Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Advent!

I love, love, LOVE Advent! Everything about it smacks of hope and joy and love! I was so pleasantly surprised to find the wreath with the pink and purple candles on the alter when we arrived in church today. It is a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of our great God who lovingly gave his only son to us! Wow, aren't we lucky. So we clean, decorate, buy gifts, and participate in family and community traditions. We look to St. Nicholas as an example of kindness and giving. Everyone becomes more forgiving and tolerant, something I need a lot of right now. When I taught CCD and religion I always shared the story of "Jesus is coming to dinner". Here it is:

Ruth went to her mail box and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:

Dear Ruth:I'm going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I'd like to stop by for a visit.
Love Always,

Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. “Why would the Lord want to visit me? I'm nobody special. I don't have anything to offer.” With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. “Oh my goodness, I really don't have anything to offer. I'll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner.” She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents. “Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least.” She threw on her coat and hurried out the door.

A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk...leaving Ruth with a grand total of twelve cents to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm.

“Hey lady, can you help us?”

Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn't even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.

“Look lady, I ain't got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and, well, now it's getting cold and we're getting kind of hungry and, well, if you could help us, lady, we'd really appreciate it.”

Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad and frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to.

“Sir, I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I'm having an important guest for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to Him.”

“Yeah, well, okay lady, I understand. Thanks anyway.” The man put his arm around the woman's shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley. As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.

“Sir, wait!” The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. “Look, why don't you take this food. I'll figure out something else to serve my guest.”

She handed the man her grocery bag. “Thank you lady. Thank you very much!”

“Yes, thank you!” It was the man's wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering.

“You know, I've got another coat at home. Here, why don't you take this one.” Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman's shoulders. Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street...without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest.

“Thank you lady! Thank you very much!”

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit and she didn't have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox.

“That's odd. The mailman doesn't usually come twice in one day.”She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.

Dear Ruth:
It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thank you, too, for the beautiful coat.
Love Always

The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.

It always brings tears to my eyes! It is a reminder to see Jesus in others, to prepare for his coming by treating others the way we would treat Him. That we will be okay and He will take care of us. Today we will start preparing by digging out the tree and spending the day with each other and enjoying it. We will watch the gently falling snow and reflect on the meaning of Christmas for us! Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Book Reviews

Thursday is Library Day! Every Thursday my children and I go into the library for a "Wee Read" program and to pick up 4 books to bring back home and read. My eldest is in her element! She is SO enthusiastic, the librarian said she didn't think she's ever seen a 2 year old so excited to read stories! This is the only time she will sit still and do what she is told for that amount of time of her own will. She's putting on a front.

Last week I got 4 of the most wonderful books, entertaining to children, but also a little something for the adults (aka non-mindnumbing). Here they are:

Claire and the Unicorn, Happy Ever After by B.G. Hennessy and illustrated by Susan Mitchell. It starts with "and they lived happily ever after. The End." Then the adventure starts, when Claire drifts off to sleep and finds herself flying on the back of her favorite stuffed animal, Capricorn the Unicorn, through a magical story land in search of what makes someone happy ever after. So cute, and perfect for that toddler who just won't go to bed!

Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk. Showing the softer, more refined side of spiders and insects, this book teaches kids many different things without being painfully obvious, something my child is all too aware of and resistant to. A genteel spider attempts to invite a systematically increasing number of bright, colorful insects to tea, not for sinister intentions, but because she wants company. An inspiring warning against judging a book by it's cover.

Three Samurai Cats, a story from Japan retold by Eric A. Kimmel, Illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. A classic, a doggy daimyo's castle is overrun by a wicked fat rat. He seeks help from a Senior monk, who sends him one samurai cat at a time. The first has his ass handed to him, as does the second. Then in limps the most decrepit, pathetic cat. An underdog story, the sad cat defeats the rat by letting him defeat himself, teaching an important lesson; why do today what you can do tomorrow... or soaking dishes in the sink for a couple days before you wash them is perfectly acceptable... or cleaning up is overrated... something like that!

Once Upon a Time, the End, Asleep in 60 Seconds, by Geoffrey Kloske and Barry Blitt. You know the story, it's late, you're on your last story, 3 stories later, and your kid is fighting sleep like a rabid weasel fights a badger. So you cut out a few words (or pages) to get to the end faster... someone wrote a book like that. Fastest version of Little Red Hen and Goldilocks, ever!

So there you have it, great books, I encourage you to look 'em up! Now as for what I'm reading: The Florist's Daughter by Patricia Hampl. This author came to my husband's school for a book reading. I have mixed feelings about it. Although a memoir, this woman, you can tell, is a poet. It is so beautifully written I don't want to put it down. However, the disdain and contempt for her average parents in middletown boring depressing St. Paul drips off the pages like soggy raisin bran flakes ooze out of a pillow case...(how did they get in there?!?!?!) Not to mention the book starts with the painful account of holding her mother's hand as she "lets her go", and recounts every painful memory of how she just wanted to get away from the safe middle, middle class, middle America, because life was just too average to die there. I don't know why, but I just can't put it down no matter how much I want to. That and I've only ever walked away from 2 books, because once I get started I'm loyal to a fault. So its quite a conundrum because Jeremy has met her and claims she has not a shred of disdain or contempt, but really loves her family and life... hmmmm? I'm guessing the book will end in a completely predictable confession of her enduring love from the perspective of hindsight. But I could be wrong.

My next book will be The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon for my cold war class. I hope it's suspenseful, I hope I can follow it with my cotton ball head!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Culture in the middle of Iowa?

Sometimes God sends breath into your soul to lift you up and refresh it! Last night was one of those nights. It's been a week of way too much time at home, and way too much time with my darling children, and after retiring the TV entirely for the entire week during the day, I had the sad realization that watching it actually improved my mood throughout the day. But it's better that way, I should read more and engage my children in things more.

Anyway, it was Friday night after dinner and I was exhausted and I was maybe giving off the vibe that I didn't want to go to Divine Word College to see the Japanese drummer performance. Snoring, no make-up, in puke ridden clothes. It started at 7, Addie's bedtime, my zoning time, and it would be loud... I know, I'm officially old. But then my husband said something magical... "Lets swing by McDonald's and get an iced coffee." (It doesn't have crack in it like D&D, but its the next best thing because of all the sugar they put in it for that immediate jolt)

So I drug my sorry butt up and dolled up a bit and we loaded the clan into the mini. When we arrived we sat in the back in case we needed a quick escape. And then it started. 3 beautiful girls dressed in Kimonos, doing a slow and entrancing dance to two large drums, and then they whipped out their drum sticks and went at it on two even larger drums. The drumming was like a dance, hands, feet, heads, torsos meticulously choreographed. They threw themselves at the drums, and away from them. It was like watching the passionate painting of Jackson Pollock, but without paint, and more beautiful. The vibrations seemed to reach right into our core and vibrate loose good feelings.

And the most amazing part? Addie LOVED it! She clapped, danced and smiled and was riveted the entire time! Even Emily seemed interested as I bounced her to the beats.

Go check out the website and

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lurking in the dark.

In my search for adult entertainment (get your mind out of the gutter!) during the day while staying home with my darling children who are oh-so-intellectually stimulating, I have taken up my father's daily tradition with a "morning read". I go to my sites that are saved on my favorites or on my blog and I read what other people are writing and doing.

These sights are not only a wealth of information, they are a connection to the outside of toddlerdom world. A community of like-minded people that I find interesting. And they comment to each other and get to know each other, become friends and lend support.

But I lurk in the darkness, on the outside, voyeuristic like. I find postings that I would like to comment on, and then a little voice in my head, an evil, ugly, vile voice that says ever so smugly,
"You have nothing to contribute. Who wants to hear what you have to say? You know nothing and your comments will be mocked by all others. Why don't you just go back to your own little blog and keep your thoughts to yourself?"

I know! So mean!

Soon I will creep out, regardless of this stupid intruder to my intelligent self.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mrs. Personality

41 TO 50 POINTS: Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.

43 is what I scored on Dr. Phil's test that Carrie sent me. Really? Do people really see me as this? It's nice if they do, but can 10 questions really define me? Maybe. I like to think of myself as intelligent, wanted and needed.

This is what the Chinese Zodiac has to say about me, born in a horse year... appropriate, knowing my mother's love of horses:

Horse people have a balance of the best kind of qualities. Have you ever seen a wild horse on the beach, with flying mane and flaring nostrils, every muscle bursting with life and je ne sais quois? Without a doubt, the Horse is the standard for grace, strength, rhythm and nobility. They have an amazing capacity for hard work. As a result, they know great success and financial security in their lifetimes. Often quite ostentatious, they enjoy being with large crowds and always seek out the grand and magnificent. They need people and have a weakness for those of the opposite sex. You can often find Horses at concerts, music festivals, and the Super Bowls of life.

Lately, I've been feeling like I've been lacking in my life, a little homesick for my old life. We have achieved a lot of what we have been wanting out of life, so now what? Does this mean I need a hobby? Maybe I should get off my lazy butt and get a job!

Soon enough! I must remember now is a gift, that's why its called the present.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Glamorous Life

Why being a parent is "glamorous" based on what's cool and in style:

10. It's a reason to drink... a lot.
9. It's a reason NOT to drink a lot (baby 2 is the result).
8. New wardrobe (because you've gained weight).
7. Wearing sweats and bandannas is Bohemian.
6. Going to rehab or jail is in style... (doesn't that sound nice? 5 to 10 in solitary confinement, meals made for you and no one screaming "MOOOMMMMYYYY!!!!")
5. Flakiness is cool.
4. Knowing the words to the latest dance hits ("Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog!... it's hot, right?)
3. Scheduled intimacy with a perfect stranger in a place where someone could walk in on you at any moment! (when did she learn to open doors!!!)
2. Night life starts at 7pm.
1. "Eu de bebe vomet"... it's french.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where have I been?

Well, I finally have a tentative quiet, long enough to sit here and type out a little something. What I have been doing I have no idea. Well, the quiet is over, as soon as one hit the bed for a nap the other has awoken. It always happens that way. Just a brief catch up.

Well, if you could see my kitchen, you'd wish you never did. Same with my bedroom which has 4 very large heaps of clothes. My little one has been puking so much I am drenched in spit up. She has exceptional aim, completely missing her bib and burp rag every time. I went shopping with my mother and found a great second hand store! So much cute stuff, nice and clean. Addie finally has dresses and black shiny shoes, which she has been begging to wear non-stop. Emily has more pants and sleepers.

I went to my new doctor and everything looks good. I'm down to pre-preggo weight, just not size... how does that work? So not fair! I'm not doing so good on the workout stuff, or getting up with the alarm. (any more its before the alarm) I have been doing an online calorie counter. It doesn't like me.

And I'm still not all there. For example, I sent my husband an e-mail forward, and 2 hours later I didn't remember what it was about. I just knew it was funny. Also, the insurance guy called and asked if we could come in for a chat about something. I couldn't remember why. So, there we were in the guy's office trying to figure out why we were there. Heck of a nice guy though. We really like him.

I got one 1/2 hour nap in, which was more of a cruel joke. I could have slept for hours. Things have been drab and blah lately, so I have chalked it up to grey skies and too little uninterrupted sleep. This will pass and I will be able to be a perky and happy mommy again soon.

And now they are both up! Cruel!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My baby is sleeping in a big girl bed for the first time! My baby! Holy crap, I don't think I'm ready for that. I just want to cradle her in my arms and never let go. I almost want to go wake her up... almost.

You know what this means? One more step towards not being able to protect her. Those rails, those bars of her crib protect her, contain her...

...protect the world from the unleashed blonde fury she is about to become...

World, watch out! Here she comes...

Be the change you want to see in the world.

The truth is, no matter how awesome or terrible our president is, the thing that makes America great is that we are a bunch of doers. It doesn't matter about the 80/20 rule either, as long as the 20 are strong, and I am one of those 20. So, to make my world a better place this is what I plan to do:

1. I am going to research how to become a Made in America shopper. For me it is not the price, it is the convenience that is a challenge. I need to be able to do one stop shopping. But I think with a bit more planning I could do better. For example, I found out that Starbucks is a USA company, even though they get the beans in South America. However, online I found a Hawaii company and I can get free shipping if I spent over $45. A pound is about $9. That would last about 11 weeks. I also found out that LL Bean and Lands End is made in the USA most of the time, and according to mom they tell you if its not. I can order their stuff out of catalogs and online. Unfortunately, although we avoid Wal-mart, my favorite, Target rarely carries USA stuff. I'll need to think a bit more on this but I'll take baby steps. I guess the real disappointment was buying mandarin oranges and teething rings from China. Do they make EVERYTHING?!?!

2. Raise my kids "right". And "right" means the way we see fit. I will teach them to be smart, independent, kind hearted and generous. There is a difference between right and wrong, and they will know it.

3. Vote. From here on out I will vote for the one that I feel is closest to my beliefs.

4. Speak up. I want to keep track of my local politicians and send them letters on how I want them to vote for me. I won't forget who they work for.

5. Get involved. I have already started by volunteering at the local school, participating in activities at the library, and to lector at church. I will try to take advantage of opportunities that come my way.

So there you go, and off I go, toddling with baby steps.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And now what?

This is what I think:

We will have to see what happens now. The next four years could be wonderful, with change for the best, equality for minorities, a recovered economy and peace throughout the world. Or they could be horrible, with censorship, a new kind of racism, a John Galt Exodus, and an appeasement policy that will encourage attacks on us and our allies.

I'm nervous, but I keep reminding myself that our behemoth of a government moves at a snails pace, even with one party in power. The disappointing thing is nothing is going to change. Government needs to get smaller, step out of the American's life, and go back to being of, by, and for the people. These experienced professional elitist bull politicians and their cronie media have blocked the chance for regular people to be included. Some of them that went to the most prestigious schools in the country are no smarter than the average person, but got in because of influence or money. And the ones that are that smart, there's something loose.

When will we get a legitimate 3rd party choice, because the Democrats are not what they used to be, and the republicans aren't even republicans? I don't feel represented anywhere, and anyone that does has been drinking the kool-aid.

It will be one for the record books. But we will be fine come hell or high water.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted, now where's my coffee?

Starbucks, that's pretty cool! Do you deliver?

I VOTED! Yay! I was awakened by the lovely chatter (aka screaming) of my precious (aka demonic) two year old at 5:40am (aka way too wicked early) today. I slunk out of bed and began researching the Iowa ballot, because I didn't know who my district people would be. I looked up my federal rep and senator up for election and their challengers. Then I looked up my state rep and senator and their challengers. I felt I made an educated decision. We packed up the girls and went to the community center where I was happy to see the "vote here" signs.

I filled out the sign in sheet wrong, I didn't put my last name first. Shoot, idiot. To be fair, I was trying to keep Emily's vomit off my coat. Then I sat down at the table and hid my ballot from my husband behind the cardboard privacy box. I hide my vote from him because he acts like he doesn't care but I know he would copy. Cheater.

I was cool with my picks until I got to the really local stuff like judges. I filled in the space if there was noone running against them, but the ones with competition I left blank. I forgot that might be on there. I don't feel comfortable voting for them if I don't know them. I did however try Carrie's approach of picking a name that sticks out at me, but none of them did that for me, so I left it blank. That makes me sad, like I'm giving up. But I have hope that other people know what's going on. They also had a section that asked if these people should be allowed to serve again, yes or no. I didn't get it, so I left it blank.

I voted to amend the Iowa constitution from saying idiot and insane to a more pc term. I don't like it when they refer to me that way!

So bottoms up this evening, may it all turn out for the best!

Oh and I voted for _____________. Use your secret decoder to identify my candidate.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Stuffed Duck

She's sick of the election too!

We all know how she feels! After hours of fighting it, she's finally passed out, face mushed against her tray, drool pooling.

I will go vote tomorrow. We are going as a family up to the little community center where I'm hoping is the right spot. If it's not, the discovery early in the morning will give us time to figure it out. I'm a little excited about it. I kind of feel like it's the night before a big snow storm and the news is predicting 4 feet and no school. I don' t know why. I don't think it's any big hope for change, we all know that's not going to happen. And I'm not rooting for the guy I'm voting for like I would my base ball team. What I like is debating the issues like I know what's best for the country. I like observing the action and witnessing the history in the making. I imagine what historians will write about this event 50 years from now.

I feel like making a speech to America like I would give to my 4th graders. "I expect you to do your duty. I expect you to act like the good ladies and gentlemen that you are. You are representing your country and you know how I expect you to act. You will live up to my expectations... or else."

I predict that it will be close. If it turns out for Obama, I hope that McCain doesn't whine and he backs out graciously. I am not hopeful for an Obama loss, because the media has been hyping the polls more than Lucas hyped the 1st episode of Star Wars (movie 4). And we know how that turned out. People have been drinking the cool-aid a bit too much, and they will be devastated if he loses. There will be a bunch of finger pointing and stolen elections accusations.

But maybe not. Tomorrow evening you will find me entrenched on my couch with a cup of hot cocoa (okay, more like a bottle of beer or two), hoarding the remote control and throwing dirty looks at my husband for each snide cynical remark he makes. Because we are in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, 3 balls and two strikes, and something's gonna happen! Here's to "hope" and "change" and "less taxes" and "more drilling" and Mavericks and Socialists! GO USA!