Tuesday, December 30, 2008
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
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:
- 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.
- Prepare any or all of your favorite foods and desserts.
- 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.
- Bake or cook goodies as usual, then set them out to cool.
- 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
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
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.)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
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!
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
- 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.
- Finished school with the Bear until after the New Year. Students aren't the only people glad for holiday vacations!
- 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.
- Nice day = dog outside in kennel. This also did wonders for my disposition.
- Big family get-togethers coming up! Happy thoughts!
- 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!
- My dad's DNA results were accepted by one of our surname's study groups! Waiting....
- 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!"
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!)
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 DayTheir old familiar carols play,And wild and sweetThe words repeatOf peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,The belfries of all ChristendomHad rolled alongThe unbroken songOf peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till, ringing, singing on its way,The world revolved from night to day,A voice, a chimeA chant sublimeOf peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black accursed mouthThe cannon thundered in the South,And with the soundThe carols drownedOf peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rentThe hearth-stones of a continent,And made forlornThe households bornOf 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 songOf 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.
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
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
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
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!"
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
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
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
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.