Friday, January 30, 2009

A Fish With No Name

Two years ago this month, we acquired a beta fish. My husband's company traditionally holds its holiday party in January. This particular year, the centerpieces were beautiful floral wreaths, and in the center of each was a lovely glass bowl containing a beta fish. As is the custom, the centerpieces were given to one lucky(?) recipient at each table.

I was delighted to carry home my prize that evening. I truly was pleased, because Em had been asking for a fish (and a cat, and a dog, and a horse, and a monkey) for AGES, and she was just thrilled with her surprise. For about two days.

Since then, it has become my fish. For the past 728 days, it has been mine to feed and clean and to balance on my lap when we moved across town last summer. It has no name. No one has had an interest in it long enough to give it one. It is simply the fish.

I can't help but wonder if it has grown as tired of us as we are of him. My oldest son tells me that goldfish have a three second memory. If this is true, and since betas look a lot like goldfish, so they must be related, then every time the fish swims around the bowl, he thinks he's in a new place. He must be thrilled to discover his little ceramic treasure chest over and over throughout the day. And each time he comes upon his little Easter Island statue, he must think he's on another vacation.

For the first year, I was very careful to tend to the fish by the book. I lugged home artesian drinking water by the gallon and made sure it was brought to room temperature before I refreshed his bowl. Then, I decided if tap water is good enough for me, it should be good enough for him. So I would fill a pitcher and let it sit for several hours to come to room temperature. Now, I just run the water in the sink until it feels about right and throw him in.

If it weren't for my sister-in-law, the fish would be long gone by now. With a three second memory, think how fun the city sewer system would be for him. But, my SIL is a strong believer in karma, and she will escort a fly out the door before swatting it. The thought of doing something naughty to this fish, and what it would do to my soul, is more than I can bear.

Besides, for a fish, he has quite a personality. If I hold a piece of food between my thumb and forefinger, he will follow it all around his bowl. He'll back up, and even sway from side to side. And. . .he let's me pet him. AND, when I come in the kitchen, he will watch me, going around and around his bowl. I guess, since he has a three second memory, he always thinks I'm somebody new.

So, finally, the point of this post. My first contest ever. Name that fish. Whoever comes up with the best name, wins the fish! I will mail him anywhere in the continental U.S. Just include a SASE with your entry. You may enter as many times as you like. If you win and do not claim your prize, may 1,000 betas swim up your pipes and clog your plumbing.

Friday and thankful

Suzanne's Fave Five is one of my favorite things about Fridays. Beginning Mondays with The Simple Woman's Daybook and ending the week in thanksgiving -- well, it's a good set of bookends to keep my heart in the right place.

Drumroll please. . . in no specific order, five good things about this past week . . .

#5. Receiving a book in the mail from a blogging friend. I was the lucky winner of Rest, by Keri Wyatt Kent, at another Karen's blog, Writer's Wanderings. I was very much inspired by Keri's first book, Breathe, and can't wait to get into this one.

#4. Going to see Matthew Kelly on Wednesday night. He's an author and speaker, who inspires people world wide on the modern relevance of the Catholic faith. He was in our area this week, and I'm so glad that I got to hear his message. He is absolutely awesome!

#3. Spending time with girlfriends on Tuesday night. Oh, what a hoot. One of the gals in our group is dipping her toe in the dating pond, for the first time since losing her beloved husband eight years ago. So, here we are, a bunch of married-for-20-years-or-more, trying to give her advice. Lots of laughter going on there. I need to write a post about this.

#2. Having the day with Dan on Monday. No kids. We had the house to ourselves until we went out to lunch and ran errands together and pretended we were retired. It was nice.

#1. This quote: "The word of God is the opponent of your will until it becomes the author of your salvation." (St. Augustine) I found this in a book called, The God of Our Deepest Longings. My #6 would be finding this book, at this particular time in my life.

It's been a very full week, and a very good week. Hope it was for all of you, too. TGIF.

Monday, January 26, 2009

FOR TODAY, January 26, 2009 . . .

Outside my window . . . it is snowing to beat the band. Freezing cold temps (7 degrees when I took my daughter to school). After last weeks' temps of 70 degrees, I think Mother Nature woke up and remembered it's still January.

I am thinking . . .how much I love doing the Daybook. It's a nice way to start the week, reflecting on all that is good in my life.

I am thankful . . .to have found new renters so quickly for our rental property.

From the kitchen . . .my mind is a blank. I didn't plan menus for this week, so I need to go dig through the freezer and find something for supper!

I am wearing . . . jeans and a sweater.

I am creating . . .order out of chaos in my office. I have lots of paperwork to do today and I'm eager to dig into it.

I am reading . . .Peace Like a River, the choice for my book club this month. I am trying it again. I couldn't get past the first 50 pages the last time I picked it up, but there have been rave reviews, so I'll give it another chance.

I am hoping . . .for good things in our country in the next four years.

I am hearing . . .my husbands footsteps as he walks around the house. He's home today, a nice treat for us to have the house to ourselves.

Around the house . . .Joe went back to Tacoma on Saturday, and the house feels empty without him. He won't be back again until May. I miss him! I don't miss listening to MSNBC and CNN twelve hours a day. But I do miss my boy.

One of my favorite things . . .Valentine's Day! Celebrating the love!

A few plans for the rest of the week . . .haircut, Bible Study, some shopping for our trip next month.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing . . .I don't have any new pictures, so I grabbed one from the archives. This was taken five years ago. Already, it's hard to remember the kids being that small. I wonder what the next five years will bring?

Thanks, Peggy, for hosting the Daybook! Join in at

Saturday, January 24, 2009

At the movies

Last night I saw Revolutionary Road starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Going into it, I knew very little about the movie, except that it was about a married couple feeling trapped in their life in 1950s suburbia. Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses.

The movie wasn't what I was expecting. From the trailers, I thought that they would be on their journey and it would be motivational and upbeat. Not at all. It was really very sobering, but thought provoking.

Kate plays April Wheeler, the young mother of two children, a former aspiring actress and the instigator behind their plan to sell their home and move to Paris so that her husband, Frank, can discover his passion in life. Frank, who is a faceless employee in a huge corporation, is all for it until he's offered a promotion and lots more money. And at the same time, April learns that she is pregnant again.

April suffers from bored housewife syndrome, in part because she and Frank seem to have let themselves be led into their lifestyle, rather than having made it a conscious choice. At one point in the movie, it's revealed that her first pregnancy was unplanned, and it is what led them to his job, buying a house and setting up a life like every other family in 1950s suburban America. Neither of them settle into it very well. He has an affair. And, for her, the lifestyle robs her of her identity.

I have mixed emotions about April. I felt angry with her for not stepping up to the plate and taking on the role that she, whether purposely or not, created for herself. And her children. On the other hand, I can relate to what she's going through. No matter how fulfilling parenthood is, we all wonder what we would be if we didn't have that responsibility. Our lives would be completely different and even if we don't yearn for that life, it is something that you can't help but feel curious about and be reflective of at different times in your life. Especially when things aren't so rosey on the home front.

April insists that she loves her children, and I believe that she does. However, it is hard to know what kind of a mother she is, because the children are conveniently absent during many of the scenes at home. In one scene, it's mentioned that they are at a birthday party, but other than that we can only assume that they're outside playing, well out of earshot of the stormy, and lustful, exchanges between April and Jack.

Michael Shannon plays the psychotic adult son of the Wheelers' neighbors and has been nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the category of Best Supporting Actor. It is well-deserved. He provides comic relief on several occasions. He says what everyone else is thinking, but won't say out loud, which has the audience roaring with laughter one moment and squirming in discomfort the next.

I won't reveal the end of the movie, but it raised a lot more questions for me about April's character and how much was she a product of her time? Life was different for women 50 years ago. It's clear that Jack ultimately makes the decisions in the household and it is in desperation that April takes things into her own hands.

I would definitely recommend this movie. At times, I was drawn away from the story line, watching the era that was captured so well, the years a few years before I was born. For me, that's the fun of the movies, being taken to a different time and a different place, and getting to live there, even if it's just for a couple of hours.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Next time, I'm gonna marry for money

Hubs tells me his new favorite song is Trace Atkins' Marry for Money.

Ah, he's such a funny guy. He sang a few bars to me while working on some cabinets he's building for "our" craft room.

Next time, I'm gonna marry for money
I'll be so damn rich it ain't funnyI'm gonna have me a trust fund, yacht club, hot tub piece of the pie. . .
Find me a sweet sugar mama, with a whole lot of zeros and commas,
Don't really care if she loves me, she can even be uglyI'm gonna marry for money

That's Hubs. On our wedding day, the song he requested for our first dance was "To All The Girls I've Loved Before."

He's a charmer.

I can hardly believe that we'll be married 25 years in June. I don't feel that old! And it doesn't feel like over 25 years ago that we met on the company bowling league. I had the distinction of being the worst bowler in the league and he was the guy who collected a dime from anyone who didn't strike or spare in the 5th frame. Well, I never did, and considering there were three games each week for 52 weeks out of the year. . . we saw a lot of each other. And I lost a lot of dimes. Honestly, I never plotted to keep my average at a cool 92. Just so I could talk to the "dime guy." Maybe if he hadn't taken all my dimes, he would've married into money:)

I'll call her sweetheart & honey,
if she's a hundred and twenty
I dont care if she loves me,
she can be really ugly,
I'm gonna marry for money.
Oh, cha-ching, mucho deniro.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday, Monday

FOR TODAY, Monday, January 19, 2008. . .

Outside my window. . .Sunshine is glowing off the rooftops, warming the day. It's supposed to be in the high 50s today.

I am thinking . . . the kids don't have school today. Emily is going to babysit the neighbor kids and I need to go grocery shopping.

I am thankful for . . . a husband who is handy and likes to build me things.

From the kitchen . . . the cupboards are bare -- no coffee and no cookies! Today, I'll go grocery shopping and then bake some cookies. Put something in the crockpot for supper. Bake cupcakes for the middle school social tomorrow.

I am wearing . . . jeans, pink sweatshirt that says "Breckinridge", sneakers.

I am creating . . .a purposeful life:)

I am reading . . . Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father."

I am hoping . . .to catch a couple of movies before they're gone. Mainly "Reader" and "Last Chance Harvey"

I am hearing . . .the television in the other room.

Around the house . . .laundry, organize scrapbooking and sewing stuff in my new cabinets, pay bills

One of my favorite things . . .when Hubs makes the coffee in the morning. It always tastes so much better.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . .book club here on Wednesday night. We're discussing "Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum.

Here is picture thought I am sharing . . .
My sister-in-law e-mailed this to me last week. It's my mother-in-law and her father, out fishing. I just love it!

Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook is the hostess for Monday Daybook. To read more daybooks, or to start one of your own, visit Peggy here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thinking out loud

It's already the second week in January and I'm thinking back to how I've been doing on my goal for this year: to live life more purposefully. I'd say that's pretty good, considering in years past, I would have lost my list of resolutions or forgotten them by now.

There are two behaviors that are often stumbling blocks to being more focused and deliberate about my tasks. In the past these are things that helped me cope with a full and busy life, but now I'm finding that they can get in the way of enjoying and appreciating my life.

The first is the ability to handle distractions. When I was a young mom, I remember someone telling me that one of the hardest things about parenting young kids is that, while many jobs require you to be able to switch gears at a moment's notice, with kids the distractions are often so jarring. You're doing a task and a baby starts wailing. Kids start fighting. Or demands are immediate. A baby throws up, a diaper needs changing now. You always have to be on your toes. So, we're conditioned to distractions occurring and handling them becomes second nature. It's not even natural to begin and complete a task in one sitting. I wonder if all of this has contributed to my mid-life attention deficit?

The other coping skill that moms learn to master is multi-tasking. Hold the baby, stir the soup, talk on the phone and keep an eye on the preschooler. Make supper while overseeing homework and running a load of laundry.

Even though my kids are older now, I'm still in that mode. I may not be called on for dirty diapers or feedings, but suddenly someone needs a ride somewhere or help with a math problem or there's a wardrobe crisis. I've learned to drop what I'm doing, switch gears and tackle whatever has become the new priority.

And, after years of this, I find myself and my friends saying the same thing. We're on the run, we always doing, the time is going by, and at the end of the day, what have we accomplished? I know I've done a lot, but where's the fulfillment? Multi-tasking and fighting distractions are hardly conducive to leading a purposeful life.

So, here are a couple of areas I've been working on. One is finding routines that work. And not procrastinate them! Oh, I'm so good at putting things off. And the second area is to take advantage of the time I have alone, so that when the kids are home and I'm on duty, so to speak, I'm more available and not multi-tasking.

Nothing earth shattering here, but just a few thoughts to help me on my journey this year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Playing Catchup

In the past couple weeks, I was tagged for a couple of meme's and I'm just now getting to acknowledge them. The first one is from a long-time blogging friend and the other from a new friend. One of the reasons I've grown to love blogging, I just keep meeting the nicest people!

Xandra gave me this fun, fun award. She thinks my blog is FABulous, dahling. . .

I just love this button. If my blog is half as fabulous as this button, then I'm a happy camper. So, besides displaying the button in my sidebar, I'm supposed to list my five fabulous addictions. Hmmmm. Five things I'm addicted to that I think are fabulous, maybe? Here goes:

1. My DH a.k.a. Hubs. He's mighty fine, from always making sure there's a pot of coffee made for me first thing in the morning, to giving the best foot massages in the world. I'll stop right here, because I'm sure everyone is already jealous.

2. I'll admit it, I'm addicted to Starbucks. If you're a Starbucks fan, you'll understand, and if you're not, you think I'm nuts for spending $3.65 on a cup of coffee (well, yeah, I am nuts). But, I admit it. I love the stuff.

3. Books. used books is the most dangerous thing that's ever happened to my budget. I'm especially addicted to books by and about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I just bought another one and it came in the mail yesterday.

4. Blogging. It may not seem like it, because I don't post everyday, but I love having a blog, reading other people's blogs, and finding new blogs. I also love reading biographies and published diaries and letters. Maybe I'm just very nosey about other people's lives?

5. Magazines. I'm in recovery on this one. I've actually cut back on the number of magazines that I subscribe to and purchase at the checkout stand.


This next meme is from Melissa at Sunbonnet Cottage. We met just before Christmas, and she has the coziest place. Stop over and tell her I sent you:) For this meme, I'm supposed to open a folder and choose the sixth picture in that folder.

Be right back, I'm off to download my picture. . . .

. . . this was taken a few years back in Grand L*ke, Colorado. We were out on the lake with my sister-in-law and niece. The kids were having a ball being towed on this. . .

It was a fun day!

And now, I want to pass this fabulous award on to all of my blogging buds who are reading this right now. That's you! I love reading all of your blogs. They're all so unique and different. And if you like to post photos, try the photo meme. It's fun to see where you end up:)

The Simple Woman's Daybook, January 12, 2009

Peggy has her Daybook link up and running for the new year. It's such a nice, easy way to start the week, like slipping into a pair of comfortable, old shoes. Here's what's going on Over the Backyard Fence.

FOR TODAY, January 12, 2009 . . .
Outside my window . . It is snowing lightly, there is four inches of snow on the ground and the roads are icy. It took me over an hour to get the kids to school today.

I am thinking . . about the woman who drove off the road by my daughter's school, driving through someone's yard and taking out their fence. I wonder what she's going to tell her husband?

I am thankful for . . 4 wheel drive.

From the kitchen . . .breaded pork chops, applesauce, noodles and vegetables for supper.

I am wearing . . . jeans, turtleneck sweater and hiking boots.

I am creating. . .not feeling very creative today.

I am going . . .to meet my brother for coffee today, when I make my run to the bank.

I am reading. . . "Dreams From My Father," by Barack Obama

I am hoping. . . the snow stays around for a while. It feels very wintery.

I am hearing. . . the clock ticking and the chimes of our grandmother clock in the living room.

Around the house. . .very quiet. Dan is at work, younger two are at school, and #1 son is still sleeping.

One of my favorite things. . . the new coffee mugs I bought at Target.

A few plans for the rest of the week. . .Dan is leaving for a business trip tomorrow. We plan to go see a movie Friday night. I watched the Golden Globes last night, so I've got a list of movies I want to see. More of the usual stuff for the kids. . . choir practice, baseball practice, homework, all that good stuff.

Here is picture thought I am sharing . . . I went through my photo archives and pulled up something from a vacation at Lake Powell a couple summers ago. Definitely a contrast to what I'm seeing outside my window right now.

For more Daybooks, visit Peggy at

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mulligans and Resolutions

New Year's resolutions are like cats, you either like them or you don't.

I, for one, always look forward to opportunities to start anew. Whether it's the first day of school, a Monday morning or a new year. It's like God is saying, "Okay, all that before today? That's your mulligan. Now we're playing for keeps."

I used to make long lists of resolutions for the New Year. Sometimes on paper, sometimes just in my head. They were usually the same things: grow my nails, lose weight, be nice, keep up with the laundry. Then, last year, my friend Becky inspired me to find a word or a phrase for the year. Little did I know that I would rely on that phrase as much as I did, and I'm happy to say that I grew from it. My phrase was "God is faithful." It took me through a year of selling our house and moving, my brother being on the other side of the world in a war zone, my oldest son striking out on his own, and a few minor personal trials thrown in besides. None of it was easy, but putting my faith where it belongs taught me a few things.

This year, as I struggle with trying to get my act together in a few areas of my life, the word that comes to mind is purposeful. I want to be more purposeful in the way I live my life. In the words I choose and how I spend my time

I am heartened by this passage in John 15:

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
I know that there are lots of areas in my life that need pruning back. There are branches that have gotten out of control, that are no longer productive or bearing fruit. I want to be more intentional and focused, not just on tasks and activities, but on my relationships, too. I'm so blessed to have a life filled with family and friends. And, I easily become the go-to person in a lot of situations, admittedly because I set myself up for it. This year I'll pray for discernment as to how I spend my time. I'll try to be more deliberate in my tasks, focusing on what's in front of me -- even if it's something as mundane as making the bed or making sack lunches -- instead of using the time to think about what else is on my list. And take time to breathe, so that I'm giving the best part of me to the person I'm with.

And to remember that I can't do it alone. . .

You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.