Thursday, January 29, 2009

By Degrees

That is not a smiley face. No. It is a COLD face. See the white world behind me? It is not pleasant. No. While, it's nothing compared to Canada, Wisconsin, Poland, or Arkansas today--- it is too cold to suit this Texas native. Especially since I was out walking around in the cold at the mercy of my dogs' digestive systems while they happily wandered along sniffing the intriguing frozen ground. Yesterday was a little more fun because we discovered that a 90 lb. lab can pull a mother of three down an icy street in a manner reminiscent of water skiing to the hysterical delight of watching children.
Feeling particularly pitiful with my red, frozen feet and hands (despite layered gloves and socks) after this morning's walk, the weather on the net held a special sort of appeal. Reading that some communities face an extended time with no power, there was a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips for our fully functional heating system and appliances. (I could beat laundry against a rock in the creek/drainage ditch to get them clean, but the coffee maker is kind of a needful thing.) My Dad chose precisely that moment to call from his car. Because he is in the northern mountains of Arkansas. His temperature is a few degrees higher than ours, but he and Mother have been without power for heat, cooking, or light since Tuesday. Sitting in the car with the engine running allowed for a source of warmth, and gave him the chance to charge his dead cell phone. I asked if they could come south to enjoy the modern conveniences, but they are essentially trapped by the ice and downed trees.
I will never, ever willingly live in the woods in the mountains. I also know better than to proclaim that particular thought out loud while my parents shiver in their home heating water in a fish fryer to make instant oatmeal this morning. (Before the image becomes too dire, they do have a fire going and an apparently endless supply of downed trees.) Here's hoping that power will be restored to those experiencing outages sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sleepy Head

10:16 p.m. - A phone call states schools will delay opening for two hours. Woo-Hoo! We're all sleeping in tomorrow!
11:00 p.m. - The trash bins get dragged out just in case the trash trucks somehow manage to hit the streets before my feet hit the floor. The Duggars are on t.v. with their seventeen kids smiling and sweet. I am washing one more load of laundry and thanking God that I only have three kids' worth of towels. And that my lovies have finally fallen asleep despite the excitement of a possible day of freedom tomorrow.
11:52 p.m. - The blankets and pillows refuse to perfectly accomadate rest. There is a mister-shaped space in the bed, and I am cold. There's no real rush to sleep because quick calculations indicate there's no need to begin waking kids prior to 8:00.
4:40 a.m. - The mister's alarm begins to beep in an ever more insistent manner because he is not here to hush the thing.
5:40 a.m. - The dog's stomach is growling loud enough to cause the cat distress. (Her love may or may not be loud, but her distress has volume switch that goes to eleven.) Looking at the clock, it seems reasonable to roll back over and try for a bit more sleep while ignoring the four-footed fleabags. (Okay, they don't have fleas, but it is prior to six a.m. and there was sleeping in planned.)
6:00 a.m. - The phone rings. School will open so late today that it will be tomorrow. Since I am already out of the cocoon of warmth made up by assorted quilts and pillows, it seems that the time to make coffee has arrived. And then another attempt at going back to bed where the dog's stomach growls still louder.
6:15 a.m. - I am growling as once again the covers are thrown back. With a cup of coffee in one hand and the dog food scoop in the other, the night's fast begins to break. While the hairballs inhale their breakfast, a batch of cinnamon rolls go in the oven. The dogs and I slide around on the porch and sidewalk so they can mince around the yard in the cold and predawn dark which clearly indicates that we should all be asleep.
7:58 The world is generally better now that the second cup of coffee is beginning to take effect. The cinnamon roll didn't hurt anything either. The Boy crawled out of bed excited about snow only to hear it was ice, and go back to bed. The girls are still zonked out, and I am thinking it is time to go crawl back into bed for just a little while.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Ah, the irony. A couple of weeks ago, there was a bit of celebration over a little alone time thanks to the mister's first business trip in Erin's lifetime. That was cancelled. This week saw another trip scheduled. I did not get terribly worked up about the potential for a little solo time until Sunday when it began to seem like a serious possibility. And the mister's flight took off this morning just after eight. All was going according to plan.
Except the seven weeks in a row of fewer than five days in school just became eight. For the first time in our almost eleven years with Suburban ISD, the school had an Early Release Day announced via e-mail and phone calls. A late start to tomorrow looks likely as temperatures remain below freezing going into the evening.
Rather than disappointment over the lost time to myself, the afternoon with the kids has been a good chance to talk about the sorts of inconsequential things that sometimes reveal deeper insight into one's offspring. Instead of the usual school day busyness, we have cruised sea life web sites and videos hunting Katie's subject for a Science report and gone for a walk to investigate whether or not there was really ice outside. (There wasn't. There likely will be.) It's been an entirely enjoyable afternoon.

*Paper bomb update: I conveniently spilled coffee all over my desk this morning. That was highly motivating. All the affected papers have been dealt with...


The work will make you free. These words pierce my heart and mind as few others can. With a stomach in knots, uncertain whether or not the spiritual and emotional upheaval to come would be more than I could stand, I walked beneath these very words months ago. Words echoing from cacophony into whisper in the recesses of the mind with a single word of accusation: "lie". These very words greeted those who entered the gates at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps like them in the bleak world of Nazi-occupied Europe.
A feeling of intense weight pressing one into the gravel-covered road necessitated an ordered and almost processional pace for entry into Auschwitz. Even gravity recognized the oppression of the place despite its neat exterior more closely resembling a scout camp than a death camp. The lie in the words overhead as we crossed into Auschwitz screamed out still louder across decades with recognition of the spaces between the fences stretching out away from the gates--- a killing ground extended between guard houses marked by twin sets of barbed wire and an expanse of cleared ground. The line of demarcation between Freedom and masses of people judged to be less than human. A line between darkness and light incarnate.
Within the structures inside those gates are memorials of every kind from extraordinary altars of candlelight and flowers offering appeasement for lost souls to the innumerable piles of the ordinary including items from shoes and eyeglasses to infant clothing. The mundane items that speak of the feet which were ever only intended to walk in through those gates, the eyes which were not intended to record the realities of the camps' interiors, and of ruthlessness and loss. Art, history, fiction, and memory have sought to somehow make sense of the lives both lived and lost within of Auschwitz-Birkenau's barbed embrace. The camp's remains house words, art, and photos documenting those who refused to give in to the horrors and those who could not help being swept away, and an endless line of those who would bear witness to the mute testimony walk the halls. This is not a place for forgetting.

Monday, January 26, 2009

i heart faces wk 3 "Joy"

Photography site i heart faces is featuring joy as the theme for photos that capture faces this week.

joy 1 a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seeking Distraction

Hmmm. How to continue to avoid the ever more obvious need to clean out and clear up the mountains o' paper currently inhabiting my desk? This weekend's shampooing, comb-outs, and mass hot water laundering and disinfecting have been an ideal distraction from the need to shred, toss, follow-up on, and file. (It's the "follow-up" pile that gets a girl into trouble. Who needs a whole new to-do list?!) Dusting blinds or ceiling fans could be moved up to the head of "Stuff To Do To Avoid The Desk". That could buy another couple of hours of avoidance. Perhaps cleaning out the horror show of the hall closet would eat another hour or two? There's a boy in the house, so the bathroom certainly needs scrubbing. That would bring the clock up to the crossroads of get ready for the coming week and make dinner.
Eventually, I will have to confront the piles of paper. That, or be shoveled out from under them when one eventually topples and buries me at the computer. While procrastination has been an ideal way to keep from accomplishing an unpleasant task, the time has come to sort and clear since adding a dozen or so sheets while clearing three or four per day has resulted in the current backlog. Alright already. I'll get right on that... after church. Or after lunch. Unless I am doing something (anything) else.
Hours later...
Score! Clearly today was not the day for all that yucky paper jockeying. No, no, no. Following our attendance at the latest possible church service, there was a surprising turn of events which totally precluded (Woo-Hoo!) my dusting, potty cleaning, or paper shuffling. All three children had invites to go elsewhere. Elsewhere as in somewhere else where the mister and I were not. Even as thoughts of lunch danced in my head, one of the mothers carrying away part of the home brood intimated that a nap might be in order for the unexpectedly childless hours on this prime Sunday afternoon. (She did not have to listen to my stomach growl throughout the service like the mister, but she does know of my often unfulfilled penchant for naps.) Instead we had a surprise date--- lunch out sans the lovies. Good food, uninterrupted conversation about inconsequential things, and the oh-happy-day fun of staring at the mister is SO much better than jumping on chores I'd rather ignore. Definitely calls for at least a second Woo-Hoo!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

Hopefully, it's not simply a trick of the eye. There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and one may hope it is not a train. The insurance people called back yesterday (only been trying to straighten out uh-ohs with medical claims since April, '08), and after a meeting on Monday there may finally be an end to the dispute with my "very unique circumstances". In other words, the insurance company may actually notify the providers who are clamoring at my mailbox for payment following services rendered that the funds are not due from personal coffers, but from almighty Insurance Company's purse instead. Better still, the insurance company might release funds according to the contract which was entered into in good faith by the medical personnel and our family through the Mother Ship Company's benefits enrollment. Yes, one can hope.

Friday, January 23, 2009


This morning a rash was creeping down Youngest Child's neck. The need to take her in to have the bumps checked out by an actual doctor pushed the plan to meet a friend at a local hibachi restaurant for lunch right out of my head. In fact, at the time when I could have been seated and perusing the munchings and crunchings, I was standing in a doctor's office trying to get new insurance information straightened out. When the, "Where are you?" phone call came, it took a moment to figure out just where it was she thought I ought to be. I asked if she was willing to wait on me as the potential bright spot in a less-than-pleasant morning dawned. There was still hope for a yummy lunch in good company and labeling the wee red spots on my daughter's head.
Erin was seen in the office after our initial delay in trying to be sure the practice was paid for our visit. Sure enough, symptoms that sounded like an allergic rash to me and our pediatrician did not look like a classic contact dermatitis. As the doctor moved Erin's hair around to better examine both sides of the munchkin's neck, she uttered a sound somewhere between, "Ooohhh" and "Oomph". She then informed me that she knew the origin of Miss Erin's rash. Erin did not go back to school. I called my lunch date to beg off. And Erin and I drove over to the middle school.To ask that Evan and Katie be pulled out of class and checked for lice.

I believe the word I was searching for was along the lines of, "Crap". And once Katie's head was found to be similarly infested, "Craptacular". Evan went back to class, but my girls with their "social condition" (A big, insincere, "Thank you!" goes to the state department of health for determining that head lice are simply a social condition rather than a health condition warranting removal from the public school classroom.) were driven back home to await delousing. After three pharmacies, the prescribed fumigator scrip was filled and picked up. It was applied to this year's deductible and both girls' heads. The house smells like Pine-sol and turpentine. Bleah.

Tonight at bedtime I will be sitting with a long-toothed, stainless-steel comb nitpicking while the washer and dryer continue to run non-stop hot water washes on every bit of fabric the girls have so much as looked at in the past two days.

Notable Quote

Flabbergasted. That is the word. The only possible word that comes to mind after reading the story containing this quote, "I don't think we will live the same way for 10 years," says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of New York-based retail consultant and investment bank Davidowitz & Associates. "People are so scared they're starting to save." Seriously.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Woulda, Couldn't, Shoulda

Uh-oh. The Eighth graders from Suburban Middle School are headed for the Holocaust Museum today. Our plan for today's field trip had been for Mom to go along with Evan to the museum, and then join the classes for lunch at a local pizza place afterward. One of us is going on the field trip. The other sits at the computer keyboard following a flurry of phone calls and e-mails with the school office and the trip organizer.
Last night, just at bedtime, the mister asked if there was a background check on file for me. This was a headache with roots at the start of the school year because I needed to be on campus to take yearbook photos of some events. To be on campus, one must submit to the requisite background check. The background check should be completed on-line, and parents ought not to bother school officials with such issues. Except the automated system claims that this Mama has a password. (And I do have several. None of which was the one the system had in mind.) Head Yearbook Mom suggested e-mailing Administration because the system had her listed under some bizarre user name which prevented her from completing her background check until some flesh-and-blood human being intervened with the all-powerful system. My messages to Administration were never answered, and eventually the inability to resolve the issue ended in the determination that there was a little too much energy required in preparing to be on campus as a volunteer.
Until today. When the boy is scheduled for a class field trip which he expects Mom to be able to attend. Whoops. Guess it's back to fighting the system. *sigh*

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

1000 words or so

Katie's recuperation meant needing to be here. Which meant plenty of unoccupied-but-can't-go-anywhere time for her Mama. (Okay, I took the little one to the dentist, and I skipped out for forty-five minutes to have coffee with a friend during that time. Katie's Daddy rocks.) To fill those hours, one would expect there to have been reams written. Nope. And the house is not noticeably cleaner either. Those many hours went into learning to use the scanner. And then unearthing and scanning an assortment of old photos that predated our digital cameras.

For the most part the task was one that involved quite a bit of laughing. Except for a single dusty cardboard box buried in the back of the cabinet that doubles as Mama's desk. Having suspected the box contained photos, this seemed a likely time to rummage around in said box. When compiling a reasonable photographic overview of all three children's lives, it just would not do to miss a major stage or precious moment. Inside that box were in fact the photos taken over our youngest daughter's first Christmas.

Pictures that caused my eyes to well, and my heart to climb into my throat. Pictures of our very small daughter hooked up to an assortment of very large machines. Her first, and only, picture with Santa was taken as he stood beside the incubator at Children's Hospital carefully touching nothing to avoid the contagion of our month-old infant's RSV. Her tiny, perfect head is covered with tape securing an I.V. that eventually left her with a mullet after the tape pulled out her fine, sweet baby hair. Her first Christmas and New Year's were celebrated in a series of hallmarks from weaning her off the ventilator to determining whether or not she still had an undisturbed sucking reflex after relying on the feeding tube.

Those days that taught me about a different sort of sleepless night with a newborn have not lost their poignancy over the eight years since we brought our baby home again. The simplest joy of touching our child was denied in those days, and we could only gather her close in every detail through blood-shot eyes. Except at 3:00 a.m., when the night shift nurse would break every protocol to salvage my heart by allowing an exhausted mother to bathe the child so recently tied to her in every way. The slight resistance of lifting the little one's decreasing weight as our chubby 12-pound girl swiftly wasted to a slight eight pounds was reassuring because it meant she was real despite the frighteningly still, doll-like appearance in her sedation.
Today, touch remains somewhat elusive as this bright, capering person dances close only to duck away. Those photographs fail to tell the tale that would require far more than a thousand words to capture. And that which remains to be written as that slight infant continues to blossom into our clowning, curious, youngest child.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today there is not enough coffee in all of Costa Rica and Columbia combined to meet my need. The day started with a little light reading and some serious thinking because the Genesis study kicked off yesterday. Realizing the time means dropping that to race off for cash to send to school so I can go with Evan's class on a field trip this week. Only to have a ridiculous discussion with the Boy about why I am going along with him to the Holocaust Museum while driving him to school. The end result was that he is just curious, but actually wants Mom along. There was no point to the line of questioning. Argh.
Middle child is staying home because she was in tears again last night over her mouth, and it seemed better to not awaken her this morning beyond poking her to see if she said "ouch". Hopefully, this emerging woman-child who has reverted to strictly child in her pain will be able to tolerate her discomfort with the help of rest and a constant stream of ibuprofen. If not, there will be more tears about which little can be done but coach her to relax and wait out the pain.

The return home from driving the Boy finds youngest daughter perched at the kitchen table with hair that would have been perfect were she auditioning for an 80's hair band, still wearing her jammies, and contemplating an unopened bag of breakfast cereal. She is unhappy because she wants to pour the cereal through a small hole in the box, but she cannot figure out how. Now seems the prudent time to empty 2/3 of the bag into a storage bin. Five minutes later she agrees not to attempt this feat and finally starts to eat her breakfast.

A stop to e-mail schools because one kid is staying home, and the little one will only be in class for half an hour before being picked up to go back to the dentist brings on some less-than-happy thoughts. Erin needs a crown because somehow the enamel on her molars did not form properly. (Huh? This is the moment when a mom can be thankful for the assorted developmental delays that mean we're unlikely to see the 12-year molars before she can drive.) If one was counting: that's three cleanings, one filling, a set of sealants, two supposedly minor oral surgical procedures, and now a crown between the three children in seven days.
No wonder I am grinding my teeth at night.

Monday, January 19, 2009

i heart faces wk 2


Okie-dokie, then. Miss Katie now has a thoroughly numbed mouth full of gauze. Not a look which she is particularly thrilled about, and not one which will be photographed. She will take it easy today lounging on the couch eating pudding, yogurt, and ice cream. Tomorrow she can return to school, but the missy needs to take a pass on some of her regular activities. (Like the P.E. class playing dodge ball this week. Because that just would not end well.) Next week we'll head back over to the periodontist's office to let him recheck her mouth, the stitches will dissolve on their own, and the teeny grafts will give our eleven year old, ahem, loose lips.
Uh-oh. The missy is no longer numb. I'm off to pick up her prescription in hopes of keeping her relatively comfortable. If her current state is any indicator, she may need to be home tomorrow after all. The child does not have a high threshold for pain. She is likely to be an unhappy camper now that she can feel the trauma inflicted on her. So much for "okie-dokie", and hello "uh-oh".

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dog's Dinner

The mister and I made the big, hairy grocery run for the week. We planned out meals for the majority of the week, and knocked out the shopping so that the necessary foodstuffs were on-hand for those meals. Except for one last item which was on sale at another store. We delivered the groceries, and headed off for our final purchase with the kids in tow. Relieved to have the shopping completed, we headed home again.
In a surreal moment, we slammed on our brakes to allow a chihuahua carrying a slice of pizza to cross the street. (I kid you not.) Only to arrive at home moments later where we found a certain pair of labs had made a dog's dinner of our preparedness plan. While we were out, the dogs helped themselves to the hamburger and hot dog buns intended for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's lunch. *sigh*
The hamburger buns must be replaced because they were for Katie's favorite meal on the evening before her oral surgery... and the advent of squishy foods for a couple of days as she heals. Hopefully, "three's the charm"...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hair Shirt

Suffering is a natural state in a fallen world that will be inflicted--- not one to seek out. This is a fundamental difference in some believers. Those who put on a figurative hair shirt to display or develop their holiness by being set apart through suffering and misery by choice miss the fundamental beauty of Christ. He did not seek suffering. He met it when it came for Him, but He did not seek it out. If I jump off a ten story building for Jesus, I have given Him no glory despite either a whole lotta pain or the sacrifice of my life. If I accept the gifts and the trials that come with all rejoicing, then I am a pale reflection of Glory. And in the rejoicing, slowly the mind of Christ will be revealed.

Friday, January 16, 2009


This morning I turned on the computer. Where a message from our bank normally indicates that a direct deposit has been received, today there was only spam. The mister calls in to the Mother Ship's HR department to try to discover why he was not paid for his very last pay period. They were "experiencing unexpectedly high call volumes... please hold". (Go figure.) He hears that the company was waiting for a bankruptcy court to okay the release of funds necessary to meet payroll. The understandably gloomy HR rep relates to Don that the funds should be available by a certain time this evening.
Wondering if this evening will fall before or after the bank's funds availability cut-off time, I hop into the chat window with a friendly banking representative named "Sean". "Sean" cannot answer my questions about whether or not the proposed time by which we should have the deposit will be sufficient to meet our scheduled bill pay commitments. "Sean" does inform me that he is "wishing all to be well with your accounts". Because that's helpful.
I eventually just gave up on both the Mother Ship and Sean.
The simplest solution was to make a transfer from savings. The bank will make that transfer for me automatically should the need actually arise, but they will also charge an assortment of fees for their "help". The whole situation is more frustrating than truly scary. (For which I am infinitely thankful.) Because we are not dependent on the Mother Ship to keep us afloat for more than this one last week. I just hope there are enough life boats for all those still cruising aboard the Mother Ship. Feeling a bit of "survivor's guilt" today even as I contemplate the provision of God for our family.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Missed one. And it's a doozy. Middle child had speech therapy in her Pre-K years, and she was finished with such things by the time she set foot in a kindergarten classroom. Even though her speech therapy was provided through our school district, her records do not necessarily reflect the past therapy. (It's astounding the sorts of things that don't make it into the mythological comprehensive "permanent record".) On beginning the wonders of orthodontic treatment, we were told that the same structural issues that caused Kate's speech difficulties were adding to the orthodontic uh-ohs with her teeth and jaw. Since the appliance and braces are coming off in the first week of February, it is time to correct the structural trouble spots with some minor surgery on Monday. While she waits for the stitches to dissolve and her mouth to heal, there will be no horn playing, and her mouth will likely hurt. This is the first reason we have had to mention the irregularity since Katie entered middle school.

When she tried out band instruments, the french horn was clearly the one for her so we signed on for Katie to join the beginner band and started private lessons as well. (Without ever mentioning that she had speech or structural issues. It never even blipped on my radar that this topic might fall under the heading "New They Could Use".) Last night the horn lesson instructor phoned. We talked about the Solo and Ensemble contest coming up in the next couple of weeks and how Katie might be encouraged to practice more in preparation. It clicked that he would need to know that she cannot practice through at least half of next week, and that she may need to miss her lesson, too. As I explained what she was having done and why, he suddenly had one of those light bulb moments. My little light bulb was still dark. Until he reached over to flip my switch by mentioning that Katie's articulation difficulties--- and him riding her over the incorrect articulation, were caused by the same teensy little flaps of skin causing her speech difficulties with, ahem, articulation. *groan*

While I am not beating myself up, I am disgruntled that our daughter has been dealing with feelings of inadequacy and frustration that could have been mitigated had it been communicated that the same issue that affected her speech and the set of her jaw and teeth would also likely affect the way she plays a horn. Hopefully, the surgery will see an end to these issues once and for all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Don has wondered for years how much longer his former employer could remain solvent with a business plan made up of continually cutting costs without increasing revenues. He finished up his last day with his employer of ten years last Friday. Sure enough, according to news headlines the Mother Ship filed for bankruptcy today. (Talk about timing!) While that does not necessarily have an immediate impact on the employees, it means morale likely dropped to new lows. Perhaps she will emerge in the wake of the filing with a fresh infusion of buoyancy, but the horizon looks bleak for now.
On the home front, New Job began on Monday, and we are trying to find a sense of how our routines need to adjust. Not just tweaking the schedule, but a general reorganization is in the works around here. This week is something of a trial run with odd extras thrown in like waiting for the Fed Ex deliveries of the assorted tools for the mister's home office, orientation, and devising a schedule that allows for both 2nd Job and New Job to each have the attention needed.
In the midst of all of this adjustment, I am trying to determine the butterfly effect on the rest of the household. For the moment all I can do is wait, adjust daily in small increments, and seek the smoothest possible transition for the household. The path of least disruption is generally the key to keeping the Boy from going into a spin.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sea Monkeys

Oh, brother. Once my eyes rolled down out of the back of my head, I could hardly wait to read the story showcasing the latest remarkable act by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Since people just love puppies and kittens, the brain trust has come up with their latest plan to save the critters. This time around, they are not flinging paint on fur-clad actresses, setting the caged bunnies loose in the wild, or photographing naked models (who will, ahem, later be busted wearing once-live pelts...). The organization is... oh.... here come the giggles again... and I say this with an almost straight face: PETA is "rebranding" fish. As "sea kittens". I think the people over at PETA may actually be descended from monkeys. It really is the only logical explanation.

Out of Sorts

This is not shaping up to be a fun week. The kids have exams, and I am pretty sure no one has really bothered to study. Which may mean they already know the material. Seriously. Both the big ones made the honor roll for the last grading period, and there was little studying at home then, too. Here's hoping.
On the subject of kids, school, and schedules, I am curious about the people who dream up our district's school calendar. After a Christmas break that covered a span of weeks, the kids went back on the first Monday in January. And they had a half day out last Friday. They are out all day this Friday, too. There are no classes on Monday either. (If I were the employer of a Pleasant Suburb ISD student's parent, I might be feeling a bit incredulous as to the veracity of my employee's need to be off work for two weeks followed by three four day work weeks. It sounds a little fishy. Yet, this is precisely what the geniuses at PSISD have done.) To top it all off, there was that little bad weather day the week before the break. That makes two weeks of no school and four weeks with the kiddies only in school four days a week.
Which means they are home making messes and arguing with one another three days a week. And eating every scrap of food in the house. (I'm no longer certain whether we are housing locusts or children here.) But it is only three days so we don't quite get back on a recognizable schedule. Some of them think lunch time is ten a.m. thanks to the district's wonky lunch schedule while others wait until one p.m. The moody tween and teen are doubly grumpy because they keep vacillating between "get up early" and "sleep in" routines every few days. (At 11 and 13, the logic of getting up at the same time every day just sounds dumb to them.) The little one is grumpy because the big ones keep messin' with her... and because they are cool. She wants to be like them. Argh.

Monday, January 12, 2009

i heart faces wk 1

i heart faces is a photography blog for sharing photos of (What else?!) faces. They currently have two categories: kids and adults, but pets are coming soon...


The second 2nd Friday was all sorts of fun. Not too far from my imaginings, there was something of a crush in the kitchen. The solution to everyone gathering in the kitchen is apparently to invite more people than can fit in one's kitchen. This encourages the claustrophobic folk to spread out into the wider open spaces to be found elsewhere in the house. Very much as hoped for and imagined, there were interesting and appealing people in any direction one turned. The quality of hostess conversation was periodically sacrificed to the need to track down more forks, additional coffee cups, and similar tasks, but what fun to have a house just full of people to serve!
I am already looking forward to the next shindig. We have officially grown from the "gathering" to the "shindig". There is, alas, not sufficient space indoors here to allow for the mother-of-all parties: the "hootenanny". That edition of 2nd Friday will have to either wait for Spring and an outdoor location or the volunteering of a larger space in which to gather.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Erin used to just be out-of-the-box, but these days we joke that she has crumpled up the box and kicked it off into a forgotten corner leaving her to wonder, "Box? What box?!" Her confidence allows a viewpoint that often strays far outside the norm. She is intriguing in her lack of predictability and yet her very preference for a certain order. Her perspective, observations, and questions tend to set the wheels of one's mind and imagination spinning, unless they just stop a Mama dead in her tracks, of course.
The mister and I were talking about Erin's World yesterday. She is different from most kids her age living in our suburban bubble. Her daddy has only ever worked for the same company until today. She has always shared a room in the same house, on the same street, in the same neighborhood, in the same town where she was born. She attends second grade in the elementary school where both her middle school siblings attended kindergarten. With Daddy working from home, and Mommy "staying" at home she has the benefit of two at-home parents. Since everything in her life is generally static, it surprises me that Erin herself is so not. I wonder if the constancy in her day-to-day enables her freedom of thought and flights of fancy?

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Oh, yuck. I cooked three packages of bacon. The house is super stinky in a heavy, greasy way. Ew. At least it was done today so there is a full 24 hours+ for the air to resume its normal state. Having washed all the linens in the house night before last, there was yelling for the mister to "Shut all the bedroom doors!!!" as the realization of the probability for bacon scent permeation occurred. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. That said, the so-called salad that involves the bacon is seriously yummy (as long as there's not a cholesterol or triglycerides check in one's near future). Due to proximity to the kitchen, all the living room toss pillows and throws are washing to get rid of the bacon stank. Just in case bacon scent is not anathema at your house, here is the recipe for the dish:

7-Layer Salad

3 Cups Torn Romaine Lettuce
Salt, Pepper, Sugar
1 ½ Cups shredded Swiss cheese (6 oz)
4 Hard Cooked Eggs, chopped or sliced
½ pound bacon cooked crisp and crumbled (10 or 11 slices)
3 Cups Torn Leaf Lettuce
1 10oz package frozen peas thawed (2 cups)
1 Cup mayonnaise
2 T sliced green onion tops
Place romaine in bottom of large, narrow, deep bowl; sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar. Top with 1 Cup of Swiss cheese. Layer sliced or chopped eggs atop cheese, standing some slices on edge, if desired. Sprinkle with salt. Next layer in order half of the bacon, the leaf lettuce and the peas. Repeat. Spread mayo over top, sealing to edge of bowl. Cover tightly and chill 24 hours. May garnish with cheese, bacon and thinly slice green onion. Toss just before serving. Serves 10 to 12.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Standing Room

Since all is in a semi-chaotic state around the house, we have thirty or so people confirmed (plus our five and the maybes and probablies) coming to dinner Friday. And the kids are out of school for half of that day. This seems to be essentially right according to the vast, strange order of the universe, and I cannot wait. Except I will have to wait because the e-vites said "Friday" instead of "Now!" Don is concerned about fitting all those peeps into our house, but I think it will be better than fine. It sounds like all kinds of fun to be literally surrounded by people we love. It might be wise to ask a couple of them to bring along extra chairs though.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Exactly what I was thinking. (Erin was about three when this was taken, and she hates this picture. I happen to love it.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Unexpected Benefit

Crazy days. Since the mister is still employed by the Mother Ship this week, we have the opportunity to use benefits scheduled for a new year. Bonus. This was wholly unanticipated because we expected an offer that would see a transition at the first of the year from the Mother Ship so that we started 2009 with all new insurance coverage and possibly some new care providers. Instead, we have the boon of two weeks, possibly four in which we pay into the Mother Ship's benefit pool and extend coverage into a new plan year. The race is on to utilize a share of the vision, dental, and orthodontic benefits while hopefully not incurring any of the deductible that would go with making use of any medical benefits over the next days to be sure of staying within the employment and coverage period. Because of the semi-surprise of paying for and extending our coverage, it's a rush to squeeze in appointments (rather than wasting our premium payments) with the orthodontist for a minor procedure, the dentists for fillings, and the eye doc for exams and replacement glasses.
I suspect the hurry will end up being well worth it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Things Heard

The Mister took the Boy for lunch at a "quick service" spot. (Ew.) Then the pair headed off to clean out Don's desk at the Mother Ship. His last day with the company where he has toiled for the past decade arrives soon, and he did not want to cart a box o' stuff home when he goes in for his exit activities. We will celebrate the end of this era by resuming the 2nd Friday Potluck after its holiday hiatus in December.
Since the guys were off to do their stuff without any female companionship, it seemed like a good opportunity for a Girlie Day Out. Into the Mom-mobile and down the road for Erin, Kate, and I. We pulled in to pick up lunch at a deli before choosing to cruise the clearance bins at a handful of retailers. The girls talked non-stop. As in, "without cease". After four hours, Katie came up for air declaring, "Wow! I am really talking a lot today!" Uh-huh. True of both girls, and proof of how needed this time and attention was for each of them.
Not that there were not attempts made, or that they did not receive a share of negative attention. Case in point, the gingerbread sanatorium of '08, which ended well enough with the munching and crunching of gingerbread. Still, the Mister and I thought perhaps we should try to divide and conquer our kids' needs so we could avoid calling a halt on their fun due to the still oppressive arguing. Because that "quality time" thing tends to happen somewhere in the midst of "quantity time".
While the girls talked, and talked, and talked something rare was occurring elsewhere. The Boy actually came unplugged and had his nose out of a book long enough to talk to Don. Whoo-Hoo! Teen Boy and Dad bonding that does not involve any sort of scout commitment, the great outdoors, or athletics--- who knew that was even possible?! Evan was as much of a chatterbox as his female counterparts. Don and I were both glad for the time shared with the assorted no-longer-wee-ones, and there was a bonus benefit of no memorable arguing amongst the younger members of the clan right up to bedtime. Ahhhhh.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Altered Altars

Yesterday Don woke up and wandered into the kitchen. Where he was greeted by this:
He asked, out of sheer groggy, half-asleepiness, "What's that? An altar to the iron?" Um. No. It is the result of the freedom of a New Year to return to the joy and wonder of the perfectly mundane. (Doing those weird little chores that have not been done, or not been done well, since the preparations for constant company began back in November.) Rather than an altar, this is what it looks like when someone washes and irons the table runner before leaving the iron to cool and decides to trim every candle wick from the living and breakfast rooms. And then wants to burn them all for a minute just so they don't look "too new".
After retrieving a cup of coffee, the mister retreated for his quiet time. Where he informed me that Oswald Chambers's tidbit for January 2nd reminded him of me as it talked of going out without knowing exactly where or why one was headed out. The immediate response was not, "Oh, thank you--- you dear, dear man!" It was a sulky wife who is still a teensy bit overly sensitive after the over-scheduled days of the so-called "holiday" season.
On the heels of an intended compliment, out came the explanation that the whole reason for my holiday funk this year was that the constant activity of those days just sucked the celebration out of the day-to-day like some sort of giant Hoover. Great thankfulness greets the return to normalcy. The pleasure of simply going out without mapping every last detail of where one must be going, the pressure of trying to fulfill a never ending list of tasks with whatever one must do, and worst of all missing out on the ones and the One with whom I really want to spend the hours of each day.
Today, once again the calendar returns to being placed on the altar. (Figuratively, not the one with the iron.) To the calendar, no further sacrifices will be made of people or joy. Ah, might as well throw the pocket book on a sacrificial pyre, too. These two items tend to reflect one's greatest priorities through the allocations of time and money as someone or other once pointed out. Time for both to again reflect higher priorities.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


New Year's Day 2009 has arrived. But first there was New Year's Eve 2008 with its poker party. I picked up an excess of Christmas candy looking forward to this shindig (one level shy of a hootenanny in case one is unfamiliar with the social gathering classification system) where candy is the ante. Over the course of the evening some were dealt great cards. Others not so much. Some joined in the game late, others bailed out, many eventually folded, and not everyone won or lost well. There were fierce competitors, those playing for fun, a couple with no idea how to play, and a floater or three. Whatever the hands dealt, the cards were what they were. Sure, some could be plucked out and replaced with the draw. But at least one card in each hand of five remained constant. And no amount of wishing could turn a mismatched mongrel hand into a winner.
Today, a friend mentioned resiliency. And we talked of how some people can endure difficulty and bounce back. Others seem to crumple like cheap tin foil at the first sign of anything unpleasant. The conversation left me thinking of the assorted series of five card hands that were dealt last night. I folded a couple of times based on reasoning, hung in until the end to lose repeatedly, ate or gave away my ante instead of playing with it as intended, won a couple of hands accidentally (Good thing the others told me--- I would not have known!), and eventually wandered off from the table after my focus shifted.
As we enter this new year, I wonder what the days to come will reveal about how well I play the hand I have been dealt. And I hope for resiliency enough not to fold. And maybe some more chocolate.