Monday, March 18, 2013

Our Favorite Things

Does anyone have Julie Andrews in their head?  I do!  However this post has nothing to do with whiskers on kittens or warm woolen mittens (the latter being a favorite nonetheless).

Next month I've having some girlfriends over for an Our Favorite Things party.  I'm really looking forward to it.  (I love having things to look forward to, don't you?)

The aim of the party is to share, kind of grab bag style, some of our favorite little helps and treats.  Each guest is asked to bring three to six of their favorite things:  running socks, hand cream, candle scent, kitchen utensil, etc.  Then they will extoll the virtues of each item and we'll ooh and aah and take turns choosing the items that seem most intriguing.

Of course, I can't list all my items as I want them to be surprises but here's one:
It's a "Chico Bag," and I am in love with it.  I bought two from my friend Mara a few years back and I've used them ever since.  The size of a regular (gosh-awful) plastic grocery bag, they fold up inside their own little attached pouch.  The perfect item to throw in my purse that gives me many a chance to say, "Thanks, I don't need a bag!"

Being sort of a pragmatic soul, most of my gift are as exciting as this one.  But they're all the kind of things my guests will wonder how they lived without once they've used them.

Speaking of non-pragmatic things, well be treating ourselves to cookies, fruit, teas out of bone china cups, and all things girlie.  Want to join us?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sew What?

School was canceled today due to snow.  (I thought about titling this post "Snow What?")  I can't remember what got me started, but I decided to clean out all the drawers, cabinets and the linen closet in our master bath.

It took me three hours.

I found a lot of expired products.  I found a lot of duplicates stored in different spots.  I swear, we aren't hoarders (really almost the opposite), but I found more little tubes of lotion from department stores, student gifts, and the dermatologist than I know what to do with.  Check back in a few weeks when I have THE most supple of skin...

Operation Christmas Child has really been on my mind lately, and as I was organizing our bathroom, I came across something so random but a great use came to mind.  What is it?  Thread!  For some reason, during his single days, Brad bought three little sewing kits like this one (sorry for the blur):
He also bought (only) one package of needles:
 Most have gone untouched.

I've been hanging onto some Rx bottles for a while, and today I decided to use them to make mini-sewing kits for my age 10-14 girl boxes!  Each bottle holds two (or more) mini-spools of thread, a piece of felt to house the needles, and three bottles even scored a needle threader.

Because boys get fewer boxes, the majority of my 2013 boxes will be for boys.  However, I will put together some girl boxes, and any of these mini-kits I don't use will go into friends' boxes.  I still have leftover thread and needles, so over the next few months I'll put more of these together.  Add to my shopping list: scissors and small portions of fabric. 

I love how Operation Christmas Child allows me to reuse something I have an abundance of!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Operation Christmas Child Through the Year

A few months back, I started a Facebook group to keep my friends apprised/reminded of Operation Christmas Child Through the Year.  Aptly named, its title is its purpose.  This weekend, Brad and I decided it would be good to make it public.

So, I did.

I know this little blog reaches only a few people.  But I thought I'd proclaim it here and ask you all to join. 

Our church has a philosophy of bringing the Gospel to people here, near and far.  This is the far I focus on.  Each time an OCC shoebox is gifted, it is accompanied by the story of Jesus in the recipient child's language. 

Over 100,000,000 shoeboxes have been shared since OCC started.  What an amazing feat and impossible without God working through so many people.  I love being a small part of this giving, and I hope you will too.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Little Less Rockin' Please

When I was studying to be a teacher, one of my friends asked how I was going to teach spelling in a misspelled world, "You know, like Dunkin' Donuts?"  That question was asked well before the Internet was widely used, before Facebook, before blogging, and way before texting.

Truth be told, I remember her question each time I need to write doughnut and find I have to stop to think of the right way to spell it.  No wonder so many folks are spelling challenged.

I am far from always grammatically correct.  I make typos and spelling errors all the time.  But there are still a few intentionally misspelled words and goofy phrases out there that drive me a little nuts.  I wish my friends (those over 35) would stop using them in writing (unless you are writing a fiction piece in which your aim is to create a dialect). I wish I'd stop using a particular one in speech.  I wish!

They include:
kewl (cool)
guhfriend (girlfriend--and there are other misspellings)
cray cray (crazy)
adorbz (adorable)
conversate (chat)
"love me some..."  (I love)
LOLZ  (shouldn't it be LzOL for laughs out loud?)
lightening (when one means lightning)
rock (as in, "I really rock my red heels.")
sista (sister)
mutha (mother)
awsum (awesome)
ahsum (see parenthesis above)
like (spoken, it would seem, instead of um--I am guilty of this too)
"I know, right?"  (spoken)
prolly (probably)
spose ta (supposed to)

True, I am a hypocrite as I am like a lazy speaker.  True, I went from my written peeves to my spoken peeves in the above list (I'm guilty of a lack of continuity). Feel free to, color me cantankerous.  Oh wait, that's not a color, I'll have to get the Cray Crayola people on that (see what I did there?)  Tell me I'm a curmudgeon, and I will agree.  Yes, slang happens, and sometimes it sticks.  I get that "groovy," was a made up word that caught on.  I've gotten used to, but still don't like, "ginormous."  (Arrggghhh, spell check didn't even underline that one.)  I've been accused of only caring about this kind of thing because I am a teacher, but that's not true!

Help me feel less alone.  Share your word peeves, would you?   And if you, like me, use some of these, please don't be offended.  I'm just venting, I'm not "hating."

Disclaimer:  If you use such terms, I will not unfriend you, stop speaking to you, or mock you.  Please avoid doing any of those things to me.  Thank you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I am unsure what's happening, but I've been feeling this great divide from my family.  Being that I'm experiencing only what I can best describe as an alone-on-my-own-island feeling, I'm not sure what to do to get back home.

I think this is why I'm haven't been blogging. 

While I'm having a hard but so very good school year, I am feeling disconnected from so much of what used to be my world.

Friendships are good.  Marriage is good.  Mac is away, but we're good.   But my siblings are shadows; niece and nephews seem far from me.  How did this happen?  Why do I feel so far from so much of my family? 

The only person to blame is me. 

A number of years ago, one of my aunts was upset with me (understandably), and she pretty much cut off all communication with me.  She promised me she wouldn't let anyone in the family know, but in time, since she's the matriarch, I lost touch with all my cousins, aunts and uncles.  I know my becoming a Christ Follower was an issue too.  I come from a mostly Catholic or non-practicing family, and I like to question and talk about faith, and this was not popular.  So I became unpopular. 

All my fault.

About that aunt, one of my friends asked, "Would you be friends with her if you weren't related?"  As good of a person as she is--kind, thoughtful, and giving, I had to answer no.  We didn't have anything in common besides our blood. Some would say that was enough, but apparently it's not. I have only seen her three times in six years--and those times were duty calls, things I believe she did because she felt she was representing my mom.  I love her, and always will, but it doesn't seem she'll ever be part of my life again.

Still, I had my brothers, my sister-in-law, and, on occasion when she allowed a portion, my sister.

Then sister's problems deepened.  For a while, the rest of us would band together as our concern and our inability to help her drew us closer.  But that didn't last, and I the last time I sat with my family, I felt lonely.  I didn't fit.  My language was different. I felt great anxiety.  I experienced growing pains that caused a slamming awareness of a profound loss.  When I made an attempt to describe what I was experiencing to them, I did so inadequately and I was not understood.

I deepened a divide I alone created.

Again, all my fault.

I love my brothers and sister-in-law with such a big part of my heart.  I miss my creative, annoying, always late, prettier than me sister.  I hate the illness that has removed her from our lives--the only part of this story that I can not take responsibility for.

I know this is a rambling post; I could continue in this vein but I won't.  I just don't know what to do.  As I typed that statement, that want for action, I realize that I haven't prayed--not once--about this.  There is my do.  If anything comes from me putting this "out there," it's the reminder, God's voice as I type telling me, to bring it to Him.

"Hello God.  Help me change.  Deepen the hurt if it leads me to a place where connections are strengthened and all is forgiven.  I need you here, I cannot do this alone.  Amen."

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Perfect Opportunity

The house is empty.  Mac is long moved and Brad is out.  Shhhh. It's so quiet, I savor it but almost cannot stand it.  It's hard to remember when I was single and so much of my time was spent this way.

It should be the perfect time to blog.

So I sit here reflecting on my week.  As always, it was full.  As always, I came home exhausted each night.  Earlier in the week, I came home to a guest, my husband's younger son.  He stopped through on business, and we dined together.  Then I left him and his dad to talk, they don't see each other much, they didn't need me there.

As I moved from the basement to the upstairs after exercising, I did hear one thing that gave me pause.  His son, always a Christ Follower as far as I know, said he had never read the whole Bible.    Eight years ago right about now, I was getting going on just that.

You see, I started going to church the previous November ('04) and I was seriously thinking about getting baptized (wound up doing so February 16, 2005).  I wanted to see what IT was ALL about.  I knew what my heart was telling me to do, but my brain wanted more learning.

Looking back now, I can't remember where I was at this point or how long it took me to get into it, I do know I have a box of printed emails from a teaching pastor patiently answering so many questions.  I still have all the teacher aids--mini posters--I bought to help me understand what I could. I remember being really, really angry when I read Moses didn't make it to the Promised Land. I do clearly remember seeing Jesus full on in the Old Testament and how thrilled I was with each glimpse (aka prophecy).  I recall still reading into the summer--lounging on the Balcony with my Quest.

But then, at some point, I got bogged down (that sounds so awful) in Paul's letters, and I just stopped. I must have gotten through 2 Corinthians because when I came across 2 Corinthians 5:17, I jumped off the page and my heart sang.  But shortly after that, I gave up.

Of course, I didn't stop reading the Bible, but I stopped reading it in its order. Quit.  I've never read the whole Bible either.

Sitting here tonight, reflecting on my week and that smidgen on conversation, it occurs to me I need to remove that boggling mind weight and dive back in.  Brad had suggested I study the maps for each letter first, to get to know to whom the words were written--you know, the audience other than me.  I may.  Or I might just read a bit and then study those folks.

"May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace."  Romans 1:7

I have no doubt this will be slow going, but it will be good going nonetheless, and for that I am blessed.

photo source

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I woke thinking of this today.  It's a great work of writing.  Stick with it, and you'll see why. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How I Feel in This Empty Nest

The first word that came to mind as I typed this post's title is blessed.  I feel blessed.

But I have to back up.

After days of sorting, donating items to Goodwill, listing things on eBay, packing and being celebrated and then sent off by friends, Mac left for Baton Rouge on Saturday morning.

It was a tearful good-bye for both of us.  We had a good hug before he climbed in the cab of that ramshackle (truth, it broke down three times and he was stranded in Arkansas for nearly 48 hours...) truck and drove off.

It was definitely time for Mac to move out. To be fair to him, he'd only been back "in" for six months while he looked for a job locally then decided to move back south.  He's 26, and needs to be independent.  So now he is, but it's just farther away than I like.

I don't think that will ever change.

However, I carry with me this ridiculously awful perspective stick, and I smack myself with it from time to time.  On Saturday, as I cried (and laughed) while helping him with some last minute tasks, the sting of that stick made me aware:  he was meant to stop to stay at Brandon's parents' home in Tennessee that night, I needed to take my vitamin that morning, and of my blue ribbon friend Jack.

You see, Brandon was Mac's "like the older brother he never had" friend who died in 2007.  While he's with Jesus--no doubt about that--I'm certain all who love him, especially his mom, would like Brandon only a few states away.

The vitamin, well it's laced with iron because I'm scheduled to give blood soon at a memorial blood drive for my friend Helen's daughter Vicki who died in 2010.  Vicki accepted Christ only hours before her death, and while that was an amazing comfort, those close to her feel a great ache.  Helen would treasure a text message or an instagram post from Vicki.

Jack.  It's "his" blue bow magnet I adorn my car with, his youthful wisdom that reminds me and any who drive behind me, "Nothing is impossible with God."  I had been instant messaging with his mom Anna earlier that week. She had "liked" some of more weepy facebook posts about this move.  What grace she showed me while still greatly mourning her son.

So I find these moments in my life to be a walk of a blessed balance.  I must allow myself to feel my pain.  Mac is my only child and he is far away.  I miss him.  My pain is real.  But he is a text, a facebook message, a phone call, a 2.5 hour flight, and/or a 15 hour car ride away.  What great choices I have to still show love and be shown love by my son.

I have typed this entry without a tear, and those that threatened didn't pool while I wrote about the distance between here and LA, but did collect when I consider the distance between here and Heaven. 

I am blessed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Table Story Nearly Finished

I just copied this post from my old blog to this one.  I wrote it in July.  Please, humor me, read all the way through to the very bottom. There is an addition.

Last night, I spent about an hour going through family photos in order to find a picture of...a table.

I came close dozens of times, but for all the decades--six--this particular table has been in our family, it has managed to elude my camera pretty well.

In the 60s, counter space was at a premium in my parents' little ranch home.  One day, my father brought home a counter height butcher block table for my mom.  Brand new, he spent all of $5 on it.

In May of 1969, our family moved across town, and that table was cut down and used in our family room, first in that house and then in our Naperville house.  Purpose served from 1969 to 2001, family room end table. In all the years our dog Schnapps was around, he hid under it during every thunderstorm and 4th of July.   In 1988 though, my car loving boy took over that table, and while it still held a lamp and magazines, it also became his "carsandtrucks" table.  He played on it for hours a day.
When my father died and we sold the house, Mac and I got the table which we used as an end table in our condo.  See it there at the end of the couch? (This photo was snapped only weeks after moving in because those blinds went soon after!  I can't help but dig the treadmill in the living room...eek!)
I married Brad in 2007, and the table was then used in Mac's ISU rental house and NIU apartment.  It resided as a coffee table for three grad students in Baton Rouge for two years, and just this month it returned to Illinois in a stinky rental truck.  Water stained and marred, I was itching to glue the top,  which had been split for about ten years, and then refinish it.

Needing some big clamps, We took it to our friend Walt's house, put it up on his workshop bench and saw much more damage and some flaws we'd missed.  Since it now belongs to Mac, he has opted to shed its mismatched and falling apart legs and frame.
Leg--a mystery wood when compared with the top.
With Walt's help, and a little of mine, he has decided to salvage the top and find a table redesign for it.  They biscuited the top back together, then they sanded, and sanded some more. (I helped a bit.)
Not an after, but a "so far" picture.  
Once a design is chosen, supplies are purchased, and time is set aside to work, it will become a table again. 

As I composed this post, I was reminded of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree.  This table has served us--from my mom through Mac--well, and it remains important, even in its yet to be repurposed form.  Mac might not like the expression of this, but it is my hope another child races cars across it.  In time.

January 8, 2013
Mac leaves to return to Baton Rouge, a real move, this Saturday.  He will be taking the table with him. Walt, worked with him a lot, and Mac learned a bit, but they ran out of time to stain it.  I know July to January should have been rife with opportunities, but they had totally conflicting schedules until the past week.

Here's the almost finished product:
 I like that he's taking some long time home with him.  You know?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Excellent Get Fit Plan

The steps:

1)  Get famous, at least C level
2)  Get invited on Dancing With the Stars
3)  Find some coordination
4)  Be a fan favorite so I don't get voted off until I tone up.

Did I miss anything?

Feel free to pin this, it's sure to catch on.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Uterine Ablation

I've been holding onto this post for 12 months now, I think it's time (now that I know the outcome) to share it.

I happen to be one of those people who thinks talking about feminine issues demystifies them.  Periods, PMS, menopause, and all that.  Let's face it, more than half the world is female, so why is all this so secret?  The other half of us should love all the females in our lives, so a little information can be helpful to everyone.

I'm also one of those people who is not at all medically inclined, so I'm going to write only of my experience, and you can research this from there.

For years, I had heavy periods.  There was always a day or two of each month when I had to wear a tampon and a pad.  I passed a lot of clots.  About ten years ago, though single, I went on a low dosage birth control pill to control some of the bleeding. It helped some, but I still had a "heavy day" each month.

Two summers ago, I went for my regular check-up with my gynecologist, and it happened to be on my heavy day.  We talked about it, rescheduled my appointment, and she showed some concern that this was, well, a concern.  So I went through some tests.  The two I remember were an internal ultrasound and a blood test to see if I was near menopause.  The former showed nothing of concern, and the latter showed I was seemingly years away from the cessation of my periods.

My gynecologist suggested a hysterectomy.  She said it wasn't medically necessary, she talked about the pros and cons, but she wouldn't tell me what she would do.  (That bugged me, as a woman, she should have an opinion, but she didn't share it.)

I did the math.  Major surgery.  Losing parts. Six weeks off school. Using up all my sick days.  Pain.  I added that up and measured it against maybe four more years of periods--perhaps 48 more heavy days--nearly equal to the days I'd be restricted after surgery.  Since there was no medical reason to go under the knife, I opted to keep those organs.

The next summer, right before my annual check up, my friend AB and I were talking, and she suggested I talk to my (different but still a woman) gynecologist about an ablation.  So I did.  In fact, this doctor brought it up where my other doctor had not.  I researched it, I talked with Brad about it, and I scheduled it.

One year ago, over winter break, I had my outpatient surgery.  I had a uterine ablation.  I went under general anesthesia, and I was home by one o'clock that day.  There was light bleeding for a week or two after, and since then I've only had random spotting once or twice.

No cramps.  No periods. It's been a year.

It was one of the best medical decisions I've made.  I didn't want to write about it right away because I didn't know how things would turn out.  Some women still have their periods after this procedure.  Most don't.  I don't.

This is something worth sharing.  In fact, I've since learned a few friends have had it done.  And this past spring, I mentioned it to my friend Jim whose response was to tell his wife who then had one this summer.

Heavy periods?  Cramps in your forties?  Done having babies?  Extreme fatigue during your periods?  Talk with your doctor.  I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Never, Ever Lose Sight...

May you continue to be so blessed this new year.