Saturday, December 31, 2011


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 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


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


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


There was badness. A full-blown 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


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.