Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope 2006 brings you much love and happiness.

If you're watching television tonight, you may get a glimpse of our part of the world!
Fox News will show the little apple drop from Aggieville here in Manhattan, Kansas ("The Little Apple").

Have a safe, fun evening! Here's to 2006!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I plan to plan

As we wrap up this year and begin planning for the next, many of us make plans to improve our lives.

Some of my previous New Year's resolutions have been grand: this will be the year I finish the Great American novel! Some of my resolutions have been small: I will keep in touch with people a little more than the year before, even if it is just via email.
There have been many, of course, and I usually give up on just about all of them by February.
It is not because they are unattainable. I have learned to set reasonable goals.
However, I have never planned to meet those goals.

I met a very busy woman a few years ago. She's great. She's a busy mom, busy volunteer, busy military wife...but she gets things done. While serving on a volunteer committee with her one year, I noted the way she ended all of her notes and emails to us:
Remember--if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

That really irritated me. I don't plan.

My husband has suggested from time to time, that I should make a plan. Of course, he is a great planner so I figure he plans enough for the both of us.

When he asks what I have done on a certain day, I often answer, you know, I had grand plans... Of course, we both know it's a lie because I have no plans. Even on busy days when I have much to accomplish--he'll ask what's the plan for your day today and I will rattle off my long to-do list but I still do not have a plan. I stumble about the day and usually get it all done.

After reading Rene's post on time management, I was struck by her idea of making herself accountable for her time. I realize that for your organized planners out there, this is a no brainer but for me, the light clicked on.

When 2006 rolls in, I will have a plan laid out for my time. Rather than throwing in a load of laundry (and doing a crossword or two) and then determining if I have time to write or exercise, I will have set times to get those things accomplished. I won't do it so I have an answer for my husband or for you but because I should hold myself accountable for doing the things I that I claim are important. At least, that's the plan.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Another lazy post

Your New Year's Resolutions

1) Get a pet frog

2) Eat more cheese

3) Travel to Italy

4) Study abnormal psychology

5) Get in shape with pilates

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Reindeer games

You Are Dancer

Carefree and fun, you always find reasons to do a happy dance.

Why You're Naughty: That dark stint you had as Santa's private dancer.

Why You're Nice: You're friendly. Very friendly.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Revision is key


The most important part of writing is rewriting.
Whether it is for The Great American Novel or a lame anniversary gift, it always holds true.

I thank those of you who tried to help me with my attempt to write 12 pages of 12 facts about the number twelve for my twelfth anniversary. The reason it was so hard was because it was not a great idea. Working through it though, the last three pages were not only salvageable but much more relevant. So...the hubbie did not get twelve pages of anything.

He did get a homemade card with three pages: Twelve new things we did on our honeymoon, Twelve new things I've done since I married you, and Twelve things I expect during the next 12 years. Beside each list, I copied a photo of a wine label from 1993. The cover page had the image at the top of this post, entitled "Wine and Still Life, 1993" by Diantha York-Ripley.

It all came together in the end and I thank you for your advice and/or positive vibes!
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Friday, December 16, 2005

HELP!!!

Speaking of being busy...remember that grasshopper who could not be bothered during the summer to collect food and had to beg the ants the following winter?

Well...this grasshopper has been busy with...well, too many things to list here now but I have not spent enough time coming up with the creative anniversary present this year.

Oh, all right! Truth be told, I never come up with that creative idea until December anyway. I thought a dozen years of marriage deserved something especially creative and I've come up with something...but I've come up short.

Don't judge me. I'm a dork and I know it but I've got like 26 hours left and I need help.
Here's what I've got: 12 bottles of wine for his putting up with 12 years of my whining.

Some are from where we went for our honeymoon, some are from places we have visited or lived, some have the name of a famous golfer on them and some are just there because he'll like them.
Lacking anything else remotely clever, I thought I'd wrap a piece of paper around each bottle. Each piece of paper would list twelve interesting facts relating to the number twelve in some fashion.

SO...here is where my dedicated blog readers, friends and relatives come in! Remember that "plan" in the last paragraph? The one with 12 interesting facts on 12 separate pages?
I have 10 pages but only ONE page actually has 12 items on it. If you have anything interesting (a fact, a story, a joke, ANYTHING...that relates to the number 12 in ANY WAY, could you send it along?)

How does this help?
1. Gets me closer to my list of 144 "interesting" things to wrap around 12 bottles
2. Gives me another page (in my quest for 12 pages) as I will devote a page to all the people who helped me with this!!! Come on! I know there are 12 helpful souls out there who will help a girl out!

I know what you're thinking.
1. Why bother?
2. You've just posted this on the internet so the jig is up.

I have the answers.
1. As discussed previously, I'm a dork. A sleepy one who should be in bed but who, instead, just poured another glass of wine so there really isn't any logic involved here whatsoever.
2. a) Hubbie rarely has time to read the blog (has too much to read already)
b) IF he were to read it, he'd use his laptop, which he left here with me so he can't access it at all until tomorrow evening....

So if I can just get this done in the next 19 hours, I'll be OK! If he should happen to wander over to my blog and read my "plan", I can just give him the gift six hours early.
If you have a fact, joke, mathematical equation...anything involving the number twelve that cannot be found on Wikipedia and feel like sharing, you will have both my gratitude and a spot on my page of the "12 Most Helpful People" who helped me pull this stupid thing off. (Hurry, though! I'm not listing 13 people!)

(Yes, I will)

...or are you TOO BUSY?

In my hesitation to get off of the computer and on with my day, I found this.

(I find it just a little disconcerting that I can relate to a frog.)

Are you busy?

Are you glad it’s Friday? Do you still have many things to accomplish today? I should be shopping, wrapping and putting together some sort of amazing anniversary present.
So, of course, here I am…online.

Are there any other procrastinators out there? Here are a few links to visit so you’ll look busy!

Hanukkah Trivia Quiz
(I am embarrassed to admit I only got 60% correct with a score of 167 points)
Christmas Trivia Quiz
(I managed to do a little better here at 80%, 238 points)
December Trivia Quiz
(I should have quit while I was ahead with the Christmas quiz, as I ended up with 70%, 310 points on this one)

Have a fantastic Friday! I have to go now because I am really, really busy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tiny tyrant

Son: He's mean and always comes to me and hits me.
Mom: Can you stay out of his way?
Son: He finds me.
Mom: Does he bother other kids in the class?
Son: Not "S." S is the boy in my class that never listens. That's why they're friends. The people who don't listen are friends and they don't like the good kids.
Mom: Does this mean boy hit your friend "J?"
Son: No, because J is strong and can defend himself.
(J does have two older siblings, so I'm sure this is true. My son takes Taekwondo but has not made the connection that any of those cool moves could be used defensively.)
Mom: You're strong, too. Maybe you could block him.
Son: I could kick him!
Mom: (Whoops!!) No, no! I don't want you to kick him.
Son: He hits me!
Mom goes through the whole 2 wrongs don't make a right discussion and reminds son that if he is seen kicking, he will be the one to get into trouble.
Daughter: Maybe you could just run away from him!
Mom: (likes daughter's suggestion but is afraid it won't solve the problem) You could try that. Have you asked him not to hit you?
Son: No
Mom: Maybe he thinks you're really tough and you don't mind. (Mom is hoping the "hits" are like a punch on the upper arm). Tell this boy it hurts and you want him to stop.
Son: Maybe I could try to give him a hug!

Mom is speechless for a moment but gives her son a big hug!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(I don't want to make my child "easy prey" but I just love his optimism!)

This has just started since the children are playing indoors more often with other classes. (When it was warmer and they played outside more often, this did not seem to be a problem.)

For the second time this week, my son did not want to go to school because he did not want to deal with the mean kid. So I did talk with his teacher this morning. I did not have his name but when I told her it was "S's friend from another classroom" she knew who I meant. Apparently she said "he is a tiny child who thinks he's better than the other kids and picks on all of them." (My son will never be the tallest kid on the block but the fact that a preschool teacher mentioned that the bully is "tiny" at least makes me feel better that he isn't holding my son up against the wall by his shirt collar!)

Apparently this boy has been shuffled between classes a couple of times for similar problems. His parents have been told but don't believe their little darling could be causing trouble.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I went to public school

I do get pleasure out of the little things. (Sometimes, I'll admit, they're rather inane little things). My mother, rather than tell me that outright, would often just grin and say little things please little minds!

I am not pleased today and it is over the littlest thing.

Somehow I have made it this far in life assuming (there I go again) that "littlest" was not a word. When my daughter triumphs over her brother in a board game or race, as I remind her to stop gloating (he may be bigger than her one day), I've also quietly told her that he is smaller but he isn't "littler" because that is not a word.

So she greatly enjoyed her victory yesterday when I tried to correct her homework. She was to write five sentences, using at least two spelling words in each sentence. I told her to fix number two because she had written "littlest," which is not actually a word.

She presented her spelling list and showed me that it is not only a word but also a spelling word this week!

As I muttered comments about education today and her teacher's inattention, I pulled out the big dictionary. (To be fair, the little one leaves lots of things out!)
There they were. Both littler and littlest are apparently legitimate, correct words in the English language.

I then decided that these must be recent additions.(You know, the way that "muggle" is now in the dictionary too after the success of the Harry Potter series). However, I was wrong once again. My little dictionary was revised in 1984 and the words are there too. Even if it was new then, I've had plenty of time to get up to speed.

Maybe my little mind is a bit littler than I thought.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The REAL reason for the season

All right. I've whined publicly about how busy this month gets and hopefully I've gotten the complaints out of my system. Because, of course, I really don't have much to complain about.

I do know what is important. I enjoy the fact that my children are starting to understand just a little bit too. While the five-minute discussion I had yesterday with my daughter about whether or not the baby Jesus should be placed in the Nativity display now or Christmas Eve does not constitute a real philosophical debate, we were discussing what it is we are celebrating.

Yet after reading a particular post yesterday afternoon, I still find myself wondering if we stress the really important aspects enough. While I am still shocked to hear that some churches will be closed on Christmas Day, I cannot cast any stones at anyone else. While my family attends Mass each Christmas, I will admit that we attend the "children's Mass" on Christmas Eve rather than making it there early Christmas Day. It is convenient. The children actually pay attention to some parts so we have a chance to relax and pay attention too. We say our thanks and our prayers that evening so we don't have to pull hyper children or our exhausted selves away from the packages and stockings early the next morning.

So if I don't make the effort on Christmas morning, I cannot deride others for not going either. Ministers have families too. I understand that they would want to share a quiet Christmas morning with their families. However, I also assume (which is a bad thing to do) that ministers are in touch with both the real reason for celebrating Christmas and the needs of their church families. What message will it send to the people who ARE willing to go to church early on Christmas morning when they find that the doors to their church, rather than being open and welcoming, are locked?

Thanks, Q, for posting the story!

'tis the season...

...the busy season, that is! It's a good thing I'm not baking or traveling this year or I might forget the fact that we celebrate holidays this month!

We've made it through a preschool holiday concert and a Christmas piano recital, along with various December birthday parties for young friends. Just one more Christmas concert this week, Taekwondo testing and a few more holiday parties! Somewhere in there I really will send out Christmas cards. Really. I will.

Hubbie has been traveling the past two weekends and the upcoming weekend is no exception...but he will return before our wedding anniversary on Sunday!

We are very blessed. We have many reasons to celebrate and wonderful friends to share our food, fun and holidays with. We will attend Mass together as a family and thank the Lord for all of our blessings. I will say thank you, I will behave and when we get home I will leave my list out for Santa.

All I want for Christmas is a nice, long nap!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Greetings from the world beyond

I have returned, briefly, from the world outside of the world wide web!

I cannot blame my absence entirely on the hustle and bustle of the season, though that might be part of it. I regret to admit I've had nothing inspiring to share. I've visited other blogs here and there this week but I'm sorry to say I had nothing to add.

At least the mental stagnation has not been complete! I HAVE gotten some writing done! I'm very excited and will have to keep this short to MAKE myself get back to the WIP. Almost every year, somewhere in our family Christmas letter, I tell my friends and family that I'm still at work on "the novel." While it would indeed be a Christmas miracle to be able to tell everyone this year that I have a completed draft, I'd like to see how close I can get before the end of 2005!

One quick update--our son had his very first Christmas concert last night with his preschool class. For my family members who have seen the video of our daughter's first preschool concert (she was a pale, frightened, shy child who finally managed to whisper a few lyrics at the very end), I can tell you that her little brother's first performance was quite the opposite! He had a blast!

It's cold and snowing here today. Though the kids are in school, they're thrilled and are asking for playdates after school as they're sure to have enough snow for snowballs today!

I hope you can pause for a moment on to remember this somber occasion in American history but also go on to have a great day!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Let us drink wine!

Let the monks have their beer.

They're celibate and they live with their co-workers--at least let them keep some beer!

http://www.sacbee.com/content/lifestyle/24hour_food/story/2919994p-11586083c.html

Monday, November 28, 2005

I know we live in Kansas, but...


...what if these do not actually take you to Oz?

The tornado sirens were enough to scare my children into the basement immediately. We had all been playing Monopoly near a window. They were quite concerned that the parents were not in as much of a hurry.

The hubbie even went TO the window to check the weather.

The kids were getting desperate so while I calmly explained that we'd be fine, I did go downstairs with them. The hubbie made sure we had shoes and coats downstairs "just in case" then came back up to watch the weather on the news and through the window.

While I understand the fascination, as I explained just before the sirens stopped, if a twister does pay us a visit, he may not have time to get downstairs. So we'll just wait and see if clicking his heels will bring him back from wherever he may end up.

As for the rest of us, we'll keep our sneakers on in the basement. After all, what would we do if we received a pair of ruby slippers that did not fit?

I've lived outside the Emerald City and while I'm sure I could continue bloghopping from there, I'll take a slower route if and when we go back, thanks.
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Some weather we're having!

It was a nice fall weekend. I mean summer weekend, no winter...well, at least I'm sure the weekend is over!

After telling my in-laws to expect cooler weather for Thanksgiving, there were days that we did not even need jackets. Then, yesterday, the western part of the state had blizzards while our part had "summer" weather (thunderstorms and tornadoes).

Ft. Riley (where hubbie works) did get hit but the twister did not make it this way.

Today we have a light dusting of snow on the grass and more snow is expected this afternoon. My daughter can't wait for school to be over today! She's anticipating fantastic snowballs.

In the meantime, I am trying to recover from yet another cold. (With all of the weather changes, I'm baffled as to why I keep getting sick!) ; (

Tomorrow should be sunny and warmer.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!
I have been very blessed and have much to be thankful for. I hope you all can find many things to be grateful for as well!
(THANK YOU for visiting and have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Wisdom of Dory


Marlin : I promised I'd never let anything happen to him.
Dory : Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise.
Marlin : What?
Dory : Well you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My daughter returns home from a playdate at one of her best friend's homes. She tells me about the day and is quite excited that she, her friend and friend's younger sister were allowed to walk to the park by themselves!

She is proud. She is happy.

That is, until she has to help me gather my eyeballs, which have popped from my skull and are rolling on the hard wood floor. I do not say anything against the best friend's parents but my daughter senses I am not quite as proud as she was just a moment ago. I tell her that I was just surprised, as that mother can't see the park from her window.

Weeks have passed and I've had time to relax. Everyone got to the little park and back just fine. My daughter and this friend are inseparable most of the time; the only variation is when my daughter sticks to the friend's little sister instead. Mostly, when they all get together, they are The Three Female Musketeers! They get into trouble together at times but they stick together.

I know it was not wrong to let the girls venture forth on their own. My worry is always that "the stranger" will say the one thing we have not discussed and my girl will get in his car. Yet those crafty strangers are usually singling out solitary children, not a band of three. If someone tried to con that group, as long as one of them was smart enough not to go, the other two would stick with her.

I've talked with the friend's father--though we came to this subject in a roundabout way--he mentioned that while he "probably ought to be concerned about kidnappings," he is "much more concerned about traffic." He's right. The odds are much better that a distracted driver will get to her before a predator.

When the girls are over here, I still don't let them leave our street without me. (As worried as I get about losing my own children, I don't want to run the risk of losing someone else's)! I considered not letting her go over to that friend's home anymore and just letting them play here.

My daughter is smart though and perhaps I should trust her a bit more. (The next time she went to that friend's house, she diplomatically told her friend she just did not want to go to the park that day and asked to play in her backyard). The last time she went, the girls did go to the park (with one more friend, so there was a pack of four). She quickly told me that the friend's mother let them walk but she got in the car and met them there.

In any case, everyone is home safe and sound. So I'll try to remember to just keep swimming...
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An adventure is an adventure, even if it is in your own backyard

When I was seven years old, I lived on the edge of a forest. It was enormous and daunting and I was sure there were bugs, snakes and more dangerous creatures, so I never entered the forest.

By the time I was eight years old, half of the forest had become a housing subdivision. I had a friend who lived in one of the new houses. (Now, my parents had strongly opposed the new subdivision, citing heavier traffic on our quiet road, so I was quite certain that my friend’s parents were partly evil. Luckily, they were never home during the day so I’d go home with her after school with no worries of running into them.)

The other half of the area was still undeveloped or becoming developed. My friend and I would stray from her house in the afternoons to the area that was still “the woods” and find all sorts of treasures left behind by the contractors.

Those were glorious days! We could imagine we were Indians or pilgrims or even the Ingalls family. We built forts, with spare boards, roofing shingles and rusty nails. There were no adults, no siblings and no snakes (that I saw). My biggest fear at the time (because it was my friend’s biggest fear) was poison ivy. If it rained or got cold, we could go to her house. It was empty and quiet. How I envied her!
I don’t know how my mother continued to let me play with her. I came home to my mother every time asking if she could please get a job so I could have my own key and come home alone too! (Of course, I had three younger siblings waiting at home too so there were a few flaws in my simple plan).

I wonder sometimes what adventures my kids will have to tell about their childhood as much more of their childhood play is supervised.
When I was eight, no stranger ever penetrated our forest sanctuary; we never played with matches at my friends house; despite the rusty nails, I did not need a new tetanus shot and I did not actually come into contact with poison ivy. We were just being kids and we survived.

I am now thirty-five and I have two children. I do not let my daughter (7 yrs) go anywhere alone or with another child, not to mention someplace where there might be snakes or rusty nails! While we live on a fairly quiet cul-de-sac, it’s adjacent to a busy street. So she is allowed to go outdoors alone but she can’t leave our street. (I try to give her some illusion of autonomy but only if I can still see her from one of the windows of my house!)

Am I depriving my children of adventures?

Maybe not. As I started this post the other day, the children came running in from the backyard where they had been planting acorns. (They go and look each morning for signs of a tree. Despite my comments about waiting for spring, they’re quite optimistic).
They came running in to tell me that they had spotted a “giant, poisonous worm!”

By the time they pulled me outdoors to look at it, the monster had disappeared. While I doubt that there are any poisonous worms in Kansas, I was good enough to be quiet and look frightened. Maybe they can find just a little danger and adventure in their sheltered lives after all.

(I can clearly see both of my children involved in this adventure!)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Rearranging the nightstand

For any of you keeping up with my lists over there to the left, I have removed a few books from the nightstand and added a few more.

The Price of Motherhood, Ann Crittenden
Insightful and inciteful. (The latter not being a real word, of course, but it should be). Ms. Crittenden got right to the point, a real problem in our society. You hear rumblings, murmurings, unrest…she has stumbled onto what even she believes should be a revolution that, for whatever reason has not come about. Yet.
I want to join the movement! I have not, however, finished the book. While Ms. Crittenden has touched a very important nerve, I (like many of the women who really want to push for change but don’t have time right now) didn’t even have time to finish the book. The library let me have it for three weeks and I did not finish it. I could have renewed it. I didn’t. I will check it out again or just buy it this time.


Finding Balance, Becca Stevens
I had to finish this book, as this was the text we were discussing in my women’s bible study group. Luckily, I was able to vote for this one before we chose it so I should not say that I had to finish it!
This book focused on what we can learn from the women of the Bible. I learned a great deal, though of course I learned more from the women in my group and their interpretations than from the book itself but this one was a great beginning for discussion!
I loved having a chapter devoted to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Someone will judge me for broadcasting this over the internet, but she’s been a tough one to deal with. I could never explain it right until the author found a nun who could: she was a virgin mother. Who can live up to that???
No matter what you’ve learned about Mary Magdalene from the media and The Da Vinci Code, you’ll find something new about her here!
I could go on. If it sounds intriguing, check it out. We did it as a group study so we ordered a video that went along with it. I enjoyed getting to see the author and hear her talk further about topics brought up in the book.
Of course, as a Catholic, I’m still intrigued to see a female priest. (The author is an Episcopal priest at Saint Augustine's Chapel on the Vanderbilt University campus. I find that amazing.)
I’ve only read this in preparation for group discussion but I highly recommend it whether for yourself or for a group. I might go back through it again when I have more time. (Whenever that may be...)

So, there are “updates” for two of the four books that have been sitting on my nightstand forever.

While I should use this time to get through the remaining two on the list, you should know by now that I am not that logical. I have started to re-read the Grapes of Wrath and am astounded at how much I have forgotten! I found this copy on the bookshelf and it still has my maiden name and a college dorm I lived in inscribed in the front cover. Therefore, I’m quite certain I read it in college and I even remember all of Tom Joad’s relatives’ names. I also remember that they could not afford to eat meat for a while. (The vegetarian remembers the important parts of novels).
I am about a third of the way through and thoroughly enjoying it but I honestly don’t remember any of this from the first time through. (I’m sure the fact that I read it in COLLEGE in NEW ORLEANS where there was no real, defined DRINKING AGE has absolutely nothing to do with my lack of recollection!)

In addition, I made a stop at the mall bookstore on Friday. (For anyone who does not know much about me: I hate malls. I will look for ANY excuse to avoid them. However, as I had agreed to an errand or two in the mall on Friday, I thought I deserved a trip to Waldenbooks as long as I was in there!) I picked up Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses (I cannot put this one down!!!) and Four Souls. I have not had a chance to open the latter yet, but I loved Ms. Erdich’s The Master Butchers Singing Club, and can’t wait to delve into this one!

So, there. Now you know exactly what books are lying on my nightstand when I go to sleep each night.
What's on yours?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sometimes it feels like...somebody's watching me


Whoever writes this has some sort of camera hidden in my home. I KNOW it's in the kitchen somewhere... Posted by Picasa

You can't fool kids!

As my kids note the progress on a construction site on the way to school, they want to know what it will be. I mention that it could be a couple of stores, or doctors’ offices, or any number of things.

This prompted my daughter to suggest that perhaps my husband (a physician) could move into that building. As I explained again that he’d have to wait until his commitment to the Army was fulfilled, she wanted to know:

"Does Daddy still have to be a doctor when he gets out of the Army?"

“No, I guess Daddy can do something else.”

“What if you get a job when Daddy gets out of the Army?” (Does this sound familiar?)

“I could do that. Maybe by then I’ll have my book done.”

“What is your book about again?”

“Good question! Well, it’s long and it’s changed and well, I’ll get it done and show you.”

“Is that a job?”
“Can be. I write the book and send it to people who publish books. If someone likes it, they’ll buy it and that’s how writers make money.”

My son, bored with this, asks “Do I have school today?”
(He goes to preschool Monday, Wednesday and Friday but isn’t always sure what day "today" is.)

“Yeessss!” My daughter sighs with exasperation. “I already told you. We both have school today.”
“Mommy?” she looks at me now. “Do we have school next Friday?”
“No, Sweetie. You both have next Friday off as it’s the day after Thanksgiving. Gran and Grandad will be here and even Daddy has the day off. Everyone has next Friday off!”

“Except you.”

“Well, that’s true. I still have to get dinner ready, wash dishes and clothes over the Thanksgiving holiday but we’ll all be home together.”

“No, Mommy. You don’t have the day off because you have to write that book!”

She's right. So I will. If all goes according to plan, you may not be hearing from me as much as I have GOT TO WRITE THAT BOOK!
*************
The timing this morning was perfect as I'd just read AGK's entry last night. Writers need to write, of course, and remember that we cannot fool our children!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Well, the kids don't agree with "frightful"


Oh, the weather outside is frightful...
Well, it's very windy, anway! It's hard to hold onto children and your hat at the same time!

But the fire is so delightful...
OK, gas fireplace is on the fritz.

And since we've no place to go...
I wish!

Let It Snow!Let It Snow!Let It Snow!
Seasonal tunes made an early appearance in my home this morning!

Yes, I was wearing short sleeves last week, telling everyone that while it didn't seem like November, I was thrilled! The hubbie told the kids last night he'd heard the word snow in the forecast for the evening and I couldn't believe it. I knew they'd wake disappointed as I could hear the rain pounding all night. My son decided to get up exceptionally early this morning and pointed out the rain. I could not get my daughter out of bed this morning, nor convince her to wear long pants until Nature intervened. Fifteen minutes before I had to start the We are going to be very late this time, get up NOW, I MEAN IT litany, the rain turned to snow.
It's amazing how compliant a 2nd grader will become if she thinks it means she'll get some time out in the white stuff!!!

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Mea Culpa III

I apologize for being in a bitter mood yesterday, hence the *!^*%#!## post below. I really have to remember to give myself a waiting period to rethink some ideas before posting them.

I've had a shower today and in the morning, no less! We're off to a good start!

As far as yesterday, it really wasn't all that horrible. It just went like this, all day.

TGIF!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

You didn’t hear this from me, but…

So you want the scoop? Or are you the one with the juicy information and you just have to tell someone? No? You don’t gossip, you say? Spreading rumors is not nice.

Spreading rumors online isn’t any nicer. It just fills up our inboxes with more junk mail. I know so many people who emphatically state that they’d never gossip. These same people have lightning fast fingers when it comes to spreading lies with a computer and a mouse. They did not write the email. They are not trying to cause any trouble. They are thinking of me and they are trying to help me or someone else. These well-meaning, caring people assume the information is true. We all know what happens when we assume.

A well meaning friend, who has kids in the same school as my children, passed along an email recently which urged me to add my name to a list of concerned citizens so we could stop a horrible woman from getting a bill passed in Congress that would take religious programming off of the radio.
The woman who was blamed for this passed away a decade ago.

I get an email from someone at least once a week urging me to boycott either Pepsi or Coke because they omitted the words “under God” from the pledge of Allegiance on their cans.
This was originally the fault of Dr. Pepper and they did not print the whole pledge nor mean to omit any of it. In response to 9/11, they were trying to say that we were “One Nation…Indivisible.”

I am not receiving any monetary compensation to promote Snopes.com. I just think going to the site, typing in a search of the email you’re about to forward and checking on it takes much less time than it does to type all of your friends addresses into the inbox. There are many gifted writers out in cyberspace who spend their time writing hoaxes that they send out into the wwworld. Concerned citizens, worried about the dangers of drinking soda, freedoms being removed from the airwaves and a million political ideas send these things on and on and on.

A note to my loyal friends, relatives and other readers: this post was not directed at YOU. You did not send me the email that sent me here. To those of you who have gotten responses back from me with a snopes link, it is not personal. It’s just my own friendly advice or helpful hint.

Pass it on.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I could tell you why ...the ocean's near the shore...

If found, are ruby slippers good for a return trip? Maybe the scarecrow, with his new brain installed, could weigh in with his opinion.

I can't complain. I am not a science teacher and our oldest is in second grade so we have a few years to worry about what she'll be taught in biology class.

Think your job stinks?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Me is code for chocolate

Just a side note: as I previewed my last entry before posting it, the codes made me smile. The html code for italics is “em” so on either side of the word “me” it not only looked cute (em-me-em) but spelled out the way my son pronounces “M & Ms”. (He calls them “M…E…Ms!”)

It was actually a perfect ending to the last post. After taking time out to ponder one’s own mortality, one really needs a bit of chocolate!

Degrees of Separation

I did not know the pregnant woman who died, leaving behind a young son and a husband. I barely knew her husband when he was a young teenager. I doubt he would remember my name, even if I sent a card. I was just a slightly older teenager who spent summers kissing his older brother. I do feel for the family though and have been praying for them.

I did not know the woman who lived in this house before me. I do know that she had interesting tastes in wallpaper. There are so many various types throughout the house yet if given the choice, I would not have picked out one of them on my own. Not one. However, they seem to fit each room so well. She did a beautiful job with window treatments, too.
She moved out last summer before we moved in and left the curtains and window treatments for us. We still get mail and catalogs bearing her name.
I read in the paper that she died in her new home on Sunday, after an ongoing illness. I wonder if that played a part in their moving from this house. She also left behind a young child and husband.

I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of leaving my children. (It takes me twenty minutes to leave them with a sitter who is a grown woman and stays with them often. I am always afraid there is something important that I did not take care of or did not tell her.) I had better get organized soon or I don’t know how many people I will have to haunt to make sure my kids are OK.

This is coming from a woman who, during her own childhood, took great pains to explain to her parents that she was quite independent and most certainly did not need them. (My birthday IS on Independence Day, after all!) As it turns out, regardless of how self-sufficient I believe myself to be, I still need to know others are depending on me.

Then again, my husband is depending on my to clear out my “junk.” I guess I had better get that organized before I step out in front of that proverbial bus or he may spend eternity haunting me!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Might have to give this a try! ; ) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Traveling Mercies: Some thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott


I grew up Catholic. People did not get up on the altar on Sunday and testify about their beliefs or experiences. Retreats in highschool and college were incredible because people did do it there. Not up on an altar but in a circle of their peers. They shared experiences from their life and how God had helped them through it. It was amazing.

It was not until I started going to the Wednesday “all-faith” services when I worked at World Vision that I found that Protestants do this every week. It was still amazing.

Anne Lamott does it in book form. Anne doesn’t tell you why you should believe what she believes. She shares experiences. My life experiences have been nothing like hers but I agree with much of what she has come to believe.

Her life, while imperfect, has made her wise and she shares her simple wisdom. She asserts that the two best prayers that she knows are:

Help me, help me, help me

and

Thank you, thank you, thank you

They are simple but powerful. Her father’s parents were Presbyterian missionaries who raised their children in Tokyo. She mentions how much disdain her father held for Christianity and they all proclaimed that they did not believe in God mostly to win favor with their father. Her mother went to an Episcopal church on Christmas Eve. She was not brought up with any type of religion whatsoever. She was surprised and bewildered to find God when she was a college student. A professor introduced them to Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and she says her life changed forever. They talked about the story of Abraham and when she left class that day, she knew there was a God. It made no sense to her and she could not explain it but she suddenly or finally believed that God exists. She was bat mitzvahed and even learned Hebrew.

About fifteen pages after that, after much drinking, drugs, bulimia, pregnancy and an abortion, she finds Jesus sitting in her bedroom. Now, while I’ve not been lucky enough to sense His physical presence that close to me before, I believe that she did. She tried to ignore Him for a while but eventually gave in. She has stopped ignoring Him and even looks for Him; then she shares how and where she finds Him.

It is not about a particular denomination or a certain set of beliefs. It is not even as serious as I’ve made it sound. Ms. Lamott is hilarious. She can be relating a story about a sick friend or something her son is going through and just when you’re ready to cry with her, you are laughing out loud at the next thing she says.

The title comes from something that the “old people” at her church say to people when they are leaving for a while. “Traveling mercies: love the journey, God is with you, come home safe and sound.”

This is another book that has sat on my “list” there on the left corner for a while. I read a few pages at a time, and received a little more inspiration each time. I highly recommend it. If you do not have time to settle in with the whole book at one time, just read a page or two. You may learn something about yourself, you might find a new way to relate to people or you might just laugh. Chances are you will experience all three on one page. Posted by Picasa

I am an idealist

I like this quiz much better. Of course, in an ideal world, I should be doing something more productive with my time!

Your Personality Is

Idealist (NF)


You are a passionate, caring, and unique person.
You are good at expressing yourself and sharing your ideals.

You are the most compassionate of all types and connect with others easily.
Your heart tends to rule you. You can't make decisions without considering feelings.

You seek out other empathetic people to befriend.
Truth and authenticity matters in your friendships.

In love, you give everything you have to relationships. You fall in love easily.

At work, you crave personal expression and meaning in your career.

With others, you communicate well. You can spend all night talking with someone.

As far as your looks go, you've likely taken the time to develop your own personal style.

On weekends, you like to be with others. Charity work is also a favorite pastime of yours.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Your assistance, please

I should have learned with the whole seasonal test but now I'm curious. My result was WAY off but that could be because I took the "test" with my second glass of red wine in hand!?

I got this from SV's blog and I'm just curious to see if I am the only one who received an inaccurate reading. This is purely for research. (They need another question for people who use the word "curious" far too often. I do not own a large yellow hat, nor do I own a monkey but I'd like to know how you all fare with this quiz...)

(For those of you who know my true identity and how many siblings I may possess.....this test pegged me as an ONLY child!) (I've never had ALL of the tendencies of a "first-born": the "second-in-line" wore me down a bit....then I married a "youngest" who has had some influence...but still??!?! ONLY child??!! Sure, I had fantasies but...) ; )

The Russians are coming!

Well, they're here! At least one, in any case.

Mikhail Gorbachev is in Kansas. In our town, in Kansas! It seems to me, as a parent, I should make my children aware of historical opportunities like this. Honestly, how often do you have a chance to be in the same room with someone who won a Nobel prize? How often do you have a chance to be in the same room with a former leader of another nation (ANY nation)?

Of course, my children are 7 and 4 and not yet interested in many current or historical events that do not revolve around them. I still may make them go--they can color quietly in the back and still be able to say that they were there.

In any case, you can view what's going on here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pardon?

We all have these days... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

All Hallow's Eve


Well, technically the Christians appropriated this one too. I wouldn't expect the schools to use Halloween as an opportunity for a history lesson, in any case. Posted by Picasa

Cheers!


I've been lamenting that I can't seem to finish a book in a timely manner but I read The Three-Martini Playdate in three days. Those of you who know me might guess why I finished this one so quickly over, say, something like "How to stimulate your child 24 hours a day!" 90% of the material in this book is common sense parenting that everyone already knows but provides good reminders with plenty of humor and even a few easy (that's key!) recipes! The illustrations are great and the helpful side-hints are priceless.

Sadly, Ms. Mellor does not suggest actually drinking 3 martinis each day but she does say that you should teach your children how to serve them when adults drop by your home around 5pm! She even suggests that they ask your guests "Olive or twist?" when they arrive, being helpful and making a cute literary joke at the same time.

It's light reading....like I said, you already know this stuff! I love the way she presents it all though--darling book!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005

Theme and Variations II

Do you remember when you were in school and studying different “units?” You know, your teacher had a theme for the whole week on her lesson plan. Maybe you were studying the life cycle of plants and each day you talked about a different element: sunshine (and maybe the solar system), water (maybe touch on weather), soil (and environmentalism). By the end of the week, you knew that you needed nutrients in the soil, clean water and plenty of light for your plant to grow and that healthy plant would contribute oxygen to the air that you breathe. Your teacher had the whole day planned out, each day.

I finally started reading The 3 Martini Playdate and found Mary P’s link to Anne Taintor all in the same week! I love it when a broader plan unfolds and things all mesh—like it was a planned lesson or something! I have not finished the book yet but expect to very soon!

I read a few pages this morning and then made myself get on the treadmill, thankful at least for this time to listen to “my music” as I have various Disney soundtracks playing in the car about 80% of the time. (I thank the good Lord that Disney has at least employed Phil Collins on many recent tracks so I can listen to them 40 times in a row without driving into a building).

After running and walking and still not getting anywhere, I came back upstairs and snuck in one more chapter. This one was aptly title, “Children’s Music: WHY?” This book has given me many “slap on the hand” moments as well as “slap in the head” times too. Of course! WHY?? My parents didn’t have a CD player in the car. We had a few Disney soundtracks ourselves back then (on LPs!!!) but those were not quite portable! We had to make do with what was on the radio or singing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” like this author.

I love music. Though I did not graduate with a major in music, I started off in that direction. I want my kids to love music. However, in succumbing to playing some of the tunes repeatedly, I had not considered the harm I’ve done to all of us until recognizing it on page 96.

In discussing “music with a moral” she explains that while there may be nothing wrong with telling your kids to brush their teeth…

…The messages are innocuous enough, but you are introducing your children to
prosaic, overly literal lyrics, coupled with dispirited, mostly lousy music. If
you are preparing them for a lifetime of listening to Top 40 pop hits, then you
will have given them the perfect start, as they will develop no discernible
musical taste.
But there is also a very real mental health danger to bad
music that is rarely mentioned: The melody and lyrics will get stuck on a
continual loop in one’s head, often for weeks at a time. Your child will be
humming the tune under his breath at all hours of the day, and you will
absentmindedly sing it while making coffee in the morning. What little sanity
you had left will slowly crumble; you will soon find yourself making
smiley-faced pancakes, collecting colorfully costumed teddy bears, and
decorating with plaid. You will begin to think that mother-daughter matching
outfits are really cute! Your friends will no longer drop by, because you offer
them healthful fruit snacks instead of a glass of wine, and they have to hear
about all the funny things your child said. Avoid bad music and you avoid an
insidious and downward descent into sheer blandness.


I had no idea that this woman had visited my house! I know I’ve been feeling mental illness creeping up but I did not attribute it to the music! It’s time to put the Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and Gershwin back into the car! I can’t forget Harry, either. I was so thrilled a few years ago to find that Harry Connick, Jr. had recorded an album of children’s songs. He included many of my old favorites, some of which were already on my daughter’s list too (the album came out when she had to watch the Wizard of Oz on a daily basis)—but they’re much more fun when Harry sings them! Not that I have my own schoolgirl crush on the man, I just like his music. Really. Just because his name pops up in my posts from time to time, you should not go jumping to conclusions.

Well, my week started off according to some vague plan. Now I’m distracted. Yep. I do remember when I was in school. I remember how my teacher tried to have us follow her schedule. This was the part of the day where I’d hear “Lory? Are we daydreaming again?”

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I've been trying all day to make this appear in the previous post but at least you can see it now! Posted by Picasa

Thought for the day

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about YOUR plans.

This is one of my favorite quotes. I was sure I'd found it in Bird by Bird but I just flipped through the thing and can't find it. Of course, I recall Anne Lamott as saying "tell Her about your plans" but the idea is the same!

As it turns out, from my extensive online search, this quote is attributed to Woody Allen. That sounds right. (Ms. Lamott quotes lots of other people in her book).

I repeat this quote to someone at least once a week. This being an especially odd week for some reason, I thought I'd share it with many of you at once.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Round and round she goes...

Track Wilma

I know this is not the most poignant question of the day, but why does the hurricane name list end with Wilma? I realize they recycle the lists every 6 years or so, and I'm sure everyone prays that we don't actually see 26 hurricanes; however, if you're going to make an alphabetical list, why not go all the way to the end? Is it just that Xavier, Yolanda and Zoe might be on the list every year? I'm sure we could add Xerxes, Yancey and Zach. Maybe that's it.

I hear if there is another one this year, they're going to start over with Greek names. Alpha would be the beginning of the list, obviously.

As far as the name of the current storm, I do wonder sometimes where they get their inspiration. Hopefully Wilma Rudolph was not the inspiration for putting “Wilma” onto the hurricane name list. Being strong, fast and able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds are fantastic qualities in an athlete but they’re not quite what you’d be hoping for in the case of a hurricane!!

It would have to have been something much worse than coming home late from bowling to get another famous Wilma into such a tizzy! Maybe that’s why this name made the list. Hurricane experts had to be thinking that if we’d get all the way to “W,” we’d be hoping the storm would have a slow, resigned “Oh, Fred!” quality to it.

WIL MAAAA!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ominous

I found this link at Mary P's blog and followed it, thinking it sounded like harmless fun.

Now, I'm not so sure...
You Are Changing Leaves

Pretty, but soon dead.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

I was reading an interview of an author a few weeks back. (Plenty of time has elapsed for me to forget just who I was reading about!) Anyway, the author was talking about the importance of reading many different books. I remember the comment that it was okay to put down a book without finishing it. The point being that you should expose yourself to various authors and ideas but don't waste your time with the ones you do not get anything from. I have trouble with this. (Well, I put them down all the time but keep claiming I will get back to them. This might explain the stagnant list of “books I’m reading now” to the left of this blog!) Even when I find that I just don’t like a book, I feel like I am not giving it a fair chance if I don’t read it through to the end. The last chapter could always be brilliant!

However, I have now been “reading” The Heart is a Lonely Hunter for over a year. I’ve had to start over because it had been so long I forgot some of what I’d read. I picked it up during our move last summer. It was sitting in the store with the big “Oprah’s Book Club” sticker on the front cover. I needed something else to read during our trip so this looked like a good choice. I could not get into it during the move so I put it aside, thinking I’d enjoy it more once we were settled in the house. Nope. I brought it with me when I flew with the kids to Florida last summer, thinking I’d read a few pages on the plane or in the evenings when the kids fell asleep. It didn’t happen. Then I left it at my parent’s for a month or so before asking them to send it back to me. I made it through a few more pages the other night but then picked up a new book at the library on Thursday and McCuller’s book is still lying on my night stand. (The book itself can’t be lonely. It is sitting there with the other books you see there on the left side of this page!)
The characters seem interesting. I love the details she has included. This seems to be a work of a truly observant person. However, I still have not made it beyond page 44.

Maybe life is too short to finish every book I pick up. However, I have this nagging feeling that this seems is an important book that I should want to read. Then again, that nagging feeling is just coming from Oprah. I received a degree in English without having read this book and I had not put it on my personal list of books that I really want to read.

There are important books in fiction and non-fiction that are calling for my attention. There are literary classics that everyone should read at least once that I still have not opened. I do not have time to read every book that I want to. Yet, being a successful product of our society, I feel like I need to at least read every book listed in “Oprah’s Book Club” list to be well read.

Perhaps I should put in a call to Dr. Phil. Obviously, this is not working for me.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

SIN. SACRIFICE. REDEMPTION.

Lots of novels incorporate all of the above. In the context of Hosseini’s novel, I had to give them capital letters.

I wanted to warn you that reading this novel is heart-breaking but that term is not strong enough. It is heart-shattering.

Many times, I wanted to put the book down and walk away so I would not have to witness what was coming next. In the end, I could not do it. These characters have so much at stake. You can’t just close the book in the middle and leave them where they are with only your bookmark to clutch.

Hosseini creates characters that we can cry for, and cry with, but also gives us a glimpse of a world far from ours. Hosseini doesn’t give you the nightly news account version, nor does he give you a map at the front of the book. He just grabs your hand and takes you into Afghanistan, whether you’re ready to go or not.

As chapter one opens, you see the date “December 2001” hovering over the first paragraph. Knowing it’s a novel about Afghanistan, and knowing that the date above was a three months after the tragedy that unfolded on our soil, I kept waiting for it to happen again on one of the pages. Occasionally, I’d stop and look back to check the date, just to make sure I hadn’t missed it. Admittedly, it was also a tactic to take a break from some of the intense chapters in this book. I don’t know if I was looking for a tragedy that I could “predict” or just hoping that there was some way we could avoid that one this time.

Then in happened. In one paragraph the twin towers came down, in the next the U.S. bombed Afghanistan and ordinary Americans in San Francisco Starbucks were discussing the towns that had been a big part of Amir’s life. I thought he handled this part perfectly. We witness enough in this novel and he knows that his readers have already witnessed 9/11 many times. We don’t need to watch it unfold again. He did manage to include the right details though.
One Tuesday morning last September, the Twin Towers came crumbling down and, overnight, the world changed. The American flag suddenly appeared everywhere, on the antennae of yellow cabs weaving around traffic, on the lapels of pedestrians walking the sidewalks in a steady stream, even on the grimy caps of San Francisco’s pan-handlers sitting beneath the awnings of small art galleries and open-fronted shops. One day I passed Edith, the homeless woman who plays the accordion every day on the corner of Sutter and Stockton, and spotted an American flag sticker on the accordion case at her feet.

Hosseini includes small details throughout the novel to make you feel like you are in the streets of Kabul or Peshawar with Amir. The pride in his country and its people shines throughout the story. A few sentences about the burst of American flags and national pride that erupted in the wake of 9/11 put me right back in my own country in 2001.

Afghanistan is a character in this book as well as the people but Amir and his family experience as much or more turbulence in their individual lives as the country faces with the Soviet and Taliban occupations. I do not, however, want to give the impression that the entire story is under a veil of tragedy. There are beautiful, bright moments of pure joy and love throughout as well. Our first trip into Kabul in the early 1970s is wonderful.

I am impressed by this writer and I recommend the book but with caution. The quote on the front cover from The New York Times Book Review simply says: “Powerful… Haunting.” That last word is quite accurate. I just finished the book today but have not been able to put it out of my mind for a few weeks now. (I did not have the time or the stamina to read this one in one sitting!) While I feel better now having seen the story through to its resolution, I will not be able to let go of these characters any time soon.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Our aspiring artist

My daughter brought a note home on Friday telling us that a local coffee shop would be displaying artwork by some of the students at her school for the next two weeks, complete with an opening “reception” this afternoon. Of course, she did not want to go and was very shy while we fawned over her work and talked with the teacher but I did catch a little gleam in her eye as we admired her (framed!) artwork on the wall of a busy coffee shop by the university. The owners also have children in her school and they teamed up with the school’s art teacher to put on this exhibit. We found a few other budding artists while we were there.

I am so thankful that there are teachers and members of the community who will come up with things like this to inspire and encourage these kids. My daughter has always loved coloring, painting and “crafts” but during the school year doesn’t do so much on her own at home anymore. Today, though she vehemently protested going anywhere near the coffee shop, she started on some new secret project in the basement the moment we got home. It’s amazing what a little outside encouragement can do for a person!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

We're back!

Well, we have returned from a few glorious days in Los Angeles.
Thanks so much to my Dad, who flew up and stayed with the kiddos--took them to school, Taekwondo and even Baskin Robbins--so we could go!

It was sunny, it was beautiful, it was expensive, it was L.A. It was great. Of course, it could have been anywhere--for me, it was enough of a vacation to know I could sleep as late as I liked and no matter where I went or what I did, no one would be calling "Mommy" except on the phone.

We stayed in downtown L.A. and found that we have already turned into small-town folk, but that's OK!
(Hubbie--I don't mind paying $20 for my entree but this is a garnish and me--Does that say $11 for a GLASS of wine?) I thought I knew what was what...I've worked in big office buildings in big cities and I thought I knew what to expect. What I forgot was that those experiences were a DECADE ago!

Ah well---it was relaxing (after drinking the $11/glass wine) and fun but it's good to be back home too. Now I just have to catch up with my blogging friends! ; )

Saturday, September 24, 2005

On the Road...well, in the air again!

I'm off! Dh has a conference in L.A. and my Dad is staying with the kiddos!
I'll be back Wednesday night and will catch up with you later in the week!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Please Pray II

I'm repeating my request from last month, with a few changes.

Please just pray. I was so worried a few weeks ago about what Katrina could do if it hit New Orleans. Then it hit. Things were torn up but it turned out so much better than I'd feared. All of those prayers worked! Then the levees could not hold out any longer.........and all hell broke loose.

My family (on my husband's side) all got out OK. Some homes are fine and others are destroyed. Those family members were able to get out and stay with our other family members---in Beaumont, TX and San Antonio, TX.

So please pray again. These cities aren't "bowls" but this is an enormous storm.
So many of my very dear friends from New Orleans moved a few years after I did. They all live in Houston now. Please keep them in your prayers.

For those friends who may read this: Come on up!!!! (I have lost touch with a few of you but y'all keep in touch with each other and one or two of you read this blog---come on up!!) My house, almost smack-dab in the middle of Kansas may not be the most exciting place you've seen in your life but I will promise you that no hurricane will hit central Kansas!!!! Come on up!!! I'll have a hurricane waiting for you---but it will be in a big glass with lots of rum!!! ; )

Just take a deep breath and hang in there. Last year, my family dealt with many hurricanes hitting Florida. This year, my in-laws and friends are dealing with the hurricanes hitting the Gulf. Next year, they've got to just head straight up to Greenland, right?

The Rewards of Being a SAHM

I am very lucky to be able to be a stay-at-home-mom (though we actually stay home less and less these days). I am honored to be able to assist my daughter with her homework, remind the children to actually use the bathroom and make sure all the little nooks and crannies get soaped and rinsed each night.

When my son did his impression of Linda Blair in The Exorcist last night, I was there to comfort him as well as clean him, the floor and in between all of the cushions of our leather couch. When he had a bad dream in the middle of the night, he came to get me, begged me to sleep in his bed and I did. Until my daughter called me five minutes later. Then he cried when he woke and realized I was in her room. I thought I was even handling the “double-duty” just fine until I literally ran into my husband in the dark hallway (he was trying to help but he scared the living daylights out of me in the process)!

So as my son piped up in the car again this morning “When will Daddy be home?” I gave the usual answer: “dinnertime.”

“When can Daddy stay home?”
(Hubbie leaves town twice a month for an executive MBA class so I thought this had something to do with the question.)

“Daddy will stay home all night tonight. He has another trip soon but he won’t be gone too long.”

“NO! When can Daddy STAY home? Like you?”

“Oh! Well, Daddy still goes to work each day. He works hard to make money so Mommy can stay home with you and we can have our nice house and good food to eat. Aren’t we lucky?”

“It isn’t fair for Daddy.”

“No, it isn’t. Boy, I sure am lucky to be able to stay with you two great kids though, huh?”

"Yes. It isn’t fair for Daddy. I want Daddy to stay home all day with us.”

“Maybe one day, kiddo. Maybe in a few years. But it isn’t so bad with Mom, right?”

“I am sick of you.”

*Sigh*

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Things that make you go hmmmm.....

I saw this at Miss New Orleans' blog.

My Favorite Quote from this Week

I have so much that I should be reading but I took some time to peruse the Sunday paper today. In the Books & Writing section of The Manhattan Mercury, where I always find a review of at least one book that I want to read, there was a review for the book New Orleans Stories. I’ve got a book or two about folktales and legends from the Crescent City but this is one I am certainly adding to my “must read” list.

If you’ve been reading this blog—you know I love that city. New Orleans is where I went to college, where I had my first taste of real freedom, where I met my future husband and where I had my first real, full-time job but those are a few of the thousands of reasons I love that city. Having said that, I spent a fair amount of time living there in fear (the city has a high crime rate) and anger (there is so much poverty and inherent racism in the city). If it is a love/hate relationship that I have with New Orleans however, the love outweighs everything else! There are so many characters that live there that just embody optimism, faith, love, caring and fun! I used to roll my eyes occasionally at the laissez-faire attitude of some of the people. So many of the problems affecting the city and its citizens seemed and seem to have real solutions. However, I’ve learned that taking a deep breath and going on with life is not necessarily giving up. That’s just another method of dealing with daily life. (Of course, daily life is always easier with frozen daiquiris in hand!)

I can ramble on all night about my observations and feelings about the city. However, I mentioned a quote and I know you are waiting with baited breath. I think it sums up New Orleans perfectly.

At the end of the review, the writer included this quote from Andre Codrescu:
The city can drive a sober-minded person insane, but it feeds the dreamer. It feeds the dreamer stories, music and food. Really great food.

There you have it. I have a dream. In it, New Orleans has risen again, the people all have not just shelter but homes, gumbo and po-boys and I am there.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I just had a great idea. I know it's here somewhere.

I would have thought that early Alzheimer's would be a little more fun, what with the whole forget all your worries aspect.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reason #32 for Being a Vegetarian

Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I'm halfway through my fishburger and I realize, Oh my God. I could be eating a slow learner. ~ Lynda Montgomery

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Friday, September 09, 2005

Daily Affirmations with Opehlia (Katrina’s little sister)

Katrina, Katrina, Katrina!
Everyone always paid attention to Katrina. I can do anything that she can do!

At least, I think I can. Here I come, Florida! Watch out!

Okay, wait. Let’s think…think…where do I want to go first? My cousins visited Cape Canaveral last year. Jacksonville is good but you hear things about Daytona…I think I’d like to see Daytona.

It is so hard to decide. I guess that’s why Katrina always gets all the attention. She didn’t waste time like me. She just started going and hit Florida right in the bottom! After that, she didn’t want to slow down so she just sped up and ran! My big sister could really get moving when she wanted to!

I know I am not that fast. I never did have the windspeeds that my sister did. Once you slow down a bit though, it gives you a chance to think about things. I like to consider my options. It’s nice here off of the coast of Florida. What if I just go ahead on in and hit Flagler Beach? Sure—it’s pretty, it’s historical—but once I get there, will I be sorry I did not head straight for Fernandina?

I’m just not ready yet. I had better head back out east for now. There is nothing wrong with that. There is no use rushing these things. I’ll just come back when I feel ready.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

God bless them, every one!

God bless both Mr. Stronach and the good people of south Florida!

In a previous post today, Mary commented and provided a link to the "simply put" blog. Within this blog, Q provided this link to the Globe and Mail. You should read both the blog and the link to the Globe and Mail.

Mr. Stronach knows what it is like to be poor and be without. Now he is neither and he is sharing generously with the people of Louisiana. Floridians know what it is like to deal with both hurricanes and relief agencies. They too are sharing their clothing and their time.

While it almost makes me wish I were Canadian, then I'd have to deal with those winters. (A few years in Alaska was quite enough, thank you very much!) So I feel very lucky to be able to say that I was born in south Florida!

Kudos to them all!

Gone with the Wind and Water

Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect.
~Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell was a wise woman. I wonder what Ms. Mitchell would say about the tragedies unfolding in the South. She was always interested in survivor stories and there will be many more that we have not heard yet.
(After all, tomorrow is another day. ~ Margaret Mitchell)

I should not compare General Sherman's march on Georgia to Katrina's sweep through the Gulf coast but the fires in New Orleans this week had me recalling some of the fiery scenes from Selznick's version. While Americans are no longer embroiled in a war with each other, our country is certainly divided over whether or not we should be involved in the war in Iraq.
What most people don't seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one. ~ Margaret Mitchell

I have no idea which individuals within the Army Corps of Engineers have worked on the New Orleans levee systems over the years so I don't know if some comments have turned out to be truly prophetic. The engineers that constructed the levees did a fine job of protecting the city as long as no really big storms came along.
The south produced statesmen and soldiers, planters and doctors and lawyers and poets, but certainly no engineers and mechanics. Let Yankees adopt such low callings. ~ Margaret Mitchell

I have tried to apply some of Ms. Mitchell's quotes to current events. However, some very sage advice that is even more applicable today was given to Ms. Mitchell by her mother:
“It’s happened before and it will happen again,” Maybelle sternly lectured the girl. “And when it does happen, everyone loses everything and everyone is equal. They all start again with nothing at all except the cunning of their brain and the strength of their hands.” ~ Mary Isabelle “Maybelle” Stephens Mitchell

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

I am not a good planner. I rarely have a plan. Knowing this however, I will not run for public office.

City officials knew the predicament New Orleans was and is in. This was not “news” for anyone in New Orleans.

However, as Katrina spun closer to the Crescent City, Mayor Nagin told everyone to leave town and that they would open the Superdome as a shelter of “last resort.” They would send buses around the city to pick up those who relied on public transportation and take them to the Superdome.

The term “last resort” should be used when all other strategies have been exhausted. I do not understand why part of the planning and evacuation strategies did not include a way to actually evacuate the people who had no other way out. There could have been a plan to put thousands of people on trains and buses and send them to Baton Rouge, Shreveport—ANYWHERE ELSE—before having to resort to the Superdome for a very last resort.

Storms turn at the last minute—often—which is a big reason so many people stayed. They were tired after evacuating several times within the past year, spending hours and hours in traffic, spending money on hotel rooms and gas, only to have storms turn and miss New Orleans.
So I understand why there were still so many people in their homes when the storm hit. Many waited to see if it would really come. Then it was either too late to leave (electricity would have been out so they could not fill their tanks at the pumps or get cash from an ATM). Some people even made it through the storm and were glad that they did not waste the time and money to evacuate—until the levees burst. They could not leave as fast as the water was rising.

I really do not blame government officials at any level for what happened to the people who made the decision to stay. My heart aches for those unfortunate people but their situation is not the fault of the president, the governor nor the mayor.

However, in the future, officials need to have plans in place to give people the information and options to get out when they have no other resources.

As my mother mentioned, when Andrew hit south Florida, people only had one way to go—north. When Katrina was heading for New Orleans, people could have gone west or north. Even heading east, which still would have taken them into Katrina’s path, would have gotten them out of the sinking city.

Now I have a plan. I will write the Great American novel. You all buy it. I’ll take the proceeds and buy a fleet of buses and maybe buy out Amtrak too. I’m gonna park ‘em all out in Elysian Fields and the next time there is a storm on the radar, I will personally go down and make sure they load each one with as many people as they can fit into each one.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mea Culpa II

I apologize.

I should learn to keep my mouth shut. I am not in New Orleans helping right now (though I am trying to find a good way to finagle that one) and I was not living there for the past few years so I did not have a chance to vote for the mayor. Or not.

So I have no right to criticize Mr. Nagin. I have done it anyway but I really don’t have the right.

To those I’ve angered, I must insist that I do not blame the mayor for what happened to New Orleans. I just think that as an elected LEADER, he could have shown a little more leadership and a little less finger-pointing. Telling stranded, hungry, dirty, sick people that they are not getting the help that they need because someone else is taking too long is not going to help them. Whether he believes it or not, it is not hard to get in front of those same cameras and say something like, “People of New Orleans, I am with you. We are strong people and this is a strong city. We will get through this.”

Maybe the crowds would not have believed it. Would it have hurt to try?
I am sure that they do believe the mayor when he says that he is “pissed.” Does that help them? Does it really rush the aid there any sooner?

However, I also do understand that he was in the same situation as his citizens. He had no power, no sleep, probably no clean water to take a shower and he desperately wants to get out of there too. He is the voice of the masses. That message needed to get out.

As far as the stranded citizens, having no power and few radios, they were likely not aware of what was being said anyway.

I understand he did not have the official, legal power to declare martial law as soon as he wanted to do it. However, I did not understand that until the issue was brought forth on the news so I doubt the crowds affected by the order would have understood whether or not it was valid.

Sheriff Harry Lee, in Jefferson Parish—in the suburbs of New Orleans, did declare martial law earlier and the violence was not even close to what it was in the city of New Orleans. I doubt he had the legal power either but he said it anyway and people listened.
(To be fair however, I only lived there for seven years but it seemed people always listened to Mr. Lee.)

I am not saying that martial law was needed simply because there was looting. With regard to the whole “looting” versus “finding” debate, the wording was unfortunate. Regardless of race, ethnicity or anything else—if I were stuck in the situation that these people were and I had to break a store window to get food or water for my kids, I would have done it with no hesitation whatsoever. I can even understand the stolen Cadillacs from an abandoned dealership—if those people thought those cars could get them out of the city.

I will stop rambling now. To Mr. Nagin and your supporters, I apologize if I have unfairly criticized the city government in New Orleans. It took MUCH too long for aid to arrive and the measures that should have been in place in such an event were not even close. If it makes anyone feel better—I am more than ready to continue to criticize state and federal agencies for this debacle too. There have been many opportunities in the last 40 years to work to prevent something like this. However, that’s for another post…

For now, I will stop looking back and I hope others can too. It is time to look forward and do what we can to help our families, friends and neighbors in the Gulf Coast states to recover and rebuild.

Theme and Variations

One of my favorite songs is titled, Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

If you change one word, it's also an article written by New Orleans native, Anne Rice. I've included the link below if you're interested in her article on losing her hometown.

http://www.wwltv.com/topstories/stories/wwl090305annerice.21ad697f.html


You can view the song lyrics here.


Hear a portion of the song, as recorded by Harry Connick Jr., here.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Happy News

Seems like uplifting stories are few and far between these days, so I had to share!

http://www.nola.com/newsflash/weather/index.ssf?/base/national-51/1125804544177912.xml&storylist=hurricane

Timely tip

God forbid you need to evacuate your home. I'm still having trouble fathoming the list of trials awaiting our friends, relatives and everyone else in the the Gulf coast states right now.

However, in case another disaster ever encroaches upon your hometown--I thought this was helpful advice. When we moved (from Alaska to Kansas) last year and more recently, for just weekend stays, we have booked all of our hotel stays online. Perfectly fine when everything else falls into line. You can even get great discounts.

However, reading this article from a newsman in New Orleans who was trying to get accomodations for his grandmother--looks like nothing beats good 'ol Ma Bell. After striking out a few times, more than once, he was able to find lodging online. He called to confirm though (good Boy Scout: be prepared) only to find out that the hotel's computers had been down for days and they had NO rooms even though the internet said they did! You could arrive, confirmation number in hand and be out of luck!

If any disaster causes you to seek shelter at higher ground in your future---call ahead to see if there really is room at the inn!

http://www.wwltv.com/gumbo/index.html

Then again--THIS is REALLY different!

You've got to check this out!
(Kris, thank you for sharing this)!

http://www.compfused.com/directlink/574/

Thursday, September 01, 2005

And now for something completely different...

I outlined the WHOLE thing! The WIP is moving along!

I have always wanted to be one of those writers who could outline the thing first, include plot twists, etc. then follow it to write each chapter.
I'm just not one of those people. I get an idea, write part of it out and can't figure out where it'll end up or I know the ending but filling in that middle stuff just doesn't work out right.

I've been playing around with this one now for well over a year and keep writing parts and pieces, planning to fit them in somewhere, somehow. Yesterday, however, I sat down to try to outline it again and I got the whole thing down! With details! For 13 chapters!!! Some people fall in love, some don't...a murder even popped up while I was typing! I had NO IDEA that was even coming!!

So it isn't ready to go out just yet but yesterday saw more progress than so many months before it, I just had to do a little dance!

In case you were looking for any evidence of a Higher Being--here you go! The good Lord finally decided this book should get written and I'm just so glad he's letting me help!

Thank you! Don't stop.

Thank you all for both your prayers and your kind comments. I know you've been seeing too much of this coverage on tv and internet already, so I don't mean to beat this into the ground but wanted to thank you for thinking of those in Louisiana as well as Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

We heard that my brother-in-law and his grandmother got out. However, no one has heard from them since. I know that communications are down, cell phones aren't working so no contact is not an indication of safety or lack thereof. However, please pray that these displaced families can reach other friends or family members soon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Please pray

Please continue to pray for the people of New Orleans. I added a comment to my last blog that at least it could have been so much worse. Now it is. Those levees were the only reason New Orleans could exist. Now they're gone. They can't pump the water out because there is nowhere to pump it to. Even if the water does recede sometime soon, it'll only take a thunderstorm to engulf things again without the levees.

Please just pray. As I said, most of our family is out. My brother-in-law and his 78-year-old grandmother are getting out now. They've been re-routed three times and cell phones aren't working well but my sister-in-law tells me he's out. I don't know how, I'm just thankful they're out.

Who knows when they'll get back in? We may have nieces and nephews up here to get them into school. I hope we do. They have some closer relatives in Texas but I just feel so helpless here. At least if we can get the kids here, or my husband's grandmother, I feel like that may help a little. They all have water in their homes. I can't do anything about that. I'm sitting here in my dry home, enjoying my air conditioning and my electricity and I feel so guilty.

If y'all have been to New Orleans, keep those pictures and those memories. This unique city will never be the same again.