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Monday, December 29, 2008

off kilter

left leaning

It always takes me a few days to recover after Christmas. On the 26th, my easy-going nature gives way to Neurosis, and I want just a little order.

I haven't quite managed it yet, but I'm getting there.

And I can't wait to dive back into blogging later this week. Until then, I pray the New Year ushers in hope and peace in your corner of the world.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry, merry christmas! ox

Blessings to you from my family, to yours.

Edited to add: I'm going to take off a few days, to hang out with the fam before reality sets in again, and Greg is on the road. (He's been working from home; I've been spoiled.) I'll be by soon. Until then, enjoy your holidays. God bless.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

adaptions and birthday wishes

I know the snow and ice has made travel difficult for many, making commutes miserable. Church has been canceled. Struggling businesses are sure to feel the (lack of) heat.

And I don't wish hard times on anyone. But secretly: I have found I love the snow. I like driving around with a shovel. I like walking to visit friends when the drifts were too high. God help me, but I loved having my husband work from home; watched the kids build forts without fear of showing the house.

We have relaxed in ways we haven't in months. My house is a wreck, but we have been at ease.

My only deep regret is that we can't be with my Mom and family today to celebrate her birthday and Christmas. They're still buried in it, and have been working hard just to keep their generator going. This wasn't the plan.

But icicles are forming; the temperatures are slowly moving up and this snow will melt away.


winter journey
It will be bittersweet; no more nights lit up from below.

early on, during the snowstorm
And we will adapt and celebrate with you very soon, Mom. Until then, know we love you. We love you, very much.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

adventures in winter

So, it wasn't a fluke. The wintery weather appears to be here to stay, at least through most of this week. The kids are making the best of it.



I didn't see them for long stretches today. Between outings - at least until the freezing rain began and they gave up on the Great Outdoors - they nuzzled up to a set of computers and joined the Club Penguin Mafia, hollering across the hall to meet up at the North Pole or some such nonsense.

I was awful close to mocking this computer socializing until I remembered, that, well, I blog and facebook and twitter - that I've modeled making friends online for years now. So, I kept my snarky Mom comments to myself.

And I surprised myself: I took a trip mid-day down to Trader Joe's, in the snow and ice.

(That thud just now? My Dad just passed out.)

I was a little nervous and a lot concerned about the lack of road on my journey, but I've been hoping to make my own enchilada sauce out of Nourishing Traditions, itching to give it a try with the broth I'd been simmering all day.

I had a few scary moments, but for a girl that has battled a driving phobia since 16, it was exhilarating. The sky did not fall, my car stayed on the road, and I came home ready to watch the snow continue to pile up, while I read next to the fire.

I feel positively merry.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a week in review

I'm another year older and apparently, I've used up all my words. A blogging crisis ensued and I've been awfully quiet these days - here and at your place. I know. I'm usually so chatty.

But we've had snow and snow days and days when the kids stayed home and there wasn't any snow left over.

I managed a mall trip to see Santa with another blistering headache - Hi! I'm a walking barometer - and the kids palavered with the dude in red for a few minutes, verifying their generally nice status, while I thanked the Dude above for not having to wait in line.

(It's a Christmas Miracle!)

Greg worked from home most of the week, and we were all able to swing Lexi's Winter Concert.


I tried new recipes and made my family wait while I took a picture of dinner.
I mailed off Christmas cards, with no letter this year, just brief personal notes.

There was wrapping.
(not rapping, silly)

And volunteering at the school, and baking, and checkups, and coffee with friends now that the snow seems here to stay.

It's been a full and busy and satisfying week.

How about you? How are you holding up, during the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

finally, a prescription for the holidays

After sledding on a grassy knoll - the snow was fleeting - I stopped off at a friend's house for cocoa and this clip.

I knew you'd love it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

snow day dashed

While most every other Portland area school shut its doors today, our kids are being troopers, like most of the nation and headed for the bus. Except we are 40 degree rainy weather big crybabies, so I've seen my share of drama this morning, as both kids earned advanced degrees in Storm Tracker/School Closure Announcements - the esteemed STSCA, bound to be very marketable someday - studying the news ticker with steadfast fervor.

Did I mention I was the object of their scorn when their district wasn't listed? I bet you gathered as much. I did hear great murmuring directed to the lucky children of Precious Lambs Academy or Lovenest or School, something about Precious Lambs are stupid and who would want to be a dumb lamb, sure signs they shall be a delight in class today.

So, I'm off to finish a few errands and then to the school to deliver cakes and volunteer and to shoot stern motherly glances at my children if they dare take up complaining again.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

38

I started taking a picture of myself on my birthday, a quick snapshot to commemorate the day on my blog.

To mark my place.

These 38 years have been good to me. I hope to spend the next 38, spreading all that good around.

***
"Women are like tea bags; they don't know how strong they are until they get into hot water."

Eleanor Roosevelt
A quote on a plaque from Stephanie and Jen

I tend to favor calculated risks. Maybe they are sure things, masquerading as challenges; I don't know. But I plan to shake things up a bit this year.

I'm ready for a little heat.
***

And happy, happy birthday to my sweet 6 year old nephew, Austin. I hope you get lots of birthday snow tonight. You rock, dude!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Merry Christmas! I have a blog.

I was up late last night, deliberating Christmas cards - whether or not I believe in them any more. I mean, I feel like I am everywhere, all the time, over-sharing ad nauseam the minutia of my life.

Christmas cards have lost their luster in an era of moody rants and untouched pictures.

And as for a letter? I'm tempted to go with:

Merry Christmas!
I have a blog.
Be blessed.

Somehow I don't think the elderly folks on my list would understand.

So I ordered some cards. I will write a letter.

But deep down: I'm over it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

new love

My birthday came a little early this year.

Let the love affair begin.

(Our *old* laptop is pouting on the floor. I feel for her, being cast aside like that. But she's been temperamental and moody, overheating at times. She needn't fear. My kids are drooling over her, laying claim.)

Now excuse me while I fiddle with my new toy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

another post that mentions moving

I came across this picture yesterday, some evidence of snow here at our house, soon after we moved in five years ago.



I can scarcely believe it's been five years.

Lexi is on the cusp of finishing elementary school and Zack is growing up strong and healthy, after many health scares and too much speech therapy.

I've made amazing friends; had great adventures.

My kids are in crazy love with their nearby cousins.

I'm still crazy in love with Greg.

Our lives are sweet - sometimes boring, sometimes hard - but sweet.

When I stare out my window at the For Sale sign, I remember I had my doubts moving here. I just didn't know what was in store for me and really how could I? We just pulled the trigger and landed here.

And somehow that helps when I am restless; when I want to know RIGHT NOW where we will be in 6 months, a year.

I'm trusting it will be just fine, even when I'm nerves are shot today.

Friday, December 05, 2008

santa's elves do not shop at Michaels

I hesitated at the door. I had already been cut off in the parking lot and the aisles looked treacherous, women clutching 40% off coupons with a fortitude usually reserved for warfare.

I guess that's appropriate to some, those determined to lose their everloving minds during the holidays.

I guess I shouldn't expect much from Michaels. (Just ask Mrs. G.)

But I've been hunting for a pan for weeks now, the ever elusive mini-bundt pan, to bake little rum and gingerbread cakes for family and friends - oops, act surprised - and the Craft Store That Causes Psychosis had received new inventory, to suit my purposes.

I grabbed the pan and ran through a rat maze of aisles and boxes and wuzzits and whozits and assorted decorative shrapnel until I came to what appeared to be the end of the line. That is, until some very cranky, rather short woman peered over a cardboard kiosk, ready to bicker with me about who was rightfully there first, now that we had lines forming behind each of us.

Now, Reader, I pick my battles. If Cranky Grinch Lady thinks I am going to engage in her crazy on a perfectly sunny day in December, she is wrong. But if she thinks I am going to take the heat from the throngs behind me, she's certifiable.

After some verbal wrangling, I let CGL go ahead of me and suggested we all could take turns, getting some support from a gentleman behind me, regretfully sent into Michaels on an errand, and in charge of the people behind him, bitching and complaining.

We slowly moved forward as another register opened and the woman behind me starts asking - and please explain to me how I became Line Manager, in December, at Michaels - why we are in one big line, and were we specifically told to do it this way by the employees, and complaining. She began to interrogate me for the third time, even after I stooped to being curt with her, and I was ready to tell her to step right up and cut in front of the mob, but then I remembered my Invisible Cloak of Line Authority and realized my pan and I might never be heard of again.

I was done. I just stopped talking, and ignored her outright, which was hard to do. She tapped her foot, and kept complaining aloud - to me, to herself? - and I just stared at my pan, my precious pan, and wondered how my family would react if I came down with a case of seasonal agoraphobia.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

memory

I leaned forward in the shower, to shave my legs this morning, dislodging a hymn I haven't heard in some time: The Lord Bless You and Keep You. I think that's what it's called, and it came rushing back in harmony, all four parts. I'm certain we sang this at the end of devos - sans the red hats, devotionals held every Sunday night - and I am standing in a parking lot, near a Joy Bus, on a trip to Mexico. My friends are on either side of me and now I recall I once knew this song in Spanish too, but memory is tricky.

Beneath the surface lies everything.

My cousin came to visit last December, arriving on my birthday and joining my family for coffee.

No. That's not right.

I could have written this post last year, if the story was just that simple.

My cousin came to visit, this is true. But the rest is difficult to tell, because it's the stuff I try to keep out of my blog. The side of the family that requires a flow chart.

This is not my cousin's fault; it isn't mine. But our shared Grandmother charmed seven men into marrying her - one twice - and the rest is part of our shared history.

It is tangled and messy and painful. A graphed tree; splinters.

My Dad was the youngest and grew to be a kind, decent man, intact. For his sake, I haven't written about his family here. I've been warned not to speak poorly of the dead, but long ago I chose to speak truthfully about her. I chose to view her graciously, to see my Grandmother for the flawed woman that she was, most likely mentally ill and untreated. But the collateral damage is sweeping.

I heard my older cousin's voice, and it's the voice of the young woman braiding my hair. My memories of my many cousins are scattered, like characters in a book I knew once upon a time.

She was playing with my hair and I could feel her grief even then. It was the last time I saw her, or so I believe, before she was rescued and raised by her father. Somewhere warmer and safer.

I don't know why exactly, but I haven't kept in touch with her. It's been a year this time around and I am ashamed.

******
I couldn't finish my novel in 30 days. I am not writing autobiographical novel, not ostensibly anyway, but the stories I keep private, that aren't mine to share here? They keep informing my fiction, coming out. Bits and pieces of thoughts and images, not facts, but impressions sifting through my words.

I couldn't finish my novel in 30 days because I wasn't emotionally prepared for the emerging characters, making themselves heard.

I am uneasy. What is mine to tell?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

gratuitous Christmas jammie shots

On my Christmas list for the kids: New jammies. Zack is fairly well covered because he is in good with the hand-me-downs. (From other boys, I might add, though he might look quite stunning in pink.)

But Lexi is sporting old sweats, functioning as capris now. She is outgrowing everything, passing 5 foot with nary a glance back.

It was time I sprung for some goods.

And of course exploited them for blog fodder my own personal gain.
They are not always the most cooperative in my quest for a sweet picture, in front of the tree.
Sass-mouths.
They both asked for 'baby' jammies. I swear I did not push footed sleepers on my kids.
(But secretly: I love them in them. Even now.)