Thursday, November 30, 2006

NaBloPoMo: A Tribute in Song

What to post on the final day of NaBloPoMo?

I could do another creative writing meme.

I could talk about what I've learned about during this masochistic challenge.

I could introduce you to some new bloggers I met this month.

Instead, I'll leave you with the lyrics of this timeless song. I think this song pretty much sums up how I feel about my NaBloPoMo experience. I dedicate it to all of us NaBloPoMo'ers out there.

And now. . .

My Way

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

I've loved, I've laughed and cried.
I've had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
"No, oh no not me,
I did it my way".

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!

We did everyone! We really did it.

Until next time, whenever that may be,


30 down, 0 to go

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ebb and Flow

Day 29

As much as I have been self-conscious about being too obviously NaBloPoMoing it in my posts, today I can't muster the mental energy to pretend. My creative juices have ebbed and there isn't anything new to flow into this blogging adventure. Now that I've justified the title of this post, let's move on with one of those posts. You know what I mean, the I-need-to-write-but-am-not-currently-coherent pieces that we forgive on a occasional basis but had better not be the narcissistic foundation of a good blog.

Part of my namby-pamby posting today is due to my lack of sufficient sleep last night. My rosy perspective from Monday was found tried and wanting this morning as I attempted to get Marley ready for school. I know better. I know better than to try to expect total cooperation on a day that Paul is out of town, I haven't slept enough, she woke up before 6 a.m. and I want to get us all out the door in 20 minutes. Of course that is when she will be too cold to move, won't cooperate with getting her socks and shoes on and refuses to flush the toilet. Of course that is also when I will throw all patience to the wind and raise my voice, stomp around and throw up my hands in frustration. I saw a ticker on someone's blog today while I was doing a little NaBloPoMo randomizing. It listed the number of days since this mom had raised her voice. 22 days. Wow! Whatever the number of days since I raised my voices--and I'm sure it wasn't 22--I'm back to square one. 0 days since I've raised my voice to my children. Sigh.

Fortunately, I did get us all out the door with time to hit Starbucks for a non-decaf coffee after dropping off Colin at school (without lunch money would be the unfortunate aside here.) I stopped the car in the parking structure and apologized to Marley for losing my temper. I went over with her why I was irritable (my problem) and what choices she made I was frustrated with (her problem.) I explained clearly what my expectations are for change today and tomorrow and laid out consequences.

One of Marley's consequences is that she had to take a nap when she got home from school. Wednesday is her short day or this would not be an option. I do believe she is resting soundly now and although her transition to wakefulness might be rocky, she will be a better companion when we go to dinner with some friends tonight. One of my threats to insure her cooperation this morning was the cancelling of this dinner. Fortunately, it hasn't come to that.

Colin should be home from school soon. He was so helpful during it all. He made Marley's lunch and tried to get her socks and shoes on her. He helped get us out the door and then offered to head over to grandma and grandpa's house after school with Marley so I could get in a nap. (How completely terrifying must I be when I am tired to get this much cooperation out of a teenager? Frankenstein terrifying I might guess.) And what does he get in return for his help? No lunch money. Mom of the Year Award. You. Are. All. Mine. On top of this, I have displaced guilt because it is so cold outside and he doesn't have his jacket. The guilt is displaced because the jacket was left at our friends' house. Colin doesn't have any other jackets to wear. But, we do have plenty of dad jackets that would suffice. Except that wouldn't be cool. He would rather freeze than wear a non-sanctioned, non-skater cool jacket. Okay Sonny Boy, if that is what you want. I'm putting that guilt away. Right now. In the displaced guilt trash can.

It is cold here in So-So Cal. High 50s. It is also dark and stormy night windy except for the dark and stormy part. The sky is perfectly blue and the wind is vacuuming out the smog as I type this. I do hope it settles down before bedtime or me and at least one of my kids will have a hard time sleeping through the windy chorus.

Well, that flowed out of me more quickly than I thought it would and my physical energy is ebbing. There, now I've tied in that title again. Aren't I clever?

Maybe I need to go take a nap myself.

Until tomorrow,


29 down, 1 to go

1 more people! Can you believe it?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Better Late Than Never: A Pink Ribbon Extravaganza

This past year at my annual physical, the nurse asked me a familiar question--and I gave her a familiar answer:

Nurse: Are you doing monthly breast exams?

Me: No.

Nurse: (Scrunches up face at me and makes a tsk, tsk noise.)

Me: (Feels chagrined, makes promise to self to begin right away.)

Six months later. . .

I have still not performed a BSE (Brease Self-Examination.)

I'm a little late for a breast cancer awareness post. After all, October was the month that was officially dedicated to that cause, but I thought about this the other day and decided it was worth blogging about. Better late than never, right? It deserves my time and my attention; and, like many issues in my life, if I tell someone I'm going to do something, I'm more likely to actually do it.

First some facts:

  • Every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • This year more than 211,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected in the United States.
  • One woman in eight who lives to age 85 will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of in women between the ages of 40 and 55.
  • 1,600 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 400 are predicted to die.
  • Seventy percent of all breast cancers are found through breast self-exams. Not all lumps are detectable by touch. Regular mammograms and monthly breast self-exams are recommended.
  • Eight out of ten breast lumps are not cancerous. If you find a lump, don't panic-call your doctor for an appointment.
  • Mammography is a low-dose X-ray examination that can detect breast cancer up to two years before it is large enough to be felt.
  • When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is 96%. This is good news! Over 2 million breast cancer survivors are alive in America today.
Please note the statistic on breast cancer in men. Although the awareness ribbons which adorn this post are pink and although the vast majority of people who get breast cancer are women, 25% of men diagnosed with breast cancer will die from it. The National Breast Cancer Foundation on their Myths about Breast Cancer page recommends that men perform regular self-examinations also.

I have two friends--close friends, not just acquaintances--who have been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. One friend discovered at age 30. It is almost 13 years later and she is still cancer free. The other friend found out she had breast cancer at age 48. It is about 1 1/2 years later and she is cancer free. This disease has struck close enough to home that I should not allow myself the luxury of waiting another month to begin a habit which might save my life. At 42, I am fully in that group of women, ages 40-55, in which breast cancer is the leading cause of death.

One thing I have bemoaned over the last few years is the amount of routine maintenance it requires as I get older to feel and look good: allergy medication, CPAP machine, exercise, diet, skin care, vitamins, hair color. The list just gets added to every year. Surely I have room in my schedule for one 10 minute exam performed once a month.

A promise to myself:

I commit to performing regular breast self-examinations. I will hold myself accountable by posting BSE at the end of the first post I write after the exam. Hopefully, in addition to maintaining accountability for me, it will serve as a reminder to other women and men to do the same.

Facts for this post were obtained from the website of The National Breast Cancer Foundation. Other online resources include but are in no way limited to the following groups: and The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Pink ribbon icons were obtained at Pink Ribbons a site which provides copyright free breast cancer awareness logos. The Pink Ribbons site is part of the Download Pink Ribbon page operated by Carol Sutton. She collects "free, copyright free pink ribbon symbols, graphic, icons, images, pink ribbon visual material and the like for the use and promotion of raising awareness of breast cancer." If I understand correctly, these symbols may not be commercially used.

Until tomorrow,


28 down, 2 to go

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday: Freestyle

I think I'm going free lance here today and just blah, blah, blah'g instead of doing the regular questions. This is partially because, for today at least, life is feelin' pretty good and I don't really have any desolations to share. I think I'm also feeling a little feisty and rebellious for whatever reason--so the questions are going!

The Thanksgiving holiday was a lot of fun and very relaxing which is saying a lot considering there were 4 to 7 kids in attendance at any given time. I think I've mentioned before that the friends we went to see used to be neighbors and when they moved it changed life for me quite a bit. No more easy kid drop offs or offers to pick up a gallon of milk at the store. More than that though, the loss of the nearness of a confidante, sounding board, prayer partner, etc. was quite severe. It was definitely a treat to spend an extended amount of time in their company.

Friday night I was treated to presents and an ice cream cake to die for in honor of my birthday. In the great Present Piggyback of 2006, Michelle bought me cobalt goblets which inspired Paul to buy me new dishes which inspired Julie to buy me placemats which inspired Tamila to buy me flatware. A whole new place setting makeover in one fell swoop!

(Here is a close up of the lovely dragonfly detail on the dishes.)

A few thousand calories fed the fat cells in my body after eating a chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream, chocolate ganache frosting, pirouette cookies and a dark chocolate medallion. Coldstone Creamery is the best!

Saturday we hung out in the house, in the front yard, at the park--pretty much just hung out. The man-children went out and bought a bunch of 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke and some Mentos for a little e fun.

Finally, although it was tempting to stay longer, it was not practical and we headed home.

Andrew Vachss says that there is your biological family and then there is your family of choice. The W family and the Z family, who joined us on Friday, are my family of choice. I am grateful to love them and in turn to be loved by them.

Until tomorrow,


Also Sleeping with Bread this week:

atypical of nonsensical text: heels are our friends
Lamont of Uphill idealist: Most Connected/Least Connected

27 down, 3 to go

Sunday, November 26, 2006

42 Redux


The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.


The title of the first post I wrote for this blog.


What you get when you add 21 plus 21.


How old I am today.

One year ago, I had started a family blog to keep loved ones up to date on the madcap happenings of Paul, Colin, Marley and Mary. Less than six months later I began this, my third blog. A blogaholic was born.

There is so much I thought I would say on my birthday... but I'm too pooped to post. I went to church early to help with set up so Marley could earn some Brownie points. Real Brownie points to go toward an Inchworm Badge. We put up the tree and decorated it with Aunt Monica's help. I went to Target and bought tree garland and a floor rug. I went to the grocery store and bought the ingredients for a red potato/green bean salad I first heard about at Planet Nomad. (It was yummy, edj!) We put the Wild Child to bed and now, here I sit, collapsed on the couch with a mocha in hand. The creativity is gone. I'm keeping my carcass parked on this sofa for the remainder of the evening and rotting my brain in front of the television.

Until tomorrow,


26 down, 4 to go

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Own Worst Enemy: A Sunday Scribble One Day Early


An opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome:
Who is my
It seems clear to me that I am my own
Why am I my
The answer to that is yet to me another
I could kill two oppositional birds with one stone, if I could answer the question of why I am my
At least then, of the enemies within me, free I would be of my


I laughed when I saw that this week's word for the Sunday Scribblings: Nemesis. Somewhere along the way, my six-year old daughter picked up the term arch-nemesis and has used it quite liberally to describe anyone or thing who impedes any impulse she has.

Although I am confident of the usage of the word, I looked up the definition just to make sure that there was not some nuance I was missing. Of the multiple explanations, the following caught my eye: something that a person cannot conquer, achieve, etc. I immediately thought of who my own worst enemy often is: myself. My continued struggles with my parenting, my identity, my weight. I've thought about these issues and struggled with the answers to why these particular problems plague me. Some part of the answer seems attainable but never in a completely satisfactory way.

Hopefully, in spite of the feeling that I will never conquer my inner critic, this examination of myself as an unbeatable foe is merely an exercise in writing and self-examination--not an irrefutable fact.

Until tomorrow,


25 down, 5 to go

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Fripperies

American Heritage Dictionary
frip·per·y (frp-r) Pronunciation Key n. pl. frip·per·ies
1. Pretentious, showy finery.
2. Pretentious elegance; ostentation.
3. Something trivial or nonessential.

It should go without saying, except that I am saying it, if I'm using the word "fripperies" in my post title, I mean it to fall under the #3 definition of "something trivial or nonessential." I am nothing if not the antithesis of pretension

So, on the Friday after Thanksgiving we are still at our friends' house. It is a beautiful day. After we get the kids to bed I think we'll be doing a little hot tubbin' and so a little trivial nonsense seemed like the best way to dispense of NaBloPoMo Post #24. After all, as wonderful as blogging is, life should come before posting, right? (I may have submit a request to Ms. Kennedy that next year's NaBloPoMo not occur in a month with a major holiday in it--not that I'm ever doing this again!)

Without further ado, the fripperies:

  1. There has been an outbreak of bees and crows here in this So-So Cal desert town. Is a bee/crow plague an omen of some sort that we should know about?
  2. I think Netflix lies about when they get the DVD's back. We have only been members for a few weeks and every time I return two DVD's at the same time, they report one to three days difference. Is this part of their "throttling" technique which attempts to slow down the number of DVD's you get?
  3. My husband, in a fit of Mary-like generosity performed an extreme guitar makeover on our friend's acoustic. It is now all lemon-oiled up with new strings and, here is the extreme part, a brand new pick up!
  4. I am getting farther into the book March by Geraldine Brooks. I think it is very well written and an interesting premise: She writes about the father from Little Women during the time in the book when he was away with the Union army during the Civil War. It not only discusses what he experiences during the war but describes how he met Marmee, etc. As I just said, it is well written but there some things which are a little hard to take such as his kissing another woman, the fact that he is not well-liked by his fellow soldiers and something which I can only say was the subject of a famous Seinfeld episode called "The Contest." Very shocking, indeed!
  5. And finally, my fifth and final frippery for this Friday, last night we spent the night here with four adults, one teenager and three kids between three and eight. Bedtime was pretty easy. Tonight, another family has joined us. Bedtime with six adults, one teenager and six kids between ages 3 and 9 should make for an interesting time, don't you think? (Oh yeah, don't forget to add two cats locked in the office and one Italian greyhound!)

Until tomorrow,


24 down, 6 to go

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving with Brain Fatigue

I think I sprained my brain yesterday doing Word Beads but it's Thanksgiving so it seems appropriate to write about gratitude and the blessings in my life. I'm afraid, however, I will sound like a broken record. I do have a habit of being grateful and I think I express it here frequently. I'm floundering trying to express thankfulness for something different than my usual litany: we're healthy; we're provided for; I have wonderful friends; I have a great church community, etc.

So I'm going to get thankful a little bit differently today.

  1. I'm thankful that this is day 23 of NaBloPoMo. One more week and I am done!
  2. I'm thankful for the laughter that comes when my son and I are joking about blogging. His new thing is to say, "Are you going to blog about that?" to almost anything I talk about. I'm glad that we can laugh about it.
  3. I'm thankful my daughter had other kids to play with this Thanksgiving. Our usual holidays now don't include other little ones so both Colin and Marley are it. Colin is getting old enough that it isn't that big a deal for him but for Marley, it is nice for her to have someone to play with.
  4. I'm thankful I don't live in Civil War times. I just finished The March by E.L. Doctorow and am about one quarter of the way through March by Geraldine Brooks. From better medical treatment to more freedom as a woman. I'm happy to be a 21st century gal.
  5. I'm thankful I didn't have to cook this Thanksgiving. Not that I usually cook. I'm just thankful I got out of it again this year.
  6. I'm thankful my husband loves me even when I feel fat.
  7. I'm thankful I get to read The Penelopiad for book club. It looks really good and I am excited to read it and talk about it with the book clubbies.
  8. I'm thankful this list is almost done because this is turning out to be kind of a sucky post.
  9. I'm thankful for the pretty blue glasses I received this week.
  10. Finally, I'm thankful the drive out to where we are spending Thanksgiving, which should have taken one hour and instead took 2 3/4 hours, wasn't 3 hours. That fifteen minutes makes a difference.

Until tomorrow (when I will try to come up with more post-worthy material,)


23 down, 7 to go

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Word Beads: After this one, I could use a drink! :)

Car pool, laundry, dishes, sweeping,
Cleaning, straightening, bathing, feeding

The circumscription on her life’s coin
The boundaries on her liberation
Day in and day out, repetitive, mundane, never ceasing
“Freedom!” her slogan in her quest for emancipation

From those claustrophobic responsibilities

She should be warned though not to discount life’s stochastic potential
Its ancient proclivity for topsy-turveying your existence
There is no acronym of self-help to save you from that action
Only the regretful longings for your remember when...
When car pool, laundry, dishes, sweeping, cleaning,
Straightening, bathing, feeding

Were the most desolating dilemmas of life

Word Beads is a weekly writing meme. The challenge is to string the week's five chosen "words below with other words of your choosing to fashion a sentence, several sentences, a paragraph, several paragraphs, a poem, or even a short story." The word sets are generated automatically by a Perl script which draws words at random from a list of approximately 9,000 English words.

There was no way my brain was up to the task of grafting these words onto the previous two weeks' story. This piece seems pretty depressing. Don't worry, I'm not about to get all Sylvia Plath on you all. These words drove themselves to this destination!

This week's words were:


Until tomorrow,


22 down, 8 to go

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In which an alliance is formed...

There has been so much on my mind today that I could probably write half a dozen posts. Everything from familial blog fodder such as my son's new refrain every time I think something is interesting or funny, "Are you going to blog about that?" to my recently articulated revelation that emotionally I am better at life theory than life application. There are my thoughts on the O.J. book and television interview (Thanks for doing the right thing Mr. Murdoch... FINALLY!) and my delight at the first of the birthday presents to roll around: eight cobalt blue glass goblets from my bluegrass friend. (I'll be 42 on Sunday--thoughts on that could also be a post.)

Today however, my official duty is to introduce you to MarillaAnne.

I first e-met MarillaAnne through the blogger, Odd Mix. He found me, I think, through the NaBloPoMo randomizer and he decided to "cheer" my blog and a few others on through this self-imposed posting marathon, NaBloPoMo. One of his other "cheer-ees" is MarillaAnne. She in turn, also chose me and some others to encourage throughout November.

MarillaAnne (in real life known as PamElise) has decided to take the idea of a blogroll a little farther than usual. She is putting together an alliance of bloggers. The alliance "mission" is as follows: to be an encouragers and promoters who are intelligent, life-crafters, storytellers, and conversationalists – who are diverse in thought, activities, culture, and location – who are willing to partner to the mutual benefit of both of each other's blogs. You can check out the specifics here but basically, it is committing to be a thoughtful commenter on posts and to introduce each other on our blogs--sometimes pointing the way to specific posts. What the heck, I thought. As BubandPie recently discussed in her post, What Kind of Blogtrovert Are You?, I am among those bloggers who might be considered an extrovert. So, here is my first blog alliance post to introduce MarillaAnne.

I have to admit that the task of introducing someone is a little difficult for me. As I thought about how to describe Pam, though, I considered the name Marilla. Pam says that her nom de guerre, MarillaAnne is inspired by both Marilla and Anne from Anne of Green Gables so I thought I'd compare and contrast my impressions of Marilla to Pam. I will have to admit first, though, that my perception of Marilla comes from the Anne of Green Gables mini-series on public television not the books. So, if I'm wrong, you have the producers and Colleen Dewhurst to blame.

I see Marilla as a classic SJ personality. She is a guardian of what is right and expected with huge quantities of integrity and character thrown in. She enjoys her life but doesn't have much room in it (in the beginning at least) for Anne's romantic nonsense. There are a lot of black and whites in Marilla's life and she is passionate about doing the right thing. She is the ant not the grasshopper taking her duties with all seriousness. Anne brings a levity to her life that she wouldn't pursue on her own.

Pam, who I am sure comes equipped with all the same character and integrity as Marilla, seems to be more of a free spirit who confesses freely that she "wants to write what she wants when she wants."** I sense a more adventurous spirit in Pam than in Marilla although I would say they are both women who have the courage of their convictions. I see this in Pam when she relates her and her husband's willingness to live without a car. Depending on the train, they get by just fine and trust that if they really need a car, the Lord will provide one when the time is right.** And as Anne brings a lightness and joy into Marilla's life, I suspect that Pam does that for others.

To move on from the compare and contrast portion of this post, Pam is passionate about social justice and would like you all to read her recent post titled The US Gulf Coast is still in recovery ... Including the Children. During some recent interviews with a dollmaker, she "become acutely aware, again, of how much damage families themselves have sustained in that part of the country" and has a desire to help those who still find their lives affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Well, I guess that is about it. I hope I have done justice to this introduction and that you will head on over to MarillaAnne and hang out for awhile to see what she has to offer.

Until tomorrow,


**Note: I know I read this on her blog but can't find the right page right now.

21 down, 9 to go
We are down to the single digits, baby! Oh yeah!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday: Looking for God

I feel a little stumped today as I ponder the Sleeping with Bread questions:
  1. For what am I most grateful? Least grateful?
  2. When did I give and receive the most love? The least love?
  3. When did I feel most alive? Most drained of life?
  4. When did I have the greatest sense of belonging? Least sense of belonging?
  5. When was I most free? Least free?
  6. When was I most creative? Least creative?
  7. When did I feel most connected? Least connected?
  8. When did I feel most fully myself? Least myself?
  9. When did I feel most whole? Most fragmented?
These questions just don't fit today. I feel the need for something more overtly spiritual.

For several years a close friend and I met weekly in our own little spiritual formation duo. We used the Renovare' Spiritual Formation Workbook and it became a wonderful tool for examining our lives in light of certain disciplines. Eventually our schedules precluded such regular meetings. I miss them. They provided me with a place of safety to discuss my struggles, provided accountability for spiritual disciplines, and gave me companionship in a focused, God-centered way. I think I need to look at that material to help me ponder this Sleeping with Bread exercise today.

The following is one set of questions from their weekly Examen which addresses the contemplative side of my relationship with God and addresses the time set aside regularly for prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading. These pursuits allow me to "practice the presence" of God.
In what ways has God made his presence known to you since our last meeting? What experiences of prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading has God given you? What difficulties or frustrations have you encountered? What joys and delights?
God has made his presence known to me this week through the writings of others. The content has not always been what is traditionally considered spiritual, but I have seen beauty, love, joy and pain in the words shared in the blog'verse the last couple of weeks.

Blackdaisies at pluckthepetals wrote drivers wanted in response to a Sunday Scribblings writing prompt. She knocked my socks off with her musings from the quote, "I don't want to be a passenger in my own life" by Diane Ackerman. She writes about loss in her life in a very powerful way.

Odd Mix from The Odd Mix wrote You Wouldn't Know... and shared so much about who he is as a person.

Just today a simple and lovely story of the joy your children can bring was written by Sheila of musings of a mommy and atypical of nonsensical text wrote eloquently of her wrestlings with fear.

Also today, I went to check out dribblingwitt???? It's author, pendullum, left a comment on my Every Day Heroes post so I went check out her blog. Her latest post, dance of innocence is a beautiful tribute to friendship and to her daughter's experience of seeing her mom through new eyes as someone else's hero. This post is what started me down this particular contemplative road today.

Although all these words written by so many different people don't all fall into the "religious" category. I see God in them all--in their uniqueness, in their talent, and in the emotion they bring to their work. I believe that all good things come from the Lord and when I am touched by the words of others, it comes from him.

There is more to this question of where I've sensed God's presence this week though. One of the questions asks about what difficulties or frustrations I've experienced in my contemplative life. And there... yes, there is a question for the ages. As I've experienced different challenges this past year, the Lord has sustained me. Of that, I have no doubt. But I have not repaid that sustenance with giving of myself to him through prayer and reading of the Bible. It isn't as if I haven't prayed at all or contemplated scripture at all. But my habit--the practice--of prayer and reading has been woefully lacking. This lack makes me restless, discontent, fidgety, uneasy, etc.

It is time. Time for a change. Time for accountability. Time for discipline. Time for God.


Until tomorrow,


Also Sleeping with Bread today:

Sheila of musings of a mommy
atypical of nonsensical text
Lamont of Uphill idealist

20 down, 10 to go

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Everyday Heroes

There are many kinds of heroes in the world.

Some heroes are easy to see. We saw them on September 11, 2001. We read about them in books. We watch their stories in movies.

Some heroes are artificially made to suit a purpose. The facts are smudged a little so that a hero can be raised up to represent a cause.

Some heroes raise themselves up--make up a story so that he or she can benefit from the glory.

Some hereos are historic and are lifted up to represent character and values we cherish.

Some heroes aren't specific. They do heroic acts day and night because of the nature of their job and we recognize them not necessarily as individuals but as Policeman, Fireman, Doctor.

Some heroes are barely visible. Seen only by those in direct contact with them. Possibly not even appreciated for what they are by those people.

I know two heroes who stepped up and took in two troubled young girls for six months. It was a difficult and emotional road but they held on and did what they could do.

I know a hero who set aside her long time differences with her dying father to be there as he died.

I know a hero who has been married for almost 19 years. A hero who doesn't always have it easy but who expresses in his way of being that he would never leave his wife and children.

I know of a hero who is walking through the death of his beloved wife with courage and grace.

Every day I see heroes all around me who don't get any glory or recognition. Indeed, they may not be the dictionary definition of a hero. But they are heroes to me because they make difficult choices to sacrifice, to help, to stay.

They make the right choices.

Who are the heroes who surround you?

Until tomorrow,


19 down, 11 to go

Saturday, November 18, 2006

An Evening at Home

What happened tonight at our house. . .

. . .that doesn't usually happen:

All family members sat down for dinner together--at the dinner table. It wasn't fast food or any other form of take out.

After said meal, the table was cleared and dirty dishes put in the dishwasher.

. . .that sometimes happens:

Marley was bathed with a hair wash and in bed at 8:00 pm.

. . .that usually happens:

After Marley was in bed, we each went to our proverbial corners and settled in with a computer. Tonight that consisted of Colin listening to music and playing solitaire on one computer, Paul on another laptop perusing music equipment, and me on yet a third checking email, reading blogs and being a perfect little NaBloPoMo participant posting before midnight. In the background, the television played a Star Trek marathon. Oh yes, Nibbler and Smokey, guinea pigs extraordinaire hung out in the living room leading a most unplugged life eating hay and occasionally racing around the guinea pig condo like wind up cars.

We are an electronically-indulged family. We have only paid for one computer and two televisions. However, because of the nature of Paul's job, we have two laptops--his current work one and his old work one. Actually, we have a second desktop computer that we had out for Marley to play computer games on. I just had Paul take that one down because it is too ridiculous that we could all four of us be on a computer at the same time. We also have a fancy-schmancy flat screen television that lives with us except for two trade shows a year.

I am very ambivalent about all this. I love television. Television practically raised me. I love the computer, obviously. But free or not, all this begins to get a little absurd. As I said, I recently had Paul take down the spare desktop that was a hand-me down from his parents. And the laptop I am currently working on is not typically in day-to-day use. I had it out recently to work on a project for church which required use of Microsoft Publisher which only this one has.

We also have limitations about our television and computer set up. While our son has a tv and dvd player in his room, there is no cable or internet hook up in his room. Nor will there ever be while he is a minor and living at home. (If you are reading this, sorry dude.) The desktop is in the living room where anyone can see what is on the screen at any given time.

I can't help but think, though, that if we weren't so electronically-indulged, what usually doesn't happen on a Saturday night and what usually happens might be reversed.

In other news, Jessi, in the comments to my last post wondered what the picture was that Colin renamed as "not allowed on blog." It was merely an ordinary picture of him carving pumpkins at a Halloween party with our friends. You see, the men in my family are afflicted with a rare condition in which they do not like to have their pictures taken. When I say "do not like" you should interpret that as something like they detest it with a hate that burns like a thousand suns. Someone took the Halloween picture of my son and sent it to me. Renaming the photo file was my son's subtle way of reminding me of his affliction which, of course, extends to an abhorrence of any picture being shown. Ever. Anywhere.

My daugher has a remitting/relapsing form of this condition so I get more pictures of her. If you ever check out my family blog, you will notice the pictures are almost exclusively of Marley. Oh well. I take what I can get.

Until tomorrow,


Post Script: My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of B.J. Kilpatrick. Many of us in the blog'verse have been following her story which began a couple of weeks ago when she was admitted to the hospital with a terrible infection. She succombed to a stroke and died yesterday. B.J. and her husband had/have a blog, AtomicTumor, and as the events unfolded, more and more people talked about it on their blogs and her husband posted every day, along with their friends and so now many, many people "know" this family.

People get sick and die everyday. Sometimes however, one story gets your attention. One story makes you stop and think. One story simultaneously pulls you out of your own self-absorbed life to think about someone else's and brings you an appreciation and awareness of the blessings in your life. This is one of those stories.

18 down, 12 to go

Friday, November 17, 2006

My name is Mary and I'm a blogaholic.

I read an article a couple of week's ago titled Are You an Internet Addict?

Of course, I'm not. Really, I am not an internet addict. Internet addicts are those gaming people, right? The World of Warcraft, Call of Duty guys. The guys (notice my gender discrimination here) who are up until 3 am playing when they have to be at work at 8 am the next day. (#8 on the list of common symptoms to watch out for: denial of the problem.)

But it did give me cause for introspection. I guess I can be the first person in the next round of the "Am I blogging too much?" virus that goes around the blog'verse periodically. There are a number of things on the list of common symptoms that my family at least might say were true. I would of course counter that the time I spend blogging is just time I would be spending doing something else non-productive, but you know, to-may-to/to-mah-to.

Then I found this, a photo file of my son--renamed, on my computer screen:

I'm sorry, if that's not blog fodder, I don't know what is. If you don't want me blogging so much, stop giving me material. You're enabling me!

Until tomorrow,


17 down, 13 to go

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Now and Then, Part II

Thinking about just how different his life was now from when he was a child, he lost himself in reverie, the rhythm of the wind in the trees moving back and forth like a needle and thread embroidering his vision. A dream of vintage days playing in the streets and hanging out with his brothers and sisters. Staying out until dusk, they would try not to hear their mother calling them for dinner. That ploy only lasted so long though, for when their mother’s voice took on that certain tone, she meant business and it was inconceivable to them that there was any option other than immediate obedience. He didn’t understand until many years later his good fortune at being born to such a woman.

Word Beads is a weekly writing meme. The challenge is to string the week's five chosen "words below with other words of your choosing to fashion a sentence, several sentences, a paragraph, several paragraphs, a poem, or even a short story."

For better or for worse, this week's challenge is a continuation of last week's story, Now and Then.

This week's words were:


Until tomorrow,


16 down, 14 to go

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Brief History of Time

In which no one in this scenario is right or wrong. It is just a matter of preference.

However. . .

Paul and I have one car. This usually works because he is either out of town or working at his office in the bonus room. Occasionally, he has to go somewhere work-related and we have to sort out whether or not to borrow a car for the day from his folks.

Our conversation this morning:

M: What time do you have to be gone today?

P: I thought I'd leave around 10:30 this morning. Do you have to be anywhere today other than picking up the kids?

M: No, not really. I need to go to the grocery store but that can wait until later. Marley gets out at 1:15 today so maybe the folks can just pick her up. Colin is okay to walk home. What time do you think you'll be back?

P: Mid to late afternoon.

Here is what else you need to know:

While a generalist by nature, when it comes to marriage and timeframes, I like things to be a little more precise. Especially when it comes to Paul letting me know when he will be home. Paul tends to talk in terms like above: morning, afternoon, evening, etc. I like to know the numbers. The numbers people! This became one of our standard issues a few years ago.

It always go something like this:

(Conversation continues)

M: But what TIME is that?

P: What time do you think it is?

M: I don't know. You tell me.

P: Okay. Mid to late afternoon is 3:00 to 5:00. What's mid to late afternoon to you?

M: I don't know, say, 1:30 to 4:00.

(Now, these are just random times I have pulled out of my head. The main criteria here is that they NOT be 3:00 - 5:00.)

P: 1:30 is early afternoon.

M: Whatever. I just want the numbers! Tell me numbers!

An hour or so later, I received this email:

Here's info for reference that might help:

Day - 7am to 7pm
Morning - 5am to noon
Mid morning - 10am to 11:15am
Late morning - 11am to 11:59am
Mid day - 11:30am to 1pm
Afternoon - 12:01pm to 5:59pm
Early afternoon - noon to 2pm
Mid afternoon - 2pm to 3:30
Late afternoon - 3pm to 5:45pm
Evening - 5:45pm to 8pm
Dinner time - 5pm to 7:30pm
Night - 8pm to 4:59am
Middle of night - 1am to 4am

Note that these can also be combined. For example, if you say mid to late afternoon, it implies uncertainty which can be calculated as 2pm to 5:45 pm.

My response: Arghhhh! I don't want to memorize a chart. I want him to tell me the numbers when I ask him a timeframe.

Why do I think that when we are in our 80's, we are going to have a conversation like this:

P: My brother is coming over to play guitar today.

(Yes, he and his brother will no doubt still be playing guitar in their 80s.)

M: How long will he be here?

P: Probably from mid to late afternoon.

M: But what TIME is that?

P: What time do you think it is?

M: I don't know. You tell me.

P: Okay. Mid to late afternoon is 3:00 to 5:00. What's mid to late afternoon to you?

M: I don't know, say, 1:30 to 4:00.

P: 1:30 is early afternoon.

M: Whatever. I just want the numbers! Tell me numbers!

An hour after that conversation, I will probably receive an incoming message into the internet chip in my brain which will read something like this:

Here's info for reference that might help:

Day - 7am to 7pm
Morning - 5am to noon
Mid morning - 10am to 11:15am
Late morning - 11am to 11:59am
Mid day - 11:30am to 1pm
Afternoon - 12:01pm to 5:59pm
Early afternoon - noon to 2pm
Mid afternoon - 2pm to 3:30
Late afternoon - 3pm to 5:45pm
Evening - 5:45pm to 8pm
Dinner time - 5pm to 7:30pm
Night - 8pm to 4:59am
Middle of night - 1am to 4am

Note that these can also be combined. For example, if you say mid to late afternoon, it implies uncertainty which can be calculated as 2pm to 5:45 pm.

Shoot me now, people. Shoot me now.

(Special thanks to Paul for inspiring this post this morning. Without that email, I would still be wondering what I was going to write today.)

Until tomorrow,


15 down, 15 to go

Hurrah! The half-way point. Only 15 more posts... to... go... Oh wait. Why am I cheering. 15 more posts to go? Yikes!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bats, Cats and Babies, Oh My!: The October ROFL Awards

One thing about the blog'verse is you can't always remember how you found some of your favorite blogs. Those little blogrolls are like endless mazes where you click from one blog to another in perpetuity. If you don't leave a little cyber trail of breadcrumbs, you might get lost.

I cannot remember the day I discovered Jozet over at Halushki but I can tell you that I eagerly await the "New Post" notification from Bloglines. Now, because I am not good at describing books, movies, people, etc., I don't know what to tell you that will communicate how good this woman is with her blogging and hypochondria and life experiences that have to be read to be believed. Trust me, though, you will laugh and then laugh some more.

She recently had a beautiful little boy so her blog output has been reduced but to my delight she posted last month A Series of Unfortuante Conversations about her adventures in rabies shots during pregnancy. If I experienced what she did and wrote about it, I assure you it wouldn't have been funny--melodramatic maybe, but not funny. After you read it, you will never think about rabies again without a little chuckle.

While your at it, you might want to check out Lactivists Anonymous which puts the breastfeeding/bottle feeding debate under the humor microscope.

Thank you, Jozet. You never disappoint. And to your baby boy: hurry up and grow up so your mommy has more time to amuse me, please.

Thanks to Mommy off the Record and Izzy Mom who host the ROFL Award. You can check out the rest of the October ROFL award recepients at their blogs.

Until tomorrow,


14 down, 16 to go

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday with Walking and Weakness

In the last week, for what am I most grateful?

This past week, I started walking with a friend, a mom from Marley's class. I am grateful because a) I love getting to know her better; and b) I really need to do the walking. The walk is over two miles and hilly. It will be very good for me--both the friendship and the walking.

In the last week, for what am I least grateful? (This week, the question could be posed as when I felt most blasted back into adolescent insecurity.)

At the risk of sounding petty, I was reminded this week that I am not the fun friend. Shall I explain that ridiculous statement? It is simply that I am the wise friend, the nurturing friend, the permission-giving friend. I will be there for you, give you perspective, encourage you. I am the friend that is good for you not the friend you get in trouble with.

Even as I type this I know how silly it all sounds. My friends love me. We have fun together. But something this week just sucked me right back into the time when I didn't feel like I was fun, just boring and dependable. I want to clarify that this feeling isn't the result of anyone saying or doing anything unkind to me. It was just a couple of innocent things different people said.

Maybe it would be best to say that what I am least grateful for this week is my "relapse" into a past insecurity that I had thought long gone. That is really a more accurate statement because the "I'm not the fun friend" isn't something to do anything about. I can however, shake off the past and move forward bringing my self-confidence and assurance with me.

Until tomorrow,


13 down, 17 to go

Also Sleeping with Bread today:

Sheila of Musings of a Mommy: Sleeping with Bread Monday
atypical of nonsensical text: the whole loaf

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Don't judge me by this post alone.

Type. Pause. Highlight. Delete.

Type. Pause. Highlight. Delete.


I've been sitting here trying to type something intelligent in response to a prompt over at Sunday Scribblings. No go. There is no intelligence to be found flowing from my brain through to these stumbling fingers.

It might be that I am trying to watch a Discovery Health channel show on musical savants.

It might be that I had a late nap. I was unable to resist; my bed was calling me like a siren. It felt so good to listen to that siren song but my head is befuddled now.

I might be that this is Day 12 of NaBloPoMo and as happens when I exercise, there invariably comes a point where I just want to quit. It hurts and all I can do is think of reasons to stop. With experience, though, I have learned to push on. There is a reward at the end.

I am frustrated though that I am talking about NaBloPoMo. I don't want to have every other post be a post about posting. Ya know what I mean?

I am also self-conscious as I write this because a couple of people are going through all the NaBloPoMo participants and categorizing them as well as highlighting a few that stand out. The "Ls" are coming up. I don't care whether or not I get a mention for standing out in a good way. But I do not want to be one of the ones who draws their negative attention for using a pale font on a white background or for announcing the arrival of her menstrual cycle in a post. I've got a pretty decent blog design going on (Thanks Izzy!) but a post about not having anything to post. I'm afraid... very afraid.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the awkward part of this blog conversation when it is clear there isn't any more to say but the conversation has been clunky and unsatisfactory and how do you end it?

Oh brother! I am glad that tomorrow I have my faithful Sleeping with Bread meme to fall back on.

Until tomorrow,


12 down, 18 to go

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cacophony and Melody

When I was in my twenties, I worked with high schoolers at my church. Officially I was at times a Bible school teacher or "sponsor" meaning that I hung out with the kids at their youth group meetings, camps, etc. I have a tendency to throw myself into some thing headlong and working with teenagers was one of those things. High school boys helped Paul and I move when I was pregnant with Colin. The same boys used to walk my dog Bob for me and wear him out. High school girls babysat for me. Kids sometimes just showed up to hang out or play around with Paul's guitars. I loved this part of my life.

One distinguishing feature of these years was my ability to tolerate noise. If you have kids you know that they are loud. If you have ever been around teenagers in groups, you know they are very, very loud. Much of the time, this adolescent cacophony did not bother me at all. When it did disturb me, I was able to cope with it or had enough leverage to get them to be quiet--at least for a few minutes.

I think that every ounce of noise tolerance that I had was used up in those years like a battery drained of all its power. Apparently it was a unrechargeable battery.

Enter one rock music loving hubby, one skateboarding teenage son--also a rock music lover, and the loudest six-year old girl ever to walk the earth. The noise. Oh, the noise. The worse times are during car rides. Music and bickering rule the road.

One solace is the time I am alone in the car. There, all alone with XM radio at my disposal, I listen to the 30s and 40s station. For some reason, the big band music and movie dance tunes and romantic ballads soothe my soul. Right now, my favorite is The Way You Look Tonight by Fred Astaire. His voice is beautiful; the lyrics are sweet. The song warms my heart.

When I'm awfully low
When the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight

Yes you're lovely
With your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft
There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight

With each word your tenderness grows
Tearing my fear upon it
And that laugh
Wrinkles your nose
Touches my foolish heart

Never ever change
Keep that breathless charm
Won't you please arrange it
Cause I love you
Just the way you look tonight

And that laugh
That wrinkles your nose
It touches my foolish heart

Don't you ever change
Keep that breathless charm
Won't you please arrange it
Cause I love you
Just the way you look tonight
Just the way you look tonight

Thank you Fred for the lovely song and the peace that it brings me in the car.

Until tomorrow,


11 down, 19 to go

Friday, November 10, 2006

Blah'g, blah'g, blah'gging

I am pressed for time today; the kids have the day off of school and I have two to spare over for the afternoon. Tonight there are other commitments so I thought I would share a little about what has been going on during NaBloPoMo other than my writing.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this blog referenced on other blogs by people who are participating in this crazy post-fest. So first, I would like to thank The Odd Mix and Marilla Anne for choosing me to be one of the blogs they are planning on encouraging this month.

Then there is Strange Neighborhood. Gus definitely lives in a place like no other--giants and zombies as neighbors, oh my!-- and one night while perusing blogs via the NaBloPoMo randomizer, he posted a few he had found, including mine. I encourage you all to check out Gus' blog because I can promise you it is different.

Of course, you can't be cheered on without wanting to cheer others on in return. In my sidebar you will find a few blogs I've found along the way. I will probably add to that list as the days go by.

Finally, and to take a more serious turn, one blog I found while doing a little randomizing myself has me captivated and saddened. Atomic Tumor is the blog of AT and GAC. I guess the wife, GAC was the more regular contributor of the two. The last few days of October she was sick with what seemed to be the flu. AT took her to the hospital on November 2nd, I believe and it was then that it was realized that GAC had an infection of unknown origin. More quickly that it seems possible, her conditin became very critical. Every day since then, AT has blogged about her condition and his thoughts and feelings during this time. The last time I checked, they had just found out that a CT scan showed multiple brain bleeds. It seems that what was a minute by minute concern about whether she would survive is now a longer wait to see how serious the brain damage is.

AT has been overwhelmed (in a good way) with how people have responded. The traffic on their blog increased so much he had to have help with the server. He is very moved by the thoughts, comments and prayers of others and it seems to be helping him as he copes with this. If you are so moved, head on over to their blog. Even if you don't want to comment, watching the stats and seeing how many people are checking in lifts his spirits.

Until tomorrow,


10 down, 20 to go

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Now and Then

He sat at the park looking at the Crape Myrtle trees in bloom. The vivid red flowers hung like grapes on the vine; their color complementing the green of the trees' leaves. Spring in North Texas was his favorite time of the year. As a child growing up in a ghetto neighborhood, there were no trees like this. With dingy buildings, iron fences and asphalt streets, the only brilliant color there had been from graffiti paintings on concrete walls by urban artists--or unregulated vandals, depending on your point of view. There were no vibrant trees there such as he enjoyed on this day in his adopted home state. No matter, though, how far he had come and how different his life was now, there was always an invisible ligament connecting his self now to that boy then. Nothing could ever break that tie.

Word Beads is a weekly writing meme. The challenge is to string the week's five chosen "words below with other words of your choosing to fashion a sentence, several sentences, a paragraph, several paragraphs, a poem, or even a short story."

This week's words were:


9 down, 21 to go

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Paperback Writer

As I sit here and ponder just what to write,
my deadline is coming right at midnight.
So in quest of a prompt--no, I do not jest--
I head on over to the Writer’s Digest.

And there it is, my prompt for the day:
for under 10 bucks, my favorite possession to say.
It doesn’t take too much of a look
to know that my fave is the paperback book.

Might it be a Burke book by Vachss?
A book which spurs me on to fax
my local state senator to say,
"Make those pedophiles go away."

Or that man of the horses, Francis, Dick?
There are so many that the titles can’t stick
in my brain along with the plots.
But I love those horsey books lots and lots.

A paperback book, the size is just right
to take with me everywhere, day or night.
On a restless day I have only to begin
to read over again one of my dear friends.

Paperback books there are so many!
How do I, among them, a favorite choose?
For one of them to win means
all the others must lose.

Okay, I can't believe I did this, but in quest of something to write, I headed first to The Daily Meme and from there to Writer's The assignment was this:

Write a 20-line poem (rhyming or nonrhyming, your choice) about your favorite possession that cost you fewer than $10.

I cheated. That poem is 24 lines, I think. But still, it is something I wouldn't ordinarily do. Whew. I'm glad it is over and done. The rhyme scheme goes off at the end, but hey, I wrote it in 10 minutes. What do you expect? Anyway, please be kind when you read my feeble attempt at creative writing. I have a very fragile ego!

Until tomorrow,


8 down, 22 to go

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Get out the vote(r)!

I voted today.

I was tempted to skip it. I'm an intermittent voter. I always vote during the presidential elections but I'm a little spotty at the inbetweens.

Of course, it has been made clear that the fate of the United States rests on this mid-term election. Both parties have made that clear. What got me out today, though, was the local school board race. There are two incumbents I wanted to vote for. I want them around in January when I may be part of a group of parents trying to keep the multi-age class our children attend a district program.

I hate election days. I believe in voting. I believe it is important to cast your individual vote but I hate politics. I hate how otherwise civilized people spew bile at anyone who dares to hold an opposing point of view. I don't trust politicians. I'm afraid to say what I think about both the Democratic AND Republican partes yet I do not see a single good alternative. (Except of course, for the one that came to me in a dream.) I feel most comfortable engaging at the local level: school boards, city councils, propositions. It seems like you can have the biggest impact there.

Still though, I persevered and voted in spite of my ambivalence. I did something else though, too. I signed up to be an election day officer! I stood waiting for my booth--we have cool, mostly easy-to-handle electronic voting with a paper printout that you approve before it is submitted--and looked at the sign up sheet. There was one name on it. It was 1:45 p.m. and only one person had signed up to help facilitate during the next election.

So I signed up. I can do that. I may not feel hopeful about the political system in general but I can be a smiling, helpful competent election day officer. Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe it does.

Until tomorrow,


P.S. I just found a reference to my blog on another blog. This whole NaBloPoMo randomizer thing is hysterical. I was using it to look at participating blogs and found a blog that had a post about the NaBloPoMo randomizer. Gus over at Strange Neighborhood shared one sentence blurbs about some of the blogs he found and mine was one of them. What a riot! He apparently read my homemade raisin post and perceived my love of all things Douglas Adams. I wonder what tipped him off?

7 down, 23 to go

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday: for a Lifetime

I'm doing something a little different to day. I'm Sleeping with Bread with a view of my whole life. I was inspired to do this because of a conversation I had today. I was walking with a new friend and a discussion cropped up that led to both of us sharing about our lives growing up. As we finished our walk, we continued the conversation--with barely a pause for cold water--in her living room. At one point she was sharing that she doesn't have a problem with God because of all that has happened to her but she has a problem with Jesus. She prayed and prayed to Jesus as a child to save her from the hardships of her life and he didn't.

Something in the words she used reminded me of a scene from Forrest Gump. At my church we have an annual "God in the Movies" series. Just yesterday, the movie was Forrest Gump and the tie-in was looking at disappointment with God. The pastor showed a clip which shows Jenny and Forrest running away from Jenny's father. They stop and Jenny prays, "Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away." She repeats this prayer over and over again. I was telling my friend this and before I even got out the rest of the scene, she quoted that line, "...make me a bird..." I told her that the movie showed that although God didn't make Jenny a bird, he still got her out of that situation. The pastor used that clip to point out that God doesn't always work the way we ask him to.

My friend looked at me and said that she had realized that Jesus had actually answered her prayer. She prayed and prayed for her life to change and it did. It just didn't change at the time but she has a completely different life now with a great family and home and good friends, etc.

Her looking at her life from that perspective got me thinking about my big picture, so today I ask:

In my life, what has caused me desolation?

I did not have a happy childhood. It wasn't all bad, but there was too much insecurity and too little attention paid to my emotional needs. We were poor which was difficult in Southern California. I seldom had new clothes. I did not grow up in an emotionally honest family. While there was lots of affection for each other in my extended family there was also lots of shame. There were secrets. There was yelling. There was teasing. All of this put together created a little girl who felt ugly and invisible and who's talents and academic leanings were not encouraged. I didn't fit in with the kids at school or in my neighborhood. Over the last year when I have come across a picture of myself as a child, I look at it as if she were someone else, and knowing how I felt then, I feel sorry for that little girl. Because I wasn't ugly. I wasn't invisible. I just had no control over the shaming and the secrets and not enough positive attention to counteract it all.

As an adult, this has made relationships sometimes difficult and it has been cause for great self-doubt. My childhood has spilled over into the lives of my children. Though their lives are completely different than mine, I know I haven't always been able to put the past behind me.

In my life, what has given me consolation?

As I prepared to write this, I looked over the last couple of months SWB posts. Time and again, I find myself grateful, on a day in and day out basis, for my friends. The Lord has blessed me with many excellent friends both inside and outside of the church. I once said that I never had a fear of being homeless because I know several people who would take my family in without question. The depth and breadth of these relationships sustain me and help make up for the deficiencies I experience in my family relationships. They allow me to remain steadfast in my family while receiving that which I am lacking there. I walk through life with great amounts of love.

I am also grateful for my husband and children. Although we are far from a perfect family, we are a whole family. My family has a sense of security tha--barring circumstances beyond our control--this family will always be together.

I find consolation in my faith and in the community I find at my church. I have learned about being loved and loving. I have learned forgiveness. I continue to learn about loving and forgiveness there.

I am blessed to live in a place where I do not know hunger. I feel safe and protected. I have access to any medical care I might need. There are so many in the world who do not have those things. How can I not be grateful for my abundance?

I am no longer an insecure little girl. I am sometimes an insecure woman but overall, I have a life that is good. A life worth living and for that there are no words.

Until tomorrow,


Also SWB this week: atypical of nonsensical text: lumpy drop biscuits.

Tara Lamont of uphill idealist: Sleeping with Bread.

6 down, 24 to go

Sunday, November 05, 2006


–noun, plural -nies.
1. a miscellaneous collection or group of various or somewhat unrelated items.


One of our favorite hobbies in this family is homemade raisins. Have you ever heard of anyone else who makes homemade raisins? Well, it is really easy. First, you give your six-year old daughter grapes to eat in the living room. She will eat some of those grapes and then casually drop a few on the floor. They will roll just under the edge of your couches or under your coffee table. The next step is the important one. You must not look under or clean under any furniture for a few weeks. This will ensure that your homemade raisins age properly.

Here is a picture of a grape in the early stages of raisin development. While still large and relatively un-wrinkled, you will notice it is beginning to lose its full, plump appearance. In just a few short weeks, it will be ready for eating. Yum, yum!

Ignore that unidentifiable chunk near the raisin-in-process; it is part of a top secret research and development project we are working on.


Em over at three times three reminded me to recount the Sonic Drive In commercial that had me laughing out loud.

For those of you don't know, Sonic is an old-fashioned drive up burger place. You park you car and order your meal through a speaker box contraption and then a server brings you your food and you eat in your car. Anyway, they have these commercials where two people are sitting in their car at Sonic eating or drinking something. The camera is facing the two people in the car. In this particular commercial, a man is drinking a strawberry shortcake shake.

He makes yummy noises and says something to the effect of "This is good. The readers of my blog are going to want to hear about this."

The wife in the other seat shoots him a look, pauses and then says something like, "You mean your mother?" See, I'm already chuckling as I type this.

Finally, he looks sheepishly at her and says, "Well, she was going to tell her friend about it."

I love this commercial because I was completely surprised by the blog reference in an ordinary television commercial. I guess blogging has definitely arrived. Also, I am always self-conscious about blogging and concerned that it not be a self-indulgent exercise for me and I prefer to laugh at my blogging self. That way, perhaps, I won't notice if others are laughing AT me!


Metro Mama asked me to talk about what I am reading. In one of those interesting coincidences, I am reading two books at the same time: March by Geraldine Brooks and The March by E.L. Doctorow. Both books are about the Civil War. March follows Mr. March, the father from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, through the war. The March is about that infamous march General Sherman took his troops on through the South. I'm not quite sure how I ended up reading both of these books at the same time but it is really fascinating and so far both are great reads.

New to my queue are two books my friend sent me as an early birthday present. After reading about my adventures in personality typing my daughter, she came across two books she thought I would find interesting: Parenting from the Inside Out and The Developing Mind both by Daniel J. Siegel. I'm looking forward to finding time for both these books in the next few weeks.

I've said it a few times but it bears repeating: blogging has increased my reading. Although I love reading, it is easy for life to get in the way. If I'm too tired, I'll just turn on the television instead of picking up a book. Reading on blogs all the delicious books other people are reading spurs me on to more reading and, at times, more complex reading. Yeah, blog'verse! Thanks for the inspiration.


This just in: My son is watching some entertainment show that profiling J.J. Abrams right now. They just mentioned the show Felicity and my son starts waxing sarcastic about how much he loved Felicity (italics denote his sarcasm.) I start laughing a little and say that the show reminds me of my Kymmy. Kym moved in with us when she was just barely turned 18 and lived with us for a couple of years. Felicity was our show to watch together. Colin's next statement is to say that the Felicity years were the years of going to bed hungry. I asked him why and he said that it came on at his bed time--he was six when it began airing--and he always wanted a snack but I was too busy watching the show and wouldn't get him one. I'm sure this is an exaggeration--but just barely!


Finally, if my name were Earl, I would say that karma owes me a good turn after this weekend. We've been watching some friends' kids while said friends are cavorting around New York city. It actually hasn't been that bad but today was tiring! We went from church to lunch to Flushed Away (cute movie) to home. They got to play for about an hour before we did baths, then dinner, then America's Funniest Home Videos to bed. Whew! Four kids including Marley. (I don't count Colin because he takes care of himself and helps me take care of the noisy horde. Tomorrow, the challenge of getting 5 people to 3 different schools on time. Wish me luck!


Until tomorrow,


5 down, 25 to go

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Let's Get Personal

ECR over at 24/7, in a post in which she does the same, asked those who read her blog answer the question, "Who are you?" Although you can look at my profile and get some information about me, I don't know if that answers the question of who I am very well. Now, I was very excited about this last night but as I sit here to type, I'm thinking it is going to be harder to answer that question than I thought. Maybe it is because I feel like I am many different people.

I am Mary the mom. I have two children who were born eight years apart. Well, seven years and 49 weeks exactly. Once you have children, they are just a part of you in way that you can't explain if it hasn't been experienced. I will never be able to seperate that from who I am as a person. However, I experience a lot of self doubt as a parent due to my own emotional baggage. Sometimes I picture that baggage as being like the chains that Jacob Marley warns Ebenezer Scrooge he is forging daily by his eponymous behaviour. The difference being that with each passing year I am dismantling that chain. It is defintely shorter than it was when I first got married. Which leads me to the next Mary...

I am Mary the wife. Paul and I have been married almost nineteen years. I feel like I am a completely different person than that 23-year old girl who stood with Paul in front of a justice of the peace in Grand Prairie, Texas all those years ago. Yet somehow I am more myself. Being Mary the wife has allowed me to have a safe place in which to deal with a lot of the emotional baggage I mentioned in the previous paragraph. That's because I married one the most decent guys around who happened to be my best friend. I know about friendship because...

I am also Mary the friend. I don't know if it makes sense that I see my being a friend as very central to who I am as a person. I think because I struggled with the normal childhood friendships--the ones which are initially limited to the kids in your neighborhood or in your classroom. Those neighborhood kids can be something of a crap shoot. You never know if your going to get good ones or bad ones. And school, hmmm... I just didn't fit in well at school until junior high. I think those early experiences made me a little clingy though to the new friends I made. As I grew older, I worked at that and became more able to seperate myself from my friends in a healthy way. I think what helped me most be able to learn how to be a better friend is the fact that...

I am Mary the Christian. I think I said it best in a post I wrote in June so I am just going to quote myself here:

...I don't make a big deal of it, but my faith in God is the absolute foundation of my life. My worldview is completely informed by my belief in God. So, when I complain about my life, despair at the state of the universe and go on and on about everything, it is with an underlying certainty that God is the creator of life, the universe and everything. I believe he knows what he is doing, that I cannot possibly grasp all that he is doing and that there will come a time when all will be explained.

That last bit--about believing he knows what he is doing, etc. I am really glad about that part because...

I am Mary with issues. Remember that emotional baggage I talked about? Well, I'm not talking your basic three-piece set from Target. This is the deluxe, ten-piece Swiss Army set from Victorinox for the low, low price of $4,999. It hasn't always been easly lugging this set around the airport of life but God has been good to me and I've had lots of help along the way. Although I still trip over it once in a while, I've got a pretty good system of transporting it from place to place now.

Mary, the Christian. Mary, the wife. Mary, the mother, Mary with issues. These are all integral pieces of the puzzle that put all together equal just Mary. Mary, the almost 42-year old woman who is still 20-years old in her mind's eye. In my mind's eye. I have always loved reading. I have a B.A. in Literary Studies that I have never put to professional use. I am planning on going back to get a Master's, probably in the fall. My days consist of family stuff, church stuff and me stuff which means reading, blogging and pretending that I exercise. I used to love drawing. I want to take a photography class and a mosaic class. I love television and movies and am definitely a product of the age in that way.

You'll notice I didn't claim to be a writer. I don't know if I am. Blogging is another form of talking for me and yes, I am quite the talker--just ask that introverted husband of mine. I blog for many different reasons and I have many different blogs. I first started blogging to keep my friends and family up to date on the kids, the husband and myself, hence So-So Cal Cinema (formerly known as Tales From the Edge of Sanity.) Eventually, I decided to start another blog, Memoria, because I was missing some people I'd lost in my life and had such a strong urge to write about them. Getting the writing juices flowing and visiting other blogs led to the desire to write about different things--things I knew my family would not be interested in and didn't fit in with the theme of my "remembering" blog. So, on Monday, April 3, 2006, this blog, Life, the Universe and Everything was born when I wrote a post titled "42." Wrapping up the blog parade, I have a single post blog which is just there to explain the meme I started, Sleeping with Bread Monday and then there is the family-only blog. I love this one because my mom, my sister and my uncle all put pictures on it and little bits and pieces of what they are doing. I am a five-blog woman.

So, there you are. You've just been introduced to Mary, the momish, wife-ish, Christian, full of issues, five-blog woman. ECR said that she hoped those reading would have no "no excuse to dismiss this burning question" of "who are you." I'm not sure how burning the question was and I know that this could never be a complete answer to that question. But it's a start.

Until tomorrow,


4 down, 26 to go