January 31, 2006
I Hate My Pants

Note to New Readers: There's a happy ending 99% of the time here. Now, on with it ...

Yesterday, I hated my pants. Don't know WHAT I was thinking. Yes, I do. I was thinking they were a gift in my size, and they were clean, and they were on the top of the pile, and I was in a hurry. It seemed like a good idea. Except for the weird boot cut. Which should NOT be made in short-pudgy-people-sizes. So. I spent my day in red velour rap-star pants. And, so help me, I even spent about an hour in the matching shirt/jacket.

Have you ever noticed that nothing seems to go right when you're wearing bad pants? Well, things here went quickly downhill if not straight off a very tall cliff.

Remember how much I love my dining table? A year later and I still absolutely love it. The cut is just ... right. The dimension, the design, the finish. Its all just perfectly right. (Take a big breath) We realized it won't fit in the dining spot in the new house. I could feel my pupils dilating. My husband assured me with barely contained glee that he was sure it would fit somewhere else in the house. Its a big house, lots of spots! I can't blame him for the glee. The only two spots it will fit realistically is his office and ... his other office. I'm still going to experiment with that trick of switching the living room and dining room, but I'm not overly optimistic. At least its a table we both like. A lot.

And my brilliant husband, who loves me at least as much as I love my table, pointed out that I could shop for a new table! While he meant well, this did not cheer my heart. I hate shopping for furniture. Its expensive. Its hard to find exactly what I want that he also wants, and I'm not the kind of wife to just make him suffer.

Then he had a thought. I could ask a cabinet maker we like to duplicate it in a more appropriate size and perhaps in a more compatible finish. Except the cabinet maker is in another state and has a long waiting list. Then he had another thought. Perhaps the guy could be cajoled into a working vacation to do all the cabinet work in the house! I have little faith in that working out, but I'll pursue it.

At that point, he might have noticed that the pants had sucked the life out of me. Its hard to be optimistic wearing those pants. I could feel the down-fall of civilization as we know it just around the corner while wearing those pants. No wonder rap songs are so depressing! They're wearing the wrong pants!

As soon as I realized this, I took a bubbly-bath to get rid of any residual pant-attitude and settled into a soft-flannel-robe-thing. I plopped on the sofa to hold the baby. Who did NOT immediately spit on me. Things were looking up! Then I looked at a magazine while she dozed on my shoulder.

There. It. Was. The right sofa. The very most right sofa ever. The perfectly right room design for our new house. Right colors. Right furniture. Just ... right. By the same company that made my table. I caught my breath, shakily marking the page to look at later, not really trusting that I had found the solution so easily to so much anguish about what to do with the first floor! I looked at it again this morning. Its still right!

Tonight, I'll show my husband. Who will be shocked at how much he loves its rightness. Its the complete opposite of our current house, which is indeed painted like a children's museum. The new house, at least the first floor, is most likely going to be a sophisticated taupe and ivory and some yet-to-be-determined accent color. Perhaps a pale robins-egg-turqoise-blue. The floors are teak, and the molding matches the floors. It will be fabulous. I can't tell you what a RELIEF it is finally have a vision!

And did you notice that all the good stuff happened as soon as I got rid of those pants!?!

January 30, 2006
Quixote Out Of Coma

Well, he's posting again. And STILL too lazy to get rid of typepad commenting service ;)

January 27, 2006
Sometimes, My Heart Skips A Beat

Sometimes, my heart skips a beat and its not from cardiac-problems either. We're approaching the Valentine season. Which according to Walmart started January 2nd. Which made me think of Thanksgiving. Just go with it, trust me.

Remember the Thanksgiving incident? Sure you do. Appendix Day! Which makes my heart skip a beat every time I think about it in that sparklely-wow!-I-feel-loved kinda way.

After the incident, days later, my husband mentioned in passing what he was thinking when he realized something was very very very wrong that morning before he went to the hospital ... He was standing at the bathroom sink, thinking something very similiar to "Dear God, Please don't let this happen to her, Amen"

Did you get that? He was really considering the possibility that something was very wrong enough to kill him, and the concern upper-most in his mind was my future instead of his own. And he meant it.

A few months ago, Julie at Seedlings and Sprouts mentioned a woman she knew that kept telling her comatose husband that he was loved because she wasn't sure he already knew. That struck me as ultimately horrifically sad. And then it dawned on me that maybe my husband needed to know. Not that I love him, which he's well aware of in spade, but rather that he might need to know that I know that he loves me.

During the holidays, after the baby and the appendix and the house-guests and stuff, I might have been a little ... temperamental. Its possible I had a meltdown like an exhausted two year old desperately in need of a nap. Or a meltdown like an exhausted thirty-six year old desperately in need of a nap. Going to bed with puffy eyes, I just wanted to sleep it off. So there I was, laying in bed under my fluffy blanket, when my husband told me from the doorway something along the lines of "I don't know exactly what happened, and I'm sorry you're upset, but I want you to know that I love you" NOTE TO HUSBAND: PAY ATTENTION TO THIS NEXT PART

So, there I was, laying in bed cranky and the thought that went through my head right before I drifted off to sleep was "Of COURSE I know you love me" I was really ... grumpy ... and still, that fact was never in question.

Now, I can understand how he might have been confused because I was a little incoherent and rambling while trying to make the point that "You didn't pay enough attention to me" instead of making the point "You don't love me". I NEVER imagine that he doesn't love me but I am greedy enough to want more time. I ALWAYS want more time. ANOTHER NOTE TO HUSBAND: Yes, I know your time is in very short supply and I get all the best parts you have left and it'll be better as soon as the house is finished etc. Yes, I know you're doing it for us. Yes, I swear I get it. Yes, I will try to be a better sport about it. And sometimes I will succeed :)

January 26, 2006
Lucy Has An Idea

Another phrase that strikes fear and dread into my husband's heart -- "I have an idea".

But this time its a little idea. And he doesn't even have to do anything. And, perhaps, it will return a little profit.

I got a new garden catalog, The Territorial Seed Company. In a way, this is all my husband's fault because he's supposed to be throwing out garden catalogs as soon as he gets the mail this season.

I noticed a few fascinating new plant ideas. For example, minature bell peppers in assorted colors. And White Currant Tomatoes. Can't you just imagine how the foodies that frequent the new gourmet shop in town would freak over those? Well, I can. I have a good imagination. And I know the owners of the shop are interested in buying/selling local organic gourmet produce. And I also know a thing or two about "foodies", especially the -- ahem -- sophisticated ones.

Its all about the marketing. Homemade v/s artisianal. Egg-pie v/s quiche. Tap-water v/s Evian. Lets be clear, for the uninitiated or easily intimidated: all those things are the same. Evian is just tap-water from a different tap. Homemade IS artisianal, and quiche IS egg-pie. Marketing matters. This is why Kiwi fruit changed its name from Australian Gooseberry. No one wanted a gooseberry. It sounded rather icky. But Kiwi? Now THAT sounds exotic!

Almost as exotic as Organic White Currant Tomatoes. Which I'll be growing shortly. And a few plants of Organic Minature Chocolate Bell-peppers (along with the Cardinal and Sunshine and Vert colors). Just to see how receptive the local market is. Plus, this year the little plum tree should have a few yellow plums on it. So I might also be offering Organic Japanese Shiro Plums. Just a thought.

The point is: These are small plants with a relatively high yield and even higher profit margin. Kids could do this!

If this works, next year I might add a few yellow raspberries and a few wild blueberries from Maine. Speciality hard-to-find organics are what foodies are looking for. I'll laugh all the way to the bank. We'll see how it goes and keep you posted.

January 24, 2006
Better Late Than Never

I love playing tag! A few days ago Ö ok, a few weeks ago Ö I was tagged by EarthGirl at GoodEarth playing The Fours. Such fun! Then life got crazy-busy, which will be its own post later. But I was thinking about the questions the whole time! While driving to birthday parties, and Walmart, and doing laundry, and Walmart, and chasing the puppies, and Walmart. See, I have an odd ability to write in my head. Letters. Lists. Complete papers. No rough drafts. It was a skill honed to razor-sharp perfection by necessity. My mother used to read every scrap of paper I touched. She also used to listen in on phone calls and intercept my mail, but thatís another story of paranoia and too-much-Oprah-watching.

And, so, hereís what I thought about Ö

January 20, 2006
Grapey And Snake-Squisher

Still LOLing about Sinister Frappo. Still crazy/busy because we are in the midst of our first sleepover. My house is full of children. FULL of screaming sugared-up-on-Belgian-waffles-and-chocolate-ganauche-children. Will post THAT later, especially the part about how they are planning to stay an extra night.

One of my boys, who displays the same naming skills as Paul, named his first toy horse Grapey. It wasn't purple. It had NOTHING to do with grapes. He just liked the word. Grapey. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

A few months later, he got his second toy horse. He named it Snake-Squisher. I asked why. (Wouldn't you ask why?) He got out a toy snake. He put the horse next to it. He looked at them. Suddenly he grabbed the horse, put it on top of the snake (rather agressively), told me "See? Because thats his name!"

Fortunately for Katherine, he didn't get much input into her naming!

January 19, 2006
Crazy/Busy, But Still Laughing

I don't know how life got so crazy/busy, and it looks like it'll stay that way for three more days, but I'm still laughing. In fact, here's two moments that made me laugh so hard I almost fell over!

(1) Overheard at Awanas, spoken by a very focused little boy. "We won't talk about the one you really don't want to ever see, you know -- the Evil One. S.A.T.I.N!"

(2) Lee told me that Chris-the-bully was nice to him yesterday at school. I mentioned that maybe we were being a good influence on him, and that maybe it was because we were praying for Chris. Lee said grimly "Maybe. Of course, Chris was only there a half-day!"

January 11, 2006
Living In Fear

Practice muttering the shark music from Jaws in your head, you'll need it a lot during this post. Duh-duh ... duh-duh ... duh-duh

I love the online-only bookclub Zooba. If you don't belong, you should. Its great! I noticed today they have a new service in conjuction with Audible.com ... (insert faint shark music)

Audio-books! Completely unabridged! Thousands and thousands of them! Including children's books! We've discovered that our children can be completely captivated by books-on-cd as my husband bought the entire Narnia series to prep our children for the movie. We've also discovered that I feel like chewing my arm off after spending countless trips into the city held hostage by hour upon hour of enforced silence so they can hear the story. Now, a whole new world of audio-books opens right before my eyes! And I find that I'm too good a wife and mother to just bury the knowledge (insert slightly louder shark music) because ...

We're taking the children to Colorado to visit family for Spring Break. And we're driving ... (escalating shark music) ... all the way. From here to there. TWO full days of driving. DUH-DUH should reach a huge crescendo in your head about ... now!

I live in fear, wondering what my husband will select for our adventure. I suppose I can only hope for the best. Maybe a little Ronald Dahl. Dare I suggest James and the Giant Peach? Or The Great Brain?

Feel free to make suggestions.

The Memory Of A Story

I saw an abulance yesterday driving through the neighborhood. It crossed the street in front of me, slowly. Quietly. No lights or sirens. I suppose thats what grabbed my attention. Generally when I think of ambulances, I think of lights and sirens and speed and urgency. I think of desperation and praying. I think of panic and heroes. All in a sudden flash.

But yesterday, in that slow moment, one particular memory presented itself. Its not even my memory, rather a memory of a story. Perhaps I remember it because I know the people in the story. Perhaps I remember it because I want to imagine that all drivers are heroes, in case I need one. Perhaps I remember it simply because its a story that deserves to be remembered. And so ...

Once upon a time there was a man. A rather nice man. Average, with average problems. A reasonable mortgage. A sweet wife and children. A job he mostly liked. Friends. In fact, he had one friend in particular. We should all be so blessed! They had been best-friends since kindergarten, even living on the same street when they grew up. Separated by only two fields and a railroad track. Technically, I suppose it should be called a "road" instead of a "street" since it was out in the county. A long straight flat road.

The man was a volunteer. They need a lot of volunteers out in rural areas, and he firmly believed in volunteering. He had volunteered for the military. Now, He volunteered at the local fire-department. He volunteered at the local school. He volunteered at the local church. He volunteered at the local ambulance squad.

He worked nights, so he was a natural fit to be the afternoon volunteer at the rescue/ambulance squad. He could sleep at the station, since they almost never got a call. But he was there, just in case. And he was there the day they got The Call.

A woman was having chest-pains. Then it hit him. He knew the address. He knew his best friend's wife had a heart condition, even though she was just a 30-something stay-at-home-mom. He knew time mattered. Thats how it came about that he was driving the ambulance very fast on the road that went in front of his house that afternoon when his wife was working in the flowerbed on the side of their house that faced the field between the house and the railroad tracks.

She heard the siren and straightened up, looking toward the road, probably wondering if it were him. Then she heard the whistle.

He knew the train was coming. He knew that freight trains in that part of the country are ridiculously long, sometimes stopping traffic for minute upon minute. Minutes he couldn't afford to waste. He knew he'd never make it in time if he touched the brakes.

There were lots of things he didn't know. He didn't know his wife was watching everything in slow motion as the ambulance and the train approached the exact same spot. He didn't know her scream would haunt his children's dreams for the rest of their lives. He didn't know the ambulance would make it by only inches, so close that the engineer thought he had hit him. He didn't know that would be the last time drove the ambulance.

Even though there was the happy ending, his wife couldn't take the stress of wondering about the next call. And the next and the next. So. That was his last drive. But it was the one that mattered. For that afternoon, he was his best-friend's hero. The hero everyone dreams of, and dreams of being. We should all be so blessed.

January 09, 2006
The Santa Game

I'm fascinated by how different families handle the issue of Santa. Personally, I've explained to our children that we like playing The Santa Game. Much in the same way we play The Toothfairy Game, which my husband turned into The Junior Bountyhunter Game. He put a bounty on the toothfairy!

Anyway, we play The Santa Game. The parents pretend to be Santa. The children pretend to think there's a Santa. Lots of fun for all! Santa mostly brings books, and the stocking things. But our Santa is DEFINITELY rather literate. I try to make sure each child gets a "fun" book, and a "serious" book. This year I splurged and they also got puzzles.

I especially love "doing" the stockings. Its my thing. My parents tried to squish it out of me the year that my little brother finally realized there was no Santa. But I persevered. I did the stocking for my little brother the next year, and added one for my parents, and told them calmly I wasn't above doing my own stocking. Fortunately, it never came to that. Mostly because my little brother stepped up and did my stocking in splendid style. After I got married, my husband tried to distract me with other traditions. I suspect he was vaguely horrified at the prospect of dealing with bunches of little things and tiny bows etc. I persevered.

All year if I see a little special item, I scoop it up for the stockings. The criteria is not "cheap" or "quantity", but rather small and clever and charming. There's an art to a well-done stocking. Its ALL about the "thought".

This year, the children got cool pens. And stickers. Note-pads. Wallets (to replace the one the puppy ate, and the one that went in the washer). Costume jewelry. Combs. Soap. Thumbtacks. Toothbrushes so cool that they took a break in the middle of it all to immediately go brush their teeth!

Doing the kids is easy. Doing adults is harder. I think that says a lot about adults, how jaded adults become, how they have a harder time finding joy in little things. Unless they're getting a stocking full of little things from me. Because I am an amazing stocking stuffer person. And gracefully full of humility I might add!

Although, this year was NOT the best stocking year ever, having spent months being pregnant and the last few weeks before the holiday consumed with the newborn and the husbands appendix and the visitors and ... LALALALALA I'm in my happy place LALALALALALA ...

Anyway, like I was saying, its ALL about the thought instead of price and/or quanity. For example, my mother absolutely adores Guerlain lipstick but won't buy it for herself because she couldn't sleep nights knowing she paid THAT for lipstick. She lit up like the Christmas tree when she found two tubes in her stocking a few years ago. Not just because she loved the item, but because she felt loved knowing that I had paid attention to her and then cared enough to do something about it.

Another example, my father is thrilled to find fingernail clippers in his stocking. And a tape-measure. He is thrilled because his are always vanishing, and is makes him feel just the tiniest bit special because I obviously feel his pain! My mother and brother can not keep track of those things for love nor money! My father and I are both the kind that squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom and put the clippers right back exactly where they go because ... well ... thats where they go.

You'll note, there's a SIGNIFICANT price difference between clippers and Guerlain lipstick. But there's no difference in the level of appreciation. Its ALL about the thought.

Which makes it harder to do my husband's stocking. I think about him all the time. When I see a little treat for him, I can't hold on to it. It finds him immediately. But I suspect his stocking is about to get much more interesting in the next few years.

As the children get older, I'm going to let them start helping me do the stockings. I've been doing it all myself the last several years, but I remember when I was young that everyone in the house would slip things into other peoples stockings on Christmas Eve. Sometimes wrapped and sometimes not. Mysterious bulges in the stocking were so VERY thrilling. It was great to see other people excited about something you did. I want to share that with my children. A love of giving. The joy of plotting and planning something for someone you love, even when you don't get credit for it since "Santa" does the stockings.

I suspect I better emphasize the "for someone you love" part of that sentence. My children will probably take WAY too much joy in the "plotting and planning". When Ron (who turned 8 this month) opened a snap-circuit-board for Christmas and realized it could be used to build several projects among which was a motion detector, he spontaneously burst out "GREAT! NOW I CAN TRAP THE TOOTHFAIRY!"

January 07, 2006
Ask, Recieve, Disbelieve?

The concept is fascinating: we ask for things through prayer, we recieve things we pray for, we disbelieve that there was divine intervention. (That was the name of an article in World magazine that really brought me up short)

How many times has it happened to you? You pray, things turn out allright, and you think "Oh, things would have turned out all right anyway. There wasn't any reason to pray afterall. It wasn't needed."

But how do we know that? Doesn't that seem rather like a crazy way to think? If we believe enough to pray, shouldn't we believe enough to expect an answer? Aren't we making the same mistake ancient Jews did who thought that the Messiah would arrive in a blaze of glory, and then rejected Jesus because he didn't fit their idea of how things would be? Do we overlook answers because they don't come in the way we expect?

Now, all that said, we're fine. Really. Calm even. Vaguely unnervingly at peace. Which is extra-odd knowing me.

January 03, 2006
My Husband's Child

Mostly people see me in our children. I refuse to believe this is because they mostly see me as childish ... but that is neither here nor there.

Sometimes I see such a blindingly obvious genetic inheritance from my husband that it gives me pause.

Cassie is a charmingly beautiful child. Three years old. All girl. I try to offer gender neutral options, primary colors with clean lines versus pastels with lots of ruffles. Cassie looks at me like Iíve lost my mind and whispers firmly ďPink. Ruffles. Flowers. Hearts.Ē Which is not to say that the similarity to my husband is that he likes to wear pink ruffled dresses.

Rather, itís the way they both know what they want and are not afraid to firmly explain it to the rest of the world. Politely, but firmly. Very very firmly. And repeatedly if you donít get it the first time. Fortunately for them, I rarely yield to this tactic ... its not good for anyone to get their own way all the time ... but thatís neither here nor there.

Occassionally the rest of the world catches glimpses of the depth of similarity between my husband and Cassie.

Remember that Cassie is only three years old.

A few weeks ago, Cassieís Sunday School teacher was getting the class ready for a skit in a program on Sunday night. Just a casual program that involves each of the Sunday School classes doing a skit or singing a song or reading a poem. Its fun for the kids, very low pressure for everyone.

Cassieís teacher told the class that everyone would be dressed as shepherds (which is an easy costume involving brown towels). Cassie calmly informed her that SHE was not going to be a shepherd, that SHE was going dress as an angel. The teacher stuttered something along the lines of ďbut everyone else is going to be a shepherdĒ which didnít phase Cassie at all, as she reiterated her position. The teacher stammered ďummmmm, ummmmm, well, I donít have an angel costumeĒ to which Cassie just looked at her and, politely but firmly, slowly said ďThen weíll need to talk to Mommy. Sheíll have one at homeĒ

The teacher gave in! She was so mesmerized by Cassieís poise and determination that she actually gave in! And not only did she allow Cassie to dress as a sparklely silver white angel while everyone else was a beige brown shepherd, she made the costume herself! I was astounded.

The teacher mentioned to me later that she was SO impressed with the fact that Cassie "could negotiate and arrive at a compromise, which is a skill you rarely see in young children". THAT is another similarity to my husband. People often think heís negotiating with you when in fact he is simply helping you adjust in stages to your new reality. I donít think of that as negotiating, more along the lines of brain-washing. Who would have ever thought that a three-year-old would have a natural talent for that!

UPDATE: Have you ever wondered what happens when the unstopable force crashes into the immovable object? Well, Cassie just refuses to talk! Last night she had a problem. She absolutely refused to tell my husband. Wouldn't even speak. I finally figured it out, fixed it, and talked to her about it. I pointed out that Daddy could fix things too, and often did, and took good care of her, and NEXT time wasn't she going to just tell Daddy in the first place? She looked up at me, suddenly calm, smilingly whispered "no". I shudder to think! How could I end up with one more stubborn than her father! WHAT have I done to deserve THIS!?! (Note to Readers: that was a rhetorical question, there will be NO speculation about my own childhood :)