Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is It Over Already?!

I cannot believe that 2008 is over already! We were discussing this very thing today at Karen's house. How can it be? Where did it go? Did I blink or something? Parts of it went by much too fast and parts of it I hope never to revisit ever again.

But another thing is over already, too, and its departure makes me very sad indeed. Lou's visit has ended. She has returned to her home in the south. Why did she leave us? It couldn't have been the weather. It was like spring during the time she was here.

Is it something we said? Probably that part almost 5 years ago where Pastor Dad replied that I (her mother), and he (her father), gave this woman (Lou), to be married to this man (Sgt. Dan).

Now that she's gone one question remains. Can we have the stocking stuffers that she forgot to take with her?

Just kidding. We'll pack them in the flat-rate box being used to ship the things she couldn't take onto the airplane in her carry-on bag. Some items she left seem pretty important. After all, I've never known her to leave a Peep uneaten.

And I've never known me to eat one. Unlike Hershey Bars. GIANT Hershey Bars. TWO of them. Which she brought me.

Come back anytime! :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Best Diet For 2009

Ordinarily I don't make New Year's resolutions knowing full well that I will not be able to keep them even throughout the month of January, let alone a whole year! Why make goals that are going to be broken by the next major holiday (Groundhog Day) anyway?

But there is one resolution that I think I will be able to make and keep in 2009. I think I will make it a goal to lose weight! What makes me think that I've found a diet that is foolproof (oh, that word again!)? I lost at least 3 lbs this holiday season! Compared to the usual December weight gain I think this is unprecedented.

How did I achieve such wonderful results?

My new diet should officially be called "The Teen-aged Boy in the House Diet." It appears to be an almost guaranteed aid to female weight loss! It costs a lot of money for food, but the results are spectacular! No pills to swallow - actually, little of anything to swallow at all - just cook and bake anything and watch it disappear before your eyes and behind your back! No counting calories, carbs, or fat grams.

I tried this and it actually worked! I made fudge, cookies, cakes, pies, cheese ball, dips, candy, and other goodies throughout December and still lost weight! Here is the simple plan:
  1. Make sure you have at least one teen-aged boy in your home. (Optional: twins cost more but accelerate the process. Or one boy with several friends visiting for a few hours will do the same.) Don't have even one teen-aged boy of your own? I know one you can borrow. His mother won't mind the help filling his stomach. There is very little chance of ruining his appetite anyway, so don't worry about that. He comes with no known food allergies and likes food from all of the major groups. He will burn up the calories he consumes quickly so don't be concerned if some of the food you feed him is junk. Be more concerned if you consume it. He can handle it. You, on the other hand, cannot.
  2. Prepare any or all of your favorite foods and desserts.
  3. Lick the bowls, spoons, beaters, and other utensils used in the process yourself so as not to feel deprived. This is very important because it may be the only taste of the actual food that you will sample.
  4. Bake or cook goodies as usual, then set them out to cool.
  5. Leave the room and let the diet work its magic. Any leftovers can be put out of sight in a cookie jar, refrigerator, or pantry. It doesn't seem to hinder the process. It might take a bit longer for some foods to disappear, but usually not more than two days.

This diet probably works for men, too, but the results have not yet been documented.

*Results in the previous testimonial are believed to be typical.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Are We Still Talking "Change?"

Remember the election? Yeah, I'm still trying to forget it, too.

The part I do remember well is that the buzzword of the campaign season - all 3.5 years of it - was "change."

Karen announced her change about a week ago. You heard about it when she broke the news that her new haircut had been overshadowed by another upcoming change, namely, Princess's expected bundle of joy due June 9th. Many changes are in the Princess's future, I might add. Some of them wonderful, and some that just outright stink! But that's not the kind of change I'm thinking about at the moment.

Lou alerted us to the change in their household with Sgt. Dan's upcoming training beginning in a few months on the west coast which will lead to a temporary change of locale for both of them and their dogs. And this could even lead to a permanent change in residence after Dan's training is completed.

There have been changes in our house, too. This picture no longer looks like us. Two of the three people do not look like portrayed here.

Pastor Dad decided that grey is out and coal black is in. Younger, hipper, you know. Maybe it will even keep church members awake while he preaches. Just kidding!!!!!!

Not really! Pastor Dad is the only person in the picture who looks exactly the same today, suit and all, as he did when the photo was taken.

On the other hand, Bear now has a lot more face and ears showing, and he looks better, by the way. And my hair is now shorter and darker. Not so sure of the better thing in my case, but I'm not fishing for compliments so no need to respond accordingly. It is liable to change again before long anyway. I've found this is not so unusual at my age.

Having Lou in town - with her darker hair - made it seem like the perfect time to change my own hue more toward her end of the color spectrum as opposed to that of the Bear, Karen, or Princess. I have to look at the kids' hair colors when making my choice because it has been so long since I saw my natural color that I'm not even sure anymore what it was!

Since the picture on the side is also the picture on our church calendar (that some of you will be receiving shortly) it is almost funny that the photo is outdated before 2009 begins.

There is another change also: Bear is at least another inch taller since that picture was taken just a few weeks ago, but his height seems to be in a constant state of flux these days. By the time the photo is taken for the 2010 calendar I can pretty much guarantee that I will be the shortest person in it.

Ah, change! Love it or hate it, it is always happening.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

'Tis The Season To Be Polly

This is the one week of the year where Polly spends most of her time opening gifts. It doesn't seem to bother her in the least that her birthday and Christmas are all in the same week.

Here we see Prince Charming and Tigger pointing out all of the lovely things on the cake.

And then we see her mommy lighting the candle for her.

A picture of the Birthday Girl with her milestone balloon. (Sorry for the distortion. The camera hasn't seen sunlight in so long it didn't know how to adjust to it. There probably was a bit of wiggling and giggling going on at the same time. Who was wiggling and giggling? Polly or me? Maybe both.)

I love the picture below. Look carefully. There are so-o-o many gifts stacked up here that we can barely see Polly behind them and Tigger peeking around them on the left.

Pace yourself, Polly! You've got several more "events" this week!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Thoughts!

I couldn't let Polly's day end on a downer. Well, maybe not Polly's day since I hope she's already in bed. In all honesty I couldn't let my remembrance of Polly's day end that way. After all, the wallet was found, and even if it hadn't been there was absolutely no cash in it whatsoever. I have a feeling that if it had been stolen as I feared someone would've been sending me a charitable donation shortly. I wasn't too keen about the thought of getting my driver's license replaced or cancelling my debit card, but otherwise there was nothing of note in the wallet except my library card. So don't think of stealing my wallet, anyone. You will be sorely disappointed.

Anyway, to help me celebrate the day that Polly came into our lives I looked through some digital photos. They made me misty-eyed but in a happy way. Here to document my entry into the wonderful world of grandparenting is this picture:

Included is also a picture to show the Bear's initiation into unclehood. (Is that even a word? Spellcheck says no but I'm using it anyway.) This little nipper now has 3 small female sweeties that worship the ground he walks on and follow him like Bear-groupies. Oh, that all young men would learn so young how to protect the next generation! I think the world would be a better place for it. Bear loves his sisters and he loves his nieces. I'm telling you this, girls, because he sure isn't going to do it! :)

I looked for a picture of Pastor Dad and our first grandbaby, but I have the suspicion that he was the eye behind the camera that day. You know how grandparents are! The grandmas cuddle the babies and the grandpas take tons of pictures.

And on that note, I'm breathing a silent prayer of thanksgiving for blessings received!

Panic At The Mall

There is all sort of panic going on at the mall today because it is the last weekend before Christmas:

  • The panic of people who just started their shopping.
  • The panic of people trying to find those last few gifts.
  • The panic of people trying to find the right size, color, or price amount.
  • The panic of people fighting their way through crowds and traffic.
  • The panic of people standing in line to pay for their gifts and discovering their wallet is missing.

Oh, wait. As far as I could tell that last description only fit me! Some of the other descriptions might fit me also, but the last one is the one that totally defines the word panic for me.

Let me set the scene.

Pastor Dad, the Bear, and I are at one of the local malls. We split up to do our individual shopping. I go into a certain specialty store, which shall remain nameless lest it spoil the surprise for someone in this family who is known to stop by here occasionally. I find THE PERFECT GIFT and there is one left. One left! I elbow my way through the crowd and grab it. (Just kidding.)

I politely picked up "the gift" and made my way to the 3 mile long line in the front of the store. Thankfully, there was a 3 mile long line. Read that again carefully, because you will probably never hear me say that ever again. But on this day I am thankful there was a 3 mile long line. Otherwise, I would've been standing at the cash register when sheer panic engulfed me. I thought it nice while waiting in line to extract my wallet from its assigned place within the backpack-size bag that serves as my purse (don't ask!) but my wallet was gone!!!!!!

I put the "item" back on the shelf and walked calmly out of the store. I didn't scream (at least not at that moment) or exhibit any of the signs of a woman whose blood pressure had just doubled in the last 10 seconds. How do I know all this? Well, as I exited the store I passed the Bear and asked him if he'd seen Pastor Dad. Bear didn't see anything out of the ordinary in the way I was acting - which could be a good or bad thing - considering it means I always look like I'm suffering conniption fits, or Bear doesn't notice me one bit anyway, or I really did look like I was in control of my faculties at the moment. I'm optimistically voting for the latter.

I raced to the car to check to see if it was there. And of course, it wasn't.

The last time I saw my wallet was on Thursday. Remember question #18 of the 50 posted yesterday? That's right. The last time I saw my wallet was way back then! Not a good feeling.

But all's well that ends well. The wallet had fallen out at home. Pastor Dad found it on the floor where it had fallen out sometime within the last two days. I think I'm going to need to assign the wallet a better place in the backpack because it's regular spot should now officially be listed as one of the causes of high blood pressure.

P.S. Happy Birthday Polly! Gram intends to do a post about you AFTER the party!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Relax. They're all me.

The Good:

  1. Fairly happy disposition in the early part of the day today. Wonder if the change in the weather - including episodes of sunshine - might've had something to do with this? Okay, no "might've" about it.

  2. Finished school with the Bear until after the New Year. Students aren't the only people glad for holiday vacations!

  3. Got some work done around the house. This hasn't been easy lately. The possibility of a naked teen-aged boy (which would've been "survivable" on a warm day like today) compelled me to action. Warm weather or not, clothes are not optional in this house.

  4. Nice day = dog outside in kennel. This also did wonders for my disposition.

  5. Big family get-togethers coming up! Happy thoughts!

  6. Due to circumstances beyond my control (a snow day), a cooperative husband, and earlier practice than usual (as in, during the daylight hours) the basketball schedule has been tolerable this week!

  7. My dad's DNA results were accepted by one of our surname's study groups! Waiting....

The Bad:

  1. I haven't finished my Christmas shopping yet. I know! You must be thinking, "Then why are you sitting at the computer lady? Get out and shop!"

  2. I admitted some things on the 50 Questions list that I really never wanted to answer, but pleading the 5th only makes one look guilty, so thought I might as well go ahead and admit guilt. I've felt bad ever since. Now you know where Lou gets that whole conscience thing.

  3. Got a bit testy with a telemarketer from a Christian organization. In my defense, this person was not going to take "no" for an answer. She did anyway. Pastor Dad and I are very generous (and I won't elaborate) but even preachers have limits in how much money they can philanthropically give away (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek).

  4. Someone asked me recently where the Bear goes to school. When I answered that I home school him she said, "Oh, so you're okay with experimenting with your child's education?" HOLD ME BACK!!!!! Big breath here. Okay, I'll admit that "perhaps" those first few years were experimental, but honey, I've been doing this since Sept. 1986 and have graduated 3 students who have been the top students at all colleges and universities, public or private, secular or Christian, that they've attended. We're LONG PAST the experimental stage, thankyouverymuch! (Maybe this one should be moved down to the ugly list. Then again, I think I was only bad-bordering-on-ugly in this encounter.)

The Ugly:

  1. I am convinced that some IWU (Idiots of the World Unite!) convention is meeting this week and have me on their target list of people to irritate.

  2. Example A: Some crafty person gave my cell phone to a doctor's office months ago as their contact number. Said person never paid her bill. The debt collector calls me almost every night, and during basketball practices and games, too. You can only imagine how many times I get tired of telling the collectors, "No, my name is not Gloria!!!!" And no, I don't give out my real name. After the latest nasty call I did consider changing my number but thought what an inconvenience this would be after so many years. I think the Bear actually has it memorized now. Such a shame to change it.

  3. Example B: Some people in my genealogical society seem to think I have nothing better to do than to answer their phone calls, relay their mail and messages, and generally do the work of all 256 members. Granted, 75% of the people in our society are older than I am. Okay, maybe 90% is a closer estimate and we all know that I'm no spring chicken, but really, folks, can we not harass the "young people?" You have a directory. Use it!

  4. Example C: I recently submitted an application for someone to our genealogical society. As a registrar, this is my job. An overzealous genealogist in the home office sent me notice "Request Denied" because "Person B might not be the son of Person A" even though the people both have rather obscure names, lived next to each other in the same county during major census years, and the father left notes listing the names and birth dates of his children, including the name of the son. Said notes are now found in a state archive. The names are almost as unique as John and Humperdink Rumplestiltskin, but o.g. said "I think there might've been more than one man named Humperdink Rumplestiltskin so we really can't say that the one you've listed is the son of John Rumplestiltskin." Really? Two people were crazy enough to give their sons that name? How odd. And more importantly, I asked her, where's the proof there was more than one? Only one person by each name was enumerated ANYWHERE in those census abstracts (10 years apart for you non-Americans), forget about specifically in that exact location. She wrote back stating that it was up to me to prove that there was only one. What? How am I supposed to prove a negative? Especially since I am the one convinced that there really was only one! I wrote the o.g. a second very guarded letter basically calling her a member of her local IWU group without actually coming out and saying it. We will now see what transpires. Perhaps I will be leaving my term as registrar a few months ahead of schedule due to the fact that any future applications submitted will automatically rate a big bull's eyes painted around my signature where it states that I found such applications sufficiently proven to be considered. It wouldn't be fair to fresh-faced, excited applicants, you see, if they found out their application is doomed the moment I add my signature to it.

One more "good" thing to add to my list before I leave to go Christmas shopping is that Pastor Dad paid me a wonderful compliment a little bit ago. He said, "I sure am glad you aren't dumb!" Hershey bar included. Whatta guy! (Luv ya!)

50 Questions

I opened this over at Karin's and now I am obligated! 50 random things about you! If you opened this, FILL IT OUT! Learn 50 things about your friends, and let them learn 50 things about you!

Karabeth's note: I've received this as an email about 10 times already in recent days, so hopefully this will take care of all those at the same time.

1. Do you like cheese? Love it!
2. Have you ever smoked? I will not tell a lie. Yes. Once. Hated it so much and felt so guilty that I never smoked again. And I got a new friend to hang around with at school immediately afterward because it was obvious the current one was heading down the wrong direction and taking me with her.
3. Do you own a gun? Yes
4. Do you like listening to Christmas music? Yes, but starting after Thanksgiving. I like to keep my holidays separated, but you already knew that, didn't you!
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Yes, especially if I'm going in for a blood pressure check, which sort of defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?
6. What do you think of hot dogs? I like mine loaded with mustard, relish, onions, and cheese.
7. Favorite Christmas song for all time? O Holy Night
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee, preferrably served in bed by Pastor Dad. He gets up before I do every morning. He learned long ago to hold that cup w-a-a-ay out there in front of him before waking me up. I am NOT a morning person.
9. Can you do push ups? Ha! Ha! Are you kidding? I don't think so, and I'm not about to try just so I can answer this question!
10. Who is your favorite Grey's Anatomy Character? Don't know anything about this show.
11. What are your favorite pieces of jewelry? My wedding ring, my birthstone ring, a mother's pendant with my children's birthstones on it, and the pin I wear with all the little "people" charms on it: one for each grandchild (a boy charm to be added to it next summer!)
12. Favorite hobby? genealogy (Like you didn't already know that!)
13. Do you eat "exotic" foods? No
14. Do you have A.D.D.? I don't think so, but you probably can't tell by my blog since I tend to bounce around so much from topic to topic.
15. What one trait do you hate about yourself? My autoimmune system disorder. I've never been a big fan of it at all. :( "What can't be cured must be endured," and all that jazz.
16. Middle Name? Lynn
17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? "I wonder if I can finish my Christmas shopping tomorrow," "I wonder what to get Pastor Dad for Christmas," and "What else can I think of to put for my third thought at this exact moment?"
18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday? Christmas presents, t-shirts for the Bear, laundry detergent
19. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? coffee, tea, and water
20. Current worry right now? Will it snow this weekend?
21. Current hate? The short days and the l-o-o-ong nights. It seems to get dark at noon these days.
22. Favorite place to be? On vacation!
23. How will you bring in the New Year? At church
24. Where would you like to go? New Years? Or anytime? If anytime, I'd like to visit Israel.
25. Name three people who will complete this? Ha!
26. Do you own flip flops? Nope.
27. What shirt are you wearing? Wearing a pajama shirt.
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No!
29. Can you whistle? Just a little bit.
30. Favorite color? lavendar
31. Would you be a pirate? No, but I'm descended from one who was with Blackbeard on the "Queen Anne's Revenge." How's that for a pedigree? (See? You can learn so much from tracing your genealogy!)
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't sing in the shower.
33. Favorite girl's name? I don't think I have one.
34. Favorite boy's name? Uh-oh, again. Probably the one that belongs to Pastor Dad. :)
35. What's in your pocket right now? A handkerchief. I almost always have one with me.
36. Last thing that made you laugh? I played tug-of-war last night with Pepper, the dog. The toy is a combination disc with an indestructible squeaky ball attached in the middle (looks like a flying saucer with wide edges). She looked stunned when I squeaked the ball while the airhole was directly in her mouth. I wish I could've taken a picture of the surprised look on her face.
37. Best bed sheets as a child? I sure don't remember any cartoon characters or anything so they must've been plain, white ones.
38. Worst injury you've ever had? I broke my foot in two places 6 years ago while child-proofing my steps. They obviously needed "Gram-proofing" instead since the grandkids have never fallen there.
39. Do you love where you live? I like it fine, but I don't think I "love" it.
40. How many TVs do you have in your house? Two. I don't watch either of them.
41. Who is your loudest friend? One of my relatives who shall remain nameless.
42. How many dogs do you have? One, and that's one too many most days.
43. Does someone have a crush on you? Yep! And he's been married to me for over 30 years!
44. Do you get embarrassed easily? Yes, quite.
45. What is your favorite book? More like a favorite author. I love the "Fairacres" and "Thrush Green" books by Miss Read
46. What is your favorite candy? A no-brainer! Hershey's chocolate bars!
47. Do you know all the words to the Fresh Prince theme song? No clue.
48. What song do you want played at your funeral? It Is Well With My Soul
49. What were you doing 12 AM last night? Sitting here at the computer answering these questions.
50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? I had a pressing "thing" on my mind that needed to be written down in a hurry so I came to the computer to take care of that project.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Tree Traditions

The tree has been up since Monday night. The ornaments have been "up" then "down" then "up" again about twenty times already. THE DOG! Yes, I meant it to look like a shout.

We have a tradition of waiting until after Lou's birthday to put up the tree. It works well, I think, considering that I like to celebrate one.thing.at.a.time. First comes Thanksgiving. Next comes Lou's birthday. Then comes Christmas. Each event sufficiently celebrated.

Once Lou got married no one but me saw the need for keeping this schedule so the fake one went up a little earlier each season. Last year we began buying cut trees and it bought some time because everyone knows that you can't leave a cut tree in the house for a long time without the needles disappearing from the branches and reappearing all over the floor. If this isn't true I don't want to know about it because we all need a few delusions in our lives to preserve happiness. However, due to other things going on recently, Lou's birthday came and went - and then some - without any sign of a tree. Finally, we couldn't put it off any longer. Karen, the Princess, and their respective entourages came Monday night for The Big Event.

I don't know why they bothered. Pepper promptly un-decorated it after everyone left. Nothing now is in its original location. And she thinks of it as the most magnificent water dish she's ever seen! She didn't understand why Fergie insisted upon drinking out of the bowl in the kitchen when she was here. She tried to show her but Fergie is either more sophisticated than Pepper or she doesn't fancy the taste of tree additive like Pepper does.

I haven't attempted to add wrapped gifts underneath. I've bought Polly and Tigger nice dolls that I don't want to look like they've survived a horror movie come Christmas day! I plan to keep everything elsewhere until The Day Of. That might not be so bad. It will keep A Boy from teaching A Dog bad tricks "accidentally" and exclaiming, "Oops!" when his gifts are somehow unveiled.

Did I mention that I collect ornaments? Each year I buy one that has the date displayed on it. If things keep going the way they have been there will be a few years missing from my life's collection and possibly a few years missing from the life of a certain dog. Just kidding. Please, no nasty comments, e-mails, or SPCA visits. No dogs will be harmed in the making of this Christmas season.

Next year either the tree gets decorated on Christmas Eve and taken down on the 26th or all sentimental decorations will be exchanged for dog-friendly ones like bones, rawhides, squeaky balls, and chew treats. Nothing like new traditions.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Deja Vu

Pastor Dad and I were discussing recently how much our lives seem to be running in circles.

Once or twice we were referring to the ball in our gerbil cage world that we keep spinning without actually getting anywhere.

Most recently we were referring to watching Karen, Prince Charming, and our three granddaughters interact. Major deja vu! Except for the fact that Sweet Pea is a bit closer in age to Tigger than our Princess was to Lou, the similarities are so close that they are eerie.

Our granddaughters stayed with us for a few hours one afternoon last week while their parents went out for some quiet time together at a loud, busy, offspring-empty mall. More than once Pastor Dad or I almost called one of the girls by her matching prototype from our own three girls' names.

I've heard people say that their lives pass right before their eyes in near-death experiences. Mine passes before my eyes every time I'm around Karen's girls.

It's a nice feeling, actually.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Did I Mention ...?

(If you're reading this, Mom, it isn't my intention to hurt your feelings. Let's just say that I'm a bit stunned by my ignorance of the events of your week. Blame any offense on the joke-and-storytelling genes I inherited from Dad. I never could pass up a good story.)

My mother called Friday to tell me that she'd had a root canal - A root canal - on Monday - on Monday - and that she'd gotten an infection from it - an infection - but after getting some antibiotics from her doctor she was feeling some better now. Oh, what a relief!

How is it that we rode together packed like sardines in the backseat of the car with the Bear draped over us for 12 hours going to Lou's house Thanksgiving week and you never mentioned that you were having a root canal after we returned home?

And, how is it that we all lived together under one roof with Lou, Sgt. Dan, and their dogs for 6 days and you never mentioned that you were having a root canal after we returned home?

And how is it that we rode for OVER 12 hours on the return trip home almost exactly one week before said root canal and you never mentioned that you were having a root canal after we returned home?

I'm just asking because we discussed some pretty mundane things as we passed the time and miles. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy discussing the mundane, I'm just saying that mentioning that you were having a root canal after you returned home seems like the kind of thing that might come up in conversation!

The only reason I know about it now? She let it slip to Karen on the phone yesterday and was afraid I'd hear about it through the grapevine!

Don't that beat all?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Birds of A Feather

Oh, how I miss the days when the view from the window looked like this:
(Click all pictures for a larger view)

Or how about this guy?

Talk about a big bird! The Bear was rather surprised the first time he saw this one standing on our picnic table. I thought he was making up tall tales when he told me about their encounter. I then kept the camera near the window just in case. For all you non-bird watchers, he is called a pileated woodpecker. See here for more information.

Even little woodpeckers stop by for a visit.

An impostor is often thrown in for good measure. This guy was behaving himself that day.
Yep! I miss the birds of summer! Just thought you'd like to see that I have some fine feathered friends and that there really is more to me than just genealogy, grandchildren, and basketball.

"Got Any Nuts in There?"

The last two mornings I have been awakened by something sounding very much like someone taking a hammer to our deck. This was a bit scary at first. It isn't that we are opposed to anyone doing necessary repair work to our deck. It is just that it isn't likely to be happening now with the weather consistently below freezing. We're not planning any outdoor barbecues anytime soon you know.

Further investigation revealed that the noise was coming from an irate squirrel. The bird seed I'd put out (for actual birds) onto a heavy plastic tray had frozen from a rain that fell a few nights ago. The tray now held seed-sicles and the squirrel was not a happy camper. He was banging the tray on the picnic table in protest.

The squirrels and I have a love-hate relationship. It began many years ago when I started feeding feathered friends in the midst of barren winters. After observing several birds watching wistfully from naked tree branches while squirrels gobbled up their bounty I included a couple of squirrel-proof feeders among my more traditional ones.

Evidently, with squirrels it is "all or nothing." In retaliation they hired the local raccoon guerrillas to destroy the discriminating ones. One night I thought I heard hysterical squeaky laughter coming from the backyard. The next day my feeders lay dismantled all over the lawn. So much for squirrel-proofing.

I decided to quit fighting the little rascals and give them what they wanted. I did reserve the right, however, to hang suet feeders and thistle tubes from the roof-top where they swing in the wind right in front of my kitchen window. This is not fool-proof but it does provide amusement watching them balance with their hind legs against the house while they sway in the breeze as they hold onto the tethered feeders. If I was brave enough I could open the window and reach out to tickle a squirrel tummy. I don't do that for obvious reasons.

I guess the squirrels don't mind entertaining me as long as they are well-fed. But when the tray of goodies isn't to their liking they let me know in no uncertain terms. Yes, we have nuts. No, I won't be feeding them to the squirrels. And yes, I'm being "punny." If squirrels ever gain possession of those light sabers that my son-in-law, Prince Charming, uses as his blog i.d. picture I will be in trouble indeed!

I can't wait for the return of the hummingbirds. They have less discriminating palates and are a whole lot quieter in the morning.


We just returned from yet another basketball game played by the Bear and teammates. This was an "away" game but the location was actually closer to our house than our "home" gym is.

Tonight we played a Christian school. I don't mean to imply that our school is not a Christian one because it is. It is just that the opposing school has hundreds of students whereas our school has only one student remaining on its enrollment.

Now that I've sufficiently confounded you to the point of saying, "Why am I reading this lady's blog anyway?" (which could classify you as "clueless" at this point) I will explain the real reason for tonight's title.

We hadn't been in the building long before Pastor Dad recognized one of the referees. So as not to draw attention to himself Pastor Dad stayed as far in the background as possible. He didn't want to distort the ref's judgment in any way.

And let me tell you, it was a fantastic game! We won but it was so close that the game wasn't decided until the final seconds.

At the end of the game Pastor Dad decided to hang around for a few minutes to say hello. He thought it rude to leave without speaking. He should not have worried too much about rudeness, at least his own. While the Bear and I walked to the car to get out of the cold, the man kept Pastor Dad standing in the cold in order to talk. And by "talk" I mean a steady stream of conversation about "me, myself, and I." He never once asked Pastor Dad anything, like which team his son played on, which player is his son, or how Pastor Dad is doing these days.

Why am I telling you this? I'm not. I'm telling myself. I need to be constantly reminded that other people have lives and loves that they'd like to be asked about during "chance" meetings. I need to remember that conversation is a two-way street.

Oh, Lord Jesus, please help me remember that other peoples' worlds do not revolve around me. And help me remember that my own world doesn't revolve around me either. May I remember to put you first in my life. Help me remember to put other people before myself also.

Philippians 2:3 - Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Messianic Name

In December I like to pick a name given the Messiah to study and meditate upon. This year my choice is “Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6, 7a (KJV) provides us the name, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end . . .”

This name seems somewhat at odds with many things we encounter during the holiday season. Besides the extra hours spent shopping and cooking there are financial burdens and gift wrapping. The noise and confusion seem to mock the whole idea of peace. Even those who do not acknowledge the season must put up with the crowds and traffic caused by those who do.

What do you think of when you think of the word “peace?” Is it the opportunity to sit quietly reading a book? Is it a bath with aromatherapy candles? Or is it the absence of hatred and war? Quiet is not abundant at this time of year and many are concerned for the safety of loved ones fighting in far-away countries. Yet, we are told that this is to be a time of peace on earth.

What do you think “peace” meant to earth’s inhabitants over 2000 years ago? Scripture tells us that Mary did not have peace at first when the angel Gabriel told her what was about to transpire. Luke 1:26 (ESV) says, “But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Joseph experienced his own inner turmoil – a definite lack of peace – when he found out that his intended wife was expecting a child conceived out of wedlock.

And what about the night Jesus was born? An angel appeared to a group of shepherds frightening them. This was an understandable response for earthly inhabitants not accustomed to encountering heavenly beings. The angel told them not to be afraid. This angel was soon joined by others who praised God by singing, (Luke 2:14 KJV) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

We hear seasonal songs like “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” that elicit a picture of calm and quietness on the night Jesus was born. And yet, nothing is probably further from the truth. Bethlehem was busy with out-of-towners vying for places to stay. There was no way to call the Bethlehem “Motel 6” for advance reservations. For most people this time was their equivalent of an April 15th Tax Day and a forced emergency trip back home all wrapped up into one! No, I doubt there was calm and quiet on that night. I think Bethlehem was loud and smelly; the journey exhausting and resulting in arguments between travelers trying to obtain shelter. Amidst it all there was an angel telling the shepherds that peace was on earth.

Fast forward approximately 33 years. Jesus was about to die and his disciples were troubled and afraid. He had just told them that He was leaving, that one of them would betray Him, and that Peter would deny Him three times before morning. This was not the type of thing they wanted to hear from the Messiah! They wanted to break free of Roman rule and to reestablish the Davidic kingdom on earth! John chapter 14 was written specifically to calm their fears, which could otherwise be described as their lack of peace. Toward the end of the chapter in verse 27 (ESV) he states, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” He had previously told them that after His departure He would send the Comforter (KJV) to them and that the Holy Spirit would remain to teach them what all these things meant that Jesus was now telling them. If his disciples, the very people who believed He truly was the Messiah, had so much trouble accepting Him and His intentions, what must the rest of the locals have thought about him? It doesn't sound like a very peaceful time then, either.

Going farther back in history was the era of Isaiah the prophet. His book was written during a time of horrific idolatry in Judah. His prophecies foretold of certain destruction. In the midst of it all, Isaiah 26:3, 4 (ESV) says, “You (God) keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” The recipe of peace is given in the very book that tells of that nation's imminent destruction. Evidently, current events do not determine whether or not there is peace on earth.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one of my favorite American poets partly because he wrote one of my favorite Christmas poems-turned-hymn. I loved it even as a child because it spoke of hope during troubling times. When written in 1864 the nation was caught in the throes of the bloody Civil War. Longfellow's 20-year-old son, Charles, had recently been wounded in the war. His wife, Fannie, had tragically died in 1861 when her dress caught fire in their home library. Longfellow himself was severely burned and permanently scarred, both physically and emotionally, from trying to extinguish the flame that took the life of his beloved wife.

A mere three years later he penned those words – including 2 stanzas that are usually omitted from print today – that have come to personify the depth of despair that men can feel in this sinful, hate-filled world, and the hope of peace that they can experience once they look toward the One whose very name is Peace.

Christmas Bells
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)
"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth,
good-will to men!"

For scriptural discussion of the poem and hymn please see here.
Peace is not an emotion. It is a person. Jesus Christ is Peace. He did not come to end all wars between nations. He did not come to insure us moments void of noise. He came to be the truce-maker between man and God! No more would man need to be at war with his Creator. Romans 5:1 says, that “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the meaning of peace on earth. It is peace with God. Amidst war and rumors of war, financial uncertainty, political turmoil, persecution and martyrdom of Christians throughout the world, there is still peace on earth. It is found within the Person of the Prince of Peace and within the hearts of those He inhabits.

John 16:33 – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pooh Strikes Again!

Note to Karen's Prince Charming: You knew I was gonna tell, right?

Yesterday the Charming family was over for Sunday dinner. While preparations for the meal were underway Polly, Tigger,and Sweet Pea busily played with toys kept in a spare room for just such an occasion. Prince Charming, Pastor Dad, and a college student friend were sitting in the living room reading the Sunday paper while Karen and I did other things, like preparing the meal and the table.

It isn't unusual for Sweet Pea to be expelled from the spare room where her sisters set up elaborate scenes for the FP "people" because she tends to bulldoze them. Yesterday she made her way into the living room carrying the little plastic Winnie the Pooh figures left over from the Bear's toddler years.

Twenty-one month old Sweet Pea doesn't say much beyond the necessary "Hey!," "more!" and "need it." Gestures seem to suffice for most other communication. But even without words Sweet Pea gets her point across emphatically.

Upon her arrival in the room she began to set up Pooh and friends in a row on the floor. She had Rabbit, Tigger, Owl, and Pooh all nicely arranged like little soldiers. The lone remaining figure was tucked behind her foot when her daddy (Prince Charming) asked her, "Where's Eeyore?" whereupon the shrewd little tot pointed directly back at him with a grin on her face!

I was aware that my grandchildren are brilliant but I now suspect that even the young ones are reading our family blogs when their parents think they are napping and they are comprehending what they read!

Just in case you have no idea what this discussion is about feel free to read an earlier post here that explains why we found Sweet Pea's use of the Pooh character so hilarious.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

25 Years Ago


Isn't it funny how some things stick in your mind? For instance, I can remember many details about the day and week you were born. Pastor Dad was preaching a revival meeting that week. In our defense, you were supposed to be born in November, so when the pastor of that church scheduled the meeting we all thought you'd be a newborn babe-in-arms by then. That nice pastor also knew that we were a young couple who needed financial and emotional encouragement. His church was prepared to minister to us while Dad ministered to them. The only problem was that you didn't come on schedule. The services began that Sunday a.m. with me walking around looking like I'd swallowed a Thanksgiving turkey whole!

But come you did eventually, and even though December 7th is a day the nation remembers as one that will live in infamy, we remember it a bit differently. Here are the things I remember from the day you were born:

  • It was Wednesday. Pastor Dad usually led an a.m. Bible study for the second shift workers of our church. I asked him not to go because I "felt funny." This was about 9 a.m.
  • I called the doctor because we lived 45 minutes from the hospital and we had to drop Karen off at Mamaw's house, another 30 minutes away, when the time came. He told me to come to the office and he'd examine me.
  • It was a cold, sunny day.
  • The doctor told me that he didn't think I was in labor but that he'd call his colleague at the hospital to tell him I was coming. We were to take our time, drop Karen off, then get to the hospital some time later that afternoon. This was about noon.
  • We dropped Karen off with Mamaw. I made phone calls to my mother and others telling them that I was going to the hospital to be induced.
  • While driving we stopped to get gas. After all, there was still a possibility that Dad would be driving to the other side of town to preach that evening as scheduled. He got out of the car to pump the gas. About that time, a sense of urgency (a.k.a PAIN) hit me. I began banging on the windshield and yelling for him to get back in the car immediately! This was about 2 p.m.
  • I heard the song "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" for the first time and laughed myself silly. It was better than crying from the urgency.
  • When we arrived at the hospital, the staff took forever to get me upstairs to the labor-delivery area because they thought I was coming to be induced. They finally got the message and moved me upstairs pronto! This was about 3 p.m.
  • The hospital was equipped with a couple of those new-fangled labor-delivery suites and I got one! (This was back in the day before everyone and their uncle was allowed to attend the birth, and before the day where being in one room from start-to-finish was the norm. Wow, you're old. )
  • Dad and I watched t.v. while I labored without the benefits of pain relievers. I remember that Match Game was one of the shows we watched.
  • During "The Muppet Show" (Loretta Swift was the guest star) the nurse came to check me. She told me I was at 6 cm. Immediately after she left the room I yelled for her to get back in there and check me again. She wouldn't come so I sent Dad after her. When she came in she checked me and proceeded to yell for the doctor, who happened to be in the hallway because he had arrived to induce me. Surprise, surprise!
  • The hospital didn't have the whole "birth suite" down to an exact science yet so they didn't have an all-purpose bed. The nurse began to move me onto a different bed. She told me to lift myself up but I was shaking so badly that I lost my temper and yelled at her. I immediately started apologizing and crying like some sorry drunk. The nurse just laughed. She'd heard worse, I think.
  • And then YOU were born! And what a nice, big baby you were! 8 lbs., 8 ozs. It was now around 5 p.m.
  • After several minutes they took you to the nursery for your examination and bath. I then got up off the bed and walked around. I made the phone calls telling everyone about your birth. Not everyone was home. Since Grandma and Grandpa got off work at 5 p.m. they were on the road to their house (no cell phones back then). My grandma called them at home and gave them the news. Your Dad left for the revival meeting about the time that I got taken to the room that was to be mine throughout the rest of our stay in the hospital.
  • First my dinner arrived. Then the visitors started arriving. And finally, Dad came back at the end of the evening and spent as much time as he could before they threw him out. Even daddies weren't allowed to stay at the hospital all night back then.

Lots of things have changed through the years but some things never do. For instance, I still love you with all my heart and thank God for you every day! Hope your day is absolutely wonderful!

(And hope you still like the birthday gift!)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Where Exactly Is "Global?"

I am diligently searching for that place getting progressively warmer called Global. Is it somewhere in Arizona, Africa, or the Sahara Desert? I did an Internet search to find such a place but without success. I know that it must be some specific location because as a general term it would imply that it applies to all and I can tell you that this isn't happening in Ohio.

Last night, the bus carrying the Bear and basketball buddies was late arriving home. Something about having to stop to feed all those hungry athletes. Can you imagine how the employees of that little fast-food restaurant felt when the bus pulled up in their parking lot at midnight?! Pastor Dad and I made our own late-night fast-food stop for hot coffee while we awaited their return. We needed something to keep us awake and warm until we could climb into our bed at 3 a.m. The night was cold but clear.

Imagine our surprise when we awoke to a winter wonderland around 8 a.m!

Everyone knows from my blog header that we live on a hill but few know how fun it can be getting off the hill in icy conditions. Pastor Dad left home at 10 a.m. and had an exciting ride as a result. I'll try to explain it for the uninitiated. First, our driveway is level, but once the car is out on the street it is a quick drop to the stop sign. We always hope and pray that we can actually stop there in bad weather. If we don't the car ends up in a stand of trees, road signs, and thicket directly across the road.

Second, if all goes well a decision must then be made as to which direction to turn: left or right. If the choice is left, one must ascend to the crest of a hill once more. If the choice is right, one must descend on a twisting, winding 3/4 mile road to the bottom. Have you ever seen The Grinch going down and around Mount Crumpet? Or perhaps you've watched the luge or bobsled races during the winter Olympics? Now you've got the idea! Gravity will take one to the bottom, but one wants to arrive in the fewest pieces and with the fewest dents possible.

I'm not sure if Pastor Dad got the car to stop first or not but one way or the other he landed across the road. Neither he nor the car were damaged, but once he was on his way again he called home to tell us to stay put. Not to worry. I wasn't going anywhere. I made my grocery store run yesterday and that was without even knowing there was going to be a snow.

Soon there were police blocking the bottom of the hill to keep the adventurous from attempting to climb to the top and more were at the head of our street keeping anyone from attempting to bobsled down. And there they remained until scrapers and salt trucks came through a few hours later.

We were able to get the Bear to his basketball games this afternoon. Life goes on here snow or no snow. But I was just thinking about that wonderful place called Global where the weather is getting progressively warmer and it is summer every day. Here in Ohio the polar bears at the zoo are sending post cards to their relatives in the arctic telling them to "come on down! The weather's great!"

A New "Beanie" Baby

When the Princess was just a little tike she acquired several of those pellet-filled stuffed animals that were all the rage. The biggest problem we had then was keeping the puppy (our real one, not a stuffed one) from chewing holes in them thereby spilling the contents all over the house.

Time went by, the Princess put away her toys, and her new dog came on the scene. Some things have changed little, though. The Princess is now collecting a new kind of "beanie" baby and I suspect that Fergie is just as interested as that other puppy was years ago.

Mirroring the rapid advance in communication technology for humans, one seems to have developed in the doggy realm as well. That chihuahua found a way to teach the Princess's newest acquisition a few tricks! The following ultrasound video suggests that the new baby has many of the characteristics of a Mexican Jumping Bean!

(My apologies for the light in the picture. The baby really isn't reading, even though as this baby's Gram, you know I think he/she is going to be very bright. After literally days of trying to get the ultrasound video to upload I finally resorted to taking video with my camera of the video playing on the computer.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Playing Hooky

Ah! What a nice feeling! Today was supposed to be the day of "Road Trip! Chapter 4," but I managed to escape a full day of driving for the sake of my life's latest time-eater: basketball.

When Little Miss Polly called me this morning to ask if we were going to taekwondo I begged off because of the Bear's basketball game at a location 2 hours away from home. I was pretty sure Bear would be too tired to participate in both sports today, and positive that I wouldn't be up to driving the 30 minutes to taekwondo, then the same amount of time home, then 2 hours to the basketball game, and then the same amount of time home.

But now I think I owe Polly an apology. It is true that Bear went to basketball, but if I had gone along I wouldn't be sitting here now doing stream-of-consciousness typing! I also think I owe Karen an apology for not taking Tigger off her hands this morning. Yes, I can read between the blog-lines. :)

So how did the Bear get to his far-off play place? By bus. Bless his coach's heart! The man somehow managed to procure one, and for the mere cost of $5 someone could put their favorite player on said bus and wave goodbye! Seemed a small price to pay for sanity. Might I add that Bear has TWO games tomorrow, both home games, but TWO games nonetheless, so I didn't feel too guilty for missing this one. Of course, it does mean that at about 1:00 a.m. I will need to make the 30 minute trek to our home gym to get him off the bus, but again, a small price to pay for having the day to myself.

Do you know how I spent my free time? First, I yelled at the dog innumerable times to get her out of the trash, then picked up after the dog when yelling only resulted in her doing what she wanted to do anyway, took the dog outside (not only to "do her duty" but also to stare wistfully down the road toward friends' houses where she thought her boy might be hiding from her), started Sunday dinner, baked a cake, yelled at dog to leave cake alone, wiped white powdered sugar off said chocolate lab's nose ("Harry the Dirty Dog" anyone?), washed several loads of laundry, yelled at dog not to grab dirty laundry from hamper, and after putting dog in her crate for a nap (hers, not mine) I listened to the silence. It was wonderful!

If only I could've bought a $5 bus ticket to ANYWHERE for the dog it would've been the perfect day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Don't Make Me Explain It

The company that did the DNA testing sent the names of two people that they determine are paternally related to me within 10 generations. This is good news since I am able to trace back 5 generations already. If the results are correct - and who wants to argue with DNA? - then I calculate that the two people and I share a common ancestor circa the mid-17th century. Sounds like leads worth pursuing! After all, we've just celebrated Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims are a full 13 generations back in my lineage. Ten generations sounds doable indeed.

For the sake of anonymity let's say that my maiden name is "Smith." One of the things that I was hoping to accomplish was to determine the etymology of said name. It is either originally English like I inherited it or an Anglicized version of its German equivalent of "Schmidt." People of both surnames lived in Virginia where my earliest known "Smith" ancestor lived.

The surnames of the two close matches were neither "Smith" nor "Schmidt." They were more like "Jones" and "Heinz." Not even close. I decided to contact the two gentlemen anyway.

Mr. Heinz did not respond. Mr. Jones responded immediately but was of no help whatsoever. Not only does he live smack-dab in the middle of England but he is incredulous that he could possibly be related to anyone in America today! Never mind the fact that I live in America and my dad's DNA is an almost identical match to his own!

Then there is that little matter of the difference between the Smith and Jones surnames. He asked me, "How could this have happened?!"

As the mother of four, I've answered my fair share of embarrassing questions concerning human reproduction, but suffice it to say that I am not about to start explaining such things to someone no more closely related than 10 generations! Do you think he'd understand what is meant by a "non-paternal" event? Probably not. If Brits in boats boggle his mind one can only imagine what birds and bees would do to him!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Road Trip! Chapter 3

Of our recent road trips, this was DEFINITELY the one I enjoyed the most. It was the longest of the three but it had all the necessary elements to make it the winner, specifically, loved ones at the end of the journey. I'm not sure that anyone can ask for more than that.

When we arrived at the home of our Li'l Lulu and Sgt. Dan, the military man had vacated the premises. Perhaps he didn't want to be there when his mother-in-law arrived. Or perhaps we were just so late arriving - like after midnight - that he had already reported for work. Which do you fear offending the most, Dan? The U.S. government or your mother-in-law?!

Aside from Lou, our four "granddogs" were also very happy to see us. Since they had four grandparents (Pastor Dad, my parents, and I), and an "uncle" (the Bear), in residence there was always a petting hand or lap awaiting them. Rumor has it that they suspect that when their Daddy Dan reports for his assignment next year they will be shipped off to willing family members while their Mommy Lou gets the house ready to sell. We're pretty sure that Zeus has been told that my parents have a fenced-in backyard because he was buttering my mom up practically from the moment she set foot in the door! His brother, George, wasn't about to be outdone. Besides, George has visited Grandma's house before and found it to his liking. He did his best to muscle his way into her heart - and lap - several times! Here is a picture of George with his great-grandma:

Lou spent a lot of time putting together many delicious dishes for Thanksgiving dinner. She let us stir a few vegetables or add some garnishes but she was the chef du jour. She did a fantastic job of putting together a meal for our large family and for any lonely military personnel that might drop by looking for a home-cooked meal. Thank you for all the hard work, Lou! The biggest problem was getting the roasting button to pop up on the turkey. I began to fear that joking about requiring my meat to be extremely tanned might mean that they had purchased a bird with a "done" setting well above the norm. Of course, having us opening the oven door every five minutes to check it probably didn't help matters either!

Since Lou has a birthday next week we decided to celebrate while we were there. We purchased an ice cream cake that managed to have its greeting smeared all over the plastic cover on the ride home. I'm not sure who was holding it.

She said it still tasted great. We wish she would've shared with us, though. (Just kidding, Lou!)

We were there long enough to see the holiday seasons change. I'm sure some people think it seems like we were there months.

I was glad that we went shopping on Black Friday. Funny thing. All of the Christmas gifts were for Dan! That's because he won't be home (meaning: with us) for Christmas. We also bought Lou's birthday present that day. We thought it best to purchase gifts there as opposed to buying them in advance and transporting them. When you consider there were 5 people in the car and 5 peoples' luggage in the trunk the wisdom of this decision becomes obvious.

So in spite of the fact that the week went by much too fast, and that I ate much too much food, and that I miss my daughter and her husband and dogs much too much, I think it was a wonderful road trip.

This picture of Zelda, one of the granddogs, sums it up for me. Since our car didn't pull into our garage until 3 o'clock this morning I'm still feeling a bit Zelda-y this evening. Guess it's time to find my favorite blanket and pillow.

Sweet dreams!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How To Have A Real Thanksgiving

(Before I begin, I'd like to say "Happy Birthday!" to Ellen. I'm thankful for your friendship! You might read this days after the fact, but I thought of you and prayed for you today. Hope your day was great!)

On to the lesson at hand.

I think I mentioned that I am descended from some of the original Mayflower Pilgrims. John Alden, Priscilla Mullins, and Priscilla's parents, William and Alice Mullins are my ancestors. If nothing else, you might be familiar with the names of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins from the poem by Longfellow (another descendant) called "The Courtship of Miles Standish." Within this poem is the well-known line, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" Whether the events of this poem ever occurred is not at issue. The fact that many know their names because of the poem is my point. These are my 10th-great grandparents. I like studying their lives, for the most part. Some things I read disturb me, though.

In this world of political correctness, to which I will probably never adapt, I'd like to say that I don't care what foods the Pilgrims ate. I don't need all the details, except a few important ones. For instance, I need to know who they thanked at their feast. Are people really arguing that these "Puritans" who left England and went first to The Netherlands and then to America didn't thank God on that day? I find that hard to believe!

The current argument is that the celebration was to thank the Native Americans for helping them through the hard winter. Of course they thanked the Native Americans! But they thanked God also! True Christians always thank the Lord for sending the right persons along at the right time in answer to prayers for deliverance, and they also thank the people that God used to provide that deliverance. I don't see the contradiction. But to say that religious people didn't thank God at all is absurd.

I also need to know the "why" they gave thanks and I just gave you a very, very b-r-o-a-d hint.

Thanksgiving didn't originate with Pilgrims who traveled to the New World on a ship. It didn't originate with Native Americans either. Giving thanks has always happened within the hearts of thankful peoples. For instance, the Bible is full of poems of praise written by thankful Jews.

Do you know what the aforementioned thankful people had in common? They were survivors.

When the Children of Israel were miraculously taken through the Red Sea they sang a song rejoicing in God's deliverance (Exodus 15:1-21). When Deborah and Barak defeated Sisera they sang a song of praise for God's deliverance (Judges chapter 5). David wrote songs of praise when God delivered him from his enemies. Psalm 18 was specifically written as a praise to God for delivering him from Saul. Psalm 30 was written to thank God for delivering him from death. The Pilgrims of Plimouth Colony saw half of their number die that first winter. They had a feast celebrating that they had been delivered from death themselves.

So how can you have a REAL Thanksgiving? Follow these simple steps:

1. Think back over the hardships of the last year. Did you have anything bad happen? Did any loved ones die causing you grief? Did you experience any accidents or serious illnesses? Any sins that caused heartache and pain? Write those things down.

2. Did the Lord deliver you through any of these horrible events? Is He still helping you deal with some things on a daily basis? Can you see the hand of God at work in your life? Try to see God's sustaining grace during each event you listed.

3. Make a list entitled "Things For Which I'm Thankful."

Most of us do step #3 annually, sort of an advance penance for overeating. The list usually includes our salvation, family, health, church, food, and similar items. These things are not bad ones but they are not specific enough. Sometimes our hearts aren't in the writing of the list, especially when we're trying to get past this little chore so we can get on with the feast-and-football festival.

If you still don't understand my point let's engage in a little role-playing exercise. Say "thank you" like you are talking to the person I've described in the following two scenarios. Your response is in italics:

A. A person holds a door open for you so you say, "thank you."

B. Your child is trapped in a burning house but as you watch in terror a fireman runs up and places your rescued child in your arms. You say, "THANK YOU!!!!!"

Do you get my point now? It is a matter of perspective. Same words, different intensity. Go rewrite those lists. You are a survivor! This Thanksgiving thank God for His deliverance and say it like you really mean it. That's how to have a real Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Really? I HATE playing this game!

I couldn't resist. Pastor Dad came upstairs this morning and asked me if I had taken the quiz that Lou had on her blog. I told him that last night I was too tired to take quizzes more complicated than "How long have I been sitting on my backside today?" Or "How far have I ridden in a car the last 2 days?"

He told me what board game he is and I thought I'd better take the quiz so that I can engage in polite conversation with the rest of my family, all of whom seem to have already taken the quiz. Here are my results:

You Are Chess

You are brilliant and shrewd. You can often predict what people will do in the future.

You thrive in complex situations. You deal with contradictions well.

You can have many streams of though going on at your mind at once. You keep track of things well.

You are very patient. You have lots of endurance, even when your energy dwindles

I hear all my family laughing right about now.

Predict future events? Thrive in complex situations? Well, I am a wife and mother and pastor's wife. Enough said.

The contradictions are usually in my own head. Good thing I can deal well with them. :)

The endurance when energy dwindles? Well, if you've read the two previous posts I guess we "could" conclude that if this isn't a bull's eye it is at least in the neighborhood of being on target.

Not sure I can keep track of things well, although I have been known to find items (like keys) that others in the family were supposed to be keeping track of well. Not going to name any names here. YOU know who you are! And there are several of you!

But if any of you (and I don't care who you are or how much I love you) challenge me to a game of chess you are likely to get the board and pieces thrown at you. So much for that part about patience!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Road Trip! Chapter 2

Oh, my! Am I tired! In the last 2 days we've logged 500 miles in the car and there was no beach or family at the end of the trip. Bummer!

I am so-o-o tired that I can't bear the thought of getting in the car again to go anywhere, not even to see Sgt. Dan and Lou on Tues. Stop that hysterical laughter, Dan. I can hear it from here. And don't cry Lou. Of course we're coming! I'll be able to sit for a mind-numbing long time again soon. It is just that I've got the just-got-off-the-horse feeling right now.

I told our friend, Donna, via email earlier today that I've been having problems with insomnia. Well, Donna, I think I've found the cure. I don't think I'll have any sleep problems tonight.

I didn't even do the driving today. No, don't panic! 13-year-old Bear didn't drive, although I'm sure he would've been happy to oblige. Pastor Dad rearranged his whole day just so he could suffer with chauffeur us to the game. We drove 175 miles ONE WAY so that we could stay to watch 2 of our teams play like kids who had ridden in cars 175 miles ONE WAY and then we got back in our cars and drove home. Whew!

I did the math. I've been sitting for about 10 hours straight. First, I sat for 3.5 hours in the car going north. Second, I sat for over 2 hours on wooden bleachers. And then I sat again on the return ride of 3.5 hours. We left home around noon and returned around 10 p.m. See? I'm good at math. And that's about as complicated as the computations can be that I can do right now.

No one got to whup up on anyone today, thankfully, since I've already hinted at the fact that the 2 teams we watched lost. But there were no blow-outs. The Bear's team lost by 5 points. The ball acted like it just didn't want to go through those hoops today. Our JV team lost by a few more than that but only because they put in second and third string players at the end. I'm sure the coach thought about how angry some parents would be if they came all that distance and their child didn't even get to play. We won't know until later how our other 2 teams did. We weren't sticking around to find out first-hand.

The opponents today were another homeschooling group like our own. Last year they made the trip to our town and we beat them due to their apparent travel fatigue. I'm noticing a pattern here.

Think I'm going to head off to bed and dream of days when homeschooling actually means doing schoolwork, playing sports means badminton and volleyball in my in-laws' backyard, and riding in a car for a back-aching long time means that loved ones we haven't seen for awhile are at the end of the trip.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Road Trip! Chapter 1

There will be several over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for future installments.

Today's trip was for the Bear's first basketball game of the season. Said game was about 90 minutes north. He fell asleep in the car on the way (and on the way home, too - I must be boring company). When he awoke going we were in the midst of a blinding snowstorm with white-flocked evergreens as scenery. We were about 10 miles from our destination.

He asked, "Where are we?"

"In Siberia, I think," was my reply. He just grinned. He's used to my quirky answers. He wanted to know if I could get him back to the state of Ohio in time for his game. Yessiree, and with time to spare.

While we were slowly picking our way along in traffic I was listening to the local Christian radio station. They gave the weather report. 50% chance of snow! Uh, fellas? You might want to look out your windows and change that to 100% now. I'm pretty sure it is a safe assumption.

We arrived early enough to watch our jr. high girls team whup up on their opponents. "Whup up on" is a term we homeschoolers use. You won't find it in any of the study manuals for the ACT or SAT, or in any curriculum's vocabulary lists, but it is a useful term. It was especially useful tonight.

The girls and the boys were able to whup up on their opponents, each team winning by about 40 points. Homeschoolers may not be socialized but they know how to play sports! And on teams, too!

There were some "uh-oh" moments, like when the opposition scored their first points several minutes into the game when one of our players made a basket on the wrong end of the court. Okay, maybe not all homeschoolers can play sports. Just kidding. This boy is not a rookie, so it was nerves, plain and simple. He's a good natured kid and a talented basketball player so he was able to gather his wits about him and go on to score many more points for our team. And no, it wasn't the Bear. If it was, do you think I'd be telling you about it? I think not!

Tomorrow, Bear and I are headed 3 hours north into a neighboring state. Good thing some of us are stay-at-home moms with nothing else to do but drive our offspring all over kingdom come. (sigh)

Next Tuesday Pastor Dad, the Bear, my parents, and I will be driving 10 hours to spend Thanksgiving with Lulu and Sgt. Dan.

Sgt. Dan, are you reading this? I'll bet you just can't contain your excitement that I, your mother-in-law, am coming to visit! Perhaps you'll want to get one of those tickers on Lou's blog that tells how many days it is until my arrival. And it better not be set to count down the days until I leave. Understand?! And no raw meat either! I like all my entrees to be sporting a nice tan, thank-you-very-much! I'll give you the rest of my instructions upon my arrival. Have a pen and paper ready. Okay? See you soon! XXXOOOXXX

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Results Are In

The DNA results, that is!

For a genealogist, DNA research is a dream-come-true. Now that it is inexpensive enough for the layman (like me) to afford, it is a tool that can help break down some brick walls. In order to do a surname study one must have a Y-chromosome, and I obviously don't have one of those. That's why my dad had his arm twisted agreed to take it for me.

There is a lot of hype that one must cut through in order to use the results ("About 22 million years ago your ancestor moved from . . ."). A real working knowledge of world history is helpful, but is still between 6,000 and 10,000 years, subtract from that the years between Adam to Noah and . . . you get the picture. Migration patterns are a little easier within the framework of thousands of years and not millions.

Long range, DNA can be used to pinpoint the part of the world one's paternal ancestors are from because slight mutations in the chromosomes tend to be regional. (Think "all prospects for marriage are to be found within your own neighborhood.")

Short range, DNA can be used to break down brick walls. For instance, the fartherest I can trace my surname is to an ancestor born in VA in 1810. It is my goal to find someone ANYWHERE who matches closely my DNA (or my dad's actually) so that we can try to find common ancestors.

Virginia is a big state, especially in 1810! It encompassed all of what is now WV, too. And my maiden name is an extremely common one. I think you see my problem.

I "think" I previously pinpointed the area of VA where my ancestor was born, but since we had a little thing called a Civil War back in the 1860s that devastated many of VA's records, and since states didn't keep birth records back then anyway, all attempts at breaking down that wall have been unsuccessful.

Searches through that area revealed that the people with my surname in the late 1700s - early 1800s were from England or Germany. The Germans Anglicized the name, which further complicates things. One of the things I wanted to find out was whether I should be looking more in the English settlements or the German ones.

Turns out that my paternal heritage is neither English or German. It is Scandinavian?!

Surprised? So was I.

Grandpa used to say we were Dutch. I always thought he meant German as in "PA Dutch" because he has one traceable German line anyway. Turns out he probably knew what he was talking about.

Guess this explains why I like cooler weather better than hot weather, and why my complexion is so doggone fair. My ancestors hardly saw the sun anyway. They would've been at home in our neck of the woods lately.

Perhaps I'll start looking for a pair of those wooden shoes to add to my wardrobe. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Family Jewels

They are worth millions.

Before anyone attempts to rob us of some fortune they think we're hiding I'd best explain. Our real treasure is in Heaven where thieves can't get it so don't bother trying. There's a pretty tough guard on duty so nothing you dish out can beat His power.

But we've got something here at our house on earth worth millions. My jewels alone are worth over 27 million. Pastor Dad's are worth over 28 million. And therein lies the problem story.

A few months ago my mother gave the Bear her old computer because we talked her into getting another one she wanted a new one. Her old one now sits in our family room next to this one, the one that I'm on right now, because we are cautious people who believe a computer should be in a public place where anyone walking by can see what is on the screen.

If you walk by the Bear's computer you will see wallpaper courtesy of the USMC. It changes from time to time but always remains on that same theme. And except for the occasional checks of email and Facebook, that is about the extent of the Bear's time on "his" computer. If anyone ever did a fingerprint analysis of the keypad and mouse few of the prints would belong to the Bear. In my pre-blog days my fingerprints would probably have been the dominant ones.

Bear's computer wasn't in the house too many days before I found the addictive game of Super Gem Drop on it. It took weeks to get the hang of it, but get the hang of it I did! I wiped my parents' names off the board totally. (The "Clear Scores" option helped.)

I'm one of those crazy mathematicians that likes tessellations (Go look it up!), geometry, and anything else that involves tiles, patterns, and pretty pictures. This game so consumed my imagination that I dreamed about it! I devised combinations and configurations so as to achieve high scores.

And what was Pastor Dad doing all this time? He was lurking. Every night he'd entice me with sweet words such as, "Come play that game and let me watch you. I find it relaxing." And silly me, I'd do it willingly. He'd sit in his chair looking over my shoulder and I'd test my theories. A few times he tempted me with chocolate and got me talking about my strategies. That sly guy knows that chocolate loosens my tongue. If I'm ever privy to national secrets the first person who offers me a Hershey's bar (my contraband of choice) will know all.

A couple of times I had some housework that needed attention and couldn't spare the time. I remember telling him, "If you like the game so much why don't you play it instead of just being a spectator?" So he did. And he beat me. Okay, it took him a few weeks, but HE BEAT ME!

The next time I feel the need to offer such a challenge I hope someone claps their hand over my mouth to shut me up. Since there is only the Bear and Pastor Dad to do it I don't see much chance of that happening. So now Pastor Dad is so addicted to the game that I have to find other ways to occupy myself.

And that's how all of you got stuck with me! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bear Gets His Kicks

Bear participated in his taekwondo school's tournament today. We were there for about an hour and walked out with two awards. Pretty big accomplishment, I'd say! (I, personally, didn't win any awards, you understand, but I did get to carry the trophy to the car.)

The thing is, it is a miracle that we got there. The owner and master instructor owns schools in two locations. He told me that the tournament was going to take place in the other location than the one we usually attend. We've never been to that school and have only a vague idea of its location. I went to the school's website prior to leaving the house in order to get the address. Imagine my surprise when I saw our school's address given as the tournament location!

I asked the Bear about this change of plans. Our conversation went something like this (please read the "Me" parts in an incredulous tone and the "Bear" parts in your best "Well, duh, Mom" voice):

Me: Didn't Master G tell us that the tournament was going to be at the other school?

Bear: Yeah.

Me: It says here that it is going to be at your school. Did you know about this?

Bear: Yeah.

Me: When did all of this change?

Bear: I don't know. He told you it was going to be at the other location a long time ago. (Meaning that I should've just assumed that things had changed. I guess I should brush up on my clairvoyance skills. After all, how could it possibly be anyone's fault but my own that I didn't know about the change of plans?)

But once we got where we were supposed to be, and on time, too, everything went okaay. By that I mean that when the Bear did his form he was doing great until he slipped and fell. The Bear is so good at forms, though, that he still came in second place! Incredible!

Forms were followed by sparring. This is the event that always has my heart in my throat. Before the event the students stand around in little groups talking amongst themselves while watching other competitions. These kids are friends, or at least friendly, with each other. In a matter of minutes they will become warrior opponents kicking and punching each other for all they're worth. Understand now why I'm always such a basket case during the proceedings? I am the Bear's mama and everyone knows you don't mess with a Mama Bear! And I don't care how much I like you or your mama either!

I took several videos of the 2 round match but I watched them and found things in each that I don't want to share. The background noise is deafening at intervals, including places where I am yelling at my child telling him to get in there and be aggressive, not some of my finer moments if taken out of context.

But "get in there" he did and you can see the video of him being awarded first place. The reason it was taken from behind is because there was another contest mat in front of him and in order for me to get a decent picture I would've had to have been standing on that mat with other teen-aged gladiators who were about to be unleashed. They had protective gear whereas I had none. Besides, I had a new camera to protect. :)

Here is a photo of the Bear, the first place trophy, and his proud instructor (with school emblem removed). Ah, Grasshopper! You have learned well! Notice the red targets where his opponents are to punch or kick in order to score points.

In my own defense I would like to explain our reasoning for allowing our children to take a martial arts class.

  • Master G is a wonderful Christian man who does not teach our children anything that contradicts the Bible. His motto could be "real men read the Bible."
  • Taekwondo is a self-defense course and is only to be used for such except in controlled tournaments such as today. The only way to get practice is to be aggressive with each other in a non-threatening environment (which doesn't exist when there are Mama Bears on the premises).
  • It teaches discipline, flexibility, and strength. (I personally think it is important to have your child under your own discipline before somebody teaches him moves he can use to beat you up every time he disagrees with you! I've met a few little kids in class that I wouldn't want to take home because their parents think it the coach's job to restore discipline to their family. Honey, if you can't do it, some other adult isn't going to be able to do it either.)
  • It is the Clark Kents of the world (such as our Bear), and not the Lex Luthors, who make the best Superman-types!
  • It makes you a babe magnet! Or that's what I heard today (from a man who has a black belt, a wife and four small daughters). I'm hoping this won't be the case for many years yet. Still, having a young man with a black belt courting your daughter might make some dad feel safer sending his daughter out into the world with said young man. I'll let you know how this works out in about 20 years or so.