Monday, March 30, 2009

Move Over Martha

I am so proud of myself. I made curtains for my family room!

Okay, I didn't make them in the sense of finding fabric and sewing them. I don't sew. A phobia passed down from my mother and looked at with skepticism by my mother-in-law, a seamstress extraordinaire.

But! I did alter some store bought valances and I am quite happy with the results.

Recently I purchased a couple of brightly colored bamboo rugs on sale at Kohl's. I was very happy with them. When I got them home and put them on my floor and matched them to the color that we'll soon be painting our kitchen, well, I fell a teensy bit in love with them. They are bright and cheerful and they will allow me to pull many colors into the kitchen while still matching the family room, which the previous owners painted green. Yes, I know greeeeeen!! But I lurrrve this green and I knew that we were meant to have this house when I saw it, because it matched so many of the things from our previous home.

Here's the family room.
Here's the rug--squee!
Anyway, I was inspired by the rugs to try and find or make something that would be similar for my windows. And this is what I came up with:I think I will be quite happy with it when it is all finished(someday). Oh yeah, this is what we're painting(someday) the kitchen. It's called "Croissant". Mmmm, yummy.

**Edited to add: I have no idea why the above is underlined. After I posted the last picture, the text got all wonky (yes, that's a technical term. Shut up.) and nothing I tried could fix it. So it's just a mistake. Don't try to look for some secret message in those sentences. "Croissant" is not code for anything and there is no mysterious meaning. Except perhaps a jab at my dear husband's tendency toward procrastination. (I love you, babe!)

Love Thursday: The Loft that Love Built

My eldest daughter, Maggie, has been campaigning for a loft bed since moving into our house last fall. Her bedroom, while roomy, is considerably smaller than in our last house where her bedroom was once a bonus room. In this room she has all the furniture from the previous room: two twin beds, a dressing table, a dresser, a nightstand, a chair, a floor lamp, a beanbag chair and a partridge in a pear tree. (Okay, maybe not that last one, but you never know what is lurking under all of that dirty laundry on the floor...) My point is, is that she is feeling a wee bit cramped.

Papa to the rescue! My father is a woodworker. This is a hobby he's had for many years and he enjoys it immensely. He is extremely talented. All of the best pieces of furniture in our home are pieces that he built. So rather than spend money on a flimsy, store-bought loft bed, I called my Daddy. True to the nature of our relationship, I asked and he gave. A dynamic, I might add, that I am seeing in my own daughters' relationship with their Daddy.

Dad built it and then made a special trip over from Illinois to deliver it to our basement to await painting. Two weekends ago, my husband painted it. Last weekend, it was assembled in Maggie's room--with only minimal shouting and a sore arm and bruised fingernail left as a lasting souvenir of the day.

Maggie is thrilled with the extra space and the "super coolness" that the loft adds to her room. Thanks, Papa for sharing your talent in such a generous and loving way. You are awesome and you do great work.

So, um, Daddy? There's this table I was thinking about....

Laundry Gone Wild!!!

This is what happens when you turn your back on the laundry for a couple of days.

Searching for a new strategy to get the laundry done, I tried the tactic that many two year olds employ-- If I Can't See It, It Doesn't Exist. I closed the door on the laundry room on Friday hoping that one of two things would happen: a) my appliances would spontaneously develop artificial intelligence and would then sort, wash, dry and fold the clothes or b) wee laundry fairies/elves would chance to spy an opportunity to aid a frail human and take it upon themselves to sort, wash, dry and fold the clothes.

Can you guess what happened? If you selected c) NEITHER!! then you win. You are much smarter than me.

When I opened the door to the laundry room, I discovered what truly happens when you close the door and turn out the lights. Your laundry behaves like hyper-hormonal teenagers and procreates!! I had Mt. Washmore upon my hands and being the daring adventurer I am, I scaled it. Now my washer and dryer are sitting exhausted and panting in the corner, cringing and whimpering if I come near them with even something as small as a sock and my bedroom floor is covered with piles of folded laundry.

She looks scared doesn't she? As if the laundry is slowly creeping toward her, to consume her. Ahhh!!!

I can't wait to hear the whining that will surely ensue when the children come home from school and see what is waiting for them to put away. Sounds like fun, huh? Wanna come over and join the party?

Tomorrow I am sending the children to school in togas. Also? They will be going Commando.

Things That Have Made Me Happy Over The Last Few Days

This face--even after she made me look like a Crazy Bag Lady.

Our new neighbor moving in.

This face.

This face.

Watching the buds unfurl.

This face.

Flowers from a friend.

This face.

Sunflowers in a vase on my windowsill, tilting their bright faces sunward.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

You Don't Want To Be My Neighbor: Reason 9,723

At 2:32 a.m. I stumbled to the bathroom for migraine medicine. I was thankful to have awakened enough to be able to do this. Sometimes, while I am sleeping, the monster attacks and I am unable to get conscious enough to get out of bed. I am sleeping and I am aware of the pain and somewhere in the most primitive part of my brain I know that if I don't get up, there will be hell to pay. Thankfully, last night, that was not the case.

However, at 5:37, I was still fighting the pain and got up to take pain medicine. This medication is a blessing when the migraine prescription doesn't fully do the trick--particularly at night--because it allows me to sleep. Actually, that's the only time I take the pain meds, because I don't function really well after having taken it. It's good stuff, this pain medication. People deal it on the streets and rob pharmacies for it. In fact, it has been stolen from my home before. Along with a loaf of banana bread. But that's a story for another time, perhaps.

At 8:13 I felt a cold nose on my back. Tilly. She let out a little whimper and wagged the back half of her body when I rolled over and acknowledged her.

It should be stated here, that I love this dog. I was fully on board with getting a dog. In fact, I had a rather raging case of Doggy Nudge. I was trolling Pet Finder for weeks looking for our new family member. But! Somewhere in the wee little cortex of my brain, I knew that I would be bearing most of the responsibility for this dog--particularly first thing in the morning. The children are doing a fine job of following the feeding schedule and playing with and walking Tilly. But I am on the early shift. Shift happens... As much as I knew that I would be taking all of this on, that doesn't mean that I am chipper about it. (Anyone who knows me well, knows that "chipper" is never used to describe me first thing in the morning. I believe the adjective we're looking for here is surly.)

So after the wet nose to my back, I put on my best Martyr Face, followed by a rough throwing back of the covers and the utterance of the Martyr Motto: "I have to do everything around here! Everyone else gets to ______, while I have to ______!" (Insert "sleep" and take the "damn dog out" into the respective blanks.)

I didn't bother to put my one contact in, brush my teeth, comb my hair or anything else other than throw a jacket on and slide on some slippers because I was going back to bed, come hell or high water. I didn't even look in the mirror. I just hustled the dog down the stairs and out the back door.

Tilly trotted out in the spitting rain to her usual spot to do her "business" and I followed behind, covering my un-contacted eye so that I wouldn't fall. (Ah, the challenges of having one "bionic" eye and one blind as a bat eye! Also a story for another time.) As soon as she got out the door, our backdoor neighbors dog started barking. A dog I might have seen had I had two good eyes. Ahem. Tilly, not being a wallflower, tore out of our yard and rushed over to say hello. I was running after her, yelling her name (and thank goodness no obscenities. Hi mom!) ready to yank a knot in her tail when I was brought up short. I thought the neighbor's dog was tied out. Turns out, the dog was on a leash. Anchored at the other end to the dog's owner. Gah! I croaked "Good morning. Sorry!" while trying to get a hand on the dog. And really, the gentleman was very nice. He didn't look at me twice and with a "dogs will be dogs" note in his voice said, "At least they're both friendly."

I wrangled Tilly back into the house, muttering idle threats about sending her back to the pound. Yeah, she knows they're idle threats, too. Which is why she is continually pulling these shenanigans. She knows the most that will happen is her crazed Alpha Human will march behind her shaking her fist and possibly yelling. But all she hears is "blah, blah, blah, Tilly, blah, blah". Much like my children.

And then! Oh, then I chanced to catch my reflection in the mirror. I looked like the apex of the vortex of Crazy Bag Lady with my mismatched pajamas, ill-fitting jacket, slippers, and squinty eye. And did I mention my hair? No? Well, it's hard to describe what my hair looked like. Imagine a mushroom shaped mop with rooster tails in three spots at the crown and bangs like a unicorn horn. Now you are somewhere in the neighborhood (but still several blocks away) of what my hair looked like. Yes.

The good news is, the man who saw me is my neighbor's father who is just in town watching the neighbors' kids while they are out of town, so I probably won't run into him again any time soon. The bad news is, I'll have to plan Tilly's potty breaks so that I don't run into him for the rest of the weekend.

Next weekend I plan on wearing my swimsuit, brown socks with sandals and a clay-based facial masque to fetch my mail. You know, just to give my other neighbors something to talk about.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Love Thursday Update! Letter Translation

Through the gracious work of a friend, I was able to get the letters from Mary's Christmas Box friend translated. (Thanks Lenee!) I am only posting the translation of one, as the other is very similar, but I tell you, this left me a wee bit teary.

'Hello Mary!
How's your family? Me, I am doing well here in Burkina Faso. It's a peaceful country of men with integrity. Here, we don't know war. One has lots of activities like SIAO, Frespaco, Faso Tour, etc. I am Christian and I love Jesus because he's our savior. I have 2 sisters and myself. I love my father and my mother. I like to read, write and draw. I like to eat cookies and chocolate like you, too. I work well in class because I want to help my poor parents later. I invite you to Burkina Faso to participate in the next SIAO which is a big festival/holiday for us. I am very happy with your gift and I want that we always stay sisters in Christ. I am 9 years old and you are 4 years old. I have your picture, you are very pretty. I would like to send my picture, but the ways don't permit me to. I will save some money to take a picture and send to you if God wills it. I leave you on this, Mary. Take care."

I am hoping to continue the correspondance with this young lady and she has already entered our daily prayers. Maybe someday we'll meet. You just never know what God will do, do you?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Photo Friday: Sunrise in the Back Yard

In order to get myself motivated to take more pictures and to help lessen my inhibitions in sharing the photos I capture, I am going to make myself post a picture each week on Friday. They won't all be good, of that I'm certain, but they will be of things that move me, things or people I love, things that make me think, or simply things that make me smile.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Love in the Mail

Before I get into the "meat" of this post, I should explain why I'm writing (and hopefully, after regaining the use of my own computer, posting photos) about love on Thursdays. It's all because of one of my favorite bloggers, Karen over at Chookooloonks. Several years ago, she decided to dedicate her Thursday posts to love in it's many forms and then invited the rest of the internet to join her. So now, many people post and share their stories and photos of love in what has come to be known as Love Thursday. (Well duh!) This is an idea I have enjoyed while reading other's blogs and decided that I can get behind it on my own, because who doesn't need more love in their life? Henceforth Que Sara Sara will dedicate Thursdays on this blog to love, in whatever form it takes. Which brings us to today's post.

On Tuesday when I retrieved the mail, there were two striped air mail envelopes waiting for me. Okay, they weren't actually for me. They were addressed to "Mary Ganey Rose" and had exotic stamps from some place I had never heard of affixed to them. But since Mary is not yet reading and would require my services, I have taken partial ownership of the letters. She was very excited to get mail--something I completely understand. I absolutely adore getting mail! Well, if it isn't something that means I must part with my money, anyway.

We tore open the letters and were disappointed to find it written in French. Neither of us speak French and only one of us speaks very broken Spanish. In fact, Mary has a better grasp of English at 4.5 years than I do of Spanish after having taken several years of classes. However, when we turned over the letters, we were delighted to find several sentences of very basic, somewhat broken English on the other side. These letters were from the same person and contained essentially the same information, but there were slight variances in both the French and the English translation.

I was a bit concerned that Mary was being asked by a Nigerian prince for funds to help him recover his hidden money and that he would gladly send her a share when he got his money back. But this was not the case. This letter was a special letter indeed. This letter came from the little girl who received the box that we put together for Operation Christmas Child. As a family, we have participated in this effort for many years, sending off many shoeboxes in the hope that the recipients would enjoy the contents of the boxes and find some joy, and also that they might understand compassion from a stranger and even possibly come to know Christ Jesus. We have also participated to give our children a larger world view so that they understand how privileged they are to live where and how they do and the many other valuable lessons that come from giving. But in all of our years of sending off brightly wrapped shoeboxes, we have never received a letter back. Until now.

The little girl that received our box is 9 and lives in Burkina Faso. And if you are anything like me, you are scratching your head and cursing your geography teachers right about now, because it's likely you've never heard of this country. Here's what I can tell you in a nutshell: Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in west Africa. It used to be called the Upper Volta. Some of its neighbors are Mali, Niger, the Ivory Coast and Ghana. It's about the size of Colorado. Approximately 9% (9%!!) of girls are educated. It is extremely poor.

This young lady told us a little of her life and thanked us for the box. She told us she loved playing and chocolate, to which Mary replied "Me too!". She has two sisters. She loves Jesus because he is sweet to her and he loved her first. Then she included her address so that we could write back to her and there was a jaunty little "bye bye!" at the bottom of the page. Mary was astounded. "I have a friend in Africa and she likes things that I like!"

She couldn't wait to share the letters with her brothers and sister and daddy. They were all interested and wanted to see where Burkina Faso was on the globe. They oohed and ahhed over the exotic stamps and the striped air mail envelopes. They called her lucky, because none of their boxes ever caused a letter to come.

From the bit I was able to gather from the French letter, the little girl liked the picture Mary sent of herself and thought she was very pretty (tres jolie) and then I think there was a statement along the lines of "if you ever come to my home, we will have a grand party". I would dearly love to find someone fluent in French to translate the other sides of the letters.

Later in the day, I was thinking about the letters. I couldn't help thinking of the great disparity in the lives of our Christmas box child and my own children. The relative wealth and privilege my children enjoy versus the poverty and harsh conditions this little girl lives in made me stop and consider the things I take for granted: an overabundance of food, plenty to wear, a comfortable home, two parents, and healthcare to name a few. It made me grateful--not only for what I have but for the little we were able to contribute. I was taken with the sweetness of the letter and with the generosity of whoever did the writing and translation--obviously an adult who had taken the time to help. I was grateful for feeling like the world was just a bit smaller, if only for a moment. I was overwhelmed by the love and care I am certain that Jesus has for this child. I know He is holding her in his palm just as he is my own children and I am thankful for that grace.

On what was an otherwise ordinary day, those two letters became the ribbons and bows on a gift of love that was sent in a shoebox halfway around the world. Can't wait to see what's waiting in the mail today...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


While flipping channels waiting for the 11 p.m. news, Patrick says "Hey, we could watch The Bad Girls' Club".
"I founded that club," I said.
After he picked himself up off the floor and stopped laughing, he patted me and said "Sure, honey."


Me: Hey, Mary! Quit hugging my boyfriend! (Patrick)

Her: He's not your boyfriend.

Me: He's not?

Her: He's your hon.


James wants to grow out his hair. He wants to look like a skater. Fine. I'm okay with that. The arguing about combing his hair may do me in, however. He seems to think that the skater look involves major bedhead and multiple rooster tails. I have tried to convince him that even skaters don't want to look like they got into a midnight brawl with an eggbeater and lost. For some reason, he does not find that funny. Or convincing. I explained to him that the guys who look like they spend zero time on their hair are actually spending plenty of time and product on their carefully coiffed 'dos. They work really hard to make it look like their not working really hard. He's not buying it. He says that he'll be the first one to actually spend zero time on his hair. So there!


I am mad at myself for not finishing a book. Also, I'm mad at myself for being mad at myself about this. It's dumb, I know, but I can't seem to help myself.

I started a book by an author that I generally like. I've read several of her books and like her writing. This time however, I just couldn't get into any of the characters. It started out promising, but then I just kept thinking " I hate all of these characters! I couldn't care less about what's happened to them in the past, what's happening to them now or what will happen to them in the pages to come--unless they all die. Then, I'm in!" Horrible, I know. I kept trying to press on thinking that the story would hit its stride and then all the time I'd already invested would be worth it. Halfway through it still hadn't. It was at that point that I argued with myself about quitting the book. Should I keep reading because I'd already invested my time and so had the author, who obviously had a story to tell and a point to make? Or could I just stop reading and thus stop wasting any more time on a book that I was literally forcing myself to pick up and read? I mean, this was supposed to be a book read for pleasure and I was not getting the least bit of pleasure from it. So I quit reading.

I don't like doing that. There's something about it that bothers me and I'm not sure quite what, but I get very irritated with myself for quitting. It's too late now, because I've already returned it to the library. I think I'd better find another book soon, just so I can quit fighting with myself already!


Why is everyone else on the road a much worse driver than me?


I am in a recipe rut. Seriously. I need to find some new things to do with chicken. Or the weather needs to warm up so my husband can grill more often.

This is one of the things I'm concerned about? Kill me.


Tomorrow the kids have a half day of school. It is supposed to rain. Patrick is heading out of town. Kill me.


Why do my children decide that they need my undivided attention the moment I get on the phone? What is it about the act of picking up the receiver that causes them to lose their little minds? I have actually told them this: "I'm on the phone!! Do not interrupt me again unless YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE!!"
I know that Sean is totally plotting a way to do this. If only so he could interrupt me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Where you will find me on a Monday night

My husband has long been a car fan. Not actually an air-moving device in a car, but a devotee of all things auto--an automobiliac, if you will. When he was younger, he spent time with his older brother tinkering with different cars and talking car talk. I on the other hand have always been the furthest thing from a gearhead--the Antigearhead, you could call me. So when we were younger and dating and in the first blush of wedded bliss, I listened to his talk of cars much the way a friend might indulge a new parent that can only speak of the baby. I indulged him. I nodded and yessed and uh-huhed my way through his talk of horsepower and cams and pistons with only a vague notion of what he was saying.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy cars. I am thankful everyday for the miracle that is the automobile. I love that it can convey me and my offspring without also dropping a load of fertilizer. I can appreciate the outer beauty of an exotic car. I can see the practicality of a minivan and enjoy it for its stalwartness. I can applaud the engineering of a sedan and the safety features it offers. What I'm saying is, I'm all about the airbags and cupholders and such. And call me shallow but I can enjoy a car for its curves and sexiness. But when you get past the gas tank and ignition key, I've just about exhausted my technical knowledge. I'm no Mr. Goodwrench, is all I'm saying.

So color me nine kinds of surprised that I find myself a loyal watcher of Top Gear! This show has quickly become one of my favorites. Now, I don't watch a lot of television. I am a big fan of exactly three programs. Of those, there's only one that I need to see. (I'm talking LOST, here, and if you watch it, you know that if you miss it, well forget it.) If I channel surf, my remote tends to blip towards HGTV. So finding my tushie parked in front of the telly at 9 pm on Monday nights--religiously--was a rather big surprise.

So, what is it that is so appealing? First, the hosts are three middle aged Brits that act more like the boys I knew in high school that were always coming up with ridiculous ideas and then trying them out, just for fun. And the humor? British!! SCORE! I mean, come can you not enjoy watching three grown men race city buses around a track? Who wouldn't crack up at the idea of a minivan convertible? Who wouldn't cackle as the hosts built said minivan and then had to run various tests on it--like putting it through an automatic car wash? A person with absolutely no sense of fun, that's who.

Also, there are the pretty, pretty cars. I'm shallow, remember? Now I might not remember all of the names and the letters and numbers that come after, but I know a sexaaay machine when I see one and there are all kinds to be seen on this show. My current favorites are the Koeniggsegg CCX, the Zonda roadster and the Ford GT. Look 'em up and see if you don't agree.

I'm also enamored with the celebrity racing segment. Different stars, most from the U.K., but some Americans take a spin on the track and vie to be the fastest. The dashboard camera gives an "up close and personal" view and I find myself alternating between cracking up and cringing as the celebrity drivers careen around the curves. Then I find myself thanking the stars above that I'm not subjected to a dashcam. On my best days my driving is um...distracted, to say the least. If I had a camera recording me?Around a racetrack? Fugeddaboudit!

Finally, I get to watch it with my husband. It's fun to be able to share something that he enjoys so much and actually derive enjoyment from it myself. Now, I still get the "deer in the headlights" stare when they start spouting the technical jargon, but I'm usually a laughing deer. Plus, he kind of gets his fill of car talk, so I'm not subjected--um, actively listening to all of the terribly interesting details of what's under the hood. Also? I get to brush up on Proper English and say things like "boot" and "tyre" and "full stop" and "garage" (accent on the first syllable)! So now, I'm not the Antigearhead anymore. You may call me Pseudogearhead, thank you very much!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Um, What??

As I was paging through a magazine the other day I found an ad that made me do a double take. Now normally, I'm don't pay much attention to ads in magazines or anywhere else; I'm far too easily distracted and in the case of television, well, that's what the mute button and the dvr are for.

I guess one of the reasons I stopped and looked was because I was going to tear the page out because it was one of those annoying inserts printed on cardstock, so when you try to turn pages, they sort of naturally fall to that page. I hate those things! It was about to find it's way to the recycling bin when my eyes fell on it and it was so unbelievably absurd that I had to look twice.

The advertisement was for cigarettes. Not so unusual for a magazine ad, right? What made me snort was the attention getting "headline" of the ad: "The Only Cigarette Made with 100% Organic Tobacco". Okay, sit with that for a moment. Roll that statement around in your head, look at it from every side and then do like I did and smack yourself V-8 style in the forehead and say WHAT THE HECK??

At first, given the magazine the ad was placed in, I thought it might be a Mad Magazine or Saturday Night Live type fake advertisement along the lines of "New Shimmer! It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!" (Okay, if you must know, it was in a copy of Entertainment Weekly which we mysteriously started getting a subscription of and I read cover to cover each week. I know I am weak. Don't judge me!) But after looking it over more closely and checking things out, it turns out it is legit.

So now I'm wondering: who is buying this product and the line of BS it is selling? Really? Organic cigarettes? Because when you are smoking nine bajillion carcinogenic chemicals you should really worry about whether or not the tobacco was sprayed with pesticides. This make me think of other crazy ideas like "clean coal" and "fat free cookies".

Also, has the recession hit Madison Avenue yet? Because if it would eliminate this kind of advertising, that might not be such a bad thing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gold Fish Part II

Me: Got any A's?

Her: Gold Fish

Her: Got any.......PROBLEMS?

The kid is killing me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Love is in the Cards

A few days ago, Sean and Mary came downstairs much after their bedtime to report Big News. I was ready to blow my top after they had both been out of bed approximately eleventy-bajillion times for various and sundry reasons. But both were so exuberant and happy, almost jumping out of their little skins with this Big News that I took a deep breath and shut my mouth to listen. (This is a practice I need to put into effect more often.)

Sean was bursting with pride as he said, "Mom! I just taught Mary how to play Go Fish!"

"Yeah!" Mary added looking with unbridled admiration at her older brother. "They teached me and now I know how and we can play!"

Not wanting to discourage such a great display of sibling cooperation, I roundly praised both of them and then told them to give me the cards and get in bed before their mother lost her everloving mind. Smiling and skipping, they headed back to bed and miracle of miracles, they stayed there until morning.

The next day, after the big kids had left for school, I was gearing up to make a dent in my perpetually mile-long To Do list, when I was accosted by a gap-toothed, bed-headed urchin beseeching me to play "Gold Fish" with her. "Pleeeeeease?!?" she begged.

Lately I've been realizing that Mary is really losing the last vestiges of baby/toddlerhood. She can do so many things on her own, she's developed this quirky sense of humor (where'd that come from?), she's turning five--five!!-- this summer. My last baby is no longer a baby and it's starting to bother me a little. So! I decided that all of those Very Important Tasks that I needed to start on could wait a bit while Mary and I played a game of cards.

Folks, my tolerance for preschool games is extremely low for someone whose vocational choice was working with young children. When presented with the choice of playing Candyland or gouging out my own eyeballs with a rusty fork and then pouring lemon juice and salt in the empty sockets, I would happily choose self-mutilation. I sort of feel the same way about card games like Go Fish and War. However, I soldiered on and grabbed the deck and shuffled.

We sat on the family room floor and I proceeded to deal the cards. Mary did just fine holding her cards until we actually started to play, then her hand looked like someone had just done "52 Card Pick-Up" with them. I decided it might work out better if she laid her cards out behind her on the floor so that she could actually see what she was fishing for. With the cards dealt and the card-holding problem managed, we began.

"Got any 7's?" she asked.

"Yep, you lucky duck, I do!" I told her.

She did a quick fist pump and hissed "Yesssss!"

"Got any 8's?" I asked.

"Gold fish", she said.

Now, I've corrected her a couple of times as to why you say "Go fish" rather than "Gold fish" and for some reason (probably stubbornness--I don't know where that comes from either. Shut up.) she still insists on saying "Gold fish". She's stopped saying so many of the cute phrases and malaprops that she used to say, that I've decided there are some things that I'm no longer interested in correcting. This is one of them.

Her turn. "Got any 8's?" she asked. Wait. She just sent me fishing for 8's, I thought, and decided I'd better have a quick peek at her hand to see if there was a misunderstanding. She didn't have any 8's either.

"Why are you asking for 8's?" I asked. "You don't have any in your hand and you're trying to make sets with the cards you actually have. You shouldn't ask me for 8's. Ask me for something else, like 10's or J's," I encouraged.

"But I really want some 8's! I just like 8's and really want 8's!" she pleaded batting her big, blue eyes at me.

And this is the point when I started to love playing this game. Her fabulous enthusiasm when she gained a card or made me fish, her fist pumps, and the inexplicable love for random numbers had started me on a path of new discovery for this game. We finished our game after several more rounds of fist-pumping and fishing and I emerged the winner. She was gracious in her defeat telling me "Good job, mama! You won! And next time I'm gonna win." I hugged her and told her that next time she might, you never know about things like that.

We've played a few more hands since that first game and she's won some and I've won some. She'll tell you that winning is sweet and she's right. But for me the sweetest thing is enjoying her where she is right now and focusing on some of the things I've been missing because I've been so caught up in my To Do list. So, call me a recovering "Gold Fish" hater because I am quite content to spend some of my time fishing for cards with Mary and enjoying her in the process.

Just don't ask me to play Candyland. I don't think I've recovered quite enough to endure it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Letter to March

Dear March,

Why are you trying to kill me?

You know that I have always loved you and stood up for you. I love that sometimes you come in like a lion and out like a lamb. I love that you know when to switch it up and come in like a lamb and out like a lion. Keep 'em guessing, I always say. Some people call you fickle. Not me. I love your caprice--your vast fluctuation in temperatures, your schizophrenic playfulness with the clouds and the sun.

I have always enjoyed the way you know how to throw a party. St. Patrick's Day is a great holiday! Seriously, March, you have some mad party-throwin' skillz. You get down with your bad self on the Ides--which happens to be my brother's birthday. It's all good! And sometimes--oh sometimes you even host Easter, one of my all-time favorite holidays. And March Madness is some pretty fabulous stuff. What I'm saying is that you have some great things to offer.

And March, your timing is most excellent. People complain about you, March. They wish you were more stable, like April. They wish you were warmer, like May. But me? I am always glad to see you! After the cold grayness of February with all of it's snow and frigidness, you are a welcome sight. Taking a walk in February is like taking a walk on the moon; all cold and white and harsh. Taking a walk in March is like walking in the Elysian Fields; all beauty and hope!

And Spring!! Don't get me started on Spring, March. YOU, of all months, were selected to allow Spring to enter ever so gently and breathe her warm breezes on us and fill us with the sweet fragrances of budding trees and new grass. So you know, you've got a pretty sweet position within the calendar and I'm just a great fan of yours.

So I ask you again: Why are you trying to kill me?!?

What is it with the repeated migraines, March? Why are you just letting them have free reign over me? What have I ever done to you?

And what have you done to my children? Somehow you have interfered with their internal thermostats and they're all "We can't play outside!! It's tooo hotttttt!" and "But I don't NEED a jacket! It's not COLD!" March, have you met February? I need my children to play outside. Those kids need to blow the stink off, already!

Do you think it would be possible to hand down an edict to the trees and flowers and grasses forbidding them from blowing their pollen all over the place? I know that it seems like a lot to ask, but really, my nose and my children's noses would thank you from the bottom of their, um, nostrils? If I didn't know better and love you so much, March, I might think you were in cahoots with the kleenex companies.

And really, what was with the time change this year?? We are well past the middle of the month and we are still battling the sleep issues. Are you just mad that April decided she didn't want any part of the time change stuff and foisted it off on you? So now you feel the need to make everyone miserable? Seriously, you are acting like one of my children! KNOCK IT OFF!!

I'm not really sure what I did to make you so upset with me, March. I apologize for acting disgusted when people ask whether I celebrate my non-leap year birthdays in February or March. It's not you I'm annoyed with, it's just the question is silly. I was born in February, so I officially celebrate in February. I'm sure it's very nice to have a birthday in March. Millions of people all over the world seem very happy to do so.

I've had your back, March. I've sung your praises. I've enjoyed you thoroughly in the past. Whatever it is that's got you gunning for me, could we just let bygones be bygones? Let's be friends again, mmm'kay?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Love is blind(s)

Our home, which we bought last fall, was a foreclosed property that had been vacant for almost two years. There are a number of things that need repair. Most of the major problems have been fixed, leaving small but annoying items on our To Do List. One of these items is replacing our blinds. They are the large, slatted kind, which we like, and they are installed in nearly every window of the house. The problem is, that almost every set has one or more broken slats so we'll need to replace almost all of them. As they still give us privacy for the most part, we haven't undertaken replacing them yet, conserving our energies and funds for more important and pressing needs like plumbing, flooring and getting rid of mold.

The window next to my husband's side of the bed has a conveniently placed broken slat that allows him to lie on the bed and still see outside to the front of our house where he can "keep watch" and feed his paranoia. (Don't get me started on this...) So as we were lying in bed last night talking over the events of the day, he rolled over to put his glasses on the bedside table and looked out the window through the peephole left by the broken slat. He turned back to me and said in all sincerity, "I'm sure going to miss having my little lookout spot when we replace the blinds. I won't be able to just peek out and see if anyone is coming to break in. I'll have to break one of slats on the new blinds."

I looked at him and shook my head. "Or you could just, you know, raise the blinds an inch so you could see out. Like regular people."

After we finished laughing I told him, "Yep. I'm totally blogging this!" He's so lucky to be married to me...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ladies Who Lunch

A few mere days since deciding I needed to blog, and the computer gods are laughing at me. Someone *cough, cough,* forgot to update our virus protection after I reminded him that it was running out, so our computer? She is ailing. I am posting this from my husband's computer, but as it will be unavailable for a few days, I guess I'll have an invisible blog. Or! It'll be just like before I started blogging and all of this stuff will just be bouncing around in my head waiting for any little opening to spill out all over everything. Yep. That spells trouble for when the computer comes back. There'll be thought overload all over the place! On the other hand, I could just drink alot.

Enough of that business. On to the good stuff! Today I found myself on a Ladies Shopping Day/Ladies Luncheon. It was fabulous! The clothing was pretty and well-priced, the food was great, and the company--Oh! the company was most excellent. Yes, I took my 4 year old daughter, Mary, shopping at Kohl's for an Easter dress, followed by lunch at Steak'n'Shake (known in our house as Milk'n'Shake). It was quite a time I'll tell you! We found many, many dresses that she declared she needed to have. I told her that perhaps we should save that particular word for things like food and shelter, but you know? She's right. You gotta have clothing. And if it comes in the form of a pretty, polka-dotted, twirly dress, who am I to argue?

She was a hoot to watch. Touching the dresses and purring at the ones she was particularly enamored with. I did see glimpses of the future, however, when trying on the dresses she expressed emphatic hatred for any item that I thought was cute. I think at one point I may have rolled my eyes and muttered something about her not being 12 yet and heaven save me from a house full of teenagers. Whatever! We found some dresses that fit the bill (and shorts and shirts and shoes!! Yes, that bill was adding up...) and were both famished after such an excursion. After much deliberation, it was decided that we should go to Steak'n'Shake because it was closer. "Right here across the parking lot, mama. McDonald's is waaayyy over there across the street." My child is all about energy conservation.

As we waited for our meals, much scintillating conversation took place. The other diners were probably eavesdropping, so witty and fascinating were we!

Her: Mama, I have a boo-boo on my hand.

Me: Really? Where?

Her: Just a second, let me find it.

Me: waiting....waiting....waiting....waiting...waiting....while she searches for this horrific injury.

Her: There! Riiiiight there. Do you see it? It's very little.

Me: (Pointing to a little red mark about the size of a period.) Ummm....that little thing right there?

Her: Yes.

Me: It's very small.

Her: Well, sometimes the smallest ones hurt even more than the biggest ones.

Me: I guess that's true. I have some boo-boos on my hands, too. From cutting down the branches. (I point to my scratches.)

Her: (Said without a hint of irony or sarcasm) I'm very sorry to hear that.

And then our meals came and all I heard was the sucking noise from the straw in her milkshake.

As we were leaving, she held my hand and gave it a squeeze. "Mom? We should do this again sometime."

"Yes," I said. "We should."

"How's tomorrow for ya?" she asked.

I laughed and reminded her that she has school tomorrow. But in my heart, I was clearing my calendar and inking her in.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reasons I Want to Wish My Brother a Happy Birthday

  • When I was very young, probably 5 or 6, Jon allowed me to play basketball with him in the basement. He put up with my lack of skill in basketball and great skill in whining and played with me, cajoling me out of the inevitable tears when the ball would bounce back and hit me in the nose. This has always stuck with me, because he could've ignored me or become annoyed with his tagalong little sister. Instead he treated me with respect and good humor. He still treats me that way all these years later.

  • We share the same warped sense of humor. Mine is probably due to too many basketballs to the head. I'm not sure what his excuse is.

  • I have two older brothers and I always thought Jon wore the white hat of the "good guy" while Todd donned the black hat. Jon was usually pretty good at protecting me from Todd when I would aggravate him into a fight of some kind. I will always remember the Knife Incident and recall how Jon "saved" me from a knife-wielding Todd. I should state right here before my mother hyperventilates (Hi Mom! You okay?) that THERE WAS NO REAL DANGER and we all crack up over this particular incident. It was one of many in a cycle of provocation and retaliation that Todd and I lived as siblings. I am happy to report that we all get along splendidly now--probably due to Jon saving my life so often. Heh.

  • Jon could be counted on to execute the most excellent fish-tails upon request when acting as my chauffeur to dance and piano lessons. He taught me everything I know about unsafe driving.

  • When he was in graduate school in Texas and I was one of the leads in the high school musical, Jon sent me roses after opening night. To my high school self, this was a sweet gesture. As I look back and realize how much cash he must have forked over for those roses and how tight his budget most assuredly was, those roses become a gesture of lavish extravagance which I appreciate even more now.

  • He shares my passion for Frango Mint ice cream--the most AWESOME. FLAVOR. EVER!!!

  • Jon taught his children and nieces and nephews to mosh to "Burning Down the House" by the Talking Heads. Enough said.

  • I was once given a doll that had a little disc tucked into a compartment in her back that allowed her to speak. (This was well before the digital age, folks.) This doll wore a pink nightie and had snaps on her inner wrists that allowed her to "clasp" her hands as if in prayer. Her name was Patty Prayer (I know! How original!) and she could pray "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" and after flipping the disc would sing "Are You Sleeping, Brother John?" I played this to him ad nauseum and while he may have contemplated dollycide in his head, he never once acted on it. Patty Prayer lived to an advanced doll-age and died a natural toy death. You are merciful, Brother Jon.
  • Jon made a fabulous elephant puppet and told a great story to my first grade class about an elephant that liked to smash cars. "Smashing cars, smashing cars, how I love to smash small cars." What a rockstar!!
  • My older brother has always rejoiced in my accomplishments, had an encouraging word for me, given me a helping hand when I needed one and tried to lift my spirits when I was low.
  • He once took the full brunt of my wrath and endured being called the worst name I could think of at the time: Pigeonhead.
  • Jon lives too far away, we see each other much too infrequently and he should know how much I love him.
Happy Birthday, Jon! You are and have always been a great big brother. Also, 46 IS the new 23. I got your back on that one!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hurry, please!

Spring is trying to get here as quickly as she can, but I have a serious case of cabin fever that only time out of doors can cure. So that means that Spring? She is not moving fast enough for me. I feel like I'm eight again and on the three hour car ride to my grandparents' house torturing my parents with the question: "When are we gonna be there? I wanna be there! How much longer?!?"
Hey Spring! When are you gonna be here? I want you to be here! How much longer?!?

Friday, March 13, 2009

My first post--now with extra wine-induced goodness!

So! I did it. Albeit, very late on this particular bandwagon, I have jumped on.

After fiddling with this idea for nearly a year I decided that it was time. Even if nobody else ever reads my posts other than me and my mother and possibly my dear friend Margie (Hi Margie!) that's okay. Because, you see, my main reason for doing this blogging thing is that I am horrible at journaling in the traditional "low-tech" way and am hoping to "save memories" of my children and our life so that someday in the future when aliens have taken over the world they will be able to see what life was like for a suburban mother of four. Because obviously, I am the only mommy-blogger out there on the internets. Wait, what?

Actually, I have no original motive. Like others who do this blogging business, I am doing it for many reasons, not the least of which is so that my children may someday see that I did indeed have an original thought or two in my head. Additionally, it might be good therapy for me to be able to rant and vent and get over myself (in a public forum! yippee!) in a way that feels natural to me. Hey, it's more acceptable than child abuse or binge drinking! In fact, I'm fairly certain that many of the petroglyphs discovered on cave walls were about things like children not picking up after themselves and what to fix for dinner. Also I need to get over my perfectionism and control-freakishness (What? It's totally a word!) and worry that everything I write must be fully formed in my head with stellar grammar and punctuation before it ever hits the page. Ha! See? I'm already forging ahead on that last one with this very post!!

So without belaboring an already belabored point: Here it is! My blog in all of it's little bloggy glory. **

**So much easier to write things when enjoying libations of the winey-sort!! Makes me not care so much about the perfection issues. Hmmm. Bet it makes this a terribly interesting post as well. Sorry, suckas!! I promise to do better on the next post. Really.