Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Josh's Pond

It was frosty and cold this morning when Abby and I started out on our morning walk. This afternoon, it's in the 70s and we expect more of the same this week. I love the early mornings when the chill in the air makes the colors appear more vivid. I'm sure there's some kind of science to all that. But,

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today. . . .
Outside my Window...Jack Frost has painted the roof tops. It's a bright, sunny day and the aspen trees outside my window shiver in the breeze.
I am thinking...Another week spread out before me. So much possibility!
I am thankful for...free long distance service and e-mail, that make it possible to keep in touch with Joe as often as we like. Gone are the days when I had to count the minutes or worry about a phone bill at the end of the month.
From the kitchen...spaghetti sauce from the freezer is thawing on the counter. A few cupcakes are left over from a weekend Halloween party.
I am wearing...jeans, flannel shirt and sneakers.
I am reading...just finished Those Who Save Us. I have a couple of new books on my TBR pile. Not sure what I'll pick up next.
I am hoping...the Rays win tonight.
I am creating...a Christmas organization notebook. I've started some online shopping and ordered my Christmas cards yesterday.
I am hearing. . . a Beatles song on the radio.
Around the house...I need to put away the laundry, throw in another load, plant some bulbs, put the patio cushions away for the winter, mop the kitchen floor.
One of my favorite things...is the reading hour I've set for myself each afternoon.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...choose fabric to sew a valance for the dining room, lunch with a girlfriend on Thursday, baby shower Saturday afternoon, go to the Boulder Philharmonic on Saturday evening.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...my view every morning when I drive Emily to school.
Thank you, Susanne, for hostessing the Simple Woman's Daybook! For more daybooks, check out

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Make a note

I was raised by a mother who was a very wise woman, with a keen understanding of human nature. That, combined with her ability to find common ground with most people that crossed her path, made her a person that people often sought for advice. Many a time, friends would come home with me after school, and before we could get settled in up in my room, listening to records or doing whatever junior or senior high girls did at the time, I would find my friend at the kitchen table with my mom, having a cup of tea, deep in conversation. I have one friend who recalls this as one of her fondest memories of my mom.

Willa Cather describes one of her characters, Neighbor Rosicky, as someone who had "a talent for loving people. It's like an ear for music or an eye for art." It's just part of who they are. I think my mother was like that. Not that she got along with everyone she knew. If she didn't hit it off with someone, or if we were having a problem with someone, her advice was to "give them a wide berth." No sense setting yourself up for an altercation.

But for the most part, my mom just had a way about her that made people feel comfortable and they would easily confide in her. They sought her advice. And she always seemed to know just what to say. There was an occasion in our family when my brother's best friend had his fiance came to town, not knowing how to tell her before she got here that he was breaking up with her. The news came out of left field for the young woman and she was a mess. The boys decided that my mother should take the girl to the airport, and the poor girl sobbed all the way there. I wish I had been a fly in the car and could have heard the words of encouragment and advice my mom would have had for her.

My mom had quite a psychology about raising kids. For one thing, she knew that the more she repeated something, the less likely we would hear her. And she didn't like repeating herself. So, instead of telling us the same thing over and over, she took to writing notes. Her signature black magic marker and masking tape became very common place in our house. On the freezer in the basement, "Make sure door is shut all the way." On the jar for bandaids in the closet, "Put lid back on." On the toilet, "Jiggle handle." The kitchen scissors were tagged with "Kitchen" and God help us if she found them somewhere else.

When I set up my own household and had my kids, I always listened to my mom's advice, because I knew that it contained words of wisdom that would help me create a home for my family like the one she made for us. She would tell me, "make it easy on yourself." Put things where you use them most, have a system, it doesn't have to be fancy, just common sense. The kitchen shears were not only labeled, but had their own hook under the kitchen cabinet, so they were within easy reach and we didn't have to go digging in the drawer for them.

One of the ways she made it easier for herself was writing notes. I don't remember being nagged as a child. Yes, I was reprimanded, I wasn't always happy with what I was told to do or not do, but I can honestly say I wasn't lectured or nagged. My parents had better ways of getting their messages across. And for the everyday, menial, reminders, my mom's method was to write notes.

I'm trying to apply this more in my own home. By now, my kids have heard just about everything I have to remind them about at least a gazillion times. I don't think they hear me anymore. At least not the words. But it's human nature to be curious enough to see what a note has to say, so I've taken to leaving them little notes, either instructional or sometimes with some words of praise. Perhaps, without shouting in their ear, they'll come to listen to what I have to say.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Well. . .

The first coat of paint is up. Oh, help me, Rhonda! I'm just not sure! It's Behr's Arizona Tan 320D-4, but at this point I'm thinking they should have called it Aztec GOLD. I've taken a dozen pictures, but none of them show the true color. So, you'll have to use your imagination. Or go to Home Depot, if you're really bored and looking for something to do, check out the swatch and tell me what you think. I keep walking in the room, just to look again, and see what I think. I try to imagine what it will be like when it's not right up against the old weak chocolate milk color. And it's not framed by bright blue painting tape. And all the pictures are hung back on the wall, the furniture in place. I look at it with both hands tunneled around my eyes so I can see just the color all by itself. I wonder if I should have gone a shade darker, Sweet Maple 320D-5, or even Lion Mane 320D-6. Hubs says, give it time. In fact, he really likes it. A lot. He likes it so much, he says, that he wouldn't think of painting over it. I think that's what he's really trying to tell me. This is it, he's not going to repaint. So, I leave the room, walk around the house and do some stuff, and then saunter back in, to see how the color grabs me. And there's a part of me that feels this little thrill that, oh, this is sooo cool. It's not just the same old beige or the weak chocolate milk that was on the walls before. I like having color that jumps out and surrounds me and makes a statement. I'm just not quite sure, yet, what it's saying.

Monday, October 20, 2008

For Today

For Today... Outside my Window...the temps have dropped 20 degrees since yesterday. It's a chilly, but beautiful fall day. I am thinking...I can't believe I have another child who is old enough to drive. I remember how cool it felt to finally be the one to hold the car keys, jingling them and twirling the keychain around my fingers.
I am thankful for...my friend, Pamela, who is celebrating a birthday today. (Little wave and 'happy b-day to Pam;) We met in high school and our friendship has stood the test of living overseas from one another and across the continent. Her beautiful children are our godchildren.
From the kitchen...I actually have a menu plan for this week! Tonight: pork chops, corn bread stuffing and veggies -- all done in the crockpot. Hmmm. This could be interesting.
I am wearing...jeans and a sweatshirt.
I am reading...still reading Those Who Save Us which is turning out to be an awesome read! At bedtime, I've been re-reading War Within and Without by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I am hoping...to make a decision about where to spend Thanksgiving. All you northwesterns out there. Is it crazy to go to Seattle in November? Will we spend the entire time in rain ponchos, seeking shelter indoors?
I am creating...order out of chaos in my office. (Hah! that's a good one)
I am hearing...the Today Show.
Around the house...the dining room is taped and caulked and ready to be painted.
One of my favorite things...watching chick flicks with my sis-in-law, while eating pizza and drinking Mike's:) That was fun, Loey.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...cross my heart, I am going to work on the basement this week.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
For more Daybooks, see Peggy's lovely blog:)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday's Fave 5

I'm a day late and a dollar short, but didn't want to miss out on Friday's Fave 5. Because if I can't take a few minutes and write about five nice things that happened last week, well, what good am I? 1. I went to see The Secret Life of Bees with some women from my book club. We went to the 11 a.m. show and it was only $5 and it felt truly decadent to be sitting at the movies munching popcorn in the middle of the day! The movie was very well done and Dakota Fanning deserves an Oscar, IMHO. 2. I had two book discussions this week, one about The Invisible Wall and the other The Shack. Both were excellent books for discussion. If you've read The Shack, there are some excellent discussions about it on the amazon.com book site. Look for the book's page, then scroll down to the comment section. 3. The Paint Lady came to help me choose paint colors for the house, and we came up with some wonderful ideas. I can't wait to get Dan started!
4. On Thursday evening I attended a dinner for our local Real Choices Pregnancy Care Center and had the privilege of listening to a woman's very brave story of how she faced an unplanned pregnancy and carried her baby to term. This is an organization that is non-political and religiously ecumenical, and with these barriers aside, they are accomplishing great things.
5. I bought a new book this week, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.
Hope everyone had a good week! Thanks, Susanne, for hostessing;)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Color my world! Please!

I've decided to bite the bullet and have someone come over and help me figure out what to do about the walls in this place. When we bought our house, it was nice in that the whole thing is very neutral in color. Meaning beige. And there's not a thing wrong with beige, except that I thrive on color.
So, it wasn't long before I was bringing home paint samples and taping them to the walls, getting out some cans of paint and swishing a bit of color here and there to see how it plays out in the light. And, now, I'm stuck. I'm not sure if it's the light in this house or if its the fact that the rooms don't really end, they just lead on into the next one, but I'm having a heck of a time figuring out what colors to do and where they should go.
My friend Claudia is one of those people who is just a wealth of information. From dog training to interest rates to understanding the Trinity, this woman has an insight into everything. So I called her, and sure enough she has a source who will come over to my house, spend two or three hours and help me map out a plan. For a very reasonable fee, I might add. It's worth the cost of two or three gallons of paint if it will save me the torment and gnashing of teeth in trying to come up with a plan on my own.
So Friday, Kris of 'Kris & Kris Designs' is coming over. In the meantime, I'm getting out all of my magazine clippings that I've been saving because she said it would help her come up with ideas. And I'm dragging the pictures up from the basement that I love, but don't know where to hang them. And I'm prepping Hubs, because once Kris and I come up with a plan, whoa, boy, here I go off to Home Depot for some more paint!

Monday, October 13, 2008

For Today

Outside my Window. . . is a clear day, much welcomed after the rainy weekend. The mountains are dusted with snow and the clouds are nestled at the base with the peaks floating above. Very heavenly.
I am thinking...about rearranging furniture.
I am thankful for...teachers. I admire and respect the teachers that work with my kids. I think that sometimes we hold them to impossibly high standards, and they are expected to pick up all the slack and perfect kids in areas that are the parents' responsibilites. Every profession has people that may not be best suited for that career. But most of the teachers I have known are honorable, hard-working and dedicated.
I am wearing...jeans, long sleeved t-shirt and socks.
I am reading...the first pages of Those Who Save Us. I had to put it aside while I read the selection for my book club this month, The Invisible Wall. It was sooo good!
I am hoping...to unpack the rest of the boxes downstairs this week. (Hey, I think I said this last week?)
I am creating...a new system for my pantry.
I am hearing..."I Saw God Today" by George Strait, and Abby snoring softly (sleeping off all those cookies)
Around the house...oooh, it's a mess! Long to-do list.
One of my favorite things...Our "new" fireplace
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Parent/Teacher conferences, Book Club, dinner for Caring Pregnancy Center, soccer practice, Driver's Ed (this is the last week and he gets his permit! Yikes!)
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Abby

Yesterday I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies to send to Joe. It was a perfect day for baking. Cold and chilly outside, we had the fire going, and in between putting cookies in the oven and taking them out, I was reading a good book, "The Invisible Wall" by Harry Bernstein.

When the cookies had cooled, I packaged them carefully in ziploc bags, then wrapped those in bubble wrap, then tucked them in a box along with some mail and Halloween goodies. This morning, my plan was to take the kids to school, stop off for a 15 minute appointment for myself, then take the box to the post office.

When the appointment was over, I hurried out to the car, opened the door, and the smell of chocolate chip cookies wafted across the parking lot. Abby, our 7-year-old shepherd mix, sat staring out the window. And all over the back seat was schrapnel from my package. Bubble wrap. Plastic baggies. Cardboard. And one cookie (burp).

I can't believe she broke through a sealed priority mail carton, and all that plastic. But, this is the same dog that I cannot trust with a latte. She's finished off two, one a mocha when I had to leave her for 3 minutes to run into the bank, and another time she snarfed down the remainders of a pumpkin latte.

It's a good thing I love this dog.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday's Fave 5

It's time for Friday's Fave 5, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story. Here's a look back at my week, reflecting on the good stuff!
1. Our first really chilly weather of the season. The heat in the house went on last night, that's how cold it was! 37 degrees this morning and it is supposed to warm up to 68. This is definitely "cuppa tea" weather and I love it. (Lipton tea with milk and sugar, please)
2. This morning I met Kathy for breakfast at Panera. As I said, the morning was cold, but a bagel, mocha latte and 38 years of friendship warmed it right up:)
3. I went to Sofa Mart with my camera and got some ideas for the living room. The salesperson was the nicest guy and so low-pressure. A family man with six kids. Heck, with six kids he probably goes to work just to get away, forget the sales.
4. Joe and I made reservations for his trip home at Christmas time (Christmas is coming!), and talked about Thanksgiving when we will drive out to see him!
5. Going back and really looking at what made this week special is that on Wednesday, Matt returned to Iraq to finish his tour of duty. Yes, it was sad saying goodbye again. But , not surprisingly having him here just put a whole different spin on what's important. His homecoming had us all gathered together again. He spent precious time with his wife and his boys. When the two weeks was over, it was the just being together that everyone treasured. It takes you back to what's important and that's the love and the ties that bind a family together.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sitemeter

I added a new feature to my blog. If you look down at the bottom of the left hand column, you'll see a little logo labeled "Sitemeter." I added the service because I was curious about my huge audience of readers out there. And because it's free. Now, don't run away. I got the free version, so you're not busted, I still have no idea who you are, beyond those that comment (and I love your for it), and my family who tell me they love my blog, but are too shy to comment. Basically, Sitemeter tells me how many people visit a day and the area of the world that they come from. So, it tells me that most of my readers are from various parts of the U.S. or from Denver -- which could be anywhere within a 100 mile radius of the city. That's my family. (little wave to the family). My biggest surprise was how many people actually take time out of their day to stop in and pay me a visit. I was shocked. Yesterday, I had 2 comments, but almost 40 visitors. Wow. Now, I'm speechless. Literally. I've never felt comfortable speaking in large groups (that would be any number over three, counting me). So, I'm feelin' a bit of stage fright here. Sitemeter also tells me how long people stay. Imagine my surprise to learn that one visitor was here for over 16 minutes. "Sixteen minutes!" I said to Hubs, who was sitting at the other end of the couch. "I guess I really hooked him." Silence. "Unless they logged on and then had to go to the bathroom," I laughed weakly. "I wasn't going to be the one to say it," muttered Hubs. Another person came all the way from the other side of the world, from one of those countries I can't pronounce. "I have an international audience," I said, all puffed up. Silence. "It's probably the same guy who has been e-mailing me, selling Viagra." Wherever you're from, if you stop by for less than a minute, if you pop in and then nature calls (I'LL TALK LOUDER SO YOU CAN HERE ME IN THERE), or if your goal in life is to solve erectile dysfunction. I'm pleased and honored that you stopped by.

Monday, October 6, 2008

4 Things Meme

I was tagged by Lynne for this little meme. Join in if you'd like! What you are supposed to do. . .Copy/paste, type in your answers and tag four people. Don't forget to change my answers to the questions with those of your own. (No cheating!)
A) Four places I go over and over 1. Drop the kids at school and pick them up each day 2. Grocery store 3. Starbucks (yes, I do)
4. Drop and pick up kids from activities (is there a pattern here?)
B) Four people who e-mail me regularly 1. My friend, Ter
2. My Aunt Riz
3. My friend, Connie
4. My DH, Dan
C) Four of my favorite places to eat 1. The Briarwood, for special occasions
2. A local deli, for the best sandwiches
3. Einstein Bros.
4. Hacienda Colorado
D) Four places I'd rather be 1. At a beach
2. At the spa
3. In a jetted tub
4. Anywhere with Dan
E) Four TV shows I could watch over and over 1. Will and Grace
2. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (I have the series on DVD)
3. ER -- older shows
4.
F) Four people I'm tagging 1. You
2. You
3. You
4. and You!

For Today

For Today...
Outside my Window. . .is a clear, fall day. The sky is blue and cloudless, except for over the mountains. The clouds are huge cotton balls, nestled in between the peaks and hugging the entire front range. So beautiful.
I am thinking . . . that I have a long list of things to accomplish today. But it's all good, so I'm going to try not to get bogged down in what I have to do and instead enjoy all that I get to do.
I am thankful for. . . living in a country that allows us to be free to live as we do. That we get to have elections and if we don't like the leadership, then we can run for office and present our own plan.
From the kitchen. . .cranberried pork roast in the crockpot.
I am wearing. . . jeans! And a tee shirt and flip flops. Because it's cool outside, but the sun will warm the day in no time.
I am reading...Those Who Save Us (see my sidebar)
I am hoping. . .to get caught up today. Ha!
I am creating. . .order out of chaos in our rec room
I am hearing. . .the neighbor's leaf blower
Around the house. . .needs to be vaccumed. We were at a soccer tournament this weekend and the Saturday chores didn't get done.
One of my favorite things. . .Yankee Candle's Frosted Pumpkin
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . .Driver's Ed for Luke, Soccer for Em, work the concession stand at the high school football game for Dan and me.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you. . .
Thank you Susanne, for presenting the opportunity to reflect on the week ahead. It

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday's Fave 5

The idea behind Friday's Fave Five is to look back over your week and reflect on the good stuff that has happened. It's sponsored by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.
1. Dan had a business trip to Seattle, and while he was there he met Joe for dinner and they visited a couple times. It gave me a good feeling to know that they had some father-son time. Joe has long ago proven that he can take care of himself. But, it isn't about that as much as knowing how few and far between our times are with him. I enjoyed it for both of them.
2. I can think of five favorite things about this week that happened just today. This morning I got to spend time with my 4-year-old nephew, Tommy. He is the family's pride and joy. I'd forgotten how sweet-smelling a freshly bathed little boy can be. How tender and vulnerable the back of a little boy's neck looks, when he's wrapped in a fluffy bath towel. I learned everything I never knew about Spider Man as I sipped my coffee and he ate his waffles, syrup dripping down his chin.
3. Winter pansies. I bought a bunch, cleaned out a rather neglected spot in the front garden, and they are all tucked in, pretty as can be.
4. Pumpkin lattes. There was enough chill in the air this morning to toast the season with Starbuck's fall special.
5. Hanging out at the playground. I can't recall the last time I hung out at a playground with my dad. But, this morning, we ended up there with Tommy, and Matt and Lois. Tommy played, we all talked politics and life is good.
That's my week! If you'd like to play along, pop over to Susanne's and follow the rules:P

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What's in a name

Bev has written a book review on a baby name book, over at 5 Minutes for Mom. I don't know of a mom in the world who doesn't love talking about how she chose the names for her children. When we were expecting our first baby, the name book of choice was "Beyond Jennifer and Jason." For the record, I always wished my name was Jennifer. When my friends and I would play and "pick names" I was either Jennifer or Marie. And when I was Marie, I had beautiful olive-colored skin and flowing black hair. Now, I have my own Marie, but her name is Emily and she prefers a short blunt cut to flowing tresses. But, I digress. When we were waiting for Joey to arrive, I would pour through the BJ&J book, driving my husband crazy, and manipulating every conversation I could to the question, "so what are your kids names? And how did you choose?" I don't recall all the details of the book, but it was organized in chapters, something to the effect of, Classic Names that never go out of style, Celebrity kids names, and names that went the way of avocada refrigerators -- that would be Janet, Pamela, Karen. Well! Our boy name choice for our first was hands down, Joseph, for my father and Dan's grandfather. I think it's a fine name, a strong name, and it follows my mother-in-law's logic in choosing boys' names. That as a little boy he can be Joey, as he grows he'll be Joe, and when he's a doctor, he can be Joseph. His middle name is Daniel, keeping with Dan's tradition of giving the son the father's name for a middle name. It's a good thing Joe was a boy, because we never agreed on a girl's name. My first choice was Samantha. Our other choice was Stephanie, but a family down the street with the same last name as ours had a Stephanie and we dreaded that their mail would be forever mixed up. With our second child, I knew if he was a boy (and he is) I wanted him to be named Luke. Dan liked Lucas. So did his grandmother. I won. But that didn't keep his grandmother from writing Lucas on all of his birthday cards and referring to him as Lucas in her letters, for as long as she lived. She was strong-willed to say the least. Luke's middle name is for my grandfather. It is Masterson, my mother's maiden name, and when you put it all together Luke Masterson (followed by our last name), as my friend said, "Now that's a man I want to meet." We had no idea when we named Emily that it was the most popular girl's name in the country. In fact, she was born on New Year's Eve, and a week later the paper came out and said "Emily" was the most popular name for girls that year. She's always been Emmy to us. Or Em. I wanted us to share something in our names, so her middle name is the same as mine -- Elizabeth. Through all of her years in pre-school through 1st grade, I was asked, Does she have a dog named Clifford? Sorry, Em. If I were lucky enough to have another child, I would name a girl Caroline, for my mother, and if it were a boy, I would name him Benjamin or Matthew. Funny thing, my parents didn't give any of us middle names. I think it had something to do with the fact that my mother was named for her mother and so she went by her middle name, to avoid confusion. (Good thing. Her first name was Edna). But the Edna was forever getting in the way, at the insistence of school teachers, and signing for checks and such. She signed her name E. Caroline. So, from her own experience, my mom decided that having two names was a hassle, and as Catholics we would eventually choose names for confirmation, so that could be our second name if we wanted one. I chose Elizabeth. My brothers decided to go sans middle names, except for my rebel brother who chose Zebulon. But, that's another story.