Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Today's poem is stolen unashamedly from a blog called The Fat Pastor.  I mean, how great is that? He sounds like a guy who's poem should be featured on a blog called  At Least We Know We're Crazy. Right?

His poem is in honor of Advent.

Established, Unfinished
Robb McCoy

Established, unfinished; at hand, yet to be.
For the Kingdom of God, we are waiting to see.

Where’s the Prince of Peace in the midst of such war?
Made in the image of God, yet corrupt to core.
It is Peace that we seek, for peace do we yearn.
While cities and buildings and children still burn.

Dividing walls built in hearts and with brick,
By people who hold onto Bibles so thick.
Telling us who we can and cannot love,
Like Pharisees all, they strangle the dove.

Through the darkness does break a beacon of hope.
In midst of rough waters a life-saving rope.
Lo a child is born in a manger so rough,
Letting us know that, YES, love is enough.

Love your neighbor, Love God, there is nothing more.
And at once the seams of the curtain, they tore.
In the midst of fighting and chaos and doom,
We know our Creator is saving a room.

The Kingdom of God is still unfulfilled,
We continue to struggle for what God has willed.
Love mercy, do justice, walk humbly with God.
Eat dinner with sinners, the poor and the odd.

Though sometimes the Kingdom comes painfully slow,
Together we struggle, together we go,
to the Kingdom of God, our victory won
Established, unfinished, our struggle not done.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grandpa Ron & The Bathroom Debacle

I live in an older home.  It's solidly built with little bonuses like glass doorknobs.  I love those doorknobs.  I have been reluctant to replace them even after they stop working.  The downstairs bathroom knob has been especially troublesome.  You can't turn it too far to the right or you have to "unwind" it.  It's one of those little tricks you learn from living in your home for a while.

Well, my Thanksgiving party was going pretty well.  Lots of food.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of noise. So much laughter and noise, in fact, that we did not notice the sound of Grandpa Ron trapped in the downstairs bathroom.  Eventually niece Ella went and found Cyberspace Sarah and said, "That man is pounding on the bathroom door.  He can't get out."

And that is how we discovered that the lock had finally broken with Grandpa on the inside.

At first, Brent just tried pounding him out.  Nothing. Then he took the doorknob off.  Nothing.

Fortunately, another one of the great little quirks of my older home is that the laundry chute goes from my bedroom past the bathroom downstairs where there is another opening.

Brent and his helper were able to lower some tools down to Grandpa Ron. (Yes, that is the color of my bedroom carpet. Another joyful quirk of my home.  Yes, with all the holiday friends and loved ones, there were people sleeping on the floor in every room.)

Grandpa took off the hinges and with some more artful pushing . . .

Grandpa was freed . . .

He was our own Chilean miner miracle.

There's never a dull moment at my house.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

I'm thawing turkey and cleaning the bathrooms if you don't hear from me any more this week.

Here's an ode to the day.  Shout it out! Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

Giving Thanks
Author Unknown

For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the trade and the skill and the wealth in our land,
For the cunning and strength of the workingman's hand,
For the good that our artists and poets have taught,
For the friendship that hope and affection have brought --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the homes that with purest affection are blest,
For the season of plenty and well-deserved rest,
For our country extending from sea unto sea;
The land that is known as the "Land of the Free" --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Think, men! Think!

You have to watch about four minutes into this video, but this was totally me last night at the sixth grade band concert.  "Play to me, son! Play to me!!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday on Wednesday: The PD Saga, Part 3

Back at the beginning of this week's story about Preschooler D, there was a moment when Brent and I were staring at my computer as the full realization of what PD has done came over us.  I walked through the process of what he had done to see how easy it was and had that screen up that showed the default choice of $140 on it.

PD came by and glanced up.  "Oh!  I bought some money, Mommy."

I sighed.  "Yes.  I see that."

He was so proud.

He'd been so smart.

I couldn't be angry at him because he had no concept of exactly what it was he had done.  I was the one who needed to learn several valuable lessons from this situation, and I hope to heaven I have.

Today's poem is about a boy and his ice cream.  You must go here to enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PD Shops On Line: Part 2

My first call was to Zynga. My preschooler made this purchase, I explained. The young, childless man on the other end of the phone laughed and said, "Cool." I then yelled at the young, childless man from Zynga.  It was not Christ-like.  It was not patient.  It was tired and angry.

He put me on hold for a long time.

When he came back, I apologized to the young, childless man from Zynga.  He was sort of taken aback by that.  He said that PD had not spent the credits and that they should be refundable, but I would have to contact Facebook.

You can't call anyone from Facebook as near as I can tell, but Junior from Zynga showed me how to file a dispute on-line which I did immediately, explaining that my 3-year-old who cannot read made this purchase.

24 hours later I received an email from Facebook.  Since it was someone in my home, the email said, they were not responsible.  Non-refundable.  All sales final.  Please read their terms.

Well, I did read their terms and there was not one thing in it about 3-year-olds who cannot read.  I sent a firmly worded email back for which I have not received a response.

It was Saturday morning when I called Ricardo from my credit card company.

To get the full feel of how hilarious this conversation was, you must know that I speak with a rather thick Minnesota/Canadian/Scandinavian accent.  Lot of long vowels.  An occasional rolled "r."  If I were to invite you along on an afternoon boat ride, it would sound something like this:  We'rrrre goooing to taake the bowt owt this afternoooon.  Do you want to goh with? Richardo's first language was clearly Spanish and there were a lot of long pauses while we replayed what the other person had just said trying to figure it out. We laughed and had a great time because the first thing he said was not "cool," but "You must not worry about this one minute longer.  I will take care of this for you."

"I love you, Ricardo."  Okay, I didn't say that out loud, but I certainly thought it.

Ricardo says he gets 2-3 of these calls per day.  The night before he'd dealt with an upset mom whose 13-year-old had spent $3000 on Facebook.

Now, look.  Not for one minute do I claim I am not repsonsible for my small child's actions.  If that had been an elementary child who could read and have some understanding of what he had read and purchased, I'd be getting a lot of free kitchen and laundry help right now while he paid down his debt to me.  If I'd been out of the room for 30 minutes not checking on PD, I'd be kicking myself in the butt right now for not getting out the Play-doh.  In two seconds, in two clicks, my pre-reader spent $140 and I think that's a little bit snarky on the part of Facebook.

I have removed all of my credit card information from Facebook, and I'm naming my next child Ricardo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Preschooler D and the Credit Card

Every stay at home parent knows the worst time of day is between 3 and 6 o'clock.  Every one's goodness for the day is just gone and chaos reigns.

It was this way for me last Thursday.  Colin was stomping around in a fit of preteen angst trying to get himself ready for piano.  Preschooler D (PD) was cranky and getting tired and I was trying to start supper.  PD thought he would amuse himself playing on my computer which sits in the kitchen. "Fine!" I thought.  "Good.  He will be right here where I can keep an eye on him."  I had my Facebook page up and PD immediately went to a game I tried playing but didn't like.  It's one of those role-playing Facebook games where you're building a little world. You advance in these games by having other people on Facebook send you virtual items for your world.  This one is an island.  I thought the island game was boring, so I didn't keep playing.  I had, in fact, taken it off my list of applications, but there was a picture of it at the top of the screen and that's where PD wanted to go.  "Fine," I thought again.  "What can this hurt?  I didn't like that game.  He can just move things around the little island to his heart's content right here where I can see him."

I went on my way making dinner . . . but I said out loud to the sink which was the only thing listening, "You know, I'm not sure this is a good idea."

I found out I was right two hours later when I got a receipt from Facebook thanking me for my purchase of 1400 credits for the island game.  And what a bargain!  They were on sale for $140.

Okay, so here's what happened.  I don't like the little island game, but I have been very addicted to the game where you make a little frontier.  So addicted, that from time to time I have purchased $2-3 worth of credits to advance myself along in the game without waiting for my other little frontier friends to send me what I need.  Several weeks ago I purchased $7 worth of credits and I sort of freaked out that my addiction was going too far.  So anyway, as you play these games, the fine folks at Facebook and Zynga, the creator of these games, want to make it easy for you to purchase credits and a screen pops up which says something to the effect, "Credits are on sale!  Would you like to buy some?"   When you click "yes" as PD did, another screen pops up with the different amounts you can purchase.  The default option is the maximum amount, in this case $140.  To be even more helpful, Facebook then automatically charged my credit card from the times when I made my $2-7 purchases of credits. With two clicks, PD purchased $140 of credits.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Thankful List

My autumnal insanity is starting to make me feel physically sick.  On an optimistic note, I hope that means I am at the lowest point.  That doesn't sound very optimistic, does it?  What I mean to say is that hopefully I am closer to the end than the beginning.

Is that too much information?  I am concerned that you will worry about me.  I am all right . . . you know . . . considering.

I thought, today, I would make an alphabetical list of things for which I am thankful.  That's always a good exercise.  I hope you do it too.  Here we go:

Artichoke dip
D., Preschooler
ECFE paintings
Grandparents who babysit for free (or reduced prices)
Ice in my Diet Coke
La-la-la Linoleum (Shout out to Bert from Sesame Street)
Modern plumbing
Night lights
Pumpkin latte (Shout out to the Caribou friends)
Satellite radio
Underwear (Well, aren't you thankful for underwear?)
Xmas outside light project done
Yellow kitchen
Zamar the Bass Guitar

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday on Wednesday

Oh, the cycle of life and my less than clean basement clashed in fevered pitch tonight.  There is a large cobweb in the window I must pass on my way to the laundry.  For most of the afternoon I passed a fly fighting for its life with a small spider waiting for her supper.  Every time I walked by I wondered if I should free the fly or allow the spider to eat.  From my giant human perspective, I wondered if it was more annoying to walk through the cobwebs or be pestered by a large fly.  I decided not to interfere.  I thought of Charlotte and Wilbur.  Do you remember how he couldn't decide if he could be her friend when she was so ruthless, and she reminded him that no one came to feed her slop from a bucket.

So anyway, here's the spider and the fly.  We may have had it before, but we must have it again today.

The Spider and the Fly
Mary Howitt

Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew 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 ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, " Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I 've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome -- will you please to take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind Sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!" said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you 're pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple -- there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue --
Thinking only of her crested head -- poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour -- but she ne'er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

More Coffee-Mate

A long-time friend (as opposed to "old") and I have been emailing this year and we decided that the answer to life's problems is more Coffee-Mate.

Pre-teen angst in your house?  MORE Coffee-mate!
Change of seasons making you crazier than usual? MORE Coffee-mate!
Unexpected layoff? MORE Coffee-mate!

During this discussion I have polished off cup number one and I am sure this is a 2-cup Day. Wait right here . . . Mmmmm.  Belgian Chocolate Toffee. Nice!

New church plant more exhausting than you anticipated? MORE Coffee-Mate!
Too many politicians on TV? MORE Coffee-mate!
In-law troubles? Former in-law troubles? More, More, MORE Coffee-Mate!

I don't know.  Maybe I've been watching too many Mad Men episodes on the tread mill, but I think I'm really on to something.  What if we all just took a breath and had a cup? What a wonderful world this would be.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Writer's Block Friday on Thursday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

Preschooler D's (PD) mouth is healing nicely, thank you for asking.  He is very cranky though.  He has not slept well all week.  I wouldn't have either, had I been him.  It was pretty nasty.  It looks much better and it smells fine.  NP Beth told us to beware of nasty smells.  Ew. Let's not think about it.

I filled out PD's preschool forms yesterday for next fall.  I have FULL confidence that he will be potty trained by then.  That's the goal anyway.  Only 10 months left.

I bet PD is the only one with a 25 year-old brother as an emergency contact. (Shelby, I listed him because perhaps you will be living in New York City next fall.  Who knows?  I am counting on Rachel to take quick, decisive action in case of emergency.  Well, actually I am counting on me, your dad or one of the grandparents getting called first.)

The dog's remote was lost briefly, and it's as if he knew it.  "Yap, yap, yap!  I must protect you from the ferocious squirrel! Bark, bark, bark!  I must now race around the house as though I have seen the bunny at Gulf Greyhound Park!  Yip, yip, yip!"  I tried putting the collar on anyway to psych him out, but he knew I couldn't deliver.  I laughed a triumphant laugh when I found it in the secret place PD had hidden it. Bra-ha-ha-ha!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

I want to clarify from yesterday's post that Colin's pose is for the benefit of the picture, not because he really was an angry preteen . . . at that moment.

So today it has warmed up a bit which ought to be lovely, but is making my sinuses hurt.   While Brent was home for lunch I watched a movie with a blanket over my head -- that kind of hurt.  Preschooler D is eating from a large bag of Cheetos and watching an endless loop of cartoons.  It's not our finest hour.

I did manage to vote this morning and, although I did not vote socialist, I kind of like this poem.

Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket
Vachel Lindsay 
From General William Booth Enters into Heaven, and Other Poems (1919)

I am unjust, but I can strive for justice.
My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness.
I, the unloving, say life should be lovely.
I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness.

Man is a curious brute — he pets his fancies —
Fighting mankind, to win sweet luxury.
So he will be, tho’ law be clear as crystal,
Tho’ all men plan to live in harmony.

Come, let us vote against our human nature,
Crying to God in all the polling places
To heal our everlasting sinfulness
And make us sages with transfigured faces.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Trick or Treating that Never Was

So after talking about his Star Wars witch/Darth Vader costume for a month, Preschooler D would not put it on when the big event arrived last night.  Oh, but you should have heard the bargaining.

If you wear a costume, Grandpa and Grandma will give you candy!
What about just the shirt?
What about a different costume?
Here is a Tigger costume.
Here is a doctor costume.
Here is a monkey costume.
This is just a skeleton sweatshirt.
How about just a hat?
How about just some ears?
How about I paint a mustache on you?
What if Colin wears a costume? ("NO!")
Urgent whisper:  JUST PLAY ALONG!
What if Mommy wears a costume?
What if Daddy wears a costume? ("NO!")
Urgent whisper:  JUST PLAY ALONG!

Fine.  Can you at least go and deliver Mom's Thanksgiving dinner invitations?

"I'm not getting out of the car."

Fine.  Well, he did and managed to score quite a bit of candy anyway.  Colin did, too, for somebody who didn't even go along.

While they were gone, Colin asked if he could have some candy out of our basket.  I looked at him very seriously and said, "Not until you put on a costume."

He came down with this:

"Wait!" he said before I took the picture.  He then posed in that great preteen angry look. Love it!