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.)