Friday, November 28, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

I tried it last week . . . and I liked it! So here we go again with another "Quick Takes" Friday. Hop on over to Conversion Diary to see the complete list of players.

-1-

If you don't have family in town for Thanksgiving, and if the rest of your family heads out of town, and if you need something to do for the holiday that does not involve sitting around your house feeling like losers, may I strongly suggest heading to the city for a few days. We got back this afternoon and feel like we've been on vacation, even though we were only gone for about 48 hours. I suppose we technically were on vacation, but going to Chicago, where we go pretty regularly and where my husband goes about once a week on average, doesn't usually count as vacation to us.

The main reason to head to the city, especially for Thanksgiving, is because nobody else is there. On Wednesday we just about had the place to ourselves. We walked everywhere except for dinner on Wednesday, and we did not have to deal with huge crowds at all. In fact, our hotel was practially deserted on Wednesday night. By Friday things had picked up significantly, but if you ever want to have the city to yourself, go on the day before Thanksgiving. Awesome.

-2-

Macy's will always be Marshall Field's to me. We were faithful Marshall Field's shoppers when I was a little girl, but unfortunately my girls will not have the same experience with Macy's. I'm just not as loyal to them because I don't think they've been loyal to me. The quality, and, frankly, the cache, just isn't the same as it used to be. I desperately miss Marshall Field's.

Nevertheless, we did traipse through the State Street store to see the magnificent Christmas tree in the Walnut Room. It was worth the trip because the tree was beautiful.


Sorry to say, I can't say the same for the windows which were freaky-weird.

-3-

A few years ago, when the City of Chicago built Millenium Park, they put in an ice skating rink. What a grand idea! The girls and I had a great time dodging little kids and tourists who had never seen ice before as the sun set over the city and the lights came on all around us. Despite some bumps and bruises, along with great doses of humiliation, we managed to create some especially sweet memories.


-4-

I'll admit it, sometimes when we take family outings, I don't prepare myself mentally before I go. Disaster in the making, let me tell you. So this time, as a bit of an experiment, I decided to prepare myself ahead of time. I spent some time in prayer before I left, asking God to help me be the bearer of good attitudes and not bad ones this week. I also determined ahead of time that these couple of days were not about me, but about the entire family having fun. Realizing that "if Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy," I decided ahead of time to just . . . be happy.

You know what? It works. It really works! These were a couple of the happiest days we have had together as a family. We all got along. We were all flexible. We enjoyed our time together. Now, maybe that's because we all needed a break and some fun times together, but I also think it had something to do with having a positive attitude on my part.

I should really try that more often. Like every day.

-5-


We attended the Thanksgiving Day Parade on State Street yesterday. Kind of a shabby second to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, but it was still kind of fun. B scored some tickets for the grandstand because his bank was one of the sponsors of the parade this year, so we were able to actually sit through the parade. Bonus!

But the biggest bonus of all was the weather--45 degrees and sunny. You just don't get a prettier Thanksgiving Day in Chicago. Ever. So we enjoyed our time outside all morning with about 5,000 other strangers in the grandstands getting all sorts of treats that were being handed out by the sponsors of the parade. (No, the bank did not hand out samples of money.)

The funniest part of this whole parade thing is that, even though we had sat through three hours of bands and shows and big balloons, we came home this afternoon and WATHCED IT AGAIN!! Why? Because we're vain, that's why. We wanted to see if we made it onto T.V. And we did. Kate and Abby even got a close-up! Because they were two of the most beautiful girls in the stands. They're famous now.

-6-

We hit Michigan Avenue at 9:00 this morning. I caught this gorgeous picture of one of my favorite sights in the city at an hour when the traffic had barely started and the sun was just hitting the sides of the buildings. I do love this city.


-7-

The holiday season has officially started, and one of our favorite parts of the season is watching our favorite Christmas movies. We have already watched "A Christmas Story," laughing all the way through and saying almost every line along with the actors. And we can't wait to watch even more. "Christmas with the Kranks," "While You Were Sleeping," "White Christmas," "Holiday Inn," and, of course, "It's a Wonderful Life" must be watched at some point throughout the holidays.

Tonight we watched "The Family Man" because it was being played on T.V. and we always love that movie. If you haven't seen it, be sure you watch it sometime this year. It's a movie about a self-centered, self-made man who dreams of what his life would have been like if he had married his college sweetheart. A couple of lines in that movie just get to me every time. Like when Jack, contemplating a big job in the city with lots more money, says to his wife, "We'll have a life everyone envies," and she tells him, "We already do." Or when his wife comes to him to say that if he needs to take the big job in the city she will uproot her kids and her dreams and move with him because "a family is more important than an address, and I choose us." Ahhhh. Yes.

After three wonderful days together as a family, I choose us too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful Things


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but since I may be unplugged for a couple of days, I wanted to leave a list of things I am so thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

1. My husband who does all he does out of love for his girls
2. My daughters who do their best in everything they put their mind to
3. My health
4. Our church
5. Our new pastor who's coming to our church soon
6. My family – all of them
7. My home
8. My car that seems to be on its last leg but still gets me around town
9. The opportunity to speak to the women of our church next week
10. Hawthorne School and all that entails
11. My neighborhood which is close to everything so that if my car should actually lose it, I could still walk and do my life
12. Thunder the Wonder Dog
13. Food Network
14. That I got to take the trip of a lifetime with Kate this year
15. My husband’s job and the fact that he still has one these days
16. Switzerland
17. Missionaries who do what I could never do
18. Action International and the people there who keep B grounded
19. My blog – the best creative outlet I’ve had in years
20. Good food
21. Trader Joe’s :)
22. That I got to travel a lot this year and that I was healthy enough to do it
23. Friends who challenge me to be a better person
24. Beauty all around me
25. The Greatest Gift of all - Jesus



You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
You are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Psalm 118: 28-29

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In which we discuss my deep-seated psychological issues

Yesterday I left you guessing as to whether I really might have inherited that crafty gene. Well, last winter I made one last-ditched attempt to find out. You can judge for yourself.

First I have to tell you that there is a quilt store near my house that is one of the loveliest places ever. Not only is it one of the best quilt shops in the country, it is run by two of the nicest ladies you will ever meet. Beth and Docia are knowledgeable, hospitable, and oh-so-wonderful. They make you feel like you are the most special person who ever jingled the little bell on the door of their shop.

I found The Quilt Merchant quite by accident. I had received a post card from them in the mail, and since my mom was scheduled for a visit and is an avid quilter, I decided I’d take her there to check it out. I knew I’d be bored to tears, but I’d do anything to show my mom a good time and hopefully lure her back for another visit.

Needless to say, she fell in love. With the shop—and with Docia and Beth. Now, every time Mom comes to town, we have to stop in to say hello and to make a purchase or two. I actually think she looks forward to seeing them more than me!

Last fall, on one of Mom’s visits and one of our jaunts to the quilt shop, I did something really stupid. I got caught up in the mystique of the shop—the beautiful fabrics, the peaceful music, the promise hope of a completed project—and signed up for a beginners quilting class. I had had a long, hard fall and decided that this was just what I needed to pass the long, dreary days of winter.

As soon as I signed up I had second thoughts. What was I thinking? I don’t have the crafty gene. My sister has that, not me. I won’t be able to do this. This is WAY beyond my comfort level. And besides, everyone in the class will laugh at me. And my teacher . . . well, she’ll figure me out right away and kick me out of the class. Really, what was I thinking?

But I went to the first class and kind of enjoyed it. Actually, I was the youngest in the class by about 20 years, so that part made me feel good—just the incentive I needed to come back the following week. I sort of had an idea what the teacher was talking about, so I went home and did my homework which, that first week, was to cut out and sew one simple four-square quilt block.

I think I did the block six times before I got it right.

But I went back the second week, and the third, and the fourth. Every week our "homework" was to work on a different block for our sampler quilt, and I felt like I was getting the hang of the quilting thing. Truth be told, I was sort of enjoying it.

The class was eight weeks long, and by the time the final class came I had completed the top of my quilt—16 different blocks complete with sashing, cornerstones, and a border (I talk like I’m an old pro at this, but seriously, I had no idea what those terms meant before I took the class).

The class may have been finished, but my quilt wasn’t. I still had one final thing to do in order to finish my quilt—I had to contact a quilter and have her sew together the backing fabric with the quilt top that I had made.

You would think that would be the easy part, right? But did I make that call? No I did not. I think my deep-seated insecurity about my lack of ability made me put it off. I just couldn’t face the quilt-lady; I knew she would take one look at my quilt and laugh at me for not knowing what I was doing.

So, for the rest of the winter and throughout the spring and summer my quilt top sat in a pile next to my sewing machine (which, by the way, my mother purchased for my daughters to help them find their inner Martha. I call it a mercy machine.). From time to time my mom would ask about the quilt—if I’d finished it or not.

“Oh, you know, not really,” I’d answer evasively, growing more and more embarrassed as the weeks passed.

I intended to finish it. I really did. I guess at this point it’s time to bring in the psychologist to explain to me why I can’t seem to finish a project. What IS IT about me that makes me do that? Or more accurately, NOT do that? ARGH!

Well, last week, in the midst of projects and meetings and lots of homework for my kids and cooking for senior citizens, a package arrived. From my mother. Who lives in Arizona. It came on a day that was incredibly hectic for me and, as I was scrambling to throw together some last-minute snacks for my daughter’s last-minute small group that night, I tossed it into my bedroom to open later.

Much later.

Around 9:00 that night I finally got around to opening the package from my mom. I was putting Maggie to bed and suddenly remembered the package, so I took it into Maggie’s room to open with her.

Whatever Mom had sent to me was wrapped in some ivory fabric, and there was a note on top of it that read: “Shelly, Please don’t be upset that I finished this. It was tired of lying on the floor by the sewing machine! Let the world see this magnificent quilt. Love, Mom”

And inside the ivory fabric was tucked my quilt—all put together with fancy, scrolly quilting. It was . . . it is . . . beautiful.

As much as I wanted to cry when I pulled my quilt out of the box, all Maggie and I could do was laugh because we both knew, deep down, that that quilt would NEVER have gotten finished if Mom hadn’t come to my rescue.

‘How did she get it?’ you’re probably wondering. Well, Mom and Dad came for a visit in September. Apparently she stole it when she was here and took it home with her.

That’s the thing about my mom, she does stuff like that that makes you feel great and humbled and happy and embarrassed all at the same time. She’s wonderful, my mom is.

And so, to honor her request, I am letting the world see my magnificent quilt.




Thank you, Mom. I love you.


Monday, November 24, 2008

As if I needed another reason to get therapy . . .

Blatantly obvious, I know, but isn’t it funny how parents give their children all sorts of traits? For instance, my oldest daughter looked so much like me when she was a baby that a complete stranger stopped me in the grocery store one day, peeked inside the baby carrier attached to the grocery cart, and exclaimed, “My goodness, does that child have a father?!”

Yes indeedy, she does, in fact, have a father.

Sometimes these traits are physical in nature, but sometimes we pass on talents and abilities to our children. Thankfully my girls have risen above my own inadequacies, conquering musical instruments and math with greater ease than I ever did.

As for me, I got a few traits from my parents. Some say I have my mother’s smile. Others think I have her hips. Whatever.

One thing I definitely did NOT get from my mother was what I call the “crafty gene.” From the time I was born, I can remember my mom stitching, sewing, and painting; seems she always had some sort of project going. Our kitchen table was a testament to her painting prowess. By the time I left for college the table was covered with little paint smudges and splotches, so much so that most of the time Mom kept a tablecloth on it so people couldn’t see how destroyed it was underneath. But I liked the table that way. It always reminded me of my mother’s many talents.

Unfortunately, those talents did not transfer to me. Not that we didn’t try. Oh boy, did we try.

When I was growing up, I was active in our local 4-H club. The Wauponsee Handy Anns, we were called—the name makes me chuckle still today. Even back then, when I thought of that name, I thought of the old doll, Raggedy Ann, and I imagined a group of girls, all dressed up with white pantaloons and striped socks and big red shoes sitting around discussing the latest method of boiling an egg to perfection.

Anyway, when I was in 4th grade I took sewing in 4-H because that’s what girls were supposed to do. Part of my final project, which I would then model at the 4-H fair, was a skirt. Elastic waist, simple hem. I remember that I chose purple fabric, which should have been my first clue that this project was going to be a disaster because I have never liked (and still do not like) the color purple.

Making that skirt nearly killed my mom and me and any hope we would have for a relationship in the future. I was so unskilled at the sewing machine that we very nearly came to blows, and I know that more than a few unseemly words were thrown around.

I eventually managed to turn out a final purple project. One that was crooked along the hem and too tight around the middle, but I modeled it at the fair, I did.

And then I took it off, wadded it up, threw it in the back of my closet, and never looked at it again.

By eighth grade I had decided that the whole “domestic goddess” thing was not in my future, so I took up cattle raising. That year I got a blue ribbon on my Herford heifer, Charlie (don’t ask why I gave a boy’s name to a heifer—I was na├»ve for a farm girl). I happily led Charlie around the show ring and felt more like myself than I ever did sitting behind a sewing machine. I should have learned my lesson right then and there.

Now, my older sister DID get the crafty gene. In fact, so crafty was she that she majored in home economics in college. Don’t even get me started on the guilt that induced in me. I don’t think there’s enough therapy to go around to cure me of that one.

I tried to keep up, I really tried. Over the years I tried cross stitching, embroidery, rug hooking. I don’t think I ever finished a project. As the projects piled up, so did the guilt. I knew that I would never measure up to my mom’s or my sister’s abilities.

And then one day, when my girls were young, as I was not enjoying and not finishing yet another craft project, it dawned on me. This is not who I am! I don’t enjoy sewing. I’m not good at it. I can’t seem to finish anything. It’s just not my area of giftedness, and by golly, that’s O.K.

I’m good at other things. Like reading. Now that’s a skill I’ve mastered and one I enjoy immensely. I tend to finish books, unlike all those craft projects that were stashed under my bed.

Unfortunately, a mom like me can’t really help her daughters become crafty if she isn’t crafty herself. I used to lay in bed at night worrying about this. How would my daughters discover their inner Martha Stewart if I couldn’t help them find her?

I shouldn’t have worried though, because in stepped Grandma. She taught my older two girls how to thread a sewing machine (something I still don’t do very well, mainly because I have fat fingers) and how to sew simple projects. Eventually, she taught them how to do larger sewing projects, like making a quilt. They are both great at it, and have turned out some beautiful work. Maggie tells me it’s her turn to learn now. (We’ll have to work on that, Mom.)

The point is, all is not lost! My girls might just have inherited the crafty gene. It just seems to have skipped a generation.

Or did it? Maybe it was in me all along. . . .

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

7 Quick Takes (Saturday)

Jen writes one of the most thoughtful blogs I read. She's a former athiest turned believer, and she has done a wonderful job of defending that conversion. Anyway, she has started a 7 Quick Takes Friday which I thought sounded like fun, but I was too busy yesterday to play. So here's my Saturday version. Hope that's o.k. Jen!

1. I claim to be a good cook, but yesterday could have completely ruined my reputation. Starting at 8:30 a.m. with six huge, frozen turkeys, and a day that could have easily been a disaster, my friends and I managed to pull off a Thanksgiving feast for 120 senior citizens at our church. This is not a testimony to my cooking skills; it is, rather, a testimony to the power of prayer.

2. I was told this week that I was a "cool" mom because I'm on Facebook. My reply was that I am not at all cool, just in the loop. I told my teenagers that if they wanted to have a Facebook account that I had to be their new BFF. I guess they wanted the account enough to let me be their friend (in cyber-life, not real life).

That said, I'm having fun with the whole Facebook thing. I actually do enjoy keeping up with people I normally wouldn't. Kind of like getting little Christmas card blurbs all year long.

3. There are some advantages to having another driver in the house. After grocery shopping one day last week, then coming home and unloading my groceries, I realized that I had somehow forgotten to get garlic. I tried to borrow some from a neighbor, but she wasn't home. Teenage driver spoke up and said, "I'll go get some!" Hooray for teenage drivers!

4. We hear about the price of food these days--outrageous, right? Well, after said teenage driver got home from the grocery store with a bulb of garlic, she and I were both a little confused. I had given her $3 because I had no idea how much a bulb of garlic would cost. She went through the self-service line to pay, and the total came to $.02. Could that possibly have been right? (Bless her heart, she put the receipt and the $2.98 change on the counter.)

So all week long we've been laughing about the $.02 garlic. But then it dawned on me . . . with the economy the way it is and money being tight for everyone, maybe we should all eat more garlic.

5. Sitting in the line of cars as high school gets out is always instructive. This week I noticed (not for the first time) that boys wear baggy jeans and girls wear tight jeans. Something is amiss here.

And by the way, to mothers who have teenage boys who wear their jeans around their butt to let their boxers show, here's a little tip: teenage girls do not think that's attractive AT ALL. Almost every day, as we drive away from school, we see this "look." My girls gag and roll their eyes and say, "Why doesn't someone tell them that they look ridiculous?!" Well, I'm telling you now.

6. We're having a non-traditional Thanksgiving this year complete with a hotel room, a hot tub, and Italian food. It's going to be great fun, and we're all looking forward to it. I'll post about it next week.

But the main thing about Thanksgiving this year is that we will be together. Last year I had just returned home from a 12-day hospital stay that included a pretty serious surgery. I spent Thanksgiving alone on the couch while my family went to relatives. We were all pretty sad about it. This year, on the other hand, we're celebrating . . . big time.

7. A very special package arrived in the mail this week. I am humbled, embarrassed, and overfull with emotion because of it. I'll fill you in in a couple of days.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend! Ours will be filled with lots of dog-walking, basketball games, and rest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lessons I Learned in Park City

I have to take a break from our great London/Paris adventure this week to tell you about my weekend in Park City, UT. Well, actually, I can’t tell you much, due to the pact that my friends and I made that we wouldn’t share the details unless, of course, I wanted to go to an early grave or face sudden and sure disfigurement.

But I did learn a few things which I will share.

1. Olympic ski jumpers – you know the ones that start up really high and then stretch out like they’re taking a nap in the air? – start learning their sport at age five. I ask you, what mother in her right mind lets her five-year-old start jumping off mountains? I wouldn’t even let my kids jump off the couch because the one time I did that, Maggie ended up in the hospital on Christmas Eve. Goodness!

2. If you put grilled chicken on a focaccia bun, along with some arugula and blue cheese and then grill it in a Panini press, you will have an object of my undying love. I ate this for lunch on Friday and craved it for the rest of the weekend. Windy Ridge Bakery—don’t miss it if you’re ever in Park City.

3. Those carved bears that you see everywhere that are so-cute-you-just-can’t-even-pass-one-up? . . . Each has its own personality. I think these bears pick their owner, kind of like the magic wands in the Harry Potter books. Just remember, if you have a really big house, you need a really big bear to make a statement.

4. There’s a Mexican restaurant which shall remain nameless (mainly because I don’t remember the name of it) that has a bathroom you should never, ever enter. Ever. Just trust me on this one.

5. Hanging out with skinny women all weekend doesn’t do much for one’s self-esteem. I think I need some serious therapy after this weekend. ‘Nuff said.

There was one more lesson that I learned this weekend, and I think it was worth the price of the entire trip for me. I learned that I’ve done my job.

I’ll explain.

When my first daughter was born, I sat holding her just minutes after her birth, and the strangest thought occurred to me. I told B, “From here on out, my job is to teach her to not need me.”

I know, you’re probably thinking I’m nuts. Here I’ve just given birth and the natural thing to do would be to hold your child close and never let her go. And it wasn’t like I didn’t love my daughter immediately. I did. For sure.

But I had this incredible, overwhelming sense that in order for her to be a happy, healthy grown-up person, I would have to teach her to be independent of me.

And so I’ve spent the past 17 years teaching her—and my other two daughters—to do as much as they can for themselves. They start with making their beds, progress to making their own lunches, and move on to doing some of their own laundry. With a whole lot of other responsibilities thrown in for good measure.

None of this is because I want to pass off my duties to them, like I’m lazy or something, but because I want them to be confident young women who can do things for themselves.

Enough of the parenting philosophy for today. Let’s get to the point.

So this weekend when I was away, I called home a few times. I mean, my friends were calling home, getting calls from home, and texting home all weekend. I thought I should probably join in the fun. So I called home a couple of times to see what was going on.

Not much, apparently. No crises. No food issues. No traumas. Nothing.

On Saturday night, B had to leave the girls at home to go to a work event in the city, so I thought I’d just call and check up on the girls to see how they were getting along. Here’s how the conversation went:

“Hi Kate, it’s Mom.”

“Oh, hi Mom! How are you?”

“I’m fine. I just wanted to check up on you guys to see how you’re doing.”

“We’re fine. Abby’s practicing her violin, Maggie’s upstairs, and I’m watching T.V. We had pizza for dinner. We’re really fine.”

“Oh . . . well . . . that’s good. Sounds like everything’s under control.”

“Yeah, we’re fine.”

“O.K. then. If you don’t need anything . . .”

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“You really miss us, don’t you? You don’t have to miss us, Mom. We’re fine. Just have a good time.”

And then we hung up. A quick, two-minute phone call. I just sat there, thinking, and suddenly I realized that they really don’t need me much. I’ve done my job.

I just sat there, in the display window of the Ann Taylor outlet store, and very nearly cried as this realization hit me. The thing that I’ve wanted for my girls is coming true—they don’t need me. They can stay home alone for a while, make their own dinner, find things to do, and even have fun . . . all without me.

Well, I may be doing my job, but I hope I’ll never be finished. I hope with all my heart that even when they are grown, and even if they move far away, that they will still need me. For something.

Even if it’s just to make that phone call that says, “I miss you.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I have a confession to make

I live a charmed life. Not much of a confession if you know me--you already know I live a pretty sweet life.

Good kids. Great husband. Super-duper doggie. And I get to stay home and take care of them all.

Actually, that wasn't the confession. The confession is that the "charm-ed-ness" is coming into full play this weekend when I head to Park City, UT with some girlfriends. Not that I need any more pampering AT ALL, but I will partake in some delicious food consumption, some hot-tubbing in the snow, and some pediculous toe polishing.

So I'll hopefully be back on Monday. Unless I stay in the hot tub.

For the love of coffee . . .

Like coffee? Like Dunkin Donuts coffee? Here you go . . . you can get a free sample just by clicking here.

Dunkin' Donuts. Dunkin' keeps me blogging. Try Dunkin' Donuts Coffee For Free. Get a Sample

Why not give it a try? And while you're at it, leave me a comment letting me know if you've taken them up on their offer or not. That would make my day!



P.S. Thanks, Robin, for the head's up!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Travel Tuesday - Borough Market, London

When it comes to travel, nobody can say I don't do my research. I pour over travel websites and maps and books for weeks and weeks before I leave.

So before Kate and I headed to London, I read about Borough Market. For a food-lover like me, this sounded like paradise. And it was.

Borough Market is only held on Friday and Saturday each week, but if you find yourself in London on either of those days, MAKE SURE you get to Borough Market. You will not be disappointed.

Borough Market is best experienced visually (of course the smells and sounds are pretty spectacular too), so here are a few pictures that Kate took when we were there.

Pastries. Aren't these absolute perfection?


Breads. Of every variety possible.


Wild Boar. If you're into that kind of thing.


Have I mentioned the pastries?


Cheese. From France, mon ami.


Every possible vegetable or fruit you can imagine, all artfully displayed for your shopping convenience.


Whatever you find at Borough Market will be beautiful, even yogurt. From France.


I haven't even gotten to the flowers, the chocolates, the ostrich eggs and feathers, the fish (squid on a stick, anyone?) and the wines. We probably spent close to two hours strolling through the booths, taking in the smells, listening to the vendors shout their wares to the crowd.

Our plane touched down on a Friday morning last March, and as soon as we got settled into our hotel, we headed to Borough Market. Even though it was the first thing we did in London, it was a highlight of the trip for me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

One Dog, One Dad, and One Logical Thinker

We’re nothing in this house if not passionate. You’d think we were Italian with the way we argue, debate, raise our voices, and get all excited about the silliest things. We’re not Italian, but I am wondering if one German and one Dutchman equal one Italian.

From the beginning of our relationship, B and I have debated just about everything. (For the record, neither of us are lawyers, but one of us should have been!) Over the past 25 years, we have fought argued discussed our way through various issues. Everything from politics to which direction the carpet should be vacuumed.

There’s very little gray area between us. The good thing is that we almost always know what the other person is thinking. We might not like what the other person thinks--and we’ll say so--but there’s hardly ever any underlying “stuff” between us.

This has made some people uncomfortable over the years. Our college friends just shook their heads at us, wondering how on earth we would ever make a marriage work. One friend even suggested that B just “give it up” (meaning me!) because “she isn’t worth it.”

Harrumph!

More than 25 years together, and we’re doing just fine thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, last week our analytical ways came back to bite us. More specifically, they came back to bite B. I guess we underestimated the power of those "little ears."

On a typical morning, B will kiss me goodbye at 5:30 a.m. as he’s heading out the door to the gym. I’m usually in a semi-comatose state, so I may or may not groan my goodbye to him. But one morning last week he skipped his workout because he was tired. Why was he tired, you ask? Because Thunder woke him up at 3:00 a.m. to go outside.

Now, this hardly ever happens. In fact, I can’t remember the last time it happened. So it was strange. There had to be something wrong with the dog that day because not only did she need to be let outside in the middle of the night, but she also threw up on a rug. I found that pleasant little package when I got up.

So B was sitting at the table eating breakfast when Maggie came downstairs.

“Hi, Dad! What are you doing here this morning?”

“I slept in a little because your dog got me up last night.” (Did you catch that? YOUR dog?)

“Really? Thunder got up in the middle of the night?”

“Yeah. And I had to let her outside. At 3 in the morning. And then she threw up on the rug. I don’t like your dog very much, Maggie.”

So about a minute of silence passed between them. B had gone back to the newspaper, and Maggie was quietly eating her breakfast.

“Dad?”

“Yeah?”

“If I got you up at 3:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom and then threw up on the rug, would you not like me anymore either?”

Looks like he may have met his match.



Sunday, November 9, 2008

I don't usually post on Sunday but . . .

. . . I'm going to make an exception today.

You know how sometimes you sit in church and sing the songs and you don't pay much attention to the words? And sometimes you're singing along and it's like, "Blah, blah, blah, blah, Jesus, blah, blah." Terrible, I know.

Well, today wasn't one of those days for me. To be truthful, it started out like that. We started singing one of those hymns that we sing every now and then. One of those hymns that I've sung probably a hundred times and have never paid attention to the words.

But as we sang more and more of the song, I started to sit up and take notice. The words to this hymn sprung to life to me this morning, so much so that I started to get teary-eyed (which isn't saying much because pretty much everything gets me going these days--I don't know why). And what makes it especially cool is that this hymn was written in 1901!

I just wanted to share it with you.


This Is My Father's World

This is my Father's world, And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas--
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world, O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns: let earth be glad!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Random Sentence of the Week

Kate: "Don't I make life interesting?"

Now, in order to really appreciate this week's random sentence, you have to know this child. She's always been the effervescent, bubbly, eager-learner type.

She's never had too many problems with self-confidence either!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Maggie the Brave

Sometimes your kids surprise you and humble you so much you can't believe that all the things you're teaching them are actually sinking in.

I had one of those moments yesterday. And now I'm wondering why I'm surprised at all--God is working in the lives of my kids.

A long time ago, months ago probably, Maggie told me that she was feeling bad about something she had done in fourth grade. It seemed like such a little thing to me, but I told her that if she needed to get it off her chest she should probably talk to that teacher.

Unfortunately, Maggie doesn't see that teacher very often at school, and I had completely forgotten about the issue. Thank goodness Maggie didn't forget.

When she got home from school yesterday Maggie told me that she ran into Mrs. J in the hallway. She told me she was nervous, but then she said, "I thought to myself that I better talk to her now about it or I probably never would, so I walked a little faster to catch up with her."

And then Maggie did such a brave thing. Something I am not sure many adults would even do. Something I'm pretty sure I've never done before.

She confessed. To her teacher.

She took a deep breath and said, "I did something last year that was wrong, and I'm sorry." O.K., not exactly in those words, but something along those lines with a few more specifics thrown in.

She said her teacher looked a little surprised and confused for a second, but then she simply said, "Oh! You're forgiven!"

At dinner last night, Maggie was practically floating on air as she explained the situation to our family. I said, "It feels like freedom, doesn't it?"

With a huge smile on her face, she nodded.

And with that simple act of kindness, those powerful words changed Maggie's day--and probably her life just a little.

To be forgiven is the best thing ever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Moving Forward

I haven't been able to write much this week. Partially that's because I've been busy and this has been my first chance to sit down at the computer and think, but also because my mind, my soul, my spirit has been conflicted about the events of this week.

I wrote about "world issues" last week, and I think that was enough from me.

But today I read this post by Lysa TerKeurst and found that she said what I've wanted to say . . . perfectly.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I've Got My Running Shoes On--It's Going to be One of Those Days

Yep, they're laced up tight because I'll be running all day today. So, since I have no time for creativity, I want to direct you to an article that I have been mulling over for a while. Read it and let me know what you think. (Thanks to Boo Mama for pointing it out!)

Oh, and if you'd like to read my latest devotional at Inspired Bliss, click here. Thanks!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One More Reason to Hate Halloween

I promise, this will be the last time I mention Halloween on this blog this year. But I just couldn't let this go.

For the record, I hate Halloween. I am a Halloween Grinch. And it has very little to do with the "true meaning" of Halloween and all that. It's because I'm not creative or crafty.

Starting in early September I get knots in my stomach when I think about having to come up with a costume. And buy candy. And carve pumpkins. The whole thing just makes me break out in hives.

None of it--and I mean NONE of it--is fun for me.

I am so glad my girls are getting older. Two of them did not dress up this year, and Maggie thought up her own costume. (Too cute--she wanted to be a chef. All we had to do was go to a local restaurant supply house and buy the jacket and hat. Easy peasy!)

So my week last week was anxiety-ridden, what with all the hoopla and build-up surrounding yesterday's festivities. And to top it all off, Maggie had summoned me to the Halloween party at her school.

"Pleeeeaaase, Mom? It's the LAST Halloween party I'll ever have."

How could I say no?

The night before Halloween, as we were sitting around the dinner table, Maggie's school principal called. No, he didn't call US personally, he called everyone in the school collectively. They have one of those call-everybody-at-once systems that comes in real handy sometimes, like when a child is nearly abducted in the neighborhood and they need to alert parents to be "extra vigilant" with our children.

But I digress.

Mr. Patterson called us while we were eating dinner, and the reason for his call was to remind everyone of the "costume standards" that were expected the next day.

No knives.
No fake blood.
No masks.
No weapons of any kind.
Nothing depicting any gore.

Basically, the girls could come dressed as Laura Ingalls Wilder and the boys could be Alfonzo.

Anyway, we were expecting this call--it comes every year--so after I hung up the phone we were all talking about it. "Isn't it just too bad that kids have to be reminded to not bring this stuff to school?" I asked. "Who would want to have a gory costume anyway?"

And then the high schoolers piped up.

"Mom, that's nothing. Today our principal had to make an announcement reminding kids in our school that they couldn't dress up as Playboy Bunnies."

"What?! Are you serious?" My husband and I spoke in unison.

"Oh yeah," Kate replied. "Last year there were all kinds of girls dressed up as, ah, sleezy jailers with handcuffs and everything."

Oh yeah, just put that on my ever-growing list of reasons to hate Halloween.

And consider my world officially rocked.