Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A day in the life. . .

6:15 a.m. -- Alarm goes off. 6:30 a.m. -- get up, let the dogs out. The puppy can't wait to get out of his kennel. He runs out the door, hurries to do his business, so he can come back in and tap dance in the kitchen while I get his breakfast ready. I wish I had his energy. 6:45 -- get dressed, empty the dishwasher, put stuff out for ARC to pick up. Take Luke to school. We see our favorite Swainson's hawk, perched high in a cottonwood tree. 7:20 -- Come home and fix Emily a hot, nutritious breakfast. Take Em to Bruegger's for a bagel and orange juice. Drop her off at school. Breathe a sigh of relief as she runs off to greet her friends. She loves her school. I love that I have six and a half hours until I have to start my rounds and pick up the kids again. 8:10 -- Pick up coffee at Starbuck's. 8:20 -- Throw in a load of laundry, put the puppy down for a nap in his kennel. Check e-mail. Start working. Work for several hours, uninterrupted. Switch laundry as needed. Let puppy in, then out, then in, then out in the back yard for good. 12:45 -- take a break for lunch and take Abby for a walk. It's 58 degrees and gorgeous outside! The snow-covered mountains are painted against a clear blue sky. I soak up the vitamin D. 1:30 - Dan calls to check in. We find it's a good time of day to touch base with one another. He'll call again tonight to talk to the kids. 2:15 -- Finish work and read a couple blogs before heading off to pick up Emily and then Luke. 3:15 -- homework, piano practice, why does the time from now until 5:00 seem like the bewitching hour? It is my least favorite time of the day. Kids are cranky and fighting over a bottle of juice, for heaven's sake. I banish them to separate ends of the house and go to my refuge in the laundry room, where there's always something to fold or sort and the hum of the machines drown out the rest of the house. 5:00 -- Sip a glass of wine on the back porch swing, soaking in the beautiful day, knowing the warm weather will come and go in the next couple of months. Dream about summer. 5:30 -- Fix supper -- baked chicken thighs, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans.

6:45 -- Head off to my book club meeting where we all wonder about the acclaim for Eat, Pray, Love. Not one single person finished it -- well, given that only two of us started it, I guess that's not saying much. Not one of our better book club meetings, but we salvage the night by discussing other books we've read and numerous other topics that women seem to fall into easily enough.

9:00 -- home to a quiet house. Emily is already asleep, Luke is trying to stay awake until I get home. Watch the news. Get caught up in a movie called "Shallow Hal" with Jack Black and Gwynth Paltrow. Stay up way to late, because I have to see how it ends. (Spoiler ahead: He gets the girl).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Soul Sisters

This morning I met with my Bible Study group and, as so often happens, I come home feeling high as kite. I love these friends so dearly. Most of us have known one another since our oldest children started kindergarten. We mostly met through the Mom's Group at our church which is called Time Out For Friendship. A few of us started as members, served as board members through the years, and we all gained so much from the fellowship that we shared twice a month, with other stay-at-home-moms of young children. At that time in my life, that group was my saving grace. I learned so much, shared so much, and felt a part of something that helped me see that staying home with my children was not just a choice and a privilege, but my ministry. As our children grew, we decided to form a paryer group to support one another through the new challenges and phases that come with raising older kids. We've been meeting for eight years now, once a week, and while the location and day of the week has changed to accomodate the group as people have gone back to work or had other changes in their lives, the comaraderie in the group remains the same. Sometimes there are all nine of us meeting together, sometimes it might be three or four. We have supported each other as our kids have grown, through two of our members losing their husbands, and through one member's chronic illness. We've made meals to feed one another's families, carpooled each other's kids and prayed one another through. Some of our children have become one another's best friend. Some of us have formed good relationships with each other's children so that, when Mom just doesn't get what's going on in this kid's head, our friend can offer some insight. One woman in our group is my son's Confirmation sponsor. We've shared the seasons of marriage with one another and some are already preparing to face the challenges that come with caring for aging parents. When our kids were younger, our convictions were strong and we were more certain as to how they would be raised. We read books, looked at older kids and felt confident that if we just followed the right advice, the right path, our kids would stay on the straight and narrow, no matter what. As our kids have grown and we have the knowledge of experience, we've loosened our grip, accepted that nothing goes according to plan and prayed all the harder, knowing that sometimes that's all you can do as your children follow their own path. We laugh about how, someday, we'll be in the Purple Hat Society. Some think it's silly, others think it would be kind of cool, but we all agree that the friendship we share is lifelong and that we couldn't be who we are without our girlfriends. I'm reminded of a passage written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I can't remember if it was in Gift from the Sea or one of her other books. But, she talks about the importance of girlfriends in your life, those that know you so well. They remind you of who you are, that person deep inside, the core, the "stick straight" of you that holds the rest up. I love that. Because, after I've been with my girlfriends, so often I return to my family and I feel I have something more, something better to offer them. I feel renewed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be mine?

I've read a couple of newspaper articles and blog posts today that poo-poo the whole idea of a commercial, Hallmark-induced holiday for couples to profess their love to one another. And I say that's fine. It's a free country. Some people don't get into the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, buying cards (either funny or romantic), or bouquets of roses, just because the calendar tells them it's time. And some do, so if you do, enjoy! I hope you've found a guy in your life that understands that and will indulge you. Personally, I love Valentine's Day. I love seeing the stores decorated with big red hearts, the little candies with the fun sayings on them, the thought of some bare-butt little cupid flying around looking to strike love in the hearts of the unsuspecting. And I love that my guy knows that I love Valentine's Day;) I just love holidays and I like to see how other people get into the spirit of things and have a good time with it. It's like standing in line at the grocery store a couple days before Thanksgiving, everyone with their carts loaded up to make their favorite, traditional foods. It feels like we're all family. One of my favorite moments today was when I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things. In the front of the store were big bouqets of roses, giant heart-shaped helium balloons floating about and rows of Valentine cards on display. A dozen men were hunched over the card racks, looking for just the right card to present to their Valentines. I like to think they were searching for just the right sentiment to express what they themselves could not put into words for their loved one. Perhaps they were just looking for a card to bail them out on yet another holiday. I don't know. But it was just so touching to see them all -- big ones, short ones, one in a suit, and about half a dozen that looked like they had just got off work from a construction job in their heavy coats, mud-spattered boots and jeans. One construction guy grasped a huge bouquet of roses in his big calloused hand, a big card in the other and was asking the clerk, "where are the boxes of chocolates?" He himself looked like a big Teddy bear and, better still, like he was really enjoying this. Now, what woman would not be thrilled to see him coming through the front door tonight? A lot of people don't need an excuse to give flowers or send a card to say "I love you." I think that maybe the beauty of Valentine's Day is that it allows those who have a hard time being romantic to let go of their inner cupid. It's a good time for someone who needs a gentle nudge to, go on, buy the girl some flowers, bake the guy some heart-shaped muffins, be a little silly. It's Valentine's Day for heaven's sake. And for those who do these things year round, it can be one more day to have fun with it. However you choose to celebrate, it's really all about spreading the love. So enjoy;)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh, yeah, we got milk!

I guess I didn't realize that having a milkman is such a novelty these days. It is pretty cool to start out the week with fresh milk, delivered right to the front door. As busy as we are on the weekend, on Monday, as we start the new week, there will be milk for cereal in the morning and fresh cream for the coffee. A couple things have changed over the years, since I remember getting milk delivered to our house when I was growing up. Our milk box is a Coleman-style cooler and it was about a year ago that the bottle caps changed from the foil tops with the little cardboard circles in the middle to the plastic caps we have now. As to whether or not the milkman wears a white suit, Robin, I honestly don't know because I've never seen him! He comes in the dark of night. Once in a while I may wake up at 4 in the morning and hear the bottles clinking as he puts them in the box, and then listen to the truck drive away. But, I have no idea what he looks like, even though I consider him to be one of the most faithful men in my life. He never fails me. He is as constant as the northern star. Every.single.Monday.morning. Even on holidays -- Christmas morning, even!, I know he'll show up! One year, we were remodeling our front porch. The old cement stoop had been torn up, but nothing had been put down to replace it yet. It was just dirt. That Monday morning, the milk box had been dragged from around the corner, put in it's usual spot with three half-gallons of milk. The dairy is fairly close to where we live and a couple of my kids have visited it. They have a newsletter that comes once a month, so we see pictures of the new calves and there are lots of recipes that call for dairy products. The company also delivers cheese, cookie dough, orange juice and some of the best egg nog you've ever tasted at Christmas time. And if you think the milk bottles are cool, get a load of this cute, pudgy, pint-sized half-n-half bottle! I remember growing up when my aunt and uncle lived in Cleveland in a 1940s style house. They had a milk box built into the house, with a door on the outside and one on the inside, in the kitchen. We thought it was the neatest thing. (They also had a laundry shoot, and boy did we have fun throwing things -- and small kids -- down that). When I was growing up and there were four teenagers in our house, we drank milk like there was no tomorrow. My mom used to buy the powdered stuff, mix it up, and cut it into our "real" milk half and half. She really knew how to stretch a dollar and we drank it so fast, we hardly noticed. In my last post, my uncle left a comment about how he and my mom used to walk to the store to buy milk when they were kids. I remember my mom telling me how she remembered a time when things were pretty tight and the family could only afford a bottle of milk which was for the baby. And a little kid stealing the bottle of milk one morning from their doorstep. They watched him running around the corner with it. My grandmother's comment was that he probably needed it more than they did. When I think of that story, my heart just sinks, for those mothers who wonder each day how they will feed their kids. How blessed I am to have milk, in abundance, brought right to my house.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Got milk?

I'm still getting used to having one less kid around the house. For years, our standard order from the milkman has been 3 half-gallon bottles of 1% milk every Monday morning. During the week, I'll buy another gallon of milk at the store, and this will usually keep us in supply for the week. Although, there have been times when I thought it would just be easier to have a milk cow in the back yard.

I guess you can figure out who has been drinking all the milk around here. Nowadays, we're hard pressed to get through the three half-gallon bottles. I'm a little disappointed. I always thought it might be kinda fun to have a cow.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Blogging Awards & Tags

It's time to do some housekeeping around here and get caught up with some of my friends. In the past few weeks, I've been given two blogging awards. The first is from my friend, Xandra. I love this button and the sentiment behind it. I think you're loveable, too, Xandra! I know I sure love reading your blog!

And this one is from Lynne, and it's just the friendliest button don't you think? Because "daisies are just the friendliest flowers, don't you think?" (Meg Ryan, You've Got Mail).

I can't wait to put both of these buttons on my sidebar. As soon as I figure out how to size them correctly. One of the disadvantages to having had a blog designed professionally is that I have a heck of a time making changes on the sidebar. If anyone has any tips, I'd sure appreciate it. I guess I could check out Blogging 101, too, if I wasn't so lazy! Anyway, I cleaned house a few months back and removed some of the old stuff. So it will be nice to have some new things to spruce it up a bit! Thanks, gals!

And Tristi has tagged me for a meme. It's great timing, because I just haven't had the heart for blogging this week. Real life has been sapping my energy, so it's nice to do this and have a chance to reflect on why I love blogging so much. Thanks, Tristi!

Here goes:

How long have you been blogging? One year next week! I have an anniversary coming up:)

What inspired you to start your blog, and who are your mentors? Wow, Tristi, I'm so flattered that you named me for this;) I can't, for the life of me, figure out how I even learned about blogging. I must have been surfing around and just fell into this big old pond. The bloggers who I feel inspired me to start my own are Bev at Scratchin' the Surface, her sister, Barb, at A Chelsea Morning, and Lynne at Lynne's Little Corner of the World.

Are you trying to make money online, or are you doing it just for fun? I can't imagine getting paid for this. I know there are blogs that generate a lot of traffic that get paid for advertising, but I do this just for fun.

What three things do you love about being online?

1. I would agree with Tristi, I love the social network. Since I'm a work-from-home/stay-at-home mom, I started my blog as a way of meeting other moms in the "cyberspace neighborhood", so we can chat and exchange ideas. Kind of the old-timey way of chatting over the back yard fence.

2. I love creating my own little "newsletter" about what's going on in my life. When I had a "real" job, it was largely creating publications and communications materials for a company. I loved the human element of my job, writing articles about employees. I guess that's more of a response to why I like to blog than to be online.

3. As for being on line, I'm not a techie-type person at.all. But it just thrills me that I can do this! I can put photos on my blog, I can change the font when I want to, I can add cool colors, I can even emphasize my point. Wow, I'm getting so good at all this.

Chat and IM?I don't chat or IM. I'd rather talk on the phone if I'm going to have a direct conversation with someone. I've turned off the IM feature online because it's like being a slave to the telephone. I don't want to answer it just because it's ringing.

I'm going to tag a few of the people that I visit everyday. Play along if you want to -- no obligation! Xandra, Lynne, Kim,