Saturday, December 31, 2011


The last day of the year is finally upon us. How fast the time goes anymore...Looking back, it's been quite a ride, as usual. Life is certainly never boring. Some of our highlights, good and bad:

Starting this blog, and keeping with it--I love writing again! Who knows where this could lead? And beginning to draw and paint a little more, as well...

Adopting Crash and Burn, then Tucker. Hand raising Baby Squiggy and Lenny and watching those two adorable miracles grow.

Michael meeting new friends at camp, which in turn led to a new friend for me...precious gifts!

Reuniting with members of my birth family, and realizing after all, some things are just better left the way they were. God does things for a reason.

A weekend away at the Women of Faith conference with friends from church and my sister-in-law, Wendy. What a great experience!! Looking forward to attending next fall's conference in Hartford!

God opening my heart to sponsoring Kiran. I'm so excited about getting to know him and watching him grow up over the coming years!

Exciting opportunities for the new year, looking forward to a new home and embarking on new dreams.

It's been a wonderful year. God has been very good to us, as always. I'm incredibly thankful for the wonderful friends He has blessed us with and the opportunities laid before us. I wish you all health, peace, and happiness for the new year!
God's blessings!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Our Lucky Number 23

This is a little uncanny tidbit about Bill and I-we are bound by the number 23. Both of our birthdates add up to twenty-three: his 6/24/56: 6+2+4+5+6=23, mine 7/3/67: 7+3+6+7=23. We moved in together October 23, got engaged November 23 (Thanksgiving Day), possibly got pregnant December 23 (who knows for sure), were married March 23, and Michael was born September 23rd.

We didn't go see the movie 23 when it came out a few years ago, though there are times I think about renting it--it just looks creepy and I'd rather not jinx our number with bad juju. But it does make me wonder what all the hoopla is about regarding the number 23. So, I Googled...

There's apparently some great enigma surrounding 23, lists go on forever over this number. Some of the more interesting things that caught my attention include:

Car giant Nissan is touched by a numerical coincidence. In Japanese, "ni" is 2, and "san" is 3. So Nissan would be 23. (Bill drives a Nissan Juke...)

The physical biorhythm cycle is said to be 23 days. It takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body. The male and female each contribute 23 chromosomes during conception. A full turn of the DNA helix occurs every 23 angstroms. The number of joints in the human arm is 23. There are 23 vertebrae in the human body.

Shakespeare was born on April 23. Shakespeare died on April 23. Two 23's equals 46 and, that's how old Shakespeare was when the KJV was published. Grab a King James Version of the Bible and turn to Psalm 46. Count 46 words and you arrive at the word 'shake'. Turn to the end of the chapter and count 46 words backwards and the word you end on is 'spear'.

The 23rd letter of the alphabet, W, has 3 points up and 2 points down.

The “Day the Music Died” was February 3 or, 2-3. This was of course the day Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper died.
On average, every 23rd wave crashing to shore is twice as large as normal. (Seriously? Who measures these things??)

Rock star Kurt Cobain was born in 1967 and died in 1994. Both years bizarrely add up to 23 if counted as individual digits: 1+9+6+7=23. 1+9+9+4=23.

The list goes on and on--pretty crazy! What's your lucky number?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Habits for a New Year

I don't have any New Years resolutions to make other than to get back on track with life again. I've fallen off the wagon with my food and fitness, and just staying on top of everything that needs to be done around the house the past couple of months. It could be a light bout of depression, knowing we were on the verge of possibly moving again, that threw me off. I just sort of stopped caring and spent more time crying...

It's easy enough for Bill. He'll take off for New York next week and begin his training for his new position. Not that he won't miss us and our friends here, but I'm left with the brunt of the work preparing to move and getting the house sold, both on top of being a single mom for the next uncalculable however many months until we do get moved. It's a lot of work and stress to take on, and though we've done this all before, it doesn't get any easier facing this task once more. Add to that the fact of having to say goodbye to another group of friends digs me a little deeper into my pit.

It's not that I'm not happy about the move. This is a great opportunity for Bill and I'm really proud of him, as always. And I am excited about heading to New England and being closer to Bill's family. It's just that it seems so far off, way at the end of another long, dark tunnel...that tiny glint of light, barely visible from where I'm sitting here today...The weight of the wait feels unbearable most days. I know we'll get there--it's just so hard doing it on my own.

Of course, I know wallowing in self-pity doesn't help accomplish anything and I do much better to focus on other tasks at hand. Once we get through the holiday this weekend and Bill heads north and Michael goes back to school, I will set myself to pulling out my moving organizers, start purging what we don't need to drag with us, and absorb my attention into doing what needs to be done-not just around the house, preparing to move, but also for myself, health and fitness wise. I know I feel a hundred times better when I make the effort to take better care of myself. Fitness is a great stress burner and heaven knows I'll need all the help I can get in that department to get us through with our sanity in tact!

So list happy crazy freak that I am, I was ecstatic to find this printable on Ann Voskamp's website, A Holy Experience, this morning: Daily planner printable Not only is it beautiful (all her printables are--remind me a lot of Marjolein Bastin's style...) but it breaks down your day into the most pressing needs, household tasks, daily chores, a schedule to plan your morning, afternoon, and evening, a place to track your food, fitness, and water (viola!), room to plan for tomorrow, and most importantly, a space to list things you've been thankful for throughout the day.

So, just as Bill will be distracted with his new job and responsibilities, this new planner could help keep me busy and distracted from how far away that tiny light is at the end of my tunnel and keep me focused more on the here and now: what I need to do for me and my family, rather than wallowing in the thought of "will we ever get there...?"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Soup's On!

We finally finished off the majority of the meat from our Christmas turkey yesterday so this morning brings the making of the soup! I only learned how to make a decent stock last year, thanks to a chef friend in Tennessee who gave me his secret tips on bringing out the best flavor from the carcass. Now I think I look as much forward to simmering my stock as I do eating the actual turkey hot from the oven!

Nothing quite says love on a frosty winter day like a steaming bowl of homemade noodle soup. It also sits at the top of my list for cold and flu remedies--well, minus the noodles for the flu...A nice bowl of broth does wonders for a weakened, dehydrated body, and soothes and comforts a stuffy, miserable, cold beleaguered head. Simply holding yourself over the fragrant steam rising from the bowl and drinking in the warming aroma can begin to make you feel better almost immediately. Love cures all...

So I've filled my big roasting pan with one emaciated turkey carcass, a few chopped carrots, one quartered onion, a couple bay leaves, Jane's Crazy Pepper and a good bit of kosher salt, peppercorns, and garlic. Covered it all in cold water and set it to boil on the stove top. I know, I know...I don't have any celery in the house....hoping that won't affect the end result too much. I can always add celery when I make the actual soup. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.

The house smells divine right now. The windows in the kitchen are blurred with the steam rising from the roaster. I'll let the stock simmer for a few good hours, then strain everything and pull the remaining meat from the turkey bones. I have four or five containers waiting to be filled with the stock and stored in the freezer for use later this winter, though one will be served up for dinner tonight (better stop and get that celery after lunch today!) Mmmm--I can't wait! Nothing says love like a bowl of homemade noodle soup!
Did someone say soup??

Happiest feet ever in my new Yaktrax Cozy Socks!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Internet Addict

If it's not one thing, it's another. First there was Twitter, which gave way to Facebook. Now after so many ridiculous changes on Facebook, I've found myself back on Twitter again. I pop back and forth between the two throughout the day, tweeting and facebooking--just in case I might miss something...anything...Really, I think I need to just pick a lane and stick to it!

And it would great if that lane would NOT be Facebook because on Facebook is the Sims Social. Oh, how I've lost my life to the Sims Social. It's relentless, endless, and flat out stupid. You create a little mini-you, build a little mini-house, add little mini-friend neighbors, clean up your mini-yard, and then! It's completely materialistic: you have to build more rooms, buy more furniture and decorate everything just so, and the game shows your standing amongst your peers--the value of your home compared to the others and encourages keeping up with the Sims-Joneses. And if that wasn't enough, they give you these quests to do, some of which require being not nice to neighbors, or starting gossip...I know it's not 'real', but still, it makes me uncomfortable. I wouldn't do it in real life, why would I want to do that in a game? Yeah, it's gone...(Sorry Jen!!)

Then, I used to be an Amazon addict, spending countless hours on their 'recommendations' list, browsing, shopping, dreaming and drooling over oodles of books I just had to have. Now there's Goodreads, which pretty much does the same thing without the added temptation of a simple click to buy the books. It's actually a little better as you rate the books you read, then it compares books you like with your friends' ratings, and creates a recommendation list comprised of similar books your friends loved. It could go on forever! My To-Read list has just crossed over 100 books! I downloaded the Goodreads app to my tablet so I have a handy dandy on the ready list of my To-Read books for trips to the library and used bookstores...but I'm promising myself to not buy any new books until I get through the stack I already have piled up. Bill's heard that one before...

Now there's Pinterest...I may never get off the computer ever again! The beauty behind Pinterest is...the beauty! When you sign up, they have you check off certain things that interest you: home decor, food and entertainment, travel, pets, books, etc...Then they create a list of people who share your same interests, and link you up to your friends on Facebook who are on Pinterest. These folks are who you now 'follow'. The gist behind Pinterest is to create 'pinboards' of things you love from the internet. When you pin something, it grabs the photo and you pin it to one of your boards (Home, Recipes, Books, etc...) Then, there's one main board that shows all your friends' pins--it's virtual eye candy! You can browse these boards, repinning friends' pins to your boards, liking and commenting...then browsing the internet to find more stuff to pin on your boards...I think this could be very dangerous. The recipe pictures alone have added five pounds to my hips! Though, I'm finding lots of great decorating ideas for our new house whenever we get moved! Working on that Honey-Do list already!!

So, if you're on Pinterest, follow me! I'm new so I don't have much up on my boards yet...time baby, give me a little time!
Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Christmas 2011

It was weird not writing yesterday, though I was tempted throughout the day to pull out the laptop and whip off a quick post. But, it was Christmas and I thought I'd allow myself a day off from writing, to just enjoy the day and the family, however things unfolded--which is huge for an OCD control freak like me!

Typically, I'd have the entire day planned out, and would fuss and grump and make myself and everyone around me crazy if (when!) things didn't go my way. This year I wanted more than anything to break that pattern and give up the control for once--to just relax, and enjoy the true gifts of what our day offered: time with our kids, gathered around the Christmas tree, opening presents in our pj's, breakfast and coffee available on a self-serve basis so no one person had to wait hand and foot on everyone else. The turkey, stuffing, and coleslaw had all been made the day before and was easily portioned out and popped in the microwave to reheat and eat whenever anyone felt hungry.

I know, I know--it's not the Norman Rockwell version, with the entire extended family gathered round two end-to-end dining tables, laid with the finest china and linens, sparkling centerpieces and gleaming crystal goblets, polished silver, and all the tempting trimmings of a traditional holiday feast--but it's that picture perfect idealistic configuration that drives me right over the edge of my sanity every year. I'm simply not cut out to do things that way. I wish I would've learned that lesson a lot sooner in my life...

Presents were opened a little past four. Michael woke up at midnight, then quarter to two, two-thirty, and finally at four, after I tried to silently tiptoe to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. He was right on my heels, wanting to know if he could wake everyone else up and open presents. Fortunately we all know he's a super crazy early bird on Christmas morning, and coffee cups filled, the family trudged to the basement to let the unwrapping begin.

Breakfast followed next: Bill had brought home two tea breads from work earlier in the week and so we served those rather than fuss with an overnight breakfast casserole or coffeecake. Another pot of coffee went on and we all squeezed around the breakfast nook to eat. I guess that was really our holiday meal, if I think about it. Bill, Ash, and Kyle all went back to sleep after that. Michael played with his new PSP game, and I puttered about, washing the few dishes and mugs, tossing laundry in the washer, and catching glimpses here and there of the twenty-four hour Christmas Story marathon on TBS as I gathered gifts to be put away and decluttered the leftover holiday mess. Another OCD issue: I can't leave gifts piled under the tree for a week...everything gets put away Christmas Day...I just can't help myself there!

Ashlee and Kyle had to head to her uncle's for the afternoon to visit with her mom's side of the family before returning to the airport and flying back to Massachusetts that evening. Bill busied himself with a few household repair jobs as we prepare the house for the market, and we never really got back together around the table for another meal. Michael and I were both a little green around the gills with whatever bug he brought home from school on Friday and appetites were at an all time low anyway.

So, it was a rather simple, casual Christmas, and I kinda like how it all went. Next year I'll pass on the flu bugs if possible--that we could all do without. Of course, hopefully next year will find us up north in our new home, in the midst of a full Maurice family Christmas, which is an entirely different experience--it's very loud: bunch of Italians all trying to talk over one another, joking, teasing, and laughing...I don't stand a chance of being heard, so I just sit back and quietly, happily, take it all in...

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas, filled with family and fun, making memories for years to come!

Tucker's first Christmas-he never bothered so much as a single ornament or gift! Good boy!!

This video is great--what a brilliant way to bring Jesus in the midst of commercialistic chaos shopping...Loved it (I cried, of course...)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sickies for Christmas

So my Bug has the holiday hum bug...He fussed yesterday morning while waiting for the bus that his stomach didn't feel good but, since he didn't have a fever, I shipped him off to school anyway. Then when I arrived at his classroom later in the afternoon to help with their Christmas party, he was much mopier and still complaining of a tummy ache and dizziness. He'd been to the nurse's office earlier in the day, and like me, since he had no fever, she sent him back to class.

I asked him if he wanted to go home or stay for the party and he opted to stay a while. Poor sweet Bug, curled up in a sad little heap upon his desk while the other kids played Bingo and put together foam ornaments. Finally he came over to where I stood, clustered with the other moms, wrapped his arms around me and asked if we could go home, big brown eyes sitting sad in darkening circles. We gathered up his backpack and coat, tucked away his Christmas treat bag and snowman cupcake, wished his teacher a merry Christmas, then headed out the door to go home.

Nothing melts your heart like when your baby is sick. I took his temperature when we got home and it was starting to climb. He changed into his pajamas and buried himself under the afghan on the sofa. Tucker stump wagged and kissed the tip of forehead peaking out under blanket and bangs, offering the best comfort and love a puppy knows how.

Dosed with Tylenol and nursing a can of ginger ale, those soon found their way back up. He's not even been able to keep water down through the night. He woke up around five saying he felt better-he doesn't want to miss our friends' Christmas Eve party today, but his fever is even higher than it was when he went to bed last night. It didn't take long for him to go curl back up in my bed and fall fast asleep again.

So sending hubby and daughter and boyfriend to the Christmas party today while Bug and I stay home in jammies, slippers, and robes. We can watch Christmas movies and nibble toast, try some more ginger ale. I may pop our turkey in the oven today, just to have that portion of tomorrow ready since Ashlee and Kyle are spending their afternoon with her mom's family before they fly home. Pre-slice it, whip up some gravy, and the stuffing casserole...I always liked turkey better the next day myself. Anybody who's hungry can nibble and snack when they're ready. Sickies not eating won't need to feel left out while everyone else is crowded around the table, hungry and feasting.

I finished my Jesse Tree Advent prayer calendar a day early this morning, figuring there may not be time tomorrow since, sick or not, I still expect Bug to be up bright and early to see if he avoided Santa's naughty list after declaring his unbelief last week--he's been so worried he offended Santa, he's asked me every day if he'll still get presents this year! I suppose this will be our last Santa year...savoring sweet innocence a little bit longer...

Anyway--picture below of the finished calendar. We haven't finished Michael's tree yet, distractions with family here waylaid our project. Maybe if he's feeling up to it later today, he can fill in his remaining ornaments.

A very merry Christmas to all and a happy, healthy new year! God's blessings and peace be with you always!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Here We Go Again...

Well, we made it official yesterday and announced we are moving to New England next year. Bill has taken a promotion with his job that has us relocating...again. I'm at least thankful he is staying with the same company this time so we won't have to go through the typical ninety day probationary period without health insurance like we've endured in the past when he's changed jobs completely--Michael was always guaranteed to fall sick during those three months without fail. So that's one bonus.

Another bonus is that we'll finally be close to Bill's family. His parents and siblings all migrated from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts and Connecticut decades ago, then his daughter followed suit and moved north as well a few years back. In the back of my mind (a frightening place to be...) I always figured it was only a matter of time before we ended up there ourselves, especially once Ashlee made the move--after all, that's where our eventual grandbabies will be! (Not rushing anyone, just sayin'...grandbabies!!)

Add to the fact that Bill's parents are both in their nineties and declining health-wise, and Bill's sister had taken on the responsibility for their daily care after moving them into her house over five years ago. It'd be nice to be close not only to spend this remaining time with his parents but to also give his sister a much needed hand and an occasional break from this weight on her shoulders. I would've given anything to be with my dad and now that he's passed I can't get that time back. I certainly don't want Bill to end up with the same regrets that I have.

The icing on the cake is that we're moving to NEW ENGLAND!!!! I have dreamed my whole life of living in New England, fell head over heels when I visited there as a kid with my family, and  grew ever more enchanted (mostly with Maine) through my devout teenage reading of every book Stephen King had written, since most of his novels take place in or around Maine (and he lives there, too! So going stalking...!!!) I mean, come on--it's GORGEOUS there! There's both mountains AND ocean! Sea ports and breathtaking landscapes--I think autumn in New England wins hands down over anywhere else in the world. The region is richly steeped in history. It's artsy--quaint gift shops, galleries and museums are everywhere up there. It's everything I've ever wanted rolled up all together--could a girl be any happier??

So, Bill heads off to New York right after the new year to begin training. I'll at least have him home on the weekends for a few weeks. Then in February he heads to Massachusetts for good, staying with his sister, while Michael and I remain in PA until the house sells. I'm dreading the selling and the packing and the separation, the ridiculous nightmare we always have to drudge through waiting, waiting...I'm praying for patience and strength to see us through and a quick, smooth sell, for once...please?? And I hate leaving more friends behind, and my family here...but give an open invitation to come visit anytime!! New England, baby!!

Need I mention the snow?? Massachusetts gets almost double the amount of snow we have here in PA--double!! Autumn mountains, ocean summers whale watching, double stuff snowy heart is already singing,'s happening...New England! Happy...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Final Stretch

Yesterday it seemed like the week was crawling...Wednesday? Only Wednesday? Now, for some reason, Thursday morning feels like we've somehow slipped into hyperdrive! Maybe because we actually have plans for every day the rest of the week and Christmas morning looms ever closer on Sunday and I know the days will indeed pass too quickly. 2012 fast approaches...

Filling the remainder of our week's calendar is, after school today, bowling for Michael to show off his technique with his new ball for Sissie and company. Then out to eat, as to where has yet to be determined since we seem to be of differing minds for now...Food, wherever it may be, will be just fine...

Friday is Michael's school Christmas party, and I've volunteered to help. The other afternoon had me separating little snowman and Santa foam ornament kits into individual ziplock baggies so they could be more easily distributed amongst the kiddos. Games and snacks are planned as well, then finally! We are off for winter break--no school until after the New Year! Yippee! Just hoping...for...a little snow...for...a...white....Christmas? Santa...please?? (Applying the Boo Boo eyes and pouty lip...)

Christmas Eve we are headed to a friend's party for the day (yes, this is an All-Day-er...They have a HUGE family and tons of friends who show up every year. Lots of noise and chaos, food and fun!)Then, Ashlee and Kyle are spending the night so they can be here to open presents with Michael at four a.m. again...He's an extra super early riser come Christmas morning. We all sat out on the backporch in the still dark opening presents last year, a little chilly in spite of the portable electric heaters trying their best to churn warm air into the frosty cold of morning. This year we'll be in the cozy comfort and warmth of the basement--a much better idea. Amazingly, Tucker hasn't bothered with the tree at all--though I'm sure once presents are underneath will be a completely different story. It's hard to take off with a six foot plastic tree in one's mouth, but a box of candy or newly unwrapped squishy socks?? Not a hinderance in the least! Aaannnddd--he's OFF!! Oh boy....

Christmas Day we'll be lounging and lazing. Turkey and stuffing going in the oven first thing so folks can just pick and nibble whenever they're hungry throughout the day. Nothing formal or fancy this year since I tend to get too worked up over details. For the sake of my OCD sanity, I'm trying my best to let the edges slide some and not stress so much--no one likes a grumpy Scrooge...Then Ash and Kyle fly home again late that afternoon, and Christmas will be over for another year. The time does go too quickly...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ruling the Unruly

Maybe it's me. Maybe I just forget what it's like, having a kid's perspective. Michael...he is truly a conundrum. I just wish I could understand where his thinking and rationalization comes from, because he utterly befuddles me.

I don't buy pop (er, soda, for you non-Burghers.) It's expensive, it's all sugar, and it rots your teeth as well as your stomach. But we have company for the holidays who do drink pop, so I bought a few six packs for them to enjoy while they're here and decided to treat Michael with a six pack of his favorite root beer so he wouldn't feel neglected. (Heaven forbid!)

My child. He is an only child (well, his half-sister is 24 and lives in Massachusetts, so he's technically growing up as an only child...) As such, he really has no competition for the treats and things I buy just for him, although his father will every now and again dip into M's stashes only to reap a scolding from me. I buy certain things, treats, if you will, for each of us: unfrosted brown sugar pop tarts, beer, and mixed nuts for Bill; fruit snacks, Capri Sun, string cheese, and Goldfish crackers for Michael; organic granola cereal, greek yogurt, an occasional avocado, and mixed berries for myself. Perhaps it's because my brothers never respected my things growing up that I've gotten so adamant about my rule of 'Don't eat my stuff, I don't eat yours!' But I will go off on the offender for crossing treat lines, and I admit, it's not pretty...

Anyway, I digress...Upon bringing pop into our house, I issued the decree to Michael that only one can of pop is to be consumed within any given twenty-four hour period. I laid down this law because my child would most certainly consume all six cans as fast as humanly possible and then demand more. I've observed this gruesome gluttony with his fruit snacks as well, child briefly turned chipmunk, stuffing two or more packs of fruit snacks in his maw all at once, cheeks bulging with their burden. He's done this ever since he was little...and I can't understand why. No one else threatens his fruit snack stash--they're not going anywhere but he has to eat them as if they're the only fruit snacks he'll ever enjoy on earth!

I caught him trying to sneak a second can of pop the other day, and not even two of his root beer, he had snagged a Sprite for his succeeding drink. Fortunately I busted him before he could pop the can open and insisted he return it to the fridge, upon which began a rant and raving of how unfair I am, so mean, it's just pop! He was thirsty! There's water, milk, Capri Sun, orange juice...plenty of other options at his disposal....But that pop! He couldn't bear the temptation...he had to have a pop!

Okay, I understand the 'Gotta Have It!' mentality, because if there's chocolate in the house, it taunts me unmercifully until I eat every last bit...So I don't buy chocolate other than in single serving size. I know my weakness and I avoid that trap as best I can. Am I expecting too much of my ten year old?

It's just that he refuses to follow rules. Not just when it applies to how many cans of pop he's allowed to consume in a day, it's every other rule his father and I have laid down for him since the day of his birth. Don't chase the dogs in the house. Don't take things that don't belong to you. He has a folder of mom approved websites he's allowed to play on and he's only to play on those specific websites. Yet, when he thinks I'm not paying attention, he's off and playing on other sites, or Googling or You Tubing girlie pictures and videos--oh yes, busted!! And he's only ten! And that was when he was nine! I so have my work cut out for me...

But back to the pop (I'ma ramblin' try to keep up!) Due to his little outburst over my incredible audacity to limit his daily sugar intake, I sent him to his room for a time out and requested during his time in solitary that he write for me a paragraph explaining his inability to follow the house rules. I am completely perplexed at how to get through to this child, so was hoping for a little insight on just how his brain works in this regard, this thinking that Michael is allowed to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, regardless of what I or his father or teachers have to say.

More grumbling and arguing and fussing ensued, ranting wanting to know what to write, as if I was supposed to give him the answer to that which has ever eluded me?! Finally he settled down and took to the task of writing his paragraph. Only, when he delivered his given assignment, it wasn't a paragraph explaining the perplexity of his inner mind when confronted with ridiculous rules and regulations, but rather a letter requesting that the pop limit rule be changed to allow him not one but two cans of pop a day so he can, quote: "be comfy!" End quote. Oh, he went on to explain the reason he wanted a second pop was because his sister wasn't at the house that night (she was visiting other friends, how dare she!) And how "Pop is addictive!" Another quote. Again, implying that it's not his fault he tried to sneak a second can of pop--it's Sissie's fault for not being at his side twenty-four hours a day while she's in town, and the addictive quality of the pop--he's just a kid after all! And to square up the whole deal, he drew two smilies, one him and one me, with a heart in between, labelled 'Forever.' What do you do with that?

Apparently you don't buy pop.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Amazing Gift

I can't stop looking. After reading Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo about his four year old's experience in heaven, and this eight year old prodigy's rendering of the likeness of Jesus, I can't stop looking at the painting. I wonder if she knew what a gift she was giving the world when she painted that portrait: the beautiful face of our Lord.

I could spend all day lost in those eyes, tears welling inside of me, ashamed of my life, who I've been, who I should've been after what He has given me. But all I feel is love...peace wash over me...deep in my soul. I can't stop looking...

And isn't that what we are meant to do, keep our eyes focused on Jesus? Keep looking? Lost in His love, pouring out of hope.

I Googled Akiane's name this morning, hoping to find a site to purchase a print of the Prince of Peace. $450 for the smallest giclee is a wee bit out of my range of affordability-just a tad. In the process of my Google though, I came across another site that confirms the likeness again as a match to the Shroud of Turin. Goosebumps!! I didn't need to read that to believe this is His face. I trust little Colton's confirmation in Heaven is for Real. Childlike faith-it doesn't get more real than that. I'll quickly doubt an adult's word only because we've been in this world too long, tainted by the darkness. But I believe in the innocence of our children. I believe this is the face of Christ.

I can't stop looking. I won't stop looking. Beautiful Savior, Prince of Peace. Thank you Akiane!

the cross in christmas from tammi dryden on Vimeo.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crazy Movie Week!

Christmas break will soon be upon us-though not soon enough with Sissie here. Michael doesn't have any days off from school until next week and Ashlee and Kyle fly home again on Christmas day...So we're trying to make some plans for after school. As it is, Bill has to work the first half of the week to make up for the days he was off for his kidney stone surgery, but it'll make us all appreciate the latter half of the week and the time we do have together before planes depart for Massachussetts Sunday evening...

Then next week when my little Bugster is home from school, the days are filling in quickly. Hair and dentist appointments, bowling dates, and movies, movies, movies!! We'd made plans with our friend, Carol, to go see War Horse when we saw the preview at The Deathly Hallows in July. Then Darkest Hour is also being released Christmas Day. And Hugo and Tin Tin are playing as well!! I've never had so many movies I've wanted to see all at once! So far the plan is to see War Horse on Tuesday ($2 popcorn day! And I will be packing candy and kleenex!!) Then hopefully we can squeeze in a Daddy Date to see Darkest Hour before he heads to New York the next week. Hugo and Tin Tin might have to wait until they hit the cheaper theater at the mall...but at least that'll give us something to look forward to for a fun Me 'n Bug Date later on...Roll 'em!!
I am so gonna cry....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What's On Your Winter Reading List?

Last year, er, at the beginning of this year (not meaning to rush the holidays at all here...) I challenged myself to read the entire Harry Potter series from beginning to end before the final movie hit the theaters in July. I had so much fun completely immersing myself in the magical wizarding world, I finished with time to spare, and now I long to reread the series again! I am completely addicted to Harry--not new news here...

Then I had to find something to read that could possibly hold my interest, trying to follow in JK Rowling's footsteps. Surprisingly, thanks to recommendations from several friends, I've had a great year of reading! I began GRR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series with Game of Thrones, which I loved! I have the next three books already, but want to stretch those out until Dance With Dragons is released in paperback, which won’t be until next October (I think...) I'm too cheap to buy it in hardcover but, amazingly, the paperbacks cost less than the Kindle versions! to help fill in that time span, I plan to read the Lord of the Rings series beginning with rereading The Hobbit, which I have waiting under the Christmas tree--yay! So that's a healthy helping of seven good books to start off 2012!

Other excellent books I've read this year were Rob Bell's Love Wins (which I have to share if anyone's interested, just holler!), Garth Stein's Art of Racing in the Rain, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (awesome!!)and I just finished Todd Burpo's Heaven is for Real. I also read Don Piper's 90 Minutes in Heaven (been quite an afterlife reading year and Love Wins added another interesting level to what those two books offered...)

Three more books on my 2012 Wanna Read List are The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Nightwoods by Charles Frazier, and Ken Follett's Winter of the World-sequel to Fall of Giants and due out sometime in the later half of next year. I'm thinking it's going to be another great year of reading ahead! What's on your reading list?

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

The End of an Era

"Santa's not real! I know he's not real!" The blatant declaration bellowed in my face as Michael climbed in the car after being dropped off by the school bus. "I'll tell ya' how I know, too!"

What does a mom say to that as her heart breaks silently watching another piece of her baby's innocence being wiped away?

He quoted his speculations, clearly repeating what other kids at school had fed him, stealing his childlike faith, rushing him ever closer to independence and adulthood. Sometimes I really hate that he goes to public school. But I can't protect him forever from the outside influences of the world-he'll have to face all the reality eventually. This is just the beginning of the crumbling, the conforming. I still don't have to like it.

Rather than plead Santa's case, I simply changed the subject. Privileges were hanging in the balance of his behavior in class that day. If he'd lost minutes, he'd lose bowling and time out and about with Sissie, who we've been counting the days until she'd get here (later this afternoon!! Yay!) At last, a day without a loss of minutes--again. That last minute's saving grace. Somehow he always manages to behave himself on Fridays when weekend fun is looming. Now I just need a way to make that threat more imminent throughout the earlier portions of the week and maybe salvage some of his teacher's sanity the rest of this school year...

So he's ready to let go of Santa. I thought we'd get one more year at least, he was so desperate to hold on to his belief earlier this season. It's also a little letting go of the apron strings and I'm oh so not ready for that. Isn't it enough he hit double digits this year? I look at my baby's sweet face and he's changing. Softer, younger features slowly disappearing as he gets a little more mature...round, chubby cheeks giving way to cheekbones, big adult teeth filling in his silly toothy grin, curling bangs dangle over eyebrows as he won't allow me to crop his locks to a quick crew cut anymore. He wants hair long, like his friend, Andrew, across the street. Fifteen year old Andrew--how fast five more years will go and I'll be looking at an almost man standing there in place of my sweet baby boy...

No more Santa. I've written Santa's name on some of his packages. Santa used to get all the credit. Then, was it last year? Michael said Dad and I didn't ever get him anything for Christmas, only Santa. Uh...hmmm...This year I did put our names on some of those tags, but still left room for some credit for Santa. I'm leaving it. Maybe there's a tiny shred of belief buried in growing boy's heart, a minute flame still kindled. I'm not ready to let go. Not just yet.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Long, Long Day...

I've been up since about midnight. I may have drifted back to sleep periodically-I seem to remember fragments of dreams, but whether they're from last night or a previous night, my brain seems unable to recall. All I know is I'm tired and it's gonna be a long, long day.

I've had this cold for going on a month now. Truly. I thought colds were only supposed to last seven to ten days but this bugger just won't quit! I've been stuffy and coughing, lost my voice for about a week. It appeared to clear up for a day or two, then my throat got to scratching again and it's not improved a bit. I've given up on my Alka Seltzer Plus fizzies and eat honey lemon Halls hourly throughout the night.

So, I looked at my clock just a little before midnight. Then it was almost one and then one fifty-five. Tucker jumped off the bed a couple minutes past three and started whining at the bedroom door. I tossed back the quilt and blanket, grabbed my purple leopard slippers from the dresser, and drug myself out into the dark too early day. Pea was waiting on the other side of the door, most likely the culprit who woke up Tucker. Ruby rolled her round white belly over and followed the other two out the back door for an early morning excursion. Back inside, I started the coffee brewing then began counting and sorting treats before rounding up the laptop and Bible.

Thoughts of an early shower and escape to Walmart briefly entered my mind, then realizing I'd only have to go back out later to grab Aldi's items, I wiped that thought away. Let the dogs back in, administered treats and chewies, then settled in for a little time in Isaiah and blog post readings. Leave it to Tucker to start the day's aggravations...

I always give Pea and Tucker the same chewies, otherwise they'll fight and argue like any brother and sister. Inevitably, same treats or not, there's still a squabble at some point every morning and on and off again throughout the day. Tucker just happened to be this morning's instigator. I know--you're surprised, right? Standing up on the couch, towering over Pea and Ruby on the floor below, he began barking his dissatisfaction over some self-perceived injustice. Pea, unperturbed under the coffee table, gnawed on her pig skin twist (aka Oinkie) Ruby, however, laid too close to Tucker's Everlasting treat ball and thought she might claim it as her own. Tucker would have none of this insurrection!

Mind you, two other humans are still trying to sleep this early in the morning, so I have to do my best to keep the canine childrens as quiet as possible. This apparently wasn't going to be an easy task this morning. I reclaimed Everlasting treat ball from Ruby, brought it to the kitchen and stuffed it with fresh Ol Roy biscuits, then quarantined Tucker into the kitchen with me while the other two entertained themselves silently and peacefully in the living room.

Too quiet for Tucker. He found his Nylabone (still in excellent condition after several weeks--a truly amazing feat for any toy at Tucker's disposal!) and thought it would be a fun thing to toss it around the kitchen, crashing and banging off the ceramic tile...Really Tucker? Took the Nylabone away, hidden on the top shelf of the bakers rack. He gave his best boo boo eyes as I sat back down to my morning busyness of blog perusing.

Tuck then climbs up next to me on the kitchen nook bench, I mistakenly take this as a ploy for ear scratches. His agenda, however, was to remove Christmas cards I have hung on and around the mirror behind me....

I'm out of chewies and Oinkies. He's bored with toys that don't squeak or crash when you toss them to the floor. I can't let him loose in the house, otherwise he'll go bed bouncing to wake up sleeping humans, or discuss the unfairness of still unchewed dog treats with the two peaceful ones in the living room...Finally, he does settle down and curl up quietly beside me, a mottled brown and black puddle, white paws tucked beneath him. If only I could find my way back to bed for a few more moments of sleep...maybe I will just head to Walmart after all and skip Aldi's this week...beat the rest of the pre-holiday rush for the day. Beats sitting here zoning in the dark...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another Day Gone to the Dogs

Having three dogs, life is certainly never boring in our house. Mind you, it was considerably calmer before Tucker came along-one didn't have to worry about shoes or slippers going missing, or furniture suddenly sprouting gaping holes...And I'm sure some would argue those are surprises they'd happily live without. To each their own, I say.

Yesterday was already geared up to be a financially challenging day with two of our pooches having veterinary appointments late that afternoon for blood work to test for heartworms. After discovering Tucker's case of whipworm, the vet recommended all three dogs be put on Interceptor, a monthly worming preventative treatment, since whipworm is so difficult to eradicate. The eggs can lay dormant in the soil for up to five years and continually reinfect your pets. So just treating them once with a dewormer would be useless without some form of continuous follow up treatment. And since Interceptor is primarily a heartworm preventative, the dogs must first have a blood test done to see if they are infected with the parasite before beginning treatment. Interceptor also controls a variety of other worms, including the dread whipworm, so that was the route would we go to help protect our precious pups.

And so our day began with this appointment looming overhead. I was at least happy that Bill had the day off and would be home to help me take Ruby and Sweet Pea to the vet's. One I can handle on my own, but two is a little tricky. While hubby was home, he took some time to attend to a few things I had on his Honey Do List. We'd put off patching the bathroom door where Tucker had stripped quite a chunk of wood one day while home alone (pre-crating days), not quite sure how to fix this dilemma. But, over the weekend, Bill had applied a coat of spackling to fill in the uneven spots where the wood had been stripped away. Then yesterday morning, sanded the spackling and gave the whole door a new coat of fresh white paint.
Door decor ala Tucker
Meanwhile, in the living room, Tucker had discovered another spot where Bill had also spackled the wall where Michael had left a huge gash from trying to climb over the baby (er, puppy) gate one morning only to have it fall under his weight and leave a nice curving dent as the gate gouged the wall on its way down. Curious as Tucker always is, he had to 'taste' a sampling of this patch of white standing out so invitingly against our rhino grey wall. Spackling apparently is quite tasty to Tucker and he proceeded to chew a good tennis ball sized hole into the drywall. Bill, discovering this new cavity, lost his patience and spewed, rather loudly, a mouthful of curses and shooed Destructo Dog out the back door and into the rain. Dug out the bucket of spackling and patched up the wall once more.

A little later, figuring Tucker's time out had expired, I let the chew hound back inside. Bill and I both busy with other distractions of showers and phone calls and normal day to day demands, Tucker quickly found an interesting smell coming from the bathroom door--paint! At first, he simply stuck his nose in it and I wiped him off with a wet washcloth, then proceeded myself to touch the wet paint-twice, aggravating Bill just a little more for the morning as he tried his best to smooth over both of our boo boo's. Then, a little after that, I noticed Tucker's nose and more around his mouth were white again...oh no. He had licked a nice little spot on the door clean of paint. Bill threatened to evict my Tucker from our home and family as I ushered the trouble maker into his crate for another time out and, once again, Bill applied another coat of paint to the bathroom door then reminded me every few minutes that the paint was wet so I wouldn't go and mess up all his hard work yet again. Yes dear....sorry dear...We've certainly had better starts to our days.

Finally, off we went for our weekly lunch date and to peruse the mall for a few last minute Christmas gifts (for me! Yay! Checking off that wish list from the other day! Haha!) Tucker was safely tucked into his crate and the other two, no doubt, snoozed the afternoon away, unaware of their upcoming appointment with Dr. Lombardo. Home in time to wrap up these last few gifts before buzzing up to the bus stop to pick up Michael after school. The paint had finally dried on the bathroom door and Bill made sure the living room wall was blocked from any more sampling attempts of Tucker's. Some semblance of peace was at last descending on our home once more...

Michael quickly finished his homework, lured Tucker back to his crate with a handful of treats, and we rounded up Pup One and Pup Two, Sweet Pea immediately protesting. She hates going in the car and works herself up into such a frenzy, she always throws up, usually all over me. I at least remembered to give her a ginger snap prior to heading out as the ginger helps soothe frantic tummies, and we avoided the usual vomitting this trip (thank goodness for small favors on days such as these!)

The doctor's office was unusually crowded. I'm normally there first thing in the morning which is much quieter. There were our two, two kitties, an adorable Westie sporting a tartan Christmas jacket and festive red painted toe nails, and a nervous, balding German Shepherd, all waiting to be seen. Tellulla Belle, the Westie, was first. Ruby sat calm and quietly while Sweet Pea fussed and moaned, nervously pacing between Bill, Michael, and me. Finally it was our turn and we scooted our babies into the doggie room.

Two quick vials of blood were drawn and sent over for the heartworm test. Bill smartly suggested Sweet Pea should have her nails trimmed while we were there--another task she vehemently abhors, as do Bill and I because she makes it so unbearably difficult. I have to hold her in a wrestler's death grip, feeding her treats continuously, while Bill tries to clip her nails as she fights my hold on her, wriggling and squirming with all her might. Somehow we've only managed to clip a nail too far and make her bleed just once in her five years. Last night, I think more than half of her nails bled from her fighting the tech so bad, and I cried as she fussed and fought and baby blood dripped to the floor. Ruby sitting so patiently and still, oblivious to the trauma afflicting her sister.

Finally she was done as were the blood tests. Heartworm came up negative for our two girls but Ruby tested positive for Lyme disease. Ticks have been simply awful this year. In spite of having the three of them on Frontline, I've still pulled five or six ticks off each of them through the summer and fall. Leave it to my Ruby to be the one to get sick. A prescription was filled for doxycycline for her that she'll have to take every day for the next six weeks. The rest of our bill tallied and paid, we wished the front desk girls a merry Christmas, wishing ourselves to not have to see them again until well into the new year (shots come up in February!) and whisked our little brood out into the night to head home for dinner.

Doors painted, walls patched, blood tests drawn and nails clipped was all a little more than any of us anticipated or needed yesterday. But, we all survived our trying day and hopefully today will seem all the easier in light of yesterday's difficulties.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What is Your Favorite Holiday Movie?

The must see movie of Christmas for me has to be A Christmas Story. I even cue up the TV every Christmas morning for the twenty-four hour Christmas Story marathon on TNT and just let it play all day long. I've fallen so in love with Ralphie and Randy, I gathered up the entire family and we made the trek to Cleveland to tour the actual house from the film! It was a little disappointing, though, with obviously no snow in July, and then, upon entering the house, learning that only the exterior had been used in the filming. All the interior rooms had been filmed on sets. The schoolhouse is up in Canada somewhere, and even the Chinese restaurant and Higbees no longer exist. Still, we did get to meet Randy, or rather Ian-his real name, and copped his autograph while we were there. The backyard and garage were indeed where Ralphie shoots Black Bart's band of outlaws with his Red Ryder BB gun, with the compass in the stock and this thing which tells time, so we lingered there a while, soaking in the nostalgia of movie memories indelibly burned in brain matter, imagining the Bumpus hounds tearing a mad getaway through the yard after scarfing down the Parker family's Christmas turkey. Of course, I now own the DVD and have been known to pop it in the player throughout the year as well--why limit a classic to a such short viewing time during the holidays??
You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I Want for Christmas

Isn't that the worst-trying to figure out what YOU want for Christmas? I have no trouble shopping for others on my list and when I'm out I do see lots of goodies that I would love to have, but do I need them? Most likely not. But when someone in the family asks what I want for Christmas, I always come up blank. I don't know...I don't need anything...I don't even really want anything other than for the kids to enjoy Christmas. And snow. But I haven't figured out a way to buy snow for Christmas morning...look out when I do! Blizzard!! Hahaha!

What I would like...hmmm. All right, if I have to come up with a wish list, here it is:
~Nightwoods by Charles Frazier (or an Amazon gift card-one can never go wrong with books...)
~The Hobbit by Tolkien--I want to start the Lord of the Rings trilogy but think I ought to start by rereading the Hobbit first, it's been way too long...
~Candles-I love candles, especially vanilla and buttercream or spicy cinnamony pumpkiny scents
~Painting goodies--I'm totally digging these watercolor pencils, more of those and good heavy, watercolor paper tablets! And drawing supplies, too--yeah!
~A wonky, funky scarf that looks like it should belong in the trash rather than wrapped around one's neck. You know the kind, the ruffled, fringy, twenty different kinds of yarn twisted all together (yeah, I'm weird...big shock there)
~Hallmark has the most incredible looking bootie slippers called Snoozies---aaahhhh, yes!! I would never take them off!!
~The Inspirational Study Bible by Max Lucado, but it's out of print--woe is me...
~A new, thick, plush, soft fuzzy bathrobe to go with my thick, plush soft fuzzy Snoozies (color coordinated or not...I'm not that picky)
~Christmas earrings...though I don't wear earrings much...but I like cute snowmen and snowflake's a snow thing....
~A new blender-mine is cracked and leaks...a little...messy...No one likes a mess, especially moms who have to clean it up...
~An Ugly Doll--wanted one for YEARS but hubby won't buy me one 'cuz he thinks it's juvenile--his point??
~Oh! A milk frother thing for homemade cafe au lait's---joy!! Okay, a cappuccino maker would be pretty awesome, too...with oversized Christmas mugs to drink them from! Love Christmas mugs....

So there you have it, my Christmas Wish List 2011. I will gladly message you my address if you want to mail me any of these goodies! Haha! I hope you all get whatever it is you're wishing for this Christmas and more!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Movies Make You Cry?

My husband would laugh at this question because the answer pretty much has to be: All of them. I’m a sap. A great big giant sappy cry baby. I’ve been known to cry over commercials! Yes, I’m a sobster, so if we’re ever planning on going to the movies together, heed this warning: I am going to cry. Not loudly. I try to contain some semblance of dignity. I sniffle to myself, silently wiping tears from my cheeks as inconspicuously as possible. But yes, I most certainly will cry.

Titanic. This is a funny story. I went to see this with a friend from work and her dad. Vicki sat between me and her father and we whispered and munched popcorn, adoring, drooling (slightly…slightly) over the beautiful Leonard DiCaprio. Yummy. Anyway, we were all good, taking in the glory of the ship, the luxury of the staterooms and the dining halls, the beautiful Victorian wardrobes, all the splendid details, until that ship hit the ill-fated iceberg and started going down. People jumping overboard, the old couple holding hands in bed in their cabin as the waters began to rise. Women clasping children, babes to bosom, trying to get to the upper decks and the not-enough lifeboats, but the gates are closed, locked, and the mean, heartless stewards threaten to shoot them on the spot if they don’t go back below. Oh! The tears! I was sobbing relentlessly and Dad! He was right there with me in the throes, crying uncontrollably. Vicki, not a tear. Not one drop. You might think she could’ve auditioned for one of the stewards in the film. She actually began to get miffed at her father and me for being so overemotional. Passengers at this point are sliding helplessly as the Titanic now sits vertical in the water, legs and limbs snapping like so much tinder as they crash carelessly against furniture and railings, dropping broken into icy currents below. That movie haunted me for weeks after-I swear my legs almost felt the jellylike wobble of sea bearing….Yeah, I think that’s the most I’ve cried at any movie…until…

The Deathly Hallows, Part Two. The scene when Harry views Snape’s tear drawn memories in the pensieve and learns at last the truth of how deeply Severus loved Harry’s mother Lily, was crushed to his very core, finding her murdered at Voldemort’s hand, her babe, Harry, left behind, orphaned, alone. How Snape vowed to Dumbledore to protect Lily’s only son until it was time for Harry to face Voldemort and defeat the evil wizard at last….Oh, how I cried, heartbroken for Severus to have lost his only love…silent tears falling as he unleashes his doe Patronus in a final confession of his love of Lily to Dumbledore. I’m such a sucker for love.

Deathly Hallows, Part One: The death of Dobby. I can’t even read that part in the book…

But, I’ve cried buckets at Disney movies. Bambi was one of my first big crushers, when his mother dies. The Yearling about killed me—I’ve had to block that one out. Wall-E, when he loses Eva. Cars, when Mater doesn’t get to say goodbye to Lightening. Finding Nemo, when Nemo and his dad, Marlin, are finally reunited. I’m almost thankful that Michael’s outgrown Disney movies—they tear me up! Another big tear jerker was the second Narnia movie, Prince Caspian, when Lucy first sees Aslan again—my heart about burst! Michael got mad at me for crying then, his first experience of maternal embarrassment…only the beginning my love, only the beginning. Now he’ll lecture me as we go into movies to please NOT embarrass him. Sorry…I can’t help myself. I cry. A simple fact of my life. I’ll be bringing a box of tissues with me to War Horse later this month…

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One Small Victory

So I stuck to my guns yesterday and didn't let Michael bowl for his misbehaving in school all week. He was a mad little hornet, repeatedly proclaiming that Ms. Lutz (his teacher) needs to be more patient, it's so not fair, on and on all morning long. When it was time to go pick up the hoagies we had sold for the scholarship fundraiser, he actually thought I would let him bowl (wonder where he would get that impression...hmmm) But, alas, it was way too late, already after ten and bowling begins at nine. I had won. This time. At least he got to see his friends for a little bit while we waited for the hoagies to get sorted out, and seeing them bowling without him I hope might sink in a little lesson to remember to behave so he can bowl next weekend...

We also had a Christmas party to go to last night and Michael knew since he'd lost bowling already, he'd have to behave in class on Friday if he wanted to go see his friends at the party. Lo and behold, he didn't lose a single minute! Amazing! Still, I kept on him that he had to be good at home as well if he expected to be allowed to go, and fearfully he would ask me over and over, "Did I lose it? Did I lose the party yet? Can I still go?" He fussed and fretted all day, but behaved well enough that we did all make it to the party. He was thrilled. His two best buddies, JJ and Shane, from bowling were there, along with a bunch of their cousins. When the boys weren't busy building Legos, it was a mad round about chasing game of It. They wore me out just watching them!

I wonder how he'll do in school this week. I know he's getting excited about Christmas so quickly approaching (though how it seemed to take FOREVER to get here when we were that age, remember? Now there's barely time to clean and decorate and shop and wrap and bake....December flies by in the blink of an eye for grown ups!) And he's counting down the days (six!) until Sissie arrives. It's hard to sit still when there's so much anticipation!! Little full of wild, endless raw energy. A frenetic tornado wrapped tight in long, lanky limbs, only wanting to be unleashed, ravishing on the world around them. It's hard to sit still. I know. Please just try your best. All a mama can ask...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Change is Gonna Come

It is. It always does. Just when you get comfy in a situation-with work, a group of friends, wherever you find yourself settling into some comfort zone, know one thing: Change is gonna come. Are you prepared? How will you respond?

I try to think I’ve gotten good at adapting to change these past eleven years I’ve been married. My husband is not one to sit still. I swear he has gypsy blood running through his mostly Italian veins. We’ve moved from job to job, state to state. Our first move to Ohio, I was a brand new mom with a colicky baby left alone in a land of total strangers and a husband who was gone traveling at least four days out of every seven day week. The next move we struggled under the strain of two mortgages for over a year, and then fought to find our way out of the credit card debt we accrued trying to keep food on the table that year. We spent almost six months apart on our last move so we wouldn’t end up in the same financial mess again.

Those experiences were hard. But definitely one thing has grown out of them: my faith and trust in God. That first move to Ohio-our realtor’s wife had organized a moms’ group that quickly became my family and my sanity for the two and a half years we were there. Clearly God knew I’d need a solid group of friends; He already had them ready and waiting for me.

Much harder was the year of two mortgages. I cried and prayed as I waited for God to come through for us, for news that we finally had a buyer, that light at the end of a very long, stressful tunnel of a year. I wondered what lesson I was supposed to be learning, but now I know it was to be patient and trust. That year was the most faith growing I’ve seen. We had found a wonderful church with a weekly family Bible study group. I completely delved into growing my relationship with God. Then finally, when I thought we’d just absolutely break under the financial pressure, we got news of a buyer. We still had quite a mess left on our plates even after that house sold, but one thing that came shining out of that darkness was faith. I learned God’s timing is certainly not our timing, but I also learned He’s always got our back. Had our house sold in a month or two, would I have grown the faith I now have?

When the next move rolled around and Bill headed home to Pennsylvania while Michael and I stayed behind to sell our house in Tennessee, I was much better prepared. I put every ounce of my trust in God that He would see us through, no matter how long we would have to wait. It wasn’t easy being separated for so long and certainly there were some issues that came up during the sale that would’ve gone much smoother had Bill been there with us. But, the timing couldn’t have worked out more perfect. Michael finished that year of school right before we closed. We met the five years requirement almost to the day to receive the seller’s tax abatement, which was a nice little reimbursement. And we moved home the same weekend Ashlee would be in town for her girlfriend’s wedding! God’s timing is always perfect.

So, here I sit. I find myself blessed with another wonderful group of friends. Close to family, which we hadn’t had at all for the past eight years. And I know change is gonna come. It always does. When is no longer an issue. It’s how will I respond? I wrote the other day God doesn’t want us to be stagnant.

Grain has to be ground to become bread.
~Isaiah 28:28

If we are the seeds planted for the harvest, the grain to become bread, grain must be ground up before it can become bread. We struggle and strain as God shapes and grows us-the grinding of the grain, the becoming of the bread.

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
In quietness and trust is your strength.
~Isaiah 30:15

So I trust. I know no matter what may come, God has me covered. He provides everything we need, exactly when we need it. I trust in Him to grow me, that I may become bread.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.
~Thessalonians 5:16-21

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Making of a Monster

This topic has been floating in my head for a good week or so and I've avoided writing about it because to do so would be to admit I've been wrong, and, well, who likes to admit to their guilt? So, I've pushed it aside to blather on about other subjects this past week but I keep hearing this voice, nagging, every day, to write it out, get it down, so here it is so that stupid voice can finally shut up. Is a little peace too much to ask???

Anyway, so, the truth of the matter is that I have created a Michael Monster. There--are we happy now? I said it. He is my one and only and it's been very easy these past ten years to over-mother him. I do a lot for him that he can and, by now certainly, should do for himself. I remember years back, when we were still in Ohio, so Michael would only have been three at the most, a friend talking about her three year old twins making peanut butter sandwiches for themselves for lunch. Three! Making sandwiches! Michael is now ten and has never made himself a sandwich. Finds himself completely incapable of spreading peanut butter on bread without tearing the bread to shreds. So...I make his sandwiches for him. Why not? I mean, I'm his mom, what else do I have to do that I can't make my child a sandwich?

Then, last weekend, I hear whining from his room, "Moooooommm!! Can you pick out my clothes??" Really? Okay--I have laid out this child's clothes every day of his ten year old life. Mainly out of my own OCD obessions rather than trying to make his life easier. Justifying this in my head, I rotate his clothes: jeans, shirts, jammies, etc. so that everything gets even wear and not just his favorites. Not that I think he actually has favorites, but if he did, I tell myself that is all he would wear so I'm right in my own mind for doing this. I did tell him that morning he could actually dress himself, but he retorted he didn't know what he should wear. Play clothes. He didn't know where his play clothes were. Yeah, I gave in and went and put out clothes for him. He did say thank you.

So he's been having trouble at school keeping quiet and being attentive like he should and as a consequence he loses so many minutes of recess time, depending on how disruptive he's been in class. I only found out about this at the parent/teacher conference a few weeks ago, so I worked out a plan with his teacher that she was to write in his homework planner how many minutes he'd lost each day so that he would also have a consequence at home and hopefully realizing he had to be accountable for his poor behavior would stop misbehaving and shape up. Well, the first week into this plan, he lost a few minutes the first couple of days and when he also lost a quarter off his daily allowance, he actually stopped talking and drawing in class. For about a week. Then he started up again. He didn't seem to care so much about the quarters anymore, so I threatened to make him stay home from bowling on Saturday. Well, he continued to carry on that week, and unfortunately, we had to turn in fundraiser money at bowling that weekend, so I caved and let him bowl. He was happy as a little clam, proclaiming what a wonderful mother I was who always let him have fun. I could feel a sharp jab in my heart, knowing exactly where this was headed....

Every day this week at school, he's lost minutes not only for talking, but also for using inappropriate language, which he didn't want me to see written in his homework planner so he actually FORGED my initials for his teacher and conveniently 'forgot' to bring his planner home until yesterday. He at least confessed he'd lost minutes, though he always had someone else to blame for why he'd gotten into trouble: Sebastian made him 'fake talk' on Monday (they just mouthed talking, didn't actually say anything so he didn't see how this was disruptive...) Tuesday Lakota was poking him in line and he told her to stop, then lost minutes for talking to tell her to stop....Oh, he even lied about losing minutes on Wednesday. So, we have inappropriate language, forgery, and lying. And he's very definitely lost bowling this weekend.

You would've thought the world was coming to an end the way he carried on at the pronouncement of this punishment, even though every morning before he got on the bus I told him not to lose minutes or he'd lose bowling. Yeah right, Mom, I let him go bowling last weekend....So, I had to lay down the law with him and tell him that even though I was wrong to let him bowl last week, he had to face his punishment this week. Period. No caving. We do have to run in and pick up the hoagies that he sold for their scholarship fundraiser, but he most definitely will not bowl.

Maybe he'll get it next week and do better in class. Maybe I'll get it next week and stick to my word. Maybe one day I'll make him make his own sandwiches and pick out his own clothes. We're making progress. Slowly. Lesson by lesson. I know I don't need to be such an over-mothering mom. It's just he's my baby and it's how I love him. But is it love if it's not helping...?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Gift of Giving

I was talking on the phone with my mom the other day now that she's safely lodged in her winter abode down in warm, sunny Florida. She told me she had spoken with my aunt and they had talked about Christmas. My aunt said to her that she wished no one would buy her anything for Christmas because she already has too much stuff. And Mom says to me she agrees--this after I had already bought, wrapped, and packed her gifts to take with her on the drive down so I wouldn't have to worry about shipping everything later on. Really? Wouldn't that make the holidays just a wee bit easier?

Then this morning I read the daily blog post on A Holy Experience about how they stopped giving each other Christmas gifts ten years ago and instead give donations through World Vision, Compassion, Samaritan's Purse, and a few other organizations. Their kids happily browse through these group's gift catalogs and choose what they want to give to someone else, rather than receive a Christmas gift for themselves. What a beautiful, brilliant idea! Isn't that really what Christmas giving should be about?

If I hadn't just about finished our shopping already, I'd definitely be making a few more donations. I did buy a family some ducks. But next year I know I'll collect the catalogs as they come in the mail and let each of us choose a gift to give in place of a gift for ourselves under the tree. We have so much already, it would feel so much better to give to someone who truly is in need. Maybe if there's still some money in your holiday shopping budget, you might peruse a catalog or two and see if you can give the gift of love this year...Or maybe begin planning shopping for next year.

holy experience

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tucker Love

Tucker is home from the vet's and recuperating from his surgery. The poor love has to wear one of those big cone collars to keep him from pulling out his stitches. He keeps getting stuck on the corners and furniture and doorways, not quite sure how to maneuver with this giant halo around his head. He usually just bounds wild and careless wherever he wants to go, he's not used to actually having to navigate...I'm sure the pain medicine he's on doesn't help either. He was up off and on through the night, crying and tearing my guilt ridden heart right out of my chest. Midnight found me fumbling in the kitchen for his pain meds and peanut butter. I kept dropping pills on the floor (now thankful for navy tiles that show up little white pills quite clearly even in the dark of night...) Finally dosed him once more for the night and curled up close around him, whispering love and comfort nose to nose until the medicine kicked in and he slipped off silently into slumber. Three o'clock had him awake again but I was afraid to give him more pills just yet, so kisses and scratches had to make do.

Today he starts his Interceptor for the worms. Ruby and Pea have their blood work done next week so I can get them started on the meds as well. Always something with these three. A couple friends asked me why have a dog since they're so much trouble and expense? Really? Do they never plan to have kids, who are a whole world more trouble and expense? The love you get back from dogs far outweighs the cost or inconvenience. I can't imagine my life without dogs--yes, plural, the more the merrier! No matter how rotten a day you might be having, the simplest remedy is one warm, fuzzy pup plopped in your lap, belly up inviting tummy rubs and chin kisses, tail all a-wiggle with happiness. Pure and simple joy oozing from every puppy pore.

So my heart might hurt while my baby is recuperating and my wallet that much lighter from the cost of surgery and blood tests and worm meds, but to live without those kisses and waggling tails and rumps, eyes all sparkling in hopes of treats and toys and scritches? No way. Not me--I need my babies!! They're worth every penny and sleepless night any day of the week! THIS is the spot!!

Did Tucker eat the table or was it Michael?? Hmmm...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Route 66

My husband likes to move. A lot. I joked that when Michael was three, he had lived in three different states: born in PA, moved to OH when he was just over a year old, then to TN when he was three. Who knew we'd be moving home again in another few years. Yeah, we move. A lot.

The couple years we spent in Ohio, we lived right by Route 66. I didn't realize it wasn't actually part of the 'famous' Route 66, you know the one the song is written about and that's featured in the movie Cars? Ours was just a local Route 66 that ran through Ohio, never attaching to the one running from Chicago to Santa Monica...Maybe someday we'll hit the real Route 66 for a road trip--now that would be cool. We'd have to get the Cars soundtrack, groovy cruising tunes...

Anyway...I've been wondering lately what life would've been like if we had never left Ohio. Michael and I had a great circle of friends from the Moms' Group we joined there. Even though we've made more friends in Tennessee and back here at home again, there was something special about those women and their kids. Bill travelled so much in those days, gone four out of seven days every week, and the Moms' Group had become Michael's and my family. It was also the best school district we've lived in to date. I wonder where Michael would be academically now. I had a great painting clientele that I've never been able to pick up again since we left. So, sometimes I wonder...

But, God doesn't want us sitting still, stagnating. He has great plans for us, plans to change us, to prosper us. We're not to cling to yesterday. He wants us to trust and to follow. That's not always easy. Change is daunting, who doesn't like the comfort of the familiar? I've only learned to pray for God's will in His time. He always knows what's best and who am I to limit Him? Can you imagine all that you'd miss out on? Wherever You lead me, Abba, I am willing to go.

santa monica route 66

Monday, December 5, 2011

To Twitter or Tweet

I'm giving Twitter another try. I never fully understood or grasped exactly how it all worked but I'm willing to give it a new go. My main reason for this is because so many of the blog sites I follow offer giveaways and one way to sign up for these giveaways is to Tweet about it. So, since I'm over there tweeting trying to win something anyway, maybe I can learn something new as well. (In the back of my mind I hear some muttered grumbling--Oh, sure, just what you need: more technological if I don't waste enough time on Facebook and Google, Amazon, and myriad blog stalking....) I'm just intrigued on how hashmarks work and retweets...A girl can try anyway--right?

I'm not a big celebrity following kind of person--I figure they don't care one whit about little ole me, so why would I want to bother with the ridiculous details of their gossip and drama ridden lives. But, I admit, I love Howie Mandel, and after watching him Tweeting on America's Got Talent, I started following him--the man is a nut. Of course, I never really kept up on Twitter but as I was signing back in this morning, there's Howie, Tweeting away! Along with the Dalai Lama, Luci Swindoll, and SparkPeople--I have quite the gamot of tastes! Haha! (Gamot, eclectic, neurotic,'s all the same, isn't it??)

Oh, I've also started a sister blog for Life in the Trenches on WordPress since a few friends blog over there. It's only going to be copies of my blog posts here on Blogger, but if you'd rather follow on WP, here is the URL: Hmm...more stuff for me to keep track of--and I was supposed to be paring down in hopes of accomplishing more....but I'm thinking what's wrong with a little coverage and exposure, right? Right?? It's all good.

So here's my tag if you wish to follow me on Twitter: @dawnmaurice (I know, so original, right?) And if you're on there, let me know so I can follow you!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I've Lost My Cookies!

Every site I've tried to access this morning that's supposed to keep me logged in seems to have dropped my cookies and I've had to (remember how to!!) log back in again. You know, if I had to login every day, I could probably remember my password and screen names a little better. Sad fact of aging (though, mind you, I've only just begun...barely!!) I can't remember things so well anymore! Well, there's just too many things I have to keep track of in a day to make brain space available for passwords and screen names! Schedules and menus and upcoming appointments and where shoes are and keys and hidden dog chewies, what book I'm reading, where I left off on the Zumba DVD, and when Harry Potter is coming on (Half Blood Prince today!!!!!) You think the computer could cut a girl a little slack...not so, not so...

Anyway, we've been enjoying our Jesse Tree devotionals every night at dinner this week and I took a couple pics to show our tree's progress. Dry erase markers aren't the easiest or most cooperative medium for young artistic hands but Michael's doing a great job:
Below is my calendar version for the Jesse Tree and a new postcard I designed this week for our Snail Mail Challenge. Michael wrote a letter to his sister for his weekly contribution and this postcard will get mailed out next week with my Christmas cards.

We have a busy week ahead of us: Tucker has his neutering surgery on Tuesday, poor love!! My heart is already aching for him--I hate for him to be in any pain...Please keep him in your prayers for a speedy recovery! Wednesday (snow in the forecast!) we're supposed to finally get our new kitchen countertop installed--it's only sat in our basement for the past year! I can't wait to see it in place. All good things come to those who wait, right? Then this weekend at the Old Stone House in Slippery Rock, they're having their Christmas Open House Friday evening and then Saturday and Sunday they are hosting the tenth annual Civil War Christmas. I can't decide which I'd rather do, or if we'll drive up for both...Hmmm....And! We have a Christmas party to go to Saturday night, so that should be a lot of fun!

I am just about finished with Christmas shopping, maybe one or two more things and I'll be done. I still have the greater portion of wrapping yet to do, hopefully I can get that tackled later this week. Maybe I'll even drag some of the decorations out and start decking the basement and getting ready for our company--hopefully that will get me more in the spirit, I need a little boost this year!
Rotten One and Rotten Three on cat patrol...I'll never have good furniture...*sigh*

Saturday, December 3, 2011

(One Reason) I Believe in God

When I was a little girl, our neighbors next door had two daughters: Diane was my age and she had a younger sister, Denise. Denise had been born with spina bifida. She spent most of her young life either on crutches or in a wheelchair. I remember she’d sit and watch all the other kids playing, unable to participate, silent on the sidelines. She also spent a lot of time seeing doctors and going through different forms of treatment, which had to be incredibly torturous for a child.

I don’t remember how old we were, but one summer week my family was going camping. We did a lot of camping since it was an affordable vacation option and we loved spending time out in the woods surrounded by nature. I was hooked on squirrels and raccoons, chasing toads, digging for salamanders under rocks and fallen logs, and scooping tadpoles and crawfish from ponds and creeks. My brothers and dad loved to fish. Mom would relax and read while the rest of us ran rampant through woods or swam and splashed in warm, sun sparkled lakes.

But this particular trip, while we were away, Denise was going to the hospital for surgery. I’m not sure if I was aware of that before or after the trip. I do know I was too young to really comprehend what ‘surgery’ meant and I had absolutely no reason to think Denise wouldn’t be home again when we got back from our camping trip or at least soon after.

One night during that week, I dreamed Diane, Denise, and I were playing; running around in this immense playroom, bright beaming colors filled this boundless sunny room. And it hit me: Denise was running! She wasn’t using crutches or watching Diane and I from her wheelchair-she was running around after us, perfectly fine, happy and healthy!

We carried on, chasing each other, laughing and giggling little girl giggles as this whiteness, this blinding bright light filled the air around us. I don’t recall a face or a figure so much as the light, and how it filled everything, but I knew it was God. We stopped and stood in awe: white bright wonder and peace. He said He had come to take Denise, it was time for her to go home. He lifted her up and she was just gone then, and the playroom seemed to melt away as the dream slowly dissipated…

I couldn’t wait to tell Mom when we woke up the next morning! I saw God! He took Denise and she was healthy! She was walking and running! She was happy! My heart danced in excitement of all I had seen.

Mom shot me right down, “You can’t dream about seeing God. That means you’ll die.”

Hmmph. I know what I saw, and I wasn’t dead. I played that dream over and over in my head the rest of our camping trip. Pretty cool to see God.

When we arrived home that Sunday, we were met with the news that Denise had passed away during her surgery. Our hearts were filled with the sorrow and loss of this precious sweet girl who’d lived next door for such a short, brief time. But, I also knew in my heart where she had gone. And I knew she was no longer bound to crutches or a wheelchair. She no longer knew pain or limitations, but was walking, running, dancing, spinning circles, laughing light and happiness. She was home. She was home.

So, no matter what happens in my life, how crazy bad things here in this world might seem, I will never doubt that there is God. That there is something so much better, so much brighter, yet to come. I’ve seen. Denise is there. My dad is there, my brother, too. I believe.