

In much the same way that that Grandma told us of her good news, other neighbors have told of frustration and fears due to health challenges, financial crisis, difficulty with relationships, and assorted other uh-ohs. How human to need to share the joys, burdens, and day-to-day what-not of our lives with another. My tears were due to my sadness that so many people seem to have few close personal relationships which meet this need to share. So I care. I watch for the eyes that seem to be communicating more than "Hi!", or for the pause at the end of "Fine" as a response to "How are you?" that means there are many more words that can follow the expected response if I will make the time to listen and care. How precious are those moments when we are able to say without words, just by listening, that someone is precious and that what matters to them matters to someone else.
Today, I am thankful for "Kelly" and "James". I hope they will become ever more present.