Monday, November 30, 2009


Okay, so into every year a few holidays must fall. And I admit to being a bit hit-or-miss with putting the Merry into Christmas. The Ragamuffin Soul has issued a challenge that Jan has seen fit to not only accept, but pass along. So, I think I shall opt to play along because my own ragamuffin soul tends to feel more ragged during this theoretically joyful season.
I think I can manage two posts per week on the progress in meeting the following goals:
  • Spiritual I will set aside a time of prayer solely for praising God every single day.
  • Physical I will walk 25 miles per week. I will put down the pie. I will dance when no one is looking.
  • Relational I will choose people over projects.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tacky Gifts

The girls and I were wrapping gifts tonight at the dining room table. The paper was purchased at 90% off during a way, way after Christmas sale at the Hallmark store. It never occurred to me to read the labels because gift wrap is gift wrap. It's all paper.

Upon closer examination this weekend, it turns out that some of our super sale paper has a most unfortunate feature. It is self-adhesive. And the stuff tears... repeatedly while one is trying to unroll it. I like to position, and reposition the packages to maximize paper use, but that is not possible with gummy goo on the back of the paper. It sticks to skin. And hair. There might have been some teensy shrieks of minor fury from the dining room. I'm not really sure what was happening outside the growing red haze of a narrowed focus on the persistently uncooperative paper, but I do recall the mister coming into the room and promising to replace all the paper with new at any price if I would just put down the self-adhesive stuff.

Eventually the screaming stopped. The girls opted out on the self-adhesive paper, but I can say that it looks rather nice once it is carefully smoothed over the planes and angles of a box. The great irony of the stuff is that once one folds down the ends there is still a need for tape to close the ends because the folds cover the adhesive. The stuff sticks to itself very well. Fortunately, the paper can be peeled oh-so-slowly back in a Herculean exercise of patience to be replaced in a new position without any real reduction in tackiness.

There are two rolls of the self-adhesive stuff still unopened, and there is the option to include gift wrap with our Angel Tree goodies. It is time to take the mister up on his offer of new paper because it would be wrong to wish the frustration of sticky paper on our Angel Tree recipient's parents. It's one thing to demand such rigid "Waste Not!" measures of oneself, but quite another to impose them on someone else.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


My mister likes cats. He likes to take the kids to look at cats. They all like to "ooh" and "ahh" over all the kitties.. My job? Is to be the official veto. I look all the feline cuteness right in the fluffy little face, and say, "ohbutno!" Then the family walks away from the kitties. Except that my veto broke. We walked into Pet Supply to stare with goony eyes at fuzzy creatures. The mister and Little Bit continued past the Grandma sitting at the adoption table. I? So much for "ohbutno!"
The ball of growling fur curled in Grandma's lap was transferred to my own where (he? she?) it made a valiant effort to hide in my sleeve. My kitty was a tortoise shell ball of variegated black and tan without so much as a spot of orange anywhere on her. We learned that kitty's supposed name was "Penelope", and we filled out the papers to be able to a) bring her home and b) change her name. Having decided that the kitty is not "Penelope", we have yet to determine what name does suit her. The list of possibilities is downright disturbing. Stella Cupcake? Alice/Alyce? Jinx? Perhaps she shall remain Nameless.


We roasted an extra turkey breast on Thanksgiving Day so we could enjoy it through the weekend. Except that the remaining sides and desserts were minimal. At 3:00 p.m., a text message solved my quandary. some friends had plenty of sides leftover from their turkey dinner, but not quite enough turkey. We piled into the car and headed over to enjoy the latest feast with friends armed with turkey and a fresh batch of turkey gravy. Our entree combined perfectly with the leftovers, and the assorted kids disappeared to watch Elf while the grown-ups settled in for Four Christmases.
This morning I crawled out of bed to snag a remnant of the pie of Thanksgiving past with my coffee. (The breakfast of champions, y'know.) I plunked my behind into the chair at the computer to mindlessly play a color block game on Facebook while washing down the last creamy bite of pie with caffeinated goodness. Checking the status updates to reveal that either no one else is doing anything interesting, or they are doing such interesting stuff that they do not have a moment to post.
Me? I am going to rile up the dogs by saying words like, "eat!" and "walk!" in my most exciting voice. Then the mister and I will go out to get boxes for a couple of oddly shaped gifts. Later today, we will do something about the naked tree parked in the center of the living room. And later still, something about the bad cat stalking the tree in the living room. Because that's not going to end well when the tree is covered in pretties.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I slipped out of the house in the wee hours. I made a quick trip to Big Box to pick up a couple of things which were neatly stowed away before the girls awoke to, "Get up. Get dressed. Or get left." Relative normalcy, except that it was 3:00 in the morning.
The girls and I loaded into the car to ghost down our dark, quiet street. The main artery through Pleasant Suburb was empty and still. At least it was until we neared Big Box with all the light and activity of people scurrying after $9 baby dolls and cheap electronics. We passed Big Box while reassuring Erin that no one was trampled in the shopping at our Big Box last year, but that we would still avoid it. She gave a shudder, and we proceeded on down the road toward the anchor stores of our expedition.
Penney's at 4:00, Macy's at 5:00, the coffee bar at 5:20, Steinmart at 6:00, Old Navy at 6:15, and World Market at 7:00. Our purpose with this mission was to do some Christmas shopping, but mainly to select gifts for our Angel Tree recipients. Pleasant Suburban Elementary adopted a Sister School, and Erin chose a girl a year younger who hopefully has similar taste for our family from the school's Angel Tree. The girls and I sorted through the paper angels at church before picking one who is in her senior year at one of Pleasant Suburbs high schools. For these young ladies, we went out into the pre-dawn shopping extravaganza to maximize our giving. By 8:00, we were at home boxing gifts for wrapping while sipping coffee or cocoa and nibling on peppermint bark.


Thanksgiving night disappeared into history as I fell asleep to the end of "Meet the Robinsons", and I've been hearing that song from the end of the movie repeating, "... these small hours..." since I woke. The song, which I happen to like, is playing on a loop that emphasizes the small moments that are adding up to the sum of our lives.
The Thanksgiving dinner with our beloved friends who treat us like family. The remote control cars skidding around Ally's kitchen as Katie and Erin try them out. Marsha saying she has plenty of wine, only to be told her glass is, "dry as a bone" as it is refilled. Cheering for the running football player only to discover the runner is an Aggie. (Oops.) Curled on the couch talking with Susan while enjoying the hum and thrum of our loved ones' voices from the kitchen. Carting home the big bag of hand-me-downs for Erin because Ashley has outgrown her. Jose attempting to make off with the chocolate bread. Bryan agreeing to take a car load over to Old Navy for the Thanksgiving Day specials. All of us satisfied with the shared meal produced by our collective kitchens.
This is not quite the life I chose. Or the one expected. But these small hours are adding up to days, weeks, and years worth cherishing. For which I am infinitely thankful.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Low End

It's low, and I admit it. I have resorted to bribery. The girls have been promised a candy bar of their choosing in return for 180 minutes of bass guitar practice this week. The thrumming of a bass guitar is a sound irresistable to my ears, and a couple of candy bars seem like a reasonable price for 360 minutes of happiness.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Missing Piece

We are in a holding pattern. Maintaining The Boy's privacy, it will suffice to say he is not living with us at the moment. We sent him a card for Thanksgiving because he will not be home. It had a joke about a turkey crossing the road to get to a side dish. He had the grace to say that our family really likes "jokes like that" instead of labeling it lame. I so wish he were going to be with us, but there are circumstances beyond any hint of my control that require otherwise.
He is changing, maturing, growing... and there is a bittersweet joy in these changes. It is bitter to be apart from him, but incredibly sweet to see him, hear him, and dream of him returning to our home. In the meantime, I can send him goofy cards that are no longer really right for him. Because he is shedding his adolescent goofiness like the ugly duckling morphing into a swan.

So. Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving with our loved ones sans one. We will miss him. There will be too much cranberry sauce without him at the table to inhale the stuff, and an undercurrent of sadness and longing running beneath the thanksgiving and celebration slated for the day. Still, we give thanks nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Middle Child has started reading my blog. She is mildly scandalized by the tales I tell about her. However, she does have the developing sense of right and wrong not uncommon to a 12 year-old. There are some things which offend her greatly, and others that fail to do so, but really ought to do so. She recently informed me that in a previous post there were comments that seemed to indicate that tattoos and piercings were out of the question. While I have a couple of holes in each ear, and no ink whatsoever as of this writing, there is a formal policy in our household stating that the offspring may poke all the holes and be adorned with as much ink as they wish at the age of 18. (Yes, I know they will be legal adults able to make such decisions themselves. Eventually, they will know that as well. Probably as soon as one of them reads this post.) The point of this policy is not so much to prevent the lovies from covering themselves in permanent cartoons or hanging chains from their noses (or worse), but to ask that they wait for a bit of maturity before making permanent decisions about their bodies.
I am less alarmed by the potential for their appearance to shock the casual bypasser than I am that they will do something dumb in the bloom of youth that won't go away. Because taste changes. And so do bodies. Walker and I once saw a woman in a tank top go by us who had failed to consider that the location of her tattoo was one given to stretching and sagging. Oh, dear. That little guppy looked suspiciously like a postpartum whale. Ew. Not to mention the possibility of infection or poor workmanship by individuals who would be willing to apply permanent decor to the bodies of underage youth. Those stretching rings that go in the ear lobe? I bet that cannot be undone without surgery, and I wonder if it can be undone then... Anywho. The tween's need for Mama's complete honesty with the bloggy world should be satisfied.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Um. Little Bit turned nine this weekend. And I was completely prepared for that even if it does mean she has less than a year before she hits double digits. What I was not prepared for was a photo editing session involving some quick snapshots of Middle Child. I wanted photographic evidence that she dressed up for a band field trip to a Big Metro Symphony Orchestra performance last night. (If you were the "older couple sitting in front of us"? I am so sorry they were too uncouth to shut up instead of commenting on the conductor. Thank you for suggesting they do so.) I edited the photos, and the results were good enough to be added to an album on Facebook entitled "Centered" that starts with Miss Kate's newborn photo (awww.) and ends with whatever has been recently uploaded.
And when those photos are viewed in order? The inescapable reality that our first precious, longed-for baby girl has somehow slipped over the threshhold from childhood into adolescence. It's one thing to know this, but quite another to see it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Picture Post: Morning at the Museum


We took three tweens, Erin and her best friend McClain ice skating since school let out at noon. Erin and McClain were celebrating Erin's 9th Birthday. The tweens were helping. McClain hugged the rink wall valiantly for a half hour before declaring that she does not like ice skating. Erin discovered that skating on ice is hard, but she definitely liked it. She found it hilarious to fall flat on what she insisted on calling her, "gluteous maximum".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A letter arrived in the mail today inviting me to take part in a medical study. And to recommend it to my friends. All I need to do is visit a web site specified in the letter to be part of ending bladder leakage with sneezing, coughing, laughing, etc. Really?! I'm kind of wondering if The Boy or Middle Child's tech savvy friends have found a brilliant gag to pull on their parents. Anybody else get one of these?

Monday, November 9, 2009


Today started out so well. Then it went all Monday. The mister and I dropped off kiddies at their assorted schools, and we knocked out today's "Must Do" errands first thing. There was even time to drop in at Big Box to schedule the measurement of our currently busted back door for replacement purposes. How very un-Monday.
Inside the doors of Big Box stood our dream refrigerator in the oddball looks-like-stainless-but-is-less-likely-to-dent-or-show-fingerprints finish marked down by 1/3. We decided to jump on the opportunity to finish out our kitchen with a fridge to match the other appliances. Upon returning home, measurements to double-check the space for the new machine reveal that it is 1/4" too tall for the opening. How very Monday.
Despite the mister's offer to cut the cabinet facing (!) to allow for the new unit, I declared that the fridge which required a saw to touch the cabinetry was not going to do. Taking the call-a-friend option, I discovered that her husband had in fact cut a larger opening in their cabinet facing but with the knowledge that the cabinets will have to be replaced. This information clarified that a return was the only option that suited this household. In a reassuring return to un-Monday bonuses, Friend's husband will be tutoring Middle Child in math next Saturday to help her make up for the information missed on her recent sick days. The call wasn't a total loss.
As soon as I hung up the phone, it rang again. Middle Child's eyes are swollen almost shut, red, and she has a 99.2 temp says the school nurse. Could I bring her contact case and solution to school? Sure, it's on the way to Big Box anyway. Except that Middle Child needs to go to the doctor before she puts in fresh contacts in case of an infection. The first available appointment coincides with her Math class. Of course. And her back-up eyeglasses are broken. Of course.
All these little hassles have yet to put a dent in the morning's initial pleasure that today's planned errands are complete. Because I have plenty of time to check off the new additions to the To Do List.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Oh, my. In lieu of dinner tonight, there was bread and water at my table. A fresh, hot loaf of bread straight out of the oven is hardly a sign of deprivation. It would have been a feast fit for a king with only the bread, but a bit of jam and cheese accompanied the crusty loaf. Which is what made it a feast fit for a Mama. Mmmhmm. With a definite emphasis on the "Mmmm!"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Women's Ministry

This morning Walker and I were completing our trek when I spied a neighbor coming along the sidewalk. Walker headed off, but I decided to walk along with Neighbor G. We talked of the wonders of clay soil and shifting foundations, and eventually ended up in front of my house again. We chatted about the various news of the day with Next-door Neighbor who happened to be in the front yard as we strolled up, and then the ladies headed off to their own homes.
Flash forward to dinner time tonight, and our family was sitting in a neighborhood restaurant. Who should come through the door? Next-door Neighbor--- and the hostess was seating her alone at the table next to us. Until we pulled up a chair and sent in her expedited order with our server. We had a wonderful meal with even better conversation thanks to our surprise guest.
After we completed our meal, I saw a woman as we were leaving who looked familiar. My favorite coffee buddy flew out of state this week for a family emergency, and the mystery woman was none other than out-of-state's mother-in-law. We shared a greeting, and a laugh about Grandma's absolutely fabulous four-year-old granddaughters who had spent the previous night having a Pajama Party at her house. Which meant she was not in any mood to cook for herself, but was definitely looking forward to bedtime.
Returning home, I received a message about a women's event at church tomorrow which I am not attending. Because I am not really comfortable talking with the other ladies at women's ministry events. Except for a reunion of just such ladies coming up in a few weeks. Besides, I didn't have much time to devote to thinking about that statement because I needed to call another friend about our upcoming Thanksgiving plans. In the course of our conversation, I was instructed to call that friend's mother tomorrow while I am avoiding the uncomfortable setting in which I would be expected to talk to other women. Ah, the irony is rich today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Hmmm. In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, there are several words that have caught my eye this morning. In verses 6 and 7, "For God, who said Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the glory of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;" Oh. This imperfect body is simply the container into which the gospel has been poured. I would never think to pour a fine, valuable wine into a pitcher one of the children formed out of mud from the back yard, but that is precisely what God has done in filling my imperfect self with Christ. Because a fine vessel would be a thing of beauty regardless of what it contained, but the flawed container filled with treasures leaves one with awe for what is within without glorifying the humble container.
Better still, followers of Christ are analogous to pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. Seeds are planted and tended. The harvest comes, and choice pumpkins make their way market. Select pumpkins are hollowed out, and a light placed inside. The gourd is simply a shell lit up from within that can illuminate a dark place or serve as a beacon in the night. I'm a jack-o-lantern. How about you?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Strength in Numbers

Our family is in counseling, and I feel for our therapist. Yesterday, she had excellent intentions of helping us all to recognize that we each bring strengths to our family relationship. Our first task was to use a series of clues to identify certain information. We were each given a strip of paper with a clue, but we could only resolve the questions with the information on our individual strips of paper. We had three minutes to work out the resolution. It took me all of two seconds to declare that we were not going to be able to answer the questions with the limited information available on our individual paper slips.
Bonus points awarded for recognizing that we need to communicate with one another and pool our individual information (a.k.a. strengths) to reach the solution led to instructions to use a single sheet of paper and refrain from verbal communication while sharing our clues to come up with a corporate solution. Erin informed the therapist that she, "used to sign because she couldn't talk." I explained that we used sign due to Erin's initial speech delays to force her to use some form of language in communicating rather than meeting her needs in response to gestures or non-speech sounds. We were then given permission to sign, but Erin explained that we don't use it anymore and don't remember it.
Meanwhile, Don and Katie had developed a chart to indicate the three categories of information we were supposed to be gleaning from our clues. Erin moved to the other side of the table and began writing on a second sheet of paper. I wrote on Don and Katie's paper a question, "How much do we care about [pursuing the information]?" because I really could not have cared less about the exercise at that point, and Erin was drawing on her separate sheet of paper while ignoring reminders to share a single sheet of paper. At the end of the 3 minutes, Don and Katie pointed out that not all the information was in the clues. Our therapist discovered that there were two essential elements missing, and we could not have solved the puzzle. She also mentioned that she had a migraine.
She sat across from us in a chair, and stated that she liked the way we all crowded together on the sofa. This brought to my mind the image of us lined up in a shooting gallery, but she seemed to see it as a positive sign that we are all together in our seating preferences. Okie-dokie. She asked us to identify our strengths, and then to identify each other's strengths. It was a little concerning when Katie identified Erin's primary strength as being, "an Evil Genius" and Erin named her own primary strength as being, "good at manipulating others". She then answered the therapist's queries to show that she did in fact understand the meaning of the word "manipulation" and that she had been "living in a box" in response to Dad's statement that she is an "out of the box" thinker. *sigh*
We were running over on time by this point, and our therapist's head was likely about to explode. Still, we explained that the microwave had died the preceding week, and the replacement came in a big box. The big box was now situated in the middle of the living room where our youngest child climbs inside to watch television through a hole in the end pointed toward the t.v. We are unlikely to hear a recommendation to discontinue therapy anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Replacements

Walker and I are not so much with the walking today. We were all about the sitting and partaking of coffee and the Evil Empire's pumpkin cream cheese muffins. We'll be similarly sedentary in our meetings until the Good Doctor clears me for walking. My follow-up appointment is tomorrow, and I expect to be traipsing about the mean suburban streets sooner rather than later. Good Doctor expects to do partial replacements of both knees in a time frame now set at six months to two years.
In other news, the microwave proved that, "They don't make 'em like they used to..." applies to more than my knees by dying last Thursday night. Despite my drugged, post-operative state, I still wanted to be part of the decision-making process of choosing the replacement. Stiff-legged with giant bandages causing my legs to look more Michelin Man than Mom, I teetered through the appliances with my mister while considering the available options. After the combined excitement of the microwave's demise and searching out the model that matches the range, I was worn out. That led to my conveniently sleeping through the mister's removal of the broken unit and installation of the shiny new one. Which was likely beneficial to both of our mental health.