Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blogiversary Gratefuls

101. No more milestones on the horizon.

102. The lesson on pride that I needed to hear.

Now to do it.

In Vertically Inclined by Mary Kassian, session 3, she taught, "Pride compares." It's pretty easy to find ways to compare myself to others and come out feeling good. This is pride. It is sin. But the flipside to this truth is, I often compare myself to others and come out feeling crummy. They are prettier, better, smarter, funnier. This is pride. This is a sin. I need to stop comparing.

Pride compares.

Luke 18:10-14
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Romans 15:7
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

How do you spell....







If your preferred spelling is 'blogoversary', you can go to this site and register your blog. They will generate the code for you to put a button on your sidebar for quick blogoversary reference. It appears to be free. They will also feature your blog on your blogoversary. I didn't sign up.

'Bloggoversary'? Google asks if you meant 'blogoversary'. See above.

If you Google 'bloggiversary', Google thinks you meant one less 'g'. See below.

'Blogiversary' will lead you to the Urban Dictionary definition. It was added in 2005. Strong provenance.

'Blogaversary' and 'bloggaversary' do not yield anything of interest to me.

I'm going with 'blogiversary'. Happy Blogiversary to me.

My first post was completely uninspiring. A year hasn't changed much.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How to get teenagers to work on a snow day

I may be brilliant.

El informed me on Sunday that today would be a snow day. I was not convinced on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday that today would be a snow day. It seems that the collective wearing of inside out and backward pj's, multiple reps of the Macarena, spoons (and cheese, who knew?) under the pillows of thousands of kids in the mid-Atlantic states did their magic.

Snow day, it is.

Work day for Steve and I, it was.

I learned many years ago from a wiser mom than me that she has her kids do a specific timed amount of work around the house on days off from school. Since she is a smart woman, I decided this was a smart plan. Our kids generally do some work on days off.

One hour.

I know, it's terrible, isn't it? As I prepared to go to work and thought through what I wanted the girls to get done, I was inspired to think beyond my usual slave driver ways.

I said, "Hey, house cleaners around here usually make about $XX an hour. I am prepared to pay you up to $XX (that's more than I make!) per hour to get some work done around here. There are conditions. You have to get along with each other and do a good job because I am the inspector. I wrote some things down, but left a bunch of blanks for you to fill in with jobs that you see need to be done. Seeing and doing things that aren't on the list will be to your benefit."

I was slightly worried when Mo called me at 10:30 to ask me to go to the grocery store on my way home. She told me she was hungry for enchiladas. Then she told me she was going to make enchiladas for dinner. I like enchiladas. I like to eat food that I didn't prepare. I asked if she had started on the list yet.


When I got home from work, the girls went outside with some friends. I looked around. There was mail on the couch. There were blankets on the couch. There were papers in the middle of the floor and a pencil too.


Did any work get done?

My first impression was bad. It was also wrong. Once I looked around, I saw that they had done a really good job. I checked at the list. They had done the things on the list and they had added to it. They had each worked about...drumroll, hour.

When they came in all wet and dripping and asked what I thought, I told them I was frustrated at first, but then I saw all the other things that they had done. Then one grabbed a towel and wiped the floor.

Mo said, "We cleaned it. But then we had to live in it."

El said, "You should know from Pride and Prejudice that you can't always trust a first impression."

Steve said later, "I say money is a good motivating factor. They don't clean this good for free."

True, so true.

Can anyone tell me exactly how many minutes I need to pay them for? Even though they did a good job with the work, the arrows are quite confusing.

I got a chuckle when I saw that Mo signed the time sheet with seven different names. Most of them are nicknames we use around here, but 'Omyra' is special. She got it from a sweet lady who couldn't pronounce her name right when we went to Mississippi.

Mmmm, I smell enchiladas. She said I don't even have to pay her for them.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Letter J

I am sitting in my spot (my computer is fixed!), chatting with Cam, I Am on Google and Straight to Your Hart on facebook. The girls are watching Jon & Kate Plus 8. Cam, I Am signs off, StYH says something sweet and completely untrue about me, and a commercial for the Duggars comes on.

Suddenly, hysteria.

El runs for a calculator. Giggles and floor pounding...


That's how many grandchildren the Duggar's would have if each of their children had 18 children.

Mo says, "Imagine if they used all J names!"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

100th grateful

I'm grateful for:

99. My computer is fixed!

100. My mom. She died 10 years ago last night. I miss her.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Warm Gratefuls

I'm grateful for:

92. The all clear from the eye doctor.

93. Night snowfall lit by the back light.

94. The morning moon.

95. My own interpretation of the chicken soup made with cloves from the More-With-Less Cookbook.

96. Indoor/outdoor thermometers.

97. Football game induced naps.

98. Watching my daughter at her concerts. Singing, playing her oboe, talking to friends, and smiling when she says she's not going to.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Visional Gratefuls

When I started this list of gratefuls last fall, I didn't want it to be restrictive. I wanted to be free to express whatever I felt grateful for in whatever words came first. It cannot be a running list of every possible grateful I've ever felt. It's just what comes to mind on a weekly basis, usually on Saturdays. Why Saturdays? Because.

I've always started with #1 & #2 and sometimes #5 since they are the consistent things in my life that I am most consistently grateful for. Starting now, I'm not going to repeat them any more. It's not that I'm not grateful for God and my family and for time alone with Steve, I am most grateful for them. I just feel the need to change my format a bit. Bear with me (all three of you who read this) while I gratefully redecorate.

If you want to know what prompted me to start this list, click here. To see the others who are part of this Gratitude Community, click here.

87. Mo's eye injury was not as bad as the school nurse made it sound.

88. Sunshine reflected on the creek.

89. My new favorite sweatpants and sweatshirt shrunk just the right amount in the first washing.

90. I'm old enough t0 know something about some things, and some people want to listen sometimes.

91. Food that I did not prepare. Steve made nachos and El made (funfetti!) cake. I ate.

Yes, that is my shadow at the bottom of the picture!

Not only does she decorate awesome cakes, she makes them magically reappear when I accidentally delete them. Yay, El! Yay, ctrl z.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Sometimes something happens, something so unusual, something so strange, something so noteworthy, that you have to broadcast it in the Theatre of Hard to Believe. Today, ladies and gentlemen, I submit for your (dis)approval our newest episode...


The Saturday after Halloween - we'll say it was five years, two months and several days ago - an unexpected thing happened. It was a warm morning, as I recall. The four of us were in the car, making our way to one of El's soccer games. One happy family, minding our own business.

Here is where one of our oh-so-few family idiosyncrasies must come to light. Our children must sit on 'their side' of the car. Mo must sit on the right. El must sit on the left. Unless El is sitting in the front. Then she must take the right, for obvious reasons. When Mo starts driving, we may have to have a car imported from Europe so that she can continue to sit on the right. Oh, the right. Pay attention, viewers.

I digress.

Mo was in the back seat. Her window was down. As you recall, we were going to a soccer game.

I sort of noticed some boys near the road. They appeared to be throwing things at the cars that drove by.

We drove by. Mo screeched and started to cry. Steve slammed on the brakes, and she managed to tell him that an M&M had hit her in the right eye.

Understand, dear viewers, that the mind boggling accuracy of the throw and what comes next would have been YouTube worthy. We're talking viral. We were traveling at a fair rate of speed and the boys were by no means at the edge of the road. It seems that it was a once in a lifetime shot.

What would you do? Well, Steve became a little girl's hero (and a future teenager's worst nightmare) that day. He got out of the car and started chasing the culprit. M&M Boy had a fair lead, too, because he hightailed it back into his neighborhood the second our car screeched to a stop.

My husband can run. He can run and he can yell while he runs. If there were an Olympic event for yelling while running, he would make the team. He only trained for it once, but I believe it qualifies him. For life.

He found the boy, as I remember it. He spoke to the boy in the presence of the boy's father. I felt a bit bad for the boy, not knowing what kind of father he had. I hoped the boy would be all right. I soon forgot M&M Boy.

In my mind's eye, I see the M&M as brown. We kept the evidence, the brown M&M, in the cubby hole in the dashboard for a few months. I guess one of us threw it away with the candy wrappers and receipts and the other relics that our car collects over time.

This story is part of our family history. It's remarkable on it's own. It's good for a laugh when we pull it out for a look and a listen now and again. We thought this was the whole story, but there was a surprise sequel several years in the making.

Fast forward now, if you will, to the beginning of the present school year.

It's an interlude of sorts. (Thanks to our sponsor, Merriam Webster).

Mo told us during the first week of school that there was a familiar kid in her math class. He was a kid that she had seen before. She had seen him by road, on that fateful day so many years ago.

Apparently, he had noticed her too. A couple of days later he asked in his best teenage boy mumble, "Uh, did you get hit in the eye by an M&M once?" She told him that she was, indeed, the target of his youthful indiscretion. It probably went something like this, "Yeah....that was you?"

In one of my more clever moments sometime around Halloween, I told her that she should take one of those fun packs of M&M's to him. She didn't.

Now we get to today. And the end, we hope, to this farce. Farce, as in "2: a light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot". (Thank you again, Merriam Webster).

It's math class, on a day just like any other day.

M&M Boy folds his homework into a Ninja Star. A neat trick, wouldn't you say? The teacher makes him take it apart to check to see if he did the right homework. So he folds himself a new one with some other paper. It's actually a great exercise for Geometry class.

Do you see what's coming?

The teacher leaves class a minute early for hall duty. M&M Boy pulls out his brand new shiny Ninja star.

The Sidekick asks, "Dude, is that dangerous?"

Mo is sitting somewhere between them doing her best 'ignore my rowdy class' routine.

"Only if it hits someone in the eye," says our boy.

I'm warning you audience, cover your eyes! M&M Boy has morphed into Ninja Star, and he and The Sidekick are tossing the star around doing their bad Ninja moves with teenage abandon when.

Now you see.

I am at work and my cell phone rings it's happy you-have-no-clue-what's-coming tune.

"Yeah, so I was in math class, and this kid hits me in the eye with a paper Ninja star, and now I'm in the nurses office..."

It's a serious contusion to her right eye and a slight scratch on the edge of the cornea. I think that's what the doctor said. She'll be fine. She has eye drops to prevent infection and a promising contract for some fast food meal action figures.

No animals were harmed in the making of this film. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, not-so-innocent, or just plain accident causing. Don't try this, and I mean any of this, at home.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Yearsy Gratefuls

This week I'm grateful for:

#1 & 2.

82. A break in routine.

83. A fuller appreciation of routine.

84. The lady in the grocery store who smiled a real smile when we kept directing our carts toward each other when we were actually trying to avoid running them into each other.

85. An early morning sky that made the trees look like they were on fire.

86. The smell of fresh, new things. Each unique. Books. Clothes. Coffee beans. Puppies. Well, I didn't smell any puppies this week but I remember what my puppy smelled like. Oh, and babies too. Mine were the best. They still are. Smelling that is. Though they are also pretty good at fresh.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


It blew in a few hours early yesterday. I felt it before I saw it.

The feeling it -brought tears. Some escaped, but some were willed back, those got blinked back in and reduced to a runny nose. I drove, straight through town and then along farm dictated curves, past Federals and Colonials and barren trees betraying abandoned nests. Past our church and the church at the top of a hill with the hundreds of milk jug luminaries that I never saw lit. Wound around the wide open (but not for long) spaces, dipping downhill between wooded hills and past unexplored forked rights and then uphill again to that view of another state's tree covered hilltops. I love the moment of discovery every time. The thrill of ascension to that view in every season.

This is the drive, the area that called to me, made me brave enough to think we could move here almost ten years ago. This is where I do my best thinking, in the space and then snug in the trees. Yesterday's thoughts reminded me that home in the earthly sense is not defined by the walls that bound where I sleep but it's margins are marked by community and belonging, by earth and sky and the people between them. Then it was back downhill to the stoplight, and traffic, and work. I sniffled myself up the stairs.

I saw it through the little window right after I got to work. Dark sky signaled change behind the sunlit treetops. Snow swirled in the air at lunch time. A teasing, a dusting gone by two. The wind followed.

I needed gas, so I drove across the 'skinny bridge', two lanes of noisy metal where it's best to pull in your mirror and not look down. On my way back over, I saw that the wind had churned up the river. I remembered a lazy boat ride last summer on that same river. The lazy river had gone wild yesterday.

The wind also turned the roads into an obstacle course. I was Peach, Baby Mario hanging on behind me, dodging green turtle shell trash cans and swerving around fallen tree limb banana peels. Peach!

I stopped at the bookstore and bought a book of love poems for my love. I had them wrap it since it was a gift. When I was waiting for it, a friend had to explain to the giggling (she was my wife) and then mortified (she passed away) cashier that they could take his wife's name off the phone number they asked for. He did it with grace and humor; she ran for the back room at the earliest possible opportunity.

We had some family time in the afternoon as the wind blew colder and the temperature dropped lower. It was closer.

The girls had plans for the evening. So did we. In someone's front yard Mr. and Mrs. and little Frosty danced in the wind, lifting and twirling as we drove by. We should have stopped to join them. Christmas flags and bows on wreaths waved and lights bounced. We ate something somewhere and I was so cold from walking back to the car that I kept my hood up for a while.

When we got home, we basked in the warmth of a space heater by the glow of the HighDef Yule Log (it needs to be refreshed after 30 minutes) and read poems out loud in Spanish while eating a dessert that Steve had prepared. We watched a movie that was about resolve and we didn't even notice that it was official. After all that anticipation, it snuck in without fanfare. Then the girls and their friends called us two different times, so we knew that what had started hours earlier for me had become official. Change, a New Year is here.

A New Year.

Tears, memories, and vistas. Dark and light. Swirling in the sky. Dangerous waves on lazy rivers spanned by skinny bridges and obstacles on rainbow roads. Laughter and embarrassment and grace offered. Dancing and love poems. Cold and warmth and sweetness. Resolve, but not for a New Year's sake.

One time my daughter El said in frustration, "The problem with change is it's always so different!" Yes, that is the problem with change, but that is also the beauty, the adventure, the danger, and the predictable comfort in it.