Thursday, January 31, 2008

Friday Photo of the Week

After complaining about the wind all week, and my dirty car and dirty streets and lack of snow -- last night it snowed! (yay) And the streets were ree-aally icey today. (boo-oo!)

Anyhoo, I'm going to resort to the weather for the Photo of the Week. Because I doubt it would be very interesting to see a photo of me working at my desk. When I think back on this week, I think that's all I did. Well, not really. I read "The Ultimate Gift" by Jim Stovall. While not life changing, it's a good story and sums up life's most important lessons. I think it would make a good gift for a young person, so Joe, I'll be sending you my copy in the next care package;o)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Roller skates, Nancy Drew, Fabric shops

This past weekend, Emily spent the entire two days with her friend Jessie. Both eleven years old, they were joined at the hip, playing on the computer, playing up in Emily's room, walking the dogs, starting a dog-walking business, making a picnic lunch to eat outside. Jessie spent the night and they stayed up watching movies, propped up with pillows on the pull-out sofa bed, with the two dogs. In the morning they had bagels and cream cheese in bed, watching cartoons.

At one point, Emily asked, "What did you do when you were 11, Mom?" I had to dig way back in my memory bank.

Eleven. Fifth grade, Miss Cummings' class. She was a new teacher, somewhat reserved and I don't remember her smiling very much. But I liked her. My friends and I used to do the classroom bulletin boards for her, changing them out for the seasons or for different class projects. That year, the school had a mother-daughter fashion show, and she chose me and another girl to be the models for our class. We got to go to JC Penney, and we felt like we were on 5th Avenue in New York. The sales ladies kept bringing us different outfits with all kinds of accessories to try on, making such a fuss over us. We both modeled spring dresses with hats, gloves and matching pocketbooks.

Nancy was my best friend. We went roller skating together, wearing skates that attached to our shoes and we wore the keys around our necks on a shoestring. Nancy had moccasins and I thought they were just the coolest thing and was so thrilled to get a pair for my birthday. We went to each other's houses after school and on weekends. We made lunches of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with potato chips on them, and ate outside on the back porch. We played our records and lip-synched our favorite songs, like "Leader of the Pack" by the Shangri-Las, "Hey Jude" by the Beatles, and "Cherish" by Association. We also played Barbie dolls, but didn't tell anybody at school or they might think we were babies. We both had dressing tables with dotted-swiss skirts in our bedrooms, and her bedroom was decorated in lime green and mine was in yellow.

It was in 5th grade that my mom taught me to sew. I started out making jumpers and from there made everything from tops and pants to bathing suits. Mom and I used to haunt the local fabric stores (So-Fro and House of Fabrics) on the weekends, coming home with yards and yards of the stuff. And trim. Rick-rack. Piping. Daisy chains. Mom taught me that the style was all in the collar and the buttons. A nice set of buttons could change an outfit up to the next level in fashion.

I started my first diary. It was a small, red, leather-like one that had a lock and key. I wrote in it faithfully and much to my horror, one day my brothers and their friend stole into my room, picked the lock and read my diary! The worse part was that the friend was in my class at school and told all the kids the next day who I liked. I'm laughing as I type this, but at the time I was mortified. I remember running home from school, telling my mother, and the boys were grounded for two weeks. And they were so mad at their friend -- not for embarrassing me, but for ratting on them! That friend is one of the scout leaders in my son's scout troop today. I often wonder if he even remembers how he completely humiliated me. Luckily, for the literary world, I didn't stop writing, but did find a better hiding place.

I don't remember watching a lot of TV, since I was usually out-voted by my three brothers when it came to choosing a show. We had "only" one TV. I like Bewitched and That Girl, but mostly I spent a lot of time reading. I loved the Nancy Drew series, the Cherry Ames nursing series, and the classics that my kids know only through movies -- The Secret Garden, Bambi by Felix Salten -- and whatever biography I could get my hands on.

I made my musical debut in the school Show Choir. The audition was grueling. The music teacher rolled the upright piano to the hallway outside our classroom (we didn't have a music room, so she "traveled" around the school with the piano). The kids who wanted to try out lined up and took turns singing "Home on the Range" as she pounded out the notes on the piano. I was a nervous wreck. I kept starting before she did. I got a part in the choir anyway. I'm pretty sure everyone did.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. Emily and her best friend go rollerblading, share American Girl books, and listen to their favorite CD's. She's never cared for Barbies, but has a collection of Webkin animals. And now that she's eleven, I think it's about time her mother taught her how to sew.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What a difference a day makes

It feels great to have a weekend at home to get caught up. Yesterday I cleaned the house and did 8 loads of laundry, organizing and purging as I went along. For supper, we ordered pizza. One slice with a glass of wine tasted better than a dinner at a five-star restaurant. After supper we watched part three of "Comanche Moon", the prequel to Lonesome Dove. Emily had a friend over to spend the night. Dan got a lot done during the day, too, including replacing a faucet in one of the bathrooms.
Around noon, I answered the phone to, "This is so-and-so from the Winter Park Ski Patrol." For a second, my heart stopped. Luke was up there for the weekend with his Confirmation class and I had talked to him an hour or so before as he was getting ready to go snowboarding. They had Luke at the clinic, he had taken a fall and they were about ready to x-ray him to see if he broke anything. This is my accident-prone child who has broken a femur and a wrist and lost an appendix. He never does anything on a small scale. To make a long story short, he was okay, just very bruised on his left hip. Thankfully, one of the church chaperones is an E.R. doc and with my permission he took over. Having this guy there was even better than being there myself. Luke was in good hands. He stayed for the rest of the weekend, is now home safe and sound, and will most likely be very sore for a few days.
Today, I got caught up with paperwork, paid bills and went grocery shopping. Dan made tacos for supper (I do cook dinner occasionally, really, I do).
Now, I have two books waiting for me: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I'm reading for my book club. And the other is The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall. This one is for another book club at church. So, it's time for a cup of tea and some reading. G'night all;)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Photo of the Week

It's been such a crazy, busy week that I didn't take any photos. But if I could have taken one for today, it would have been a picture of the bald eagle that was soaring over the pond next to our city library this afternoon. Today was one of those clear, windy and very cold, Colorado days that made me wish I could stay inside and drink tea and read a book all day. If there's one thing I dislike about living on the plains, it's the days when the wind blows relentlessly. Thankfully, there aren't many. But, back to the eagle. He was such a beautiful sight to see, and it just made me go, "Ahhh," to see him gliding so effortlessly, when this week it seems I have been all about flapping my wings and flitting around. After getting home from dropping Joe off last weekend, I spent three days with my nephews while my sister-in-law was out of town. It was a really good visit. Since Dan was traveling this week, Luke and Emily were with me, and it was fun for the cousins to all be together, sharing popcorn for after-school snacks, doing homework at the kitchen table and then watching TV until it was time for bed. The two older boys went to a school basketball game one night, and had fun just hanging out. And for Luke and Emily it was fun for them to "get to" walk to school, because it's actually closer than it is from our house. And for me, it was fun to live in my sister-in-law's neat-as-a-pin, lovely home. I made lots of mental notes on how to get organized. She is organization personified.
During the day, I would come back home to work and supposedly catch up with housework, (which I did not do at all). This morning I spent the day packing up some stuff for Joe, including the graphing calculator that we thought Luke had at school, but was really up in his room (ahem), and a few comfort snacks. I shopped for stuff for Luke to take on his ski/retreat weekend with the youth group at church, picked up his rented snowboard, met my friend at Starbuck's, went to the post office and the library . . . and it was on the way home that I saw the eagle. Such a pretty sight. So, for the weekend I am looking forward to being home for two straight days even though it will consist of doing laundry, making menu plans, paying bills and generally putting the house back together. And next week, having these tasks behind me, I'll be ready to soar a bit. By the way, if you'd like a glimpse at college life, Joe has a new blog . Check it out.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Weekend Wrap-up

Lots of catching up to do today. The weekend went well. Joe is settled into his dorm room at the University of Puget Sound. We spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning making several trips to Target, buying books (ouch) and exploring the campus and a little bit of the surrounding area. Saying good-bye was bitter sweet, as I knew it would be. But it's only two months until spring break, so I'll take it a day at a time. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting Kim of Mom-Musings at the SeaTac airport before my flight home! She is just as sweet as I knew she would be and we had so much in common. It was so good to end my visit talking to a mom whose been through (twice) what I'm going through. I always thought I would love to have Kim as a neighbor over my back yard fence and now I know for sure that I would. Over our Starbucks coffees, we talked non-stop, the time went way too fast and she had me in stitches with some of her stories. She was so good for my soul and I boarded the plane feeling more confident about sending my son off to college and so happy to have made a new friend. I didn't get to post my photo of the week before I left, so here it is. It was taken on Saturday, and is the culmination of all the activity and my feelings from last week.
Thank you to all of you who left such nice comments. I appreciate all of the encouragment. Bloggers are just the nicest people ever.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Too tired to think of a title

Remember the commercial years ago that showed the fried egg and it said, 'this is your brain on drugs'? Right now, I feel like my brain is scrambled eggs. Tomorrow morning, Joe and I are flying up to Washington state, so he can start college on Tuesday. This past week has been re-e-eally busy. I think between the two of us, we've washed every item of clothing that he owns. We shopped for the extra-long bedsheets that dorm beds require plus a few other things that he wants to be sure he has, and not risk not being able to find them up there. He has done the lion's share, getting medical forms copied, transcripts sent, appointments made for when he arrives on campus and packing four suitcases to the point of busting the zippers. In between getting him ready, I have had a bagillion tons of work to do, hosted a family dinner and had to reach wa-a-ay back in my brain to remember 5th grade math, as Dan (the math person in the family) has been out of town.

I'm tired. I still have to pack. I'm also really excited for Joe, and kinda weepy, at the same time. You moms out there all get it, I know you do. And I'm really looking forward to Sunday afternoon when, before I head home, I get to meet one of my best blogging buds in person! That would be Kim at Mom Musings. And I know that if I'm sniffly and puffy-eyed she'll understand, because she's sent a couple kids off to college already.

I'm going to get packing because after that, we're going to watch Part II of Comanche Moon -- the prequel to Lonesome Dove, which was a great mini-series.

Have a good weekend, everyone, and I'll be back in a couple days!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunrise over the back yard fence

This was my view over the back yard fence this morning. When I raised the window blinds in the kitchen, the room was flooded with a pink glow and I saw this out in my back yard.
This week is turning out to be so crazy busy -- getting myself back to work, getting Joe ready to leave on Saturday and Dan out of town for a few days. I think I've booked every single minute. Thanks to all of you for your nice comments on my last post. I will continue to unload my random thoughts here, in whatever order they may fall. I never dreamed when I started my blog that I would find so many kindred spirits. God works his magic in sunsets and in the hearts of so many of you! I'm glad our paths have crossed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Focus, focus, focus

Yesterday, Joe and I were working on our computers across the room from one another, easily chatting back and forth about this, that and the other. Eventually we got to talking about something I had written in my blog.

“So,” I hesitated a moment before asking. “What do you think of my blog?”


I began to sweat.

“It’s good. . . “

“Do you like it?”

“Yeah. I do. I definitely like it. But. . .”


“Well, okay. I’ll be honest. It lacks focus.”

“Lacks focus?”

“Yeah. Focus.”

“Well,” I tried not to sound defensive, but I’m sure I did. “It’s just about my life. You know, day to day stuff. I mean I guess that’s the focus. You know. Just stuff that happens that I would chat about with a friend or a neighbor. Like over the back yard fence. Get it?”

“Well, that’s fine, but there still needs to be some kind of focus.”

I was beginning to feel a bit irritated, but he is 18 and knows everything at this moment in his life, so I knew I should listen. It’s like that with teenagers. After this, it’s all downhill as they suddenly have to start learning again.

“What would you suggest for a focus?” I ask.

“Like. . . I don’t know, if I were to have a blog I would focus on politics. Yours could be humor or something like that.”

I spent the rest of the day, and way too much time today, pondering over the idea of my blog and its focus. Or lack thereof.

Following this morning’s Bible study, I made a quick stop at Office Max for shredder oil, then detoured into TJ Maxx to look for extra-long twin sheets for Joe’s dorm room, grabbed coffee filters and asundry items at the grocery store, and finally made a stop at the bank. Focus.

I continued thinking about it when I got home, switched the laundry around, changed the bedsheets, and went out back to check on Dan who was busy mending holes in the fence so the new puppy won’t escape. I had lots of time to think about it as I cleaned up the kitchen, shredded a year’s worth of bank documents and sorted through the kids’ Friday folders from school. I continued to mull over ideas as I cleaned a bathroom, went downstairs to take something out of the freezer for supper, threw in a load of sheets because the puppy peed on someone’s bed which reminded me to run over to my sister-in-law’s house to borrow her baby gates so we can barricade the puppy in the kitchen. Focus. I put on a fresh pot of coffee so Dan and I could have a few minutes together to catch up and discuss some minor issues regarding the State of the Household, unloaded the dishwasher, and made a quick pit stop in the downstairs bathroom, stopping midstream because there was no toilet paper and I had to run upstairs for a new supply. Focus.

While in the upstairs bathroom, I gave 90 seconds' thought to what I will wear to my husband’s ‘post holiday party’ tonight. It was someone’s brilliant idea a few years ago to start having the company holiday part in January – when everyone’s calendar is clear, and I weigh at least 10 pounds more than I did at the beginning of December so that if even I had something to wear, it will be even tighter now than it was then.

After taking a business call and jotting down some notes, I further pondered the notion of having a focus for my blog. Focus. And I keep coming up blank. Nothing. Nil. Nada. I guess it just is what it is. The ramblings of a 40-something (I can still say that for three more months) suburban housewife, who has a need for conversation and to articulate any given thought, even at the risk of talking to myself should no one show up to read and comment. I have to apologize to all of you who keep hoping for something more. And I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for humoring me and sticking with me, through my aimless ramblings, the product of a pre-menopausal, foggy brain, that apparently is even more lacking in focus than I thought.

And now, I have to go “get gorgeous” and figure out something to wear!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Meet Coby

There's a new puppy in the house. . .
Can you tell? He's full of curiosity. Abby is not quite sure what to make of him. And neither, quite frankly, am I. I've never had a dog this small. Most of the roasts I cook are bigger than this. But, Emily loves him and that's what matters.
He's a Jack Russell terrier which just poses so many neat possibilities for names. Like Charlie Russell. And Yukon Jack. Or Jack Daniels (is there a theme here?) But the kids didn't "get" any of those, so his name is Coby -- rhymes with Toby. And it doesn't really matter, because he doesn't answer to a name anyway!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Love thy neighbor

Mrs. Kravitz popped by this afternoon.

She came in the front door and after we exchanged hellos, scrutinized my freshly-painted entryway.

“You’ve gone with an orangey tone.”

(ORANGE? I feel as though I've been slapped. The card said it's Tuscany Red.)

Then, she sees the new puppy. “Oh!” with a look of cautious disdain. “It’s not a beagle is it?”

(Well, thank God it’s not.)

“Beagles are naughty,” she says with disapproval.

“It’s a Jack Russell terrier,” I reply.
“Oooh. . . they’re so. . .”

“. . .very smart and intelligent.”
“Really???” she asks, with raised eyebrows.

“You know little dogs are so easy to box train,” she says with authority.

“Well, I’d rather he poop outside.”

“But if you box train him,” she persists, “then if you want to take him with you when you go somewhere, you just take out the box and. . . “

“He won’t be going anywhere with us.”
“Huh. I see. So, what made you decide to do this?”

“We’ve been tossing the idea around for a while. And Em is wonderful with him. I haven’t once had to clean up after him or take him outside. She does everything.” . . . ( and I suddenly feel as though I’m being defensive so I shut up, and she changes the subject, commenting on how the tree is down and I’ve already got Christmas packed up and put away. And I find myself being defensive again, feeling like a fallen Catholic because I put the crèche away, burying the Christ Child in tissue paper before the arrival of Epiphany Sunday.)

We say our good-byes and I close the door after her, leaning against it and wishing I could wiggle my nose and turn our cute little puppy into a pit bull. Just for a few minutes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I still have one foot in 2007, as I haven’t finished cleaning up after the holidays. The village is still up and although the rest of the decorations are packed away, the dust is thick and pine needles are scattered along the edges and in the corners of the room. Today I’ll finish cleaning up. I’ll come up with some kind of dinner to celebrate the new year. I’ll pay my bills, clean off my desk, start WW (again), and write some thank you notes. Then, I’ll be ready to begin 2008. Which, ironically, will start off with a series of good-byes. Farewell to Matt whose deployment is set for January 9th. So long to Dad and Carol who leave on January 15th for 3 months in Texas. Hasta la vista to Joe, who will leave for the University of Puget Sound on January 19th. And lots of I-miss-you-already’s to Dan as he returns to a rigorous travel schedule for the first few months of the year.

In the meantime, my thoughts turn to the good-ole topic of New Year’s resolutions. Somebody said to call them “goals” as it sounds a lot friendlier and more attainable. I always have a hard time narrowing it down to just a few. I know that it’s self-defeating to put everything on my list. As much as I would like to focus on losing weight, keeping a menu plan, staying on a housekeeping schedule and adding regular exercise to my daily routine, I also want to keep my desk neat, stay in touch with all my friends, blog regularly, not eat fast food, and be faithful to my morning devotionals. Equally challenging and just as important I want to keep my checkbook balanced, the car vacuumed out, get my daughter to school on time, and make my home a warm and welcome haven for the rest of the family. On a personal note, I want to read more books, finish the socks I’m knitting for Dan (no, they didn’t get finished in time for Christmas) and set up a sewing area someplace in the house so that I can start teaching Emily. I want to kick my correspondence up a notch by writing real letters to those family members who will be away from home this year, and I really want to color code my work files.

As a former trainer for Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Dan is an ace at narrowing down the goals, and setting up a plan for achieving them. The problem is I hold my list tight to my chest and assure him, I’m fine, I can do ALL this, really I can. How stubborn is that?

In the meantime, just to shake things up a bit, I’ve added this to the mix.

I need this like I need another hole in my head. But he’s so dang cute. This morning, Em came into our bedroom, puppy in arms, saying “He woke me up and won’t go back to sleep.” I opened the eye that wasn’t smooshed into my pillow and mumbled, “Welcome to my world, 11 years ago.”

Do you ever feel like life just keeps repeating itself? Sometimes I feel like New Year’s Day is like the movie “Groundhog Day,” and I wake up, every January 1st, with so many of the same good intentions. In a hit or miss kind of way, I do achieve many of them. Three steps forward, two steps back kind of thing. Never the less, I love having the clean slate to start anew. It’s like going to confession and getting the clean white sheet.

So, when my chores are done for the day, I’ll get out a nice clean piece of paper and a newly sharpened pencil (with a good eraser) and make my list. I may not probably won't achieve it all. But I'm grateful for another chance to try.