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2 kids. Memories of Wolf and Boo. Many dear friends. Three siblings. Two parents. Samarra the crazy dog. The Player and Pi the Cat. I love you all!

Monday, January 31, 2011

The End of the River

I really did try to write every day in the River of Stones project, but I did not succeed.  First of all, getting up at 5:30 a.m. everyday turned out to be more of a committment than I could keep consistently.   Eighteen days this month, though, I sat at my table-desk with a journal and pen and wrote, describing ordinary objects in my life after looking at them in new ways and with full attention.  That was a joy.  I know I am looking at things more attentively in general after this project, and I plan to continue to write more in this way, as I once did, back when I actually wrote some short fiction.

When a river comes to an end it can be seamless, running smoothly into a larger river or even the sea.  That's how I'd like this month's River of Every-other-Day Stones to be for me.  I don't want it to end in a log-jam or a landslide that stagnates the water and overflows onto an unsuspecting cornfield, that smells with algae and pesticides.  No, I'm hoping it will flow, slowly and quietly to the next bend, where if I can keep my eyes and ears and nose open I might see something new or something old in a new way.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Play by Play

Sierra made a basket yesterday in the first of two games her team played.  It was the first basket she has made in a game.  I was proud of her, but she was focused on how the other girls don't pass to her.  I said, "rebound the ball and shoot it, then."  We will see how that strategy works for her next week.

Jeremiah only played the last 3 minutes of his game because the time was changed from 10 to 9 and I didn't get the new schedule.  Coach Tyler apparently tried to call us about 9 when he realized most of the kids' parents didn't get the new schedule but apparently that's the call I ignored when I looked at the phone and said "hmm, I don't know who that is so I'm not going to answer that."  Coach Tyler apparently did not leave a message so we strolled in at 5 minutes to 10.  Anyway, Jeremiah was calm about it, and Coach was calm about it, and I felt awful about it. 

I now have the new schedule.

Today the kids and I will go to church, then come home and catch up on homework etc. before we watch the NFL ProBowl game at 6:00.  I have never watched the ProBowl before, but Jeremiah wants to watch it so I'm game.  (I'm game...one of those sayings that would drive an ESL student to tears..what!  What?  What does this mean she is game?  What game is she?  Oh I am so confused, English is so stupidly!) 

What game would I be?  Today I think I would be Scrabble.  The kids would be Battleship.

I hope we don't lose all our Marbles!  Have a playful day!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Three Cs

Yesterday after school the kids launched into the longest, awfulest, loudest, mom-upsettingest battle in a long time. It started in the car on the way home and continued once we arrived.  It continued into supposed "time outs" in their respective rooms.  It took me about 30 minutes to figure out they were hungry.  Five minutes and two plates of food later peace was restored.  Whew! 

Once World War 3 was resolved with food, we settled into cleaning up their rooms a bit.  Sierra solved that problem by breaking the vacuum cleaner.  I wasn't able to fix that with food.  I can imagine the look on the Nybakke Repair Dude's face, though, when I take the hose for the small vacuum in to be unclogged.  Yes, I have been in there before with similar, um, technical difficulties.

Once the vacuum was successfully rendered inoperable we watched Remember the Titans.  The kids really enjoyed the film and the fact that it was based on a true story.  We talked about school integration and about
how people who think they hate someone they don't know will almost always change their minds when they spend enough time with that person or group of people.

I think we relearned something about what Jesus was teaching,  Share food, hang out with strangers, learn to love your supposed enemy.  Commensality, community, compassion. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Do You Kazoo?

Today is National Kazoo Day.  According to the Bizarre Holiday Website:

"Alabama Vest of Macon Georgia made the first Kazoo in the 1840's. Actually, he conceived the Kazoo, and had Thaddeus Von Clegg, a German clockmaster make it to his specifications. "

He conceived a kazoo?  Something in my biology education left that out of the realm of possibilities.  Perhaps old Alabama Vest of Macon Georgia was an extraterrestrial being! 
The Bizarre HolidayWebsite goes on to explain how to play a kazoo:
Kazoos are easy to play. Simply hum a tune into the kazoo, and you're an expert. Kazoos can be played solo, or in groups. It plays a great tune both ways.

Hum into the kazoo!  That's my kind of instrument.  Now when I'm caught humming I can say I'm practicing for my kazoo solo.  I think that's how I will audition at the Pearly Gates. 
St Peter:  Kim, why should we let you into Heaven?
Kim:  just listen to these  riffs. 
Then I will take out my kazoo (Note to self:  1.  Purchase kazoo.  2.  Put in Last Will and Testament to be buried with kazoo...) and I will play the song that will make St. Peter laugh and open the gates for me.
It's time to start looking for that song.  Of course just about anything played on a kazoo at the gates of Heaven will probably make St Peter laugh.  The idea of me showing up at the gates at all might even make him chuckle. 
I'd better plan to take some homemade hummus to bribe him, just in case.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hummers Anonymous

Lately it has been pointed out to me by several people that I hum a lot.  hum hum hummus hum.  The woman at the car dealership where I get the oil changed in my car.  Dad.  The Player to be Named Later.  My friend Lynn.  All have commented on my humming. 

According to Wikipedia humming can be a sign of happiness or of boredom.  I didn't realize it, but it is impossible to hum for more than a few seconds with your nose plugged.  I tried it (of course!) and it's true.  Try it, try it, and you may, try it and you may, I say!  Oh, wait that's green eggs and ham, silly me.

I don't know why I hum.  It's true I am content. And humming seems like a better thing to do than talk to myself, which I also do.  But usually when I am not content.  So it's a good thing that in the past few years I hum more than talk to myself.  Mmmm hmmmm.

If I were a bird this is what I guess I would be.  A fiesty hyper little hummingbird.  Better that than an albatross.

If I were a beer this is what I would be.   But not for breakfast, please!  That ale might taste good with hummus, though. 

If I were a vehicle, this is NOT what I would be.  I would be this:

at least in my dreams.  Mmmm Hmmmm!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Million Dollar Idea

Here is a product that I have been purchasing regularly for the past several months:

It's not for me (can't you see it says MEN on the label?)  It's for my son.  Who now, thanks to the miracle of modern chemistry, actually gets clean from hair to toenails in the shower.  He follows the instructions on the back for this product (combined shampoo+conditioner+bodywash) which begin simply enough, because after all it is for men.  The instructions begin by saying Get wet. 

Okay, women everywhere are laughing hysterically right now.  But men are thinking, oh, wouldn't it be great if I didn't actually have to get in the shower and get wet first?  I could just slap some on and go, and my (insert here either mom, wife, girlfriend, sister, the nuns at school) would not wrinkle up their noses and say "Did you shower today?  Ughh.")  But, no this product requires the man using the product to get wet first. 

Of course they might just pull over to the side of the road during a rainstorm and use it instead of getting in the shower. 

The Player to be Named Later and I had a million-dollar-idea about a product which would include not only shampoo+conditioner+bodywash, but might have other uses as well.  Top on the list was toothpaste, because imagine if you could just brush your teeth in the shower (or by the side of the road), how convenient that would be.  Also high on the list was Shower Cleanser.  The idea of Laxative came up but was rejected.  Not everyone needs that and it seemed at odds with the Shower Cleanser idea.  Things like Deoderant, Anti-Aging Botox Infusion, Carburator Cleaner, and Caffeine seemed like good ideas, too.

So, to review, here is what we have so far

Shampoo+Conditioner+Bodywash+Toothpaste+ShowerCleanser+Deoderant+WrinkleCream+CarMaintenance Products+CoffeeSubstitute

There were others, which I cannot recall at this moment.  So maybe my version would also have some Gingko Biloba thrown in.  Yes, now with Memory-Enhancers!  That would sell, for sure.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where Angels Fear to Tread

This year Spring Training begins February 27th for Los Cubbies!  So since the football season is over (yes, yes I know there is one game left, big deal) I can now start the countdown.  33 days until baseball!  Opening Day for the regular 2011 season is April first at Wrigley Field, against Pittsburgh.  April first?  Oh boy.  That reminds me of a place I once stayed out in California called the Fools Rush Inn.

This is the time of year when all seems possible for the Cubs.  In the middle of winter here we need a little hope that spring is coming soon.  In the hearts of Cubs fans everywhere spring will begin on February 27th this year.  That's good news.  It may be -5 outside that day but green leaves of wishful thinking will be sprouting in our forgiving minds.    We may have a snow day off from school and work that day, but we will be wearing our Cubs t-shirts around the house, even if we have to turn up the thermostat.  We will rush right in, forgiving again last year and the year before that...because it's finally "next year" and until opening day comes to an end, everyone is in first place.  Even the Cubs.

Monday, January 24, 2011

In Which I Vent My Spleen

The Bears lost.

They lost to Green Bay.

At home.

In the championship game.

That really pisses me off.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hot Diggety Dog!

Saturday in the very very early hours of the morning, The Player to Be Named Later arrived for another visit with the team.  This weekend he was subjected to the Sierra, Live and Uncensored Comedy Show in the car on the way to and from basketball practice and games.  Here's a short clip from her routine this week:

Sierra: [making various comments about skin, leading her mother the unknowing dupe to ask...]

Mom:  Hey, Sierra, what is the largest organ in our body?

Sierra:  The brain?

Mom:  No.

Sierra:  The bladder?

Mom:  No.

Sierra:  It's the weiner.

Mom:  No, it's your skin.

Sierra:  [chanting now]...it's the weiner, it's the weiner, it's...The   WEINER!

Jeremiah:  Sierra, shut up.

Sierra did not shut up.  The show continued every time we got in the car to travel.  Which, as I mentioned was from home to one grade school (Sierra's basketball practice) to Starbucks to another grade school (Jeremiah's basketball game) and finally, thankfully, to home.

Jeremiah's team did not win but played much better, and had a fabulous third quarter that, with a little luck, may be a preview of what the team will be playing like in a few weeks.  Good job Blue Team!

In the afternoon we ventured out again to Ewing Park for some sledding.  That was great fun and the comedy show in the car remained mostly G rated this time.  Another family was there sledding and we hung out together and they shared some of their sleds with us, including the kind of sled Sierra has been dreaming about since she saw one last summer.  So she got to ride an old wooden sled with metal runners and it was about the best part of her day I do believe.

If you want to see some cute dogs sledding without, well, er, a sled...click below and then go away for 30 seconds of commercials but come back in time to see man's best friends having some great winter fun.

Snow Dogs

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Time to Get Serious

Serious about what? you might be asking yourself, if you read this blog and don't live in Illinois.  About the big game tomorrow.  Packers at Bears.  Winner goes to the really big game:  Super Bowl.  Oh yeah!

Here is how I will feel if the Bears win:

Yes, thank you Mary and Geasis.

But if they lose, watch out:

Don't ever offer me cheddar cheese again!

Good luck Bears, we hope to be doing the Super Bowl Shuffle again in a few weeks!

Friday, January 21, 2011

O Pray for Me

This morning I was staring intently at a candle I have that has a picture of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe on the front.  But I wasn't staring intently at her picture.  You know the one:

I was instead staring at the back of the candle where the label has a prayer to be said to Mary, asking for protection for one's children.  What caught my attention, just below the prayer in Spanish and then in English, were these words:

ADVERTENCIA!  Para prevenir encendios nunca deja una vela encendida fuera de vista!  (etc.)

Okay, yes, a fire warning in Spanish and English as well.  Burn candle within sight.  Keep out of reach of children and pets.  Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. 

Here is my prayer to Mary:

Dear Mary, please don't let me start a fire with your candle.  Have mercy on my poor tired soul, worn out from trying to understand your loving example of being a virgin yet wife and mother all at once. Thank you for letting me grow up Protestant so I don't actually feel any guilt about any of that.   Help me to remember that I should not let the dog play with matches ever again.  Or drive the car, of course.  Lead me from the temptation to run with scissors.  Amen.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fair Weather Fowl

I saw a sliver of blue sky yesterday about noon.  It disappeared pretty quickly.  But what a lovely little break from the clouds and fog of the rest of the week.  We are promised some sunshine, though with very cold temperatures, tomorrow.  Hurrah for blue!

I like winter.  Just for the record.  Call me crazy.  (Nuts, wacko, insane.)  The only thing I don't like about winter is when it persists well into April.  So I do have my winter-lovin' limits, too.

Today is Penguin Awareness Day.   I always think of Antarctica when I think of penguins.  I think of March of the Penguins (the movie I had to leave in the middle because my kids were running around the theater like it was Chuck E Cheeses, then later saw at a drive-in theater south of Gibson City where no one cared if the kids were noisy)  Not all penguins live in winter-type weather, though.  The Galapagos Penguin, for example, is happy on the equator. Cute little guy, isn't he?

Here is another penguin that doesn't need winter weather:

He just needs his pal Chumley

I'm assuming Tennessee and Chumley don't live in Antarctica.  I mean, where would they shop for ties and hats if they did?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Synonym a Day Keeps the Blues Away

My parents headed back to Tennessee today.  They have been visiting us here in the frozen tundra for almost 3 weeks.  They have decided it's time to migrate home, south, to what they hope will be warmer temperatures and less snow.  We miss them already.  I pouted around for a while last night, then the kids decided to cheer me up by carrying Jeremiah's queen sized mattress down the stairs to the living room and jumping around wildly.  Then I got to forgot my woes by helping them carry it back up stairs.  Lucky me!

I forgot to mention yesterday that it was both Thesaurus Day (celebrating the birth of the Roget himself in 1779) and Winnie-the-Pooh Day (January 18th also being the birthday of A.A. Milne in 1882.)  Today, however, is another food day:  Popcorn Day.  'Scuse me while I whine about how popcorn has a day, caramel corn has another day (April 7th), popcorn actually has an entire month (October)...well, I can see the Popcorn Lobby is much more powerful than we ever suspected.  I think I will have to up my contribution this year to the Hummus PAC.  I encourage all of you to do the same.

I opened up Roget's Thesaurus to see what the synonyms of Pooh and of Popcorn might be.  Pooh has many including Pish!  Humbug!  Fiddlesticks!  But popcorn isn't even in the thesaurus.  Of course not. 

Hummus is listed, however, and has several synonyms as well:  Nectar.  Ambrosia.  Heaven-on-pita.  Oh Roget, thank you, thank you thank you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Day to Relax

Oh My Gosh.  The kids and I had a day where we had absolutely nothing we had to do.  It almost never happens.  It was fabulous.  We laid around in PJs and watched Despicable Me at least 3 times and Sierra and I both napped during the 3rd time through.  We played games.  We ate whenever and whatever we wanted.  (Breakfast at 10, breakfast food at dinner time, etc.)  We went out of the house together once to go to Ewing Park:

and then we drove through McDonalds for the kids to get whatever they wanted for lunch. (Though I did put some limits on sizes.) 

Wolf and I also left the house for some short walks.  I made a rhubarb pie for Dad which I will be giving him this morning.  Maybe he will eat it for breakfast!  This time I actually added the optional orange zest in the recipe in the most-loved-beat-up cookbook in the entire world.

Orange about to be zested:
Cookbook a la Velveteen Rabbit:

Sometimes I think I should get a new copy of this cookbook, but clearly all it needs is one big rubberband, and/or possibly a lot of duct tape.

In the evening the kids both said, "This was the best day ever."   Yes, little people, it was.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Player to Be Named Later Arrives for a Visit

I missed two days of blogging.  Someone at church actually complained to me about that.  Thank you! 

I am back with a series of lame excuses.  Do you want to hear them?  What?  No?  You want what?  The truth.    Okay then:  Here's why I didn't blog this weekend:
photo by Miss Sierra
The poor guy was vetted by my book group on Wednesday night via speaker phone.  Met my parents this weekend.  Sat through two kids basketball games including one in which I got my blood pressure up to about 200/150.  Drove some ungodly number of hours to visit us.  My dog licked his foot.  He had to share the apple pie I made with my dad.  And yet he still wants to play for our team.   The manager of the team is pretty convinced he will be a good influence on all the other players.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Two Perfect Tens and a Thirty-Three

Both kids have had their first basketball practices and both have their, unfortunately, identical team shirts.  This year both kids ended up with light blue jerseys and both are Number 10.  How did THAT happen?  They are just about the same size, so now I can look forward to Saturday mornings before their games:   "That's MY shirt...no that's MY shirt...."  (jinx).

But it's also kind of cool that they have the same number this year.  And it's a perfect 10.  Yes, yes they are.  Even when things go wildly strange, like yesterday morning when Jeremiah apparently woke up at 3:30 a.m. hungry and excited about his upcoming basketball practice, and did not go back to bed but instead ate just about anything with sugar in it he could find.  He then proceeded to go through my high school yearbooks and find every embarrassing picture of me he could find, and then some.

For example, he found the picture from my senior year when I was on the girl's varsity badmitton team.  As if there were a junior varsity team.  Ha.  I was not a perfect 10, but number 33.  And I was very very bad.  I only made the team because there were 8 spots, 9 girls went out for the team, and the girl that got cut had some kind of physical and mental disability.  (I can't remember, but I'm sure the coach might have considered cutting me instead.)  I only went out for the team so I could hang out more with my friend Peg.  

And then, there was the picture of the FHA...Future Homemakers of America.  Wait, I wasn't in FHA!  But there in the year book, was my name on the list for the girl in row 2 next to Nancy Haney (another unlikely candidate for FHA but life is stranger than fiction).  I looked more carefully at the photo:  oh, yes, of course, another case of Ellen Wilson and me being confused.  Or rather about other people being confused as to our identities.  That happened in school and even as recently as our last class reunion.  I think it would have been okay to have my name on that list if they had identified her as that girl on the badmitton team. 

Here are some High School Clubs that I would have joined if they had existed:

Future Pie Bakers
Girls who Like to Sit Around the House and Read Books
Hummus Anonymous, of course (though in high school I didn't even know a garbanzo from a lima bean.)
Kids who are Secretly Confused about Religion
 and last but not least...
Late Bloomers of America

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Book Group's Book Group

My book group rocks.  We are a group of 7 or 6 (depending on if Sweet P-Dub is in Illinois or California at the time.)  We are smart.  We are funny.  We are caring.  We love each other.  We watch out for each other.  We laugh really hard. Sometimes we cry.  One member pretended to snore last night when we were trying to pick a book to read for our next meeting.  (See, we protect each other's confidentiality, too.)  We hug.  Did I mention that we rock?

Here is the other thing:  We All Read and Actually Discuss the Book.*

Sometimes Kathy sends out questions to get our brains going a few days before the meeting.  She did this for us this time, when we met last night to discuss Abide With Me. 

Because we all care about each other and because some of us don't get together except for book group, we usually spend a while chatting first.  Then I get a little antsy and say, "Let's talk about the book now."  Because I always want to hear what everyone has to say about the book.

* Ok, one time we met twice to discuss the same book because not enough people had read it the first time and as I recall we didn't even discuss it the second time.  I myself could not finish the book.  It was a memoir and I cannot even recall the title.  Though I'm pretty sure I did read at least the title.  What did we do at the meeting when we did not discuss the book?  We ate hamburgers, of course.

Every woman needs a group like this.  I am so so so grateful for my book group.  I am a groupie of my own book group.  That is a great thing indeed!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wooden Floors

Dad finished the flooring project in the guest room yesterday.  It looks fantastic!  Here is proof of that:

I hope to get the furniture and "stuff" back in the room by the end of the week.  Then on to the next projects for Dad!

Sierra started basketball practice last night, also played on a new wooden floor at one of the local grade schools.  She is one of the two tallest girls on the team, and as such will be positioned right under the basket for the one offensive play and the one defensive position they learned last night.   The coach is the mother of four kids and a teacher for kids with learning disabilities and behavior problems.  She warned us parents that she gets loud at the games, but only in a positive way.  All positive.  "I'm all about the positive,"  she said positively.  I could see that in practice.  Mistakes corrected with gentle humor, like a fun Simon Says game. 

The team had 8 girls last night, and their name is The Dream Team.   Sierra's number is 10.  She is pretty excited about the first game on Saturday. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Well, Excuuuuuse Meee!

(Title by Steve Martin, thanks Steve!)

I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. like always.  I turned the alarm off like always.  But then I put my head back on the pillow.  At 6:19 I happened to notice that I was not yet out of bed.  Dang, how did that happen?

So I have not yet done my River of Stones journaling nor gotten very far on my blog.  It's time to wake The Girl up.  'Scuse me, while I kiss the sky...

Ok, hot chocolate delivery complete.  The Boy is awake, too, earlier than he likes or needs to be awake.  And man, is he grumpy about it.  Whew! 

The kids were counting on a snow day today, but no early morning call arrived to give them that gift.  Instead, I look out the window and see that, again, my neighbors to both the immediate north and south have parked their trucks in the street close to my driveway so that when the snow plow comes through it will have to swing out into the street  and I will be left with an extra 4-5 feet to shovel at the end of my driveway.   Both of these neighbors have 2 car garages and 2-car-wide driveways that are not full.  But there must be something irresistably appealing about that spot right in front of my house.

I feel really grumpy about it.  Whew!

Sierra has had a substitute teacher the past couple of days and she does not like that.  The sub obviously adores Sierra, sending home nice notes on homework about her.  But Sierra is not easily won over, and she is wondering now if she can get me to keep her home today since she is pretty sure that her teacher is still sick. She does not want to go to school until her teacher is back. I'm been enlisted to check Sierra's temperature in that endeavor.  'Scuse me while I foil that attempt...


Now it is time to move our day forward, with love and grace and grumpiness and snow shoveling and sad faces and laughter and some music from the kids' new favorite radio station WBNQ 101.5 which was my favorite radio station when I was in high school.  I think a little music and dancing in the kitchen is next on the agenda. 

'Scuse me...

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Balm on Sunday Evening

Last night I was putting Sierra to bed and talking about something that made me feel sad.  She told me some things that make her feel sad, too.  Then I looked over at the bookcase on the head of her bed and saw this.  (Scanned with permission, to be returned to it's rightful place this morning.)

I asked her to tell me what it meant to her.   She read to me:  God loves everyone.  Jesus loves everyone.  Friends care.   Family cares.  (Geasis is the new Jesus, I think.)

I don't know when she drew it and hung it on the head of her bed.  But she did.  And it soothed my soul.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A New Insult is Born

If you are a regular gentle-reader of this blog, you probably think the title indicates a story about kids and sibling teasing gone bad.  But no, this story is about me, my mom, my dad, and some people who I hope do not read this blog.

Mom went to the funeral of a high-school friend this week.  Mom and Dad went to the same high school, are from the same small town (Vermont, Illinois population 801 as you may recall from last year's story about the Road to Bernadotte).  They know all the same people from that area.  Sometimes there conversations about people from Vermont, Ipava, Table Grove, Industry, Macomb, and Astoria that seem, to the uninitiated, to be in another language.  Like last night:

Mom:  I saw Luann's granddaughters, they are so big now, they are both in college...[etc...]
Dad:  Remember when they were down at the lake and [etc...]
the conversation continued and they were talking about more people I don't know when I heard the following:
Mom:  Yes, and you know that woman was a real a**h***, well, she's a  ___________.

now here is where I got confused.   In that blank I heard a word I'd never heard before.  I thought to myself, Self, How did you grow up and never hear that swear-word before.  The word I thought I'd never heard before sounded like "whore-whittle."  Ok, I thought, what could that mean?  Is it the same as a**h***?  Or worse?  Or just some girl that ran around with lots of boys in high school?  Or what? 

I admit that I felt kind of stupid, here I am a grown woman with 2 kids and my parents still know swear-words I've never heard before.  So I didn't say "what does that mean?"  Because after all I do have some pride.  Some. 

I waited for clues in the conversation.  Dad repeated the word.  Mom said it again, too, but I wasn't getting any indication of what that word could mean.  I didn't think I'd find it in my big red dictionary, and I didn't see how I could just open it up without them finding out I didn't know what whore-whittle meant.

Then Dad said something about someone who had married a whore-whittle.  Finally I couldn't stand it anymore.  I said, "what is a whore-whittle?"

As it turns out, the word is Horweddel, a family name.  Not an insult at all.  Well, at least not yesterday.  But as of today WW is my new favorite swear word.  I still don't know the exact definition.  But remember, you read it here first!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Things We Do For Love

Today I will be spending 4 hours at the Normal Public Library with the rest of the NCC Steering Committee during the marathon kick-off start-of-the-year what-have-we-gotten-ourselves-into-now first meeting of 2011.   One new member was smart and said he had to go to a chess tournament.  We offered to change the day.  Chess tournament that day.  As a matter of face, chess tournament every Saturday of the month.  Smart.  Except he forgot that rule of committees that states When a Member Is Not Present He/She Will Automatically Be Assigned the Most Odious Tasks That No One Else Wants To Do.  So how smart is it to miss the meeting, really?

Another not-very-smart thing to do is to offer to take on the odious-est of tasks on a volunteer basis.  That would be me, the next church treasurer.  Holy moly, what was I thinking?  I didn't think it would be such a big deal until I saw the beaming relief-laden smile on the previous treasurer's face when the end of 2010 rolled around and she saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  

And on a related note, my dad is going to watch my 2 kids and Nikki's daughter today during the meeting.  They will be at Francisco's house where there is a pool table, a Wii, and apparently a lot of jello with whipped cream in the fridge.  The kids are going to have a great time, no doubt about it.  And with access to all the church funds, I will be able to pay to get the jello stains removed from the pool table!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Magic with Wood and Plastic and Music

There were at least two projects underway at the Tingley household last night.  Dad was finishing up one last row of laminate in the guest room.  After dinner I did the dishes then called up to see if he needed another pair of hands...

Already Got Them!  he answered. 

Well by golly he did.   So I went on my merry way and found the other project underway in the living room:

Sierra was creating a lego chair ornament that can see out one side of the head rest, I guess.  I don't know exactly.  So far no angels or leprechauns have appeared to sit on the chair, but I'm sure that isn't out of the realm of possibilities for today.  At this point it seems like nothing is impossible when she starts creating something.

Yesterday on the way to school, I happened to catch a look in the rearview mirror of an expression on Jeremiah's face that I wish I could capture on film and keep forever.  A song from 1975 was on the radio and it was a silly song you may recall that started out with background voices chanting "Oog-a-chaka -oog-a-ooga-ooga-chaka" over and over just before the sweet love song lyrics break in.  Quite a goofy combination.  I started singing along to the radio because of course I know all the lyrics to all the songs that were popular in 1975, and he got that look a kid gets that says "my mom is really funny but I am almost too old to laugh at her so I will grin in spite of myself and look at her knowing that she knows this is one of the last times I will laugh so easily at her when she tries to crack me up."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Interesting Holiday Combinations

I slept a little later than I had planned to sleep this morning. Not much, just enough to set my blog time back a bit and make me feel that perhaps I'd better turn to the Bizarre and Wacky Holiday website for inspiration to get me rolling.  Much to my amazement there are two holidays listed for today that, in my mind, should never be in close proximity. 

1.  Bean Day
2.  Cuddle Up Day.

Enough said about that, I think.

Of course as January 6th, it is also Epiphany, the day the magi arrived to bring the baby Jesus his gifts of fava beans, Bean-o, and some Pampers Baby Wipes.  Or gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  We aren't exactly sure.  Some Christian groups celebrate Epiphany as the anniversary of Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan.  So as you can see there is a lot of room for interpretation.  Yup.

I do like that word epiphany.  "A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.  A spiritual event in which the essence of a given object of manifestation appears to the subject, as in a sudden flash of recognition."  (from that big ole red dictionary.)   I think of that as seeing through the ordinariness of any object/person/dog and seeing the divine which is always there at the center.  I think of epiphany as a falling away of the blinders and seeing clearly.  It isn't that the divine manifests itself briefly, it's just that our ability to see is (usually) brief.  Otherwise we would just melt away and not be able to balance our checkbooks or make toast for breakfast.  So back to earth, gentle readers, to care tenderly for all the divine beings around you today.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Grass is Greener on My Side

Last night I sat down with the kids and watched Field of Dreams with them from beginning to end.  Here is the good news, from their standpoint:  Mom didn't cry.  (Well,  not in front of them, jeez.  I snuck off to the bathroom to blow my nose and wipe my eyes.)  When I told Sierra I wanted to read that book to them some day, she asked "Does it have any bad words in it?"  She, too, has an Inquiring Mind.

I think it probably does have some bad words in it.  The movie does.  And when the character Ray describes his days at Berkeley and says "I smoked some grass,"  my kids said "What?  WHAT?  Why did he smoke grass?"   So I got to explain what that meant.  But they weren't very curious about it once they learned what that was.  They know that smoking is bad for you, whether the tabbacky is wacky or not.
They didn't ask me if I had ever done that.  The Inquiring Minds have not yet latched onto the fact that their mama was once young and might have done anything more interesting than raise children.  That's just fine for now, just fine.

Meanwhile, the floor project is well underway.  It's gonna be beautiful.  The pie is gone.  I ate the last little sliver last night.  It was really good, if I do say so myself.    I do, I say so, myself.

Today the little people head back to school after 2 weeks of vacation.  They have had a nice break, but they are ready.  Jeremiah admits he is ready.  Sierra pretends that she is not.  Why can't you Home School us?  she asked yesterday.  In my mind, I threw out some phrases like "recipe for disaster" and "hell on Earth" but what I said was, "well, I have to work to pay the bills so I can't be home to home school you."  She offered to give me some money to help with the bills.  It's nice to know she wants to spend more time together. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Upstairs, Downstairs

Upstairs:  Yesterday the new floor project got started in earnest.  Furniture, books, and lamps were moved out of the guest room.  Carpet and padding were ripped up and put out for the garbage truck (yes, this week I remembered!).  Wood was purchased and carried into the house.  Here's my home repair hero at work:

Dad is happiest when he can go home at the end of a day of work like this and know there is rhubarb pie waiting for him!  Though yesterday he said he thought he needed some Sugar Cane in the afternoon.  He said that because he and Mom and I had gone to see Some Like It Hot at the Normal Theater on Sunday evening.  Here is Sugar Cane from that movie, with her ukelele, in case you have forgotten:

Downstairs:  In the afternoon I came downstairs and found my kids watching Field of Dreams, one of my favorite baseball movies.  I'd rented it to watch with Jeremiah over the weekend but we had not seen it yet.  What amazed me was that Sierra loved it.  She was fascinated by the story line, the magic of the field, the saving grace of imagination in the film.  When she is a little older I will read Shoeless Joe to her, the beautiful novel by Ray Kinsella on which the film is based.   

Sometimes I complain about how fast the kids are growing up, but when I see them loving a film that I have loved as an adult, I cherish these kinds of moments just as much as I was astonished hearing their first words or watching them go off to school on their first day. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

So Far A Little Stream of Pebbles

I read about the River of Stones writing project in Kathy's blog on Saturday and started think about participating in it.  My biggest question was "when would I make the time?"  I knew it would have to be each day at the same time.  I knew I would write long-hand in a journal.  I knew I would work on description, since that is one area I struggle with when I am writing.  I knew the time sitting quietly and focusing on something to describe would be good for me.

I did not want to get up earlier in the morning, but as it turns out that is my best, and perhaps, my only choice.  It's my best time to write.  It's the only time I can (usually) count on quiet and solitude.  Even Wolf is asleep at 5:30.

After 2 days of writing (the project is 31 days) I feel like I can put the badge on my blog:

I don't know if I will end up with a river of stones, a stream of pebbles, or just a little pile of dust.  Or some kind of boulder that dams up the flow.  But just like I said yesterday about this year, So Far, So Good!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Two thousand and eleven..so far, so good

Having my parents in town is great.  I went shopping with both parents yesterday. First Mom and I went to "the Jewel" ... why is it The Jewel?  when it is not The Krogers or The Schnucks?  Inquiring minds yada yada yada.

We went to get a rotisserie chicken for lunch and left with $70 worth of groceries, mostly mine.  Hey, stuff was on sale!  And then I remembered needing to feed the kids this week which is becoming more and more costly as Sierra in particular right now seems to require food every minute of the day just to keep her creativity intact and to build new inches of height at an alarming rate.

Dad and I went to Borders.  I had a couple of coupons (50% off one item...I got Barbara Kingsolver's book Lacuna, out in paperback now.  Hey book group?) and I also needed one of those ridiculous 5-column wall calendars that helps me keep track of everyone's activities.  I put it up and started writing in Jeremiah's basketball games for the next 2 months. 

Later in the day Mom and Dad took the kids and went to Francisco's where they are staying since he is out of the country this month.  I attempted to take a nap.  First Dad called to tell me that Mom had found the missing checkbook (a cause of worry to everyone since there was no way to contact the bank until Monday, which as it turns out was good since the checkbook was...in with her toothbrush where I guess it was hiding?)  The my good buddy Nikki called with some excuse to chat which I happily did since I haven't seen her in a couple of weeks.  Finally, Dad called again. 

Kim, I have a problem.  I cannot find a corkscrew here.

Now that IS a problem.  I told him to look next to Mom's toothbrush, but that wasn't right.  Oh, yes, that one drawer in the kitchen...Ahh, problem solved.

After the pseudo-nap and some coffee, I went to see a former-patient-turned-friend named Lynn.  She invited me over to play Scrabble.  I knew she would win.  But she didn't.  But only because we never got around to playing Scrabble.  There was jewelry to finish making (a necklace that matched the earrings she gave me earlier this year when she was still my patient.) 

And there was food, a lot of really good food, to eat.  We had some kind of fabulous sausage, cheese, crackers, spinach dip, some kind of cheese dip, tortilla chips, and...HUMMUS.  Tribe brand,  Spicy Red Pepper hummus.  And then a cheesecake.   Whew. 

But the real reason that we didn't get around to playing Scrabble was that Lynn had some great stories to tell me.  And I got her permission to tell the story of what John Prine said to her one night a long time ago when she met him and they were sitting around playing guitar and talking after a concert.  He said to her:

Look at you, smirking, with that Neiman-Marcus mouth of yours...

Well, what did you think John Prine would say if he was flirting...Oh, you have such pretty eyes?  Hell, no.

So, Scrabble will wait for another day.  And as Lynn seems to know a lot of mid-western singer-songwriter types, I am hopeful for more good stories and also more hummus at our next visit.

Back at the ranch, Sierra was whipping everyone's behind in Wii Bowling.  Dad had eaten a quarter of the rhubarb pie and was drinking some wine and watching Mom and the kids bowling.  Everyone looked pretty content.  Everyone was content.  It was a great start to a new year. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Two Thousand and Eleven

I got the kids to sleep around 11 last night, letting them watch movies until even Alvin and The Chipmunks couldn't keep them awake.  I talked on the phone to the player-to-be-named-later, and then I, too, went to sleep in the New Year.  I think this is the first year I've been awake to see the New Year Arrive since I usually fall asleep earlier than midnight.

We had tornado warnings and an apparent near-flood in my home yesterday.  I was at work and my cell phone rang and Caller ID said "MOM" so I answered it.

Where is your toilet plunger?  she asked.

I answered and then we hung up.  A few hours later I heard the weather report of tornados just to the north and west of us, so I called.  No answer.  I called a few minutes later.  No answer.  I called a third time.  No answer. 

By then the weather had settled down and I was finished seeing my patients.  I headed home and no one was here but there was also no sign of a flood.  This time she answered the phone.  Apparently all was well, and a friend from out-of-state had called to let them know she had seen severe weather reports for this area, so they knew what was going on.

Wait a minute!  She answered the phone when Luann called but not when I called?  Hmmm, we will have to have a little talk about that now won't we?

Well it is great to have my folks here.  Today I think we will be measuring the guest room for the laminate flooring project.  Tomorrow we will go pick out some flooring.  I may have to invite the book group to go with me to pick out the right kind.  OR just call Sweet-P-Dub to ask her opinion, since I went with her recommendation in the bathroom wall color election. (Hi Sweet P!!  Happy New Year!!!)

I think I may have to make a pie later, too.