Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Gonna Be a Pretty Week

This morning is my sleep deprived EEG. Not only did I have to wake up at two (and stay awake...sooo tempting to pull up a pillow as I walk by one dog curled up on the couch and another stretched lengthwise across my bed--brats), I'm not allowed any coffee, either. At least I'm allowed to eat and I could have decaffeinated tea, but all I have is chamomile and I'm afraid that would only make me want to go back to bed all the more. Water it is...

Even better, I'm not to use any hair products like conditioner, mousse, gel or hair spray today. They want your scalp clean and oil free. Guess the electrodes stick better that way? So, sleep and caffeine deprived, and untamed crazy hair. Better keep a low profile if I go anywhere near the psych ward....could be looking like an escapee!

Tomorrow I'm not allowed to wear makeup to my MRI...?? Apparently there could be small traces of metal in the cosmetics that would disagree with the giant magnet swirling around my head. You can bet I'll be guzzling my coffee, though!

Friday, then, is my TEE, which I'm not allowed to eat or drink anything for six hours before the test, caffeinated or not, since they have to put me under for this three hour joy ride. Who signed me up for Torture Week? I'm not liking this at all...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Another New Beginning

I stared into the darkness as my heart pulled away, tears welling, falling silent, feeling afraid of what the days ahead hold in store, heavy. I know I am blessed. He works so hard, always striving to better himself to give us the best life he can. And I know this is just as hard for him to leave, to face forward not knowing what he is leaving us to bear in his absence. I say a prayer of thanks for where the Lord has placed me, so close to friends who will see us through. He strengthens me, reassures me--He will never leave me. He holds us all close in His arms, whispering peace into worried ears. I breathe deep, dry cheeks, close the door as his tail lights disappear.

Gifts of joy this week:
74-Friends arranging to help with coming appointments
75-Sweet, strong husband hugs holding tight
76-Fears opening eyes to so much love
77-God's perfect timing
78-Belting out Adele at the bus stop with Bug
79-Blinkie & Skye popping in to visit Brodie's cage
80-A caring doctor
81-Internet friends offering smiles
82-Peaceful, silent sleep
83-Advice for a sick bird
84-Bills paid, generous provisions
85-Free wifi at the medical center
86-Lunch with family at our favorite restaurant
87-My Dad--I love you and miss you
88-A walk on the treadmill after a week of fatigue
89-New beginnings

Always thankful.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Life in the South

Before we moved back 'home' here in 2009, (I use the term home loosely since as much as we move, home seems to be wherever we end up...but 'home' in this instance is PA, where we're originally from) we lived in Tennessee for five years. Oliver Springs was a small rural town, probably not much bigger than where we lived in New Bremen, Ohio, but living down south is a whole different experience than it is living above the Mason Dixon line.

Aside from the devastating fact that you don't see much of snow in OS (my least favorite aspect of southern living), the next biggest difference is openness regarding faith and spirituality. You're in the heart of the Bible belt there and folks aren't shy talking about church down in Dixie.

Growing up, our family always went to church and Sunday school every week. We said prayers at dinner and bedtime, but apart from that, folks up north don't seem to be very vocal about their faith life. The adage about not talking about politics or religion is taken very seriously (though that seems to have changed regarding politics in past years with Bush, Clinton, and Obama bashing...always good to get one's blood boiling!) Still, Yankees are relatively hush-hush when it comes to church talk.

I am thankful for our five years in Tennessee for what it did to my faith life. We found ourselves immersed in a wonderful church home at Faith Lutheran Church in Oak Ridge--a very warm and welcoming congregation unlike anything I'd ever known up north. The greeters hugged everybody--all the more so if you were visiting! Hugged! I'm extremely introverted and shy (my husband agrees when I call myself socially retarded...) I'm not a very touchy feely person, especially when it comes to strangers, and that first experience rather shocked my nervous system....but in a good way. The members there talked to you as if you were family and so happy you had come home to visit, and truly encouraged you to stay. Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

We stayed. Michael's Sunday school teacher taught kindergarten and was super great with the kids. She was also very cute and Michael immediately developed quite a crush on Ms. Jessica! The adult Sunday school classes (yes, plural--there were at least two or three to choose from) were brilliant. They also had several small groups going on every month and we settled into the family Bible study group that met once a month over dinner at church, then the kids would all head off to play or watch a movie, while us 'grown ups' would have study time. We developed some great friendships during those years as well as found ourselves grown closer to God.

After moving back home, I miss that openness of talking about church and faith. It took us a while to find a new church home, but eventually found our way to Trinity Lutheran. We immediately liked our pastor, and our Aaron's minister, and the traditional services. Michael went to Sunday school and Bill and I joined the weekly adult class, which is a great bunch of people. I think we gab more than we actually study sometimes, but what is faith without fellowship, right? I joined the women's Bible study group and I laugh because they treat me like a youngster...I look young for my age, but I'm not that much younger than some of the ladies! They're a sweet group and we always have good yummies to snack on--food is always a plus! Now I'm engaged in another Bible study group run by our Aarnon's minister which meets twice a month (more gabbing and fun!) but it's wonderful to be back among people who are open and willing to share their faith rather than zip lips and change topics quick.

God encourages us to keep company with others in faith. And I am thankful for my church families, here and in Tennessee (miss you guys!!) May we all be more bold, regardless of where we live, north or south, to share God's love and grace with each other and not be quiet or shy. Those dark days will come and we'll all need to know we are loved.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Fuzzy this morning. Up early, just past three. But I have this sleep deprived EEG coming up on Tuesday, so I thought it would be good practice to stay awake rather than lay back down and try to sleep more.

Listening to the rain, wishing it was snow, though it's peaceful, the patter on the skylights. Soothing. Curled around upside down, twisted Tucker, stretching strong, skinny legs, begging belly rubs, kissing whiskery chin. Ruby snuffling in her sleep half under the bed.

Hubby comes home today--our last weekend together before he goes north for good until the house sells. Always this house selling...the waiting...my heart some six hundred miles away. We've done this before, just not with this added twist of complications in the mix. Trying to reclaim the wind in my sails again...

God comforts me. Surrounds me with friends who encourage me, strengthen me. Holding me up when everything underneath me is falling, slipping, raining away....He has me. They catch me, carry me, help me bear this burden...I am humbled and grateful.

In the unknown of tomorrow, I am reminded of His plans, His provisions. My desktop calendar quotes Jeremiah 29:11. This morning's blog post at (In)Courage declares the same. The past few years God has drawn me ever closer knowing this time would come...that I would need Him to see me through and He reminds me once more I am His.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Sleep Eludes Me

I don't know if this is from stress or perimenopausal or just another symptom of whatever is going on with me, but I've not been sleeping well at all lately. I head to bed around eight, light a vanilla spice tea light, read a little, play a little Words With Friends, squeeze in between Tucker and Sweet Pea, burrow under the covers, and off to la-la land...for a few hours.

Eleven o'clock rolls around and I'm awake and burning up. I don't want to open my eyes because I'm afraid of the clock. I don't want to see I've only been asleep a few hours and have the entire night yet ahead of me. I give in, force my eyes open. Evil clock angrily glaring a little past eleven back at me. I groan. I push down the covers and swap out pillows for one that feels cooler, try to turn over between the two dogs pinning my legs under blanket and comforter. I shut my eyes, offer up a prayer for some help to fall back to sleep, then toss and turn until finally drifting off again for another few hours.

Same thing happens all over again around two. Burning up once more and even angrier, I don't know if I'd be better to get up for a little while, or to just stay in bed. I look at my phone, maybe somebody left me a text in the middle of the night. Not usually. Everyone else is sleeping. The dogs are snoring. The heat comes on and blows raucously. I've given up my ear plugs since Bill is away, just in case Michael would need me during the night. Maybe that's part of it. Maybe the noise of the dogs snoring and the heat blowing is what's waking me up.

I resign myself to try to get back to sleep. Drink whatever remains in my water bottle from bedtime. Lay half covered, half uncovered, crookedly wrapped around and between the dogs-no wonder my back protests in the morning. Hoping the clock will read some time after four the next time I look upon it...I don't like this getting old business, not one bit.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Be Still

"Be still, and know that I AM God."
~Psalm 46:10

Everything is calling me to 'be still' lately. Bible studies, blogs, devotionals, life-in general-calling me to stop, just stop. Enough so that I am trying to be still. I created my peace retreat, though, I have to confess I've yet to really retreat. It's pretty. And that candle smells oh so good. I pop in for a prayer. I scribble a few lines in the journal. I've not really stopped to linger. There's so much going on...I feel restless if I slow down for just a minute, let alone five--who has five minutes??

Just writing this post, I had to get up and drain the chicken stock I've had simmering on the stove all afternoon, then toss on a pair of jeans before it's time for me to head to the bus stop to pick up Michael. From there I have to run back to the doctor's office to pick up the paperwork for the slew of tests they want me to have done to begin testing for MS, then head over to have a chest X-ray and blood drawn before my appointment with the neurologist tomorrow morning. Then it'll be home and homework and dinner and bathtime, then finally, exhausted, dropping into bed. Then I'll be still. I won't be concious, but I'll be still...

So, so thankful God has a sense of humor....

But God is certainly telling me to make Him a greater priority in my day and in my life. I'm trying. I've started praying at set times throughout the day--even though I've had to set my alarm to remind me! At nine, noon, and six my phone goes off and I kneel down in my little retreat space and offer up a few words of gratitude and praise. Today's been sprinkled with a few tears looking ahead at the coming week, praying for strength to see us through. And I know He will...He always does. He gives me words of encouragement and reminds me of all the times He's carried me in the past, He won't leave me now.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
 He will not let your foot slip—
   He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
~Psalm 121

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I haven't talked to my brother in almost a year and a half. After he made some pretty poor personal decisions that have gravely affected his family, his children...scarring deep. I tried talking to him then, to make him see what he was doing wrong, how he was hurting those around him, but he refused to hear. He's always had all the answers and he's never, never wrong. So we've simply shut each other out of our lives. He'd gone his way, I went mine.

In that time I've raged angry, judging him, condemning. And at other times, calmer times, I've notioned that I've not lived the perfect life. I've made some pretty poor personal decisions in my forty-four years. And I'd been pretty stubborn when others tried to steer me back in the right direction. Had to crash pretty hard before picking up scattered, shattered pieces, put myself back together. Thought I knew it all, too. Oh, how little I knew....

So, I thought maybe I should try to reconcile before we all head to New England. I don't know, at least talk it out. But I don't have his number anymore and he no longer has mine. I can't message him on Facebook because he has me blocked. I sent a message to his girlfriend and got back a less than welcoming response. Bitter pills we have to swallow.

I found an old bookmark the other day that has 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6 on it: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It keeps no record of wrongs...Oh, but I do. Tally 'em up tall and high. And I hold on tight. Justified. I thought I was in the right, not forgiving because the wrong wasn't done against me, it was done against his family, against God. I didn't have to forgive him. He has others to answer to when that time comes calling.

Still, are we not called to love others as God loves us?

"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other". ~John 13:34

God loves me in spite of my mistakes and bad decisions, and I certainly haven't come up all sparkly, shiny, and perfect all of a sudden. I've got my share of ugliness still happening--working on it, but have a long way to go...

Whether he decides to talk to me or not, I tried. I am offering love. As I am loved.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back to Normal

How do your find your way back to normal once normal's beat a hasty retreat out the back door? I really need to know. I made an appointment with the neurologist for next Monday, the soonest they could get me in unless the doctor looks at my chart and thinks I need to be seen sooner. So I'm waiting...hoping for a cancellation so I can get some answers a little quicker...

Meanwhile, the world seems to have slid off kilter. I don't feel like me. Maybe that's the Ativan. It's almost like an outer body sensation...I'm going through the motions but I don't feel attached to the activity. And my short term memory seems to have taken a vacation without me (rather rude, I think...) I tucked a few 'valuables' away before our showing Sunday, then for the life of me, I had zero recollection of where I had stashed everything! Michael wanted his PSP but I couldn't remember where I'd put it, along with my digital camera. I knew I'd tucked my Kindle in the nightstand--for some reason that stayed with me, but we ran frantic all around the house that night trying to find the missing electronics! Finally I discovered them safely stashed with my Kindle--why I didn't look there in the first place is beyond me--I truly thought I had put his PSP in his room...

Yesterday morning it was my MP3 player that evaded me. Spent a good half hour digging upstairs and downstairs, emptying purses, rummaging through drawers--no, that hadn't made it to the safety of the nightstand...Drove me bananas as my pressure went up trying to recall where I'd put it. Now, when I'd run, I kept it in my dresser with my pepper spray, whistle, and phone case--but I haven't run outside in months. I decided to take a look anyway...and there it sat, tucked away with my new matching earbuds I'd gotten for Christmas. I wanted to listen to Adele...something to calm me down.

Bill flew off yesterday morning to Long Island for the week, and this coming weekend will be the last that he'll be home until we get the house sold. However long that might take...He's feeling guilty for leaving and I'm feeling guilty for making him feel guilty--he shouldn't have to worry about us here at home. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to take care of Michael and the house, the birds and the dogs, and life be smooth sailing--for the most part, there's always a road bump or two, but not a head on collision like this. I just want to wake up, shake it off, whip on my running shoes and hit the road for a few good miles, and life be back to normal. Where did that go?? How did I lose that?

Then Michael and I had to have a fight before he got on the bus to school...as if the stress of moving isn't enough for him, now he's got a mom freaking out with seizures to wig him out even more. Yet somehow I expect him to get his act together and try to make this whole situation a little easier on us--no pressure for a ten year old, right??

I just want normal back...please...

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Like Big Dogs

I probably should've posted this before my mention of the Newfie yesterday...I've been trying to write some posts ahead of time during the birds' playtime (two birds, one stone...) Hoping to free up more of my morning since exercising has been taking a backseat to blogging...So this was a post I'd written the other afternoon and might help make some sense of my 'purse puppy' comment in yesterday's post. Bear with me folks, I'm having brain issues this week *wink, wink*....

I love dogs. Big, small, hairy, fluffy, even nekkid dogs--though they feel really weird to pet…yick! I keep saying I want a little dog, a teeny, tiny pop in your purse and go shopping kinda dog, that I can buy all sorts of cute little outfits for and play dress up…Take to the groomer’s and have cute hairdo’s done and nails painted…Buy little bitty furniture for and fuss and coo over my itty baby puppy.

I saw this video posted on Facebook the other day and fell in LOVE!! I want a cute little pool playing Chihuahua!! How adorable is this guy?? The noises he makes and his precious prancing across the table! I could just eat him up!!

But somehow I keep getting bigger and bigger dogs…Dogs that barely fit in the car, forget your purse!! Haha! But big dogs are pretty cool. I like a dog that I can lay my head down on and wrap my arms around him and know I’m not gonna squish the poor thing. I feel safe, especially with Bill being away, having dogs that can protect Michael and I and be more threatening than maybe nipping an ankle. Pool puppy up there? Yeah…not gonna intimidate many burglars. Tucker and Ruby? Folks would definitely think twice before inviting themselves in to our house after seeing those two! Pea--she’s about as much threat as the pool puppy, but she’s really good for cuddling and smells like Fritos when she’s happy--who doesn’t love Fritos??

Maybe someday I will get my little dog. Miniature Bull Terriers are pretty awesome…but not really purse puppies. I seriously want a purse puppy, like a Maltese--are they not the cutest things EVER??? All white silky fur and big brown eyeballs--adorable!!! Someday…when we get settled in New England…then I can shop for my pretty little purse puppy…

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Not How I Wanted the Day to Turn Out

Yesterday was gorgeous. We had a good six to eight inches of snow fall overnight--it was a picture perfect scene straight out of Polar Express, snow piled up high, branches weighed down heavy with white burden-I could almost hear the train whistle soft, high, whisper in my ear, "Well, ya' comin'?" Wouldn't have to ask me twice! North Pole? Oh yeah--I'm there! Could we swing by Hogwarts on the way? And I wonder why my dear husband thinks I'm a little coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs...Praise God he loves me anyway!

After daily skirmish with staunch and stubborn child, we quickly made plans with friends to go play in the beautiful bounty shining bright outside--Winterfest 2012 at Moraine State Park! Hiking through the snowy woods, ice skating and fishing-ice permitting (it didn't...sad), klondike racing (that's not actually for the ice cream bar or inclusive of dogs--it's boy scouts strapped to a child laden sled racing mad through deep snow. Hilarious and the little ones loved the ride! Snowshoe tromps and cross country skiing, a taste tempting chili cook off, and soup, hot dogs, cocoa and cookies to help warm by the fireside. I loved on all the sweet dogs people brought along--the favorite of the day was a massive Irish spotted Newfie named Merlin (I'm really never gonna have that purse puppy...I love big furry happy dogs!!) Snow ball fights and snow angels swished, boys wrestling in drifts, giggling and silly, soaked and chilly, we made our way home.

Last night was our farewell dinner and service at church for our retiring pastor, Tom Pierotti. He's become a good friend over the past year or so, and a great encourager with my writing. I'm so sad to see him go--he will be dearly missed by all of us at Trinity. Dinner was incredible, a potluck thrown by Lutherans--a definite don't wanna miss! The dessert table overfloweth--we all ate too much, talking and gabbing, laughing watching little ones chasing each other through the halls...one giant noisy family. Speeches were made, gifts presented, and finally we all found our way to the sanctuary for service.

The tremors started just before the sermon. My head began shaking and Michael was panicking. Quietly we rose to leave, I simply wanted to go home to bed, to rest, my puppies and my pillows. They managed to get my coat on somehow before the seizure took hold. The most horrifying part was listening to Michael, hysterical, and I couldn't stop, I couldn't hold him, I couldn't stop. I don't know how long it lasted, the shaking continued well into the emergency room long after Valium and Ativan, then finally slowly, subsided. CT, blood work, urine...everything came back good. They sent us home with prescriptions and instructions to follow up with my neurologist this week. I would've been happy to never have to lay eyes on Dr. Elawar again, but just not meant to be...

Bug stayed with church friends last night. They have a Wii and he really needed to play, not fuss over scary shaky Mom. I miss him this morning...need to hold him, kiss him sorry. So thankful for friends who came, who helped, who love through the hard parts...thank you, all of you....

Lake Arthur frozen over

A hike in the snow--so beautiful!

Three Stooges pootered out in need of a cocoa fix

Ahhh, heat!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I can’t stop looking. The beauty, the gift God sent through the night. Snow, pristine and perfect, world wrapped in white, pure. So simple what makes my heart happy, feel like a child once more on Christmas day to see the trees sparkling, diamond light glistening. Humble, peaceful.

I love snow. I melt watching it fall from the sky, lighting on branches, coating the yard, the street, whatever lay immobile beneath. Ruby comes in from outside frosted over with flakes, white on white, I smile.

And people have to steal that joy. Complain about the cold, the drive. Why are people so ugly, so hurtful? Why is it so hard to let another be happy? To enjoy such a beautiful simple gift? I don’t begrudge them their summer, their heat, their sun. This is my season. My joy. Everyone is different, we love what makes us glow inside, unique. Let me enjoy what makes me happy.

I am turning a deaf ear to the negative, the complaints, the ugliness. I am listening for the song, beautiful on high, music in my heart, peace in my soul. I am listening for Him.

Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. ~Phillipians 4:6
 Desktop Wallpapers · Gallery · 3D-Graphics 
 Snow Avalanche

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Swap Friday

It’s Book Swap Friday. I send out a weekly email to our group on Fridays of books available for swapping and thought I might entice a few more readers to join us with an update here on my blog. I unearthed another box of books yesterday that was never unpacked from our last move…Apparently I’ll be reading forever! Which truly is a wonderful thing—I had wondered where some of these books had gone. Now I know. I’m as big of a book-a-holic as I am a pen-a-holic! One can never have too many—am I right??

So here is our current list of available titles—please feel free to join us, we’d love to have you!

Love Wins by Rob Bell
Game of Thrones by GRR Martin
From a Distance-Tamera Alexander
While I Was Gone-Sue Miller
Here on Earth-Alice Hoffman
In the Company of the Courtesan-Sarah Dunant
Birth of Venus-Sarah Dunant
Halo Effect-MJ Rose
Life of Pi-Martel
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Eldest by Christopher Paolini
Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken by Cindy Beall
7 Wonders That Will Change Your Life by Glenn Beck
Simple Genius by David Baldacci
Overcoming Dislexia by Sally Shaywitz
Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan #1) by Kathy Reichs
Death Du Jour (Temperance Brennan #2) by Kathy Reichs
Harvest and Life Support (2 in one book) Tess Gerritsen
The Litigators by John Grisham
V is for Vengance by Sue Grafton
Shadow Zone by Iris Johansen
Fit to be Tied by Karen Kendell
I Alex Cross by James Patterson
The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
The Sum of All Fears-Tom Clancy
Confessions of a Shopaholic-Sophie Kinsella
Six Seconds-Rick Mofina
Tropic of Cancer-Henry Miller
The Alexandria Link-Steve Berry
Bronx Justice-Joseph Teller
The 47th Samuria-Stephen Hunter
Death's Door-Meryl Sawyer
White Wash-Alex Kava
The Mummy Returns-Max Allan Collins
Waiting to Exhale-Terry McMillan
The Manchurian Candidate-Richard Condon
The Devil Wears Prada-Lauren Weisberger
Mystic River-Dennis Lehane
The Mask of Atreus-AJ Hartley
Planet of the Apes-William T Quick (based on motion picture screenplay)


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Battle of the Beyblades

I’m in the dog house. Michael’s mad at me this morning. I took away his Beyblades. Don’t know what Beyblades are? Oh how I envy you…Beyblades are these battling top things that cost an arm and a leg considering what you’re actually getting for your money—a shiny little plastic top at $9 a pop…Yeah…

He begged and pleaded and boo-boo eyed me into buying him a new Beyblade the other day. After two weeks straight of fighting with him, he was actually being good for a change—because he wanted a Beyblade. I’m no fool. Or am I? He stayed on his absolute best behavior to convince me I should get him this new toy, and sucker that I am, I gave in and bought it for him. He wanted a battling stadium, too, but that was another ten dollars and I put my foot down. The kid has stopped doing his chores lately and hasn’t tried to earn any allowance, so I thought if he really wanted this paper thin glorified litter box, he could step it up at home and earn some money to buy it on his own. I’m not Santa Claus, kiddo!! Heh-heh…okay, I am, but he doesn’t need to know that, right?

He pouted for a few seconds at my refusal, then got over it before I made him put the new Beyblade back as well. Once home, he put the top together and battled with his other two Beyblades and was a happy little clam…for a while.

I really ought to know better by now. Michael can be the world’s sweetest angel when he wants something. Then, as soon as he has it, he turns back into Beastie Boy (singular, not to be confused with the band which is Boys, plural…and to think I wanted twins…) So after he played all afternoon with his Beyblades and boredom set in, he set about tormenting Sweet Pea. Slyly. Thinking somehow Mom is an idiot and I wouldn’t notice what he was up to…sitting on the couch opposite me…

Pea, admittedly, was hogging the greater portion of the sofa. And she’s the littlest of our dogs. There is really no need for her to lay claim to two-thirds of the living room’s largest piece of furniture…But she had, and Michael just couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie. He did squish himself to the far end of the couch, with a pillow propped between him and her, a barrier of sorts, because Pea is quite grumpigous these days and will growl and moan her annoyance at anyone disturbing her seat. Doubly so if she’s hoarding a chewie at the time.

Well, boy that Michael is, he’d tug on the afghan a little, just enough to raise a Pea brow and a low grumble. I told him to leave her alone. I may as well have addressed the wall. He kept it up and kept it up until she snapped and I snapped, and he and I were off and yelling. So, I took his Beyblades. I had warned him one condition of keeping his new Beyblade was that he had to continue to be good and not fight with me, or else I’d take it away and if he argued enough, he’d end up paying me back the cost of the top.

He ranted and yelled that it wasn’t fair for me to take all of his Beyblades, I should only take the one. Well, then, he’d still have two to battle, and absolutely no reason to earn his allowance to pay me back the nine dollars I’d shelled out for him. Duh! Now I have them all and if he wants them back, he will indeed have to do his chores and pay me every penny, or he shall have zero Beyblades to battle!

So he woke up this morning and refused to speak to me. However, he promptly got dressed and fixed himself his breakfast and was actually ready for school without so much as a single nagging reminder from me to hurry up or we’d miss the bus! We could be on to something here…

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peace Retreat

I posted the other day about Ann Voskamp's peace retreat and made a little progress yesterday creating my own little retreat space at home in my bedroom. I found a little Psalm and poetry book at Walmart and picked up the most yummy smelling vanilla scented candle. Once home, I repurposed a favorite wire basket to hold the Psalm book along with another book of prayers, a tiny journal and pen, and a few other books that might prove useful and calming during a time-out...for me, anyway--I don't know how helpful it might be for Michael, now that I think about it. I need to find a prayer book or two geared more towards kids for him...But, I did tell him he was more than welcome to look through the book of Psalms and write in the journal if he wanted. I added a bigger composition book for more in-depth scribblings and think I might tuck a small sketchpad in there as well, along with a few pens and pencils tucked in the nightstand drawer. It's a start, anyway...

I also found online a while ago a pdf file for Five Minute Retreats That Revive the Spirit and Refresh the Soul from another blog: Marsha's Musings. I can't find the link to the retreat though, but if anyone is interested, I can email a copy of the pdf. It's a 24 day program of daily five minute 'time-outs' to help you refocus and reenergize. I'll have to print it out and add that to my basket as well. Drop me a line if you'd like a copy of the pdf file.

So Michael heads back to school this morning in the cold and snow. I have a short to-do list for the day and plan to get some drawing or painting done later this afternoon...maybe even take Tucker for a walk and enjoy the new fallen snow.

Things I'm thankful for this morning:
Tiny snowflakes tickling my face as I open the door to let the pups out in the still dark of morning
Kind and thoughtful neighbors and friends
Silly dogs who always make me laugh

Peace retreat basket on my nightstand

I had JUST made the bed!!


Marsha's Musings

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

If You Could Have Any Job in the World, What Would it Be?

Hmm, I'd have a hard time choosing between being a buyer and an editor. Imagine being paid to either shop or read--does it get any better than that? Oo! Or a food critic! Getting paid to EAT!!! But then you might get fat or you'd really have to step up the workouts to keep up with the caloric intake...but it would be so worth it, right? Imagine eating (for FREE!) at all the finest restaurants and getting paid for savoring mouthwatering dishes you might never get to try otherwise...Yeah...I'd dig that job.

Not that being a stay at home mom isn't great. I can cook up all those amazing meals if I wanted, right? I have the convenience of the internet to find any recipe imaginable and YouTube for technique tutorials if needed. Heck, you could probably even order the most illusive ingredients online if it's not available at the grocery store and/or Walmart!

I watched the movie Julie and Julia last week for the first time--what a brilliant idea for a blog! Now I imagine thousands of folks are busy trying to do the exact same thing, find success sponging off someone else's original idea in hopes of striking it rich and famous...Not that that was Julie's intention, to become rich and famous, but kudos to her for doing so and for inspiring others to try something new and aspire for more than the simple status quo.

But back to my current state of affairs--how blessed am I to be home every day, to take care of my baby and watch him grow up? All struggles and arguments aside--that really is a gift in this 'two income family' day and age. I've had the opportunity to hand raise my baby parrotlet, Squiggy, which I couldn't have done if I had to go out in the world and work a day job. I have the leisure to paint, write, study, cook, read...and most days I glaze over those opportunities taken for granted...I may not have oodles of time to devote to any of those activities after attending to the household chores of the day, but even a little time is more than many folks get to enjoy. I am blessed.

I suppose, in a sense, I am a buyer: I buy all the food, clothes, furniture, decorations, etc for our home and family. I may not get paid to do so, but my bookshelves overflow with tomes to read in my own good sweet time. And, I can be as adventurous as I dare in my kitchen. The sky is the limit when it comes to cooking--who needs to pay those exhorbitant restaurant prices! Am I right?

I am living my dream job...thanks to my wonderful husband who busts his butt to allow me to do so. I love you, honey!!

Sleepy Boo

Monday, January 16, 2012


Frazzled this morning...Sleeping in really doesn't do me any favors for the way it sets me off for the day in a frustrated, stressed out mood before the day even begins. But Tucker still wants to wake up around two to go outside, followed rather lazily by Sweet Pea, and by the time she slowly shuffles outside I'm frozen and wide awake, then when I finally find my way back to bed after their late night potty trip, I lay there for hours trying to get back to sleep and subsequently end up sleeping later than I'd like...It's not my best way to start the day.

So I'm already late getting up which means I have less time to do everything I need or want to do before the rest of the house wakes up and Bill had to get up early to get to the airport this morning, cutting even deeper into the diminished remains of "my time"...Then he sat down at my laptop because I made the mistake of vacating my seat to go look for a pair of buried in the basement microfiber cleaning cloths that were recommended on a website I had run across moments earlier, and upon my arrival upstairs once more, website was then gone, and Bill sat in my spot, Realtor.com pulled up to show me yet another house (of already the umpteen millionth he's shown me...or at least a good hundred ...) in Massachusetts that he liked that, realistically, will be long gone by the time we get around to truly looking at houses we can actually possibly buy AFTER we have a contract to sell this house in the process....

I snapped at him--I really don't want to look at houses now. I was in the middle of my morning surfing, gathering ideas for decluttering and cleaning up this house and getting ready to move, along with the usual devotional websites I enjoy...And then I apologized for snapping because I realized it was rude and I wouldn't want him to snap at me like that...I really am not much of a morning person, but add on to that the stress of him being away, me being here alone and fighting with Michael every day through the week because he's feeling as much of this stress as I am and we only have each other to take it out on...

I broke into tears yesterday at bowling just watching Michael. He's so wigged out through all of this that he's doing his facial tics again, worse than ever, and he's already super critical with himself when he doesn't bowl well, and feeling this added weight makes him feel, and bowl, even crappier creating this awful vicious cycle. My heart breaks for him, wishing there was some way to make this time easier for both of us, but I just don't know how to do that.

Then Bill comes back and asks me to do something else for him and then Michael asks for pancakes, the dogs are all looking at me because they need fed, it's already past eight, and here I sit with absolutely nothing accomplished, a list a mile long for the day, but none of that seems to matter to anyone else...I lost it, we both yelled and argued, and now he's on his way to the airport and we're both miserable...I hate this part. And it's only the beginning....

But I found this suggestion for a peace retreat in your home on my favorite website, A Holy Experience...I need to do this. I need to do this here and I will most certainly create a special spot in our new home for this. I've been praying for peace lately because I have been feeling so stressed and worried about how Michael's handling it as well...And God gave me this today. It's just up to me to integrate it into our lives--a project to shift my focus from the weight of this day to the One who is Himself, my Peace (Eph. 2:14).

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Do You Ever Wonder?

Is God trying to tell us something lately? I think of the books I've recently read: Don Piper's 90 Minutes in Heaven, Todd Burpo's Heaven is for Real, Rob Bell's Love Wins, and, though I haven't read them yet-they're on my list: Bill Wiese's 23 Minutes in Hell and Kevin Malarkey's The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven...All of them seem to be urging us to wake up and pay attention--something seems to be happening. I believe God is wanting us to recognize the end isn't all that far off.

Example after example, story after story, of visits to heaven, encounters with Jesus, portraits painted by aetheists' children...I don't know what that speaks to you, but I'm sitting up and taking notice.

Now, I'm not gonna go on about this being 2012 and the end of the world is supposed to be later this year--even though that does sit in the back of my head and make me think, hmmm....just what were the Mayans trying to tell us? But, more importantly to me is what is being said in these books: the kingdom is coming, are you ready? I don't think God revealed the end of the world to the Mayan civilization, or Nostradamus, or any other human being or culture...

Maybe it's not even 'The End' but rather the New Beginning...For certain, it's something. End of times prophecy scares the bejeebers out of me--the destruction of the earth, fire, earthquakes, floods and devastation, entire thirds of the world population being wiped out...Then, reading these books paints quite a different picture...of heaven and of peace, inconceivable beauty beyond imagination....the immeasurable love of God.

I think maybe it's high time we started really paying attention...and being sure we're prepared. The bridegroom comes....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Better Time Management

Along with having a healthier new year for both Bill and I, I would love more than anything to develop better time management skills. I am a queen of lists and that works well for me, all my to-do's lined up every day and watching them get scratched off one by one is very gratifying. But yet, I feel like I could be accomplishing so much more with my day...

I perused a few websites this morning looking for suggestions of how to improve my time management and two ideas seemed promising: multi-tasking and scheduling. Reading while walking on the treadmill would accomplish two goals at the same time, brilliant--and open up time for more things later in the day when I'd typically try to catch up on reading. And scheduling time for specific tasks I'd like to achieve: studying, writing, painting or drawing, crafting (jewelry-making is catching my eye lately...)

I'm well aware of the frame of mind that we make time for what is important to us. I make time for bible study every morning. I make time to workout. I make time to shop, eat, read, catch up on my favorite TV shows. As much as I don't like it, I still make time to clean every day because it's important to my family's health and well-being. I make time to let the birds out to play.

So I have my daily planner open and ready at the kitchen table, where I always start my day. A little time prioritizing these not so new tasks and scheduling them into my week is a simple baby step I can take to making more of the year ahead. But first I need to get in the shower and head to bowling! Last qualifying window for the Pepsi tournament for McBug...good luck to my little guy!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012


I was all excited yesterday at the promise of more snow overnight, two to four inches! Yeah, yeah, most of it would hit the mountains and I knew we'd be on the lighter receiving end of things, but still...I woke up a little past three and the top of my garden window was covered--my heart did its little jig! Snow!! I wiggled out from in between Tucker and Pea, slipped on my squishy socks and robe, gave morning butt and ear scritches and we fuzzy four headed to the back door to see the glory.

Well, it was white. And a lot had stuck to the sides of things-I guess from being wet with the earlier rain and the wind had blown snow mostly sideways. Pretty. But not deep. A coating at best. I have to say, I'm feeling jipped so far snow wise this year! Last year we had a gorgeous white Christmas and the snow stayed well into the new year. Then we got more, and more--I was in heaven! This year...I feel like I may as well still be in Tennessee--hmmph!

I know, I know--be careful what you wish for. Bill does have to drive home from Rochester today, so I'm thankful the roads should be clear for his trip. I'm sure we'll have more than enough soon and I'll be cuddled up on the couch with cocoa in hand, grinning gleefully ear to ear, watching the white wash away the dreary grey. It'll come...it'll come. I tell myself...patience...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Rainy OCD Thursday

Rather than blog this morning, I sat and reorganized my book reading list. This is only proof to the pudding of how OCD I truly am...I have several series that I want to read all at the same time, including the Song of Fire and Ice by George RR Martin, the Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien (what's with the double R's, I wonder??), Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, the Twilight saga, and Steig Larsson's Millenium trilogy. Then, I have a bookshelf of miscellaneous books that I've owned for years that I need to read...but right now only a handful really interest me. So...between Amazon and Goodreads, I ranked each series according to the ones which had received the highest readers' ratings, along with the other few odd ball books I want to toss in the mix, did my darnedest to turn a blind eye to more recommendations from both sites--aaahh!!! And then reordered my reading list for the year ahead. I'm shuffling between all five series and then the other individual books in an effort to not get burned out reading one author's work for too long--and also hoping this strain of madness will create a curiosity to get back to each individual series as I go along...I know, I totally overthink things, but a girl with a plan is a happy girl!! Even if that plan is subject to change due to availability and/or an unexpected appearance of some other great work of writing that must be read immediately!! (You just know it's gonna happen...)

So, book list reorganized, I should be finishing up The Hobbit either today or tomorrow, then will begin George RR Martin's Clash of Kings...I can't wait to get back into the Seven Kingdoms and find out what happens with the Baratheons, the Lannisters, and the Starks!

And as for our book swap group, a new, updated list of books will be going out tomorrow, so check your email!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How My Afternoon Looks

Three Sleepy Puppies

Feeder raider

Zen doodle Lectio Divina

Fresh Mercy

Well, yesterday was a wash. I finally climbed out of bed around eleven and dragged myself to the livingroom for the remainder of the day. I sat and watched Grey's reruns off the dvr and a couple Big Bang episodes, lounged lazily over Facebook and Twitter throughout the day. Didn't get a single other thing accomplished from my chore list, so today's list is doubly long now. Fortunately my migraine has dissipated and only a little queasiness remains. I think I'll pass on the morning workout and satisfy myself with scratching off the day's To-Do's...which includes a little drawing and reading--I think I can handle that.

Michael has been a little Jekyll and Hyde this week. I'm trying to remember this whole moving situation is as stressful for him as it is for me, and I'm hoping to muster more patience. It's not easy when he's screaming at me, mad that his PSP froze and roughly throwing a brand new game disc carelessly into the drawer without its case, wanting to throw it in the garbage but I won't let him because it cost twenty dollars for Christmas! He thinks gifts from Santa are free...maybe it'll be better when he no longer believes in Santa, though nothing else concerning the value of money has ever sunk into his stubborn little head.

Later after his tantrum subsides, he's all hugs and kisses and I love you's. And I calm myself to love and hug him back. Let out a sigh as we hold on to each other. This is just the beginning of another long road, and we've travelled this way before. God's grace will see us through. God, whose mercies are new every morning, reminds me that we, too, can try again every morning, He's given us a new start. So I take a deep breath, say a prayer of thanks for seeing us through migraines and tantrums yesterday, and thanking Him as well for a new day and fresh mercy: our daily bread.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
   his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
~Lamentations 3:22-24
Must Love God

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Under the Weather Today

I woke up this morning with a migraine and a sick stomach and am only now getting myself out of bed. I did have to drag myself to school with Michael so we wouldn't have to sit forever at the bus stop, but parked my head back on the pillow as soon as he was off and I'd managed to get the dogs and birds all fed.

So I don't know if this is the flu or just a bad migraine episode--I had some strange muscle spasms that Michael thought meant I was having a seizure, but I settled back down shortly, calmed him down and busied him with getting dressed and ready for school. Certainly this too shall pass.

Tucker and Pea are fighting for mama-sitting privileges--I may not be able to sit on the loveseat with both of them hovering over me. Days like this make me wish the TV in the bedroom was hooked up to our dvr so all of us could linger happily at Hogwarts until it was time to pick up Bug again from school...At least chores can wait until tomorrow and I brought some soup up to thaw from the freezer downstairs. If the dogs'll let me, I'll be on the couch until further notice....

Monday, January 9, 2012

Leaving Again

Bill heads to Rochester this week to continue training. Bug and I will prepare for another bowling tournament--the annual In-House scholarship tournie is this weekend. He did pretty well at yesterday's doubles tournament. He would've done better if he hadn't let the pressure get to him...Saturday is also the final Pepsi qualifying window. Fingers crossed, fingers crossed!! But I think we'll head to the alley after school on Wednesday again, let him bowl a few games and continue to build some more confidence with his new ball.

As for me, I'm beginning to mentally prepare for the coming move. I think I've gone through some sort of grieving process...Mild denial as Bill interviewed for his new position--is this really gonna happen again??? A bout of depression as the reality sunk in of having to say good-bye to another group of friends. Anger took over for a little while...Having abandonment issues from being adopted, things get pretty stirred up as Bill takes off for his new job and Michael and I are left behind to deal with life on our own as well as managing packing and selling the house here...again...Yeah...little angry...But now as I face the challenge of weeding out and decluttering and collecting boxes for packing, I can focus on what I need to do and getting that job done. Having something to actually do helps shift from anger to motivation, knowing at some point this will all finally be behind us and then what will I fuss about??

While Bill's gone, I like to steal his bathrobe and wear his jackets...something to make me feel still attached to him in a sense, I guess. If anything ever happened to him, heaven forbid, I'd most likely bury myself in his closet and refuse to come out...The dogs all miss him, too. Sweet Pea clings to me every minute of the day for fear I might disappear as well. Tucker listens intently for the garage door opener and watches vigilantly out the front window, even paces a while at bedtime without Daddy here before he'll finally settle down and climb in bed. But once Bill walks in the door for the weekend, they're both fine again and life resumes back to normal for a couple days, anyway. At least Ruby isn't awake enough through the day to even notice someone's missing...poor old thing! Wish I could just sleep through the whole ordeal!!

The Tucker curl--who could ask for a better pillow??

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tucker the Destroyer

Tucker's now nine months old and a big, healthy, brute of a pup. I'm so head over heels in love with this dog--he's totally stolen my heart. He's gorgeous, silly and playful, loving, brilliantly smart, and a cuddler (though he thinks he's part cat and tries cramming his almost eighty pound body on the back of the loveseat to curl around my shoulders as I watch TV--that totally melts me and is absolutely crushing the loveseat cushions!!) I'm madly, wildly in love with my maniac...most likely his saving grace, because the dog is complete trial!!

What has Tucker eaten lately? And I don't mean food or treats, people...Aside from finally shredding the last of the plush toys that remained from Sweet Pea's puppy days, he's chewed up the wire from my heating pad, had to go buy a new one; a purple ink pen he helped himself to from the top of the pc tower in the office--not like it was laying lost and forgotten on the floor, he had to go out of his way to snag this one! He ate a little wooden cat knick knack off one of the livingroom end tables, that I had bought at Pier One years ago and absolutely loved--gone. A pair of underwear stolen from the bathroom floor while the owner was in the shower. A small bucket on the back porch that was supposed to collect the rain leaking from one of  the skylights. Some rusty nails Bill left in the bucket (and got a good scolding for for leaving something so potentially lethal in the path of Tucker! Fortunately he didn't swallow any...) He gnawed a corner off of our oriental rug. An afternoon was spent wrestling with a lawn ornament in the backyard--not some itty bitty little gnome statue, either. This is a honkin' huge metal sundial trellis looking thing--he dragged it from one end of the yard to another! And, hoping to appease him after he ate all the plush toys, I'd bought him a Kong Beast at Petco. I should know better. He can destroy a Kong in minutes flat. But this was a Kong BEAST! Right on the packaging it claimed to be puncture resistant, able to stand up to even the heaviest chewers! I'm such a shopping sucker...Tuck destroyed the beast in less than three minutes. Puncture resistant for a chihuahua maybe!!! And so the dilemma continues--what to do with this dog??

Nylabones are the ONLY thing he can't destroy. I've bought him two now and he LOVES them! He chomps on them for hours and has barely made a dent in either of them. Well, that and he has two different balls he's not been able to chew apart because they're too big for him to really get a good grip on with his incisors. One is a Kong--their extra large squeeze ball that squeeks, so he adores it! The other...I can't remember the brand, but it's one that can be stuffed with treats and it drives him insane, but keeps him occupied for a good long time...Aahh, my baby!!

Tuck loves to hog up as many toys at once as he can--he's got two chewies and is laying on one of his Nylabones....heaven forbid one of the other dogs might get a toy!

Sleepy snuggy Sweet Pea...zzzzz

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Better Mom

Michael and I watched 'America's Super Nanny' the other night. The episode featured a family of six: preacher dad, stay at home mom, and four kids, one of which was a very strong willed child with Downs Syndrome. Mom was utterly exhausted from trying to manage these kids and the house pretty much alone as the father was gone all day at work then came home and shut himself in the bedroom for another chunk of the night-not paying one bit of attention to the kids or mom...but he did come out for dinner. Oh gee--so glad you could join us!!

My heart broke for this mom who was beyond defeated and just completely overwhelmed. The kids all felt ignored and neglected and Dad was absolutely oblivious to his own disconnectedness. Michael immediately picked up on the lack of discipline in the house and pointed out to me that no one was yelling at the kids. Um, yeah, they're not doing anything to guide these kids...But to him, not being yelled at meant this was a better mom! This exhausted, emotionally/psychologically checked out mom was a better mom than me...because she didn't yell. Kids could do whatever with no repercussions...

Okay, I don't like yelling at Michael. But he is SOOOOOO stubborn and never wrong and never to blame--I confess I can lose my patience and my mind and tend to yell a good bit more than is at all helpful or necessary. Bill is in the same boat, perhaps even quicker to lose his temper because he's not as immune to the daily banging your head on the wall trying to get this kid to cooperate...And Michael apparently perceives this yelling not as a way to try to get through to him, but more that we don't love him because we're not patient with him--what???? Not patient??!! After asking him five or six times to get dressed for school as he sits in his jammies on the couch watching Regular Show reruns and playing his PSP and he's not budged one inch....not patient???

The saddest part of the show came when Super Nanny pointed out to the parents that they had zero expectations for their son with Downs. They let him get away with bad behavior and not finishing his homework because they didn't expect anything better from him. Nanny got that turned around, gave Mom and Dad a new perspective and a helpful set of tools to work with their boy to encourage and guide him to do better. It was like a different family by the end of the show...

I know we do have high expectations of Michael. He's brilliantly smart and talented in so many ways. And, okay, yelling isn't the way to get anyone to do anything...We need to work on that. I do need to be a better mom--not an utterly defeated mom who lets him get away with everything...but one who can communicate better and encourage him to be better as well. Okay, where's my Super Nanny to fix our family??