Thursday, December 31, 2009

Begin Again

2009. Hmmm... if there were a pencil or pen involved in this writing, it would be twisting and turning a la Anthony Michael Hall's character in The Breakfast Club during his consideration of the "Why Are You Here?" essay. Which could beg the question, "Why am I here?" Except that is hardly the direction Mama's thoughts wish to wander today. Today is more about yesterday and tomorrow.
Yesterday, there was a measure of satisfaction in packing away all of the Christmas decorations from the china to the stockings. The feeling of industry in storing away all the glitz and glitter of the Christmas season was capped off by the procurement of next year's gift wrap to be kept in wait with the recycled ribbons, tissue, and boxes of Christmas Past. The china wrapped and rewrapped in additional bubble cushions before being boxed up, so that the places of honor could be assumed by all the lovely goodies delivered by the Polish Pottery Fairy this year. The final act was tossing the last slice of apple pie which was mistakenly left out last night, and eating the final piece of pumpkin in unadulterated glee over the latest Breakfast of Champions of 2009 a moment of dietary weakness. It was lovely to make a late night drive to retrieve Middle Child from a movie with friends, and to enjoy the Christmas lights knowing they'll either be gone today, or the HOA will be in fits until it is so.
Today, despite the pie breakfast, the mister and I were out watching our breath precede us as we walked the dogs a couple of miles in case we have more freak December snow or freezing rain. (Buster hates water. He fails to see the charm in the stuff regardless of the form it takes.) The mister leaves freshly baked cinnamon rolls for the children to discover when they wake. My fingers fly over the keyboard in anticipation of an outing with him while they yet sleep. We're just running to the store, but it's still somewhere we are going without any of our offspring or any sort of medical practitioner.
The afternoon will be filled with preparations for a poker party tonight to see out the final hours of this year amidst friends and food. Both of the latter are special favorites. And the poker? Candy is the designated ante for tonight. It has been said that the amateur players in these games tend to win the most candy. Woo-Hoo! I am both terribly inept and untutored at card games, and have a tremendous liking for candy. This is bound to end well.

Anywho. The thoughts on this night and the day to come?

New Year's Eve holds a treasured place as the night that ushers in a new beginning. A beginning arriving whether greeted with bated breath and great fanfare as the clock strikes midnight, reached by the solitary soul staring as the lighted ball drops on a backlit screen, or creeping quietly past those sleeping. The New Year begins a clean sweep of the old moving unseen across borders and time zones with the earth's rotation. And in a day the old year will be done.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Ouch. In the end-of-year get-it-done-while-the-deductible-is-met medical and dental blitz, the calendar for today was packed with a trip to the dermatologist, followed by the immunologist's office, back to the endodontist, and capped off with the regular dentist. Oh, joy. Oh, dear.
The dermatologist visit was expected to be a quick 15 minute in and out. Except it wasn't. The biopsy results that could have been nothing? Were something. Precancerous cells with edges not contained in the original sample meant a minor surgery in office to remove a bit more of the offending uh-oh from my upper left arm. For the record? This was answered prayer that anything of just this sort would be found--- and removed rather than allowed to grow unchecked until truly dangerous. Oh, well.
The immunologist was the stop for H1N1 vaccination which really could have been just the 15 minutes it takes to sign in and let the nurse poke what was now destined to be my upper right arm. Except it wasn't. The sinus infection that took hold before Christmas? Was still in effect. So there had to be an exam and an extension of the antibiotics keeping the badness somewhat at bay in hopes of completely clearing the infection. And thanks to the biopsy results? The always unpleasant discussion of the increased cancer risks for those with my specific immune deficiency. Then it was decided that the vaccine could still be given after all. Oh, brother.
The endodontist? Did exactly what was planned; although, it was a bit of a toss up trying to decide which arm to volunteer for having blood pressure taken. No surprises whatsoever, and the icky infection in my jaw appeared to be all cleared up. Concluding their business early, the lovely people in that office sent me home to a pudding lunch, my mister, and Mansfield Park. Oh, goody.
One can never tell how these things will go, but it is rather hopeful that the final appointment of the day will end even half so well as the third one did. While not quite managing to begin the day as I meant to go, it is shaping up rather nicely at the midpoint. After all, how can one possibly be unhappy with a day that involves an uninterrupted hour with a well-loved book? Or a few minutes spent making faces in the mirror with half one's face numb? And, of course, there were some valiant attempts to deliver a single smooch to my mister that were entirely unsuccessful due to said numbness, but still highly entertaining. Laughter and a bit of escapism do wonders for refilling a glass that was precariously poised at half empty.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Prep Time

With Christmas, 2009 past, and 2010 looming imminently, our church is getting ready for The Apocalypse. Seriously. We're not lining sidewalks with sandwich boards proclaiming the doom of all mankind or anything, but we are preparing to study Revelation perhaps in the interest of recognizing why speaking of one's faith is of necessity. Before The Apocalypse arrives toward the end of January, as a congregation we will spend 21 days studying and focusing on prayer. I cannot think of a better pursuit for those who wish to chase after the Creator of the Universe than to simply spend time with Him. And in spending moments, hours, and the coming days in pursuit of the One, we will be better prepared to serve Him--- and to live in expectation of the coming of the end of all things known.
Because eventually the world as it is will pass away. I choose to worship God who exits outside of time and this world. And to try to recognize that God is bigger than my small mind can know, more immense than my wildest imaginings might conceive, and that this unknowable Lord patiently reveals Himself through scripture. How astounding. And how great is my anticipation of what will come of our congregation purposefully spending weeks practicing the simple awe of communion through prayer before attempting to wade into the Revelation of warning and hope given to John.
It's going to be some year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

White Christmas

The snow flurries of Christmas Eve failed to disappear overnight thanks to temperatures well below freezing. According to a Facebook post by an old acquaintance, it was colder in Pleasant Suburb than it was in Canada. Shelley in Poland reported rain in Gdansk while noting the freak snow in her home state. How very odd, and how utterly delightful, to creep from our beds to peer out the window at a field of scarcely broken white. Unbroken until we marched out into it for a Christmas morning snowball fight.
A good hour later, we returned to the house where a breakfast casserole and fresh biscuits awaited. Slipping back into our jammies, we each checked our stockings. Thanks to the snow outside, we have seen the first time ever in this household that stockings went unchecked on Christmas morning. Of course, it's also the first White Christmas in mine and the mister's married life--- and the first one in Pleasant Suburb since the 1920's.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


This was a year for surprises large and small. The mister expected to find a "cowboy shirt" (as he dubbed the lovely item I'd personally chosen for him) under the tree, but was instead pleased to discover that the cowboy shirt had left the building to be replaced by something more the mister's style. In like fashion, the mister tucked a pair of slim jewelry boxes into a Polish pottery shipping box with a small weight to completely fool me. My guess on picking up the package and removing the wrapping was a berry bowl. Another box revealed a new apron that had been admired in store only the day before and picked up on a super-stealthy shopping expedition by the mister and Middle Child.
The "Gotcha!" moments seemed to have passed once the packages had all been taken from beneath the tree. Don told the girls to, "Unload the dryer," despite the newly unwrapped gifts drawing their attention away from those boring, everyday chores. He slipped into the master bedroom where I stuffed a box and a slim card into my pockets to be covered by my sweater before hurrying back into the living room to grab the camera with the mister coming behind at a more measured pace. He came through the door, calling for Erin, and in his hands was a bright, cobalt blue, bass guitar.
Middle Child turned away from the room trying to damp down her own disappointment. Valiantly fighting the green-eyed monster that reared up as her sister received an extra special Christmas surprise while Kate's own greatest wish went unfulfilled was no easy task. Tapping Katie on the shoulder, I produced the gift card that would fulfill all sorts of tween iTunes wishes. As a smile broke across our formerly disappointed darling's face, I pulled the iPod Touch she really hoped for from the other pocket. The mister and I were rather pleased with ourselves. So were the girlies, for that matter.
We exchange our family gifts on Christmas Eve. This year, as we proceeded to shower one another with Christmas wishes and treats large and small, something completely unheard of began to fall. A White Christmas was coming to Texans big and small. Scrap the visions of sugarplums, and grab a snow ball... but first, may we wish you a Merry Christmas, one and all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The children, and sometimes the mister and I, choose or are given a special ornament to mark each year. Some reflect interests or hobbies while others are simply expressions of personal taste. This year, staring at the rows of ornaments in the store, it was with an overwhelming awareness that The Boy would not get to choose an ornament. Turning to leave empty-handed, I narrowly avoided crashing into a stand with small sled ornaments featuring names. Selecting one with each of my children's names regardless of where they call home this year, I proceeded to the checkout with a heaviness not typical of this usually fun errand.
This was not the spirit of the tradition. We joyfully select ornaments when given choices, and are typically tickled when someone opts to give us one such as the hand-carved works of art (2007's angel representation is shown at left.) my parents bring from Arkansas each year. While the pride of our tree are absolutely the handmade ornaments of paper, aluminum foil, pipe cleaner, and toilet paper roll created by our children over the years, Mama collects Hallmark ornaments which means the offspring receive them. (Those no longer go on the tree after discovering that cats climb Christmas Trees. Now they are primarily attached to the garlands that are not going up this year. When the lovies are grown, their collected Hallmark ornaments from over the years will go with them to begin their own trees. Ours? Will still be covered in the children's handmade treasures.) The girls and I made a trip to the Hallmark store after they asked about those ornaments. Faced with the clear indication that this was important to them, it was back to standing before the ornament display. To avoid my previous situation, I suggested a family ornament this year. The only one the girls agreed on was "The Corpse Bride". Really. *sigh*
The girls each picked out their own ornament with the caveat that anything dead or the representation thereof would be vetoed. It tickled me no end that Middle Child selected the fra-gee-lay Major Award of "A Christmas Story" fame. Little Bit went with a star of Bethlehem ornament. Loving that the girls had rather nicely represented both our Christian celebration of the birth of Christ and a bit of favored pop culture goodness, I was rather glad to see the new additions on the tree despite the dangers of not one, but two, cats and the pair of rough-housing dogs.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


With both sets of grandparents having been here and gone last week, life has returned to something resembling normal. The church's Christmas Festival behind us, kids out of school, and many of the regular weekly commitments are on hiatus for a couple of weeks... and yet, we remain busy. Not so much with fun stuff. Today's big misadventures included not only my trip to the men's room, but also an endodontist cleaning out the infection in my jaw (ew.), standing in line at a government office because my auto registration is due, and two trips to Bullseye Big Box for stuff I have forgotten on previous trips.
Despite a sore jaw, it seemed like a grand plan when the mister offered a pasta dinner out instead of my proffered nitrate-laden haute dogs. (The "fancy ketchup" makes them haute.) Since he left his debit card at the restaurant, we dropped the girls back home and made a return trip that is likely as close as we'll get to a date this week. We wandered Bullseye in search of stocking stuffers until the offspring phoned to say one of them had attempted to break up doggie play and been injured for her efforts. We headed home in a hurry to find the child perfectly fine, but possessed of a keen desire to bake cookies. The mister and I crawled into bed to watch "My Fair Lady" while the girlies baked. We watched t.v., and eventually munched on the fruits of our lovies' efforts. All in all, it was just the sort of night we all needed.

Attention Deficit

With all the busy-ness of the last few weeks, it feels reasonable to boycott productivity in these final days before Christmas. Still, there are a few last minute gifts to pick up. With that in mind, there was a quick stop at Mega Mart to pick up a couple of pairs of chenille socks and yummy lotion to pair with them.
Except there had been prodigious coffee consumption prior to the stop. Deciding that concentration on the lotion choices would go better without the extra distraction, I zipped into the restroom. The dash to the stall didn't leave time to look around. Exiting the stall I noticed something odd. Urinals on the wall.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I'm something of a gift person. If someone happens to present some token of affection that is just exactly right, they have scored a winning hit. It's not the cost or size of the gift, but the personal nature of such things.
For example, someone gave me a pair of skillets this year. The very skillets I have carried around stores only to put them back. Once, I actually bought the things, but then decided to return them. Imagine the surprise of finding them tucked into a gift basket with my least favorite holiday treat (It won't make me fat if I won't eat it. The family loves the stuff, and it was intended for them as well as my skinny jeans.) and two (published!) books by an author who was once only available in amateur online circles. This is not a gift basket to appeal to the masses. (Harry & David were probably cringing somewhere.) It was, quite simply, lovely. A basket of treats that say, "I get you." Outta the park, people.
That's not to say that I am good at giving gifts. Nope. My mother-in-law who genuinely dislikes cooking and only does it out of necessity and duty? We gave her kitchen related gifts for years. Having discovered only last year the inappropriateness of our past attempts, the girls and I cruised the petites sections of several retailers this year to pick out clothing that would both suit the MIL's frame, and that looked like her taste. Imagine the shock when she opened her gifts this year to discover an outfit she clearly loved instead of the usual assortment of cutesy potholders, fancy trivets, Christmas china, and kitchen tools.
It's not that there is a lack of desire to choose appropriate gifts. Or that I do not listen throughout the year for small hints as to what might tickle others' fancies. It's the pressure of gift-giving at Christmas. The compulsion to have a little something for everyone means there is not necessarrily something personally suited to each one on Santa Mama's list.
That delight found in a thoughtful gift received? It's a thousandfold when one is the giver of such a gift. That is the source of much holiday stress around here. It's the simple hope of giving good gifts--- fallen prey to indecisiveness, a pocketbook with reasonable limitations, recognition of some individuals' feelings of the need for reciprocation, and the lack of time to thoughtfully choose something for each individual.

Friday, December 18, 2009


  • My parents were in town for an early Christmas this week.

  • My in-laws will be here tonight for an early Christmas.

  • I have somehow managed to develop both a sinus and a jaw infection that will interfere with my holiday weight gain. Here's to the silver lining.

  • For some reason it was truly upsetting that The Boy would not have Chocolate Bread for Christmas. To me. And to him. Someone who is able when I am not made it for him. I heart people who are kind.

  • The house has been moderately company ready off and on all week. I like that, too.

  • My glass is half-full. And I think there's a refill headed my way. Woo-Hoo!

Oh, yes... the nameless cat? She is now officially saddled with Zoe Cupcake Sparklepants for her full name. I? Suggested "Jelli"--- as in Jellicle since we'll never really know her name, but I was overruled. Besides, she really does look like a Zoe.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Running from one place to another, there was a real squeeze on time, extra traffic to complicate matters, and simply too much going on for one day. After racing from one appointment to another in Neighboring Town with no time to spare, I parked and sprinted as fast as my gimpy knees would allow for the sets of automatic doors leading into the doctors' office building. An older woman was very. slowly. shuffling. along. the. sidewalk. She passed through the first of the doors just before I could zip past her. *sigh*
The initial flash of irritation and panic that I would be late after all my rushing passed quickly, and I stood waiting with the elevators within sight, but beyond reach without rushing past the woman making her way oh. so. slowly across the few feet separating the doors. Patience kicked in as I opted to stand quietly waiting while the lady took one careful step after another across the space between the outer and inner entry doors. I ceased to feel the seconds ticking as I imagined her progress to reach this point from the parking lot. Once she cleared the second set of doors, I went on past her to the waiting elevator in hopes the pair of drug reps inside would not allow the doors to close on me as the rush resumed.
Except the pair not only held the door for me, but the gentleman leaned out to ask the still. steadily. shuffling. lady if she was going up. And she was. And my patience was not required because another person was taking up the baton of Patience to run with it. Eventually, Shuffler joined us asking for the floor before the one where my own doctor was located. When the door opened there were two women waiting to board. One was a stranger to Shuffler, but she immediately stepped forward with a nurse in scrubs to assist Shuffler in stepping off. Stranger offered to go along with Shuffler to her eventual destination in the third leg of our relay. The nurse stepped in calling Shuffler by her Mrs. Name, and took the final leg to see the lady to her appointment rather than proceeding with whatever errand she had been about when the elevator arrived.
As soon as the elevator doors closed behind that scene, the seconds began to tick again. Pshaw. Banishing thoughts of time, I offered up a prayer of thanks for the opportunity to see a series of people choosing kindness over convenience. Patience over busy-ness. How entirely lovely. Walking into the office minutes later to sign in, there was a sense of general amusement to discover that I was two minutes early for my own appointment.

Monday, December 14, 2009


The UPS site showed that the mister's Christmas gift left the local distribution hub at 4:08 a.m. Mental calculations failed to explain how to avoid his receiving the package since he works from home. He mentioned that my Christmas gift was likely to arrive via mail. To which I replied that his was also due in, and it would be best if he leave UPS to me while he took care of any regular mail.
The mail came first. The mister snagged his package while telling me, "Don't look!", as he sped past into the haven of our bedroom shutting the door behind him. He offered up the wrapped package shortly thereafter, but I refused to so much as touch the box for fear I would guess exactly what surprise was inside.
UPS showed up next with the mister's goody and a magical mystery surprise package from JC Penney. (Turned out one of the neighbors had ordered a toy metal detector. I re-taped the erroneously opened package, and we dropped it off on the proper doorstep. Oops.) Checking the other box to be sure the mister's gift was both in there and undamaged, I removed the packing slip before resealing the box. Tearing off the shipping label to make it an anonymous brown box, I shuffled it to the side until I was ready to wrap the thing.
This year we are all about the surprises. I cannot say more because both the mister and our offspring read Mom's Blog. And surprises are no fun at all with spoilers.


One can only imagine what was said around the water cooler well in Nazareth a couple of thousand years ago. Somehow, it seems likely in my imagination that Mary had traded her normal life that was planned to include Joseph, a home, and their children for being a topic. And I doubt many were buying immaculate conception aside from Elizabeth, John, and Joseph.
I wonder at Mary. She took on the likely ridicule of sporting the best known baby bump ever, and in return had the opportunity to raise the only perfect child ever born. She also followed her sinless firstborn to His death so He could save us all. I really wonder at Mary. I can only imagine the kind of Faith that would allow one to put aside ordinary dreams to step into the most extraordinary circumstances of any mother throughout all of time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Open and Shut

It has been pointed out that most individuals would opt to redo something indoors, like a bathroom in winter and replace doors in warmer weather. Not us. We tear up the bathroom before it gets so hot that everyone feels perpetually sticky from heat and humidity. And doors? Well, we finally pulled the trigger on the patio doors despite temperatures cold enough to allow Texas to see an early snow recently. Because we can bundle up if it happens to get cold inside, but once one is maked there's little to do about the heat. Not that we run around here naked in the Summer with or without workmen on the premises. This is solely an example intended to clarify the logic in our out-of-season home improvement projects.

The mister and I tend to set a glacier's pace in our replacement plans. The old sliding glass door was installed when the house was built in the 80's. The seals on the glass gave way around 2004, but there were some hiccups in replacing them. We could not simply replace the glass, but would have to rip out the whole door. If we were ripping the doors out, then why not explore the option of french doors? It turns out that the hole in which the original doors fit is no longer a standard size for either a sliding glass or french door to be found in-stock at every Big Box Retailer. Nope. Big Box also seemed conflicted as to whether the sliding glass door or the french door was the variety unavailable for our patio entry and exit. Oh, and, just so we could prepare for the added demolition needed for installation of our shiny new doors? Head's up: the builder opted to fit the door in before covering the frame over with brick and mortar on one side and drywall on the other.
The new doors were delivered a couple of weeks earlier than the expected post-Christmas arrival. While we were in the midst of the church's Christmas Festival. Uh-oh. The installer opted to work Saturday, and "Ta-Da!" The whole thing looks rather nice, I think. Better still? In addition to the job being completed earlier than expected and at the price quoted, the doors will qualify for a tax credit. Bonus.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Eye. Em. Gee. Um? Maybe I'm missing something here... One more time? Eye. Em. Gee. "Idk" is, "I don't know." "OMW" is "Oh, my word..." Surely, ".IMG" is not indecipherable. Oh. Wait . That dot at the beginning matters. *sigh* I have been texting with Middle Child to the point that I can no longer read things like the indicator that a computer file is an image file without trying to translate the strings of letters into abbreviated phrases. Awesome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In the Spirit

Ah, about that holiday challenge? May I just say that the spiritual goal is beyond my wildest hopes. This week's prayers of thanks have been exponentially multiplied with the release of Rebecca Sehnert's "Make That Mountain Move". (Check it out on iTunes!) The offerings range from pop to blue grass influences, but the feeling is pure worship. Rebecca shared her testimony years ago at a women's event, and her faith is lived out day to day as well as spilled out in her writing and singing. I've been wandering around all week singing or humming snippets from the cd in a near-constant worship service.
The physical? Well, tonight Walker and I took advantage of the only night this week free from Christmas Festival commitments and rehearsals to pick up two miles. Resting the knee yesterday meant there was time for the luxury of an afternoon nap. Despite avoiding pie, I am still eating the treats that signal the holiday season like that lovely white chocolate raspberry cake. Oh, yes, it was worth it!
In the all important category of relationships, last night saw a reunion of women involved in ministry at our old church who have gone their separate ways over the years. In my heart, it felt like walking among giants. These were many of the Titus 2 women of the early years of the mister's and my marriage and parenting, some of those who lit the path I follow today and those with whom my steps are in sync. I was especially tickled to look through the photos at the numbers of mothers and daughters present. It was an evening of sheer joy.

The Women: In the Beginning

Over a dozen years ago, a neighbor told me all about her wonderful church, and how we could visit. Ivet was sure our toddler would love the Sunday School. (Since Ivet, the pediatrician, and the grocery clerk were the extent of my weekday social life, I listened closely to everything any of them said.) My mister was raised in church, and he wanted nothing at all to do organized religion. I wanted something. As the next weekend approached, I told the mister that I was going to check out this church, and that he did not have to go. That was where the children and I would be Sunday morning if he chose to join us.
The four of us walked through the doors of the middle school where the church was meeting while waiting for a building to be completed. We were greeted by a man who was married to a woman who would be an incredible blessing to our son in years to come. She was the only person to look at him in his toddler years and suspect Autism affecting his development and social skills. (How I wish she had been advising me in those days rather than the pediatrician we mistakenly trusted.) The Sunday School teacher handled my anxiety over leaving and Evan's subsequent hissy fit with equal ease and aplomb. She found something to compliment him on each week whatever his behavior, and she avoided criticizing me for the wildness in The Boy. The pastors did not tell us we were going to burn, but instead suggested we had an alternative should we choose to accept. They spoke of a sin nature, and that it could be defeated. The music was contemporary, and the band talented enough to capture the ear of my musically inclined mister. We continued to return week and after week.
In the loneliness that led me to seek out Ivet, and to accept her counsel, I signed up for everything and anything that would allow temporary release from our small apartment with or without the stroller. A women's retreat was held in a hotel near our apartment, and someone anonymously gifted the attendance fee for me. Seeing the women in the retreat venue, a yearning for the kind of fellowship they shared began to cautiously unfurl. Sitting at dinner with two women, grossly outside what I felt was my social sphere (who would later become two dear friends), I was enthralled by their camaraderie. The three of us had daughters born the same year in February, March, and April respectively. Peeking into their lives, seeing their friendship, I wished for such friendship. And I began to pray for just such a friendship.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


It all started off well enough. I dressed in double layers in anticipation of walking a good five miles in the damp and cold, but Walker opted out. Pleased to get a jump on the morning's tasks, there were quickly two of three white chocolate cake layers baking before the lovies were all in school. Then I realized the makings for the filling, frosting, and third layer were all on the grocer's shelves rather than in the pantry.
After relentlessly pestering Erin into readiness early, I wandered the house with my coffee cup in hand searching for the car keys.
Turning up the car keys just as the first two cake layers were perfectly baked, I discovered that my wallet was nowhere to be seen. The last place I recalled seeing it was... uh-oh. It was definitely in the console of the mister's car. The mister's car was miles away where he was sipping coffee at his weekly Man Meeting. Remembering an envelope of cash earmarked for something else, a resolution quickly became apparent. Jabbing the button to stop the timer, I popped open the oven door. Slipping on my oven mits, I leaned in to pull the hot pans from the oven. Down I fell as something very bad happened in my left knee--- while maintaining a death grip on the hot pans and escaping any hot metal parts touching bare skin solely because of the double layer of winter workout wear.
A couple of hours later, my left knee was in a brace that looks like a prop from last summer's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra for the next couple of weeks and pumped full of cortisone. (Well, actually, the doctor prescribed a brace for the other knee, too. Really, it was only a matter of time.) I was back home to stack the three cake layers with raspberry filling. Slapping on a coating of made-from-scratch white chocolate frosting, I decided it was time to take a teensy break. For the rest of the afternoon.

Monday, December 7, 2009


It's chilly outside. The landscape has a hazy overtone that speaks of winter's imminent arrival despite the still fiery leaves drifting from tree branches. It is sweater weather in truth, and a pot of soup is bubbling merrily on the stove. This is the sort of day when snuggling deeply into a quilt with a copy of a well-worn, perhaps even dog-eared, novel seems like the thing to do. And I just might do precisely that as soon as I knock another item or two off the To-Do List.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Not too many years ago, I would have been laughed out of publishers' offices for suggesting that a children's book could sell. Then came the incomparable Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling started a frantic scramble by agents to search for books about magical anything. At that point, there would still have been gleeful hysterics had I traipsed into a publisher's office with a book about vampires running amok in Washington state forests. Except that the young people who made Harry, Hermione, and Ron single monikers on par with Madonna and Cher, have grown up. Enter Bella, Edward, and Jacob. (For the record? Team Edward.) There are now whole tables of magic and vampire books at the local booksellers' shop. It amuses me to sit imagining what utterly improbable settings and fantastic characters will next grab the popular interest.

The single greatest factor affecting my enjoyment of these youth series? That each one has a nice, neatly packaged ending. Having spent years reading The Wheel of Time fantasy series by Robert Jordan who claimed there would be a dozen books needed to tell his story, an end is a real priority. He halted at book 11 to write a prequel. Then he did something truly incomprehensible. He. died. with. the. final. book. unfinished.

A young author (who hopefully has no imminent mortality looming) was found to take up the torch, and complete Mr. Jordan's unfinished epic. Although not entirely won over by this solution, I resolved to read book 12 until a fellow obsessive fan reader revealed that the massive volume on the bookstore shelf was not the last book in the series. There will now be 14 books because of the sheer volume of notes left by the departed. Because he was too busy scribbling his notes and revealing back story to get on with telling the tale he began spinning out.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


The tree has been up since the day after Thanksgiving. It stood naked inviting all sorts of feline predations for the first couple of days. Then the mister stepped in to apply lights, garlands, a tree skirt, and the star so the thing would look less pitiful. The girls and I wrapped gifts and tucked them beneath the largely bare branches. The cats continued their games in the newly created maze.
Last night, the mister and I put on our party clothes and headed into Dallas for a dinner out with his coworkers and their spouses. 3 Forks was decked out in all sorts of greenery garlands and wreaths while our home featured a half-naked tree. After the Christmas Party, it began to seem a bit odd to have a partially decorated tree parked in the living room. (Then again, there's a still as yet unnamed cat hiding beneath the tree in living testimony to my failure to meet convention.) The mister and the girls rather wanted the tree decorations completed, so the ornaments were applied tonight. And the whole effect really is rather festive. Especially with the reemergence of last year's pink flannel sock monkey pajamas.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Um. The spiritual, physical, and relational goals set on Monday? The ones that are going to lead to a Merrier Mama for Christmas? The fulfillment is not quite as I expected when setting the goals. Because meeting the people over projects Relational Goal calls for flexibility in the physical goal which would have been a major consumer of time in this busy season. At least that is the official excuse reason for dumping the walking goal.

What was intended, was to walk 25 miles this week, but the reality is that the cold is disagreeable. And my left knee is doing something tricksy. And there are a zillion commitments and appointments on the calendar along with increased errands. All of that to say that the 25 miles per week plan is hereby repealed in favor of sanity. There has been 100% resistance to the siren song of pie. (That's the goal I would most like to toss.) The abstinence from pie will remain, but added to that will be 6 consecutive hours of sleep per night.

The spiritual goal of making a time of prayer more about thankfulness than want is becoming easier. With the changed purpose to this aspect of my recent prayers, I have discovered an almost rote feel to my prior moments of praise, and I wonder if I would even have noticed it had it not been for this challenge?

The goal that is requiring change in both thought and action is the Relational Goal of choosing people over projects. Rather than making Erin unload the dryer, we played in the snow. Instead of getting in the car right on time to head for an appointment, time was spent in conversation with our plumber--- who, in turn, accepted a dozen tickets to bring guests to our outreach-oriented Christmas Festival next week! Somehow, even with choosing the people in both situations the laundry load was still done, and we were on time for our appointment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Today's skype download allowed Shelley in Poland to call so we could talk face-to-face via web cam. My girls had a ball playing with different features such as causing me to appear to burst into flames on Shelley's computer screen 2,000 miles away. Shelley helpfully suggested that it was a bit distracting for her to carry on the conversation with me periodically catching fire so that little function was eventually turned off.
She gave a virtual tour of her new digs in Gdansk which led to a discussion of how she could not really drive a nail through the walls to hang stockings or decorations with ease. I decided to show her the Contact non-damaging hooks we use on our walls. Except that when I jiggled the hook, I pulled it too hard. Way too hard. Because the "non-damage hook" did some damage. In fact, my tug took the paint right off the wall. It also took the texture along with the paint leaving 3"X1" spot of smooth drywall showing where the hook's adhesive had been moments before.
The mister chose that moment to reenter the room. Hand covering my mouth, eyes wide with horror, I edged away from the site. The hook was not-quite-casually tossed under the couch. Don informed me later that Shelley-on-the-screen-from-Poland also had her hand over her mouth, but her look was one of pure glee. There was somewhat strangled laughter on this side of the Atlantic and flat out belly laughs from hers', but I do not think I made a very good case for the adhesive hangers.


I am a verbal processor. This can create problems of the ranting, whining, or gossipy sort. (None of which is the least bit appealing, one might add.) Still, I need to go through the process of sorting through all the dirty laundry in order to "Get it all out," in the proverbial wash. Because failure to properly sort that stuff out can allow one's reds to bleed all over the whites. And the whites really did not have anything to do with the reds. Taking a moment to examine a spot and determine how to pretreat is preferable to rubbing it in or letting a stain set to permanently damage an item... or a relationship. *sigh*
Cryptic? Perhaps. The "reds" tend to be my hot button issues, and they certainly do bleed all over everything else if allowed to soak. If they hit the spin cycle? There will be an emotional splatter pattern of epic proportions. Nothing will get that out. Once the reds get sorted out of the pile, it is usually easier to run most of the loads remaining. I try to save the delicates for those moments when I have time to give them the attention necessary to prevent unnecessarily rough handling. Fripperies out of the way, and the last load will be whitening the bleachables. Then life hums along with the regular loads, free from the relational hamper created by piles of Dirty Laundry.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Picture Post: Flurry

It has yet to snow in Chicago this year; yet, snow flakes tumbled in their madcap dance toward earth in Texas this morning. The same child who is a chore to awaken on an ordinary morning fairly flew from her bed when the mister called out that it was snowing. With a brief detour by the closet, Erin was out the door to enjoy the all-too-infrequent snow flurries whirling across the yard.

There was not a child to be seen on the street except for those whose parents were already driving them to school. Our youngest child? Was out trying to catch a snowflake on her tongue. I may not be the most responsible Mama on the block, but the child arrived at school on time--- and supremely happy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Two blog posts per week on the way to Happier Holidays? Can do. Deal with all the boxes and piles o' Christmas decor and wrap scattered around this dirty house? Not so much. Instead? Throw a wee little hissy, then flounce out the front door toward Starbucks with Walker. Walker is also doing the Christmas Challenge, but she is doing it well. Which in turn inspires me.

After our miles today, the lids finally came off the Christmas Tree china storage boxes. Walker has happy memories of the same pattern associated with her Grandma, and that causes me to finally pull out the mountain of dinnerware. And because I remember my introduction during a Christmas Past to the pattern by my Aunt Dee who knows all there is to know about such things. Hopefully, the continual act of stuffing down my inner Grinch and bidding a "Bah!" to my Humbug will result in a brighter season celebrating our Savior.

As to the goals set for myself?

  • Spiritual: The biggest challenge in my Hallelujah! chorus is simply not letting my prayers become petitions when the purpose is to praise God. The goal was simply to honor what God already does rather than to focus on whatever I would like to see on His to-do list. Shelley in Poland provided all sorts of gems with news of the fledgling ministry in Gdansk, Poland and the team's growing relationships with Poles in their new city.
  • Physical: The mileage on my caboose this week is at a paltry 6 miles on day 2. Because it is cold. And I am a weenie.
  • Relational: The Christmas Tree china is on display because of its associations with people. And I will give Little Bit an apology for not making her desire to take treats to her class as important to me as it was to her because I ruled that one a "Project" when it should have been a "People". Because she is very much my kind of people, and treating her classmates was not a project in her mind.