Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Picture Post: Tut Tut


Argh. Our master bathroom shower has been out of commission for two years. This morning a gentleman was in to offer a bid on the master bathroom shower and tub surround, the tile in our children's bathroom (which is definitely beginning to look a little worse for the wear), and finally on counters and a back splash for the kitchen.
At the moment, we can either do the bathrooms or the kitchen, but not both. And the kitchen is in the center of our house. Our house with an open floor plan. Did I mention that the current counter tops are peach formica? They were likely stunning in 1988 when our home was a southwestern style model home, but they are most definitely not Mrs. Holly's Happy Place. There is a long-standing disgust with the necessity to decorate the entire house around those counters. Because any color that is not in the peach-rose family makes them look salmon. *sigh*
Anybody in the market for a slightly dated, cookie-cutter suburban home with a lovely open floor plan? Buyer is free to decide whether they get a functional master bath shower or newly remodeled kitchen.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Well Rounded

Last week my feet ate up over forty miles of ground here in Pleasant Suburb. I lost between one and three pounds. Then I realized that I was wearing a pair of one and a half pound weights. I stepped back on the scale last night with the request that my mister do the honors. He informed me that I have lost four pounds. Much more gratifying than the original weight displayed.
Besides, this weekend saw one of those awful trips to the store in search of jeans. (Only thing worse is a similar trip targeting swimsuits. Yuck.) The dressing room yielded the gratifying news that my unfortunate weight gain has not increased my clothing size. Well, not exactly. My new jeans are exactly the same brand and size as my old jeans. They just look like they were spray-painted on me. It's a custom fit. Really.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Page Turner

The wait for direction continues. The feeling that one is waiting for some intangible, unknowable something remains, but the feeling fails to leave more than a vague impression. And feelings are suspect at best. Feelings frequently reflect emotion, and all too often are subject to governance by response to emotion. That's a dangerous pairing. It brings to mind the thought of a toddler talking to herself in the mirror. And the same child gleefully carrying out her own orders believing that her reflection is somehow the source of brilliant instruction. It is similarly easy to convince oneself that one's own ideas are somehow divine in origin. Because the mind is given to credulousness when following the heart. But scripture remains unchanged, and it is there that I expect to find clarity. There is comfort in the recognition of Truth that remains unchanged.
The mister and I have compared notes on previous times we have felt the compulsion toward something. For each of us, compulsion runs strong, but the specifics of "who", "what", "when", "where", and "how" seldom follow any sort of logic. In fact, whatever we are supposed to be doing frequently defies all logic and reason. That's why we call life an adventure. For this moment we seem to be caught in a chapter that seems to serve no purpose, but later it will likely be proven to have been necessary to build the plot toward the next twist in our tale. One can only imagine what will come as the page turns.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


8:15 a.m.
While the internet and several etiquette guides suggest crystal for the traditional or watches for those seeking modern gift-giving solutions to mark an anniversary, we are going a slightly different route. My brilliant Mister has tickets for "Tutankhamen & Golden Age of Pharaohs" at the Dallas Museum of Art! Hee. Perfect. He was a little concerned about lack of romance, but I informed him that he nailed this one. He could not have chosen something more appealing to the bride of his youth. To Big D we go!
More later...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do Tell

Speculation abounds. The mister requested that I keep our anniversary open because he took the day off. He also made plans for us. Unknown, surprise plans that have led to much curiosity on the part of his adoring wife, and a fair amount of discussion with the assorted Women. I have questions. He won't give me answers without good reason. Here's what I know so far:
1) We are leaving right after the last kiddie heads off to school.
2) He is driving because I don't know where we are going.
3) It's a dressier than my usual Mom-wear place, and we will likely be doing some walking as he suggested other shoes when I mentioned possibly wearing a favored pair of high-heeled black boots. (The ones Middle Child declared "too sexy for a mom".)
4) I don't think it is a restaurant because we're still in talks about a possible picnic lunch. Except it looks like we could have yucky weather tomorrow, and grassy spots are already muddy. Not so romantic to mud wrestle over a meal--- even with the love of your life.
5) Thankfully, through Q&A, I can gladly rule out a gun show, a boat show, and anything involving livestock.

While it goes against my nature to be unable to plan for our day, I am thrilled to be treated to a day out planned by my mister. I cannot wait to see what on earth he has dreamed up to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I have a confession. I love numbers. And calculations. Not necessarily math per se, but the art of playing with the numbers to see where they might go . It's reminiscent of my better known love affair with words. (Not necessarily grammar or punctuation, just plain, embellishable words that form up into lines that triangulate paragraphs to eventually fill a page telling a tale... ahem. You get the picture.) Except that the words are tricksy things that I can twist and shape while the numbers generally adhere to concrete realities.
This is why I get to balance our checking accounts. It is also why I teach and reteach our kids' math lessons in the summer. And why I don't need the coupon lady to teach me how to play the Grocery Game. It is exactly why I need a formula... okay, let's just get it out in the open, shall we? It's why an equation was and is the answer to my weight-loss woes. All the numbers representing calories in (food!) and calories out (energy utilized!) line up in a lovely tally that makes my little heart go pitter-pat. And if the numbers line up, then I absolutely lose weight.
It's not a miracle diet, doesn't require a special grocery list, and no foods (or food groups!) are eliminated so long as I account for the corresponding calorie count. It's complicated, but I like the complications because they help me to focus on exactly what I am doing to meet my goal.

Monday, March 23, 2009


A challenge has been issued. A friend tossed down the proverbial gauntlet out of her own desire to shed 16 pounds in the next eight weeks, and I saw something shiny on the ground and picked it up. So. Generally, it is far easier to burn more calories than it is to consume fewer, but a combination of the two works well without leaving one with a rumbly tummy. While it is not quite rocket science, I do use the following formula to determine how many calories I need: 655 + (4.3 X weight in lbs.) + (4.7 X height in inches) - (4.7 X age in years) X 1.3 for a moderately active individual. My magic number to maintain my weight is 2,062.38 calories per day. One pound equals 3500 calories, so 500 calories per day have to go away either by decreasing intake or moving more.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


The Boy chose a chess cake for birthday number fourteen. I am considering a nervous breakdown after hearing that he can legally work as a bag boy down at corner market. Where he can earn money to save toward car insurance so he can get a learner's permit in 366 days.
The hilarious part is that he would be legal to drive next year with his permit in hand and his mother in the car. I'm not sure what brilliant legal mind decided that a child would somehow be a safer driver with adult supervision considering that said "adult" is likely the parent who owns the car and the auto insurance policy. Things to ponder in the coming year.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pay It Forward

Oh, FUN! Kathy over at Little House featured a post on Paying It Forward that tickled me. Since I am a fairly awful gift-giver, it seemed like a little extra practice might be just the thing. Here's how it works:
The first three Gentle Readers to leave a comment on this post will receive a gift from Mrs. Holly at some point in the coming year. Your comment should include a link to your blog that includes a link to this post. Of course, there are those whose blogs I could find blind-folded, and for those bloggy peeps the comment will be quite sufficient. Anywho. Let's just recap The General Rules:

1. Be one of the first three to leave a comment to this post, with the link to your Pay It Forward Giveaway post.

2. Be willing to follow through on sending out one prize each to three lucky winners of your contest.

3. Make sure your profile has contact information available.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Boogie Fever

Miss Erin came down with a case of the creeping crud that woke her up pre-dawn this morning. She was drippy, stuffy, had swollen eyes, and a cough that was all kinds of productive. Her appointment meant cutting short the morning walk, but at least an abortive attempt was made to squeeze in a little exercise. We arrived at the pediatrician's office, saw our usual doctor, and left with our lollipops to drop off Miss Libby's prescription.
Erin is not really a child who will allow one to nurse her back to health. I cite the visit to my in-laws house where she was up with a stomache bug in the middle of the night. The only reasons the Grands knew she had been up sick was because big sister found the, um... mess and reported it. My mother-in-law was appalled that Erin had failed to awaken an adult during the night, "to be with her while she was sick". My response? "What were you going to do? Watch?" (Yes, it would've meant the mess was cleaned up sooner.) Because I know this kid is sometimes intensely private, and she definitely would not appreciate an audience while heaving away in worship at the porcelain altar. She did not wake her Gram out of this extreme self-consciousness, but also because she is rather remarkably conscientious.
With the night-time tummy escapades, she would have disrupted everyone in the household's sleep had she summoned an adult. Today, she was terribly upset at the doctor's office. There were tear-filled eyes threatening to spill over in the waiting room. Not because she felt awful, or because she did not want to see the M.D., but because her brother's party is tomorrow. Her main concern was not causing her brother's birthday party to be rescheduled or exposing his friends to boogie fever. She amazes me. I love that this little girl who has yet to achieve double-digit age would put her brother's pleasure above her own health and comfort. Some of that is because she is just sweet as can be, but it also tells me that she is completely secure in the belief that she will be cared for fully, helping to turn her thoughts from self to others.
And she still wants no part of my nursing. Reminding her to drink extra fluids, doling out her medications, reaching the Kleenex on the high shelf, and getting her to the doctor are about all she will tolerate of my interference in her illness.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Zoom Zoom

I have reached a new level of Bad Mom. The Boy's birthday always falls around Spring Break, is three days before our anniversary, and last year was Easter Sunday. Eesh. With a tight focus on Spring Break, I failed to pay attention to the big picture this week. The Boy's Happy Day is suddenly only four days away. And no plans whatsoever had been made when I popped out of bed this morning to mark the occasion.
I dashed off an early morning e-mail to the moms whose addresses were in my address book and was gratified to receive quick replies with affirmative responses. Evan helpfully phoned the rest of his buddies who were game for a slightly last-minute get-together. Our house will officially be a plastic sword armory and video game convention Saturday afternoon for a few hours. Now on to the party supply gathering, food and beverages for the Boybarian horde, and purchasing the gift. If I can throw together a wedding in three days, surely a fourteenth birthday party can be arranged in a similar time frame.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The bigger the scope of a dream or plan, the more likely disappointment would follow. I cite Don's and my wedding as an example I will likely regret. My mother was attempting to help us plan a big wedding for July. The guest list was mounting, the costs swelling, and I was ready to go off the deep end over the whole nightmarish affair right down to a panic attack during our engagement party. The whole sorry planning period ended with a phone call to my Mister Elect on a Wednesday afternoon informing him that we were done being engaged. Sensing that the end of Wedding Planning could be near, and that his bride-to-be was headed for a total melt-down, he agreed to head to city hall with me that afternoon. My Dad had no comment other than to take Don and I with our new marriage license out to dinner and inform us that he was "fine" with the lost deposits which were a laughable fraction compared to the savings headed his way with our bargain basement nuptials. With his help we determined that we would not run off to New Mexico, but would instead get married in my parents' living room. I will refrain from sharing the responses of either my mother or my in-laws.
Our guests would be whomever could get there by Saturday. Our colors? Well, the flower girl had a pink dress from a prior wedding that still fit, so our color was pink. The nurses and nurse aides whose schedules I arranged every week at work were promised last-minute schedule change coverage for the individual who provided the Baptist minister to lead us in our vows. (Doesn't sound like much, but it was a big enough boon for several coworkers to offer up assorted officiants. The winning nurse aide presented us with a minister who looked just like David Koresh, preached on Sunday morning, and was a magician in night clubs Thursday-Saturday evenings.) Rather than invitations, we went with a simple wedding announcement which went out after the big event.
All the other details fell into place with slight changes from what was already in place for the bigger party plans. A call to the bakery found they could deliver the top two tiers of our wedding cake on three days' notice. The dress shop phoned with the message that my wedding gown with its chapel-length train had come in early. Since it needed not a single alteration, my mother-in-law suggested that I would regret not having "my dress". And I felt like a princess in it--- a princess who could neither bend nor breathe, but a princess none-the-less. Don and I visited the florist who we had chosen to be told that she could absolutely have the boutonnieres, corsages, candelabras, and bouquets ready for the weekend. Don's sister and my brother were to act as our attendants, and she had a green dress. So my brother wore a green shirt, and our colors become pink and green.
Daddy called a temporary truce between warring family factions for the big day. He and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby for the last few little decorative items. My Aunt Dee filmed the wedding. We had no music. Photographs were limited to those taken by point and shoot cameras or those for which Don and I posed later in a studio. Mom was horrified, and Don and I were thrilled to offer my Dad's fajitas to our guests for the post-ceremony meal. Our wedding was a small, admittedly thrown-together affair, but it served its purpose. The mister and I will celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary next week on Choose-Your-Own-Holiday Day, so apparently the size and cost of the ceremony have little enough to do with the depth and joy of the marriage or the way in which a pair opt to celebrate it.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I keep reminding myself that this body is only temporary. It does not always do quite what I want it to do. So I push the boundaries with a bit of stubborn can-do. This morning Lori and I trekked our three miles in foggy and damp. We skipped some of our hills and dales because those would not have been quite as doable for me and my old-lady, arthritic joints. But we did cover our distance. My mister was not entirely pleased that I was out walking with the aid of a cane. I figure the cane prevents me from falling or sustaining an injury, and the thing is supposed to increase my mobility--- not limit it.
My five pound weight loss is now up to seven. We've also been exercising just enough for the fat and muscle to separate out so that clothes don't fit quite right and my lower half looks way gross. (If you have never gotten fat and then lost the weight by exercising, this phenomenon is just part of the fun on the weigh down.) It's like the body is saying, "Ew! Exercise is bad. It makes your wiggle more jiggly. Stop exercising and have a cookie!" At least that's what I am hearing. I may just have that cookie, but there is no real temptation to stop walking with Lori or my mister. I love the company, and those arthritic joints need to be exercised to help keep them functioning.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Ending

2nd Friday has likely seen its end. The plan was to host roughly six of the Friday night potluck dinner parties in order to create an opportunity for friends to see one another. There were two in November (2nd Friday and Black Friday), December skipped, January, February, and March . That is two months shy of six months, and one gathering short of a half dozen. But I think we are done still.
April's 2nd Friday is Good Friday because Easter, '09 falls on the second weekend of the month. We'll take a pass on that evening for filling the house with a couple dozen people. I looked out into May to realize that 2nd Friday is likely Mother's Day weekend. It was a little too easy to continue to excuse myself from future hostessing with the upcoming holidays, and that fills me with the suspicion that it is time to end the social experiment formerly known as 2nd Friday.
As to those people the mister and I were concerned about not seeing as often as we would like... I suspect we know where to find them. And we are certainly easy to find. The hope that others would also want to continue relationships which no longer had an "official" purpose, might also wish to host, or organize other gatherings to help everyone stay in touch has turned out to be realistic. One group of women will likely be gathering on periodic Saturday mornings for a brunch, occasional coffee dates or movie nights amongst the various regular guests, the mister and I have received some welcome invitations, and there has been a support network amongst some friends in difficult situations that has grown up. Much of that would have happened anyway, but I like the idea that maybe the 2nd Fridays helped to serve as an encouragement and a means for people to stay connected and even to begin some new friendships.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I love tomorrow.

My favorite thing to not do is clearing and organizing my desk. (That is why the mister and I chose the desk that can be closed up, right?!) Except that I became unnerved by a pile of papers that grew up behind the screen of the laptop. It was beginning to overtake the screen in height. There was a little something overtly threatening about that pile o' papers. And the sheer mystery of just what in the world was in that pile was starting to pique enough interest to overcome the general procrastination that allowed said pile to grow up nice and tall. *sigh*

Imagine my surprise to discover that a quarter of the pile wasn't even mine! It was stuff that the kiddies had contributed. The amount of paper sent home by the schools (especially when Mom and Dad have specifically requested e-mail communication to minimize the paper trail) is astounding. All of that important stuff headed right to the recycling. Ugh. Unfortunately, the other three-quarters is all mine. Yuck. There is a strong temptation to just shred the pile, toss it in the recycle bin, and deal with the consequences of anything important or that required action on my part later.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Ow. Today I ache. Maybe because it is rainy and generally icky outside. Maybe because I ran wind sprints with Middle Child yesterday. Our usual haunt for Girly Bonding Time is a lovely bistro/bakery, but in light of my bottom line that seemed like the wrong place to go. She wanted to run in preparation for next year's hoped-for spot on the track team, and Little Bit had dance class at the church. I figured Katie could run around the church parking lot, and I would walk while we waited for Erin's class.
Except that Katie wanted to see if mom would "smoke her" (or not!) in a race. Riiiight. She weighs maybe 70 pounds soaking wet, has a strong, not-quite-twelve-year-old body, runs like the wind, and apparently has a sick sense of humor. I think my left arm weighs 70 pounds, and it is clear to the naked eye that this body hasn't seen twelve in some time. I walk very fast, but only run when chased. I couldn't tell if she was joking, so we ran. We worked on her form. We ran until we could not breathe and our legs felt alternately numb and jelly-like. And we laughed.
And she smoked me. Good girl.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I have performed a particularly neat trick. Over the past six months I have gained 11 pounds. (This would be acceptable if I had a due date coming up.) The most impressive tidbit is the ability to pack on those pounds while my thyroid levels were high. (For the blessedly uninitiated, thyroid hormones regulate all the other hormones. High levels should cause one to lose weight along with a host of other highly unfavorable effects.) My once regular exercise plan had become almost nonexistent. Add in the holiday excesses to my regular cookie indulgence, and we have plans for expansion.
My doctor informed me of my weight gain this afternoon. She was concerned about the "unexplained gain" in light of my hormone levels. (I think there might have been some eyeball rolling on my part. And a wee bit of squirming.) I informed her that the gain was entirely explained--- and proceeded to fill her in on my increased munching and crunching and decreased activity level. I also told her that I am bringing my eating habits back into the realm of normalcy and have added the 3-5 miles of daily walking back into the week. It's a good thing to have already knocked off five pounds unknown to Dear Doctor in the past several weeks! And to know that what needs to address this issue is already in play.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Picture Post: Distance

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away... well, the distance in time from the Boy's early days to the present feels epic. But it also feels like it was only yesterday that this bundle of energy was a year old headed for two rather than thirteen racing toward fourteen at break-neck speed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shoe Purse!

Last year, Lisa and I flew 5,000 miles to Poland to pray with our team for Poland in Poland. We stayed with Lisa's sister Shelley who happens to be a missionary to Poland. During the stay, Shelley and I visited an open air market with another team mate. There we found some likely looking pre-owned handbags for a reasonable price. Shelley chose one big enough to schlep around her stuff during our daily outings, and another for a friend of ours, Denise, who did not join us on the trip.
Shelley and I presented the bag to Lisa at dinner. She was equally bowled over by our fabulous find. There was no small amount of laughter as we talked about the bag's ultimate destination. (Denise is an accessory aficionado. The woman is like the Stephen Hawking of handbags and jewelry. I love her special sort of genius even more because it is not quite my own "thing".) Lisa and I eventually carried the purse back to the U.S. with us. I figured customs would confiscate it for sure, but they left our treasure unmolested to make the final leg of our trip back to Texas.
Months later, Denise's birthday rolled around. The group of women who I refer to in my head alternately as The Birthday Girls and as part of the collective of The Women headed off to our traditional birthday celebration of dinner and a movie. As Denise opened her assorted gifts, a special package "straight from our Fabulous European Vacation" was presented with Shelley's special gift lurking within layers of pretty tissue. Inside Denise found the multitasking accessory of her dreams--- Shoe Purse!

Picture Post: Mother Daughter 08

All photos by Erin Elizabeth 01 04 08

Monday, March 2, 2009


After the pocketbook emptying January calendar packed full of dental, vision, orthodontic, psych, and medical appointments (and the accompanying prescriptions), I was relieved when February arrived with relatively few such engagements and expenses. It seemed prudent not to focus too much on the out-of-pocket expenses of those first harried weeks of 2009 because it would just leave me blue over the outpouring of green rather than pleased to have knocked out so many necessary tasks involved in the care and keeping of the five of us. Along came the letters from the providers that our insurance company opted not to pay last year according to our contract, and I was unable to remain in the pink after finding that we were wrongly in the red.
Until I made a call to the company that administers the Mother Ship's flexible spending (while trying to document last year's medical payments) only to discover that we have money in our account that can be used to reimburse qualifying medical, dental, vision, prescription, etc. expenses for the first three weeks of 2009. Money that had already been deposited which neither we nor the Mother Ship will receive back if it is not utilized for our family's health care expenses. Hee. Hee-hee. Hahahahahahaha. We saw every provider for everything under the sun in that three weeks. I hope to be laughing all the way to the bank having discovered this potential pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I do hope we will be much closer to being back in the black when all is said and done.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


The teen years have arrived. In all honesty, it did not really occur to me when we flunked our pregnancy tests, er... discovered we were expecting that the resulting bundles of joy would eventually become the creatures who now inhabit our home, eat our food, allow us to clothe, shoe, and educate them... all while nurturing their growing belief that the mister and I are somehow entirely out of touch. Holy Night, Batman! We have somehow become parents of a teen and a tween.
And it's very much like the day those nurses and doctors allowed us to take home an infant from the hospital. We had no clue what to do with the little guy, but we were game. And we still are. It just seems that the children are less so. This disinterest in our brilliant parenting techniques is a bit demoralizing. I am beginning to wonder if we should make up a set of index cards for the children similar to a set that were briefly utilized early in our marriage before the children could read.
The cards were simple: on each side a single word, "YES" or "NO". A strangely childish method of communication hearkening back to the notes passed in grade school "Do you love me? Yes or No?" I believe we could either stick the card on the fridge or wear it on a string around our necks. The cards were our way of indicating interest in certain marital activities. Primitive and silly, but taking the potential sting out of "rejection" because it was just an index card. Yet, the card indicated whether or not advances from either party were welcome. The card went into disuse when the Boy learned to read and started asking questions we were unprepared to answer.
Yet I think the card might be beneficial again for an entirely different sort of communication. Our elder children have become prickly creatures of late. Yet they still want and need us to pursue the relationships they are pushing away at every turn. Perhaps the card would allow them to reach out for conversation in a way that limits their vulnerability while still allowing it. And gives us a hope of approaching them at the right time which can look much like the wrong time.