Saturday, November 29, 2008


Christmastime is full of tradition. Tradition for me includes trimming our tree each year - usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, much like my mom did when I was a child. I tend to decorate my tree much like my mom did when I was little, as well. I particularly follow her tradition of using strands of silver tinsel. Perhaps one day my kids will also purchase a coveted 12 foot rope of shiny silver garland to adorn their own trees on the weekend after Thanksgiving, much like me - their mom. Or, maybe they will stray from tradition and decorate before Thanksgiving as I did this year. Maybe, too, they will forget to place the tinsel on the tree as their kids cheerfully toss tissue paper aside to reveal ornament after precious ornament in their own collection boxes, and the kids will begin piling their ornaments onto the tree before all the pre-ornament decromentation has fully occurred (like the tinsel), as I did this year. And then, when Thanksgiving ends and they all sit merrily around watching the lights sparkle, perhaps their own Sass will say, "Mom, when are we putting the tinsel on the tree?" And everyone will realize we missed a step. And it won't matter. Because the tree is beautiful this year just as it is. Chock-full of character ornaments left over the years by St. Nick on his special day, and handmade ornaments brought home from preschool, and bits of paper with strings lovingly tied to hang on branches because the older siblings have more ornaments than the younger ones, but the younger ones still want to keep decorating with the older ones... And then, in the back of the heavily decorated, slightly jaunty tree which leans towards the side that all the kids can reach and will see from their perch on the couch, I place my own little collection. Mom's special ornaments. They include these...

given to me by my mom, a Precious Moments angel flutist - with the instrument's end broken - she now plays a piccolo (I paid for much of college on a piccolo scholarship - bet you didn't know that about me!!!)

a snowflake crocheted by my paternal grandmother and given to me as a child

my mom's Santa from an era when paint was in short supply for nonessential things like ornaments - being used, instead, for planes and other matters of national safety

an ornament from my father's tree from my childhood

the ornament we bought at the Grand Canyon after becoming engaged

the ornament I bought in 2002 to ring in a new year - the same kind hung on a tree in the hospital where Pookie spent much of her first year of life

There are many more. Yet, these are a few of the ones who shine a little brighter, are hung a little higher - there on the back of the tree, where the little ones can't reach. In their special place of honor. Hanging with them, the memories of Christmases past, this present Christmas, and those Christmases to come.

God Bless you in this Holiest of Seasons.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pack Rat, Anyone?

I've shared that a GIGANTIC organization frenzy is gripping me and my house right now, right? I mean, the closet's still clean, the 7 year-old's under-the-bed area is spotless, the toyroom shelf remains unhindered with abundance (well, at least one out of the 12 of them...). But, Readers, tonite I have realized something previously unknown about myself.

I. am. a. photographic. pack rat.

We are blessed in our little house to have ample amounts of storage in our basement, as seen here:

Doesn't it look all nice? I mean, had you seen it Saturday, you couldn't see the floor in front of the shelves because the shelves had exploded from the very edges of every plywood sheet and onto the floor! Seriously? The stuff on that shelf as of Saturday filled TWO ROOMS in our basement when we removed it for a very necessary cleaning! And now I am faced with the task of putting it all away (after ridding ourselves of - hopefully - at least some of it).
But here's what I've discovered as I'm returning the best things and purging the rest of the things.
...I like to take pictures.
Now that's a revelation.
But, apparently, about the time I started having kids, I stopped scrapbooking. Prior to kids, I completed 19 scrapbooks - and they are all tenderly placed back onto those freshly painted shelves. But what about all these pictures? (And that doesn't even COUNT the ones since the digital age...!!!)

My goal for this school year has been to organize my little home enough that, come February/March when we're all going a little stir-crazy from winter and we're needing to spread our wings a little, my family doesn't go through it's now-annual ritual of looking to buy a bigger house. My goal has been to make this house work for us. Bigger families have lived in smaller houses! We should be able to stay here - for at least a few more years.
This weekend, we took a major step in accomplishing these enumerated goals of mine. It looks realistically like I will be able to accomplish my major organization rehab by New Year's. My adjusted goal for the remainder of the school year will be taming the Picture-Taking Beast.
Obviously, that means my picture piles -not me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


What makes a mother go from wringing her hands and wildly flinging unused and unwanted(?!) toys from under her 7 year-old sass-pant's bed to feeling the peace and awe of the miraculous season that is just days from descending upon us?



And this:

And the house is becoming more organized by the bed - and by the hall and by the basement and...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Purge before the Binge

I have been instructed by my sweet husband to clean the toyroom before we can invite new toys into our home this Christmas season.

You see, in theory, I don't have a problem with that. After-all, this is what part (or the majority - whichever) of our toy room looks like...

(Seriously. Who keeps it more 'real' than that?)

However, there's a little story I'd like to share with you about my Pookie. At one time, she was very attached to a cute little pink dog she'd received as a gift as a newborn. Under most circumstances, giving this miniature woof-woof a new home would not have been a problem. Pookie would have been none the wiser - she was, as it were, a baby at the time. Though I am often astounded by my children's memories - beloved stuffed pets from infancy don't seem likely to transcend the depths of their "Remembory Mind," as they call it. Yet, perhaps I do not give them credit. As, their mother (me) enjoys photography. And has been known to snap evidence, shall we call it, such as these:

So that, on the day Pookie reviews her baby book and happens upon these photos, with her somewhat obsessive 7 year-old passion for stuffed animals, she wonders where this cute little canine has gone. To her dismay - and mine - I chose to be honest. "We gave it away." And then commenced the afternoon of crying. Seriously. Hours. Howling better describes what ensued. Which might explain why, when my husband encourages me to clean the toy room up/out before Christmas, I hesitate, knowing the tears - or the lies - that destiny will bring me.

Nonetheless, he is right, of course. And much of our basement chaos MUST be uncluttered before Jesus' blessed birthday celebration, or we will be unable to dig out. And blog posts will be written from under 20 feet of Build-a-Bear wares...and Mickey Mouses.

Alas. Now that shelf looks like this:

And I've invested in a ear plugs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mickey Mouser

This is Benn.

Benn is a good cat.

Evidently, Benn is not a good mouser.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wave Walking

Do you ever think about those individuals who are less-abled than you? At one point in the history of our society, we dubbed people as 'handicapped.' In today's world, we call individuals without 'typical' function of body or mind as disabled or essentially less-abled. Instead of calling someone a 'handicapped person,' we say, a person with a disability. You can fill in that blank with whatever medical diagnosis you want - such as autism. A child with autism vs. the previously accepted 'autistic child.' Not a diabetic man - a man with diabetes. We allow the person to be identified before the disability with our new terminology. In fact, individuals overcome extreme obstacles and show us their utter strength of spirit in so many cases. We want to give them a voice in their humanness versus in their disablity.

Who, among us, is the most less-abled? Who among us has literally no voice? I am a speech-language pathologist by training and by trade. I know children who have very little voice. But I know more children who have no voice.

Who speaks for the less-abled? Do you? Do your politicians? If you don't speak for them, good grief, what name-calling do you endure? Are you hated? Are you mocked? I mean, come on - they're less-abled, for crying out loud. We all speak for individuals with disabilities, do we not? Do we dare not? Someone must! Because they often can't. Literally, in some cases.

Yet, can the unborn? Speak for themselves? Human beings who are not yet able-bodied and do not yet have their own voice and yet have all the potential the world has to offer. How do we dare not speak up on their behalf?

Before exiting my blog and seeking shelter in less controversial posts somewhere else in the blogosphere, think about it. I like to hang out in sandy places myself. But, for this, I'm pulling my head up, getting off the beach, climbing in my boat, and I'm going wave walking.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In a galaxy far, far away

Do you ever think about the circles that exist within blogging? That we are all sort of 7 degrees away from each other, yet we tend to 'hang' in a certain sphere of the blogworld?

There are blogs I visit daily. Admittedly, sometimes more than once each day...I'll pop in to see if there's something new, or if someone new commented. For the most part, I am predictable. I head to the same place first. I derive quite a bit of inspiration and/or laughs from several of the same women, so I'll visit those ladies before moving on to others. I might click on a new face that intrigues me one way or the other in the comment sections of my regular reads. Maybe this person has an interesting blog title. Or an interesting face. Or an interesting comment. Whatever the case may be, I'll head to their spot in the blogosphere amidst my rounds. Perhaps from there linking to another location. Pretty soon I have 5 or so windows opened on my screen [and yes, the dreaded plethora of playlists all MUTED at that point...for those of us lonely bodies out there who insist upon keeping it going...;) ]. Yet, I return to my main list of 'friends.'

I would venture to say that the gals on my blogroll 'roll' like me. We are like-minded, similarly yoked, mostly in the same season of our lives...They 'get' me - and I understand them.

Do you ever think about alternative universes in blogworld? Do you ever wonder if there are groups of women (hey - men, too, I suppose) who are just so entirely different from the person you are that you would probably never cross paths with them in person or online? Yet, they read each other's blogs daily, commenting on their similar lives and thoughts, completely 'getting' each other. Yet, never knowing about us - this group of friends over here with our own particular bent. Would we all just prefer it that way - like seeing stars up in the sky that are each their own separate sun in unknown universes. Places and beings we will never meet...and do we prefer it that way?

Do you ever think about this?
Or have I just seen Star Wars Episode VI one too many times?


Many of my 'regular readers' know I have been working on this post for some may well just be deemed 'a work in progress'...

As I write this, I am sitting in the cafe of the pediatric hospital where my daughter was healed - six times - of heart failure. It's a friendly place - a hot air balloon that at one time featured free rides from the Lower Level to the Mezanine of the cafetieria silently watches patrons below its retired, though lofty precipice. Whale-topped weather vanes and whispy wire butterflies stretched with silky tulle soar above the room. A dull hum of conversations around a half-dozen tables drowns out the faint, tinkly sound of Muzak...yet I hear a familiar tune of Mozart and my childhood orchestral memories break through the low drone, spinning thoughts through my head...

I recently joined FaceBook. Almost immediately, one of my best friends from high school contacted me. Then, his little sister (previously a cheerleader in my graduating class) sent me a 'button' proclaiming that I am "a COOL band geek." After receiving this gift for my 'wall' (more FB talk), I reconnected with one of the 'smart guys' from my graduating class. It's all gotten me thinking...thinking about stereotypes.

Most of the day today I lamented about the historical decision our country made yesterday in terms of its next president. I felt sad that my personal political party of choice has come to exude such a negative emotion and impression from so many of my fellow Americans. Let me say that I am thrilled that we have elected a president of Euro-African decent. I am not thrilled with his politics. But, the country embraces him. The world embraces him (edited: I said, until I read this...). And I pray he can make the positive changes in our country of which he speaks so eloquently.

But what do we say about these 'stereotypes' - about stereotypes, in general? Am I, at the age of 35, a 'band geek?' A 'cool' one, at that? Is my friend's little sister a ... (gasp!) cheerleader! Or our classmate Greg - a smart guy? I begin to wonder about my own with a sporty bent, one with a calm, intelligent demeanor...the diva...the fussy one (destined to be a public defender??).

Before our children were born, my husband did not desire a stay-at-home wife. I never planned to stay at home with my kids - I have a Master's degree. Why would I go through 6 years of higher education to stay home, barefoot and pregnant, taking my kids to McDonald's for unhealthy lunches, eating bon-bons and watching soaps while they play, unbathed, in the corner of our dirty home? Why would I choose that unprofession when yet even today, so many negative connotations are conjured up in our minds with the term 'stay-at-home mom?' Just like those images of 'the band geek, 'the brainiac,' 'the cheerleader.' The Republican.

Are stereotypes beneficial? Are they detrimental? How is it that some can use stereotypes without regard to their offensiveness, yet others are 'closed-minded' and 'hateful' in using their own? Aren't stereotypes no more than one person's value judgment in the short term, yet God sees us for eternity? He admonishes us in John 7:24 to "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."

In light of the time I have spent trying to adequately put into words the thoughts I entertained last week as I sat at a table, alone (without kids!), in a place that held so many poignant, life-changing memories for me...let me direct you to this Biblically articulate man. Perhaps he can shed light on some thoughts He has on stereotypes...

Until next time,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stereotypes...stay tuned

Do you fit into a stereotype? What type of person are you? Is there a mold that suits you best? Perhaps the cast was shattered once you came upon this earth...

For days (and days and days and...) I have busily photographed Halloween happenings and other fall festivities around my 3 school-age children's schools. I snapped over 200 pictures of cute (sometimes s.c.a.r.y.) costumed characters and 100s of pictures of robots (yes, I said robots). I have edited, processed, taped, formatted, copied, scanned, ate, cooked, cleaned, dreamt, and even finished taking, processing, and sharing all these photos with their intended recipients as of tonite. I think I'm tired of taking pictures (oh, I'm not fooling anyone - I LOVE taking pictures --- almost as much as I love my new camera. OK. Actually more. Fine. Moving on.)

Tonite I valiantly worked to publish a post on Stereotypes. I actually began writing it a week ago (notice no new posts??? This one is taking a while...) And as I sat at the computer tonite and the clock slowly ticked towards midnight and panic quickly began to build in my chest over my fear of no sleep and need for extra doses of morning caffeine because of it...I decided to tickle your tastebuds for the real post I am writing and share some of these cool robot (yes, I said robot) photos I took this morning. And I can go to bed. Post completed. (Well, except for the one about Stereotypes...maybe he'll stay in draft form like my If You Give a Mouse a Cookie made-for-blog story of the mother with ADD...for another day, that one is. Don't steal my idea.)
So. Tonite? What type of robot are you?
Are you the kind who's always happy? Never showing the world a frown?

Or the one, in a world of giants, feeling rather down (here)...

Maybe you're the full-time cook. Your children call you by name.

Perhaps it's love you're seeking.

Or someone to tame your wild mane.

Vacation sound appealing? You're going a little nuts?

At least you don't resemble this the rain, he's gonna rust. (That's 'look old' in robot speak)

Well, let me be there to help a lending hand. Push your buttons back in. Take your hand. Share a smile.

Cuz in robot land, there are no stereotypes. George Lucas writes your rhymes. And all good children go to bed. Early.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Through a Glass Darkly

This post was not my original blog post for tonite --- in fact, I have entertained a few different ideas as the day progressed. I even sat in the cafeteria at the pediatric hospital where my daughter was healed - 6 times - of a failing heart, writing a post out with pen and paper before my support group meeting tonite. Yet, I am not posting that story this evening, either.

You see, a sweet, sweet mommy-to-be told me something tonite that took my breath away. And I have to write it down. I pray that this story would reflect my heart this evening. And I pray, too, that in spite of my bumbling chatter after she shared her story with me, that she would know truly, truly how much she touched my heart. What you said, S, makes everything much clearer. As the Bible says, For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

It is not often that God lifts the veil in this see clearly the path of our struggles and to give it meaning. Why do we suffer? Why is it allowed? S, you have given me - and my family - an Amazing Gift tonite...You have clarified, at least in part, the reason we have been where we have been...

In providing a little history, a sweet young woman and her loving husband attended one of our heart support group meetings several months ago. As is so sadly the case in today's medically advanced world, with so many children with heart defects being born and living abundant lives, this young couple, pregnant just through the middle of her second term, was told by a medical professional that their unborn baby had a heart condition and recommended that they consider terminating the pregnancy. Obviously devastated, the couple then visited a pediatric cardiologist who painted a completely different picture of life, with surgeries, but life and eventual health with their still-growing, inside mommy, baby girl. This couple then attended one of our heart parent support group meetings. They shared their emotions, their frustrations, their joys and their sorrows with us. And we embraced them, knowingly, compassionately, lovingly. It is a path many of us know too well - discovering before she is born that your dear baby has a heart defect.

Through the course of the next several months, this mommy-to-be opened up even more with us. She shared her heart. She let us in on her struggles - dealing with this unplanned bump in the road during this, her first pregnancy. Much of the innocence, much of the joy of those first maternal feelings of anticipation and excitement having been stolen from her with that initial diagnosis, she awaits the unknown day when she will deliver her precious bundle only to have that newborn baby whisked away to an operating room to correct a defect - the smatter on a glowing green screen that indicates this baby, this baby that kicks and hiccups within her growing belly, is just. not. quite. perfect. to the rest of the world.

This baby will share my daughter's name. I noted that when I first read the email sharing her name with our group. And Mommy noted it to me tonite. On a certain night several months ago, when this young couple attended their first support meeting, I brought my kids with me. And S saw Pookie. And though she and her husband had considered Pookie's name before this meeting, they had decided to consider other names. S shared that when they saw Pookie, however, she and her husband decided it was a sign. Pookie is so strong now. So vivacious. So full of life. She is a fighter. And to this mom and dad, that gave them Hope for their Little Pookie.

In living the life we have led with Pookie, Meiners, T and Baby S - I circle back time and time again to the fact that we go through our experiences in this life so that we can help others. It is what gives our life meaning. It is what allows us to praise Our Maker at all times. Tonite, this young, scared, overwhelmed, but blessed young mommy-to-be gave me a gift she may not even begin to understand --- until she, too, one day sits on this side of her struggles. S, I do pray that you understand I had to write this down for my own baby --- that she would see that her life is precious. She has a purpose here. And so does your baby. I cannot wait to meet her.

In fact, I wish that all of you could see these kids. See how lovely they are. How much we, their parents, love them. I thank God that most of you will never have to see what we, as parents of children with heart defects, have seen. Or that your babies will have to survive what ours have survived. But, when it is possible, I thank God, too, that He shows us His Divine Plan. Everything happens for a reason. Most of the time we will not discern the reason. Tonite, I saw more clearly. I am forever humbled. I am forever grateful.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Have I Changed?

As our country watches, hopeful, expectant, waiting to see what change is ahead for our great nation, I thought I would add a little levity to Election Night with the following...

5 ways I have changed since high school...

1. My hair...Then


2. My drink...Then


or, after a REALLY tough day...

3. My Ride...Then


4. My Politics...Then


5. My free time...Then


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Face Book

My friend Frizzy and I go way back. Waaaaaaaaaaay Back. (OK, 20 years. Holy Batman that sounds worse than it feels!) And two days ago she sent word that she'd gotten in touch with an Old Friend of ours from high school via FaceBook. Last Fall she'd opened a spot on the FB (as all of us 'in the know' call it...) and invited me to join her to keep in touch. My only experience with FB - if you'd call it 'experience' was watching a news story unravel where a local teenage girl took her own life after a FaceBook mishap - and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Fast forward 12 months and she sends me this note. My curiosity was piqued. I Google'd 'FaceBook.' (I'm daring and dangerous like that - must. Google. first.) It looked fairly harmless and for all intensive purposes, it looked like I could create an account and invite no one to be my friend and ensure the Boogie Man could never find me, so I did it. I registered and created a second place in the blogosphere that I could call my own. Since then, I've made real live contact with two old friends, and I am cracking up. My one friend hasn't changed a bit. Crude. Funny. Grey hair's about the only change I can see. It got me to thinking. How have I changed since high school? How am I the same? Sounds like a blog post to me! So stay tuned - I'll have some pictures that will make you laugh. And some insight that will make you think. (Well, maybe. It may just be about the funny pictures.)

That's me in the back - and JO with all his girls (bwahahahahahaha...)

And here he is 20 years later...all grown up, I tell ya.

Until then,

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Giving Thanks

These little goblins scared off October.
I couldn't be any more grateful...
Now on to more relaxing days of Holiday Preparation!
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