Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice!!

Oh, friends and loved ones, today is the day!! Brent asked if we had to dance around a bonfire or something. I told him not to be silly. It's much too cold for a bonfire. We'll just put a candle in the middle of the living room floor.

You know some of the depression struggles I have cannot be helped. My brain does not fire the way other people's do and for this reason I am very happily medicated. That being said, some of the fight I fight comes down to making a choice. I am careful with what I watch, what I read, the people with whom I hang out. I try to be careful what I eat. (Except for the butter on saltines snack I am having right now. Okay, it's not even butter, it's margarine. I'm sorry. It's tasty.)

Today is the day I make a choice about winter. Today is the day I am done grieving, done whining (don't hold me to that one, okay?), done feeling sorry for myself. Today is the day I buck up and move ahead.

Oh my sweet friend, it doesn't take a visit by three ghosts to make me see it's time to embrace some holiday joy. If not for the Christmas baby, I would have no strength to tackle any of this. If I did not believe that God really came down and became a human who could identify with me, I wonder what would be the point of living in this crazy world.

So let us take a cue from our chum Ebenezer:

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!

I am going to take a little blog break to focus on Christmas with my family and then take that long awaited trip to the Sunshine State. I will see you again, precious friend, in the new year. Stay safe! Stay warm!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Writer's Block Friday : Waiting for Solstice Edition

Blah, blah, blah . . .

1. I see that I wrote yesterday that I shouldn't have waited before posted Tuesday's poem. Of course I meant I should have waited. This is further proof that I am loopier than usual.

2. Jeremy J sent me a link yesterday to a group which declares the first day of spring to be December 22. I signed on immediately. Welcome, Spring!

3. Cyberspace Sarah made an emergency trip up to see Sara Groves at our church last night. I was trying to find a post on one of our blogs about how we accosted her at a Beth Moore event last year when Sara was just trying to sit there and listen like everyone else. Let's just say we were a little concerned there would be a restraining order. Imagine our surprise (Of horror?) when she said, "Hey! I've met you!" Yes, you have. Thank you for being gracious.

4. So I took Cyberspace's picture with SG (because we are close and she remembers us, I call her by her initials), got home and realized that I had not had a picture with SG -- just like at Beth Moore. This would explain the awkward moment when she moved in to stand next to me. She thought it was my turn, but was too lovely to say, "Don't you want a picture with me?"

5. Because how weird would that be to stand there and have your picture taken with people you don't even know but who know you?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Waiting for the Solstice: Part III

I had two phone calls of concern over my mental health yesterday. One, in particular, was a great worry over Tuesday's poem/song. I knew I shouldn't have waited before posting that as this week's selection. I only meant to show that there are minds more out of whack than my own at this time of year.

Anyway, we are down to four days today, and I am feeling much better, thank you. The sun has been out for three days in a row. Today's high is 20, I think. (Whoo! Break out the shorts, Big Daddy!) I have cut my Christmas cookie intake way, way down and left that third cup of coffee out all together. It's all helping.

A Facebook friend asked where the party was going to be on Monday. My initial answer was, "In my mind, of course," but I'm concerned that sounds a little nutty, and I started to think maybe it wasn't such a bad idea. Maybe I should have a little celebration.

Let's brainstorm:
* I could eat a sundae. (Get it? Do you see where we're going with this?)
* How about an egg -- sunny side up? (Nope, too runny. Eat my eggs over hard.)
* Sun Chips
* I could dress all in yellow.
* I could listen to Good Day, Sunshine or Here Comes the Sun or Don't let the Sun Go Down on Me or You Are the Sunshine of My Life.

Ah, the possibilities and only four days to go.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Waiting for the Solstice: Part II

Oh, how could I do that to you yesterday? What a horrible song. It's lack of daylight I tell you. It's making me go wonkier than ever. I burst into tears singing "Mighty to Save" on Monday night while I pictured God getting ready to rotate the earth ever so slightly back to summer.

Five more days.

Here I am in front of my little light therapy light pretending I am sitting in the warm sun of Aruba and not in West Central Minnesota where yesterday's high was -2.

Tragically, I didn't manage makeup of any sort yesterday. What would have been the point? Where was I going yesterday when the high was -2. You can see I have painted my fingernails gold . . . like little suns.

Oh, I am sure once Monday rolls around, I will settle down and grin and bear it. I will return to my right mind. I will take on the cold and snow like the true, strong Minnesota woman I am.

. . . or I will pack my family in the car and head to Florida for the week. HAHAHA!!!

Nope, not kidding. That's my plan. I hear it's 65 glorious degrees there now. Heat wave!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

I heard the most horrible Christmas song ever on XM Holly the other day and now I am forcing its twisted lyrics on you. Honestly, I am so fond of you I don't know why I am doing this. Just imagine the sweetest little voice ever singing this song and just thank your lucky Christmas stars you didn't think of it first.

We thought we were crazy.

The Chimney Song
Bob Rivers Comedy Corp

There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all night long.
Well, I waited up for Santa all Christmas night
But he never came and it don't seem right.
And there's something in the chimney
And it doesn't make a sound,
But I wish you Merry Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all week long.
Well, the dog keeps barking up the chimney flue
And we don't know what we're going to do.
Cause there's something in the chimney
And it doesn't move around,
And it's been a week since Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all month long.
Well, it's jammed up tight above the fireplace
Now the house smells funny, such a big disgrace.
That there's something in the chimney
And it doesn't talk at all,
And it's been there since last Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all year long.
I'll been waiting up for Santa like I did last year
But my brother says, "He's already here."
And he's stuck up in the chimney
And he doesn't say a word
And he'll be there every Christmas.
And we'll have him every Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Waiting for the Solstice

Quit being so cute, kid. Mother's trying to be seriously cranky about the lack of daylight.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Dirty Eyes

As it turns out, I have dandruff of the eyelashes or something owing to my poor eyelid hygiene.

Well, that is what he said. Now I am on a strict eye washing regimen. Is this too much information? Frankly, it was a bit of a shock to me. It just never occurred to me I had poor eyelid hygiene. I consider myself a pretty clean person. One of the instructions on the sheet said to wash my eyebrows with antibacterial shampoo.

Really? I may skip that step.

It wouldn't have been so bad, but it came on the heels of the eye surgeon (who is remaining nameless today) explaining to me that I can't see as well out of my right eye because he left it that way because I am 40. He explained he'd bought me seven additional years without reading glasses by leaving one of my eyes nearsighted. So, I don't have to have glasses because I can't see out of that eye alone . . . or something. Then, he looked at me as if I was completely dopey for not shouting out for joy at this news and promptly told me about the poor eyelid hygiene thing. He wrote a prescription for an expensive antibiotic gel the pharmacy didn't have.

It was a long morning.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Say, can you see?

I was at the eye doctor this morning and he confirmed what I already knew. My right eye isn't healing quite right. I will probably have to go back on a series of eye drops. I need to go to a second opinion appointment tomorrow. I don't care much, as long as it gets better.

I have never been a particularly good healer. In college I had my wisdom teeth out on a Thursday thinking I would be ready to go back to class on Monday. I swelled up like a chipmunk and couldn't go until Wednesday or so.

We won't go into unnecessary details, but you know how after women give birth they say, "Oh, you forget the pain right away!" Me, not so much. Many weeks of laying on the couch feeling sorry for my body.

Just being in the same room with someone who heard over the phone that his or her cousin has strep throat will send me to the doctor for a throat culture and to bed for a week.

So pass the eye drops. Shoot. Where's that Target pharmacy coupon? Grrrr. Out with the recycling yesterday.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Marshmallow World

I've made no secret that winter is not my favorite season. The high today is four (4) with a wind chill so that it feels like -27. What would I have to gain by lying to you? It's cold. You'll have to forgive me if I get a little bit whiny while I wait to acclimate. I will. It takes time.

So anyway, I was driving to my hair color appointment yesterday . . . Which took longer than I anticipated when I heard my beloved stylist say while I was in the shampoo bowl, "You look like a shiny new penny!" While, I admit, it was very fun to look like a shiny new penny, I didn't think I had the energy to carry it off so early in the winter and so back under the foils I went.

Where was I? Yes. I was driving to my appointment when "Marshmallow World" came on the ol' XM holiday station. I was singing along with enthusiasm when we got to the fourth verse and these lyrics:

It's a yum-yummy world made for sweethearts
Take a walk with your favorite girl
It's a sugar date, what if spring is late
In winter it's a marshmallow world.

I opened my mouth to sing the line "what if spring is late" with the horror that I always feel when singing that line -- you know, "Argh! What if spring is late?!" -- when for the first time in my 40 years, I stopped to think about what was going on in the song. I always thought it was strange that while the rest of the song seems to sing the praises of snowy winter, that line reflected the truth. This is all very pretty and fun, but HORRORS! what if spring is late? It hit me like a lightning bolt, like a cartoon light bulb going on over my head. This lyricist is saying he would not care if spring is late! So what if spring is late?!

I was stunned. I drove on in silence. It's just so very wrong.

I'm not sure I can sing that song again.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

I'll be honest with you. (I try to be most days.) I've only eaten lutefisk maybe three times. We've talked about lutefisk, right? Well, we should have. Bless my ancestors hearts, they dried their fish and then reconstituted it with lye. Yes, lye. Not rye -- lye -- which according to Wikipedia is a "corrosive alkaline substance." This makes a sort of jellied fish that smells like (take a wild guess) lye. We then eat it at holiday time drowning in a cream sauce and butter. Well, as I have said, I probably have only managed it a few times. As I recall the smell is much worse than the taste, but it's been a long time, and I am sure I was trying to be brave.

Anyway, growing up a Twin Cities radio station would play a reading of this poem and it always made us laugh.

Oh, the memory of the smell is coming to me as we speak.

Dan Freeburg

'Twas the day before Christmas, with things all a bustle.
As Mama got set for the Christmas Eve tussle.
Aunts, uncles, and Cousins would soon be arriving,
With stomachs all ready for Christmas Eve dining.
While I sat alone with a feeling of dread,
As visions of lutefisk danced in my head.
The thought of the smell made my eyeballs start burning.
The thought of the taste set my stomach to churning.
For I'm one of those who good Swedes rebuff,
A Scandahoovian boy who can't stand the stuff.
Each year, however, I played at the game,
To spare Mama and Papa the undying shame.
I must bear up bravely. I can't take the risk,
Of relatives knowing I hate lutefisk.

Then out in the yard I heard such a clatter.
I jumped up to see what was the matter.
There in the snow, all in a jumble,
Three of my uncles had taken a tumble.

From out in the kitchen an odor came stealing,
That fairly set all of my senses to reeling.
The smell of the lutefisk crept down the hall,
And wilted a plant in a pot on the wall.
Uncles Oscar and Lars said "Oh, that smells yummy,"
And Kermit's eyes glittered while he patted his tummy.

Mama announced dinner by ringing a bell.
They rushed to the table with a whoop and a yell.
I lifted my eyes to heaven and sighed,
And a rose on the wallpaper withered and died.
Then Mama came proudly with a bowl on a trivet.
You would have thought the crown jewels were in it.
She set it down gently and then took her seat.
And Papa said grace before we could eat.
It seemed to me, in my whirling head,
The shortest of prayers he ever had said.

Then Mama raised the cover on that steaming dish,
And I had to face the quivering fish.
The plates were passed for Papa to fill,
While I waited in agony, twixt fever and chill.
He dipped in the spoon and held it up high,
As it oozed to plates, I thought I would die.

Then it came to my plate, and to my fevered brain.
There seemed enough lutefisk to derail a train.
It looked like a mountain of congealing glue,
Yet oddly transparent and discolored in hue.
With butter and cream sauce I tried to conceal it,
I salted and peppered, but the smell would reveal it.

I drummed up my courage, tried to be bold,
Mama reminds me, "Eat before it gets cold."
Deciding to face it, "Uffda," I sighed.
"Uffda, indeed," my stomach replied.

Then summoning the courage for which we are known,
My hand took the fork as with a mind of its own.
And with reckless abandon the lutefisk I ate,
Within 20 seconds, I'd cleaned up my plate.
Uncle Kermit flashed me an ear-to-ear grin,
As butter and cream sauce dripped from his chin.
Then to my great shock, he spoke in my ear,
"I'm sure glad that's over for another year."

It was then that I learned a great wonderful truth,
That Swedes and Norwegians from old men to youth,
Must each pay their dues to have the great joy,
Of being known as a good Scandahoovian boy,
And so to tell you all, as you face the great test,
"Happy Christmas to you, and to you all my best."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Practical Gifts

While I go rescue a few ornaments from the dog, please enjoy this year's interpretation of the manger scene by Toddler D. Last year, you may recall, the shepherd tried to kidnap Baby Jesus and then flung himself off the buffet when he was caught by the shocked Wise Men.

This year the Wise Men have brought Baby Jesus a gift of landscaping shrubbery and are now in conference about what to do with all those burial spices and things they brought. Such impractical gifts for a baby.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dog Ran Away

It's winter today, and I suppose it will be until . . .well, to be honest . . . May. We have that first layer of snow and the high today was 21 or something. Toddler D decided he wanted to play out on the porch without socks. I let him. I figured he would eventually decide it was much too cold and come inside. I opened the door several times to check him and try to encourage him. The last time I did this, I noticed the dog was no longer on the porch with D. I was pretty sure he had been at one point.

Toddler D, did you let Fritz out?


Great. On went my medium weight winter coat (for temps below freezing but above zero). On went my winter boots. (The trendy cute ones, not the functional ones.) Out I went.

I called. I called. I walked up the alley. I wished I'd put my mittens on. I contemplated putting D in the car and driving around. I called some more. I tried to follow dog tracks in the snow.


I decided that when the dog got cold enough he would come back. OR maybe a family who loved him more than I do would take him in out of the cold. Also a good possibility. As I headed for the door a little white face (except for the chin from a nasty diaper incident we shall not discuss) met me at the door.

From the inside.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is that a dust speck?

I don't have anything smart to say today. I have been sitting here just staring at the computer for quite some time. I was watching a dust speck just this moment.

I've been in a couple of interesting discussions regarding tree trimming timing. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, I had a Facebook friend write that she had the tree up and the presents under. That seems too early to me. I need to take a breath from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I turned a little holiday music on the next day and we baked cookies, but that was as exciting as it got.

If department stores had their way, we would start November 1st after Halloween. There's not much to sell us on Thanksgiving.If you start this early, by my way of thinking, you sick of it and ready to take it down December 26. I'm not comfortable with that. Seems like such a sudden ending.

Then I was in a discussion with a woman (okay, it was my mom) whose family did not put the tree up until Christmas Eve. After 42 of being married and having her own family, she's still a little angry about this. Christmas Eve does seem a little late.

Is there some middle ground to our holiday decorating?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Small Prayer

Gigi and her plate at Thanksgiving while niece Ella looks on in horror at cranberry Jell-O salad.

I was in the next town at Target today when I ran into my grandmother Gigi. (As you may recall, that's just her fancy way of spelling G.G. for great-grandmother.) Please, let me be 86 and driving myself over to the next town in my sporty Mazda to buy Legos for my great-grandson because I thought he probably needed some for his birthday next month. She was concerned that the Lego supply would be down after the holidays, so she wanted to get them today. That's my Gigi's way of thinking and that part doesn't have anything to do with her age. She's always been that way.

I'm not saying that Gigi should be driving, by the way. It's been a long time since I have ridden with her, but she is . . .

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Last week we had a poem from a man who liked to make up words and yesterday I was reminded of another man who liked to make stuff up, Theodore Geisel. He wasn't a real doctor, but he liked to play one in his stories.

Welcome Christmas

Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome Christmas,
Come this way!

Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome Christmas,
Christmas Day.

Welcome, Welcome
Fah who rah-moose
Welcome, Welcome
Dah who dah-moose
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp

Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome Christmas
Bring your cheer
Day Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome all Who's
Far and near

Welcome Christmas, fah who rah-moose
Welcome Christmas, dah who dah-moose
Christmas day will always be
Just so long as we have we

Fah who for-aze
Dah who dor-aze
Welcome Christmas
Bring your light

Welcome Christmas
Fah who rah-moose!
Welcome Christmas
Dah who dah-moose!
Welcome Christmas
While we stand
Heart to heart
And hand in hand

Fah who for-aze
Dah who dor-aze
Welcome welcome
Christmas Day

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Lost Invitation

Surely by now you've read or seen those people who crashed the White House state dinner last week. They just waltzed right up to the door of the White House and sat down to dinner with the Prime Minister of India.

As tax paying citizens of the United States, you and I should absolutely be invited to the White House for dinner. We would be just as interesting as any of the major campaign contribution folks who got invited. We would have found something appropriate to wear. We wouldn't have shown up in last year's Old Navy sweats demanding a doggie bag for our green curry prawns. (I looked it up.)

And I think the Prime Minister would have enjoyed a conversation with an actual American, don't you? We could have shared stories of the crazy exploits of our children. He must have grandchildren. We could have swapped photos. I would have regaled him with fascinating stories of ice fishing on a Minnesota January weekend and the Target checkout line on Black Friday morning.

But I wasn't invited and (I am just guessing) neither were you. So we stayed home in our Old Navy sweats and ate leftover pizza and watched CSI reruns, didn't we? Not so much this couple. They didn't let a little thing like not having an invitation stop them. They got dressed up and went.

Which, I think proves my earlier point that we have manners and they don't. We don't go to parties to which we are not invited.

So why did we eat the pizza and they got the prawns?

Now they want $500,000 to tell their story of how they trespassed. Sure. I want $500,000 to tell the story of how I had to sit between my parents at the last two funerals I attended. I bet my story is way funnier and way less embarrassing to the Secret Service.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Triumph

It was a good day yesterday. While I make another trip down to the washing machine with the tablecloths, enjoy this photo of Brent and our turkey. They had a very special bond.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

T'giving Eve

Well, it's Thanksgiving Eve. The turkey is mostly thawed. I have pulled all the nasty bits out of the cavity and cut the pieces off I really think they should have cut off at the turkey processing plant. The brine is boiled and ready to go. (I have to say it's stinkier this year than I remember. Hope that's not a bad sign.) Brent has baked his pie for our Harvest Festival of Praise at church tonight. Colin has practiced his song for the event.

He and Brent are singing a tough one this year. They got inspired at s'daughter Shelby's performance of Godspell and are singing "All Good Gifts" which turned out to be more challenging than they thought at first. They will do just fine. They will, no doubt, make me cry.

I'm not sure I have put the proper amount of energy into this year's dinner plans. We cleaned last weekend, but I don't feel very organized. I guess, there's not much left to do now that I have wrangled the still frozen neck out of the turkey butt. (Oh, that doesn't sound very tasty, does it?)

I have so much to be thankful for, I am afraid if I start listing all the things you will feel a little ill and turn away. I made a list last week. That was a nice start.

I am thankful for you beloved reader . . . friends and loved ones . . . I know you're out there. I am so glad we have time for these little chats.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

It's that time of year; we really ought enjoy this ditty. Grandma will be driving her Mazda over the hill and through the stoplight to my house, actually, but that's okay. It's still a good song.

Over the River and Through the Wood
Lydia Marie Child

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood-
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood.
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark and the children hark,
as we go jingling by.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, "Ting a ling ding!"
Hurray for Thanskgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood-
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snowball
and stay as long as we can.

Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For 'tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood
and straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow-
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood-
Old Jowler hears our bells;
He shakes his paw with a loud bow-wow,
and thus the news he tells.

Over the river, and through the wood-
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, "O, dear, the children are here,
bring pie for everyone."

Over the river, and through the wood-
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Defense of the Slow Cooker

Friends and Loved Ones, I was in a cyber conversation with our good friend . . . well, we won't say his name aloud in case you are shocked . . . when I suggested that he cook his morning's steel cut oats in his slow cooker. You start them at night; they are ready in the morning. Ta-da!

Do you know what he said?

Are you sitting?

He said he does not have one. What?!

No, I tell you the truth and not only that, but I think our little foodie friend was proud of the fact that he does not own a slow cooker. (It's hard to say if this is true because he only wrote that he did not have one, but sometimes you can just tell.)

Well! I guess there are those who do not, but I am telling you this -- there is no shame in it. I, myself, am now the proud owner of two slow cookers and one is the very handy Hamilton Beach 3-in-One with three differently sized crocks. The other has a thermometer which shuts the whole thing down when it gets to the proper temperature.

Are we prairie pioneer people foraging for nuts and berries outside of the sod hut? No! We are modern men and women on the go with our tomato soup cooking all afternoon whilst we are out conquering the ever shrinking universe.

Yes, we have had some nasty recipes! Yes, we have had overcooked roast! But we have had these meals without aid of the crock pot as well. No, I am telling you it is the greatest thing since sliced bread to put your meal in and forget about it until suppertime. In fact, I have made bread in my slow cooker and it was very good.

So there.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Writer's Block Friday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

Last time it was Writer's Block Friday (WBF) Brent said I was a little wordy. Did I lead you to believe I had nothing to say on WBF. No, no. Just nothing interesting.

1. I think ye ol' blog needs a makeover, but I don't have the energy to tackle this. I do have the energy to tend my little Facebook cartoon farm though. Go figure.

2. It's two weeks past the eye surgery. I think I can wear mascara again if I want to, but I am feeling a little nervous about sticking anything near my eye yet. You will just have to live with my dull gummy looking eyelids for a few more days.

3. I am bidding on several winter outfits for my 1963 Barbie. (Surely I have lamented about not being allowed to play with Barbie and the gift I received of 1963 Barbie! Well, it's a little seed for next week then) It's getting cold and she's barefoot. I discovered that 1963 Barbie clothes fetch quite a price on eBay, so she may have to go with what she's got.

4. November is not my best month mental health wise. I don't know why. Because it's brown outside now? We just sit every day and wait, wait, wait for the snow? Too much holiday excitement on the horizon? Thank goodness I have frozen mango chunks in the freezer. Who is not cheered by tropical fruit?

5. Blah, blah, blah . . .

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Over on her blog, my sister Cyberpace Sarah is staging a protest over Christmas marketing once Halloween has ended. I hope you know by now that I consider Thanksgiving my favorite holiday -- even if I can't finish an apron. Cyberspace is suggesting we start naming our thankful things.

She is the smart one,* so let us jump on her bandwagon of thankfulness -- her harvest wagon of thankfulness, if you will. Here are ten things I am thankful for today.

1. I am not a prairie pioneer girl tucking into my sod hut for winter!

2. My Tassimo single cup coffee maker delivered not one, but two tasty lattes to me this morning!

3. My family is healthy! (I suppose this should have topped coffee . . .)

4. My eye surgery was a success! Thank you 21st century!

5. My husband rocks!

6. I can laugh at myself! See yesterday's post.

7. One week from today, we will be sitting down to some tasty turkey!

8. I did not have to find space in my freezer for a whole lot of venison this week! Now, I know some friends and loved ones are thankful that their freezers are full of venison, but I think it's okay if we are thankful for different things.

9. Caribou coffee now uses real chocolate in their drinks!

10. I found a photo from this summer in which all the children were smiling to use for our Christmas photo! Wait . . . am I mixing Thanksgiving and Christmas?

*I am supposed to be the pretty one. I think we share the title . . . cheesy smiles and all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Photo Shoot 2

Do you remember a few weeks back when I took Toddler D to have his pictures taken? Remember how I scooted D off the stool to show him what to do. Read it here.

Okay, so this week Colin comes home with a large brown envelope in his backpack containing Toddler D's very cute photos and an entire matching packet of my cheesy photo. I'm talking 8x10, wallets, exchange and stickers, for the love of Pete.

Well, okay, that's kind of funny. We can all have a good laugh about that. I cut them out and spread them around. Ha-ha! Look at the funny picture I took. Until . . . another brown envelope arrived in the mail this weekend. Seems the fine folks at the school picture studio saw my adult face in the series of photos taken and figured I must be a staff member. So there I am with my big cheesy smile in the school staff photo collage. I am right between Mrs. Clare and Mrs. Douvier. Only it's not my name under my face . . . it's Toddler D's.

I called the elementary school secretary and said, "Um, hi, Katy. It's Mary Lisa." Right away she burst out laughing. Bad sign. "Yeah . . . um . . . how many of these photos are there?"

70. There are 70. I have one. 69 to go.

Now, Katy was pretty ticked at school photo place because she had seen a proof and I am not the only person who did not belong in the collage. I am, however, the one with the cheesiest smile.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Toddler D and I have been reading Alice in Wonderland. We thought you might appreciate a little Lewis Carroll today. Carroll was huge in the linguistic circles in which I used to run ( I know, but I always tell you the truth and the truth is I used to hang out with geeks who like to talk about talking.) because even though Carroll sometimes made words up, you can tell what they must mean by their context. (No, really. We thought this was fascinating.) Anywho, we'll avoid the whole made up word scene today and just focus on the obvious trouble of running into a crocodile.

Lewis Carroll

HOW doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin!
How neatly spread his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fritz T Cheats Death Again

A hearty shout out to Greg for sending me a new goat today. This goat made it safely to my cartoon farm. You are a friend indeed.

In other news, we went to see s'daughter Shelby knock "Day by Day" out of the park (Biased. So very biased.) at her college's production of Godspell this weekend. Fritz T stayed overnight at the vet.

Now last time Fritz T went to the vet, he ate a McDonald's toy before we left and then threw up in my car when we got there. I brought him into the vet and announced he'd thrown up said toy and the assistant looked at me and said, "Did he get it all?"

I looked at her said, "I have no idea."

Then she cast such a withering look at me that I said, "I will go look."

Friends and loved ones, I went out to my vehicle armed with a load of paper towels and peered at the toy remains and tried to picture if that could be the entire thing. Since I hadn't really seen it before it was eaten, I had no idea and went back in and said so.

Assistant looked at me again and said, "Well, I hope so. We will contact you if anything appears lodged and we have to x-ray." Very well, then. Fritz T was fine and we picked him up without incident.

Today when we picked him up the same assistant came out to show me where Fritz T has what they call a "hot spot." This is an area where he was injured somehow and because of where it was situated under his fur was not healing well. She told me that I would need to keep a careful eye on it because it may need an antibiotic. I did not tell her that I thought the dog was just lucky to be alive after chewing my brand new chair.

So home we came with the dog in my lap to avoid stomach distress and as we got close to home, I thought I would give Fritz T a real treat and roll down the window so he could stick his head out.

And that's when he jumped out of the SUV . . .

With me holding onto the leash . . .

Shouting out a swear word for the whole neighborhood and my two-year-old to hear.

I am happy to report that we were going slowly enough so that he was not strangled or run over.

I am also happy to report I don't think anyone was home in the neighborhood -- especially perhaps, Father Peter, the priest from across the street.

I am especially happy to report we did not have to go back to the vet clinic to tell vet assistant I let the dog leap from a moving SUV. All's well that ends well, I guess.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back to the Land

S'on Jeremy's girlfriend, whom we have known as "Cute as a Button," (CAAB) has been around for over a year now, so it's time to give her a name. Let's go with . . . I don't know . . . "Rachel." This is sort of like how we call the Chief Babysitter "Andy." It may or may not be their actual names. I won't say for sure and that way if they ever need to disavow our family, it will be easier.

So, anyway Jeremy and "Rachel" came for Halloween to take the little brothers out Trick or Treating and while they are here Rachel says to me, "Do you play Farmville on Facebook?"

My answer was no. I have tried to avoid those type of sim games. There's a strangeness in spending time living a computer life when you could be living a real one. But Rachel is a smart girl and an excellent foil for Jeremy, so I decided to take a look. Besides . . . I was trying to wean myself off of a terrible Nancy Drew PC computer game addiction. I played five games in five weeks.

I am simply being honest with you.

So I set up my little farm plot and planted a few cartoon strawberries. The trick of these kind of games on Facebook is that you can send and receive gifts for your farm or restaurant or fish tank or what have you. The next day I received a sheep, a piece of fence and an apple tree from people I knew who also had little cartoon farms. Well, over the next few days I organized my little piece of land, grew a few more crops. Bought myself a little cartoon pond for a cartoon duck someone sent me, and I thought it would just be a fun little thing to look at from time to time.

Then one day my classmate Greg sent me a goat, and as I was going from the place where you receive the gifts to my cartoon farm something went amiss and the goat was lost. I was . . . upset. Where was my goat? That was my goat! Someone gave me that goat and now it was gone! I WANT MY GOAT!!

I knew then that I had crossed the line. My farm occupies too much of my thoughts. What shall I grow next? Where can I get another chicken? How many more gold coins do I need before I can buy a barn?

Why must it be all or nothing with me? Maybe I should go back to Nancy Drew.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Day Off

Toddler D is at Grandma Mary's today. I like to call it Mother's Day Out -- like Mary Poppins. Isn't that a whole chapter in the book? Mary's Day Out? I've been wrong before. At any rate, it is hardly a day out today. So far, I have done five loads of laundry and cleaned the bathroom and my closet. Apparently, as I was semi-blind last week, I was not able to do laundry and Colin nearly had to go to school in his PJs. It would have been like living that horrible nightmare that everyone has.

Now I am sitting here waiting for the dryer to buzz. I only have an hour left before D returns home. What is it about a toddler that makes a whole house stop? It could just be this toddler. Not sure. I was looking at pictures from when Colin was this size and it looks like I vacuumed a lot. Not so much right now. Colin gets upset because its too loud, the dog barks and Daniel wants to "help." It seems easier just to avoid the whole thing. Maybe if the carpet gets evenly covered in ground-in dirt, it will look like it is supposed to be that way.

Did I mention that I also managed a quick trip to Stuff Mart in next-largest-town? Driving in the dark isn't so great with the new eyes yet and it was quite overcast. By the time I had spent 30 minutes in the lighting at Stuff Mart, I had to send up many prayers for a safe return home.

I made it -- in case you were wondering.

BUZZZZZZ! Gotta run!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Harm's Way

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" ~ Isaiah 6:8

Toddler D was napping and all this eye healing has worn me out, so I sat down to watch TV yesterday afternoon just in time for the memorial service for the soldiers killed at Fort Hood.
I sat there and tried to think if I had seen anything sadder.

I'm a peacenik. We've talked about this. I just am. I like it when we can all get along. Happy, happy. Joy, joy.

Sometimes this isn't possible. Sometimes we have to take a stand and protect ourselves and our neighbors. Are we in that time now? To be honest -- I still haven't made up my mind. Seems like a lot of soldiers are getting mighty tired out fighting an enemy who believes the more people die (including themselves), the better off they are. How does something like that end?

But while I sit here and have a little debate with myself about truth and life and death and oil and religion and politics, men and women -- boys and girls younger than my darling s'on and s'daughter -- are volunteering to assist their government. Are volunteering to protect their country. Are volunteering to protect me. Are volunteering to stand in harm's way.

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

I've never made a promise like that.

There they were on United States soil in the safety and protection of their military base when one of their own -- someone who took that very same oath -- gunned them down because they were in uniform.

War hawk or peacenik or somewhere in between, if that doesn't make you sick to your stomach . . . shame on you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Beloved faithful reader Bobbie found me last night with concern in her voice for why I had not written to you yesterday. I am fine. The boys are fine. I was just tired and had a lot on my mind yesterday, and to be honest, I just forgot. My eyes are healing nicely, but they aren't working perfectly perfect just yet and I find I am a little more off center than usual.

Anyway . . . today's poem is another Grandma Malmberg favorite. She actually made me a calico cat and gingham dog. I had forgotten about this poem until I was in a situation last week that made me feel a bit like the Chinese plate. If you don't know this one, I hope you enjoy it and I dedicate it to Bobbie for worrying about me.

The Duel
Eugene Field

THE GINGHAM dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Never mind: I 'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate—
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day

That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

I've Got Another Puzzle for You

Do you know the scene towards the end of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp, although that will work too) where Mike Teavee decides he wants to be the first person to try out Mr. Wonka's Wonkavision and gets himself shrunk and sent to the taffy pulling room? Well, I don't know if it was the Valium they gave me before hand, but I will be darned if that isn't what Dr. Carlson's laser surgical suite looks like. It did not help that I was wearing cream colored sweats.

The first part of the procedure required good Dr. C to place a suction cup in my eye to hold it open whilst the little laser beam cut a flap in my eye. (This involves bubbles somehow, but I wasn't really paying attention.) This is made all the more difficult because there is a brief period of blacking out when he sticks the suction cup to a gal's eye. It's always interesting when you learn something new about yourself. Apparently, I have small, closely set eyes. The suction cup did not want to stay in my eye. My powerful lids just kept squeezing it out of the tiny space. "You're doing just fine. We'll get it," soothed Dr. Carlson while patting me on the cheek with his delightfully cool hands. I laid there and tried to think about how lovely it was going to be not to have glasses and to keep my eye wide open and not squeeze the suction cup out even when the room went completely scary and dark.

We got the flap made in my eye and then came the even stranger part of watching him rearrange my lens and laser my eye. I started to smell a smell. A burning smell. "Dr. Carlson? Is that horrible burning smell my eye?" I asked. "That," replied Dr. C. "is the smell of your nearsightedness being blasted away."

Very good then.

So it was all over and I was guided to Brent by a small orange oompa loompa. "When the anesthesia wears off, it's going to burn a little."

Dear heavens above. Do you remember the other day when I was worried about what I was going to do in the dark all afternoon? I laid in the dark with my eyes closed and tried not to concentrate on my eyes being on fire is what I did. No need for books on CD. I would not have been able to listen anyway. After a few hours it stopped burning and I put on sunglasses and watched TV.

Today, due to the small closely set eye thing, my eyes are so bloodshot, I look as though I have left Jesus and gone to the other side. It feels just fine, but it looks terrible. "Yeah, you look a little tougher than average," said the understated Dr. Carlson at this morning's check up.

Now here's the thing: Done. It's done. I see. No glasses. No contacts. I see. (I'll be honest it's a little blurry, but I understand this is going to get better.) Can you believe we live in a time when such a thing is possible? I am not a prairie pioneer girl stuck in a sod hut slowly going crazy with out-of-prescription spectacles. I am a modern mom on the go with NO corrective eye wear at all.

Amazing. A-mazing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'll Be Seeing You

Tomorrow I am having lasik surgery. I am both excited and terrified. Don't tell me you wouldn't be if someone were to shoot a laser beam in your eye.

I have worn glasses since 7th grade and contacts since 10th. Beloved s'daughter Shelby has had glasses since they could tape them on her little baby face. My father has had them since the cavemen learned to grind up Coke bottles. The person who was preforming my pre-op exam today asked me, "Why do you want to have lasik surgery?" I just looked at her. "Well . . . I am ready to be done with glasses."

I wonder what the right answer was.

After trying to come up with the correct answer for why I wanted to have the procedure done. I had to answer three times that -- yes -- I fully understood that some time in the next 5 to 10 years I would need to have reading glasses any way. Tomorrow I will have to write it out on a piece of paper, "Yes, I understand that I may still require glasses at some point . . ."

So, anyway, if you don't hear from me tomorrow, it's because after the operation I am supposed to lay in a dark room for the rest of the day with "eyes closed if possible." That cracks me up. I'm all freaked out. What if I can't close my eyes afterwards? (No, I know what they mean.)

I thought I might listen to a book on CD during my darkened rest tomorrow, but as I was going into the library, two retired gentlemen I know were coming out with their arms loaded up with all the good books on CD. They are driving to their winter home in Miami and apparently need something to listen to on the trip.

For pete's sake, why can't they spend their time arguing or something like every other cross country driving team. Or why couldn't one person read out of an actual book while the other one drives. Some of us are trying to rest in the dark with our eyes closed . . . if possible.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Precious friend and fellow blogger Patty lost a grandchild in his sleep over the weekend. There just aren't any good words, are there? We are limited by our language to say how really sorry we are. How senseless it seems. How our hearts ache for Patty and her daughter Carrie.

Today's "poem" is for Patty. Several weeks ago Sarah and I heard Steven Curtis Chapman sing. The Chapman family lost their young daughter in an accident a year and a half ago. Steven sang several songs off his new CD Beauty Will Rise, but he opened with this one which is an older song of his. It's always been a favorite of mine.

Patty, I love you. I don't understand why this happened and I won't pretend that I do, but I am so very sorry, and I'm praying for your comfort and peace.

God is God
Steven Curtis Chapman

And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don’t know

And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God

And the sky begins to thunder
And I’m filled with awe and wonder
‘Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I

Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass

Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through
Him and from Him are all things

So let us worship before the throne
Of the One who is worthy of worship alone

Monday, November 2, 2009


. . . $150 later. (But only allowed near chair for purpose of this photograph.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Association

I've posted this on my Facebook page, so if you've seen it there, you'll have to forgive me, but -- even though it's not my favorite song from The Association -- I just can't get enough of this video. The suits . . . the jazz penny whistle . . . the filmed montage with dancing scarves bikini stormy eyes girl . . . it's just a super package from 1967. It's the perfect antidote for a cold rainy day in West Central Minnesota or where ever you are. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Too much love

I suspect that s'daughter Shelby is the tiniest bit relieved to be back in the peace, quiet and roomy abundance of her dorm life. Here is a photo of what she looked like all weekend:

Everybody loves hanging out with Shelby. I am no exception. I like to think that I give her a little more breathing room than these two. I am a first born with one significantly younger sibling. I need more breathing room, myself. These second and subsequent children -- I'm not sure they care. They seem to enjoy being one on top of the other.

When you are the first born with a significantly younger sister, you're not very good at being near anyone for very long. It gets a little claustrophobic. Air, air . . . I need more air.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

We had a poem by Mary Howitt not too long ago. Because I am approaching middle age AND have a two year old, I don't remember what it was. Anyway, this was oft quoted by Grandma Malmberg, and I think it makes a nice little salute to Halloween.

Walk Into My Parlor
Mary Howitt

"Will you walk into my parlor?"
said the spider to the fly;
"Tis the prettiest little parlor that you ever did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you are there."
"Oh no, no!" said the little fly,
"to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair
can never come down again."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sibling synergy

S'daughter Shelby is earning the stars in her crown this weekend. She is on mid-semester break and has had a little 2-year-old shadow since the moment she walked in the door on Friday. Toddler D has forced her to play nearly every game in the house including the ones he can't really play. The worst has been SpongeBob Monopoly which requires massive assembly only to have her small partner declare, "I done!" the minute she gets the whole thing put together.

S'on Jeremy has offered to come and take the little brothers Trick or Treating next weekend. I think this is a brilliant idea. Although I love to dress my children up in costume (Colin is always a ghost), repeatedly getting D in and out of the car in a Tigger suit is not my idea of a fun night. I nearly did a dance of joy.

If you're going to be having small children in your approaching middle life it is handy to have two other responsible energetic legal adults around. There are disadvantages to having children spread 21 years apart, but there are advantages. Oh, yes. There are advantages.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Writer's Block Friday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

1. Hugs and kisses out to Roxane for reminding me that every mother struggles with letting go. She has written a beautiful entry today on infant loss.

2. Still no sign of H1N1 in our house. I can't remember if I told you that, ever the eternal optimist, I have purchase movies (for myself) to watch when I go down. I don't want to say I am disappointed I've been wrong so far about being sick, but nobody likes to be mistaken, right? (I've confused myself with that sentence.)

3. Groovy time with Cyberspace Sarah last weekend at Women of Faith. We had not been in several years and it was really fun. There is something about being in an area with 13,000 women that is just a hoot. When it was time for the group leaders to stand up to be applauded, I stood up, even though it was just the two of us. That wasn't entirely fair. Cyberspace booked the perfectly located hotel. Still, it's good for my fragile first-born ego to be applauded.

Now if we can only figure out who we need to know to be able to sit in one of the corporate boxes . . .

4. Toddler D is just not himself today. He sat through an entire episode of Winnie the Pooh and Friends, which is NOT like him. Maybe he's getting sick. That would not make me happy, even if I was right that we are doomed.

5. We are looking forward to a visit from s'daughter Shelby this weekend. The kid is so busy, this is a rare treat . . . hmmmm, we'll probably all come down with something.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boring Treatise on Child: Read at risk of snooze

Colin does many things well, but one thing he really, really struggles with is reading comprehension. This is . . . I don't even have a word . . . let's just say beyond difficult for me to understand. I started reading at age three or so and never looked back. Zoom. In kindergarten they had to keep telling me to slow down. I thought what they were trying to make me do was ridiculous. "Go the door. Look at the moon." Puleeeze. I'm bored. I've been told that my parents were given the option of moving me ahead, but at that time I would have had to go to an older classroom, and since I had issues with social confidence, they weren't sure that was something I would like. In the end, they were probably right.

Colin started sounding out words very young and I was sure that I had an apple off the ol' tree. Colin can sound anything out, but he doesn't understand what he is reading. They are just words parading by on the page. He can read it over and over and over and still not understand what he's read. Although he's very high functioning, one of the traits of autism we see very plainly is a lack of imagination. He's never liked costumes. He didn't want to pretend. And think about this: It's difficult for him to predict what's going to happen. He just can't imagine. He likes what's concrete -- what's known.

Our school district uses the Accelerated Reading program. You read a book; you take a computer test; you get points. Games, prizes and treats are awarded based on the amount of points you have. What happens, though, if you read and read and read the book, but you just have no idea what happened in the book? No passing of the computer test. No points. No games, prizes or awards.

Oh! So frustrating for Mother. This would have been a cinch for me. I would have walked off with every stuffed animal, pizza and t-shirt in the place! Yet here I am -- helpless -- to give my child understanding. We can work on this. We can practice, but . . . I can't make him have understanding. I can't give him an imagination. Oh, I would if I could!

I am reminded in this powerful way, he is not mine to possess. He is his own person, created to do something that may be very different from what I imagined for him. And believe me when I say (and I'm talking to myself here), I have no doubt it will be better.

But I can't wait for Accelerated Reading days to be over.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

I heard a mature sister in Christ, a woman who often imparts wisdom, speak of the freedom and glory of being an empty nester. She said, "The children are gone. The dog is dead." Friends and loved ones, these standing in the trenches years with small children and pets are where we as parents earn the stars in our crowns.

This morning at ECFE the dear little new mommy sisters shared so freely of getting to the end of the day with nothing left to give. They are met at the door by husbands who wonder if they are glad to be home or not. These little mothers are at the exhausted end of their ropes.

But (with the exceptiong of Big Daddy who has been a "new father" for 23 years now) these days, emotionally draining, furniture wrecking, band-aid placing, Kool-Aid staining though they be, are just a season. We will have new furniture. We will wear clothes without stains. We will get in the car with just one bag. We will sleep through the night.

So here today is an ode to my children and my dog. My horrible, chewing dog.

Dog (an optional, non-speaking part)

My Dog Has Got No Manners

My dog has got no manners.
I think he’s very rude.
He always whines at dinnertime
while we are eating food.
And when he’s feeling thirsty
and wants to take a drink,
he takes it from the toilet
instead of from the sink.

He never wears a pair of pants.
He doesn’t wear a shirt.
But worse, he will not shower
to wash away the dirt.

He’s not polite to strangers.
He bites them on the rear.
And when I’m on the telephone,
he barks so I can’t hear.

When I complained to Mommy,
she said,

“I thought you knew:
the reason that his manners stink—
he learns by watching you.”

The End!

© 2004 by Bruce Lansky. Adapted from the poem in Rolling in the Aisles, published by Meadowbrook Press. This classroom theater play version of “My Dog Has Got No Manners ” is © 2005 by Meadowbrook Press.

Monday, October 19, 2009


My brand new chair.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Out to Lunch

Friends and loved ones, I have gone to the Big City -- well, actually I have gone to the Big Sister City for what Cyberspace Sarah calls a "chick conference."

I am excited to see Cyberspace. I hear she may have sold her house. We're going to have a great SisterChick time! I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Photo Shoot

This morning Toddler D and I got up, got showered, got dressed and ran out the door so that D could have his picture taken. Poor D, being the baby, has had no formal photos taken . . . at all. When I saw that they were taking preschool photos during picture retake time at our local elementary today I thought, "Yes! Easy peasy! I know what package to get. We'll just fly in there take the picture, fly out. Someone will call when they come in -- no mess, no fuss, no sitting fee, no pressure to buy more than we need! I am a brilliant mother!"

Only D had a 3 hour nap from 2 to nearly 5 yesterday afternoon which meant he didn't go to bed until 11:30 . . . and yet he got up at 6:15 a.m.

D didn't want to cooperate with anyone on anything. He didn't want to take a shower with his dad and get his hair washed. He didn't want to put on his puppy dog sweater. He didn't want to wear a coat. He didn't want to get in the car.

I was concerned. No, I was resigned. Resigned to a meltdown in front of the photographer.

We made it to the school and found where they were taking pictures. He smiled beautifully and chatted up the photo assistant and I thought, "Yes! This is going to work as wonderfully as I planned after all! Brilliant!"

It was our turn at the little stool and we marched over there. He sat up straight, like Mother's little soldier, look straight at the camera . . . and scowled. Scowled, scowled, scowled. The photographer and I sang and danced and made funny noises. I moved D off the stool, smiled a big cheesy smile and had her take my picture, so he could see what what he was supposed to do. (She found this hilarious, by the way. Me, not so much.) Finally the photographer put a duck on her head, D smirked and the shot was taken.

Then he made a beeline for the playground, and I had to drag him out of the building literally kicking and screaming.

We came home. I had TWO coffees and we haven't done much else. It may be a while before D has more formal shots taken. Like kindergarten.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Perhaps from yesterday's post you have noted I am in a bit of a mood. Winter is beautiful but hard. There's some adjusting that needs to be done when it comes early.

Let's have a little Shakespeare today and think about mercy. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a little bit. Things don't always go the way we planned. Winter comes around again and it feels like it was just barely spring. Sometimes it feels like we're not gaining any ground, doesn't it?

But we do. We are.

My husband and my mother, both true optimists in their pessimistic heart of hearts, bet me that it will be nice again before winter really begins, so I say, let's give ourselves a break today whether it's -- well, weather -- or parenting or career or relationships or illness that's making us feel like it's over before it began.

We're going to have Indian Summer yet.

The Merchant Of Venice
William Shakespeare
Act 4, scene 1, 180–187

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:(190)
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;(195)
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,(200)
Though justice be thy plea, consider this—
That in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer, doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much,(205)
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

Monday, October 12, 2009


There wasn't enough tasty Tassimo latte in the world to compensate for the falling snow when I got up this morning. (The sun came out and melted most of it or I would have shown you.) It was falling in giant fluffy flakes. Very beautiful. Very Currier and Ives.

But it was snowing, and there's no guarantee it will get above 40 degrees again before May. None.

I have met people in my time who actually thought the snow never melted in Minnesota. Seems odd our slogan would be "Land of 10,000 Lakes" if that were the case. Wouldn't we brag about being "America's Winter Playground" or something? (Is that Vermont?) At any rate, sometimes the snow does melt. Sometimes the grass is green. Sometimes the lakes are actually warm enough to swim.

Truth be told: That is not the case the majority of time here.

But we press bravely on and we sniff condescendingly at the people who ask us if we've ever worn shorts. We get our feeling bruised so easily up here. The Cohen brothers make a movie like Fargo and we roll our eyes. "We don't talk like that!"

Yes, some of us do. The problem is most people trying to copy our accent do it very badly.

Or we watch a movie like New in Town (which was actually filmed in Canada). "We don't dress like that. They weren't very respectful of Minnesota."

Well, no, but they weren't very complimentary to the chippy from Miami either as far as I was concerned. I thought it was funny. In many ways, I thought it was a tribute to our kindness, our perseverance. And I know several women with the kind of seasonal "theme" sweaters as shown in that movie.

But for some reason, we let Garrison Keillor get away with being down right mean at times to us. (I am a huge fan. Do not misunderstand.) Why is this? He doesn't actual live in Lake Woebegone, you know. I hate to spoil it for you, but there is no Lake Woebegone. He made the whole thing up, but he is dead on when he describes it. I live there. I know those people. And sometimes the descriptions aren't very flattering.

Mr. Keillor actually lives in St. Paul. I think he has an apartment in New York City, too.

He's totally cheating.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Death of Dahlia

For those of you who have been following the near demise and triumphant return of Dahlia and the Slugs, I am sorry to announce today that she did not survive the frost last night. I thought of taking a picture, but I think it's better if we don't. Let's just remember Dahlia the way she was yesterday -- green and ready to bloom. Rest in peace, dear Dahlia.

I think we looked at this poem this spring when it looked like winter would never give up, but let's see it once more for Dahlia's sake and for the sake of the leaves now falling in buckets off the trees.

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

More accurately, I have returned . . . in a Tahoe, not a jet plane . . .

Everything went fine, thank you for asking. We sang our little hearts out. I purchased my own egg shaker and whoo-ha! There was a whole lotta shaken goin' on.

Oh! The three of us are such geeks. (No offense to Steve, of course.)

If you don't mind, I think we should have a poem today. I don't wish to talk about artificial nails, acetone polish remover and my new table.

Nope. I do not.

How Can I Keep from Singing
My life flows on in endless song:
Above earth's lamentation,
I catch the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul--
How can I keep from singing?
What tho' my joys and comfort die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his--
How can I keep from singing?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Peter, Paul and ML

If you miss me next week, it's because Brent and I have gone up to the North Shore to lead some singing. It won't be quite "Kumbaya," but darn close. We're singing with our current favorite trio partner Pastor Steve (Cyberspace Sarah is another good one), and we're like a sort of sad 2009 Peter, Paul and Mary when we get together . . . only Steve is on keyboard . . . and my hair's too short to swing around in that cool way Mary had . . . and Brent is too good looking to be either Peter or Paul . . . and we're singing contemporary Christian music instead of "If I Had a Hammer" . . . and, well, you get the idea.

I'm looking forward to it because it will be a couple of days alone with Brent . . . only we're singing for a retreat for pastors, so we won't ever really be alone . . . and we have to bring up a bunch of sound equipment and the keyboard, so we'll be busy setting that up and not taking walks in the beautiful changing leaves . . . and, well, you get the idea. I'm looking forward to it all the same.

I was really sad when Mary Travers died last week. My parents had all their long playing record albums, I think. Mom and Dad enjoyed a really wide variety of music -- still do. They particularly are fond of quality harmony, no matter what the musical genre is and I think that's why I love singing harmony so much. I had some good musical examples -- like Mary Travers.

I don't have good bangs though.

Anyway, have a good beginning of the week, and I'll see you later.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Table and The Mitten

The new kitchen table came today which was very exciting -- especially exciting since the delivery guys were supposed to come at 9:45 but arrived at 9 while we were still standing around in our jammies drinking coffee.

They also delivered a new chair for our den. ("Den" sounds fancier than fingerprint covered old chocolate milk smelling pit of chaos TV room.) This afternoon as I was running around trying to tidy up, I pulled the tags off the new chair by pulling instead of finding a scissors to clip. As I did this a huge tuft of chair stuffing came out. I panicked not wanting Brent to come home and discover I had pulled and not clipped our new chair. I ran downstairs to the land of forgotten craft projects in search of a knitting needle to poke the stuffing back.

The first knitting needle I grabbed had this attached:

Do you think it's a mitten?! Do you think I was attempting an advanced project like a mitten? I think it's a mitten! What was I thinking? There are two mittens in mitten craft project. Do I not know me? Have I not been down the road of forgotten craft projects a thousand times with me?
Looks like I quit as I was getting to the thumb.
A mitten. Ha.
It's pretty. It's too bad.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday on Wednesday

Our poem is late this week. The temperature has turned and fall has really come to Minnesota. We bravely wore our shorts on Saturday one last time and the next day had to take our coats out. I'm speaking of our "light" coats, of course. They come in stages: light jackets, light jackets with sweaters, heavy coats, heavy coats with sweaters.

Anyway, I'm not adjusting well. You know how I get. At least I know I'm crazy, right? Today I was rehearsing some music and sang this beloved Swedish hymn. I just burst into tears right in the intro and didn't stop through the reprise and tag.

I'm sure if I bake a few muffins and buy a new cardigan I'll come around, but until then enjoy this hymn which is as good today as it was in the 1800s.

Day by day and with each passing moment
Lina Sandell
Translated Andrew Skoog

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Today's Temperature High

Hurry, Dahlia!! The time to bloom again is now! Now, I tell you!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Writer's Block Friday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

1. I didn't want to bore you with another whole blog entry on this week's accident, but I am truly irritated at the local news coverage. For whatever reason, their coverage is slanted towards the accident as being the kid's fault when the two witnesses I know say that her car was in his lane. We may never know what happened -- maybe she had a stroke, maybe she lost control, maybe there was an animal. It just makes me angry that clearly this news team didn't talk to anyone who was actually at the accident and are making up their own answers for a more sensational news story. In one of their pieces the woman's family was interviewed and asked if they have any animosity towards the boy. What an awful question to ask when no one knows the truth for sure.

2. The older boys are on their way home today from the two night overnight fifth grade field trip. I thought I would be racked with worry, but I have felt very positively about it. Brent reported via email that everything was going "pretty good," and called this morning to say that Colin had earned enough stars to try the orienteering challenge on his own.

I haven't had another call, so I am assuming he made it out of the woods. I should know in about another hour.

Toddler D has been known to get up at night and wonder around. Since I am a heavy sleeper, I was concerned that I would not hear him, so for the past two nights, I let him sleep with me. He took up two thirds of the bed in constant thrashing and movement. I suspect we will all sleep a lot more soundly in our own beds tonight.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Whirring update

Yesterday when I finished my blog, I thought about how nice it would be to write and tell you that I didn't know the people involved. I thought I would be able to tell you it was a strange relief. I would have been sad for the people involved but -- happy isn't the right word -- naturally relieved that it wasn't someone from town.

But it was.

It was 16-year-old on his way to school who was hit head on by a lady from out of town. My sister-in-law Pam was one of the first people on the accident. She had a chance to talk with the woman. Pam wishes she could have talked to her more. It was quickly crowded and crazy and as soon as the emergency people came to the scene, Pam got out of the way.

The boy is the son of people I don't know well, but could certainly say hello to and use their first names. He is still in critical condition. The helicopter was for him. The was another helicopter on its way for the woman . . . but she didn't make it.

How strange to get up in the morning and get ready for your day -- a day like any other of the rest of the 90 percent of your life -- and have it end so differently. I'm talking about everyone that morning: the boy, the woman, their families, Pam, our emergency drivers who certainly don't go to fatal accidents every day. I wish I knew something smart to say about it.

I don't.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whirring in the silence

It's quiet out here in rural Minnesota. I don't mean devoid of action -- although it's probably that too -- but I mean literally quiet. Sometimes a dog barks or a kid shouts. Car alarms occasionally go off at the dealership down the block. Generally it's just quiet.

So when a helicopter flies over my house, I notice.

It's never a good thing when a helicopter flies to town because, urban beloved, it's not the swat team or the traffic observers. It's the air ambulance. My city dwelling friends and loved ones, do you know what I mean by this? We have a very good hospital, but they are not equipped for severe life threatening injuries. The air ambulance usually means an accident. The air ambulance makes my neighbors and me fall to our knees and reach for our phones because it's a small town and someone we know or love is in trouble.

Do you remember last week when we talked about the school out in the middle of no where. I joked that you don't want to be out there after school when the kids are trying to zip back into town in their clunker high school cars. What I didn't tell you was that, although there are the regular fender benders, there have also been several fatal accidents out there. I can think of three off the top of my head. I might be blocking another. Wouldn't you?

This morning on their way to meet the bus for the two night overnight field trip (I'll come back and fret about this later), Brent and Colin had to be rerouted around the accident out by the school and shortly after the helicopter came over my house.

The neighbors kids left for school after Brent called. They are okay. Brent and Colin are okay. I am searching Facebook for signs from Chief Babysitter (CBS) Andy. I am sure extracurricular activities called him to school long before 8 o'clock.

The helicopter took off about 40 minutes after it arrived, but I am still praying -- for whomever got transported, for their family, for the medical personnel, for the others involved in the accident.

And I am waiting -- waiting to find out about my neighbor, my friend whose life changed this morning while I sat in my house in the quiet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Toddler D and I have survived our first morning at ECFE. I am the oldest mom in the room, but I will try not to obsess. No one needs to hear someone constantly going on about how they were in high school when you were born. (cough)

It's a gloomy wet day here in West Lake Woebegone, so let's have a fall poem by John Keats who died very young of tuberculosis.

Ode to Autumn
by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Craft Emergency Preparedness

I bought two packages of construction paper in the back to school supply clearance at Target the other day. I managed to make it to the area in my home where I store the craft supplies only to discover I had many many packages of construction paper down there already. Apparently I am storing up for the winter like a little squirrel, only instead of nuts I am getting ready to craft.

If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, I know you are now chuckling merrily to yourself. Crafting isn't really my strong suit. Well, now, that's not true. Finishing crafts isn't really my strong suit. Remember last Thanksgiving's apron? How about this Spring's counted cross stitch eyeglass case? Right. Not so good at the finishing. So what -- exactly -- do I think I am going to make with all of that construction paper. Homemade Valentines for all the U.S. troops in Afghanistan? Rainbow colored snowflakes for holiday decorating? I can't even think of anything else. Perhaps I need to find myself a book on construction paper crafts.
No, not really.

Maybe I should get into scrapbooking. Ohhhh! I'm sorry! I was almost able to say that with a straight face. Do you realize what a mess I would make of scrapbooking?!

Maybe next year or so, I'll give Toddler D a safety scissors and just let him go to town.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Writer's Block Friday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

1. I've been nursing a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper so long this morning, I finally had to go get some ice. What's wrong with me? Usually it takes me no time at all to knock back a Dr. Pepper.
** Bonus points if you can identify one of my favorite movies here.

2. Got my flu shot yesterday . . . among other annual procedures a 40 year old woman must have, not to be discussed in mixed company. It made my arm hurt all day.

3. Daniel got his flu shot today. He took it like a man -- shiny band-aid and Thomas the Train sticker and all. How come I didn't get a shiny band-aid? My industrial looking bandage left a sensitive skin rash on my arm. Why was this shot so much more difficult for me than my two year old? Perhaps you shouldn't answer. I have the feeling words like diva or whiner or wimp might be used, so let's not go there.

4. S'on Jeremy was by last night to pick up his new-to-him car. He looked ever the responsible music teacher driving away.

5. I'm sure you're wondering how my counted cross stitch eyeglass case is coming.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Slug Update

I was zooming past the front flowerbed this morning because I was late -- which is not new or surprising -- when this caught my eye.

Yes, it is poor slug eaten Dahlia making a valiant last minute comeback. And, yes, that is a fall leaf right next to it. I don't think you can see it from the photo, but Dahlia is even going to try and bloom.

Way to rally back, Dahlia! Good for you!