Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Did I scare you? You probably didn't expect to find me here--I certainly didn't think I'd find me here. A computer is available for me to use at the house where we're staying, but I started thinking about the electronic trail I might leave and so I didn't dare to even visit my blog. But now? Now, I'm at the Harris County Public Library next to a teenager wearing headphones that don't actually block out the thumping music funneling into his ears. It's 1:30 p.m. and I left Babygirl napping with her daddy and the boys lounging around watching cartoons and playing their Gameboys.

So far, so good. Babygirl found the idea of riding in an airplane thrilling, as did the boys. Our eardrums didn't explode and no one screamed and the plane stayed in the air, hitting only a few "bumpity-bumps" as we descended into Houston. During the four-hour flight, Babygirl watched the "Heffalump" DVD, ate the salad from my lunch, drew on her "Color-Wonder" paper (a true miracle, that stuff) and finally napped in my arms. [I have to note that Babygirl, not yet three, drew faces, complete with ears and hair and a bruise, and then wrote a row of the letter "H."]

When she woke from her nap, she was not happy to be still on the big airplane. She wanted to go home. Landing distracted her, as did the escalator. However, when she walked out of the airport into a blast of heat, she grew concerned. When I buckled her into her carseat in the white Suburban, tears rolled down her face. She did not want to go to her aunt's house. "I want to go to my home!" she cried over and over.

Since then, she's come to understand that her home is too far away and that we are staying at "the lady's house." (She calls her aunt, "the lady," and sounds exactly like Jerry Lewis when she does so.) "The Lady" left the next morning, so we've been housesitting, sort of, and exulting in the cleanliness and emptiness of a whole house to ourselves. Within blocks of the house are two swimming pools and parks, and I must admit that things are bigger in Texas--the pools are both twice the size of the pool at home, and the parks have two or three sliding/climbing toys. Babygirl loves to slide and climb and swim, so we distract her from her homesickness with carefully timed mentions of swimming or sliding. When all else fails, I say, "You want to go shopping?" and then I take her to the local Wal-Mart Supercenter. When in Texas, you know, do as Texans do.

I took the boys to see Madagascar. They are having a blast eating out every day. (I am enjoying not cooking, though I carry on with two loads of laundry each day). Tonight, they are going with their dad to his niece's house to swim and play. I hear rumors of dirt-bikes and four-wheelers and other devices designed to break children's bones. I'm staying home with Babygirl--we think it would be just too much for her--and we'll probably walk to the pool on the greenbelt paths.

We leave Sunday morning at 6:15 a.m. on Amtrak, heading for Disney World. Babygirl is excited about the idea--the train and Disney World itself--though she really has no idea what we're talking about. The boys cannot wait for this portion of our adventure to begin. We'll arrive late on the night of July 4th, ready for a five-day whirlwind tour.

Alas, I failed to get my house perfectly clean before I left, but in the end, I told myself it was good enough. When I get home, we'll be so happy to see our own not-quite-clean digs that it won't matter. Maybe that's the point of a vacation anyway. By the time you see your own worn carpets and grimy windows, you are just thrilled to be back in your own territory, nevermind if the high temperature is only seventy-one degrees in the middle of July. At least at home, you can plop your baby into her crib at 8:00 p.m. and she goes to sleep without a fuss. Here, we're sharing a full-sized bed and she sleeps fused to my spine, causing me to wake up puffy-eyed and sore.

Who knows when I'll check in again . . . Gina will be posting re-runs here and there for your entertainment. I'll eat some barbecue for you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Blogging About Blogging

Hi everyone, this is Gina from Just Another Day.

If you have been anything like me lately, you have been pining for your "Mel fix." I have forlornly been visiting this blog for the past week or so, hoping that Mel has found the time to post something. But her computer time is limited, and I am flattered that she asked me to be her personal flunky for the next few days and post some of her favorite entries from her archives. She and the family are doing very well in Texas, and Mel has managed to only get 3 mosquito bites so far! Babygirl did well on the plane, and the boys are busy with their Gameboys and swimming.

So, in honor of Mel, grab a Diet Coke with Lime and enjoy!

Time for our first re-run, which includes mention of a few posts I liked. Have fun! Right now, I'm in Houston, hopefully eating something delicious.

Click here for a re-run!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


The stockings are hung by the chimney with care . . . oh wait. Wrong month. Today is the longest day of the year--or was that yesterday and I missed it? Well, no matter. It's Vacation Eve!

We leave at 9:00 a.m. The place is scheduled to take off at 11:45 a.m. We'll arrive in Houston at 6:01 p.m., though it actually only takes about four hours to fly. I haven't told my almost-3 year old daughter that we're going because we have no framework or language to explain to her that we'll be away from home for three weeks. I'm pretty sure she'll be asking to go home way before it's time to go home. Like tomorrow night.

The house is as clean as it's going to get. My husband said, "Why does it matter if you clean the bathrooms?" and I said, "Because I want to come home to a clean house. Plus, if we die while we're gone, I don't want anyone to think we live like slobs."

Because if I'm dead, it will matter to me what people think.

Okay. Maybe not.

So, the bathrooms aren't as sparkling clean as I'd hoped, but I did get all the laundry done (IT'S A MIRACLE!), although I have at least 17 unmatched socks remaining.

I might have internet access while we're away (I do not have a laptop--isn't that alarming?). If so, I'll post a little something here or there. Otherwise, just picture me sweaty and pockmarked with mosquito bites, wearing a pair of extra-extra-large Mickey Mouse ears upon my frizzy hair. I'll be picturing you sitting in front of your computer screen, longing for my return.


Monday, June 20, 2005


Babygirl, potty-trained since October 2004: "I peed on the floor!"

Me: "You what?!"

Babygirl: "I need new pants."


With each 'p' sound, puffs of my anger blew her wispy hair back. She blinked and said, "Did I pee in my pants? Did I make you mad?"

Me: "YES! Now, go get dry pants. And don't pee on the floor again!"

Thus ends the suspense. The clean carpet is no longer. I am, however, still blond.

Monday Has Begun

I have a long list--several lists, actually--of stuff to do before we go. I'll get to that shortly, but first I wanted to make a few notes about community, and not just the place you live, but the way you live.

Everywhere I go, I see people clutching cell phones to their ears. On one hand, I celebrate this development because it promotes eavesdropping. People speak out loud into their palms, not realizing or not caring that everyone in a twelve foot radius can hear them. Just yesterday, the woman at the table next to me at the pool talked on her cell phone for half an hour. The children splashed and played while her husband tended to the marinaded chicken on the grill and she chatted.

The other afternoon at the nearby new park, I trailed behind Babygirl and encountered two adults sitting on either end of a park bench, speaking into their cell phones. In another era, those two might have visited or exchanged pleasantries, at least. No more.

Now, whenever you are faced with a situation in which you might meet a neighbor, that neighbor is probably on the phone. Gone are the days in which you sought to make connections with those physically closest to you. We are all connected, but we are not connected to our next-door neighbor, those who live on our street or even those in our town.

I wonder about this lack of connection to those in close proximity to us. Instead of being forced to find common ground with and tolerance for those within spitting distance, we can just phone a friend.

We've never been so in touch and so isolated at the same time.

[DaycareKid arrived at 7:30 a.m. In fifteen minutes, I've wiped his nose three times. He's whining that, "I'm sick," whine. Oh joy. I want to spray him with disinfectant and put him in the storage room. I do not want my own children to be sick during our trip. I'm short on compassion this morning. (Someone has just pointed out to me that I have bemoaned the state of community and then when a real live human being enters my house with a snotty nose, I want to isolate him. Point well taken. I really don't want my own kids to get sick right before we embark on our trip. We can commune with the germ-laden when we return.)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Reviewing and Wondering

Spray adhesive residue covers my fingertips. Black tempera paint blotches dot my palm. Tiny particles of styrofoam cling to my black shirt.

I just finished creating a giraffe and an elephant to decorate our church for Vacation Bible School. Last year, I didn't have to worry about decorations for even a second because I had a fabulous mother-daughter team who handled it all. This year, the mother in that team has the nerve to travel to Scotland and much less interest in creating "Serengeti Trek" here at home. So, I'm pitching in, doing what I can before I leave.

I have phone calls to make, forms to create and print, details to set straight so that Vacation Bible School will run smoothly when it begins four days after our return. I know I'll be exhausted. Since I've done this three previous years, I have assembled a great team of volunteers, so I won't worry. Everything will be fine. I won't worry. Everything will be fine. I won't worry. Everything will be fine.

This morning, my mother had a garage sale with a friend of hers. I left my husband at home with the children and went garage-saling--my mother's house was my second stop and I found her yard full of people and many unpacked boxes. What chaos! I immediately set to work unpacking boxes and displaying items. They had lots of stuff. I haven't heard how much they made, but when I stopped by after 5:00 p.m, they still had enough for another whole sale.

While my husband put Babygirl down for her nap today, I took the boys, my brother-in-law and my niece and nephew to the pool to swim. My niece didn't have a swimsuit, so we left the boys at the pool and went shopping for a suit. The rain and chill of the past week(s) disappeared and the sun shone warmly today. My boys all three got a little sunburned. I gave a little lecture about "your body, your responsibility," but they will never remember things like putting on their own sunscreen.

Last night, the carpet cleaner arrived about two minutes before my hair colorist arrived. My husband was supposed to be home at 6:00 p.m. to take care of Babygirl while I had my hair done, but he was at the pool with the boys and since it turned out to be "Ice Cream Social" night, they stayed late--until almost 8:00 p.m. Babygirl ended up not being any trouble, though, during the carpet cleaning and foil-highlighting session.

And now I have perfectly clean carpets and newly blond hair.

Yesterday morning, I took Babygirl with me to run errands. (It happened that I didn't have any daycare kids.) She is a pretty good partner, though I did buy two unnecessary items at the grocery store (our last stop of the day). She was a good girl as we went from the bank to the shoe store (pink Chuck Taylor Converse shoes for her) to Target to Burger King (I ordered a Whopper Junior meal for me and a Chicken Tenders meal for her and ended up with a Chicken Whopper for me and a cheeseburger for her--why can't they ever get an order right?) then to the bank (again--I had too many transactions to do all at once in the drive-through) then to the grocery store.

So, that's why I haven't been writing anything interesting and amusing.

I wonder if spray adhesive will come off with fingernail polish remover? I wonder if I have any fingernail polish remover? I wonder if I really will be ready to leave by Thursday?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Because I Am Nice Beyond The Call of Duty

I spent my evening driving to Seattle to pick up a car-load of my sister's cast-offs for my mother's garage sale which is to take place on Saturday. I left at 6:30 p.m. and returned home at 10:30 p.m.

I felt like I was in an endless car wash in the dark without my contacts in. I clutched the steering wheel and concentrated on not appearing on the eleven o'clock news as a fatality.

Tomorrow? No daycare kids. After I suffered a mild breakdown last night which included crying until my eyes were swollen and sleeping on the couch, my husband has rallied to my aid. Just in the nick of time. Now I shall not throw myself on the train tracks. The carpet cleaner will arrive at 2:00 p.m. My hair colorist will arrive at 6:00 p.m. Before those events, I hope to scratch off more items on my "To Do or Not To Do List."

Or not.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

First Day of Summer Vacation

We celebrated our first day of summer vacation yesterday by whipping up a batch of cantaloupe sorbet and swimming at the pool. Well, I use the word "celebration" very loosely, because I grumbled through the creation of the cantaloupe sorbet and only half of us went to the pool.

My twin 12-year-old boys are avid fans of the Food Network. Which is why when TwinBoyA saw a cantaloupe sitting on the sugar cannister, he said, "Oh! We can make sorbet!" This is a child who has never in his life eaten sorbet, or cantaloupe, either. This is the cantaloupe that I lovingly picked out by sniffing its brown scaly skin and waving it in the air to gauge its weight to size ratio.

Creating sorbet requires digging the food processor out of the front closet, which required shoving aside a Costco-sized package of DaycareKid's diapers (which he no longer wears), removing entirely the dead vacuum cleaner and moving the box from a Hickory Farms Christmas gift which ought to be inspected and tossed, most likely.

Then, I traipsed to the laundry room, where I was compelled to switch clothes from washer to dryer and dryer to basket and basket to couch and dirty clothes to washer. That done, I pulled the ice cream maker from my utility room cupboard where it has been sitting unused for six and a half year. Before that, my ex-sister held it ransom for quite a while in her storage unit before she attempted to sell it at a garage sale. My mother brought it to me when no one would buy it for $5.00. Five dollars! My dad paid $39.99 for that machine, full-price when one day he got a hankering for homemade ice cream that did not involve rock salt and a crank. I haven't used it since he died almost sixteen years ago. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure it was ever used more than once, after he satisfied his craving.

For all these years, I've kept the metal cylinder in my freezer, ready at a moment's notice to turn cream into ice cream. That moment came yesterday, catching me off-guard, and involved only cantaloupe and sugar, no cream at all.

While TwinBoyA eagerly watched and advised me, I scooped cantaloupe to the scale where we could measure a precise "one pound, five ounces." Then, we processed the melon until it was smooth and added a cup and a half of sugar and processed it another thirty seconds. He carefully set the timer for an hour and we chilled it the exact amount of time. When the buzzer rang, into the ice cream maker it went and he and TwinBoy B turned the handle three times every three minutes until it was done fifteen minutes later.

Then into the freezer it went.

My husband stayed home with Babygirl while I took the boys to the pool. I didn't want to take her because although school is out, no one notified Mother Nature and chilly winds blew dour clouds around the afternoon sky. Despite the warmth of the heated wading pool, I knew Babygirl would be cold.

I wore blue jeans, a cotton shirt, a jean jacket, heavy white socks, red Ked slip-on sneakers and carried Jayber Crow with me to read. A pack of mostly pre-teen boys jostled in the pool, playing basketball, mostly. YoungestBoy had the diving board to himself and perfected a little chubby swan dive, while I held my book open in my lap, but mostly chatted with DaycareKid who ambled over to me and sat on the adjacent lounge chair. He was shivering, so I covered him in a towel and we chatted as if we had not already spent ten hours together. His mother came over, apologizing for him, but I said, "No problem. It's no problem at all."

The kids swam and played for two hours while I read in fits and starts, depending on the interruptions.

The sorbet's exile to the freezer came to an end just as we walked in the door. The boys each had a scoop and I gave my husband two for good measure.

My husband advised me he prefers his cantaloupe unprocessed. The boys ate their small scoops, but no one clamored for more. Next time we use that ice cream maker we'll be using fudge, marshmallows and broken up Oreos. And we won't be waiting sixteen years, either. I predict a summer full of ice cream and many more days of wild play at the pool, clouds or not.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Stayin' Alive

When I woke this morning, I felt a footstep further away from death. Until that moment, I was tiptoeing towards death. Today was better, not great, but better. Tonight, however, every time I cough, my temples throb with pain. And I can barely type due to a pool injury. Last night, Babygirl wanted to go to the bathroom at the pool. (I have to admit that the very first day at the pool, I suggested to her that she pee in the pool. She's tiny. She has a small bladder. The pool is large and full of chemicals. Urine is sterile.)

She would have none of that. Some days, we traipse around the pool and into the slickly tiled bathroom and tug down her swimsuit repeatedly. Five or six times we do this, but yet, no output. Last night, the toilet seat was wet. I reached into the toilet paper dispenser to get a wad to wipe the seat. I recoiled in pain--something sharp sliced a quarter inch wound on the tip of my finger. (Oh, and Babygirl didn't bother to actually pee after my Incident.)

It bled and bled. Today it doesn't bleed, but it hurts, especially when I type. The pain distracts me from my headache. It turns out that you use the letters "D" and "E" with painful frequency when typing in English.

Tomorrow is the last day of school. YoungestBoy only has a half-day. I asked him, "What do you think we should get your teacher?" I suggested a gift card to a bookstore. (That's what I'd like.) He said, "No, I want to get her something pretty." I said, "Like what?" He ran across the room and pointed to my Spode Christmas Tree pattern cookie jar in the china hutch. "Like that!" he said.

I love that this kid has such a definite mind of his own. I found a little ceramic thing at Hallmark--I can't really describe it, but it's a kind of pretty bank for adults. He thinks it's pretty. (It cost $2.95 on sale!) I added a set of fragrant candles and a card.

And so ends another school year. Summer will come and go in a flash and hopefully, by then, I'll be able to breathe through my nose again.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Make Up Your Own

I am still sick, very sore throat, head-ache, blah, blah, blah.

So, instead of a regular installment of Sarcastic, Snide, Smarmy Mel, I invite you to read the comments under "The View" and make up your own post in your head. Have fun.

Hopefully, tomorrow I'll feel well enough to continue my annihilation of random strangers who comment on my blog. ;)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Spider-Killing and Kicking Butt at Baby Showers

The hour of David Letterman has nearly arrived and I am still sitting at my computer, peering at the screen with contact lenses still in place. I am creating documents and maps and beautiful works of art to aid me in my presentation tomorrow. I am training volunteers to work during our week of Vacation Bible School. I need to hand them gorgeous hand-outs, complete with cute little clip-art lions and elephants and zebras, oh my.

Even though my throat hurts (only when I swallow . . . must . . . not. . . swallow . . . gulp . . .).

Only two more days of school. Who are we kidding, though? We've sputtered to a dead stop. The public school plans parties on the last days . . . and now I know why. The kids have pretty much done all they can do.

I keep forgetting to tell you about the baby shower game. I am a ruthless competitor when it comes to baby showers. You know how you have to do a handful of silly games before the mom-to-be opens her stacks of gifts ("awwwww, how cute!")? Well, I can't help myself. Suddenly, I turn into fourth-grade Mel and I must finish the test game first. This time, it was a word scramble and instead of zooming through it with embarrassing quickness, I struggled a bit. This scramble was a challenge! Everyone was finally "cheating" out loud and yet, they still didn't have all the answers. I puzzled and grimaced and rewrote the letters in the margin and finally shouted, "I'M DONE!"

I won a $10 gift certificate to Cold Stone Creamery.

Usually, I sweep the games completely, but this time the other games were random and unwinnable by simple will-power and brain-power.

As for spider-killing (and, yes, I know--spiders are good, spiders are our friends). Tonight, my mother called and asked if I could come over. I was going out anyway to buy posterboard, so I stopped by her house first. She launched into a tale of a spider, a spider so gigantic, so enormous that she could not walk through her kitchen to her bathroom for fear this arachnid would . . . well, I'm not sure what the spider would do to her since she is ten thousand times the size of a spider, but she is terrified of spiders, especially bigger than average spiders. (None of our local spiders are venomous, either.)

I am not fond of spiders myself. I don't like how they look at me. But I rarely kill them. I'm too scared to kill them. (I know, irrational. What a girl! What's wrong with me?!) I ignore them if they are not bothering me or have someone else kill them if they are lurking in the bathroom sink or something, standing between me and my toothbrush.

But my mother is beyond mere fear. She cannot sleep in an apartment if she's seen a spider crawling around. So she called me.

As we chatted a while later, sitting on her bed, clipping her new kitten's claws, the spider lurched toward us. She began to babble and scream incoherently, leaving me to be the brave rescuer. I had to spring into action. I grabbed a crockpot box sitting on her bedroom floor (why? because she's a packrat) and slammed it down onto the spider.

Then we both clutched our hands to our chests and felt our hearts pounding.

Eventually, I gathered enough courage to lift the box, poke at the smooshed spider with a fly swatter and flush it down the toilet.

I hate it when I'm forced into being the Brave One. Aren't mothers supposed to do this? I mean, shouldn't my mother be the one protecting me? When did this shift happen?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Eight! Six! Four! Two! Zero!

I am sick. Nothing life-threatening, of course, nothing warranting a full day in bed, just a sore throat--a really sore throat--a nagging cough, a stuffy nose and a headache.

And in the next week, I have to:

1) Finish up school with school-at-home boys;
2) Meet with decorating team for Vacation Bible School;
3) Run two separate meetings for Vacation Bible School volunteers (Saturday);
4) Type 40-60 pages of transcription;
5) Keep house tidy enough;
6) Stay on top of laundry;
7) Send two packages in the mail;
8) Prepare to leave town on June 23.

I have realized there is no way I will ever:

1) Get all the closets in the house cleaned out;
2) Sort, purge and organize storage room;
3) Pull all the weeds;
4) Lose sufficient amount of weight to look cute in my new swimsuit;
5) Leave house in pristine condition;
6) Win the Pulitzer Prize.

What I wish for:

1) Perfect health;
2) A clever birthday gift for my husband (44 years old today!), along with a delicious meal and perfect dessert;
3) The immediate end to school;
4) One entire day alone in my house;

What I have to do now:
1) Clean kitchen;
2) Wake up pre-teenagers still snoozing in their beds.

My motivation:

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The View From Here

Rosie is on "The View" this morning. I've always liked Rosie. We're almost the same age. Our kids are close in ages. Of course, she has a Kelli and I don't and she's a rabid Democrat and I'm not, but still. I like her. I liked her in "A League of Their Own," I liked her in "Sleepless in Seattle," and I liked her show. A lot. I even liked her when she lit into the hunky Tom Selleck over gun control. (Everyone has a bad day. Her outburst shocked me, but I am loyal and overlooked her bad manners.) I liked her obsession with the short little man, Tom Cruise. (I like him, too, though I am a little queasy over his newest girlfriend, and I do mean girl-friend.)

I still like her, even though she is somewhat shrill in her denunciation of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. She says we should never have invaded a sovereign nation. Should we ever?

It all started, of course, when the United States of America broke her original policy of isolationism. We entered World War I.. Do you realize that nine million soldiers died in that conflict? Nine million. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-MILLION. (I just learned this again when my 6th grade boys covered this unit in history. I was stunned. Nine million!)

I'm no historian. I bet Rosie isn't either. Yet she has it all figured out and all I have are questions. Should our country simply mind our own business? And if so, can I please have a refund of my tax dollars that were sent overseas in humanitarian aid and loans to third-world countries? Do we have a responsibility as a rich republic to come to the aid of other countries? Should we ever interfere in other countries? (What about World War II? Should we have left England and France and their Allies to contend with Hitler alone, even though our prior intervention in World War I set the stage for World War II?)

I admire the passion of people who know they are right and that everyone who disagrees with them is simply rabid in some way or another (rabid Republican, rabid Right-Wing Christian, rabid housewife). I do. Really, I do. I wish I knew I were right, so completely right--but even more, I wish I had all the irrefutable facts and inexhaustible knowledge of history to make sense of it all.

Oh, and I still like Rosie. (And while I'm talking about celebrities, can I just say how ridiculous I find it that Christian Slater was arrested for allegedly touching a woman's backside? Arrested? Seriously now, if a man touched your bottom in public on a sidewalk, would you have him arrested? It just seems like an overreaction to me. A person with a sense of humor might scold Mr. Slater loudly, invoking Miss Manners. "Dear Gentle Reader: If a celebrity accosts you on a sidewalk and gropes your posterior, remain dignified and inform the celebrity of the error of his ways." What a silly goose, calling the police like a giant tattle-tale.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

What's Love Got To Do With It?

What does love have to do with it? I guess that depends on what you mean by "love." Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Is that enough? Is love, that kind of love, enough?

I know a couple married nearly ten years. They have been unhappy and mean to each other for years, almost since the very beginning. The stresses pile up, higher than they ever imagined. Money is scarce. Optimism even scarcer. Their two children hear them fight and call each other vulgar names.

I know a financially secure couple married over ten years. She wants a divorce. He works too much. Her emotional needs have grown like weeds, unstoppable, overshadowing the flowers. He keeps calling my husband, hoping for a miracle, begging for advice, a cure, something. They have three children who will soon wonder what happened to their world.

I know a couple newly divorced. They were married only three years, two years and eleven months too long if you ask her. He was cruel in ways no one could see. Their baby will grow up in one house, then another, switching off every week, his life divided into "His" and "Hers." (The first thing the woman got after her separation was a boyfriend. The first thing the man got after the separation was new rims for his Mercedes.)

I just wonder, can't stop wondering . . . what went wrong? Sure, every case is unique, every pain fresh, every circumstance individual. But at some point, shouldn't commitment and love walk hand in hand and bridge the gaps? I hear myself. I know that sounds unbearably sanctimonious and I hear the voices of people saying, "Life is too short to be unhappy."

When I was in college, I copied down the words, "Love is not a feeling to be felt, but an action to be learned." I felt like I had come across the secret of a happy life. Action, not feeling. Doing, not being. I trusted that emotions would follow common sense and good judgment. And I waited for a man who believed that, too.

So far, almost eighteen years of marriage later, my open-eyed, clear-headed approach seems to be working. What's love got to do with it? Well, everything, of course. Love is the heart that pumps life through our marriage. Love is kind. Love is patient. Love is the man who makes the bed in the mornings because he knows that a tidy bed says, "I love you," to me. Love is the invisible hand that claps over my mouth and stops me from criticizing and nagging. Love is sending him on a weekend trip because he needs a break. Love is him overlooking my messy piles of stuff which haven't found a home.

Love is what we do. Love is what we choose to do. Love is everything.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Weekend Wrap Up in Incomplete Sentences

Friday night:
YoungestBoy baseball game.
Babygirl, Twinboys and I went to pool. They swam while I tried to stay warm in my jeans and long sleeves.

Husband prepared for and conducted memorial service.
I dusted, vacuumed, shuffled books around my shelves, decluttered and straightened up three bedrooms upstairs.
Babygirl boycotted nap.
YoungestBoy baseball game again.
Escaped house at earliest opportunity to shop for baby gifts. Stayed away until after kids' bedtime, but returned to find them still up.

Church. I wandered the hallways with Babygirl during church. Not so refreshing for the soul and not a good enough reason to wear pantyhose, but I trust this stage won't last forever.
While husband napped with Babygirl, I drove to the closest thrift store to browse until it was time to go to a babyshower at 3:00 p.m. Found bargains.

The baby shower was for the mom whose five-year old son died recently from a blood disorder. In fact, he died on April 15. Her baby girl is due on June 27. I have never been so aware of the almost-simultaneous joy and grief of life. I wondered how she can stand to press a hand to her swollen belly and feel the life wriggling inside. Does she fear another loss? Does she allow herself to hope? I would be terrified, I think.

Over the weekend, when I've seen the news coverage of the 18-year old girl who disappeared in Aruba, I've looked at Babygirl and thought, "Never. You will never leave my sight." And my husband said, "I would never let her go on a trip to a foreign country when she is 18!"

I agreed, but. I went to Tahiti when I was 16. And Jamaica when I was 18. I didn't go to drink and party, true, but still. I had a passport. And I had parents who let me go and never let on if they fretted about me while I was gone.

This will be out last full week of school. Before Saturday, I have to prepare for a training meeting for my volunteers for Vacation Bible School. I have a decorating committee meeting on Thursday. My "to-do-or-not-to-do" list is still long and unmanageable.

My "vacation" is rushing toward me like a tornado. Help.

Upstairs of my house: tidy, dust-free, clean.
Downstairs of my house: complete pig-sty, neglected while I concentrated on upstairs. Sigh.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Books Galore

I've been tagged by Barbara Curtis. This is all about books, one of my favorite things.

Total books owned, ever:
I can't really begin to know, for sure, but probably over a thousand, maybe well over a thousand. I scour thrift stores and garage sales and a group of four of us send around a box full of books to share with each other. I have fifty books right now demanding my attention, NEXT.

Last book(s) I bought:
Just received an order from today. In it was "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2005;" "The Mommy Manual: Planting Roots that Give Your Children Wings" by Barbara Curtis; and "Home to Harmony" by Philip Gulley (I needed a third cheap book to get free shipping).

Last book I read:
I am half-way through "Jayber Crow" by Wendell Berry. Right before this, I read Janet Evanovich's "Two for the Dough."

Five books that mean a lot to me:
1) The Bible (I prefer New International Version). Words to live by.
2) "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Faith" by Anne Lamott. She offers me hope and makes me laugh.
3) "Disappointment with God" by Philip Yancey. His words accompanied me on my journey through infertility.
4) "A Circle of Quiet" by Madeleine L'Engle. Resonates with the girl inside me who longs for her own circle of quiet.
5) "No Ordinary Home: The Uncommon Art of Christ-Centered Homemaking" by Carol Brazo. I met Carol in a writing class about fifteen years ago. She was home with three small kids, just starting her writing career. I was at home without kids, waiting to adopt. She was germinating this book at the time and I watched from a distance as she became a published writer. Her story gives me hope and the book itself is lovely and encouraging.

I'm supposed to tag five people . . . just about everyone I know has been tagged, but if you haven't, please leave a comment and let us know where we can read about your books!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I'm So Lucky

My daughter wakes up too early, especially when I don't need to wake up early. This morning, I lifted her from her crib around 6:30 a.m. I shouldn't complain--our twins routinely woke up at 5:30 a.m. when they were small. I used to vow revenge--I said I would wake them up early when they were teenagers by vacuuming outside their bedroom door and making a racket in the kitchen, but now that the reality of them actually sleeping in has arrived I savor the quietness. Sometimes they are still dozing at 9:30 a.m. Now I know why adults might choose to rise early--to outsmart the teens.

Anyway. Back to this morning. I was so annoyed and tired. I was curled under the covers while she sat near my feet, watching Sesame Street.

Every few minutes, she'd ask, "Whatcha doing?"

And I'd mumble, trying not to move my lips, "Sleeping."

"And what I doing?" she'd say.

"Watching t.v.," I'd mumble again.

When I finally gave up and headed for the shower, I suggested, "Hey, why don't you go watch a video?" And she said, "No. I want to watch you."

"I'm so lucky," I said. But I didn't really mean that. As the boys would tell you, "Mom's using sarcasm again."

I'm ashamed that I so often take my life for granted. I want silly things--solitude, thinking time, to shower without an audience and to brush my teeth without a certain small someone turning off the water before I'm finished rinsing. I look right past the blessings I have and concentrate on how crowded I feel, how stuck, how sick I am of having little people breathing on me and blocking my path in the kitchen.

My daughter, though, doesn't know about that stuff. When I finished my shower, she was waiting for me and she gleefully hollered, "YOU'RE SO LUCKY!"

And I heard her. That time, I actually meant it when I said, "You're right. I'm so lucky."

I am so lucky.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Open Letter to Nick Jr. Television Programmers

Dear Mr. and Ms. Nick Jr. Television Programmers:

Imagine my horror yesterday when I realized that my daughter's favorite show, "Max & Ruby" wasn't showing at 1:00 p.m., aka NAPTIME. I have carefully spun a delicate, intricate spider's web of a schedule, which you just swiped your hands through, Mr. and Ms. Programmers, when you blotted this darling show from the schedule. You plunged your hand through my fragile schedule and now . . . now, naptime has become a juggle of exploding grenades. I hope the sticky strands of my former naptime schedule stick to your eyelashes and render you temporarily blind.

Oh, sure, I am smarter than I look. I already purchased a video tape of the show in question. But that's not good enough for a two year old who believes in the immutability of television programming. She doesn't want to watch "the funny rabbit show" in her room, oh no. She wants to watch it from my king-sized bed, on my television, on the television which does not have a VCR attached. Have you tried to fool a two year old? Have you attempted reasoning with such an unreasonable creature? I thought not.

So, please, I'm begging you. Just put "Max & Ruby" back where it belongs. Restore my faith in humanity. Have mercy upon a mother who needs a smooth naptime routine. If you don't march back in there and do what I say this second, you'll have to go sit in the Naughty Chair. And believe me, that's not as fun as it sounds!

Bring back "Max & Ruby." Don't make a grown woman cry.
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