Monday, January 29, 2007


19 years.

That's how long Paul and I have been married. 19 years today. Yikes! How has that happened? 19 years have flown by--positively flown by. So today, we get a special 19th Anniversary Sleeping with Bread.

Our wedding in Grand Prairie, Texas. Yes--a Justice of the Peace.
Just the two of us and a witness. Just the way we wanted it.

Our wedding reception at my aunt's house about six months later.
I was all for casual, but my aunt refused to host a BBQ reception.

In the last 19 years of marriage, when did I receive the most love?

Wow... I'm not sure my non-detail-oriented brain will be good at this, but here goes. Over the course of our marriage, I have always felt that Paul loves me 100%. (I won't say that I think he's always liked me. I've had my unlikeable moments.) He shows that love through his actions more than his words. He's that kind of guy. The guy who goes out to get your Starbucks pretty much on demand. The guy who loves you through thick and thin--literally. As my weight has fluctuated, I've never felt insecure about his feelings for me. His affection comes without demand for change. He takes me as I am. For better and for worse. And when Paul does choose to express himself with his words, there is not a man out there who can beat him for picking and writing in a greeting card.

It has been said that you go into your marriage with all of your emotional baggage. It doesn't get checked at the door. That was true of me to the nth degree. Paul endured much of my emotional angst as I wrestled with my issues. It hasn't always been pretty. I once saw an episode of Oprah in which there was a contest to find the most romantic man. Some of the men were pretty impressive, I'll have to admit. But, as I watched these couples, I thought about what they would be like years from now. Would that man still be there? I've seen marriages fall apart and I can tell you, the romantic gesture is not what matters. Its staying power. Will your man stay with you through the crud. Paul has and I know Paul will.

In the last 19 years of marriage, when did I give the least love?

Only every day of my marriage probably. In your wedding vows, you make a lot of promises. Promises you cannot keep for the most part. Every therapist will tell you not to make always and never statements when communicating to your spouse. But that is exactly what wedding vows are: a list of always and never promises. You're doomed to failure. BUT... it is the big picture that matters. Although I have lost my patience with Paul, tried to change him, made him the problem when I was the problem, I hope I have matured enough that it is more the exception than the rule--my failures. At the end of 19 years of marriage, I hope it can be said that I loved more than I did not love; that I cherished more than I did not cherish; that I honored more than I did not honor.

This past Thanksgiving.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is it just me...

...or does this headline read as if somewhere Julia Child's body is encased in glass and on display, similar in fashion to the Hall of Heads* on Futurama:

Julia Child enshrined in women's hall of fame.

*The only good picture I could find online was on a French site, pardonnez-moi.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

She's got... personality!

In October, I shared about my daughter's personality and how I finally figured out her Myers-Briggs type (ESTP). (Now that I think about it, I might have written about it on my family blog. Anyway...) One thing I always, always knew in my heart, and the Nurture by Nature MBTI book clobbered me over the head with, is the fact that I need to keep her busy--not just with crafts, etc., but physically active. It had been a few months since her gymnastics program closed down and I could see a difference. She did get crabbier and into more mischief. So, in spite of my own distaste for chauffeuring my children around town, I signed her up for the next available sport: co-ed basketball.

She was not happy about being signed up for a sport that uses a ball and as we began attending practices, she was beyond upset because there are too many boys. Alas, although technically co-ed, there are--at mos--two girls per team. Before every game or practice she moans and wails about going. On days when the other girl on the team doesn't show up, Marley refuses to practice or play (her middle name could be Intractable*). When she is cooperating, she seems to experience a moderate enjoyment although she is not very assertive yet.

(Marley with the team mom. For the first game, I had to
pry her off of me and deposit her into the team mom's arms.)

Perhaps because basketball has been less than a smashing success, I began looking into the next sport. I promised her it wouldn't be co-ed. She said she doesn't want try gymnastics again so I was checking out softball. My sister was a softball player as is her daughter. As I looked into it, I began dreading the high fee to play, the candy sale and snack bar duty requirements AND Marley's possible resistance. But then, in the nick of time, I was rescued by a flyer insert advertising Cheer and Drill Team lessons. They are moderately priced, have a reasonable meeting schedule, Marley's friend will sign up with her AND... AND... AND... Marley is excited about it. I went to registration tonight and confirmed that this would not be a Hoochie Mama cheer team. So, I signed her up and she received these:

She is ecstatic about getting a uniform and being a real cheerleader although she did ask me in the car later, "Mom, what does a cheerleader do?"

*Trying to get Marley to do something she doesn't want to do reminds me of trying to trim our late dog Bob's toenails. It took four people to hold him down and even then it was a difficult task. I've always attributed her stubbornness to her personality. At five months of age, she figured out--after one night--that a bedtime story meant going to bed and she refused to sit through one for months afterwards. Since I began reading Parenting from the Inside Out, I am beginning to wonder if there isn't more to it.

At 10 months old, Marley had a febrile seizure. She was taken to the hospital for x-rays, blood tests, etc. As is usually the case with this type of seizure, she was perfectly fine. Less than six months later, though, she had another one. More blood tests, attempts to place a catheter, and a visit to our family physician resulted in a protocol for treatment whenever she had any fever at all: rotate Tylenol and Motrin at any sign of fever and a pediatric suspension formula of Valium for its anti-convulsive properties. This was all very successful. However, every visit to a doctor was a drama. I became quite adept at holding her with my leg crossed over her lower body, one arm across her chest and one holding her head. (She is able to manage a visit to the doctor quite well now.) I wonder if her implicit memories--ones she cannot consciously recall because she was too young--are having an impact on how she faces feeling "forced" to do something. If so, Paul and I definitely need to find a new approach to enlisting her cooperation. I hope the following chapters of the book have some insight!

I did it! Have you?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sleeping with Bread Monday: with Parental Joy and Sadness

In the last week, when did I experience the most joy as a parent?

There is something about your child growing to love something which you love which makes your heart bursting-full. We all experience those moments throughout the lives of our children. It might be one of the more narcissistic aspects of parenting, but nevertheless, I believe it is a universal parental feeling. I had one such moment this week. Marley had drawn a picture of the earth, the moon and an alien in a spaceship. She wanted to share it at school and in order to do so, she was required to write about the picture. Here is the picture and her words (as is and then translated into grown up English.)

(If you hold a lungful of air, you can survive for about 30 seconds.)

This may not have any meaning for most people reading this. I, however, experienced a moment of pure, unadulterated, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-frenzied joy. This--this is MY daughter, without a doubt! (My husband probably would feel a similar sense of joy if he read my son's latest book project for his English class. He read a biography of Jimi Hendrix and stated that he chose the book because Jimi Hendrix is his favorite singer and guitar player.)

In the last week, when did I experience the most sadness as a parent?

There is something sad about persistent maladies and the impact they have on your children. Tonight, as I was trying not to lose my cool while I proofread my son's book report, I was getting a little testy. It isn't unusual for me to get frustrated when he has a project due--that could, and probably will, be a subject of an entire post. He was cooperating, though, with my suggestions. The work wasn't bad. I shouldn't have been as irritated as I was feeling. At one point, I asked my son to please turn out the dining room light. It was hurting my eyes. "Oh great," he exclaimed, "you're getting a migraine when I have a project to finish!" Well, so far, the actual migraine hasn't shown up. The pre-migraine crankiness and light sensitivity has, though. Those symptoms aren't a guarantee that a migraine will show itself, but it makes me sad that my son would know the symptoms and recognize, before I even do, that one might be coming. With a migraine, he recognizes that he will get to experience his mother being cranky, his having to help take care of her and his having to be responsible for an uncooperative little sister. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, does it?

Thanks for joining me today!

P.S. I wrote this last night and dated it today because I knew I would be busy this morning. Later, in the wee hours of the morning, I wrote an entirely different sort of "How I'm Doing" post over here at my family blog. It ain't pretty but somehow, in the name of emotional honesty, I felt like I needed to disclose it here.

Also Sleeping with Bread this week:

Pam over at MarillaAnne
Sheila at Musings of a Mommy
atypical of nonsensical text

Friday, January 19, 2007

Life, the Universe and Everything Redux



It's almost 11:00 p.m. and I'm in bed, propped up by pillows, television on in the background and a post in the works. Friday night and all is well.

It's been a busy week with meetings and walking and talking and not-cleaning. Cold, static-filled air, bright blue skies and wispy white clouds kept me bundled up and moving quickly.

Paul got a call last night asking him to play bass at an 11:00 p.m. show. He declined until a second phone call, 15 minutes later. No other options were working out, would he reconsider. No problem. So, he's out tonight, helping out a friend at The Gypsy Lounge. He's good that way.

I watched the kids for our small group while the adults met at another house. Ten kids, ages 3 to 11, for a couple hours remind me of that joke about the guy who kept banging his head on a wall. When asked why he kept doing it, he answered, "Because it feels so good when I stop." The kids actually are pretty well behaved but there is a dull roar that is constant with a group that size and the silence that follows their departure is a blessed, blessed thing.

The main hang up was my own kid. Because Colin and Marley are 8 years apart, they don't have to share many things. When other kids come over, my possession loving, never-can-have-enough-stuffed-animals girl has a hard time sharing. She inevitably ends up spending a portion of the evening in her room alone. Within a couple of years, she'll be past this stage, but it is harder on her than anyone else. I wish I knew the magic button which would make sharing pain free. But alas, I have never been able to find that pesky control panel with all the buttons that would make that happen.

the Universe...

Two boys begin life after... after being kidnapped by Michael Devlin--one after four days, another after four years. They will attempt to live through the ravenous appetite to know anything and everything about their ordeal which is currently at its peak. The normal protections which provide anonymity for the victims of sexual assault don't work for abducted children. Although nothing has been confirmed, there is little doubt that the older boy at least was subjected to some form of sexual abuse. Of course, this is all being played out in the national news. I wonder how much more difficult it will be for the two boys to travel down the road of healing and recovery with all the attention being paid to them. I pray they will both be given the time, space and resources to make that journey.


I'm reading a parenting book which talks about "response flexibility." Essentially, response flexibility is the opposite of a knee-jerk reaction. According to the authors of the book, it is a necessary anchor point for successful parenting, along with being mindful, lifelong learning, mindsight and joyful living.
Under certain conditions response flexibility may be impaired. When tired, hungry, frustrated, disappointed, or angered, we can lose the ability to be reflective and become limited in our capacity to choose our behaviors. We may be swept up in our own emotions and lose perspective. At these times, we can no longer think clearly and are at hight risk of overreacting and causing distress to our children. (Parenting from the Inside Out, Siegel & Hartzell)
Well, clearly someone has 24-hour access to my parenting and decided to write a book about it. At least now I know how to be a better parent: never get tired, hungry, frustrated, disappointed or angered. No problem, right?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Good Turn Update


That's how much BooMama's blog campaign raised for Kelli. This is more than enough, I assume, to keep her COBRA insurance in place until her new insurance kicks in and to help pay for some of the miscellaneous expenses that come along. In addition to the funds raised by BooMama, friends and family of Kelli, in response to hearing about what BooMama was doing, sent checks directly to Kelli totaling approximately $2400. That makes a grand total of:


Not too shabby, I'd say. You can read what BooMama has to say about it here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: this Pilgrim's Progress

In my so-called real life, Sleeping with Bread includes lighting a candle before beginning. After finishing, the candle is extinguished. In the spirit of that, I thought I would do a little virtual candle lighting today along with my SWB post.

In the last week, when did I feel most alive?

This week, whenever I was working well toward my New Year's resolutions, I felt most alive, light and enthusiastic. I attribute this to a two-fold cause: 1) exercising and eating right makes you feel better (duh!); and 2) doing what you set out to do lifts your spirits. There were times this week when making some good choices directly led to other good choices, i.e., walking with friends and eating less junk gave me more energy, so I got some things done around the house that I normally wouldn't have done. It was a welcome change of pace, let me tell you.

Also, this week, the message in church was about listening to God. It reinforced another resolution I made this year to prioritize my relationship with God. There were good reminders in that sermon I was grateful to hear. Encouragement of that sort always makes me feel more alive.

In the last week, when did I feel most drained of life?

My new routine is still just that: a new routine. It isn't second nature. While I was able to see and feel results from the changes I am making, it wasn't always easy. Resisting certain foods will put me in a funk pretty quickly. Choosing to exercise when there isn't a person to walk with me? Twice this week, the burden for exercising rested solely on my shoulders and I didn't get the job done.

And, as with my physically-minded resolutions, where the good and the bad were opposite sides of the same coin, the same was true of my spiritual resolutions. I let myself focus more on the physical than the spiritual this week. I didn't practice the presence of God. There were nudges by the Spirit here and there and I let life get in the way.

Each week, although it isn't a necessary component of Sleeping with Bread, I always want to wrap it up with a little perspective. I think, in doing the exercise online, I am conscious of ending on a negative note... even though that is entirely NOT the point of examining your desolations. The exercise isn't about being negative but is about acknowledging what is difficult or painful in your life. So, this week, aside from this minor explanation, I will leave it at that.

Thanks for joining me today.

Note: The candle pictures are from I've become somewhat addicted to this site, using pictures for our church newsletter. Trying to be a better steward of copyright laws, I purchased images (quite cheaply) from their site for this post today.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

An Invitation to do a Good Turn

"God, without insurance, I will die. I will not get transplant. And we have about 6 weeks to figure this out.

I'm struggling with my ability to trust you in this and I'm crying out that you will give us peace.

I know you are able. but I'm so tired of being tired and afraid and stressed and crying that I just struggle to pray anymore.

Abba Father- I'm crying out for mercy and the ability to live."
Kelli over at Living in Grace wrote these words just over a week ago. Her friend, BooMama, read them and desired to help her friend. Kelli is in need of a kidney transplant. In addition to that, there are issues with the family insurance and a need to go on COBRA insurance. If you have ever dealt with COBRA, you will know that it is quite expensive. BooMama has set up a PayPal account to help Kelli with money to keep her insurance. On January 16th, there will be a link on BooMama's site to that account. One day. That's it. On that day, you can contribute to the fund to help Kelli keep her insurance. If you want to read more about why BooMama is doing this, read her Let the Lovin' Begin post. To read Kelli's post, which is in the form of a prayer, Just Me God. BooMama does not have a specific amount in mind--the PayPal account will take as little as $1.50. The donations will be anonymous.

January 16, 2007

Do a Good Turn

This issue came to my attention through Pam over at MarillaAnne. She became aware of this situation which she has asked me to share on my blog. (I am one of Pam's Alliance bloggers. We have agreed to promote issues when appropriate at each other's places.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The one where I keep writing about nothing at all.

What ifs:

My book club, that is, the book club I attend, I don't own it, met last night for a discussion of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper. If you are familiar with the book, you will know that there is plenty to discuss. If you are not familiar with the book, you will be able to imagine how much there is to discuss when I tell you that the book is about a thirteen-year-old girl's quest for medical emancipation so that she will not have to donate a kidney to her sixteen-year-old sister who has a rare and extremely lethal type of leukemia. Afterwards, though, I was driving home thinking about Anna, the thirteen-year-old. Conceived in a test tube to be a genetic match for her sister, she desired to have her own life and yet, without her sister's illness, she may not have ever been born.

What if.

As I thought about the novel's what if, I started thinking about my own what ifs. In particular, I began by thinking about our move from Dallas, Texas some 15 years ago. What if we had never moved back to California? How would I be different? How would our life be different? What struck me most was the thought that I wouldn't have the same children I have now. I didn't imagine that Colin and Marley would be living with us in Dallas. It seemed to me that the circumstances which led to his conception would have been different and thus, when and if I did become pregnant in this never-moved-back-to-SoCal parallel universe, Colin and Marley wouldn't exist.

I write about this not to wax poetic about my children and how I couldn't imagine life without them. I write this to explore what is apparently my belief that every second has an impact on the next, every decision leads down a different path and we can never have an answer to the what if question. Even as this thought scurried across my consciousness, the next thought gave chase. Were Colin and Marley destined to be born regardless of the decisions Paul and I made about where to live, etc. If we had stayed in Dallas, would Paul and I be the parents of these two particular children.

I don't know. The answer doesn't really matter. I was just wondering. What do you think?

To die for:

I was reading Fussy's post about the most incredible cake which she received in the mail as a birthday present. (Really, it is soooooo wonderful.) In the previous post, she linked up a website to a bakery that creates some incredible cakes. I found this one and just died a little (happily, mind you.) Check it out. All you bibliophiles and literature majors are going to swoon with me. I know it. Did you check it out? You did swoon, didn't you? I knew it!

Does this strike you as funny?

At The Happiest Place on Earth the other day, I was a little hungry. Poking around the Matterhorn, I found this:

Turkey legs and chimichangas? But of course, what else would you sell at a food kiosk at Disneyland? I did eat one of the chimichangas. Not bad. Pretty yummy, in fact. Of course, anything in a deep fried tortilla is yummy to me, but I will never order the turkey leg. I noticed several people walking around with one and let me tell you, walking around in your Mickey Mouse hat, bermuda shorts with white socks and sandals AND a turkey leg? Well, let's just say it looks a little goofy. Get it? G-o-o-f-y! (I crack myself up!!!!)

Spell check:

How do you write "what if" as a plural? I wrote "what ifs" but I'm wondering if I should have written "what if's." Neither of them look correct. Anybody? Anybody?


Finally, it is apparently National De-Lurking Week which makes me wonder who decided it would be National De-Lurking Week and who made them the bosses of de-lurking. It also makes me want to make a National Something Week. I tried finding the source--well, I checked the blogs I read on a regular basis who mentioned ND-LW, hardly an exhaustive research attempt--but not a link to the actual source was to be found. So who knows, maybe it is an urban legend. Whether is it real or not, if you are a lurker, please feel free to participate here. If you don't feel like coming up with a clever name or anything, just write an anonymous comment and sign it "de-lurker number (fill in the blank.)" If you are a lurker and don't feel like de-lurking. Hey, I'm cool with that.

Thus endeth the post.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: Resolutions in Progress

Well, it ended up being a two week break from Sleeping with Bread. I forgot that New Year's day would land on Monday also and I just continued with my SWB holiday. Of course, I did spend 2 1/2 hours that evening in the ER so my son could get stitches. (No major story there, just a boys will be boys bad judgment--not my son's but his friends.) Anyway, here I am 8 days in to the 2007 contemplating what recently has been life-giving and life-draining.

So far, in 2007, what has given me consolation?

I think as I look back, I have been allowed to rest in the New Year. After a crazy-busy Christmas season I was ready. Of course, I am still taking a break as the Christmas tree and other miscellaneous decorations are still up! In fact, Marley asked me today if we could leave it up for the rest of the year. No, it won't stay up that long. I'm sure I'll manage to take it down before my wedding anniversary (late January.) School started back today and it is time for responsibility and routine. It may take me a little while to ramp it up, but I'll get there.

I've also felt good so far this year about some choices I've been making. I've been making good on some New Year's resolutions and working on issues (spiritual disciplines, food, excercise, finances, etc.) in which I need to either be more moderate or more disciplined. The year is young, so very young, but I do feel like I have a chance to finish it well.

So far, in 2007, what has caused me desolation?

Probably a better word this week than desolation is grief. Along with the most excellent choices I've been making are little deaths. The one I've felt most strongly this week is in regard to food. As much as I know it is a good decision to make, I do not want to restrict my choice of foods. I get cranky or sad and have to work through it. I hope it will get easier. It will get easier, right?

Saturday, January 06, 2007


My mind's arms
flail about in search of a tool to
pry open Creativity's Caponian vault.

Laid open the vault contains only
inexact sentence fragments too coarse to hold
aloft, to be deemed worthy of admiration.

No, my Creativity lies wasted like
diseased, arthritic bones with their
marrow sucked dry.

But Creativity never really dies, instead
arthritic, marrow-dry coarseness waits
to be healed, watered, refined,

This week's psuedo-angst filled poem inspired by the words:


Words courtesy of. . .

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.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A glimpse into a family project: The Family Portrait

I convinced (arm-twisted and bribed) my children into cooperating for a do-it-yourself Christmas portrait this year. I thought you might enjoy a little slide show of the effort:

(Hovering over each picture will reveal a caption.)