Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tea and such

Gordon bought me a new tea kettle today. Anxious to try it out, I made tea after supper and we sat around the table chatting about the day. The conversations went south and we found ourselves talking about farts (aka ghost-plunks). The girls told the longest ones they'd heard and the likes. I was quite into the conversation, hearing about the un-couth behaviour of someone other than myself. We were having such a good conversation. I turned to see if Gordon was enjoying it as much as me. When our eyes met, he said, "I see you're preparing these girls well to dine with the Queen."

Labels: ,

Cindy Margolis

I learned this morning that Cindy Margolis has decided to show her buff in Playboy. For the record, until I read this highly intelligent article, I didn't know who our dear Cindy was. Now I know she is the girl who pointed at refrigerators on the Price is Right. I've done my share of pointing at refrigerators and I've never considered honoring Playboy with my presence. And for the record, I have good reasons for believing that Playboy has never seen anything remotely similar to me. All those dolls on Playboy (the very few I've seen) look amazingly similar to me. Perverse men don't seem to like much variety. Change the color of hair, skin tone, position, but never change the general body shape. How predictable is that? Boring.

Our Cindy is posing for "good reason." Some of the profits will help couples struggling with infertility. I am sure you'll agree this is mighty nice of her. Now to share an excerpt of her interview.

The question is "Why now?"

The humble answer is:
"My decision to do Playboy is literally 20 years in the making. I've always prided myself in keeping my clothes on, being the girl next door. I've had the number-one downloaded (celebrity) Web site, and for years I've been known as the "Queen of the Internet" in the "Guinness Book of World Records," America Online, Yahoo!, (all while) keeping my clothes on, and I've been very proud of that. Every couple years when Mr. Hefner would call, I would very graciously decline, because my mom would kill me, and I thought it was more mysterious keeping my clothes on.

"But, this year, when I got the call from Mr. Hefner, it was my 40th birthday. So I thought, "Wow -- at 40, they still want me?" And I thought it's almost an inspiration -- like a "you go, girl" moment. I feel empowered that you can be married and have three children and still be sexy and confident and look great.

"My mom would have killed me before, but I'm an adult woman now, and I'm ready to show the world that you can have it all at 40 -- be fabulous, 40, and pose for Playboy."

Cindy and I have a number of things in common:
1. We've both pointed at refrigerators.
2. We are both married.
3. We both have 3 young children.
4. We both have prided ourselves in keeping our clothes on.
5. We both turned 40 this year.
6. We both have moms capable of homicide.

But here's what separates Cindy from Val. When Mr Hefner called Cindy in her 4oth year, she chose to bare all. When he calls me, I will decline. Cindy's mom may have come around. My mom has not.



I thought maybe, just maybe, some of you Southerners might like to see what my backyard looks like today. I don't think "winter" is really here. I think this will melt and we'll have a bit more fall.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 30, 2006

Brain Cramps

I just received these from Gordon. Who knows if theses quotes are legitimate or not; some are so ridiculous, that it's hard to believe they were ever said. Legitimate or not, a few are really funny. Hope you can smile while reading them.

(On September 17, 1994, Alabama's Heather Whitestone was selected as Miss America 1995.) Question: If you could live forever, would you and why? Answer: "I would not live forever, because we should not live forever,because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever," --Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest.

"Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over theworld, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff." --Mariah Carey

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life,"--Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.

"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body,"--Winston Bennett,
University of Kentucky basketball forward.

"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"--Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC.

"I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president."--Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents.

"That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it,"--A congressional candidate in Texas.

"Half this game is ninety percent mental."--Philadelphia Phillies manager, Danny Ozark

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities
in our air and water that are doing it."--Al Gore, Vice President

"I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix." --Dan Quayle

"We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?" --Lee Iacocca

"The word "genius" isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like
Norman Einstein."--Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback &sports analyst.

"We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of
people."--Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor.

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."--Bill Clinton, President

"We are ready for an unforeseen event that may or may not occur."--Al Gore, VP

"Traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas."--Keppel Enderbery

"If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there'll be a record."--Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman

Labels: ,

Friday, October 27, 2006


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gordon's Birthday

Tomorrow is my Gordo's birthday. We had our birthday celebration tonight, as he is in a course all weekend. Gordon is so sweet to make every birthday for me very special. Birthdays weren't all that special in my family of origin and I feel a little guilty for my inclination to make them no big deal. But I try.

We had his mother over for birthday supper. He chose taco salad for the menu and I made an apple desert.

I wrote a poem for the girls to read to him. I am no poet, and I know it. Therefore, I felt like quite the acheiver getting this to rhyme. It won't win any awards, but it goes like this:

On this your 44th Birthday
To honor you in a special way,
We’d love to tell you o’er and o’er
Of your many traits that we adore.

We can’t list them completely,
Because we’d all get sleepy.
But let us name a few,
To thank you for all you do.

Do not be disappointed
With our gifts so disjointed.
Our gifts may be small,
But our love is very tall.

Do you think that's corny? Well, your Mamma wears combat boots!!

His big gift was a Space Pen. Does that sound like a lame gift? Let me assure you it's not lame. It happens to be an expensive writing devise designed for astronaunts. Now when Gordon is investigating accidents in 30 degrees below zero, his pen will not "freeze up." Matter of fact, he could go to the moon and his pen would write. He could boil and write me a love note. He could go to the depths of the sea, and his pen would still write. This pen is no small potato.

We also got him a gift card to see "Fighter Pilot" at the IMAX. That is right up his alley.

Now about those small disjointed gifts. They were little things with notes attached to them.

A bag of mints - "Thank you for your commitMINT"
A package of bacon - "Thank you for the work you do to bring home the BACON"
A SKOR bar - "No matter how you slice it, you SKOR big with us."
A box of SMARTIES - "You're the SMARTest daddy we know."
A package of EXCEL gum - "You are an EXCELlent daddy and husband."

Happy Birthday Noogie Boy. I love you.

(When I call Gordon Noogie Boy, he returns the favor by calling me Pudgy Girl. Gosh, I love this guy.)

Labels: , , ,

Excaped Convict

In my childhood home, we never locked the doors when we left the house or took the keys out of the ignition. (I saw people lock their doors on tv and longed for that life. It looked so classy to me.)

We lived about an hour from a prison in Oklahoma. Once I saw on the news that an excaped convict was on the loose and everyone in the vacinity should keep their doors looked and take their keys out of their car.

I have always been a vigilant person in regards to protecting those I love and, more importantly, I also thrived on credit and appreciation. Upon hearing of possible impending danger, -- wanting badly to be the hero of the family, -- I dutifully locked the doors.

When Mama came home from work I opened the door for her, carefully watching for evil lurking in the bushes. I told her she needed to bring her car keys inside because of the convict who might take her car.

Without missing a beat, my mom said, "If there is a criminal who wants my car, I'd rather him just take it instead of coming in here to get the keys."

Labels: , ,

Thursday Thirteen

13 things about me that you may not know (probably don't know) and that may raise lots of questions in your mind. Once again, I am a very nice person, and my background isn't as shady as these things may suggest. Be amused.

1. I've had 7 surgeries. Not bad for a healthy person, eh?
2. I had a warrant out for my arrest in Wyoming.
3. I have been threatened with jail two times; once in my hometown, once in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
5. I smuggled Bibles into Vietnam and China.
6. Oh yeah, I was threatened with jail in China too,-- the officer was carrying an AK47. I got caught smuggling Bibles.
7.I've thrown-up in many public places and not always in a bathroom.
8. The muscle that controls throw-up doesn't work on me.
9. The most scared I've ever been was when Stephanie nearly drown when she was 4 or 5. I didn't sleep for 2 nights, reliving it and thinking "what if."
10. I miscarried a baby at 12 weeks.
11. US Customs always treats me like a criminal.
12. I've been threatened with deportation by both my countries.
13. I've been quoted in an "ornpae" magazine. ("Ornpae" is pig latin for po--. I didn't want to use that word lest it lead perverts to this site.) My quote was not "ornpae."

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Re-Made Bathroom

When Kent and I lived on Hastey Street, we got a man to redo our master bathroom. He was a "professional," yet he was "out of work." He made a royal mess out of it and charged us 2 1/2 times his estimate. To complicate things, the man was a member of our church and a preacher-on-the-side. All the signs were there, but we didn't see them. We thought we would all be winners in this arrangement.

Let's call the professional Ralph. He was about 5 feet tall, at best 5.2.

Ralph worked on our bathroom for days. We looked at it daily, looking forward to it coming together and being a bathroom we could be proud of. We got less and less optimistic as the days went by. I was ready to throw the man a bone and be done with him when I saw he had textured the walls by putting sand in the paint. It was shaping up hardly better than it had been before he started.

The day came when he was "finished." We paid him more than double his estimate, but were very unhappy with his work. Trying to be "christian" about the whole thing, we didn't even mention our dissatisfaction. Kent and I were both striving to have a good attitude. We didn't talk about Ralph, but Oh, how we wanted to!

The bathroom was an expensive mess. The shower was the most disappointing thing. The shower door was directly in front of the nozzle. We had 2 options when showering; we could 1) get in, shut the door, hold our breath and try to be absorbed by the wall till the ice cold water warmed up, or we could 2) open the shower door, turn on the water, then slam the door really quickly. Then, when the water warmed up, open the shower door-- spraying the floor yet again-- and jump in aerobic style as quickly as possible to minimize the pool of water on the bathroom floor. They were poor options, but we chose to spray the bathroom floor with every shower.

Lest you think that was the only problem with the shower, let me assure you it was not. As I mentioned, Ralph was around 5 feet tall. And, the height of the shower nozzle was perfectly suited for someone 5 feet tall. Kent and I were forced to do back bends or knee squats to wash our hair. We were seriously unimpressed, but we tried very hard to be "christian," striving to rise above every urge to complain.

One day Kent came out of the bathroom wearing a disgusted look. "You know, every time I take a shower I wish I had Ralph, like this," he said bitterly as he clamped his hand as if squeezing a set of balls.

Our ban on talking about Ralph was suddenly lifted. I roared with laughter. It felt good to be set free to complain, unrestrained.

Labels: , ,

A New Band

My girls have started a band. Their first "hit" was written by Hannah and goes like this:

I got shot down by an airplane,
I got killed in World War 2.
I got buried alive in a ce-me-tery,

My heart was pierced by love,
My arm was cut off too.
My dog got hit by a car on Main Street,

It's a snazzy little tune. I suggested the title "Lucky One," they thought that was a little plain.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Big Bump

Tonight we were driving at top speed when we hit what felt like a speed bump on the freeway. I'm talking serious bump. We all screamed like we feared the van was about to disintegrate underneath us. When the shrieks ceased, Hannah groaned, "Wooooe. Crotch Hurter."


Thursday, October 19, 2006

One way to know your kids are growing up

I got out of the shower and came to my bedroom for the regular getting dressed routine.
Problem: I can't find a hair brush. I went to Deborah's room, no hairbrush. Hannah's room, no hairbrush. I don't bother going to Rachael's room, I know for sure her hairbrush is with her.

Every year my girls get a hairbrush in their Christmas stocking. We should have buckoos of brushes. I cannot find one.

When did they start needing brushes at school? It's 11 in the morning and my hair is still not brushed. Can you imagine how lovely that makes me?

This evening I'll look in Deborah's backpack and find 3 hairbrushes. In Hannah's I'll find 2. I'm betting on it. Meanwhile, I hope no visitors stop by today.


Are you ignoring me?

I had the nicest revelation during the night. I took Bear outside at 4 this morning. With the blast of cold air came the recollection that someone had asked to trade shifts at work. So, here I am at home on a Thursday. There's no better place to be. I will have a busy day as there are lots of things that need my attention.

Last night Gordon was on the computer and subsequently ignoring me as I asked him some questions. It reminded me of something my sister Diane did years ago and from it was born a saying that oft gets repeated among the adults in my (extended) family.

Diane was telling a story and it happened to be one of those moments when everyone was distracted, leaving her pretty much talking into space without anyone listening. She continued to talk and the rest of us continued to be caught up in our own thoughts. Diane brought us back to her conversation by saying softly, "So then I went out and killed someone."

Suddenly she had our total attention. It worked like a charm and it still works. Last night when Gordon was ignoring me, I softly said - just like Diane taught me- "So then I went out and killed someone." He turned around and said, "Sorry about that, what were you saying?"

You should try it. If it doesn't work, you did something wrong, because it always works for me.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

It's Wednesday evening as I write this, but I know I won't be around tomorrow, so here she goes.

13 things I do every day:

- drink 2 mugs of coffee
- compost scraps, peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells
- work an advanced level Suduko after supper (I just had to tell my level)
- pack lunches for Gordon and the girls
- put junk mail in recycling
- assess the girls' rooms for tidiness; if they aren't tidy, they get docked a quarter
- pray for the girls before they leave for school and at bedtime when I tuck them in
- pet the dogs
- put pj's on as early as possible
- look in the mirror and recognize anew that things just keep going downhill
- tell Gordon and the girls I love them
- read CNN headlines
- turn off lights others left on

Everyone desires to know and be known, so they say. Do you?


Lucy and Bear

My two furry babies, Lucy and Bear.

Lucy is an amazing dog and a poet. Here is her poem:

I am a D-O-L-L.

I have eyes of autumn brown.

I have ears of softest silk.

My teeth are like ivory.

My legs like tree trunks.

Yes, I am a D-O-L-L.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Have you ever wanted to go to the washroom alone? Did I hear you correctly? You always go to the washroom alone?

It's been a long time since I went to the bathroom alone - except at work. I always go alone at work. Here's the deal; use to it was kids tagging along, now it's dogs. But admittedly, there's no one to blame but myself. I always make it worth my doggies' time to attend to washroom duties with me. I scratch them and pat them and talk lovingly to them. On the days I work, Lucy meets me in the bathroom with a throw toy and I procede to throw her toy down the hall and she fetches it and we do it again.

Lucy will act like a lady if a shut her out of the bathroom. She just lies down on the other side of the door and waits. Bear on the other hand wails like he's being tortured. But that doesn't happen often. He's a swift as a mouse and when I head toward the washroom, he isn't half a step behind me. On occasion, I've beat him and shut the door behind me. I take a shower while he yelps and puts his paws under the door desperately trying to grab me.


Handsome Man

This morning I received a load of pictures of the best looking man from my hometown. I've always had a weakness for handsome men and this one has an extra special place in my heart.

This my son Christopher and his girlfriend.
Thanks Tonya. You made my day.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Practical Joke

I was talking to my sister Diane last night and briefly spoke of a story that happened when her ex-husband Herbie and I worked together. In our office everyone was fun-loving, laughed lots, pulled stunts on each other, and covered each other's back. It was a Christian organization too although there were plenty of times when we weren't very Christian. (Please believe I am different now. I am a very nice and kind person.) Another piece of background is that this story takes place in small town, USA. And for ease of telling the story, I will call the antagonist Roger and change several of the details. I will use quotes to make the read easier, but I'm actually quoting the gist of the story as of course, I don't remember the particular details of who said what when. With that lengthy, un-smooth set up, here's my story.....

Secretary Cindy brought me a stack of mail and said, "I put a letter on top that you'll really appreciate. Roger in Oregon is upset again." She smiled and walked out. I quickly picked up the letter to read him chew me out for the way our office operated -- particularly how we were terrible at communicating. He made reference to having seen Herbie over the weekend and how Herbie had been unhelpful in solving the problem. According to Roger, we were a bunch of lousy workers, inept in whatever we set our hands to. I do not remember the source of his intense feelings, but I very well recall that we thought HE was the problem, not us. Typical workplace, eh?

I replied to Roger's letter with a professional, detailed letter. I made 2 copies. One was signed, "Sincerely, Valerie" and the other was signed, "Cordially and Communicatively up yours in Christ's love, Valerie." I'll let you decide which was the "real" letter and what was the "joke" letter. I was very tickled with myself, thinking Herbie would have a cow when he got to the bottom of my letter to my closing. In keeping with the plan, Cindy placed the "joke" letter on Herbie's desk and the real letter in an envelope for the day's mail.

Meanwhile, I took the latter part of the afternoon off for a haircut.

About halfway through my haircut, the beautician told me there was a phone call for me. It was Herbie on the other end of the line, talking very seriously. "That was a good letter you wrote to Roger, but Cindy tells me there's another copy that didn't say Sincerely."

Disappointed that my joke didn't come off as intended, but totally unaware of any grave danger, I answered, "Yeah, it's on your desk."

He countered, very seriously, "No, the one on my desk said 'Sincerely.'"

Frantic, I said, "Ask Cindy, she knows all about it."

"Valerie, Cindy's right here and we can't find the other letter," he solemnly said.

"Has today's mail gone out?"

"Yeah, about an hour ago," he answered.

"Oh Jesus, help me," I said. "I'm on my way."

I took the beautician's apron off and told her I'd be in touch, ran to my car, and sped to the office.
I ran into the office to find them going through all the stacks of papers on all of our desks. "Did you find it?" I blurted.

They had not.

Frantic, - sure my job is on the line, I yelled, "Phone Tommy at the post office. Tell him not to let our mail go out." I ran to my car and sped to the post office.

I ran into the post office and with no greeting whatsoever spewed, "Has today's mail gone out?"
Yes, it had left about 20 minutes prior.

"Where's it headed?" I snapped.

Tommy told me it was headed to Hot Springs but would be stopping at post offices along the way. This was hopeful.

I told him there was something on that truck that COULD NOT go and I had to find that truck. I begged for his help and he spoke compassionately as he told me the truck guy wouldn't let me have our mailbag even if I caught the truck.

Given my circumstances, I wasn't too proud to beg. I was determined to find the truck and do whatever grovelling was needed to get our mailbag back. "Tommy where would the truck be now? Can you find out where the truck is? Call someone and see if they'll wait for me." I was willing to go through every envelope in the state if they would let me.

Tommy used words like "impossible," telling me there was no way to catch the truck, because trucks are assigned different zip codes to pick up every day. That sounded very lame and stupid, but I persisted. "Isn't there an office somewhere that tells the truck where to go? Tommy, I'll go anywhere." I was near tears, very motivated, and probably quite near a stroke. Again, "Tommy please, isn't there someone you can call?, I pleaded.

Tommy started to snicker. Undeterred, I begged again. He started laughing and said, "Valerie, it's all a joke." I didn't get it. He told me again that "the letter" hadn't gone out. I still didn't get it. If this was a joke, I couldn't fathom Tommy at the post office being involved. If my friends at work were playing a joke on me, they wouldn't involve Tommy, would they?

With his assurance that my nasty letter hadn't been mailed, I left the post office in a daze. Afraid that Tommy and I were not on "the same page," I drove back to the office. It seemed way too unlikely for Tommy to be involved in a joke on me. When I walked in the office everyone was howling. Someone was on the phone with Tommy when I walked in. They were all very impressed with how well the joke on me had gone. Much better than even they had imagined when they concocted it.

I've heard of lots of practical jokes, but I've never heard of one more "successful" than that one was.

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 13, 2006

Rudy Plunks, Patty Pokes

Tonight dear Rachael is at a slumber party; her first slumber party with the girls from her youth group. Not to be left out, Hannah and Deborah are having their own party downstairs. I gave them $5 (I know, I'm cheap) and let them buy snacks at Safeway. They bought pop and chips. (Darn, I was wanting chocolate.)

So through these events, I've recollected about some of my kids quirky ways and I've smiled. I wonder if all kids make up words. My kids have a few words in their vocabulary that they've made up, and as far as I know, they don't even know they made them up. Sure, these words may exist elsewhere, but my girls have given new meaning to them.

Plunk. To my girls, plunk means poop, specifically animal poop. This started when Rachael and Hannah were very young, probably 2 and 3. I suspect, but cannot prove, that it began when they heard an animal pooh and it went "kerplunk" when it hit the ground. It's not unusual to hear one say something akin to, "That's so rude. Someone didn't pick up their dog's plunk."

Rudy. Rudy is a good little word that is a regular part of our family's vocabulary. Again it was born out of Rachael and Hannah's pre-school days. Rudy is a rude place, thing, or person. Usually it's a rude person. "Did you see what he did? He was such a rudy!"

When Deborah was born, an older lady from church took Rachael and Hannah to McDonalds for a little treat. Miss Leona was all smiles when she brought them home. She told me 3-year-old Hannah froze when they got inside McDonalds. Hannah looked around with a scowl and then informed Miss Leona that, "This McDonalds is a rudy." Of course Miss Leona hadn't a clue what she meant and asked Hannah to elaborate. "It doesn't have a slide." That made it a rudy.

Patty. What do you call the area at the top of your thighs, just below your buttocks? Is there a word to define that area? Well in our family, that is a patty, and I have no idea why or how that came to be. Several times my girls have wailed, "you hit me on my patty," after they were disciplined. In other words, "you missed my bum and got my upper thigh."

And a lady is definitely immodest if her patty is showing. That would also make her a rudy.

Poka Party. Staying up late, eating snack foods, maybe watching a movie or playing games; sounds like a slumber party, eh? But my girls think that's a poka party. Again, I don't know where that originated, but it's a regular expression with them.

Matter of fact, that is exactly what got me going on this tonight. Hannah and Deborah are currently enjoying their own little Poka Party downstairs. They're watching WILD, drinking cream soda, and eating chips.

If they'd asked, I would have suggested chocolate.

Labels: , , ,

Judy Blume

Judy Blume is a children's writer with many books to her credit. I didn't know she wrote some adult books until just now. Her book Wifey, was not well received by many because it was not in keeping with her juvenile books. I've never read it so I don't know what's in it, but I can appreciate her dilemma. She was rebuked and chided for Wifey.

Among the letters she received was this verse that I thought was very funny.

You’re rude and crude
Depraved and lewd
You’re caught in a moral crunch
You’re vexed, perplexed
And oversexed
So when can we have lunch?

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Random Thoughts from the Week

1. Joy is being thankful.
2. I've never seen my daddy cry.
3. Every new season is my favorite.
4. I know 12 ladies with breast cancer.
5. Joy - Thanksgiving - Worship; might they be synonymous?
6. Connotation is everything. Vulva and Volvo, so alike yet one's an ugly word and one's not.
7. A Maritime accent is similar to a Southern accent.
8. My present Bible has no baby scribble anywhere in it.
9. Who does an unbeliever thank?
10. Why do braces cost so much money?
11. I hope Joanne and Baby Sela like the blanket I made.
12. Why does my ear hurt and why can't the doctor find anything wrong with it?
13. Who reads this blog anyway?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thoughtful Deborah

When I tucked Deborah in tonight, I wanted to admonish her to quit sucking her thumb. It became pretty important to me when I learned the cost of braces.

I began my little speech by telling her that Rachael's braces were going to cost $6000. She interrupted me by saying with great sincerity, "I can give you my money."

Isn't that sweet?


Rachael is Growing Up

Yesterday Rachael had her first visit to the orthodontist. I learned that braces are about twice as much as I was expecting. My mind was blown when I was told $6000. I wanted to say, "Forget the gold treatment, do you have a platinum plan?" So here we go.... Braces. She is so excited to get braces.

She is in a Jr High Youth Group. Two nights a week she goes to church, and loves it. Wednesday is Girls' Bible Study and Friday is a fun-time. One of the special things about Youth Group, is that I let her ride in the front seat. Because of air bags, she never gets to do that -- at least never before joining Youth Group. Little bits of freedom mean a lot to her.

For Youth Group, she tries to shed her little girl-hood, and be a youth instead. She wears clear lip gloss and brushes her hair all the way to church. She also wears lotion to smell good. She even took a purse tonight. Oh my little girl is growing up.

When I picked her up tonight, she came out the door and skipped all the way to the van. My little "youth" is still a little girl deep down.


Mama's Juice Glasses

When I was growing up, on more than a couple occasions, my mom tried to bring some class to our country kitchen. Once she bought juice glasses. They were amber brown with orange and white flowers on them. They were tiny -- about the size of a pee cup at the doctor's office. We thought they were ridiculously small and were truly puzzled when we asked, "Why’d you buy these little glasses?" Mama responded to our ignorant question with a "class" we were unfamiliar with. "They're juice glasses; juice glasses are small."

With the new short glasses she bought orange juice too. The glasses we could take or leave; the juice we were thrilled with.

The first morning we had our juice glasses, I walked into the kitchen and the table was set for breakfast. Each place setting was crowned with a pristine little glass of orange juice. Mama was smiling with pride and pleasure. I was uneasy because things were more formal than I was accustomed to. Mama eased my discomfort with a warm invitation to sit down. Michael, my adolescent brother, wasn't afraid or intimidated by the new juice glasses; he gulped his orange juice down in one drink. I instinctively knew this was "wrong", so I nervously waited for the fallout. But there was no fall-out. Mama saw his empty glass, smiled and went to the counter to get the pitcher. She returned to the table, still smiling warmly, and refilled his juice. Michael returned a broad smile.

This is just like on TV, I realized. Quickly, I gulped down my juice, as did my sister Stacie and my dad. Still oozing warmth and affection, (like I do when I'm proud of the atmosphere I've created in my home) Mama got the pitcher and gently refilled our juice glasses. "When you drink juice, you're supposed to sip it," she tenderly chided. She took her juice glass and demonstrated "sipping" for us.

Wanting to please our mom and wanting more juice, we each practiced sipping. We delicately brought the glass to our lips, trying to go in slow motion like Mama said it was supposed to be done. We knew we were supposed to take "just a sip," but we all failed. We took drinks. We emptied our glasses.

She refilled our glasses, but now her smile was waning. We drank it down and all three of us looked at Mama, expecting her to again smile lovingly and refill our glasses. This time she didn't smile. "Hear now," she rebuked. "Hear now" is what Mama said when she was frustrated. I never knew what it literally meant, but in our family it meant anything from "this is ridiculous" to "ok, now I'm really mad."

We momentarily mourned the loss of our "new mom". She refilled our tiny glasses, this time emptying the pitcher.

We ate in silence. The warmth, the smiles, the tenderness were gone. My mom had tried to reform us, to help us be more "classy," but she had failed. Now she was irritable and edgy.

The juice glasses didn't survive long in our house. One by one they got broken. No great loss, we weren't attached to them. We were a jelly jar family and that wasn't going to change.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy. - Jacques Maritain

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. People ask me often if my countries celebrate Thanksgiving the same way. Yes, they do, but I have to say it's a bigger deal in the US.

In my ideal world, our family celebrates both. Admittedly though, it's unusual for Gordon to have both days off, making it near impossible to celebrate both. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and because of that, I do make a bit of effort to pull of two celebrations.

One of our traditions, and one that I look forward to from year to year, is our prayer of thanks before we eat. We go around the table thanking God for the things we are most thankful for. It's simple, but very meaningful.

Every Thanksgiving, I set aside some time to write out things I'm most thankful for. I could write for hours about those things, but I only want to write about one, and it will cover a lot of ground.

I am thankful I'm a child of God. Because I'm a child of God, I cannot lose. Everything that has happened, is happening, will happen is for my good. With each passing day this mantra becomes more solidified in my heart: All things are working for my good. (Romans 8:28) If I really believe this, which I do, how could I be anything less than grateful? It's a spiritual principle that never ceases to awe me.

I'm thankful for all the redemption I've experienced in my life. Again and again I've seen God use the horrible messes in my life to bring me into greater truth and deeper faith. And in many of my personal tragedies I can see clearly in hindsight that God was protecting me from me. Just to name a few:

- Pregnant before marriage at 18. It was to that point the most devastating thing in my life. Now I look back and think "thank You God," because I realize many things I was probably spared. I was on a dangerous path. Through pregnancy, God barricaded that path and I'm so thankful He did. (Bonus, I got Stephanie). But it was one of the darkest, hardest times of my life.

- Bipolar Disorder. Oh how I hate depression, but it's been another unlikely tool God has used in my life to transform me. My weakness and fragility keeps me from taking on too much, which in turn keeps me totally engaged in being a wife, mother, and homemaker. This combination has made for a rich home life. Without the illness, I'd be more likely to neglect my family for something much less important. (To those for whom that was news, medication keeps me on the level).

- Financial problems. From them spawned my immense gratitude for what we have and the recognition that I could have much less and still have way more than needed. Through financial problems I came to see my own materialistic way of thinking and how that mindset is so opposed to gratitude.

- Losing custody of Stephanie and Christopher takes the prize for the most horrific time in my life. I still cannot understand, much less articulate what all happened in the spirit world through that whole process, nor what continues to happen. But again, I see I was protected from myself and Stephanie and Christopher were too. Through that wilderness journey, I lost all control of my life and learned a new dependence on God.

Years ago at a Billy Graham Crusade, pointing to her wheelchair, quadriplegic Joni Erickson Tada, told the crowd, "This is the prison that set me free." That so resonates with me. Losing Stephanie and Christopher, by far the hardest thing ever in my life, was the prison that set me free. God totally broke me and remade me a new person.

- Through all of the above trials, my ugly propensity of pride and arrogance have been weakened. And I admit a humble life is much easier than a proud one.

So today, I again recognize how thankful I am for every thing I've listed above. They were all used to teach me another element of who God is and how much He loves me. He will stop at nothing to bring me closer to Him. Rich Mullins said, "it's the reckless raging fury, that they call the love of God." His love can indeed look like a reckless raging fury. But it's love nonetheless.

PostScript: I had Gordon read this before I posted it to confirm that I wasn't too out on the table. After reading it he said with a grin, "Well if you said too much, it's just one more thing God will use to teach you something." I hope that made you smile.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today."(Chinese proverb)


Four Religious Truths

It is important for those of all faiths to recognize these four religious truths:

1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's chosen people

2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian World.

4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Hannah and Ferrets

My 10-year-old Hannah has her future mapped out. She is going to university to become a librarian. Then she is going to get married and live in a tall apartment building. She will drive a PT Cruiser. In the evenings, after the day job at the library, she will give art lessons and dog training lessons. Sounds like a good life, eh?

Last week the ferret society called to interview me as that is what they do before allowing one of their ferrets to be adopted. Hannah, as you may recall was in the market for a ferret, and was harassing the society. Finally they called me to conduct the interview and plan for an in-home assessment. Kind of intense, don't you agree? I was thinking through the interview, "It's a ferret for goodness sake, not a child."

Well as our interview progressed, I learned things about ferrets that the books from the library had neglected to tell us.

Tip off question #1: "Are you prepared to spend $60 a month for ferret food?" Hello? That's more than my dogs, cat, fish, and hamsters eat collectively. So she preceded to inform me that ferrets need SPECIAL food and nothing but SPECIAL food would do. I knew I'd throw the carnivorous ferret an occasional hunk of meat, so with no intention at all of spending $60/month for ferret food, but assuming the gist of the question was really if I planned to feed him, I answered yes.

Tip off question #2, and about 25 minutes into the interview: "Are you prepared to spend a minimum of $2500 in vet bills over the course of the next 7 years for your ferret? Hummm, let me think about this; do you have a really sick ferret you're wanting to give our family? I didn't ask that, but I thought it. Turns out ferrets are susceptible to cancers and many other sad maladies. Whereupon learning this, I politely told her to kiss off. Not really, I politely told her that there was no way I could make that kind of commitment. She was gracious and understood my position.

Ferret Society Interview Lady and I said our goodbyes. Hannah had been right beside me throughout the whole interview. I told her what the lady had said about ferrets being such expensive animals to own. After my explaining what all I'd learned I ended it with, "So Hannah, I think when you're older, one night when you're not teaching art, you and the hubby need to hop in the PT Cruiser and go and buy yourselves a ferret, because I just can't afford one."

She cried. I held her. I again told her, "maybe when you're grown..." I was impressed with her astute money sense. Through her tears she said, "What a foolish way to spend money."

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Things I love about fall:

1) the colors
2) the smell of decaying and decomposing matter
3) crisp mornings
4) bringing out the flannel pajamas
5) back to school
6) apple pies
7) fresh vegetables
8) fall decor; pumpkins, ghords, Indian corn
9) the crunch of leaves
10) shorter days
11) candy corn
12) warmer clothes
13) the return of soups and chili


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


For those who don't know, Stephanie had a miscarriage. She had a rough weekend, but she's doing better now. She and I were talking yesterday and one of those stupid Valerie stories came to mind. (How appropriate that it's Herbie's birthday today. Should he ever read this, Happy Birthday Herbie). What a colorful life we'd all lead if we wrote down the stupid things we've done and shared them with each other.

Well again, this story took place years ago...

There was a time when I was a committed Republican. It was a presidential election year and Herbie, Diane, and I were immersing ourselves in politics and consequently revealing how much we didn't know. Shudder!

We decided to get involved in the Polk County Republican party. For some reason, I was late for my first meeting. (Strike 1.) To my chagrin, there was but one chair left in the room and it was on the front row. (Strike 2.) Fortunately, Herbie was right next to that chair and that took a bit of the sting out of my embarrassment. At least I would be beside someone I knew.

The chairman of the meeting walked back and forth at the front of the room and with every step a little fart snuck out. Already nervous because of my tardiness and sitting on the front row, when his chorus of farts began, I had to work extraordinarily hard to keep from giggling. I was extremely uptight trying not to laugh. I very badly wanted to appear intelligent for this new political persona I was trying to create. Therefore I looked studiously at the wall at the front of the room knowing it would be to my demise should I make eye contact with anyone.

Herbie nudged my arm with a clipboard, but I was determined to make no eye contact. I took the clipboard and seeing the names written on the sheet of paper, I quickly signed my name as a record of my attendance and placed the clipboard on the table nearby.

The meeting continued and the farting chairman announced it was time to vote on the vacant offices. To my absolute horror, he picked up the clipboard that I'd placed on the table and proceeded to read the names of those who were running for a position on the Polk County Republican Party Committee. The attendance sheet I'd hastily signed was not a record of attendance after all, but rather a list of vacancies and nominations for their filling. I had nominated myself to be the director of publicity. (Yes, that would be Strike 3, if you are counting.)

I let out an enormous gasp and Herbie started laughing. He'd watched me sign the sheet and was waiting anxiously for my enlightenment. When I gasped, he couldn't contain his laughter. Near hysterics, I listened as the chairman read who I was running against. For the life of me, I do not know why I didn't shout out, "I thought I was signing an attendance sheet."

My trying to figure a way out of this little nightmare was interrupted when the chairman with gas asked me to stand and introduce myself. I stood and amazingly enough, I did it with some measure of grace. The gentleman I was running against did the same. (I'm guessing he was nominated by someone other than himself.)

The ballots were passed as I was trying to make myself die with sheer willpower. I was unsuccessful.

The ballot counters returned in short order to disclose the winners.

I won.

Labels: , , ,

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time in a land far away, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess happened upon a frog as she sat contemplating ecological issues on the shores of an unpolluted pond in a verdant meadow near her castle. The frog hopped into the princess' lap and said: " Elegant Lady, I was once a handsome prince until an evil witch cast a spell upon me. One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young prince that I am. Then, my sweet, we can marry and set up housekeeping in your castle with my mother, where you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so."

That night, as the princess dined sumptuously on lightly sauteed frog legs seasoned in a white wine and onion cream sauce, she chuckled and thought to herself: I don't freakin think so.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Deborah's note

Today our little Bear is at "the cutter." Poor little guy. I had to have him at the neutering joint at 7:30. He was shaking, I don't know if it was his nerves or the cold. It was kind of pitiful.

The girls got their allowance a couple days ago. They live for allowance day and Dollarama. After their Dollarama trip, Deborah had some money left over. She seems to find left over money tormenting. She must spend it or get rid of it.

This morning I found $1.77 on my dresser. On top of the money was this note: "Dear Mom and Dad I Brang you this muny cuz I dont think I need my alowins. Thanck you."

I smiled and took the money to her piggy bank. Why can she not stand "saving" it? I wish I knew.

Labels: ,

A Memory

Years ago...

My husband and I were celebrating our 2nd or 3rd anniversary. It was in August, coinciding with the Polk County Rodeo. As with everyone in Mena, when celebrating or eating out, we went to Fish Net - practically the only restaurant in Mena at the time.

Fish Net waitresses had an annoying custom of singing to birthday and anniversary people. Since my sister-in-law Lawana was a waitress there, it traveled through the waitressing ranks that it was our anniversary. What they didn't know was that we were eating quickly so we could attend the rodeo.

When Kent and I finished eating - much ahead of the waitresses estimated time of completion - we made our way toward the exit. During our exiting stroll, I saw Brother Vanderbilt, an 80-something-year-old gentleman from my childhood church. When I reached his table to say hello, I simultaneously noticed the waitresses scrambling to get to Kent and me before we left. Kent noticed this as well and made a bee-line to the front register.

Just as the waitresses surrounded me, Brother Vanderbilt got his arthritic body forced into an upright standing position. As we embraced, the waitresses burst out in festive congratulatory song: "The Roses had an anniversary, an anniversary, an anniversary..." Knowing very well an onlooker would conclude that Brother Vanderbilt and I were "the Roses," I looked around to see if Kent was nearby so I could instead sidle up beside him. I saw him at the register, laughing at my predicament with a few others.

About to combust on the spot, I glanced over to Brother Vanderbilt. He seemed to think we were being congratulated for having found each other after our long separation. As the waitresses sang, he was smiling and muttering, "thank you, thank you."

When at loooonngg last the song ended, the waitresses and a few diners gave their clapping finale and Brother Vanderbilt gave me a final tight tug around the waist and shakily stretched up to kiss me on the cheek.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 01, 2006


As you may recall, regarding "church," we've been through a rough year. There were lots of lies, deception, manipulation, and God only knows what else. We, along with many dear friends, have been burned. Gordon particularly has grown skeptical and cynical about church. He is a godly man, but is struggling to come to terms with all we've experienced the past year. (You know the expression, once bitten, twice shy). Well Gordon won't be jumping into any churchy relationships anytime soon, I don't think. If he does, he will be very guarded.

I'm really enjoying our new church and am ready start anew. The kids are loving it. Gordon is non-committal.

During our evening cup of tea, I asked him how he was feeling about church. With a heavy sigh he said, "Oh who knows? Who the hell trusts church anyway?"

Wanting some kind of assurance we were "on the same page," I asked what happens next. I was expecting a time line, a line in the sand, "if things go well, we'll commit in....."

What I got instead was this snippet into his psyche: "Oh someone will have us over for tea, then we'll sign on the dotted line and hand over the money."

Labels: ,