Monday, December 28, 2009

Almost my anniversary

This year as we were decorating the tree, I was the one who shattered the nice big glass globe ornament. It is amazing how thin the glass was, which could only be seen once it was broken. It had been beautiful, but in a way it was a relief, as sometimes I wish all those fragile ornaments would just be gone. Although they are some of my favorites. They definitely remind me of childhood and Christmases of old.

This year we made gingerbread men and rolled out Christmas cookies with frosting and all the candy decorations. We had an open house and I even forced people to sing a few carols. I don't know why nobody likes doing that. I love it! Of course I'm playing the piano so I can't actually see anybody, but I can feel them grimacing, and my husband tells me it is so.

I played my Christmas cds and ordered all the special shows via netflix for the boys. There was snow, so the kids were out playing in it making it feel even Christmasier. This year I got such lovely Christmas cards. Last year was a pretty motley assortment, but this year was really good.

Anyway, my anniversary is coming up. This will be our 25th. It hardly seems possible that anybody could stand to be around me for that long, yet it has happened. And we are on our second batch of kids. It is really kind of scary being this old. I guess I didn't realize that we would be starting to feel the effects of aging soon after these new ones were born. Of course I thought I never would age.

Our second two boys are so much like our first two boys it is freakish. It actually confuses me a lot. They even look like the older two. The older now is like the first oldest, the younger like my older younger son. The biggest difference is that my current oldest freaks out. My oldest son the first time around is very calm and even tempered. But other than that, so incredibly similar.

So with these little ones we won't be going anyplace exotic for our 25th anniversary. My sister-in-law even offered to take them if we went. But it's just too hard to leave them for that long and go that far (we were thinking Hawaii since my older younger son is there). They still get colds all the time, and sometimes they get bad. My mommy sense is just not letting out that much leash for me at the present time. But the day will come. With the older ones I wondered, would it? But it definitely did.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas thoughts

I am easily confused. I remember in abnormal psych in college, they said something about how schizophrenics, I think, either focus in too much on the tiny details of everything so they get overwhelmed and confused, like everything is fragmented; or they overgeneralize and have a grandiose, oversimplified, skewed view of the world. Well, I can actually relate to both those points of view.

In an English class we were reading Sylvia Plath's poetry and there was one where she was terrified by the redness of some flowers. We were talking about, "what does that mean?"...the endless speculation of college students...Anyway, I didn't have to think about it, I already felt it. I knew just what she meant. It made perfect sense to me. But I couldn't explain that to my classmates. To me it was just, "duh." I actually don't know how I ever got good grades in college.

Anyway, I am not trying to say I'm psychotic or anything, though of course as an over-drinking, self-absorbed college student I probably thought so. But it hasn't actually panned out that way. I'm just your average borderline neurotic suburban housewife. But I am confused. I do have a problem with sorting out just which details are important and which are irrelevant.

Like, just in framing a picture--Do I want the hawk in the view or the extra small barn...a front angle or a 3/4 view, include the feet or go for a close-up? This is why I love digital cameras. You can take a hundred photos of something and then just delete the ones you don't want when you see them enlarged right on your computer screen. Same thing with writing on the's a breeze. But not everything is digital.

I get overwhelmed easily and am extremely disorganized. I have a lot of trouble categorizing things. I will literally get rid of things I could actually use just because I can't figure out how to store them. You should see my tupperware cabinet. Yes, a whole cabinet devoted to tupperware, well, and office supplies, aprons, and dish towels. And yes, it's a mess. Every once in a while I will straighten it all out, stacking the little containers in their matching rows along with the proper tops--after weeks of just whipping the stuff in there randomly and slamming the door shut before it can all topple out. My husband always compliments me when I organize the tupperware cabinet. Now, he is a Peach.

But anyway, I have trouble with people. My emotions are, and have always been, way too big for me. I love people so much, but I'm also terrified of them. When I was little I didn't like pictures, like artwork, that had people in them. I felt that the people ruined the picture. Funny. And that was before I became antisocial (largely due to school bullies). But now my favorite artwork is portraiture. In fact I was trying to do portraits for a while, in pastels. I really liked it. People are so fascinating, so complex. Every single person is so amazing--The many facets and the whole picture.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Well, I don't know quite what to write about today. Last night my husband asked me, "So, what crazy thing are we gonna do next?" He was referring to our penchant for doing majorly off-the-track things, like, having two kids in our forties, after our other two were grown. Or when we put a huge chunk of our home equity into a vacation house up in Michigan. We also homeschool. Actually we homeschooled our two oldest all the way through highschool. We became born-again Christians in our early thirties, although that wasn't exactly something we can take credit for. I guess it all began early in our relationship. We were two messed up kids, and we really decided to get married on the fly.

You never know how life's gonna go. Although I really wanted to have more kids, by the time I finally got pregnant at age 39, almost 40, it was so shocking to me that I didn't get over it until my son was over one year old. I really thought it would sink in when he was born, but it took longer than that. It is interesting and wonderful to note that, right around the time I became pregnant, I had a special experience one morning.

I was praying and worshiping God by my sliding glass door. It was very sunny. The sun was beaming down on me and I felt such incredible joy. I was just very happy with God, and accepting at that point of the idea that we were not going to have any more kids. We had fostered, tried to adopt, but it became clear that that wasn't going to work out. But I was really okay with it. That morning I had read Psalm 37:4--Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. And I was truly delighting in the Lord that morning.

Right around that time I visited my neighbor's church. He was the pastor so I thought we should. His talk was also on Psalm 37:4! It was really wonderful. I never took it to mean I would get a baby, or anything else I wanted like that. What I thought it meant was that the desire of my heart is God, and if I would only delight in Him, I would truly come to know Him more. Well, that was a reality too, but He really surprised me that time!

And true to form, we had another baby four years later. I guess we both just like to be different. But we have found that there is a reason why most people do things a certain way. Our way is, um, I think sometimes it's called "doing things the hard way." But hey, easier isn't always better!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Aunts

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!--Ps. 139:17

I have a good number of aunts. There are: Pat, Jakie, Audrey, Deedee, Jeri, Priscilla, Julie, Barbara, Linda, Susan, Sue, Lorelei, Phyllis, and Kathy. Now I don't know all of these women well but I can tell you that they are all remarkable and admirable, each in their own way. I am truly blessed with my aunts.

There have been a couple of divorces in my parents' lives, so it gives me more aunts but also more fragmented relationships with them. However, I do not want to leave this earth without immortalizing these wonderful ladies in my infamous blog. My aunts are a part of me. They influence the way I see the world and my place in it.

I'll just start with Pat. Pat was born on the same day I was, in of course a different year. I think I have always been special to her because of that. Anyway, she sends me a birthday card every year. Sometimes I remember to send her one. I'm not good about sending birthday cards. Pat is the mother of three grown children, and now has one granddaughter. She has always loved children. She sends my children gifts at Christmas and their birthdays--usually books. Pat is a librarian.

She is creative. She writes Haiku for a little magazine and of course she loves to read. She did play piano but I don't know if she still does. She used to sew as well. When I was very small she made me the most exquisite dolls of characters like Pinocchio. Unfortunately, I did not take care of the dolls and discovered that they were stuffed with nylon stockings. I no longer have them. I wish I did.

Pat is always happy to hear about and receive pictures of my kids. It is very encouraging to have people like that in my life. She also cheers me on with my painting, though I really don't have time anymore to do that. She pretty much supports me with whatever I'm doing. Pat loves cats, she always has a couple. Usually a Siamese. She has had a couple of mean cats. I can never understand keeping a mean cat, but I guess somebody's gotta love 'em.

Pat has a very cool house. It's a Spanish style, stucco with a bright orange tile roof. She has lived in that neighborhood since I was a kid. It is integrated, which was always very colorful to me and somewhat foreign, as I always seemed to live in strictly white neighborhoods. I guess, too, her town has a different feel from being closer to the city. Those old Coca Cola signs blistering off the sides of buildings, places like "Maricela's Beauty Shop" and the old neighborhood corner grocery are things I remember.

Pat has influenced me in different ways. Some of her ways are just infused throughout my being, like from being in her home as a child, liking cat knick-knacks, homemade afghans and pillows. I don't know quite how to describe it. It's a comfy feeling, a permission to walk to my own drum beat. There is no way to pigeon-hole Pat. Though she is very meek and quiet, you can be sure she is doing things exactly the way she intends.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Neighborhood

I am one of those people who likes to move. Every few years I get the itch. It probably is never for a good reason. It probably is because deep down I long to escape--me. A couple of years ago we tried to sell our house. My husband's company had decided in their infinite lack of wisdom to move his office to the big city. We live a 2 hour commute away, about as far out as you can possibly get from that bustling metropolis. I am a country mouse, not a city mouse. Well, probably more of a suburb mouse, but I would be a country mouse if that were possible.

Anyway, I figured, I can't stand the thought of my husband having to travel that much. We have always lived within a half hour of his work place. It is a standard of living issue: our quality of life. Time is more precious to me than I can describe. Every moment I can be with my loved ones, I want to. So, although the office move would take a couple years to complete, I thought, "hey--if we're gonna move, let's roll." Remember, I was getting tired of my own skin in this neighborhood anyhow. Maybe a different place would be good. We could move closer in, near a train station. Maybe we could even find a bit of culture. Maybe it was time for an adventure, or at least a change of scene.

So we got rid of lots of junk, did some repairs, and put her up for sale. That, by the way, was right as the housing market was beginning to collapse. I thought we might even find some kind of bargain... Well, not too many months later, we were taking that for sale sign down, woefully telling our already battered realtor that we'd had it. We knew that no one was going to buy our house. We were not moving after all. We were staying put. No new skin. No new scene. Just less junk.

Here's the great thing, though. In the time since that happened, a lot of wonderful events have come to pass. We live backing up to a field in a neighborhood with a good amount of kids, nice kids. My son, who is now 7, is just to the age where he can run around with a pack of them every day after school. They play football, or guns, or soccer, or whatever...they just have a blast. He is really in his element. I love to see him out there, playing his exuberant heart out. What a great set up! Also, my 3-year-old tags along, the little brother all the bigger kids look after and the girls love to baby.

And I've gotten to know my neighbors better. There are many people who are to me like points of light in this neighborhood. We've met in various ways, through kids or open houses or church...and we are building relationships. Even in this skin. I've shared many joys with people in the neighborhood, and had the privilege of sharing pains. I've had a couple of women open up to me with their hurts, and spent some good time sharing with them. I like this very much. I know that I am on this earth to minister to these women, to care for them, to pray for them and their families, to love them as I am loved.

I have also had the great pleasure of being encouraged, and of laughing with people, and of partnering with a couple moms around here who are also homeschooling. I am starting over again at this. I already have two grown sons. I need now to meet new friends (without casting away the old) but friends whose kids are going to be my little kids' friends. I think I was beginning to get lonely. God kept me in one place just long enough for me to poke my head out of this turtle shell, instead of running away on a moving van.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


One of my facebook friends had a status of writing one thing she is thankful for each day for a couple weeks up to Thanksgiving. I thought it was a nice idea so I did it too. It has been really fun getting to choose something each day to post. The trouble is, of course, there are way many too many things to list at just one per day. Still, it got my head to thinking that way, which is a very good thing for me. In fact, as time has gone by I have been thinking more and more each day about all that I am grateful for.

This is not a novel idea I know. I have heard for many years about how making a gratitude list can really help your attitude. The Bible constantly reminds us to give thanks, to our good. But, let's just face facts: I am a self-pity addict. Yuck. Not only that, I am negative and crabby. I am Whiney the Complainer. I see the flaws in everything, am critical to a fault. And if I'm not picking apart something outside of myself, then I become the victim of my own merciless fault-finding.

However, the Good Lord has seen fit to give me a cheerful husband, some honest friends, a good bit of Hope, and a sense of humor. And music--what a wonder, music. It can squeeze the anguish right out of me and bring me to tears of joy. What a gift from God is music!

Anyway, Thanksgiving. I didn't want to have Thanksgiving this year. I just haven't been feeling very peppy and I didn't really have the energy, mentally or physically, to deal with it--I thought. It's not how I picture Thanksgiving anyway. Not a big family gathering here; just my parents, my husband, my two younger sons, and me. I thought to myself, "well, I'll just try to lessen the stress...I'll buy stuff pre-made. Like, I'll buy pies and canned cranberries and prepared stuffing mix so I won't have much to do. Last year the food I made really wasn't very good anyway."

Well, I took my bad attitude to the store which won my business by having the most stuff I would need at the best prices, after coupons. Although I did have to waste about a half an hour in there getting my total up to the required amount to use said coupons (my idea of a part-time job.) Of course both the pies and the stuffing mix had high-fructose corn syrup (a.k.a. toxin) in them, so I decided to just make my own. However I did buy the canned cranberries containing said toxin because I had to stick at least a tiny bit to my original "de-stress" plan. At least I wouldn't have to make the cranberries. Plus my mom would be bringing the green vegetable, and I'd skip the corn--cornbread stuffing (with homemade cornbread) instead.

So today in my kitchen, dutifully preparing the cornbread and pies, I'm listening to Beethoven's violin concerto and thinking, "I just love this music; I am SO THANKFUL for music! Yes I need to remember that for tomorrow's post." And it came to me--I don't often think God is speaking directly to me--I don't hear an audible voice. But somewhere deep in my heart of hearts an idea was forming that was totally not my own.

This idea was, "I should be THANKFUL that I am having Thanksgiving here! That I have a home, that I have parents, and that they are coming! That I can honor them and serve them--that I can honor God and serve Him in this way! That I can make pies, that we have so much, that I have these two little boys, that I have my dear wonderful husband, that we will all be here to give thanks to God for all He has done for us! It is a PRIVILEGE. And I was just exactly like the Grinch who stole Christmas at that moment when his grinchy face gets that sweet smile, and his eyes tear up. When his heart changed. That's just how I felt.

This is how kind my Savior is. He shows me for sure that He is there, or rather, here. I know that God is God and I am not, for certain, because only He can change my stony heart into a heart of love and joy overflowing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ronald and Uncle Chris continued

God is love. (1John 4:8) Jesus is God. (John 1:1,Col. 1:15) So when I read the definition of love, 1 Corinthians 13, I am seeing a picture of Christ. According to this passage:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.-ICor.13:1-3

So, without Christ, every good thing I do is worthless.

Anyway, on to verse 4: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." These are characteristics of Christlikeness. Patience, kindness, contentment, humility. These are attributes which I have clearly seen in the attitudes and actions of both Ron & Chris. It is important that these qualities have been modeled to me by these men, because although they are qualities that Jesus would have, I do not have them. It is helpful to see love actually displayed through a person, revealing the possibility of such a thing for me, a glimmer of the glory of God shining through mortal man.

Ron's kindness, Chris' kindness are not the sort where you just smile and think mean thoughts about the other person. Their kindness is genuine. It reaches out and embraces the other person, giving them the benefit of the doubt. It is the willingness to be hospitable, to listen, to give you the shirt off their back, with no expect for return. These men would talk nice about people behind their back, would see precious qualities in others that most would overlook.

Patience is something that is easy to spot. I guess because it's the lack of impatience--which is so common. Ron will spend his time doing what I want, or what the kids want, never fretting over 'his' precious time, not complaining or telling anyone to hurry up or trying to push his agenda. Chris was not one to be in a hurry either. I have one fond memory when I was very young, of him pushing me on a merry-go-round. He was 'laid-back' as they say, so is Ron. Chris loved to spend time with people. One time he actually corrected me because I was being very impatient with my son, Chris, who was taking too long getting ready to go as we were running late.

But patience and kindness are not just mindless qualities bestowed equally on every situation. I have a horrible temper. Over the years Ron has put up with me and my moodiness to his credit. However, his patience and kindness toward me in no way condone my wrongdoings, rather, they make me the more ashamed of my apparent lack of maturity. But he doesn't hold it against me. It brings to mind this verse: "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Rom. 2:4 Here again, Ron showing me a picture of what God's love is like, what Christ is like. And truly, my temperament has gotten a lot better, to the glory of God.

Uncle Chris, too, was extremely patient with me. I know that I disappointed him by not visiting, when it would have been so easy to do so. I can't imagine how I would have felt being there alone as he was. He had asked me to write down some music for him. I tried to once and it was very difficult for me. I just don't know enough to do it right. But at the end of his life he had something he had composed in his mind that he really wanted written down; he asked me to come and try to write it down for him. I never did. So that's how it was between us. I was not good about my half of the relationship. But he was always patient and forgiving, and I see the mistreatment which was hurled at Christ on the cross.

So, I have only skimmed patience and kindness, save the rest for later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Uncle Chris and Ronald: part two

In the Bible there are what are known as types of Christ. For instance, Noah's ark was a type of Christ, in that, all in the world would perish unless they were found in that ark. Jacob had a vision of a ladder or staircase to heaven while he was in the desert which Jesus later described as Himself: "you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." John 1:51 There are many more of these but I just wanted to get the idea across of what a type is. Particularly a type of Christ.

It is an illustration of the One you can't quite see, to help you understand, or recognize Him when He comes. Also to know more about Him, His characteristics, in a larger and more beautiful way. The whole world is full of illustrations of the beauty of Christ. Here is another one Jesus gave, "unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24.

Here is my point, which you can probably already guess. Both my Uncle Chris and Ronald have been to me like examples of Christ in my life. I don't know why I chose to mention them together but here it is.

Both of these men have known some pretty bad things about me. Maybe Ron more than Chris, but let's not forget how I abandoned Chris--the one thing he ever asked me not to do. And yet, they have both loved me, unconditionally. They have both shown extreme patience, with me and others. When Ron was little he spent a lot of time in hospitals; Chris spent the end of his life in them. I don't know if this produced some of the strength of character I see in Ronald. I know it was a test for Chris; it was difficult. They are both men who have known something I don't; they have known about suffering. Jesus was "a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering" Isaiah 53:3.

There is much more to say about this. I will continue at another time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ronald: part one

My husband doesn't want me to write about him in my blog, but I have to write about what's on my heart. After all, that's what my blog is about. Ronald is my husband. We were married almost 25 years ago. I never dreamed I would marry a man like him, as I didn't ever imagine a man like him might exist. I couldn't have dreamed him up. He is a man who now is so close to my own soul that, as the Bible says, we are really one person. I can tell you from experience what the saying 'my better half' actually means.

When I first met Ron, I thought he was very mysterious. He still is. He is not like me, talking all the time, he is quiet. He listens. He is thoughtful and slow to speak. The Bible says this is wise. He has a strange way with animals. When we were dating I noticed this. If we went to the zoo the lions and other creatures would look straight at him. I thought it was weird but cool.

He knew about everything I didn't. He knew a lot of advanced math and science and had read a lot of fiction and stuff I have no patience for. He would tell me the story of "The Hobbit" and I would fall asleep. He was very kind, and his friends were kind. He is still this way. He has some odd friends; peculiar acquaintances. He never gravitates toward people because of their "usefulness."

Ron is so unbelievably giving. He works day in and day out, never even asks to see his paycheck. After working all day long, he sits down and plays games with our little boys. He helps me with the dishes. He puts the kids down for bed and reads them stories. He gets up with them early on Saturday mornings and together they make pancakes.

He never complains. He actually likes doing these things. He is so completely unselfish compared to me. I mean, I know that he is imperfect of course. He has faults. But, he is just so much more caring and loving than I am; it just is a constant wonderment to me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Uncle Chris: part one

My Uncle Chris had multiple sclerosis. He died in October of 1995. I know this date because of two reasons, one good, one bad. The good reason I can remember the year is because it was the year in which I decided to make Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. The bad reason I can remember the month is because I had not been to see him since July. It was a horrible realization, when my dad called and told me Chris had died, that I had not been to see him in the state-run nursing home for almost three months. The reasons for this were many and stupid. But mostly, I simply hated going there. Just because I didn't know what to say or how to act.

Chris wasn't just my uncle, he was my favorite. We had a very special relationship for a couple of reasons. Chris had been divorced and lived with my Grandma Lou, as he was in need of some assistance. They lived in the same town as my parents and me. They both worked at the family business with my dad, until Lou retired, and until Chris was unable. So I saw them both frequently. Chris was a gifted musician. I loved to hear him play piano; it literally brought me to tears. Even as he got sicker and made mistakes in his playing, his heart and soul came through so beautifully. I really can't explain it. Maybe this is why I love Murray Perahia's playing so much. It somewhat reminds me of Chris'.

Another reason my uncle Chris was so dear to me is that he introduced me to the Lord. I mean, he never sat me down and prayed the "sinner's prayer" with me. But at a crucial time in my life, when I was 15 or 16, he gave me a New Testament, his New Testament in fact. It had giant print because he couldn't see very well by then. I still have it, of course. I had never had a Bible before. I can remember looking all the way through it trying to find the ten commandments. Of course, they weren't in there; it was only a New Testament and they're in the Old Testament. But anyway, that's how much I knew. Chris did tell me two things to read: the book of John, and 1 Corinthians 13. These are still probably the things I should most be reading.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Today was a busy day. The kids were sick-ish and I was working on a quilt-ish, and at around 3:30 p.m. I knew it was time to come up with something for dinner. To my happy surprise I found a complete spaghetti-with-meat-sauce family dinner in the freezer, previously tupperwared by myself, leftovers from some recent oversized meal.

I am a master at defrosting--completely undaunted by the fact that underneath the meaty tomato sauce was a mass of frozen mixed noodles--spaghetti and fettuccine. I surmised the situation and simply ran a little warm water around the container, releasing the frozen block sauce down into my beloved heavy bottom 3 qt. saucepan, added an inch of water and put it on low heat.

This is boring, I know. But here's the thing: dinner was not. You see, leftover spaghetti is kind of a snore, especially for Friday night. But how bout some baked spaghetti? Oooohh, or better yet, baked spaghetti-ish! Yes, we had an -ish dish for dinner. I think you get it already, it's not exactly baked spaghetti, it's baked spaghetti-ish. You see, I actually don't even know a recipe for baked spaghetti, so, after heating the leftovers, I layered it in a baking dish with cheddar cheese and there you have it!

The -ish dish was born out of need. When you lack an ingredient(s), what else will do? I make -ish dishes all the time. Alfredo-ish, lasagna-ish, Double-Tree get it. The guys always want to know if it's an "ish" or the real thing. I don't see what that matters--it's all good. But the -ish is not limited to my cooking. No, recently I have taken up making quilt-ishes and I also now have a blog-ish. I also sing alto-ish, teach homeschool-ish, have a degree in English-ish, and play piano-ish. I paint-ish and dance-ish and every so often go on a date-ish with my husband, where we usually end up at Woodman's grocery store on our way home.

I have absolutely no idea how to quilt, or write a blog, for that matter. I guess for many things in life I just like to wing it. I'm not saying that's good or bad, just maybe my little bit of adventure in a life that is challenged mostly by monotony. Not that I mind that. Everyone's job has its hard parts, and its rewards. The rewards of mine are great.

Well, then there's also the part that I hate to read instructions --I inherited that. But yeah, welcome to my blog-ish, where you never know just how things might turn out.

Monday, November 2, 2009


There is something I love about seeing those big green overhead highway signs, something that makes me feel like I'm breaking out on the open road, going for an adventure. Usually since the road is several lanes wide, you get a big view of the sky, adding to the excitement of what's ahead on the horizon. I guess I have a lot of fond memories of going places to see people I loved via expressways, from a very early age.

Every time I see one of those signs, to this day, I think of my grandparents, Hank and Marna. I have vague memories of traveling with them up to Wisconsin, and of stopping in those touristy cheese houses. I used to have these little tiny souvenir mice with some sort of real fur and a little leather tail that I got there. I was very small, and loved my grandparents very much. I called them Hank and Marna--not Grandma and Grandpa though I don't know why. I also called my Grandma Lou by her first name. Weird.

When I was fourteen years old I ran away from home. I was riding along with some much older kids, and we were on the highway going halfway across the country. I was sick to my stomach the entire time, distressed about worrying my parents. But there were those green signs again, and somehow the sight of them gave me comfort--a feeling of security. Fortunately, we ran out of money fairly quickly and were able to get back home; gas was much cheaper then. Unlike most other things, the green signs haven't really changed.

Many many years later, married with children, my closest friend moved 900 miles away. Her kids and my kids were best friends too. We missed them terribly of course, so we did the crazy thing and decided to drive out there in our beater station wagon--"road trip!!" The beckoning green signs encouraged us on our way. It felt good to do something completely different, to throw caution to the wind and just go.

When we bought our home here, one of the things I looked for, as I always do, was the view out each window. I am very insistent on having nice views out as many windows as possible. One of the things I really love about this house is that out almost every single window is a beautiful view. We back to a park,our neighbors' homes are lovely and well kept. But we are very near a highway. It is not loud or bothersome, but let me tell you about the view out my bedroom window. There is the neighborhood skirting the parkland, but just over the tops of the houses and through the trees is a happy sight to me. A green highway sign is just visible after the leaves fall. It warms my heart. Silly, but it does.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why Fight It

There is so much evil in the world, everywhere you turn. As I was driving from the library to the store I flipped past a radio program where they were discussing human trafficking. I did not want to hear about it. I feel like I can not handle one more thing at this point. It is as though there is an avalanche about to happen in my brain and one more grain of sadness will topple my sanity. That is, except that I know there is a God, and He does have things in hand.

I know a lot of people can't understand how He can even let these things happen. But I contend that it is we who let them happen. God doesn't want people to hurt other people, as He has stated clearly in His Word, and yet we do it anyway. He has commanded us to protect the weak, the vulnerable, and we don't. The point I am getting to is this: we have to keep on fighting evil, because evil will not stop, will never rest, and when we stop fighting we give up ground. By fighting against evil, which we are equipped to do, we are carrying out God's desire not to let these things happen.

My son is in Afghanistan, fighting for at least two reasons I am aware of. One is that we were attacked, on our own soil, by terrorists who might consider that area a safe-haven were we not there. I truly do not understand how people in this country can have already forgotten the 9-11 attacks and cannot realize that what our military has done and is doing is to protect us from similar attacks. If this battle can be fought on the enemy's territory, isn't that better for us? Do we really need bombs to be going off in our neighborhoods to realize that we have an enemy who has vowed repeatedly to destroy us?

Another reason he is there is to help protect the innocent people of that area. It may be hard to understand what it's like to be in a situation so desperate as many many people in the world are. I began to understand when I saw "Hotel Rwanda." Another movie which expresses the extreme evils we are fighting in Afghanistan is "The Kite Runner." If we are so blessed, so rich, so powerful as a nation, don't we have a duty to rescue others who are suffering? We have the capability. Further, we have men and women who want to do it. Even if it means laying down their lives.

There are many humanitarian efforts going on I know, and of course those are necessary, but the bad guys are always going to be there. They are not going to just be nice. We need soldiers and weapons and we have to be willing to fight. We cannot even offer humanitarian aid without soldiers around to make sure it is received.

I am well aware that there are oppressed peoples all over the world. We can't save everybody. But I have three thoughts on that subject. One, we are already in Afghanistan, why cut and run, or even worse, why fail, why lose when we can win? While politicians and pundits bat around what we are to do, the Generals, the ones who are there and actually know what's going on are saying loudly and clearly, "We need more troops!" Can you imagine if we didn't give it our all in World War II? The enemy is giving it their all. Why aren't we?

Second, if we want to avoid future struggles with nations such as Iran, we need to be strong. We need to send the message that we will fight, and we will win. We cannot afford to be cowardly and indecisive. We must stand up and stand firm.

Third, remember the story about the lady saving the starfish on the beach?

A traveler was walking along a beach when he saw a woman scooping up starfish off the sand and tossing them into the waves. Curious, he asked her what she was doing. The woman replied "When the tide goes out it leaves these starfish stranded on the beach. They will dry up and die before the tide comes back in, so I am throwing them back into the sea where they can live."

The traveler then asked her "But this beach is miles long and there are hundreds of stranded starfish, many will die before you reach them - do you really think throwing back a few starfish is really going to make a difference?"

The woman picked up a starfish and looked at it, then she threw it into the waves. "It makes a difference to this one" she said.

In God's eyes, even one person is precious in His sight, and we must never give up fighting for that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


"Quoc" is the nickname my older boys gave me when they were younger. It stands for "Queen of Complaints." Not so complimentary, right? Being a homeschool family we are, or were, pretty close. I am not one to hide my feelings anyway and so maybe the boys knew a little bit too much of what was going on at times. Whether it was at church, or the library, or a restaurant, or a store; if there was something I had a problem with, I let whomever know about it. After all, that is what the Bible says to do--go directly to the person you have a problem with.

Of course, that could be at times embarrassing to kids, hence the name "Quoc." They would caricaturize me as a crazed grumpy old lady charging menacingly at, let's just say, the Pastor of our church, with him muttering under his breath, "Oh boy, here comes "Quoc" again!" Well I don't know, maybe he was saying that! I really tried not to be crabby, but I admit sometimes it may have come across that way. It didn't seem to affect anything at church though, or the library, or the public school when we had foster kids.

But, where it has paid off is in the world of commerce. In those restaurants and stores where, being non publicly-funded, they understand who the customer is. Well, church is sort of out of either category, but it needed to be included in this discussion.

For example, just today I received an email that I would be getting a free box of chocolates to replace one I had bought which arrived slightly squashed. They were delicious still, but a huge part of the appeal of a box of assorted chocolates is the appearance. I sent the company a note describing the problem, only to suggest that they figure out a better way of packaging, not asking for anything. But they volunteered the new box. Who am I to complain? ;)

I've also been awarded a $20 coupon for merely suggesting that a delicious meal at a fine restaurant was put off-kilter by an unkempt washroom. And there have been many other times when my "complaining" skills have paid off. But, let me say, that I wasn't being rude or unreasonable. I was actually trying to be helpful.

I am in favor of businesses succeeding, of schools and libraries being excellent, and of churches being what they should. I don't just "complain" to be the squeaky wheel. I like to make suggestions based on my observations, and therefore think I "Quomsbomo" would be a more suitable nickname for me. Thank you for your consideration.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Well, I do have another grown son to write about. He was the baby of the family for 16 years, until I had another baby boy at age 40. Poor kid, we always called him pet names like "Bubbles" and "Bobo" even when he was way too old for that. We couldn't help it. He was so silly and cute when he was little, and I guess we always just thought of him that way.

He is an artist, and pretty much independent of the family these days. There may be many reasons for this, none of which make me feel any better about it.

I knew things about my babies the moment I first saw them. I knew this boy was gifted. Well maybe it wasn't the first moment with him. It was a particularly rough delivery. I've had four c-sections, two good, two bad. They went good, bad, good, bad, which may partially explain the huge gap.

He was always obsessed with monsters and the dark side. He also exhibited his artistic creativity at a very early age. Even as a toddler he would make up puns and clever jokes, and sculptures with found objects. He loved to make things out of cardboard and tape. I would save all our recycleables for him in a big box. At birthdays and Christmas he would get rolls of tape. We discovered a special kind of scissors, after he broke several regular pair. We called them "cardboard cutters" and I think they were actually made for paramedics. We originally found them I think at American Science Surplus, one of my son's favorite stores. They had all sorts of weird stuff in there.

He really did make some amazing things out of garbage. He actually made a working pinball machine once. I think the balls were wads of rolled up masking tape...He also made really cute pop-up cards and never forgot anyone's birthday or Mother's & Father's Days. He was a sweetheart, with a soft little voice that I loved to hear sing. But he was also crazy and wacky and really funny. He was forever wearing some get-up. He'd have on a coonskin cap, sunglasses, armor, a backpack & moon boots, or some comparable attire.

Anyway, I also wrote a poem about him when he was a baby.


Fat-cheeked two-toothed little thing
Crawling at me like a maniac

What amazes me most
Is how you really need me.

Wise baby
Watching you know all
That you do
I feel you've always been here.

Einstein haired sweaty baby
Curling your toes in glee,

You may be
A budding genius,
My funny valentine.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I just went to find the poem I wrote about my oldest son as a young mom, and also found a poem I didn't even know I had written more recently about Lou. So, I'll post them both. I am not a good writer, but in college I had a lecherous professor who tricked me into thinking otherwise. Anyhow, I've written some not-particularly-good poetry, but it expresses some of what I feel and I'd like to share it.


Birth, the final frontier--

What surprised me most
About you is that
You are so earthen.

Pink breath baby,
You erase all doubts
About whole hearted love

Each day swelling now

Coming back to myself with a new friend,
Wanting you to like what I liked
Seeing you to be different,
You offer me your bottle

Traveling the map of milestones
First tooth, first step...
None of it is quite as thrilling as
The day to day living with you.

How I Miss Lou

Part of me died with you
It is just black there
Why didn't I know that before

You were the one I could
Show my work to
I wanted to be your favorite

You were my model
I miss you so much
Why was I so guarded

Our relationship seemed distant
But now my heart tells me different
I wish I knew you better

I don't know where you are
I want so much to see you again
I want you to be in Heaven

There is nowhere to go with this hurt
No one to talk to
No escape

Army Mom

My oldest son is in the Army. This is a photo of him at the time of his commissioning, as he graduated from college. Those are not his children, they are his brothers. What is most crazy about this is that I have two kids, ages 24 & 23; and two, ages 7 & 3. Quite a gap. Same marriage.

Anyway, my big guy is currently in Afghanistan, having left his new bride this year, just a couple months after their wedding. I really couldn't be prouder of him even if he were the president of the United States. He is there because he wants to be. He wants to do that hard job, and feels called to do it. After I saw "Hotel Rwanda" I understood much better why he is doing this. Not that I was ever against it, it's just that I've have had my head in the sand most of my life and especially in matters of the military. Like, for instance, not growing up a Christian either, I didn't even know that Calvary and cavalry were different words, much less what either of them meant.

I wanted today's blog to be a funny one, but there really isn't anything funny about it. My son & I have a very close relationship, and fortunately, we can talk fairly often via instant message or even phonecalls. He is doing well so far. I have sent many packages and letters and learned that you can send stuff to soldiers just via the regular mail. You don't even need special stamps. Also, I have been forced to become much more serious in my prayer life which is always a good thing. I know that I have a real part to play in what is going on over there, and it is in lifting up our men and women before God, and asking my friends and family to do the same.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I started feeling bad about knocking the French last time, especially as I was just emphasizing to a friend the other day that I am not a racist. Anyway, Lou was a fantastic cook, and from her I learned to love to eat many things that might be attributed in some way to her bit of Frenchiness. I don't know, maybe.

Anyway, when I met my husband, things that to me were totally normal good things to eat he found somewhat exotic. He comes from a Dutch heritage. In fact, his ancestry is 100% Dutch. Pretty unusual around here. For instance, he had never eaten eggplant or artichokes. Lou introduced me to eggplant, which I love, and many other things that without her influence I'm sure would not be standard fare for my family. I liked just about everything she made, even tomato aspic. I don't actually make that but I do make eggplant a lot, and corn pone (which she taught me how to make)--remember, she was also from the south. She could make the best fried chicken which is a skill that eludes me. There were many other dishes she made, and because of her I also like okra.

My Grandma Lou was a very gifted painter. Unfortunately, her husband died of a heart attack at age 45, leaving her with 5 kids and the family business. Not much time for painting after that. I didn't even know she played the piano. She was very up on etiquette, which used to annoy me when I was young and stupid. Now that I've encountered plenty of the lack thereof, I see her point. When I was little she used to drink bourbon, I think, and whenever I smell that (which believe me is infrequently) I remember her. Also the smell of applesauce, and red linoleum kitchen floors. These are very early childhood memories etched into the core of my being.

Lou was an absolutely beautiful woman, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. She was a little above average height, I think, and had great legs. I always agreed with her taste in clothes. Classic. She loved Chopin, which I still don't get, but is not surprising because she was very smart and it's probably just over my head. She did crossword puzzles all the time. Dell crossword puzzles, and "Dell Crosswords Crosswords" is the only magazine I subscribe to.

Lou told me when I was a young mom to read the Bible to my children, for cultural literacy. I did so, and guess what? In the process I found out that it wasn't just a book of myths, but the Truth, and the answer to my deepest needs. Thank you, Lou. Miss you. Love you.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I've been thinking about my Grandma Lou lately. She died a few years ago and I really miss her. I was up in Michigan at our summer cottage and found an old book she had given me. She had written inside the cover that she had loved it as a child, and that my great-grandma had helped her find a copy for me. The book is entitled "Lady Jane," and it is a weird book, but my Grandma was from Louisiana and had a bit of French weirdness to her. Not in a bad way, just very unfamiliar to me. I really don't get the French. They eat disgusting things and like strange entertainment. My husband knows what I'm talking about. Our code word for it is "harlequin." But I digress.

The fact that she mentioned my great-grandma, Grandmother Raymond, made it even worse. The tears began to flow. How I wish I could have known them both so much better! They were two remarkable women. What is really stupid is that the main thing that kept me from a closer relationship with Lou is that I am ridiculously shy. Even with my own Grandma! Grandmother Raymond & I actually corresponded by letters (she was still in Louisiana) until I became such a self-absorbed jerk somewhere in my teens that I just stopped.

I remember once Grandmother Raymond sent me a recipe for cheese puffs. She warned me that the amount of cayenne was too much and to cut it way down. Of course being the macho fourteen-or-so that I was I thought to myself, "Yeah, well, she's in her 80's, so she probably can't handle it." I put in the full measure of cayenne. MAN! Were those things HOT!

But that was Lou's mother. Lou was my Dad's mother. Lou was my role model, but I seriously did not realize it until after she died. You can try to imagine all you want how you're going to feel after someone dies, but you never really know until they do.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


"I have all these cool thoughts running through my head..." was how the note started. It was to my closest friend Diane and we were on our 'spiritual journey' together. We would write each other letters and have long discussions about our 'discoveries' --I was just reading today on somebody's fb a quote about how there's a fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous.

The letter went on, recalling past conversations with cryptic things like, "...and the smiling people,"..." and the washing machine"...."and the photo booth..." all referencing remarkable insights we had had in our new cosmic awareness, set within the framework of a homeschool mom's day to day life.

At some level I must have known how stupid (yet sincerely stupid) my musings were. I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant with my family when I realized that the note, written on yellow legal paper, had slipped out of my purse. As I wandered about, scanning the floor of the restaurant, a woman asked me, "Are you looking for that piece of paper?" It was with great horror that I saw her point toward a table where a group of Chinese waiters were sitting around, laughing hysterically as one read my letter aloud.

I don't know what came over me, why I didn't just go back to my seat and pretend I knew nothing about that dumb letter; but I stomped across the restaurant, ripped the yellow paper out of the stunned waiter's hands, and stormed back to my table.

I suppose it really wasn't such a big deal, looking back. Such a thing probably wouldn't even embarrass me now. But I was younger. And anyway my note was probably at least as insightful as the fortune cookies.