- - - - -
- - -
Current topic:
We'd love to include your perspective! Send submissions on any topic to fourperspectivesblog at gmail.com.

Next topic:


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Offline for a Week

Pin It Our Dearest Readers,

You've probably noticed that we were a bit sporadic with posts last week, and this week as well. It just so happens that each of us is currently in the midst of this, that, and the other with the events of the holiday season. We'll be offline for the rest of this week - and perhaps next week as well, but we will be back in full force before you know it.

Thanks for your understanding…and your continued patronage. You guys are the greatest.

Lori
Teachinfourth
Gerb
Mel

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Real Face Time

Pin It Well, as luck would have it, yesterday I wrote an entire post before I realized that my internet connection was on the blink and none of it but the first paragraph was saved. Have you ever done that? Written something out and then lost it but just didn't have the heart to write it again after all of the time you put into it?

About a half an hour ago our connection was restored and so here I sit, wanting to write but not in so much detail. So that's what I'm going to do.


picture found at f2f.org

I disabled my Facebook account a few weeks ago. There were many reasons behind the decision, but mostly it was in an attempt to simplify my time on the computer. One day I just decided to do it and see if I would miss it. I didn't miss it at all. I have realized many more benefits since then and have not regretted my decision even once.

One of the benefits is that I was allowing myself to become too wrapped up in people's lives. When a friend writes in her status about how her husband lost his job, I want to help. When someone talks about how unhappy they are in their life or their marriage, I worry about them. When people express opinions that I 100% disagree with, I wish I hadn't seen that side of them. When someone invites me to 'like' a page they have created I am worried they will be offended if I don't. None of that matters anymore because I don't know about it. If something were important enough for me to know about, I would find out about it in other ways.

I think the best part, though, is that the people who really are truly my friends I am still in contact with. When it comes to those whose lives I want to remain a part of, nothing changed when I left the Facebook community. I have only had one old friend from high school email my brother and ask him for my contact information so that we could stay in touch. I don't have anyone poking me or sending me 'gifts' or inviting me to join their Facebook game community. I'm just living my real, live life and it's awesome.

The one thing that social networking (among other things - like texting, which I will never understand) takes away from life is actual human interaction. If you really want to know how your friends and family are doing, how about picking up the phone and giving them a call? If they live locally, walk/drive over to their house and say hello! Or, hey - how about writing a letter? (Letters are those things that people send in envelopes in the mail... you know, you write what you want to say on a piece of paper and send it off to the person you wanted to say it to? The benefit of a letter is that it can be read over and over again.)

My main point is that the only thing missing from my life since I left Facebook is the time I spent on my computer reading people's endlessly changing status updates and (quite often) life details that I was better off not knowing about in the first place.

Do you think you could do it? Disconnect from Facebook and go back to the way things were before you had ever heard of it? I bet you could.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thinking of Grandpa

Pin It I have a new favorite Christmas song.

Isn’t it just a little bit funny that we can hear hundreds of versions of one song, and yet we seem to fall in love with only one or two of them?

Music, I firmly believe, has the ability to touch us in a way that nothing else can. It has the capacity to evoke memories, emotions, and intertwine our lives with chords and harmonies that transcend the reaches of time.

It was many years ago that I could remember going to visit my grandfather in the rest home - the place he lived when his health had become so poor that he needed constant care. It seemed that he had no idea half of the time who was with him, or indeed even who they were.



One day, I wheeled him out on the front porch area and went to my vehicle for my guitar. We sat, my grandfather and I, on that beautiful summer day and I began to play some of the songs he knew and loved so well.

As I sang, my grandfather’s quiet and weak voice found mine and together we sang…though he’d made no previous acknowledgement before this as to whom I was. As we finished the final verse, he looked at me briefly and smiled.



I felt tears raining down from my eyes as I looked at this man whom I’d always known and loved so much. We sat and I played my guitar, the music flowing around us, intertwining us both in the moment.

Music does carry a power within it my friends.

Let this song by Dustin Christensen intertwine you as well…

Monday, December 20, 2010

Untitled

Pin It I pondered titles for this post. Manic Monday, which I think I've used before. Holly Jolly Stressed Out Holiday. @#$%&! (A personal favorite.) Other Mothers That Yell, Please Tell Me I'm Not Alone. It's Not Hormones, I Swear. And the Moral of the Story Is...(always carry Nilla Wafers). I couldn't decide, hence the "Untitled."

I yelled at Autumn today.

It was just one of those things. You know...you've waited ten minutes past time picking the child up from yet another athletic activity that stresses you out, manage to make it five minutes down the road, and the child realizes that she left every single personal belonging she owns back at the gym. And if you don't go to get it right this very instant, it will be thrown away.

I might not have been quite so close to the edge of reasonable behavior if the pick-up time hadn't been right in the middle of suppertime. Our meal was currently sitting in the oven, while I sat in the car, heaving intermittently and nibbling desperately at a stray Nilla Wafer I discovered in the console. I was going to puke up my stomach acids if I didn't get some food. Now.

So I lost it a little, was instantly ashamed, and sulked in silence the entire thirty minute drive home, even when Autumn offered a sheepish, "thank you for taking me back." I managed to choke out an "I'm sorry I yelled" about the time we made it to the driveway, but still.

Bad Mother Award Candidate: there she blows.

I'm not going to chalk it up to pregnancy, even though my husband swears I'm never as irritable and difficult to please as I am when I'm gestating. I think it had a lot to do with it being the first day of Christmas Break and my asinine decision to tackle Sam's Club and Wal-Mart in a single fell swoop to get the grocery shopping done.

What a moron I am. Who goes to Walmart and Sam's the week before Christmas? EVERYONE. And their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and redneck cousin twice removed. My baby will probably develop hypothermia from having to walk from the far reaches of the parking lot, and brain damage from the twenty people that shoved my cart into my stomach. What should have been a relatively simple morning shopping expedition took us until 1:00. The entire time was spent wrangling my two offspring into some semblance of appropriate behavior, which involved threatening bodily injury if they didn't stop rearranging the shelves. And/or inspecting every carton of eggs.

It was a day, and I yelled.

But I'm okay now. I've had a caffeine infusion, some food, and I'm considering chocolate. Autumn emptying the dishwasher without being asked and wrestling her brother into submission in the other room didn't hurt, either.

Here's to the next two manic weeks. May we all survive intact.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Silver Lining

Pin It

Convert difficulties into opportunities, for difficulties are divine surgeries to make you better. ~Author Unknown

I had a one of those weird nights last night. I’ve been getting over just a little sick and so was bundled in bed early (about 7:30pm) against the bitter cold outside. I studied on my computer for a while (online textbook) and then started to work on my Four Perspectives post.

The next thing I know, I woke up at about 5:30 am with the T.V. still on, the light still on and the laptop still open on my lap. I don’t really recall dozing off. I do recall putting my head back because I was trying to think of how to phrase a particular idea – and I guess that was enough - I was done for the night, out for the count and with no real recollection about the idea that I was trying to finish either.

It’s probably just as well that I didn’t finish my original idea because today has been kind of a eventful day in Provo, Utah. Sad, but eventful and it’s sparked a lot of divergent thoughts.

Being in Utah Provo is, of course, a Mormon town and a Mormon Pioneer town at that. Provo was originally settled in 1849 only a couple of years after the first Mormon settlers came to the Utah Territory. In fact, Provo was the first Mormon colony in Utah outside of the Salt Lake Valley. We Mormons love to preserve things, jam, peaches, tomatoes, but we especially love to preserve our old buildings. Maybe it’s because we left so much behind in the East. Or maybe it’s because we came to the middle of nowhere and had to work so hard to make Utah a viable place to live and to build our towns and cities and monuments. I say “we” like I had anything to do with it. But I do come from pioneer stock and “we” as a Mormon people do pay a lot of homage to the “early Saints” who sacrificed so much for their faith.

Anyway, one of the major preservation projects in Provo was the Provo Tabernacle. It was originally constructed from 1883 to 1898 and has been remodeled and renovated several times over the years. It really is a majestic and impressive building with towering spires, inviting stained glass windows, beautiful exterior stonework and really remarkable wood carvings in the interior. It isn’t a landmark that is just for show either. It’s a working building so to speak. Church meetings are held there pretty much every weekend. Graduation Ceremonies for BYU are held there several times a year. In fact, at one time all of the city's high school graduations were held at the Tabernacle as well because it was the largest gathering place in the area for decades. There has been a wealth of religious and civic concerts, celebrations and ceremonies over the generations. I know I’ve attended some kind of function at the Tabernacle at least two or three times a year pretty much every year since birth. I always feel proud when I drive by that we have such a beautiful and distinctive building in our town. I really am drawn to the historic nature of the building too. I imagine the generations of people that have gone up the same stairs that I have, sat on the same benches that I have, listened to the same organ that I have. While I'm in the Tabernacle I try to visualize the congregations of the past like the ladies at the turn of the last century in their big Gibson-Girl type hats and the men in their high stiff collars. I’ve seen pictures of pioneer day celebrations from the 1920’s and smiled at the homemade bunting and banners draped across the Tabernacle's carved banisters with such obvious pride. I also think a lot about the meetings and the prayers must have taken place there during war times when Provo was still a relatively small city. It must have been very emotional and very apparent that so many brethren were missing - away at war and so many others working the endless shifts at the (now defunct) local steel plant to support the war effort. Provo itself has waxed and waned and changed over the years, but the Tabernacle has remained - the ever-constant fixture and touchstone in our community.

Until today.

At about 2:30 this morning, Friday, December 17, 2010 a massive fire broke out in Provo’s Historic Tabernacle. The first thing I saw this morning when I woke was that news broadcast and an image of orange flames and smoke billowing out of the windows and roof of the Provo Tabernacle. I went to the window and could actually see the smoke rising against the morning sky. In just the few the reports that I saw before going to work this morning it was easy to see that the news wasn’t going to be good. The roof had collapsed, the firefighters were shooting water through the shattered stain glass windows and rivers of water (at least the water that wasn’t immediately turning into ice in the sub-zero temperatures) was pouring out of the doors and stairwells. There was no doubt that the pipe organ was gone, the hand-hewn benches were gone, the intricate hand-carved panel that extended across the front of the stand was gone. It was total devastation. I’ve been scanning various news sites on and off throughout the day, reading some of the reactions from people like me. People who gathered around the Tabernacle in the early light with a mixture flames, smoke, disbelief and their own Tabernacle memories reflecting in their tear-filled eyes.

I really hope it was an accident because I’d hate to think that anyone would set a fire like that on purpose. I've had a few hours to process the news now and whether accident or arson I keep thinking about the devastation that pushed the early Latter-Day-Saints across the plains. Nauvoo was a town that the Mormons built in 1839 in the state of Illinois on a bend of the Mississippi River. By all accounts it was a beautiful town complete with its’ crowning glory - a beautiful Temple. The Temple was only barely completed before the Mormons were driven out of the state by violent anti-Mormon sentiments in the area. The Saints had to leave their beautiful town and their beautiful Temple-which was then burned to the ground. But they made the trek across the plains and started again, planted again and built again. And the Provo Tabernacle was part of that legacy.

We do have a legacy – and in Provo we have a legacy to build. To be honest, as much as I loved the historic nature of the Tabernacle, those hand-hewn benches were really uncomfortable. I’m not sure whose backside those were made for, but it sure wasn’t mine (what did the ladies ever do in the days of bustles?) And if you ever had to attend Stake or regional conference in the summertime, the speaker didn’t have to try very hard to invoke hell-fire and damnation because Man! It was HOT in there! And the acoustics and sound system were such that if the “baby choir” really got going (you know all the babies in the congregation making all the noises babies make from gleeful to growling) it was kind of hard to hear the speaker. Also, as Provo has grown, if your Stake Conference was scheduled at the Tabernacle, you really had to plan to get there early to have any hope of finding a seat, not to mention a place to park.

Sometimes as awesome as history is (and it is), moving forward is even more important. I would never, ever go so far to say that the today’s Tabernacle fire was a blessing in disguise. I can’t see any blessing in that burned-out shell of a building and I will miss it every day. But now that the deed is done and the devastation has occurred, all that's left is an opportunity. We still have a lot of worshipping and gathering and graduating to do here in our community. There is still music to be made and songs to be sung. I hope that this devastation will evolve into an opportunity to create a monument for our time and for the generations to come. A new landmark for Provo – one that appreciates the past while embracing the opportunities of the future. And while we're at it, central air and more comfortable seats.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Traditions

Pin It One of the greatest things about melding two families together in marriage is that each side brings different customs and traditions to the table. This is especially true for us when it comes to Christmas.

What is even more awesome is being able to weed out the traditions that you didn't much care for growing up - like each person taking their turn opening one gift at a time while everyone sits around watching. That one's from my family and it only lasted one year as a passed-along tradition with our kids. Now we open gifts wild banshee style and it's much more exciting and messy - the way Christmas morning should be.

Christmas traditions in Allen's family included delivering homemade treats to neighbors and friends while Christmas caroling. In my family Christmas cookies have always been a big deal (snickerdoodles made with green and red colored sprinkles and chocolate crinkles were the two you could always count on) but there was never any singing involved. We have carried on a blend of these two traditions throughout our marriage - but this year it's going to change just a bit.

And here's why:

I was amazed by the number of people who were making disparaging comments on Facebook a few weeks ago regarding the delivery of homemade treats at Christmas time. One person even said something to the extent of: If you bring my family a plate of Christmas treats they come in my front door and straight out the back door and into the garbage can. Ouch! Others mentioned that it's the sugar overload all at one time that's hard to handle. So this year we've decided to save ourselves the time and effort of making homemade treats and go with store bought for our neighbors and friends instead - something they can enjoy right away or put in the pantry for a month or two down the road.

I've actually been keeping a list over the years of fun (and almost always cheesily-clever) little sayings to pair with store-bought Christmas goodies. Lest you think I am the Chuck Norris of puns and cheesy sayings, I must confess that these were all either given to us at some point or something I've seen somewhere.

In case you're interested, here are a few ideas:


Wishing you a souper holiday season! (with a bag of soup mix)

Hope this adds a little spice to your holidays. (tied to a jar of salsa & bag of chips)

Just popping by with a holiday 'hi'! (microwave popcorn)

Have a FANTAstic holiday. (attached to a bottle of Fanta soda)

We wish you a Merry SwissMiss! (box or can of Swiss Miss brand hot chocolate)


My personal favorites, which I would probably not have the guts to actually give to anyone because it would reveal too much of my sick sense of humor and possibly reflect negatively on the rest of my family are:

You've been bad, so here's the scoop; all you get is snowman poop. (A cellophane bag filled with yogurt covered peanuts or anything round dipped in white chocolate)

Or, the same poem but with 'reindeer poop'. (Small box of Whoppers candy or any chocolate covered morsels in a cellophane bag would work)

So for this year, these are the gifts we've decided to give as we share a Christmas song or two:


We WHISK you a merry KISSmas and a happy ROOT BEER! (Wire whisk filled with chocolate kisses attached to a bottle of A&W)

or

You're gettin' MUFFIN for Christmas! (muffin mix tied to a muffin pan)

If you're one of my neighbors, please pretend to be surprised when we bring you these clever gifts of the season.

If you have the time, I would love to hear what your favorite neighbor gifts have been over the years. Do you like getting a plate filled with homemade goodness or do your prefer the store bought variety? Maybe you prefer non-food items (my favorite in this category is a kitchen towel and washcloth with a tag that declares: A new washer and dryer!) or nothing at all.

Talk to me.

(I'm hoping someone will have a fabulous idea for me to use next year.)





By the way, if the title of this post make you start singing a song from Fiddler on the Roof at the top of your lungs, you're my kind of person.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Forest

Pin It

I used to drive by a small wood each day on my way home from work. It’s just west of the cemetery and east of the old train yard; a thick growth of leaf-bearing coniferous giants. I’d grown accustomed to seeing this plot of foliage, deep and mysterious with dense growths of bushes and grass. I’d often contemplated hiking into this small wood to explore and see what and seeing what wonders might be secreted away there.

I’d never done it.

You see, every day I now drive home from work past an empty dirt lot. Last week somebody cut down this little pocket of forest and plowed everything under. It must have only taken a day or two, because one day the woods were there, and the next they weren’t.

Like I said, I’d never gone into these woods. I have no fond memories of playing there as a child or anything else in this regard; however, just having those woods there—a small thicket in the middle of town—was something of a comfort. I felt like nature wasn’t all that far away. In fact, I enjoyed taking this route home because those woods gave me a feeling of reassurance. Strange to be saying something like that, isn’t it?

But the forest is gone…

I think I need to find a new route to work.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just Keep Swimming

Pin It

Live out of your imagination, not your history. Stephen Covey

I saw an advertisement on TV the other day for kind of a personal size swimming pool . The pool is only about 8’x10’ but you can still use it to swim laps because it comes with a machine that makes an adjustable current in the water. So no matter how long you swim you always stay in the same spot.

That pool kind of reminds me of my job…especially this week – a whole lot of swimming, swimming, swimming and not getting very far.

I’m starting with that analogy just to provide a little insight into my state of mind this week. I’m feeling a little down, a little frustrated and a little tired of swimming against a current that never seems to stop.

So, while feeling like a bit of a frustrated grump-a-saurus this afternoon I happened to overhear a conversation. It wasn’t a confidential or even particularly significant conversation so the fact that I overheard wasn’t a big deal. But one of the women that was talking kept using the phrase “I’m the kind of person that…” as in “I’m the kind of person that won’t talk if I’m mad.” Or “I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to be told what to do.”

I found myself kind of dwelling on that phrase all through the afternoon and it bugged me. I wasn’t bugged by what the woman was saying necessarily, I was bugged by the phrase itself- maybe because I feel like it’s a big part of the current I’ve been swimming against. It just seems to me that when we label ourselves in this way it’s like we give ourselves a built in excuse for whatever behavior we’ve decided on.

The students work this excuse all the time. They’ve already decided before they start what kind of guy they are and what they can and can’t do. If we’re lucky we can show them that maybe they were that type of guy but they don’t always have to be. And if we’re realy lucky all of the adults work together to provide reinforcement for change rather than justification for stagnation.

My frustration isn’t all about kids. There’s plenty of frustration to go around for the adults too – myself included I guess if I’m being honest about it. I just think that no one is exclusively the “the kind of person that…” in good ways or bad. We are all just people that make choices. Sometimes we’re “the kind of person that is always honest” but sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we’re “the kind of person that loses their temper easily,” but we don’t always have to be. We are certainly affected by what happens to us in our lives, but we shouldn’t always be a product of it - we always have the power to choose.

So maybe I’m the kind of person that eavesdrops on other people’s conversation and then rants about it…and then again maybe I should choose to mind my own business and just keep swimming.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blogs, Serials of Society

Pin It Why do I like to read blogs? Interesting question…really.

I guess you could say that I relate blogs as serials of a society. Blogs, like syndicated programs I love to watch, allow me to know more about certain characters, about their interests, quirks, and even moments of frustration and achievement in their day-to-day living. Like favorite programs, I have my favorite blogs as well. However, I look forward to reading all of the blogs on my subscription list (currently at an undisclosed number). Some of these ‘shows’ are on more frequently, while others only have a special which comes on every once and great while (ex; Yancy’s Christmas Special).

In the words of Will from the movie, About a Boy: “The thing is, a person’s life is like a TV show. I was the star of The Will Show. And The Will Show wasn't an ensemble drama. Guests came and went, but I was the regular. It came down to me and me alone…”

Blogs, like shows, have their major and minor characters…those whom we’ve become endeared to—though perhaps we’ve never before met them. They are the characters we laugh with at the good times, mourn with when there’s tragedy, and stand up and cheer for when they rise up against the odds.

You know what though? The ‘show’ would not be worth watching if it weren’t for the good times, as well as the bad. We need both to recognize the other—and to appreciate them. I never feel so good about feeling well as I do right after I’ve just been sick.

There have been times over the pasts few years when some my favorite ‘characters’ have taken a turn for the worst, are met up with insurmountable odds and trials, or quite simply, jumped in the lineup for a cancellation.

I guess I write this because I need to remind myself that a serial does not have a happy ending…at least, not yet. Sure, there are those episodes which make us feel good at the end when the credits start to roll, but there are others which leave us feeling frustrated or upset.

Just know that the writers will eventually get past that particular hurtful episode, and will get it right. But in the meantime, don’t cancel your show just yet.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week End

Pin It You know how sometimes you start a blog post and it just doesn't quite work?

You've spent close to an hour laboring over two paragraphs, and they actually sound okay...they just don't go anywhere.

That's sort of what I've been doing this morning.

I'm tired, I think, and it's affecting my ability to be witty and creative. I'm coming off of one of those weeks, filled, as the one following Thanksgiving always is, with frenetic, non-stop activity. Preparing for Autumn's birthday party, decorating the house for the holidays, shopping for a family our Sunday School class sponsors, accompanied by the normal business of keeping things going.

And then there was the weekend. All I can really say about the weekend is that I survived intact. Sort of, anyway--I do think I may be missing a few brain cells.

It was a weekend full of shrieking sixth grade girls, high on sugar and slumber party mayhem as Autumn ushered in her twelfth year. It involved baking a cake, making pizza, and carting those same sixth grade girls to a movie. I fell into a three hour nap Saturday afternoon, succumbed to puking Sunday morning and went on to teach Sunday School, clean a church closet, and decorate our classroom for the youth Christmas party that evening.

I stumbled exhausted into bed at nine 'o clock, fully anticipating that a good nine and a half hours would be enough to renew me, but I dragged upon the heralding of the alarm clock. But it was a new day nonetheless, so I dragged myself into it, whining only a little.

And so now, I find that I have nothing really to say except I'm glad the week is done, and a new one begun.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Devil's Food

Pin It

Inside some of us is a thin person struggling to get out, but they can usually be sedated with a few pieces of chocolate cake. ~Author Unknown

I have some really great friends. But one of my friends is, apparently, in league with the devil – aka the Great Tempter.

Here’s the problem.

I’m not usually a big fan of chocolate cake, but there is one big giant chocolaty -good exception. There is a local restaurant around here called Magleby’s that has a line on the best chocolate cake in the world. And I don’t say that lightly either. As I mentioned, usually chocolate cake isn’t a big temptation for me. I’m not drawn to the mountain-of death-by-chocolate fudge cake with the chocolate-mousse filling that’s drizzled with the warm chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate whipped cream. But the Magleby’s cake is different. Magleby’s doesn’t actually make the cake in their restaurant – they have a source – a woman. A woman that I’m sure must be a member in good standing of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (the Utah equivalent of the Daughters of the American Revolution). I’m sure she must be a member of the DUP because I recognize this cake. I recognize it from when I was a little girl. It was the cake that all of the women in my family - two generations removed from me (so grandmother and great-aunts etc.) made for every birthday, Ward Social or Funeral that required a cake. In our family it was called “Aunt Emma’s Chocolate Cake,” Aunt Emma being the apparent family baking expert. I feel confident that this "Aunt Emma" recipe that was created over a long time, through a painstaking process of trial and error, then handed down from generation to generation finally coming across the plains to land here in Utah where the dedicated fore-mothers of DUP baked this glorious creation to fortify the brethren while they toiled to make the dessert blossom as a rose – how else could they have built that Temple? This pioneer chocolate cake is chocolaty but not too chocolaty. It is dense, it is moist it is covered in real honest-to-Brother Brigham chocolate frosting – it is quite simply divine.

Now since I broadcasted my weight loss treatise a couple of blogs ago, you may be wondering why I am writing an ode to a chocolate cake.

Well that’s where my Devil friend comes in. My birthday was a few days ago and my delightful Devil-friend gave me my very own personal size (about 6”x6”) Magleby’s chocolate cake. And now its’ sitting there…in my kitchen… calling to me…enticing me and stirring up such a devilish desire to grab a fork and dive in that I’m am driven to distraction. The cup of fruit juice and crushed ice that is my snack this evening just isn’t doing the trick and I’m just not quite sure what to do. It doesn’t seem right to throw it away (there are other people in the house after all that might enjoy it). Plus it was a gift. It’s just plain bad manners to receive a gift and then just toss it even if it isn’t part of the diet plan.

Someone pointed out to me the other day that STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS. Coincidence?

I think not!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Blue Sweater

Pin It
As I have been reading various blog posts this week the spirit of Christmas has begun to slowly seep into my heart. When I think of what Christmas is really about my first thoughts are always of the Christmas memories that helped shape who I am and how I choose to celebrate. To me, Christmas is the most meaningful when it is a season of sharing and giving. This story is one reason why these things are especially meaningful for me at this time of year.


Christmas! The season is here. I have so many reasons to love this holiday, but the most prominent are the memories of the years that we had the least - monetarily, anyway.

Our first few years in California were tough. After my Dad lost his job in Iowa we moved to California to live with my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Dick. They were generous enough to not only offer my father employment but to also welcome us into their home. We lived with them for quite a while until Mom and Dad felt like we could try to make a go of things on our own and we moved into a nearby apartment. Mom and Dad told us that there would not be much for Christmas that year, but we would all be receiving a little something.

I remember well a trip to the mall a few days before Christmas to see the holiday displays and do some window shopping, something we did often. As I passed one particular window I caught sight of a beautiful blue sweater. Oh, how I wanted that sweater! I was at one of the most awkward social stages of my life. I had difficulty making friends and I was sure this sweater could help me in that department. With this sweater? Instant popularity! Friends galore! I slipped into the store, waving my family ahead.

I found my size and held it in front of me. It was so soft and warm. I looked into a mirror and could see how its blue color brought out the color of my eyes. I didn't dare try it on for fear that it would be a perfect fit, cementing the thought in my mind that we were made for each other, this sweater and I. I looked at the price tag... there was no way. I couldn't even ask.

I folded the sweater up and placed it back with the others in shades of red, purple and green. After one last, longing look, I hurried to catch up with my family.

Over the next couple of days we enjoyed some simple holiday traditions together - making cookies and decorating the tree. On Christmas Eve we delivered cookies to a few of our neighbors and friends then came back home to enjoy some Christmas treats. As we watched some holiday programs on the T.V. a loud knock sounded at our door. We ran to find who was coming to visit on Christmas Eve, throwing the door open eagerly. There was no one there. We were excited when we looked down and noticed a large box, filled with canned food, a ham and a gift for each of us! Christmas morning could not come quickly enough.

After a long, restless night, Christmas morning dawned. We gathered around the tree, eagerly anticipating the opening of gifts. There were a few things for each of us and we (im)patiently sat as each person took turns opening their presents one at a time, the way Mom liked to have us do it. Why we weren't allowed to just tear into the paper like wild banshees and get to what was inside was beyond me, but Mom made the rules.

I don't recall what my other gifts were but when it finally came my turn to open the mysterious gift left anonymously, I said a little prayer in my mind... "Please, Heavenly Father, let it be the blue sweater..." then I stopped. I felt a bit embarrassed. Who was I to ask God for a silly sweater? And why get my hopes up? The chances were slim to none. I slowly opened the gift and could not believe my eyes.

There it was. My sweater. The right size, the right color. We were made for each other.

Some may chalk it up to coincidence, but I choose to believe that God knows us personally and He knows what our needs are. And I think He works through others to bless us in simple ways when He knows we need it most.

This may sound over dramatic to you, but to a young pre-teen girl in need of a boost in the self-esteem department?

It was my own Christmas miracle.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The First Snowfall

Pin It I awoke the other morning and looked out my window. I could see the first few flakes of pure white drifting lazily from the heavens. I sat and watched them for a moment or two, thinking of days passed by and people long-since gone.

A moved down the stairs into the living room I’d decorated a week ago before I left on my whirlwind trip. I ignited the lights on the Christmas tree, as well as those running up the stairs interlaced with garland. My quiet home began to wake up and come to life. I decided to play David Tolk’s new Christmas album (if you haven’t heard it yet, it’s simply amazing…but then again, all of his music is). As its strains filled the house, it intermingled with the smell of pumpkin spice candles and tortellini soup, bringing that distinct feeling that Christmas is just around the corner.

What is it about the first snow that seems to erase all that is bad in the world and brings a feeling of newness? Is it the idea that slumbering beneath the blanket of white is a whole new world waiting to be born yet anew in the spring?

I think that’s part of it…

I can remember my own childlike wonder on the day of the first snow. I remember looking out the large picture window of our small house on that stretch of winding country road. I remember dressing up against the snow and chill with coat, mittens, scarf, and winter hat. I remember venturing out into the slowly drifting flakes, floating like cotton-fluff on the air, softly stealing way to the ground like manna from heaven. I remember holding my face to the sky as I would allow these crystalline flakes to settle on my tongue, despite the warnings of my mother that snow spiders lived in them, that they would crawl onto my stomach and lay eggs that would hatch during the night, and baby snow spiders would crawl out of my ears and nose while I slept.


Let the snow spiders come…snatching the flakes from the air with my tongue was worth it.


I remember dad coming home from work and we’d all climb into the old, white Ford pickup to go and find the perfect tree which would complete Christmas. I remember the drive taking a long time, but not really caring, the exhilaration of the moment had me practically bursting with excitement. We pulled off the road somewhere deep in the heart of the Huckleberry Mountains. We trudged through snowdrifts that were well past my knees – all in the hunt to find that perfect tree.

When we got in the tree home, we set up in the living room, coating it with multicolored lights, troves of decorations we had since forever, and the homemade paper chains, popsicle stick decorations, and strung lengths of cranberries and popcorn. Once it was finished, entire house seemed to come to life in a way that was only possible at Christmas.

Mom would play her Christmas albums, and the sounds of the season would intermingle with everything else. Sometimes she would get out the old, orange Betty Crocker cookbook and make Candy Cane cookies.


I can still taste them.

I sit in now my house, thinking of years gone by as the cotton-fluff flakes continue to gather over everything I see. You know, there’s just something about the first snowfall when nearing Christmas, and starting to feel that selfsame glow from days gone by, and Christmases past.

Let it snow…

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ode to Pickles

Pin It I have discovered the most wonderful food in the world. Really. It's pickles.

I have to smile at myself for fulfilling the single-most laughable stereotype regarding pregnant women and cravings. I've never really dealt with cravings before. Aside from the occasional "I'd-really-like-a-steak" or "man-McDonald's-french-fries-sure-sound-good" sensation, I've pretty much been able to eat as usual during my pregnancies...if a little more.

But suddenly, in the last few days, I have discovered the Wonderful World of Pickles. Sweet pickles, dill pickles, pickles with sharp cheddar cheese, pickles in the morning, pickles at noon, pickles in the evening...just pickles.

It actually occurred to me this morning after my third Clausen dill that perhaps I was actually doing damage to myself by ingesting so many pickles. After all, if I had a craving for milk, I wouldn't worry. I'd just tell myself that I must need the calcium, and carry on. But pickles? What health benefit to pickled cucumbers carry? Is brine good for you?

So I did what any normal woman would do under the circumstances: I ate another pickle, and then I Googled. "How many pickles in a day is too much?" I felt kind of silly typing in the query...how many answers, really, might I find? How many people were as paranoid and slightly demented as me?

Er...quite a few. Apparently I'm not the only one with pickle cravings. The landscape of answer.com, justask.com, and several other sites were littered with the same general question, including one hysterical chat from a husband who was concerned about his pregnant wife's massive pickle intake. According to kBg and ChaCha, eating too many pickles can cause stomach cancer and/or hypertension, due to the sodium content. According to other people, you can simply garner an upset tummy.

According to several pregnancy sites, though, there is a reason for the pregnant lady/pickle craving thing. In the second and third trimesters, a woman's blood volume increases, which creates a need for more sodium. Voila! A method to the pickle madness. More pickles equals more sodium to satisfy that higher blood volume.

I feel much better now.

So good, in fact, I may go eat another Clausen.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Traditional Thanks

Pin It

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day. ~Irv Kupcinet

I think traditions are great.

I think they are great and immeasurably important because they connect the generations and help develop a sense of family history a feelings of roots and stability. There's no limit to what a tradition can be. Even everyday family routines, such as who sits where at the dinner table, or reading a bedtime story every night can become a tradition. But, let’s face it most traditions revolve around holidays. Holiday traditions are usually something that is a little more special - something that's anticipated and that you're greatly disappointed if it doesn't happen.

And that, right there is why traditions can also be tricky

Much as we might want to we can’t always hold on to our traditions. Kids grow up and families change and as much as stability and roots might be what you hoped and worked for, tradition can sometimes be a transitory thing. This has certainly been my reality – especially over the last few years. Holidays are just hard for me. Every discernable holiday tradition that evolved while my boys were young has pretty much evaporated. Now don’t get me wrong, I have some great times with my boys and we still have our traditions – it’s just that holidays are tricky for us. One of the things that I feel strongly about when it comes to my boys and the holidays is to not make it a stressor for them. I had to make the decision a few years back to give up the sentimentality of holiday celebrations because I don’t want the boys to feel torn. But those darn holidays come around every year and I’ve found that it sure takes a whole lot of energy to not feel stressed out.

I’ve been thinking lately though, as with so many other things at this time in my life, I have to find a new holiday tradition reality – and maybe that is to not have any. I don’t mean not celebrating the holiday, but maybe my new tradition will be to never make a holiday plan…and just see what happens. I pretty much did that this year and everything has pretty much worked out. Even though I had no guests coming over to my home, I still got to bake 11 Thanksgiving pies and watch 25 teenage boys devour them with gusto. Even though I wasn’t planning buying the traditional Thanksgiving bird I still put a turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving morning, got to smell the great turkey roasting smell and I and know that people enjoyed eating it.

My Thanksgiving 2010 was traditionally non-traditional and wouldn’t make a very good spread in a Martha Stewart magazine – but it was good and I am thankful. I am Thankful for unknown blessings that I’m sure are already on their way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mommy Love, Or Lori's-Got-a-Big-Ole-Butt

Pin It Okay, so my post is late.





I have a valid reason.





The dog ate all of my timepieces, including the little digital clock in the bottom right-hand corner of my laptop, and I had no clue that it was already a little past eight o'clock.





She was hongry.





Actually, I spent the morning hours driving around town (and a neighboring town) taking care of various things--the weekly bank trip, the post office, fundraiser collections, dog to kennel--so I could then spend several many more hours in the car as I made my way to grandmother's house for Thanksgiving. That's the kids' grandmother, my mom, who lives in Columbia, SC.





Normally, I make a four and a half hour trip just four hours. I'm special that way. No bathroom breaks and a respectable ten over usually does the trick. Today, though...what a day.





I had carefully planned on leaving Monday for SC and returning to VA on Friday, figuring that most families would have left either over the weekend or on Wednesday, and would be returning the following weekend. And I think I was pretty accurate in that...I only saw four cops and the traffic was fairly doable. Until, that is, I got to Charlotte, NC.





You see, my morning errands ran over just a bit, which unfortunately put me close to Charlotte around rush hour. If you've never been in or around Charlotte during rush hour, just close your eyes and imagine a Walmart parking lot on Christmas Eve. And there you have it: H-E-double hockey sticks.





My four hours ('cause I was making good time, people) quickly turned into five hours. We've all been there. It's adjusting your seat so you can stretch your legs and feet, rotating your ankles, which are screaming from all the back and forth brake and gas action, cracking your knuckles to relieve some steering-wheel-grip tension, and answering the same question from your eight year-old twenty times in the space of three miles. "No, Lawson, this is still North Carolina."

I won't even mention the various Morons who attempted, more frequently than I've ever experienced, to sideswipe me and push me off the interstate. I'm not sure what the problem was...I must've forgotten to remove my invisibility cloak before leaving home or something. At any rate, I very politely slammed on my brakes to allow the Morons to assume my position in the long line of cars we were currently in. And I didn't mouth anything about checking blindspots or putting your glasses on, or anything like that.

But we finally made it. We limped into Mom's driveway somewhere close to seven p.m., and made our way into the house, loaded down with bags and suitcases and as many of Lawson's thirty stuffed animals he couldn't live without. Mom was waiting. "There's my fat girl!" she screamed, throwing her arms around me and everything I was carrying.

I swallowed a retort. After all, I was cranky, hungry, tired and well aware that as the granddaughter of Myrtle Elliott, niece to four Elliott sisters, and daughter of the fifth, I was fair game for rude and insensitive comments regarding my weight and any fluctuation thereof.

I didn't have to wait long for more. "You have really gotten huge!" Mom said, a big smile upon her face. She curled her fingers around my bicep. "Even your arms!" I cringed inwardly. Rub it in, already. I can't do push-ups anymore, for Pete's sake.

The torture continued. "And I mean this as a compliment, but I have never seen your butt so big!"

A compliment? Really? "Thanks, Mom. Really. You do understand that my butt has to grow bigger in proportion to my stomach, right?"

"Well, I didn't mean--"

Lawson giggled. "Your butt is bigger?"

"Yes, Lawson. You see, you can't carry around this big ole belly Mommy's getting on scrawny little chicken legs. So my butt is getting bigger to help balance things out." He laughed.

"And you are aware that I am still a size six, right--my pre-pregnancy size?" Mom's eyes grew wide,

"Really?"

I sighed inwardly. Relatives. Gotta love 'em.

Right?

*Guys, I am so sorry this post is late! Mom's wireless is experiencing problems, so I am currently in PANERA Bread trying to get this posted...albeit late.

"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tortures of Life

Pin It

The road to success is always under construction - Lilly Tomlin

Over the past month or so there has been a bunch of road construction in front of my house AND around my work. In front of the house they are laying a big water pipe and in front of my work…I don’t really know. But whatever it is, it’s taking a long time and using A LOT of heavy machinery.

I had to go to the dentist today and maybe because I’m driving through and around it every day, I couldn’t help but notice that going to the dentist is a lot like road construction.

In front of the house the surveyors, took pictures, measurements and marked up the road.

At the dentist the assistant took x-rays, measurements and marked up my chart.

In front of the house the construction dudes brought in that special concrete cutting machine to make a precise cut in the road before excavation began.

At the dentist the Doctor used the special needle to give me a precise shot (well 3 or 4 actually) to numb up the area before excavation began. (By the way, I love my dentist. He kind of hides the big needle out of the patients view so you never actually see the giant hypodermic going into your mouth and he’s really so great at it that you hardly even feel the needle go in – brilliant!)

In front of the house the construction dudes barricaded the street then brought in all sorts of heavy equipment, parked it in the middle of the street then disappeared for about a week.

At the dentist the Doctor barricaded my gums with those big cotton rolls to lift the cheeks away from the teeth, filled my mouth with a bunch of braces and other equipment, then disappeared for about 15 minutes to finish up with another patient (waiting for the novocaine to REALLY take effect I guess).

In front of the house the construction dudes used the concrete cutter, the jack hammer, the front loaders and just plain dudes with shovels to dig out a big section of pipe we never even knew there was problem with. They made a lot of noise and caused a lot of dust and irritation to the neighborhood. But if they hadn’t dug it out, it would have eventually caused a lot of pain and irritation to a lot of people.

At the dentist the Doctor used the small drill, the big drill (the one that feels like a jack hammer), the rinse and sucker thing and then just those little hooky pick things to dig out a big section in the middle of my tooth that I never even knew there was a problem with. He made a lot of noise and caused a lot of smoke (or maybe water vapor – I don’t know, but at one point there was definitely some kind of smoke-like substance coming out of my mouth) and irritation to me. But if he hadn’t dug it out it would have eventually caused me a whole lot more pain and irritation.

In front of the house they replaced the pipe, filled in the hole, repaved the hole, and moved all the equipment off of the street. And now the neighborhood is pretty much back to normal. There is a long dark lump down the middle of the road where the new concrete that covers the trench isn’t quite as smooth as the old road surface - but all in all things are good.

At the dentist, the Doctor replaced the portion of the tooth that he dug out with a filling, smoothed the whole thing over and took all of the equipment out of my mouth (whew). And now my mouth is pretty much back to normal. It’s a little sore around the edges of my tooth and the filling isn’t quite as smooth as the old tooth surface – but all in all things are good.

On our front door the other day we received a notice that the pipe replacement project would resume again on our street in 2 or 3 months.

Before I left the dentist, the Doctor suggested that I come back again in 2 or 3 months so to work on the molar on the other side of my mouth.

Some tortures are physical and some are mental, but I think when it comes to road construction and dental work – it is both.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Day Of Gratitude

Pin It
photo found at wordpress.com

Despite the fact that the retail market and radio stations have once again forgotten one of my favorite holidays, I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving. I love wearing sweaters, the crispness in the air, the leaves blanketing the ground and the plentiful supply of pumpkin-infused treats that become available in the autumn. Most of all, though, I love the time spent with family and friends over this holiday as well as the personal reflection on things that I am thankful for.

This time of personal reflection has brought about a bit of a problem, however - every thought seems to be laced with emotion. And I'm not talking pregnancy hormones. I have just been overwhelmed with thankfulness for how amazing my life is. What's the problem with that? you may be wondering. The only way I can think to describe it is to say that these thoughts and feelings are something for me alone - they are personal and even sacred to me and they are all I can think about. This makes for scarce blogging - because I don't really want to share how awesome my husband and kids are. I'm afraid it will come across the wrong way and those who read will roll their eyes and think I'm seeing through rose-colored glasses. (I'm not.)

It makes me feel braggy but I have a grateful heart nonetheless. Let me give you the gist of it...

Every time I look at my husband or any of my children lately I am overcome with a mixture of pride, happiness and emotion. I am constantly amazed and humbled by the gift I have been given in being able to bring another little one into our family. We are immensely blessed to have Allen love his steady job at an incredible company that is supportive of families. We live in a wonderful neighborhood - not only for the location but especially for the good people that we are lucky enough to call our friends. My family is in good health. Honestly, I could go on. And on. This is not bragging. The simple fact is that my life is awesome.

I have noticed that quite a few other bloggers use this month to write every day about something they are thankful for. I think that is a great idea and something I may even try one of these years. However, for now, instead of writing more about me and my blessings I would love to hear from you. Let's take time to recognize and focus on the great things that are happening in our lives. If you have to, go ahead and put on those rose-colored glasses. It's time to remember what we have to be thankful for...

Even if it's Christmas music playing 24/7 on the airwaves.



What are you most thankful for?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

90's Hair

Pin It I pulled up to the intersection and waited for the light to change.

As I glanced out my side window, I instantly noticed the early-90’s-hair-puffed-boy-band howard-jones-esque-look of man’s hair who sitting in the car next to me. It made me smile. As the light changed to green I found myself fumbling with my iPod to find an appropriate song for the moment. Moments later, “Is it Love?” by Whitesnake blared from my speakers.


After all, it big hair rock bands and their awesome music seemed pretty fitting to celebrate the moment…

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Left Behind

Pin It

She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

I am about to embark on an…excavation. Yes, I think that excavation is probably the right word for it, an excavation of my waistline…among other body parts. I am about take up a serious effort to lose some weight. Now not serious to the point of surgery or anything – so maybe regimented effort would be a better way to put it.

I’m a little hesitant to actually put this down in writing, not to mention send it out into the internet void because once I’ve said it out loud (so to speak) I really have to do it. I mean it’s out there. There are witnesses. I’ve changed it from something I can just quietly strive for in unobserved obscurity (which I suppose is what I would prefer) into a publicly announced effort - But what the heck. Maybe if I put it down in writing and send it out into the blog-o-sphere, my goal itself will be less likely to slip away into obscurity.

I’ve been one of those lucky folks that have had “weight issues” for a long time. Most of the extra weight gain came while baby building…then unfortunately stuck around after the baby was born. But as I just married off my first major weight gain, it seems a fitting time (and about time) to get rid of the “baby weight” once and for all.

While I’ve always been pretty good about exercise and going to the gym (falling off of treadmills not withstanding) I have to cop to some deep-seeded childhood issues when it comes to food and to weight. They are the kind of issues that make me feel rebellious about food. You know how it is when the food choices are made for you as a kid or if you’re not given choices you tend (well ,I do anyway) to feel rebellious about people telling me what to eat or when I can eat it. The show-off dieters are another thing I am rebellious (and disdainful ) about. The “I only eat salad” people,” the “ I count every calorie that goes in my mouth” people. The “I look down my nose at anyone that eats dessert” people. Of course these people are usually pretty thin and look great. But again, my derision is deep-seeded and is rooted in the complicated quagmire of my childhood – and how much sense does that ever make? So a lot of these issues, plus just spending a significant amount of time wading through emotional angst over the years have contributed and kept me from ever really committing and getting serious about losing weight.

But recently I was approached someone who is more than an acquaintance but not quite a friend…yet. He’s someone that I’ve known for a long time in a professional capacity but we know stuff about each other because we’ve lived on the fringes of each other’s lives for about a decade and have had some pretty good conversations over the years. Anyway, the last time I saw him was a couple of weeks before Superdude’s wedding. As you may remember, with whole wedding thing I was (am) in an even weirder than usual mental/emotional state and being a good guy he notice my crazily conflicted kind of mood. And you know how it is – sometimes you’re just fine right up until someone asks. Poor guy, his innocent inquiry precipitated a little emotional breakdown for me and we had one of our little talks about changing times and changing circumstances. I guess my apparent mental instability stayed with him because a few days later he called me out of the blue (not our usual friend/acquaintance dynamic) and asked me if I’d be willing to try something - a weight loss plan he’d come across and he offered to act as my mentor/coach for the process. It’s something he wants to get into and could use a guinea pig (so to speak) to get the ball rolling for this business.

Surprisingly enough, even though I’m hugely uncomfortable with the thought of having to have someone else involved in my weight, it wasn’t really a hard decision. Losing weight and concentrating more on my health is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently - it’s almost like I’ve been kind of expecting some kind of opportunity like this to turn up.

French poet Anatole France
said: All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

This describes exactly what I’ve been feeling lately. With the kids grown up and moving on it’s the end of one life and the opportunity to enter another. While I’m at it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to leave some of myself behind as well.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Generation Gap

Pin It
Coolister (the tall guy) and some of his awesome (and also smart) friends.


When I was in high school my friends were all much more intelligent than I. It's not that I wasn't smart - I just didn't have any expectations to meet so I suppose you could say I didn't care about what grades I would get as long as I was going to graduate. High school graduation was as far as my parents got and it was as far as they expected me to go.

Fast forward to my senior year...

All of my friends were getting acceptance letters to colleges and universities before I even knew what the ACT Test was. I found out that my long-distance friend in Washington was accepted to a junior college in Idaho called Ricks with a whopping ACT score of 17. I didn't even know what the ACT was, but I signed up to take it so I could apply to Ricks and be roommates with her.

A score of something close to 17 became my goal.

Actually, the term goal is used loosely in that last sentence since I showed up the morning of the ACT armed with a pencil and my driver's license. I didn't even think about studying because I didn't know exactly what the ACT was or what I would be tested on. A few weeks later I got my score: 25! I was ecstatic.

Now fast forward to the present...

Not only do I want my kids to receive a college education - they desire this for themselves. It started with reading books and learning colors and letters with them as wee ones and continued throughout elementary, middle and high school. Education has always been a priority and they know it. Learning happened as much at home as it did at school and there have always been expectations.

My eldest child is a senior in high school. Not only did he study for the ACT well in advance, he took it his junior year. He got a score of 32 and was disappointed. He took it again last month and found out that he increased his score by one point. He was pleased, but still wished for at least a 34. For those of you who may not know, a 36 is the highest score you can get. I love that he sets such high expectations of himself.

I try not to brag too often in the blog world about how awesome my kids are, although I am tempted to do it all the time because they make me so dang proud. In fact, about 10 things just ran through my mind that I could gush on and on about, but I will refrain. The point of this post is this:

I love how a major, positive change in a family pattern can happen in just one generation.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lemonade Stands

Pin It
It was about ten years ago when I was living in Spokane, Washington that I made a decision to stop every time I came across a lemonade stand. This decision came about one day when I was driving and saw three boys staked out next to the street in front of their home. They had set up a makeshift table of boxes and an old board across them on which they’d placed a pitcher of red Kool-Aid and a stack of Styrofoam cups.

I felt the need to stop. Not because I was thirsty, but for an entirely different reason. You see, I’d always wanted to sell lemonade when I was a kid and earn pocketfuls of money from doing so, however, being raised on a back country road for most of one’s childhood limits the number of customers a stand like that would actually acquire. Couple that with a paranoid mom and you can imagine the result…

No-can-do.

As I came closer I noticed the message the boys had written on their makeshift sign; it proudly proclaimed, World’s Best Kool-Aid…25¢ a glass.

All three boys straightened up as I pulled over to the curb, obviously trying to impress a potential customer.

“World’s best Kool-Aid?” I asked.

The three nodded their heads vigorously.

“It sure is, sir, we made it ourselves!” one of the boys proclaimed proudly. “With sugar and everything.”

“Really? Well, in that case, I think I need to buy a glass.”

At once the boys set into action, one getting the little white cup ready while another carefully lifted the pitcher and began to pour that red, sticky liquid into it all the way up to the brim. The last boy took the cup and carried it carefully to my car, followed by the other two.

As I carefully took the overfilled-cup I said, “One quarter for the three of you? That’s going to be hard to split. I’ll tell you what; if you give me a couple of smiles to go along with this, I think that would be worth an extra 50¢”

All three boys broke into the widest grins I’d ever seen. For a moment I thought that the boy in the middle’s face was going to split right open.

Luckily, it didn’t.

“Now that was worth the extra 50¢!” I handed over the three shiny coins.

As I drove away, balancing the cup precariously in my non-steering hand, I watched the three boys through my rear-view mirror give each other high-fives and celebrate over their tripled profits, slapping each other on the back.

Photo from: http://flickr.com/photos/lorenzodom/33805540/

I smiled as I maneuvered my car through the heavy traffic for several blocks. When I was out of sight of the boys, I pulled over to the side of the road and dumped the Kool-Aid onto the grass.

After all, I didn’t stop for Kool-Aid; I’d stopped to support childhood.

It was the best 75¢ I’ve ever spent.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Back-Seat Tell All

Pin It A conversation with Lawson on the way home from school Friday:

"So, Alia told me something today. She said, 'I want to tell you something, but I'm afraid you're going to faint.'"

"Hmm," I reply. "So what did you say?"

"I said, 'I won't faint. I'm a boy.' " His voice is deep with the importance of the facts he is conveying, and if you listened closely, edged with just the faintest hint of embarrassment, and yes...pride.

"Alright. So what did she tell you?"

"She said, 'Ooookaaaaay,' and leaned really close to me, and she told me she loves me."

I gasp, but there is Silence from the back seat. Finally, I ask, "so what did you do?"

"Well, I didn't faint, but my eyes got really big, like this--" he demonstrates in the rear-view. "And then I ran."

That's my boy.

My unwilling, unwitting, and utterly bewildered Casanova. He came home today and stood before me, backpack hanging from one arm. In a voice laden with accusation, he reported, "She said she wanted to kiss me today! Kiss me!"

I tried not to laugh. "Well, I hope you didn't let her?"

"I told her heck, no!" He let the backpack fall glumly to the floor. "And now I have three other girls after me. Four in all. Alia, Leah, Carson, and Savannah. Alia said she wants to marry me."

I would like to tell you that I had all sorts of sage motherly wisdom to offer my child, but I had nothing except giggles repressed with difficulty. "I think it's early days to be thinking about marriage," I told him. "How about a snack?"

He considered. "Yeah, okay."

"Keep your grades up. Don't let all those girls distract you."

"Yeah, okay."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Now My Thumbs Hurt

Pin It Just so you know, I am totally writing this delinquent post from my cell phone as I sit in the outpatient lab of my local hospital. I have been fasting since last night so that I could come here and drink 10 ounces of syrupy-sweet orange nastiness in order to be tested for gestational diabetes.

This is the definition of misery for me...

Today is Allen's birthday. As is tradition for our family, the kids and I woke up early to make a hearty breakfast-in-bed for him. Wheat and honey pancakes with fresh-whipped cream and raspberries, eggs, sausage and a tall glass of cold orange juice. Just writing all of that out was painful. Did I mention that I am fasting?

This is the definition of torture for me...

However. As my sleepy-eyed crew and I delivered our breakfast creation to our much loved and appreciated husband/father while singing "Happy birthday to you!" I had an overwhelming feeling of indescribable joy and appreciation for this family that I am blessed to call mine. The fact that we are able to add to this happiness by adding to our brood makes the misery and torture bearable.

So, despite my queasy stomach this morning, I would have to say that today has really been my definition of bliss.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Outdoors

Pin It I really need to follow this advice and not stay at work for as late as I have been lately…



Then maybe I'll have something to say and the time in which to do it. The goal tomorrow is to leave by 5.

Do yourself a favor tomorrow, too...get out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Goody Bags and Wide Open Spaces

Pin It I love Halloween. It's the whole "autumn" thing, I think...crunchy leaves, glowing streetlamps, a crispness in the air...it's my favorite season.

I love this time of year where we live. I'm surrounded by trees that are shedding their summer glories, fields that are slowly turning golden, and a lovely quiet in which to enjoy it.

I have to confess, though: if there were one time during the year where I wish I lived closer to people, it'd be Halloween.

Each year, I pile the kids in the car and drive away to a location scouted out for particularly worthy Halloween loot. We've discovered some really great neighborhoods and some not so great ones. There's one inhabited largely by older people that we gave up on, despite really cool decorations. I think that whole fixed-income thing had a lot to do with the "single Tootsie roll per child" rule that seemed pretty par for the course.

Then there were the really ritzy neighborhoods that actually had pretty good candy...if you were willing to trek a quarter-mile driveway to achieve each benefice.

The best, I've come to believe, are the standard middle-class neighborhoods that are full of kids. I'm wondering if there's some unspoken competition going on for Best Haunted House, Best Mums, and Best Halloween Handful. We went to such a neighborhood last night, and the kids racked up.

I'm always a little sad, though, that I can't stay home and hand out candy. Nobody comes to our house, because it's a quarter mile away from anyone else's. And then that person's house is a quarter mile from anyone's. It may sound silly, but I would LOVE to stay home and pass out Halloween goodies to adorably decked out kids.

I would make the best little Halloween goody bags, filled with a cool mixture of useless plastic things and truly excellent candy--Reeses' Cups, and Twix. No Tootsie Rolls for me. My yard would be decorated with all of those cool Halloween things...if there were a competition for best decorations, I'd win it for sure. I'm just saying. I'd probably even have a table with hot chocolate.

But alas, it is not to be. When you trade the neatly ordered driveways of a neighborhood for wide open spaces, there are certain things you lose. Neighbors, for one. Instead of little Johnny just running over after school, you carefully coordinate playdates that work with everyone's schedules. Instead of impromptu backyard barbeques, your community becomes your church, and groups of friends with whom you (again) carefully orchestrate lunch dates and girls' nights.

You lose the motivation of someone else's perfect lawn spurring your husband (or yourself) to measure up.

You make up for it in other ways, though. There's that whole "wide-open" thing. Instead of the neighbor's teenage son blaring his stereo, you get to listen to a symphony of squirrel and bird chatter. No one cares if your yard is less than perfect. You're left alone, for the most part, to go your own way and do your own thing, with no subtle community pressure to be a "joiner". You can sip your morning coffee in your underwear in the front yard, and no one would be the wiser. (Not that I do that, of course.)

So. I suppose I'm trading goody bags for peace and solitude. I guess I can deal.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crazy: Up Close And Personal

Pin It
I wish I had time to write a blog post today, but life is crazy at the moment.

If I had time to write I would tell you all about how much I love Halloween, but I have roughly 45 pumpkins to gut and carve.

I could go on and on about how this is my favorite holiday, how I am that crazy neighbor that you don't understand because our family gets so into our Halloween decor, but I have a clown costume to fix and one more clown mask to find.


I'd tell you about how we transform our house and yard into the Cemetery Hotel and how this year is the off year when we throw in a spook alley, but I need to get to making the food for the disgusting dining room.

I'd love to tell you about how huge it's become this year with a cast of almost 30 teenage spooks and creepers from the neighborhood, but we're getting our haunted corn maze put back together after the continuous rain and wind that all but destroyed it a couple of nights ago.



I wanted to write about how fun it has been decorating the interior of the top floor of my house in preparation for having hundreds of strangers wander through it this weekend, but I still have to measure, cut and lay carpet remnants in the walking areas.


I wish I had time to tell you about the additions this year - the haunted lobby and creepy laundry room, the catacombs and south cemetery where the zombies come out at night, the forested tunnel and honeymoon suite... but the spider's lair is not yet complete and, well, someone's got to do it.

What I will tell you is that if you live anywhere near me and would like to come, we had tickets printed for both Friday and Saturday nights and we'd love to have you see what we've been putting together for the past few weeks in anticipation of this weekend.

For us, the real treat is having our friends and neighbors come through and enjoy a bit of a scare on Halloween weekend.

If you'd like a ticket, just let me know in the comments or send me an email at gerbdonna at gmail dot com. If I can't get one to you before this weekend then we can put one on hold for you with the lady who'll be passing out candy in front of the Cemetery Hotel.

I hope you can make it... we're dyyyyyyying to see you. (insert evil laugh)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...