Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolute

A friend asked about New Year's resolutions the other day. My response was that none were being made in our household. At some point, there once were annual vows to lose weight, make healthier dietary choices, and the various other typical resolutions. These personal goals seemed to be made with the best of intentions, but they rarely lasted beyond the first quarter of any given year.
At least it wasn't just us, at least, not based on the overflow in local gym parking lots in January that tapered off by mid-February. That's not to say that all New Year's resolutions are doomed to failure. Middle Child's BFF #1 spent 2011 as a vegetarian for just such a resolution. So, knowing that some of those Good Ideas will succeed, why not make a New Year's Resolution? It's a simple enough premise: we set goals on an as-needed basis rather than to mark a date when the calendar resets. While there's validity in starting fresh on the first day of each new year, there is equal value in simply doing what needs to be done as time goes by to avoid having one big issue to confront as December departs.
2011 has been rife with recognition of opportunities for personal improvement:
  • Making the trip in both February and June to Puerto Lempira to be part of the ministries there, and to continue to encourage our sponsor daughters. 
  • Supporting Skater Girl's advancement through Basic Skills into Free Skate levels.
  • The ongoing rehabilitation following my knee replacements remains a challenge.
  • In the aftermath of an extended trip to Honduras, preparing for Skater Girl's first competition, and the initial period following the knee surgeries and recovery, there was a need to reconnect and rebuild many relationships allowed to go somewhat dormant over the Summer months.
  • Spending hours amongst teenagers to be part of Middle Child's world (and finding that I share her love for the friends who are among the most important relationships she nurtures) rather than expecting her to conform to mine.
  • Working out schedules to allow for the blocks of time necessary to make the trip to spend face-to-face time with the Boy. So, no, there's not really a specific New Year's resolution to be made.
  • Daily making the commitment to the Mister's and my marriage.
There is more than enough to work on in the day-to-day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Holiday Home Tour

Time for the 2011 Holiday Home Tour coordinated by Jen on the edge. The spiffy, collectible Hallmark ornaments probably made the move, but there's no telling just where the box came to rest in the attic of New House. The important kid-made ornaments are all on the tree. This is a vast improvement over last year's sad, mostly naked branches. (At least the lights, star, and garland made it on before the 2010 Holiday Home Tour. That was definitely not a given.) Not that there's a tremendous difference in the look of the Christmas decor around here aside from the less indifferent application.



There was a vast difference between last year's apathetic (at best) decorating and this year's day-after-the-day-after Thanksgiving festivities. Still reeling from the Boy's sudden departure from our midst, it was a challenge to find desire for anything remotely festive. This year, that circumstance remains, but we worked around it. Rather than a family affair, Middle Child's two BFF's helped fluff the wish-I-was-pine tree, draped themselves and, eventually, the tree in garland and ornaments, and generally made the whole chore genuinely merry with their antics.
 
Middle Child and the Best Kind of Friends


Skater Girl and Middle Child

 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ovation

Ovation has been running their annual Battle of the Nutcrackers. My holiday heart goes pitter-pat for Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite". There have been three opportunities to see live performances over the years, but anytime there's a televised version I'm either glued to the screen or at least letting the music play in the background. If we skipped the tree, cookies, and all the other hoo-ha, the one secular tradition that would be sorely missed is the opportunity to see the ballet performed and be immersed in the score.

A dirty, little secret: I do not like classical music. (That's a generalization. There are some specific pieces that do have appeal.) So, when there is a little something that I like, it's a surprise. Perhaps the Nutcracker's appeal is linked to the memory of dressing up in a so-unlike-me Laura Ashley fancy party dress in teal cotton that looked a lot like this:Laura Ashley Cotton Gown Party Dress Not being a girly girl, it was a rare thing to wear such a garment. The feeling of twirling in that dress is forever linked in emotional memory to the Nutcracker. Even now, with gimpy knees, there's an irresistable urge to give in to the occasional twirl around the living room in response to the Waltz of the Sugar Plum Fairy. So, thank you Ovation for providing a near endless supply of Christmas Cheer and to my mother for splurging on That Dress and those tickets for that very first performance.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Homebound

The mister's back home after a few days away at a corporate shindig in Las Vegas. We're generally not desirous of the bright lights and supposed entertainments of that particular city, so the trip was not one for which the mister held any anticipation. It was a good opportunity for him to chat in person with the New York and San Francisco counterparts who he usually interacts with via conference calls, instant messaging, and e-mail. His travels left him ready to spend the only day left of his weekend at home relaxing.

With his business trip, there have been no holiday commitments to meet this weekend. There was one brief trip to find a gift for my sister-in-law, a grocery run, and the delivery and retrieval of Skater Girl to a birthday sleepover. Other than those few errands, the past couple of days have been filled with sweeping, mopping, dusting, bathing and brushing stinky, shedding canines, laundering, organizing, marshalling the girls for bed/bathroom cleaning, and slipping in a little reading along with the DVRed episodes of "Once Upon a Time" that Skater Girl and I have been meaning to watch. (There might have also been a brief bout of dancing in the kitchen accompanied by the musical stylings of Middle Child.) Fortunately, there was church this morning and there's a Girls' Night Out scheduled tonight for a little grown-up time outside the house.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Building

Green Girl wrote about how girls like Legos the other day. (Later, I saw a Lego Rep at Local Discount Store who was female, and there was temptation to suggest she Google GG and perhaps forward that post to the Powers That Be.) I, too, liked to build stuff as a kid, and found happy thoughts of not only my brother's Legos, but also their counterparts Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys pleasantly populating memories of playtime. These thoughts have been companions for days now as I see grown-up places where that same enjoyment is found. Because I still like to build. I'm a mom building up my kids. A wife building a marriage. A homemaker building a place far from Stepford. And a friend building on shared likes, dislikes, and history. A follower of Christ building on faith. Building is exactly what I do.

Is that desire to build a Mom Thing or a Chick Thing? (Funny question since this thread was teased out of the topic of Building Toys for Boys.) Maybe it is ultimately a Creative Thing? For example: I love to cook, but am generally not fond of recipe adherence because that sucks the creative element out of the kitchen. With much the same attitude, as a child I was mystified when my Boy Cousin lined his bedroom shelves with displayed Lego Creations built oh-so-precisely to the specs in each set. (I think his mother used to dust them.) That's just plain wrong. There are so many possibilities in a box of Legos waiting to be explored that it simply makes no sense to trap all that inherent opportunity.

Opportunity may just be the key to the appeal of building. And to creating. The adjustability, flexibility, and possibility of those Building Toys, of relationships, of crafting, cooking, decorating, designing, writing, gardening, and just plain old Making... taking what is and pursuing what might be.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tidbits: Exams

  • That fall off of the front step last week? Yeah. Ow. The good news: The exam just confirmed bruising, but no damage to the implants or fractures. A little bad news: After the exam, the ortho doc removed a granuloma (scar tissue that formed around an internal stitch) that required a secondary incision on one of those still healing knees. Ow some more.
  • I flunked another batch of biopsies at the dermatologist as well. Last Friday resulted in four new incision sites between the biopsies and the scar tissue. It was not a day that should be repeated. Ever.
  • Speaking of doctors, December is always a little crazy trying to fit in the Specialists. By seeing them in December, each new year can start off without a legion of doctors and appointments. That's a desirable thing. It's also a time-consuming, sometimes worrisome thing. A thing that creates increasing gratitude for insurance coverage and the mister's employment as so many struggle without such provision.
  • The Boy may graduate. He's thinking he will complete high school with up to 15 credit hours of college courses. In the self-paced program, that's largely up to him, but there are other factors. I wonder if, perhaps, the Boy is again counting his chickens before they are hatched. Sometimes he just lays an egg. So, rather than, "Yay!", his pronouncements are frequently met with questions, a measure of caution, and, still, hope that it will all work out for him.
  • The local high school kids are attending for four hours per day with their exam schedules this week. Yesterday, the kitchen table was populated with teenagers. They are generally funny, bright kids who aren't put off by parents, and who welcome Moms to sit with them and chat the afternoon away. They do eat. A lot. One leaves behind an added link on the paper chain that reads, "The [Our Last Name]s because they feed me!" They feed us, too... with their laughter, their energy, and some questionable Spanish language over which they will be tested today.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Step

There was badness. A full-blown oh.but.no moment was achieved.

Yesterday, was my I.V. medication infusion. During the infusion there are copious quantities of Benadryl, Tylenol, and Phenergan administered to minimize the side effects. Despite having built something of a tolerance up to the med cocktail, there's still a loss of, ah, mental acuity. The fog is made more interesting by the sometimes still-gimpy post-operative gait employed in teetering about the house. This is a recipe for trouble, so there's usually encouragement to remain seated during the treatments.
The meds and the gait came together with an infusion being given on trash day this time. (Perhaps Gentle Reader is unaware of a deep, personal desire to put out as much recycling and garbage as can possibly be scrounged each week.) Sitting at the kitchen table cutting out strips of paper for our chain reflecting all that we have to be thankful for, I heard the sound of the trash and recycling trucks approaching. At the same time, the big bag of non-biologic medical waste came into focus spurring a race to grab the bag and beat the truck to the bins out front.
I made it to the door in near record time. Fumbling with the handle, my mister called out that it was already too late. Undeterred, I ambled out onto the brick porch thinking I could stuff the bag in the neighbor's bin if the trash man saw me waving the bag in an attempt to flag him down. Usually, the step off the porch onto the uneven, steeply sloped expanse of the front lawn requires caution. Except the medication cocktail, rush, and desire to reach the trash truck resulted in flight after the initial step down. One foot on the grass, and suddenly there was nothing but air until the concrete sidewalk came up to halt the body in motion.
After being told to avoid impact activities, it seemed like landing directly on my knees was probably a bad thing. The next thought was, "Holy-night-oh-my-word-that-freaking-hurts-are-the-neighbors-watching-I-can't-get-up-there-goes-the-trash-truck..." Stuck on all fours with both hands scraped (but rather glad they hit the cement just ahead of my unscathed face) it registered that the front door was closed--- with my mister and the nurse both inside still thinking I was loping along trying to discard my bag of trash. I called out for the mister, but it seemed like a feeble attempt considering the roaring of the trash truck heading off down the street. Another try brought the mister to the door, and he covered the distance from the porch as quickly as I had, but with retention of his dignity.

Both knees were already swelling. In the fall, a tear rent the knees of my still newish jeans and bloodied the skin underneath. A call was made to the orthopedic surgeon to let him know that all due care and caution had not been taken of his handiwork. Once the infusion finished, and all the owies had been cleaned and dressed, it was with a certain relief that I crawled into bed to sleep off the last vestiges of the meds and rest my somewhat battered body. Fortunately, this morning I seem to be not much worse for the wear; though, there is a heightened caution in approaching the step off the porch. Because that first step is a doozy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chained

Our church's Christmas decorations include a stage with a wall decorated in layers of paper chains. Using lights, the chains are made to look somewhat metallic, and the effect is pretty nifty. The finished result looks something like a textured painting filling the back wall. Here's a photo of the unfinished project from November:
Our family pitched in along with other volunteers the weekend before Thanksgiving to create lengths of paper chain that were used for the design. The task coincided with a certain truncated list of reasons to be thankful this year. Thinking of the list and the paper chains inspired an Idea. Each item included in The List is written on a strip of paper. Those strips become the base of a paper chain. Blank strips of paper, a marker, and the stapler are left out so that others may add links to the chain throughout Advent. On Christmas Day, our family can enjoy reading through the list to appreciate all the Good Stuff. Even The Boy will be able to participate from afar by calling in or mailing his additions. This could easily become an annual tradition.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Listing 2011, V

I'm kind of regretting the Thankful List. Not the Thankful part, just the ongoingness of the list. (It is so a word. I feel a legalistic need to finish. the. list. Next year, I'm starting with one so that I will be done when I am done instead of this silliness compelling a list of precisely one hundred things for which I'm thankful.

25. The resolution of next year's ordering of the list.
24. A calendar full of Girly Coffees and Girls' Nights/Days Out.
23. That today was our last regularly scheduled Sunday at Little Country Church.
22. Another of Those Moments when Skater Girl confused tourists with terrorists. (Imagine the potential.)
21. That we were not in an airport or on a plane when #19 happened.
20. Being Happily Married.
19. Grace.
18. In honor of #19, the list ends here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Listing 2011, Part IV

The post-Thanksgiving listing of the good stuff goes on...

40. The "extra" teenagers who joined us to decorate the Christmas Tree this year.
39. Staying up late watching spy movies with Middle Child.
38. The possibility of our first freeze tonight.
37. Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for dinner.
36. Prayer.
35. That Skater Girl did not refer to "butt dialing" as a "booty call" in public before we discovered her mistaken assumption that they were the same thing.
34. That first whiff of pine as we walked past the Christmas Trees for sale at the market.
33. Belly laughs.
32. The start of Track Season for the Runner Girls on Monday.
31. The beginning of the Christmas message series at church this weekend.
30. Jane Austen.
29. Contentment.
28. My daughter wrapped in a quilt my mother made.
27. The trust of my children.
26. Memories.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Listing 2011, Part III

Thanksgiving was yesterday, but I'm continuing the list of things to be thankful for despite Black Friday:

50. I'm thankful for awareness:

Christmas Conspiracy from Christ Fellowship on Vimeo.

49. For the opportunities being offered through Reach Out Honduras that will open doors to those who live in need beyond what I have ever known.
48.  My son who has the potential to graduate from high school early if he can make the most of his opportunities.
47. Renewed relationships.
46. Giggling.
45. My mister. (He gets at least as many mentions as coffee... they're among my favorite addictions.)
44. Ally and Susan for backing up the theory that pumpkin pie is breakfast food.
43. Literacy.
42. Leftovers.
41. Being left-handed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Listing 2011 Part II

75. Photos that capture an idea when words fail.
74. Buster and Maggie who always have a tail wagging greeting to welcome us home.
73. The machines that make multi-tasking easy. I mean you, Washer, Dryer, Dishwasher...
72. My in-laws who are spending Thanksgiving with the Boy today.
71. Inappropriate humor
70. Being surrounded by so much talent that I can make out three different songs being practiced simultaneously by the mister and his girls who are each in separate rooms.
69. Pie
68. A sonogram that showed no change in the Magical Mystery Lymph Node. Nothing to see there, movin' it along, people.
67. Our last reglarly scheduled weekend at the Little Country Church. And our return to our Home Church that's already begun.
66. Laughter
65. Gray hair
64. That my mister and I are still dating each other.
63. Google because it makes me smarter.
62. Jesus because He makes me certain.
61. The shapes Skater Girl's blade cut into the ice when she spins
60. Girly Coffee Dates
59. The Thanksgiving Team delivering food to needy families in Puerto Lempira, Honduras today to demonstrate God's provision rather than enjoying a turkey dinner with their loved ones at home.
58. Books
57. The mister making the coffee each morning while I'm still snoozing.
56. Big dreams and the bigger God who can make them reality.
55. For each time the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train.
54. The riot of color in the changing leaves.
53. Our monstrous Rosemary bush that grew from a single twig and survived a move.
52. Crock pots that make homemade possible even when Stay-at-Home-Mom is a misnomer.
51. That a list of a hundred reasons to be thankful will barely begin to cover all the good stuff.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Listing 2011

This week Green Girl has been posting an ongoing list of things she's grateful for in honor of Thanksgiving. Today, I'll start my own list of the good stuff:

100. Quiet moments
99. Speakers that fill a room with bass and sound that wash over one with the mood and emotion of music
98. Perseverance... the stuff that drives one to just. keep. going.
97. The laughter around our dinner table
96. Snuggling against my mister on a chilly night
95. Sharpies
94. The Birthday Girls: Denise, Joanne, and Lisa
93. Breakfast Dates with Meera and Sylvia that last well past lunch.
92. Kindness
91. Seeing my children try.
90. And fail.
89. And succeed.
88. Coffee
87. Grace that makes the untenable surmountable
86. Purple
85. Freshly laundered sheets
84. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
83. History
82. The mister's jobs that allow him to work from home and me to be at home.
81. Possibilities
80. Avant's short-cycle church plant team in Gdansk, Poland
79. Elena. Our sweet sponsor daughter in La Moskitia who prays for us, humbles me, and is precious in every way.
78. Claudia. Our feisty sponsor daughter in La Moskitia who challenges those that would help her, has a smile that lights up my world, and has great potential should she choose to use it for good.
77. The Waits Family
76. Ally, Susan, and Marsha who have adopted me into their family and treat me like one of their own.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tidbits: Preparation

  • Skater Girl's home rink is surrounded by excellent shopping. That makes the 6:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. skating sessions look really attractive for the next five or six weeks. That time of day falls before even the extended hours many retailers have scheduled. I just don't think I have the patience to navigate through the masses likely converging on the shopping center who are operating on too little sleep, time, and money while attempting to meet increased demands on all three.
  • Tomorrow, the mister and I will trek into the downtown area for a sonogram of my neck. There's a radiologist there who is supposed to have a great eye for recognizing Thyroid malignancies via ultrasound. The clear scan from last August was negated by some blood work, so we are back to watching the bump found in June for a possible recurrence of the cancer treated successfully two decades ago.
  • The assignments for Thanksgiving Dinner have been given. Our hostess only requested that we bring a corn casserole, chocolate bread, and the wine. It's hard to get much easier than a make-ahead treat, a single baked dish that's prepped in advance, and a couple of bottles of Reisling. Thanksgiving Day will be a relaxed one with great friends who have genuinely made us part of the family.
  • The girls and I are thinking we will skip Black Friday. We are unsure just what traditions to try to resurrect this year. Some of our humbug hangs on as we face the third holiday season without the Boy. The mister is ready to return to the enjoyment of more cheer, but his girls are still unsure how to get the spirit of Christmas Past into the present.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creep

The mister suggests we add a vehicle like this to our driveway:

    We can even put custom license plates that read, "CREEPN", on it. Our children have long referred to white vans as, "Creeper Vans" because every after school special and kiddie PSA on Stranger Danger throughout their early elementary years featured such a vehicle. The white cargo van is ultimately linked to strangers offering candy in the minds of my children.
    With the Boy of legal driving age, and Middle Child right behind him, vehicles are a topic frequently considered and discussed around here. This weekend the mister saw a very reasonably priced white Econoline van offered  for sale locally. He and I found the potential hilarious. Our kids were less amused. Okay, Skater Girl thought it was funny, but she's several years behind her siblings; therefore, there's little risk that she would have an opportunity to drive the Creeper Van.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Called

    Middle Child talked a mile a minute relating an update from the weekend's youth group retreat. As Middle Child spun out her tale, I picked up Zoey (who attempted to flee, but failed to avoid my petting) telling the cat in my usual voice (and unintentionally switching to the annoying baby talk sometimes reserved for infants, pets, and cloying couples) that she was, "... fuzzy, hairy, and super, super cute!" (Dear Heavens, at least I didn't say fuzzy-wuzzy or cutesy-wootsy... Ick.) I stood stroking the cat's fur while again informing Zoey that she wasn't going anywhere until I was done petting her. The hairball patiently waited to make her escape. Middle Child continued on to her story's conclusion. The mister and I laughed along with Middle Child at the circumstances involved in her story until she gasped and pointed at the kitchen counter with wide eyes. The cat found her getaway opportunity.

    As the cat sped away, I fumbled for my phone sitting on the counter top where I leaned while listening to Middle Child and cooing to the cat. The display showed a minute and fifty-six seconds into a phone call to our dentist's voice mail. It's entirely possible to hear every word said over the connection of such accidental calls. I'm just really glad that it's the mister, and not me, who will head into that office for an appointment this week. Eesh.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Receivers

    A package arrived today, and it could have been the mister's birthday gift. Except that it was not. This reminded him that right around my birthday earlier in the year, he brought home a bass guitar amplifier. (I do not play bass guitar. He does.) I'd completely forgotten about the timing on his amplifier addition, but he remembered because, just in time for his birthday, "we" have added these to "our" collection:

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Tidbits: Birthday Girl

    • Today is Skater Girl's actual birthday. Her daddy made the prediction that she would arrive by November 15th despite a December due date. Erin was obligingly born at a quarter to midnight.
    • She is already tall, but her pediatrician projected that she will potentially reach somewhere between 5'9" and 6'1" before she attains her full adult height.
    • She's witty, wry, funny, a talented writer with an eye toward social commentary and an artist specializing in cats, "...because she cannot draw people."
    • As a toddler she could not run three steps without falling on her face, but she could stand on one foot for five minutes--- only quitting because she grew bored. As a tween, she's discovered that figure skating is her thing. Skater Girl loves jumps, and only bothers to learn spins because they are required to compete at levels with more complex jumps.
    • Erin finds four-letter-words offensive. (This is not a given in her grade where many of her peers have mistaken Potty Mouth for Maturity.) She utilizes, "Cabbages!" in lieu of curse words and certain less socially acceptable exclamations.
    • People are sometimes confused as to what her name is due to an array of nicknames. The most common of these include: Skater Girl, Libs, Libby, Livvie, Liv, Elizabeth, Lizabeth, Lizzy, Lizzer, Lou, Lulu, Little Bit, and (courtesy of her elder siblings) Lizard Beth and Lizard Breath. She generally answers to all but the last two.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Eleven

    Last year, we missed celebrating Skater Girl's tenth birthday on 10-10-10 because, while we were celebrating early with the ladies in the immediate family heading to Honduras the week after the actual birthday, the party centered around the theatrical release of a movie. This year, today would have allowed the celebration of Skater Girl's eleventh birthday on the ideal day for such an event. Except that the party is scheduled for tomorrow. (And she's not a Veteran...) Maybe next year we can celebrate Skater Girl's twelfth birthday in December. I should mark the calendar to ping me next October so we hold off on celebrating until 12-12-12... Maybe a Twelfth Night theme? Or maybe not...

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Gone

    The mister and I have made a decision to leave the church plant we followed out to a neighboring community. The reasons are our own. The fall-out from the decision seems more widespread than I would have expected. After wrestling with the decision, it was shared with the leadership of the small congregation. A meeting that has gone on and on via discussions, e-mail, and phone since. The decision was made before the meeting was scheduled, but the process of leave-taking is drawn out despite the reality that we are already gone.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Define Skinny

    Post-knee replacement surgeries, I discovered that my jeans no longer fit. There was so much swelling three weeks post-op that my fat jeans could barely be wriggled over my knees, and the results were miserably painful. I sucked it up and ordered two sizes up because there was a full size difference between my regular and fat varieties already. Three and a half months later, and I am still alternating between the two pair of "fat" jeans.
    Not that this is a subject that really gets much thought. Today it became an issue when time to take Skater Girl to school rolled around, and I remembered that both pair of Mom Jeans had gone into the laundry last night. Oops. I responded to the misters calls for me to hurry downstairs by leaning over the railing to request tht someone grab a pair of my jeans from the dryer. The request garnered the response that the load of jeans were washing again because they smelled weird. Since the mister and I were headed off for a morning date after dropping off our youngest, sweat pants were not really a desirable option.
    Wondering how clean clothes could smell weird, I grabbed a pair of my too-small former fat jeans. (Which are now my skinny jeans because my behind grew to match the once-swollen knees while I was sitting around waiting to heal...) Expecting to relive the horror of trying to cram my post-partum body into normal jeans two weeks after giving birth for the first time, enthusiasm was lacking while pulling the jeans off a hanger dredged from the nether region of the closet. Hopping out of the closet while shimmying into the pants, it was entirely surprising to discover that they weren't putting up much of a fight. The zipper went right up without pliers, or even lying down on the bed. Cool.

    Heading downstairs, I was feeling pretty good about the morning's surprise size downgrade. I gave a little spin and shook my newly discovered smaller hiney. Skater Girl caught this move, and she raised an eyebrow. I explained that I was wearing my "skinny" jeans. She looked a little sick. I said, "Not skinny jeans like your sister wears. My skinny jeans. That's what women call the too-small jeans they need to believe they will one day wear again if they can just lose that last five pounds." Grinning now, she replied, "You mean those jeans that women say are five pounds away, but what they mean is more like twenty." I think we can cross Jenny Craig consultant off her list of possible future careers. She might be a comedian, though.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Questioning

    Hmmm... Someone asked this morning in a poll if couples have had a casual conversation about fonts. Um. We've had several in the past couple of weeks. So I responded in the affirmative. Then it occurred to me that perhaps the questioner wasn't actually referring to the type face sort of font that immediately comes to my mind. Just for grins, I entered the term into my browser. The first three definitions in multiple online dictionaries showed the following:
    font 1 (f nt) n. 1. A basin for holding baptismal water in a church. 2. A receptacle for holy water; a stoup. 3. The oil reservoir in an oil-burning lamp.

    Perhaps one of these top three fonts were what the question related to, and, if so, then I'm not so sure there have been casual conversations about any of them. Unless it was in relation to the use of such a word in a song? Or maybe we had some long ago trivia question about religious ceremony? Or a chat about historic light sources? No idea.

    On the topic of fonts in relation to characters of specific size, shape, color, etc. we have had multiple conversations. Most recently this hot topic had to do with selecting the fonts for our Christmas Cards and in relation to some options proposed for Reach Out Honduras related to changing the logo. Is this weird? Surely the first three definitions listed for a word are likely to be the most common? Why don't I know whether that last statement is true? Good grief. Maybe the definitions are listed in chronological order of use beginning with the oldest and proceeding to modern usage? I wonder about these things sometimes... Then I wonder why I have so many questions, and we're off again...

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Tidbits: Play Like a Girl

    • Middle Child pulled off a tenth place Junior Varsity finish for her freshman year. Better than the place and the shiny medal is the new personal record. Her previous best time for two miles has been stuck at a smidge past 14 minutes. Her goal for the year was to finally come in under 14 minutes. The 13:50 finish that closed out the Cross Country season dropped Katie's personal best a full thirteen seconds.
    • Middle Child has discovered that eating a whole roll of refrigerated cookie dough and washing it down with a slushy is a bad idea. It's a really bad idea after running two miles. Just FYI.
    • Skater Girl landed her flip jump this week. It's best to gloss over the topic of how many falls were required in order to claim that first landing. Don't let the twinkie dress and glitter fool you. That kid is tough.
    • We are putting together gift packages for our sponsored girls in Honduras. We wandered through Christmas-ready aisles looking at dolls and girly toys this morning. It occurred to me that I have rarely seen girls playing with dolls during our visits to Puerto Lempira. (Probably because there are real little ones to help tend...) Instead of a baby or Barbie, each of the girls will receive a new soccer ball. We have definitely seen those getting plenty of play time.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Cool

    Today it's eighty degrees outside. Overnight the local temperatures are projected to take a twenty-eight degree nosedive. (That sounds lovely compared to day after day of sweltering triple digit temperatures that dogged us throughout summer.) The timing on the coming chill could be better. It's especially poor timing for one group. Area high school cross country teams are set for their district meets tomorrow. Herds of teenagers with an absence of body fat wearing teensy little nylon tanks and shorts are all going to be outside for hours fully experiencing temps in the fifties. Oh, and as a bonus... it's supposed to rain overnight--- with a chance of more rain tomorrow. The runner girls at least ordered long-sleeve team t-shirts for districts. They are really going to need them if the weather forecast proves remotely accurate...
    Of course, there is one person around here who will celebrate the cold. Skater Girl is not only excited today about the weather change, but she is also celebrating the anniversary of her Intro to Skating class that fell on October 26th last year. We'll mark the occasion by getting her skate blades sharpened in preparation for the next competition. And that is cool by any measure.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Sync

    Climbing into the car, my phone was passed along as Skater Girl, Middle Child, and MC's Best Friend Forever (BFF) took turns picking songs to play from my recently synced iTunes. Unfortunately, the sync was not discriminating, and everything I never wanted was included in the resulting playlists. Our iTunes account has been shared by the whole family for years. Years that included a love of the Jonas Brothers, a nasty case of Bieber Fever, and the download of movie soundtracks featuring Disney stars and the Chipmunks by the girl children. Eesh.
    Stopping for gas gave the ladies an extended opportunity to peruse all their old favorites from the menu of songs. Perusal which ended with the Jonas Brothers defiling my speakers. Middle Child commented that she loved the bass in the car, and jokingly suggested that we turn up the volume and roll down the windows. She knows this is a behavior that her mother generally abhors. (I do not care what you listen to inside your vehicle, but please, please, please keep it contained inside rather than inflicting your musical taste on others.) BFF agreed with MC, and they nodded to one another and laughed at the idea. Their faces changed from amusement to surprise as the volume went up and the windows went down at the next stop light.
    They laughed nonstop as the car rolled on with the Jonas Brothers playing. I mentioned that Middle Child's name was displayed on a decal plastered on the back of my car as we pulled up to the next light. This news just brought on more laughter from the high school set. They were thrilled to see plenty of drivers with their windows down so the awesomeness of whichever brother was singing could be heard by all. As we turned into the neighborhood, one of the girls discovered a Justin Bieber song with plenty of bass to boom out of the speakers.

    Spying a pair of curious boys staring as we came to a stop sign, I slid down in the seat. One hand loosely slung over the top of the steering wheel, head bobbing to the beat, I proceeded up the street past the now incredulous boys. The girls in the car marked this new display of Mom Gone Mad with a brief moment of silence. Another pair of kids approached on scooters and joined in the gawking as we cruised past at half the speed limit. The teenagers were absolutely shrieking with laughter. Skater Girl was down low in the back seat trying unsuccessfully to avoid being seen by the kids stopped along the sidewalk.
    Once BFF was dropped off at home, we rolled the windows back up and turned on much less obnoxious music. The remainder of the drive was punctuated by residual laughter. There was no laughter from Skater Girl.  She only expressed horror that our observers were all kids from her grade. While today is proof that I will likely never be a Cool Mom, that's fine. Being terribly, laughably uncool is just so much more fun.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Vegging

    The mister's boss embraces a vegan lifestyle. Middle Child's best friend is a vegetarian. While the Boy and Middle Child would likely opt in for an all animal-based meal plan, Skater Girl's radar has gone up in response to the possibilities of a vegetarian diet. She's requested a week-long experiment with vegetarian menus. I suspect her carnivorous sister will launch a full-scale rebellion, but the idea holds interest. I suspect that this suggestion is not simply borne of curiosity about a couple of individuals' lifestyles, but also because of some recent community opportunities to increase awareness of hunger.

    A couple of local churches have recently participated in programs intended to raise awareness and funds for hunger relief, and that has brough the topic of the financial and ecological costs of red meat in particular to our discussions. One church suggested eating only beans and rice for a week to gain understanding of what it's like for those at Village of Hope to receive beans and rice for every meal. The grocery savings likely for many American households can then be donated to Village of Hope. Several local youth groups have been participants in the 30 Hour Famine in order to experience hunger personally while raising funds for another group in Africa combatting hunger. Pleasant Suburban Elementary is focused on hunger closer to home as the school children collect cans of fruit this week to supply our local food pantry. The food pantry also participates in an annual program called, "Scare Away Hunger," where trick-or-treaters collect canned goods. These different means of responding to the looming problem of hunger each has merit, and each one has been a topic in our home.
    Skater Girl has heard how more rescources are required to produce a serving of beef than would be required to produce a serving of grain, fruit, legumes, nuts, or vegetables. Maybe this ecological reality is on her mind? Or is she thinking of the children she met across town who rely on food stamps in order to eat most meals? Is she remembering those we met in Honduras who would not have had food to eat without the efforts of Reach Out Honduras and  Send Hope? Has she been listening to her mother's fussing over the grocery budget and comments regarding the lower cost of vegetarian meals? Did she overhear her dad saying that Oreos are vegan and ice cream is vegetarian? There's no telling what has ultimately influenced the request to experience a week of vegetarian dining. Whatever piqued Skater Girl's curiosity, it will make an interesting challenge to prepare meals to suit this family and meet their nutritional needs without meat. There is definite relief that she didin't ask for a Vegan Week.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Loose

    Middle Child wants to see the "Footloose" remake that hits theaters today. While PG-13 is our cut-off for ratings, and the movie does meet that criteria, it's still questionable. This was not one of those shows that had a Movie Mom or similar review posted the day before to help determine whether the trailers held the absolute worst offenders of parental cinematic sensibilities, or if the trailers were pretty tame in order to avoid censors while advertising. So, knowing that it's possible to use editing for both good and evil, the trailers were pulled up.
    The first trailer looked suspiciously like a teen Thelma and Louise with choreography. The second showcased the dancing. The third trailer was probably the most accurate reflection of the movie with moments given to the conflict between overprotective parents and teens (played by 20-somethings) who want to express themselves through dance. After viewing the trailers, it was agreed, with trepidation, that Middle Child would be allowed to see the movie because it fit the ratings criteria we have set.

    Ultimately, "Footloose" may be trashy. Or it may be a brilliant saga of teens and parents coming to an understanding. We'll know soon enough because Middle Child tends to give a blow-by-blow of books, t.v. shows, and movies, so we're sure to have a better idea later tonight. (If she ever wants a tatoo, I'll suggest a "Spoiler Alert" warning applied across her forehead.) Either way, there is a desire to say, "Yes," to requests when possible. There are always plenty of reasons to say, "No." Every, "No," seems etched in permanent teenage memory. So, tonight Middle Child will go watch a questionable movie. Whether the movie is memorable or not, the odds of MC feeling like we "get" her are a little higher.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Fevered

    Skater Girl is home sick for the third day in a row. I suspect she could have gone to school today. Still, there exists a sort of "Murphy's Law" regarding ill children with elevated temperatures. A few of the basic tenets include:
    • Sending a child who barely ran a 99.something temp to school will result in a raging fever that gets measured in the school nurse's office.
    • A child who ran a 99.something degree temp 23 hours prior to the start of class has 50/50 odds of being well (if kept at home) or of spiking a true fever (if sent to school).
    • Making a doctor's appointment is an effective means of reducing or eradicating fever.
    • Behavior is a poor thermometer. The same child who ran laps around the yard, spent twenty minutes on the trampoline, and then wrestled the dog into submission can measure a toasty one-oh-three.
    This is by no means an exhaustive list of the fever-related lore one picks up by parenting or simply working in schools or childcare. This does catalog the list of reasons behind keeping Skater Girl home one more day. (Well, not that last one. It's more representative than literal.) She appears to be over her illness, but she's been busy knocking out her make-up work. I figured it wasn't worth sending her in to school and risking the call to pick her up after a slight temperature was marked yesterday afternoon. Hopefully, all the other parents in her class have similar thoughts this year as we head into cold and flu season.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Humbug

    Once October 1st rolls around, an internal clock starts ticking. It grows progressively louder until the little details related to the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays have been organized into lists. Then the clock resets until those lists have either been satisfied or abandoned. The abandonment issues are relatively new traditions. Last year, we failed to actually decorate the tree. It sat in the living room with the tree skirt beneath and the star at the top. There may or may not have been a garland or two partially threaded through the limbs. This is a world of difference from the years when we strung garlands, wish-I-was-pine boughs, and ornaments from every surface that failed to escape. There were liberal applications of glitter and ribbon. Holiday table cloths sat beneath collections of Christmas Tree china. Stockings were hung. Holiday baking threatened the waistlines of those far and near. Christmas pictures were a Major Production...

    This year, the arrival of October has renewed the question of whether this year will be another Blah Humbug sort of year, or if perhaps we can see the reawakening of a bit of Christmas Spirit. After all, the clock has begun ticking. This weekend, an old picture of Skater Girl (circa 2004 at the ripe old age of 3) inspired the creation of Christmas cards a full month before such things would have been completed in the Good Old Days. The photo selected rather fits the attitudes toward the holiday season around here over the last year or two. (Okay, she was trying to catch snowflakes. Still...) That said, perhaps it announces a return to our family's once festive celebrations and the departure of the humbug.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Frequency

    Despite kids figure skating and running cross country last weekend, it was a Four Square injury that landed one of the lovies in the pediatrician's office for an x-ray. Skater Girl's best friend seized on a momentary distraction to spike the ball. Said ball caught Skater Girl's ring finger. The next day, three hours of ice time were punctuated by our girl squatting down to place her injured finger against the ice. Since it was swollen and bruised, our pediatrician saw her during "Saturday Sick Clinic". He informed us that even though it was just a finger, it could be fractured which might cause "serious contracture," and, if a fracture was present, a consult with a hand surgeon was warranted. Seriously?!

    Middle Child has a history of fracturing her growth plates--- especially in her ankles. So when the doctor took a long hard look focusing on Skater Girl's growth plates in her fingers, it was a little concerning. Fortunately, the girls could not be more different in this particular area. Skater Girl was pronounced fracture-free and sent home with her ring and middle fingers taped together. It was a a nice change to have a once-and-done appointment after our experiences with Middle Child who tends toward multiple appointments plus a series of physical therapy visits for injuries.
    Last night, Middle Child mentioned that her knee was hurting. Mmmph... Fortunately, she has a meet tomorrow. It's fortunate because she won't be running at 5:45 in the morning. Which means she will not need the first period of the school day for showering after practice. Our orthopedic doctor (the same one I saw yesterday for a follow-up on my knee replacements) happens to be leaving town tomorrow. As a result of his weekend away, he starts seeing patients tomorrow an hour earlier than usual. That means MC can be seen during that open class period, and that any sort of serious injury can be ruled out before she runs in the meet scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
    While I appreciate the convenience of Saturday and early appointments, patient service could move on to the Next Level. Perhaps some sort of frequent shopper program could be set up with our health care providers. Maybe every tenth visit free? Or perhaps a free coffee for Mom with purchase of a regular visit? This could definitely catch on as we head into cold and flu season.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Homecoming

    In case Gentle Reader is unaware: High School Football in Texas is a BIG deal. The annual Homecoming Football Game and Dance are an even bigger deal--- even for those who aren't particularly enthralled with the score board. Middle Child rarely misses a game, but eclipsing her enthusiasm for the Friday Night Lights is the topic on many of the high schoolers' minds over the last few weeks: who has a date and who doesn't for the Homecoming events.
    Middle Child planned initially to go with a group of friends, but that plan was out the window when she was asked to be Comedy's Homecoming date. Middle Child and Comedy exchanged the traditional mum and garter on Thursday night. They wore their Homecoming Bling to school on Friday and to the Varsity game Friday night. Saturday followed with a dance at the high school. Comedy scored big points for the little things like opening the car door and bigger things like confirming the time Middle Child was expected home.
    That's a friendly arm around Middle Child. MC suspects the boy was trying to avoid touching skin in front of the 'rents. I suspect that is quite probable.
    Comedy walked Middle Child to the door after the dance. (I made enough noise from my perch on the sofa for it to be extra-obvious that I was waiting up just in case there was any question in their minds.) While they were out, the mister and I had ordered prints of the pre-dance photos and picked up copies for Comedy to share with his family. He took his photos, and away he went.
    Middle Child proceeded to describe every aspect of her first "real" dance. (The ones in middle school involved herds of girls dressing up in theme outfits. That's not quite the same.) It's probably better that I didn't know before she left that kids at her school are "known for grinding". (*Choke. Gag...* Do I dare ask?! Wondering is probably worse than knowing.) She doesn't see the expression on Mom's face, which is likely turning a very unflattering shade of horrified, because she's rummaging through the fridge. As her one-sided conversation continues, Middle Child mentions that she didn't grind. (OhholyhallelujahthankyouJesus.) She sounds genuinely disgusted with the practice while also fascinated that the teachers didn't do anything about it besides looking embarrassed. She did mention that, "Comedy kept wanting to slow dance." And she was fine with slow dancing, but she really liked the fast dancing because it was so much fun with all her friends. (And I'm feeling really okay with slow dancing after the near-trauma of even hearing the word, "grinding," pass over the lips of my daughter. I don't particularly care if the fast dancing comment was possibly for my benefit.) It sounds like a good night without anything that would make a mother cringe. Whew.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Metamorphosis

    Erin spent the summer months at the ice rink. Not so little anymore, she's continued the metamorphosis from shy Little Bit into the more outgoing Skater Girl. Her self-confidence has grown along with her increasing skills level on the ice. She placed well in her first competition in July bringing home medals for a 2nd place finish in her compulsories and 5th place for her musical program from "Finding Nemo".
    The decision to compete again in September saw a flurry of activity through the late Summer as new music was chosen for the program and choreography determined. That led to a new competition dress to fit the "DragonHeart" program and many hours practicing both on and off ice. The new program and compulsories brought third place finishes in both events. Skater Girl performed very well, and she's already looking forward to the next competition in November just after the close of her first year skating.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Teeter Totter

    After avoiding the procedures for a couple of years, both knees were partially replaced in July. A few weeks were blocked out for the recovery period. It turns out that the recovery period is more like several months. It's literally been baby steps from waking up post-op to discover that getting out of bed was going to be a Herculean task. In the past week or so, the final "assistive device" has been put aside almost all of the time. Without that cane, my gait is sometimes a bit off.
    The mister says I look like I'm trying to sneak around. Assuming that the standard for, "sneaking around," is on par with a Scooby Doo cartoon villain that creeps about slowly with arms raised, he's pretty close in that assessment. Adding to the oddity, occasionally balance is lost and the creeping takes on a wheeling quality not unlike a small child playing at imitating an airplane or bird. Completing the picture, when tired, there's a lovely lurching gait when moving from place to place; otherwise, I just teeter a bit.

    The family has taken to announcing that, "She's had both knees replaced recently." They figure this will prevent people from beginning to whisper that I drink. All the time. Because that's pretty much the appearance. When the Homecoming Date came in to meet us before taking Middle Child out for ice cream, he was informed twice because everyone wanted to make a good impression. As part of the rehab process, I've taken to walking a mile circuit through the neighborhood. Toward the end, not one, but two neighbor ladies were doing double-takes as I careened through the final two-tenths of the mile this morning. Awesome.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Tragedy and Comedy

    Middle Child started high school this Fall. She whined and complained about taking Technical Theatre, but she will need a fine art credit for graduation, so she was stuck in the class. The first day MC came home and recounted with horror that Tech Theatre was a whole class of guys, a mute girl, our girl, and a Queen Bee mean girl. Two weeks later, our whiny girl is gushing about her favorite class of the whole day: Technical Theatre. There are the funniest boys in there. Hahahaha. Mmmhmm. There are two names repeated often, but we'll just call them Tragedy and Comedy.

    She spends a weekend texting back and forth with Tragedy relating selected texts to me, and we end up in a department store because the topic of the texts is homecoming. She's going to need a dress for the dance if she has a, gulp, date, and she will still need a dress if she goes as planned with a group of friends. She tries on the first dress, but it's ho-hum at best. The second one is cute, but it's a little snug on her so Mom dutifully goes out and returns with the next size up. The dress is perfect on her. She inserts in her message to the boy that she just got her dress. Tragedy asks if she would say, "Yes!" if Comedy asked her to homecoming. Eh?
    Before she responds, I explain that Tragedy may have been chatting her up to pave the way for his friend. (It happens. No one likes to be shot down, but, on the other hand, it would stink to go to one of the big events of the school year with someone who would just as soon go with someone else.) I then ask if she would be interested in going to homecoming specifically with Tragedy, or if she might want to go with Comedy. (I also warn her that this could be a trick question, so she waits a moment to answer him while considering the many possibilities.) She gives a careful, noncommittal response that leaves either avenue open without sounding like jerk.
    That same night, Tragedy nearly causes a fire in his kitchen trying to get a homecoming invite into a fortune cookie. This seems significant because the week before, Middle Child had posted her fortune from another cookie on her Facebook page. (Facebook would be one of the easiest places to get clues about her for a guy who has had limited opportunity to figure out her likes and dislikes.) He specifically asked her if she liked fortune cookies in the intervening days, so it's looking increasingly likely that a homecoming invitation from Tragedy is forthcoming. She will probably say, "Yes." Even though she has heard that Comedy likes her, he has not been texting as much as Tragedy.

    Monday dawns, and she (Well, we... I hope I'm not one of those creepy moms who is way too into her kids' lives...) anticipates that the day will bring a homecoming invitation. It doesn't because Tragedy gives what may well have been a custom invite for our girl to another girl with the same name two class periods before he sees our girl. His thin explanation is that he, "...freaked out, and [he] thought, she'd shoot him down." Really?! Tragedy is now marked, "Clearly Unworthy" after this disappointment. Comedy was absent, but it gives Middle Child a day to think about whether she just wants to go to the game and dance with her friends, or if perhaps Comedy is going to ask her.
    The next day, in the Drama Room, Comedy delivers a note asking if Middle Child will go to homecoming with him. (He manages to give the note intended for her to her, so he's already looking pretty good in Mom's book.) She accepts. Butting in, I also mention to her that it would be wise to simply rewrite Tragedy's plans assuming that he gave his invitation to the girl he really liked. In accepting Comedy's invitation, she needs to be sure she's not even a little moony-eyed over Tragedy. She appears to have accepted this advice along with the date. So, now it's on with the show.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Golden

    The 4th Graders from Pleasant Suburban Elementary have found a golden ticket! Well, a whole host of golden tickets. To go along with Roald Dahls' Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator reading (and an obvious movie tie-in as the school year winds down...), the teachers granted all of their students a "golden ticket" much as the group of lucky winners in the story's contest received. Like Charlie and company's golden tickets, the ones received will also grant admittance for to visit a purveyor of all things sweet.
    Of course, this particular field trip will also tie in nicely to this year's study of Texas History as the location of the family-owned Mary of Puddin Hill was granted to the original Mary's family after theTexas Revolutionary War. Can I just say again that I LOVE these teachers?! Doubly so as the iconic sweet shop will close its doors in a few days for good making these students amongst the last customers to visit, and, of course, anything that brings literature and history to life is a winner in my book... as are the chocolate covered oreos.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Robes

    
    Little Bit and Middle Child 2007
    My mother-in-law saved the Mister's and his sister's robes, honor cords, and the caps worn for their high school graduations in the 90's. In 2007, my father-in-law earned his Master's degree after retiring from his lifelong career as an engineer. We loaded up the offspring and drove across Texas to attend Papa's graduation. The girls were impressed with Papa's robes, so Gram broke out their Daddy and Aunt's high school graduation gear for a little dress-up fun.
    Little Bit dancing around her solemnly posed sister was pretty standard as our youngest gladly filled the clown role in her pre-K days. She planted the secondary cap upside down on Katie's head and proceeded to twirl and prance around and around her big sister. That big sister is currently looking for a dress to wear to cross a stage indicating the passage from middle school into her own high school days. It will likely be all too soon that the offspring will be receiving their own robes and posing for just these sorts of pictures again. I wonder if Little Bit will grace those future photos with her Happy Dance?

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Plate

    Busy seems to be the order of the day. Everyday. A blue plate special of heaping helpings of assorted appointments, meetings, commitments, and tasks. This is the norm for our household in the Spring, but this year the potential for lighter fare come June has been exchanged for a buffet including a year-round Cross Country schedule, a skater preparing for her first competition (despite the occasional tell-tale "Do-I-have-to..." laments of Spring Fever), the Mister's increasing craziness with work and a church plant launching in three months, the Boy's ongoing saga... and I am heading to Honduras in two weeks. I think it's time to get a bigger plate...

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    RSVP

    The simple art of responding properly to an invitation has been lost. Fortunately, Little Bit's teacher is British. (Well, she's a U.S. citizen as of last month, but she got to keep her awesome British accent.) She has invited the whole fourth grade glass to dress smartly and attend a tea party in honor of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding tomorrow. The class's homework assignment was to write an appropriate R.S.V.P. for the party tomorrow. Love it.
    Now to get back to watching Charles and Di get married over and over again on TLC. I cannot work the DVR, but the girls can so we will now be able to endlessly watch Di's bridesmaids attempt to get her 26 foot train into the church and speculate on Kate's dress. My mister finds it funny that there's an awful lot of sighing and, er, squealing coming from the living room. Anywho... I must get back to the countdown on t.v. that I'm watching with my youngest child who is wearing ice skates (blade guards on in the house, of course) to practice her arabesques while we watch our fill of fairy tale wedding while mostly ignoring the unfortunate end to the nightmare marriage in anticipation of tomorrow morning's festivities.

    Backward

    Deborah's Sponsors with their gift
    It sounded backward. Laura messaged that the Alastero kids had gifts for their sponsors. After all, the sponsors give to the kids--- not the other way around. Still, the generosity of the kids really should come as no surprise. I have seen repeatedly how a child receiving candy, stickers, school supplies, or hair accessories in gift packs from a sponsor immediately begins to share out their treasures and treats with the other children on every trip. There is a generosity in the children's giving from their "poverty" that highlights the reality of my own poverty. I see how little I give in comparison to what I have, and it makes the reality of their giving to one another precious. Yet, it is not only to one another that the children give.
    When the Waits family arrived in Texas to visit, they brought letters for each sponsor family and handmade bowls crafted from recycled chip bags from each sponsored child. These bowls are characteristic of not only generosity, but also of ingenuity. The Alastero kids gather discarded chip bags to recycle into baskets and similar vessels to sell for income. They can also use the same technique to create pine needle baskets. I prefer the rustic look of the pine needles, but both types of baskets are works of art. There is hope that the kids will be willing to teach Artist and I how to make the baskets during our trip to Honduras in a few weeks. It may be a challenge to communicate that we do not wish to infringe on their livelihood, but that we simply to wish to learn from them and to join in the continued development of ever more creative basket weaving. It is also my hope that the task will be a means by which to build more of a relationship with these remarkable young people.
    A small pine needle basket

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Picture Post: Steps

    Six months ago... Intro to Skating

    Three months ago... working one on one with Alyssa


    Learning her final Beginner Skills...Three-turns

    Mohawks

    More three-turns

    Practicing her Waltz and Half Flip Jumps

    Spirals

    Her first skating dress

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Tidbits: Mom

     Tidbits are all there's been time for lately. Between the normal schedule, friends and family from out of town, Easter, and Middle Child's Birthday, sitting down at the computer to type or edit photos has been far down the To Do List.
    • Little Bit's twinkie skating dress came in last week. She tried it on, and. I. squealed. like. a. little. girl. It was sparkly and floaty, and she obviously felt pretty in the thing. She endured a couple of quick snapshots before heading upstairs to roll her eyes at Mom's delight in seeing either of my typically jeans-and-t-shirt clad daughters dressed in something foo-foo. Middle Child informed her younger sister, "You know you just made Mom's whole life, right?" Which is precisely the reason why the kid tolerated the squee moment and the camera.
    • Both sets of grandparents were here and gone over the weekend. I think there are some pictures of the grands that are worth a little extra time spent editing. They have interesting faces. Or maybe I find them interesting because of those hints of genetics that trickled down to form the Offspring?
    • Middle Child turned fourteen on Easter Sunday. Wow. That was fast. How can it be that the weight of her at a year old perched on my hip can feel so familiar when she is growing ever further from being the Mama's Girl who cried any time I put her down in that long first twelve months? She was completely spoiled. And if I had it to do again--- I might not put her down at all.
    • Tomorrow will mark six months since Little Bit stepped on the ice for an introductory figure skating class. Sounds like a picture post waiting to happen.
    • Apparently our property values and the professional credibility of our teachers are directly linked to the test scores earned by herds of public school students. The e-mail bombing by far perkier mothers regarding the necessity of grapes, cheese cubes, goldfish/pretzels, and bottled water to ensure the success of the 4th graders on their TAKS tests have been clear that we have an opportunity to help. In order to not cause a new bottom in suburban real estate, I'd best get off the computer and get back in the kitchen to bag up the snacks that will surely prevent the dreaded Brain Drain from sucking our students' future success (not to mention our property values...*rolls eyes*) into an educational Vortex of Doom.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Wrestling

    The pocket book and the calendar remain key clues to the state of one's heart, mind, and perhaps soul. Asked to "wrestle with God," over opportunities to give to various projects, forward surged the urge to justify where both time and money are spent. From "mapping" potential income in relation to planned giving, the mister and I also looked at where we spend our time. If considering our family's projected giving over the coming year, it is not only the cost in U.S. Dollars, Polish Zloty, or Honduran Lempira that needs counting, but also the hours, days, and weeks to take into consideration. Our time is finite while the finances are fluid- dependant on everything from price fluctuation to job status.
    Despite hearts for ministry in Poland and Honduras, there is no calling to go live in either country, but instead to stay in our Pleasant Suburb. ShelleyinPoland keeps prayer requests coming across the internet and updates on the fledgling church plant in Gdansk while the countdown ticks away toward the next visit to the La Moskitia region of Honduras. Not only that trip, but also a flurry of activity surrounding the Waits Family during their current furlough between personal time and ministry-related events reveal dedication to God's provision for the often marginalized people in remote Puerto Lempira. Gathering for Worship services at our family's church, an evening spent in the front yard for an ice cream social with our neighbors, meeting in small groups or one on one, sitting alongside Little Bit as we share the task of helping kids with homework at an after school program, a fledgling prison support ministry, loving on preschoolers who have been placed in protective custody at the local shelter, playing bass and directing the church band... The list of places where, individually and as a family, we are called and enabled to serve God and our neighbors next door or across town goes on and on even while there are seeds sown in far away places. Pleasant Suburb is the place where this family been planted, and our roots are deep here.
    In addition to time, we are privileged to be part of funding ministry and charity in those places thousands of miles away where seeds can be planted out of sight, but not out of mind. We give regularly to share in the day-to-day operations of our local church. These aspects of financial giving and our times to worship and serve are all budgeted and scheduled just like the mortgage is paid and appointments are kept. Our calendar is often full. Our pocket book is not typically empty. More importantly, our lives and hearts are often overflowing. The time crunch of the often over-committed is keenly felt some days, and it is necessary to skip or delay some purchases to stretch our available funds. Those conservation activities feel worthwhile because what we have to give is not running down the drain but accumulating like so many drops in the proverbial bucket.
    The places where we must scrimp on spending time or money are so often to allow for word of God's saving grace or demonstrations of His provision to be shared with someone or allocated in some place beyond our means and availability. This is possible because of the multiplication of many giving from personal resources to provide enough for all. Without gifts from the many people choosing to put concrete valuations on faith and charity by volunteering, donating, and simply putting the needs of others in a place of worth documented in calendars and financial records, the whole world would surely be a poorer place.

    I wonder, Gentle Reader, what calls to you? Where do you find joy and satisfaction in sacrifice? Because giving seems a choice between self and others... and it is fascinating to see how personal needs and wants can be put aside in the interest and love of others. What does your calendar and pocket book reveal?

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Tidbits: Excuses

    I have been an absentee blogger. The reason include, but are not limited to:
    • Little Bit bumped up three full levels in her ice skating. That's the result of a whole, whole lot of time on the ice for her, in the bleachers for Mama, and in the car for us both. The twinkie skating dress has been ordered, and it is seriously girly. There will definitely be a picture post when she hits the ice in that sparkly, floaty, blue dress.
    • Middle Child's knee injury turned out to be a hip problem. We now attempt to fit multiple physical therapy appointments into days with no wiggle room.
    • I spend more time arguing with Middle Child than it will take to write this post. This morning there were 5 separate arguments before 7:30 a.m. The next 7 came in the half hour it took to drop her sister off for school, get her to physical therapy, and then on to school. I have threatened to charge her a quarter for every argument. Maybe a triple charge should apply prior to my first cup of coffee, too.
    • Artist and I have been reading and discussing The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns in preparation for our upcoming trip to Puerto Lempira. Stearns refers to the need to understand that over 26,000 children die every single day from the realities of not having sufficient food, clean water, or basic medical care. I think of every single child living with less than enough whose name is known to me and pray that not one of those will become part of that hideous statistic. I cannot wait to wrap those kids in hugs. Hurry up, May 31st...
    • The Boy's room is being transformed into a guest room with a beachy, homey feel. Soothing neutrals, chambray blue, and palest green fabric make up the quilt on the queen bed that was given to us to begin the process. When Evan called this morning, I described the changes, and he said it sounded like a room worth coming home to one day. How I hope...

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Maurice

    Last night I sat waiting in a coffee shop to be joined by a pair of ladies who were coming from a women's Bible study. I was reading my unrelated study guide when the waiter, who had already been told I was waiting for friends, asked about my booklet. He was politely curious about whether or not we were meeting at the restaurant for our Bible study. Explaining that we went to different churches, the conversation took an interesting turn as Maurice expressed his faith in God and in Christ but expressed that church was not really for him and said without saying that he'd been burned at some point along the way.
    Excited, I flipped to the pages in the guide featuring the following Scripture that felt right for Maurice:

     "36 Then one of the Pharisees invited Him to eat with him. He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house. She brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil 38 and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears. She wiped His feet with the hair of her head, kissing them and anointing them with the fragrant oil.

        39 When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him—she's a sinner!"

        40 Jesus replied to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you."

        "Teacher," he said, "say it."

        41 "A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, and the other 50. 42 Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?"

        43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one he forgave more."

        "You have judged correctly," He told him. 44 Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she, with her tears, has washed My feet and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn't stopped kissing My feet since I came in. 46 You didn't anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that's why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little." 48 Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." " Luke 7:36-48 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
    As he finished that final line, Maurice smiled and gave an enthusiastic, "Yeah! I know that's right!". I commented that I also identify with the woman of poor reputation and debtor who owed a greater amount than many other better people, and I am thankful to be welcomed into church so God can keep changing me. Maurice was noncommittal regarding visiting our church building, but he was interested in hearing about the internet campus. He said that sounded more appealing to him.
     
    After he walked away promising to take extra good care of our table (which he did), I tried to hop online via my phone to put in a prayer request for Maurice but could not access the Online Campus prayer page. So I shot a text message relating the details and asking Walker, who is shepherding the online church, if she could post the request for the online congregation to be praying for Maurice. Imagine my surprise when Walker messaged back that she and another friend were actually headed to the same coffee shop at that very moment!
     
    Both pairs of ladies arrived at the same time. I got up from the table and went over to greet them as Maurice was seating Walker and her companion. I laughed as I told him that I had sent a prayer request for him to Walker not knowing that she was headed to the restaurant. I also told him that God must really have something in store for him to be putting so many people in place to let him know that there was somewhere for him to be joining in Worship. He looked pretty pleased with that take on the situation, and I hope that he will soon find whatever place God is preparing for him.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Flunky

    Uh-oh. I flunked my most recent skin biopsy. I flunked the one before that, too. As a result of my repeat offenses, the practitioner took three small, deep samples to send off for pathology this morning. Two weeks ago, I was really tickled to have only had one biopsy when I fully expected her to choose two sites. Now, I am praying to go in again for these results in two weeks and hear that all the margins are clear. That the tissue samples are either normal, or that all abnormal cells are contained within the samples and the edges all the way around (the margins) are clear of anything but nice, normal skin cells. If that's the case, then I'll get my stitches out and go on my merry way for 3-6 months before having to be rechecked. If not, then there will be more surgery to remove more tissue until the pathology comes back clear.

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Museum Piece

    The Boy may well end up completing his high school education away from us. He's progressing in his new Home Away from Home. This feels like a half-life as a mom. Not a failure, but not quite what I signed up for, either. These thoughts are swimming near the surface of my thoughts of late. Not that one's offspring are ever fully banished from a mom's mind, but there are some pools of thought which are less often explored than others because they are too deep, and the danger of drowning too great.
    Perhaps the thoughts are stronger today because the Boy's 16th birthday came and went with nothing more to mark it than a brief visit to the school without so much as a candle stuck in a twinkie (There are rules about bringing in outside food to the dorms, but there are vending machines with all sorts of junk. Don't get me started...) because the vending machine ate the coins without dispensing the cello-wrapped, processed mini cakes selected. The absence of the twinkie was somehow more difficult to swallow than the inability to make Evan the red velvet cake he would have really enjoyed. It just seems so pathetic to be willing to settle for the shadow of a celebration only to be unable to even pull that off successfully. Or maybe those thoughts are just more potent because I spent yesterday afternoon hanging out in what should be his bedroom?
    That bedroom sits vacant in a mute testimony to what I wish. What I hope. What he did and did not choose. There have been conversations about converting the room to a space that can be used by those of us who live here in more corporeal form, but I resist. He never made that room his own. It still has the new ceiling fan to match the light fixtures in the rest of the house sitting in the unopened box on the floor because the mister and the Boy were going to install it together. The paint color was on the walls when we moved in, and he consistently deferred choosing another color despite several conversations about repainting the room to suit him. The narrow twin bed remains undisturbed by any but the old Bella cat day after day. The Boy's other furnishings speak of teenage boys in game rooms and locker rooms with a penchant for the color red. Still, I have stood guard over that room for months as if it housed my dreams.
    The behavior is not terribly different from a parent who has lost a child and refuses to clean out the room or let go of possessions. This has always seemed a sad tendency to create a museum piece to the frozen last moments in time with lost loves; yet, I so understand the why and how of it. My mister began to wear the Boy's clothes because he is practical, but I was horrified by this act of betrayal as if he had voiced out loud the possibility that our son might continue on to adulthood without living under this roof we prepared for the restoration of our family of five. As if he were really gone, and we were only four. And that was not pretty. Letting go of the clothes came only after a visit when the Boy stood taller than I. The pants that I so resented seeing on my mister would be a tad too short for the Boy now. I sobbed alone later over this evidence of change and growth... but also saw in it the reality that I cannot hold on to the frozen dream of being a whole, normal family in this place at this time.
    More than one crying jag, daydream of normalcy, hollow-chested desperate prayer, whistful wish, and brutally cut off thought unbidden have characterized the past months. Not unlike the Mothers with Museums, I grieve for the loss of What Could Have Been. What Should Have Been. Like those mothers, I am fumbling along trying to find the New Normal. To just be okay. Unlike those mothers, I have the possibilities of a future with my child to pull me away from the museum I would create to avoid the terror of forgetting a Lost Love. Because my love has simply chosen a route where I cannot walk alongside him, but he still travels onward toward manhood.
    Yesterday, I pulled the bedding from his long unslept in twin bed, stood the mattress upright against the wall, and the mister took the frame apart. We will drive these pieces over to be donated to another family's need this weekend. Later, the mister and I drove home in the mommobile with a double mattress and bed frame in the back and a box spring tied to the roof. We wrestled the bed up the stairs and into the shambles of what was the Boy's room. The new bed still needs sheets, but I have a sense of the look of it after draping it with the quilt and the pillow shams that will match the paint on the walls. The locker room accents look wholly out of place now, and will likely be the next items to go. I feel a pull toward completing the transformation of this space into a guest bedroom not in order to cleanse it of my son's presence, but because the space will reflect the potential for future use. The unknown identity of the future guests whose heads will rest on those new pillows may well include none other than the one whose presence I have tried so hard to hold static in the place that was never really his own. Perhaps he will retreat there one night after enjoying a slice of his mother's red velvet cake...